Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Soccer

I don't know how today went by so quickly.

The highlight was definitely going to the Campbell women's soccer game.  We lost in overtime, but a) I love soccer b) I love watching Ryann play.

Plus, a bunch of the parents of the team go all out for every single game and provide this spread of amazing food for after the game.  As I jokingly told Ryann today, "If I didn't love you, this food would be reason enough to come to a soccer game!"  What can I say?  College students never turned down home-cooked food, especially when it's free. :)

But seriously, I'm such a proud best friend.  My throat hurts by the end of every game from yelling so much.  The best time, though, is going to be on the 13th, because Mom is coming up for that one because it's senior night and her last chance to see Ryann play.  Mom is going to have a ball, too.  Anytime you get Mom and Ryann together, I'm suddenly like chopped liver.  I love it!  No seriously, I do.  I love the fact that anytime I introduce one of my friends to Mom, they love her.  Matt and Ryann are the only two that have been "adopted" but that's just because they're my best friends so she knows them the best.

I don't know why I'm so tired this weekend, but since I am and I already got the only piece of homework that has to be turned into tomorrow done, I'm going to bed.  I'm too tired.  Everything else can wait.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Army Rising Up

Today was pretty much a total bust.  It was raining, there's drama in the club, and basically no one came up to our tent.  I'm tired and going to bed, so this song is pretty much all I want to remember about today.  I've been listening to it over and over and over again this week.

Every single time I sing this song and I get to the line "There's an army rising up," I think about Sanctuary and my baptism.  Every person that was there that night played a part in how special it was for me.  I've said it many times before, but I've never felt love from a group of people like I did that night.  It was the first time I'd ever felt a Christian community banning together to lift me up, and they didn't even know me.  Every person that told me congratulations and hugged me or patted me on the shoulder or simply just cheered for me when Brennan lifted my arm in the air on stage was welcoming me into a family I'd been missing out on my entire life.  I'd been terrified of going to and trusting in a church until that night.

It wasn't just me, though.  I remember so clearly standing in the lobby talking to Taylor and Bruno, and I looked around and saw people on their knees with others just laying hands on them.  People who are just as broken as anyone else got together to bring some of us back to Christ, and most of the people probably didn't even know the ones they were helping.  Brennan and Joe and the other two guys who prayed for me certainly didn't know me.  They saw me at my weakest and held no judgment, just love and patience and sincere prayers to God on my behalf and my family's behalf.

At least thirty people got to experience the same overwhelming sense of love that I did that night, and as Kyla told me one day, that's a bond that we share that no one can ever change or take away.  Thirty people got baptized in a single night; several of my Nashville friends who attend Sanctuary regularly and go to churches where public baptisms are normal told me they've never seen anything like what happened on April 5th.  I remember getting on Twitter the next day and seeing a tweet from a girl through the Sanctuary twitter who said "There's a revival in Nashville."  And if those thirty+ other people have been feeling the same enormous, intense, overwhelming changes I've been feeling over the past almost six months, that revival is still going.

I am not the same person I was on April 5th, and I am so glad that's the case.  For the first time in my life, I am 100% sure of myself.  I've accepted my weakness.  I'm learning how to let go of the people who hurt me and the things I can't control.  April 5th was the first night I ever definitely heard God speak, and He's been speaking straight into my heart so often since then that I've been able to use His words to minister to others.  I have felt God breaking all of the chains that were holding me back, chains of fear, doubt, anger, pain, depression.  He's freeing me a little more every day.

And it all started in Woodmont Hills Church.  I have to get back to Nashville.  I have to get back there so I can go back to Sanctuary and be with the first Christian church community that ever made me feel like family.  I have to get back to the place that started the chain of events that changed my life and started turning me into the woman God's seen hiding in me all along.  I don't know when or how it's going to happen, but I pray that God will give me a way.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Good night, world.

I have a busy weekend ahead.

On top of an average load of homework, this is Family Weekend, and before the football game tomorrow there is a Club Carnival.  The goal is to raise money to buy gifts for Campbell's Christmas Store that will sell Christmas gifts to local poor families really cheap.  The College Democrats have to host a booth in order to get off probation with the part of the administration that gives school clubs funding.  So I have to go set up for that at 3, then the Carnival is from 4-6, then I promised a friend I'd go to the football game with her.  Then Sunday, Ryann FINALLY has another home game (they haven't had one since Labor Day).

So yeah.  It's going to be interesting trying to get all the work I need to done on top of these activities.  One would think that would mean that I'd be doing work until late tonight, but one would be wrong.  Instead, I'm so tired that I'm going to bed before midnight and getting up early tomorrow (okay, early for me).

It's been a roller coaster kind of week. Lots of unexpected things have happened, both good and bad and some I'm not sure what they are just yet, and I'm tired.  So since something I've been waiting on for three days doesn't seem like it'll be happening tonight, I'm going to take advantage of the silence and let my head and heart rest..

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

You're never fully dressed without a smile.

Oh, that title has absolutely nothing to do with today's post.  It was just on Glee earlier tonight, so it's kind of in my head.

I have absolutely nothing deep to say today.

Turns out, one can still be exhausted after one gets almost eight hours of sleep.  I woke up with another migraine, day 3 this time (surprise surprise, this past weekend was a fluke), and went to go help Jared study for our French Lit test that is tomorrow which, duh, only made the headache worse.

To add to the fun, I then went and took a Human Diversity test.

And then I proceeded to come back and take a 3 hour nap and then do absolutely nothing productive for the rest of the day except sit in the dark and sing in hopes of distracting myself, and then watch Glee and Scandal which also were very good at making me distracted from how bad my head hurts.

And now I actually have to study.

So yeah, I have nothing deep to say.  Blame the fact that my eyeballs currently feel like they're going to throb themselves straight out of my head.

Blog fail.  But hey, in case I ever get the desire to know what I did on September 27, 2012, I will know.  Or something like that.

Oh, random good news - after this semester, I only have 13 classes left to take, which means I will never have to take 18 hours again once I get through this semester.  Yay for that.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

He equips the called.

For starting off the day on about four hours of sleep, lots of things went right today.  I was actually coherent in French History class.  French Lit got canceled because Jared (the only other student in there) is sick.  Voter registration was a success.  I got a 95 on my Comparative Foreign Government quiz.  We all managed to talk respectfully to each other in Municipal Government.  Several of my friends got good news and some resolution to the problems they were dealing with.  I had a 45-minute chat with Taylor, which always puts a smile on my face.  A surprise from Bruno is coming. That boy and his heart, I just don't know what to do with him sometimes. :)  I am so blessed.

But really, the biggest thing for me was realizing how much stronger I am now.  This summer was hard, a lot harder than I let on a lot of the time, and I was still trying to find my footing in how to live this life while figuring out what it meant to chase after a relationship with Christ.  Now, I feel like I've gotten my footing somewhat.  I'm sure of who I am, and Whose I am, and people that I look up to as some major role models have come to me looking for spiritual wisdom and advice.  For a girl that still feels very much a "baby Christian" that just baffles me in a way.  I feel so ridiculously unqualified to be giving this kind of advice.

In a way, though, I guess it makes sense.  One of the phrases I've picked up from Taylor is "Disciple and be discipled."  That's what we're here for, to help each other stay on the path that will help God to bring the most glory for Him out of our lives.  For all the lessons I know my friends have taught me, I'm beginning to realize that they've learned just as much from me, and it's not because any one of us is "qualified" for this.

These relationships work and we learn from each other because our hearts are in the right place.  We love God, we love each other, and we want to help.  We don't have anything to do with the rest of it; GOD gives us the words the other needs to hear, GOD tells us what we need to do next.  It's like that kind of cliché saying, "God doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called."  We're broken.  None of us could be the friend the people we love need if He didn't give us the tools.

It's only fitting, isn't it?  I wouldn't have met any of these people had it not been for His intervention, let alone actually become friends with them.

I am surrounded by beautiful, amazing, Godly, loving people.  This blessing is the kind of love I can't comprehend.  And I'm not supposed to.

And slowly but surely, that voice I've had in the back of my head for my entire life telling me I'm never a good enough friend to the people I love fades into nothingness...

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Today was a fairly average Tuesday.  Average is good sometimes.

