Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Season for it All

This will be the first time that I publicly announced that my boyfriend, Justin, is right. Go ahead and gloat sweetheart, but kidding aside, Justin came to me with the absolute best advice, and I bet he doesn't even realize how philosophical it was to me.

I've been struggling lately with "out with the old, and in with the new" for lack of a better way of saying it. I want so badly to be normal. And to me, normal was the me before my accident. Normal was comfortably having friends over and enjoying myself. Not, dreading having to see people because of how high my anxiety would get. Normal was falling asleep without even a second thought. Not, anxiously reciting a children's book as part of a bibliotherapy routine to keep from becoming a shrieking mess in the middle of the night. Normal was loving a bear hug. Not, frantically trying to escape the grasps of a loving embrace, because I feel trapped. The list of normals and not normals, goes on and on. To say I am embarrassed of some of my new lifestyles is an understatement.  I mean, what 21 year old reads "Madeline" before going to bed every night? It's not just at home, but with everything. I feel disconnected from old friends. It's as we're no longer on the same level as before. I'm more mature about the realness of life, and that creates a barrier between us. I feel disconnected from God. A disconnection that comes down to not feeling challenged or being fed the Word. I struggle with my routines. I mean, it's been a year, I should be able to sleep without fear grab at my throat. I don't find joy in the things that I use to. Some activities and friendships just feel meaningless to me. Altogether, I have recognized the barrier that my accident has created between the old, "normal" me, and the person I am today. Up until this point I have viciously hated that barrier with a passion.

Then Justin put his two cents in, and it drastically changed my perspective. He quoted Ecclesiastes 3 and said that, "it's just time for a new season." I mulled this over for quite a few days, and then it just kinda hit me. The same way the smell of soap after a hot shower feels refreshing, I felt revitalized when I realized that he's right. There really is a time for everything. And the Word supports that. I need to accept that God has a lot of "new" things going on in my life. Why should I be so upset about it? So what, I read a children's book before bed. Anyone who truly knows me, will remind me to read my books when they tell me goodnight. And it's comforting. It makes me feel connected and less alone. They know what I am struggling with, and they are supportive no matter how childish it may seem. So what, that I don't hang out with all the people I use to. I've met and now work with some of the most amazing women I have ever met. To those ladies at Chambers County Library System, yall are the best! So I feel disconnected from God. Obviously, I recognize what I'm doing wrong in my faith walk, and can change the things I need to, so that I am growing in my Faith. New bible studies or more quiet time really digging into the Word. There's lots of different ways I can become more comfortable with the new me, and the first thing to do is accept that God has a new season starting.

It's rehabilitating to recognize and accept the changes that God is working in my life. I want to encourage you to embrace whatever God may be doing in your life. You never know what He's up to when He puts up that barrier, but it's for the best. Same as always, I've just got to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and not lean on my own understanding. --Shrimpergirl

