College Mems S1 E4: the cadaver

 

**warning. description of a cadaver set up. viewer discretion advised.**

To walk into a room and see human bodies on a table is absolutely humbling. It’s unforgettable; it’s a little appalling. It is human. My eyes wandered to the paper lying superior to his skull. “Thomas, 81, Vice President, Stroke Victim.” A recognizable mass of muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue was halfway covered by a thin, yellowed sheet. We looked at the nerves and identified the muscles. Then she took off the minimal washcloth, exposing his face. Only then did I feel nauseous. It set in. This was a man, laying out on the table. These bones represented a life. His skull was cut so the brain was easily accessible. We passed it around, noting its irregular consistency. Here originated all of his thoughts, dreams, aspirations. His personality, all his stored memories, the sights, smells, and tastes he experienced – all of it – lay sitting in our hands. Next was a woman. She was 74 and died of lung cancer. We passed around her lungs, which were far from firm and covered in black spots. A tumor of some sort lay in her liver, and globules of fat attached to many of her visceral organs. She had only one kidney and was a transplant recipient. Her hair was curly and brown. Another man had a knee replacement surgery, and we were able to see the metal parts inserted by lifting up his flesh. All three of these humans lay on separate tables, skin removed,  just bodies.

Physically, they were all incredibly unattractive. Tendons were stringy and muscles were brown. In some cases, fat particles covered many parts of the body. In each case, the bodies had no skin. From a first year student’s perspective, races were undistinguishable. There was no white, no black, no yellow, no red, no olive, no freckles, no pale, no tan, no burns, no scars. None was better than the other. None seemed superior. The woman who had lipids attached to her organs? She was no better than the other ones. The man who seemed physically fit? He was just as human as the other bodies in the room. They were bodies. Height, race, eye color, weight, abilities, etc., were not accounted for. Simply, they were human.

Today, I didn’t learn new muscles or nerves. I didn’t learn how to overcome the smell or how to prepare for a lab. I didn’t learn those things. Instead, I relearned the value of a human life. Each body represented a life. Their lives contained identities like brother, sister, mom, dad, aunt, friend, grandfather, etc. Maybe other titles too, like musician or athlete. These humans had dreams and lived lives. They had jobs, and they grew up somewhere. Maybe they had kids. Maybe they changed their major three times. Maybe they went on a mission trip. Maybe they spent many days feeling worthless or alone. Maybe they were the person to make everyone else laugh. Maybe they were really good at physics. Everyone has a story of some sort. The papers above their heads gave their name, age, occupation, and reason for passing. These were once humans.

Sometimes, I think we forget we are all human. We are all made of the same things deep down. We are all broken; we are all sinful. We’re not better than anyone because of the color of our skin or the number staring back up at us from the scale. You are not better than anyone else. You are not less than anyone else. You are you. You are a human. Everyone around you is a human. Love these humans. When it comes down to it, we are solely intricate creations of muscles and bones and tendons and neurons and nerves and organs in desperate need of a Savior. Love the humans around you and adapt a perspective of humility and awe as you watch life progress.

xo.

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College Mems S1 E4: the cadaver

“People are kinda like burritos..”

I don’t think I’ve ever really passionately sought after love or a relationship. I’ve never felt the need to be holding hands. I’ve never longed to post a photo with the tag #nationalboyfriendday. Love has never been something my heart has idolized. I see people around me in relationships and I often think to myself why? why would you waste your time on something which probably won’t last? why give up parts of yourself? why make this big of a decision when you are still young? Even so, I find myself on the complete other side of the spectrum. I’m just the same as you; I want to do the cute things and go on dates and scream-sing songs at each other. I want to feel safe and laugh and love and live. I want to go on picnics and go on mission trips and long road trips and volunteer together. I hate it. I have such a perfect picture painted in my mind.

