Friday, January 31, 2014

And He spoke.

Ah, man.  When you're in the middle of something really hard and painful, that thing people tell you about how "God's mercies are new every morning", it doesn't really give much comfort.  It's like, it's great that it might be better tomorrow, but I want it to be better right NOW, you know?  But as time goes on, I'm learning that all those phrases that, before I was a Christian, I thought were just trite, Christianese junk....are actually true.  Wonders never cease! ;)

Last night was so amazing and so hard at the same time.  When I fell asleep, I sort of felt like I was at the bottom of a really tall ladder.  But somehow, the vast majority of today, I have had a massive grin on my face.  It makes absolutely no sense to me how God could have given me such an awesome day today after how dirty and destroyed I felt last night, but, well, that's God for ya.

This is Reafe.  He's one of the soccer boys that I met last fall after the games, and we became Facebook friends (as I did with several of the guys).  I wanted to know something about him other than how he can kick a ball, and he wanted to know something about me other than that I like to watch soccer (haha!) so we got together for lunch today.  I was honestly expecting it to be nothing, but God used our time together to speak straight to me in such a crazy way.

We were talking about my friendships with the guys on the team, and how impressed (and, really, amazed) I was at what great people they were.  He told me how he and the other guys see me, and what it meant to them that I came out to every game that I could despite the stuff that I was dealing with last fall.  He was surprised when I mentioned that sometimes I couldn't believe that they were friends with me and cared about me and several of them had prayed for me.  So I told him about some of the stuff from my past and what that did to my self-esteem and confidence, and he just straight out asked me, "Are you close to God?"  That's some boldness.  Then he told me something that I knew immediately was God speaking, "Because if you're close to God, if you read the Bible, what everyone else says won't matter.  You won't care."  Boom.

We talked about so much, to the very last minute that he walked with me to Dr. Steegar's building (which is where we took the above picture).  This isn't something I've ever really done with people the first time I hang out with them, but for some reason, I felt lead to ask him if I could pray with him before I went into class.  He said yes, so we did.  That's the awesome part about going to a Christian school - two people can pray right out in the open and no one thinks it's weird.  Heck, Tunji, another soccer guy had walked up just a minute before, and he just stood there patiently and waited.  This isn't the first time I've been able to do that, but it's never lost on me how cool it is to have this freedom and not be harassed.

You know what made my day, though?  Reafe asked me if I was going to go to the one home game the boys have this spring, and I said yes, of course, I was, that Chirag told me about it a couple weeks ago and it was already in my calendar.  He smiled and said "Good, because you're practically a member of the team...well, not a member, but.." and I said "I'm like the team's sister," and he said "Yes!  You're our sister!  You're adopted."  Tunji agreed with him later, and I even jokingly texted it to Justin and asked him if it was a fair comment, and he said "I would say that's fair!" :D  I do love my soccer boys.

French class was.....French class.  I couldn't have fun transcribing videos if it weren't for Dr. Steegar and Pam.  We laugh hysterically the entire time.  I only wish Ryann were there to enjoy it!

And then, this evening, I spent some time emailing with the same friend who I mentioned in last night's post.  I had written her to tell her I finally realized how right she had been, and she responded to remind me that she didn't judge me and that she loves me unconditionally.  She had some incredibly powerful and true words about mercy and forgiveness and grace that were, again, God using my friends to speak to me.  He's so faithful.

She also sent me this song...which is exactly what I needed, and what I would have put on last night's post if I had had it then.  I FaceTimed with Alexis tonight to tell her about everything that happened last night and today, and when I told her about honestly how disgusted I was with myself last night when all the realizations were washing over me, she took the time to encourage me on the line between conviction and condemnation, and I told her that I knew.  That in the midst of how upset I was with myself, I couldn't stop thinking about how incredible it is that God still loved me the same despite how wrong I'd gotten everything.  And the fact that He would give me such an incredible day after everything that happened last night?  It's just mind-boggling, to see that I'm loved that much by the One who is sheer perfection.

I just looked up today
And realized how far away I am from where You are
You gave me life worth dying for
But between the altar and the door
I bought the lies that promised more
And here I go again

Lord, I know I let You down
But somehow, I will make You proud
I'll turn this sinking ship around
And I'll make it back to You

But all my deeds and my good name
Are just dirty rags that tear and strain
To cover all my guilty stains 
That You already washed away

'Cause all You've ever wanted, all You've ever wanted
All You've ever wanted was my heart
Freedom's arms are open, my chains have all been broken
Relentless love has called me from the start
And all You wanted was my heart

Well, I was chasing healing when I'd been made well
I was fighting battles when You conquered hell
Living free but from a prison cell
Lord, I lay it down today

And I'll stop living off of how I feel
And start standing on Your truth revealed
Jesus is my strength, my shield
And He will never fail me

'Cause all You've ever wanted, all You've ever wanted
All You've ever wanted was my heart
Freedom's arms are open, my chains have all been broken
Relentless love has called me from the start
And all You wanted was my heart

No more chains, I've been set free
No more fighting battles You've won for me
Now in Christ, I stand complete

All You've ever wanted, all You've ever wanted
All You've ever wanted was my heart
Freedom's arms are open, my chains have all been broken
Relentless love has called me from the start
And all You wanted was my heart

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

On My Knees

Fair warning, this post is going to be all over the place, probably more so than my usual ranting and emptying of my mind.  I have a lot to get out.

I spent years waiting for boys to tell me I'm pretty, so focused that I missed the gentle whispers of a King who says "You're beautiful."

This is something I wrote back on August 21 on Twitter.  If I remember correctly, I had no idea at the time why that particular thought popped in my head when it did, but I put it out there anyway because, well, apparently that's what Twitter is for.  (The blessing and the curse of social media...but I won't get started on that.)

I'm just going to get right to the point and say that I don't believe I'm worthy of being loved.  Even after everything God has revealed to me in the past few years, I can't wrap my mind around the idea that I am worthy of being loved.  By Him, or by any of the people around me, even when they fight like their lives depend on it to prove me just how deeply they do love me.

There are probably a plethora of reasons for this.  The bullying I dealt with on a daily basis for most of my childhood.  Growing up without an earthly father and without realizing I had a Heavenly one.  The depression that runs in my family (thanks, genetics).  My penchant for being way too hard on myself.  It's probably a combination of those, actually.  I don't really know.  Your guess is as good as mine.  What I do know is that my sin has warped this into a vicious cycle that doesn't even make sense to me.  I don't believe I'm worthy of being loved, so I push away and don't believe anyone who tells me they love me, but when they're gone I crave so desperately to feel loved I think my heart my actually explode out of my chest.  I sabotage relationships before the other person has the chance to hurt me like I am so certain they will, yet I ache to have authentic relationships in my life.  Just putting words to that makes me think I am insane.

The first night that I FaceTimed with Alexis, in her prayer over me, she prayed that God would bring me to a moment where I just fell face down before Him...yeah, that happened tonight.  Tonight I watched Sanctuary like I do every Thursday night that I am able to, and once again, God used that band to hit me like a ton of bricks.  The last song ended, they prayed over Adam and Colin whose last night with the band was tonight, and instead of pulling up my blog to start the post for the night like I normally would...I collapsed.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a very detailed email, trying to open my eyes to some concerns she had about where my heart was and wrong motivations she felt were taking over my heart and seeping through my words.  I didn't hear her then; in fact, I was quite hurt.  What else do I expect when I tell my friends I want them to be 100% honest with me always, though, really?  Well, tonight, I got what she was saying.  I understood it in a way that was so beautiful and painful at the same time that I can't even describe it.