Well, aside from the fact that I finally said goodbye to Brennan and deleted him from my life.  But I don't really feel like getting into that because it's just not worth it.  Know that I feel at peace with the decision and I know that now I'm finally to the point where God can start to heal all the pain this debacle caused.

But anyway, I'm sitting here thinking about what to say in tonight's blog post and all I can think is Girlfriends are so important in this life.

Like, seriously.  For the first time I'm realizing that as much as I love the guy friends that I have, and I know that they would do just about anything to help me, there are some things that they just shouldn't hear.  There are some they just can't understand because they're guys.  And tonight, really for the past few days, I am acutely aware of how amazing the women in my life are.  I am so blessed to have them in my life, loving me in a way I've never felt loved by my actual sisters.

There's one in particular that stands out to me right now, though.  Her name is Kyla.  I've never actually met her, but I feel like I have.  (I know, that sounds weird.)  She is part of the Sanctuary band and I remember hearing her sing that night in Nashville.  The music played a big part in that night, so once I knew that, I immediately felt appreciative of her.  We started talking a couple of days after I got out of the hospital in April, after I posted my blog about my baptism on Twitter once I got out of the hospital, Taylor retweeted it, and she saw it.  We never had a real, detailed conversation until about a month later, but since then, we've formed quite the sweet friendship.  And over the past couple of weeks, I've come to realize just how similar our hearts are, so I think that's why it's so easy for us to talk to each other.  To know that there's a girl out there who will listen to you talk and leave you feeling like she really gets where you're coming from is such a comforting feeling when you're stressed or hurting.  She and I have spent hours talking lately and by the end of every conversation, there's something we talked about that I think of that just makes me smile and laugh.

It just blows my mind sometimes, to be quite honest, that there are actually still people like that out there, specifically girls.  It's helping so much to tear down the last of the walls I'd been fighting to keep up around my heart.  Kyla, Michal, Ryann, Elizabeth, all of these girls have shown me a love that I'd gone without until I met them.  It's a completely different kind of love than what I feel from Matt, Taylor, Bruno, Paddy, all of the guys in my life, a love I didn't even know I was missing until now because I was so scared.  I am so blessed to have them in my life.  A few years ago, I had completely given up on anyone but Matt, guy or girl, ever loving me.

So, lesson of the day (week?) is, as it turns out, not all girls are mean. Haha! :) I hope these girls know that they teach me so much every day just being in my life.  They are irreplaceable gifts.  I pray that God never lets them forget that and that He fills me with the wisdom to show them the love they have shown me.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

A Servant's Heart

Today was a hard day for me.  I knew it was going to be hard going into it, and as much as I tried to mentally prepare for it, I still sort of had the shakes as I was sitting in my morning classes.  Yeah, my nerves are fun.

The good thing about God being, well, God is that I didn't have to say that I needed to get my mind off of everything.  He already knew that sometimes the best thing for me is to focus on other people, and He gave me the opportunity for that in spades today.

Two people I love very much are dealing with some intense stuff regarding each other.  And I spent pretty much my entire afternoon and evening talking to them both individually.

The kind of interesting part about it is that the first conversation with the guy started out by him calling me and telling me that my blog post last night really touched him.  I take this guy's opinions very seriously, so when he said that "Over the past four or five weeks, my respect for you has grown more than I ever thought it could," I just about busted out in tears right then.  To know that someone else sees and appreciates the powerful changes I've been feeling God doing in my heart and life was a level of reassurance that I didn't even realize I needed today.

I am so grateful for what happened today.  The conversations I had with these two were completely God-orchestrated, meaning I had no plan for these to happen.  Neither knew I was talking to the other one until after it happened.  While I talked to each of them, I could feel the Holy Spirit giving me the words they needed to be told, and to just hear them say I helped them and that they appreciate me gave me that kind of happiness that I can only get when I'm helping other people.

In this life, in this country more specifically, people as a whole can fairly easily get caught up in selfishness.  I admit I do it often.  But today showed me that there is nothing more beautiful or worthy of my time in this life than to be serving others.  I made a girl dealing with a lot of personal issues feel happy by the time tonight was over just by talking to her.  Nothing I ever do will give me this kind of joy.  I feel indescribably honored that these two let me into their hearts and their lives and are giving me a front row seat to what I know is going to turn into the beauty only God can create.

It just makes sense, though, doesn't it?  An incredibly powerful passage in the Bible is in John 13 when Jesus gets down on his knees and washes his disciples' feet.  The son of God bathed the feet of mere men.  Verse 15 says "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."  Jesus comforted me when I had no one in this world, when I didn't even realize that He was there.  His entire reason for being was to save the souls of unworthy people.  He was perfection in the flesh, and yet he lived his life serving others.  He loved doing it because God sent him here for that.  It's my job to live the same way.

And all of this happened on the one-year anniversary of the day sweet Sara, one of the best examples of a servant's heart I've ever seen, went to heaven.  As I've said, I just don't believe in coincidences.

Today has been a reminder in so many ways that I have this heart for others for a reason.  As this friend said today as he was talking about my gift for writing, my physical body may fail me often, but God has given me skills to make up for it.  I may have physical issues, but I have a way to connect to other people with my words that not a lot of people have.

All of that is to say this:  Today has made me seriously consider for the first time whether God is calling me into ministry in some form.  I know I'm meant to be in the field I'm in in college, but I've had this feeling in the back of my mind the past few weeks wondering if He's got something bigger planned for my story and my love for words, something I could do not as a career but just as a way for me to help people.  And after everything that is a part of my story, I know God can do anything He sees necessary.

And God, since I know You're listening, I am willing.  I am so willing and so ready.  Bring me the opportunity, and I know the Holy Spirit will give me the words I need to shine Your light.  More than anything, I want to tell the world just how good You really are.  I want to help bring people back to You the way some dear friends of mine have helped bring me.  All the good I do in this life is because of the fact that You never gave up on me.  So I'm in.  I'm all in.  Use me.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Your path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell.

There's a line that's really getting on my nerves today, and for once, it wasn't said to me.  I read it in a blog post of a girl who sounds so much like the way I felt a few years ago, and it just makes my heart hurt for her because I now know that it's not Biblical or accurate.

"God never gives you anything more than you can handle."

Now, I understand the sentiment behind it.  I understand why people might say that to a loved one, in hopes of building up their self-esteem to the point that they believe in themselves again.  In hindsight, I understand why so many people, church members, nurses, pastors, and on and on, said it to me when I was going through all of that medical trauma a couple years ago.  They wanted me to find the hope that I would get through all of that.  But all it did was make me feel even worse for not believing in myself the way everyone seemed to.

Here's what I now believe to be true:  God will absolutely give you more than you can handle.  I mean, take a look in the Bible.  Do you think Job could handle losing everything he had and all the people he loved by himself?  Do you think that Daniel could handle being thrown in with hungry lions by himself?  Do you think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could handle being thrown in a furnace by themselves?  If they could handle any of that on their own, there wouldn't be a need for God.

I believe that we face trials in this life so that we can come closer to understanding that we can't handle the pain on our own.  Part of being human means that the skills and strength we have within us will never be adequate to face all of the horrible things that come with living in a sinful, broken world.  God never once promises us in the Bible that our path to His Kingdom will be easy.  Jesus does say, however, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

So you see, God tells us that this world will not be easy.  BUT Jesus Christ came to defeat all of the brokenness and evil so that if we cling to Him, we will be carried through difficulty that would otherwise make us feel like giving up.  I think it is when we accept the fact that we are inadequate that we fully submit to His grace and are able to accept that He is greater than all of us.  We will never be enough, but God is always enough.  There is NOTHING that God cannot handle.  And there are pains we all will feel in this life that can suck the joy right out of our hearts if we let them.  I know I've done that far too much in my life.

I read this quote somewhere online, and I think it says a lot: "Instead of telling God how big your storm is, try telling the storm how big your God is."  No matter what we face, whether it be sickness, broken hearts, losing a job, not enough money to make ends meet, or fights with friends, God is bigger.  God is bigger than all of the bad things in the world, and that's why we need His guidance.  We are humans, thus we are weak.  If God only gave us what we could handle, this world would be nothing but sunshine and rainbows.  It wouldn't be a world where depression exists.  It wouldn't be a world where young kids take razor blades to their wrists because they feel like there's no other way to let the pain go, that no matter what words they speak no one will understand how much they hurt.

