just do it

I was talking to someone the other day who felt like she was stuck in a spot. She shared how she has longed to move on & be the foster mom she’s always wanted to be, but feels like she has issues to work through first. Issues that have been in place for years, but haven’t been resolved because of work and negligence of counseling. I asked her if she felt like these problems had to be fixed right now in order for her to achieve motherhood, and she said she doesn’t know if it’s really holding her up, or if it’s just an excuse.

We think that because we are not as loving as we could be, as selfless as we could be, as adventurous as we could be, that we can’t do great things right now. We are perfectionists, and want to show up in tip-top shape, looking our best, but God does the coolest things when we are the most out of shape. He wants to meet us right where we are, in the grit and rubble of our lives, and show us how He can take something that is broken, and remake it into something that is beautiful. You don’t need to be all fixed up and wrapped with big red bow to be useful. Sometimes, we have to be really screwed up in order to recognize our need. I think that is incredible.

I struggle with this a lot. There are some goals I want to achieve that I won’t say out loud because I don’t want to fully commit, or I’m scared it won’t come to fruition. There are so many opportunities that I turn down or run away from because I don’t think I’m a good enough person to go for them. I think there’s a lot of work to be done and I never think that I’m ready to take on certain tasks that come my way. But having these weaknesses and doubts are a chance to see what grace is all about. Some of the greatest growth and blessings come through not knowing what the hell you’re getting yourself into. Not being ready. Being broken.

Embrace the fact that you may not be your best self. You think you’re unlikely; well you’re not. God has used some of the most amateur, unlikely people to take on his most marvelous deeds.

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thankful.

for the simplicity life can offer.

for a quiet night in where I can learn how to knit.

for the opportunity to start a new show on Netflix.

for being able to go out for a drink with my friends.

for a car and a parking spot that’s not far.

for the fact I can sit in my room in peace.

for not having to fear being displaced from my home.

for not being in an area where war is happening.

for not having to worry about my next meal.

for making it through the semester without giving up.

for getting paid extra by doing very little.

for a mom who helps me out when I’m struggling financially.

I know how to be positive. I try to take the time and appreciate the small things in my life. I love celebrating little triumphs, even if it’s finding $5 or completing something on my to-do list. When life is good, I’m good. But there are those seasons when life isn’t so good. In tough circumstances, I am neglectful, reclusive, and negative. I give up so easily, I don’t ask for help, and I get pretty ticked at God for not doing what I asked or wanted.

There are always going to be bad times where smiling, laughing, and rejoicing won’t feel right. Life is not catered to us. It’s important to smile now, laugh now, rejoice now, in the joys and simplicity of life. Take a moment and be thankful for the good things around you, in whatever situation you’re in. I’m working on it too.

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I talked on the phone with a friend about my life and she asked how she could be praying for me. I spent 2 hours in my friend’s room talking about our initial thoughts of each other and our hopes for next year. I spent my much anticipated and planned nap time catching up with an old friend from Young Life. I got sangria with a friend I haven’t hung out with since summer, and got to listen to her journey through some struggles. I’m going to church tomorrow (holla) and with friends I haven’t spent time with since last semester.

I’m not the best at keeping in touch with people. It’s a lot of work, having friends, and actually being good at it. It takes time, energy, trust, but even with my current friends I can suck at spending time with people. Quality time is not my strongest love language. I’m very time conscious and sometimes have a hard time (lol punny) not constantly looking at my watch. If the conversation is not stimulating, and we are still talking about the weather or the Kardashians or someone’s outfit from last night, I’m out. I do love people, but I love time spent with them to be fruitful and beneficial.

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But this past week, I’ve said yes to spending time and investing a little more with people. Talking on the phone isn’t my favorite form of communication, but I was shown a lot of love and care through that conversation. I don’t really like staying up too late, but I feel even closer to the person than before that. I somehow always convince myself that catching up on sleep is more important than life, but I reconnected with someone I missed a lot. I got to be that person my friend might’ve needed during that time.

