Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Year In Review

Well, this year was certainly nothing like I expected it to be.

I put such value in my relationships with people that it absolutely devastates me to realize that I've lost a friend, but as time goes on, I'm realizing that sometimes...that just happens. No one has every single friend they love stay in their life forever. Some people   really are only meant to be here for a short amount of time, but I've learned that God knows how long a friendship will be good for me and help me grow, and that it's a good thing those friendships end when they stop being healthy, because the pain from that would be far greater in the long run than the pain of losing them. I never expected Ryann to ghost me like she did, and sometimes it still stings, I still want answers, but God has been so faithful to me to strengthen new relationships and to help me find peace with what happened. And as the years pass, I know it's only going to become more difficult. The rest of my soccer boys are going to graduate Campbell, and I will be forced to learn which ones are meant to withstand leaving the college bubble. That scares me, but I have to trust that God knows what is best. Also, after six long years of torment, I managed to finally quit Landon back in August (I don't know that I mentioned that). This year has been a big one in terms of learning that I truly do deserve love and that what he had for me was not that. This is the longest I've ever gone without speaking to him, and sometimes it's still hard, sometimes I still want to text him and see if he's okay, but I don't. It's not that I don't love him, I think a part of me will always love him, I've just finally begun to realize that I have to love myself more.

This blog became less of an obsession/priority this year. To be honest, I had a feeling this was going to happen sooner or later. Writing a post for every single day of the year is a lot for anyone to take on, and I did it for five solid years. Grad school took up a lot of my time this year, as it should, and my depression got bad this summer, so I just didn't have as much to say or the desire to continue that pace. Plus, I just don't have nearly as much free time as I used to to devote to it, and I'm glad I reached the point of realizing it this year, before my internship starts, because I know between that and my Master's thesis, I'm going to have even less free time in the next few months.

One of the biggest surprises for me this year was actually my decision to apply for my Ph.D. For the longest time, I had absolutely no intention of continuing past my Master's, but my mom was constantly bugging me. Gotta love that woman. The more I thought about it, though, thanks to her incessant nagging, I realized that GASP! She was probably right. And I think that it's the right decision. I know that God will direct me in the path that I should go, so if doing my Ph.D. is the best next step for me right now, then I'll get an acceptance (or multiple). It's scary for someone as Type A as me not to know what is coming next, because education wise, this is the first time in my life I don't know what is coming next, but this is a great and big lesson in patience and letting go of control. I can never have too many of those.

I definitely found my footing in New York this year. I stopped feeling like a visitor or like I was waiting to wake up from a dream, and it just became normal life. I found my rhythm. I had tons of new personal experiences that I never saw coming but made me that much more excited to see what and who God is going to bring into my life in the future. I began to feel like I really had friends, even if they were just mostly through church and Spiegel. I slowly began to feel like I maybe belonged in the city, even if my heart ached to be back with my soccer boys and the people who know and love me best. I'm finally feeling comfortable here, even if it feels like I just moved here, and now in 7 or 8 months, I will likely not be living here and will have to start this resettlement process all over again. It's never easy, but I believe that God will be faithful to bring me to a community wherever I end up next, just like what happened in New York.

My One Word for 2015 was fearless. I definitely saw ways that I improved, as I slowly began to trust that God would work out details even when I couldn't see how, like with the PhD stuff or paying for this semester of school or finding an internship. But there's still a long way for me to go. With the Cushing's/brain tumor scare this spring, and then the thyroid tumor scare this fall, plus the months of uncontrollable seizures across the late spring and summer, there were plenty of days that I let fear overtake me and my depression roared its ugly head. But I think that's part of this One Word thing; a year isn't supposed to magically fix everything in a certain area of your life, it's just supposed to open your eyes and start you off on that path to continue growing in the years to come. I'm praying that God will continue to help me become more fearless.

Here's the thing, y'all. I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time. I like to pretend that I do, but I don't. People often treat me like I do, but I really don't. The truth is that growing up is scary, and like most people my age, I'm sort of stumbling my way through hoping that things will make sense eventually. But as the years go on, I've become more and more aware of the fact that I can't do any of this without God walking with me and directing me back to the path that is best for me. God and the people He has placed in my life that are such faithful support to me are the only way I have made it through another year without absolutely losing my mind. And I know that as the years continue to pass, I'm going to need to hold on to that even more because the world is only going to get bigger and the changes are only going to get more intimidating. My prayer for this year, as I face my last semester at NYU and graduation and the overwhelming feeling of trying to figure out what to do next, is that I would remember that God really is enough for me, that with God, I can handle any task or decision that is placed before me.

I'm buckling up for the ride that is coming this new year. I can't wait to see what God has in store for me. Because as the song says, I know it's going to be wild and great and full of Him. And that's all I can ask for.

Happy New Year, lovelies. May peace, grace, love and blessings abound for you in 2016.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ah, family.

Woo boy.

I love my grandma, and I'm glad she took me to Myrtle Beach for the week, but good gracious, sticking us in a condo where we have to do literally every single thing together is a recipe for one of us wanting to strangle the other.

It's officially the 30th, which means I have two weeks left with her, but I just have to make it until Saturday here in the condo, and if we don't drive each other completely insane by then, it will be a holiday miracle.

Things can be great with us, but they can also be really tense. Yeah, I know, family. But we both ended up crying earlier over a game of cards. CARDS. There's competitiveness, and then there's just stupid ridiculousness.

The good news is that the movies we have left to see and going to Dick's Last Resort for New Year's Eve should be good distractions from the ways we can get on each other's nerves.

People always say no one knows how to push your buttons like family, and they're right.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

More than I could ever have asked for.

I've been looking forward to seeing Clayton over this Christmas break since...well, probably the day I last saw him back in January. Suffice it to say, one of my least favorite things about growing up is only being able to see my best friend(s) once a year.

When I realized that I would be in Myrtle Beach for one of the two weeks that he is actually in NC for the holidays, I may or may not have had a mini freakout thinking we weren't going to see each other and that I was going to have to go even longer than a year without hugging my very best friend.

Well, thankfully, with a bit of coordination and help from Mommom, I got to meet him in Warsaw (which is about halfway between our two hometowns) for lunch today. And after this week with losing Jim and everything that went along with that, it was so very needed.

We actually spent a lot of time talking about one pretty serious and personal topic in particular that I've been struggling with. It's way too personal for me to put out on this blog, largely because it involves someone else who I know has found and read this blog before, but just know that it was something that I really needed to discuss with Clayton, and doing it in person did wonders.

I am so, so lucky to have that boy, I swear. His determination to look out for my best interest even when I don't know that I need him to but still being kind and loving when I'm being an idiot is something I don't know how to describe. I wish everyone could have someone like him in their lives. With this particular situation, I'm pretty sure I'd decide to essentially drive myself off a cliff if it weren't for him calling me out.

I remember at one point he was looking at me and I said, "You've never looked at me like that before." He replied, "This is fear. I'm seriously concerned and afraid that you're considering driving yourself off a cliff, and there's nothing I'll be able to do to help you." The look he had on his face is something that's stuck in my head and a big part of the reason that I decided he was right and I wouldn't do what I was considering doing if the opportunity arose. One other thing that he said that really stood out to me was "I know you. I know how deeply you feel things. If you do this, it will not end well for you. It will make you spiral." He knows my past, he knows my history with depression, and he knows how I see people, so I knew that if he really believed doing it would make me spiral, I needed to listen. He saves me from myself.

But mostly, it was just so comforting to be able to see him and touch him and HUG HIM. I practically mauled him in the parking lot when he got out of his car, not even realizing initially that we were standing in the drive-through lane. Ha! And this kid, someone who said he never really liked to hug people before he met me, must have given me like 15 hugs when we were walking out to leave. That's something FaceTime cannot replace. It got to the point where I finally had to say, "Okay, I have to leave now, or I'm never going to stop hugging you." I'm lucky to have a best friend who gives me love the ways that I receive it best - words of affirmation and physical touch.

He also gave me an extra gift and let me record him doing this impression of some guy from The Walking Dead because it's by far my favorite impression of his, but I promised him that I wouldn't put it anywhere online. Some things really must be kept between friends. ;)

I don't know where I'd be right now, how I would have made it through 2015, without Clayton. I'm not even kidding. When my depression got so bad this summer with all the seizures, he was the one who was always there to help me keep my head above the water, no matter when or how often I needed to talk to him. He makes me laugh harder than just about anyone I've ever met and is the best at lifting my spirits when I need it. He's my sensei, always teaching me things and has helped me grow so much closer to God this year.

