Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

I hate the heat.  I hate it when it's so hot you just don't even want to leave the house (or apartment, whatever).

So uh, needless to say, I had a lazy day today, and that makes for a very boring blog post.

In fact, I didn't get out of my pajamas, which felt AWESOME.

I got my delivery from Safeway, I did my laundry, and the rest of the day I've just chilled out and hung out with the various friends that stop by.  Once they all left for their various parties/excursions/etc., I turned up the music and spent a long time singing.

I call that a good day.

And now, I'm going to bed because I have to get up early tomorrow because TFAS is going to Mount Vernon.  At least I got to sleep in one day this weekend.

Since this post is so boring, I'll leave you with a song I've been listening to on repeat for the past half hour.  I like this version way more than the original.  Surprise, surprise, it's a Glee cover.  There are tons of songs that I dislike the original singer's version but love the Glee cover.  I know, I'm weird.  But there are several friends I would sing this song to, and that never ceases to make me smile. :)

Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right (Turn me up, turn me up)
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right

Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right

If tomorrow is Judgment Day (Sing, mommy)
And I'm standing on the front line
And the Lord ask me what I did with my life
I will say I spent it with you
(Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right)

It's all right
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right

If I wake up in World War III (World War III)
I see destruction and poverty 
In my mind, you're mine
And I feel like I want to go home
It's okay (okay), if you're comin' with me

Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right (It's all right)
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right
Oh yeah

'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right (it's all right!)
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right

If I lose my fame and fortune
Well, it don't matter
And I'm homeless on the street (on the street, oh Lord)
And I'm sleepin' in Grand Central Station

It's okay if you're sleepin' with me

Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right

As the years, they pass us by
We stay young through each other's eyes
And no matter how old we get
It's okay, it's okay as long as I got you, babe

Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right

'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

If I should die this very day (very, very, very day)
Don't cry 'cause on earth we wasn't meant to stay
And no matter what the people say
I'll be waiting for you after the Judgment Day

'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

Your love is my love
And my love is your love
It would take an eternity to break us
And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us

Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right 
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right 
(Clap, clap, clap your hands, y'all)
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right 
(Clap, clap, clap your hands, y'all)
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right 
(Clap, clap, clap your hands, y'all)
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right 
(Clap, clap, clap your hands, y'all)
Clap your hands, y'all, it's all right 
'Cause your love is my love
And my love is your love

Friday, June 29, 2012

The good things in life.




Cold water.

Getting one step closer to finishing the database.



Sharing my testimony with someone who lost his faith.

Surprise messages from a friend just to tell me she loves and misses me.

Old friends.

New friends.

A summer breeze.

Dinner and dessert with a cute boy.  (Sorry, no pictures, we were drenched in sweat.)

Political jokes.

Getting to know said cute boy outside of work.

Grocery delivery.

Finding out boy doesn't drink.

Making tentative 4th of July plans with boy.


Cozy beds.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Talk about unexpected.

If you're in America and you don't live under a rock, you know what happened today.  Heck, even if you're in Canada, you STILL might know what happened today.  It was that huge.

Two years ago, when the Democrats still had control of the US Congress, we passed the Affordable Healthcare Act.  I'm not going to get into the details of the law, because that's too much of a headache, and I don't want this to turn into some giant political argument, and I get enough of that with the Campbell CRs.  But basically, the GOP has spent every possible minute trying to get "Obamacare" overturned.  It's gone through the full system, all the way up to the Supreme Court.  Today, they FINALLY announced their ruling on the constitutionality of the Act.

One week ago, my dear friend Alex posted this on his Facebook. "Any liberal want to bet me that the Individual Mandate will be kept?  I'll put $100 on the line that it's deemed unconstitutional.  Serious inquiries only."

My first response was "Oh, if I only had $100 to spare".  He wrote back saying he'd go for $50, and after thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided what the heck.  I mean, life would be boring if we didn't do something crazy every once in a while, right?  He spent quite a while saying how this was going to be "easy money" for him and there was almost no chance.  To be perfectly honest, as soon as I posted the comment "you're on" I thought I was screwed.  I am not normally a betting woman, so this was WAY out of character for me.  After talking to various educated people about it, I seriously thought I was going to lose.  Like, I had myself convinced.  Our Supreme Court is controlled by a slight Conservative majority, so it only made sense.


The Court ruled to keep the ACA.  Like I said, I'm not even going to get into personal opinions on the bill and what it means, because there's no way that will end well.  I'm just going to say that I LOVE the fact that that kid has to pay me $50 for something I had nothing to do with.  And I love the fact that I won despite being so sure that I was going to lose.

Oh, don't you worry.  I'm too high-anxiety to get into gambling or whatever.  This was just for fun, and to be crazy for once.  I'm most likely not going to get the money until I'm back at Campbell, I need to see if Louis will photograph the big moment.  Hahahaha. :)  I'm sorry, this is just fun and a ridiculous surprise.

