Thursday, December 4

ramblings: a life update

I've been trying for days to come up with something worthwhile to say.
I have all sorts of words in my heart, but I can't figure out what they're trying to express.

"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations."    -john green

I'm just doing life here.
Sure, there are moments when I look up from what I'm doing and stare in a mirror, just to think, "What do I think that I'm doing with my life?!" but I'm going with the theory that this is something I'll keep having for the rest of my life, so I might as well get used to it now.
In all honesty, though, I know that school is what's important for me.

I'll admit, I can get jealous of people not taking the traditional route. I have friends doing phenomenal things with remarkable goals, setting out to save lives and shape future generations and doing it beautifully. And yet here I sit, paying tens of thousands of dollars to hopefully get some future-oriented training and knowledge and a piece of paper with some ink on it that says I paid the school lots of money to make myself write papers and cram for finals.
College is so logical! [insert sarcasm life needs one of those.]

Tomorrow morning I have a pretty crucial interview with two important people in the Social Work department to confirm my admittance into the major. Everyone has to go through it... interview, references, and five page personal paper answering a crap-ton of really deep and philosophical questions. To say that I'm intimidated is a bit of an understatement, because I know that my past and current struggles are going to come to the surface mighty quick. I'm always very open about talking about myself, my journey, my experiences, and what it's taken to get me to where I am today, but I like to have a little control or foreknowledge of the direction of these conversations. Tomorrow, Nathan and Sarah can ask me literally anything, and I'll roll with it.

I am so blissfully content and thrilled with the whole "SLA" thing. I love my girls so much. They constantly push me to be a better person and I could not be more honored to do life with them.
It can be easy to beat myself up for not being as intentional as I could be, for not going the extra mile 110% of the time, for being human and sometimes not saying the perfect thing... and yet, life goes on. The world still turns, and we still do life together and it is still just as beautiful.

Thursday, October 23

three years.

I’m making a gutsy move here, guys.
I’m letting you in on a huge part of my journey.

If I’m honest, it’s easier for me to think of strangers or friends or classmates reading this than it is to accept that my family reads it, but maybe that’s because they were primarily the ones that had to watch me go through it.
Anyway, this year, it feels right for me to share at least a part of it...
I did a bible study with my girls tonight from 2 Corinthians, where Paul talks about bragging about our weaknesses, for it is in our shortcomings that Christ’s power is the most evident (paraphrased, Julia-bible).

A lot of people don’t like it when others are honest about their struggles. Mental illness is a highly personal, immensely judgmental, increasingly difficult thing to talk about.
I share these memories not to say, “Look what I went through. Feel sorry for me!” or “Look what I’ve done. Congratulate me for being so strong!” …I share them because it’s part of what has made me who I am. It’s why I make a point of always being available to listen. It’s a good portion of why I’m the Julia that you all know (and I presume some of you love :).
I share this to say,
 “I’m not a perfect person, but I believe in a Really Great God
…pull up a chair and let me share some of the dark corners of my heart 
that He’s helping me bring light to.”

So now, for family, friends, classmates, peers, and the occasional stranger, here’s an extremely cut down, choppy, edited version of some of the things I remember from three years ago.

*** [I have intentionally left out things like the specifics of why I was hospitalized or identifying details of others that I met. If you have a valid reason for wanting to know these things, just ask.]

Three years ago, on a Wednesday night at the end of October, I was admitted to Forest View Psychiatric Facility.
Being in Forest View was exhausting, terrifying, traumatizing, draining, and humiliating.
It was also healing, empowering, refreshing, strengthening, and completely necessary.

I’ve forgotten a lot of the names and specific instances.
I’ve forgotten a lot of the conversations and specific stories.
I’ve forgotten a lot of the individual details, but not all of the experience as a whole.

Some things still stick out:
Gordon was my case manager. He also led my two most memorable group therapy sessions: paint chips and drumming. I use the paint chip exercise to this day, both for myself and for the girls on my floor at school. The gist of the exercise is sorting through piles of paint chips and picking one that describes, both in name and color, our emotional selves in that moment or a greater aspect of our personality. That day my color was a dusty reddish-brown called “Barn” because it was a bold color, strong, passionate, but somehow muted and worn down, and it reminded me of one of my favorite smells and the sense of earthiness, comfort, and home I felt there: barns.
We also threw together a therapeutic drumming circle for one of our group sessions. This sounds really sweet, but let’s just say our resources were lacking… Gordon pulled some strings to get the kitchen staff to save their cottage cheese containers and our drums were cheap plastic tubs. I’m sure it was a sight to see for the staff, all of us sitting in a circle pounding on empty cottage cheese containers, but it taught us all something far beyond drumming and rhythm. It taught us that sometimes the things that are best for us are laughter and community instead of fancy treatments and different doses of expensive medications.

Doctor Van Haren sticks with me to this day, mostly because he pisses me off. For a good while after I was released I blocked his name and face completely from my memory. I remember it came back to me all of a sudden, a flashback completely unlooked for. Some of the things that man said to me are burned on my heart, day in and day out. I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when, after googling the treatment types I had received at FVH, I stumbled back on his name and photo. I’m sure he had his moments of almost redeeming qualities, but I don’t remember them, even in the slightest.
Things I remember the guy saying to me and/or to other kids:  “You don’t look like an eating disorder patient.” “You gained weight (since you went home), and that’s not good.” Every new aspect of a patient’s journey that came to his attention was met with a sort of smirk and an, “Oh, I don’t think I knew that.” “You don’t think you’re actually going home yet, do you?”
He is a part of the reason I’m studying Social Work. He is a part of the reason that I’m determined to work in the helping profession. I don’t want to go the medical route, because I don’t want people to become a compilation of symptoms that I need to be resolved. I don’t want to fix people. I want to be for others the things that he was not for me. I want to be on treatment teams with genuine people. I want to look at each client holistically. That man, in his rude and hurtful actions, has inspired me, and, in an odd way, I’m very thankful for that.

