Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This is how good God is.

Prayer works, y'all. Prayer works. 

I had my biopsy today. I was expecting it to be a miserable experience, but it wasn't too bad for someone sticking a needle in my throat three times. 

But here's the awesome part: I wasn't expecting to get any news today at all. Not only did the pathologist in the office look at it before I left, the doc came in and told me that her initial analysis says this thing in my throat looks to be nothing more than a lymph node. A LYMPH NODE. 

They'll have to do a full examination of the cells over the next week, but the doc said their pathologist is really good so her initial analyses are usually correct. 

My endocrinologist made me believe this was definitely a tumor, so in no way was I expecting news this good. 

I am so, so thankful to have had so many people praying for me. This is the biggest personal experience of prayer so clearly working I've had in a long time. 

God is awesome.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I went to the worship community group last night - my first time making it out there.

It was EXACTLY what I needed.

I'd forgotten how much I love singing with people.

That was the first real time of peace that I've had since this whole mess began last Sunday.

At the end, when I absolutely lost it and started crying, my friends, they came and surrounded me.

They prayed.

And I was reminded yet again that I am so, so not alone.

From here, to North Carolina, to Georgia, to Florida, to Texas, I am surrounded by love.

I am surrounded by people who have seemingly made it their life's mission to make me never forget that I am not alone, even if people aren't physically with me.

Tomorrow is scary, and the results coming could be scary, but despite everything, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

My Boys

Growing up, I always wanted a brother. You can probably chalk that up to the whole living with two sisters I didn't exactly like thing. Either way, having a brother was something I often dreamed about, and honestly wondered a few times if my parents had had the fourth kid my mom wanted but my dad said no to I would've gotten one. (God only knows what life would have been like if I'd had a third sister!)

I did see Matt as my brother at first...then I thought I fell in love with him and spent about six years convinced I was in love with him...then I realized that that was nuts and he was perfect as my big brother because, let's face it, we'd kill each other if we had ever tried to be anything else. Thirteen years later, and we both know we're stuck together for good.

Then came Paddy. The guy who started out as my "host brother" turned into my real brother within days. We only spent ten days together, but four years later, we were reunited, and if we hadn't known it before, that weekend together solidified the fact that we were family. We still are.

And as if that wasn't enough, five years later, I joined a class of 15 strange boys to run a Twitter account. I was terrified of them for weeks, unable to wrap my head around the fact that they weren't like the others, that they were good and genuine and loved me, and before long, I realized that those guys had become my family, too. Throughout that semester, I couldn't even try to pretend that they weren't brothers to me. They strengthened my faith and carried me through an incredibly rough semester. And over the two years since then, two of those stranger boys became two of my best friends.

The same week I joined that class and met those brothers, I went to a soccer game with some friends, accidentally ran into a player who surprisingly remembered me and convinced me to come back, and, before long, I unexpectedly fell into a whole new family. The boys I never thought would want to spend time with me, let alone love me, and subsequently spent a long time trying to understand why they did, let me into their family when they really didn't have to. I could have been just another fan to them, and that would've been normal, but instead, the more games I went to, the more boys I met, the more I became integrated into the group. I learned I'd been adopted as their sister when I didn't expect that at all, and a year later, I learned they knew I was their sister long before they even told me. These are the boys who took time out of their hectic schedules to come be my bodyguards just so I would feel safe, even when it turned out to be pointless. Into the second soccer season since I graduated, and they still call me their #1, and I still have the ball sitting on my desk to remind me every single day of the rowdy boys who took me in and made me feel special and important just by the way they loved me.

I wanted one brother. Today, I have about 30. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

It's that last set that I'm particularly thankful for lately. My nerves over the biopsy coming next week seem to only be getting stronger the closer I get to the procedure date. And those nerves have taken the loneliness I was already feeling and multiplied it. Not only am I really hating being so far away from Campbell because of what is going on with my friend, I would give anything to get back to my soccer boys and get their hugs and be surrounded by their infectious personalities that carried me through so much during my senior year.