My second crazy moment of the day:  Telling MC I'd come to work tomorrow despite technically having Fridays off to do more work on this database project we are SO close to finishing.  This was especially stupid since I'm on Day 3 of a migraine that I can't shake.  Oh well.  I like my job.  Thank God for that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's not about me.

So I was sitting here trying to decide what to blog about, and this idea just popped in my head and all sorts of thoughts started pouring in, so I'm going to go with it.

The thing about having a public blog is that anyone can find them.  And I mean anyone.  Like Sarah, the girl who was in marching band with Holly in high school and ended up picking me up at the airport after my Nashville trip.  How completely random is that?!  But the most complicated part about it, at least for me, is that blogs are just a highlight reel of the writer's life.  Believe it or not, there's a LOT I don't put on this page. I keep plenty of secrets.  Everyone does.  I've hid a lot over the years because I was too scared to put it all out there.

Now, though?  I'm not going to lie:  My life is pretty awesome right now.  It's finally everything Matt promised me it would be once I got out of that small little town and got to college.  I'm getting to do some ridiculously cool things that most people only dream about (pictures from today will be at the bottom of the post).  I have so many friends that are the kind that stick with you for life, something I never thought would happen with anyone other than Matt.  I am totally aware every day just how much God has blessed me by putting me right where I am, physically and mentally.

BUT sometimes I feel like if a complete stranger found my blog one day and started reading the most recent posts, they might get this idea that I'm posting what I have because I want to brag about how awesome my life is.  And that is not it at all.  I mean, those of you who have read here for a while know what I have been through over the 3+ years that I've had this blog, but that fact won't mean anything to someone who doesn't know.

And let's face it, the posts I've made about getting to spend my birthday at the Memorials around the city, and meeting the Secretary of the Navy last night, can easily be construed as bragging. Even reading them myself, I can sometimes feel that kind of tone. I can only hope and pray that the people who read my posts either know my heart enough already or will take the time to get to know my heart to know that I am not that person. I truly hope and pray that I never become that person. I know what it's like to have the threat of losing every dream you had hanging over your head, and so frankly, I'm in awe that in less than 3 years I've gone from a girl who spent basically an entire fall in a hospital bed to a girl who's living and working in DC meeting people that help run this country, who got to skip school for a week and fly out to hang with some of her dearest friends and favorite band. If you had told me that 2012 would turn out like this when I was laying in Duke, or giving myself antibiotics twice a day for the staph infection in my foot, I would've thought you were crazy. I had pretty much given up all hope of having a normal life.

I'm living my dream, y'all, and there's nothing I could have ever done to deserve a blessing like this. In fact, my human mind can't even comprehend how God would still want to bless me like this after I spent so many years hating Him and blaming Him for all of my pain. But if there's anything that I want people to take away from the words I leave on this site is that this doesn't just happen to me. God wants to work these kinds of life-altering miracles in your life, too. Whether or not you know Him, He knows you and He loves you SO much. I had nothing to do with God for pretty much my entire high school life, but looking back, there were so many things that happened that set me up to get me not only to Campbell, but to this program. He was still paying attention.

My life is just an example. I am nothing more than a living testimony for His grace, forgiveness, and love. He doesn't love me anymore than He loves you, I promise. No matter what your relationship (or lack thereof) with Him has been, His love doesn't change. He brought me out of some scarily dark years to a point where I feel on top of the world. The knowledge I have of the incomprehensible depth of His love is what gets me through the bad days because, I promise, I still have plenty of those. Being a Christian and having a relationship with Christ doesn't mean that your life suddenly turns magical and all is perfect in the world. People are still mean, bad things happen, you cry, you get mad, you're still human. It just means that through your relationship with Him, He will take everything you've been through and turn it into something more beautiful than any human could ever imagine or create themselves. He wants to know you, intimately, passionately, deeply. He sure as heck wanted to know me. He had to pretty much chase me down to get me to where I am now. God's love is that great; He's willing to do whatever it takes to bring you back where you belong.

So please, when you read what I have to say on this blog (and I still can't figure out why anyone still does), know that my life is far from perfect, and that my life, my words, my story? They were never about me. They're about Him. They're about this new Mallory that He created and is molding out of the ashes that were my life such a short time ago. It's my job to do something with it. All of this is happening so I can show anyone and everyone I meet what He has done for me, and to tell them He can do it in their lives, too. Because HE CAN.

And He will, if you're willing to give up control and let Him. It's not going to be quick, and it's not going to be easy, and sometimes it's going to hurt like hell. I, control freak extraordinaire, can tell you that for a fact. But this I can also promise you:

It will be worth it.

That's me, sitting in Ben Bernanke's chair.  Ben Bernanke is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This is a political science major's Hollywood.

Or maybe it's just mine.

I can't believe this actually happened.  I can't believe tonight actually happened.

However, it is now 10:30 pm which means I have been awake for 16.5 hours.  Today was crazy.  So you're getting the speed recap of the awesome things that happened tonight.

