Soul check: being still

These past few months have been a whirlwind.

You guys, this world just does not stop turning. (I realize this is not new information).

You’d think as a human and especially as a reporter that would stop surprising me.

It still stops me in my tracks.

The truth is I love my job, but this week I realized I’ve neglected my soul in an effort to pursue my day job, which I’m thankful to love.

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Life update: I moved! Just across town, looking forward to another year in Ellensburg, WA as a breaking news/county reporter. 

I go into situations with good intentions and come out on the other side beat up like a tumbleweed on the side of the road.

(Maybe it’s this Ellensburg wind finally getting to my head, who knows).

In all seriousness, I’m a go-getter, but am very slow to establish boundaries in many areas of my life which leads to a crash-and-burn situation.

I’ve been here before.

Burnout is when you think you’re doing right by yourself by  paying your dues in your workplace, school, whatever it may be for you in this season of life you’re in but it happens to everyone. It’s part of our world’s culture, but it didn’t have to be part of mine or yours. And praise God this is true.

I’ve learned some things since this last happened and one of them is taking care of your soul.

I moved so often in college that I just stopped trying to settle in.

Because you know, if you just stop trying, you’d think maybe the next time it wouldn’t be so painful.

I didn’t realize how wrong I was until my community surrounded me with love and helped me move, no questions asked. Fam, for our souls to heal and feel, they need to be accessible.

This was such a huge kairos moment for me.

What I realized in this moment and what maybe you’ll realize after reading this, is we too often discredit ourselves from the abundance of blessings God desires to bestow upon us because we tell ourselves we’re too needy, or not ready… the list goes on and on.

There are many wonderful characteristics about God, but I think my all time favorite is that he doesn’t have baggage.

Like his Son, Jesus, he is holy and blameless. I love my community, and as much as I love them and they love me, only God can place those holy desires in my heart. No number of people, amount of talking or listening can replace being near and still to and with him.

Because community is such a good thing, it’s easy for the devil to sneak in like the serpent he is and and whisper that so long as we have people, maybe that can replace God.

Too often I’ve gone to my community first instead of my savior and praise God they’ve had the wisdom to remind me only God can change my heart. They haven’t said “oh yeah, I’ve been a Christian longer.”

The best community points you back to God. Again, and again and again.

The best community says no one ever said you had to go this alone. Or, these burdens, they’re self-inflicted.

Christ is not of this world which is why he makes the ultimate savior. He’s the only one who knows you and I better than ourselves.

 

The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14)

 

You can be a fighter, and you should  put in the work, but at the end of the day, we need to be still and remember the battle has already been won.

 

For the first time in a long time, I let myself put down roots. I said no to fear bought some  furniture and signed a year long lease in Ellensburg.

It takes more than that to make a space a home, but after time and a lot of work, God showed me look at all you have, right here in front of you.

Don’t run away merely because you’re afraid of losing it.

I’m not talking about fear of physical objects. We all know a table is a table, etc. However, those things do help create a space to be still with God and see His faithfulness. 

My sister reminded me that wherever Jesus was when he walked this earth he created a space to go and talk to his Father. The disciples thought he was crazy and were constantly impatient with him, but he understood the value of that stillness no matter where he was he made time.

He understood things would always be crazy and the time would never be just right, but it was vital to his soul and to his ministry.

Living with one foot in the world and one foot with Jesus will never work because he tells us part of our identity in Christ is we are a holy people precious to God and he has called us to be set apart.

 

 

 

 

 

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Life Since Charley

I’ve had Charley for almost two months now. For over two years I had waited for March 23rd, 2017. I had a gender reveal on Instagram. She’s watching me write this blog post right now.

I knew it wasn’t going to be all cuddles and kisses…but it wasn’t until I got her that I realized just how uneducated people are…not only in regards to epilepsy, but to all invisible diseases and the responsibilities and tasks that vary between service dogs, emotional/therapy animals, and pets with vests.

I love Charley, but since she goes everywhere with me, I’ve answered some pretty ridiculous questions, and I’m not one to call most questions ridiculous. According to ADA laws, I’m only obligated to answer two questions, “1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”

Despite the intrusive nature of some questions I’ve received, I’ve yet to come up with a polite way to decline and continue on with a conversation. Here are some of the questions I’ve encountered:

  • Where did you buy the jacket (vest) for your dog? I want to get one for my dogs. This one made me really sad. When people buy vests so they can take their pets with them into establishments, it’s like a smack in the face. It delegitimizes the seriousness of someone’s disease-whether that be physical, emotional, or both. A vest used to carry a certain weight. That weight has been replaced with distrust and has raised a plethora of questions, and no one is fact-checking answers:
  • Do you have to take her everywhere?
  • Are you training her?
  • What does she do?
  • How old is she?
  • What breed is she?
  • Can I pet her?
  • *Pity smile*
  • *Pets Charley*

By acquiring a service animal, you commit to prioritizing your health despite insecurities about having a dog with you. A dog wearing a vest can send either one of two messages: 1) You have a disability/illness 2) You are obsessed with your pet enough to pretend you have a legitimate need (to an extent that you feel comfortable with). When people are inconsistent with where they bring their dog, it gives the impression that it’s an option. Only nineteen states punish individuals for fake service dogs .

