ˈtī(ə)rd

Today, I am tired. I’m just tired. Few other emotions are at work within me.

I am tired because of demanding school work that drains my time and energy.

I am tired of my lack of effort when it comes to chemistry book problems.

I am tired because I ran 2.5 miles today.

I am tired of people littering.

I am tired of the generation I am a part of.

I am tired of the constant need for technology.

I am tired of pretending to be someone I’m not.

I am tired of living a life of oblivion to other’s needs.

Above all,

I am tired of living a life of routine.

I’m tired of waking up at the same time, to the same CD. Going into the bathroom, turning on the water and waiting until it becomes warm, washing my face, straightening my hair, finding clothes to put on, going downstairs, grabbing an apple, packing a lunch, and leaving for school. Only to go to the same exact classes, the same exact way, with the same exact people. Then to go home, spend x amount of time on the internet, do my homework, eat dinner, do more homework, take a shower, brush my teeth, and go to bed. Only to do it all over again the next day. Notice how any devotional time or prayer time wasn’t included. That’s a problem.

I long for a life of spontaneity. A life in which I am present throughout. A life WITH God. A life with purpose, passion, prayer. A life very different from the one I’m living now.

Advertisements
ˈtī(ə)rd

A Non-Fiction Depiction of A Conviction.

It’s been 17 days since I last posted.

I’ve become lazy. About fifteen days ago, I got my phone back, which has been so nice, because it’s been taken away since March. I’ve been constantly involved with social media, talking to people, taking pictures, watching vines, etc. And in time, I’ve become even more distracted than I was before.

Last night was a powerful night. Great, yet awful night. I’ve written about WITH so many times, but yet again, I’m going to bring it up. If you’re new here, scroll down a bit to past posts, I guarantee you’ll find me corroborating about it numerous times. Go read the book. I’ve also let you know how I fall into the FOR God category, which is something I’m not extremely proud of. The past fifteen days, though, I feel as though I’ve fallen into a new category, one not mentioned in the book directly. Over God is the closest thing I can relate. I’ve been living away from God. Like not even with, for, from, over, under.. but rather apart, separate, without. And I’ve been doubting.

I’m coming to the age where my decisions are going to start becoming my own. I’m going to be mostly independent soon. I can vote. I can overload my schedule, or I can take simple classes. I can play in a band, or I can work with kids. It’s a lot, especially since indecision may or may not be my problem. Okay, it is my problem. I have to decide how I’m going to manage my time. What I want to go into. Where I want to go. Who I want to hang out with, room with, remove from my life. It’s become real as I have an increasing say in my life. I love my parents, and I’m slowly becoming my own, while still under their wing. All these years, they decided for me. They decided when I was going to eat, what I was going to eat, where I was going to school, what sports I would be involved in, and so on. They decided I would go to church every Sunday. And for the past month or so, I’ve been questioning if it’s really what I want to do with my time.

And deep down, I feel it is. I’ve seen God move. I’ve seen the impact He has had in my life. I see adults around me who I look up to who are mighty reasonable and lovely who have given everything to love God. And yet, I’m doubting. I’m the kind of person who is hesitant to trust. I’m not going to throw all of me into a relationship until I’m sure it’s right. I’m not going to tell someone what’s going on in my life, unless I know they will keep it with them, they will direct me back to God, and they will listen, but not share with others. I’m hesitant to trust God, yet I want to. I find I tend to listen to other people’s advice before I seek God. I find I would rather put my faith in things seen, rather than the unseen. But yet, I know God is what I should strive for. I’ve been brought up in the church, I’ve seen the fruit of the Holy Spirit inside someone, I’ve always loved to spend time with Christians because they’re different than the other folks. They have a greater purpose. They are loving, kind, gracious, accepting. I’ve always thought of myself similarly, but recently, I don’t know if I really could.

Last week, I came to youth group about an hour early. I went into the sanctuary, and I fell on my knees. I wanted to seek God, alone, and I longed for Him to speak to me. I whispered prayers which I felt went nowhere, because they were empty. They were just words I have spoken in routine. I sang songs full of empty lyrics. I tried to seek God during the half and hour I knelt there. About half an hour later, I drove home after getting sick at church. I came home, tired, exhausted, and feeling more alone than ever.

