Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the quiet lonely where you're not really alone

Traveling alone is always an emotional event for me. For one, I hate it. For two, I hate it. And for three, I usually eat way too much candy. I'm sitting here at LAX. It's 1:42AM and I'm delirious and exhausted and I feel sick and I just want to be cuddling with my cat in Philadelphia with some Wawa near me and my mom and people who truly and deeply love me. 

It's interesting that sometimes we feel alone, even when we're surrounded by hundreds of people, huh? There is this longing in us to be loved and accepted. How many of us crave a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Or a best friend, or a father's approval? We desperately want to be accepted by the world - in our career, in our relationships, by our peers. We want people to look at us and think, "Yes. You've got it. You're amazing and special and unique and FREAKING AWESOME."

We want this so badly. I don't care if you lie to yourself and say, "Nahh" because I really think you want it too. It's the reason why so many of us sell ourselves short--we latch to any old attention that comes our way and we think, "FINALLY!" We seek out things that make us feel briefly satisfied. Whether it's alcohol or drugs or even working out or daydreaming - anything can become a barrier when we worship it or when we use it to fill voids in ourselves. Gossip, for example. How tempting is it to gossip all the time? To belittle others so that we feel better about ourselves. 

"She smiles weird."

"He talks too much."

"She's a slut."

"He's such a douche."

It's really, really sick and really, really easy to fall into. I know I'm guilty of it. And I hate it. 

We do these things because we want to feel something. We want to feel better than others. None of us want to be ordinary. And none of us want to be alone.

The world teaches us to follow our hearts and to serve ourselves. To get a college degree, to be "well rounded" and to impress EVERYONE. One thing I love that we talk about in church is the idea of "following your heart." Like, what does that even mean? Especially in Los Angeles, people are all about listening to their heart and staying "true" to themselves. But gosh, when I think about it...my heart is effed up y'all!!! If I followed my heart everyday I'd be a messed up individual. Wouldn't it be so much more amazing to follow something greater than just...us? 

I think so. That's why I follow Jesus because He was the freaking MAN & still is.  

Anyway. Back to my original point and I don't even know if I still have an original point. I am so busy everyday worrying about the next step in my career. Worrying about this person and why they aren't treating me the way I want to be treated and what have I done wrong? Worrying about friendships, about my looks, trying to lose weight and be funnier and this and that and it all is just so ridiculous. Because I sit back and I think: 

Jesus loves me. 



The son of GOD - loves me.


It makes me cry right now thinking about it. It makes me want to get on my knees and throw my hands in the air and just live in that awe. Because I am so thankful. Because God loves me and with me, He is well pleased. Me? But I suck. I'm impatient and annoying and I can be downright rude.....but God has Grace. And each day His mercies are new. And each day I want to be closer and closer to Jesus and I want to change the way I'm living - I want to live radically and courageously. 

We're not alone when we have Jesus. I don't care if that is the most overused and cliche sentiment in the whole world. It is truth. 

I just pray we all believe it. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

there's something in the water

What an emotional past few days. Do you ever feel like sometimes you just want to cry at everything? If you're a guy maybe you don't feel like this as much as I do, but I feel like I can't be the only one. It's not even that I'm sad or in a strange rut - I just feel like my emotions are in overdrive. I mean, yes, they usually are all the time. I cry at everything. But lately I just can't seem to help feeling things strongly. 

Yesterday I went for a hike and it was exactly what I needed. Every time I get to the highest point of Runyon Canyon and I look out at the Hollywood sign, I kind of feel overwhelmed in a good way. And I wonder what God's plan is for my life. I have no idea why He has me here in Los Angeles. I mean, I have a general idea, but lately I have been praying about surrendering everything to God. My life, my future, my career, my relationships....everything. And it is HARD. But it is important. 

Yesterday I also had the chance to talk to one of the most amazing women I know, my friend Melissa. I interned with Melissa two years ago at Lake Champion, a Young Life camp. It was hands down the hardest and most amazing summer of my life! Anyway, Melissa recently got engaged! I am SO excited. As she told me the story I listened on the phone and cried (obviously) and was so overjoyed. I remember sitting with Melissa on the dock of the lake, eating ice cream and talking about our lives to one another. Isn't it amazing how you can only know someone and be around them for three months and feel like they're your sister? I am SO excited for Corey and Melissa. God is so good. 

