3.22.2018

The First Three Months

This is a very important post for me, because I think its the beginning of something that's been crushed down inside me for a while. Barely existing, and yet pulsing - writhing - trying to escape. It's also important because I usually only write when I know exactly what I'm trying to say, when I have the conclusion already in mind, when I feel adequate to be heard. And none of those things are true right now. All I have to go off of is a feeling, one that's unmistakable but also kind of hard to identify. I'm full of disappointment, and hurt, and hopelessness. Anxiety, listlessness. I feel let down by just about everyone, but even more so, by myself. I have no direction, no spark. And it sucks, because this was supposed to be my time, my season. I feel like I'm holding my breath, that this can't possibly be what I'm destined to live with for the rest of my life. That this, too, shall pass. But I've already toyed with the line between disappointment and despair, and it's so, so easy to become immersed in that. To feel suffocated and immobilized, like those dreams where you're trying to run but you physically can't make your limbs move because you feel like you're under water.

And I honestly don't understand. I told myself for so long that everything would be better once I was free. I didn't think it would be gone, but I thought I'd be able to handle it. And then, barely weeks after I took my first breath of free air, I nearly lost the will to go on. I'd never felt agony like that before. But it wasn't acute, it was endless. I couldn't remember what it was like to not feel that crushing pain in my chest, the world around me going dark. That was my reality. And nobody in the entire world knew what it was like to feel like I did. I didn't want to feel better, I just wanted to feel nothing. But it wasn't like normal pain, where you can identify it's location and cause. It was me. I didn't know what it was like to exist outside of that. And even after those death hours when I stepped outside, just hours before 2018, I knew it wasn't gone. I kept saying things like, "Wow, I almost didn't make it to this year!" and "It's so weird, I feel like that was a completely different person back there." But what I really meant was, this isn't me. I didn't make it to this year, because the real me is still lying on the bathroom floor. I don't recognize this body walking around. I don't believe any of the words she's saying. She isn't real. I'm not real.

Sometimes I look around and wonder where everyone went. But then, if I can't recognize myself, how could I expect anyone else to? How could I blame them? I'm not providing anything to anyone right now. I don't qualify as a friend. I'm a charity case. I'm torn between releasing myself from people who don't serve me, who don't have my best interests at heart, and condemning myself for daring to have higher standards because I'm a shit person myself. How can I expect grace and care and patience and empathy from others, when who knows how many people feel abandoned or betrayed by me? Because when I left myself, I left them too. I probably deserve this.

How selfish can you be? You really think this is worth sulking about? How many people out there have it worse than you do, both in their heads and on the outside? How much self pity are you going to be consumed with before you do us all a favor and just leave?

I was supposed to be rediscovering myself. Redefining myself. Becoming a new, confident, fearless person who wasn't afraid to stare shit down. I was supposed to be in the mountains right now. Shouting from their peaks with no one to tell me to be quiet, no shame in making a scene.

I was starting from scratch, but I was ready. I knew then that I was a different person already, or at least becoming one. And I had just a few people who saw me for who I was becoming, recognized that light shining through this rough shell. Were ready to see me break through, and fly. It was all I needed. Then I blinked, and they were gone. And I watched as my body crumbled to pieces and felt the weight of a million heartbreaks.

I don't know where I am. I must be hiding somewhere. Most of me, anyway. There must be just a tiny bit of me left in my body for me to be writing this. Don't be surprised if it's gone after this. Every day is a toss-up. Is it going to be the numb kind, or the frantic kind? I know it doesn't have to be like this. I can get help. That was the plan all along. But it's like I'm immobilized. I can't even get out of bed some days. How the hell am I supposed to make it into someone's office? Why is the world like this? We all have enough things that are killing us from the inside. Why do we have to cause more chaos around us?

