Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lacking Passion

Sometimes, when I'm stuck and don't know where to begin, especially on such a hard topic that's been weighing on me lately, I find that it's easier to begin with a definition.  So, here goes.

Passion (as according to Merriam-Webster) is defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.

My definitions? Excitement about something you enjoy.  Motivation to do the things you love.  The drive to pursue your interests, your passions.

So, you can see how lacking passion can make life difficult, especially on someone like me, who thrives on being passionate for things I enjoy.

I mentioned in my last post that lacking passion was the main reason for my avoidance in blogging for the last month.  Yes, a lot of it was brought on my laziness, and I'm trying to do several things to combat that and get back on track.  Deleting those apps off my phone was a big one.  But it doesn't just solve everything.  It helped - for a day.  But there can't be just one easy solution to fix a growing problem.

And with a lack in passion, feeling disappears as well.  It's nice, not feeling.  Sadly, over the last few weeks, I came to enjoy it.  It makes life easier.  It spares you pain and letdown.  And, it's also relieved me of school and college application related stress, which definitely has been nice.

But the reason why this is such a problem is because feeling is what makes us human.  Certainly, it was easier, to give in and just feel nothing.  To stop fighting to live and feel.  It was less of a roller coaster, for sure.  But in those few weeks, so much was stripped from me.

First off, love was taken, and I think that was the worst of all.  I have an incredible boyfriend.  He's such a man of God, and he's been close to my heart for a while now.  During these last few weeks, it's been a fight to feel.  Fortunately, I believe that love is a choice, and that you can hold on, even through times lacking passion, and so we've made it through those days where I simply couldn't feel a thing.  I still knew why I loved him.  But I didn't feel those strong, passionate feelings of love.  And that was hard.

Not only that, I've fallen into many dark places lately, and pushed him away.  I didn't want to listen to the same wise advice, to pray, to read my Bible.  Not only have I pushed him out, but I pushed God out as well.

Sometimes, we silly humans have a way of denying ourselves of exactly what we need.  I have made so many excuses these last few months about not praying or not having my quiet time every day.  And it's come back to attack me.

I believe in spiritual warfare.  I believe Satan can, and will attack us.  I realized a month ago, that if I gave up, fell into laziness, and lost passion, that life was easier, because he stopped attacking me.  And why should he?  I'm not a threat right now.  I'm not actively seeking God.  I'm putting aside things I need to be doing and falling into temptation.  Satan doesn't need to attack me.  I've fallen far enough on my own.

See, the second I start fighting to feel again, the second I start trying is when he fights back, harder.  After about three to four days with no results that I can see, I give up, and fall back to this easy, unpassioned place.  Because at least there, I'm not under attack.  I'm let be.  It's easy.  Key word there.

The other thought on my mind lately parallels this closely: do the hard things. That's come up a lot, and I can't say that I've succeeded in that at all, especially not in this, because it's easy to give up.  This idea also applies to other things in my life, but those are other topics, for another time.

The second thing that not feeling took away from me was enjoyment for the things I love.  For many years now, I have been a writer, and I'm currently in the middle of editing the book I wrote last year.  It's a story I love, but I just haven't put the work in, because I haven't felt like it.  That's what lacking passion does to you - it makes you have no desire to do the things you enjoy.  This also goes for things like reading - I haven't read a book for fun in months - and running, which no longer seems so enjoyable, and rather that I'm always forcing myself.

In everything, I have lost passion.

And it's time to change.  Time to keep fighting, longer than four days.  Time to seek God first, and to maybe, just maybe feel again.

I know this was more of a personal speech, but this has been troubling me for a while, and cumulated today.  I decided that, if I put it out on the internet, where anyone can see, maybe I can spur a change in my heart.

I'm not ashamed of my struggles.  After all, I'm only human.  My prayer will be that I open up my heart again, and let these feelings back in.  Time for unrelenting pursuit of God.  Time for once again, living and loving with my whole heart.

Time for passion.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Four Apps I'm Deleting Off My Phone

First off, yes, I know it's been a month since I posted.  That wasn't my original goal, at all, but it's been a difficult last month and I couldn't force it out.  The main reason why I haven't posted is due to a lack of passion.  I'll write more about that later, as it is a serious topic that I'd like to analyze in writing, but for tonight, as I'm still trying to get over the hump, I want to focus on a simple topic - something I'm doing to help myself move on from this lack of passion, brought on my laziness.

