pieces

Two nights ago I went restorative Yin Yoga at Shakti before my first day of classes yesterday. During one of the periods of long, extensive stretching I let my mind navigate to the place it wanted to go without my own coercing. During this small period of tabula rasa, I saw a girl trying to move very large puzzle pieces, almost as large as she was. At first I thought that the girl was actually a child and the puzzle pieces were indeed gigantic. Later I decided that the girl was not a child, but that the puzzle pieces were much larger than I had imagined. In this depiction of these large puzzle pieces, I was soon enlightened to find that the pieces were all different. Some of the pieces were people. Some of the pieces were experiences. Some of the pieces were memories. Some were ideas. Some were bright; some were dark. But the girl was trying so hard to put the puzzle pieces together. Fit this one here, put that one there. But she was struggling, for reasons unknown to me.

Until later.

We are boxes of puzzle pieces. My puzzle, the one specially designed for me, holds many different pieces than yours does. Mine is not any less than yours or better; just different. My pieces have my family, the people who have really taught me to grow, taught me to imagine, taught me to live, and most importantly taught me to love. Each piece is a sister, a mother, a father, a cousin, a brother-in-law, an aunt, a grandmother, a grandfather, a nephew, and the list continues seemingly infinitely. Each person has marked me like a sneaky, steady stream erodes the rock. The results are irreversible, good or bad. There are smaller pieces to my puzzle that are acquaintances, friends, and passers-by. Teachers, preachers, and leavers. The point is, each person I have encountered in my life is special to me because they have made me who I am, without me knowing it. It may be scary (and it is) that I really have limited control over whom becomes a new piece to my dynamic and changing puzzle. My experiences, memories, ideas, beliefs, successes, and failures are all essential elements of what makes my puzzle interesting and unique. They were all there, being ran over with the eyes of a girl trying to figure out where they all fit.

What differentiates me from the eggs, milk, chocolate chips, and flour sitting in a bowl? Why am I different than the neutrons, protons, and electrons out in the universe waiting to collide? How are these elements, when in combination with each other made whole, different from me? What makes me different is beautiful. I am different because I am not a bunch of puzzle pieces sitting in a box. I am not even puzzle pieces sporadically laid out on a table. I may sometimes be a girl trying to fit the pieces together in a way that looks satisfying to my own eye. But most profoundly, I am the daughter of the one interfering with my efforts. I am different from the cookies and the atoms because I am being actively formed. I am not just sitting, waiting to be combined or collided. I am a creation. My efforts are useless. My efforts cause me nothing but confusion. One of the major downfalls to my perception of this reality is that I see only a portion of my puzzle; whereas my Maker sees everything. He understands why some really ugly pieces are there. He knows with utter comprehension why a certain undesirable experience occurred. He knows, not because he sees the final picture, but because He created the final picture. He knows where every person will fit, not because He sees where the pieces should fit (this is the mistaken perception I have), but because He created those pieces to fit together. Some may disagree with this philosophy. And if you do, that is fine. But I would love for you to ascertain the idea that I wholeheartedly believe that you, too, are being created with intention and purpose.

So after seeing my obvious difficulties in trying to solve the puzzle, basically blindly, I have surrendered my efforts. I see the pieces, I acknowledge their importance. My Creator will create me. My Maker will make me. My role in this game is the accept the changes. The good ones. The bad ones. I don’t know what my puzzle will look like, and truthfully I don’t want to know. Because I know that God never creates anything less than perfect. And I rest assuredly in that. So God, take my pieces. And make them perfect in You.

 

thanksgiving thoughts

Thanksgiving is an awesome day. In addition to the wonderful delicacies I am preparing myself for, it is a day of reflection and intention. Yes, we should be thankful every single day of the year. But instead of being pessimistic about the attitudes of gratefulness today, can’t we be thankful that on today there is widespread recognition of the things in our lives we should be grateful for? Following the trend of this day of thanksgiving, I want to verbalize the things I am most thankful for. I hope your day is full of family, laughter, food, and relaxation!

