10 Ways to be Happy During Quarantine

After weeks of social distancing, I can’t be the only one that is struggling with a variety of emotions. Stress about not having a job and feeling trapped all the time are only the tip of the iceberg. I’m a very social person, and not being around people has been incredibly difficult for me. I’ve been video chatting with friends, but it’s not at all like seeing them in person.

On top of this, I miss my students so much. Online learning isn’t the same, and not seeing their smiles in my classroom every day has been the hardest part of quarantine for me.

I just finished my own schooling at Kent State University, and I will not be having a regular graduation until who knows when. I know I have met the requirements, but it still feels rather anti-climactic after 5 years of writing papers and working two/three jobs to pay for my tuition.

Sounds like I’m complaining, right?

It depends on how I look at it.

Let me show you a different way of looking at it.


A Different Perspective

I can’t change any of those things. There is absolutely nothing I can do to “fix” any of the situations mentioned above. But I can change how I look at them.

Not having a job can be stressful when it comes to paying bills. (Let me clarify here that I am still working part time as teacher, but it’s only about 15 hours a week. I lost my main income when the shutdown began). But I have a choice. I can mope about not having work, or I can relax, knowing that God will take care of all my needs. I hope His plan involves me going back to work soon though–I miss all of my coworkers and customers!

Let me be honest about online schooling. It’s awful. I feel like I have completely lost connection with a lot of my students, I feel like I can’t be there for them like I want to, and it’s a ton of extra work for me.

But this is where God has reminded me that I had a wonderful time with them in class for the first 7 months or so. He reminded me I still have a purpose and I’m still teaching even though it feels completely different. Even though the school year didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I couldn’t have gotten a better group of kids for my first year teaching. I am so blessed to have spent the first three quarters of the school year with them in person, and I will do my very best to finish strong for them.

As far as my own schooling, I have had to come to terms with the fact that it simply won’t be a normal celebration. But I did finish, whether I have a ceremony or not. The day I was supposed to graduate, I will be running a 5k specifically in honor of 2020 graduates–especially my own students that will be graduating high school this year. Even though it will be an odd ending to my time as an undergrad, I am still grateful for God’s help to me through each semester. I learned so much and I am excited to see what the next step is for me.


Contentment

The examples above were very specific ones from my life currently, but looking at things with a positive view is something that I want to always do in life. Philippians 4:11 says “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have” (NLT). Instead of wishing for what “could be,” maybe we need to stop and learn how to be content with what we do have.

I miss regular church services. . . but . . . I am grateful for the drive-in services we have been having and the efforts of my pastor and many others to provide beautiful sermons for us during this difficult time.

I miss working. . . but . . . I trust God to care for me and I am grateful for this time to recharge and reflect.

I miss my friends. . . but . . . we live in an age in which we are able to contact people instantly and even see their faces on a screen while we chat.

Life is frustrating when things happen differently than we wanted them to, but we don’t have to let it ruin things for us. I choose to be content. I choose to rest in God’s arms and trust Him to take care of me.


Things That I do to Stay Happy

1. Stay close to God

I spent too much of my life trying to find happiness in other things, but I never found true contentment without God. Trusting Him to provide is exhilarating–like jumping off a cliff without fear, knowing that He is there to catch you. Believing that He is in control takes the stress away and replaces it with a sweet peace and rest.

2. Get Some Exercise

Quarantine makes it easy to just sit around all day, especially if you are unable to go to work. I have been trying to go running about three times a week (I’m actually training for a 5k) but even going on a brisk walk every day would be good. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which make you feel happier and more positive in general.

Exercising has made my quarantine a thousand times better, and it’s super easy to follow social distancing rules while walking or running. You can also find plenty of at-home workout plans online!

3. Cut Back Screen Time 

Too much screen time has been proven to cause sleep problems. Beyond this, I have noticed that too much screen time often makes me feel edgy or anxious. It can be difficult to avoid being on a screen all day, especially with online schooling or working from home, but taking time to do something not involving a screen can do wonders.

4. Avoid News Stories as Much as Possible

I know it’s good to have an idea of what’s going on in the world, but there is definitely a risk of being too involved. Especially if you are likely to become stressed or anxious by reading news articles, it may be best to focus on other things.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about things that are honorable, just, pure, and lovely. We shouldn’t spend all day reading news stories that are potentially quite depressing, but instead, we should think about good things (and things that make us think about the good things that God has done for us).

5. Sunshine!

This obviously depends on where you live (and unfortunately Ohio has not been blessing us with a lot of sunlight so far), but if you can get outside and get some fresh air and sunlight, it can do amazing things for you. It makes me feel positive and energetic every time.

6. Socialize if Possible

Even though we have to practice social distancing right now, I have made it a point to talk to people as much as possible–mostly via video calls and phone calls. I don’t live alone (yet), so I have also been blessed to have my family to talk to. I know that introverted people might be enjoying not having to socialize as much, but I feel much better after talking to people.

7. Go to Church 

Right now, church is more accessible than ever. If you can’t normally make it to church services, there are so many churches providing livestreams every Sunday. You can literally be encouraged in God from your living room. 

Some churches are providing a drive-in option as well, which is what I prefer. Even though I can’t get out of my car, I feel more connected to people knowing that I am there with a congregation of people I love.

Regardless, church services have been so encouraging to me. Not only have I heard inspiring messages, but I am also reminded of the fact that this quarantine has not taken away my ability to worship Jesus. It has not taken God out of my life. We can still come together (while staying far apart) in prayer and in worship.

8. Make Other People Happy

One thing that has never failed to put a smile on my face is making other people smile. Send a text to a friend you miss and tell them that. You might make their day. Don’t post negative content on social media. Instead, post things that will make other people smile as they see your bright post in the midst of depressing news stories.

Drop of flowers for someone or send a handwritten letter. If these concern you because of possibly spreading germs, send an email or a digital gift card. Let someone know you appreciate them and you’re thinking about them.

9. Be Thankful

Take time to stop and think of several things you are thankful for. This will force your mind to focus on the positives in your life instead of the negatives. It’s hard to feel sad when you are thinking about everything you are thankful for.

10. Do What Makes YOU Happy

I’ve mostly posted the things that really work for me, but every person is different. If something else works for you, do that. Find what makes you relax and feel positive. Maybe a quiet morning with coffee is better for you than a video chat. Do that.

Take care of yourself.


Final Thoughts

We may not be able to control the things going on around us, but we can control our attitude. We can do things that help us think positively about our lives so that we don’t look back on this time as something terrible. I want to be able to look back at the 2020 quarantine as a bright spot in my life, even if parts of it aren’t great.

