Change.

 

I hate change. I absolutely despise change. Every part of me hates change. Change means I’m not in control. Change means I’m uncomfortable. Change means new things. Change maybe means being vulnerable.

This month especially is a time of change. These next few months will be full of changes where I lack control. An amazing person in my life is moving. Yesterday, a friend and I spent a few last hours with him, playing frisbee and engaging in random shenanigans. As I drove away, it kinda hit me the afternoon might have been one of the last times I would see him. Then, as I thought about it, I realized I was moving. Rather than to Florida, I’m moving on to a different chapter of my life. I’m moving on to missions trips and camp counselor life, and then, college. And to be honest, I’m scared. I’m hesitant and nervous. I’m afraid of being alone and unloved. I’m afraid I won’t be outgoing enough to make friends. I love being comfortable. I have many fantastic people in my life from school and church, and there’s a part of me which just wants to remain where I am. Each relationship has taken time, and I love everyone in my life. It’s taken time for me to find good friends who encourage me spiritually. I want to continue to do biweekly life with my church pals. I want to continue to be a small group leader and play with my church band. I want to keep doing chemistry labs and laugh with people who appreciate me. I want to know where I can go if I’m having a bad day. I want to know there are people who I can trust and who trust me. I’m scared my major is wrong. I’m scared my roommates and I won’t get along. I’m scared I’ll mess up. I’m scared my professors will be hard. I’m scared I’ll gain the “freshman fifteen.” All of these things are changes. All of these things are new, uncomfortable, and maybe even painful. I’m comfortable right where I am. I am comfortable going to high school, hanging out with people I like, and attending classes where it’s relatively easy for me to succeed. I’m comfortable at youth group, where I have my friend circle, where we have inside jokes and prayers and fellowship. I’m comfortable being at home and spending time with my friends and brothers. I’m in a place where I am comfortable and in control of a lot of things, and it makes me happy.

Except I’m not happy. But, what does it mean to be happy? Does happy mean comfortable? Does it mean loved? Does it mean spiritually at peace? What is happy?

I think we forget sometimes changes can be positive things.

Although change means I’m not in control, change means I can grow. I cannot think of any change in my life which has not given me something to learn from or grow into. Each positive and negative occurrence in my life has stretched me in some way, and without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. How cliche. Times filled with anxieties, worry, depression, loss, etc. usually lead us to Him. Times like those allow us to grow.

So as this next season of life enters quickly, I want to run relentlessly to the one who knows what’s coming next. I want to rest in the one who knows my thoughts and hears my prayers. I want to be authentic. I want to be genuine. I want to love, and I want to trust it will all work out, even if I feel the opposite. I want to grow spiritually. I want to be God’s hands and feet. I want to be pure. I want to be a light in a dark, dark world. A world filled with sin, immorality, lies, and restlessness. A world full of hopelessness and chasing after things which don’t provide satisfaction. I want to lead, not just quietly follow. But really, above all, I want God. I want to live life WITH Him. Let us be intentional.

Yesterday, at youth group after our frisbee shenanigans, the song “Your Love Never Fails” played. There’s one verse where the lyrics go “constant in the trials and the change,” describing God’s constancy and presence in our lives. Even though our lives can sometimes feel like they are falling apart, He is constant. He is good. He is sovereign. Through every trial and change, He is the only one we can run to and rest in. So next time life throws you a curve ball, take it like a man, and bring it to the one who has plans to give you “a hope and a future.”

Today’s appreciation post goes out to my beautiful friend who loves to love. She also loves Jesus and hugs. She has a beautiful, absolutely beautiful voice, and she also has an authentic heart which loves to serve. She’s gone on two mission trips, and even when she felt defeated and ready to give up, she was perseverant. Her eyes remind me of crystal blue spider webs, and she appreciates crazy pants. She loves spending her Wednesdays with middle schoolers and her Wednesdays (@deepnacho) singing in a band and loving her peers. She has a heart full of gold, and is never, ever, ever, resistant to offer her shoulder as one to lean on or her ear to listen. She inspires me to live a life which honors Jesus, and I can’t imagine going through life without her.

xo.