So many questions, churning around in my head. All at once. I know I don't have to answer them. They're big questions. But what am I supposed to do, ignore them? Pretend they don't exist? When those questions are things like, how many more kids and black people are going to die before we do something? The parents who bury their children don't get to ignore that question. Or, what's the point in fighting for a better world when we're all going to die anyways? I can pretend as long as I want, but the end's going to come eventually.

Maybe one day, I'll actually look back on this and not recognize the person who wrote it. But I feel like the likely outcome, best case scenario, is that she's always here, but just not the dominant one. I'll be able to occupy her a little at a time while I move forward.

12.26.2017

mosaic

I.

When she feels halfway gone
When the music seems to pierce through
her skin and muscle and bone instead of 
     flowing through her blood like water, pulsing
When she longs for the sun but when light
     touches her skin she screams and writhes in agony
And with everything she has she wants to will it
     out of her body
     spill like air
     become one with the atmosphere
     evaporate
My skin is wet tissue paper
One touch and it's torn to pieces
My walls are not titanium
     or even clay
They are the most delicate butterfly wing
It's mesmerizing I know
And please don't get too close
Because the slightest breath
And it's shredded before your eyes
And you are now
One Who Shattered A Masterpiece
and she exists
as nothing more than fibers
now tell me why anyone
would even bother
when she can be swept up with dust
and scattered

II.

So you see
the most impervious barrier of all
is one so d e l i c ate
That pure rays of light would fracture it, so 
No one bothers to even see it
They look straight through it
And how can you break
through a wall
When you don't even
know it
exists

12.18.2017

i lost count of my "fresh starts" but this one feels different

*Dec. 12*

In 5 days I turn 24... in 19 days we turn 2018. 
To say “new year, new me” would be cliche and a vast understatement. I am deciding who I want to be each day, just as each day, I play a direct role in making the world what I want it to be. 

I’m listening to window panes rattle and I’m both terrified and entranced. I’ve been waiting for this moment, and now, at 1:30 in the morning, it’s here.
My voice.
It’s here. 

I’m learning to build what isn’t yet, and to regenerate where it’s needed. We are all artists in the world, painting on the sky’s canvas, sculpting from the earth’s clay. What will we create?

If I am art, and god is the artist, she’s handed me the brush and urged me towards freedom. “My darling, made after my image, but so uniquely yourself... I can’t wait to see what you make, how you’ll finish what I started.”

I want to let go of everything in order to receive everything.
Peace, freedom, bliss...
3 breathtaking things that you don’t realize you were missing until you have them.
So can any of us accuse each other of masochism when all we’ve known is the shackles?
Even though we hold the key, if the chains blend into our arms and legs, how would we ever realize that there is a key to begin with?

For so many instances, we have things forced on us and taken away from us by people who either think they know best for us, or only know what they themselves want.
Sometimes, when faced with a true opportunity of choice, the freedom paralyzes us.
We don’t realize how seldom we have it, so when we do, we freeze.
My indecisive nature is not really me, but am extension of my discomfort with limitless opportunity.
What do I want for lunch? I’m so used to being told what to eat, or having limited options, or defaulting to someone else. But it’s just me. Why does my head start spinning? Why does my breath get slightly shallow? It’s lunch... it happens every day... and I can’t decide. Why? 

With decisions, I’m always second-guessing, and asking for the opinions of others.
Because I don’t want to regret something. I don’t want to choose wrong. But what if the choice isn’t the issue, but regret is?
I say “what if”, but I know.
We make decisions with the information we have from our own direct experience, and not the counsel of others. And if this is the case, there is no room for regret, only growth and progress.
Move forward. Embrace. Be. 


