Monday, July 9, 2012

Words

Words used to work.  I was able to write things out and understand them better than I had before.  I felt satisfied with what I wrote.  I felt that writing was one of the best ways to honestly express how you feel.  Maybe that's why journalism has appealed to me in such a huge way... I felt that writing is honesty on paper; a soul opened up for us to catch glimpses of.  Beauty.

I am becoming less and less satisfied with my writing.  I enjoy the process that is writing, probably more than I used to, in fact, but the end product almost disgusts me now.  There are so many things that words just cannot express.

Grief.  What an empty, pathetic excuse for a word.  The word itself doesn't understand the thing that it is meant to describe.

Joy.  How can true joy ever be contained in that tiny little word.  How can the indescribable peace in the midst of trial and storm ever be described adequately?  How can we even try to attempt it?

Confusion.  It sounds so simple, but it is anything but.  I can't describe it, can't use words, because I can't understand it.  Like waves are rushing around and there feels like there's no way out, but really there are multiple ways, and that's what's wrong.  No way to explain it with empty words.

Love.  Dare I even write about such a sacred thing?  How is it that we throw this glorious word around as though it's an empty water bottle?  People, this is the holy grail!

I've noticed that in conversations I have been using the word, "like," quite a lot.  I used to, and then I did speech and debate and got rid of filler words such as this one, but I've started using it again because there are no words that actually fit.  I'll say, "I feel like..." or, "It's like..." and I don't mean it as a filler word at all, I mean it as it is supposed to be used.  I mean to say, "I'm feeling similar to..." or, "It's quite similar to..."

No words actually work in and of themselves.

So why am I trying to use words to explain this thought?

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Over and out,

~Emily

P.S. Just to clarify, I do not think that love is just a feeling, as maybe it looks like the above graphic implies... my thoughts on that are written here.  These simple words from Pooh, though, seemed just right.  <3

Sunday, July 1, 2012

...And rescue those in the valley...

Oh you bring hope to the hopeless
And light to those in the darkness
And death to life, now I'm alive

Oh you give peace to the restless
And joy to homes that are broken
I see you now, in you I'm found

And you open the door for me
And you lay down your life to set me free
All that I am will serve you Lord

Oh you fill those who are empty
And rescue those in the valley
And through it all you calm my soul

Oh now you find me in my weakness
And heal the wounds of my heartache
And I worship you in spirit and truth

And you open the door for me
And you lay down your life to set me free
All that I am will serve you Lord

And you open my eyes to see
All the wonder and awe of Christ in me
Jesus you're everything I need

All honor
All glory
All praise to you 

And you open the door for me
And you lay down your life to set me free
All that I am will serve you Lord

And you open my eyes to see
All the wonder and awe of Christ in me
Jesus you're everything I need 



(Hillsong United, Oh You Bring)


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Over and out,


~Emily

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On To The Next Adventure

I am now an NCFCA Alum.

I'll never compete in speech or debate again.

I was totally depressed about this for a little while, but somehow God has given me such a peace about it.

I am so grateful for the past four years of my life, the wonderful friendships that I've formed, the crazy situations and the coffee runs.

I'm so grateful for all of the nail polish used to fix nylons, the absurd amount of makeup used, the hair emergencies and the nerves.

I'm so grateful for the tension before rounds and anticipation before breaks.

I'm so grateful for the lack of sleep and the dark circles under our glossy eyes.

I'm so grateful for the prayers, hugs, tears, encouragement and love.

But now I have to move on.

God is so good.  I was nearly panicking right after the awards ceremony at Nationals three days ago.  I felt this knot in my stomach; a sinking, sick feeling.  I couldn't stop thinking, "this will never happen again...this is it."  I walked around the after party, drinking every detail of it in; watching my friends read their ballots, play games, sign ballot envelopes and tee shirts.  Tears came to my eyes on and off, and I didn't have much control over my emotions.  All of a sudden I didn't feel ready.  I wanted to rip up my diploma and compete for another year.  I wanted Nationals never to end.

But it had to.

A friend invited me to play frisbee with a group of people, and I'm so glad that I did.

The sprinklers were on.

It. Was. Amazing.

It was only dimly lit, as it was about 11pm, and the sprinklers turned on and off multiple times.  There were only four people on each team, so we each got to be more involved than in larger games.  Everyone was pretty hyper, the guys were making animal calls and yelling hilarious things, and I loved every second of it.

We made our way to the lake afterward, and it was stunning.  I had seen it during the day, but it was so still and calm and quiet.  A few of us stuck our feet in, and the water was pleasantly warm, so a couple of the guys jumped in and swam around for a little while (pretending that sea monsters were attacking them, and other such manly things...).

