Monday, March 31, 2014

Best $5 I've spent in a long time.






Because it's not every day you get to throw plates of whipped cream in your friends' faces.  Ah, Peter and Hunter. I love these boys.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rough weekend.

So, uh, fair warning, stop reading now if you're not up for hearing some very personal and somewhat gross details.

The past few months, whenever I've gotten my period, I've had a day where I've thrown up.  I don't know why or what changed.  My periods have never been easy (I was on birth control for 4 years to get them regular), and they're always super painful (apparently that's related to my thyroid being taken out, hormone issues), but this whole throwing up thing just started in December.  But it was always just one day, and didn't last the whole day, so I just dealt with it.

So when I was throwing up yesterday, I figured it was just that.  Period issues.  My friend Zack brought me a soda to help settle my stomach (thanks to Mom for the tip) and I was eating pretty normally by dinner time.

This morning when I woke up, I still felt quite off, so I just tried to eat a piece of bread and drink some water...That didn't work.

The problem with me throwing up everything and not being able to eat is that my blood sugar starts dropping.  So I literally laid on my bathroom floor for hours until Isaiah and Zack brought me more soda so I could stay sugared and hydrated.  I even was throwing up the soda at first (yes, I was drinking it slowly and only in sips), but eventually that quit.

I finally managed to get off the floor about 5:00 and take a shower.  It's amazing how even more amazing a shower feels when you're sick.  I still feel pretty awful, though.

It's been years since I've had a stomach virus that involved throwing up.

I really need to feel better.  Like, now.

I'll tell ya one thing, though.  Having Isaiah and Zack come over to help me out, and Franz who wasn't around campus offering to call some of the soccer boys if I needed him to, the little things like that can make you feel so, so loved when you're sick. :)

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

You are SPOKEN FOR. {A Review}

I received an early copy of this book as part of being a member of the launch team for me to write this review in preparation for the release.  That in no way affects what I am about to write.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my genuine excitement.


Spoken For: Embracing Who You Are and Whose You Are

I first heard about this book because Alyssa is Jeff Bethke's wife.  I follow him on Twitter, so I've known since the day that Alyssa signed her book deal.  What I didn't know at first is that she was co-writing this book with Robin Gunn, a well-known Christian writer, who, ironically, wrote a series that had greatly impacted Alyssa's walk with the Lord.  If that doesn't tell you this was just meant to be, I don't know what will.  :)  Then, I heard about the title.  It was one of those things that hit me right in the heart.  I knew immediately that I had to get this book.  I joined the street team because I instinctively knew that this book had a message that girls and women everywhere need to hear.

Well, I was right.  I would buy a copy of this book for every female that I know if I could afford it.  I read this book all at once, in one long car ride, because I just couldn't put it down.  I found myself thinking "Wow, that's so true," more times than I can count.  Every sentence serves a distinct and powerful purpose soaked in God's Truth to remind the reader of how passionately she is loved and how she is seen by the God who created her.  Robin and Alyssa each make themselves so vulnerable throughout the book, sharing pieces of their pasts to let you know that they get it, that someone else has walked through the heartache you face now or have faced before.  They share details of their romances with their husbands from their beginnings, which gives so much insight as to what true, God-focused relationships look like and how even Christians face hard times, questions, and doubts.  Those stories prove yet again, however, that God will take those painful experiences with your boyfriend or fiancĂ© or husband and grow you both.  Robin and Alyssa show you that the pain, as awful as it is in the midst of it, becomes so beautiful with time.

As beautiful as the stories of the relationships with their husbands are, though, they don't even compare to the mission that Robin and Alyssa have from the first word of the first chapter.  Each chapter title is a truth about God and who we are in God's eyes.  An Epic Love Story - Yours, You Are Wanted, You Are Pursued, You Are Loved, You Have Been Called, You Are of Great Value, You Are a Peculiar Treasure, You Are Set Free, You Are Covered, You Are Promised, and last, You Are Spoken For.  In the first chapter, they write, "The desire to be loved, cherished, and adored never goes away.  All of us long to believe someone is out there who wants us.  Someone who will come for us.  Someone who will take the role of the hero in our lives and love us, deeply love us, not for what we do or how we look but simply for who we are.  What if you could know that you are loved that intensely?  You are sought after.  You are the bride-to-be in a love story that's unfolding in your life right this minute.  You are spoken for......Our goal is simple.  We want you to see what happens when you respond to the invitation of the true Bridegroom and step into the center of an epic love story - yours."  I had tears in my eyes that early on, and people who know me know that I don't cry easily at books or movies or anything like that, so I knew that something big was going to happen as I worked my way through these pages.

I was right.  I found such healing in these women's words.  When I applied for the launch team, I told them that my identity has always been something I struggled greatly with.  Growing up as a girl who lost her father before I was old enough to remember him left me without the immensely valuable lesson of what I was worth and how I was supposed to be treated.  A father is the first male figure to teach a little girl how loved she is and how beautiful she is, and even though everyone tells me that that's the kind of father my dad was, I lost the chance to grow up with that imprinted on my heart.  Add into that the fact that I grew up as a non-believer, and I had absolutely no understanding of my worth.  I let myself be abused time and time again by guys who never cared about me, let alone respected me, because I was so desperate for attention, for a guy to validate my existence, that I thought it was all I could get, and I believed that it was my fault when I turned out not to be "good enough" to keep any of them around.

