Sunday, March 30, 2014

10 things I Like About Myself.

In trying to think of things to blog about on a regular basis, I've done a lot of research about blog topic ideas. There is one topic in particular that keeps catching my eye, but I keep ignoring it because it seems silly and not related to what I usually blog about. But today I don't have anything particularly insightful to talk about, so I think I will be brave and just go for it. So here it is: 10 things I like about myself.  I hesitated to do this topic because it could make me sound arrogant, but I think people that really know me will know that that is not my intention. Thinking of 10 things I like about myself is a challenge for me, and it forces me to think about myself in a positive way. Since I spent a lot of time thinking negatively about myself in the past, I wanted to try this, so here we go.

1. I have wisdom
People have always told me that I'm wise, and I never really started to see the benefits of that until recently. I am able to have meaningful conversations with people older than me, and I can usually understand how people are feeling without them having to tell me.

2. I am a good writer
I like having something that I know I'm good at, and that I enjoy doing.

3. I don't need constant attention
I am okay with spending time by myself occasionally . I don't need other people to entertain me constantly, and that makes my life a lot easier.

4. I can be creative
I'm not artistic (I got a C in art in high school), but I am creative. Things like writing and photography are fun too me, and I like finding creative new perspectives within those things.

5. I'm a good role model
Ok that sounds like I'm bragging, but I promise I'm not. Before I came to college, I was the oldest member of my youth group, and I took that role seriously. I realize that there are younger people looking up to me, and I keep that in mind when I'm tempted to make dumb decisions just for the sake of being a college student. When I come home to visit, I am proud to be able to look them in the eye and know that I am not doing things I wouldn't want them to do when they get older.

6. My eyes
It's hard for me to find physical attributes I like about myself, and I don't think I should concentrate on physical things too much, but my eyes have always been something I could look in the mirror and be happy with. They look like my dad's eyes (at least to me) and I think they're pretty.

7. I like to learn
I'm not saying that I am excited to go to class every day, or that learning every subject is easy for me. But outside of school. I like to learn new things about things I find interesting. I've learned that enjoying learning is nothing to be ashamed of, and that it will benefit me in the long run.

8. I am respectful
I can only remember a teacher calling me disrespectful one time in high school, and it wasn't a teacher whose opinion I particularly valued. I developed a reputation for being respectful, and I try to maintain it.

9. I'm a trustworthy friend
I value my friends, and it's important to me to be someone they can trust

10. I am strong in my faith
My faith has continued to become more important in my life, and I am proud that it is becoming stronger.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Summer I Turned 16

     Sometimes It's hard to fully understand the depth of a situation until it's over. At least, it has been for me. That's one of the reasons it has taken me this long to write about a particular time in my life, the summer I spent recovering from surgery. The other reason is because I just don't like for people to feel sorry for me, or to think that my disability is what defines me. But now that I am away from that time in my life, I want explain it from the perspective a person who survived it. I don't want you to think that this blog is going to be about my disability or my "struggles", because it's not. I just feel ready to look back on that time and explain how I felt during it, so that's what I'm going to do. I don't want this to change your opinion of me, and it is my deep hope that you will not think or say "bless your heart" after reading this. My heart has been blessed more times than I can count, trust me. So now that I made that snarky disclaimer (yes I know snarky isn't an actual word but it's so fun), I will begin my story.
Before and after x-rays
     When I was 15, my doctor decided that it was time to do surgery to correct the scoliosis in my spine. Scoliosis is not my disability, it's a whole other thing, so this was not a surgery to "fix my disability", which I think some people may have thought at first. However, my scoliosis needed to be corrected so that it would not continue to get worse, which would most likely have eventually made me have to be in a wheelchair. I didn't want that to happen, so preparations for my "anterior and posterior spine fusion with instrumentation" began. Looking back on that time now, I realize that I didn't give myself enough credit for dealing with all of that. Sitting there listening to a surgeon describe what you are about to go through is not pleasant in any way, especially when you're only 15. I remember him saying that he would have to take one of my ribs out, (sorry for the graphic fact, I just have a weird fascination with that), and my innocent 15 year old self asked him if he was going to put it back. Now I could get even more gross and tell you what he did with it, but i'll spare you the details and just say that no, he did not put it back. How's that for shocking? Anyway, my point is that mentally preparing for the surgery was pretty brutal. It was really scary and confusing, although I tried to be as brave as possible. But it isn't until after the surgery that the really difficult part began
Me with one of the doctors who did my surgery. He's a neurosurgeon with a really good handshake who sings "Penny Lane" when I come for appointments because it rhymes with my name. He's really awesome

