Tonight and today was hard. I’m challenged to give thanks CONTINUALLY in the midst of not being asked to my senior prom. It’s hard. I’m going to be the girl that didn’t get asked to prom and that went to prom by herself. That is a hard pill to swallow. Through this, I haven’t had a cheery attitude. A cheery attitude is not an honest representation of how I’m feeling. It’s not fun is phrasing it generously. But I still need to give thanks. I need to be joyful, but I also need to feel what I’m feeling to get to the joy. Brené Brown knows what she is talking about when she says you have to go through vulnerability to get to courage. Preach. She also said words that are comforting my soul and making me grateful, “you’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” These words remind me that I’m worthy and that worthiness deserves taking care of myself. And when I’m down and out, it’s time to reach out to those who I care about that will care for me. It’s time to complain over Skype to Beka and tear up because this is hard. It’s time to plan to go to Pure Barre, to walk the dogs, to go throw the rugby ball outside with my brother to get my body moving so my mind can stop. It’s time to reach out to those in my Bible study to meet them and have them pray for me. Even if it’s only stopping by for thirty minutes on the day of prom. These are the moments when I have to care for me, even when my ISFJ nature is to care for others. Sometimes I need to be taken care of, too, and that is such a valid reminder. Take it easy. Take a break. Take care of yourself. Don’t worry. Easier said than done.
Tonight was the night I needed. After a rough day of realizing more people had gotten asked to prom than I had realized, I was sad that I hadn’t been asked. It hurts. But I came home, talked to my mom and we moved on from it. Life is much more than one dance and once I stick up for myself in the ways that I know I need to, I think I’ll be able to have a really good time. Praying this to be true and praying, praying, praying for what I would like to happen for prom. Knowing all along that God will work things together for my good no matter how horrible I feel like it may be in the moment. I will be able to count it all as good, I just have to wait.
I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Brené Brown after school and loved it. That’s the kind of TV I crave after a rough day, shows that bring me back to what matters. Being vulnerable, dealing with guilt & shame, living wholeheartedly are topics that I love to hear about on Super Soul Sunday. All such positive and encouraging messages when the day got a bit bumpy. Then I watched Real Housewives of Orange County before dinner, which I realized I can handle in moderation. It’s my guilty pleasure and I know when I can watch it and when I can’t. Today, I could. That doesn’t mean that tomorrow I will be able to, though. I know that just as much as I know that I should still be fasting from Instagram. I don’t know how long this will last, but so far it has taught me how much information I really need (WAY less than I thought) and how much I compared my life to others instead of investing in relationships. God is bringing good things out of this fast, I just need to focus on those instead of the desire to log on and procrastinate.
And instead of procrastinating, I logged off feedly and wrote down four things I needed to do and did them. Bam. That productivity feels so good and I am now proud of the work I was able to accomplish. So. Good. Then I was able to tidy up my room, my desk, and sit down to read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. I love nights like these that seem to have restarted my day. Today is truly an example of the ability to start your day over at any point throughout the day. I just wish I knew how to “fix” those bad days like I was able to today more often. I am so grateful to have had the time and the ability to read and be quiet today. I love reading and am plowing through this book. It’s good! I wish I didn’t get as tired when I am reading but I guess I should learn that if I always read in bed before going to sleep, my body associates reading with sleep! Time to start reading more throughout the day, hard to complain with that!
I am in love with words. Reading is like waves for me, it comes in and out and I never really know when I’ll be dying to read or when it needs to be on the back-burner. One thing is for sure, the desire always comes back. Last night I started The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and I already love it. I love the way Ayana Mathis ties words together. The way she makes me think about love, home and acceptance in regards to race, family, and death. And I’m nineteen pages in. I am so grateful for the ability to read. Natalie Norton shared a picture on Instagram when she started the Natalie Reads group on Instagram and Facebook. There was a quote on this picture that I loved, caused me to repost and ended up in me winning three books in her giveaway. Even though I’m not on Instagram now, I am so grateful to have seen these words: because people who don’t read are no better off than people who can’t read.