Ecclesiastes 3; Proverbs 3:5

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Hi everyone! I know it's been awhile since I wrote, but the Holy Spirit has totally and irrevocably moved my heart, and I know I have to share it with everyone. This is a long one, but I beg you. Please, read all the way to the end. Please.
I need to give you guys a little bit of background on what my hearts been like the last 11 months. When the accident happened I really just wanted to spread God's love. I wanted everyone who knew me to realize that I was alive for one reason, and one reason only: God. If you look at the accident from a humanistic standpoint, I wouldn't be alive. But from the spiritual level, which is the only way I wanted people to look at, I was alive for a purpose, and that purpose being God has something planned. So fast-forward a few months, I just wanted to forget about the accident. I wanted it to be something of the past. Then at the beginning of February, I started dating my current boyfriend, Justin, and FYI, he's delightfully fantastic and brings so much happiness to my life. But even though my life seemed to be coming back together, I still struggled with anxiety, my nightmares, and my fears. And when I say struggle, I mean they got worse. I couldn't go into a dark room alone. I was afraid of sleeping some nights. I would purposefully cancel plans with friends just so that I wouldn't have to be in crowds and be uneasy.
Skip forward to June 1 when I started at ORBC. Goodness, my life was in my total order. I knew exactly what was happening for the next eleven weeks. I even color-coded my agenda, so that everything was totally perfect. I was in total control. Or so I thought. I was no longer "the girl who got stuck in the boat" or "the girl whose dad died." I had even abandoned the nickname "shrimpergirl," which I had come to earnestly love. I was over what had happened. I was tired of being identified as part of this tragic accident. I wanted to just be me...the small town, country girl with a thick accent, that loved the Lord.
So one day Cody, my youth pastor and my boss, informed me that I was giving the message the next Wednesday night. It was going to be about "Desperately Seeking the Lord." Excitedly, I prayed a lot and wrote my message, skipping over the accident completely. When I brought him my typed paper, he was a little confused by the casual way I made the accident seem like nothing important. Pouring my heart out to him, I tried to convince him that it wasn't significant anymore. It wasn't who I was. It was the first time I had truly denied the accident out loud. I had just put the largest blessing of my entire life on the bottom shelf, and acted as if it didn't exist. Even now, I'm shocked by my actions. But as I was speaking that night, I felt like David crying out to the Lord was the same way I cried out to the Lord when I was stuck in the boat, and I just had to share it. But I told myself, that's the last time you mention the accident.
 Then the fourth and fifth week of my internship arrived, and I was going to be a leader at church camp. I was thrilled! I was never raised in church, so camp was a totally new experience for me. I was ready to take on camp the same way I had taken control of my life: orderly, efficient, allowing nothing unexpected to happen. God sure put me and my "high and mighty", "everything's perfect when done my way" butt in its place. Zach, the other youth intern, and I were to be leaders of a family group during the first week which was high school camp. Glancing at the list, I realized that this would be so much fun. Just ten young people talking and learning about God together. Boy did I have the wrong idea... The second day we had three boys fall asleep, and I mean hardcore sleeping too, snores and all. One girl didn't even speak, one girl was extremely talkative about anything except Christ, and no one else said a word. I didn't know what to do. It was like they had no interest in what we had to say. So the next day, Zach said he would be assertive and get things done...and that later evolved into two boys falling asleep, two girls talking and everyone else silent. We didn't know what to do, we both were struggling so much with getting these students to connect with each other and us.
That night, the entire camp came together in a large atrium to have a quiet worship called Vespers. Nothing but darkness with a large glowing cross, a guy with a guitar, and 640 students lifting up their praises to God. Without surprise, I started to freak out. I was fighting myself, I was fighting God. I wanted so desperately to be a part of such a pure, beautiful worship, but my fears were controlling me. I felt as if I was drowning. I started to sob, and I couldn't breath and then it hit me. I could feel the Spirit telling me that I trust God with everything in my life, but not my fears? Really? Of everything that I should be giving to God, I should be letting him know what I am afraid of and asking for His help. It was emotional, raw, heart wrenching. I felt so strange. I knew that God was trying to tell me something about my fears, but I didn't know what. So the next day, it was my turn to lead out the lesson in family group. Before we started though, I was asking what they thought of Vespers, and automatically one of the girls indignantly states, "I'm not going to that again, I had an anxiety attack last time. I do not want to do that again. I started crying so no, I'm not going back." I was so surprised. She literally just said my exact feelings. Then the other girl chimed in and said, " I have anxiety really bad as well and sometimes I start to cry then pass out when I have an attack." And I just felt compelled to chime in too. So I briefly, and I mean briefly, gave the 3 second version of my accident and told them I had anxiety as well. Then turned to the rest of the group and wanted to quickly move forward with the lesson. And all of a sudden, everything was perfect. Everything had come together. I realized that the lesson I was giving was over spiritual disciplines and how to incorporate them into our lives. According to the lesson, I was suppose to share my spiritual disciplines in my life, and the only reason I started these disciplines in my life is because they help with my anxiety (they now have become a strong part of my spiritual life). So I just was torn. Do I tell them about the accident and deal with their sympathetic looks? Or do I just skip over it? So I met myself in the middle, I gave the three second version and started to move on and realized they were asking questions and wanted to know more. So I just gave it to them, the whole shebang. Everything that had happened from the start, to the next day of finding my dad, to months that have passed. Then I go on to how I decided to change my anxiety and on January 19th started incorporating my Jesus time into my life. So I speak about prayer and all of a sudden, one of the girls raised her hand and says, "Can I ask a personal question? How do you go through everyday knowing what happened to you? Knowing what you went through?" I was NOT expecting that question. Fumbling for words, I struggled.
All of a sudden, it hit me. I realized that the same way my dad died trying to save my brother and I's lives, is the same way Jesus died to save me from eternal hell. So I said that, and she started bawling. Like crying her eyes out. Everyone is wide awake and on the edge of their seats and I'm just totally in awe. I've finally connected with these students and it is was through hardships. So I keep going through the lesson and she keeps bawling and I try to see what she wants me to do, but she's in her own little world. Then one of the guy's gets up and just leaves. Literally leaves the entire building. Then the crying girl gets up to go to the bathroom, another girl follows her and I'm just lost. I look to Zach to see what I need to do, and he's in shock too. I look at our depleted group and felt like the only thing I could do was continue the lesson (probably the teacher in me!). Then it's like everyone just came back at the same time, the boy and the two girls. And I just keep going, talking about the importance of scripture, prayer, worship, and stillness in our everyday lives. Then the boy who hasn't spoken a single word all week starts to talk about how he just started going to church, and everyone just starts sharing their personal walks with the Lord. And I couldn't do anything but listen and thank God for His amazingness. It was such a beautiful thing.
Later that night as I was sharing the event with Justin, I began to cry because all of sudden everything made sense. I had viciously denied the accident as part of who I was, but without it, my group wouldn't have necessarily connected in the way that it did. God took something so tragic, something that has changed my life entirely and used it to impact that group of students. I was in awe. And for the first time I was grateful that I had the accident as part of my story. It was the only way I could connect with those students. I'm not happy that my dad died, I'm not happy that my brother and I both have struggles we still have to overcome, and I'm not happy about some of the brokenness that has been created in my home. But I'm happy that I could bring those students together in a way that I couldn't have before the accident.
So lessons learned in the past two weeks, I can't deny that the accident is part of who I am now. I can't deny that the Lord has placed it on my heart to share it with others (how I'm suppose to share it, I don't know yet). I can't deny the faithfulness and amazing love that God gives. I can't deny that God not only saves, loves, and protects, but He also comforts us and guides us through our fears. I'm proud to say that I have slept with almost no lights on for the past five days and last night I slept in total darkness. I felt no fear and had no nightmares. It leaves me in awestruck wonder when I think about how far I've come emotionally and spiritually in the last two weeks. I have found so much healing in my heart. Overall, I just want everyone to know that Shrimpergirl is back, and she's got a lot on her heart that she's ready to share for the Glory of God. Praise The Lord for His plan, His love, and His unending grace!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Monday, April 27, 2015