I choose happiness.


~Happy are the people whose God is the LORD. ~

Psalm 144:15


 

My Awakening | Response to My Sister’s Blog

First of all, if you haven’t read my sister’s blog post, please do so by clicking here. It’s a wonderful story of God’s amazing redemption in her life, and I’m so proud of her for making the choice to turn her life over to Him.

I don’t want to undermine anything she’s written in any way. In fact, I hope to add to it in a way that shows how God was intertwining our stories and working on each of us in our own specific ways. I’ve been wanting to share my story, but I have been holding off until Caitie was ready to tell hers since they overlap so much.

I will probably be turning my story/personal testimony into a larger and more refined work at some point, but for now, here is the chapter that coincides with what Caitie wrote.

The following events took place from around 2013-2017.


Lost

The last couple years of high school were pretty rough for me. I pretended everything was okay, but inside I was lost. I didn’t know God, but I pretended I was a Christian because I felt like that was the right thing to do. I was afraid to talk to anyone about how I felt, because “they wouldn’t understand” or “I should be able to figure it out on my own.”

My first year of college was even worse. I did things I regret and began pushing people away as I tried to hide my dark side. I continued my act while attending a Christian college. I sang songs about Jesus by day while trying to shut Him out by night. I played the piano for chapels only to return to my pew and close my ears.

I knew my heart was in trouble. I knew I couldn’t hide from God and being in chapels and church services made it worse. I could feel Him, but in my sinful state, His presence was not comforting.

It was terrifying.


Masked

Conviction. That’s what it’s called when someone becomes aware of their sinful state and realizes they need God. I knew I wasn’t a Christian. Going to church doesn’t make anyone a Christian. I listened to sermon after sermon every single Sunday, doing my best to block them out. Some still bothered me, mainly the ones about Hell: “If you are a sinner when you die, you will burn forever.” The sermons about Jesus coming back were equally terrifying to me. 

The rapture. As I understood it, Jesus would come back some day and all the living Christians would go to Heaven, leaving the sinners behind. I read a book about it when I was in high school. It suggested that all of the Christians would just vanish into thin air, leaving only their clothes. In the book, this caused a significant amount of damage. Christians who were driving disappeared, leaving their cars to careen off the road. Fires started as stoves were left unattended and sirens filled the air. Police searched houses for answers as to what had happened. Chaos ensued. People knocked down doors to other houses and raided them for goods. New wars began and no one was safe. 

The sermons said if I missed this, it would be too late.

Sometimes at church, Pastor Grabill would gently ask if anyone would like to pray at the altar. I wondered if my parents could see me shaking. But I held my ground. I wasn’t good enough. God wouldn’t want me and I didn’t want to commit my life to this. I continued to attend church though, not willing to disappoint my family or my church. I carried my Bible for looks, but quickly shoved it into my purse, ready to escape when the service was over. I shook hands with my pastor, smiled, but avoided eye contact. He had the kindest eyes I have ever seen, and it felt like they drilled right through me and saw the darkest parts of my heart.

There were times I wished I could pray, but pride stopped me from walking up the aisle to the altar. I couldn’t walk up there to pray in front of two hundred people who thought I was a Christian. I knew I needed to, but I didn’t. 


~ For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God… Together, we who are still alive…will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air ~

I Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT


Nightmares

The church service was dragging by. I glanced at the clock impatiently, and then back at Pastor Grabill. Time seemed to have stopped. Suddenly, almost the entire congregation disappeared, leaving only me and a few others. The rapture had occurred, and the Christians had all gone to Heaven with Jesus. The rest of us had missed it. Jesus walked over to me. I couldn’t see His face. He was too bright. But He was sad. He had to turn away from me. 

“Please,” I begged, “Please save me.” 

“It’s too late.” He wept as I knelt before Him. I pleaded with Him over and over to please give me a second chance. But I’d had my chance.  

I woke up in a cold sweat. I jumped out of bed and then tiptoed into my parents’ room. Mom’s steady breathing and dad’s snoring relieved me. They were still here. It wasn’t the rapture. These nightmares became more and more frequent. Even in moments where the house seemed too silent, I would panic and search the house, only comforted when I found my mom or my dad.


Caitie

During this time (Jan/Feb 2017), I didn’t realize that my youngest sister was going through a similar situation. 

I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to help, but I needed help myself. I was confused about what I believed. I didn’t know how to give life advice to anyone else. 

I can’t remember who discovered she was harming herself, but when I found out, I remember feeling sick to my stomach. This is my sister. Bubbly, sweet Caitie. 

Mom and Dad tried talking to her. Nothing seemed to be working. 

I wish I had tried more. 

Later I found out that we had been fighting some similar battles. But we both sat in our rooms with our doors locked. Hiding from parents. 

Hiding from God.


My Awakening

BANG! BANG! BANG! I was sound asleep when the pounding shook the house. LED lights flashed outside of my window. Men were shouting and someone was beating on my window. I threw my covers back and sat up. 

This was it. The rapture. The world was ending. I leapt from my bed and took off down the hallway towards my parents’ room. I could already see the lights flashing in their windows, and I could still hear the pounding. I stumbled into their room, crying out for my dad, hoping he was still there. Shaking uncontrollably, I begged him to wake up. 

Daddy!” My teeth chattered as tremors of fear wracked my entire body.

He jumped out of bed with a look on his face I’d never seen, which scared me even more. 

“P-people are pounding on our house… Fl-flashing lights…” I gasped between sobs. 

The doorbell rang several times.

Dad grabbed the gun and Mom followed him closely. I wept bitterly as I trailed along behind. In those two minutes I had gone from being an independent, hateful adult to a terrified little girl. 

The pounding continued. “Open up! Police!” 

My dad put the gun down and cautiously opened the door. 

“Are you the parents of Caitlin Giles?” The officer was serious. 

“Yes,” My mom pushed past my dad, panic evident in her tone. “Why?” 

“We have her down at the station.”

Mom shook her head in protest. “No. She’s here.” 

I broke into Caitie’s room with a butter knife. She wasn’t there. The bed was empty and pink curtains danced around the open window as icy winter air blew into the room. Mom saw it but still denied that her daughter would run away.

The officer explained that someone had called in a report of a girl walking alone on a bridge. Some Salem policemen had picked her up and taken her to the station. It was below freezing outside, and she had walked several miles in the dark. She had apparently been planning to end her life. I didn’t want to think about it.

The policemen apologized for the scare. They said they had tried calling the house and ringing the doorbell, but no one heard it. This was odd, because I am normally a light sleeper, often awakened something as simple as a truck going by outside. 

