Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stepping closer to the end.

Freedom!  Well, sort of.

I took my final exam for my second class tonight.  Yay.  All the hard work is done.  Thank the Lord for curves because I somehow managed to get a B on a test that I BOMBED.  Apparently the rest of the class bombed it, too.  The good news is that I should get an A on this one because I studied a lot harder and feel way better about it.

I'm just glad it's done.  No more hard thinking.  I just get to enjoy my last few days in TFAS.

Last few days.  Wow.  That's still a little weird to write.  But it's true.  I have internship tomorrow, then the ICPES wrap-up session tomorrow night, then internship Thursday, and that's it.  Graduation is Friday, Mom and Mommom get here that afternoon, we have the graduation party Friday night, and then move-out Saturday.

Two months has never gone so quickly.

But the truth is I'm ready to go back to North Carolina.  I'm ready to go back to Campbell, back home.  It's no DC by any means, but it's still home.  I'm ready to get back to my friends and the family that I've created for myself there.  I'm ready to go back to Dr. Steegar's French classes.  I'm ready to listen to Dr. Thornton lecture on government.  I'm ready to go back to Dr. Mero's random tangent stories.  I'm ready to go watch Ryann play soccer with the school team.  I'm ready to get started for real with Louis and the College Democrats.

This summer was amazing, and I am totally aware of how blessed I am to get to be here, but I'm ready.  This is a good feeling.

Now ask me if I still feel this way next Tuesday.  I make no promises.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Low lows, but unbelievable highs!

So, uh, today was not what I expected.  At all.  In order to end on a high note, let's start off with the bad stuff first.

I ended up in the ER of George Washington University Hospital today.  Yeah, I know, it's like I can't stay anywhere more than a few days without checking out a local hospital. ;)  No, really, I was at work, and about half an hour after I ate lunch, I got up to go to the bathroom, and I started feeling like I was being kicked in the stomach repeatedly.  By the time I got out of the bathroom and was passing back by MC's office (my supervisor, in case you forgot), the pain was so bad I felt like I couldn't get a deep breath.  So yeah, the entire office staff pretty much had to get involved to get me an ambulance.  The paramedics were very nice, and Elizabeth (just a girl who works at the office) came with me because MC didn't feel right letting me go by myself.  Luckily, Remley showed up about an hour later, and they actually let her back with me.  She's awesome.

Long story short, there's a small mass in my liver.  They think it's just a hemangioma, which is a collection of blood vessels.  The good news is that that's not that big of a deal, and I just have to go see a GI doctor while I'm home to treat it.  The bad news is we have to make sure that it's just a hemangioma, and they have to figure out how I got one, because usually you get one either by an infection or being hit, and neither happened to me.  I don't know.  I'm just glad I get to finish my last week in DC.

Now, here's the really, really, really awesome news:  Louis, Chris, and the historian for the College Democrats hosted an event at Campbell today with a lot of local Democratic party members and various candidates and US Congressman David Price!  There were also some professors there, and Dr. Martin, who is the head of the History/Political Science/Criminal Justice department, all but guaranteed money to fund us to go to the College Democrats of America Convention in Charlotte at the end of August!!!!

I am FREAKING OUT.  Getting to the College Democrats of America Convention is HUGE.  We'll get to hear from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is like the head of Obama's re-election campaign (or something, I can't really remember right now), and Nancy Pelosi!  It's gonna be insane.  It's not technically official yet, but I know Dr. Martin, and the man does not even suggest something unless he really, really thinks it'll happen.

Here's the even better news...

Louis got some information from the Congressman today, and he's sending the link to the entire Executive Board...I didn't fully understand it on the phone, but there's some application that we can fill out that will pretty much guarantee us tickets to see Bill Clinton give the primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention and introduce Barack Obama as he accepts the nomination for the 2012 election!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When Louis was telling me this tonight, I literally could not speak.  And you KNOW how hard it is for me to be speechless.  It's insane.  I can't believe this is my life!!!!!!  And I am THAT much more excited to get back to Campbell!

I am so blessed.  Even in the midst of all the hospital stuff, I had this overwhelming sense of peace.  I have my moments (Exhibit A: yesterday), but overall, I really cannot complain.  As I've said to the handful of friends I texted today for prayers and because I knew they'd want to know I was in the hospital, all will be fine.

And it will.  It really will.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bear this in mind: a true friend is hard to find.

I don't know what to say.

I'm still kind of mentally exhausted.

The stuff with those friends who thought I was a traitor came to a boiling point that ended up with me sitting on the steps outside crying at 2 am.

The good news crying that hard that late makes for some solid sleep.

After everything that's happened in the past week, I'm really starting to question who my real friends are.  The past seven days have been filled with people simply turning out to be not who I thought they were.

I know, I know, Christians are just as messed up as anyone, but some of the people that I thought were some of my best friends are not acting like it at all, and it makes my heart hurt.

I'm supposed to be having the time of my life, and my heart is caught up in all of the pain and drama and heartbreak of the past week.  After all of the work I've done to get past the trust issues I had built up over the years, right now I feel like I need to do some serious reevaluation of who I decide to trust, at least as intensely as I have been trusting certain people.

I don't know what to do.  I know I don't want to turn back into that scared little high school girl who didn't talk to anyone, and I love my ability to be kind to everyone, even the people that hurt me, but I have to protect myself.  I can't keep spending nights in tears just because people are human and inevitably will let me down.  My life is too good to stay upset over people who don't even matter in the long run.

Oh, Jesus, give me wisdom...I don't want to shut people out unnecessarily, but I can't keep putting my heart out there for people who just step on it.  I don't know who I can trust anymore.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Worn Out

I'm worn out mentally by people today.

Actually, I'm worn out mentally by people this week.

In six days, I've had one guy basically accuse me of being in love with him when I had no romantic feelings for him whatsoever, my very best friend in the world take something I meant as a compliment to be an insult, and two of my favorite friends at school get mad at me and call me a traitor over something I didn't do and something I had nothing to do with.

I think I'm going to go back to my original plan of not talking to people for a while.

It's a good thing I have so many girlfriends who understand and love my heart.

And yes, some of you are included in that statement. :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Drama, drama, and more drama.

I'm so glad this week is over.

It started with drama I kind of knew was coming, and it ended with one of my best friends thinking I stabbed him in the back when I didn't at all.

So yeah. My mind is kind of dead right now.

I have nothing else to say.

Here's hoping the rest of the weekend goes better.  Then it's the last week of ICPES! AH!

This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  And I'm sharing it with you since I have nothing remotely interesting to say tonight.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

And somehow, I still want to talk on the phone.

The seminar this morning was really interesting.  It was all about graduate schools and the application process and finding a program that's right for you.  There were 4 speakers, one from George Washington, one from Georgetown, one from Johns Hopkins which was insane because she was the one speaking on international affairs and I didn't even know JH had a good program but it turns out they and Georgetown have like the top 2 best international affairs programs in the country, and a guy from the Princeton Review who spoke on getting ready for the tests necessary for grad schools (GRE, MCAT, LSAT, and what not).  I'm definitely glad that I went.

And no, that's not just because I got out of two of my eight hours of phone calls. ;)  Six hours was plenty.  We got through another almost 200 calls and I had a massive migraine by the end of it.