  1. One of the most profound blessings from God on my life is to be the recipient of an amazing scholarship that has enabled me to meet some really influential people, conduct research early, enabled opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise happened, and most importantly alleviated the financial burden of student debt. I feel overwhelmingly blessed, very undeserving, but extremely thankful for my scholarship.
  2. I am thankful for my hard working, loving parents. They never make me question their love for me. They are the fuel behind my ambition. They are my very best friends and I can only hope to make them proud with my life and my choices.
  3. I am honestly thankful for my health. Learning about genetic diseases and the multiple problems that can happen so easily and so spontaneously has really opened my eyes to the value of health. God has given me legs that walk, eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that beats. Though overlooked and often not appreciated, my health is so important to me.
  4. I am thankful for my sisters and brother-in-law. They are genuinely there for me and feel my pain and feel my happiness. They are the ones I share my life with and without them my life would not be as full.
  5. I am thankful for the ability to openly express my beliefs. I am thankful to live in a country that has soldiers that will fight for me without knowing me. I feel so blessed to know that my beliefs are appreciated and that no one can impose their beliefs on me. I am thankful for the ability to vote and exercise my personal liberties. I am thankful, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, that I am an American.
  6. I am thankful for my roommate and suitemates. They love me, support me, and keep my life fun and full of happiness. College has been such an amazing transition because of their constant love and concern for me. My life would not be the same if I wouldn’t have met them!
  7. I am thankful for opportunity. Opportunity to love who I want, live how I want, and be whom I want. A lot of people around the world don’t have opportunity. A lot of people around the world are eager for the simple opportunity to find food, shelter, and happiness. I am very, very thankful I have all of these things and more.
  8. I am lastly thankful for my mind. My mind allows me to pray. It allows me to learn new things. It allows me to make decisions that I want to make. It allows me to know love. I don’t ever want to take that simple fact for granted. My mind enables a lot of my life, and I am thankful that I was blessed with a mind that works. It is the little things that are the most important and often not recognized enough.

2015 has easily been one of the best years of my life and has taught me how to be appreciative, humble, and thankful. We all have seasons of our lives where things feel so wrong. It is important in these times to take off the blinders of life and expose our eyes to the valuable and important things in our life: faith, family, and friends. I can’t wait to spend my thanksgiving with my family (and delicious food that isn’t cooked in my dorm microwave). What are you thankful for?

 

 

a word to my ladies out there.

A word to my ladies out there.

You are worth it.

You are worth discovering. You are worth an education. You are worth diligently and passionately chasing your dreams. You are worth the time, the effort, and the reward. You are worth waiting for.

You are worth being loved. You are worthy of changing your family lineage. You can absolutely accomplish every single thing you wish to. You are fantastic. You are worth being loved. You are worth fighting for.

So, do not tell yourself you are worth anything less than these things. Don’t tell them to yourself, don’t let a boy tell them to you, don’t let a professor tell them to you, don’t let your parents tell them to you. I promise you are worth it.

You can do it. You can become a doctor, or a business woman, or an astronaut, or a lawyer. You can be an executive. You can own your own clothing line. You can escape your situation. You can empower those around you. You can teach. You can help others. You can shine.

You are worth more right now than a cute boy whose attention you want. You are worth more than the approval of others. You are worth more than a small town, dropped out of school to live at home life. You can get an education. You are worthy to abdicate what is holding you back from chasing your dreams.

NOTHING should be in your way. If you want to go to college, work hard for scholarships. If you’re passionate about making people feel beautiful, become a cosmetologist. If you want to better the world, start doing research. If you want to own a coffee shop ice cream parlor (because honestly who doesn’t), then start networking and start SURROUNDING yourself with individuals whom you aspire to be like!

Absolutely no guy is worth you dreams. No guy is worth your insecurity about your dreams. No man should hinder you from seeing your worth and actively seeking a life that you are in love with. As women let’s start focusing on ourselves. I don’t think this is selfish, because it is okay to discover who you are and what you love before someone else decides that they love who you are and what you love, too.

It disappoints me so badly to see a generation of women settle for less than what they deserve. And it needs to be talked about! As role models for little girls, let’s please start showing them that they are worth more than what society tells them they are. It has to start with us. We have to be able to teach, and to teach we have to be able to understand. We have to understand our worth, our abilities, and recognize what is holding us back.

