Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunny Days

Today was amazing, and it was nothing short of a miracle. Today, I felt almost like myself. I honestly have not felt this good in 20 days. There was no real reason for it that I could find.

First, I didn't completely dread getting out of bed. I might even have slept through most of the night- not sure about that, though. I distinctly remember being up quite a few times.

And then, I was around people...and I handled it surprisingly well. I didn't go running off to the bathroom to hide. I still didn't look anyone in the eye, but it's a start.

I didn't hide out all day. After I went to Target to return some faulty Pyrex, I chose to go over to Wal-Mart and see if they had any that I liked to replace the set I just returned. And you know what? It was pretty crowded. But I was ok. I even went around the whole store and didn't feel like I needed to escape.

And I actually got schoolwork done! And laundry! And everything got folded and put away, too! I started losing steam before I got around to unpacking and cleaning everything, but that'll get taken care of in time.

I had so much more energy today than I've had in 20 days. I even went for a run and did a short workout with free-weights to use some of the energy. I felt more like myself than I have in awhile.

Just to show you how much like myself I was today, let me show you a few things: 

My shiny new(to me) mixer. Isn't it gorgeous? I finally felt like using it!

 And yes. Feeling like myself also means having a desire to be in the kitchen.

Confession time: It was a box mix. But I did make the frosting from scratch! And anyway, it's all about starting back somewhere.

I'm still diving into the Word and spending huge chunks of time in prayer. I'm not anywhere near healed yet, but maybe this is a start. I know that I have wonderful people who are praying for me, and that might be part of the difference. After all, Matthew 18:20 says For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them. How awesome is that?

Still clinging to His promise.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


If you've been paying attention to (or reading) my last posts, you probably know that there are things in my life that are not going how I had ever imagined they would, or how I had ever planned. Please know that I am trying so very hard to keep myself buried in the Lord, and positive, and I am trying so hard to not let it interfere with my daily life.

I don't think I'm doing a very good job. I will be totally and completely honest right now. Even though I know this isn't true, and even though I am crying out to Him so frequently and so desperately, and even though I know that He is always near, I've been feeling like God is far away from me; that He's distanced Himself from me. And if He would choose to do that, I certainly wouldn't blame Him. I am an ugly person, and I can be downright hateful. I could list a host of other reasons, but I don't feel like being that honest with myself. With you, yes. With myself? No. Because today, I can't handle that kind of honesty, or those kinds of thoughts.

But I got distracted. Regrouping...

Like I was saying, I haven't been doing a good job at moving forward. In fact, I've been doing an awful job at it. My current goal is just to make it through each day, and it is a struggle. I'm always feeling like I'm about to burst into tears at any given moment. And a lot of the time, I do. This week, I even had to get up and walk out of a class because I couldn't keep myself together.

Right now, I feel like I'm wearing a mask or leading some sort of a double life (or trying to, anyway).

In one life, or with my mask on, I go about my day as normally as I can. I don't talk to anyone more than absolutely necessary. I go directly from Point A to Point B with zero detours. No passing Go, no collecting $200. I stick to my routine, with no improvisations or exceptions.

I exist, and I survive. And then I repeat.

And in the other life, the one without the mask, I don't leave my apartment. I don't listen to music. I practice for my lessons, but I don't listen to the radio. I don't sleep. I read my Bible, and I pray, and I cry. I pretend that I'm okay being by myself, and I pretend that nothing bad has happened. I do my homework, I keep my living space clean, and I try to convince myself that this doesn't change anything.

I'm obviously not doing a good job of living right now.

Because every single day, I get a reminder that things are not as they should be. Every day, I have to make sure I have a pack of tissues in my purse.

Every day, I have to live with myself. And when I don't like the person that I am, I try to change that. But I don't have the energy.

So, here I am. Sitting in a Starbucks, exhausted after attending workshops and conferences all day, and whining to the Internet because I don't want to annoy the people who know what's going on in real life. And after I leave here, I'm going back to my hotel, where I will go to bed and try to get some sleep for tomorrow.

Because tomorrow, I get to do it all again.

Tomorrow, I will be surrounded by people, but still be separate.

Tomorrow, I will focus on keeping a straight face, a strong face.

Tomorrow, I will get through the day.

