- traveled to 1 new country and 1 new state
- read only about 10 books
- took 33 university credit hours
- worked what felt like a million hours at the dance store
- watched 219 episodes of Criminal Minds (obviously my proudest accomplishment this year)
February: Moved into my new apartment! The Lord rescued me from a really unhealthy living situation at just the right time. As weird as it was to move mid-semester, it was necessary and I love where I live now. I got the worst haircut of my life this month.
Found out about my internship in Scotland: My fiancee, J, was on the board that placed me on my Scotland missions team, talk about a conflict of interest. 😉
Spring 2015: The spring flew by! I continued to struggle daily with anxiety and was eventually diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder. I chose to fight anxiety with counseling, medication, and a determination to find my “zen,” where I finally found balance in my life.
Finished my term at Carolina’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) as the missions fundraiser. In this role I found a love for creative event planning and an even greater love for missions. I believe all Christian Believers are called to love others and share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ coming to Earth to take our punishment for our sins. I love being part of people’s journeys to love others better and share with others about their faith.
May: Left for Glasgow, Scotland! Dreams do come true! I moved to Scotland for the summer! I worked with a great team to share the Gospel message. I lived in a nice flat with the sweetest girl named Fayla, also an American university student.
June: Fayla and I visited Edinburgh and realized we loved Glasgow a whole lot more! We celebrated American National Donut Day by eating our weight in Devon Doughnuts at Greggs, Fayla got her third tattoo by the awesome Leslie, we visited Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle, we met our sweet friend K (an American living in North Africa), and visited countless museums. This is when I rediscovered my love for yoga. By the end of the month I too, had a tattoo– something I never thought I would say!
July: This was my second American Independence Day spent abroad (2012’s holiday was spent in Paris) and we celebrated all weekend long with s’mores on the balcony, board games, late night drives through Glasgow looking at the city lights, and a US Women’s National Soccer Team win in the 2015 Women’s World Cup! I went to the IPC Swimming Championship and St Andrews to see the Old Course right before the 2015 British Open. Fayla and I ended July with a whirlwind day trip to London! A quick trip to Largs, Scotland to end the month.
August: Back Stateside and it felt very bittersweet. Glasgow instantly felt like home and I would love to go back. My family spent the first week at the beach and I celebrated turning 22 at the seashore. J and I were reunited, which felt so good! I started my senior year of university.
September: I started speaking about my time in Scotland, which really helped me process my time there and how far God had brought me in my faith and my own personal growth into a more kind and confident person.
October: SC Flood! My city suffered devasting flooding and my university was closed for a week. I saw wonderful acts of kindness and a national out-pouring of love for my small city. My baby sister turned 19! I went to Texas for the first time during my fall break and I fell in love with the work of Roman Vishniac at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
November: School stress really got to me as I tried to figure out which path to take concerning future plans. J and I got engaged, which is so exciting! We celebrated Thanksgiving together with my family. I bought my wedding dress at a charity event for $200!
December: J and I traveled all over SC spending time with friends and celebrating the Christmas season. I become obsessed with handlettering. J and I went to the Nutcracker Ballet (for free!). I finished my fall semester of my senior year. I started wedding planning and discovered I wish I could elope. I’ve applied to seminary for the fall of 2016.
There’s still a few days before Christmas and I’m now home for the holidays and my parents’ house. Here’s to making the end of 2015 count, with time spent with family!
God has brought be so far from where I was in the beginning of the year. He’s blessed me abundantly by answering prayers and providing for me in ways that I did not even know I needed providing.
The year of 2015 was exciting! And 2016 looks to bring even more excitement and changes! Up next: last semester of college, more wedding planning, graduating university, getting married, moving?, and hopefully more blog posts. 😛
Yesterday I sent Christmas cards to friends all over the world. They came from Target (of course) and are so very sparkly. Writing and mailing them got me thinking about how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends.
That led me to reflect on how far God can bring a person in a year.
This time last year my generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) was starting to eat me alive. It was just the beginning. To be honest, I don’t remember much of last fall and winter– it’s blacked out.
But I do remember how wonderfully my friends and family supported me. Not everyone understood it (most people don’t) but my friends know and understand me. They carried me when my anxiety was crippling and managed things for me so I could spend time focusing on getting better. That’s such a blessing. Not everyone has that support.
I finally got a hold of my anxiety disorder in the spring and I went on to Scotland. It was here that I realized the importance of community.
