Thursday, February 28, 2013

Boxed in no longer.

It's past midnight and I still have to pack before I can go to bed, but I have to talk about tonight because something simple really happened but it was just beautiful and reminded me of questions I was asking a couple of my friends a few days ago.

So first off, I'm going back to the neurologist on Monday afternoon.  They asked to see me in person (since up until now we've been doing everything by phone), and since my Spring Break is next week, my grandma agreed to take me up there.  Monday afternoon was the only appointment they had open on this short of notice.

Second, obviously, anytime I go to Raleigh, I try and see Matt if it's possible because we only get to see each other a handful of times a year now, and it sucks and I miss him but that's life and we're growing up.  So I texted him to see what time he'd have to be at work, and turns out he actually won't even be in town that day.

And for some reason, this set me off.  I got...snappy with him, and Matt, in typical Matt fashion, didn't get angry, and instead was just sort of like, "What the heck?"  Because it's totally not his fault he already had plans.  And then I called him to tell him I wasn't trying to pick a fight with him (because I really wasn't, I had no idea why I reacted like that), and he started talking and told me he wasn't mad and then I started talking explaining what was up and why I freaked out for a second...

And then I lost it.  Completely and utterly lost it.  I started bawling before I made it through two sentences.  I sobbed my way through telling him the latest update on my pain and the fact that doctors just don't know what to do, and how scared and tired and frustrated I am and so many other things I'm feeling.

Then the realization hit me.  This was the first time I'd cried since before the IV therapy started, when my doctor said "This is basically our last resort."  I used to be the girl that cried over just about everything, but as I've gotten older, I've cried less and less often.  I tried so hard to convince myself I was okay with what was going on by sheer willpower that I ended up taking all the emotions I was feeling, shoving them in a little box and putting them in the corner while saying "I'll deal with you later."

Except I never dealt with them.  The treatment didn't work, but I was determined not to let that get me down.  I heard my mom more depressed than ever, and I wanted to be strong for her.  I had so many concerned friends checking on me that I felt the love of the Lord touch me in real, almost tangible ways that I distracted myself from everything that was going on inside of me.  I wanted so desperately to focus on all the blessings that were right in front of me, that I convinced myself being sad or scared or not okay with what was happening would be wrong.

I don't know what about tonight broke open that sealed box of emotions, but I am honestly glad it happened.  I find something incredibly freeing in tears.  And without even intending to, I sat on the phone with my absolute best friend in the world...and I just cried.  I cried for the pain.  I cried for the unknown.  I cried for the fear.  I cried for all the doubts I ever had.  I cried for all the times people called me an inspiration when I feel so far from that.  I cried for all that Jesus gave up for me so that I wouldn't have to be afraid anymore.  Then I stopped crying and felt like I could breathe ten times easier.

A few days ago, I asked Caitie if it was "okay" to feel the things I was feeling, things that screamed pretty much the exact opposite of "trusting in God".  I asked her if it was okay that I was sad about what is going and she replied, "Absolutely.  Jesus wept."

Jesus wept.

John 11:35.  The shortest verse in the Bible.  Jesus had tears.  He understood God's plan perfectly, yet he still wept.  John 11:35 says "Jesus wept" at the news of Lazarus's death.  He cried out to God while he was being crucified.  If it's okay for Jesus to cry, and God sees me as His child and Jesus as both perfect and equal, then it must be okay for me to cry, too, right?

My tears do not change the fact that, down to my core, I trust that God is taking care of this story and that I am not alone.  My tears just mean that I am human, that I have emotions and reactions because I can't understand everything from my minimal, self-centered perspective. I trust Him.  But I needed to release this.  I needed to let these emotions out of the neat little box I'd crammed them into for far too long.

And because I did, I feel free.  (This is my One Word in action, people.)

And can I just say this:  Matt is wonderful, my best friend and big brother and a person I can't imagine going through this life without because even though we are so different, we've been through so much together that we understand each other like no one else can.  But I especially love that God used Matt, a non-believer, to be such a shining example of unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness in my life.  I love that He used a conversation with Matt to get me to break down tonight.

Also, to end tonight on a lighter note, this is the quote of the night, from my hour and 15 minute conversation with my crazy best friend..
Me: "You are so bizarre, but it's okay, because I'm my own special kind of bizarre."
Matt: "Everybody has their own special kind of bizarre.  We just happen to have a little bit more than everyone else."
Yep.  That about sums it up.  My best friend, ladies and gentlemen.

August 7, 2008

May 25, 2009

December 21, 2010

December 25, 2011

May 29, 2012

September 9, 2012

December 31, 2012

I can't wait to see him again so I can get a 2013 picture.  At the very latest, it will be on my birthday. :)

"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones.  And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.  God is awake." ~ Victor Hugo

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Walk upon the waters.

Ah, Wednesdays.  I love Wednesday.  Not because it's the one day that I don't have any tutoring sessions (though that is a nice bonus), but because it's Small Group night.  And I actually have a reliable ride now, so I don't have to miss more than I attend like was happening before.  The attendees vary week to week, but man oh man, I love this group.  I adore Kevin and Amy, the couple that are gracious enough to host it at their home.  Every meeting that I attend, I leave feeling rejuvenated, happy, at peace, and so unbelievably aware of how blessed I am that God led me to this church, this family.  When Kevin has led the group in prayer for various requests, and he prays for me and this chronic pain, I can almost physically feel God using this group of sweet brothers and sisters in Christ to pour His love on me.  It's the same kind of feeling I had when I got baptized, except this time the people actually know me.  It is simply beautiful.

Tonight's study went along with Sunday's sermon on regeneration.  One of the passages we looked at was Ephesians 2:1-10, and there's a simple two word phrase that has been stuck in my head since I walked out Kevin and Amy's door three and a half hours ago.

But God.

In Ephesians, the phrase refers to how we were dead in our sin, but God brought us to life because of His mercy and grace.  That passage was a great example of what regeneration is.

I keep thinking about how that phrase applies to my life, especially my current situation.  You may be wondering why I didn't really write anything yesterday, as that is so rare for me.  Well, I was having a really hard day because I had another talk with my neurologist that, in short, told me she has no idea what to do.  She's out of ideas or options, and made it sound like there's just no hope.  And when I posted yesterday's post with those two videos, I was still trying to wrap my head around it and find peace in it and with it.  I was doing better emotionally by the time I got in bed last night, and even better this morning.  Tonight, however, was a HUGE help, and a lot of it has to do with those two simple words, but God.

When I was growing up, I was told either directly or indirectly from all possible directions that I didn't deserve love, and I believed it for far too long.  But God saw me and loved me before I even knew that He was there.

I told God I wasn't going to be His, but God chased me down.

I told God I couldn't trust a church again after what happened in my hometown, but God broke down that wall.

My doctor has no idea what to do, but God has a plan.

My mother says this situation seems hopeless, but God says that in Him, there is always hope.

There are days when this pain makes me want to skip all of my responsibilities and stay in bed all day, but God gives me strength to get up.

The world tells me that I have every reason to be scared and not trust God, but God says that perfect love casts out fear.

My doctor says I may just not be able to be healed of this pain, but God says that He is bigger than a doctor's opinion, and anything is possible for him who believes.  I believe.

It doesn't matter if every doctor in the country tells me that they can't take away this chronic pain.  If I have God, I have hope.  There is always hope.

Possibly the most eye-opening and touching part of the night for me was a part of Kevin's prayer for me at the end of the night.  He asked that God would use me in this situation, in my brokenness and pain, to tell others of His glory and show people His love.  I had never mentioned to Kevin or anyone in the group that that was the same prayer I had.  And I received a very sweet text from Kyla late last night that said in part, "He's already used you in so many ways and he's not done yet."  He's not done yet.

She also sent me this new song from Hillsong United called "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" that immediately felt like my anthem, one piece of the lyrics in particular.

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

There's a lot of unknowns in what I'm dealing with.  You called me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery. In oceans deep, my faith will stand.