He is more than I could ever have asked for in a friend. He's my absolute best friend in the world, and I know that I don't have to worry about this friendship, because no matter where we are or how long it takes us to see each other again, we're in this for good.

We could be the greatest team that the world has ever seen.

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Friday, December 25, 2015

It's never dull with us.

Ah, Kropinack family holidays. They never disappoint.

It definitely had a weird fog over it because Mom was there but basically didn't speak, and Dusty wasn't there because he lives in SC now and is part of the Coast Guard, but other than that, it was basically just the kind of weird you would expect when you stick us crazies in a house together and stuff us full of good food.

Blake went ballistic over presents.

We heard all about my cousin Bri's soccer life. My baby cousin flies to India on Sunday as part of a soccer mission trip of sorts. Insane. I still can't believe that girl is almost 17 years old. She is so smart, generous, kind, strong, and talented. I want to be her when I grow up.

We had tons of good food made by Mom, Mommom, and Uncle Kirk.

We reminisced on crazy and silly memories.

Blake spent a solid hour walking up Mommom's stairs, throwing various toys (and one time a porcelain figure from a nativity set that was thankfully still in a box and didn't break) down the stairs, walking back down, then walking back up with it or something else to do it again.

I got clothes I needed, a couple of Wolfpack shirts to add to my collection, and cash. Which is basically all I really wanted or needed.

As crazy and stressful as things can be with this family, I do greatly appreciate it that, for the most part, we can calm things down and actually just enjoy it and each other for a change.

Hope y'all had a Merry Christmas with people you love.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Nightmare You Can't Wake Up From

Sunday night, on the way back from the airport, my mom and I stopped by her boyfriend's house and found him dead.

It was hands down the most horrifying thing I've ever seen. I'd never even seen a dead body before at a funeral, let alone like that.

Somehow, I had the wherewithal to call 911, because Mom could barely breathe enough to tell me the address to his house. Then we had to deal with the paramedics coming to confirm that there was nothing to be done because he'd been gone too long and the police coming to make a report.

Then came the phone calls. I finally got up with his parents, but Mom took the phone long enough to tell them, which was good seeing as I'd never met or spoken to them before.

Then I texted Holly, called Mom's best friend Julie (a professional psychologist of all things), and got Mommom to bring Uncle Kirk over so they could get me and Mom home since she could barely see straight. As I waited for them, I called Clayton and Pastor Ben because I'd been trying so hard to be strong for Mom at first, but by that point I had lost all sense of composure. Eventually we were clear to leave as his parents and their pastor were there to deal with everything else. I barely slept that night because I couldn't get the images out of my head. I didn't really sleep much the next two nights, either.

Today was the funeral. Mom is my hero. She was so strong, I don't know how she did it. Several of the guys that were in the same fraternity as her and Jim were at the funeral, and I know that did her good. His whole family knew that I was with Mom and found his body with her, so I was getting a lot of attention, too, and all I could think was I shouldn't be a concern here.

I'm just heartbroken for her. Jim's dad told her that he had mentioned that he was "going to get engaged this week". She has loved him since she was 15. She went through a marriage that wasn't good, she sacrificed everything for me and my sisters, she was so close to finally getting her happily ever after, and boom, it was ripped away from her. He was the first fatherly figure I've had since my dad died, so that compounds the anger I feel for my mom.

But there's one thing that has been stuck in my head since Sunday night. "God, I don't know what you're doing, but I know who you are." That's all I've got. And I pray that God will help Mom to find peace in the weeks and months to come.

Please pray, not just for my mom, but for Jim's daughter, who is 18 and in the middle of her senior year of high school, his sister, and his parents. Thanks, y'all.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom.

At 3:06 pm today, I emailed in my second and final paper for the semester. (One more semester until I have my Master's. AH!)


And with my internship secured, plus all the Ph.D. applications done, I have absolutely no work to do for the next month.

Last Christmas break, I had all of those big papers weighing on me to make up from my shoulder surgery delaying everything.

Now here's just hoping I don't get sick and kill a bunch of time that way.

I shouldn't get sick, though. Because last year was so awful I ended up in the hospital, I'm just automatically going to Mommom's house and living at her house for the break. We're also going to Myrtle Beach for a week between Christmas and New Year's, so that will be fun.

The downside to being at her house is that she has no wifi. First world problems, I know. I could blog from my phone, but it's such a pain, plus that would use a lot of data, PLUS I cracked my screen a few days ago and am not sure when over break I'll get it replaced. So my blogging will be very scarce over the next few weeks, unless the place we stay at in Myrtle Beach has wifi. But I plan on keeping a journal and will come back and post anything blog-worthy once I'm back in the world of the internet.

I'm so ready to go home. Holly got to go back for a week this summer, but I haven't been back since last Christmas. I'm ready to see Mom again, and Blake! I can't wait to see how big he is now. I'm a little nervous about spending 3.5 weeks with that crazy crowd, but getting to Campbell is my light at the end of the tunnel.

Don't tell my family, but I think I'm more excited to see my people at Campbell than I am to see them.

Okay. Shave. Shower. Chill until my hair dries some. Sleep. That is the rest of my night.

I'm so happy.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Good news!

I got an internship! And at the place that I wanted!

January 18th, literally the day after I fly back to New York, I start at Advancing Human Rights, an organization that helps political dissidents in other countries and, well, you know, advances human rights.

I had the interview last week, and I knew from that point that I really like the people there and if they wanted me, I was going to say yes. It's such a chill environment.

The director had me call him yesterday and told me that they were really impressed by me and "We thought, 'Yeah, we'd like to hang out with this person,'" which cracked me up.

I'm super excited to get started there. I'm not entirely sure what I will be doing, but I know two facets will involve French translating (yay I get to use my French!) and proofreading, because they specifically asked me about those two things. AKA two things I'm really good at so thumbs up for that one.

I won't be talking much about it here on the blog because I don't want to mess up and say something that could jeopardize the work they do, I just want to post that I got it because I'm so happy. God is so good for not letting me get the internship this current semester, because then I wouldn't have gotten this one. I can't wait to see what comes out of the next few months.

When I thanked the director for giving me the opportunity, he said "No, we always thank our interns because you are gifting us with your time, knowledge, and talents, and that's the best thing you can give us." I replied, "Well, you're getting me to graduate on time, so that's the best thing you can give me." And I'm so glad I don't have to worry about finding one while I'm in North Carolina.

One more paper and I will be done with everything for this semester. I'm so ready for a break. I know the four weeks that I'm home are going to fly by, though, so I'm going to do my best to enjoy every second of it.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Blessings in Obedience

Today at church, the message was titled "When God Shows Up." It was our Christmas service, so Pastor Ben talked about how Christmas symbolizes God coming down into the messiness. We don't have to pretend like everything is great and beautiful just because it's the Christmas season, because God purposely chose to insert himself here when he came in the form of that little baby. It's the ultimate story of God showing up for us.

His message was really short because he said they were going to have a couple testimonies shared of God showing up in their lives. Well, while the first one was happening, my sweet friends Betsy and Adam talking about the journey they had to go on to get their son Teddy, I started getting this nudge that I had something to say. At first I thought 'well they have this planned out and Ben didn't ask me to talk and I don't want to be rude' and yada yada yada, but that feeling just kept getting stronger that God was telling me I needed to get up and say what was on my heart.

So I snuck down the side of the theater to Ben and whispered asking could I please have a couple minutes to say something? He said yeah as long as I could keep it really short, which I knew was only because the movie theater people need us out of there at a certain time. So believe it or not, I actually managed to say what I needed to say in about 3 minutes. I know, it's amazing for me!

Here's the thing. As Adam and Betsy spoke, I realized that one of the biggest ways God has shown up in my life in the past couple of years is that he brought me to City Grace. I wouldn't have even heard about or looked up this church if the data in the map app on my phone wasn't wrong in telling me its location. I moved here knowing that finding a church was the best thing for me to do, that I needed a community, but after getting kicked out of one as a teenager and never being truly accepted at another as a new Christian in college, I was scared. I was scared to put myself out there again. I was scared to start at another church and find out that I didn't belong there, either. And I remember when I first started coming to City Grace, I was terrified of really trusting anyone. They seemed so nice, but it seemed too good to be true. Sound familiar?

