Communication.

I hate feeling like I can’t communicate because I’m worried about how someone might feel, or that they might get offended. I’ve dealt with people like this my whole. Let me be clear just because I don’t share the same opinion with you or even say something in contrast to what you think is right doesn’t make me wrong. Communication can be largely based on opinion which is why people get offended so easily. 

I’m an honest person, and I try to let my yes be yes. I say what I feel, and I try to keep kindness in mind. I am 21 years old, so I do fail sometimes. I say things, and realize how harsh it came off. I have to step back, and apologize. I will no longer apologize for being me though. I won’t apologize because someone doesn’t agree with me any longer. I said that I was moving on, and I meant that in so many senses. I will not be held back any longer by anyone. There is always an exit out of my life, and I suggest you use it if you don’t believe in open communication. I won’t hold back any longer. 

I will no longer be yelled at when I just wanted to talk to someone. I will no longer be lied to. If you say you’re open to communication, be that way. Don’t shut down, or start yelling because you don’t agree, or aren’t “winning.” Communication isn’t about winning. It’s about getting to know the other person, and understanding them. It’s about figuring out why the other person feels the way they do. 

If I say something to my little sister, and she says she wants to talk later, and tells me I hurt her feelings when I said A, B, and C…It doesn’t matter what I felt in the moment. I hurt her feelings. I first need to acknowledge that, and apologize. I need to listen to what she is saying, and not try to jump to defend myself. Communication means listening to what she is saying to me. I can then take the time to explain myself, and what I meant to say, or how it was supposed to come off. 

I know this sounds like a rant, and maybe it is. I just want people to understand how important this is. I’ve seen so many people hurt, and traumatized because they didn’t feel safe to speak up. We need to fix something because something is broken if no one feels safe enough to communicate how they feel. 

I challenge you all to work on your communications skills, and I’ll work on mine. I still have a long way to go, guys. You could ask my best friend, and I’m sure she’d have stories. I don’t communicate for weeks, and then I explode. It stems from the not feeling safe enough to say how I feel though. I am working on not repressing things though guys. It’s a work in progress. 

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Camp updates, and testimony

“Amazing grace. How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see. Oh I can see it now. Oh I can see the love in your eyes. Laying yourself down, raising up the broken to life.” ~Broken Vessels by Hillsongs. 

I just came back from a weekend of hands on ministry. I went to a camp for foster kids, and I am still in awe of what God did while I was there. I always struggle to put it into words because for some of it you would have to be there to really understand why it was such a big deal. I can’t tell you what God did in those kids lives because that’s personal. I will never share what they haven’t given me permission to talk about. I can; however, talk about what God did in my life. 

I went to Cross talk with the girls every day which is basically a devotional time. We had really great speakers. I seriously don’t think they could have done anything better. Our theme was Joseph from the pit to destiny. I loved it. It’s really hard to look around yourself, and see the pit that you’re in, and believe that there is destiny written on your life. I remember when they had us write down something in our pasts that was holding us back, or something we needed God to take. I wrote the word rejection. It’s hard for me to put into words why I used that because it’s really personal, and I’m just not there yet. I can say that I felt God working on my heart this last weekend. I went there praying for God to change the campers lives, and I came back a different person than who I was when I left. 

I no longer feel rejected. I feel accepted. I am a daughter of the one true King, and that is a VERY powerful thing. 

Victory.

I remember sitting in my advisor’s office the first time I met her. I was terrified. School in this sense was all new to me. I came from being homeschooled, and was now throwing myself into something complete new.  It’s hard to really describe that kind of fear for someone like me; a control freak. It’s that fear that makes your heart race, and your palms sweat. You feel like you can’t breathe. I remember her walking in with a big smile. She started the meeting with some small talk. She eased into the “new ness.” It wasn’t that bad really. 

Now when she told me that she thought I should take my hardest classes right away. I wanted to walk out right then. Why would I go back to the subjects that caused so much anxiety in High school? I did though. I am a year into this crazy ride, and I have survived three semesters of my toughest subjects. 

