New Beginnings

Forty-one days.

Forty-one days until the basement full of shopping bags will be relocated. Forty-one days until my years of living in my oh-so beloved home in the lovely suburbs of Chicago will come to an end. Forty-one days.

The classes are set and the first of many student payments has been sent in. I am, in only a matter of time, going to be a college student.

I have known I would be leaving for college for months. I have known NIU would be my home for the next for years for some time now-it was the only school I applied to and there wasn’t any looking back-and I am beyond excited to start my next chapter. And yet I am also sad. An emotion that I have been battling confusion about ever since I have linked sadden and college into the same category. Excitement and a sense of nervousness? Normal. But to me I am just sad. Excited and sad.

I am a home girl. Born and raised in Wheaton, its the only home I have ever known. But, I am also fully aware that it will only be a matter of weeks after I back up and head to DeKalb before the dreaded “For Sale” sign will make itself at home on our front lawn. And oh how I will with all my might for that sign to set up camp elsewhere. My home has been my whole life.

It is where I said my final goodbyes to my father, and where I parted with my beloved dog. It was the meeting ground of new hello’s and the sanctuary of where the afternoon naps have always taken place. And when that sign stick its roots in the mud the two people remaining in that house will be up and out of the oh-so lovely and yet oh-so expensive Wheaton. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

Where will I go when I have breaks. My new house won’t be home.

Who will greet me when I come home on warm summer nights?

I have grown accustom to the culture of living in a cul-de-sac with such fabulous community. A place where you can receive high quality car washes for reasonable prices, all while supporting a local small business. (Insert heart eye emoji)

Community.

But, with great love comes great losses.

At the age of eighteen I am lucky to say this is the first big move I have experienced and while I know full well it won’t be the last I consider myself honored to have known such love of a home growing up.

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The pain of knowing someone cares, as a person with BPD.

I know, it sounds crazy. Why would someone find pain in knowing that they have people that care about them?

What person doesn’t find comfort in knowing they are loved?

Humans are made to seek love and affection from others. It is how our mighty God made us when He crafted us in His perfect vision.

So why, then, do some people find pain in knowing they are loved?

A little over nine months ago my therapist diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder. While the diagnosis was extremely mild, it was still enough to give me the pieces I needed at the time to complete the puzzle. It explained why I had a tendancy to sabotage really pure relationships and why I struggle to see the grey in things.

Being able to put a label and finally understand why I do the things I do truly solved many of my issues. I understood my actions which allowed me to correct them in situations. I put that diagnosis behind me, as well as I could, and continued on in my healing process.

Until a few nights ago when I sat down in a therapy session.

Over the years I have grown extraordinarily close to my therapist. He has acted as not only a guide in my hardest of times but also as a father. He is the person I can count on to tell it to me frank and I always found comfort in knowing that to him I am just a client. Something about me felt at ease knowing that I could unload my problems on to him and know that it wouldn’t keep him from functioning, as it is his job to listen to peoples crap.

But, and I am not sure when, at some point that changed. This night I sat down and, after an extremely long day, verbally vomited on him. I was brought to tears and confessed to him that I truly did not know how to handle a situation that I was dealing with (of which I will not disclose for my own protection). He repositioned his body and with a furrowed look in his brow told me how much he cared for me. He even informed me that he was truly worried and burdened by the information I had shared. But not burdened in a sense of distress but more out of pure love and concern for me. A type of love I had only felt from one other father figure in my life since my father passed. And it was an odd feeling.

I expressed that I didn’t like that he was burdened and even apologized for any stress I had caused.

He looked at me, in a way where I could tell he truly was saddened by the words I had said, and he told me something that stuck with me well.

“Sarah.” He said. “I am a grown man, and in this job I see a lot of clients and I hear a lot of hard things. And with those clients, and those things, I get to chose what I let impact me outside of these four walls. I didn’t chose to care about you. But I chose to worry about you, that is my burden that I chose to carry.”

And those words hit me hard.

You see, with BPD, I often struggle to realize that people do not have to engage in relationships with me. Not a single soul on this earth is obligated to me in any way. And yes, that does me I have to be careful not to push people away. And I have to be aware to not mistake peoples words for there true meaning.

But it also means that all the love I get, oh wow. How pure of a love it is.

