College, Faith, Lifestyle

From Now On…

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably obsessed with all things The Greatest Showman. I could talk for hours about how much I love everything about this movie- from the music, the choreography, the casting, the costuming, everything.

Despite that wee fan-girl moment you just witnessed, this blog post is not a movie review. It is, however, inspired by the movie.

If you’ve seen the film or listened to the soundtrack, you know that it’s almost possible to pick a favorite song as they are all so beautiful lyrically, but one that’s really inspired me lately is the powerful ballad at the climax of the movie- “From Now On.” From Now On is the the song PT Barnum (Hugh Jackman) sings with the circus cast after an unfortunate event, when he realizes he hadn’t been acting like himself due to chasing the fame and glamor of the world. He decides that he is no longer going to focus on the things that don’t matter, but instead shift his attention to the things that do.

What does this mean to me? Well, let’s take a look at some of the chorus’ lyrics really quick:

And from now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the lights.

From now on, what’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight.

It starts tonight.”

As a Christian college student in 2018, these lyrics pierced into me.

“…these eyes will not be blinded by the lights..” In this age of social media and television, it’s so easy to become distracted by, even obsessed with popularity. By how many followers we have on our social networks, by how many people we know, by the idea of having people know your name, or having some type of fame. We often end up, in a sense, “blinded by the lights.”

As a Christian, I recognize that this is something to be wary of- we are warned against this kind of idolatry of worldly things, or the desire to be of the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The apostle Paul wrote this because it was relevant to the people culture in Rome thousands of years ago, but it’s still very relevant today.

If we are so focused on fulfilling the glamorous, glittery expectations of the world in order to “fit in” or be seen as “like-able,” we are not paying attention to God’s beautiful and perfect will, his plan for our lives. By doing this, we’re sending ourselves down a road of destruction. We lose the very depths of who we are by not utilizing our spiritual gifts and opportunities- just like PT Barnum lost who he was in the film. In The Greatest Showman, we see Barnum get caught up in fame, esteem and wealth- so much so that he neglects his circus family and brushes off his wife and children in order to pursue more wealth and fame.

As viewers, we may think “Seriously, P.T.? You have so much greatness happening right in front of you- why would you run off?” But we know deep inside that we do the same thing all the time. We don’t appreciate what we have in the pursuit of something we perceive as better, even if it ends up hurting us or leaving us dissatisfied. If we turn our focus back on to what we have, from now on, back to God and his plan for us, we will be more satisfied. That satisfaction may not come during our time on Earth, but it surely will once we’re in Heaven with our creator, living in eternal satisfaction.

Another struggle we face is procrastination. We wait to do things, and I’m not just talking about homework! When faced with the opportunity to pray out loud, share our testimonies or tell someone about God, we often think “eh, I’ll do it next time/week/month/year.” This response becomes repetitive & we continue on this trail of putting things off that could’ve planted seeds. We keep neglecting our garden that’s right in front of us. God knows when we recognize an opportunity he’s called us to & neglect to take advantage of it. I can name numerous times I had the opportunity to share the gospel or show God’s love to people where I didn’t, and I feel upset about it.

Those days of waiting are over, my friends. I challenge y’all to join me in prayer and challenging yourself to use the opportunities before you. Seize the moment, share the love & work together with other believers to spread the word of God to everyone who hasn’t felt it. Stop procrastinating life, stop procrastinating sharing the Gospel & stop procrastinating everything because the time is now. As the Greatest Showman said, “what’s waited for tomorrow starts tonight!”

God Bless,

Faith, Life

Dear Dysautonomia

As a person with a chronic illness of the autonomic nervous system, I’ve had to make many adjustments & try different treatment plants. It’s a battle, but it’s a battle I’m willing to fight. Since creating this blog, I have joined some online communities of other Christian bloggers my age. Many of these ladies also deal with chronic illnesses- some have dysautonomia, some have EDS, some have MS or RA, and the list goes on. I’m extremely blessed to have been able to talk with these people and build a community with people who understand what I’m going through. Many of these ladies have way more challenges to face due to their illnesses than I do, but they are so strong and inspiring to me. They give me support & the optimism to push through even the toughest days.

I’m not gonna lie… At first I thought this diagnosis was the end of my plans, dreams and goals. I was glad to have a diagnosis after almost half my life searching for one, but the reality of knowing the changes I was going to have to make made me negative and sad, leaving me feeling just plain broken.

I still have rough days, but thanks to God giving me strength, my healthcare team, my family & my community of fellow “spoonies,” my mindset has shifted. And because of that, I have a few words I’d like to say to this sly, confusing little illness:

“Dear Dysautonomia,

I know you think you’ve won. I know you think I’m going to accept that I’ll be sick forever. I know you think I’ll be debilitated and give up on everything I’ve ever dreamed of… But you are so wrong, my “friend.”

