Sunday, November 27, 2011


In the leftover season of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share what I’m most thankful for this year. Certainly, I’ve had quite the adventures lately. Amazing opportunities to live in cities I wouldn’t have seen myself in just a year and half ago. I’ve met the most amazing, and intelligent people. I’ve experienced so much joy. Today, it’s the culmination of the experiences that have defined my life that I’m most thankful for.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I know that I don’t always understand that reason. In fact, I would venture to say I don’t fully comprehend any of it. I don’t know how things in my past, will affect my present and my future, but I know that it’s important to be thankful for those things. I’m thankful for all the events that lead to me moving to Arkansas, for every loss and every goodbye, for every friend and foe, for relationships that didn’t work out, for every class I’ve struggled through, for every bridge that was burned and rebuilt, for every lesson I’ve learned, all the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve seen. It’s all of these things that have made me into the person that I am, laying here in bed, right at this very moment. I don’t particularly think I’m a great person, but I realize where I am and where I’ve been to get here. I look at my past and I know that today will become my past as well.

Everyday we grow and we learn and we figure out and we take those things with us. We have to forgive, we have to love, and we have to be adaptable to whatever comes with each passing day. Today is here, but tomorrow is coming and I like to think that tomorrow, I’ll be better than I am today.

So here’s the analogy I have: mountain climbers. I’ve never climbed a mountain, but I imagine it to be very difficult. Life is the mountain and at the beginning we start off at the bottom, naked and new. As each day passes, you learn more about this mountain. You experience the failures and you make your attempts better and smarter. And maybe you’re at the bottom for a long time. Who cares? It’s not a race it’s a challenge. And each time you fail, you learn something new. You have this new tool. Knowing what doesn’t work, is just as important as knowing what will. All these experiences become the gear we need. Pretty soon we’re clothed and have spikey shoes and a helmet and a rope and you’ve made friends who are also trying to climb this mountain. You now know what they know and together you’ve tried together and struggled together and succeeded together. And even if someone leaves your pack, you still have what they knew and the experiences that you had together. It takes everything to climb this mountain and now it seems completely possible.

It’s going to take all of our resources to get through life sometimes. Part will be easy and parts will be hard, but without knowing how difficult parts have been, we won’t appreciate the parts that aren’t so bad. And without remembering the struggles and all the time we spent at the bottom, and every time we’ve failed, we won’t appreciate the view at the top. And we make it to the top, and satisfaction has a sweet taste.

I think that God gets us there. That He hands us mini challenges to accomplish this overall goal. And maybe the mountain isn’t all of life; maybe this mountain is just the first. Maybe when we get to top, God shows us all the other mountains out there just waiting to be climbed. Either way, it’s a team effort. And challenges will bring out the best and worse in us, but it’s how we move forward that matters. It’s how we make these experiences count that matters.

I love you. I’m so thankful that I have you to share my experiences with. I’m thankful that you keep me accountable. I’m thankful that I have you to help me remember all that we’ve learned and to be on this journey with me. Where ever and whomever you are, we’re in this together and you are loved.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Relax, Relapse

Do you remember that band Panic at the Disco? Yeah me neither…ok I went through a phase where I listened to them every day. Sure, I didn’t know what most of the songs were even talking about at the time, but now I do and it’s crazy how random things trigger memories of songs that lead to titles of posts.

We’re friends, so I trust you. I have to tell you why it’s been so hard to blog lately (or blog and then not even post it on Facebook because I don’t really want anyone to read it), if you haven’t figured it out by now that is. I had a pretty rough last year. Not as bad as what other people go through, but certainly not great. I had to rely on God ALL the time. I had to pray EVERY DAY. I would cry on a regular basis for the state I was in. And through all that, God gave me all these wonderful opportunities to get away. To move to Australia, to work, to be in Texas, I knew it was a Godsend. I prayed that I would do what God wanted me to do in these places. I prayed that I would be a light to the people that I met and lived and worked with. That I embody the fruits of the spirit and that people would know on whose side I stood.

As you know, it went downhill as soon as I left school basically. It wasn’t that I was necessarily doing anything wrong, but I wasn’t doing anything right. I wasn’t even trying. When I left Arkansas, I left everything that I had learned and felt and I was free. Kind of. My life was perfect, so I had nothing to lean on God for. I was walking on my own and I chose to not walk away, but to just stand up on my own.

So over the course of the past 10 months I just lived. I met new people. I made lots of new friends. I got crazy over a boy and then got over it. I traveled. I loved. I ate. I adventured. I was free.

At a lot of times on this journey I’ve stopped and thought about God and the fact that I was no longer letting Him carry me. And then I changed the subject in mind because of the amount of guilt I had feeling like I had let Him down. I couldn’t tell to you about what I was doing or up to, because it wasn’t anything that pertained to my purpose. I felt like I had been given all this under the pretense that I would do great things with my opportunity, and I didn’t. I couldn’t tell you and let you down. So I didn’t tell you anything. I knew I couldn’t keep it from God, but instead of facing it and asking Him what to do next, I just avoided Him. I didn’t look for signs because I didn’t want to see His disappointment in them. I didn’t want a lecture about how I messed up this opportunity. I felt like I had been given $10 for charity and instead I spent it on whatever I could get myself.

I started blogging recently about nothings. They were rambles and a mere attempt to get back into it. I focused on the soapbox that I could stand on, because it’s easy for me to talk about what I believe in. It’s not nearly as easy to look in the mirror and tell myself to give up doing this on my own.

This weekend I was in Dallas and I went to church on Sunday with Danae. This was the first time in almost a year that we had been able to do so, and almost six months since I had last seen her. It was great! Of course. I walked into the church (late, sorry), and I knew she was singing in the choir so I just started looking for her onstage. It took me a while to decide which one she was. Not only does she look entirely different than when I saw her last, she was super passionate while singing up there. It was strange because I’ve never seen someone I know so well like that. Someone I care about so much, and want the absolute best for to exemplify something I want. Or I know I wanted at some point. I’m not sure what I want right now.