And I just keep telling myself that every time I make it to the end of another day, that just marks my being one day closer to accepting. Countless prayers closer to giving it all to the Lord. And that much closer to giving Him the burden that I'm not strong enough to carry on my own.

Because right now, it's buried me. It's knocked me down, and I can't get up. That doesn't mean that I'm not trying. It just means that I am weak, and that I am still trying to move forward.

So for now, I'm going to go back to my room, and I'm going to pray. And read the Bible. And pray some more. And listen for God. And keep listening, because I know He has not and will not leave me in this mess by myself.

Thankful Thursdays: Week 4

It's been a long week, so this week's Thankful Thursday will be pretty short and to the point.

Some of the things I'm thankful this week are:

God. He promises that He will not abandon me, and I cannot tell you how tightly I am clinging to that promise these days. He knows exactly what I need, and never fails to provide.

Mitch. I've been away at school for only two weeks, but I am already counting down the days until I get to see him again. I miss him a whole awful lot.

Krysta. This sweet girl is such an encouragement.

Sara. I am so thankful for her loving spirit, and for the time and energy that she invests in the college class, and in me.

Ashley. Once again, this girl is so sweet, and I am going to miss her so much when she goes to school in China. Which is happening in about 2.5 weeks.

A working car. I do a lot of driving each week, and it would be a lot harder to get around if my car was not functioning. I also happen to enjoy the fact that the heater works.

Sunshine. Even when circumstances in my life aren't what I would consider beautiful, the sun still shines and shares its beauty.

What are some of the things you're thankful for?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ask, and Ye Shall Receive

Remember the other day when I wrote that I had started asking God to show me just how big and marvelous He is? And how He had begun responding the very next morning? Well, He didn't stop there.

God went on to remind me (and to make sure that I knew) that He has a plan for me. Oh man. I don't know why, but for some reason, when I asked God to show me how big He is, I wasn't expecting Him to begin right away. And this next thing will sound crazy, but I was also expecting Him to be more subtle. Crazy Emily, thinking like that.

This morning was probably the toughest Sunday morning I've had so far, for the sole reason that God was working in me and for me. My church has been doing a series called "Orange", and this week's sermon was titled "Pruning". In it, Pastor talked about how even though it's painful, God has to prune us so that we can bear better fruit, and also more of it. He talked about how it's during the difficult, painful, and unpleasant times of our lives that God is pruning us.

As soon as the sermon started, I knew that it was for me. I knew that God had masterminded this morning. He had allowed Sunday School to get out late, so that I would have to sit in the front during the service, so that I didn't have the option of "going to get some fresh air" a.k.a. running away once I realized what the message was. And even though it hurt, and it brought my pain right to the surface once again, I sat there, and I listened. I cried, and I recognized that God was reaching out to me yet again, showing me how Awesome, Magnificent, and Big He is, and also how much He cares for me. Even when I'm still struggling and trying to not feel anger towards Him.

So, here are the notes I took. They're not as good as listening to the actual sermon, but I'll see if I can post a link to it once it goes up on my church's website.

1. God's plan requires pruning.
       --hang onto Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." -ESV
           -->note: if you're working toward's His purpose, all things will come together for His good. If you're not, it may still feel like random bad things are happening to you.
       --The goal of the vinedresser (God) is not our comfort, but our fruit-bearing.
       --The pain is not just random pains, but God will allow your heart to break.

2. Surviving the Pain
       --here, Pastor referenced the story of Joseph in Genesis
       --I need to be SO convinced that God has a plan for me, and HOLD ON TO THAT so tightly, no matter what!
       --If God's plan for me includes pain, I need to pray to accept it and do my best to cooperate.
           --> When I'm against the pain and fighting it, I'm fighting with the sovereign God, and I will get nowhere.
       --God allowing me pain is NO REASON to turn away from Him and towards sin.
       --Only thing I can do is SURRENDER. Challenges won't cease, but patience and peace will increase.

3. Pruning is about Focus
     --“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”  -Alexander Graham Bell
     --1 Corinthians 12:18 "But as is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose." -ESV
          --> God placed me just as He pleased, and just where He pleased. He has a reason for all of this.