My phone can be my downfall sometimes.  I'm not the kind of person who is always on my phone; however, when I have free time, that's usually where you'll find me - laying on the couch, doing something on my phone.  I don't see texting as a bad thing - at least it's social - but I'm talking about useless things that in no way contribute to my life or happiness.  I've tried to find satisfaction in them, but they always fail me, and lead to wasted time.

So, without further ado, my list of apps that I've deleted off my phone.

1. Facebook

I took this plunge about three weeks ago.  I love Facebook.  I really do.  It's a nice, easy way to stay connected with relatives and friends.  I really have nothing against it.  And more than that, I'm not judging anyone who spends a lot of time on there.  If it's your thing, sure, go for it.  It just became an issue for me.

There's a problem when I spend an hour laying in one place scrolling through Clean Funny Pictures and avoiding things like editing my book or playing the piano.  Things I truly love doing!  I've lost passion for some of those things though, because it's just easier to avoid and do mind-numbing things, like scrolling through Facebook.

So, if I want to get on Facebook, I have to use my computer.  This has helped considerably.  I check Facebook once or twice a day, for about fifteen minutes.  It's certainly a lot healthier, and I know that I'm a lot happier because of it.

2. YouTube

This is a HUGE one, that I did just today.  And this is the one that I think will benefit me the most.

I'm not even talking about the content of YouTube videos, although yes, that can be a problem.  I'm talking about the sheer amount of time that YouTube consumes.  I don't see anything wrong with watching the new video from one of my favorite channels once or twice.  But, it's easy to pull up one short video and get sucked in.  It goes back to the Facebook thing.  It becomes an addiction, and that's when it's a problem.

I realized after an hour and a half on YouTube today, following over an hour yesterday, watching videos that I don't even care about or have already seen several times before, that it's become a problem.  So, I need to make it less accessible to me.

Goodbye, YouTube app.  Again, if I need to view a video, I can get on my computer, but that makes it more of a hassle, and I won't be compelled to waste so much time on there.

3. Candy Crush Saga

At level 365, this game stopped being fun.  Yet, I still felt compelled to obsessively play it while watching TV, instead of doing something healthier.

Like, tonight, while watching the new Heartland, I painted my nails.  Maybe it wasn't productive, but it was definitely more calming than getting frustrated over some silly game.  I used to knit or draw or practice Gallifreyan writing (yes, I know, I'm a huge nerd) while I watched TV.  And now, I've turned to TV and video games at the same time.  It's not healthy.

Also, there's the temptation to spend money to beat that one annoyingly impossible level.  So, bye Candy Crush!  Time to replace you with things I actually enjoy!

4. InstaFollowers

This may be sort of a stupid one.  I know.  But it's something that I've used for a while now, and lately I've realized just how silly it really is.

Basically, it tracks whoever unfollows you on instagram, and who isn't following you back and such.

First off.  How self-centered is this?!  Why does it matter who unfollows me?  The day I start obsessing over how many followers I have is the day I have lost myself to social media.  And I refuse to let that happen.  So, I'm taking the steps now to save myself from falling into that place.

If you want to unfollow me, go right ahead.  I'm sure my outdoor pictures from work, my piano videos, my selfies, and shots of my homework must get old.  I won't take any offense.  Because, that's kind of a silly thing to take offense about.  Most of the time I never notice if people unfollow me, anyway.  As it should be.

So there you have it.  My list of apps I'm keeping off my phone, at least for this next year.  If, in the future, I decide I can handle Facebook again, it might come back, (the others I don't really care about) but for now, I'm content having my phone free from those time-sucking apps.  My phone has a pitifully low number of apps.  But I like it that way.  And besides, I can fill it up with pictures instead...

Are there any apps that are keeping you captive?  If so, I encourage you to delete them, no matter how fun they may seem.  It's freeing, to click that X on the corner of the app, and watch that addiction slide away to oblivion.

My prayer for the next few days will be asking God to reclaim my time, to focus it back on Him and the things I love.  To remove these distractions.  To live the life I was meant to live.

Thank you God, for blessing me with so much time.  Let me use it for your glory, and not for trying to satisfy myself.  Give me strength, as I attack the future with passion, instead of laziness.  Let my every action serve you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Anticipation Turned Fear

For the past year, I have repeatedly said that I cannot wait to leave high school.  And that's true - I am eagerly awaiting college.  It has been on my mind for a while now, and it's something I've looked forward to with nothing but eager anticipation.

Until now.

Because, yesterday, I realized that I was actually terrified about it.

Let me explain.  For the past several months, my life has been college applications.  I've been so worried about writing essays and getting letters of recommendations, that my focus has been placed on getting into college, and getting money for college.

