two points

two points. that’s how short i was by. two. small. points.

i’m currently sitting here, writing as a way to process my feelings and try to speak some good advice into my life. also trying hard not to cry. that’s a lie, i’ve already shed a couple of tears.

i’m finishing up the last week of undergrad, selling textbooks and packing and spending time with friends while counting down the days to graduation (five). i’m also waiting for my final exam grades to be posted. it’s one of the most stressful parts of the beginning of summer, waiting and watching as your GPA fluctuates before it settles, hopefully in a range that doesn’t induce a depressed netflix-binge (at least, for me).

the process is a little different this time, though, than it has been in the years past. this is my last round of finals of college, the last round of finals for a while (a year, at minimum). there’s a sense of finality, an added pressure to do well, because there won’t be following semesters to make up for my mess-ups.

it was supposed to be my “perfect 4.0 semester”. no shambliness, no mistakes, nada.


i’m sure you know where i’m going with this.

three days ago, i deduced that i needed a ninety-five in a particular class to make an A. a particularly low quiz average had led to the need for this nervously high grade. to get that 4.0… i needed that ninety-five. two days ago, i took that final. i walked out of the room thinking to myself that i had gotten the A. this morning, i woke up to a notification that i had made a ninety-three. ninety-three on final… 89.77 in class. no rounding.

as soon as i saw that number, my mind froze. i’m not getting an A? what do i tell my mom. what happened? this isn’t my 4.0 semester? what do i tell my mom? why did i not get a ninety-five?

as soon as i saw that number, my thoughts started attacking me. all of those feelings of not being good enough, of being a failure, of self loathing began to bubble up. janet, what is wrong with you. why didn’t you work just a little harder? you’re so stupid, janet. you’re not good enough. you couldn’t even manage to get two more points.


just a few days ago i was saying the words “numbers mean nothing. you are smart. the number don’t matter. GPA isn’t everything. MCAT isn’t everything. there is so much more to life and becoming a doctor and pursuing your future than focusing on those numbers.” and i really meant it.

even yesterday at church, pastor Jimmy reminded us that all of our needs are satisfied already in Christ, and i nodded along emphatically, thanking God that all my needs were provided for before i even knew i needed them. my life wasn’t dependent on an A, or a 4.0, or success.

but… those words and thoughts go out the window when you’re put in a difficult situation. when you’re short two points.


there is no real happy ending to this story. at least, not yet. it hurts, feeling like i’ve failed yet again. i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t worried about my future, if i said i wasn’t disappointed. i’d also be lying, however, if i said this was the end of the world. right now, it hurts. bad grades hurt. failed relationships hurt. feeling like you’ve let yourself down again hurts. but… after the thick of this storm passes, this too will be insignificant. hopefully.

i’m resilient. maybe stupidly so, but resilient nonetheless. stay with me as i find a way to weave yet another failure into my story and search for that happy ending.

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i love my baylor

i love my baylor.

i love the green and the gold. i love my friends, my classmates, my professors, my church. i love the community that i have been a part of in the last three and half years. i love that i have been stretched, challenged, grown. there is absolutely no doubt that God placed me in waco for a reason. i stand for baylor. i know this is the story of so many others alongside me. four years of joy, laughter, and fond memories. but i cannot stand for baylor ignorantly thinking that this is everyone’s story. i stand for the 17 baylor students whose baylor story was crushed in a moment. i stand for those women who had an immense amount of courage to stand up for themselves and to be vulnerable, knowing their story could be easily twisted and they could be further humiliated. baylor took steps this year, trying to be transparent in the issue of sexual assault. some say it was too late, but nonetheless, we took those steps. in the process, we lost leaders that we once looked up to and loved. my heart broke, learning that my school was so flawed. but i had hope. i spoke with others who’s hearts broke for baylor. for the 17. i, perhaps naively, believed that every one understood the gravity of sexual assault.

the blackout at yesterday’s football game has broken my heart once again. the men and women selling shirts with #cab broke my heart. all i could think when i heard was, “what would i be thinking if i was one of those seventeen women.” the shirt silenced the voices of the sexual assault victims with four characters. #, c, a, b.

