Thursday, January 31, 2013

Non Stop

Today has been nuts.

Wake up.


French grammar.

Infirmary appointment.  Turns out that I pulled six or seven different ligaments in my ankle and foot without a specific injury or accident to point to as the reason, which means I get to wear a fantastic brace for the next month or so.  And in the past two days the brace gave me a three inch blister on my lower leg, because I don't have any long socks, so there's extra doctoring involved for a while to let it heal.  The good news is there's nothing wrong with the bones.



Then I actually got to have a break and have a phone chat with Taylor.  Love that kid.

Tutoring a freshman in Western Civ.



Then two and a half hours of conjugating all sorts of French verbs with Ryann.  This class is killer.

And now I have to work on a paper that's due tomorrow.  Only problem is I feel brain dead.  But I'm not gonna have time to do it tomorrow before it's due.  This should be fun.

Yay college.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I know it's a good day when...

...I wake up at 6:30 and I'm actually excited to go to my 8 am class.  I love International Relations that much.  I love Dr. Thornton and his teaching that much.

...I find an email from Pastor Sean asking me to write something for the updated church website that is coming soon, because he's read some of my blog posts and thinks I have a talent for writing.

...I'm humbled to be reminded that people actually read what I write, and more than that, they like it.

...I go to World Religions, and for the first time in two weeks don't have a quiz or test to worry about.  The schedule had literally gone 1/16 quiz, 1/18 quiz, 1/21 quiz, 1/23 test, 1/25 quiz, 1/28 quiz.  Thankfully, our schedule slows down after this.

...I schedule two peer tutoring sessions in two days, which means more money for me.

...Phonetics is a success.

...Public Policy is entertaining and went quickly.

...I understand what I need to know for Grammar tomorrow, so I don't have to spend a long time studying.

...I am able to pass along Mere Christianity to a friend of mine whom I know will greatly benefit from it, and she so sweetly offers to give me a ride to Walmart and Lowes sometime this weekend so I can restock my food supply.

...I get to go to small group for the first time since the beginning of December.  I have enriching discussion about God's Word and His will with people that grow to feel more like family every time I spend time with them.  I am able to share a request for prayer for my migraines, and they pray over me right then and there.  I know in my heart that these people truly love me, and they see me as much of family as anyone else who's been there for much longer than I have.  I am comfortable, I am myself, I am free.

...I am reminded a hundred fold just how blessed I am not only that I found this church and this family, but that in the span of a year, God took me from a girl who barely wanted to step foot in a church to a girl who loves going to church, who is a part of a small group that she can trust, who is putting down fears and singing in front of people to praise the Lord that has given me so much.

...I receive a text from a sweet friend who read yesterday's post about my dad and encouraged me yet again about sharing my testimony and story with people.

...I am sitting here watching a really creepy episode of Law & Order: SVU and yet I can't stop smiling because today has been just so beautiful I can't even help it.

My friends, I hope that you have had a beautiful day, as well, and if you haven't, that tomorrow will shine more brightly for you and that you will be reminded that no matter what, God is here.  He is with you.  He never leaves.  And he's got you in His hands.  I promise.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Love of a Father

Today, he would be 51.

I know that's basically the only picture I've ever put up on here of my dad, but a) it's the only one saved to my computer, and I've never taken the time to go through and get some more scanned on here, and b) I just love it.  I love how you can see how much I look like him (I look more like him than Holly or Chelsea ever did/do), I love how handsome he is, I love his smile.  It's simply one of my favorite pictures of us ever.

Every year, his birthday starts off with a bit of a weird feeling for me.  I'm not quite sure why; I guess it's mostly just the realization that another year has passed and it's been another year that he hasn't been here.  I'm not ever really necessarily sad or anything, just in a different, more reflective mood.  That probably doesn't even make sense, but just go with it.

Today, though, the Lord was so faithful to fill my day with blessings that made me feel like my daddy was right here with me the entire time.  I could just feel him in a way that doesn't happen all too often anymore after this many years.

I received several messages from friends who either remembered that today was his birthday or responded when they saw I posted about it on Instagram (yep, I got Instagram when I got an iPhone) and Facebook.  And that made me happy to realize that other people thought about him, too.

Yesterday's worse headache seems to have been a fluke, as I woke up today with improvement again.  And I felt like I could hear him whispering, "See, sweet pea?  I told you everything's gonna be okay."  Sweet Pea was his special nickname for me.  

I felt on top of things in French and just had fun, not worrying about mistakes I made or whatever like I often do.  The World Religions test wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be.  And I felt like I could see him grinning with pride at how hard I work and how well college is working out for me.  One of my mom's favorite things to remind me is that I could never cease to amaze him with the intelligent things I could say as a little girl.  I want to make him proud so very much.

The most vivid, tangible example today, though?  After I made up that test, I spent quite a while in the infirmary with the orthopedic doctor there looking at my foot.  Because of my previous foot surgery and the fragility of the bones in my right foot, he gave me a brace but wanted me to get an X-ray just to be sure that there wasn't a stress fracture in there.  Of course, there is no X-ray machine at the infirmary, so they told me I should/needed to go to this radiology clinic about 10 miles away.  I tried calling several of my friends, but none of them answered, and I remembered a conversation I had had with Dr. Steegar this morning.  He knew what was going on with my foot and that I'd probably need an X-ray.  He told me if I couldn't find a ride to the ER (because I didn't know this radiology clinic existed until the infirmary told me), to call him and he would drive me in the 90 minute break he had between two of his classes.  My only other option would have been to have Campus Safety drive me, and they charge $30 a trip, and they wouldn't wait for me which means they would have had to make two trips and cost me $60.  "We need to make sure you get taken care of," as he said.

So when I finally got out of the infirmary at almost noon and couldn't get a hold of a friend, I called him.  The timing worked out perfectly that I had time to get a quick lunch before his class finished.  And then I met him at his office, and he drove me to get the X-ray.  He sat and waited with me.  He spent what I'm pretty sure was the entirety of his only opportunity to eat lunch today taking me to the doctor.  And then he drove me back to my dorm so I didn't have to walk any farther than absolutely necessary.  What kind of a professor does that?!  An absolute God-send, I tell you.  Aside from my Uncle Ed, I can't think of another man that's ever made me feel like a daughter.  Dr. Steegar is a prime example of how many incredible educators there are still out there in the world, people like my mom, people who go so far above and beyond what is expected or required of them simply because they just want to help their kids.

And it was in living this out today that I realized that, while my biological father is not with me physically, he lives on in my heart and my spirit.  The stories I hear of him make me want to be a better person.  I see the kind of father I know he was when I look at men like Dr. Steegar.  And I reminded that I don't have my dad, Keith, but the love of a father can be manifest in many different ways.  (Side note:  Dr. Steegar is also the father of 3 girls, and his wife passed away several years ago.)  Because Dr. Steegar may not be my dad, he may be just my professor, but I felt a father's love from him today.

It's people like him, situations and days like this, that keep me aware of just how much greater the Lord's love is for me.  I am His princess.  He loves me more than my dad ever did or could, and because of Him, I am never alone.  He keeps my dad's memory alive in my mind and in my heart.  And it's that memory that will keep me searching for the man that will be my husband who will love kids with everything that he has, not just our kids, but also the kids who grew up not ever really knowing what the love of a dad is really about.  I believe with everything in me that every boy and every girl should experience this kind of love at some point in their lives because maybe, just maybe, that will be what points them back to the greatest Love of them all.

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Monday, January 28, 2013


Today has been a major strain on my attitude.

First, after five straight days of feeling like this new combination of medications was going to finally fix my head, I woke up today with the pain having taken a major step backward.  The good news is that tonight it is feeling somewhat better again, so there is hope that all of this was just a fluke.

