Monday, January 26, 2015

I did it.






Sorry if the giant text startled you, but I think few things warrant that like me writing 3 papers totaling 67 pages and 15,797 words (not including footnotes, bibliographies, charts, or title stuff) in twelve days. Just in time for classes to start on Wednesday. Provided school isn't still canceled. The mayor of NYC ordered all cars except emergency vehicles off the street after 11:00 tonight which is a bad sign.

The rest of the day has been sleep, food, Criminal Minds, and listening to the weather people talk about how much snow we're going to get tomorrow. It's been snowing since early this morning, but nothing totally outrageous. Outside right now it looks similar to what I saw last January at Campbell. Except, ya know, way more stuff to slip on in a concrete jungle. Don't worry, I didn't leave the stoop outside my building door. Tomorrow should be far beyond anything I've ever seen.

Welcome to New York. It's been waiting for me.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

The voice of truth tells me a different story.

(Warning: This one's a long one. Sorry about that. This video got all sorts of emotions and things stirred up in me.)

(I didn't transcribe the whole thing, just basically the second half.)
This is what the voices of the world are trying to tell us. They're telling us that you have to be the best, you have to be the prettiest, you have to be the most popular, and if you have ever made a mistake, then you are damaged goods. This is the voice of the world, and the more we listen to it, then the worse the story we tell about our lives is going to get.

But take heart! Because there is good news, and that good news is that there is another voice that we can listen to. You know how I know that those four things I just mentioned are myths? I know that those four things are myths because I know that God's Word is truth. And in God's Word, I actually see God telling a completely different story about who we are. And this is the other voice we can listen to, the voice of the Lord.

And the Lord does not say that you are defined by what you do, but in Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9, God says, "For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God - not by works, so that no one can boast." You see, God doesn't say that you have to be the best, but God actually says, "No matter what you do, good or bad, win or lose, I LOVE YOU." God says, "You can't earn your way to worthiness by being the best because I have already counted you worthy by my gift of grace."

God also doesn't define you by what you look like, but in Psalm 139, the psalmist says, "I praise You, God, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works (me) are wonderful, I know that full well." God doesn't say that you have to be the prettiest or the most attractive. God says, "You are already stunning beyond compare because I made you specifically, on purpose, as a work of art."

And God also does not define you by who you know, but in Galatians 3:26, He says, "So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith." God says, "You don't have to have the most friends, you don't have to have all these perfect relationships, because with me, I'm offering you a relationship  more intimate and loving and perfect than you could ever imagine."

And last but not least, God does not define you by your past mistakes, but in 2 Corinthians 5:17, God says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old is gone, and the new is here." God does not say that you are damaged goods. God says, "I don't care what you've done. In me, with a relationship with me, you can be made brand new."

And so we're left with a decision, and this is a big decision because the story that you tell with your life will ultimately dictate the quality of the life you live, and the story you tell with your life is going to be dictated by the voices you choose to listen to. So our decision today is: whose voice are you going to listen to? Are you going to listen to the voices of the world that are dead set on convincing you that you're not enough, or are you going to listen to the voice of God who continually tells us in His Word, through prayer, through worship, through community, and mostly through His Son Jesus, that in Him and in a relationship with Christ, He makes us enough?
- Jon Jorgenson, The Anima Series

Before I say anything else, let me just say that when you have ten minutes to spare, you need to watch that video. I don't care who you are that is reading this, you need to watch that video. I wish I had some way to send it to every on the whole planet. It is that universally relevant and that powerful.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way...I love The Anima Series. Y'all know I do. I wouldn't have devoted so much of my free time to transcribing their videos this summer (and Anima friends, if you read this, I promise I'm going to get back to that! The past few months have been way harder than I expected, but I have not forgotten or abandoned you! I promise!) but there have been very few of their videos that have made me choke back tears and feel infinitely grateful I'm sitting in a chair when I watch it for sheer fear of falling on the ground in weakness. I can think of only a handful of them that have made me cry. This may be my favorite one of their whole existence simply because it answered a question I've had for a long time and opened my eyes to some hard truths.

