Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rambling of a Confused Mind

This blog posting may not be as enjoyable to read as it is to write. Actually, the reality of this post is that it was a long time in the making. I have been mulling over what has been missing in my life the past few weeks and with the helpful advice of a dear friend (oh wise Lamb Chop!) I've decided to just write.

Writing seems to have a magical quality about itself that when the pen meets the page (or rather the fingers meet the keys) something changes on the inside of the writer. I've been experiencing a personal disconnect between by feelings and thoughts and words. Though no dramatic shift has occurred, I am once again at a point of confusion over what I think or feel.

I want to take some time to try and express how/what I am feeling. I'm not sure how this is going to go or even if it makes any sense but I hope that in the end I will come to a better understanding of myself.

Of what will come
And of what has been
Am I stuck or have I just began
These familiar faces smile and ask
How are you? How have you been?

I wish I had a better answer
Or at least an understanding of the truth
Instead all I can say is "I'm good."
What is good? How can you know?

What is understanding?
Will I ever find what I'm looking for?
Lord, teach me to be obedient and trust that you are at work. 

What else is going on inside of me? It seems as though I've gotten so caught up in everything that I have to do or am expected to do that I go into autopilot and shut off my emotions so I can get through it all. I've forgotten what it means to live life to the fullest....and that makes me really sad. Why have I been letting life past me by?!?! And to top it off, when I do have free time or a day off from work I don't spend time with God and I try to escape my own thoughts because I'm afraid of what I'll find....

But it's not all gloom and doom for me. I am not in despair and I have no doubt that God will prove faithful and use this uncertainty for His purposes. And it's comforting to remember that even though I may think that I've been side-lined, God will never let me go and he will never stop teaching me.

I do need to remember that even though God can do incredible things in my life, I can't continue living my life in this manner. I need to wake up and decide each and every day to be intentional about how I spend my time. Not because I'm working for God's love or trying to ease my guilty conscience, but rather I want to live my life in an honoring way to Lord because of my deep love for Jesus Christ. If you all could be praying for me, I would greatly appreciate it and I know that I could definitely use to support of my Christian family. And if you ever think of me, a word of encouragement goes a long way! :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reflections on a year gone by...

Bags packed, goodbyes to be made, and a big change up ahead. The end brings the same feeling of uncertainty that the beginning brought. Instead of questions of what is ahead, my mind and heart are flooded with questions of what just happened. How did my first year of college come by so quickly? What did I learn during all the new experiences, classes, and challenges? How did I change?

I feel very disoriented. Life has been like a train carrying me on a journey of growth and change and now that this year is over, that train has come to a screeching halt and I'm left wondering "where am I?" Not only do I not recognize where I am but I don't know where to go from here.

I've had some amazing moments here at Crown. God has blessed me with friends who teach me how to love better, laugh harder, and listen more. I've been inspired by passionate professors, servant leaders, and generous donors. Classes have taught me discipline, self-control, and self-motivation. The dorms have taught me patience, the importance of honesty and gentle confrontation, and that I'm not as much of a "people person" that I thought I was. hehe.

Though all of the ups and downs of this year, I have discovered a lot about myself. And I would like to attempt to tell you some of these new insights about myself that I've learned. Some are good and some are not as good. It is my aim to transparent with all of you so you get the good, the bad, and the messiness that is  me. :)

    1. In order to remain sane I need much more alone time than I ever realized. This is extremely hard on a small campus where you can't really escape people. Next year, my goal is to be intentional about this alone time even if that means waking up very early to spend some time with God.

    2. Confrontation is SO hard for me. I fear hurting people and losing relationships and therefore I've avoided confrontation and made a mess of a lot of my friendships this year. Luckily, my friends have stuck it out with me and taught me the importance of being open and honest with each other even when it's painful.

    3. As much as college has empowered me to grow up, I have found a new love of embracing the little kid inside of me whenever I get the chance. This includes everything from using my imagination and making up games, to watching some of my favorite kids movies, to taking naps, and eating PB&J. :)

    4. You really discover a lot about yourself by what the people who live with you teach you. From my roommates, I've learned that I have a tendency to act like a mom, I love it when one of my roommates comes and cuddles with me on my bed, and that I may be a little too open about certain things. They've taught me that you can't assume you know what someone else is thinking or feeling and most importantly that even though I can't control how others treat me, I can control how I respond to them. I've had 5 different roommates over the course of this year and I've learned so much from each and everyone of them.

