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A Look Back.. A Look Ahead

2014 came and went. When I look back to where I was this time last year it looks completely different than my life now. I had no idea I’d be sitting here in my apartment in Downtown Los Angeles, listening to the heavy traffic, looking out onto the Hollywood Hills. I said that 2014 was going to be my year. Boy! Was I spot-on.

This past year was a year of stretching and growing. Of sitting and listening to God. For many of the months, it was a time of solitude, a time of reflection. I spent countless hours in prayer and meditation, listening to the heart of God. This past year, I beat illness, I overcame fear, I put doubt to the wayside, I lived for my King. This was the year I learned to be bold. I learned that there is no better place than walking hand-in-hand with Jesus. This past year, I decided to stand alone and truly live out my faith. This was the year I truly asked God to break my heart for what breaks His. I let Him become my complete covering. I recognized that He was, is and always will be my first love. 2014 was the year I fell madly in love with Jesus.

I am not the same woman I was this time last year. I’m still not where I want to be, but I thank God for the growth He’s allowed me to go through. Here’s what I learned. When God speaks, you move. People will laugh, get jealous, celebrate with you, call you naive, cheer you on.. you name it. But let me let you in on a little secret, it’s not about them. It doesn’t matter what others will say. Do it anyway. If God is calling you, go. Move. And quickly. Don’t look back.

All of the things I was worried about losing before I left Indiana, are still there. Not only are they still there, they are better than ever. My family still loves me, my friends still talk to me, my job is awesome and my boyfriend.. well he’s now my fiance =). (Yea, that happened!)

On the way home from work tonight, I was listening to my worship music and I couldn’t help but to start crying. All of sudden, I just wanted to thank Him for everything He has orchestrated in my life. He goes above and beyond. I thanked Him for His love, His provision, His kindness, His mercy and His grace. God is a God who loves to bless us. In order to do that, we have to show Him that we are all about Him. He wants to see us put in some work, too. It’s a relationship and relationships are all about give and take.

God wants to spend time with us. He is so jealous for us. He’s longing to spend time with us. It’s us that don’t make time for Him. Whenever I get out of sync with my devotion time, and don’t pray as much as I should, I get a vision of God sitting up in Heaven pouting like a little child because He misses me and wants to talk, but I’m “too busy”. I think back on my life and realize that God has never been “too busy” for me. God is always available. In 2014, I made it a practice to never be too busy for God. Let me tell you, doing this changed my whole perspective on who God is. He is available all the time. No matter the size of the victory or the weight of the burden. I learned that God wants and desires me to lay my burdens at His feet and leave them there.

When I sat and listened, He spoke. When I made time, He gave me grace in other areas. I am never too busy for God. I realize now, I spend a good part of my day in communication with Him. I do it, and don’t even realize it. When I live like that, I am a different person. I see people in ways I’ve never seen them. I am humbled in situations I was once arrogant and prideful. I give probably more than I should, but I still manage to pay my bills every month. God provides. He can’t wait to bless us. All He wants to do is spend time with us. He already knows everything, yes. But He wants to hear it from us.

I urge you to be intentional about your time with God in 2015. I urge you to spend a little more time with Him every day. Sit and listen to Him. Get to know His heart. Ask Him to break your heart for what breaks yours and see what your year will bring.

The past six years have been like a wilderness to me. I walked and walked, many times in circles and felt like I was getting no where. In those six years, I went through what most people will never go through in a lifetime. But I made it and I’m better than ever. God told that my seventh year would be a year of refreshment, a year of walking in the water with Him. I believe it whole heartedly.

2015 started off amazing. I got engaged on January 1, 2015 to the love of my life. A wonderful man of God, a many who loves me like Christ loves the church. A man who lavishes grace on me where I fail. Our love story is beautiful and full of God’s redemption, love, grace, mercy and faithfulness. He is my superman and my prince charming. God did that! I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year has to offer. 2014 was a trip, so I can only imagine what 2015 will bring.

Let the adventures begin!

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I’ve Changed..

It’s officially been four months and one day since I started this journey. And oh.. what a journey it has been. These months have been filled with every emotion and mood. Everything from extreme joy, to fits of laughter, deep sadness, satisfaction, fear, humbleness, gratification, apathy to wholeness. There are days where it feels like a whirlwind while other days it feels like a marathon. I’ve learned that even though we’re “called to run the race that’s set before us,” that sometimes even within that slow and steady run of life, there are times that call us to sprint. Times that call us to act quickly, to adjust and go with the flow, to bend, and be flexible. To let the Holy Spirit move. To surrender.

