A New Season

I’ve spent this last week in Harrisonburg doing some orientation things before I head back to Fairfax for my nursing capstone. While going through some of my belongings I found a journal from 2 summers ago.

The summer of 2014 was very different than the summer of 2016. I was hurting, depressed, confused, discouraged, and burdened. I was still still shell shocked about my rejection from nursing and struggled to hope I would get into the program on my second try.

To me it felt like my whole world was ripped apart. My plans for the future were unknown. Few things brought me comfort in that time. I remember reading Job (classic thing to read when you’re suffering, I know) and it brought me some slim piece of comfort knowing that Job had EVERYTHING ripped away from him for a time, but then God brought restoration above and beyond what Job had ever had before.

But I had to wonder about what would’ve been written if Job had 43 chapters. “Sure at the end of the trial he got back more than he initially lost – he was blessed beyond belief. But yet that doesn’t erase the pain of losing everything, or the depression and despair and feeling like God turned his back on them; It cannot erase the fact that his children were gone. Did he find joy in his new life? Was he able to love again? Able to forgive his friends? Able to move on beyond that?”

Those questions went unresolved (and they are still unresolved)…but for me, in my case, the answer is yes.

I did get into that second round of nursing school. I started doing super well in school. I made friends with other nursing students. I loved what I was studying. I found purpose in studying. My mood started to improve when I started a new med (#14). I got into the nursing honor society. [I struggled with my roommate].  I started Crossfit and found I could stop counseling because of it. I got an externship at Children’s National Medical Center. I’m nearly done with school and have a bright future with fewer unknowns than the average undergrad student.

I am finding joy. I am finding beauty in my situation and have seen so much good come out of being 1 semester behind.

Does it make that initial rejection hurt less? No. Does it make everything all better? No. Does it make me more thankful? Yes. Does it suck less now?  Yes.

IT.WILL.GET.BETTER.

I am inclined to think that Job did find joy in his new life. Nothing in his new life could replace his old, but I think he did eventually find joy.

Psalm 27:13-14 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

 

It stopped raining

I’m still in school at JMU and recently we encountered lots and lots of rain. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Bv5mxlyzE). It rained for a solid week without pausing. And then suddenly one day it stopped raining. I didn’t even notice.

I was talking to some friends a few days later and they expressed how much happier they were now that the sun was out. Not only did I agree with what they were saying, I realized it was that much truer for me.

You see, in my life it had rained for the last 2 years. A deep depression overcame me – a second time. It rained for nearly 2 years. There were a few days where I saw the sun, but not nearly enough. I felt like I was drowning in the rain called depression. For two years I found myself struggling to fight to breathe – so much so that I was put on a stimulant so I could muster enough energy to pull myself out of bed so I could study so that my grades didn’t plummet and so repeat the cycle. But that couldn’t stop the rain.

The rain started to pour when I didn’t get into the nursing program the first time, and barely let up for me to celebrate my getting in my second try. It continued to rain as I started the program and life started to make more sense. It rained through two incredible summers filled with hiking and canoeing – both activities that I love.

The worst part about the rain is that it separates me from God. I can’t feel him when it rains. I know he’s there and I know his love for me remains the same, but when I pick up the bible and begin to read it’s no different from a textbook. When I close my eyes to pray It feels like the rain is pounding so hard against the window that God can’t hear me. And I find myself missing him. Missing the ability to lose myself during worship at church.

But then at the end of this summer I tried a new medication (the 7th attempt to stop the rain) and the clouds parted and the rain stopped. I found myself with energy I forgot I ever had. I lost myself in worship. I laughed with abandon. I folded up my umbrella and peeled off my rain boots because it stopped raining.

So now I resolve to be thankful for the absence of rain. I refuse to take this season of life for granted. I know that rain may very well come again (or maybe not), but I am choosing to live aside from that.

Genesis 8:1-2 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.”

