Monthly Archives: August 2019

A Year of Lasts

I still haven’t fully processed that this is the final year of my undergraduate program. Technically speaking, I’ve been working towards this degree since I was 15 years old, which is when I started my gen eds at my local community college. I spent three years completing my associates degree, a year taking art classes/trying to figure out where to transfer to, and will be beginning my third year at Missouri Western on August 26th, 2019. It’s so odd to think that in roughly eight months, I will be moving on to a new chapter of life. 

Last time moving into a dorm 

Last year of caf food 

Last round of college auditions

Last year of working in the Potter scene shop

Last two semesters of foreign language classes (Praise the Lord)

Last eight months of having to walk almost a mile to most of my classes

Last few advising sessions with Jeff

Last time I will celebrate a birthday where there is a high chance I will be on a film set

Last year of using my faithful blue dorm room bed spread

Last year of sharing a bathroom with three other girls

Last round of finals during undergrad

I spent a few days working on this list. While there are many more things that will be a “last” this year, I have been having a hard time making the list much longer. It was frustrating, because I had the idea for this post about four weeks ago. I said to myself, “I’m gonna make a blog post to commemorate my senior year of undergrad by talking about all the lasts that are coming.” The more I worked to come up with a list though, the harder it got. I was wondering if I was struggling with writer’s block, but then I realized what the real problem was: I was being too negative. 

You see, I was looking at this final year with the mindset of “Oh yeah, it sucks that I don’t have a ton of time left at this school.” Instead of being grateful for the fact that I am going into my senior year with strong relationships and expectations, I was focusing on how all of it will be over once May 2020 hits. When I realized what I was doing to myself, I took a step back to reevaluate how I was looking at this school year. I have made goals for myself in academics, work, and personal development, but my main goal for the 2019/2020 school year is to fully live in the moment. I don’t want to focus on how a good thing is coming to an end; I’d rather be enjoying the good thing while it is happening. 

I challenge anyone who is getting ready to go through a time of transition to not focus on how things are coming to an end. I have found the more I focus on the inevitable end, the less I enjoy the journey. I’d like to think that I am a bit of an expert when it comes to planning, but there are times when plans become too rigid and stressful. Instead of making sure every single “last” is absolutely perfect, I am going to try and let myself be free to feel whatever emotions may come. So bring on the final year of shows, films, APO meetings, GFS projects and surprise adventures that will come my way. I am eager to see what Senior Year will bring.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

A Letter to 14-Year-Old Abby

Dear Abby, 

Hey, girl. It’s me: You. I’m the You that’s about seven-ish years older than you. You’re fourteen, and your life is about to become a lot more complicated than you ever thought it would. You see, in about seven months, you’re going to turn fifteen. You’ll learn to drive and get your first real job. You’ll start teaching piano to an eight-year-old girl and end up teaching twenty-two kids music before you turn twenty. You’ll get a boyfriend and start community college. You’ll start a double major in Animation and Theatre. You’ll get dumped (twice). You’ll drop a major. You’ll meet amazing people. You’ll see the life of someone you love dearly change completely for the better. There’s a lot of stuff I wish I could go back and tell you. I’m taking the opportunity to do it down, with the hopes that there’s some other fourteen year old girl who needs to read this letter. 

You’re gonna have crushes on a good handful of boys, and that’s okay. However, these boys won’t always treat you the way that you deserve to be treated. Understand that you are a treasure, no matter what anyone’s opinion of you. There will be a few boys who show an open interest in you, but goodness sakes, do not settle. You deserve to be treated like a queen: accept nothing less. When your heart gets broken, know that the hurt does not last forever. Also, understand that it’s okay to have good memories from relationships that came to an end. God brings people into our lives for seasons. Sometimes those seasons aren’t as long as we originally thought they would, but regardless of how long any relationship lasts, there is something you can learn from every person you encounter. 

Don’t give up on your dreams. You’ve got some huge ones, and you will accomplish some of them over the next seven years. No one can achieve them for you, and no one will want your dreams more than you do. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you want to do with your life is foolish. You are not a traditionalist or one to do things the conventional way. You are a trailblazer and an extraordinary achiever: own it. While your dreams are your own, know that you will have allies to your goals who will help you along the way. Also know that there will be people who don’t have your best interests in mind. Be discerning with who you open up to while also trusting those God has put in your life to help you grow.  

