Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When online relationships come to life.

Back in March 2014 when I joined the launch team for Alyssa Bethke's new book, her publisher started a launch team for volunteers who wanted to help promote it. (Just as there was for both of Jeff's books.) The launch team was made up of lots of girls, one of whom was this lovely girl named Jamie.

Well, she and her friend Rachel are on this road trip going through all 48 states of the continental US, so I told her that when they came through NYC, they should stay with me.

They got here Monday evening and are leaving tomorrow morning, and it's been amazing. It's so so much fun to see how people you've known online for a while are really like in person, and Jamie is just the sweetest.

I took them to Spiegel not long after they got here Monday, and we just sat and ate and talked for a couple of hours, and I knew that I already loved these girls.

I also took them up to the roof (because duh, of course I did), and they loved the skyline (because duh, of course they did), and we took pictures.



This has been such a fun week. I'm so thankful I got to meet these two.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

No more avoiding.

Be happy with what you have.

That's what I kept telling myself.

I didn't want to be feeling what I knew in my gut I was. I didn't want it to be true. So I kept telling myself a bunch of different things in an attempt to convince myself that I was just making it up, that I was reading too much into things, that I was jumping too far ahead and in too deep once again, that I'm just lonely so I'm creating things in my head. I mean, I know my history; none of those assumptions are farfetched.

In come my girlfriends. God bless 'em. After conversations with two of them, I realized oh crap, this is real. I wasn't just making it up, because it's obvious to the two girls who know me best.

This is exactly what I didn't want.

Because while things could change for the better, they could also change for the much, much worse, and that would absolutely devastate me.

So I told myself to just be happy with what I have.

And I am. It's not that I'm not happy now, or that I think changing things is what will make me happy.

It's just these...stupid feelings and desires get in the way.

It'll be status quo for a while, because I need to make up my mind on what to do next and how to go about it, but still.

This is not what I wanted. I'm happy with the way things are now. But I suppose that it's always best to accept the truth about how you're feeling, even if it's scary. And this is scary.

But truth be told, I'm quite curious to see how all of this will play out in the end.

I'll keep you posted. ;)

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Godless Generation Tour {A Review}

Tonight, I made my way out to Jersey City for a certain guy's show. (Praise the Lord that I made it all the way out there in nasty weather and didn't get lost.)

Look familiar? Oh yes, that's Jon Jorgenson. This was the first night of the Anima Series tour, "A Godless Generation." He and his sweet wife Erin 

are driving somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 miles in the month of October to do shows all around the country. I've been counting down until this show since it was announced because if there was anyone I'd go out to Jersey City in the rain to see, it's Jon. I had high hopes and was really excited all day.

Well, let me tell you something. This show was even better than I hoped it would be. Jon's videos are great stuff, but seeing him in person takes it all to a whole new level. I guess it's sort of like how CDs can never compare to hearing a band live.

There were a few poems that he did that are also videos on YouTube, but despite the fact that I could recite them pretty much word for word, I was so utterly entranced by Jon and his delivery that I couldn't think about that.

And it wasn't just spoken word poems. There were stories he told in between, some of which made me cry from laughing so hard and others that made me almost cry from being so moved. There was one story he told about the counselor who was there for him the night he got saved/became a Christian/whatever you want to call it that brought back so many memories of my baptism and the night that everything changed for me. "I realized I had always wanted God in my life. I just never realized that He wanted me, too." That line hit me straight in the heart because that was exactly how I felt.

He messed up a couple of times in the beginning, but you know, that didn't take away anything for me. It just reminded me that he's not any more special than the rest of us. It showed that he's human, too, and that the important thing is that when you stumble, that you get back up and continue on. I was really proud to see him do exactly that and not let those couple mistakes throw him off for the rest of the show. And honestly, the show is so good and attention-grabbing that I forgot about those mistakes very, very quickly. He is goofy and throws some hilarious voices in, and there's one scene about dance moves that had me rolling. My one critique (if you can call it that) is I wish that he had spoken more slowly because he sometimes spoke so quickly it was a bit hard to keep up, but I think we can mostly chalk that up to first-show nerves.

One of the biggest signs for me that I really liked something is that when it's over, I'm disappointed and wish it could have gone on longer. That was definitely the case here. I could have listened to another full hour (at least) of him speaking because he is just. that. good.