Renewed Day by Day

To be honest, I’ve been struggling. I’ve been struggling to find a way to say “I got into the second round of the nursing program and will start clinicals in a little more than a month”
I’ve been struggling to come up with adequate words to describe God’s faithfulness in providing me a camp job that he clearly went ahead of me to create.
I’m struggling to find words to report how I grew in that experience I leading 9 15-year-old girls along 63 miles of the Potomac river and 75 on the Appalachian trail (it was both awful and better than I would’ve ever dreamed at the same time).
I’m also struggling internally. The initial rejection from the nursing program really set me back – beyond what a later acceptance could fix. And for someone who is already prone to depression it was exactly what I needed to trigger a depressive episode – a bad and long-term one. I hesitate to call it a relapse, because this is so different from it ever was before. It’s not the utterly hopeless kind, but rather the kind that paralyzes you for long periods of time that you know better than to sit in your bed unless you plan to stay for a few hours. It’s the kind that causes you to order delivery pizza when the pizza place is 3 blocks down the road because you cannot fathom walking into your kitchen trying to find something to make that you’re willing to eat. It’s the kind that gives you tunnel vision so that you don’t even realizing that you are ignoring your best friends because you’re just trying to survive. It’s the kind that drains me of all energy and by the time homework gets done I have nothing left to give.
And it is hard. It started last spring, and while the summer seemed like a break from it, I’ve come to realize that I poured all my energy into denying the reality of depression in my life. It was by the grace of God that I was functional 95% of the time. Of course the second I stepped back in Harrisonburg I no longer had the energy to fight the depressive state – I no longer had a purpose to fight it. Camp gave me purpose outside of myself and that seems that depression can make you pretty dang self-absorbed.

But this time it’s different. I am actually seeking help. I’m seeing a counselor. I’m changing medication around. I’m going to group therapy. I’m eating healthy. I try to get enough sleep. I do everything physically possible to give myself the best chance of feeling okay. And yet it is not enough – not yet anyway. Darkness is a real thing now and it can drape itself over my life-like a wet wool blanket any time it chooses and I better hope that I don’t have anything important that needs to be done because it won’t be.
I know that this isn’t forever, but that doesn’t keep me from crying out to God “How much longer?:, “Why is this my cross to bear”, and “I need you”. To be honest sometimes it feels like my prayers aren’t heard. I know they are heard and cared about, but I’m not seeing the quick fix that I think I want.
This summer I started praying that I would be able to come off my medication soon after all, I’ve been on them for 5 years at this point. It’s frustrating that and not coming off I’m just going to some new stuff. This is medication number 13. It’s potential side effects are pretty nasty (nausea/vomiting, weight gain, and hair loss – all of which I’ve either experienced before or am already prone to), but I’m running out of options at this point. I try to find the humor in it though – we’re treating my depression as though it is bipolar by using anti-convulsion medications off label – well actually I’m taking an antidepressant, 2 anti-convulsion, 1 stimulant, and a sleeping medication.

Today things are better, but I refuse to take that for granted. And so I press on holding tightly to verses like 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Continuing to Wait

Isaiah 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Praise the good Lord that this is trustworthy and true and that I can hold on to this for dear life!

Image

My stomach lurched when I read this for the first time. I’m not very good at facing rejection (is anyone?). And unfortunately any form of “resilience” I may seem to have is just me hoping not to cry AGAIN.

I’ve spent significant amounts of time not just crying, but actually weeping until I find myself collapsed on my bed, on the floor of my kitchen, or on the sofa.

I try not to think about the significance of this one email and how it changes my future. This one email means my parents will be spending at least another $9,000 on my education. It means I can’t be an AO! counselor this summer (something I’ve dreamed about doing for years) because I have to take a maymester class (and get an A in it). It means that I won’t graduate with my friends in May 2016 like I was supposed to. It means I can’t disciple someone this semester because I have to get all A’s (including physiology). It means I will be spending December 2016 studying for the nclex (provided I get in to the program next semester) instead of enjoying Christmas with my family.