One of the guys did his best to shame the others for not jumping in along with him, and then we tossed the frisbee back and forth on our way back to the dorms.  We raced part of the way and then were met by a girl from another Region who told us that there had been an accident at the after party, and a student had been knocked unconscious.

We all fell to our knees and started praying right there on the sidewalk.

The young man is fine now, and was released from the hospital later that night, but this is part of why I have loved competing so much: when something horrible happens, when it is suitable to panic, when joyful times slip away in an instant we fall to our knees and surround the throne of God.

I've never seen this kind of passion for and dependence on the Lord in any other place.  This is part of why I had been so sad about leaving.  How could I ever find that kind of thing somewhere else?

But then I realized something.  When we were playing frisbee the tournament was over.  We could have been playing just as easily anywhere else.  The guys could have jumped in any other lake.  We could have prayed together and stayed up until 3am any other time (well, that last one doesn't happen too often...but it is possible...theoretically).  These experiences and friendships are not limited to tournaments.  We could choose to seek God first in any tragedy or accident, just as we did that night.  God is just as powerful, just as present, just as involved in our lives outside of tournaments.

I'm going to miss competing, of course.  How could I not miss it?  But I'm seeing that God's timing is always best, and I'm stoked to see what He has in mind for this next chapter in my life.

"The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore."
(Psalm 121:8)


My amazing Region, praying together first thing in the morning.
Over and out,

~Emily

P.S.  If any of you were at Nationals and I don't have your email, please contact me so that we may keep in touch.  I love you all to death and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know you.  Blessings!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Change, Worry and Knocking

I tend to think that I love change.  I love new adventures.  I love going to new places.  I love meeting new people.  I love re-arranging furniture and trying new recipes.

But when I come to big changes in life; when I come to fearfully new things, things I've always dreamed of, things that are not new ideas, but rather new experiences, when I come to these things, I can feel my mind's heels dragging in the dirt, trying to stop them from happening.  I try to get used to these things, try to feel fine about them, but the whole, "mind over matter," idea has never worked too well for me.

It's so easy to forget that God has this all in His hand.  It's easy to think, "Uh-oh, unknown territory!  Reverse!  Get me out of here!"

But then we get sick of our lives.  I get so sick and tired of always doing the same things, never moving forward, never turning the page to the next chapter.  So, why not allow Him to turn the pages?  Why am I holding onto the page I'm on, as though my life depends on it?

Looking back on my life, the past year has been filled with change.  Little changes that I barely even noticed at the time have now become monumental in my walk with the Lord.  God uses change for good.  God uses everything for good.


Why is this so hard to remember?  It's so easy to worry about every little detail of everything, but I usually get in the way when I do that.  

I'm not advocating "Let go and let God."  I think that's silly.  God never had anyone sit there and have Him wait on them hand and foot.  God never had anyone do nothing.  However, we over-think things, in regards to worry.  I firmly believe that we should not jump into things without praying about it.  But, praying about it shouldn't take two years.  And if it does, get off the couch and do something while you're praying!  

Oh, I find myself using excuse after excuse for not knocking on doors.  "The time isn't right."  "I haven't heard God tell me yet." ect.  Now, if God is telling you the time isn't right, then so be it.  But if you are waiting for fireworks in the sky, you will almost definitely be out of luck.

I've been realizing more and more lately, that following God is like it was with Abraham.  God didn't give him a map, He didn't point out every trial along the way, every landmark, every river.  God tells us to take a step, and then another and then another.  As with the Israelites, God is a pillar of fire by night.  We can't see anything else; we can't see where we're going.  We just follow.

Or we should anyway.

Why do I feel like I need to know everything?  Why do I dip one toe into the water and hold it there for five hours before stepping in?  It sounds absurd when I put it that way, doesn't it?  Five hours?  But when I think about that, I do that all the time.

It ought to be simple.

Follow the pillar.  you may not see anything else, but follow Him, and all will be well.  

For some reason this is hard to execute, though.  I think that the pillar is usually two inches outside of our comfort zones, and that two inches can seem terrifying.

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Over and out,

~Emily

P.S.  Wow, it took me forever to type this.  I'm pretty sure I broke my pinkie yesterday, so it's taped to my ring finger and I lost the use of both fingers... I've never made so many typos in my life!


Lavender photo from here.  Verse added by myself.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

An Incredible Song

Hey folks, I just thought you might be interested in this.  Most of you have read my posts about Josh (if not, read them here and here), and have at least a slight understanding of how fantastic he was, how passionate he is about the Lord, and what a wonderful example he has been for everyone who knew him, and many who didn't.