But the best part is knowing that Jon isn't doing any of this to make himself or his YouTube channel more popular. It was evident throughout the entire night that he has two goals in this tour. 1) to glorify God and show people His love in a brand new way and 2) to meet the fans, or Fanimas as Jon likes to call us, who have gotten him to where he is today in this field and who made the tour possible.  He isn't just incredibly talented, every conversation I witnessed tonight shows how humble he is and how grateful he is for every single person he gets to meet.

I absolutely loved every single second of this night and was so, so grateful and honored to get to see such fantastic art and to support a guy who has done more for me (and for others, I'm sure) than he even realizes.

The rest of the show dates are listed here. All but one show is completely free, so if they are coming to your general area, I'm telling you - you need to find a way to go. Jon did an amazing job with this show, and I know that I'm going to be thinking about it for a long time.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This is how good God is.

Prayer works, y'all. Prayer works. 

I had my biopsy today. I was expecting it to be a miserable experience, but it wasn't too bad for someone sticking a needle in my throat three times. 

But here's the awesome part: I wasn't expecting to get any news today at all. Not only did the pathologist in the office look at it before I left, the doc came in and told me that her initial analysis says this thing in my throat looks to be nothing more than a lymph node. A LYMPH NODE. 

They'll have to do a full examination of the cells over the next week, but the doc said their pathologist is really good so her initial analyses are usually correct. 

My endocrinologist made me believe this was definitely a tumor, so in no way was I expecting news this good. 

I am so, so thankful to have had so many people praying for me. This is the biggest personal experience of prayer so clearly working I've had in a long time. 

God is awesome.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I went to the worship community group last night - my first time making it out there.

It was EXACTLY what I needed.

I'd forgotten how much I love singing with people.

That was the first real time of peace that I've had since this whole mess began last Sunday.

At the end, when I absolutely lost it and started crying, my friends, they came and surrounded me.

They prayed.

And I was reminded yet again that I am so, so not alone.

From here, to North Carolina, to Georgia, to Florida, to Texas, I am surrounded by love.

I am surrounded by people who have seemingly made it their life's mission to make me never forget that I am not alone, even if people aren't physically with me.

Tomorrow is scary, and the results coming could be scary, but despite everything, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

My Boys

Growing up, I always wanted a brother. You can probably chalk that up to the whole living with two sisters I didn't exactly like thing. Either way, having a brother was something I often dreamed about, and honestly wondered a few times if my parents had had the fourth kid my mom wanted but my dad said no to I would've gotten one. (God only knows what life would have been like if I'd had a third sister!)

I did see Matt as my brother at first...then I thought I fell in love with him and spent about six years convinced I was in love with him...then I realized that that was nuts and he was perfect as my big brother because, let's face it, we'd kill each other if we had ever tried to be anything else. Thirteen years later, and we both know we're stuck together for good.

Then came Paddy. The guy who started out as my "host brother" turned into my real brother within days. We only spent ten days together, but four years later, we were reunited, and if we hadn't known it before, that weekend together solidified the fact that we were family. We still are.

And as if that wasn't enough, five years later, I joined a class of 15 strange boys to run a Twitter account. I was terrified of them for weeks, unable to wrap my head around the fact that they weren't like the others, that they were good and genuine and loved me, and before long, I realized that those guys had become my family, too. Throughout that semester, I couldn't even try to pretend that they weren't brothers to me. They strengthened my faith and carried me through an incredibly rough semester. And over the two years since then, two of those stranger boys became two of my best friends.

The same week I joined that class and met those brothers, I went to a soccer game with some friends, accidentally ran into a player who surprisingly remembered me and convinced me to come back, and, before long, I unexpectedly fell into a whole new family. The boys I never thought would want to spend time with me, let alone love me, and subsequently spent a long time trying to understand why they did, let me into their family when they really didn't have to. I could have been just another fan to them, and that would've been normal, but instead, the more games I went to, the more boys I met, the more I became integrated into the group. I learned I'd been adopted as their sister when I didn't expect that at all, and a year later, I learned they knew I was their sister long before they even told me. These are the boys who took time out of their hectic schedules to come be my bodyguards just so I would feel safe, even when it turned out to be pointless. Into the second soccer season since I graduated, and they still call me their #1, and I still have the ball sitting on my desk to remind me every single day of the rowdy boys who took me in and made me feel special and important just by the way they loved me.

