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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Friday, October 16, 2015

Den Mother

Wednesday night, I got to FaceTime with Tunji for about 40 minutes. He was hanging out with a guy who only joined the team last year, so I'd never met him, but when I heard him speak and asked Tunji who it was, he flipped the phone around to introduce us.

Tunji told him, "This is Mal, the famous Mal. She's like the den mother to the team."

In the moment, not really thinking about the term, all I said back was a joking, "I am not old enough to be your mother!"

But later after we got off the phone, I started thinking about what he said, and I decided to look up the definition of a den mother. Here's what I found.

den mother: a woman who serves in a supportive, adviser, or protective role for a group of people

Um yep. I take it back. You can call me those boys' den mother all day any day.

So yeah. I updated my social media bios last night.

What do you think - should I start referring to them as my cubs? ;)

January cannot come quickly enough.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New experience? CHECK!

Yesterday, I went to the opera.

That is THE Metropolitan Opera House.

To see this.

TannhaĆ¼ser by Wagner. My European Culture professor got us all tickets. Nicest professor ever.

We sat all the way up here.

On the highest level, but outside the theater, it gave me a cool view of everyone and everything else.

This was my face after Act 1.

Partially because the entire thing was in German so I didn't have the slightest clue as to what was happening. And partially because the cast and orchestra were PHENOMENAL.

It wasn't as ornate of a theater as I expected, but it was still beautiful. It was surreal to get to be there. I never thought I'd be at the Met at 23!

This was my favorite part of all, though. Lincoln Center Plaza all lit up. Left to right, these are the homes of the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York Philharmonic. Just amazing to see these famous theaters up close.

All in all, the opera was a great experience, and I'm definitely glad I went. (I would've been a fool not to go when the ticket was free!) But I don't know if I'd do it again. Listening to people, no matter how talented they are, scream-sing at you in a language you don't know for 3.5 hours (thank God for long intermissions) is not a very comfortable experience. I had a massive headache before the first act was over.

But like I said, it was cool to see and a bit surreal, and it's very nice to be able to say I've been to an opera at the Met, so I definitely don't regret it in the least. :)

(PS Today is the launch day for Jeff Bethke's new book "It's Not What You Think"! Read my review here and go get it!)

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Saturday, October 10, 2015


Being sensitive doesn't make you childish.

Being lonely doesn't make you pathetic.

Being concerned doesn't make you overbearing.

Being frustrated doesn't make you a bitch.

Having emotions doesn't mean something is wrong with you. Feeling something that is inconvenient for someone else doesn't mean you have to apologize. Whatever you feel, even if it doesn't make sense to other people, it's valid to you. So don't ever let someone tell you that you're messed up simply because you aren't giving the reaction they want or expect or say they would give in your shoes.

I run off of my emotions. Luckily for me, I have plenty of friends now who are either just like me or understand how my brain works enough not to be bothered by it. But my family, they just don't. It really doesn't make sense that my mom doesn't get it, because we are very similar in thought and anxiety in many ways. But any time I get upset, especially if I start crying, I'm automatically told that I'm overreacting.

I heard that I was overreacting so many times that I started to believe it. I started shutting myself down when I felt myself getting upset because I heard those voices in my head saying that I'm just being too sensitive. But I'm tired of that.

Being sensitive isn't a crime. Just because I'm a sensitive person, that doesn't mean that I don't have a reason for feeling the way that I do. So I'm not going to apologize if my feelings are hurt.

You want to insult me because you don't like what I'm feeling? That's your prerogative. But your choices, your words, they're not on me.

I think hiding away your sadness or problems or frustrations or anything else negative is such a waste of time. And not only is it a waste of time, it's exhausting. People want to know how I'm so good at being honest about my need for support from the people around me? It's because I spent so long truly having no one else to rely on, that now that I know that I have people around me, I would be an idiot not to use the support available. That's like emotional masochism, pretty much.

So feel what you feel. And own it. You are valid. You are enough.

The haters can go shove it. :)

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When online relationships come to life.

Back in March 2014 when I joined the launch team for Alyssa Bethke's new book, her publisher started a launch team for volunteers who wanted to help promote it. (Just as there was for both of Jeff's books.) The launch team was made up of lots of girls, one of whom was this lovely girl named Jamie.

Well, she and her friend Rachel are on this road trip going through all 48 states of the continental US, so I told her that when they came through NYC, they should stay with me.

They got here Monday evening and are leaving tomorrow morning, and it's been amazing. It's so so much fun to see how people you've known online for a while are really like in person, and Jamie is just the sweetest.

