Saturday, November 30, 2013


I promise this isn't going to be as cheesy as the title probably makes it sound.

I'm back at Campbell tonight, and I'm very happy about that.  I like breaks from school, but I do not like being in my family's house.

Aside from Tuesday, every day of my break included at least one spurt of me being everyone's verbal punching bag, and today my grandmother joined in.  And I am very, very tired of it.

That's why God is the center of my post today.  Because I need to focus on Him.  And because after all the awful things that were said to me over the past several days, I am that much more grateful for God.

Because I know how much God loves me, more than any person I know could ever love me, I have the ability to find my identity in being a daughter of the King, and not all the names I hear from people around me.

Because He loves me so well, I can rest assured that He has already forgiven me for the mistakes I made this week, even though I struggle to forgive myself, and even though I wonder if they ever will.

Because He knows my heart and knows my hurt.  And better yet, because He understands it.

Because He is here, alive, now, so I am never alone, even when I sometimes feel like it.

Because His is the only opinion I really care about, and it's really the only one I SHOULD care about, and I know that when He looks at me, He sees the perfection of Jesus, pure, clean, and whole.

Because even through all the darkness and pain and anger, I've seen God moving this week in ways I never expected.  And in that, there's a reminder of something to hold on to.

I serve a God who has more than made up for all the brokenness of my biological family by surrounding me with a family of my own.  God hasn't given up on me - quite the contrary, He fought to win me - so I'm not going to give up on God.  I don't know how I made it as far in life as I did without having His grace to fall on.

God, You really are everything.  The greatest blessing I have in life is to call myself Your child.

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Friday, November 29, 2013


Since Thanksgiving landed on the 28th this year, I thought it'd be pretty slack of me not to write about something I'm thankful for on the last two days.  Also I'm a bit anal - I get it from my mother - so not doing it would have really bugged me.

But well, I feel pretty awful, so I'm not going to make some artistic, flowy, poetic entry into what I'm thankful for tonight.  Just cutting to the chase.  Sometimes you just don't have the pretty words in you.

My mom hadn't spoken to her brother and his wife in over a year and a half before tonight.  I stopped speaking to them about a year ago because...shall we say, what happened that made my mom do it got about ten times worse.  Details aren't important; that's just the lead-in to why tonight was important.

This past weekend, my uncle asked my grandma to invite us over to his house for a Thanksgiving meal today.  He knew he had to get her to do it, because my mom had ignored all of his previous attempts to reach out.  My mom said that with the look in my grandma's eyes, and knowing as a mom how she would feel if her kids couldn't stand to be in the same room even on a holiday, she couldn't say no.

So we went.  And it was really good.  Things were a bit weird between my mom and my uncle, but you could chock that up to how crappy my mom feels.  She, Chelsea and Blake left about an hour and a half into it because Blake was ornery and really wanted to go, but Mommom and I stayed and hung up for another hour or so.

And it was fun.  We laughed and talked and joked and it wasn't weird at all.  I spent most of the time talking to my cousins, but it was never weird between me and my uncle and aunt when I did talk to them.  And I'm glad that I have so much fun with my cousins.  Dusty and I are finally at the stage in life where we seem to really like each other.

So, long story short, it's not 100%.  My family may never be close like so many of the families I see/know, who spend all day on holidays laughing together and making memories and all that Hallmark-card-type stuff, but things are better now than they were before.  Possibly than they've ever been.

It's progress.  And for that, I am thankful.

Three pictures from tonight.

Dusty and I sat on the couch for a while after dinner taking selfies. Food coma euphoria. ;)

me and Brianna. she turns 15 in February, and I am old.

for some reason, to me, we both look much older than we are. (Dusty's 23. we're the June babies of the family.)

And with that, I bid you adieu.  It's time for me to dope myself up on some Benadryl and go to sleep. Early day tomorrow!

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving: The Twitter Edition

I'm so doped up on cold meds that I don't think I can accurately recount today, so I thought I would instead fill you in on today via my tweets.  I got on a string of posting what I'm thankful for, but there are some other things thrown in.

After Jobs goes off, I'm going to watch Glee (because for some reason Fox decided to air an episode on Thanksgiving) and then go to bed.  Chelsea works 8-3 tomorrow and Mom is, well, recovering from surgery, so it's going to be a long and rough day of babysitting.

I have so much to be thankful for.  I am on the craziest journey ever, better and wilder than I ever could have imagined, and I know it's only going to get better and wilder from here.

But one last thing:  You. Yes, you that's reading this right now.  I'm thankful for you, too.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Warm Bed

It's been pouring rain most of the day.