"You Are Wanted" was a particularly powerful chapter for me, because it focused right in on some of my most persistent fears - that I'll never have a husband and children, that the fact that I'm almost 22 years old and have never had a boyfriend says for itself what a freak I am and how unworthy I am, that the lies I've heard from my sister for as long as I can remember about how no man will ever want me romantically will actually turn out to be true.  (I laughed a little, I'm not going to lie, when I read that Jeff was Alyssa's first boyfriend and they didn't start dating until she was 22.)  I often tell myself I'm too emotional, too intense, too _______ for anyone to want to be with me.  I spend so much time focusing on my imperfections, my shortcomings, my failures, that it's terribly difficult for me to imagine anyone wanting me, let alone the King of the Universe.  But God wants me.  God is calling for me.  Even now.  I gave my heart to the Lord almost two years ago, but my Father still desperately wants me to see Him as my First Love.

Through Robin and Alyssa's book, I finally began to wrap my mind around what God sees when He looks at me.  That God looks at me not just as a proud father looks at his daughter, but as a groom passionately in love with his bride.  The love story I've spent so long waiting for has already been here waiting, and I didn't even realize it.  For every time that I've felt utterly heartbroken, the One who loves me enough to die for me has been there waiting for me to see what is greater, what He has wanted to give me all along.

This is one book I'm sure I'll be reading more than once.  These lessons aren't going to stick the first time, that's one thing I've learned by now, but they're ones I need and ones that are spelled out so kindly and patiently and compassionately in this book.  I can stop searching for boys to tell me I'm worthy of love because I'm going to start listening to the One who knows better than they do, the One who created me and loves me more fiercely than I can imagine.  When a man comes along who models THAT love in the way that he loves me and fights for me, the relentless, unswerving, passionate, selfless love of the Lord, then I'll explore the possibilities for the future, but until then, I'm more than okay.  The Lord has claimed me as His peculiar treasure.  I am already Spoken For.

And guess what, sweet sister.  So are you.  Read this book if you want to see what I mean.

"Spoken For: Embracing Who You Are and Whose You Are" by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke releases on April 15, 2014.  You can pre-order it on Amazon here or at Barnes & Noble here.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

It's actually Friday?

Spending a Thursday night in Swansboro made today really not feel like a Friday.

So you can imagine my enjoyment when I realized that after French class, I could come back and curl up in a ball and not move.

I messed around on the computer until dinner, and then when I should have gotten to work on some small things, instead all I did was fall asleep at like 7:00.

And then I woke up in a panic over I-don't-know-what at 11:30, which I suppose is okay so I could blog for tonight. :)

I should have blogged a review for a book I read on the way to Wilmington yesterday since I'm part of the launch team, but oh well, that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Because for now, I'm going back to sleep.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

21. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Also titled: Because if you're going to have surgery, you might as well cheer about it.

I went back to the eye specialist today.  The numbers from the tests he did were only slightly worse than what they were last month, praise the Lord.  He told me my options were to just live with it like I have been or go ahead with surgery.  My exact words, "I vote surgery!" His response, "Well okay then. Surgery it is."

He told me a little bit more about it, what would be going on and where they would go in and everything,  and then they sent me down to their coordinator to sign the consent forms and try to find a date and everything.

Originally it was going to be May 23, but then the coordinator saw in my file that I have a history of MRSA.  She said that I had to have two negative nasal swabs before they would do the surgery, but then I told her that that was never going to happen because I'm a carrier so the swabs are always positive even when I'm not sick.  So she had to make some calls.  Apparently, the place that the doctor normally does surgery will not take me, and I have to have the surgery at the hospital (which it's the same place I had my last foot surgery and it's awesome so that's fine).  But the doctor doesn't normally do surgery at the hospital so he has to borrow time from another doctor, so they couldn't set a date today.  But it'll be sometime late May or early June.

But you know, it's whatever.  I'm just happy there's a plan.  I'm honestly okay with another surgery, as unnerving as it may be, just because it's how this is going to get fixed.

God's carried me through 20 surgeries.  God will get me through another.  That much I know.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One Night


I'm so happy tonight, y'all.

My evening has been filled with more love than I can wrap my head around.

Tonight was Campbell's One Night event.  It's a big campus-wide worship thing where all the campus ministry groups get together to put on a big night of worship.  I'd heard about it before, but never bothered to go.  I'm SO glad I did tonight.  That above is the Facebook status I wrote when I got back.  It was such a sweet picture of how far God has taken me in my years at Campbell.

I got to pray with friends, sing my heart out, and take communion with my college family.  I needed a night like tonight, I knew that, but I didn't realize just how much I needed it until it happened.  (Funny how God works, huh?)

My soccer boys have showered love upon me, too.  If I didn't know it before, I know it now - they are some incredible guys and I am definitely part of the family.  How did I ever get so blessed?

It was only one night, but there's been a whole lot of happy in it.  And I get to go to bed with a smile on my face.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Brain Fried

Well, somehow I did it.  I pulled it off.

I read 295 pages and wrote 4 essays today, yes, but what I'm really talking about is the fact that I actually got up at 8:00 am when my alarm went off on a day when I don't have class until 6:00 pm.  Pretty sure that's never happened before.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of reading that I had to do to have a clue what to say for my essays, so that was my motivation not to lay back down after I got up to turn the alarm off.  Trust me, there is plenty of reading that I don't do.  (High school me would be so terribly shocked and disappointed.)

Surprisingly, I only dozed off twice, for about half an hour each.  Once was around 12:15 in the middle of reading, and the other was at about 10:15 tonight after I finished the reading and needed to get started on the essays.

But sweet Georgia Brown, I am beat.  (No, I don't know where that came from.)

I just need to make it through tomorrow morning with this test.  The rest of the week will be smooth sailing after that.  Of course, I have to tutor French tomorrow morning before the test.

