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Thursday, December 8, 2011

i am being made new.

The past few weeks I've really been reflecting on just how much I have grown the past year and a half.

I am a changed woman. I am living for something greater than myself. I am (doing my best) to love all people. And I am trying so hard to surrender to the Lord. To focus and desire what He has for me above all else. To discern when He wants something for me, versus when I want something for myself. To be confident when I feel like the Lord is leading me somewhere...and for courage to follow through without looking back.

I've been going back and reading through old journal entries. I can really see how much I have changed, how much progress there has been. And, much to my surprise, there has been a lot of progress. Prayers have been answered, hearts have been calmed, my future has been made known (for a few months at least). I have a direction and purpose.

This semester has been a really strange season of life. On top of freaking out about the future and trying to figure out where I'm supposed to be, deep-rooted things have consistently been made known to me. The kind of things that literally hurt to think about. It started as really extreme self confidence issues, then led back to constantly thinking about my daddy issues, and now it's onto weird, one-sided relational stuff, if that's even what I'm supposed to call it- I don't even know. Strangely, or not strangely, enough, they are all intertwined. I can see how this is progress- it is and it's GREAT- but I am so ready for this season to be my past. I can see and accept how this is an awesome season of healing, but I just want it to be over.

So, during this process I am clinging onto remembering that this season of my life is not eternal, but temporary. And this temporary season is going to look so good in hindsight. I am clinging onto remembering that the Lord's plan is infinitely greater than my own. I am clinging onto remembering the fact that I am being made new. That I am being healed and restored.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


After over 4 months of counseling, I am seeing progress.
3 months ago, I just wanted to give up. Things were getting stirred up and discovered that I didn't even know before. And I was managing just fine before then. Was there even a point to all of the mess? All of the heartache? All of those tears?

And now- I see that there is. Because I am living it.

I am changing. I am growing. I am slowly moving past this. I am opening up. I am speaking my mind. I am being honest- with myself AND others. I am connecting with myself.

This is just glorious. (And also scary.)
It will be worth it. I see the light.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Perfectionist

According to the Enneagram Personality test, I am a one. "The Perfectionist"
I was upset with my scoring and took the test three times. Each time I got the same outcome. One. I don't want to be a one. So I took on my second place rating, two, "The Helper." Being a helper sounds so much better than being a perfectionist! In counseling a few months ago, we talked about the Enneagram and discovered how fitting it was that I am a one. (What a downer...) I was given a paper that describes the "one". I read through it once and quickly forgot about it. Yesterday I came across it in my journal.
And it is eerily fitting for my life. And so hilarious that I did not want to be a one at first. It is so me.

Perfectionists are realistic, conscientious, and principled. They strive to live up to their high ideals.

How to Get Along with Me
  • Take your share of the responsibility so I don't end up with all the work.
  • Acknowledge my achievements.
  • I'm hard on myself. Reassure me that I'm fine the way I am.
  • Tell me that you value my advice.
  • Be fair and considerate, as I am.
  • Apologize if you have been unthoughtful. It will help me forgive.
  • Gently encourage me to lighten up and to laugh at myself when I get uptight, but hear my worries first.

What I Like About Being a One
  • Being self-disciplined and able to accomplish a great deal.
  • Working hard to make the world a better place.
  • Having high standards and ethics; not compromising myself.
  • Being reasonable, responsible, and dedicated in everything I do.
  • Being able to put facts together, coming to good understandings, and figuring out wise solutions.
  • Being the best I can be and bringing out the best in other people.

What's Hard About Being a One
  • Being disappointed with myself or others when my expectations are not me
  • Feeling burdened by too much responsibility 
  • Not being appreciated for what I do for people
  • Being upset because others aren't trying as hard as I am
  • Obsessing about what I did or what I should do
  • Being tense, anxious, and taking things too seriously

Ones as Children Often
  • Criticize themselves in anticipation of criticism from others.
  • Refrain from doing things they think might not come out perfect.
  • Focus on living up to the expectations of their parents and teachers. (grandparents in my case)
  • Are very responsible; may assume the role of parent.
  • Hold back negative emotions ("good children aren't angry").

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

so long, sweet summer

Summer of 2011 is officially over.
I got an extra week compared to most others. I don't really consider myself lucky for it, because I've been so anxious to start my practicum. So ready to get the show on the road.
And tomorrow I officially start. My very last project of my (super) senior year of college. w.h.o.a.
I will be interning at Catholic Charities, with their Refugee Youth Services program. I'm very excited for it!

I have had an incredibly life-changing summer. It started in Bangalore, India (which I think about on a daily basis) and ended with beginning the rough, difficult, but sure to be wonderful journey of self-discovery.