the relationship between sexual assault and athletics is messy. let me tell you, i have been torn on how to respond so many times. one can argue “i support art briles AND i support rape victims”. “i support baylor football AND i know rape is wrong”. it’s more complicated than that. there are also so many opposing voices and so many different stories. the board of regents says this. the football coaching staff says that. the title IX office issued this statement. the news station released an article that said that. it is hard to discern.. you know what? i don’t know what to say. my heart is just not right with where we are right now.

i pray for my baylor. i pray for the seventeen strong individuals. i also pray for the nineteen football players who, in moments, stole a precious woman’s respect and dignity. i pray for coach art briles – he is, as well, facing a difficult season.

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season

it has been a very long time. from the bottom of my heart, i apologize, the hiatus was unintentional. but i did not forget, have not forgotten about this space of the internet, this creation of mine.

so many times, i began to type, only to stop mid-word. the timing never seemed right to write. i would feel guilty for ‘wasting time’ when i had so many things to do, or feel too tired to type more than a few sentences, or realize that i had no idea what to write about. so with each excuse, i would tap “save as draft” and click the ‘x’ out.

so much has changed since the last time i was here. it’s insane, the power this blog holds. although, or is it because?, i have not been here in about 10 months, i see my growth. it seems like just yesterday when i was writing the last entry. the emotions i felt, the passion, pain, revelation, of that season hits me when i read. the whispers of God in that moment, i hear and understand loudly and clearly today. it was a season of drawing near to Jesus, desperate that he draw near to me.

i see, now that that particular storm is behind. i see that in the sorrow, the Lord brought forth so much blessing. i believe, now, most firmly that i was blessed richly in that season. and maybe because i am a creature of nostalgia, that i almost miss that season. because even amidst the cries and heartbreak, there was adventure. there was a newness, a period of exploration and rediscovery and enlightenment. i have found myself longing to be in that place again.

my God is a generous god. he is one who hates for me to be looking behind, pushing back in a world moving forward. and he has placed new adventures before me. he calls me away from my daydreams of the past, and reminds me of the future set ahead of me.

he beckons me towards him. enticing me with a promise, a promise of more of him. now, when will i take that step?

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let go, my soul

i’m a bit of a control freak. not in the way that i like to manipulate people into doing what i want them to do, but in the way that i need to know what my life is going to be like. i obsess over goals, i worry about how to fulfill them. i have checklists in every page of my planner, often the same goals written over and over and over again, just to ensure that i don’t forget what i need to do to be successful. monday: 8am/up. 8:30am/finish getting ready. 9-12/class. 12:30/lunch. 1/sapling chapter 4, mastering physics chapter 19. 5/get to CG, do SG prep. 7-9/SG. 9/read chapter 20 physics. lab report. get at least 5 hours of sleep. words on a post-it. repeated 3 times on 3 post-its. stuck on one page of my planner.

all my life, my goals were predictable and calculated to the point that i couldn’t possibly see myself messing up. get a 100 on every spelling quiz, read four books a week. be on the UIL team, make a decent chair in band. be in the top 10%, get a certain score on the SAT. even now, i have goals. make dean’s list, volunteer 4 hours a week, shadow here, get a job there, pay my rent and bills, get accepted to medical school, become a doctor. get married at 25. have two kids. live life. i have endless checklists, endless goals.

i was talking to someone this week, just voicing some personal worries i have had, and how out of control i felt. he said to me, “when you are in control, you stop relying on God. and He knows it.”

at that moment i started looking closely at myself. i saw that it was true. when i knew my plans, i relied on myself. when things went my way, i grew confident in my own abilities. when i succeeded, it was a testament to my own intelligence, my own hard work, my own talent. of course, at the back of my head, i know that the credit isn’t mine. i have always had my parents’ support, my friends always encourage me, and most importantly God blesses me with my being and is the one who has created me… but in those moments of pure exhilaration, who am i giving glory to? God? or myself? i am afraid of the answer. but thinking more and more… i see where i am putting the credit, especially in my failures. when i fail, i crumble. i beat myself up so hard about every mistake, every flaw. i blame myself for everything. why am i being so hard on myself?

