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Unashamed: When April Showers Don’t Bring Mae Flowers.

They’re supposed to bring May flowers.

April has come and gone — and for the most part, so has the rain — the Dallas Arboretum proves the flowers are upon us — but what if life’s metaphorical flowers, aren’t?

I haven’t been majorly depressed since December — BLESS UP. It’s been a whole new year of adventure and excitement and radiance that I rarely tasted in 2016. The amount of gratitude toward my parents, friends, doctors, therapists and The King has overwhelmed me.

But I think I’m regressing — lately I’ve experienced heavier and lower days. It hurts, as I started a dream job just a couple of weeks ago, and so desperately want to thrive there. I seek out medical, emotional help partnered with a holistic approach to mental health.

Sometimes the flowers don’t sprout.

We go through periods of absolute suffering and pain, we cry out to God for relief, but it seems as if the hope and joy never come upon us. It seems as though we are forgotten and abandoned and He doesn’t live up to His promise to “work for our good.”

Lately I’ve been eating up Isaiah. This morning, I walked through ch. 30. It talks about rebellious people who “speak to us smooth things.” They want an easy way out, they want smooth sailing.

Yet, those people are like breaking “that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found.”

We are Christ’s vessels — we are called to be filled with the Spirit and pour out radical love onto those around us. So how do we refuse to rebel and cling to God’s goodness?

We remember that He will be gracious. He hears the sound of our cries, he answers us. The “bread of adversity” and “water of affliction” make us see our Teacher.

Bread and water are necessities — I’d prefer to live without adversity and affliction. I’d prefer to sail calm waters without blasting winds and pelting rain. I’d prefer to not be bipolar, to not give too much of myself away, to not suffer from anxiety over tomorrow’s.

But He “binds up the brokenness of His people.”

He sees our hurt. He hears our cries. He sits with us. He cradles us. He listens. He weeps. He protects. He provides. He delivers.

He will not leave us alone. He will not let us suffer without Him, His presence, His grace. He will not abandon or forsake or condemn us if we walk in Spirit and in Truth.

He says, “You will not suffer forever. I will stitch you back together. I am yours, you are Mine. We will fight this. We will win. And I will overcome.”

Bearing my Cross · Life Written. · The Word · Unashamed. · Uncategorized

Unashamed: The Power of Prayer & Suffering Well.

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Some days, I beat bipolar.

It is funny how many friends and family praise me. They say I am doing so well, that I have responded to my diagnosis exceptionally. They are proud, they love me, and they can’t wait to see how God will use me.

But they don’t see me at my worst, when I curl up in bed and try to squeeze out tears from my empty tearducts.

It’s hard to feel hopeful in those moments. It’s hard to feel anything at all.

Lately, I’ve come across the phrase to “struggle well.”

When I hear this term, I picture cancer patients fearlessly undergoing chemotherapy treatments, and constantly hoping in The Lord.

I don’t think of myself, because I still consider myself a victim, not a survivor. I struggle and doubt and wrestle with my mind. I fear and hurt and cry.

After reading James 5, I think it is okay to struggle and doubt and wrestle. It is okay to feel afraid and to experience hurt and to cry out to The Lord.

James 5 walks through patience among suffering, and the prayer of faith.

The passage says, “You too, be patient and stand firm, for the Lord’s coming is near. It says, “We count as blessed those who have persevered.”

It goes on to say, “Is anyone among you troubled? Let them pray. Is anyone among you happy? Let them sing songs of praise….The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.”

During even the toughest days, I remember that Jesus is coming soon. I remember that God is in the here and now, fighting by my side and even in my future. I cannot ever be fully hopeless, because my hope is built upon the Lord’s promise to return. My hope is built on His promise to restore and redeem.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness. It isn’t an ordinary, physical sickness, but it can be just as debilitating. Like cancer, or a broken leg, it can be healed and managed well.

With the Lord, there is always hope.