    5. The need I had in high school to be perfect at everything is slowly crumbling and it's as if a huge weight is being lifted off my shoulders. I am not perfect and that is okay. I'm content with doing my best in a class and getting a B. I'm okay with not always having it together. It's perfectly fine to be imperfect.This is a big step for but it hasn't been an overnight accomplishment. It's been one little step at a time.

    6. There are a lot of aspects of a Christian community that I do not understand and I have found myself extremely frustrated and confused at times here at Crown. My perspective is unlike most students here at Crown and I've learned that I struggle with being open minded to others opinions. I've continually had to take a step back and pray for a wider viewpoint. Before coming to Crown, I never understood why there were so many divisions in the Church of God...now I see the difficulty of Jesus' commandment "Love your brothers and sisters..."

    7. Being in a new place surrounded by people that don't have a history with me has taught me that I'm not bound by my past. This year I've been slowly separating myself from my family, my old life, and the person I always felt pressured to be. This hasn't been easy and it's been a painful process. I've finally become my own person but it's not as fun as I imagined it when I was younger. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to go back in time or be a kid again but sometimes the responsibility of being an adult is a lot to carry.

    8. Someone gave me a list of "Personal Rights" and I want to share a few of them with you. I've been thinking a lot about them and they've been really helpful for me to take better care of myself.
           You have the right to:
              *change your mind
              *be treated with respect
              *be listened to and taken seriously
              *set your own priorities
              *say "I need time to think that over"
Each of these have helped me to see that I don't have to feel guilty or be manipulated into anything. But it's always important to remember that everyone else has these same rights so I can't get angry when they do these things either.

    9. I've learned that it is extremely difficult for me to have the Bible as a textbook. It messes with my head about spending time with God. I'm in the Bible all the time because of homework yet I know that at times this year I have felt spiritually dry and in need of time with God. I did a horrible job of  being consistent with that this year and I now know the self-motivation I need to make that a pattern of my life. But I will not allow the guilt of my mistakes to stop me from getting better at disciplining myself so that I can connect with God through times with him.

The last thing I want to share with all of you is this: I have discovered that change isn't always a bad thing. It's difficult and can be painful at times but it is worth it. Life will always change and circumstances will change and yet God will always remain the same. As I say goodbyes to friends today and move on to the plans God has for me this summer, I know that next year will bring about new lessons and new memories that I will treasure for ever. :) I am so thankful and I am hopeful that things will only continue to get better.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A change of mind....

While I'm back in the swing of things. But this time, I feel like things are flying 100 mph! I only have 3 more weeks until this semester ends and I have plenty to keep me busy with until then. Not only, are classes throwing a lot of work at me but there are a lot of decisions that I am making that need to be finalized before summer break.

Even though all of these unknowns and possibilities before me would have stressed me out and made me very irritable before this year, that is not the case right now. I am blessed to have this contentment with where I am in life that I can only explain as a gift from God. It is natural for me to doubt or worry in the face of decisions so it is refreshing to find this peace about the chaos that is being a freshmen in college.

I am at peace with the unknown. I'm beginning to realize that letting go over the worry or need for control isn't as hard as I once thought it was. Trying to figure out everything little detail about the future is not a productive use of my time. There are certain time of life, and I'm in one right now, where not knowing every detail is actually a blessing not a curse. If I knew everything that I would face in the next 4 to 6 years, I think I would have a mental breakdown.

There are certain things about my future that I beginning to figure out and I would love to share them with all of you :) First of all, I have a better idea of what I want to do for a career. This semester I've decided to start an Alcohol and Drug Counseling Minor. I was hesitant about this decision because I wasn't sure that I wanted to end up working in a group home of youth or where I wanted to be employed one day. But after a few weeks of trying to "reason" myself out of it, I discovered that I have a deep passion for youth coming from difficult backgrounds. The idea of helping teens with addictions or teens whose lives have been deeply impacted by their parents addictions makes me excited to graduate from college and start working!