And with this song, I saw that Jesus is asking me to step out on the water with Him, even though it doesn't make sense, simply because I trust Him.  I trust Jesus to walk with me.  He already knows the ending to this part of my story.  Just like I wrote days ago, storms don't last forever, even when they feel like they're going to.  I pray that I come out on the other side of this trial with stronger faith in the One who is carrying me through.  Because if I were on my own, I would have given up long ago.

But God is saving me.  He's saving me from the despair and depression that can come with chronic pain.  I feel Him more and more every day.  I feel Him wrap His arms around me more tightly with each day, even especially when I have my moments of questioning Him.

I've said many times that giving your life to God isn't always going to be pretty or easy, but it will always be worth it.  Well, this is my chance to live it out.  This isn't pretty or easy, but I want to go wherever He wants me to if it means I am closer to Him, even if it's something this painful.  Trust without borders is the only way to make it through.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No words, just music.


The universal language.

The one thing that almost never bothers my pain.

When I don't have words, I always have music.

I don't have words tonight.

And these songs are two that have been on repeat almost constantly the past few days.

My Jesus is still the same.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Disciple and be discipled.

I'm a planner.  Spontaneity tends to make my heart race and my palms sweat.  I like knowing exactly what is going to happen and when it is going to happen.

I also like to learn and prepare for things.  I like knowing as much as I possibly can about what I need to do because the perfectionist in me wants to do it as well as I possibly can.   And believe it or not, I don't often feel comfortable talking about a subject unless I feel like I know "enough" about it.  (But really, what is enough?)

And like most people, one of my personality traits tends to affect all areas of my life, so it shouldn't be surprising for me to say that this "I want to feel like I know what I'm talking about before I talk" feeling affects my spiritual life, as well.

Trust me, this rambling has a point.

I spent an hour on the phone with Taylor today.  It seems that my deepest writings always spring out of conversations with him, but hey, I think that's just part of the beauty of our friendship.  It's a safe place for the both of us to talk about God and our faith and our walks with Christ, and the freedom I feel whenever I talk to him is a blessing I don't take for granted.  I pray that every Christian has a friendship like this; we just instinctively get each other and where we are spiritually.

It started out that he was basically calling to check on me, but as a nice change from how the majority of our conversations go (haha), I ended up spending a good deal of time listening to things going on in his life.  He wanted my opinion on a specific situation he's dealing with, and before I spoke, I caught myself saying, "I'm not really sure what to say because I don't have any experience in this, but..."  After I told him my perspective on the situation, that statement I started out with led to a discussion on discipleship and qualifications.

One of the (many) things I've never doubted in my friendship with Taylor is how much he values my opinion and perspective.  I know that every time we speak, he truly cares about what I think and takes my words to heart.  He saw wisdom in me when I didn't see it in myself, and more importantly, he has played a huge role in helping me find the self-confidence that God has wanted me to have for so long.  Sometimes I get up in the comparison of it all, and I look at him or someone else and think that they're such "stronger" Christians than I am that I'm out of place trying to give them advice.

Here's the lesson I learned today, thanks to God speaking through Taylor:  God uses us, all of us, to help each other through this life.  One of Taylor's catch phrases of sorts is "Disciple and be discipled."  Discipleship is one job, the only job, that doesn't have a list of qualifications as requirements so you can "get the job."  Taylor and I are equals; I teach him, and he teaches me.  I can't wait to be good enough or knowledgeable enough before I help people, because I'm never going to get this just right.  As Taylor put it, "You have Scripture to back you up.  That's all that matters."  Talking it out reminded me of how I shared my story with Bruno the day I met the band, and how I learned from Callie eight months later the impact it had on all of them when Bruno talked about it in the van.  I was just beginning to ponder the idea of coming back to my faith at that point; if God could use me then to teach a lesson to people I saw from the beginning as spiritual "role models", who am I to say He can't use me now?

During the conversation, Taylor mentioned this passage:

The Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Jesus knew he couldn't save the entire world in His time on earth, so he turned to his disciples.  He didn't tell them, "Study the best possible way to reach people, then go tell them about me."  He didn't say, "I'm not sure if you can do this."  He didn't say, "You don't have the right skills, or enough skills, but you're the ones who have been with me, so I guess you'll do."  Instead, his command was very simple.  Go.

Go.  Right now.  Teach others what I have taught you.  I will give you the words you need.

This is such a testament to the unconditional love God holds for each of us.  He uses us in our brokenness and confusion and struggles and doubts to teach and help people, and usually without even realizing we're doing it.  That's how powerful He is.  Because, really, none of this was ever supposed to be about our capabilities, anyway.  It's about what He can do through us, and that, my friends, is anything.  Absolutely anything.

Don't let the fear of being out of line or wrong stop you from helping if you think you can.  With Scripture in your heart and Jesus in your mind and at your side, you can't go wrong.  Be a disciple to anyone and everyone, and that will give you the opportunity for other people to be a disciple to you.  Both are equally and vitally important.

Trust me, the idea of it used to terrify me, too, but there's something about seeing strangers visibly moved by what you have to say and hearing one of your best friends say, "The Lord was using you to speak to me," that makes you not afraid anymore.

When all else fails or the nerves seem too much, remember Philippians 4:13.  You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Different Kind of Miracle

I woke up in pain again today.  Almost like yesterday had never happened.  And it's not cool.  But you know what?

God is still awesome.

I am still blessed.

Early this morning, I decided that instead of focusing on the pain, I was going to focus on the fact that I was heading to worship with my sweet Theater Church family.  I serve an amazing God, and I got to go sing my heart out praising Him.  And tonight, I am SO glad I didn't let the devil win because this service spoke to me in ways I didn't expect (considering the theme), and I certainly don't think Pastor Sean or the worship team could've expected it.

Two songs really jumped out at me.  The first:  "Your Love Never Fails".  This song is important because a) it's one of the many songs I heard for the first time the night of my baptism, but mostly b) because all I could think as I cried out to Him with my head pounding and eyes throbbing was that His love never fails.  There are no corollaries.  His love is always enough.  His love has gotten me through the past few months, the past 20 years, it will get me through whatever is headed my way in the future.  I may doubt Him in moments of weakness, but in my heart, I know full well that He has saved me from so much, I have no reason to believe He won't save me from this and EVERY reason to believe that He will.  If I have Him, I have everything that I need to face the trials of this world.

The second was a Jeremy Camp song, "Revive Me."  I'd never heard of it before today, but I immediately saw how much I could relate to it.  I mean, the first three words are consider my affliction.  As I sang that song, I felt myself begging God to revive me.  But as those words poured from my mouth, I realized all over again that I wasn't necessarily asking Him to heal me and take away my pain.  Would I love it if He did?  Absolutely.  But I know that His plans are greater than mine, and if this is part of His plan for me, I want Him to revive me to the point that I can say "God is still good in the midst of my pain" with a smile on my face and the joy and peace that pass all understanding my heart.  I long to be the woman who faces trouble and says "Kai nyn.  I trust You even now."  And most of the time, I do, but I have doubts and fears and struggles, just like everyone else.

Then, there was Pastor Sean's sermon, and this was the part that really surprised me because, on the surface, one would not expect a message about regeneration and new birth to speak to me in my pain.  He spoke of John 3:8, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."  I never understood the analogy in this verse until today.  If I remember correctly from what Pastor Sean said, in old translations, wind is translated to breath.  Thus, this verse is referring to how the breath of the Lord fills those who have been reborn in the Spirit.  People don't know why or how it happened, they just recognize it did.  It reminded me of the night I got baptized and how so many people were asking how I felt and there just weren't words for it.  It reminded me of just how real God felt that night, how I felt His presence in a way I never had before.  I need the feeling I had that night, one of His arms wrapped around me, to make it through the broken, sinful world that I live in with pain and heartache so common.