Second, in World Religions, I found out that the test that I have to make up tomorrow (because I was sick on Wednesday) is actually super difficult, and now I'm all stressed out about my grade in the class I thought I was going to be the least worried about because I've already done poorly on a few of the vocab quizzes.

Third, Phonetics is making me feel stupid.  I really dislike feeling stupid, especially when I know I'm not stupid.  And it's nothing Dr. Steegar was doing; he was actually really encouraging about what we were working on and also told me he's going to recommend some of his worse students go to Student Services and sign up for me to tutor them.  So he knows what I'm capable of.  I just get so aggravated with myself when I know I should be getting something and it's just not sticking.  Perfectionist problems.

Fourth, and this is the most fun of all, I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up in the ER tomorrow getting an x-ray of my foot.  The pain in my right foot (the one that had all the steel taken out because of the MRSA infection that Dr. Pupp warned me could fracture even years down the line because the bones didn't have enough time to fuse before I got the infection) has been getting progressively worse for over a week, and now there's a stabbing pain in one bone in my foot every time I take a step.  I'm going to go to the infirmary after I make up my World Religions test tomorrow morning first because there's technically supposed to be an orthopedic person there who can look at it, but as Mom said, "Unless they have an x-ray machine, which the chances of there being one in that infirmary are about as high as you marrying Prince Harry, no one in there is going to touch your reconstructed foot with a ten-foot pole.  But good luck with that."  Ha.  Gotta love my mother's supportive sense of humor.  I really hope I don't have a cast on my foot after tomorrow.  I'm hoping that if anything, they'll give me a walking boot or something that won't be quite such a hassle.  But yeah, prayers are appreciated.

But then, sitting here writing this blog post and just wanting to rant about how frustrating today has been, I keep thinking back to an email I got from my friend Lauren this morning.  She had emailed me a prayer request, and I responded telling her what was going on with my head.  She told me she'd continue to pray but then she added, "Your attitude never ceases to amaze me, though!!!"  And that just makes me do a double take.

First, I want to think, "Man, am I really that two-faced?" because when she sent that, I really felt like my attitude was pretty much the last thing that anyone should be amazed by.  I was feeling exhausted and frustrated and defeated and annoyed and just all the ugh feelings you can think of.

But then, it makes me think that this is when God has the opportunity to make me better, to make me a little more like Him, even when the very human part of me would like to stay in my rut and whine some more.  I just have to swallow my selfish pride, step back and let Him.  It makes me remember of what I know to be true, exactly what I responded to Lauren this morning: "Thanks, sweet friend, but this is ALL God.  If I were on my own, I'd be miserable and depressed.  I know that because I have been there.  He is my strength - because of Him, I can boast in my weakness!  That's what gets me through every day!"

If I just give all of this stress and pain and worry over to Him, He can take care of it because He is strong enough.  It is His strength that will fill me, that will give me the provisions necessary to make it through every single day one day at a time.  That's why it's okay that I'm not enough.  I don't have to try to be enough because He already is.

What a relief.

It's all because of Jesus I'm alive.

And I'm alive because I'm alive in You.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's not about me.

None of this.

It was never about me.

It was never about how much I love to sing.  It was never about how much I wanted to volunteer at church.  It was never about how much I wanted to join the worship team.

And that's what I've had to remind myself about six thousand times today as I survived (though it feels almost barely) my first practice at church today.  This isn't about me.  It's about Jesus.

The devil was definitely trying to get to me.  I woke up feeling good and excited.  I got to church feeling good and excited.  The service was incredible, the sermon really spoke to me, I sang my heart out with the music and actually knew a couple of the songs, the whole thing was just beautiful, and I was feeling good.

And then Pastor Sean dismissed the service for the meetings that were going on (the worship team plus a children's ministry meeting), and my hands pretty much immediately started sweating.  And of course, I was an idiot and the first one to jump on stage when they asked for a couple of the new singers to get up there.  At first, I was thinking it'd be a good idea for me to just dive right in and get into it....and then I was the first person to sing a solo.

Here's the thing.  I haven't performed in front of anyone in any capacity in more than six years, since my hometown church kicked me out, when I was part of the Teen Worship band there that sometimes performed during church services.  But they never made me sing a solo because they knew I wasn't comfortable with it, so basically, this was my first time ever singing on my own in front of people ever.

Yeah.  That went well.  Don't get me wrong, everyone there was perfectly nice, and some of the other new girls were super sweet and supportive and encouraging, so it wasn't anything they were saying or doing to make me feel bad or awkward or whatever.  It was just me.  It was me being my typical perfectionist self, cringing every time I missed a note, my voice shaking every time they told me to sing lead, getting frustrated when I couldn't do what they were asking me to do simply because I didn't know the song well enough (and I should've known it, which just made it more frustrating), and mostly comparing myself to the other vocalists.  All I could keep thinking was that I was the worst one there, and the sweetest girl of them all sounds like a legit gospel singer/Amber Riley from Glee.

Basically, I was a hot mess internally, and apparently the other girls could see it in my face because they kept trying to make me feel better and give me tips on how to get past the nerves.  It was really sweet.  That's one of the many reasons I know this church is different; no one there was doing anything to make the situation harder.  It was all me.

There is some good news, though.  Earl and Drew, the guys leading the practice, said that everyone's pitch sounded really good for a first practice, and since they didn't take me off to the side and tell me I wasn't good enough (which the paranoid voice in my head was sure they were going to do), so if I can just get my nerves under control, I should be good to go.  And I need to get them under control stat, because I could be performing Sunday, depending on the schedule they come up with.  Also, at the end, that super sweet girl (the one that sounds like a gospel singer) and I ended up sharing a microphone on a song, and we found our voices actually blend really, really well together.  Plus, you know, I survived, which is sometimes all you can expect when you're going full on into something that's so foreign to you.  And as my sweet friend Caitie reminded me, "The Lord says make a glorious noise unto Him.  Doesn't say it has to be Beyonce like. :)"  (Did I mention I LOVE THAT GIRL?!)

I want to do this.  And more importantly, I really and truly believe that the Lord wants me to do this.  I'm doing this for Him.  This is about Him.  That's what matters.  He'll get me through the nerves.  The devil cannot win this battle.  I belong to Jesus, and Jesus has already won.

This is a song that same gospel-singer-like girl was singing at practice today.  I love it.  And it fits.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tonight's dinner menu? Roasted ram.

Ah, sweet Revenge.  It's been a long time coming.

My Wolfpack.  My sweet, sweet Wolfpack.  I didn't know if this season could get any better than when we beat the Blue Devils two weeks ago.  Turns out, IT TOTALLY CAN.

The only team NC State fans dislike more than the Duke Blue Devils would be the UNC Tarheels.  We had 13 straight losses against them going into tonight, so UNC fans had their egos in high form despite the fact that for the first time in I don't even know how long, we're ranked and they are not.

NC State fans have been waiting a loooooooooong time to see this.

It's not the greatest picture, so in case you can't see: North Carolina 83 - NC State 91.

And that's not even the most accurate portrayal of how this game went.  We were up the entire time, at one point as much as 28 points!  It was ridiculous.  And while it may not be the most Christian thing for me to do, I am thoroughly enjoying celebrating this because on top of all the UNC fans, I had to deal with just about all of my friends who are Duke fans cheering on the Heels, their "only real rival" because "NC State doesn't matter".   Right.  That's why every Duke and UNC fan I know keeps up with our record obsessively and celebrates our losses.  Mmhmm.

