Sunday, May 25, 2014

Deeper Healing

   My thoughts have really been quite the mess lately. In fact, my whole life is kind of a mess. I can't tell if I'm more sick physically or emotionally. I don't know if I'm really happy or really sad. Am I an optimist or a pessimist? So many things are going on in my life and God has been showing me so much and I've been trying to connect all the dots to see how it all makes sense but its not been working out so well. He has been speaking a lot; I've just been a really bad listener.

   So right now I've got a lot on my plate. Last week I was officially diagnosed with lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease where basically my immune system goes psycho and attacks my body. It had really been attacking my joints but there is also a slight concern over the effect it might be having on my kidneys. So please be praying for me for my health. Although I haven't had a really bad flare up since I was hospitalized! I'm on a few medications and I'm a little worried about their side effects but I've been alright thus far.

   Now, emotionally I've been very drained. I mean, I'm still happy...in a sad sort of way. It's quite complicated really. To start off, my best friend/ministry partner/other half is going away on a missions trip to Brazil for 6 months. She leaves in 10 days. And I am not ready at all. She runs Rise Above It Missions with me so with her being gone it raises so many problems for us; not to mention I'm just going to miss having my best friend around. Its all kind of been like a dream, her leaving. But today we had a going away party for her and it really hit me. I was really going to be without her for 6 freaking months. I know its going to be incredibly hard for me while she's away and I can feel the storm coming and I know the fear triggers will be relentless and I've been praying for spiritual ammunition to use in this battle. I'm afraid to have to fight alone, even though I know I won't be totally alone. I don't know what's going to happen with our ministry; we've been praying so hard and I know that God will bring us through this; because when He called us to take up this task, He knew about this time. But this is a war and wars are hard to fight.

   I've been praying for a few things but my main prayer has been for God to start teaching me things I'll need while Diana is away. You know, get some weapons ready for when the battle comes. There have been a lot of topics and a few of them have scared me. Because if I'm learning about it now, I'm going to have to fight it later. And if that's true, I've got a lot coming my way. I've learned about suffering, brokenness, and temptation. And for now, I want to focus on brokenness; because I learned something so valuable about that. It started over a month ago and has continued ever since then. I've been having a rough time emotionally these past few months. I was especially hurt by someone I care very much about and it broke me a little. I didn't realize it right away, but God showed me that I had really let that hurt get to me. Not just that hurt, but hurt from the past and the fear of the future started to define me. I threw myself a giant pity party. I was miserable. I didn't always act it, but I felt it. I stopped writing letters as often and complimenting people; I stopped looking for people to help or encourage, and I lost myself. I was so broken. I let myself become a shell. I was empty and broken and shattered.

   That was when someone visited our youth group. She was a representative from an organization called Youth With A Mission and she came, along with two others, to speak a bit for us. She said that she would be around after group to pray with anyone who needed it. I told myself I wanted to be prayed for and would go up to her afterwards. But as soon as group ended, she approached me. I was so surprised. I didn't know what I needed prayer for, but she did. Because she prayed exactly what I needed. She said God had shown her a vision of me. I was a strong, pure white, pillar. I carried a heavy burden, but I was so strong and beautiful. She said she knew there were times in my life where I had felt like a broken reed, tossed around by the wind, but God wanted to take my broken pieces and make me strong; like He renamed Peter from "broken reed" to "solid rock." That was when I realized that I had been going most of my life thinking I was broken. It was a crazy realization. I had always seen myself and a mess of a person; broken, frail, and weak. I was darkness. I was psycho. I was unknown. No one else saw this side of me, but I felt it constantly. I thought it was almost humbling. Because it was what I was. 