Well, his younger sister wrote the lyrics to a song, and a very close friend wrote music, sang and recorded it.  It was played at Josh's memorial service and there were more than a few wet eyes.

Anyway, they decided to sell digital downloads of the song, with all of the proceeds going to the scholarship fund for ALERT Academy that has been set up in Josh's name.

Please check the song out here, and please pray about purchasing it.  This is truly a wonderful cause and I know that you'll love the song.



Over and out,

~Emily

Friday, June 1, 2012

Life Lately...

Hearing:  Happy Songs,  Calming Songs,   Worshipful Songs.

Safetysuit.  It was Josh's favorite band, and they are absolutely incredible.


Reading:  Galatians and Psalms.  Every verse in the Bible means so much right now.  I find myself grasping each word and clinging to it to survive.  

The Holiness of God, by R.C. Sproul.  I've never had any book (other than the Bible) put me in such overwhelming awe of Who God is.  Really, truly, you ought to read it.

Watching:  Julian Smith Spoofs.  This is a friend's YouTube channel, and I must say, I prefer these to Julian Smith's videos (although "Buffering" and "Bless You" are pretty hilarious).  Josh is in a few of the videos, and they are amazing. 

Dreaming of:  Someday seeing Josh and Caroline again.  Right after Josh died I felt like I had a glimpse of heaven.  It's like I tasted a sip of perfect wine, and now I'm back to cheap grape juice.  I've never longed for my true home this badly.  I can hardly wait to party with you two someday.  

Loving:  Chocolate covered espresso beans.  Days out with close friends.  Frozen cookie dough.  Loud music.  Google+ Hangouts.  Cooking dinner.  Eating dinner...

Writing:  Jumbled, nonsensical, rambling, venting journal entries and blog posts... Arg.

Circular journal entries.  This is a really fun way to write verses, quotes, song lyrics etc.  For some reason I love this right now.  
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Feeling:  I have determined that I can rarely decipher my feelings.  I honestly wish I could.  It's rather annoying.  Arg.  

Disliking:  The crazy mood swings I've been having lately... I'm quite befuddled.  

That I can't have rice crispies any more...ever.

Anticipating:  Nationals.  I'm unnaturally calm about the idea of competing, and unnaturally nervous about preparing for the trip and fundraising.  It's going to be incredible, though.  

A grand get together tomorrow night.  I'm very excited and hope to post about it in a few days.

Feeling Thankful For:  The beautiful sun.  Birds singing like there's no tomorrow.  A lovely breeze blowing through the trees.  A tree shedding its petals; it looks like it's snowing.  Peonies blooming.  Planting my herb garden.  Getting dirt under my fingernails.  Grace.  Hope.  Love.  Forgiveness.  Joy.  Jesus.

Over and out,

~Emily

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pleasing Who?

I have a tendency to worry about what people think of me.  Now, I think it's good to think twice before we say anything, and that goes for messages and emails, too ("Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." ~James 1:19), but as with most things in life, we can go way overboard in this.

But then I've been thinking about Josh (go figure), and why he was so special to each of us who knew him.  Why is it that his life is so inspiring to us?  Why do each of us want to be just like him?  Why are we comparing everything we do with how Josh would have done it, or would have wanted us to do it?  No, we shouldn't be worshiping Josh or placing him on a pedestal.  He certainly wasn't perfect; he had plenty of flaws, but we can definitely be learning from his example.

Josh was so transparent.  This is only one of the reasons we all want to be more like him, but it's huge.  He was one of the most honest people I've ever met, but somehow he knew how to say things, honest things that might be hard to hear, in a way that people would receive them.  He spoke the truth in love.  He shared his feelings freely.  He didn't hide things from people just because they may have thought he was being too outgoing.

I was praying about this a few nights ago, and then I opened my Bible up.  I realized I had just finished the book I had been reading previously, and hadn't decided on the next one to read, but I felt the urge to turn a couple of pages to the right, which turned out to be Galatians.

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Wow.  I love that God directed me to read this very passage.

I am concerned about what others think of me.  I don't want people thinking I'm not acting properly, or that I'm not doing what I ought to do.  I never used to talk to guys very much, because I was concerned that people might think I was being overly...outgoing?  (I'm trying to be as tactful as I can here...)

But I've noticed, since Josh passed away,

since I've been paying attention to the still, small voice of God more closely,

since I've stopped caring so much about what others think,

that God has actually been telling me to go out of my way and talk to people, including guys.

Josh didn't not talk to girls, he talked to them all he time.  He went out of his way to make sure nobody was left out; nobody was in the corner.  How many times have I left someone sitting alone, just because he was a guy and I didn't want people to think things?