Tonight, I've been watching a livestream of a Nashville event called "Galentines" that I had signed up for to watch on Valentine's Day, but ended up working instead so I missed.  The singer Mandisa and some of her friends put together a special event for single ladies to come together and reach out to Jesus in their singleness.  I could get into the countless reasons why this event moved me so greatly tonight, but that's a post for itself, so instead, I'll just tell you what hit me the hardest.  In John 11:28, Martha said to Mary, "The Teacher is here, and He is asking for you."  Kelly Minter, the speaker on stage at the time who referenced that verse, looked straight at the camera and said, "He is here.  And He is asking for You."  I felt God speak with that, "I see you."  He wants me.  Right now.  For a girl with a constant fear of being invisible, those three little words mean so much.

Lastly, I just got off the phone with Brennan, and he reminded me of all of this once again, another reminder that God sees me today and every day.  Having someone say directly to me, "Your hope is in Him.  Not this world." was just the smack in the face I needed.  It doesn't matter if the doctors are telling me there are no other options, it doesn't matter if my mother asks me why I'm still a Christian when I have "so many reasons not to be", all that matters is that His Word never changes, and He is always faithful.  Brennan reminded me that having fears and doubts and struggles doesn't mean I'm not a Christian, it just means I'm human, and the important thing is that I allow Him to lift me out of that dark place.  I'm so thankful that God has taken a guy I met in the most random way, who baptized me, and almost eleven months later still uses that special bond to bring me closer to Him.  That conversation was the perfect cap on a day filled with obvious reminders of exactly how God is laying with me in my pain.  I am so thankful that I have friends who don't judge my weak moments and instead are there to push me back toward Christ.  As my sweet sister-friend Caitie said, this is church!

As I sit here trying to figure out a way to wrap up this post, all I can think is that today is a miracle, too.  It's a completely different kind of miracle compared to yesterday, but a miracle nonetheless.  Today is a miracle because God's breath gave me strength to make it through another day.  Because I had another opportunity to tell people how great He really is.  Because I am alive.  Because He has changed me to the point that I search for Him in the brokenness of this world.  (A lot of people who know me now never knew the old me, but I'm here to tell you the fact that I even want to get closer to Him is a huge sign of His power to transform.)  Today is a miracle because I have been reminded that my hope lies in Him and Him alone, and because of that, I can go to bed with a smile on my face.

Every day is a miracle when I serve a God this awesome.  I don't know what He's going to do with this part of my story, but I'm up for anything, and I know that whatever it is, it's going to be grand.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013


Wow.  Today.  At some points, I quite honestly wondered if I'd be able to sit down and write the post I'm writing right now, because the days seemed so long and the rut I'd found myself in seemed impossible to get out of and all the doctors were saying they didn't know what else to do if this "one last chance" didn't work and it'd been so long that I'd forgotten what it felt like to not feel like my head was on the verge of exploding and someone was stabbing me in the eyes my every waking moment.

But you know what?  God knew today would come.  God knew exactly what it'd take to get me to right here.  God knew the doctors I needed to see, the help I needed to get, the sacrifices that had to be made.  He let me doubt Him and question where He was and have my days where I just felt down and out sorry for myself, all because He knew what was coming and the realizations that would hit me once today was finally here.

I have two words for you.


I know.  I KNOW.  109 days later and the pain finally broke.  It took me five full minutes after I woke up this morning to think, "This is what not being in pain feels like!"  And then I proceeded to call my mom and text every person I knew who has held me up and prayed for me over the past several months, who reminded me of God's faithfulness when I lost sight of who He is, who had been waiting anxiously with me for the day when I could tell them God gave me another miracle.

One thing is absolutely certain, this was one of the greatest lessons in patience I've ever experienced.  There were so many nights when I laid in bed begging God to help me.  I wondered why He could let me suffer and not even give me a little relief.  There were more of those nights than anyone really knows, because I guess part of me didn't want anyone, not even my closest friends, to know how badly I was struggling.  Maybe part of me is still that girl who thinks she has to have it "all together".  I also didn't tell anyone about most of it because I knew what the responses would be.  They'd be the same things I'd been reminding myself time and time again, trying to make myself let go of the fear that I was alone out of sheer willpower.  Don't get me wrong, I had a lot more good, trusting-in-God days than I did bad, but the bad ones were....well, just that.  Really bad.

Now, here I am, (hopefully) on the other side, and I'm praying that this lesson sticks with me.  That I don't forget these 109 days of waiting for help when I go home to my family again, a situation I've been waiting on a miracle for for more than 13 years.  I pray that God uses this to further my growth in Him and to transform me away from that scared little girl who trusted nothing and no one, and into the woman who praises His glorious name no matter what circumstances I face.  I pray that no matter what state my body and health is in from here on out, that I never forget this time of waiting and the reminder that His timing is so much greater than mine.  I pray that He gives me a way to use this part of my testimony to help someone else, someone else out there who faces chronic pain and feels like they're drowning in it.  I want Him to use this, just like He's used so many other pieces of me that felt irredeemable for so long.  Nothing is beyond redemption with the Lord.

I don't know what else to say.  Thank You, Lord.  Thank You for the answered prayers of me and so many who love me.  Thank You for the lesson in patience.  Thank You for laying with me in my darkest moments, even when I questioned Your presence and got angry.  Thank You for the reminder that I do not know You are good because of life's circumstances, but that I know You are good despite them. Thank You for being strong enough to take on all of this, heal me, and still have Your love for me never change.

Thank You, Lord.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Ain't no rest for the weary.

I don't know if I'm crazy, dedicated, or maybe a little bit of both.

I was under strict orders not to do basically anything for a couple days after the treatment, because when all the blood vessels in your body have medicine injected into them for 3 days in a row that constrict them, turns out physical strain can be dangerous.

So instead of doing anything physically tough, I've put my still-somewhat-recovering brain to work and started chipping away at this ridiculous to-do list I had from almost an entire week of school.

It's been a productive day, so yay for that, but man am I tired now.  Which is funny since I did take an almost two hour nap earlier, and it's not like I have any painkillers or anything to make me tired.  Guess that goes to show you how weak this treatment has made me.  Then again, I did read several chapters for both World Religions and Public Policy, wake up early to talk to my World Religions professor about when I could take a couple vocab quizzes I missed and the test that's happening Monday that I won't be ready for, completed the necessary French Phonetics assignments, finished the Chapter 4 work for Advanced Grammar, and copied the notes from Public Policy that I missed. That's a lot for someone whose past 4 days have consisted of nothing but laying around being infused with some hardcore drugs that are basically designed to knock you on your butt.

I think I'm just going to finish copying all of these notes from International Relations that I missed and go to bed.  I gotta get my sleep or I'm gonna wear myself out before this last week before Spring Break even begins.

If I can get this done before crashing, all that will be left on my to-do list for the weekend is the 6th two-page paper for Public Policy, preparing the essay for Wednesday's Public Policy midterm, and working on the bibliography for my massive International Relations Paper.  Not bad for a Friday night.  Monday and Tuesday, I'll have to figure out when to study for the makeup World Religions test that I'm taking Wednesday morning, which should be interesting since I have 5 classes and 6 tutoring sessions in those two days.

Maybe I am crazy for doing this much right after such a difficult week, but this is the least pain I've been in in three and a half months, and I'm taking advantage of it.

Normal is boring, anyway.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

The thing about storms.

A while back, a dear friend of mine had a blog entitled "Beyond Measure."  She shut it down for personal reasons quite some time ago, but that phrase has stuck with me, as well as the way she used it to describe the things that only God could pull off.

That's what has been on my mind this week:  I am blessed beyond measure.

It's honestly just mind-boggling to see how many blessings God put into the span of 72 hours, where somehow nothing felt rushed or out of place but I also felt like I couldn't catch my breath before the next surprise came along.

And it makes me think back to how just days ago, I told a couple friends and Pastor Sean that it felt like even though I knew God was here, that He wasn't doing anything except watching.  Oh, me of little faith...

He was planning this all along.  To get me the help I need.  To go as far as necessary to show me that He really does work all things together for my good and His glory.  Everything that's happened in the past three days, the way everything lined up just perfectly, can only be attributed to His unbelievable power.  And all of this so soon after I felt myself doubting what He was going to do to help me in my distress, or when He was going to do it, or if He was going to do anything at all.  He is faithful, even when we are not.  Father, forgive me for the sin I have committed in doubting Your power, mercy, and grace.