I don’t read books to get an advantage over others. But I see how those who don’t read are in no different than those who don’t have the ability to read. I can read and should treasure that gift. It is a gift from God to be able to read His word in the Bible, to read books and articles and stories that challenge who I am and what I believe constantly. It is incredible for me to be in a situation where I am constantly getting an influx of information. Whether it being a stirring story about something I understand and love and cherish or one that I don’t understand that makes me realize what is important to me and what isn’t. Books allow me to know myself better and I love the way that they can change me.
Change is alkhgtrmvjdflna. Crazy pants. One second I love it, the challenge, the adapting, the unknown. It’s exciting. The other half of the time? Terrifying, completely unknown, irresponsible, and uncontrollable. I’m in a complete, 100% period of change and my emotions are on as much of a tidal system as my love for books. Crazy pants, again.
This weekend I was worried to death over my thesis defense last night. But then I got up there, I did it, and it was fine. It went really well, I got great feedback from the jurors who watched and spent more time frustrated over the questions my mom asked a classmate about euthanasia than I did celebrating that I had DONE IT! With that done, I feel light. Filled with clarity about what matters, about what matters to me. Trying with my WHOLE heart on something, knowing that God will honor that completely when I do. If I am scared, I need to TRUST God. Oh, so easier said than done when worrying is ideal.
What I need to remember most when I am worrying up a storm is that worrying is like praying for what you don’t want to happen. It is important to me to start recognizing when I am letting worry and fear take over, when I can actively be praying about my fears boldly to God. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” -Hebrews 4:16. I love this verse. I love this verse for worrying, for fears, for anxiety. It reminds me of how I am to be bold in the eyes of a loving God who is full of mercy, one I do not need to fear in thanks to Christ. When I pray boldly, I receive His mercy and grace when I need it most. My heart is full with praise to the Lord our God for His words that I cannot find words to explain the contentment or peace that I feel. Our God is so good.
I’m happy. Happy, happy, happy. I’ve had a great night with my dad. We went to Red Mill and got fish and chips (for me) and a burger (for him) and had a really nice night together. It was so much better than eating by myself, or with the three dogs, and it was wonderful to just be out of the house. After dinner we talked about the new chairs the designer picked, how my day went and then how I’m going to spend my summer working at the office. I’m really excited about working there and am hoping to have a positive attitude throughout my ten weeks there. One thing I know is that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I got through my AP test today and even though it was a lot more difficult than I had expected, it’s over. Done! I’m grateful to only have my project left to worry about for that class. Then my thesis defense is on Monday, we know our groups and I’m sad that mine changed, but I know that God is in each and every person in my group and that He has me in this group to bring out good in my life. The experience itself may not end in a way that I think is good, but if I learn anything from the experience I cannot say I failed. I have a lot of sayings going for this event, I even calculated that it’s 1.5% of one day. That has me looking at it with perspective, along with the statement, “people are just people, they shouldn’t make you nervous.” Hoping and praying that the evening goes well and that I will prepare effectively this weekend. That means a lot of practice and work tomorrow, but I’m ready to be done with it.
This week has been full and really, really challenging, so I’m excited to sleep in tomorrow and work, work, work so I can enjoy Sunday by going to church, volunteering, stopping at the market and then reading. I love to read and don’t have enough time, so that’s what I’m going to do tonight after I break down what I need to do for tomorrow. I want to set myself up for success tomorrow and the only way I can do that tomorrow is to do the prep work tonight. It will be better than watching Greys Anatomy. I know it. Because as I was driving home with a huge smile on my face because a) happy, happy and b) my dad has peonies in his yard that I got to bring home (love, love, LOVE peonies!) I was listening to this song and all I could think about was how I need to start living my life right now, because this moment is the time to start. That seems to be the hardest part in so many ways, but starting allows life to happen and living life is always worth it, even when the work seems to get in the way. And I don’t want to let down God, that’s for sure, so I better live this life, this day that I am given as a gift, and celebrate every single moment. Life is too short not too!