Before I bring up some other stuff, I love my small group. I love you all. Bear with me. I’m the only senior girl. There’s nobody else my age who understands the stress of college combined with school and church and work and volunteering and sports and friends and sleep. I love all you junior girls, but there are some weeks when I feel you guys don’t get my stuff. Also, I recently hesitate to participate in small group. I love listening. I love listening. I’ll listen to all you guys share things, share your heart, your highs, your lows, and everything in between. And then it’s my turn to talk. And I feel like I have a reputation for saying not entirely serious stuff, making everyone laugh. Although I love how you find everything I say great, such as 29.6 and tattoo rants and jumping off cliffs after your friends, sometimes, I wish there wasn’t an expectation for me to be lighthearted. I feel as though my moods are generalized into tired or herself. And herself is the jovial girl, sitting, saying things to lighten the mood, yet searching, alone. Or when I’m serious and attentive, questions such as “you okay?” fly my way. I don’t really know who I really am, but I hate to break it, I’m not everything I wish I could be. I’m me. And even though I don’t really know who I am, she’s not the girl sitting on the couch, reluctant to contribute things.

Last night, I sat in my usual spot on the corner of the couch, listening to everyone contributing to the conversation. And T’s wife [again scroll down if you don’t know who T is] came up, and sat in perpendicular to me, listening also, but participating on occasion. I felt a longing to go tell her my current longing for God juxtaposed with my doubting He isn’t there. Towards the end, her daughter came upstairs, bleeding, and she rushed off. I immediately second guessed myself and was like, nah, this can wait until next week. I told myself if she asked if I needed to process something as we were standing downstairs, I would tell her everything going on beneath the surface. How I have a D- in AP Chemistry. How I feel violated. How I’m searching alone.

And she did. She asked me if there was something I needed to process with somebody.

At first, I searched for words. I sat there, wondering if the everything inside of me was going explode as I uncapped it and how messy it would be. As it turned out, it was messy, but freeing. I noticed her eyebrows rise as I told her I was failing classes. She listened, did not criticize. She didn’t interrupt, just kept prompting for me to uncap different areas of my life. The entire time, she was praying.

As for exploding, the majority of it exploded out of my eyes, and I was sure my face was red. I’m not usually a sappy kind of person. I’m pretty emotionally reserved, but I’ll let you know if I’m hungry, overly joyful [slap happy], or angry. It was different last night. Also, I don’t exactly appreciate physical touch unless I initiate it, but last night, she was the only one I wanted to hold on to.

As we walked out of the small room where we had been conversing, only the youth pastor, his kids, and another woman were left. The other woman also works for the church, and she is in charge of scheduling volunteers on Sundays. I’m part of her serving team, and we tend to think alike. She always asks me how I’m doing, and half the time, I see her more of a friend who’s a college student than an austere adult. She is so genuine and kind. Last night, as I exited the room, face red, emotionally drained, she handed me my bag, and gave me a hug. I covered my face with my hair, and kept my head down. The only thing I specifically remember her saying is:

“You don’t have to hide your face; you’re beautiful, even when you’re crying.”

You don’t have to hide your face, your struggle, your weakness, your downfall. You don’t have to hide in shame. You don’t have to hide. You don’t have to be emotionally reserved. You don’t have to pretend it’s okay.

As I drove home last night, I turned on the radio. This one line stuck out the most from “Courageous” by Casting Crowns: “Walk humbly with your God.” Me being me and God being God, somehow I heard it “walk closely with your God.” And in the moment, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to be empty, alone, hiding. I wanted to walk WITH God. Closely, and humbly. But it’s funny because I’ve wanted it for a while now. I’ve tried to seek God on occasion, but the longing hasn’t resided enough for me to stop everything and seek God with overflowing passion, as I should.

I don’t want to say another empty prayer. I want to live for the God of the universe. I want His power and spirit inside me. I want to be filled. I want to serve. I want to want God more than anything else here on this earth. This life is so short, and potentially meaningless. I don’t want to trust humans before God. I want to be comfortable giving anything up for His will. [Anything is also a really good book okay]. I want to be firm.

