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I Lead Because Others Led Me

Whenever I’m asked why I am a volunteer leader to high school students, I usually say something like “when I was a teenager, the adult leaders in my youth group impacted my life. This is my way of paying them back.”

It’s a pretty simple answer. I don’t usually go into further detail because the person is usually just trying to make conversation, not hear my life story.

The truth is, the leaders in my youth ministry made a huge difference in my life. At a time in my life when I was trying to figure out if the Christian faith was worth it, these leaders helped me answer the tough questions. As a teenager, I pretty much ignored any advice that my parents gave me. My youth group leaders were different than my parents. Even though they were adults, and many of them parents, they weren’t my parents so I listened to them. More than their words, I watched how they lived. I watched them serve alongside me on summer mission trips. I watched them keep their calm when a car cut them off. I watched them make friends with the kid that no one wanted to talk to.

They were there to comfort me when my parents divorced, when I was cut from the basketball team and when I broke up with my boyfriend. They listened to me go on, and on, about my life. They patiently sat through story after story about my crush or my latest friend drama. If you haven’t guessed by now, I was a bit of a talker in high school.

I didn’t realize until I went to college how much my youth ministry meant to me. I struggled to find a similar community in college and I found myself longing for the comfort of a group of people like my youth group. I took for granted the relationships that I had with adults I admired. As I began to make decisions in my life about how I wanted to live as an adult, I thought back to my role models in high school. In so many ways, they helped to shape the person I’ve become today.

I don’t remember every word my leaders said to me. What I remember most is the time they spent with me. I remember the weekends they gave up to go on retreats and the Sunday nights they spent with us each week. I didn’t always listen and I probably didn’t always give them the respect they deserved. But in hindsight, I’m very thankful for the impact they made in my life.

[This post is dedicated to Bryan Morton, a former youth ministry leader who was full of energy and a great example of a loving husband to his wife Carrie (also a fabulous former leader). After fighting a brave battle against cancer, Bryan passed away early Saturday morning. Thank you, Bryan.]

Appearances Aren’t Everything

When I was in seventh grade, overalls from The Limited were all the rage. If you wanted to be considered popular, you needed to have a pair of overalls from The Limited and you needed to wear them with only one strap buckled.

I did not own a pair of overalls from The Limited. My family didn’t shop for clothes at name brand stores like The Limited. My wardrobe was limited (so to speak) to clothing that was sold at department stores that also sold tires and home appliances. These stores also sold overalls, but they were always just different enough to be obvious knock-offs. Some had patches, while others were lined with flannel. Overalls from The Limited had no patches and no flannel lining. Instead, they had a little white square on the front that proudly displayed “The Limited.” I could look forever in Sears and JCPenny, but I was never going to find a pair that said that.

I never asked my mom to buy me a pair because I knew exactly what she would say: “Why should I spend $50 on a pair of overalls when JCPenny has a perfectly adequate pair for half the price?” Answering her with a line about how the popular girls all wore overalls from The Limited was probably not an answer that would hold much value to her. Even if she did respect my answer, I had always assumed we were poor so I wasn’t going to push my luck with expensive overalls.

While I never had the right pair of overalls, my best friend did. I tried to convince myself that this made me popular by proxy. If I could not have the coveted overalls, at least I had a friend that could. I think she might have even loaned them to me once or twice. I remember being so jealous of her. How easy life must be for her in her popular overalls. She must just walk through the hallways on a fluffy white cloud knowing that she has what it takes to be popular. On more than one occasion I thought to myself, “If I could only be like her.”

A few weeks ago, that same friend and I were talking about our days in middle school. I was a little surprised to hear my friend say how much she hated middle school. Hated? She hated middle school? I questioned her statement and she told me how awful it was always trying to be popular. Trying to be popular? She didn’t need to try; she had the overalls. I always assumed she was popular. I assumed she had secret meetings with the other girls in overalls and they talked about how awesome it was to be popular. But no, these meetings didn’t exist. She struggled to feel popular just as much as I did. Apparently, there was more to being popular than a pair of overalls.