I found out there's a chance I could get to meet the cast of NCIS before the summer is up, which would be ridiculously awesome!

I got to go to my first work-related event.  I feel like such an adult saying that!

I met lots of Sailors from the US Navy, and I learned about some different jobs and their uniforms.

I met a US Congressman, which had never happened before.  And the coolest part was he's from NC and serves the district directly south of my hometown!

I got to watch the Japanese Ambassador to the US speak.  (I wish I could've introduced myself to him, but he was always talking to someone.)

I met Admiral Ray Mabus, aka THE SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY.  I got to shake his hand and have a conversation with him!

Tyler (the other intern I've never shown you a picture of before), Admiral Totushek (President of the Navy Memorial, really nice and wears an awesome leather jacket during the day!), and the Secretary.

Me about to shake the Secretary's hand.

The four of us having a conversation.

Me with Representative Mike McIntyre.  He was nice.  And I love that I can now say I've actually met a member of Congress!  Maybe I'll get to meet some more when Natalie, my mentor, gives me a tour of the Capitol.  :)

Oh, and also, I was asked not to blog about the roommates anymore, so that will no longer be a topic of discussion on this blog. I'll be fine.  If nothing else, this is over in six weeks, and if I can survive living with Chelsea for 20 years, I can survive living with four strangers for six more weeks.  Okay I'm done. Just wanted to let you know that so you didn't think I was ignoring giving an update on the situation. Like I said, it'll be fine. It's a long story, but after much prayer today, I have found a new sense of confidence in myself to try and work through all of this with them. I was also told by someone to have more faith in myself. Confidence is key, or so I've been told. ;)

Okay, I really am going to bed now.  I can't wait to sleep!

I LOVE TFAS. :) Tomorrow = the Federal Reserve. Their security seems like it's tighter than the White House, which I find hilarious.

But seriously, y'all. Can I please stay here in this city forever and ever? Please? Not many people get to live their dreams, and I'm living mine at 20. AND I'm living my dream after having cheated death about 6 times.  Only by the grace of God, y'all.  Only by the grace of God.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Peace like a river, faith like a child.

Sometimes, I really want to smack myself in the face.  But hey, that's what I have friends for!

Oh, don't worry. I mean it figuratively. ;)

So, uh, yeah, a totally unexpected thing happened tonight.  I sat down at my computer as I scarfed down dinner in my quick break between my internship and class, and I checked my email.  In my CU email (the email I've been using for everything TFAS/DC related) was an email from the manager of my institute addressed to me, my 4 roommates, our program adviser, Remley, the manager of the institute that Rachel and Meera are in, and their program adviser.  It stated that we have to have a meeting tomorrow morning at the TFAS office because some "concerns" have been brought to the attention of the staff.

Now, I know I've been talking a lot here about the roommate situation, but here's the thing - I never said anything about it to any of the staff, and I wasn't planning on doing so because I don't want any of the other girls to see me as whiny or dramatic or whatever.  And I realize that no one likes receiving a "we need to talk" message, but due to several incidents in my past, those kinds of messages are particularly stressful for me.  So within about 30 seconds, my hands were sweating, my heart was pounding, and I was shaking.  My first thought was someone complained about me.  Yes, the logical side of me realizes I really don't think I've done anything to warrant complaints, but this is how my mind still works as I'm working to retrain it.

So I did the only two things I could think of - I prayed, and I texted a few friends to pray.    By that point, I had to get into class, and I get ZERO cell reception in the classroom because it's basically in the basement, so I didn't receive the texts until I got out about 9:00.  All three of them said basically the same thing.


This one said it the most bluntly and eloquently (I know that's kind of an oxymoron), though: "Worry is of the enemy. Don't worry. Be anxious for nothing and He will take care of you."

Yeah...I'm an idiot.  Freaking out about a meeting that may be the opportunity to solve a problem that's been weighing on me for over a what universe does that make sense?  Especially after Taylor texted me today about a friend of his who got in a car wreck and broke a vertebrae in his neck.  Seriously, Mal?!

My friends, whether or not they realize it, are ridiculously good at giving me a good smack-in-the-face reality check when I need it.  Whatever God needs to happen in this meeting tomorrow will happen, and His plan is perfect.  I can take comfort in that.  I HAVE to take comfort in that.  My displays of weakness are not about me, they're about showcasing His power and mighty grace.

Another good one I saw via a retweet on Twitter, that was actually posted by a guy I met in Nashville, I've just never followed him myself.  "Knowledge of God is not faith in God."  Yep.  That one hit me hard as I reread it over and over again tonight.

If I really believe God's got me in His hands, then I can't worry.  Worry is a sign that I don't believe He is in control of everything that happens.

So tonight, I'm choosing to have "peace like a river and faith like a child"...yeah, I got that from the same smart friend who smacked me back to reality tonight.  :)

I am so blessed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Early to bed.

I have had absolutely no energy at all today.