This weekend, I had a fantastic conversation with some people about seeking God. First, scripture. Don’t just read through scripture and take it as advice FROM God (see what I did there?). Read it WITH (ayyye) God. Ask Him to guide you as you read. Learn about God’s character, His love, His discipline. Take the examples and mistakes and parables God gives us in His word. Take His words, His instruction, His peace, and His presence WITH you.

This summer, more than any other time, I found God spoke to me through the Bible. As I began to read more and more, I began to familiarize myself, and even read chapters I normally wouldn’t. After visiting Harraman [more details preciously aka in August 2015], I intentionally opened to Isaiah 41:10, but found Isaiah 41:30-31 to be exactly what I needed. Over a week at Jesus camp in WI, there were many instances where I opened my Bible and found peace in the presence of God. Friday of Jesus camp, I opened my Bible to 1 John. 1 John talks about loving people, and during the specific day, some person was laid on my heart who I needed to forgive. And it was God’s doing. A more lighthearted and honest example, Trinidadian food is really dense. And while there for twelve plus days, a lot can be accumulated inside of you. If you’re following, Isaiah 42:14 helped me more than medicine ever could:

“For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.

Laugh, but next time you find yourself in a similar situation, you know God’s got you even then. But seriously, it’s amazing how scripture can move within us. It is the living, breathing word. It’s a guidebook for life. It’s God’s personalized message to us. And He probably wants us to read it WITH Him and WITH His kingdom in mind. Don’t know where to start? Look at Proverbs, there’s about 30 chapters – one a day. The gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Learn about Jesus’ ministry. Feeling hopeless? Check out Ecclesiastes. Want to hear an incredible story about mercy and firm faith? Check out Jonah or Job. Looking for a down to earth, strong in diction, authoritative, powerful book about redemption and how we’ve messed up? Look at Romans. Okay, I’ll stop sounding like a salesman now. But seriously, the more you read, the more you want to read. Try one chapter a day. Try opening your Bible to a random verse tomorrow morning and try to listen for God. It’s a day changer.

Secondly, I find I am able to feel God when listening to slow, Christian music. Some of my favorites are Broken Vessels by Hillsong, Captivated by Shawn McDonald, Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin, Oceans by Hillsong, Forever Reign by Hillsong, You Won’t Relent by Jesus Culture, and many more. Reflection. Praise. Phrases bringing life and meaning.

Lastly, never forget to seek God throughout your everyday life. Some of you remember how my word of 2015 was INTENTIONAL. It’s 2016 now, and I don’t have a word of the year yet, but intentional is going to have to suffice until I find one. Every opportunity, conversation, meal, etc. can be used by God. Sometimes we forget we’re always a part of His plan whether we’re at the movies or studying in the school library. Actually [not so] funny story, but really more of a serious, fantastic story, okay. I was sitting in the library at school, at my own table, skyping my sister, halfway studying chemistry, and waiting to see if anyone wanted to sit in the two remaining chairs at the table. Some freshman flute came along and sat down, asked if I had anything she could do. I shrugged and got some post it notes and highlighters out of my backpack, inviting her to color if she had nothing better to do. As I went through my backpack once more, I realized I had a book with me. A book by the Bob Goff, called Love Does [WHICH IS ALSO A V GOOD BOOK]. I handed it over and was like, well I guess you could read this if you want. She took it, and twenty minutes later, we were in a deep conversation about the gospel and unconditional love. All because there were open chairs at my table. It probably didn’t have long term effects, but I hope one day she will remember.

God is good, all the time, and all the time, He is good.

SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD.

Isn’t mercy such a beautiful thing? It’s sometimes hard to see in our culture because we are based on cause effect kind of relationships. You forgive me, I forgive you. You throw insults at me, I throw insults at you. If you do this, I’ll do this. God’s not like humans. Everyday, His mercies are new. Each day, no matter how many times we mess up, we are forgiven, made new, redeemed. Regardless, we are called son, daughter, beloved, enough. We don’t have to hide our face from God. Instead, we should come with an attitude of humility and gratitude. With knowledge of our sins and a longing for purity and righteousness. We’re going to mess up, but it’s important to know how to return to our loving father when roads become to steep to climb on our own.

