Mended

Whether silently resigned

Or curtly unkind

I knew you had something to hide

And softly creaked open your heart’s door

 

I tentatively stepped inside

A timid whisper drew me across the threshold

A nervous flame began to grow in a dark corner

Overlooking a musty muddled mess

 

To the untrained eye

It held a chaotic quality

But my calm palm felt

The quaking pile of thread

And sensed the unraveled beauty

 

Weave convenient needle

Through weather-beaten thread

To pull ravishing features

Back together again

 

Words flesh out in blue

But held in caring hands

Begin to change and evolve

Color after color bursts forth

 

Uncertain but steady streams

Of an identity you used to be

Before sun rose over horizon

And you fell below the tide

 

I gaze at the sewn color wheel

Of letters I am blessed to hear

You mutter rapidly

Into my empathetic ear

Before withdrawing to your hushed corner

So easy to cling in the winter

 

I lovingly carry the new creation

With me to the doorway

Look back adoringly at your

Dark cavern

Outlined in silver

 

Every edge is visible from the doorway

Where you would grimace

But I simply beam

 

The door snaps closed in fright

I determinedly place the message

On the wood that

Inevitably absorbs the label

You let me delicately mend:

“Not fargone nor forgotten.”

 

~Annah

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Social Media is the Cyber Bully

Sunday is Easter, which means Lent ended yesterday and I’ve been off social media for over 40 days. Normally I don’t celebrate Lent, so I didn’t realize it ended yesterday and I’m a little scared. I wanted to challenge myself to escape social media because it has been an addiction for years. I’ve always known that, I’ve just never been honest with myself about it.

But this fast also provided me with boatloads of hope. Since it has been such a time-suck and addiction over the years, I figured I would experience immense frustration over the past 40 days. I was certain I would see an ugly side of myself emerge, that would have a fit over the fleshly desire being pulled out of my grasp.

The coolest thing God taught me over the past 40 days was that social media has no power over my life. Considering the amount of time it stole from me, I was surprised to find out I was pretty apathetic about its absence in my daily life. I don’t need it and I can survive without it no problem. But the biggest eye-opener is that younger generations have it imbedded in our minds that we need it and will miss out on something important by losing it. I promise you if people really care and if something is truly important, they will find another way to contact you.

With social media gone I was able to invest in the relationships around me deeper than before. One of my favorite nights this past month was spent with a dear friend watching a hilarious movie and then having a long talk about lust, which we both struggle with. These are the kinds of irreplaceable moments and conversations we miss out on because we are glued to a screen. If you are anything like me, times when you’re alone and not occupied by homework consist of a ton of scrolling and not much else. Not even reading, writing, or other individual activities that hold so much more value. We convince ourselves that we wouldn’t be as content doing those things and scrolling is easier and more enjoyable. That is a lie.

I want to speak some truths into your life right now. You matter and your worth is not based on pictures or posts. Beautiful, impactful moments don’t have to be posted online and sometimes it’s better to keep awesome things between yourself and God, or your friends and family. Your life is significant; even if all you did was sit on your bed all day. You don’t have to be constantly hanging out with people to have fun. Just because your life doesn’t look like those other person’s pictures doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or they’re even that happy.

Social media is the current façade, the current ‘I’m fine,’ the current mask we wear when we’re scared of being vulnerable. Let your life be richer than the posts and the scrolling. When you hang out with friends, put the phone away. Maybe even leave it in the car. If you say you’re going to be hanging out with someone, mean it. Do it.

Don’t let this covert addiction win. Because it loves to lie to you and it loves to deceive you. It’ll tell you how important it is until you wash away the façade and delete the apps and realize it’s not. It’s really, really not, my dear. You are worth more than the likes and the retweets. You are worth others’ genuine, full attention. And I promise you, you can live a full, beautiful, memorable life without the social media.

As for me, I think I’ll leave the apps off of my phone. I think I might just check them once a day, on my computer. As Switchfoot sings, “We were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?” I don’t want to be buried under the mindless scrolling to fill the ‘boring’ time that has been gracefully given to me. And I don’t want you to be buried, either.