If these windows break, I’m going to go lay in the shattered glass and pretend it’s sand and ocean swirling around, indistinguishable, intertwined.
Both one and infinite.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~







9.10.2016

Uganda - June 23

We did another clinic today. There was a precious little boy with malaria and a 105 degree fever. 84 people tested positive for malaria, actually. He could barely walk, he was so weak. When they gave him the malaria shot, he cried - but as soon as the needle came out, he stopped because he was so fatigued. And even when he was crying, he didn't make any movements to struggle. They hooked him up to an IV bag that they hung to a window with a latex glove that they used to tie it. Eventually, he fell asleep, on the ground, for like six hours. I just wanted to sit there and hold him. When I got back, I thought - I should have prayed with him and his grandmother. How could I not think of that?

Oh, my heart. Less of me, more of You. I need you every day. Every hour. I need to fill myself with You. With Your love. I need Your joy and the thankfulness for those things I do have. I feel like I was more emotionally moved by the things these people go through before I came, when these things were unimaginable. Now that I've seen it all - now that it's been made real for me - I still need Jesus to give me His heart for these people. I guess I'm learning that no matter where we are, we need Him. Coming here and seeing it doesn't solve the problem. I find myself thinking, "if only people could see this! Then they would understand and have perspective." But sadly, that's not true. They wouldn't necessarily feel that compassion and love for these children. They might get it, and be a little more grateful, but likely in a "I'm glad I have what I do" kind of way. We need Jesus.

What does that look like? How do we wake up each morning and remember to surrender everything at the start of the day and have Him fill us up throughout the rest? How do we let go, and let Him move? I need that time with Him. I need to be in constant prayer. God, remind me. Remind me to give it all away, because You gave it all for me. And the only way anything I can do or say is worth anything, is if all of me is filled by You. Show me Your heart, what you would do for the world. For each of these people. How you can make beautiful things out of what we see as broken.

9.02.2016

Uganda - June 18

On our 3rd full day in Uganda, we visited a home for children with mental and physical disabilities. In most African countries, children like these are seen as a burden, unwanted, and often thought to be a curse on the family. But here, I met so many joyful souls. I saw so many carefree smiles, children dancing because they were excited to have us there just to spend time with them and love on them. The ones who could walk were pushing the wheelchairs of the ones who couldn't. I was blown away at how happy they were to care for one another.


Three sisters stole my heart that day. Their names were Samal, Amali, and Misilah, and they were 10, 8, and 5 years old. They had no arms - some sort of birth defect probably caused by drugs that the mother took during pregnancy. I talked to Amali the most - she spoke English wonderfully and had the cutest accent. And all 3 of their smiles were the most radiant I have ever seen. Oh my goodness. I just talked and played with them for pretty much the whole time we were there. Amali couldn't walk, so she had a wheelchair, and at one point her sister walked over and just sat on top of her in the chair because she got tired of standing. They were so tiny. I'll never forget seeing her bend completely over so that her tiny fingers (that came directly out of her arm socket) could reach the seat as she seemed to be searching for something. I asked her what she was looking for, and in her little voice, she said "my sweet!" which meant the lollipop I had given her. My heart melted. (One of about 15 times that day.) Then hearing their squeals of laughter while we blew bubbles in their face and they all but flung their bodies to try to reach them. So I picked up Amali and helped her chase the bubbles. Before I put her down, I touched her forehead to mine and told her that Jesus loves her, praying silently that she would know this truth in her heart as she grows up.

I also talked to a girl named Phiona, who was 21. It seemed to brighten her face to find out that I am just 22. She asked me, "Are there children like this in your country?" <3 <3 Yes, Phiona. Just like this. Except they don't have 150 of their closest friends to play with each day.

I've spent some time with disabled kids before, and they've always held a special place in my heart. But something that I can't quite put my finger on was different about these children. Maybe it was the way they helped each other, maybe it was the fearlessness and gleefulness with which they flung themselves into our arms. I feel like this is how Jesus wants us to approach him. Joyfully stumbling toward Him as fast as our sometimes crippled legs will take us.

