Monday, February 27, 2012


I have a hard time knowing what to do about facebook.
This isn't a question of deleting it or keeping it, I realized a while back that as much as it is a time-consumer, and encourages narcissistic behaviour, with how spread out across the world many of my friends are, it is extremely helpful in keeping up with those people that I do not get the opportunity to see but once in a decade.

My concern is really about knowing when to keep, and when to delete someone who is your "friend" on facebook. A year and a half ago I deleted over half my friends list, going from 500-something, to just under 200. It was an extremely liberating experience, because no longer were people I spoke to twice in high school, able to see my activity, and a very skewed version of my life. So, I understand deleting people when you have absolutely no reason to keep them. Trust me, I get that.

However, with the two hundred friends I have now, things get a little more complicated.
Family: stays. Regardless of how often I see them, it is nice to at least have a little picture of their lives.
Friends I talk to regularly: stay. Obviously. It wouldn't make sense to drop them.
Friends I was incredibly close to, but now they live super far (read: 5+ hours by car) away from me: stay. I want them in my life. It may be hard to keep in touch, but they are still very important.

The issue comes when there are people I used to be close to, but am no longer close to, but they still live relatively close to me. I have people on my friends list with whom I used to talk to/see every week, if not almost every day. However, now I have hardly any, if any at all communication with them.

The thing is, it's not a simple thing for me to just delete them. Some of these people, I shared everything with. We were incredibly close. Deleting them, even if it's just off a social networking site, seems to mark the end of a friendship. It's stupid, to be sure, but there is an air of finality there. Maybe it is just me, but regardless, that's how I feel.

Some of these people, I regularly pray for. They may not have spoken to me in ages, but just because I am not important enough to be in their lives, does not mean they aren't important enough to need prayer.

If I delete them, am I going to forget to pray for them? If I delete them, do I become the bad guy? The one who ended the friendship? If I DON'T delete them, am I going to be upset when I see an update they've made, wondering why I am not good enough for them to want to continue to be friends with me?

I don't know.
I guess we'll see what I decide.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Joy comes from contentment

Joy. Joy is actually my middle name. I wish I could say that it described me to a t, but more often than not in the past, it has not. I find that unfortunate. Not simply because it is one of my names, and thus, it would be really cool if it described me, but because of how important that small, three-letter word really is to a person's well-being.

I firmly believe that without the grace of God, it is impossible to truly understand what joy is. Further than that however, I believe that is impossible to experience a true sense of joy without first embracing the spirit of contentment.

I went through a devotional a while ago all about journeying to have contentment. It was fantastic, and I learned so much, but as with many other devotionals, sermons and readings, I quickly forgot the vast majority of what I learned, remembering only a few key phrases and ideas, and that I had loved it... when I was going through it. I recently gave a copy to a friend, and decided I should try to go through it again, and maybe make it stick this time (by the way ladies, it really is fantastic and I completely recommend it for any woman - the book is Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow). Anyway, I think everything has hit me harder the second time. I remember absolutely bawling through the first chapter the first time around because of how much the words resonated within me and immediately creating a background on my computer with my new mantra. This time, however, I am able to look back over the past few months and see all the times that I knowingly chose joy and contentment, and how much that influenced my situations.

Content is generally just thought of as another word for happy, and one that doesn't seem to hold as much weight. It is so much more than that. The World English Dictionary describes it as "peace of mind; mental or emotional satisfaction." It is so, so true. Happiness seems to be more of a surface-level emotional, and a word people throw out all the time to describe anything and everything. I find it shallow. You can be happy about anything. I am happy when October comes and I can get Pumpkin Pie Blizzards at Dairy Queen. I am happy when I see a buy one get the second one free sale. I am unhappy when I realize that the first item costs more than I am willing to spend in the first place and so I can't get the item. But being satisfied... being satisfied in all that you have, all that is happening in your life, in all that you do... that is much more than a minuscule feeling that quickly fades.

One thing I can compare it to is love. The vast majority of society accepts that people fall in love, and they fall out of love. It happens all the time. The problem is that real love is not just a feeling. It is a choice, one you need to make each and every day, regardless of the situation you are currently in. If you don't choose to support them in all you do, to help them even when you're angry with them, to compromise, to do all that you can to help things improve, things are only going to get worse. If you don't choose to love, things will eventually fall apart. The same can be said for contentment. If you do not choose to be satisfied in your current situation, if you do not choose to give it to God, to trust Him with your every step, though the situation itself may improve, your attitude will not. And the next time something bad happens, you'll be right back where you started. I am not trying to say that choosing to be content is easy. It's not. At all. Choosing to be content is, in my opinion, virtually impossible without God, and hard to do even with God because of how human we are.