Okay, I am done.  Good night and good luck.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Smiles

Well, one reason I'm smiling is because I got everything I needed to get done today done, plus my next French video for Friday so I don't have to worry about that Wednesday since I'm sure my brain will be fried after this Political Thought test, or Thursday since I have to go to Swansboro for the night that night.  And it's only 11:30!

But the main reason that I am smiling is that today was just a really good day, a day that I needed with all the school stress I'm dealing with right now.

I actually understood what was going on in Political Thought, which is hilarious since it's not anything relevant to Wednesday's test.

French was absolutely hilarious.  I spent most of the hour verbally sparring with Dr. Steegar in the way that only two people with our sarcasm and love for each other can.  Pam pretty much spent the entire time just watching us.  For every teasing remark Dr. Steegar has for me, I have one back.  And he loves it.  I'm so going to miss him and his classes.

Also, he graded my 20-page paper (the one I wrote over Spring Break for last semester) and I got an A on it!  That's another A on my GPA and one more bad grade taken off my transcript.  (We won't even talk about the fact that the one F now on my record is from a class and a professor who had the papers I needed to make up for that incomplete on New Year's Eve...a month before the incomplete turned into an F...and she hasn't even graded them yet.)

The best part of all, though, was the hour I spent at lunch with one of the soccer boys, Isaiah.


(Believe it or not, he's actually from Canada.)

We both wanted to get together because I missed getting him to sign my ball after the game, and because we haven't ever done this before and wanted the chance to sit and talk.  It was so, so good.  He's such a sweetheart.  And he's super humble, just like every other guy on the team I've gotten to know.  And he's really funny, so he had me cracking up a vast majority of the time.  He confirmed the idea that I'm the "team's sister" and just made me feel really good about myself, and when I texted him the picture a little while after we'd split up, he told me that if I ever needed anything to let him know because his whole team has my back.  I'm a very lucky girl.  Hopefully we'll be able to work it out that we can do it again.

Okay, time for bed.  I need to read 295 pages tomorrow, which means I need to get up at like 8:00.  Plus, I'm just beat.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

The story of senior year.

So much reading to do.  Absolutely no motivation to do it.

Nothing like underestimating the reading I have to for Wednesday's Political Thought test by 66 pages.

I still have 324 pages to go.  And an outline to write and graphs to create and a paper to write, all for Tuesday.  That will be tomorrow.  Finishing the reading and prepping the essays for the test will be on Tuesday.

I'm so tired.  It's like no amount of sleep is enough.

Can I just graduate already?

Ah well, back to paying the penance for my procrastination.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Promises, Promises

Keeping my word is something that is very important to me.  If I tell you I'm going to do something, I will do it unless circumstances completely out of my control keep me from it.  And even then, I'm going to apologize and feel guilty for it.  Case in point: I offered to buy my friend lunch one day so that we could get together, and then realized the night before that I didn't have the money that I thought I did and thus didn't have enough money to buy him lunch.  I felt so bad, and all he did was tell me I apologize too much.

Because of how important keeping my word is to me, I hate saying I will do something unless I am certain I can do it.  This keeps my people-pleaser tendencies in check because as much as I may want to say yes to something, if I'm not really sure that it's possible for me, I won't say yes.

There's one outlier I can think of to this life-rule of mine, though.  Back in October 2012, when I had a meeting with Pastor Sean and Carla just a couple weeks after I joined Theater Church, what I didn't tell many people for a while was that that day, after I had told them my testimony/story, I made a promise to God, that if He gave me the opportunity to tell my story to people, I wouldn't so.  I didn't know why I did it at the time, but I just knew that there was too much joy in telling my story to avoid it, and I'd been told too many times what my story had done for people.

Well, God is kinda funny...I feel like when I said that to Him, He just sort of laughed and said "Well, okay then.  I'll keep that in mind!"  Because opportunities have just kept being dropped in my lap.  And weird ones, too!  From Pastor Chris and Wells Branch, to a kid I met at Starbucks, to a girl I worked with, I've been able to tell my testimony in completely unexpected situations.  It never ceases to make me smile and chuckle, either.

Tonight, it happened again.  I ran into a girl in the laundry room, and I realized that she was the girl I had seen when Corey was in my dorm last weekend.  We got to talking, and next thing I know, she's sitting in my room for almost two hours.  We shared testimonies, and we actually have some freaky similarities.  It was so sweet and honestly just so beautiful.  The hilarious part about it is that she lives literally diagonal from my room, yet somehow last Saturday was the first time we'd ever seen each other.  But now I feel like I have a new friend.  I love how testimonies bond people.

Nick Vitellaro once put out on Twitter, in reference to testimonies, "What you're tired of saying, someone else is dying to hear."  That and Revelation 12:11 - "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony" - are two things that help me continue to step out and be vulnerable and share my story with anyone who is willing to hear it.  And I'll tell ya, telling my testimony to different people are some of my sweetest memories.

Making God that promise was one of the smartest things I've ever done.  No question.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Thanks for the Memories

It's finally starting to sink in that the end is drawing near...and it's coming so much faster than I'm ready for.

On top of getting my graduation announcements yesterday, today I went to my first last.  The soccer boys had their first spring scrimmage today, against Duke, and it's the only one they have here at CU, which means today was officially my last time seeing them play, and my last time going to that field.  It's insane.  I've spent 2.5 years trekking out to those bleachers, 2 seasons for Ryann and 1 season for these boys, and believe it or not, it's going to be a highlight when I look back on my Campbell years.

The game wasn't pretty, the boys lost, but what was great for me is not only that I got to see some guys I adore, but also that I got this taken care of.