But despite this ache of longing, I am so, so grateful and aware of the fact that it is an incredible blessing to have them. Because despite the great distance that lies between us, I have gotten so many messages of love from them because of what is going on that I know that they are with me every step of the way. They won't let me forget it. In this aspect, it's as if nothing has changed. The bond that we have, the family that we built, is stronger than a move. I don't have to tell them that I've got their back and will always support them, because they already know it. And I have always known and felt those boys cheering me on through this whole grad school experience, but it's been taken to a whole new level with this current situation when I see the way they so openly and freely let me know how much they love me. It's often said that guys, especially ones this age, aren't open about their feelings and emotions, probably because it's seen as not masculine, but it's like these boys will do whatever they have to to not let me forget for a second that I am so, so very loved by them. I have told them time and time again that they don't understand the extent of what they did for me in my senior year or how they changed me for the better, and I feel like I'm experiencing that all over again.

Some of my boys will be graduating in December, which is heartbreaking because I didn't realize or learn it until recently and until then had thought I'd get a chance to see them one last time when I visit in January, but I know we'll see each other again one day. And the boys that will still be there? Well, let's just say I've warned them all to be expecting massive tackles because I absolutely cannot wait to get to hug them again. And the best part is that they've all said they can't wait for it. :)

It's really comforting to know you have people that not only would you do absolutely anything for, but who would do absolutely anything for you, as well. We've got each other's backs for life, and I wouldn't have it any other way, because frankly, I can't imagine not having them now.

That team of rowdy soccer boys mean the world to me. I still feel so totally honored to be their sister.

They're my boys, it's pretty simple, and I think I love them even more now than I did then. And I think that is really, really freaking cool.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Romans 8:28. Just use this for something, Lord.

It's been an overwhelming few days.

Sunday, I had a seizure at church. My first seizure in 49 days.

I went to the ER because my neck hurt really bad and I couldn't get up without crying.

A CT scan revealed that my neck was fine from the seizure...but that there is a lesion in my throat right near where my thyroid used to be (yeah, thankfully it hasn't decided to grow back again). The CT machine doesn't have the capabilities of telling what the lesion is in terms of a tumor or cyst or something else, but the doctor said that with my history of tumors in that area, the odds weren't exactly stacked in my favor. He told me to get to my endocrinologist ASAP.

By some miracle, my doc had an appointment open yesterday morning. Usually, because she's only there a couple days a week, it's pretty much impossible to get a same-day appointment. I brought her the report, and the radiologist had actually written in there that he was recommending an MRI with contrast to find out what it is. So she got that scheduled immediately, and last night at 8:30 was basically the only time they had open all week. So I went. Then, I spent 4 hours in the ER to get my shunt reprogrammed because I couldn't just go to my neurosurgeon's office because of the hour. By 11:15, I was in excruciating pain (it started hurting worse about 3 minutes after the MRI started), so the wonderful doctor went and ordered me Morphine without making me try lesser drugs that were not going to work. Bless him.

Well, I wasn't expecting to get results on the MRI until next week when I went back for a follow-up with my doc, but her nurse called me today because the report had just gotten faxed to her. The MRI still couldn't tell us what is in my throat, so she said my options were just a regular ultrasound or an ultrasound-guided biopsy. I was like, uhhh biopsy, I want to know what the hell this thing is and what we need to do about it. So...I have a biopsy next Wednesday.

My nerves and anxiety have not really been handling this well the past couple of days. I'm really scared. How I found out about this lesion is literally the exact same scenario as how I found out I had tumors last time. And yeah, the chance of cancer is really low, especially because my tumors have always been benign, but it's just, this is the fourth time I've been faced with this. And I'm scared this is going to be another tumor and I'll have to deal with another surgery. I'm just overwhelmed because I so was not expecting to have to deal with any of this. And plus now, like, I've never had a biopsy before (believe it or not) so that is not really doing anything for my anxiety.

