A Vacation.

Not to some exotic island. Not to some other country, fabulous beach, historical landmark, sentimental forest, or a long lost relative’s house. I’m not even going to leave my town. But I am going to temporarily leave some things behind. This was a summer of letting go, and I’d love to continue that throughout the more stressful seasons of life. These past few weeks, I’ve been building and strengthening relationships that I have with people around me. I’ve been receiving long emails from my favorite Trinidadian friends, co-workers, friends who have moved on to college, and everyday friends. I’m part of a vigorous, yet absolutely amazing group chat with my Sisters in Christ. I’m also addicted to Pinterest. And Tumblr. And Instagram. But who isn’t honestly?

But yet, I am exhausted. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. I am stressed. I am tired. I’m a little sick actually. As I’ve been pouring into those around me and building relationships with those around me, I’ve been going to sleep later. Studying less. Becoming anxious more. It’s a problem. I’m going to be honest here. I am awful at managing my time. Besides becoming sleep deprived and failing at school, I’ve also been cutting out what should be the most important part of my day – devos. As a camp counselor, our devo time was scheduled every morning. It’s how I started my day, and later ended it. Same with camp and Trinidad. And because I was intentional about seeking God, He used me and those around me to do incredible things. And now we’re here. I’ve loved bonding with people – don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved pouring into others and having others pour into me. But it’s time to take a vacation.

I’m going to take a vacation from the internet. For one week. This was a shower thought actually. At first, I was reluctant and wondered how on earth I would maintain relationships. But then I realized, maybe that’s not what I need to do now. Instead, maybe I can be studying. Sleeping. Devo-ing. Helping my mom out around the house. Cleaning my room. Spending quality time with my siblings. I’ve been giving the internet too much control in my life. It’s become an idol, and has taken time which could be used for other more productive things. I need to set my mind on things above, not on earthly things. So here it goes. And if you know me, you know I hate change. You know I love investing in others. You also know my love for my bookmarked sites. And right here, right now, this vacation starts. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, but instead of wasting time, I’m going to spend my time praying, seeking God, building up my transcript, and maybe even exercising or something. Who knows. It’s not easy. But it’s going to happen. See y’all in a week.

And to end this post, let’s go visit some quotes from What About Bob [aka my favorite movie ever. period.]. So in the movie, Dr. Leo Marvin, an expert psychiatrist, encourages Bob, a serious patient case, to take a vacation from his problems, which include obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, hypochondria, multiple phobias, as well as a very dependent personality. This dependent personality, anxiety, and multiple fears cause Bob to go above and beyond (i.e. faking emergencies, lying about his suicide) to seek help from his psychiatrist, Dr. Marvin, who is away on vacation with his family. Anyways, I won’t ruin the ending for you. But here’s some fantastic quotes.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m a schizophrenic… and so am I!” -Bob

“Baby Steps, get on a bus. Baby Steps, get on a bus.” -Bob

“I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful…” -Bob

“Is this corn hand-shucked?” -Bob

“I’m sailing! I’m a sailor!” -Bob

“I’m taking a vacation from my PROBLEMS!” -Bob

See you in a week.

xo.

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A Vacation.

Who are you, really?

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I’d like to pair this picture with this quote : “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” [Many give quote creds to C.S. Lewis for that second one, but surprisingly, someone else wrote it way back when – I don’t know, look it up yourself]

I love both of these quotes because they reiterate the point that we are all unique individuals, beautifully and wonderfully made. Both of these quotes make me rethink how I look at other people. So many times, we judge people on outward appearance. We compare ourselves to them, for better or for worse. But what if we tried to see the good in those around us, and tried to love them for them? What if we took time to learn each other’s favorite breakfast food, favorite song lyric, favorite childhood memory? What would happen to our relationships if we told people our struggles, our laughs from that day, our goals? And then to go from that, what if we tried to understand ourselves in that same way?

