To feel or not to feel…

boy hiding behind tree

How do I feel right now? I feel content. I feel relaxed. I feel fairly blessed right now. I also felt, not too long ago this morning, compelled to share my emotions and appreciation with a dear friend of mine. It was not the first time I had done this, nor will it probably be the last. I opened up about how he has showed me nothing but compassion and a brotherly love. I reassured him that he has been rather constant and consistent amidst all else going on. He has been a great friend. Of course, immediately after sending those words of affirmation and the euphoric emotions had worn off from wanting to share with him, I almost had regret sharing with him how I felt. Why? Because it means I was vulnerable…a word many of us do not like or care to use or even hear.

I can speak for myself when I say my vulnerability and openness in the past has left me feeling empty, alone, afraid, broken, and feelings I fail to describe here.

The word “vulnerable” originates from the Latin word vulnerabilis or vulnerare, which means “wounding” or “to wound.”

This one word holds so much meaning. Being said, it is no wonder my default (and possibly I am describing you as you read this) is to immediately apologize or perhaps begin to “shell up” or “run away” from someone I am being vulnerable to.

It is a beautiful quality, to be open and vulnerable. But it is also prudent to do so while entrusting your heart to Our Lady. After all, her own heart was pierced when she witnessed her own Son laying His life down for us.

Why Our Lady? Great question. (:

Because she is our mother, too! Yes, she is your mother. Maybe you are reading this and do not quite understand or believe in praying or looking up to Mary. Or maybe it is difficult to comprehend and accept. I am still learning, myself! Maybe you do not know what it is like to have a mother. I lost my own mother when I was seven years old. It is okay to have these doubts and thoughts. Just know you do have a mother who loves you and desires to protect you from the evil one. She can protect our heart with a mother’s love not even our own earthly mother can do (don’t get me wrong – I respect our mothers on earth, for they bore us in their wombs…Psalm 139:13-16). She crushed the serpent’s head! But most importantly, if you do not get anything from this post, please get this:

Mary can bring our wounded and broken hearts to her Son, to be healed and loved.

One of my favorite images is from The Passion where Mary runs, she literally drops everything, to go pick up Jesus when he fell.

mary and jesus.jpg

And she will do that for you, too! It also reminds us to be child-like in trusting our Lord. Hence, the picture I chose of the child hiding behind a tree, above. (; Think of a child and how vulnerable they must be to trust in those who care for him. And think about how much more vulnerable one can get than being mocked and nailed to a cross??? Jesus knows. He understands. He wants us to run to Him as His child.

Be vulnerable. It’s okay. It may involve and will involve getting hurt at times. “Then why be vulnerable?” Because it allows us to be realgenuine, and to feel alive. You can do it. I am not saying you should go share anything and everything with the next stranger you pass on the street…but I am saying, it is okay to be real and raw, especially with someone you can open up to. Remember, it does take time, but it is worth it. I will leave you to read and soak in these few quotes about vulnerability, below:

“I understand now that the vulnerability I’ve always felt is the greatest strength a person can have. You can’t experience life without feeling life. What I’ve learned is that being vulnerable to somebody you love is not a weakness, it’s a strength” Elizabeth Shue.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable” C.S. Lewis.

To feel or not to feel…that is the question…

Em

Accepting Change for a Change

change aheadA fair warning: This is a lengthy blog of an awkward teen who is trying to get her point across in an unnecessarily long story, that hopefully inspires someone out there. Enjoy. (:

I believe we have all had our fair share of trying to convince ourselves of something (positive or negative) only to discover that the outcome turned out completely different, perhaps maybe even quite opposite of the original thought. In other words, there are and will be times when we believe something to be true about ourselves and then realize our perceptions were a little off or somewhat distorted. For example, my 8-yr-old self believed she was a mermaid instantly once she hit the literally “breath-taking” ice-cold water at the pool on those hot, Georgian summer days, only to realize her tail was in fact two (not one), quite separate (but useful)…legs. Okay, so that was a bit of a stretch for an example…but on a more serious note, my now 19-yr-old self has come to the realization that change is not just about a chemical reaction in the oven (once dough has turned into a beautiful grease-dripping pizza…please excuse my typical Hobbit-like hunger at 2:30 in the morning…), or even getting three inches of hair chopped off my head, but that change is the definition of life itself.