i have been so busy trying to control my life. i have taken on the burden of my life. i have been trying to be my own god. my burden is heavy, and my yoke is so hard.

and God, in typical God fashion, has been busy turning my life inside out. everything that i’ve been clinging to that isn’t God, He is uprooting. He beckons for me to return to Him. to seek Him. He knows that only when i’m completely lost, when i’m at loss of what to do, that i turn my face to the ultimate Redeemer. and in that moment, when i turn towards Him, God embraces me with all of His love and comfort and goodness. and reminds me of who He is to me. He is my future. He is my present. He is my past. He has been with me always, He will never forsake me.

i’m processing, still. i’m still trying to comprehend this. i still worry, i still freak out. i still cry a lot, and still have trouble leaving my burdens, stress, worries at the feet of Jesus. i still have been making those stupid checklists. but i feel God breaking in to my heart, one day at a time. i feel Him pressing in to me. and i’m excited at what’s in store. i have to admit, it’s scary, but isn’t that faith?

take me back to the place where my heart was only about you, God.

-j

it’s crazy, isn’t it? that every time you have a revelation with the Lord, and you think you’ve matured so much.. He reveals something completely new to you? or just kind of tells you that you your first revelation isn’t over? you think you’re flooded with all this new experience of who Jesus is… and then you realize you’ve uncovered about 0.000000001% of His character. or at least.. that’s what it feels like to me.

the song in over my head (bethel) has some powerful lyrics. the first time i heard that song, i was captivated by the words. i have come to this place in my life, i’m full but i’m not satisfied… i’m standing knee deep but i’m out where i’ve never been…

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undivided attention

how has my faith been this summer? this summer has been an interesting one, to say the least. my faith has been so up and down… the constant seesawing is exhausting… and i just want to stop…

after kenya, i was excited about who Jesus was and what he had in store for me. i was coming back from a third world country where people with nothing worshiped as if they had everything. i wanted that passion. i challenged myself, if i had nothing in this world, would i still praise Jesus? if i had no family, no support, could i still worship? if everyone around me was successful, and nothing was going right for me, would i still give God all the glory? I asked God to show me to love Him the way they loved Him. at the back of my mind, i thought that’s a dangerous request to make, Janet.

God really takes your challenges to heart. the second i came back, i fell into a period of deep loneliness. it  was left over from hurt that i had faced the last year in school, but was mainly was stemming from the fact that my family moved churches for the first time since we moved to texas. it’s been hard to find a new church. my parents go to one church, my brother stayed at our home church, and i have tried various churches throughout the summer, failing to find one where i felt i belonged. without a “Christ loving” community to call my own, my faith faltered more and more. i grew bitter and sad, and the enemy found it much much easier to attack me. i believed that i was unworthy of love, of community. i put myself down and refused to believe that i was the image of Christ. i hurt myself, and others in the process. my jog with Christ slowed to a walk, slowed to a few steps, slowed. i felt like i was going backwards. i was angry at God, questioning what he was doing in my life. yes, i wanted to love like i had nothing, but i realized i still wanted everything.

fast forward to july 14th.

the next day, i was to go to a retreat with a friend’s youth group to help lead worship. i sat at my piano, staring at the keys and thinking, what am i doing? why am i going to stand on worship team when i’m not sure i can worship God completely and genuinely? i was so ashamed. however, at the retreat, being the loving being that He is, God began to break through to me. the sermons centered around walking by faith. i realized that i had not been walking by faith. i had sins chaining me down, i had confessions that i had yet to make. i had hurt buried deep in my heart. i had been resisting God, and in that process, i had hardened my heart. but God began to tap at those walls, creating chips and cracks. i poured out myself to God, and He responded. i confessed my sin, my acceptance of the enemy’s lies. i repented for not being the daughter He had called me to be, and believing the enemy rather than my God. the song broken vessels hit hard.