God will absolutely give us more than we can handle.  It is in that feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the stresses of this life that He gives us the opportunity to realize that His love will get us through.  That is what He promises, and that promise of a bright eternity with the God who sent His son to overcome the world is sometimes the only thing that will get us to tomorrow.  Just hold on.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Only God

I don't believe in coincidences.  I can't, after everything that's happened in my life.  All those times I made it to the hospital just in time to save my life would be reason enough for anyone, I think.

Well, let me clarify that.  I don't believe in coincidences anymore.  Now that my eyes have been opened to the supreme power of God and the evidence of His hand throughout my life, I know that things I used to chock up to mere coincidences are actually God making His presence known.

Exhibit A:  Last night, I wrote about trusting God with the small details, like my migraines.

Today, I woke up without my head hurting for the first time since September 7th.

Does that sound like God to you, or is it just me?

People want to know why I'm so happy.  This is why, people.  I'm happy because despite the pain that I live with, God blesses me with breaks and good news just when I'm feeling weak.

And whoa.  Literally while I was sitting here writing this blog post, my mom called and told me to get on the Wolfpack website because my grandma agreed to buy us tickets to the Florida State football game in two weeks!  Anyone who has been here for a while know how much I LOVE me some Wolfpack football!  Carter-Finley Stadium was my dad's favorite place on earth, and I always feel closer to him when I'm there.

After two strenuous, pain-filled weeks, only God could give me a day like today.  Only Him.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

God even wants the small stuff.

Yesterday, I mentioned finding the beauty in tough situations.

This morning, I woke up with a smile on my face, despite this persistent migraine.

And really, throughout the day, it was pretty easy to stay positive.  I'm enjoying the material I'm covering in my classes.  I realized I don't have a huge to-do list this weekend like I did last weekend.  I made it through the afternoon feeling energetic, which was a great surprise because I got less than 5 hours of sleep last night on top of this headache.

By about 5:00, though, it got to the point where I was feeling nauseous, and I started feeling worn down, so I slept, which is about the only reliable escape I have from this pain.

When I woke up at 8:00, I still wasn't feeling good, but I knew I had to get up if I wanted any chance of sleeping tonight.  I grabbed my phone to text some friends I couldn't make it to our plans tonight, and then I found this on Twitter.

One wouldn't think that two simple words such as "bring it" would be a big encouragement, but it was to me.  That's one of the Vesper boys' "catch phrases" of sorts, and I knew it was Taylor's way of encouraging me to keep that attitude.

So I'm trying to stay focused on what I wrote this morning.  God blessed me today, with peace, with joy, with motivation, with friends to encourage me when my energy was waning.  So I'm focusing on that instead of the pain.  Because as "ordinary" as a migraine may be, it's a real issue for me, and it's the only way I can keep going.

I have to live out the words I write on this page.  Not for y'all, not for me, but for God.  I want my life to be a true testament to His grace, and these words lose their meaning if I don't feel what I say in my heart.  Just like I said, when things get hard, that's when you find out what trusting God will do.  And I know that even if God doesn't heal me of this chronic pain, He will give me the strength to keep living my life despite it.  As long as I keep looking for the blessings in the small things, like a simple message on Twitter, I'll find the ways He sends reminders of His grace.  I'm learning how to trust Him with every detail of my life, even the smaller stuff like persistent headaches and stress over grades.

If you're feeling worn down as you read this, I pray that you are able to find God's presence in the details around you and that He gives you the peace and strength to get through whatever it is.  No matter how small you may think it is, if something is weighing on you, give it to Him.  He's there waiting to take the load off of your hands.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

That piece says a lot to me.  I have to humble myself before God in trusting that He WILL heal me from these headaches.  Knowing He can isn't enough, I have to stand firm in believing that He will.

I want to encourage you to let go of whatever it is that's heavy on your heart or mind today and give it to God.  Because He cares for you.

And I'm going to do my best to live out these words, as well.  I don't mean to sound like I'm preaching; this is just as much for me as it is for anyone else.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beauty in the Breakdown

SO, ahem, notice anything......different? :D

I can't start this post without saying a HUGE thank you to Tricia! Tricia was an absolute joy to work with, and I could not be more thrilled with her work. I'm serious, y'all. I love this design so much that the sample she sent me a few days ago of the header and background has been my computer screen background just so I can look at it all the time and grin like a fool every time I do. It's perfect. It's a thousand times better than anything I could've dreamed up in my head. Tricia, thank you thank you thank you!

Okay, now that I got that very important piece of business out of the way, I can get down to explain the new title and subtitle.

Well, I actually got "Beauty in the Breakdown" from the song of the same name by The Scene Aesthetic.  I've known the song for years and love everything about it, but I mostly just love how pretty the phrase "Beauty in the Breakdown" feels when I say it.

Here's why I chose it for the new title of my blog, though.  It has a couple of different meanings for me:

One, I feel like a recurring theme on my blog over the past few years, and specifically this year, has been my struggle to find the beauty in tough situations, how people have seen that quality in me even when I didn't see it in myself, but if you break any situation down enough, you can find something good in it, because God is everywhere and God is always good.

Two, there's something from this post reflecting on my baptism that I think fits here:  "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."  The most beautiful, God-breathed night of my life happened once I finally let God break me.  He broke down every wall I'd been fighting to keep up, every fear I'd been holding onto, and basically shoved me into the coolest thing I've ever experienced.  If I hadn't been broken that way that night, if I had kept fighting His will and love, none of the amazing things that happened during the rest of that night or the months since then would've happened.  When God breaks you the way He broke me that night, it's absolutely terrifying, but it is even more beautiful than I can ever explain to you with words.  I didn't understand it until after it happened to me.  Sometimes I still have trouble understanding what happened to me on April 5th.  Nothing in my life will ever match the way I felt in that church.

The Scripture reminds me of this post.  God has made so much beauty out of the ashes that was my life.  You can see His work throughout the pages of this blog.  There's still a lot for Him to redeem, so to me, it's a reminder to have hope that He will continue to work in my life and the lives of the people I love.  His timing is perfect.  He hasn't done what I keep praying for Him to do because He knows it's not time yet.  I just have to hold on to Him and wait.  As I let go more and more of that fight for control, the more He'll be able to do His thing.  Also, I think it goes with the title in that they both talk about beauty.

So there you have it.  Yes, after 3 years, I was tired of the old design, but mostly, I just felt that it really didn't fit me anymore.  I wanted something new, something to mark the incredible transformation I'm going through as I let Christ fill me up with His love a little more every day.  For the first time in my life, Christ is my priority, and I wanted something new because I am new.

Plus, I graduate in less than 20 months, and I can't possibly see this blog ending at that point, so I wanted something that didn't have "College" in the title.  ;)

Welcome to the new blog for the new me.  I can't wait to see what beauty unfolds before me in the days and weeks to come.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Words. They matter.

Back in July, I wrote this post called "The Power of Words" that was, in short, about the fact that every time we open our mouths to talk, we have a choice to use those words to build those around us up or tear them down.

Today, I'm thinking again about the power that words have, just in a totally different sense.  I'm realizing just how powerful the words I speak (or write, as for blogging) can be when I allow God to guide my thoughts.  Because of the post I wrote last night, someone in my life told me "Every line was Him speaking through you.  He's using you to help me and ____, no doubt."  Reading that text message left me barely able to put together words to reply.

There have been posts that I've written with certain people in mind, and I know how much heart I put into those posts, but sometimes I can't help but wonder if it comes off correctly.  If the person I had in mind will see God behind it the way I prayed they would.  And not only that, I wonder if something as simple as me pouring my heart out on a webpage or an email will make a difference to them.  I get scared they'll come off as just words, or a lecture, or something completely opposite of what my intention is.  That's what I want more than anything to come out of this blog, and sometimes my heart is so invested in something it's hard for me to figure out how to say what is in my head without coming off like an idiot.

Last night, though, when I wrote that post, I had two very specific people in my mind.  I had no idea what I was going to write when I started.  All I knew is that I had so many thoughts about things Taylor and I had talked about that I wanted to get out.   And then, as I started writing to get past the block, the craziest thing happened - for the first time in the 3.5 years I've been writing this blog, I literally felt God give me the words.  I could feel it in my head, my heart, all the way down to my fingertips.  I could feel the sense of being completely taken over, so overwhelmed by the lack of control, just like the night I got baptized.

