A Dream vs A Call

Growing up my favorite game to play was “school” where I was the teacher and anyone I could find to play with me was the student. I loved school and I still do. There has always been something about learning new material in an academic environment that led me to immense joy. I was more often than not the student who always connected with her teachers. Even more so, many of my teachers have left lasting impacts on my life.

With all of this being said, since I was in first grade, I wanted to be a teacher; it was my dream. It really was all I could talk about. When the time came for me to check the box next to a major, it seemed like the simple, obvious option; however, there was something deep within me that stirred.

I wasn’t sure what that stirring inside me was nor what it meant. Later, I had a hint about what it possibly could be, but it did not match my plan, causing me to ignore it. The stirring inside me became stronger as the time for college crept closer. I wrestled with it until I decided to vocalize my thought of what the stirring could possibly be. After lots of discouraging responses, I decided that I was misinterpreting the feeling inside, and I would continue the plan I had always known–to  be a teacher.

I arrived at Indiana Wesleyan a little less than a month ago. My time here has been a roller coaster. It was different than I thought it would be. For some reason, something just did not feel right. While I was navigating the transition of college, the stirring inside me rose again only this time it was stronger than ever before. At first, I ignored it and went about my classes, but I couldn’t ignore it for long.

It all started with a conversation with a Professor. She had just finished a lecture that I attended with Lexi, my roommate. I was not even her student as I had decided to attend with Lexi for fun. (I recognize that a student who attends a lecture for fun is a nerd.) She approached me and introduced herself, asking me what my major was. I responded that I was an elementary education major. She smiled and asked if I had always wanted to do that. I hesitated. The conversation led to her telling me that it was one hundred percent biblical for a woman to be in ministry, and that is where my story begins.

I didn’t expect any of this to happen. Classes started and I still felt like something was off. I was enjoying my classes, but not as much as I thought I would. There was one class, though, that I loved; it was theology. I prayed to the Lord asking why I was feeling confused and disheartened. I had been looking forward to college for so long, but I was in my room crying more than socializing.

One night, I was in my dorm studying, and two girls on my floor at separate times asked if I was a ministry major or if I had considered being one. They each followed with the idea that they saw me as a ministry major, which was why they asked. I laughed and told them I was in education, but later I thought about their questioning more seriously. That night I prayed to God for a significant amount of time, seeking out what God wanted for me.

The next day, I had a mandatory, one-on-one meeting with my theology professor. Our conversation was great; I was able to learn about her as she was able to learn about me. I thought we were finishing up our conversation until she stopped me and asked if I had ever considered that maybe I had a call to ministry. I just laughed.

I prayed harder than I ever had before, wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I was not content here, and I had not the slightest clue why. I asked God to make it abundantly clear what path he wanted me to pursue. My dream was always education, but maybe my call was something else. The following weekend, I grabbed my friend Rebekah and headed to Fort Wayne to visit my former youth pastor’s church.

The service started with an opening prayer, and the word’s nearly knocked me out of my seat. The pastor stated that he felt that there was anxiety in the room and that whether it was caused by change, a large decision, financial insecurity, or a loss to trust the Lord and give it to Him. Rebekah and I laughed as the prayer was so relevant it was as if God was slamming a brick in our faces, saying here is what I want you to do. As I tried to comprehend the prayer and what God was saying to me, Matt, took the stage. He began preaching, and his sermon was the icing on the cake.

When I really considered why I hadn’t chose ministry as my major, I always went back to the same thoughts. I was afraid and it wasn’t part of the plan. Also, I didn’t want to upset the people who had discouraged me. Then Matt opened his Bible and read the following verse: “…Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent for I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you…” -Acts 18:9-10

I knew right then what that stirring was and why I was so discontent at IWU. Today I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I chose to listen to God, and disregard my plans for myself. I chose to trust God. I met with my professor today and officially changed my major. I am now a christian ministries major with a minor in biblical literature. I am following my call that I know more clearly than ever to full time ministry. Only God knows exactly what that looks like, and I trust Him.

Since my decision, I have not stopped smiling. I have a couple of friends that I can already tell will be lifelong friends. My discontent is gone and the stirring inside my stomach is now buzzing inside my heart ready for whatever God has planned for me. This has not been my dream my whole life, but it has been my call, and God knew all along. I knew I always wanted to be a teacher, but I never knew it would be a teacher of the Word.