~Annah

Store Up the Promises

I’ve heard chaplains and pastors around me describe how vital it is to store up on God’s promises during the good seasons to help you through the rough patches later. It’s definitely true, because oftentimes if we wait until the thick of the rough patches to search for positivity, our emotions can easily cloud the truth. We are more susceptible to Satan’s lies during the bad times.

Today I am joyful, and the best part is that I didn’t expect today to be anything special. That’s when God likes to prove us wrong. But this is not something I take lightly, because I know there have been and will be other days where joy is really hard to find. So I am basking in the joy, sitting in sunny spots and writing, and my soul is happy. As I write in my dorm lobby, friends keep walking in and greeting me and I am so blessed to know so many lovely people walking alongside our Father. I love having the scales lifted from my eyes to spot even the smallest blessings, like a warm smile and greeting.

God rejuvenated my spirit through a coffee meeting with a Hope graduate named Eric, who is a musician and producer that composes music for films. On this uncertain road to my passions, I have resolved to soak in any and every piece of information available to me, while meeting more people in the industry. The coolest part is seeing the joy others have when they talk about music, just like I do. Networking is always made out to be some scary, uncomfortable situation, but to me it’s interacting with more people who share my passions.

For being an introvert, I’m kind of surprised I don’t mind networking at all. More and more I find myself changing from the quiet and timid communicator I was in high school, and my level of self-confidence is definitely a huge contributor. A year ago I did not have half the level of confidence in myself that I do now and I don’t know when the switch flipped, but it just proves that even if God’s not working on a certain sin area in my life, he’s still working and shaping my image in a different way.

God gave me contentment that music is something I truly want to pursue and lately I have been hesitant whether this is really his plan or just my ideal plan. However, when I expressed my concerns to Eric he made sure to explain that we often feel pressured that there’s only one specific plan God has for us and we need to make sure we don’t pick the wrong one, when that’s really not the case at all. We can’t mess up his plan for how he wants us to serve the world through an occupation, because it’s not the occupation that ultimately matters, it’s being the hands and the feet of Christ in whatever field we pursue. As Eric said, that’s God’s request for all of us and now he’s letting me choose what exact path in music I can best become his hands and feet in.

There are so many potential fears and worries that I have for my future, no doubt, but I’m trying to work on opening my clenched fists. I’m also starting to realize that wherever I go, whether God places me in my hometown, a different state, or across the world he will be there with me, his people will be there to welcome me and people that need him that he wants to speak to through me are there. The hardest part is letting go of my fears and asking God to lead me wherever he wants me, even if that involves being out of my comfort zone. “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.” It’s a lovely sentiment to sing, but a tough pill to swallow.

So on this joyful afternoon I am storing up promises for the hard times. God will always be there with me and he can use me no matter what I do or where I go. He will use me if I obtain a dream job, he can and has used me at random jobs like coffee shops, and he will use me in every season of my life, whether dry or flourishing. He loves me even when I don’t “feel” like he does. He will carry me through hard times, including loss, disappoint, hurt, and fear, because he always has before.

Here’s scripture and songs to store up as well, and hopefully they’ll help you too.

“I will call upon your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in your embrace

For I am yours

And you are mine.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m_sWJQm2fs

Although we are weeping

Lord, help us keep sowing

The seeds of your kingdom

For the day you will reap them

Your sheaves we will carry

Lord, please do not tarry

All those who sow weeping

Will go out with songs of joy.

~Psalm 126

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tIuxV8pTJk

God will always be certain, even if our futures are not. Hallelujah. But let us also lean into what he wants from us today.

~Annah

Perfect the Uncontrollable

I love being in control. I have to be in control in my mind, otherwise my anxiety goes haywire. Striving for perfectionism and being in control go hand in hand for me. At work, I always perform tasks the same way every time. Homework can often be a long and tedious process because I always have to make sure I have it done just the way I want it. My planner is mapped out just so, with each month under a different pen color; homework assignments on the left and other scheduled activities on the right. Everything is neat and orderly, and that is how I like it.

That means when I fly on an airplane, although I don’t have much of a problem with it, I freak out a bit. I think naturally it will crash and I will die, because I can’t be in control. I have been concerned about my passion and aspiration to pursue music, because in the back of my mind I have a strong hunch that at the end of the day what I really want to do involves moving away. Where jobs and companies are located is beyond my control and that freaks me out more than the actual occurrence of me moving probably would. Everything will go wrong and panic will ensue if I am not in control.

