Are You Living Or Only Breathing?

Are You Living Or Only Breathing?

You have one life, one shot, one chance, make sure it's worthwhile.
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It was Monday night at 5:30 p.m. when it hit me.

You only live once.

I was seconds behind a potentially fatal car accident. The car had pulled out in front of the truck ahead of me. The truck smashed the car, sending it spinning towards oncoming traffic. Pieces flew into the air and scattered across the road. I slammed my brakes. My car came to a halting stop.

It was in that moment when I realized you have one life, make the most of it.

Seconds after the crash, my mind went immediately to God. I prayed, prayed hard. I asked Him to heal the people involved in the crash and I thanked Him for His timing, because if it would have occurred seconds later, it would have been me.

That night as I was laying in my bed, safe and sound, and I thought of my life. I smiled at all of the memories I've made, I cried as I thought of the times I struggled, I reminisced on all of the lessons I've learned-- some of them the hard way. But most importantly, I thanked God.

I thanked God for my family. I thanked Him for blessing me with their presence. I thanked Him for always keeping them safe. I thanked Him for their never-ending love. I thanked Him for my parents, my siblings, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins. I especially thanked Him for Anna that night.

My eight-year-old cousin Anna was born with a heart defect, a hole in her heart. She is the strongest, most determined child I have ever met. She's been through seven open-heart surgeries with her first at two months old and her last before her sixth birthday, she has suffered a stroke and cardiac arrest, was told her brain had damage, and doctors were unsure of what her future entailed. She was told there could be a chance that she would never walk or talk before she was even a year old.

Anna fought, fought hard for life, and she won.

She proved everyone wrong. She defined life. She never took one single moment for granted. Our Anna is in second grade. She can walk, run, and jump. She loves sports and playing catch is one of her favorite things to do. She can talk and laugh. She is the most loving little girl I have ever met who always runs to greet you with a huge hug when you walk through the door.

Anna is a warrior, a miracle, a gift from God, and she changed my life.

Anna defines the word life. Her heart is filled with so much joy and passion. She never lets anyone bring her spirits or energy down. She embraces her differences and lives her life her way. Anna's outlook on life is something I strive for daily. I want to exemplify a positive attitude with a heart full of joy and passion and to be one who doesn't let others actions and decisions bring me down.

That night I also thanked God for my friends. I thanked Him for childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, sorority sisters, budding friendships, and even friends I've lost along the way. I thanked Him for blessing me with their love and support. I thanked Him for the lessons they had taught me. I thanked Him for the countless memories made and the silly shenanigans we shouldn't have been getting ourselves into. I especially thanked God for Madi that night.

God had a special plan for Madi and me. Honestly, it's pretty crazy to think that a year ago we knew nothing about each other and now we know each others' deepest secrets. We went to an entirely different country as acquaintances and came out best friends. Together we endured heat, sickness, culture shock, and the stress this experience brought with it. We came out stronger people and stronger Christians because of the conversations we shared and the sights we saw. Madi doesn't know it, but she changed me.

Madi helped light my fire within me once again. Before my trip, I had been suffering with finding my purpose in life. After my trip, I knew exactly why God had placed me on this Earth and Madi had a huge role in helping me find that. She listened to me, she supported me and my decisions, and she talked to me like a real human being. I hadn't felt that in such a long time. I finally felt I had a friend again, a real friend, one who didn't care about the latest party scene or hooking up with random guys, she was a genuine person. Madi is the type of person you know you will be friends with forever and I'm so glad I found her.

She helped shape my outlook on life and I will be forever thankful for her.

That night I thanked God for my country and my world. I thanked Him for its beauty. I thanked Him for my safety. I thanked Him for my freedoms. I thanked Him for our soldiers. I thanked Him for our law enforcement. I thanked him for our workforce. I thanked Him for our government. I thanked Him for education. I thanked Him for the firefighters working day and night to extinguish the flames in the Smokey Mountains.

