Victory in Jesus

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the car, my mind began to wonder. Sometimes when that happens it’s a good thing, a creative idea will come to me or I’ll remember something I had forgotten. Other times, when my thoughts drift off, they’ll jump onboard the “Fear/Anxiety Train.” Unfortunately, I was on my way to the plush cushioned seats of Worry.

So that’s where I was mentally.

As my eyes glanced at the radio, I noticed what song had started to play…”No Longer Slaves” by Bethel. Just to give you a quick preview, the chorus of this song says:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

Yeah, pretty awesome. I started to sing the words and the Spirit reminded me of something really awesome. Are y’all ready?

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us! Like, WHAT. I think many times we gloss over this, or don’t understand the actual meaning. But y’all, the power that raised our Savior from the grave? That brought him back to life? LIVES IN US.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you,” ~ Romans 8:11

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” ~ Acts 1:8

It made me feel so empowered! And I could feel my fear being washed away as I meditated on this thought. Life can be really hard, and once in a while it’s wise to remind ourselves of whose we are. Children of the Most High. Princes and princesses of the King of kings. Creations of the Bright and Morning Star. Co-heirs with Christ (aka God of the universe). Friend of God.

And because of that, we have the privilege of being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s Spirit, to those who believe, resides in us. We can live in the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection! We are truly free! In the life of Jesus, we have complete confidence of triumph. When we go through trials, struggles, pain, and suffering, let us remember that at the end of the day, in God, we are victorious! As Paul said, “perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Perhaps you fight battles that no one knows, save for yourself and our Lord. Maybe you’re struggling with something that you think no one can possibly understand. Or it could be that right now your life is going perfectly. Everything is coming together exactly as you thought it would, and you couldn’t be more excited! Whether or not you find yourself in a season of waiting or one of great joy, let us never forget that in our Savior, we are VICTORS. CONQUERS. OVERCOMERS. WARRIORS.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57

As we celebrate this fourth of July, remember where the true freedom lies. Between biting into a juicy hamburger and dipping your glistening silver spoon into a bowl of cold, soft ice cream, do not forget the high price that Jesus paid. When you watch the fireworks explode in beautiful displays of red, blue, and white, thank God for saving us from a lifetime of misery and sin. He set us free, and His freedom is the most valuable kind. Because even if the world goes to hell, the government crumbles, and everyone is in a panic, as Christians, we can still stand tall and say with confidence that we are free.

We know the truth and we have been delivered. Let us never forget the priceless gift of being a Child of God. We are free.

~ Southern Dreamer

Resting In God When The World Is Going Crazy

This past year, my senior year, I duel-enrolled at a local college. During my second semester, I took Bio 2 and found it fascinating (minus one section *ahem* parasites/bacteria/etc).

Anyway.

We were learning how everything on Earth is connected and how global warming is affecting it. Here’s the short spill on it – I promise you’ll be able to understand it and I’ll try my best to not spend several paragraphs on it 😉

Because of Earth warming, the Indian Ocean has been steadily warming as well. You’re probably thinking, “ok. so the ocean is a little bit warmer, what’s the big deal?” I’m glad you asked! XD

The increasing temperature of the Indian Ocean has caused the North Atlantic oscillation (aka two air masses) to become stuck on its “intense” cycle. The North Atlantic oscillation has never been completely calm, but there are usually periods or breaks where the intensity lets down and it is more docile. However, with the increasing temperatures that has not been happening.

north atlantic

It’s amazing how the entire world is so intricately connected. In Africa, there is a body of water called Lake Chad. Wikipedia says, “The United Nations Environment Programme and the Lake Chad Basin Commission concur that at least half of the lake’s decrease is attributable to shifting climate patterns.” As Lake Chad has dried up, the dust and dirt that was beneath the water has been exposed.

You can imagine what sorts of algae, fungi, and other gross things lie at the bottom of the lake. With the dust being out in the open, the pathogenic soil fungus it contains has been swept into the air from the Saharan and blown towards the Caribbean.

Interestingly, this dust has caused an ironic increase in pediatric asthma cases and coral sea fan disease. Which is obviously not good.

Now, I’m going to be honest. I kind of started to worry, because wow, how the heck are we supposed to fix all of this. ITS SO MUCH.

God, knowing this, led me to this verse.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” ~ Luke 21:25-28

WOW. Like, anyone else amazed??? I mean that’s literally what’s happening! And there it is, right in the Bible. It makes me feel so much better, to know that God knew this was going to happen. None of this is a surprise to him.

