6.1.2018 – Dear Christine,

Dear Christine,

It’s been a little over a week since I found out you were gone.  I haven’t been the same since.  My dad keeps telling me that I should talk to you, but every time I try to start up a conversation, I find myself…stuck.  “I’m sorry for-“; “I should’ve-“; “I wish-“; “I miss-“

I can never get the fucking words out.  It feels so cowardly.  And I’m so, so sorry for that.

Whenever things become difficult for me to handle, I bury them into this fragile-ass, cookie jar of emotions that can never hold much at once.  I can stuff a little more in there if I take some time out of my day to just curl up and cry a few minutes, but I don’t think my metaphorical tape is holding the lid down too well anymore.  I haven’t emptied the jar in a while, and everything is just overflowing all at once.

I should’ve had called you.  It was only a couple weeks ago that our moms ran into each other.  They talked about finally having that class reunion we always talked about.  I thought we had more time.  When I heard about how you left this world…my heart sunk.  I was so ashamed of myself.

You had died doing the same thing I had tried to do.  But I got to live.  I got a second chance, and I don’t even know what the hell I’m doing with it half the time.

I wish I’d talked to you about what we were going through.  I wish I’d encouraged you, empathized with you.  But I was spending so much time trying to close my over-stuffed jar, I couldn’t see how much you, and all the other people in my life were struggling to close their’s too.

I miss you.  Your spunk.  Your sarcasm.  Your blunt humor.  It was you who first made me feel welcomed and home again when I came back to Glendale all those years ago.  I remember the way you shook me by the shoulders in the fourth grade and screamed at my face that I had to remember you.

I remember I was more surprised that you had remembered me yourself.  You made me feel so loved.

I wish you could see the way you’re bringing our class back together now.  Friends I haven’t spoken to in 8, 9 years.  Asking each other questions like, “Are you alright?”  “Have you been okay yourself?”  “Do you need anything”  And actually giving and getting honest answers.

My jar is cracking today.  I’ve spent all week trying to empty it out by surrounding myself with wonderful people, fun outings, good food.  But I think I can’t take in all that good without emptying out all the bad first.

I’m sorry for ranting.  I’m not sure what it is I want to say.  But I promise I’ll try to keep talking to you in the meantime.

I need to pray again.  Ironically, it helps that one of my favorite Bible verses is about our treasures being held in jars of clay.

2 Corinthians 4: 7-9
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

I promise I’ll work on taking better care of my jar.  God’s got us both in his hands, love.

I can’t wait to see you again one day.  Goodnight.

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3/29/2018 – Investing in yourself when you’re broke is freaking difficult.

It’s 10:30 AM right now, and the only reason I’m starting this blog super early is because the Mac I was editing on crashed.  Ha.  AhhhhHhhHHHHH.

fine

I love expressing myself through gifs.  In case that wasn’t apparent from nearly every entry on this blog.

You know, I understand that money shouldn’t be our main concern in this life.  But it is really, REALLY hard to invest in your future when you just can’t afford to.

For example, this Mac I was editing on?  I DIDN’T EVEN BUY IT MYSELF.  I had to humble down and ask Josh if I could adopt his old one temporarily since my work laptop can’t handle anything Adobe related.  And keep in mind – this thing is nearly 10 years old.

But that’s just how desperate I am.

And now that I’m graduating in May (the one solid piece of good news I have regarding my future plans), there seems to be a LOT more things that I’m gonna need to start investing in right away.  Off the top of my head, the current list is: student loans, rent,  business cards, a new website, a more professional wardrobe, better film equipment, and a FREAKING COMPUTER THAT WORKS.

Alright.  Anxiety attack over.

I like how I can just do things in the middle of writing this.  It’s actually 11 now, so you can gauge how long I’ve been sitting here panicking.

But of course what helped me settle down is what always does, and always should.

God.

You are truly the homie.  (Is that inappropriate?  I talk to God like that a lot.)

