Graduating

Today one of my classmates and I were talking about how we both just want to graduate already. 

“I just want to have my weekends and nights free again, not consumed by assignments,” he said. 

I half-heartedly agreed. I didn’t want to admit that I just want to graduate because school makes me stressed, sitting in a classroom makes me anxious and the only thing that stops it is picking the skin off my fingers, that sometimes I check my book bag for my calculator 20 times before I check the house and I just want to leave that worry behind. I didn’t want to talk about how scared I was the building would burn down one day and kill us all, and how I don’t even remember thinking that but now I can’t stop. I didn’t want to go into how hard going to school has turned for me and how I just want to be done with it. 

Instead, I went with, “Yeah. A free weekend sounds nice.”

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The People That Love Me Well

I’ve been truly blessed by the people I get to call my friends. My friends not only love me, they love me well. 

My friends can tell when I’m anxious, they recognize the ticks, they can see my mind spinning and spinning. They give me freedom to be anxious around them, and they don’t get hurt when my mind is so consumed by itself that I forget how to be me. 

My friends know when I’m struggling, and they’re always beside me, cheering me on and making me laugh through it. 

My friends invite me to things, celebrate with me, and allow me to celebrate with them and to just celebrate them. 

My friends know just what text to send when, and my friends forgive me when I keep forgetting to text them back. 

Being with my friends is not just being with people that I can laugh and commiserate with. Being with my friends is being loved and accepted. My friends show me and extend me grace every, and they are true gifts from God. 

Even in the brief moments we spend together, it is clear to me my friends love me. They show it in big ways and in subtle ways. They show me when they’re next to me and they show me when they’re hours away. 

I only hope I can learn to love my friends just as well. 

The Girl With Two Jobs

I have two jobs.

I’m also a full-time engineering student (I average 17 hours a semester).

I am this. I am that.

God really put it on my heart the other day in the cereal aisle that these don’t define me.

The cereal aisle is a weird place for a revelation, I know. But it took me 20 minutes to pick a cereal this week. That’s crazy, I know. Especially for the full-time student with two jobs who is on top of her life. Or supposedly. That’s what I hear when I say that I’m doing all of this, and doing well at it.

The reality is, my life is not all together. I’m still broken. I’m still struggling to get it all done. Every day I collapse into my bed, exhausted, and maybe even a little mad at myself for keeping myself so dang busy. Sometimes I go to the grocery store, and I just can’t figure out what kind of cereal I want this week. Or do I really want cereal? Who knows.

I’m not really on top of it, I’m just scoot-scooting by. And that is 100% perfectly okay.

Jesus tells me I don’t have to have it all together, or be on top of it. Jesus tells me, “I knew you couldn’t do everything perfectly, so I died for you. I did the hard part. Now bring your broken and let Me make it beautiful.”

That’s what I strive to do every day. Bring my broken to Jesus, and let Him paint a picture that is so much bigger and better than anything I could do.

I’m not the girl that has two jobs. I’m not the 17 credit hours.

This whole thing isn’t about me.

I’m a servant.

Doing everything I can for the God that picked me up and saved me.

Doing everything to point to the grace He so freely gives, the open arms He extends to all of us.

I hope I do Him well.

Happy Tears

Yesterday was the best day I’ve had in forever. I laughed so much (like, all day I was laughing) that there were tears streaming down my face. Interning at church is so great, and so much better than anything I had ever expected.

This morning I was writing about it in my journal, just thanking God for this opportunity and praising Him for letting everything work out for me to get to do this. And I started crying happy tears again. Last year around this time, I was heartbroken because I had to leave a school I loved so much, people I love so much, and move back home, 9 hours away. I didn’t understand why God would send me there for me to love it so much and then take it away. And don’t get me wrong, the entire time, I knew He was good and good things were going to come out of it, but in the moment none of that really helped me deal with the grief I was feeling.

But y’all. God really did bless all of it. All of it. And I am so thankful.

It took moving away from Louisiana to realize that it isn’t people that push you to God, but it’s a choice you have to make. Yes, people help, but if you aren’t committed, you won’t go anywhere and stay.

