Peace in the storm

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I realize it's been, about six months since I last posted on this blog. Almost everyday, I would go on my blog, look at the old abandoned posts I have laying around, tell myself, I should really write something, and suddenly become distracted by something else.

Facebook has done an impeccable job in reminding me that I haven't posted in awhile. It's felt as if Mark Zuckerberg himself has been telling me of the grandness of my failure as a blog writer, and the disloyalty I've had towards my Facebook followers.

I'm back though, and my hope is to continue writing more on the blog.

It's been a difficult, mind-blowing, sad, encouraging, and wonderful past summer overall.

And now, here I am, back at the beginning of this exciting cycle, headed back into the hallowed halls of my University.

I spent majority of my summer working as a Intern for my church again this year, and it was quite the "interesting experience". Earlier this year, after almost failing my classes and coming quite close to just dropping out in general, I was advised to go see a doctor, where I was formally diagnosed with Depression and sent off to the world of therapy.

So my new diagnosed mental state, coupled with a summer away from my family and working nonstop birthed "quite the interesting experience".

The saddest part of it all was that, I had completely shut God out when I needed him the most.

What did I learn this summer, and the first five weeks of University? God never left me.

The amount of times that my mentors, friends and sister told me to go to God in prayer and me not doing it is quite embarrassing. It would have been so simple, SO simple if I had just said anything to God. The words I wanted to tell him, and the feelings I needed to express were pushed down into the deepest depths of my heart in hopes that they would never resurface. I had this mentality of, "God can't heal me, he wants me to go through this" that seemed to destroy me.

Now, I didn't think that in a resentful way. I've been quite surrendered about my depression, and I've never been angry to God for having to go through it. However, it did make me stop praying. Since I believed that God had given me this illness for some sort of reason, I felt it pointless to ask him to heal me from it, so I just wouldn't talk about it. And not talking about it turned into just not talking to God in general. I pushed him away, and because I pushed him away, I got worse, and it became more and more difficult not to believe all the lies that Satan was telling me.

I began studying the bible with a friend of mine who, just recently, got into the water to make Jesus Lord of her life. It was beautiful watching her love for God grow, and her amazement of his love and grace for her become more real. Reading those scriptures with her, and watching her be completely open with her life so as to be freed from the world and reconciled with God ... brought me great sorrow.

Not for her, but for me. Seeing my friends eagerness to be right with God made me see clearly how I had been pushing God away and letting myself fall into Satan's traps over and over and over again. I needed to do some HEAVY damage control if I wanted to feel God again.

After having had my friends last study before her baptism, I called my best friend after immediately. I confessed to her, and was open about my sin. I made sure to tell he about all the bad, and the worse stuff. However, even though it felt great to get all that yucky stuff off my shoulders, I still didn't feel good. In fact, it was that night that Satan almost won.

Joel 2:12 (NLT) reads:
"Turn to me now, while there is still time."

Do you remember in first Samuel, when Hannah wasn't doing too well because she wasn't able to have a child, so, she wept bitterly to the Lord in her anguish (1 Samuel 1:10)? She wept. I wept. 

I can't say I fully understood what it meant to weep until that night. I had reached the lowest part of my life. I had completely let my depression paralyze me, and allowed Satan to terrorize me. I was trapped in my own mind, and left to rot in the darkest place I had ever been. And that was where I found God. 

It was like a tiny light that shone in a pitch black pit. 

The light didn't heal me right there, nor did it tell me I would be healed soon. It just shone and reminded me that it was there for me. I can't fully explain how it felt to feel God's love literally wash over me ("Grace, comes, like, a, wave, washing over me." Any elevation worship fans?), but it was such an amazing experience. Even though my depression was fairly bad, I could feel God be there right next to me, watching over me. It brought me so much comfort and so much peace within the storm.

Shout out to my two friends who referenced this scripture to me: Mark 4:37-40

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him. "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

I love this scripture because the most powerful being in the entire universe, Son of the Creator of Heaven and Earth and the Author of Time was right there in the boat. I mean, the boat wasn't anything huge, Jesus being at the stern was really just a few feet away from the disciples, maybe even less, and yet, the disciples were afraid.

Jesus is right in the boat next to us. He was in the boat right next to me, yet I still allowed myself to fear the storm. I cried out to the Lord, wept and poured out my soul because I was far too afraid of the storm and I needed his help. And he woke up, showered me with love and told me, "Why are you afraid, Lorena? I'm right here. I've always been right here."

I pray that through your storms and your own sorrows, that you all can remember that Jesus is on the same boat as us all. He has never left, nor will he ever leave. He loves us far too much to let us drown. (Isaiah 43:2). And if you ever feel like you're too broken or lost to come back to God, I encourage you to read and study out Joel 2:12-17

Thanks for reading this far! Have a blessed day :)


Year One | Tips

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I finished!

I  stepped out of that exam room, handed in my final exam of my first year of university, and now, I'm free!

Unbelievable. I have endured that first year. I MADE IT!

University wasn't a total shock for me. I remember being told beforehand that it was completely different than high school, but the transition between grade twelve to university was more refreshing to me than shocking. I thought I'd bestow unto you all (mostly the teenies who are graduating this year) my pieces of wisdom as a survivor of the first year!

#1 Go on a friend-making spree. Every first year coming into University is already a new student, so it's the perfect time to use that for your advantage. Make friends wherever you go, especially in every class you're in. It makes classes way more fun, and it gives you those opportunities to study with people and have those people there to help when help is needed. Everyone is looking to make friends, so don't feel shy! Honestly, each person will be willing to start a friendship with you.