This week has been hard. It was a rough Tuesday when I started taking my AP Stats practice exam and it was HARD. I thought I was going to fail and was frustrated that I felt I knew the material, but didn’t know how to properly answer the questions. Then on Wednesday yearbook hit the fan in every. way. possible. It felt like the ground was falling out under me as I felt like the teacher was upset with me and disappointed with me, but then it got worse. Someone thought that their name was misspelled on their senior page and was rightly frustrated and upset with that. With me not able to find anyone else related to yearbook that could help me, I ran around the school like a mad man trying to figure out if her name was misspelled. Little did I know it wouldn’t matter because right now that senior page in a certain yearbook I helped design is being shipped to my school and will be here next week or so. Eeeeek!! Finally, I was able to confirm that her name was not misspelled and all my prayers to God were answered and I learned that if only I would have just trusted Him in the middle of it, I would have had a much better day. I guess it’s not that easy. And then it just got stressful. Everyone seemed to be frustrated or hurt and upset with how things happened yesterday and today was just stressful. Stressful for confrontation that never happened, apologies that were never received in person and incredible disrespect that seemed to be felt by everyone involved. Yet how am I called to be joyful through this and actually be joyful? I certainly wasn’t joyful when her name could have been misspelled and when I was consumed with worry running around the school, my goodness, I was the farthest thing from joyful let alone graceful.
Looking back on these past 72 hours, I’m just exhausted. Emotionally and physically. This all takes a toll as I try to use my words kindly and thoughtfully instead of to hurt others through gossip, and I feel like all I did was gossip. Talk badly. Negatively. Hurtfully. That is certainly not the way God wants me to use my voice, not even close. And what hurts even more, is that when her name could have been misspelled, I was praying to any God that existed, any God when I believe in one. That stings as I type that. I physcially cringe to relive that moment where I didn’t trust God or even believe that He was the only one that could truly help me. Because I can see right now that He was there, teaching me a lesson in trusting and remembering that there was a draft where her name was misspelled and that we caught it before the final draft was sent. Grace in the fact that that is why we have drafts, to catch those errors. Abounding grace that overflows through every aspect of my week when I felt like everything was going so, so wrong. That AP practice exam I was so worried about? I did great. I didn’t get 100%, but thankfully that’s not what it takes to get a good score on the AP exam. Every single time I stop and start looking towards God, He shows me what matters. He shows me that this is just one test. One. test. One test that will not define me, that I will not worry about in five years, let alone more than six months. God will work the good score, bad score, perfect score I receive tomorrow for my good. And something so key about Romans 8:28 is what Beka noted at the end of the verse that so frequently gets left off: and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. God is working every single thing I am experiencing this week together for my good, because I love Him and am living the life that He has called me to live. I am living my life for Him, not for a stats grade or a perfect yearbook. For every good thing, I give Him all the glory, AP practice test score included. God is good.
Bad days are inevitable and are bound to happen. When all things come crashing down around me, it’s time to take it easy and to just accept the abundant grace that God gives so freely. Receiving help, being vulnerable, oh, it is so hard and made even harder on hard days. Sometimes, you have to WORK to make things right, to turn a bad day into a good one and sometimes not enough work in the world will make anything better. (But a new inspirational home page for chrome can help, see above.) I haven’t gone to sleep on time in days, DAYS! That takes a toll on me and not a pretty one. Exhaustion is not what God wants for me. My goodness. But I’m grateful for friends that help me turn the day around like Beka did today. It was an honest, take a break because you NEED IT moment. I need to give myself grace and be more willing to accept it. Yes, yes, and yes. Statistics is hard and my practice exam went really badly during first period, a rough way to start the day. Then, being compared to during lunch by said statistics teacher that proved just how badly I did was salt to the open, raw, and hurting wound. Shooting the play after school was a good way to get my mind OFF of everything that seemed to be going wrong, especially when I felt like the pictures were going right. Then, watching Oprah’s Lifeclass was so good as it talked about guilt. I STRUGGLE with guilt and frequently feel guilted by my mom, it’s a hard emotion to get through. But what I learned tonight? It’s a worthless emotion. My ego, which fuels every little bit of guilt, is pushing me away from God. God & my ego fight for my focus, and when my ego wins, it makes God smaller. That was a HUGE ah-ha moment for me watching today. And as I kept watching, I learned what I needed to do today: give myself permission to be hurt and frustrated with how today went, with how hard this day started and how I felt like it all came crashing down again with my mom. I am a human. I make mistakes. I will own my mistakes, my shortcomings, because my punishment is IN that mistake in that moment (ah-ha moment #2!). Then I will ACT where I can and take initiative that I know needs to be taken. God is breaking me down so that I depend on Him and realize that as I make less of my time on Instagram, I make more time for Him everywhere. God is good all the time. That is the honest, raw, and beautiful truth.