It took moving away from Louisiana for me to get the opportunity to intern at church. The church I went to there had all the interns they needed. But here, I’m the one that gets to do the thing. Interning is a special treat, so much fun, nothing but joy. I really love the work I do and will get to do, and the people I work with.

It took moving away from Louisiana for me to be (maybe) put in charge of helping start a young adult/college ministry at my church. I’m screaming. I’m so excited. This is something that I can’t believe I might get to help start, to help build from the ground up. I hope and pray that the effort we put in this summer will flourish in the fall.

It took moving away from Louisiana for God to show me that Louisiana wasn’t my only dream or His only plan for me. He’s got so much stuff planned for me, so many dreams in my heart, and each are just as sweet, if not sweeter, than Louisiana. They’re all good. They’re all for me.

For the very first time, I’m kind of thankful that God brought me back home. I will always miss Louisiana, and I think I might always be a little sad that I didn’t get to graduate from LSU. But if I had stayed there like I wanted, none of the stuff that fills me with so much joy right now would have ever happened. None of it. And sitting here right now, I can’t imagine my life any other way.

As I was driving home from Louisiana this time last year, I was crying at how sad I was to go back home. I couldn’t wait until another opportunity to leave Macon. When I drove back to my house last night, it struck me that I would actually be pretty sad if I ever left Macon again. Of course I would do it, if it was in God’s plan for me. But I think I would be just as heartbroken leaving this dream.

I know my story isn’t over yet. I know there are more trials in my path, and even more celebrations. I don’t know what the rest of my life will bring. And I don’t know if I will recognize all of the troubles on the way for what they are. I didn’t realize what blessings the trouble of moving would bring, because for as hard as moving was, it has turned around and blessed me ten times more. That’s more than I could ever have asked for. So now all I can do is sit here with happy tears, praising God. I finally see the good. And man, it is so much better than anything I could’ve imagined.

The Ways God Speaks

I’ve been stressed out about the grades I made on my finals, and what I’d end up with in my classes. All week I’ve just been sitting and refreshing the grade thingy in my school’s system. All my grades were in by this morning, except for one–the one class I thought I might have possibly failed.

It’s really unsettling to feel like maybe you failed a class because of your final. I mean! I had a comfortable B rolling into that test, but when I left, I just knew I had bombed it. I’ve carried that feeling with me for over a week now. It was eating away at me.

And then today, when I was sitting in my room, reading a book and drinking coffee, God sent me a little message. There was a bird, sitting on my window. And I don’t mean a ledge outside my window. The bird was on the tiny ledge between the two panes of glass that make up a window. It was literally pressing itself into the glass to sit there. And maybe this wouldn’t be wild if that was the only place to sit, but there’s a tree right outside my window. So close it scratches the glass during storms, and if I open the window, some of the branch reaches into my room.

And for some reason, I just felt calm. Like God sent that little bird to press itself against the window to reassure me, “Hey, I know you’re really worried about this, but you don’t need to be. I’ve got this, and even if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. I still love you kid.” I just knew.

I knew this because birds are a big thing in my life. One of my best friends calls me little bird. When I moved back to Georgia, she gave me a string of lights with little wire birds on them and told me to Shine bright, little bird. Birds have become a comfort item to me. My next journal has a bird on the cover.

I love God. I do. I love Him for so many reasons, for saving me, for loving me despite the fact that I am a certified dumpster fire, for forgiving me over and over. I love Him because He pursued me even when I ran away, I love Him for showing me what He is capable of, and what I am capable of when I trust Him and let Him work through me. But mostly, I love Him because He speaks to me in a way that He knows I will understand. When I was stressed this week, He didn’t make a verse of scripture pop into my head. He didn’t send a text or a person this way that would say just the right words. He sent me my bird, pressing itself into me and into my life, to let me know that He’s here, pressing into me and pressing into my life.

You Turned My Darkness Into Dawn

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of girl I was in high school lately.

To be completely honest, I don’t like that girl. At all.