You know, I am a planner. I feel more secure when I have a plan and when I know exactly what is going on and everything involved. I know in my head that I need to start giving that up, and I'm trying to put it into practice. During the invitation, I talked (sobbed) to some of my sweet friends, and eventually said what is probably the first sensible thing I've said in ages.

I know that I'm a planner by nature, and I feel like I always need to have a solid plan. Often we ask God to reveal His plan to us, so that we might know how He is shaping us, or why He is shaping our circumstances in a certain way. But honestly, I am realizing that I really don't want to know "the Plan". 

Not only will it be too big for me to fathom, it would also put too much pressure on me, and I would be tempted to change the things that I didn't like. I would mess it up and feel horrible when I did. I am human, and it is not my place to know things like that. Even though I sometimes think that I want to.

Right now, my prayer is that God will shape my heart. I pray that He will help me to love Him more and better, and that He will continue to help me grow my faith. Because I need Him, so desperately, and He is the only one who can heal my heart and bring me through the trials that are yet to come.

Matthew 21:22 "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." -ESV

Friday, January 20, 2012

Show Me.

I feel like I'm full of words today. This is really strange, because for the past week and a half, I've been in a fog, just sort of being a shell. Most of the time, I've been seconds away from crying, and not necessarily for any reason. I haven't been sleeping. I've been quiet. I've been angry. I've been distracted. And I have really not been myself. In all honesty, I haven't been in a good place.

But good things have been happening in the midst of (and in spite of) my circumstances.

Last night, I grabbed Starbucks (decaf for me) with a friend that I hadn't seen since finals week. Erin is a good friend, supportive, loving, a strong Christian, and someone that I admire in general. She is sweet and real, and I enjoy every minute that I spend with her. So, on our coffee date, Erin and I were catching up, sharing our whines and shines since this past December. I told her about what I've been going through lately (aka my current circumstances), and how I just feel abandoned.

Because here's the thing. I know Christ as my Savior. I'm saved. I strive everyday to become more like Him. I know that God has a plan for my life, and that all things come together for His Glory. I know that He loves me more than I could ever fathom. I know that all of my trust should be in Him, no matter what. And I want it to be, so badly.

But at the same time, I'm struggling. I feel like I've fallen and don't have the strength to get up again. Because a week and a half ago, I found out that something that I always thought would be part of my future, something I dreamed of and looked forward to, might not be.  My mind raced through countless possibilities of why this might have been given to me. I wondered if God had given me this situation so that my family might recognize and be moved to seek Him (as I have so often prayed for them to do.) My mind raced over countless possibilities, and I grew increasingly anxious. My frustration grew, and it seemed like a huge chasm had opened and separated me from the rest of the world, from the people I love. I became mired down and caught in a fog. I felt robbed and cheated. I was (and still am) overwhelmed. But worst of all? I felt like I had been abandoned.

Have you ever felt like that before? Felt so isolated and alone, so hurt and empty that even though you knew better, you wondered, for just a fraction of a second, if God had turned His back on you? It's the lowest feeling in the world. We're talking lower than the center of the Earth, here.

So here I am, sitting in Starbucks and pouring my heart out to Erin, and sharing my pain. Because I so desperately wanted someone to understand. There were tears- plenty of them, even. And you know what Erin did? I'll tell you first what she didn't do. She didn't criticize me. She didn't throw Scriptures of me and wash her hands of me. She didn't tell me that my faith wasn't big enough. She didn't act like my feelings and my problems were insignificant. And most importantly, she didn't even try to pretend that she's never been hurt or frustrated in her faith before.

You want to know what Erin did, though? She offered me encouragement. She sympathized. She let me be stupid and cry. She let me have time. And she offered me advice. Real advice, though. Like, things that have worked for her. And she told me how she got through her dark times. She didn't tell about those times in an attempt to downsize my situation, but she said it all in a loving way so that I might learn from her trial and error process while fumbling through my own mess. Eventually, we got around to the truths of God and who He is, and just taking time to focus on who He is (one of the things that has helped her). And then, Erin said something that caught me by surprise.

She suggested that I ask God to show me just how big, and just how awesome and powerful He is. Because He wants to impress me and love on me.

She said other wise things, but it's not all sorted out in my head yet. But I can tell you that I had never thought of asking God to show me how awesome He is before. So you know what?