My allergies are a mess (I'm so allergic to this house).

And my migraine has been unbearable, leading me to do pretty much nothing but sleep (except for when I was taking care of Blake while Chelsea was at work).

So today, I'm thankful for a warm bed to sleep in.

It's awesome.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Break

My report presentation went way better than I expected it to, so yay for that.  My migraine has been getting progressively worse since yesterday, so I'm very thankful that today was the last day for the week.

Now I'm back in Swansboro for a few days for Thanksgiving.  It was rough at first, but things went very well once Mom and I locked ourselves in her room and watched a couple of movies.  Identity Thief was hilarious but pretty weird, and Parkland (a drama about JFK's assassination and the days after) was very well done and incredibly moving.

I am very tired, so this is all I really want to say for today.  Today, I am thankful for a break.  A few hours where I didn't have to think about anything dealing with school.  Because I'm gonna definitely have to get back to it tomorrow.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

My Writing Ability

That's what I'm thankful for today.

That I am a good writer, and also, that I like to write.

And not just because it makes having this blog so much fun and a great safe haven for me, but also because it really comes in handy for college.

Exhibit A: Tonight.  I wrote a nearly 7-paged (single spaced!) book review that's due tomorrow on a book I didn't even like (I am SO not an Economics person!) in 4.5 hours (8-10, then break to watch Castle and eat something, 11-1:30) with a horrendous migraine.

And this means I'll get a semi-decent amount of opposed to last time I had a book review for this class and I got 2.5 hours.

So yeah.  It comes in handy, being able to write well, about nearly anything.  So I'm thankful for that today.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go close my eyes.  Because they ache.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013


Granted, it's happening much later than it should, as it's 12:30 am and I should be in bed already, but hey, better late than never.

I'm making up 3 quizzes and an exam for History tomorrow after Model UN (Reformation is canceled, boo!).  And Tuesday I have my second massive book review for International Political Economy and another quiz in History (I will not miss this quiz every day thing).

Today was spent (after I woke up, that is) reading all but the last chapter of my book for the review and studying for the exam.  Tomorrow I will have to read the 25 or so pages for the History quiz and then the last chapter of my book and then write the review.

Today I'm thankful for more productivity than I've had in one day in a very long time.  You know why?

Senioritis...the struggle is real.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Peace Like a River

Maybe all I needed to get over that unnerved feeling I've had since Sunday was a long night of sleep.

Because for some reason, I slept for 16 straight hours, aside from waking up long enough to take my morning medicine, and tonight, I just...have peace.

I don't know why.

But I don't really need to.

All that matters is that it's here, and I am so, so thankful to God for helping me get to the place where I'm okay with not knowing what is coming next.  He is in control, and that is enough.

There's a lot of unknowns coming my way in the next few weeks, but in the midst of all of that, what I do know is that the God who got me to where I am now will get me through them.  Because when everything else changes, He doesn't.  His character is the one thing I can rely on.  Thank you, God, for loving me when I doubt so much that You never give up on getting me back to this place of trust and peace.

Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

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Friday, November 22, 2013


Back on September 9th, I sent an email to a certain Religion professor that I'd never met before, asking him if I could come in and visit his class.  Without hesitating or even having met me, he suggested I come add to the Twitter experiment he was running in the class.  Normal people would probably have agreed to check out the class for a day and then see where things went; I, on the other hand, created a Twitter account devoted to documenting the happenings of this upper-level Religion class.

Two days later, I walked into a classroom on the third floor of Taylor Hall not knowing who would be there or what to expect.  Would they like me?  Would I like the class?  Would they wonder who this stranger was invading their class?  My usual self-conscious thoughts ran through my head as I walked in the classroom and waited for Dr. Jonas to arrive, praying the occasional awkward stares would die down  quickly.  Thankfully, I did know two of the guys, Chris, who I've known for years through College Democrats, and Bryce, who I'd met briefly through Ryann the year before, but the other thirteen guys and one girl were total strangers to me.  The first day...was about as good as one could hope for, given how unexpected it was for everyone.  I was fascinated by the material, and there was so much laughter in the room, that at the end of the 50 minutes, when Dr. Jonas said, "Mallory, I hope you'll join us again," it didn't take any thought on my part before I responded, "I will definitely be back."  I slowly began to get used to it there, and I introduced myself to people whenever the opportunity arose.  The only person I ever really spoke to, though, was Bryce, which helped keep me from feeling out of place there.