My mom and I sat nervously in the living room while Dad went to pick Caitie up from the station. I shook for hours. I didn’t want to go back into my room, so I stayed up all night in the recliner, watching both doors to our house. 

What if that had been the rapture? 

The thought wouldn’t go away. 


I skipped class the next day, which I had never done before in my life. Caitie slowly emerged from her room, shyly hugging a teddy bear.

“The policeman gave it to me.” 

I blinked back tears, wanting to wrap my arms around her and never let go. I was so glad she was alive, but I felt more dead than ever.

I barely slept over the course of the next several weeks. Every single car that drove by awoke me with a jolt as the lights passed my window. My mind flashed back to that moment. The pounding. The shouting. The terror. I squeezed my eyes shut and pulled the blankets over my head. I couldn’t focus on anything. 

“I can’t do this anymore.” I sat cross-legged on my bed in the dark, speaking aloud. “God? I am so sick of all the ups and downs. I don’t know what to do, but I have to do something.”


Into the Light

In the following several weeks I searched for answers. I still couldn’t sleep unless I covered the window with a blanket. If I didn’t, the lights outside would instantly take me back to that awful night in February when Caitie had run away. 

Then, I found Jesus. One night, I was reading my Bible and asking God for answers. A verse jumped out at me about some very specific issues in my life.

Give that up. You don’t need it anymore. 

I let go.

I let go of my old lifestyle and gave my life to Jesus. I finally realized that salvation had been right in front of me my whole life—I had just never accepted it.

The heavy chains that had been dragging me down for so long suddenly fell off. God’s presence came in a way I had never experienced before. It wasn’t scary this time; it was peaceful and warm like a ray of sunlight.

I was free.


Redeeming Love

Caitie’s story of redemption overlaps with mine. God used both of our situations to bring us to Him. Those poor policemen probably didn’t mean to scare me half to death, but I was at a point where I needed to be scared since I had been trying so hard to shut God out. God used a terrible situation to wake me up and bring me to Him.

I don’t believe relationships with God should be based on fear. But my initial fear was what led me to learn of His love. I distinctly remember sitting on the floor in my room, asking Him why on earth He would want me after everything I’d done.

Love. That’s why.

God’s love is why Caitie is still here. It’s why I am free from the chains that had me bound for so much of my life. It gives us freedom.


Final Thoughts

2017 started out terrible for me, but it was the year I finally found my Savior. As I mentioned previously, this is only part of my story. There’s more to it, but the important part is that God used all of it to bring me to Him (and later, He saved my sister as well).

Perhaps I will write more of my story in the future, but for now, I am grateful to share a small piece of what He has done in my life. I truly don’t know where I would be today if it weren’t for His love rescuing me from my old life.

The last 3 years with Him have been incredible. I’m free and I’m loving being a child of God.

As always, thanks for reading.


~For by grace, you have been saved through faith~

Ephesians 2:8


 

 

The Hardest Thing about Teaching

When I first started teaching, I thought I knew what the hardest part would be.

I thought it would be classroom management.

I thought it would be lesson prep or keeping up with piles of grading.

I thought it would be explaining difficult concepts in ways that made sense to the students.

I was wrong.

It isn’t any of those things.

It’s saying goodbye.


Face-to-Face Classes Cancelled | COVID-19

Thursday, March 19, I received a text informing me that due to the current COVID-19 situation, Friday would be the teachers’ last day of face-to-face classes indefinitely.

We don’t know when we’re going back, and we don’t know if we’re going back. Some schools have already closed for the rest of the school year and transferred to fully online classes.

Indefinitely.

My last day of in-person classes shattered me, especially because my students had questions I couldn’t answer.

“When will we come back? Will we be able to have our field trip? What about dissection in Biology?”

I cried when I said goodbye.

Indefinitely.


The Hardest Thing

I just finished my first week of teaching 100% online.

I know I’m still in contact with my students, but it’s all digital. They’re still there, but I can’t see them. I’m still teaching, but I can’t watch the lights come on in their minds as they begin to grasp a concept.

I stand in my empty classroom and talk to a camera, trying to imagine my students sitting in those empty seats listening to the lesson.

I hate being in the school without them. Silent hallways and eerily quiet classrooms.

“Do Not Disturb. Recording in Progress” signs hanging on classroom doors.

Capture

Online Teaching

I wish I could see them smiling. I wish I could have goofy conversations with them before class. I wish I could watch them interact with each other between classes.

I miss being able to make them laugh. 

I miss them.

The hardest thing is saying goodbye.


What’s My Purpose Now?

Teaching is my purpose.

My students are my world, and I just lost a big part of that world.

I realized that this was coming eventually. At the end of the year, some will be graduating and moving on. Others will be in my classes for another year or two, but they will continue moving forward. I wasn’t expecting my goodbye to be so soon or so abrupt.

I know I still have them online, but it’s a totally different world. It’s hard for all of us. I’m still praying this all passes before the end of the school year so I can have just a little more time with them in person. So we can go on our field trip. So they can enjoy in-person education again.

I want to be there for my students. I want to give them the education they deserve. I want them to see Jesus through me always.

It’s easy to feel like I’ve lost my purpose through all of this, but I keep reminding myself of the truth.

I haven’t lost my purpose.

I can still teach. I can still provide lessons so that my students can receive the education they need. It’s harder to communicate with them digitally, but they are still there. I’m still the same teacher I was in person. I can still try to make them smile with my awful sense of humor as I teach. I can still be there for them.

I can still shine for Jesus, even if it must be done digitally.


Final Thoughts

I realize this post is much more emotional than what I’ve written before. The last week has been hard on me, both emotionally and physically, and I know other teachers feel the same. We haven’t lost our purpose. Maybe we have to plan differently now, but we can continue to teach and inspire students even from our computers at home.

I’m still praying that this won’t last the rest of the year, but I will continue to do my best regardless. I’m trusting in Jesus and holding on to Him during this time of uncertainty. He gives me strength when I have nothing left.

Lastly, I know that saying goodbye is part of teaching. At the end of the school year, students move on and graduate. My time teaching each group is short, but I hope what I teach lasts far beyond the students’ time with me. I hope I can make a positive impact on each of their lives that continues beyond their graduation.

Students, if you are reading this, know that you are very loved and I miss you all. Keep being awesome and try to enjoy your quarantine. We’ll get through this. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Until next time!


Philippians 4:13

~I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength~


 

Finding the Calm in the Storm | COVID-19

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“I’m going to miss you guys so much.” The words had barely left my mouth before the tears started.

It was the first time I cried in front of my students.