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Senior Talk: Who is the One in Front of You?

I sat admiring the way the seniors talked about what they had learned during a year full of decisions that would impact the rest of their life. Contemplating what I would talk about during my senior talk, I chuckled to myself because that was a long ways away.

I blinked.

I sat preparing for my senior talk as it was only hours away. I could not believe that it was my time. Butterflies fluttered around my stomach like they owned the place. I have so many things I have learned that I could not even fathom choosing one to talk about. The idea of going up in front and speaking was also slightly intimidating but necessary.

I searched my heart and listened for the Lord’s guidance. Immediately, I heard my prior youth pastor’s voice from a sermon he introduced that led to a large portion of my story.

“Who is the one in front of you?”

The question struck me as I had never been someone who went out to share my faith with other intentionally. The concept led me to a girl that I had had conflict in the past with. Over a span of four months I was able to share Jesus with her and later lead her in a prayer to accept Christ as well as baptize her with her mom. Two years later she passed away; God knew what he was doing when he called me to her.

I knew immediately that that was what I was going to talk to the underclassmen about. It was not only going to be about the one in front of you and the importance of sharing but the importance of being rooted. I proceeded to make a list.

One, you must be in the Word. Within the word there is so much truth. It is the flashlight that God gifted us with in order to guide us through the darkness of this world.

Two, you must trust the Lord. That is so much easier said than done. Spending time in the Word and prayer goes hand in hand in with trusting the Lord. One would not go up to a random stranger to tell them about a struggle they are going through, one would go to someone they know well or rather someone that they trust. That is why the first point I make is so crucial. The more time with the Lord you spend the more you know and trust in Him.

Third, community is crucial. It is imperative that one has a community around them to hold them accountable. Someone who is entering into a surrounding where there nonbelievers make up the majority needs someone to hold them accountable more than ever. It is much easier for someone who does not believe to pull someone who believes down rather than than the other way around.

Those three things have moved from a stereotypical sermon preached by a pastor about being a “good” christian to a guideline to how I want to live my life. Those points are so much more than a guide to be a good christian. They are steps to grow and maintain a beautiful relationship with the Father.

I ended my senior talk to the other high school students with an analogy because analogies are what got me my decent grades and understanding of the bible.

Think of yourself as a tree. You put different people who are the one in front of you on your branches. If you are rooted in christ, you are going to be able to support the people on your branches as well as yourself. If you are not, the tree will not be able to handle all of the people placed on your branches; eventually, the tree will fall over.

As senior year comes to a close and I finish the list of “lasts,” I prepare for the list of “firsts.” I am unsure of a lot of what that lists entails, but I am sure of one thing in my future. I look forward to falling madly in love with my Savior each day more and more.

A Date to Dread

January 27th shifts its way towards me

“Go away,” I said

 

Everyone

seemed to be unaltered

The date preyed upon me

 

It conceived multiple moments

based on one dreadful memory

 

an empty desk beside me

Confusion

enough tears to fill a stream

Panic

an abundance of people

Grief

 

It was all a blur that

Became more clear

As the date crept towards me

Ready to attack

 

Meanwhile

the world goes on.

 

Why can’t I?

 

Senior Spring Break: I partied…With Jesus

“Don’t do anything you will regret. Protect yourself. Don’t get arrested. If you are going to drink, be smart. Don’t get a girl pregnant and don’t get pregnant. Stay together. I will see you in two weeks,” said every one of my teachers.

Senior spring break has a running stereotype that, unfortunately, I would deem accurate. When people think of teens who are about to graduate, they immediately think teens are within a mindset that reflects the saying “no regrets.” Since entering high school, snapchat stories as well as words through the grapevine allowed me to conclude that all stereotypes are as accurate as claiming the sky is blue. It kills that it is expected for students to act in this way so much so that the teachers feel the need to state the things I referred to above. Why in the world have we decided to accept that those actions are okay as long as we use protection within all scenarios? I have the perfect idea for protection: don’t do it.

