Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tired. Just tired.


Well, today is done.


I think I'm going to update my to-do list (because turns out I forgot a test, of course) and try the Human Diversity test at least once, depending on how well I do.

I'm exhausted, but not nearly as nauseous so there's a plus.

Nope.  Just tired.

Oh, and did I mention we're having voter suppression issues and the Board of Elections is now trying to nullify every voter registration we've done?  Even Louis got turned away at the polls.  Yeah.  It's fun.  That means we have to try and make sure 200+ people get re-registered and early vote at the one stop voting by Saturday.

Just what we needed.  This means I have to work a table every minute Friday that I'm not in class.

I'd really like to just fast forward a week.  A week from now is where I won't have 5 tests in 5 school days hanging over my head, or the threat of the egotistical CRs making my life hell should Romney win.  I'd just like it to be over.

Can you tell how tired I am?  Because I am.  I am just tired.

Okay, enough whining.  Back to work.

post signature

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bad timing, universe.

You couldn't have waited for me to get through 4 tests in 4 days and the election before making me feel this awful?  Seriously?

So, uh, yeah.


I ate.

I went to class.

I did a little homework.

I got sick.

I slept for like four hours.

I took a shower.

And now I've got to get two essays ready for tomorrow before I can go back to bed.

Can it be next Wednesday already, please?

post signature

Monday, October 29, 2012

Strong enough for the both of us.

If it's not one thing, it's something else.

Apparently the Dilaudid is now screwing up my whole GI system.  Sorry if this is TMI, but I went from...uh, backed having to eat ice cream to rectify the problem.  Now, I would normally be happy for any excuse to eat ice cream, but that and taking every bit of Phenergan I'm allowed to hasn't stopped the constant feeling that I'm going to puke my guts out at any and every second.

And Election Day is 8 days away, meaning there is TONS of stuff that has to be done to get as many Democrats as possible to the polls.  I have to help Louis as much as I can on top of all of this.

I have so much school stuff to do on top of everything.  Here's everything that has to be done between now and next Monday.

Comparative Foreign Government: Read Russia Chapter 11, Read China Chapter 13, complete the outline for my term paper by Friday
Municipal Government: prepare two essays for the test I have to makeup on Wednesday, write my 8th two-page paper
Human Diversity: Italian American history powerpoint, 5-7 page paper that goes along with it (by next Thursday, thankfully, but I need to get it done ASAP), figure out presentation plan with my group partners, Assignment #5 - a three page essay, test by Sunday online
French Lit: study for Friday's test
French History: study for Monday's test
finish my application for the State Department by Friday

I think that's it...but it's probably not.  I've been in a Dilaudid/Phenergan haze for a week now, so needless to say, things slip my mind.  That's also probably why I'm not completely freaking out.  I'm too exhausted.

Plus, I have a church thing tomorrow night, plus calling two hundred people, plus figuring out when I myself am going to go vote.  Ugh, this is not the time for me to feel this awful.

On the upside, my head is getting better day by day.  I have hope that one day soon I will actually wake up in the morning and my head WON'T hurt.  That hasn't happened since September 23rd.  Hope is all I've got because I've, needless to say, resigned myself to the fact that there's nothing I can do to deal with the pain and stress on my own.  I need God.  Maybe that's why I'm so calm?  A dear, dear friend of mine said in an email she felt bad for not having been here for me, but I told her, there was really nothing for her to "be here for me" about.  I guess this is what it feels like to rely on God?!

So yeah, that's where I am.  I'm accepting more and more every day the fact that I can't handle all of this by myself.  God-given strength is the only way I'm going to get everything I need to get done done.

It's a good thing He's pretty awesome at coming through when I give in and admit how much I need Him. :)

This is a song that Taylor sent to me via Twitter while I was sitting in Duke on Tuesday.  It's what I'm holding onto right now.  God is good.  He's strong enough to keep me moving forward, strong enough to help me get all my work done, strong enough to keep me filled with hope.

He's got this.  He's got me.  It's because of Him that I don't have to be afraid or worried or stressed about any of this.  I don't know about you, but that's an incredibly comforting feeling when things are as complicated as they are right now.

"Strong Enough" by Matthew West

post signature

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another Happy Sunday

I love my church.

It's so nice to wake up at 8 am on a Sunday morning and actually be excited about it because it means that I get to go back to that beautiful place.

From the second I walked in, people were asking how I was doing because Elizabeth had clued them all in as to why I wasn't at Small Group on Tuesday.

The music was amazing.  This time the songs were ones I'd never heard before but really touched me.  The four guys who do the music every Sunday are so nice and so talented.  I really appreciate all the effort they put in for the service each week, and the fact that the songs aren't just old hymns.

I really feel like I'm making family there, which is so nice.  There was a lady named Janelle who gave a bit of her testimony today, and after the service, I was able to just go up and hug her and say thank you.  Every single person there has made me feel like I belong, like I've always been there just like everyone else, not like I just showed up 3 weeks ago.

After Janelle spoke, Sean gave this really powerful message about the difference between sacrifice and obedience.  I definitely felt moved by it, but I'm not quite sure what God is going to do with it and with me regarding it yet.  I guess that's where the fun lies.  Whatever it is, it's going to be good.

Then, I came back and called Duke, and according to them, the staph infection that showed up in my blood at Betsy Johnson was a contaminant in the lab, because the two cultures they've been watching in the lab since Tuesday are clean, so no infection and no trip back to the hospital.  Yay for that! :)  I am so grateful for God's faithfulness in my life and in my health.  Combine that with the fact that I feel like I'm showing even more response to the steroid for my head, and I'd say I'm officially on the mend.  Good, because with all of this catching up to do and the election in a little over a week, I need to be on top of my game.

I tried to do some reading after I took a shower, but then my headache got way worse, and I fell asleep at 5:30.  I'm only awake right now because I'm watching Revenge.  I'm going to eat something, finish the episode, and go back to sleep.  Sounds like a good Sunday to me.

This is one of the songs I learned today.  Catchy, yes, but it's so deep, even with such simple lyrics.  It's the prayer I have for my life.  I want all of this to be His.

Sending my prayers to all those in the path of Hurricane Sandy.  It's weird, there being a hurricane coming at the East coast and the South NOT being its primary target.

post signature

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Keep Your Head Up

How is it that I can work basically all day and, after midnight, feel like I've barely made a dent in my to-do list?  Sigh.  That's just so frustrating.  It'll get done, though; it always does.  I feel like Dory in Finding Nemo "Just keep working, just keep working, just keep working."

Yeah...don't ask me how my mind works the way it does.

Add to that the fact that NC State lost to the Tarheels today, which ended our 5-year football streak, and the probable rainstorm coming from Hurricane Sandy, and it's all just sort of a blah day today.

On the upside, tomorrow is Sunday which means I get to spend the morning at church, and even better, the pain in my head finally seems to be responding a little bit to the steroid.  Here's hoping it only gets better from here.

So, in summation, lots of homework, an exciting (albeit disappointing) football game, laundry, and a headache.  Sounds like a pretty normal Saturday to me.

I'm really, really praying everything keeps moving in the right direction.  I'm gonna need all the help from God that I can get in order to get all of this work done.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

This is a song that Kyla recommended to me on Tuesday, after Taylor recommended it to her.  It's not my usual style, but I really like it.  It's one song I've been playing repeatedly this week.  It's a good reminder - keep your head up, and keep your heart strong.

post signature

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's a good thing I'm a night owl.

Because otherwise, the six-hour nap I took this afternoon would have really screwed up my plans to tackle my giant to-do list.

Yeah...blame the Dilaudid, and the fact that I still have a raging headache.

The good news is that I made it through French Lit and Comparative Foreign Government and actively participated.  And since Dr. Thornton has known all week what's been going on, he cut me some slack and didn't hurt my grade for not having my outline for my term paper done today.  As he said, "lots of people won't have it today, and none of them have as good of an excuse as you."  Ha!  Gotta love college.