   There's a scene from Silver Linings Playbook that God really used to speak to me.during this time. In the movie, Pat called Tiffany a (pardon my language.) slut. And she ran over to him and spoke my favorite line. "I was a big slut, but I'm not anymore!" That single line hit me so hard. I had never had that mentality before. Yet this was what God wanted for me. I have no problem with thinking horribly of myself. I do it all the time. That was the part of the whole "getting saved" thing I had down to a science. I knew I needed a Savior because there is no way in heck I could ever do anything good. But I had been missing the main point: being born again. I was a mess of a person; but I'm not anymore. I had taken my identity as who I used to be and I stuck with it. But God wants so much more for me. He wants to remake me. He wants to take all the hurt and the brokenness and turn it into something beautiful. There is no such thing as broken beyond repair. That was when He started me on a treatment plan for emotional healing. I realized that all those things that used to have power over me were now defeated. I belong to Christ. Fear used to own me. But it doesn't anymore. I have been set free by Him so I don't need to wear those shackles anymore. I don't know why I was so set on keeping them.

   I've learned about suffering and brokenness, but I've also learned about healing and hope. I want to share more about hope next post I think; because God has really been repeating that word a lot. I want you guys to learn from this too. If you've been hurt, there is healing. You may see yourself as fragile and alone but I promise you, God sees you as so much more. You are strong and brave and sometimes you just need someone to remind you of that.

   "So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of this world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive adoption as sons."-Galatians 4:3-5

   You are a child of God. You have been redeemed. Those things that once controlled you are gone. Walk in that life. When you let sin and things of the world be a master over you, that is something you choose. Because Christ has set you free. He came that we may have life and have it in abundance. Yes, I was hurt. But I was not defeated. I can get back up and move on and be stronger because of it. "We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken." (Looking For Alaska.) God can heal anyone of anything. I am a firm believer in this. So whatever is holding you back from living in His fullness, pray it over and give it to God. My dear, you are not broken. A little chipped, maybe. But not broken. Let God heal you.

Monday, May 19, 2014

To The Young Girls

   Last night was my last night of youth group for the year. I'm going to be a senior next year and this frightens me very much. It was so hard praying for so many amazing people that graduated this year and just having so much nostalgia. It was an incredible night; very emotional, but it felt good. Of course my thoughts are still a train wreck that I'm trying to get back on track but once I figure those out some I'll be able to blog about some other things. 

   In the meantime I want to write an open letter to all the young girls out there. Looking back on my jr. high and early high school years I can see many areas where I could have used some improvement. And of course I have lists of things I wish I had known back then. So many lessons I'm just now learning, and I don't want other girls to have to waste so much time trying to figure these things out the hard way. Sure, they'll still have to go through trial and error, but maybe it'll be a little less painful and might save some time. I'm thinking of so many young girls at my church as I write this and I hope a good number of them will read this and I pray it helps in some area and offers some clarity. But even if you're not a young girl, feel free to read on anyway.

   Dear little girl,

   I say "little" because right now you're at a great time in your life where you might think you're practically growing grey hairs and I want to assure you that you're not as old as you think you are. I know I loved my jr. high years. That time holds some of the best memories I have. I know I used to think I was so old and on top of the world at your age. And that's perfectly okay. Enjoy this time and don't take everything so seriously. I mean, its just life. Let loose a bit. Don't be so uptight. Life is too short to spend it worrying about what other people think of you. This is a time where you can find out who you really are and who you want to be. Whether you're just starting jr. high or high school, this is your time. There will never be another time like this one. 

   Being a girl is hard stuff man. Let me tell you. There is peer pressure and trends and boys and cliques and then if you're a Christian girl there's the pressure to fit a certain mold and be a "good girl" and have all the answers in church and not be too different and the list goes on and on. I'm not gonna lie, one of the sucky things about this cool time in your life is that there will be gossip. Yep. Sorry. I can almost guarantee you will be in some sort of "He Said-She Said-They Said-I Said" mess at some point in your jr. high years. There is no real way to avoid this; but you can watch what you say and make sure you don't gossip about other people. You're not in charge of what people say about you, you're only in charge of what you say about others. My philosophy has always been to live in such a way that no one can say anything bad about you, and even if they were to lie or make something up, no one would believe it. Be that kind of person. Don't worry about what other people are doing or if they're doing whats right; simply be the best you that you can be. Cliche? Maybe. But true.

