Two years later

Photo: Luke White
Photo: Luke White

In July of 2012, I travelled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti with a small team of  high school and college students from Northshore Community Church.Our initial goal was to partner with a small orphanage located in one of the most poor and dangerous city in the world.

On that twelve day trip, I met an amazing man named Windy Sauver. He had a passion for the children of Cite Soleil and a huge heart for Jesus.

He had an enormous impact on my outlook on life and my relationship with Jesus.

Windy is the most joyous person I’d ever met. His wide smile revealed pearly white teeth. When he thought no one was looking, I’d find him wearing his headphones and jamming to Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin.

At the time of our visit, Windy was also incredibly ill. Windy, unable to access reliable healthcare, was taken under the wing of Jeff and Terry Clark, our team leaders. The Clarks both work in the medical field in the United States. The Clarks, who worked alongside medical organizations in the states finally concluded that Windy’s illness was most likely Leukemia.

On December 8th, 2012, Windy was finally able to see the face of his sweet Jesus. All of his earthly pain and suffering was finally removed and his body fully restored. My heart aches because I selfishly wish that he never had to stop listening to his gospel music and writing his book. However, I also am comforted because I know that he found solace and strength.

As someone also living with a disabling condition, I found his endurance, faith, and hope absolutely incredible. Ever since I had been diagnosed with epilepsy as a child, I consistently failed to believe that anything positive could come from my situation. His testimony gave me hope.

I relayed briefly these anxieties to Windy who bluntly stated  that I was lacking the faith I claimed to hold. It took some time, but I eventually realized that he was not reprimanding me for any doubt. I think doubt is inevitable. In my life, doubt has always motivated me to seek truth and reassurance.

Windy told me that all the time God is good.  I began to take his words to heart.Joy remains within reach and fear should never dominate our lives, especially if we claim to be followers of Christ.

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All Things Considered

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Today I cried. It was the first time I had cried in a long time. At least from what I can remember and I haven’t been remembering too well lately. Short-term memory loss tends to make life difficult in that way. Anyhow, I cried and it felt really, really great. I cried first with my sister and then with my mom.

Moseying around our room at home today,  my sister asked me “are you OK?” I responded with “yeah, sorta, well actually no.” Cue tears. And she said that’s OK. Nothing is wrong with not having it all together. No one is asking or expecting you to be totally with it. I had a similar conversation with my mom. I am so thankful for these women in my life.

After coming home from spending two weeks in the hospital in Seattle, I wasn’t sure the kinds of emotions I would experience, but after one week in I’ve mostly felt overwhelmed. After being home for one week, there is still so much to process. That is to be expected.

Two weeks ago, I had a seizure that caused me to become unconscious. After not being able to communicate with me, my parents started reaching out to my school friends via Facebook. Finally, after sending my friend Andrew directly to my dorm room finding that I did not respond to his knocks, the police were called and the door to my room was broken down.

Before being flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital from Washington State University, where I had been enjoying my first semester.  I spent a short time in the ICU at Pullman Regional Hospital.

Things were bleak. I am no doctor, but I’m pretty confident that a lot of people were unsure of if or when I would wake up, and if so, what damage would follow?

Waking up, while clearly a great step towards recovery was nonetheless very confusing. I didn’t know where I was, who my parents were, or even what had happened.

In all of the confusion, there has also been  a lot of clarity. I’ve had to rely and trust entirely on Jesus and my doctors. Jesus has shown me that my priorities are out of place and I also need to take it easier on myself. His presence has been so imminent. One of the workers in the hospital told me “I am so glad you have your faith!” I am too. I cannot even begin to imagine where I would be without my faith.

I have never felt so loved in my life. By God, friends, and complete strangers. I’ve also learned that just because God throws us curve balls in life and we don’t receive what, does not mean at all that he does not care for us. This is not the case at all.

I feel strongest in my weakest moments. People have been calling me “miracle child” and more commonly, “fighter.” And while I know this is meant to be flattering, I rarely ever consider myself either one. I call it being human. I am who I am because of hope. Side note: many people who follow my blog, read a blog post I wrote in March titled Hope is Hard. If this post interests you in any way, I’d also encourage reading my thoughts about hope as it is a topic I have brought up.