My summer held some of the greatest experiences of my life- particularly India. It also held some frightening experiences. Sad experiences. And extremely ANGRY experiences. Overall, I am very thankful for each of them. Each one shaped me to become a little different, to rely more on God.

I traveled to Bangalore, India. I traveled back, halfway around the world, by myself. My baby brother graduated high school. I turned another year older. I spent a really great weekend with some fabulous friends in small-town, Florida. I celebrated the fourth of July on a lake with some really great people (where I almost drowned and literally thought I was going to die). I made butterbeer cupcakes and mourned the end of Harry Potter. Forever. I spent an AWESOME day at Disney with some of the greatest. I went on a roadtrip to Miami. I started what is probably the most important journey of my life. And I said good-bye to no less than six really wonderful people....

And now to begin what will probably become the busiest semester of my life!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

the future freaks me out.

I am a planner. I like to know what's going to happen and when. I like to know what to expect. I like to prepare myself. As graduation looms closer (4 months...), I get more stressed out. I have no.clue. what my future holds. NONE. Will I stay in Orlando? Will I move back home (noooooo)? Will I work at Publix forever (PLEASE, NO)?

I entertain myself with different ideas...I will go to grad school, I will get offered an awesome job through my practicum, I will go back to India...but I honestly have no idea what is going to happen. And that scares me. Especially because so many people I know who recently graduated are moving on in awesome ways- grad school, seminary, big-kid jobs, moving halfway around the world, long term mission trips...

I think most of all I'm worried my life won't amount to much.  I'm worried that one day I'll wake up when I'm fifty and think "What happened? Where did my life go?" I know it's a lie I'm believing in my head, but not in my heart. And I don't really know how to get past it.

I don't like this uncertainty my future holds... I know God has great plans for me, I just want to know what they are!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

a moment of peace

I love that moment when you feel an overwhelming amount of peace in your life.
When you feel like it doesn't belong there, but it is anyway.

I've had those moments twice in the past two days.
Life is difficult right now. Things have been brought up that I've never thought about previously. Emotions are getting stirred that I've never felt before, and they are strong emotions.

Thursday, after a particularly difficult time, I was praying and felt a sudden sense of peace. For (what seemed to be) no reason, I was reassured that people really do care about me. That this is going to get easier.

And yesterday, I was reading a book called TrueFaced and it was discussing sin and wearing masks. In regards to sin (done to us): "We may try to ignore it or stuff it away, but though it may lay dormant for a while, unresolved sin is always buried alive." I am unwillingly wearing a mask due to sin done to me, which is extremely frustrating. So I was praying that I keep in mind that God is a "big picture God." That the things I experience now are nothing compared to what my life is going to be. That they are just pieces of a puzzle. And 2 Corinthians 4 came to mind.

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

How comforting....
so thankful to serve a God that cares for my life and future more than I can even imagine. 
And praying I can remember it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life is hard.

Some days are harder than others- which is how I've been feeling recently.

This has been my go-to song. It speaks directly to my heart.
Thank you, Bryce Avary.

It's hard trying to hold on
With all that I have lost
It all seems so wrong
But I trust in you, oh God

So will you hold me?
As I'm crushed, my heart is in pieces
And although I'm strong when I bleed
Right now, I'm just too weak

Peace, come over you

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Not Goodbye, Not Really...

This morning at 2am my childhood officially ended. I was sitting in a movie theater full of fellow Potterheads, with tears coming down my face- shocked that it was really over. We have come to the end. 

I remember the first time I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I was nine-years-old and there was a month until Chamber of Secrets was to be released. After Chamber of Secrets was released, I remember being so disappointed that I had to wait multiple months until the next book was released...
And now, 13 years later- I have read the books more times than I can even count, I was in a Harry Potter club in high school, I took a Harry Potter literature course in college, I went to midnight book releases, I went to midnight movie premiers, I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on its Grand Opening, I went to a Harry Potter convention, I have dressed up as Hagrid several times....

I grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. 
I studied with Hermione. I laughed with Ron. I battled with Harry. I pulled pranks with Fred and George. I forgot with Neville. I believed in the unbelievable with Luna. I loved with the Weasleys. I got detentions from Snape. I trusted with Dumbledore. 

I am, and always will be, a part of the Harry Potter Generation. 

2007- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book release 

2007- Last day of Harry Potter class

2010- Grand Opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

2010- Infinitus with my good pal Dumbledore 

2010- Overjoyed to be at the happiest place on Earth

2011- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2 movie premiere 

I have stuck with Harry until the very end.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So far, this has been a summer of self discovery. I have been seeing a counselor for about a month now, and while that is not a lot of time, I have learned so much about myself.