Change.

Four Years of Refining.

As I approach my last three days of high school, I can’t help but feel nostalgic yet accomplished. I started off as a young girl, barely five feet tall, not yet even one hundred pounds, and completely innocent, though alone. I first came to this place on a stormy, dark day, where I immediately realized I knew no one. I realized they weren’t like me. I realized my home was different. My Sundays were spent different.

But were they? I like to think they were. I like to think I had a steadfast and personal faith. But yet, I can’t say I did. I didn’t talk to people there. Youth group was optional. I was an unfamiliar face. I was well acquainted with what to say in small group. Words were just words. The people meant nothing. I had few friends and it was in this season of my life where I stopped talking. I thought I couldn’t verbalize my thoughts. What if I said the wrong thing? What if they didn’t think I was good enough? Behind all of it, the question what if no one likes me was protruding. Acceptance was what I wanted, but I still felt like an outsider. During classes, I never raised my hand. At youth group, I was just a shadow. At home, I was myself, yet bombarded with new-found freedom and burdensome work. I was the girl who earned a C in geometry first semester. I was the girl who tried and tried, only to be disappointed. I was the girl who felt like just a number, and actually, she was a number. She was just 160367; not a person, not a soul, just a number among 1500 other numbers. Sometimes this number changed. Sometimes it became her grades. Sometimes it became her amount of failed sentences. Sometimes it became the number of chapters she read in her Bible. Sometimes, it was a zero. A round, empty, and silent zero.

And here I sit here at a table in the school library today, wearing clothes representing my future vocation: occupational therapy. I sit, typing into a release I’ve found. I sit, texting friends I have made. I sit, studying for an Advanced Placement exam. In mathematics, surprisingly, as I came close to failing geometry. I sit, wearing matching clothes, rather than a t-shirt and aeropostale sweatshirt. I sit, hair fourteen inches shorter. I sit, three inches taller, and many pounds more. I sit, listening to Jesus music. I sit, looking around the library which has been here all four years. I have cried in this area; I have laughed harder than I ever remember. Some days, I have fallen asleep. Others, I have gone home sick.  Yet others, I have forced myself to study until my mind was full and I felt like giving up. Some days, I looked out the window and watched birds fly over the fields, or snow cover the ground, or even rain bring life and hope to the dusty and grim savanna. Today, though, I sit, reflecting.

These past four years have grown and stretched me more than any other four years in my life. I don’t mean to make it seem like a ride in the park either; it was hard. Broken friendships, stress, impossible teachers, restrictions at home, and even gym class were all things which have pushed me to become who I am. I’ve found friends who help me become a better person, whether it be in my walk with Christ, physically, or emotionally; I’ve had to sort out the good and bad influences. I’ve had weeks where I thought would never end because of busy schedules and AP classes. Other weeks where I wished they would prolong due to the laughs and memories. I’ve taken ten official college board tests. There were other weeks where I became frustrated. I remember my first auditions for both piano and flute. Both times, I cried, feeling I wasn’t good enough. I also remember opening the letter and finding I had received an immense music scholarship. I remember feeling the thrill of being scheduled with my pals on the pco. And then, three words: Heart. Rate. Monitors. Dreadful, until I was blessed with  running buddy who pushed me to participate in a color run with her. I remember feeling insufficient and trying to combat it, only creating more pain. I remember feeling defeated after I was first allergy tested. I remember attending funerals for people who mattered. I remember laughing so hard my stomach hurt. I remember the adrenaline during basketball during the championship game. There were other weeks I tested out the camp counselor life, and grew to love it. Other days, I hated it. And now, I remember the first day of ABC countdown for seniors. A – America. It seems so long ago, yet it was only five weeks ago.