     Waking up from surgery is a really strange process, but waking up from this one was even stranger than I expected. Since I was of course heavily sedated, all I can remember is that my throat really hurt because there was a tube down it, and that my mom was there holding my hand. I'm sure my dad was there to, but as I said, the details are vague in my mind because I was drugged up. I remember that my mom was trying to explain something to me, and I was trying to ask questions but I couldn't talk because of the tube in my throat. What she was trying to tell me is that my surgery wasn't finished, because I had an allergic reaction and they had to stop. At the time, I didn't understand the severity of the situation, and I was just annoyed that it wasn't over yet. It wasn't until later that I understood that I had gone into anaphylactic  shock, and it was really serious and scary. It was completely unexpected and at the time they didn't know what had caused it, which made going in to finish the surgery a few days later even scarier. Basically that incident just made the whole process way more intense than it originally would have been, and it was a really scary time for my family. Anyway, they finished the surgery a few days later, and the long road to recovery began. 
     Because my spine was now in a completely different position, I had to learn to walk with a new sense of balance, and that process began very soon. I remember a physical therapist coming in to my room and saying very cheerfully "It's time to walk!" and thinking she was out of her mind. But she was serious, so I had to get out of bed and try to walk, and I wasn't thrilled. I was hooked up to an IV, with 2 pretty big scars that hadn't healed yet. Add that to the fact that my spine was in a different position than I was used to and the fact that I was on lots of pain medicine, and then you can probably guess that I wasn't exactly enthusiastic about this process. The first day I only had to walk a few steps, but I think it was physically the hardest thing I've ever done. I was in the hospital for 8 days, and it was very stressful for my parents an myself. On the last day, they told me that I could go home if I avoided using the morphine pump for a certain amount of time, and I was determined not to touch it anymore, We were just ready to be home so that I could work on recovering without all the stress and commotion that comes with being in the hospital (for example, being woken up in the middle of the night because on of your feet is hotter than the other) . 
     When I finally got home, I had to adjust to having barely any independence. I couldn't even get out of bed or wash my hair by myself anymore, and that was hard for me to deal with. I turned 16 a few weeks after I came home from the hospital, but I felt that I was getting younger instead of older. Relying on other people for things that I used to be able to do by myself made me bitter for a while, but my parents didn't allow me to stay that way for long. They made sure I was doing what I could to recover and regain my independence. 
      That summer was one of the most challenging times in my life so far. I was dealing with all of the emotions and weird feelings that come with being a 16 year old girl, plus the challenge of recovering from a major surgery. Until now, I haven't given myself credit for that. I went through a lot. One of the things that I have a hard time with is the fact that during that time, people kept telling me that I was going through this because God had a great plan for me. While I now understand that that struggle was part of His plan, hearing that then made me mad at God because it seemed like He was being really mean to make me go through all of that. It took me a while to get through all of that anger and confusion, but I came out of it with a stronger faith that I am grateful for. 
     I think that good writers should avoid using rhetorical questions in most cases, because they are annoying and cliche, but I am going to break that rule for once to sum everything up. Would I go back and do all of this over again if I had to? The answer, surprisingly is yes. I never thought I would be saying this, but without going through all of that, I wouldn't be who I am today. It helped me learn how to put my problems into perspective, and appreciate things I would normally take for granted, like getting out of bed by myself. It helped me become mature and to not get so caught up in the things that tend to consume teenagers. Most of all, it eventually brought me closer to God. So while I hope I never have to go through anything like that again, I am thankful for the things it taught me. Recovering from surgery does not make me a hero. People recover from surgeries every day.  It wasn't my idea, I was just doing what I had to do. But for the first time, I am giving myself credit. That summer was hard, and I survived it. I guess I'm pretty tough when I need to be. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quiet Like Jesus

When I was deciding what to write about today, I felt that something was a bit off. I finally figured out that it was silent in my dorm. Silence is a highly unusual thing in a college environment, and it threw me off.
      I can't remember the last time I heard silence, other than in the early morning before the day gets started. My first instinct was to turn on some music to counteract this unusual absence of noise, but then I had a realization. Silence isn't always a bad thing, it's just become an uncomfortable thing. We live in a world that does not like silence. We can use technology to have music and other noisy media available to us at any time so that we never have to experience what it feels like to sit quietly.   I have become so used to being constantly surrounded by noise that I forgot that I actually enjoy short periods of silence. Not days full of silence, because those tend to make me gloomy, but brief moments of it throughout the day. I am an introvert, and I need quiet moments to mentally process things. I'm not anti-social, but I don't function well with a lot of noise and commotion for a long time. Sometimes I like to step away and have just a minute or two for myself. I used to think that was something I needed to change, but now I realize it's just part of who I am, and I'm in good company.
    The Bible talks about Jesus going away to a quiet place by himself and spending time praying before he was crucified. He also spent 40 days in the desert by himself, and I would think that would involve a lot of silence. So maybe if Jesus enjoyed silence, it's not so bad that I do too. It's not something I experience often as a college student, but the next time I do, I think I will try to appreciate it instead of avoid it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Story Behind the Name and Overcoming my Doubts