Not about what I'm actually going to do when I'm at college.

This doesn't have to do with academics.  I'm fairly confident in my choice of a Chemistry/Pre-Med major.  Who knows, it could change, but for now, I'm content.  No, this centers around picking which college, and then what I'm going to do there.

I've always been able to make fairly wise decisions.  That's not the problem.  The real problem is that I dread making those decisions.  I get so worked up and stressed out about them, because they are big things that will affect the rest of my life.  Kind of terrifying, when you think about it that way.  (Also, I'm kind of a worrier.  It's not a good thing, and it's something I've tried to get out of.  I'm better than I used to be.  But I still worry.)

Now that applications are done, the focus is now off getting into college.  I've done all that I can do.  Now, it comes down to my choice.  And this is something that worries me lately.  Yes, I am continuing to have faith that God will make it all work out - but also, part of it comes down to my personal choice in the matter.

The other part of my worry comes from the fact that, well, I'm leaving.  I will be leaving Fort Mill, where I have lived all my life, and entering a new city.  I will be leaving my family, and although I've always been independent, it's a little scary.

These fears haven't hit me before now, because I've been focusing on the excitement of the matter.  But now, as the excitement dies down while I wait for a little while, I am also afraid.

But back to Isaiah: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (41:10)

I may not have it all figured out yet.  But He certainly has a wonderful plan in store for me.  Whatever happens, I will continue to take faith in that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Have Faith and Wait

I submitted the rest of my college applications last night, leading to a grand total of nine different schools.  Yes, it's a lot, but I wanted to make sure I covered all my bases.  I'm pretty sure I did.

Duke.  Vanderbilt.  Furman.  University of Richmond.  Wake Forest.  Wofford.  Clemson.  Virginia Tech.  Liberty.  Two Ivy League schools, four private (sub-ivys), two state schools, and one Christian college.  It's a ton, but I'm glad all of my applications are in.

Crazy thing is, I'm pretty sure that I could be happy at most of these places.  I have some idea where I want to go, but there's still so much up in the air.  I won't get admissions letters for another four months.  I won't find out whether or not I received scholarships or financial aid until the spring.  And, of course, that's a major consideration.

Thus, I have several months of waiting until I can make any decisions.  For me, that's very difficult.

Those who know me well know that I have never been a particularly patient person.  When needed, I can wait, sure.  But for big things like college, which are always on my mind?  It's incredibly hard for me to wait.  And I have to, for several months.

This isn't the only thing I've been called to wait on lately.  Several other examples come to mind.  Some are harder to wait for than others, but they are all things I will gladly wait for.

Honestly, I believe that God grows us the most through periods of waiting.  Because, most of the time, when we have to wait, we don't know what we're doing.  We have no plans, because we have to wait to make them.  We have little knowledge of what's going to happen.  So, we must wait on God, and rely on Him to get us through the future.

Waiting forces us to have faith.  To trust Him.  And I consider it to be a privilege, that he's making me wait.  Because obviously, there's something he's trying to teach me in the process.  Again.  I don't know what that is yet.  But I look forward to finding out everything that he has in store for me.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33-34 (these also happen to be two of my favorite verses)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Wanting More

Those who know me well know that I am very excited to leave for college next fall.  Sometimes, my constant craving of college life can get a bit obsessive.  I'm not content where I am now.  It's a daily struggle.

A lot of it stems from loneliness.  I have such a small social life this year.  My good friends are busy, or I'm busy with classes.  My boyfriend is four hours away.  It's a tough year, and I absolutely until I get to meet new people at college.

This weekend, though, I think it's come from jealousy.  One of my current top choices for college, Liberty University in Virginia, does this program called "College For A Weekend" where high school students can come and spend a weekend on campus and go to classes and school events and such.  It's actually this weekend, and originally, I was planning on going.  Then several things came up, and besides, I didn't even have a ride up there.  So I was unable to attend this weekend, and honestly, it's been getting to me.

This was also paired with the fact that I spent nearly six hours yesterday working on college application essays, which was exhausting.  I'm ready for all of this senior year stuff to be over.  I'm ready to leave, to start over, to have some new experiences.  I hear my boyfriend talk about the wonderful experiences he's having up at Liberty, and I get terribly jealous, instead of being content where I am right now.  That's wrong of me, and it's something I've been battling for a long time.