I wanted one brother. Today, I have about 30. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

It's that last set that I'm particularly thankful for lately. My nerves over the biopsy coming next week seem to only be getting stronger the closer I get to the procedure date. And those nerves have taken the loneliness I was already feeling and multiplied it. Not only am I really hating being so far away from Campbell because of what is going on with my friend, I would give anything to get back to my soccer boys and get their hugs and be surrounded by their infectious personalities that carried me through so much during my senior year.

But despite this ache of longing, I am so, so grateful and aware of the fact that it is an incredible blessing to have them. Because despite the great distance that lies between us, I have gotten so many messages of love from them because of what is going on that I know that they are with me every step of the way. They won't let me forget it. In this aspect, it's as if nothing has changed. The bond that we have, the family that we built, is stronger than a move. I don't have to tell them that I've got their back and will always support them, because they already know it. And I have always known and felt those boys cheering me on through this whole grad school experience, but it's been taken to a whole new level with this current situation when I see the way they so openly and freely let me know how much they love me. It's often said that guys, especially ones this age, aren't open about their feelings and emotions, probably because it's seen as not masculine, but it's like these boys will do whatever they have to to not let me forget for a second that I am so, so very loved by them. I have told them time and time again that they don't understand the extent of what they did for me in my senior year or how they changed me for the better, and I feel like I'm experiencing that all over again.

Some of my boys will be graduating in December, which is heartbreaking because I didn't realize or learn it until recently and until then had thought I'd get a chance to see them one last time when I visit in January, but I know we'll see each other again one day. And the boys that will still be there? Well, let's just say I've warned them all to be expecting massive tackles because I absolutely cannot wait to get to hug them again. And the best part is that they've all said they can't wait for it. :)

It's really comforting to know you have people that not only would you do absolutely anything for, but who would do absolutely anything for you, as well. We've got each other's backs for life, and I wouldn't have it any other way, because frankly, I can't imagine not having them now.

That team of rowdy soccer boys mean the world to me. I still feel so totally honored to be their sister.

They're my boys, it's pretty simple, and I think I love them even more now than I did then. And I think that is really, really freaking cool.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nothing kills me more.

Nothing kills me more than knowing someone I love is sad and upset and knowing I can't get to them.

One of my dearest friends back at Campbell is going through a really hard time right now and called me more upset than I've ever heard them (which is really not very upset at all, because they're usually one of the happiest and most cheerful people I know), and as soon as I picked up the phone and heard them crying, my heart just about ripped clean in half.

I've already been feeling lonely, and I've already been missing my people at Campbell fiercely, but those are selfish reasons for wanting to be back.

This, though? This is killing me not to be able to be there. To be able to hug them and let them cry and get it out and be right there to help them get through something that is pretty much shattering their world.

Right now, I hate being 500 miles away more than I ever have before, because up until now, no one has needed me like this.

I know that I can't help being so far away, and I know that I'm giving them the best support I can, and that they know how much I love them and that I will do whatever I can to be there when they need to talk. But talking to them...just doesn't seem like enough. And I know that I can't fix what has happened to them, but being there, I could do a hell of a lot more than encouraging and loving them over the phone.

I love people. Plain and simple. Aside from God, my relationships with people me more to me than anything. My friends, specifically my brothers, know that I would do anything for them. And I would. But being so far away from everyone has taken away my ability to do pretty much anything. And that kills me, especially in situations like this when one of the people I love most is so devastated. When he's done so much for me, more than he even realizes, and I can't be there with him during this, it just seems so messed up.

A hero is a man who does what he can. ~ Romain Rolland

For now, until January when I can get back to him, what I'm doing...has to be enough.

Even if I don't like it and even if it's killing me.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Romans 8:28. Just use this for something, Lord.

It's been an overwhelming few days.

Sunday, I had a seizure at church. My first seizure in 49 days.

I went to the ER because my neck hurt really bad and I couldn't get up without crying.

A CT scan revealed that my neck was fine from the seizure...but that there is a lesion in my throat right near where my thyroid used to be (yeah, thankfully it hasn't decided to grow back again). The CT machine doesn't have the capabilities of telling what the lesion is in terms of a tumor or cyst or something else, but the doctor said that with my history of tumors in that area, the odds weren't exactly stacked in my favor. He told me to get to my endocrinologist ASAP.