If you have ever wondered how I got the name for this blog, today is your lucky day. The name comes from the lyrics of a song I heard on K-love called I Will Lift My Eyes. It was one of those songs I instantly liked the first time I heard it. My favorite lyrics of the song are I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb. I love those words because they remind me that God is the Creator of everything, including the things that challenge me. Those comforting words stuck with me ever since I first heard the song, so that's why I chose it for the name of my blog. In the past, I have let my challenges defeat me instead of remembering that God is the One who created them and can help me overcome them, so the those words help remind me that God has it under control.
Speaking of the things that challenge me, let's talk about my feelings about the blog lately. It started in a moment of bravery and confidence, and I've kept it up. But now I'm starting to realize that people actually do read it, and it kind of scares me. Adults with busy lives are taking time out of their day to read the ramblings of a college freshman. That's crazy! Suddenly, those insecurities I thought I had conquered are starting to creep back up. What if my writing isn't actually very good? What if people are just reading it to be nice?  What if I say something wrong? I am very prone to doubting myself, I guess it's just become a habit. But I want to break that habit, so I will forge ahead with this blogging mission. Writing is something that makes me feel good, and I believe it's a talent God wants me to use, so I will. I thank you all so much for supporting me in this journey, and putting up with my ever changing attitudes along the way. I am very thankful for anyone who is taking the time to read this. It really does mean a lot to me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Letter to My Former Self


small_X36foU.jpgDear Me,

First of all, I wish you would realize that your high school is like 0.00000001 % of the world. What happens there really isn't going to affect you that much in the long run, so stop worrying so much.
In 11th grade English, when you decide to say out loud that you think the book your class is reading is really good, ignore those people who make it a big deal and try to make you think you’re weird. You’re not weird. You’re smart, and you happen to enjoy English class because you understand the subject. Stop being ashamed of that. Stop trying to be less smart to fit it. That's such a waste of energy. In college, you will be able to enjoy your English class and no one will bother you about it. You’re a good writer, you should realize that and take advantage of it. But please stop trying to make people think the school newspaper is cool. You’re not going to convince anyone, and you look silly. But it’s what you enjoy, so shut up and enjoy it. It’s ok to be a “nerd”. Nerds accomplish things. I wish you wouldn't worry so much about what your classmates think of you. You’re not going to see most of them after graduation anyway. Also, not having a boyfriend in high school is not going permanently scar you, I promise.
I wish you knew that when someone tells you two days after one of your best friends dies that “these are the best years of your life” they are wrong. That’s something adults like to say to high school students for some reason, and you don’t need to believe it. It is ok to be sad over the loss of your friend for as long as you need to be. It’s a really sad thing, and no one is going to be able to give you a reason why. Stop trying to “get over it” and realize that it’s more productive to try to be at peace about it. Learn to accept that there will always be those fleeting moments when you pick up your phone to text him, and there will always be that moment of pain when you realize you can’t. Some days you will catch a glimpse of a tall, curly haired boy or a red truck, and forget for a moment that he’s gone. He was such a genuine friend to you, and you will always miss him, but you will eventually be able to be at peace about him being gone. Cherish his friendship, it’s one of the best you will ever have.
    Enjoy the time you spend with your parents. Thank them for the things they do for you. When you have to start doing things for yourself, you will get a new appreciation for all they did for you. All those things they tell you in your most insecure times are so true, even though you don’t want to admit it. You will find yourself one day sitting in college psychology listening to a professor with a doctoral degree talk about self confidence, and you will realize that she is saying the exact things your mother told you a million times. Realize that your parents have something many college professors and other adults in your life will never have, plain old common sense. That's important. Also, Believe me when I say that your mom telling you to clean your room is nowhere near as annoying as random people showing up unannounced to see if your room is clean at 11 pm the day before you have a test. All those Friday nights you wished you were doing something other than having dinner with your parents are nights that you will miss. You may not always admit it, but you’re lucky to have them. They raised you so well, and you have no idea how ridiculously stable your childhood was.
    Spend more time with your grandparents. Soon you’ll realize that they won’t be around forever, and it will be hard to deal with. Play with your dog. OK, maybe that won’t work knowing him, but appreciate all those times he comes and lays down in your room, and even all those times he stares at you for hours for no particular reason. He won’t be around forever either. Stop trying to control you’re friends’ relationships. You're hurting your friendships by doing that. Let people think for themselves, and stop thinking you know what they should do better than they do.
    Your brother is a great guy. You should stop resenting him for all that he’s accomplished. He got into a good college because he worked hard in school, and he deserves to be there. He has nice things because he works hard, and he works a lot. Be proud of him, and realize that he’s proud of you. Your brother is one of the nicest guys you will meet, it just takes you a while to realize that.
    I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that you’re worrying about all the wrong things. The approval of your peers shouldn't be so important to you. You should focus on God more and realize that a relationship with him is more fulfilling than being accepted by people. Stop wishing away your childhood, and learn to live in the moment, because you can’t get those moments back. Learn to have real conversations with people, even those people you don’t find particularly interesting. That’s a skill you will need later. Stop worrying so much, everything turns out fine. The things you worry about now won’t matter later. Learn to accept compliments instead of thinking they are lies. You’re not weird, you’re not ugly, and you’re not stupid. Stop letting yourself believe that you are. You’re going to like who you become. I know, because that’s who I am right now.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday Volume 2 :Honduras Memories Continued