On September 27th, the seizures started.  As I felt it coming on and heard Dr. Jonas cancel the class, I was overridden by feelings of guilt.  But what sticks out even more to me than that was what my classmates did.  Bryce sat by my side and didn't leave, even though we were only acquaintances, but I assumed that everyone else had just left.  Eventually, I learned how wrong I was.  Guys I didn't even know the names of helped take care of me and get the paramedics up to where we were.  And even though I was very out of it, as they wheeled me to the elevator, I still remember seeing several of them sitting on the couches nearby, watching and waiting.  That night, when I was reflecting on everything that had happened, I was blown away by the fact that people I didn't even know the names of yet were so concerned for me.

Every day that it happened, the same scenario played out.  I grew more and more afraid that this time would be the time they got tired of me, and they jumped into action to help me.  Later, I would try to thank the ones who I remembered seeing, and they would all tell me pretty much the same thing.  "It's no problem.  Glad I could help."  And when the guilt got strong that I sent out messages of apology, simply stating that if I had known my health would take this kind of turn, I never would have walked in there in the first place, every single one of them, "You have nothing to apologize for.  I'm glad you were there where we could take care of you instead of by yourself."  That was when the "Could they actually be this nice?  Is this real?" question set in.  As a girl who's been drug around far too many times by peers, often by ones who called themselves Christians, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that this group of college guys could give to me time and time again and not even want a thank you for it.

Since then, I've found out the answer to that question.  A loud, unhesitating, unswerving, boisterous, sincere YES.  These guys not only proved to me that they could be that selfless and giving, but they showed me what they really thought of me.  They made me understand that when they said they'd adopted me as a part of them, they meant it.  I felt a sense of safety with them as soon as I stepped foot in that classroom that I'd never found that quickly with anyone else.  With most of them, it only took one real conversation before I felt like I'd found a long-lost friend and could share just about anything with them without judgment.  Once I got a glimpse of who they were on a personal level, my suspicion faded away and somehow I knew that I'd found a gift in each of them.  And the more we grew to trust each other, the more natural the name "my Reformation brothers" felt.  It started out as just an easy way to refer to them as a collective group, but it became a statement of truth.  Because they were already my brothers, not even six weeks after I'd met them.

And I mean brothers on more than just the "brothers in Christ" level.  With these guys, I found a whole new kind of family that I didn't even know I needed until I realized I had it.  They showed me what family looked like, the kind that's not tied to bloodlines and DNA, through their actions.  They texted me to check on me.  They came to visit me when I was on lockdown, or simply when I just needed to see someone.  They had dinner with me.  They picked me up from the hospital.  They were there in whatever form they could be, always a bright reminder of just how not alone I really am.  And because of that, they showed me without saying a word that they didn't see me as the girl with the seizures, or the girl who randomly joined their class; I was  And I was enough.

I don't think I could ever appropriately list or explain all that they've taught me.  They showed me what the heart of this school is really about.  They showed me that good guys really do exist.  They taught me how not to be afraid of being myself.  They taught me that Matt was right all along; when I got to college, eventually I would find guys like him who could be my friend without ulterior motives.  They taught me about God.  They taught me how to rely on my Father above all else.  They reminded me why it's good that I always have someone around who's willing to call me out on my crap.  They taught me why it's important to believe in myself, and how to see myself the way that they always have.  They taught me why my blunt honesty is a good thing.  They taught me how you can be a gift and a blessing to someone even when you're weak and can't give anything outright to them.  They were always there with lessons I needed, whether they realized it or not.

I couldn't make it through this series on thankfulness without dedicating a post to 15 guys who have seriously changed my life and the kind of person, friend, and Christian that I am.  We only have one more class, and it's not until after Thanksgiving, so today seemed like the perfect day.  I'm already sad thinking about not getting to spend time with this rowdy, wonderful group again after that, but I know that friendships don't have to end here, and I pray that they don't.  And I praise God for that.

Brothers, this one's for you.  I am so, so thankful for you.  You probably think you don't deserve this, but in my eyes, it's the least I can do.  And it's not just for you, anyway; it's also for me, because I never want to forget how these past couple months of getting to know you has changed me for the better.  You have, hands down, been the biggest surprise and the biggest gift for me in this rollercoaster of a semester.  I feel like God orchestrated all of this at this time for a very specific reason, meeting you just weeks before the craziness started.  I praise Him for His timing, and the encouragement that comes in seeing how He poured out blessings through this crazy, accidental set-up.  Thank you for making me your sister, for loving me so well and showing His love to me in the process.  We won't get to spend much time together from here on out, but thank God for social media!  No matter what our friendships look like from here on out, know that I am praying for you.  I pray that your hearts only continue to grow from here, that you become stronger men of God and continue to show His love and grace to others like you did to me.  I pray that as you reach the end of college, some of us sooner than others, you focus on His guidance to lead you to the best possible place, and to rest assured that He will make something beautiful out of your life even when you think you've made a mistake.  I love you, I am so proud to know you and to call you my brothers and myself your sister, and I wait with excitement to see what big things you do in the months and years to come.  If you ever need a friend, you know how to find me.  I am always here.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Grace-Filled Professors

I don't think I could write out or adequately explain all the reasons why I love Campbell, but this semester, with all the craziness that has been going on, one reason in particular has been made crystal clear to me.