Many people tell me to “Live a little.” In fact, I wish I had a dime for every time someone has said something along the lines of I need to let go and have fun. Honestly, I used to take it to heart each time someone told me that. It made me feel like I was a boring person and who wants to believe people think they are boring? I can recall to different times in high school where I was the friend that reeled people back in. I was the annoying “parent” in the friend group; I despised myself for it for the longest time. Everyone eventually made me think I had something wrong with me because it was as if I physically could not make myself do some of the things my friends thought were fun. It’s been a battle I’ve been fighting with myself for years. During spring break, I finally won not only the battle, but also the war. There was a reason I have never been able to follow my friends in some of their activities. It’s because of the Holy Spirit within me.

Seniors party on spring break; it really is inevitable. I am ecstatic to claim that I too partied. My party companions may not have been the same as others, but I most definitely partied. My party companions consisted of coffee and Jesus. Within my eyes, it simply cannot get any better than that. There is something to be said about how much one can feel the presence of God standing on the beach. I had multiple moments that extracted the breath right out of me.

The sun rose above the ocean, painting lemon yellow, blood red orange, and purple on the sky as if it were a canvas sitting before God. The waves crashed in a pattern across the sand led by a thin line of foam. The leather from my Bible was smooth against my legs; the sand beneath me was cold. I studied my Bible allowing the words on the page to rise into the wind, spin around me, and enter my heart. Some of the words leaped off the page from Philippians.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” -Philippians 1:9-11

The life within this verse alone far surpasses any life I can find within an activity created by flesh. While God was revealing to me why I felt so different among my peers, he also revealed to me something that would help with every aspect of my life. Philippians painted a clear picture of why I have felt so anxious about the different layers within my life. I was seeking happiness in the wrong places. I need to find contentment in Christ who strengthens me. It seems so simple, but what would it look like if I abided by that daily?

Another part of scripture that arrived to the party was Psalm 119. A myriad of things were revealed to me through this character. First, I identified that the Word is my tool God has gifted me with. It is my flashlight that I am able to use to guide my way through the darkness of this world. How thankful I am to be granted with such a tool as this. My heart aches at the thought of wandering the world in complete darkness. Second, Psalm 119 uncovered how truly great my God is. I wrote along the side of the scripture Psalm 119: 169-176 “How great are you Lord.” Those verses spoke to me the most amidst the chapter. Lastly, I recognized that I needed to be “all in.” What I mean by the term “all in” is not just being dedicated, but being joyfully dedicated. I need to be proud to follow the guidelines that the Lord has set for me. When my friends aren’t abiding to the same rules I have committed to, I should not be ashamed.

Standing in the sea, the darkness blankets over me. The night has come to makes its’ daily visit. The rain forces my eyes shut as it pours over me. Soft at first but progressively louder I hear a faint voice; it is singing. I focus on listening so I can make out the words. “It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise. We pour out our praise.” It was not until several minutes passed that I realized that the source of the noise was my lips. Worship has unlocked a new definition for me.

Those moments are filled with more life than any activity I can think of. Maybe I chose to not live a little, but I did choose to live a lot.

Thanks God for a week I will never forget.

A Journey From a Glass Half Empty to a Glass Half Full

Chapter 1: Baby Dahl
“I don’t think I want to name her Abigail. I know that was the plan, but I am second guessing it,” Mike, my dad, said.
“What? What are you talking about? We have been calling her Abigail for months,” Melissa, my mom, said.
“I was thinking that maybe she will be talkative (It’s ironic because as a kid, I never shut up.) and people might call her gabby Abby. I don’t want people making fun of her or calling her that,” he said.
“Michael, I really don’t care what we name her. I am about to have this baby! I just want you to get me to the freaking hospital!” she yelled.
On August 26th, 1998 in the afternoon, I plowed into the world screeching, affirming my dad that his questioning of my name was valid. After taking one look at me, my dad knew the name for me. Etched across my birth certificate was ink that formed “Julia Abigail Lynn Dahl.” My name had reasoning within each element of it much like there are many elements that describe me. I have four names because on my mom’s side of the family it is a tradition; everyone has two middle names. Abigail shifted to my middle name as my dad no longer believed it was worthy of my first. Lynn came from my mom as it was her middle name along with my grandmother’s and my great grandmother’s. The relevance of my first name holds the deepest place within my heart. My first name started with a phone call.
“Hey Grandma. Our baby girl was born. She is beautiful and Missy thinks she looks just like me,” my dad said.
“Oh how wonderful! I cannot wait to meet that precious little thing,” she replied sweetly.
“Grandma, I need to tell you something,” my dad said, barely capable of containing his excitement.
“What is it sweetie?” she said immediately concerned.
“I want to tell you her name. It is not Abigail anymore. It is Julia. We are naming her after you,” he said choking down tears.
My sweet, old great grandmother cried many tears of joy so much so that my dad says he thought she might have a heart attack. Her name is Julia May Dahl. I have the honor and privilege of sharing the same first and last name as her. Our name is not the only thing we share as we share the same mannerisms and qualities too. She began collecting porcelain dolls the moment she married into the name Dahl. Her collection grew into my closet as she decided it was necessary that I collect porcelain dolls as well. My favorite moments with her are playing Euchre, listening to her sing her birthday song, and our special moment each time I would leave. Since I could talk we shared a moment before I stumbled out of her door. She would give me a kiss in which I thought was disgusting. I would immediately wipe it off; that only made her giggle and imitate me. After we finished wiping our mouths, we would race to see who could say the words “See ya later alligator-After while crocodile!” first.