By the time I was done, all I could do was pray that it would reach the people it needed to.  Within 15 minutes of me hitting publish, one of those two people contacted me to say thank you.  By the time I got up this morning, I saw the other person had written about the post, "Holy Spirit speaks volumes".  So I knew I had reached both of them, and I was glad to help because I love both of them, but it really hit me when I got that text message later today that I can feel Him the way I wanted to for so long but never did until I got baptized.

Honestly, though, the most humbling part about it is when I realized that God can use something as simple as words on a computer screen to help bring comfort to hurting hearts.  And He picked me to write them last night.  An act that I see as my release and a blessing for me eased (at least somewhat) the pain two of my dear friends are feeling.  When I finally gave into the fact that I can't fix the problems in my loved ones' lives, He showed me that I can't fix them by myself, but I can still play a part in His fixing it.

I don't think there's anything in this life that could ever make me feel this heartwarming sense of honor that I've felt all day today.  To be a vessel for Him, to pay forward the gifts of love that I've been shown by so many people, is hands down one of the coolest gifts I can get in this world, especially because God knows that I never feel happier or more fulfilled than when I am helping people.

This realization has made me want to be so much more intentional about what I write when I have these "deeper" or more faith-related subjects on my heart.  Don't worry, there's still going to be the average posts about random nothingness and funny stories about what a goofball I am, but when I feel like I need to write about something I'm learning in my journey with Christ, I'm going to make it a point to pray beforehand and ask God to direct my thoughts the way He did last night.

Because it really does make a difference.  When I want so badly to help people I love who I know are hurting but can't for reasons of distance or the simple fact that I'm human and can't always fix things, my words still matter.  God can take the only gift I have to give to the people I love and use it to ease their suffering and bring them closer to Him.  I can be the gift to people that other people are to me on a daily basis with nothing but my words.

I don't know of a pretty way to end this post, so I'm just going to say this.  That last sentence there and realizing all that comes with it blows my mind.  I am so, so honored.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I would say yes.

I had a long chat with Taylor this afternoon.  What originally started out as me being concerned for him and checking on him led to a conversation that really taught me a lot.  In my opinion, one of the greatest blessings of this life is finding a friendship where both of you feel comfortable letting everything that's been caught up in your heart out and knowing that you're safe from judgment.  And because he's played such a part in my spiritual journey over the year and a half that we've known each other, I feel like every time we get to really talk, we both walk away having learned something.  It's not lost on me how blessed I am for this or how special this is.

But anyway.  This conversation this afternoon led to a lot of discussion on our walks with Christ, and in the middle of that, I asked him to explain what the phrase "die to self" means.  I've heard it before from several people, mostly in this blog world, but I've never really grasped what it meant until today.  I don't know what it is about what Taylor said or how he said it, but somehow it just clicked for me in a whole new way.

"Mallory, it's a question.  If Jesus walked up to you right now and asked you to drop everything, me, your family, your other friends, school, everything so you could follow Him, would you say yes?  Would you get up like the disciples did out of their boat, without a second thought, and follow Him wherever He told you to go?  If you wouldn't say yes, that means you're putting things in this world that will eventually fade away above your eternity....Oh, and by the way, Mallory, He has walked up to you. He's walked up to you because you are a believer."

That was when I got it.  That was when every time I've ever questioned whether or not I was doing this "Christian thing" right faded into nothing because I just knew.  I would say yes.  I would give up everything in this world to get to the Kingdom where stress, fear, pain, worry, heartache, anger, all of the bad emotions that can sometimes weigh me down just don't exist.  I would give up seeing any of the people I love who aren't believers ever again if I knew that I could be face-to-face with the God who has brought me through unimaginable difficulty.  Because when I get to heaven, none of those people or those feelings are going to matter anyway.  All that's going to matter is that I'll be home.

That is what Jesus asks of me.  He doesn't ask me to be perfect or to be mad at myself every time I don't act like Him.  All He wants is for me to follow Him without ever looking back.  All He wants is my heart.

He loves me so much, and not only that, He's SHOWN me that love in such tangible ways, how could I possibly say no?

This is what it feels like.  This is what it feels like to know you're 100% in on the only relationship that's going to matter at the end of the day.  I have my Jesus, everything else is just background noise.  I get it now.

I'm saying yes.  If you haven't, will you?  God loves you more than you will ever know.  He loves you enough to bless you even though you think you don't "deserve" it because you're human and you keep sinning.  He loves you enough to chase you down in a church in a brand new city.  He loves you enough to send your friends to confront you in love about situations you've been blind to.  He loves you enough to bring you to your knees, to break you in a way that makes you realize you can't do this alone.  Everything you can't take care of, He will.  All you have to do is give Him your heart, put aside all that fear and trust that He's got a bigger and better plan.  Give into His love, and your only job is to hang on to Him so He can get you to the other side.

It's easy to say you trust God when everything in your life is fine.  It's when things feel like they're falling apart that you find out what trusting in Him will actually do.  It hurts, but it will no doubt turn into unimaginable beauty.  I think my life is a testament to this: Jesus Christ will carry you through situations when the rest of the world is expecting you to break.

I don't know much, but I do know this:  this feeling of absolute, overwhelming love makes all the bad stuff worth it.

So say yes.

Monday, September 17, 2012


It's really not fun to get up after 4 hours of sleep and take a French test at 8 in the morning.

And then I sat through another hour of French.

And then I came and took a nap.

And then I ate lunch.

And then I went to Comparative Foreign Government.

And then I went to Municipal Government and accidentally almost cussed a guy out for being so outrageously condescending talking about the evils of Social Security when I'm fairly certain he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has no idea what it's actually like to need that, unlike my family.   But such is life.

And then I came back and I really don't know where the hours went because they certainly weren't productive hours.

And then I had a College Democrats Executive Board meeting.

And now I have to try to write a paper.  This should be interesting.

This is why they invented night school, right?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

So I don't have to think anymore.

Well, 5 hours of Comparative Foreign Government reading pretty much blew all my brain power for the night, so since I got tagged for this survey by the lovely Vivielle, this is my blog post. &Otherwise, the post would be one word: Homework. So here you go.

1. This survey gets a little personal; can you handle it?
Hahaha, anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows I'm pretty much an open book, so sure.

2. If you married the last person you texted, what would your last name be?
Uh...the last person I texted was my wouldn't change.

3. Were you happy when you woke up today?
Not really.  My head hurts and I knew I had more homework to do. Plus I just don't ever like waking up.

4. When were you on the phone last? And with who?
Ryann when she called me Wednesday night. I barely ever call people anymore, and the people I have called in the past few days didn't answer.

5. What are you excited for?
Talking to some of my dear friends in Nashville that I haven't really talked to in a while.

Where's number 6?

7. Honestly, who was the last person to tell you they love you?
My mother.

8. What’s the last thing you put in your mouth?

9. Have a best friend?
Yes. Matt. Ryann is an extremely close second, but no one can match the history Matt and I have.

10. Are you scared to fall in love?

11. Do you think teenagers can be in love?
Real love?  Maybe.  Depends on the teenagers, most are too immature to know what real love is.

12. Last person you wanted to punch in the face?
Ha.  That one I'll plead the 5th on.

13. What time is it right this second?
11:10 pm

14. What do you want right now?
My head to stop hurting

15. Who was the last person you took a picture with?
Matt :)

16. Are you single/taken/heartbroken/or confused?
Single, somewhat heartbroken

17. When was the last time you cried?
Hmmm....that's a good question. I rarely ever cry anymore.

18. Do you have a good relationship with your parents?
Well my dad died when I was 7, but for my mom, yes, most of the time.

19. Do you find it hard to trust others?
I used to find it nearly impossible. Years of emotional abuse will do that.  But I find myself trusting people more and more nowadays because I have so many amazing friends in my life, and I don't regret it at all, even if it does mean I get my heart stepped on sometimes.

