Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thank you, Lord.

First things first, Gabe is going to be okay. He's STABLE. He's got at least a few more surgeries ahead of him to fix some broken bones, but all in all, he is doing better than expected. This could have been a lot worse for him, even worse than it already is, and I am just so thankful that my friend is alive. I was talking to my friend, Summer, and she said it perfectly, "Of course he would be doing better than the doctors expect, he's just a little stubborn." Ha! That is Gabe. ;) Thank you for your prayers. Please don't stop. He has a long recovery ahead of him, and his family still has a hard road of grief ahead with the loss of Gabe's sister. I still can't even begin to comprehend what they're facing right now. But he's alive, and that is a miracle.

The other thing that I am thanking God for today is that I was able to meet Keith, one of the deacons from church for coffee this afternoon (well, hot chocolate for me, but that's sort of just a generic activity that people say, "meet for coffee," you know what I mean? anyway.) I was able to share my story with him, which is always something I enjoy. And I was glad for him to get to know me better, since he is one of the church leaders. But one of the most interesting things out of the hour we spent together was that he told me that the impact I've had on City Grace in just the few months that I've been there was amazing. Sometimes I forget that God is using me even when I don't feel like I'm being used. It's sort of like how after the Christmas service on Sunday, when I thanked Ashley for bringing me a chair so I could sit while I sang, she instead thanked me for volunteering to be in the choir even though I needed a little modification. In my view, they were doing me a favor, but in her view, I was doing them one. Perspective is everything.

Today was a good day.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What to do when you can't do anything.

There are so many things that happen in this world that I don't understand.

I don't understand why people think it's okay to viciously beat a man after a prayer service just because he was gay and truly believe it's in the name of God.

I don't understand why militants can charge into a school and kill more than 100 children in the name of their agenda.

And I don't understand why a man can decide driving drunk is worth the risks.

This is my friend Gabe. I was in bed most of the day with a migraine, but this afternoon, I got on Twitter to see messages of prayers pouring out for him. I quickly found out that he was in a serious car accident last night while driving back from Texas to visit his brother. A drunk driver crossed the center lane and crashed into Gabe's car head-on as he drove with his sister Lydia back from Texas where they visited their brother. Lydia was killed instantly, Gabe was in critical condition, and a five-year-old in the drunk driver's truck had serious injuries.

I immediately felt like I was going to throw up. I was honestly surprised at first at how scared and sick the news made me feel, but then I began to think of memories that involved Gabe. How he almost cried when I told him about my dad. The dinner we had at Chick-Fil-A where he just sat and listened to me and gave me some advice and we got to know each other better. How he helped me move out at the end of a semester. How we were so quickly able to restore our friendship once we were on the other side of the drama. And I felt like a complete ass for all the times we had fought over stupid club drama and politics and all of these things that mean nothing anymore. All I could was pray that he would make it, so I could have the chance to make sure he knew how much I truly do respect and care about him. Praise the Lord that his longtime girlfriend posted on Facebook a few hours ago and said that he's going to make it.

Everyone knows the phrase "peace that passes all understanding," but tonight, I realized that you need that kind of peace the most when you're facing a situation that is beyond understanding. I don't understand one speck of this, how Gabe and his family could be facing such a scary and difficult journey when he did nothing wrong driving that car, how a man could put so many innocent people in danger, especially the child in the truck with him, why Gabe and his sister were right there at that exact second and so it was them that man hit instead of someone else. How Gabe's family could have to balance being with Gabe in a hospital so far from home while simultaneously planning their daughter and sister's funeral. There are no words for this.

Even now, now that I know it looks like he's going to be okay (eventually), all I can think is that I so desperately wish I could go visit him and tell him in person just how much I really do treasure him. But obviously, that's not an option, so what is left?

I will pray.

I will pray for his full healing, so those around him can experience all that is Gabe and the way that he can light up people's lives with his goofy sense of humor.

I will pray for his heart and mind, that he will not be wrecked by guilt when his sister's death fully hits him when he is conscious, that he will still be able to one day go back to law school.

I will pray for his parents and family, as they balance their grief over losing Lydia and their need to support and care for Gabe, and as they plan a funeral hundreds of miles from home.

I will pray for his girlfriend, that she will also have peace and rest knowing that he will make it through.

I will pray for the child in the other vehicle, that she will also make a full recovery, and her family as they walk through this time.

But also, I will pray for James, the man who made an awful decision that has irrevocably changed numerous lives. As much anger as those who know Gabe and his family may feel right now, no matter how justified that anger is, we must remember that James is no less deserving of a Savior than we are. I will pray for him, that he will learn from this tragic mistake and seek forgiveness for the damage he has caused. It's really been on my heart lately in many situations that I need to pray for people even when I don't want to, and this situation definitely fits that. I am just as broken as James, and I must extend the same grace that I seek for myself.

The one good thing I've seen today is how the Campbell family has rallied around one of our own. I've repeatedly looked at Gabe's Facebook checking for updates, and it is flooded with messages of support and love. Even when this world seems to be at its darkest, there is still so much good out there. We can't do anything to change what has happened, but we can pray, and sometimes that is the best tool we have.