Reminiscing with Melissa about Lake Champion got me thinking about how much I've changed in two years. It's a little scary. This year has been one of the hardest of my life, but in that struggle it has also been the most incredible. But sometimes I feel like I don't know myself anymore...I look back at the Nina from two summers ago and who I am right now, and it's crazy how different I feel. God changes us and He is constantly transforming us, but what if I feel like I'm not changing for the better? WHOAH WE ABOUT TO GET REAL DEEP ON THIS BLOG. But do you know what I mean? 

When we are put in uncomfortable atmospheres I think our true selves come out. For example, me living in Los Angeles. I am out of my comfort zone. I am living far away from my family, I am pursuing a career in a cut-throat industry and I am starting my whole entire life over. Meeting new friends, adjusting to a life all the way out here in LA. While it has been so incredible it has also been SO HARD. Sometimes I have these moments where I have to stop and remind myself who I am. 

I am made in the image of God.
I am a woman of Jesus Christ.

These are basically the only two things I need to remember. Why, in a city like LA, is it so easy to forget them? Why is it so easy to compare myself to other women, other people? Why is it so easy to want to just fit in with everyone else and go along with what the world tells me?  

In these times when I feel like I'm just treading water, I need to remember the small celebrations of life. Like hiking alone and seeing this:

Or how much I love reading Harry Potter and drinking chai tea before seeing a UCB improv show. How I look forward to Mondays because I know I get to just laugh for an hour straight watching some talented people do what I want to do one day on stage. 

Y'all. God is good. I rest in His love and His plan for my life. It is good to be free. 

"For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness."
Ezekiel 34:11-12

Sunday, June 17, 2012

things i do that make me really nerdy but not in a trendy nerdy way more like an anime nerdy way (HOW MANY PEOPLE DID I JUST INSULT?)

1. Listen to musicals before going out with friends
Where all mah Thespians at?! This is like, super embarrassing but also super true. Some girls listen to only Beyonce before they go out with their friends. And I love me some Queen B, but I have found myself on occasion jamming out to Wicked or Rent or (dare I admit it?) Les Mis **shudder** I just have to believe I'm not the only one out there belting about Defying Gravity before heading out with my friends. IT JUST GETS ME PUMPED, OKAY?! Like, CAN I GET AN AMEN FOR SOME BADASS HARMONIES? Have you even listened to the Newsies soundtrack? Well, HAVE YOU? If you don't get chills when Jack Kelly belts out that last "Santa Fe" then you probably don't have a soul.

2. Insult people in Harry Potter language
I know I probably should pretend like I never insult people. It makes me look bad. But you know what makes me look worse? The fact that when I get super angry I insult them in Harry Potter lingo. Yikes. I know, I am working on not getting angry at all, but I'm human :( But seriously. You know you've been there before. That person was just acting totally Slytherin. How rude!!! Or you know what they see when they look in the Mirror of Erised? Probably themselves. Being mean. Or like, "Daaang, that girl so cold she a Dementor YO! Go suck some souls ya dementor." 
It's just this thing I do and I need to work on it. 

3. Cry about Narnia not existing
This really happened one time, I might have talked about this before. I cry a lot people. It's just what I do. Some people express themselves through frowning or smiling, I just cry. Like, all the time. Anyway, Christina (my youngest sister) and I were in the car waiting for my mom to get done work. Christina started singing Regina Spektor's "The Call" aka the song from the Prince Caspian movie. And then all of a sudden, BAM! Tears! Flooding down my face! Because I started thinking about how I wish so badly Narnia existed so I could live there are wear medieval clothing and be married to Peter and hang out with Aslan and how much cooler that is than sitting in traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard everyday. Ugh, the INJUSTICE!!!!

4. Apply montage music to myself in everyday life in my head
If you don't do this you are a liar! Everyone has those moments when they're walking down the street or driving on an open road and you think, "This is the perfect montage moment in the movie of my life." And you have the perfect song picked out. I love a good montage song. My go-to is either the 80s song, "The Promise"...it's the song that plays at the end of Napoleon Dynamite. 

Enjoy the amazeballs that is the music video. But seriously, it's so fun to do. I encourage you to pick out your montage song for your life or even just moments in your life. Going along with this, I usually daydream about the Oscar clip they'll show when I get nominated. Even if you aren't an actor or want to be one, you still have probably done this. Usually it's something like me weeping controlled with a single tear falling down my left cheek and I'm looking all haggard and super skinny. Or it's something like me having an awesome mental breakdown, kinda like this:

Dayum Shirley you good...GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!!!!!!!