Thank you Jesus for that!

~ Southern Dreamer

Graduation

Wow. It happened.

What, you may be asking, happened? Well, my wonderful readers and dreamers, the author of this blog has officially graduated from high school (for the sake of my sanity, we’re going to ignore the fact that I still have a few weeks left of school).

Yep. Eighteen years in the making and here I am.

I don’t think the fact that I’m graduating really hit me until I was standing in the church, with my peers. We all looked at each as if to say right. this is really here. this isn’t some idea in our heads anymore. we’re graduating.

Not going to lie, when the entire notion of you being DONE with your childhood, officially considered an adult by the entire world hits you…it’s a bit terrifying.

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So, when Griffin suggested that we all skip our graduation and go and get milkshakes instead…It was a terribly tempting proposition. Especially considering the fact that we had to give speeches, and anyone who knows me, knows that I abhor speaking in front of people.

Then, we all had a mid-panic, because did we just miss the music cue. Are we supposed to go in now? Later? Has it started? And because I was first, if I missed the cue, everyone else would be off.

No pressure XD

Thankfully, someone told us when to go (bless her!), and off I went down the aisle. I wore my white graduation gown and cap, with gold tassels and fringes. Wearing my two inch white wedge heels – I’m not the most coordinated person anyway, and so I thought it would be wise to steer clear of too-high shoes, I walked up the steps and took my place.

Once all five of us were on the stage, Mrs. Kim came up to speak. For those of you who don’t know her, she is a wonderful and precious lady. She was so gracious in allowing me to be a part of CHAT (homeschool co-op), even though I was not able to make the third class because of previous school scheduling. Shoutout to her for that, and for creating an amazing and intimate ceremony for the seniors! You’re the best! 🙂

Both Chelsea and Haley’s dads prayed, with the later speaking. They both did an amazing job.

For the ceremony, a video with a song and pictures of the graduate had to be created. They played each video, and after one was done…the graduate had to speak.

Deep breath.

With my notecards in hand – let’s be real, there was no way I was going to speak from memory, I stood and went to the podium. It was not quite as terrifying as I had imagined, though I certainly was relieved to be done! 😉

Miyah, who looked fabulous, walked up the steps and took the microphone. She sang Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman. I love that song, and she did an incredible job!

Then came time for my parents to take the stage, speak, and hand me my diploma. My mom held the diploma, while my dad took the microphone. He gave a great speech, although I suppose I’m slightly biased since it was about me xD, and was about to close when my mom interjected. In a characteristic fashion, my mom spontaneously decided that she needed to say something too. So, she did.

It’s funny standing there and having someone say so many nice things about you, even if it is your family. Like, I’m not sure I deserve all of this.

But, ONWARDS! They handed me my diploma, and the ceremony continued.

Mrs. Kim gave each of us, as graduates, a new Bible. Thank you Mrs. Kim, I will treasure it always! This is also a good point to make an important note: THANK YOU LORD FOR BRINGING ME THIS FAR. Eighteen years!

We turned our tassels, pictures were taken, and then came the time for us to exit the stage…as the official CHAT graduating class of 2017!

Once the rain had paused, we all took advantage of the break in weather and rushed outside for the throwing of the caps. The first try was a…fail. We all threw ours up at different times. Time for take two! THIS TIME, we laughingly requested a countdown. There were about eight different cameras going on at once, so I’m pretty sure we must have gotten a good picture out of one of those! xD

I’m going to be honest y’all. High School Musical was my childhood, and there was a large part of me that totally wanted to break out in that graduation number. Who’s with me? 😉

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All in all, it was a wonderful ceremony. Thank you to Mrs Kim for putting it together, you did an incredible job! Thank you to everyone who came and helped me get this far, and congrats to all of my peers who graduated as well! WE DID IT Y’ALL!

~ newly graduated, Southern Dreamer

Resurrected King ~ Part 2 of an Easter Story

***Author note: similar to biblical fiction, I am writing portions of this as if it were a novel to be read. I have pieced together how it could have occurred to the best of my ability. As far as I have researched, nothing I have taken the artistic liberty with, contradicts Scripture but please understand, that some parts I have had to assume or think of how it might have happened, in order for the writing to flow better. Take it with what you will, but obviously my writing is not the Word of God, only something written by a daughter of the King, trying to do His sacrifice justice***

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it,” ~ Matthew 28:2

Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James (*there very likely could have been others, but these are the specific names given in Scripture, across the four Gospels*) went to the tomb of Jesus. Their hearts were heavy and weighted with sorrow at everything that had occurred. With them, they had spices in order to finish the burial preparations, which had to be left undone because of the Sabbath.