But here's the thing. I have been practically flooded with support since this started on Sunday. From everyone at church, to Summer who I was texting throughout that afternoon, to Clayton and Austin, to all of my soccer boys, I am acutely aware of just how incredible the people who love me really are. They tell me I'm Superwoman when I feel like I'm falling apart. They believe I'm going to be just fine when I'm struggling and scared. There hasn't been one second since I got this news on Sunday that I have thought I was alone in this. I am incredibly thankful that I have this security in the midst of a lot of uncertainty.

Last night, I had a dream about the day I met The Vespers. I specifically remembered how Bruno told me, "You're going to do big things with that testimony, bigger things than I'll ever do." And despite my fears, that's really helped keep my perspective in check. I can't control what's happening - it's happening whether I like it or not - but what I can do is pray that God will use whatever comes out of this to add to the story I've been given to tell people. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. He's done that with stuff from my past that is a lot worse than this, so I believe He can use this, too, and make good come from it. I see that already in the fact that while it sucks that I had a seizure after seven weeks free of them, if I hadn't had that seizure, I wouldn't have found out about this lesion. So this what I'm praying for, because I feel like that's all I've got. I want His plan, not mine.

So yeah, I'm scared of what's going to happen, but in the end, I know that I'm not going to have to face it alone. And that's enough reason alone to say praise God.

Before I had the seizure, this is one of the songs we sang at church.

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord,
still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I don't know about you, but I quit believing in coincidences a long time ago.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Oh, happy day.

You know what's awesome?

Google Maps says there is 528 miles between my apartment and Main Street on Campbell's campus (I know, not as far as I thought, but still pretty freakin' far), and my boys still call me their number one supporter.

Some of them even act surprised that I still show them this much love from so far away, which I find a bit hilarious because, well, family over everything, and I still love them as much now as I did then.

Tonight's game was...intense to say the least. The first half was honestly a bit boring, ending scoreless. Then, within 15 minutes into the second half, it was 3-1, with two goals by one of our freshmen and one by our star Brad. Unfortunately, our opponent got up to 3-3, the last one off a penalty kick that I'm not sure I agree with, so we went to overtime. Golden goal. That makes me anxious beyond belief.

First overtime, meh. Some good shots but nothing went through.

Second overtime, some really close shots on both sides, but both goalies, especially my buddy Matt, worked their tails off. It wasn't until we got a PK with 2:35 left to play that things got fun. And Brad, or as I like to call him - Brad the Beast, won the game. Ah, PKs, they can be such a blessing and such a curse, as evidenced by this game tonight.

I've basically spent all week in bed because of this migraine, not even able to make it to class yesterday (yeah, I know), but today I was finally feeling better, despite only sleeping two hours last night. After eating breakfast, I went to the pharmacy to pick up meds, then despite calling ahead to make sure their photo equipment worked, when I got there it was down, so I had to walk two extra blocks to another pharmacy to print some photos, then I went to the post office to mail some stuff, then I came back. 8 avenue blocks and 2 street blocks in 80 degree weather? That was more walking in one excursion then I've done in probably the past two weeks combined. The good news is that, after I ate lunch, that exhaustion was enough for me to fall asleep for several hours until the game.

I also finally got back to work on the Anima videos this morning. I hate that it took me so long, but Jon totally understood that my health was a mess and I had a rough year. He even said it was "an incredible blessing" that I would make time for this, but I told him this was my attempt at saying thank you for the gift he and his videos have been in my life over the past two years. Hopefully I'll continue to get more done slowly in my spare time.

So I'm really happy tonight. I'm finally beginning to feel better. I got a gift in the mail. I got to get back to work helping my friends. And I got to watch my boys pull out a very close win and support them even from so far away. What more could I ask for?

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Another post about how awesome my boys are.

I've been feeling really lonely the past week or so. I'm not really sure what set it off, but I've just really been missing my CU fam, Clayton, Summer, Austin, my soccer boys, something fierce.

One of my friends here in the city told me that it's normal, that it's just part of living here, and I believe him, but that doesn't exactly make me feel better.

Because of that loneliness, I've been reaching out to my old friends, trying to reconnect with that feeling of family, in hopes that it will ease up and I'll stop feeling like I'm being swallowed by ocean waves.