When people ask me how I’m doing and how I’m handling everything, my typical response has been along the lines of “All things considered, I am doing great!” However, internally, I’ve also recognized it’s perfectly healthy and normal to recognize that there have been large bumps in the road and recovery, especially emotional recovery, will only come with time.

Everyone, whether diagnosed with epilepsy or not faces trials and tribulations of various sizes. Sure, the events which took place two weeks ago my not occur to everyone, but everyone has a story-one that is unique!

No matter what I write about, storytelling almost always becomes incorporated. I write and share with you only because I hope that it’ll prompt you to do the same! So tell me, what’s your story?

Woman Without a Plan

my life
my life

I am what you would call a woman with a plan. I make it a point to plan out my day and/or week even if I know that realistically, nothing will go accordingly.

Something tentative needs to be in place.

I despise not knowing what is going on. When certain things happen, such as sudden downwards turn in my health, transferring dormitories, losing roommates, etc. I start to panic. Every piece of me screams “this was not part of the plan!” I do not recall writing this in my planner.

Seeing that I’m a planner, I don’t typically consider myself a spontaneous person. I am occasionally, but not by natural inclination.

I’ve found that dashed plans and other types of conflict is the only way I’ll turn my attention to other, more important things.

My life has been rather messy these past few weeks. However, I wouldn’t trade the mess for anything. I’m not saying that I liked it, but through it all, I learned how loved I was.

I haven’t always felt loved by my “friends.” I often felt as though everyone left when things got even the tiniest bit messy. Or, even worse, they’d never been there at all. Even when things were great.

I few weeks ago, I had an epileptic seizure during the night and fell off of my *high* bed.  I fell flat on my face and almost broke my nose. That wasn’t planned. Or expected. I had lost control. Again. Everyone knew what had happened except me. The paramedics, my roommate, the RA. My neighbors. Everyone.

To top it all off, roommate troubles led to my  moving out of my dorm room to a residence hall on the opposite end of campus.

Perfect.

It’s not worth it to gloss over the shitty things that happen in life. Sugar-coating doesn’t change the fact that something bad happened. Why hide the mess? When people, read my blog, I want them to feel human. That’s why I share stories from my personal life. Not because I’m searching  pity.

These things shift my focus back towards him. Where it should always be. Every time I try and take control, I fail. I wasn’t meant to do life alone. I was meant to do it with Him. And in community. A community that cares.

Over the next few days a  few friends murmured a few words of encouragement to me. Other friends didn’t say anything. They sat with me. Hugged me. Let my tears wet their clothes. They saw me at my worst. And instead of being disgusted and without telling me to grow up and get a grip, these events somehow let them love me more.

I still do not understand. Never in my life have I had friends so willing to meet me, right where I am. This is the Gospel in action.

God has not allowed me to endure this suffering alone. I can only hope that these trials result in opportunities for my testimony to be shared and God’s love and grace and peace and goodness to shine bright, even in the darkest of hours.

 

Life is Crazy and Writing is Hard

The most busy and awesome week of my life has been the week I moved out of my house and on to college. The night before I left, I wrote a post concerning transition.  The only reason why I know today’s date is because it’s a holiday weekend and I don’t have school tomorrow. I’m already procrastinating on my first paper of the semester. Rather, I’m taking much too long write a two-page paper. I’ll give myself credit for having completed a shitty first draft.    I didn’t realize I was still in summer mode. The first week of upper level classes flew by so quickly. I’m the junior-transfer student who has an academic advantage on other students, nothing more!

These past eleven days I’ve shaken more hands of more people than I’ve ever met at one time. Additionally, I’ve introduced myself to some individuals not once, but twice. Laughter has been unavoidable. I’ve said yes to some event or get together pretty much every single night since I arrived here. A football game, volleyball, dinner, sing-along movie night etc. At one point during these past few days I must’ve blinked because I feel as though I just arrived here. Only yesterday did I finally take out the very last cardboard box to the dumpster.

I’m becoming somewhat acclimated. It’s only under sixty-six degrees this evening and I’m shivering in my dorm room, ready to break out the sweatpants. I was actually able to sleep under all of my covers last night and turn off my fans. Progress.