I got this soccer ball for $6 at Walmart and got every soccer player I could find to sign it.  Thankfully they all seemed to be flattered by it and didn't act like they thought it was weird. ;)  Haha, what I think is a great idea doesn't always turn out that way.


Franz!  Poor thing was injured. :(  He's actually one of the graduating seniors, so I got him to sign my ball during the game.  He asked me if I was going to get the rest of the team to sign it, so I looked at him straight-faced and replied, "No. just you." ;)


Ethan!  Aka Triple Time.  I call him that because every single game I've seen, he's worked "triple time" in the goal, making some ridiculous saves.  Gee, sounds like someone else I know... ;)


Nicole is the girlfriend of one of the players, Ricky.  She's a sweetheart.  We've spent a lot of time hanging out at games since September!


Chirag.  The ever-so-humble one. ;)  "I'll sign it, but the value of the ball will probably go way down when I do."  Ha!


Tunji!  My favorite freshman.


Scooter was also injured. :(  He's got a great smile, doesn't he?


Aleksi...is a dork.  He cracked me up pretending to be all cocky.  "Oh, let me hold my autograph right here."  "Of course it was a good picture, I was in it."  Yeah...that's so not actually him haha.


Cam!  My favorite redhead.  And the one who offered me and the other girls sitting in the lobby some of his pizza.

I told Nicole during the game that it got to the point during the season that the boys noticed if I wasn't there.  And after Reafe, Tunji, and Franz all told me that I was "adopted", they all became so much dearer to me.  I don't regret for a second sitting out in the cold tonight (yeah, I drastically underdressed...it was warm today!) or any night during the season because these guys are my friends. I like soccer, yes, but as I've told several of them - I started coming to the games because I like soccer, I kept coming because I like them.  I remember when Reafe told me at lunch that one day "We've invested in you because you've invested in us, and I hope you never question that."  Several of them either remembered from Facebook that I'd gotten into NYU and congratulated me on it, or asked me if I'd be back in the fall and then asked me what my plans were when I told them I was graduating.  I know they've prayed for me, too.  I'm not just another face to them.

These boys...they're what Campbell Proud is really about.  I'm so blessed to know them, and I hope I don't forget what the past six months were like.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let It Go (This has nothing to do with Frozen.)



Yes, it's another Anima Series video, but it's starring a different guy because Jon Jorgenson had to go and get all famous and star on Broadway.  Not even kidding.  But I suppose the real star of the video is God; the Lord certainly spoke to me very deeply when I watched this.

So here's some words from Danny Hochstatter...

I like to think of memories as all these boxes in my head filled with different kinds of information and experiences.  Humans have a very strong emotional memory.  Our brains are wired this way to keep us from making the same mistakes over and over again.  Whenever we're in an intense emotional state like extreme stress or joy, and our memory kicks into overdrive, and we're usually able to recall those events with great detail.  For example, think of the first time that you were wrecked by grace, or the first time that you fell in love, or the first time that somebody close to you died.  I'd guess that's a very strong memory for you.

Now, every life has its emotional moments, and some are hard to forget.  For those of us with a broken past, it can be hard to forget all the pain, the loneliness, the emptiness, and the embarrassment that we feel when we talk about it now, and some of us are in that state right now, where we feel like our behavior or bad habits make us unworthy of love, that God wouldn't waste His time on somebody as bad or as broken as you.  

Well, if there's anything that I've learned about God, about seeking Him in my life and the lives of others, it is that He is an absolute MASTER at making good come out of evil.  I've seen health come out of addiction.  I've seen mercy come out of judgment.  I've seen community come out of isolation.  I've seen passion from apathy, and I've seen such beautiful life come from such tragic death.

Now, for me, I wouldn't trade my broken past for anything, because once we experience God's love, our broken past is nothing more than proof of God's grace.  Looking back at the past allows us to see just how deep God's love is for us and how much He can truly forgive.  If you ask me, having a past that is just packed full of sin and shame just means that, upon redemption, you will see God and understand His love that much clearer.  

If you feel that your past is as dark as they come, then get ready, because you are in a perfect position to experience God's grace in its fullest, because His grace is ENOUGH.  In 2 Corinthians 12, it says,

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

So don't forget the past, because you might forget just how perfect God's grace really is.  Because if you lose all of your demons, you might lose your angels, too.  If you truly believe that God loves you like He says He does and you have accepted His forgiveness, then find peace knowing that your broken past is nothing more than one more divine demonstration of grace.  

So let the past go.  He already has.

It was when I realized that my story wasn't actually about me, that it was about God and what He can do and has done, that it became fun for me to tell.  It was exciting to tell the world about what I'd been through and what I'd survived because it all boiled down to the truth that what God says totally supersedes what man says.  I was filled with sheer joy every time I told someone about how far I ran away from God, because then I got to tell them about just how far He ran to come get me back.

Wrecked by grace?  Wrecked.  What an amazing word.  I saw it and, of course, I immediately thought about my baptism.  I've never attached that word to it before, but I've never seen anything more perfect.  I was absolutely wrecked that night.  There's no other way to explain the flood of tears as I broke under the recognition of God's presence and my desperate need to surrender.  The feeling of the greatest joy in the world as I stood in that pool with Brennan, just trying to process what was going on but not really knowing how to.  Feeling like every nerve in my body came alive when he led me on stage lifted my arm in the air and 600 people I didn't know cheered with everything they had.  And laying in bed past 2 in the morning, staring at the ceiling, trying to wrap my mind around the idea that I was wanted, that God had actually put in so much effort to win me.