I have a TON of work to do over the next few days for classes, plus finishing my application for the internship with the State Department that is due on Friday.  I think I'm just going to try to get the French History stuff done and then go to bed so my sleeping schedule doesn't get totally out of whack.

Oh, highlight of my day:  Danny, one of the guys I met in Nashville, sent me the EP from his band, Wetherby, last Friday, but with all of the hospital craziness this week, I didn't remember or get a chance to go to the Post Office until this morning, and I put it in as soon as I got back to my room after French Lit this morning.  It is SO good!  Seriously.  I know some ridiculously talented people.  He's so nice for sending it to me for free, and it's only that much better for me because music is pretty much my love language.  (And side note:  He and Phoebe got engaged on Monday! Awwww. Now I really have to find a way to get back to Nashville, so I can go to the wedding! :D)  I also realized that all of the people who have been checking on me the most this week are people who are 550+ miles away in Tennessee.  God is really good at making it impossible for me to forget how loved I am or how many people are cheering me on.

Here's the song off the EP that's been on repeat most of the day today.  And Phoebe actually does some background vocals on it.  I love it.

Okay, I better go get some of this work done so I can go to bed...errr, uhhh, back to bed.

Hey, don't judge.  Most people who take Dilaudid would be in a comatose state.  It's a miracle I made it to classes at all yesterday and today.

post signature

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Evidence of God's faithfulness continues.

#1: I can turn my head without cringing.  First time since Sunday morning that's happened.

#2: I went to class today. I only have one class today, so I didn't wear myself out.

#3: I was able to stay awake, be attentive, and participate in that class despite having Dilaudid coursing through my system.  God bless the ER doctor who agreed to write me a prescription for it despite the fact she doesn't normally like to do it.  (And as an aside, funny story, one of the very cute ER nurses, his name was Will, came in with my first dose of IV Dilaudid and he asked me if I'd ever had 2 mg of it before.  I replied that, oh yes, it's my go-to drug, pretty much the only drug I get in dire circumstances such as that anymore and I always ask for 2 mg because 1 mg doesn't do a whole lot, and that I've actually had 3 mg before.  He replied, "Yeah...I'd be dead." And then called me hardcore. Ha!)

#4: Several people texted to check on me, never letting me forget how much they love me.  Ryann, preparing to leave for tournament tomorrow, wanted to know if there was anything I needed her to do.  I am amazed at how much the people in my life love me.

#5: That Dilaudid is helping me sleep a lot, something I don't think I'd be doing if I didn't have it because of the pain.

#6: I had a meeting with Dr. Mero this afternoon.  Tomorrow there's supposed to be our midterm exam covering an entire ten-chapter book, the test will consist of two essays, and a two-page paper due.  I called him yesterday morning and left a voicemail explaining what had happened, so he knew why I wasn't in class yesterday.  But since I was able to get up and go to class, I decided to go by his office and see if he'd cut me some slack on the exam/paper because all I've done is sleep since I got back from Duke Tuesday night.  He said of course, he would, told me to get him the paper whenever I could get it done, and agreed to let me make up the test Wednesday after class, giving me ample time to prepare it.  I said, "So I shouldn't even bother coming to class tomorrow," and he immediately replied, "No, sleep.  Seriously.  Sleep."

#7: I've barely thought about the blood tests I'm waiting on today, and when I did think about them, I wasn't scared or nervous or anxious.  Maybe I'm in denial and forcing myself to be positive, but I really feel like God is telling me they're going to be clean.  Which then, of course, means no one knows why I'm in this much pain for so long, but still.  I have PEACE.

I think I'll stop with 7.  That's God's perfect number, His sign of completion.  All things considering, today was a good day.

post signature

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Today is pretty easy to recap.


Phone calls.

A trip to the pharmacy.

And more sleep.

I tried to get up and go to class but just couldn't because of the pain, but I called all of my professors.  I left a message with Dr. Mero, Dr. Steegar already knew because I emailed him yesterday morning, and Dr. Thornton was actually there in his office at 7:20 which surprised me but was of course very, very understanding, told me not to worry about anything for his class and we'd take care of it once I got my health under control.  I love Dr. Thornton.  He's such a nice man, such a helpful adviser, an amazing teacher whose classes I love when most people think he's too hard, and I get along so well with him.  He's seen me go through a lot since the fall of 2009, and I know how much he respects me.

So yeah, I waited up until my neurologist's phones turned on, called them and told them I gave them the wrong number for the pharmacy yesterday, gave them the right number and they said they'd call it in.  I went back to sleep until 11:30 when I got up and ate lunch because I needed to get some food in me with these meds, and texted Elizabeth who said she'd take me to the pharmacy tonight after work, then I went back to sleep.  I started getting texts and phone calls from a bunch of different people (Ryann, Kyla, Taylor, Phoebe, my grandma, etc) around 1:30 checking on me, so I answered them, then decided to call the pharmacy to make sure the steroid got called in.  It didn't, so I had to call my neurologist again, and then found out that they thought the number I gave them was the fax number (even though I said it was a phone number), and they rectified it and promised to have a nurse call it in immediately.  And they did.  CVS called me about 3:30 and told me it was ready.

I lounged/rested until Elizabeth called and told me she was on the way, and literally went to the pharmacy in my pajamas (t shirt and pants) and a hoodie.  I've never gone out in public like that before, but I honestly didn't even care.

Now that I have the steroid, I'm going to try my best to make it to Human Diversity tomorrow.  Thankfully, it's the only class I have.

I'm so thankful for modern medicine, and the support system that I have in my life.  I am blessed with some amazing people all around me (even across state lines!) and I am so, so thankful for their love.  Focusing on blessings like them is something that definitely helps me keep my head up.

On to tomorrow.  Another day forward.  Here's to hoping for less pain.

post signature

Monday and Tuesday

Monday was mostly an average day.  The only problem was that instead of my usual headache, one where the pain fluctuates in intensity, since Saturday, it had just been getting harder....and harder...and harder...until I was sitting in Geography class Monday night and started crying.

Y'all know me.  I do not cry over a headache.

I get out of Geography and call Mom because the last time the pain was this bad was when I had the staph meningitis in October 2009.  No, I'm not kidding.  She told me to call Duke.  I called Duke.  Duke told me to go up there, especially considering I hadn't had my shunt looked at in a couple years.

So, I'm in my room, I call Kayleigh.  She's the RA that was on duty because it was Monday.  Poor girl, had to deal with me needing paramedics two Mondays in a row.  The paramedics got there, checked me out, and then we had to wait for a transport truck to get me to Duke.  (Regular ambulances can't leave the county.  Only transport trucks can, they're basically long-distance ambulances.)  It felt like a replay of the night I had staph meningitis, honestly.  The transport truck, the paramedic treating me like I was a was kinda freaky.

Anyway, I got to Duke at 9:30 pm on the dot.  Holly was sleeping because it was her night off, but I was fine being alone.  I went through typical triage and got an EKG because my heart was racing even though I was breathing normally, but it came back normal and they just said it was because of the pain.  They told me I had to go to the waiting room for a bit.  This is where the night got hellacious.

I sat in the ER waiting room for six hours and fifteen minutes.  Most of the time, I was in tears.  I have never been in Duke's ER that backed up before.  One lady I talked to said she checked in at 2:30 pm and she didn't get called back until after midnight.  Apparently I picked the worst day in the world to need Duke. I was texting Mom and Holly all night, and Mom got so pissed off that she started calling the neurosurgery resident on call and basically yelled at her until they ordered me a CT scan and shunt series about 12:30 am.  Yay progress...except for the fact that after those tests, they sent me back out to the waiting room still in tears, no pain meds, and I didn't get the results.

I FINALLY got in a bed in the ER at 3:45 am.  The nurses and doctors were very sweet and very sympathetic and got me Dilaudid as soon as they could, but it was still 4:30 am before I got the medicine.  They did neurological exams to make sure that I hadn't had a stroke, and kept coming in and out asking me questions and setting up fluids and whatnot.  So I didn't sleep.  The Dilaudid helped me relax, but I wasn't sleeping.  Somewhere in the 7:00 hour, a doctor came in and told me the first scans were normal so they were ordering a shunt flow test.  They kept me doped up on Dilaudid and Phenergan until then, and I still don't know how I didn't sleep.  It was weird, it was like I knew everything that was going on, and my eyes were open, but I wasn't thinking or talking or doing anything, I was just laying was bizarre.