20. How fast does your mind change?
Really, really fast on just about everything. I am horribly indecisive.

21. I bet you miss somebody right now.
Lots of people.

22. Can you honestly say you’re okay right now?
Um…well, define okay…yeah, I guess so.

23. Why do you think so many people cheat?
On tests, because they’re lazy.  In relationships, because they’re too selfish and scared to do the right thing and break up with a person first.

24. Tell me what’s on your mind?
School, this never ending headache, friends and their problems, that whole heartbroken feeling I can’t get rid of.

25. What are you looking forward to in the next three months?
Getting through this semester, applying for next summer’s internship, and watching Ryann kill it at her soccer games.

26. Have you ever worn the opposite sex’s clothing?
Once. When I was in England, I was cold and to avoid having me walk up five flights of stairs to get a jacket out of my suitcase, Paddy gave me his.

27. When did you last talk to your number 1 top friend?

28. When is your next road trip?
I have none planned.

29. Do you have someone of the opposite sex you can tell anything to?
Duh. Matt. There’s nothing that kid doesn’t know about me.  And I can tell just about anything to Taylor or Alex, too.

30. How’s your heart?

31. Have you ever felt like you weren’t important?
Quite often, but not so much anymore.

32. Do you think somebody’s in love with you?
I doubt it.

33. What are you planning on doing after this?
Plucking my eyebrows and going to bed.

34. Next time you will kiss someone?
No clue.

35. Have you told anybody you loved them today?

36. Who do you not get along with?
The College Republicans.

37. What does your 3rd recent text say?
“Here” because Elizabeth was telling me she was here to take me to Walmart and Lowes.

38. What are you wearing right now?

39. You’re locked in a room with the person you last kissed, how is it?
Awkward. Especially since he’s now in prison for murder.

40. When’s the last time you had a grilled cheese?
Not anytime recently, as in long enough ago that I have no idea when it was.

41. What’s your favorite boy and girl name right now?
Jayden Matthew and Madison Claire

42. How did you feel when you woke up?
Tired and sore.

43. Do you wish someone would call or text you right now?
Kind of. There are several people I’d really like to talk to, but I’m ready to go to bed.

44. Do you crack your knuckles?

45. What were you doing yesterday at midnight?
Homework. Go figure.

46. What are your LEGAL initials?

47. Who’s the first B in your contacts?
Ben Grey. :)

48. When was the last time you laughed really hard?

49. Your number 1 top friend walks out of your life, do you go after them?
Absolutely. I’d go after almost anyone, but definitely him.

50. Explain your last awkward moment?
When Matt gave me another one of his (you should have sex) talks…which reminds me, I still need to write that post.

51. Are you afraid of the dark?
Usually I’m not, but if I watch a scary TV show I can be.

52. Do you have good vision?
Ha! No. And that would be putting it nicely.

53. Have you ever tripped someone?
Only by accident.

54. Have you ever slapped someone?

55. Are you Irish?

56. Do you use chap stick?
No. I probably should, though.

57. Do you have any scars?
19 surgeries AND I’m a ridiculous klutz. What do you think?

58. Is there someone you will never forgive?
No. I forgive everyone, which is a big part of the reason why I get stepped on so much.  It’s not always an easy process. I’m still working on forgiving the guy who broke my heart two months ago.

59. Are you dating the person you last held hands with?

60. Name the last person to text you?
My mother.

61. Would you marry someone 8 years older than you?
If I believed they were the one, age wouldn’t matter to me.

62. Can you go in public looking like you do?
Ha. No.

63. Have you ever kissed someone whose name started with a A?

64. What side of the bed do you sleep on?
If you’re standing at the foot of the bed facing it, it’s the left one.

65. What’s the first thing you’ll do on your wedding day?
Wake up?

66. Do you fall for people easily?
I’d like to say no, but some advice from some friends who know me well inclines me to say yes…so…maybe.

67. Has anyone put their arms around you in the past 5 days?

68. Do you miss the way things used to be?
Nah. My life is so much better now than it used to be. I’ve learned so much about myself, found friends that loved me, and gotten a lot of harmful people out of my life.

69. Song you’re thinking of right now?
“Come What May” by The Scene Aesthetic

70. Want someone back in your life?
Yes and no…

71. Will tomorrow be better than today?
Less work involved, so yes.

72. What’s the color of the shirt you are wearing?

73. Who was the first friend that you had?
Hannah is the first real friend that I remember

74. Does it bother you when someone lies to you?
SO MUCH.  Especially when I’m explicitly clear to someone I care about deeply that I need them to be honest with me no matter what because of my past, and they lie to me anyway.

75. Is there anyone who understands your sexuality?

76. Are you a naturally happy person? Or is your happiness forced?
Now, I’m definitely naturally happy.  After coming out of what I did the past few years, I learned that if I don’t find the good in life somewhere, I’ll fall right back in that hole I was in before.

77. Is there anyone you wish would fall in love with you?

78. What do you wear when you sleep?
Usually a T-shirt and boxers

79. Are you obsessed with something right now?
Aside from Jacob Artist’s solo on the season premiere of Glee, no. :)

80. The first person you loved is?

81. Something terrible happened with you?
I don’t know what this question is asking. Has something terrible happened with me recently? No, I don’t think so.

82. You are locked up with someone you love, what happens?
We goof off and play games.

83. If you could wish something, what would it be?
That my family could have enough money for my mom to pay off all her debt and get new cars for everyone so we don’t have to pay for so many car repairs all the time and my mom doesn’t have to feel ashamed about what poor shape her car is in.

84. Ever forced someone to do something?
Ha. Yes.

85. When you are alone, what do you think about?
As of late, school, my friends, the problems they’re dealing with, the boy that broke my heart, and the boy I’ve got a mad crush on.

86. How was your first kiss?
Ha. Well, that was kind of awkward seeing as I was 11 and it was in the front hallway of my church with an older boy I’d known since birth and had been crushing on for a long time.

87. What’s your favorite music genre?
Rock. Always rock. Usually 70s and 80s rock. Thank you, Mom.

88. Are you going to tag people to do this?
No, because I’m lazy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This one surprised me.

It's 2 am.  I have not had nearly as productive a day as I should have, but that's probably because I took a 3 hour nap when I got back from Walmart because I still have a headache.  Glasses, please start helping soon.

But anyway.  I got 6 things done today despite that, and that's not counting my laundry, so now my to-do list looks like this.

French Lit: The Story of the Fox mini-paper
Comparative Foreign Government: Read Chapters 3 and 4 (103 pages total), Preliminary bibliography for term project
Municipal Government:  Paper #4

And considering two of those 5 things don't have to be done until Friday, I'd say that's not too shabby.

Pretty boring, I know.

Here's something I didn't expect to happen.  I woke up this morning to a Facebook message from Landon.  All it said was "how's life?" and because, well, I'm me and I'm nice to everyone, I responded simply "good. busy as hell but I love it. you?"  I haven't heard from that kid since January, and I was honestly expecting never to hear from him again, so this one sort of threw me for a loop.  Don't worry, I'm keeping my guard MAJORLY up this time.  I'll keep you posted.

That's all for now.  It's just past 2 am, and I still have to fold all my laundry and eat something so I can get some sleep and do some more work tomorrow.  Yay college.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm such an old lady sometimes.

Today was the first Monday, Wednesday, or Friday since school started that I didn't take a nap in the 3 hour break I have on these days.  And boy, I felt it.

I couldn't take a nap because after my 9:00 French Lit class, I had to come back and write the 2-page paper that was due in Municipal Government at 2:00 because I had a horrendously unproductive week, then I ate lunch, and then I went over to the post office to mail off another transcript request form to Georgetown which is all the way across campus so it takes me a while to get there, and then I had Comparative Foreign Government at 1:00.  So yeah.  I've been up since 7:30.  And there have only been about two hours between then and now that I haven't been getting ready for class, in class, or doing homework.