   Another thing you shouldn't worry about is friends. Who is cool and who isn't. Choose people who make you a better person. Another good tip is to look for people to lend a hand to. I promise that you will not regret helping someone. It might hurt at times; but God rewards faithful servants. So look for the kid who sits alone or the quiet ones. Look for ways to be a light! One thing I'm just learning now is to not make yourself the victim. You're gonna get hurt and feel knocked down but never wallow away in self pity. Live in joy! And when you live in joy you can spread that light and hope to others, and trust me, that is waaaaaaaaay better than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. I've been doing too much of that lately and please, learn this lesson before you're a junior in high school. It'll just save you so many tears. A comfort I've had in my life is being able to look back and see that many of the stressful and hard situations I went through can now be looked back and laughed upon. I mean that. It may look like a mountain now, but once you're on top of it you'll see that you're not even very far off the ground.

   Now here's a big topic.

   Boys.

   Yeah. I could write a whole blog series and still only touch the surface of this incredible broad discussion topic. There are so many things girls want to know about boys and the sad thing is, you can't know it all. I live with 5 of them and I still don't understand them. But again, this is okay. Boys are a mystery and we shouldn't stress too much about trying to understand them. Also, don't read too deep into their "signals" or whatever. Guys don't think too hard or read into as many things as we do. Try to keep it simple. One of the hardest things you can learn about this is to not care about whether or not a guy likes you. I'm totally serious. It's hard as heck. Because I still find myself wondering over if my crush likes me back and if he was staring at me or someone behind me or if that punch was flirty or him just being a guy. But when it comes down to it; it really doesn't matter. Unless someone tells you straight up that they have feelings for you, it's all a giant guessing game. And guessing games suck so don't play them. Instead, work on maintaining friendships with your awesome brothers in Christ! I didn't appreciate the godly guys God had given me when I was younger but recently I've come to realize how blessed I've been by them. I was lucky enough to have guys in my life who treated me like I was their sister and protected me and looked after me. If you're blessed enough to have those kind of boys in your life, don't take them for granted! Those guys are special and I would strongly advise against ruining friendships with them. Guys can be so much fun if you're not paranoid about whether or not they're flirting with you. 

   So chances are you're going to fall for a boy, and then there will probably be that girl who likes the same boy you do; and more likely than not, that other girl will be your friend, and maybe even your best friend. This will cause some serious problems. I can almost promise you that you're going to get mad at least once because someone is flirting with your crush. This is the source of basically all the drama that goes down in girl world. Just watch Mean Girls. You're probably going to cry a few nights because you think he's flirting back and it's going to feel like you have no future but you do. Whatever is meant to be, will be. You have to trust that God always has your best interests at heart. You just focus on your number 1 Guy and your relationship with Him. But never play mean or dirty and never treat a girl as less than a child of God because she is supposedly flirting with your man. Respect is key. We are called to love each other and God loves us. He loved us to the point of death on a cross; that's how we should treat others too. It's not easy. But it's worth it.

   Another thing to watch out for is self image. I know these are the years that insecurities can really start to take root. So now is the time to really dig into the Word and start to develop who you are in Christ and begin to stand firm in your identity in Him. You are beautiful no matter how people treat you and you are valuable and precious. See yourself as a treasure. This also means not giving yourself away to the first boy who says you look pretty. Guys are going to treat you well, but don't give your heart away so easily. You are a prize.