Unfailing Love

"Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" Proverbs 20:6

During my bible reading the other day, I came upon this verse and it really hasn't left my mind. I keep thinking about this unfailing love. I try to imagine what it really, really means to possess unfailing love. For someone to never stop loving you no matter what decision, action, or situation you could be in. I don't know how God does it. Like no matter how badly I screw up, He still loves me unconditionally. I think about how right this verse is. It is extremely difficult to find someone that stays faithful to unfailing love. I myself can't say that I have demonstrated unfailing love through everything. I racked my brain for days trying to find someone that proved this. I continued to come back to the only logical answer that I could find. The only person in my life who has stayed completely true to having unfailing love for me. And that's my rock, my comforter, my number one confidant, my Snokums, my Rabbit, my mommacita, my beautiful mom, Jessica Jean Galloway. 

It's been a really crazy twenty years being my mom's daughter. If you know her, you know she's pretty hardheaded and incredibly fearless. And more often than not it is extremely difficult to keep up with her. She excels in everything that she puts her mind to. (Except golf, just kidding Momma, you're ten times better than me and have progressed tremendously.) I think back to the first time I went hunting with my tomboy of a mother. I was four or five. Laying a warm blanket on the ground, she told me to sit quietly and read while she looked over the Bulverde landscape. Softly she told me to cover my ears as I watched the spike walk into the open pasture, and then mom took the shot. Sure enough, the deer disappeared into the tall grass, and I impatiently waited for mom to calm down from her buck fever so we could go see it.  Tromping through grass that was about as tall as I was, I joyfully yelled that I had found a rabbit. Mom kept telling me that those were the deer's ears above the grass, and I insisted she was wrong and that I would catch that rabbit. Without surprise, I was incorrect. And so begins all the times my mother was right, and I was wrong. Which by now, is too many to count. 

Her love for me has made her someone that supports me like no one else. She has come to all my major events through my life. And she has come with her screaming voice ready to go. I remember how she coached my eighth grade softball team with my dad. At times, I hated being the coaches daughter, but other times it was the coolest thing ever. Seeing my mom in action has to be the best motivator ever. I don't know how she does what she does, but she handles a position of leadership excellently.