So yes, I am especially stoked right now.  Last year, we made it to the Sweet Sixteen, and if we keep this kind of play up, this year is going to be even better.  I love my Wolfpack!!!! :)

I'm sorry, but that was totally the highlight of my day.  NC State hasn't beaten both Duke and UNC in the same season in 10 years, so this was beyond epic for a lifelong Wolfpack fan.  Wolfpack pride, it runs deep. :)

Aside from that, I have had a very productive day.  I got all of my homework done aside from the Public Policy stuff.  I'm going to read the two chapters I need to read for Paper #2 before I go to bed tonight, and then hopefully I'll be able to write the paper while I'm at the Tutoring Center tomorrow since, from what I've been told from other tutors who have done this before, basically no one ever comes in on Sundays.  Thankfully, the paper is only two pages.

I better get started, though.  This new med plan is definitely doing the trick in helping me sleep longer and more soundly, as well as slowly improving my head pain, so I want to make sure I can get this done tonight.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Thank God for an easy Friday!

For what I think is only the second time in my entire Campbell life, the university canceled afternoon classes because we got a nasty sleet storm and no one needs to be going out in this mess.  Of course, it would've been way cooler if it were snow (especially since it was 23 degrees this morning!), but hey, I'll take it.

This means I literally only had a half week.  Wednesday I didn't go to any of my classes because the intensity of the new med plan knocked me on my butt for a good 24 hours (hooray for understanding professors), and Thursday my only class was canceled because Dr. Steegar had to go to the dentist.  And then I only had a half day today, which turned out to be a major blessing because with the exhaustion that hit from all the new meds, I completely forgot there would've been a paper due in Public Policy today, and only remembered when I read Dr. Mero's email telling us to just bring the papers on Monday.  Whew.  I dodged a bullet on that one, since he doesn't accept late papers at all.

So that meant I got to take a fantastically long nap this afternoon once the afternoon was officially canceled.  It felt awesome.  Also awesome?  I'm feeling more improvement in my head day by day.  :)  I've only taken Ibuprofen once today, which is another good sign of improvement.  I'm still waiting patiently for the day when I can get on here and celebrate that the pain finally broke.  It's coming...I can feel it.

I have had a surprisingly productive evening, as well.  Usually I give myself Friday nights off to just veg, but since I had such a rough week, I couldn't really afford to take tonight off, as well.  I got my French work done for both classes (aside from the stuff I didn't understand and will need Dr. Steegar's help with), I read all the atlas stuff for International Relations, and I got a document typed up that I need to bring to church on Sunday.  All the new members joining the Worship Team need to bring a page saying why they want to serve with the Music Ministry and a little bit about their testimony and walk with Christ.  Well, needless to say, cutting down my testimony to less than a page was quite a feat, but I did it.

I'll probably be holed up in my room all day tomorrow due to the weather and the load of work I have left to do.
International Relations:  Read Chapter 3
World Religions:  Read Chapter 4, Study for Tuesday's make-up test on Chapters 1-3
Public Policy:  Read Chapter 3 in Peters' book and Chapter 2 in Smith's book for Paper 2 due Monday, Read Chapter 4 in Peters and Chapter 3 in Smith for Paper 3 due Friday

I need to have a very productive day tomorrow because Sunday is going to be absolutely nuts with church all morning, then worship practice, then working at the Tutoring Center, though if I'm lucky, no one will show up there so I'll be able to get some work done tomorrow night.  I guess we'll see!  For now, I'm going to bed as soon as I see Josh Bowman's interview on Jimmy Kimmel.  What can I say?  I love me some Revenge. :)

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bigger and Better Plans

Well, uh, looks like my plans for summer have been decided.

I woke up from a nap this afternoon to find an email that said I didn't get the internship through the State Department for this summer.  It was your typical, generic rejection letter, the kind that didn't even personally address it to me, the kind that said "oh, this isn't a reflection on your abilities, there are just too many qualified applicants and not enough space" and blah blah blah.

And yeah, it stings.  But then again, it only happened about 5 hours ago, so that's not exactly time for it to wear off.  And I'm trying not to be bitter or upset about it, but it's hard because I really, really wanted this.

But I also know that God's plans are bigger, better, and smarter than mine.  And I know that having nothing standing in the way of me prepping for the GRE (grad school entrance exam) will give me a much better chance of absolutely killing it and getting into the really awesome and competitive schools that I'm applying to.  And it will give me time to finally complete Driver's Ed and get my license (and maybe a car, if my mom can work out the finances).

Oh and also, this will give me the opportunity to have weight loss surgery.  Yeah, Mom and I decided over Christmas that if I didn't get this internship, I'd have the surgery.  I know, it's a big jump, but I've talked to doctors and done a lot of research, and for some people, when they have their thyroid taken out, no amount of diet and exercise can make up for the fact that their metabolism gets completely destroyed.  Plus, there's the vicious cycle that my body can't handle much exercise with the state that it's in, but I can't deal with the weight issue without exercise.  And I'm doing this for me, because I want to be healthy.  And considering all of the other much more dangerous surgeries I've had, this will feel like a piece of cake in comparison.

And then there's the fact that I've been praying that God would give me an opportunity to really minister to my family.  Immediately after reading the email, I was filled with dread at the idea of spending three and a half months in the house with my mom and Chelsea and Blake with no real escape, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this could be the opportunity I was praying for.  Being there in the thick of it for that long could be my opportunity to really show them Christ through my actions, not my words.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Isaiah 58:8: One Day

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

I know I've talked about this verse before.  It's one of the many verses that Brennan sent me as encouragement when I was in the hospital last April with pancreatitis, but I quite honestly don't even remember what the other ones were.  This one has stayed with me and been something that I've held on to quite a bit over the months since then, especially as I have struggled to deal with my migraines and be patient to see what God had planned for this part of my story.  I mentioned the verse again back in July, before things were far from as bad as they have been in recent weeks, but it's so full of the God-given strength that I need that it's been something I've really held onto as I've pleaded with God to help me not to give up.   Y'all know me - patience has never been one of my strong suits, but by His grace and the friends He put in my life to minister to me, I have, for the most part, managed to keep myself where I need to be mentally to keep pushing forward.

Today, this verse has been on my mind almost constantly because something completely miraculous happened.  After only 24 hours on this new combination of drugs, I can already feel an improvement in my head.  Any improvement at all after so long of being in the same state is a huge blessing from the Lord.  And it made me think of this verse.

"Then your light will break forth like the dawn."  God's mercies are new every morning.  Every time the sun rises, I am faced with another opportunity to be drawn closer to Him, to live the life He asks of me, to run the race He has set before me.  Every day that I am alive is another chance to honor Him and shine His light.

"And your healing will quickly appear."  To most people, months doesn't seem like healing quickly appearing, but in the big picture, I'm 20 years old.  God willing, I have several decades of life ahead of me, so really, the past seven months isn't that long in comparison.

"Then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard."  The Lord is my righteousness.  He goes before me, and He walks behind.  I am surrounded by the One who cannot be defeated.  I am loved and protected by a God who never quits.  I need not be afraid.  He is with me.  He's got me.  He always has, and He always will, because He is just that faithful.

I am so incredibly blessed, that is for sure.  Hopefully one day soon I'll be able to get on this here blog and tell all of you lovely friends that I am pain-free.

"Everything is possible for him who believes."  Mark 9:23 I believe, Lord.  I do believe.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Full of Hope

The new meds came today!  I'm really happy.  I'm praying that this combination will be the right one.  But I know that if God doesn't heal me, He will give me the peace and strength to persevere.  Because of Jesus, I am full of hope.

The good thing about Tuesday?  I only have one class, which means I have a whole free day.  And then I found out that Thursday's class is cancelled which means I actually get to sleep in.  So hooray for that good news.

Then, tonight, I got to have a very long and sweet conversation with Michal on Skype.  I love that girl, and we haven't had a legit chat in ages.  I'm so thankful for the beautiful women in my life who lavish advice and wisdom on me and love me even when I'm an emotional basketcase.