Also, as I mentioned in my last post, I will living in Brainerd, MN this summer with my Aunt and Uncle. It was hard for me to tell my family and friends in Bemidji that I wouldn't be there this summer but I know this is the best option for me. It's not that I don't love Bemidji or my friends there but I can honestly tell you all that if I were to go back to Bemidji for the summer I wouldn't be content. I would struggle because of the expectations I feel others would have about you I am. I grew up there; you've all seen me through my ups and downs, some I feel still see me as someone I am not anymore.

Instead of adding all these confusing questions of identity, I want to be in a neutral place. A place where I can have the space I need to continue to discover who I am. That and I love my Aunt and Uncle :) Plus, I'm not too far away from home so I can come visit and I hope some of you will come see me!

Another cool thing that has been decided is that next I will be rooming with two of my current roommates, Marhenza and KZ, and a new roommate by the name of Gloria. I will once again be the only "white girl" but I love it! They are beautiful Asian women who teach me a lot and accept me for EXACTLY who I am. We have formed deep and true friendships already and I am so thankful for Marhenza and KZ. I look forward to getting to know Gloria more and I am already thankful that she is a clean person! (I will have back-up to motivate the other two to clean! YAY.)
                                                           KZ, Marhenza, and Me! :)

So there are a few new developments in my life that I'm happy to share with you. I hope that all of you are doing well and I hope that you know that no matter how far away we are, I love and appreciate you! <3

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break

As Spring Break approached I was ready for a break! I was worn out from classes, studying, and being constantly surrounded by fellow Crown students. (Don't get me wrong, I love it here and I love the people....but even good things need to be appreciated in small doses)

So on Friday, March 22nd I packed up my books, (just because it's called a "break," doesn't mean that homework is not a part of the equation) clothes, camera, and other necessities. Then got into my good pals' car (Cody and Austin) and headed up north. We had a blast on the ride and laughed, danced, and enjoyed every minute we had together. :) They were so kind to drop me off in Bemidji on there way home. I love these guys! There are the best "brothers" I could ever wished to find here at school.

After being dropped off at home, I enjoyed a short conversation with my mom and stepdad and then....I was  off to the Riegerts for some fun times! I stayed at their home for most of break. It was fun to be with them, to help with dinners, and even be the taxi driver for the family one of the days. :) I'm so thankful for their kindness to me.

During the break, I had expected not to be able to see very many people because I didn't bring my car home with me. But I was pleasantly surprised that I got to see MANY of the people I love. Not all of them sadly but I was very blessed with the amount I got to see.

I got to have a dinner date with Gwenn Hovestol :) Which was AMAZING!!! We actually got to sit down and talk about life and encourage each other in the challenges and triumphs we both are experiencing in different ways in our lives. I forgot how wonderful it was to have someone who really knows you to listen to your thoughts and give you feedback and advice.

I also got to attend Efree Church for the first time in almost a year!! I felt so at home and it was nice to see familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a long time. I got to chat with Duane and Joy Tader, Debbie Johnson, and Doug and Lois Ackley.

Doug and Lois so generously offered to take me and the Riegert sisters out for lunch after church. I remember sitting in church seeing them and saying to Hannah and Emily, "I love Doug and Lois!" and then it wasn't even 30 seconds later that Lois walked back to us and asked us if we wanted to go to lunch with them. And then I turned to Hannah and Emily again and said, "See! And that's why I love them! They go out of their way to make us feel special!" :)

So it was off to delicious Giovanni's!! Just like old times (except Julia wasn't there :( LOVE YOU LAMB CHOP!) It was so nice to sit and enjoy a meal with them as each of us college women shared what was going on in our lives. And we even got to hear a little bit about their vacation to Europe to visit Julia and laughed with them as they shared their adventures with us.

I also had the pleasure of enjoying a coffee date with Lauren Lund! This was a special one because we usually don't get one-on-one time, just the two of us. I loved how we each could relate to the changes that life brings to us at this age and how good it felt to just be honest about some of the difficult aspects of growing up. I appreciate our friendship so much and was very thankful that we both had Spring Break at the same time!

