NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

A Great Day

Yesterday is one of those days I don’t want to forget, so I thought I’d share about it on my blog. I know I’m not writing as much now, but I’d still like to occasionally share what’s going on in my life. So on to yesterday.

It all started with this really cool dream. Most of my dreams I don’t remember and I don’t remember all of this one either, but I do remember the feeling it gave me of being excited about sharing God’s truth with people and being used by Him even when I didn’t feel adequate. I think it had something to do with giving a sermon (something I’ve never done) and the topic boiled down to sharing our faith. And what kept going through my head, is sharing your faith isn’t something you should be guilted into doing, it’s something that comes naturally when you love God. You can’t share what you don’t have yourself, and if you really do have a faith in God and love for Him, it will spill into your other relationships.

Anyway, it was a cool way to wake up and it reminded me that God is at work and being a part of His plans are exciting. And I think having that dream prepared me for more of what God was going to do that day.

I went to church, and our pastor shared a heartfelt message of honesty and when we were singing I felt like I was joining in praising God with every believer around the world and every generation that had gone before me and followed Him. It was awesome. And in the middle of the service, I got a text from an old friend I hadn’t talked to in months. But more about that later…

As church was letting out, my phone buzzed with the noon text message. (Every day at noon our church sends a text to all our members to pray for someone). I didn’t look at the text but as I was leaving, someone told me, “Lydia we’re praying for you today.” And it was nice to know God was with me and was covering me in prayer for all that was happening to me that day.

I came home and got to meet with several freshman girls for our weekly discipleship group. We read in James together and prayed for each other and my fellow leader stayed late to just talk and share about her life and how God has changed her from who she was to who she is.

The afternoon turned into a nice family time of talking and laughing at a funny movie and just being together. But then I texted my friend who had originally texted during church. We decided that since we were both free for the evening, we would get together to eat dinner and talk. And as we talked I got to invite her to my church and try to encourage her in her faith. It was just so cool to me that we got to actually meet and talk on a day when I’d already been thinking about sharing my faith and being used by God.

I ended up dropping her off in a neighborhood right where my brother and sister-in-law live, with her mother. So I thought I’d stop by and say hello. My brother and his wife weren’t there, but the mother-in-law was and she was going to have surgery the next day. So I got to end my day visiting with her and praying for her about her upcoming surgery.

It was like God had all these things lined up for me to do that day and He had everything prepared in advance for me to do it. And it was just so fun to be a part of. So I don’t know what God has planned for me today, but I’m excited to see how He’ll continue to work in my life and my friend’s lives.

I hope you have a blessed day and I hope this post encouraged you to share your faith and be available to be used by God where you live.

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A Day Off

Happy Labor Day! Sorry it’s been over a month since my last blog post. I’ve realized how hard it is to do things when you are working a full time job. For all of my life up to this point I had been working part time, and I could do a lot of extra things with my time because I wasn’t working. And now, even though I’d still like to do some of those things, they just are harder to do with less time to work with. So since it’s a Holiday and I am not working today, I thought I’d write a blog post.

It’s easy to get into the grass is always greener on the other side syndrome. When you work part time, you wish you had a full time job, when you aren’t married, you wish you were, when you’re bored and have nothing to do, you wish something would happen, when you’re running around like crazy, you wish you had a day off and some time to relax.

But it’s important to be thankful. To stop and appreciate what you do have. You may be very busy with lots of work and responsibilities, but it also means you have a job and that what you do matters to a lot of people, and that’s a blessing.

Or maybe you don’t have a job and you really want one, but in that place of not having a job, you have a lot of free time that you can use to invest in people, to volunteer, to help others.

You can always find something to be thankful for, even if life is hard. You just have to look for it. So here are some of the things I am thankful for today.

-Rest. God intended us to have a day of rest once a week and I am so thankful for my days off. They allow me to refocus, refresh and allow me to spend time with the people I love.

-Friends. I am so blessed to have so many close friends, whether they live in other cities, states, or in my own neighborhood, I have so many people that love me, care about me, encourage me and will be with me through all the ups and downs of life.

-A Job. Even though it can be hard sometimes, I am so thankful that my job allows me to bless so many people, to be a part of what God is doing in this city and state and that I can join in His work. I know most people don’t dream of a job of answering phones and emails and organizing supplies and placing orders, but I love it, because it’s needed and a big part of a ministry that changes people’s lives and reveals God’s glory.

-A place to live. It may not be perfect, some things could be fixed up or upgraded, but I have water, food, a bed, and people I live with that I love and care about.