Summer and I have been texting every day in the past couple of weeks (our quickly growing love for One Direction brought us much closer together) which definitely helps.

Austin called me last night despite being practically half asleep his brain was so exhausted because I had texted him so he knew I needed to hear a friendly voice.

Clayton was there on Monday when I started crying to tell me that it was okay to be upset even if I didn't know what brought it on and remind me that I'm never truly alone.

And Tunji, oh dear Tunji. Now, I think a big part of this coming on is that the soccer season has started for this fall, so yet again, I am not back with my boys, and yet again I will not be able to go down for a game, but you can be sure that I will be going in January before I fly back here after Christmas. I've always known Tunji loves me - he is easily one of my biggest protectors and closest brothers out of that squad - but he's never been one to express it in great detail. Well, in the past few days, we've been texting and he's made it clear multiple times that he can't wait to see me again, and how much he really loves and misses me. And everyone who knows me knows I am a words of affirmation girl, so to hear everything he's been saying makes me feel so good. And it's such a sweet reminder that I may be 600 miles away, but those boys still consider me their sister as much as they did when I was still at CU. I seriously cannot wait to go back and tackle him and Reafe and Ricky with big hugs.

I still feel lonely, but I also feel really, really thankful. That I have people like this, and that they love me like they do. One of the things I've been working through in therapy in the past few months is learning how to believe that I deserve the love these guys have given me so freely right from the start. And I'm finally starting to get it (baby steps), and it's at least partially due to the fact that I see how beautiful these friendships still are even when I'm all the way up here in NYC. While distance gave Ryann an easy out in cutting her ties with me, all of these people and relationships have proven that you can still have close friends over great distance. Because I'd be lost without every single one of them.

Writing this post reminds me of how, when I was back there in January, when Tunji saw a friend of his in the Student Center and she asked what was up, he immediately exclaimed, "My sister's in town!" Or how Isaiah told me, "I think we knew you were our sister pretty early on. We just had to let you in on the secret." They called me family before I even knew or realized they did.

So yeah, it sucks that I'm not there in person to hug them and hang out with them and cheer them on at their games, but the love is still as real as it ever was. Someone recently told me that I'm "too attached" to them and that I was "wasting my time" cheering them on when their season isn't going very well so far, and all I could tell them was they are my boys, my brothers, and I will love and support them forever, because that's what family does. I can't wait to book my ticket for Christmas, because then I'll know exactly how long I have to count down until some serious brother hugs.

Until then, thank God for wifi and live streams. That's all I'm saying.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Talk about a mood lifter.

I've had a bad migraine plus bad cramps and nausea for the past few days, so I really haven't done anything but sleep.

I didn't even eat on Saturday, which probably wasn't very healthy or smart with my blood sugar issues, but even the idea of eating bread made me feel sick, so I just drank a lot of ginger ale to keep sugar in my system.

But y'all know me. I will get up no matter how awful I feel for games I love. Especially when people I love are playing them.

My soccer boys were playing in a tournament in Nashville on Friday and Sunday, and of course there was Wolfpack football on Saturday.

Friday: My boys started off 3-0 by the 49th minute, gave up 2 goals in the next 20 minutes, but managed to hold Lipscomb off until the final buzzer to win 3-2.

Saturday: The Wolfpack had a shutout against Eastern Kentucky, winning 35-0. It was ridiculous.

Our defense was ON FIRE. EKU had 11 offensive drives, and we held them to a 3-and-out on 9 of them.

They got down to the 2-yard line and we kept them from scoring! TWO YARDS! They had 112 yards of offense the entire game. It was almost comical.

Matt Dayes, our star running back, got a hat trick in the second half alone, and had a second game of 100+ rushing yards.

Benson Browne, who had never even had a catch before this year, got a second touchdown to go with his one from last week.

We had 40+ minutes of possession again; NC State has never had 40+ minutes of possession in back-to-back games since Time Of Possession started being recorded for every game, in 1981.

We got to see a bit from our secondary QB, who made an impressive escape from what was very close to being a sack.