However, yesterday I was reminded of the parable in the Bible, where three servants were entrusted with small portions of their master's fortune, to test them, to see what they would do with it.  The ones who were faithful even with just the small amounts were rewarded, and given more responsibilities

This doesn't just apply to money.  This applies to everyday life.  Are we being faithful in the little things that God has entrusted us with?  If not, why would He give us bigger things?

For me personally, my senior year feels like one of those "little things".  I don't have as much responsibility as I'd like.  I don't have as many opportunities as I'd like.  I don't have as many people in my life as I would like.  My world feels terribly small, and I desire more.  However, if I am not faithful in what I have been given now, how would I be faithful with more?

If I am not bothering to spend time with the few people around me now, what makes me think that I will take the time to make friends at college?  If I am letting opportunities pass by me now, what makes me think that I will take advantage of the new opportunities available at to me at college?

College is not going to fix my life.  Simple as that.  It's not.  It will be a time of great growth for me, but that doesn't mean that growth has to wait to begin until I get there.  It begins now.  In the little things, so that when I am given those bigger things, I will be prepared.  Growth begins today.

And part of that also means that I need to live in today.  I need to enjoy each and every day God has given me, rather than have the mindset of "nine more months and I'll get to go away to college."  No.  I need to enjoy today.

I am making a commitment, today, to being faithful in the little things.  And I cannot wait to see what bigger things God has in store for me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

His Strength

Isaiah is becoming a new favorite, namely, chapters 40-42.  Every time I read them, God shows me something new through those powerful sections.  Today was no different.

I realized this morning, when I reread those chapters, that I didn't completely comprehend who God was, despite saying that I know Him for so long. To clarify - I've been a Christian for most of my life.  I've gone to church my whole life.  I've always been close to Christianity - lately, however, it's becoming more of a personal thing, which is great.  It's what it's supposed to be.

It's also difficult, though.  Part of making faith your own is discovering who God is to you.  And this morning, I realized that I truly do not know.

Of course, it's impossible to have any real comprehension of who God is.  He is too great and powerful for human comprehension.  But I've lost sight of who he is to me.  I say He's powerful and great, but do I really mean that?

Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and when I spend my time worrying about homework or college or conflict with others, am I really trusting Him?  Is that really showing that I believe that He is bigger and stronger than all that?

Truth be told, worrying is just a sign that I'm not trusting God enough.  I make excuses for it a lot: "I'm trying to worry, it's just how I am!" or "My life is crazy and stressful, I can't help being worried!"  That's also wrong.  What I have is a lack of trust.  And how can that trust be found?

I honestly think that by seeking God, by trying to discover who He is, and how great His strength is, I will be able to more willingly place my trust in Him.  If I truly believe that He is all-powerful, why would I not trust Him?  If He is greater than my problems and greater than my fears, why should I worry?

I'm going to close today with some wonderful verses from Isaiah, that drive this point home.  I'm also dedicating this next week or so to memorizing them, because these are words that I need to have in my heart.

"Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Has it not been told you from the beginning?  Have you not understood since the earth was founded?  He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.  He brings princes to naught, and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.  No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwinds sweeps them away like chaff.  "To whom will you compare me?  Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.  Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."

Isaiah 40:21-26

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Running - My Story of Discouragement, Perseverance, and Long-Awaited Success

I have run for nearly four years.

I've been a runner for one.

The difference between "just running" and "being a runner" is huge, actually.  And the main thing that separates the two is motivation.

I think last fall, my junior year, was when I began to take running a bit more seriously.  I was training for a half marathon with my mom, but I did a walk/run program.  Of course, it's hard enough to do a half marathon anyway, but I definitely didn't push myself to my full potential.  I wasn't bad, but I lacked some of the motivation that I've so recently discovered.

This fall, I signed up to run on a homeschool cross country team.  And it was the best choice I have ever made.

I've never considered myself to be athletic.  Like, at all.  I've played sports before, but I was never the greatest.  I wasn't usually a starter on my rec soccer team, but I wasn't horrible. I've run (ish) before, but I was never the greatest.  I averaged about 32-minute 5Ks before this season.

It's easy for me to say "well, at least I did something!  A lot of teenagers don't."  And, although that's true, it's also kind of a cop-out.  I realized that this summer, and I wanted to change that.

So I signed up for cross country, not really sure what I was getting myself into.  I could barely run two miles without stopping at my first practice (and I had run two-three days a week before work all summer to prepare).  I was discouraged.  Everyone on the team was better than me, it seemed.  I couldn't breathe when I tried to run faster.  I had so many moments of wanting to give up.