At the end of his 7 9 minute sermon, Jon asks the viewers to comment with which identity myth they are most vulnerable to fall victim to. I couldn't pick one. I couldn't pick one because they're all voices that circle around in my head...pretty much constantly, if I'm going to be totally honest. As I left in my Youtube comment, I'm a self-conscious-about-my-weight people-pleaser who can't stand to be mad at anyone or have anyone be mad at me, who still spends way too much time beating myself up for my past mistakes, and who feels like school and my grades are the only thing I'm really good at.

Does my mom pressure me about my grades, and does my extended family expect me to succeed? Yeah, sure, but none of them put a tenth as much pressure on me about succeeding as I do on myself. Making people proud of me is like some bizarre addiction. My brain has become convinced that that's the only way to survive. And if I'm not making the people I love proud of me by what I do, I must be doing something wrong. When I don't get the grades that I normally do, or that I think I should be getting, I immediately become convinced that I've failed, that I've embarrassed myself to the people who have stuck by me. The truth is, nobody loves me because I'm smart, least of all God. My family loves me because I'm me. God loves me because He made me, because I'm His child, and there's nothing I could do to make Him love me any less. Especially not get a check minus instead of a check plus.

My closest friends have heard plenty about the comments I've heard from various people about my weight, but almost no one has heard anything about the things I tell myself. I can be really, really mean to myself. I get so frustrated that every time I feel ready to make a change and dedicate myself to a lifestyle change and exercise regularly, some physical injury or surgery happens and completely sets me back by making me sedentary again that I get to the point where I just want to give up because it feels like I'm just never going to catch a break. And then I get mad at myself for not being strong enough to work past all of the pain and lose weight anyway like those amazing stories you see all over social media and the news and whatever. And once again, I feel like I've failed. But God knew. He knew what my body would go through when He made me. He knew how much weight I would gain. And He loves me still. Even more than that, He says I'm beautiful.

Ask pretty much any one of my friends if they think I'm too nice, and I'm almost certain they'll agree with you. I'm nice to everyone, even when they're not nice to me. Being mad at anyone makes me feel sick (no I'm not kidding) and sad and I will do anything to avoid it or make it go away. And if someone is mad at me, particularly someone I really love and have really invested in, I will go to the ends of the earth to make things right. I am the textbook definition of a people-pleaser. I want people to like me. I want people to be happy. And it takes a heck of a lot for me to turn my back on you. Friday night, when I was out with Holly and the roommate, Landon came up in the conversation, and I actually said, "I really just feel sorry for him." Holly's immediate response: "WHY?!" If I can't even stay mad at the guy who spent almost six years messing with my head and breaking my heart, and I think it's safe to say that anyone else is pretty safe in escaping my slam book. But God says that it's okay if not everyone is okay with me, because His is the only approval I really need. No relationship I could ever have on this earth could even come close to my relationship with the One who loved me first, loves me most, and loves me the best. So why do I put so much weight into them that I act like my whole world has been rocked when they hit a rough patch? It's a waste of energy and heart space.

With the past almost six years of friendships marked down on this blog, through all the stories, all the memories, through all the roller coasters, I can instantly tell you what the most repeated question is: "How did I ever get so lucky to get friends like this?" Matt, Ryann, The Vespers, my Reformation brothers, my soccer brothers, with all of them, no matter how hard I tried, I could never wrap my head around how they could deem me worthy of their time, their energy, their love. Well, thanks to Jon and this video from The Anima Series, I finally have the answer. I never understood why my friends thought I was worthy of love because I've spent my whole life convinced that I'm damaged goods, that I'm too broken, that I'm a lost cause for anything good. The events of my past, the things that I kept saying were just scars, they still had hold over my mind. I believed those voices I used to hear in person all the time - that I wasn't worthy of love. So even though I have people who love me now, I still had those old voices echoing in my head telling me I don't deserve it. But you know what God says? Those voices are CRAP. (Okay, He probably says it a little more nicely than that. But you get the point.) Those voices are just the enemy trying to distract me from the vivid reminder that my sweet friends are of what Christ-like love is. They are the enemy trying to separate me from the good things God wants to give me, His daughter, His princess. God has called me WORTHY, worthy of love, worthy of affection, worthy not because I am anything in particular, but worthy because HE is GOOD.

