The only perfect leader is the Lord. Doesn’t me those that sin aren’t worthy of leadership positions.

It’s funny, really, how so often others think so much more highly of us than we could ever imagine thinking of ourselves.

In the past week I have had two people, on two separate occasions, come up to me to discuss faith. Both said that they look up to me highly as a spiritual leader. I am not saying this to gloat about myself. To be completely honest I do not read my bible every day and I struggle daily with questioning my faith.

How does this work?

If God is real why would He let this happen?

How do I know heaven is even for real?

Given I have been reassured multiple times that these are all normal things to question as a teenager growing up in a christian environment I still don’t think that these are questions I should be wrestling with if I am someones spiritual leader.

And if I am battling this then I mustn’t be a very good leader.

The two people that I had these conversations with where both peers. I think they could tell my shock when the spoke so highly of how they look up to me.

My first thoughts where if only they knew half the things I am battling.

If only they knew half of the sins I commit on a daily basis.

If only they knew…

Then I realized, thats the thing, they do know. They where both peers that I am relatively close with. Both know some of my poorer choices I have made and the words that come out of my mouth, and yet they still chose me. Why?

Well I didn’t ask both of them, as one of them is a non-believer that I didn’t want to pester with my own insecurities but the other, well, she is a christian. And so I asked her.

Why? Why me? Of all the amazing young adult Christians you know. Why me?

Her response was simple, and non-hesitant. “Because, In all your battles and trials you always come back to the Lord.”

I said thank you and left good enough alone but I thought about that a lot that night. This peer, whose relationship I value greatly, respects me as a spiritual leader. Knowing all my flaws and mistakes.

It made me think about my own life and my own leaders. While I don’t have a spiritual peer leaders that I have a close relationship with I have a few close adults in my life that I respect greatly. None of them pretend to have it all together, and none of them hide their flaws from me. And I look at them with the upmost respect.

Makes you think.

Maybe the most respectable leaders are the ones that humble themselves. The ones that openly admit to a lack of perfection and still keep fighting. The ones that are nothing in comparison to our Great Lord, but the ones that know where the end goal is.

That is the type of leader I hope to continue to be.

And I wish the same thing for each and every one of you.

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What if we changed the way we viewed suicide?

***Trigger warning***

I have often heard people refer to those who have died by suicide as selfish.

Why is that?

It truely doesn’t make sense to me.

“Don’t beat yourself over their choice. It was selfish of them.”

“Don’t get too down about it they knew that they were hurting people when they did it.”

Or the worst thing of all, to say to somebody who has just attempted.

“Why would you try to take your own life. What were you trying to do just leave me here?”

Seems awful. I know. But believe it or not these are all things that people have said to me or to those I care for greatly.

As somebody that had lost friends by suicide and somebody that has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past I can tell you with 100% confidence that none of those words are at all helpful. And to be quite frank I struggle to see why anyone would even think that those words would be helpful in the first place.

While I struggle greatly I also reach my hand out to extend grace to those who say those words. As they may not know the power of what they are saying. Or maybe they are struggling with their own loss and that is just how they are coping.

Understandable.

But what if we changed the way that people viewed suicide.

You see people that take their lives don’t die from suicide. They die by suicide.

They die from depression. Anxiety. Trauma. Addiction.

Ok what’s the difference?

To say somebody died from suicide would be to say that suicide is what killed them.

Now while to some extent this is true that is not what killed them. What killed them was the months or years of torture. Whether that be from mental illness or bullying at school. Suicide is the way the handle it. And unfortunately it is a coping mechanism that once complete can’t be taken back.

And I think that is what people struggle to realize.

Now yes, I realize this is a pretty risky thing to post as I know it is something that people have very strong feelings toward, but I’m not going to hold back.

I am not trying to say that people can not have their own feelings about different topics but somebody has to speak up for those that can’t speak up for themselves.

