Surrender

Oh the ever illusive blog post.

Yes.  I think this is how I shall start this compilation of thoughts.  And here’s why: I’ve attempted to write this multiple times (*cough* six or eight *cough*).  Yet, somehow, it never felt right.  I wanted to give the best possible picture of my first few weeks at college, my parent’s divorce, what God’s been doing through it all.  I had this idea in my head of the beautifully worded and polished piece detailing my escapades and bringing glory to God.

Hah.

The thing about trying to bring glory to God is that being fake humble NEVER works.  And every time I started writing, the words just felt…hollow.

So here it is.  The experiences that I’ve had and am sharing with you.  Raw, painful, funny, amazing, inspiring and difficult experiences.  It will probably take multiple posts before you hear them all.  If you choose to read through all those posts I give you props for endurance.  And if you glean anything from this modge podge of thoughts, we CANNOT say it was by my doing.

We begin:

And there is no better place to begin than at the beginning.  As I watched my mom and two of my sisters drive away it was surreal.  I walked back to my room, chatted with my roommate, and unpacked a few more things.  (I will say that my mom would have unpacked and organized everything if I’d asked/let her.)  I wish I could say that I instantly broke down in tears and sobbed out the agony of being alone.  But all I felt was…

…numb.

The first week of school was a wake up call.  Hanging out on campus and getting used to things for a few days before class starts is almost a worse idea then being thrown straight into it!  Eight fifty on Monday morning (yes, the morning), and my first class was ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY LECTURE.  Don’t get me wrong, I love AnP.  But being thrown into it the very first day as my very first class?

Needless to say I was quite trepidatious.

My dorm, though technically “residence housing” is actually four miles off the main campus.  This means that I have to get up extra early every morning to be sure that I catch the bus on time to get to my class.  Unsure of how the bus system would work during the school week, I was a bit overzealous in my timing.

Arrived at my biology class forty-five minutes early, and proceeded to sit in the hall and worry some more.

You know that feeling when you are totally freaked out by something, but also really want to turn it over to God?  The inner war of butterflies on steroids.

I cannot say that my prayer that morning was particularly deep or insightful (or even fully coherent).  But it was genuine and heartfelt.  Something to the effect of “God please get me through this.”

Walked into my classroom that will seat several hundred students, and chose a seat near the front.  The professor standing by the lectern talking with students was a shorter, portly, balding white man.  He looked nerdy and kind of quiet, but sweet (hey, I like nerds).  Internal thought, Okay.  I can do this.  Ten minutes before class starts the man turns to all of us gathered already, says “Have a nice class!” and walks out.

Momentary panic.

At that moment my professor (the one actually teaching the class) strides in.  A huge black man with a powerful build and deep, resonating voice. (I found out afterwards that he is a native of Nigeria who mostly works in medical missions!!)  He started class with a powerful devotion from Ephesians 5:15-16.

Live purposefully, resting in God’s will for your life.  

Wow.

Then the incredible prayer followed by delving into the wonders of God’s creation – the human body.  I swear I came out of that class glowing.

The swell of that experience carried me through until Wednesday.  Then things went…interestingly.  In anatomy lecture (which I have Mon, Wed, Fri) we covered around seventy regional and directional terms that we would have to memorize and have a quiz on THAT NIGHT.  Having woken up that morning feeling unwell and exhausted, I wasn’t doing too great.  But determined to stick it out, I studied like crazy for the quiz until my next class.  Music in, slides and flashcards going, I thought everything was going pretty well.

Until I found out that I’d studied right through my bible class.  As in, missed it completely.  No excuse, no nothing.

Talk about rattled.

Remember those buses I get to ride every morning?  Early Thursday as I attempted to catch a bus to my chemistry class, three buses came by, filled up, and moved on.  Without me.  Getting to chemistry ten minutes late wasn’t a huge deal.  But after entirely missing a class the day before I was…distraught…to say the least.

The remainder of the week went well.  No problems.  Got to all my classes okay.  Only looked like a total freshman a few times.  Success in many books.

But I couldn’t enjoy it with the weight of the missed and then late classes hanging over me.

If you don’t know me, I am a planner.  I have a schedule, I know exactly how many minutes it takes me to get ready and do a devotion (40), and how quickly I can eat a meal (I’ve done it in 6 minutes).  I plan ahead, plan for things to go wrong.  But I don’t show up unprepared, and I don’t disappoint if at all possible.