As I came home the other weekend, I realized it’s not exactly something I need – it’s only something I want, though maybe I’m not ready to enter into it. Since I’ve returned home, I’ve really realized how much being away has changed me. I came home and wondered why I made some of the decisions I’ve made. I read old journals and laughed. I’ve grown in so many ways. In how many more ways will I grow these next few weeks, months, years? How will I grow in my education, my personality, my faith? As I feel empty, I remind myself there is more to come. Currently, I am learning to seek God’s acceptance instead of man’s and rest in His unfailing love. Only His love can satisfy my searching soul.

So today, I want to remind you of what you are worthy of when it comes to relationships. I want to remind you to overlook the burrito shell and discover important inside qualities. However, I’m probably incredibly unqualified to be writing this list. Simply, these are opinions, and I don’t intend to set unrealistic expectations. This has just been on my heart lately, so here we go.

First and most importantly, you are worthy of someone who loves God, someone who lives their faith, and someone who encourages you to follow. Do not compromise this. You are worthy of someone who is able to politely call you out on areas you need to improve. You are worthy of someone who is committed to praying for you, reminding you to read your Bible, and building a relationship on God. You are worthy of someone who has as strong of a passion for Jesus as you do. However, humans are not perfect, but even so, find someone who strives to be like Jesus and encourages you to do the same. Men, you are worthy of a Proverbs 31 woman, who is submissive, hardworking, joyful, wise, and fearing of the Lord. Ladies, you are worthy of a man like Noah, who was righteous, humble, obedient, and faithful.

You are worthy of someone who respects you. You are worthy of someone who sees you as a human and nothing less. You are worthy of someone who is polite to waiters when they get the order wrong; you are worthy of someone who respects the boundaries you lay out. You are worthy of someone who sees people as humans regardless of their physical appearances and abilities. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who will open the door for you and see you more than a means of sex. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will intentionally dress modestly and allow you to feel.

You are worthy of someone who is committed to loving you. You are worthy of being pursued. You are worthy of someone who is patient and understanding; someone who is able to unpack your burdens with you and love you despite your shortcomings. You are worthy of coming home to flowers or your favorite meal. You are worthy of someone who takes time to learn your love language. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will take care of you when you’re sick and who will affirm you. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who will listen when you’re emotional and who will also affirm you.

You are worthy of someone who will make you feel safe. You are worthy of being yourself, your quirks and all, and not fearing judgement or ridicule. You are worthy of feeling safe around this person to state how you feel. You are worthy of feeling emotionally and physically safe. You are worthy of someone who you can sing incredibly off-key with. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who is willing to protect you and who enables you to speak your mind. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will enable you to thoroughly feel without being afraid of being perceived as weak or pathetic.

You are worthy of someone who is willing to actively serve you and the people around you. You are worthy of someone who realizes your needs and makes at least an effort to love you. You are worthy of someone who puts your needs in front of their own; someone who will serve alongside you overseas, at FMSC, in your community. You are worthy of someone who is willing to serve your family. In each instance, means of serving one another will differ, but your weakness should be covered by their strengths, their weaknesses by your strengths. You are worthy of someone who will wash your feet and sacrifice for you. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will see your needs and strive to meet them. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who will see your needs and strive to meet them.

You are worthy of someone who values purity. You are worthy of someone who values you as a human before they value you as means of pleasure. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who will chase you for your heart and personality rather than your body. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will support you in moments of temptation and encourage you to be accountable. (excuse the stereotypes here if you are offended in any way, because I know it goes both ways)

You are worthy of someone who refuses to see dating or marriage as answer. You are worthy of someone who doesn’t see dating or marriage as a means to happiness. You are worthy of someone who finds joy in the Lord and values you as a brother or sister in Christ. Men, you are worthy of a woman who doesn’t seek you to combat loneliness or unwholesome desires. Ladies, you are worth of a man who doesn’t seek you to fulfill motives of status or solely fulfill lustful thoughts.