While I pray nobody ever has to experience grieving the loss of somebody that died by suicide I also pray that if one should come across this post and then one day relate to it that they would have a new understanding of the pain filled process that those that battle everyday feel.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or plans please call the number above. There is help. You are worth it.

What if we lived in a world full of love? Wow.

This past Thursday my school was blessed with the opportunity to listen to Tim Ryan speak.

A man that, as of this past Wednesday, has been 5 years sober.

Amen.

A man that has been through the ringer to say the least and has see the darkest side. But a man that I respect greatly.

I have never struggled with substance abuse so it was near impossible for me to relate to his struggles but believe it or not there is so much more to his story than just drugs.

I got many things out of Tim’s presentation but the one that stuck with the the most was the much needed reminder that we never know what somebody is going through.

So often in life we judge people by their covers.

Oh that person is on the varsity football team. He has a girlfriend and is always at parties. His life must he awesome.

Little do we expect that the same guy is working three jobs just to make ends meat.

Oh that girl is so pretty and skinny and has so many friends. She is always laughing!

Little do we expect that the same girl is skinny because she hasn’t eaten in days.

That kid is so weird, he never talks to anybody and is always wearing dark baggy clothes, he is so emo.

Little do we know that they are going home from school and slitting their wrist just to try and control the pain.

People make assumptions about others based off of what others say. We make fun of people that don’t fit in and leave them crying and then get heartbroken when we hear the announcement that they are no longer with us.

Makes you think. Doesn’t it?

This world is broken. People are dying every day from drug addictions that all started with one person giving them grief about how smart they are. Or lack there of. How weird they are. Or how much they don’t fit in.

People are being abused every where we look and in stead of leaning up beside the victims we just sit back and say “wow glad that’s not me”

People are being bullied. Harassed in the hallways. And instead of stepping in and saying something we walk past. Because maybe if we just act like we didn’t see it then the issue will magically go away.

It breaks my heart.

What if instead of making assumptions about people we asked how they were doing.

What if instead of making fun of somebody for the way they dress you compliment their hair. Or shoes.

What if instead of sitting back and hoping somebody else will change the messed up world we live in we step up and do something.

My prayer is that one day all my fellow brothers and sisters that struggle can say that they too have been 5 years safe, sober, and happy.

Thank you Tim Ryan. For a much needed reminder.

To the people behind the words “me too” you are so loved.

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If you have been on social media much lately I am sure you have seen multiple people with the status quoting “me too.”

It brings pain to my heart that so many people can honestly put this on their status. I think that it is ever so important to raise awareness to the issue. But there are plenty of posts that are supporting those who are typing those two heart wrenching words and clicking post. My heart and my prayers go out to them as I am one of them myself. But I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I want to talk about the people that are typing it and deleting it. The people that are whispering “me too.” in their minds but aren’t saying it because of the fear of what people are going to say.

Will people look at me differently?

Will people start asking me question?

Will it bring back the treacherous memories of  the horrors I thought I had dealt with? 

Maybe they can’t post it. Maybe the fear of their abuser shielded them from being able to ever tell anyone in the first place and now, to post those words would cause am uproar of questioning and fear within their social circle. Within their family.

Maybe they were sexual assaulted or harassed. Maybe they were beaten to the ground. Hit or punched or kicked. But they weren’t raped. They weren’t inappropriately touched so they don’t feel they can share that they are struggling too. Maybe they were called a slut by there significant other. Told that they are unworthy of love or a bother. But they don’t think their struggles are “real enough”.

Maybe you are a guy, and that is just “not what this is about” because the internet says that this is to support women who are struggling.

This post is for those people.

Your struggles are still valid. Your pain is just as real. We stand with you.

According to Martin Beckford 80% of victims of assault or rape don’t report it. So imagine how many other people on your Facebook and Twitter were also taken advantage of, in any way, shape, or form, and declined at the opportunity to share that because not a single soul knows. You are not alone.

