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Monday, December 14, 2015

Love Letters Are More Than Slips of Paper

I haven't written very many love letters. It's something I've always wanted to do but now that I'm dating, I find that I don't know what to say. It's a process.

But love letters are so much more than mushy, elegant words printed cleanly on that perfect paper. It's all about the meaning behind the words. They aren't always meant for proclamations of romantic love. It's not a single definition concept.

I wrote a love letter about a month ago in the form of a song. It's one of my coping mechanisms. It's one of the ways I grieve.

I know some of you might wonder why I still grieve over Dallas's mom's death. I hadn't spent a lot of time with her and she wasn't even my mom yet. I still have my wonderful Mommy who is very much alive and well.

I still grieve because I am constantly reminded of the relationship I will never be able to have with her. I grieve because of the hurt her friends and family still and always will feel, even if it dulls after a while. I grieve because that is the best way I can show her my respect. That doesn't mean I sit in solemn weeping constantly. But I respect her by grieving through remembering what I know of her and loving her family in their time of need.

And occasionally shedding a few tears as well.

So, I wrote her a love letter in the form of a song. I know she can hear it in heaven. (Yes, I know this is something parents tell their little kids to make them feel better. I can be a little kid sometimes still.)


Did you think that I was pleasant; that I had a nice smile?
Did you that I could hold my own even when life got wild?
Would you laugh with me for hours on end until we couldn't breathe?

Did you think that I was honest; that I would keep my word?
Did you think that I'd stay by his side no matter what I heard?
Did you think that I'd still hold his hand even when life got hard?

So I promise to take care of him even when my strength is gone.
And I promise to love him even when the days get long
And I promise to prove to you I'll support him faithfully. 
Until the next time I see you...

You'll have your own wings. You'll shine and you'll smile and you'll laugh for a while.
You won't be in pain. Your soul is at home and you won't be alone.
You'll take me on the royal tour, pulling me along. 
I'll tell you all about our life that you've watched from afar.
And then I'll come in close for the hug we've both been waiting for.
And maybe then I'll hear you say, "My daughter, welcome home."

Did you think I'd make him happy; that I could make him whole?
Did you think that I'd be good for him, that I could mend his soul?
Did you think that I would make you proud to call me family?

So I promise to take care of him even when my strength is gone.
And I promise to love him even when the days get long
And I promise to prove to you I'll support him faithfully. 
Until the next time I see you...

You'll have your own wings. You'll shine and you'll smile and you'll laugh for a while.
You won't be in pain. Your soul is at home and you won't be alone.
You'll take me on the royal tour, pulling me along. 
I'll tell you all about our life that you've watched from afar.
And then I'll come in close for the hug we've both been waiting for.
And maybe then I'll hear you say, "My daughter, welcome home."

This pain inside my heart will never go away.
It may only dull with time but the emptiness remains.
These questions they'll always burn deep inside my mind;
Not knowing what you'd say if you could only reply.
I never thought I'd lose you. I never thought I'd miss you.
I never thought I'd need you like I do.

So I promise to take care of him even when my strength is gone.
And I promise to love him even when the days get long
Mom, I promise to prove to you I'll support him faithfully. 
Until the next time I see you...

You'll have your own wings. You'll shine and you'll smile and you'll laugh for a while.
You won't be in pain. Your soul is at home and you won't be alone.
You'll take me on the royal tour, pulling me along. 
I'll tell you all about our life that you've watched from afar.
And then I'll come in close for the hug we've both been waiting for.
And maybe then I'll hear you say...

"You have your own wings. You shine from your smile, so stay and laugh for a while.
You have no more pain. You're finally home and you'll never be alone.
I'll take you on the royal tour, pulling you along.
You'll tell me all about your life I have watched from afar.
And then I'll pull you close for the hug that I've been longing for.
And then I'll finally get to say, 'My daughter, welcome home.'"

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It still hurts

Dear Mom,

It's been a month now...so why isn't the pain any better? Your own son has accepted your death better than I have. Why does it still bring tears to my eyes some days?

I guess it's because there are years of memories that suddenly disappeared that morning you went to heaven. Dallas has almost twenty-two years of memories to look back on and smile about...I have an empty shelf. All those memories have been transferred to the "what if" section.

I'm trying to be a big girl and not focus on all those what ifs and can't haves. I want you in my life...I want you back because I never really felt like I'd gotten to the point where I felt like we were a part of each other's family. I've heard so many people claim me as family and tell me that I was a daughter to you, but I wish I could have heard you say it.

I'll work on being patient. I promise. There are a lot of things I keep promising you. God, give me the strength to keep these promises.

Until next time Mom.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pray without ceasing

I haven't changed my profile picture to the colors of France to match everyone else. I know that this does nothing to improve the situation.

Instead, it is my visual reminder to pray for the country of France, the people affected, and those affected by similar tragedies across the world. For once, I'm not just conforming to look good or so that people don't think I'm heartless (because I know people will think that). And if you don't feel right changing your picture, then don't! By all means, don't follow suit because you don't people to judge or condemn you. All I am doing is expressing my thoughts behind my decision. Everyone will have different reasons, different convictions. It's a matter of the heart, not of how it looks to other people. It's a matter of prayer, not public image.

This is my way of showing my support in hopes that it changes one person's life. I will pray not only for France, but for the souls of those responsible, that they may one day see the light. I will pray for the world, as we grapple with this spirit of evil that refuses to give up.