There are so many more things I could write about that I am thankful for, but with the fall upon us, I may want to spread them out for some posts leading up to Thanksgiving. In any case, I hope this post reminds you to be thankful, to enjoy the little things God has blessed you with, like a day off, or a cold drink, or a beautiful sunset.

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A Glimpse of Heaven

You may think this post is going to be about the solar eclipse. I really did enjoy getting to see the moon blocking part of the sun (I didn’t see a full eclipse). But this post is about something else.

The past few days have been a crazy whirlwind of activity. I am not going to school this year, but enough of my life revolves around the school system, that it can’t help but get a little crazy at this time of year. One of my favorite things about the new school year is that the church I attend moves up the students to their new grade on the Sunday before school starts. So I got to have fun meeting, laughing, and playing games with our new group of 6th graders.

But what was even better was the surprise appearance of so many old friends on the same Sunday. One of my former students who is now in high school, came back to visit from New York. I haven’t seen her in a year and it was so good to just see her face and hear her laugh. I also got to see a family that has moved to a different church and just adopted 3 kids. We got to celebrate with them and give them hugs. And then my brother and sister-in-law came with their friends too. It was just so cool to see all of these relationships, old and new converging on our time of worshiping Jesus. It felt like I was getting a small taste of what it will be like in heaven when we get to see the generations who’ve gone before us and celebrate together.

And then the next day I got to hang out with my family and watch the solar eclipse, with the right equipment, of course. My aunt from our of town, even came to stay with us.

With so much togetherness, it really made me thankful for all the people God has put in my life and that even though we may live miles apart, or don’t see each other in years, we are still connected through Christ. And one day we will all worship Him together. So anyway, I hope this little post reminds you to be thankful for the relationships God has given you.

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Flash from the Past

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been feeling sentimental recently and I really just want to look at some old photos. So I thought I’d share from my findings. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my life and history and if you think it’s a cool idea, feel free to do your own Flash from the Past on your blog or social media. Enjoy!

2008
I’m starting with this year because it’s when I first got my own digital camera, and digital photos are much easier for me to upload. This was the end of my senior year of high school and also my first semester of college.

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My high school Senior Picture… or one of them at least.

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My Senior Formal (Prom for homeschoolers)

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At my graduation party with one of my best friends Lindsey.

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My 18th Birthday with my family.

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Making new friends in college like Victoria.

2009

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A ski trip to New Mexico that I went on with my Dad.

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Having fun with friends Kari and Amanda at a dance in college.

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I helped paint our house that summer.

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I went on a road trip from Nashvilled, TN to Austin, TX with my brothers.

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My Sophomore dorm room and friend Heather.

2010

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At my cousin’s wedding in Indiana.

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Going to the Rodeo with my sister.

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My 20th Birthday.

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I went to Palmetto State Park with some college friends.

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I got into the Alpha Chi Honor Society that fall.

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We decorated our college apartment for Christmas.

2011

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We had a snow day in February!

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I finally saw the Austin bats with Tracey.

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I went to Germany with some college friends, including my roommate Victoria.

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I helped with my church’s Bible Clubs like I had for the past several summers.

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I went to a UT football game with my cousin Hannah.

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Senior Year Homecoming.

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On the TLU campus.

2012

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Ice skating with my family during winter break.

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One of my paintings for my Senior Art Show.

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Finishing my senior bucket list with my roommate by going up the chapel bell tower.

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College Graduation.

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I went to the Bahamas with my family and we swam with dolphins.

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I kept painting and made this for my friend Lindsey.

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Having Fun with my family for Thanksgiving.

2013

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I tried a Cleanse and ate a lot healthier in the Spring.

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I went to the Austin Kite Festival.

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I painted a cover for my first novel.

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I got the obligatory Bluebonnet picture.

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I donated my hair to Locks of Love with my sister.

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Haiti mission trip.

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I went to see my old roommate Victoria in Philly and we took a day trip to NYC!

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I decorated my first tree on the side of the road for Christmas.

2014

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I made a snowman, or iceman.

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My brother proposed to Ashley and we all went up to Abilene to celebrate.

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Another Bluebonnet pic with my sister.

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I was maid of honor in my friend Lindsey’s wedding.

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I got to be a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding and I got a new sister!

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I saw Victoria for Christmas in San Antonio.

2015

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Ski trip to New Mexico with our church’s youth group.

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In Florida for my Grandpa’s memorial service.

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We had heavy rains that spring and a lot of flooding.

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Spring Bluebonnets with all my sisters.

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My 25th Birthday.

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My first book fair with my novel.

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Mission trip to Mozambique.

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Going to the Trail of Lights in Austin.

2016

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I went to a Spurs Game with my cousin Hannah.