Around 8:30, I got taken to Nuclear Medicine for the shunt flow test.  Basically, they stick a giant needle into the pump of my shunt, draw out some spinal fluid to test for infection, inject radioactive dye into my shunt and take pictures of it, then wait 20-25 minutes and take more pictures.  It took over an hour and hurt really bad because there was a lot of pushing and pressing and stuff right on my shunt/head.  By the time I got back to my ER room, I was almost in tears again, so the doctor ordered me this mix of Benadryl (because apparently I now react to Dilaudid, the only painkiller that works on me. awesome), Reglan (another painkiller), and caffeine.  They said every patient they give this to is healed of their did almost nothing for me.

So I lay there and ACTUALLY SLEPT A LITTLE (Hallelujah and Praise the Lord), and just after noon I get a text from Mom.  She says she just got a certified letter in the mail from Betsy Johnson (the local ER near Campbell that I went to last week for the stomach virus) saying that the blood they drew tested positive for MRSA (the medicine resistant staph that I am a carrier for).  So she demanded that Duke draw some blood.  The Betsy Johnson ER only drew from one site, so they said that it could've just been contaminated in the lab, so Duke said they'd draw from two sites to be sure.  But there was no MRSA in my spinal fluid, so that was good.  That's the "unanswered question" I'm waiting on.  Blood cultures take a few days to grow, so if there is MRSA in my blood, it won't show up until Friday or so.  They'll call me whenever they know, and if it's positive, I'll be back in the hospital.  Prayers for no infection would be great.  I need to finish this semester on time.

Well, long story short, they insisted on discharging me since it'll take days for the blood test to come back.  I spent all afternoon on the phone with my neurologist in Raleigh, who couldn't see me but was going to call in a steroid, Holly managed to get out of work on emergency, and she and Michael picked me up from Duke about 4:30.   They bought me some Chick-Fil-A, since it was 5:00 pm on Tuesday and the last time I had eaten was 11:30 am Monday, then drove me to the pharmacy in Lillington where I got the hospital's prescriptions for oral Dilaudid and Phenergan filled, and found out my neurologist didn't call in the steroid because I accidentally gave them the wrong phone number.  Then, Holly and Michael drove me back to campus, I took a nice, hot shower, doped myself up on pain and nausea meds, and promptly PASSED THE HECK OUT at about 8:00, which is probably pretty understandable since I had slept less than 2 hours in the previous 36 hours.

God definitely showed up in different ways, though:
1. Taylor, Kyla, Bruno, and Caitie all kept in almost constant (except for when they were, ya know, sleeping) communication with me to help keep me from feeling alone.  Especially Taylor.  Sweetest thing I think anyone has ever said to me, "I almost want to get on a plane and come be with you so you don't have to be alone."  No one in my life has ever even said they wanted to do that any time I've been in the hospital, not even Matt, but Taylor did.  That is just one shining example of many as to why that kid is one of my best friends/big brother.

2. Taylor put out a Twitter message to his followers asking for prayer for me.  And I could definitely feel the prayers, because I was never scared.  Pretty sure that's the first time in my life that I've ever been in a hospital and not been scared or worried about what was going on.  And I was ALONE.  That is absolutely 100% the work of God answering the prayers of my sweet friends and the kind souls who follow Taylor on twitter.

3. Yesterday afternoon, just after I got the whole MRSA text from Mom, the hospital chaplain stopped by.  I don't remember everything that was said because I was so drugged, but I do remember telling him basically my entire life story, him saying how encouraged he was by it to hear of the Lord's faithfulness throughout my life, and then he prayed over me.  Absolutely a message straight from God, no doubt in my mind.

4.  Holly was acting manager at her restaurant, but when she called her boss saying it was an emergency and that she was my only family in a 3-hour radius, the boss sent someone in to relieve her.  I don't know how I would've gotten back to school if it weren't for that.

5.  The ER gave me oral Dilaudid, even though the doc said they don't normally do that because it's such a heavy drug, and my neurologist agreed to call in a steroid to break the headache (it's worked before) without even seeing me.  That saves me from having to figure out a way to get to my neurologist when Holly works all the time and Mom can't take off work because she's been out with her own health stuff too much.

Those are just the biggest ones that I can think of right now.  I was telling Taylor, Bruno, Kyla, and Caitie over and over again how good God was being to me.  And they all kept telling me how proud they were of me for staying so positive, but really, I couldn't help it.  I was seeing God show up all over the place, and it was just natural, like I didn't have to go searching for Him, I just naturally found him.  Couple that with the fact that my shunt was fine and I didn't have to have emergency surgery, and yeah, I was feeling really good.

God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.  Enough said.

post signature

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oh Duke, long time no see.

And I was kinda hoping it'd stay that way.

But yeah, I didn't blog last night because I left for Duke's ER about 8:00 pm.

And here it is 7 pm the next day, and I'm back in my dorm.

I've slept about 2 hours out of the last 36, so all I want to do is take a long hot shower, dope myself up on pain and nausea meds, and sleep until I have to get up for class tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will post all the details, but just know that for now I am fine.  I am waiting on a few questions to be answered, but God will get me through whatever it is, no doubt.  The past 24 hours were full of evidence of His presence.

Like I said, details about the whole trip will come tomorrow.  For now all I can think is "shower, dry hair, sleep."

post signature

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fishers of Men

Ah, Sunday.  I don't think I need to tell you how much I look forward to Sundays now. :)

Today, we had a guest pastor, Ethan Welch, come and speak.  He leads Summit Church in Raleigh, and I guess he's friends with Sean.  He continued our "Represent" series, and spoke on Luke 5:1-11 and how Simon Peter and his brother left everything they had as soon as Jesus told them to follow him.  This passage led to Ethan giving us what he called the Three Markers of a Disciple.

1.  "A disciple obeys Jesus no matter the cost or inconvenience."  Simon had to have thought Jesus was crazy for telling him to put the net out again when he and his brother had been fishing at the prime time for catching fish and caught nothing, but instead of saying that he said, "Because you say so, I will let down the nets."  Jesus was a construction worker, Simon was the one who knew about fishing, yet because Jesus told him to let down the net at a seemingly bad time, he did.  He obeyed Jesus even though it meant he'd have to clean his nets all over again because obeying Jesus is more important, and as a reward, he pulled up more fish than two boats could hold.

2. "A disciple recognizes Jesus' holiness and repents of sin."  When Simon saw what Jesus had done for them, instead of celebrating, he "fell at Jesus' knees and said, 'Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!'"  He realized that he wasn't even worthy of being in Jesus' presence.  He didn't treat Jesus as just a friend who had helped him out; he saw how powerful Jesus was and knew how much greater Jesus was than him.

3. "A disciple leaves behind his own mission and takes up Jesus' mission."  This one hit me the hardest.  Something that Ethan said that I don't think I really realized up until today is that we are ALL in full-time ministry.  Jesus' mission is to bring people to God, and as His followers, we have to take up that mission, as well.  This is why Jesus tells Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on, you will catch men."  Our duty as Christians is to catch men.  As Ethan said, "Theater Church, you should make it next to impossible for anyone to go to hell from Dunn.  No one should ever face God at the end of their life and say they'd never heard the Gospel from anyone in Dunn, North Carolina."  I immediately thought of my family, Matt, and my other couple friends who aren't Christians and felt extremely convicted to do a better job at sharing the Gospel with all of them, not in a shove-it-down-your-throat kind of way, but in the gentle way that makes them want to come to know the Father that I adore so much.