On Monday, I had no idea that it would be my last week with my students (until further notice). On Friday, I had to say goodbye to them while school is closed “indefinitely.” While we will continue to do schooling online, it’s just not the same as seeing my students in person every day. Leaving school not knowing when I would see my students again was heartbreaking.

This is my last semester at Kent State University, and face-to-face classes have been cancelled for the rest of the semester and everything will be taking place online–including my senior thesis defense, which was supposed to be in person. The news that shattered me was finding out that they are currently undecided about commencement but will likely be cancelling graduation ceremonies as well.

I have already lost hours at my other job as well, so my finances are also taking a hit as the restaurant cuts back employees due to the lack in business.

*UPDATE* Ohio restaurants are now closed.

So I have officially lost my waitressing job until further notice.

It feels like the world has been turned upside-down for a lot of us. The coronavirus scare has affected both of my jobs as well as my schooling–and these three things are a huge part of my life. While I certainly don’t want to complain, the events of the last couple days have completely shaken me, and I know I’m not alone in that.


Jesus Calms the Storm

I honestly was trying to avoid writing anything whatsoever about the coronavirus on my blog or in social media posts, but I changed my mind after my devotions this morning, because I believe God was reminding me of something very important.

Matthew 8:23-37 tells the story of a time when Jesus and his disciples found themselves out on a lake in the middle of a terrifying storm. The disciples went into a panic, only to find that Jesus was sleeping. The Bible says they literally shouted to wake Jesus up, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

Jesus responded,

“Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” 

Then Jesus got up and calmed the storm.


Jesus is my Calm

With all the recent events, it definitely feels like we’re all in a fierce storm. Our world has been shaken and a lot of things feel really uncertain right now. With everything changing around me, though, I have found peace in the fact that God never changes.

While the storm isn’t calm, I have found my calm in talking to God and feeling His presence. When you’re held tight in His arms, the storm loses its power over you. Instead, there’s a security and a calmness there.

This doesn’t mean that everything is great. It’s not. I’m distraught about the possibility of not having a graduation ceremony. My heart breaks when I think of the unfortunate teaching situation and not seeing my students this coming week and indefinitely after that. Losing work hours means less money.

But we aren’t supposed to live in fear. Jesus asks His disciples why they were afraid and having such little faith when He was in the boat with them. Fear points to a lack of faith. 

Yeah, things are rough. But it’s still okay.

Because God’s got me. He’s an immovable rock even through the most vicious storms, and if you hold onto Him, He won’t let you go. So when things are bad, when things are uncertain, or when you’re afraid. . . run to Jesus.

Fear melts into peace.

I’m glad I’ve found my calm.


Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading, as always. If you have any comments, I always enjoy hearing other people’s thoughts!


 

II Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. . . Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. 


 

2020: Thoughts about Goals and Personal Improvement

note notebook notes page

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Most New Year’s resolutions are quite shallow. “I’m going to lose weight this year” or “I am going to exercise more” are statistically some of the most common resolutions people make. Try checking in with them in February. They’ve probably either forgotten about their resolutions or have already given up on them.

I know this isn’t always the case. But they’ve certainly never worked for me. Perhaps the reason I dislike resolutions, though, is because they’ve never worked for me.

“I’m going to read my Bible every day this year.” I began several years like this when I was probably 13-15 years old. There were a few problems with this.

1) It was too tight. If I missed one day, it would be “ruined” in my mind. Then I’d slack off since I already “missed” my goal and I’d eventually quit altogether.

2) I would skip devotions all year, but as soon as January came, I thought I could easily jump right into having amazing devotional time every day.

3) The other alternative “I’m going to spend more time with God” is too loose. Without a plan, these words are fairly empty and “more time” could simply mean an extra minute a day, which isn’t necessarily something I could pat myself on the back for.

So I stopped making resolutions.


Setting Goals

Isn’t this the same thing? Maybe. Some people are actually really good at making resolutions. They set a main goal (maybe to lose 20 pounds) and then set a plan to make that goal happen. A resolution “I’m going to work out more” is fairly loose, whereas “I’m going to go to the gym twice a week” has a bit more planning involved.

I don’t like to really set goals on New Year’s anyway. I believe this is something that should be done year-round. I won’t make a list of goals on New Year’s simply for tradition. I do, however, have a list of things that I hope to accomplish within specific timeframes written down in my planner. I come up with these items throughout the year. I have a few rules for myself:

1) The goals should be realistic and logical. For me, these are things like setting a specific amount of pages I want my Honors thesis to be before I graduate. Setting it at 200 pages would be absolutely ridiculous, as I only have a few more months to finalize it. So realistically, I plan to reach 75 pages.

2) They should be something that can be broken down into smaller steps in order to accomplish them. For my thesis, that means not sitting down and writing 75 pages at once, but planning to write a certain amount each week.

My biggest goal right now is probably to get out of debt. I plan to move out someday, but I won’t set that goal until I’m debt free. My plan for this is basically budgeting my money and paying off one debt at a time until they’re gone (and of course, working two jobs!) I just paid off the last of my student loans a few weeks ago, which means once I finish paying off my car, I will be debt free.


Improvements

This doesn’t mean I never try to improve other areas of my life. I believe that as Christians, we should be constantly trying to improve. Stagnancy is dangerous. To be stagnant means to be inactive, dull, or sluggish. We should constantly be pressing towards somewhere higher than where we are now. It’s easy to get caught up in just “going through the motions” of going to church, Bible reading, and prayer. My prayer is that God will constantly be helping me to improve in every way that I can.

This applies to our spiritual lives but also to other areas of life. 


Personal Health

Again, why only try to improve this at New Years? This is something we should always be working on. We are created in God’s image. More than this, our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit…. you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

This can be taken in many different ways, but considering that we have given ourselves to Jesus, and He created us exactly how He wanted us, we should not be trashing our bodies. Your body was given to you as a gift. Treat it like one.

There is, of course, a limit to this if one is being incredibly vain. But simply taking care of the body God has given you is important. Skin care, hair care, being careful about what you eat, getting proper exercise, etc. These are all important to your health.

This subject has become quite important to me lately, and I may touch on it in a future blog since I don’t want to go too far off track with this one. But I believe that as Christians, God wants us to take good care of us, just as He wants us to take good care of his Creation.


Misc. Improvements

A few other things I’ve been doing are journaling and reading more. These are not things that I waited until New Year’s to say “I will journal more this year” or whatever. Instead, I started journaling several years ago. I definitely don’t journal every day, but I do sporadically. This looseness makes it something that I don’t have to stress over, but it is very good for me when I do it because it helps me get my thoughts out. If you read my blog post from last January about devotions (My Struggle With Devotions & 10 Things To Improve Devotional Time), I wrote some about how much having a devotional journal of sorts helps me to think about what I read. Writing almost always helps me think more clearly and I love it.

