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Adulthood 101 {On Hope}.

“Adulting” is still new to me.

It’s been over a year since I graduated from Baylor, and I feel just as much of a child today as I did on Dec. 19, 2015 when I walked the stage.

I remember feeling proud as I shook President Starr’s hand. I remember feeling confident strutting across the stage in front of my peers, professors and parents.

But I also felt fear. Fear that I would not succeed, that my future days would only pale in comparison to the past at Baylor.

And I also felt hope. Hope that the God who crafted my past would also beautifully orchestrate my future.

my hope from yesteryear carries me into all of my tomorrows.

I felt proud and confident and afraid and hopeful in Nashville. I felt on top of the world, it was like the stars finally aligned and I found a real home away from home.

But when I came back to Dallas and I was diagnosed, I didn’t feel hope at all. I really thought my life was over. I couldn’t dream. I couldn’t plan. I could just sit and pray that the suffering would go away.

Even when I had no hope, God rushed in. He said, “I’ve got this. I’ve got you. Just be.”

So I just was. I slept through the night, woke up, showered, laid around, ate, fell asleep. Rinse and repeat.

At some point, in between being diagnosed and feeling like myself again, His Hope was reintroduced to my heart. And God proved to me that His Hope truly reigns over every circumstance, every doubt, every sorrow.

so it’s a year later and i’m still trying to adult.

Granted, I live at home. So it’s a bit different for me. But I still wash my clothes and pack my own lunch. I recently learned you’re supposed to wash your sheets every two weeks, so yeah…I’ve been doing that wrong since college.

I still plan out my finances and do my best not to spend all of my money on coffee & concerts–it’s hard. I still try not to sell my soul to the corporate world by spending time with friends and even getting out of the Big D every now and then.

Adulting really isn’t so bad.

God starts us off as children for a reason. He wants us to be pure and innocent, to be full of energy and curiousity. He calls us His Children, His heirs, His own.

But He also wants us to grow, to mature. To dive deep into our faith, to become head over heels for Him. He expects us to fall more in love with Him as we continue our relationship.

He prepares us, He nurtures us. He does not leave us alone at any point in our lifetime, and especially not when we enter into adulthood or experience trouble.

So, fellow emerging adults, I say this to you:

You will be fine.

You might spend too much money on tacos. And yeah, maybe you haven’t washed your sheets in a few weeks. You call your mother every day. And you’re thinking about leaving the country.

But don’t worry, because you’ve totally got this, because God’s totally got you. You are not an island. Surround yourself with people who shine His Light and show His Love. Surround yourself with people who you aspire to be like, people of all backgrounds and ages.

And just do it.

Show how much you trust in God and dive in headfirst into the unknown and uncertainties of life. Clothe yourself with strength and righteousness and Truth. Live the fruit of the Spirit and love in this reckless and radical way. You won’t regret it.

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Unashamed: Life Since Diagnosis

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I was diagnosed bipolar on March 18, 2016.

At first, I didn’t believe the doctor. Mostly because I didn’t understand or know what bipolar was. A little bit because I believed I was normal. The doctors just didn’t know right, their tests and observations were surely wrong.

But they were right.

I’ve lived a lot of life in the past six months–heck, in the past 10.

I finished school in December. Moved to Nashville in February. Came back at the end of March. Was diagnosed the 18th, and then life. moved. on.

It’s been awkward.

There are moments when I feel uncomfortable, because I think people treat me differently. Sometimes they do, but usually it’s all in my head.

There are people who have left my life, unable to understand or meet me where I am. I am not surprised, but nevertheless hurt by their absence.

It’s been hilarious.

I used to joke that I threw out the “adoption card” every chance I could. Now, I can throw out the “bipolar card.”

When I’m overwhelmed, I blame it on bipolar. When I’m anxious, I blame it on bipolar. When I need to go to bed early, I blame it on bipolar.

I do so jokingly, because in reality, I don’t dare let bipolar diminish or handicap me in any way.