People have told me it’s just a speed bump, but as my friend (and former co-counselor) Emily said as she lamented with me: It’s one of those speed bumps that pops your tires and TOTALS YOUR CAR.

I know that I know that I know that this isn’t the end of the world. I know that I will have other summers and other semesters to disciple someone and other friends to graduate with and other Christmases that I won’t be studying. I know that there are 45 other students out there who were qualified for the nursing program that also got rejected. That’s what happens when 135 people apply for 90 spots. But that doesn’t change how much it hurts.

Knowing all those things can’t keep me from looking back and thinking “was there anything else I could’ve done?”, “I could’ve spent longer studying for that exam”, “I was on the verge of an A in those classes, why didn’t I try harder”, “I should’ve given up my social life sooner”. Would have, could have, should have. But I didn’t. And that sucks.

So now I have to sit and hope and pray that things begin to resolve: That I find something meaningful to do with the rest of my summer when maymester ends; That I don’t allow my depression to take advantage of the situation; That there is a hope and purpose for all of this present pain (Romans 8:18); That I own my decision to continue with nursing, or put that on the shelf for the next few years and pursue a Health Sciences degree.

And the irony of the situation: the day before I found out about the nursing program I had made a prayer/art journal thing that said “may my idols fail me”. I don’t think one of my prayers has been answered so completely as that one just was.

And so, I leave with a quote that came from TWLOHA: “Surround yourself with good people and keep breathing”. That’s the plan. Surround myself with good people, cry out to God, and keep studying as though my life depended on it.

The Waiting Game: Why I want to be a nurse

The Waiting Game [ and why I want to be a nurse]

For those of you who know me from JMU may be aware that the nursing department has decided to tell people of their acceptance into the nursing program in waves. For everyone else: I was told that I would find out whether I got into the nursing program on February 15th. However, on the 24th of January a number of people received a notification that they were accepted into the nursing program, and the rest of us heard nothing (in other words most of us are still waiting to hear if we were accepted or not while a select few found out on Monday). I don’t really know the politics behind their methods, but I do know that it’s pretty dang stressful to log into Facebook and see that another friend has found out they’ve been accepted to the nursing program while I continue to wait.

So in the mean time I’ve decided to dig deep and share with you something that very few people know about me: why I want to be a nurse.

When most people ask, I find a short answer because the real reason is far more complex than “I just want to help people”.

As many of you know (and if you don’t just look back to older posts) I attempted suicide my sophomore year of high school. I found myself in a deep dark depression plagued with anorexia, self-injury and eventually suicidal thoughts. I pleaded with God over and over to take the unexplainable pain away but he didn’t. My family did everything they were supposed to do: They loved me immensely, they fed me, they took me to the doctor, dietitian and therapist. When therapy wasn’t enough they brought me to a psychiatrist in hopes of finding a medication that might ease my darkness and pain. But in the end no one can save you from yourself. On May 9th, 2010 I attempted suicide. A long chain of events happened which led me to go to the emergency room and then to another hospital that could take care of me better.

In that hospital while my body was recovering from my suicide attempt, I had to be watched around the clock by nurses (we called them sitters). I had many sitters throughout my 48 hour stay. One in particular stood out to me.I have no idea what her name was, but I do remember the words she said and what they meant to me.