Then, I went to class which...well, was hard to focus on because of said migraine.  But I survived.

Then, I came back and took a shower and hung out. I ended up spending like 50 minutes on the phone with my friend, Jess, which was so good for my soul.  I can't believe I still want to have phone conversations with people after spending all day on the phone saying the same thing over and over again.  I am so blessed to have so many good, reliable girlfriends in my life.

And then I started surfing Youtube.  This isn't a worship song, but this a capella group certainly made this Beatles song feel like a gospel.  I love The Beatles, and "Let It Be" is one of my all-time favorite songs.  It's quite possibly the best cover of a Beatles song I've ever heard.  Check it out.  (The song only goes from :10 to about 1:50, the rest are judge comments, but it's the only quality video of the performance I could find and  I want you to see the emotion of the lead singer.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My day can be summed up in five words.

Seven hours of phone calls.

Matt and I spent literally all day calling the companies that we just sent letters to in the last couple of weeks to see if they got the letters (getting addresses off the internet isn't exactly reliable) and asking them if they were interested in donating.

The good news is it's not quite so mind-numbing when we split the work load in half and do it together.

The bad news is making two hundred (and no, that's not an exaggeration) kind of makes your head pound.

And we get to do it all over again tomorrow!  Except it won't be quite so much time because one of the staff is doing a tour of the National Archives so Matt is going to that, and I'll be at a two-hour seminar in the morning so I won't get to work until close to 11.

I can't believe next week is the last week.  Where did this summer go??  I definitely miss Campbell and am ready to get back there, though.  Tonight the officers of the College Democrats are having a big conference call, so that's just going to get us all that much more excited.  I love my school.  I love my friends.

As soon as that phone call is over, I'm going to bed because I did not sleep well at all last night.  I guess those phone calls did come in handy because they kept me from falling asleep on the job. ;)

On to tomorrow.

This is just a song that's been on repeat a lot the past few days.  I love worship music in general, but I love it when I find a song that I just want to play over and over and over again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trying Something Different

I need a mental break.

A break from all the heavy stuff, from thinking about emotions and relationships and fear and trust and all of the other things that have made up the streak of "deep" blog posts I've written lately.

Instead of spending so much time blogging and talking to people, I'm going to try to spend more time reading my Bible and connecting with God.

I'll still probably update my blog every day, just because it's habit, but it's basically just going to be a recap of what I did that day.

For example: today, I went to work (duh), where I organized binders, filtered out unnecessary paperwork from folders, and made phone calls.  Then I came back to the apartment, tried to relax a little, ate dinner, ordered groceries to be delivered on Friday, went to a lecture, came back and took a shower, and now here I am.  As soon as I finish blogging, I'm going to read my Bible for a bit and then go to bed.

I'm not sure how long this will last...until I give my heart time to heal and God gives me the strength to feel confident and capable again.  I just need some time.  Thanks for putting up with me anyway. :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Patience, child. Patience!

Alternately titled: I'm really hard-headed (as if that's news).

You know what's really annoying?  When you fully believe that God can do anything, but you find yourself stuck in a rut of wondering why He won't just do what you're asking  and DO IT RIGHT NOW?!?!

Then again, it's also probably really annoying to God when I stomp around and pout like a whiny four-year-old, so fair trade, I guess.

My family's on my mind today, for plenty of reasons that I don't really want to get into right now because the way I explain it will do nothing but feed my ego.  I guess the basis of the problem, though, is that I feel so completely disconnected from them because not only am I a Christian, but now I've become very passionate about my faith, and they don't want anything to do with it.  I think they're seeing the changes in me and it freaks them out.

Here's where my hard-headed and hypocrisy come into play.  Here I am, proud to tell people of the miracles that God has performed in my life, and yet I've basically given up hope on Him working a miracle in my family.  The world might say, "Well, after thirteen years of this, it's understandable for you to feel discouraged."  But the truth is that God has been SO faithful to me, and I'm not being faithful to Him.  I'm letting my own ideas for how I want things to go cloud the fact that HE is the all-knowing, all-powerful God and this world is on HIS terms, not mine.

To be faithful to God, I have to be patient and believe that He will work miracles in my family.  It's not enough to know that He can, I have to take comfort in believing that He will.  The thing is, it's just not going to be right now.  He's got a plan for all of us already laid out, and no amounting of my shouting and whining is going to change that.  God and God alone will give me the strength and wisdom to be the necessary light to them until He decides to come work in us, both individually and as a family.  Aside from that, though, it may not be my job to guide them.  I was pointed to a verse I'd never heard of before, Luke 4:24, that says a prophet is not accepted in his homeland.  Maybe He's got someone else that's going to come along and offer the support that I have been able to find other places.

I just have to be patient for His timing.  It may not make sense to me, but He's got a reason for still letting things be the way they are.  Because I know that He can fix this.  It's not a matter of whether or not He can, because He can do anything.  My life is full of evidence of that.  I know that whatever He's got planned for the rest of this saga, it's going to be more beautiful than anything any amount of therapy or work by our hands could produce.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Something Bigger

I have a lot going on in my head today, and quite frankly, I'm not sure where it came from.

I've mentioned many, many times before that the reason I talk so much about my journey through life and my story of coming closer to Christ because I want to help people.  I don't write on this blog every day because I want to be blog-famous, not at all.  I write for two reasons:  one, it's my release, the one way I know I can always let out whatever's going on inside my head and heart; two, I just want to help people.  If I can share the lessons I've learned through my trials and help someone else deal with their pain, then knowing it was all worth it seems a little bit more real.

People have told me for years that I'm good with words.  Sometimes I don't really see what makes them think that, but sometimes I get it, because people read what I write or they hear me talk about my story, and I can tell they're moved.  One day a couple months ago, a very good friend told me they could see me on a stage one day speaking to thousands.  At the time, I just thought it was a sweet compliment from someone who has always believed in me, but I didn't really put much thought into it.  I mean, why would I?  For years now, I've had a very specific plan in mind.  Graduate from Campbell at least magna cum laude, go to grad school, move to DC and start working in international politics.

I'm not saying I want to give all of that up, because I definitely don't, but lately, I've been thinking about whether or not I could be a speaker.  I had a dream that there was some Christian retreat where I was the speaker and The Vespers were the music.  I still don't know why I was dreaming about that, but somehow it felt natural.  And it's made me wonder if that could really be my future.  I've said for a long time that if I could  die knowing that I made one person's world better, then I'll feel like I've done my job, and that really would be enough for me...but then, Friday night, I saw an invitation on Twitter for people to submit their stories to an "I Was Broken" series, and I felt so compelled to write I had 1,000 words done in less than an hour.  And yesterday, I found out that a post I wrote and submitted to a different blog at the end of last summer was featured a few weeks ago.  I read the comments, and there were people saying how my post helped them, parents of children with disabilities far worse than mine saying how my words encouraged them to keep fighting on behalf of their kids.  I was face-to-face with the fact that maybe I actually am kind of good at telling my story and talking to people.

This has all led me to one central question: What if He has something bigger in mind?  What if the path I long thought was going to be my next steps in life isn't what He wants me to do?

I don't know if this really is God trying to clue me in or if it's just my imagination getting the best of me.  I don't even know where to begin if I am supposed to reach out to people on a bigger, broader level.