One day I decided to go and get some lunch at Hardees and when I walked in I saw Kim Bahr! What a surprise. I sat down with her and her husband Charlie and told them a little bit about life and how college was going. And after lunch, they invited me over for dinner at their house and my good friend Ashley Pauna was going to be coming home from college that night to join us! FUN! We ate one of my favorite meals (Taco Hotdish!) and played games. :)

Oh! I almost forgot. I even got to have one "Mommy-Daughter Day" :D My mom and I went around and ran errands....and even that was fun because we laughed so hard! Then we went thrift shopping and finally finished off our time together with a meal at Applebees (2 for 20 and a triple chocolate meltdown!....YUM)

And that basically covers my week. Now onto my crazy weekend!

On Friday March 29th I went over to my dad's house. My little sister Brandi, most of my nephews, and I all dyed Easter eggs and made some pretty amazing works of art :P Then on Saturday we celebrated Easter with my dad, stepmom, all 8 of my siblings, and all 8 of the grandkids (my nieces and nephews). It was crazy busy and loud but I loved every minute of it. It was fun to see all the kids get excited to find their Easter baskets and play with each other. :)

Manny joined me at my dad's on Saturday and stayed the night. This was the first time I had seen my little brother all break so to say I was excited to spend time with him would be an understatement. My dad, Manny, and I all watched TV together and as it got later my dad got goofier so we all laughed a lot. My dad tells very...hmm..."lame" jokes in most people's opinions but to me they are hilarious. Guess we are similar in that way. :)

In the morning on Easter day, my dad drove me and Manny to our mom's and it was off to Brainerd for her side of the family's Easter dinner.

We got there just in time for dinner. (We weren't late for once!!!) I got to joke around with my aunts and uncles, eat another delicious meal, and simply enjoy seeing family that I rarely get to see. I loved it.

While I was in Brainerd, I applied for a job at the movie theatre. For those of you who don't know, I'll be living in Brainerd with my Aunt Darla and Uncle Curt this summer. I'm excited for a new place and a new experience this summer. I'll be coming back to Bemidji to visit from time to time. Specifically, I know I will be there the first week of June because I have jury duty...... :/ But hey! I'll make the most of the time I have in my hometown.

Anyway, after dinner at my Aunt's house, I caught a ride back to Crown from my Uncle Dave and Aunt Teri. So nice of them! :) I unpacked, unwound, and laughed with some of the girls I missed so much!

I'm happy to say that Spring Break was plenty of time to rest, visit people I love, and to be away from the day-to-day ups and downs of the college life. I am very thankful for all the people in my life and are ready to finish up these last 4 weeks of school!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stopping the Cycle

I am really bad at standing up for myself. I continue to find myself stuck in various situations where others take advantage of my caring nature. This is a HUGE problem. How do I stop the cycle?

Saying "no" to different activities or suggestions from others is almost impossible for me. Even when the best thing I could do in that moment would be anything but what is being suggested. One of the major reasons this is so hard for is because I never want to hurt people's feeling and in order not to hurt others I continue to overstretch myself and lose track of who I am. I find myself confused because I try to be who people need me to be. Can anyone relate? Have you ever experienced the social pressure to be who you think people want you to be and in the process forget who you are?

I'm getting so tired of being the version of myself that some pressure me to be. I've been learning that even people who have good intentions can sometimes forget that you were not created to make their lives easier by being at their beckoning call any moment of the day. And I also recognize there are some people who consciously use others for their own purposes. Both types are dangerous and I continue to find myself as a victim to both.

I am who I am. I will no longer be pushed around and manipulated. I am finally saying, "enough is enough."

Here's some conclusions I've come to so far:
1. I would LOVE to help others when I can but I cannot be expected to continually give of myself when it is no longer a helping them. Sometimes we think we are "helping" someone and instead we are just allowing them to remain in a place they need to get out of on their own.
2. By not being honest about what is best for me I am not loving others the way I should be. God says, "love your neighbor as yourself." I have to first love myself enough to take care of myself before I can love others by taking care of them.
3. Some friendships are one sided. There will always be people who want you to be their support, cheerleader, or listener and never do the same for you. It's the one's that will always be there for you that we should all seek to find.
4. In order to make a change in the way you are treated, you must show people how you expect to be treated.
5. Confrontation is uncomfortable but not saying anything is more painful then an awkward conversion.