She was motivations over the past few months, they've been all wrong.  Even more so in real life than you could see on this blog.  Despite the fact that it was never in any way my intention, I was using the health issues that I've been dealing with to get praise, to get people to glorify me instead of the One who is the ONLY reason I am still standing.  I've been seeking validation from boys who were never meant to fill my needs instead of the King who loved me when I didn't believe He existed and, even more importantly, when I hated Him.  I subconsciously convinced myself that He wasn't enough, all the while leading people to believe that I am some great Christian who only wants to turn people to Him.

Ugh, I've never felt this kind of disgusted with myself before.  How many times is it going to take for me to get it right?  How can I wonder why God hasn't brought me a boyfriend yet when I'm still acting as though that guy is going to save me?  How can I walk through this life, living beyond all medical explanation, and not see that God is ENOUGH?  How can I tell people about Jesus but actively spit in the face of the Lord who gave up everything to ransom me from the enemy who had such a grip on my soul for so, so long?

THIS is why we can't live by the Law.  The Law will lead us straight into destroying ourselves and self-loathing if we don't see the Grace and Mercy that come along with it, because we're never going to get it right all the time.  I know I'm going to make this mistake again (and again and again and again)...but I just thought that that was the old me.  I thought I was past the point where I let myself look to guys for validation.  I thought I wasn't the girl who thought a boyfriend would be what made me happy with my life.  I thought I already was happy with my life...but clearly not in all areas, as I've been running away from God without even knowing that's what I was doing, even when friends try to open my eyes to the truth.

When did I lose sight of who God is and how deeply He loves me?  When did I forget what He did for me almost 22 months ago at Sanctuary, and again when He brought me back there in November?  How did I get so pathetically off-target that I became all over again the girl who thought people could save me?  If I ever want to believe that other people love me and not be terrified of it, I have to first believe that He loved me first and loves me most.  And I have to love Him most, too.  Because these people...they're gifts from God.  They aren't Him.  They won't save me.  They can't fix me.  They can't heal the pieces of my heart that have ached with the burning rawness of wounds that have yet to heal.  And they won't mean a darn thing in eternity aside from the fact that we'll get to worship at His feet together.

I was on my knees tonight for two polarizing reasons.  Ashamed and disgusted with myself and utterly heartbroken at how I've been rejecting God...and moved to tears at remembering that He loves me despite me.  His grace washes over the past few months, and I know that when He looks at me, He is not angry.  I am forgiven.  I don't understand how I can be forgiven.  I know I shouldn't be, by any human standards, at least.  But that is who He is, and for that, I rejoice.

Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes to my mistakes and for loving me through them.  I'd be dead without it.

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

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Brighter Shining Still

A friend told me that he feels closest to God when he's out on a walk in nature, because it's just him and the sights and sounds around him with no distractions.  I felt that tonight.  It feels crazy to say it, like someone might think I'm trying a little too hard to be poetic or deep or whatever, but it's true.  I felt God on my walk tonight.

I've become a little obsessed with panoramic photos (thank you, iPhone).  I stopped to take this photo, and I paused for a second.  I remembered all the times I've walked this path and never stopped to really look.  The fall that I spent flying through here in my power chair, because I didn't have to deal with curbs.  All the sunny days I saw my fellow Camels just living life.  The times I nearly got whacked by footballs and Frisbees by guys who didn't notice me.  Girls studying.  Couples cuddling against the trees or on blankets.  Running to get dinner in the pouring rain, praying I didn't slip on the bricks.  All the times I did slip on the bricks, even on the dry days when I just didn't pay attention to how uneven they were.  Going over to Austin's room late at night.  But I never noticed just how beautiful this courtyard is.

I didn't even brush my hair before I left.  Why bother, when I was putting on the softest hat I've ever seen given to me when I was in Texas?  And underneath that hoodie, I had the same t-shirt I slept in.  But that face, that's joy right there.  And people told me I looked beautiful.  Sometimes you just exude happiness, and I was more at peace tonight than I've been in a long time.

Butler Chapel.

D. Rich



As I walked, I thought about the first time I stepped foot on this campus, back in April 2009, and how, as I walked the same paths that I was walking tonight, I knew I was home.  How I could immediately see myself living here.  How I fell in love with a campus and a university that, little did I know, would completely and utterly change my life over the next few years.  I stopped in front of D Rich and Pearson, places that I've spent hours upon hours learning from professors who pushed me in all the ways I needed it and friends who showed me how to love myself the way they did from the beginning.  And Taylor, a building that I had two Religion classes in, and then went back to to accidentally find some brothers I didn't know I needed.  And I felt God reminding me that even though I felt heartbroken when I didn't get into William & Mary, He knew all along that Buies Creek was exactly where I needed to be.  It's where I belonged.  And tonight, I got to see the place that I love so very much shine.

This seems like a weird photo to take, I know, but I had good reason.  You can't see it well in photos, but the snow?  It sparkled.  Like, it literally sparkled.  It's as if God put glitter in it.  I've seen snow before, but I never noticed that.  Or maybe I have before, but God needed to remind me of it tonight.  If God can make things like clean, soft, fluffy snow that sparkles in the light of the lamps, who am I to think He doesn't know me?  That He doesn't know every last detail of who I am and the things that make my soul come alive?  He knows me.

Everywhere I went, there weren't just signs of all the people who'd been out enjoying the weather over the past 24 hours.  People had written about Campbell.  So I wrote something of my own.  Every year, every month, every week, I learn just how real the Campbell family is.  And as I saw all the places that love for Campbell had been written in the snow, I couldn't help but smile.  Aside from a handful of freshmen each year who seem to misunderstand what they learned about Campbell before they showed up who transfer after their first semester (but what school doesn't have freshmen like that?), I've never met anyone who was sorry that they chose Campbell.  Campbell proud is more than just a phrase or a saying or a hashtag on Twitter.  You step foot in the Creek, and it's everywhere.

"You know what's tripping me out?  This line, between the two years.  It's his whole life.  Everything that happened is in that line." "What are you gonna do with your line?" - Glee (The Quarterback)

I've been thinking about this since the clock hit midnight.  I don't ever forget this day, and I pray that I never do because things like this are just about all I have.  I thought a lot about him on my walk, too, and wondering if he can see me.  I will never know if he's in heaven or not, but the possibility of it and the hope that comes along with that is what I have to hold on to.  Jesus came so that I could have hope and joy even in the midst of terrible things like cancer and girls growing up without the dad who so desperately wanted to be there.  Either way, he's my dad, and it's his birthday, and I will celebrate.  I know that he loved me, and every day, I pray that he's proud of who I am and where I am in life.  I know that he didn't stop fighting when he was sick because he knew he had us, and I like to think I got some of my fighting spirit from him.  And as I knelt down in the snow and felt the freezing cold and the wet seep through my jeans, I didn't care because I wanted to leave a couple marks for him, even if it's all going to melt away tomorrow.  So Dad, that was for you.  I hope you could see it.  I love you.  Happy birthday.