   I feel like I just listed a whole lot of "don't do this" and "don't do that's" so I want to wrap it up with some "do's." Do have fun and enjoy yourself. Be fun and crazy. Participate in the weird shaving cream fight at youth group even though trying to wash it out of your ears will take hours. Run and jump and be free! You are young and wild; so let yourself act as such. Don't be in such a rush to grow up. Be brave. Be insane. Do what you want to do. "This is your life. Are you who you want to be?" That is basically one of my favorite lyrics of all time. (Thank you Switchfoot.) That question is so important. This is your life. Be all you want to be. Be all God has called you to be. The key is to not care about what other people think or do or say, but to simply love others and love yourself and love God. The faster we can grasp the concept of loving others, the sooner we can let go of all the things that make life difficult.

   One final point I want to make will probably go against everything you've ever been told and anything you ever thought. I want to tell you to be excited to grow up. Don't be afraid of getting old. I believe that you need to find the perfect balance between not wanting to grow up and growing up too fast. It's just time. Don't let it dictate your life. I know too many people who spend too much time wishing things were the same as "back in the day" or wishing they were a bit older so they could do something. Don't overthink it. It' just time and it only has the power you give it. You can't change life's speed or the past or how many years you get; you can only choose what to do with that time. (A wise grey wizard taught me that lesson.) So don't fear the future or be upset over the past. Simply live life. 

   These are your years. You can choose to live them for yourself, for others, or for a higher calling. The choice is yours.

   I pray that God would give you the time of your life in these next few years. 

   Love Always,
   Princess Faith.

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Hospital Adventure

   I'M BACK HOME!!!

   In case you missed the announcement...I was taken to the hospital Thursday night and I just got back today! I've been having a ton of pain, fatigue, fever bursts, weakness, and swelling. Basically I was falling apart, and for a whole month I dealt with these symptoms. I went to the doctor and got blood work done and my doctor said that if my temperature ever got over 100 then I should go to the ER. Of course, on Thursday night it did. I had also been feeling dizzy that night. So we went in and sure enough, I was admitted. As for all the technical stuff, I had to have a CT scan, a chest X-Ray, 2 EKG's, an IV in my right arm, and over 20 vials of blood taken. This was my first overnight stay at a hospital and I ended up staying for four nights. I haven't gotten an official diagnosis but they're pretty sure its lupus. I'm on medicines to reduce the swelling and stiffness I've been having and so far it's been working. I've got more appointments scheduled so I can keep y'all updated on that.

   I loved the hospital actually. I got to stay in the Ronald McDonald house. I always thought I was a kid at heart, but now I'm sure of it. Just ask my mom about how my eyes lit up when I was taken onto the pediatric floor where they had colorful walls and my room was themed like a zoo. Or my friends can tell you about when they visited me and I showed them the playroom where we got to color pictures and the ceiling was painted like the sky. I'm sure my nurses thought I was crazy. I make funny noises and smile a lot and always ordered chocolate milk with every meal. But I was blessed with an incredible hospital staff. Everyone was so nice to me. One nurse took notice of the fact that my mom kept buying me Pepsi from the machine down the hall, so when she came back later she brought me two baby cans; and she continued to do so every night I was there. Another nurse went to get my mom coffee from the nurses station because they ran out in the room, and my mom had mentioned I only liked mine with creamer; something they didn't have...out in the public room. They had some back in the nurses station so she brought me a cup. But one of my favorite things was hearing a nurse pray over all the patients in the hospital via the intercom.

   Being in the hospital, I had a lot of time on my hands. I tweeted and posted on Facebook obsessively, watched way too much Say Yes To The Dress, read the entire book of Job (and 1 Peter and James.) read all of Looking For Alaska in one day, wrote an essay that I'll be posting on the RAIM site, wrote a chapter of a short story, and read half of The Two Towers. Also the list of movies I watched is as follows: Pretty In Pink, X-Men 2, The Princess Diaries 2, The Pirates Of The Caribbean 2, The Sandlot, and Wolverine. I didn't have access to a computer until this morning so I wasn't able to blog and I missed you guys; but I was active on the rest of my social medias.