If I try hard enough, I can get the grades I want. If I plan accordingly, I can hang out with the people I want. The problem I’ve started to see—that I have been struggling with for the past couple months—is that I think I can perfect anything and everything. With worldly things, that’s how it works; things can be perfected if done just so.

The scary truth is I have let this toxic lie seep into my life that says, ‘if you try hard enough, you can eradicate your sin.’ When I subconsciously maintain this mindset only to find out I still struggle with lust or selfishness or comparison, I become incredibly frustrated. Then, instead of running to God, I tell myself I’m not good enough, because if I was leaning into Him more often, I wouldn’t be dealing with these problems. I tell myself I’m the problem. But the problem is sin. And sin is inevitable, Annah, in case you didn’t know. It’s so easy to know the truths in my head but not fully accept them from God. I know and always hear that God is in control and it will all be okay, but I never truly believe it. My actions never display that truth, because the scariest thing to me is not being in control.

A few weeks ago I watched an awesome video by a Christian woman named Sadie Robertson. She has a YouTube channel where she talks about faith and in this video she essentially talked about letting go of all of the hurt from our pasts, giving everything up to God, and telling him to ‘wreck my world.’ Ever since then I’ve been thinking about that concept and this perfecting of my faith I’ve been holding onto. Ultimately it all comes back to the struggle of control. I initially prayed and asked God to ‘wreck my world,’ but I don’t know that I’ve really opened my fists yet.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” ~Proverbs 16:9

My prayer right now is to let go of control, but also fear, because they go hand in hand for me as well. He sees my day, and my tomorrow, and my entire future before me… Although I will fail, I have nothing to fear, because His grace has covered me. Plus, the devil loves to play with my weaknesses. If I could perfect my faith there would be no need for Jesus.

I don’t know where I’m going in the future, but God will be right there with me, continuing to love me with his grace and patience. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

~Annah

To the Harolds

The other week I watched Harold & Maude for the first time and I have never laughed so much during one movie before! I loved it, along with the characters of Harold and Maude. After I finished the film I kept thinking about Harold’s character and the people I’ve encountered who seem to resemble this troubled young man. I’ve run into a couple Harolds—people who feel insignificant and doubt whether their lives truly matter. So whether I know you or not, my Harolds, this one’s for you.

I know you’ve been through a lot of rough relationships and I can’t even imagine how people have hurt you in the past, whether family or friends. I’m sure some people get frustrated with you because you’re not up to their standards and you might not always communicate in ways others want you to. But I know reasoning runs deeper than attempts at being inconvenient to those around you. When people are coming and going in your life so frequently I can only imagine how difficult it is to try to open yourself up to some.

There are many question marks in your life. Dang, life is complicated; it can be rough and monotonous. Sometimes you would rather stay in the background where you can blend in and skate through life unnoticed. You may feel invisible and insignificant at times, but you are so loved, more than you can even fathom. I know there would be broken hearts if you were gone, so please never convince yourself that would be the best plan. Your importance goes beyond the value you place on your daily life.

Harold.jpg

Photo credit: listal.com

You matter. I can’t say it enough and you can’t hear it enough. Keep searching until you find those people that make you feel important. Find people like Maude, who help you look outside of yourself to the world around you and allow you to see your place in it. Don’t be afraid to share your emotions; I know you aren’t too keen on doing that. Tell someone your heart is still hurting from years ago. Tell someone you don’t know where to turn next. Yes, it’s difficult and you’ll probably be uncomfortable being so vulnerable, but it will reap such beneficial rewards. No one wants you to feel isolated. Keep telling yourself that until you believe it.

Keep being you at the end of the day, because you have unique traits to offer the world. You have so much potential, more than you see in yourself. When the going gets tough, don’t look inward, look out. You are going to do great things and people will flock to you just for being you. Yes, you with that quirk you don’t like and those intolerable characteristics you seem to find in yourself. Not everyone sees you the way you do.

Harold and maude.jpg

Photo credit: film4.com

Sometimes the world moves too fast, Harold. It’s okay to slow down and stop sometimes. It’s okay to say ‘this is too much right now.’ Just promise me you’ll stand up tomorrow and try again.