God's grace has made me worthy. God's grace has made me righteous. And most of all, God has made me NEW. Not my GPA, or the number of As I get, or the number of friends I have, or the number on my jeans. God. And only God. Because of God, the memories of my past, and the voices that go along with them to haunt me, well, they lose. I've let them have power over my mind and spirit for far too long. That ends now.

Lord, please forgive me for all the time I've wasted not focusing on You. Please forgive me. You are the only thing that is worth my time and attention. Help me to learn to focus on Your love and grace and block out the darkness that hides in the corners. You win. You always win. Help me to trust that You are bigger than my scars and my demons. I'm tired of not seeing myself as the righteous child of my King, my Father, that You've known I was all along.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ah, brick wall, there you are.

Well, I knew this feeling would come sooner or later.

After writing almost 14,000 words and more than 50 pages in eight days, my motivation ran into a serious brick wall and came to a screeching halt when I woke up today.

Despite knowing that it is Saturday which means I have to turn it in in just two more days, I had absolutely no desire to sit back down at my computer and write another. dang. paper.

My brain was all tapped out.

My energy was kaput.

My productivity came to a standstill.

I just wanted to lay on my bed and not move a single muscle.

Which is what I did for most of the day. But then I started thinking about what other stuff I have to do tomorrow and Monday, and how I'd regret wasting this time and then working myself into a panic to get it in on Monday if I got behind later on. And I talked to Mom who, when I told her I need some motivation, responded in her best, most actress-y, most exaggerated voice possible, "DO YOU WANT TO FAIL?!" Ha. That's Mom-code for "suck it up and get on with it, crazy child".

So I did. And I got 1600 words done, the introduction plus 2 of the 6 sources I need to discuss. That leaves 4 sources and the conclusion to do between tomorrow and Monday. Totally doable.

Tonight, though, I'm going to bed (relatively) early because I have church in the morning. I didn't make it last Sunday because I was up half the night with an upset stomach (and that was AFTER puking that morning), so I am more than ready to get back.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

New crazy makes you appreciate your normal crazy.

The roommate got back tonight! The normal roommate, not the crazy temporary one. Hopefully I never have to see that lady again. I know the roommate and I have had a few issues, but she really is pretty awesome, and it was obvious what a good roommate she is after dealing with crazy.

She didn't get here until almost midnight - her mom, sister, and aunt all drove her down to help her bring back all her stuff - and almost immediately she asked Holly and me what it was like living with the temporary lady, and that turned into like an hour long venting session of how bad it was. And it turns out, the roommate was even bothered by her over break because she kept calling and texting her about stuff that the roommate could do absolutely nothing about while 200 miles away with her family. Sort of like how she called me then Holly about our mailbox while we were in North Carolina.

So she unloaded most of her stuff and then Holly convinced the two of us to go out for a drink. So we did that and ended up staying out until 2 am. It was good to be reunited the three of us.

That's the only remotely interesting thing that happened today, as I forced myself to take pretty much the whole day off and didn't get out of bed, but then I did get this little introduction thing and bibliography for my final paper done and sent to the professor like he asked me to. So the day wasn't a total bust.

The final paper involves discussing six sources, plus an introduction and conclusion, so as long as I get at least two sources done tomorrow, then I'll be in good shape to finish this thing just in the nick of time on Monday like I promised. And then I'll have a mental day off right before my first class on Wednesday. I'm so excited for that! No seriously. I'm so excited.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sometimes I even amaze myself.

My anxiety got all out of whack as soon as I laid down last night, so I didn't fall asleep until after 3:00 this morning and then had to get up at 7:00. Ugh. 7:00 isn't even fun when you're well-rested.

I went and got an EEG.

Then had a check up with my neurologist. They upped my seizure med again because of the one seizure I had in early December, and it looks like I'll be spending at least part of my Spring Break in the hospital doing another one of those video EEGs where they force me to have seizures. Ugh. So much fun.

Then I went to the post office and finally mailed back the wrong size phone case that I ordered.

Then I went to the pharmacy and got a med I run out of tomorrow.

Then I ate lunch and watched Chicago PD from last night.

And THEN, I finally got to take a nap for a little over three hours. Which was glorious.

I messed around for a bit after that, ate dinner, watched some TV, waited for the girl who was subletting the roommate's room to come pick something up she forgot when she moved out.

