End of Junior Year

I’m sitting here drinking a blueberry iced tea (my new favorite drink) eating a blueberry muffin that is definitely not gluten free. (Dang, I sound like your stereotypical college girl blogger.) For the sake of the blogathon challenge (which I ended up losing), I was going to recap the month of April, perhaps I still will, but then I realized that it isn’t just the end of April, but it is the end of the semester, the end of my Junior year.

To recap: At the end of the last semester, I labeled it as the worst semester of my life. Now, at the end of this semester, I can say this was the best semester of my life. Partially because I don’t remember much from Freshman year, and partially because it was genuinely a good semester. For example, I realized the other day that I didn’t cry during this semester, except for the one time I called mom about Spanish. It was a “I didn’t cry because I don’t cry” but more of a “I didn’t cry because nothing gave me a reason to cry.” And trust me, I was stressed out enough several times to cry, but I would take deep breaths and remind myself not to worry about what I can’t control because ultimately I know God is in control.

Monday (April 30) I had four exams. I didn’t finish them until 8:17pm and I didn’t get back to my room until 8:30pm, dropped my stuff and went straight to Walmart. When I got back I looked at all the money on my desk, counting and recounting the coin, and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to pay for this weekend.” I could feel my chest tighten, I was beginning to see all red, and then I just shoved all my money–cash, card, and coin–to the other side of the desk and said, “The weekend is five days away. For now, Lord, I praise you. You got me through today. We did all the exams. We did and for that I say Hallelujah.” I sat down and started watching TV.

Even now, I’m done with all my exams, and I am still expecting favor from the Lord on grades. He is good.

And my God will supply all your need according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

I came across this verse in the beginning of the semester. I don’t know exactly when, but I know it was early on. I read that and wrote down all of my needs in the margins of my Bible. I wrote them as close to that verse as I could get them. Today, I have crossed off every single one.

Praise the Lord, for He is good.

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Dream Treaders by Wayne Thomas Batson – Book Review

Wayne Thomas Batson is my favorite YA author. He weaves Christian virtues into his books so well, one would really have to look for them to find them. Not to mention he wrote a pirate book, and that right there had me hooked, but he also talks with his readers. When I first read his books, I stalked his blog and e-mailed him, and he always replied back to me. To this day there is an interview on his blog that I conducted with him for a school project. Anyway, that’s my spiel on the author. Now time for this book.

At first I had a difficult time getting into it, mainly because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. Once I did though, I fell in love. The story is about Aiden who can, as the title denotes, tread dreams. He is one of three Dream Treaders and his job is too make sure the dream scape doesn’t mold with reality. If that happened, no one would be able to separate the two from the other. In short, the world would go insane. So here is Aiden, an appointed Dream Treader from basically God himself, and then there is a group of other kids who have some how (through a sciency way) learned how to walk in their dreams. This is bad. This creates bad things. Now, not only is Aiden trying to prevent dreams from becoming reality, but now he has to try and convince these other students to leave as well. Should we add more to his plate? Probably not, but Batson did. The other two Dream Treaders have been kidnapped by our main antagonist: The Nightmare Lord. (He’s evil. Stay away.) No one has ever been able to get close to the Nightmare Lord, but Aiden did, and Aiden cut off his horn. But now, Aiden has to take down the Nightmare Lord for good to save his allies. He might just have to do it alone, or he might just have to ally himself with the same students he’s trying to get out of the dream world, and it all has to be done before the clock strikes twelve.

Honestly, there is so much good character development. Like I said, once I began making time to read the book, I couldn’t put it down. The plot line moves along nicely, and I never felt bored with the development. I recommend this for any age to read. Probably not younger than eight, but upwards of that is good. It really brought me to think about dreams: how to work them and what they mean. Trust me when I say, this is a book you need to pick up.

It’s Killing Me

I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit’s hole, and it is a long way to the bottom.

The lady in front of me is tall. Her hair is white from both age and stress. Clearly, at this moment, she is the rabbit. Although, these halls are so familiar, I feel that this is my hole. Everything from the waiting room to the computer in the small alcove are all mine. I have them all precariously placed on the ledges of my hole, distant memories begging to be reviewed. Everything is about to crumble.

I see me, about seven, twisting and turning in the green and gray patterned chair, stalling on the next math equation my uncle is begging me to finish. I’ve been doing school in the waiting room for so long; I’m tired of playing with all the toys set out for kids ages two to five. Aside from my sister who is too young to care, I am the only one who hasn’t been allowed to see Grandma. I have been told what she looks like, but I can’t imagine her with tubes hooked up inside of her.

I want to drink the elixir that makes me shrink. If I could disappear I would, but I turn right, following the rabbit’s quick paced steps. To the left is that computer and straight ahead is the nurse’s station. To the left of the desk are two halls I’ve been down a hundred times. I close my eyes and remind myself to breathe. I don’t remember drinking any shrinking potion, but now it feels like my lungs can’t or won’t expand to their full capacity. Now I want to eat the cake and grow. Right now I would give anything to grow to climb out from this place.