This journey I’ve been on these past four months has taught me things I had never known about myself. Showed me patterns, some good and some bad. He’s removed me from everything comfortable, forcing me gently into knowing myself and my Creator more intimately. When your crutches are removed out from under your armpits, you have no choice to look for something to break your fall. We all have two options at this point. We can either choose to turn to something unhealthy, choose something that doesn’t fix the reason we have that limp in the first place. Or we can choose to have Jesus are our crutch. We can lean solely on him. Resting fully in who He says He is. He can handle it. All of it.

So in these past four months, I’ve been challenged as my crutches have been pulled and I’m learning to lean on my Heavenly Father in everything I do. My mindset has changed. I haven’t arrived by any means, in fact, every day I have to make a choice to lean on Him. I have to put aside my own desires and replace them with His.

Because I am operating and believing that God’s plan for my life is better than anything I could dream up, it’s freed my mind to dream. To dream and see what God will do. It’s shown me that I cannot orchestrate anything like the way He orchestrates my life. So why even try? I’ve been getting glimpses of how God is so perfectly weaving together the tapestry of my life. From the first cell formed in my being, to now, and to where He knows it will end. Realizing that has lifted a weight off of my shoulders.

I’ve also learned that I am a lover of God’s presence. One of my favorite things to do is spend time with just me and God. It’s become something that I crave. If I don’t have it, I tend to lose my balance. I think moving away you realize that that’s truly all you really need. At first I was terrified of time alone with God. What was I going to say? How was He going to feel about me rambling on about my day? Then it hit me, He already knows me. He knows everything I’m about to tell him, and honestly He can’t wait to hear about it. He delights in the fact that I choose to spend time with Him. Moving away has taken away all the people and things I would normally turn to and in return, turned me face-to-face with Jesus. It’s been a wonderful time of discovering.

This past week I actually felt, for the first time, like I lived here in California. I made plans, did dinner with a friend and followed my weekly Saturday routine. It felt so good to finally be able to “turn down” offers simply because I had options. And later this week, my roommate finally arrives. Not just my roommate, but my Covenant Sister, my prayer partner, and my friend. I can’t believe this day has finally come.

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Community.. one person at a time

When God told me to move, I remember immediately dreading the fact that that meant I was going to have to make new friends. The fear, the dread, the anxiety. It was all too much. Just the thought made me feel sick to my stomach.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m actually an introvert. Well, more like an extroverted-introvert. I can be extroverted, it’s true, I get some of my energy from people. I can talk to people, but afterwards I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve been drained to the core. It can be really exhausting doing something that doesn’t come naturally to you.  Honestly, I would like nothing more than to sit at home reading a book, drinking a cup of coffee and maybe taking a bubble bath. I really recharge the best when I’m by myself.

I’m sure there are people reading this who will be shocked to hear me say I’m an introvert.. but it’s the truth. It’s funny how we can begin to live into what people tell us about ourselves. That’s what I had done for a long time. But I could never understand why I didn’t enjoy it. For so long I had been told I was an extrovert, when in reality I wasn’t. It’s like the quote people say about goldfish.. “If you tell a goldfish that they can only succeed by climbing a tree, they’ll spend their whole life thinking they’re a failure.” I’m an introvert and I’m ok with that.  So, when I moved to California, I was dreading the process of making new friends. Work made it a little easier. I met a group of people who are beyond awesome. I’m so thankful to know them. They truly have been a great supply of friendship and kindness. I love each of them. But I knew I needed more than friends that I met at work.

Well one day I was at a nail salon getting a pedicure. I was relaxing and enjoying the massage chair.. I started looking around and all of a sudden this girl walks into the nail salon. Immediately I was drawn to  her. Mostly because of her hair, and the fact that she had a nose ring just like mine. I myself have very different hair and it tends to attract all different kinds of reactions. Whenever I see someone else who does that, I am instantly intrigued. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but have you ever seen someone and thought, “Huh, I could be friends with them..” If not, it’s a strange feeling. If you have, then you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about.