And sometimes the roads are going to be steep. Steep, rocky, uncomfortable, hard, exhausting, painful, etc. But it’s part of His plan. We as humans fail to see the purpose in a lot of trials and situations until after they have been resolved. Bad stuff happens sometimes. A lot of times. satan [goin’ Bob Goff mode] is a dirty, thirsty thief, who will do anything and everything he can to make us stray from God. I mentioned Job above. We talked this weekend about how God allowed satan to act in Job’s life just to prove Job wouldn’t deny Him. satan took away Job’s family, house, animals, health, basically everything. And still yet, Job rejoiced in God. Trials stretch us. If we were able to get through them alone, would there even be a need for an almighty God? Probably not. If we could understand why certain things were happening, would we ever turn to God amidst pain? Nah.

Let’s be INTENTIONAL.

I’m sorry I basically just wrote a chapter of a book here. You made it!

 

 

xo.

A Non-Fiction Depiction of A Conviction.

Silent Rage.

I’m angry. Actually, I’m disappointed. You may say I’m feeling petulant, but rather than temporary annoyance at a small thing, I’m indignant because of a not small(ish) thing. I’ve been told my words conceive power. And here and now, I want them to echo through the room to the point where they change things.

My youngest brother came home from school today, disappointed. Typically J is a exuberant, talkative child. He could talk to you for hours, about anything really. Anything from Mine-craft to books to science to math to, again, anything. To see him sitting in the backseat, slouching, quiet, I knew something wasn’t right.

I’m the oldest of three. I have two younger brothers, and the youngest, J especially has always been near and dear to my heart. We’re five years apart, six grades in school. I remember being four years old, sitting on the couch, snuggled next to my mom, as my dad told me the new addition to the family may be  extra special. Special he was alright. Weeks before he was born, doctors told my mom he would never talk. Some even went as far as to encourage an abortion. To this day, this still aggravates me. To think J might not even be alive hurts my heart. J was born, but sadly, with a cleft lip and palette and potential disabilities. I remember his first surgery. He came home from the hospital, arm braces strapped to his wrists, bandage where his rib used to be, and stitches combined with dried blood adhered to the top of his lip. I remember sitting at the table while my mom fed him milk from a syringe. I remember crying and looking away, and then looking over to see his face starting to crumple up, my mom assuring him I was just looking out the window. Five more surgeries followed. Each time, he came home from the hospital, stitched, bloodied, unable to talk, restrained by arm braces, but still so strong. Each time, my dad would take me and A to the store to buy a yellow, smiley face balloon and a get well soon card. Every night after the surgeries until he was three, my mom would put Mederma on his upper lip as my dad brushed me and A’s teeth. While he was immobile, my mom says I used to sit there, next to him, watching, playing with him, giving him toys, just sitting there, even if he was sleeping. I was content just looking at him, just content to be in his presence. After he turned one, he began to talk. Which was a miracle only from God above. Instead of missing a tooth like the majority of cleft lip patients do, he had an extra. He could smile, he could laugh, he could talk, he could look at you with his blue eyes twinkling, his hair as blond as a ray of sun.

Now, he’s older. He enjoys drawing, writing, reading, school, acting, painting, basketball, soccer, etc. He’s almost taller than me now, but I still think of him as a little potato, wrapped up in blankets.

Here’s why I’m mad.

Today, as said above, he came home from school sullen. J’s in sixth grade, and has the same teacher me and A had years ago. Unfortunately, this teacher was not particularly fond of me. I didn’t give her any reason to, as far as I know. Towards the end of the year, in May, I threw up due to what we believe was an allergic reaction, but only reinforced her contempt. She would never call on me, even though I proved to be a good student. She always yelled at me, but not other people. She would mark me tardy, claiming I wasn’t in my seat, though there were other people standing around the room. I found a flaw in a grammar song she taught us. Apparently she wrote it, and apparently she didn’t know prepositions don’t modify nouns. She didn’t really like A either. He expressed the same kind of feeling – she liked the other kids more than him. It’s unfair. It’s not right. This shouldn’t be happening, especially in a Christian school.