You are worthy of someone who is willing to be the best parent they can be if it is what your hearts collectively desire. You are worthy of someone who is willing to sacrifice everything for their children. You are worthy of someone who will love your child, regardless of the gender, special needs, appearance, or abilities. You are worthy of someone who can work with you to create a practical parenting approach. You are worthy of someone who will value family. You are worthy of someone who will work hard for your family. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who will carefully throw your children in the air, carry them when they fall asleep in public, tickle and playfully wrestle them, evoke contagious giggles, and reprimand them kindly and appropriately. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will lovingly embrace your children, be patient with them, affirm their talents, nurture them, educate them, and encourage them to adopt admirable behaviors.

You are worthy of someone who is committed and diligent. You are worthy of someone who makes you a priority and makes an effort to uniquely love you. As humans, we tend to have five different love languages – words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. Each lend themselves in different ways in any relationship. However, as we are created uniquely, we value some over others. If you value words of affirmation, you are worthy of someone who will encourage you often and well. If you value physical touch, you are worthy of someone who will play with your hair and give you good hugs. If you value quality time, you are worthy of someone who will go the extra mile(s) to see you and simply “be” with you. If you value gifts, you are worthy of someone who takes time to find the right one for you; you are worthy of coming home to flowers or whatever your equivalent might be. If you value acts of service, you are worthy of someone who actively commits to serving in you in personalized ways, putting your needs above their own. You are worthy of someone who is committed to you because you are you. You are worthy of communication and having someone who will love you intentionally and personally. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will love you faithfully and individually. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who will love you faithfully and individually.

You are worthy of someone who can make you laugh; someone who has the ability to bring out the best side of you. Ladies, you are worthy of a man who has an endless of array of dad jokes and can make you smile on the longest days. Men, you are worthy of a woman who will learn your sense of humor and kindly poke fun with you.

People are kinda like burritos. Sometimes, we only look on the outside, but really, the inside is what matters the most. Above all, you are worthy of someone who loves God. I’m positive there are other vital qualities in relationships. These are all qualities you are worthy of, and as we expect these to be present, we must present them ourselves. No human is perfect, and neither are you. Of all these points, the first is the most important – find someone who loves God. Please. It changes everything. Remember you are still growing and changing as a person. You still have a life to live, and you’re going to learn things along the way. I encourage you to keep your standards high for both yourself and your significant other. Find someone who will willingly love all of you, and someone who you can have mutual trust with. Don’t simply love someone back or settle for them because they claim to love you. Honor God in your decisions.

Today’s appreciation post goes to someone who has proven to act as the calm in my storms. This is someone who continually points me to God; this someone who seeks God themselves. This is someone who has impacted my life in this past year; this is someone who is intelligent and musically gifted. This is someone who is generous; this is someone who serves often. This is someone who isn’t perfect and is willing to accept it. This is someone who makes me feel safe. This is someone who encourages me to remain in God; this is someone who makes me laugh. This is someone who validates my feelings; this is someone I trust. This is someone who won’t throw away his shot; this is someone who ain’t afraid of no ghost. Thank you for your patience, generosity, trust, and the happiness you bring me. That’s crazy.

xo.

“People are kinda like burritos..”

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.

Talk and Walk?

I’ve been taking a walk every single morning for the past three days. A walk with Jesus. Each day, I’ve written about each one, intending a separate post for each, but only now did I decide to compile them. I’m hesitant to do this, because there isn’t an overwhelming point. You’ll see. I was also really hesitant because I didn’t want any of the days to not be emphasized when they were all bunched together. They are all really unique, and I’d love for you to read them all. However, Saturday and Sunday were probably my favorites, so if you’re in a time crunch or just want to not read all 2,000 words, just scroll down a bit. Much love.

thursday, 9/22

Do you ever go to meet with God, expecting Him to do something profound, and instead, He does something really simple? Or maybe He points out something you didn’t want to hear? Leads you somewhere you didn’t want to go? Creates an opportunity you don’t want to enter into? How many times do we expect God to do something amazing without wanting to give up our time, values, ideas? And stepping back, God’s idea seems really cool, pure, good, instructive. Because it’s who He is. But yet, your distractions and focuses heavily intervene.