There was something about her that just seemed inviting. I decided that it was probably best not to go up to a complete stranger and say “Hey, we should be friends!” Plus, like I’ve already stated, I’m an introvert. I think I would have rather done anything else. So I left the shop and drove home.

A few days later, I was at an event at my church for the women. I never go to these, except the one that happens once a month. I was sitting next to a friend and during the middle of service, I looked over and saw the same girl! I was shocked! What were the chances that I would see this girl again, especially somewhere as big as Los Angeles. Again, my introvert self was dyyyying. I didn’t want to go up to her. I had also had a really rough day and wanted nothing more than to go home and get in bed. I left church and headed to my car. I remember thinking in my head, “OK, if you see her again, you HAVE to say something.” It was just getting too weird. I even called my friend Allyson and told her about the situation. She told me that I needed to introduce myself the next time I saw her.

A couple weeks go bye and I’m working at The Dream Center’s back to school event. I was hosting a corporation and talking to a few one them. When I had finished, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and guess who it was… IT WAS THE GIRL! I laughed to myself and we make our introductions. She told me, without me saying a word, that she had seen me now twice and told herself the last time she saw me that if it happened again, she had to introduce herself. She said that when she saw me in the nail salon that she wanted to say something but didn’t. I started laughing and told her how I had thought the same thing. We talked for a bit and swapped numbers.

Today, Jennifer (yes, she has a name) and I went to lunch. I texted her on Friday (yes, I actually initiated hanging out with someone) and made plans. She’s a Los Angeles native and knows all kinds of things about LA I would never know. We sat, talked, and ate for the better part of the afternoon. The best part of our time together was that I found out she loves Jesus. We opened up our lunch together in prayer and swapped stories back and forth to how we are where we are now.  I learned that I have a new friend with so many similarities in our backgrounds and stories. God is bringing me my community. And oh what a cool group of people they’re turning out to be.

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Infectiously Happy

“The only way to become infectiously happy, is to become infected with the love of God.”

No truer words have been said, my friend. When I started out on this journey, maybe I was a little naïve. Young, healthy, carefree, and moving to a new big city. Something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve realized, that’s not what this journey is about. I don’t want anyone to take away from this post that I’m depressed, because I’m not. I’ve learned a valuable lesson and I’d like to share it with you.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing a lot less. There are times I’ve wanted to sit down at a computer and type away. But when I’d sit down and begin to write, I couldn’t think for the life of me. I couldn’t find the words I wanted to say. I write all day at work and many times, the last thing I want to do is write when I get home. I shoved it off to that excuse many times. However, I realized there were other reasons I wasn’t writing.

This past month, I was in a full-fledged state of depression. I haven’t wanted to put it out there for fear that people would tell me to come home, or worry that I was alone out here. But let’s call a spade, a spade. I’ve struggled with depression for over 10 years. It’s something that has controlled so much of my life. It’s controlled how I live, how I see myself, how I think other people see me, how I love others, how I am loved. Depression is very real, and let me tell you something else, depression is very real in Christians.

Of course, I know people will say, “But Jordan, look at all God has done for your life, look at what He’s brought you through.” I know, trust me. Don’t you think that makes it worse? Let me tell you something, the battle of the mind can be a tough one to wage against.

In my solitude, living in a foreign place, not having the people I would normally run to for guidance has been terrifying. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to pack up all my stuff into a truck and run back home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God why He’s brought me out here, or why He’s allowing a certain situation to happen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in my closet (yes, weird I know) and sobbed my eyes out because this isn’t what I thought it was going to be like. In doing so, I began to lose myself. I began to let the enemy get a foothold.

That, my friends, is what you don’t want to do. I began to let him plant seeds of doubt in all aspects of my life. Every single one. I allowed the enemy to get the inside scoop instead of taking everything to God. When we lose sight of what God has for us, what He wants to do with us, everything else falls apart.

In allowing the devil a foothold, it casts a shadow of doubt on God’s plan for my life. I had let the lies sink in, and they were taking the place of who I was. I had seen this play out in my life several times over, and I was going to let it happen again. But here’s the thing the devil wasn’t planning on. I’ve grown. I’ve grown in wisdom, in discernment, and in God’s word. I’ve grown in knowing I am who God says I am. And that woman is beautifully created in God’s image. No matter how many situations arise that might tell me differently. I think that maybe this was the lesson God’s been trying to teach me.