As the afternoon went on I got to know her cousin and her story and talking to Danae about how far she’s come and I was just overwhelmed. I told them that what I had been struggling with was knowing I was a disappointment but wanting to come back. I’ve just been so afraid that it was too late. Or maybe that I didn’t even really want to change. Or that I would mess up again. That this would make me a hypocrite. That eventually I’d use up all my get out of jail free cards and maybe it would be best to continue to not be perfect until I knew, without any hesitation I could do it. I couldn’t decide in the moment, so I thought I’d just wait it out. Despite the urge I had to tell you about my afternoon.

Last night I went for a swim. Try not to laugh. Yes, I’ve missed being in the water, and I know it’s a great workout so I gave it a shot and I’m terrible, but I’ll stick with it. All the lanes were full last night, so I asked a girl if I could share hers and she graciously complied. She obviously knew what she was doing and while I wanted to ask for help, I just kept to myself and continued to struggle. Then she started talking to me. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but I can tell you how it ended. She said something and eventually I asked for advice on breathing and she helped me and gave me some tips and was really helpful. She told me about when she started and the difficulties she had and it’s a lot like what I’ve been going through. She finished her swim and left and I stayed a while longer. When I went to pick up my things, I saw that she had left me a note. It said “You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.” Philippians 4:13 with her name and number. Now I know what you’re thinking, why would she do that? We didn’t talk about hanging out or go into depth about our lives. I certainly didn’t spill my guts about my struggles. And somehow you can’t look at this and not see it as a sign. Divine intervention. Sure, she was talking about swimming but when I read the verse, a verse we’ve all heard so many times, it struck a different chord.

I think that God was not only telling me that if I wanted to do this, I would need Him, but that it was ok. At church I had asked Him to just meet me where I am. I didn’t ask anything else, because like I said, I don’t even know what I want. That’s what He did. I didn’t ask for a sign and I didn’t specifically ask for forgiveness, but God met me where I was and just told me it was going to be ok. I realized that while I thought I was standing on my own, I wasn’t. As hard as I was pushing and kicking and trying to be on my own, I was never far from His grip because He knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. He knew I would fail. He knew I wouldn’t be perfect. And He knew I would be here eventually. But looking back on the past 10 months, I know for a fact it could have been worse.

So this is what I want you to take from this…

I make mistakes and I am a big screw up. And just because I don’t say it out loud or tell you, doesn’t mean God already didn’t know. He also knew that when I was ready for Him to meet me where I was, He would be there. I know that God’s strength comes with limitations or conditions, so I’m not sure why it was hard for me to accept the forgiveness He had already promised me. I don’t think that just because I’ve messed up, He’ll deny what I need. I can do it. With His help. I can mess up and come back and He’ll still be there with all the same promises as before. The same goes for you. Where ever you are. Whatever you’ve done. Where ever you stand, He’ll meet you where you are when you ask. You can do it. With His help. And He’ll do big things without being asked.

Relax; don’t be so hard on yourself. Throughout our lives I think that we will constantly be relapsing back and forth. Some mistakes will be really big and alter everything, others will be easy to recover from, but relapsing to sin is to be expected. Luckily, we always have the choice to relapse back into God, we just have to make some notion to let Him know.

I love you, and I’m human and am limited to human love. God loves you too, and He’s not limited at all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where Am I Going Now?

Hello there. It’s me. Just me.
Nothing particularly interesting has happened lately and everything all at the same time. In the past week I’ve been disappointed, and excited. I’ve changed my mind. I’ve made decisions. I’ve been frustrated and then refreshed. I’ve felt really good about my life and then really not good. All in one week!
I haven’t been blogging much lately. I know why. Kind of. But I’ll tell you all about that some other time. Right now is just about this past week.
I realize that no matter where I stand in respect to God, He’s still there. I don’t know why. I’ve never known why and I never know how things will turn out.
Part of what I love about having a blog, is that I know I can tell you anything. Because I tell you the big things, it’s easier to see what role these big events had in my life and helping me get to where I am.
The point is I can only see it, because I have proof of emotion and events written in my own words. No matter how dramatic they tend to be, I understand myself. And I know where I am now and how things in my past have shaped me. I’ll never know if it’s what God had in mind, but I like to think that it is. So because I know where the big things have gotten me (in my own opinion), I want to try to keep better track of all the little things too.
So here’s a quick update on the past week and plans I’ve made lately…

One big thing is that I am being interviewed on Friday for an internship! Or co-op, I’m not sure if they’ve decided, so I left it open. On the one hand, I’m really excited. I don’t remember applying, but I did. And it’s for a manufacturing company I wouldn’t initially think to work at, but we’ll see where it goes. On the other hand, I’m really nervous. This isn’t a company where I know someone. I don’t know anyone who has ever worked here before and I will be the only student from a non-Texas school. I don’t think I’ve ever been so intimidated in my life and somehow I have to cover that up and show that I’m qualified for this. I’ll keep you updated.
My sister is officially 40 weeks on Thursday. I’m fine. I swear I’m excited for him to be here. I still feel like I’m losing her, but only time will tell the distance. Until then, I am still excited for him to get here already.
I have this big trip to New York planned for December to see some friends I made in Australia. I decided to lessen my trip by coming home early. Nox will be here and I don’t want to give up time with him and my sister and family before school starts again. It’s not ideal to pay to move things around, but that’s what I get for making rash decisions. In accordance with this trip, I’ve decided to start the trip with another trip. To Chicago! I’m excited. And nervous. In equal amounts.
My mom officially lives in Texas again. It’s strange because neither of us has lived here since my dad died and now, all of a sudden, it’s bringing back loads of strange feelings. Not exactly natural, yet familiar. Thinking about him still makes me want to cry. I’ll work through it I’m sure.
Eastman is a struggle. I like it alright. I like all the projects I’m working on, I’m just not sure it’s for me. People are friendly and helpful but I’m not sure this is somewhere I could be long term. I’m not sure if this is where I really see myself. Something about this doesn’t feel right. In other work news, there’s big stuff going on this week so we’re working 12 hour shifts, 5:30 to 5:30. I’m not a fan of getting to work when it’s dark and leaving work when it’s almost dark. I know this will soon be the case everyday because of the time change and it will just be interesting to see what changes.