A few weeks ago, I was in a school office building returning rental stuff that I needed for a class. Out of an office bolted a small, barking dog, that was off-leash. I was supposed to take the handler’s word for it when she said it was a Pet Partner, an organization I had to research later. In Pullman, leash laws are required for all dogs when away from the owner’s private property. Service dogs get no special treatment in this area.

Since getting Charley, we have conquered some huge fears/transitions together. She’s adjusted to the classroom setting, my new workplace on campus, and my strange anxiety about taking her with me to the grocery store.

Life only screeches to a halt if we let change cripple us, which is easier than I’d like to admit.  Don’t let silly questions become personal insults. And don’t let insecurities trap you in fear.

 

 

Faith and Healing

Two years ago I was a student who had graduated after completing eight consecutive quarters-more or less- at a community college back on the westside of Washington. It was the most “normal” I had felt in my whole life. I didn’t have many friends, but school, what mattered to me the most, was going great. It had taken a lot of sweat and tears, but I didn’t care because I was on a plan that hurdling towards my bachelors degree at three years out of high school.

I was in Pullman, Washington. My first semester. I was taking eighteen credits, pretending that I wasn’t feeling spread thin, or wasn’t struggling with anxiety and sleep depravation. I certified for my major early. I played intramural soccer. I went to church and small group.  However, November of that semester came and I could feel myself losing it. My roommate situation was awkward. So, just like that, I moved to a single dorm. No roommate, no problem. I convinced myself everything was still great. I didn’t tell anyone I was crippling under the wait of it all. I stopped succeeding in all areas of my life. My time was so divided I couldn’t do anything well. Self care was a foreign topic to me. ( In some ways it still is, seeing that I am writing this at nearly 1 a.m.

November 7, 2014, my life changed radically. The seizures that had stopped plaguing my life for nearly a year nearly took my life, or at least my ability to enjoy it. My friends and family stopped hearing from me. I respond quickly to texts and phone calls. I communicate with my parents daily for medication reminders and updates. When I stopped answering, it was evident to them something was wrong.

A friend, sent by my parents, knocked on my door. No answer. Police came. Shortly after, paramedics. I had been seizing for an estimated 24 hours. I had lost all function. I was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital. And then flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital. A place all too familiar to me. This time was different. My epilepsy had never threatened my life before. That day made the rest of my days different. It set me on a path I had never fathomed.

On November 11, 2014, my blog received 611 views. I tell you not to brag about my viewing statistics. I write to tell you-and myself- why.

On March 17, 2014, I published a post called Hope Is Hard .

I wrote those words not knowing the limits to which my life would be tested in the months and years to come.

Two weeks ago it had seemed appropriate that I post this blog post. But I couldn’t. That was one of the hardest weeks I’ve had since leaving the comfort and safety of the hospital two years ago. I had a seizure during the anniversary week of the scariest day, week, and month of my life. And once again, I had this pit in the bottom of my stomach because I could done more to prevent this from happening.

I asked myself the question that I’ve been wrestling with for most of my life: why do bad things happen to good people? Some people have this twisted view that Christians or morally good people have somehow earned the right to a better and easier life. I can see how we’re their coming from, it seems logical. However, the blessing of suffering isn’t less suffering. It’s humility. A deep dependence on the One who carries me in the midst of my suffering.

I have known suffering and I have witnessed the suffering of others. And I will tell you this: none of it makes sense. I could spend a lifetime trying untangle this mystery. But that would be a waste of time. I’d rather spend it learning how to love people better. Bad things happen to the best of us. Suffering can be redeemed by using our experiences to empathize with each other. Suffering is the result of sin but that doesn’t mean we can’t live like we don’t have a healer.

Life since Elevate: Reflection: Part 1

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Life since Elevate has gone by too fast. Summer is long over, but I am still mulling over everything I’ve learned. For those of you who don’t know, Elevate is a 10 week-long discipleship program through Resonate, my collegiate church home in Pullman, Washington. I spent my entire summer in La Jolla, California working a retail job at Pottery Barn kids at University Towne Center, volunteering at the Sand Diego Food Bank, but most of all, growing in community and in Jesus.