I can't be the Sundays-only kind of Christian.  I don't want to be that kind of Christian.  I want His power and grace to influence every second of every day of my life, to come pouring out in every interaction that I have.  That's when God will be able to use me to bring people back to Him.  Realizing this made me think of a time when Taylor told me, "As good as you know it feels now to know that your story has had an impact on people like me who are already Christians, imagine what you're going to feel when someone says they came to know Jesus because of you."  I can't wait for that.  I want everyone to feel the sense of love and security that I have surrounding me every day.

That is exactly the reason why I've been praying for God to give me opportunities to help people with my story.  I want to help save lives the way people like Taylor and Bruno and Elizabeth and Michal have helped save mine.  I spoke with Ethan after the service for a little bit, but we didn't have time to talk long, so he asked me to send him an email with my story because he said he could see the passion in me as I told him the basics.  And seeing as he's a pastor in Raleigh, which is basically an hour away, maybe he'll be touched by it the way Sean was and want to do something with it.

Whatever happens, whatever comes out of all of this, I would greatly appreciate it if you would pray with me that I can continue to give all of the credit to God and use this for His glory, not my own, and that I can NOT be a control freak and totally submit to whatever He wants to come out of this.  I want to follow him 100%.

"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."  Use me, Lord.

post signature

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

First things first:  I think I'm finally starting to mend from this nasty virus that's had me down and out for the past week.  I still took a super-long nap this afternoon, but I've been more productive today than I have in the past week combined, so I'll take it.

Now, the cool thing about today.

I mentioned in this post on Thursday that I had a meeting this morning that could open up some doors for me.  Now that it's over, I can tell you what it was.  I met up with Pastor Sean and his wife, Carla, so I could tell them my story.  On the 7th, my first Sunday at Theater Church, Sean told the congregation that they were always looking for people to share testimonies during Sunday service, like a 3-5 minute glimpse into how God has worked in their lives.  Y'all know what a passion God has given me for telling my story to people, so I naturally jumped at the chance.  Due to our crazy schedules, this was the first time that the three of us could get together.

So we met up this morning for coffee (hot chocolate for me since I hate coffee), and we sat and talked.  I told them pretty much everything, abridging just enough that we wouldn't be sitting there all day.  Sean asked a couple questions, but it was mostly just me talking for a little over an hour.  Now, keep in mind that I was just expecting Sean to give me permission to speak during the service one Sunday.

Instead, when I was done, Sean looked up at me and asked, "Would you be comfortable videotaping that?"

I know I looked relatively calm on the outside, but on the inside, I was freaking out.  He went on to say that he didn't want to make me cut any of my story out because it is so full of evidence of God's faithful hand on me, that he couldn't expect me to cut all of that down to 3-5 minutes.  Then, he said that by putting it on video, they could make copies and give them to struggling people in the church or community, and they could play it at larger events, and he could make me some copies to have for my personal keeping.

I don't even know how to begin to describe the awe I felt after hearing Sean's offer/request/response to everything that I'd told him.  I knew how much I loved telling people about God's work in my life, but I never expected him to have that strong of a reaction to it, to see it as worthy of a bigger opportunity than anyone else's story.  I never saw my story or my life as any more special than anyone else's, just a tad bit more complicated.  So to hear Sean say what he did, to realize that he saw how much my life is a testimony to God's faithfulness, to have yet another confirmation that I could affect people with my words and the story that God gave me, well, it's just about put me in tears reliving it all.

The timing couldn't have been better.  The past few weeks have been spent seriously contemplating using my story for something bigger to bring God the glory He rightfully deserves.  Throughout this, throughout talks with a few people who know my story in depth and know my heart for doing something with it, I've been praying for God to open a door for me.

This is the door.  I just know it.  This is the first step to me publicly ministering to people with the gifts and the life that God gave me.  And I couldn't be more thrilled.  God is so good, and He has been so faithful to bring me through the fires that I've survived.  It's my job to share that with the world.  It's my job to reach out to the people who are scared of God or churches or both and tell them that I get it, I get what it's like to be terrified of the one thing everyone keeps telling you is the best thing for you.  It's my job to tell my story to anyone who will listen, and in the process, maybe restore their faith that miracles still happen.

This life was never about me, anyway.  All of the strength, all of the kindness, all of the good things that my friends see in me and compliment me for are HIM.  Every bit of this is Him.  I'll do whatever He asks me to do with this story because it's all His.  He is and will always be my faithful, loving, Heavenly Father, and all I want is to make Him proud.  I am honored that God has chosen me to be His vessel, and I'm so excited to tell the world of the kind of miracles He's capable of.

So God, since I know you're listening, keep the surprises coming.  I'm all in.

post signature

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nothing changed.

I still feel awful.

I still have no motivation to do work.

And I still have a ton of work to do.

This is going to be an interesting weekend.  Time constraints. Yay.

post signature

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Still Here

Allow me to whine for a minute.

I am so cold.  I had to put a hoodie and jeans on over my pajamas because I couldn't stop shivering.  That is so unlike me and I DO NOT LIKE IT.  I'd rather be hot and sweating and sitting in front of my fan than this. MAKE IT STOP.

I am so behind on my school work.  I have six hundred thousand things to get done, all in a very short window of time, and I can't get any of them done because all I want to do is sleep.  I've taken a several hours long nap every afternoon this week and yet I have no trouble getting to sleep at night.  This is not okay and is making me stress out about my work.

I have a two-page paper due tomorrow at 2:00 and I haven't even started the research for it, and I don't want to even though I have to because all I want to do is climb in my big warm bed and sleep some more.  But I know I need to do it now because as much as I don't want to do it now, I'll want to do it even less tomorrow when I will have the opportunity to sleep in because my morning class is canceled, butt I just don't want to write!  You'd think having a giant term project due at the end of the semester would be enough, but no, the man decides to give us 10 2-page papers to write, one each week in 2 5-week blocks, throughout the semester, too.  I love Dr. Mero, but this method is aggravating.  Remind me why I'm signing up for another one of his classes next semester?  Oh yeah, because he asked me to and I just can't say no to people.

Whine whine whine whine whine.

Okay, whining over.

Because I have to balance out all my pitiful whining and ranting with something positive, let's talk about some happy stuff now.

I only had one class today, and it was actually entertaining enough to keep me awake.

Over the past few days, I have been emailing back and forth with this guy.  It's kind of random, but my friend Clint retweeted someone else's tweet on Twitter, and that had a link to this blog.  On this blog was a guy talking about his friend who left his job and sent out this really beautiful letter.  You can read the post here.  I related to a lot of the things the writer, Nate, was saying he learned and experienced through his own medical trauma, and we've both been on a similar journey of realizing that God has His own beautiful purpose in our pain.  So I let a comment asking the blogger to have Nate email me, and I received an email within an hour.    This is why I love social media.  This is why I roll my eyes every time my mom makes a joke about my "imaginary friends."  Because of Twitter, blogs, and the internet in general, people have ways to find other people that they wouldn't be able to meet otherwise.  You can find people who go through the same struggles that you're dealing with, and with nothing more than a comment or an email, you both can feel a little less alone because someone else out there just gets it.

I have a meeting Saturday morning that could very well open up a door into a special opportunity for me.  I know this is vague, but I just don't want to say what it is until I know what's going to happen.  Pray for a God-touched and God-led conversation if you think of me.

It's my mom's 50th birthday today, as well as my sweet friend Kyla's 24th.  I am so proud to be Mom's daughter and Kyla's friend.  They are both such huge blessings to me.  Even my mom, with all of our disagreements, and differences, and fights, she's still my mom, she's still one of the coolest people I've ever known, and she is still a fighter and there's not a doubt in my mind that she would go to the ends of the earth to get me the help I need because she's already done it multiple times.  Her dedication and determination to give me the best life possible, the best education possible, and the best medical treatment possible is a HUGE part of the reason that I am not only still here, but I am thriving.

I've kept food down.  Yay Phenergan.

Okay, I really need to get this essay written so I can get back to bed.  It's a good thing that since French Lit is canceled, my first class isn't until 1:00.

I may sleep in this hoodie and jeans, though.  Just saying.

post signature

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I am pitiful today.