Victims. The statistic says victims, not women. It breaks my heart to say that with as many girls and women that I know that relate to me too I know just about half that amount of guys that relate to it as well. You are not alone.

To everybody secretly holding on to your me too. You are not alone.

In case you haven’t been told yet today. You are loved.

“Three words exist that you must hear from God today. NO matter what your circumstance, this trio of syllables breathes life, imbues hope, infused joy.

I.

Love.

You.”

-Margaret Feinberg

Think about all the words you hear each day. All the words your read each day. You wake up in the morning to hear your family talking about their day, you drive to work or school and hear the words from your favorite song or the heart wrenching update of the tragity that took place over night. You go about you day listen to people tell you what to do or where to go. You come home and listen to your family talk about their day, the new job opening at work or the snobby classmate your sibling has to sit next to in science class.

We go about our days hearing thousands of words and yet there are three that have the potential to change a whole day, or even week, or month.

I recently purchased a news devotional called Flourish by Margaret Feinberg. I will admit that I am one to judge a book by its covers in a very literal sense. When my friend picked out the book I was automatically attracted to it by its appealing cover. When I saw that it had coloring pages in it I was sold.

I read the introduction my first night, the second night when I flipped to the first day devotional I was instantly hooked when I saw the title. “The three words you need to hear, I love you.”

In those three short pages I was reminded that even though I am critically broken, I am also extraordinarily loved by God.

We are all guilty of sin. And my guess is that at some point or another we have all felt unloved. We have made choices that made us think that we are unworthy of love. Or we have lost that main relationship that we leant on for a reminder of how we are loved.

Personally, while I know I am loved by many people here on earth I also know that I have hurt many people that I love. I know that I have caused concern for people and have broken trust. And at times knowing that I have hurt people overrides knowing that I am loved. And it is a hard pill to swallow.

But the Lord is my water.

It is overwhelming how much the Bible talks about Gods love for his children. Just read the New Testiment.

Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Psalms 33:5 says “The earth is full of his unfailing love.”

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world He sent His one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not parish but have everlasting life.”

Talk about love. He sent His one and only son to die on the cross so that we may be free if we know and love Him.

I truly believe that I have no reason to feel as though I am unloved. Not when I know the Lords words. That I am loved. Here is the even better news!

So are you.

 

We live in a world full of sin. Every direction you look now a days someone is dying from cancer, or loosing their job. Look left and you see a family of five living on the side of the streets. You turn right and their are women being abducted and sold into a life of slavery. A life they will most likely never get out of.

It is saddening.

A few days ago I was sitting down with a younger friend. She is at the young age of fourteen. For the sake of her privacy we will call her Aly. She sat down with me and informed me that for the past six months she has been talking to a twenty-three year old man. Twenty-three.

I asked Aly why she was talking to a grown man when she knew it was inappropriate. The minute I asked that question I automatically regretted it. For just a few short years ago I was in her position. I was a thirteen year old girl talking to a seventeen year old guy. And when people dared to ask me why I was talking to him I would simply reply with five words.

"He makes me feel loved."

That relationship turned south extremely quickly, to say the least. Now, when I look back on that relationship, I realize that it wasn't a matter of why was talking to him. It was all a matter of why was HE talking to me. What buisiness did a high school senior have talking to a eighth grader. What buisiness does a twenty-three year old man have talking to a fourteen year old girl.

We live in a sinful world. Where young girls are warped into thinking that being hit and yelled at is normal. A world where women cant walk to their cars at twelve at night without fearing that they are going to be raped.

At yet, there I sat, five minutes later, telling Aly that while she needed to stop talking to him, she also needed to show him grace.

A very wise women once told me, "The only thing worse than being abused is being the abuser." That simple sentence has changed the way I view this world. You see, I am not exactly a fan of the man that abused me. And I am most curtainly not a fan of this twenty-three year old man that is munipulating his way into my friends life, but my heart goes out to them, because they must be going through some really tough stuff to get to the point where this was the only way they know how to cope.