It’s been hard.

Some weeks are great. I feel strong and confident and just like me before the diagnosis.

Some weeks are terrible. I feel depressed and alone and unlike any version of myself.

There are ups and downs, the ups are high and the downs are devastatingly low. The downs leave me silent and afraid, timid and misunderstood. I usually avoid friends, stay at home, and pray for the sadness to depart.

It’s been fun.

God gives and takes away. He gave me a new diagnosis, and took away the old pride of having a fully functioning, downright healthy brain and body.

God tears and mends. He tore apart my old identity in my life’s success (in academics, involvement, and at work). He stitched my new name, “Little Christ,” across my heart.

Though some have gone, some have stayed, and many have come. Such wonderful, Christ-loving, delightful people who know my diagnosis, pursue my heart, and encourage my dreams.

The other night, my friend Abbie got in a car wreck. Our pals Bryan, Freddie, and I stayed up all night (until 3 a.m.) to make sure she got home from the hospital safe.

That is how Jesus works. He brings together four quirky friends, wraps them up in kindness and laughter, and holds them together in the toughest moments. Praise Jesus, Abbie is alright!

And I know if I was ever hurt, Bryan, Freddie and Abbie would show up in a heartbeat. Prepared with prayer and petition and probably a present. Ready to do what Jesus does best: love others where they’re at, not where he wants them to be.

Bipolar isn’t the best. But life is.

On the days that I feel the worst, I remember how I felt during the best. Then I hope for even better days ahead.

My brain doesn’t function like everyone else’s, but my mind, body, and spirit are sure working well these days. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit need to be three-in-one, just like me.

Lately, I’m thankful.

Thankful that a bent brain is the only physical issue I have to battle. Thankful for the wonderful new and old friends who love me through and through. Thankful for the pain, because the Joy tastes even better.

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I Don’t Know Where I’m Going.

20150309_114224“I know where I’m going.”

Reads a Baylor t-shirt for incoming students.

As a future bear, I wore it with pride and excitement. It reminded me that I found where I belonged, where my story would take place for the next four years.

These days, I don’t know where I’m going.

I graduated in December, and my post-grad internship is over. I’m back at home with the parentals, and I’m nannying part-time.

According to my senior semester self, my life isn’t where or what I wanted it to be. At the time, I thought I’d be living in Nashville or Austin, anywhere but my hometown.

I thought I’d have a killer entry level position at a nonprofit or PR firm. I thought I’d have my life together, and I’d have more to say than, “I’m figuring out the next step,” when people asked what I was doing.

My life is nothing I wanted, but everything I need.

In college, I ran full force. While many of my friends coasted at 20 mph, I was going the full 60: interning, volunteering, leading, writing, studying, exercising.

I thought I could do it all. I said “yes” to every challenge and opportunity thrown my way. But in the end, it exhausted me.

These days, I say “no,” and life says “no” right back at me. Instead of running, I’m walking. I’ve traded anxious insomnia for a healthy eight hours a night. I’m not overworked, I’m happily rested.

Living in the unknown gives me hope for the future.

1 John 3:2 says, “What we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Each year, I look, act, and live differently than I was the year before. Over the course of 12 months, growth and refinement causes me to evolve into a better version of myself.

As I live in the unknown and search for God’s will, I’m learning maybe His will doesn’t lead me to a destination, but seeks to make me look less like my old self, and a little more like Christ every day.

Maybe I don’t need to know where I’m going, as long as I keep going. Not running, but carefully placing one foot in front of the other. Not exhausting myself, but finding rest and discovering Truths found in The Lord.

 

 

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Year of No: On Balancing Life & Living Well

My senior year at Baylor was coined “year of yes.”

I said “yes” to spontaneity, new adventures, and new friends.

I said “yes” to living boldly, without restraint, and to loving wildly, without regret.

2016 is “year of no.”

I will say “no” to imbalance, bitterness, heartache, unhealthy relationships, and a lack of boundaries.