Maybe, just maybe. It’s time we helped ourselves.

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What is it about change that people are so resistant to? Why is it that people stay in dead end, abusive relationships; or stay at jobs that they dread attending every day.

Maybe it is a sense of feeling obligated. To their co-workers, or their spouse, maybe even family. Maybe it is just that the idea of starting over is more of a stressor than the dreadfully unpleasant state of affairs they have found themselves in.

We, as humans, tend to cling to the comfortable, the familiar, regardless of the impact. I am most certainly guilty of clinging. I hold onto the things that I know and avoid facing change until the last possible moment.

When I was thirteen I had a therapist. Denise. I had been seeing her for many years and she had seen me in my worst of times. Finally one day she said something to me that has stuck with me all these years. She told me life is like a child in a dirty diaper.

Ok, don’t stop reading because I mentioned dirty diapers, please! Hear me out!

The matter of the conversation, to keep it concise, was that I was sitting in my crap for way to long and need to snap out of it.

She explained to this.

If a baby wets or fills their diaper you would change it as soon as you realized it to be full. You would not just let the infant sit in the discomfort a full diaper and wait for it “to be more full” She went on to inform me that life is the same way. When we come to the realization that we are sitting in a dirty diaper. Weather that be that dreadful job, or the relationship that is causing more pain than gain. We should not sit in our stew just waiting for something worse to hit.

Now, five years later, I have found myself sitting in my diaper. Why? Well for me the discomfort of the diaper is better than the process of the change.

I have grown accustomed to the home I live it. No, it is not healthy for me, but it is what know. And I have gotten used to boys treating me with disrespect. It is easier to just deal with it.

Finally, I had my blow out. That relationship that I thought was just non-beneficial became toxic. And the “brush-it-off-the-shoulder” techniques for how I let people treat me became unsafe for me physically.

God got right in the way of my stubborn soul. Now, as I leave for college, preparing for a world of new changes, I am finally learning to be proactive.

Eventually, no matter what you do somebody will always change your “dirty diaper”. If you don’t change it yourself then God will send someone in.

He always does.

 

Life is an Airplane.

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Ah, yes, real life. The days I have been looking forward to for years.

Adulthood. College. Working.

Independence.

Ever since I put my foot through the doors of my high school on my first day I have had the end in mind. And now, it is here.

I did it, I graduated high school. The days of repetitive classes every single day, and waking up at seven a.m. are finally over.

But now what is next? Well college for me. For others working, military, or maybe even marriage. But with college comes bills so for the summer I am working. Full time. Monday-Friday 6-5.

Ouch.

After a day of work comes an evening of getting stuff done. Run to the bank, make my appointments, do the laundry, get enough sleep. And somewhere in there balance a social life. Match that with occasional weekend working and your brain is bound to start to hurt.

I find myself confused. I thought that being an adult would mean a new adventure every day. A world of possibilities, a joy for newfound freedom. Instead I have found myself knee deep in coffee mugs, bills, and exhaustion. I have found myself stuck in a pattern again. Wake up, go to work, come home, be efficient with the little energy I have left. Only to go to bed and wake up to do it again.

I am finding myself stressed because, in such a busy schedule, I don’t have time to breathe. To do the things I used to enjoy. And yet, in all of my life growing up this is what I have heard I need to do to be successful in life.

It makes going back to high school seem a bit intriguing.

A few days ago, as I was making my morning commute, I was listening to Klove. The talk show came on and often my first move is to change it to a station with music but for some reason I kept it going. They started to discuss the daily struggles of people whom often fill up there day to much, they referred to it as an analogy of airplane seating.

As flying becomes a more and more commonly used mean of transportation airlines are, eager to get as many people on a flight as possible, adding seating. Therefore causing the seats to become smaller, with much less wiggle room. And nobody wants to be on a flight crunched up again an stranger.

Life can often feel like that. We try to fit as much into one day as possible, leaving little to no room for any change, causing a stressful course of life.

My challenge to myself, and to you as well, is to fight that stigma that you need to fit as many people as possible on one flight.

Take time to do the things you enjoy, and spend time with people that make you happy. I personally, know I am eager to see the difference a little leg space makes.

Time is more than just minutes.

There are so many sayings about it.