But if there's one thing that this video reminded me of, it's the danger in what I've been doing lately.  I've spent so much time trying to move past the person I used to be that I am on the line of forgetting it.  And I can't forget who I was because that is the parameter for how far I've been taken.  Notice I didn't say how far I've come - the transformation that my life has been through the past few years is the work of God, plain and simple.  All I did was say yes.  I don't want to lose my angels, even if it means keeping my demons in my peripheral vision.

This video is also a sweet reminder of the work I need to do in understanding what it means to truly forgive myself.  To accept God's love in such a true way that I can let go of all the mistakes He let go of a long time ago.  I spent a good deal of my counseling session today talking about my constant self-badgering.  How my low self-esteem is what keeps me from believing that I deserve love, God's or anyone else's.  I don't want God to hold me to the same standards that I hold myself; why do I think my opinion is more important than God's?

I've got to let it go...let go of the chains I've bound myself in for my whole life, let go of the shame, let go of the frustration...then I will find the rest that I seek.

Lord, work in me.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Cool Little God Story

So tonight I snapped my student ID in half. I'm a graceful one.

Of course, because Campbell doesn't get enough money out of us, it costs $15 to replace. A friend said they don't actually make you pay the $15 because she's had hers replaced for free, but I figured that with my luck, I would show up and they would make me pay it. So I started contacting a few people that I knew wouldn't judge me for needing to borrow money to get it replaced tomorrow, since I can't get in my dorm building or use my meal plan without my ID.

My sweet brother Clayton said yes. He was actually headed to the library, so he dropped by my dorm on the way. He pulled the $20 out of his wallet, and this was where things got cool. He said that he found that money in his wallet on Sunday, and he had no idea how it got there. He told God that he would wait and see what he was supposed to do with it...and then I texted him tonight. If that $20 hadn't shown up in his wallet, he wouldn't have had the cash to help me.

And as a testament to Clayton's character, when I thanked him and told him he was wonderful for helping me, he said "No, I'm not. God is. He put the money there."

My brothers are awesome. God is better.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grow

(First off, my new Mac came in today.  Yay.  I spent the afternoon getting it all set up and my printer loaded on it and things; everything will be back to normal tomorrow because I'm going after lunch to the computer services place to get everything moved over from one computer to the other.  Second, my cap & gown also got here today - things just got very, very real.)

Austin and I have gotten in a tradition of having dinner pretty much every Tuesday.  I'm very thankful for this because he is pretty much my best friend left on this campus, and my time here is quickly running out so I want to make the most of it, not just with him but with all my Reformation brothers and all of the other people that have impacted my time here.

I actually saw him when I went to get lunch earlier today, so it was like a double treat.  He knew I wasn't myself when we met up for dinner because I'd mentioned at lunchtime that I was in a lot of pain, and when we sat down, he looked at me in that way that was like he was just waiting for me to tell him what was going on, almost as if he could read the pain and distraction because of it on my face.

God bless that boy.  I don't know how else to put it, but it's like every single day, my appreciation for him and his heart grows beyond what I could have ever expected.  Today, I was simply grateful for him because he distracted me.  I spent most of dinner laughing at the plan he has for an upcoming presentation (let's just say it involves Don't Stop Believin', a wig, and a fist pump) and encouraging him to go through with the character he's setting up.  And for about 25 minutes, I actually forgot how badly I've been hurting for the past few days.  I couldn't tell him how desperately I needed it, but he lit up with a grin when I thanked him.

We also pray together pretty much every week.  This used to be something I was quite terrified of, asking people to pray with me or for me, but lately I've been made aware of just how much I need that, and I think we all need that.  We need those people who are willing to hold us and go to the Lord on our behalf.  There is strength given in prayer, especially when it comes from people you know love you fiercely and proudly and loyally.  And Austin's one of the most faithful people I know, and one of those least afraid to share his faith with the world.  I'm beginning to understand what it means to learn from people because of the way they live their lives, something people have said several times about me, because of him and some of my other brothers.

So while Austin praying for me is something that I am used to (not that that in any way diminishes my appreciation for his willingness to do it), there was something he said tonight that I don't think he's ever said before.  He asked God to continue to grow our friendship.  I don't know why that hit me so hard, but it did.  Maybe because this is the first time I've ever had feelings for a guy friend and our friendship not hit any rough spot because of it.  Maybe it's because I'm still waiting for him to get tired of me and leave.  Maybe it's because my struggle with looking at my friends and wondering why they stick by me is more real with him than just about anyone else.

But there was something that Clayton said to me on Saturday that I haven't forgotten since.  "I think a lot more people love you than you think."  I asked him what he was referring to, and he wrote back "All the Reformation brothers!".  I don't question their love for me, no, but I'm still having a hard time believing that I deserve it.  That I'm a good enough sister to warrant their love, their time, their grace.  But here's the thing, the thing that makes me feel like the world's biggest idiot - when you say yes to the love of Jesus, everyone warrants that love.  Everyone is worthy.  Because the Lord doesn't keep records, or make comparisons, or consider one child more or less worthy than the next one.  God wants all of us, even the ones that the world deems not worth their time.

"We accept the love we think we deserve."  A line from the movie "Perks of Being a Wallflower".  A line that I firmly believe is true, and am still learning how to apply to my own life in such a way that I can accept the love that is pouring at me from all directions, love that I somehow continue to question and push away even though I know I want it and need it, even though I know that the last thing I want to do is push away the people who deem me worthy of the fight to prove their intentions.