I’m a super introspective, and I’m quite content with doing things by myself. I often prefer it. There are days where I just want to curl up in my bed, eat sunchips, and binge watch Parks and Rec (everyday). Those moments are precious, however the companionship of others has really showed me.

I’m not entirely sure where I was going with this blog post. But I just wanted to say I’m thankful for the people in my life and I’m trying to spend as much time with these gems.

i’m a strong, independent woman who don’t need no…

I’m kinda over relationships. Surprised?

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I’m the one who has an excessive amount of pictures on her Pinterest wedding board. I’m the one who opens her laptop and clicks on the links to the latest Hollywood relationships. I’m the one who spends minutes turned to hours on YouTube watching cute couple’s video blogs. I’m the one who has their head in the clouds when thinking about the idea of being in a relationship. But I’m over it. I’m done talking about my ideal guy and my dream relationship. I tired of hearing “I’m going to find you someone” or “when are you going to get a boyfriend” or “you should go out more”. I don’t want to be nudged every time an attractive guy walks my way. I’m tired of reading relationship articles and seeing stupid headlines like “How to Make Him Like You” or “5 Things to Look for in a Perfect Guy”.

This isn’t a bitter post about how guys suck and chivalry is dead. I don’t want to this to convey that I hate relationships and that I envy the people who are in them. Healthy, fruitful relationships are awesome — I actually really love love and seeing it blossom (except for PDA, don’t do that). And guys are cool human beings. They make great friends, comedians, and role models. In this season of life, I’m lucky to have some really great men around me. But the love God has for me? Incomparable.

Something that was really convicting for me was a Matt Chandler sermon on women’s purpose. Although most of it was directed towards women’s roles in marriages, he talked a bit about a woman’s role as a single lady. He said “don’t sit around waiting for someone to cuddle with or watch a movie with when the God of the UNIVERSE is inviting you to dance with him.”

And that’s what I’ve been wrestling with. The fact that I can easily spend minutes and hours of my day dreaming up my next date or my future life with some rando, when God is literally offering me life. The low self-esteem, self-doubt, and thoughts of hopelessness creep up on me every now and then, reminding me that I’m the lonely, unattractive one in the friend group. Memories come back of me being called a prude in high school, trying to become relevant again. The pressure of being in a relationship only heightens when I see my friends on Facebook announce their engagements or new relationships, pushing me to think I need to step my game up and get out there. All of these things are lies. And that may be obvious, but I have to tell myself this, every single day. That yes, I may have never been with someone, but my Creator would move mountains to be with me. I may be alone, but God hasn’t given me a spirit of loneliness. He shows His love in the sun that warms my skin. He shows it in the waves I get swept up in at the beach. He shows it in the stillness of the woods. He shows it in the peace of watching the sunrise, in the serenity of reading a good book, in the midst of a deep conversation, in the sensation of a home-cooked meal. It’s in the risks I take and in the challenges that I accept, whether it may be traveling, accepting a new position, or showing my vulnerability. And even though these things are tangible, God is behind it all. And He’s the ultimate gift, the ultimate joy. He’s just greater.

That felt super cheesy, but it’s real and I’m holding fast to it.

what Gossip Girl taught me

Now, I know you may be reading this title thinking what on earth did you learn from Gossip Girl? If you are not familiar with the television series, it is centered on teenagers living it up in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where there’s masquerade balls, endless dinner martinis, and the most scandalous hookups. Shallow, but entertaining to say the least.

However, today’s episode (and by today’s episode I mean one of the several I’ve binge watched today) taught me a good chunk about life. It was an episode set on Thanksgiving Day, and focused on the drama happening within the show’s main families, with short flashbacks to each family’s Thanksgiving experience the year prior. A year ago, the relationship of Blair Waldorf’s parents seemed to be just fine. Nate’s father was in good standing with his career, moving up in his position. Serena’s mom had gotten over her past love, living a single life, and Dan’s dad was content in his marriage. Fast forward 1 year later and Blair’s father left his wife for a European man, Dan’s dad cheated on his wife with Serena’s mother, and Nate’s father was arrested for embezzlement, became addicted to prescription drugs, and attempted suicide. Obviously, these events were put in the plot for theatrical affect, but they are unfortunate situations people do get themselves into. And these characters were adults — like grown mothers and fathers who seem like they have mastered the game of life.

