10-4-17

Today is one of those days, that knocks me down to size. Nine years of grief, being seen as expert level but feeling intimidated by the pain. You see, I wake up and for a split second before reality floods my conscious, I forget. I forget the heartache, and the damage that is oh so certain. Conversations new and old that find their way back to the absence, to my journey. Smile and breathe are the protocols in place when I find myself explaining, but smiles are deceptive to a heart that still feels freshly wounded. It feels trite to say that today hurts the worst, that out of the entire year, one day could conjure up more emotions than the rest, but for me that is the case. It’s a sinking feeling really, realizing that life has continued, years have passed, I have grown and changed but the part of me with you is forever stagnant. I believe that is the hardest part of grief, is the moving on part, the healing. It’s sometimes easier to be sad rather than allowing normalcy to recompose itself. For so long after the fact, one focuses on placing one foot in front of the other, they forget to let grief sink it’s teeth into the soul, because that bite always forges more strength for the next step. It’s a fumbling process that even now years later, I have to remind myself to feel the hard, lean into it. Why press into fear, and discomfort, and ugly, and messy? Because Jesus has called me here, and by choosing to be present in my pain, I’m choosing to trust that He is holding me and guiding me to something better. Heaven knows I ache for the day I get to see my daddy again, but while God has me here, I’ll welcome the hard days in an effort to draw closer to my King.

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2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

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8-30-16

It’s 11:52 pm on a Monday.
The Sunday Scaries transferred to Monday Night.

What are the Sunday Scaries? It’s that anxiety-strickening-pit-in-your-stomach feeling when the realization hits that you are headed full speed into a week filled with due dates, stress inducing activities and what seems to be endless amounts of things that waste precious time. It’s that feeling when you see your inbox suddenly has 72 unread emails and your class website begins providing notifications of assignments missed. It’s that close call when you run out the door with no makeup and your shoes in hand because your alarm decided it would be cute not to go off. It’s sitting in the parking lot of a Walgreens with your head on the steering wheel because you’re so overwhelmed tears are not even coming. That my friends, is the Sunday Scaries.

Imagine a bed/desk, laptop on full brightness, flipping from tab to tab, hair in a bun with notebooks strewn, lists scribbled into corners, and a brain struggling to regain concentration. Imagine feelings of inadequacy, judgement, and that ready to jump off a cliff desire. Being pulled from directions of diligence and responsibility to “you only live once” and “don’t be lame”. Things as such heard from that nagging sinful alter ego in the heart not from the seemingly insignificant opinion of others. Convincing confusion to welcome itself into a now unsettled composure.

“WHAT AM I DOING???!!!”

**Welcome to Sophomore Year of College**

Now what is expected? Answers? A “Here is How I Did it Step By Step”? First I am entirely too shambly for that. I believe in vulnerability. So this is where I stand currently. Hoping I wake up for class in time to eat. That is the reality most of us are living regardless if we admit it or not. Should I attend this? Do I have time for that? Will my money last until then? College man. It is not for the faint of heart. One minute you are sailing then suddenly you’re sinking.

Here is what I do know. The King of Kings is sitting with me in my psychology class, with my dead computer and growling stomach. He tells me “Do not be anxious.”

So, Monday night, now 12:17am, I am no longer anxious.

Stay Tuned.

{Matthew 6:25-34;
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.}

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6-2-16

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be, is moderately important.

-C.S. Lewis

 
**The words beyond this point are not my own. I hope and pray that Jesus uses this post of unorganized revelations to bring people to Himself and allows His light to shine through. There is no way I can give my experience with the living God justice but here goes nothing.

 
Complacency surrounded by disinterest, dripping in justification. A life lived pretending and focusing on a world full of “gratification”. Quick fixes to satisfy a deep, unquenchable desire for something different. A loneliness that seemed like a cloud of dust, choking and blinding. An open to the world attitude that only allowed for confusion and even deeper longing. A desire for a greater plan, one that doesn’t involve the pain that binds. That was me, regardless if it was identifiable or not.

Seven or eights years of age, my heart was surrendered to Jesus. The normal age for a Southern Baptist daughter to realize her need, as multiplication was seemingly life-altering. It wasn’t until real heartbreak hit that the need became more of a want, a desire for the comfort of a Heavenly Father, especially when the earthly father was side-lined. From then on, living a life labeled “A journey through Spiritual Maturity”. This sounds all nice and pretty but my King took me deeper this past month. To a place I did not even know I needed. A place that unveiled the ugliness of my heart.

There was no miscommunication regarding the Gospel or some direct ignorance of a life lived in Christ. The issue that became my relationship with Jesus was a refusal to step out of the center and allow my King to guide. I was running after relationships and my earthly desires to gain acceptance. I was trapped in the attitude that I could do it alone or that I was doing it right. Jesus, in His merciful way, drug me to Destin to hit me with the truth, that the lie I was living was drowning me. It was taking my peace, making my joy short lived, and most of all tiring me of the Gospel. God is ruthless in His mission with His people and He sought me out to bring me back to Himself. Jesus met me in Destin, with a gentle hand, showing me how far I had strayed. My eyes have been opened to my Great Need. The desire I feel in my bones, a longing for acceptance and love, I have in Jesus. I have been reminded of His grace.