And Jacoby, well, Jacoby did what Jacoby does. 17-for-22. It was, all in all, spectacular. I just wish I had been able to see it.

Sunday: The game was intense. It was scoreless until the 60th minute when my little brother Tunji got a beautiful shot in.

Ten minutes later, one of our freshmen scored. 2-0.

Then, in the 85th minute, Belmont got 2 free kicks in 17 seconds and scored on them both, making it 2-2.

I got a little bit nervous (I've always heard from my family that 2-0 is the most dangerous score in soccer, and I understood why in that moment)...but then just 22 seconds later, Brad Farias, who scored two of the goals on Friday, rushed back down the field and netted a third.

A game that went scoreless for 60 minutes had three goals in 39 seconds. It was crazy.

But my boys held off a very angry Belmont for the last five minutes and also pulled that out 3-2. After the way their season started off, it made me so happy to see them get these two wins this weekend.

I tell ya, I started off feeling terrible, but three games like this, they certainly do wonders for my mood. Too bad I have to wait until next weekend for more.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

This is what it's about.

I meant to post yesterday, but the day sort of got away from me.

9/11. The day has never been easy to face, but now that New York City is 100% my home, it means a whole lot more to me. My home had been attacked.

On the 10th, after a good deal of rain, a rainbow appeared, and from many angles, it looked like it was originating from One World Trade Center. I thought that was so symbolic.

Yesterday, I had to go to the pharmacy, which is only two avenue blocks away, but during that round trip, I'd say 75% of the people I saw were wearing 9/11 shirts or red white and blue, and I must have seen 5 or 6 ambulances. Being in New York, you get used to hearing sirens, but yesterday, they were coming a lot more frequently than usual.

I'm just glad I don't live up near OWTC, or I probably would have spent the entire day sobbing. For that reason, I avoided the news pretty much all day, but late last night when I couldn't sleep, I found a video of a story that I had never heard before and couldn't help but watch it.

Do you know about the Great Boatlift of 9/11? Did you know hundreds of civilians came together that day, and those boaters evacuated nearly 500,000 people in less than 9 hours, making it the largest sea evacuation in history, greater than an evacuation during World War 2 that took place over 9 days? Yeah, neither did I. Take 12 minutes and watch this video.

This is what it's about, y'all. Not Bush vs Obama, or Republicans vs Democrats, or arguments about what should have been done different or who's a bigger patriot. It's about the innocent people who died. It's about their families still grieving. It's about the men of Flight 93 who saved countless other lives by crashing that place in a field. It's about the first responders who died trying to save anyone they could find. It's about the survivors who got sick in the years afterward from what they breathed in that day. It's about all of us as Americans, remembering that even for a short time, we were one people and one nation. If only we could get back to that.

a set of turnout gear laid out for every firefighter lost on 9/11

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Do Something

Today's a historic day. And not just for my friends in the UK, but, in my opinion, also a historic day for the world.

Today, Queen Elizabeth II became Britain's longest-reigning monarch at 63 years, 7 months, 3 days and counting.

That's 23,226 days, in case you were wondering.

She has been on the throne for almost three times as long as I have been alive (8486 days). Mommom was just shy of 14 when Elizabeth became Queen, and she barely remembers what it was like before her with King George VI on the throne.

That's just mind-boggling to me. Maybe it's because I'm a history nerd, but I was thinking earlier about how many wars she's seen, how many political eras she's outlasted, how many crises she's surpassed, and it's just crazy. People think living to be 63 is no big deal, but she's been the royal leader of a country for that long.

I love the UK and the British monarchy, so I was reading a bunch of articles earlier about this, and The Today Show mentioned how when she was 21, four years before she took the throne, she swore to the people of Great Britain that she would devote her life to serving them for however long she was alive. At 21, she promised to live a life that would no longer be just her own. I know she'd been trained for that her whole life, but to understand the magnitude of what she was getting into at an age when most people are instinctively only thinking about themselves is a beautiful thing to me.

