This Isn’t Instagram

I could show you my Instagram-worthy view of life right now. Painted nails, self-decorated notebook, organic vanilla yogurt, and freshly made popcorn sprinkled with butter and Real Salt. #blessed.

Or,

I could show you my unfiltered view of life. Just like the Instagram view, but with some other things added.
This is the view of life with the gnawing ache that I’ve debated using Netflix to push aside. The one with understanding mixed with vague shock that my mother isn’t around any more, and never will be. The disappointment that any highlight of my life from now on – even something like a haircut – can’t be shared with my mom.

What hashtag do you put on that?

Let me ask you to do something. Not for my sake, but for yours. If your parents are still around, love them. Do what you can to let them know. Tell them. Speak the words, look them in the eye.

“You never know what life will bring.” I’m irritated at my new experience with this saying. I never thought it would bring this. But yes, life is short and you don’t know what it will bring. The beginning of my mother’s tests to her last days in the hospital was only six months. Her leaving was sudden and unexpected.

And yet, I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. I know that when it all is said and done, I’ll see my mom again. I have no regrets. And I got to say goodbye.

So many people don’t have that.

It still hurts, though.

Don’t do it out of fear of the unknown, but do it out of the opposite of fear: love. Don’t assume your loved ones know that they’re “your loved ones.”

Tell them.

Homesick Vs. Grateful

I read a question today:

“If you had to move three thousand miles away, what would you miss most?”

I feel qualified to answer that question, and not just theoretically. I did move about three thousand miles away from home, temporarily anyway. I went from Virginia to Switzerland for school. Yes, I’ll be back home in a few months, but let me tell you what I miss most….

I don’t know.

Do I have to pick just one thing? Do I pick home cooking, or my dog? My nephews’ and nieces’ smiles, or being able to see my parents face to face? Having money to spend, or being able to snack? My best friend, or being able to wear what I want? Being able to let my crazier side make an appearance without making people nervous or worried, or going to my young adults group? Fast food or dessert? My truck or tortilla chips?

At one time or another, I’ve missed all those things, though certainly not all on the same level. Obviously, I’d rather see my best friend than eat tortilla chips. If I could do both at the same time, though…

Anyway, it’s very easy to focus on what you miss. Sometimes that can help with homesickness. A lot of times, though, you get stuck in a rut and forget the good things that you do have. I can’t see my parents in person, but I can Skype them a lot. I don’t have a lot of spending money, but I rarely actually need anything. I don’t have the food I grew up with, but I’m experiencing other cultures’ food…and let me tell you, it tastes good!

I usually stay positive, but it takes more conscious effort for me to be thankful for specific things.

I’m better off being aware of the good things I have instead of pining away for the things I don’t have.

Not Happy

This is taken from one of my journal entries a couple weeks ago. 

The one verse in the Bible about happiness (that I saw) was Psalm 127:5. It talks about happy is he who has many children.

I told God this morning that I wanted to be happy today, instead of the likely starting to cry at some point or having a heavy lump in my stomach.

It’s been a tough month.

So, I felt God say, look up happy in your Bible concordance. It’s not a complete concordance, but there I found that one verse. Lots of kids=happy. Not the best news for those of us without kids.

“Now look up joy.”

There was a list of verses.

Many of those verses relate to fun things like “have joy when you’re suffering! Be glad that you get this privelege.” So, for us, joy is found in suffering. Maybe not in, but at least despite of suffering.

This past month or two have been very difficult, with so many opportunities for me to dwell in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of one of my worst fears coming true. Sometimes there’s heaviness clinging to my shoulders, or an unsettling lump fixed in the middle of my stomach. Sometimes a terrible thought comes to my mind and I start to freak out.

However, I’ve gotten a bit better at identifying these lies and attacks and shutting them down with God’s truth. Despite all my logical, earthly reasons to be afraid or to feel hopeless, I’ve had a surprising amount of peace and hope. And it’s beyond me;  I haven’t experienced it like this before. Even with that lump in my stomach, I still have the truth nestled in the back of my mind. A peace that I can’t conjure up is settled within me.

I know that part of the reason it has stayed is because I’ve tried to choose healthy thought patterns instead of letting myself think the frightening things. And of course, I still need to process the things I’m going through. For me, that often means crying. But I’m doing okay.

I’m not saying I’m happy most of the time, because “sadly,” I’m not. But joy is different. Joy isn’t an emotion. Often, it’s a gift that you choose to receive and cultivate. It’s not a bubbly personality, which is good, because that’s not me. For me right now, joy is a sense that everything will work out for good, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. Some days are better than other, but recognize it and give yourself permission to live in it.

Weary Travel Musings

I realize that I’m in the secluded little airport zone right now, and what everybody outside of the TSA–screened world is hearing may be a little different.

I have mixed feelings tonight. I’m in Newark airport for the next 19 hours or so, planning which spot on the floor I’m going to claim for a snooze. The reason I’m here is because my first flight was cancelled, so they rebooked me to fly out of a different city. But that flight was delayed, so I missed my overnight flight to Switzerland, and there isn’t another one until the next evening.

So that’s why I’m here.

Or, the reason behind the reason, what everyone waiting in line is upset about: someone in one of the Chicago towers tried to kill himself, apparently by setting himself on fire. That shut down the Chicago airport, which messed up seemingly every other flight in the US.