Jesus removed the lies I have been hearing of unworthiness and uselessness to remind me that I am a daughter of the King. Blameless in His sight and welcomed at His table.

I wish I could relay every discovery I have made this month about my Creator and how He feels about me, accurately enough to change lives. The unfortunate part is that I do not have the right words to provide an understanding to the workings in my heart. All I can say without a single doubt is that Jesus is fighting for me. He is fighting for you and even when life feels infinitely overwhelming He is fighting to bring attention back to Himself. He is the Prince of Peace and to me that means everything. Jesus showed me the importance of community and what it looks like to run after His heart. He loves greater than imaginable, with no boundaries and so my past gets to be forgotten because it was forgiven. I am made new in Christ and now realizing my importance to His Kingdom I am able to remove the desire for a life that is not utterly consumed in Him. Settling for nothing less than His will for me.

The truths I was reminded of have become turning points in my faith and ultimately my life. Forever I am changed. But the great “mountaintop” experience I had with Jesus is not over. He is still working wonders in my heart to bring me closer and revealing more of Himself to me. Jesus is not just present on the mountain, He is in the mundane of today.

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!!

Jesus,

Use me to bring light to the darkness. Remove my selfish desires and consume me in Your presence. Life is too short to not live for something as Great as You. Remind me daily of my mission. I love you and thank you for loving me and meeting me in my wretchedness. Give me peace as I walk through this life and the grace to endure it.

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03-27-15

Sometimes it is in the quiet hours of the morning that more of yourself is revealed. You discover that the raw ends of your soul have a yearning to grow and mend. You see potential in the early light of this far off place called tomorrow. A tomorrow we all dream to live in. Tomorrow I will enjoy the outdoors. Tomorrow I will work on listening to the quiet. Tomorrow I will focus on inner beauty. Where is this tomorrow? The reality is, tomorrow is today and today is yesterday. We spend too much time planning for a tomorrow. We plan and we mull over the details wasting so much breath worrying, that could be focused on what was gently brushing over the pores in the moment. We wait for Sunday, forgetting the importance of Friday.

Last night I longed for sleep. My eyes refusing to close, I decided I would ride around hoping to calm my thoughts. I know, an unlikely haven, but rich in comfort. So, as sleep refused to take me, I decided to revisit a comfort that I know all too well. Being alone in the dark I walked to my car, my instincts recognized the familiar scent of fear but suddenly as I looked around, my steps slowed. I took a breath and shut my eyes. Silence. It has never felt so beautiful. Silence. The cold air crisp on my face, refreshing. Silence. After hours of laying staring up a eyes-adjusted-to-the-black-so-now-grey ceiling, exhausted from fighting my loud thoughts and holding my eyelids shut, I breathed in the grace that the silent night air provided. I imagine that this is what Friday must have felt like. Silent.

We all know what Friday feels like. The hopeless taste of plans that hurt. The sting of unanswered desperate prayer. And the empty feeling of a soul that has lost its purpose. We know all too well the burden that life bears. Darkness that invades our hearts and blurs our vision from seeing God’s hand. Friday could last an entire lifetime if we let it and sometimes it feels as though it does. We cloud our future with the thought of everyday being like Friday. The Friday that lasts into Saturday morning. As feet hit the ground to begin a new day and swallowing the realization that Friday wasn’t a bad dream. Little does the faint of heart know that Sunday has yet to come. Friday the world turned black, only that is what makes Sunday so much brighter.

So as I drove around in the what was now beginning to be early Sunday morning, I made the realization that Jesus allowed the darkness of Friday to shake His people into the glory of Sunday. To bring people to their knees in order to be ready to kiss His feet upon His return. I tangibly felt the grace of knowing that Christ goes to extreme measures to bring His people to Him. Even divorce. Heartbreak. Lies. Betrayal. Jesus revealed to me that He allows sleepless nights only to establish time to spend with Him. His love is so great He doesn’t let me wander far before stepping in the way of my path and forcing me to rejoice in Him.

Maybe tomorrow will be a Friday or maybe it will be a glorious Sunday but today it is important to realize that everyday has a purpose in the growth of a heart. Steadfastness.
This Easter has reminded that storms end in sunshine and Jesus will chase me to the ends of the earth. He showed me His protection of me extends all my days. But most importantly He proved that He is my safe place and always brings me a Sunday morning.
I’m thankful for a Savior that died for all of the sin in my heart. That catches each of my footsteps. & most importantly conquered death with me in mindIMG_2559.

2-4-16

*It’s only fair that you know, as I am writing this, I am eating blue tortilla chips. So happy birthday to you or me?
Gargi.

Yes friends, my older sister’s name is Gargi. A name I cherish, cry to, hold on to, hate saying goodbye to. My oldest sister, I have a few older sister but this one is my OLDEST. No, not old, don’t think old. Think wise, my wisest sister. I have a few wise sisters, but this is my WISEST. February 4th 1991. What a day. The day was probably filled with sunshine the minute her lungs filled with air, and Satan quaked in his boots. *that’s me assuming satan wears boots or shoes for that matter. Needless to say the world changed the day my GarnerLeigh was born. Now here is the question I’m sure all of you are asking. “How do you know, you weren’t even considered yet. Third in line for being next. ” Oh, trust me friends, I know.