I feel absolutely awful.  Like, there's no really good way to describe it other than just bad.

So I am thankful that I was able to get up and go to class like a good little college student.

The problem is I have so much work and just about all I can focus on is trying not to be sick.

Oh well.  One day at a time.  Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.

All I'm going to worry about tonight is writing this essay for Human Diversity because it has to be turned in tomorrow.  That, and sleeping as much as possible.

But between having a hard time sleeping because of the pain, the Percocet, and the Phenergan, I just really hope that I can stay awake that long.

Yay college. Boo sickness.

post signature

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Three times today, my mind has been brought back to one big theme.  Two were conversations with Kyla and Taylor, and the third was during a sermon I listened to at a Revival event at the main campus that Theater Church is affiliated with.

The theme?  Living radically.

It started when Taylor and I were discussing the journey that my life has been on in the time that we've known each other and how he's gotten a firsthand look at how I went from a fake Christian, someone who claimed the title but didn't do much else, to someone actively pursuing whatever it is that God has planned for me.  He called me radical.  He said it was because I went through an intense storm and found my faith on the other side and because I now have this incredibly strong passion for telling people about my story.  I have that passion because I want to help them and show them just the kind of miracles that God can do.

Then, I went to the Revival, and the pastor spoke about how faith doesn't really mean anything if you're not pursuing that real relationship with Christ.  He said you can live radically without becoming an international missionary or adopting a bunch of orphans, that sometimes living radically just means you're willing to shout from the rooftops about how amazing your God really is.  The radical ones are those who put every bit of their trust in the power of the Holy Spirit and go do things they wouldn't think to do on their own.

Then, I got on the phone with Kyla, and she and I discussed a lot of the same stuff that Taylor and I did.  I mentioned an idea that I came up with while talking to Taylor, and it spurred this long talk about how I've influenced and encouraged her without even realizing and how she has done the same for me.  It's so inspiring and encouraging for me to hear that simply talking about my spiritual journey and the ways in which my faith has increased helps other people.

I've mentioned before that I've wondered if God has something bigger in store for me to do with my testimony.  All of this happening today has really solidified the fact that I know I want whatever it is that God has for me.  I want to be radical.  I want to be unashamed of my faith, like the Gospel says and like I remember The Vespers being the very first day I met them.  I want to be the girl that shouts from the rooftops (or internet, whatever) just how amazing my God is.  I want to (figuratively) grab someone by the shoulders, shake them and say, "LOOK.  Look at my life.  This is what God can do!  This is what He can redeem!"  I want to use my testimony to show the world that there is nothing out of His reach.

I want to be His vessel.  I don't know whether that means my only platform will be this barely-read blog in the corner of the gigantic internet, or one day I'll end up standing on a stage in front of hundreds or thousands with a microphone using my life and my words to bring God the glory and recognition He deserves.  What I do know is that I want to reach as many people as I possibly can, and I'm open for anything, any task God gives me.

Every single one of us has a story worth telling.  Do yourself a favor and ask God what He wants you to do with yours.  Today.  Right now.  When He answers, He will give you the strength and tools to fulfill that. Like me and public speaking, large crowds scare me, but if someone comes and says they want me to share my story with a crowd of hundreds, I'll jump at the chance because not only can I help people, I get to show people who might be struggling with their faith what it feels like to know God never gives up on you.  I get to show people that trauma can turn into something beautiful.  I get to show people that God is sufficient.

I want to tell as many people as possible that there is a God who can save them over and over again from unimaginable harm and risk of death.  I am a living testimony to His power, love, and grace, and I just can't keep quiet about it anymore.

The way I see it?  When people call you a radical Christian, you're doing something right.

So go.  Be radical.  You'll change lives.  I promise.

post signature

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another late night ER run.

It's 4:33 am, and I just got back from the ER about 20 minutes ago.

Turns out, a bad stomach virus caused all of the same symptoms that I had when I had pancreatitis in April.

I'm thankful for several things, though:
- an RA in my dorm being on duty and offering to come to the hospital with me so I didn't have to be alone
- that friend keeping me entertained while it took forever for the doctor to come see me and get me meds
- the doctor actually listening to me when I told him Dilaudid and Phenergan were the only meds that would help me
- Dilaudid and Phenergan
- kind paramedics, nurses, and hospital staff
- it not being pancreatitis, as that would require another hospital admission
- that same RA/friend offering to lend me the money to get my prescriptions for pain and nausea relief filled and letting me pay her back at the end of the month when Mom gives me money and to drive me to the pharmacy before class
- Campus Safety having vans to come pick us up at the hospital at 4 am
- my 12:30 class being canceled, meaning I don't have class until 2 pm
- prayers of friends and strangers alike, thanks to the power of social media
- for the first time that I can remember, not once being scared or worried because I felt the prayers being sent and the overwhelming peace that only God can give throughout the whole night

God is good.  I appreciate any prayers you offer up on my behalf for a quick and full recovery.  I've got a lot of work to do.  Thanks, y'all.

post signature

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Perfect Love

Well, if I wasn't 100% sure before, I definitely am now:  Theater Church is where I'm meant to be.  It is my home.

I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels to wake up at 7:30 in the morning and be EXCITED because it meant I was going back to church today.  I have never in my life been excited to go to church until today.  It is an unbelievably cool feeling.

And the  My head is pounding right now, so I don't even know how to properly explain what it was about, other than that it was on how to love if you're living the life of a disciple.  I seriously started crying towards the end of it because of the state of the relationships of the people in my family.  I still feel such a strong sense of conviction, and I hope it never goes away.Yes, I made it through 72 hours at home without fighting with Chelsea, which is a miracle in and of itself, but I didn't do it the way that I should have.  I stayed holed up in my room for basically all of those hours because I just didn't know how to deal with them.  No, I didn't fight with or yell at them, which is progress, but I didn't show them love or speak God's Truth into their lives when I could and should have.

God says that loving Him and loving others are the two greatest commandments He gives us.  The problem is that I can never, no matter how hard I try, love my family or anyone else the way that He calls me to.  It is so hard for me to love my family, possibly harder than it is for me to love anyone else in my life, and I fail at it every day.  But I'm not supposed to be able to love them the right way on my own!  I am human; failing is part of my sinful nature.  No matter what I say or do, my love will always be imperfect and fall short.

But that's where God comes in!  It is through an increasing faith in Him that He will give me the ability to love the people in my life.  That's the only way I'll be able to do it.  His love is perfect and all-encompassing, and when I trust Him with every last part of my being, He will fill me with His love for them, the 1 Corinthians kind of love that never fails.

And if I can apply this lesson to my family, those with whom I struggle the most, I can and need to apply it to all of the people who have come into my life.  These are the people who love me, who hate me, who hurt me, who fail me and whom I have failed, who struggle to love me as much as I struggle to love them.  There are a couple people who come to mind at those words, but I hesitate to name them because it's really not important.  I need to face everyone with this goal in mind, no matter how well we know each other or how strenuous our relationship has been.  I don't deserve God's love any more than they do, and it is my duty as disciple of Christ to let God use to me to be His light to the world, to the people in my life who may not get that light anywhere else.

1 Corinthians 13 is such a beautiful passage.  It is the kind of love I want and need in my life, and I pray that starting now, God increases my faith so that I trust Him enough to show His perfect, glorious love to everyone I encounter.

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love."

There is someone in your life that you struggle to love.  If you're anything like me, you almost feel embarrassed to admit it because it feels like just another way you've failed them and you've failed God.  But it's OKAY.  He doesn't expect you to be perfect or not to fail, and He never will.  If you trust God with your struggle, He will fill your heart in such a way that you won't have to worry about loving those people anymore because He will love them through you and for you.  He's the only way it can happen.  If we could give out that good, honest, purely perfect love on our own, we wouldn't be living in the messed up, broken world that we do and we wouldn't be the messed up, broken people that we are.  Perfect love can only come from a perfect being, and that's why we need Him.