As an Early Childhood major, I know how important the early childhood years are for everyone. I never really thought about the impact my early childhood years had on me, however, until seeing my counselor and writing a paper for my infant/toddler class. The assignment was to write about something that happened as an infant, which has affected you throughout your life. I decided to write about not forming an attachment with my father. My counselor and I are convinced that this paper did not coincide with my sessions by accident, but that it was placed there in God's perfect timing. Last week I brought up this paper, and we started going in deeper than I wanted...

I have a hard time believing what happened to me as an infant affects me today because I do not specifically remember those experiences. My counselor told me multiple times that just because you don't remember something, doesn't mean it didn't affect you.

Things happened that make me sick if I even think about them. They are so hard to hear, and even harder to accept...

Monday, June 6, 2011

you were born for such a time as this

I went to India.
And it changed me to the core.

It was nothing I had ever seen before and meant everything to me. It is so different from the comfortable American lifestyle we all live. There was no air-conditioning, I slept on a mattress two inches thick filled with hay, I bathed out of a bucket- but those "discomforts" meant nothing to me.

The kids... They are so incredible. They have lived through pasts you don't even want to imagine, but are so full of life and joy. They don't let their past define them. They are moving on from it. They embrace the fact that they are set free. They have real, authentic joy. I love them so much, even after spending just a week with them. I grew especially close with the little girls (who's surprised?) and I miss them all dearly. I miss playing cards, four-square, and the "lap game." I miss attempting to play badmitten. (I was SO bad!) I miss hearing "Nicole akka, come play with me!"

These kids are so very in love with Jesus. They live in a country that discourages Christianity; less than 2% of the Indian population is Christian. Yet they love Him with everything. And here I am, in America, where Christianity is more "common" and "acceptable," and I have such a difficult time giving myself to Christ. They are unafraid to minister to their brothers and sisters, and to us- practically strangers. They are open to what the Lord is telling them and they freely speak what they have heard. These kids spoke words into areas of my life I've never talked to anyone about. It was an incredible experience and I have so much to learn from them.

We spent two awesome nights with them in prayer and worship. I was moved to tears each night. They sang this song both nights...when I listen to it I can still hear them singing it. This song is so incredibly fitting for the home. It's called The Anthem by Jake Hamilton.

The hardest part about this trip was returning home. Back to the high-maintenance American lifestyle. Back to buying more groceries than we ever need. Back to living more comfortably than people can even imagine. Back to buying new clothes, when we have clothes we don't even wear. Back to caring more about tabloids than what's taking place overseas. I have so much, but I still want more. Now that I have experienced a third-world country, I have such conflicting feelings. Is it wrong that I have so much, when some people have so little? I was praying about my guilt of having so much, after experiencing a country with so little, and came across Ecclesiastes 5:19- "Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work- this is a gift from God." Multiple people have said that I don't need to feel guilty... if I did not have the resources, I never would have gone to India. I can take what I learned during my time in India and encourage and share it with others. It's time to start believing it and living it out.

I think of India and the kids every day. On my last night there, one girl said, "See you in the years to come, akka." They will be seeing me again... They have six-month internships and that has really been on my heart. It's time to start praying.

Writing this was really hard...SO MUCH happened. I don't know how my brain holds it all- if you want to hear stories, let's hang out.

You can't change India in two weeks, but in two weeks India can change you. -Andy

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The other day at work I realized I've been feeling really unworthy and unmotivated recently. I don't feel adequate unless I have a packed schedule. I used to think I just enjoyed being busy, but now I realize that I need to be busy to feel accomplished. And I just feel so unfulfilled.

After having a lazy weekend (which isn't supposed to be a bad thing, right?), I felt terrible on Monday.
I think some of this stems from having a very easy schedule this semester, while most everyone else is overwhelmed in their schoolwork. I'm a senior. I'm supposed to be overwhelmed, too...right? Even while I was at work, actually doing something with my time, I felt like I wasn't doing enough. Is it because school isn't stressing me out this semester? That I don't have a mile-long to do list? That I don't have plans taking up every hour of my day? I know I should treasure and embrace this time, because the fall semester is going to be crazy with my practicum on top of working, but it is just so hard.

So now, I will try to rest and be happy in this place I am at.

Monday, February 28, 2011

This weekend (which was basically incredible) the Lord pushed me into two things that I've really been struggling with recently...

At women's retreat, my struggles with trust and forgiveness (which leads to so many other problems) were consistently illuminated. For the past year I've really been struggling to forgive and move on, but it's proving to be extremely difficult, which is disheartening. It's been a year and I thought I'd at least be in the healing process by now- how immature of me. This is something I've lived with for almost my entire life- how did I possibly think I'd be free of it in just a year?