Strength worn in a smile, feet that do not waver and hands full of grace. A beautiful combination of a women I long to be, strive to be. Growing up, *not that I’m nearly done* I have always wanted to be GarnerLeigh. To me, she has this unattainable factor that most people never even catch a glimpse of. Seeing a purely beautiful soul is rare, but being related to one has been one of my greatest joys. And I mean pure not in the way of sinlessness but in that even her filthiest of intentions seem to be merely misunderstandings. She lives a life wrapped in selflessness and pursues the hearts of all surrounding her. Always smelling of blue perfume she leaves everything that she touches slightly more intact than she found it. Whether that be hearts or bodies, her contact is magical. She doesn’t know what it means to do something halfway, even if her eyes are heavy and soul downtrodden she is going to give everything that she has. Something I admire most. She walked ahead as the first born, to catch all the scares, the fights, the rules, the misunderstandings and the “hard being a kid”-ings, allowing her four come along behind, shielded just so. Protection is a gift that she gives without effort and something no one questions. She has taught me in the way that she lives, in that following the rules gains respect but knowing when to break them allows for a life lived. She knows what heartbreak looks and feels like but more importantly understands how to find joy even in the dark. She is what has kept me going all this time and I believe I don’t thank her enough. She taught me to hate airports when Nashville would come calling, but to love milkduds more when she returned to the couch snuggled up tight. She reminds me that Jesus ultimately has control so seeking it is fruitless while allowing me the freedom to make my own decisions. She helped me learn that loving my body is more important than fitting into jeans that are not that cute anyway. Also showing me that sleeping in sometimes is more important that going on a run. Not that she doesn’t prove that running a million miles a day is possible because she does that too. Even strength in her stride, she is the definition of not giving up. She encourages with her eyes and prevents judgement from leaving her lips. She the greatest sister, greatest friend and my greatest example.
When I was a kid and I was scared or lonely or couldn’t sleep I always knew that her door was open. She would talk with me, calm me down, pray with me, snuggle me and sometimes read to me. I like to give her credit for my love of reading because in those quiet hours of the night when my many anxious thoughts flooded my head, it was her gentle voice bringing me back to peace. One of my favorite books that she read to me was the Treasure Tree (*not trying to copyright .. not sure what I say to be correct… don’t sue me) It is a book about four characters going on the journey of life and throughout the different tales the personalities of the animals are revealed. My two favorites, The Lion and The Golden Retriever, remind me of my wisest sister. This is how they are described; The Lion is daring and unafraid in new situations, likes to be a leader and take charge without being bossy, ready to take on any kind of challenge. He is firm and serious about what is expected and makes decisions quickly. The Golden Retriever is always loyal and faithful to friends, listens carefully and likes helping others while feeling sad when they are hurt. She is a peacemaker and doesn’t like when others argue. She is patient and willing to wait for something. Never have I heard a more accurate description of the beautiful contradiction that she is. Brave and humble, strong yet faithful, Daring and willing.

GL,
I remember the day that I got your car, now one of my most favorite things. Getting pearl wasn’t cool in that she is a beautiful car (*which she most definitely is) I was over the moon because she was YOURS. Most of my life that I can recall I have wanted to be exactly like you. In how you dress, what you like, how to respond to situations and most importantly who you are. I’m starting to sounds slightly creepy but regardless still to this day, as a 19-year-old–who-doesnt-know-what-she-is-doing, I still want to be like you. You inspire the best parts of me to be better and love on the worst parts even when its impossible. *I promise it can be*. You are welcoming and inclusive, daring and protective, strong and gentle, someone who admits they don’t have it all together and tries better when days are hard. You make the sun shine a little brighter and bring peace to my heart knowing you are on my side, ALWAYS. Jesus reveals Himself from your pores and you make me believe in the good. Proving that hard work always pays off and when it doesn’t there is always something to learn. Never doubt your ability to love because you have helped create me into who I am today. You are one of my favorites. Thank you for all of the joy that you have brought to this world and especially me. Cheers to 25

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1-2-16

A toast to my King
New Year, new me. Gag. But is it not true in some sense? Starting at zero in your calendar, (or if you are like me your planner ends sometime in August, confused?yes) A NEW start, a beginning. Refreshment. A time to diet and do away with bad habits. An opportunity to re-evaluate life choices and potentially clean out a linen closet. I don’t remember how old I was when I learned what a “resolution” was, yet I do remember that since I was in elementary school, I have always had one. I believe one year I decided I was going to journal daily. This lasted MAYBE four days. Half because I forgot and the other half because being a nine year old just is really not that exciting. Although almost every resolution I have ever made did not see the better half of January, each year I pledge myself to some task in order to be better. This has been my faulty logic, why bank on New Year New Me, when I can open my hands to New Year Same King?

