I can breathe again. 40 to go…

This is my 700th post on this blog. Give me a minute to let that sink in. 700. What? I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around a number that big. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read any of those 700 posts and all those who have stuck with me through so many good and hard moments over the past four years (I had my four year blog-aversary a couple weeks ago. Crazy right?) You’re all so wonderful.

So it’s already been almost three weeks since I’ve gotten back to school and they have been three crazy, exciting, hard, confusing weeks. I’ve found myself getting really homesick and really struggling to feel at home here. I found myself lying awake at night and just crying about the littlest things. I really wasn’t prepared to feel like this. In fact, I was really annoyed with myself for feeling the way I did. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just be happy and content where I was.

Well I had applied for a couple of jobs and this Tuesday I got an email saying I had been hired to work at the Telefund for my school, calling alumni and talking about the school. As I read this email I suddenly burst into tears. The sort of relieved, joyful tears that you just can’t stop. I just sat in my room and cried for hours. I felt the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders. I knew that I had been stressed about finances and the thought of paying for college, but I didn’t realize how much it was affecting me. I didn’t realize how alone and stranded I was feeling.

One thing I really struggled with last semester and this summer was feeling like God had abandoned me. That he could hear me but didn’t care enough to respond. That he had somehow decided that I wasn’t worth his time or love. Things had begun to change at the end of the summer, but I think I was still dealing with the remnants of those feelings. This job did not come as an answer to prayers, because I’ll admit that I gave up on praying months ago, but it came as a gift: an answer to the terrified prayers I couldn’t speak.

Money has never been something I’ve concerned myself with, I just don’t typically worry about it. But since starting college every once in a while I will start to think about the amount of debt I have already and the fact that it is growing at this very moment and I want to throw myself in front of a train. I live in constant fear of running out of money to pay for school, rent, and food and having to drop out of college and die alone as an uneducated loser. It sounds dramatic, but these are the honest fears I have. These are the fears that are too real to talk about.

So as I’m reading this email saying I got this silly job and I’m sobbing I felt the warmest, gentlest hug I’ve ever felt in my life. I knew it was God’s promise to me that I’m not going to drop out and die alone, and that I’m not going to have to go through this alone. I know this year is going to be full of amazing and difficult things but I know I’m not alone.

I’ve been walking on air for the past couple of days. Everything has been beautiful and happy and I’m just so content in all areas of my life. It’s like I can breathe again. I’m so deeply blessed.

Love you always!

Abby

Faith. 80 to go…

This past Friday I went to Cru. Both of my parents were involved with Campus Crusade for Christ when they were in college. In fact, that’s how they met. That was the organization that sent my family to Turkey back in the day. It was an organization that had a large impact on my life as a child and continues to affect me, so when I was looking at colleges I really wanted a school that had a Cru movement. Well, I hadn’t gone to Cru since I’ve gotten to school until this past Friday.

It was fantastic! I had an absolutely marvelous time. We met in small groups and talked about the people who had the biggest impact on our lives (naturally, I talked about my fabulous and crazy best friend Meesh.) And then we sang.

If you know me, you know that I love to sing. I’m not great at it, but I love it. I think that Music points to our creator. It’s such a beautiful form of worship, to use what God has given you to praise him. And I just love to harmonize and sing with groups of people. It’s like letting your soul speak on its own. (maybe I’m just weird about it, but I just love it.) We sang one of my favorite songs which always reminds me of being at Challenge.

Your love never fails,
It never gives up
It never gives out on me.

In death, in life
I’m confident and covered by the power
Of your great love.

I love this song. I love the words, I love the melody and I love what it means to me and what it reminds me.

Then the speaker, Katie, gave an incredible talk about Jonah being a control freak. Remind me to write about her talk later, because it was fantastic. But today I need to write about something else. I was reading through old blog posts I wrote (I’m in the middle of tagging and categorizing all of my blog posts so that I can look through them more effectively. It turns out that three and a half years worth of almost daily blog posts is a lot to get through,) and I came across this post that I wrote after CORE Reaction this past year. This was something I had forgotten writing and forgotten feeling. But as I read the words that my seventeen year-old self had written I connected with them in a whole new way.