She's been my go-to since I was young. Through every best friend breakup, every boyfriend issue, and every major setback I have ever faced, she has heard about it first. My mom is the greatest problem-solver I know. She handles crazy situations with ease and confidence. It is so admirable. I knew that if I told her I needed help with something, she would fix it. She always did, and if she couldn't fix it right then, by goodness she was wiping my tears and telling me she was going to. That was something I could depend on. That was my rock through every wrong decision or action that I made. And believe me, there's been some two a.m. phone calls that only my mom could have gotten me through. 

She's also been my strength. Losing my dad is incredibly difficult, but I know that I would not be the person I am after all of this if it was not for my mom and her strength. She was the first person I could see, although incredibly blurred, when I was pulled out of the ambulance the day of the accident. She crawled in my hospital bed with me, and sang to me until I could drift off to some sort of sleep. She was the first person I saw when I woke up the next morning, and she was the only person who could reassure me that even if daddy didn't make it, everything was still going to be okay.  She has calmed me down from nightmares and anxiety attacks like no one else can. She tells me that I am her strength and her pillar through the craziness that we call life in the past eight months and nine days, but that is wrong. She makes me strong. 

It amazes me that even after the terrible wrongs that I have done, my mom still loves me. It has never been a different kind of love either. If anything I feel like her love for me is stronger and more connected than ever after I mess up. I don't know how she can do it. It is so difficult to possess unfailing love, but I am so grateful that she does. No matter how hard I fall, how badly I mess up, how mean or hurtful I am to my mom, her love never fails. If my mom can love me like this, I can't imagine how much it is that God loves me. I don't understand how he can love us unconditionally and unfailingly, but I am grateful. 

Thank you for showing me how to be a great mother. Thank you for teaching me to be strong, determined, and confidant. Thank you for wiping my tears, singing me to sleep, and playing with my hair. Thank you for teaching me to do my makeup, walk in heels, and whip up a meal out of the oddest ingredients. Thank you for showing me how a wife should handle unexpected situations, how to love her husband, and how to follow her faith. Thank you, Momma, for unfailingly loving me. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Two walks/Two hearts: One God/One Sisterhood

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5: 16. I first read this when I was in the ninth grade. I remember looking at it and thinking why in the world would I want to tell people about the terrible sins I have committed. Why would I want to drag anyone else into what I had done. And why would confessing to each other, rather than to God alone, be something I needed to do. I probably thought about this for ten-fifteen seconds and moved on. I have never been so wrong in my life.

Just two months ago, my life was changed again. Except this was in an exceedingly positive way. I acquired an accountability partner that has stuck by my side since the day we started holding each other accountable on January 19th. I had never really thought about having an accountability partner before the opportunity presented itself. The idea had crossed my mind, but it was certainly never something that had stuck. Yet, I've never been more thankful that it finally did.

One evening in the middle of January, I was enjoying a sleepover with one of my dear friends, and I became incredibly emotional. As I started to sob my eyes out, I distinctly remember crying out for her help. I felt as if I couldn't live anymore. I hadn't given up on God or my faith but it was becoming exceedingly difficult to cope with the boat accident. My flashbacks were increasing, my nightmares were back, and I missed my daddy's guidance and heartfelt hugs more than ever before. I had tried to find distractions, but they were sinful and not aligning with my faith. I was dealing with survivor's guilt which made me angry at myself for living; even more so, I was angry that I was having difficulties. I loved God and wanted to follow Him, but I didn't feel like I could anymore. My thoughts and actions had transformed me into damaged goods and the feelings of unworthiness were too much for me to handle. I confessed that I didn't know how I was going to start over this semester, I didn't know how to get through another six months without him. I certainly had no idea how I was going to do it as a broken, undeserving sinner. Without interrupting she listened to me pour out my heart and suggested a lifestyle change. She told me about something she had learned over the Christmas break, about "quiet time", how she wanted to incorporate it into her life this spring semester, and how she needed an accountability partner with it. She still doesn't realize that it was not her who needed someone to hold her accountable, it was, in fact, I who needed someone to hold me accountable.