I had to leave the comfort of my community to realize how important community is while walking with Christ. In Scotland, I knew a handful of Christians and between them and me there was so much love. It’s because of love that I was able to overcome struggles like the darkest part of my anxiety disorder, Christ’s love for me, learning to love myself, and love from my people.
And that’s why I send cards for holidays and normal days: because it’s important to claim your people and tell them you love them.
This past weekend J and I went to Summerville, SC to stay with his best friends, Robbie and Meg. I was just meeting them for the first time after hearing lots of good things about them. They immediately welcomed me because in their eyes, I already belong to J and J is one of their people.
If you know anything about anxiety disorders, you may know that it is often incredibly difficult for a person who struggles with anxiety to meet new people and stay with people they don’t know well, away from home (away from their own bed!) overnight.
But I went for it! We went to Early Bird Diner in West Ashley for a late dinner (I recommend the pancakes and the Nutella ice cream) and then to see the lights on James Island. The next day, the girls enjoyed a Pinterest craft party and brunch, while the guys enjoyed burgers and football.
J sent me a text from across the living before leaving for lunch to ask if I would be okay without him, left with strangers in a strange apartment, for a few hours. He knows me so well! And I was okay with it. Robbie and Meg are so sweet. That’s Godly hospitality if you can instantly make someone feel welcomed like a friend.
J and I later talked about how much God has moved in my life this past yea in regards to me being generally less anxious and more friendly. By getting my anxiety disorder under control, I can now open up to people, something that before took a really long time. This sense of community is so important to me. God has really rescued me from a very unsafe situation (the initial trigger) and brought to light what it looks like to let go of anxiety and walk into the light.
For a long time, probably soon after J and I became friends, he became a bit of a security blanket. He made me feel safe and has always been hyper-aware of me and what I may need. When I didn’t want to attend events and the anxiety was taking over, I would tell myself, “J will be there, so I’ll be fine.” He’s always been my person.
So for him to ask if I would be okay if he left to spend time with his best friend, while leaving me with Meg & friends, who I’ve just met, and it not even phase me was HUGE. God surrounds us with just the right people at just right the time.
In Mark 12:31, Jesus commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself,” He says this after telling the crowd that the most important command is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29).
The second most important command is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no greater commandment than these (Mark 12: 31).
YIKES. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I love my neighbors, those around me, even when it’s difficult. I love living in community. I’m the first to send a greeting card, have people over for a festive party, and always up for conversation. That’s how I show love.
But I fall down on actually loving myself. It’s really easy for me to be a friend to others, but I’m not always a friend to myself. There are days when I say things to myself that I would never say to anyone.
The other night, J and I were horsing around, as usual. No one can make me belly-laugh harder. But that’s where the problem comes in: when his hand grazed my stomach through my t-shirt, I instinctively pulled away.
That’s the spot where I’m most insecure. It started with just feeling self-conscious in a swimsuit, but now I’m to the point where I won’t even let someone who loves me deeply even accidently graze my stomach.
He brought it up and promised to love me through it, reminding me how he finds me beautiful– on the physical level and on an emotional/spiritual level.
He was telling me something kind and beautiful, but it wasn’t enough. I’ve undermined how I think about how beautiful the Lord created me with thoughts about how self-conscious I am about how my stomach isn’t perfectly flat.
I read a very timely blog post by Soul Scripts (http://thesoulscripts.com/?offset=1448125611784) and I began to repent and pray.
Things got better for a bit until it came up again. J, always gentle with me, told me how beautiful he finds me. And my immediate thought was, “well as long as he finds me beautiful, that’s enough.”
NO!!! THAT’S A TRAP! I instantly regretted thinking that– perhaps it came as a spiritual attack.
My worth is in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ alone I find my worth. The Lord created me in His image for good purposes. How am I supposed to listen to Him and carry out those good purposes when all I hear in my brain is negative thoughts about how much I don’t love myself?
God has surrounded me with people that love me just the way I am; they are carrying out the command to love their neighbors. I’m really working on accepting their love and accepting the command to love myself.
I like to give to others. I can give to them my full attention when I stop playing a soundtrack that sounds like, “Enough with the cookies, you’re stomach isn’t flat enough, cover up, don’t believe the nice things people say…” What a distraction and a waste of energy, kind of like leaving your iPod on all day while you try to do something else.
My body is not perfect. Even if I had six-pack abs, I would still find fault. But my feet follow the Lord’s calling in my life, my knees will bow, my arms lift in worship, my eyes look for opportunities to give and evidence of Christ, my ears are alway ready to listen, I try to use my mouth to speak kind words.