But God showed up in my life big time when he brought me to this family. They are the people who carried me through all of this craziness since I moved here - all the seizures, the shoulder surgery, both of the tumor scares. They showed me what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ when they brought me food every day after my surgery and checked in on me. They're the first church community that when they say they'll pray for me, I believe they'll actually be praying for me.

Because of City Grace, I found healing from my old bad experiences. Because of City Grace, I learned that though the people in the church are not Jesus, when they do get it right, it's the most beautiful thing in the world. Because of City Grace, I'm not scared anymore. I know that if I leave NYC to pursue my Ph.D. (which honestly will likely happen, but we'll see), I will be brave enough to find another church. Because of City Grace, I will always have family in this city, no matter where I end up.

Ben said to the congregation that me speaking wasn't planned but "how can I say no to someone asking to share how God has shown up for them?" I felt kind of bad after the fact for ambushing him, but he didn't seem to mind because I did keep it short so we still managed to get out of the theater on time. And so many people came up to thank me afterwards for sharing what I did, even a girl who had only been there three times so really knew nothing about me. It was weird, I actually got a little choked up while I was speaking, and I honestly don't remember the last time that happened. But it was so worth it. I wanted to share that and tell the people there who have supported me so faithfully from the beginning just how much God has used them to help me in my life. And I was grateful and relieved to hear that so many other people appreciated it, so I didn't waste their time.

Really, though, the biggest reason that I'm glad I did it is because I really felt it was God telling me to get up and go down there. I was scared Ben would say no, but I knew I had to try. So I got up and went. I was scared people wouldn't understand the point I was trying to say, but I spoke. I got shaky and emotional and for a second wondered what I was doing, but I finished it. Obedience isn't always easy, but God always makes it worth it. And tonight, I'm glad I don't have to go to bed wondering if I should have said something.

Be brave, friends. Even the smallest thing can seem so overwhelming when we know God is calling us into it, I know that. But thankfully, we serve a God who is bigger than anxiety and fear and who can get you through anything that he's calling you to do as long as you're willing. I never thought that public speaking would be something I would get nervous about, but God gave me the courage to get up and ask, the wisdom to say what I needed to say and do it succinctly, and the peace to do it to the end without losing my composure. And he blessed my obedience in getting up by giving me unplanned words that ended up touching a lot of people.

I've known for a while that God has given me a platform of sorts to minister to and help people with the things that I've learned through my life story. I'm glad I got up upon his prodding today, and I pray for the faithfulness to continue to listen out for his leadings. Because I'm learning that in being obedient and helping others through sharing my story, I'm helping myself, too.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Hunting Ground

Thanks to an article on, I learned about a documentary called The Hunting Ground, an insight into the epidemic that is rape and sexual assault on college campuses.

It was so well done. I loved how it went from dark and depressed and painful to slowly building up to empowerment and resilience and the survivors and allies starting a movement for change.

But mostly, it just made me sick. It made me sick to see how colleges and universities have made victim-blaming the norm, how they've chosen to protect their image and reputation for future students  and their donations instead of protecting their students from predators. Their lack of concern for victims and their atrocious investigative and adjudicative processes are horrifying. You wouldn't believe some of the "punishments" schools have come up with: one-day suspensions, $25 fines, writing a paper, 50 hours of community service at a sexual assault crisis center...Here was my favorite one: "expulsion upon graduation". UPON GRADUATION. There was one girl who had a written confession from the guy who assaulted her, and her school said it still wasn't enough. The documentary had shots of statistics of various schools comparing their number of reported sexual assaults and the number of suspensions/expulsions. One school (I don't remember which) had 0 expulsions for sexual assault but 183 for other violations of the honor code. It's so unbelievable you kind of forget for a minute that you're dealing with real life.

I didn't really want to punch something, though, until it got to the section on student-athletes and how even more protected they are. Yes, I know that the vast majority of student-athletes are good people and not sexual predators - the documentary acknowledges that, as well - but the ones who are can practically get away with murder if they're good on a field. One Notre Dame football player was under investigation for sexual assault, but the school claimed "they couldn't find him" despite the fact that he played two home games before they finally "found him". Apparently, they have a rule that campus police are not allowed to go to the athletic facility to find a player or use anyone on the athletics staff to help them...I wish I were kidding. These players get accused of awful assaults and rapes, but if they're good on a court or field, that apparently makes them untouchable. Worse yet is when you see fans online attacking accusers because they dared to call out these "good guy" players. A girl is raped or assaulted, and yet she is pretty much run out of school, or even the city, because she says that her attacker is someone on a sports team.

Case in point: Erica Kinsman. She was "allegedly" (apparently I'm supposed to put that since he was never charged or convicted) raped by Jameis Winston, former Florida State and current Tampa Bay QB, yet because the cop who originally interviewed her in the hospital as he saw bruises appearing on her body was an FSU alum and worked for an organization that fundraised for FSU athletics, she wasn't taken seriously and was basically asked if she was "really sure" she wanted to press charges because she would probably be run out of Tallahassee if she accused the QB who was leading FSU football, eventually to a national championship. It took them nearly a year to do ANYTHING on her case; in the meantime, another girl came forward as his victim, he got in more legal trouble, and he won the freaking Heisman Trophy. An award meant to be given to an athlete who works with integrity was given to a guy with rape accusations against him. Her rape kit wasn't processed for nearly a year, and then the prosecuting attorney decided there "wasn't enough evidence" even when the rape kit came back as a match to Winston. And here's the kicker - guess the reason FSU decided they wouldn't investigate any further....because Winston refused to answer any of their questions. Now Winston is claiming he's going to sue CNN for showing this documentary, and I seriously hope that he does because the whole world needs to see what he's gotten away with. It doesn't take a genius to listen to and look at Erica as she tells her story to know that she's not just some fame whore looking to go after "Jameis Christ"...yes, an FSU fan actually called him that in the documentary. She is a girl who was violated and attacked by this guy, and then violated all over again by a school and a city who refused to believe or help her.

Someone I know was raped. She was treated just like the girls in this documentary were treated - like she was making it up, like she had gotten too drunk, like she screwed up somehow. So yeah, this is really personal to me, because I've seen what it does to someone. That leads me to ask a few questions.

Where is our humanity?! When did people stop being more important than money and reputations? Why do schools get to decide if someone was actually raped or not? Why is sexual assault the only crime in which victims get blamed?

But seriously, where the hell is our humanity? With everything that's going on in the world today, a lot of Americans act like we're the greatest thing in the world and take such great care of our own, but all you have to do is listen to this group of young women and men (because don't you dare say it doesn't happen to men, too) talk about how they were treated when they sought justice for their assault, and you'll see that we have some big problems in taking care of our own. Because not only do we not address this massive problem, most people even refuse to admit that it's a problem! And that is how rapists get away with it and repeat offenders get to walk around campuses terrifying their victims sometimes without even saying a word.

Can someone please explain to me how freshman girls can get raped before their first semester of classes even begins and it goes unnoticed? How a girl can commit suicide after being raped by basketball players and her school says nothing? How a school can actually find a person guilty of the assault and then not even tell the victims that the appeals process had happened and they had decided to overturn the decision until it was all over? How MULTIPLE studies can show that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in college and no school seems to care enough to do something to change that statistic?

Yes, it's great that some presidents like Drew Faust of Harvard have come out and acknowledged this issue and apologized to their present and former students, but that is not enough. Something has to change. What will it take? I'm scared to find out.

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These Two

In just a few hours, these two boys of mine will be in the middle of their graduation ceremony. This is another time I'm really grateful for whoever invented the livestream, because I get the joy of watching it happen from more than 500 miles away.

I would scream it from the rooftops if I could just how proud I am of these two. They have stories that inspire me, faith that teaches me, and wisdom that pushes me to grow. They are two of my most favorite people in all the world, and tomorrow will mean as much to me as it would if it were Holly's graduation. I'm so proud of who they are and who I know they'll become. I know that God has great and wild plans for them, and I'm so honored that I get to play even a small part in all of it, because I know that they are going to do big things. There's not a doubt in my mind that God is going to use them to affect people.