Anyways, since Josh and I have been reading the Bible daily on our phone apps, I’ve discovered some of the cool features it has.  One of the features simply asks you how you’re feeling.  You click on the emoji that’s most accurate, and that leads to a list of more specific emotions.  I decided to go with overwhelmed.

Philippians 4:6 came up, and immediately after reading it, I felt comfort and relief.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

While it’s easier said than done sometimes, it helps to be reminded that in every case of anxiety I may have, God will always be listening and looking out for me.

And guess what?  THE MAC JUST STARTED WORKING AGAIN!  Dude.  God is just so freaking good.

Back to work I go!  I’m taking this one step at a time.

 

3/21,22,24-28/2018 – I’m a very emotional writer.

crywriting

I’m cracking up at my extensive title.

Yeah, this post kept getting delayed for some reason.  I started it last Wednesday, but then I ended up writing 50 pages of script that night after which I died peacefully for two hours.  Then Thursday I wrote some more, worked some more, cried some more, and passed out from sleep deprivation after work.  And then Friday, I just ended up writing a completely different post due to a burst of inspiration birthed out of pure annoyance.

Now we’re here.  Anddd, I really have no excuse for the other days other than my life had to be lived.  BUT, if it’s in any way redeeming, I did make sure to write in one way or another every day, even if it wasn’t for this blog.

I like how I’m trying to justify my lack of blog writing to my blog.

I love you blog.  I’ll always come back to you.

Anyways, since I’ve been writing on a daily basis (not including this blog), I’ve been coming to a better understanding of what my writing habits are.  Particularly because I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding my characters and how I write them.

What makes me like writing all these imperfect characters?  What makes me stay so interested in them?

I had to think about that one for a while.  I remember when I’d first started writing, all my characters were perfectly tragic characters who were too good for all the pain they were going through.  Perfectly resilient human beings who would never let their obstacles change them for the worse.

And they were all just terribly unrelatable.

I realized after a while that the reason my characters weren’t connecting with me because they lacked imperfection.  They were stale, and their emotions were so one-tone throughout their stories that I stopped caring about their journey.

So, I found that the only time my writing finally began to improve was when I just got freaking emotional.  I had to allow myself to become vulnerable, place myself in the journeys of these strangers, and think about how one would logically react to their negative circumstances.  And I think it worked.

I’m definitely not the greatest writer I can be yet.  I mean, this post took what, 6 days to come together to an unsatisfactory ending?  But I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Okay this has gone on long enough.  Tomorrow is a new day.  And these posts will eventually get better.  I think.

JENINE, OUT.
#intentionallystealingjoshsoutro

 

 

 

 

3/23/2018 – It’s the “little” things.

My mom and I used to fight a lot.  Not saying we don’t fight anymore, but we used to fight a lot.

Finally, a couple years ago, I finally blew up and opened up to my dad.

I don’t understand why she gets so upset over such little things!

I tell my dad almost everything, including my disagreements with my mom and with him, and he almost always approaches what I’m saying from an understanding perspective, and helps settle the fumes.  But this time, he looked at me straight in the eye and said,

You know…they’re not so little to your mom.

He went on to tell me to really analyze how these fights came to be over the last few years.

Why do you think all those things mattered to her?

And after some quiet thought, and some guidance from my dad, it finally hit me.

It was never the fact that there was an unwashed cup or two in the sink that day.  It was the fact that I’d forgotten on many occasions that she’d asked me to try not to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

It was never the fact that I was napping mid-day after work when I still had cleaning up to do.  It was the fact that I’d been putting off that responsibility myself on days where it could’ve easily been done.

And it was never the fact that I was standing up for myself at times when I knew that I was right and she was wrong.  It was the attitude in which I proved it to her that hurt her pride, and made her feel so much smaller.

Forgetfulness.  Laziness.  Attitude.   The little things.  I had no idea how much the little things had added up to the point where she felt I just flat out didn’t respect her.

I realized that my mom rarely gets upset at me when it comes to things I think will, or should, matter to her.  I remember in the past, I had failed one of my college classes during my sick leave, and I hid it from her until the last minute.