So yes, I completed the DHE treatment today.  The doctor, nurses, and I are all cautiously optimistic because I was showing improvement after just one day of the therapy, and they said the vast majority of patients receiving this don't feel improvement until they complete the whole regimen.  I am in less pain tonight than I have been in three and a half months.  There aren't words to describe this level of gratitude.

Also, as if the experiences of the past few days weren't reminder enough of just how much God loves and wants to take care of me, I have had some great conversations with some beautiful friends.  He has sent some incredible people into my life who teach me and encourage me and fill me with the God-given courage to keep pushing when I just don't understand what's going on.  And trust me, I haven't understood a lot about this week.  How everything could fall into place so quickly.  How He could want to bless me when I just spent days doubting His faithfulness to redeem the brokenness in my life.

This is what is hard for me to accept.  I'm trying to release the worry, the wondering why I don't have to do anything to earn His love or make myself worthy, but when you spend 18+ years in the same mindset with your life situations only solidifying your beliefs, it's really difficult to get yourself out of that and put your mind on the path that leads to the Truth.  But I'm trying, and God knows I'm trying.  And that's just one of many reasons I picked release as my one word.

I hope that if you're reading this, and you are in the same place I was just about a week ago, wondering if or when God is going to come in and help you, save you from the drowning feeling that is overwhelming you tonight, that my story can serve as a reminder that the word of the Lord never changes.  His faithfulness never changes.  He saved me and got me the help I desperately needed once again at the last hour.

He is coming for you, sweet child.  He is coming to redeem.  He is mighty to save.  He wants to save you.

Just don't give up.  Trust when it doesn't make sense.  Keep moving forward when you feel like you don't have another step left in you.  Look for the small blessings.  Praise Him in the storm.

Because here's the things about storms: they don't last forever, even when they feel like they're going to.

Julie, the sweet nurse who took such good care of me the past three days, and me

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I'm not sleeping as much as I expected to be, but I do feel very, very drained and think it's a good thing that I cleared my whole schedule for the week.

A huge good sign is that both today and yesterday, I've been feeling some improvement in my pain, which is great because my sweet nurse, Julie, said that most patients don't start to feel relief until after the full treatment is done, and I still have one more day to go, so to have some improvement already is great.

I tell ya, though, it's no wonder I'm so exhausted.  This infusion consists of nine different drugs, almost all of which are known for making you drowsy.  The funniest part about yesterday was as we were leaving, Mom looked at me and said, "I love how everyone else is walking out of here like they've been given horse tranquilizers, yet you look like someone just gave you an Oxycodone."  Tolerance build-up, gotta love it.  I've had almost all of these drugs before, just not all at the same time.

Here's what is in my glorious cocktail (with descriptions provided from this nifty little sheet the Infusion Center gave me):

Ativan - used for sedation and anxiety; also has slight anti-nausea properties

Benadryl - ....who doesn't know what Benadryl is?!

Reglan - has anti-emetic effects that help reduce symptoms of nausea and vomiting. You may also feel drowsy.

Toradol - a non-narcotic and non-steroidal analgesic and anti-inflammatory used in conjunction with other medicines to treat migraine headaches

DHE 45 - a non-narcotic cardiac classified medicine that is indicated to prevent or abort vascular headaches (meaning it constricts the blood vessels in my brain - and consequently throughout my body - to stop the migraines).

Decadron - a corticosteroid that has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces edema. It is used in conjunction with other medicines also through effective for the treatment of migraine headaches.

Magnesium - used to decrease spasms

Phenergan - anti-nausea medicine that can make you feel drowsy

Zofran - another anti-nausea medicine less sedating than Phenergan

They always give Ativan to me first, and I really like how it instantly relaxes me.  It reminds me of how Dilaudid makes me feel right with they give it to me, just without the all-over-body tingling sensation.  It's pretty nice, I'm usually passed out by the time they give me the Phenergan, and then I sleep straight through until it's over.

So yeah, there's the rundown.  I'm very blessed that I can get this now, and that not only are all my professors being incredibly understanding, but the Tutoring people at Student Services and the people I tutor are, as well.

God is good.  I'm hopeful that this is what's going to work for me and that my life can go back to normal finally.  He's got me, I know this much.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Miracles happen.

I wanted to post this now because I'm not sure how much I'll feel like getting on the computer for the next few days.

I'll cut right to the chase.

My mom is on her way up.

We're headed to my neurologist.

I have IV therapy scheduled for this afternoon, tomorrow, and Thursday.

Praise the Lord, for He is so, so very good.  And may He bless my sweet mom who is sacrificing so much to get me the help I need.  Just like she always has.

Miracles happen, people.  This is proof.  To get me this therapy now when I wasn't expecting to be able to get it, to have my mom agree to miss work for this even though it's risky for her, to have the insurance approve it within hours, that the infusion center had openings for today, tomorrow, and Thursday.  God's handiwork is written all over this.

I am so blessed.  There aren't words.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Always Bigger

When I sat down to write tonight's blog post, I wasn't really sure what to say.  Today was a pretty average Monday.  Four classes, work at the Tutoring Center, food, trying to sit and rest my feet whenever I could.  So I sat here thinking, and my eyes kept drifting time and time again to this sheet of paper taped on the wall above my desk.

I've probably posted it before, but I can't stop thinking about it right now.

The Gospel is always bigger.

The Gospel has power that no human, and more importantly, no amount of evil and brokenness can touch.  The Gospel has the power to make you feel like you've got all the strength in the world behind you but simultaneously make you feel smaller than an ant as you kneel before the only One who really is invincible.  The Gospel has the power to give you no choice but to face the truth but somehow, at the same time, make you glad to do it.

The Gospel can heal any broken heart, cleanse a body of any illness, restore any broken spirit, and defeat any evil.  The Gospel can bring families torn apart back together, give inexplicable peace, save the people who don't realize they need saving, and piece back together lives that have been given up on by the world.

Because thankfully, He knows all the things that we do not.  He knows that no one is worth giving up on.  He is faithful when we are not.

It wasn't until after my baptism that I started opening my Bible and reading it.  And I mean, really reading it. Not the kind of reading that is more like skimming over the words where all you think at the end is "Hm. Cool story.", but the kind where I sit and just try to fathom what Jesus was like, what it must've felt like to be one of the disciples and sit with him and talk with him and learn from him.  I try to comprehend the kind of heart he must've had, to the point where his every word was one of love and a lesson from the Father.  I try to imagine seeing a man you loved deeply hanging on a cross in complete innocence.  I try to accept the unconditional love it must've taken for him to cry out, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."  He prayed for the men who were torturing and killing him.

I try.  I try so hard, but I just can't.  It's hard for a nerdy control freak like me to accept the fact that Someone loves me without question, absolutely unconditionally, no matter how badly I screw things up.  All I know is that knowing the Truth that the Gospel holds only makes me want to know Him better, share my testimony more, give Him even more of me, decrease even more each day so that He may increase.

This is the kind of thing that the God in the Gospel can do, people.  He can save a girl who contemplated suicide on a daily basis for years when she didn't even believe He existed.  He can blow the minds of some of the best doctors in the country who have no choice but to say to a very broken little girl "I have no idea how you survived this."  He can convince a girl who had been told all her life she didn't deserve to be loved that she deserved love as much as anyone else, and to prove it, bring her people who love her through the good and the bad, people who were shining examples of grace and forgiveness when she was terrified they'd leave her for failing them.  He can transform lives.  Only He can radically transform lives.

The Truth that lies in those pages saves lives.  It certainly saved mine.  Just not via the methods you'd expect.

And that's the cool part.  God is somehow always reliable and always faithful, but also full of surprises.

So whatever trial you're facing tonight, lay it at His feet, because I may not be able to tell you when or how it will be fixed and redeemed, but I can tell you this much:  Whatever it is, it's not as big as He is.  He is always bigger.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

You are not alone.

