an encounter with light

Written in my journal in mid-February….

Today was beautiful. God is awesome, and I was reminded of that today. I am at InterVarsity’s winter conference.

The past week before coming here involved breaking down several times. I am seeing a counselor, and we discussed some deep things recently. Together, we reached the conclusion that panic attacks were no longer my biggest struggle. At one point, they were. But, at some point in time, another issue reached the forefront: repressed emotions. I have been repressing emotions for years. Some emotions come through the cracks but not always to their full extent, and sometimes they do not surface at all.

So, back to this particular week. I’ve been having a lots of little moments this week where bits and pieces would surface, and I would just start crying. I was not totally sure at the time what it was that needed released, but I knew that something needed to come out. I have been praying all weekend that whatever needed to be released could be released so that I wouldn’t go back to my college with the same buried issue. Tonight, though, I did not pray one of my normal, everyday kind of prayers. It was a cry out to the Living God. It was a plea for freedom from the very depths of my soul. It was a cry for the One who defeated death to break the chains that had me so trapped for so many years.

After a few minutes of that, this feeling of darkness washed over me, but it didn’t consume me. It was all the bad emotions I’ve suppressed over the years. It felt dark and cold and … broken. I felt the brokenness, the disconnect between what I felt and what life was originally designed to be before the entry of sin in the Garden of Eden. These feelings were accompanied by images of scenes where people hurt me and of other bad experiences that impacted my life greatly. It was terrifying. It was far worse than my worst panic attack. It was worse than hallucinations of monsters I’ve had in the past. It was real, raw emotions. It was like 10 years worth of pain and emotions, all at once. I was sobbing, and making that like wail-like sort of sound. Tears were pouring in rivers down my face, to my shirt, my lap, the floor… I was a mess. But, somehow, I was okay with that. I was at peace with all of it. I knew that God was there, and I knew my prayers were being answered. I knew that it would pass, and I had to let it happen. I knew that if I tried to stop it, then it would not accomplish fully its purpose.

But then, when the darkness was draining out, this light came flooding in, along with joy and hope and more peace than I ever thought was possible to exist. I am pretty sure I started laughing at some point, just because I couldn’t contain the joy that filled my entire being. I was shaking, to, because the amount of hope and joy and light and life…. my body couldn’t contain all of it.

May I never forget what happened tonight. May I always remember that He is the peace amidst the most scary thing I’ve ever known. Let me never forget that His light shatters the darkness, and the darkness cannot even attempt to fight back, because the light is too powerful. Fear and peace don’t have to be antonyms, and aren’t antonyms for those who place their hope and trust in Christ. I was terrified, but still at perfect rest.


What God did that night was a miracle. He worked through my hurt and my pain to do something beautiful. This, too, is a part of my story. And I cannot keep it hidden. What is written above was recorded in my journal (with some minor edits) on February 18, 2017. I have avoided telling my family and some people about it, but I shouldn’t do that. It is a story of how God works in broken places and it is now a part of my history.

living with long-term illness

I don’t think I have mentioned this much before, but I have an autoimmune disease and hypocholesterolemia (meaning my body doesn’t produce enough cholesterol) and a bunch of other diagnoses. And some days it’s hard to know how to respond and to stay strong mentally. I am sharing this not because I want an outlet to complain, but because I want others to understand the confusion and frustration and discouragement.

Imagine this for a second. It’s 6:30 pm. You have pain right below your stomach that’s worse than the normal everyday pain. You have already taken the maximum medicine for the day. You’re also totally exhausted from walking to classes and barely keeping up with note-taking in classes. You want to lay down and curl yourself up into a ball under your blankets and listen to some music. But you are also in college and have a short paper and 150 pages of reading and two quizzes the next day. What do you do? Do you sleep for a few hours and wake up at midnight to finish your work, knowing you won’t get much sleep between finishing work and having classes? Or do you try to finish everything first and then sleep? Or do you finish everything except the reading and ask a friend for a synopsis? Or maybe you skip studying for the quizzes too and hope to do ok without studying? My point is, how do you decide whether to try to feel better or to do really well in school? And sometimes, I don’t make the right decision. I had to get an extension for a paper once. I’ve skipped reading before. I’ve failed quizzes that I could’ve aced with a little studying.

And, as someone with anxiety, when my pain levels increase, I freak out. I list off things that could be wrong. Once I calm myself down, I can think through things to identify the which organ(s) are located in the area that hurts and think through things logically. Slowly, the time required to calm down is decreasing. But it is a slow process.