I had a seizure last weekend that came out of nowhere. When I went to the hospital, they ran all kinds of tests, one being a spinal tap. The test came back clear, but I had complications that resulted in what is said to be the worst headache one can have. A spinal headache as a complication of a spinal tap. My spinal cavity was leaking spinal fluid, which meant that my brain had no buoyance to keep it “afloat.” The result was that my brain was resting on my spinal cord. Any time I sat up, my brain would shut down my senses. I would lose my hearing, my eyesight would go black, I couldn’t smell, I would throw up and my head would feel like it was crushing in on itself.

Most people get over it in about 24 hours, but of course, I didn’t. I was in excruciating pain. I begged God for someone to come put me out of my misery. People have committed suicide due to this headache, and looking back, I can understand why. I was forced to lay on my back or my side in complete silence, curtains drawn and eyes shut for an entire week. I’ve struggled with migraines, so I’m no stranger to head pain, but this was on a whole different level. To say that depression got the best of me is an understatement.

But here’s the redeeming part. While I was stuck lying on my back with my eyes shut, I experienced God in a way I’ve never been able to. Out of nowhere I would start repeating scripture out loud to myself. Reminding myself of who God is and what He is capable of. I started speaking life back into myself.

I started calling out the devil for what he was. A thief, a liar, a doubt-spreader. I began to rebuke him and bind him. I gave up my angry, doubtful, pessimistic thoughts and decided to turn to the one thing that I know has held true for me in all my years. And that was Christ.

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

I repeated this verse over and over again out loud. I decided to find joy in the midst of the trial. I’ve asked God along this journey that He would mature me and complete His work in me, and that my life would be an offering to Him. I had lost sight of that.

When we fix our eyes on anything but God, we will sink. Just like Peter sunk when he took his eyes off of Jesus while walking on water. In everything we do and everything we have happen to us, we have to remember to keep our eyes fixed on Christ. Without it, the waters around us will rise and we will sink. It’s inevitable. We can’t do anything on our own. Our strength doesn’t come from us, it comes from the man upstairs.

“ Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

I don’t have it all figured out. I’m not perfect. I fail everyday. I fail the people I love everyday. But what I’ve realized is that no matter how much I fail, God still loves me. When I had those depressed thoughts, God still loved me. When I didn’t love who I was, God still loved me. When I walked away from Him, He still loved me. I don’t say that as an excuse to fail. We shouldn’t be people who are ok with failure, but that doesn’t mean we condemn ourselves for our failures.

God is what should bring us our happiness and joy. Not people, not things, not circumstances. I want to be someone who is infectiously happy, at all times. I’m learning that the only way to do that is to be completely infected with the love of Christ. And in order to be completely infected, my eyes have to be on Him at all times. No matter what’s going on around me.

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Mothers and Daughters

Mothers and Daughters.. yeah I said it. That’s what this post is about. It’s a touchy subject for some and others find no problem talking about it. I didn’t ask my mom’s permission before writing this post, but I think she’ll understand. =)

First off, I will start off by saying how much I love and appreciate my mother. We have grown tremendously other the several years in our relationship and oh what a joy, despite the hard times, it has been. I’m sure a lot of you will laugh at this because, come on, there were points I think a lot of people didn’t see it happening. For a many years my mom and eye didn’t see eye to eye. We fought, we argued and we just couldn’t communicate. Relationships are hard. And learning how to navigate them is even harder.

I remember sitting in a counseling appointment together about 3 (maybe more) years ago in Sanibel. We were taking a Myer’s Briggs personality test to see where we were the same and where we were different. As I look back on this, I laugh. By the end of the session we learned that were completely different. I am an ENFJ. And she, well she was everything opposite. We were about as opposite as you could go on the spectrum. Leaving that appointment, I felt defeated. That chart had told me that there was no way on this earth that my mother and I would naturally understand each other. We didn’t perceive, feel, sense, understand things in the same way and that, was the reason we would never be friends.

I lived into that for a while. I had decided that the reason my mom and I didn’t understand each other was because we were just different and that was never going to change. I was frustrated that even when I did try to do something in a way she would “feel” it, it wasn’t reciprocated. I think she would tell you the same. I would look at my friends and their relationships with their mothers and I would get jealous, envious. I would see them hanging out with their mothers and ENJOYING it. I couldn’t comprehend it. I also didn’t understand why my relationship couldn’t be like that.

