Love Hopes

There is so much to say that I am a bit overwhelmed. I’ve been putting off writing for awhile now with excuses like, “I’m too tired” or “I don’t know where to begin.” and now those are BOTH true and I’m still faced with a longing keyboard and an overflowing mind. The empty page in front of me feels both daunting and enticing. I want to be short and concise, but I’m not entirely sure how to organize my thoughts. So here comes the spiral…

Today is the first Sunday of the Advent season! It, as usual, fell on the Sunday following Thanksgiving which, for me, means that it fell the day after my parents left Michigan to return to Virginia. Although I am so sad that they had to leave after just 2.5 short days, I am thrilled that they were able to visit and I was rejuvenated by our time together. I was reminded by both my parents as well as the thanksgiving holiday, the sheer magnitude of the blessings surrounding me.

I could go into detail about each of the blessings in my life but I fear that you would either give up and quit reading, or I would die typing this post out because it would go on and on and on and on. Instead, I will leave it at this:

Each year, around the holiday season I am filled with a mixture of emotions. It seems like it becomes easier to see the beauty of the world around me but sometimes more difficult to count the blessings in my personal life. My family situation feels so painfully broken that year after year my heart never seems to adjust to the well known rift in my family tree – the broken traditions and the forever severed storybook Christmas we used to all share. I am forever grateful to have supportive, loving parents who walk through this season with me, but I also am forced to acknowledge that it is just as painful, if not more so, for them than it is for me. I often find myself angry and frustrated with both myself and our situation – all the “why’s” and the “should’s” and the “could’s” come rushing back full force and I find myself barely able to tread water which leaves me feeling weak and sometimes as if I’m drowning.

Despite the holiday’s carrying a considerable about of pain along with them, they also hold an immense amount of glory. First and foremost due to the true reason for the season – the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! It can’t get any better than that! But also because I find myself reminiscing about years past and I am finally able to see and acknowledge the sheer miracle of human life.

3 years ago everyone thought it might be my last holiday season. If I had kept up the routine and patterns I was ingrained into at that time, I wouldn’t have lived to see another Thanksgiving or Christmas after 2013. When I think about that, when I see pictures from those times, when I remember the way I was so numbed out and so consumed by the demons that had full control over my life at that point, it practically brings me to tears.

But ya know what? I’m realizing now that because I had those moments (more like months and years) of such intense struggle…it makes these holiday seasons THAT much more meaningful. My parents were here Wednesday evening through Saturday morning and we had the greatest time! I LOVE when they come visit me – we can do the simplest, silliest things and still have such a blast!

This morning, as I sat in church and listened to the sermon about the first Sunday of Advent – the Sunday of HOPE, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the people in my life who never gave up hope in me. I was reminded of how the ONLY reason that I am alive today and sitting here typing this is because of my hope in JESUS CHRIST. There is no other way – nothing else that could have convinced me to stay through the depression, the anxiety, the eating disorder, the abuse, and all the other dysfunction in my life. I was on the verge of suicide so many times – if not through the means of anorexia, than in other forms, but it was the hope of the cross – the expectation of something to come, that I was able to struggle and fight through those battles.

It was such a sweet reminder to hear this said this morning: “Hope asks you, in your present, to remember the past and let it speak to your future.” To be reminded that my present may not look how I want it to look, it may or may not be within my control, it may or may not be caused by something I did or am doing, BUT that regardless of all of that – the present is NOT the most important time. My future with God, my hope and my belief in Him, my expectations of what He will do and what He can accomplish with my future – that is the time that matters the most.

Despite having endured some absolutely awful things, I can (and I believe it is my duty to) allow my experiences to create HOPE for others. I know that there are millions of people out there who have been through things I will never ever be able to fathom or wrap my mind around – but if I can use my story, my struggles, my journey to provide even one person hope for the future, then I KNOW that God is using me for good and for His kingdom.

The beginning of the advent season also means the beginning of the end of the semester! That being said, I would just like to take a moment to acknowledge what it has meant to me to be blessed to find a church that is beginning to feel like home. Trinity EPC has welcomed me into their arms each and every week. I have learned so much from the sermons, I have met so many wonderful, loving, compassionate people, and I have been blessed to be included in the worship ministry and be able to share the gifts God has given me with the congregation. When I am able to sing or play my violin in church, it means more to me than anyone could realize. When you’re pursuing music for school, you have degree requirements you must meet and you are required to get certain grades – there is constant competition and it is so easy to lose sight of Him in the process. Playing at church each week is my sweet reminder of why I am pursuing music. It feels so rewarding to stand up and play for God – to play in order to help others see, feel, and hear Him. It feels empowering to me to encourage others and make a difference through my music – despite not having received a degree yet or be out in the “professional world”. I am forever grateful to the people who have helped me learn and grow spiritually, musically, and emotionally, by opening up their arms, their hearts, their homes, and given their time to help encourage me and help to keep me on the right path.

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I am humbled and absolutely in awe of the way my Savior is working in my life and the lives of those around me. Despite this season being one scattered with difficulties, it is also one where I am reminded of the miracle of the life I’ve been given and where I am again filled with the Hope of what is to come!

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

-Romans 5:2-5

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
Corrie ten Boom

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On a different note: Rachi and I are learning some new tricks!

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Also, I am humbled and honored to announce that, after publishing this post a couple months ago: https://mygirlchloe.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/the-greatest-worst-decision-ever-made/

and entering Rachi’s adoption story into a contest held by Petco, we are one of 54 (out of over 5,000 entries) who have been selected as finalists! You can vote for Rachi and the organization where I adopted her, the Lynchburg Humane Society, here at this link:

https://holidaywishes.fluidreview.com/

The Lynchburg Humane Society is in the running to receive anywhere from $5,000.00 up to $100,000.00 and by voting, you could help them win an addition $25,000.00! Help to give shelter animals a home for Christmas by supporting Rachi, the Lynchurg Humane Society, and Petco!

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“That was what a best friend did: hold up a mirror and show you your heart.”
Kristin Hannah, Firefly Lane

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I hope that everyone has a blessed first week of advent!

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