The teenagers showed a lot of resentment towards their parents. They were upset about not knowing, disappointed in their role models, and simply shameful of the things their parents had done to affect their families. But at the end of the episode, each parent in some way became vulnerable, admitting their fears and failures to themselves and to their kids. And the kids loved them regardless; showing them that they were important and adored.

We have to love them regardless. We have to give them grace. It reminded me of that awestruck feeling we all had when we were like 10, that our parents were these earthly grownup gods who were perfect and all-knowing. But they’re human, and that’s actually impossible. Just because they got married and had kids doesn’t mean their life is together and neatly wrapped in a bow. They are no longer kids, but they make mistakes, they have low self-esteem, their relationships are not easy, and they have insecurities. They know how to show confidence and assurance, when in reality there may be feelings of uncertainty and worry. And we have to love them regardless. We have to understand that they are still growing, developing, and learning in this life just as we are. We shouldn’t expect them to be perfect, because they’re not.

Another Gossip Girl lesson I picked up on was how much can actually change in one year. With my birthday coming up in 2 weeks, I’ve realized this year has been one of my favorites; filled with self discovery, blossoming friendships, and endless challenges. Every year, I underestimate how different things are. I think about my past a lot, but it’s usually just blended together with the rest of my past. I don’t often look at my life as certain periods and seasons put together. I see the bigger, vaguer picture. A sweet friend of mine has inspired me to write down all the important things that happened to me in my 21st year; good and bad, successful and unsuccessful, awesome and crazy. I hope to be observant and grateful of changes, expected and unexpected, because life would be bland without them.

I encourage anyone to just take a moment every now and then to think about where you are in your season of life, and why that is. And don’t forget to give the people around you grace when they screw up. They are still figuring out this whole life thing, too.

MattyRo

A former resident of mine, a boy I was entrusted to care for, support, and guide; a kid with enough sass and love to spread to everyone he encountered, a popular and distinctive personality among our residence halls and university, passed away sustaining injuries from a freak bicycle accident. Five long, grueling months, he spent in a coma on a ventilator, fighting for his life. Enduring multiple surgeries, losing nearly all his weight, and always having no less than 5 tubes in his body, he was later moved to hospice. Each day his loving mother, sister, aunt, and others surrounded him with hope and love. With flowers, notes, and balloons nearly occupying all the space that was left in his room, he was really loved, every single day, deeply and widely. And exactly 5 months later, his time was called to an end.

I hate being cliché, but it’s not fair. It’s not fair that such a sweet soul was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and endured all that pain. It’s not fair that his sister has lost her little brother. It’s not fair that his best friends are missing a piece of their team. It’s not fair that he was only 19 and his parents have to bury him.

My heart really hurts, partly because he was one of the few residents I had who, from the very beginning, treated me like a friend rather than just a random person on his college floor. Let alone, as the bossy authority figure some people think RAs are. But, death just straight up sucks. My heart hurts for his family and his friends who had to lose something so special to them. I can only imagine what they are going through. I couldn’t bring myself to attend his funeral today; crying is exhausting, and I’m about out of tears. But time and time again, when I’m reminded how of cruel and unjust life is, I’m also reminded of the little joys that you can find. This morning, I got to act out the famous Shakespeare play “Hamlet” in class with strangers, and it was hilarious. I got lattes with my friend/bible study leader, and having someone so intentionally ask me questions and actually listen felt good. I got to see one of my best friends achieve one of her biggest accomplishments, alongside her family and closest friends. I received the sweetest hugs today from some of my favorite co-workers. Even the warm smiles sent my way have meant a lot. And the sun today is shining so brightly, feeling it on my skin is reminding me of my time in Ghana and bringing me bliss.