My mom and I are different. That is definitely true. We are different on all kinds of levels and honestly, if we had met in high school, we probably wouldn’t have become friends. BUT, my mom and I did have one commonality, one that transcends all the physical. My mom and I both love Jesus and we are both women of God. Over the past two years, my life has had some crazy ups and downs. Both good and bad. Both positions I put myself in, and other’s I found myself in that I did nothing to make happen. Throughout that time, I witnessed my mother love me past our physical differences and “test” results. I witnessed my mother love me with the love of Christ. Having always struggled with the sense of not being loved and not belonging, only amplified by the fact that I’m adopted; this was a light-bulb moment.

Throughout the entire process I learned that when you love others with God’s love, it doesn’t matter what the world says. It might not make sense. Two people, who are completely different, might find companionship with each other. And that type of love, is without condition. But that’s just how God works. We’re all a bunch of misfits with issues and past hurts that keep us from loving each other with a higher type of love.

I am finally in a place, at 24 years old, that I can say I love my mother and I am thankful to have a FRIENDSHIP with her. As a daughter, a woman, but most importantly, a sister in Christ.

I just FaceTimed with my mother for 3 hours. How thankful I am for technology because it felt like I just had lunch with my mom. During which that time I talked her ear off, and she listened. We just talked, like friends would talk. Had someone told me this would happen two plus years ago I would have laughed at them and their lack of insight into our relationship. God’s love is supernatural and goes beyond the walls of our tiny little human brains. Once we are able to feel and understand God’s love, we can more easily receive it from others. My mom has taught me that.

 So mom, I’m thankful for you. As your daughter and as your friend. When I show it and when I fail at showing you. Thank you for raising me to love Jesus. That has been the best gift I could have ever received from my parents. I value you and your opinion, even when I don’t agree. Thank you for loving me with God’s kind of love. I’m thankful I’m your daughter.

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Thank you..

Wow… all I can say is thank you. The support I received from my last blog post absolutely took my breath away. The texts, messages, emails, calls were so appreciated. Honestly, I’m just writing from my heart. I’ll let you in on a little secret, before I write a blog post, I pray. I pray that it would be God’s words flowing through me and that He would guide my fingertips.

With that being said, due to the response, I think I’m going to continue sharing certain parts of my testimony with everyone on this blog. It’s important to know where someone’s been to understand why they have the conviction they do. I’m going to be honest, though.. the stuff in my life isn’t pretty. My past is not pretty. I’ve made my own mistakes and I’ve also been dished out some pretty nasty stuff. I’ve learned though, that it’s all a part of living in this fallen world. I’ve only let you see the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t want to share too much on here, because I plan on writing a book, hopefully in the near future. I can’t give away everything. =) But I’ve realized that as I’ve been writing this blog and been experiencing things on this journey, so many of those things tie into my past. Whether that’s being delivered from something, something that challenges me, confronts me, hurts me, excites me, or even scares me.

Over the next several posts, I’m going to share with you the last six years of my life. I’m choosing the last six because I believe these years were the time that God was molding me and preparing me for this season in my life. The last six years will span from the time around August of 2008 until present day. The end of this sixth year will be in August. God has given me signs and shown me that this next year, the seventh year, will be a year of rest. I can’t wait for that season. I’m sure it won’t look like how I imagine it, though. It never does haha.

Thank you for letting me take you on this journey with me. This blog has been an amazing way to feel connected to all those back at home even when I can’t hug you. Look out later this week for another post.. things are about to heat up.


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Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

I’m getting a new tattoo. Yes you heard me right. I’m getting a new tattoo (I’m sure my mother is delighted to hear this ;-)) . I’m already pretty tatted, but I love ink and I love the stories that they tell. I’ll be getting a partial, if not full sleeve on my left arm. It’s going to be a visual image of the verses Matthew 5:13-16. Those are my life verses. A town on a hill that cannot be hidden, salt of the earth, shining my light for the world so they can see my Father in Heaven. These will all be incorporated. Unlike all of my previous pieces though, this piece will be in color. The reasoning is in this post.

I’ve been working on this piece since December 2011, during my senior year of college. From December 2011 through July of 2012, I experienced some pretty life-altering events. During my fall semester, I had been dealing with horrible migraine episodes. They would come three times a month and stay for 72 hours each time. The migraines were a result of a horrific car accident I was in right after my brother passed away, where I dislocated my shoulder and tore muscles in my neck on my right side.

