2017.

I do not know how 2017 is going to look. But this is an early post on what I wish to achieve throughout. I have been coming up with a set of goals, and am praying that I can find the willpower to stick to them. The list might grow or shrink but for now, I have a pretty solid idea as to how I would like things to go. And though I know that my plan is not God’s, and His plan is not mine, things might not happen as I would like, so I will try to keep in mind throughout that this plan is subject to change at any moment.  So here are some of the things that I wish to achieve in this upcoming year:

  1. I wish to be more patient. When I do not understand someone’s logic or when I sense that someone has done me wrong, I tend to anger very fast. I want to focus on trying to see everything through another’s lens. I do this already but would like to have an open mind on this in particular when it comes to giving advice or just trying to help a fellow friend in need.
  2. I wish to be more financially responsible. As one of my blogs mentioned, I love to spend money on all things “new”, which contributes to part of my anxiety because I do not feel financially stable. Everyone’s dream is to be financially stable, and I have kind of the same vision but not on a big scale. I just wish to have enough saved back so that if something out of the blue happens- whether that is with my car, an emergency doctor’s visit, that I am not left panicking . Having a back-up plan is always nice.
  3. I wish to spend more time doing what I love. My photography is my baby. I love to come up with new concepts and have them acted out through photos. If I had it my way, I would be doing photography full time, which is what I actually plan to do within the next few years. This is a passion that is just now starting to develop into the beautiful way of expression that I wanted it to be all along. It is a perfect year to start to really concentrate on making it all that it can be; making it my own in the journey.

So cheers. To a successful start to the year, and here’s to the year being the most productive one yet.

I won’t apologize.

I can’t apologize. To apologize would mean that I am not human; that I don’t need time. Time to breathe, time to think, time to just sit and listen to words that match my story lyric by lyric. I need that time.

I won’t apologize. I do not feel the urge. I do not feel the necessity. Everyone has their season and this is mine. I am not sorry. I am not supposed to be. If I apologize, it means that I have done something wrong. All I have done is exercise my right to be alone. To be free from the obligations of society; from having to put on the front that my life is put together when it feels like parts of my life have been placed in a bottle and dropped off into the sea, never to be found again for a thousand years. Let me find those pieces, without the distractions. I wish to be made whole again.

Apology means regret. I do not regret my decision to step back. It was imperative that I did so.  The prompt realization of what drives me-to my worst AND to my best…needed to be apprehended and stopped in its tracks. The crime of deceit in the face of my friends… my family… was starting to become too much. Was it selfish to retreat? Maybe. But don’t we all have that selfish complex? Regardless of how it is presented, we are selfish in some fashion, whether that is by taking the time of a friend in order to be reconciled by them, by our family, knowing that they’ll always be there to console you in your worst moments and so forth. My selfishness lies in the desperation for me to be at peace within myself while out of the face of the public; the year was not the best it could have been nor should have been. Some of this was of my own doing and some of it was not, which ultimately forced me to face unwanted circumstances. Circumstances that tore me up, inside and out, and forced me to wake up and regroup. So to regret doing what was best for me would be in fact lunatic, and a hypocrisy for anyone else to get upset about. We all have our ways of handling our situations. This is how I chose to do it.

Doing Something Different- Giving up.

Change is not a bad thing. Change can be exceptionally good, especially if you are spiraling down a path that is causing you to lose focus. Several times throughout the course of my life, especially recently, it has been made prevalent to me that change has to happen, no excuses. This year, I have been stagnant in some areas of my life where I needed to be the most proactive. Not only that, but I have let the worst parts of social media determine how I see my own life, and occasionally wincing at the posts indicating that those around me have lives less complicated than my own. The deception is that people will give a true “status” of their lives with “no filter” on social media when in reality, our pride keeps up from giving up every part of ourselves, especially in the public arena. We don’t want people to judge. And in the face of Christianity, we put on a front and would rather talk about the big issues through a screen and not face to face. These are issues that nobody wants to outright address because we have been blinded to the reality of the situation at hand- that we are all suffering in different ways. This world is suffering as a whole. And if we are not suffering in some way then something is wrong. There will always be hard times, physically, spiritually, emotionally and so forth.