That was one of our worst fights.

And while I sought her understanding about how difficult it was to follow the course while sick at home, and how afraid I was to tell them, I refused to see the truth behind why she was actually so upset about it in the first place.

I hid it from her.

But during my last semester of college, I took a difficult Philosophy course that I knew I wasn’t going to do great in halfway through.  And this time, I nervously told her and my dad.

I’m really worried I’m going to fail.

And this time, I wasn’t met with anger and frustration – but encouragement.

It’s alright.  Just keep trying your best.
Talk to your dad – he might be able to help you since he took philosophy in college too.”

I didn’t know what it was about those couple of sentences that lifted my spirits so much.  But when the final came around for that class…I scored a 98%.  And passed the class with a C+.

My mom and I communicate a lot better nowadays.  And while this post isn’t meant to excuse any of the wrongs that came from either side of our fights, I think it’s a good reminder that our anger and frustration often stems from a need to be understood, and a misunderstanding that what is small to us, may mean something much larger to someone else.

Welp.  I think it’s time for me to make up with someone else now.

Jenine, out.

 

 

 

 

3/15-20/2018 – Did I do that?

Note: I’ve fallen asleep trying to finish this blog every day since the 15th.  It is now the 20th.  I am a mess.  BUT, at least I’m an active mess.

So today (the 15th), as a favor to a long-time friend, I ended up acting for the first time in quite a while.  It’s not something I pursue actively, but I realize that every time I do it, I actually end up having a really great time despite the nerves I get, and the fear that boils up inside me whenever I’m pretty sure I’ll forget my lines.  Is that…masochism?  I’m not quite sure.

Anyways, since said-friend is new to the ways of the film industry, I ended up helping him out a bit more with the script re-writes, the scene selection, and the casting.  It was fun to work on a project that wasn’t entirely my own and had someone else’s vision in mind.  Plus, we landed on one of my favorite scenes from one of my (only) favorite romcoms – “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

It’s the scene where Emma Stone’s character Hannah essentially spazzes out at the thought of going near Ryan Gossling’s character, Jacob, after drunkenly hitting on him.  It’s a good thing Hannah is supposed to be an anxious wreck – because I can play that part beautifully.

So rehearsal comes around.  We’re actually supposed to perform this scene live in front of my friend’s class at 7 before going out to film it next week.  So, I had to very quickly get acquainted with our actor, Kenny.  I mean, dude was about to whip his shirt off for everyone today.  We figured we owed him some polite conversation.  After a few minutes of awkward first-time introductions, we jumped right into the scene.

Our first run through was awful.  HILARIOUSLY awful.  Since it was our first time acting together, the chemistry was all over the place, and I was pretty sure we were going to be the reason my friend failed his class for the day.

BUT…by the grace of God, little by little, we got surprisingly good at our roles.  I think something that helped a lot was that, in between practice takes, we made conversation and opened up about what we wanted to improve in the scene together.  Plus, it sounds kind of silly, but once you let go of all the insecurities, it feels pretty good to just yell and ditz around all over the place.

Pause.  I think I get it now.  You know what it is I love about acting?  It’s the fact that, basically any interesting movie scene ever is based off of characters who completely lose their masks and their filters, and just say or do whatever’s on their minds.  It’s the story-element that drives every single plot forward – action.  Can you imagine any interesting scene where the guy and the girl sit together at a restaurant and just have small talk all night.  NO.

Human beings are drawn to the stories about people taking action.  Whether it’s a fight scene, or a love confession, or just taking a call to adventure – action is what attracts us, regardless of the genre.  And actors have the amazing, but difficult task of letting go of their insecurities to play a character who just DOES THINGS.

7:00 came.  We were the first two actors up.

And we ended up freakin killing it.

“Did I…do that?”

I was in slight disbelief at myself.  I know I had improvised some lines and yelled much more loudly than in rehearsals.  But seeing that people actually enjoyed what we did with the scene made all the risk worth it.  I high-fived my old professor, who just so happens to be my friend’s professor now.

