I’m typing this blog post from a lovely little loft bedroom in my grandma and grandpa’s house in Chinook, Montana. It’s the type of room I’d imagine Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, or Ernest Hemingway wrote their novels from. However, I suspect my room is much more comfortable, cute and neatly organized than any habitat those drunkards wrote in.
I haven’t visited Montana in close to six years. Since then they’ve moved from the forests and mountains of Libby to the prairie land that is Chinook.
The only sounds that I’ve heard this evening from my work space have been nothing more than the sound of wheels and horns from nearby train tracks and a couple of dogs yipping and yapping at each other from across the neighborhood. But for the most part, my stay has been beautifully quiet and still. Simple.
Today I proofread a newspaper article.I hadn’t edited another person’s work in months. It was a beautiful thing to return to my element. My grandpa didn’t appreciate me marking up his completed article in red pen. Heck, at the last minute I almost packed my brand spanking new Associated Press Stylebook. But I didn’t. Only because I had too many other notebooks, binders and reading material to strategically pack in my one suitcase.
I’ve read more books these past six months than I have in two or three years. In one train ride I finished Franny and Zooey and over half of Catcher in the Rye, each by J.D. Salinger. I’m certainly not short on reading material. Nonetheless, I cannot figure out what to read next.
I shadowed my grandpa and followed him to his job at the Blaine County Journal ~News Opinon weekly newspaper, the grocery store, bank, library, and credit union. Did I mention we were able to walk to all of these locations? And it nearly reached seventy degrees? It reminded me of Pullman, minus the hills.
After these important errands we searched around hunting for postcards. I’m a cheesy tourist and couldn’t refrain.
I’m still writing, in case you were wondering. I’ve been working on a lot of personal projects all of which include writing of some sort. I won’t go into much detail but this includes learning more about writing from a handful of my favorite authors and applying those lessons. For more hints you can see my Instagram profile. I have been doing my best to make the most of this short blip in time where I am taking a semester off from school.
One project that is not secret at all has been my Indiegogo fundraiser campaign I started for my service dog Charley—who’s litter has not been chosen or likely born yet. Boy has that been an experience. Hardly halfway through my campaign and already over thirty percent of my funds have been raised. A couple of others include two different news outlets, two dreadful sociology papers and my church back in Pullman!
Three. The number of times some dear soul has paid me to write. Beginning and ending my job at the newspaper was awful. Not long after my first front page article was published in The Daily Evergreen I had to abruptly leave. I had to abandon many people and classes and activities I love. I know soon I’ll be back. I’m not concerned about returning. I’m anxious about being uprooted again.
Not knowing is an awful feeling. Not knowing when or where my health could suddenly take a downward spiral. More than a feeling this has been a journey of trust. On more occasions than I can count I’ve asked God “why me and why now?” I realize I placed so much faith and hope that moving out and being independent. November was terribly disappointing.
All of that mess was redeemed. And through people and events that only God could orchestrate. You and I will consistently fall for the the lie that good things cannot come through difficult circumstances. But God breaks our fall. He doesn’t leave us abandoned. He intervenes. I say this now, after he’s picked me up. I offered no pleasant words to God or anyone in the midst of my mess. It’s OK to not be OK.
I’ll always call myself a writer. There is no doubt about that. But there are some seasons where words-of any kind- don’t come easily. I’m not necessarily saying I give up on writing completely during these periods, but typically any words I do write don’t make sense or bring satisfaction or healing (if I’m working on personal writing that is). Writer’s block. I hate it. Mostly because I consider it my craft, but also because the habit writing relieves me of my burdens and also reminds me of life’s many, many joys.
And so, this week I decided to give the arts another chance. Painting, sketching, sewing, crocheting. They’re all things I’ve experimented with, but hardly ever been consistent in. I can’t say I’m completely disciplined in my writing but I think you get the picture.
I went to a Women’s Retreat with Northshore Community Church and during our very first session Lindie Freed shared her testimony in the most unique way. It’s called a Storyrope™.
. She held in her hand one long strip of fabric. Thick and sturdy. On it various scraps of fabric. Some patterned, others with different textures. All represented different seasons or events in her life. I nearly cried hearing her share her story. The imagery was simple and beautiful. She was so transparent. By the end I was close to tears. I knew that I had to make one.
The rope I interpreted as Jesus, the one firm and sturdy thing on to which everything else is wrapped around. He has been constant every single day of my life. He hasn’t always felt close. I’ve pushed him away. I’ve doubted. But numerous times I’ve come to the end of myself, mentally and physically and been reminded that he really is everything. By pushing him away I render myself incapable.
For every area of my life that I feel like I don’t measure up I’ve chosen to try and prove myself in an area I feel that I am proficient. My junior year of college and my first time away from home I took six classes, started working two jobs, and tried to keep up with different clubs and activities. I burnt out quickly.
Nobody asked me to work. Nobody said “Kayla, you have to finish school in two years.” I brought all of those burdens upon myself. After pushing my limits and then suffering a serious health event I realized that school is secondary to my well being. School and work isn’t going to make me happy unless I allow God to take control of the steering wheel.
I’m both nervous and excited for this special season in my life where God is bringing people and ministries into my life to help heal past wounds and turn them into something beautiful. Only He can completely restore. When we try in our own strength to stuff and hide our garbage it makes for a heavy heart.