They say you learn a lot about yourself in this beautiful mess we call life. Some learn quicker than others. I happen to be more of a “late bloomer” and a slow learner at that…(There is absolutely nothing wrong with that…after all, “Slow n steady wins the race!” (: ). Looking back to the younger Emily, I not only failed to realize how much change was actually occurring around me, but I also was blind in knowing something valuable about myself that I now have a greater understanding for. I do not like change. No one likes the change you find on the street or in your pockets, but I am not talking about that kind of change…I am talking about the little and big changes that play tag with the seasons every year. (Cheesy…I know, but who doesn’t like a little extra cheese with their pasta?? Actually, I don’t…so make that extra cheese on my pizza! (: Again, I’m your average – and hungry – college student!) My point being, I do not accept change very easily. I fell stubborn to admit this until recently. One might say I played an excellent “Oedipus” in this play…except this play happened to be life! Go-figure…

I underwent a number of changes throughout the few years I’ve had on this planet. Warning: It starts getting sappy here…Being adopted from Russia at age two, I had to stumble into a new culture and depend on two complete strangers to care for me (and my adopted, handicap brother) and bring me up in this world. Being so young, this was not exactly difficult, considering the fact I did not know who my biological parents were. Sure, I have stumbled upon the thoughts of who my real parents were and why I was placed up for adoption, but I like to believe that I am here in my Georgia, ranch-style house for a reason – because God wanted this and it is all a part of His plan!

Now, I thought having a brother in a wheelchair was normal. I’m not gonna lie, I would often feel embarrassed when people stared or were afraid when he started throwing one of his tantrums. Other than that, Andrew and I got along as young kids. We would often find ourselves playing all sorts of imaginary games such as using forts to play “house.” We would also get ourselves into trouble like when we locked ourselves in my bedroom closet (the lock was on the outside!). Of course we had our distant years when I was the mean older sister who ignored her little brother when friends were over or when she wanted to go out. But after recently losing our father about a year and a half ago to the battle of cancer, I can now say we are two steps ahead from where we were as awkward teen siblings… We get along much better and I would say have grown closer.

Rewinding to when I was seven years old, I lost my mother right before I entered the second grade. – Don’t worry, I promise this is not all depressing!! – I would say this was a pretty tough change for me. For all of us. Dad had to learn how to be two parents in one and still function as a normal human being. For a good year, I was not fun to be around due to my cranky and “biopolar” emotions. But as time progressed, it became the norm for me not to have a mom around. My aunt and my godmother did well and stepped up to the plate to be mother-figures for my brother and me, especially through the times when my personal hygiene was out of wack (Don’t worry, I don’t smell anymore thanks to my gazillion Bath and Body Works products and men’s deodorant! Sharon is a witness… Jussayin, “Old Spice” is where it’s at…)!

Don’t worry, I promise this novel is wrapping up!!

Now, my most recent change would have to be my transition to college. Most teens go through this and for some it can be a breeze like a baby bird flying out of its nest, whereas for some like me, it can be like the Holy Spirit came by with a 2×4 out of the blue and woke me up! I can now say I survived my first year of finding new friends, sleepless nights, limited laundry – and space! – unlimited coffee dates, and the undying myth of getting a ring by spring! The hardest part was not being able to call my dad on those tough nights, but hey, I made it through! That’s an accomplishment, after all! Not only that, I went from being undeclared to declaring social work as my major and psychology as my minor. (:

But as I lie on my stomach in the opposite direction on my bed typing this (and wrapping this up, I promise!), I can say that I have indeed come a long way from where I started (Not to make this all about me – I promise I don’t mean to come off that way!) My whole point of this story was to share that life throws changes at you from every angle. Some angles are bad just like every movie has its share of bad angles, but you learn to make art out of it. A quote I like goes a little like this: “Life is like photography. You develop from the negatives and if you don’t like it, take another shot.” Sometimes that small step you may have to take is simply accepting that you need help from someone other than yourself. After all, we are human beings (well, boys…eh…kidding!!) and as imperfect as we are, we are created to rely on one another and help one another. One key ingredient in making life taste a lil better, is accepting change. I’m not saying you have to agree with everyone else and not form your own opinions, but it does help to have a little more flexibility when it comes to changes and life. I could write a whole ‘nother blog on life itself, but to sum it up, Life is beauty. Life is scary. Life is change.