I have a very long to-do list for this weekend:

French Lit: selected readings from/translation of The Farce of Mr. Pathelin (yes, that's just my English translation, the play is actually in French); 2-3 page paper in French on The Story of the Fox

French History & Civilization: study for Monday's test; prepare the notes for my day to teach about the Valois and Bourbon dynasties; read Chapter 7

Comparative Foreign Government: Read Chapter 3 on France (53 pages); Read Chapter 4 on Germany (50 pages); Preliminary bibliography for term project (though this isn't due until Friday so I'm probably putting it off until last); and copy 4 days of notes for a girl who had surgery (DONE)

Municipal Government: Read Chapter 5 in our first book (28 pages); Read Chapter 6 in the same book (29 pages); the 4th 2-page paper (also not due until Friday, so I'm putting it off until last, as well); and copy 4 days of notes for that same girl who had surgery (DONE)

Human Diversity: Rewrite really sloppy notes from yesterday (DONE); Read Chapter 3 (35 pages - DONE); Read Chapter 5 (32 pages - DONE)

I've got a lot of work ahead of me, and normally I would stay up and do some more, but I'm so exhausted right now that it hurts to hold my eyes open, so I'm just going to bed.  I'm getting up at 7 am tomorrow anyway.  (And for the record, I don't know the last time I woke up at 7 am on a Saturday during school.)

Good night, world.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Clear sight...literally.

Last Tuesday, I wrote a post called Clear Sight.  That one was all deep and talked about God and stuff.

This one is not.  This one is about the fact that I FINALLY GOT NEW LENSES IN MY GLASSES.  Hallelujah and Praise Jesus.  So I literally mean clear sight.

In that week and a half that I was home between getting back from DC and coming to school, one of the many doctor appointments I had was with my eye doctor.  Apparently I haven't been there since 2009, which would be when I got these two pair of glasses.  Uh, oops?  Long story short, my right eye (because it's always the right side causing problems!) needed a majorly different prescription, and the doctor wanted to put in this thing called a prism that helps keep that eye from turning inward so bad (because again, it's always that side!).  Well, the only problem was that that appointment was on a Monday and I was leaving on Saturday.  You can't get lenses with the special blue tint I have to protect against fluorescent lights (a trigger for my seizures) that quickly.  So I left my orange pair there with them, and Mom planned on bringing them to me this past weekend when she came up to see Paddy.

Except she accidentally put her glasses case in the bag she was bringing me instead of mine.  So then she had to mail them because she didn't want me waiting even longer for them when my migraines have been out of control and this could be adding to it, so yeah, I got them from the post office today.

Wow.  As soon as I put the orange glasses on, the world looked so much brighter.  I can already tell that I can see farther and more clearly, so hopefully a couple weeks with these will get my migraines back under control.

So here's what I learned today: glasses are awesome, and don't wait 3 years between visits to the eye doctor!  I seriously don't know how I let that happen.

Oh, I also learned that Ryann's name is in the middle of my name. Literally smack dab in the middle.  malloRY ANN jones.  Freaky, huh?  I told Ryann it was fate, we were meant to be best friends. :p

Yay, tomorrow's Friday.  I am going to have a crazy weekend full of homework.  I was horribly unproductive last weekend because Paddy was here, and this week my head has just been so bad that I haven't felt up to studying, so I've got a lot to get caught up on.  Saturday morning, I'll be forced to get up early because Elizabeth is taking me to Lowes and Walmart and that's the only free time she has, so at least that'll get me up and moving and I won't sleep the day away.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Prayer works.

I know, that's kind of an obvious statement to a Christian, isn't it?  Duh, prayer works.  How many times does God tell us the importance of prayer in the Bible?  If you grow up being taken to church, it's one of those lessons that gets repeated to you so many times that you just accept it as truth because you still have that precious faith of a child.  It's easier to believe when your eyes aren't really opened to how sinful this world is and how bad things still happen.  That naive sense of confidence was ripped away from me much earlier than most kids.  Part of the reason I turned my back on God when my dad died was because I knew how many times I had prayed, my mom had prayed, my family had prayed, my town had prayed, and I just didn't understand.  A 7-year-old can't understand that God's answer to your prayer isn't always what you want it to be.

As the years went on, I prayed for friends, I prayed for my family to be peaceful, I prayed for health, I prayed for Matt to love me the way I so desperately loved him, and as more time went on and nothing seemed to change, my very weak faith gave up.  The most obvious example I can think of when thinking about this is when Matt would tell me over and over again that I would get over him one day and I would find other people who accepted me the way he did (and does) once I got out of that suffocating little town, and I would flat out tell him I didn't believe him; he couldn't possibly know that.  And that's just one of many examples.

Now look at my life.  College is everything that he told me it would be.  I have more friends than I know what to do with, and they're the kind of friends that I know would move heaven and earth to help me if I needed them.  I've created my own family out of those friends that make up for the fact that my biological family is still far from stable.  I have a social life outside of schoolwork because, gasp!, people actually do like being around me.  I'm healthy enough to keep up a pretty darn good GPA with a double major.  I got out of my hometown and made connections in DC that are going to help start my career when I need it.

But none of that is why I'm writing this post today.  This subject is on my mind because I called one of the friends I've been praying for just to let him know I'm still thinking about him and praying for him and the other person in the situation he's dealing with; he didn't answer so I left a voicemail.  A few minutes later, I got a text saying he was sorry he missed my call and thanking me for the message, and in that text he wrote four words that jumped out at me immediately.  Your prayers are working.

That's the first time I can remember someone saying that to me, and it just sort of hit me.  I could feel the Lord saying to me, "You see?  I always hear you.  Always.  Even when you're scared I'm not listening.  Coming to Me will never be for nothing."  All of a sudden, I felt so much more confidence in the prayers I've been praying over my own life the past few weeks, months, and even years, that have felt unanswered.  The answer is coming.  It may not be what I wanted, but He will answer.  More than that, though, hearing that my prayers were paying off in this friend's life made me that much more passionate about going to God, on my friends' behalf and mine.  The most beautiful part about it is that I know they pray for me, too, and God says "For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them" (Matthew 18:20).  And He is always faithful.

And then I spent tonight with Ryann, and that was, in short, a 3-hour reminder that prayer really does work. I prayed for so long, even when I didn't really think it was worth it, that I would find a girl like her, someone I could talk to about things Matt could never understand because he's a guy.  And if I had met her when I was in high school, she wouldn't have been able to stand me.  I could barely stand me.  He brought us into each other's lives when, as she said, "we were ready to help each other grow."  When she told me college wouldn't have been the same for her had she never met me, I felt God again.  I felt Him whisper gently in my ear, "This is the girl you prayed for."  Because of her, I know what having a sister who loves you unconditionally really feels like.

So yeah.  That's what I learned (again) today.  Prayer actually works.  Don't stop.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quotes from Matt

Well, I slept until about 6:00 tonight.

No class.

No homework.

Total fail.

I really need my new glasses to get here, like, yesterday.

On the upside, I made it to a meeting I had to get to and am now being thoroughly entertained by Matt on Facebook.

I sent him a picture of me and Alex and he responded, "Dude. He's cute. In a no homo way, but like, he is, man. He's handsome, but there's a cuteness.  I approve."  In ten years I'm fairly certain I've never heard Matt call another guy cute.

And then when I told him Alex is a Republican, he responded, "LOL.  Dude.  He's a Republican?!  That's like a Jew and Jesus."  He just gets me.

I love my best friend.  Since today is totally shot, might as well end on a high note, right?!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Praying for my friends.

Yesterday, I told a friend that I was doing great physically.

Today, I woke up after 4 hours of sleep with a pulled muscle over my rib cage and a massive migraine.

And since I skipped my first Geography class to go see The Vespers two weeks ago, today was my first day of having class from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm.  The good news is my Geography class got let out early.

But honestly, I don't even care about that right now.  Today my heart's felt so heavy because several of the people that I hold very dear to my heart are going through some intense personal stuff.  Don't get me wrong; I feel so honored that these friends chose to come to me, but nothing breaks my heart more than seeing people I love so very much hurting and knowing there's nothing I can do about it except pray.  I think I'm finally getting to the point where I'm realizing that as much as I believe that my ability to support my friends is one of the gifts God has blessed me with, there's only so much I can do.  As much as I want to fix their pain, I'm finally understanding that I can't.  Only the Lord can.

It's just a horrible feeling.  These people are truly some of my absolute best friends, and nothing breaks my heart faster than seeing them in pain.  It feels so unfair to me to watch them suffer because they are kind, Godly, supportive and loving people, and to me, it feels like they deserve to be happy.   But none of us deserve happiness, God blesses us with it, just like He blesses us with everything else.