I have long forgotten their names and faces and many of the stories that go alongside them, but I remember facets of two of the nurses:
I remember one of the interns. In many nursing, and I guess psychological and social work, programs, students are given the opportunity to rotate through various types of treatment. I came into contact with countless temporary interns. One of them was different from the others… she didn’t treat us differently. To most, we were dangerous; we were sick and broken and defective and needed our emotional space. I don’t blame them; we were an intimidating bunch. This one was different, though… she listened to us. She asked us how we were doing, and she wanted real answers. She didn’t tread on eggshells or shy away from interacting with us. She was our favorite when it came to guided relaxation. We’d all pack up our blankets and pillows (and when she took us, stuffed animals were allowed, too, if we hid them from the adults in the ward we had to walk through :). When she read the exercises from the book (yeah, they were tacky, imaginative pieces that had us pretend we were at the beach or in the forest…anything to get us to relax and get our minds off of where we were), her voice didn’t waver. She spoke clearly and softly and treated us like genuine, intrinsically good, and relatable human beings.
The other nurse…I don’t remember much about her. She worked the main desk in the adolescent unit. She was one of the first faces I saw when I came in the first night. She talked girls through panic attacks, dissociative episodes, and flashbacks when we couldn’t sleep. When I fell apart the day the show I was student directing was opening, she was the one who set me up with a pen, paper, and a little bit of space to breathe. She was a sweetheart. I guess the nurses had a discussion when my release paperwork was pending about how they never planned on seeing me again. She was the one that disagreed. Something along the lines of… “I said we’d see you again, years down the road. You’ll come back walking through these doors someday, but as staff. You’ll be back.” I don’t have specific plans to go back there, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find myself in adolescent inpatient therapy again. 

I remember on Halloween the staff threw a little party for us. Some of the nurses had gone out and bought candy and little gifts for us and put them into bags. That was how I got to be an expert on making play dough roses. We watched Coraline, ate popcorn, and drank orange pop (and the pop was a big deal; no carbonation, caffeine, or sugary drinks were allowed otherwise). I remember the really warm smiles from the nurses when they realized that the eating disorder girl was eating additional snacks that weren’t mandated.

Early mornings sucked. You have very little concept of time that early in the morning and specifics fail my memory, so there’s no way of knowing for sure what time we had to get up. I had to have blood work done every other or every third morning…by halfway through both of my arms were black and blue. The phlebotomist said she did me first every time because I was the least hostile that early…which must have been saying something, because I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Lights came on and a sickeningly pleasant voice of “bloodwork!’ meant that I had to wake up and my roommate rolled over in her sleep.

Goals were the first thing every morning. We got a piece of paper we had to fill out with an inventory of our moods (suicidal / homicidal / depressed / panic attack / food intake or cravings / etc. [and yes, there were people that admitted to each of these things every day]). Then we had to establish a goal for the day, a tangible, concrete action that we’d have to show at the end of the day. My first day’s goal was just to process the emotions of the day. I journaled an awful lot that day. Other goals I accomplished was a letter to someone who had walked out of my life because I was ‘too sick’ when I entered the hospital, coming up with lists of motivating factors for while I was in the hospital, reasons to recover, and things to do after my discharge. I think I still have a few of those papers somewhere. (I spy an activity for over Thanksgiving break!)

A lot of the other kids thought I was a teen mom. They swore that I had a child. I guess I was more mature than the expected of me. “You’re so mature, I just figured you had to have a kid.” They never asked me directly, they just assumed that I had a child. I remember that it took a little bit of convincing in the gym one day for them to believe that. That’s one of the things I can look back and laugh about.

There are random things that remind me of the hospital. …smells primarily, but also random things like playdough and the song “Good Feeling” by FloRida send me back just as fast. I wasn’t one for much pop music, so I didn’t hear the song for a good while afterword. The first few times I heard it, it threw me into an anxiety attack. It became hard to breathe, and I even had to walk out of my homecoming the freshman year of college because the song started blasting. Now it’s a song I have on my running playlist, because it reminds me of how strong I’ve become.

While I was inpatient, visits were some of my favorite, as well as some of my least favorite things. Being locked inside 99.5% of the time was isolating. No fresh air, no breeze. Ten minute maximums on phone use, and only at designated times, made it even lonelier.
I think it was the normalcy of these visits that was the most comforting to me. It wasn’t until my second week that we were even allowed to step outside, and even then we were walled in by building on three sides and a high chain link fence on the fourth. The space was maybe 20 by 20 feet, all concrete, with a picnic table chained to the ground on one end. Having visitors come was the equivalent to breaths of fresh air.

…so every year, I let myself spend a couple of weeks remembering.

I don’t ever want to forget the journey that I’ve taken to get to where I am today…and it took being hospitalized three years ago for me to realize that it’s something I never, ever want to have to do again.

Always remember.
Never forget.
Heavy heart.
No regrets.

Tuesday, September 23

letting go and grabbing hold.

[Philippians 3:12-14]

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to posses that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." (NLT)

"Not that I have already obtained this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (ESV)

"I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward--to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back." (The Message)

"It's not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don't think I've reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God's upward call in Christ Jesus." (CEB)

I had a really good meeting with Ron today, the first of many weekly check-ins, support sessions, and questions to be answered. It's such a blessing to have him so accessible, honest, and genuinely caring and wanting to pour into each student on campus.

I am beginning the process of letting go of a lot of things.
Here are some of them: 
  • I'm letting go of my standard of unattainable perfection.
  • I'm letting go of defining myself by my circumstances.
  • I'm letting go of projecting my standards onto other people.
  • I'm letting go of my pocket-sized God.
  • I'm letting go of the walls I've built up to protect myself from judgement.
  • I'm letting go of my standard of "good enough." 
  • I'm letting go of my tendency to internalize my emotions.
  • I'm letting go of doing things carelessly or out of routine.
  • I'm letting go of my self-determined inability to be happy.
  • I'm letting go of my fear of being content.
  • I'm letting go of the assumption that something bad is always about to happen.
  • I'm letting go of defining myself by my past.
  • I'm letting go of projecting a certain personality dependent on who I'm with.
  • I'm letting go of my compartmentalized life.
  • I'm letting go of ... a lot of things. A lot of junk. A lot of pain. A lot of bad. 
These are things that I am learning how to leave behind. They're some of the things that I held so tightly that they destroyed my ability to do anything else.
I'm not to a point of setting them alongside the road while I journey on without them yet,
but I am learning how to hold them loosely, to let God use and change them, as he uses and changes me
and there is something so...
so healthy about that.