Chapter 2: My Super Hero
My family lived in a two story house next door to my great grandparents house for years. As a child, I enjoyed Elmo, Disney Princesses, dancing, and riding on my dad’s motorcycle with him. When I think of my early years of childhood, it is hard to narrow down moments that meant the most to me. My mom cared for me most when I was younger as my dad worked most of the time. Whenever he worked for long periods of time, he would bring me home a new Barbie doll. I loved my mom just like most children did, but my dad and I had a special bond early on. I was a daddy’s girl no doubt. The moments he was not working, he would put an XXXL belt around the two of us, hop on his motorcycle, and we would cruise around the neighborhood. Gripping onto his shirt with the wind whipping through my hair somehow became the moments I felt the most safe. It does not make sense because most people would think a motorcycle is dangerous, but I was with my “Big Daddy.” That is what I used to call him because in my eyes he was my hero. I remember playing anything from hair dresser to bride and groom. I married my dad more times than I can count and I “did” his hair. I put quotation marks around did because my dad shaved his head bald; there wasn’t any hair for me to technically do. That was the beginning of my budding imagination. It only grew from there.
Along with my dad, I loved my grandma. She was the person I could do absolutely anything with and have the time of my life. I would stay the night at her house every weekend and even weeks at a time in the summer. I made many memories at her house. She has always known me better than I have known myself.
Around the age of five my parents sat me down and told me that they had some amazing news. I thought we were going to Chuck E Cheese, but it turns out the news was much different.
“You are going to be a big sister!” they exclaimed in unison.
I thought that meant my life was over, but it actually was only beginning. My brother was born on September 2, 2004. I was proud as I bypassed all my family in the hospital waiting room because I had the privilege of meeting him first. I leaped into the room, looked past my parents, and admired the little life that gave me the title of big sister.

Chapter 3: Toy Cars
“Luke, what is your favorite thing about your big sister?” my aunt Shaina asked.
“Pissing her!” he shouted proudly. Everyone chuckled because the people at the surrounding tables gawked at us. They could not believe a small child would say such a thing, but we all knew what he meant; He loved giving kisses. While that moment was sweet and reflects his kind heart, it could misguide someone to think that was all he was, sweet. That would, quite honestly, be a lie. As a child, he was a hellion. My aunt asked me the same question, “Julia, what is your favorite part about your brother?”
“When he is sleeping” I responded without hesitation. I loved him with my whole heart, but in his toddler years, he took the term “all boy” to the extreme. He had more energy than anyone I had ever met and even though he drove me crazy, he was always my sweet baby brother. Everyday after school I got off the bus and he would be standing at the glass door jumping up and down. Before I could even take step inside he would bombard me in a hug followed by, what I thought at the time, was the worst thing ever.
“Sissy, will you play cars with me?” he said. I hated cars. I hated how every time I had a friend over or wanted to do something, I had to play cars with him in the playroom for at least an hour. I resented him for it. My dad always said that one day I would be sad because he wouldn’t want to play cars with me anymore. I hate admitting when my dad is right because he seems to think he is always right, but in this case, he was. My brother is twelve now and he is more interested in texting his girlfriend than playing toy cars. One thing I never get sick and tired of is going to his games. He plays multiple sports and their is nothing better than chanting on the sidelines for that kid. Most of my weekends growing up consisted of it. As much as my little brother has grown up, he will always be the little boy that would stand at the glass door, waiting to play cars with me. He is my best friend and whether he knows it or not, he is never going to get rid of me. I will always be his big sister.
Over time, Luke was not the only reason I had the title of sister. My cousin came to live with us after certain circumstances. I quickly morphed into a mother hen for her. She followed me around like my little duckling. I enjoyed her company more than she enjoyed mine. She taught me responsibility among other things. She also taught me to laugh amidst difficult circumstances. After lots of time with me, she molded into a mini me and I would be lying if I said I did not love it. My favorite moments are taking her to a bookstore, cuddling with her during a storm, and singing songs with her while I gave her a bath. She gave me a glimpse of motherhood and for that I am thankful.

