"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."Six years ago a very broken girl showed up in Los Angeles for a very unknown adventure ahead. Broken, but hopeful. She had no clue what was in store, and would have never imagined what would actually take place and how it would change her heart, soul, and her life all together. The thought that this adventure could possibly help her put the broken pieces back together, would have never crossed her mind, but that’s exactly what happened. Six years ago that broken girl was me. My world as I had known it had crumbled all around me. My heart was broken into fragile little pieces, and I had no clue what could possibly be ahead. There was fear in not knowing how the healing process would go, and a fear that my heart would remain so tender or that I wouldn’t be able to move forward, BUT I did have a great hope for restoration of my broken heart. With all of those unknowns and even that hope, I would have never thought that a visit to “The Bachelor Mansion” would ever be a part of that process that God would use to put the broken pieces back together. And this is where “My Ode to the Bachelor” begins. I can’t be sure that God had opened this door for me, but I know He didn’t shut it, and He did use this unique experience to restore my soul. Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, I am not advocating that young women with heartaches or great sadness should go running off to The Bachelor to be “healed.” No way! But I want to share how my time with The Bachelor franchise, especially my first show, “On the Wings of Love,” played such a big role in my life and has a lot to do with the woman that I am able to be today. As I mentioned, I was a very fragile and broken girl before my time with The Bachelor had begun. I was grieving the loss of my marriage, something I had never imagined that I would experience. I was hurting from the pain of deception and couldn’t imagine getting to love someone again. But I believed in love with the examples around me, and I also believed in broken hearts being whole again, because of God’s loving grace, mercy, and faithfulness. I wouldn’t have ever ended up on The Bachelor if it hadn’t been for my sister and best friend pushing me to show up at an open call audition. I thought of it as a joke, but they pretty much forced me to go. That day was the first day of my healing and moving forward. As they interviewed me they had asked who I would want to be my Bachelor. This got me thinking of the idea of actually being able to think of loving another man again, it was a very big day for me to start thinking forward and have the hope for dreaming new dreams. The night I pulled up to mansion in that limo, surrounded by some of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, I thought to myself, “Tonight is your one night here, soak it up, make the most of it, let your light shine, be you, and make memories that you will forever be able to share of that ‘One night at the Bachelor Mansion’.” I thought for sure I would be going home, and I was okay with that. On probably one of the biggest nights of my life to have nerves, I had a great peace over me. I had promised myself to be everything that I am, if there was any chance that this Bachelor could be interested in me, I wanted him to fall in love with me for every piece of me. I have a great gratitude for how God gave me that peace and awareness, but so much gratitude to The Bachelor franchise for allowing me the opportunity to challenge myself in such a way. That first night will be something I will remember forever. The girls that I met, the push up contests, jumping on the couch, and just running through the mansion almost Home Alone style (when Kevin realizes he’s home alone), because I didn’t want to miss a minute of making a memory. I remember telling Elan, one of my favorite producers and friend that I wanted to share with Jake the Top Ten things to know about TENley so that he would remember my name. Elan and I had stood on a stairwell as I wrote these Top Ten things on a piece of paper. There was a new confidence budding in me. Maybe this was because it was one of the first times I didn’t have expectations, but I was enjoying going with the flow. To my surprise, I ended up with that very first rose, receiving the First Impression rose from Jake, my bachelor. I wasn’t going home. I was shocked and figured, “there must be a reason I’m still here, have an open heart, and continue to be me.” After several weeks and many red roses, I was still there. It was such a wild ride as every day was unknown. I never knew where I’d be, what I’d be wearing, or what I’d be doing. I had to trust producers who told me what time to be ready… I guess I even had to rely on them for what time it was! This was huge for me, and one of the greatest things I took away from my time on The Bachelor. I was learning how to do life without being in control, without expectations, how to let go, and how to let others lead. This also restored some trust, leaning on others for help. I am so forever grateful for how my time on the show gave this freedom back into my life. After your world crumbles around you, it’s very easy to want to hang onto anything and control all that you can, but it wasn’t an option while filming, and I absolutely loved that! During the last week of filming when we were in St. Lucia driving from one side of the island to the other before the big proposal, I had one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was in a van with my producer who was sleeping, and our driver who didn’t speak very good English, so I had some time to myself, and as we drove through this very lush and green canyon, I looked out the window and there was the most perfect and bright double rainbow. Tears welled up in my eyes as I remembered God’s promise. I specifically remember feeling peace and any bit of anxiety for the week to come slip away. As I looked at that double rainbow I knew that no matter what, if Jake was to propose to me or let me go, I would be okay, because God has something even greater in store for me. I thought back to those several weeks that I had traveled and experienced new things and I couldn’t have been more grateful. I had even more experiences like the rainbow in that last week of filming that I like to call, “Moments that God romanced me.” I will never forget those moments. That last day came, and instead of a proposal or Jake asking me to continue to get to know him in the real world outside of the experience we had just had, he said goodbye and let me go. It was painful, but it was probably one of the most powerful and healing moments of my life. Instead of feeling rejection, I felt peace, and I felt hope for the right thing ahead. It still hurt, but just like I had told myself in the beginning of the journey to be myself, I was grateful he let me go when he knew I wasn’t going to be his forever. Following The Bachelor I was given the opportunity to do the first season of Bachelor Pad, where I did find love: a love I’m so grateful that I got to experience. After nearly five years of sharing life with Kiptyn, we parted ways, but I look back with so much gratitude for how much I learned about myself, how much I learned about loving another, and how much I grew. A year later I found myself on Bachelor in Paradise, just this last summer. It was an incredible experience for me, and I didn’t walk away with the love of my life, but what I did take away from it was worth every second. Without a doubt what I did walk away with enriches the woman that I am and the woman that I want to be. I gained some of the greatest friendships, and some of the best memories. I even taught myself something… I hadn’t heard myself say it until I watched on TV, but there was a moment when I said, “I don’t have the time to waste on the wrong guy, but I have all the time in the world to wait for the right guy.” I hold this close to my heart as I’m still waiting to meet the “right guy” for me, and I remind myself of this as I will not settle for anything less than what God wants for me. And all of this I have learned through a strange and unique experience that I could never have imagined, and that I could never say enough Thank You’s for. (Fun update: I do have an amazing man in my life that I know God had in mind for me to meet. He has been worth the wait, and I'm excited to continue experiencing how he enriches my life.) And now switching gears from me to one of the best men I have ever known as we get ready to watch Ben Higgins on his journey of The Bachelor. As someone that I had the opportunity to get to know well, I can tell you that he is a quality guy. We will watch him face some of the hardest moments of his life as he’s not the kind that enjoys breaking hearts or being in conflict, but we will also watch a man full of integrity that I believe will bring his full self to the table. His honesty, transparency, and sincerity will be qualities that will make this season special. Before he left I told him there was a reason America loves him, and that’s because he let’s the light within him shine. I am praying for this season of life ahead of him, and excited to watch along with all of you. Knowing how much I gained from my experiences with The Bachelor Franchise makes it even more fun for me as I watch. I pray that at least a few of the girls will get to take home some of the best lessons of their life like I did. I walked away with a new sense of surrender, trust, self confidence, peace, and hope. Thank you Bachelor Family for everything you gave this girl over the last six years as her heart has been rebuilt and ready for anything to come my way!
For more of my story, read this interview I did a few years ago with Risen Magazine HERE!