While this new part of my life is thriving,  I  am failing recently to put forth effort into my writing, which I proclaim to love. My relationship with words is more of the love-hate type. Writing is certainly  easier said than done.  A recent trend in my posts has reflected an obvious struggle in simply sitting down and putting my pen to paper-or in this case, fingers to keys. There is no doubt that a resistance is present. And also winning.

 A Few Excuses I’ve Made to Not Write

  • Time-there isn’t enough
  • I’ll never stand out
  • My story isn’t important
  • I’m not progressing and growing
  • I don’t have money to invest into my website

The excuses mentioned above are hardly justifiable. Boy how I wish they were. To clarify, never do I lack a topic to write about. Many believe that writer’s block is due to the absence of subject matter. I’m learning that this is not the case. It’s pure laziness.

At lunch today, my friend Megan asked me “So are you just writing all the time?”

I was honored that she’d think I’m so disciplined as to maintain a disciplined writing habit. Unfortunately, I could not respond affirmatively and call myself an honest person.

*Gulp.*

I responded something along the lines of “Ummm… yes? Well, sort of, like if I’m not writing I’m thinking about what I’d like to be writing. I mean, lately, not really.”

Not exactly a straightforward answer. And lemme tell you, this isn’t the first time recently these encounters have occurred. I’m always thankful for friends who ask me these questions. The hard ones. Only hard questions provoke action.

I’m writing today because life is crazy and writing is hard-even when life isn’t so insane. I don’t have anything profound to share, but I tend to relate best with people who share their stories from day-to-day life.

There. You are all updated on my life. If you are new here, welcome. Old friends, it’s so good to see you again.

 

Until next time,

Kayla

 

When Transition is Absolutely Necessary

 

Creative Commons// Darin Marshall

I am back! These past couple of weeks have been rather busy these past couple of weeks wrapping up my summer classes and tearing apart my room. Since I’m in the currently in the middle of a transition, I’ve decided to share with you my thoughts, and why I personally believe transitions are important!

Before I go any further, you should know that I despise packing. I’ve always been one to over-pack. It’s really silly because I could bring everything with me to wherever I’m going and still be convinced that I don’t quite have everything I need. For me,  traveling is never enjoyable until the moment I actually arrive at my destination. Nonetheless, transition and change are very healthy. Moving is hardly enjoyable, but it forces me to re-evaluate my life. Putting my life into boxes is a wonderful reminder of what I value. Trust me, I’ve spent the past two weeks attempting to determine what I consider the bare necessities-turns out those items are practically everything in my closet. Ha! While discussing this with a friend she commented “it takes a move.” It really does. I’m not sure about you, but aside from a light spring cleaning, I don’t annually do a deep cleanse of square foot of my room. I’m just not a clean freak.I somehow managed to fit all of my belongings into the car. Well, my brother did most of the strategic packing, but I was an overseer of the whole operation. Trust me, had you been able to catch a glimpse of the trunk of our suburban, you would understand why this was such an incredible feat. I’m sure some of you resonate with my potential dilemma.

Change doesn’t scare me. I’m simply not in the habit of taking new risks and attempting new things. I constantly tell myself that this should not be so.  I suppose moving out of the house that I’ve lived in for ten years is a perfect opportunity break open that cozy cocoon of comfort. I may only be six hours away from home, but I may as well be in a different world in Pullman, Washington. Over the mountains and through the woods to Washington State University I go!

Transitioning is not easy because there is no telling what the future holds. But I promise you, change  is absolutely necessary. Necessary for growth and perseverance and also for fun!  There comes a time to start fresh and move upward and onwards. When you’ll discover when that is, I don’t know. You may not know either-at least not yet. Undoubtedly, it will be both easy and hard and with its own ups and downs. That is obvious.

You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips.

Airplanes and passports  and

New songs and old songs, but

People more than anything else.

You will need other people.

And you will need to be that

Other person to someone else,

A living, breathing, Screaming

invitation to believe better things.

-Jamie Tworkowski-

People are important. I deeply desire for everyone to find community. I’ve learned a lot about those deep bonds and the importance of both having friends and also being a friend.

Thank-you for continuing to read this blog and be a part of my story, despite my inconsistency and imperfections. If you write, surely you understand how impossible some writing days are. But whoever you are and whatever you do,  I really cannot express how much your readershipmeans to me. I’m excited to update you all on this exciting new adventure that is university!  Knowing that you care about what I have to say is what keeps me going. If you’re going through a transition, embrace the challenge, you’ll grow and learn from these new experiences.