These migraines were intrusive. I would spend days at a time cooped up inside my apartment, curtains drawn, sitting in the dark, under my covers and vomiting every time I’d try to take a bite of food. I was a recluse. I didn’t come out of my house except to go to class. People thought that I had left IU and transferred schools. When they’d see me out on campus, they ask where I had been and where all my weight had gone. I wanted to hide! I went from 168 pounds to 98 pounds in a matter of 3 months. The doctors tried all different types of medicine, natural and prescribed, but nothing seemed to work. They finally put me on a medicine called Topirimate that I thought was working.

Instead, this medicine had disastrous consequences. What I didn’t know, was that this medicine sent me into a state of psychosis from January 2012 until I was detoxed in March 2012. My heart rate wouldn’t fall below 108 BPM during that time, my appetite was non-existent, I became anorexic as a result of this medication. To be completely honest, I wanted to kill myself. I was low, one of the lowest points I have ever been in my life. I was stuck in my own head, it was as if I saw everything through a chiffon curtain, nothing was clear, my memories were obscured, school-work was piling up and professors were beginning to ask questions. I’ve always struggled with depression and anxiety, which are two generational curses that I have been in prayer for years to be broken.

But when I was in this place, I had no idea I was in this place. The medicine took over, and I was functioning like a robot. I was in a relationship at the time. For the most part, a healthy relationship, but this test and trial was taking away any happiness, even in that. I don’t remember much during that time, only very small little pieces of my life during those three months. Memories come in flashes, but they’re very foggy. For the most part, I remember nothing. Only what my friends and family saw of me.

Around the middle of March, I had lost it. I was going off the deep end. I was starting to realize that I wasn’t ok. I’m not sure if this was because of my prayers or others’ for me, but I kept asking God to show me what was wrong because I didn’t feel like myself. I remember I was sitting in my car after a really heated argument with my boyfriend at the time about why I was acting so weird, and all I could think of was that I wanted to run my car into a brick wall. I wanted to pull my hair out.

My body that I had loved so much was no longer the same body I remembered. I had chopped off all of my hair in the middle of the night one night because it was too heavy for my head during my migraine episode. I no longer had nice boobs and a butt, I was skin and bone, I was hairless, and my mind was mush. I had to buy a foam topper for my mattress because I was too skinny to sleep in my bed without one. I had no self-esteem, I didn’t think I was beautiful, my mind was a mess and my body was failing me. I was no longer me. I didn’t want to live.

Something in that moment before I put my foot on the accelerator, told me to call my mother. And oh does a mother know best. She asked me if I was ok and I simply responded, “Yes.” LIES LIES LIES that was the other voice I heard in my head right then. I hung up the phone with my mom. Turned off my car, went inside my house and sat on my bed. I remember sitting there cross-legged and sensing myself. Praying. I could feel my heart humming like a hummingbird in my chest because it was beating so hard. I called my mom back and said, “No mom, I’m not OK.” She said that she knew I wasn’t and asked if I could drive myself to the hospital. I told her yes and she stayed on the phone with me the entire way. Once I got there I went to the triage desk and told them that I was on Topirimate and that I was having suicidal thoughts. The nurse looked at me with such compassion and quickly started getting a room ready for me. “It’s ok, you’re safe, this has happened before, you’re not the first,” she said quietly to me as she led me to the bed.

I was admitted into the hospital onto a locked floor where they sent me through a detox of this medicine. It’s said that being detoxed from Topirimate can be like detoxing from heroin or speed. I remember laying in my bed that night throwing up, foaming at the mouth shaking and pleading for it to be over, while the woman next to me was detoxing from a meth binge. When I finally went to sleep after 14 hours of what felt like death, I slept for 15 hours. I don’t remember much of that, but I remember that I felt like I had just run two full marathons.

The nurse who had checked me in once I arrived on the 5th floor was a sweet woman. At the time I could’ve cared less, I was handcuffed to a wheelchair and being sent to a locked floor with crazy people. She asked if I went to church and if I was in counseling. I remembered telling her yes and my church and counselor’s name. She said, “Oh I just love Susan, she’s a peach. She goes to my church.” I think I might have even rolled my eyes and asked her to finish asking me questions. But I knew there was something special about this woman. Her name was Nurse Nancy and she would be my night nurse for the next two weeks while I was in the hospital. She soon became my guardian angel.