Now, how ’bout accepting change for a change? Give it a try. You can do it. I believe in you. (:

Em.

God Has the Blueprints to Your House

blueprints

This was actually a lil journal/blog written three and a half years ago during my sophomore year of high school…I have tweaked it a lil since my 15-year-old self struggled with articulating (and I still do!)…this was a powerful moment in which I believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Hope you get something out of this!

January 17, 2011….happy birthday Brooke (:

Right now, I feel so…happy and filled with God’s love. It’s indescribable. The only way I could describe it…is to say it’s like those moments where you have those random upbeats and surges of happiness just flowing through you and you don’t know why. (:

As cliche as it sounds, God has a plan for you, yes YOU. Now, before you jump the gun and think to yourself, “well, God doesn’t have plans for me,” or, “God’s too busy thinking about someone else,” just wait and hear me out. I’m sure you’ve wondered or contemplated the fact that yes, you are here on this earth, and no, you don’t know why. That’s okay not to know why, but I will say that if God stopped thinking of you even for a split millisecond, you would cease to exist! Aside from that, you have an affect on everyone around you and vice versa. There’s a reason for it. There has to be… Now as far as this “plan,” I in-vision God having this “planner” in which He has prepared all of His wonderful plans and ideas in. There’s something for every day of every month and every year, at different times and possibly the same time. He has plans for every. single. person. “You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book” (Psalm 139: 15-16). He hasn’t forgotten about anyone or made anyone a second priority. And He has certainly not forgotten about you! Let’s say He has scheduled you for something, an “appointment” you could call it. That doesn’t mean you will show up. That doesn’t mean that you will follow through with that activity or calling from God. But He does know what is best and He does know what will make you truly happy (I will go more in depth about this later). And even though He may have called you to do something, keep in mind that someone else may be called to a different vocation.

Now, you may be wondering, “how do I know if and/or when God is speaking to me?” God is constantly guiding you whether you realize it or not. He always has something to say. Now, it may not be in a “booming” voice coming from the heavens or perhaps lightening from the sky…but He is constantly sending out signs and leading you toward your path. They can be signs through people. Maybe a friend said something that stuck out and you needed to hear that message. Signs can be through events and trials. Maybe you learned a valuable lesson after struggling with an illness through the family or even just schoolwork. Signs can be through something beautiful, such as a wedding or a sunset. Whatever they may be, these signs will guide you to this amazing plan of His (I will continue to say this). Again, I in-vision this “plan” as this beautiful building in which He is the contractor or the architect. Cheesy, right? Bear with me now… God will lead you to it and He will start you off by placing that base or foundation of the building. These signs will lead you down the path to follow and it’s up to YOU not to get distracted by other things. Someone such as the devil himself, loves to mislead those, especially those who are following God. It may be a hot day walking down that “path” and the devil might tempt you with his own sign saying there’s free water a block down another path. But don’t listen to him; listen to God. The devil’s signs are traps and leave you with nothing or temporary happiness. That “free water” may end up being just one drop of water, whereas God has more in store for you. He will not only give you a surplus of water, or what you need, but He will also give you more. He will give you what is best for you and what will make you happiest.

No one said it would be easy. You have to be willing to keep your eyes, mind, soul, and heart open for what God has to say or you may miss an important opportunity or calling. Keep in mind, it is up to you not to give up while discerning what His will for you is. Stay on that path and do your best to focus. He will be there cheering you on and picking you up when you fall. He will wipe every bead of sweat away and every tear you shed. “One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes” (Revelation 21:3-4). You will eventually discover His amazing plan. Once you finally arrive (or see what His calling is for you), He will lay out the building plan, the instructions, the blueprint. And like I say all the time, it is up to YOU to finish it off. He will ALWAYS be there supervising. He’ll never let you out of His sight. He’ll catch you if you fall at higher heights.