Reading is something that I have always loved. I remember reading big chapter books in 3rd grade simply because I loved reading more complicated stories than most 3rd grade reading involved. Once I began college, my love of reading seemed to be falling away as I spent hours doing required reading for my classes. More recently though, I began reading “fun” books on the side that were not class-related. Instantly, my love of reading returned. I have made it a point, especially recently, to try to read a couple chapters of something right before bed.

This has been a wonderful lifestyle change for me. I struggle a lot with sleeping after staring at a screen writing papers during the school year. Reading before bed has helped me to fall asleep faster and sleep better in general. Reading is also excellent for your brain. I’m keeping track of the books I read (both school and non-school books) and I’m curious to see how many I will have time for even while working two jobs and taking senior-level classes.


Final Comments

I feel like this blog post is much more disorganized than my typical posts, but it has been on my mind since the New Year. I have high hopes for 2020, and while I didn’t make any resolutions, I will keep working on my goals that I had set previously and strive to be a better person in any way that I can, with God’s help.

2020. Graduation this May. Lots of big events coming up.

Keep going, no matter what.

As always, thanks for reading! Leave comments/questions below if you have them.

Until next time!


 

“Change is inevitable, but personal growth is a choice.” 

 


 

 

When God’s Timing Doesn’t Match Yours

“So. Are you finally going to graduate this year? I mean, you’ve been in school for how long?”

“Wait, you’ve seriously never even been on a date?”

“Do you ever plan on moving out?”

Or to those who are married: “So…. are you ever going to have kids?” 

These are real questions people ask. Though they are not always meant to be harsh, you suddenly find yourself scrambling to make excuses as if you’ve done something wrong. You feel guilty. Ashamed. Even if it is something you have no control over, you find yourself wishing you could change things.

And you feel like you’re running out of time.


 

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 If you had asked me 10 years ago where I would be in my mid twenties, my answer would have looked nothing like the actuality. I would have pictured myself graduated from college, married, and living in a cute little house of my own.

Instead, I’ve been watching other people my age (and even may people younger than me) do these things. No matter what you do to try to convince yourself that you are not a failure, it is still easy to feel like you’ve been left behind.

Those who were in your class in high school are now married and have kids while you are still fighting for that degree.

It’s not easy….


….But it’s not a Race

No one’s lives are the same. God’s timing for you might not match His timing for your best friend. For whatever reason, it is possible that God wants you in this place for some time to learn an important lesson. Pushing to stay on track with society’s idea of what your life “should” be like at a certain age is probably a bad idea.

It’s easy for me to look back at my “wasted” semester in college with regret. I catch myself thinking If only I had been able to take a full load of classes, I’d be finished with college by now. I’d possibly be out of debt and a lot closer to moving out…. If only I had done things differently….” 

But that wasn’t the path that God gave me. If it wasn’t for that “awful” semester, I would have missed out on some incredibly important life lessons. (Check out a previous blog post if you’re curious) — Thankfulness and my “Wasted Semester”

It is NOT a race.

It doesn’t matter if that other guy or girl from high school already has a house and you don’t. What matters is that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and that you are content in that place, knowing that you are in God’s will.

This is why it is so important to stay focused on God and the Christian race that we’re running. If you try to keep up with those around you, you might lose sight of your end goal.

As a Christian, I would rather be in line with God’s timing–not my own, or that of those around me. For whatever reason, He has me in this specific place at this specific time.


 

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Don’t Forget to Live in the Present

It’s easy to focus on what you want for the future and let it ruin your present. If I only focus on the fact that I should have had my degree a couple semesters ago, I would be awfully depressed. But I’m learning to enjoy every experience I’m having along the way.

Suppose you are wanting to buy a new car and one of your friends sends you a picture of a shiny new vehicle they just purchased. You have two options. You can either be bitter, longing to have one of your own, or you can celebrate with them and enjoy the rest of your day.

I must confess, I’ve definitely prayed for the right attitude in these matters many times. I don’t understand why I’m where I am sometimes, but I want to still be able to enjoy every day that God has given me to live, and I want to be happy with my friends who are experiencing things I have yet to experience.

Enjoy every moment now. Enjoy the blessings God has given you in this part of your life.  ❤ You’ll find them if you look hard enough ❤


If you’re constantly wishing for tomorrow’s sunshine, you’ll miss the beauty of today.


“Wow, you’ve been in school forever.” 

I’ve learned to just smile and laugh it off. I know for certain that I am 100% in the center of God’s will for my life because of the assurance He gives me day by day. To me, this is more important than when I get my degree.

If I follow my own plans for my life, I know I’d make a huge mess of things. Instead, I choose to trust God and His perfect timing. He might be saving me from a lot of heartache, and I trust that He will continue to guide me according to His plan. It’s not just a one time decision, it is an every day choice that I must make.


 

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Final Thoughts

I know this is a huge topic and I have barely even scratched the surface. There is so much more that could be written, but maybe I could touch on it in future blog posts.

I don’t know about my future. I don’t know why I’m still in college, why I’m still living at home, or why I’ve never been on a date. But this I do know. I am trusting God to lead me exactly where He wants me to be, therefore I can peacefully rest in Him and accept my present situation.

Thanks so much for reading! If  you have any thoughts you would like to add, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email! I’d love to hear from you. 

Until next time!


God’s Timing is Perfect 


 

5 Tips for Surviving a Tough Semester

Spring Semester 2019- Too Much

I have a real knack for getting myself into things way over my head, and I’m pretty sure that’s why this past semester was so difficult for me. Since I had dropped out of a few classes during the previous semester for numerous reasons, I was attempting to make up for lost time and enrolled in 5 classes, 3 credit hours each. I know this is a fairly normal load, but the problem was that four of them were upper-division English courses–and I was in the honors section for one.

On top of this, I was waitressing as much as possible in order to pay off my student loans and my other bills, while also tutoring on the side for a little extra income. This made my schedule extremely tight and made it difficult for me to get all of the heavy reading and writing assignments done for all of my classes.

Since this was a lot to handle, I realized I would have to make some major changes if I wanted to succeed. Here are a few things I found really helped me get through the hardest semester I’ve had yet.


1. Planning Ahead

I have been known in the past to be a procrastinator. Knowing I would have several 15-20 page papers along with all my other work, I knew that I would have to change that about myself. I bought a bullet journal on Amazon for about $10 and made myself a custom planner before the semester even began. For each week, I wrote down all of my assignments and my work schedule. This helped me to see what was coming up and which weeks would be busier than others. I used the extra spaces for things like keeping  track of my daily habits,  a positive thought for the week, and a weekly Bible verse.