I've had a major migraine and I feel like my vision is messed up.

So uh, today has not been fun.

Which is why I'm climbing in bed at 9:30.  I don't remember the last time I did this.

Good night, world.  Here's hoping I feel better tomorrow.  It's another busy TFAS week ahead.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oh, you know, just your usual Saturday.

I got up at 6:30, got all dressed up, and spent 40 minutes trying to get a cab with some new friends to the place where all the cool kids spend their Saturday mornings.

Heck. yes.

Seeing as I'm a complete dork, I pretty much had goosebumps from the time we got to the first security checkpoint to the time we stood at the back gate letting some TFAS worker take photographs.  Walking those halls and knowing all of the historical figures and celebrities that have walked those same halls was just a ridiculously awesome feeling.

The only lame part was that this was a "closed tour" so we weren't allowed to take pictures inside.  We basically weren't allowed to bring anything but our IDs and wallets and phones.  (These pics were taken on my phone outside where it was allowed.)  The weird part is that one of the Secret Service guys told us that they actually have "open house tours" which is the exact same tour except you're allowed to take pictures.  I don't know why TFAS didn't bring us on one of those days, but whatever.  I was there!

This is Josie, Chris and me.  We basically met each other on Facebook, agreed to split a cab, and then met for real this morning.  Yay for a TFAS Facebook group.  We ended up getting a van cab with a few other kids but hung out together through the tour pretty much because it was nice to have someone to walk around with.

Me and Chris.  I really like this picture. :)

Then a whole crowd of us walked down the street to this place called Cosi and got something to eat.  Then, Chris, Josie and I split a cab back to campus.  Josie said she felt like a girl from Sex and the City, standing on the corner in heels waving down a cab.  Haha she seemed really nice. :)  Chris was awesome, too.

I got back to the apartment and promptly changed clothes and passed out for two hours.  It felt awesome.  That is why you don't go to bed at 1:45 when you have to get up at 6:30 the next morning.  I got up around 2:15, and then just hung out until I met up with Chris again about 3:50 to go to a barbecue for TFAS's alumni weekend.  

I had SO much fun there.  I met tons of cool people and even made new friends to hang out with who seemed to really like me.  I spent a lot of time dancing with this kid.

I don't know why the picture looks like that.  My camera's been doing weird things lately.  Maybe it's just old.  I think I'm going to use my phone for pics from now on, though, because this one sucks.

His name is Michael, and no, it was NOT that kind of dancing! ;)  He saw me sitting on a bench by myself and asked me why I wasn't hanging out with friends or my roommates or something.  I quickly said the guy I came with had to leave, and my roommates don't like me very much, and then he made me tell him what I meant by they don't like me.  He offered to give them a "good talkin' to" which I thought was hilarious of him to say since he's from Chicago and he'd just met me like ten minutes before.  Then we basically spent the next hour acting like complete goofballs and dancing, and he brought me around and introduced me to a bunch of his friends.

Around 7:00 I started getting really worn out and hot, so I left.  I ended up getting really lightheaded and almost passing out on the way back to the apartment, but these two girls helped me out and one of them found two guys willing to help walk me back to my dorm because my legs were shaking pretty badly.  Don't worry, I was fine after a few minutes of being in my room with the fan and some cold water, it's just part of having a seizure disorder.

So long story short, my roommates may not be all that fantastic of people, but there are a lot of amazing people here.  I'm getting to do things this summer that some people only dream about.  How on earth can I complain? :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm better now.

Today, it really hit me.  My new determination to become closer to Christ this year truly has impacted every aspect of my life.

Last night I received this text from a friend who had listened to me vent about my roommates and their friends completely shunning me.  I texted him saying that I realized he was right, these are not the kind of people I need to spend time with, and I'm not going to try to fit in with them anymore.  He wrote this back.

"That's a good attitude.  Don't forget that just because you don't need them, that doesn't mean they don't need you.  Be an example of Christ's love and patience."

I went to bed and woke up still thinking about that text.  The thing is, I don't need them.  I am fine the way I am.  I am loved by so many people who have actually taken the time to know my heart.  God made me this way for a reason.  Even more than that, though, I am a Christian for a reason.  It's not about my own salvation.  It's about God using me to showcase His glory.  He might have put me in this apartment with these people to be that person for them.  They might need me.

And for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm honestly praying for that to happen.  I'm praying that I can be filled with the intense love and patience that can only be described as Christ-like.  I'm praying that I can let that completely consume and overtake me, so I don't let my very human emotions and my instinct to be mean back to them win out.  I'm praying that I can show them love and kindness no matter what.  Before this point, I don't think I've ever been able to do that for people who treated me badly; my only goal was to just put up with them and ignore them as much as possible.  But this time, I want to show them Jesus.  I want to show them what He can do.

He really is making me better.  It's what He does.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Things that make me happy.