All of this is well and good. It's necessary. It's important. Heck, it's essential. It's what life is about, Christian or not. You have to learn to leave things you no longer need in the past instead of carrying it if you're going to get anywhere.

It's like monkey bars, you've got to let go of things 
and trust that your grabbing, needy hand will be 
met with something more concrete than air, something 
better able to support you and launch you towards 
where you're going, instead of where you've been.

But that's the thing...
for every thing that you let go of, you're left with a void.
For every habit, assumption, coping mechanism, and way of doing life that I'm learning to hold more loosely, there has to be things that I'm drawing closer to.

I have to be grabbing hold of things.

This is what's important, because this is what I forget.
I very quickly define my progress in life as the things I'm leaving behind.
I think that's what our culture is defining as progress. It's how we evaluate ourselves.
"I don't do this anymore. I don't do that anymore. I'm not clinging to this old way of life."

...but what am I doing?
What am I throwing myself into?
What am I progressing in?
What am I grabbing hold of?

This list is harder. This list is counter-intuitive to the way I've envisioned my progress so far.
But this list is just as important, if not more so.
  • I'm grabbing hold of being an SLA and loving on my girls.
  • I'm grabbing hold of typewriters and the 'doodle ministry.' 
  • I'm grabbing hold of being the best student that I can be, in every area.
  • I'm grabbing hold of seeking a deeper understanding of who I am.
  • I'm grabbing hold of new knowledge.
  • I'm grabbing hold of my future through working on my education;
    • I'm grabbing hold of social ethics to apply to my practice someday.
    • I'm grabbing hold of my dreams for my career.
    • I'm grabbing hold of my ability to dream again.
  • I'm grabbing hold of the study of scripture.
  • I'm grabbing hold of the understanding I am gaining every day.
  • I'm grabbing hold of the community in which I'm living.
  • I'm grabbing hold of Christ's promises for me, scattered throughout His word and my life.
  • I'm grabbing hold of the things that move my heart: 
    • I'm grabbing hold of stories and case studies of broken people.
    • I'm grabbing hold of the ways God seems to be steering me towards working with adolescents.
    • I'm grabbing hold of relationships with professors and classmates as they present themselves.
  • I am grabbing hold of CASE and other opportunities to volunteer.
  • I am grabbing hold of ... progressing towards the woman of faith I was intended to be.

Grabbing hold, in many ways, can be harder than letting go.
It's one thing to let your fingers slip from the old bar, the old standard, the old coping... it's another to swing yourself forward using that momentum, to wrap your fingers around the next bar, the new standard, the new way of doing life.

But here's the thing.

If I don't grab hold of a new bar, if I don't take forward momentum, I get stuck.
Think of the monkey bar analogy again... I can not hang still by one hand for very long without falling off the band wagon entirely.
And I have done that before.
I have done that... a lot.
I've tried to go backwards, I've tried to regress, tried to return to the firm footing of the 'start'. 
And I have fallen down.

And again, here's the thing.

I don't hit the ground battered and bruised.
Sure, my hands are a little sore from the slip and my pride has taken a hit, but God sees to it that I get caught.
Usually He uses someone else's metaphorical hands in this.
He sees to it that I get scooped up into a hug, that I'm given a moment to put the breath back in my lungs. Sometimes my hands need bandaids, sometimes it's just my confidence in myself that needs to be restored.

And then I get put back on the monkey bars.
I don't get the firm footing of the ground when I fall. I don't go back to the beginning with the firm footing to step off from.
I never really get to collect my bearings before I get boosted to the same bar I was at before...
I don't have to rework all of the progress I've made since the beginning of the monkey-bar escapade called life, but I sure don't get to skip steps.
Sometimes I have to get put on the same bar multiple times,
Sometimes I have to get put on a bar right before in order to build up momentum again...
but I have to learn all of the lessons.
I have to let go time and time again of the same things in order to grab hold of better things.

Letting go is scary, and there is always a risk of falling down in the in-between times.
But there's also a risk of falling when both hands are clinging to bars...
but there is no journey in that.
There is no hope of anything better when we are unable to let go.

The hands of the Father are waiting,
let's all agree to try.

Thursday, September 18

settling in.

I’ve found myself back on campus,
and I have never really felt more like home.
Classes are getting into full swing,
I’m busier than I think I’ve ever been with school,
and yet I’m content.
I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be,
living where I’m supposed to live,
studying what I’m supposed to be studying,
…all of that good stuff.

Being an SLA is…
it’s a little bit stressful,
a lot bit crazy,
a smidgen of rewarding,
and mountains of “right.”
I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to with this,
it lets me take my story and my life experience
and pay it forward,
put it into action with my girls.
(Mind you, there are 28 girls on my floor,
22 of them being first-time freshmen.)

ohhh, the journey of 18 credits at once.
A full time semester is 12 to 15 credits,
but I’m taking a 3 credit class
--“Tolkien’s Religious Imagination”—
that rounds me out to total chaos.
This class, however, is my favorite.
It hurts my head and blows my mind
because of all of the knowledge going around.
It fires up my heart
because of all of the religious parallels and connections
and it makes me feel like I can take on anything.
I can listen to Dr. C for hours,
which is good because it’s a 3 hour night lecture.
It’s just…
It’s a really good fit.

Aside from that, I’m taking
-Substance Abuse and Society (an online class)
-Honors Introduction to Philosophy
-Introduction to Social Work
-Human Behavior in a Social Environment
-American National Government

Everyone at home,
just rest assured that I know where I’m supposed to be.
It’s freeing, comforting, empowering…

It’s home.

Monday, September 1

Return to the Arbor

This blog sat idle for most of the summer because, well, there wasn't much to tell.
I worked full time on first shift at a factory in Hudsonville called Royal Technologies.
Honestly, there's about 85% of my summer stories.

But on Friday I returned to my second home; moving two hours from 616 to 517: Spring Arbor.
My family knows that it's nothing against them at all, but I've been ready for this day for months.