All my life, I’ve been borrowing bits and pieces of myself from those around me. From my role models, I took opinions on everything. My favorite book, flower, song, food. Opinions on simple things. Everything. Until now. This summer, I learned about myself. I learned that I enjoy writing. It’s my release. I learned that breakfast foods aren’t my thing, but I love bagels and fruit. I learned that basketball gives me the biggest adrenaline boost; I learned that I am happiest around children. I learned that I grow spiritually during times of change and hardship. I learned that I am the most indecisive person you will ever meet. I learned that pineapples and potatoes are my favorite foods. I learned my love for bike rides, quality time, and physical touch. I learned that sometimes my trust issues stand in the way of relationships. I learned that I need to let go. I learned that I love rainy days and beautiful sunsets. I learned that I love to invest in those around me. I learned that it’s okay to admit that you need help. I learned that I’m a procrastinator. I learned that I love making lists. I learned that music gives me peace, yet I still can become frustrated throughout. I learned that I need to say no more often. I learned that I love harnessing children at summer camp. I learned that quality time is my love language. I learned that I love simple, inexpensive things. I learned that I am a leader, but sometimes a follower. I learned that I love candles. I learned that I like winter better than summer. I learned that chanting is so not me. I learned that I need alone time, whether it be outside or in a stuffy closet in Trinidad. I learned that I’m both a night owl and morning person. I learned that I can memorize numbers like no other. I learned that I am really bad at giving my ideas through talking. I learned that I can be organized if I want to. I learned so much. And now, I’m here.

But also, the first quote should remind us that we are not what society sees in us. People around us give approval based on weight, height, appearance, clothes, and backgrounds. But you, yes you, are more than that. You are chosen, cherished, loved, absolutely beautiful. And now, I encourage you to Be-YOU-tiful, no matter how overused that statement is. Be yourself. Take time to learn about those around you. And realize you are more than a number. More than your peer’s approval. More than your parent’s opinion. More than what this world says. Because you are you. And that is who you were created to be.

xo.

Who are you, really?

The Beautiful People in my Life.

Words cannot express how thankful I am for such genuine, caring friends. It’s been two days of stress, anxiety, and honest confusion. Even so, I can honestly say my friends are the best. They are the shoulders I lean on, the ears that listen, the arms that constantly surround me with love and acceptance. I’m going to brag about them.

One of my friends brought a tub of cashews. Simple, but also more meaningful on a deeper level. Though we’ve been in an on/off friendship, we decided that we want to do senior year together. Just as we will devour those cashews together. Okay, maybe there’s not a lot of symbolism. But, I do feel like it’s her way of saying I’m here for you.

My friend, and my neighbor, offered to drive me to school everyday. Such a simple act, but it will take stress of my parents and allow them to devote their full attention to my brothers, while saving a little bit of gas money.

The lady in the College and Career Center at my school was extremely patient with me as I hard-core struggled to fill out a transcript request. Ten minutes, six tries, and one panic attack later, we finally got it. Thank you, College and Career lady whose name is unfamiliar to me – you rock.

And lastly, today, as I walked past the school office, I noticed there was a small brown lunch bag on the counter with my name on it. As I grabbed it, the back spelled out “YOU ARE LOVED” in big letters. It was such a simple act, but inside was pineapple juice, a lemon, and some jokes and encouragement. My favorite things. She doesn’t even attend the high school anymore, but yet went out of her way to make my day. And that in and of itself screams love.

I struggle to be on the receiving end. I love becoming more aware of those who love me, but yet I feel undeserving and needy. I want to be okay, I want to be cheerful, I want to do fun things. I can’t explain why I catastrophize or become anxious. I am beyond thankful for the people in my life who constantly accept me that way and who show me love to the best of their ability.

xo.

The Beautiful People in my Life.

Unfamiliar Paths.

Today has been a rough day. A very rough day actually.

