bullying, caring, community, credos, diversity, emodiversity, friends, genuineness, God, inspiration, life, life lessons, love, positivity

On Embracing Diversity and Loving Others

There has been much division and enmity in this country between Republicans and Democrats, Blacks and Whites, Immigrants and people who have been born here, and between many other societal identifiers. Then, my good online friend introduced to me to Fraggle muppets, and in particular, Gonzo, who embodies who I would like to be like in some ways.


For years, I have struggled to accept who God created me to be. When I was growing up, I was on the outside looking in, and frantically trying to achieve good grades in my classes to somehow someday be truly loved and accepted as I am, and, in turn, accept myself as well.

Though I still struggle sometimes with accepting myself as God created me to be, when I discovered Gonzo and more of who he was and is as a Muppet “Whatever”/alien, I realized many things about appreciating and embracing diversity, including my own.

Gonzo is a very unique creature with a personality that can be described as “eccentric,” “eclectic” or “weird.” However, Gonzo also strives to embrace his life and those around him fully. Gonzo is secure enough in who he is as a Whatever/Alien that he doesn’t try to change his personality or being just to be approved or accepted by others. Gonzo’s personality and attitude toward life has taught me that I am GOOD the way I am. I don’t mean to say that I don’t struggle daily with sin (I do) and that I should not try to change my sinful ways and repent of them (I should). However, what I mean is that the way God created me is inherently good. Also, I do not have to constantly seek approval or validation from other people to confirm this fact. Also, if people do not like the way I am, and it is not for some sin I committed against them, but for something that is a part of how I was wired, I do not have to doubt if I am worthy to be alive or if God truly loves me or not.

Gonzo and his friends have also taught me some important lessons about how to truly love others. When we truly love others, we will accept them for who God created them to be without trying to change them into something they are truly not. Gonzo’s friends, and especially his girlfriend, Camilla, who is a chicken, do not really care if he is weird and do not really try to change him into being more “normal.” Also, my real friends and others who are on Team Me will embrace me the way Gonzo’s friends have. If I am a really friends with someone else, I will not try to change them into the person I want them to be if that is not how God created them or how they were wired by Him in the first place. I will love them unconditionally. Gonzo also demonstrates this to his girlfriend Camilla by not trying to stop her from expressing herself in “chicken talk” or by forcing her to change some aspect of how she was already created. Even though Gonzo and Camilla are very different from each other, they truly love each other even and because of their unique qualities.

We should too. Instead of having enmity against the other “side,” so to speak, maybe we should seek to understand where they are coming from. Instead of mocking or shaming the “weird” or “eccentric,” or letting other people bully or mock them, we should stand up for these unique individuals and learn from them. Maybe, we could make a new friend. After all, there is a Gonzo-like uniqueness in all of us that helps us embrace life fully, with all that there is.

Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev on Pexels.com
caring, community, eternal matters, family, friends, God, heroes, life, life lessons, love, pain, positivity, purpose, stories, suffering, thankfulness, truth

Things That Lifted Me Out of Depressive Episodes

I have struggled on and off with depression for more than 25 years.  However, God always brings people and certain things in my life that help me through these tough times and give me much hope.  The three main things that God brings into my life to help me through a depressive episode are the strength to persevere, support, and hope.

Growing up, I found it extremely difficult to make and maintain friendships because of the problems I had understanding how to socialize with others.  I felt like the odd ball out. I felt lonely and that if people really knew the true me inside, they would completely avoid even talking to me, let alone be my friend!   This made me feel extremely lonely and even suicidal at times. However, about ten years ago, about the time my mentor J came into my life, I found a good, bible believing church to attend. I started to have the hope that maybe people would like me for who I was.  I started opening up about the pain and the struggles I had in my life, and I discovered something that I had never really known before—acceptance and love—from my peers. Not only that, I discovered that when I shared who I really was, warts and all, in this blog and with those who were close to me, that I freed them to share their struggles and forged a deeper connection with those around me.

One of the darkest periods of my life thus far was when I was in my early teens. My parents were struggling with paying for two houses.—One they still owned and wanted to sell, the other was the one they just bought. I really struggled with making lasting friendships because of my problems with socializing and the fact that my peer groups were starting to form cliques, and I didn’t belong to any of them. I also struggled with severe OCD and an eating disorder. They were like clouds hovering over every part of my life.