Philippians 4:11-13 says,
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

As you read this, you probably recognized that you have verse 13 memorized, but not the rest. At least, I did the first time I read it a year ago. I did not have any idea about what came before verse 13. This may just mean I need to study my Bible more (which, trust me, I certainly do!) but I also think it reflects how we pick out snippets of things without looking at the bigger picture. These verses give us a clear definition on how to become satisfied, how to be content. Paul wrote these words while he was in prison, not while he was living the high life.

So how satisfied are you?
If you aren't satisfied with what's happening in your life, what can you do to come closer to reaching it?
How much of your life are you pretending to give to God, but then worrying about, wondering about or trying to fix?

If you aren't satisfied in who you are with God, in your current situation, how can you possibly expect to experience true joy? It's hard to do, but it's attainable.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The chapter is just beginning...

Today sort of feels like the end of the chapter, and I guess Tuesday (not tomorrow, Monday) is the beginning of a new one. And to be honest, it is not one I am looking forward to - especially this fall.

On Tuesday I go to Tyndale to figure out the final bits before classes start on Monday. I am not looking forward to going at all. Not only am I terribly shy and thus, really bad at making new friends (which would be why I don't have tons of friends - I am probably still too shy to say much around you, even if I've known you for a couple years), but I am also worried about my health, how my health will affect my schoolwork considering I haven't been able to do it in a year, and not looking forward to the three hours round trip commute if everything on the road to Toronto is perfect (yes, I realize that just does not happen) for an hour of class. Oh, and there's the whole thing where I am too shy to even ask people if I am in the correct classroom. What a winning combination.

Yeah, I'm terrified. This is going to be a lonely, lonely fall filled with endless commutes, work that I am not used to and am afraid I am still not ready for (yay for illnesses that affect your ability to think clearly!), no one to talk to at school or at home, very shaky health and probably a lot of complete breakdowns. It's a very normal occurrence for me lately, between the health and the family life problems (I think you all know what I am talking about). At least I'm used to the loneliness, a year and a half does that to you, and it's probably made me a better person for it.

I think I am going to have to learn to rely on God more than ever before this year, which is definitely a good thing. I did not know I could need to rely on God more than I've needed to this past while, but I think I may. While I've been desperate for Him in what's happened, it's now reality because I am truly moving to a new point in my life, another chapter I didn't think would ever be written. I am certainly getting used to it, so why not bring on more. I do think it will help me to grow even more in my relationship with God, as well as with those with family and the few friends I hold so dear to me, because I've never been so good with opening up to people (especially friends) and I am really willing to do it now. I've also learned who my friends truly are, and I do enjoy that. It makes me love them all the more.

I am looking forward to January. By then, everything about school (that which terrifies me most of all) will no longer be new. I will finally be moving to a new city, and really be able to start out away from all of the things that have happened. I've grown from it, will continue to do so and will be able to move on (let's hope!). In a new city, with no family and hardly any friends (thank goodness for Stephen moving as well!) I will need to have grown even closer to God to be able to survive, and so I am ever so thankful for this time in all that it is doing for me in Christ.

It's a scary, unknown, new chapter but I am more than ready to forget the last one.

...Except for the lessons I've learned, of course.

I'm not

You may have noticed that the majority of my posts deal with some sort of unhappiness in my life. I have no problem admitting that at all. What I would like you to note, lest you come away with the idea that I don't like my life and am unhappy all the time, is that I am actually quite content the majority of the time. The thing is, when I am happy, when things are going rather well, I do not have the urge to write. There are generally three times when I write: when I am unhappy, when I am pensive and hoping the results will be good, and when I am learning more about God. When it is the latter, I write in my journal. I consider my walk with God to be an extremely personal thing, and while I do enjoy sharing it with others, I generally won't blog about it to a large extent (as in, an entire blog entry about it) unless I really feel God putting it on my heart to share it online, in my blog. That may happen if I continue to blog more and more, but at this time it just isn't something I feel the need to do. That leaves two other options and truly, the second option is generally quite similar to first. Right now I use this journal as a way to speak my mind (to an extent, of course, if you truly knew what I thought about a few things I've mentioned this blog would have a very different atmosphere to it) and as I am most likely to feel the need to write when I am upset, that is generally what I write about. I do promise you though, my life is extremely blessed by God, and I am well aware of the fact, even in the midst of such turmoil.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pebbles and Boulders Blocking the Way

Everything seems to be on the rocks again.
It's as if my health has started to decline again, or maybe I am just having one of those weeks common to people with chronic syndromes. I just know that the past couple weeks have not been encouraging in regards to how I am supposed to start going to school full time in a mere two weeks. Two weeks. That's it, and I think I am far from ready.