They are an example of why my heart will always be tied to Campbell. I originally didn't even want to go to that school, but God knew that it was exactly what I needed. It may have taken me a few years, but I found the first family I felt like I could really trust and was completely safe with. I found the people who broke all the stereotypes I held because of my scars, and when I expected them to reject me, they instead insisted on getting close to me and taking me in. That campus will forever hold some of my dearest memories and spots that will stick in my mind holding stories that I cherish. I can't imagine what my life would look like now if I hadn't met my boys, especially Reafe and Ricky, and I'm so glad I don't have to know, because they have changed my life impermeably and forever. They're too humble to admit how wonderful they are or what a gift they are to me, but I'll keep saying it because my gratitude for and awe of them hasn't been diminished one bit. Campbell will always be not just my alma mater, but also the place where I met my best friends.

These two are also a prime example of why I can never regret my friendship with Ryann. I did initially because I was so hurt, but the truth is that while she may have caused me a great deal of pain in the end, it was because of her that I got to know these boys. Because I knew her, she took me to lunch the day that I initially met Bryce. Because I met Bryce, I knew who he was when I randomly went to the soccer game with Paige. Because I was at the game, I was in the parking lot to run into him after the game where he called me his good luck charm and asked me to come back. And it was because I came back that he invited me to the after-game meals and he introduced me/I introduced myself to the boys. So yeah, I will always be grateful I was friends with her because I now have these guys whose loyalty to me I can't ever question.

I am more than ready to go back to Campbell in a month (a month from tomorrow, actually!), but I already know that it's going to be really, really weird to see the other boys and not have Reafe and Ricky there. I know that leaving is what they have to do and what is best for them, but with them both being from other countries, I selfishly wish they'd still be there, because it's scary not knowing when you'll be reunited with two people that you love more than you can put into words. I'm thankful that God showered His grace upon us so that we could form this bond to begin with, and I have faith that God will bring us back together one day sooner than I expect. I also know that the bond we have is one that will outlast time and distance.

But that doesn't mean I'm not sad. I remember how I felt when I saw them for the last time before I graduated, but then at least I knew I'd be able to come back to visit. And when I saw them last January, I didn't realize they were graduating now; I thought they'd be graduating in May and I would get one more visit with them. So I didn't know that that time was my last. So I'm sad. Sad that I didn't treasure those goodbye hugs enough to last me for who-knows-how-long; y'all know what hugs mean to me. Sad that I didn't know just how big of a deal saying goodbye really was last time. Sad that I didn't have as much time as I thought I did. Sad that things are going to be very different when I visit this time.

Sigh. This is what happens in life, I guess. People grow up and you move apart and your best friends stop being minutes away. Some friendships will outlast the changes. But some won't, and that's the scary part. I don't want to lose any of these guys. But one thing I know is that God has proven His faithfulness in my friendships. He has brought exactly the people that I needed when I needed them and has kept the people who needed to be here in my life. He knows what is coming for me and all of the boys, and He knows where we'll be one, five, ten years from now. God knows what He's doing, of this I am sure.

Well, this post took a much more serious tone than I originally intended. Ah well, I'm choosing not to think so far in the future for now, and instead focus on tomorrow, my two incredible brothers, and the huge milestone that tomorrow is. I choose to celebrate them. They've earned it.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

I think I can...I think I can...

10 days.

That's what stands between me and North Carolina.

I have to get a thesis plan together for next semester, plus write my two final papers.

That's it.

I've also had a couple good interviews for possible internships, so I'm hopeful that that will work out.

I'm so ready for a break.

This just seems like so much to do in the next 10 days...mostly because I have had a killer headache for four days.

Like, the kind of headache that has kept me up miserable so late at night that I have overslept two days in a row. Yesterday for my interview and today for class. Ugh.

But it'll get done.

I hope so.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can...

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Four Hours

You know that feeling when you spend a really long time on the phone with someone, and when it's over, you can't really believe it was that long because it didn't feel like that much time had passed?

Yeah, that was me tonight. I spent four hours on FaceTime with Ricky tonight. Four hours. I want to say I didn't know I had the stamina for that, but let's be real, this is me we're talking about. I guess it's more along the lines of I didn't know I could have a conversation that long and not have there be any awkward pauses where we run out of things to say. I think our last record was three hours, but the first two of that were basically spent with me just watching him play FIFA. This was four solid hours of talking and singing songs for each other.

And it was amazing. Granted, I have a lot of work to do, but this was so worth it. The work will get done. It always does. I knew from the beginning that he needed it, but what I didn't realize was that I needed it, too. Isn't it funny how that works? You think you're doing something to help someone, and then you end up getting a big benefit from it, as well. It's like God knows what He's doing or something.

After some of the things we covered tonight, I just can't help but say that I so dearly love this guy. He has a pretty powerful story, too, totally different from mine but still very powerful, so we understand each other in a way that most people can't or don't. It's comforting to have someone who grapples with a lot of the same questions that I do and who approaches things from the same perspective. It's a safe place for the both of us. I told him today there's nothing he doesn't know about me, and he said I know everything about him, too, and it just spoke to me how safe we both really do feel. It's a friendship where I have no doubts that it's a two-way, symbiotic, both-are-giving-and-receiving kind of friendship because we've both needed to be there for each other over the past few months. We know what the other one needs. And I never feel more fulfilled than when I get to help people.

Ricky makes me feel adored, and valued, and appreciated. He's the kind of man I would like to marry one day. I'm so thankful I get to call him my big brother.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

What is this?

I have finished all of my Ph.D. applications.

2 of them were on time, but 3 of them were early. Highly unusual for me.

But here's what is really blowing my mind:

3 of the 5 are to freaking Ivy League schools.

I have officially applied to Columbia, Yale, and Princeton.

If you told me five years ago, or even one year ago, that this is what I'd be doing now, I would have told you that you were insane.

Now comes the oh-so-torturous part: waiting.

Some of them may not release decisions until April.

I don't know if you've figured this out over the 6+ years of this blog, but I am not good at waiting patiently.

Like, AT ALL.

Lord, help me.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015


Sometimes I feel like people have me on a pedestal.

It seems like people take the fact that God has given me this crazy life story and that I am a miracle and equate it with me being Superwoman and so much stronger than them.

People see all these amazing qualities in me, yet I'm sitting here thinking that I'm such a disaster I don't know how they see what they do.

I know there are people that are looking up to me and learning from me, and while I am genuinely so honored that God has given me this platform of sorts, sometimes I get really overwhelmed. I feel this pressure to be someone worthy of being looked up to, not because of anything other people are saying or doing, but because I just so badly want to get this right. I want to take what God has given me and make something good come from it. I want to help people, but I'm not always sure I know what to do to do that.

But I was talking to Clayton about all of this tonight, and he helped me see something I hadn't realized before. People look up to the saints. People want to emulate the saints. Yet the saints still screwed up a good bit. The people who are looking up to me and learning from me aren't expecting me to be perfect. They may have me on a bit of a pedestal, but that doesn't mean they've forgotten I'm human.

Tonight, Ricky told me that he learned just how real God's presence really is when he met me. That boy never ceases to humble me with his words, but these ones in particular were a really good reminder for me. I felt like it was God reminding me that even when I feel like I'm getting everything wrong, He's still using me. Because in the end, it's not really so much about what I can do as it is what I'm willing to let God do through me.

He's the one in control here. He's the one telling the story, I'm just the keys on the keyboard. He's the one painting the picture in my life, I'm just the paintbrush. If there's one thing I know in all of this, it's that God will make something out of my life that is so much more beautiful than I could even imagine.

Thank God for that. I don't have a chance at getting any of this right without Him.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

19 days and counting down.

That's how long I have.

That's how long I have until I get to get on a plane and go back to North Carolina for the first time since LAST Christmas.

Time with my Mom, a week in Myrtle Beach with my grandma, Christmas (and Christmas food!), seeing Matt for the first time since my graduation last May, and then sweet sweet time at Campbell to end on a high note. (Because let's face it, there are going to be plenty of downs while I'm in Swansboro, because family.)