All I know is this:  my future is in His hands, and I'm willing to do whatever He asks of me.  I pray that He gives me a clear sign if there's an opportunity I need to take to make a difference with people because I don't want to miss it, and let's face it, I'm more than a little oblivious sometimes.  This is all for Him, anyway, and I want Him to use me however He sees fit, on a big or small scale, it doesn't matter.  I just want to bring Him glory, and if sharing my story with even more people is my means to do that, then so be it.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Aurora: My Thoughts

This world is making my head hurt today.

I'm sure you've heard about the heartbreaking shooting that happened in Aurora, Colorado early Friday morning at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.  Even my British mum has heard about it.  It's tragic, and a sign of just how broken and messed up this world is.

So as you can imagine, there has been a lot of discussion in the past two days about US gun laws and what part the fight over that played in the shooting.  The Democrats are blaming the Republicans for loosening the gun laws that made it possible for this shooter to get the high-powered weapons he had for his attack.  The Republicans are blaming the Democrats for having too strict of gun laws so that no one was armed to stop this guy.

My opinions on gun laws shouldn't be hard to figure out because my political stance isn't exactly a secret, but that's not why I'm writing this post.  I'm writing this because for the past two days, I have been saying that I'm tired of people politicizing a tragedy.  To be blunt, I don't think this is a politics issue.  No matter what the gun laws were, James Holmes still would've found a way to do what he did.  I think Democrats and Republicans blaming each other for something that no one except James Holmes is responsible for is completely pointless.  This isn't about politics to me.  This is about humanity.

It makes my heart hurt to know that there are people out there who would do something like this.  I think of the pain the families of the 71 victims are in, and I can't imagine that kind of agony.  I think it's so scary to know we live in a world that messed up and that something like this can happen to anyone at any time.  It makes me that much more grateful that this world is not my home, that I have an eternity in heaven waiting for me, and that pain, sickness, and evil doesn't exist there.  It's humbling to know that, in God's eyes, I am no better or worse than James or any other killer.  Sin is sin is sin, and it manifests itself in all sorts of ways.

I think that if President Obama and Mitt Romney can offer their sympathies and prayers to those affected without talking about gun laws, then that's the least the rest of us can do.  When things like this happens, we're no longer Democrats and Republicans fighting each other.  We're just Americans who need to band together to support the lives permanently changed by this horror.  I think instead of complaining about gun laws, we could all be doing something productive, like maybe donating to support the 5 sets of kids whose parents were killed.  Instead of talking politics, Christian could be in prayer for the victims, their families, James Holmes's family, and James, too, because as much anger as people may feel towards him, he needs a Savior just as much as the rest of us.

At the end of the day, we are one nation.  We're millions of people messed up by this fallen world we live in. There will be so much more time for politics, especially considering this is an election year.  This is a time for the greatest country in the world to offer support to some of our own.

That's my opinion, anyway.

Friday, July 20, 2012

You can't say "good eye might" without sounding Australian.

I went to Australia today for a couple of hours.

Embassy visit day! And how perfect I was getting to go to the country where one of my favorite online friends (I call her that because we met through a book club, added each other on Facebook, and now we talk on Twitter, so I don't really know what to call her) lives, Jen. :)

It was cool.  Our speaker was Amanda Sayegh, the Economic Minister Counselor.  So, duh, we learned all about the Australian economy.  Biggest lesson I learned?  Australia has it MADE.  I must at the very least visit there one day.

This is Amanda.  LOOK, JEN! A real, live Australian, just like you! Except she's cool and moved to America. :p

me in the lobby - I had to get a picture of my first embassy visit!

Yeah...I'm taking the day off from any deep talk.  I don't want to bore you. ;)  It's been a pretty fun day.  I slept in, went to the Embassy, came back, hung out, and had a ridiculously cool and eye-opening chat with Taylor's girlfriend.  God never ceases to surprise me with the people He'll put in my life and my path.

And now I'm going to bed and enjoying the fact that I have absolutely no plans for the rest of the weekend.

G'day, mate. ;)  Jen, that was just for you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Tonight's post is a little less about God and a little more about the fact that sometimes I'm way too hard on myself.

Okay, a lot of the time.

I basically got called out today.  In a good way.  This friend of mine asked me why I'm always wondering if I'm being a good enough friend to people when I'm one of the kindest people they know.

..........Yeah, I wasn't really sure how to answer that one, either.

But it got me thinking.  Why exactly do I do that?  Why exactly am I so concerned with taking too much and not giving enough when I clearly still have so many people in my life who love me?  Is it because of my perfectionist personality?  Is it because I spent so long being told I wasn't good enough that I now sort of can't believe I have this many friends?  Or is it just because I'm just that nice of a person? (Kidding!)

The people in my life who really know me know my heart.  They know there's not a thing in the world that I wouldn't do for them.  They know I'd wake up at 4 in the morning if they needed me.  They know that I put 100% of myself into every one of my relationships.  They know I love intensely.  And they still want to spend time with me and love me, anyway.  So clearly, I must be doing something right in this whole friendship thing.

Back to that whole "I love intensely" bit...Those three words will tell you exactly why I get so messed up when it looks like I've lost a friend.  I put so much of myself into other people that it sometimes breaks my heart.  It's been misinterpreted, but if there's anything I've learned from the people I've met in the past year, it's that the people who really mean something will see past it.  The first time Ryann forgave me after I legit screwed up I was blindsided because the only other person who had forgiven me was Matt.  And now, I can name so many friends that love me the same way.

These are the people that look past my imperfections, who love me just like I am.  Me.  Mal, intensity and all.  If I was doing something "wrong," they wouldn't still be here.  If I wasn't being a good enough friend, I wouldn't have people who text me out of the blue just to see how I'm feeling.  God made my heart this way because He saw it fit, and He put people in my life who see it that way, too.

I think this sort of goes back to what I wrote yesterday - I have to stop questioning why these people are here and appreciate the fact that they are and that I am loved.  I don't have to understand everything.  I just have to thank God for it.  I have to make these changes in my heart and in my mind.  April 5th didn't happen for nothing, so it could be forgotten as just another entry in this blog.  It happened so I could let go and trust in the vision God has for me and my life.  That's only going to happen if I force myself to quit all of the bad habits I was stuck in.

I am doing the best I can to be the best friend I know how to be.  God, the definition of perfect love, is consuming me and filling me more and more every day.  Because of that, because of Him, I will always be enough.

So God, as a thank you, this is the end of the questioning myself, questioning the love I have in my life.  I pray that by losing this part of the old me, I can shine Your light even brighter.

I may have to come back and read this post 50 million times, but hey, whatever it takes to make it stick. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What If vs. What Is

Usually, for my blog posts, I just sit down at the computer at the end of the night, and whatever comes to mind is what I write out.  It's pretty much a "stream of consciousness" type deal.  Even the "deeper" posts, I generally don't put much prep thought into them and can usually write them in about half an hour because it all just sort of pours out of me. But during my last phone conversation with Michal, I told her about these days where I have a Bible verse stuck in my head all day long, and she oh-so-nonchalantly replied, "Yeah, that's God."  So I've been trying to be more attuned to when God might be speaking to me as opposed to it just being my own thoughts.  And I've had an idea for tonight's blog post in my head since I was walking out the door for work about 7:30 this morning.  Whether this is God's idea or mine, since I've been thinking about it all day and nothing out of the ordinary happened, I might as well write about it, right?