At big schools, professors don't have the time or energy to know their students on a personal level.  At Campbell, I've known every professor that I have this semester since I was a freshman and they know about everything I've faced outside of academics since I became a student here.

Having connections with my professors is great in itself, but it's when I'm so behind in school that I'll never be able to get it all done by finals that I become even more appreciative of it.  Not long after the seizures started, every single one of my professors told me, "Please do NOT make yourself sick with stress over my class.  We will figure it out."

They have shown me grace upon grace this semester.  When I haven't been in class.  When I've had to leave early.  When I haven't turned things in on time.  When I've been supposed to make up a quiz or something one afternoon and had to cancel last minute.  They care far more about my health than they do my class record.

Their patience and kindness is a huge part of the reason why I haven't hit "nervous breakdown" status yet.  They have helped keep my stress from getting even higher than it already is.  One of my professors told me something that has really stuck with me; this is why reputation matters - they are willing and able to show me this much grace because they know my work is going to get done and it's going to be excellent quality, I just need to find enough hours where I feel well enough to get it done.

So today, I'm thankful for my professors.  I'm going to miss them very, very much when I move on from this amazing school family in May.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

God's Timing

Another seizure this morning.  Luckily I managed to get on the ground before this one, so I got to avoid a hospital trip.  Doc says the new dosage should kick in by tomorrow.

But that's not what I want to talk about.  What I want to focus on, what I'm thankful for, is stuff that happened this afternoon.

I recovered from my seizure in time to go to my appointment with the Dean of Students at 3:30.  (Don't worry, I got a ride from Campus Safety.  It's on the other side of campus.)  I got there early, because, well, I show up early for everything.  While I was waiting, I had a conversation with Pastor Chris, and he told me to listen to this week's sermon after my meeting.  I normally listen to it on Mondays, but with getting back from the trip and then all the craziness of the past few days with school and whatnot, it sort of got lost in my to-do list.

The sermon, titled "How to be Rich", focused on 1 Timothy 6:17. "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides with everything to enjoy."  I didn't understand why he wanted me to listen to this sermon, considering most of it was about money and generosity, until he got to the very end.  Then, Chris talked about a faithful leader in their church who was just diagnosed with cancer.  It was like I felt God telling me, "Stop putting your happiness on your health, and put in on Me."  Joy comes from something higher, not our earthly circumstances.  Tears started falling...

And the Austin called me back, before I even finished the sermon.  I talked to him about how I was feeling, and he did what I can always rely on him for - he prayed with me.  He thanked God for me and for my life, and the tears started coming harder.  When the prayer started, I didn't even know what to say, and I sort of stumbled through my words.  The good thing about God is that He knows what's on my heart even when I can't figure out how to say what I want to say.  One of the last things Austin said to me before he had to go work on a paper was what a blessing it is for him to know me.  We hung up the phone, and I absolutely lost it.  It's amazing how crying can feel good, isn't it?

Then I pulled out my Bible and saw the verse that comes right after 1 Timothy 6:17.  6:18 - "They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share."  So maybe I do have a body that doesn't work right.  But I have a mind and a heart that work overtime.  And as some dear friends once told me, my mind, my heart, and my ability with words more than make up for what my body can't do.

So today, I'm thankful for how God orchestrated all of those small things one right after the other for me.  I needed it.  He is so good.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nice Hospital Staff was my first day back to school in six days.  I was excited, and actually felt pretty good!

And then I blacked out with no warning at all in the middle of my first class.

They changed my seizure meds again yesterday because of the seizure I had on Sunday, but it's back to the one medicine and dosage that I was on for years seizure-free, so chances are high that my body just needs a few days to get used to being back to the one med and on the higher dosage.  I'm really hoping that this works, because I'm really tired of this mess.  Especially with Thanksgiving and finals and then Austin coming up.  I need to be well!)

The only reason I went to the hospital is because I fell.  At this point, I'm well aware that the hospitals can't do anything for the seizures, but my neurologist said that falling is one of the few reasons that I should go to the hospital.  I had to get a whole slew of X-rays, which made the body pain even worse, but as soon as those all came back okay, the doc released me and Hannah was there to pick me up.