And she has. Through 12 Prime Ministers and 11 US Presidents, she has served them. Today, on this historic day, while she's supposed to be on her "summer vacation" in Scotland, she got on a train and went to open a new rail line. I can't even imagine what is going to happen in the world, and specifically in the UK, when she finally dies. My mom likes to joke that she's going to die "literally on the throne" (and I'm sure she's not the only one), but it's going to be a difficult and major shift in the world.

But this day has gotten me thinking. I don't know if I'm going to get 23,226 days. None of us do. But I need to make good use of however many days I am given, because I only get one chance at this. I only get one chance to help people, to make a difference, to show people what it looks like to live for something greater than yourself.

People have often commented on how amazing it is that I can find joy in the smallest things in life (I think The Vespers were the first ones to tell that to me straight), and I'll tell you what I told each one of them. When you have some of the best doctors in the world telling you that, by all medical standards, you should be dead, your perspective will shift to see how big of a miracle every single day really is. As cheesy as it sounds, I wake up every single day knowing that I am beating all sorts of odds, not just by being in New York and making it to grad school, but by being alive at all. I've been given a second (or a third, or fourth, or fifth, I don't know, I've lost count) chance at life beyond all worldly reasoning, so I want to do something with it.

And I don't just mean, oh I want to get married, or have kids, or work at the State Department, or whatever. I want to make an impact. I want to know that when I die, I'll have a legacy left behind.

I want to do something powerful.

I want to do something beautiful.

I want to do something crazy.

I want to do something world-changing.

I want to do something helpful.

I just want to do something.

What? I have no idea right now. I'll leave that up to the One who knows far better than I.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.

I'm one of those people.

I haven't been in the best mood the past couple of days, outside of my time at church which was AMAZING, and sometimes, silly love songs are exactly what make me smile.

Specifically, silly One Direction love songs. But these aren't silly. They're beautiful, and the lyrics, to me, are beyond what you would expect from the world's most popular "boy band."

So to my ladies out there (or gentlemen, I don't know), if you're in need of a good love song or two, I hope you enjoy these.

My hands, your hands,
tied up like two ships,
drifting, weightless.
Waves try to break it.
I'd do anything to save it.
Why is it so hard to say it?

My heart, your heart,
sit tight like bookends,
pages between us
written with no end.
So many words we're not saying.
Don't wanna wait 'til it's gone.
You make me strong.

I'm sorry if I say I need you,
but I don't care. I'm not scared of love
'cause when I'm not with you, I'm weaker.
Is that so wrong?
Is it so wrong
that you make me strong?

Think of how much
love that's been wasted.
People always
trying to escape it
move on to stop their heart breaking,
but there's nothing I'm running from.
You make me strong.

I'm sorry if I say I need you,
but I don't care. I'm not scared of love
'cause when I'm not with you, I'm weaker.
Is that so wrong?
Is it so wrong?

So, baby, hold on to my heart, oh.
Need you to keep me from falling apart.
I'll always hold on
'cause you make me strong.

I'm sorry if I say I need you,
but I don't care. I'm not scared of love
'cause when I'm not with you, I'm weaker.
Is that so wrong?
Is it so wrong?

I'm sorry if I say I need you,
but I don't care. I'm not scared of love
'cause when I'm not with you, I'm weaker.
Is that so wrong?
Is it so wrong
that you make me strong?

I'm sorry if I say I need you,
but I don't care. I'm not scared of love
'cause when I'm not with you, I'm weaker.
Is that so wrong?
Is it so wrong
that you make me strong?

I got a heart,
and I got a soul.
Believe me, I will use them both.

We made a start,
be it a false one, I know.
Baby, I don't want to feel alone.

So kiss me where I lay down,
my hands pressed to your cheeks,
a long way from the playground.

I have loved you since we were 18,
long before we both thought the same thing,
to be loved and to be in love.
All I can do is say that these arms were made for holding you, oh.
I want a love like you made me feel when we were 18.

We took a chance.
God knows we tried,
yet all along, I knew we'd be fine.

So pour me a drink, oh, love.
Let's split the night wide open,
and we'll see everything we can,
livin' love in slow motion, motion, motion.

So kiss me where I lay down,
my hands pressed to your cheeks,
a long way from the playground.