Even the most pure thing can be distorted on social media. For example, bible verses can be used to make one seem like they have been in the word constantly, when all they could have done was pull that verse from google, which gets rid of the need for “quiet time justification” in the eyes of fellow Christians on social media. Inspirational verses can be put up, not because the isolated verse actually applies to the person at that particular time, but because with the verse itself comes the many Facebook likes and comments. After all, what Christian wouldn’t like anything that comes from the bible? That might sound harsh but it is meant to prove a point. Any good thing can be fraudulent for our pride or our need to pretend.

So to say all of that is to say that I would like to try something different. As of a week ago. I have chosen to give up Facebook. Facebook will not be deactivated and I will still browse occasionally. My goal for this is to get rid of the obsession to put on a front, to only show my best side. By doing what I’ve been doing on places such as Facebook, Instagram and snap-chat would be lying to my friends and to myself. I am refraining from posting anything to the sites just listed. I do not know how long I plan to do this, but I will say that I will do this for as long as it takes for me to see change in myself and in my media tendencies. This blog will be my main “outlet”, as I am less likely to fabricate my circumstances for the sake of pleasing the public; it is exhausting trying to put on an act 24/7. The hope is that I will be less dependent of Facebook’s ability to make the world less “scary”- the world is a terrifying place to live in, and coming to grips with this fact is the first step in my opinion to help make a difference to change it. I encourage anyone reading this to do the same.

 

 

 

The Fear of Abandonment

Note : This was originally written June of 2015. Wow… I don’t even remember when I wrote this. I just so happened to stumble across this today. I have gone back and changed a few words here and there to make it proper tense and such, and have added on more. I will start this post off by saying that I have grown so much since this post was originally written. Around this time, I had a rough time accepting that circumstances change. However, though I knew this then, I can positively without a doubt say this now: a circumstance may change but God doesn’t. Ever. His promises and his love for us never falters. So for those of you who have abandonment issues from your past, present, or whatever it may be, know that you’re never alone in your struggles and you’re not alone in this world. Keep that in mind as you read this post.

“Regretting the past is like insulting the future.”

For a while, I had been under a sort of trance when it came to the problems that I was facing. Sometimes, us humans like to believe that we have the superpower of not feeling pain; like we can dodge it at all times and live life without it. But then something traumatic happens, and you then have no choice but to get down to the real root of your problems… I wish that I could have dodged some bullets a year or so back, but regretting the past is like insulting the future when it’s all said and done. Things in the past happened for a reason and I now embrace the changes that have taken place in my life since then because they were well-needed.

By not admitting that a problem exists… a fear…by simply shoving it under a rug, to let it collect dust makes for a nasty cleanup later. The insecurities associated with feeling like someone is going to leave you to deal with your problems by yourself are real. The pain that comes from trying to debate whether someone will leave you or won’t want to be around you anymore for whatever reason causes mental damage that is sometimes hard to heal from. It’s an event that caused me to create feelings of hostility towards people that I love without even realizing that my fear of abandonment was why I lashed out so hard in the first place.

Abandonment  is something that we are too ashamed to talk about because we think that it is too unlikely to happen, or something that shouldn’t be second guessed. We don’t want to sound unrealistic or dramatic. It’s a word that causes so much pain, confusion and mental wildfire and therefore should not be hidden away.

Abandonment to me is one of the core reasons as to why people leave the church, rebel or don’t want to pursue a relationship with God or with the community. Some event, whether it was household abuse, neglect and so forth causes them to feel as though not one person cares, and that their relationships are superficial and can be easily torn apart. A great example would be my [previous] roommate, who has tendencies that you would not expect would come from her. Like me, her father was a pastor of a congregation, and so you would naturally think that the family would have strong roots in the Lord and were living the lifestyle accordingly. She was a homosexual with strong drinking/partying tendencies, and because of it, we haven’t been seeing eye to eye. One week, she mentioned her dad; commenting on how he could lead a congregational flock, but not his own household when she was younger. I could immediately sense a feeling of neglect and abandonment, and realized that some of my actions lately had been because I was afraid that in some of my current friendships, the same thing might happen to me.