But today, I'm thankful for the nice people that took care of me at Central.  No one treated me like I was crazy, or a drug addict.  People were nice and attentive.  The doctor listened to me.  The nurse was patient and caring and made me laugh.  The X-ray techs were super friendly and felt so bad they were causing me added pain (wasn't their fault!).  After all the time I've spent in hospitals, not only do I know how difficult their jobs are, but I've had everything from absolutely spectacular to terrible and frustrating care, so I appreciate the good ones that much more.

Here's just hoping I won't have to see the ones around Campbell again anytime soon.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Coming Home

I woke up at 5:45 Central this morning.  Ate the one snack I had left in my bag, and got ready and headed down.  My taxi guy was due to be there at 6:30, but he actually showed up early, which was surprising to me because Kyla had warned me that this service often runs late.  So at 6:30 we were already on our way to the airport.  I was a bit nervous because my flight was due to leave at 7:45 and I was raised under the "must get to the airport at least 2 hours ahead of departure!!!!" mentality.  I didn't realize just how similar to Mom and Mommom I am until I was standing there in the security lane freaking out internally about how slow it was moving.

But everything went off without a hitch, and I had time to buy something else for breakfast and make it to my gate and eat it before boarding even started.  Once I got on the plane, I then realized why Bruno said a 6:30 pickup would be plenty of time...We didn't get off the ground until 8:21.

This is my "it's very, very early and I haven't slept well in four days and I would just like to go home now, please" face.

The one upside to the Nashville-Atlanta flight, as well as the Atlanta-Nashville flight on the way there, was that I was in the window seat of a 3-person row and the middle seat was empty, giving me more space.  I have no idea why I couldn't sleep!  I guess, subconsciously, I didn't see the point since the actual flight was about 35 minutes.

I snapped this a couple minutes after we took off.  Watching the city disappear reminded me of the very first thing that Brennan said when we prayed together on Saturday night - he thanked God for what a special place Nashville has become for me.  And he was absolutely right; this city has a piece of my heart.  Now that I've been, I can't imagine not ever going back again.

I arrived in Atlanta just after 10:00 Eastern, but it took what felt like a sweet forever for us to actually get off the plane, so I huffed and puffed my way from the far, far end of one terminal to close to the other end of the next terminal and managed to get to my Atlanta gate just as boarding was starting.  My only row-mate was this elderly gentleman who initially seemed like the poster child for "grumpy old man", but soon enough we got to talking, and it was really cool.  He's traveled all over the world, and his stories were fascinating.  He turned out to be very nice, which made the plane ride so much fun that I didn't even think about how tired I was.  :)

Holly picked me up, and we went to Smithfield's for lunch.  Mmm mmm mmm.  Smithfield's barbecue sandwiches are one of my favorite things about NC.  It was a great welcome home.  I firmly believe that everyone should visit NC just to go to Smithfield's.  What cracked me up was that I put those last two sentences on Twitter and the Smithfield's Twitter wrote back "Welcome home!"  It's not the first time they've tweeted me, but that reply in particular made me laugh.

After that, we headed back to Campbell.  We had a great time talking the whole way, and she was nice enough to bring me a bottle of shampoo.  I had extra body wash and conditioner in my dorm, but gave up my last bottle of shampoo when the airport confiscated it.  Lesson learned!

I don't remember what else I did today besides getting all my laundry clean and sorting through all my pictures from the trip and getting them uploaded to Facebook.  I honestly don't think I did much else, and I'm totally okay with that.  The super early morning and the traveling were exhausting!

Today, I'm thankful to be home.  Nashville does indeed have a piece of my heart, and it probably always will, but it feels really good to be back with so many friends who love me so much.  I got several texts from people today asking if I made it back okay.  This is where I belong.  Campbell is home, at least for now.  And I'm very, very grateful to be back here in my room.

Oh, and my big soft bed.  I'm also thankful for that.  (It's going to feel like heaven after four nights on that hard hotel couch!)

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Unexpected Answers

I ended up getting stuck in Nashville for an extra night tonight.  There are tornadoes all over the Midwest, and my Nashville-Atlanta flight that was supposed to leave at 6:45 got delayed until 9:54, meaning I would have missed my Atlanta-Raleigh flight entirely because they don't have any middle of the night flights, so my only option was to reschedule everything for tomorrow morning.  Thank the Lord I have the most amazing friends.  Caitie and Bruno turned right around after dropping me off at the airport tonight to pick me back up.  Caitie texted Taylor (while on their honeymoon!), and Kyla called in a favor and got me a free night at the hotel and gave me information about a taxi service that would take me to the airport since I would need to leave long before the free hotel shuttle opens.  And then Caitie gave me money for the taxi because I needed to have money to eat tomorrow morning.