I wonder how many times I’ve tried to over simplify situations to a pair of overalls. The coworker who must have the perfect marriage because her husband sent her beautiful flowers on their anniversary. The neighbor who must have the perfect life because of his perfectly manicured lawn. The mom who must be the perfect mother because she is always showered when she drops her child off at preschool.

And yet, if I were to ask each of them about their lives, I’m sure I’d discover there is more than what’s reflected on the surface. Appearances aren’t everything. I find this oddly comforting. When I let go of the idea that everyone else has it figured out, I can begin to recognize that we are all trying to navigate the same world. We have our ups and our downs but we are all in this together. No one has all the answers.

Not even the ones wearing overalls from The Limited.

Control Your Cone

I have no tolerance for adults who can’t eat an ice cream cone properly.

That might sound harsh and you might judge me for it, but I stand by my statement. I do make some exceptions. I realize that there are adults who have physical limitations that make it difficult to eat ice cream cones. Throughout this post, as I refer to adults eating cones, I’m not referring to these individuals. I’m talking about physically capable adults that are irresponsible with their cones.

Have you had an ice cream cone with this type of person before? It’s as if the dripping ice cream down the cone to their fingers comes as a complete shock every single time. Yes, please tell me all about your new boyfriend and how he brought you flowers on your first date, but if you can’t manage to tell me the story between necessary licks, please wait. I’m sure the story will be just as romantic in 5 minutes when you have your ice cream in a manageable situation.

But no, these people hold their cone in a static position (aka not rotating it to monitor the back of the cone) and take tiny licks every few minutes. I’m not sure if there was some traumatizing brain freeze in their past, but it’s as if they are afraid to lick too quickly. Why do these people even get a cone? Clearly they are much more cut out for the cup option. Heck, I’ll even splurge the extra $.50 for a waffle cup if they crave the cone so much.

When I find myself eating ice cream with one of these people, I can only assume she came from an ice cream cup type of family. Perhaps she always wanted to order a cone, but her mother made her order the ice cream in a cup instead. Maybe her mother was mess-adverse and didn’t want to clean up a sticky 6-year-old covered in ice cream. Now, as an adult, she orders her ice cream in a cone as a form of rebellion.

I will admit that on a really hot day, even I have trouble maintaining control over an ice cream cone. When I find myself in such a situation do you know what I do? I stop all conversation and focus on the task at hand. You might call me anti-social, I prefer to think of myself as a responsible adult who is prioritizing very well. The conversation will still be there in 10 minutes. My ice cream will not.

As a mother, I am making a promise to society that I will not let my children leave for college until they have mastered the ability to eat an ice cream cone. I firmly believe in putting an ice cream cone in the hand of a child as soon as possible to familiarize the child with the concept cone eating.

Last week, while my oldest son was on a play date, I took my twins to Chick-fil-A to eat ice cream cones. When you give two three-year-olds ice cream cones, you must pay close attention. Every few seconds, you must remind them to take another lick. When the person throwing away trash distracts them, you must call their attention back to the cone. When their cones got to critical points, about to unleash several drips at once, I took over and regained control of the cone before handing it back. It was gross to lick after them, but not every duty of motherhood is glamorous. Trust me, I’ve done worse things.

Neither of them was able to finish their cones that day, but I saw some real progress. My son eventually stopped asking to take a bite out of the bottom of the cone and my daughter only cried a little when I told her she couldn’t eat the paper that comes on the cone.

It might take a few more years until we graduate to eating cones outside of an air-conditioned environment, but I’m willing to stick with it. I will not give in and make my children order ice cream in cups for their entire childhood. I’ve seen the damage this causes. Believe me when I say, no child of mine will mature to adulthood without the ability to control their cone.

