a good day to have a good day.

As of yesterday night, I have completely finished reading the Psalms. This last day was almost hard to complete because I didn’t want it to “end.” I can honestly say I find myself to be a more joyful person since beginning to read them on a daily basis. I want to tell you how God has used this to redeem my purpose and joy. I have read genuine cries to God – ones of praise, help, pleads for deliverance, cries for justice. David also writes anthems of praise, long monologues full of despair, and songs of gratitude and hope. There are a few recurring themes I’ve really enjoyed, and one of them is the idea of God being our rock, our cornerstone. I want my life to be built around Him, including my relationships, education, career, and persona. The words “right hand” were also used a lot throughout this book. God is strong. He is a just God, and sometimes, we fall among the wicked David describes. However, God is also a strong God who loves us and can lift us up from our sorrows. Next, I really admired David’s stress on repentance throughout this book. His words are ones of genuine remorse and regret at what he has done, begging on his knees for forgiveness and redemption. God is the only one who can redeem his life. I mess up – a lot. However, I’m not one to be incredibly confrontational or put a lot of stress or attention on small mistakes. Even so, sin is sin, and I truly admire David’s attention and recognition of his faults. Additionally, I saw many references to clouds, and this made my heart happy. David also writes about his soul longing for His creator many times throughout, and one of those instances (psalm 63:1) happened to be the verse I associated with my baptism. My soul longs for my creator. The entire purpose of reading through the Psalms was to hopefully find joy, and I honestly can say I have. I’m usually happy. I’m happy when I’m around people. I’m happy when I am in God’s neature. However, when I am alone, stressed, carrying burdens, or just not feeling great, I know for a fact I have the tendency to feel depressed, isolated, and afraid. I’m not here to tell you reading the Bible is an instant cure for feelings of depression. Just earlier this week, I sat on my dorm floor and cried for a solid ten minutes. I can tell you God will use your efforts to redeem you. Overall, I feel joyful. I feel redeemed. I feel a longing in my heart to love people, and I am content. I am content in the work before me. I am content in the relationships I’ve made. I also feel just an overwhelming desire to love people. I don’t care if it means late nights, long talks, lengthy letters, I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s me praying for you, cleaning your mess, trying to make you laugh, giving you a hug. I don’t care if it means some of my work not getting done. I want to love you. I want to serve you. Please, feel free to let me know how I can love you these next few weeks and beyond. Send me prayer requests. Let me know if you need anything at all. I want to share some of this joy and love I have, and luckily, God has it in bulk.

I feel I am often one to focus on the negatives of life and see areas for improvement. I’m one to have extremely high expectations for both myself and other people. Sometimes, I forget the simplicity of living, just living and appreciating every moment. I had an absolutely wonderful day this week. In my past few posts, I’ve talked about struggles, areas of improvement, challenges, and melancholy things. Today, I want to tell you about what a day it was to be alive on Wednesday, which just happened to be a really great, joy-filled day, my dudes:

Under every circumstance, I should have had a long and tiring day. This morning, I finally went to bed around 3:00 AM after studying for a quiz for a class later today. I got a good four and a half hours of sleep and woke up feeling absolutely dead. This morning, the skies were gloomy, the wind was absolutely dreadful, and rain poured down from the sky – it was a perfect day to wear rain boots. Today, I had the opportunity to play for the chapel service. I began to write out the events of the day, but I realized they attribute absolutely nothing the joy I had, and in fact they almost disqualify my joy. Long classes, hard quizzes, etc.