She was the one sitting in my room as I woke up. It was around 7:30am. She must’ve had her coffee because she was so cheerful and I’m pretty sure she didn’t stop talking the entire time she was in there. She took the time to look me in the eyes and say the most encouraging things to me: she said with full confidence that I was alive for a reason; that there was a reason why my suicide attempt didn’t work; that life would get better; she told me not to worry about what the kids at school might say when they found out what happened; she even told me that the cops weren’t going to come and question me even though suicide is technically illegal. She brought so much hope to me that day despite the fact that she wasn’t there for more than an hour.
She left a sense of hope in the room. Ironically enough that day is one that I will cherish for a long time. By far it wasn’t the best day of my life, but it was one of the more meaningful ones. Throughout the day my closest friends came to be with me. We just talked like it was any other day, but this day was so much different because the entire time they were there they just loved on me. I was able to tangibly see that I was LOVED, and that was huge.
I still had a long long road of healing ahead of me, but perhaps for the first time I realized that it was possible to get better. That rescue was possible. That there was hope. That this was not the end of my story. That day in the hospital gave me so much hope for the next 16 days that I would spend in a nearby mental hospital where I wasn’t allowed to see friends.
That day, May 10th 2010, Jesus used that nurse to give me hope for the days ahead.
And so, that is why I want to be a nurse: to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ by doing anything I can to bring comfort, hope, and healing to anyone I come across in my profession.
Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Summer’s Best 2.5 Months

Here is what happened this summer in numbers:

I lived in 3 different cabins

Over the course of 8 weeks (plus 2 weeks training)

With 4 different co-counselors

And 41 different girls

I woke them up 40 mornings

Made sure they were on time to 36 morning exercises

Ate 132 meals

Watched 12 summer life nights

Instructed 24 days of swimming and competitions

Cheered them on at 18 meets

Timed their 32 showers

And sang at 44 dining hall singings that needed to be over after 1 song, but went on for 3 more, with 19 “down-in-my-heart”‘s

I had the privilege of going through Casparis cave 5 times, and rafting one time, camping at Camp Carmel 6 times.

And those are just the numbers

***************************************************************************

I worked 4 terms, which was 4 2-week sessions with 9-11 girls each time (averaging 10.25) in my cabin, along with one co-counselor.

Let me tell you, I loved those girls. I was on my knees for them on daily basis. I poured out every ounce of energy inside of me, and when I came up empty (read: 10 o’clock in the morning some days), God was more than enough for me. And along the way I managed to have a blast as I occasionally pretended to be a cave man, Mr. Beaver (from Narnia), and a camp counselor (Just kidding, that was real life). I also did some side things, like stuff a brownie in a girl’s mouth, pushed kids into the pool, and danced around in the morning to wake them up and so much more.

I learned so much about life while I was there. The first thing that comes to mind is marriage. Go figure that at a summer camp I learned about marriage. But it makes a lot of sense, I spent 2 weeks with 10 or so kids, with another (girl) counselor. We were the ones who were responsible for their wellbeing the majority of the time. I lived along one other person, and we had to be consistent about everything, and really sensitive about how to love and support them, and each other. I learned when we had really difficult kids how important it is to invest in our relationship as “parents” , because when it’s all about the kids, we get exhausted and stressed and at the end of the day, when they all leave, there isn’t a relationship to show for the fact that we just spent 2 weeks doing life together.

I learned a lot about God too. I got to see a glimpse of what he sees. I saw kids blatantly ignore what we were saying and the rules we had set for them. I realized that I do the same thing to God. He tells me to do things, and I flat-out ignore him. As I continued to vigorously dive into the bible, I came to the realization that every single law that God set for us is solely for our protection – so that we could live life to the full. And those were the rules we set for the kids: don’t throw rocks, wear shoes, eat your vegetables etc, so that they would avoid the possible consequences: concussions, splinters, and constipation.

I learned what it means to do something whole heartedly. It is so easy for me to try to do something, but give up before I’ve fully exerted myself so that if I fail, I have the comfort of knowing that I could’ve tried harder, and wasn’t actually a failure. I started the summer with that attitude, and it sucked. When we were getting trained for high adventure (rock climbing, repelling etc.), we had to do the activities so we could practice on each other. I think I made it 2 steps up the tall rock wall (it’s a difficult wall), and then I gave up because I didn’t feel like failing. As time at camp went on, I saw what it looked like to try your hardest and fail, and become a better person because of it (maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time refereeing the 3rd/4th grade girls competitions, and repeatedly telling them to put their all into whatever activity they were doing). Mid summer, on the day between terms, I decided to try it again, and I decided I was going to put my all into it, because that is when God is most glorified. And I did. And I got almost half way up. I was so proud of myself in that moment, to see that kind of progress. But I didn’t stop it there. During the last term, when no kids were at the rock wall, I got another counselor to belay me. And I freaking climbed all the way to the top. It was so glorious! To see how God had really changed my heart about what it means to glorify him in my everyday actions, but then how strong I got over the summer was pretty sweet!