A Parent’s Guide To Throwing Away Children’s Artwork

Yesterday, I threw away a large trash bag filled with artwork created by my children. The massive pile is the result of artwork accumulation over the course of one month. In one month my children managed to fill an entire garbage bag with artwork.

I don’t want to brag, but I’ve become sort of an expert on throwing away children’s artwork. I can look at a masterpiece and decide in minutes whether it should be kept or tossed. I haven’t always had this skill. I’ve developed it over the past three years. My oldest son’s first year in preschool was a tough one. Everything he brought home was magnificent. I wanted to display every page of random paintbrush strokes he made. For the first week I did. A month into preschool, I knew I was going to have a problem. He only went to school twice a week but the preschool artwork was multiplying overnight and taking over our house. I had to set some ground rules and I had to set them fast. In case you are having a similar issue, I’ve shared them with you below.

What to Keep:
1. Handprints: Any craft that includes handprints is a keeper. Years from now, you’ll look back in shock that your child’s hands were ever that small. That being said, watch for sneaky preschool teachers. Knowing that handprints are a keeper, you might notice an abundance of artwork containing handprints coming home. Be smart. You probably don’t need to keep two different handprint crafts made during the same week. Your child’s hand has not grown in 48 hours. Pick the cutest one and toss the other.

2. Handwriting: I love watching my son learn to write. When he started writing his name, he wrote it completely mirror-imaged, as in, you could hold it up to a mirror and read it perfectly. I thought maybe I had a boy genius until his teacher informed me this was actually very common. Since then I’ve been fascinated watching him develop his skills.

3. Creativity: I love the artwork that comes home with imperfections. When my two-year-old comes home with a perfectly constructed cut out penguin, I know that I’m actually looking at artwork created by my child’s teacher. When the penguin has three eyes and a beak where his wing should be, I know my child created it. You can’t keep all of these crafts, so choose the ones that best display you’re child’s creativity.

4. Pictures: Similar to crafts with handprints, I’m partial to crafts with pictures of my kid. These crafts seem to perfectly capture a moment in time. Not only do you see their artistic ability, but you can also remember what they looked like when they made the craft. Be careful though, teachers know that parents are a sucker for pictures. Choose your picture crafts wisely.

What to Toss:
1. Food Art: A marshmallow snowman might look cute today but in 10 years this craft will not hold up. You will find yourself pulling out a piece of construction paper with three dried glue circles and a pile of marshmallows. The same is true for cheerios. You might be safe to keep a noodle necklace, but that’s as far as I would extend the food allowance.

2. Sticker Art: My kids come home with a lot of pieces of paper covered with stickers. At first, I examined these pages and smiled at the creative placement of stickers. I wondered what my child’s creative process was when she put baby Jesus on top of the camel instead of in the manger. A few weeks later, I watched my child create one of these crafts. What I thought was a carefully planned masterpiece was, in fact, my child placing stickers randomly on a page while trying to eat a granola bar at the same time. Sometimes she didn’t even look at the piece of paper before putting the sticker down. I don’t want to sound cruel, but years from now, you will not want to marvel at your child’s sticker placement. Remember that you can’t keep everything. Sticker art is an easy toss.

3. Fragile/Complicated/Awkward Art: I will admit that this category is the hardest to part with. Last week, my son came home with a homemade weathervane made from a plastic cup, a pencil, and a paperclip. It was adorable. But here is what I know about this craft: its new home is an over-sized bin packed with crafts. This weathervane doesn’t stand a chance. Years from now, I’ll pull out a plastic cup, a pencil, and a paperclip and wonder why I saved such junk. If you must, take a picture before you toss it, that way you can still remember it.

I was going to add crafts made with glitter, but I realized the tendency to toss glitter crafts has more to do with my hatred for glitter than any rational reason to eliminate it. I will say this. Glitter is an annoying attention-stealing craft. You might only have one craft that has glitter in your craft bin but over time that glitter will disperse onto all other crafts. You will not be able to enjoy any other piece of art without seeing remnants of glitter. Trust me when I say glitter crafts are best remembered in a picture.