2015 stretched me in ways I honestly didn’t imagine possible. There were times that I physically looked up and said out loud “So, I am assuming you have forgotten about me”. In the times of sorrow, I shook my fists and prayed for relief. Relief from stress and heartbreak and anxiety and all the other emotions that come with being a senior to an after-highschool-before-college-person to a college student. It has been a challenging season, not impossible but very trying. Although 2015 was a transition year (AS THEY ALL SEEM TO BE) here is what I would caption it; Great is Thy Faithfulness. He has shown me that His way is always better. “AbbeyHill,” He says “don’t you think after all this time you would realize you don’t know what you are doing” And I am not saying in the way of making homemade cookies or trying to set up a printer. I mean in the eye rolling and the big-girl decisions made without one single prayer and the bottling of emotions, pretending not to be effected by the blows life(PEOPLE) can throw and the major lack of trust. I can’t do it right and even when I do, I’m still doing it wrong. It’s time to dig deep and understand that I am incapable of functioning properly without Him.

I am an over thinker, and if you know me well you know I can talk anything to death. Flipping it over and over in my head until all possibilities are exhausted. It’s a level of control I grapple for. “If I can come up with EVERY situation that could potentially arise, there is no way I can be unprepared.” False. What ends up happening? I work myself into a tizzy revolving around a totally made up situation that is most likely 100% not going to happen. This past year Jesus has been begging me to release my grip on tomorrow and enjoy today. And as tomorrow rolls around, every time I hear “Ye of little faith, don’t you know Who holds you?”

And if not He is still Good.

Becoming accustomed to the sound of gratitude trying to extinguish grumbling, learning to live with loss, is a challenge. It is an extreme flip of mindset dropping to your knees and allowing yourself to be carried. When walking through mud and breathing in deep “He is still good”. By the grace of Jesus, this skill was instilled in me early in life. Coping. Learning to trust that even though you can’t see His hand you can ALWAYS trust His heart. Because even if tomorrow comes and it’s STILL raining, knowing that plants are being watered reestablishes the hope. The hope that there will come a day when the sun hits your face and you realize trusting effortlessly creates peace. 2015 has taught me that. It has taught me that really big hands (big enough for stars ya know) are holding me, they are writing my story in a perfect way. So while I try to imagine disasters and prepare for impact, I need to turn around and look at the beauty Jesus has planted with my tears. I have learned to trust when it’s hard but most importantly be grateful when it’s easy. He is faithful, always. Learning to not only grow in the painful moments but grow in the EVERYTHING IS GOING RIGHT moments. These are just as important if not more so. I find myself here often and tangibly feel the lack of peace when I forget to include Him. You cannot be satisfied by any grade, any relationship, any achievement or any dessert , only in Jesus Christ. He is what will fulfill your soul.

Too many failed resolutions and while I could entertain the idea of me running everyday or trying to read more books, I am choosing to take a different approach to 2016. I want to allow a Jesus saturated year but actually life, full of laughter & joy, along with conviction for my not-so-good decisions, and finally giving up control of what I ‘think’ tomorrow will look like, to Someone who illustrated every second of it. I am deciding to make kindness my first option leaving no room for selfishness. New Year New Me? Please, I have a tarnished past dripping with sin and ungratefulness, repetitively choosing the opposite of right. Yet there is a King that stands by my side. I am thankful for a Savior that keeps all of His promises and shows up in the most unlikely of places. He never fails, never giving up on me. Even in the midst of destruction caused by yours truly, He gently pulls me back to Himself. Cheers to a new year, 2016 may we grow even more.
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12-19-15

Fourteen years ago, I was gifted the most wonderful birthday treasure. By the GRACE of God it just so happened to be you.
My dearest Clax,

So here we are. Your fourteenth birthday. FOURTEEN. Honestly I feel like I am still fourteen. I remember being excited for being firmly set in the teenage status, ready to drive, ready to grow up. The five years that separate us seem so large from your little eyes but trust me, you will be nineteen before you know it. Nineteen and wondering what it would be like to be fourteen and do it all again. Realize you are at such a wonderful age. Look at me sounding like a wise old owl, I am quite frankly THE FARTHEST thing possible from wise or old but maybe, just maybe I can teach you a few tricks of the trade in hopes that you walk a cleaner path than your big sister. Here are some lessons I wish I had known when I was fourteen.

  1. Include Jesus in EVERYTHING

The most important thing in your life is your relationship with Jesus Christ. I know that sounds cliche but listen, NOTHING is possible or easy or relevant without Him. So go to Him with your worries, joys, requests, disappointments and even your anger. I have learned to consult Him even in the small things, Oh the joy it brings. Learn to talk to Him before you go to sleep, thanking Him for everything that went right and all the things that could have gone better. Find times during the day you submit to Him like when you are in a checkout line, right before you take a bite of your food, and when you are showering. Just talking to Him, running your todo list by Him, can provide so much peace to even the most stressful of days. Next time you speak a universe into being, you can say you know what you are doing, but for now trust His guidance.

2. Learn to love yourself

“Duh Abba” I can here you saying it with your sass. But seriously, I have to remind myself of this daily. The MOST important thing is to love yourself, because how can you love properly if you aren’t treating yourself to the same? When you learn to love the things that make you, you it creates a desire to live a life you enjoy. Looking in the mirror should be used for only getting food out of your teeth and making sure your dress is long enough, and I guess so you don’t poke your eye out when applying mascara. but please, PLEASE, don’t use a mirror to talk badly about the way you look. Don’t accuse your freckles of being placed wrong or your nose of being misshapen, don’t critic your hair into a pony tail or shame your curves. Just hear me out YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, and if your mirror is saying otherwise? I say get rid of it. Learn to feel beautiful in the way laugh, in the way you allow kindness to leave your lips and how your hair tangles on a windy day. Beauty is a FEELING, so feel beautiful as much as possible because kid you are nothing less.