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” questioned one, turning to look at her companions for an answer (Mark 16:3). However, they were as much at a loss for a solution as she. Even still, they continued on.

They walked towards the tomb, grieving and remembering all that Jesus said. Sweet-smelling flowers greeted them when they entered into the garden (John 19:41), bringing in an aroma of life and hope that was desperately needed. Since they had left before dawn (Luke 24:1), there was barely any light to guide their way, and as such, the women made sure to walk with caution. As they approached, an earthquake caused the ground to shake and tremor! (Matthew 28:2)

What can this mean? thought one of the women, wondering what a second earthquake in only three days could signify.

And as the earthquake occurred, an “angel of the Lord descended from heaven” and rolled back the stone! He had white clothing, shining brilliantly.

The guards were terrified, and in such a state of fear (surely, they thought, death is near!) that they, “became like dead men” (Matthew 28:4). An entire troop of Roman guards reduced to a lot of unconscious men!

Image result for women at the tomb of JesusEntering into the tomb, the women expected to see the body of Jesus. The small amount of light that was able to enter into the grave, allowed them to see something shocking. Linen cloths, used to wrap the body, were folded neatly – with the face cloth in a separate place from the others (John 20:6-7). His body was no longer there!

Outside the tomb, Mary Magdalene wept. And looking within the burial, she saw two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been.

“They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus,” ~ John 20:13-14

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” asked Jesus (John 20:15).

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Because of the early hour, it was difficult to see because the sun had not fully risen. Thinking him to be the gardener, because of the tomb’s location, Mary replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Saying this, she turned back towards the inside of the tomb, where an angel had begun to speak. Tears still splattered down her cheeks, grief very much real.

“Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Why do you seek the living among the dead? Come, see the place where he lay. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise,” said the angel (*taken from both Luke 24:5-7 and Matthew 28:5-6*).

Then, a single word caught her attention. Her name. “Mary.”

Turning back around, Mary realized that it was Jesus. Alive! Right before her! The last time she had seen him, he had been brutally whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Red had painted his skin in crimson. She had watched him die…and now, here he stood! “Rabboni!” (John 20:16)Image result for women at the tomb of Jesus

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17).

The other women came out of the tomb, minds racing with this information. Their hands shook in astonishment, bodies trembling from the magnitude of it all (Mark 16:8). In a mix of emotions, each woman was filled with both fear and great joy from all they had heard and experienced (Matthew 28:8).

As they came out, Jesus greeted them.

Eyes wide and some, if not all, filled with happy, overwhelming tears. They came closer, bowing and touching his feet in worship. Oh the joy! To see him again! How wonderful, how marvelous.