As a final piece of advice, let me impart to you the most critical point of this post. Please dispose responsibly. This means using the outside garbage can. You cannot casually toss this artwork in the kitchen trashcan and risk your child finding it. You might as well just tell your child that they don’t matter to you. They must never know that you throw their artwork away. You must keep an acceptable amount of artwork on display at all times on your refrigerator or elsewhere around the house. You must casually reference the bin of artwork that you keep in the basement full of their masterpieces. They must believe that everything they make is carefully being preserved somewhere. Luckily, their little minds haven’t fully formed and they don’t realize that there is no way all of their artwork can fit in such a small container.

Happy craft tossing!

Not Just A Field of Flowers

I recently finished reading Jon Acuff’s book Quitter. A few months back, I discovered Jon’s blog: Stuff Christians Like. It was one of the funniest blogs I’ve ever read. I spent nights reading old entries on the blog. Spending so much time on the blog, it was hard not to notice Jon had written a book called Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job. I didn’t really have a large gap to close. The truth is, I love my job. I honestly wake up on work days excited to work.

Even though I didn’t want to quit my job, I did have an interest in reading Quitter. In a few months, I will turn 30. I’d be lying if I said that I was completely fine with this. I can’t help but think turning 30 is like turning in your rookie card of adulthood. Your twenties are your time to mess up and do stupid stuff. Your thirties are serious. Big things happen in your thirties. When I was 18, planning out my future, I had saved both marriage and kids until my thirties. If the right guy came along, maybe I would get married at 28. I would definitely not have kids until 30. Having married at 22, given birth to my son at 24 and twins at 26, clearly I revised my plan a little.

That’s why I’m so stumped about my thirties. If I can do all that in my twenties, what will my thirties hold for me?

So when I read Quitter, I not only thought about my career, I thought about life in general. It was not always the most fun book to read. When I think about living my dream it is usually in a setting that includes a large field of tulips on a sunny day with butterflies flying around. I was expecting to read a book about sunny days and flowers. Jon ruins that image by reminding me about sunscreen and allergy medication. Here is the think Jon, it’s my dream, okay? Let me run in the sun smell the flowers. If I want to see a unicorn, I’ll see a unicorn. Don’t tell me they don’t exist.

And yet I kept reading. As hard as it was to stomach, he was right. There is more to achieving your dream than butterflies and unicorns. You must be smart about it. You must have a plan. You must be patient. You must be realistic.

Quitter helped me look courageously into my thirties, excited about what might be before me. At times I wish I could have a conversation with 19-year-old me. I would love to see the look on her face when I told her she was one year away from meeting Mr. Right and five years away from being a mom. Ten years from now, what will 39-year-old me have to say? What amazing things will happen in the next ten years?

There are many different stages in life that we find ourselves questioning the future. Whether it’s a graduation or an upcoming birthday, it’s easy to ask ourselves: “What do I want to do with my life?” The question is harder to answer. I recommend this book to everyone who is struggling with that question.

It Only Takes A Smile

When you become a mother of twins, you are immediately a member of the Mothers of Twins Club (MTC). This is not to be confused with the Mothers of Multiples club. While you are more than welcome to become a member of the Mothers of Multiples club, you must first pay their dues to be considered an actual member. Once you pay the dues, you can receive the newsletter, attend play dates and get into the Mothers of Multiples yard sale a day early.

The MTC is far less organized. We have no meetings, no dues, no board members and no monthly newsletter. No, the MTC is merely the unacknowledged club that all mothers of twins are members of. Members of the MTC share a common bond similar to a secret handshake. We can spot each other a mile away. When we meet eyes across the grocery store, we don’t have to say anything. With one look we can convey “Hang in there, it gets better” or “This is just a stage, right?” depending on the situation.