So here I am, in the FIRST week of school – already that student. 

It was when I tried to write about all of these experiences in that polished and well phrased blog (version number one) that I totally broke.  Just snapped.

That was when I laid in my bed and sobbed gut-wrenching sobs that cut to the very core of my being.

Stripped of my support system.

Unsure of my ability to perform.

Afraid of failure.

Crying out to God in wordless pain.  He brought me here, so clearly.  I’d just recently heard that of the twenty thousand students that applied to this school, only TWENTY PERCENT were accepted.

But why would He bring me here, only to have me struggle?  If His plan was for me to succeed, why was I doing so poorly?

The thing about pouring yourself out to God, utterly broken, is that you are completely open to Him.  Desperate for any wisdom or comfort.  And in that place, it was as if a light bulb finally went off in my brain.

Just because God brought me here doesn’t mean that I’m here to succeed.  All I know is that I am here to glorify Him no matter what.

It was there, with that realization, that my prayer changed.  Not, “God help me do well so I can praise you.”

God, here I am.  Unable to bring anything to the table but the shattered mess of my life.  If you want me to succeed and go on to be a Certified Nurse Midwife on the mission field I will sing your praises and tell everyone who pulled it off.  But if you require of me to flunk out of all my classes, return home in humiliation, and flip burgers at cheap fast food restaurants until I’m forty, then your will be done.

Seems simple.  And you’d think that release would be easy for me by now.  In a way, it has become easier than it used to be.  But giving up EVERYTHING – dreams, expectations, plans – everything.  Even the plan that I’ve made from what God’s given me.  What He gave me was a dream to serve, and the gift of education.  Who’s to say that the steps in between will be my idea of what should happen?

That was when everything changed.  I am still studying hard (up to 50 hours a week on top of 17 credit hours is my goal).  And I want to do my best.  But succeed or fail in the eyes of the world, as long as I’m inside of God’s will nothing can go wrong.  

This is the beauty and assurance that I have.  This is what gives me strength every day.  This is how I can surrender my life and know with confidence that everything truly will work out.  Not luck.  Not chance.  Not by works.

Faith.

Sure I’m taking biology, chemistry, psychology and nursing courses.  My declared field of study is nursing.

But my main ‘course’, the degree I am truly earning is “How Much Do You Really Trust God, and Are You Going to Surrender Everything to Prove It.”  Week by week.  Day by day.  Class by class.  Minute by minute.

I am being stretched and strengthened for I don’t know what.  It hurts and it’s hard and I don’t know if I can survive.  Fortunately,

WHERE I AM WEAK, GOD IS STRONG THROUGH ME.

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Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Spring is in the air!! Flowers, rain, the birds, the bees, all that jazz. On days like this it makes you feel new, fresh, clean! A song that came to my mind thinking about it is this (If you don’t know it, watch it!  If you know it, WATCH IT!):

Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows

CATCHY! Come away from watching that and it’s going to be stuck in your head. If it’s not, we’re doubting the existence of your brain.

Yet, on days like this, there is something that continues to come to mind. Coming out of winter should mean a renewed vigor for life and love. So why do so many of us struggle with irrepressible depression?

I know. I said it. The ‘D’ word. In a world where ADHD, mono, AIDS and cancer are openly discussed, there is one disease that is the shame of our society. The one sickness that nobody wants to talk about. Depression.

The hardest part about depression is that it’s not an ailment of the body – it’s a sickness of the mind. Most people who struggle with depression are perfectly fine physically. But their mind, their psyche, their spirit, the very essence of their being is ill. And nobody wants to talk about it.

So I will.

Believe me, this is not a judgy “how dare you be depressed” kind of discussion. I understand these people I’m talking about, because I have struggled with severe depression for several years.

I don’t know that I’ve ever really talked to anyone about it. I understand the shame that comes along with it. What will people think of me? How can they understand what it’s like? Won’t everyone see me as a horrible person for feeling this way?

Depression is a prison more than any cell ever could be. Your body can be broken. But as long as your mind remains intact you are free! So when the very thought of living makes you want to cry, there is nothing left.

I would lay in bed and not even have the strength to pretend to care. Things needed done! There was life to be lived, people to meet, school to finish, pets to feed, family to be with. Yet my only thought was….nothing. There was nothing left in the horrifically empty existence of me.