When I got back to my dorm, I didn't want to go back inside quite yet.  So I went next to the dorm, in the big open space between Burkot and McCall...and I laid down.  Right there in the snow.  And I stared at the sky and thought about how maybe God knew I needed this walk tonight to slow down and forget everything else that has been weighing on me.  The work, the questions, the stress, the fights, the heartache, the fear, nothing else really mattered as I laid there and just thanked the Lord for giving me that time to reflect on how truly blessed I am.  God is right here, right now, moving to bring me to the mountaintop, if only I would just let Him carry me sometimes instead of always trying to fight through the exhaustion and make it there on my own.  Most of the time He's just walked beside me, waiting for me to own up to my shortcomings, other times He's knocked me down so I could understand just how desperately I needed His help.  No matter what He's doing, though, He's been here.  Whether I wanted it or not, whether I realized it or not.

And tonight?  Tonight, He laid with me, right there in the snow.  And my whole world shined brighter than it has in a long time.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Well, this is unusual.

All classes after 2 pm were canceled today (which meant I didn't have class at all today because my only Tuesday class is at 6 pm, ha!) because the forecast called for snow.

Here's the thing about North Carolina, though: we hear that a lot.  Like, a lot.  And it almost never, ever is as bad as the news says it will be.  In fact, a vast majority of the time they call for snow, there is none! Exhibit A: last week.

But for days now, eastern NC has been projected to get snow.  ALL of eastern NC.  Even down on the coast, which is all sorts of bizarre.  So imagine the great joy at this.

That would be the picture out the back door of my dorm right now.  It's beautiful.  It's only been about 3 inches so far, but that is way beyond what we're used to, and it's supposed to continue through about noon, and it won't be melting tomorrow night as it'll be 10 degrees.  All of tomorrow's classes are canceled.  (Side note: there was a gigantic snowball fight in the center of campus at midnight.  I didn't go, but I think that's awesome.)  I plan on taking a walk tomorrow to get some pictures of campus, because it's beautiful enough on a sunny day, so I know a snow-covered Campbell is going to be stunning.  And besides, this is such a rare thing, I want to remember it!

The timing of this worked out quite well because I spent the afternoon throwing up.  It was awful.  I couldn't even sleep despite taking a load of Phenergan, even when I was sprawled out on the bathroom floor huddled up under my comforter because I was freezing on the cold tile.  Then the hot flashes would come.  Finally about 9:30 I stopped feeling so terrible and managed to down some soup.  Hallelujah for Mom having dropped off a ton of her beef and cabbage soup (which I LOVE) on her way back from Raleigh Sunday.  I don't know what was wrong with me, because I feel pretty much normal now.

Tomorrow, aside from the walk, which will probably be after I go get lunch, I'm going to stay curled up in my pajamas and try to catch up on all the reading I'm behind on.  But for now, I sleep!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

One of Those Days

Where I'm sitting here staring at the computer screen trying to form a coherent thought.

And then I start thinking about how I really need to start making coherent thoughts because my research proposal is due at noon.

And I haven't written a word of it.

But instead I'm sitting here eating a snack waiting for it to hit midnight so I can make a very special phone call.

And then I'll start writing.

Even though all I really want to do is curl up in the fetal position and go to sleep.

Not write a paper I don't totally understand how to write.

Yep, it's one of those days.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crushes...aren't bad.

I should've known yesterday's post would be the one to garner a bigger response than usual.  Who wants to hear a 21-year-old single girl talk about God when you can hear her talk about boys and crushes?  (Kidding!! :p)

It just made me smile because I got an email from a friend today in response to the post, telling me her own boy story, and she really gets me because she's never had a boyfriend either, and literally while I was trying to respond to her email, I got a semi-frantic (but only jokingly) Facebook message from another friend who also read the post and had to tell me her own current story.  I dealt with the Facebook message because it's immediate response and I knew she'd have to go to bed soon before I got back to the email, but it worked okay because I ended up telling them basically the same exact thing.

Don't hate yourself for having a crush on this guy.  Beating yourself up does nothing but make you feel guilty and like crap about yourself which is absolutely 100% pointless.  You can't help how you feel about this guy, and who can tell at this point if you aren't getting these feelings for a reason?  Crushes are just that...crushes.  Either it will become something more, or you'll move past it.

When did I become the calm and logical one?! #feeler #emotionstendtorunme

Yes, I just used hashtags in a blog post.  Deal.  ;)

I know they'll both be fine.  They're smart girls.  After I'd responded to both of them, I couldn't help but smile at God's timing.  Just one day after having all this boy stuff running around in my head and feeling like I was alone in the emotions coursing through me, two of my dear friends reach out and, in essence, tell me I'm not alone.  That they get it.  That I'm not a freak.  And that's a really good feeling.

I've also been sitting here thinking about what I told them.  You can't help how you feel.  Lord knows I've heard that more times than I can count in my life.  It's funniest when I have my guy friends say it.  And I know from experience that in the moment, when someone is telling you that, it sounds like nothing but a bunch of words, the kind of thing people say when they don't know what else to say.  But I try really hard not to be one of those "I don't know what to say so I'm gonna say something trite that will be totally useless to you" kind of people, like, ever, so when I said it to these girls, I meant it.  And as I've sat here thinking, I've realized that, as it turns out, it's a cliché that is actually quite true.  You can't manufacture feelings (thanks for that line, CS Lewis), and you can't wish them away, either.  Things will just...change.  That boy in the post yesterday lost my attention a while back to a much more attainable guy (meaning he doesn't have a girlfriend, so hooray for that).

Females...we want to be desired.  It's how we were made.  To me, a crush is someone you want to desire you.  Who are we to question how God made us?  I don't think there is anything whatsoever wrong with having a desire to love a man, and to want him to love you in return.  As my friend/Reformation brother Hunter put it (post here), "Jesus did not come to be our romantic lover, but rather our Savior and Lord.  I do certainly believe that Jesus (or God, the Trinity's complicated) can satisfy romantic desire, but not through prayer and the reading of Scripture; rather, He can provide the right mate for us through His Sovereign will."  AMEN.

There's a video from Jeff Bethke and his wife Alyssa (here) that I also really love.  They talk about why it's okay to want to date someone, even if you're not intending on marrying them, like, tomorrow (which is also something my friend and I discussed in our emails).  Yes, marriage is the ultimate intent, and I agree that you shouldn't date anyone that you couldn't see yourself marrying one day.  But as Jeff and Alyssa put it, you also don't have to marry the first person you meet.  Dating, and by proxy having the desire to date someone and be with them, will teach you not only about what you want in the person you do marry one day, it will prepare you to be a better spouse for them, and break-ups and failed relationships will draw you closer to God.  And I think that having a crush on a friend is also a way to figure out what you want and don't want and places that you need to grow and improve in, because chances are you know your crush on some personal friendship level.

I'm not saying I have it all figured out.  These are just my thoughts.  But if you're reading this and dealing with a similar situation to that of me and my two friends, just take a breath, tell yourself you're not crazy and this is natural.  You're not alone, and it's going to work out.  I know that much.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Isn't it messed up how I'm just dyin' to be her?