I can’t state all those things without first recognizing the impact youth group and mission trips have had in my life. I can’t even begin to speak words about how God has become my cornerstone. Each year, camp has grown me. Each year, each mission trip, I find an even larger community of people who aspire after the same things as me. Each week, I intentionally surround myself with those people. I’ve learned what an honorable boy is like. I’ve found mentors. I’ve found a band who loves God and loves music. I’ve found a youth pastor who has shown us all what it’s like to serve. I’ve found volunteering to be even more lovely with one of my best friends. I’ve immersed myself in weekly sermons. I’m surrounded by my seventh grade small group. I’ve seen how men should first pursue God relentlessly before they pursue a woman. I’ve seen the clouds representing the beauty and creativity of my God. I get we’re all different and have the capacity to believe in different things, but I honestly question how people live and attempt to thrive without Jesus. Don’t you ever feel like you are searching endlessly without an answer? Searching through things which don’t end with satisfaction or peace?

I want to tell you this. High school stinks sometimes. People stink sometimes, figuratively and literally. Stuff stinks. Life is sometimes really hard. Other times, it’s the opposite. Sometimes life is appealing and lovely and all things nice. But through those rougher times, you will grow. You will grow smarter, stronger, in relationships. You will grow into who you really are. I wouldn’t have believed you freshman year if you told me I would go to Trinidad, receive many scholarships, take all AP classes, and one day go to the college I only dreamed of then. I wouldn’t have believed you. But I have.

So maybe right now, you don’t know where you are going. Maybe you don’t know where you are called. Maybe you don’t know who to take with you. Maybe you just left a toxic relationship. Maybe you don’t know why this is happening to you. Maybe you don’t know who you are. Maybe you have given up. Maybe you are empty. Maybe you are alone. Maybe you feel like an outcast. Maybe you are nervous about what these next months will bring. Maybe you regret some things. Maybe you are fine with the way you are living; maybe you’re not. Maybe something good has just happened. Maybe the opposite. Maybe you feel like your life has no purpose. Maybe you wish there was more to life than this.

breathe. it’s going to be okay. you are okay. you are alive. you are breathing. you are growing. you are enough. you have purpose. people like you. you need to rest. you need to rest in jesus christ.

There is hope. Hope comes with disappointment, with fear, with rough patches. People are going to hurt you. People are going to stink. You might even stink. I have a beautiful mentor who jokes her motto is “suck less tomorrow,” and I honestly admire it. Each day is a new opportunity. You have twenty-four hours to live and breathe and work and cry and laugh and love and serve and be loved and be served and run and form friendships and eat three times and watch a sunset and go on a walk. And sometimes, your day will be filled with junk. Sometimes you will have headaches and pain and hurt and tears and rage and disgust. Sometimes you’ll burn your perfect dinner. And sometimes, it seems like the end of the world.

But really, it’s not.

We have this hope, and anchor for our souls. And through every storm in life, I know where my trust is. Anyways, I’ve said all I had wanted to say. Have some hope, and if you can, try to zoom out a bit, because I’m pretty sure you’re going to be okay.

To all my freshmen, push through. It’s only going to get harder, but you’re only going to become stronger. Write. Keep accounts of the good and the bad. Learn. Grow. Prosper.

Today’s appreciation goes out to a beautiful person who dedicates her time each week to hang out with crazy high school students. She is an excellent listener, and she sets aside time to invest in your life, whether it be through reading all of your blog posts, giving you prunes, or even just telling you her story. She is patient. She is loving. She is a mother. She probably has sunglasses on her head right now. She is lovely in every way. She’s also extremely good at asking hard questions to intentionally keep you awake at night thinking. Okay, maybe more with an intention of helping you grow. But honestly, why would anyone want to spend an hour (+) with a bunch of hooligans at a hot dog place after already voluntarily spending two hours with them at youth group? Only a really Good person who strives to love Jesus more everyday and to “suck less tomorrow.”

xo.