How long will my past continue to haunt me?  How long will it continue to affect the choices I make in my relationships today?  This isn't so much causing problems in the relationships as it is driving me insane because I end up in the same place time and time again wondering when I'll stop asking the questions I've asked more times than I can count, leaving me writing blog posts that probably make anyone who reads it feel like they have a wicked case of deja vu.  My friends, the real friends I have now, they know my heart.  They know that it's not anything they are or are not doing that's causing these questions, that it is nothing more than chains I'm caught up in, scars I hold from people who damaged my spirit long before I learned what real love looked like and felt like.  They know that the questions aren't even really about their or their motives or intentions, that they're more questions I ask myself of my own worthiness and of wondering how long it will be before I mess everything up.  They know I'm trying.  I just wish I wasn't still having to try so hard.

Again I return to my problem of remembering to give grace to myself.  I treat these emotional issues that I struggle with as if I expect a switch to just be flipped and the problem to go away the first time I ask for it.  But that's not realistic.  I've learned that many things in life are a process of stepping backward and forward, learning and relearning lessons.  That's why God told the Israelites to pile up stones to remember stories of how the Lord had come to their rescue, and to tell them over and over again to the coming generations - because we're going to forget.  We're going to need to hear something multiple times before it will stick.  I'm so thankful that the Lord is patient and dedicated enough not to get angry when I need to hear something again, and again...and again.  God doesn't hold a grudge.  God doesn't get irritated.  God just wants to help, to teach, to comfort through the current situation.

So indeed, I also pray that God continues to grow my friendship with Austin.  I pray that we grow even closer than we are now, and that we don't lose the gift that is our friendship as I face graduation and moving out-of-state.  But mostly, I pray that I grow as a friend to him and to all of the people that I love, so that one day, I will reach that place of security that I'm lacking now - that one day I will stop wondering why Austin, or any of my brothers, or anyone else is still here and just rest in the fact that they are, that they love me, and that they are a constant and utterly beautiful picture of God's grace and the knowledge that I am loved more than I could ever imagine.

As I grow closer to the Lord, and I find rest in the all-encompassing love that I said yes to two years ago, I know that it will become easier and easier for me to accept the love of the family I have found here on earth.  Because I have to be able to accept love before I can truly give it out.  As long as I continue to grow, though, as long as I continue to seek what is greater, then I'll be okay.  When I get comfortable, when I stop growing, that's when I'm really in danger.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Nope

My body is not cooperating.

Still in a lot of pain and absolutely exhausted.

At least I made it to classes today.

Back to sleep.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Not in the mood to write today.

It's been a very, very physically painful day.

This whole weekend has been painful, actually.

Worse than I've had in quite a while.

In the good news, though, I did my best French transcription yet, my church family is beyond wonderful, and by some miracle, the Wolfpack live to fight another day having made it into the NCAA tournament.

On to another week. I'm excited for Friday so I can go to the soccer game. Here's hoping I hear back from Georgetown this week, too.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Agape

I don't even know how to accurately explain what's going on in my head right now after a long texting conversation with Clayton earlier, but I'm sure gonna try. Because I don't want to forget how I feel right now.

I realized something earlier, while he and I were talking. If there's one group of people whose love I don't ever question, it's my Reformation brothers (well, all but one of them, long story). I don't think I could doubt them even if I wanted to. From the day I met them, they were themselves. When I didn't trust them, they loved me just the same as they did when I could look at them and knew they were my family. In the beginning, when I had a hard time believing that they were authentic, that they were real, that there was no catch to the love and grace they poured upon me, I did what I always do - I pushed them away without meaning to.

But you know what was different? They insisted on loving me just the same. It's like they wouldn't take no for an answer. Even now, they tell me they'd rather be around me in all of my messiness than someone who pretends like everything's perfect when it's not. Because I'm vulnerable with them, they know it's okay for them to be vulnerable with me, too.

I admitted to Clayton that I still have plenty of times that I look at my friends, including my brothers, and wonder how they can still care about me and why they're still here. He wrote back "because true friends love each other with agape love." Agape. What a beautiful word. I'd heard it before when he said it, but I looked it up just to refresh myself of the meaning.

Agape. Unconditional love. The Greek word for love most closely associated with spiritual, Godly love. I never understood quite what it meant to have a friend who exemplified Jesus so well until I met these 15 guys who showed Jesus to me at some of the weakest points I've had since I became a Christian. They saw the good in me when I knew little about them other than their names. Just writing that out, and thinking about how I tried to push them away in the beginning, it reminds me so much of how God pursued me and loved me and wanted to know me when I hated him, and worse, when I knew God was there and didn't care to have a relationship.

These guys, they saw me the way that God sees me from day one. I never had to explain to them that I was doing my best even when I got it all wrong because they just knew. They knew my heart like they know grace and forgiveness. God used them to tear down walls, to heal wounds, and to reignite the desire in my heart to know God better, because God is the one who made them the men that they are, the brothers who love me so well.

I just ran into one of them, Corey, for the first time this semester. It was like no time had passed. That is a gift. These brothers, they are some of the best people I've ever known, and the family I didn't know I needed until I had it. I pray I can take the lessons they have taught me and put them to use in my other relationships. I'm no more deserving of agape love than anyone else.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Oops

Well, had a seizure, fell on my bookbag, which had my laptop in it. You can imagine how that turned out. Cracked screen.

God bless my grandma. She was going to get me a Mac for graduation anyway, so now I'm just getting it a couple of months early. It should be here on Wednesday, so I won't be without a computer for too long. And she let me buy an external hard drive, so I can get all the documents (especially the research for my Seminar paper) and music and pictures off my current laptop. The computer services place on campus can help me transfer it all over.

Also a blessing, I only had one thing that is due between now and Wednesday, and since most of my seminar class is way behind schedule, my professor didn't get upset when I told him I wouldn't have my outline on Tuesday since I can't access my research until I get this hard drive.