I took them to Spiegel not long after they got here Monday, and we just sat and ate and talked for a couple of hours, and I knew that I already loved these girls.

I also took them up to the roof (because duh, of course I did), and they loved the skyline (because duh, of course they did), and we took pictures.



This has been such a fun week. I'm so thankful I got to meet these two.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

No more avoiding.

Be happy with what you have.

That's what I kept telling myself.

I didn't want to be feeling what I knew in my gut I was. I didn't want it to be true. So I kept telling myself a bunch of different things in an attempt to convince myself that I was just making it up, that I was reading too much into things, that I was jumping too far ahead and in too deep once again, that I'm just lonely so I'm creating things in my head. I mean, I know my history; none of those assumptions are farfetched.

In come my girlfriends. God bless 'em. After conversations with two of them, I realized oh crap, this is real. I wasn't just making it up, because it's obvious to the two girls who know me best.

This is exactly what I didn't want.

Because while things could change for the better, they could also change for the much, much worse, and that would absolutely devastate me.

So I told myself to just be happy with what I have.

And I am. It's not that I'm not happy now, or that I think changing things is what will make me happy.

It's just these...stupid feelings and desires get in the way.

It'll be status quo for a while, because I need to make up my mind on what to do next and how to go about it, but still.

This is not what I wanted. I'm happy with the way things are now. But I suppose that it's always best to accept the truth about how you're feeling, even if it's scary. And this is scary.

But truth be told, I'm quite curious to see how all of this will play out in the end.

I'll keep you posted. ;)

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Godless Generation Tour {A Review}

Tonight, I made my way out to Jersey City for a certain guy's show. (Praise the Lord that I made it all the way out there in nasty weather and didn't get lost.)

Look familiar? Oh yes, that's Jon Jorgenson. This was the first night of the Anima Series tour, "A Godless Generation." He and his sweet wife Erin 

are driving somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 miles in the month of October to do shows all around the country. I've been counting down until this show since it was announced because if there was anyone I'd go out to Jersey City in the rain to see, it's Jon. I had high hopes and was really excited all day.

Well, let me tell you something. This show was even better than I hoped it would be. Jon's videos are great stuff, but seeing him in person takes it all to a whole new level. I guess it's sort of like how CDs can never compare to hearing a band live.

There were a few poems that he did that are also videos on YouTube, but despite the fact that I could recite them pretty much word for word, I was so utterly entranced by Jon and his delivery that I couldn't think about that.

And it wasn't just spoken word poems. There were stories he told in between, some of which made me cry from laughing so hard and others that made me almost cry from being so moved. There was one story he told about the counselor who was there for him the night he got saved/became a Christian/whatever you want to call it that brought back so many memories of my baptism and the night that everything changed for me. "I realized I had always wanted God in my life. I just never realized that He wanted me, too." That line hit me straight in the heart because that was exactly how I felt.

He messed up a couple of times in the beginning, but you know, that didn't take away anything for me. It just reminded me that he's not any more special than the rest of us. It showed that he's human, too, and that the important thing is that when you stumble, that you get back up and continue on. I was really proud to see him do exactly that and not let those couple mistakes throw him off for the rest of the show. And honestly, the show is so good and attention-grabbing that I forgot about those mistakes very, very quickly. He is goofy and throws some hilarious voices in, and there's one scene about dance moves that had me rolling. My one critique (if you can call it that) is I wish that he had spoken more slowly because he sometimes spoke so quickly it was a bit hard to keep up, but I think we can mostly chalk that up to first-show nerves.

One of the biggest signs for me that I really liked something is that when it's over, I'm disappointed and wish it could have gone on longer. That was definitely the case here. I could have listened to another full hour (at least) of him speaking because he is just. that. good.

But the best part is knowing that Jon isn't doing any of this to make himself or his YouTube channel more popular. It was evident throughout the entire night that he has two goals in this tour. 1) to glorify God and show people His love in a brand new way and 2) to meet the fans, or Fanimas as Jon likes to call us, who have gotten him to where he is today in this field and who made the tour possible.  He isn't just incredibly talented, every conversation I witnessed tonight shows how humble he is and how grateful he is for every single person he gets to meet.

I absolutely loved every single second of this night and was so, so grateful and honored to get to see such fantastic art and to support a guy who has done more for me (and for others, I'm sure) than he even realizes.

The rest of the show dates are listed here. All but one show is completely free, so if they are coming to your general area, I'm telling you - you need to find a way to go. Jon did an amazing job with this show, and I know that I'm going to be thinking about it for a long time.

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