WHO CARES?!

Life is so short; so precious, and you never know who may treasure memories of conversations with you when you're no longer here.

If I was never supposed to talk to guys, then why has God been telling me to so frequently?  I never used to listen to that voice, particularly when it was telling me to go talk with a young gentleman, but now that I am, I've been having such great, encouraging conversations with girls and guys alike.

How hard is it to just ask someone how they're doing, and listen to their answer?

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I guess I'm just seeing how many times I've not gone and talked to people I ought to have, because I was worried about what other people would think.  I was, "trying to please man."  

The thing is, I've been the person left in the corner before; the person nobody would talk to, and I know how badly that hurts.  So, why would I inflict that on others?

I'm not saying we should say or do whatever pops into our minds.  Please don't misunderstand me.  We do definitely need to be careful about the words we use.

"A Gentle tongue is a tree of life, 
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit."
(Psalm 15:4)

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, 
and those who love it will eat its fruits."
(Psalm 18:21)

My point is we use these verses to advocate not talking when we ought to.  

I'm just starting not to care what others think of me, and I pray that I never will again.

I don't care if people think I'm too forward because I have one on one conversations with guys.  As a friend of mine once said, "Guys are people, too!"

I don't care if I miss visiting with my friends because someone new needs to be talked to.

I don't think Josh cared, and I don't either.  One step in the right direction.

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Over and out,

~Emily

P.S. I graduated high school on the 22nd!  Post coming soon... 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In Memoriam

Almost two weeks ago now Josh left this broken world to be with his Creator and Savior.

The Memorial celebration of his life is to be held this Saturday.  For those of you unable to attend, I hope you'll take the time to watch the live streaming of this joyous event at: joshuaeddymemorial.com 11:00 Pacific Time, Saturday, May 19.

Please continue to keep Josh's family and friends in your prayers.


Over and out,

~Emily

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Want it NOW

I am ever waging a war against discontentment.  Right now, I'm content with what I have, where I live, my family and my friends, but myself...that's a different story.

I have been wanting fruit so badly.  I want to see that God is using me to further His Kingdom!  I want to know for sure, but focusing on fruit is just as bad as pouring too much energy into anything else, other than glorifying God.  

"He [the blessed man] is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, 
and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers."
(Psalm 1:3)

Okay, so am I not one of the blessed?  I'm not seeing too much fruit, so... Wait a minute.  "yields its fruit in its season."

It's season.  Not harvest time, when I see fruit in everyone else's lives, but rather, the time that God knows is my season.  I've been seeing so much fruit coming from Josh's death, and in other friends' lives and it's hard not to become discouraged.  The thing that's difficult to remember is that God's timing is best.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time."
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I don't know that Josh saw much fruit in his life before he died.  Maybe he did, I certainly can't say for sure, but this does make me wonder.  He definitely didn't see the kind of fruit that is being harvested now.  I wonder if he was getting discouraged over not seeing much fruit.  God, the great gardener, knows when the fruit is ready to be harvested, and it's rarely the same time for each of us.

Sometimes I can get so obsessed with producing fruit that I forget to prune the tree.  I'm too caught up in looking up into the dying branches to remember that the tree needs watering.  I see the tree next to me, which is beautiful and simply stuffed with its juicy crop, and I become disgusted in my own poor, sad, naked little branches.  Somehow I don't stop to consider why the other tree is doing so well.

Josh didn't do anything extraordinary, but he did all the ordinary things in an extraordinary way: he did them for God.  I'm not saying Josh was perfect, but he got it.  Why would God trust me with precious fruit when I have neglected to deal with the bugs eating away at my roots?  

"Well done, good and faithful servant.  
You have been faithful over a little; 
I will set you over much."  
(Matthew 25:21)

I've been wanting fruit pretty badly.  And I think that's a good desire; it will hopefully push me to work hard at doing fruitful things for the Kingdom.  But, as with anything else, when it is taking too much of our time away from worshiping and glorifying God, it's not healthy.  And when I'm wanting the product, but not to produce it, then that's only going to be counterproductive.

You know what just hit me?  Wanting fruit too badly was what got us into this whole mess in the first place...

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This post was kind of all over the place; I hope some of it made sense!  Love you all. <3

Over and out,

~Emily

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grains of Sand

I was working on this post before we heard the news about Josh.  I think it's more relevant than ever, 
and I want to share it with you.  This was written on day three of this last speech tournament.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sometimes God moves a mountain all at once, and other times he subtly moves one small grain of sand at a time.  I have had speech rounds before where God has literally fed me each individual line of my speech, one at a time.  I've had rounds where I've gotten so into my topic or character that I finish so emotionally and physically drained that I've almost passed out.  I've Had rounds where God chose to humble me, and somehow He helped me to understand the message that He was teaching me, rather than being upset.