State beat a ranked Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament! No one expected us to win, but this was sweet redemption after we lost to them by 1 when they were ranked #1 during the season. Yay! And Carolina is out. Double yay!

Lunch with Clayton was really good. I can't get enough of talking to him.

90 minutes on the phone with Lauren. She is such a gift. :)

So yeah. That was today.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Be kind to everyone you meet.

For they are fighting a battle you know nothing about.

I learn more and more every day that there are so many more good people in the world than there are bad.

And for every mean person that I have to deal with who harasses me about things that they don't have the slightest clue about, I have five people who are by my side to lift me up and encourage me and tell me they're thankful for me.

Today had a lot of ups and downs, some unexpected anxiety, and more frustrations than I was ready for, but it ended with a guy that I've had several classes with share part of his story with me and talk to me about how he grew closer to the Lord through his own trials.  And then he went on to tell me that he knows God has something big for me in the future and that my resilience is going to help carry me there so long as I hold tight to my faith.  It was surprising and insightful and so heartwarming.

And in the middle of our conversation, he mentioned that some people in one of our classes had been saying mean things about me and my seizures, and that even though we don't know each other too well, he couldn't help but tell them how ignorant they were for making assumptions about my life when they'd never spoken to me.  So to see someone I've rarely spoken to over the years step up and defend me, it just reassured my belief that the heart of this school is a lot better than a few select groups might lead you to believe.

This is why I won't stop being nice to people...because they deserve it as much as I ever did, and they each have a story and trials and heartaches that I may never see.  A smile and a kind word is the least I can do.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Dangers of Sleep-Blogging

Well, this is a first.

Apparently, I blogged last night.

I have absolutely no recollection of doing so.

Half of it didn't make sense and I made typos I wouldn't normally make, but still.

I blogged.  In my sleep.

Either I have a sense of dedication I wasn't aware of or I am way more attached to my blog than is healthy.

Sometimes, I don't even understand me.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday

The doc from Duke called today about the labs she got.  My thyroid levels are messed up again, which could very well be the reason why I've wanted to do nothing but sleep for the past month or so.

My Presidency paper has been turned in to Dr. Mero and he already graded it!  So by the end of the week I should have one less F on my record.

I accidentally turned in a paper in Emergency Management tonight that isn't due until next week.  That's a new one, even for me.

I got to have dinner with Austin tonight.  That is always the highlight of my day whenever we get to make it happen.  We all need a friend like that, the one who is always there to remind you that you're not crazy even when you feel like it.

Now, I'm waiting on my friend to bring me some cough drops because I have no money and my throat is in terrible shape  And I'm going to (hopefully) fall into a coma-like state until I have to get up and shower for class tomorrow.  Hence the early blog post.  And the uncreative title.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

I feel a light at the end of this tunnel.

40 pages of work out of my hands.  The Fs on my transcript will be gone soon.

Now I can focus solely on this semester.

Speaking of this semester...

50 days until my day of finals.  (Yep, Political Thought and Emergency Management have finals the same, and possibly my senior exit exam too.  Yay?)

61 days until graduation!!!

So insane.

It's exciting and absolutely terrifying at the same time.

I'm ready, though.

Ready to see what lies ahead.

And ready to soak up these last two months with some of the best people I've ever known.

The good thing about saying goodbye to Campbell is that I don't have to say goodbye to the family I've made.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stupid Pride

My mother is driving me insane tonight.

I missed an email over break that our graduation fair to order my cap & gown and announcements is tomorrow and Tuesday.  I just found it tonight.  Mom and I are both totally broke.  Mom literally has like $20 to her name.  So you know, since there are 3 weeks to payday, you would think that she'd want to keep that little bit of money to go toward gas.

She didn't want to ask Mommom, I didn't want to ask Uncle Ed.

Well, I was talking to a friend who also has anxiety issues about it and how this was stressing me out tonight, and without me ever asking for help or ever even thinking that she would offer to help me, she did.  She told me to find out the prices and get her the details and she would help.  (She doesn't even go to Campbell, she'll be sending me the money via PayPal.)  I texted this to Mom so she didn't have to stress about selling something AND getting money in my bank tomorrow after work.

Well, of course, Mom and her stupid pride and her inability to accept help from anyone sent me back a text accusing me of ASKING this friend to help because I enjoy embarrassing her and saying that I'm now getting my cap & gown and announcements at the cost of her self-respect.  Riiiiiight.

This is the text I sent her back: "I DIDN'T ASK.  She offered without me saying a word!!! But sure think what you want.  Guess what Mom, your pride is not more important than you getting as close as you can to the next paycheck.  You admitted in your room last night that you've never been good at accepting help, and that's what gets you to make stupid choices.  Accepting help from my friend who offered without me even asking does not make you weak or stupid or incapable.  IT MAKES YOU A SINGLE MOTHER AND A TEACHER.  And it makes ____ very very kind."

I'm not going to risk messing up ordering this stuff to protect her stupid pride.  I'm going to accept my friend's help, and she's just going to have to get over it.  And she will.  I'm assuming she's just extra ornery tonight because she's in so much pain from her knee, but that doesn't make her actions any less stupid.  Her obsession with prioritizing her pride over smart choices and practicality has done plenty of damage in the past; you'd think she'd learn by now, or at least ease up a little.  But nope.

The irony of all of this?  I wrote about the dangers of pride towards the end of my French paper last night.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

And then the angels sang.

I FINISHED MY FRENCH PAPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In 8 days, I wrote 13,842 words.  6,694 of them were in French.  I can't believe I actually pulled that off.

I'm so happy I could scream.

Duke beat Carolina.

I'm going back to Campbell tomorrow and getting out of this house.

