alright so it’s obviously been a while since I’ve posted on here. I’m not sure how many times I’ve come to sit down at my computer and began to write, gotten half way through a post and decided that what I was writing wasn’t good enough or it didn’t matter or it was just too vulnerable to post online but here I am in 2019 trying to challenge myself to let go of whatever insecurities may be holding me back and just write.
since I’ve started my freshman year at uga, I’ve gained a LOT. over break I realized that I’d gained three pounds and as you can imagine, I wasn’t happy about it. to be honest, I was not surprised because as I reflected on my eating habits the past 5 months I realized that it probably was mostly due to the dominos parmesan bites and insomnia double chocolate chunk cookies that my roommate and I have a tendency to order on a weekly basis (@dominos @insomniacookies please sponsor me :)) but as I looked back on my first semester holistically, I realized just how much I’d truly gained.
I gained people. People that are always down for a coffee date. People that dance fearlessly & constantly. People that live down & across the hall, that live upstairs & downstairs, and that live 5 feet away. People that are sisters. People that have surprised me. People that laugh & love & ooze joy.
One of my favorite books is Bob Goff’s Everybody Always (shameless plug: 10/10 recommend reading this because it’s seriously life changing). Not surprisingly, the book is about loving everybody, always: all people, all the time, even (or especially) when it’s hard. I guess that idea is so simple it probably sounds like common sense, yet I’ve some how spent pretty much the entirety of my life only getting to know the people living within my same, small, southern Christian bubble. however, the Bible tells us that if we do that, we’re basically cheating ourselves from getting to know the whole picture of God. The best way to get to know God is to get to know the people made in his image, which means ALL of them, or else we’re only getting a “glimpse” of Him (Goff). The people I’ve gained here at uga have helped me gain new insight and perspective into God’s character.
along with all of that, I’ve gained knowledge… I learned things like (1) coffee is an absolute morning essential (2) cable television is still very much relevant (3) showering with shoes is the only way to shower sanitarily (yes- this is a word) (4) podcasts are severely underrated and (5) fish definitely have personalities. I learned (6) just how much seeing a friendly face in a strange place can mean & (7) how easily kind words can make someones day. I learned (8) that feeling lonely is temporary, (9) loneliness is not a reflection of yourself worth, and (10) you are often not alone in your feeling of loneliness ESPECIALLY if you’re a college freshman.
I gained a LOT.
I gained a LOT that I’m grateful for in my freshman year. I’ve gained and gained and gained. People always warned me that I may gain the freshman fifteen from my peanut butter mnm addiction but no one told me how much I’d actually end up gaining. I didn’t gain the freshman fifteen, I gained the freshman fifty: three pounds and (at least) forty-seven new people & experiences & things that have blessed me immensely. so here’s to being grateful and gaining even more !! :)
this past weekend I had the opportunity to go on my last high school church retreat to a place called Camp Lighthouse in Talking Rock, GA and it was absolutely amazing. Camp Lighthouse will always be a very special place to me for so many reasons after last summer.
the camp was started by a sweet sweet family that are members of my church and school community. the campers are children from local homeless shelters in the Atlanta area and the counselors are highschoolers from my church. not only is the camp a special place because of all the amazing people that are a part of it, but also because of the overwhelming presence of joy that just overflows !! the Lord is so very present there and nothing is more powerful than that.
for the kids, its their one opportunity a year to just be kids. often they are overwhelmed by reality and are forced to grow up just too fast. it’s a place where they can be taken care of instead of worrying about how they can take of others or worrying if they will be taken care of. but for the counselors, it may be even more. for me it was a time to look outside of myself and be truly grateful for all that I have—cliché I know, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. it was a time for me to both fill up and wholly outpour. it was a time to grow in fellowship and grow in personal faith.