Four Years of Refining.

Worthy of..garlic bread?

Hear ye, Hear ye. There is a new page in the upper left hand corner called “Prayer Requests.” I’m doing a new thing, and it’d be really cool if you posted something or committed to praying for someone who has posted. Let us become a community. Alright, that is all.

A few days ago at youth group, I asked God to reveal a part of His character to me. I’ve been realizing actually knowing God requires you to know His character. There, He put the words “worthy to be praised” in my head. Worthy essentially means deserving of. Deserving of praise, trust even. I find so often we easily can find things to be thankful for; in fact, America has a whole holiday dedicated to being thankful. He is worthy of our thanksgiving. We have many radio stations specifically for playing Christian music. He is worthy of our music, our voices, our words. He is worthy of purity. He is worthy of obedience. He is worthy of repentance. He is worthy of our hearts. He is worthy of our trust. I actually despise the last point. Trust is probably one of the things which comes unnaturally to me.

I’m really bad at trusting people. I’m really bad about letting people engage in any kind of physical touch with me. I don’t trust them. I despise physical touch because I honestly don’t trust people. I’m really bad at trusting God to keep me safe. The same night while I was at youth group, two guys were running around my neighborhood after committing some crime. According to my family, numerous police cars were patrolling the neighborhood and many were on foot, looking around people’s backyards, along with a K9 unit sniffing around. Of course, my family was inside with all the doors locked, but to hear bits and pieces of it as the night went on brought fear into my head. It turns out one of them happened to be hiding in our yard, and he was arrested on our front lawn. Coming home, I was afraid. I was afraid there were more. I was afraid they got in the house. But they didn’t. It was almost as if a cloud were sitting over our house, covering and protecting us.

Last night, I attended my youngest sibling’s choir concert, were the whole elementary gathered together and sang praises to the Lord. All cuteness aside, they were amazing. At one point, they scream sang the song I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe, and to hear the assured faith these kids possessed was absolutely beautiful. A young second grader sang the words “When I walk through deep waters; I know that you will be with me. When I’m standing in the fire; I will not be overcome.” I honestly admire their faith and confidence. As we grow in age and education, I find we often find more reasons to lack faith. Science replaces creation. Little things like so with combined influences can easily sway a child. But when Jesus talks about “childlike faith,” it is something we can easily see and copy in today’s world. Yes, children can be rambunctious and loud and gross and sick, but really, think about their minds; they are so trusting, so loving, so innocent. And those qualities are things we lose as we get older. Spending time around children can inspire you to become just as trusting, but yet, it’s so much easier said than done.

My mission trip is soon approaching, and I am so excited. I am excited to serve and to love and to meet people. To think there is a select child whom God is setting aside for me to invest in makes my heart all warm and fuzzy. I can’t wait to spend time in community with the rest of my team, and I absolutely cannot wait to see where God steps in when we fail.

And with that,

Today’s appreciation post goes to a young man who likes Wednesdays and garlic bread. Okay, “likes garlic bread” is quite an understatement. I’ve never met anyone else who can consume multiple family sized baskets of garlic bread. I am privileged to sit in his presence two nights out of the week, and I can honestly say our time spent is usually the best part of my day. He is phenomenal at making puns, taking selfies, and driving safely. His brake checks keep you on your toes, and he always knows how to lighten a situation. He is fantastic with children (john deere), and has such a passion to serve others – he’s going on a mission trip to AFRICA this summer!! Also, this man is the best storyteller I have ever met. Without lifting a finger, he can captivate an entire audience for 45 minutes with one story. His kids are the oddest, yet funniest beings I have ever heard of, and I honestly wish his love for garlic bread was as strong as my love for Jesus. Okay, kidding, but honestly, this sir is intelligent, hysterical, and admirable in his love for Jesus and his eagerness to serve others.

xo. 

Worthy of..garlic bread?