However, one of my favorite parts of the day occurred later in the night. At the beginning of the year, I joined the nursing home club here at college, and I attended for the first time all year on this Wednesday afternoon. I have a weekly study session for my Anatomy class which prevents me from being an avid member. As we arrived, we walked by many residents eating and sitting around. After entering a small room, a few came over, and we were asked to go invite others. I want to shoutout my roommate, my queen, today, because watching her interact with these people was absolutely inspiring. There was a certain confidence, approachability, and care she brought with her, and I sat there and just watched in awe. We gave each of the residents who attended a small Halloween basket filled with some candy, and the surprise on their faces was absolutely adorable. Additionally, the comfort dog from school came with us, and their joy from simply petting her was also incredibly cute. After a brief petting session, hangman commenced. It was incredibly hard for some of the residents to see, comprehend, and communicate, and my heart was filled with empathy. Especially this week, my appreciation for life has increased. Life is short, time passes quickly, abilities change, and through it all,  we will live in different perspectives. At some points, we will be young humans seeing those older than us slowly deteriorate – those who we know, but maybe not well. Soon, it will be our parents, aunts, uncles. Someday, it will be our friends. While it’s hard to think about, we will soon follow this pattern; it will be us. Life is short, and to truly live is something I strive to do. Love your peoples while you have the chance.

We played a few spooky rounds of hangman, with lovely elderly ladies shouting out letters. At the end of the night, we had a short devotional, and then asked if there were any prayer requests. Some of the residents lifted up friends, others themselves. It gave me hope as we all gathered together and cried out to our Savior. Someday, I hope to see each of these residents – renewed, capable, and with Jesus. At the end of the night, I walked one of the residents back to her room. She made polite conversation on the way to her room, asking my about my major and college experience so far. I opened the door to her room for her, and she invited me in. Lynn was an artist in her earlier years. She showed me some of her sketchbooks, the crowns she made, and told me the meaning behind one of her pictures on the wall. Upon leaving, she told me the world needs more good people. And I completely agree with her. Someday, you will be only what you have done. You will be the change you brought to the world. Today, you have the decision to be the hope, the light, the change, the joy, the good in the world. Love everyone around you. Treasure every moment. Find purpose to your life. Do things which matter. Inspire kindness. You have the ability to choose what you leave behind.

Today, I choose joy.

After returning home, I had the absolute best night with my immediate roommates. I feel at home here. I feel loved. I feel joy. They are absolute lights in my life, and I treasure every second spent with them. Honestly, I haven’t laughed until I’ve cried for a while, and these girls most definitely have the ability to make me do so. Probably couldn’t tell you what was so funny, but I can’t smell, whales make noises, and getting high is cool. Golly, I love you guys. Thank you for the joy you bring me each and every night.

My appreciation post of the week goes to someone who is patient, to someone who values other people a lot. To someone who loves Jesus with everything and brings Him into their everyday life. To someone who has truly listened to God’s calling on their life. To someone who sacrifices anything for the people around them. To someone who will call you at 10:32 at night and ask if you want to meet your favorite author the next day. This is someone who has tangibly shown me grace, love, and patience. This is someone who makes gr9 puns, takes time to interact with children, and sees value in potatoes. This is someone who inspires many to love Jesus each day. Keep it up, pal. You’re a star. Thank you for living out Jesus, because it’s truly admirable.

xo.

a good day to have a good day.

Perspective.

I need to write. So I’m going to, and today, I’m going to post it. I’m going to be raw and honest, and I want to inspire urgency within you. I want to convey the value of life and develop purpose to dependence on God.

Yesterday and today have been two days where I’ve been incredibly pensive and apathetic. It’s only by God’s grace this hasn’t affected the quality of my schoolwork by a large margin. I’m doing incredibly well when it comes to classes, and I can honestly say I can’t take a lot of credit for it. I had a friend who once told me about how she prayed before, during, and after each exam/quiz, and I’ve been attempting to do the same thing. Sometimes, it shows. Others, it doesn’t, but even so, God is still so good. However, my apathy has directly effected my attitude. These last few days, I have felt extremely isolated and unable to just be. Every instant is consumed with something important. Every free minute is consumed with thinking, including late at night. I’ve thought about all kinds of things. Things like if relationships are even worth it. Things like Syria and politics. Things which are deep and things I’ve forgotten.