Explaining how Elevate continues to have an impact on me months later is difficult. In fact, I think my lack of explanation has been keeping me from writing. My last post that I wrote, I wrote in La Jolla. Elevate challenged me to my core, and as I expected coming back to school, to the “daily grind” that Elevate pulled me away from has been far from easy. In California, I was blessed with having accountability and and Christian community on a 24/7 basis. Now that I’m back in Pullman, I’m struggling because experiences like the ones I had in California are rare and ideal.

I quickly placed a lot of weight and responsibility on the shoulders of my community to give me what they can’t: the relationship that I want with my Heavenly Father. Elevate raised my standards of what Christian living looks like. I find myself now in a place where I realized that Christianity isn’t about waiting for church on Sunday or Village on Wednesday, but having Jesus as a part my life even when my christian community isn’t surrounding me physically. Experiencing Jesus in the quiet moments, after the pastor stops talking, the music winds down and my friends go on their way is something I didn’t know would be so hard. I never thought solitude and silence would be a problem for a girl like me.

One of the lessons I learned came after Elevate is that One summer isn’t enough time to grow. I wish it were because growing pains are hard. This journey I’m on will last my entire lifetime. People constantly told me that Elevate was one of the best decisions they ever made. However, I always sensed that they wanted to add a “but..” to the end of their sentences. I understand why. For me, Elevate had a way of bringing to light everything I thought I had stowed away, hidden from the eyes of people that I know love me. Life before Elevate was easy because back then no one was holding me accountable to the skeletons in my closet. It changed everything for me. Everything was placed on the table, open for everyone to see. It was painful, how I imagine Eustace felt when Aslan graciously tore away his dragon scales until once again flesh was all that remained. There’s a reason why this example from C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader is used so often. Baring ourselves to Christ and our community, any community really, is painful but His grace and mercy makes it so worth it.

He has told you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Elevate was the start of a new journey for me, one that I didn’t expect to begin and one that will probably never end. In the midst of constant community and accountability that I’d never experienced before, I learned and am still learning that no one else but me can take responsibility for my relationship with God.

My friend and room leader for the summer Meredith Brown speaks so much truth. About seven weeks into the summer she spoke truth that I am finally beginning to understand this semester. She told me that this year I’m going to learn what it means to be selfless and the person in the background serving. I wasn’t sure in what are those sacrifices were going to be made but not long after I learned that I’d be on leadership in a freshman village (bible study) for the coming school year. I’m learning a lot. That these two years and counting of being involved with Resonate is not meant for me alone, but for all the people who still aren’t connected to a wonderful community

Additionally, I was “officially” placed on Gathering Team.Gathering Team is a vital group of people who help set up church in Todd Auditorium on Washington State University’s campus and Schweitzer Engineering Lab in Pullman every Sunday. Not a whole lot has changed since last year except the title has kept me a  lot more accountable and consistent. Another lesson I’m learning is that serving is rarely convenient, or it’s not supposed to be. Service without sacrifice can be defined as good works or morals. Serving in these ways has been so humbling.  I mean so humbling. I’m excited and also hesitant for this continuation of growth that is ahead of me.

 

 

Elevate Update #2

IMG_0927.JPGHello Friends! Wow, I am so stoked to finally be here in La Jolla. Thank-you so much for your prayers and financial support that brought me here in this with all of these amazing people.  Our team arrived hear on Friday, where we immediately dived into things. We kicked things off officially at 5:00pm.  I am so happy to be placed in my room, The Grove. Meredith (my friend and room leader!), Emmalee , Jillian, Molly, Amberlynne, Hannah, and my bed buddy Beth are quickly becoming fast friends. It is incredible living in community with so many people.  We are slowly but surely unpacking into our beautiful room at Residence Inn-La Jolla. I still cannot believe that I am going to be here for ten weeks.

I had my group interview with the La Jolla YMCA on Monday morning. Our whole project has been out and about from 9:00am-5:00pm every day this week job hunting. Next Tuesday I have an interview at Potter Barn Kids.We’ve been  searching at University Town Center, Fashion Valley, Clairemont Town Center, Pacific Beach, and a variety of other places. Today we went to Prospect for the first time and scavenged along there as well. We’ll be doing this everyday for the next two weeks until we sign official papers and have a job confirmed. Three out of seven people from The Grove have been hired already. Praise Jesus for that. Please be praying for the rest of our room, and everyone else on the job to be hired  and no one is sent home on June 3rd.