However, God did not let me give up. He sustained me and loved me, even though I did not yet know Him or acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior.  During that time, God gave me strength to get through each day. Though I wasn’t happy or in good spirits, I was still alive. 

Yet another difficult period in my life was when struggled to find a job that suited my skill set.  Towards the end of that period, God brought my mentor J into my life.  She did not see a person void of hope and skill, as some others did. She saw a person that had potential.  J believed in me so much, she persisted in pushing me to find work and did not let me delve into despair.  Finally, in June 2013, I found, what was going to be, my first steady job outside my home, for a long time.  I learned so much there.  My depression really began to lift, and I began to see my potential to positively impact the world around me for the first time.

Not only has J helped me in my job searching, but she has also helped me learn new things and conquer my fears.  For instance, I had a fear of driving because I believed the lie that I would never learn to drive and that I would not amount to much in this life. This lie was first told to me by someone in authority that I was taught should be respected and trusted. What I didn’t know at the time was that authority figures were sinful humans like me and sometimes made mistakes too.

J had great influence on me too, but she believed that if I just had enough practice, I would be able to drive myself.  About a year later, J’s prediction came true and I got my first car! The reason why I had not been able to find a good job earlier and was depressed and down on myself was because I really feared driving. Thus, I never drove, and this fear kept me for applying for jobs that required driving for more than 5 to 10 minutes, which really narrowed the jobs that I could get that matched my skill set. God brought J into my life not only as a support, but also to give me hope in my life.

God has always given me the strength to persevere though my trials, has given me support in the midst of it, or has given me hope that things would be better in the future if I continued persevering through it.  God has used these trials to make me a stronger, more compassionate person, conformed to the image of His Son.  If you or someone you know is going through a trial right now, let me encourage you to trust that God will also give you the strength to persevere, supportive people in your life, and/or the hope that things will get better soon.

bullying, caring, community, eternal matters, friends, God, heroes, life, love, pain, purpose, stories, suffering, thankfulness, truth

Reason to Live

-written September 6, 2020

I almost killed myself. Several times in my life. Recently, my friend related his interactions with a bullied classmate that was daily experiencing torment from his (the classmate’s) peers, before the classmate took his own life. Suddenly, I realized that had God not intervened when He did, that bullied classmate’s fate could have well been mine as well. 

As a female on the spectrum, I am no stranger to the experience of having been bullied, and eventually losing the will to live.  My peers teased me from everything from my appearance to my socially awkward mannerisms.  The ones that did not bully me either ignored me or hung out with me out of pity for my lack of friends and social skills.  They dared not become too close to me and genuinely get to really know me as a person with hopes and dreams.  These people may have meant well, but I could see through their veneers. 

In high school, after being emotionally and verbally abused by a teacher (Yes, you read that right. An. Adult. Teacher), I came to the brink of suicide.  With little intimate support, other than my parents who didn’t know what went on until later, I thought things would never get better. I had strong suicidal ideations. I was also jealous of my younger brother who I thought had everything I lacked.

Unlike my friend’s classmate, I did not end up taking my own life. God, in His goodness and mercy, slowly revealed Himself and His love for me. God slowly brought people into my life that helped me through the challenges of my season of life—People that believed in me,  that did not just pity me, but encouraged my God-given abilities and really wanted to relate to me as a person and know my life story. 

I have heard and seen some people say that if it weren’t for their pet (or insert “X” thing/person here), they would have no reason to live. I say, if I did not have God and He never intervened in my life, I would have no reason to live.

Thankfully, God is my reason to live, and He did intervene in my life numerous times when I needed Him the most! God has also motivated me to strive for excellence in everything I do, regardless of the temporal rewards that may await because eternal ones are much more valuable to me. God has also made me realize that there are people that need to hear my story of how He rescued me and gave me hope, because many people desperately need that right now.

They need to hear your story as well. So, whatever situation you are facing, don’t give up. Don’t. Give. Up.  You can save someone’s life in the future simply by not giving up on yours and triumphing through life’s challenges. Someone will need to hear your story. Let yours be one of hope and perseverance for others.

If you are feeling like giving up, there is help for you. You don’t have to go through this life alone. Please call 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Hotline) if you or someone you know is feeling like giving up on life.  Remember, you are NOT alone, and there is hope for you as long as you are still alive.

bullying, caring, friends, God, heroes, hiding, love, pain, poem, purpose, rejection, stories, suffering, thankfulness, truth

Balm for the Pain

for T.K.