Well, I’m pretty sure that’s it. Some of this may be completely meaningless. It could all honestly be meaningless, but maybe it’s not. And it’s the maybe that will keep me wondering and hopeful. I’m not sure where I’m going next, but I want you to be there with me. I’ll be there for you in return.

I love you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

But I'm the Baby.

Whaaaat? 2 blogs within a 4 week's sheer madness.

Well this is just more of a funny story to tell you just how ridiculous I am. I hope you laugh.

My sister is my best friend. She's 11 years older than I am which means that when I was little, she was old enough for me to idolize. Sometimes people would point out pictures of her to me and I'd say that it was me. When I was in first grade I vividly remember getting in trouble for writing her name down on my paper instead of my own. My sister has the most beautiful curly hair, so I used to sleep in rollers so that my hair could look like hers, it never did. I started dance lessons because I remember her costumes. There are videos of tiny me dancing and singing and being ridiculous because my sister would tell me to. I remember my sister teaching me to tell time. To drive. She told me a joke about having "kid knees." I remember that after she'd drop me off, I'd cry because just loved her so much. Pure love :)

As I grew up, she became very influential in developing this sense of learning. From taking me to zoos to the Science Place and museums, that's where it all started. Why I want to see and experience the world. She's not only the reason I love it, but the reason I know that I can. That I can do anything I set my mind to. She's inspiring.

I don't remember a lot about when my dad died or the time around then. I know that it took the same toll on her that it did me. Maybe worse in different ways. What I do know, is that when I decided to ask questions, I could turn to her. I could cry. We could both cry. We could be completely silent on two ends of phones, states and an ocean apart, and having a full conversation.

When my sister was getting married, I was nothing but excited. I never thought twice about what it meant for us, which is good, because it didn't change anything about us at all. We're best friends. We get mad at each other. She tells me I use too many exclamation points, I tell secrets I'm not supposed to (still to be debated). But I love her more than anything. I would do anything for her and give her anything I could, and I know that she would do the same for me.

My sister is within 2 weeks of having a baby.

I have been so excited for 8 1/2 months about Lennox Patrick Luttrell joining this family and the ridiculousness that is our relationship. I've loved him and been excited and prayed for him since I knew he'd be around. but last week it hit me. My sister, my best friend was about to be someones mom.

I'm not sure why I didn't think about this sooner, but I was sitting at work and I panicked and I just started crying.

Seriously?! I couldn't wait 15 more minutes to leave work to burst into tears over the most childish moment of my post teenage years?

But there it was. Maybe the most selfish I've felt in a long time. Maybe it's just because it's fresh on my mind.

She's not going to be mine. She can't be my best friend. Even though she won't be working, she won't be able to text me as much. What if I need her? What if she's the only one that'll understand?

What if she likes the baby more than me.

My whole life, I've been the youngest. I never had to share. I never had to fight for attention. I was automatically the favorite because I was the only one around. I've always been the baby.

At this point, you may be laughing. Which is good. I'm very dramatic. While this is how I felt, I worded it so that hopefully you'd find humor in my predicament. Onward....

So I realized I had this terrible older child syndrome. Not really because he won't be my little brother, but I am equally being dethroned. It sucks.

I'm not sure how this will play out. Certainly, you can say, "oh, she'll always be your sister" "she still loves you very much" "blahblahblah," but things will be different. It has to be. That's life. It's what makes us adaptable, change.

Well, I thought talking about it would make me feel better, but it didn't. I am still the most selfish person I know I right now. I am also still torn, because I am super pumped to have a little person that I can hopefully be as important to as my sister has been for me.

Nox, if you ever read this, I really do love you. I am excited for you. I can't wait to meet you and hold you and teach you everything I know.

This isn't Facebook worthy. It's terribly written. There's no hopeful message. There's really no lesson learned. Yet.

I guess that's where we part ways. One day I'll look back on this and it'll help me get through something else. I'm being prepared, I just don't know why or for what or when I'll need this, but I know that day is coming.

I love you too, you know. And I hope that you love me. Even when I'm dramatic and selfish.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I am We

Well here I am. 5 months since my last post. They certainly have gotten to have more space in between them. And between this and my last post you'd think I'd permanently moved onto a soapbox. But I don't care. Not right now at least.

I'm sure if you're my friend on Facebook, you may think I'm an eyesore right about now. From political nonsense that I've been posting to the posts about all the executions I've been learning about lately.

More importantly right now is about the latter, but I'm almost positive the former will come up again. Probably in a post.

Now, when asked in the past, I could very easily tell you I was pro-life. I only realized recently just how pro-life I was and exactly what that meant to me.

It all started a few weeks ago when Megs got me hooked on politics. I can officially tell you about any candidate running and have well rounded opinions on all of them. My least favorite candidate happens to be the frontrunner. I realized he was my least favorite candidate when he was asked a question concerning whether it had ever phased him that he had executed more people in his 11 years as governor than anyone else anywhere else. Not only did he say no, but the crowd actually started applauding when they announced the official total at 234.

Don't worry, my opinion will come.

This lead us to looking into all these executions to find cases not only where people who's guilt was questionable, but cases where the sentencing was based on race. One such case was suppose to be coming to a close last week at the execution of another man. His guilt was not in question, everyone knows he did it. The problem is that to be sentenced to death in Texas, they have to have reason to believe that you'd probably commit this crime or be violent again in the future. Without ever meeting this man, a psychiatrist said he should be put to death based on his race and the jury accepted that. They stayed his execution last minute.

Because of all the commotion that Duane Buck's case had brought up, we noticed that another individual was going to be executed in Georgia, Troy Davis. This case has been widely publicized and covered by just about every kind of media worldwide there possibly was. While they were once positive this man killed a cop who was coming to the aid of a homeless man, 7 of the 9 eye witnesses recanted they're stories. One of the 2 that didn't recant was the man that not only turned Troy Davis in, but was the other man with Davis involved in the crime. A couple of the people that recanted said that they were coerced into blaming Davis and a couple said that Sylvester Coles (the other man) admitted to having shot Officer MacPhail. Who's telling the truth? Well, honestly I don't think we'll ever know.