That's all I really have to say about today.  It was a good day.  I am super blessed and thankful to be in such a good mood.

This just because they played it on Sunday at church and it's been on repeat ever since.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

For the billionth time:

My friends are AMAZING.

So.  I forgot that the mail doesn't run on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (boo!), so I ended up going to the post office today in hopes of getting the new medications for my head.  Alas, they weren't there, though they should get there tomorrow.  You know what was there, though?

A postcard!  From my sweet friend, Vivielle, who at this point feels like someone I've met even though I only know her online.  She's in Paris, and knowing how much I love the city, was thoughtful enough to send me a card while she's over there.  It is beautiful, and I am definitely going to treasure it.

Also there?  This.

I don't know what is about me and the universe sending me books lately, but here this was.  Taylor sent it to me.  He said he was cleaning his room and saw and figured he'd rather share it than have it sit on his shelf.  I don't know what I'm gonna do with that boy and his sweet heart, but I definitely broke out in a huge grin when I opened this.  He's the best.  His thoughtfulness for others is just one of the countless reasons that I know I am so blessed to be able to call him one of my best friends.

I went to work at the Tutoring Center again tonight, and since once again, no one came in, I had some time to start reading it after I did my French homework.  It's separated into four "books", and I made it through the first one.  This passage hit me the hardest.

"This is the terrible fix we are in.  If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless.  But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again.  We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it.  God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.  He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies.  Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun.  They need to think again.  They are still only playing with religion.  Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger - according to the way you react to it.  And we have reacted the wrong way."

Yeah.  Taylor warned me ahead of time that it was heavy, but this is just unbelievable.  This is gonna be a good one.  If the rest of the book is this convicting, I'm in for a good one.  But also: since when did I become a reader?!  Crazy things happen.

On to tomorrow.  Keep your fingers crossed that the meds get here so that I can get this new plan started.  I need relief.  This whole feeling of barely being able to open my eyes in the morning is really old.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013


I'm sitting here in the Tutoring Center.  It's 7:17 pm, and I am done at 9:00.  This is pretty much the easiest job ever because I am getting paid to basically sit here and stare at ESPN online live play-by-plays of the San Francisco 49ers/Atlanta Falcons NFL game, the Baltimore Ravens/New England Patriots NFL game, and the NC State/Clemson basketball game.  This is only because not a single person has come in asking for tutoring help, though, which is probably because a) the center just opened today, b) it's not even two weeks into the new semester, and c) it's Sunday.  But still, I'm not complaining.  In fact, I pretty much love that I'll be making $30 tonight for doing in the library what I'd be doing in my room for free.

Anyway, since I'm sitting here with nothing else to do and I stupidly forgot to bring my headphones with me so I can't listen to music, I figured I might as well kill a little bit of the time that is left and get tonight's blog post out of the way.

Sunday.  I love how much I look forward to Sundays now.  Only God could do something like this, but I am legitimately excited to get up on Sunday mornings now because I know it means that I get to go and worship at Theater Church.  I've started setting an alarm for 6:30 am to get up and take my morning medicine so that it can be regular, because apparently doing it at the exact same time every day is important and I get up at the same time every day during the week, but after I woke up to do that this morning, I laid in bed for another hour before I realized I wasn't going to get back to sleep today.  The pain was just that bad.  For a split second, I considered telling Elizabeth I wasn't up to going to church because even opening my eyes seemed like a major feat, but something inside of me knew that the enemy would be rejoicing that he'd won, and well, y'all know me.  I just can't have THAT happen, so I got up anyway.

And man, let me tell you, I am SO glad that I did.  The voices of everyone in that room were on fire for Jesus today, and it was so incredibly uplifting.  Music has always moved, but there is something so differently powerful about singing out in praise and honor of the Lord with a room packed full of fellow believers who are there simply because they love Jesus.  I sang my heart out today, and it felt so good.  And worship practice starts next Sunday after service, with the new worship team set-up with the two services starting the following Sunday, so there's only going to be more of it!  Ah!  I couldn't be more excited.

One of the reasons that I love having an iPhone is that I can take notes on the sermon each week without having to remember to carry a notebook and pen with me.  This is easy for me, and I don't have to worry about anything happening to my notes afterwards!  I'm bad at keeping up with things if I don't have a specific place for them to go, like a class binder or whatnot.  Now, I'm sitting here looking at the notes I took during today's sermon, and I'm again reminded of just how powerful and deep God's Word is, and how thankful I am to have found a pastor like Sean who can bring it like he does.  Not to mention, he's a bit of a Renaissance man; he even joined the worship team for one song today!  Our church is blessed by his leadership, no doubt.

Today was the last week in our series on Hebrews 12, and while there was a lot covered, what spoke to me the most focused on verses 28-29: "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."

Consuming fire.  There's something very deep in that simple two-word phrase, something far beyond the literal.  The song Sean joined the worship team for today was "Consuming Fire" by Third Day.

I'd never heard it before today, but I absolutely love the lyrics, especially in the chorus.  And yes our God, He is a consuming fire, and the flames burn down deep in my soul. Yes, our God, He is a consuming fire. He reaches inside and He melts down this cold heart of stone.  And the realization that that is my life played out in music makes my knees weak.  Some of the people who know me better than almost anyone on earth have commented recently just what it's been like to see my life radically flipped upside down by Jesus, and it's made me reflect on just how far I've come and the fact that I've done so by His grace and that alone.  The power of His love completely melted the hardness that I had built up in my heart.  I'm so thankful that He's moved the way that He has, and I know for sure that I wouldn't have it any other way.

BUT, the way I see it?  I didn't really have any choice in the matter.  His love is so overwhelming and He has moved in such a huge way in  my life in the past year, there was no way that I could ignore Him.  Like the song says, He reached down inside of me.  He changed my heart and, in the process, my entire life.  I'm just sort of along for the ride.  And for once, I'm absolutely, completely okay with that.  It's way better to give the driving over to the only One who knows what's going on, anyway.

Anyone else thankful for the consuming, overwhelming, constantly burning fire that is the Lord's love for us?  I sure am.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Three cheers for energy.

I have had a very productive day today.

Lots of reading done, though I have one more chapter to finish before I'll let myself go to bed.

I had all my laundry done, folded, and put away or on my bed before 8:00.  I don't know that that has ever happened before.

I deleted my second Twitter account in a decision to simplify my life and the fact that I barely ever talk to anyone on there anymore.

And I've just been in a really good mood, better than I've been in in a while, which is always a good thing.

I'm happy that I've gotten a lot of work done today, too, because with church all morning and then my first day of work tomorrow night, I'm not going to have a ton of free time.  And I've given myself breaks so I don't go into overload.  All about balance for me.  Keeps me calm.

Yeah...I don't really have anything else to say.  It's been a good day.  I want to get this chapter done so I can go to bed.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Good things about today:

It didn't take my usual two hours to fall asleep last night, which means I actually got about 6 hours of sleep, which feels like a massive improvement over how my sleeping has been going.

International Relations was a fascinating class today, and every day I get more excited about the field that I am in.

I aced my World Religions quiz.

When I got out of that class, I got the sweetest text message from Kyla, and I was reminded yet again just how blessed I am by the people who have chosen to love me and be in my life.

I only had to wait about ten minutes for my doctor to call me back today, so she could call the pharmacy to fix the fact that they only got two of the three prescriptions yesterday, and I needed the third one.  She got the med called in.

Phonetics was cut in half because Dr. Steegar had a meeting.

Public Policy makes me laugh every day because I love Dr. Mero.

I got to have a lovely chat with Caitie today.  Again - my friends? THE best.  I am so, so blessed.