I left with the intention of looking at the lake, taking a few artsy photos, talking to God as I walked, and returning in time for my 10:05 class. I did all of those things. The lake was gorgeous as always, but today, it was unable to be differentiated from the sky as many clouds covered the expanse over the water. Both the clouds and the water were together, and the outlines of the clouds glowed against the green land. It was also drizzling just in the slightest, and the air had a humid, fresh smell. Yellow and purple flowers presented themselves against the green and yellowing grasses and plants. Scenic. As I walked down a steep path to the lake front, birds and monarch butterflies covered the sides of the path. These birds didn’t move or fly away as I approached them, but instead, they aggressively plucked worms from the ground and walked through puddles.

As I finished going down the hill and transitioned to a path leading to a beach area, flies took the birds’ place. These flies surrounded me, landed on my jacket, my shoes, my hair, my hands. I want to pause to absolutely promise you I had taken a shower the night before and my clothes were freshly washed and dried just a few days prior. They were quite annoying, capturing my attention and essentially ruining the view. I became so caught up in swatting them or flipping them out of my hair. I was walking on this path right next to the rocks, venturing towards the beach area. Just prior to the beach area, there is a cross, made of two washed up logs, tied together with twine. It’s not perfect, the wood has defects and rests slightly slanted. But it stands. I went down with the intention of sitting there and praying, but I became incredibly reluctant after the flies seemed to follow me. So I took a photo, and walked back up to my dorm.

It’s funny isn’t it, how God works in ways so simple, but yet so clear and so personable. I knew exactly what God has trying to get me to notice through the abundance of flies. So many things capture my attention and prevent me from fulfilling my purpose. I think it’s harder for me to be in absolute awe of the close and intimate intervention occurring, just because I’m not prepared to give up things.  I consider myself to put people as a priority in my life over sleep, work, my needs, and lately, time with God. Even as I was walking down to the lake front, I was sending photos of the campus to friends. The first thing I did when I woke up this morning? Reply to everyone, everyone back home. Everyone I love. Everyone who I feel is deserving of my time. The thing I didn’t do when I first woke up? Read my Bible, pray, have quiet time.

My focus is placed in so many people and responsibilities, and I’ve realized I haven’t been making enough time for God. People especially have been taking a large amount of my time, and I’ve definitely deepened so many relationships, but most have been back home. I love people. I really do. I love people back home, my springhill fam, the roommates, and so many others. I love to love, love to learn, love to grow, love to know. People are really awesome. However, I’ve realized my focus is pretty much completely centered on my pals back in the 847, and it has really prevented me from fully submerging myself into the college life. It’s disrupted studying, bonding, sleeping, basically everyday activity. I’ve realized I need to be really intentional here at college if I want the same community here. If I want college to feel like home and to really grow in Christ, I need to limit my time talking through screens and focus on the actual humans around me. I need to devote morning time to devotionals instead of opening ten second snaps and responding to unread messages. I can be giving all of my time to growing in Jesus and loving the people I get to be with for only four years. You’re only in college once (hopefully?), and I really want to make the most of it. I want to look back on this first semester and remember a transformation occurring around October. I really do.

Tonight, a pal of mine came back and immediately wanted to tell me how God moved in her late night walk. I absolutely love how personable, individualized, and simple God can be. We walked down the same path, looked out at the same lake, and spoke to the same God. However, my story is one of an almost unwanted revelation, and hers was more of a night filled with God’s joy and presence. Both were things we needed, and additionally, they both included elements of the sky. For me, the fog engulfing the hills reminded me of how attainable God’s presence can be. For her, she shared how the clouds seemed to part at just the right angle, allowing her to see the stars clearly. Her sky depicted majesty, divine timing, and clarity. For her, clouds were a barrier; my clouds were a comfort. God is really cool. Like really really cool. Here’s a photo from today.