“Do not be afraid,” said Jesus, “go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

~~~

I love this. Out of anyone he could have chosen, Jesus picked women to be the first ones to see him risen from the dead, and as the designated messengers to his disciples. The true greatness of this can be more appreciated, when we realize that back then, the testimony of women as witnesses was not always believed. Yet, he still chose them.

As a young, Christian woman, I’m so thankful that portions like this are included in Scripture, because it shows one example of how Jesus saw men and women – equal. He treated their witness as concrete and sound as a male’s, and in that day and age, this was uncommon.

(and maybe a tiny part of it had to do with the fact that women love to talk and he knew they would spread the word) xD

 As I celebrate Easter, I remember everything that our Savior went through – the rejections, the beatings, the whippings, the guilt and shame though he was innocent…dying on a cross. It amazes me that someone would willingly choose to do that for me. Heck, I don’t think I would do that for me; it’s mind-blowing.

Literally, I cannot compute why Jesus would do that. His unconditional love is so unlike human relationships that I find myself unable to comprehend it, and yet, I am so, incredibly thankful for his sacrifice and grace.

Let us never forget the very real sacrifice that our Savior went through, and always celebrate the fact that on the third day, death was DEFEATED and Jesus Christ rose from the grave!

~ Southern Dreamer

Darkness Fell ~ Part 1 of an Easter Story

“Die he or justice must; unless for him some other able, and as willing, pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say heav’nly Powers, where shall we find such love, which of ye will be mortal to redeem Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save, dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton 

Who will step forward? Will someone sacrifice the glories and perfection of heaven for the broken and trying life on Earth?

“He asked, but all the heav’nly choir stood mute, and silence was in Heav’n; on man’s behalf patron or intercessor none appeared, much less that durst upon his own head draw the deadly forfeiture, and ransom set,” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

Silence. The golden streets and tree of life. Silence. The heralds of angels and beating wings. Silence. The majesty of the Creator and the magnificence of heaven’s shining buildings. Silence.

Silence can say so much more than words.

Would anyone step in? Would someone take man’s place?

“And now without redemption all mankind must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell by doom severe, had not the Son of God, in whom the fullness dwells of love divine, his dearest mediation thus renewed.

‘Father, thy word is passed, man shall find grace; and shall grace not find means, that finds her way, the speediest of thy winged messengers, to visit all thy creatures, and to all comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought, happy for man, so coming; he her aid can never seek, once dead in sins and lost; atonement for himself or offering meet, indebted and undone, hath none to bring: Behold me then, me for him, life for life I offer, on me let thine anger fall; account me man; I for his sake will leave thy bosom, and this glory next to thee freely put off, and for him lastly die well pleased, on me let Death wreak all his rage; under his gloomy power I shall not long lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess life in myself forever, by thee I love, though now to Death I yield, and am his due,'” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

All heaven silent, until the Son of God spoke. All mankind lost, until this moment.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” ~ Luke 2:11

He, who had come from heaven: perfect, beautiful, joyful, now came to Earth – to be among his creation, to do what no one else could.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” ~ Hebrew 4:15

Instead of a throne, he sat on the dusty, dirty ground. Insects crawling beneath; an ant biting him. Instead of a crown and robes of splendor, he wore the simple clothing of a carpenter. Blisters on his hands from working with wood; a splinter finding its way into his skin. Instead of angels singing praises hour after hour, he endured the ridicule of bullies. Name-calling, excluding him from activities, causing a bleeding cheek or egg-sized knot on his head. Instead of perfection, he came to the broken world. Temptation rearing its ugly head and the battle not to give in.

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“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

He had friends, family. Perhaps, he had a particular pet growing up that he was fond of. Maybe a sheep that would sneak into the house when it was not supposed to, or a baby chick that cuddled up by his bedside. He celebrated holidays with feasts and great fun. He experienced the growing up pains of being a teenager; the temptation though he did not sin.

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33 years.

And then, came the end of an old world and the beginning of a marvelous grace-filled one where death is defeated.

Let’s back-track though.

The arrest of Jesus.

“Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples,” ~ John 18:2

This one sentence has so much information. We learn two key pieces of information about his arrest, that make it so much more painful. The obvious one is that Judas – someone he had taught, ate with, and spent many hours conversing about various things – betrayed him. Secondly, let’s go back to this…”for Jesus often met there with his disciples.”

Putting it in our terms, this was their “hang-out” place. The spot they went to when they wanted to talk, escape the crowds, just be friends. So I don’t think it is too overly assuming to say that this location probably had a special meaning.