But one thing is certain—you will figure it all out eventually. Maybe you won’t live out the life you had envisioned, because bad things get in the way, but joy can be found every day if you look hard enough… and I know you want to find it, even if you can’t see it right now.

Hang in there, friends. And remember:

“Well if you want to sing out, sing out / And if you want to be free, be free / ‘Cause there’s a million things to be / You know that there are.”

(…but being you is the best.)

~Annah

Introverts & Isolation

Where are all of my introvert readers at? Yeah, hey! I can definitely relate to you. After being in large social gatherings for a while I become super exhausted and need alone time. I need a few deep friendships instead of loads of friends. I think answers through very carefully before raising my hand in class or sharing with a group in other formal situations. Sometimes I feel like the only introvert at my college (but let’s be honest, most of them are probably just hiding in quiet places.)

Alone time is great and very necessary to have with the Lord in the midst of the chaos of college. But if I’m honest, sometimes I find myself alone too much and while it’s great if I really need to study, I think it’s important between introverts to understand that we need community too. Especially as Christians, we were not made to be alone all of the time. Sometimes I can find myself caught up in my alone time and nagging anxious thoughts, beginning to wallow over self-pity about who knows what. When I start feeling in a funk or out of place and not having the greatest day, I’ve learned that even if it’s the last thing you want to do; flocking to other people is the only way to go.

We are a self-centered culture driven by our own motivations and when you need to recharge and be alone frequently as an introvert, the urge to value your own life over everything else going on is too easy. Just like anything in the world, being an introvert has its pitfalls and can lead to sin if not watched carefully. A day spent cramming for a test could mean struggling friends who may need you are left struggling, because hanging out with them is not convenient for your schedule. Maybe you could have gone out of your way to call or pray for a family member, but you were exhausted and decided to take a nap instead.

This is not me stating introverts are terrible sinners, I’m sure extroverts have their own problems we cannot relate to, but introverts can easily turn their way of living into self-centeredness and lack of awareness towards others. Anything that doesn’t fit our personal schedule can easily be placed on the back-burner, because convenience is bliss, right?

If you’re anything like me, you start thinking about this and realize oh crap, there’s contritionI haven’t been putting anyone else first in a while. First of all, talk to God about it. He loves when you open your heart and say here’s the gunk… take it and transform it. Don’t wait until after you’ve beat yourself up about it—run to him right now. While you may have heard these verses a million times before, hear them with fresh ears now:

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” ~Matthew 6:30

You know that test you feel like you’re going to fail? You know how you feel like you can’t do anything until that homework assignment is done? It’s going to be okay. The world will not go up in flames if you don’t get the grade you wanted. The other day I was preparing for a speech and as an introvert I absolutely hate speeches. Every time I get a new assignment for the class, my blood pressure goes up a little bit. But I started thinking about it in a new way as I rehearsed the other night. Yes, it seems daunting now, but an hour afterwards it will be so far from my mind and I will not care anymore. So why give it the time of day? Why worry about something that has no significance on the eternal spectrum? Yes, that doesn’t mean my fears immediately dissipated and everything was roses after that, but giving all of the things you’re worrying about to God and realizing their ultimate significance can help you slow down and enjoy life a little more. He is taking care of you, even if life doesn’t go according to plan. Trust fall into his arms and maybe spend time in the presence of community for a little while.

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” ~Philippians 4:6

Ah, the classic do not be anxious about anything verse. But we really need to hear that constantly! Do you let that really sink in, because often times I don’t! Do not be anxious about anything. That doesn’t mean except that speech or that placement test or that job interview or even sin (which I’ve done before). It means don’t be anxious about anything!

Usually, at least in my case, if I’m not in isolation because I’m recharging from a crowded event, it’s because I’m anxious about something. But that’s all the more reason to run towards God and his people! Maybe he even wants to talk to you through some of his people. Allow yourself to recharge on Netflix now and again, and maybe spend a day bearing down on homework, but also provide slots of time for community and the other people God has breathed life into and wants you to experience.