This world is broken, it is shattered, and from the outside looking in it doesn't seem like it is getting any better. But God has a plan. He knew exactly what he was doing when he put the guy in my life. I can imagine God sitting up in heaven the day I met my abuser, with his plan book right in front of him.

"Right on track."

Not all realizations are fun, but they can move mountains.

Recently I have come to the painful realization that my mental illness does not only impact me, but those that love and care for me as well.

I've always known that my mental illness impacts others I just didn't know that people actually cared about me. It wasn't until this past week that I truly realized, in the bottom of my heart, that I am loved.

I know I am loved and cared for, I always have. In a sense of I have never doubted that my family loves me. I haven't even every doubted that God loves me. But what I did not know was that my best friend cares enough about me to text me multiple times when I don't reply within a few hours. Or that the one man that I look up to more than I can even try to form into words cared about me enough to drop everything and drive across town to make sure I was okay.

Realizing that I am loved was a wonderful feeling.

Realizing, not long after, that therefore my illness impacts those people greatly?

Well that was a much harder pill to swallow.

Ever since I have been diagnosed with depression I have become selfish.

I, for the longest time, didn't care if I bailed on my friends, making them feel unloved and betrayed. It didn't cross my mind as a big deal when I ruined family events because I was sitting in a corner crying.

It had nothing to do with any of them. It was a me issue, and so it shouldn't impact them. Right?

Wrong.

I was on the phone a few days ago with a family member who I care about greatly. They said to me that they simply did not understand depression. That the whole depression and anxiety bit didn't make any sense to them. They seemed angry at me for being mentally ill. Like I let them down in some way.

When I hung up the phone I was angry, how could you possibly be angry at me for something that I have very litte control over? It is not my fault. It is not something I asked for.

Then I sat back and thought about it. That family member never said he was angry at me for being mentally ill. He simply said he didn't understand. He said he was at loss for words. But then he said that he loves me.

I realized that maybe, just maybe I needed to stop making assumptions about how people are feeling.

I remembered that the first time I talked to my best friend about her mental illness I didn't understand. I hadn't yet been diagnosed so all her struggles simply confused me. I wasn't mad at her, I just care about her. I didn't know what to say so I told her exactly what that concerned family member told me. I told her that I didn't understand, but that I loved her.

And after I told her that we sat in her room in dead silence. Because was at a loss of words.

Does it stink that my own personal struggles impact others so deeply? Yes. But I choose to see that as not only proof that I am loved but as my motivation to get better.

After all, the Sears Tower wasn't built with only one person that cared. It took a village.

And I, I am a skyscraper in the making.

Sometimes you just need a reminder that your life is not as hard as you think.


I complain, a lot.

Just yesterday I was driving in my car, that I did not pay for, thinking about how irritating it is that I haven’t been able to fix the big dent in the front of the bumper.

As the day went on I found myself trying to decide what to do for dinner. Irritated that I have nobody at home to cook for me since my mom is out-of-town on business I decided to get some fast food. I sat in my car legitimately frustrated because I really wanted Panera but did not want to get out of the car to go in and order it.

Today I went grocery shopping, frustrated that my brother spent $20 of the $100 my Mom left us for groceries I did not think I would be able to get a weeks worth of groceries with $80.

“Why does my life have to be so complicated?!” I thought to myself. Angry at the fact that my life is as difficult as it is.

Then, as I was driving home tonight, I noticed a women. She was clearly homeless with a blue beaten up pillow in her left arm and her hands full with the bags that carried her few belongings. She was walking alone in the middle of the night. She was not smiling but she was not crying either, she was just being. I noticed as the light turned green that she was simply paying fine attention to her surrounding. Reading all the signs on the buildings around her.

She did not seem happy, but she did not seem sad. She was just there.

As I continued my journey home I prayed. It was a simple prayer, asking God to cleanse me of my lack of greatfulness.

I have not had the easiest of lives, but I have it pretty good off.

No, I have it really well off.