My mom texted me while I was on the phone with Caitie, and she managed to get out of work in time to get to the post office before the last mail truck went out, so my meds got out today.  That means that I should receive them on Monday, and every single day that is one less day that I have to wait for the possibility of relief is a huge plus in my book.  My mom is awesome - it's exam week at work, so I know she is beyond slammed trying to finish this semester and get ready to start the new one next week, but she still made it a priority to get these in the mail to me today.  Keep your fingers crossed for some divine intervention on this new med plan!

I got to talk to Michal, too, which is always grand.  We rarely get to talk anymore just because we're both so busy, so I'm excited that we made plans for a legit video chat for Tuesday!

And the rest of the night has been spent doing basically nothing productive, aside from a little bit of Phonetics reading and, uh, making the to-do list for the rest of the stuff I have to do this weekend.  I gave myself the night off.  And it felt awesome.

I would actually be in bed right now, but I'm in the middle of something.  The icing on the cake of today is that today is my sweet friend Morgan's 21st birthday, and throughout the day, I have been sending her 21 e-cards on Facebook.  Two examples of these gems:

They make me laugh, and I know they've made her laugh, and it's been a fantastic amusement and distraction today.  But I refuse to send the last one until the very last minute of her birthday, so I'm sitting up until then listening to Taylor Swift.  

It's been a good day.  Here's hoping the rest of the weekend holds up.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Like A Hurricane

Today was frustrating, to say the least.

It started with I was up past 1 am because apparently my body has forgotten how to sleep for more than 4 consecutive hours even if I do get up at 6:30 and stay awake all day.

And then I spent basically all day on and off the phone with my doctor because doubling the dosage on the new medication did absolutely nothing.

Basically, here's the deal.  It's been 72 days of constant pain.  At this point, the only real chance I have of breaking this pain is by going to my neurologist's office for several hours a day every day for a week in order to receive some IV therapy.  She says that's her "next step" for someone in my situation who is not responding to ANYTHING.  But that's not exactly a viable option considering my neurologist is an hour away from me, my mother is 2.5 hours away from me, someone would have to drive me there and back and each therapy session is 3 hours long, I have school, my mother can't take off work because she's finally not on the bad list at work for the first time, and my friends have lives.  If it were just me involved, and Mom's job weren't an issue, I would gladly skip school for a week and go camp out in Raleigh and deal with this because I am that desperate for relief, but it is what it is.  Mom needs to stay in good standing with her administration.  SO.  That's not gonna work.

I am so thankful my sweet doctor is basically the most patient and determined doctor I know, and I know she legit feels awful for me right now, because she spent all afternoon thinking of a new plan.  We're going to do a longer, stronger steroid burst, add back in a lower dose of the old medicine I was on to go along with the new medicine, and add in some special medicine that will hopefully get me sleeping again because that certainly can't be helping matters.  I'm crossing my fingers that I will get these new medicines Monday.

I've been sitting here listening to the Sanctuary livestream (thank you God for your timing, I needed this) and as soon as I started thinking about writing this post, a phrase popped in my head "Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree."  God's faithfulness to me is so evident even throughout all of this, and I am so humbled and thankful.

So yeah, that's why this song is this tonight.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rough Day

I am not a fan of today.

That's all that I have to say.

Here's hoping tomorrow is better.

At the very least, I only have one class, and it's with Ryann, so there you go.

Now, I'm going to go lay in the dark.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Half the battle, sometimes more.

Today was a much better day for me mentally.  I woke up feeling less burdened, actually rather excited to go  to my 8 am French class because I finally got to see Ryann.  Reuniting with my best friend is pretty much the perfect way to start off a day.

Then, I came back and took a nap.  Because the best part about having only one Tuesday/Thursday class and it being first thing in the morning is that I'm left with basically an entire free day on my hands.

Then, I ate lunch.

Then, I did absolutely nothing productive for a few hours.  And it was grand.

Then, I went to a meeting for campus tutors.  Yes, I got a job!  Four hours on Sundays and three hours on Mondays at the Tutoring Center for Algebra and Statistics, plus up to ten hours a week of one-on-one peer tutoring.  It was interesting for a tutorial meeting, and I'm excited to get started.  One, I like helping people, but two, money is good.  It'll be nice not to be quite so strapped for cash.  And tutoring is something I can do.

After I came back and ate dinner, my head reached the point that all I could basically do is take a shower and then sit in the dark.  And now, I'm sitting here watching Pretty Little Liars, then The Lying Game, and then Private Practice, because while I could be doing something productive, I just can't right now.

So yeah, today was good.  And I've been thinking a lot about the post I wrote last night.  I posted a related status on my Facebook, and after a comment from a friend, I sent her the post thinking it might help her.  It's always a very humbling feeling to see a response of "Your words are for me from the Lord."  So I got to tell her a little about why I blog, and in doing so, I told her what I know is true: I write for me as much as I write for anyone else.  This is my release - it always has been - there's something very freeing in being able to sit down and write out whatever is in my head.  There's something about this place that makes me completely unafraid of judgment, despite the fact that I know that anyone in the world can read it.

BUT.  I do truly like sharing what God is teaching me.  Not because I think I have it more figured out than anyone who might read this, despite some very sweet and supportive comments from people who might indicate I know more than I realize, but just because I feel like if I can help people with what they're dealing with by doing something I like doing anyway, then this feels like I'm doing something good with what I have.  And like I said, I like helping people.  Helping people makes me feel good.  It makes me happy.  Maybe that's selfish, but it helps keep my mind in the positive, at least more often.  It sounds a little silly, but it's just part of who I am, I guess.

So that about sums up today.  Physically, I'm still the same, but mentally and emotionally, I feel like I'm closer to where I need to be in order to persevere.  And sometimes, winning the mental part of it all is harder  and bigger than the physical stuff.

Joy is a choice.  And I choose it.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Two Questions

I had a totally accidentally incredibly insightful conversation with Taylor today.  It's always fun when that happens with anyone, but especially so with him when you get two talkers like us together.  The interesting part was that it started out as nothing more than me wanting to tell him the story of how me joining the worship team at church happened, and we ended up, like we often do, talking about Scripture and things.  I got to share my heart about my family (some more), and he gave me some (more! haha) wisdom about facing them with prayers, the fruits of the spirit, and perseverance.  I had no idea how quickly his words would be needed.

About twenty minutes after I got off the phone with him, I got a call from my neurologist.  I had called her earlier in the day because she wanted an update on how this new medicine for my migraines is doing, and she was calling me back.  In short, since I just doubled the dosage yesterday, she said I just need to "give it more time."  That was...frustrating, to say the least.  I do my best to keep my search for joy focused out of this world and on Him and not to let the problems I face here get me down, but to be quite honest, this was really difficult for me to hear.  Tomorrow will be 10 weeks of constantly feeling like I'm on the verge of tears from pain, and I'm tired and frustrated.  Thankfully, God is big enough for me to tell Him that.

This has been near the front of my mind pretty much all day, as I have not had the energy to do much outside of class but sit in the dark and think.  And the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I was looking God in the eyes and He was asking me two very specific and very important questions.

Do you trust Me?

Trust.  It always seems to come back to trust.  Do I trust His plan for me?  Do I trust that He wants the best for me?  Do I trust that He knows what He is doing, even when it doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to me?  His plans and His ways are so much bigger and higher than mine.  I meant what I said when I said that I want whatever He's got planned for me, all of it.  If this is what He wants my life to look like so He can get the glory He deserves out of it, then I have to let go.  As much as it hurts me and frustrates me and honestly scares me at times, as often as I stumble and take steps backward and wonder what's going on or what He's thinking, I know in my heart and soul that I trust that He's taking care of me.  I know that He is still God and He is still good, no matter what physical state I am in. And that's all that matters.