There was a reason I hadn’t gone to Cru until last week. There was a reason I hadn’t made it to church until my parents visited. It wasn’t because I didn’t have time, it wasn’t because I was busy, it was because I didn’t want to. I was so tired of feeling like I was stuck in this rut of going to church, like it was expected of me. I was running. Running from my parents, running from the tough discussions, running from the hard decisions, running from my fears, running from my closest friends, running from my beliefs and, above all, running from God.

I don’t know exactly why, but I know I was. I did a lot of things that I wouldn’t have previously because I was running so hard. I wanted to escape whoever it was that I thought I had been. I was doing what Jonah was doing, hearing what God wanted for me and taking off in the opposite direction. Not just avoiding God or hiding from him, but deliberately running away.

But here’s where those lyrics come back.

Your love NEVER fails
It NEVER gives up
It NEVER gives out on me.

In death, in Life
There’s NOTHING that could separate my heart
From your Great Love. 

There’s no running away from his unconditional, undying, unadulterated, unafraid, unapologetic, unending love. That is the promise. A promise that I cling to and trust in like no other.

Being at Cru reminded me of what it is I love about my friends and my church at home. It’s the community. The depth of relationship. The constant encouragement. Feeling like the people there care about you and get you.

I’m feeling my faith come alive again. Like I’m being reborn into something beautiful.

I want to thank you. My parents, Meesh, Anna, Gretchen, Emma, Cindy, Zach, Becca, Bethany, Sharon, Eyla, Tabitha and so many others. Over the past couple of weeks you have meant more to me than I could ever say. You’ve re-inspired my faith. You’ve supported and hugged and cared and listened and been better to me than I will ever deserve. And to Mike, Grace and Kelly: your support has been so different, but so important. You probably don’t even know, but just the little conversations we’ve had about faith have continued to strengthen my beliefs and have shown me that I couldn’t have picked better people to call my friends.

I love you!

Abby

It is well with my soul…

90 to go…

Life has been hard. It really has. I’ve made some mistakes and people have hurt my feelings and friends have been sick. It’s been difficult. But it is still good. I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m falling into friendships that are deeply meaningful and are very special. I’m keeping up with old friends.

“Whether or not I’ve got what I want, life keeps moving on.”

It’s incredible how much you can get to know someone in seven weeks, but the truth of the matter is that we aren’t just spending time together. We’re living together. We’re sharing life together. We’re learning together.

The funny thing about my friends here is that they don’t understand the way I keep up with my friends from home. I talk for hours on the phone with Meesh and Cindy and Penelope and so many more, and my friends can’t understand it. They want to know what we have to talk about for so long, and I never know what to tell them. The truth is that we just talk about life and catch up about what’s going on.

I have incredible friendships at home. Friendships that defy explanation. Friendships that defy reason. It’s because these people aren’t just my friends, they’re my life partners. The people who have been there through the good the bad and the ugly. I’m beyond thankful for them.

I’ve been learning a lot about worship. As a missionary kid and as a pastor’s kid it has always been expected that I would go to church every week and that there were certain organizations that I should be involved in. Not gonna lie, those expectations are kind of killing me. This pressure to continue to hold on to my parent’s religion. This is a time for me to find what faith means to me. And I am.

It’s fall here and the whole world is beautiful. The trees are orange and yellow and the air smells cleaner and the world seems brighter. I just sit in the grass sometimes and watch the cloud pass and am reminded that God just isn’t real, but he’s close. He’s all around. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the song God’s Great Dance Floor. 

I feel alive
I come alive
I am alive
On God’s great dance floor.

You never stop loving us,
No matter how far we run
You never give up on us.

I feel alive. I do. I feel it in me. Life that is. I feel life.

I wrote half of a post and then couldn’t write any more. So I started in the middle. I think I got it.

Love you. I really do.