Now, trusting God that He won’t fail you or leave you is hard. I can admit to that from my own personal experience. You have to be willing say, “let Your will be done, and not mine.” You may not like His choice of “color” for a specific room or “how that room is designed,” but it’s up to Him first because He knows what’s best for you. Like I said, He’s got this wonderful plan for you and everyone. “My plan for your future has always been filled with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). What may be best for you, may not be best for someone else. So, maybe He knows you struggle a little more than others, so He will make that “house” a little more accessible. Or maybe He sees you’re struggling, but He may want to challenge you. Whatever it may be, it is His will and let His will be done and not yours.

It’s always up to God first because He knows everything and what’s best for everyone. He even “planned you before you were made and born (Psalm 139).” “He knew you before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5).” But after God, it’s pretty much up to you. No, not up to you make your input or decisions on changing the plan of the house, but to finish that plan of His. Yes, it is great to have preferences and opinions…those desires are placed in your heart for a reason, but it is when we go against God’s will that we truly find ourselves not satisfied or happy.

He’s so excited for you and wants you to be happy. Yes, happy! So, stop looking for that happiness in other people or other things. Don’t get me wrong, people can make us happy and so can “things,” but they will never fully satisfy us. Only God can do that. (: He’s trying to show you what He has in store for you, but you have to let Him. He will always knock on your door, but He won’t barge in. He is a gentleman after all, so He will always be waiting for you. You have to open that door. You may try to run away from Him and lock yourself away from Him and the world, but He will still be waiting at the door. He will still be waiting for you to run to Him. “I am waiting for you” (Luke 15:11-32). God will always come to you no matter what, but you have to be willing to let Him come further and go to Him even when you’re feeling down and unloved. “He will be that father that no earthly father could ever be and give you what no earthly father could ever give you (Matthew 7:11).” You can’t stay hidden forever. You need love. And love is what God has. Love is what God is. Love is what He’s trying to show YOU (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13). “I will never stop doing good to you” (Jeremiah 32:40).

Jesus loves YOU…and every one of you! Even if you aren’t the best and make a mistake…He’ll forgive you ONLY if you’re truly sorry and are willing to repent. It does not matter how bad the sin is…God is a merciful and forgiving Father. He doesn’t look at you for only your sins. He has much hope in you. “And to tell you that I am not counting your sins” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). He’s is calling you home, to Heaven, to be with Him and His son Jesus Christ. “Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen” (Luke 15:7). “I have always been Father, and will always be Father” (Ephesians 3:14-15). He will always be your Father and will ALWAYS love YOU! “My question is…Will you be my child?” (John 1:12-13). Like I said, He’s waiting for you.

Em.

P.S.- Here is a great website in which I read this beautiful letter. It’s kinda like God’s letter to you. Check it out. (:

http://fathersloveletter.com/text.html

Store-bought Food vs. Settling for Mediocre

browniesI was eating a bite of this brownie cake from a local grocery store, when I saw a comparison to people settling for something, or rather someone mediocre…

We all know how it tastes when you take a bite out of perhaps a brownie from your local grocery store, and it’s got that processed taste that kinda resembles cardboard, or *insert awkward taste here*… Don’t get me wrong, buying store-bought food is not a bad thing. (: It can be a great economic save and more efficient. In fact, I am not saying don’t do it! But, sometimes that “cardboard taste” is dissatisfying, yet we still continue to eat it…

My point of this whole “store-bought” rant above is to say that in a way, people will do this, but with other people. Just as you take that first bite of the brownie, it doesn’t taste that great, yet you continue to take another bite in hope that it will taste better. After another bite and another, you get used to that “cardboard taste.” Unfortunately, men and women do this during the process of dating or even while on the “lookout” for someone. When they find someone, they settle so quickly, they do not give themselves the time to discern, or pray and think about that potential, or said relationship. So even when they have a gut feeling in their stomach that something does not feel right, they continue to see or date their boyfriend or girlfriend. I also find women, particularly young girls doing this and then they wonder why they leave the relationship feeling empty and scarred. I am also guilty of this…being interested in a guy and not raising my standards, or just throwing my heart out too soon and too quickly.

We must realize that we deserve better than just a “sleeping partner” or somebody to make us feel ______.  Proper discernment and patience are key words to not settling for less or just mediocre. You deserve better than “eh.” So, keep in mind when you’re thinking about looking for your life partner or even just buying that brownie cake at your local grocery store, you are worth the effort and worth the time. You are worth dying for.

Em.