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friday, 9/23

I went on another walk today. This time, I made it down to the lake and sat on the rocks in front of the cross. I passed a few runners on my way down, and a student sitting in the grass, alone. Today, the sky was a soft blue and was littered with clouds. No flies. No birds. Just peace. The waters were calm. I sat on a rock directly in front of the cross, and I looked around for just a little while. Peace. I put on the song Good, Good Father, and I just sat in God’s presence and tried to focus completely on Him. It was funny, though; at one point, I noticed the boy sitting in the grass could see me. One of the first thoughts I had was what does he think of me? I kid you not, immediately, a fly flew in front of my head and into the area beyond. I don’t think God could be any clearer. focus. focus on me. i’m right here. i’m right here waiting to meet with you. please, focus. 

And so I did. I pulled out my bible app, and I continued in the psalms. I read psalm 50, highlighted a few verses I enjoyed, and moved on. Psalm 51 overwhelmed me completely. I read it out loud, as a prayer, and I don’t even know if I can describe how God rocked my world in the moment (ps go read it). After, I felt warm inside. I had a new purpose. I felt redeemed. As I sit here and type today, my “redeemed” bracelet rests on my left wrist. It’s not uncomfortable. It’s where it belongs. It reminds me I belong. It reminds me of how God has prevailed these past few months. God is so so so so good. Redeemed. New, complete. My joy is found in Him. My purpose is in Him alone. My iniquities are overseen, and He sees me as broken as I am. Me, someone who is unworthy of His love. I don’t really know how to explain it besides acknowledging a surrender to Him. It was like a burden was lifted from me. Clean. I gave Him permission to take it, and take it He did. I looked at the cross, the waves, the little clouds in the sky. I felt new. I felt pure. I felt humbled in my father’s presence. It’s almost like my mind and heart were transformed in the moment. By no means am I perfect or anywhere near even mediocre. However, I’ve decided making time for Jesus, resting in his daily sufficient grace, relying on Him for joy, and bringing my burdens to Him are all things I need to do. I’ve learned new life is attainable. I’ve learned redemption comes with surrender. I’ve learned authenticity and simplicity coincide to create something beautiful. Redemption is acceptance of the grace awaiting you. I can’t articulate all of it, but it is truly beautiful. New life is beautiful.

As I walked back up the path, I approached the boy sitting in the grass. I wasn’t going to, but I felt prompted to at least ask if he was doing okay. So I did. He told me he was just praying, and as I walked away, I began to wonder just how many people have looked out over the bluff and contemplated suicide. The rocks, the crashing waves, it’d be so easy. I wondered if he was. I just kinda stopped, and I prayed for God to bring meaning into his life. Maybe I’ll see him again, maybe I won’t. But it was a thought. Here’s a photo from today’s walk.

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saturday, 9/24

This morning, I woke up two hours before my alarm, with a sense of urgency on my heart. Go to the rocks. It was all I could hear and think about. I threw on a sweatshirt, put my hair in a pony tail and went on my way. It was only then I wondered why? why would I need to go to the rocks? I talked about the boy sitting in the grass on my last walk. maybe he was considering ending his life? maybe there was a runner, standing near the cross again? maybe I needed to pray for someone? I walked down the usual trail and looked around to see if anyone was near the edge. A few people were running, but they were all running together, laughing and talking. The boy wasn’t sitting there. No one was there.

So I sat at the cross. My heart was heavy last night after reading about everything in the world, as you maybe read. I had read some psalms before I went to bed last night/this morning(?), so I was on psalm 55 and 56 for today. At first, I read them through and then reread different verses which really stuck out to me. I read psalm 55 again, and yet again, God blew my mind. It was yet another prayer. It applied to me, right now, right here, even though David wrote this many, many years ago. You should go read it, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t. Basically, David calls out to the Lord and describes his heart as anguished, his thoughts troubled, his being distraught. His enemies slaughter around him and go about causing chaos. He says he would fly away if he could; he begs God to carry out immediate justice by ending the lives of his enemies. Finally, he ends his chapter with the words But as for me, I trust in you. I sat in awe for just a little while and thought about what it truly means. Trusting means surrender of your fears and your desires. It means going into uncharted territory and living out God’s purpose for you. It means constant reliance and relentless seeking, but it also means following through and obeying. Trust is hard. But as for me, I trust in God. Those eight words gave me a strong feeling of joy and peace today. I’ve actually just had so much joy these last two days. God is good. So so good. There is no one, no place, and nothing in the world which is capable of bringing me this joy. It is overwhelming and overflowing, and I am content. I am redeemed. I have joy. But most of all, I have a God who loves me and never fails to amaze me. Guys. God is so good. Here’s a photo of the beautiful sky. God is so so good.