I haven't cried much lately, but both of the times I have recently have to do with these 2 men. The first, because I was reminded of just how merciful God is. And the second was when the Supreme Court denied another stay to Troy Davis an hour ago.

I don't think it's fair. It's a complete travesty. Execution doesn't provide justice, it creates resentment, hate, and holes in the hearts of his loved ones.

I guess you can see which side of the fence I'm on.

It makes most sense to me. I think I can Biblically support what I believe in. I would argue it with anyone. Even after everything that I've been through, there's not a doubt in my mind that 2 murders don't bring anyone back and that "an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Gandhi.

So as I sat praying, for (I'll admit) the second time in the past 2 weeks, I asked that God find another way to save him. To stop this because I knew He could. My clock said 10:07 and I just didn't know what to think. I knew it would start after 10, from following a live blog of updates, but I kept thinking that news would come that there was a power outage or a shift was changing or there had been a big misunderstanding or they just changed their minds because it didn't feel right. And that's when I started this...but shortly, very shortly thereafter:

"Georgia inmate Troy Davis was executed Wednesday night for the 1989 murder of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah police officer.

Davis died at 11:08 p.m. ET, according to a prison official. The execution was about four hours later than initially scheduled, because prison officials waited for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Davis' request for a stay."

That's it. Just like that he's gone and I just kinda feel sick. Nothing about this seems right or natural. I'm trying to figure out where I was when God came down and gave humans the right to start killing each other off. The last thing I heard on the subject is don't murder, don't seek revenge, turn the other cheek, and leave it Him. But I very easily could have missed it. Probably while I was in Australia. And as I sat here thinking about how unfair it was, God reminded me of my very first post. The one about Trent. I remember when he died. I remember not only thinking about how unfair it was, but how young he was and how noble he was. I remember that I wrote him a letter, that I put in the box with many others, and that I said that I knew there was a purpose for everything, sometimes we're patient enough to wait for it and other times we're just blinded by emotion, but that doesn't make His plan any less prevalent.

So that's what I've been thinking about. What does God want me to do with this? How is this helping me become who I'm supposed to be? Why has this been on my heart lately? Why am I so convicted in how I feel? Why do I care about criminals?

I can't say for sure. I don't know what His plans are, but I think it's because I know the feeling. I think it's because I'm a sinner. Because I'm learning that I'm not any better than they are and that eventually my sins will weigh out equally. I think it's because He knew He'd get my attention. I think it's to remind me that bad things happen to good people so that other good people can step up and be more like Jesus. I think I'm supposed to step up. I think Troy's death is going to send shock waves of change that inspire people to be different. To think different. To act different. To believe differently. His life may have ended, but I think this is just the beginning.

In the face of despair, tragedy, and injustice, we have to believe in God and the work He's still doing not only in us, but through us. Even when we don't realize it. Even in our deaths.

Well, I love.

Yes, I love you. But I also just love because that's what I was asked to do. Unconditionally. Non-judgmentally. Everyone. Everywhere. All the time. No matter what. Because that's what He does for me. And for you. And for Duane Buck. And for Troy Davis. We are just who we are (thank you, Ke$ha). I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together (thank you Beatles).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

King of Everything

I'm going to say it. And you might not be happy about it, but happiness isn't the bigger issue here.

First, you should know that I love God. I love Him by every name you could possibly give Him, and there are hundreds...and I love every single one. They are all the same to me. The same being in our ever present existence.

I cried the other day for what you may think is really silly. It was the first time I've cried since I've been here and I'm pretty sure it was the first time I've ever cried over something that wasn't completely selfish. But I’ll get to that…

Last summer, I visited a different church almost every Sunday. In Baton Rouge, it was a different religion every week. For no reason in particular, really, other than that's just the way it worked out. When I came home, I knew I needed a church to go start going to. Danae and I visited lots of churches and talked about each one after, until we found one that was the perfect fit for us both.

Last semester, I took a trip to Salt Lake City for AIChE, where I started learning a lot about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Soon after realizing how little I really knew about them, and what they believe, I also realized I knew very little about what any other religions believed. So when I was looking through classes to take here, I considered religious classes, since none are offered at the U of A. Because World Religions wasn't offered at a time I could take it, I decided to take Islam. And why not? It's a major world religion that I knew absolutely nothing about and has been spotlighted lately.

I've been in the class for 7 weeks now, and I love it. At first, I was bummed, because I wanted to talk about the theology of it the whole time, instead of learning about the culture and history as well...but I've loved every part it. If I hadn't learned the history, I wouldn't have learned that everyone really does have an ugly side. That Christians haven't always been as great as most, including myself, may think. The things that were going on behind the slogan "God's wills it" might honestly horrify you. It did me. And I'm not saying that Muslims didn't do their fair share of wrong-doings, but it's one thing for everyone to be aware of it, and another to be hypocritical of it.

Where to begin? Well, I'm not Muslim, I know that better now then I did at the beginning of the semester. I never intended on converting, I only meant to learn a different side of God. What they think, how they feel, and why. And they are a very religious group of people. More religious than some if not most of my Christian friends. I'm not trying to offend anyone; I hope you know that. I'm just stating what I've learned. They not only believe and profess but they live it. They are doers.

Among the slides of history and theology, my professor puts up verses from the Qur'an that stand behind what he teaches. Now, I know how they feel about the Qur'an, who it was written by, what it stands for and where the Bible falls into place among Muslims, but that’s not the bigger issue either. My point is on judgment.

One verse says “Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him.” Qur’an, 112:1-4.

This seemed to raise a number of concerns when I made it my status on Facebook. As I suppose I should have seen coming, but I didn't, because I just don't see things the way most people do. Maybe I'm wrong, but this is what I believe. This is what is inside of me. It comes from the same place that makes me cry. It's what makes me, me. It's who God made me and I know it's playing a major role in the person He's helping me to become.

So here it goes: I loved it. I loved a verse in the Qur'an. As it turns out, I love a lot of verses from the Qur'an. I love things about Islam too. Not everything, but some things. And I don’t agree with a lot of things, but I do some things. And for me, there's nothing wrong with that. I learned something in class, and I wanted to share it. Not to convert or offend anyone, but just to share. For me, it would be no different from putting a quote from an author, or song lyrics.