There is always an answer to a prayer. There is always an open door. There is always a silver lining. Often, it’s hard to hear His reply, or to notice the door, or to see the silver. But friends, they are always there. Jesus is coming soon.

 

Bearing my Cross · Body. · Life Written. · Love Languages · Mind. · Post-Grad. · Sojourn. · spirit · The Word

Just Around the Big Bend: On Hope & Expectation

946796_10208895827141727_1832745874572742066_nI’m camping at Big Bend this weekend.

My friends Brian, Sarah, and I dreamed up this trip months ago. As adventurers and lovers of the great outdoors, and strangers to Big Bend, we decided it would be the perfect Labor Day weekend getaway.

A lot of planning has gone into our trip: what to pack, meal planning, buying last-minute gear. There are far few things I love more than packing for a trip, especially a campout. This week I’ve been giddy as I run around the house to find miscellaneous items like wipes and bug repellant.

There is much around the bend {of life}.

Year 22 beholds a mixture of the new and old. A new church, an old hometown. A new job (hopefully), an old resume. A new friend group, while keeping the old.

Excitement and adventure come with all of this newness, but so do anxiety and nerves.

What if I don’t fit into my new church? What if I can’t find community?

What if I can’t get a new job? How will I sustain my weekly coffee and pie expenditures?

What if I can’t make new friends? What if the old ones leave me?

But God works for our good: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. This means Christ will always be our Savior, always be Protector, always be Deliverer, always be King.

This means that while I spend my days in today’s, God is far ahead, making room for good things to come.

What if I prepared for God’s goodness the same way I packed for Big Bend? What if I planned for great things to happen in and through me, long before they do?

Let’s wait on God in hopeful expectation.

Because the ultimate greatness that will happen is Christ’s return.

What if I loved so much today, that it poured into my tomorrow’s? What if I feared less today, so I can enjoy my tomorrow’s?

What if instead of doubting and worrying and over-planning, I sat in the still and quiet, and waited for Christ to come back?

Hebrews 6:19 says, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”

God’s hope keeps us planted, it won’t let the waves and storms of life sweep us away. God’s hope keeps us steady, it holds onto us just as much as we cling to it.

Friends, do not doubt yourself today, and don’t live in fear of tomorrow.

Look ahead to the horizon, switch to a bird’s eye view, and be prepared for blessing and abundance. Fight the storms, anchor your soul, and be ready!

Bearing my Cross · Body. · For the Ladies · Friendship · Life Written. · Mind. · My Adoption · Popular Posts. · Post-Grad. · spirit · The Word · Unashamed.

Unashamed: Stable & Able {On God’s Strength vs. Mental Illness}

13243891_203119956748195_6724010833973776814_oBipolar disorder is marked by mania and depression.

When I’m manic, I lose sleep, my mind races, I talk too quickly, and I can’t sit still. I come off jittery and overwhelmingly excited over petty things.

I make plans, plans, plans, with people and for my life. They’re big and fun and grand, and often a bit too lofty.

When I’m depressed, I sleep too much, my mind slows, I talk too slowly (or I don’t talk at all), and I only want to sit or rest. I come off lethargic and seem underwhelmed by nearly every activity.

I refuse to make plans, I isolate myself from friends and family. I feel shame for feeling so down, and I don’t want to cause others to sink to my level.

Doctors want their patients to be stable.

“Stable” is a buzz word in the world of mental illness. We don’t want to be too energetic or over eager, but we don’t want to be too sad or underwhelmed.

We want a happy middle ground between a crazy high and a sleepy low. We want an even, strong, secure stance.

In the world of mental illness, we aim for normalcy.

But I’m not normal, so I aim to be able.

I’ve always been the odd one out: adopted, Asian, young, boyish, etc. I’ve never melted into a crowd easily, in some form or fashion I keep sticking out like a sore thumb.

Originally, I hated my diagnosis, because I feared it made me stick out too much. I felt sad, because I lost a life I loved in Nashville, and angry, because I lived a faithful life until now.