I have loved you since we were 18,
long before we both thought the same thing,
to be loved and to be in love.
And all I can do is say that these arms were made for holding you, oh,
and I want a love like you made me feel when we were 18.

When we were 18
Oh, Lord, when we were 18

Kiss me where I lay down,
my hands pressed to your cheeks,
a long way from the playground.

I have loved you since we were 18,
long before we both thought the same thing.

To be loved and to be in love.

And all I can do is say that these arms were made for holding you,
and I want a love like you made me feel when we were 18.
I want a love like you made me feel when we were 18.
I want a love like you made me feel when we were 18.

I hope these made you smile today. If not, come back again soon. ;)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Nope, not Christmas.


Hallelujah and amen.

I may or may not have been counting down to this.

And let me tell you, one of the very few things I truly hate about living in New York is that I cannot see almost all of the Wolfpack games, save for a couple that will be on ESPN/ESPN2.

The good news is that I get almost as excited watching the live stats as I do watching them on TV.

Tonight was the first game, and yes, we start the season off with fairly easy non-conference opponents, but I still absolutely love every time I see my boys dominating. We beat Troy (a school in Alabama) 49-21 and it was just beautiful. Every win is beautiful.

Our QB, redshirt senior Jacoby Brissett (Jacoby for President!) went 21 for 23 for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns.

One of our stars, sophomore tight end/full back Jaylen Samuels, got a hat trick by the third quarter.

Our most popular running back (by far), junior Matt Dayes, had two touchdowns and hit a career high of carries and rushing yards.

There was a ridiculous sack of Troy's QB by junior Dravious Wright.

Junior Jumichael Ramos and grad student Benson Browne turned their first career catches into touchdowns.

I loved every second of it.

This is the team that went from 3-9 in 2013 to 8-5 (including a bowl bid/win) in 2014. I cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for my boys. Jacoby is being highly regarded as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate, and if that happens, my Wolfpack boys could shock all of college football.

One Pack, One Goal.

I believe in the power of the Pack.

"For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack." ~ Rudyard Kipling

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

When Scars Don't Matter

One of the hardest things about graduating college is that you and your friends inevitably end up spread all around the country.

Clayton's in Atlanta. Austin's in Florida. Summer's still at Campbell.

Being that far apart and having crazy busy "adult" lives, it takes a lot more effort to keep in contact, to sort out time when you can actually reconnect with each other and talk, instead of just relying on text messages and Twitter (which is, unfortunately, what a lot of my life has come to nowadays).

So at the end of last week, I texted Austin to see if he had time for us to talk soon. He told me to ask him after Monday, so I texted him again last night when I was pretty sure he'd be off work. He told me he was too exhausted to talk and probably wouldn't be available tonight, either. I said okay and went on with my night and didn't think anything of it. I knew from previous conversations that his job really was tiring.

Well, he called me tonight while I was on the phone with Mom. (I got off the call with Mom really quickly, ha!) I told him this was a surprise and asked him what was up. This is where it gets good.

He told me he wanted to make sure that him not being able to talk over the past week and saying that he was too tired to talk to me hadn't made me worry or triggered any insecurities about our friendship. He said he knows that I struggle with fear of upsetting my friends or, worse, losing my friends, especially after what happened with Ryann, so he wanted to make sure that I knew he wasn't avoiding talking to me or anything like that. He said he thought the least he could do was call me on the way home from his youth group and check on me.

I couldn't help but laugh a little that the one time a friend has proactively checked on me and my feelings and fears was one of the times I actually wasn't concerned at all.

So I reassured him that I hadn't thought anything of it but that I sincerely appreciated that he cared enough to call me and check. Then we got to talk for about 15 minutes before I told him to go to bed because I could hear the exhaustion in his voice.