She was loud and rude and incredibly mean. Desperate to be “cool” and to fit in. She couldn’t understand why nobody wanted to hang out with her, and she hung out with people that maybe weren’t so nice either. But she didn’t drink! She didn’t smoke! She was a straight-A, 4.0 student, a model of what a non-rebelling teenage is!

I look back on high school now and I understand a lot more about life. Some of it is just because I have a little more life under my belt, but two years isn’t really the biggest gap. Mostly, I look back and understand because of Jesus.

I recommitted my life to Christ when I was sixteen, and maybe I’ll write more about that later, but that was a really pivotal moment for me. But still, that nasty girl who was just bitter and angry still existed. And she didn’t realize the kind of person she was, so she didn’t want to change. She knew she wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t realize how deeply flawed and broken she was.

When I moved to Louisiana for college, I started going to church for the first time in my life, and I actually developed a relationship with Jesus. And that’s when I started to change (Praise. The. Lord.) All of my bad hard edges got softer. I’m still sassy, but I’m kinder. I’m still feisty and hard-headed, but I’m willing to admit my mistakes and give. I am comfortable with who I am, and I like who I am. I don’t want to be like all of my peers, because I was not designed to be like them. I pick my friends carefully, so I won’t get dragged down to that place again. I kind of feel like the Grinch, like my heart grew two sizes that day. I definitely don’t want to go back.

And ya know, that’s what Jesus offers all of us. He offers to turn our darkness, whatever it may be, into dawn. To bring that nasty stuff out into the gentle light of the morning, and to fix it. Being on the other side of that, it’s so dang sweet what He does for us. It’s amazing the kind of transformation a person can have in such a short amount of time when Jesus goes to work.

So yeah. I’ve been thinking about high school me a lot lately, and when I do, I’ve been thanking God for the amazing Cameron-flip He’s done in the last two years, because I was a real fixer upper. I pray that He’ll keep changing and molding me into a person that is more like Christ and less like a person. And I go out into that dawn, birds chirping and pollen covering my car, ready to face the day and the changes ahead.

Sticky Note Gospel

Last week was rough. Actually, this entire semester has been rough. I’m in a bunch of weed-out courses. When I was scheduling last semester, my adviser wouldn’t let me take any more than my 16 hours because, as she said, “this is a bad schedule, but it’s the best you can do.”

So it’s hard. I feel like crying a lot because of stress. My grades are good considering the classes I’m in (I have all A’s and B’s), but they’re hard to maintain, and some of them still aren’t really where I want them to be to have final cushioning.

On top of all of that, I’m working 7 hours a week with one of the most inconsiderate, rudest teachers I’ve ever met. She tells kids she hates them, that she hates working at their school. She teaches me basic algebra and just points at me and then the kid I’m supposed to help. Doing that twice a week just kind of gets to you.

But, on my way to differential equations last week (definitely one of my hardest classes), while I was walking up the stairs, I saw something bright orange in the window in the stairwell. It was such a weird place for anything to be that I stopped to look at it. I honestly almost broke down in tears right there. I saw a little sticky note, with some messy scrawl on it in a verse I had never read before in Isaiah.

“When you pass through waters, I will be with you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flame burn you. For I am The Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:2

You know those moments where you’re just so down you don’t know what to do? I had been in one of those. And an unassuming little sticky note in an odd place was the thing that pulled me back up.

This semester is like my fire. It’s one of the many things I’m gonna face on my way to being an engineer. But when I walk through this fire, I’m not alone. No, I don’t have to take on so much school and work stress on my own. God isn’t only watching me walk through, He’s walking through them with me. He’s fighting these battles for me!

And yeah, I knew all of this before I saw the sticky note. But I realized when I saw it that that wasn’t how I had been living my life. I had been trying to do it all on my own, and I’ll never be able to do that. When things get hard, I need to run to Jesus. Cling to the cross.

I don’t have all the answers to life. I also don’t know how to take the Laplace Transform of sin(wt). (Okay, maybe that one I know, because it’s in my chart.) But I don’t need answers. I just need to remember the Guy who has them has my back, if I’ll ask Him.