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground,” ~ Luke 22:41-44

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I’m not sure if it’s because only Luke records it, or if I’ve just never noticed it in the other Gospels before, but I find it so interesting that it says, “and there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” I wonder what this entailed. Did the angel encourage him in words? Remind him of the good that would come after? Give him something to eat or drink?

I think it is noteworthy to point out, that though the angel strengthened him…his pain did not go away. Right after, it says, “and being in agony.”

Yes, Jesus was strengthened, but his “cup” was not taken away. The struggle, the apprehension of what was to come did not leave. As the verse concludes, it becomes clear that he is under a tremendous amount of anxiousness. There is an actual, medical condition where one is under so much stress and anxiety that sweat and blood mix, creating, as Luke wrote, “like great drops of blood.”

There would still be more to come. Trials. Betrayals. Beatings – horrible, gruesome whips that came upon him again and again. Thorns – a mockery by them, shoving a crown of nature’s needles onto his head…blood pooling out. Humiliation – casting lots for his clothing, doing everything to try and destroy his dignity. Pain.

The nails. The cross. Dying the worst and most degraded form of death that could be done. How amazing of a Savior we have! I cannot compute this kind of love – unconditional, perfect, encompassing. Even as I write this, it blows my mind that someone would willingly choose to go through the most undesirable form of suffering for me.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” ~ 1 Peter 2:24

Guilt. Though Jesus had done no wrong, he took the weight of our sins. Can you imagine? All of history. All of humanity. Every person that has and ever will live. That feeling, that sense of shame and guilt that comes with sin, he felt. Him, who knew no sin and lived a perfect life, experienced the ramifications of sin. The consequences, though he was innocent.

Imagine the worst crime you can think of – murder, rape. And then picture yourself having to feel the guilt and shame for doing that, though you did not.

Horrible.

In every way, the sacrifice of Jesus was brutal. It was emotionally taxing – friends betraying him, mentally draining – enduring the verbal assault, physically sapping – the most horrific, pain and death, and spiritually exhausting – when God turned his face.

Let’s go back to that place, that hour.

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It is the middle of the day; there are three crosses. Because it is the Passover, travelers are passing by and witnessing this dismal sight. There are soldiers, who prolonged his suffering by giving him wine vinegar. There is his family, weeping and in anguish over what has been done to him.

12:00pm. Noon.

Instant darkness. The light from the day vanished and inky blackness took its place. There was no electricity, and no backup generators. Perhaps someone found a candle, though I doubt they had one close by. Who would have thought it would be needed at midday?

The hours ticked by, time moving slowly. Seconds turned into minutes, seeming to stretch into infinity. What had happened? Why was it pitch black at noon? Would the light return?

3pm.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit,” ~ Matthew 27:50

The curtain of the temple stood sixty feet high and thirty feet wide. It separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, that only the high priest was allowed to enter once a year. At this moment, this instant it was torn in two. The separation between God and humanity had been breached.

The ground rumbled – an earthquake. Rocks were broken, split into pieces. The tombs opened up and the “bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:52).

Jesus had died.

***will post second part tomorrow on Easter***

The Battle Is Not Yours

“And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s,” ~ 2 Chronicles 20:15

Back at the end of January, I was reading a book series. The writing is really well-done and I thought the characters were wonderful, but last night I hit my limit.

It started to talk about stuff that I found too scary, and I tried to push through it because I’m curious and a reader and therefore, wanted to know what would happen. But I started to worry I would have nightmares about it (see blog post about my illness here, but basically horrific dreams come with it, so sometimes frightening things can “trigger” those memories).

So I ended up crying.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not a crier – it’s just not really my personality type to be overly emotional. However, I was just so scared that I was going to have nightmares and frustrated to be worried about ANOTHER thing.

blog39I feel like I’ve been fighting my whole life, and in all honesty, I’m just tired of fighting. Well, at some point after this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Exodus 14:14.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” ~ Exodus 14:14

This was really neat, because I was so tired of fighting, and…I had/have not memorized this verse.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” ~ John 14:26

I think sometimes we, as humans, get this ‘I have to do everything by myself’ attitude. We fall into the subconscious trap of not asking for help, not relying on someone, and often – at least for me – forgetting to even ask God for his help. I know I can go for so long, “battling” something, and not even remember oh, I should pray about this and go to God for help, until I’m completely exhausted and anxious.

Could this be why Psalm 23 and 46 both talk about being still?

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” ~ Psalm 23:1-3a

“Be still, and know that I am God,” ~ Psalm 46:10

I can picture God, as our Father, looking at us and being like, ‘if you will just be still in me and rest – I’ve got this.’