When I finally woke up after the first 30 hours, I stumbled to the bathroom down the hall and looked in the mirror, something I hadn’t done in 5 months. I didn’t recognize the woman staring back at me. I had no idea that I had cut my hair until that moment, dark circles surrounded my eyes and my cheeks were sunken in. My arms were the size of rolling pins and my thighs had a 3-inch gap in between them (not the sexy kind).

Over the next two weeks Nancy and I became BFF’s. I’d look forward to when she would arrive at her shift at 8pm, and many times she would arrive early to sit and talk to me. One day she came into my room and saw that I was rocking back and forth on my bed, the medicine still running it’s course through my body, anxiety was taking over. She sat down next to me and asked if I had a Bible with me. She took it, opened it up, and started reading verses to me that she said helped her through a rough time.

The first was Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

And the second was Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 She did not know my calling, nor did she know my story. She just told me that a year ago from that point in her life, she wouldn’t have been able to do what she was doing, she wouldn’t have been able to sit and minister to me in that moment because she was in my shoes a year ago. She prayed with me, hugged me, and then sang to me as I fell asleep. Like I said she was my guardian angel.

I was released from the hospital after two weeks and finally returned back to classes. It took longer than normal to let me out because I didn’t have an appetite and they wouldn’t discharge me until I would eat three meals a day without being sat with by a nurse. I was in the last semester of my senior year of college and two weeks in the hospital was not a good look. The day I got out, my boyfriend at that time came over to my house and he ended things. I felt abandoned and I was heartbroken, but I knew it was for the best. I had a lot of self-discovery to do. I didn’t love myself and I needed to start.

But that’s how God works. Sometimes He has to take us to the very bottom in order to bring us to the place He wants us. Sometimes we get so covered and controlled by outside influences, by vanity and looking for a pill to cure everything that we don’t realize what we’re missing.  I was broken, I felt empty, but I had Jesus. The other amazing part of Matthew chapter 5 is the beatitudes. During this time, God continued to show me that I needed to be more like these in order to be closer to Him. Matthew 5:1-3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

I was all of those things. For me, this was a major turning point and realized this was something that would only add to my story. I began to see how God was giving me this amazing testimony that covered so many bases and could speak to so many people. I began, for the first time in my life, to be thankful that God had called me to be different, that He had called me to, “shine my light.”

Originally when I had received the calling over my life in December 2009, this verse, Matthew 5:16, was spoken over me three times by 3 different people who didn’t know each other each who reaffirmed my calling in the exact same words. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post. One woman who did this was on the airplane next to me on my flight home and randomly asked to pray for me. This verse has shown up in crazy times. God has continuously used this verse to point out my path and calling.

These verses are some of the reasons I knew I was supposed to move to California. That God knew I was supposed to be called out, supposed to be a light shining in a dark place. That I was supposed to be a city on a hill, one that could never be hidden.

 But with this amazing realization there’s crazy change and transition. That’s why I want to use color. I’ve always been a black and white type of person. In every aspect of my life. And I’ve reflected that in my tattoos. While some patterns are good (my faith, my dreams, my passions, having a clean apartment and everything having it’s place), others have created some pretty awful patterns (stubbornness, not branching out, going with the known).

Already in this move, I’ve learned to break some of these. To go beyond my norms and comfort zone. To completely rid myself of what I know and step into the unknown. God has been up to something ever since He told me to “go” and hasn’t stopped showing me that this is what He’s asking of me, no matter how uncomfortable. And there’s so much beauty in that. That God knows how the puzzle will come together. That in all of the craziness that is life, God has a plan. And when it comes together, it’s a work of art. A testimony to His faithfulness and beauty. That He loves His children more than anything else, and that He is for me.

All of my tattoos have intense meaning.  They represent events, times, transitions, change, and life lessons. They’ve been a way for me to share my faith in the most unconventional ways to so many people. I’m proud of my ink, they tell my story. Don’t ever judge a book by it’s cover because sometimes those things you’re judging are the very thing that someone else needs to hear that could just plant the seed to their salvation. Our lives are testimonies to all that God is up to.. not just my own testimony, but every single person’s.

 Please feel free to like, share or re-blog this on your account. Make sure credit is given where it’s due, but I don’t mind you sharing my story. That’s what it’s for.