Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Enjoying the Ride

Just something that I've been mulling over this morning...a friend of mine mentioned this a while back, and I've found it to be extremely comforting since.

Life is like a roller coaster in the dark. So many times, we ask God to turn on the lights in order that we may see the dips and turns ahead. We scream so loudly, in fact, that often we don't stop to hear that still, small voice whispering: "Relax and enjoy the ride."

A reminder of God's sovereignty. By the way, you can read my Valentine's Day post here: A Candid Valentine

Hope you're all enjoying your day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Over. Forever.

Today marks an epic day in my life, for today's the day...
I can't believe it's over. After three and a half years, endless hours of studying, late nights, exams, deadlines, tears, typing, and wondering how on earth I was going to survive...I have officially finished. Forever. Permanently. And I won't have to worry about grades ever, ever, EVER again! Oh. My. Gosh. What kind of a world have I just entered? :)
It's funny. I'm overcome with this sense of elation, but it's not coming across the way I thought it would...as in screaming all over the house, collapsing into a puddle of tears, or dialing up every single person of my acquaintance to tell them the news! *cough* Actually...well, I only called three people. ;)
Instead, I just feel this sense of calm...like "Yeah, I've done it. Good job. Next?" ;)
Lol, I have to work really hard not to get caught up in the "what am I going tomorrow" mentality. This is a monumental moment, and I want to savor every bit of it.
I want to remember those days I thought I was going to die.
Those days I felt like shooting myself in the head to get away from it all. (not really, but kinda)
All the times I wanted to reach through the computer and smack my professors upside the head. (okay, maybe take their faces and smash them against the wall!)
The times I got a great score on a paper I thought I failed.
The times I did badly when I poured my life's blood into an assignment.
Driving to Fullerton to take my exams at nine in the morning.
Circling the parking structure for one empty space and having to park up on the roof.
I want to remember those late nights that I nearly drowned myself in coffee.
The pain of writer's block where time is ticking and you can't think of single sentence to save your life.
The times I spent writing emails or "cleaning" to avoid studying.
Venting to my parents about the general lack of sympathy for Western Lit. ;)
I want to remember those nights I spent wide awake in bed planning out future papers.
Rehearsing speeches in my bedroom mirror.
Growing lethargic from sitting at a desk all day.
Walking upstairs to "my dungeon."
I want to remember today as the day I have dotted the last "i" and put the last period at the end of a sentence. Today is the day I end my academic career (for the semi-foreseeable future). And all I want to remember is this sensation of not being able to breathe.
I can't really begin to say how grateful I am...to my parents, but especially my mom who homeschooled and supported me over the years. Who taught me to read and write, who drove me to all the park days and choir practices, soccer games and swim meets, who spent hours figuring what classes I needed to take and made sure to pray with me before every exam...This is a graduation for you as much as it is for me! ;) To my dad: thanks for working so hard so that mom could stay home and homeschool all of us. Thanks for empathizing with me when I thought I couldn't take it anymore...the late nights we spent talking about the future...
I can't say I'm going to miss anything...I've had enough deadlines and due dates to suit me for a lifetime. I know it's not over. This is just the beginning. But I'll think about that tomorrow. Today, I just want to smile and look out at the sky knowing I don't have to write a paper about it...lol!
Thank you to everyone who supported me over the years--even though most of you don't read this blog. Mrs. Ersalius, you were my favorite CBCS teacher! Mrs. Wilcox, I'm sorry for spilling formaldehyde all over the brand new carpet! It really wasn't my fault! ;) Thank you Professor Pannullo for believing in me even when I didn't believe in myself.

And thank you, Lord, for directing me to Thomas Edison, for providing financially, for seeing me through to the other side.
And now, as a Thomas Edison State College graduate of 2013, I bid you all adieu!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Love Unspeakable