I could go on and on about the amazing experiences I've had in my four years of competing, but today was a grain of sand type of day.  God blessed me in so many ways today; so many little, tiny ways.  You know, each of my days are probably just as stuffed full of little miracles as today was, but I don't generally notice them...Oh, how I'm missing out!  Hearing people tell me that my eight year old sister prayed with them before their semis round brought me near tears.  Having one of my timers tell me that my Persuasive was exactly what she needed to hear made my day.  Praying with people before rounds put everything in perspective.  Seeing young men open doors for women, allowing them to walk somewhere first, and just being gentlemen was encouraging.  Hugging my mom, just filled me with joy.

My speech, "career," is almost done, and I've found myself fearing that I won't have the same faith awakening, stretching experiences once I'm done.  But really, God is just as involved in our lives everyday at home as He is during these times.  My little sister is just as much a blessing every day as she was today.  God can, and does, speak through each of us every day, just as He does when we give prepared speeches.  Praying for people doesn't work better at tournaments, He is just as much involved in our lives and answers our prayers in the same way when we pray on ordinary days.  Young men, believe it or not, do open doors and allow us to walk first and they are gentlemen (at least a good amount of them are...) in the, "real world," not just at tournaments. And I can most certainly hug my mom just as many times every day as I did today, and she's just as awesome on, "normal," days as when she's wearing a super-spy earpiece at tournaments (oh yeah, my mom is the bomb).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since writing the above, God has been working in the most mysterious ways.  Josh is no longer on earth, and is rather praising God in his new home.  I qualified to Nationals in three events, two of which Josh helped me with, but qualifying has lost its wonder.  I'm now just wanting to present these speeches for God's glory, to make Josh proud.  People are hurting, feeling confused, possibly even angry.  But still, God works through the mountains and the grains of sand, and He is always right here with us, every step of the way.  

  1. All the way my Savior leads me,
    What have I to ask beside?
    Can I doubt His tender mercy,
    Who through life has been my Guide?
    Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
    Here by faith in Him to dwell!
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well;
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well.
  2. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Cheers each winding path I tread,
    Gives me grace for every trial,
    Feeds me with the living Bread.
    Though my weary steps may falter
    And my soul athirst may be,
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see;
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see.
  3. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Oh, the fullness of His love!
    Perfect rest to me is promised
    In my Father’s house above.
    When my spirit, clothed immortal,
    Wings its flight to realms of day
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way;
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way.
    (Fanny Crosby)


    Please continue to keep Josh's family and friends in your prayers.  Also, his parents just found the blog post that he was working on, but was unable to finish, on his computer.  Please read that here.

    Over and out,

    ~Emily

Monday, May 7, 2012

Not of this World

Josh, I miss you so much.  I wasn't super close to you; wasn't one of your best friends by any stretch, but you have influenced me in ways I can't explain.

Your joyful, happy, enthusiastic attitude has always amazed me.  Always running barefoot.  Always wearing shorts.  Always carrying your camera.  I wished I was as cheerful as you.  You told me once that you take ice cold showers, and I was impressed and kind of amazed.  This morning I almost took one, but I chickened out and turned on the hot water.

You helped us in so many ways at speech club!  You gave of your time so that we would do better, and you somehow always knew what to say.

Right now I can remember how you looked while you were coaching us on our speeches.  You always made sure you told us something we did well first, and you would get so excited over those things.  Then you would stare off and squint your eyes a little bit and think for a couple of seconds.  I could see the wheels turning in your head as you found the words to say.  And only when you had figured it out perfectly would you criticize anything in our speeches.  I love that.  I love that you understood how powerful words are, and how easy it is to say the wrong thing, so you thought about it.

Then you went off to ALERT, and we didn't see you for quite awhile.  You got back and you were so changed.  You were still Josh, but the fire that had always burned in you had been fanned and had grown into a blazing inferno; passion for your King.

I remember after speech club one Tuesday your ride hadn't gotten there yet so you, my mom and I had an awesome conversation about what you had learned while you were gone; how much your faith had grown; how you had learned to rely on God and only God.  You mentioned different scenarios that you had had to go through where you were literally at the end of your strength physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and God pulled you through.

I follow lots of blogs, but never, ever have I been so influenced  by something I have read (other than the Bible, naturally) as I was by your post about dying well.  I remember reading it at least five times and then crying and praying hard over it.  I felt so convicted and challenged.