J announced she jeopardized his chances at making the spelling bee. My jaw instantly dropped since he wasn’t in the top three runners in his class, because he’s been practicing the words since December. He is a machine. He knows words I don’t even know. He uses them too, correctly. To think of how far he’s come, from being destined not to talk, to obtaining a better vocabulary than me and A, it’s amazing. J’s also in advanced math, which means he leaves sixth grade every day at some point and goes to the eighth grade room for math. Yeah, that’s my brother. Turns out, before break, while he was in his advanced math class, his teacher handed out the “updated” spelling bee lists. He was pretty sure they didn’t have Spelling or Literature or Grammar while he was gone, and doesn’t even know when she handed it out. Could it have been while he was in the bathroom? At band, playing trombone? At math, where he belongs? We don’t know. But for some reason, he didn’t get the list. He got some other list. But not the other kids, they all got updated lists.

So he didn’t make it into the spelling bee where he belongs.

And I assure you, she knows what she’s doing. She knows he belongs there, she knows she purposely didn’t put him in. He’s too kind to object, to complain.

This is not equality. This is not love, as the Bible calls us to do. This is not fellowship. This is not supposed to happen in a Christian school. This is discrimination. This is illegal. This is hurtful and infuriating. I’m livid for him. I’m almost mad he has the same last name as me, because his relations with me probably jump started her hatred for him. It makes me so mad.

That’s all I have to say.

xo.

Silent Rage.

Diagnosed.

A lifelong friend of mine told me she is officially going to Olivet in the fall! I’m so happy for her, and I can’t wait to see how God uses her and those around her. Ever since I’ve heard about Olivet, I at least wanted to visit. While I still haven’t, I at least looked into their offered programs. They don’t offer Occupational Therapy. Or if they do, there isn’t a graduate program there.

After looking up Olivet on social media and seeing the campus, I decided I wanted to look up Concordia too. As I began to scroll down the page, reading posts and looking at pictures, I felt chills. Chills ran up my back all the way through my arms. A distinct feeling I typically only feel in the presence of God. I can’t remember ever having chills while looking at pictures. I get chills when I’m sick, while I’m worshiping, and while I hear something amazing God has done.

I haven’t heard God’s voice clearly while choosing colleges. There’s one song by Chris Rice in which he writes “I’ve never heard the calling, but somehow you’ve led me right here.” And it’s true. While I feel God was part of the decision, I never had clear affirmation. It just felt like something I should do.

But I’m thinking I just felt God saying yes through those chills. I can’t wait.

Remember how I talked about some great book called With by Skye Jethani too many times? I actually got it for Christmas. I also read the entire thing, twice. Once because I was trying to read it quickly because I was so excited; twice because I didn’t remember everything I read.

After rereading, I have realized I am not living life WITH God. In fact, I’m living my life FOR God. FOR God meaning everything on the surface of my life reflects God. Everything on the surface involves God, appears to honor God, and makes me look like I’ve got my life together.

plot twist.

I don’t have my life together. In fact, it’s been probably a solid year I’ve been living my life FOR God. A solid year. Ashamed, I can say with confidence I missed God throughout the majority of the year. I volunteered. I provided worship for others. I went on mission trips. I worked at and attended Christian camps. I know the Bible reasonably well. I know the answers to questions. I blog about Jesus. I practically lived at church every Sunday for 12 hours. And at the end of it all, I have gained close to nothing. I’ve gained short term praise and affirmation. I’ve been told thank you for some of the stuff I’ve done. I’ve been given gratitude gifts. And each one has filled me up, just temporarily, until I can do something else people praise me for. Each letter, gift, email – they mean nothing compared to God’s praise. Though, they made me smile. They made me feel appreciated. But the entire time, I was living life FOR God. Living life FOR God amid anxiety, fear of not being good enough, loneliness, and constant pressure to do better. At one point, the constant pressure meant taking 6 AP classes senior year, so I did. Other times, it meant overbooking to meet with people to make them feel loved, or even to meet with people so I could be filled up. Yet other times it meant spending all day at church so I could be part of everything going on. Maybe I just wanted to go to church because around me were examples of people living WITH God. Maybe I wanted affirmation.