Interestingly enough, my accountability partner and I grew up on different continents. Literally. We grew up 6,080 miles apart. One in Old River, Texas the other in Abidjan, the capital of a small country in Africa called Cote d'Ivoire. I say this, because I truly realize there is absolutely no handle on God. If He wants something to happen, by goodness, He will make it happen. This was the first amazing thing I realized when I decided to incorporate "quiet time" into my life.

The second awesome thing I realized about having an accountability partner is the fact that it's NOT someone you report to like a parole officer or someone you tattle to like a small child. It's someone you share your heart with. It's someone you turn to and say, "This is what my heart is feeling. This is what I think I need help on. What do you think? What does the bible say about this?" And as she picks up her bible she says, "Let 's find out together." Having an accountability partner is about growing spiritually with the Lord, about confessing your woes, your troubles, your struggles, your fears, your questions, your sins, and together finding a solution within God's Word. It's not an agenda you have to fulfill each day. It's not a checklist of making sure we are upholding a Christian appearance. It's a lifestyle of pursuing the Lord's Will.

The third uplifting aspect of having an accountability partner is the way in which we have changed our everyday lives to create actions that would be edifying to God. We call it "quiet time" or "Jesus time." It's the time we devote to reading our bible, learning something from God's word, and sharing it with one another every morning. I look forward to sending and receiving these messages every single morning. It's an encouragement that I can count on. I have learned more in the past two months than I think I did in the last year of my own bible readings. I will admit that during the hustle and bustle of life I have often put my bible reading on the back burner. But that's the positive of having my accountability partner, it is something that I am dedicated to. I want to have these talks and discussions about what we each have learned. I find joy in the mornings as I sip my coffee, break open my bible, learn the teachings of my Faith, then share them with my lovely friend.

The fourth beauty I have come to realize of having my accountability partner is how much it reminds me of my dad. There was a daily routine that occurred every evening at the Galloway Household. Dad would come to each of our rooms to say goodnight. In high school, I studied a lot and many times I would be surrounded my tons of schools books, papers, and complete chaos when dad would come to say goodnight. He'd ask me about my classes, tell me he loved me, then he would remind me to say my prayers. Sometimes he would even ask if I'd read my bible that day. Nothing condemning or accusatory. Just a subtle reminder of where my focus should be. I often feel like my dad was my accountability partner growing up. I would share with him things I had learned in my bible readings. I definitely asked a ton of questions, and Dad would always turn to the bible to answer them. It's the same way in my current partnership.

Honestly, it makes me feel normal again to have these moments with my accountability partner. It brings feelings of security, affirmation, and love to share my thoughts, concerns, fears, and joys with someone who also wants to pursue the Lord. Having an accountability partner reminds me that if I am damaged goods, then we all are, because we are all unworthy of God's love and mercy. We are all struggling. None of us deserve Him, yet He still wants us. When we actively pursue Him, He illuminates our paths and leads us towards His goodness. God doesn't want us to be confused and lost. He gave us a Light and His name is Jesus. My accountability partner reminds me of this daily.

As you can tell, I'm very grateful for my accountability partner. I've only touched on a few of the major positives of having this sort of relationship, even though there are a million different, uplifting aspects of it. I'm not telling anyone that they have to have an accountability partner to be a Christian or that this is the only way to actively pursue your faith. I am just sharing a positive influence and lifestyle change in my life that has transformed my approach to bible study, quiet time, and dedicating my life to the Lord.

My accountability partner and I often call our relationship our "soul sisterhood" and I mean what else could you call it? When you grow up on separate continents, live two totally different lifestyles, have two totally dissimilar walks to Christ, yet come together because you are both Jesus-loving college students, you know that God had a plan. I'm thankful to my soul sister for showing me Christ-like love, giving me heartfelt biblical truths, and for always listening to my heart without judgment.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