The motion for a family (dad, mom, two brothers and I) meeting was raised. As we gathered around the family room table, a sense of worry filled the air. It was clear my mom was frazzled, and my dad looked a little uncomfortable, which was odd at the very least. The past family meetings we’ve had contained happy adventures, such as Six Flags passes, canoe trips, and birthday party plans. It was clear that this was not a similar occasion. Well, my dad lost his job last week. Unfortunately. He didn’t do anything wrong; his department was just no longer needed.
And now we’re here. No plan. No money coming in. Nothing.

As a senior, my first thought was college. How is it going to get paid for? Will I earn enough scholarships? Will there be more money for my brothers? What if…?
Then spontaneous outings. Will I go out with my friends? Will we have gas money? How long will this last? What if I can’t go to camp? What if I can’t pay to play basketball? What happens if we can’t pay for internet?
And then, where do I go from here?

Catastrophizing. Anger. Frustration. Anxiety. All my specialties, all at once. What could be better?

Just weeks earlier, I sang the song Oceans with my sisters in Christ. “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you may call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.” I asked God to take me out on unfamiliar water, so that my faith can be made stronger, so that I will turn to Him, so that He can work through me. This was not my plan. We also talked about why bad things happen to good people:

Romans 8:19 – Satan is in the world. This world is broken, but even though that may be so, it’s all part of God’s bigger, better plan.
John 9 – Neither the man in this chapter, nor his family, had sinned. God used their brokenness to display His goodness and power at His timing. He will use struggles to create beauty and amazing things in His perfect timing. There is always a bigger picture.
Job 42:5 – God comes closest to us in the midst of deep struggles, because that is when we feel as though we need to cry out to Him. It’s during the hard times that we realize we can’t do it on our own.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 – When we go through something hard, God has equipped us to better help someone going through the same hardship. We can first act as support, but also show God’s love and the hope that is renewed within us from God’s overwhelming peace.
2 Corinthians 12:7 – Suffering allows us to keep God 1st in our life. We are reminded once again that we are helpless and are forced to depend on Him for strength and comfort.
James 1:2-4 – We build endurance in our faith. We have an opportunity to lead by example, and others will follow when we do.
Romans 5:3-4 – Trials make it possible for our true character to come out. It brings hope to those around us.
Romans 8:28 – It is all part of God’s plan. He knows all, and he cares immensely for us. When we love & obey Him, all things will work together for our good. But sometimes, it may be painful in the moment. There is always a bigger picture.

To be honest, all of that is easier said than done. But thinking intentionally, there has to be a reason this happened. Is it easy? No. Is it what I want? No. Do I like change? No. Is it fair? No. Does it make sense? No. But will God do something great through it? Yes indeed.

I’m frustrated. But I don’t know who to be frustrated with. I’m anxious. About college. About the possibility of moving. About how this will affect my life. What my dad’s thinking right now. About the lack of money coming in. About what if that happens to me. About loans. I’m tired. Of being anxious. I’m regretting my lack of gratitude.

But yeah, today’s been rough. But there’s that little part of me that wonders what the future holds.

xo.

Unfamiliar Paths.

Gratitude.

Today, I went on a five hour canoe/kayak trip with my family to celebrate our upcoming birthdays. Fun, right? I could write about the multitude of insects and arachnids, or maybe the murky water that reflected the beautiful, blue sky, or even the amount of times I tipped over, or the still evident aching in my arms, or the sunburn on my legs. Instead, I’m going to tell you about my friend Haramman. I recently went to Trinidad & Tobago, a small island of the coast of Venezuela, on a mission trip during the first two weeks of July. While we were there, we were given the opportunity to go to many hospitals, churches, and orphanages, though one particular hospital contains a beautiful eighteen-year-old whom I will never forget.