 

Much love,

Kayla

 

P.S. I’ll be continuing with my next reading list very soon. I’ll be back after my move!

Stay Classy With These Classics

When I was in middle school, I decided that I would attempt to read one-hundred fiction classic books  by the time I graduated from high school. It’s about the nerdiest feat I’ve ever *almost* accomplished. Frankly, I was annoyed that-aside from an eight grade literature class- my teachers never assigned enough books for my liking. I’ve read plenty, and yet, when people ask me for a recommendation, involving any genre, I have a brain freeze and I mumble out something like, “Great Expectations is good.” Only I didn’t say I started the book two or three times before reading it all the way through.

I’ve decided to do a series of lists, both fiction and non-fiction. These will be divided into about three posts. Here is the first:

 

1. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

2. Robinson Crusoe  by Daniel Defoe

3. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

5. Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan

6. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

7. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Agatha Christie

Aside from the Nancy Drew books, I’m not too excited about mystery novels. Then, in eight or ninth grade, my literature teacher assigned our class And Then There Were None. I’m a big fan.

9. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

10. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

11. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

12. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

13. Shakespeare by Bill Bryson (not a classic, but  related to the topic of Shakespeare)

14. Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

15. Richard III by William Shakespeare

16. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

17. Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare

18. Hamlet by  William Shakespeare

19. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

20. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

21. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

21. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

22. Pride and prejudicee by Jane Austen

23. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

24. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

25. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by Frank L. Baum

26. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper

27. Our Town [Play] by Thornton Wilder

28. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan  Rawlings

29. Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

30. Animal Farm by George Orwell

31. The Pearl by John Steinbeck

32. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

33. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

34. The Crucible by Upton Sinclair

35. The Chosen by Chaim Potok

36. Black Like Me (non-fiction) by John Howard Griffith

37. Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White

38. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

39. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (Not to be confused with The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

40. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle

41. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’engle

42. Billy Budd by Herman Mellville

43. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

44. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

45. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

46. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansbury

47. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephan Crane

48. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

49. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

50. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

51. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

52. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

53. 1984 by George Orwell

 

Short Stories:

“The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

“The Gold Bug” Edgar Allan Poe

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog” by Mark Twain

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber

“The Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry

“The Cap and the Anthem” O’Henry

“An Unfinished Star” O’Henry

“Enchanted Profile” by O’Henry

“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

“An Appointment With Love” by Sulamith Ish Kishor

“An Experiment in Misery” by Stephan Crane

 

You’re probably thinking, wait, only fifty-three books? That’s not exactly close to one-hundred. Unfortunately, I was not smart enough to write all of these down. Many, recalling from memory. This post will continue to be updated.

 

Is there a classic not on the list(s) above that you recommend? Comment down below.  If I receive enough feedback, I’ll  create a post from your recommendations for other subscribers to see!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be a Tourist

Don’t. Be. A. Tourist. This is easier said than done. If we I was completely honest. As I stepped on a plane to board my flight to Oahu, the temptation to buy a Hawaiian print shirt and pack my own lei in my suitcase was very real. There is nothing wrong with either of these things, but my goal here is to give you a few basic know-how tips to use on any vacation. I would not consider myself a seasoned traveler. In fact, most of this advice is centered around the hilarious and poor mistakes my family and I made while traveling.

1. White socks scream “tourist!”  They also leave a strange sunburn mark.  Don’t wear them. On the other hand, if you’re arriving back in a from a week-long excursion to place like Seattle, chances are your lovely burn or tan marks will have faded before you can wear shorts again.

2. Don’t overestimate your poor and pale skin by sitting out in the sun for four hours straight–especially on your first day in paradise. It’s a bad way to set up the rest of your week.

3. Your Instagram can wait. If you spend all your time clicking away instead of soaking in the moments, you’ll soon find that your Instagram was more of a success than your actual vacation.

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4. Waking up early is essentially an enormous waste of time if, in fact you don’t actually leave your hotel room until mid-morning. Drag your beach bum self out of your hotel room and get where you are going.

5. As I said previously, granting that your desire is to maximize time during your stay, planning beforehand is important.