Leave the small town. Even if it’s for a year. Even if it is for a semester. Go outside of your comfort zone. Talk to people you’ve never thought of talking to before. Look for opportunities to try new things. Learn.

Learn about yourself.

Learn about the world.

Learn about others.

Learn about what makes your heart beat fast. Learn about what you can’t stop thinking about. Just learn.

Ladies, please recognize your worth. Don’t settle for what you are told that you are worth.

I promise you are worth more.

Don’t be average. Be extraordinary. Be unique. Be different. Stand up for your morals. Don’t be afraid to leave home. Don’t be afraid to study something hard in some place new. It will make you better. Maybe, just maybe, if we learn that we are worth more than a dissatisfying life we will start making choices that will help us lead better lives. Go get an education. And then tell others the rewards of recognizing how beautifully worthy you truly are.

You are worth it.

Share the love, ladies. I believe in you.

Thoughts of Thanks

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This morning, I rolled over onto my side and looked at my clock. 7:57. I decided to wake and embrace the quietness before this undeniably busy, beautiful day begins. As I was climbing out of bed, I reached over to turn on my bedside lamp. Warm, saturated, yellow light filled my perfectly messy room. I put on my record player and brewed myself a cup of coffee. The tranquility of these simple tasks evolved into an array of simple, thankful thoughts. There are many misconceptions about the reality of people only being “thankful” on Thanksgiving, but I am inclined to believe that this premise isn’t true. It is very obvious that attention is brought to what we are thankful for on this day marked as “a day of thanks giving”. But I truly believe people are thankful every day, even if in a very small way. I know I have been thankful for something as odd and miniscule as my eyebrows before (for preventing an influx of sweat into my eyes!). I have been thankful for bad situations that have turned into intricately developed lessons learned. I am always thankful for my ever loving parents, sisters, and brother. I am not boasting, however. Because there are times I am stressed beyond my control (or so this is what my mind believes). I have been ungrateful for many things in my life. I will never be able to fully comprehend the merciful grace my God has bestowed upon me. He, after all, is what we should be most thankful for. I have watched my family, friends, and strangers go through unthinkable times and remain thankful. Victims of robbery that have asked for prayer for the robber. Families that have had their children, brothers, and sisters murdered and have asked for mercy on the killer. I pray my heart becomes as tender and compassionate as the hearts these individuals possess. Life, so many times, can make a genuine person shallow and unappreciative. And that is why I am thankful for days like today. Where we are consciously and incessantly reminded to “be thankful”.

Along with my inundation of grateful thoughts this morning, another thought rose to my mind. I am not entirely sure why or what triggered it. The only explanation I can come to is that sometimes God places thoughts on our minds for dwelling and understanding. I thought to myself the repetitive phrase I have heard many times from exposures of marketing techniques and, of course, my parents. “Nothing in life comes free” I thought to myself. Proceeding this thought was that this statement is wholly and utterly false. I started thinking to myself all of the things in life that are free. My family offers love and devotion to me for absolutely no price. The moments I spend with my sisters discussing projects we want to do, the anticipation we share for our little Ezra, the excitement we have for Christmas, and the always present, meaningful support we extend to each other has no price tag. The care, advice, and generosity my brother in law shows towards my education and college decisions are things I couldn’t pay for and am so thankful for. The generous sacrifices of time, money, labor, comfort, energy, and passion my parents undoubtedly and unthinkably show me on a daily basis are things I don’t deserve. Love is eternal and absolutely, positively free. Materialistic things, though I do favor them and get trapped in the worldly perception of them, are not free. My hope for today is that I can shatter my love for “things” and nurture my love for people and emotion. I will keep this thought at the forefront of my mind today as I am enveloped by the love from phenomenal people I am blessed to call my family.

I want to wish everyone who reads this post a very Happy Thanksgiving. May you spend it happily engrossed in conversation and delectable food!

“I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way, in all your speaking and in all your knowledge” 1 Corinthians 1:4-5 NIV