It's no secret that I second guess everything in life.  Basically every decision I have to make, no matter how small, comes down to me playing out all of the possible options and results in my head.  Even when I do make a decision, 99% of the time I end up wondering what would've happened if I had picked the other option.  If you know me the least little bit, you know that I am ridiculously indecisive.  That's probably why I pick the same things over and over again at restaurants and such - I hate having to make a new choice.

So since my indecisive nature is a pretty obvious fact about my personality, it should come as no surprise that I have been asked before if I ever wonder what life would be like if I were healthy or if I had a normally working body.

The honest answer?  I used to all. the. time.  Spend as much time as I did in bed 2006-2010 and you kinda have a tendency to get caught up in your own thoughts.  I remember it being especially brutal in the fall of 2009 when I was laid up in Duke knowing that I was missing out on my first chance to experience college.  In fact, I spent a lot of time wishing I could be someone else.

You would think that once I got on the other side of the foot surgeries drama, that wouldn't be such a big question in my life, but really, I still wondered.  What if I wasn't in this stupid power chair?  What if I wasn't in pain all the time?  Would I be healthy?  Would I play sports?  On and on and on.  Sure, it lessened as I got more caught up in school and made a social life for myself, but it still happened.

Now, I've gone more than a year with God making it darn near impossible for me to ignore the fact that my life and my story are making an impact on people.  I can't pretend that isn't true when I have people, some of whom I consider to be my role models, call me a hero because of my story.  The same church that , for all intents and purposes, kicked me out several years ago invited me back to speak this January because of my story.  I have non-Christian friends tell me they understand why religion matters to some people so much because of my story.  It's quite simply impossible to ignore.

And if you asked me to pick one surprising lesson I've learned from all of these people showing me the impact I've had, something beyond the given "God is amazing. God is a healer. God is always with me." type of answer, it would be this:

When you get caught up in the what if in life, you miss out on the what is, and the beauty of the what is can blow your mind.

This weak and often broken physical body God gave me has led me to opportunities that I couldn't have gotten if I were someone else.  They're the kind of opportunities that bring me to my knees asking God why He ever thought that I was qualified to handle them.  If I had stayed in that bubble of self-pity even longer than I did, I would've missed out on some conversations, opportunities, and friendships that have made me that much more grateful to God for the blessings He has given me.  If I had second guessed myself in the moment, I never would've told Bruno my story that day at lunch.  If I had second guessed myself in forming a friendship with Ryann because of preconceived notions, I would've missed out on a girl that loves me like a sister. Every second that I spent wishing I was somebody else is a second I wasted not seeing how beautiful life is, even in the darkness.  Every second I spent wishing I was living someone else's life is a second I wasted not living out the purpose God had for me when He created me.  When I finally started focusing on the concrete, real present and quit worrying about what could be, I gained a confidence in myself that made me seem noticeably different to the people around me.

God created me in this body, with all of its issues and problems, for a reason.  I am in no position to second guess His reasoning.  That's basically what it boils down to for me, which is why I don't second guess my existence anymore.  He has a plan for me.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." Jeremiah 1:5

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

And if I can apply that mentality to the big things in life, God, my life, my health, why the heck can I not apply that to the small things?  One of the biggest things God has been working on in me the past few months, and even more intensely the past couple of weeks, is that tricky little thing called trust.  I have to completely, 100% believe that He is in control and that I am not, even when it feels like my plans shatter and I have to deal with "Plan B".  It was never Plan B to God.  There was never a second when I wasn't going to have 19 surgeries, when I wasn't going to lose my dad on June 17, 1999, when I wasn't going to end up in DC this summer.  Every time I think about the "what if", I'm taking away my trust in a plan that is so far above me and so incredibly perfect.

My challenge to you and to myself is to focus on the what is.  Good or bad, focus on the right now, and what God wants you to get out of it.  He gave you this life for a very specific purpose.  You'll never see it if your head is somewhere else.  Even when it hurts, even when it's scary, He's still there, and He will still make something beautiful out of your life.  Redemption doesn't always look the way you expect it to look, but that doesn't mean it's not redemption.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I slept all day.

So what you're getting tonight is a list of some of the things I'm thankful for.

Sleep in a comfortable bed in an air conditioned room.

Roommates that were quiet when they were here.

A supervisor who didn't care about me missing a day of work.

A program manager who didn't care about me missing an awards ceremony.

Worship music like The Vespers and Jenny and Tyler to help me relax once I could stand to listen to something.

Peace that passes all understanding.

Pain easing up enough that I think I can go to work tomorrow.

A really stubborn personality. :)

And now I'm going back to bed.  Good night, world.  On to tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Lord Who Heals

The truth is that my migraines absolutely suck.

The truth is that, as much as my sweet and well-meaning friends try to convince me otherwise, I'm not strong enough to handle them on my own. This blog by itself has documented just where I ended up when I thought I could handle everything on my own.

In one of my weak moments, I asked Brennan if this was God testing me and he wrote back, "Medical problems are not necessarily of or not of God.  They can be a product of our world. He just wants you to lean on him."

So that's what I've been trying to do.  Resting when I can, and always reminding myself of the fact that He's got me taken care of, and I'm going to be okay because I'm in His hands.  Because another truth is that while I'm not strong enough to deal with this, God totally is.  And it's only through the strength He gives that I'll be able to survive the next few weeks.

Everyone has physical pain.  No matter how bad it is, or how often you have to deal with it, every pain is a chance to trust in His power and healing.  It's a chance to claim healing and strength over the body I have been gifted with.  It's a chance to give it all to Him because this is what He's there for.  He sent His son as a piece of Himself to take on all our troubles and pains and worries so that we don't have to deal with them anymore.  Surrendering opens our eyes for us to see the magnitude of His strength and mercy.  He is the ultimate healer, Jehovah Rapha, and He can handle everything we never could.

Isaiah 58:8 is one of the verses that Brennan sent me when I was in the hospital in April.  It stuck out the most (of the verses he sent) to me then, and it's sticking out to me now.

"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."

I don't know about you, but that brings me a ridiculous amount of peace.  One of Brennan's most frequent reminders to me is that He's got me.  He's got me.  I don't need to be afraid.  He's got me.  This is all in His hands.

Oh, you wanna know what verse 9 says?  "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say, 'Here am I.'"

Lord, right here, right now, I'm giving all of this over to You.  I can only focus on doing what needs to be done to pass this program.  Stress and fear and worry are not of You, so I'm ridding my spirit of them right now.  I know You can heal me.  This is Yours now.  Thank You for always being there for me to fall back on, even when I was too scared to fall.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Power of Words

I've spent the majority of the day reading this week's assignments for class so I don't have to worry about it at night.  Constitutional interpretation isn't exactly the most exciting blog fodder, but it has sparked a whole new train of thought in me.  A lot of this class has been discussing what the writers of the Constitution actually intended when they chose the words they did, and it's got me thinking about how twisted regular communication can get between people who generally mean well (or at least, I like to believe they mean well).

Thanks to the phenomenon of social media and advancement of technology, so much of our person-to-person communication nowadays has been reduced to text.  And let's face it, it's really, really hard to be 100% clear on the intent behind your words when you're writing or texting instead of speaking right to the person.