But to get to all of that, I have to get through three more days of classes (because one professor scheduled an extra day since she was sick twice. Yay me.), write two final term papers, get everything sorted out to get into my Master's seminar, and finish five PhD applications on time.

And I also have to find an internship and get everything sorted out to get into the Internship seminar so I can, you know, graduate on time. I technically have until the end of January for that, but I know that it will be infinitely more complicated while I'm in NC for four weeks and staying at my grandma's house without Wifi (since I ended up in the hospital after staying at my mom's house last winter, that won't be happening again. So it would be really, really awesome if I could get everything sorted out before I leave.

It'll all work out. It has to. But today has not been my day. First, I went to go get lunch from the deli, realized I couldn't find my keys, and spent the next 2.5 hours tearing apart my room and looking in every weird and random place my friends (thanks Summer and Emma) could think of, until I just gave up and asked my landlord to make me a new set. Luckily, he's pretty much the nicest guy you could ever want to run your apartment building so he had no problem doing that. Then, I spent an hour going through phone hell trying to figure out how to get my TFAS grade records from Georgetown online; luckily, the IT help desk got me into the system and they still had what I needed online after 3 years. Campbell, however, takes you out of the system upon graduating, so I have to wait for the transcript copy to get here in the email, and I have one application due tomorrow and the transcript isn't due to arrive until Thursday, so I had to spend a sweet forever talking to that university trying to figure out what I could do to still submit my application on time; plus, I realized I sent my GRE scores to the wrong school at Columbia, and while the school I sent it to had no problem sending the scores over to the right school, the right school normally does not accept reports transferred between schools, even though it's an official report, so I have to hope and pray they'll make an exception so I don't have to spend another $30 to get another report sent out. Then, after I took a picture of my NYU transcript and uploaded it (because I can use that for uploading transcripts to applications), I could've sworn I put it back in my desk where it had been before, but then I went back to look for it and couldn't find it anywhere. Because of course.

At that point, I was just like "Okay, life, you win. I give up for today." Because with still feeling awful from Sunday and so much else in my head, I just about started crying this afternoon from all the added stress.

With that said, I'm going to bed now, hoping for a better, easier, clearer, more productive day tomorrow.

It kind of has to be, since Columbia needs my application.

Yay adulthood. Campbell's exam week starts tomorrow, and I would totally go back to that.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's always something with me.

I ended up in the ER today.

Not because of a seizure, praise God, but because of chest pain unlike anything I can recall having ever experienced.

After a bunch of bloodwork and a chest X-ray, everything came back normal, and a dose of morphine took my pain down enough that I was no longer wanting to scream and cry, the doctor came in and said everything came back normal. He said that because I've had pleurisy attacks in the past, that was his best guess as to what was going on, despite not being able to see inflammation on the X-ray. Either way, he said there was nothing he could do, so he sent me home. My pain level was still at an 8. I knew he was right, that there wasn't really anything he could do after ruling out all of the scary stuff, but it still wasn't comforting to go home in that much pain without pretty confident answers.

The one positive of this trip, aside from it not being because of a seizure, is that I had a nurse that I absolutely love. And after the doc first ordered me a pain med that is basically glorified Ibuprofen (even though he knew I'd already taken Ibuprofen) and that I knew wouldn't work, but I took it to appease him, my nurse went back and got the doc to get me the morphine because the pain had only gotten worse. Yay for a great nurse and a doc who didn't treat me like a drug-seeker.

Of course this was the one day that I didn't bring my phone charger thinking it wouldn't be a big deal for the two hours I'd be at church (thanks, Murphy's law), but I managed to make my phone battery last through the whole time until I got home. I'm really thankful for that because I had the three girls who helped me at church when all of this happened plus several of my friends praying and keeping me "company." That's about all I can ask for.

I'm not worried about all of this. I know I'll be fine, and that I'm just going to be pretty miserable for a while until it goes away. I'm really just aggravated with the timing. This pain really, really sucks, and the next 3 weeks until the end of the semester and I leave for NC are going to be absolutely crazy and packed to the max, so I cannot afford to have pain make me waste any of my days. So if you see this, if you wouldn't mind praying that this pain goes away soon and that I can handle all of my work in the meantime, I would really appreciate it.

Okay, I'm going to watch my Sunday night TV show, Quantico (check it out!!!), and go to bed. Because morphine.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Wish

I wish things could go back to the way they were. The way they were when none of this had happened and we were just good friends who could talk about anything.

I wish I'd never told you how I felt. It seems like that was the spark that made everything explode.

I wish you'd never texted me. Because then I saw a side of you I never knew existed and a side that changed the way I look at you.

I wish I could quit feeling the way I do. I know it's not worth it. I know it's just setting myself up for disaster. But as much as I've been pretending it's not still this way, it really is.

I wish I wasn't so good at reading into things. Reading into the things you said and taking them the way I (and others) thought they came across only to find out that that wasn't it at all was crushing.

I wish we weren't on different pages. Things would be so much easier that way.

I wish I wasn't scared of you. That I wasn't terrified you'll hurt me again. That the idea of talking to you again didn't make my palms sweat. Because you were always one of the people it was easiest for me to talk to, and I miss that. But I'm scared I'll find confirmation that things really have irreparably changed.

I wish I could trust you again. But not only did what you did to begin with damage that trust, the fact that you still don't realize exactly why what you did hurt me so badly makes me wonder if you understand anything about me at all.

I wish I didn't let you in as far as I did. That feels like a huge mistake now, even as I hope and pray that things will go back to the way they were in the beginning, because I want to be wrong about this. I want this to not have as many lasting effects as I think it's going to.

I wish you, and this, didn't make me feel so weak. I worked so hard to get out of a relationship that completely broke me down and destroyed my confidence in myself and in my strength, and then I fell into this.

I wish I could forget this. That you weren't the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I fall asleep.

I wish I could forget you. I would feel so much less overwhelmed if I could just forget you ever meant so much to me, because then this wouldn't mean so much to me.

I wish I could just hate you, honestly. Because then I wouldn't feel like this. Then I wouldn't want things to go back to the way they were and risk getting hurt all over again. Then I'd be able to get you out of my head because I wouldn't want you there. But I don't hate anyone; anyone who knows me knows that.

So I don't hate you, not even close. I hate the way you make me feel, but I don't hate you. I hate what happened, but I don't hate you. I hate being scared, but I don't hate you. I hate that you hurt me, but I don't hate you. I hate missing you, but I don't hate you.

I love you. Beyond all explanation, I do. And I hope you still love me in some way.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

On Love and Equality

Fair warning: I'm going to talk about gay marriage in this post. Don't like it? Feel free to stop reading here.

Tonight, my friend Summer told me to watch this documentary called Bridegroom, the story of Tom and Shane, two men in love, in a deeply committed relationship that was cut short when Tom died in a tragic accidental fall off a roof. Tom's very conservative parents took Tom's body back to their home state and cut Shane out of the picture, banning him from the funeral and acting as though he never existed at Tom's funeral service.

The movie is an hour and twenty minutes long, and in that 80 minutes, I smiled at the stories of how wonderful Tom's friends made him seem, I was envious of the love that he and Shane had, I laughed hysterically at Shane's grandma and great-grandma (seriously), I felt heartbroken, I wanted to punch Tom's parents in the throat, and then I smiled again knowing that Tom's dream came true and gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states.

I just don't get it. I don't get how parents can physically attack their son just because he told them he was gay, and then use the Bible to justify it. I don't understand how they can threaten the man he loved with physical harm if he so much as showed up to the funeral. I don't get how they can be so in denial about a huge part of who their son is that they won't even accept it after he's dead. And the sickening part to me is that I know that Tom's parents aren't the only people in America who would act like this towards their children and their same-sex partners/husbands/wives.

When did "religious liberty" become more important than love? When did six verses in the Bible, none of which were said by Jesus, become more important than the King we're supposed to serve, the one whose two greatest commandments are both about love? When did fear of something different, something you may not naturally understand, become more important than relationships?

I don't understand how someone could be so stuck in their belief system that they would kick another person out of their lives (Shane lost his best friend and was ostracized by his entire town). I don't understand how you can decide that someone, another living and breathing human being, is worthless or evil or disgusting simply because they love someone of the same sex. This world is screwed up enough as it is and has plenty of hateful people in it. Why would anyone want to vilify some of the others who are just trying to live in love?