At this point, you may be wondering...Well if you're so ok with what you're doing, then why get upset? That's simple. I knew people didn't have a problem with the words; it was the fact that I was quoting from the Qur'an and that's why I cried. I knew that if I had just put up the quote, and not put where I had gotten it from, lots of people would have liked it. And why not? All it says is that God is the ultimate. There's no lie in what the verse says. No one would have cared if I had said I heard it in a song, or even if it was just my opinion or if I had found it worded so eloquently written in the sand. And I can't speak for God, but for me that's wrong.

Just so you know: Muslims believe in the same God. There are differences, of course, as with any religion. But ultimately, He is the same God for Muslims. He's the same God for a lot of religions. And they all love and worship Him.

It's one thing for people to not like me, fine. Don't like me. Don't like what I have to say. I didn't cry because it hurt me or my feelings. I cried because I think it's a truly sad day when people forget to love and decide to judge instead. Instead of having a yearning to learn, they decide to criticize what they don’t fully understand. And that’s what this boils down to. Let’s judge what other people believe in, even if I know nothing about them.

I love Yahweh. I love Allah. I love Elohim. I love Him in every language. He is King of everything. Not just Christians. Not just Jews. Everything. He made every plant, animal, and bug in love. Everything was done in love. And for me, Christianity is supposed to be about love, acceptance, and forgiveness. If Jesus wasn't put on this earth to judge, then what gives us the right to think that we can?

When Jesus was here, he never said he couldn’t be around someone. He was with lepers, tax collectors, Jews, and Gentiles: sinners all the same. “…for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). And Romans 3:9 talks entirely about how we are all the same, “Shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.”

I believe that the world would be a much better place if we got rid of all the Us vs Them complexes and we all decided to love everything the way He loves everything and the way He still loves us. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

I judge people sometimes. People walking down the street. People at the train station. People in my classes. People in the library. I do. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m not even saying I should try to be. It’s about acceptance. This isn’t just about Christians and Muslims, it’s about judging every book by its cover, and I’m going to make a serious attempt to stop. To love everything God made because He loves me and I don’t deserve it.

I’m also not saying you should go out and learn all about other religions. Maybe you want to, and that’s fine, and if you don’t, that’s fine too. We are all different. Every person unique to themselves. We should appreciate that in everyone. Every color. Every religion.

My point is made clearly by some wise words from a friend: “No matter what other people believe in, we serve a God who loves them all.”

If God loves everyone, then so should we. It’s that simple.

I love you. No matter what you believe and how it may contrast in what I believe. I love you even if you don’t love me.

And I hope you have a great day. Or night, of course. Depending on the hemisphere you're in.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Silver Linings

Hello. You. There.

I didn't really know where to go after my last blog. What do I blog about if I don't blog about myself? Well, that may be the point. Perhaps for a while I'll focus less on me and rules here and there and more on everything else in between.

I have no revelational thoughts. Just something I learned in my Aboriginal Studies class last week! So here's a little history lesson for you...

Basically, Australia's beginnings weren't the most innocent. Go figure, right? The English colonized the place with convicts and ex-convicts. When they got here, they found the Aborigine people. The Europeans wanted the land plus they had guns (all happening around 1770), the Aborigines had the land and no guns, so I'm sure you can guess who won. The settlers saw the people as an eye sore and thought it would be better to just get rid of them all, so they set up this fancy board of people to "protect them." This meant that they would move them all to reservations, take away all their belongings, break apart their families, and force them to act as European as possible. They weren't allowed to do traditional things, tell their stories, dance, or even speak their language. Their every move was watched, because the settlers thought they would die out. I read a quote that said they were "smoothing the pillow of a dying race." Sad stuff!

When they weren't dying off, they took the lighter skinned people and married them off to out breed them, and they took at least one child from every family to send them to schools to teach them to be slaves. It's called the stolen generations. And people were taking their kids, legally, until 1969 when it was outlawed, but it still happened long after! That was only 42 years ago!

Ok, so among the research I did, I found out that part of the legislation set (Aboriginal Protection Act 1909), said that the board distributed things like blankets and clothes. The people weren't even allowed to own things as simple as a blanket or something to wear! It says that it all belonged to the board. So I was really upset about all this, but then in my tutorial class, I learned something really incredible.

Because none of the things distributed belonged to the people, the managers of the camps kept blanket lists, to ensure they were all returned. It was the only record keeping they had of the people. And now, years later, people who were taken from the camps used these lists in order to find their families, and find out about where they came from.

I just love that God works in the most mysterious ways. Honestly, if the blankets were just blindly distributed (granted, like they should have been), there wouldn't have been lists. And years later, these people would be left to wonder where they came from and about their family! It takes a special kind of plan to make things work out like that, right? I think it's a special kind of beautiful.

Other updates? I finally went to the training day to start volunteering! I signed up to work a Moms and Kids weekend camp over Mothers day weekend. I'm really excited since I can't spend Mother's day with my own mom. I can't wait to tell you all about it!

I love you. That's all I have to say. I hope you enjoyed the short history lesson I offered.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spilt Milk

Well, as you may, or may not have noticed, I updated my FB status the other day to read something along the lines of:

"My day, my week, my weekend, ruined. This seriously cannot be happening to me."

Ok, so that's exactly what it said. Now, you may be wondering: "What on earth could have been so bad to ruin an experience in Australia?!" Many dear friends even commented and messaged me letting me know that I was in their prayers and at the time, I felt like they were well deserved. So here's what happened....