Living life FOR God and living life WITH God are completely different things. A person living life FOR God is constantly empty. A person living life FOR God hides what is going on below the surface. A person living FOR God lies about their actual state in fear of revealing their life is not as together as it seems. A person living life FOR God can appear to live in communion WITH God, but can completely miss Him all together. A person living life FOR God does not represent the lifestyle God intended for us. God wanted to be WITH us. When He created Adam and Eve in the garden, He was there too. He was WITH them. He led them. He guided them. He loved them. He comforted them. God’s initial longing was to live life WITH us. And well – *enter sin* . Unfortunately, we are separated from God because of the sin present in our lives. Sin is anything separating us from God, whether it be lies, sexual immorality, idols, bitterness.. In this broken world, we long for control. We long for safety, comfort. Our fears stand in the way of us fully relying on God. And when those fears stand in the way, we tend to adjust our posture towards God. For me, I took a FOR God posture. Instead of putting fears aside and fully trusting Him, I made my life look as if I was living WITH Him, but really, on a deeper level, I missed Him completely. I missed Him completely because I was afraid to let go of comfort, of routine, of my values.

Personally, I cannot remember a time where I’ve completely missed God more in the past x years of my life. And from the outside, [I hope with all within me] you probably wouldn’t guess. Internally, I long for a life WITH God. I long to do life WITH Him. I want His plans for my life. And in order to do so, I have to start with a heart change. I want my soul to be so passionate about Jesus I can’t constrain it. I want a fire. I want a burning desire. I want it to be so strong so nothing is appealing enough to stand in the way. I want a desire so powerful leading to me knowing God, not about God. I want to see God work through me. I want to witness His goodness first hand. I want to hear His voice. I want to long for His presence.

As I mentioned earlier, I feel God indirectly led me to the right college. While I am thankful, I also want to, from this point on, live life WITH God. I want to seek His knowledge for similar decisions. I want Him to give me His plans. Maybe even if means switching colleges, majors, offices, etc. Am I willing? In theory, yes. Above all, I want control. But faith is the exact opposite of control. And living life WITH God has to be more fulfilling and beautiful than a life of control, which doesn’t exactly exist.

A life WITH God is what I want to long for. It’s going to require some intentional change, some trust, and some time. With a group of students at my church, I decided to fast. I don’t know how long this fast will last, but I know for a fact I’m going to fast any and every kind of junk food. Including, but not limited to, school cookies and Wendy’s frosties, which are excellent if I may say so myself. Instead of running to Wendy’s after church, maybe I’ll sit in my car and pray.

Intentional much?

xo.

Diagnosed.

what.

The weirdest thing happened at youth group tonight.

Back Story A. I have a disease in my wrists. It causes not only my hands to cramp up but pain when it starts acting up. The name is too long to remember. It’s triggered by things like typing, playing piano, excessive wrist movement.. In order to attempt to prevent it, I sleep with a brace on my wrist most nights. Except when I’m busy and sleep at other people’s houses. So basically the past weeks. The pain is usually just soreness, like raw pain. Never sharp or sudden.

Back Story B. I was at church all day, first to volunteer with children and then to stay for a three hour worship rehearsal [ I play piano.. ] . Youth group was having and extended night of worship, and we had around 10 songs to rehearse.

As rehearsal went on, I felt great. No headache, no pain; all laughs and praise. At 6:00, students started coming in, and we played our first song, then second.. so on. By the second to last song, I’m still functioning somewhere near my best performance level. The last song is Happy Day, an upbeat, joyous song that is fast. Like real fast. In the intro, I’m going. I’m jamming into the piano with all I have left, but towards the end of the intro, the weirdest thing happens. I’m playing, and all of a sudden, a shock goes through my arm. One that I could only describe as feeling electric. Short stream of pain. From my right shoulder, all the way down through my fingers. I stop momentarily, but then realize I need to keep playing. But, I can’t. I can’t move my hand. It’s frozen there, fingers curved. I can’t even move my shoulder. At first opportunity, I remove my hand using my other one, and I continued playing the rest of the song with my left hand. Which was real fun. I wondered if I pinched a nerve or something else. It was just sore afterwards.

I talked to T, and he was like maybe God healed you. I’ll keep you posted. But BAM. Like how cool would that be?

xo.

what.