Chapter 4: The Teddy Bear
“I cannot take this anymore! I am moving out,” my mom screamed. The words stunned me to a halt at the top of the stairs. The screaming echoed throughout the house as my heart fell to the floor. Frozen solid, I could not move another step up the stairs. The screaming and yelling continued to travel through the closed bedroom door steps away.
I silently thanked God my little brother chose to play outside with the neighbors at this particular time. The nightmare that I believed never to happen to my family began to unfold before my eyes. Families, my family, needed to stay under the same roof together. While listening to them continue to make plans to demolish everything I knew as normal, tears poured down my face blinding my vision. I stumbled into my room, closing the door both literally and figuratively on my view of my perfect family.
Tension that could be cut with a knife loomed through our house as a couple weeks passed. My dad and brother prepared to leave for an annual father son camping trip. While my mom helped my brother pack some last minute toys in his bag, my dad pulled me aside.
“Listen Julia. I want to tell you that I think your mom and I might get through this season we are in. I truly believe everything will be okay and return back to normal eventually,” he reassured me with a half grin. Relief and excitement consumed every inch of my body; the only thought running through my head being my prayers are answered. As my brother bounded down the steps toward the car, my dad kissed me goodbye. I was so excited to hear that our family would most likely stay together that I even hugged my annoying, smelly brother. He shoved me away but I did not care. My family’s future was positive after all.
As they pulled away, my mom walked out. She sighed as we watched them turn the corner. Something about the dark gray sky that lurked above and the sound of my mom’s sigh told me that my dad’s words were not truth but only hope. My mom looked at me the way she always does when she has something important to say.
“Julia, I have a surprise for you,” she said. It was only then that I noticed the glint of something in her hand. She slowly unclasped her hand revealing a set of shiny, silver keys. My heart went into my throat.
“I want to show you the apartment I just signed the lease for,” she said with a smile.
Moving day arrived much quicker than I could ever wish. Parked out front, the large moving van began to enable my mom’s ability to move as her belongings were filled into its space. The empty, bare walls replaced the walls filled with family photos and smiles; the house I normally called home felt like a stranger’s. I watched as she packed away the last of the boxes filled with her belongings as well as mine and my brother’s. I felt the damp grass between my fingers as I picked each blade, attempting to distract myself from the sorrow on my dad’s face. Standing in the garage, he stared straight ahead with emotions that resembled a shattered mirror.
As my mom climbed into the truck, I stood. The slam of the truck door startled my dad from his gaze. Heading back into the house, he glanced at the truck then went inside. Suddenly, as the truck rumbled to life, I recalled a similar moment six years ago. I was teased for playing with my teddy bear because I was “too old.” The next morning, I glanced at the Teddy Bear in the trash can. I had not only thrown away the teddy bear but also my innocence; I was no longer able to be a child ignorant of the bad. As I watched the truck pull away from view, a tear gliding down my face, I realized that much like that teddy bear, divorce had the same impact.