This probably seems like an insignificant topic for a blog post, but seriously y'all, it means the world. To have friends who know my insecurities and see my scars and baggage and love me through them and despite them, even when they make being my friend hard (trust me, they can and they have), means the world. This whole thing tonight made me realize all over again just how lucky I am to have real, authentic friends who know me in my bones and don't let my past affect their views of me now. One of the recurring themes in my therapy sessions has been that I still struggle with feeling so unworthy of love, but the way people like Austin love me helps me understand and believe that I really am worthy of this. That I am better and bigger than my scars and insecurities. That they don't define who I am.

And for that, I am very, very thankful.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's Ryann's birthday today.

Truth be told, I had forgotten about it, until I clicked on Facebook right at midnight and saw the birthday notification in the corner. My stomach immediately dropped. Damn you, Facebook.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love birthdays. I LOVE celebrating the people that I love. If I know you and I know your birthday, I will wish you a happy birthday. If we're even somewhat close, chances are high that I will sing for you. It makes me happy to celebrate people.

So when I saw it was her birthday, I immediately began grappling with whether or not I should wish her a happy birthday.

Some of my friends thought I was insane, that the answer was obvious, that no way should I reach out to someone who cut me out with no explanation and hasn't responded or spoken to me in more than four months. But it was a real question for me, mostly because I felt like I couldn't win no matter what I did or no matter what the outcome was.

I haven't stopped hurting about how things ended with her in the months since it happened. So I knew that if I said nothing to her, I'd still be hurting.

If I reached out and she said nothing, I'd hurt from the confirmation that she really is done with me, that I really was that disposable to her after everything.

If I reached out and she responded to give me whatever messed up reasons she had for disappearing, I'd hurt for having the girl who was my absolute best friend, my sister, for four years basically stab me straight in the heart.

So no matter what, I hurt.

Thankfully, I had an appointment with my therapist today. We discussed many things, but a good part was devoted to this. God bless that woman, because she helped me understand that the reasons why I wanted to text Ryann were the exact reasons why I shouldn't.

Part of me wanted to text her in the hopes that she would respond and we could reconcile things, that I could get my best friend back. But someone who did what she has done is not a healthy friendship to have. It's just my people-pleasing tendencies that want everyone to be happy and for everyone to like me that are bringing that desire for reconciliation. Setting aside the fact that she was my best friend, it really, really hurts that someone I thought loved me and considered me a friend suddenly did a 180 and decided they didn't like me anymore. I've always wanted to do whatever I could to be liked. I just didn't see that it was playing out like this.

The other part of me wanted to text her because I wanted answers. I wanted to know how she could totally disregard the friendship we had and all the times she called me her best friend, her sister, the person she trusted most. I wanted to know how she could do exactly what she knew I'm so terrified of and exactly what she always promised she never would without a second thought. I wanted to know how she could go from never being afraid to talk to me about her feelings, or any frustrations she had regarding me, to straight up lying to me and saying everything is fine only to completely ghosting me.  I just wanted to know what the hell happened, because I realized months ago that this wasn't my fault.

But sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes we don't get the answers we want, or maybe even deserve. Sometimes people do hurtful things that have nothing to do with something wrong in us and everything to do with something wrong in them. And though we're not at fault, we have to learn how to pick up the pieces and move forward, instead of letting the sadness and frustration rule our lives. Because when someone suddenly and unexpectedly cuts you out and goes four months of not showing any sign of reopening that door, chances are good that they're never going to. I've never been good at letting people go without closure. That's pretty much why it took me six years to quit Landon.  My therapist helped me understand, though, that closure isn't so much about the situation with the other person as it is about recognizing that I've done everything I could. And I have done everything I could. I was a good friend to her for four solid years, as good of a friend as I possibly know how to be and a friend that she seemed to appreciate. I asked her if anything was wrong - she said no. And when she disappeared, I tried multiple times to reach out, in many different ways. I can't do anything else. I can't force back open a door she shut.

So I didn't text her. It wouldn't do any good. I need to learn how to make myself feel better, instead of expecting a response from her that may never come to do it. This wasn't my doing, so fighting to fix something I'm not responsible for will do nothing but exhaust me and drag out the pain I was already dealing with.

We all give pieces of our heart away when we form deep relationships. Sometimes you give a piece to the wrong person. Now, I'm going to take this one back.

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