7/9/2020

Memories of darkness–

The cruel words that were said

The lies that I was fed

Invade my helpless soul

 

They flood back in an instant,

When my soul tries to heal

From untold scars and pain,

That again I must feel

 

These demons haunt my soul

As they trap me with fear

That my foes will be ones dear

And I would be left alone

 

But God sent you to me

He wanted me to see

That there was still much hope,

As dark would melt into light

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Light of Hope

written June 3, 2020

This world is dying

People are crying

Lives are being taken

God is being forsaken

By much of mankind

Darkness surrounds me

Pain envelopes me

But I remember you

And I cry out for you

Because you hold light

When you are in sight

And in my deepest soul

Making me again whole

So I know there is hope

When I’m on my last rope

Because you are with me

Even when you I cannot see

caring, community, credos, eternal matters, friends, God, heaven, inspiration, joy, life, life lessons, love, poem, positivity, prayer, purpose, suffering, truth

All You Need

All You Need— written on : 7/29/19

You have been searching all your life

For a hope—lasting and real

To fill your empty and hollow heart

Before you fall completely apart

 

All the glory in this flawed world

All the things money could buy

Will never fill your God-sized hole

With what would make you whole

(image by Robert Allman)

But I have found that lasting hope

When I was on my very last rope

My Savior filled my lost, weary soul

With everlasting love and hope

 

He is all the love I truly need

Because He is always good indeed

I pray you taste and see His love

And see your life filled with joy and hope

 

caring, community, credos, death, eternal matters, family, friends, God, illness, joy, life, life lessons, love, pain, positivity, purpose, stories, suffering, truth

My Journey to the Light: Lessons Learned in the Dark

Also appeared in Persevering Hope, October 2019.

DISCLAIMER: Triggers for mention of suicide.

 On April 9, 1999, I had penned these words, ““I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?”  Though I had been already battling depression for over five years at that point, that month was one of the lowest for me.   I had few, if any, friends, and I felt those closest to me could not relate with the emotional anguish and sickness that I was going through.  School was very stressful for me, as I endured a difficult class with an even more difficult teacher, who was verbally abusive to me and others.  Thankfully, God, in His mercy and grace, met me where I was at, a little over a year later, and did not allow me to give up on myself or on life.

I continued struggling through depression through my college years, and even still struggle occasionally now. However, I can attest that things have been much better now than they were that April day, twenty years ago!  In the deep darkness of my battle, I have learned so much that has enabled me to help encourage others who may feel that they are in the deep pit of despair and hopelessness and who are close to the end of their ropes.  Here are some of the lessons that I learned along this journey from the darkness to the light:

  1. Never give up! There is always hope when you are alive. Always! —I have wanted to give up more times than I could count, but God, in His sovereignty and love, never let me get that far.  I remember having symptoms of depression since I was ten years old.  When you are battling something that seems chronic or suffering for a long time, it is very tempting to give up on life and on God. However, perseverance is always worth it in the end.  For instance, when I was the most depressed, I thought no one would understand or even care about what I was going through. I hid the pain and the fears of having been bullied and rejected by some peers when I was growing up, and thought if I just tried to forget about it, the pain would eventually go away. However, when it manifested in increasing discouragement and an insatiable hunger for the desire to be accepted and love, and deep despair when my desires were not met, I thought more and more about ending my life.  Thankfully, God eventually took a hold of my life, and I began to see the purpose of my life. I also began to be increasingly motivated to spread God’s love to others.  Never would have thought then, that I would be surrounded by so many loving and supportive family and friends that I have today. I am truly blessed.  Had I taken my own life then, I would have never saw the light God had prepared for me today.
  2. Be compassionate and caring to those who are in pain, either and both physical and emotional. —I wish the people in my life now were there when I was struggling to see my value in this world and if there was any hope left in my life.  I find that when I am able and willing to even speak a word of encouragement to those who are stressed out at work, that their countenance begins to spark and brings them hope. When you see someone visibly upset and in pain, never stare judgmentally at them, but try to comfort them and offer them words of encouragement.  Nothing irritates me more than those judgmental, cold stares and comments from people when I am upset! I’m sure that upsets others in pain as well. When you take the time to care for and encourage those in pain, you bring them the hope and love that they have needed all along. Yes, sometimes caring for people is hard work, but you can possibly save a life when you take the time and effort for them. It is also so worth it!
  3. I learned that there was a purpose to my pain. — I have to admit—I have an intense phobia of suffering. Not only do I hate when I suffer, but I also detest when my loved ones and friends have to suffer as well.  However, when I am able to see the big picture of why God allowed me to go through the struggles and battles of depression and anxiety, I see that He was shaping my purpose to be able to help others who needed hope as well.  Had I not struggled with depression, I would not be able to relate to, on more than a superficial level, with the intense struggles that the people around me have had to go through. This truth is also emphasized in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (KJV), where it says, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” So, when we go through trials, God will comfort us, both so we can endure the trial successfully, and for us to be able to then comfort others.