Call me naive if you must, but I still somehow truly believe that people as a whole are good at heart.  Over the past few months, there have been several arguments that I have been involved in where everything got blown way out of proportion because meaning or intent was misinterpreted.  I'm an incredibly sensitive person, so I tend to take things that sound personal or hurtful as personal and hurtful, when the person who said them may not have meant them that way, right off the bat without stopping to think if I was jumping to conclusions.  People, including me, are so short on time that they just get out what they need to say without being intentional about making themselves clear.  I'm not saying that this is the cause of all inter-personal problems in the world, I'm not that naive, but I think if we all thought a little more about what we said, it would help things.

People often tell me that I'm good with words, but that's usually people who read this blog saying that.  Truth be told, I struggle with tact in face-to-face conversation a good bit of the time.  It's not that I'm mean, I just don't think about how what I want to say might come off to other people because, well, they're not in my head.  It's usually when my temper gets the best of me, really, and I know that's probably a big problem for a lot of people, but I have some friends who handle rude comments with such grace and thick skin, so I know it's possible to change.  When Chelsea comes at me with her verbal abuse, and I lose my temper, I stoop to her level.  As a Christian, I'm supposed to be above that, and for too long, I've used my humanity as an excuse.  Being human isn't an excuse for sin, otherwise there wouldn't be the kind of punishment that there is for sin that goes without repentance.

If I'm truly sorry to God for the way I've treated certain people, specifically my sister, then I have another job - try to be better next time.  Think about what I'm about to say and whether it shows her the God that I want to pour out of me.  The Bible says over and over and over again that we are supposed to use our words to lift others up and encourage them.  That doesn't include some corollary that reads "but only the people that do the same for you."  God doesn't work with corollaries; He is about universal love, even the ones my human heart wants to deem "unlovable" because, guess what?  My sin makes me just as unlovable as her, and He loves me, anyway.

I can't sit here and play games in my own head with questions like "how different would our family be if I'd learned this lesson sooner?"  I can't change the past, but I can stop letting it dictate the future.  I have so many people who encourage me on a daily basis, even when I was pretty hard to deal with.  That is a blessing from God, and blessings aren't meant to be for keeps.  That kind of blessing is something that I'm supposed to share with others, and not just other Christians who will probably already get what it is, but more specifically the people who don't know the God that I love so much.  I need to show it to them in such an intense and God-breathed way that they stop and question what makes me the way I am so that, maybe, they'll see God in me.

It all starts with the words I choose to say.  Am I going to encourage the people I face, or tear them down as soon as I feel threatened or hurt?  Actions may speak louder than words, but words still say a lot.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Christian Dating

I thought Sunday was supposed to be the day of rest...Turns out, it can be Saturday, too.

And it definitely is when you spend literally all day sleeping.

I had no idea that I was this exhausted, but apparently I really needed some extra sleep because I slept all day, didn't get up till almost 9:00 pm, and it's midnight now and I'm ready to go back to bed.

So I guess it's not such a bad thing that I didn't say anything in my blog yesterday, because there really is nothing to say about today, so I can say everything that I wanted to say last night.

This is Tyler.  He would be the same Tyler I've mentioned multiple times on here.  We went out to dinner last night.

I thought it was a date, to be totally honest, because I'm not exactly a subtle person, so I thought he could tell that I was interested in him.  And when I mentioned in front of one of our coworkers that he was taking me to dinner, and that coworker asked if it was a date, and I looked at Tyler for him to answer because I wanted to know what he was thinking, and he said, "more or less".......not exactly a helpful response.

Anyway, after my meeting with the legislative assistant to a Congressman yesterday afternoon, I went back over to the Navy Memorial to wait for him to get off work at the law office he works at most of the time (he comes over to the Navy Memorial when the lawyers have nothing for him to do).  I ended up covering the quarterdeck (the main level, front desk, our offices are actually in the basement) for Matt so he could go catch his Metro until we closed at 5, and then I waited.  He lives near the Capitol, so we went back over to that area and he took me to this burger joint that's actually kind of famous called the Good Stuff Eatery.  On the way, I wanted to know right off the bat if we were on the same page, so I basically just flat out asked him if this was a date to him.  First, he asked me if that was a serious question, which duh, of course he was, so when I said yes, he said no, not really.


Luckily, I don't think he figured out that I thought it was a date, and from what he said, I think what it boils down to is that he might actually like me, but he doesn't want to get involved with someone when our summer is basically over in three weeks and we don't live in the same state.  Which I totally get.  And I actually sort of agree with.  Either way, I have fun hanging out with him.  He's just ridiculously hard to read, which says a lot for me because I can usually read people pretty easily.

I don't know.  Boys are weird.  And if there's anything I've learned over the past few months, it's that I really need to work on me.  My life this year is about me.  So if there's going to be nothing that gets in the way of that, then that's a good thing.  I have pretty much everything I really wanted out of life right now, including some amazing guys and girls that I know would do anything for me, love me and accept me just the way I am, so I obviously can't be that bad of a person. ;)  (It was a joke!  I don't need any of you lovely people to tell me of course I'm not a bad person, haha.)

I don't think I'm ever going to be the girl who dates just because it's what you're "supposed to do," even if I do lose all this weight (which I think I've lost even more weight since I got to DC, so yay) and look "hot".  I don't want some guy who's basically just there to kill time with me.  There's this old saying that I've heard for years, but it now really means something to me now that my faith means something to me.

A woman's heart should be so lost in God that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.

That's what I'm working on.  I've seen some of my friends who are incredible, Godly people recently get into relationships based and centered on a mutual love for Christ.  That's what I want.  And knowing that there are people out there that are way more attractive than me (haha) who love God enough to wait to have relationships with people inspires me to go for the same thing.  Because I am worth it, but more than that, God is worth it.  He put all this effort into making me in His vision, I'd be doing Him a huge disservice to let just some guy who didn't truly love God use me for momentary pleasure.  I've considered and wanted just anyone at some points (usually when Chelsea is telling me that I'll never have a boyfriend or husband), but in the end, in my heart, I know it's not worth it, and it's not what this life is supposed to be about, especially not after everything I've been through to get to where I am now.

I know that I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt when I meet a guy that I'm meant to be in a real, committed relationship with.  Whether or not he's "the one", that relationship will teach me something I couldn't learn any other way.  Until then, I honestly pray that God will protect me and keep me from wasting my time and my heart on guys that aren't part of His perfect plan for me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Teaser

Today was long.

That's what happens when you go to work all day (on your day off!) and have a meeting on Capitol Hill in the middle of it, and then are unexpectedly asked to cover the front desk at the end.

Then I went out with Tyler on what I thought was a date but turned out to actually not be a date....yeah, it doesn't really make sense to me, either.

While I'd love to type it all out now, I've been up for almost 20 hours now (because this is actually being written at 2 am), and the roommate just got back and wants to go to bed, and I want to go to bed.

So yeah, that's the teaser for tomorrow.  When is a date actually not a date?  And why are boys so darn confusing?!

I have plenty of thoughts on that coming... :) Yay for finally being a "normal" (and I use the term loosely) 20 year old girl.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I've had several conversations with various people whose opinions and words I hold very high recently that have all sooner or later come back to this one recurring theme.

