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Good, Bad, and Ugly.

This weekend I’m planning to go to Abilene to visit friends and say goodbye before I move to California. It’s really strange going back to the campus where I spent so so so much time and where experienced more pain than joy. So why am I even going back? If ACU caused me so much pain and heartache, why bother? I suppose it’s because of my deep roots and the fact that I am an incurable optimist. Allow me to explain the deep roots part.

You see, nearly everyone in my family attended ACU. My parents and all their siblings, my brother, and my four cousins (2 girls on each side of the family). Of course, part of the pain of my time at ACU was the fact that my youngest cousin died suddenly and unexpectedly after her first semester at ACU, but I’ll come back to that. The point is that ACU is a family school for us. You might even say it’s a family tradition. And the fact that I tried so hard for 7 years but still didn’t graduate leaves me feeling like the family failure. If I’m being really, …

Breakthrough.

So, I’m at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan right now. It’s been a great conference, minus the freezing cold rain coming down today. I haven’t been able to go to nearly as many sessions as I hoped, mostly because I am worn out. But some of the sessions I have been to were practically life changing. I have gotten to hear new and different perspectives, beautiful and poignant poetry, and important perspectives from within and/or about the church. Despite my tiredness, it really has been great.

One of the greatest things has been meeting new people. I’m staying in a house with 19 other women from all around the country, only 2 of whom I knew before I got here. Yes, that’s right, there are 20 of us! In one house! Many of those women have become my fast friends. Last night we shared embarrassing stories and answered “get-to-know-you” questions. It’s been a blast.

But, even more than that, I can feel something inside of me changing. Not only do I…

Here’s to My (Nearly) Perfect Dog.

I’ve tried to write this post many times in the last four months but simply ended up crying (sometimes sobbing). You see, today marks four months since we had to put my sweet doggie to sleep. I am already tearing up thinking about that day and the days since.

Her name was Nugget. Nugget was my nearly perfect dog. She was a perfect fit for me. She was my ESA (Emotional Support Animal). She naturally knew how to comfort me during my anxiety and/or panic attacks. She was well-behaved, fun, and cuddly. I crate-trained her, but as she got older I allowed her to sleep in my bed with me quite often. On days when I was depressed and couldn’t seem to find the strength to get out bed, Nugget would either stay in bed with me through my dark sadness or encourage me to get up and get going.

She was my constant companion through five years of college. To me, she was a physical representation of God’s unfailing and unconditional love for me because that is how much she loved me. I loved her so very …

Good and Beautiful Community.

I was raised in Church. My parents became members of a church while my mother was pregnant with me. After they placed membership, I was born less than two weeks later...it might even be one week, I don't quite remember because I was, you know, a baby.

My parents are still members of that same church. It's a good church. I love it with a big chunk of my heart, and the people--while of course not perfect--are wonderful. It's not a perfect church, partially because there's no such thing, but also because it has its flaws. However, I'm not here today to talk about the flaws of the beautiful church of people I was raised within. Today I want to discuss something that my "home church" did really, really well: Community. Togetherness. Walking through life together. Welcoming people into that life together. And, sticking together through both the sunshine and the storms of life, all the while pointing one another back to God.

You see, I grew up attending only one…

College: A Dream Deferred.

I recently submitted this post as an article to be published, but it was denied. So, I'm posting it here, with a few additions and edits. 
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about mental health, it’s that illnesses are really just lists of symptoms. In the last 7 years, I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Anxiety. Some disorders and diseases overlap in symptoms. It’s not the label that defines you. But the symptoms? Sometimes they do define you, as much as you hate to admit it. This is the story of how my symptoms and several diagnoses slowly—from age 9 to 25—overcame my dream of graduating from college.
I had always dreamed of going to Abilene Christian University, the same school my parents, my brother, all my cousins, and even several of my aunts and uncles attended. It is a small school in West Texas that most people have never heard of, but to me, it was the only school. I grew up attending their Leadership Camps on campus since the summer after 3r…

Sacred Spaces.

I went to one of my sacred spaces last night. To you, it may sound like an ordinary place, or to some even a dumb place. To me though, this place is utterly sacred. Last night I went to a Switchfoot concert.

Allow me to explain...
I have been a big fan of Switchfoot since about 5th grade when I heard their first major single. I became a huge super-nerd-fan of Switchfoot when I finally saw them live for the first time on my 16th birthday. 
There was no turning back. 
I saw them again live for my 17th and 18th birthdays...actually, I've seen them almost every time they've come to Texas since my 16th birthday. So, I think I've been to between 8-10 of their concerts; I've literally lost track. It's a familiar place, but I've actually only seen them in the same venue twice. I've taken lots of different friends with me to these concerts, and at one time a friend and I were members of their official fan club, which meant we had special passes to meet them before o…

Public Private Letters, Part 7: Dear Evan.

Dear Evan,

You're a Soul Friend. It's kind of like a best friend, except you can have many more than just one. You're one of mine.

As I'm writing this, you're sitting across from me at Starbucks, getting started studying. You just finished telling me how stressed you are about a bunch of things. I'm here to tell you I believe in you! I always I have. I believe you can do it. You always do!

It's been such a joy to see you grow up over the last 6 years or so. From a camper on my first hall at camp to an almost-graduate of college, you've come a long way--and so have I (although it often feels like I'm stuck in the same place!). You've been a constant encouragement to me, even when you probably didn't realize it. I loved being your Big in club, but I honestly felt like you encouraged me more often than I encouraged you!

Here's a few memories I have of you and some ways you have impacted me that you may not be aware of, and I'm fairly c…