There's a Father who loves you so much that He let His perfect, sinless son take the pain and pay the price for your sins.  I don't know about you, but for me, it's a pretty darn comforting thing to know that He has already given me so much and is still willing to clean up my messes and give me grace in the process.

So next time you think to yourself that you just can't love this person in front of you, remind yourself that He always can.

post signature

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Celebrating my best friend.

What a great Saturday.

I didn't get out of bed until the afternoon, which was exactly what I needed.  Because I knew that I was coming back to school tonight and would thus have all day tomorrow to do work, I didn't bring an ounce of schoolwork home with me.  And man, did it feel good.  I'm fairly certain I haven't had a day without any schoolwork since school started almost eight weeks ago.  I really needed the time to just chill.  I should've hung out with Mom more, but she understood that it wasn't because I didn't want to, I just wanted time to lay in bed and be lazy.

So yeah, I didn't get out of bed until 2:00, and it felt awesome.  And then Mom made me bacon and a roastie (shredded potatoes and onions fried in a pan with oil and salt, so unhealthy but SO GOOD).  Then, she got a shower and I finished packing (agh, I left my Bible at home!), and we left about 4:00.  I got this absolutely adorable picture with Blake before we left, though.

Sigh.  That kid so totally has my heart.  Anyway, with a couple stops along the way, we got here about 6:30 and got to see the end of the Men's Soccer game.  They won 5-2!  Heck yeah.

We ended up losing to Liberty in overtime 2-1.  Boo.  Ryann didn't play because of her knee (saving strength for the tournament makes sense), but the freshman that was in goal did a really good job!  Even if we had won, though, the best part of the night for me still wouldn't have been the game.  Although, I did love cheering for her when the seniors had their recognition at halftime.

Getting Mom and Ryann together is always so freaking cute.  I hope that when I have kids, I'm as good as my mom is at making their friends feel like part of the family.  I LOVE that not only does Mom adore Matt and Ryann, my two best friends, but they adore her, too.  I mean, Mom and Ryann have been around each other maybe three or four times, and tonight, Mom informed Ryann that she has to come home with us for Easter weekend so we can all spend a long weekend at the beach.  How sweet is that?!

Here's the pictures I managed to get tonight.

Ryann with the seniors' cake.  That thing was about six inches thick.  Awesome.

It's kind of blurry (boo cell phone cameras) but my best friend is so pretty and I love how happy she was to see Mom.

:)  This is totally my new cover on Facebook.

Ryann and one of her many adoring fans with the cake. ;)

Taylor, me, and Ryann.  Taylor is one of Ryann's roommates and we've become friends through her.  Gorgeous girls and wicked talented athletes, but they're even nicer than they are pretty or talented!

This was the point when I realized I'd pretty much become Ryann's personal photographer.  This is Taylor, Cissy (their other roommate) and Ryann.

I don't know why Mom isn't smiling but it still makes me happy.  Ryann's definitely daughter #4 now. :)

I just love Ryann.  We're sisters, it's that simple.  She is a complete and total rockstar, and I was so proud to be there to celebrate her and the other amazing seniors on this year's team.  I have said it before, and I will say it again:  I am so blessed to have her in my life and so thankful and proud to be her best friend.

Nights like this, people like her, they make me so happy I feel like my heart could explode!  I love it.

post signature

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guess what? You're good enough.

You know what's not one of my brighter moments?  The moment when I decided sitting outside barefoot in a short-sleeved shirt and pajama pants for over an hour and a half in 64 degrees and 17 mph winds was a good idea.  You see, Swansboro doesn't exactly have spectacular (or even remotely good) cell phone reception for Sprint, so sitting on my driveway is just about the only way I can have a phone conversation with anyone when I'm home.

And well, today was a rough day, for more reasons than one, so I really needed a chat with a good friend, and Kyla came to the rescue!  I can't really believe that she and I have become as close as we are in the past five months, except I can believe it because these have been some action-packed months for both of us and bringing people together is something God totally rocks at.

I'm so, so, so grateful for sweet, symbiotic friendships like the one I have with her.  In the course of our big conversation, we went from her listening to me and giving me advice, to me listening to her and giving her advice, to both of us just talking about how thankful we are that we became friends.  It was so beautiful.  I have a problem with worrying that I'm not as good of a friend to the people I care about as they are to me, and after our talk earlier, I can safely say that that is not a concern with her.

Selfishly, and I think this goes back to me realizing the importance of having good girlfriends, I'm just grateful that I have these amazing women in my life whom I can look up to.  Their wisdom, guidance, and friendship helps ease the ache of the pain I feel over not having a good relationship with Holly and Chelsea.  Because I am so hard on myself, I feel sometimes like I don't do enough to deserve their time and devotion to being my friend, but tonight, Kyla really showed me the impact that I can have on my friends.

It always shocks me any time someone tells me I'm wise, and I mean shocks in a very humbling way.  Here's the thing: 99.9% of the time, I have no idea what I'm doing.  So when my friends mention how I always seem to know what they need to hear or things like that, it hits me like I've never heard that said about me before.  But after talking to Kyla tonight, I realized that this is just part of the effect my life story has had on who I am as a person.  I think everything I've dealt with in my life has served to make me a more compassionate friend and given me a wisdom that most 20-year-olds don't have due to simple lack of maturity.

Let's face it, I had to grow up a lot faster than most people do.  I didn't get to really have a childhood, because I was either sick or felt like I had to be strong for my mom all the time.  So I think I'm maybe slightly more aware of the larger picture than most people.  I'm  not trying to sound all high and mighty or whatnot, because I will be the first to tell you there is a LOT I don't have figured out, but I think that I am good at giving my friends advice when they need it because my life story has given me a different perspective.

This reminds me of this post I wrote back in July called "What If vs. What Is."  If I had someone else's life, I probably wouldn't have the ability to connect with people that I do.  This is why I'm grateful for every surgery, every health problem, every tear I cried, every ounce of despair or pain that I felt.  Every bit of that has helped mold me into the person that I am right now, and I can finally say that I love who I am.

Everyone has something they don't like about themselves, or something they think isn't good enough.  If you're reading this, I challenge you to focus on the good parts of you.  I've learned that some of the things that I've absolutely hated about myself in the past are the things that my closest friends LOVE.  Stop being so hard on yourself, stop focusing on your shortcomings or failures, and start noticing the ways that you make the lives of the people around you better.  I guarantee that there is someone that sees you as a blessing.  You may not realize it now, but it's true.

In my opinion, being yourself is the first step in bringing God the glory He deserves.  Start looking at yourself the way God sees you, and the way that the people who love you see you.  You are good enough.  You are good enough because you are His.  He made you you for a reason, so don't just accept it, embrace it.

This life is too short to not love yourself.

post signature

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Love with grace.

I've started, erased, and restarted this post about six times now.  The girl who is always so good with words currently cannot figure out the right way to say this.   At least, to say it without hurting people whom I love and who love me.

I know these people love me.  I know the reason they are so protective and willing to fight against people who hurt me is because they know me and know my heart and love me.  I am not sorry these people love me.  I wouldn't change them or replace them for anything.  But right now, I'm just frustrated.

I think there's a fine line to walk in how you love people, especially as Christians.  I know, for me, there have been times that my love for people in my life has gotten me so angry at the people who hurt them.  For example, when I watched Matt break up and get back together with Simone over and over again, I just wanted to smack him and tell him what an idiot he was being!  But I didn't.  I didn't because I love him, and I respect him enough to believe that he knows what is best for him to do, especially when it comes to people I don't know.

Protectiveness is great.  Anyone who knows me knows that I will do absolutely anything to protect the people in my life.  But does the protectiveness have the same effect when you tell the other person that they're weak, or stupid, or naive, if they don't handle the situation the way you would?  I know that right now, it just hurts and frustrates me.  When you don't love people with grace, that love tends to come out as judgment.  Which sort of defeats the purpose of love in the first place.

Since I'm struggling so much to write this, I'm going to steal some words from my dear friend, JD.