 There are some moments that can change your life instantly. Some of them are bad moments, but others are really good. Since I'm young, I haven't had a lot of moments, but the first time we went to the orphanage in Honduras was definitely one of them that I will remember for a long time.
    It's hard for me to describe how awesome that moment was, and I feel like I'm failing every time I do. But the best way I can is this; Imagine walking into a place you've never gone, filled with people you've never met, and finding what you didn't know you were looking for. That's what that moment was to me. I had no idea what it was going to be like, and I was trying not to expect much. I figured the children would be shy at first, and that they would gravitate towards the people in the group who were teachers and knew how to act around lots of children (That was basically everyone except me). I was so wrong.
  From the moment we walked in the door, those children loved us, and they loved us all equally.They didn't know who we were or where exactly we had come from, but just by the Orphan Helpers t-shirts  we were wearing we became good people in their minds,  I got so many hugs in those first few minutes that I didn't know what to do with myself. All of the pictures that were taken of me during that first visit show (at least in my mind) how shocked and happy I was. I love those pictures because although I look tired from travelling all day, I look genuinely happy. That says a lot because I rarely like pictures of myself.

     I'm trying to think of a way to make this longer, and I feel like I'm understating that moment again. But that day was such an important day in my life. It's the day I began to let go of the insecurity that had a hold on my life, and it's the day my faith began to become a bigger part of my life. The fact that those children know how to express unconditional love is amazing knowing how difficult their lives have been. I am so thankful that I got to meet them. I have become that person who went on a mission trip and never stops talking about it, and I think I'm okay with that. When something changes your life, it's hard not to talk about it. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Problems I am Lucky to Have

     Today was one of those days where I was finding lots of reasons to be unhappy. It's been cold all winter, but today it just seems really cold. Maybe it's just because I'm getting tired of it, because today is definitely not the coldest day we've had, but it was really getting to me today. The combination of wind and rain in my face as I rode my bike to class did not put a smile on my face. To make matters worse, I went back out in the cold after I was done with classes with a mission that did not succeed. I was feeling so good because I braved the awful weather to go get tutoring that isn't required but really helps me, only to find out that there was a mistake on the schedule. So I returned to my dorm, cold and annoyed. It just didn't seem like today was going to be a good day. In an effort to clear my head, I decided to write down the assignments that are due this week on the dry erase board above my desk. As I reached over the desk to write, something caught my eye. A picture from Honduras of a girl I met named Margarita.
     When that picture caught my eye, I had one of those moments where it was like God was telling me something. You see, what I love so much about Margarita was the fact that being around her made me feel peaceful.She didn't have much to smile about, and yet she showed her beautiful smile often. I love this picture because in it I can see that peacefulness in her eyes. What I realized in the moment that picture caught my eye is that I need to realize that my problems are not as big as I let them become in my mind. Sure, the cold is no fun and it's a bummer that I'm not going to get any help with math today. But is it really a big deal? No. I know for a fact that right now there are children in an orphanage in Honduras with not much to smile about, but I can almost guarantee you that they are smiling, because that's what most of them did the whole time we were there. They have far bigger problems than I do. In fact, many of them probably won't ever get the opportunity to go to college and stress over college classes. The problems I was facing today were annoying, but they were problems that I am lucky to have. They mean that I am in college working towards a goal, and that I have hope for the future.
     So on days like today, when the sun just won't shine and my problems begin to seem like too much, I need to remember the lesson I learned from Margarita. No matter what problems I face, I should always look for a reason to smile. I'm thankful I have that picture of her so I get to see her smile whenever life starts to take away my peace.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What Are You Trying to Prove? (A question that made me question myself)