We've set a date for my graduation party and already gotten a handful of people who have said they are marking it on their calendar now.  :)

One of my very first blog friends got married today.

Today is a very good day.  But after writing 5 pages of my own thoughts on a terribly boring subject, my head is pounding.

Good night.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Inching closer...

75% of the paper is done.

I have no idea what I am going to say in the last 5 pages...

but hey, 15 of the 20 pages are done.

So let's focus on the positive!

That 15 pages are done.

And I'll definitely have this paper done by Monday afternoon.

And I get to go back to Campbell in 2 days.

And this Tina Fey movie is awesome.

And then my sinuses won't hurt anymore.

I'm tired.

Good night.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm such a nerd.

You know how I know I'm such a nerd?

Because completing this 20-page French paper has actually become...fun for me.

I KNOW.

I'm ashamed of myself.

But what can you do?  *shrugs*

I'm on the top of page 12, which means I'm closer to the end than the beginning of this.  Yay!

I'm going to have this thing done by Monday afternoon (the next time I have French class) if it kills me.

And then I will get to dive straight into my Political Thought and Seminar papers.

Yay college.

Is it graduation yet?

2 months and 4 days...

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

To my darling Blake,

You turned four years old today.

Make.  It.  Stop.

Somehow I blinked and you're this little boy with a personality like nobody I've ever met in my life and I don't know what happened to the little baby I was cradling in the recliner.  Right now you're laying in between me and Mimi snoring away, feeling awful after puking earlier.  But what did we think would happen after you ate 5 pieces of pizza, (at least) 4 mini cupcakes, and ice cream and then ran around like a maniac on a sugar high for the next 4 hours?

(By the way, you have the craziest appetite.  You always have.  You should be a giant.  And you also snore like a grown man.  Just saying.)

Oh, kid.  I couldn't love you more if I tried.  Every day of every year I fall more in love with you and feel more determined to protect you and keep you safe and give you the best that I can.  You are adorable and smart and cuddly and funny and weird and stubborn and mischievous and an absolute mess and I wouldn't trade you for anyone in the world.  You drive me insane in the best possible way, like any good nephew.  You are the best part of my life and the biggest reason I still like coming home to see the family.

I don't know the person I'd be if you hadn't been born, and I'm glad I don't have to find out.  Because you, my sweet little man, have taught me more than I could put into words.  You astound me.  I don't know how else to say it.  You absolutely astound me.  Your resilience.  Your sweetness.  Your temper!  Your sense of humor.  Everything about you amazes me, it's as if there had never been another four-year-old boy on the planet before.

There have been others, Blake, but there is no one like you.  Never forget that you are you for a reason, and please, don't waste time like I did trying to be someone you're not, someone you think other people want you to be.  Those people you're trying to please will almost certainly never be happy with you, and life is too short to spend it miserable with yourself.  You are wonderful.  And no matter what anyone tells you, or even what you might tell yourself one day, I think I got the best nephew in the world and I wouldn't trade you for anything.

I can't wait to see what the next year brings for you, and the person you become.  I'm so happy and honored that I get to watch it happen.  You are my favorite person in the world, and don't you forget it.

Some pictures and videos from your birthday...because I turn into a paparazzo when you're around...and because Aunt Holly couldn't be here and I wanted her to see as much as possible.









video


video

I love you more than you know, Blake.

Keep dancing.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Whine, stomp, pout! Suck it up. Get on with it.

So...this whole writing a 20-page paper in French on a subject that is about 100 miles south of interesting?

Yeah, it really blows.

But it's gotta get done, and it's way better now than it would have been had I been trying to write in in the midst of all the school stuff I had to do last semester.

So yeah, I've done a good bit of whining today, but that gets me nowhere, so instead I'm going to count my blessings that Dr. Steegar is still even accepting this paper when he could have stuck me with the F once the incomplete ran out at the end of January.

And I'm going to be just a tad bit proud of myself that I have written 23 pages in 4 days.  I actually ended up finishing paper #2 last night in less than 8 hours of work. :)

I'd normally still be writing, but I have to get up at 6:30 tomorrow to go to Raleigh, so I'm gonna get some sleep.  And tomorrow is a very special day!! :)

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Monday, March 3, 2014

This feels good.

Today, I finished the JFK biography paper: 3,367 words and 10 pages.  Granted, I only had one page to write to finish it, but you know, I finished it.

Then, I took a break to eat a sandwich and immediately got to work on gathering sources for the event paper - on the Bay of Pigs.  In about six hours of work, probably less than that considering breaks for food or because my hips hurt or because the Wolfpack game was getting really close (a comeback win, yay!), I have 6.5 pages and 2,153 words written.  This one has to be 10 pages, as well.  I plan on working on it a little bit more after I eat this bowl of soup Mom brings me, but I doubt I'll get it all done tonight.  Mostly because I think I'm going to have to find a couple more sources to get it to ten pages, and that will take effort to find something I haven't already said.

But still.  To have one paper done, and to know I'm close enough to have the second paper done tomorrow which means the second of my three incompletes will be taken care of?  That feels good.

Turns out, getting into a grad school I've dreamed of going to is pretty good motivation for me to do work :)

Then will come the beast that is my 20-page French paper (in French!)...but we won't think about that right now.

I'm going to think about how good progress feels.

And how good a Wolfpack win against Pittsburgh feels.

And how good this soup is going to feel on my scratchy throat.

Good night and good luck.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sneezing Away

Yep.

My usual "everything in your family's house makes you sick" full-blown allergy attack is here.

I am miserable.  I am one page away from being done with my first paper, so that's not too shabby.

I should have gotten more done today, but what can you do?  I'm drugged up and can't think straight.

Good night.

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