Are you willing to persevere?

Yes, when Taylor and I talked about perseverance earlier in the day, it was in regards to my family and choosing to love them and minister to them no matter how little I want to do so sometimes, the idea is just as applicable to the struggles I deal with on my own.  Am I willing to continue to run the race that He has set before me?  Am I going to completely give up any demands over what I want out of this, to fully surrender to the fact that none of this was ever about me in the first place?  I have the choice to either let the enemy's battle for my spirit and my joy take precedence, or to tell him that I am not his and that my heart has been won by the King that has overcome everything.  My battle has already been won.  I texted Caitie not long after getting off the phone with the doctor because I knew she'd want to know, and she wrote back exactly what I needed to hear, even if I didn't realize it for a little while.  "You can do it.  You can do anything with Christ who gives you strength."   He's fighting for me.  That makes persevering a lot less arduous of a task, if I can just keep that in mind.

I don't know how to end this in a pretty way, so I'm just going to say this:  Tonight, I am indescribably thankful for a God who is big enough to heal me, strong enough to handle my questions, patient enough to let me lament, and attentive enough to send me friends to keep me focused.  I am in desperate need of all of that.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Surrendering All

Ah, Theater Church.  I knew it was going to be good to get back, but I didn't know it was going to turn out like this.

The sermon was powerful, as always.  Sean knows how to preach the Word, that is for sure.  One verse in particular really jumped out at me - Hebrews 12:14.  "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord."  And immediately, I thought of my family.  I thought of how there is no one in this world more difficult for me to live in peace with, especially so when I'm at that house, but what Sean said made me realize that there may also be no one in this world living in peace with whom is more important.  I quite honestly can't think of anyone I know that is more lost and broken than they are, and every time I let my human emotions and my temper get in the way, I lose out on the chance to show them Jesus.  They need to look at me and look at the way that I live and act and see that it is the influence of Christ's overwhelming love that makes me who I am.  I know this is supposed to be the year about releasing myself from burdens and expectations and whatnot, but something has to be different.

What was even more eye-opening was what happened before and after the service.  Before getting into worship, Sean let the cat out of the bag and told the (packed!) room that we will be moving to two services in a few weeks.  (Total God moment:  Sean said that beforehand, he had told God that if He showed up and the room was full, he would step out in faith and make the announcement.  That's what happens when you test God.)  They're also revamping the Small Groups, the preschool ministry, and the worship team.  With two services, they can't have the same set of four guys doing it all simply for wanting them to avoid burning out, so Sean said that after the service, there would be a meeting for anyone interested in joining.

For a couple of months now, I've wanted to get involved, to give back to the church and the Lord that have already given me so much, but I wasn't quite sure how.  Me and a bunch of small children probably is not the best idea.  I had thought before that I'd love to get involved with the music, but the guys seemed to have such a set thing going,  who was I to interrupt?  Well, once all this came out today, I jumped at the chance.

So yeah.  Guess who's joining a worship team.  This girl.  I'm super excited but also a bit nervous, mostly because I haven't performed in any aspect in front of anyone in years, since high school.  I haven't sang in public since I was about 13, when I was a part of the "Teen Worship Band" at my hometown church.  So needless to say, this is a very big step for me.  It's honestly rather mind-blowing.  Only God could take me from a girl who was barely willing to step foot in a church, through a baptism, to going back to church, to now a girl who's going to volunteer to serve at church in the span of less than a year.  And more than that, once I left church, I was so excited about what had just happened that I started texting people to tell them! I  was thinking of The Vespers throughout the meeting because I knew they'd be proud.

This song was one the band did this morning, and it's fitting.  This is just another step in the journey.  God, I surrender my fears, my stage fright, everything that could hold me back.  I'm doing this all for You.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Devils and Deacs, stand in line.

First things first, AHHHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Little old NC State, ranked #20 going into today's game, topped #1 Duke, undefeated this season going into this game, 84-76.  HOW ABOUT THAT WOLFPACK?!  No one who is being honest with themselves could have said they saw that one coming.  I hope this is a sign of good things to come this season for my boys. :)  (Pictured above would be Calvin "CJ" Leslie being lifted in the air at the end of the game after our fans stormed the court.  He later saved a kid knocked out of his wheelchair from being trampled.)

(And yes, I am aware that Wake won, as well.  That's only the title because it's from our fight song! No offense intended, Elizabeth!)

Okay, sorry, had to get that out of the way.  A win that epic and unexpected deserves to be recorded.

In other news, I've had an overall very good day despite the harsh pain.  I've gotten a little bit of homework done, had some great chats with wonderful friends (Kyla, Caitie, Amy), and am now watching the San Francisco 49ers kill it against the Green Bay Packers.  I know, I know.  I've never watched NFL in my life until this season, but Taylor's influence and passion convinced me to check out a 49ers game, and I never looked back.  It's rather addicting.  I'm lucky I'm one of those girls that likes sports.  It'll make finding a husband one day that much easier. ;)

I'm upping the dosage of this new migraine med starting tomorrow night.  I don't even have to ask my doctor's permission because when I got the bottle, the directions flat out said, "Take 1 pill every night at bedtime for 1 week. Then increase to 2 pills every night at bedtime if needed."  And since 1 pill has done nothing thus far, I'd say it's time.  My doc wants me to call her on Monday, anyway, so of course, I'll mention it.  I'm really hoping and praying that this will make a difference because the reading load for my classes is much higher this semester, and that is far more difficult for me to do than write papers when I'm in this kind of pain.

So yeah, despite the pain, it's been a good Saturday.  It's always a nice feeling when I can sit down and write a blog post and the amount of good stuff clearly outnumbers the bad.  I'm going to bed as soon as this game is over.  I'm excited to get back to Theater Church tomorrow!

Okay, I couldn't resist.  Go Pack!

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Sanctuary. Good for the soul.

The Sanctuary livestream was up last night, and oh, I can't even begin to explain how it felt to feel like I was back with that precious community again.  To be able to sing along with hundreds of college kids 550 miles away who are connected to me through the same living God and feel like I was right there in Woodmont Hills Church with them was exactly what I needed last night after a fast but exhausting and painful week.  I never understood until the past year or so what it meant when my friends and people I respect tried to get me to realize the importance of community...Sanctuary was the first place and experience to ever help me understand.

I haven't thought about the night I got baptized as much recently as I used to, which I suppose is only natural as time goes on, but last night, sitting here at my computer, every memory came flooding back to me like new.  It made me remember how I promised Brennan that night that I would never forget how I felt there in that church, and last night, I realized that no matter how much time passes or how increasingly rare my thoughts go back to that night, the feelings and emotions that hit me on April 5th will never be forgotten.

Really, though, how could they?  That was the night my entire life started over.  That was the night when I felt God in me and all around me in a completely new way.  That was the night when I let God break down every wall of fear I'd been fighting to keep up, scared to let myself trust Him again.  That was the night when the best possible thing this side of heaven happened to me.  How could I forget that?

Music has always been very important and spoken very strongly to me, that's no secret.  It doesn't even have to be worship music to really hit my heart . So I don't know what it is that is so special about hearing the Sanctuary band, getting goosebumps listening to sweet Kyla's voice (along with the rest of the band, I just like her in particular :) haha), but that's the only word to describe it all.  It's just special.

Sanctuary, that whole crew there, the band, they are always going to have a very special place in my heart because without even realizing it, God used them to light a spark that set in motion the craziest few months of my life.  The intensity I felt both the night I got baptized and last night is a feeling that I've yet to find anywhere else, and part of me doubts I ever will because of the part Sanctuary played in my pursuit of God.