I have a Mom that loves me with all her heart. I have a roof over my head and clean clothes on my back.

I have a warm bed to sleep in and food on my plate. I have family and friends that I know care for me more than I can explain.

But greater than all of that I know God.

I thank God for putting that women in my life, even if we did not exchange words she taught me too appreciate every little thing that I have because my life, it isn’t too bad at all.

I can only pray that that women comes to know and love the God that loves her with all His heart.

Every Christian has experienced a spiritual high. My goal is to experience a spiritual life.


Ahh yes.

That spiritual high.

I am confident when I say I think every Christian has struggled with this at one point or another. You go on that church retreat, that church summer camp, or even a missions trip. Your last day arrives and you find yourself changed. A new person with a new perspective on their faith. You find yourself stronger than ever in your faith!

A spiritual high.

Then you go home. Your friend says something that upsets you and you lash out at them. Or your parent asks you to do a chore and you moan and groan only to never complete the task. You go back to the real world where you aren’t being spoon fed Gods word. And you come down from that high. Disappointed that all that work was for nothing, but excited for the next trip so you can reconnect with Christ again. You tell yourself that the next time is for real, that this next trip is the one that will really change you forever.

I get it, I am on that high right now, only I am praying to never come down.

After recently having an amazing opportunity and growing much closer to God as well as those whom I spend my church time with I found myself in a new position. I spent a whole week in the middle of a forest with 10 other people.

No phone.

No flushing toilets.

No escape.

I was being fed the word of God daily. With fourth five minutes of devotional time and then a whole day centered around learning how to grow as a team that serves the Lord I left that camp ready for whatever God was going to throw my way.

I got home and I got my phone back. I got to take a nice long shower and a long nights sleep in my own bed. I got the hundreds of text messages that I had missed that week.

I got the latest scoop on who was dating who and what girls got in a fight, the group chats seemed to be never-ending pits of drama and bullying.

Hate.

Sin.

I scrolled through my Instagram feed only to see pictures of my friends half-naked on the beach with some guy they didn’t even know. I saw pictures of my classmates son. I saw everything I had been sheltered from for a week. And I felt weak.

Suddenly I realized that if I wanted to keep my “spiritual high” I was going to have to make it my life.

I realized that serving God means that I need to start serving Him in everything I do. In the songs I listen to and the words I speak. The friends I surround myself with and the choices I make.

I have been home for three days now and I have already sinned more times than I’d like to admit but I am still high up in the clouds. With a new point of view on my faith I have a newfound excitement towards the idea of teaching others about God. There is only one thing I am more excited about.

And that, is seeing His plan.

Everybody needs a stern talking to now and then. 


I’m a teenager.

Trust me, I’ve gotten my fair share of lectures.

Most of them coming from my Mom when I  broke curfew or when I disobeyed her by not doing the dishes before she got home. 

Most of them went in one ear and out the other.

As a teen I have learned that sometimes all you can do is sit there and nod your head, apologize and move on. The deed was already done and the only way to go is forward. 

While most of my lectures have been given to me by my Mom every once and a while I get one from somebody that doesn’t take care of me on a day to day basis. 

I shouldn’t say lectures. Reminders is a better word. 

Reminders that while I may not always care about myself fully, somebody out there does. 

Depression often causes me to not care about myself. I brush my teeth and take showers. I make sure my laundry is clean (maybe not folded, but clean) I stay on top of my grades and social life but I struggle with caring for myself. I often battle thoughts that maybe I deserve bad things. I have learned that those thoughts aren’t coming from me but straight from the pit of hell. 

I sit in my room every night and verbally remind Satan that he does NOT have control of me. But it’s a daily battle. A battle that I lose at times. 

Earlier today I went to chat with two people  whose opinions I value greatly. 

After discussing with them some of the choices I have recently made they gave me a reminder. 

A reminder that everybody makes mistakes, but that I need to be careful that I’m not making too many. 

A reminder that while I might not care about myself 100% of the time there are people that do. 