I know it's been a while since I've posted.  Believe me, I fully intend to go back and recap the last few weeks. You won't want to miss my Valentine's Day post. ;)
But I really feel led to share something that God has recently impressed on my heart. This morning, as I was sitting on my bed, sipping my cup of hot tea and looking out my window, I was praying. Recalling how many times I've put God in a box and kept Him there in case of a crisis.
I was craving that sense of being completely dependent on Him for everything. That string of constant communication between His spirit and mine. The way it was in Austria when I was completely alone and isolated from anything that was familiar…forced to rely on Him on a moment-by-moment basis. How my comfortable So Cal life really eliminates a need for God. And I just kept thinking to myself, "Lord, I don't deserve Your love. Why did you create me when I'm so full of fault? What pleasure do I bring to You in the day to day grind?"
And then, I just felt this still, small voice whisper without a second's hesitation. "Talia, why do you love your writing? It's full of faults and errors and mistakes. It doesn't always 'conform' to your wishes and desires. But you derive pleasure in the challenge of making something from nothing; making the imperfect, perfect. You receive satisfaction when a sentence comes out just right…when your characters are like clay in your hands. You love your writing because you are its creator. And in the same way, I love you, I find pleasure in You, simply because I am your Creator."
How simple and yet how profound. To be assured of God's love not because of anything I've done, but because of what He's done for me. Doesn't that make you smile? To know that before the foundations of the Earth were laid, God was already pleased with you…simply because you were an awesome idea? Let us carry that thought into our day, confidant that nothing--absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God…or make us any less beautiful in His eyes!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Candid Valentine

Hey Guys!

Well, it's Valentine's Day again! Does anyone feel a bit left out of today's gushy, mushy festivities? ;) lol

To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to write about. I feel like there's this unspoken rule that I must spend today either bewailing the fact that I'm 19 and single…or else I should spend my time writing a blog post all about how Christ is my "Prince Charming" and how I shouldn't mind "Single Awareness Day" because He is my fulfillment, strength, Lover of my soul, etc. After all, who needs Valentines when the Bible is (duh!) the ultimate love letter? Right?
Wrong. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not buying into that logic. Call me what you will, days like today just plain stink! Big time. Because while the rest of the nation (and maybe the world, I don't know…is Valentine's an international holiday?) is out celebrating romance, butterfly feelings, and sexual intimacy, I'm at home in my flannel polka-dot pajamas, popping Hershey's kisses, and watching Beauty and the Beast with my 10 year old sister! lol Funny, for the first time in my adult life, I feel like a homeschooler! ;)
Of course, being single has its (many) benefits. And I'm the first to admit (sadly) that I prefer my own company to a lot of things…But I digress.
Believe it or not, I am actually 99.999% happy about the fact that I'm single. I'm just really not a fan of drama. In fact, if God were to throw a relationship into my life at the moment, I'd probably high-tail it in the other direction! ;) (Naturally there is always that fraction of a percent that wishes for something more.) My point in highlighting days like today is not so much to affirm my feelings on the subject, but rather to make a statement. Because I know what every (or almost every) Christian young woman is doing out there today in blogville. And well…kudos to them, but sugar-coating reality never did anyone any favors.
It's time to take a good hard look at where we are as Christian women and come up with something more substantial than "Jesus is the Love of my life." Because you're right, He should be the Love of our lives. And every day we should strive to make that more of a reality than the day before. But let's be honest, girls. If any of us can look ourselves in the mirror and profess that that statement is 100% true, we're kidding ourselves. The very phrase forbids it. In order for God to be the Love of our lives, we must be attuned to His spirit 100% of the time…or else incredibly resilient to the things of this world. And if that statement were true, why would Christians desire to get married /have relationships in the first place? Wouldn't God be enough?   
We all have multiple "loves"--distractions that push and pull us in a million directions. It doesn't necessarily mean we are less spiritual or somehow an inferior Christian…it just merely means we are human.
If that's the case then, why do we Christians feel this overwhelming need to justify our spirituality? Do we honestly believe we are convincing others as to the immensity of our faith? Or are we self-deceived? I can't tell you how many times I've heard godly women say that they are "perfectly content" waiting on the Lord to bring them a husband/boyfriend/future significant other, etc. It's like a beautiful recited speech, filled with dozens of Christian-ese terms, long sighs, and time-appropriate scripture references. And every time, I come away feeling a trifle less sure of myself and my (apparent) lack of faith in God's timing/will. I've probably done the same thing, so understand I don't say this to offend anyone. It's just part of what we have been taught: to say our prayers, wear our purity rings, and wait patiently.
I don't know about you, but I'm done waiting patiently. In fact, I'm so sick of waiting patiently, I've thrown away/deleted all my journal entries/sentimental "I-wish-you-were-here" letters to a future mister somebody! Not that I don't believe there will be a future mister somebody. But I'm done with the mentality of "when I get married…" or "when it comes time for a relationship…"
I think we should just accept that when it comes to romance, the Christian's perspective on the subject is dichotomous. ;) On one hand, we acknowledge the sovereignty of God; on the other, we are ever-so-aware of our own physical, emotional, and communal needs. I don't think it's wrong to be of that opinion…or to say that most days, we struggle to reconcile these truths.
I just really want us, this Valentine's day, to take a good, honest look at our own lives and motivations. Can you really deny that NOT having a special someone in your life today--for lack of a better word--smarts? Are you smiling between your teeth? ;)
Please, I beg you. Don't go around today professing that everything is hunky-dory when, in reality, you would like nothing more than to receive a bouquet of flowers from some gorgeous hunk standing at your door. Or at the very least, an "anonymous" (but-not-really-anonymous-because-that-would-be-super-creepy) Valentine with an invite to coffee!
Please. You give Christianity a bad name. Why? Because when the world looks at us they should NOT see some hyper-spiritual, holier-than-thou, have-it-all-together superwoman. You know what they should see? Brokenness. Humility. Admittance to the fact that maybe we don't have it all together. That God is so much bigger than our problems, He is able to overcome them for us. That is our testimony. It's a little hard to overcome something that doesn't "exist" in the first place… ;)
It's ironic, isn't it? Here we are pretending to have our little lives all ship-shape and Bristol fashion…and yet we completely eliminate any opportunity for God to work through us.
So, dear sister in Christ, I ask you: what good is your "Son-shiny," Christian life if it is does not lay open to exposure your specific areas of weakness? Insufficiency. Suffering. Is not order in the midst of chaos a greater testimony to the work of its author than order in and of itself?
I'm not saying we should throw up our hands today and wail for our lack of boyfriends. ;) All I am asking is that we stop pretending we're more spiritual than we really are.
And if you're on the flip side of the coin and can't sleep at night for thinking when/if/how/where you're going to find a relationship, I'd encourage you…find your identity before you waste it on someone else. God has so much more in store for you than butterflies and roses. A life that is brimming full of adventure and opportunities that you can't possibly imagine. You're in the garden. There's an entire forest out there just waiting to be discovered! And it's not so bad, really, to be independent. ;) Trust me.
I really hope this post has, if nothing else, brought some awareness to the fact that Christians are a little afraid of appearing weak. Okay, a lot afraid. And there's nothing wrong with that, per se. The problem is when we put expectations on ourselves (and each other) that even God didn't intend for us to carry.
So let's not waste today. Send Valentine's to your friends. Eat some chocolate. Enjoy the flowers from your dad/brothers. And watch Mr. Darcy sweep Elizabeth off her feet. But all the while you're watching them banter, as you watch their lips pucker up for that oh-so proper, English kiss, I want you to say to yourself, "Someday, that's going to be me." 
And I guarantee, the Lord will be looking down from Heaven and smiling, "Beloved, I make all things beautiful…in My time."
In the meantime, enjoy this video, which I think encapsulates the general sentiment towards February 14th. ;) XOXOXOXOXO 