But anyway, what happened today?!

I got up and got ready in the only clothes I had left, because I wasn't expecting to go to church while on this trip.  (Thankfully the church is super casual.)  I packed all my stuff up and went down and checked out and then ate breakfast.  I waited for Bruno to come pick me up, and then we went back to get Caitie, and then we headed to church.

Strong Tower is a church that I've been listening to for several months online at Taylor's recommendation, so I was very excited to actually get to attend a service.

I laughed because the second song we sang included these words.

And I instantly remembered the Scripture that Calah had told me about on Thursday.  It felt like a little message from God, so I took a picture to make sure that I wouldn't forget it.  The church greeted all the new people, and everyone who said hello to me immediately made me feel very welcome.  Danny Gokey (yes, the guy from American Idol) was there to speak a little about his Nashville-based charity, and he sang a song that gave me chills.

I don't remember what else happened after that, because things got a little rough...I ended up having a seizure up in the balcony.  I think it was triggered from how warm it was up there.  You know what's awesome, though?  Apparently Bruno had Caitie go tell one of the security guys that was nearby, and he radioed all the other security guys, who then got all the medical professionals in the building up to help me.  So when I woke up, I had EMTs, nurses, and I don't even know who else helping me.  It's church policy to call 911, so the paramedics had to come check me out.  As we were waiting for them, I heard Pastor Chris (a different one, haha!) get a woman up there to pray for me, and hearing a huge church full of people who didn't know me shouting with prayer for me humbling.  I don't even know how to accurately describe it.

I initially didn't want to go to the hospital, because I figured there wasn't much point, but the EMTs sort of insisted (and I was still too out of it to argue with them) and sort of convinced me that it would be dangerous to get on a plane that night without getting properly checked out.  So off we went.  Bruno and Caitie followed behind the ambulance.

The ER of the hospital we went to was pretty slammed, so it took quite some time for me to see anyone.  And by "quite some time" I mean close to two hours.  These two sweet friends of mine were so patient, though; they wouldn't even go get something to eat, despite not having eaten at all that day, until the doctor came in to see me.

When the doctor came in, they left, and the doctor talked to me and checked me out.  He checked out my shunt and said he didn't like how it felt, so he ordered a shunt series (X-rays from my head to my abdomen, the whole length of the shunt) on top of the usual CT scan.  The nice man also ordered me some Dilaudid and Zofran.  I went to X-ray, Bruno and Caitie came back, and then I went off to CT.  Then, I just had to wait for the results.

This is where the title of today's post comes in.  The doctor walked in the room and told me that shunt/brain-wise I was fine, but that I have a mass on my thyroid.  I reminded him I didn't have a thyroid, since I'd had it removed for tumors in halves in 1999 and 2007.  That was when I learned that if my surgeon left any tissue cells in after the second half removal, that it could regenerate, and with my history of thyroid tumors, easily grow another tumor.  No one had ever told me that before.  So yeah, I get to go back to the ENT I haven't seen in several years (the one who did the second half removal) and see if this doctor was right.  I'm scheduling that for the day after I leave Campbell for Christmas break.  If it is indeed correct that I have another thyroid tumor, it looks like I'll be spending my Christmas break dealing with thyroid surgery.

I'm...I don't know...a bit irritated, I guess.  I had enough health stuff going on, so finding out that I not only had an organ that I thought was gone as of 6.5 years ago but that it also has a new tumor on it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  I don't want to have another surgery.  But I'm so much more thankful than I am upset.  The tumors I had at the past two surgeries were the same non-cancerous kind, so chances are high that if this is a new tumor, that it will also be non-cancerous and thus the only obstacle is getting it out.  By going to the hospital when I thought I didn't need to, by seeing this one particular doctor who didn't like how my shunt felt, I found a problem that I wouldn't have otherwise known about until it became serious (like when I was 6 and we didn't know I had a tumor until you could see it sticking out of my throat).

So today, I'm thankful that the Lord led me to answers.  Even though, to me, it felt like we accidentally found them, I know that this was never an accident to him.  He's got it all planned out.  And His protection is definitely something to be thankful for.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013


Love, love, love, love, love, love.

Wedding day!

I jumped up when my alarm went off at 8.  I'm not sure the last time I woke up at 8:00 on a Saturday, but today, I couldn't have been happier to do it.  I ate breakfast, and then lunch, and then came back and got ready for the wedding!  Caitie picked me up about 1:45.