Now that I'm here, though, I'm realizing a lot of things... one of them:

I'm responsible to help ease the transition into and foster the spiritual growth of 22 freshmen girls.
Can anyone just take a minute to sit with me and think about the weight of that?!
I've told each of them today that as their "Spiritual Life Adviser," it's not my job to preach Jesus at them. It's not like I have all of the answers to life's deepest questions and, as one dad (albeit it sarcastically) asked me today, I can not recite the entire bible.
I can, however, have an open door, open ears, open arms, and an open heart.
After a few very long days this weekend of SLA training, talks with my wonderful RA-Becca, some serious self-examination of my heart, many many prayers, more than a few cups of hot caffeine, and my finally starting to get settled in with my roommate, Corina, today...I'm feeling more and more confident that this is what I need to be doing.
One of the important things that was stressed at training was that we should never feel completely prepared. Total preparedness means that our dreams are within reach by means of our own strength. We were really encouraged to make goals that would require us to rely on God more fully. This is something that's hard for me: I want to pick a reasonable goal, take logical steps, and make plans to carry it out. Unfortunately this really isn't going to be a thing that will get me through this year.

I can already tell that this year is going to be an amazing one, but doubtless, there will be bumps.
From the few short hours that I've known them, I can tell we've got so many different personalities, family lifestyles, personal habits, relational approaches, and life perspectives.
Yes, I am excited.
But I'm also anxious.
Because I know that I, in my own strength, am not enough.
But in Christ, I am fully enough.
I have everything that I need.

It would mean so much to me to know that this ministry would be lifted up in prayer by those of you back home. (Lord knows I'm going to need extra measures of almost everything!)

Monday, May 5

dear little fighter,

I've only had the blessing of knowing you for almost half of your short little life, but you've gone straight to my heart.
I know that being not even two means that reading isn't exactly your strong point, but I have to believe that heaven lets everyone read if they want to.

Ayden, you've melted a lot of hearts. You've caused a lot of smiles. Your little giggle was contagious. You've given a lot of hope. You've brought people together. You've redefined 'family' and 'second chances' and 'unconditional love.'  You've touched so many lives that I can't even begin to chip away at the amazing little man you are and the lessons you've taught all of us big kiddos.

The few days that I spent babysitting you were introspective and beautiful. I saw baby Julia in your tiny, itty bitty, premie baby form. I took you on walks up north && people thought you were my kid. 
You're a sweetie && a part of you will live in me forever.

My heart aches for you and your family, little buddy. I take all of the hurt and the heaviness in my heart and have to multiply it in order to even scratch the surface of what your mommy and daddy and big brother and sister must feel right now.
But they'll be taken care of, little man. Don't you worry about that. We'll all make sure that you'd family gets the help they need.
We're all going to have holes in our hearts for you, little buddy. They'll take different shapes, but none of our lives are going to be the same without you. 

My song of prayer for your mommy and daddy and brother and sister is by Allison Krauss. I know you love your praise & worship music, but I like to think you'd have liked this one, too. 

"The wind is blowing down the quiet river,
a shining road that carries you alone.
Baby boy my love will last forever.
If you're to live, I must give you up to God.

I know our God will guide, protect and keep you.
Teach you faith and hold you by the heart.
Though your mother's heart is broken by your leaving,
her Father knows just who he is and who you are.

The wind is blowing down the silent river,
a shining road that leaves me all alone.
A life for you's worth losing you forever.
Some day we'll stand in God's fair land, forever home.

I wish that life wasn't always ending up this way,
with Heaven's love at stake and hell to pay.
But you in God's loving plan might be the missing part.
But you must live.
So I give you to his heart."

Don't you worry, little buddy. 
I know you're scared. You don't know what's going on inside of you, and neither do we. 
You can't grasp the idea of a God who loves you more than all of the rest of us combined, but He has a firm grasp on you; He is holding you so close to His heart. 
As you face your last days, bud, know that you're surrounded in so much love. As you transition from the valley of the shadow to your eternal rejoicing, the flannel blankets you're covered in will become blankets of prayers around both you and your family. 

Go in peace, little man. 
You don't have to fight so hard anymore.
We're going to miss you more than anything, but we love you enough to let you go into a healthy, free, beautiful eternity in the presence of your Maker. 

Wednesday, April 30

Welcome to College!

I've found like seven billion viral blog posts about things you learn your first year in college and things you need to know before you move into college and tips for surviving college and all of that.
I read those to no end in the weeks and months prior to my moving on campus.
As I reread some of them now, I chuckle && find myself thinking, "Well that's sort of true...half of this list applies to come nobody says anything about ______?"
So I decided that writing my own random list would be better.
Not all of these will be true for everyone in every school.

A more accurate title for this post would be
"Lessons Learned by an Academically Driven Introverted Middle Class 
White Girl Attending a Small Liberal Arts University in a Small Town
 in the Middle of Nowhere, Michigan Studying Social Work and 
Participating in the Honors Program: Listed in No Particular Order"

but let's be real, that's kind of wordy...

This is for all of you high school friends graduating this year or in the near future,
for you family members && family friends wondering what I'm learning besides academic mumbo-jumbo(:

  • everyone else is as awkward and insecure as you are. don't even try to cover it up, embrace it and laugh about it. you're all in the same boat.
  • your grades first semester kind of actually do matter. and gen eds can be hard sometimes. so plan on putting forth some effort. after all, you're living at school to go to school.
  • going in blind for a roommate sounds really scary, but it's not. DO IT! you won't regret it. you and your roommate don't get along? there are other people in the same situation on campus. you can switch, or you tough it out. either way you learn a lot.
  • there are people all around campus that genuinely want to pour into your life. let them.
  • the more honest you are with people, the more honest they will be with you. this applies to friendships, professors, and just about anyone you will meet.
  • GO. TO. CLASS. it's the only way you're going to get information.
  • SKIP CLASS. not all of the time. not all or any of your classes. but sometimes you desperately need a mental health day. choose those skips wisely, know the absence policy, get notes from someone else, but skipping once will not kill you.
  • sleep is kind of really important. like. *really* important. you think you know this now, but you will forget.
  • the food you had on your visit day is a treat. sorry, the dining commons aren't always that nice. pretty soon you'll be able to tell when there are visiting underclassmen on campus within about three seconds of seeing what's for dinner.
  • ^^^however, there is more than just pizza and hamburgers. you just have to know where to look.
  • you have more freedom now than you ever have before. it's a beautiful thing, but don't abuse it. just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
  • you're going to lose touch with some people from high school. you'll find out who you really need in your life and who was just there for a season.
  • there will always be people smarter than you. this is a fact. get over it.
  • ^^this doesn't mean that you're not smart.
  • find ways to give back on campus. profs in your major have all sorts of ideas and volunteer opportunities. [I'm an assistant in the CASE program for high functioning kids with autism; it's a hoot and you're gaining skills.]
  • i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there's still going to be drama. different drama, but still drama.
  • ring by spring is a thing. all of a sudden it's april and everyone starts getting engaged!!
  • you will have friends of the opposite gender and people will try to convince you to date. don't make it awkward, enjoy their friendship.
  • no matter how confining it tends to feel, there will be things about your hometown that you miss more than anything else.
  • other people will find these hometown oddities ^^ absolutely HYSTERICAL. some of my friends are making a road trip to Holland for Tulip Time. Me? I'm staying at school. Too many tourists. But I look forward to getting their perspective.
  • you will not get along flawlessly with your roommate every second of every day. you will fight about weird things. Example: the pronunciation of words like "bagel" and "vague." (Yes, that happened.) 
  • textbook swaps are a beautiful thing. ain't nobody got the money for brand new books!
  • there will be "those people" in every class that you want to strangle. some of them are the teacher's pets, some of them are the ones chronically late. don't kill them, it's usually frowned upon.
  • if you're not comfortable with your floor knowing what you're venting about, vent quietly and to someone that doesn't live on campus.
  • there will be really random things that you need to call home for. laugh about them.
  • you're going to meet a crap ton of people during orientation. you're not going to remember half of their names, and if you've got one or two people that remember yours you're doing well.
  • be yourself from day one. there's nothing more frustrating than putting the effort into getting to know someone, only to find out that they're nothing like they were the first week.
  • find those people you can be brutally honest with. don't go pouring out your life story to anyone, but you're going to need those people and the only way to forge those kind of friendships is being vulnerable.
  • weird traditions are okay. we have 'cheese tuesdays.' only they're rarely actually on tuesdays anymore. but a few of us get together and eat lots of (semi)expensive cheese and watch random stuff on youtube and laugh and just spend time together.
  • the people who observe your weird traditions are usually just jealous; offer people cheese and all sorts of fun conversations take place!
  • not all people who go to church are 'good people;' not all 'good people' go to church.
  • everyone is at different stages. yes, you're all moving into school. some people are too mature for their own good. some people have absolute zero maturity. try to maintain some middle ground.
  • the first week will feel like church camp. you'll blink and you've already fallen into a routine. it doesn't take long for school to feel like home.
  • you blink again and OH GOOD LORD IT'S FINALS WEEK.
  • finals week is scary. actually it's terrifying! but it's also 100% survivable.
  • on occasion, you will find yourself doing things you swore you'd never do. this isn't always bad. but don't compromise what you know you believe.
  • oftentimes the people giving you tough love are the people that really care about you the most. you're allowed to hate them, but also thank them when you realize that they've been right all along.
  • when in doubt, laugh at yourself. because, let's be honest, the level of awkward and random things you do is going to be ridiculous. so make mistakes, laugh at them, learn from them, and move on.

Thursday, March 20


My second tattoo happened!!

I've been met with a lot of mixed opinions...and I'm more than willing to respect them. I know, especially across generations, tattoos seem to be considered a rebellious, impulsive, and/or unwise decision.
I am a little bit of a rebel... but
No, this was not a decision I made as an act of defiance.
No, this was not an impulsive decision.
No, I do not regret it. Only time will truly tell if I ever will, but as of right now, I am more than content.

I've gotten a lot of questions about it's meaning and honestly, it's not an incredibly simple answer.
So this post is the explanation of my tattoo.

The base scripture behind it is from Psalm 119:115; "thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."
          -This tattoo is a reminder to me that I need to let Christ guide my footsteps.
So why *this* lamppost?
This is (ever slightly altered) the illustration in C. S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe.
I love books. There is a special spot in my heart for children's literature. I love C. S. Lewis. [Insert C. S. Lewis quote here: A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.] I love allegories...especially allegories of Christianity. I have learned so much about my faith by reading about the nature of Aslan.
This tattoo reminds me to
          -demonstrate courage, protection, and leadership like Peter
          -experience complete forgiveness like Edmund
          -exemplify gentleness and be nurturing to others like Susan
          -cling to my childlike faith and trust others fully like Lucy
          -hold the same reverence for my God as the beavers do for Aslan
          -serve in Aslan's armies with the dedication like the fox
          -turn from wrong and fight the good fight like Mr. Tumnus 
          -give freely of my gifts like Father Christmas
          -and to believe in radical adventures and keep an open mind like the professor.
It also reminds me to live outside of my comfort zone. (loose paraphrase:) "Everyone knows that it's unwise to close the door behind yourself in a wardrobe." ...and once you enter, you reach "The land of Narnia...all that lies between the lamppost and the creat castle of Cair Paravel on the Eastern Sea." It is in this place that adventures happen; you grow, you learn, you take risks, you fight, you sacrifice, and you spend time with a great lion... who, just like God, is Good, but is certainly not safe. The lamppost is a boundary. It's a guideline and a way to orient yourself. I need a lot of lampposts in my life; I need to be told what is good, where I am, and where I need to go from here.
In the book, the lamppost stands the test of time. Even years after they last saw it, the four Kings and Queens of Narnia use it to direct them back home. It is a constant light that never goes out.

Sunday, March 2

identity retreat.

I am an introvert.
I can't deny this fact, and I don't really want to.
Because it's good and genuinely important for me to get my alone time in.
But it also means that we need to do a little celebrating right now, because I have successfully attended TWO retreats, TWO weekends in a row.
[I can hear the applause right now from those of you that know me...I know. It's a big deal.]
And so the past two weekends I've been out and about and doing things.