But of course, being our over-working, independent, forget-to-ask-for-help-selves, we run around trying to do it all on our own while our Father is waiting for us to release these burdens to Him, and let Him handle them.

As I finish writing this (I’ve written it scattered over several weeks), I find myself in that weary state again. For being a logical person, you would think that I would struggle with anxiety less. But my OCD brain loves to find silly things to attach itself to and worry on, and it can be exhausting. Maybe it’s because I had some intense anxiety and worries over the past few days and that’s all adding up to me struggling with anxiousness today. I’m not really sure.

Maybe it’s because I’m more tired today, and that exhaustion isn’t helping my mind to think clearly. I’m not going to say that I have found an all-perfect solution to this, as evidenced by this day, but I have to remind myself that even if it feels like it’s never going away, it will.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” ~ John 14:27

I love this verse. Fear and anxiety tend to zap any peace we have, and I think it’s so interesting that He says “let not your hearts be troubled.” Often, the heart is associated with emotions, and anxiety tends to send those all out of whack. I don’t know about you, but for me, I find the mental battles are much harder to fight than the physical ones.

For those of you, as well as myself, who struggle with anxiety or are at that place where you are just tired and weary of fighting, let’s remember that the battle is not ours. We are not meant to fight alone, we have a Savior who is more than willing to come beside us and strengthen us during these times. I know I forget this, and then it’s like oh right. God is here to help me, I’m not supposed to do this by myself. Sometimes, maybe, it might invoke an emotional response 😉 (shhh, don’t tell).

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As we continue through our days, let’s remember that and determine to not let anxiousness steal our joy.

~ Southern Dreamer

Text Tag Game

My awesome classmate, Grace Anne (check out her blog here), nominated me for this tag!

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them
  2. Answer the original 6 text-related questions
  3. Add a typography/word related question of your own for those that you tagged to answer
  4. Tag 6+ bloggers and notify them
  5. Include the rules in the post

The Questions!

  1. What is your favorite letter of the alphabet?

Hmmm, I’ll go with ‘L.’ You can make it really pretty and swirly with calligraphy/lettering and such, plus it’s the first letter of my name xD

2. What are three words you love?

Right now, I really like the word delighted/delightful/pretty much any version of delight. I think it’s such a pleasant, adorable word that’s not used enough – although, maybe that’s why I like it. I also love the words scrumptious and glint.

3. What are three words you hate?

Dang. I don’t know if I really hate any words lol. I’m a writer, so words are kind of a writer’s thing haha 😛 I do think, though, that the word “love” is overused and has lost some of it’s meaning.

4. If you could create a word, what would it be and what would it describe?

Lillica ~ the love between friends. I feel like this would clear up a lot of confusion xD Plus, then the actual word “love” would regain some of its meaning.

5. What are your three favorite punctuation marks?

The exclamation (!), dash (-), and the curly symbol (~) if those last two count haha.

6. What are your three favorite fonts?

Times New Roman, French Script MT, and not sure if this counts, but probably italics.

7. Grace Anne’s question, favorite adjective or descriptive word?

Oo that’s a hard one! There are so many beautiful words! Right now, I think I’ll go with ardently – a classic, romantic adjective.

My question: do you prefer using the bold font or italics?

I tag Gianna, Ally, and Cherri. Have fun! 🙂

My Story

Slothilda Sloth ProcrastinationWell, this is probably waaaayyyyyy overdue.

XD A little procrastination gif for all my fellow procrastinators out there 😉 But, getting down to what this post is really about…my story. More of my testimony really. Feel free to grab a coffee or chocolate chip M&M cookies *coughnotthatI’vebeeneatinganycough* and read on.

Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve always believed in God. But it wasn’t until 2005 that my relationship with Jesus went to a completely different level. We were still living in Florence, Alabama then.

My parents had started to realize that something was wrong when I began to fall asleep at random times during the day, collapse during laughter or when experiencing excitement, and being unable to make it through school hours without going to sleep multiple times. My mom believed that I had narcolepsy, but I was six years old. Children “that young” did not get narcolepsy – or that is what everyone said.

When I went for my PSG, they said all I'd have to do was show up and sleep. Little did I know...: Yet, there were really only two choices: a brain tumor or narcolepsy. I went through multiple tests including blood tests, a MRI, EEGs, and an EKG. Once I was diagnosed, I had to go through additional sleep studies at University of Alabama at Birmingham. I spent a lot of time there during the next few years that included two more sleep studies. My world was suddenly changed and I had no control or understanding to stop it.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder, falling into the hyper-immune system illnesses. It results when for unknown reasons, the body attacks the cells that create hypocretin, which is a chemical that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Unlike many other cells, it does not reproduce – when it is gone, it is gone. I could not sleep through the night – only an hour at a time at the most, during the day I would fall asleep numerous times, and could never again go into deep sleep.