Taking care of yourself is important. In fact, it’s about the most important thing you can do. You love to take care of others. You’re really good at it, too. However, you tend to have trouble taking care of yourself. One of the best things I have learned recently is looking at the “Love your neighbor as yourself” verse in a different light. You see, that verse isn’t telling you to love others but treat yourself like crap. It means that you have to know how to love yourself in order to love others. Loving yourself includes making sure you get enough sleep, drinking water, being in the Word, going to counseling and taking your meds. You’re gonna want to fight your doctor for a long time about medicine, but there is nothing wrong with getting a bit of extra help. Do not let anyone convince you that you are wrong for doing things that truly help you be the best version of yourself. 

“No” is a sentence. You are going to have so many great opportunities come your way, but you cannot and should not say “yes” to all of them. There will be times where you feel that you have to justify yourself for why you are saying “no” to something. You’ll also feel like you’re the biggest disappoint that there ever was when you have to decline a job or experience, but that is not true. The world will not combust if you don’t step up for every single position. Sometimes, the best way for you to take care of yourself is for you to step back and let someone else be in charge, even if it’s a job that you truly love.

There’s going to be a lot of really crappy stuff that happens. At times, it will feel like the world is going to end. However, there is going to be some really amazing stuff that’s going to come your way that will remind you just how wonderful life can be. There are times I wish I could go back in time and actually talk to you, 14 year-old Abby. Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell you to avoid certain people or situations. The thing is though, every event that will happen in your life will shape you into the strong woman you will become. So I’ll leave you with this: live your life to the fullest. Love everyone, including yourself, full heartedly, even when they hurt you. There will be so many more mountains that will outweigh the number of valleys. Be present in the moment and savor every minute of life. I promise I will do the same. 

 

Yours Truly, 

Abby

 

30 Tips on How to Not Suck at College

I’m about to begin my seventh year of college. Obviously, this makes me a complete and total expert on all things college. Whether you’re beginning community college or a four year university, I have devised a list of 30 Tips that I have picked up over my time as being a 15 year old homeschooler at Maple Woods and as my 21 year old self going into my final year of undergrad. It’s a mix of things I learned: both things people said to me that I took to heart and things people told me that I ignored/later regretted. Enjoy!

30 Tips on How to Not Suck at College

(In no particular order of importance)

  1. Guys, go to class. Seriously, don’t be stupid and skip all the time. Your mom and dad aren’t here to tell you to get up for school. Take some responsibility for your life and get your butt to class. 
  2. For the love of everything good and right in the world, backup your files. You know that flash drive that you rely on? That little thing that holds every paper you have to turn in this semester? Yeah, it’ll probably poop out on you during finals week. It takes like two seconds to drag and drop files into an online storage site like Google drive. Use it or you will call your parents sobbing in December. 
  3. Prioritize sleep. There are times I am planning my homework and social schedules around my bedtime. All-nighters are horrid and if you’re up until 3:30am every single night, you will be a miserable grump. 
  4. Get a job. Most campuses have a lot of on-campus work options, but towns that have colleges are usually pretty good with working with student schedules. 
  5. Know your resources. Schools often offer a lot of free services, like tutoring and counseling centers. 
  6. Drink more water than any other liquid. 
  7. If you feel like you’re the only person who isn’t drinking, don’t feel lame, cause you aren’t the only one. 
  8. If you are drinking, for the sake of you and everyone around you, be safe and considerate. Literally no one wants to have puke in their car or on their living room floor. 
  9. Join a club. Or two. Or six. Clubs are GREAT.
  10.  I am a huge advocate for flashcard studying. Focus on what you are writing and get a friend to quiz you on the cards you’ve made. 
  11. Don’t use your microwave for science experiments. If you’re wondering what happens to candy corn when you put it in the microwave, let me save you the trouble: it smells like burnt cotton candy and turns into sugary lava that breaks bowls. 
  12. Set clear ground rules with your roommate(s). If an issue comes up, talk about it and resolve it as soon as possible. The longer you let things fester, the quicker bitter feelings build up. 
  13. It is not the end of the world if you have to drop a class. Preferably, do it before deadlines hit so you can get if not all then some of your money back. 
  14. Professors have office hours: utilize them. 
  15. Become a secret agent in the dining hall. Some might frown upon smuggling out extra fruit or yogurt, but it’s a nice way to have study snacks for later. Also, you’re spending a ton of money already, might as well stretch your dollar. 
  16. People will get mad at you if you leave your clothes in the washer and/or dryer. This anger could lead to your clothes being tossed on the floor. Don’t be that person. 
  17. Take pictures and/or make videos with your college pals. This time does not last forever, so take advantage of the awesome tools we have to save some memories. 
  18. Look back at Tip #7. Same thing applies with sex. If you don’t want to have sex/ don’t feel ready for it, do not allow anyone to make you feel stupid for not doing stuff that you aren’t comfortable with. 
  19.  Find friends that you can work well alongside. I’ve been told by a few people to never work with your friends, but I beg to differ with that statement. The best work partner I’ve ever had is my best friend and the fact that he and I know each other so well makes work more enjoyable and manageable. 
  20. Learn how to budget, whether or not you have a job. 
  21. Find yourself a podcast that talks about a subject that interests you, especially if you have a long drive back home. This podcast can also come in handy on long walks to classes or having background noise for homework evenings. 
  22. Freaking text your mom. She misses you. 
  23. You don’t need as many clothes/shoes/accessories as you think you do. You’ll probably end up wearing the same pair of shoes everyday and honestly, no one really cares what you look like. 
  24. HOWEVER: If you enjoy dressing up, you do you! Don’t feel like you have to change yourself just because you’re starting college.   
  25. Even if you don’t like sports, try to go to a few games, especially if they’re free with your student ID. During my first year at Missouri Western, I randomly found a bunch of theatre majors at a football game and we had a grand time talking about our career goals while our team got whipped. 
  26. Not everyone knows what weed smells like before going to college, and no, you’re not dumb for not knowing what it smells like. If you’re like me and didn’t know until you lived on the fourth floor of a building (which causes all the smoke to float up to your room), it smells like skunk spray. 
  27. Sometimes, if your neighbor is being rowdy, instead of going straight to your RA, just knock on their door yourself. Half the time, it’s just a bunch of boys who look like they could still be in middle school yelling at a video game. They’ll be quieter if you tell them you have an 8am the next morning. 
  28. Do not rule out picking up new hobbies when you go to college. While yes, you shouldn’t change yourself, it’s good to expand your interests; it can lead to new friends! For example, I never thought I would be a WWE fan, but now I have a Ricochet t-shirt and I love Becky Lynch with all my heart. Watching wrestling with my fella’s roommates has opened up a whole new world of friendships that I wouldn’t have had if I had stuck to my mentality of, “ugh, no, I don’t wanna watch this because my cousin in middle school loves WWE.”
  29. Any time a teacher offers extra credit, do it. Don’t be a fool. 
  30. Understand that it’s normal and okay for your high school relationships to drift apart when you go to college. This was something I struggled with hardcore my first three semesters at Missouri Western. I had a death grip on my high school friendships that I wanted so badly to stay strong. Because of this, I wasn’t fully living in the moment and enjoying my new friends. There’s nothing wrong with missing your hometown pals, but know that you shouldn’t shut out the possibility of new relationships.