(Thanks, Twitter, for bringing me back to a song I haven't listened to in close to a decade...)

So there's this boy...

Well, he's much more than a boy, I've been watching him grow into a man, but calling him a boy sounds all cutesy, doesn't it?

Anyway, I've known him for a little while now.  We're not super close, but we know each other well enough for me to know that he's pretty incredible.  I've not just noticed how he acts with me, but also with others.  Classmates.  Friends.  Professors.  Even strangers.  He's a rare breed.

I've also known since day one that he's had a girlfriend since long before we started getting close.  I don't know her, but as far as I can tell, they're happy and very cute together.  And I've always told myself that I would never fall for taken guys, they're one of two groups I promised myself I'd never go after - the other being my sisters' exes...and we all know how that worked out for me.  So knowing from the beginning that, if he were single, he's exactly the kind of guy I'd be interested in, I tried really hard to keep myself held back.  (Yeah.  I know.)

I got pretty smitten with him pretty early on.  He's one of those guys that tends to be a little flirtatious with every girl he knows, despite his relationship status, and this newbie couldn't separate the "it's just how he is" from "oh man, he's adorable".  They were just little things, you know.  Like how he'd hold onto me for just a second longer than necessary when I gave him a hug.  Or how he'd grab my hand and squeeze it and smile anytime we said goodbye.  But enough to make me get the butterflies.  Ohhhh, the butterflies.  Pesky little things, aren't they?

But then I got up a nerve to send in a question about him to an anonymous online advice column.  The responder gave me a good and much-needed reality check about him and the whole scenario, and I calmed down after that.  I didn't see him so much over the next few weeks/month because my health got so crazy, and I just sort of...moved on.  Funny how crushes work. ;)  I even saw him again last week and still felt like I was over it.  So yay, right?

For some reason, though, I've been sitting here tonight thinking about him...and her...and, as the title of this post says, sort of just dying to be her.  Don't ask me why.  I haven't seen him.  Heck, I haven't seen anyone today!  Maybe it's because another friend of mine got engaged today, and it feels like everywhere I turn people I know are in serious relationships headed for engagement.  Maybe it's me trying to distract myself from the guy I know I have feelings for.  Maybe it's just me dying to be somebody's girl, wondering why God is taking so long, if I really am the only 21-year-old girl in America who's never had a boyfriend outside of, like, the Duggars. (Yes, I know I'm not, I'm just venting.)

I wish I knew why this came on out of the blue.  I wish I knew when I'll get to be that girl.  I wish I knew where that guy is, or what it'll take for me to get to him.  I wish I had the resilience to be okay with waiting.  I wish I had the peace to not be jealous of other girls.  Most days I do, but some days...some days, I'm just dying to be her.

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Friday, January 24, 2014


First, I would just like to state for the record that, according to, it is currently eleven degrees colder here than it is in Minneapolis. Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I'm about to go hop on a plane to upstate New York to join my friend at HER university because it's about the same temperature there as it is here and at least they get snow with their bitter cold.  THIS IS NOT OKAY.  I had to break down and go spend $43 to buy a new sweatshirt at the bookstore on the way to class this morning because the zipper on my NC State sweatshirt broke the day I left for Texas and I don't own any long-sleeved shirts (because it's only been recently that I have ever been cold. EVER. Not even kidding.  Usually I can get by just fine with short-sleeved shirts and a hoodie/sweatshirt/light jacket) and you can NOT walk out into "feels like 7 degrees" without a jacket that zips.  I WANT MY 60 DEGREE WINTERS BACK. NOW NOW NOW!!!!!!

Okay, carry on.

This is Clayton.  He's one of my Reformation brothers.  You 'member him?  Yeah, you 'member. (said in the voice of Michelle from Full House...just go with it)

He's a good one.  He's one of the ones I really wanted to make sure I kept up relationships with this semester, and thankfully, that hasn't been an issue so far.  We've gotten together for lunch a couple times now, and I earnestly hope that it continues throughout our last few months at Campbell, because talking to him is always a joy.  We're both rather introspective people who love to learn and read a lot, so each time we have the chance to talk, whether on Facebook, via text, or in person, we almost immediately jump into deep conversation.  But my favorite part about Clayton is that he can take very serious subjects, such as what Paul says about prayer, and throw humor in in a way that I learn so much and crack up laughing at the same time.

What Clayton told me about Paul and prayer was actually a really good lesson for me.  I have a terrible tendency to treat prayer as just one more item on my daily to-do list, like how parents teach their kids to say their prayers before they go to bed.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, not at all, but I'd say it's long past time I got out of that mindset.  Paul says to "pray without ceasing", but as Clayton put it, "I've got things to do!"  I can't get Clayton's example out of my head: treat prayer like making a phone call, and just don't hang up the phone.  Keep that line of communication open all day, not only so I can continue to talk to God throughout whatever I do and wherever I go in the day, but also so He can speak to me!  After all, "when you make a phone call to a friend or relative, you don't just talk at them and then hang up.  Why should God be any different?"

The other topic that we talked about at lunch today was the issue of credit and pride.  I told him about how when people come to me to tell me what knowing me has done for them or how it has helped them, I often tell them flat out that it isn't me, that it's all God.  Clayton really opened my eyes to another angle of this that I haven't seen until now, probably thanks to my incessant penchant for beating up on myself, even when it's seriously uncalled for.  He told me that while yes, God is the One who should get the glory for the good that comes out of our lives, we shouldn't diminish the fact that we play a part in the plan that He has for the world.  He then pointed me to this story in Esther, which I then came back and looked up on my nifty little phone Bible.

Mordecai asked Esther to go to the king to plead for the survival of the Jewish people, and she responded, naturally, with hesitation, because the commonly-known rule was that anyone who went before the king without being called would be killed, even her, his queen.  But Mordecai was not shy about telling her that if she didn't, the Jewish people would still be saved another way (because they are God's people), but she would perish.  And then came the question that was Clayton's point in telling me this story.  "Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

I in no way intend to imply that I'm here to save a people.  But just as Mordecai called Esther out on her fear and hesitation, so did Clayton for me, whether he realized it or not, when he said three simple words to me this afternoon in Chick-Fil-A.  He chose you.  Do I understand why He chose me?  Not at all.  I pray that the day that I think I understand that or feel qualified for this is the day that God Himself comes down to smack me in the face.  Thanks to my conversation with Clayton today, I finally don't feel like it's a sin to be proud that God chose me for this life and this story.  He could have picked someone else, yet He saw me in all of my flaws and fear, all the days I didn't want Him to have picked me for this, and knowing it would take me 19 years to even begin to want to serve Him and the purpose He had when He ordained my creation, and chose me anyway.

And guess what.  He chose you for something, too.  Something great.  We're not all going to save a people, in fact the vast majority of us won't even come close, but what each of us is here for is equally fantastic because it's what the King of the universe called us for.

So if there's one thing I could say to you today, it'd be this.  When you think about what God might be calling you to in this life, and it seems daunting and impossible and some days downright terrifying, be not afraid.  You were born for this.

(Also for the record, it took me much longer than necessary to write this post because I've been rocking out to Queen as I wrote.  So clearly, I don't have it all figured out.)

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

When I don't feel like it.