"God will allow your heart to forgive when He knows you are ready."
This was spoken to me this weekend and it is a hard thing for me to grasp... What do you mean I'm not the one who's in charge of forgiving, but God is? This is something I need to give Him, but I can't. I feel like since it's my "baggage," I'm the one who needs to sort it out. Which leads to trust- do I not trust Him to place forgiveness in my heart? Or is it because I don't want to forgive? I've lived with this for so long.. I can't imagine my heart and life without it, even though I know it will be a sweet life. Or do I think forgiveness isn't deserved? I want to so badly say "NO! He does NOT deserve to be forgiven..."
Matthew 18:21-23. Why am I so hesitant? Why is this so hard?

At Summit last night, Isaac spoke on pride and judgement, which is a part of my life I'm just recently beginning to sense I struggle with. I have never in a million years thought I was one to be prideful, so this is a really difficult thing for me to grasp. But I am prideful, and recognizing that really hurts. How in the world am I a prideful person? I probably have more problems than anyone else; what makes me even think I'm better than them? Since when did I become so self-righteous?

It is so clear that the Lord desires more from me, but it's so hard for me to give more until I'm past these struggles... and I desire more from the Lord, but it's so hard to accept it until I'm past these struggles...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One day last week I was browsing through the "Christian Inspiration" section of Barnes&Noble. As I was leafing through C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, a man standing next to me struck up a conversation. I normally tend to shy away from conversation with strangers, especially males, but for some reason I felt compelled to go more in depth with my conversation with him. During our conversation he kept saying things like, "I don't really know why I'm talking to you."

He started by asking what pastors or authors I enjoy. I listed off the few authors I've read works from, and he started spewing off author after author I should read. One thing he said to me was "You can't get what you need to know from other people, you need to go directly to Jesus." At first I didn't really understand what he was trying to say, but now that I have reflected on it, I have more of an understanding of what he was saying, and it actually does apply to my life. I try to read a lot books by Christian authors, so I can gain more of an understanding into the many aspects of Christianity.  Many times, actually most times, I would prefer reading what they have to say about Jesus and being a follower of Him, rather than go directly to The Bible. I rely on the knowledge they have to offer me.

He asked me a lot of questions, many I didn't really know how to answer. "How are you living evangelically?" was the one that struck me most, because during community group the prior night, I asked for prayer in that area of my life. As much as it frightens me, spreading the gospel is something I'm required to do as a follower of Jesus Christ. I told him that is something I'm really struggling with, and he said that our life goal as Christians is to spread the love of Jesus. I mentioned that I worry I'll say the wrong thing, which will turn that person away. He said I didn't need to worry about that, because God will provide me with all of the knowledge I need to know...that God will speak through me. As much as I know that, I don't really believe it.

This man's act of sparking a conversation with me really touched my heart, as I think about it more and more. He spoke wisdom into places of my life I didn't even realize needs redirection- he brought awareness to it.

He left before I got the chance to thank him, and I'm praying that the Lord makes sure he's aware of how much I deeply appreciate what he did for me. I pray he has assurance for how he is living his life, because he's made an impact on at least one person.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lately I've been having this urge- actually it's probably more of a need- to write, so I decided it's about time I dust off my long-lost blog. 

Recently thoughts have been swimming around my head at a million miles an hour- I need to pick a site for practicum next semester, I need to begin volunteering this semester, I'm going to INDIA this  summer, I'm graduating in December, what do I do with my life after I graduate??- I want to continue my education, I want to travel, I want to impact the lives of children, I want to LIVE my life! 
Dear brain, Slow down.. I can only take so much of this. It's overwhelming!

I'm going to INDIA this summer... for longest time I didn't think it was going to happen, and I was trying my hardest to be okay with it, but it was proving to be extremely difficult. Everything got settled into place and it turns out I AM able to go... then another obstacle was thrown in my path- my brother graduates high school a few days before the anticipated return date. There is absolutely no way I can live with myself if I miss his high school graduation.  I was ready to give up when I talked with a sweet friend after an afternoon of crazy frustration & tears, and we decided it would be best if I asked to return just a few days early. And it IS!

And now I'm struggling with being okay in leaving before the rest of the team... flying halfway around the world by myself, being alone with intense thoughts for twentyfour hours, missing a few days at the children's home, and- I'm aware of how extremely selfish this is of me & I wish it had no effect on me- possibly missing a two-day stop in France. I'm praying for peace of mind, acceptance, and patience when it comes to leaving early- because I know this is what has to happen. I'm waiting for these pleasant feelings to fall upon me when it comes to this minuscule piece of this mission trip... because either way, I will be spending almost two weeks in India this summer. 
And it will be incredible.