3. Be loyal, ALWAYS.

Loyalty is a lost art. Something people forget exists I think. Always remember the people who aren’t in the room and a good way to check your loyal status is by demanding yourself to treat others not as you would want to be treated {this mindset seems to have too many loopholes} but as Jesus would. Be trustworthy and kind, be honest with courage but dripping in compassion. You should strive to be the best friend to all who come in contact with you. Even if it’s someone you speak to in the target shopping line. Be someone who can trust you with their heart and know that you care with everything inside of you. There is not enough people in the world with loyalty listed on their resumé, be one. Don’t let situations, social status, or comfort change who you are and what you believe. Be loyal to your Savior because while you spit in HIS face (hypothetically) He saved you from eternal damnation. Be loyal to your family, for at the end of the day WE are all you absolutely have. Be loyal to your friends because having a good friend takes being a good friend. Be loyal to everything you are, because who you are is the best part your soul knows how to play!

4. Be a good listener

This is something I am horrible at, trying to get better. But when someone is talking to you LISTEN. Put your phone down, stop thinking about dinner, don’t critic your nails just listen to the words. And okay it might be the most boring thing in the world but learning to listen will put you ahead of so many others in our generation. Using your ears instead of your mouth has been proven time and time again to be a blessing that nothing on the screen of your phone can provide. It teaches patience and compassion, it brings natural laughter and allows time to slow down.

5. For the love of boys, LEAVE THEM ALONE

Coming from your too-many-toxic-relationships-sister, my advice would be just to stay away. You are so so young. (as am i) use this precious time for you to love Claxi, not to convince a nimrod to. Because when I meet someone that married their middle school crush (im sure you are out there) Ill reconsider but in my experience it always ends in flames and tears. Tears that are not worth it. You are the most valuable thing in the world and NEVER let a boy tell you otherwise. The longer you wait to venture into the dating world, the more knowledge you will have obtained to know exactly what you want. It will prevent lots of heartbreak if you set your standards high and hide your heart in Jesus. I wish I could go back and know the dangers but thats why Jesus is SO great, because I went before you to solidify how scary it can be when you are not ready. Because there is a man of God already picked, so why waste time trying to stuff people in molds when God’s plan is already in place. Take a deep breath and place boys as far from the top of the list as possible. Learn to be your own rockstar.

6. Sing out loud as much as you can

A joy I have found on rainy days when everything seems to be going wrong is to sing. Sing a praise song or a rap song or a sad song but just use your voice to release some joy and register happiness back into your heart. Sing in the shower, while you curl your hair, when you go searching for socks and especially when the radio is on. Sing in the car, every time.

7. Remain a kid as long as possible

There will come a day when your mom wont be downstairs, so go climb in bed with her when you are scared. There will come a day when eating a triple cheeseburger actually will make your cholesterol go up so eat every bite. There will come a day when you don’t have enough energy to workout so go on a long run. You have a long time until you are old, but I’m just saying live everyday like you are still ten, remember your lessons, but be ten. This makes life so much more fun. Take the stairs two at a time, get extra whip cream, jump on the trampoline, sleep in on every Saturday possible. Just enjoy it.

8. Work hard

In school, in relationships, in exercising, in crafting and even in trying to wrap the rubber band three times around your pony tail. Try your best. Jesus calls us to do everything like we are working for the Lord, which we are. So always put your everything into what you do, even if its a cookie decoration. It will teach you to appreciate hard work while learning how to live a life worth celebrating.

9. Walk in grace and exude kindness.

Being kind is so important and something busyness often takes from us. But taking the time to smile at a stranger or ask your friend how they are doing can go a long way. Be kind always, even when someone is bitter or rude, humbly reply with kindness. By being kind you allow for grace to drive you through your days. Gift grace to those who need it most, gift it with a helping hand and a forgiveness tilted mindset.

So there it is, if I actually wrote out my 19 years worth of lessons, I think my computer would crash. These are a few I think are most important, and relevant to you. The most amazing thing though is that you don’t need me to tell you how to do it right. It’s unbelievable to me how well you navigate through your days, with such grace and love. You inspire me everyday to be a better person than before because you put 100% of yourself into every moment. I admire the way you treat honesty as the highest command because I know with you, the truth will always be established. You make me believe in the good by how you laugh and long to be the best you possible. Being your big sister has been the biggest pleasure. Watching you grow into the women you are becoming each day. Someone I long to be. Thank you for being my best friend and teaching me so much about life from a shorter perspective. You open my eyes to so many of life’s joys that I overlook and encourage me to be exactly who I am. I am forever grateful that 14 years ago I was gifted a baby sister. Someone that has taught me more about life than I have her.