What’s funny is that after working on my story rope today I’m here, on my blog writing again and sharing with all of you. It’s good to be back.
P.S. For more information on how to make a rope see http://storyrope.blogspot.com/
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.
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?
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.
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.
For a few weeks now, I’ve debated internally about whether or not I should share about my struggles. it’s personal and messy and I’m not sure I want to reveal that to the world. Well, here I am. Messy, broken, but healing. In an attempt to make sense of my experiences, I wrote- a lot- about the question I believe many people ask: what is depression?
I came to the conclusion in that depression, unlike other medical conditions, varies drastically from person to person.
- unable to be defined.
- wanting to enjoy the company of friends and family, but ignoring them when they reach out to you.
- lying awake at night and dragging yourself through the night.
- telling yourself that you’re the only one who feels this way.
Isolating yourself is the worst possible action you can take if you’re struggling with depression. It’s tempting. I created excuses not to go to birthday parties, and many other activities. I didn’t have any reason not to attend these events, but I convinced myself that I wasn’t wanted. Surely the party would be more fun without me.
I loved this excerpt from Donald’s Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz:
We see those cigarette advertisements with the rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse, and we think that is strength, when really, it is like setting your soul down on a couch and not exercising it. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy.
Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller
In the past, I was naive in believing that depression was black and white. In other words, I thought you happy go-lucky or suicidal. The truth is that there is a large gray area spanning between those two extremes.
I’d say my depression peaked my sophomore year of high school. I was trying hard to fit in. Trying to finally become friends that I had eaten lunch with since 5th grade.
Whether or not I realized it at the time, writing became my therapy. It helped me come to terms with feelings I didn’t know how to share in depth, even with my closest friends.
Here’ what I found about writing:
Writing heals you from sicknesses that before, you never even knew you had.
When you write (if you do), my guess is that you tell a piece of paper more than you tell most people. People wonder why I’m such a crazy advocate for keeping a journal. I guess I hadn’t previously connected those experiences with my writing habits. There’s no doubt that they’re related.
I knew I was depressed when I denied having any feelings at all. I threw myself into school, church activities. Not to mention other people’s problems. It was bad.
Only recently have I really been able to do more than just write, I’ve come to the point where I can wake up in the morning and decide for myself that I’ll get out of bed and choose joy.
Regardless of how my day goes. Unfortunately, that is one thing I don’t have control over.
That decision may seem action may seem small and insignificant, but not everyday is as happy-go lucky as we’d like. It’s not something we should discredit. Recognizing the smallest of achievements is important.
For me, depression is something that doesn’t really go away once it’s begun. I’ve simply learned to cope with it and recognize the red flags which let you know the real you is being stifled by someone else. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve filled over twenty journals with practically everything. I’m not saying that to brag, but to emphasize that a lot of life happens in short amounts of time. If we’re not careful, life continues on it’s way before we are able to learn anything from our time spent in the pits. And thus the cycle goes unbroken. Nothing gets better.
Author: James L. Rubart
What’s it about: When Micah Taylor inherits a mansion in Cannon Beach from a long dead uncle who he has never met, he’s not quite sure what to think. After stepping out of his comfort zone, Taylor decides to visit this mystery house. In the house, he encounters rooms which force him to face bits and pieces of his painful past-and the faith he thought he had abandoned for sure.
Why did I read it:A friend recommended it to me and I thought “why not?” It’s probably something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless.
Favorite idea: “Despite the unanswered questions and being within miles of where his heart had shattered, he felt at peace.” This feeling resonated deeply with me.
Where you can buy it: here
Title: Blue Like Jazz: Non-religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality
Author: Donald Miller
What’s it about: Christian Spirituality. Miller talks about a variety of emotions, such as depression, loneliness, relationships, love, finances and etc. I feel like it’s so, so relevant to young adults. He talks about all of these issues from personal experience which makes it even easier to read.
Why did I read it: I’ve heard so many good things about this book. From youth pastors, favorite authors and peers. I love Miller’s honesty and transparency.
Favorite idea: I underlined something in every chapter of this book, but my favorite idea is this: “I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel, I think it is something very difficult to get on paper. but it is no less real, no less meaningful, no less beautiful.”
Where you can buy it: (and I highly recommend you do)
How to Join the Empty Shelf Challenge: join
You should really, really, really read this book.
Hope is hard. It’s a fact of life.
But hope is also beautiful. It means we’re choosing to believe that there is indeed a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. That, my friend, is no easy feat.
Hope is counting on and clinging to what we cannot see. Hope is what we grab hold of as we’re searching for peace in the middle of a war. Hope is not always comforting, but sometimes it’s all that’s left.
If hope were a person, I wonder what he’d say or what he’d do. I’d like to believe that he’d take my hand and say “here’s my hand, you can squeeze it.” Hope would know that if I can’t change my present circumstances, I’m better off knowing I don’t need to endure the battle ahead alone.
Faith and hope work closely together. Without faith, how could we hope? How else could we confidently say,”everything will work out.” Hope is the product of faith in something. In anything. In anyone.
C.S. Lewis once said that “Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.” Sounds a lot like hope doesn’t it?
Not everyone may believe in God or a supernatural being, but it’d take an incredible amount of convincing for someone to tell me they didn’t have hope. We hope in our friends, our family, our circumstances. In tangible things.
However, I’ve found the most beautiful sort of hope is that which can’t be seen or heard or touched, but still believed in.
Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”