It’s Not a Race

Today is my first day of senior year. I’m supposed to graduate in May and start a real job and be an adult. It’s supposed to be almost over.

I won’t be graduating in May. Or August. Or even next December.

If all goes according to plan (fingers crossed) Malibu and I will walk the stage in May of 2019. A whole year late, because I dropped out one semester, cut down to part time in the middle of another semester, and will continue to be part time for 4 more semesters. It’s been frustrating and exhausting and disappointing. I’ve spent a lot of my school days feeling like a failure as I struggle to balance life with school. It’s been this way since I got sick in the seventh grade, and I’m assuming it’ll be like this for every season of life to come.

Instead of continuing to feel defeated and disappointed in myself, I’ve been trying hard lately to appreciate the progress that’s been made. I’ve come much farther than I ever anticipated. I can remember a time when I thought my illness would stop me completely. There was a point in time when I didn’t think college was even an option for me. My first semester I went from walking to wheelchair almost over night, and still managed to get a 4.0. I worked incredibly hard to get myself back to school after taking a semester long break for treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. I’ve shown up to school just hours after being discharged from the hospital, and battled symptoms and fatigue just to make it through an exam. In fact, this past Summer, I had class Monday through Friday for 10 weeks straight and was only absent once.

These are all things that I never thought possible. As disappointed as I was that I’ll be in college longer than what’s expected of a girl my age, I’m equally grateful now to know that I do have the ability to succeed.

Who said college had to take four years and not a semester longer? It’s not a race. I’m not losing, and I’ll cross the finish line eventually. Until then, cheers to senior year (and the senior years to come!)

With all the love,

A

Tips & A Testimony (Guest Post: Cassie)

Hey y’all! I’m Cassie from Anchored in Amazing Grace & I’m so excited to be here! Today I will be sharing a bit of my testimony and how it affected my freshman year of college, as well as a few tips for all new and returning college students.

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So I’m gonna keep it somewhat vague, because detailing out 19 years would make for a quite lengthy read, but I’ll jump right into it. Now I’m gonna share a bit about who I am & what God has taught me in my short time on this earth.

I had a pretty “normal,” stereotypical, Christian childhood- I was a happy kid who attended church 2-3 times a week, and I was usually quite optimistic and cheerful. At the ripe age of 7, I decide to ask Jesus Christ to be my savior- because that’s what Christians do & my parents were proud. It was very exciting. As a 7 year old, though, I didn’t quite grasp the power of God’s love, or what being a Christian entailed. I hadn’t really gone through anything that tested my faith, so how could I not believe in and trust this wonderful creator I’d been learning about in Sunday school my whole life?

About a year later, God gave me the gift of dance- a sport that became a huge part of my life in the years to come, but it had rocky beginnings that I didn’t quite enjoy. In fact, I was absolutely awful. I’d never really been bad at anything before. I was considered quite smart for my age back in the day, as I did very well in school and took part in the Gifted & Talented program, drama clubs & other sports I participated in. But dance… yikes. Anyway, that’s a bit of a tangent, God gave me dance. I didn’t know it then, but this was working towards a grander plan for me! The next summer, I was about 9, my aunt lost her battle to cancer, and within 2 consecutive months I lost 3 other family members. This was my first experience with death & I was unsure how to handle it. I continued going to church- I didn’t really have a choice- but something changed inside me. I felt anger, confusion, and darkness fill me. I believed in God, but I was upset with him for taking the people I loved from me. How can this perfect, merciful creator I have been praising take the lives of his creation early? Why them?

 

For the next 8 or so years, the childhood illnesses I had progressed and caused me a lot of problems. I went to dance as my release, and advanced quite quickly because all of the pain I bottled up was only released while I danced (and I attribute that to keeping me alive- Thank you, God for giving me a creative outlet), but inside and outside of the studio, I faced severe insecurity, bullying, depression and anxiety. I carried around so much darkness & wore a sparkly, perky facade so that no one- not even my parents- would know how I felt on the inside. I knew all of the “Sunday school answers” at church & didn’t get into trouble. I didn’t rebel, at least not in the way other kids did, but I was crumbling.