My best friend having a job that allows him to talk on the phone while he works, and him spending a good 20 minutes on the phone with me letting me vent, giving me advice and reassurance with a reality check thrown in there for good measure. I have the greatest best friend/big brother/sometimes therapist. He's definitely not perfect, but he teaches me so much, never holds anything against me, and is always there to remind me of the kind of person I really am. He's the only person I've ever known who has loved me and been there for me without condition and never left me even when I gave him every reason in the book to. He makes everyone else, all the crappy, immature people I have to deal with, seem like nothing more than background noise. I couldn't have asked for a more compatible best friend.

Sitting in front of a fan when it's 95+ degrees outside.

Also, finding out the massive heat wave is due to end in a couple days.

A test not being as hard as I expected it to be.

Being on time for things.  (Yes, that really does make me happy.)

Being alone in the apartment so I can sing.

Hearing "I love you." It's no secret that words of affirmation is totally my love language.

Reminders from people I've never met in person that I am never alone.

Making plans with my awesome mentor, who offered to give me a personal tour of the Capitol sometime next month! (She's a scheduler for a Congressman.)

Not getting lost in the maze that is the Navy Memorial office anymore.

Finding a video like this on Twitter, and getting that feeling you get when you find a performance with two singers whose voices seemed to have been made JUST so they could sing together.  That ridiculous, goosebump-giving, leaves-you-speechless, totally awesome feeling.

Then going to the guy's Youtube page and finding out that he also did a solo cover of one of your most favorite '90s songs.

I was going to write a post about how much tonight sucked.  This seemed like a better idea.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's might hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:6-10

Things in DC...well, they've changed.  My internship is great, my class is fine, but I no longer feel welcome with the people I thought had become my "group."  They quit inviting me to things, and I think it's because they don't like the fact that I don't go out and party with them on the weekends because that's just not me.  I've never gotten drunk, and I don't plan on doing so any time soon.  But it's the smaller things, too.  They don't even let me know they're leaving and walk with me to events and stuff.

So all of this combined with a lack of sleep got me feeling pretty down on myself this evening.  I felt like that scared little girl in high school who was constantly told she was worthless and not good enough and if she just changed she'd be better.  That girl's visits are coming less and less frequently, but when she shows up, she's still pretty hard to shake.  When you go 4-5 years being told the same things over and over again, you start to believe them, so I guess that it's understandable that that's still my thoughtless instinct reaction.

But now I know different.  I knew I had to bury these feelings, and quickly, so I did what I knew would bring me some instant comfort.  I called one of the amazing friends I've been blessed with that I knew would give me a reality check, and he definitely delivered.  He got me focused back on what I know in my heart is God's truth about who I am, and by the time we got off the phone, I felt confident again.

The truth?  I'm fine the way I am.  All those thoughts I was having earlier - the ones that I need to be "normal," that I'm not good enough, that I have to change if people are going to like me - were nothing more than satan preying on my insecurities and my desire for acceptance from others.  He saw me vulnerable, and he did was he does best and clamped on to that.  As my friend so bluntly but eloquently put it, "Mallory, if they're mad because you don't want to go out and get drunk with them, are those really the kind of friends you want, anyway?"  Like, really.  I am so dense sometimes.

The people who really know me - Matt, Ryann, Taylor, Alex, Amy, Elizabeth, Brennan, Michal, the list could go on  - they like who I am.  Clearly, because it takes a special kind of person to put up with me the way those kids have. ;)  I figured out a while ago that the people that really matter and really care about you will never make you apologize for being who you are.  That friend that I made up with last week actually had to tell me to stop apologizing despite the fact that I legit felt like I had screwed up.

I'm not going to apologize for not going to parties.  I'm not going to apologize for spending my time studying for this class instead of spending the entire weekend drunk.  I'm not going to apologize for being ME.  I'm just not.  Doing that would be undermining the perfection that God created when He made me in His image.

I am loved, not just by the King of the universe, but finally by people who surround me with love, remind me of God's presence, truth, and unending grace, and are never too shy to help me see that I am never alone.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Continuance: That's what faith is for.

I wasn't expecting to write a second part to my post from last night, but hey, that's what happens when you're blessed with wise friends who are willing to help you figure things out.  Special shout out to Taylor and Laura A for stepping up, speaking the truth, but being kind about it.  I needed help, and you two showed up.  I'm so blessed to have you in my life.

Yeah, uh, I came to realize today that in all of my ranting last night, there's a pretty big factor I managed to leave out:  I don't know for sure that anything of what I said about where my dad ended up is true.

How could I have been arrogant enough to claim to know what my dad's relationship with God was like when I don't even remember what his relationship with me was like?  Yes, my mom has told me that he wasn't a practicing Christian, and that he basically never went to church when she took us girls on Sundays (but he did work constantly, so there's that to consider), but I don't know what his relationship with God was like in his head and heart, if/when he prayed.  My mom couldn't have known that, either, especially since suffice it to say that she and my dad did not have a good marriage.  I didn't see him in the last few months before he died.  I have absolutely no recollection of my last conversations with him.  I have no idea if in his heart he believed in God.