     It seems like every time I'm home for youth group something happens that challenges me. I guess it surprises me because I am technically to old for the group at this point, and now I always assume that I will be an observer. But that's not how it works. I am the oldest, and so I am actually the one being observed.  If I don't take the topics we discuss seriously, the younger kids will think that it's okay for them not too either. I don't want them to think that way, so I try to lead by example. I fail at that a lot, and sometimes the behavior they see from me is one that I wish I could take back. But I try my best, and I hope maybe they see that.
     So when I attended youth group Thursday night and the topic was Lent, I should have known better than to think I was exempt from the activity that followed our discussion. They wrote what they would be sacrificing for lent on strips of paper and linked the strips together to form a chain.(I think it's a really cool idea). I soon found out that I was expected to participate, and everyone seemed less than impressed that I had decided to give up the same thing as last year, so that's when I expanded it to all social media.
    Fast forward to this afternoon, when I  returned to my dorm after spring break. I was catching up with my friends here, and somehow the conversation turned to the fact that I would not be using social media until Easter. I told them that it was for Lent and selfishly hoped they would not question me further. Explaining my faith, and what I do because of it ,to my peers is not one of my strong points. So you can imagine my feelings when one of my friends asked, not rudely but with genuine curiosity, "What are you trying to prove [by giving up something for Lent] . I didn't know what to say. At first, I tried to blow it off, saying that I just did it because I was at youth group so I had no choice. But then I realized that wasn't true. I did it willingly, and I put considerable thought into it. And if I really didn't care , I would have broken my commitment by now. So since I didn't have the right answer right away, I asked my friend if I could think about if for a while and answer her question later, and she agreed. After thinking and praying about it, I think I'm ready to give my answer.
     Lent is not about proving anything. Lent is a season of preparation and growth, and it's sort of a personal journey. The forty days of the Lent season are the days leading up to Easter, and if I understand correctly it's forty days because that's how many days Jesus was tempted in the desert.  I think the purpose of Lent is to prepare for Easter, the day that represents the resurrection of Jesus. Now I'm going out on a limb, and the next statement is just a thing that came from my brain and could be completely incorrect. Easter is celebrated because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice (dying for our sins) and now many people make (much smaller) sacrifices, during Lent. I don't think that anyone who participates in this season for the right reasons is trying to prove anything. I think the goal is to better appreciate the sacrifice that was made for us by implementing a small sacrifice in our own lives. What I am trying to gain from making a sacrifice during this season is not the approval of others, but a deeper understanding of the sacrifice Jesus made and all that it represents. I hope this explanation has helped shed some light on the topic and not just caused more confusion. I'm not so great at explaining this kind of thing, but I felt like I needed to try.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Third Graders Taught Me About Lent

     This year, I approached the season of Lent sort of casually, which obviously isn't the right attitude. I decided to give up Facebook even though that's what I did last year, because I didn't think of anything else right away and I didn't feel like putting more thought into it. I kept up with this attitude for a while, not really thinking about it, until 2 days ago when an unexpected source showed me that I needed to fix my attitude about this holy season.
     On Thursday, I was at the elementary school hanging out, which is something that I've found to be quite fun. Since I'm thinking about being a teacher at the elementary level, it's cool to have a way to see what it's like firsthand. Anyway, at one point the class did an activity where they could get candy if they got all the answers right. Now I remember some things about elementary school, and I know that the chance to get candy was always exciting. So when one little boy raised his hand and said "What about me?" I thought he must be double checking to be completely certain that he would indeed be included in this reward. I had it all wrong. He had given up candy for Lent. Here I was, giving up one small thing, the same thing as last year, feeling all proud of myself, and this child less than half my age immediately, without knowing it, put me in my place.
     You see, he was committed to his sacrifice, and didn't feel ashamed to make that known in front of his peers. He didn't brag about it, or whine about the fact that Lent is just so hard like I would have done. He simply accepted his commitment and asked what he could do to work around it. As if, I wasn't already impressed, I soon found out that he wasn't the only one who had given up candy. These children had made this decision outside of school and kept with it even when they were away from their parents and around their peers.
     So now that I have expanded my Lent sacrifice to all social media (with the exception of this blog), whenever I have a picture that would be perfect to put on Instagram, or a story from my life I wish I could tell all my Facebook friends about, I will remember these children and the example the gave me. Who knew that someone with a high school diploma would learn so much from a day in the third grade.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

He Said Go.