It’s really easy to get discouraged. For example, my abdominal pain will get progressively better for a period of time. Then, all of a sudden, it’s back – sometimes worse than before. And while some progress is consistent, a lot of it is not. It’s easy to start complaining. It’s easy to get angry at God. It’s easy to want to give up. And for me, this is my hard thing. I think everyone has that hard thing in their life. This is mine. While the anxiety and the panic attacks are bad, if I could change only one thing, I would choose medical healing, not psychological healing.

Through it all, I am trying to remind myself that God is still up there, watching over me, protecting me. I am reminding myself of the many, many blessings I do have – antibody levels decreasing, energy levels are a little better, less unexplained muscle pain. While it feels like repeated piercing of fiery knives 24/7/365, I am trying to be thankful for the days that are a little better. When I want to complain, I remind myself of days that have been worse. I remind myself that Jesus never left and never will, and that He is right there with me in the pain. I remind myself that if I finish strong, one day I will be in a place with no more pain and no more tears. And in that beautiful promise, I can rejoice.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4

a reflection on life in light of the ressurection

I know, I missed an entire week of posting. I needed to take some time to think and process things. I needed to take some time to think about who God is and who I am in light of that. I learned some things this week. None of it was really new, but it reminded me why I need to continue the fight.

Isaiah 53 prophecies Jesus’ death on the cross. He suffered for us. He suffered so that we could be healed and made whole. Isaiah 53:5 says that “by His stripes we are healed.” Because of His wounds, we can be made free.

Let’s think about this for a moment. We say God can do anything, right? Then, why did Jesus have to die? Can’t God just forgive everyone? This kind of thinking puts us in a weird place. It puts us in the place where we find questions like, “Can God make a stone so big He can’t lift it?” Rather than talking about what He can do, let’s think about what He will do. If we know that He won’t do something, then it doesn’t really matter if He can do it or not, because He isn’t going to do it even if He could. To put this into simpler words, it makes more sense for us to talk about what He will or will not do than to talk about what He can or cannot do.

That said, He won’t do anything that is not consistent with His promises and with His character. Because He is holy, just, and righteous, it would be inconsistent with His character for Him to allow sinners to go free. Because He is loving and merciful, it would be inconsistent with His character for Him to not show mercy and grace. Therefore, He could not let sinners go free, and He had to provide some sort of redemption. That is why Jesus had to die on the cross. Jesus died so that we don’t have to die (spiritually).

So, then, what does this mean for us? It means that the God of the universe sent His only Son to die for us so that we could be made free. It means that Jesus left heaven to die for simple-minded humans who cannot begin to understand the idea of infinity. It means that we are loved by the one who can strike people dead and can heal sickness. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV). We were purchased with His blood. We are made whole through His suffering. We are healed to serve Him. Our bodies are His, and our spirits are His. This means that we need to glorify Him in the way that we treat ourselves. Self-harm hurts Him too, because we belong to Him. If we waste our lives, if we give up this fight, it’s over. It’s over and there is no going back. We have one life, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t make a permanent decision to end the struggle of something temporary. Keep fighting, and keep living for Him, because one day those who trust in Him will be in heaven, a place with no more pain and no more tears.

And if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, I can tell you right now that you will not find hope anywhere else. I haven’t found peace anywhere else and I don’t know anyone who has. You will never be at peace until you’re whole, and only Jesus can fill the empty you feel. If you want to talk to someone about this, email me via the contact form on the about page. I’d love to answer any questions and let you know about some resources.

Don’t give up, because you only have one life. Give up your life and it’s gone. You were bought at a price, so use your life and your body to glorify Him.

learning to rest in the peace and promises of God

I Will Rest – City Harbor
I will rest, I will rest
In the promises that You
Have given me
I will rest, I will rest
All Your goodness
And Your mercy follow me
They follow me

I will not fear
I won’t forget
That you are always near
Even when the road I walk’s unclear
In the waiting I’ll be still
And know that You are God, You are God

You’re my Shelter, my Refuge
Fortress for my soul
I will trust You
You’re my Shepherd, my Rescue
Forever my stronghold
I will trust You, trust You

Calm. Peace. Rest. Safe. Those words should be comforting, but sometimes they feel a bit intimidating. They feel like an impossible dream sometimes. People talk about we don’t have to be anxious because we have God, but that’s easier said than done – especially for someone with generalized anxiety disorder.