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My friend Lindsey had Bethany, her first baby.

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I got to meet Marissa Meyer, the Author of the Lunar Chronicles.

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I got to go on a backstage tour of the AT&T Center.

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I went to Kentucky to see the replica of Noah’s Ark.

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I got to see a beautiful sunset in San Diego.

 

Well I’m going to stop there. It was fun to look through old photos and see some of the cool things that have happened in my life. I want to take some time to stop and be grateful for all the places I’ve seen, people I’ve known and ways that God has shaped me and grown me over the past 9 years. I hope you take some time today to do the same.

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An Old Poem

I found this poem in my old school folder today and thought I’d share it. Enjoy!

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Companion

No one wants to be alone in this world
Everyone wants a friend or companion
Someone to talk to or sit beside
It doesn’t even have to be human

A cat will curl up and keep you company
A dog will stand watch and keep you safe
A bird will bring music to the silence
Even a fish will not leave you alone

But there is nothing like a real person
To laugh with, talk to, and even listen to
We were not made to live in silence
Or sit by ourselves at the table

We are social animals and we need
Others of our kind around

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Dealing with Anxiety

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I have heard a lot about anxiety in my lifetime. People who have severe anxiety share their suggestions of ways to deal with it. There are countless books, articles and suggestions out there if you want help. But, well, I feel like I have a bit of a unique perspective, so I thought I’d share too. I can get anxious just like anyone. I’ve been nervous with speaking in front of a crowd, or being alone. I have my own worries and fears. But I don’t think it was ever serious. I never took medication, got counseling or anything like that. I was just a normal kid with normal problems. However, my sister went through and continues to deal with severe anxiety and panic attacks. Most of the advice out there is for people dealing with anxiety for themselves. But there isn’t as much advice for what to do if your friend, or relative, is struggling. What is actually helpful? And what just makes it worse? We all know good intentions don’t mean it’s what will actually help. So here are a few things I’ve learned.

5 Tips on Helping Someone with Anxiety

1. Don’t tell them what to do
Just because you read it in a book, doesn’t mean it will help. This goes for my own advice too. I may give a suggestion that was helpful in my sister’s situation, but wouldn’t help someone else. Don’t assume you understand someone else’s problem or can solve it for them. Often times they don’t want to hear any advice on what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Unless they ask, don’t tell them what to do.

2. Listen
One of the hardest parts of dealing with any problem, is feeling alone, like no one understands you. If you want to be a good friend, listen to what your friend says and believe them. There were so many times that my sister complained about her stomach hurting that many people thought she was making it up, or it was all in her head. But I believed her and told her I believed her. And knowing that at least one person doesn’t think you’re crazy can be such an encouragement.

3. Be present
This may be hard, especially if you live far away or are really busy, but it really shows you care. For my sister, I will give her a hug to show her I’m there with her (since I’m already around her a lot). Some people don’t like physical contact. But at least for my sister, giving her a hug, even one that lasts for a really long time, can help her calm down. It may look awkward to someone else who is watching, but I don’t care. I want my sister to know that I care for her when she’s hurting or scared, so I gave her a hug, or put my arm around her while we sit. I don’t have to say anything, just be there with her. Even if you don’t give hugs, find ways to be physically present with your friend. Go to their house if they can’t get out. Make the effort to be with them. And if you live too far away, maybe have a Skype chat.

4. Take away the pressure by being patient and letting go of expectations
We all feel pressure to do things, to live up to other’s expectations. These expectations can cause anxiety for anyone, and make things worse for someone who already deals with it constantly. Letting them know that they won’t disappoint you if they can’t come to the event, leave the house, or do the thing you wanted to do together can really relieve the anxiety. Countless times I’ve told my sister, “You don’t have to go. It’s not the end of the world.” Or “If we do this, it’ll be fun and if we don’t it’s okay. I’m fine either way.” I let her make the decision to do something if she’s ready to do it. And if she’s not, I don’t get upset. (This can be hard to do, and I don’t always do the best at it, but when I am patient, she does so much better)

5. Pray
This has been the biggest help for my sister. When she starts getting anxious she’ll ask me to pray. And I do, whether for her stomach to stop hurting or for God to give her peace. Sometimes I start praying and end up thanking God for her and how much He loves her and me. It helps me and my sister remember that even when we can’t do anything about the situation, He can.

 

So there’s my 5 tips. I hope they are helpful for you.