A new Mallory.

The first time I heard it, I took it in, but didn't quite understand what it really meant.  But as it kept showing up again, and again, and again, I knew there had to be something I needed to see there.

And tonight, before I started writing this post, I went searching on the old blog to see if I had written about this at all, especially since my baptism.  Well, through that, I stumbled upon this post from October 2010.  Yeah, I don't believe in coincidences, either.

The first thing that jumped into my head as I read that?  My heart wasn't in it.  Yes, I meant what I was writing, but I didn't really believe it.  I didn't believe that God would actually make those prayers come to fruition.  I was in the very beginning stages of coming back to God, I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into, I didn't know where to begin.  I still didn't believe that God would take all of that trauma and turn it into something beautiful.

Four months and one day later, I met The Vespers, and I began to see what it meant to be sure of who you are and live unashamed of your faith.

And then Ryann told me she appreciated her life more because of me.

And then other friends started telling me what they learned.

And then Callie told me the four of them had learned how to find the joy in life despite things getting hard because I managed to find the joy in life.

Everything started piling up in front of me in a way that I couldn't ignore it anymore.  Looking back on all of that, I can't believe everything that's happened since the day I met Bruno, Taylor, Callie, and Phoebe at school.  And here's something I don't think I've ever written on here before: a few days before they came to Campbell, I heard they were coming, so I went to their website to check them out, and as soon as I clicked on their page and looked at the picture of them, I thought to myself, "This could be what you've been waiting for."  I had no idea why I thought that.  Let's face it, I have some pretty weird thoughts sometimes.

Now, I do.  That was what I was waiting for.  I was waiting for a catapult that would throw me back at full force flying towards God, I just didn't know it.  God used them to help me.  Nobody would've guessed that me pouring out my story to Bruno, a stranger, at a crowded lunch table, would lead to me being baptized with Bruno and Taylor as witnesses in Nashville fourteen months later.  Forming relationships with those four have changed my life and was one of the smartest things I've ever done, no question.  But this post isn't meant to be about them.  This is about the fact that I am not the same girl that met them on February 2, 2011.  Furthermore, I'm not even the same girl that I was on April 5, 2012.

Taylor was actually the first person to call me out during one of our phone chats.  "You know what, this sounds like the old Mallory.  You're not the old Mallory anymore.  Be the new Mallory."  Thank you for that, Taylor.  When I got off the phone with him, all I could think, besides that he was so right about what he said, was, "So I wasn't making all the changes I've felt up in my head."

He is changing me, y'all.

I still have so far to go (don't we all?), but I'm falling more in love with Christ and chasing after Him with every day.  I'm feeling more sure of who I am and Whose I am every day, the same way I remember watching those four be the first day we met.  I woke up today feeling an overwhelming sense of peace about all of the issues that had been weighing on me.

I'm finally the Mallory that can say with 100% certainty that I know that God has got my back, that He is going to take care of me, and that He is in control.  I've never been more sure of anything in my life.  I see it, too, in how I'm not shy about telling people I'll pray for them (and then actually praying for them), in how I love to tell my story (Bruno was the first person to ever get the full story from start to finish, random fact) because I love to help people, in how I'm not ashamed of being who I am and living my life the way I truly believe God is asking me to.

I am not the same Mal that's inhabited this blog over the past 3 years.  I am changing.  And you know what else I know with 100% certainty?

I don't ever want to go back.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Long story, short form.

I woke up at 5:30.

I went to the Capitol.

I went on the House floor.

I listened to 3 members of Congress speak.

me and my friend Ryan. I like this picture.

me and Rep. Amash from Michigan, the only one of the three that stayed after for pictures

me and Amash's "legislative assistant" Kurt.  I got a pic with him because a) he's an alum of the program, b) he was nice, and c) I like pictures. 

I went to work.

I went to class.

My headache got much, much worse.

I came back to the apartment.

I took a shower.

I dried my hair.

And now I'm going to bed.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows, like sea billows, roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, "It is well, it is well, with my soul."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Checklist

Wake up way too early? CHECK!

Mindlessly label and stuff envelopes for four hours? CHECK!

Go visit the State Department, aka the place I hope will be my employer one day? CHECK!

Almost cause a security crisis because I need water to handle sitting in the heat? CHECK!

Get my name on a list of people interested in internships next summer with the State Department? CHECK!

Get completely unnerved by the x-rays from my roommate who managed to completely split a bone in her foot in two without even falling over? CHECK!

Praise God for protecting my friends during something scary? CHECK!

Go to a heartbreaking, totally convicting lecture on sex trafficking that's happening right here in the US? CHECK.

Leave said lecture to find that the bottom has fallen out of the sky, even though there hadn't been a drop of rain all day? CHECK!

Walk home in the pouring rain? CHECK!

Sort of twist my ankle while trying to get in my apartment? CHECK!

It's been an exciting day.  Ha!  And I get to wake up 45 minutes earlier tomorrow than usual.  I better get to bed.

I love DC.  I can't believe we're already in Week 5.

me and a friend at the State Department before the lecture started :) 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Choosing to Praise Him

Tonight, God, I praise You for the community that You have allowed me to build around myself.

I praise You for friends willing to pray for me.

I praise You for the music that not only provides distraction from pain but relaxes my nerves.

I praise You for modern medicine.

I praise You for my neurologist, her abilities, her knowledge, her willingness to trust that I know my body.

I praise You for Your perfect timing in allowing me to go see her literally the day after I get back from DC.

I praise You for sleep that restores my body.

I praise You for loving me no matter what, for never quitting, and for the comfort that brings.

I praise You for this beautiful life that I live, and for keeping my eyes open to the beauty when the world would understand if I were upset.

I praise You for tomorrow, because it is a new day, a new day in which I get to visit the place where I hope to work one day in the future.  I am so blessed.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I don't know what to title this amount of random.

When I said on Friday that I was "sort of" going to Ethiopia yesterday, all I meant was I was going to go to the Ethiopian neighborhood of DC because Natalie says their food is amazing. But that ended up not happening.

That ended up not happening because I woke up with a migraine.  And today would be the 9th consecutive day that I've had a headache.  And I had 5 in the week and a half before that.  Either I've stopped responding to my migraine med (which I am known to do), or the new seizure med they put me on after the pancreatitis is causing it.  I'm calling my neurologist tomorrow for an appointment as soon as I get back from DC.

This is going to be a busy week.  On top of work and my new class (Theories of Constitutional Interpretation), I have a visit to the State Department on Tuesday (where I hope to be working one day), a visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday (this time, with the program), and a small group meeting with a Representative on Friday.  I need strength and stamina now more than ever.

I am so tired.  And nothing of any importance happened today, so this is what you get.  I'm going to bed.  It's the one escape from this pain.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Love is terrifying.

I'm always a big fan of people who can combine satire and wit with spiritual conviction in a way that they are able to get a really powerful message across without boring people to tears.  You should check out more of these videos; this kid is hilarious.  And he's actually from Nashville, and a bunch of my friends know him, which is totally random but I think is cool.

This is probably my all-time favorite "Messy Mondays" video, and a big part of the reason for that is because of one line that comes about 4 minutes and 20 seconds in.