I am and forever will be grateful for Sanctuary and the band that leads worship wholeheartedly each week.  They are proof that God will use willing hearts to change lives for Him.  I continue to pray that God will give me a way back to Nashville so I can attend Sanctuary again and worship with that community in person.  Lord, let it be.

Oh, and the icing on the cake was hearing the Sanctuary spin on a song I heard for the first time at church.  I've loved this song since I heard it at church, and it's been in my head since last night.  Enjoy. :)

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Saving Relief

Praise the good Lord.

I slept.  A lot.  And it was awesome.

And since my pain overall has not changed, my doctor gave me permission to up my dose of this new migraine med starting on Sunday, so my fingers are crossed that that will change soon.

Today was the last weekday for the foreseeable future that I will not have to wake up at 6:30, so I'm glad that if it was going to happen, it happened today.

I can feel the peace in my heart multiplying every day.  God's faithfulness is so evident to me as of late.  When I feel peace, pain and exhaustion and everything else doesn't seem so important anymore.  I am so thankful for that.

Tomorrow is only a half day because of Drop/Add.  Ryann finally arrives on Sunday.  Two more things to be thankful for.

Right now, I'm crossing my fingers, though, that the Livestream for Sanctuary is up tonight because I could definitely use a night of worship.  There is absolutely something special about that place and that community, and nine months later and I still miss it very, very much.

There is always something beautiful to be found, there is always something to be thankful for.  The encouragement of my wonderful friends helps remind me of that, it helps me find the courage to get up in the morning when the pain is almost debilitating.

I am blessed.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sleepless nights.

I haven't slept more than 4 or 5 hours in one night in a week.

I'm exhausted.

64 days and counting of constant pain.

I'm praying that since I managed to stay awake this afternoon and I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow, that will end tonight.

My plan is that as soon as the dorm meeting is over tonight (starts at 10:00), I'll get a shower, dry my hair, and then crash.

Fingers crossed.

Oh, and the irony of it all is that my doctor told me that this new migraine med was going to make me very, very tired.  Tired, but apparently not sleepy.

Classes were fine.  It's nice to be back.

And that's all I really have to say.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

From one scarred hand to the other.

Late last night, I opened up my email for one last check before bed, and there I found an email from my sweet sister-friend JD with more thoughts on a topic we've discussed in great detail in recent weeks.  That topic is my inability to forgive myself for my mistakes when it's so easy for me to forgive others, but more important, when I know that God has already forgiven me for them.

"If we truly believe that God's forgiveness is as He promises, then not accepting/receiving/believing it is a sign of something deeper getting between us and God, worth digging into because it's damaging and will tear away at the fabric of your relationship with Him.  What could you possibly not forgive yourself for that God isn't bigger than?...Why can't YOU forgive yourself if He can forgive you?  Do you want Him to use the same measure with you as you use for forgiving yourself?  Why can't you forgive yourself?  Is that not saying that your God is no match for your sins?  Let them go..."

One of the countless number of reasons that I love and admire this woman is her wisdom, as well as her ability to word it all in such a way that totally gets through to me.  Every time.  Without fail.  There was one line in particular that hit me hard.  "Is that not saying that your God is no match for your sins?"  And with that, I realized that that was exactly what I had been doing.  I had been telling God that my sins are bigger than He is.

Ouch.  I'm so thankful that JD is one of the few people in my life who will always speak the truth to me, even if it hurts to hear.  I need that.

I hardly knew how to respond, but after a few minutes, all I could come up with is that this is one of the reasons that "release" is my word for the year.  I'm releasing myself from the inability to see God's grace over my missteps that, in my head, are just "too big".  I should've realized this before now.  I have "The Gospel is BIGGER" taped to my wall from a conversation with Taylor.  There is no sin that I can commit that God isn't bigger than.

To help, because she knows how strongly music speaks to me, she sent me "East to West" by Casting Crowns, a song I've never heard before.  And wow, it could not have been more perfect for the situation.  (JD's good like that.)  Take a look at this video of the song with lyrics and you'll see.

'cause You know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other...That line right there made it all make perfect sense.  Jesus died so that I could be forgiven.  Not accepting that forgiveness is dishonoring him so greatly it truly hurts me to think about the disservice I've done him.  I pray that this is the year that all of this changes.

And as a bonus, she directed me to look up Casting Crowns' "The Altar and the Door" on YouTube.  She said it reminded her of Chris telling me to just stop trying, and yep, that couldn't have been more fitting, either.  In fact the lyrics actually say Jesus, I'm trying so hard to stop trying so hard, just let You be who You are, Lord, who You are in me.

God is moving and working in my heart in a major way.  I can feel it.

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Monday, January 7, 2013


I didn't get out of my pajamas today.  It was awesome.

Okay, so here's what my schedule for the semester looks like, which I only now know because I just got the times for my two French classes nailed down this morning.

8:00-8:50 International Relations with Dr. Thornton
9:00-9:50 World Religions with Dr. Lopez (whom I had for Intro to Christianity and really liked!)
2:00-2:50 Phonetics & Pronunciation with Dr. Steegar
3:00-3:50 Public Policy with Dr. Mero

8:00-9:20 Advanced French Grammar with Dr. Steegar (my last class with Ryann! *tear*)

A very off-balance schedule, but hey, I'm really excited.  The good news is that while classes technically start tomorrow, we can't start Grammar until next week, which means I have no classes.  That means I didn't have to go to the bookstore today and could put it off until tomorrow.  Hence the pajamas.  It was awesome.

I'm getting my binders together tonight and whatnot, though, because I like to be prepared.  Plus, it makes me excited.

Tomorrow I will be getting up at a semi-reasonable hour to prepare myself for the 6:30 am daily wakeups that start on Wednesday.  I'll go to the bookstore and start making phone calls because I will hopefully be getting an on-campus job this semester.  15 credit hours will leave me with time to kill; plus, I'd like the extra money.

Here we go!

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Sunday, January 6, 2013


Okay, so apparently my head and its accompanying migraine has reached the point where even sleep is impossible, so I woke up at 6:30 for no reason whatsoever other than my body has a sick sense of humor.  My last day of Christmas vacation and I wake up at 6:30?  NOT COOL.

So I laid there.  And laid there.  And then the stress hit.  Usual pre-semester jitters, no doubt, but count in the fact that I am now at 61 days of constant pain (it's easy for me to keep a count because I remember the last day my head didn't hurt was Election Day) and I haven't slept well in days, and I was legitimately in panic mode there for a bit, wondering how I was going to make it through this semester when my head just seems to be getting worse.

So I prayed.  I prayed for peace.  I prayed for help.  I prayed for strength.  And then I texted some friends hoping that at least they would see the text when they woke up.  (At this point, it was still before 8 am my time and pretty much everyone I texted lives in Nashville.)  And then laying there got old, so I tried to distract myself with music.  Music always helps.

While I was getting ready and eating breakfast and finishing packing up everything, I got some replies.  My friends are awesome.  They're so good at reality checks when I need them.  God is just beyond faithful and wonderful.

Mommom arrived just after 11:00.  We packed up the car and hit the road.  We got to Campbell around 1:30, unloaded, and she left.

I immediately got to work unpacking for fear that if I sat down I wouldn't find the energy to get up again.  Plus, I wanted to get my room back in order.  And as I was doing so, a whole new sense of excitement came over me.  I was just so happy to be back.  This is my home, at least for now.

Since I finished unpacking so early, I sat down and watched the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables on YouTube.  Why not?  I'm a bit in love with the music, and I had nothing else to do.

And then I took a shower and did some random stuff until Revenge came on, and can I just say hallelujah for the return of television! I hate the Christmas break of TV. :)

Now, my sheets are in the wash, so I can't go to bed for a while.  Good thing I don't have anything to do tomorrow.