Fast forward to high school. I was on the drill team when I suffered a hip injury that made me unable to dance for 6 months. That was an adventure. I struggled fitting in, as I was shy & very self conscious. At this time, every girl was dating & guys paid no attention to me- which only built on my insecurity (pro tip: don’t rely on guys to make you feel beautiful- you already are and God loves you SO much!!). I was still struggling with my health & anxiety, and the stress of school got to me- I’m a perfectionist and nothing I did ever felt like enough, including who I am. I was not confident in myself: a nerdy, passionate, artsy, caring & introverted individual. I focused a lot on being someone else and that was not okay. I continued walking my distorted and dark road that was disguised by a sparkling facade that I had created. I continued to let the devil convince me how horrible I was. I didn’t have any joy most of the time, and I didn’t care to be alive. I didn’t have suicidal thoughts, but I didn’t really care if I lived- if something happened to me. That’s such a dangerous place to be in & if you or someone you know is there, please get help! So summer rolled around & my father got very sick and was hospitalized. My dad is my best friend and this was a breaking point for me- but also my turning point. We weren’t sure if he was gonna make it and I didn’t know what else to do. My siblings had already moved out, so it was just my mom and I at home. I tried to be strong for her, I didn’t want her to see me cry. When I was alone, I bawled my eyes out. At dance, I released all my pain. One day, I was particularly stressed and turned on my pandora to hear a song I hadn’t heard in a while by one of my all time favorites, Relient K. The song was “For The Moments I Feel Faint,” (check it out, so beautiful!) and one line struck me: “never underestimate Jesus, they’re telling me that there’s no hope, I’m telling you you’re wrong, when the world around you crumbles, he will be strong.” I fell to my knees and cried out to God, and prayed for a few hours to help my dad, and to help me. An instant weight was lifted off of my shoulders & I rededicated my life to Christ. It hasn’t been an easy road since, but my perspective has changed. I’m genuinely optimistic and am a lot more secure with who I am. I found God and he brought me through my darkest points & I dove into the word. I began to believe I was beautiful, that I had worth, that I didn’t have to be perfect, that I deserve love and that I am not alone. This has made all the difference. My dad got better & is doing better than he’s ever been. We’ve been facing financial struggles & I’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness that is sometimes quite unbearable, but I am able to face it and fight it with optimism and hope. Hope to use it for his glory & hope to overcome. This hope comes from Christ. I am just a mere vessel that was constantly getting lost at sea, but Christ is the anchor that stabilizes me and keeps me from capsizing adrift.

This newfound hope has helped me so much with my journey of getting to college and actually living on my own in a new place. I just want to offer love, hope & encouragement up to all who are reading this. You’re not alone and through Christ, you can get through anything. Keep the hope, stay anchored.

Before I go, here a few must-haves/tips for all college students:

  • Emergen-C: y’all, I swear by this. Everyone gets sick in college, but this really helps boost your immune system!
  • a planner! It is so important to keep a routine and stay on top of your schedule/deadlines to help reduce stress
  • Okay not really a thing, but check your email daily! You never know when due dates change, classes are cancelled/rescheduled, or when extra credit opportunities come up!
  • Brita water filter: this comes in handy if you’re in a dorm and need a way to stay hydrated, because sink water isn’t ideal!
  • Go to office hours! I kid you not, this is so important when it comes to success in your class and final grades. It could be the difference between a B and an A!

Thank you for reading, and feel free to stop by sometime! I talk about God, school, missions, and the occasional nerd blurb!

“Sea” ya later,

Cassie

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure,”

 -Hebrews 6:19 NIV

Erin Condren Academic Planner: Review

This past January I decided that I needed to switch up my planning routine. My dad always makes fun of me for how meticulous I am, and how many to-do lists I tend to keep simultaneously. My planner is my life line and I probably wouldn’t be productive at all without it.

I have been a fan of the Erin Condren brand for a while, and previously owned a Life Planner. The bulkiness and excessiveness of that planner didn’t quite work for my student life-style, so when I saw that they had come out with an Academic planer for students, I HAD to have it.

It comes in a 6 month format (you choose which months it covers!) so it’s perfect for each college semester. I just received my second Academic Planner for the Fall semester.

So let’s dive in:

First, the price. This planner is only $25 (excluding shipping). This includes your choice of cover, AND two lines of personalization on the cover.

The cover: They have dozens of options to choose from, from watercolors to bold abstracts and everything in between. Some include metallics (for an extra $5) and some are just matte. My first cover had tiny plants (of course) and my new one has my favorite Daily Reminder. I like to add my name and the semester to the front, but you could literally personalize it with anything at all! All Academic Planners are soft bound and do not have the bulky rings like Life Planners do.

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The months: As I mentioned, you choose which months you want to include. Each Academic Planner comes with a free pack of date dots for you to stick on each monthly layout. Every month’s section starts with a calendar overview, and room for notes or lists on the side. I (try to) keep track of my money on the side of my calendars each month! Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 8.11.54 PM.png

The next page has designated places to keep track of important projects and exams. You can easily keep track of due dates and details for the month on this page, and there’s always a place to check off that you’re finished! Personally, I find a lot of joy in putting that little check mark there. Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 8.12.36 PM.png

Then the following pages are your weekly layouts. Each week has a spot for each day, where you can list your classes, assignments, and due dates. I always add in appointments, work shifts, and even social events so that everything is in one place. Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 8.13.09 PM.png

At the end of the Academic Planner there is TONS of lined note pages! I sort of accidentally ended up using this section for an entire semester’s worth of stats notes, but typically I’d prefer to use it for budgeting, meal planning, or list making (duh.). Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 8.13.36 PM.png

And finally, each planner comes with a couple sheets of stickers that can be used to mark exams, quizzes, reading assignments and papers, and so much more.Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 8.14.18 PM.png

I also want to let you know that their customer service is exceptional! I received my new planner last week and the first months pages were bound incorrectly and fell out. I contacted them and they sent me a new one in less than a week with no questions asked, and no shipping fee! I couldn’t have been happier.