I went home, and I did. I asked God to show me how big He was, because I want to focus on that instead of how big my problem is. I didn't ask Him to prove that He is God-- I already knew that, and I do know that. Instead, I was asking Him to just show me. I didn't ask for instant healing, but instead to see Him, and for Him to show me just how wrong I was, and how amazing He is.

And He did.

This morning when I woke up, there was an email in my inbox from a blog that I follow. That's not necessarily anything unusual-- I get tons of emails about new posts from the many blogs I follow. But this email, this post was something different. It had "Here I am" written all over it. I've tried journaling before with my Bible reading and prayer time, but never had much success. But the SOAP method seems like something that I can do, and that I can keep up with and be consistent with.

It may not seem like much, but I felt God answering me in that. And I am so looking forward to the other ways that He chooses to show me just how big and magnificent He is. Because I want to stop telling God how big my problems are.

Instead, I want to tell my problems-show them, even-how big and marvelous my God is.

I'm not expecting things to magically turn around. If God wills it, then it will be so. But I'm not asking Him for that. Instead, I'm asking Him to keep showing me. And I know that through this, my faith will be made stronger. I know that He will use my pain for something so wonderful that I couldn't even begin to imagine.

For now, I'm going to do what I should have done a long time ago. I'm going to take things one day at a time. Plan as little as possible. And pray constantly. And day by day, by the grace of my Savior, I will get through. Because He has not abandoned me, and He never will.

A Week in my Kitchen

This week, I got to spend time in the kitchen. This week's kitchen-time has been all about making "real" food, but I have some other, not-suitable-for-dinner recipes lined up that I want to try. So, here are some of my adventures from this week. Nothing fancy, mind you, but it was good food, and it filled me up.

On Monday night, I made my very first pizza from scratch! I got the recipe for the dough here from Annie's Eats, and I loved it. I also loved that her instructions involve the use of a stand mixer (which I just got for Christmas!!).The recipe makes enough for two pizzas, so I have the other half in my freezer for the next time I'm hankerin' for some good pizza. The toppings are pretty simple, as I chose to make my favorite pizza. [For future reference, it's Hawaiian pizza. :) Plenty of pineapple and ham.]

*By the way, the pizza also reheats well.

This probably doesn't really count as a kitchen adventure, but it is something that I whipped (well, blended) up several times this week. What you see in this cup is my version of a green smoothie. What's in it, you ask? Well, it's pretty simple. Here's my go-to recipe:

Basic Green Smoothie (yields about 4 cups)
     -a few handfuls of baby spinach
     -1 large orange, peeled and segmented
     -1 banana, cut into pieces
     -about 1 cup of blueberries
     -1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
     -1 cup skim milk
     -a few handfuls of ice cubes.

Just throw it all in the blender, and start it up! This usually makes a LOT of smoothie. We're talking about 4 cups worth here, depending on the size of your fruit and the amount of ice you use. I've been separating it into two 16-ounce servings, with one for right then and the other going into the refrigerator for the next day, but you could easily split it into four servings and either share them or freeze/refrigerate them for later.

*Don't worry, you don't actually taste the spinach. It just makes everything green and adds tons of vitamins. I'm actually hoping that by drinking these, I will get over this miserable cold faster!

This was tonight's dinner. I didn't make the pesto spread, but aside from that, I got the recipe for this Turkey Bagel Burger from The Pioneer Woman, aka Ree Drummond. Have I mentioned how much I love her? Because I do. I am enamored with her. And even though she uses entirely too much butter (have I mentioned that I think butter is kind of disgusting?), I am convinced that she can do no wrong in the kitchen. The second season of her show on Food Network premiered last Saturday, and I missed it because I am a dum-dum. For some reason, I forgot that when she said it would be on at 10 a.m., that she was referring to Eastern time. For me, it was on at 9 a.m. Alas, I missed it. But I will not be missing it tomorrow morning! I set several alarms just in case. (Side note: The Pioneer Woman was also on Paula's Best Dishes this evening. Paula and Ree on the same show, in the same episode? I was simply beside myself.) Anyway, before I let my love for the Pioneer Woman get me sidetracked, I was talking about my dinner. A simple turkey burger (recipe linked above) on an everything bagel (I used a Thomas Bagel-Thin), with the toppings I had in my refrigerator. The mess on the right side of the plate is just some onions, mushrooms, and green pepper that I cooked up.