 Going to Honduras for the second time is a lot different than going the first time. It's not a new thing anymore, and there's really no fear involved because I know what to expect. This year, I'm not a first timer, and I'm also not the youngest team member. It's been hard for me to process that it's not going to be the same as last year, because last year's trip truly was a life changing time for me. It was so amazing the first year that I find myself thinking that it can't possibly be as amazing the second time, but everyone who's gone more than once assures me that it will be.
      Up until now, I've had a certain routine when it comes to my role on the mission team. I'm the quiet one, I listen politely through the meetings and just go with the flow. I let the other people handle the unpleasant topics, but today I've decided to test the limits of my comfort zone and explore a somewhat controversial question that we sometimes get asked as members of this team. Fasten your seat belts, readers, I'm about to speak my mind.
     The question that we often get asked, and that I will answer the best I can, is this. Why do you go all the way to Honduras to do mission work? . International mission trips are expensive, and there's plenty of ways to serve right here at home. People like to point out that it would be more cost effective to stay closer to home, and maybe that's true. But in my humble, unprofessional opinion, maybe God's plans are bigger than money. Here's why I say that.
     When I first heard the cost of the trip last year, I was honestly concerned. In my 18 year old brain, the number I saw on paper seemed very big. I didn't understand how we could possibly raise that much money. But God provided for us, and although it was stressful at times, we raised the money we needed and we were fine. Fundraising can be hard work, but once we get to Honduras and see the faces of those children, the stress of money is forgotten.
     So why do I go to Honduras? Mainly because I feel like that's what God has called me to do. I feel like he wants me to stop focusing on trying to understand every detail of His plan and start relying on faith. Trying to figure out the plan before being obedient to it has never worked for me, so I've had to learn to trust a plan I can't fully understand. I'm still working on applying that trust to every element of my life.
     People also wonder why those of us who have already gone continue to go back multiple times. I think you have experience it personally to fully understand that, but I'll try to explain it. If you went on a trip and met new friends, wouldn't you want to come back and see them if you had the chance? I met people in Honduras who I now consider my friends. I want to go see them again. I can't be certain that I will see the same children I saw last year, but that's a risk I want to take.
     Right now, I feel that going to Honduras is part of God's plan for me. I need to worry less about making everyone else understand that and focus on getting prepared to do what I need to do when we get there. But I did feel like I wanted to tackle this question, and I hope I have helped in some way to support this mission and all that it means to me. The verse that the mission team recited throughout the week last year sums it up best.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

That's Too Much!

   When I was younger, whenever I stayed home sick from school, I always ended up watching The Price is Right. I remember on particular game on the show in which the contestant had to guess the price of a product by saying the phrase "That's too much!" when they thought the number shown was higher than the price of the product. The host would always try to get them excited so that they would say this phrase with certainty, and as a child I thought the way these people yelled "That's too much" , placing emphasis on the too as they yelled into the microphone, was pretty funny. Well the past few days, there have been some moments when I have wished someone would hand me a microphone so I could declare to the world "That's too much!"
     Coming home for spring break was a welcome event, I have gotten to see friends I've been away from and spend time doing fun things instead of going to class and studying. But for me, there is something that I find difficult about coming home. You see, when I was home everyday and not gone for a long period of time, I didn't notice things changing. But now, I am noticing that things have changed even since I was home three weeks ago. This may sound silly, but my dog is getting older, and he seems to act more like an old dog every time I come home. He still has some moments where he acts like nothing changed, but those moments are becoming more rare. We've had him since I was in the first grade (I'm a college freshman now) and I love him a lot. It's hard for me to accept the fact that he may not be around much longer.
     Other than that, there weren't any other specific changes I could put my finger on, I was just feeling a general sense of uneasiness. I seem to be at a stage of life where I don't feel like a child anymore, but I don't always feel like an adult either
     I had been feeling sad about this, but I thought I was handling it pretty well up until Sunday and yesterday. Then I started to feel like to many things were changing. Sitting in church Sunday, I was feeling thankful that whenever I come home, my church is a place I go that I can always count on to be a steady part of my life that's always there and doesn't really change. But then, right as the service was ending, an announcement was made that distorted this image I had of my church being an unchanging place. The thing that was announced will cause a pretty big change in the church, and I feel apprehensive about it. I have changed so much since I started going to this church, and my faith has become a bigger part of my life.  It's a place I've always felt very secure. So when this change was announced, I wanted to stand up right then and there, and like the contestants playing that game, shout "That's too much!" I had been experiencing a season of comfort and security in my faith, where everything felt safe and easy. Now I feel like I have entered an uncertain season, and I haven't quite figured out how to handle it.
     This change of seasons in my life has humbled me in regards to this blog. I am reminded that just because I know how to write doesn't take away from the fact that sometimes I am uncertain. I could try to put a positive spin on all of this and end this post with a moral that ties it all together, but this time I don't want to do that, so instead, I'll say this. The verse I have chosen to add today reminds me that there is a time for everything, and I'm not so sure what it's time for right now. My faith has been shaken a little bit because of these feelings I have been experiencing these past few days, but it is not gone. I trust that God has a plan for this season of my life, and I will do my best to keep being faithful until I figure out what that plan is.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Best Friend Tag

Today I'm taking a break from all the serious things on my mind and trying something different. I'm home for spring break and spending some time with Sarah, and she agreed to do the "Best Friend Tag" with me, and we thought it would be fun to share it with you.

1. How and when did you meet

In Bible School, the summer before I started 6th grade and she started 5th.

2. What's your favorite memory together

S: When we took a road trip to my mom's friend Nancy's house. That's when we figured out we liked photography

J: When we got to go on a trip to Pennslyvania together

3. What's your dream job?

S: Photographer/ Owning a Bakery with Jennie/ Singer

J: Owning a Bakery with Sarah/ Nail Polish Namer

4. What is something that annoys you about the other person?

S: Can't think of anything

J: Whenever we're about to leave her house to go somewhere, she can never find the shoes she's looking for and she has to go search the house.