Last week, I was texting a friend about how I was feeling in all of the health stuff that has been piling up the past few months.  Because I'm terrible at putting up a facade in any circumstance, and I knew she was kind and would care, I was open about what I've been struggling with, in both facing the issues themselves and the impact they had on my faith.  Her response felt quite harsh at the time.  Without even pulling out my phone, I can tell you that part of it said, "Quit thinking about you.  Start thinking about God."  I felt completely invalidated, and started to wonder if I I was a terrible Christian because I was feeling upset and hurt and all of those other things.

I started reading Angie Smith's newest book Chasing God last night.  Chapter 4 is all about feelings versus willpower, and let me tell you, it flipped my perspective on its head.  Something I have mentioned to a few friends lately is that I've felt like my prayers have been hitting the ceiling, and that I haven't felt God's presence when I really need to now like I have in the past.  The texts from that friend were rattling around my head, causing me to question what I was doing with my faith and if I was losing grip of everything that has been my rock in the past almost-two years.  And then I saw these two quotes.

"People are often worried...they are told they ought to love God.  They cannot find any such feelings in themselves.  What are they to do?  The answer is the same as before.  Act as if you did.  Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings.  Ask yourself, 'If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?'  When you have found the answer, go and do it." - C.S. Lewis

"The mistake we make is in assuming our feelings indicate the quality of our faith." - Angie Smith, "Chasing God" page 84

Boom.  Whether or not I feel like God is here doesn't change the fact that He is.  And whether or not I feel in love with God doesn't change the fact that I surrendered myself to Him in that big, strange-yet-familiar Nashville church 21.5 months ago.  Feelings change; facts don't.  The knowledge that I am His and that His love for me spreads further than I can ever imagine is something that will be true from now until I am face down at His throne, praising Him for all He's done.

This feeler is learning that God doesn't really care about my feelings.  He cares about my heart.  And as Angie says in her book, He cares about my obedience.  He cares that I trust Him even when I'm confused, and even when I feel like another way besides His way is better.  He cares that I obey what He asks of me even when I'm not sure it's Him doing the asking.  He cares that I say "I don't see You, but I am believing You see me." (also page 84 of Chasing God)

That last sentence there, that's probably the hardest part of all of this for me.  When I'm feeling (there's that word again!) abandoned, I have a much too high tendency to just shut down and pretend that whoever I feel has done the abandoning isn't there anymore.  If I think you've abandoned me, then I'm going to turn my back on you, too.  One of the things that friend who sent me those seemingly-painful texts last week said was that I had to keep talking to God, anyway.  In retrospect, I realize that that is the only way this tough time could further my relationship with Him, but at the time, I just blew it off.  What was I going to say?  Why would I say things I didn't feel like I meant to a God who knew everything I felt before I ever said a word, anyway?

Now, I'm beginning to see that the reason I need to keep talking to God even when I don't feel like it isn't because He wants to know what's going on with me.  He already knows what's going on with me.  (That whole omniscient thing kind of comes in handy.)  It's because He craves relationship with each of His children.  He wants to hear from me so that I stay closer to Him than anything else.

If I follow what God is calling me to do and where He is calling me to go even when I don't feel like it, the feelings will come (eventually), the stress and anxiety will die, and I will find rest in the One who ransomed my soul.

(I can't wait to see what else I learn as I finish this book!!!)

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Humble Confidence

I got this question today from a friend.  How do you personally stay humbled, but not feel guilty?  Like stay away from self-righteousness but feel confident?

And that's the first time in a while that I've been just outright asked a question like that, about living as a believer.  I think this one is a very important question, though, and it's one I've definitely struggled with, as well as one I think all believers have to figure out at some point along their walk.

I won't even bother getting into my initial reaction of shock that someone thought I was worth going to for advice (because Lord knows that topic's been beaten into the ground on this blog and in several other places).  Instead, I want to talk about what I've said to this friend tonight.

"I remind myself every time I start to get arrogant that any gifts I have to share with others, any ways that I've been able to help others, is because the Lord gave me those gifts and set me up in those situations.  I hold on tight to John 15:5 - 'apart from me, you can do nothing.'  I think the root of the problem, for all of us, is when you lose sight of your identity.  Arrogance comes when you forget that you were made by God, and that He knows you better than you know yourself.  When you remember that you are God's first, you put yourself second to that.  Don't shy away from who you are and what you can do, just keep the reminder of the One who made it all possible at the forefront."

And when they asked me if it ever got easier...

"It depends on how long it takes you to realize there's a lesson to go along with it and to pay attention to that lesson.  It's always gonna sting, humans are prideful little things, but you'll learn more and more that it's worth it.  He's pruning you, bud."

When they said they hoped it didn't take so long for them to get it next time...

"It's okay if it does.  You're gonna get it wrong, far more times than you would like, but His grace will cover you.  He won't love you any less or any differently whether it takes you one more time to figure it out or a thousand more."

The funny thing is...while I wrote these things aiming to help that friend, there were lessons in the words I had for him for me, too.  In fact, I could apply those lessons to this very situation of answering a question that my friend had for me.  Sometimes, when people come to me for help, afterwards, I can feel really good about myself that I was able to help them, or that they wanted me to help them, or that they needed me at all.  And I get to ride that high for a while...until it backfires.  Until the time that I give my advice in a place it wasn't wanted.  Until the time that I give my advice, people follow it, and things get ugly.

If I don't want to get the blame when things go wrong, I don't get to seek the credit when things go right.

We all have gifts and talents, yes.  But they're things the Lord gave us.  And just like everything else that we are blessed with in this life, God didn't just decide to give them to us for our own benefit and pleasure.  We have them so that we can serve better.  Serve our friends.  Serve strangers.  But most of all, serve HIM.  The balance of humility and confidence, I believe, lies in the knowledge that we can do good things, and we should, but in doing those things, we are also tasked with the responsibility of keeping our hearts in the right place.

It's not about us.  It was never about us.  It's about what He does through each of us, individually and together, to further His kingdom, to bring others to Him, to help believers fall more in love with Him each and every day until we're dancing together in Heaven.

We need to keep that in mind, but we're not always going to.  And the good news is that God already knows we're going to forget.  And He loves us just the same!  I've found that the ones who are willing to admit where they get it wrong and where they fall short are the ones who bring the most awesome glory to God.  We can't hate ourselves when we get it wrong, and we shouldn't!  Because of what Jesus did, we can boast about our weaknesses and our falls, because that is where God's glory shines.  His power is made perfect in our weakness.  There is the grace we need to let go of the shame!

Praise be to God.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Authentic Love

Yes, this is another Jon Jorgenson video.  If you haven't checked him and his organization The Anima Series out already, you really should.  I'm posting this one mostly because of two lines that are a PERFECT reflection of what happened when I met The Vespers...and because it's really good, with some hard truth that I've been reflecting on lately.

So to get right to the point today, I got a little game that I'd like for y'all to play.  It's called How many teenagers do you know that are actively pursuing a life with God?

For most of us, that game doesn't last very long.  Like a bangin' on a gong, the preachers say, "What's wrong with kids today?" and the song goes on and on and on.  But the song being sung is partly true.  We're surrounded by a generation who, for the most part, would rather smoke a joint than sit in a pew, and to be honest, I'm really tired of placing all the blame on them.  So I'm here to suggest that perhaps part of the problem, you.