Friday, February 1, 2013

From Star Wars to Merry-Go-Rounds!

Hanging out at Knott's Berry Farm's last week.
Lucia and I have been friends since 5th grade...To this day, I'm not exactly sure what brought us together (actually I do--it was God!), but one of the things I distinctly remember was our fanatical obsession Star Wars. lol What can I say? When you're a lonely Jr. Higher almost any commonality is enough to throw you together! That, and this girl just happens to be an amazing person! ;)
 Two costumed versions of Padame Amidala for Halloween. ;) We made the burgandy dress out of something in my closet. Pretty impressive for two twelve year olds!

 That was the same year I broke my ankle and had to walk around in an ugly black cast. ;( Can you tell me and my brothers were slightly Star Wars crazy? Nick (middle left) is Boba Fett and Joe is Anakin Skywalker.
 Goofin' off even back then...
Yeah. Who do you think begged their parents to take the them to the Star Wars exhibit in LA?
Check out how much we've matured since then? lol ;)
Balking at the idea of riding...a kid's ride? ;) Such a great sport, even when I drag you (quite literally) onto Big Foot Rapids! 
Ostriches all the way! 
 Havin' way more fun than a 19 year old should be allowed to have on a merry-go-round!
Kodak moment!
 The most expensive ice-cream on the planet...and half of it melted within ten minutes! ;) lol
Yes, the hole in my hand is the top of my ice cream! lol
And yes, I'm still a fan of Star Wars. But I've learned to appreciate the kindred spirits in my life more than galactic star ships! :) Thanks, girl, for a wonderful day and innumerable memories. ;)