I'm not gonna lie, I like feeling needed and appreciated.  Don't we all?  But I'd much rather see my friends filled with the joy of the Lord and not weighed down by the problems of this world.  As one of these friends told me time and time again when I was dealing with my own stuff, joy is a choice.  It's a choice that is found beyond this crazy, messed up world we live in, with the One who fills our souls with His spirit.  And I'm thankful that because most of these friends are believers, they know that.  I totally understand feeling so stressed and down that you forget to look for that joy, so that's one of my biggest prayers for all of them, that they never lose sight of the fact that their joy is in the Lord who watches over them.

He will get them through this.  I have full faith that He will.  You wanna know why?  Romans 8:28.  Plain and simple.  These friends that are suffering right now have taught me so much about God, I know how much they really love Him.  He's got them.  Tonight, my prayer is that He will fill me with the wisdom, compassion, and the necessary words and actions to make sure they never forget how special they really are, how much God loves them, and how much I love them, too.  I pray that He will use me to help them the way He has used them to help me so many times.  It's my honor to be there for them, to feel their pain, just as He feels it.

His mercies are new each morning.  And for that, I am grateful.  I'll be doing everything I can to help keep these dear, dear friends of mine moving forward in His plan for them.  This life is so much easier when we do it together, and I am blessed to go to God on their behalf and to show Christ's love to them when they need it.  That's what this life is really about.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bittersweet Beauty

Today...agh.  I felt like I was about to bust out in tears from the minute I woke up knowing that Paddy was leaving today.  Never has a weekend flown by so quickly.

But y'all know me, I can't stay focused on the bad stuff or my brain kind of goes into overdrive, so I decided to put a positive spin on it.  I was getting time with Paddy, Matt, my mom, and Holly all at the same time.  I finally got to introduce Matt and Paddy after spending the past 4 years telling them about each other; the verdict is in, I wasn't just imagining it in my head, they really are the American and British versions of each other.  Which I suppose is only fitting because they're the only two guys that consider me their little sister. :)

So yeah.  We basically just got ready and hung out until Mom got here about 12:30.  Holly and Matt, both habitually late people, actually beat us there, but that was probably due to the fact that we got stuck behind a tobacco truck going 10 mph for a bit and then Mom missed a turn.  But anyway, we got to Ruby Tuesday about 1:30 and I got a huge hug from Matt.  The interesting thing about him when he's not in a relationship is he's much more vocal about stuff like, for example, how excited he is to see me.  So he was stoked.  And that made me grin like a fool.  Man, I love that kid.

:)  I got this while we were waiting to be seated.  My boys.  I know they're not "mine," but that's just what I think every time I look at this picture.  It was honestly a little surreal to be with both of them at the same time.    Then, we got seated, I got an awesome steak, and we spent over an hour just laughing and talking.  Matt barely ate because he couldn't stop acting like a goofball.  He and Paddy got along great, though.  We left there just before 3:00, but of course, I had to get some pictures.

He looks like a giant next to them, hahaha.  

I think it's safe to say he's Mom's second "adopted" son. :)  It was adorable, he was genuinely excited to see Mom.

And this is because, well, I get a picture with Matt every time we get together. :)

Seriously, that lunch with everyone was so much fun, I really forgot that Paddy was leaving.  Well, I don't know that I forgot he was leaving, but I forgot to be sad about it.  I mean, Matt and I, our relationship just keeps getting better and better.  I'm so proud of seeing how far he's come, finally breaking up with Simone (for good!), realizing he'd gotten himself in a cycle of drama and leaving.  We literally have grown up together.  Ten years later, and this kid still knows me better than anyone on the planet.  It's so beautiful.  I realize again and again just how blessed I am to have him in my life after everything we've been through.

After that, we found a grocery store because Paddy promised some buddies of his that he'd bring them back some American chocolate, and he wanted to get this seasoning salt that some guy he stayed with cooked on his chicken and he said it was amazing.  Luckily there was a Harris Teeter fairly close to the restaurant.  I don't think I've ever been in a Harris Teeter before today, random fact.

Then, we drove by the house of one lady he stayed with because he left a jacket there and it had a present he brought for me attached to it.  It was a button for his band Orange Pulp.  :)  It's now attached to the front of my purse, where everyone can see it.  What can I say?  I'm a proud sister.

Then, we took him to the airport.  He gave me like five hugs and a kiss on the cheek before he went inside.  I really thought that was when I'd start crying, because I HATE HATE HATE goodbyes, especially when they're with someone that I barely ever get to see, but I didn't.  I guess I was just overwhelmed by realizing how blessed I was that I even got to see him period.  A plane ticket from England to NC is really, really, really not cheap, but he did it.  I got to see my British brother whom I haven't seen in 4+ years, and until he made these plans official, I honestly didn't think I'd get to see him anytime soon.  I know it was his birthday present (his parents paid for half the ticket), but this weekend felt like it was a present for me, too.

Then, Mom just drove me back to school.  I did laundry, and showered and shaved, and finally did a little bit of French homework!  Haha, I don't know that I've ever gone an entire weekend during school without doing any homework before, but I think this time was a pretty good excuse.  I wasn't going to miss time with Paddy to have my head stuck in a book.  Priorities, right?

And to top off this absolutely amazing weekend, The Vespers debuted their newest music video for "Lawdy."  And I finally cried.  I know I don't exactly have an unbiased opinion when it comes to these kids (haha!), but this video is truly one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.  It's pure, raw, unadulterated artistry, in both picture and sound.  I couldn't be more proud to know them.  They inspire me every day.  Watch it and let me know what you think. :)

It's past 1 am, and I have to get up at 6:30 for class.  This weekend had a bittersweet feel to it, but it was so, so beautiful. I am so blessed.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I'm so happy right now.

It's 2:30 am, and this is literally the first chance I've had to blog all day.  I've never been so happy to be this exhausted.  Today was really, really great, but I'M SO TIRED.

So, uh, yeah, Paddy and I went canoeing this morning.  We were in the back lobby last night playing pool and Kristen, the 3rd floor RA, came in and I introduced her to Paddy, and then she asked if we were doing anything today, and we didn't really have anything planned, so she invited us to the event she was hosting for the dorm: kayaking and canoeing.  Paddy said it sounded fun, and I readily agreed without thinking about how physically hard it would be.

But anyway, we got up this morning, ate breakfast, and I packed my lunch while Paddy went to go buy one from Subway down the street.  (YAY! There's now a Subway within walking distance.) We met the group at 10:30, and headed to a 400-acre "pond" in a nearby town.  Kristen said she was really happy Paddy would come because there was only one other guy there because he was driving one of the vans, and they were so nice and unloaded all ten canoes and four kayaks off this giant rack thing down by the pond.  They saved us so much work! :)

The boy comes all the way from England to visit me, and I put him to work. :p  Anyway, then we all went all over the water.  It was really pretty and SO big!  Paddy was nice and shared a canoe with me even though he wanted a kayak because I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of anyone else.  Haha!  I don't know  why I didn't realize until I was actually doing it just how hard rowing a canoe actually is!  We only did it for about an hour before lunch and my arms felt like jelly at the end.  I also managed to peel a layer of skin off part of my thumb simply from sweating so much and rubbing it against the oar.  But surprisingly, it was actually really fun!  And we didn't capsize, so there's another plus. ;)

This is me with Kristen.  This is our 3rd year in the same dorm and we've never taken a picture together before!

Poor pasty white Paddy.  The sun doesn't shine much in England. :p

Anyway, after we all ate, no one really felt like going out again because we'd all pretty much gone over the whole pond, so we came back to campus and got here around 2:00.  Paddy and I both took showers; he because he was so sweaty, me because I was soaked with dirty water.  After that, I just went down to Louis's apartment and hung out with them as Paddy got some stuff sorted out about where he'll be living while he goes to school this year.  Then, I took him to Chick-Fil-A because he loves it and we needed dinner.  I also took him to the bookstore and he got a Campbell t-shirt to go with the other university t-shirts he's gotten during his travels the past couple of weeks.

Well, he also needed a t-shirt because I took him to Campbell's football game!

He's gotten quite the fascination with American football the past couple of weeks.  They don't have cheerleading for sports in the UK, so he and the other British boy (who's a student here for sports) thoroughly enjoyed a front row shot of the cute and super talented cheerleaders.