It would really mean a lot to me, as I know it would to all who know and love Gabe and his family, if you would join me in praying for those grieving in the aftermath of this awful incident.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Healing will come.

He contacted me again. It had been a month since the last time, so I thought it was over since he'd quit his every-two-weeks-like-clockwork ritual. The last time had been right before my surgery, so I figured I'd forgotten to block him in the midst of all that craziness plus the stress of finding out the news about my loan situation the day before my surgery, as well. I'd thought about him less and less, I guess because I was so tired from recovery. Since I'd never responded to any of the messages, I thought he was finally getting the point.

And then he popped up again. Originally, I wasn't going to respond, but then decided to send him one message to tell him to leave me alone and let me finally move on with my life. I thought that if things got to a scary level by some chance, at least I would have proof that I did ask him to stop, since clearly the ignoring him didn't work. I did good and didn't respond to any of the numerous text messages he replied back with that he said was his "goodbye". When he stopped, I just let it go.

But by that point, he was all in my head. Again. And I returned to that all-too-familiar feeling that somebody was sitting on my chest. I thought damn him for still having this grip on me.

Clayton to the rescue! ;) We had already scheduled a FaceTime date for tonight, so the timing was just coincidentally fantastic. After all this time, Clayton knows me well enough that he knew I just needed him to listen. But then he gave me advice, too. The funny part was he was all "You can take this advice or leave it," and I basically just said, "Shut up. You know how much I respect your wisdom." And then he told me that I needed to block him, and now, and completely pegged that I hadn't yet because it feels like I'm the one walking out on him. "I know it feels like you're abandoning him by blocking him, but he already left."

Boom. I didn't even know that was the reason behind it until he said that. It reminded me of this article, which isn't totally relevant since he and I never dated but pretty close because that article explains exactly why I do anything to try to avoid people leaving, even people like him who aren't worth the investment I've put in. I spent so long pleading to try to convince him that I wasn't like everyone else in his past and that I wasn't going to give up on him, that I stuck around through all of this crap so that I could stick to my word, so that I wasn't causing him pain. Because I know what it's like to be left behind. And it's terrifying and heartbreaking.  But Clayton's right. He left a long time ago. And as Summer said, he was in it for the emotional booty call. "I don't think he ever had any intention of loving you." Which hurt like hell to hear but was probably very accurate.

So yeah, I blocked him. Finally. For once. But I wasn't blocking him because I wanted to leave him. I blocked him because if I'm ever going to move on, I need to not be able to see his name or his number or his picture. I blocked him because the part of me that loves him so much it hurts needs to die. I blocked him because I need to not constantly think I wish I didn't love him so much, and the day when that happens isn't going to come without this step.

The past 5+ years aren't going to be healed in a day or a week or even a month. I just pray that I remember to give myself enough grace to ache and move on, no matter how long it takes.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

No more sling!

After more than three months of having my arm in a sling, and just shy of four weeks of having it totally strapped to my stomach, I finally got permission to take it off today! Hooray!

The doctor (well, technically the PA, meh) said that my progress is just about exactly where it should be. I go back at the end of January, and he wants my range of motion to be back at 100%. We will see.

Mostly, I'm just really happy I can use my arm again. There are a few restrictions, but it feels like free reign because I don't have to use that sling anymore. This means I can sleep in my real bed again, too!

That's a good Monday, if you ask me.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

I'm quite proud of myself today.

Not only did I sing and help lead a church service for the first time in years, I did alto and I did it a cappella! I didn't know I could do that. In fact, I was really nervous about doing harmony OR doing a cappella, let alone both, but I managed to do it, and I think do it well.

Holly took me to lunch afterwards as a treat. I was super surprised that she came, but turns out she will come to anything if it means supporting me. Who knew. ;)

The service was beautiful, and I'm a little sad it's over, but so, so thankful to have been a part of it alongside such amazing people at my church.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

A step in the right direction.

Today I washed a whole sink full of dishes, and my shoulder didn't hurt any more than it did when I started! It's the little things.

The rest of the day was choir practice (which was even more fun that last weekend) and lots of laziness.

I've been on a Ramen kick lately. Holly even showed me the easy way to cook it that bypasses a stove and only requires getting one bowl dirty. So yay for that.

I spent almost two hours texting Clayton tonight and we decided he's going to come down to the coast and visit me while we're both in NC for the holiday! I am SO excited. That's like, the best thing to happen for me this Christmas. He's pretty much the only person from Campbell I really miss that won't still be at Campbell when I visit next month.

It's an early morning tomorrow for the service because we have to practice beforehand. I hate early, but I like church and I like singing, so it all evens out I suppose.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

These Friends

The Anima Series strikes again with another gold-level video.