Sometimes, we think that putting up walls will make us more safe. So we keep it in. We internalize it. But the best thing to do is to take it – all of it – to God. We are commanded in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We are to bring our requests before God with thanksgiving. Ever prayed and felt worse? You probably came to God with the wrong attitude. I tend to do that a lot. Sometimes, I don’t go to Him to prevent having that weird feeling. We want God to fix everything and forget to give thanks for what He has already given us. We focus on the anxiety and the bad memories instead of remembering His promises and the good memories.

Philippians 4:7 continues, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I have felt the peace of God and it is a beautiful feeling that is beyond words. It only comes when most needed. This is just a theory, but I wonder if it rarely comes so that we can appreciate it more in those few moments when it is there. A few years ago, I was dealing with some medical issues and wasn’t getting answers. I was sick. I had lost a lot of weight and was constantly tired. My doctor and mom were afraid I’d only live for another year. I had a few diagnoses but something was missing. That day, I screamed at God. Tears streamed down my cheeks. This lasted for a while; I don’t even know how long. All of a sudden, I half-fell into my chair. I was crying still, but I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t happy but I had this sort of contentment and peace. It came out of nowhere. I remember vividly the way it felt, but I can’t really describe it. It’s so beautiful that there aren’t words in English to describe it. I guess things kind of happened out of order that day: I brought everything to God, then felt His peace, and then brought it to Him with thanksgiving. (I did see another doctor and am doing really well now though still have some symptoms.)

The song I quoted at the beginning is one that has been encouraging to me lately. It talks about how we often put up walls for protection but end up not being strong enough. It talks about resting in God’s promises. Resting in His promises has two parts: remembering how He has always kept His promises and believing that He will keep His promises. Resting in His promises is remembering that this isn’t your first panic attack, and that He has been there for every one. Resting in His promises is believing that He is always there and you can never escape His love. Resting in God is living, struggling, fighting with the peace of knowing that we will one day be in a place with no more pain and no more suffering. And with this rest comes a spirit of thanksgiving. You can’t reflect on how He has always been there without being at least a tiny bit thankful.

2016 was very challenging emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. To be honest, I didn’t expect to live to 2017. A lot has changed in the last few weeks. I’m growing closer to Christ, and I want to get better. I am learning to rest in the God who gives me the strength to do what my anxiety tells me I can’t. I have been drawing energy and strength to keep fighting from the God who gives rest in the middle of the storm. For me, resting in God is like feeling a sense a peace while in a kayak without a paddle on the Pacific Ocean during a typhoon. Everything around me is still hard and I have to keep fighting every day.

God brought me through 2016, and He will give me the strength to survive the storms of 2017.

16 lessons from 2016

It feels like an understatement to say that it has been a rough year. I hallucinated this creature every now and then from April to October. When I wasn’t hallucinating, I was worried that I would. My panic attacks got worse because I stopped internalizing them and decided to face them head on. My depression was worse this year. Despite everything bad that happened this year, it’s been a good year. I went on a family vacation, on a mission trip, and to a Christian conference. I made new friends and became closer with old ones. I learned a lot about myself and about trusting others. I finally started seeing a counselor. So, 2016 has been a really hard year, but it has also been a really great year.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, 16 lessons from 2016:

  1. God uses those who are willing and not just those who are the most qualified. I didn’t have to be a construction worker to go a a mission trip. I wasn’t a pro, but I got the job done.
  2. God enables those who are willing to serve Him to complete the tasks He gives. I never thought I would be leading a Bible study or writing a blog or going on a mission trip this year, but He called me to these things and gives the strength for the completion of the task.
  3. I won’t always be able to feel God, but that’s okay. Maybe we only feel God when we need to the most. If we felt Him all the time, we would probably lose the awe and wonder that comes when we can feel His presence.
  4. I don’t need to know all the answers. I don’t know always know why God allows His children to hurt. This year, I have been trying to remind myself that He has a plan and a purpose for suffering.
  5. Suffering teaches us how beautiful God’s blessings are. We need the dark to appreciate the importance of light. Maybe we need suffering to appreciate the beauty in friendship, laughter, and all of His many blessings.
  6. God works on His clock. Sometimes, a 1.5-hour worship session needs to last about 3 hours for God’s work to be accomplished. We need to be willing to adjust our schedules to work around His timing.
  7. I don’t spend enough time with God. I have started something where I pray at the end of the day without looking at the time. I need to do this more often, because it feels pretty awesome, just spending sometimes almost 2 hours with God.
  8. God never leaves. He is always there. Looking back on this year, I can see the times when God worked. He worked in times that I wasn’t even confident if He was there.
  9. The God of today is the same as the God of the Bible. If you had asked me if I believed this truth earlier this year, I would’ve said that I did. But deep down, I didn’t live like I believed it – until a few months ago.
  10. God still works miracles all the time, but it doesn’t mean He will. Sometimes, He does allow death and suffering, but sometimes He heals and works miracles. I used to have fibromyalgia but God healed that over the course of about 24 hours.
  11. It’s ok to miss someone. I still miss someone who died over a year ago, and that’s ok, as long as I move on and continue living my life.
  12. Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. To be honest, I think my anxiety has saved me from making a lot of bad decisions that I was afraid to make at the time. I later realized that the decision was not a good one.
  13. It’s really important that close friends know about panic attacks and other psychological stuff. I don’t mean just like your one best friend, but anyone that you consider a close friend. If you actually think you can’t tell them, they might not be a good person to have as a close friend.
  14. When you don’t tell close friends about personal things, it hurts both you and them. It hurts you because they can’t help you. It hurts them because a good friend would wonder why you didn’t tell them if they found out later (and they often do) and would want to support you.
  15. “Sorry” means nothing without action. One word can’t take back what I said or did. Saying sorry and meaning it is one step, but it means nothing if the same thing happens again and again and again.
  16. I only have one shot at life, and I don’t want to waste it. I have one shot. No day will come again. I need to enjoy the day I have been given, panic attacks and all, because there is beauty in life that I’ll miss if I focus on the anxiety and heartache.

Merry Christmas!

This won’t be that extra basic Christmas post that everyone puts up on Christmas day. This is personal, about how Christmas hope has changed my life.

Up until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t into “the whole Christmas thing” and kind of just wanted this holiday to get over with. I told my family at thanksgiving that it was ok to put up the Christmas tree without me. I didn’t feel like doing it when I was home for thanksgiving so I just said I had too much work to do. When I saw my sister’s snapchat story a few weeks ago, I regretted that. Why? Because I had found hope – hope that I didn’t even realize was there to be found.

If you haven’t read my post yesterday, you might want to do that. I will probably be referencing that a lot. It references what has been so far the hardest day of my entire life. I wanted to give up my fight on a Monday a while ago. On the following Thursday night, I knew I would do anything to live. What changed? God answered my prayer on Monday. He showed up when I felt like all hope was lost. He was there to say, “Hey, I’m still here. I hear you, I see you, and I know your hurt.” By Thursday, I realized how free I was. I realized that my fight was just beginning. I promised God that if He did something to take even a little bit of the hurt away, I would keep fighting no matter what. I didn’t expect to have to keep that promise, but God showed up in a miraculous way that day. And so I have a promise to keep. I realized that day how big God is that day. And for the first time in years, I got a taste of the heart of Christmas.

Christmas is today, and it is a day of HOPE!! Christmas is God coming down to us to be among us. Christmas is the hope of a Savior who came to us as we are. Christmas is a message of hope and light for those who feel like the most unwanted. Shepherds were, in a sense, the unwanted and cast out. But the shepherds were the first ones to be told that Jesus was born. God doesn’t give preference to the rich or the popular or the intelligent or whoever you admire. On the inside, we are all the same – broken, flawed humans. He came for the ones who need a doctor, not for the ones who are “perfect” (anyone who thinks they have no problems needs to check themselves and find the plank in their own eye). That’s the heart of Christmas. A perfect God stooping down to us and becoming one of us so that we could find freedom through the cross (which came 33 years later).

This Christmas, take the time to read the Christmas story (I recommend the first few chapters of Luke) and really consider the importance of Christmas, especially in your own life. Christmas brings hope and freedom and life. Not always the kind of hope that takes away the storm (I still fight my anxiety and depression pretty much every day) but the kind of hope that gives you calm within the middle of the storm.

Wherever you are in your walk of life, there is hope. Look to a baby who was born in a manger to rescue your heart and set you free. Fall on your knees before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who gave up heaven to become a human baby and feel pain and suffering so that you could spend an eternity with Him in a place void of all pain and all suffering. This year, don’t miss the heart of Christmas.