I had no one to turn to, to tell how I felt. No boyfriend. No really close friends. I’ve gotten out of touch with my best friends since moving, and haven’t made any solid ones here. I have friends – the kind you go to the movies with, or laugh over stupid jokes. But not the kind you can sit down and pour your heart and soul out to.

Lost. Broken. Alone. Hovering in the pathetic no-mans-land of existing physically, but being (in essence) dead.

Is there hope once you have become entangled in this so-called life? Is there a way to pull out of the lethargy and stupor? Is there passion to be found?

In truth, depression is the biggest lie of all. A way of thinking, of feeling, that promotes self degradation and hatred. Saying that we aren’t worth anything, that nobody loves us.

Having these thoughts and feelings isn’t the problem! It’s what we do with them. Do we allow these ideas to consume us? Do we promote them, encourage them, allow them to fester and feed off our discontent? Dwelling on these thoughts creates a monster of oxymoronic proportions.

This is a world where the victim believes they are worth nothing, yet spends all their time focused on self. Not a wholesome focus, but attention nonetheless.

There are ‘cures’ for depression in this age of modern convenience and medicine. But is the answer to our problem really a pill that makes many people suicidal?? How is that the fix for depression?

What if – and just bear with me here a second – what if we stopped paying tribute to our thoughts of depression and suicide? What if we recognized our tendencies towards self, and began to focus on others? Serving people in more need than ourselves, volunteering in every way possible. Giving ourselves over, but not to death. Over to the pursuit of helping others find hope and life.

What if we broke out of the lie that says we’re alone? That says we’re unloved? What if we just talked to someone – confessed our deepest shame. What if we ignored the impulse to isolate ourselves, to give up, to pull away. Isn’t this prison really of our own making? So let’s be the ones to tear it down!  Find someone, anyone, and talk to them!  Commit to talking to them even, no, especially when you are depressed.  If you don’t have a friend or family member who is there for you now, then go out and find one!  Be the one to end the vicious cycle of loathing, and re-enter a world of living.

I went to my mom recently and told her about the depression that was weighing me down. Stress over the ACT, college applications, work, school, relationships, life in general! The first thing she offered to do was pray with me.  And after that prayer I was filled with a renewed hope, a renewed vigor and passion for life.

I am a Christian and have found my salvation in Christ since I was four years old, but this does not make me impervious to the tendencies of my Flesh!! The only question is – will I be mastered by my Flesh? Or will I take control over it?

The scripture I always turn to, and that brings me the most hope, is Psalm 13.

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

for He has been good to me.

We are alive.  And we are here for a purpose.  Will we be beaten down?  Or will we rise up in the strength God has offered us so freely?

Me

Who am I?

The soul-searching question that many ask themselves and few are able to answer.  Scientifically we know that our past actions and surroundings play a part in who we are at present, and our actions now change our future.  We are genetically set up from birth to look a certain way, to have a distinct personality, to become a specific person.

But how can we sum up in just a few words the complexity of human nature?  Is there one word that is capable of capturing past, present, future, mistakes and failures, hopes and dreams?

I WAS so young and unsoiled.  I loved nothing more than to enter the magical lands of my books or to create worlds of my own.  I believed in fairies and truly thought Peter Pan would come for me one day.  The world was good.  Life was beautiful.

But through years of sickness and hardship I became hardened and afraid.  An insatiable depression swallowed me alive, burying my hopes and dreams in its inky despair.  I would lay in bed and not even have the energy to cry.  I didn’t dream anymore – my daytime imaginations had dried up and turned sour, and the only dreams I’d have at night were nightmares.

Only by the power of Christ did I come out from under that weight of Darkness.  His Grace poured over me, cool and sweet, soothing the crack and sores of y spirit.  He lifted me out of sickness and despair and set me in a safe place.  Trials of life still reach me, and sometimes drag me down.  But I face them stronger and wiser than before.  On days I fall back into the trap of hopelessness, I know there is a way out, a place of Salvation.  I AM alive!

So it is there, in Him (my Savior) that my hope for the future rests.  One day I would like to have a husband to call on and children of my own.  I would love to publish my writings (nonsensical scribbles though they may be).  I want to go into ministry and pour into the lives of others.  But all of that comes after and through One Person – MY HOPE – Jesus.

We move, we change, we love, we hurt, we stumble our way through life trying the best we know how.  Each one of us is so different, strange and complex.  But we share one thing, the one word that encompasses our lives, troubles, mistakes, hopes and dreams – who we were, are, hope to be.