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

“It has been said, time heals all wounds” -Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

Time passing is one of lifes’ few guarantees.

Life never stops. There is no pause button. No rewind or fast forward. There is just time. Every sixty seconds in a new minute every sixty minutes in a new hour, and every twenty-four hours is a new day. That is never going to change.

In a world full of uncertainty it is rather nice to know that no matter what changes the sun with rise in the morning and set in the evening. But sometimes it can be a real pain. We often wish the world to pause for a week while we mourn the loss of loved ones. We crave to go back to our childhood, or the days when life was a simpler place. We yearn to skip the days of the early morning classes and the late night study sessions, wishing to jump to the good part when we are really living our life.

It’s a nice set of dreams, but it isn’t reality.

I recently turn eighteen, in sixteen days I will be graduating high school and in three months I will be starting college. I now make monthly car and phone payments and will begin working a full time job this summer. It seems as if my childhood has merely disappeared before my eyes, leaving me nothing but distant memories. And while I celebrate my newfound freedom I mourn the loss of when life was easy.

It’s a balance.

Time truly is a balancing act. Managing it, enjoying it, and trying with all our might not to take advantage of it.

As I have gotten older I have noticed that my view on time has changed. I used to view life as a great adventure. Everyday a new page full of things to discover and as I grow and work my way into early adulthood I view each day as a ticking time bomb, and the only way to stop it is to get a list of stuff done.

Make that appointment.

Finish that project.

Fold that pile of laundry that has made a home on my bedroom floor.

I am happy but I am not enjoying the here and now. I do my school work and I eagerly await college because I know that what comes after I will love with all my heart. I am enjoying the outcome that is merely years away.

And that, that is no way to live your life.

I recently stumbled upon a quote that has since changed my perspective.

 Don’t spend more than five minutes being upset about something that isn’t going to matter in five years.

Not more than three hours after this verse was brought to my attention a friend asked me to join her in a hike to a hammocking spot.

Automatically I thought that it would be a waste of my time while I value spending time with my friends I would rather do something productive together, like shopping or preparing for things to do, but I agreed as I knew it was of importance to her to get out and enjoy to sun.

Since that day two weeks ago I have since gone hammocking with her twice and alone once.

There is something about the wind and the fresh air. The sound of birds chirping and the water flowing that completion of any task, no matter how big or small can beat.

I Pray One Day I Can See the World Through A Child’s Eyes

I am constantly filled with joy at the love that I see from children.

They do not hate anyone, everyone they encounter is a friend. Skin color doesn’t mean a single thing to them. Age is simply a viewed opportunity to learn from someone new. And the world is full of possibilities.

My three year old niece has recently become a big fan of talking to everyone she sees. At the park she ran around with a boy many years older than she. She told me after that she was excited to “run with the kid”. She runs to save me from the “monster” when a balloon hits my head. A four year old that I work with at school has become the best of friends with one of the special needs high school kids in the class. Children simply have a heart full of love.

Today I took my niece out to breakfast. We walked into a local Cracker Barrel and I was already ready to walk out. She hadn’t eaten anything other than two chips all morning and the poor girl was simply hangry. She was not having it. I sat her down and attempted to distract her with coloring and games but it was just not suiting her needs. I looked around, bright red, embarrassed that I was unable to control her and glanced over to see an elderly women that was eating by herself.

She was smiling.

It wasn’t too busy and I figured maybe my little Evelyn just wanted to talk to someone that wasn’t me. At the moment I was the devil because candy was not on the list of things I would let her eat at eleven in the morning.

I pointed the women out to Evelyn and suggested she go talk to her. She walked over to the lady and chatted up a storm. I sat and observed from two tables over as Evelyns voice of excitement roared through the aisle.

She told her about her recent birthday and the birds she saw outside and the fun bath she took earlier and even ranted to her about how I wouldn’t give her candy.

Fast forward and we wrapped up our meal. Evelyn told me was going to draw a picture for her “new best friend” she scribbled and scribbled and scribbled and then plopped out of her seat and walked right up to the women and said “I have a surprise for you.” Gave her the drawing followed by a big bear hug and walked away.

All by her own free will.

It’s makes me think. If a three year old child can selfishly give up one of her own prized possessions for someone she hadn’t known but one hour, why do we struggle to love people so much?