Please hear me out.  You see, teenagers today, and people, for that matter, would rather live by their own luck because they see the religious system is just way too stuck, and if you heard me say that I read my Bible every day, you'd be like "What the fffudge?  Doesn't that mean you're quick to judge, never budge, and just a plain old schmuck?"  And if this is the perception that we're so full of pride, then perhaps it's time we took a look inside and tried to reclaim the part of Jesus that some of us have lost: the one who partied with sinners, touched the lepers, loved the children, and who paid the highest cost.

Have you ever considered just how many parties Jesus went to in the Gospels?  If someone wanted to throw a party today, church, I'm not sure that they would hire us.  People don't wanna gather around Jesus anymore.  They gather around Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.  And I'm not here to bash secular music, either.  I'm tired of that, and plus, I like some of those songs.  I'm here to suggest, church, that we also might be in the wrong.

Please hear me out.  You see, it's clear in the lives of the next generation, the church rarely plays a part, and maybe that's because some of the messages in TV, and film, and radio are a little bit more from the heart.  The church shouldn't be this billboard of propaganda, a list of shoulds and should nots.  It should be a living, breathing artpiece, where people see us, and they say, "I want what they've got!"  When did the movement of Jesus lose its authenticity and require its members to climb to some spiritual peak?  Because if only the strong survive, then how come His power is perfect when we're weak?

Now please, hear me.  I know some churches do this right, and I'm not tryin' to start a fight.  I'm here to suggest that we might just be as blind as those to whom we're trying to give sight.  We as the church need to wisen up because the next generation is rising up, and they're finding their prize in the things of this world because in their eyes, we haven't given them a better option.  Runnin' away from the church like a toxin, because some of us are locked into a system of judgment and dismay, hate you if you're struggling, different, or gay.  Why would anyone want to stay when they're just viewed as a project on which we can project a list of rules?  And the more we try and "protect" the children in this way, the more we reject what God is trying to project through them!  And that is His project of AUTHENTIC. LOVE.

Please hear me out.  You've made it this far.  I'm not trying to be harsh, and I'm not trying to be condemning to either side.  I'm suggesting that instead of forcing people onto some religious journey, let's just invite them along for the ride.  Let's look to share, before we look to teach, and maybe let's put a little more care into what we preach.  Let us make faith in Jesus a little more attractive, and by that, I'm not talking about hip, or cool.  I'm talking about interactive - because you can never underestimate the power of someone who truly cares and who dares to be the one person who will listen when no one else will.  This is the kind of love that I believe Jesus was talking about, that authentic love that spurs us to a life that people can't help but be attracted to.

Church, let us begin to live in THAT love.  And let us stop blaming the younger generation for every problem in the world, and instead, come alongside them and invite them on an adventure that Jesus said would bring even greater things yet to come.

THIS is authentic love.


"The church shouldn't be this billboard of propaganda, a list of shoulds and should nots.  It should be a living, breathing artpiece, where people see us, and they say, "I want what they've got!"  When did the movement of Jesus lose its authenticity?..."

This right here is why I first became attracted to The Vespers, back when I was still so angry at God and not believing that any of this "Christianity thing" could be anything more than a farce.  (Was that really only three years ago?!)  To anyone else, my interactions with them that warm February day here at Campbell probably seemed like nothing, but that day the seeds were planted in my head.  I've said it so many times before; that day, I looked at these four strangers, and I noticed something so different about them that I knew I had to get to know them better.  I knew they had this light and security about them, and I knew that that was what I'd been missing and searching for my entire life.  I grew up with the list of should and should not.   This was something totally different, and I knew I wanted it.  Badly.

"I'm suggesting that instead of forcing people onto some religious journey, let's just invite them along for the ride."

This was one of the things that was so different about them.  They never threw their faith in your face.  They didn't hide who they were, but it wasn't what they focused on, at least not all the time.  And I think that it was because of that fact that, as I got to know them more, I started asking questions.  Because they never "preached" at me, I wasn't afraid to learn from them and inevitably get things wrong along the way.  They showed me who God was and what He could do, but they still left it as my choice, without any fear, or judgment, or condemnation, or all of the negativity I grew up with, attached to it.  I was able to take steps forward at my pace, and they never judged me for it.  They were just there when I took the next one...all the way up to when I stepped in that Nashville church and I came home to my Father.  And seeing Taylor and Bruno celebrate with me was what made me certain that they weren't just my friends, they were my brothers.  These four, to this day, understand authentic love on a level that I'm still not sure I totally get   The only people I've met since then that I think also understand it that deeply are my wonderful Reformation brothers, whose pure, unconditional, unswerving love for me has been well-documented over the past few months.

"...because you can never underestimate the power of someone who truly cares and who dares to be the one person who will listen when no one else will."

That day at lunch, when Bruno listened to me, a complete stranger, tell him my entire life story and didn't turn his back at all the gory details, that was the first time that I didn't feel like a freak for my past.  I felt normal, and heard, and seen for so much more than the things that I've survived.  And when he told me that "I'll do big things with that testimony..bigger things than [he'll] ever do," my perspective began to change, albeit slowly at first.  Ever since then, one of my biggest goals in life and meeting new people and cultivating relationships is that I face them with the same attitude that Bruno had that very first day.  That people would know they could tell me anything without fear of judgment.  That God would use me to help people know that they aren't alone.  Because it's thanks to those four kids who dared to listen to me that I finally saw myself as something more than my health issues.  I spent quite some time trying to repay them for all the intangible gifts they had given me, but finally I reached a big realization.

Love, in its most authentic form, isn't about paying it back.  It's about doing it just because you can and letting God get the glory for the gifts that spring forth from it.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Hey, soul sister.

Paige came to visit me today!  She heads back to the UK on Friday for another semester of Study Abroad, and we both knew that we had to get together before that happened.  So I went to Political Thought, and then met her at the Student Center for lunch.  She got there at about 12:20, and we sat and ate and caught up for about an hour before we had to head upstairs.

I had to have a meeting with the Dean of Students and someone from Student Success because, long story short, a whole lot of people are concerned about me and my seizures.  I don't really want to get into the details quite yet, nor do I want to rehash it right now.  Just know that a couple surprises were dropped, tears were shed, I'm SO glad that Paige was sitting in there with me so it didn't feel so 2-against-1, and nothing will be happening until after I see my doctor on Wednesday.

After that, we got a drink (hot chocolate for me, some weird tea thing I don't remember the name of for her) and sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful day and talked some more.  Mostly about boys. :)

Then it was French class!  You probably don't remember this, but I actually met Paige because I tutored her in French last spring.  So I took her to French class so she could see Dr. Steegar.  She spent half the time on her phone and the other half laughing at the stuff we were discussing.  Two thumbs up for that one.

At that point, it was about 4:00, and we weren't hungry for dinner, but she also didn't want to leave yet, so we went to the big courtyard area in front of the dining hall that's next to my dorm and literally just sprawled out on the grass and...talked.  We never run out of things to say! :)

Can't lay out on a beautiful day without taking a selfie!

The best part about our friendship is that we're complete and utter dorks and we're not afraid of it.