We are HUMAN.

Above is a writing assignment I completed a few weeks ago, and I was fairly pleased with the way it turned out.  We were supposed to analyze ourselves – who we were, are, and hope to be.  I tell the story, vague as it is, of my life.  I became a Christ follower when I was very young, but only just a few years ago did I learn to love and rely on that Christ as my best friend.  This is my story.  This is me.

And this is the story of all of us.  We are human.  Human nature is not a bad thing, no.  We are created by a Great and Powerful God in His image, just the way He’d have us.  It is our SIN nature that drags us down and causes us to be less than He intended.  Yet we find REDEMPTION from all in the pure and beautiful Savior – Jesus Christ.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

A quick note…

For some time now I have been using a pseudonym on any public profile I had.  Partly to remain anonymous, partly inspired by Mark Twain, and partly just because I’m weird.

But now I feel God calling me to step out of  the shadows.  There is no courage in saying hard things if you are hidden behind an avatar!  So the name is changed to mine.  And I think I’m okay with that.

On another note – IT’S OFFICIALLY FEBRUARY!!  And (as sad as it is) I have FINALLY mailed my best friend her Birthday/Christmas present (her birthday is in October…Christmas is December…yeah….).  Okay, so, being on time isn’t exactly my thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love deadlines!  I love the sound they make as they go whooshing overhead.  But the gift is finished and mailed!

Well…that’s about it.  Real exciting, right?  But it’s life.  Take it as it comes, boring or otherwise.

Until later,

Savannah

THE GREATEST NEWS ON EARTH!

Okay, guess what? 

I just got the GREATEST NEWS ON EARTH! 

I mean seriously, this is awesome.

Are you ready for it?

I JUST WON THE LOTTERY FOR 6.2 MILLION DOLLORS!!!!!!

 

First thing I’m doing – buying my mom a diamond necklace.  Like, a HUGE one.

 

Next, I’m getting ALL my siblings their own laptops.

 

After that, I’m renting out Disney Land for a whole week, and you ARE ALL INVITED TO COME AND JOIN ME THERE!!!

 

TELL YOUR FRIENDS!  HAVE THEM TELL THEIR FRIENDS!

 

THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER!!!!!!!

 

Okay, so I didn’t really win the lottery.  But wouldn’t it be cool if I did?  I would be telling EVERYONE I know.  And they would be telling everyone THEY know.  Because, like, wouldn’t that be the coolest thing ever?

So, while I’m at it, let me give you another scenario.  You walk into your house and find your boyfriend kissing your arch nemesis.  Talk about the biggest cheat in the world!  You’re so angry, that without thinking, you grab the butcher knife sitting on the counter and stab them both! 

Of course the police find you hiding out at your mom’s house and haul you off to jail.  Found guilty of two counts of murder in the first degree, you have been given a death sentence, with only one day left to live. 

Sitting in your jail cell all alone, one of the guards comes and tells you that you have a visitor.  This guy comes in, and as soon as you see him, you want to tell him EVERYTHING that you’ve EVER done wrong.  You want to tell him how sorry you are that you killed those two people, because he looks like the kind of guy that could forgive you for anything.  But you’re still going to die.  There’s nothing he can do about that.

Then he comes and sits next to you and says “You know, I’m going to take your place and die for what you did.  All you have to do is say that you’ll let me.”

WHAT IN THE WORLD??????  DID THIS DUDE JUST SAY THAT HE WOULD DIE FOR YOU???  YOU WOULD BE CRAZY TO TURN DOWN AN OFFER LIKE THAT!!!!!!!

Thing is, this isn’t just a fun story.  We’ve ALL done HORRIBLE things, but One Person DIED, to take our places, and if we’d just accept that gift, we’d get to live FOREVER in the most AWESOME place anyone could EVER imagine (like Disney World, but BETTER!). 

 

SO WHY AREN’T WE TELLING EVERYONE WE KNOW ABOUT THIS?????  WHY AREN’T WE SCREAMING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

 

I WON THE LOTTERY BUT BETTER!!!!!!

 

JESUS CHRIST LAID DOWN HIS LIFE SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO BE ON DEATH ROW!  I CAN GO AND LIVE FOREVER IN A PLACE SO AWESOME, WE CAN’T EVEN START TO DREAM OF WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE!