Two weeks ago was the honors retreat...
laughing like goons and meeting other smart people and then making fun of ourselves for the dorks that we really are and then laughing some more
murder mystery dinner, photo scavenger hunt
meeting new people, strengthening existing friendships
(did I mention that it was also my birthday? yeah.
I turned 19 surrounded by a bunch of hysterical fellow dorks & there is absolutely no other way that I would have preferred to celebrate! Except for the fact that they made me stay up late so that they could actually sing to me at 12:01 am on my birthday. That wasn't the greatest...but good as a whole.)

But this weekend.
Ohhhhh, this weekend.
I was in NO way prepared for the things God was going to throw at me on this retreat.
Officially called the "Who Do You Think You Are?" retreat, less formally known (in part because it's easier to hashtag, if we're honest:) the Identity Retreat.
If I am genuinely honest, I went into the weekend with a terrible attitude. I didn't need to go on an identity retreat; I had my own issues and I had them figured out and I knew that God loved me and that was that. However, with a little prompting 10 days ago (after my ignoring God's nudging for weeks), I agreed to go. Heck, $35 bucks and I could spend a weekend off campus with a couple friends and listen to some speakers and maybe I'd walk away with a personal little nougat of truth that I could fit into my fantastic life mentality and sense of self.
I have been much too arrogant and self-absorbed lately. I have been focusing so much on myself that I've forgotten that everything God has extended to me, I need to extend to the people in my life.
[If I have been a jerk to you in the past few weeks or even months, I am sorry. I'm working on is difficult, but I am growing.]

Though this blog isn't the place for me to share the depths of everything going on in my life (that's the other blog, actually. if you want access to that, let me know and i'll duke it out with you:), but I can share random quotes I heard, questions that resonated me, things I scrawled down, and tidbits I have taken to heart.

"How often do we actually stop everything to look at people in the eyes and think about the things that THEY carry? Who you are and your insecurities fall to the wayside as you think about their needs and their story...just by looking in their eyes."

"When I try to prove my identity through my actions I lose my identity in my limiting actions. I am who I am, no matter what I do."

"Getting everything we ever wanted does not satisfy our appetites, it merely increases them and frustrates our identity with what we have or don't have."

"If your 'stuff' isn't your identity, you can't make it someone else's identity, either."

[a personal favorite of mine...LOVE this one]
"I am not the person that I am supposed to be, but thank God I am not the person I used to be."

"Jesus did not call me to my own obsessive standard of perfection, He called me to walk humbly and intimately with Him...nothing more."

"We hide ourselves because we think that we're protecting ourselves and our shame, but all we're doing is preventing ourselves from something good. We try to push God out because of our fear of being hurt by people."

"Sometimes we question if God is talking to our REAL selves or our pretend selves."

"God CREATED me and LOVES me UNCONDITIONALLY -- who I am is enough, for I am His PRECIOUS DAUGHTER and that is ALL that matters."

"...this is all GOOD&TRUE & I need to take it to heart, but it's also true of everyone else. I can not limit God's love and support and acceptance to just me; instead, I am called to try to love like Jesus."

"Pruning means things get trimmed off and walking on water means getting out of the boat and growth means change. And change is hard. But faith begins by letting go."

[this is the mission statement I had to forge over the weekend. it's hard. but this is what i got.]
"I am a beloved daughter of the King and am, in this very moment, exactly where He needs me. I can trust His guidance and plan for me. Above all else, His definition of me is what matters and I will learn to see and value and love myself and others like He does."

Sunday, February 23

19 lessons in 19 years.

  •  Running helps anything
endorphins are your friends. i'm an empty  head runner, meaning i don't think while i run. it is such a beautiful thing.

  • You always have more people to support you than you realize
sometimes you will hate the fact that people are on your side because you'd rather hate them; sometimes you have no idea that someone is supporting you and they turn out to be invaluable...but those people always exist.

  • Good coffee fixes almost anything
there are precious few things that a venti latte extra shot does not fix; even in these 'unfixable' situations, it helps

  • Yes, Jesus is always the answer
always always always always always.

  • Typewriters are a great investment, as is good chocolate 
yes, it's sort of like going back in history, but i LOVE my typewriter.
and expensive chocolate is always a good choice.

  • Homework before Netflix, but Netflix sill needs to happen
NETFLIX IS DISTRACTING!! but sometimes you write better papers when you're watching netflix. if you don't take a break, your head will implode. i am not kidding.

  • Get out of your dorm, be friendly, & do stuff
this one took me pretty much a whole semester to learn, but 99% of the time, if you want to be friends with people, you actually have to leave your dorm room for more than just class

  • Ask hard questions & grapple with the answers
I have been told time and time again that there is no better place or time to deal with hard questions of theology than here and now. USE YOUR DANG RESOURCES to figure out what you believe.

  • Stick to your guns, but be respectful of others 
what you decide that you believe won't always be popular. even in a small, Christian community, my views are different than some other people's. do not change your views for someone else, but do not try to stuff your theology down someone else's throat. (this does not mean that heated discussions are not allowed...heated discussions can be REALLY GOOD things, respect just has to be understood).

  • Take risks, be vulnerable, go out on a limb
nobody wants to be "that one guy" different from everyone else, but if you dare to be that guy, chances are that there will be people who will stand alongside you & everyone will be better because of it

  • Make intentional time for Jesus every day
It's easy to claim to be a Christian, to call on God when we need something, and to go about our day as decently good individuals, but growth and learning only happen when you're intentionally open and receptive to listening.

  • Pray before your meals
It can be the same prayer. It can be three words or three minutes. But it's a really good reminder.

  • Boys are dumb & sometimes they hurt you; don't make excuses for them 
Sometimes you date them and they hurt you. Sometimes you're friends and they're confusing. They will be dumb. But they're their own species and their own individuals and let them do what they do. But never settle for someone who treats you any less than you deserve.

  • Sleep is the most important thing you can do for yourself
sleep is more important than good food and working out and doing your homework. you have to do all of the other things, too. but sleep is kind of the most important by a long shot.