Okay, so I had to stop dancing, my favorite art form and sport of all time, until further notice. I bet that made you ecstatic. So I had to “give up” cardio workouts until further notice. Okay, well that’s not the end of the world. Yes, I spend every day in pain, and with a skyrocketing heart rate. Yes, I find myself sweating even when it’s cold, having chronic hypotension and downing liters upon liters of water- oh & don’t forget all that salt! I’m sure you’re enjoying every bit of this, waiting for me to crack. To give up and fall victim to your grasp.

The thing is… you don’t own me, you don’t own my life. You can throw countless annoying symptoms at me, make me take medications that I cannot pronounce, cause excruciating migraines, panic attacks and pretty severe anxiety, but you cannot take away who I am: a fighter, a motivator, an artist, a student, a friend, a daughter, a leader & most importantly, a child of God.

You can throw all these inconvenient, stressful things at me, but my God is right here with me. I’ve accepted the fact that you’re an obstacle I have to juggle daily- but I will not be overcome by you. For all the flare ups, all the days you make it nearly impossible to get out of bed, I remember who I am. I’m not running away from this diagnosis anymore because you don’t scare me. You may be a storm, but let me tell you, my God is bigger than any storm. I’ll keep dancing in the rain and enjoying the things I can do. You can keep doing your thing, but you will not beat me.

Before I go, Dysautonomia, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for showing me how strong I am. Thank you for making me turn to God as my strength in a time I was separating myself from him. Thank you for showing me that I’m a fighter, an overcomer and a goal-getter. Thank you for showing me that there’s more than one way to do something- if I just allow myself to be creative and motivated. Thank you for causing me to pursue other avenues of creativity and rediscovering my love for old hobbies and art forms, reminding me of so many of the gifts God gave me not only to cope, but to glorify him with.

Dysautonomia, you may beat up my body, but I refuse to be a victim. I will keep fighting until there’s a cure- until this “invisible illness” is well known, and is no longer stigmatized or brushed aside.

One last thing… leave everyone else alone. I hate seeing what so many others are going through. I hate seeing how many people don’t have access to amazing doctors or a strong support system like I do. You can mess with me all you want. Just know, I NEVER quit.

Sincerely,

A girl with POTS.”

To all my fellow “spoonies,” I’m praying for you and rooting for you. You’ve got this. Don’t hesitate to send me a message if you need anything. Never give up.

Xoxo,

Lifestyle

Getting Real: A Few Thoughts & Where I’ve Been

Being a Christian is hard. No doubt about it. Being a young Christian in a world that is increasingly becoming more and more secular is very hard. But it’s not impossible & it is worth it, that I can promise.

Look, I struggle. All the time. I doubt myself. And believe it or not, I doubt God’s plan. I hate saying that, but I’m just trying to be real with y’all. I know God has a plan for me, but I’m a human and I am selfish. If things aren’t going according to my plan, I feel like I’m hopeless. I worry way more than I should. Sometimes, when things go wrong, I doubt that God loves me. And I know that’s not true, but you see, the enemy likes to plant seeds of doubt in us. The devils WANTS us to lose faith, he wants us to doubt God. And I do, because I am human.

I hate that I have these thoughts, I hate that I disobey God & I hate that I let him down so constantly. But ya know what? No matter what I do- no matter what you do- He loves us. God loves us so much more than we can comprehend. That is comforting. So yeah, life is hard. We have rough seasons. The enemy gets us down; we doubt and we’re insecure. We feel lonely. We screw up.

But if we didn’t, why would we need a savior? If we were perfect, what would be the point of seeking salvation? Where would our freedom lie? If we were perfect, we’d perfectly comply to all rules and standards, we’d never make mistakes.

I make mistakes ALL THE TIME, but you know what? God’s grace & love are stronger. //

I’ll be honest with y’all. I haven’t posted on my blog since November and I don’t really have any excuses other than I felt like I was in the dark. It was a tough semester, and the holiday season was hectic and my faith was shaking a wee bit, as much as I hate to admit it (but hey, it happens). When I had time to write, I felt uninspired, too weak or unmotivated to write and that’s weird to me because usually I’m constantly hitting down ideas. Now, I did plan out some posts, but the writing I had was scrapped because it didn’t feel like me. It didn’t feel like my content. I was in the mindset of making blog posts like other bloggers, and not being true to who I am as a content creator. I want to share things that are meaningful and that reflect my thoughts genuinely, but as I veered away from my personal blogging style & into that of others, my content was mediocre at best, didn’t excite me and just felt…. “bleh” to me. During the past few months, I just didn’t feel like myself. My focus was on making content that receives attention, that gains more followers, that people love reading- and not on the foundation I built this website upon. You see, my initial intention was never to (and still isn’t) become a viral blogger whose platform was for beauty, fashion & clickbait. I made this blog as a way to express my thoughts and share them. I made it to glorify my creator & savior. I made it to fuel my creativity in a time when I had nowhere else to channel it. I made it to be genuine & relatable. To let people know I’m here for them. To do my best to be a light, but I failed myself as I got caught up in the media aspect of blogging. I’ve been dealing with a lot, and I let those feelings mask my true thoughts, making writing hard. I dealt with spiritual warfare, I had doubts about my faith- my worthiness to go to Heaven. Truth is, I don’t deserve to, but that’s what’s so beautiful about God’s never ending and reckless love (yes, I did reference that beautiful song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. Check it out because it honestly is such a great reminder). No matter what you do, where you go or how you feel, don’t close off. Don’t run away & lose yourself in the process. Let God keep you anchored and strong; with Christ as your anchor, you can stand firm and steady even when it seems like nothing is going right, like you’re all alone. //