You're gone now, and that reality still isn't sinking in.  But your influence on people's lives has not stopped.  Your life, and death, have touched innumerable lives, and I know that this impact will never end.

I can see you dancing, Josh.  Oh, God, I can see it now.  You are whole!  You are no longer touched by sin.  You are complete, living, dancing, praising, singing, jumping and leaping and never, ever stopping, in the presence of your Savior.

Josh, thank you for changing the world.  Thank you for never stopping.






"For I, the LORD your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, 
"Fear not, I am the One Who helps you.""
(Isaiah 41:13)


Over and out,

~Emily

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sometimes Sarah Is Just Right...

My dear friend, Sarah, is so good to me.  When I'm moaning and moping and pouting and panicking, she is asking me if I've prayed about it, talking me through my problems and telling me to go read my Bible.

I've been having a hard time lately.  I'm trying to be as honest as I can on this blog, within reason of course, and though it's sometimes hard, it is incredibly therapeutic.  Writing things out has a marvelous way of forcing me to sort through thoughts, figure out what exactly I'm feeling and look to God for the answers.

Lately I've been sort of beating up on myself, I guess.  I'm not sure exactly what brought it on, but I'm just seeing myself fail in so many places and mess up in so many others, that it sort of started to weigh on me.

I talked to Sarah about all of this the other day (I ought to pay her, she's such a good psychiatrist!).  She asked so many good questions and we ended up figuring things out quite nicely, but before we got off the phone she told me to go read Psalm 51.

I've always loved parts of this Psalm, but I've never identified with David in this way before.

"For I know my transgressions, 
and my sin is ever before me." 
(Psalm 51:3)


Oh, how I have felt this!  To always be staring your sins in the face and dwelling on how deeply you have messed up is such a crushing weight!  I saw myself passing up opportunity after opportunity and failing with the gifts that God has given me, and it was tearing me apart.  I was allowing satan to overwhelm me with how wretched a creature I am.  Rather than turning this into motivation to do better, though, I felt crippled by the fear that I would, once again, fail.

I'm still not feeling 100% (I still have a looonnnggg way to go), but I'm doing much better and God is teaching me quite a bit.  I had a lovely talk and cup of tea with my mom and that felt amazing.

I guess I'm starting to understand how very important balance is.  See, it's so important to understand how sinful we are, because that shows us a better picture of God's extensive grace.  But we need to understand, also, that God can, and does, work through all of our imperfections and sinful mistakes and He does great things through dreadful failures like me.

"But He said to me, 
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, 
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, 
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God, and not to us.  
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not driven to despair; 
persecuted, but not forsaken; 
struck down, but not destroyed; 
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, 
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, 
so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  
So death is at work in us, but life in you."
(2 Corinthians 4:7-12)

Source
Over and out,

~Emily

P.S.  We're off to another speech tournament tomorrow.  It would be wonderful if you would keep everyone involved in your prayers.  Blessings!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Senior Shots

I got my senior photos taken today!  I'm pretty excited about them; the photographer is amazing and we found some pretty snazzy locations.

Here are a few of the close-ups:



You should check out some of Lucas' other work at his blog, here and his Facebook page, here.

The weather has been absolutely glorious this week.  Spring has almost sprung into summer in a matter of days and I'm eating up every minute of it.

Over and out,

~Emily

P.S.  Just realized I'm facing the same way in these shots...oh well, maybe I'll share more later.  <3

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Hard Week and Choices...

I have not had a lovely week, so far.  Saturday and Sunday I had dreadful, "I-Need-More-Caffeine," headaches, Sunday I made the mistake of trying to trim my own hair and it ended up about five inches shorter than I wanted it to be (read about that here) and yesterday and today I've had pretty intense abdominal pain (read about that here).

But with frustrations comes a grand choice: to be joyful or to wallow in my troubles.  Sadly, I've been choosing the latter, and I've been suffering from my self inflicted grumbles.  I have chosen not to be joyful, and guess what?  I'm not joyful...and it stinks, to be quite frank.  I've been tired, irritable and lazy.  Yes, I'm currently not feeling well at all, but that doesn't necessitate laziness.  I have plenty of work that can all be done on my computer but instead I have been sitting doing nothing, mourning my hair and grumbling about my stomach.

Joy, like love, is a choice.  Happiness is being in lovely circumstances and being content with that and being, well, happy.  Joy is being content and happy in the good times and bad.  Joy is understanding that God has a reason for putting you through whatever you are going through.  Joy is seeing past the here and the now and looking to the eternal benefits of whatever is happening, even if we can't see those benefits right now.

I've been failing at being a joyful person.