A reminder that God has given me strength to do all things, even the things I may not want to do.  

This reminder did not go in one ear and out the other. This reminder has been festering in my brain since the moment I heard it. This wasn’t a I’m mad at you and need to vent my anger reminder. This was a You are better than this reminder. 

Something I didn’t nessesarly want to hear. But something I needed to hear.

And for that I am grateful. 

You can learn quite a bit from a kid.


Yet another post about my job. Because I love what I do and I spend a large majority of my time doing it, being a babysitter has changed me in drastic ways.

One specific family that I have come to care for dearly has taught me more than I can type in one post.

This family did not get life served to them on a perfectly clean plate, to say the least. But they are a group of people that I look up to greatly.

A few days ago I found myself is the storm called lunch time. With children all around not wanted to eat their sandwiches, begging me to just let them enjoy their ice cream. I found myself getting frustrated. I looked at the little two year old boy, who was screaming bloody murder because I wouldn’t let him out of his high chair unti he had one more bite of his sandwhich, in my mind I wanted to give him my stern you better do what I say now or there is going to be issues look, but I didn’t.

He is only two, and while giving him a stern look and a serious tone might make me feel better it was highly unlikely to be effective with him.

I looked at him and In my ‘I’m talking to a two year old voice’ I said to him. “Daniel will you please eat one more bite on your sandwich for me?”

That little boy, without even blinking said, clear as day. “OK!”

He picked up that sandwhich and took a bite. I, sticking to my word, unbuckled him from his seat and off he ran to his next activity, happy as could be.

As I was driving home later that day I found myself reflecting on that sandwhich incident. I came to realize that often times in life we are that two year old, stuck in the high chair screaming and crying to get out so we can get on to our activities. And life, well. Life can tend to be that sandwhich. That one load of laundry we should fold before taking a nap. That one apology text we know we need to send to somebody we snapped at earlier that day.

We kick and scream bloody murder hoping God will let us go about our activities without finishing our sandwhich.

Little do we, that innocent litte two year old, know that that sandwhich holds all the energy and encouragement we need to get throughout the rest of our day.

As I go into a summer full of fun nights with my friends and great laughs with my family I encourage myself, and you as well.

To eat the sandwhich. 

I may be seventeen but I am still a kid.

 
I am terrified of growing up. Absolutely mortified.

But it hasn’t always been that way.

When I was a little kid I would look at all the teenagers and adults in my life; I would think to myself “I can not wait until I am a big kid just like them!” 

Now that I am a big kid I wish with all my heart that I could just simply click my heals and go back to the days when my biggest concern was making sure that I slept with all of my stuffed animals so that none of them felt left out.

But change is inevitable. I am going to grow up. Days are going to turn into weeks, which will turn into months and then years and before I know it I am going to be a home owning, tax paying, hopefully wife and mom to a bunch of crazy litte kids.

People always tell me to enjoy being young, enjoy not having a ton of responsibilities. I always look at people cross eyed when they tell me to enjoy not having a ton of responsibilities. Do they know that I pay for gas, and I have to manage my bank account? Are they completely ablivious to the fact that I have to attempt to keep my room tidy and my clothes clean, my grades up and my social life active?

I have plenty of responsibilities.

But when I step back and think about it, all those adults are right. I should enjoy the responsibilities I have now because one day, in the blink of an eye, I will have a hundred other things to worry about.

Being a teenager today is scary. Our country is accumulating more and more debt our nation seems to be falling apart at the seams, and my generation is the group of kids that is going to be left to try and pick up the pieces.

So yes I will continue to pay attention to the news. I will continue to form my own political views. I will make sure I know how to take care of the basics of being a young adult.

But I will also be a kid.

I will listen to Taylor Swift in the car with my best friend because I like her music. I will snuggle up with my Mom when I am sick because she always knows how to make me feel better, even at the age of seventeen.

And I will never let the fear of growing up stop me from being young.