“I never knew you had that in you!”

I grinned back.

“Neither did I.”

It’s now the 20th.  I’ve been writing out this story little by little each day since it’s just been a crazy busy this week.  BUT, I think it’s for a good reason.

I’ve been taking action.  I’ve been trying to fill my days with less depression naps, and a lot more productivity.  And I’ve gotta say, even though I feel tired beyond belief…my heart feels good.  I find myself making more conversations and connections.  Taking risks I wouldn’t normally take.

I think 2018 is going to be really great year.

action

And…action!

3/14/2018 – I should get mad more often.

Kidding.  Obviously kidding.

mad.gif

But actually, kind of not kidding?

Today, I realized I have a lot of repressed emotion.  Frustration being one of them.  You know, I think this blog is gradually becoming a daily self-analysis of my personality and behavior.  Is that a bad thing?

Anyways, going back to my inability to say no to stressful situations because I’m terrible at creating boundaries, today was a rough day at work.  Because I didn’t set any boundaries.

I’m only supposed to working from 8:30-11:30 AM every Monday through Friday.  But, I find pretty often that I end up working overtime without extra pay pretty often.  And that my work bleeds into other parts of my days or weekends that don’t fall under my work hours.  While I love what I do, and often don’t mind volunteering a couple hours here and there, today was just…not one of those days I could do that.

So today, I let myself get frustrated.  I spoke patiently with the principal of the school I work at and told her about all the things that were going wrong for the day.  And when I got into my car, I asked Josh if I could call.

And I just LET IT ALLLL OUT.

All my anger, frustration, desperation, and exhaustion.  I’m lucky he was kind enough to listen to it all.  And after it was all out, I suddenly felt so much lighter.  I always feel weighted down on work-heavy or stress-heavy days, like my feet are harder to lift off the ground, but I got out of my car later and just felt like I could keep going.  But as frustrated as I still was, I wasn’t bottling it up unnecessarily anymore and exerting even more energy than I could handle.

I settled with the fact that sometimes, things just aren’t okay.  They don’t have to be.  And, I don’t need to be okay if they aren’t.

So on a positive note – here’s to being more frustrated in the future!  I look forward to being angry with you soon!

 

 

 

 

Still kidding.

 

3/13/2018 – I think I think too much.

Yes, I promise that headline is grammatically correct.  Wanna know how I know that?

Because I think too much.

thinkthinkthink

The irony here is that no matter how much I think and get lost in my own thoughts, I still slip up pretty often.  Life is funny that way.  In fact, it took me the whole 45 minute drive home from Josh’s place, plus another 25 minutes sitting here in front of the computer (not counting the hour of mindless stalling I did via Facebook) to try and figure out what I even have to say that’s worth saying for today’s blog post.

I don’t think you realize how ridiculous that is to me.  There’s literally only one other person reading this other than myself.  And it’s JOSH.  (Shoutout to that nugget tho.)

Lately, I’m starting to realize how much fear really drives the entirety of my life.  Specifically, the fear of disappointing a crowd that, in fact, does not exist to cheer on my failures.  I notice I’m even afraid of any future audiences this blog may have, despite the fact that I have no current intentions to share this with the public.

I think over the years, I’ve just developed some terrible defense mechanism that trains me to make sure I avoid conflict and criticism of any kind.  And that’s just so…SAD.

I want to do better.  And to be more specific, I want my thoughts to be more rooted in “What would Christ do?” rather than “How can I impress this person in front of me?”  Cause man.  I have GOT to stop saying yes to all these favors people keep asking of me.  While I love helping people out, I just feel all this life force being drained out of my body at a time I need it the most.

Is it weird to say I need to think more about myself?

Cause it does sound weird.

At least…I think it does.  Badum-tssss.