I am greatly saddened by these events and honestly, they make me sick to my stomach. But that means nothing to those who now have an empty place setting at Christmas. There is nothing I can physically do to make this better. (And guess what, revenge isn't really the answer.)

All I can do is show my support in the simplest way that I can; by wearing my red, white and blue. The answer is love and surrender and complete brokenness before the Father. No, I don't need this "temporary profile picture" to do that. I don't need it to make others think well of me.

I didn't do this for others. I did this for me. So that I would pray. And I would pray every time I saw my picture.

God is good, and He has won the war, even though some of the battles seem to be missing His victory. He has won and I will praise Him in the midst of the storm for the people who did not die in these attacks in France, Kenya, and anywhere else in the world.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I have decided...

I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.

No turning back.

That statement means more than just staying true to faith in Jesus and not giving up on the salvation you know he has given you. Saying you won't turn back from following Jesus also means you won't cease pursuing Him. Something I have not been good at doing.

Forgive me Father, for I have strayed...I have strayed from your presence. I don't practice what I preach and I have turned back from following you so many times because I didn't "have time" or I just didn't want to.

Oh God, I only need you. You're my hero, my first love, my first responder, even if I don't dial 911 right away.

God, I praise you that you have never given up on me, that you have remained by my side even when I haven't given you the attention you so desire.

I want to seek Christ with all I have: all my energy, my love, my mind. No matter the obstacles of laziness and mediocrity that plague me every day of my life. I need more Jesus in my life.

But that means I have to consciously make an effort.

No good grade or affirming word could ever measure up to the very presence of God in my life. I need His strength to get through each and every day.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sealed with Love

Dear "Mom",

No, your son and I aren't engaged or married yet, but I wanted to call you Mom, just once. The morning you passed from this world, we all lost someone. A mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a coworker, an inspiration. You changed so many lives and so many worlds that it brings a tearful smile to my face. Well done, good and faithful servant. :)

In the moment, I was so caught up in wanting to make sure your son was okay that it didn't even cross my mind what I had lost that morning. One day, you were going to watch Dallas and I get married and I would get to look you in the eyes and proudly proclaim you were my mom too.

I lost my mother-in-law that Saturday morning.

I lost the chance to watch you and Dallas have your mother-son dance at our wedding. We'll never get to surprise you when we announce we're going to have our first child. I'll never get to hand our first baby to you and watch your reaction. Not that I was planning to, but I'll never get to "dread dinner with the mother-in-law". I'll never get to ask you for advice on living with your son when we get married or ask for your advice when the going gets tough.

There are so many memories we cannot have.

But I promise, that I will take care of your son. I promise that we will raise our kids to remember you and to have a little bit of you in them. (They have to be goofy to survive this world!) I promise that I will celebrate who you have been said to be. I will listen to the stories about your life and remember them.

I promise I will try to be a daughter-in-law you can be proud of. I promise I will strive every day to be good for your son. He loves you very much. Although I know you know that.

Thank you for taking such good care of Dallas. Thank you for being the wonderfully supportive person I've heard you to be. I hope to be half the woman that you were when I grow up.

Save a spot for me next to the banquet table, so we can catch up when I join you in heaven, whenever God decides that is.

I love you Mom. I hope you know that, even though I never got to tell you.

Love,

Angelica

Monday, October 5, 2015

Joy Sprouts from Tragedy

Amidst the tragedy of the Oregon community college shooting, I can praise God. No, this was not a pleasant or positive event by any means or anything superficially happy. Yet, I can still praise God for His grace. For His power. For His love. For His work.

I could be angry for such blatant persecution to happen "on our soil, on American soil". I could shake my fist at God asking Him why he brought something so horrible to our country. I could be furious that someone could be so overcome by hate for someone of another faith that they would be driven to kill specific people just because of their God.

Or I could praise God for the bravery and faith of the individuals.

Those who died are modern martyrs. They understood what their faith meant; they understood taking up their cross and sacrificing their plans for the perfect plans of the Father. They looked death straight in the eyes and still were willing to proclaim their faith.

This is the kind of Christian I have been called to be, and the kind I long to be. The kind I need to be.

When I signed up to be a Christian, I signed up to have no rights. I gave up my rights when I surrendered my life to Jesus. I signed up to follow Jesus no matter the cost. No matter the cost.

That's what the students in Oregon  were willing to do. They were going to follow Jesus until death. And that is what they did. For that, I can praise God. He brought many true disciples into His kingdom last week, and even though they were taken from us in such a horrific way, they ultimately won because they got to see their King.

My heart weeps for their families, but I pray they find the joy in the end of the grace of the Father.

Monday, September 28, 2015

On Worship

Worship. It's that attitude where we connect with God. Usually we enter this mentality through singing. Or simply through music.

This is not a group activity. Yes, fellowship with believers in a spirit of worship is necessary and vital to our spiritual growth, but that doesn't make worship purely a group activity.

Worship is between you and God.

When I worship, when I truly worship, I go into another world. I'm in a bubble; a town population 2: God and I. If I let myself step into this attitude of worship, I can't help but dance. I have to move. I have to worship Him with all of me. I don't care what other people think of me. I have to use my whole body to praise my Creator.

And if you have a problem with that, then your focus has shifted from the One who truly matters. When you go into the true spirit of worship, you may be overcome with a feeling of needing to be still. Maybe you have to kneel. Maybe you have to simply sit and soak Him in.