And this is why I have mixed feelings. It seems like everyone flying in the US knows about this guy’s attempt to meet death. What has gone on in his life to bring him to the point where a horrific, painful, and public death seemed to be the best option for him?

But I haven’t heard anyone mention the woman in Oklahoma who was beheaded by an enraged coworker, or the other worker who stabbed.

I’m not going to rate these events as “which one is worse;” both are horrible and heartbreaking. Yet which one am I hearing more about? It’s the one man who “had the gall” to let part of his life leak out into ours and disrupt our stressful travel plans.

We can’t notice every terrible thing that happens in our world, but maybe we can make sure our perspective isn’t too skewed. I know air travel is frustrating and ridiculously unreliable to begin with, but today I think we can manage having our flights messed up and getting stuck in customer service lines.

I think I need to take a bit of my own medicine, the mental advice I gave to the businessmen beside me: in the course of my life, how badly is this going to ruin anything?

Not that bad. It’s tough now, but it’ll be over in 24+ hours.

My Next Adventure

For any of you who don’t know yet, this fall I’m going to school in Switzerland. It’s been a long process for me to get here, but finally, I’m preparing for this adventure! As long as the paperwork and financial things come through, I will be attending a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission come September.

Here’s the thing, folks: I need help. It’s not easy to ask for money. I don’t like doing it, and I know everyone has their own things to use their money for. There are plenty of people and causes out there pleading for your hard earned cash, and I don’t want to add to the clamour.

However, I still need to let people know. If you feel like you could help, you can either donate directly to my fundraiser, or purchase from my Etsy store. (You can help someone with school funds and getting cool accessories? Yes!) If you’d like more information about this school and what all the money will go toward, you can find that on my fundraising page.

One thing I’ll say, though. This school will have a month focused specifically on different types of creativity–dance, art, photography, music, etc. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows that I looooove creativity. It’s one of my passions, a skill that I want to develop and use more often. This school as a whole will help me along that path. Creativity is a valuable way to reach out and touch people. Most of the time, no words need to be exchanged for little dots to connect between the piece of art and the viewer. Without creative expression, our world would be dead and cold.

Now before I go on another long ramble about creativity and such, I’ll stop myself there. Please consider donating; I would appreciate any amount you can help me with. Thank you for reading. Now I’ll bid you all a good day, a good night, a good life.

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PastTheEye?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/switzerland-adventure/x/8256940#home

Hang in there

This spring I was wondering where I would be living this summer and fall. I wondered about the cost of renting an apartment and what that would mean for saving up for bible school. I’ve been living with my wonderful sister (and her family) for over a year now, but I knew their living situation would be changing, and therefore mine. Now that the time has come for them to move, I’ve found that I still have a place to stay–their “old” house. Now, this house is four or five times bigger than what I was thinking I’d be in, but I’m definitely not complaining. I have everything I need, and my dog. (Let’s be honest, I need my dog, too, in this huge place.)

Looking back several months, I remember how I was struggling not to worry about this. God came through for me, and gave me a lot more than I expected. This is just one of the reasons Jesus told us not to worry: in addition to the fact that it doesn’t help us and it wears us out, we need to remember that He will take care of us. He can give us more than what we ask for. We need to remember to dream and to talk to Him about what we need, but we also need to remember to not worry. He’s got our best interests in mind, and He’s got us covered.

This is something I especially need to remember now, as I’m getting ready to go to Switzerland this fall for the aforementioned bible school. Not only can I get overwhelmed when I think of the money that it takes and the paperwork that needs to go through in time, but then I look at how I’ll have to leave my family and travel overseas by myself. It can get scary. But no, I shouldn’t let it get scary, because Jesus has it all under control. He’s asked me to do this, and He won’t let me down. He hasn’t yet. He never will.

Don’t forget that.

Zombies and Vampires and Adventures, Oh My!

Today I read a post discussing our culture’s current zombie and vampire craze/fascination. I began connecting dots between what he said and what I’ve gathered from my time on various social media sites.

Here’s a link to the original article:

http://dougaddison.com/2014/07/zombie-and-vampire-craze/

And here are my thoughts:

So many people my age yearn for a meaningful adventure. They’re unsatisfied with typical jobs and bored with typical life. To appease their cravings, their adventures are often watching or reading other people’s adventures. That’s okay, but we usually take it too far.

When we’re presented with an adventure of our own, many times we back away or complain about it. Either it’s difficult and uncomfortable or we don’t realize that it’s an adventure until it’s over. How often have we said “Well, that was an adventure” after some mishap is avoided or conquered? How often do we say “Well, this should be an adventure” without sarcasm or a sense of dread?

I won’t get into the politics of the Twilight series, but let me say this: one of the things about it that people make fun of is that Edward has been a vampire for over a hundred years. Instead of finding a cure for cancer, though, or something else helpful, he chooses to attend high school. (He’s not the only one with questionable choices. The Picture of Dorian Gray has even worse implications.)

How many of us would make a better choice with our immortality?

All that to say, my generation gets a lot of eye rolls and face palms because of how addicted we are to technology. However, there is a tremendous amount of people my age who are smart, creative, and passionate. Many of them just don’t have the right outlet to turn it into a socially accepted career.

Yes, my generation has a lot of downfalls. But give us a chance. We’re yearning for more. We know that there has to be more out there than what we’re seeing right now. Won’t you help us live more than what we thought possible?