This season of my life is full of lessons that I need to learn in order to make a better future for myself. They are not easy to learn and I am working hard to build the foundations of the person I hope to be one day. It is through God's goodness to be in the past that I can confidently place all these struggles in his hands, knowing that He will not disappoint.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Repeated Message...

The past two weeks there has been a concept that has shown up in my life at least 6 times. I've been going crazy trying to figure out why God keeps putting it in front of me. And now, I'm done trying to pass it off as simply "coincidence."

There are a few different places in the Bible where it is found but here is the one that I read last night:

"...put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4: 22-24)

This idea of letting go of the way I used to live and deciding to live as the new person God has made me is not an easy thing for me to do. I am very much stuck in the past. And it's extremely hard for me to change that.

Instead of healing, I constantly find myself allowing my past to bring shame and guilt into my present which is hindering me from creating a better future.

I love this quote from Rick Warren: "We are products of our past, not prisoners of it."

I definitely make myself a prisoner of my past instead of accepting that I am who I am today because of everything in my past. I tend to view myself in light of the girl I used to be...angry, hurt, mean, and out-of-control. Instead of seeing myself as the woman I'm becoming. I don't exactly know who that is yet but I trust that I will continue to learn more about who she is through God revealing it to me.

Another passage of Scripture that has this same idea is this:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God has made me an entirely new creation! The old me has died...but do I live like I believe that? I can honestly say that I do not. Hmm...I am quite a mess. But I know that God isn't finished working on me yet and I will continue to wait for Him to show me where to go next.

There have been a lot of thoughts and ideas that I've been trying to process this semester and at times I have no idea what I'm thinking or feeling but I am confident that I am not alone. God is with me and He is teaching me a lot and I'm just trusting him in this time of growth.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blanketed with Snow

As I looked outside this morning to see all the snow on the ground, I was reminded of how much I love Minnesota.
Not technically Crown...but it's close enough :)

Yes, I would have preferred for my eight am class to be cancelled but that was not the case and I had to crawl out from under my covers and get an education! :) I've been listening to my classmates complain about snow in March and I just laugh. Oh, how I love MN. When I told my Indonesian roommate Marhenza that we have gotten snow storms in April I nearly gave her a heart attack.

It would be easy to find a reason to be upset or irritated about many things in life and choosing to complain about the weather serves as a great reminder for me today. Sometimes we get upset about things that are out of our control. We try to take all the precautions to avoid certain situations that honestly can't always be escaped. Some times we try to blame God, I know I have at times. When bad things happen in life or tragedies come close to home, we can sometimes lose hope in humanity or we go farther and try to argue that God is to blame for allowing pain and hurt.

I know that I find it much easier to blame others, whether that is God, friends, or family, for the difficult things in my life. It's not as easy to think about the ways my choices have influenced myself and those around me. We are good at comparing ourselves to others and coming to the conclusion that "I must be a good person because I'm better than most people. I haven't killed anyone, or stolen anything, I'm not a criminal, so I'm okay, right?"

Is being a "good" person enough? I don't think so. Why are we willing to settle for simply being good?

By comparing ourselves with others we do not come to the reality of our own nature. Everyday we contradict our own standards. We have a list of do's and don'ts that other people must follow yet we don't hold ourselves to the same standard. Is this alright? Does this makes us good people?

It's strange for me to think about the way that I have come to be where I am right now. Looking back on my life, I never would have seen myself as someone who is seeking much more than being "good." I am now seeing how much my story has been intricately woven by the hands of God. Every moment that seemed dark  and painful I now see were intentionally placed in my life to contrast the moments of joy, in order to make my life into a masterpiece.

I am far from finished and I know that there is still much to be understood but I fully place my trust in Christ and choice to have hope in the future he has planned for me. <3