My favorite members of the MTC are the ones who have been members for 18+ years. These members are hard to spot. They don’t stick out in society the way the newer members do. They aren’t pushing around double strollers with their hair in sloppy ponytails and Oreo crumbs on their shirts. These members look like average women. I sometimes don’t even recognize them as members until one approaches me and introduces herself as a member of the MTC. As she smiles at my children, I can almost follow her daydream back to the days when her twins were little. That is my favorite moment: her smile. She isn’t wincing, remembering how hard things were when she was trying to potty train two toddlers at once. She isn’t frustrated, remembering the time her twins colored with a Sharpie marker on the wall.

She’s smiling.

She smiles because she is remembering, as all mothers do, how precious children are when they are little. Precious children that beg you to cuddle with them at bedtime. Precious children who ask embarrassing questions at the most inopportune times. Precious children that think you are a super hero because you can heal a boo-boo with merely a kiss.

I sometimes have the urge to bow before a senior member of the MTC as if she is the Queen of England. I want to tell her how much I admire her. I want to sit at her feet and glean every parenting secret she is willing to give me. I want her to tell me that the days that seem to last forever are over in a second. I want her to hug me and tell me that she knows what it is like to carry two screaming toddlers out of Chick-Fil-A while everyone stares.

Usually we don’t get that deep in our conversation, mostly because one of my children has bitten into a piece of fruit I had no intention of buying. I don’t have a chance to hear her survival story.

But that’s okay. With one smile, I know it all. I know that everything is going to be okay. It’s another one of those secret handshakes we have.

To all the senior members of the MTC, thank you for your smiles.

There Are No Socks in Heaven

Yesterday the thermometer in my minivan read 87 degrees. In case you are reading this blog months from now, I’d like to point out that yesterday was March 15. While I’m slightly concerned that this summer will bring days of 140-degree heat and fire raining from the sky, I was very excited to experience an 87-degree day in March. I was excited because it reminded me that it’s only a matter of time before winter is over for now and the warm weather will become the norm.

Why does the warmer weather excite me? Not for the reasons you think.

Warmer weather means my kids can wear sandals. When my kids are wearing sandals, do you know what they are not wearing? Socks. I hate socks. Jesus never actually said it, but I’m pretty sure there are no socks in heaven. He probably didn’t mention it because the people of His time weren’t really sock people. He probably saw how confused they were when He taught in parables and decided to skip the part about no socks in heaven. No need to confuse the disciples even more.

There are no socks in heaven because socks are the single most irritating clothing item ever invented. There is no way God is going to allow such things to be running amok in heaven.

My kids go through roughly 180 socks a day. If you are new to my blog, I am not Michelle Duggar. I do not have 19 kids. I have three kids. A more appropriate number of socks to dirty would be 6. But no, my kids use socks the way most people use tissues. Every time they return home from somewhere they take their socks off. When it’s time to leave the house again, the socks have gone missing. By the end of the day, they’ve worn a lot of socks.

I don’t need to mention that every time I do laundry I end up with more unmatched socks than matched socks. That’s to be expected in a house with three little ones, right? What scares me most is how their behavior has begun to rub off on me. Lately, I’m noticing more of my socks missing. My bounty of matched socks is diminishing. This wouldn’t bother me so much except that my husband’s socks remain perfectly matched 99.9% of the time. I don’t even think he tries to keep his socks together. I see him casually toss his socks in the hamper the same way I do and yet his socks stick together. It’s hard to not covet his perfectly matched socks.

That’s why the warmer weather is so wonderful. No more socks to wear and no more socks to covet. Don’t even get me started about how awesome it is that we don’t need to wear jackets anymore.  That’s a completely different blog post.

I Stole Something At The Grocery Store

A few weeks ago I did something I am not proud of. I stole something. I know, I’m a horrible person. What kind of example am I setting for my children? The good news is my children were not with me so they do not know about it. However, it’s only a matter of time before they find out. I’m hoping that once you hear my side of the story you will stop judging me, though I’m sure some of you strong moralists will not.