Why does it take seventeen lives being lost to gun violence for us to rally together as schools and say no more?

Why is it that it is only after a classmate takes their own life that we talk to those we hadn’t before?

I pray that I can learn to show the same grace to those around me as my niece shows to those she encounters. This world is full of hate and shame and the simplest of joys are what keeps this world going. I pray that I can learn to see life through the eyes of a child.

And I pray the same for you.

 

 

Now I see, in all the pain, that you made me strong.

I saw you the other day. You were sitting in your car, waiting. For somebody, but I knew not for me.

I have learned that it is not logical that after all these years you would go out of your way to wait for me. To find me. I have learned that you have moved on.

But I still had fear, because you saw me. You recognized my face, even after all these years. In the dark of the cold snowy night you recognized my face. You perked up from the seemingly comfortable serenity of your car and you saw me. And I saw you.

I guess that fear will never fade because the moment your eyes locked on mine my gut told me to flee, drive, leave. But something in me told me not to. Some part of my being told me that I was skilled enough to move a few lanes over and park my car. My gut told me that I had it in me to step out of my car and walk in that store. My heart knew that I couldn’t let you control me forever. My stomach told me that five years later you were not going to stop me from getting my pita chips. My brain told me that this was my chance to show myself that I have grown.

And I have. I stepped out of my car and I locked it. I placed my keys in between my fingers clenching them with all my might, I pulled out my phone and called a friend. And I walked. The minute I saw your headlights turned off my heart sank, but the minute I walked in that store it felt as it I had just won a grammy. I was safe. He wouldn’t hurt me in public.

In the light. I was safe.

I went about my shopping trip, and I got my pita chips. They where on sale, so now I was really over the moon! I checked out and I walked to my car. I didn’t see your car, but I figured you had just left. I mean rationally that probably is what happened. I stayed alert and I went about my day. The minute I pulled into my driveway I was ecstatic. I had done it.

You were a monster to me, my worst nightmare. The thought of you hurting me haunted my soul for years after I was freed from you. And yet, here I am thanking God that you were at that store that night. You proved me to something that I was too afraid to admit to myself. I am not defined by what you did to me. I am stronger than that.

Seeing you proved to myself that I can know that you are still out there and still be happy.

Still be calm.

It proved to myself that I am a gentle soul. Because when I saw you I didn’t get that rush of anger that I used to get, instead I got a feeling of heartache for you. A feeling came over me that maybe you are one of the best things to happen to me. Because in all the pain you caused me years later you, unconsciously, taught me that I strong. I am lovable. I am brave.

And I am happy.

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Even our wildest dreams are nothing compared to Gods plan.

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What if our dreams where real life?

This is a question that I have spent nights on end pondering.

If real life was like our brains when we are dozed off then life would be so extremely different. In some ways it would be amazing, but in some ways it would be just ten times more terrifying than it already is.

I mean I have had dreams that loved ones that have passed have come back claiming that they were never really dead and just had some business to take care of. I’ve had dreams that the boy that I have liked for years finally asked me out. It can be great.

But I have also had dreams that my house has caught fire, or those dearest to me passed. The stories that my brain comes up with between the hours of eleven pm to 7 am are really quite amazing at times.

I think, however, that if my dreams were real life I would feel a great void in my heart.

Very rarely, if ever do we have uneventful dreams. I have never, that I can remember, had a dream that consisted of me just sitting in my room relaxing with a warm blanket and a good movie turned on. Dreams most often have something rare or abnormal happen. In our dreams we are either on top of the world or just plain old down in the dumps when we wake up to realize our dream isn’t the reality.

I wake up from the good dreams and curl back into bed to try and bring it back to life, even if for just a few minutes. And I wake up from my nightmares grasping for breathe relieved that it was just a fathom of my imagination.

It is so black and white. Almost upsettingly so. You never know what you will get when you clothes your eyes at night.

It makes me look forward to going home to see my father one day. I look forward to one day spending the rest of my life in heaven, an eternal dream. And until that day comes I push you, and myself, to not get caught up in the worldly dreams. Nice it would be nice if our dream about the cute guy asking us out came true. But what God has awaiting us?

Its nothing to compare.

 

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.

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.

 

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.