I look back at who I was a year ago, and it seems so cliche to say, but I know that isn’t who I am now. I’ve discovered so many new things about myself. For instance I have test anxiety, and I hate when teachers don’t know how to manage time. I hate 8AM classes, and classes that last 4 hours will put anyone to sleep. I also learned I still don’t enjoy math. I am no longer terrified of it though. 

I know you guys have been following my journey as I go, and you probably knew these things before I did. You know that feeling though? The one when you know that you did something that you didn’t think you could? The one where you pushed past all the negative thoughts, and you just kept putting one foot in front of the other despite desperately wanted to take a break? Yep…I’m proud of myself guys.  

I did this. I may have had help along the way, and I truly appreciate it, but this was me. No one took those tests for me, and no one sat in those classes for me. I did this. Me. 

“Keep on climbing though the ground may shake.” ~Maddie, and Tae. 

Gentle lullaby, or war cry?

I told you guys before that when I get up on stage to give a word I always expect to have this booming voice. I want to make sure I get my point across because normally I go up there to bring words of encouragement. I don’t hear a shout of victory though. I hear from myself this calm, and soothing voice. I hated it for the longest time. I would pray for a louder voice. How could I bring encouragement about victory coming if no one can even hear me? I was amazed when I was listening to this spontaneous worship from Bethel church. It’s my favorite thing to play right now because it is so encouraging. In the song one of the singers talks about how when she prays during the bad days when she is really wrestling with stuff, she is expecting a big war shout from God, but in reality all she hears is a sweet lullaby.  I kind of had to stand in shock the first time I heard this because it amazed me that God speaks to us in a gentle tone. (I’m sure he has a war cry too.) I was humbled at that moment. How could God have given me this amazing gift. See it isn’t that people can’t hear me, but that sometimes we need to realize that when a situation is already stressed and there is anxiety, shouting may not be the best option. It would be like constantly tapping the tank a fish lives in.  I think that when God comes to us, and speaks to us in that gentle tone; that lullaby. It’s him as a loving father knowing that we’ve handled as much as we can. It’s him pulling us close into his arms, and just loving us. I don’t know about you, but when I am full of anxiety, and I can’t tell what direction is up. I need that. I need God to sing that lullaby over me. It helps me rest.  I believe that God has a purpose for those of you who are great at war shouts in the church. I love hearing those words at church. I love how it produces thoughts of victory in my mind.  I also believe there is a purpose for those of us like myself who say things in a quiet tone. It’s a gift really. We are the ones who soothe nightmares, and calm highly stressed situations. Do not make your gift look like less than it is because it does not look like the same as others. You are important and needed in the church. 

I can do all things.

2nd Corinthians 11:23-28“…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”

Paul wasn’t saying this to get pity from others. I think this is actually a testimony of what he survived, and who he placed his trust in to get him through. Paul knew the secret to be content guys. Philippians 4:11  “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I was always stuck on this when I would study this book. I would come back to this passage again, and again. I wanted to know the secret. I was like “what is the secret?!” I would stop reading after this verse guys. I never thought the answer was in the next verse. I read the rest one day, and I was shocked because the answer is so simple. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” 

I remember finally understanding this at such a young age, and I just sat on my bed in shock because it seems like such a easy answer. It isn’t though. I am sure that Paul had times when he was frustrated. The second time he was shipwrecked I can imagine him really wanting to lose hope. What about all the times he was in prison? Do you think he never lost sight of what was important? I’ve always loved reading about Paul, and his letters because he was the worst of the worst, and he turned his life around. He turned his life around in a drastic way. 

I know a lot of people are struggling right now. I don’t know what it is. It may be like me as a college student you’re feeling the pressure, and can’t handle it anymore. You’re crumbling. It may be you have lost sight of hope in life. You don’t want to continue, and you don’t care anymore. I speak life into you! I speak hope! I speak peace into your lives. 