So, as I continue to apply and review the lessons that I learned in the dark and afterwards, I taste and see that the Lord is good.  Because God did not allow me to give up, I am able to see the bountiful blessings that He has given me, the opportunities He has given me to care for others who are in need of hope, and I learned that I have a calling in life that required me to go through some pain in order to be able to fulfill it.  Do you feel aimless or in despair?  There is purpose to your life, and God can use you to help others in their pain if you don’t give up.  There is always hope when you are alive— and my journey to the Light is a testament to that fact!

caring, community, eternal matters, friends, genuineness, goals, God, hiding, integrity, life, life lessons, pain, positivity, purpose, stories, suffering, thankfulness, truth, work

Advice I Would Give To My Middle School Self

As some of you may know, I am in the process of writing a memoir about things that I have had to overcome to be who I am now.  One of the toughest parts to write so far has been a period in my life where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and when I felt like I had little hope or future in my life. Those were my middle school years—when I was about 12-14 years old.  Sometimes, I wish I knew all that I know now, back then, so that I wouldn’t have been so miserable and hopeless.  However, if I didn’t go through what I did back then, I would have never become the person I am today either.  If I could go back and mentor my middle school self, this is what I would advise her:

  • God will always bring good out of suffering.–If I knew that all the pain, heartache, and hopelessness that I felt when I was in middle (J.R. high school) school was going to amount to something even half-good, I would have not felt as miserable as I did. The fact is because of the bullying and the pain I experienced in middle school, I am better equipped to help others who are struggling similarly.  Because God and others helped me overcome the pain I endured before, my story can give others hope that, they, too can reach the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.  In fact, if you are struggling right now, or have struggled, and you don’t know if these challenges are going to add up to anything good, know that your story can one day give others who are struggling, hope,  if you don’t give up now.  Many times during that dark period in my life I wanted to commit suicide, but God, in His sovereign wisdom did not allow me. Thank God He didn’t, or else I wouldn’t be here sharing this!
  • If people don’t accept you for you, don’t try to please them or let them rent space in your life.—In middle school, I struggled to gain the acceptance and the close friendship of my peers.  All in all, though I may have appeared happy, I was really dying inside. I tried to learn from them sometimes in an attempt to mimic their behaviors, so I would be more “acceptable,” but it never seemed like it was enough.  The same people I wanted to impress probably saw through me, and, in the end, I was still in the same spot I was in the first place—lonely and unacceptable to my peers.  Now, I have learned that if people want me to change things that are part of how God made me, like how I look on the outside (like my ethnicity), or don’t want to accept that I am an INFJ on the spectrum, that I should not put stock in trying to please them.  In fact, I have had to let go of several people in the past ten years that haven’t really accepted me for who God made me to be.   It really is better to be hated for who you are, then “loved” for who you are not, as people will find out the Real You anyway. Be authentic to yourself and others.
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
  • Grades aren’t everything.—I was so fixated on grades, that when I did poorly, I was deathly afraid that I would make my dad livid and more so, that I would flunk out of school.  Even though I tried my best to do well in school, and had decent grades, they had absolutely ZERO impact on helping me find the job I have now!  Some teachers may say to a student who is struggling that if they don’t improve, they will end up working at “McDonalds.” What these teachers don’t understand is that one could make decent grades and graduate from a half-way decent college, and STILL work at McDonalds!  Also, someone could graduate with a “C” average in school, but end up making millions of dollars in acting or even starting their own business if they know what they are doing.  I would still advise my middle school self to work diligently in school, but not get too anxious if I failed one test!
Image by Igor Link from Pixabay
  • Having convictions and drive will make you more successful in life than if you are just “getting by.”—Although I worked hard in school, I only did so to make my parents happy and for fear of failure. However, I have discovered in the past few years that my attitude back then is similar to how many people view their jobs, as just a way to “get by”.  Yes, we should make sure we are making enough money in our jobs to make ends meet, but it shouldn’t be about just that.  Although I don’t make even close to a million dollars a year at my job, I still strive to go above and beyond and do the best I can every single day. Why? Because I want to glorify God and show people that working diligently can be a more satisfying and enriching learning experience if you approach your job as a calling, and not only to make money. Because I am convinced God has placed me in my job to impact a certain group of people for a reason, I am more motivated to do my best, even when I may not get a raise for years.  If I approached my school as a calling, rather than just trying to gain the acceptance of love of people who were already set in their opinion of me, I think I would have been a lot happier.