But if we are watching others worship and thinking of their reactions as distracting, then our head isn't right. Our spirit isn't well. The spirit of distraction has a very different feeling.

Let God rip through each individual's spirit of worship how He is going to. Don't be like Michal, David's wife, and order an individual so deep in the presence of God to stop reacting so physically to the glory and power of God.

Worship is a holy, holy mindset. We shouldn't mess with that. We have no right to claim control over the moving of the Almighty God. Sure, some people may have a messy way of worship, dancing in the aisle or wailing loudly over the singers, but that doesn't mean they're attention seekers. They have been overcome by the beautiful, frightening presence of God and they have to give Him all of them.

I want to worship God with all of me, no matter what other people may think. Because He is perfect.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Summit Prayer

Dear God,

I want you to wreck me as I pour into Summit. This is your work that you're allowing me to be a part of and I am truly blessed by it. I don't want to take this for granted.

When I play, I don't want to congregation to walk out of your presence talking about me. I don't want comments like, "That violin though" to be the focus of their thoughts. I want them to talk about the amazing things you did in that auditorium and how you revealed your truths and love to them.

I want every student in that room to be so focused on You that all they see and hear is You. I want to be both musically and spiritually prepared for every single note you have called me to play.

I long to meet you in every phrase, in every melody, in every harmony, and in every rest. I long for the worship team to be so unified in your grace and will that nothing else matters but you.

I want to walk out of each Summit service a different woman. I want to grow closer to you, to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Just because I'm a part of the worship team doesn't mean I have it all together. I still need you. I want you to be all I need, but most of all I need you to be all I want.

Your will be done.

Your daughter,

Angelica Rose

Friday, September 4, 2015

I am a radical

I'm a woman who believes women should stop trying to do everything men do. I'm an American that isn't a strong supporter for complete equal rights. I'm a Christian who will still shop at Target and go to Starbucks for the pumpkin spice latte (but not that often because I'm a poor college student).

I guess you can say I'm a radical.

Because I believe in God. I have put my hope and life in someone bigger than anything on this earth. I'm choosing my battles. And He's the only one who can fight them.

So go ahead, call me a radical. Call me crazy. Call me old-fashioned. I'm cool with that.

If my enemy is hungry, I'll feed him. I'll give him a snack. You could say that means I'm helping him put food on his table. Just because someone holds a different view than me or cuts me down because of my own doesn't mean they are any less of a person. They are just as valuable.

Besides, who am I to determine someone's worth? Who gave any human the right to determine the worth of someone's life based on their views and their faith and their lifestyle? That is not my job.

That is not my place.

I am a hypocrite who doesn't always practice what I preach. I am selfish and I don't always want to put other's before myself. I am human and I make mistakes.

But I am loved by God. And so are you.

Don't like that? You don't have to take it. But He loves you just as He loves me. And He died for us. Soooo...

He's a radical too.

So that's where I get it. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Christians are turning into Americans

Guys, we've been doing this wrong.

The church...Christians...have started to blend in with Americans. Maybe not outwardly as much, but inwardly.

We treat Jesus like a waiter. We call him over, give him our order list of wants, stipulations, and the occasional "Your Will be done" stuff, when really we have in our mind exactly how we want it...forget that "chef's specialty" crap. And then we send Him on His way to deliver the requests to God.

And we wait.

He doesn't always bring results when we want or expect or think is time appropriate. Sometimes the result is "wrong" and we sulk about it for a while.

And we feel it's okay to get frustrated and leave His house without leaving a tip; without our sacrifice.

Guys, since when did Christians act like impatient, selfish Americans? It burdens me to know I've treated Christ, the Holiest, in the same way that ignites such a furious passion in me when restaurant servers are cut down. I don't want to treat God in a way that puts Him on the same level as a slave. Christ came to be a servant, sure...but that doesn't mean I have the right to treat Him like dirt when He doesn't answer my prayers the way I want Him to.

God puts up with so much because He loves us. I want to treat Him with the love and respect He deserves. I need to.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

This Post Isn't Politically Correct

Okay folks, it's time to sit down on some ice blocks and cool down. This whole equal rights, free speech, marriage equality gobbledy gook has gotten completely out of hand and some very important, priceless bridges have been unnecessarily burned up.

This is the first, and probably only, time I will ever rant about anything political on my blog. I don't claim to know diddly squat about politics and that's mostly by choice. (I may change that starting today though.) I know what I'm going to say isn't going to sit well with some of you. Some of you may stop reading halfway through. I ask, no, I plead with you to read until the end. No, you don't have to agree with me. I'm not aiming to force my views on you. All I want is for you to see my thoughts of what I know of these current events to broaden your mind so you can understand how to stand up for your own even better.

And if I happen to cause you to think differently about something, cool! I mean, who doesn't like to feel like they have something important to say?

To start with, all this "don't judge me" and "only God can judge me" stuff is used too much. Yes, only God can actually judge you in a matter that counts for anything. My judgment of you is going to have no lasting affect on your life. However, we are human beings, we are supposed to make judgments. That's how we make decisions on what is right and wrong. That's how first impressions are made. That's how we decide who we want to hang out with. It's what we do with those judgments that makes the difference.