As many of you know, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Smokey Mountains have experienced extreme wildfires killing wildlife and decimating building structures, businesses, and homes within the cities. However, many of you probably don't know about the single page from the Bible that was found by an employee cleaning up the charred rubble in the Dollywood Amusement park. The page suffered some burn damage; however, there were a few Bible verses that were still legible.

These verses stated:

"The day of the LORD is near, the day when destruction comes from the Almighty. How terrible that day will be!" Joel 1:15

"To you, LORD, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness and flames have burned up all the trees of the field." Joel 1:19

"Even the beasts of the field pant for you because the water brooks are dried up,
and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness." Joel 1:20

"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is night at hand." Joel 2:1

When you read these verses did you became scared? Fearful of the future? Worried about how much time you had left? Wondering was the end, really near? I did.

You have one life, one shot, one chance, how are you going to live it?

That night I thought about everything that I had done in my life, but I wasn't satisfied.

Are you?

Ask yourself, are you truly living? Or are you only breathing?

That night I realized everything is going to be okay. God has a plan for me and my life. I realized I had put myself under so much stress to be perfect that I wasn't really living anymore, I was only breathing. Moments spent with my family, memories made with my friends, laughing, love, that's what life is all about.

My message to you: Chase your dreams, accomplish your goals, travel the world, love your family, cherish your friends, appreciate your blessings, laugh until your stomach hurts, love someone unconditionally, but most importantly thank God for this life, because without Him our world would cease to exist.

The end of the world is going to come like a thief in the night, make sure you're prepared, make sure you're satisfied.

You have one life, one shot, one chance, make sure it's worthwhile.

You only live once.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
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Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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What It Is Really Like Having Sisters Close To Your Age

While having siblings close to your age is pretty amazing, there can be a lot of issues that can come with it.

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I come from a family of 5 people and 1 dog. I have 2 sisters, Grace and Caroline. We are all pretty close in age, Caroline being the youngest and 3 years younger than me.

My sisters and I share a bond like no one else, no one can replicate it. When you have siblings close to your age you have built-in best friends, and since they are around your age you have the same interest, or at least, enough so that you can do things that other siblings cannot. Examples of this would be seeing R-Rated movies and going to the mall without too much complaining, along with being able to shop in the same stores or even share clothes. Grace and I sometimes even split the cost of a shirt we both like.

We even overlap friend groups! Which is not much of a problem for us, Grace and I are both in music programs which overlap enough for us to have the same friends, which is great for when one of us has a sleepover, the other can join in on the fun. Caroline, however, even though she is seen as the sporty one of the 3 of us, she still has a lot of friends who have similar interests as Grace or I, giving us a lot of the same friends. It's nice not to be considered the "cool older sister", I am just like the rest of them.

While we do fight a lot, we make up really quickly, because most issues we have are stupid sibling fights: who gets the T.V., what to have for dinner, what movie to see. But it is always fun because there are 3 of us, which means majority rules, something we tend to go by most of the time depending on the situation.

Having 3 teenagers in the house can be a handful for our parents though, when you have three teenage girls going through puberty at relatively the same time, it can be grueling, especially when you are all on your period at the same time.. (yes, that has happened before) (and yes, it sucks). While I am on the topic, let's say a prayer and a thank you to my dad for dealing with 5 girls (including the dog, obviously) because he does a pretty damn good job at dealing with all of us.

When we were younger, we always had a play date even when one was canceled. We all made up songs and dances and would perform them for our parents. We even had a band called The Halsey Sisters (AKA the female version of The Jonas Brothers) where we had a hit song called "We Got The Heart and Soul". It was a hell of a time. Let's just say the music video for that song is, interesting to say the least.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't switch my sisters for anything in the world, they are my rocks, and I wouldn't want it any other way, Grace, Caroline, keep doing what you're doing, because you're pretty damn awesome.

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