3/12/2018 – The life-changing magic of letting things go.

titanicgif

^ me with almost everything

Thanks to Dan Harmon & Jessica Gao’s recent episode on their podcast “Whiting Wongs”, (plus the constant encouragement I get from Josh to just WRITE SOMETHING), I’ve decided it’s about time for me to start blogging daily!  I think the thing that resonated with me most from the podcast comes directly from the episode’s title.  “I hate writing.  But I love having written.”

Things are changing a little too quickly for me this year.  But honestly, I react this way whenever my lifestyle starts to take any sort of turn.  Recently, at a prayer meeting, we got down to the root of my problem – I have a hard time letting things go.  Doesn’t matter if they’re healthy or unhealthy habits, lifestyles, or groups of friends.  I fear change, and even just the possibility of being uncomfortable.

It’s the reason clutter tends to build up in my room quickly.  It’s the reason I avoid conflict at all costs.  And it’s the reason I haven’t been able to distance myself from my current job to pursue a career in what I really love.

Change can be all kinds of uncomfortable.

But leave it to God to throw me for a loop.  We never can just settle, can we? Because about a month ago, my entire family was caught off guard with the news that we would have to move out of the home we’d been renting out for the last three years – in two months time.

You can imagine the panic a family of planners might be going through when we hit that two-weeks-left mark before finally finding a new place to move into.  And while the new place seemed quite nice and close by, it was much, much smaller in terms of storage space.  Meaning the four of us had to cut down on a LOT, and I mean a LOT of clutter.  In two weeks.  Two.  Weeks.

Needless to say, it’s been rough these last few weeks.  Packing up, cleaning, and unpacking an entire home filled with things from as far back as our birth in less than a weeks time really takes a toll out of you.

But guess what?

In the end, it helped all of us, especially myself, to finally learn how to just…let go.

Since the move, I’ve gotten rid of about 10 bags and boxes full of items from just my room alone.  Unworn clothing, broken antiques, old textbooks, school notes, love letters, Christmas cards.  I looked at these piles of untouched items and thought to myself, “Damn.  Why did I keep all of this?…”

Marie Kondo explains it best in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”  I’ve been listening to the 5 hour audio book while unpacking and it’s been GREAT.  It actually helped me get rid of even more stuff.  Basically, she explains how once an item has fulfilled its purpose, it’s okay for us to let it go.  For example, a notebook full of old biology notes I never plan on re-reading.

Letting go of things doesn’t mean our memories of them lose their meaning.  It means we can thank them for what they’ve done for us, and move on with our lives.  We keep growing.

And I think this applies to every other part of my life.  By letting go, I can thank my past for its impact on who I am now, and start the process of growing again.  And it feels so good.

Today marks one of those days.

Earlier this afternoon, while at my local CVS, I was in the middle of purchasing a couple boxes of sanitary napkins because…hey.  I’m human and I bleed.  And while I was purchasing them from the male cashier, he kindly asked if I’d be needing a bag.  Me, being the stingy human being I am, thanked him and declined.  “Look at me, saving money,” I thought proudly to myself.  Yes.  I saved a dime.

But the guy behind me made a face.  “Are you sure you don’t want a bag for that?”  Confused, I nodded.  “Yeah, I can carry these pretty easily, no worries!”

I’d misunderstood his words as kind and worrisome for my sake.  But then he added, “You should probably get a bag for those though…it’s kinda gross to be carrying that out in the open, isn’t it?”

Amazed at his strange concern over my decision to hold my boxes of unused pads out in public for the 10 seconds I’d be walking to my car, I answered in sarcastic disbelief – “I’m so sorry…is my bloody vagina making you uncomfortable?”

Sorry for the crass language.  But for some reason, I just didn’t feel like taking things passively today.  The sass sorta just…poured out of me.

Apparently he wasn’t expecting such a blatant reply either.  Loudly, he replied, “Uh, yeah.  Yeah, it does make me uncomfortable.”

I smiled my friendliest smile, turned back towards the register, card in hand, and replied, “Well, I’m sorry your mother decided to have you instead of her bloody vagina.”

God bless that cashier for holding back his laughter.