On Wednesday's, my friend Gini and I always make something special for dinner. We always stop at Cole's (the grocery store) on our way home from school that day since we usually decide what we feel like last minute. Before meeting Gini on campus, I always listen to my iPod. It's always in my wristlette because it's he most perfect fit since it seems I rarely have pockets. This week, Gini bought the groceries for dinner that we would later split, and I bought another box of baked cheese crackers because they are my new favorite afternoon snack. We stopped in the self check-out, as usual. But unlike usual, I had some change to pay for the box of crackers as opposed to using my debit card. In order to get the change out of my wristlette, I took out my iPhone and set it on the counter. As I paid, I looked down and thought to NOT let yourself forget that, because I know that's something you would do. I wasn't in a rush, so I wasn't too worried about it, but as I was trying to stuff my change back in my purse, grab my receipt, and crackers a line formed and I felt rushed and in the mix of it all, I just grabbed everything and left. As soon as we made it outside, I opened my box of crackers and snacked while we waited for the train. We then made dinner as usual, ate, and got ready to go out for a little while with our friends.

When I got back later that night, I got ready for bed, turned off the fan and lights and laid down. After a few moments, I realized I needed to see what time my alarm was set for so I reached over where I usually put my phone when I get home from school...and it wasn't there. So I got up and checked my backpack. And it wasn't there either. I proceeded to empty all of my drawers, threw the papers on my desk on the floor and then emptied my backpack again and it wasn't anywhere. I started thinking back, as fast as I could, to the last time I used it and it was right before I met Gini. I took it out to pay for the crackers at Cole's and remembered looking at it thinking, do NOT leave that. And then that guy came up right behind us and I just wanted to leave and we left and....we left. I had left it. I knew I did. That was the last time I had seen it.

So I got redressed and ran to Cole's. Yes, at 2 am. Luckily, they're open 24/7, and I've never understood why, but I couldn't have been more thankful for that. The whole walk over there, which was quite a few blocks and mostly sketchy considering the time of night and the fact that pubs were closing down, I just kept having flashbacks of the first time. My ruined 19th birthday. The panic and the disappointment and worst of all, having to tell people that I was so irresponsible. And then I started walking past groups of drunks in the alleys, ignoring cat calls, and with my security/rape whistle tight in my hand, I just started to pray. The conversation kind. And I prayed to stay calm and focused and I prayed that I wouldn't get mugged on my way or jumped and stabbed in one of these alleys. Ridiculous? Yes and no, you know how silly I can be sometimes.

When I finally made it, I just asked if anyone had turned in a phone, which they hadn't. Tears started breaking in the corners of my eyes and we talked about security cameras on the self-check out, but they said I'd have to come back at 8:30 to see it. I walked outside, I sat on the curb and I just let my face fall into my hand s and I cried. Just when I thought I was becoming more responsible, I start making freshman mistakes. The thought of having to tell my mom and my sister...again, was painful. I just let myself sit there for a few minutes before I started walking back. My plan was just to not go to sleep. To stay up and get ready for the day, make breakfast, and be there promptly and professionally at 8:30 am. So I stopped at the Hub (city campus computer lab building place), and got on FB, updated my status, checked my email, and then encouragement hit. Friends were commenting on my status and sending messages and letting me know that whatever happened, it would be ok. I had their prayers. I felt even more sick. But this sick wasn't just any guilt sickness, it was the serious kind of guilt sickness.

I live in a world of wristlettes and iPhones and MacBooks. Trains and daily groceries. The other day, Megsy was telling me about how sucky classes have been this semester and that finding a silver lining was getting to be really hard. My reply? At least there aren't bombs going off outside the window as she was trying to do homework. Jokingly, yes, but seriously. There are people in so much more need than me and a small piece of technology. Even if my entire life was on it. Which made me realize something very important about myself....that's not very good. Yes, I'm say the least. I've never really thought of it as a problem, but too much of anything can be hazardous...including myself. Especially myself.

I realized that I spill milk, I don't just cry, but I lay down in it, throw a temper-tantrum, and then get up-soaked in milk, and walk to the grocery store to ask them why me. And then I wear a milk stained shirt around so everyone knows just how not perfect I am. I'm doing it right now. Airing my dirty laundry.

I'm finding it harder and harder to find a place in between. To live in the tension of 2 lives. Either I am as honest as I can be, so that I don't trick myself into believing I'm someone I'm not, or I just stop. I stop spilling the most intimate parts of me and waving them around like I surrender. I just don't know what else to do. And I'm so young to feel like I live in a crisis for Christ, when I have my entire life ahead of me still. I haven't hit anything close to hardships yet but I feel stuck. Stuck in the middle with you.

On top of that, I wasn't entirely surprised that I had lost my phone, again...because like I said, I was waiting for the plug to get pulled on the fairytale I've been living. And when all this happened, I knew it had been coming.

The rest of the story?

I left the hub after about 30 minutes, now making it 3 am. I walked back up to Brown Street and decided to throw in the towel, and go to sleep. I figured out how to set the alarm on my Australian phone and checked and emptied and moved everything one more time and then fell into my bed. After what seemed like just a short period of time, because it was, I could hear a buzzing. I thought it was an awful trick my subconscious was playing on me. And then I heard it...Bruno Mars singing to me as he does every morning and on this particular morning at 6 am. Of course, I jumped up and started ransacking my room again, homework papers flying everywhere before I realized it was in my backpack. And there it was, letting me know it was time to get up.

I'm honestly not sure how it happened. I checked my backpack 3 times. Twice by completely emptying the contents onto my bed and yet there it was, as if nothing had happened at all. You can think I'm crazy, or that I didn't thoroughly check it, but why would I risk my life at 2 am to go to the grocery store if I wasn't 1000% sure it wasn't in my room. Oh well.

The point is this, I am the "ye of little faith." I have been looking for something to go wrong, instead of just letting things happen. I had come to the conclusion that my life and trip was ruined over something as small as a telephone. I was so convinced that God couldn't just let my life be, that anything could have happened, a paper-cut, and I would have acted hysterically. If I spend my life focusing on all the bad things that happen (or in this case, didn't even happen), I won't notice the amazing things that come along as well. I'll never let myself fully enjoy anything if I continue to focus on what could go wrong and not fully put my faith in God.

I'm not entirely sure what I was supposed to learn from this experience. But these are my thoughts. I guess that's just me. Maybe someday, I'll look back and read this and know exactly what I gained from it. As for today, I'm just glad that Bruno Mars will continue to wake me up in the morning and that there aren't bombs going off outside my window.