They also found it hilarious that their tongues were blue from the lollipops :)

God is teaching me so much about myself, about His love for me, and His heart for the world. Of course, His heart breaks for it. He sees the pain and abandonment in these kids' pasts, and He grieves for them and with them. But love conquers all and endures all things. He is able to restore what is lost, and heal what is broken. Where we fall short, His grace abounds all the more. And our pain never becomes too much for Him. And I know that the joy that I saw in these children's eyes was a little bit of Jesus shining through.

8.23.2016

The Now

Don't look back at what happened
or what could have been.
Look at what is, and what will be -
what has been promised.

I am loved.
I am forgiven.
I am redeemed.
He is victorious.

He
has already
won.

Everything
from before this exact moment,
before right now as God
intertwines His heart with mine
is irrelevant.

But God, being rich in mercy,
is increasingly
wonderfully
relevant.
This is what is, this
is what He has promised.
He has defeated death and sin, and

He
is coming back
for me.

7.31.2016

Uganda - June 16

I am so sorry that I have not updated sooner. I've been settling in to my post-graduation life, and it's been fast and furious. Plus I've had computer problems. But today, Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to just reflect and rest and be. And of course my trip to Uganda was fresh on my mind (even though its hard to believe that I've been back for a month already). And oh, the memories are sweet! Here is one of my first journal entries from my time there.

Wow. Uganda. I'm in love with this place. It's so incredible. The biggest thing right now is trying to have a "Mary" heart in a "Martha" environment. It's easy to get caught up in doing, and somewhat difficult to be bale to take a step back and just love on these kids, to recognize Jesus in a situation, to gaze upon His face. But I know that it is my heart that is important, and that all my "doing" will just follow.

Some of the people on my team were talking about how faith without works is dead. And I always hate how I feel like people use it to justify focusing and placing emphasis on works. On how we look. On how we appear to others. Of course, there is truth in the verse. But I just see so many heart problems that go unnoticed (or are excused) in the wake of all the things that we think we are doing "right," that I get frustrated when people use this verse. Anyways, when it was read tonight, I immediately thought of the great Work that Jesus did on the cross. How that out-pour of love on the world was what saved us, and is the reason we live and have hope. How me saying "it doesn't matter what I do, as long as I know that I have faith" is the same thing as Jesus sitting up in heaven saying "wow, I love them so much - I sure hope they find their way to me" and keeping that love to Himself. It was his act of love, overflowing from His heart, that changed the world. It doesn't do any good if the objects of His love don't know that it's there, and it doesn't do Him any good if our faith doesn't radically change our hearts and our lives. Of course, God can see our hearts at any given moment and knows our motives, so to focus on anything besides our hearts isn't fooling Him.
See my heart. Bare it. Continue to restore it and cleanse it and redeem it.

We went to the Akiba Home for children with cancer in Kampala (the capital of Uganda) on our first full day here. The first thing I realized is that I don't know any Luganda (the language in Uganda) and that it's at first kind of hard to love on children without being able to talk, but then I also figured out how: the eyes. They are so expressive and raw. This one little girl - probably about 14, but very small - exchanged a half eye-roll/half hidden smile with me when Sherry started singing "bye bye children, bye bye children, may God bless you!" It was like, we both weren't buying it. It was awesome. And I learned that a smile is so much more than teeth. It's the soul and the eyes shining.

The next day, we did our fist medical clinic in a Sudanese village outside Kampala. Everyone else thought this was the hardest clinic because it was so disorganized and the kids were so rowdy and energetic... and it was. But I loved it. I played with the kids and had this one little boy come and sit on my lap for a good half hour while I handed out de-worming pills. All the other kids kept coming back for more biscuits (what they call cookies), but he was just wanting to spend time with us. After that, I went outside and played with the kids for a few hours. We sang songs, I tried to unsuccessfully to teach them how to play duck-duck-goose, and they thought it was hilarious because I could pick up four of them at once. At one point, about ten of them lifted me up and started to carry me away! Literally. I'll never forget their delighted squeals of laughter.

These days were perfect. Until next time. Great things He hath done.