   Basically that has been my life this week. I had some friends visit me and bring me things and draw pictures for me. Also my mom stayed with me the entire time and I am so thankful for that. Not once did we try to kill each other; it was actually a great bonding experience. I was able to hog her all to myself on Mother's Day which was fun.

   Now onto the deep spiritual things I learned/are learning. Because I can't go somewhere without it being a spiritual journey. I loved being there because it was so quiet. In a house full of 9 kids plus my "adopted sister" and her husband and child, we have a crazy hectic house. But here it was quiet. I was at rest; and I was able to hear from God. On Saturday night around midnight I cracked open my bible while my mom was asleep and was able to pray and ask God to show me what He wants me to learn. I have been praying all week for spiritual ammunition to use against the enemy come June. See, my best friend is going away for 6 months. My best friend and ministry partner. Running a ministry is hard; and its even harder doing it with someone who will be on the other side of the world. But this week I had an epiphany, which I'll blog about next time, and thus the praying began. And God was faithful and each time I prayed, no matter what specific thing I prayed for, He showed it to me. I prayed for something on fear, I opened my bible and bam! something on fear. I prayed for something on brokenness, I got it. And over my stay at the hospital I just asked for whatever He wanted me to hear.

   I ended up learning about suffering. I started reading Job for no apparent reason and it spoke to me a lot. Which is weird because I have read that book before and I didn't like it. Next to that I also read Looking For Alaska by John Green. I spent a good portion of my time this weekend thinking over questions from that book. And then God tied the themes from Job with the things in the book and then those things in with what I've been learning since last Sunday! So all these random pieces finally came together! Sorry that's really vague, but I want to save some things for the next post. This is mostly just updates and what not.

   Anyways, I'm half awake right now and my bed is calling me. (I've missed it so much.) I'm sorry if this post made no sense. I'll write on more specific thoughts later in the week. Thank you for everything! Also keep praying for me as I have more doctors appointments and I'm on meds which have side effects and all that fun stuff. Right now I'm really praying for a definite diagnosis and that the pain will stay away like it has been. I've really been feeling very loved this week and I've gotten so many encouraging messages and texts and they make me all teary eyed. So thank you all so so much. God is so good<3 p="">

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Accepting Silence

I've been being really hard on myself lately. I'm a perfectionist at heart and I hate it most of the time because if I'm not perfect, I beat myself up over it. I'm really good at saying one thing and doing another. I can tell everyone that being confident is beautiful and loving yourself is key; I also say that you don't have to be perfect, you don't have to fit the mold; and yet I have a habit of ignoring my own words. Of course, at the realization I could begin to beat myself up over it. So I get trapped in this tornado of trying to please everyone and also please my perfectionist self.

   Well, to say I've been under some stress would be an understatement. I am beyond blessed to be cured of my ITP. That was an incredible, supernatural healing. But my immune system is still acting up. My blood platelets have been perfect, but now my joints have been hurting to the point where I can barely walk; also I've been feeling sick and I've had a nonstop cold for going on 3-4 weeks. This on top of friend issues, ministry issues, school issues, church issues, and just plain Faith issues....it's a lot to bear. But today I want to talk about one area that has really been getting to me lately. That area is shyness.

   See, I am an introvert. 100%. I am shy and quiet and I stutter and my sentences turn out something like "How do I English?" I mean, I took the "Are You Actually An Introvert?" quiz on Buzzfeed and I got 80/83. Sure on the Internet I seem coolish and I can actually type in complete sentences and sometimes I even make sense! I write; it's what I do. People make me nervous. But when I write, everything comes out so much better. My hands know how to speak; my mouth does not. Another thing that complicates my introvert-ness is my love for public speaking. It's one of my biggest fears; yet when I think about the future, I see myself doing a heck load of it. I love it! I desire to go up on stage in front of mass amounts of people and speak on whatever. It's like I want to be terrified out of my mind. I'm also going to Warped Tour this summer. Guys, I can hardly walk through my little 200 person church without cringing. I'm actually crazy.