i came back refreshed and ready to tackle life. i immediately failed. following God is a hard thing. i realized how easy it was to go back to my past sins, and how subtly they crept up on me and consumed me. hating myself, putting myself down, blaming myself, subsequently dragging others down with me… i was so frustrated… why couldn’t my flesh just die?

and then last night, something happened in my personal life that completely rocked me to my core. i realized that i have not been giving my God my all. i realized that he is a God of undivided attention. have you ever noticed how almost every worship song talks somehow about giving Jesus our all? take everything, God. you can have my life. nothing matters but You. i desire only You. i don’t think i consciously processed what those words meant. give your all to me, janet.

i was a mess last night, to be completely honest. it was the pinnacle of my flesh battling my spirit. God asked for everything. He reminded me (still is reminding me) that nothing belongs to me. it is all His, and at the end of the day, i need to lay what is His down at His feet. i flipped from book to book in the bible, reading any scripture that came to my mind. do not be anxious. do not store up your treasures on earth. the kingdom of heaven is so much more than the treasures on earth. where your treasures are, your heart will be also. i kept reading, kept reading, kept reading. i needed something. but i kept feeling this feeling of emptiness. out of desperation, out of bitterness, out of my soul’s weeping, the words everything is meaningless came out of me. what use is loving something if God is not at the center of it? what. is. the. use? i desired this thing so badly, this thing called control… i wanted to be in control of my life, my future, my relationships. i was gripping stability so hard that nothing else mattered, and God was not pleased. my heart was divided. half His, half mine. janet, but your heart wholly and completely belongs to me… i prayed over and over that God would take everything off of my hands. that he would take what was His. that i could find peace in giving everything up. that i would believe that God would transform what i was clinging on to, and give me something so much sweeter, so much better. but it’s… so … hard.

this morning, i was sitting at my piano, and i started to play the worship song good, good father. you’re a good, good father.. it’s who you are… and i’m loved by you.. it’s who i am. my voice broke when i was singing those words. desperately i want to believe them. i want to be assured, not only in my brain, but in every essence of my being, that my father is good. that he has the best in store for me. whether what i am giving up is returned in a purer state, or kept by my Father… i want to rest in the knowledge that He knows what is best… earlier today, i opened my bible once again. i read through matthew, and noticed something i hadn’t noticed before. throughout the gospels, Jesus predicts his own death many times. however, he also foretells his resurrection. yet the disciples are distressed. in matthew 17:22-23, Jesus says, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day”. i thought immediately of how there was the promise that Jesus would be back. why were the disciples distressed? what was there to worry about? he was coming back! and at that moment, God spoke to me. that is you. i’m telling you to give up your life, to pour out your cup so that i can fill it up with something better. janet…i have promised you something so much better. why are you distressed? what are you worrying about?

i am just now realizing, just now getting a taste, of what it means to follow God. to consider everything else meaningless. that if Christ is not only at the center of everything, but saturated in every single thing, it is meaningless. it is bound to fail. but when God is present in every second, every inch… it is so good. it is so worth it.

the cry of my heart is that i be like Jesus, of course, but also to be like abraham. in genesis 22, God tests abraham. He tells abraham that his son, isaac, doesn’t belong to him. God wants him back. and abraham obeys. in the end, God blessed abraham for his faith, for his fear of the Lord. i want obedience like abraham. i want obedience like Jesus, that when he so greatly did not want to drink of the cup of wrath, that when he was so afraid of taking on the sins of the world, he still asked that God’s will be done… i want to give God my undivided attention.

