In Summary

I haven’t forgotten all about you, Parakaleo, honestly!  I’ve been through all kinds of pickles wherein I didn’t have a functioning computer, then didn’t have Internet access, then didn’t have time, so it’s been a little crazy.  But at long last, I can do my semester in summary!

I like to pick a few favorite blog posts, one from each month, to feature at the end of the semester, and here are my favorites from this year:

January: Rich and Free

February: Love, Seen.

March: The Ring vs. Who?

April: Event Planning

May: High-Kicking and Hugs

*Also note my special Guest Post from May!

Adding to the craziness of the past few weeks was my graduation from college.  CRAZY stuff.  And as my life changes, I’ve been putting some thought and prayer into how my blog should change.  I’ll be taking a summer hiatus as usual, where I don’t post regularly but may post on occasion, and at some point in August, I’ll make an announcement about what’s going on with Parakaleo!  I may continue to post weekly, or I may switch it up a bit.  If you have any suggestions or things that you would like to see, please let me know!

Have a blessed summer!

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As We Go On, We Remember…

Dearest Readers,

This is the end of a very crazy, back-to-back day that included, among other things, taking my last final at my undergraduate school. It would be more beautiful and final if I’d finished my thesis revisions, but alas. This was impossible due to the temporarily irreversible collapse of my computer screen’s backlight.

Nonetheless, I’m graduating in a matter of mere days and it’s all just ridiculous. Today, one of my dearest friends came and took my senior photos, which involved tramping around to the most memorable places on campus (the old journalism building, the new journalism building, the psychology building, the incredible dorm I lived in sophomore year, the friendship-forming dorm I lived in freshman year, etc.) and I attended a ceremony at which the organizers felt obligated to show us an inspiring video of why our school is amazing. I don’t disagree. I got a little emotional during that video and barely restrained myself from saying out loud, “This school is INCREDIBLE. BEST EVER.” I never would have guessed it when I was moping through orientation the summer before freshman year, but I am in love with this place and the incredible people that I’ve met here. I’m even more in love with the God that planned it all out despite my mumbling and grumbling (probably more like kicking and screaming, really).

I’m so, so glad that God brought me here even when it wasn’t part of my plan. In regards to what’s going to happen after, or perhaps even during, grad school, I keep telling people that I’m not calling anything. I can’t even call what’s happening tomorrow. These past four years have taught me so much about my Savior and how much I can trust Him. I’m so excited to see what He has for next for me.

I’m so grateful for Parakaleo, too, and to all of you for reading it! I started it up in my sophomore year because I wanted to maintain my writing “voice” and not be brainwashed by pyramid structures and had been encouraged to by others. I’ve gotten so much positive feedback and it’s something that’s helped me to grow as well and forced me to do something thoughtful and to focus on the big picture at least once a week.

It’s also led me to consider people and experiences aside from my own, and as such, I’m reminded that not everyone in the world is graduating from college and heading to grad school right now. At some point, I won’t be on a high of cords and stoles, a sense of completion, a time for an actual summer break, and having something of an idea of what’s going on for the next five years. For those of you who are there now, and for when I get there, I’m praying that we’ll be able to look back at how God has been working in our lives and be unable to refrain from praising Him and trusting Him.

As they say, the best is yet to come!

High-Kicking and Hugs

Today was my last day of undergraduate classes.  Everything is seeming sort of surreal, and I’ve been watching a lot of TV in the background while I work on a variety of papers and assignments, so I’ve started thinking of a number of things in terms of analogies, even more than usual.  For example, I recently submitted my 61-page thesis, on which I had gotten a lot of comments and indication that there was plenty of room for improvement (which there was) from my mentor.  Feeling somewhat badly about this, I said to myself, “That’s okay.  You were a little shaky on beam, but you’ll get it on bars!” as I prepared to do a practice defense.  (Clarification: The Paper is the Beam, the Defense is the Bars.  Yeah, well, things are crazy.)

Unfortunately for those who went to the theater with me, I recently saw “The Avengers,” which led to a deal of shouting “THERE HE GOES!” along with high kicking, walking unnecessarily dramatically, punching the air in slow motion, pretending I was about to fly away, having that pretend quickly ended by gravity, and occasionally, hollering, “THERE’S NO TIME!”

That last one has probably come to mind the most.  There’s NO time.  We’re at the end of my undergraduate career and I know that sadly, some of these people I’m not going to see again.  I was going through a bit of a rough patch and a conflict with a dear friend, and I remember thinking, “There is NO time to be at odds right now.  We got X number of weeks left and we need to be spending it the right way.  THERE’S NO TIME!”