A month into the season, we ran our first race.  I finished at 29:59, and in all honesty, I was just thrilled to break 30 minutes - even though I had to stop and walk a few times.  It was a good race, and I was happy with how my season had begun.

Then came the discouragement.  And oh, how hard it came.

Practices went well enough.  I could complete the workouts without many problems - running, on average 3 miles, without stopping to walk.  One friend of mine often ran with me, and she pushed me.  It was going great.  I thought that I would be good to go on my next 5K.

I was wrong.  I faded out after 2 miles, and ended up on the ground throwing up.  I walked and ran the last mile, and ended up with a time of about 31:00.  I was highly discouraged.  I thought that I must be a failure, since I added time.

So I trained harder, and I thought I was ready for my next race.  See, my goal all along was to break 27 minutes.  My fastest 5K ever was on the road last spring.  I did walk/run it, but I did it in about 28 minutes.  So, my goal all season was to beat 27.  I was determined that this race would be it.  I was determined to push.

But the discouragement struck again.  I had to walk most of the race due to breathing problems, and finished in close to 32 minutes.  Added time again.  Felt like a failure again.  After that race, I actually debated quitting, right then and there.  It was so discouraging, and all I wanted to do after the race was cry.  I had fallen, and I did not want to get back up.

I did, however.  And that week, I actually went to the doctor and found out that I probably had exercised-induced asthma.  I got an inhaler, and began using it before every one of my runs.  It helped some, but I still had breathing problems.  I had to learn to control my breathing, which made it a lot more difficult.  But it was nice to finally have an explanation for my troubles.

I ran faster at my next race - about 27:30.  I couldn't beat 27, however.  I broke down close to mile 3, and ended up on the ground again, trying not to be sick.  Trying to breathe.  But I made it to the finish. (I consider that to be my greatest finish - my boyfriend drove four hours down from college to surprise me at the finish.  I hadn't seen him in six weeks, and it was an incredible surprise.  But that's another story, for another time.)

So okay.  I was finally taking off time.  Next race I could be sub-27, right?

Nope. Try 29.  I was discouraged, again.  I was crying at the finish, again.  And I wanted to give up, again.  At the end of that race, I was debating telling my coach that I wasn't going to race ever again, because it only ended in frustration.  But instead, I wiped away the tears and walked down to the finish to cheer my team on.  I ran the last .1 alongside every member of our team and cheered them on.  And although it was such an upsetting race, I consider it to be one of the best nights of my life.  I found joy in being an encourager.  (Again, that's a wonderful story, but for another time.)

I wanted to quit many times over the next few weeks.  Practices were hard.  My breathing was awful.  My knee started to hurt.  But I hung on, and trained hard.

And that's when things changed for the better.  Because at my next race, I ran my 5K in 25:56, and I did not walk a single step.  The course was very easy, yes, but I broke 26.  And I could not have been more thrilled.

Success didn't end there.  Today was my state meet.  That course was hard.  Very hard.  And the conditions certainly weren't ideal.  It was cold, and cold air is hard to breathe.  But I pushed.  Even though I ended up in tears for half of the second mile.  It was a hard, hard race.  I came under a lot of emotional, physical, and spiritual attack during that race.  But I pushed.  And I fought.  Because I no longer give up.


That was my last time of the season. 25:13.  I cannot express how happy I am.  More so, I am thankful to God for giving me such wonderful success.  I fought for it.  Not one step was easy.  I persevered, despite all those struggles, and I was rewarded.  I wanted to quit, day after day, but something kept me going.  And now I understand.

I don't love running solely because of the physical challenge.  It is an emotional battle for me.  It is me fighting a battle against myself, against my mind.

And I have finally won.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall's Beauty

Fall is my favorite season, and I could go on and on about how beautiful it is.  Instead, I have several pictures I took while at work at the Greenway today, because I feel like these photos say a lot more.

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I love looking at the beauty of the world, because it reminds me of just how great and amazing God is.  He has given us such an incredible world to live in, and I will never grow tired of praising Him for it.  I will forever be enthralled by nature.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What Is a Friend?

I spoke at my youth group on friendship tonight.  As much as I dislike public speaking, I readily accepted the opportunity to write a small piece and present it.  Here's what I chose to say :)


What is a friend? Webster's dictionary defines it simply as, “one you like and enjoy being with.” Usually, the dictionary can be fairly helpful, but I find a lack of depth in this answer. And honestly, I'm unsure if there’s an easy, yet better, way to answer this question.

Perhaps, then, it’s easier to start with what a friend is not. Friendship is not one-sided. It’s not about what you get from the other person, or what they get from you. A friend shouldn't be someone you idolize. True friends are equals. A friend should be your partner, not your leader nor your follower.