These days, I know I’ll never be perpetually stable. My disorder is called bipolar, so it throws me into a world of dichotomy, of yes and no, of black and white, of being “read” all over by strangers, family, friends.

My friend Britt prays that I can live in the grey. She prays I can be steady, steady, steady. And I am so grateul for her prayers.

I may never be stable, but with God, all things are able. He is the One who Heals, Protects, Redeems. He is the One who Fights my over-energy, and under-sadness.

He is the One who makes me new, not because I need to be fixed, but because I am a broken, sinful human being.,

We are not always stable. Our life crumbles to pieces when tragedy, betrayal, darkness strikes. We can ever be able, with God on our side.

Bearing my Cross · College Life · Life Written. · Post-Grad. · Sic'Em Forever. · Sojourn. · spirit · The Word

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.

 

 

Bearing my Cross · Body. · College Life · For the Ladies · Friendship · Life Written. · Mind. · Popular Posts. · Post-Grad. · Sojourn. · spirit

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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A Sheep’s Psalm: On Psalm 23 and Praise for Plot Twists

Mae Mae & Tim Pops
Mae Mae & Tim Pops

A few months ago, I praised God for plot twists.*

To my dismay and discomfort, plots kept twisting. And still do.

In September, I hadn’t the slightest clue what Spring 2016 held. By mid-December, I solidified an internship with Red Bus, and anticipated a big, potentially lasting move to Nashville.

Mid-January, weeks before my RBP start date, The Lord blessed me with host families who “adopted” me into their houses and lives.

Praise the Lord, He made a path to start 2016.

I arrived to Nash. Found a church. Found fellowship. Found friends. Almost instantaneously.

But wait. I started Red Bus. Found a family of fellow orphan defenders. Found Faith in the radical love from every person who showed Hope. Found forever–a big word for this weary traveler. Almost automatically.

BUT WHAT. I began to get sick. Real sick. Like coughing and hacking and draining of first my body, then myself: physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually.

But Praise the Lord for plot twists: He paves paths every day.

Right now, I’m back at home. Home, home, in the Dallas suburb where I learned to ride a bike.

Same room. Same girl. New woman.

Now Mae, not Mae Mae–a cute nickname Pops/Tim still calls me on occasion.

Transformed by time (3.5 years), space (Waco, Houston, Nashville), and great life events (a Baylor education, a summer in Italy, internships on internships) and even greater people (hey, thanks for making me, Mae).

It’s good to be back. It’s good to be home.

It’s good to unpack and reorganize my life: books, clothes, journals, calendars, with an intent to extend my stay in Dallas, Texas, and America.

I memorized Ps. 23 a year ago. Now it has a whole new meaning:

  1. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. (v. 1, ESV). This makes me a hopeless, desperate sheep, and some Shepherd Man leaves me with zero desires apart from Him.
  2. He makes me lie down, leads me, restores me, guides me (v. 2-3). To green pastures for rest, quiet waters for hydration. Along paths of righteousness, not a limited A-leads-to-B trail.
  3. I walk through the valley. But I will fear no evil (v. 4). I don’t run or flee in the valley, but Shepherd Man escorts me out. Or protects me as I visit.
  4. You prepare a table before me, anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows (v. 5). It’s too good to be true. I make it through the valley and into a Kingdom. On a mountain.
  5. Sureley goodness and love will follow me, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (v. 6). Satan will try to steal me, but God’s grace and mercy follow me. The Loser’s schemes won’t get him to Heaven. I’ll land there. And I will bask in the fullness of the presence of the Lord.

Right now? I’m basking in an awareness of God. From home, Dallas.

One day, on the Best Day Ever, I’ll see Shepherd Man face-to-face. In Heaven, Heaven!

I’ll welcome silly, earthly plot twists, because these paths of righteousness will reunite me with my Shepherd Man. One Day. It’s coming! And I feel giddy!