Even more than that, though, I have NO clue whatsoever as to whether God decided to bring him to heaven after he died.  And it's not my job to know.  I CAN'T know that.  That's why God is God, and I am not.  Just like my relationship with Christ is mine, my dad's relationship with Christ was his and his alone.  I am honestly ashamed that I was conceited enough to think I knew the answer to a question of eternity.

I've made it no secret that as of right now, I am the only one in my family that is pursuing a relationship with Christ.  During our conversation today, whether or not he intended to, Taylor pointed out that I had also, in my arrogance, assumed that I knew where my mom, sisters, and grandma are going to end up, and they're not even dead yet.  As Taylor put it, God may have put me in this family for the sole purpose of bringing them on a journey to Him.  For all I know, my grandma could have a religious epiphany on her deathbed.  The point is I'm never going to know until it happens, just like everyone else.

But here's the important part: It's okay that I don't know.  It doesn't make me clueless or stupid.  I don't have to know.  That's what faith is for.  He knows, and that's all that matters because, in the end, His will is the only thing that is going to make things happen.

No matter what happened to my dad, I know I love him, and I know he loves me. And God loves both of us  so much more.  I'm going to focus on the knowledge that I was his angel, his "Sweet Pea", that I always managed to surprise him with what I would say and do as a little (and I mean little!) kid, that he loved to speed down exit ramps just to make my sisters and me scream with excitement.  I'm going to focus on pictures like this.

Because they make my heart happy.  And my life is too short and too miraculous to waste time on sadness.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In which I grapple with the truth about my dad.

So, uh, I don't need to inform you that yesterday was Father's Day.  This year, it also happened to be the anniversary of my dad's death.  They land on the same day every five or six years, 2001, 2007, and now 2012.  (Father's Day also landed on my birthday in 2003 and 2008.)  I still haven't quite figured out why, but the years it lands on the anniversary of his death always manage to feel a bit more intense than all of the other years.

I also probably don't need to tell you that I still miss my dad every day of my life.  That kind of thing isn't something you ever get over, I don't think.

What's different about this year is that this year is the first year that I've ever had to deal with this anniversary as a real Christian, as someone who truly cares about my relationship with God.  With that, I have to deal with some truths.  Truths like only those who truly accept God and bring Him into their heart get to go to heaven.  Truths like my dad wasn't a Christian when he died, and that means he didn't get to go to heaven.

I think for a long time, I had myself convinced that Dad was in heaven.  That's what people told me, that that was where people went when they died.  I mean, what else do you tell a kid whose dad died - sorry, kid, your dad's burning in the fiery pits of hell for all eternity and you're never going to see him again?  Yeah, uh, no.  So I just let myself believe that he was in heaven, because at least that felt happy, and that meant I'd see him again one day.

But I'm not a little kid anymore.  I'm 20 years old, and I'm finally pursuing a relationship with God the way I've needed to for so long.  I know what God says about heaven and who gets to go there when they die, so the truth that I have to deal with is that my dad...isn't there.

To be perfectly honest, that makes me so angry.  Not angry at God, because I, of all people, understand that a relationship with Him is a matter of free will and making the choice.  It makes me angry at my dad, angry that he didn't see this, angry that he made that choice after growing up in a Christian home and put himself in a position that meant I would never EVER get the chance to him.  I know, it's not like he had any idea he was going to die at 37, but it wouldn't have mattered if he died at 97, I don't want death to be the end.  And before I even really got the chance to get to know him in this world, the chance of having a relationship with him at all in eternity was taken away from me.  This is the end.  I'll never get to experience my dad in a way that I'll actually remember.  I don't want to be angry at him because, by all accounts, he was a really good dad and I was his angel, but it was the choice he made that put me here, in a sense.

Coming to terms with the fact that my dad is not in heaven and I will never see him again brings around a whole new set of questions...

If he is in hell (and oh God, it pains me to think about that, let alone say it), can he still see me?  Is he still watching me?  Will he still be able to send me the love of my life one day (as a friend told me he would, without knowing this fact)?  Does he know what's going on with me?  Does he know what I've been through?  Does he know how much losing him affected my teenage years?

As Michal so bluntly put it the other day, I'm pretty much a new Christian, so this is just another one of the many things I'm trying to figure out.  Grappling with the truth about someone you barely knew but loved so much is a really hard thing to deal with.  I've been avoiding it.  I talked to Taylor this afternoon, and I told him that I was in a good mood even yesterday because I love DC that much.  And I DO love DC, but I was avoiding dealing with what my newly found relationship with God has forced me to come to terms with because, well, it SUCKS.  It sucks to think that for the rest of eternity I will never really know what kind of father my dad was.  It sucks to think that my dad died that painful of a death and is now in infinitely times more pain because of one choice he made.  But then again, as a Christian, I know that that is the ULTIMATE choice.