Friday, February 27, 2015

Survivors Guilt: Taking and Receiving

I visited my dad today. Except instead of going to the shrimp boat, I actually went to the cemetery. It's weird that I have to go somewhere besides home to see him.
The past seven months haven't been easy to say the least. There's been a lot of bad things happen, some not preventable, others self-inflicted. It's been hard to write, because I just keep hearing the same thing over and over in my head. And I think I can finally get it out. I'm sitting graveside as I type this, because I don't feel like there's anywhere else I could write this.
Two Decembers ago, I was still at that angry and confused stage. We were all piled up in the suburban headed to my grandparents ranch. All four of us kids were just cutting a rug, like normal. We got close to downtown Houston, and I remember looking at the skyline as dad started talking. He had saw a distant friend at the processing plant that day when he was hauling in his shrimp. They were talking about nothing major, and I can't remember how the conversation turned, but Dad said they began to visit about his friend's daughter who had passed on. 21 years before on that day, his 19 year old daughter was in an automobile accident where her car was flipped into a canal and she drowned. Dad started crying at this point, and I did too. I was 19, and I couldn't imagine dying. Dad went on to say how his friend told him how angry he was at God for so long after his daughter passed. He said he was hurt that God could take the most important person, his only daughter, out of his life. And then he said one day he met this preacher who changed his life. The preacher knew he was angry and listened to his logic and backstory on why he was made at God, then he said, "God didn't take your daughter away, he received your daughter." I lost it and so did everyone else in the car. I just sobbed as I watched my dad try to gain enough composure to continue. He looked at me and said, "Brina, I just thought all day of you and how angry you are that God took your friends away, but baby girl, God didn't take them away. he received them. I don't want you to be angry anymore." As I continued to cry, I told Dad how much I loved him and watched as momma wiped dads tears away. Comforting him as she always did. I hear my dad telling me that every day. I hear his voice in my mind, reminding me not to become angry. I can't even be sad for him, because I know Jesus was standing there waiting to receive him. I'm not mad at God. But I'll be the first to say that I'm mad at myself. I have struggled with survivors guilt since day 1. A day doesn't go by that I don't see the accident, hear his voice telling us to come to the door, and then losing sight of him. I think back to how hard I tried to get everyone out of the boat. I have come to the reality that I did everything that I could. It's hard to live each day with the happy heart I had before when I feel this little nudge of, "you should have died too. You weren't suppose to make it." It's hard to listen to that voice and smile at your friends jokes. It's hard to go to class and listen to oh-so-boring geology lecture and think, "I'm not suppose to be in this class anyways. I should be in the cemetery next to my dad." But I've fought that dark, little voice of Satan. Because with every single part of my heart, I know I am alive for a reason. I've yet to figure out the why, and quite honestly I'm done trying to. I am going to live everyday with the assurance that God received my dad and that it just wasn't my time yet. Something's weren't meant to be understood. And that boat accident was one of them. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Monday, January 19, 2015


There has been a lot of ideas running around my mind lately. Considering Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, some of them have been about love. I remember last year’s Valentine’s Day. I was going to the Christian Conference for college students called Passion. I was excited, because I knew I was not in a good place with my walk with Jesus.

I will be the first to admit that God and I haven’t always been on the same page. After the deaths of four hometown friends, I felt myself develop an anger that I didn’t know how to control. I loved God. I wanted to live my life for Him. I wanted to spread His word and be a light for Him. But I was mad. How could He just keep taking all of my friends? How could He continue to allow all of these friends and families to go through such terrible pain? Why? Why? Why? I can say that I have never felt a gut-wrenching, never-ending anger like that before. From August 2013 until February of the following year I was a mess. Thankfully, the words of Beth Moore at Passion brought me to reality. God gave this life to me. It was the first thing He ever blessed me with. It also is the only thing I have to spread God’s word to others with. I needed to stop questioning why He did the things He did, and just focus on spreading His love. I would get my answers one day, but right now was the time for me to focus on Him.

Totally amazing message that Valentines Day; I was truly in awe. And then I checked my phone and I had a voicemail from my mom. “Hey Brina, just calling to tell you I love you! (Dad’s voice in the background—Daddy loves you too!) yes, Daddy loves you too. I hope you have a fantastic, amazing, phenomenal experience and know Mommy and Daddy love you baby, bye pumpkin!” I’ve listened to this voicemail four or five times just today. Mom and Dad must have been on their way to Valentines dinner and called just to tell me they love me. Wow, what an amazing love they have for me. I don’t know how to describe it, considering I have never been a parent. But neither one of my parents went crazy when the November before I had admitted to them how much anger I had, how depressed I felt, nor how potentially suicidal I was. Neither one of them doubted that God would lead me and I would find my way again, so they just continued to pour out their love to me.

As I contemplate this love between a parent and child, I think of all the other types of love. The love between friends who have been ‘besties’ for years, the love between new found friends, the love between siblings, the love between a husband and wife, God’s love for us, Jesus’s love for us, our love for our Lord and Savior. Each love different, but still strong, stable, and capable of withstanding any kind of battle.