I had to go to the bathroom at one point (luckily those double doors behind me have a girl's bathroom behind them), and when I came back out, she was holding up her phone, and I said "Are you taking a picture of me?" And she said "Yes!"  So I posed.  Her caption on Facebook is "and she appeared, frolicking across the grass!"  Ha, graceful me.

We laid around outside until 5:00 when I was getting chilly (finally, I didn't wear a jacket all day) because the sun was behind clouds, and went in to Jole Mole to get some dinner.

Paige decided to take a picture of her dinner.  So I took a picture of her taking a picture of her dinner.  "They don't have things like this in Ireland!"  No, they don't.  They just have EVERYTHING ELSE.  

A picture on the way out, about 5:45 when she had to go.  I asked a football player that just so happened to be walking by if he'd take a picture for us, and he took two, waited to see what I thought, and then smiled and said "Be blessed!" as we parted ways.  Small things like that can just be the icing on the cake. :)

We prayed together before she headed out and as she left, I was simply thankful for those hours together and the fact that this is a friendship, similar to what I have with Ryann, that isn't defined or changed by the distance between us.  It's a real gift.

Tonight I just hung around, did some homework, watched TV, took a very long shower, caught up with a friend.  Around midnight (it's now 2 am), I should have gotten on here and blogged, but instead I ended up like this.

I texted Alexis, and since she was still awake, we ended up getting on FaceTime for another 45 minutes tonight.  I just was not having a good day mentally, and talking with her did a lot of good for my soul.  I am so thankful for modern technology.

The title is just what popped in my head.  I call Paige my "soul sister", and I'm starting to really think that Alexis is one, too.  Plus, I love that song. :)

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Sunday, January 19, 2014


Alexis is one of the sweet friends that I made while I was in Texas.  (I mentioned her in the recaps.)

Tonight, I am just so, so thankful for her and the fact that we were able to spend 35+ minutes on FaceTime.  I had texted her about some of the stuff I have coming up this week, and when she said that she wished she was here to give me a hug and pray with me in person, I asked her if we could have a phone/FaceTime prayer session, and it was a bigger gift than either of us could have predicted.

Before that conversation, I knew she was a friend, but after it, I knew she was a true sister.  She sat patiently and listened to me share my heart and didn't think any less of me when I told her I didn't really know what to say to God right now.  We laughed when I said I loved her and she responded, "You beat me to the punch!"  It was just so precious to have a face right in front of me (albeit through my phone screen) to remind me that I am not alone and that people all over are walking with me and praying for me through every step of this journey I am on.  I honestly couldn't even tell you everything that I shared with her.  I was so caught up in the conversation and the feeling of the presence of the Lord between us that I poured out whatever came to mind.

One thing I do remember, though, is telling her about the prayer that Bryce gave Tuesday night, and how several of my friends have told me how they have seen Christ in me during all of this and how knowing me has helped point them back to the Lord, and how it so often just baffles me that the people who love me, like Bryce and Austin and even her, Alexis, see so much good in me when I feel like a total disaster.  How I have such a hard time not focusing on my shortcomings despite being surrounded by so much encouragement and love and people whom I know are a clear manifestation of how actively and proudly and fiercely God loves me.  That was when my jaw (figuratively) hit the floor.

Alexis then shared with me the impact that our time together in Texas had on her.  She told me how God used our simple conversations to get her back where she knew she needed to be but had been running from.  And my mind was just blown.  If she hadn't bravely shared that with me, I never would have guessed that our connection had helped her in such a deep way.  What she had to say reminded me of something another friend asked me one day - if I would still be grateful for my life if I had no idea it helped people, if no one had ever told me what God had done for them through me.  And my answer now is still what I told that friend then...I don't know.  Ever since the night that I begged God to show me that the medical traumas I'd been through had a purpose, I have felt that purpose being revealed to me in the people who share information with me about how God has used me to help them.  It's stories like that that keep me from wanting to completely give up on this life, that pull me out of the low place when I'm screaming at God "PICK SOMEBODY ELSE!"  While yes, I have grown so much in learning where my identity is and letting God carry me through life and not relying on other people for any of that, there are still quite a few days that remembering God has used me and my life to help others that is just about the only thing that helps me to be okay with it.  It helps me not to be angry towards God and regretful about the life that He gave me.  I want to be used for His Kingdom.  Thinking of all the people who say that I have helped them keeps me focused on my purpose as a child of God.  It makes this mess make sense.  But I guess there's still a lot I have to do in fixing my perspective.

While I know and fully believe that God is everything and that He is enough all by Himself, I also fully believe that I could not survive without the family I have around me.  Maybe that's wrong of me, but these people?  My Reformation brothers, my other school friends, my church family, my Texas family, my blog friends.  They are my lifelines.  They are the encouragement I need to keep clinging to God when nothing makes sense and every other option in the world seems easier.  They are the ones who faithfully and patiently point me back to the God who saved me, no matter how many times I need to be reminded of it.  Just as they say that my faith has taught them and inspired them, I hope and pray that they know they teach me and inspire me every single day with every conversation.

I've said it a million times, and I'll say it every day for the rest of my life: we weren't meant to do this life alone.  And I am immeasurably blessed that I no longer have to.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Orange and Black

I love me some Gaylord.

Campbell proud, always and forever.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Sometimes you just need to sleep.

And to praise God for tomorrows, new mercies, and second chances.

Today was a long day.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to hole up and hide away from the world for a bit.

Tomorrow, it's Ed Gore Day.  So that should be fun, but it means being out and about and pretending everything is okay so as to not worry my family.  Which is going to be exhausting.

But for now, I lay back down and rest, praying for peace and comfort for my weary mind. Psalm 4:8

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

I know good people.

This guy is one of them.

His name is Chirag.  He's one of the soccer boys I met last semester through Bryce.

What was originally just supposed to be a lunch date with him turned into a heck of a lot more.  He and Justin spent a lot of time with me today, sitting with me in the ER after I injured my neck in another seizure, taking me to get a medication filled that will hopefully buy me time until I get to my doctor next week, getting me into my room where I had yet another seizure probably mostly due to my blood sugar crashing and the fact that I hadn't had the chance to take that medication yet.

When they first got to the ER, I jokingly asked them if they were sure they still wanted to be friends with me.  They laughed and said of course.  And when they said "I love you, too" when they left tonight, I knew that I didn't have to worry about a thing.  These guys are my friends, despite their first real time with me being so...dramatic.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Because we all need a little inspiration sometimes.

This year, I'm choosing to praise God every day for people who love me just as I am.  Who let me be crazy and think no less of me for it.  Who tell me to chase my dreams even when it seems completely illogical.  Who teach me what I need to hold on to and what I need to let go of.  Whose presence makes me appreciate every day as a reminder that tomorrow isn't promised.  Who see the good in me when I'm a mess but aren't afraid to tell me how I can be better.  The people who push me to my limits in the best way possible and are loyal to me when I get it all wrong.  

For my own sanity, I have to let go of the negativity, of the friendships I'd been trying to convince myself hadn't changed and weren't hurting me, and remind myself over and over again just how many incredible people surround me.  Because when I really stop to think about, the bad really is such a minority.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blessing After Blessing

Well, my seizures are back.  I had four of them tonight, two in my night class (which is, ironically, Emergency Preparedness Management) and two outside my dorm when I got back from the hospital.  And I'm aggravated.  Really aggravated.  I thought I was past that, but instead, my seizure medicine has gotten below the normal level in my blood again.  I don't understand what is going on and why things just keep piling up on me.