Chapter 5: The Light In the Midst of Darkness
Going through the divorce was one of the more difficult points in my life. It wrecked everything I knew, but that gave room for new things to grow. During my fourth grade year, I had a teacher who noticed my admiration for writing. She took a special interest in me like no other teacher had. One day, she handed me a pamphlet and said give this to your mom. I would love to see you there. I looked down at the pamphlet that said “Stones Crossing Church.” That pamphlet was the flashlight I needed to navigate my way through the obstacles I had no idea I was going to face in the future.
After many failed attempts to get my family to go visit the church, I finally persuaded them to give in. The experience was unlike anything I had ever been apart of and I knew that I belonged there. On the other hand, my family did not have the same feelings. Over the years I found rides to church from everyone to the elders to my best friend I made in Sunday school. It was a priority to me regardless of if my parents thought the same. It was a break from the depressing atmosphere my home had grasped since the divorce. Stones Crossing quickly became my favorite place. After a year of attending, I decided that God had a plan for me and I was ready to put my full trust in Him. I asked my fourth grade teacher to baptize me. While crying tears of joy, she said yes. My family was against the idea, but as I mentioned earlier, that never stopped me. God had a plan and I knew that this was the next step towards Him.
My faith grew, but I never dreamed it would reach the point it did my freshmen year. Matt Richardson, my youth pastor, believed in me in ways I never dreamed of believing in myself. Circumstances at home had gone from dim to dark, yet I had an immense amount of indescribable joy. The summer before my freshmen year, I attended a summer camp called CIY. It changed my outlook on everything. It guided me toward this guy named Jesus and I wanted to share with everyone I knew how awesome He was. I wore my faith proudly and I could not wait to speak to anyone that would listen until God called me to the one person that intimidated me most.

Chapter 6: The Call
No way. There was no way I was going to talk to the one girl that was mean to me in eighth grade. God, you are crazy if you think she wants to hear about you. I know she will just look at me and laugh if I try to talk to her. She is opinionated and intimidating.
I remember having that conversation in my head with God multiple times for weeks while sitting in World Geography. He was calling me to something I was sure was bigger than me. I was convinced I was incapable of it. He is laughing in Heaven now.
“Um, hi Kara. I know that we aren’t exactly friends, but I just wanted to say that I have noticed you seem sad lately….and…well I am here for you if you need anything” I mumbled.
“Uh…thanks” she said, completely caught off guard. I knew the feeling. God caught me off guard with this calling too. That conversation led to another and then another until I knew it was the day.
“Kara, I was wondering if you would go to bible study with me?” I asked attempting to sound confident.
“Ha! No.” She replied immediately. I did not give up. Actually, I did not give up for four months. I asked her every time we had World Geography class until one day she broke.
“Okay. If I go one time, will you shut up?” she practically yelled.
“YES!” I screeched. I could not hardly believe it. That following week she attending the bible study with me. Against her will, she fell in love. The next day, she asked me to meet her at the public library. I agreed, thinking that we would just study together, but she had other ideas. Instead, she poured her heart out to me about everything from her feelings of hopelessness rooted in her problems with her dad to her suicide attempts. As a freshmen in high school, I had no idea how to respond, so I hugged her. While embracing each other, she asked if I would lead her in a prayer to ask God into her heart. A few months later, God blessed me with the opportunity to baptize her with her mom at Stones Crossing. Shortly, after she made a nonprofit organization called Project Hope that helped girls, like her, who struggled with mental illness. She inspired me and became one of my very best friends. During our junior year, I finally understood the true reasoning behind why God called me to her. She died in surgery to remove a blood clot in her lung. It was the most devastating moment in my life, yet I felt as if it was also the moment that grew me the most. I learned more about myself in those couple months than any other but I also learned that I no longer needed to question God. He knew what he was doing and because I listened to Him, I am able to find comfort in knowing that she is in Heaven and I can see her one day.

[Here is a link to the video of Kara’s baptism…. Kara’s Video]

Chapter 7: Behind My Mask
While I had confidence in God, I did not have confidence in myself. Kara’s death caused more than an immense amount of grief in my life. It forced me to acknowledge that I had problems I had been shoving deep within myself. It caused me to lift off the mask and look at who I truly was. I labeled myself as a strong Christian that shared Jesus with people; that was my mask. Her death forced the mask off as it was the last thing that pushed me off the ledge. I finally acknowledged that my relationship with God was strained; it was a weeping flower just waiting to be watered. I had spent so much time pouring water on all the other flowers that I had forgot to water myself. I also came to terms and finally accepted what I had attempted to so long to convince myself otherwise: I have anxiety. With anxiety comes great obstacles that I have been attempting to conquer by shoving everything away. By facing my anxiety, I was able to accept my anxiety. Accepting my anxiety, allowed me to be able to find other things that helped me through it. Those things uncovered my interests and passions. Kara unlocked a part of me I still am not sure I would have unlocked without her.