To quote Edna Mode (from Pixar's The Incredibles), "Pull yourself together!" In your mad dash to declare yourself equal to others, you've forgotten how treat people with an equal concept of love. Does it have to be a competition? Is that how everything is going to be in our society? I'm honestly waiting for a new reality t.v. show called "Are You More Equal than a Fifth Grader?" or a "Miss Most Equal Pageant". Sorry, it would be a gender neutral, "Most Equal Pageant". Well, I'm sure it would be much more politically correct. (Don't get me started on "politically correct"...)

So equal rights. I personally do not believe in equal rights. And you say, "College girl ranting about society on a blog say what? This is America, land of the free, home of the brave!" Yes, yes, I know where I live thank you. Freedom is a little different from equal rights though.

Freedom: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Equality: the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

Rights: legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement.

Do you see it? Freedom is power; equal rights are revolved around entitlement. Yes, they are similar, but it's the attitude behind each that makes the difference.

As a Christian, I believe that equal rights don't exist. First of all, God is definitely higher than humans; His authority trumps all. We were made in His image, not vice versa. Secondly, God established a hierarchy. There were rulers, judges, masters, When Jacob and Esau were born, He said, "The older shall serve the younger." Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. Children are told to honor their parents. We are not equal, and that's okay.

In our country's intense fight for equal rights, some simpler solutions have been overlooked. I guess it's for drama's sake. For example, if a cake shop doesn't want to provide a cake for a gay wedding, then they're told they have the "right" to discriminate like that. Huh? If the cake shop won't make a cake for your wedding, go somewhere else! Is it really that hard? (I guess if you live in a small town with one shop, then that gets harder.) Don't treat the owners of the shop with such a nasty attitude defending your rights while they're trying to exercise their own rights to their beliefs. Isn't that what freedom is? (If you've forgotten, see the above definition.)

Is stating our beliefs really causing someone else's "rights" to become less important? If that's your "rights self esteem" level, then you really need to do some reevaluating.

If I am thinking of this correctly, stating our beliefs and views is the same as free speech right? Free speech is a beautiful thing...until someone offends you or disagrees with you. News flash: there are over 7 billion people on this planet. They aren't all going to agree with or like what you say. So get over it.

Trust me, I hate it too. But I have to consciously choose in every conversation to be the bigger person and respond respectfully when I'm offended. Fighting fire with fire just makes more fire. Fighting fire with water has a better success rate. Just ask firefighters.

The other day, one of my coworkers used very foul language in a conversation that I didn't appreciate. I proceeded to use a nerdy movie quote to let her know I didn't appreciate it. Her response: "Hey, this is America right? Free speech!" I quickly responded with, "So, then I have the free speech to tell you if I'm offended." She seemed surprised by my response.

I don't think most people realize how free speech ought to work. No, it does not say this anywhere in the Constitution, but free speech goes hand in hand with respect. You have the freedom to hold and state your opinions and beliefs as do other people.

But get this, free speech is not, I repeat, IS NOT the freedom to enforce your thoughts and words on others to shut them down in disrespect. That is manipulation and dictating. And last I checked, we didn't like leaders that did that. So why do we do that?

But that's often our first response: disrespect and hatred. Take prayer in schools for example. Bibles were banned in schools and kids are discouraged from praying out loud in the public school systems because some people felt the church didn't belong in schools. They were offended by the visible declaration of faith. But...other faiths and beliefs are encouraged to be shown and paraded around such as the LGBT movement and evolution. (Yes, evolution counts as a faith because you're still believing in something that no one witnessed and you're counting on science being right.)

Actors and athletes are looked down upon for religious faiths that they share, but if someone wants to change their sex, they are brave and praised. Both have executed their rights to free speech, but neither are treated equally. Isn't that what the whole fight is for? Equal rights and freedom of speech?

We are a country of hypocrites. Yes, that's a we. I include myself in that. I'm not always good at practicing what I preach. I've definitely gotten frustrated with people and considered their opinions dumb or inaccurate. I'm not proud of myself.

Finally, marriage equality. If you've made it this far, thank you! I know this is a long post and I'm sure I've offended someone along the way. I genuinely am sorry if I have. That was not my intent. I am not meaning to attack any specific person. This is simply my moment to express my views and frustrations with where our society is heading. I'm working on getting over the fact that I'm not going to please everyone or impress all who read this. And I know some people will really let me know that they disagree.

After all, who doesn't like the idea of being praised for being a genius and innovative?

Marriage equality is tricky. As a Christian, I cannot condone the behavior. God stated in both the Old and the New Testaments that gay behavior is wrong. God condemns sexual immorality. In Ephesians, Paul quotes Genesis saying, "For this reason a man will leave hiss father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." I don't know about you, but that's one of the few times I have seen the Bible be gender specific when talking about the general population.

Now, did you catch what I said before? I cannot condone the behavior. Behavior. Behavior is not a person (unless some celebrity decides to be cool and name their baby Behavior.) I don't hate gay people. God doesn't hate gay people. It's the sin we hate. I don't hate liars or thieves, but I hate that they lie or steal.

In God's eyes, my disrespect of my parents is as bad as murder. Both are forbidden by God and both separate man from Him. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." He's not being exclusive here to a rating of sins. They all are sins, so they all are bad. The difference is repentance. I have to repent daily of my sins I commit and ask for forgiveness because I am not perfect. I can be a Christian who knows Christ and devote my life to Him, be disrespectful to my parents and still go to heaven, but I'd be stubbornly living in my sin. Romans 6:1-2 says, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" My salvation does not give me an excuse to keep doing the same sin over and over with no inkling of guilt. It's still sin.