It was a weekday evening and I was at the grocery store by myself. It probably doesn’t need to be mentioned, but the fact that I was at the grocery store by myself was reason enough for me to be in a good mood. When a mom is at the grocery story by herself she is unstoppable. There is clarity in that moment that she never experiences otherwise.  She can walk in without a list and walk out with everything she needs. Folks, a mom at the grocery store alone is walking on cloud nine.

And so it was that I found myself strolling the aisles with a smile on my face. I didn’t need much but I took my time knowing that I had a solid 30 minutes before I could return home to a quiet house. I tried not to feel guilty that my husband was probably at this very same moment telling my children for the tenth time to return to their beds.

When I had everything I needed I walked to the self check-out line. This is another luxury I don’t have when I’m with my children. When I’m shopping with my children, the last thing I need is to be looking for the item number on my Gala apples. I will wait in a line 4-deep if it means someone else will scan and bag my groceries. But, when I’m childless, I love the self check-out line because it fulfills my childhood dream of being a grocery store clerk. Who wasn’t jealous of the clerk that got to scan every item? Clearly the person who created the self check-out process was not only looking for a more efficient way to move people through a store, he/she also knew the excitement people would have scanning their own groceries.

But I digress.

So I’m in line behind a young woman who is paying for her groceries. It’s important to note that I did not see who was in line before her. At the time that I entered the line, she was almost finished with her purchase. A few minutes later, she was done and she grabbed her bags and left. As I walked up to the scanner I noticed a piece of paper. Again, I cannot confirm that it was hers, but in that moment I had to make a decision. Do I call to the woman and hold up the piece of paper or do I assume that it belonged to the person in front of her? I opted for option B. I’d like to say it was because she was too far away or because I saw her look at the piece of paper and intentionally not take it. Sadly, the reason I opted to remain quiet was that I caught a quick glance at the writing on the piece of paper. It contained a recipe for chili. This was not just any chili recipe, this chili recipe had cocoa in it. I’m the first to admit I’m no expert in the kitchen but a chili recipe with cocoa in it seemed just too good to pass up.

I waited until the woman was out of sight and then I quickly grabbed the recipe and put it in my purse. I blame Pinterest. For weeks I’ve been reading status updates on Facebook about all the amazing crafts and recipes that my friends are finding. I can’t help but think my refusal to join Pinterest is putting me behind in the race to accumulate the most chili recipes. I can hardly be blamed for taking this recipe.

It wasn’t until I arrived home that I realized how unrealistic this recipe was.  Three pounds of ground turkey? Three large onions? Three cans of Kidney beans? Was this woman feeding an army? There is no way this will fit in my crock pot. [In anticipation of your future comments, I'm aware that she clearly tripled the recipe and all I need to do is divide everything by 3. That is beside the point.  How on earth was she going to make this large amount of chili?]

I also began to question that completeness of the list. What if there were other ingredients that she didn’t put on the list because she had those items at home? And what is with the random line on the right that seems to group some items together? Do I mix these spices together first and then add them to the pot? Wouldn’t it make sense to put the chili powder in that subgroup?

I am also assuming that the 1% milk and gas items at the bottom are not related. But can we pause for a moment? Who puts gas on their grocery list? I get it if you are going to Costco or Safeway where there are gas stations in the parking lot, but we were not at a Costco or Safeway. I’m no longer sure I can trust the source of this recipe.

I still haven’t brought myself to make this chili. I can’t stop thinking that this poor woman arrived home to make the chili only to find her recipe was missing. Perhaps she was newly married and was having her in-laws over for the first time and this recipe was a in-law family favorite. This was her chance to prove herself to her new in-laws and she had nothing to go by except the contents of her grocery bags.  Would she remember to keep the tomatoes whole and undrained? Would she mix the chili powder with the other spices separately? Would she remember that the milk was to be kept separate? I fear that I will never be able to adequately enjoy this recipe. The guilt is just too strong.

However, I encourage you to try it. Let me know how it goes. Who knows, this could be the next hot item on Pinterest.