"We all have an influence of sort, in varying degrees....would it have 'helped' or 'hindered' if I had been critical, condescending and abrasive the whole time?  If I didn't agree with something, I gently pointed to it and encouraged the things that were as they should be -- all while giving you grace because I saw the whole picture, and knew in my heart and spirit the work God was doing and knew He would finish it and that it would come in His time -- that's how a friend loves.  Period.  In doing that, we "love each other well/healed/whole" -- and it works!"

She and I...we know how to love each other with grace.  There have been PLENTY of times that we've disagreed on something, but when we brought those things to the other's attention, we didn't write emails or chat messages in a fury of anger or passion or emotion.  We thought how to best word what we wanted to say without causing unnecessary hurt.  Not once has she ever tried to berate me into agreeing with her, despite the fact that she has many years of experience and wisdom on me.  So I know this is possible.

The question is, are we willing to put in the time to let God mold our hearts to love everyone that way?  JD and I definitely have a special relationship, but I know that we can love everyone like this if we try.  If you are like me and would go to the ends of the earth to protect the people you love, that's great.  Please don't change.  Everyone needs someone that will stand up for them.  But next time one of those people decides to do something or go back to someone that you feel is a big mistake, I don't care if you feel it in your heart, bones, and soul, please try to love them with grace.  

Love them the way that God loves us, the kind of love that allows for free will to make mistakes on your own and learn from them for the next time.  Love them and support them, and if you turn out to be right, show them that you'll be there to help pick up the pieces of their mess.  Love doesn't include a guilt trip.  Love doesn't including name-calling.  There is a reason that 1 Corinthians 13:4 starts with "Love is patient."  Be patient enough that you love them through it.  Be patient and have love that is steadfast to the point that you love them enough to let them make their own mistakes.  If they're anything like me, that's the only way they'll learn, not by listening to you demean them for doing something you wouldn't do.

At the end of the day, you don't know that you're right about a situation any more than they know that you're wrong.  And love, real love, doesn't have conditions attached to it, conditions based on agreement, or who's right and who's wrong.  Because as 1 Corinthians 13 says a little bit after the "love is patient", 

[Love] always perseveres. Love never fails.

post signature

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Matt Turner

Today I am participating in a blogging day of silence in remembrance of Matt Turner.  He is a TV news anchor from Arkansas, and the husband of one of the bloggers I love.  You can read his obituary and learn more about him and his family here.  Saturday night, he was killed in a car accident, leaving behind his wife, Julee, and 10-month-old daughter, Preslee.  Today is his funeral.

Please, please pray for Julee, Preslee, and all the family and friends who are grieving the loss of their husband, son, brother, and friend who was taken from the ones he loves most in a tragic way that we cannot understand.  Pray for God to wrap His arms around all of them and give them a peace that passes understanding.  I am thankful that Matt was a man of God, so this is not the end for them.

Thank you.  I'll be back tomorrow.

post signature

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Caught up in grace like an avalanche.

Y'all, God is so, so good.  I am just so overwhelmed at the evidence of His grace and love in my life.

Tonight, I went to the ladies' small group meeting organized by my church and run by the pastor's wife and the wife of one of the guys in the band.  I don't know why I didn't know something big was going to happen tonight, but that's usually when God's able to really blow my mind.  And y'all, my mind = blown.

The study we're doing is on The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler.  This week's video was called "The Gospel Matures You" and was basically about how to approach our relationship with Christ and our aim to live life in a Godly way with the right mindset.  It focused a lot on Colossians 3:1-5.

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil, desires and greed, which is idolatry."

This hit me.  Hard.  It's something I know I struggle with a lot.  It goes back to the whole feeling like I'm not as good of a Christian as other people.  I tried to get the behaviors right so I could be like these people I looked up to, and I completely missed the point of salvation which is having a relationship with Christ.  There were times that I think I believed that God existed, I just didn't believe in the saving power He holds.  There's a BIG difference between knowing God exists and having a relationship with Christ.  I spent so much time focusing on my sin and shortcomings that I totally missed out on admiring the perfect grace and love that waits for me in heaven.

My life is hidden with Christ.  All of my failures, sins, shortcomings, the times I went astray, the times I lost my faith entirely, all of that is hidden in the perfection that is Jesus Christ because he paid my debt for me.

It brought me back to my conversation with Taylor on Sunday night.  This and so many other parts of tonight's meeting covered a LOT of the same stuff that we talked about with each other.  And as Taylor put it when I texted him to tell him about the meeting and how much lined up with our conversation, "That's encouraging because it helps me feel like we're on the right track."  Exactly what I was thinking.  It's like how I felt when I heard the church band playing "Cannnons" on Sunday; it was like I saw God look down and wink at me.

Tonight, and the women that were there with me, 100% confirmed the fact that this church is where I am supposed to be right now.  The past few days is something I'm still trying to process, but I think I'm realizing that this kind of love is something I'm not supposed to be able to process.  It's the love that passes all understanding, the love that makes a Father give up his son for torture, humiliation, and death to pay for the sins of an imperfect girl trying to find her way in the 21st century.

This feeling I have right now is so special and so incredible that the only words I can think of to describe it are the words of a song I first heard at Sanctuary, "Like An Avalanche" by Hillsong United.

And I find myself here on my knees again
Caught up in grace like an avalanche
Nothing compares to this love love love
Burning in my heart

Please, if you don't know Jesus Christ, listen to this song.  He died for you just as much as he died for me, and he loves us both.  If you are willing to open yourself up to God's sovereignty, I can promise you it is the one choice that you will never, ever regret.  All of the pain, fear, and doubt you're holding onto will fade into darkness when you let go and fall into Christ.

I know this because I was there.  I know what it's like to be terrified of the one thing everyone is saying is so good for you.  But I let go, and I'm experiencing everything that was waiting for me for so long.  I don't know a lot about this life but I know this much - this feeling of overwhelming love that I have right now makes every dark piece of my story worth it.

post signature

Monday, October 8, 2012


The best laid plans go awry.  I had fantastic plans last night to get ready for bed as soon as Revenge was over at 10:00 last night in order to catch up on the sleep I missed the night before.  And that was exactly what I did.  That was why I had last night's epic blog post done so early - I wanted to make sure that was taken care of before 10:00.  It was between 10:30 and 10:35 when I was walking toward my bed.

Just as I was laying down, the phone rang.  Fantastic timing, right?  It was Taylor.  That kid will always be more important to me than sleep, so I sat down in my recliner (in the dark), and now I am SO glad I didn't tell him I wanted to sleep.  We talked about a lot.  We  talked about the blog post.  I couldn't wait to hear his reaction because he was one of the few people that I texted to keep me accountable, so I knew he had been praying about it for me in advance.  To know that there is someone out there who rejoices in my triumphs and God's hand in my life as much as he does is an encouragement that I can't adequately describe.  Talking about yesterday at church transitioned into reminiscing about the night at Sanctuary and my baptism.  He told me this hilarious story about how when I went up to him that night to ask him where to go for the baptistery,  he didn't figure out what I was doing; he thought I was trying to get the "full touristy experience."  Then, we started talking about just the work God is doing in my life in general, and I got to hear a lot about his testimony that I had never heard before.

I don't even remember at this point what else we talked about.  All I know is that it was midnight when I finally hung up the phone, and I went to bed with a smile on my face despite a pounding migraine.  As much as my relationships with all four of The Vespers has been a surprise to me, my friendship with Taylor has been the biggest one of all.  He's known for a while that I consider him and Bruno my brothers, and that he is one of my best friends, so that wasn't a shock when I said it in the conversation last night.  What was a surprise to me, and apparently to him as well, was when he said I'm one of his best friends, too.

I've been thinking about our conversation pretty much all day today and the impact that it had.  This is why I stopped apologizing for being me.  This is why I'm not sorry for the heart that I have for people.  Because as big of a pain in the butt as my intensity can be sometimes, there are people in my life who see it, who know some of my darkest places, and love me, anyway.  These are the people who love me through all the screw-ups, who see past all the times I fail them.  These are the people who love me when I'm at my worst and keep me in check when I'm at my best.  They let me know that I don't have to change to please them, and remind me that I should only change to please God.