But being aggravated gets me nowhere.  So I've been sitting here trying to figure out what to write for tonight's post, and I forced myself to look for the blessings, because I knew they had to be there.  And they were.  They are.

Like how before all this went down tonight, I got to have lunch with my friend Zack who asked if he could talk to the leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes campus chapter to see if I could be one of their guest speakers because he said "people need to hear me".  And how I had dinner with Austin right before this night class and was able to pray over him.

And how a firefighter and two guys jumped right up from their desks and ran over as quickly as they could to help me as soon as I told my professor that one was coming on, despite them not even knowing my name.  Or just the fact that there were people who had dealt with seizures before in my class at all.

And how my professor wasn't mad at me.

And how I knew I needed to get my shunt checked out because I fell on that side of my head and slammed it into the hard floor when I started seizing before that firefighter could get to me, and when Mom unknowingly called me while I was in the ambulance, she didn't get mad at me.

And how Campus Safety took my bookbag and laptop to their office so I didn't have to worry about bringing it with me.

And how my vision cleared up before I got to the hospital.

And how I had a doctor I've never seen before, but he listened to me.

And how my shunt was okay, despite the center of the pain being right on top of the pump/valve in my head.

And how there was an actual reason behind this, that my seizure med is too low in my blood, and so I didn't feel crazy.

And how my soccer buddy, Justin, didn't mind coming out to pick me up at all, so that I didn't have to get charged by Campus Safety for a ride, even though this was the first night we'd spent any time together outside of the soccer games.  And he brought Bryce with him, so I got to see that sweet friend of mine.

And how Justin bought me food, even though I had money with me.

And how they came around to my side of the car to hug me when we got to my dorm, so I could sit back down when I felt bad again, and Bryce was right there to catch me.

And how two girls, Morgan and Heather, just so happened to be outside and see what was going on, and rushed to help.  And I had met Morgan briefly through church, and they ran to get a blanket and pillow from their room and helped Justin and Bryce the whole time.

And how the boys helped me get inside and the girls carried my stuff inside, and they didn't leave until they were sure I was okay.

And how the girls insisted that I borrow one of their fans, because my room felt stuffy to them.

And how before I insisted they all leave because it was 11:00 and they'd spent so much time taking care of me, we all joined hands for prayer.  And Bryce spoke for the group and nearly moved me to tears with what he said.  And I realized yet again that I do have friends, real friends, even in people I thought could never really love me.  And he didn't stop rubbing my hand the entire time.  And when he thanked God for the blessing that I am, I was forced to learn yet again that people see the good in me when I'm so much more inclined to focus on my shortcomings, and that my heart for my friends is noticed and appreciated, and that I can be a blessing even when so much craziness is going on in my life.

And how Zack texted me these verses while I was in the ER when I told him I couldn't go to FCA tonight, and they were exactly what I needed to hear.

"for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity." Proverbs 24:16

"The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand." Psalm 37:23-24

And lastly, how I'm sitting here with a smile on my face after a crazy, crazy night because I made myself search for the blessings.  God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Day Brighteners

Despite hitting a major stress point in dealing with all this grad school stuff (long story short, Paris is out, Duke is in), I had a really good day.

Before Political Thought, I headed over to the bookstore and picked up most of the books for that class.  We're still waiting on the last two to come in, but those aren't even needed until after Spring Break, so it's not a big deal at all.

Political Thought is actually really interesting!  It doesn't seem nearly as frightening as people make it out to be. :)

After that, I went to have lunch with Jay.  I have so missed that kid!  He is, hands down, the most joyful person I know, and from day one, we have teased each other like we've known each other our entire lives.  But what was so awesome about today is we actually talked about some pretty deep stuff.  We dug into theology and stuff like the meaning of salvation and our view of who satan is and heaven and hell and whether hell exists and all this stuff that I've never actually had a straightforward, honest, 100% open conversation about.  It was really eye-opening and I learned a whole new perspective that I'd never considered before.  For reasons I won't get into, I didn't know if Jay would actually talk to me about stuff like this, and I'm really honored that he did.  And the best part of all that was that not only was it just a discussion with no arguing or anything like that, I totally enjoyed myself the entire time.  Something about that guy just makes me smile the entire time I'm around him.  What makes me smile most of all is that he told me to "keep Monday lunch" open.  So it looks like I may get to hang out with my buddy on a regular basis.

I headed inside D Rich (aka the building in which I live...or at least it feels that way some days), and ran right into another one of my Reformation brothers, Josh.  That just cracks me up, because when we were talking, he mentioned that he doesn't normally wander the halls waiting for a class to start like he was today, and being a Religion major he's not normally even in D Rich, but I guess this was just a sweet little blessing from God.  Josh and I didn't talk a lot last semester like I did with some of the other guys, but one of the great understood things about all of us from Reformation is that we love each other like family without needing to say it.  The whole group bonded as one big family.  And I've heard several people say that they miss it and that current classes aren't like that.

Josh is one of those guys who just refuses to smile normally for a picture.  I love it. :)

I was in D Rich to have meetings with several professors.  I saw Dr. Thornton and was able to really nail down the topic for my Senior Seminar paper.  I saw Dr. Mero and talked to him about the make-up papers I still have to do for The Presidency (I'm working, I'm working!).  And because the timing worked out right, I was able to stop by my Political Thought professor, Dr. Schroeder's office and talk to him about the paper for that class.  After he explained the expectations, I didn't even feel worried about it...but I make no promises as to whether or not that will change in the future.  Ha!

I went to the post office after that, and there I got another awesome surprise.  A few months ago, I got an email from the administration saying that I was one of a small group of students nominated for this "2014 Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges" thing.  All I had to do was fill out an application, and I would find out in January.  I figured there was no way I'd get it because my extra-curriculars list is pretty bare because of all the health stuff, but I decided to apply anyway because why not.  Well, I got it!  Mom was still at work at that point, so the first person I called was Matt.  Surprisingly, he answered the phone and even he'd heard of this, so it was sweet to hear how proud he was.  I really didn't think I'd get it, so it was a big boost to get that letter today.

I grabbed some hot chocolate from the Starbucks across the street and sat and enjoyed it before I headed to French class.  I didn't see Dr. Steegar all semester last fall, both due to the health stuff and because my Independent Study was writing a paper so it didn't call for much in-person activity, so it felt good to be back in his office for a regular class.  And I have Pam in there with me, so I'm not alone and I get to do it with an old friend. :)  Being in French class always puts a smile on my face.

And icing on the cake, I ran into James, yet another Reformation brother, on the way to dinner.  We briefly commiserated on of Senior Seminar papers ;) before he had to run, but it was still great to see him, too, and get a hug.

I wasn't feeling well today at all, but the Lord was so good to put so many things in my day to make me smile and be grateful and happy.  I especially loved getting to see and talk to several of my brothers.  I had a feeling things wouldn't change with us, but you just can never tell when you go from seeing each other regularly to seeing each other only by chance or when you carve out time for it.  But these are genuine, good guys, and I love that we're still close even now.

So yeah.  Today?  Two thumbs up.

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