5. If you could go anywhere in the world together, where would it be and why?

We want to go to New York together to visit the Cake Boss bakery

6. What's your favorite inside joke?

S: It's under you...that's where I keep my special things

J: Hurricane Evacuation Route

7. If your house was burning down, what would you save (not counting family members)

S: The stuffed panda my dad got me from China and my journals

J: The notes some of the girls wrote me in Hondras and my journal from Honduras, and my yearbook from junior year that Scott signed

8. Do you have anything matching?

We have matching bracelets. 

So there you have it, our friendship described in 8 questions. As you can see, we are quite random but we have fun.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

How's The Family?

     It's probably way too early in the blogging process for me to start being cynical. I was about to write about how great it is to be home and what a wonderful feeling it is to live in a small town, but I guess I'm too rebellious to say those things. Everyone told me I would miss this place when I left it, but I'm still waiting for that to happen. Sure, I missed my family and my friends, but I didn't really miss living here. So when a trip to the grocery store today turned in to me having to give reports on my Grandma, parents, and brother to people I barely know, I was pretty bent out of shape. After getting used to being in a place where no one knows me or my family, It seemed strange that people would ask these things and not think of it as rude. I was getting pretty annoyed, and it was probably starting to show.
     As I was driving home, I began to think about how I could put a positive spin on these negative feelings, and I realized something. People want to know about my family because they are well liked members of the community. My Grandma has done a lot to help lots of people, and as a result, lots of people care about her. People are constantly asking about that "smart and handsome brother of mine" because they're proud of him. He's accomplished a lot, and people like to hear about it. Though it's hard for me to accept it, in small towns like this, what I would consider being nosy is just people trying to show that they care.
     So the next time someone blocks my path to the checkout line to request a report on each member of the Diggs family, I will try to put aside my annoyance and appreciate the fact that so many people care about us. While I can't say that I have found a way to love small town life, I can say that I am grateful that my home town is filled with people who care about my family. This may not be my favorite place on earth right now, but it's my home, and it's where I'll always know that I am loved.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Selected Memories From My Trip To Honduras

     I have lots of memorable stories from Honduras that I never get around to talking about when the team shares our testimonies because there's never enough time, so I thought that I would share some more in depth stories on this blog, and keeping up with the social media trend of "throwback Thursday" seemed fitting.
     Today I'll talk about the day we arrived, and the life-changing journey began. (How's that for a good "hook"? My English professor would be proud.)
     We got off to an early start, meeting at the airport at some time in the early morning that I don't remember right now. The new experiences began right away for me, because I had never even been in an airport before. I stood with my group and waited for everyone to arrive, and then we went through the normal check-in process. It all felt pretty surreal, partly because I had gotten up so early and didn't feel fully awake, but mostly because I couldn't believe it was actually finally happening. All the preparing and planning was done, and the adventure was beginning.
     When we finally got on the plane, it was not like I had imagined it would be. Since the first flight only took us as far as Florida, we were on a very small plane and I was near the front in a seat that had no seats beside it, and everyone else was behind me where I couldn't easily see them. It was then that I worried that I would hate flying, because I still had one more flight ahead of me that day and then two more when we came back. But when we took of, I was happy to discover that I actually enjoy flying. There's something about being in the clouds and looking down on the world that seems very profound to me. For the rest of that flight I spent a lot of time just looking out the window and thinking about the days ahead. I made my first journal entry of the trip, which is funny to look back on because of how fascinated I was by such a common thing.
     We soon landed in Florida, at what must be the biggest airport ever. It seemed to take forever to get from one side to the other. We did have time to eat at a restaurant in the airport, and that's when I discovered everyone's fascination with my dietary habits. If they try to tell you that chicken tenders are the only food I eat, don't believe them! That just happens to be a common restaurant food that I enjoy. Jokes aside, this is when I really started to bond with the people I would be sharing my adventures with, and I loved the feeling of being part of a team.  Soon we were in the air again, heading to the place that would challenge us more than we knew, show us things we didn't expect, and seal the team bond that we had begun to form. Next week I'll share with you what it was like the first time we visited the orphanage. 

Well Let's Try Plan B. (A list)

So I just spent an hour making a new post, clicked on spell check and it disappeared. Guess that wasn't the story I was meant to share today. Anyway, until I figure out what happened, here's the part I can remember, a list of 10 things I learned from my mission trip.