You are proof of God’s GRACE,

I love you Claxton Grace

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12-12-15

Dear Roomfriend,

So, it seems that I love doing everything at inappropriate times, for example, writing to you when I DESPERATELY need to be studying. But I have never followed the “supposed to” rules so why start now. I have been meaning to express my love to you but as you of all people know, my life has been “shambly” lately. I can hear you saying “how many times do you say shambly in one day?” –not enough Alexandra, not enough.

It’s only right, that since our ‘One Year Knowing Ya’ anniversary is coming up, that I should celebrate you in the best way I know how. With my misspellings, failed joke attempts and grammar that shames all my elementary school teachers; a thank you of sorts, thank for you dealing with me for the past {almost} 365 days.

I sent you a picture the other day. It was a quote from Pinterest, you know how much I love those, and it said; “Any friendship that exceeds the 7 year mark is more than likely to last an entire lifetime”. Unfortunately as cute as this sounds I don’t believe this is true. I don’t believe time has anything to do with friendship. If time is the measurement of love, LOTS of people have some explaining to provide me. I think that a forever friendship is a feeling, a lovethat you just know is a forever type of thing. I see it in the way that you love me so selflessly and unconditionally. You stick around even when it’s (i’m) hard to deal with, when the sky is blue or grey & even when you yourself feel out of control. You don’t hold many things against me & living with you has been splendid {for me at least}. Only one other person knows how hard it is to live with me and we share a last name (shout out to JamieKeith) so kudos to you for making it through an entire semester living in such close quarters with yours truly. Below are some reasons I am going to love you forever for being my roommate, although there are ups & downs, I’m thankful at the end of the day I get to say you are my best friend.

  1. Thank you for ALWAYS talking me off ledges.

Listen, I know how to talk myself into a frenzy ending with “I’m going to die”. We have gotten to the point now, you start your response with “You’re not going to die, calm”. As a freshman daily meltdowns are the most normal thing in the world. Because my day can range from major-blast-from-the-negative-past to I-think-you-are-on-some-type-of-drug. (disclaimer I don’t do drugs). You know I love my dance parties and being so hyper you are slightly frightened but you love me anyway.

2. You let me be me

This might be a little graphic (reader discretion advised) but the majority of our conversations inside 521 involve me completely naked. And you know, in the 150 days I have been living with you I have not received ONE complaint. Not saying you are weird or anything but you just accept the fact that stopping me from being me would just cause confusion, aka not worth it. And on top of the lack of clothes, you let me sing at the top of my lungs at all times, even if you are studying. Which i’m sorry about, really and truly.

3. You encourage my style

Sometimes I make you sit up in bed to let me twirl in front of you wearing a men’s XXL tshirt as a dress and you let me believe it’s actually a potential outfit, thank you for that. Also for the colorful socks, lipstick with workout clothes, and the backwards baseball hats on the reg that you approve. Understanding that I can’t stopped is something I will always thank you for.

4. Doing weird things with me

For example I may or may not have bought spray-at-home-yourself-but-not-really-yourself self tanner from Ulta and yes you did spray my back to the best of your ability. And yes I am forever grateful for telling me I didnt look like a carrot (even though I did)*just a multicolored carrot. Other weird things like loving my cactuses and two animal heads. *i sound weird, i am. Let’s just say you are the most accepting person I know. If I said to you “I think I am going to become a lion tamer!” You would just nod and help me pick out a cute outfit for it. Thank you.

5. You share your food

“I’m hungry”-AbbeyHill
Yeah I know, it’s a constant thing that I don’t know have groceries in the room but thank you for sharing. Thank you for sharing everything of yours from clothes to smiles to laughter to information about deadlines. YOURE GREAT.

6. You get my humor

Sometimes I am extremely sarcastic and you understand it is nothing personal, just me trying to be funny. And even if i say something extremely rude, you realize it came out before I thought through it so you don’t hold it against me.

7. Me texting you a million times doesn’t phase you

You know there are two modes with me either you don’t hear a response for 8 hours or I’m responding as it delivers. And Ill say things like “Okay I can’t find any pants” then you remind me where I put them. It’s beautiful really.

8. You give endlessly

I don’t know how I got so lucky but you seem to come alongside me whenever I am most out of my league in life and place things back into order. You freely give your time and energy to keep me from shambles *there it is again* and I appreciate that more than you know

9. You know I am a talker and love me for it

You sense my need to tell a 5 minute story for 45 minutes and allow me the freedom to do it. You may get really irritated but you love me enough to let me beat a subject to death because of this I think you are an angel.

10. You genuinely care about me

Whenever you ask how my day is I know you are not just asking out of courtesy but you honestly care about the fact my grilled cheese was slightly burned and all my socks were dirty. You are my sounding board when I get off kilter and someone who draws me back to truth.