Bullet Journal Planner

I definitely would not have made it without this planner. Organization is a must when juggling work schedules, school assignments, and everything else in life.

2. Self-Care

This is another thing I had to constantly keep in mind. A few semesters prior to Spring 2019, I was a disorganized mess and ended up coming into finals week completely unprepared. I was writing 12-page papers in a single day, and I did 3 all-nighters in one week (and only took a couple short naps on a few of the other days). Needless to say, it was very bad for my health and I was sick for nearly a month after that and I lost a lot of weight (not in a good way).

I knew that with all of the long papers scheduled for that semester, I would need to make sure that this would not happen again, so I was very careful to always get enough sleep. I was usually in bed by 10 PM and I only stayed up until midnight twice. In the mornings, I woke up pretty early to have my devotions right away and eat breakfast.

I tried to avoid junk food that would make me tired and I always made sure to take plenty of water on campus with me. Staying in good health helped me to be able to focus and think clearly while writing papers.

3. Motivation

Staying motivated was extremely important, but it was often very hard. No one ever feels like writing a 15-20 page paper, no matter how much they love the subject. In these moments, I would often remind myself why I was writing that paper and why I was in college to begin with.

On some particularly rough weeks, I would reward myself in small ways. I would schedule a ice cream trip to look forward to, a fun night playing Uno with my family, or even something as simple as a cheap face mask from Walmart (seriously–they’re only 2 for $5.00!)

To Do Lists also really inspire me, since I love being able to cross something off that has been completed. I got a bit creative with this in my bullet journal for the last 3 weeks of the semester, which involved a LOT of short papers and several really long papers. I basically just doodled on two pages, making one thing to color in for each assignment. For the larger papers, I made something that could be split into multiple parts. Coloring was a nice stress-reliever for me, and the feeling of completion after it was done was extremely satisfying.

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As silly as it seems, these small rewards kept me going sometimes and were a nice break from all the stress of my schoolwork. Staying positive helps tremendously!

Also. Coffee. It’s like a hug in a mug.

Enough said.

4. Music

I’ve said before how important music is to me. Good music has the power to uplift my entire mood and change my day around for the better. As I drove to class, I would often sing along with my Southern Gospel music, which  was a fantastic stress-reliever that brought a smile to my face while also reminding me of important Christian truths.

While writing papers, I almost always played soft music in the background. In order to concentrate better, I avoided anything with vocals and usually just chose some soft guitar music. I know a lot of people cannot focus with music playing, but it was important to me in order to stay upbeat and on track.

5. Time with God

Although everything listed above was incredibly helpful, I could not have made it through that semester alone. There were days I thought I was never going to make it. Life threw a few curve-balls at me right in the middle of the semester that I was certain I would never make it through.

I somehow did it though–with God’s help. Every struggle, every tough day… I had to remember to turn to Him. Sometimes I just outright told him, “This is going to be a hard day, and I cannot do it without You,” and I know He was with me every step of the way.

Next semester already looks difficult and its easy for me to get overwhelmed and worry about how I will ever do it. Then I remember its not just me. I have a Heavenly Father who will be there to help me through every day.

Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”

-1 Peter 5:7


Final Thoughts

I plan to continue doing all of these and look for more ways to improve my life this coming semester. Right now, I am enjoying my summer and working as much as I possibly can while I have time.

I know I haven’t written in a few months, but I did so much writing during the semester, I was just totally drained for a while and needed a break. This summer has been gloriously rejuvenating so far, and I hope to post several times before going back to school this fall. I know this post was a bit different from my other ones, but I have more ideas that I am currently working on that I will post later. Thanks for reading!

Until next time!


 

My Struggle With Devotions & 10 Things To Improve Devotional Time

Burden or Blessing?

Devotions. Ugh.

Yes, I have thought that many times in the past. I am not afraid to admit that devotions have been a continuous struggle for me all of my life. Many, many times in the past I would start a new year by saying “This is the year I will do it. I’ll do devotions every day and fix my relationship with God.”

Yeah, it was a good thought, but it normally did not last more than 2 weeks. I think the longest time I consistently did devotions growing up was probably a couple months. This was because of many things, but mostly a lack of desire and discipline. That, and the fact that I was not even a Christian during most of those times.

Fast forward to the beginning of last year. I had been a Christian for about half a year, but still had no solid devotional life. Having never started the habit in the past, devotions were hit or miss. I would simply forget, or just wake up with absolutely no motivation. For a long time, devotions felt like a burden. A trial. Something I just didn’t want to do because it wasn’t fun. I would read quickly and recite a prayer that I’d prayed many times.

It was not because I didn’t want to grow in my relationship with God. It was more a lack of discipline and even a lack of understanding. I didn’t know how to have meaningful devotions. Yes, I grew up in church, but I still felt I had no idea what I was doing in my devotions. “Read your Bible and pray” isn’t good enough. It is so much more than that.

I remember feeling so confused. “Aren’t devotions supposed to be good for you? Why can’t I feel the “blessing” that I am supposed to get by doing this?

Changing My View

One of my main problems was that my view of what devotions should be was completely wrong. I saw them as a “duty.” A task I had to complete to be a Christian.

If this is how you view devotions, you are probably not going to get anywhere. 

I remember getting so frustrated that one day I finally said, “God, I don’t know how to pray. You’re going to have to teach me.” I talked to other people about my struggle. Someone told me that I should talk to God just as if I were having a conversation with a friend.

“Just talk to Him about anything. Even your waitressing stories, or your long day of classes.”

Sure I had heard the “talk to God like a friend” before, but for some reason, a light bulb came on in my head. I realized I had been trying so hard to sound like the people I hear praying at church. I had not been making it personal. It was rough at first. But I began learning.

My view changed from “devotions are a required duty” to “devotions are about relationship.” As an illustration, think of first meeting a friend. You probably did not have a close relationship right away. That closeness comes through getting to know the other person through conversation and shared experiences.

Mind-blowing thought: it is the same with God. This is why daily devotions are so very important. As you share your experiences with God, He becomes more and more a part of your life. As this happens, Bible reading gradually becomes easier as well, because it will be less out of habit and more because you have a genuine desire to learn more about Jesus and how to live life better as His Child.

Through this new outlook, devotions became more meaningful. I found myself surprisingly excited to wake up and chat with God about the events of the previous day. 23 years into my life, and I can finally say that I do have consistent devotions. Sure, I miss a day here and there. Life happens. But overall, I have made talking to God and reading His Word a part of my everyday life.