A lot of evangelicals in America seem to think that "freedom of religion" means they get to force their Christian beliefs on the rest of the country, arguing that "America needs to get back to its Christian morals." But here's the thing - America wasn't founded on Christian morals. America's foundation is built on not giving preference to one religion over another, or religion over agnosticism/atheism. And also? These Christian evangelicals are so sure about what the Bible says, but here's a little passage from Matthew Paul Turner that I completely agree with.

What if all of your "God inspired" declarations about the LGBTQ communities are incorrect? What if all of those Bible verses you point to in defense of your opinions don't mean what you think they mean? Or what if they do mean what you think they mean, except they were written with context for a particular people during a particular time because of particular circumstances...But what if you're wrong? What if all of the blatant statements you've made against gay people are little more than wasted words, spiritualized hatred that you've mistakenly packaged with Christ? What if all of the time/energy you've spent fighting/debating/proclamating is just lost time/energy that could have been used for some other, more life-giving activity? Being passionately wrong has consequences, and that's true regardless of whether or not you present your views hatefully or with so-called Christian love.

I wish people would quit acting like they're being victimized by LGBTQ+ people, as well as their allies, bringing this issue to the forefront of conversation and moving the normalization of same-sex relationships forward. Who someone else is in love with does not hurt you, gay or straight. They are not victims of the LGBTQ+ community; they are victims of their own fear, which paralyzes them from relationships with people that can be just as supportive, loving, and life-giving as straight people. This fear can play out in many different relationships, I know it has in my life, but it just makes even less sense to me when you refuse to get to know someone because you see them as less than simply because of their sexual orientation.

You know what I thought for the majority of Bridegroom? I thought that I hope I find a love like Shane and Tom's one day. I've met my fair share of people in loving, beautiful relationships/marriages, but there was something about the way that Shane talked about Tom, and the way that Shane's family and their friends talked about their relationship, that just screamed this is something special. As cliché as it is, love is love. It doesn't matter the sex of the people in the relationship. You know real, deep love when you see it. What's in between someone's legs has nothing to do with their ability to love or be loved.

It is not a choice. It is not something that can be prayed away. It is not something that can be "fixed" by a psychiatrist. It is not a mind game or a joke. Shane tells his story of praying he wasn't gay, and I've heard similar stories from friends of mine who are gay. I've also heard comments from people who seem to not only genuinely believe that gay people choose to be gay, but also don't understand the point when someone asks them if they chose to be straight. No one would choose to be something that gets them tormented, ostracized, and sometimes attacked. Correct me if I wrong, but don't you want to just be accepted and loved as you are? Yeah? Well, what makes you think gay people are any different?

I hope that fifty years from now, people will look at homophobia the way that many of us look at racism now, that it will seem backwards and wrong and not make sense. Because while gay marriage becoming legalized in all 50 states is a huge step forward, we still have so far to go. Kids (and I mean actual, like, 11-year-old kids) are committing suicide because they're being bullied for being gay. Parents are throwing their children, the ones they're supposed to love and protect, out on the streets because they're gay. Stuff like this is just not okay.

Even if you are someone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, where's your human decency? Where are the pro-life people fighting for all life? Sexual orientation does not make up all that a person is. LGBT+ people, just like straight people, are people with hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, passions, talents, and love in them. God made every single one of us in His image, a masterpiece, a beautiful work of art. God is perfect, righteous, and good. A perfect God doesn't make mistakes. He knew each one of us before we were born. He knew exactly who each one of us would be. We are wonderfully made. No corollaries, no classifications.

I long for the day when we can stop classifying them as LGBT+ people and just see them like everyone else is seen: as people.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Get out of my head.

You know how people say, like, "If I tell you don't think about a purple elephant, don't think about a purple elephant, don't think about a purple elephant, what are you going to be thinking about? A purple elephant."?

Yeah, well, I have a purple elephant in my head.

I was starting to do so well forgetting something/someone, not thinking about it, putting it behind me and starting to feel like my normal self again emotionally...and then I started having dreams.

Every time I slept. Dreams.

Bad dreams.

About the same person. And the same thing.

Without fail.

Which, as you might guess, kind of ruins the whole "forgetting about it" thing because all of these dreams get in my head, and then the more I tell myself to forget about it and shake it off and move on, the more it sticks.

I hate this. I hate that this person has so much control over my emotions, especially considering they almost certainly have no clue how much they're controlling.

I hate that things may never go back to the way they were.

I hate being reminded of just how much damage words can do.

I hate how everything blew up so quickly.

I hate realizing that there's a lot I don't know about someone I thought I knew very well.

And mostly, right now, I just really hate that I can't get this stupid purple elephant out of my head.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015


Relationship issues with a friend of mine over the past 3 weeks have pulled some old wounds back to the surface, both very old wounds that I didn't realize were still there and pretty new wounds that are still stinging and still a bit raw. So it's been hard.

Forgiveness wasn't the hard part. Forgiveness was easy. I've forgiven this friend. The hard part is getting a grasp on the fear that all of this current stuff triggered because of the stuff I've been through in the past.

It wasn't until therapy today that I realized that I've been putting relationships from my past (ex. Landon) on this current friendship and this current problem. This friend is not Landon. This is the first time this friend has ever given me, shall we say, cause for concern, and we've actually had a conversation to reconcile things, whereas Landon never would have been open to having that conversation and hearing me out to understand where I was coming from. This friend has made it clear that they want to remain friends, whereas Landon would have shown no sign of concern at the possibility of losing me.

I've been scared to talk to this friend because I'm scared of getting played, I'm scared of getting hurt again, but my therapist helped me realize that if I didn't talk to them despite the fear, the trust would never be rebuilt and I might as well give up on our friendship now.

I read online yesterday a quote that hit me really hard. "A life worth living is dangerous." I can't allow what has happened to let me shut myself down again. It's still very hard for me to let people in very far, especially as far as I let this friend in, so now that that trust has been betrayed, my instinct is to go "See, this is why I shouldn't trust people," but the real truth is that I have so many people who love me. And if I hadn't trusted enough to let people into my life, I would have missed out on so many friendships in the past few years that have made me better, stronger, and wiser. And I wouldn't trade those people to avoid all the heartache in the world.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I came to a realization today. I was under the mistaken impression that because I've grown so much from the person that I was before, that I would be able to leave the pain and scars that girl faced in the past along with her. But they are always going to be a part of me. They are always going to color my perspective in some sense.

The key is this: I can't let the triggers of my past dictate the relationships of my future. That's not fair to the people in my life now, and it's also not fair to me.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Price of Authenticity

Authentic relationships come at a price.

To get them, you have to give up your walls and your facades, and you also have to let go of your fear of seeing behind other people's walls. You have to put your heart on the line, even when it's hard, and you have to see the hearts of those around you beyond the ugly stuff that will often make people run away. You have to let go of your pride and pick up more empathy than most of us are naturally accustomed to carrying.

In the world we live in today, the world of social media and privacy settings and Instagram filters, we get to pick and choose the image that we want to put out. We get to post the pictures of the beautiful things and the fun experiences and write the statuses about how wonderful life is without having to tell people when we're struggling if we don't want to. And telling people about all the awesome things going on is a lot easier and more comfortable than admitting that life may not be so great right now.

It can be terrifying to have someone else's vulnerabilities laid out right in front of you, just as terrifying as if you're the one who is putting the most personal parts of yourself out there open for judgment or rejection. It's so much easier to say, "Nope. Forget it." Organic food is all the rage, but organic relationships scare the crap out of us.

I know. I had to deal with it today. I went to lunch with a girl from church, and she asked me to tell her my story. I love sharing my story with people, that's no secret, but that doesn't make it easy to do it. It's hard to go back to memories I've worked so hard to move past. It's hard to talk about my dad, even after 16 years, because I get hit with the reminder of everything I've missed out on. It's hard to talk about feelings because they take me back to the girl I spent so much time letting go of and moving beyond.

When you let go and get real, things get messy. But they also get so much more beautiful. It's beautiful to have people who know you in your bones and stand by you. Because those people, those relationships, they're what get you through life when everything feels like it's falling apart. For me, the people with whom I've managed to form authentic relationships are the people I can't imagine my life without now. They're the people whom I can run to when I'm upset or lost or angry or hurt and know that I don't have to be afraid to say whatever I'm feeling. They're the people who know my deepest scars, where I've been, and what I'm most afraid of.