“Have a nice day!” he chuckled as I walked out of that CVS proudly, pads in hand.

Today, I let go of my need to please everyone I meet, and just relished in the flood of confidence I’d just had.  It felt GREAT!  Also, those who know me know I’m not particularly great at comebacks.  Or any kind of conflict.  So this made me feel even better.

There really is something magical about just letting the little things go.

And now that I have this blog, it feels like I’ll be flying free in no time.

#WordVomitWednesdays 5: From wounds to scars.

Have you ever fallen over your own two feet and scraped your knees on the pavement?

It probably happens to me more to me than I’d like to admit, but I’m sure you’ve experienced it a few times in your life too.  Maybe more if you’re as much of a ditz as I am.

Every time it happens though, my least favorite part isn’t the fall itself.  What’s worse is the dread that comes with knowing, “Oh crap…that’s going to hurt SO much more later.”  ‘Cause, for me at least, treating the wound is usually more painful and scary than getting it.

Sometimes, I’ll try to ignore it for as long as I possibly can.  “You know what Jenine, this isn’t too bad.  If I think about it really hard, it just feels…really numb.”  Yeah.  That’s usually how I know it’s starting to get bad.  

But I have the biggest fear of that stinging sensation that comes when you start cleaning up that area with hydrogen peroxide and water.  It’s the worst.  It feels like fire and death.  And I absolutely despise it.

giphy

Oh, but it’s not over yet.  Nope.  Once you’ve bandaged that little sucker, it still hurts to walk around with, and it takes a while before it starts to look like regular skin again.  Then it starts to do that stupid thing where it begins to scab, but the scab doesn’t look like how your skin used to look or it feels funny, so you pick at it and pick at it until you accidentally make it bleed again.  TADA!  It’s back to being a wound.

…am I getting too graphic yet?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, our emotional wounds are so much more like our physical wounds than we realize.

They usually hurt like hell when get them.  But they’re a reminder about what we need to look out for, and how easy it is for us to get distracted.

Sometimes, we want to delay the healing process.  It hurts to talk or even think about the things that have made us feel so much pain and vulnerability.  But wounds only fester and come back to bite us even harder when we internalize that pain.

And when we finally start healing, it’s not always an easy process.   When we keep going back to the place that we were hurt and we peel off the layers that God has been building us to heal those pains- we start to bleed again.  And, we have to start that healing process all over again.

Making the transition from a wound to a scar is pretty difficult when you keep picking at the scabs.

But when that wound finally becomes a scar, it really is the most relieving sensation in the world.  You can finally run your fingers over that part of your body without flinching from the pain.  And sometimes, you can laugh about how you got it in the first place.  ‘Cause, look where you are now.  Happy.  Healed.  And ready to start walking by yourself again.

Just like the scars Christ bore after being hung on the cross to save us from our sins, our own scars have their significance too.  They remind us of who we are, what we’ve overcome, and all that we are capable of overcoming.

We just have to be willing to fight the pain, and start to heal.

Thanks for reading!  And as always, click below to read more word vomits and mind farts from some pretty great people.

Taylor // Brian // Xing // Judy // Justin // Hnou // Esther // Josh

#MindFartMondays 4: Miracles happen

“Once in awhile…when you believeee.”

I hope the song from Princess Diaries is playing on repeat in your head like it is in mine.

So for those of you who have followed this blog in the past, one thing is very clear:  I definitely did not stick to my goal of posting once a week.  (3 week streak though, hooray!)  In fact, I’ve been putting off posting for months now, and I’ve been making plenty of excuses for myself along the way.

However, something miraculous happened this past weekend.  God touched my life in a way that I never expected, or even thought possible.  And I’m pretty sure that now, He’s calling me to talk about it openly without shame.

For the last four to five months, I’ve been dealing with a condition known as Red Skin Syndrome, an ailment caused by steroid withdrawal from medicine prescribed to me by my doctor for eczema. Unfortunately, my body reacted negatively to the steroids and went into a severe relapse after the treatment ended, flaring up at extreme levels.  This, plus the combined methane toxins in the air from the Porter Ranch gas leak, led to my body becoming an absolute mess.