6. So, you want to go snorkeling. I know from experience that mid-morning is NOT the ideal time to arrive at said location. Different marine life come out to explore, depending on the time of day and corresponding tide levels.

7. *This tip is specific to Oahu, Hawaii.* Assuming a visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial-renamed World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument- is on your list of “to see” locations, careful planning is in order. My party of seven aroused from our restless slumber at 5:30am. Unfortunately, this is necessary for picking up tickets. What we failed to realize, is that although we appeared one of the first groups to arrive, we were told that we had a FIVE HOUR chunk of the day to enjoy.

  • Visit the North Shore
  • Macky’s Sweet Shrimp Truck–I’d fly back just for another taste of shrimp.
  • Matsumoto’s Shave Ice

We had a limited amount of time on our hands once we drove clear to the North Shore and back. However, we decided that on our next trip, this is a place  we’d explore further.

8. Hopefully this is a given, but coffee–or, if tea is your cuppa–indulge in your go-to drink. Everyday. Sure, your hotel probably has a Starbucks, but fuel your obsession with new flavors by experimenting, and tasting a few coffee brews.

9. I almost always regret packing to many clothing items. Never do I leave enough room for purchases, completed books, or bedraggled and dirty clothes.

10. Airplane movies are dreadfully boring. The radio is static-y. Bring your own tunes and shows.

Sincerely,

“Wishing I Were Traveling” in Sunny Seattle

 

Did I miss any important travel tips? Do you possess any wise words worth sharing?

 

 

10 Summer Reads

It’s amazing, really, that considering all the books I’ve read, I haven’t already compiled any reading lists!  So, without further ado, I give you ten of my personal faves:

Top 10 Summer Reads to check out! Tweetable

1.  Hotel  on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I highly recommend this book. I’m not the best critic, but I remember absolutely loving this one. Also, if you doubt my credibility, it’s a New York Times Bestseller. If you’ve been a reader of mine for any amount of time, you may have noted this fact: I’m a total nerd.   I’d honestly be somewhat surprised if you have not seen or heard of this title. It’s received a lot of attention from various newspapers, magazines and even schools. Bonus: it’s set in Seattle!

2.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Total classic. Ladies, I do hope you’ve indulged yourself in this book at some point in your life. If not, this book is for anyone.  I read it as a child, however, I’ve read it numerous times.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Twenty, thirty years down the road, I have no doubt people will still be talking about this story. If you’ve only seen the movie and you are wondering if the book is worth your time, let me be the first to tell you that it’d be a waste of time not to. Readers of historical fiction, inspiring characters, and Southern humor will adore this page-turner.

4.Packing Light: Thought on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt. This book blew me away. The risks Allison  took in her book to make this grand adventure happen, has significantly encouraged me to see risks as opportunities, and not scary giants. Follow her journey as she travels to all fifty states and discover what she learned about Packing Light. Learn more about Allison here.

5. Love Does by Bob Goff. There are very few titles I’d consider re-reading. However, Love Does  is one of those rare treasures. If you are somewhat new to my blog, or a first time visitor, you may have missed my more detailed review of this particular book. This book is for the world-changers, the doers, and non-fiction lovers.

6. Rooms by James L. Rubart. It’s not everyday that the opportunity arises for me to support local authors. Roomsdefinitely grabbed my attention. It’s very unique in that it didn’t quite fit many of the popular story plots. In a nutshell, the story is about one man and one soul-searching journey as he finds God after years of living the “good life.” A series of uncanny  events causes leads him to serious introspection.

7. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I didn’t know how much I loved murder mysteries until I discovered this stupendous author.

8. As Waters Gone By by Tina Bustamante. This book is one of hope and redemption. There are no other two words which better fit the bill than these. Except maybe grace and love. I love Tina. She put her heart and soul into this book and the result is beautiful.

9. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. Every once in a while, I unearth a gem in a secondhand bookstore  such as the one Torday has brilliantly written. While I may not know much about fishing, I walked away from these precious pages with a little more faith in humanity. And an increased respect for fish and fishermen.

10. The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie by Kim Carpenter and Krickitt Carpenter. One word: wow. I can tell you right now, had I read this book prior to seeing the movie, I would not have paid money to see the Hollywood film. This here is the real deal.

 

Did I leave out any must-read in 2014 titles? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

 

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