And at the end of the day, my summer was about grace. It was only by the grace of God that I am alive, that I was accepted to be a counselor, that God would satisfy this desire of my heart (I’ve wanted to do this since I was in 3rd grade). It is by grace the many times I was able to share the gospel with middle school girls, and to live it out every.single.day. It is by grace that God would even consider using the words from my unclean mouth to speak truth into their lives. It is by grace that God provided 4 co-counselors that really got me, and were so easy to work with. It is by the grace of God that I got to live in the woods in community. It is by his grace that I spent time in his creation, stargazing every night, caving, camping, hiking, and swimming in various bodies of water.

I’ve realized that this is probably way longer than it needs to be, but it does not contain nearly as many things as I wish I could share. I guess the moral of the story is that you can’t put 2.5 months into words, and God is good.

Nice and sappy, but straight from the heart

3 years ago
Today, I gave my mother the worst Mother’s Day present in the universe. My sick mind thought it was a present, not having to deal with me anymore.
On Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010, I attempted suicide
Note the word ‘attempted’. It didn’t work. Turns out there was a whole lot more life to be had. I just had to stick through it to get to the better parts.

I have always felt so very deeply loved by my mother. But on that particular day, I felt especially loved by her. When I finally fessed up that I needed serious help, she just turned instinctively into a mother bear, protecting her helpless cub in imminent danger. She roared with a fury that was fueled by love, as she yelled at me to get in the car.
And in the midst of the early treatment in the emergency room, she crawled into my hospital bed where we both cried as neither of us knew what the outcome might be.
Sometimes that’s what you need more than anything else: to just cry with your mom. Granted the situation was a little extreme, and this particular memory isn’t one of my go to moments, but it is powerful none the less.
I may have gone through hell, but my mom walked down there with me. She took me to every single therapy appointment and paid for it out of pocket. $100 a pop. To the nutritionist, psychiatrist and dermatologist. It was a feat if we made i more than a month without some kind of appointment. She waited with me every single time at the fairfax family health center pharmacy (that right there is true love). She did everything she could shy of going through it all for me.
And then she was willing to let go. She let me drive, and get my license despite how scary that may have seemed (she didn’t show it). She let me go to camp, and then back to the school that couldn’t help but fuel my feelings of inadequacy (when she would’ve loved to homeschool me again, to keep me safe).
She helped me fight the system, to get me extra testing time because my medication messed me up so much. She sat there every so often with the Spanish flash cards, helping me to pass my hardest class.
When I blocked her out from everything in my life, she was still there telling me it was time for dinner, that i had to eat it because i told her i would, and I needed to eat with the family.
This is why I love my mom.

*

Last night (or perhaps very early this morning is more appropriate) I heard of some tragic news. Rick Warren’s son recently committed suicide. I cannot begin to imagine the pain that their family is going through, but let me offer up what I do know:

When battling depression, it brings you to this place that is unimaginable by anyone who has never been there. It brings you to a place of deep deep darkness. You know that so many things are broken inside of you, and you don’t know why, or how, or if there is any possibility for your broken places to be made whole again. Nothing seems worthwhile. You are tormented day and night, wondering why all of this invisible pain exists inside of your own head. You get frustrated because no one can help you. No one can save you from yourself. At this point, the thought of eternal damnation sounds far better than living through this dark pain.