The symptoms included unbearable itching, skin breakages, rashes, severe skin shedding, nausea, insomnia, hair thinning, and chills.  

Side bar- DON’T TREAT YOUR ECZEMA WITH STEROIDS.  

After consulting a doctor about it, I was advised to take medical leave from both work and school for a few months.

I was devastated.  Lying idle at home for days on end isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be.  Especially when it’s physically painful to even move around the house.  I hated the fact that I couldn’t get out of bed without wanting to break down.  Part of me became angry at God because I couldn’t understand what the purpose of this suffering was.  

In the past two weeks, my condition eased up enough for me to be able to return to my work and classes.  But I was still hurting, still miserable, struggling to re-adapt to being amongst crowds of people every day.  Worst of all, my neck- one of the most eczema-ridden parts of my body- was constantly tearing and breaking, and it was visible to anyone who wanted to make conversation with me.  I could barely tilt my head up towards the sky without it coming apart.  The constant comments about it have eaten away at my self-esteem.

Fast forward to last Saturday.  My boyfriend, Josh, had been telling me about an upcoming event called Azusa Now that was happening that day- a huge gathering of thousands and thousands of people at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where the crowd was dedicating the entire day to fasting, prayer, proclamation of the Gospel, and signs and wonders for Christ.  I’d never been to an event like this, and I was intrigued when I heard that people would often pray over the ailments of others for healing.  Since I couldn’t attend the event myself, I decided to live stream the whole thing while catching up with some work I was doing on the side.

It.  Was.  Beautiful.  You’d think that watching it online would take away from the magic of it all, but there were over twenty thousand other people watching that live stream with me, all of us being touched and moved by the music, the prayers, and the healing that was happening at the Azusa Revival.  In the chat room, people were sending out prayers and encouragement to strangers around the world.

Around 8:00 PM, a woman named Heidi Baker went up on stage.  “For those suffering from skin ailments, allergies, digestion problems and the like…we pray for your healing now.  We pray that God give you healing.”  She told us to focus on John 6, Jesus’ Feeding of the Five Thousand, and to remember that no matter how broken we were, God would fill us and make us whole.  I closed my eyes and let her words seep in.  A warm sense of peace came over me.  I felt so blessed that God had gathered all of these amazing people together to pray over one another so selflessly.

8:06 PM.  I got up to use the restroom when I noticed that something was off.  I felt..lighter.  My hand reached for the wounds that I’d become so accustomed to feeling on my neck.

But nothing was there.

I ran towards the mirror in my room and moved my neck around little by little. No pain.  No tearing.  No bleeding.  No eczema.

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For a second I thought I was daydreaming, so I leaned my head back and took a photo of my neck.  But it was as real as ever.  I started to tear up.  I rolled up my sleeves to check my arms.  The tough, red skin had faded into soft, pink patches.

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“God…what have I done to deserve this?”

Even with all of my doubts, my anxieties, my shame, and my sin, God somehow thought that I deserved to be saved.  I think that was a lesson I desperately needed to relearn.  And I did.

God’s love and grace is completely, utterly, and infinitely unconditional.

These last couple days have been such a huge blessing.  I haven’t felt this painless, this happy, in months.  I didn’t realize how much I’d taken stretching my neck around for granted.  I spent a lot of Sunday just looking up at the sky, beaming like an idiot.  It was worth it.

It’s amazing how powerful God can work through the hearts of those who have faith in Him.  And what’s just as amazing is how much we can touch the lives of those around us when we put Him at our core, asking Him to do good through us.

I still have so much to learn.  And to be honest, I still don’t fully know what God intends to do with my life.  But this is only a ripple in the ocean of his plan. I think I’m finally ready to take the dive.

Thanks for reading!  And if you’re looking for more amazing sources of inspiration, check out the blogs below.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Taylor // Brian // Xing // Judy // Justin // Hnou // Esther // Josh