   I've always said I was a contradiction. I make no sense; not to myself, and not to anybody. I love people, and I hate them; I love speaking and helping others, yet it terrifies me. I can be hecka loud and annoying or not say a word. I've run around a mall with some friends and acted like an idiot, but later that week I almost ran out of a room hyperventilating because I hated crowds so much. For most of my life I've been wishing I wasn't so strange; but its really been getting to me these past few months. I've been telling myself I needed to be more outgoing, more talkative, more confident. I had such great intentions too! I wanted to be more talkative so I could encourage my bible study group to speak up more; I also wanted to make new friends and stop drifting from older ones. It was a good thing. But then it started to get bad.

   I started to beat myself up when I had an awkward moment or missed an opportunity to speak. People have always given me a hard time about not talking, and I began to bend to their will. It became less about me trying to be brave and more about me trying to please others. I wanted them to be proud of me; I wanted their approval. But I should have known I would never get it. I would always be too quiet for them; too this or too that. On Sunday I was in a car with a few people and they started giving me a hard time. I was with a friend and they started to ask her questions. She's shy too, but she answered them, whereas I usually stayed quiet when asked about things. Then they said something that almost made me cry. "I like her. She actually talks." It was meant as a joke, but you know what that implied? That implied that they didn't like me because I'm shy, that my friend was better than me for answering their questions, that they would like me too...if I only spoke more. It hurt me. A lot. The rest of the day I had to deal with people giving me a hard time; and I noticed that the more crap I got, the more I drew away. I am more likely to talk when someone accepts me as I am.

   That was the day it really hit me; I don't need to speak to any of you. Since when was being introverted the worse thing you could be? Since when was silence wrong? I have found that a lot of people are uncomfortable with silence. It's unnerving. So naturally, quiet people provoke them. I have come to terms with silence; I have learned to be ok with it; not only to be ok with it, but to delight in it. It's calming and peaceful. Real friendship is when two people can sit in the same room and not say a word....and be totally ok with it. I've had long embraces with my best friend without words ever being spoken; we've sat in a room and said nothing and still it was beneficial. Silence is golden.

   Not only did I learn that, but I learned that I don't owe anything to anyone. I don't owe it to someone to speak. I don't need to say anything or apologize for my shyness. I'm shy; it's who I am. I know that for me, I worry about a guy liking me. I worry that he won't like me because I don't talk enough. I think it was my best friend who said that I am just as outgoing as my future husband needs. I am a perfect match for the guy God has for me. To think that He has someone for me who will accept me, shyness and all, is a great comfort. Sure I'm quiet but I like that about myself. I don't need to talk more, because I am perfect for the plans God has for me. I have just enough courage to do the tasks He has for me. If I need more, He'll supply more. But He won't call me to do something I am unable to.

   The thing about me, is that I talk when I have something I need to say. I don't talk a lot because 1.) I don't want to say something stupid, and 2.) I don't want to speak random babble because God forbid my silence make someone feel awkward. I use my words intentionally. I have a filter, that's why I don't talk much. Because I think about the things I say before I let them come out of my mouth. I think quite a few people could benefit from a filter.

   So here's what I want you guys to know about me and about introverts in a general.

   Some people are scared by crowds or don't like talking, and that's ok! I actually love talking, but if you push me to speak, I will shut up right away because I hate it when people force me to do things. Please be patient with the introverted people in your lives! Don't stop talking to them, don't act differently around them, and just accept them. Please don't give them a hard time; they're more likely to open up if you don't push them.

   And if you're a fellow introvert, don't be too hard on yourself. Don't try to force yourself to be an extrovert. You're amazing and beautiful just as you are; God made you exactly the way you are; not any more, not any less. The first step of having others accept you, is to accept yourself.