 

And yet we who have already heard this great news and have accepted it as our own aren’t sharing it.  Heck, we’re not even sharing it with our FRIENDS AND FAMILY!  We should be telling EVERYONE we see on the streets!  Did you hear the great news?!?!?!?  JESUS DIED SO WE DON’T HAVE TO!  ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ACCEPT THAT HE DIED AND THAT GOD BROUGHT HIM BACK TO LIFE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO HEAVEN! 

 

So why aren’t we screaming this from the mountain tops?  Are we afraid?  Scared of being judged?  Scared of offending people?  THEY’RE ALREADY GOING TO HELL!!!  What are we going to do?  Offend them into second hell???

Are people going to be angry at me for writing this?  YES!  Will people say nasty and hurtful things about me?  Probably.  I mean, I’m being so politically incorrect.  I said that people are going to hell!  I wouldn’t be surprised if my comments fill with horrible things about me (and my mom). 

But you know what?  I DON’T CARE.  I DON’T CARE!!

 

 

You can say whatever you want about me.  YOU CAN EVEN THROW ME IN PRISON AND TORTURE OR KILL ME!  Because there would be no greater honor than to die for my Lord, the Risen Jesus Christ.  And I know that whatever happens as a result of me obeying the greatest command ever given, HE will be there with me through it all. 

 

And if the Holy Spirit ever causes you to come into the Family because of something I said or did, then, well, I guess I’ll see you in Heaven.

LORD JESUS, TAKE THIS MESSAGE, TAKE MY HEART, TAKE MY LIFE.  DO WHATEVER YOU WILL WITH THEM.  FOR I AM YOURS AND YOURS ALONE. 

So.

Have you heard the great news?

Merry CHRISTmas

Having just come through the holiday season I have a few bumps and bruises, but am no worse for the wear. 

Yes, I am sick of those wintry jingles that seem to play every few minutes on the radio. 

Jingle Bell Rock?  How about we smash the stereo with a rock! 

Holly Jolly Christmas?  It’s the best time of the year you know.  Best time of the year to get earplugs. 

But you know, listening to these songs that in the end all started sounding alike, started me to thinking (a dangerous pastime). 

Tune in to any station, and you will hear a plethora of tinny jangling songs.  Even the “Christian” stations will play these ho-ho-hos and ding-dang-dongs. 

So why is it this one time of year, the one time that we are supposed to be most focused on a baby that was born 2000 years ago, that we turn to secular traditions and tunes? 

I really had to laugh at K-Love last week.  The cheery announcer lady said “Remember the Reason for the season” and then promptly played Here Comes Santa Clause.  Which brings me to my second point.

If we, the people who worship the One God of the universe and thank Him for sending His Son here to save us, can’t focus on that for more than a few minutes at a time, what hope does everyone else have? 

To tell you the truth, if I wasn’t a believer, I would be terrified of this holiday season.  It’s supposed to be the most magical time of all.  But say all you have to look forward to is lots of cooking, lots of shopping, lots of wrapping, movies and songs that feature talking slush piles and flying moose with glowing faces, adults drinking too much alcohol, kids eating too much candy, and family that you don’t really like being around you all the time.  What in the world is magical about that?

On the other hand you have a young girl, despised by her family and friends, traveling hundreds of miles while in the third trimester, giving birth to a baby in a dirty stable with animals all around.  Trying to care for an infant with no place to stay and people constantly after you.  There’s not much glory in this either, if you think of it that way.

But then you have to think of how brave this young girl was.  She could have been STONED TO DEATH for getting pregnant out of wedlock.  And her betrothed?  Talk about a brave man.  To stay with the girl who is carrying a child that isn’t yours.  And the shepherds.  They were the most despised people in the land, and yet they were the first to see the very special new baby.  And the baby!  How many births are accompanied with the singing of all the angels in heaven?

Then that baby grew into a boy, and that boy into a man.  And that man lived a perfect and blameless life, then chose to die a horribly painful death to pay for all the sins of all the people who would ever live.  But he didn’t stay dead.  Oh no.  He came BACK to LIFE, and is now waiting for the right day and the right time to return and claim all those that have accepted His Gift of Free and Eternal Life. 

And THAT is why we celebrate this time of the year, and why we should celebrate EVERY day of the year.  Because of a special Man that made a special sacrifice.  All because His Father sent Him to be born in the most humble of places. 

The speck of dirt called planet Earth.

Merry CHRISTmas to all,

Fairlight Maiden

/sīˈkädik/

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