I love you. As much as ever. Which is more than usual because of all the oceans it has to span to get to where you are.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sundae, Sunday

Hello there friend! It's another rainy day here in Newcastle. Not much going why not blog?

I don't have a great deal to share today. Just a thought that came to me earlier this week. It's not anything new I suppose, but I found a better way to explain the sudden change. And what better way to describe it than with delicious desserts :))

I realized after my post, I made it sound as though I might sound like an alcoholic. Not true. I also realized I gave off the wrong impression when it comes to drinking. I don't think it's wrong. But that could be an entire post in itself, so I'll save it for when it's a more pressing issue. No, this is about something else. This is for lent. It's just about giving something up. Certainly, it should be something that means a lot to me...but this doesn't. What I do think, is that it may be getting in the way of my focus and this is the best way I can put it.

God brought me here. He blessed me with this trip and I have absolutely no idea why. None whatsoever. I had no idea why I went to LSU last summer either, but after the trip, I realized what a better person I was for it. I look back on my blogs and I'm inspired by who I was last summer. I didn't drink at all then and yet, I made amazing friends with similar goals who were inspired by me as well. If I didn't share anything else, I shared my love of life and my joy for simple things like jumping pictures and that left a bigger impression than I've left here in the month and a half that I've had.

So the at the base of this sundae is a split banana for my trip. And then He piled on ice cream of the good fortune I've had with funding and support. And then he poured on chocolate and caramel syrups for the luck in finding an affordable and mostly nice place to stay. And the nuts are the friends I've made since I've been here. And the whip cream is the constant support I'm now getting from friends and family back home. And the cherry on top? Nothing seems to be going wrong for me.

I feel like I have a very specific purpose for my life. Everyday I feel like I've been given a gift in the fact that I'm completely in tact. I didn't wake up to ruins or to the aftermath of an earthquake or tsunami. God has entrusted something with me. A plan. An ice cream sundae plan. I don't think that drinking is wrong, but I do think there is something wrong with making stupid decisions when drinking. I usually don't, but that doesn't mean it's too late to start. So what if I was the one making bad decisions with this gift? What if I took this spectacular ice cream sundae God made especially for me and I threw it in the dirt?

I feel like that's what I would be doing if I let anything cloud my judgment. I don't want to miss any opportunity I may be given. I don't want to skip any steps of this plan or process, because then it just won't be right. Does that make sense? If God has a specific plan for me and why I'm on the other side of the world as we speak, then why would I be so selfish as to make this about me. What I want to do. How I want to spend my time. I can't. That'd be rude. That'd be taking a gift and throwing it in the dirt. I asked to be here and I don't think He just does things to do them. There's a plan here.

I hope that clears things up. I hope you see the ice cream sundaes that God has made for you for the exact place that you are in your life. I hope that you see the banana, ice cream, syrups, nuts, whipped cream and cherry on top of your life and just devour it. That's why He made it for you. Not to look at until it melts, but to enjoy it the way He intended you to.

God loves sweets. And so do I. And I love you. And so does God.
Have a spectacular, spectacular week!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Honestly though, I should just go to sleep. It's 11:21 on Sunday night and I have to get up to do laundry before class, but I won't be able to sleep if I don't confess right this second.

In case you haven't been reading lately, I'm in Australia. I've been here about a month and half and it's been fantastic. I live near the beach. I can take the train to school. My classes are manageable. And I've made some pretty good friends! All in all, I'm living a pretty top notch life these days.

This weekend I went to Surfest at a local beach and laid out all day. I play in the waves and dry off in the sun. Tonight I made enchiladas for dinner (finally), I had a cookie for desert with a glass of milk. I cleaned my room and showered. I painted my nails. Then I got on the computer to waste some time before going to bed. After exhausting Facebook and email, I thought I'd check up on my blog.

Since I had free time, I thought I'd read through some old posts. I read about when I found out I was coming here and about my internships later this year. I read about my mom. I read about church. I read about flowers. I read my very first post. And then I read what I posted on my birthday. All of a sudden I remember why I started blogging and I couldn't be more thankful for having this reminder here.

My blog has always been great to let out all I've been feeling. To share what I've been thinking. To share what God has been doing in my life. But now, this blog and I have taken our relationship to a whole new level. It grounded me. I read these blogs and I admired the person I was. I have all the same goals, don't get me wrong, but since being here, there has been something off. I read scripture after scripture and line after line of pure faith. I read about being nervous that I'd stop leaning on God when the first thing went wrong, but it was the opposite. I stopped leaning because my life is so right. And what's worse is that I see what I am struggling with now, and it's almost like I don't even care to fix them. Who on earth have I turned into?

I haven't changed as much as I'm probably making it sound but there's definitely something different inside of me. It's not that God isn't there, it's more like I'm choosing to pretend He isn't. It's like I've subconsciously rearranged my priorities without God's permission, but He's letting me, of course. He's never been the pushy type.

One of the things I was adamant to pack was my Bible, but please ask me how many times I've opened it since leaving're right, it's none. When I first moved into my room here, it used to sit on my desk, haunting me until I'd open it. I realized just now, while reading through blogs, that at some point I moved it to a drawer. I had planned on reading it on my balcony in the mornings, but I haven't done that once. It's especially crazy to think that I "don't have time" for that now, when my classes don't really start until 11 most days and I always have a 12 minute train anyways.

I remember wanting to study abroad so much. I wanted to travel and meet new people and casually share my faith and I thought I'd be volunteering. When everything worked out too perfectly, I thought that this must be what God wanted too. And it probably was, but that's not who I've been at all. Sure, I've been traveling and meeting people, but I left out the other half of the bargain. I was supposed to go to a training day this afternoon in order to volunteer next month, but that was an afterthought to the beach. Not to mention the fact that I haven't told anyone anything that I believe.

I skyped a really good friend of mine a few weeks ago and she asked something along the lines of wondering if I did anything besides drink and go dancing. Yikes. Sure, she said it in a casual way. I'm almost certain she didn't mean for me to read into it. I also know she wasn't judging me in any sort of way, it was just a comment. I'll admit, since I've been here, I have been drinking again. I'm not sure why. It's not like I can't have fun without it. It's not like I don't have better things to spend money on. Maybe it's part of this new kind of freedom. Maybe it's whatever I didn't get out of my system before. I couldn't tell you. But I can tell you, that every time I've had a sip of something since, those words replay in my mind. It was like being slapped in the face with a distorted version of the truth, but it was just what I needed.