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Galentine’s Day and Happiness

So if you don’t know, I’m a huge Parks and Recreation Fan. I enjoy the humor and the characters of the show a lot and I’ll often watch an old episode just for fun. One thing from this show that I thought was quite clever was a character creating her own holiday. She called it Galentine’s Day. And instead of going on a date with a guy, she hung out with all of her girlfriends and had a nice dinner and just enjoyed their company. Well this past Valentine’s Day, I found myself in a familiar situation with no romantic relationship to speak of. It doesn’t bother me too much, but since the day after Valentine’s Day was a holiday (President’s Day) and several of my friends were off of work, I decided to hang out with a few of them. It kind of turned into my own version of Galentine’s Day.

First I got a manicure and pedicure with one friend, we talked and laughed the whole time and I really enjoyed the massages and how clean my feet felt after the scrubbing. Then I called another friend who lives a couple hours away and we just talked and talked for over an hour. And finally I went out to see Kung Fu Panda 3 with one more friend. Although we had trouble finding two seats next to each other that weren’t broken, we just laughed it off and enjoyed the movie. I have enjoyed all of the Panda movies in the past and this one was no exception. I laughed a lot and when we were done, we decided to get some dinner at Chickfila, where we saw a horse drawn carriage. We took our food back to my friend’s apartment and talked some more as we ate. Then I introduced her to one of my favorite older movies: Singing in the Rain.

All in all, it was a marvelous day filled with laughter and happiness. Even though each activity was with someone different, I enjoyed them all. This day reminded me of how many deep friendships God has given me and that makes me very thankful. So even though I don’t have a boyfriend, I’m content with where God has me. I am not alone, my life does have meaning, and I can have a lot of fun with these girls. But more than that, I’ve been learning that all I have to be grateful for really comes from God. He created me, my friends, laughter, happiness, stories, humor, and everything that is good and He wants me to enjoy them and praise Him for it. When I express my gratitude to Him it helps me remember how much He loves me and how much He’s given me, and it makes me happy.

So I hope your holiday weekend was full of happiness too and that you’re enjoying what God has given you.

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We all need a little help

 

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On an average day I do all sorts of things without a thought: dishes, laundry, organizing, driving, reading. And most days I think I’m fine, I don’t need any help. I am a functioning adult after all, I can handle life. Of course everyone has a day when things go wrong and I shouldn’t stress about that either, it’s normal. But well yesterday things went wrong and it taught me a lesson. You see, I am a proud person, I love to help others. I’ll listen to your problems, pray with and for you, help you move, or buy you a chocolate shake, whatever you need. But when I need help, it’s hard to ask for it. I’ve struggled with this all my life. I even remember once on a youth trip that I was having a hard time being homesick and finally opened up about it and cried like a baby. But instead of feeling worse for crying, I actually felt better, and I knew the people around me cared about me.

So fast forward to yesterday. I had spent the day doing some work, meeting up with friends, discussing life and it’s problems and joys. Like usual, I didn’t talk too much about myself. (Remember that pride thing I mentioned). So I got home and just got the details on a big project I needed to start working on when my sister asked me to drive her to a chiropractor appointment. This is a fairly normal occurrence in my house, so I said sure, grabbed the keys and drove over to the medical center. We went inside and as we waited quite awhile for her to see the doctor, I started wishing I had brought a few boxes in the car that I could start organizing while my sister was waiting, or getting adjusted. But I hadn’t, so I contented myself with drawing with a new app on my phone. By the time we left the building, I had already been gone an hour and I wanted to get home and get some work done.

But when I reached in my pocket, there were no keys. I wondered if they fell out somewhere inside, but no, when I glanced inside there they were, snug in the cup holder. I shivered, for I hadn’t had the sense to grab a jacket and the temperature had dropped in the last hour. I knew there wasn’t another set of keys, my family had never gotten around to buying a spare, so I started calling. I started with parents and eventually got around to a Roadside Assistance hotline, which in turn called a company in the city where I live. And finally after lots of waiting, calls, texts, and more waiting, someone was on the way to open the car for me.

I was trying not to be too upset, but come on, I never forget to check my pockets, why in the world did I leave the keys in the car? I should have put them in my pocket. My sister remembered seeing me put them down and thinking it was odd, but she didn’t say anything and we both forgot about it until we found the car was locked and I had no keys. And I couldn’t wait outside because now it was getting dark and very cold. I had already called lots of people, but I asked my sister to call one more person, my brother, to come bring me a jacket. And when he came, I lost it. I started crying. I was just so stressed out by the whole situation and tired of being the “adult” who had to handle everything. Having him come, helped me let go of that pride and overflow with thankfulness that someone cared about me too and that if I ask for help, it’s okay.

I couldn’t help but think of the country song “You Find Out Who Your Friends Are.”

