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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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.

┬áDon’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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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.

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.

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.

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.