Look I don’t know you, or your struggle. I do know that God loves you with an unconditional love. He loves you despite your situation, and you have every right to claim freedom. You have the secret of being content. You have to decide what you do with it. You can claim that it is a nice idea like I did at first, but don’t put it into action. Speak this over your life though…Really, right now. Speak it, and speak aloud. “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

Update on life.

Most of you know that I normally pray for a verse, or something to hold onto during the school year. I used the phrase “I’m better under pressure” last year from a sermon I listened too. I was praying this year, and now a month into the semester I finally feel like I’ve got it. “Refined by fire.” I wasn’t pleased with this because it confirmed what I was already feeling about the semester. I knew it was going to be hard. I just didn’t know that It would feel like I was walking through fire every day. It’s a constant battle between wanting to enjoy this time of my life, and knowing that this semester isn’t going to be easy. 

I was feel pretty down about this. I didn’t want to walk through fire anymore. I know that gold is refined by fire, and there is beauty in that statement, but I wanted something to let me know that I’m not just hanging on for the long haul. I prayed, and today I was reminded that I am more than a conqueror in Christ! Now I can tell myself…”Yes, you’re being refined through fire, but you are more than a conqueror, so you’ve got this!” 

I still have most of the semester left, but my goal is to keep my grades up, and finish strong. I know this is going to produce good character, and  help me in other classes because everything else will feel like a breeze compared this last school year.  

I’ll try to post a better blog, but I thought you guys deserved an update. I am heading into a crazy couple weeks with midterms just around the corner, so I may write tons, and not at all. I haven’t forgotten about you guys though. I’ll post when I can. 

He will move that mountain.

Being a leader is more than being in charge. It’s seeing what others don’t see. It’s about stepping in when someone else doesn’t have “it” in them anymore. Leadership is not about bossing someone around, but rather stepping alongside someone, so that they don’t feel alone.  Being a leader has nothing to do with making people afraid of you. *That’s for another blog though.*

I am a horrible liar, but in spite of that I have a good poker face. It’s rare that someone will see that I’m on the edge. I keep a smile even when I am ready to fall apart because I don’t want people to see how tough things can be at times. 

I’ve had my poker face on for weeks. The thing is I told my best friend that I don’t know how to cope when things are going good, and don’t feel shaky because I’m so used to waiting for everything to explode. i’m used to picking up the pieces. I’m used to life being hard. I’m used to fighting, and fighting because I refuse to cave. I refuse to say “Uncle.” She reminded me that she is in that boat scooping out water with me. 

I thought she was the only one in on my secret. I thought she was the only one who could see past my smile, but I was wrong. My supervisor gave me a gift card for gas today, and she told me she wasn’t sure what was left on it, but I could use it when I filled my car next. I got to the gas station and it was the exact amount that it takes to fill the car I drive. I don’t find this a coincidence. She knew how much it would take because I am sure that I mentioned it. She did not know that bills are always stressful, and it’s always a matter of “can I put this off for one more week?”

She saw what I wasn’t saying. She saw that I was stressed, and she couldn’t fix it. She can’t magically make me feel more confident about school, or help me with the fact that I haven’t been sleeping well. She saw that I didn’t have “it” in me anymore. She saw that I really** wanted to call “uncle,” and stepped alongside me to take some of the weight off my shoulders. Now I don’t know that she planned this, but I know that God did. 

God placed this example of the kind of person I hope to be right in my path. He provided a supervisor, and tutor, and friend all in one person. 

I broke down today because I finally gave myself permission to lose it. I realized someone else was taking on some of the weight, so I could afford to step back, and not be okay for a short time. 

God is still on his throne. He is there when were are at our worst, and don’t know what we will do. Don’t doubt that he will move mountains to help you. He will give you what you need, but it’s going to be in his timing. You just have to trust, and believe me when i say that I know how hard that can be. I know when the odds are stacked against you, and you don’t feel like you can take another step, it’s hard to see how he could change things for the good. BUT let me tell you….There is good coming! He will provide. He will move that mountain.