What is a friend, then?  

A friend is someone who you respect and who respects you, someone whom you trust with your whole heart, and who trusts you. A friend is someone who loves you, and would do anything for you. John 15:13, one of the greatest verses in the Bible about friendship, says that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Friends are selfless.

It’s that person you can call in the middle of the night, and they’ll still pick up the phone. The one who you can do the most menial things with, and they won't care, because they just want to spend time with you. You can vent to them, and they won't judge you. They’ll support you through anything – but they’ll also tell you the truth when you need to hear it. And you’ll listen – because you value and respect them. More than anything, they should be the people who point you towards God, who push you towards pursuing him every day.

So, then, what is a friend? I'm not sure there’s any one definition. Because, more than anything, a friend is someone who is there. Through good times and bad, through fights and conflict. At the end of my life, I won't remember every friend I ever had a good time with. But I will remember the friends who stood by my side, even it was hard. 

Because, in my opinion, that’s what a true friend should be – loyal. We can't always expect our friends to be perfect. At one time or another, they will let us down, but a friendship can always be repaired. Forgiveness and friendship go hand in hand. We don't have to be the perfect friend, because it is impossible for any of us to ever be perfect. But we can be there for one another. And sometimes, that’s all we need.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Choose to Be an Optimist

For years, I've struggled with pessimism.  I call it realism, as many other pessimists do, but that's wrong.  Being pessimistic about everything is not being realistic.  Call it what you want, but pessimism is the absence of hope.  Most people doesn't seem to define it like that.  They say it's just "being prepared for the worst" or "not getting your hopes up" but it's much, much for than that.  It's much deeper than that.

The Webster dictionary has many different definitions for pessimism.  None of them are very positive, but one stuck out to me: "Pessimism: the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness in life."  In simpler terms, it the mindset that there is more bad in the world than good.  The idea that everything is going to be awful, and nothing is going to go your way.  Negativity.  Hopelessness.  It isn't Christ-like.  Not at all.  God has called us to be a light in the world, to shine despite the darkness around us.

I've lied to myself about it for years.  I've made pessimism out to be better than it actually is.  I've made so many excuses about it, saying that it's how I am, and that I can't change.  However, pessimism is a sin.  And sin is always a choice.  Certainly, it's easier to sin.  Likewise, it's easier to be pessimistic than optimistic.  But it is a choice.

I've let myself get away with it, even more so lately.  I'm not even talking about the way I'll be hard on myself, although, that is uncalled for as well.  No, I'm talking about the way I choose (yes, I said choose - it IS a choice) to see a situation.

God broke me today.  I've been holding on for a long time, but today was my breaking point.

It started with an eight mile run this morning with my mom.  After two miles, I said I couldn't do it.  I complained the rest of the way.  Said I was too sore, that I couldn't breathe.  And although, yes, I greatly struggle when running, it was my choice to see the negative.  And when my mom called me out on it, I made excuses about why I was like that. "I'm just a pessimist, it's how I am!" "I hate that I'm like this, but it's not my choice!" "I've tried to change, but I can't!"  Lie. Lie. Lie.  Thus, my run was miserable, because I ruined it with my pessimistic attitude.

Moving on to later.  I was talking with my boyfriend, possibly one of the greatest encouragers in the world, and as the conversation progressed, I realized that I had nothing positive to say.  I spoke negatively about a situation that's coming up that I'm dreading.  I spoke terribly of myself, and wouldn't listen to a word he said.  I fell into one of the darkest places I've ever been.

This resulted in a breakdown of sorts.  But it helped, in a way - I felt utterly broken.  Sometimes God has to bring us to that point to get through to us.  And well, it worked.  I pulled out my Bible and read for a while.  Talked to him for a while.  I realized that I have been so lost lately.  I haven't trusted.  I haven't had hope.

Even more so lately, I have fallen into the trap that is pessimism, and it needs to stop.

I realized why I'm like this, also.  Certainly, I don't enjoy being negative!  I hate it.  But I do it out of fear.  In my mind, if I prepare myself for the worst, when it happens, it makes it easier to swallow, because I was expecting it anyway.  Sure, it may save me from some hurt, but it's an awful way to live.  In preparing myself for the worst, it ended up that all I would ever see would be the worst.  I would walk into a situation, telling myself "this isn't going to go how you would like it go," so that I wouldn't be let down.