Interestingly, I’ve mostly felt this way about my relationships.  That is, I haven’t been going to my professors and begging for more work because there’s no time left for me to keep doing undergraduate work, if that made any sense.  I’ve got five more years of study partying, so I think that bit’s covered.  I’m going to miss my current school, and I’m so disgruntled that some programs are starting that I’m not going to be able to participate in at all.  The time that I’ve got with this university and the amazing people at it is limited, and I desperately want to make the most of the week (AHHHHH!!!!) I have left.

It’s really a wonder that I don’t feel this way in general.  I think graduation snuck up on me- at least I’ve known for a good four years when that date would be.  But I don’t know when the endings of so many different things in my life will be.  I have no authority over when I might lose a friend, a connection, an object, an opportunity, or even my own life.  I don’t get to say, or even know, when this world will end.  It may very well be that there is no time.

We don’t need to go all Avengers and start firing imaginary bullets that never hurt anyone (I like feeling epic, but only with Nerf guns) while we holler things at our teammates who may or may not be actually playing along, wearing all black, and constantly getting new messages on our awesome-looking headsets.  There’s a battle going on, a serious one, but it’s for lost souls, not so much for physical territory.  And it is for that battle that we need to be aware of how very little time we have.

I don’t know how long I’ll get to see a certain friend on a weekly or daily basis, but I also don’t know how long I’ll get to share the love of Christ with certain people.  Sometimes I may literally have a matter of seconds.  It’s serious stuff.

The reason why this isn’t extraordinarily stressful is that it’s not all on me.  My strength and my purpose comes from Christ.  If I mess up, we’re not going to lose the planet earth to the Frost Giants.  We know for sure who the Victor is, and we just have the amazing opportunity to be a part of it and to prepare for Him to come back.

As Jesus says in Matthew 24, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

As for now, I’ll keep doing awkward little tumbles and kicks and giving out lots of good hugs, but I’ll also be keeping in mind that this is just one ending.  There are so many other stories that are only halfway through or are just beginning, or perhaps there’s another little scene coming after the credits, and I don’t want to slip off my guard for them.  I want to make the most of every opportunity.

Guest Post: No Time for Trust Issues

For those of you that haven’t heard, I’ve got a little sister, and she’s a pretty neat person.  She’s also very thoughtful and it’s been inspiring to see her grow in her faith (and just as a lovely little person), and I asked her to write a guest post for us.  So joining us this week is my sister, Michaela!  Enjoy her post! =)

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I have almost always had issues trusting. I’m not quite sure why, although I’d love to know. But lately, I’ve had some trust issues that I just couldn’t afford. In the recent months, I was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux.

If you had mentioned acid reflux to me last year, I would have thought “Oh, just heartburn. No biggie.” But now I would think “SAY WHAT?! ACID REFLUX?! RUN FOR THE SHELTERS!” I have pretty much always had stomach issues, but this is one that truly tested my trust in God.

My first acid reflux attack was fairly severe. It took me almost 2 weeks to get over, mainly because I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was simply indigestion. I will never forget my first attack. Why? Because I had no idea, whatsoever, what was happening to me. I was experiencing pain I never felt, I was facing my ex-biggest fear, and through all of it, I had to fake a smile because we had family over,  and I didn’t want to mess up their time. I wasn’t even at home, I was at a hotel, and had to sit through a 4 hour car ride. Let me tell you, it was hard.

While I was going through all of that, I didn’t realize what was wrong with me and certainly not to what degree. I was telling myself, “I’m going to trust God to get me through this”. Was I believing it? In a way, yes. But these things kept happening. I kept getting the attacks, but they weren’t lasting as long, maybe closer to 4 days. I was missing a lot of school and it was putting a lot of emotional strain on me. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me and why God was putting me through this. I was pleading with Him to help me and stop this awful pain. I would always say I would trust him but it was so hard. Each attack, I tried to trust Him more and more, and I did. Why? Because I had nowhere else to turn. My parents couldn’t give me answers, my sister couldn’t give me answers. No one had answers! No one but God was able to comfort me.

Around March I finally made it to the doctors, as my parents were getting concerned with the attacks coming more frequently and just as severely. My doctor diagnosed me with GERD and I felt so many emotions. I felt incredibly relieved, “FINALLY! Someone knows what’s wrong with me!”, and then, it hit. I was terrified. All the facts he told me, hit hard, no more popsicles (my ex-favorite dessert), no more foods I loved so dearly, no more this, no more that. I have had to give up so much. While it’s made me really healthy, I’m still young, I still wanna eat these things I’ve been forced to give up! It’s right now that I need to trust God even more to get me through all this. I know most of the facts, but I need to apply them and trust that God will give me willpower and strength to keep going.

I still get GERD attacks, but they aren’t nearly as severe and I’m learning how to stop them. This doesn’t mean that I still don’t have a little voice in the back of my head wondering why, but it does mean that I am trusting God more than I ever thought I would, because while people on Earth are great, they don’t always have the answers or comfort you need. God always does. And He is always the way to turn.