No, I’m not particularly happy with the card my resident was dealt. I’m not exactly in a chipper, optimistic mood. But I can find joy, which to me isn’t an emotion; it’s something that’s always there. It’s weaved within the fibers of all of us, if you choose it to be. It’s a gift that does not leave us in times of oppression, persecution, or illness, and it doesn’t separate happy from sad, or success from failure.

One of my favorite quotes from author Walter Wangerin Jr. is this: “The difference between shallow happiness and a deep, sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can’t stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope–and the hope that has become our joy does not disappoint us.”

Don’t go looking for happiness, and don’t fake it either. It’s circumstantial and it’s not enough. Choose joy, and choose it every single day.

R.I.P. Matt Rosin

sunrise

time’s up

As I sit here and reflect on  my journey here in Ghana, I am astounded by the roller coaster my emotions have taken me on. Only 3 weeks ago I was crying because there were ants in my clothes and dirty toilets with cockroaches. And here I am crying again, except not about the conditions, but about the fact that my roommates from Germany are leaving, and I will soon have to say goodbye to everyone too. Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than to return to America. I miss wearing scarves and boots, watching Gossip Girl with my sister, dabbing to every rap song, and eating way too much chicken Parmesan pizza. But in Ghana, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing meals, engaging in discussion, and exploring the Brong Ahafo region with a some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. I didn’t think I’d become attached at all, but beyond the language barriers and cultural differences, I grew to love the natives and the visitors here.

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I definitely won’t miss the nauseating car rides, never having hand soap, or not having electricity every few hours. I won’t miss the aggressive flies, the intrusive mosquitoes, or the lizards that frequented. I won’t miss being stared at because of the way I wear my hair, or being called a “bruny” because I’m from America. I’m not particularly sad about not seeing C-sections and hysterectomies everyday, and I won’t miss peeing into a hole in the ground and getting it all over my feet. Nor will I miss the impatience of taxi drivers, causing them to casually drive in the opposite lane (this literally happened every day, I almost lost my life 21 times).
What I will miss, and am already missing, is the laughter of my Aunt Judith whose sandals got swept up by the ocean. I’ll miss intentionally being asked questions about education and racism in America, and being told of history in Europe. I will miss asking Peter our cook to toast one more slice of bread, and then wondering why he disappeared, only to realize he biked all the way to the market for more bread. I will miss Fanny doing her shimmy every time a surgery was about to start. I will miss the bluntness of Ghanian students, who asked me everyday if they could “be my friend”. I will miss Professor asking every evening if what we are eating is considered “stew”. I will miss being told Awkwaaba (welcome) every where I go and I’ll miss talking about music with my cousins. I’ll miss watching horrible Indian television shows, and poorly directed African movies. I’ll miss Sister Patricia’s hugs, and I’ll miss being cooked for day in and day out. I will miss being thanked over ten times for giving people American deodorant and toothpaste, and will miss hearing “enjoy your meal” every night before dinner. I’ll miss holding the hands of frightened mothers during delivery, and wiping the tears of children whose parents weren’t around for their surgeries. I’ll miss 4 year old Henry and 9 year old Boabeng playing ball outside our hostel, and then running towards me with open arms when I walk back from work. I will miss only paying $5 for a beautiful dresses and the Multifrutas juice served at dinner. I’ll miss hearing stories of my grandmother and mom when they were younger. I’ll miss picking tangerines and starfruit in the woods, and seeing goats walk around like they’re humans.

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Ghana is really a beautiful country, and while they do not have half the luxuries of the United States, there’s so much life in everything they have here. The weekend long  funeral celebrations, the endless lush green trees, the children who knew little English but had great smiles — God helped me find joy in everything. Gratitude isn’t a big enough word for how I feel about having the opportunity to stay here. It’s not your typical tourism country, but you learn a lot about yourself and about others when you step out of your comfort zone in a place like this. People have been asking me all week if I would come back here, and for awhile my homesickness was speaking for me. But Ghana’s got a little piece of my heart, so it won’t be a goodbye, it will be a see you later.

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