I feel like anyone who hears Valentines Day and the word love thinks of romantic love. I agree, I do too. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot on my trip to West Texas. And I have this new idea about love.

I have always been taught that God is love. That used to be my favorite verse. 1 John 4:7-8Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.” It’s a verse that is often taught during youth ministires, small groups, and in devotional books. However, if you skip just a few verses down it says “Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us,” 1 John 4:11-12.

When people ask why I am so nice, so sweet to everyone, so kind, I literally think of this verse and think of the love God gives us and wants us to give to others. As Christians we should have love for everyone. It’s hard to do, believe me, I know. But if God loves us so much, why can’t we love others the way that he loves? Unconditionally.

Valentine’s Day is a great day to celebrate the love within your romantic relationship. But it is even cooler if you can recognize the love within all of your relationships and remember God’s great love for us that can be seen in His son’s sacrifice. Don’t forget that we are all sinners, but God loves us anyway. Nothing we can do, can change God’s love for His children. So love everyone with the most edifying for Him, Christ-like way.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8  

“Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sleeping With One Eye Open

Dolphins have always been a large part of my life. They were my favorite animal growing up; I mean literally, at birthdays and Christmas everyone always gave me dolphin themed memorabilia. I had the notepads, stickers, miniature desk see-saw with dolphins as the seats, posters, wall canvas’s, you name it, I probably had it. When I was really young, I can remember being out on the shrimp boat begging Dad to tell me when the dolphins came up to breathe so I could see them. I would sit on the bunk and just stare at the waves, hoping, wanting, yearning to just see one dorsal fin breakthrough the surface. I had never seen them before, just heard the fantastic stories at dinner. Of dolphins jumping the front waves of the colossal red tankers, of them swimming up to the boat when Dad was bringing in the net, of them soaring out of the water as they swam and played.

Interestingly enough, dolphins are the reason we found out that I needed glasses, that I really, really needed glasses! Dad and I were out on the boat, I was probably seven or eight. Dad got really excited, jumped up from his chair, and told me to watch the dolphins as he attempted to point them out for me. Standing inside the cabin, I couldn't make them out. So we walked out on the deck, and he tried pointing them out again. I struggled to see what he was talking about. Everywhere he pointed, I just saw water, nothing at all specific. He knelt down next to me and told me to look down his arm and right over his finger, right at the dolphins. Placing a hand over my forehead, I leaned forward, squinted really hard, and still saw nothing but water. Within a few short weeks, the school did their annual hearing and vision tests… low and behold I definitely needed glasses. Dad always stated that it was because of not being able to see the dolphins that he knew I needed glasses.

My parents always supported my love for dolphins. They even took all of us kids to the Natural Museum of Science, and we watched the IMAX documentary on dolphins. I was thrilled. It was the coolest thing I had ever watched. It was during this film that I learned that dolphins sleep with one eye open. They shut down one hemisphere of their brain and close the opposite eye. This enables them to watch out for predators that could harm their calves or themselves. Me being the infatuated child that I was (let us be real… I think I was like twelve at this time) tried for weeks to sleep with one eye open. Finally, I admitted failure and decided I would be the worst dolphin to every swim the face of the earth.

Just the other day, I was driving over the Fred Hartman bridge watching the Houston Ship Channel like the time I was watching for dolphins. I was instantly thrown back to those moments of trying so hard to sleep with one eye open. I thought about how I live my life now. How I feel like I am sleeping with one eye open. Waiting for the absolute unthinkable to happen again. To have my life ripped away from me in the most traumatic way. Or rather, not have my life taken, but to live again with the haunting of a casual day gone haywire. In that moment, I realized how faithless I was being. 

We shouldn't live our lives with one eye open, waiting for the improbable to occur. God says we will have trouble but to take heart for He has overcome the world. This life is so fleeting, therefore we should live it with the idea that everything comes and goes at some point. Happiness and sorrow. Joy and frustration. Love and hurt. Peace and turmoil.

As the New Year ensues, I encourage you to re-evaluate how you are living your life. How positive is your mindset? How uplifting to others and to yourself are you? Determine where the negativity is in your life, and eliminate it. Life is too short to focus on or wait for the bad things to occur, find the joy in every moment and remember to thank God for it.

“I have told you these things, so that in my you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33