So, Angel, what does this have to do with the political view of gay marriage and why you're talking about it, you ask.

You see, it's all connected. My religious view gets insulted for disagreeing with the gay agenda and in that, my belief that marriage is between one man and one woman is discredited. Is our new view of equality? Can equality really be possible? It's all a great idea...a beautiful concept really, and I wish I could believe in it. But I've read too many utopian novels to see that pure equality just gets overthrown just like inequal societies.

To have equal rights, you have to have no sense of right and wrong. And if we have no sense of right or wrong, our society is doomed to self-destruction.

Whoa Angel! Simmer down there! Way to be all doom and gloom...we're the land of opportunities remember?

I'm sorry, but think with me for a minute. If we as a society has agreed that the LGBT movement is indeed born in you and is a behavior you can't ignore, then can't kleptomaniacs and sociopaths technically make those same arguments?

Doesn't that make your skin crawl...

Equal rights is something I want so much to believe in. I'm sick of the conflict, the riots, the wars, the hatred that's spreading. I can't stand how many nasty words are being passed around by our citizens. But you know what? I honestly think it really started all the way back to the feminism movement...or maybe even women's suffrage. None of these things are particularly bad. People are standing up for their beliefs and being brave and that is commendable! But sometimes things get way out of control and there's no corralling it.

Society has made big strides in America, both good and bad. I wonder what our founding fathers would think of our current view and response to equal rights. I have a feeling it's not quite what they envisioned.

There, my rant is over. If you jump up and down and shout "Amen!", fine. If you walk away steaming mad, fine. If you show me some decent rebuttals to my arguments, whether respectfully or not, fine.

But please, don't walk away completely. I may not agree with you and vice versa, but that shouldn't deter you from being a friend. If I was looking for people I always agreed with, I wouldn't have any friends. I've made that mistake before, cutting of friendships because they held different views than me over issues I thought were deal breakers. But that was immature of me. Please don't make the same mistake, whether with me or someone else.

That's how we grow, by standing up for we believe in, by disagreeing sometimes, but also by listening respectfully to the views of others and choosing to still love them.

I think we'd be more successful if we did that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Israelite Days

Some of you may have seen my status on Facebook and quirked your heads. "Huh? How is she an Israelite?"

Allow to me shed a little light on the subject. *dramatically pulls light chain* (That's from a movie...do you know which one?)

I was reading through Psalm 78 the other night and was profoundly stunned. The author continuously spoke of the Israelites and how they would constantly forget how God had performed miraculous signs and delivered them out of Egypt, even the generation that was there for that event. The whole first part of the Psalm is all about how we need to teach the future generations of all the good things the Lord has done so that they will keep His commands and they would put their trust in Him.  That's the goal. That's what Sunday School and family devotion time is meant for.

But verse eight says: They would not be like their ancestors—a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him." It goes on to say that the people had forgotten what God had done in the presence of their ancestors. The author outlines what God did...all those amazing miracles and signs like the parting of the red sea and the pillar of fire and how He broke the rocks in the desert to provide them with water to quench their thirst.

"But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved." (Psalm 78:17, 18)

It didn't stop. They were never satisfied. They wanted more and more, ignoring the beautiful things God had done previously. Their doubt and their arrogant attitudes angered God, "for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance." (verse 22) But He still provided for His people, raining manna and quail for them to eat. Sounds a bit like Americans and other privileged people doesn't it? Never satisfied with what they have...

But what cut me the most was the snaky way the Israelites came back to God. "In spite of all of this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror. Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant." (Psalm 78:32-37)

As Sylvester Stallone put it in the film Oscar, "He flatters you to your face while he sticks a knife in your back." This was the Israelites. This was their attitude. When they were being beaten and defeated, they crawled back to God, praising Him for everything He had done in order to gain back His protection. But as soon as they got what they wanted, they tossed Him aside.

Have you ever done that? I have. And I'm not proud of that. God is my plan L half the time...not even plan B. I try to fix things first instead of going to God in prayer from the very beginning. I forget about the great things He's done in my life. I forget about the great things He's done in my parents' lives. I forget the great things He did in Egypt so many years ago. As George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

I am an Israelite.

But I can't stop there. I can't use my heritage and my attitude as a reason to give up and remain as I am. God gave the Israelites so many second chances, and He has and will do the same for me. God is merciful and just all in one...He will never leave me, not for good. There were times He left the Israelites and allowed them to be beaten back in order to teach them valuable lessons. But He still loved them. A father disciplines who he loves. Yes, I have days where I am akin to the Israelites, but that doesn't mean I always will.

Father, create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) Father, create a fresh slate, a new attitude. Don't let me fall into the same failures of the people of Israel. Help me to recognize your power and glory daily. Lord, I ask that you would keep me on the right path, always taking steps forward instead of falling behind. I don't want to question what you have done or what you will do. I want to question what your will for me is. Thank you for everything you have done to save me from myself. Thank you for loving me when I've strayed; when I've forgotten. You are so good to this Israelite.

Monday, June 22, 2015

How to be a Good Girlfriend 101

I do not claim to be a perfect girlfriend. Heck, I'm not even a perfect person! I lie, I get manipulative, I get angry. Yes, I am one of those people who suffers from road rage and will yell, very loudly, at the idiots on the road. When I get mad, sometimes I want to hit things, but I'm afraid of breaking my hands so I just get grumpy. Sometimes I do hit things. When I get hungry, I get mad. I am one of those hangry people. I have my faults.