Today was a beatiful day. And I realize that as I have prayed more boldly over the last few days, God has answered my prayers bigger and better than I ever could have imagined. Today, I went to church. I love church. The songs we sing fill me up and encourage me more than anything else. Celebrating Christ in community every single week is the highlight of my week, I love it. And the lyrics from today aren’t escaping my mind on this gorgeous, 80 degree day in May, “my great redeemer, glorious Savior, your name is higher than the rising sun.” And every single time I see the blue skies and the sun, I think of how God is higher than the sun. Incredibly beautiful.
After church I picked up my mom and we were off to brunch at a family friend’s house that I hadn’t seen at ages. As a fellow family with a mom diagnosed with MS, I can relate to the lives of the daughters. And my oh my, did that family bless me today. Liz is sweet, kind, caring, thoughtful and so much like myself. I see her reservations, her grace, her poise, her thoughtfulness as a host and pray that I may one day appear to others in that way. After a delicious brunch and chatting at their home, we walked across the street and went on their boat! Oh my goodness, I still cannot believe that I went boating today! We went onto Lake Washington and went around Mercer Island. I could not have spent my day with a more loving, caring, thoughtful and happy group of people. Reuniting with my true friends from elementary school was a blessing for my heart and soul today. I’ve also learned not to force friendships, because true, authentic and real friendships don’t need the extra work or effort, they’re beautiful just the way they are. After receiving the most beautiful and delicate cross bracelet from Liz after we had chatted about reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and how we both go to church by ourselves, God’s goodness is evident to me in absolutely everything.
Coming home, I’m thankful for the day I had. So, so thankful to have a weekend that has left me feeling full. And at 7:32, I realize I need to eat something, but also realize the work that is ahead of me this week. I realize I need and should be doing more, but I’m not. I have the AP Stats exam on Friday and that has me beyond nervous, my goodness. I don’t feel ready. But I know I’ve worked hard and that will pay off, I just need to make sure I’m doing my best this week, while also giving myself a break. Stress isn’t good for me, but trusting God is. And in that same sense of discipline, I’m conflicted about opening Instagram after giving it up since Wednesday. I miss it a bit, but I don’t miss it incredibly. I want to look at it on my computer, and gave myself the deadline of today to wait to stop fasting, but I still feel off. I don’t feel like opening it is the right decision when I have so much more to do. But opening Instagram isn’t getting in the way of me doing the work, doing the work is my only obstacle. I don’t want to open my bags and start unpacking from my dad’s. I don’t want to work on more statistics. I don’t want to work on my thesis defense that is a week from tomorrow. I just want to relax before this hectic week starts, and right now I think that is the best decision I could make.
I haven’t been right here, physically where I am, in too long. A weekend at my dad’s has finally come where we aren’t traveling and it isn’t spring break. It’s good to be home. Divorced parents allow for multiple homes, each with their own unique home feelings and sentiments. I’m grateful for two homes that make me more grateful for each of them individually. My dad’s house has an incredible view and sitting outside on the deck (in the furniture that was delivered this morning, God is good!) with the sun shining and watching the sun set was incredible. I need and crave restoration. Especially after the week that I’ve had, but also for the lack of rest I was able to get last weekend. I’m so grateful to be here right now.
Yet in so many ways, I feel like I’m somewhere I’ve never been before and it feels incredibly unfamiliar. With thirteen to fourteen days left of school (I’m not sure if I have three or four days of finals), I’m rapidly approaching so many things. Stats AP exam, thesis defense, prom, senior prank & skip day, finals, baccalaureate and graduation. All of these things are happening within a little more than three weeks and I know time will fly.