I will say “no” to fears, doubts, and insecurities that creep into my mind, and trap my soul. I will say “no” to the Accuser, his evil schemes that stifle who I am, and what I do.

I will say “no” to simple things.

Things like gardening, making my bed, and changing my outfit multiple times a day.

I will also say “no” to overbooking and overwhelming and over exhausting myself.

By saying “no,” to all of these things, I am saying “yes” to living life joyfully and free of limitations.

I will say “yes” to creativity, selflessness, and living large. I will say “yes” to looking at the glass as a glass, regardless if it’s half full or empty.

I will say “yes” to diving headfirst into fighting bipolar, seeking Joy, and trusting God.

Friends, the truth shall set you free.

What are you saying yes to? What about your no?

How do you pursue people and passions? How do you let go of losses and failures?

Why do you agree to do what you do? Why do you stop yourself from what you refuse to participate in?

I encourage you to know yourself,
To truly dive deep into the why’s and what’s of who you are, what you do, and where you find Truth.

The more you know yourself, the better you allow God to know you: to delve into your Spirit, to inspire your walk, to steady your mind.

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Unashamed: I have a disorder, but I’m not disordered.

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Call me Mae. I call this man Pops.

Bipolar.

That’s what the Doc said.

I received the diagnosis this week–shortly after a big move to a new city, new job and new life bombarded me with stress, anxieties, restlessness, insecurities.*
I was once a singular, candle-like flame. But I exploded into a raging wildfire.

I’m not disordered.

I believe a man, Jesus Christ, loves me through His Father, The Lord, and dwells within me, The Spirit.

Those are personal beliefs, personal “problems” even. The best problems I’ve ever and never had.
When the world says “bipolar is a disorder,” The Man says,
“You are not disordered. You are not defined by a chemical imbalance in your brain. You are made up of mind, body and Spirit. Three in one, just like me.
I live in the most peaceful state of mind. Every morning, I choose to wake and see God’s Mercy in the sunrise. Each evening, I can rest easy basking in God’s Grace.

I’m a human, so I matter.

Dear goodness, my heart breaks for those who’ve journeyed before me in fear, or those who follow behind me in shame on similar paths.
A diagnosis is almost never good. It’s usually a physical illness or disease, or a psychological or cognitive disability. Slapped on your wrist as a patient, or tattooed to your foot like Toy Story’s Woody, which read “Andy.”
I’m not a toy. I’m not Andy’s. I’m human. I’m Christ’s.

And I’m not damaged. I’m not out of order.

I don’t care much for labels. People call me different names, like Daughter, Sister, Hipster, Asian, Christ Follower.

But first, please first, call me Mae. It’s my favorite.

Then call me: Caring, Compassionate, Christ-like.

A diagnosis does not, and will not ever change me, or my wiring: the ISTJ, lion and beaver-esque, strategic, intense, and purpose-focused “Mae Mae” who was born 21 years ago, adopted 20 years ago, left home 3.5 years ago, and returned home as “Mae” two days ago.

Call me Mae.

Call me human.

Call me Christian. Call me Writer, Dreamer, Creative, Thinker, Lawyer, Love, Mockingjay, Mae Flower, Mae Bae. Or just Mae.

Because I’m called by Christ. And I’m qualified by the Cross. And I’m me, and will always be me, a girl with a disorder. But not a woman who’s disordered.

* This post was originally written on 3/20/2016. It was saved as a draft and published at a more appropriate time.

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Single & Almost Ready to Mingle {re: A Strong Ass Woman of God}

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“I am a stubborn and feisty lady.”

My darling cousin Kendall called herself a “strong ass woman of God,” on her blog, a Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.

I love that a single status encourages independence, sanctification, and satisfaction in my own life. However, many friends see singleness as a thorn in their flesh, not a rose in the garden.

Satan manipulates our strengths, and turns them into insecurities.