It's just really crappy to deal with.  But like I said, this isn't changing my relationship with God.  I know that God loves me and is with me, I know that God loves my dad.  It hasn't made me question who God is.  It's more made me question what His being who He is means for my dad.  Because despite the fact that none of my family makes an impact on my destiny to spend forever with God, he's still my dad and I still never got to know him and I still miss him every day.

None of that's new.  The only thing that is new is my perspective.  Ever since that week in Nashville, I've been finding God and accepting God in every area of my life.  I just didn't want to deal with this because it's such a huge part of me.  But now, I have to.

God, please, come and heal this pain.  I know You took care of my dad, and I know that the choice to not follow You was his to make.  I don't want to be angry at him; it's going to get me nowhere.  Please, help me find peace with this because it's something I can't change, and I don't want to live the rest of my life struggling with this.  I need the peace that only You can give.  This doesn't change how much I love my dad, or how much he loved me, I know that.  I'm just asking you to come and free me from all of the emotional wounds that losing him caused.  You are all that matters in the end, You are the ultimate Father.  Keep me focused on you and please, heal my heart of the anger that I feel over this.  Help me to rely on You alone.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Holding Out for a Hero

Today was a really boring day, up until the very end.

I've spent all day trying to make a dent in my reading list for class, and I still have so much to do.  So today's blog is going to be pretty short because I want to get at least one more thing read before I go to bed.

The thing that makes the ending of today NOT boring was the fact that I just spent almost 45 minutes on Skype with Jay.  That boy...I just don't know what I'm going to do with him.  I think I've had a crush on him pretty much since the end of our trip back in August 2008, but having him talk to me the way he does, when he's gorgeous enough to get pretty much any girl he wants, still doesn't really make any sense in my head.  And he said I'm the only one from America he talks to with any consistency anymore, and that for some reason says something to me, because I feel like if he didn't really care about me, he'd have let this friendship fall by the wayside just like all the others.  I don't know.  Every time we talk, I kind of have a hard time thinking straight for a while afterwards, so I'm probably not making much sense.

It doesn't matter, anyway.  He's in England, and he will be for at least the next year.  If he really does move here after that, like he promises he's going to, then we'll talk.  For now, I'm just going to enjoy it for what it is, harmless, flattering, flirtatious fun.

Isn't that what this point in my life is supposed to be about, anyway? (*cough* Laura A *cough*)

This video is just because I love the first song and the second song makes me want to dance.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I could get used to this.

This big-city livin'.

The public transportation.  The sights.  And I'm especially fond of the fact that Safeway is delivering my groceries tomorrow, which means I don't have to walk all the way to basically the other side of Georgetown and then back with arms full of bags.

I had a day off today.  It was glorious, and I feel extremely refreshed.  I didn't get out of bed until 2:00, which was awesome.  Then, I've basically done nothing productive other than my laundry.  The thing that sucks is it costs $3.00 to wash and dry a load here.  As if we aren't already paying enough.  I am extremely grateful Campbell has free laundry.

Tomorrow, I will be spending pretty much the entire day getting caught up on the reading for class from this week and going ahead and doing next week's.  I figured out that there ain't no way I'm going to do this reading during the week after all-day interning and then night class, and since I don't go out and party with everyone else, so this way I'll have one less thing to worry about during the week.

You know what's weird?  Looking down at your finger, seeing that it's covered in blood, and having no idea how it got that way.  That happened to me today when I was carrying my laundry back to my room, and I honestly have NO recollection of hitting it or anything.  Bizarre.  It looks nasty.  Luckily, Rachel let me have a Band-aid, and Safeway is bringing me a new box and some Neosporin tomorrow.

Okay, that's all I've got.  My sheets are clean and my legs are shaved, and that means I'm going to sleep GOOD tonight.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hands down the best. birthday. EVER.

I don't know if I've ever had so many amazing things happen in a 12-hour period.

Let's start from the beginning.  I got up at 8, and went to go meet this cute boy at 9:30.

He's the new guy I mentioned yesterday.  He seems really sweet, and he wants to hang out with me again, so hooray for that. :)  We spent like 45 minutes talking before he had to leave to get to work, so I hopped on the metro and went to the Smithsonian station, because I figured that'd be a good popular place to start, even though I wasn't planning on going to the museums (I've never been a big museum person).  When I got out, I just picked a street and started walking down it, and I found this.

This building? WICKED HUGE.  Like, it has seven wings that take up both sides of the street for an entire city block huge.

I took this picture because it reminded me of the Louvre and Versailles in Paris, and then I noticed something in the corner...

Do I even need to tell you what that is?  (For JD, that's the Washington Monument. Silly Canadian. :p)  So, well, I had to go see that.

I don't know how something so simple in design could be so pretty, but it is.  It's just pretty.

A nice soldier took this for me.  He seemed to be there with friends, but he was in uniform, so I kind of knew he'd be nice to ask.