This was a goal, a large goal. To be able to finally take five courses once again come September. I feel like the goal I believed would be reached has been taken away from me quicker than I could imagine. I've now been sick for over 18 months. More than a year and a half. I was so excited to be able to begin my life again, to learn to live with this new sense of "good" health (good in quotation marks because it is still far from the norm), learn to live going and doing the same things as everyone else in spite of my health. Now? Now, I just don't know. I am still having trouble with focusing and understanding school work and concepts that weren't even enough to be on my radar a year and a half ago. I am still getting sick a lot, having many migraines and am having trouble even caring enough to keep going with work because I feel I am just going to fail anyway. I fully realize the implications of having the term "chronic" in an illness. I understand that it is going to be around, and that I will have good days and bad days. The problem is that the bad days still seem to outnumber the good ones, and this makes it very difficult to think about keeping up a normal school schedule, with a full load of coursework - especially when I am to be entering a completely new situation with a new school, new people, and a new educational path. All this does is put even more stress on my situation, and my mental state is not exactly good enough for me to be able to handle it well.

I am so worried about needing to decide to defer 'til January, or maybe taking only one or two courses. I am so tired of sitting at home all the time and seeing only the boyfriend and my immediate family for months at a time. I am extremely grateful for my family and my boyfriend, but I do feel like this illness has taken away every friend I have had because I don't ever see anyone, and their lives are to busy to concern themselves with me (which, in fact, I completely understand - my life is a downer, of this I am fully aware, and I can't often go out for long). I was so excited to be able to actually go places for once. I wasn't planning on trying to get an actual social life again, I understand that could be extremely problematic for my health. It was, however, nice to think that I would again have the option to go visit a friend once in a while instead of sitting at home and hoping that someone, anyone will want to visit me. But no, it is starting to appear that I will once again be stuck at home, maybe doing a bit of coursework, and hoping someone will talk to me. I am extremely excited for this, I am sure you can tell. =]

I am not sure why this is happening again, why all my goals seem unmet. I can only hope and pray that it will be revealed to me relatively soon, and that I will truly be able to start living once again.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting Away

I leave for vacation in three days. I am so excited to go.

This past while has not been easy for me, between my health and the other stuff going on. I haven't really had a chance to stop thinking about all the things that aren't going well. That's a good thing in a sense - it is vital to face things head on. However, it is also important to have a chance to stop the thought process once in a while, and get away, unwind and recover. That is what I am looking forward to.

Stephen is coming for the first week, which I am so happy about. We've never really been anywhere together more than a couple hours away, so this will be interesting. Not to mention how wonderful it will be to have him with me for almost a whole week. =]

I have a lot to do before I go; finishing up the course I am currently working on is the main priority. It will happen, it is just taking a lot of willpower.

I am glad I am getting away, and I really do hope I come back renewed and refreshed, and able to face things head on once more, but perhaps with a more willing and cheerful attitude than I have now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Obviously I have failed my goal of writing three to four times a week.

Am I surprised? No, not in the least, and to be honest, it doesn't really bother me. I do like to follow through on whatever I start, but I am learning to let things slide by me. If it isn't momentous, I really don't need to spend the time stressing about it, like I normally do.

The past few weeks have been busy, and indescribable. Indescribable in that I am truly not allowed to say some of what's going on. That has been a huge problem for the last while, not just because of the implications on my life, but on the lives of many others. I am still having trouble with it, but I am quite sure that it won't go away and so I am accepting it.

My life right now is interesting. It's not at all what I thought it'd be like say, a year and a half ago before I got sick the first time. It's not at all what I thought it'd be like six months ago, not at all what I thought it'd be like three months ago, not at all what I thought it'd be like even three weeks ago. Even five days ago, in some cases.

I am not good with uncertain situations. The majority of the time, I don't let them stay in my life for too long. I am a planner, and I generally plan until I can plan no more - and then I usually plan a couple extra back - ups to go with the other back - up stuff I've already planned. Needless to say, I am not a spontaneous person. If you randomly ask me to do something, I will say yes, but in my head I will immediately be planning anything and everything. For example, if I'm with a friend, and they say, "Let's go on a walk!" I will immediately start thinking about every direction we could go, where each way would take us, what stops there would be, where we should stop to talk, how long it would take to go down this street and this street - no wait, down this street instead... You get the idea. And this is all before I've even put on my shoes and walked out the door. As the walk starts, I only think more and more about any and every possibility for well, absolutely anything.