#2 Hand-write your notes. I've tried both methods of, writing by hand and writing on my laptop, and writing by hand was FAR more efficient. Typing on my laptop was easy, I didn't even have to think about what I was writing, and I could literally write down everything the professor said. Writing it on the other hand forced me to really listen to the professor and to write down the key things the prof was saying. Truussttt, it's so much better to look back on your written notes when studying rather than your laptop notes.

#3 Study in your school's library. Just do it. There's so much more motivation when you're surrounded by people who are studying hard and it just makes you want to study too. It's even better when you're with friends in the library. (It's a library, so you can't talk, you'll have to study!) I tried working from home a few times and let me tell you, I got nothing done.

#4 Choose electives that will benefit your future. My sister got mad at me when I took some random science course just to fill up my timetable. She told me that, when you're choosing electives, try and choose one's that will actually be useful to you in life. For example, most schools offer classes on how to do your own finances and to budget your money. You could take a language class (french, spanish, italian, etc), a communications class, my school had professional writing which was amazing. Don't just choose random things, really sit down and think about what would be beneficial for you.

#5 Meal prep. Do it. My goodness do it. The amount of money that a student spends on fast food is unbelievable. If you keep just a few hours on like, Sunday, just to prepare your lunches for the week, your wallet will feel so much better. There are countless videos on YouTube on how to meal prep and great recipes to meal prep for. Trust, it'll be so much better, especially when you're dealing with housing payments and tuition.

#6 Study. This is a no-brainer. Just study for your tests and exams, please. This ain't high school no more children, you're in the real world now.

#7 Credit/No-Credit. Let's say, you're really struggling in a certain course, but you need your GPA to do very well, and this specific class is bringing you down. All schools may not have this, but my school allowed us to Credit/No-Credit a course. This means that, as long as we get a 50% or higher in the class, we will get the credit, but the grade won't go into our GPA. Amazing isn't it? If there's a class that's really dragging you down, check to see if your school also has the Credit/No-Credit function!

#8 Make use of what your tuition is paying for. Tuition doesn't usually only pay for the classes your taking. Sometimes, you pay for the school's gym, or the healthcare center, or bus fares, etc. Use up all you can that your tuition is paying for!

#9 Workout. School will get stressful, there's no denying it. But, working out in someway is honestly a great stress reliever. Doing cardio helps get the brain working well and it brings your mood up a lot. You might not need to do a full workout everyday, but maybe a run every few days will keep you sane for a bit.

#10 Share the gospel. I feel that people in University are much more open to coming out to a bible talk or church than people would be in high school. Definitely take the opportunity of being a follower of Christ and share the gospel with your friends and peers!

#11 Schedule your life! Guys. Don't drown yourself in studying your face off every chance you get. Plan out the days that you'll study, or the times you'll read your textbook. Make sure that you're still having fun in University. Hang out with your friends, go on adventures, and just have fun. If you schedule our your weeks, things will go much more smooth.

#12 Enjoy! University is a hoot. Enjoy every second of it!

I'm no university veteran, but I thought I'd share the things I wish I had known coming into University. If you're just going in, good luck! I enjoyed my first year SO much, and I hope you do too :)



Tuesday, April 04, 2017

I thought I'd write a quick post today. The other day I was talking to one of my friends, and as disciples of Christ, we both asked how the other was doing in their spiritual walk with God. When I spoke, I had come to a second realization.

I say second, because I had discussed this exact topic with another friend of mine just weeks prior, but I had completely forgotten about it until that conversation with my friend the other day.

Lately, I've become so intrigued by theology and apologetics. (Theology being the study of God and Apologetics being reasoned arguments to prove something is correct). I was busy researching and finding answers to some of the hardest questions that Christians are posed with. I wanted to be ready if anyone came to talk to smack about God, or proved his existence wrong. I wanted to be fully prepared.

Though, I completely neglected my own relationship with God. It was great that I was reading and learning so many new things, it was definitely faith-building. However, I became obsessed with this need to know everything! I needed to know why God did every single thing he did, and I felt myself losing faith when my questions weren't being answered, or I was just not satisfied with the answers.

I lost sight of God. I had minimized God's amazing power and wisdom down to fit my little telescope. But, God is far too amazing, and powerful and wise to be fully understood by our simple human minds. As humans, we want to know everything. Science is constantly trying to find answers to everything, but the reality is, we can't know everything, because we aren't God.

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." 1 Corinthians 1:25

My hope for me, and my hope for you (if you've also lost sight of God in the midst of proving his existence) is to find a healthy balance. Building a relationship with God and maintaining that relationship should be #1.

I 100% support researching and learning about the Bible. I've learnt so many things in my own studies, and even in apologetic classes I've sat in on. I've learnt that history proves that Jesus existed. I learnt that Genesis wasn't meant to be read as a scientific text, but as a love letter. Discovering the context behind the Bible and the stories I grew up reading was extremely faith-building, and I encourage you to do the same. It will help you see God in a new light, and it will strengthen your convictions and your belief in him.

Just be sure to find a healthy balance.

One of my dear friends gave me a genius idea on how to balance out my researching, and keeping a healthy relationship with God. She told me that, I should dedicate two or so days a week to just hardcore studying the deep questions about the Bible and learning all that awesome theology stuff. But, for the remainder 5 days, I would spend it praying, and worshiping God, and working on my relationship with him.

Have fun learning and building!