We are at the nurses station. Please, turn right.

We turn left.

Please don’t take the right hall.

We take the left.

I am led into the ICU. There is no secret key I have to retrieve or keyhole I have to climb through. The rabbit steps right up, and the doors open at her presence. The place smells heavily of antiseptic. I want to tuck tail and run.

“Here we are,” says the rabbit.

I wish we were late.

I see me in my black turtle neck. (I hated that shirt.) I pause in the doorway, not sure if it is safe to walk in. There’s the tube in her throat, and she is barely aware of what is going on around her. None of the descriptions mom gave me before could have prepared me for this moment. The moment my lungs stop and my heart can decide whether to speed up or to slow down. I’ve skipped to the end of the book, and before me is the jabberwocky.

“Hello, Grandma,” I say. She turns her head toward me, and she moves her mouth, and a frog croaks instead. I grab her hand, and rub my thumb in circles. Her skin is wrinkled, bruised, and feels like velvet. I look up and smile. “I love you too.”

“She was t-boned,” the rabbit says. “This is her second time being in a coma, and she doesn’t want to be revived. She doesn’t want to fight to live.” I muster my strength and respond back in a controlled voice. The conversation is short. It is clear I am eager to leave. The trauma of being in the hospital for eight years struggles to resurface. The memories try to cave in and burry me alive.

I am relieved once I leave the rabbit hole, this not-so-wonderful land

Let’s go back….

Elizabeth:

It’s a little to get sappy, but I was just thinking back on the summer we graduated. Summer of 2015. Honestly, that has so far been the greatest year of my life. I was motivated and doing things. I was routinely taking my vitamins, running outside (almost) regularly. We went on our first vacation by ourself in another state. That summer I was so happy. I took on the world that summer. We both did.

I dunno. I still am. I still can. But now, I just feel a little less motivated.

A lot less. Everything has fallen so perfectly into place, even with the hardships. I’m so thankful for everything God has done in my life. He has blessed me so much, and I know Hew will continue to do so. But now I don’t feel like I have anything to work hard for. The world has already been conquered. There is no Sherif for me to fight, no poor to give back to. Naturally, I want to si I’m lost, but I’m not. I know what God has called me to, but I don’t feel like there’s much to do if, anything to reach that now.

I’m just kind of really restless.