The venue was this old car factory called Marathon Music Works.  Apparently it now hosts church services on Sundays and is otherwise rented out for events, just like this!  I've heard from Kyla for months that she knew that this place was perfect from the very first time she visited.  The only thing I wasn't a fan of was the walking up four flights of stairs to get into it, but I managed.  Ha!

One thing that I thought was so cool was that Kyla and Taylor managed to have everything in this one room.  It took some reorganizing everything in between the ceremony and reception, but it worked, and it was a little funny.  The whole room was so beautiful, relaxing, and very them.  With the brick walls, the wood floors, the lace and burlap curtains and their fall decorations, it all felt southern without being "country".  I loved it.  This was probably my favorite part of the whole room.  (And that cake?  Handmade by one of her bridesmaids and absolutely AMAZING.  Delicious.)

This was the center of the room, where they stood for the ceremony.  I could not get enough of how stunning the backdrop was in all of its simplicity.

An onslaught of ceremony pictures...from when the pastor, Taylor, and his groomsmen first got in there to after it was all official and everyone was cheering.  I took way more than this, but I figured you didn't need to see them all. :)  Everything that the pastor said, the vows, his words beforehand, it was all so sweet and felt so right for them.  I loved it.  It gave me a new perspective on love and how I want my future marriage to be.

With this one, I could see tears in Kyla's eyes all the way from my seat.

The kiss!

Woo hoo!  This one wasn't meant to be centered on Taylor, haha, but I was not focusing on my camera angle.  Kyla's face cracks me up!

This is Adam, from the Sanctuary band.  He did a beautiful job at all the service music.  I got to speak to him at the reception, and surprisingly, he remembered who I was from last year, even though I only got to speak to him for a few seconds at Sanctuary last year!

Reception pictures!  Bruno!  Yes, he is actually this weird on occasion.  This picture cracks me up every time I see it.

While guests were eating, the bridal party and family were taking pictures.  I love them under the light.  Kyla looked like a princess.

Brother love!  It's been such an honor and a joy to watch these two grow up into even stronger men over the past couple years.

I actually met this guy only today.  His name is Rick.  And I wanted a picture with him because I've heard a lot about him from Taylor, and his mustache/beard combo was just awesome.

Our pretty centerpiece.


My one chance to see the girls this trip.  Callie!  Thankfully, after all this time, they're used to my penchant for pictures. ;)

Joseph..aka Waffles!  It was wonderful to see and talk to him again.  The funny thing is, Joe's wife Anna, who I only spoke to briefly at Waffle House after the CD release show last year, remembered me as "the girl who named Joe Waffles".  Yep!

Phoebe :)

Taylor...yes, he put on a bandana pretty much as soon as the ceremony was over.  It's even in their "couple pictures" right after the ceremony.  It's very Taylor, anyone who knows him knows it.  One of the things I admire in people is the ability to be themselves.

Oh, dear sweet Kyla.  I adore this girl.  I actually didn't even come close to crying until I was talking to her at the end of the night.  I'm so blessed that she stepped into the role of my "surrogate big sister" so quickly and willingly.

Then came what was hands down the most beautiful and incredible part of the night.  Kyla and Taylor ended their wedding celebration in a way that I've never heard of anyone ever do before.  This was also mentioned in their ceremony, but "worship" is a word that is pretty much automatically associated with these two, largely because Kyla is in the Sanctuary band and Taylor has frequented it for so long.  And they are so in love with God that instead of running off right after the reception, they had the Sanctuary band boys hold a time of worship for anyone who wanted to stay and be a part of it.

This is a picture from right before the worship started, Taylor explaining it to everyone.  Through these songs, I was inspired to love my God more, worship better, make Him more of my heart and my life so that He can have full control of me.  It was heart-wrenching in the most amazing and beautiful way.

After that ended and virtually everyone left, people started taking decorations and the band started packing up.  I was able to talk to the Sanctuary boys.  I reminded them that I had given Brooks a card and gift for all of them on Thursday, so that they knew to make sure to get it from him.  But it was just great to be able to talk to them and tell them a little bit about why I am so grateful for them and to encourage them to keep doing what they do for the people of Nashville.

Oh, and I snapped this hilarious picture.  Bromance!  I didn't notice Kyla over there sticking her tongue out until much later, which just makes it even more awesome.

This is my new Facebook cover photo.  I'm so thankful for these five.  They are a gift.