These are just a few super nerdy and wonderfully fun things I do to help me get through the chaos that is being 22 and searching for myself and all that ish. HOPE EVERYONE HAD A LOVELY WEEKEND YA BIG LUGS. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

OnLy GoD CaN JuDgE Me*~*~*~*~ (no but seriously)

I do this really adorable thing where I overanalyze everything. Jealous much? You should be....IF IT WERE OPPOSITE DAY.

Did anyone know this was an actual movie? Pauly Shore, what are you DOING? But yeah, I do agree....KIDS RULE!!!!!

Back to my point of my super adorable trait of freaking out and overanalyzing everything. I could list all the areas of my life where I nitpick everything apart, but it'd be kind of a super boring post. Recently I've been struggling with the fact that I don't always feel like I belong in the category of a "Christian girl." I know, I know. Sound the alarm! What does that even mean? Before you rip me to shreds with whatever argument you have, hear me out.

 I haven't been a Christian my whole life. I've always believed in God, but it was never a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was more of a fear that if I did something bad I would go to a hell and never be forgiven. There was no Grace in this mindset, no mention of a Savior dying on a cross so that I didn't have to worry anymore, I just had to believe. Then I realized when I was seventeen that I wanted to know what it was like to live my life for something greater than myself. I wanted to know about this Jesus guy and why he died for me and if he actually even cared about me at all. (Turns out he does and it is AWESOME). 

So becoming a Christian has been amazing because it's not a religion so much as it is a relationship. A real, turbulent, complicated, beautiful relationship. But with that comes struggles, especially within the Christian community. I know I can't be the only girl out there that feels the way I do. And listen, I understand you must disagree with me or get angry or whatever, but this is my heart and my feelings and thoughts are real and valuable. And besides this is my blog and I'll DO WHAT I WANT DAMMIT.

Anyway....if you read my blog you know from my previous posts that I've always been loud and silly and ridiculous. It's who I am inside and it's the way God made me. This never, ever bothered me before I became a Christian. I loved making people laugh...I dreamed of growing up and doing it for a living. And then I became a Christian and slowly but surely I started to doubt myself. Isn't it strange how the enemy works? He knows our weaknesses and he strikes, but God is SO much bigger. And now that I'm 22 and done college and a lot of my friends are starting to get married and settle down, it just gets me thinking. I know I'm super young and I have my whole life to worry, but sometimes I can't help it. And lately I can't help but come home from hanging out with friends, or at work and I sit down and just when I'm about to go to sleep or shower I am flooded with ridiculous thoughts. 

"You laugh too loud."

"You ARE too loud."

"You're not feminine."

"You're annoying."

"You eat a lot."

....that last one is one I think every girl thinks. But before y'all start being like, "Dang Nina, you saaadddd girrrl."  It's not like that. I think a lot of us are flooded with these thoughts but sometimes we just try and hide them and get over it. But it's ridiculous that we overanalyze ourselves so much. Yesterday my mom sent me this prayer: 

Let the broken say it: When you’re bruised by lies, believe truth and whisper it louder: "I am my Beloved's."

I belong to JESUS. YES! How amazing! How free! So when I start to doubt my worth and identity and I think, "I'm not gentle and feminine and I don't Pinterest and sometimes you know what? I am really loud and opinionated." But that's who I am. I'm not perfect but comparison won't help anything. Everyone is uniquely crafted!!

Yesterday a friend sent me this in a text:

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, most precious thing in all thinking."
George MacDonald

YES! We need to remember this. Even if you don't believe in God or believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND GOD CREATED YOU FOR A REASON. This is TRUTH. It blows my mind every single day. In a city like Los Angeles, I need to cling to and remember this. It's hard to have strong faith here in LA. I have struggled more in my walk with the Lord here than I ever have. It can be so lonely and isolating here and it's so easy to be tempted to fill up my life with temporary and instant satisfaction because in the moment it feels good. But it's so fleeting....there is nothing like the love of Christ. Nothing. 

I know this seems like a rant but too often I shy away from my thoughts about my faith. I keep quiet because I'm scared people will think of me differently or they'll judge me or they'll think I'm stupid because I love God so much. How silly is that? How absurd? The truest part about me is my heart and more than anything I want to glorify God every single day. And goodness do I fall short. But I am trying. All I can do is wake up in the morning, thank God for a new day and live out the Gospel. To love others unconditionally, to serve others, to encourage others...what a revolutionary world we'd live in if we actually lived the way Jesus lived. Amazing.

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