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To say that I am thankful for you is an understatement. Almost a year ago I made the brave decision to download an app *freaky I know* in search for a strange roommate. Not saying that you are strange just that you were a stranger to me. I have never been more thankful for the guidance of Jesus in this leap of faith. You came into my life at a time when having you kept my feet on the ground and even to this day, up or down, you keep a smile on my face. You are loyal to who I am and for that I can never repay you. For choosing me, means the whole world. I’m thankful for our pillow talk and Ellen marathons. The fact that I can come into the room sobbing and you put my pieces back together by reminding me of Truth. Im thankful that you love to eat as much as I do and you take my pain as personal to you. Your soul is as beautiful as your face and you always know what to say to touch something in me. Being my emotional support is only the half of it because Alexandra, you are weird. Like so weird, but so am I so thank you for being that. You being gone for this next month is too much for me to handle, but you will visit I am sure. Thank you for picking lipstick out of my teeth, straightening the back of my hair, and ALWAYS reassuring joy back into my heart.

You are the best roomfriend a girl could ask for,
i love you with my whole heart.

AH

 

11-3-15

It’s a funny thing, you know, when someone owns half of your heart. That seems odd to say & maybe it seems like an exaggeration but when you know, you know.

What is a soul mate? Being trained in the concept all my life, with theories of tall boys with sharp jaw bones & a white horse to save me from my troubles. I would be lying if I said, to this day, I don’t still wonder if there is a man out there suitable to carry my crazy emotions & minor freak-outs on his shoulders while kissing my pink lips {& doing it all well}. Sometimes when I look at myself, I realize this idea of a man capable of being my soul mate is completely & utterly outlandish. I’m not saying that I will never be with someone, because when i decide my heart is healed, I’ll venture into the realm of relationship status: taken, but for now Ill laugh at the idea. Especially when I have crusty three day old mascaraed eyelashes & hair that is so tangled it could smuggle in an immigrant. But not only is this thought whimsical because I lack the ability to put up with someone long enough for them to love my obsession for lipstick, the concept of me having a soul mate is out of the question because folks, I already have one.

Jamie Keith,
Life is hard. It quite honestly sucks sometimes. On days like today, when I am twenty-seven minutes late to a class I could have missed anyway. Twenty-seven minutes late with frizzy hair & an aching didn’t-sleep-well-body. Twenty-seven minutes late as I rushed in the humidity only to land in my seat with moisture behind my knees & potentially my forehead. Life is hard in many ways. Its hard in the way of getting out of bed when your body craves sleep, in the way of having to balance school-relationships-money-work-studying all while trying to enjoy the sunshine on occasion. Its HARD. But as I ramble on I’m going make it to the point of all this. In this HARd life, I was gifted you. Someone to absorb the brunt of my pain & catch my tears with a bottle labeled ‘compassion’. Even when I cry because I just paid $30 to have my nails done only to have them chip in an effort to save my falling phone that inevitably shatters. Yeah, you know me and how the tears can come and even when you want to laugh, you hold me. Or when something actually gut-wrenchingly-heartbreaking slaps me & my face goes blank you know to wait, wait for my strength to melt, you wait, you wait because you know. You know me better than I even know myself. Even a slight tone change perks your attention. Even through a text, you know. I bleed gratitude because I was placed into the arms of my soulmate when I was only a few days old. Looking into the eyes of the little lady that would carry my heart for the rest of my life. That would listen to my horribly-bad decisions with grace & encourage me when you see pain behind my eyes. Yesterday, when we were spending our time together, our once-a-day visits. I was listening to your hurt & failing to come up with sufficient words to make the pain go away. If I could do anything, be anything for you, I would take every hardship from your plate, even if I had to endure it. I would take every hang nail & every ungrateful remark directed your way. I wish with all my heart I could catch your pain. I pray everyday I am as a good a sister-friend that you are to me. So, yesterday as I listened to my Need-to-Breathe playlist. Intently pouring over the lyrics of a song.

A song that I give to you now, as a love letter from your oldest friend.
(from NeedtoBreathe)
“Brother” {but actually sister}
“Ramblers in the wilderness we can’t find what we need”
Searching and searching for something to fill a void that only Jesus can fill. A loneliness that even a party with eight hundred people can’t satisfy. A hunger that you show me deserves Jesus. A hunger that doesn’t ache so much because of you.
“Get a little restless from the searching, get a little worn down in between”
Panic attacks from plans gone awry due to unholy gestures looking for something, anything to satisfy this life. Thank you for being my rest, my comfort, my couch to lay on. Thank you for being a refreshment to my soul when I’m deeply searching.
“Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own schemes”
Ha, okay for this one just picture me running from a bull, thats what I feel like sometimes. You are the clown that distracts the bull while I get back on my feet. Picking me back up when the breath has been knocked out of me. (I’m thinking of a rodeo when this isn’t applicable but you get the idea)
“Everybody needs someone beside em’ shining like a lighthouse from the sea”
You truly are my lighthouse. I hate it for others that they don’t have you but honestly I am not willing to share because you are what keeps me shining. You are my courage and my smile. You’re the thing that keeps me going in this college world that I seem to not belong in because my heart is in other places.
“Face down in the desert now there’s a cage locked around my heart, I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were. Now my hands can’t reach that far”
Sometimes I convince myself I will never be healed. That my past will forever awaken me in my sleep, forever mar me from trusting & loving. It’s thanks to you that I feel that weight lifted off. The hope that I will heal. It’s thanks to you that I trust, & still love people through my hurt.
“I ain’t made for a rivalry I could never take the world alone, I know that in my weakness I am strong, but, it’s your love that brings me home .”
You know me. You know I have a loud bark & no bite. Saying, sassily, that I am okay, you know. You know that I am lost in this world without my strength, my strength being you. Without my sense of belonging. Because no amount of pink lipstick can change the fact that my heart is soft. You are my home.
“And when you call and need me near, Sayin’ where’d you go?. Brother I’m right here. And on those days when the sky begins to fall, you’re the blood of my blood. We can get through it all”
When my sky falls, you are my umbrella. I know nothing can actually knock me down because you are holding me up. You encourage my differences, my strength to stand out, you keep me walking through.
“Brother let me be your shelter. I’ll never leave you all alone, I can be the one you call when you’re feelin’ low. Brother let me be your fortress when the night winds are driving on, be the one to light the way. Bring you home”