"God is love. But love? Is TERRIFYING."

Michal and I spent a lot of time talking about love in our conversation last night, both the incredible love we feel from God and the love poured out on us by the friends in our lives.  We were sharing stories about the people in our lives who make us feel so honored to be loved by them, and how all of that pales in comparison to the love God lavishes upon us despite how undeserving we really are.  The conversation, for me, could not have come at a more perfect time because I had just had several conversations with various people in which I let them know just how much they mean to me.

I've made no secret here about how much I love my friends, or how some of them feel more like family to me now.  I'm not shy about telling them the same things I've written here, either.  I know what it's like to have no one and to feel like no one would miss you if you were gone, so I don't want any of the people whom I love to ever wonder if they matter, even for a second.  I love intensely, and yes, sometimes that sets me up for pain and heartbreak because people don't understand my heart or my intentions behind it, but the truth is, I wouldn't change this part of me for the world.

Michal was telling me about a friend of hers during our conversation, and she said she "had never felt more honored to be loved by someone," how she couldn't understand why he loved her so much.  I instantly knew who that person was for me...

Remember "that friend" I told you about whom I did not speak to for about three weeks?  I was intentionally very vague about who it was because I felt extremely protective over this person, for reasons I didn't understand at the time.  That person knows about this blog, and if they found the things I had said about them, I wanted them to see that I was trying my hardest to respect them while still being able to release my pent up feelings about the situation, and I didn't want them to think I was broadcasting what had happened to the world so that my friends would hate them because I wasn't.  I never hated them.  Now that that is all over and in the past, I finally feel like I can tell you who "that friend" is.


What happened between us honestly doesn't matter to me anymore.  What matters to me now is that when Michal said she felt more honored to be loved by this friend of hers than anyone else, his name popped in my head right off the bat.  I knew why I was so protective over telling you that Brennan was "that friend".  It's because from the second I met him, his love for me has been more Christ-like than anything I've ever experienced from another person.  When we finally made up after that rough patch, during that conversation, I realized that Brennan's love for me had never quit.  He'd never stopped praying for me.  He'd never stopped wanting the best for me.  He hadn't given up on me when I fully expected him to, because that is all I had ever known.  I was feeling protective over that love.

I ask myself often what I ever did to deserve a friend who loved me like that. I posed that same question to Michal last night in the midst of our discussion of God's love and the love of our friends.  Why does Brennan still want to be my friend despite the fact that, let's face it, sometimes I'm crazy?  Why didn't he leave when he first had the chance?  Because he understands the love of Christ in a way I'm still trying to figure out.  Christ has been using him and everything I've been through with him to show me the love He had waiting for me for so long.  Just like I never did anything to deserve Brennan's love as my friend, I'll never do anything to deserve, change, or take away Christ's love for me.

For a long time, I never understood why people used the term "God-fearing."  I didn't understand why you were supposed to be afraid of a God that is pure love.  Now I get it.  That love really is the most terrifying thing I've ever had to face.  The idea that Brennan still cares about me despite everything that happened scares me.  The knowledge that I am loved unconditionally by God in the middle of a world that constantly tells me I have to prove myself scares me.  How perfect God must be to love me despite the fact that I am often an utter failure.  Real love, the kind of love that Christ exemplified in his very existence, is humbling, exciting, unnerving, and absolutely terrifying.  That probably sounds like a disaster waiting to happen for someone with my long history of trust issues.  But the truth is, I'm not scared of being loved anymore.  I'm not scared to tell Brennan anything and everything on my heart because I know he'll still be there when I'm done.  He has shown me Christ.  Christ will still be here no matter what.

God is terrifying, but it's in the most beautiful way, the kind of beauty our human minds can't understand.  I am honored that He has put His love in my life in a totally tangible way.  I pray that He gives me the chance to pay it forward, to have the courage to be someone else's "Brennan."  Don't let me miss it, Lord, when I have the chance to change someone's world the way this friend has changed mine.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Well, check that one of the bucket list.

Today, I went to the Capitol to go visit my mentor, Natalie, at work.  She's a scheduler for a Congressman from Wisconsin and invited me to come so she could give me a personal tour.  And that she did.  She took me from the House office building that she and her Congressman work in, to the basement, to go through the underground tunnels to get into the Capitol.  All of the House office buildings, the Senate office buildings, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court are connected to the Capitol underground.  How convenient, especially since it's 100 degrees outside.  And it's in the 80s in NC, what's up with that?!

Anyway, she took me down to get my clearance pass, and told me to wait for her by a door while she got it.  She came back and all she said was "follow me" and then proceeded to take me somewhere that not many people get to go...

The floor of the House of Representatives.

The balcony/gallery area is what is open to all the public, but only staff is allowed to go on the floor unless you get special clearance.  And I got to sit in the seats.  I got to stand in front of the podium where the president gives the State of the Union address.  I was in utter shock, so much so that I could not speak.  It was unreal.  I still can't believe that actually happened.  Natalie explained to me what all the decorations on the walls meant.  Sadly, I couldn't take any pictures on that entire floor, but trust me, it happened, and I don't think I'm ever going to forget how cool it felt.

Warning me that nothing else on the tour would be that exciting (haha, duh), she took me over to the Rotunda and showed me lots of the statues that are of people from each state.  I didn't find the NC statues, though.  She took me to the room that was the House floor back when John Quincy Adams was in Congress, and told me lots of stories that I found fascinating as a history/presidents nerd.

Then, we went back to her office for about half an hour so she could finish some work because the offices were closing early today because of the holiday.  I called Mom, and Natalie said she'd give them a tour when they come to pick me up next month.  So yay, I wanted to introduce Mom to Natalie.  We went down to the "flag office" so she could get a flag to be delivered to be flown for some kid from their district who became an Eagle Scout.  Apparently, they do that.

Then, she took me to this really awesome Mexican place right by the Metro Station, and we sat there for about an hour just talking.  It was great.  I really like her.

Then, I came home and chilled out, and then took a two hour nap which felt amazing.  I messed around on the computer a bit more, enjoying the fact that I had nothing that HAD to be done.  Later, around 9:45, I went outside to call Mom and I ended up meeting this guy named Wilson who was playing a bass and asked me if our trash heap always looked that bad.  Haha, yes it does.  We stood around talking for a bit, and then he invited me to come hang out with him and his friends, so I did.  He's actually not in the program, he was just visiting a friend who is, but we bonded over music, so I said sure.  That didn't last long before they all decided to go out to a bar, so I came back to my apartment.

I started my laundry, and spent 50+ minutes on the phone with Michal, which was great because we haven't had a good talk in what feels like forever.  I'm so thankful for that girl.  She just gets me.  And then I somehow managed to put up all of my laundry and make my bed without waking up Jody, which was a miracle.  And now here I am.  And some random but very good-looking dude just walked out in boxers covered in cacti and started asking me questions about my blog.  This apartment is a strange place to be at night, that is for sure.

Here are the pictures I was able to take at the Capitol today.

a giant statue called "Lady Liberty" in the Visitor Center

a gorgeous view out one of the windows straight to the Washington Monument

me with George Washington

Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony.  The lump is either for whoever will be the first female president, or it's there to symbolize that the fight for equality for women never ends.  Both are rumors flying around.

me with Martin Luther King, Jr.  I mostly took this one for Mom.

me with Natalie 

Have I said enough times how much I love my life?! :)

Tomorrow, I'm going to Ethiopia!...well, sort of.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Three Months: Just the beginning.