Up next, I saw this guy.  John Paul Jones.  And surprisingly enough, I have to Google him to figure out who he is.  Maybe I know and I just can't remember, but the name doesn't really ring a bell with me tonight.

Then was the World War II Memorial.  I like this one because it has all of the places that had battles on those pillars that form the circle.  I think the design looks really cool.

This is the District of Columbia War Memorial.  I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing this is related to the War of 1812?    

Then, after a long, LONG trek, this fella showed up.  Again, do I really need to say it?  It was so surreal.  Even though I'm sure we visited this when we came to DC as a family, I don't remember it at all, so this was brand new to me pretty much.

A shot of the whole Mall from the top of the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.  Just amazing.

Then I went and saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  My grandfather fought in that war but survived.  I don't know if there's anything more humbling than facing a wall full of the names of complete strangers who gave up their lives to protect mine decades later.

Then, I walked, and walked, and WALKED trying to get back to somewhere where I could figure out how to get back to familiar land.  Finally, some nice man told me how to get to the nearest metro, and I had to walk about 8 city blocks to get there.  So all in all, I made about a 3.5 mile loop, and I'm fairly sure I've never walked that much in one afternoon in my LIFE.

I saw the Federal Reserve building on the way.  I get to tour that on the 27th!  I took the metro back to Dupont Circle, and I stopped by a burger joint that Walter (the new boy) told me I should go to. Then I caught the bus back to Georgetown, and I came back to the apartment to relax for a few hours.  I got back somewhere around 3:00.  

Jody and I left for dinner about 5:10, and as we walked out, she pulled out her phone to text our friend Ben, but he and two of his roommates walked out of their building at that exact time.  We walked to dinner.  More walking, agh!  But really, it wasn't too bad on the way there because it was downhill.  I went back to The Tombs for dinner because it's close and delicious.

This is Tony, Ben, and Jody.  Derek distracted them just as I took the picture, hence Tony and Jody are looking away.  Ben still looks nice, though.  Haha!

This is Derek and me.  He's really nice, and smart, too! :)  I love my new friends.  We've been doing pretty much everything together because Ben, Derek, Jody, and I are all in the same institute.  Rachel and Meera also stopped by for a bit, so that was nice.

Not only did Jody buy my dinner, which was super nice of her, the restaurant gave me this dessert for free.  They even put a candle in it (I told the waitress it was my birthday).  I should've taken the picture before I blew out the candle, but oh well.  Mmmmm.  A hot brownie and cold ice cream.  Delicious.  The hilarious part was that Derek, a nutrition major, was talking about sugar the entire time I was eating it.  Haha!

Then, Ben, Derek, Tony, and I went to a Trivia night that the program was hosting.  Two new girls joined our team.  There were three rounds - sports & entertainment, celebrity identification (and they were all named George), and history & geography & politics.  After round 2, while they were tallying up the scores, the "MC" of the night, Kristen, was going around and letting people tell jokes.  I wanted to tell a really corny joke that Holly's boyfriend Michael told me, and when she brought the microphone over to me, Remley (my ICPES program adviser, like the TFAS version of an RA) yelled out "IT'S HER BIRTHDAY!" so Kristen had the whole room sing Happy Birthday to me. :)  Not only did we win round 3 and I got a T-shirt for it, we won the WHOLE THING! :)  So basically I made $20 (the group got $100 to split, but since splitting $100 between 6 people is impossible to do evenly, each of the other girls took $15, the 3 boys took $50 to go buy alcohol, surprise, surprise, and they said I could have $20 since it's my birthday) for answering some really random questions.  Icing on the cake.

I stayed after for a bit talking to Remley and some of the other staff, and then I hobbled back to my room.  (I really was hobbling by this point.)  I hung out, answered all of the messages people left on my Facebook wall, Skyped with Morgan whom I haven't talked to in forever because she's been in Hawaii for a month doing a study abroad thing - I know, Hawaii's not abroad!, and talked to Michal on the phone for 45 minutes.  Then I took a nice, hot shower, and then I've basically just sat here enjoying not having pressure on my feet anymore.

Also, throughout the day, I got phone calls from The Vespers, who actually sang for me, Matt, Alex, and the family, and texts from various people.  Suffice it to say I felt very, very loved today.  This was the best birthday I've ever had, no question.  And now I'm so ready for bed because it's been almost 18 hours (I'm writing this close to 2:00 in the morning) and I'm exhausted.  My birthday present to myself is that I'm going to stay in bed until whenever my body decides to wake up.  I'm hoping that if I lay in bed long enough, my feet will stop throbbing.

Speaking of my feet, who wants to bring me a bucket of ice?  I'd like to stick my feet in it.

Goodbye, teenage years!

You will NOT be missed.  I am ready for the next stage of my life.  It's officially my birthday, and I am now 20 years old! :D  And I get to spend my birthday in this amazing city.  I'll fill you in on all the details tonight.

Happy birthday to me!