Cataplexy is a common side-effect of narcolepsy, though depending on the severity of a person’s narcolepsy, they may or may not have it. I happen to have one of the more severe cases, and as such, have cataplexy. Everyone has this naturally. Normally, when people dream their body goes into a natural state of paralysis to keep them from acting out their dreams. Because my sleep-wake cycle is so disrupted, my body thinks that I am dreaming whenever I laugh or experience excitement. This means that when that happens, my body goes into a state of temporary paralysis or muscular weakness. It looks similar to a seizure, but is very different in that the person experiencing it is completely alert to what is happening, and it usually ends in seconds or a few minutes.

During the first three years, my cataplexy was extremely severe. If I just had the thought – ‘I want to run’ – and would get excited, I would instantly fall to the ground. If I laughed just a little, the same thing would happen. To me, the worst were the nightmares. Narcoleptics, because of how disrupted our sleep-wake cycle is, instantly drop into dream state. Our bodies do not have time to gradually enter into dream state; it is instant. And this causes horrible nightmares. I would wake up terrified to go back to sleep for fear of dreaming again. These were not ‘I lost my homework, my dog died, or I fell off a cliff’ dreams. Mine night terrors. I was often aware that I was dreaming in my dreams. I remember as young as eight years old repeating every name of Jesus I could possibly think, while dreaming. And when I finally said it verbally – spoke His name – I would wake up. It never failed. His name has power, and should not be underestimated.

My entire life and the life of my family changed when I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy. We all grew closer. I have a schedule for everything, every three to four hours I have to rest. My brother and I are best friends. I take medication during the day and at night. It’s better than when I first got diagnosed and as a seventeen-year-old I have learned to manage it the best I can. I have learned how to focus on the things I can do versus the things I do not have the energy to accomplish. I have grown to understand that having a medical challenge can be difficult for others to understand and embrace therefore I have concluded that the best way to reduce misperceptions is through communication and kindness.

Sometimes people do not realize the unseen disabilities or disorders. Often, it is not apparent of what I have to do just to do the normal things. Naps and rests are not always guaranteed to be fantastic, sometimes if I’ve been awake too long, I’ll immediately drop into dream state, have dreams, wake up, try to go back to sleep, and the cycle can continue. It can be frustrating to always have to take naps, not be able to do such and such things that others can do. The emotional and mental side can be difficult as well. Because narcolepsy is a sleep disorder, we do not get the sufficient amount of sleep needed. Sleep-deprivation can make anxiety or other stressful emotions feel stronger/worse.

Even though this disease can present many frustrations, I would not change it. Through narcolepsy and cataplexy, I was put into a place of forced trust with the Lord. I had to rely on Him. It was not an ‘if I want to’ or ‘when I will,’ I had to. One time my mom asked me, if they had a cure for narcolepsy would I take it, and honestly, I don’t know. I’m almost afraid of what my relationship with God would be like without it. Truthfully, I do not think that I would rely on Him as much. I wish I could say that without narcolepsy I would rely and trust the Lord just as much, but I don’t think I can.

Jesus has shown himself to me in ways that I would probably have not experienced without receiving this disease. He has met me at my weakest, even in my anger, and shown Himself to me in grace, love, and truth. There have been times when I have cried silently at night, or been terrified that I would have nightmares going to sleep. When you are put into a place where you have to rely on God to get through the day, have to seek Him out, it changes you. Through this disease, Jesus has strengthened my faith and trust in Him. While it definitely has it’s negatives, I believe that God has used what many people would see as something terrible – being diagnosed at six years old, not knowing anyone else with your disease until almost ten years later, having an incurable illness – and used it for good. Even though this probably sounds weird, I’m grateful to Jesus for how He has given this to me and walked with me through it.

Often, it can be hard for me to understand how people completely abandon their faith when hard times strike. I can understand and sympathize with being angry, frustrated, and utterly confused as to why something happens, yet, it’s difficult for me to grasp someone just…giving up on their faith. I guess it’s because no matter how furious, weary, and whatever else I may be feeling, the truth is, I need God too much to just say “screw it.”

I know a lot of people say that God can take the worst thing in your life, and make it something wonderful. And it can start sounding old, like, ok getting sick of the ‘church’ answer. But it’s true. Jesus can redeem anything to become something beautiful. You just have to be willing to stick with your faith, wrestle it out with God. Ask questions – Jesus isn’t afraid of them.

~ Southern Dreamer

P.S. March 11 is Narcolepsy Awareness Day, please spread the word so we can bring more awareness to this illness 🙂

 

My Thoughts

As some of you have likely heard, in the new live-action Beauty and the Beast, they are going to have a clearly gay character: Le Fou.

I had seen a link about it earlier, but did not think much of it. They would not do that to such a classic, well-loved story – and one for children no less. In my mind, I thought it was probably only some media station that was being overly dramatic and secular as usual.