What Can I Do To Improve My Devotions?

1. Desire

You cannot improve your devotions unless you truly have the desire. Reading more, praying more often, etc….. will not help you unless you truly have the desire to improve. (This may be obvious but I had tried in the past to have devotions more often without a desire to actually draw closer to God. It doesn’t work.).

This desire will grow as you become closer to God.

2. Discipline

Devotions, even when they are going well, still demand a high level of discipline. Some mornings, I would get up too late and run out of time. “I’ll just do them later” did not work for me. I have found that if I do not do devotions in the morning, they will probably not happen at all. Therefore, I began setting my alarm an hour earlier to allow for more time. I began cutting out things of less importance (video games/YouTube videos, etc) to allow for what was truly important.

I won’t say it will get easier. It does in a way. But even today, I woke up and badly wanted to hit the snooze button. But my life is extremely busy now that classes have begun. I knew I had to force myself to get out of bed and begin my day with God.

You will not always feel motivated. This is where the discipline is important.

3. Conversational Outlook 

This was mentioned above. Talking to God shouldn’t be a recitation of requests that you say every day. It doesn’t have to be eloquent and sound like the preacher or someone at church. It should be YOU.

Being real. Saying, “I had a really bad day today” or “my classes went really well today! I got an A on my test!”— these are totally okay. God wants to hear you.

“Doesn’t He already know this stuff? He knows everything.” Yes. He does. But He wants to talk to you. Sharing your life with Him will help you to form a close relationship with Him.

4. Concerns and Requests

While I am totally against “reciting” the same prayer every day, we always have those daily requests of people we’re praying for or something in our lives. Yes, that’s fine. We have to ask God for help in these situations. I just have to be careful to think about what I’m saying and not just repeat a list of requests without any meaning.

5. Praise and Worship

Devotional time should never be “all about you.” God is certainly our rock and our refuge and we are meant to bring our requests to Him. But do not forget that you are talking to the King of Kings. He deserves our praise.

My pastor just preached a sermon about this. In my notes from the service, I jotted down, “God is holy. He needs to be worshiped. He wants to give Himself for us to enjoy and we need to give ourselves back to Him. Ourselves. Our Worship. Our Love.” (Pastor Grabill, January 13).

6. Bible Reading

Bible reading is sometimes the tough part. Especially if you are wading through genealogies. You may not always feel like you are “getting something out of your reading.” I have been working on reading straight through my Bible and what I have been doing is reading a Psalm every day alongside my other reading, especially when the other text is really heavy. Do what you need to in order to stay focused on the real reason you are reading–not because you have to, but because you want to learn more about God.

7. Shut Out Distractions

This cannot be emphasized enough. Close your door. Turn off your phone. Devotions will not be a profitable time if you keep interrupting your time with God to check Facebook or reply to texts. I turn my sound off and put my phone somewhere on the other side of the room so I cannot even be tempted by its presence. Not only does it blow your focus, but it is also extremely disrespectful to God.

Just as you should not be texting while your friend is talking to you, using your phone during devotions is rude. God may be trying to talk to you, and if you are constantly going back and forth between your Bible and your phone, you are wasting your time.

Do yourself a favor and make sure that you use your devotional time carefully, designating that time to listen and talk with your Heavenly Father.

8. Keep A Notebook Handy

This is not necessary for everyone, but for me, I find that I do better with a notebook nearby. I think much better when I write, so I always keep a notebook beside me while having devotions. I write down things that jump out at me while reading, answers to prayer, things that I may be struggling with, etc. I feel like it keeps me on track just a little better.

I started this habit last June, and it is also really encouraging to go back and read the things I previously scribbled down. The things I struggled with back then are not even a concern to me now. It shows how much I have grown, and has many instances documented of answered prayers. Just flipping through it quickly on a day I’m feeling down can cheer me up easily.

9. Don’t Make A Science Out Of It

Devotions are a special time with God. Over-analyzing what you should be doing could throw you off track. Focus on just being there with God and talking to Him. As you do this, things will fall into place.

10. You Do You

Not everyone is the same. Find what works for you. As long as you are having that special time with God, and it is helping you grow, you will stay on track. Recently, I have started listening to good Christian music at the end of my devotional time, normally after prayer. Since I am musically inclined, this has helped me a lot. Is it necessary for everyone? Definitely not. Nor is keeping that notebook handy. Find out what makes your time with God special and do it.

Conclusion

This blog post definitely got away from me and was much longer than intended, but I definitely felt like sharing my struggle and what I did to improve. Devotions are so incredibly important and feel difficult sometimes, but its a struggle many people have. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them or email/pm me! I’d be happy to chat with you about my experience.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time!

 


“Discipline is being able to force yourself to do something, in spite of how you feel, over and over until it becomes a habit.”

— Kim Brenneman


 

The Dangers of “I Can’t”

“I Can’t Do This.”

How often we say this little phrase. Sometimes we grumble it in frustration. Other times, we cry it out, burdened by the stress of life. Or perhaps we sob out a weak, “I just can’t do it anymore” in the midst of heartache we think is too great to handle.

It’s normal. Everyone has moments in which life seems too difficult. There are times in which the next step in life looks like a mountain much too big to face. “I can’t!” is our easiest escape. When we are too broken, stressed, or depressed to see a remedy to our situation, the quickest “solution” is to simply say “I can’t.”

“Can’t Never Did Anything”

I had a teacher in high school that told me this often and I hated it–mainly because I knew she was right. I was definitely guilty of often saying “can’t,” especially when it came to writing papers or getting good grades. As much as I despised the saying at the time, there is certainly truth to it. When we say “can’t,” we are immediately setting ourselves up for failure. If we have a task before us, and we look at it with an “I can’t” attitude, we have already given in. Even if we begin and then suddenly feel overwhelmed and back away, have we really done our best?

While there are some things we just cannot do, often, the case is simply that we do not truly give it our best. Saying “I can’t” before we have finished a task immediately lowers the likelihood of its completion, because we are doubting ourselves. With this mindset, we will tend to not push ourselves to do our best and we will often give up faster.

I have seen this tendency in myself as a student. If I begin a project with an attitude of self-doubt, I don’t always work as hard as I should. It takes longer, and the feelings of doubt snowball until I’m a mess of emotions. On the contrary, I could begin by saying, “yes, this is going to be tough, but I’m going to do my best.” The attitude makes all the difference here. We often don’t realize what we are capable of–and if we stop doubting ourselves, we can accomplish things we never thought possible.

