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)

Over and out,


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,


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)


Over and out,


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?


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)


Over and out,


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,


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,