I am afraid of dashed hopes.  So I "protect" myself from them, by never hoping.  But that is not helping me at all.  It is robbing myself of one of the greatest gifts that God gave mankind - hope.  The ability to dream and wish and pray.  Not to always think of the worst, but to hope for better.  By being a pessimist, I have robbed myself of that joy.  And that ends now.

I suppose the verse that most stuck out to me today was Isaiah 41:10. (I would greatly recommend reading Isaiah 40-42, such words of encouragement that really pulled me out of a dark place today.)  And this verse in particular says. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand."  I should not be afraid of the worst.  I should look to the future with hope, and trust that God will give me the strength to encounter whatever difficulties come my way.  There is no need to be a pessimist.

I am making the choice.  Today, I choose to be an optimist, and that is a choice I will continue to make for the rest of my life.  I am tired of how I am.  I am tired of the negativity.  I am tired of not knowing hope.  So I am making this commitment, between God and myself, to change.  Because I can change.

And it is a change I am more than willing to make.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Bittersweet End

Tonight was my Cross Country team's end of season banquet.  Another ending, another reminder that this is my last year at home.  There are a lot of "lasts" this year.  Sometimes I lost sight of that; that this is really my last year of high school.  It's easy to forget sometimes.  And then there are nights like tonight where it stares me in the face.  Where it's repeated over and over again how this is my "last year here" and everyone makes a big deal of me leaving.

It's exciting - I love being a senior.  I love being an example.  But at the same time, it's a bit strange.  Not to be cliche, but the only word that truly describes my senior year is "bittersweet."  For the past year, I have been ready to leave high school.  And as each day passes by, I become more and more ready to move on.  Ready to accept more responsibility.  Ready to meet new people and have new experiences.

And then there are times where I am reminded of how great of an experience high school can be, and I'm once again sad about leaving.  Even though I feel ready.

Senior year is hard.  It's hard because, in my mind, I feel like I've already moved on from all this.  I'm past the situations and the drama.  But at the same time, I'm constantly reminded that this is my last time to experience all these things.  My last gathering with my Cross Country team.  My last fall dance with my friends.  My last fall at home, even.  It is truly bittersweet.  Because I am so ready to leave - a sentiment I've repeated over and over again this past year - and then again, I am not ready to go.

I spent most of my evening tonight with these two incredible middle school girls.  After running with them for over three months, I have come to love both of them so much.  They have the sweetest, kindest hearts, and I am blessed to know them.  They bring me so much joy every time I'm around them, and we have the greatest times goofing off together.  Between singing "Let It Go" during practice at the top of our lungs and screaming those ridiculous inside jokes, even around strangers, we've shared so much laughter.  They have taught me what pure joy looks like.  They have showed me to be an encourager, and to smile even in the hardest circumstances. And I am truly thankful that they've been put in my life this year.

And somehow, they look up to me.  I guess it's because I'm a senior, the oldest on the team, and they look to me as an example.  It's partly flattering.  It's also extremely humbling.  I'm not perfect.  I never will be.  But I still have the opportunity to change lives, in spite of my imperfections and failures.

I spend so much time longing for more.  Longing to be free from high school and out of the house.  Longing to be living that college life; taking care of myself and studying the things I enjoy.  There's nothing wrong about being excited for tomorrow.  Yet, Biblically, we should be living in the present, and enjoying the situations that God has placed us in right now.  James 4:13-15 says "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"

Hard to swallow sometimes, but it's the truth.  And it is God's will that I be at home right now.  I'm not "stuck" here.  I've been placed here, to do something great, while God readies me to do even greater things next year.  Sure, I'm not living it up at college yet.  I'm not meeting a hundred new people.  I haven't been able to have a huge impact on the world.  But, I have had an impact on two precious middle school girls.  And that is more than enough.

I truly am sad that my senior year is passing so quickly.  It is the very definition of bittersweet.  But I am so, so excited for what God has in store for me.

“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.” 

- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Talent and Jealousy

"We all have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  if your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teaching; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, the give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." Romans 12:6-8

God has all given us different gifts and talents.  At youth group tonight, the message was on using our talents for God's glory, which is an important topic, and likely one that I'll write about again.

But I'm going to draw a tangent from the typical "spiritual gifts" conversation.

The main thing that hit me tonight, during the message, was not that I should be better using the gifts that God, although that is true.  No, what mainly stuck out to me is that I need to love the talents God gave me, and stop desperately wanting the talents that other people have.

It's not that I need to give up trying to be good at things I enjoy, or give up and stop trying new things.  It's more that I need to stop being jealous when people have gifts that I want.  I should embrace the gifts God gave me, and stop longing to have the different talents that God has given other people.