Relationships. These last few days, I have successfully ignored some of the people I love the most. I’ve felt alone and unwanted. I absolutely detest my views when it comes to relationships. However, I still tend to ask myself these questions often. Why is it worth it for me to have friends if they’re eventually going to leave my life, this earth, etc.? Why should I waste my time pouring into people who don’t return the favor or who are going to soon leave? When is it my turn to be loved? At one point yesterday, I was praying about a certain relationship in my life, and I legitimately asked God to give me a valid excuse to cut off communication if it would be His will. Something unforgivable, detestable, or just a reason of any sort to move on. And then I sat for a minute, thinking about the words which had just left my mouth. Why should I leave even if there was something “unforgivable” in my mind? Where does grace come in? Would it be a good representation of Christ? Absolutely not. And for right now, I am called to stay. And I have a lot of patience problems surrounding it. I’m really just lacking patience overall. I give up on people so easily. I don’t allow myself to reach a point where I feel completely comfortable talking to them. I’ll dip my toes beneath the surface and then back out just as quickly as I came in. It’s something I’m extremely good at, but overall, it just leads to be hurting people. Instead, I want to love people. I want to serve. I want to let them know they matter and be someone who conveys the love of Christ. I want to be what they need and spread joy and truth. I want intimacy and trust, and I want to grow deeper in Christ. I want to leave my comfort zone and be present. I want to be real and vulnerable. I want to forgive and love deeply.

Today after worship rehearsal, one of my bandmates announced she wanted to talk about the executions and crucifixions which were recently carried out by ISIS towards a group of men, women, and children who had denounced their original religion to follow Christ. If you were given the choice to deny Jesus and live or refuse to do so and die, what would you honestly do? I’d like to think I would sacrifice my life. In my eyes, my life is not my own and is of little value without my foundation in Christ. Alone, I am weak, afraid, helpless, and incapable of doing anything. My breath is not my own. I am not my own. I couldn’t justify denying Christ and living. Beauty, peace, purity, joy await. I will see those whom I loved and those who loved me. I will see my savior with His arms open. I will feel joy and redemption. I will finally be with my heavenly father. As this earth becomes more and more nasty, sickening, worldly, and brutal, my heart longs for my father more each day.

Why should I feel so alone and neglected when others are hung and executed alone, for their beliefs? Why should I look in the mirror and feel so inclined to skip meals when people across the world live in inevitable starvation? Why should I complain about how exhausting my classes are when many children don’t have the opportunity to attend school? Why should I ignore my family and friends when some children don’t have a family or friends? Why should I complain about getting so little sleep when some families lay awake at night in fear or in the cold? Why should I take heat, air conditioning, hot showers, food, sleep, freedom, and my abilities for granted? It sickens me how little our faith costs us in this country. We live for ourselves, for our pleasure, for our status. Every day passes, and overall, each day is easy. Other than clowns, we don’t face many threats here. Life is easy, life is for ourselves, life is for you to do what you want. How did we so easily forget to rely on God for everything? How did we so easily forget our purpose here? How have we forgotten how much our world needs Jesus? Have we forgotten what it means to truly live? I have. I’ve forgotten what a life on mission is. I’ve forgotten what it means to live in the now and serve relentlessly. I’ve forgotten what joy feels like. I’ve forgotten what the outside of my comfort zone looks like. I’ve forgotten what just being with people to be with people is. No schedule, no tasks, no shortness, no anxiety, no distractions.

I’ve been doing something new. I’ve been making a list (sometimes physical, sometimes mental) of people/things to pray for. I’ve probably prayed for you, and as late nights ensue, I’ve resorted to prayer on days I struggle to fall asleep. I would love to specifically pray for you, so please contact me in any way. Please. You matter.