And that's okay.

I'm not supposed to be perfect. Okay, yes, that's how God originally intended us to be when He created us in His image, but He gave us the freedom to choose. And we chose wrongly from the beginning. And he knows that. And He loves me through it. That's why it's okay.

But back to the "not being a perfect girlfriend" thing.

Because I've really only been in one relationship (I don't count the guy I liked all through high school...you kind of have to go out for that be a thing), I really am clueless to the workings of a dating relationship. What is this thing called timing? And what is the appropriate amount of time to spend with the other person? Chuck every single romantic comedy chick flick you've ever seen. They aren't a good representation of this. Sure, they show you that couples have problems, but they usually get resolved in under two hours of real time. There's passionate moments of romance, and sometimes ones that really should be ignored, and tense, loud fights that feature a lot of yelling and the occasional violent act of throwing something or punching someone.

Maybe your relationship looks like that. But not mine.

We've fought once, I think. We started laughing in the middle of it when Dallas asked if we were having a fight. So maybe that doesn't count. We have our disagreements, but we rarely are angry at each other and if we ever are, we work it out as quickly and calmly as we can.

So what do I mean by "I'm not a perfect girlfriend"?

Because every day I feel like I'm doing something incredibly wrong.

Like I said, I've never been a girlfriend before. I don't know this thing called personal space. I live with three to five other girls on a daily basis at school. Personal space is curled up in your bowl chair with headphones and Netflix. Personal space is practicing with your back to the practice room door. Personal space is going to the upstairs of the student center where all the mushy couples are making out and setting up homework shop. They won't bother you and you certainly won't bother them.

But when I'm home, with working parents, and quite of bit of spare time on my hands, personal space gets old really quick. And it gets boring. This is when I start to second guess myself. For the last six months, I've really gotten the hang of the long distance, I'm two hours away at school and he's here working my polar opposite schedule so we barely talk during the week. I'm good at that now. But being at home, only twenty minutes away, but often working when he's free and being free when he's sleeping...I don't know what to do with that.

I get jealous when he gets to spend time with friends and I don't get to see him. I get selfish. Sometimes I swear I'm being clingy and I hate that. I hate the negative parts. I want to be a good girlfriend in this regard. I want to be a good example for my kids one day as well as for my peers who are single or in bad relationships. But I constantly feel like a failure.

That's just me. It's all in my head. No one is ever "good" at this girlfriend thing. And vice versa, no one is ever good at the boyfriend thing. We're all really confused human beings that start running around in circles chasing tails we don't even have. That's me when I beat myself up when I shouldn't. Jesus called us sheep. Sheep are kind of dumb when they don't have a good leader. They just kind of wander. And get into trouble. Lots of trouble. Remember the parable of the lost sheep? Yeah, we get ourselves into trouble.

But I've realized the reason why I freak out about if I'm a good girlfriend or not, or if I'm being clingy or aloof, etc, is because I'm not always a good Christian. I start to focus too much on my relationship with Dallas and forget about my first love: Jesus. Jesus is the reason Dallas is even in my life. Jesus is the perfect model for love. Jesus is THE role model.

I heard in a sermon once that your relationship with a person is judged by your communication with that person. That hit me hard and twist my priorities around, but I manually twisted them back to where I was comfortable. God demands all of me, and no, I don't think He sings John Legend. When I signed up for this Christianity thing, it wasn't a half and half, only when I want to contract.

This is for life. Being a Christian is a lifelong commitment to God, and that includes spending quality time with God and communicating with Him. Quality time is my love language...so why don't I love God the way I know best?

Because fill in the blank. Food, running late, sleep, homework, friends, etc. I pray as I go. But God doesn't want a "walk with me" relationship. That's so temporary sounding. Whenever I say that to someone, I am in a hurry and need them to summarize their problem in ten seconds or less so I can give them a five second quip of advice and move on. No, God requires a "live with me" relationship, where I spend more time seeking Him and sitting in His presence than distracted by my own agendas.

Whoa Angel, you went from "I don't know how to be a good girlfriend" to "I am actually a pretty crappy Christian". Calm down girl, you're way to hard on yourself!

So what? Sometimes, you have to criticize yourself in order to recognize your downfalls and fix them. Yes, there is a line of self criticism that should not be crossed...that I cross often. Just ask Dallas. He probably has a tally chart somewhere. I will have reached the 70 times 7 forgiveness model Jesus set in place before we've been dating a year. (No, he does not keep track of those, that's ridiculous!)

What I want you to take away from this is to pay attention to your relationship with God. When you're freaking out over your relationship with someone else, maybe you need to treat God with the same level of importance as this other person. God deserves it. He demands it.

He loves it. Because it's you. And He loves you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Day at a Time

I've cried a lot the last few days. I'm embarrassed and feel guilty to admit that, but it's the cold, hard truth. And that's what this blog is; a safe place to pour out the truth. Especially when it's hard to say it in words.

One of the perks to playing a string instrument is the weather. The strings go out of tune very easily when the changing temperatures and pressures. Oh joy. So the last two mornings of trying to practice at my sister's house in Florida have been frustrating. Every five minutes I've had to stop and completely re-tune my violin.