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Today’s appreciation post goes to someone who has listened to any and every part of the journey I’ve been on these last few weeks. To someone who takes time to write letters. To someone who serves with complete surrender. To someone who is honest, admirable, and kind. To someone who pursues God more than earthly things. To someone who inspires youth. To someone who isn’t afraid to speak in front of a gym full of adults or a room full of junior highers. To someone who thinks deeply and is sometimes willing to share those thoughts. To someone who directs me back to God in everything. To someone who used to wear a neon yellow shirt, which had both a smiley face and also the words “Smile, God loves you.” Thank you for your time and genuine support. You’re a star.

xo.

Talk and Walk?

Passive Anger.

I read the news some days, and then remember why I don’t. It makes me sick. Our world is filled with such destruction and self ambition. There is not love, compassion, peace, gentleness or patience. Instead, people with no value for life, with evil intent, with little respect for those around them carry out their intentions. It makes me angry.

Death makes me angry. It makes me angry how little regard some people have for the gift of life. Life is a gift, and you should appreciate your own while celebrating and respecting others’. Today, multiple people were killed in a shopping center. Last week, yet another man was killed by a police officer. A few weeks ago, yet another police officer was killed by a man. We have no regard for life, and this destruction especially makes me sick. So many people have so much potential. So many people did nothing to provoke. So many people are just going about their every day life. Unexpected, unjustified, and completely unnecessary. Life has value. People matter.

Assault makes me angry. Brock Turner, who violently assaulted some woman behind a dumpster, is just one of many who have engaged in such acts. People live in fear, walking to their cars, taking the train, even going for a run. After such an episode, trust is usually completely destroyed. It’s not fair. It’s reckless, unnecessary, and absolutely disrespectful. People matter.

Racism and discrimination make me angry. I read something today where it talked about how many say “All Lives Matter” but then neglect certain stereotypes such as Syrian Refugees, LGBT members, those on food stamps, and those who believe in different religions. I’m not here to say I’m completely unbiased. I’m not. As a whole, our society has adapted this mindset. Sometimes, it’s extremely hard to see past a person’s sin and genuinely love them regardless. Other times, it’s hard to see past a person’s circumstances and take them in with authentic compassion. Life does matter. People matter.

I sit, angry at all these subjects of discussion. Our world has turned to chaos, and fear abounds. I’m additionally angry at myself for not doing anything. I’m angry at myself for living in fear. I’m angry at myself for following society’s mindset. I’m angry at my lack of love. I’m angry at my lack of urgency. Our world needs Jesus. It needs hope and a savior. It needs a purpose for life, a common belief, a passionate fire. Our world needs Jesus.

Where do you even start to be a light in such a world like this? How do you go about loving and relationally connecting with those who only aim to kill you? How do you see every person as a soul who needs Jesus just as much as you do? How do you realistically get up off the couch and live?

We have this hope, as an anchor for our souls, and that’s about the only answer I have for you. Pray for God to allow you to see specific ways in which you can serve and change your own community. Pray for trust and strength. Pray for your fears to be abolished. Pray for change only God can do. Pray for our broken world.

As all of this occurs, there is nothing my soul longs for more than Jesus. I cannot wait for peace, for restoration and redemption, for Heaven. My soul longs. My soul awaits this beautiful new life. It awaits joy and beauty. It awaits my savior, my refuge. There is nothing I want more than to run into His arms and experience His goodness. I long for Jesus amid all the yuck of the world. He is my hope, and the only hope in times like these. Oh, how my soul longs.

xo.

Passive Anger.