Today’s appreciation post goes to a beautiful human. She is so compassionate, so diligent, and absolutely lovely in every way. She has never given up on me, even when I didn’t rock the whole life and friendship thing. She has supported me and has become a part of my family. She has been in my life for four years and has seen me in any and every state of mind. She is the one who continually inspires me to be intentional in my faith. She is the one who challenges me to never give up on people, even if they inflict pain. She makes me laugh and laughs at me when I mess up. Her passion for educating children is beautiful, and her love for life is contagious. Pu, I adore you. You are my sunshine on cloudy days and you somehow always bring me such joy. Thank you for being a person I can call crying late at night and someone who listens and directs me back to God. You are a lovely human, and I’m absolutely blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for spitting in weird places, eating big apples with me, going to meet santa each year, hiding in my closet, letting me make churros at your house, keeping up with my love life, and being someone who can just pick up where we left off. I miss you so so so much.

xo.

Perspective.

S’needs or Leave.

Late the other night, I was talking a friend after a long and draining day. It was a “just okay” day, but I was absolutely exhausted, overwhelmed, and overall really lacked joy. Somewhere throughout the phone call, I was reminded as to exactly how much I love kids with special needs. They are the reason I’m at college. They are the reason I sit through every lecture and complete every assignment. They allow me to have purpose and give me effusive joy. I was reminded as to why I do what I do. I remembered why I’m here. I was reminded of my passion and joy. I forget exactly how this conversation started, but at one point, they asked me why I love children with disabilities. I could go on for ages about this topic, but here are just a few reasons as to why my heart has such compassion for children with special needs.

I love children with disabilities. I absolutely love them. I love spending time with them. I love talking about them. I love talking to them. I love being with them – just being, no more. I don’t mean to categorize all children with special needs or claim all are alike, because they’re not. Not every child matches each of these reasons, but this alone is another reason I love children with disabilities. I love their broad range of personalities, abilities, and interests. Each child is different, special, and deserves to be treated just like every other human around you.

I love their simplicity. It’s easy to “solve” their problems. Your time spent together doesn’t need to be elaborate; they don’t have perceived expectations. Their worlds are simple. They live a simple, inexplicable, amazing life. Their moods are simple. There is nothing artificial, nothing to grope for, nothing to pretend. It is authentic simplicity.

I love their feelings and their transparency. When they are joyful, it is effusive. When they are sad, it is generally easily seen. Just as you and I feel, these children feel, and most of the time, they feel on an even deeper level. Their genuine faces of surprise, authentic concern, sincere joy – it is contagious. They don’t wear masks. What they feel, they feel, and they enable you to feel it with them. There is no pretending, no questioning of feelings. If they are mad, they are mad. If they are sad, they feel. Again, this is not universal. However, a large population of people with special needs do exhibit such transparancy and aren’t afraid to share what’s going on in their minds. Their laughs are contagious, just like yours. They know the pain of rejection just as much as you do. They know fear just like you do. They know what it is to laugh, to cry, to be angry. They are humans, just as you are.

I love their compassion. Overall, they have such care for humanity. They are the ones who will greet everyone and ask you how your day is. They are the ones who will give you the best hugs when you’re feeling down. They are the ones who exemplify Jesus’ compassion. When possible, I notice they serve. One of my campers from this summer helped pull up all of his seventeen teammates for a high adventure activity, though later refused to go up himself. They’re not in it for themselves, there are no overwhelming ideologies of selfishness, no purpose of individual gain. They just want to be. They want to be loved. They want to be surrounded and treated just as you would treat anyone else.

I love their patience. Just yesterday, I couldn’t understand what one of my special friends was saying. Rather then saying never mind or moving on, he took the time to sign it to me, and then looked so incredibly joyful when I could finally understand what he was trying to voice. They just want to be heard. They want to be valued and loved and cherished. They want to have friends and have conversation and do all the things you can do. They want to talk to you, but so often, you ignore them or just smile and nod as they speak. Breezing over what they say and pretending you know what’s being said angers me. Nodding, smiling, saying “oh yeah” – it makes me mad. Just like you and I, they have important things to say, and their words value just as much as yours do. It’s perfectly okay to tell them you can’t hear, can’t understand. They want you to understand. They will go through innumerable efforts to enable you to understand. They want you to laugh with them and take the time to listen to them. And when you do, they understand they may have a communication barrier. They will repeat it. They will sign it. They will write it. They will laugh at you when you get it wrong, and then just try again. They are persistent and deserve to be heard.