This is actually my friend Drew (the one I met at the Anniversary Ball last October) and his stunt partner.  Our cheerleaders are so good.  I have immense respect for the physical strength they must have.  Then Gaylord showed up, and since Paddy rode a giant camel yesterday, he had to get a picture with the "live" Gaylord (though we actually do have real live camels come to some of the games).

I didn't realize until afterwards that Gaylord was pretending to twist Paddy's nipple.  Ha.  Of course.  Now he can say he's been felt up by a giant camel. :p

We came back to my dorm for a minute so I could show him some pictures.  As I was walking from "checking him in" with the lobby attendant (told you, strict rules on the opposite sex in dorm rooms), he noticed all the whiteboards hanging next to people's doors, so he asked if he could write on one of them.  I said sure because, hey, why not?  It erases.

I know it's really blurry, but it just says "hello from liverpool, uk :)"  haha, silly boy.  Whoever lives in that room is going to be confused.  This is what he wrote on mine when I wasn't looking. :)

Then, he went to a bar with that same girl he stayed with on Thursday, so I stayed in my dorm.  I hung out for a few minutes getting caught up on Twitter and whatnot before I saw that sweetheart Alex was coming down to the Creek for the night.  So yay!  I got to see him, too.  That boy...agh, I am crushing on him bad, I have since last semester, but I'm okay with the way things are.  I really have no expectations because he was clear from the beginning where his head is.  He's so sweet and genuine and was there for me time and time again this summer.  He really is one of my best friends, which is crazy to me because I didn't meet him until March, and we didn't really start hanging out until April, and then by May when I was home he was totally there for me through all of the family drama.  And of course, since he did TFAS last summer, we ended up talking at least once a week during that.  Things just click with him, even just in terms of our friendship.  I wanted to get a picture with him, but he only had a few minutes to talk before he had to go meet his friends and there was no one around to take it, so oh well.  I did get four hugs in a five minute conversation, though. :)

Oh, I didn't get a picture with him, but I did get a picture of this.  :D

Oh yes.  Since this was the first time I've seen him since May, I finally got the money he owed me from that bet back in June.  So yay money.  I needed it.

Then, I was seriously planning on coming back in and taking a shower, but as soon as I posted the picture of the money on Twitter (he knew I was gonna brag a little bit :p), my friend Summer messaged me and she ended up inviting me over to her apartment for pizza and so I could tell her about Alex.  That turned into an hour and a half of girl talk.  Haha!  What can I say?  She and I get along really well.  So I didn't even get back to my room until just after 1 am, and then I took a shower and blowdried my hair and answered a few messages, and then yeah, I blogged.

And that is the end of today's recap.  It's now 3 am, and I need sleep.  I have to get up early (for me on a weekend) tomorrow to help Paddy finish packing (haha, of course. boys.) before Mom gets here.  Then, we're going to Cary and meeting Holly (and probably Michael) and Matt for lunch.  Ah, I get to spend time with Matt and Paddy together.  That's going to be interesting.  The only two guys who openly call me their little sister. :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

My brother is here!

I've gained a few readers over the past few months, so here's a little explanation as to who my "brother" is for those who need it.  If you remember me talking about Paddy, feel free to skip this bit.  Okay, so this?

Is me and Paddy back in July 2008.  We were both 16 there, me a month after my 16th birthday and he a month before his 17th.  This was taken one of the first days of the exchange trip that some students at my mom's high school took to Liverpool, England.  My mom was helping her best friend chaperone it, and she somehow got me permission to go along, too.  Mom and I stayed with Paddy and his family.

(His dad was taking the photo.)  Search Liverpool on this old blog and I'm sure you can some of me reminiscing about this trip.

Well, anyway, from pretty much the beginning of that trip, I fit right in with this family.  Eleanor and Sara (second from left and far right, respectively) felt like what sisters were supposed to be.  I called Marie (middle) Mum from the start.  And seeing as I was crazy about Matt at this point, he didn't quite feel like my brother back then, so Paddy was my first experience at feeling like what it meant to have a brother.  Everything just fit.

This is when I thank the good Lord for Facebook and Skype because aside from Jay, these beautiful people are the only ones I talk to from that trip anymore.  Mum told me multiple times this year how proud of me she was for doing my internship in DC.  She still calls me her "American daughter."  We are family in every way that counts.

Well, Paddy actually went on the exchange trip the year before and came to America, so he has a bunch of friends over here that he missed.  He's in college and has a full-time job, so he's been trying to save up money for quite a while.  His 21st birthday was a couple weeks ago, and his oh-so-generous parents agreed to pay for half a plane ticket for him to come to America for two weeks. :)

I've been busy with school and the College Democrats convention, and Mom was just getting back to work and could only come up to see him on a weekend, so since he had so many people he wanted to see, he was traveling all over North Carolina from the day he got in until now seeing people, and then a girl who was on the exchange trip the year he came to America and actually goes to Campbell hosted him last night, and she drove him over to my dorm about 12:30.  :)

Louis and his roommates are being incredibly kind and letting him crash at their apartment since Campbell has very strict rules about the opposite sex in dorm rooms.  Luckily, their apartment is right down the street from me.

Anyway, as soon as he arrived, I dropped his bags in my room and we headed off to my two afternoon classes.  I had Comparative Foreign Government first, and the funny thing was that our "case study" for the week is Great Britain.  Paddy said that he actually learned a lot he didn't know about Britain's government!  Then I had Municipal Government, and Paddy said Dr. Mero made him laugh and he was fascinated to see what "American uni" classes are like.

After that, I had to go run and check my mailbox, and then we took his stuff down to Louis's apartment so they could meet.  We hung out there for a bit, then Paddy said he was hungry, so I took him to Jole Mole for some good, greasy, Americanized Mexican food.  Crazy boy thought I was going to let him spend money when I could put it on my meal card!  He said the chicken quesadilla he ate was the best thing he'd eaten the whole trip.  Hahaha, boys are so easy to please when it comes to food.

Then we walked down to the Convocation Center (which is basically a really fancy phrase for the sports arena) because he wanted to see it and it was locked last night when he tried.  This may be the best picture I've ever taken of him.

That would be Paddy, sitting atop the giant bronze camel that stands outside the Convocation Center.  He was so funny, he thought he was going to get yelled at despite the fact that I told him people take pictures on it ALL the time.  And he made it his new profile picture on Facebook just for me. :D  I'm sorry, I see that camel all the time but I find watching my British brother climb on it and grin so proudly hilarious.

Then I actually took him inside the arena (which is actually named for my Uncle Ed and Aunt Dinah's son that died when he was 4) and I believe his exact words were "I've never seen anything like this before, not at a college!"  Sorry you can't see him well, the lighting is really weird in there when there isn't a game and it looked like this with and without a flash.

Then, we came back and played pool for like two hours, and laughed pretty much the entire time.  Yes, he beat me every single time.  Small tip: If you know you have horrible coordination and motor skills, don't play pool against a guy who plays it after work and on break almost every day at the pub where he works.  But hey, most of the games he only beat me by 2 or 3 balls, and one time it was only by 1 ball.  Luckily he's nice and didn't laugh at me. :p

We talked about all sorts of stuff while we ate and played pool, but after a couple hours of that, I was starting to get a headache, so we went down to Louis's apartment.  He and Deagan were hanging out, watching Risky Business (Deagan has an obsession with the '80s), and eating Freeze Pops.  Ha.  (Side note: I had NO clue Risky Business was about a high school kid that started a brothel in his parents' house.)  After that, we watched Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio, and I haven't seen that movie in so long it was like I was watching it for the first time.  It was a lot of fun.

Then, we went to go get Paddy another quesadilla, but Jole Mole changed their hours this year (lame!) so they were closed, so we each got a slice of pizza instead.  By this point it was close to 11:00, so I came in to  take a shower and he went to Louis's apartment.  We're getting up early tomorrow (for a Saturday, anyway), so we need sleep!  

If you wanna know what we do tomorrow, well, I guess you'll just have to read the blog. It wouldn't be fun if I ruined the surprise! ;)

Oh, yeah, this is us today.

Love my brother.  So, so much. :) <3  I don't know how I could be any happier, but I'm fairly sure my heart is going to explode when I get to have him AND Matt at the same time on Sunday.