One day, in the midst of all of the emotional turmoil, I just sat and thought long and hard about why I was acting the way I was; why I was making careless decisions, trying to run from the people that loved me. And shortly after, God made the answer become extremely clear; that I was running from not only the people in my life who wanted to help me, but I was ultimately running from Him. I didn’t want to be the one who was left behind; I wanted to leave them first before they had the chance to let me down. I did not accept that He DID intentionally place the people in my life that he did for a reason, whether temporary or permanent. So I chose to run away from it all.

Needless to say, this is not the right way to handle those emotions. I’d like to say that sometimes we make things worse for ourselves by simply overthinking but also by trying to run from God and his well-planned provisions for us. I’ve had people close to me distance themselves for the same reasons I did; to try and avoid the sting of feeling like someone no longer wants you, even if this is an inaccurate misrepresentation of what’s really going on.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

But here’s the kicker: God has promised to stay with us. Even when we screw up and we feel the unworthiness of ourselves seeping through our bones, the guilt and the shame, and the filthiness catching us by the throat and making us grossly aware of our sin nature- God still wants us. He treasures us. He adopted us. Don’t take this lightly. You have a guaranteed lifeguard and a guaranteed friend if you will just follow him. Once you are secure in this fact, remind yourself over and over again. You are loved. You are wanted. You are God’s.

 

 

 

Dear Social Butterfly: Take a Break.

Always wanting to surround yourself with people during the stressful times is not always a bad thing. However, I am about to explain why I decided to take it down a notch- when temporarily closing off could be a bad thing, and why I’m okay with easing up on the amount of time I spend out and about sometimes. It’s alright to want a break, even as Christians in ministry.

Over the course of a year and a half, a lot has happened in my life that I would have never expected. With that came a lot of emotional damage as well as needed time to take a breath and just… reflect. Now, mind you, I said “reflect”… not “dwell”. Don’t get me wrong, being around friends in your times of distress is a good way to talk things about and maybe hear things from a different perspective. It’s encouraged to find someone you trust (someone who is also biblically grounded if possible) to help you. However, I’ve found that personally, in my anger or frustrations of a certain event, some of my unprocessed thoughts turned more into gossip, which certainly isn’t okay. I would immediately turn to my friends, completely making an inaccurate assessment of the situation, and not always turning to scripture first- unless of course, the scripture fit in my favor for that particular event, and simply put… that’s just not how things are supposed to work, and that’s not how God intended scripture to be used. It is is used for His glorification alone and not our own.

During times of utmost despair, take a deep breath. Pray. Do not stop praying. and truly reflect. See things from the other perspective (especially God’s perspective), and don’t be quick to assume. Give yourself a few hours or a few days to process something big, and I promise you that your decisions following that time will be a lot better.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

The past few months have been hectic. I have a big load on any given day, and 7 pm starts my “free-time” so to speak. So on certain days, I am sure to try and reserve some time for me. I don’t look at this as a selfish act; if I am burned out, how am I supposed to be effective with others? Also, I have gotten back into reading for leisure and I thoroughly enjoy it, as well as other hobbies (like coloring and painting!).

Now, when is taking time for yourself a bad thing? I have to be careful in my times of highest stress, because here’s a fact about me; I have TERRIBLE anxiety. I can’t even begin to fathom all of the things I excessively worry and think about- sometimes it’s insane. Don’t take the time you set aside to dwell on bad parts of your life as I mentioned earlier, because not only is this physically unhealthy and makes you more on edge, but we are clearly told to not let it consume our lives.

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25.