But the most beautiful part is they know that I'll be just as loyal to them through their messy stuff as they are to me. Authentic relationships are about safety for both people, not just one. Clayton, knowing that I often worry about taking too much and not giving enough, once told me in order to assuage my fears that our relationship wouldn't possibly go as deep or be as strong as it is if he were the only one giving. That's something that has always stuck with me, because it's not just a reminder of how strong our relationship is, but also the fact that God can do so much good through us, even when we can't see how it's possible.

You don't have to always get it right, because let's face it - none of us will always get it right. When our relationships are truly authentic, we don't have to always get it right because the relationships will overcome the times we mess everything up. I got to experience that this weekend. The past two weeks have been really tough with someone that has been very, very dear to me for a couple years now, and honestly, I wondered for a bit if we could overcome it, but we had a conversation yesterday that I believe led us back to the place of understanding each other we'd always been at before everything sort of...blew up. This person and I, we've both always said that nothing could break the bond that we have with each other, and considering this is the first time we've ever had a problem, it's really nice to get the confirmation that we were right.

So yeah, authentic relationships cost a lot. But if you ask me, the reward makes it all worth it.

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Friday, November 13, 2015


Visiting Paris was one of the reasons I decided to take French in high school.

It's one of the reasons my dream became becoming the US Ambassador to France.

This city holds a very special place in my heart.

My heart aches for the people of that beautiful city tonight. For the lives lost. For their loved ones left behind. For the shooting survivors. For all the people of Paris, whose lives have been torn apart this year from this tragedy so soon after recovering from the Charlie Hebdo attack in January.

So we must pray. And we must let the people of France know that we are with them.

It was such a beautiful sight to me to see shots of One World Trade's spire lit up in the colors of the French flag. After 9/11, a giant American flag was spread out near the Eiffel Tower. We are all one.

But you know what the beautiful part about today is?

If you're on Twitter, check out the hashtags #PorteOuverte and #strandedinUS.

Porte Ouverte is people living all over Paris opening their doors to people who can't get home for whatever reason seeking refuge from the chaos (with taxi drivers turning off their meters to get everyone where they need to go).

Stranded in US is people all over America taking in people whose France-bound flights were canceled when the French president closed the borders.

Love is greater than fear.

Light is greater than dark.


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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The harsh reality.

This video is hard to watch, but it's needed.
A bunch of veterans talk about their first kill….and it’s intense
God bless our veterans. They do what I'd never be brave enough to do and carry home memories I can't even begin to fathom.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

On to the semis!

Oh my boys.

November certainly has been an interesting month for them.

November 4th, they played Liberty and one of the freshmen whom I've started getting to know and already semi-adopted scored this AMAZING goal on a free kick from like 30 yards out. It was so amazing it got recognized by FOX Soccer. A huge deal for someone from this tiny school. Watch. :)

November 7th, they had their final regular season game against UNC Asheville. As I said before, if they won this, they would earn the #4 seed in the conference and earn the right to host their quarterfinal match of the tournament. A kid named Brad scored his 14th goal of the season to secure the 1-0 win for us. Quarterfinal at home Tuesday!

Then came tonight. Game against Longwood, playing for passage to the semifinals. Longwood beat us 2-1 at the end of September, so not only was this big for tournament reasons, I knew it would feel good for the boys to get a revenge win. This game was INTENSE. The field was muddy because they've been getting a ton of rain, so bodies were flying all over the place, leading to some fouls that may not have happened if the field were dry. It also led to some hilarious moments from Josh and Isaiah where they LEAPED over defenders who had slipped in front of them. Longwood got on the board first off a corner kick. Brad (surprise surprise) spun around like three defenders AND the goalie and scored a goal just five minutes later. Then, Longwood got up 2-1 just before halftime.

I may or may not have screaming at my computer throughout the second half, praying that they would at least get an equalizer to send it to overtime. Oh, me of little faith. ;) 72nd minute, Reafe sent a pass to Isaiah, and he legit shot the ball through the goalie's legs. Hope was alive! And THEN, 83rd minute, another freshman scored a beautiful game winner!!

Now, on to the semifinals! Friday, they play Winthrop, the #1 seed. Winthrop beat us 4-1 a few weeks ago, so suffice it to say, this will be a huge upset if they can pull it off.

But you know what? Just like that video says, these guys have character, and they know how to keep believing. With that, and the skill I know they have, anything is possible come Friday.

Go Camels!

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Because of course I'd get sick now.

Now, when school work really picks up as we head towards the end of the semester.

Now, when I have to really dig into internship applications.

Now, when PhD application deadline are creeping up on me.

What started out on Tuesday as me just thinking I overworked my vocal chords sending too many singing videos to Summer ended up by Thursday as me sounding like a 70-year-old pack-a-day smoker.

I went to the doctor that afternoon because I had to miss class again, and not only did the doctor tell me that it was good I didn't try to go to class that day, but considering how the symptoms had only been around for a couple days (and Thursday was really only the first day I truly felt terrible), that I was probably going to get worse before I got better.

He gave me an antibiotic prescription and told me that I should wait a week and see if I got better before I filled it. Saturday, I woke up wheezing, which meant it was REALLY moving into my lungs, so I said screw that and filled it yesterday. I cannot afford the risk of my lungs getting really bad off because I cannot afford landing in the hospital.

The upside to this crappy weekend is that I had an overload of sports and that always makes me at least a little bit happier.

My boys won at UNC Asheville, their final regular season game. This meant that they ended up 9-8 and got a winning season for the first time since 2012. But not only that. This also meant they ended up 4th in the conference so they get their quarterfinal match in the championship AT Campbell on Tuesday. It's always good to play on a field you know.

Wolfpack football beat Boston College AT BC 24-8. This is the first time any team has beaten BC on their field since BC joined our conference and the first time the Wolfpack has beaten BC on their field since 1937 (!!!!). Plus BC had the #1 defense in the FBS, and the Wolfpack absolutely crushed the averages they had for defense coming into the game.

And to top it off, Wolfpack basketball had their pre-season exhibition game today and won it. This means that basketball season is here.

So at least there is something going for me this weekend.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Hello from the outside.

Adele broke the internet a few weeks ago. I'm just as obsessed with this cover.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

No Greater Love

I spent close to three hours on FaceTime tonight with Ricky. The first two hours of it were basically spent me watching him play FIFA, but honestly, I've been wanting company so badly that even that was fun for me. When I finally got him to take a break from that, we started reading some Scripture together and got to talking about our friendship and our stories. That was when he told me something that I'm pretty sure I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.

I'm too tired to remember his exact words, so I'll paraphrase. He basically told me that if he had the choice to either save his life or save mine, he would save mine. If he had to do it 100 times, he would always save mine. And it wasn't just because he loves me, it was because I'm such a miracle that he couldn't let that be taken away from the world. He said that he may bring one or two people to God over the course of his life, but that he believes with the story I have to tell, I could bring hundreds. He wouldn't even consider it a loss for him to give up his life for me to live; he'd consider it a blessing because I have so much more good to do than he ever could.

While I'm not so sure about that last bit, hearing that from him literally brought me to tears in the middle of our call. I don't know that anyone has ever straight out told me that they would give up their life to save mine. And even if they have, I know that it wasn't because of what Ricky said. To say that it's humbling to hear someone loves you that much is the understatement of the century.

But here's the thing. That wasn't the whole reason that I started crying. As I listened to what he had to say, it hit me like a ton of bricks just how amazing God's powers of redemption really are. I spent so much of my life believing not only that I would never find love, but that I didn't deserve to find it, so to have someone right in front of me act as living, breathing proof of how far God will go to answer prayers beyond your wildest imagination? That's a feeling beyond anything I can ever put into words.

As Ricky also said, God knew what I needed before I was even born. He knew I would need a brother like this, so he created Ricky two years before I ever existed. That is the kind of God we serve. Before the beginning of time, He has our whole lives planned and displayed out in front of Him. He knows exactly who we need and exactly when we'll meet them. As much as I wish I had met him and the rest of my boys earlier on in my time at Campbell so I could have gotten more time with them, I can see the beauty in our family forming when it did.