The situation I am in right now is uncertain, and while I have done as much as I can to figure something out, there is nothing else I can do.

Now, in the past year and a half I have learned a lot about times when you are unable to change circumstances. This illness has completely rocked my world. It is as if a bullet-proof glass wall has been put up and there is no door, not even a window. I can see to the other side, I can plan for many situations, but none of them come true. I simply stay on the other side of the wall, confused and dejected. Even now, when I am beginning to see cracks in the wall, there is still the very real possibility that I will be behind the wall for much longer, perhaps even the rest of my life. It will be different, yes, I will have access to the other side, but there will still be many times when I back where I have been for the past while - separated and without a clue.

This illness has helped me to grow significantly as a person. It has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about how much more control I need to hand over to God - for Him to have complete control of my life.
As you may guess from how detail - oriented I am, this is not an easy task for me, and many days it seems absolutely impossible. However, I am learning, and growing. And in light of the other situation of the past few months, I am even more thankful than I was before that I have had this opportunity to grow in such a way.

I am sure many of you have had situations that have gone on and on, completely out of your control. This is mine.

The majority of you may not know what it is like to become incredibly ill, have the VERY REAL possibility that all you've thought God has been leading you and working you towards in your life could be taken away from you in a single second all over a stupid operation you may need to save your life, and then have that haunt you over the next few months. The haunting causes you to take everything easy as you recover and you feel like you may have arrived. You're healthy, so you think. Suddenly, you're ill again. The doctors can't figure out what's wrong with you - they say you're all normal, but you are so sick that you can barely stand without falling over. You completely drop everything in your life and essentially become a vegetable on a couch (though thankfully, you still have minor control over your mind - though that is extremely weak and hazy also). Finally, you hear a diagnosis, but it's one of those invisible illnesses - meaning that to the rest of the world, you look perfectly fine. Many people, many doctors even, do not believe these types of illnesses even exist. They say you're simply lazy, nothing is wrong with you, even though you cannot concentrate on anything, can hardly walk and are in pain at all times. You go back to the doctor who diagnosed you, time and time again. You're put on medications and they help some, but you're still very, very weak. At this point it's been over ten months since your initial illness, five since the second problem, two and a half since the complete shutdown of your body. You keep lying on a couch, doing nothing all day - having not the strength to even watch television at some points, unable to sleep without medications and not sleeping nearly enough with them. You're accused of simply being depressed, not being sick at all. If anything, you're depressed BECAUSE you're sick. This is taken back, but not before the damage has been done. You continue to progress, you think, but you're not really sure because you were in such a bad state a few months back - both mentally and physically - that you don't really know. And overhead, there is still the ever looming word: chronic. This may never go away, this may always be here. At this point it's been 13 months since your initial illness. You know you're finally improving, but what are you coming back to? You've lost friends over this illness - friends who just couldn't seem to understand why you couldn't be involved, why you couldn't hang out, why you couldn't be you. You've lost a lot of who you were before - it's as if you've been replaced. You're still you, but you look at life so differently that it's hard for people to understand. You aren't the type to open up - you don't like to trouble people with yourself, never have, so you're leaning heavily on your family and your boyfriend because they're the only ones who know where you've been.

That was a lot longer than I meant it to be. I am now at almost seventeen months. I have improved, yes, but I still have further to go, and I am still very unsure as to whether I will ever be fully healed. The word chronic does seem to suggest that I won't, but I do know that God has the power to heal, if He so sees fit. Regardless of what happens, I have accepted what I have, and where I am in my life. My life the past year and a half has changed me, molded me and made me a better person. A very different person, yes, but I do believe the changes to be good ones, and they certainly seem to be helping in the newer situation I am currently in.

This was not what I had planned to write when I opened up the document tonight. Writing is a time when I love what comes without being planned. It's more honest and real that way, and I enjoy that, especially when so much that I say is carefully planned out as to ensure... well, I'm not really sure what the reason is. But I do love what flows from going without it.

I am learning not to plan.
My life has not turned out according to plan. It is not on the same map, it is not even on the same plane.
But I have learned, and am continuing to learn to be okay with that. To let God lead my life in His direction, not mine. I fail about a thousand times a day, but I am learning.

I have given it to God. And I will continue to do so, each and every day.