last summer, going into the first week of camp, I was filled with insecurities that I wasn’t going to be good enough. I felt like I didn’t deserve the opportunity to be a part of something that amazing or I wasn’t going to be able to make any sort of difference. leading up to camp I prayed and spent a lot of time in scripture in order to prepare my heart but I still felt uneasy until the night before our campers arrived.
something that is so unique and special about lighthouse is that there is almost a 1:1 counselor:camper ratio. this allows for deep and lasting connections to form and allows the counselors to shower the campers with all the extra, undivided attention that they deserve.
the night before they arrived, we found out the names of our campers. my camper’s name was Nevaeh, which is “heaven” spelled backwards. I’m not sure why but this brought a wave of peace and I knew that that week was in the hands of the Lord. I no longer felt anxious about trying to be perfect because I knew all I had to be was present, the rest was in His hands.
sure enough that week was life changing, I connected with Nevaeh almost instantly and had the opportunity of growing closer with her for the entirety of the week. by the end I had learned how desperately she needed a place like lighthouse where she was loved so completely and could meet the Lord. she came from a very large family where she often served as a caretaker for her younger siblings leaving her feeling slightly overshadowed and overwhelmed (understandably so !!). it broke my heart to hear this but it also gave me the opportunity to have an honest and mature conversation with her about Jesus. a conversation that I never thought possible with someone so young but she was simply wise beyond her years.
going back to lighthouse this weekend, a place that had made such a special impact on so many peoples lives (including mine !!), was truly just what I needed in this time of major change (aka the end of high school). it allowed me to have some time to just get back to the basics and connect with others & Jesus. simply spending time in both fellowship & fun with the girls & leaders there brought me so much comfort that I’m not alone in my faith and genuine, pure joy !!
being at camp lighthouse, is living in the way Christ wanted us to live. it’s not worrying about what everyone else is doing and setting sights on Him, it’s laughing with all your stomach muscles without feeling ashamed that sometimes you snort (like a pig), it’s plunging into freezing cold water not only for a QT slushy but for the memory, it’s playing super intense made-up games because you are highly competitive (but in a good way), it’s shouting and dancing because you just can’t contain how happy you really are, it’s slapping each other with glittered sticky hands since that guarantees a smile, it’s staying up all night because your trying to make the little time you have there last forever, it’s worship without distraction. it’s freedom, kindness, joy, faithfulness, and all things pure & holy. and it’s so much more.
“though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” -1 Peter 1:8-9
so there are some good vibes to take in to the next few weeks !! just a encouragement and praise !! :)
2018—a pretty major year in my life. it’ll be the year i’ll become a legal adult, i’ll graduate high school, i’ll leave home, i’ll go to college, i’ll meet NEW people, i’ll experience NEW things, and i’ll have surprises, twists, and turns that i currently cannot imagine. this year is perhaps the most important year of my life yet. and as i look into what 2018 has in store, i have nervous and excited butterflies dancing in my stomach. i wonder what life will be like, what i will be like, on January 1st, 2019.
“NEW year, NEW me,” a clean slate of who we were, the ability to leave regrets and pain in the past? right? wrong. NEW year’s is often a time of radical “self improvement;” we set ourselves goals or attempt to implement lifestyle changes so that we won’t be the same person we are now by the end of our next trip around the sun. but we often forget that the difference from 2017 to 2018 is just one meaningless number. there is no magical reset button or quick fix to whatever we are trying to fix or hide from in the NEW year, a number does not have the power to change us, only our decisions do.
while i believe that many of our decisions effect our lives, i believe that the most important and influential decision we can make is to give our lives to the Lord. so in 2018, instead of pining after a number on the scale or a career or a relationship… let go, and let God. instead of micromanaging resolutions that are almost, most definitely doomed from the beginning, put your year into His hands. rely on His strength to help you in your aspirations, His grace to give you your clean slate, His love to make you feel priceless.