It's been three months.  Three months since that epic night in Nashville. Three months since God hit me harder than ever before and I found Him in a completely new way.

In some ways, it feels like my baptism happened yesterday, and in other ways, it feels like I've lived a lifetime since then.

I've never remembered the details of an event so clearly. I still remember everything, the sights, the people, the music, the emotions. That's why I'm so grateful for this blog, because if I ever do start to forget, I can just go back and read that post and be taken right back to the moment, the moment when I realized everything that had been waiting for me when I was too scared to let go and just FALL.

Until that night, I was too scared to give up my fight for control, even as I worked so hard to be closer to God. There, in that church, though, something miraculous happened. I felt God for the first time surrounding me. He was unmistakably in that room. He was in the hearts of all the people who led me to that decision. He was in the voices of the band. Despite knowing that 30 or more people also got baptized that night, in the moment, it felt like everyone involved was there to be His vessels to call me back to Him, like it was all for me.

I have learned more about what it means to be a Christian and who God is and the gravity of what Christ gave up for me in the past 3 months from a handful of people that were a part of that night than I learned in the nineteen and a half years of my life before that.  And I think I know why...

I think it's because that night, as miraculous and God-breathed as it was, was far more than the culmination of my years-long journey back to God. It was also the beginning.

It was the beginning of me giving my whole heart into making a real relationship with Christ.

It was the beginning of me longing after Him more than I long for the affection of other people.

It was the beginning of me running towards Him without being afraid of falling.

It was the beginning of me trusting other Christians and forming a community around me because I realize that I can't do this alone. He's put these people in my life, he put those certain people at Sanctuary that night for a reason.

It was the beginning of Him taking the years of healing I had to have and turning them into something more glorious than I could ever imagine.

Now, three months after that night, I am here in Washington, DC, living my dream. This is a dream I had given up all hope of when I was in the midst of those surgeries. I had given up on God, I had given up on having a normal life again, I had given up on my future being bright. I've said it so many times today, but if you had told me in 2009 or 2010 that 2012 would turn out to be like this, I would have told you that you were insane. But no. I had turned my back on God completely, and He was still planning and setting things up to give me this ridiculous blessing. And not only that, I have more quality friends now than I know what to do with.  That kind of love is unimaginable. This is what it feels like to be faced with something you cannot understand, no matter how hard you try. It blows my mind.

When I wrote that post about the night of April 5, I titled it "The beginning of the rest of my life." I had no idea it would have this kind of meaning. He has done more in the past 91 days than anyone who was there to witness the miracles that night could have ever predicted. That night, my baptism, was the start of the most magnificent transformation that will continue for the rest of my time on this earth.

To the people involved, and you know who you are, I thank God for your willingness to be His hands in my life every day.  You have challenged me, prayed for me, prayed with me, and kept me focused when I had my moments of human weakness.  You are angels in my eyes, every single one of you.  I pray that God blesses you a thousand fold for the gift that you have been to me.

Thanks be to God. And that's all there really is left to say.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Baby, you're a firework.

(I know, I know, it just killed you to not find a post from me detailing how incredible my 4th of July in DC was by the time you got up this morning.  Well, as you will see, the night was a bit hectic, so I got back way later than I originally planned.  So by the time I got back to Georgetown, all I wanted to do was take a shower, dry my hair, and sleep. My apologies.)

Most of my day was way more low-key than I expected it to be.  The boy and I were going to spend time together, but his mom came into town from Texas for work, and he ended up spending the day with her (which I, of course, totally understood).

So I slept in, went to this great burger joint for lunch, and then wandered around for a bit.  I went down to the Capitol South metro stop and walked around.  This is, of course, where the Capitol and a lot of Congressional office buildings are.  I loved looking at all the old buildings, but I only took a picture of this.

I can't wait to tour the Capitol.  It's going to be awesome.

After I got bored there, I went over to the Navy Memorial and wandered around over there.  I went to Starbucks to get some cold water, and then hung out in Potbelly's and let my phone charge while I enjoyed the air conditioning for as long as possible.  I ate dinner there, and then headed over to the Washington Monument about six o' clock.  

The boy originally told me that he was going to come for the concert, but he texted me at 7:30 and said he couldn't, but he'd be there at 9 for the fireworks.  So I hung out and enjoyed the cool breeze, good music, and put in my iPod when the good music became bad music.  Time actually passed pretty quickly.

Just after 9:00, the fireworks started, and it was quite honestly the coolest fireworks show I've ever seen.  I don't know if it was the magic of being at the Mall with literally a million other people or what, but it was incredible.

Prepare for firework pictures in overload.  I had the perfect view.  (These are not in order, sorry. Blame Blogger.)

Yeah, it's hard to capture good pictures of fireworks with my dinky little point-and-shoot camera, but I wanted to do it anyway.  I love that I can now say I was on the Mall for the 4th of July.

At 9:25, when the show was practically over, I texted the boy because he STILL wasn't there.  He said he was on his way between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.  (Of course, he decided to go to the concert I'd originally planned on going to but decided not to because I didn't want to walk from the Capitol to the Mall.)

The fireworks were over about 9:30, and the Mall slowly started clearing out.  And I sat and waited...

and waited...

and waited...

I texted him at 10:00 and said "dude, you're killing me! haha" and got no response.  I tried calling him several times over the next twenty minutes, and got no response.  Part of me thought he was standing me up, and part of me thought something bad had happened to him.  I texted him at 10:20 and was basically like "DUDE. WHERE ARE YOU. It's been 50+ minutes!  If I don't hear from you by 10:30, I'm leaving."  Yeah...I was starting to get a tad bit irritated becaue I couldn't figure out why he wasn't there yet.

Ha. About five minutes later, he called.  "Hey, I know you're probably freaking out, but I'm not there because I lost my phone basically right after I sent you that last text, and I've spent the past hour looking for it.  I'm coming now...if you're still there."  Of course, I waited for him.  I just wanted to see him.  He got there a few minutes later, but by that point, knowing I had a good 45 minute (at least!) commute ahead of me, I basically gave him a hug and told him I needed to go.  So he walked me to the metro station, like any good southern boy. ;)

Lesson to be learned, folks?  Metros do not work half as well on a holiday as they do on a normal day.  Not only were there tons and tons of people, the cars were running behind, half of them didn't work, and then when we got on, we had to wait like five minutes before the door would shut and we'd leave.  That happened both when I got on at the Metro near the Mall and the Metro to get me to my Georgetown bus stop (you have to switch lines).  It was insane.  I was so nervous that I was going to miss the last bus back to Georgetown, and by that point, my phone was dead dead dead so I couldn't have even called a cab, but luckily I made it.

So yeah, I didn't get back to my apartment until 11:45, then I took a shower, blowdried my hair, and went to bed.  And then it took me until past 1:00 to fall asleep.

Long story short, I'm thrilled and so, so blessed to have been in DC for the 4th of July, but once was certainly enough.  I won't mind if I never go through all of that again.

Also, what would the 4th of July be without a good little cliché lyric from Katy Perry? ;)  Hope y'all had a good holiday.