Abby

Haiti. 109 to go…

So I’m back… I don’t know how to put into words how I felt about Haiti, but I’m going to try. This blog post is going to come to you in at least three parts, probably more. We’ll see when we get there.

Part 1: The Cripple
One of the hardest parts of being on this trip was being the cripple. I have a slipped disk in my lower back which makes sitting, bending and lifting very difficult. There were a lot of times where I wanted to be helpful, but I couldn’t because of my back. I felt like a brick around everyone’s neck. Something that had to be dragged along. That was awful. I had a couple of really rough mornings and days but the worst was Thursday night. I had taken my meds in the morning and had felt so good all day that I didn’t take anything that night. I was sitting with my dear friend Anna and playing with her hair when suddenly my whole back seized up and didn’t let go. It was the most intense and terrible pain I’ve ever had in my life. I immediately started crying and had to leave the room. I hobbled back to my room to get my medicine and my beautiful friend Courtney followed to see if she could help. I just hugged her and sobbed “I just want it to go away. I want the pain to go away.” I have never felt so helpless or desperate than in that moment.  Courtney just held me and prayed. I struggled all week to deal with my pain and to feel like I could be a helpful member of our team.

Part 2: Being Content
On our last full day in Haiti we went to the beach. Let me tell you: Haiti is the most beautiful place in the whole world. The mountains, the green valleys, the clear sky and the beautiful sunsets. But the beach was absolutely stunning. The water was a bright blue and as clear as glass. We swam out to this island that was probably 150 yards from the shore and you could sit in the water and just see everything. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I sat in the water with some of my team members and drank fresh passionfruit juice (which tastes like the dew off of heaven’s lillies.) It was the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life. I could have lived in that moment for the rest of my life. There would be moments on the trip where I would be completely satisfied. Moments where I was at peace and needed nothing. I don’t get those moments very often when I’m at home, or at least I thought I didn’t. I think those moments are more abundant than we imagine and we just fail to take advantage of them. Thats one thing I’ve learned: Live in the content-ness of life’s beautiful and simple moments.

Part 3: The Silly Things
Guys, Life, Stuff. These are the things that plague my mind, day and night. Often in that order. I’m so busy thinking about that cute boy who won’t notice me, or what I’m going to wear, or my family, or what I need for college, or any number of other silly things. I’ve noticed that even just since we got back. But you look at the people of Haiti: people with nothing left to lose, people living from day to day, people who own nothing more than the tarp over their heads and the clothes on their backs. You look at them and you suddenly realize how stupid you are. I’m counting calories to make my body “better” and they’re just trying to eat enough to survive. I’m stressing about that boy while they’re trying to decide who’s going to carry a 5 gallon bucket of water back to their house from the well. It puts our worries in their place. They are fully reliant on God to provide for them. What happened to my childlike faith that God could take care of me?

Part 4: My Team
The hardest part of coming home has been living “alone” again. Our team was the best. There was no drama, there was no weirdness, it was wonderful. I could have lived with them for the rest of my life. I miss our jokes. “IT WAS GOOD. IT WAS FUN.” I miss singing “Waka Waka” at random intervals and not really knowing the words. I miss making stupid comebacks. I miss showering under the stars and having someone to laugh with at the same time. I miss riding in the back of pickup trucks. I miss having carabiner time every evening. I miss the hugs. I miss laughing about bras. I miss trying to hit things with rocks. Mostly, I miss my team. So here are the things I didn’t get to say to my team.

Anna- It was an absolute blessing to have you on the team. I have been amazed to see how much you’ve grown over the past two months. You are such an encouragement to me and I know you’re always there for me. You have been with me through the hardest and happiest moments of my life. I couldn’t ask for a better friend than you.

Ashley- You are beautiful, kind, hilarious, caring and just wonderful. I have been so blessed to get to know you over the past couple of years and I am so thankful for you. I’m grateful for your honesty and your ability to be real. I could never truly say how much I love you.