Pity Party

Again. I am guilty of this. ” I can’t” is sometimes us just feeling sorry for ourselves. “I can’t” comes out in its whiniest form when really, what we mean is that we either don’t want to do something, or we are just having ourselves a little pity party about how unfair life is.

These are the times we have to just grow up and push through it. We have to stop acting like children and realize life isn’t fair. So maybe you’ve hit a rainstorm in life. That’s no reason to sit down in a mud puddle and cry. Put up your umbrella and start walking.

Emotional Struggles and “I Can’t”

Hurt. Heartache. Depression.

“I can’t” shows up in all of these situations. When our hearts are broken, and we feel like we cannot go on with life, we cry out again, “I can’t.” It’s easy to do. It can be hard to put one foot in front of the other sometimes. But each small step forward will bring you closer to the sunshine again. If we have made it this far in our lives, surely we can make it another day. And then another after that.

But instead of saying “can’t,” reach out to someone. Maybe it’s true… you can’t. Not alone, anyways. But there is a way for you somehow. I don’t want to get into this topic too deep,  (perhaps in a future blog), but as one who has experienced some levels of depression in the past, I can definitely say there are times in which I’ve felt like I absolutely could not live one more day and handle it.

But somehow I did. It wasn’t by staring up at a mountain, wondering how on earth I’d climb it. It was by taking one small step. And then another. Friends helped me climb, and I suddenly realized I had reached the top. I had conquered my mountain. We all can.

Spiritual “I Can’t”

A little over a year and a half ago, I hit a low spot in my spiritual journey. I had only been saved for a couple months, and old temptations were popping up. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I was slipping. I remember sitting in my room crying out to God, “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough.”

Well. What I’ve learned is… I was right. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t good enough.

Wait, what?

That’s right. The truth is, we can’t do it. We aren’t good enough–not by ourselves. The key here is with God, we can. My problem was that I was relying too much on my own strength. Jesus said, “Without me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5 KJV). We cannot do it alone. Without God, we are nothing. But, “by the grace of God, I am what I am” (I Corinthians 15:10 KJV).

One of my very favorite verses is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I’ve had plenty of situations in life I didn’t think I could handle. But somehow, I am still alive. I made it through days that I thought were too horrible to bear. And now I know that it is by God’s strength alone that I can survive.

The most comforting thing is that no matter how awful things seem–no matter how bleak the future looks, God is not going to allow more testing than we are capable of handling. (I Corinthians 10:13), and He is there as our strength and shield.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you’re struggling with… don’t give up. You can survive. Turn to friends, talk to God, let the tears flow, do whatever you need to… just don’t say “I can’t,” and underestimate yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure when you have the potential to rise up above your circumstances and shine. Don’t stare up at the mountain and worry about how hard it looks. Take a deep breath. Smile. And take one small step forward.

If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments or send me a message using the link on my contact info! Thanks for reading!

Until next time!


“With men, this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:26


 

Thankfulness and my “Wasted Semester”

Being Thankful

It’s easy to be thankful. While some may have more than others, we can all probably easily list 10 things we are thankful for without hesitation. I’m very blessed. I have a wonderful family, a warm house to live in, a job, a relationship with God, and so much more. It’s not hard to be thankful for the good things I’ve been given in life.

One thing I have been learning in my Christian walk, however, is to also be grateful for things that don’t seem as inherently good. I was listening to the song “Blessings” by Laura Story recently, and it really made me start to think about life differently. The song talks about how sometimes the things we see as bad things are actually blessings sent from heaven. We seldom realize these trials are actually benefiting us in some way while they are occurring, but upon looking back, we often find that it was for the best.

Fall 2018: A Wasted Semester?

I’ll confess, this semester has been a real struggle for me. I had switched majors right before scheduling classes, and everything felt chaotic from the very start. Switching majors put me at a different campus than the one I had previously attended, which was nearly triple the cost from what I had been paying in tuition. About a third of the way through the semester, I nearly had a breakdown. Nothing was going right. Two of the classes I was enrolled in felt totally “off” to me. I was getting fine grades, and the workload was not too heavy for me, but every time I went to those classes, I just felt out of place and like something was really wrong. It was as if there was a wall blocking me from praying on occasion as well.

I dropped both of those classes. I had never dropped a class before in my entire life, especially not mid-semester. It really messed with me for a while. I felt like I had done something wrong. Had I somehow failed at following God’s directions for me back when I registered for classes? I didn’t think so. But those thoughts tormented me for some time.

With all my spare time, having dropped a total of 6 credit hours, I worked a lot more, which allowed me to pay off some debt. Not only this, but I also had more time in the mornings to spend in my personal devotions. I still had a 45 minute drive to campus, but I also tried to use that as extra prayer time or to listen to uplifting music. All the while, I was battling thoughts of failure; thoughts about how this would set me back. I would graduate later now for sure, and I was already behind after changing my major. I wondered what people would think if they knew I had dropped out of two classes in the middle of a semester and if they would assume I was failing the courses. So much money and time was spent, only to withdraw halfway through. It all felt like a waste.

Finding Good in the Bad

More recently, God has been showing me a different way to look at things. I firmly believe I did not go astray, but rather, everything that happened was all part of God’s plan for me. After dropping those classes, I had long conversations with God that might not have happened otherwise. I overcame my doubts and fears about whether I was still on track or not, and I fought battles that I might not have fought if it wasn’t for going through that particular situation. It was a tremendously frustrating and confusing situation to me at the time, but it pushed me closer to God.

One of my favorite lines in the previously mentioned song is “What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?”  I know that it is difficult to see the blessings while going through dark times, but God always has a reason, even if it is simply to bring us closer to Himself. Through the battles we face, we can learn and become stronger. Though it has only been a few short months since all of this took place, I know that I am much closer to God because of it. This, and other painful situations make us appreciate the good times even more. More importantly though, they give us a chance to ground ourselves even more firmly in the love of God and to experience His grace in new ways.

No matter how rough the Fall 2018 semester has been, I am grateful for everything that happened. All those times I shut myself in my room, crying out to God were worth it because of the deeper relationship I now have with Him.

Bible Verses about Always Giving Thanks

There are so many Bible verses about thankfulness, but I wanted to share two verses that specifically speak of giving thanks always and in everything.

Psalm 31:1 – “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

I Thessalonians 5:18 – “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Final Thoughts

It isn’t always easy to praise the Lord while going through horrible circumstances, but it is certainly a good thing to do, and quite essential to living a healthy Christian life. I still struggle with this myself on occasion (as I’m sure we all do), but I am grateful for how God is helping me to view life differently.

Hopefully everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.

Until next time!


“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.”

         — E.P. Powell