Except the difference between this one and the other Anima videos I've posted about here is that the others really taught me something, but this one stuck out for me because it really hit home just how blessed I am to have so many people with whom I have a long-lasting, Biblical friendship. Friends who uphold and support me. Friends who love me when I'm crazy, and needy, and intense, and weird, and stupid, and really just hard to put up with. Friends who not only make me want to be a better friend but also to love God better every day and every time we get the chance to talk.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know if I would still have the desire to love God and know God if it weren't for these friends. I'm not sure I would have been strong enough to continue to believe in God's promises if it weren't for the people who refused to let me retreat and hide and crumble in fear. With everything that has happened just since last September when the seizures came back, I've had plenty of reasons to wonder what exactly God is doing and why He's been allowing me to walk this path. If I didn't have the friendships that I do, friendships that surpass time and distance, that doubt probably would have easily taken over my life, but because of these friends pointing me back to God when I'm at my lowest and angriest, I'm still here. And I'm still focused on my King.

These aren't just the kind of friends I longed for growing up. They're so much better. These are the friends I don't have to worry about being real friends, or worry about leaving, or worry about not being good enough for. They are the friends who don't just love me, they show me the Love that is so much greater. They are the friends who see me the way God sees me when I can't see it myself. They are such a sweet picture of Jesus for me, but humble enough to reiterate that any good I see in them only comes from Him.

I suck at being a friend sometimes. I know I do. But these friends, they know that I love them even when I mess everything up. That's when I see God the most clearly in them. I remember the first time Ryann forgave me for doing something stupid; I was absolutely baffled that she didn't just leave. And my intensity, the same intensity that I've been told way too many times is the reason people leave me? These people see past it and count it as a blessing that I love them that much. They know me. Past my nervousness and people-pleasing nature, they know me. Beneath the intensity and lack of a filter, they know me. And they still love me. I know I'm safe with them.

And all of that, that can only point me back to God. Because gosh knows, I kind of suck at loving Him way more than I suck at being a friend.

Truth is, I don't really know how you "create" long-lasting, Biblical friendships. I'm still not sure how these friendships happened. They just did. And I don't know where I'd be without these friends whom I know have my back no matter what.

Soli Gloria Deo.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Forgive me for being vague.

I'm at a loss for words tonight. Which is weird. Nothing in particular happened that would be a decent cause for speechlessness. I'm not super exhausted or anything like that. So I'm not really sure why I don't know what to say.

I had a lot of weird dreams last night, I remember that much. Dreams that are making me question a lot of things, things I didn't know I was still hanging on to...until now, at least.

I have to wonder how much of it is just that I'm homesick and lonely and how much of it is truly unresolved feelings and issues. Feelings and issues on things that I'm not sure that I will ever really get closure on. Which anyone who knows me knows that is a really hard pill for me to swallow and a battle that I am working on every day.

After 4 solid months on my own in New York and 7 months since graduation, there are things I thought I'd be over by now, and I have to accept the fact that I'm just not. Which makes me feel all sorts of pathetic and stupid, but as a friend has to so often remind me, I'm human and feeling things is not wrong or pathetic or stupid. It's just part of being human. As not fun as it can be sometimes.

I know feeling things like what I'm feeling is normal, but I'd really like to not feel these particular things anymore.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My wish is Mother Nature's command.

Isn't that nifty?

It was snowing most of the day today. The ground wasn't cold enough for it to stick, but I still got to walk outside with snowflakes falling hard all around me, which was pretty spectacular. There's something magical about snow. It'll only be even better when it sticks. 

I didn't have to go to class today, but I'm trying to do at least one thing a day that will help build my stamina back up, so randomly, I decided to ask Holly if she wanted to go out to dinner. We call it our "sister dates," which is cute if you ask me. After some searching, I found this Italian restaurant a couple subway stops away that was incredible. I scarfed down the lasagna and the raspberry crumb cheesecake I got for dessert was on another level. Cheesecake is my favorite dessert, so I eat a lot of it, so it's hard for one to blow my mind, but this one made me say "Oh my God!" as soon as I put it in my mouth.

It was a good evening.

And to boot, I got a picture of me that I actually really like. Minus the eyebrows that needed to be shaved back down clean, but I don't think you can tell that too much here. So yes, I like this picture. And I like sister dates. :)

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oops I did it again.

Maybe this is a sign I should try sleeping without the sling? It's not like I can really do any damage because I've been sleeping in the recliner, especially with the pinched nerve problem. But it makes me nervous. I really don't want to mess up my shoulder again, but I also can't take the pain of not letting it out of the sling. I tell ya, if I didn't have this ice pack, I would be doomed. I've been having the ice pack on my shoulder and the heating pad on my elbow and lower arm to help with that cramping. The simultaneous ice and heat is an interesting combination.

Today it poured rain most of the day. When it pours rain, you just kind of want to sleep the day away, you know? At least I do. But the roommate and I did manage to get to the grocery store during a break in the rain. So that's good.

My program adviser informed me that one of the classes I originally signed up for was being cancelled for not enough enrollment, so I had to go back and pick a new class. Well that worked out very well for me because when I did, I found all three of the original classes I wanted to sign up for but could find on my original attempt at registration. So now I have a schedule that I am really excited about (and no morning classes and only two days a week!). I just need God to work out this funding. Seven weeks left to get it. Sigh. Mom and I are going to see Aunt Dinah while I'm home. I'm so scared she's going to say no or even worse, get mad about it, but I can't not ask her at this point.

Two more days of classes.

I'm super tired. Good night.

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