When it gets bad, apathy becomes so dense around your life. You don’t care anymore. You cry and pray that God will take your life away. And every morning you wake up in the realization that you have to deal with all of it again. And it sucks.

And then you find yourself in a place where you feel like you have no other option. You no longer have the energy to survive. You hate the thought of dying, but you can’t imagine living any longer.

It starts off slow; you try to just stop breathing. You sit. You contemplate. You evaluate if you could ever move on from this moment. Will there ever be more life than this? Will I ever move beyond this?

But that’s not enough. You have to do something. Anything. Out of complete desperation. But then, when it is seemingly too late, you wish you could take it all back. You are so aware that you don’t want to die. You’ll do anything to keep living. If God will just give you one more chance.

In 2010, in the United States alone, this exact scenario took place every 32 seconds. Unfortunately, it was successful every 13.7 minutes. This adds up to 959,100 attempts, and 38,364 deaths in one year. It is estimated that on average at least 6 people are intimately affected by each person’s suicide/suicide attempt. This means that every day, around 630 people have to face the effects of suicide. It is the 10th highest cause of death overall, and the 3rd leading cause of death for those under 24. Based on the data of 2010, it is estimated that more than 1,107,144 years of potential life are lost collectively (assuming the average lifespan is 75).

People! We need to wake up to the fact that suicide is all around us! It is estimated that 1 in 54 people have been affected by suicide! WHY DO WE TREAT THIS SUBJECT WITH SUCH TABOO?

This problem is REAL! We are so quick to get people chemotherapy, cholesterol medication, insulin, and antibiotics when they need them. WHY DO WE NOT TREAT PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES IN THE SAME WAY? Do you tell someone with cancer that they need to refuse treatment and pray more? Do you tell someone with a broken leg to put a Band-Aid on it and keep walking? ABSOLUTELY NOT! You pray for them, sure. BUT THEN YOU DO SOMETHING.

You give them support. You make meals for them. You take care of their kids. Anything so that they can get the help they need! We are called as Christians to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but yet somehow are the worst offenders regarding mental illness.

As James so eloquently states it “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)

Information comes from:

http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

http://www.suicidology.org

http://www.twloha.com

My own experiences.

**************
The things I wrote are only a reflection on things I’ve felt in the PAST.

    Today (meaning the last several years)

I am alive, well, and completely stable thanks to my Jesus.

***************

On Fasting

A lot has happened since my last post. Mostly good. Over spring break I went with cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) to Panama City, FL to share Jesus with people partying on the beach. It was a crazy cool experience, and I loved the conversations that I had where I was able to share my brokenness, but also the redeeming nature of God, and the incredible ways that he has literately redeemed my life from death.

I could write a lot more about that (and maybe I will later), but that is really just to serve as a segway for the subject of fasting.

As a former anorexic, fasting has always been a difficult subject for me. To choose to not eat, or severely restrict what you’re eating is one thing, but another to keep focused on God, and not yourself while doing that.

On the 19 hour bus ride back from Big Break, I spent around 2 hours talking with 2 other really godly women (a cru intern, and another freshman). And the subject of spiritual discipline came up. All 3 of us came from Christian homes, so none of this is really new information.

Grace, the intern, being more experienced in these things showed us what it might look like for us to use spiritual disciplines in our own lives. The topic of fasting came up. Grace talked about how so much of it is trusting that God will sustain you not just mentally/emotionally/spiritually, but also physically. She told us about times in which she had been fasting, and didn’t have the energy to keep going, and in those moments she had to pray that God would be sufficient for her. It sounded so beautiful, and worthwhile. So I kind of put it on my “list” of things that I want to look into further, and it sort of sat there for a few weeks.

At my church, my pastor, and some of the elders have been fasting because we’ve been given the opportunity to buy the land that our building is on. Their fast is that we would get the money needed to make the down payment. And as a result, he’s talked a lot about fasting in his sermons these last few weeks.