And I don't even want to practice any way.

I know I have to because I have my junior recital hearing in two and a half weeks. But I still don't want to do it. I don't want my hearing to happen. I'd be much more content writing papers for my major than practicing.

So, not only am I forcing myself to practice, but I also am having to take time to stop and tune my violin. This makes for a not twenty year old attitude. I've thrown private tantrums of sorts, blubbering about how much I hate the violin and hate practicing as I've struggled with my tuning pegs and trill exercises and double stops.

Today, the cause of my crying was Bach. It has long been a truth universally (or universitaly) acknowledged that I do not like unaccompanied Bach. I picked my movement I wanted to do for my recital, but my teacher added another to do. No double stops; easy enough right?

Wrong.

Hate was a frequent utterance this morning. I do hate that movement of Bach. A lot.

I don't know what's wrong with me; if it's spiritual, emotional, mental or physical. I just know I've been apathetic and borderline depressed for the last week and I hate every minute of it. I want my passion back; my drive.

This afternoon, my dad and I went on a driving adventure to find a violin shop near my sister's house. After a very sketchy but beautiful one lane dirt road, we came upon the shop. The wife greeted us with a European accent. It was a mix of German and British. She pronounced out name "Hoeuffmahn" and got a sparkle in her eye when she said it. The husband, was a jolly white-haired man who shared a wealth of knowledge and fun facts about the violin and his life as he adjusted my sound post. He showed me a thirteen inch ruler that he'd had for almost fifty years he had scratched "I <3 Anna" on (who is his wife).

After he adjusted my sound post, he handed me my violin, asking me to play. I played the first bit of the second movement of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto. "Your sound filled the room," he beamed.

I walked out of there with a genuine smile on my face. A desire to practice. A want to be better. No, I don't feel 100% fine. I can still feel a pool of tears behind my eyes. But in this moment, I feel strong. In this moment, I feel powerful. I feel as if I can do anything I set my mind to. I have to take this one day at a time. That's the way we live anyway. That's the only way I can survive this.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two More Sleeps

There's just two more sleeps until Spring Break. I've been waiting for this...an entire week off of classes and obligations. But the days leading up to it have been hell.

Monday was okay. Nothing great, nothing completely awful. It was just strange. Tuesday on the other hand...Tuesday was a day all on it's own. Tuesday, I cried in my lesson. I am still pretty bitter about that. I'd made it so long before I lost it...oh well. Don't worry, it wasn't anything bad. It was the push that I needed, just at a bad time.

I walked out of my lesson with new goals and new plans, but when I went to implement them in the practice room, all I could do was sit and cry. I didn't know what was going on. All I knew was practicing made me weep.

That night was the senior piano recital of a friend of mine. It was fantastic and beautifully done, as was expected. But I couldn't truly rejoice. After the recital ended, I went to practice, but just stood and cried in my practice room.

I didn't want to do this anymore. I still don't. I don't want to do my junior recital. I don't want to do my senior recital. I don't want to perform. All I want is to play in orchestra, study music literature, write papers and conduct. No more of this solo violin stuff. I became increasingly apathetic and borderline depressed. I was giving up. I felt it, coursing through my veins. My spirit was breaking. I was broken.

This morning was praise and worship chapel; my favorite one. We just sing praises the entire hour and it's a beautiful moment. But today, I sat with my arms wrapped around my knees, crying out to God. I couldn't understand why I was so apathetic to music and had no desire to do anything with it. I couldn't figure out the root to my apathy. More than anything, I wanted to want to play my recital. I wanted to love my major, even though I'd been questioning the performance track since I declared it freshman year. I wanted to live my life of worship.

Then God started speaking through the music.

The violinist on the worship team began to be more pronounced in the texture. I could hear the smooth lines caused by the bow on the strings. That's when I remembered that my music is my worship.

And I'd made it a chore.

I still don't want to do my recital. I still don't want to be a performance major. But now, my attitude has shifted to aim for remembering how to worship with my practicing. That's my worship. Wanting to play my recital will come with time. Until then, my prayer is to continue to worship the Lord with every note that rings from my violin, whether it's in tune or not, whether it's part of a scale or the most lyrical part of a concerto. Every note is worship. 

Psalm 150:4
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Psalm 33:3
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's Still a Process

I still have revelations about how to become a butterfly. It never really ends; I just go through dry spells. Today in chapel, we sang about the love of God, waiting for God and how he always provides. That whole time, I was remembering Ash Wednesday and Lent. I've never been a part of a church that made a big deal about either of those church events. But today, in the spur of the moment, I decided I wanted to give something up for forty days. I wanted to get in the practice of giving something up in order to grow in God.

The first thing I wanted to give up was doubt. I wanted my faith to strengthen by giving up doubt in God and his will for forty days, and ultimately for life. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. It just doesn't go away like that.

That's when my revelation came; the faith of a butterfly. Butterflies follow the path they have been called to even though they don't know where it leads. Even though they don't know what dangers lie ahead. This is how they worship their Creator.

This is how I want to worship my Creator, my Father, my God. I want to follow the path I have been called to, even though I don't know where it's going, where it'll end up, what I'll come across on my way.