By some miracle, my doc had an appointment open yesterday morning. Usually, because she's only there a couple days a week, it's pretty much impossible to get a same-day appointment. I brought her the report, and the radiologist had actually written in there that he was recommending an MRI with contrast to find out what it is. So she got that scheduled immediately, and last night at 8:30 was basically the only time they had open all week. So I went. Then, I spent 4 hours in the ER to get my shunt reprogrammed because I couldn't just go to my neurosurgeon's office because of the hour. By 11:15, I was in excruciating pain (it started hurting worse about 3 minutes after the MRI started), so the wonderful doctor went and ordered me Morphine without making me try lesser drugs that were not going to work. Bless him.

Well, I wasn't expecting to get results on the MRI until next week when I went back for a follow-up with my doc, but her nurse called me today because the report had just gotten faxed to her. The MRI still couldn't tell us what is in my throat, so she said my options were just a regular ultrasound or an ultrasound-guided biopsy. I was like, uhhh biopsy, I want to know what the hell this thing is and what we need to do about it. So...I have a biopsy next Wednesday.

My nerves and anxiety have not really been handling this well the past couple of days. I'm really scared. How I found out about this lesion is literally the exact same scenario as how I found out I had tumors last time. And yeah, the chance of cancer is really low, especially because my tumors have always been benign, but it's just, this is the fourth time I've been faced with this. And I'm scared this is going to be another tumor and I'll have to deal with another surgery. I'm just overwhelmed because I so was not expecting to have to deal with any of this. And plus now, like, I've never had a biopsy before (believe it or not) so that is not really doing anything for my anxiety.

But here's the thing. I have been practically flooded with support since this started on Sunday. From everyone at church, to Summer who I was texting throughout that afternoon, to Clayton and Austin, to all of my soccer boys, I am acutely aware of just how incredible the people who love me really are. They tell me I'm Superwoman when I feel like I'm falling apart. They believe I'm going to be just fine when I'm struggling and scared. There hasn't been one second since I got this news on Sunday that I have thought I was alone in this. I am incredibly thankful that I have this security in the midst of a lot of uncertainty.

Last night, I had a dream about the day I met The Vespers. I specifically remembered how Bruno told me, "You're going to do big things with that testimony, bigger things than I'll ever do." And despite my fears, that's really helped keep my perspective in check. I can't control what's happening - it's happening whether I like it or not - but what I can do is pray that God will use whatever comes out of this to add to the story I've been given to tell people. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. He's done that with stuff from my past that is a lot worse than this, so I believe He can use this, too, and make good come from it. I see that already in the fact that while it sucks that I had a seizure after seven weeks free of them, if I hadn't had that seizure, I wouldn't have found out about this lesion. So this what I'm praying for, because I feel like that's all I've got. I want His plan, not mine.

So yeah, I'm scared of what's going to happen, but in the end, I know that I'm not going to have to face it alone. And that's enough reason alone to say praise God.

Before I had the seizure, this is one of the songs we sang at church.

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord,
still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I don't know about you, but I quit believing in coincidences a long time ago.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Oh, happy day.

You know what's awesome?

Google Maps says there is 528 miles between my apartment and Main Street on Campbell's campus (I know, not as far as I thought, but still pretty freakin' far), and my boys still call me their number one supporter.

Some of them even act surprised that I still show them this much love from so far away, which I find a bit hilarious because, well, family over everything, and I still love them as much now as I did then.

Tonight's game was...intense to say the least. The first half was honestly a bit boring, ending scoreless. Then, within 15 minutes into the second half, it was 3-1, with two goals by one of our freshmen and one by our star Brad. Unfortunately, our opponent got up to 3-3, the last one off a penalty kick that I'm not sure I agree with, so we went to overtime. Golden goal. That makes me anxious beyond belief.

First overtime, meh. Some good shots but nothing went through.

Second overtime, some really close shots on both sides, but both goalies, especially my buddy Matt, worked their tails off. It wasn't until we got a PK with 2:35 left to play that things got fun. And Brad, or as I like to call him - Brad the Beast, won the game. Ah, PKs, they can be such a blessing and such a curse, as evidenced by this game tonight.