Those are just some of the ways that God really got my brain moving in that direction.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I got some unfortunate news about the mental health of one of my really good friends. But it wasn’t passive. It was news that required action on my part, and I did what I could do on my end.

But for me, that wasn’t enough. I wanted to do more. So I decided that I would pray and fast for her. I went ahead and looked up different ways to fast, I do have some restrictions because of my meds, and living on campus.

My first action? Google “biblical fasting”, and what do you know, one of the first results was http://www.cru.org/howtofast

Since Sunday night (It’s Tuesday night as I write this), I’ve been fasting on a liquids/soups diet. The idea is that I’m giving up the satisfaction of crunchy/chewy things. It is probably one of the harder things I’ve done in my life, but by far one of the most satisfying.

I have found that I don’t have nearly enough time for all of the things that I want to pray for! When was the last time that happened? And as I sit, with my stomach occasionally grumbling, I’m reminded that God does sustain me in all things. My physical hunger has been replaced by a severe spiritual hunger to know and be in constant communion with God. It is so beautiful!

But it’s hard! There were a couple of times when I was about to let myself have a meltdown today, but then I had to stop myself and say “you’re feeling this way because you’re hungry, go have some juice, and know that God sustains you in all things”. What a good way to practice choosing to not let my emotions get out of control, and allow God to sustain them, and to keep me sane!

I’m going home for Easter, and so I am going to celebrate being with my family and the power of the one who died so that I could live. So I plan on breaking the fast some time on Thursday (maybe with Chick-Fil-A, it’s pre-blessed, right? hahaha, just kidding, I’ll probably eat a salad first). But I can be sure that I will be fasting more often.And hopefully this means really digging into the bible, and fearlessly running after God with a reckless abandonment.

Passionate

Last week I was a part of a movement so much bigger than myself. In fact, I was a part of a movement with more than 60,000 other college age adults(?). Coming back from it, I have found it difficult to express what it was like. Based on my insufficient words, people came to the conclusion that perhaps I was “underwhelmed”, or “disappointed”. But tonight someone said something that resonated with me. Passion was “overrated”.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong here. Passion is an incredible experience. There is nothing like it. And maybe it is even like a piece of heaven when you are surrounded by people wanting nothing more than to worship God.

And I’ll admit that it was pretty freaking awesome to be led in worship by Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Jesus Culture, and other well known Christian artists. But you know, maybe I realized that at the end of the day they are just people who are singing the same songs as we are. They didn’t write them to stand on stage like that with 60,000 people singing with them, they were written to God, and we come together as one unit to sing praises to our Jesus. And it was then that I realized that it didn’t matter who was “leading” worship – it shouldn’t ever matter because worship is something intended to be between us and our maker. And maybe it might have also even been a little distracting considering how redneck/caveman David Crowder looks.

 

It’s not like I’m better about the whole thing (okay so there were multiple times when I was self described as “grumpy” which can mean a lot of things, but give me a break, it took 12 hours to get there). God was not silent. God did not allow his voice to be drowned out by 59,999 other people in the Georgia Dome.

He revealed to me (I have no doubt that this would’ve happened wherever I was during that time frame) what this year should look like. He convicted me of all of my whining and complaining that I do ALL THE TIME. Lately I’ve noticed that I complain about EVERYTHING; I’m actually surprised that I have friends. But through that, God has really been pushing that I need to have Joy. So this year, 2013 is going to be the year of joy.

2008 was the year of change as I deticated my life to Jesus for real.

2009 was the year of beginnings, of firsts, of darkness, but also love.

2010 was the year of deep deep pain and darkness that seemed as though I was forever drowning in it. It was almost the very last year of my life.

2011 was a year of painful healing and figuring out how God had anything to do with the deep deep pain and darkness that I still fought with frequently.

2012 was a year of restoration. Of life and love. Learning to love God and run after him with everthing that’s inside of me. Learning to be independent but yet completely dependent.

2013 is going to be a year of Joy and ebenezers. Of beauty and reckless abandonment