     Go find that kind word. In this case, also go out and find some accountability and encouragement. I still have to remind myself to do this. It is all too easy to want to permanently retreat. But remember that the rough patch is only a season and that you are not alone. People can relate to how you’re feeling in some fashion, even when you feel like an island.

My point is this: Don’t use people as a crutch to get out of touch with yourself. Don’t be around people all the time for the sake of hoping that problems will disappear, only to later discover that your personal issues have tripled in size. Don’t gossip. Don’t be around people while also feeling like you are suffocating at the same time. Take the break. Do yourself the favor and every once in a while, reserve time for only you. But don’t abuse that time. Keep the anxiety to a minimum and remember that you are not alone in your struggle, and that your rough season will end.  Anyways, that’s all for now, folks!

The Story Unfolded: How I [really] found Jesus.

I was raised in the church. My father is a minister and preached at various churches all of my life. Of course living with a preacher as a father had its ups and downs, but I knew that he loved me and wanted the best. He made sure to equip me by making me remember many verses of the bible, full chapters even (I still have Psalm 51 ingrained in my head, 19 verses). I would go from banquet to banquet at age 6, 7 and 8, reciting these passages at various events my dad attended. I didn’t quite know why he was insisting on verse memorization so much, so for a long time, I held knowledge but did not see the reason to apply any it. Matter of fact, I wasn’t even sure where God actually fit into my life at all-I just knew that I believed in him because I was told to. I didn’t question it.

Fast forward to my last year in high school, the year 2013. I found an age appropriate bible study group through a friend (several friends) who  I ran track and cross country with, and grew to quickly love it as well as the people who attended. Within months, there started to be talk of  a mission trip coming up. I was determined to go, and so I started to sell items on Ebay in order to go on this trip. It was something new, something that I knew was “good” so to speak- but never would I guess the true impact it would cause on my life. Ever.

I reached my monetary goal and was able to go on this week-long mission trip to Tennessee. This trip consisted of being split into groups, with each group at a different site, where we either painted, rebuilt roofs, etc. Each afternoon following the work portion, there would be a service with music and a message. I was on a roof crew. We worked hard for 4 or 5 days straight and by the end of it, the roof was finished. We prayed with the owner of the house afterward and then it was time for celebration! Everyone decided to take a dip in the Tennessee River to cool off and just relax.

Something you should know right about now; I couldn’t swim. The most I had ever “swam” so to speak was in a kiddie pool or in water where I could touch the bottom. However, I considered this “swimming” and dared to try and navigate this river. I casually joked around with one of the leaders, Charlie, and said “If I start to drown, are you sure you’ll save me”? getting more and more confident that surely I would be fine (I swear I had the complex of being invincible back then…). He said that he would, and then stayed somewhat close to me as we headed over to the rock that people were jumping off of into the river. However, as we started to go, I realized that I could not touch the bottom of the river. I had just reached a bald spot, and I lost complete footing. I started to panic (Rule number one while almost drowning; DON’T panic. Whoops.). Not only that, but I started to go straight to the bottom, where I started ferociously kicking. I was able to get back up to the surface briefly, and Marcie, another leader who was still on the bank, started to see that I was truly in trouble. I mustered out “help” before I went back under (yeah; that “invincible” complex went away shortly after this episode). I heard Marcie jump in, and Charlie was quickly heading back in my direction as well. After what felt like forever, I was lifted out of the water with Marcie on one arm and Charlie on the other. I was alright. Physically, I was alright.

We got back to the church for the afternoon worship service, and I was badly shaken. When arriving to get seated, I had several hugs and a few “I’m glad you didn’t die” comments from some of my fellow mission trip friends. However, in the midst of all the halfhearted jest, one of the leaders there hugged me and asked “If you had died today, where would you have gone?”. Now, people, up until this point, I don’t think I took death too seriously. Until my lungs were flooded with water, and I had that brief fear that I was going to die, it was just a process that at some point, we would all experience. But the truth was, if  I would have died that day, I could have guessed where I would have gone.