But, since joy is a choice, I'm choosing, right now, to be joyful.  I don't care that I've been failing, I'm not going to keep on failing.  I am going to be content and happy.  I am going to understand that God has some reason for the annoying, painful things that I'm going through.  I am going to look past right now and understand that there are eternal benefits attached to these short term annoyances.

"A joyful heart is good medicine, 
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
(Proverbs 17:22)



Source

Over and out,

~Emily

Friday, April 13, 2012

On Discouragement...

I puzzle myself quite often.  I can get so excited about something and then be filled with discouragement, or worse, complacency, about the same thing a couple of days later.

I was stoked about my Original Interp.; I can't even describe it.  It wasn't the qualifying to Nationals that really got me excited about this speech, it was that every time I presented it I felt like the main character.  I've done dramatic type speeches before, but in the past I have acted like a character; I never became that person.  With my Original I came out of rooms entirely emotionally drained because I felt almost like I had just lived through the story.

The entire, twelve hour, ride home from the last tournament I couldn't keep this speech out of my mind.  I went over the lines over and over and over.  I relived each moment, each attempted tear, each sniff from the audience, each dramatic pause...everything.  I've never done that with a speech before; it was really strange.  Part of me was thrilled that I was able to become the character so completely, and part of me was sort of concerned that I was so dreadfully, addicted.

I have known since I first competed in speech four years ago that practicing at club is much harder than competing at a tournament, but last night really made me wonder why.

I presented my two favorite speeches, my Persuasive and my Original, at club on Tuesday.  It was ridiculous.  The people who watched said that they were fine (except for two very close friends, who could tell that I wasn't on my game), but I felt horrible about both speeches.  I felt like I was reciting my Persuasive, which is dreadful, because it's a really important speech.  I felt like I was trying hard to be the character in my Original, but I just wasn't.  I was trying to be someone, but I wasn't feeling anything at all.

My point is, it's so easy to become discouraged.  I went from feeling grand about these speeches and being madly in love with each of them to feeling like a total failure in about an hour.  I felt like I don't even deserve my Nationals slot (yes, I am great at beating myself up, but if I perform like I did at club at Regionals, then I definitely don't deserve to go to Nats.).

Then, instead of not being able to get my Original out of my head, I don't even want to think about it.  First, I'm a baby.  Really.  Typing this I feel like a total dork.  Like, what, I do poorly at club and it's the end of the world, or something?  Seriously?  But that's how it feels.  It's not that I want so desperately to place well with these speeches, and it's not even that I feel I'll do poorly at the next tournament, it's just that I'm realizing more and more how I'm a lousy speaker, and God is the only reason I ever do well at all.  Second, I highly doubt any of you really care all that much about any of this...sorry, I'm totally just venting here.

I had a lovely conversation with a friend last night, and it all sort of made sense.  Why is it that there is such a dramatic change in performance quality at club and at tournaments?

Prayer.

That's the answer, I think.  Tournaments are so completely covered in prayer, it's hard to even imagine.  People are praying for every little, minute detail of the whole tournament for weeks before we even show up, and the prayer only increases from then on.  The competitors have hundreds of people praying for them to do their best, and it works.  Whether we break or not, we almost always have at least one totally amazing round, and it only happens because of prayer.

I'm not nearly so discouraged as I was on Tuesday, because I know that God is totally in control of every speech going to Regionals, and Nationals.  He is in control.

He is in control.


Yet in my heart, the battle was still raging
Not all prisoners of war had come home
These were battlefields of my own making
I didn't know that the war had been won
Then I heard the King of ages
Had fought all the battles for me
And victory was mine for the claiming
Now praise His name, I am free!

It is finished, the battle is over
It is finished, there'll be no more war
It is finished, the end of conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord

(It is Finished, Bill and Gloria Gaither)

Source

Over and out,

~Emily

P.S. Thank you so much for sending these lyrics to me, Colleen, that's exactly what I needed, right when I needed it!  God's timing is always perfect.  Love you!  =)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself...

I was going to post something today, but then I read Josh's post and thought I would just link you folks over to that.  I started reading it and thought it was primarily for guys, but the further I read the more I realized that this is SO hugely important for all of us.  I'm feeling quite convicted right now and I hope this post encourages and challenges you, as well.

To Die Well ~ Josh E.

Over and out,

~Emily

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another Grand Experience...

After each speech tournament I try to write about it and I always find myself facing the same dilemma.  How does one describe a tournament?  How can I describe feeling God's presence nearly crush me as I walk into a round?  How could I adequately explain the beauty of being prayed for, and praying for others, in the hallways before we speak?  How could I express how many lessons I've learned over the past four years in a simple little blog post?