and giving your year to God, isn’t a decision that we can only make on January 1st—actually it’s not a decision that we make on any singular day—it’s a decision that we make everyday for the rest of our lives. unlike when we have chips and queso for NEW year’s day lunch (*cough cough* you know who you are) which ruins our resolution be healthier in the NEW year and leads us to the ultimate conclusion that if we cannot give up the creamy goodness of queso, we cannot get stop eating unhealthy food and we will not lose weight in the NEW year and we will always be the same—I digress—the Lord’s unfailing forgiveness knows that we will make mistakes but proceeds promise us NEWness anyway.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the NEW creation has come: The old has gone, the NEW is here!” ~2 Corinthians 5:17
our sin to the Lord is not equivalent to NEW year’s day queso to us. His pursuit for our heart does not easily falter, it never fails or gives up. He moves into our hearts and gives us a NEW life while offering NEW hope for eternity in heaven. He makes us NEW !!
okay so there’s some encouragement for 2018 !! i hope it is super special and amazing and bring you tons of laughter, memories, and joy !! :)
“most of the time I hate change. change means goodbye: to moments or to memories or to people. things I’m not ready to say goodbye to, but sometimes it’s not my choice what or who stays. BUT I guess change isn’t all bad, change gives room to grow and teaches me about the things that matter. change scares me & it makes me feel alone BUT it gives me the opportunity to lean on the Lord and my family and my close friends. change gives me a clean slate. change makes me miss the past BUT it makes me thankful for my present and hopeful for my future. I believe change is the Lord’s way of closing a window to open a door because all though ‘I don’t know what my future holds, I know Who holds my future’”
that’s something I posted on finsta just a little while ago. when I wrote it, I was in my car on my hour drive home and was looking forward to seeing our new renovations. I live in a small, red brick house on the corner. our walls have chipped paint, our doors have no knobs, and we are all a little too close for comfort. but our small house is what has brought my blended family together.
my step sister and I have shared a room for the past 10 years. although we didn’t always get along, it was in this room that we grew from step sisters to best friends to true sisters. in this room, we sang & danced, laughed & cried, and shared our secrets & grew up. but we each have our own rooms now and she feels far away.
I’ve been feeling like the people I was once close to are now far away from me. like I’ve been trapped in a canoe that is drifting away from the shores. like the inland people are still in sight but becoming smaller until they’re indistinguishable from the horizon. like my entire body was engulfed by a horrible fatigue from paddling day after day only to be pulled back by the tide.
for a while this really really made my heart ache. everyday was becoming a little more painful because each day I missed them more. but one day it stopped; then I started healing. when I stopped chasing after the inland people, I looked around and found that I was surrounded by so many people that truly cared and mattered to me and I felt peace about the goodbyes I had to say.
i think before I had been looking at these moments all wrong. instead of goodbyes, i should be saying hello. goodbye to high school, but hello to college. goodbye to an old shared room, hello to a new personal one. goodbye to the inland people, hello to the people of the sea.
senior year comes with so many changes and lasts, so farewells and greetings are unavoidable, and unfortunately the angst that comes with them is rather unavoidable too. so this time has had me clinging not only to the people I love, but to the Lord.
one of my favorite little fun facts about the Bible is that it says “do not fear” 365 times (one for each day :)) !! the Lord echoes this message in one of my favorite scriptures, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” ~Matthew 6:34a.
my mom has this verse hung in one of our stairwells and i can still remember that the first time i saw it. i was running up to my room in tears (i don't remember why i was crying) but when i read it, i had an overwhelming sense of peace.
He offers us that same peace in all our times of trouble or change. each morning, He provides us with a renewed comfort in knowing that we do not have to fear the day ahead and each night He can calm our stormy minds because we know that we do not have to fear for tomorrow. and He gives us new hellos when we are too weary to paddle.
this year I am a senior in high school which means I’m just beginning a final chapter. of course (as with the end of any great novel) I am torn between wanting to skip to the last page to find out how everything unravels and longing to read every last tedious detail of my beloved story.
lover of nature, coffee, writing, dogs, & Jesus