I love their lack of fear. They are not afraid to live. They are not afraid to be themselves, to post every picture, to laugh louder than everyone else in the room. They are not afraid to pursue their passions, not afraid to dance like crazy, not afraid to be the only one jumping up and down in a room. They don’t worry about everyone around them thinks. Maybe they don’t notice, maybe it’s irrelevant to them. Whatever the case is, these beautiful people are bold and unique. Additionally, when they are shy, they’re not afraid to show it. Last night at the dance, she told me she wanted to dance with him, but was afraid he would say no. Sometimes it takes time and intentionality to break through their shells. Even so, they do not conform to the patterns of our world. These children inspire me to live with abandon and truly allow myself to be myself.

I write this to convey to you the beauty in children with special needs – anyone with special needs. I write this in hopes the next time you see someone with an extra chromosome or a disability you will give them a high five or smile in their direction. Introduce yourself. Be bold. Take the first step. Don’t be afraid – they’re people just like you. They deserve to be heard and loved and surrounded by friends. Jesus created them just how they are. Jesus loved them enough to die for them. Jesus made them with intention and beauty. In fact, I’d even argue they could be more in the likeness of God’s image than you and I. I see joy in these children, compassion, love, patience, gentleness, kindness. They hold people in such high regard. I don’t see them conforming to the values of our world as much as you and I do. They love with abandon. They bring joy. They see the potential in people. They are not a burden, a pass time, a joke, a hobby. Asking them to homecoming because you want to look good doesn’t make you a good person. It’s not a good deed or an act of kindness. It’s treating a person how they deserve to be treated. It’s making sure they know they matter. It’s about calling out their potential. It’s about seeing their strengths and being beside them as they overcome obstacles. It’s about being supportive, being with them as they too figure out the world. It’s about laughing with them, crying with them, feeling with them, just as you would with any other person. Your interactions are not good deeds or a kind courtesy. A relationship should be a daily acknowledgement of their purpose and being as a whole. It should be returning the love they give everyone. See their abilities, their potential, their talents, their capabilities. People with disabilities are people, just like you and I. They also are made in God’s image. They have so much to offer.

My heart goes out to children with special needs, but so often, I think about children in other countries with special needs. The families who are shunned, condoned, removed from villages. The kids who can’t receive therapy or medical needs. The kids who are seen as possessed, and those who live without hope of having a family. I wonder about the children in orphanages with special needs. So many children exist in orphanages as it is, and many families are reluctant to adopt as it is. What about the children who come with strings attached? Doctor’s bills, hospital visits, therapy, operations, adaptation equipment, etc. As there are few families who do actually go through with adoption, it makes me wonder how many children with special needs are living in an orphanage or alone this very minute. How many of them are put into the corner or refused food because the employers predict no one will want them? How many of them aren’t given a chance to live? How many are treated with discrimination from the other children around them? How many are told they matter and their life is beautiful? How many are shown love? How many are told they are more than a burden? How many are crying right now? I will never know. What I do know, however, is I would love to adopt a child with special needs. I would love to give them a new chance at life. I would love to be someone to give them God’s love and treat them as they deserve. I would love to see them grow and realize they couldn’t be here without grace and love. I would love to enable them to receive treatment and see them as potential and beautiful rather than useless and a burden. I would love to hear their giggles, see the joy in their eyes, learn their passions, see them walk for the first time, hear them speak, cut their hair, wash their feet, lay them in a crib. I would love to teach them the alphabet and let them see snow for the first time. I would love to see the joy on their face and dedicate my life to serving them. I would love to see them fall in love and enter a bethesda college and work somewhere where they are able. I would love to give them a second chance.

I found this video today, and it legitimately brought me to tears. There is no need to be afraid of what s’needs have to bring to the table. Watch it for yourself, and remember it as you encounter them. Love, value, cherish, go the extra mile. Let them know they matter. Don’t be afraid. Love with abandon, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

xo.

S’needs or Leave.