  • There are people that you don't like; be nice, but realize you're not going to be everyone's best friend
sometimes people are jerks or are just weird. you can't go out and change people, just let them be weird and try to limit your funny looks and eye rolls.

  • An iPhone will not make you happy; be content with whatever you're given in life
my crap trac phone serves me just fine. yes, everyone else has the latest and greatest of everything, but it's not an essential. get over it.

  • Work to have a big group of friends in college, it'll broaden your horizons
being friends with only people in your major, dorm, year, or classes won't really push you. plus you'll miss out on meeting a lot of great people and a ton of potential friendships. so meet people. and then meet people that those people know. and then talk to the people that they know.

  • Grades are not everything, but try hard anyway
there will be scores that you're not proud of. there will be technical errors that will steal points from you. news flash: YOU WILL NOT ACE EVERY SINGLE CLASS AND THAT IS OK. but that doesn't mean you get a free pass to fail; keep trying.

  • Writing things out will always help you make sense of them
i love my typewriter for this. and my blog. and any one of my multiple journals. but when you process things in words, outside of your head, you can realize how dumb some of your logic is.

Sunday, February 16

the early service

to say that today has been a rough day thus far would be a little bit of an understatement

...though i vividly remember taking my meds last night, it looks like i didn't
therefore, last night i did not sleep.
yeah, no joke.
wasn't any type of placebo effect, because i genuinely believed that i took them
but my less than two or three hours of sleep tells otherwise.

when this happens my sleep just gets thrown off for a night or two
and i'm back to normal lickedy split

so this morning i rolled out of bed,
frustratingly wide awake for the fact that it was 7am on a Sunday morning
and got myself to the SAFMC early service.

Mind you, I've never been to the early service.
All of the college students go to the second service...
more contemporary worship, later start time, more students.

But this morning I was up
[and I'm expecting an important phone call this afternoon,
so the sooner i was back in my room the better]
and figured... why not?

Let me tell you,
I stepped outside this morning and literally gasped.
God is *SO* good.

The weather around here has been pretty consistent: cold
but not a lot of snow this week.
I stepped outside of my building and snow was flying everywhere
huge flakes, reminiscent of the lake effect snow i see at home
and an accumulation of around 2 inches overnight.

It was absolutely beautiful.

As I walked into the FMC I was greeted by all of the friendly old people
and called a Snow Princess by more than a few, due to the fact that I was covered in snow(:
I got myself a hot cup of coffee
and sat down in the front row of the balcony
(unbeknownst to me, I think I stole a young family's regular spot
and the row behind me was full, but no one sat next to me. oh well :)
I got to sing hymns for the first time in awhile
and just truly loved the concept of being at church, surrounded by people, and still alone.
I didn't have friends on either side of me.
I didn't have people to talk to, or really a single face that I knew anywhere near me.

February is the FMC missions emphasis month, so we studied SAFMC's mission text, Isaiah 11:9
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea
let me tell you, this was an interesting concept.
The prophecy in the preceding verses, given 700 years before Christ, is equivalent to someone in 1314 accurately describing the workings of the internet. It's ridiculous how accurate they were!

...but the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord...
as the waters cover the sea
or, as was the example used today, as the snow covers the parking lot.

you take away the snow and the parking lot is barely recognizable
you take away the waters from the sea and you have no sea
you take away the knowledge of the LORD and the earth falls apart,
for in Him all things hold together.

Monday, February 3

the "HONORS" in my art foundations class

I'm a social work major and psychology minor. I love people. That's who I am. So bear with me on this little rambling:

There's this guy named Abraham Mazlow and he lived a good long while ago.
He came up with the concept that all of human's needs and goals in life come in stages.
Basic needs are at the bottom (the foundation) and more superficial needs are at the top.

The goal of every human being is to reach to top of the pyramid, self-actualization, being the best that you can be, yada yada yada. Pretty self explanatory:

Change gears for just a second with me. Honors Art Foundations: ART152H.
Memorize the names and artists of 50 famous paintings, take trips to the DIA and the Frederick Meijer Gardens, learn basic principles of art and design, discuss art at a professional level, so on and so forth.
But the "honors" idea of this course means we're also discussing Mazlow. Where does art fit into this?

Traditionally, Mazlow's hierarchy puts art and creativity as a self-actualization need. You have to have accepted yourself, gained respect and intimacy, and maintained all of your physiological and safety needs before you can think about creating things.
But I've got a problem with that, as does our prof.

If art is a self-actualization need... 
Why did people in concentration camps create art?
Why is art therapy such an important part of inpatient AND outpatient hospitalization for things like suicidality and depression? 
Why are things like dance and theater so freeing for people struggling with maintaining a healthy self-esteem?
Some of these groups aren't even above a "level 1" according to Mazlow! 

Here's a prime example from a friend of mine working internationally to end sex trafficking (check out her blog at ...her photo here:)

(Megan's words: )
"Yesterday we visited a former brothel in Svay Pak, a village formerly notorious for child trafficking. It was once estimated that over 90% of the children living in the village were victims of forced prostitution. In the brothel they showed us the one room they still have intact. At first it just seemed like a room to me but, then I turned around a saw this drawing on the wall. Suddenly this room was real to me. So many girls were trapped inside the four walls I was standing in. Some young girl probably drew this picture while she passed the horrific time between clients. The artist has a name and a story..."

Why did this girl who, according to Mazlow is a level 1, likely lacking even immediate safety needs, create art? Art did nothing to move her up the scale. Art did not make her safe. Art did not improve her immediate condition. Art did not erase the pain or the shame she was forced into time after time, john after john, day after day.
Why did she make art?

So here's what I walked out of that class today thinking and mulling over:
Art is a part of the human condition.
Art is a part of what makes humanity, humanity. 
We were made in the image of our Creator, and each of us has a part of the Master Creator within us. 
Organized religion usually falls, according to Mazlow, in the "Esteem" category. 
Dance and photography and creation and literature and expression are a part of self-actualization... but what if they're not?