I am convinced that if I had learned these lessons in middle school, I would not have struggled as much back then. However, I am glad that I did eventually learn these lessons, though, sometimes, like other things I have learned, sometimes I need to go back and review them.  I am glad for these lessons, because without them, I would have never grown into the person I am today.  And I am glad for the God that helped me learn them!

caring, community, eternal matters, family, friends, God, illness, life, life lessons, love, positivity, purpose, suffering, thankfulness, truth

Things I Learned In Order to Cope with the Coronavirus

-written on March 22, 2020

Saying that these are uncertain and tumultuous times would be an understatement to so many in this world right now.  I just moved almost a week ago and face some uncertainty because of that event. However, many of you are facing even greater uncertainty and even fears because your jobs may have been eliminated or changed, your children are no longer able to attend school, except online, and most of you can no longer attend church services, mosques, temples, or any other place of worship  because of this pandemic.  Even with all this trouble and uncertainty in the world today, there are still ways we can successfully cope with these new realities and stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. Here are some things I learned about how we can cope with this pandemic that is affecting our livelihoods:

  1. Selfishness can cost lives, so we should strive to be considerate of others.—When people hoard the essential supplies to combat or prevent the Coronavirus, or when they are rude and noncompliant with those that provide services and supplies that they need, they are being selfish. This selfishness can cost lives because it can force stores and other businesses to close and those without means of transportation and means to online services can potentially starve or be in otherwise grave danger because they will have to go without the supplies they need to survive day everyday.  If people don’t practice social distancing, not caring about whether they will potentially infect someone, they could potentially make someone who has a compromised immune system or is fragile physically, to get seriously ill and even die!  This can happen because the person who is acting nonchalantly can be a carrier of the virus, even if he or she doesn’t yet present any symptoms. However, when we practice social distancing, so that the virus does not spread, wash our hands frequently in order not to spread potentially harmful germs, and when we are patient and considerate to those who serve us and to those in need, I know God will give each one of us the grace we need to be able to endure this trial for as long as He allows.
  2. God will always provide for us, so we do not have to be afraid of not having enough.—Many people are in fear of at least some aspect of their livelihood being affected by this virus—whether it has to do with their job or financial security, having adequate food and water, and even that they may contract the virus themselves. I confess that I had some fears in all these categories at some point during these past few days, but then God brought this verse to mind:

“Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you.”-1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

That is when I was reminded by God that He cared for me.  And He still cares for every single person reading this today, even when we are going through trials. Not only that, but we don’t have to fear because God always provides for us what we need in some way because of his loving care for us. In fact, Philippians 4:19 (KJV) says:

                “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

My family and I have personally experienced the truth of this verse, even just over this past week!  For example, my mom needed chicken to cook a dish, and she looked for it in several stores, only to discover they were already out.  However, God provided us with the chicken through my brother, who was able to find it at a store closer to his house, and bought it for my mom.  Another incident where God graciously provided happened a few days ago, when I found out I would still have a job, after having worried about what I would do if I didn’t have one, since I tend to delve into depression and get antsy when I have to stay home and not have work to do.   Moreover, I would have a very difficult time staying at home for even several days on end, and still be relatively sane and stable mentally.   Thankfully, I went in for the job offer at my new workplace, and they allowed me to start the next day!  Not only that, God provided for me beyond what I had asked or even expected when I discovered I got a good raise compared to the last place I worked! I am so blessed!  God also did the same for Job, after Job’s time of intense suffering, by fully restoring or replacing all that Job had before. I am convinced that if we all continue to fully trust and lean on God, He will do similarly for you, in His timing, according to what is right for you. Even when you don’t think God is coming through for you right now, do not give up on Him! God will always come through just when you need Him. His timing is always perfect. 