This is how I will live a life of worship: by being a butterfly.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Of Faults and Freedom

Break down our pride
And all the walls we've built up inside
Our earthly crowns and all our desires
We lay at your feet

As my college semesters go by, I become increasingly more aware of my levels of pride. For years, I had believed that I had extremely low levels of pride and no feelings of entitlement. I always had thought I'd managed to keep my pride in check and hold a very humble attitude. (See the problem with this?) I didn't feel like I ever acted as if I was prideful or haughty. I never felt like I acted as if I was any better than anyone else. 

But I did. It just manifested itself differently in me. For me, it was through my sensitivity to criticisms, my guilt complex, and through comparing myself to others.

When people criticize my ability, when I feel good about something I've been working on and I'm told I didn't do quite as well as I had imagined, I get offended. My feelings are hurt. Sometimes, I even tear up. I always say that I'm bad at taking criticism, that I'm uber-sensitive to negative comments. But that's really not it. It's because I don't feel like I should be criticized by anyone but myself. I have excuses.

I have pride.

I am constantly discouraged by where I am experience-wise and in my musical ability because I have been comparing myself to those who have come before me, who have invested in me, who are better than me, who I admire. I unknowingly made life into a contest, a challenge over who could be better instead of setting these people as examples, as role models. A role model is someone you look up to and someone you strive to live like. A role model is someone you learn from. A role model is not someone who you try to become. 

That's something that's taken me years to understand.

I am unsatisfied with where I am, yet I am not wholeheartedly committed to reach my personal goals. I have become swallowed by my pride. I have unconsciously given in to my ego. I have become consumed with feeling like I'm less than everyone else. Feeling like I'll never reach the same level as some of the best students at my school. Feeling as if I could never make my teacher proud because I wasn't as good or diligent as so many other students he's had. 

Funny thing, my teacher. We've had many a conversation about this in my least three years at college. He's told me several different times that my problem is hubris, a false sense of pride. I continuously brushed it off, not believing him because I'd never felt prideful. Not until recently. Not until God woke me up. 

But you know what?

I praise God for my pride. I praise God for my guilt complex. I praise God for how I compare myself to others.

Why?

Because it's through our weaknesses that God works the most. That's where he reveals himself. That's when I learn about God, about myself, and how much God can work in me, through me, and with me. It's through my failures and my faults that God shines the most, because He's greater than anything I have done or could ever do. God has such great power to be able to work through me and help me become better, stronger, and free. 

I'll be waiting from the "I told you" from my teacher. And this time, I won't be offended. I'll be one step closer to freedom. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mondays are for Confessions

I know, I am very easily frightened. If you did not know that, I don't know where you've been. To every one of you who knows, you are highly entertained by this. Yes, I understand, my screams and facial expressions and power jumps can be quite hilarious. If you scare me on accident, I do take that into consideration, trust me. I am rarely angry with people who scare me on accident.

But I don't find it funny.

And I haven't expressed this well to any of you.

And I'm sorry for that.

But what many of you don't realize that behind my defiant, gasping demands that you never scare me like that again, I'm hiding the tears. I mean, what else does "Don't ever do that again" mean?Whenever I can, I hurry away where I can be by myself. Sometimes I let myself cry; sometimes I tell myself to be a big girl and suck it up. Sometimes I can't keep them back and they flow...

...and flow...

...and flow...

I suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes, this is self-diagnosed, but it's blatantly obvious. To me at least. As a quick refresher course, this is from the break-in that happened two and a half years ago at my house when, yes, I was home alone. If you didn't know that, here is the link to the blog that describes that defining day.
http://angelbecomingabutterfly.blogspot.com/2013/01/judgement-day.html

I'm not telling you my reactions to being scared by others to guilt you into apologizing. I don't want that. I really don't want your pity. What I want is your consideration. Please remember what I say here and now. That's all that matters to me now.

So here it is, a description of what happens in the few seconds it takes to get over the initial scare.

OH MY GOSH I DON'T WANT TO DIE!! is my initial thought. From there, I replay the entire robbery in my head at lightening speed, forwards and backwards simultaneously. My hands start to shake, my head pounds and my heart races. I start to feel light-headed and dizzy, as if all the blood has suddenly rushed to my toes.

You may be thinking, "Dang, this girl is craaaazy." So? You might be too. But please, don't you ever think to yourself that I have to get over this. DUH. I would love nothing more than to get over it and never really be bothered by it again except in extreme situations.

That's only one facet of my PTSD. There are others: an overactive imagination, freaking out when being exposed to other trial cases, insomnia, falling asleep with two flashlights clutched in my hands, even being so afraid I've had to sleep with my mom.

This is all embarassing to admit to you. Heck, I am twenty freaking years old, and I'm still afraid of the dark. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the demons that hide in the shadows. There have been countless nights where I have literally felt the demons surrounding me; suffocating me. And why? Because I have so little faith in the God who cast the demons out of heaven when they were still angels. Because I let my imagination run wild. Because I lost something that day.

A scrap of my sanity. Trust. The childlike belief that as long as I'm safe under my covers, the monster under my bed can't get me.

But now, I'm an adult (of sorts). And I'm followed with a constant tap on my shoulder that I'm reminded of when someone shouts my name in my ear after sneaking up on me, jumping in front of me when I least expect it, making a loud noise behind me when I don't know someone is there.

So there you have it, my Monday night confession. You may think me crazier than before. You may not. But please, think about what I've said. I have been afraid to confront anyone on this because I'm afraid of being made fun of. So this may be a move of cowardice, but you know what? For once, I'm okay with that. Sometimes, you can't hold the brave face any longer.