Tag Archives: Christianity

NEW! Affirmation Cards: Encouragement for the Heart

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Hey everyone!

I’m so excited about this. My mom is a fantastic artist over at Sparrow’s Journey by Heather Santos (first link is her blog, second link is her Facebook). She’s a self-taught artist, which is even cooler. She uses her art as an outlet for her thoughts and emotions…and it shows through powerfully in each piece she does.

She recently (January) made Truth Cards for the Brave Girls Club, which were sent to the Philippines as little notes of encouragement to women who were rebuilding their lives after being trapped by poverty (or force) into human trafficking. (They teamed up with Full Circle Exchange to help these women get into lifestyles and careers that would support their families and take them out of the sex trafficking industry for good.)

But as more and more of her customers in the U.S. started asking for these cards, she realized something…

Women and men EVERYWHERE need words of encouragement, just like these.

And that’s where I come in to the story…

She asked me to create some encouraging words to put on cards that she would paint the backgrounds for.

So I wrote down things that I need to hear, things that I’ve been told in the past, things that I tell myself every day to keep me going, whispers from my Creator that comfort me…and this is the product.

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There are several more designs (and sayings) available in her etsy shop (including some more suited for men). They are only $5.50 (free shipping!) and they make a great gift. My mom and her coworkers even handed these out to girls on campus on Valentine’s Day. She said they seemed happy and touched–and I’m convinced that they are keeping these cards close by, for reference. 😉

So if you know anyone who needs encouragement, or if you know that you need one of these around to encourage you (like I do), then consider stopping by.

Because everyone deserves to know that they are loved. That’s what we humans were made for, anyways!

 

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God and Depression: What Does the Journey Really Look Like?

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Recently, I’ve been going through something I’ve been graciously calling a “funk”. You know, it can’t possibly be depression; I have no reason to be depressed because life is going pretty well; it hasn’t gone on for long enough to really be considered depression; it is not as bad as other people’s so I don’t really have the right to call it depression. Maybe these were little lies to get me by. But now, I’m ready to look at it for what it really is.

I stopped writing. I stopped prioritizing my spending and my daily tasks, stopped thinking of my to-do lists. I stopped wanting to hang out with my friends, but they wouldn’t know; I was happy to see them all the same. I stopped enjoying my practice times, and didn’t really get much done. The house is a mess, the dishes are dirty. The bathroom needs cleaned and the laundry needs put away. I haven’t done my Stats homework in over two weeks.

There is no motivation. It’s not that I’m motivated to not do things, like those times when I push myself way too hard and I desperately need a break–when I’m burning out. There is simply…nothing.

I’m having a tough time explaining myself well, so here is an excerpt from a journal-like post I started to write the other day…(dont’ speed read over this. You’ll miss it.) Read the rest of this entry

Au Contraire, Rose

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Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?
Is it your too fragile joy
That caused you to become
This armed thing?

But from whom does it protect you,
This exaggerated defense?
How many enemies have I
Lifted from you that did not fear it at all?
On the contrary, from summer to autumn
You wound the affection that is given you.

Against whom, Rose,
Have you assumed these thorns?

I’m supposed to be writing a paper about this piece. Instead, I’m writing this.

If tears didn’t accompany you to the end of this piece, go back and listen again. And this time, let yourself feel.

 

Au contraire!

 

You see, I cannot write at this moment, because I cannot stop listening. Cannot stop feeling.

Not just because the music is beautiful. No, if it were just that, I wouldn’t have been so terrified to play it back in November. (My stage fright only comes when I don’t have adequate emotions to express.)

No, not that–but because I have finally understood what it means.

 

Au contraire!

 

Of all the moments in my life, these are perhaps the most beautiful.

 

Au contraire, Rose! No longer must you hold up your thorns to the outside world! I hold you now. Your thorns do nothing but hurt me…and hurt yourself.

No, my own defenses never protect me from that which I defend myself.

They only defend me from that which can protect me the most.

 

Au contraire! You are so wrong, my dear Rose…you are worth everything to me, please wound me no longer!

I am yours. And you are mine.

I am yours, and you are Mine.

 

What a Saviour I have, indeed–One who makes everything beautiful when I am so wrong.

And what a husband I have, indeed–one who reminds me of my beauty as I heal.

My Love Story, Part 6: The Engagement

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

Part 5: Long Distance

 

I’ve been putting off writing this particular post because I felt that I “wasn’t far enough along in the engagement” to adequately describe it, to sum it up.

And, well, plans changed, and all of a sudden, my engagement is nearly over. But certainly not over in a bad way.

I wish I could live in that moment, where he got up from the other side of the table and came over to my seat to get down on one knee. It was thrilling. Not even the knowledge of its coming when he picked me up in a new dress shirt and sport coat brought that moment down.

People always ask me: “Why are you getting married? How do you know that he’s ‘the one’?”

Married people always tell you, “When you know, you know.” I always thought they were kinda crazy…especially when I thought I knew with the last guy I had. But when that phrase “I want to marry you” is followed by its proof–a period of drastic growth in both individuals and in the relationship–that’s when you really know. And I could sit around for years telling you what I now know to be important before choosing a husband, but I’ll save that for another time.

It was around the six month mark that it actually came out of our mouths. Now, that was about a year ago. And of course, looking at that point in our relationship from the perspective I have now, it’s crazy to think that I could have believed that I was ready to be married. But that’s a good thing. If I could say that we were the same people as we were a year ago, and that we had the same relationship, there would be a problem.

The most honorable thing I can say about our engagement is this: it has been a period of more growth than I could have imagined was possible in such a short amount of time.