Ben- You are so fun to be around. You’re always positive and always willing to help out. The way you listen to people is incredible and the way you interact with people is admirable. Watching you interact with the kids at VBS was so touching and it was a joy to have you around.

Courtney- Your energy is so amazing. You could brighten any situation with your humor, your smile and your hugs. You have no idea how much it meant to me when you just hugged me and prayed. I will never forget that. You are a bright spot in every day and I’m deeply blessed to know you.

Erika- We joke about being the same person, but it’s so true. You understand so much of what I’ve been through and you communicate that through the way you listen to people and encourage them. I can’t believe how old you’re gotten, but I’m so proud of how far you’ve come.

Monica- I am so glad you were in Haiti with us. You have such a bright and unique spirit that brings something new and important to every conversation you’re in. You were so necessary and the whole team benefited because you were there.

Nathan- I cannot say thank you enough. Thank you for being a senior guy worth looking up to. Thank you for being real and honest. You bring the sunshine with you wherever you go and you have a positive impact on everyone around you. You’re hilarious, kind, thoughtful and all around great. I can’t express how grateful I am for you.

Tabitha- You are so freaking amazing. You are such a trooper and your attitude is absolutely contagious. You have become such an amazing woman of God and I’m thankful for you every day. You have encouraged me more than you know and your hugs have made many days for me. Thanks girl.

All in all, my trip was amazing. I wish I was still there. But I think I’ve got so much to process and implement here. This week has changed my life.

Love you!

Abby

So I’m going to Haiti. 110 to go…

I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but I’m going to Haiti. Now. I’m leaving in one hour. Crazy right?

I think that it will be really good for me. I need to get out of here and I need a revival. I need something. I don’t know quite what it is that I need, but I know that I need something. Maybe I need passion. Something to remind me what I’m doing here on this planet. A push towards my Great Perhaps.

I don’t know what this trip holds for me, but I think I’m ready. I have an amazing team going with me and I have a more amazing God by my side.

I won’t be able to blog for the week that I’m gone, but please keep me in mind and in your prayers. It’s going to be hot and tiring and draining, but I need this.

I love you all so much!!!

Abby

Sunshine for Monica.167 to go…

I thought that I should share this with you because I believe it is so true. This is in response to a blog post by my beautiful friend Monica.

Oh Monica, I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes the world is bright and beautiful and other days I just want it all to be over. I don’t know much about anything, but I know this: every tunnel has to end. Those periods of darkness can last weeks or even months, but the sun will always come back out. I often find it hard to feel like God is near me and I easily fall into the trap of believing that I am alone. But life has proven to me time and time again that I am never truly alone. I have incredible friends who have stuck with me through every hard moment, I have parents who are supportive and loving, and most importantly I have a God who is my sun. You can’t see the sun in the darkness and it is hard to feel like It’s even still there, but with the morning comes the sun and he reminds me that just because I couldn’t see him didn’t mean that he wasn’t there. He was keeping me warm and keeping me alive through the darkest and loneliest nights. I love you and I am always here when you need a hug or a shoulder to cry on. I know It’s hard, but keep breathing Sunshine, the world is a beautiful place.

Love you!

Abby

Body temple thing. 217 to go…

So, for my senior project I am writing, directing and acting in a series of skits. The production is called The Fifth and I’ve spent so much time thinking about it that it is nuts. My dear friend Elya and I meet every Tuesday to throw around ideas and go through this book We’ve been reading. Today we read through Ephesians to come up with an out line for The Fifth, and I was struck by a couple of things.

God created our bodies to be a temple. A temple that He lives in and that he uses to further his kingdom. That kind of makes you rethink your body doesn’t it? I start to think about all the hate I have towards my body and the number of times I have blamed God for shaping me the way he did. I’m so quick to find fault. But God didn’t just create my body as a temple, but everybody else’s as well. Think about that the next time you objectify a woman’s body or call someone fat or ugly. You are disrespecting the house and creation of God. And that’s kind of a big deal.

Thoughts for the day.

Random Fact of the Day- flossing once a day can increase your life span by up to ten years… Madness.

Love you!

Abby