I feel like I've said that more this weekend than anything else.

Friday and Saturday, it was to a friend going through his first heartbreak, which anyone who's been there knows is an absolutely awful feeling.  They're trying to be friends, because they were best friends before they dated, but he felt like she wasn't there for him at all, so I kept reminding him that I'd be here for him no matter what.  He's my friend, too, and every time I looked at him I saw tears in his eyes, so I couldn't help it.  Everyone needs someone to be there for them in times like this.

Today, though, was something totally different.  Our series right now at church is called "Great Words of the Gospel" and today's word was faith.  Pastor Sean started his sermon off with one of my favorite verses:  Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."  He talked about what faith is and is not, including that it is not an easy button guaranteeing a life of pleasure and easiness (he even had one of those Staples Easy Buttons that say 'that was easy' when you press them).And honestly, I don't even remember most of what else he talked about, because the entire time he was talking, I felt God speaking straight to me about my migraines.

At the end of the service, he said that anyone who needed to talk about something, so I asked to speak with him, and when we got in the "green room", I told him what's been going on with my migraines and my mom's job and everything.  How I know and believe that God is here but it feels like He's just watching and not working.  Which is absolutely contradictory to the very nature of God, I know that, but this is what emotions do to you when you're in the middle of a tough situation.  Pastor Sean reminded me of one of the songs we sang this morning (below).  That song was really when I started feeling God speak to me.

Never once have I been alone.  I wasn't alone even when I didn't believe God existed.  He has carried me through so much, so for me to think that He's going to stop carrying me through this is ridiculous and underestimates the unending love He has for me.  He is here, He is working, and even though it doesn't make sense to me now and I'm frustrated with this pain, He is going to save me again and redeem this in His perfect timing.

So many of my friends have been telling me over and over again that the Lord is using this to draw me closer to Him.  103 days feels like a long time to me, but it's less than a blink of an eye compared to the eternity that I will spend with the Father who has held me through things much scarier than this.  Pastor Sean defined faith as "confidence or trust in a person or thing".  If I claim faith in God, I have to trust that He will resolve this His time, not mine.

My Father is here every second of every day, giving me the strength to get through each day one day at a time, despite the pain.  He is here in the hearts of my friends, giving them the words they need to remind me of the Truth when I start to feel weak.  He is here, deepening my trust in Him and teaching me to loosen my grip on the reigns of control a little more each day.

John 16:33 "I tell you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  (Another one of my favorites.)  He has overcome.  He is here fighting for me, keeping his grip on me to keep me out of the pit of despair that was my life for far too many years.

In the piece I wrote for the church's new website, something I said was "There have been several weeks that I have left the service on the verge of tears because I had been hit with the realization that God had used Pastor Sean to speak right to me."  This was one of those weeks.

And as if I needed any more proof of just how faithful the Lord really is, the guy who gave me a ride back after the service agreed to give me a ride to Small Group each week, as my previous ride became unreliable and I would like to go every week and was quite frustrated that I'd missed the past two weeks because of having no ride.

Never once did we ever walk alone.  Never once did You leave us on our own.  You are faithful, God, You are faithful.

I am not alone.  And my friend, neither are you.

Matt Redman - "Never Once"

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

A list of things that baffle me.

That I would wake up to pouring snow on the one day the alumni game is scheduled.


That NC got snow just days after I told my friend in Oklahoma that NC never gets snow.

That it would take hours for the snow to stick, and then that it would start melting like two hours later.

That I decided to try sitting in the pouring snow to watch the current team play.

That I found a best friend who is as big of a goofball as I am.  (see her pose?)

That I could care so much about someone I barely know.

That kind, chivalrous guys still exist, and I got to hang out with two of them this weekend.

That I could leave my dorm feeling fine, walk down the street and in the door of Ryann's apartment, and promptly pass out due to what I can only think was a mix of a blood sugar crash and dehydration.

That I could drink a Gatorade and a ton of water and take a two hour nap and, aside from the bruise forming on my head from passing out face first, feel normal again.

What doesn't baffle me, though?  That I could pick talking to people and giving advice over sleeping some more, even though I probably have an early morning tomorrow.  Some things never change.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

A Complete Turn Around

Today started out awful.

I was in excruciating pain from the second I woke up, I'm thinking the worst I've had since I started this medication plan.  I say "I think" because I can't remember what my pain is like from day-to-day, but I had tears in my eyes or running down my cheeks pretty much all morning because it was so intense.

Luckily, by the time I went to the infirmary for a check-up on my foot, the tears had stopped.  But then I had to tell the very nice doctor bad news: yes, the pain I originally came in for is getting better and the giant blister on my ankle is healing, but I have new pain and a new blister.  Sigh, it just never ends.

Then I got to Phonetics and found I got an 83 on that test I was so freaked out about.  Granted, I was happy because it was a B and higher than I expected, but I was frustrated because I made a LOT of stupid mistakes because I was so tired and an 83 is far from the kind of grade I'm used to getting.

My afternoon tutoring session was canceled for today, which meant I got to go straight back to my dorm after Public Policy.  Then I had to deal with accepting the fact that my neurologist feels she basically has no other options to help me other than this IV therapy, and I had to deal with a very difficult conversation with my mother in which we realized we have to figure out how to get me help for more than 100 days of constant pain without costing her good standing with her administration.  Parents should not have to choose between their job not making them depressed and their child's health.  They just shouldn't.  I'm not sure what's going to happen yet.

This is where things finally started getting good.  Great, actually.  Ryann invited me over to her apartment for a movie night with her roommates, Taylor and Cissy, their friends, a girl also named Taylor (but she often goes by her last name with this crew), Ian, and Spencer, who was down visiting from Virginia.  I met Spencer back in early December when he visited before, and we've chatted occasionally and were excited to see each other.  As soon as I walked in, he got up and gave me a hug.  Then, I sat down at the kitchen table to talk to Ryann, and he came up and said, "Happy Valentine's Day," and handed me this.

A box of chocolates. Melt. my. heart!  I meant what I said yesterday about honestly not caring that I didn't have a Valentine this year, but to have this guy that I don't know all that well be sweet enough to buy me a Valentine's Day present just made my day.  Spencer is such a sweetheart, and after all the stuff that went down tonight (which, to respect Ryann, will not be blog material because it is not my story to tell) I feel like I really consider him a friend.  This kind gesture and the talk we had put a huge smile on my face after a long and difficult day.

We all also watched this bizarre movie called Looper, and then Ian drove me back because he insisted it was too cold for me to walk up the street.  Also a very nice guy.  :)

Anytime I go over to Ryann's apartment and hang out with her and her friends, it feels like the highlight of my week.  But tonight could not have had better timing.  Good friends + good talks + fun + surprises = happy Mal.  Thus why it's past 1 in the morning and I'm sitting here writing this blog post.  It was a late get together, haha.

And I get to see them tomorrow, too.  The women's soccer team is playing UNC Pembroke at 1:00 and then playing the alumni at 3:00.  Ryann asked me to come, so of course I couldn't say no.

It's gonna be a good weekend.  I can feel it. :)

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine's Prayer

credit: Jessica at

You know what is really annoying?  No, not Valentine's Day.  No, not being single on Valentine's Day.  It is being accosted by people in person and on every possible form of social media who think that being alone on Valentine's Day means you're automatically a) bitter, b) depressed, c) jealous of anyone you know who's in a relationship, or d) any combination of the three.

Thankfully, no one said anything that offensive directly to me, but I've seen evidence of this seemingly in every direction I turned today.  Instead, this is what I tweeted this morning.

Because really, y'all, there is so much love to celebrated today beyond the love of people who are dating/engaged/married.  This is a day when kids bring in cards for every single kid in their class, even the ones who might otherwise get left out.  This is a day when my friend Kami and her husband make the day about their kids instead of each other.  This a day when my friend Jessica's boss's husband brought in flowers for the entire staff.  This is a day when I spent more than an hour scouring a website for presents for one of my best friends..