3.) I learned we should help others in need during this tumultuous time, according to what we are able to do.—If you are healthy, do not have the virus, and have the means to do so, help others who are battling the emotional and/or financial effects of the virus. For instance, if a friend—online or real life, wants to talk or vent to you, listen to them with thought and consideration. Do not seem too busy or judgmental in your demeanor.  Offer words of encouragement to them as they face these trials. Share with them how you are getting through it and tell them about the hope that comes from Christ. If they need financial help, and you are able to do so, give them the resources that they need as a gift, not expecting repayment, as  burdening them with a loan can create additional financial and emotional burdens that they don’t need right now.  Help your loved ones in any way you can, and value their presence in your life even more now, as they may have no one else they interact with face-to-face.

If we do our best to put others before ourselves, trust that God will always provide what we need, and help others struggling with the effects of this pandemic, we will defeat Coronavirus and God will make us stronger and better than before!

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Looking Back the Past Decade, Looking Ahead

This past decade has been a flurry of changes and growth. I am not the same person I was ten years ago. God has taught me so much about how to deal with difficult situations, and He is continuing to grow me into the person I was made to be. Sometimes, I feel that I have been through more in these past ten years, than in the previous twenty or so years of my life. However, all these experiences have made me into the person I am today.  I am currently working on writing a memoir called “Becoming a Butterfly,” which really symbolizes my life’s journey in this past decade.  

What happened this decade?
Ten years ago, I was unemployed and the church I was attending at the time was still in process of finding a new pastor.  I was far happier than I was before I became a Christian, but far more depressed than I am now.  My brother was still living with my parents and me, and he was trying to find a full time job.  I could count on my hands the friends that I knew back then that I am still in contact with now. 

In the past three years, I have become a full time sales associate. I have learned how to cut fabric, do online orders for customers (OGP), take calls in the fitting room, and be a registered back-up cashier at my store.  As of right now, I am still the only associate in my department, not counting my immediate supervisor, that is a register trained cashier at my store, thanks to my now-former supervisor, Elizabeth* (*=not her real name).  

I am a blogger. I have made about 300 posts on my blog since December 2015 when I started this blog.

My brother moved away to another state, where he is currently employed full time in a much more satisfying job than he had ten years ago.  He also adopted a cat.

At about the same time when my brother moved, I moved to a different church. This turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made, not that I didn’t like the people at my old church. I loved (and still love) them! However, at my current church, I am able to grow as a Christian and as a person in ways I thought I never would or could. I have two godly pastors, who not only actively serve people in our church, but also the community at large.  In my church, I have met some of the godliest and most compassionate people in my life that are also very committed to following Christ. They aren’t perfect, but they always strive to follow Him as wholeheartedly as they can.

What were the best parts?

The best parts of this decade were gaining full time employment , meeting  many amazing people at work, some of whom changed my life for the better, and finding a good church home where I have felt loved and valued. God has also used people there to help me grow in my faith in Him.

What were the worst parts of this decade? 

Since he moved away, I haven’t been able to see my brother face to face as much.  We Skype regularly with him, but it is not the same as having him here in person.  There have been so many changes in my life since ten years ago; it has produced some anxiety in me.  Thankfully, most of the changes in my life have been good, however.

What did I learn and how did I grow?

As I said before, I learned how to be a backup cashier.  I never thought I would be able to run a register (till), much less be a backup cashier that is called up to ring semi-regularly!  I learned how to deal with different types of people, which I didn’t do so well growing up.  For instance, I learned (and still am learning) how to be less self-centered and more compassionate towards others and their needs.  In the past, I thought no one would truly love me, if they really knew who I was.  In this past decade, I have learned over and over again, that if I just strive to be my best, authentic self, most people will appreciate me and love me for who I am. And the people who don’t? They can get out of my life, or at least stay far, far away from me!

How has your decade been?

My decade truly has been an adventure!  I am indebted to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for construing all the blessings that I currently have in my life!  I pray that I will continue to grow in my faith and impact the world for the better.

What are your plans and dreams for the future? I hope to continue serving God, no matter where my life takes me.  Soon, I am going to move out of state—something I have never done before in my life! I am going to have to leave almost everyone I have ever known behind, but God will be with me.   At work, I want to learn how to mix paint and make keys for customers.  If God wills, I would like to share my life with a guy who values similar things that I do, and who serves others, works diligently, is responsible, cares for me, and above all, follows Christ, wholeheartedly, as his Lord and Savior.  I would also like to become a published author and complete a memoir that will inspire people never to give up on themselves or others.  I count it a privilege and a blessing to have known so many great people in my life thus far, and hope to know many more