I texted with Mom while I was trying to start working, but she was in a good and weird mood tonight so she was very talkative which meant my phone was going off every 10 seconds which is not very conducive to work.

But then the Wolfpack game was starting, so she got busy. And I worked while checking the live stats every two minutes. We lost. It was stupid and totally avoidable. Oh well.

And guess what...I finished Paper #2 tonight! Actually I finished it and emailed it in right before I started this post. 30 pages, 7,500 words, in four days. Basically 24 hours ahead of schedule. I can't believe I pulled that off, but as Emma told me, I've got one hell of a work ethic. :)

Now I only have the shortest but most difficult paper left, but I am very very tired now, so I'm not going to think about that right now and instead think about the fact that I'm proud of myself for getting two of three papers done in eight days and a whole day before I expected to have them both done.

Good night, world. I need some sleep. Hopefully it won't be so difficult for me tonight.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I can't think of a title for this post. Sorry about that.

I stayed up until almost 3 am this morning trying to get Bitcoin to work so I could get money to this one person who would sell me their tickets, and then because I couldn't get the money to transfer from my bank to the Bitcoin wallet in less than 4 business days and she was only willing to hold two tickets until Saturday, the whole thing started stressing me out so bad that I started crying uncontrollably. And that, my friends, was when I knew I needed to go to bed.

And then both people I was trying to see if I could get tickets from sold them all by noon today. Because of course.

So between the staying up until 3 am frantically working on the Internet (I must have tried a dozen different Bitcoin websites) and the falling asleep after sobbing for like 45 minutes, I spent the day in bed with a massive migraine.

I finally managed to get up around 5:00 and eat something, and then got to work. Holly and I had to do laundry tonight, so I even took my computer to the laundromat and worked while we waited for the clothes. And guess what? I got the whole third section of my paper done, and it actually turned out to be almost 10 pages. It looks like my paper may be more than 30 pages, I hope my professor doesn't have a problem with that. I have one more section plus the conclusion left.

So despite most of my day being totally shot, my night was very productive. Yay for that.

Tomorrow, I have to get up super early because I have to go get an EEG done and then go for a checkup with the neurologist. I better get to bed.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Craigslist is stressful.

Am I gonna get the deal?

What if they already sold it?

Why aren't they responding to me?

What if they aren't answering because they're selling it to someone else?

Where will we find these if not here?

How long until they answer me? Don't they want to make some money?

How does this transaction part work?

What if this is a scam?

ARE THEY EVER GOING TO RESPOND? COME ON DUDE! (And I don't even know if they're dudes.)

That's basically the cycle going on in my head for the past hour and a half as I've now tried to contact two different people with two different offers about some tickets that Mom and her boyfriend want. You know old people and the internet - bad combination. ;) And neither person has answered me more than once. Which is probably really only making me anxious because I'm getting a text from Mom every other minute seeing if I have tickets nailed down yet. But still. This is not good for my nerves.

In other news, I'm about halfway through with Paper #2. So hooray for being ahead of schedule. I'm officially done with physical therapy, hopefully for a VERY long time. I finished my Walgreens application, so now all that's left is for me to call the bazillion stores in Manhattan - surely one of them is hiring. Methinks I'll wait until next week, though, so I don't have to go in and start training somewhere while I have these papers hanging over me.

And that about sums up Tuesday for me - productivity and nerves.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Sabbath Time

I was talking to Emma last night about how overwhelmed I was feeling, as she's the friend who most understands how suffocating anxiety can be when it gets out of hand. She told me she hoped I could find some sabbath time, and I told her that I didn't think that would be happening before next Monday when I get these papers done and turned in because they were basically all I could think about.

Well, today, despite the fact that I knew I needed to get up and get started on paper number two, I forced myself to get a little bit of sabbath time in today. I stayed in bed until the afternoon, not even sleeping the whole time, just enjoying the comfort of my bed and the peace of the quiet. And it was exactly what I needed. I feel way less overwhelmed today than I did yesterday. Isn't it amazing what just a little rest of your body can do for your mind and spirit?