After we reached the pediatric ward in the hospital, our team divided into our “Trinidad Families.” My “dad,” Mauricio, and “brother,” Shivon, were assigned to floor nine in the pediatric ward. The young children there were filled with so much joy, and their smiles were contagious. Their injuries were mostly short term ones, and many of them were planning on leaving promptly. So many families responded positively to us praying for them, and we finished the floor with 20 minutes until our team had planned to meet up. We asked the nurses if there was another floor that we could go to, seeing as we still had gifts for more children. The nurses handed us a sheet of paper with a name, a ward, and directions in how to get to the next building. We arrived in the ward, and at least 40 men crowded the already small room. Each had their own bed, but space was tight, and it was evident many of them were in pain. Our friend, Haramman, was towards the middle of the room, and as we neared him, my heart instantly broke. Haramman’s brain was swollen, and his body consisted of tendons and bones. No muscle, no fat, just a beautiful, wonderfully made 18 year-old. One of his eyes was swollen and pink, his forehead covered in scars, and his arms were strapped to the table. As we neared the bed, his outbursts began to slow, and he seemed aware of our presence. We gathered around his dirty bed, held his hands, and formed a circle of love around him. Haramman struggled to support his hand enough to hold mine, and I struggled to fight back the tears that were slowly forming in my eyes. I found myself crying out to God with such urgency, with such pain. I slowly rubbed the frail hand resting on mine. Everyday Haramman lives in pain. Everyday he is rejected. Everyday he rarely gets visitors. After praying for Haramman, we noticed a child in the next bed who could definitely use a coloring book and crayons. As Shivon and I began to pray for the child, Haramman began crying out once again. One of the nurses came over to him and told him to stop his screaming, for he was disturbing other patients. Mauricio stayed back and provided Haramman with truth. He repeated that “Jesus loves you all the time, He is with you” over and over again. We prayed once again that God would provide Haramman with overwhelming peace. As we began to leave, Haramman once again started shouting. Though it was evident that he was in pain, his shouts resembled “Jesus loves me all the time.” It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

And today, I realized how blessed I am. Haramman has never left his bed in the long, painful 18 years of his life. As I slowly made my way down the never-ending creek, I began to value my family, my ability to walk, and the beauty around me. Though I became frustrated many times in the little things today, I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude. Haramman has not had, and will not have the opportunity to do many of the things that those around him are capable of on this earth. But yet, he has touched so many lives. There was a reason my Trinidad family saw Haramman that week. Although we provided him with momentary peace and lasting truth, he has become such a wonderful example to me of what true faith is. He is rejected, broken, in pain, but yet someday he will be restored because he knows he is cherished by the Savior of the world. That is beauty in and of itself. Isaiah 40:31 has provided me with peace and an overwhelming joy for Haramman. Someday he will soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint. I can’t wait for the beauty that awaits him.

xo.

Gratitude.

The Importance of Acting Intentionally.