And I meant what I said in that tweet.  I have so much love in my life, more than I know what to do with.

I have the love of a Heavenly Father who sent His child to die for me before I even existed, who loves me unconditionally, whom I can run to at any time, who saved me even when I hated Him, who gave me everything I needed and only asked that I love and pursue Him with everything I am.

I have the love of a mother who loves me with everything she has to give, who has fought for me from the start, without whom I probably would not be alive, who pushed me because she saw greatness I didn't see in myself, who rarely takes a moment for herself because she's so busy giving to everyone else (and you wonder where I got it from).

I have the love of sisters and an extended family who, even though we are not close, are always there for me when it counts.

I have the love of friends who have shown me how to find my self-confidence in the Lord, who distract me when I need it, who comfort me when I'm crying, who aren't shy about telling me when they think I'm being an idiot, who are always protective of me even when I think I don't need it (and usually I actually do), who show me what it means to love someone even when they seem unlovable, who make me a better person and more passionate about knowing Jesus just by being my friends.

I have so much.  

But it was when I watched this video by Jeff and Alyssa Bethke (who, by the way, are one of the cutest couples ever) that I think God spoke to me about my singleness and why I'm 4 months from being 21 and have yet to ever have a boyfriend.

I haven't been content with the stage God has me in.  I've been waiting, hoping, praying, that a guy I've been interested in for a while would be "the guy"....only for him to get a girlfriend.  I've been wondering why God hasn't brought me a relationship yet.  

I've been completely ignoring the fact that I may still be single because there is work God has still to do in my heart before I have the emotional stability and maturity to be in a Christ-centered relationship.  He has a plan and a purpose and He has not forgotten me.  Just this past week, I have seen evidence of Him working in my life in a major way.  God doesn't not pick and choose; from the start, He's wanted a complete and total overhaul and remodel of my life.  My love life, the love story He wants for me, isn't excluded from that.

I've been so focused on the future and the man that is hopefully waiting for me there that I've missed out on the joy I can find in life right now.  

I've been so focused on wondering when a man will want to love me that I've gotten distracted from where my self-worth Christ alone.  I've forgotten that God's love is actually enough to fill me with the peace I need to wait for His timing.  I am a daughter of the King.  That is who I am first and foremost, always.  That will not change no matter if I'm single, dating, engaged, married, divorced, widowed, or a crazy spinster.

That is where the passage at the top comes in.  Ephesians 3:17b-19.  I saw it on Jessica's blog and it hit me hard.  Even if I do find the love of my life and stay married for 60 years, the love I receive from my husband will never even come close to rivaling the boundless, all-powerful, unconditional, burning love of God.  The God who used 4 strangers to pique my curiosity about what it meant to find your identity in Christ and be filled with His love and joy.  The same God who used a painful medical trauma to make me realize how much I need him.  The same God who got my mom to give me a plane ticket to Nashville.  The same God who stopped a skin infection from getting in the way of my trip.  The same God who chased me down and broke me in a church in a city I didn't know surrounded by 600 strangers.

As humans, we all have our limits about things we just won't do.  Mine pretty much involve anything illegal or that will cause me to knowingly hurt another person.  But God?  God will do anything for me.  For you.  For all of us.

For the first time in my life, I can honestly say it didn't bother me not having a Valentine today.  No cutesy card, no box of chocolates, no bouquet of flowers, no declarations of love can match the incomprehensible love of the Lord that is with me every second of every day.  In the words of Alyssa, He is for me.

That's all the Valentine's gift I need.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013


One of the things I love most about my friendship with The Vespers is the number of friends that I have made through them.  Both through my trip to Nashville and through Twitter, I have met (both literally and the online kind of figuratively) some incredible people who have encouraged me, taught me lessons I didn't know I needed, made me laugh when I didn't think I could, and just truly become friends of mine.  And of course, there are so many people I've met through the blog world about whom I could say the same things.  The power of the Internet people.  It's not as impersonal as it sounds.

One of the people I got connected with through The Vespers is a guy named Travis.  I don't remember when or why we started talking via Twitter, and I know I didn't meet him in Nashville because he doesn't live there.  But anyway, over the past couple of days, I've been helping him with his College Algebra, since it's one of the courses I tutor here (and is a very interesting thing to do via social media), and he has been so appreciative and sweet about the help.  I honestly think it's been as much of a blessing to me as it has been to him.

While I was helping him, I posted this tweet, and it sums up my feelings in one sentence.

And while we were talking, I mentioned that I didn't know what to blog about tonight, and he wrote back, "Helping others in any given situation at any given time. Be of service and be happy to do it. Cuz that's how you've been with me."  Seeing that made me think of when my friend Lauren told me that I'm one of the most selfless people she knows.

I will be the first person to tell you - I love people.  I always have.  It's next to impossible for me to see someone who needs something that I can give them or do for them and turn away without having done it.  It honestly kind of baffles me that this is such a thing of wonder to people who know me, that me helping the people around me out is even worth commenting on.

Take Travis for example.  Have I met the kid?  Nope.  Do I know him well?  Nope.  But what I saw on Twitter a few days ago was a guy working really hard on something he just didn't understand, a guy who's got his own set of issues outside of school that have been taking his attention (and rightfully so), and he was dealing with a course that I'm being paid to tutor at my university.  It was midnight - what was more important to me, sleep or helping this guy out?

Um duh.  I will always pick helping people over sleep.  And anyone who knows me knows how much I love to sleep.

Here's the thing.  I'm not some freak of nature for making helping those around me a priority.  Anyone can do this.  It doesn't have to be some grandiose or expensive gesture.  I mean, tutoring Travis doesn't cost me a dime, and I manage to do it while texting friends, looking at Facebook and Twitter, and listening to music.  The first step is to just PAY ATTENTION.  Don't be so caught up in your own world that you get tunnel vision and miss someone who needs a friend that could be right in front of your face.  But also, pay attention to when God might be telling you to do something.  That same friend Lauren listened to a calling from the Lord that's leading her to Jamaica this summer for a mission trip.  So yeah, pay attention.

Second of all, don't just do what's easy.  The time I've spent helping Travis could have been spent many ways getting ahead in my classes.  But really, Jesus faced the biggest cost of all, his life, and he paid it because he loved us that much.  As Christians, sometimes showing the love of Christ to people means sacrificing in some area of our own lives.  The Bible pretty much spells it out for us.

John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

In my opinion, not that I'm some great theologian or anything, you don't have to literally die to lay down your life for your friends.  You can lay down your life by giving up something so that someone else can gain.  You can lay down your life by standing up for someone in a conflict.  You can lay down your life by serving those living on next to nothing, either here or overseas.  I take the phrase "lay down his life" to mean making your life not about you.  Also, I don't take "friends" to literally mean the people you're already buddies or even acquaintances with.  Jesus was friends with everyone.  Jesus included everyone, even the outcasts.

So do something for a stranger, too.  For example, since I'm seeing The Vespers the week of Taylor and Bruno's birthdays, I decided that with this job, I could afford to buy them birthday presents (and give Caitie a super early birthday present, and Callie and Phoebe wedding presents).  Taylor was easy - I knew exactly what I was getting him as soon as I decided.  Bruno, however, had me stumped.  Last night, Caitie asked him what I should do, and he said "Do something for someone who needs it more than I do."  And when I jokingly teased him that he was no fun, he replied, "Nah, I just don't like stuff, rather be selfless."  With that, I immediately knew what I'm going to do.  It was such a lesson for me, too, simple decisions like telling someone to give your birthday present to someone in need are selflessness in action.

I don't mean to sound like I'm preaching.  I certainly fail at this sometimes.  But I do my best, and since I've been told I'm such a great example, I figured I'd share my thoughts on the matter.

In the end, though, I think Travis's words summed it up better than I did.  Help anyone in any given situation at any given time.  Be of service and be happy to do it.  The reason why helping people makes me so incredibly fulfilled is because a) I get to put a smile on their face, but mostly b) I know in my heart that I'm showing them the love of Christ.