Take singing for example.  Yes, I'm one of those people who can't sing.  Now, that doesn't keep me from singing, in the slightest.  I still raise my voice to worship God.  Does it sound good?  No.  But I still sing.  The problem is that I'll fall into this jealousy when I hear other people sing.  Instead of just enjoying their voice, I'll think wow, I wish I could sing like that.  Why can't I sing like that?  I wish I had their voice.  I wish I was talented like they are.  And so on and so forth.

I don't want to think like that.  Not at all.  But it's something I slip into all the time, and I realize that it needs to stop.  It's not just with singing, either.  It's the same with running, or writing, or dancing, or playing sports.  I constantly want the skills that others have been given, and it's not healthy.

I need to come to peace with who I am.  I need to accept the talents that God gave me, and come to grips with the fact that no, I may not be as good at those things as others are.  I may never be the world's best writer.  That shouldn't stop me from sharing my stories with the world.  I won't be the best runner.  But that shouldn't stop me from completing that marathon someday (and yes, I am going to do that someday.  Hopefully within the next five years.)

My point is, God has gifted each and every one of us in different, amazing ways.  And we need to embrace those gifts, instead of wanting others.  Because I truly believe He gave us what we have for a greater purpose.

And I can't wait to discover mine.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Those living in America know that this is tragic day for our country.  Today, September 11th, is the thirteenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the two towers in New York.  I'd love to say that I think it's gotten better since then, but sadly, I don't believe that at all.

I was watching the President's Address on TV last night, where he was addressing the threats by ISIS.  For those who don't know, they are a Middle Eastern terrorist group who are currently responsible for the death of several thousand people, many of whom are Christians.  The death toll is rising, and will continue to rise if they aren't stopped.

In the address, the president said that America would take action against them.  But in reality, they're not planning to do much.  We're not actually fighting them.  Yes, we are taking some action, but perhaps not enough to actually make a big difference.

It frustrates me that our country isn't doing much to stop them.

I've been reading through Romans lately, and today, the chapter for me to read was Romans 13, and the beginning of this chapter stuck out to me, especially with everything that's going on lately.

"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves." (v.1-2)

It's funny how God provides just the right scripture for me to read in different situations.  I would say that it was a crazy coincidence, but I don't believe in such.  I think God has everything happen for a reason.

But anyway, into what these verses are saying.  They're saying that we should honor the authorities, because God has established them.  It's not saying that he have to like who's in charge.  It's saying that we should still respect them and obey them, or else we will bring judgment upon ourselves.

I may not agree with the government's stance on some things.  But that's okay.  As long as I respect those over me and obey their laws, I'm doing what God has commanded.

However, I will continue to be praying for those suffering overseas, and I encourage you all to do a same.  Terrorism is at a high right now, and those who fall victim to it need our prayer.  I pray that God will cause us to step out of ourselves, to set aside our selfishness, and try to help those who really need it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

I've been wasting my life away on meaningless things lately, and I've started this blog because I want to focus on the important.  I want to focus on my walk with God, on the things I write, on the relationships I'm forming.

I'm not much of a writer.  Not yet.  So I ask you to bear with me as I start this blogging experience.  It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but I've never found the time to do.  I admire people who blog every day, and I always think that I could never do it. "I'm too busy," I say.  "I have too many classes, too much homework."

But this morning, I realized that it's not about not having the time.  And those are just excuses.  Because when it comes down to it, I do have the time.  What about the hour I spent on social media each day?  What about that time spent in front of the TV or playing video games?  Do I really need that?  In all honesty, wasting time like that isn't fulfilling.  Sure, it's nice to enjoy laziness.  It sure feels nice while you're doing it, but afterwards, I always feel frustrated with myself.

The average life is 657,000 hours long.  Simply put, that's not a long time.  We all need to learn how to manage our time to honor God - because we don't have much of it.

This morning, I made a list of things that I wanted to cut down on.  Sadly, it wasn't hard to come up with over half a dozen things.  It's easy to spend my free time enjoying laziness!  That changes now.  The next list I wrote was one of things that I wish I had more time to do.  Everything from learning the guitar, to writing more books, to daily Bible study and prayer, to, yes, blogging.  This list was even longer than the first.  There's so much I want to do with my life.  So I'm done wasting my time.

I want my life to honor God.  So, I'm going to try to cut down on the things in the first list, and enjoy some of those things in the second list.  I want to make the most of the time I have.  After all, I don't have long.