In other Pioneer Woman news, I had ordered her cookbook last week, and UPS brought it to me on Tuesday! I was so excited. I am definitely itching to try my hands at making her cinnamon rolls, along with just about everything else she included (most of it with drastic reductions in the amount of butter used). But just like any other reasonable woman, I have priorities. And those cinnamon rolls are definitely a priority!

Tuesday night, I made a baked pasta dish from the Taste of Home website. I'm still undecided about whether or not I liked it enough to share it. I'll probably make that decision after I reheat some for tomorrow's dinner, and we'll see if it's photogenic enough to post about.

After just those three recipes, I am set on food for quite awhile once you factor in that I eat simple sandwiches every day for lunch. Yay for having a full freezer!

*Please pardon the pictures in this post. They were all taken with my cell phone (not the smart variety).

Thankful Thursdays: Back to School Edition

Well, somehow I managed to miss my actual Thursday posting again. I've kind of been in a fog this week, and I'm hoping it's just from lack of sleep and that I'm not actually getting sick. Without any further ado,  here we go!

This week, some of the things I have been thankful for include:

God's grace.


My friends.

Coffee. And any form of caffeine.

Being back in Springfield.

A working car.

And today, I am thankful that I don't have class until 8:30 on Fridays. (I got to sleep in!)

What are some of the things that you've been thankful for this week?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursdays: Week 2

In all honesty, I did not want to write this post today. I wanted to just pretend that I hadn't committed myself to sharing the things I am thankful for each week. If you're actually reading this and haven't already tuned out, you might be wondering, "Why, Emily?" Well, however flawed, here are my reasons:

I'm angry, hurting, and feeling isolated. I am fed up with doctors and anything medically-related. I'm finding out that God's plan for me just may be something different than what I thought, and I feel robbed. Cheated. And angry. I know that God's plan is perfect, and that He has something better for me, but that is a really hard concept to grasp right now.

Now that I have that out in the open, I'm going to take a short break from my pity-party and share some of the things I'm thankful for this week.

I am thankful for my beautiful friend, Kaitlyn. Even though we live very far apart, I know she is there for me. I miss her all the time, and I am so thankful that our friendship has endured both teh years and the distance.

I'm thankful for my Grandma. Even though she drives me crazy sometimes, I still enjoy the chances that I get to sit down with her and just chat about anything and everything.

I'm thankful for my sweet friend Ashley (the one in the middle). Just last night, she texted me at the perfect time. I wish we got to spend more time together, but I know we're going to make the most of our time before she leaves to go to school in China.

And I am definitely thankful for Mitch. Right now, he's on his way to pick me up so I can go to yet another medical appointment. He has been nothing but supportive of me, and it has helped so much.

Well, that just about wraps it up for this week. Tune in next Thursday, and I'll *try* to keep this blog a pity-party-free zone in the future.

Until next time, I'm curious: What are you thankful for?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thankful Thursdays: A Day Late

Remember last weekend when I said that I was going to start posting every week and sharing some of the things I was thankful for? Well, it seems that I'm already slacking. I had every intention of posting yesterday, but life got in the way. (Maybe someday when I'm way past it and it's somehow become a funny story, I'll share it with you. Until then, just know that it was not a good day.)

So, without further ado, here are some of the things that I have been thankful for this week:

-God. His mercies, His Faithfulness, His Power, the list could just go on forever.

-Mitch. That boy is so good to me.

-family. When we're not all yelling, we can actually have a pretty good time.

-coffee. Man oh man, I don't know what I would have done without coffee this week. Between coffee dates and just needing caffeine, it helped pull everything together.

-A car that heats up quickly. Remember that time when Missouri actually had winter for a few days? Yeah, it was nice to stay warm.

We know what I'm thankful for this week, so now it's your turn. What are you thankful for?

Half of mine aren't the most serious things in the world, but if you're constantly focusing on the huge elements of life, then you miss the little joys of the everyday. Here's to finding joy, having a grateful heart, and [hopefully] a more on-time Thankful Thursday post next week!

Until then,