I want to go back to 2015 and feel that rush of excitement and success as we go down the highway in your sketch van with John Farnham and Ed Sheeran blasting through the speakers. If just for a moment, I want to feel that rush again.

~~~~

Abby:

I get that. I dearly miss that summer with all my heart. But it’s normal to feel restless. I know that’s a cliche thing to say that doesn’t help much, but it’s true. Feeling restless doesn’t mean you don’t still have adversity to face and opposition to conquer, it just means you’ve gotten used to it. You’ve gone through the training period, like in all those movies where the hero trains, and is finally ready for the battle. You’re ready now to face what’s been planned, so look forward to that. There is still so much unknown and I’m very excited to see how you excel in everything God throws at you.

No matter what age you’re at, it’s easy to feel restless. I think what my friend said applies to all of us. There is still so much unknown that God has yet to reveal to us for us to adventure into. Don’t give up.

BREAKING NEWS

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*Trips on the red curtain as I move to take center stage* Quickly catches myself and straightens the imaginary crown on my head. *waves fancily* “Hello my lovely readers and strange narrator. Here is a quick recap of what has happened since we met.” *crickets from the empty audience* “Haha! Of course I’m not really going to talk about the past three months. More like the past week. Let’s get started.”

This is week has been disorienting as heck. I had some intense spiritual battles Monday and Tuesday night (nightmares and dissociating) and I’ve been scared to go back to sleep since. So what have I been doing? Binge watching Parks and Recreation. *naturally**as one does* ALSO I–the healthiest person alive–have a cold. I feel betrayed by my own body. It’s kind of annoying, but whatever. It’ll end soon.

I’ve barely been getting my posts up for the blogathon, but I have done them. I think I have missed one day. If I’m wrong, correct me. I’m not upset about it though. I’ll be happy to buy Tae dinner. Which, speaking of Tae, he redesigned his blog! Go look at it! I’m about to go do that. He’s amazing and if you’re interested in travel, you need to read what he’s writing about.

I finished another book. (It’s actually a book I bought last weekend on my birthday.) The book is Ryan Higa’s How to Write Good by (you guessed it) Ryan Higa. It was actually really good and inspiring. I’ll put a review of it up eventually. I’m about to start another book Autumn Princess, Dragon Child by Lian Hearn. It is the second book in the series The Tales of Shikanoko. Look forward to another beautiful cover.

Monday will be the start of dead week. (It’s crazy to think I have two weeks left before I move into this most beautiful mansion.) Surprisingly, I’m not stressed at all. I know God has things under control. As I keep reminding myself, His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Already two classes have ended. I’m studying hard for Spanish, and I should be studying more Chinese. Things will work out. I trust God.

Keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine.

I love you all! 么么哒!

Dream Big

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This is one of my favorite poems. I don’t know how many times I would tell my mother all of the crazy things I planned to do. She would get all skeptical and look at me out of the corner of her eye while she cooked. She never discouraged me though (maybe about becoming a world famous singer.. kind of gotta be able to hit a note for that one). All she ever told me was to dream big, and so that’s what I did. I dreamed bigger and bigger every night.

Mamma always said, “Dream big, baby.”

So I did.

I dreamed that one day I would be happy.

Now here I am,

And I can’t imagine being sad.

“Dream big, baby.” Mamma always said, “Dream big.”

IHOP Mom – Narrative

This is based on a lot of truth I heard as I talked to IHOP Mom–rather, as IHOP Mom talked to me. She inspired this short piece, and is the star of this narrative.

IHOP Mom walks by and swiftly removes everything from the tables. She had been around for seven years and isn’t about to make a mistake on her job. She is fast and efficient. She loves the students who come in during their freshman year, and she watches them grow and graduate from the college down the road. She calls me baby, and says she heard me reading. While she talks to us, their is a smile that lights up her face. It carves crow’s feet around her eyes and in the corners of her mouth. When she turns around I watch the smile fall from her face. She is focused on the work ahead, and the long night she has to get through. After she is done here she still has a home to go to. There are other people to feed, not just random strangers and college students that wander in past curfew. She has a family too: grown children and grand babies that require her attention and stretched smile. She is worn thin, but she is far from frail. She is a strong cornerstone. She is someone who remains consistent in the passing students with last minute homework and the police officers that come through the doors for a late night coffee pick-me-up. She is here at two in the morning, and it will be a while yet before she goes to bed.

Celebration of Discipline – Book Review

This was honestly such a good book. (And if I’m being completely honest, I finished it at the beginning of January. Oops.)

Richard J. Foster so excellently takes the reader on a journey of spiritual maturity all while keeping it–as Pastor Beth Jones would say–basic. It was easy to understand, instructional, relatable, and very simple. Foster explained fasting, prayer, solitude (or silence), simplicity, celebration, and other disciplines in a way that made it easy for new and old Christians to begin inserting in everyday life. I suppose “easy” isn’t the right word, as we are talking about discipline. Any discipline is difficult and takes commitment (which really is a discipline in itself). I loved the book so much, I can guarantee you I annotated the pages. I underlined whole paragraphs, wrote notes in the margins, and exclamation marks in areas that really meant a lot to me.

One of the best things about the book is it is completely scripture based. It is not Foster’s ideas or opinions, but what he has seen in his life, in others’ lives, and read in the Bible. Jesus is Foster’s prime example, and he mentions him a lot.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is trying to do monthly resolutions, better their life, or just needs a new revelation from the Lord. As I said, this is good for the new Christian and the “seasoned” Christian. Get it. Annotate it. Tell me what you think!

My Forest

I am really pushing it on this one post a day thing.

Here is a poem I wrote at three in the morning back in December of 2015.

 

Green dollar bills

Silver nickels

Copper pennies

Rusted leaves

Dying trees

Where soul isn’t currency

 

I sold my heart for a little bit of love

And I traded my mind for little bit of trust.

All I had left was my soul

Covered in dust

Blackened by bruises

Hours of untamed lusts

Hidden in corners

Covered by night

Untouched by light

Breathing

But not living

Hoping

But not dreaming

Slowly

Losing

Sanity

 

outdated

over-rated

Just say it

Metal buckets

Molded books

Fraying shirts

Ripped hems

Muddy boots

Broken hearts

Shattered glass

Shredding statements

To pretty nothings

 

I am nothing

Not worth keeping

Not worth selling

Not for petty green slips

That forfeits morality

pays for pleasure

gives a sense of stability

making for silence

That creates cruelty

 

No longer

I will not listen to your kisses

I will not bed on your roses

I will not willingly lie to cover your inconsistencies

I will not compromise my worth

For your sake of guilt

That you built

On zero monetary value

 

Take your green bills

Silver nickels

And copper coins

Ruin your leaves

Kill your trees

But sure as hell stay away from my forest

I grew it from broken pieces of mismatched hearts

I watered it with mismatched blood types

And I built it with scattered dreams

Cracked trust funds

And my own damn hands

 

I’ve already lost my heart

And I’ve already lost my mind

I will not lose my soul

It cannot be sold

I will fight with desperation

Searching for restoration

Grasping for redemption

In a place of desolation

 

It’s not pretty

But it’s all I’ve got

And I will fight for everything I have

With everything I have

I will fight