So, overall, I’m obsessed! I could see myself using this planner style for years to come… because we all know I’ll be in college forever. It’s easy to use and not to cluttered with extra fluff. With multiple places to write down due dates, I never miss an assignment or quiz. The personalization options are the best and make me even more excited to write in my planner each day!

Do you love Erin Condren like I do?? Let me know!

By the way… If you AREN’T a student, check out their other planner styles to keep your life in check! They even have a wedding planner, if that means anything to you. I also love their stationary, accessories, and pens. I love it all!

With all the love,

A

 

P.S. I am not affiliated with Erin Condren at all and they honestly didn’t pay me to do this, I’m just genuinely in love with the brand and wanted to share it with you! All pictures are credited to their website, erincondren.com

5 Ways to Manage Chronic Illness in College

Happy Tuesday friends!! I want to introduce you to one of my favorite blogger friends, Liu! Today she’s sharing her top 5 ways of managing chronic illness in college on my blog, and I’m sharing my top 5 things to bring to college on her blog! Make sure to leave us a comment telling us how you manage your illness at school! 

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Hello, my name is Liu Miao and I am a college student. I am done with my second year and very excited. Psychology is my major and Spanish is my minor. There is one thing that most people don’t realize that I have. I have chronic pain and some other health problems due to my physical disability. I try not to show my pain to others. Since I started college, my health got worse. Having no energy and pain when moving or siting are some of the things that I have to deal with in college. I do take medicine for my health problems; however, there are things that help me cope with having a chronic illness in college. This is to help incoming freshmen to prepare for college and be successful. It is hard being a college student with health problems but it can be done.

  1. First thing is to rest. Going to school and doing simple tasks take a lot of energy for me. I tire very easily and it is important to get rest. Yes, I know that as college students we are busy but rest is very important. Not having enough rest is not good for our health. I am a firm believer in naps. Sometimes I need to take long naps and sometimes I take short naps. I even nap in the car and nape while waiting at the doctor’s office.
  2. Food is another way I cope. Yes it’s not the healthiest option, but it makes me feel better. Having your favorite food can make you feel better. Coffee with friends helps me forget about my illness and worries. Indulging in snacks and candies also makes me happy. I am a big fan of gummie candies and spicy Asian foods.
  3. Keeping my self warm is also important. Since I have severe joint problems, it feels good when my joints are kept warm and toasty. Taking a hot shower/bath, sitting in a hot tub, and using a heating blanket are ways that keep me warm.
  4. There are times a good cry is needed. Life can be very overwhelming and crying is a good solution. It feels good getting all those feelings out. I prefer crying alone but sometimes I need a good friend to cry with.
  5. The last method is letting my emotions out in a calm way. This includes talking with a friend, doing a creative activity, listening to music, and physical activities. These activities help keep my mind off struggles. Writing is the best way for me to express my thoughts. I love blogging and helping others through my writing. Hand lettering is also one of my favorites.

It is hard dealing with a chronic illness in college, but you have to make the best of it. There will be hard days and some easier days. Managing chronic illness in college is so important.

~Liu Miao~

GPA is not eternal

Happy Summer, Friends!

I’m coming to you a little raw today. A little bit of truth can never hurt.

It’s that time of the year when we all get our transcripts and grades back and find out how we did in all of our classes. For a lot of people, this is insignificant. You know you did your best, you’re happy with your efforts, and GPA means nothing. To you I say: Good job! I wish I had your confidence and self-acceptance.

But truthfully, I don’t.

I dread this part of the semester.

I know that I did my best, and I know that my best is enough. But that voice in my head continues to tell me that I could have done better and I didn’t try hard enough. That voice tells me I won’t graduate, I won’t get a job, I’m not smart enough, I should just give up now. I give in to that voice a lot, if we’re still being honest. I struggle to believe in my worth and value as a human and a child of God, and not a student at a university.

Does any of this sound familiar? Can anyone relate? Anybody?

Well tonight I’m finding my peace in the truth that I am loved and worthy exactly as I am. We all tend to joke that “GPA is not eternal,” but if you take a step back for a second… that’s exactly true. God isn’t going to look at our transcripts when we get to the gates of Heaven. He wouldn’t dare punish us for that one C we made in American Literature (honestly, why was that on my degree plan? Yikes).

So what if we’re not all 4.0 students? So what if we don’t all graduate early and get our dream job straight out of college? We’ve already been given the greatest love and acceptance in Jesus. That’s all we really need, right?

Chin up, friends. Graduation will come eventually.

You’re smart, you’re tough and you’re crushing it – no matter what your transcript says.

With all the love,

A