Another semester is about to begin.  I am back where I belong.  I am home.  And at least for right now, I couldn't be happier.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lessons Learned

My nephew is one of the most resourceful kids I know.  He will find a way to do or get what he wants no matter what you do to try and stop him.

My family will get along if there is good, home-cooked food in front of them.

I'd rather be exhausted from being so busy at school than bored anywhere else.

Look before I lean to grab something out of the car, otherwise I will slam my head into the car so hard that I bruise my scalp.

I need to stick to pre-sliced bread, as evidenced by the lovely gashes on my thumb from trying to cut a bagel.

There is actually a thing as too much sleep.

Waking up at 5:30 is worth it if I can make my mom's workload lighter.

Girlfriends really do help keep me sane, even when they're not physically with me.

God uses people to speak to me, both my friends and complete strangers.

Reading can actually be...*gasp* FUN!

A period of time that has passed can feel both extremely long and blink-of-an-eye short at the same time.

I am far more like my mom and grandma than I care to admit sometimes.

Nothing makes my heart melt quite like a tackle hug from Blake man.

Old habits die hard.

But really, the biggest lesson I learned during this Christmas break is that this place is not my home anymore. For the first time, the entire time I've been here, I've felt like I was just visiting.  Campbell is my home, at least for now.  I was struggling for a bit feeling like I was abandoning my mom, but a friend made me realize that this is just a part of life.  I'm getting to the point where I have to take care of myself more than I'm used to doing so because my future depends on it.  I have my own life now, outside of this family, outside of this house, outside of this town, and that's not something to feel guilty about or apologize for.

And that's what I've learned during this Christmas vacation.

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Friday, January 4, 2013


"For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." Philippians 1:19

I got to talk to Taylor today for almost an hour, and it was lovely (as it always is).  During the conversation, I was talking about my migraines and how I know that God can make something beautiful out of all of this.  In response, Taylor mentioned Paul writing letters to churches from prison and how he found it to be a joy to suffer in the name of the Lord, and that it reminded him of me and my perspective.  After the conversation, I texted him and asked him if he knew what the specific passages were, or at least what book they were in, so I could read them myself, and he wrote back with Philippians 1:21-30 and Colossians 1:24-29.

As soon as I opened my Bible to Philippians, I looked down and the verse above practically jumped off the page at me.  My eyes were drawn to it, and all I could think after I read it was "YES. THAT."  That was exactly the verse that could apply to my life right now.

Prayer.  Prayer is a huge part of what is getting me through..  My prayers, but also the prayers of my dear friends who I know go to the Lord for me.  I feel them every day, as I get out of bed, as I push through my day.  They are such a gift.

The help of Jesus.  That is the only reason I can do what I do.  None of this is me or my doing.  Not one second or microscopic little piece of it is because of me.  If I were left on my own, I'd be a recluse.

And deliverance.  I like that word.  You don't see it too much nowadays, but it is such a great word.  God is going to deliver me from the pain I live with.  It reminds me of the Lord's Prayer, "deliver us from evil."

I think a big part of letting this be the year in which God sets me free is accepting that at this point, my health is out of my hands.  It's a good thing that His ways are so much higher than mine.  Like I said yesterday, God made the most beautiful thing out of Jesus's horrible and painful death, and Jesus was the perfect Son of God.  So I know that He can and will make something beautiful out of this.  He's redeemed so many of my other issues, so I know all too well that He is capable of far more than I could ever ask or imagine.  So I'm giving this to him, completely, all the way.

We all have something we need Him to fix for us.  The good news is that He will always deliver.  I know He will because He is God and He is always faithful.  It'll probably be frustrating because it's all on His time and not ours, but all that matters is that He is faithful and will come through when He knows it is the right time.  We just have to let go and give it to him 100%.

Believing for healing...

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Thursday, January 3, 2013


So since I went to the neurologist on Monday and she's switching my migraine med, she's got me tapering off the old med before I start the new one to, ya know, avoid OD'ing or something.

I had no idea that my migraine med was still actually doing any good, but turns out that it was, because Tuesday I woke up with a much more intense headache.

Two days later, and the pain is still the same.

But you know what?  So is Jesus.  My Jesus is still the same.  And I realized yesterday that God let Jesus suffer a horrible and painful death on the cross, and Jesus was perfect.  The most beautiful thing came out of that, so I know that He can make something beautiful out of the physical pain that I suffer.

And that's all I really need to know.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One Word: 2013

The old me would've said that picking one word to focus on for a year is stupid and pointless and not going to change anything.

The old me would've also had a very hard time picking just one word.  (Three cheers for indecisiveness!)

But then that me decided to do it, anyway, a couple of years ago basically because I was desperate for help from God and this was as good of an idea as any that I had, and my whole world got flipped upside down.  My mind was completely blown at the end of 2011 and 2012 as I looked back and realized that the word I had chosen for that year actually reflected the year's events.

My word for 2011 was peace, and my end of the year recap describes pretty well just how that changed my perspective and my life.  In complete (and totally unintentional) contrast to that, my word for 2012 was warrior, and with my baptism and the evidence on this blog of how much I grew in my faith during that year, I'd say that was just as effective as peace was.

So with that knowledge in mind, of course I wasn't going to miss out on the chance to see what one word could do for 2013.  However, to be quite honest, I completely forgot about it until New Year's Eve, and I spent the next 24 hours wondering what my word would be.  Then, I sat down and wrote last night's blog post, and this line came out:

"God, whatever You've got planned for me, I want it.  All of it.  The good and the bad, because You make beauty out of all of it."

I didn't start out writing that post expecting to say that, but I've learned that sometimes the best things are the ones you just stumble upon.  And with that line, I finally realized that I am to the point where I am ready and willing to do something that God has been trying to get me to do for pretty much my entire life.  I am letting go.

I'm releasing all of the stress, fear, burdens, everything that God wants to take from me that I've been too scared to let go of.  I know He is ultimately in control, so it's long past time I put myself second and let Him work without interference.  He's got me, I know that much.

I'm releasing myself from the problems of this world that seek to tie me down and keep me from living my life.  This world is not my home.  The people I love, even the ones who have hurt me, still matter, but they are not everything to me anymore.  They are not where my security or my self-worth lies.  I know where my home is and where my heart lies; all of this is just biding time until I get there.

I'm releasing myself from expectations, the ones I've put on myself as well as the ones others have put on me,  on being a Christian, a daughter, a sister, a friend, all of it.  All that matters to me now, or at least all that I want to matter to me, is the knowledge that God knows my heart and knows that I'm doing my best.  It reminds me of when Chris told me to just stop trying. 

I'm releasing the grip I've had on the people that I love and was scared absolutely terrified to lose, people like my best friend Ryann who is moving back to California as soon as she graduates in May, because none of them were mine to keep in the first place.

Figure it out yet?  My word for 2013 is:

I can't wait to see what God is going to do with me this year.  I hope you'll stick around for the ride, because I just know it's going to be worth it.  I'm excited to have another year to document what I'm learning about God and about pursuing a relationship with Christ here on this blog.

Here we go, God.  I'm ready.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Part of me thinks New Year's is overrated.

But part of me looks back at how epic 2012 was and finds the excitement in anticipating what a new year can bring.

It seems like every time I tell God, "I don't know how you could top this," God shows me exactly how by doing something only He could pull off.  So this time, I'm not even going to try.

God, whatever You've got planned for me, I want it.  All of it.  The good and the bad, because You make beauty out of all of it.

Writing that just made me think of what my One Word for 2013 will be...God is good like that. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post. ;)

I've got my new medications from my neurologist.  There's 5 days until I get back home to Campbell.  Onwards and upwards!

(These?  Are just because.  Seeing my best friend was the perfect pick-me-up after a disappointing appointment with my neurologist.)

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