I've basically spent all week in bed because of this migraine, not even able to make it to class yesterday (yeah, I know), but today I was finally feeling better, despite only sleeping two hours last night. After eating breakfast, I went to the pharmacy to pick up meds, then despite calling ahead to make sure their photo equipment worked, when I got there it was down, so I had to walk two extra blocks to another pharmacy to print some photos, then I went to the post office to mail some stuff, then I came back. 8 avenue blocks and 2 street blocks in 80 degree weather? That was more walking in one excursion then I've done in probably the past two weeks combined. The good news is that, after I ate lunch, that exhaustion was enough for me to fall asleep for several hours until the game.

I also finally got back to work on the Anima videos this morning. I hate that it took me so long, but Jon totally understood that my health was a mess and I had a rough year. He even said it was "an incredible blessing" that I would make time for this, but I told him this was my attempt at saying thank you for the gift he and his videos have been in my life over the past two years. Hopefully I'll continue to get more done slowly in my spare time.

So I'm really happy tonight. I'm finally beginning to feel better. I got a gift in the mail. I got to get back to work helping my friends. And I got to watch my boys pull out a very close win and support them even from so far away. What more could I ask for?

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Another post about how awesome my boys are.

I've been feeling really lonely the past week or so. I'm not really sure what set it off, but I've just really been missing my CU fam, Clayton, Summer, Austin, my soccer boys, something fierce.

One of my friends here in the city told me that it's normal, that it's just part of living here, and I believe him, but that doesn't exactly make me feel better.

Because of that loneliness, I've been reaching out to my old friends, trying to reconnect with that feeling of family, in hopes that it will ease up and I'll stop feeling like I'm being swallowed by ocean waves.

Summer and I have been texting every day in the past couple of weeks (our quickly growing love for One Direction brought us much closer together) which definitely helps.

Austin called me last night despite being practically half asleep his brain was so exhausted because I had texted him so he knew I needed to hear a friendly voice.

Clayton was there on Monday when I started crying to tell me that it was okay to be upset even if I didn't know what brought it on and remind me that I'm never truly alone.

And Tunji, oh dear Tunji. Now, I think a big part of this coming on is that the soccer season has started for this fall, so yet again, I am not back with my boys, and yet again I will not be able to go down for a game, but you can be sure that I will be going in January before I fly back here after Christmas. I've always known Tunji loves me - he is easily one of my biggest protectors and closest brothers out of that squad - but he's never been one to express it in great detail. Well, in the past few days, we've been texting and he's made it clear multiple times that he can't wait to see me again, and how much he really loves and misses me. And everyone who knows me knows I am a words of affirmation girl, so to hear everything he's been saying makes me feel so good. And it's such a sweet reminder that I may be 600 miles away, but those boys still consider me their sister as much as they did when I was still at CU. I seriously cannot wait to go back and tackle him and Reafe and Ricky with big hugs.

I still feel lonely, but I also feel really, really thankful. That I have people like this, and that they love me like they do. One of the things I've been working through in therapy in the past few months is learning how to believe that I deserve the love these guys have given me so freely right from the start. And I'm finally starting to get it (baby steps), and it's at least partially due to the fact that I see how beautiful these friendships still are even when I'm all the way up here in NYC. While distance gave Ryann an easy out in cutting her ties with me, all of these people and relationships have proven that you can still have close friends over great distance. Because I'd be lost without every single one of them.

Writing this post reminds me of how, when I was back there in January, when Tunji saw a friend of his in the Student Center and she asked what was up, he immediately exclaimed, "My sister's in town!" Or how Isaiah told me, "I think we knew you were our sister pretty early on. We just had to let you in on the secret." They called me family before I even knew or realized they did.

So yeah, it sucks that I'm not there in person to hug them and hang out with them and cheer them on at their games, but the love is still as real as it ever was. Someone recently told me that I'm "too attached" to them and that I was "wasting my time" cheering them on when their season isn't going very well so far, and all I could tell them was they are my boys, my brothers, and I will love and support them forever, because that's what family does. I can't wait to book my ticket for Christmas, because then I'll know exactly how long I have to count down until some serious brother hugs.

Until then, thank God for wifi and live streams. That's all I'm saying.

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