Well, it was not. My dad showed me the article only moments ago, as I’m writing this.

I never cry, yet here I am shedding tears over it. Maybe it’s the feeling of betrayal – of someone taking something you have loved and turning it into the very opposite. Perhaps it is the fact that they have been entrusted with such a sacred character and film, and…done this – this with it? I know I should not be surprised. I know that Disney is a secular company. I know all these things; I even had figured that they would likely have a gay couple in Star Wars – however much I disagree with it. And still, I find myself feeling blindsided.

Maybe it is because everyone who has grown-up watching the animated version and identifying themselves with Belle, feels like in a way, this is their movie, their story. A classic. And you expect when someone undertakes a remaking, for them to do justice to the original, and to have them do this?

If you want to have a gay character in a children’s movie, that’s your choice. But to ruin a classic? To change what was already made? What people already loved? If they wanted to introduce a gay character, which I would prefer them not to of course, this was not the way to do it.

Perhaps it’s the sin of it all that grieves me. It angers me that sweet, innocent children may watch this new movie and see whatever scene this is, and become confused. Confused that if they have a friend of the same sex, does that mean they’re gay? If they think a person of the same gender is handsome/pretty, does that mean they’re gay? How saddening, for people to believe the answer to these questions is yes (Author note: These are my opinions and thoughts, you are welcome to disagree; I am not looking to debate anyone about this. Also, I am not going to get into the whole logistics/biblical context/etc of someone being gay right now).

Honestly, I am not even sure why I’m writing this. I guess I thought that if I wrote my thoughts down, maybe it would help me process them. Regarding the movie as a whole, I am truthfully not even sure I will be going to see it in theatre. This news has really depressed me. They have taken my favorite Disney princess – heroine, my favorite animated classic, and added something that is not in the original. And that I certainly do not agree with.

~ saddened, Southern Dreamer

And Everything Was Still

“Be still and know that I am God,” ~ Psalm 46:10

Know: be convinced or certain of, have understanding of, perceive directly, have knowledge of.

Still: free from noise or turbulence, devoid of or abstaining from motion.

Last December (I know…a long time ago, but I’m a senior so 😉 ), I felt God reminding me of this verse. I’ve never really fully understood it; I’ve always thought of it as being really serious. But I think that the Holy Spirit revealed to me, at least, part of what it means.

“I am God…”

I am…LOVE: an assurance of affection, unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the Cutest thing I have ever seen: good of another, warm attachment/enthusiasm/devotion, strong affection for another.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” ~ Romans 5:8

I am…PEACE: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, a state of tranquility or quiet, a state of security.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” ~ John 14:27

I am…GRACE: a special favor, unmerited divine assistance, a state of sanctification Easter Sessions with a lamb and cross, in a beautiful field of wildflowers! www.expressionsbybrandy.com: enjoyed through divine grace.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” ~ Hebrews 4:16

I am…COMPASSION: sympathetic consciousness of others distress, together with a desire to alleviate it.

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things,” ~ Mark 6:34

I am…HOPE: to expect with confidence, trust, to cherish a desire with anticipation.I remember days like these, young and at my Grams. Such cherished memories of how magical I remember my childhood. Children are such blessings. And their lil voices have so much to offer ☀️                                                                                                                                                     More:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11

I wrote out these definitions to remind myself, yes God is holy, but He is also our father…daddy. And sometimes, or most of the time, I forget that and struggle with thinking that God is out to punish me.

1 John 4:18 addresses this. For all my fellow perfectionists out there, this is a good verse to remember 🙂

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love,” ~ 1 John 4:18

So when God says, “be still and know that I am God,” I do not think He is only referring to the literal meaning. I think this is also referring to being still, resting and soaking in God’s love, grace, and compassion.

God is righteous and holy and omniscient, but He is also our father, dad. And like any good parent, He does not want us to fear Him. We should have a respectful “fear,” of course, in the sense that He is God and it would be foolish and idiotic to mock, test, etc…Him.

JESUS on Pinterest | Greg Olsen, Son Of God and Pictures Of Jesus: With that said, we do not have to fear the Lord. Using the verse again from under the definition of grace, it says:

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” ~ Hebrews 4:16

With confidence. Not terrified or worried about coming to God. He says that we can come to Him with confidence.

Confidence is, “the quality or state of being certain, a communication made in confidence, a relation of trust of intimacy.”

The next time you and I begin to fear punishment from God, I hope we can remember His great love and the invitation to come to Him with confidence.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: The definitions for love, peace, grace, hope, and compassion along with confidence, came from Merriam-Webster.