Satan tries to grab my strategic thinking, and manipulate it into “manly thinking.” If I feel like a boy, surely I will never be ready to date a boy.

He takes my love to travel and wander, and translates it into “fear of commitment.” If I cannot commit to a place, surely I will never settle on a person.

He latches onto my ability to process and vocalize my thoughts, and twists it into an “inability to submit.” If I can speak for myself, surely I will never want a man to speak for me.

But as I draw near to God, my desire for a husband grows.

I will never feel qualified to call myself a girlfriend, wife, or mother. I will perptually use my sinful humanity as an excuse to never enter a romantic relationship.

But The Lord qualified me to be a woman and a wife on the Cross.

Each day, He sculpts away at a bent heart and a broken mindset, and He points back to where His Love redefined history.

When I look at the Cross, and I remember the Love Jesus showed, and I consider grace and mercy and peace.

I see the grace, mercy, and peace my Baylor brothers extended me when I was mean, selfish, and unkind. I know the grace, mercy, and peace my college roommataes showed me when I was short, stubborn, and snarky.

So when I think of Jesus, I remember my husband.

I don’t know him as my husband now, but in the moment I say, “I do,” I will weep tears of eternal joy.

Because right now, it feels like I will never have that moment.

Satan grabs ahold of my past to lie to my face, to call me unworthy, unloved, and incapable of sacrificing.

He tortures me by replaying past failed almost-relationships, he agonizes me with deceit, saying I will never be good enough.

Thankfully, The Lord wins. His love wins.

His love says, “You are a wonderful friend, a kind sister, and a generous stranger. Every step you take now is one closer to the man I’ve created for you.

Do not disqualify yourself. Do not listen to the Devil. He is a liar, and he will lose.

On this side of Heaven, he can grab hold of your insecurities. He will play you, he will trick you.

But look to me for Truth. Look to me for Love. Look to me for the grace, mercy, and peace that you will never find on this earth.

I am yours. I am your first love. And I am here, I will prepare you for another kind of love that will surpass all that you haven’t yet found.

I love you, dear one. Be patient. Be kind. I’m working for your good.”

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If it ain’t Jesus, it ain’t worth it.

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As a Believer, I’m completely biased when making this statement.

But as a Believer, I know it’s true.

I was born in China, which is 7,724 miles from Dallas, where I grew up.

From there, I attend school in Waco 95.07 miles away, and ventured up to 5,473 miles away for a summer in Italy, not including a weekend trip to Switzerland.

After graduation, I moved to Nashville, 665 miles from home, and 7,808 miles from my birthplace.

No place, no person will fill you on this earth.

It took two decades for me to fully grasp this Truth, but after bouncing from place-to-place and friend-to-friend, The Joy of the Lord smacked me in my face and put me in my physical place: Dallas, Texas.

I’m back in my hometown, but it’s not home to me yet.

I still call Waco home, and my heart is pulled in every geographical direction: from Nashville to Florence, I can’t help but long for a past that’s freely roamed and deeply loved.

It’s a past that’s wandered this earth as a nomad, because I thrive most when picking up stories and traits of different cultures. I store such treasures in my heart.

But here I am, home.

I’m not sure how long I will be here this time, but The Lord’s already blessed my faithfulness to Him. His goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life, no matter where I am geographically, mentally, spiritually.

One day, I’ll burst through my front door and say, “Honey, I’m home,” and mean it.

Until then, I will continue to bask in God’s presence that can be found on every corner of this universe.

And until then, I will keep shouting that God is good!

Because if it ain’t Jesus…

If it’s a relationship, a career, a GPA, a friend, an affirmation, a raise, a house, a kiss, a car, a goal, a trip…

It ain’t worth it.

Don’t seek those things. Seek The Kingdom of the Lord. Seek the presence of His Glory.

Seek the Adventure of Knowing The Lord on this earth, but not yet seeing Him fully until you reach Heaven. Seek these things instead, and you will find utter blessings among worldly battles, complete treasures among financial poverty.