Giving My Best Time To My Kids

Someone recently asked me what was my favorite thing to do with my kids. I told her it was to just play with them. It didn’t mater what we were doing; just spending time with them was my favorite. Then she asked how often I get to do that. “About an hour a day,” I told her.

That’s a lie. Not technically, I guess. If you added up all the moments in the day when I just simply play with my kids, I bet it would equal about an hour. It sounded a lot better to say an hour than to say “Five minutes here and there between the other things I have going on in the day.”

This weekend I tried something different. Instead of playing with my kids in my spare time, I put other things off and played with my kids first. I didn’t think about the loads of laundry that I could be doing or the dishwasher that needed to be unloaded. Instead, I thought about how adorable my son is when he hides his face in a pillow and thinks that I can’t see him.

I didn’t get a lot done this weekend. Not a single article of clothing was washed. There is a crushed Doritos chip underneath my kitchen table that has been there since lunchtime on Saturday. My house will need a solid cleaning during naptime tomorrow. That said, it was a great weekend.

I think my kids noticed too. They must have been confused when I didn’t tell them I’d be right back when the first five minutes was up. I’m sure they were shocked when I suggested we play just a little bit longer before we headed up to bed.

Sometimes it’s fun to just be silly with my kids.


Getting Back on the Horse

A few months ago I submitted a piece of writing to be considered for a guest post on another blog. I had been blogging for a total of five weeks and when I saw this opportunity I felt that it was the perfect launching pad toward a successful blogging career. I carefully crafted the piece making sure every word choice was perfect. I made my husband read it for errors. When he didn’t find any, I made him read it again until he found one. When he finished, I took one last look at it and submitted it.

For the next few days I caught myself daydreaming about my guest post. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends and family that I had landed my first guest post. I couldn’t wait to see how the guest post would increase the traffic to my blog.

About a week later I received an email from the blogger. From the preview screen on my phone I saw that the opening sentence began with the words “Thank you for submitting…” I didn’t need to keep reading. My gut told me what the rest of the email was going to say. Just to make sure, I opened the email and continued reading. It went something like this:

Thank you for submitting your work to be considered for a guest post on my blog. Unfortunately, it was not selected. I appreciate the effort you have put into this piece but it is just not quite the right fit for my blog. I encourage you to submit again the next time I put out a call for guest bloggers.

I don’t like to admit it but I immediately started to dislike this blogger. Two weeks before, I considered her a great writer and respected her work. Suddenly I considered her a writing snob and an elitist. I almost stopped following her on Twitter. I couldn’t stand to read her tweets. I blamed her for killing my dream. She became the reason my blog was not going viral.

I set the submission aside unable to bring myself to posting it. The piece that I had put so much effort into no longer seemed good enough even for my blog. I never wanted to read it again.

It took me a few days to post on my blog again. Self-doubt had taken over and I began to believe that this blogging thing wasn’t for me. All because of one lousy rejection letter.

Eventually I ended the pity party for myself. I began to write again. I no longer was sick to my stomach every time I saw a tweet from this blogger. I told myself that I would submit another post the next time she put out a call for guest writers.

Do you want to know a secret?

I haven’t submitted anymore guest posts. I want to; I really do. But every time I go to write one, I think about that first rejection letter. I remember how awful I felt. I tell myself that I don’t want to feel that way again.

But then I imagine the joy I will feel someday when someone accepts my writing. The excitement on my face as I tell my husband that I got it. The warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart knowing that someone read my writing and was touched by it.

I know that I have more rejection letters in my future. Likely, there will be more rejection letters than acceptance letters. But I think one solid acceptance letter is probably worth one hundred rejection letters. It might take weeks, or months, or possibly even years to get that letter but I think it will be worth it. But the only way to get a letter is to submit something. The only way to get more letters is to submit more. A person rarely throws a bullseye on the first try. So that means I need to keep writing.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, I eventually posted the rejected piece. It was one of my most popular posts that month.