Here's my proposal.
Somewhere between physiological and safety needs, we need to add in the concept of hope.
Hope is a requirement for the human condition. We have to believe that there is a chance, however slim, that there's something more than the brokenness we feel in whatever situation. 
If we're lucky enough to have been born into a middle class US background, this concept of hope could mean "I believe that I can become more than that label that someone put on me. I believe that I can succeed in this class/job/etc." But if we're not...maybe hope means "I believe that there is a chance, however slim, that I'll make it out of this concentration camp alive. I believe that there is a possibility for me to escape the cycle of prostitution. I believe that I can rise above my family's extreme poverty."

Art is an expression of hope.

But what about sad art? What about drawings of girls scrawled on brothel walls? What about photographs of death or abstract paintings depicting deep emotional turmoil? What if the artist is feeling hopeless?

Expression of pain...maybe even that is a sign of hope. 

What if we hypothesize that art created with the emotional mentality "This REALLY sucks!" is a simplistic way of saying the words that our hearts can't always fathom
...that maybe art created in pain is also a way of saying "Someone come take a look at this. Look at everything that's wrong with the present situation. Let me draw your attention to earth's brokenness and pain and maybe you or someone you know have the skills to pour a little bit of life and light into this situation. This is not fair, what are you going to do to fix it?"

So I leave you, me, and the globe (or the what...twelve people that'll ever read this post) with an idea...

Art is a fundamental part of the human condition. 
The need for creation is built in to us just like the need for food and pooping. 
Humanity needs to express itself in order to survive.
Art is as essential as breathing. 

Saturday, January 25


I want adventure in the great wide somewhere // I want it more than I can tell // And for once it might be grand // to have someone understand // I want so much more than they've got planned

"a strong desire to travel"

I've got a pretty severe case of it.

Mexico, Cambodia, Greece, Hawaii, New York, California, Alaska, Puerto Rico...
it seems like so many people that I know are either going to school in far-off places,
have traveled recently,
or are making plans to.

And it is truly sparking my passion for Cairo again.
I never really gave up on it or outgrew my excitement to travel,
but I want it more than anything again.

I want to travel.
I want to see the sights
and experience the cultures
and take in the views
and be immersed in the way of life so different from my own.

I want to get on an airplane
and for a little bit,
to be so completely independent.
I want to be out in the world
and traveling
and seeing
and experiencing.

I have in no way lost my desire, my gumption, my passion, my plans, by dream. travel...

Tuesday, January 14

goodbyes are hard.

I'm not related to her. I wasn't exceptionally close to her.
But her passing makes my heart heavy.

Lucy was to me an example of how I wanted to age; to grow old, but not to grow up.
She wasn't afraid to call herself old, but she had a child's heart and a childlike faith that was evident to all who knew her.
She had her priorities straight: God first, then people, then laughter. That woman, she knew how to laugh.
I'm blessed to be able to cherish a few inside jokes (Alyssa, Danielle, Claire...the ugly frogs? :).
She made everyone feel valued; she was selfless, empathetic, and supportive whenever anyone needed an ear or a shoulder.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with a heavy heart,
for we have all lost a godly woman of faith and a dear friend.

Saturday, January 11

Is Jesus an alien?

This is going to sound really random, maybe a little bit sacrilegious if interpreted certain ways, and potentially a little bit crazy. I'm aware of this. But just roll with me here.

Mr Prof, Dr. Cornell, talked in passing yesterday about how Jesus ascended with a human body. This means that, depending on your personal theology, we believe that Jesus is still out there in the flesh.
Kind of strange to think about, no?
So Dr. C hypothesized, albeit somewhat sarcastically, that maybe Jesus was out in the 17th dimension or hiding behind the no-longer-planet Pluto.
And that got me thinking.

Maybe He is.

I'm not saying that I believe that when we discover the 17th dimension, we'll find Jesus.
I'm not claiming that I know how to find God in the flesh.
But can you take me behind Pluto and to the 17th dimension to prove to me that He's not there?

Because somehow, in the complex and inconceivable thing called faith,
I have to believe that somewhere, right now, and in some way,
Jesus has skin on.
The gnostic way of thinking is wrong, because our bodies aren't prisons.
God took on human form  because it's worth redeeming,
He was fully human,
and I don't believe that He's shed his flesh.
He's coming back in the flesh,
bringing a very physical New Jerusalem.

So He's out there.

Maybe this Jesus is the closest thing I can believe in to an alien.
..and maybe, just maybe, I'm okay with that.

God in the 17th dimension
hidden behind the mass of Pluto
truth beyond fathom and proof
in"CARNE"tion : with meat
the God-man in the flesh
maybe drinking a Pepsi
amazed and in tune
so far away
yet full of personal interaction
with His chosen people
the little homo sapiens
back on planet earth

Thursday, January 9

/ˈsōjərn/ sojourn:a temporary stay

every so often you just hear a song...and you fall in love with it.
for absolutely no reason.
or does that just happen to me?

[Rich Mullins :: Land of My Sojourn]

and the coal trucks come a-runnin'
with their bellies full of coal
and their big wheels a-hummin'
down this road that lies open like the soul of a woman
who hid the spies who were lookin'
for the land of the milk and the honey
and this road she is a woman
she was made from a rib
cut from the sides of these mountains
oh these great sleeping Adams
who are lonely even here in paradise
lonely for somebody to kiss them
and i'll sing my song (i'll sing my song)
in the land of my sojourn

and the lady in the harbor
she still holds her torch out
to those huddled masses who are
yearning for a freedom that still eludes them
the immigrant's children see their brightest dreams shattered
here on the New Jersey shoreline in the
greed and the glitter of those high-tech casinos
but some mendicants wander off into a cathedral
and they stoop in the silence
and there their prayers are still whispered
and i'll sing their song (i'll sing their song)
in the land of my sojourn

nobody tells you when you get born here
how much you'll come to love it
and how you'll never belong here
so I call you my country
and i'll be lonely for my home
and i wish that i could take you there with me

and down the brown brick spine of some dirty blind alley
all those drain pipes are drippin' out the last Sons of Thunder
while off in the distance the smoke stacks
were belching back this city's best answer
and the countryside was pocked
with all of those mail pouch posters
thrown up on the rotting sideboards of
these rundown stables like the one Christ was born in
when the old world started dying
and the new world started coming on
and I'll sing His song (I'll sing His song)
in the land of my sojourn