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beautiful poverty

i’d like to start this post by thanking my friend jacob rha. his constant reminders of how long it’s been since i’ve last blogged causes me to remember that my writings do indeed possess space on the internet.

kenya.

it is a vibrant, beautiful place. discard your illusions of safari and the lion king. certainly, there are places in which one experiences the knee-high grasses and the herds of elephants, but the place i spent the majority of my time was a lush plateau which can only be described as ‘alive’. from our view on blue shed rock, we could see miles and miles of green. uninterrupted nature, pure and beautiful, extending all the way down the plateau. however, not only was the landscape breathtaking (there is no denial of my God’s existence there), but the people were vibrant and full.

full of what?

at first, it can be hard to tell. the beings i encountered have very few material luxuries. flushing toilets are practically nonexistent (if you would care to know, ask me about the latrine on the plateau), and clothes were second/third/fourth-handed and tattered. questions asked at the registration desk of our temporary clinic included such as “does your home have a latrine?”, “do you have electricity?”, “do you sleep on a bed or the ground floor?”. people flocked to our temporary clinic from miles away, many on foot, for a chance to see a doctor for free. these people are the poorest people i have met in my life. yet, they had a peace in them that was indescribable. they had a fervent love for Jesus, and an air of contentment that i did not understand.

when we visualize success in America, we envision shiny cars, designer brands, fat wallets. we see college degrees, six-figure incomes, multiple-storied homes. it is easy to worship success. it is easy to never be content with our success because of a desire for more. i stepped into a foreign world when i stepped on the nyakach plateau. the people i met are the embodiment of philippians 4, where paul speaks of being content in abundance and in need, in plenty and hunger. they understand that there is more to life than materialism. a part of me wonders if it is that way because they simply have not had a taste of “the good life”… and if it is, i must admit that i long to know exactly what they know. i wonder how such an impoverished group of people can be so generous, so kind. how a child who has been tested positive for malaria can smile so shyly but widely as she tells me about her day. how a woman who came in to see the doctor for an abscess in her foot can wipe my chair with her scarf without a second thought because it got wet in the rain. how the elders can sing amazing grace so loudly, with such passion and truth in their voice, when at the end of the day they’ll still be left with their aches and pains.

it’s mind-blowing. i just don’t understand the joy of the lives i encountered. it’s completely upside-down. completely.

there were a variety of tasks that we were to work on throughout our time on the plateau. a temporary clinic was set up, with three physicians working daily to see patients. we, as undergrad (there were nineteen of us), would (with the assistance of some amazing, intelligent, and insightful translators) scribe for the physicians, run the registration desks, check vitals of patients, and draw blood/run lab tests as needed. a pharmacy was in place for prescriptions and vitamins to be doled out. this year, a man (erick) from the plateau who had just finished pharmacy school was there to work the pharmacy, and we helped him out as needed. we could also volunteer to read to or play with the students at the bethlehem home academy, the school across the street from the clinic in which many of the orphans in the bethlehem home attended. still others could hike up and down the plateau, garden in the maize fields, and visit elders’ homes and interview them about agriculture and faith. each one of these activities showed me how big God was. from learning about various symptoms that composed various illnesses, to giving pills that could heal a person. from stopping tears of an infant who had just had his blood drawn with a sweet and a glove-balloon, to breathing a sigh of relief when a patient’s malaria test showed negative. from the leg and back pain that came from tilling the soil in a maize field for 2 hours, to the amazement that many did this daily (for far longer than 2 hours a day). from reading books about snow and animals to fascinated school children, to hearing their giggles when you completely mispronounced how to say thank you in their mother-tongue, Luo. from conversations with our drivers about their families, to conversations with our translators about their studies in university. in every task that i did, i could not help but be reminded of my God.

i was talking with one of my friends on my team about how my professor said that there was an ugly poverty, and a beautiful poverty. she said that the nyakach plateau was a beautiful poverty. and i see why that is the case. there is so much beauty on that plateau. there is so much of God’s love pouring out from every shadow, every corner, every home. from the youngest orphan to the oldest elder, God has had His hand on their lives from the moment they were created.

there is just so much that went on in the two weeks that i was out of the country, i know i have forgotten so many little details. i will end this blog post now (how’s that for a smooth conclusion), but if you want to know more, hear more personal stories, or have questions on something i wasn’t clear about, contact me! i will gladly talk more about this life altering experience!

erukamano (thank you),

janet

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