Taylor is the perfect example of this.  He knows more about my heart, my story, and my past than just about anyone, save for Matt and Ryann, and he doesn't judge it.  He's not afraid to tell me anything, even confronting me in Christian love when he sees a mistake I'm making.  Our personalities are so similar that I feel like we understand each other better than most people can.  I meant what I said in this post - he's the kind of man I want to marry one day.  I see his heart, his humility, his passion for people, and all of that challenges me to learn more about Christ and seek what He can do in my life.  It's so hard to believe that he and I are as close as we are now, but I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am that we are.

It's people like Taylor who cause me to regularly admire the love that God has for me.  That's the love that I really can't understand.  God loved me so much that He gave up His child to suffer all the pain and humiliation that I deserve for my sins.  And I see His love for me when I look at people like Taylor.  God has put His love on earth within reach in people that teach me through their presence in my life as yet another gift to me.

This is why I will go to the ends of the earth to fight for friends like Taylor.  It's because he has been there through so much and never wavered.  He has let me pour my heart out and been so patient.  And even better, he doesn't do it so I can write a blog post about what a blessing he is, he just does it because he loves people and he loves me.  To put it simply, God has used him to change my life.

The thing that blows my mind the most, though?  He's not the only person I have like this in my life.  He's just been on my heart a lot as of late, and because of what a blessing that conversation last night was, I had to get these words out somewhere.  So there you go.

Reflecting on all of this makes me pretty certain I'm going to go to bed smiling again.  :)

post signature

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Going Home

Today was a day that was six years in the making.

Today was the day I returned to church for the first time since September 2006, when my hometown church essentially kicked me out.  When that happened, I was already in such a downward spiral of depression that I didn't really need another reason to not want to believe in God, but that just sort of solidified it.  I figured there was no point in trusting churches because people were just mean, and at first, I thought that I could still be a Christian without going to church.  You know the saying, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car."  Well, then with all of the subsequent medical trauma that happened over the next few years, I lost my faith entirely (as you well know), so needless to say, years went by without me stepping foot in a church really quickly.

When I had to go to that church service for my Intro to Christianity class, I didn't pay attention to anything other than what I had to take notes on, so I just don't really count that.  So aside from going to Christmas Eve service last year (which I'm pretty sure I fell asleep in the middle of), and when that same church who treated me so badly asked me to speak in January (which wasn't even a real service), I have not gone to church in 6+ years.

Truth be told, I've known this day was coming for a while, I just didn't know when.  It started that night at Sanctuary, when I realized that there were actually still churches out there full of people who would lift me up.  That was the first time I remember thinking that maybe I could open myself up to a church community again.  Well, the end of school was crazy, and the summer in DC was crazier, so I just didn't think about even maybe going to church much at all.  During that time, Brennan told me over and over about how I needed to lock myself in with a body of believers, and I was in such a weird/bad place at the time that I couldn't even ponder what good that would actually do.  The thought stayed in the back of my mind, though, (good thing Brennan is just as persistent as I am) and I had this deep-down feeling that soon enough I would be going back to church.

Then, I came back to school, and from the first time I met up with my friend Elizabeth, she started asking me to come to church with her.  I wanted to, but I just couldn't let go of that fear.  I didn't see it as fear at the time - things just kept getting in the way, too much homework, sick, out of town - but looking back, I know that those were all just excuses for the fact that I couldn't let go of how afraid I was of churches.

Then, one day, one of my favorite bloggers, Linny, posted a link to a recording of a talk that her husband, a former pastor, gave at their new church (they're just members there).  I love her blog, and I know a bit about her husband, so I was curious to watch it.

Let "It" Go from Phoenix First on Vimeo.

It's long, so don't worry about watching it if you don't want to.  The important part is that when Dwight got to the point in his talk where he spoke about "laying it down" and how God asks us to lay certain things down because He has something so much greater waiting for us, I felt God speak to me four simple words:

Lay down that fear.

Well, as soon as that video was over, I knew what I had to do.  So I called my friend Elizabeth and asked her to take me to church with her this Sunday (today).  And then I texted a few of my friends to keep myself accountable (because the people pleaser in me knew that if they were expecting me to go to church on Sunday, that would keep me from backing out).

I'm fairly certain that satan was trying to get to me last night, because I was trying to get up with Elizabeth while at the game last night and her phone was off and I had no idea what time she was picking me up today.  I knew the service starts at 11:11, but I also knew she gets there early to work the coffee bar, so I just had no idea what time to expect her, or if she'd even remember to pick me up!  I ALMOST freaked out, but then just decided that if I couldn't get up with her this morning, I'd go to the church right off campus by myself.  Nothing and no one was getting in the way of me.

I didn't get to sleep until 5 am this morning, but I still managed to get up at 8:00 and call Elizabeth.  She didn't answer, but thankfully, she called me right back.  She had forgotten to turn her phone back on after going to the movies yesterday, hence the no answer last night.  Once I knew what time she was coming, I figured I'd just stay up and get ready.  Of course, seeing as she is Elizabeth, she was 15 minutes late, but she picked me up at 10:00.  This is where the day got cool.

The church?  An old theater.

Hence the name Theater Campus.  Elizabeth quite literally called it "Theater Church."  So, awesome.  It felt way less informal.  I walk into the main room, and next to the coffee bar is the candy bar.  Seriously, there were M&M's, Skittles, Twizzlers, and Starburst sitting on a table.  IN CHURCH.  As soon as I looked up from that, I saw the band on stage, and they started playing.

God Moment #1?  The song they started playing was "Cannons," a song I heard for the first time at Sanctuary.  

I basically just hung out, Elizabeth introduced me to a bunch of people, and waited for the service to start.  I love that they start at 11:11.  As Elizabeth said, no one ever forgets it!  There was music from the band (modern worship songs instead of old hymns) and a baby dedication.  Then, Pastor Sean spoke.

God Moment #2?  His sermon was the introduction to their new series called "Represent," and it was all about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  He talked about something that I've struggled with my entire life: feeling like I'm not as good of a Christian as some of my friends who have had a strong faith their entire lives.  I spent so much of my life feeling like no matter how hard I tried, I just wasn't doing it right.  But Sean used one of the most, if not THE most, quoted verses of the Bible to show me that I am good enough just as me.  "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish  but have eternal life." John 3:16  Whoever.  As long as you believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ, you are taken in as God's child.  It doesn't matter who you are, whether you've been a Christian for a day or all your life, where you come from, what you've done, the sins you've committed, the life you live, anything at all; if you believe, you will not perish.  God's timing is so good - I'm so grateful that God made my first week back to church coincide with a sermon that I needed to hear so badly.

After church, I waited for Elizabeth to help clean up.  Then, about a dozen of us went to this Mexican restaurant that I didn't even know existed, and it was DELICIOUS.  I asked to get a picture with Sean, just because.  And yes, that is what he wore to the service.  You know you go to a laidback church when the pastor wears a button-down and jeans.  I won't be dressing quite so nicely next week as I did today.

God Moment #3:  I spent a few minutes talking to Sean throughout the afternoon, and we are meeting sometime this week so I can tell him about my story.  He said they're always looking for people to share their testimonies, and God has given me such a passion for telling my story lately that I pretty much jumped at the chance.  So I may be speaking at this church in a few weeks. :)

Suffice it to say, I have found my church.  From the second I walked in the doors of that church today, I felt like I was home.  I haven't had a feeling like that since the night of my baptism.  I can't wait to go back.  I can't wait to be back with that crowd.  Any remaining wall I had still up about trusting a Christian community or trusting a church is gone.  

With that, I have found yet another way in which God has redeemed and is redeeming the pain of my past.  I used to think that I wouldn't see or understand my redemption until I got to heaven.  Now, I realize that it's everywhere, every day, in every choice I make that brings me that much closer to Him.

There will never be adequate praises of gratitude.  All glory goes to God.  Only He could pull off something like this.

post signature