Lastly after going on and on describing how you are basically my bones, I am giving you my love. My promise and my request for you. Sister let me be your shelter, your fortress.
Let me be all for you that you are for me. I will never know what I did so right to deserve you.
ALL cheese coming from this sister of yours. Helping you out on this rainy Tuesday morning. Be encouraged because this world would not be the same without you and my world would crumble. You know this, I know. Thank you for being my sunshine. Thank you for loving me in the way you drive me around & pay for food. Thank you for sending me things that make my day infinitely better. Thank you for having a smile that could knock out an army. And not just being beautiful in the way you look but in the way that you live. Thank you for being grace and understanding everything that I am. Thank you for being my big sister. My friend, my soul mate.

your oldest friend, AH

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10-12-15

{you are every lovely word i could possibly think of}

At what moment did you tangibly believe in the gospel? When did it settle into your heart as truth? What was your A-HA-moment? I guess the next question (or answer) would be, well what is the gospel. The Gospel of Jesus is that God loved us so much, more than we could imagine, He gave up everything to forgive and welcome us back home. {through sending His son to swallow His wrath, paying the debt we owed, reconciling us to the Kingdom} Now that we are all on the same page of this great news, let us revisit the first question. When did this become real? If you haven’t guessed, I’m about to tell you when this Truth became clear in my head.

Regardless of those who believe it or not, this was perceivable to me (even though I didn’t quite understand) in the womb. // okay, woah ahc, this is weird. \\ i know bear with me \\. Without realizing what was going on, at conception i entered into a bond that would be the closest thing to the tie i have with my Creator, that being the relationship with my mommy {aka my creator **little c} Starting before oxygen entered my lungs, i was loved and cared for more than i would ever imagine. Still to this day, eighteen years later, i underestimate the love i was grown in.

I was raised in selfless love. Love that would wake up every few hours to feed my premature-body. Love that would kiss my sheet wrinkles and wipe my bottom. Love that would watch Dora with me in bed when my sisters left me for school. Love that would brush through my two feet of hair, even if i had to be wrestled. Love that would let me occasionally dress myself but loved me even more by redressing me in something that didn’t make me look like a boy. Love that would tickle my back until sleep washed over me in my many anxious nights. She has demonstrated everyday what it looks like to die-to-self and put others in front.

My mom is the single most caring person that i know. But as far as caring has gotten me in my journey through life, it is her all encompassing grace that has formed me into who i am today. Grace that extends even the most disrespectful of responses and dramatic of eye rolls. No matter what i do or say or think or ignore, she is ready to catch me when i turn around in repentance. Already forgotten and forgiven she helps me react and do better. The broadest of shoulders that catches too much unwarranted negative emotion from my side of the fence. If i was my mom, i would have walked away from me by now. To say that i am undeserving is an understatement of her value in my life. She can sense my emotion by the look on my face and never fails to show up in the midst of my own disasters. And not only with me. She has single handedly raised five children alone for the past seven years. Not only raising them, but emotionally providing them a back bone to lean on when life literally drowns.

Without my mom i would lack wisdom when dealing with unusual circumstances, intuition when guarding my heart, laughter when almost everything else has crumbled and self control when peace has vacated. She is the direct result of a life lived in unison with Jesus. Always turning my focus to the bigger pictures and allowing me the freedom to not be concerned with temporary things. When faced with pure darkness, I was victorious because she wrapped me in her arms and carried me through. When life gets up to my eyeballs, she calmly brings me to the peace an joy we are gifted in Christ. Sometimes we talk for four minutes and sometimes it’s four hours, but every time it is rewarding. She always protects, always trusts, and always perseveres. She is who i want to become.

I believe in the Gospel for many reasons, but my main understanding of who i am in Christ comes for the woman that let me grow inside her and continues to grow me to this day. I could never doubt Jesus’ love for me because i don’t deserve someone like her, therefore Someone really has to be looking out for me.

Mommy,
Im sorry for all of the times i have failed you, disappointed you, lied to you, and allowed my emotions to brutally work themselves out on you. To say that i would be lost without you is an understatement. You are the reason I am still breathing, the nerve that keeps me fighting and the joy that gives me the courage to smile. Thank you for teaching me strength, beautifully displaying grace, and showing me what it looks like to actively pursue Jesus. I love you beyond words and celebrating you one day a year is not enough. You are closest to a perfect mom as we sinful humans can get.
Happiest of Birthdays to you my love, my giver of life, and my bestfriend

ah

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