I know this isn't what God had in mind when He sent me here. I'm not sure if I've already missed the opportunity He had in mind for me either. I do know this, from here on out, things will be different. Besides drinking, I've also been gossiping a lot. To go along with gossiping, I haven't been very nice to someone here. I need to work on both of those.

And finally, I haven't had a real conversation with God since leaving Fayetteville either. Perhaps small ones, but obviously nothing that I can really recollect. I would wake up early everyday to pray and for it to just be me and Him and it's like I've been cheating on God with my earthly life. I've been so caught up in myself and this fabulous and wonderful life He's given me to stop and see what's up with Him.

I'm sure this is just turning into a rant so I'll try to sum up the problem and the solution. Well, you've got the problem by now I'm sure. My solution? Lent started almost 2 weeks ago now, and I didn't bother to give anything up because I live on limited resources anyways, but I can give this up. Alcohol. I never thought I'd say it was a problem in my life, and to be honest, it's not a problem, but I know my life could be more full, more clear, and more focused on a higher plan if I just nixed it for a while. In addition to giving it up, I'm going to go back to waking up early and reading scripture. I've been out of the swing of things for a while, so for now I'll start with reading Proverbs for the day. As time goes on, I'll branch out and start reading somewhere else again, but for now I think I need a dose of wisdom. And with reading, I'll spend time in prayer. Just me and God. No distractions.

I'm so thankful that I am writing these experience down. I hope that there are days when you are bored so you decide to read from a wiser me and that I can help you through similar slumps.

I'm sorry if you read this and I've let you down in some way. But mostly I'm sorry that it's taken me this long to realize that I had sat down when I was supposed to start running down this new path God had paved for me. I'm scared that I won't have any purpose here now, but I know God will take care of it.

I love you. And for now, that's all I have to offer.
Goodnight or goodmorning! Depending on the part of the world that you're in

Thursday, February 24, 2011

If I only knew where to start….

If I only knew where to start, this post would be short. However, being the faithful reader you are, you know it won’t be.

I can’t honestly say that I’ve missed you this time. People, yes. I miss people all the time. Blogging, not so much. Not because I don’t love writing my life out to better examine it later, to share my experience with you, and just getting things off my chest, but because it takes me so long to put down in words. This is key for what I may have learned this morning.

But first, an update. I spent a month in Texas with family for the holidays. I then flew to Hawaii and spent a month with my sister. And then I moved to Australia. Oh yeah, my mom started speaking to me again! That journey, however, deserves a post all to itself. The important thing is that when it came down to it, God brought us back together. Is everything resolved? Absolutely not. Will it ever be? That’s not for me to decide unfortunately, and I have to learn to be ok with that.

In other news: Australia has been fantastic. In a lot of ways, it’s just like home, but there’s no one here to help me get through stuff. There was no one here to find a place for me to live. Or to help me figure out the internet. There was no one to carry all of my bags up the hill to my new apartment. No one to tell me what groceries I should get. No one to cook for me once I bought stuff. No one to tell me when to stop buying. No one to tell me anything. Or to not do anything. It’s all very different.

I’d like to say I’ve been handling this newfound freedom with grace and dignity, but I honestly can’t. It’s like the little demons inside me have had a second wind. I will say this, on my behalf, I haven’t been entirely reckless with my life. I’m almost positive this is just part of the shock of being on my own in a different country for the first time ever. It’s a learning experience; I just hope I learn all my lessons.

But that’s also not what this is supposed to be about.

I woke up early this morning. Again. I think it’s because my body realizes I may never be here again and no matter how late I go to sleep, it wants to wake up early to make the most of the next day. None of that wasting precious time on sleep. Surely that will end once school gets going.

Back to what I was saying…I woke up early, and rather than waste internet by browsing, I decided to go for a run. I live super close to this lighthouse and I knew the promenade would lead me there so I took it. I ran all the way to a point called Nobby’s Beach that’s just below Nobby’s Lighthouse and I just stopped to catch my breath when I realized just how amazing it is out there. I followed this path around the lighthouse and down another path where there are just lots of concrete blocks piled together and cement path down the middle. I walked all the way to the end, climbed onto a block and just sat and watched the waves break against the bottom.

It was perfect. And I sat there and just thought and tried to think of a way to explain it and I just couldn’t. And even though a picture says 1000 words, it woudn’t be enough to justify the feeling of being out there. So I just sat and soaked it all in. Next to plaque for someone who I assumed died, named Andrew and below his name it says “Loving, Adventurous, Free.” I tried to think of profound thoughts like I could figure out all of the earth’s secrets from sitting out there. I tried to think about love and life and freedom.

I thought about this event on Facebook where people from all over the place plan on looking at the stars at some point on March 4th. I’m sure most don’t even know each other, and whether they believed in God or not, they could at least appreciate how many people were brought together by the thought. So I thought about the universe and the countless number of galaxies, planets, and stars and realized I couldn’t comprehend that either. And that’s when it hit me.

The most incomprehensible, complicated, intricate, and sometimes-frustrating things have to be the most beautiful and amazing, otherwise they’d be easy to explain.

Take for instance, love. When people are in love, really in love, they probably can’t explain what it feels like very well.

Take for instance, the universe. Or think about amazing views. Or think about babies growing inside of people. But the most amazing, of course, has to be the love that God has for us. I can’t explain what it feels like when I re-realize that He’s always around. He never left. That He really does have a plan. That He loves me and will continue to reveal Himself to me even when I don’t try very hard to look.

I couldn’t be farther from perfect. I don’t think we’re supposed to be. I mess up and I mess up a lot, and sometimes I mess up big time and others it’s just something small, but to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is God still around, but He STILL wants me. He’s still choosing me. And I don’t deserve it, but that’s the majestic and mysterious and incomprehensible but most beautiful and amazing thing about God.

I love you. And I miss you. Yes, even you :))