So my brother stayed with us till the locksmith showed up, and broke into my car. Eventually we all made it home and went back to life as normal. But that whole event reminded me that I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I’ll need to ask for help sometimes, and that’s okay. There are people that still love me and will help me face the hard times, all I need to do is humble myself and ask for help.

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A Reminder to be Thankful

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As the Thanksgiving Holiday is approaching, I’ve been trying to be more thankful for things. But this past weekend, I got a surprise moment of thankfulness. So I hope you enjoy this little story and that it reminds you to be thankful this month too.

So, when I was growing up, I went to a church and our youth pastor had all of these events for us to invite our friends to. He wanted us to bring visitors and give us chances to invite friends who didn’t believe in Jesus. It sounded like a good idea and a great way to share the gospel. But unfortunately for me, I was a home schooled kid with no friends that didn’t already go to church. So I always felt a little guilty when he told us to invite our friends to these events because the only people I could invite were already Christians. Well, I did my best and invited some people I knew from other home school groups even though I didn’t think what I was doing had any significance or would make an impact. I thought the only good that could come from inviting friends to a church event was them becoming a Christian and following Jesus.

But the other day, I realized just how wrong I was, how big God’s plan is, and how thankful I am for His work in my life. One of the friends I invited to these church events was named Lindsey. We had one class together in High School and that was it. I was never in any other home school classes with this girl. With those odds, we wouldn’t have stayed friends. It would have been like a lot of other friendships that lasted for a year while we were around each other and ended when we no longer saw each other at school. But, that didn’t happen. I invited her to those church events we were supposed to invite friends to, and she actually came. We spent time together outside of school, and that gave us room to grow our relationship. Then we started hanging out at each other’s houses even when there wasn’t a church event to go to. And when I left for college, we emailed each other, and when I was back in town, we would meet up. Lindsey has remained one of my closest friends to this day. I even got to be maid of honor in her wedding last year.

As we were reminiscing about how we had met this past weekend, I realized how pivotal those church events had been to my relationship with Lindsey. I wondered if we would have ever stayed friends if I didn’t invite her to them. So now I am so thankful for those random events, like Super Bowl parties, and Christmas scavenger hunts, because they provided opportunities to grow relationships.

So today I want to say thank you to Jake Box, my old youth pastor for organizing all of those events and let him know I am thankful for what he did and amazed at how God used them in my life. And I want to say thank you to my friend Lindsey for her constant friendship and her willingness to say yes and go to another youth group’s event.

And I want to encourage my readers to say thank you to someone today and let them know how much you value them.

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Planned Quality Time

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What does it mean to have quality time with someone else? I don’t know if you’ve heard of the 5 Love Languages or not, but one of my Love Languages is Quality Time. That’s a big way of how I connect with people and show them I care about them. And I feel loved when someone spends uninterrupted time with me.

I just got to spend the last few days with family from out of town and it got me thinking about how I spend time with the people around me. When I plan a time to get together with someone, my brain switches to Quality Time mode. I am more purposeful, I try not to be late to the scheduled time together, and I strive to enjoy it all, because it is limited. Oftentimes I ignore texts or calls, because I’m spending quality time with this person. I’ve dedicated this time to being with this person, and not to answer messages on my phone.

But sometimes, my plan doesn’t work. We schedule time together, but the expectation and reality don’t mesh. Maybe something comes up, or we don’t do the thing we had planned on doing, or there was no plan at all, other than just meeting up, so at the end I’m not sure how to feel.

So after this past week of a lot of unplanned time with family, I’ve realized that it’s good to plan and schedule times to be with a person. It can help me personally to step away from distractions and enjoy time with someone I care about. But there’s another side to this. What if I don’t have anything planned? What if I’m just with someone to be with them? This is the norm in my family on a given day. We all have work, chores, commitments, things to do, and if we were trying to have uninterrupted quality time, those things wouldn’t get done. So sometimes we have to have our quality family time while doing other things. Like talking while doing dishes, or hearing about each other’s day while eating dinner, or pausing the movie so someone can answer a phone call. Sometimes life isn’t perfect and the quality time I long for, just doesn’t happen the way I planned. And that’s okay.

What I have to remember most, is not to make it about me. If I’m focused on how I feel, if I’m having fun with the person, if we’re getting to do everything I was planning to do, then I can miss out on the best part, just being with my friend. If I focus on them instead of myself and my plan, then I enjoy our time together so much more, no matter if it was interrupted, cut short, or we did the thing we had planned to do.

So in conclusion, plans are useful, but it’s not what quality time is about. Quality Time is best when it’s focused on the person you’re spending time with, and not on what you’re doing with them.

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