After the very slow start to my day, I got up, took a shower, watched an episode of Criminal Minds, cooked some cheeseburger macaroni, and then washed all the dishes in the sink. I put on another episode and got to work and managed to knock out almost six pages tonight. So yay for that. I also planned out the rest of the information that I need to research for the rest of the paper and got a general idea of an outline. Yay for productivity.

And now I'm going to watch Castle and hang out and possibly go to bed early because I can. That, and I actually have to get up and out of the apartment tomorrow. Hasta luego, blog land.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Don't give up. Don't ever give up.

The words of the great Jimmy V are echoing in my head tonight.

Earlier today, I watched Russell Wilson and the Seahawks come back and win a game in overtime to make it to a second consecutive Super Bowl. They got 15 points in 44 seconds, didn't have their first lead of the game until there was 1:25 left on the clock, and then got a touchdown on the first possession of overtime. Russell was sobbing in post-game interviews, and a teammate of his said that he never stopped saying they were going to win the entire game, even though they were down 16-0 at the half.

Russell believed they were going to win, even as fans left.

Russell believed they were going to win, even as he threw his fifth interception of the game.

I know that it's "just football", and that those guys get paid a heck of a lot of money for "just football", but I just need to say that an NFL quarterback is one job that I do not envy whatsoever. They control the offense, they are the face of the team, and even though they may be the guy everyone loves when a team wins, they are also the first guy people want fired when things don't work out.

Considering how hard I am on myself when I am the only one I have to be responsible for, I can't imagine the stress my mind and body would take if I had an entire team along with their millions of fans putting their hopes on my ability to make the right decisions under pressure.

And beyond that, the quarterback has to be the leader. He has to be the guy that keeps his teammates' heads in the game even when all hope seems lost. Because if he doesn't, they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning. I tend to kind of suck at even keeping my own head in the game when things get tight.

But you know what? Jimmy V was on to something. You can't give up. You can't ever give up. Because when everything else fails, hope is all we've got. Even if it's just the hope that tomorrow will be a better day, hope is what gets us through when the whole world seems to be absolutely terrifying. Hope is what pushes us to get out of bed when we really don't want to. Whether you're a Christian whose hope lies in Jesus and the promise that this world is not the end or an atheist who just has the hope that maybe the future will have something good waiting for you, we all have hope in something. We all need to have hope in something, because if we didn't, the darkness we live in every day would strangle us.

I wish I had some big revelation or lesson or something to end this post with, but really, I'm just writing it for me. To remind myself not to give up. Because truth is, right now I'm really overwhelmed and need to remember that hope dies last.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Rest for the Wicked

(Bless you if you got that reference and me quoting Ozzy Osbourne doesn't completely freak you out. Sometimes I title posts with whatever is the first thing to pop in my head, and today, that was it.)

You know what's really NOT a good start to the day? Puking. That was what happened not even five minutes after I opened my eyes today. I have no idea why. I knew I had slept so long that I needed to eat, so I forced myself to eat a plain English muffin, as that was the only bread product we had around and I thought that would help soak up any acid still in my stomach.

Then I distracted myself from that awful feeling by following along with the live stats on the Wolfpack game, which was far too close for comfort for most of the game, but thankfully we pulled out a win at the end when it mattered.

After that, I went to the pharmacy and picked up my seizure med and then to the grocery store because we were low on a lot of stuff. Thankfully, there was more than one person working at Spiegel when I got back, so I got one of the guys there to carry it up the stairs for me, which he didn't mind doing at all because he knows about my shoulder injury and told me I am not allowed to reinjure myself. Ha! Plus, everyone there loves me.

I got all that put away and relaxed for a bit because I was super out of breath, and then got distracted by Criminal Minds.

Thankfully I broke my distraction when an episode I really don't like very much came on, so I took a shower then got to work on my "five pages a day" goal for tonight.

But that didn't last very long because Clayton FaceTimed me a little after 8. Oh that boy. He is my favorite. I talked to him for like an hour and then knew I had to get back to work.

I actually got almost six pages done tonight. So yay for that. Paper #1 should be done tomorrow.  Productivity feels nice, especially since I've felt so awful for basically the past month that I really haven't been doing much at all.

And now I'm going to eat something and go to bed so I can get up early for church tomorrow. Yay church! I've missed my City Grace people. :)

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