10. Neck wallets are not stylish, but they are practical

9. When travelling with teachers, expect "potty breaks" and head counts

8. Teachers, especially elementary school teachers, really do care about their students. A lot.

7. Melatonin is a sleep aid and should only be taken at night. (I'm in trouble for that one)

6. Mission trip roommates can become great friends (Does that make up for #7?)

5. Bring extra toothbrushes and an assortment of medications

4. The rule for travelling in Honduras is "There's always room for one more."

3. Children listen better when they know you have candy

2. If you think your not the kind of person who should go on a mission trip, you're probably wrong

1. No matter how much you try to be a witness to those children, they will be the ones who end up teaching you something.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

That's What (Really) Makes You Beautiful

     Today is pretty much the fourth day of my weekend because of snow days, and the cabin fever is starting to set in. On a positive note, I have had lots of extra time to think of more topics to blog about. I must admit I feel silly constantly posting my novice opinions and thoughts as if I know what I'm talking about, but I appreciate all of you who take the time to read them. I am really enjoying blogging.
     Today's topic came simply from glancing at myself in a mirror. Now I know that sounds terribly vain, but hear me out. You see when I was in high school, although I didn't realize it at the time, I was obsessed with being pretty. I constantly scrutinized myself, trying to figure out why my friends selfies got more likes than mine, and why no one ever seemed to call me beautiful or pretty. When someone would happen to comment on my appearance, they would usually call me cute, which I felt was better when discussing babies or puppies than a young woman. I did not feel pretty, and I spent way to much time acknowledging that fact.
     When I looked in the mirror the other day, I realized I haven't thought about whether or not I'm pretty in a long time, and I think I know why. Part of it is because I'm just to busy. Now that I have added responsibilities like making my own meals and doing my own grocery shopping, not to mention studying and doing homework for five college classes, there is less time to devote to trying to look good.
      I guess the other reason is I'm just starting to grow out of the constant desire to look pretty. Sure, I like to put together cute outfits on those rare occasions when I am not to tired from a late night of studying or socializing to think coherently in the morning, but it no longer consumes a large part of my thinking throughout the day. Plus, I had the experience of meeting those wonderful girls in Honduras who were beautiful for so much more than their appearance and taught me to love myself for more than my looks. (See, I really can work a Honduras story into any topic!) I understand now that there really are more important things than being pretty, and although I still have my moments, I have come a long way in accepting who I am.
     I have always loved this verse that I posted ( 1 Peter 3:3-4), but now I am starting to be able to really believe it and apply it to myself, and that is a beautiful feeling.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

5 Star Childhood

     Now that I am living away from home for the first time, I have started to see my childhood in a different way. It's no longer something i'm living in, it is now something that is in the past. Through all of this reflecting, one thing has really stood out, and that is how unbelievably stable the first 18 years of my life were. If I could do one of those product reviews you see on Amazon about my childhood, I would give it 5 stars.
     When I was born, the fact that I had a disability was a complete surprise. My parents had no indication that their second baby would be any different from the first, so I'm sure the whole thing was quite a shock.  Because of the fact that everyone in small towns feels the need to know what's happening in everyone else's life, there was a lot of extra drama surrounding my birth. People would call with the pretense of concern, which i'm sure was part of the reason, and then ask questions about me that were really personal and not information that my parents wanted to share at the time.  I have been told that my birth was the reason for them buying their first answering machine. My parents did not let this change in their lives become an excuse for giving up. They figured out how to provide me with the best possible life in the most effective way. I am so grateful for that. When I was in high school , I remember at some point learning that babies can be tested for the disability I have before they are born. I came home from school and asked my mom why she didn't get that test, and her answer is possibly the greatest thing anyone has ever told me. She said, "It didn't matter, because I knew I wanted you either way." Now if that doesn't get you all choked up, nothing will.
    Now that I'm older and have met new people who come from all different backgrounds, I realize how rare it is these days to have a mother and father who stayed together throughout my entire childhood. I always knew that Daddy and Mama loved each other, and didn't really need to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Though things weren't perfect, I learned that they are not quitters. They are persistent and they work through things instead of jumping ship. I now understand how rare that is and how important it was in making me who I am today.
     One of my favorite memories from childhood is getting home from school, doing my homework, and then waiting for my dad to get home from work. Sometimes I would even sit by the window with my dog and wait to see his car pull into the driveway. Mama would be in the kitchen making supper and I would announce "Daddy's home" and the dog would bark and run to the door to greet him. It seemed like such a typical thing at the time, I just assumed everyone's Daddy came home every night. Now I know that's not true, and I realize how important a stable father is in a girl's life.
     So what's my point in writing all of this down? I guess it's because I feel like many people's testimonies are about how they survived a turbulent childhood, and I have never been able to relate to that. So I guess I needed to figure out a way to build a testimony from a stable childhood, and what I came up with is this.
I know what love looks like, because I have always been loved. Because of this, I have a bigger responsibility to show love to others. I can't be unloving towards people and blame it on the fact that I was not loved, because I was, God has shown me what love is, and now it's up to me to be an example of that love to everyone I meet.