Our routine for each of the next ten weeks is as follows:

Monday: DT’s (Devotional Times),Work, Celebration Night, and Room Time. This summer we will be celebrating weekly through worship and giving thanks for God’s provision.

Tuesday:  DT’s (Devotional Times),Work, Teaching Night. We will be hearing from different staff members and walking through DT’s

Wednesday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work, Village with The Pit and Tenboom (two different rooms).

Thursday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work, Free night.

Friday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work, Free night.

Saturday: DT’s (Devotional Times), Work (?).

Sunday: Rest, Worship, Serve and Reflect. New Song Church-Parkside every Sunday. We’ll be setting up and tearing down every week. They are a mobile church like Resonate and meet at an elementary school. (I also signed up to hold babies during one of their two services!) Evening beach parties!

More to come as I fall into the rhythm of things here in La Jolla!

Elevate Update #1

IMG_2312Hey friends!

Since first posting my support letter on March 23rd, I’ve raised more donations and bought my plane ticket, making everything so much more real. Including my own investment into this project, I have now raised $627.64 out of $3,500 for my trip. Elevate still seems far away, but ALL funds are due April 21st. I still have $2,872.36 until I am fully funded.

I’m scared to death.

Without successful fundraising, I might find myself in the position where I will have to choose to pay out of my own pocket, or forfeit the trip. I’m begging Jesus that I will not have to make that decision.

When looking at the numbers and payment deadlines, it’s very easy for me to forget the power of prayer amidst all of this. I definitely underestimate it.

All of this is a faith journey. I’m leaning into God trusting that if this is his plan for my summer-and I strongly believe it is-then I can trust him to provide the means for me to get there. I strongly desire that anyone reading this, and has questions about Elevate and/or Resonate would not hesitate at all to ask questions, and most definitely ask God how they should support me in all of this.

This week these two life verses have become my lifeline:

“Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her” Luke 1:45

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail” Proverbs 19:21

 

Prayer Requests

-My interview on  Tuesday, April 5th with the YMCA would go smoothly

-My faith in God’s provision would be more overwhelming than my fear of not support raising all of my funds

This might be helpful:

More about Elevate http://resonate.net/elevate2016#give-1 (the link says give, but there is more information about the project if you scroll up and down!)

 

Elevate 2016-Fundraising Letter

Hey Friends!

About two months ago, God placed it on my heart to spend my summer in California. While this may sound like a no-brainer, easy decision for some, those who know me well know that I have always felt most comfortable close to my home and family.

Back in January I was invited to a dinner for budding leaders. It was there that God placed a desire in my heart to attend Elevate this summer. Elevate is a 10 week-long summer project through my church Resonate here in Pullman.

During the first two weeks of our program, all of our energy will be poured into acquiring a job in La Jolla, California. Our work place will be our mission field and will give us a platform through which we can build relationships with our coworkers and share with them the beautiful story of how Christ can change their lives forever!

In addition to working, throughout the week members of our tema will learn how to live missionally, and in community. We will learn the tools we need to be fully equipped leaders in the church and host Village (small group/bible study). On the weekends, our main focuses are 1) church planting and 2)beach parties. The beach parties will be a safe and inclusive environment where we can invite our coworkers to have fun, and learn more about the gospel.

These are not just any ordinary beach parties. These parties are a way for us to continue fostering relationships with our coworkers.

The cost of living in San Diego California this summer is $3,500 + the cost of air fare. Securing my spot on the team alone requires a deposit of  $350. I was unable to support raise the cost of the deposit before the deadline, and so I paid this amount out of pocket. Thus far, I have only support raised $100.

This is an extraordinary opportunity to serve the community of La Jolla and grow in my faith. Please consider joining my financial team or my prayer team. Both are equally important. I strongly believe that God hears my prayers and yours, and will provide.

Would you consider donating $50, $75, $100, or some other amount to my trip? If you would like to join me in this, please make your check payable to “Resonate Church” and put “Elevate” in the memo line. You may return your check to me or send it directly to Resonate Church: P.O. Box 1605, Pullman, WA 99163. Please don’t put my name on the check, but rather include a slip of paper directing it be applied toward me and my trip.

There is also a way to give online http://resonate.net/elevategive. If you prefer to mail the check to me, instead of directly to the church, please personal message me for my address.

Prayer requests:

-My Skype interview with the La Jolla YMCA would be successful (once scheduled).

-I would catch up on fundraising. The deadline for all $3,500 is April 21st!

-The rest of the school year would go well

-Bonding between our team would go well.

P.S. Your donation is tax deductible, but non-refundable. 

Update 03/24/2015: $2,994.96

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