 

College is an awesome time of growth, self-discovery, and(as stressful as it can be) should be a ton of fun. Make the most of the time you have. You have no idea how fast time flies until you’re getting ready to pack up your life one last time for senior year. 

Do you have any tips to share about the college experience? I’d love to read them in the comments below! To everyone preparing for school to begin, I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a great 2019/2020 school year! 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

Sewing Class

On February 15th around 2:15pm, I thought about going back to my dorm room and swallowing all of my anti-depressants. It was a Thursday. I was sitting on a stool trying to focus on the demonstration my professor was doing, but the invasive thoughts kept whispering in my brain. It would make people happier. You wouldn’t have to keep trying so hard. You aren’t feeling anything anymore anyways. 

I had thought about suicide before for brief seconds, but this was the first time that there was an action plan. It was also the first time I was rationalizing the thought. Praise the Lord, I had the instinct to text Sweet Ben, who was across the room at a sewing machine, and my friend Nathan, who was across campus. I told them both about the thought and that I felt that I was safe, but that I was scared. I knew that my parents were already worried about my mental state, but I didn’t end up telling them about all this until about two weeks later. 

I thought about killing myself many more times during the following two months. I hated going to counseling appointments because I felt like a loser. I didn’t want to take my Prozac because I didn’t think it was helping. For the first time in my life, I experienced an extreme struggle to get out of bed each morning. Going to church wasn’t much easier, because I felt like God was mad at me. I wasn’t sure who actually liked me and was just waiting for every important person in my life to drop me. On one of my lower evenings, I admitted to Ben that there were times when I got in my car by myself that I hoped I would get in an accident to end my hurting. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever admitted to someone. 

During this period of my life, I was reading my bible every day. Not just reading a few verses and checking it off my list, but really studying the word and having a deep communication with the Lord. I had never felt closer in my relationship with God. So why was I contemplating ending my own life? Cause doesn’t it say God won’t ever give us more than we can handle? Doesn’t it say we are conquerors? Doesn’t it say He will never leave us or forsake us? 