To say all of this is to just emphasize how much that mission trip saved my life. Years and years of attending church means nothing if you don’t have true reason as to why you go. I realized that I was truly filthy and that I didn’t deserve to live, but that Jesus allowed me to. He had allowed me to take breath, but for a long time, I completely took it for granted. God sent his son that we may have ETERNAL life as well, for those who believe and follow him. I had never cried so much in my life before that day in service. Shameless, thankful tears cascaded down my face as I truly praised God, thanking him for giving me another chance. For sending his son to die for us, promising us the joy of getting to live with Him forever.

     It won’t always be a near-death experience that wakes you up, but in my case it was, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Reality hits as soon as we realize that we deserve nothing; not this life or the next; but God loves us so much that He was willing to give his children all that they could not possibly deserve. So there is my testimony. Thanks for reading!

Getting Rid of the Clutter: My Story

I was a shopaholic. I went through things fairly quickly, such as clothing, electronics, shoes, purses, you name it. My closet was originally at a point where I could not possibly close it- ridiculous, right? And yet for years, I had never thought about the reason as to why I was broke and unsatisfied all the time. So to supplement (and make up for) my shopping endeavors, I decided to get a second job. However, I realized that by having this second job, I had even more of a need to save. This second job could NOT be my reason to keep carelessly spending. And the second job, as well as a few life lessons taught me why I spent so much.

This shopping problem started due to a void I was trying to fill. When I was in grade school, rarely would I get what I actually “wanted” so to speak. Of course I always got the necessities, such as backpacks, proper fitting jeans, winter coats, etc, but as I got older, there were certain “styles” that my fellow classmates picked up on; name brand purses, jackets, shoes. And sadly, with the exception of a few occasions, I did not get these things. Yes, though a lot of the kids getting them might have been a little spoiled (not all of them, don’t get me wrong), I felt like I was just not able to fit in. It didn’t help that I didn’t look like most of the kids around me which led me to feel “different” by default.  I felt “not as worthy” as the kids around me which led me to my shopping addiction once I got my first job in high school. I then started to buy everything that my little heart desired since grade school; every coat, pair of shoes, purse that I ever wanted, I bought without a second thought. I was much happier… Or so I thought.

This pattern of buying whatever I wanted soon spiraled out of control the more stressed I became. The times where I felt the loneliest, I would easily blow $100 that day on clothing that I just did not need. But when it came time to get the necessities… such as food and household essentials, and paying for outings, I was quick to hold back to “save” for more “stuff”- a new Xbox, yet another graphic tank that I already had 20 of… It never stopped.

This year was officially the first year since high school that I have been a LOT more financially responsible. It is ALSO the first year that I have started to heavily eliminate some of my past tendencies and move forward. Getting rid of the clutter is not just about the material build-up, it’s the reason behind it that forced me to face the facts and deal with them properly. Here are the facts:

Material things TRULY cannot fill the void. Only God can do that. He clearly states  “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” in Luke 12:15.  It also says  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”. My heart was not focused on God. It wasn’t focused on the eternal joy that I will one day experience from following Him. I was following things. Useless things. How many shirts do I really need? How many laptops, workout leggings and tennis shoes will it take to become satisfied? I can tell you right now, if you depend on things to make you happy, read up on some of our celebrities and tell me how happy some of them truly are. How many of them at some point in their lives have gone through depression, tired from all of the “things” and eventually realizing at the end of the day that something was still missing?

When we realize just how much we need Jesus, the need for the “things” will disappear. I have had accountability on this for the first time in my life (my roommate has helped me, yay!), and I am a work in progress; God is using me in ways I never thought He would. Our God is amazing and will not fail us, even when those “things” do.

I still have a long way to go, but my focus is on Jesus and being more like him. I have felt one of my burdens get lifted off my shoulders and I can breathe a little easier knowing that I am now fully aware of the real reason behind my spending problem. This discovery was a long time in the making, over 4 or 5 years, but now that I feel the transformation, I don’t ever want to turn back.