I try, but I know that I fail miserably in my attempt of painting a picture of these experiences for you.

This last tournament took place in Spokane, Washington.  I didn't know it until we were driving to the location, but my cousin, Caroline, who passed away two years ago, when she was nineteen, is buried right down the street from where I was speaking last week.  It was strange presenting my Persuasive, in which I talk about the lessons I learned from her death, knowing that she was so near by.

I competed in five speech events at this tournament, and I actually had four speeches in one pattern and only one in the other.  I knew it would be harder than having three speeches in one pattern, but I hadn't realized just how much harder it was going to be.  Somehow God worked everything out beautifully and I didn't die, so all is good.

My sister and I broke to semi finals in our duo!!!  I'm thrilled that we will be able to compete with it at our Regional Invitational in about a month and I am bursting with pride at how much Kaity has grown as a speaker over the past year.  We pretty nearly tackled each other when they called our names and we had a great semi round.

God is constantly teaching me more about trusting Him with everything.  I made it to semis in my Persuasive speech as well and I learned so much through that round.  See, I had been sick during most of the tournament.  It didn't cause any problems until I started coughing during my semi round of Persuasive.  I couldn't stop.  It was horrible.  I finally stopped coughing, but then I couldn't breath so I had to clear my throat and try my hardest to start speaking clearly again, only to start coughing again.  That speech is almost always about nine minutes and forty seconds, and that round it was eleven twenty.  Finally I was able to stop and I finished strong but I walked out of the room knowing that I wouldn't be speaking in finals.

I started crying in the hall afterward.  I think it was mostly due to lack of sleep and stress, but it really was disappointing to mess up like that.  I got my ballots after the tournament, though, and I know that God was up to something.  In my three preliminary rounds I averaged second, first and first.  If I had had another, "normal," round I would have moved on to finals, but I didn't.  I didn't cough in any of my other speeches the entire tournament but that round I couldn't stop.  There was a reason that I didn't move on.  I may never know what that reason was but God didn't want me in finals.

Sometimes we just have to take a step back and realize that everything that happens to us happens because it's part of God's plan.  Yes, I was disappointed, but by the time they announced breaks to Finals I was totally fine with the fact that they didn't call my name.  Yes, of course I was frustrated that I had messed that round up, but there was a reason that it happened.  Yes, naturally I wish I had advanced further, my Persuasive is my favorite speech after all, but God had a better plan.

I made it to finals in Illustrated and Original Interp and both of those speeches went quite well.  I had a nice group watching each of them and God ended up blessing me with third place in Illustrated and second (and qualifying to Nationals) in Original.  I also ended up getting very surprised and placing sixth in overall Individual Events Sweepstakes.  I got my ballots back and God was doing some amazing work in judges hearts through my speeches.

Speech is such a humbling thing!  I spend time writing, memorizing and perfecting speeches and somehow God can, and does, use my efforts to bless somebody, convict somebody or encourage somebody.  I'm really going to miss this next year, but I can hardly wait to be on the other side of the tournament and hear about how my friends are continuing to bless judges with their speeches.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to His purpose."
(Romans 8:28)

I'm in the middle in the front row.


Over and out,

~Emily

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Funny Day

I stole away to my room for a few quiet moments this morning, picked up my, "writing notebook," and this is what flowed from my pen:

Today is an odd day.  The sun is shining on and off, gracing us with its presence only occasionally, but the rain has yet to stop.  The wind is silent and the trees are still.  Rain falls directly down, un-bothered by the gusts which have hindered its course of late.  The grass grows greener every day specked with little white or purple flowers here and there.  Bulbs' points are slow in arriving this year, but they are slowly but surely making their entrance.  It is a light day, despite the grey clouds and gloomy appearance.  


Somehow God is helping me to be cheerful.  The younger children have been at each other's throats all morning, I feel sick and have a headache, but even so, I feel joyful.  God is good, is He not?


Since writing the above words I've been thinking further about what God is doing today.

Often, when we are struggling with something, God waits for us to submit and decide we are going to obey, and then He gives us the strength to do so.

I recently decided to ignore the weather (despite my very strong desire for sun) and just be joyful no matter what.  Since resolving  to obey to God in this way and, "give thanks to You forever," (Psalm 30:12) I've noticed that I actually have been more thankful and cheerful and joyful.

When I actually think about it, today has not been the grandest, but somehow all the annoying little things just aren't getting to me like they normally do.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to be thankful.  Thank You for giving me the strength to be cheerful and full of joy, even when my circumstances are begging for a breakdown.

Source


"I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt His name together!"
(Psalm 34:1-3)

Over and out,

~Emily