Since we got so little time together on campus, it's that much clearer and powerful how close we are now. When most people would have let the distance make things fall apart, especially only after having a few months together in person, our bonds have only grown tighter with time, despite me being so far away now. That's God's grace in action, that He would choose not only to bless us with each other, but to help us keep our family and love for each other strong.

The danger of putting your heart on the line, the danger of choosing to trust and love again even after you've been hurt, is that you risk giving a piece of your heart and yourself to someone who may not love and appreciate you as much as you do them. That's a fear I struggle with. It's exactly why I was so scared to trust these boys in the beginning. I couldn't figure out how a girl like me deserved to hang out with the gorgeous athletes, some of the most popular boys on campus. I couldn't convince myself that it was real. So I was completely terrified that it would all fall apart, that I would let them in only to get crushed like I had by so many other gorgeous, popular boys in my past.

Whether they know it or not, those rowdy boys are Jesus in the flesh to me every single day just by the way that they love me. From the beginning, they have told me that I was enough, enough just as I am, enough to be worthy of love. They make me feel safe, and seen, and beautiful, and that brings such comfort to a bruised and battered heart like mine. I think of the way that they love me, and I am instantly reminded of the fact that God loves me infinitely more than they do. And that's just amazing to me, because it's hard for me to imagine love beyond what these boys have shown me from day one.

So to hear Ricky so plainly say that he would give up his life for me, that was a reminder to me of the God who already did just that.

And it's because of that love that's beyond all understanding that I know I would give up my life to save any one of those boys. I can't imagine loving them any less. And for the first time in my life, I know beyond all doubt that the feeling is mutual.

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

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Because what good pirate wouldn't get arrested?

Praise the Lord.

I got to go back to Dance with Me last night for their Halloween party. I haven't been since May because I wanted to get my seizures under control so they didn't have to keep dealing with me/them. Well, not only did I finally get to go back, but I made it through the whole party without a single problem.

It was so much fun, too. It was basically starting over for me, but everyone there was super patient, especially with my perfectionist tendencies, haha. But I saw several familiar faces, and they remembered me like no time had passed.

I wore last year's costume, but who really cares. I love it. I got tons of compliments on it last night, which felt really good.

Here are some fun pictures.

And yes, that last picture is totally my new profile pic on Facebook. :D

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Maxed Out

My first deadline is on Thursday.

A 5-page paper. I currently have no idea what I'm going to write about, let alone what I'm going to say.

And it seems that once the first deadline hits, the rest of them start popping up out of nowhere and piling on top of each other.

Plus I have internship applications and PhD applications.

Between that, and spending the vast majority of my free time talking to several of my friends back at CU who need someone, my brain is pretty much at the max right now.

However, I did get a lovely and long overdue FaceTime date with Austin tonight, so that helped redeem the rest of what turned out to be a pretty crappy day today.

I'm tired now.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

It's all about balance.

I met with a deacon from my church today. When I told her about the loneliness I've been battling and how much I wish I could get back to my soccer boys, and how wrapped up I have been in trying to take care of them and support them because of the different issues several of them are struggling with, she told me it sounds like I've got the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I couldn't really argue with that.

But she also told me not to completely shut that part of me down, either, because God has clearly given me a gift of giving, in the sense of encouragement and support, and it would be a bad idea to stop using what God has given me to share with the world. We weren't meant to do this life alone. Galatians (at least, I think it's Galatians) says to bear one another's burdens for a reason.

I guess I just need to remember that, like everything in life, the key is to finding the balance between the two. Still being there for the people that I love (because let's be real, I can't imagine being any other way with my boys) but not let myself take it on as my responsibility to fix.

Because I'm not God. I can't fix everything, no matter how badly I want to.

What I can do is support them the best I know how and help pull them out of the dark holes, just like they've done for me.

So yeah, it's about balance.

Balance between taking care of the people I love and taking care of myself and my needs, too.

Balance between helping them through their problems and trying to take them over.

Supporting without micromanaging.

Loving recklessly without losing sight of myself.

Assuring them of better days to come without expecting myself to make those better days come more quickly.

Love can't fix everything, but it sure can make the bad stuff a heck of a lot easier to walk through. And sometimes, that's the only help people need - just a loving hand helping them forward one step at a time.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Next time, I'm just saying I have a boyfriend.

You know what's worse than one middle-aged cab driver hitting on you for an entire ride and trying to pick you up for a date even after he learns he's old enough to be your dad?

Answer: TWO middle-aged cab drivers hitting on you for an entire ride and trying to pick you up for a date even after they learn they're old enough to be your dad.

Both times, it basically started out with something in the conversation leading to the driver saying I'm smart, which led to him saying, "Smart and beautiful. Tell your boyfriend he's a lucky man."

I replied "Well, I don't have a boyfriend." The first time, I said it because I didn't realize he was going to continue hitting on me and ask me out. The second time, it was because I really didn't think this would be happening two rides in one afternoon.

This led to "You must be lying! How can a girl as smart and beautiful as you not have a boyfriend?" Then a bunch of stuff about how the guy that gets me will be lucky and they understood if the age difference was weird but they're available and maybe we could go out sometime. The first guy, when I told him he's old enough to be my dad, tried to blow it off as "oh, I didn't mean it had to be a date. We can be friends."

Blah blah blah. I couldn't get out of either of those cabs fast enough.

Holly told me that when they said I should tell my boyfriend that he's lucky to have me, that I should've just told them "I will" or "He knows". Next time I think I'm going with that advice.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

What to do when your heart's in two places.

"Just think where you are! You're in NYC. People could only dream of living there."

This is what Jay told me when I talked to him about the loneliness I've been battling lately. It's also, frankly, what I've been telling myself a lot.

I know how lucky I am to be here, and I know that this is where I'm supposed to be at this point in my life in terms of schooling and figuring out the next step in my life and whatnot.

But in terms of fitting in? I just still don't feel like I belong here.

The only people I can really consider my friends at all are the people at church, but I really don't talk to them at all outside of Sundays, let alone see them. I never see Holly anymore, and the people in my classes are friendly in class, but everyone just rushes off as soon as it's over so there's no opportunity to talk. Because this is life in the city. Everyone is on the move all the time.

I do love my church, though. They are a family. They are the first church that I've really had good experiences at/with (Theater Church, looking back, was not a healthy place for me to be). I wouldn't have made it through this past year without them. And I am so, so glad I found them and am with them as a part of this church community.

But NC, Campbell, that's still where my heart says I belong. That's what I think when I say the word "home," which is why I tweeted this to Isaiah last night.

Because in my gut, that's what it feels like. Even though my life and my mood have drastically improved over the past few weeks, I still can't wait to get home. I can't wait to have girl time with Summer, and see Nicole's house, and laugh with my boys again. I can't wait to give them the hugs that are long overdue. I can't wait to be surrounded by their infectious personalities and get that everything-is-right-in-the-world feeling that I seem to only get when I'm with them.

That tiny little campus out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, that was the first place that ever felt completely safe for me. There wasn't anywhere close to the drama I had to deal with in Swansboro, and I met so many people that, when I did have problems, I knew would have my back without a second thought, people who are still with me even when we're so far apart.

I guess I'm just tired of being so far away from everything and everyone that makes sense to me. From the people who know me in my bones and that I have security with. It's like as soon as I found those people, and I found that security, I had to leave. And even though I know I still have that tight bond with several of them, it's just not the same. I can't get hugs from them when I'm sad, and I can't hug them and be right there with them when they need me. I hear their voices on the phone or see their faces on FaceTime, and it simultaneously makes me so happy because it reminds me of the authentic friendships that I have but it also makes my heart hurt because it reminds me that 530 miles is a lot and I can't get back there until January, and when I do, it'll only be a few days before I have to leave again and go through that heartache of remembering what I'm leaving behind all over again, just like I did this past January. Once a year for the people who know you the best and love you the most is just not enough.

So yeah, my heart is torn between here, the city I've always dreamed of living in and know is where I'm supposed to be, and there, the place that makes me feel safe and secure and has all the people that make everything seem okay and make me feel like I can conquer the world.

But is there really anything I can do? I don't have the money to go back early.

So all I can do is just suck it up and grow up and learn to deal with it. I'm not a real big fan of that answer, but it's all I've got.

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