~Annah

Disney Identity

I was thinking about my favorite Disney movies the other day and I decided that they all say a little bit about who I am as an individual, so I decided to write a fun blog today and talk about them. Disney movies were always my go-to entertainment as a child, whenever I was sick or having a bad day. Even now I still adore them and cannot wait to see the live-action Beauty and the Beast next week! My sense of creativity and wonder, like any child my age, seemed to stem from these magical movies.

1. Peter Pan

Without a doubt, Peter Pan was my favorite Disney story as a child. I collected Disney books, which were thick volumes, packed to the brim of retellings of the movies. The first one I collected had Peter Pan in it and there was a time in my life when I would have my siblings or parents read it to me every night before I had the ability to read. This continued for so long that I eventually memorized the story, without even comprehending the words on the pages. The boy who never grew up further emphasizes my love of childhood and simplicity. I have never been too keen on growing up and I think Peter Pan contributes to this fact. Peter Pan also incorporates a great deal of imagination, which is one of the biggest reasons I love to write fiction. I love how creative our minds can become if we only open ourselves up to create. We all have the power to develop entire worlds and characters that are all our own. How cool is that?

2. Big Hero Six

Even though Big Hero Six just came out in 2014, it is now my second favorite Disney movie. All of the characters are so lovable, and more importantly, suffer and rejoice more realistically than many early Disney movies. The characters take on superhero roles because of their unique scientific gifts (or just being Fred, the school mascot) and they are able to use their creative gifts to thrive in a new way. Creativity, like imagination, is something I value because we all have something unique to offer the world. Even if we pursue a career that does not utilize creativity as often, we naturally approach it in our own individual ways and no one works quite the same way, which I think makes humanity beautiful.

Another important component of Big Hero Six and my values is friendship. Especially in light of a recent tragedy at school, I have remembered caring and being in community with one another is the most important thing in life, especially as a Christian. Hiro, the main protagonist, has to suffer through the death of his brother throughout the movie and his friends are right beside him to ease the pain the whole time. It is so easy to become caught up in selfish agendas and the weight of classes or work, but in doing so we neglect those around us who desperately need the love we can all uniquely offer others.

3. Pocahontas

I was never well-acquainted with this Native American Disney princess growing up and it wasn’t until middle school that I really watched the movie for the first time. However, over the past couple years I have come to decide Pocahontas is by far my favorite Disney princess, even if she doesn’t wear fancy dresses, live in a castle or end up with John Smith… in fact those are all reasons why I love her so much! She defies princess stereotypes and is a truly independent woman, who knows that there is more complexity to love than having a shoe fit and living happily ever after.

My favorite aspect of this movie and something that matters to me immensely is how she stuck up for John Smith and tried to create peace between the two races, not just the people like her. Growing up as a Christian I was honestly a bit judgmental towards people not like me and always strayed away from anyone who didn’t agree with me to a T. But the older I become the more I realize that we need to engage with people different than us and not just that, but we need to love on them, especially when it is difficult. I see so many peers who have Education majors and love working with kids, which is great! But lately I’ve felt like I want to be there for adults, because it seems like too often we overlook them. We would rather let them do their own thing, but they need just as much care and love as kids do! I think when we’re all stressed out about our own problems it’s easy to forget that.

4. Oliver & Company

I love Oliver & Company and I always thought Dodger was the coolest character ever. Animal movies were always my favorite as a child. For whatever reason, I always preferred them over people movies and Oliver & Company, with its eclectic group of characters and warm sense of belonging, was right up my alley. I think this movie is incredibly underrated, as far as Disney goes. Similar to sticking up for humanity, I think it’s vital to love people different than you, like Oliver and his dog friends. As silly as it may sound, working at Biggby last summer truly showed me how many different people are on the planet. When you grow accustomed to a small Christian school, it can be easy to live in a bubble and forget the true diversity throughout the real world. Oliver and his friends, similar to my coworkers and I, showcase that sometimes you will run into people different than you. Maybe some people might not live the same way you do and maybe they’ll be really difficult to deal with sometimes, but they still have great things to offer the world in their own way. Even the most difficult people to handle are deserving of love.

These movies also have music I adore, so to finish, I will include my favorite lyric from my favorite Disney song:

“Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver, just around the riverbend?”

~Annah