June 23rd, 2016

Four years. Four years since I hated everything about myself. Four years since every activity of every day was a struggle: getting out of bed, having friends, eating… Four years since I bottled up my depression. Four years since I put on a mask every single day.
Four years since I did not have a will to live, I did not wait to exist, I gave up. Four years… Exactly four years ago today since I attempted suicide.
Four years since God bursted through the gaping holes of my fragile heart and reminded me that my story was not over.
Four years since I have self-harmed. Four years since there were twenty-two scars on my arm. Twenty-two reminders of who I was, who I did not want to be again, but who I needed to remember.
Four years since the start of a new beginning.
Now there are only nine visible scars on my arm. Nine reminders that healing process is a slow process, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Nine reminders that God truly is the Good Shepherd. He cares for us. He desires a relationship with us. He loves us. He has a purpose for us. I would not be writing this to you if He had not spoken to the depths of my soul.
I am not writing this to receive pity or apologies. Suffering is a part of this life. It was a part of a dark season of my life: a season where I strayed for from God that was full of heartache, anger, and pain.
I am writing to tell you that it gets better. I am writing to tell you that you matter, you are loved, and your life is valuable. If you are struggling, please know that God is with you… that if you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, God is there in the darkness, the trials, the sicknesses. I am writing to tell you to put down the razor blades, put down the pills, do not listen to mean comments… You are more than the scars, the trials… Your life is more. I am writing to tell you that the healing process is hard… but it is so worth it. Because you are worth it.
Do not listen to Satan’s lies. They are all lies. You are important.
I am slowly realizing my outer beauty does not have to be extravagant. I do not have to impress this world… because it is not my home. I need to work on my inner self: my heart, my soul. God is working within me. For four years, I have been struggling, working, running the race towards my recovery. It has been a long process. It has been so beautiful though. God has allowed me to see beauty in the ugly moments. He took my brokenness and made it beautiful.
Whatever your struggle is, I am praying for you. I am praying that you realize how valuable you are. If you do not think anyone could love you, know that I was once in your shoes. But I love you. Christ loves you. Allow Love to seep into the cracks and crevices of your brokenness.
Knowing I am loved is why I am still breathing four years later. When I say God is good, I mean it. He is so good. He waited for me, His prodigal daughter, to come home four years ago. I am home, and I have never felt so loved.
This is my story.
This is my song.
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Come home, prodigal child. The Father is waiting with arms wide open.
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” -John 16:22
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.” -Romans 8:16-18
“And he rose and came to his father. But while he was still a long was off, his father saw him and felt compassion and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he is lost and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” -Luke 15:20-24
“For sin will have no dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace.” – Romans 6:14
“You will lift my head above the mighty waves / You are able to keep me from stumbling / And in my weakness / You are the strength that comes from within / Good Shepherd of my soul / Take my hand and lead me on” -Shepherd by Amanda Cook

Italy: Update #1

Well, everyone. Here is another post from yours truly.

I am currently in Verona, Italy!
When I say that Rome is beautiful, I mean it! The historical aspect is so amazing. When you walk through the streets, you are completely immersed in culture. While we were there, we were able to tour and spend time walking and enjoying the city. It was awesome. It really helped me connected with the people (my new friends!) I will be staying with for the entire time I will be in Italy.
But… Nothing can compare to Verona. It is possibly the most beautiful city I have ever seen. We were able to go to a lookout point and view the city. It. Was. Breathtaking. I was literally speechless. I could not put into words just how beautiful it is.
Speaking of words, I have learned a few words/phrases in Italian, and thank God I took Spanish! It is very similar. (At least I know how to ask where the bathroom is…) I have a few apps on my phone and friends helping me along the way. It is so awesome to come here, know nothing, and slowly learn how to communicate with others!
Later, we went to the site we will be teaching the English camp at with the non-profit, Ultimate Xchange, and it made me so excited! I cannot wait to meet these kids! It is going to be so awesome, and I am so excited to see what God has in store for a small girl from Tennessee.
I ask that you would pray for me, for my heart, for my team, and for their hearts. These next few weeks are going to be rough, but super fun. I ask that you pray that even when we are tired we remember God’s grace. I ask that you pray and ask God to remind us that even when we are discouraged we do not lose heart… that we remember we have a faithful God who brought us here for a reason.
While typing this, I am reminded of:
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:30-31 
(Please, pray that we are reminded of this daily!!)
I cannot wait to update you all on this camp. I know it’ll be hard, but it’ll be SO fun and SO worth it! I will try to update frequently with posts, blogs, and pictures. Thank you all for your continuous prayers. You have no idea how much it means to me.
Buonanotte da Italia!

New Season

Around a year ago, I started reading in Ephesians. Chapter by chapter, I have slowly inched my way through the New Testament. Today, I finished Galatians: completing my first and full NT reading.

I began this journey in a season of life where I wanted to know God more. Through this season, God has taught me so much about His faithfulness, how to trust in Him, and about what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.

What a hard and beautiful journey it has been.

In four days, I will be stepping on a plane to head to Italy for the next six weeks of my life. It is the start of a whole new season, a whole new journey, in my life.

I do not know what this new journey will be like, and I am nervous. But… I know that God is with me through every step. I know that He is faithful in every season of life.

I pray whatever season of life you are in, whether it’s a testing season, a stagnant season, or a fulfilling season, that God is with you. I pray that you use this season, and every season, to praise Him! If you are tired, if you feel like you can’t go on, just know that in God’s presence, He can fill your cup back up. Immerse yourself into God’s Word. Even in the hard times, I have never felt more full than in the presence of God while I am reading His Word. I pray He is teaching you all something incredible. John Piper once wrote, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be only aware of three of them.” So even when you feel like God isn’t doing anything in your life, He is!

“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” -Galatians 6:9-10

Do not grow weary! Keep living, keep growing, and keep fighting that you may immerse yourself in Christ and that the gospel may go forth.

I am praising God for this new season of life. I can’t wait to share it with each and every one of you.

I love you all!