I feel anxious and excited. I feel ready, yet terrified. High school has been an incredible experience, one with trials and hardships, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. And with high school rapidly ending and that milestone sixteen days away, I realize the transitions I have ahead of me this summer that are so different and so new. This summer I have the opportunity to work at my dad’s office. It’s a job, one that is open and available for me in a time where jobs are hard to come by. Many people work during the summer, but this would be a first for me. Committing two and a half months of my summer to working seems terrifying, but that’s because it’s new. I’ve never worked during the summer or even gone to camp during the summer. I usually stay home and do a whole lot of nothing during the summer and working could be so motivating to keep me moving in the summer.
It’s a decision I need to pray about. And all those things I listed above are things that I need to pray about, too. And instead of writing, “I’m going to work on praying about these things more because they need to be prayed over,” I’m going to pray right here, right now.
Lord, thank you for being so close to me in this time of transition. I pray that I may be able to feel your presence more acutely, because I know you’re there and me not feeling you is my attention being elsewhere. It’s my attention being on worries, events, grades—not on you. Lord, may I remember who I am to you and who you say I am in a time that challenges every single bit of who I am. I pray over every worry in my heart, Lord, and I pray that I may learn to pray more throughout these days. I pray that you may help me have a productive weekend, one full of dependence on you and finding joy in gratitude in everything. May my cup overflow this weekend as I realize how good you are and how blessed I am. Blessed for so many reasons, but if only for the truth in the statement that I have a Savior. God, you are so good. Thank you for loving me, forgiving me, and for giving the gift of your word to us in the Bible. May I look to it more and more every day for your wisdom and guidance. Thank you for today, for this incredible weather, and the current calm & peace that is over my family. Thank you for the clarity to know that I needed to give up Instagram this week and for how well that has been going so far. Thank you for the reminder, God, that when I fast, when I give up something, you bless it. Every. single. time. You blow me away, God! Amen!
Hello, May! This month I’m filling you with honesty and accountability. I’m filling you with new experiences that will challenge me to step outside of my comfort zone and into new memories by going to Prom. I’m filling you with more thoughtfulness regarding my time, saying goodbye to Instagram for five days or more, starting today. I’m filling you with a new life milestone: graduating from high school. I’m filling you with new adventures that incorporate more of what I love into my daily life. I’m filling you with more time for prayer and the Bible and trying to figure out new ways to incorporate both of those into my day more frequently. I’m filling you with letters and packages, loving on others in tangible ways through the mail. I’m filling you with new inspiration in a mini-binder that is finally put together. I’m filling you with fresh flowers and peonies. Oh, the peonies! But most of all, I’m filling May with what only the Holy Spirit can produce in my life. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. -Galatians 5:22-23
I’m sitting in bed at the Empress with the windows open as I watch the sunset and I’m so blessed with the incredible day that I’ve had. Waking up at 6am on a Saturday when I was exhausted from my first week back at school was less than desired, but at the end of this long day I am filled with so much joy. I still struggle to smile and laugh with my mom as we struggle to order room service, but I have seen the reasons to be grateful today.
Brentwood Regatta is a beautiful regatta. It’s at Brentwood College School (hello, confusion for Americans! It’s a high school, not a college!) and has a beautiful view of the water that everyone is racing on. There is something incredibly beautiful and graceful about rowing. Everyone in unison, one boat, four to eight people working as one, gliding across the finish line. I truly enjoy these opportunities to see my brother and love seeing him row! It is something that he loves to do and spends a lot of time doing, which challenges me to find something that I love. And when I come back to this idea, I realize what fires me up the most is being in Him. It is reading the Bible, going to Bible study, going to church, volunteering at Sunday school or simply talking about God and how He is involved in everything. His love is abundant and a gift that can be opened and received every single day.
Trips to Victoria highlight my love for God. It’s a forced (partial) social media free weekend as I can’t access Instagram or email unless I am at the hotel and logged into the wifi. This provides a challenge, but a forced break. I can’t create Internet when I don’t have to, which forces me to start doing what I love. What I love is expressed when I’m photographing my brother’s regatta or talking with my dad instead of logging on to Instagram and getting lost for 35 minutes. When self-discipline is taken out of the equation, I prosper and thrive. I find time to be involved in what matters to me and log into YouVersion to read His word at the end of the day instead of check in on others. When I am checked into God first, blessings overflow into my life and into others. I’m so grateful for these weekends to visit my brother and the blessing that boarding school has been for my family. God is so, so good.