Here’s the thing: the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is complete crap. Guys, we gotta stop using this phrase, because that’s not what the Bible is saying to us. It also can make you seem like a jerk when you are trying to comfort people who are hurting. There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians that is quoted all the time, especially during times of suffering. In chapter 10 verse 13, Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” Friends, trials are not the same thing as temptations. If you jump over to James, chapter 1 says that, “No one undergoing trials should say, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” It’s true that God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond our strength, but it does not say that we won’t deal with trials that feel like the world is falling down on us. God does not tempt us, but He does allow trials to enter our lives to sharpen and grow us. 

If you go over to 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a, you see that Paul is in a rough spot. He’s only about a paragraph into this letter to the church in Corinth when he unloads this. “For we don’t want you to be unaware, brother, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed- beyond our strength-so that we even despaired of life. Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves…” 

O o f

Paul, the greatest missionary of all time, the guy who wrote a large chunk of the New Testament: he was open about the fact that he and his ministry partners felt so overwhelmed to the point of wanting to die. But look what Paul says in the second part of verse 9: “…so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again.” God uses our afflictions to draw us closer to Him. He is the one who pulls us through the deep valleys. 

Here’s the hard truth: we live in a broken world. We have a sinful nature on an imperfect planet, and because things are not how God originally designed, crappy stuff happens in our lives. We often wonder why bad things happen or why we feel terrible, and the ultimate reason is that the world is not how it should be. People also often ask why God doesn’t stop all the terrible things that happen in the world, and that’s because we are creatures designed with free will. We get to choose how to handle our lives; God isn’t our puppet master. Rather, He wants to have a deep and meaningful relationship with us. 

Now, did I know in my heart that the paragraph above was true when I was going through my horrible patch of depression? Yes. Did it make things any better? Yes and no. Yes, because living with hope makes life so much more bearable. And no, because I don’t know about you, but when I’m having suicidal thoughts, I don’t want bible verses thrown at me with the hope that I’ll feel miraculously better. Of course, God could work this way if He wanted to, but He gets our emotions. Jesus got angry when He saw leaders leading poorly. Jesus cried with His friends when His buddy died, even when He knew that He was about to raise that guy from the dead. Heck, Jesus got to such an intense point of despair that He was sweating blood (look up hematidrosis; it’s insane). 

God gets our emotions, which is why He designed us to be relational beings. I was beyond blessed by the people in my life, specifically my roommates, my parents and Sweet Ben. My roommates sat with me while we drank hot beverages and would listen to my frustrations. My parents have been and always will be a safe spot for me to land, even when I’m not pleasant to be around. Sweet Ben held me when I was sobbing uncontrollably on multiple occasions. I was thankful that instead of telling me bible verses about how God is good and that everything happens for a reason all the time, my people loved on me when I didn’t love myself. I was never alone even when depression was rearing its ugly head. 

If you are struggling with scary thoughts, I implore you to seek out help. No one is meant to go through life alone. Sometimes it’s good to get someone else’s help with your burdens. Suicide is a permanent choice that rocks more peoples’ worlds than you could ever imagine. Ending your life is not the solution to your problems and it will certainly not make anyone’s life any easier. Every person is designed to love and to be loved by others; don’t rob people of the opportunity to have you in their life. 

Back towards the top of this page, I asked three questions: Doesn’t it say God won’t ever give us more than we can handle? Doesn’t it say we are conquerors? Doesn’t it say He will never leave us or forsake us? Paul answered the first question for us, but what about the second two? 

 

So, are we conquerors? Yes.

Romans 8:37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.

 

Doesn’t it say He will never leave us or forsake us? Yes (many times in fact).

 

Psalm 94:14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I’m writing this while I watch the sunset over a lake in Oklahoma. There are thousands of bugs out singing their very loud song. My cousin and her friend are making friendship bracelets. My aunts and uncles are chatting about jobs. A few boats are still out hanging out on the lake. Down the hill, I saw a momma dear with two little fawns. I am so grateful that I did not listen to the intrusive thoughts I dealt with this last semester. If I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here enjoying the simple joys of a summer road trip. Life can still be hard. I still struggle with self-loathing thoughts from time to time. I sometimes feel I’m not wanted. However, I am constantly reminded of God’s love for me through the people He has put in my life. I believe that God loves us through others. He gives us hugs through tender-hearted friends. He encourages us with a kind word via a caring companion. He wipes away our tears through the love of a steadfast confidant. 

It’s July 27th, around 8:30pm, and by God’s grace I haven’t dealt with the scary thoughts I first had in sewing class for a few months now. It’s a Saturday. I am happy to be alive and growing. While I have not been cured of depression (and may never be), I know Jesus has conquered all. Because of this knowledge, I know I too can be an overcomer. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please use the prevention lifeline. Every life is valuable. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255

 

Until Next Time,

Abby