It’s awesome to watch Matt step into the “husband” shoes…to take responsibility for me in a healthy way and to learn to love me in the way God desires for us. And likewise, I am slowly learning to respect him and his decisions, and to not try to take control of everything, the way I always do.

But still, one of the greatest things I have battled throughout our engagement is fear.

Not fear of him or myself. Not fear of our failure or fear that it won’t work out or fear that I am marrying the wrong person or at the wrong time. Fear of what others might think of me.

It often seems to me that a canyon lies between what I expect others to think of me, and what others do indeed think of me. But other times, the two are identical. The bad thing is, I always expect the worse: people will lose faith in me, they will think me foolish, they will misunderstand, they will be angry, they will look down upon me,…

It’s such a shame that marriage at a young age is so looked down upon. One author on Boundless said this:

Some people should marry when young; others should marry when older; still others, who have the gift of celibacy, should not marry at all. What I criticized was the trend toward later and later marriages. The problem isn’t that people are marrying late — the problem is that too many people are marrying later than they should. Those who should marry when young are marrying when old, and those who should marry when old are marrying older still. Some who should marry never do at all.

Of course, it comforted me that someone backed me up on my opinion. But what I really needed was for someone to put words to what exactly I was experiencing. And to know that I’m okay.

Another thing my mom told me, before we got engaged, was this: “College doesn’t have to have a white picket fence around it.”

That image of the “strong, independent woman” that gets a degree, establishes a career, and then starts considering marriage–which my dad had painted in my head–was not to be mine. In fact, that sounded pretty boring to me.

In the end…God’s plans are bigger and more exciting than a four year curriculum. And He doesn’t expect me or want me to neglect all other parts of my life while I’m in the land of Academia. I’m so grateful for that. Who knows! He might even whisk us away to some new adventure that totally exceeds our expectations for the future. Knowing Him, that’s probably what He’ll do.

And now…we have come to the end of the Love Story series. I’m kind of sad to see it go, since it has been the biggest part of my blog for the few months of its existence. From here on out, my blog will probably be peppered with various lessons God teaches me through our marriage. For Matthew will no longer be just a person in my life…but my own flesh:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “[…] From the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:5-8, NKJV)

August 10th, here we come!

My Love Story, Part 5: Long Distance

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Part 1: The Hang-Ups

Part 2: Falling in Love with a Savior

Part 3: Love at Second Sight

Part 4: A Spiritual Leader

We spent the summer together, all day, every day. It was wonderful, and we became accustomed to one another. It was nearly impossible to let go, that night before I left for college. To be completely honest, I’ve repressed the memory (unintentionally) and it no longer exists.

There is a lot of bitterness stored up in this part of my life…and a lot of strong–hardly harnessed, truly–emotions that had no outlet then. This is essentially their first outlet. It’s something I didn’t share then, and I wouldn’t have thought to share now (until this series came along). The following information is an incohesive cloud of emotions that overlap and work together to create a toxic mess.

Read the rest of this entry

A Sunny Bike Ride

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So, I’ve been riding my bike EVERYWHERE recently. Work. Walmart. Starbucks. Matt’s apartment. Soon, FSU. Anything is possible with the city bus system and a bike.

When I go to the two “main” places–work, and the bus stop at Walmart–it is mostly uphill. Then, when I come home, it’s a breeze because it’s downhill the whole way. I guess my house is in a weird valley where EVERYTHING else is uphill from me.

So one day last week, I was just…wiped out. My allergies kinda cut my feet out from under me. But I still had an errand to run before I hung out with a friend, so I did.

On my way home, I was really relieved to just coast downhill the whole way, as usual. But whenever I turn onto my street, that very last leg of the trip, it’s a long uphill slope. Like, unbearable. Like, what-the-crap-why-does-my-life-suck misery.

But I knew what was at the end of it. Home. Peace and quiet and air conditioning. And I couldn’t get off and walk my bike now! I was almost there!

It’s the worst thing ever…every time I do it. But God whispered a little something to me as I was pedaling, oh so diligently…

Even when you’re coasting downhill easily the whole way, you’ll still have to push at the very end to get Home.

I’m not sure what He meant. But here is my current commentary.

It’s easy to get lazy when everything’s going great for you. It’s easy to get discouraged when only one obstacle stands in your way. I’ve always worked best when I have a billion different things going on that have to get done. But when my schedule is open and free, and I only have to do one thing…well, it gets procrastinated a little more than it deserves. And when everything is easy but one thing stands in my way, I get way more upset about it than if I had many more things to deal with.

Maybe this is what He meant. But even if He didn’t, I’m both excited and scared to see what He means.

That’s the thing with such a grand and mysterious and loving God: you never quite know what to expect.

Day 6: Steal; Savor the Journey

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This is Day 6 of the Great Writers series from Goins, Writer.

I haven’t really been blogging through it because I’ve kinda been lacking inspiration (as silly as that may seem…seeing as I am given a prompt every day to work on). Most of them have seemed to me to be “thinking” prompts, and they all seem to be centered around starting a project. I haven’t been at this whole writing thing for long, so I don’t have any dreams yet to put into action.

But anyways, I am totally up for today’s challenge: take inspiration from somewhere else, and incorporate it into my writing.

One thing that really inspires me is my mom’s art. She is so talented and it’s been a beautiful journey to watch her art change and develop as she pursues it more. When I see a new painting of hers, I feel like I am looking directly at her heart.

“Savor the Journey” by Heather Santos at Sparrow’s Journey

I want you to take a long, hard (or soft) look at that piece before reading on. Notice the details. Notice your emotions. Think about what it means to the artist…to you.

Read the rest of this entry