Intentional, “done on purpose; deliberate.”
Lately, I have been realizing the power and importance of doing things intentionally. Last week, I had the privilege of staying at an overnight Christian camp with girls that I have grown to adore because of their kindness, encouragement, and passion for Christ. The majority of us knew each other, and we were expecting to be with the same counselor that served us last year, but yet, we were paired with some theater/history major with an outgoing, loud personality. I, myself, am an introvert, and being around people like that exhausts me. I was also looking forward to spending yet another summer with my old counselor because I trusted her, and she already knew a lot about me. We could have skipped the whole awkward introduction period and moved on to go deeper into fellowship and God’s word. At least that was what I thought. Needless to say, I was disappointed. The first night of camp, I went to my favorite spot on the grounds, a bench, surrounded by trees, that looks out onto the lake. The sky is visible, and for those of you who know me, I am in awe of the sky. I sat there, looking out on the lake, but feeling discouraged, lacking, and unappreciated. After a few minutes, I heard someone making their way through the woods. It was her. Here I was, trying to set my self apart from people, and my peace was instantly ruined. What could she bring to the table? Why and how would we ever get along? I was afraid. She seemed to have no respect for my fear of physical touch. She seemed to be crazy. She seemed to get in your face. I was dreading this conversation we were about to have. But, I immediately put on my fake smile and politely scooted over as she began to sit next to me.
I gazed out onto the lake, and realized that she hadn’t said a word. Could I have been wrong? Just a little earlier, I had attended a chapel service where our speaker encouraged us to ask God to show himself in something. Some chose butterflies, others chose lizards, some spiders. I chose clouds. As I looked closer, there was a cluster of deep purpley-blue indigo colored clouds atop a yellow/pink sky calmly resting above the dark silhouettes of the trees. Here we were, sitting on a bench, surrounded by our creator’s beauty. And then it clicked. There had to be a reason I was in her cabin. There had to be a reason we were both here, looking out on God’s beauty, admiring his creation. There had to be a bigger reason. And it was Him. He was here with us, and we were not sitting here by accident. Half an hour later, I felt myself longing to know this girl even more. She was inspiring; she was genuine. She was a listener, but yet she challenged you to achieve greater things. She gave you advice, paired with truth and love.
I could have talked to her for hours that night. I shared my story, she shared hers, we laughed and shared each other’s fellowship. And in that moment, I began to trust her. I realized I was wrong. She didn’t know. She was trying to show love, trying to be herself. And I shot her down. I crawled into a shell and tried to run away. But she was patient and persistent. This sweet human being was placed in my life for a purpose, unknown in the moment, and even now, but yet is known to God. And He has plans to use her to impact me or vice-versa. That night, I decided I would be intentional. I would intentionally seek God. I would seek His plan for me. I would intentionally listen. And intentionally obey. I realized that God is intentional too. He somehow created the inclination within both of us to sit down on that specific bench. Because He knew I needed a change of heart that night. He knew that we lived less than ten minutes away from each other. He knew I needed someone back at home to support me, to fill me with His truth. He knew that she would help me let go of guilt, grudges, and other’s opinions. And I am incredibly thankful to Him for that.
Throughout the rest of the week, I made an effort to listen to God’s calling, to set aside time to read His word, and to love those around me. If I hadn’t decided to be intentional, the majority of my Kairos moments would not have occurred. All because of one late night conversation, on a bench. I can say that would have not been my plan. But yet He knew. And He knows. Omniscient, all-knowing.
Also, sitting that night, I realized how similar God is to the clouds. Unless you’re a weatherman or fascinated by the sky, you probably don’t pay too much attention to the clouds. But yet they are there. And they move if you stare at them long enough. But yet a sudden glance does not provide the opportunity to realize the subtle movement. I feel that God is the same way. He is always there, always moving, but yet we pay very little attention to Him. Throughout struggles, we focus on the ground, we focus on worldly things. We focus on trying to put one foot in front of the other by ourselves, yet we fail. Our first reaction should be to look up. To cry out to Him, for He cares for us. By no means am I perfect at this, but yet after a week of trying to be intentional, it comes more naturally than it ever has. I encourage you to look up sometimes. Take in His beauty. Set aside some time to appreciate His creation, His power. Sit in awe of Him, and intentionally listen and seek Him. He adores you and wants to spend time with you.

xo.

The Importance of Acting Intentionally.

Greetings & Salutations.

I don’t really know why I decided to start this. A few months back, I decided I wanted to blog, but only today did I decide to actually write about my life. Currently, I’m almost a senior in high school, and honestly, my life is not really that interesting. I enjoy thunderstorms, clouds, soft music, and time with people who matter the most. I’m really good at being clumsy, doubting my worth, and investing in children. Children are my passion, along with Jesus, music, and physics. I’m really not that much of a nerd by nature, but my parents, who are both engineers, encourage me in my studies. You can usually find me reading, playing ukulele or piano, and throughout the summer, my hands will most likely be tie-dyed. I’m a camp counselor, and accepting my job back in June was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

And that’s who I am. There’s a lot of things that I wish I did differently, but God made me to be me, and I’m slowly starting to accept that he loves me, just because I am me. And right now, that’s enough to keep me going.

So welcome, I’m glad you’re here. I don’t know what this will consist of, but I’m excited.

xo.

Greetings & Salutations.