We were not created to make this life about ourselves.  We were made to know God and to lead others to know Him.  I'd say this is a good way to work on the latter part.  I've learned than most of the time, your actions will show the love of Christ so much more deeply than your words ever could.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Insert the Hallelujah Chorus here.

Matt and I talked.  Big time.  Like, 50 minutes big time.  And I'm not sure we've ever had a phone conversation that long.  But it covered a lot of things.

Here's what's important, though.  He's not mad about Brennan anymore, but if we're being honest, I don't think he ever was.  He said he was disappointed, as in, "Come on, we've been through this," and he's worried, and protective, but not mad.  That's the Matt I know.  I can deal with him being worried if or until things go bad, but what I needed to hear was that my best friend would be here to support me always and to help pick up the pieces if need be.  And he will.  And that's all that matters.

That's all that matters, but this is where the miracle came in.  Matt understood things that I never expected him to understand:  that I'm trying to show Brennan grace, that I can't give up until I feel sure about the person that he is, the reasons why I really believe he's different this time, and so much else.

I'm just so relieved.  And happy.  Really happy.  I told him about what Brennan said about him understanding if I chose Matt over him if I had to choose, and his response "I would never make you choose.  I have no reason to do that."  Which is pretty much what I expected.

I feel like things can go back to normal now.  Two friendships I care about are in tact.  I don't have to worry about it anymore.  God answered so many prayers today.

I don't even know what else to say.  Sometimes God surprises me in the craziest possible ways.  I never expected this to go the way it did.

Thank you, Lord.  That's all I have left to say.  Just thank you.  I am grateful beyond measure.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Real This Time

This post?  The unnamed "guy" would be Brennan.  Though any of you who have been reading this blog for the past 10 months probably figured that one out.  I have some astute readers.

I'm not sure why I tried to keep it vague in that post.  But right now I just can't, so I'm coming clean...well, sort of.  At least about that.

The past few days have been really, really hard for a myriad of reasons that I can't and don't want to get in on here.  Maybe I will, but right now the details of all of that aren't all that important.  What matters is that I've been feeling really down and with Taylor on the road and Matt and I not on the best of terms and Ryann not knowing about Brennan, I didn't know who else to talk to.  I needed to hear someone's voice, someone who was willing to listen.  So I texted Brennan.  Unsurprisingly, he was too busy to talk, but we texted each other several times trying to figure out when we could talk.

He called me tonight.  And he listened to everything that was going on and how I was feeling and not handling it all so well, including the stuff about Matt.  To be honest, I was expecting Brennan to get defensive.  But he didn't.  Instead, his first reaction was just to tell me that Matt's probably just upset because he cares about me and knows I've been hurt by this relationship.  I told him that was exactly what I was thinking, but that didn't make it hurt any less.  What really surprised me was that he later told me that if it came down to it, and I had to choose between him and Matt, I needed to choose who would make me happier, and he's hurt me a lot so he would understand if I chose Matt over him and we couldn't be friends anymore.  I then told him that that would never happen because a) I've never responded to ultimatums well, b) I refuse to have to choose between two people I really care about, and c) it's frankly none of Matt's business especially considering he doesn't even know Brennan.  I was able to express just how much I care about him and what he means to me, despite everything.  (It's a good thing I'm good with words.)

The rest of the stuff we talked about was, in the end, just a friend trying to give a friend advice and lift them up when they were struggling.  But it is important because it was the first phone conversation we'd had since we started talking again.  And it felt like I was talking to the Brennan that I've always believed he was at heart, the kind, genuine, supportive Brennan who means well but is just as broken and fallen as anyone else.  And he ended our conversation with prayer, like he pretty much always does.  That was when I finally broke down in tears.  I hadn't cried since before Thursday.  I had told Brennan before the prayer that I never doubted God's faithfulness, that I knew He was and is still here and that He could fix this, but right now it felt like He was just watching but not doing anything, and that was hard to deal with.  But when Brennan was praying, all of a sudden, I had a feeling of God wrapping His arms around me more strongly than I have in a long time.  It was really powerful and I think that was when I started crying.  I always seem to cry when I'm on the phone with him.

But anyway, the point of this post is that that conversation really strengthened my feeling that I'm doing the right thing by staying.  For the first time, I really felt like I could trust him.  And not just the things he said, but also the way he said them; I have no choice to believe that he really does care about me.  It's so hard to explain because I can't recap the conversation word for word.  But basically, I can't imagine a Christian, the guy who baptized me and has apologized a billion times for what he's put me through, saying what he said, praying what he prayed, without meaning it.  Like, the tone in his voice when he said he understood if I had to choose Matt over him, the tone in his voice said as much as his words did.

Looking back, the past few times we "made up", I knew it was a bad idea because his actions didn't match his words.  I made excuses for it because I just wanted him in my life.  I took the blame solely on my shoulders because I genuinely felt that awful about it all.  So when he disappeared, it honestly didn't surprise me.  It hurt, but it didn't surprise me.  This time, though is different.  I don't have to make excuses for him because what he does matches what he says.

I feel like this is the real Brennan.  I feel like when he says we're friends or refers to "our friendship", it's real. It's not me feeling like I'm begging him to talk to me.  It's two friends who screw up but are there for each other as often as they can be.  This friendship feels real this time.

And that's all I've ever wanted.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

I needed this break.

Friday and Saturday were both really hard, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  So I am truly thankful that God gave me a day like today where I could get some real rest and not have to think about anything deep or painful for a change.

I think overnight my body realized how difficult the past couple of days were and decided to force me into a day of rest.  I didn't (couldn't) get up until after 11:00 which means I didn't make it to church today because my body would just not cooperate.  It was like every ounce of energy had been drained from my muscles.  Weird, but I guess my body just knew I needed some time to be still.  It's amazing how sometimes my body can just take over and force me into taking time for myself when I know I need it and choose to ignore it.

When I did manage to get up, all I did was eat a PB&J and take a shower before the Wolfpack game.  We almost lost yet another game, but this one was a big deal because Clemson and NC State have a huge rivalry, and we are just barely ahead of them in conference rankings; if they had won, we would have been tied at 5-6.  Clemson had the lead for most of the game, but we came back pushing hard in the second half, and the lead bounced back and forth.  They were up by 2 with 10 seconds left, and we had possession.  Watch this.

Scott Wood, our 3-point superstar, saved the day with ONE SECOND ON THE CLOCK.  Man, I love that guy.  I'm not gonna lie - I have a total fangirl crush on Scott Wood.  We would not do nearly as well as we do without him.  It's gonna be weird when he graduates this year.

Yeah, that definitely got my energy up. :)

Anyway, after that, I basically just hung out, tried to do my World Religions reading but kept falling asleep, and then listened to music until it was time to go to work.

I actually had people to tutor tonight!  It was crazy.  In my 4-hour shift, there was maybe 30 minutes where I wasn't tutoring someone.  So hey, I earned my keep for a change. ;)  I was literally working right up until my shift ended, which thankfully this guy and I finished in time because we're not allowed to work overtime.

Then I came back and watched Revenge.  Well, most of it.  I missed the first 10 minutes since it starts at 9 and my shift ends at 9.  But oh well, the beginning doesn't usually tell much, and what I saw was plenty.  I'll watch the rest at some point tomorrow.

Then, I somehow got wrangled into being the judge of who of my friends picked the best throwback music video.  Stacy's Mom was a close second, but no one can compete with this glory.

Oh yes.  You're welcome.  Now, I'm off to bed.

Mmm bop, ba du ba dop, ba du bop, ba du ba dop, ba du bop, ba du bap dop, ba duuuuuuu........

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

King of Anything

Oh. Matt.  This is what I get for staying up until 2:30 am talking on the phone with you: no energy to do anything today, and the nagging pain that my best friend in the world is mad at me for doing what I feel is the right thing to do.  Sigh.

There's a situation with a certain guy that has been fluctuating between good, bad, and darn near heartbreaking for about nine months now.  Matt, being my best friend, has been privy to all the details of all of it.  One of the things I love most about Matt is that we've always had the kind of friendship where we supported and understood the other one's actions even if we thought they were being an idiot.  And trust me, neither of us is shy about telling the other one they're being an idiot.