Everything moved a lot faster than I think anyone was planning on or expecting, so I was actually back at my hotel about 6:30.  Not long after that came the icing on the cake.  I got to see Brennan.  Several months ago, he had said we could see each other at some point while I was in town for this weekend, so I texted him when I got into town on Thursday and just told him to let me know when was good for him.  He had told me that it would be tonight or tomorrow because he was out of town for a trip, so I texted him tonight when I was back at the hotel to see if he had a plan.  Not long before 8:00, he showed up in my hotel lobby.

We just sat there for about 45 minutes talking, but it was so great.  It felt like two old friends just reconnecting.  I'll admit, I was a little nervous when I headed down the stairs to the lobby, but I shook it off as excitement.  But we just talked, and it felt natural.  We talked about school, life after graduation, all the health stuff going on, family, where I am in my faith, everything.  When he had to go, we prayed together.  And then he drove me to Logan's so I could get a late dinner, opening and closing the door of his truck for me when I got in and out, which was just sweet.

I know a lot of my friends have been particularly concerned for me in the choices I've made with him, through all the ups and downs and drama, and I know exactly why they were upset every time I gave our friendship another chance, because it seemed like such a terrible idea.  But tonight, seeing him in person again and getting to hang out and talk without any barriers or awkwardness, I was so thankful that I didn't listen to them.  We both had a lot of growing up to do when we first met, and we still do, but I think everything that happened last year taught us both a lot, and now we can just be friends.  Which is all I ever wanted in the first place.

Today, I'm thankful for the inspiration that filled my day.  The inspiration to wait for a love that's real and deep and a relationship that will further my walk with Christ, that I saw in Kyla and Taylor.  The inspiration to know God deeper and love God more that I found in the worship time.  The inspiration to be a better friend, and also to listen to my gut even when the people who love me tell me I'm being stupid, that I was reminded of in the time I got to talk to Brennan tonight.

I am a blessed girl.

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Friday, November 15, 2013


Friday, I slept in because I did not sleep well on the hard hotel couch.  I kept waking up feeling like someone was breaking my kneecaps.  It was fun.  And I didn't have anywhere else to be that morning, so why not?

I finally managed to wake myself up about 2:00 that afternoon.  I ate some of the snacks I had in my bookbag and basically just chilled out until Michal came to pick me up just before 4:00.  I mentioned her several times last year.  She is a sweet girl that I met very briefly at Sanctuary, but we stayed in contact and from the first phone conversation we had, we were instant sisters.  We are so much alike that I knew spending the whole evening with her was going to be grand.  What I didn't expect was how it would give us the chance to connect on a completely new level.

She picked me up, and we went to Starbucks for happy hour.  She got some latte, and since I hate coffee, I got peppermint hot chocolate, and it was delicious.  We were sitting there talking about all sorts of random stuff, but mostly how fascinated Michal is with all the different languages of Siri.  Then, she was texting her Nashville dad, Wade, and he invited us over to his house for his youngest son's birthday party.  I was up for whatever Michal wanted to do, so we headed over.

Their house was SO MUCH FUN.  Funnily enough, Wade's family's last name is also Jones.  They had three families that they are friends with over, and I had a blast with all of them.  They were loud and fun and seemed to enjoy asking me a  bunch of questions and hearing me tell them about myself and my story.  One woman in particular and I spent a lot of time sitting in the study and talking until she had to go.  I also got to hear a lot about Michal's love and the people she spends a lot of her time with.  I sort of didn't want to leave.  I asked Wade if he could adopt me.  Ha!

This is Wade.  Ignore the fact that my eyes are closed...I didn't realize it until late that night when I was already back in my hotel room.

And this is beautiful, dear, sweet Michal.  Wade took this picture for us.  I love it.  It's my new profile picture on Facebook.  :)

We left Wade's house sometime not long after 7:00, and we went back to Michal's place for dinner.  She made me this amazing chicken fettucini alfredo with ginger and nutmeg, and we just talked.  About her love, about my family, about her family, school, relationships, God, friends, sex, SO MUCH.  And I don't think we stopped laughing the entire time.  I really didn't want to leave, but at about 9:30, she took me back to the hotel.  She was exhausted from getting very little sleep the night before, and I knew I needed to be well-rested and up early for Saturday.  But before we left, she made me this for dessert.

Vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate syrup and chocolate crunch toppings.  YUM.

Once back at the hotel, I did the usual getting ready for bed, shower, blah blah blah, and laid down on the couch once again with another huge smile on my face.  How could I not?  Between the joy of having an evening that wonderful with Michal and the anticipation of Saturday, I didn't know how I was ever going to get to sleep, but I eventually did.

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