What does that tangent have to do with what I was talking about earlier? Well, everything. You see, I messed up. I had a purpose, a goal as a blogger. And then I let the glamorous ideals of the blogosphere cloud my mind and fill it with ideas that are great, but that are not true to me. This is true to us as Christians. Though if you’re reading this, you may not necessarily run a blog, I bet you’ve sacrificed your intentions, or changed your actions in order to please the masses, and lost yourself in the process. Maybe you haven’t (and if that’s the case, pleeeease tell me how you managed to do that because you’re much stronger than I am), but you’ve had thoughts about it. You get stuck in a rut. Your personality is in a conflict with the world, or with God. Maybe it’s spiritual warfare, but whatever it is- you’ve felt it. That feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen, what you’re doing or who you are. Just an overall conflicted, hot mess. Truth is, though, we’re all a little messy- that’s why we need God!

Maybe something made you doubt if God loves you or if he even exists, or maybe it’s made you feel guilty and unworthy of his love. Maybe you’ve just had so many unhealthy thoughts you don’t turn to God anymore. You’re just plain stuck. Let me tell you something, it happens to ALL of us. The devil is trying to drag us down, to get us to walk away from God. He wants us to hurt & fall into a life of reckless, carefree sin that’s is perceived as meaningless. And though that may be, don’t let these little adversities or objections cause you to lose sight of your faith, of Christ. Being a Christian is about having faith & sticking to your beliefs. It’s about standing up for them and sticking to them even if you feel like you’re being beaten down & crumbling. Just look at the stories of the biblical martyrs. Those like Stephen and Paul, who kept declaring their faith until their last breaths. No one said life is becomes easier as a Christian, but it does become meaningful and worth living, striving towards an eternity of love, peace and bliss with our Heavenly Father.

I’ve found that every time I’m true to what I believe, to my faith in God, life is meaningful & worth living no matter how difficult it gets. On the other hand, when I separate myself from my values and from God, life feels meaningless and not purposeful. I become complacent, unmotivated, unhappy, insecure, etc. This is my personal experience but I know for a fact I’m not alone- because God just put this on my heart today. Someone, somewhere is reading this and thinking “oh… I do that too…” and I want to let them know:

You are not walking alone. Christ is before you so keep marching, and I’ll be right by your side. Stop taking the opinion of the media or society to heart so much that you feel like you should change yourself into someone you are not. Do not let these worldly things make you give up your values just to be accepted and likable. You ARE likable, you ARE loved. Don’t let anyone dim your candle. Be true & be honest. Don’t act like you have it all together when you don’t, don’t hold back on sharing your faith out of fear of what others will say. Yes, you’ll more than likely get rejected for unashamedly sharing your faith a time or two, but so did JESUS.

If Jesus, the miraculous and perfect son of God was rejected by people, but still continued to love and minister to them, that’s what we should strive to do. If people reject or make fun of us, we can move on. If the creator of everything could sacrifice his own perfect son to save mankind from sin, we can face a little bit of rejection, criticism and skepticism from the people around us. I know I’m not perfect, and neither are you, so of course we are criticized. Our every action is watched by onlookers who can see when we mess up or when we aren’t acting like ourselves. Live honestly, live genuinely.

Friends, just like I lost myself in the clutches of desire for internet popularity, we all lose ourselves for the desire of being “better” or “acceptable.” It’s not worth it, but it happens & God always seems to intervene and stick with me. Being a Christian is hard, but it’s worth it, and community helps. Find a good group of Christian friends to keep you accountable for your actions & prayer life. People you can trust to vent to about your spiritual, emotional & physical struggles. I veered away from that for the past few months, and it only make me feel more alone, broken and hopeless- so fellowship and accountability are major keys to life as a Christian!

From here on out, I pledge to live genuinely, boldly and make my internet presence match my real one (to the best of my ability” and pray that you will do the same.

Happy new year & God Bless,

Verses of the day:

– 1Peter 4:16

– Hebrews 6:19