Chapter 8: Looking Towards What Gave me Comfort
Within the past two years, I have come to terms with who I feel I am and how to accept myself. Even though my dad would have preferred an athletic cheerleader for a daughter, he received a nerd who loves to read, write, paint, and perform spoken word. Those four things have become my outlet. They allow me to never shove down what I am feeling like I did before but rather empty them out. They weed out the bad that is taking up the nutrients from the water I now purposefully fill myself with. I still have many circumstances that are not the best, but now I am able to allow myself to panic for a brief time then let it go. After letting it go, I can go laugh with my best friends Lauren, Katelyn, Sydney, Bree, or Molly. I can wander a bookstore and wonder about each of the adventures I could take just by opening a cover. I can sit in a Starbucks coffee shop, enjoying the heavenly taste of coffee or tea while passionately diving into my academics. I can attend my guitar lessons and learn to play better at guitar. I can think about my memories of travel to Florida, Nashville, California, and Texas. I can look forward to the traveling I will one day take. I can look forward to a career in education where maybe one day I can impact a child like my fourth grade teacher did for me. I am no longer consumed with the idea of “I can’t” but the idea of “I can.”
I want to continue the legacy of my beautiful great grandmother that I share the same name with. I want to make her proud of what I do in the world. Even though she is still alive today, she is battling Alzeihmers. She does not always remember that I am the other Julia or recognize who I am, but she does remember one thing. She remembers each time I embrace her in a hug before I leave to shout “See ya later alligator! After while crocodile!”

Anxiety: I Will Win This War

Overwhelmed.

You are overwhelmed with self doubt.

It is as if you are in an emotional drought.

Your eyelids are completely dry

Because you have run out of tears to cry.

You have no energy anymore;

All the negative emotions make you sore.

You feel so torn.

You are just flat out worn.

You keep getting knocked down hard,

Leaving you bruised and scarred.

You just want to give in,

But at the same time you DON’T WANT TO LET SATAN WIN.

You know God is your Savior and light.

It’s just so easy to lose sight.

Why is He letting terrible things happen to me?

Doesn’t He listen and see?

He talks of lavishing his love;

He talks of being as pure as a dove

You think the storm won’t quit,

BUT then the light is lit.

For a miracle is born.

He comes to save your heart that’s worn.

He leaps into your heart

Not letting Satan himself rip it apart.

He whispers that you are His son or daughter

Then proves it by walking on water.

He then changes your entire life,

Cutting away your loneliness like a knife.

He forgives you and enables you

And enables you to forgive yourself too.

With Him we are changed forever

Because our Lord is so brilliant and clever.

He somehow knows everything about you.

In fact, we have absolutely no clue.

He sent His one and only son

Because of all the sin we had done.

We are unworthy of that kind of compassion,

but our Father has perfect passion.

He presents us with a second chance.

Heaven seems like an unfathomable trance.

Because of this love, I know with certainty…

I will one day be with my Father, my Savior, for all of eternity.

Anxiety grasped control of my life around middle school and clenched its’ grasp harder as high school rolled around. It is a daily battle that I face. The picture above holds a deep meaning to me as it symbolizes many things. One, I am in the middle of a forest. Many people find comfort in nature, but I am the opposite. I find comfort in a coffee shop or in a book store. When I am in a forest my anxiety spikes. The darkness and unknown that surrounds me in a forest represents all my fears. The location of the picture is also in my grandmother’s backyard. It is where I had the best of times with my aunt and the worst of times. This picture captures a lot of hurt, but notice I am not looking down nor am I tense. I am looking towards the heavens at my Savior. Amidst all the darkness that circumstances and anxiety brings symbolized by the forest surrounding me, I am able to look up. I know that that is the only way I will conquer this beast…through God’s help.  Anxiety has won many battles, but I am ready to win the war.

A couple verses that have helped me in times of panic are the following:

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
—Matthew 6:34

“We can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
—Hebrews 13:6

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
—1 Peter 5:5-7

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
—Revelation 21:4