Well, right around the start of the new year, Matt and I had a conversation about this guy, and I was feeling really good about being done with him and was dead set on the idea that I deserved better than the crap he was pulling so it was good that I was done with him..........Then, this guy and I had a conversation a few days later.  He said he realized his mistakes and that all he wanted was to be friends, and a lot of other stuff that I'm not going to get into here....and as much as my head was screaming "DON"T LISTEN TO HIM!", I did.  So we started talking again.  I did my best to be cautious, which is so not an easy thing for me to do, but as January passed, the more he seemed to be trying, and the more I began to think that maybe he really had changed.

I only told a select few people about this.  I almost felt ashamed, and I wanted to keep it quiet because I just wasn't ready to deal with the judgment, but I needed to vent to some people that I knew wouldn't judge me.  And I didn't tell Matt, which is a freak thing for me because I tell this kid everything.  But I knew the reaction he'd have, pretty much exactly the reaction he had last night (minus the sounding angry at me), and I just didn't feel like dealing with it.

Well, last night, I guess I was so tired that I forgot that Matt didn't know this guy and I were on speaking terms again.  After I told him all that went down at the hospital and what the doctor, he asked me if anyone had been there with me and I told him aside from when Ryann brought my phone charger by and sat and talked for a minute (literally it was only a minute), no I was alone, but I talked to people via text on my phone and calls to a few on the hospital phone.  This is where I forgot he didn't know I was talking to the guy and told him that this guy had told me he'd be late to class if I needed him and then when I told him no, he should go to class because I was okay at that point, he prayed over me.

THAT would be when Matt freaked out.  He couldn't believe that I didn't listen to him when he explained how he knew this was just a game for this guy and that he was playing me, he said that I was setting myself up to get played again by this guy, he asked why I didn't cut this guy out of my life when he told me to.  He said a lot of other stuff that I really don't feel like reliving, but it's all basically variations of this main stuff.

This is foreign territory to me.  Matt and I do not fight.  We just don't.  We never have.  Yes, we yell at each other and argue and get angry, but then we move on because there's always been this unspoken understanding that we need each other too much to let stupid stuff get in the way.  That is the Matt I'm used to, not this.

I'll be honest, this hurts.  It feels like Matt doesn't respect me or my intelligence or my ability to make my own decisions based on what I feel is right.  And he is a very close #2 behind my mom on the list of people I hate making mad (followed by Ryann, of course).  But there's so much Matt is never going to be able to understand about my friendship with this guy.  He doesn't even know HIM!  No matter what he tells me about "how guys think", I can't make myself believe that a guy who goes to the Lord on my behalf doesn't care about me to some extent.  Plus, for the first time, this guy is giving me real reason to believe that he's changed.  His actions are actually matching up to his words.

Selfishly, I just can't let this guy go.  It hurts so badly when I can't talk to him.  Trying to make Matt understand, I told him that when he's not a part of my life, the kind of pain I feel feels like what it felt like during those 5 months when Matt's then-girlfriend told him he wasn't allowed to talk to me.  So yes, despite everything that has happened, everything that we've said and done since we met, I want him in my life.  He's important to me, and I'm not going to apologize for that.

Furthermore, Matt is never going to be able to fully understand my friendship with this guy and the core of how it all started because Matt isn't a Christian.  And because of that, he's not going to understand the idea of showing this guy grace and loving him (and I mean that as friends and Christians) even when he seems unlovable, when the natural human reaction is that he doesn't "deserve" another chance.  Part of the reason I'm staying is because I'm not sure if this guy has anyone else who's gone to the lengths that I have to show him grace and forgiveness; if he doesn't, I want to be that person.  Because maybe it'll help him grow up into a strong(er) man of God who won't do this to someone else.

What all of this has made me realize, though, is that even though Matt is my absolute best friend in the world and I respect and love him more than I can ever explain, he's no longer the center of my world.  His opinions aren't the be all end all for me anymore.  This is my life, and for him to get mad because I'm not doing what he says is so hurtful and disrespectful.

The Lord is my guidepost now.  I have spent a lot of time praying about this over the past month because I've been so unsure if I was doing the right thing letting him back into my life, and the only conclusion I can come to is that Jesus wouldn't turn anyone away.  When he was nailed to the cross, his words were "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."  I want to show that kind of grace and forgiveness to everyone, including this guy.

I feel in my heart that I'm supposed to stay.  I need to give him one more chance.  Both for his sake and mine.  I hate that my best friend is angry about it, but God is my guide, not anyone else, and I believe I'm doing the right thing.

Romans 8:28 says God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him, so even if this turns out to be a mistake, He'll take care of me and get me back on the right path, just as long as I keep pursuing him.

So, this song is for Matt (not that he'll ever see this post, I don't even think he knows I have a blog, haha).  I love you, kid, but I've made up my mind, and if you love me like I think you do, you'll get over your anger and respect this.

Sara Bareilles - "King of Anything"

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Friday, February 8, 2013

A Whole Lot of Random

I have no idea how I'm awake right now.  I wouldn't still be awake right now if I weren't waiting on a call back from Matt.  Amazing how much more free time he has when he isn't in a relationship.  But we barely ever get to talk anymore because we're both so absurdly busy, so I'm willing to stay up for this.  I miss him.   I had called him from the hospital yesterday and told him what was up and that he could call that number back to get up with me, but I forgot to text him and tell him the ER discharged me.  I got this text from him saying he was trying to call that "weird" number back and couldn't get through.  I guess you can't call in to an ER line...oops?  And he asked me if I was still in the hospital, and I laughed and said no.  When I apologized in a text for forgetting to update him (blame the 4 mg of Dilaudid in my system), he replied, "It's all good. As long as you're okay, that's all I care about."  He called me so I could tell him the story, but then he had to go talk to his sister, so now I'm waiting for him to call me back.  It's worth it.  We have a lot to catch up on.

Oh and I'm also awake because I'm waiting for something to download that's taken all night.

Today was very, very long.  I didn't get in bed until 1:30 last night, but thankfully I fell asleep quickly.  Then I got up at 6:30.  I had my International Relations test at 8:00 (I think I did okay), World Religions with a quiz at 9:00, a tutoring session at 10:00, lunch at 11:00, a trip to the post office at 1:20, Phonetics at 2:00, Public Policy at 3:00, and another tutoring session at 4:30.

So yes, I am tired.  And then I organized some stuff and then gave myself the night off because this was a very long and very, very crazy week and my head hurts so bad and I needed it.  So I watched last night's Grey's Anatomy, played around a lot on the internet, listened to music (duh), and talked to Alex.  I haven't talked to him in a while, either, so it was really nice to catch up with him, as well.

My right foot is very, very swollen.  It seriously hasn't been even close to this swollen since I was recovering from the MRSA infection.  But the bloodwork at the hospital yesterday was clean so I have to assume for now that there is no infection in there and it's just swollen from me being on my feet all day.  I'm currently sitting here in my desk chair with my computer in my lap and my legs up on my desk.  I have a feeling I'll be spending pretty much all of tomorrow either in this position or laid back in my recliner.  I just want this darn thing to heal.  The good news is the blister seems to finally be on its way to going away.  (I hope I didn't just jinx this!)

My brain is fried.  I normally make my weekend to-do list on Friday nights so I know what needs to get done on Saturday and Sunday, and I haven't even done that because all I want to do is sit here with my feet up and watch this video over and over again until Matt calls back.  Because it's so awesome.  And who knew there was an actual town called Nutbush, Tennessee and it's Tina Turner's hometown?!  I didn't until I looked it up because I couldn't figure out why anyone would title a song "Nutbush City Limits."  The power of the internet, my friends.

Yes, it's from Glee, and no, I am not ashamed.  It's introduced me to a lot of songs that I now love that I'd never heard before this show.  I love it.  But mostly I love this video and the lead, Naya Rivera's voice.  Music always makes me happy.

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