Monday, January 30, 2017

Choose Joy.

Over the past few months, my life has taken a turn that I can't say I ever expected. It has been new and hard in a different way than I have ever experienced, and at times I have never felt so disheartened or so heartbroken. At times, I feel as though I have lost all the will and motivation to keep going. It has felt like every time I stand up, I am immediately knocked right back down. I found myself dealing with anxiety and depression to a greater extent than I ever have before in my life.

I began reaching out in all directions, trying to find a way to alleviate my pain. Surely some verse, or some book, or some song would be the magic trick, providing something I can hang onto, allowing me to rest in God's promises. I ended up feeling alone, abandoned, frustrated. Why wasn't God taking away this emotional pain?

As the new year approached, I spent a lot of time in prayer, asking God what He had in store to teach me this upcoming year. As many around me made resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, etc, I asked God how He wanted me to grow, what I needed to learn in order to follow His will and bring Him glory. Simple. Two words.

"Choose joy"

Stop expecting joy. Stop sitting around waiting for it to just show up. Choose joy. Wake up every day and make the active decision to be joyful.

However, there is so much more to it than just jumping out of bed saying "I'm going to be joyful today!" That doesn't work. Believe me, I tried!

So how do we combat anxiety and depression and pain and actively choose joy?

1) Stop treating the symptoms.

Anxiety and depression, most of the time, is not the actual problem. It is a symptom of another underlying problem. What is making you anxious? School? Relationships? Money? Family? Address the root of the problem. Taking tylenol for the fever does not make the flu go away. It only treats the symptoms, and if you don't attack the underlying problem, it will only come back.

2) Trust your Defender. 

Trust God to carry your burdens. He died a terrible and devastating death on the cross so that He could carry your burdens for you. Let Him. There is no need for you to be anxious when God carries all of our anxieties for us! Trust Him to carry them. He stays awake all night, never sleeping, to defend us and protect us and comfort us (Psalm 1:21). He hears our call, and triumphs over our enemies (Psalm 18:2)

3) Remember the end.

Although sometimes suffering seems to never end, although it seems sometimes we are knocked down every time we can finally stand again, although sometimes it seems that we might just have to learn to live full of pain, remember the end. It is coming. There is an end to your suffering. Even the valley of the shadow of death has an end, and it leads to the beautiful pasture where we can rest with our Shepherd. Weeping may continue through the night, but joy always comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5b).

4) Let Him be your light.

Let Jesus be your joy. Let Him be your light that guides you. When you follow the Light, you will always rise again. Even in the darkest night, the Light always shines brightly (Micah 7:8). So completely surround yourself with the Light! Lightness and darkness cannot exist in the same place, both physically and spiritually. By choosing to let Jesus be your Light, you are choosing joy.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go watch the sunrise in the mountains with one of my best friends at a chapel commonly referred to as "Pretty Place." Even though it involved waking up at nearly 4:00am, dragging my sleepy dog into the car, waking up my friend and dragging him into the car, and driving an hour and a half in the pitch black up the side of a mountain, it ended up being an absolutely transforming moment in my quest for joy.

As we sat in the dark, waiting for the sun to come up. It was freezing cold, and I was ill-prepared. Initially, I was disappointed, because the mountains were covered with this thick fog. Now I realize that it was the most perfect illustration of what it means to choose joy. Despite the fog, the darkness, the cold, and the clouds, the sun still rose. And it was all the more beautiful because of it. In the same way, sometimes we live in the fog, the cold, the dark. Sitting and waiting. But the sun will rise, the Light comes. Joy comes. When we choose to take the steps in our quest to discover joy, it comes. Sometimes it involves enduring pain (or early mornings haha), enduring exhaustion, enduring anxiety and depression, but the sun will rise. The Light will rise. So choose joy.



So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead. 1 Peter 1:6

xoxo,
Hannah

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This is What's Supposed To Happen

Lately, I have been so incredibly saddened by the overwhelming amount of evil present in the world. It seems to be everywhere I look now, and it seems to only grow worse every day. It often leaves me feeling depressed, discouraged, and useless.

Over the past months, news of the upcoming election is everywhere. Honestly, the election has just become a debate of who might be the least corrupt. It often leaves me wondering about the fate of our country and what my life, my family's life, and even the lives of my future children will look like. Will it even be a safe place to raise children anymore?

At the end of July, I spent several days in Kenya. Whenever I go to Kenya, I hear countless stories of hardship and heartbreak in the lives of the people there. I heard stories about child alcoholics, girls raped by family members, people brutally murdered, children left to starve, among many other evils. Some children in Kenya are under the age of 10, yet they have already experienced more hardship and more pain than I will ever experience in my entire life.

It seems as if every morning I wake up and I read the news to learn of bombings, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, rioting, murders, and so much more. Even now, I hear stories about such events that are taking place so close to home. I hear stories about angry people just looking for something to justify their anger, and an outlet where they can take out their anger.

I see and hear all of this, and I am just saddened. Ever since I was little, I have always had such compassion for others. So now I see all these people that are desperately hurting because of the evil in this world, and it hurts me. This hurt and this fear caused by the evil in the world leads to fights and arguments among once close friends. Sin has incredibly far-reaching effects. It is like dropping a small pebble into a lake. At first, it seems small, so it must not have major consequences. But then the ripple starts, and it keeps going on forever.

However, I am reminded that this is what is supposed to happen.

We were told that it would get worse before it got better. The world would fall into darkness before Jesus returned. So I am encouraged by knowing that as the world grows darker, we get closer to the Light. However, we were not commanded to sit idly by while the world goes up in flames, patiently awaiting our savior. We are called to so much more. So during this dark time, what are we supposed to do?

1) Overcome the evil in the world with the Light 

{Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21}

Instead of complaining about a situation every time you have a conversation with someone, overcome the evil with good. Instead of ranting and starting arguments on social media, overcome the evil with good.

2) Forgive others

{For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you Matthew 6:14}

As Christ followers, Jesus calls us to forgive those who have wronged us. Yes, you can forgive Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

3) Love others

{But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44}

Many people do not live a godly life. Many people live in sin. God did not call us to accept their sin, or even respect their decision. But, He did call us to love them. No matter what. He commanded us to love everyone, even those who hurt us.

4) Know that whatever the world intends for evil, God intends it for good

{You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20}

God uses everything for His will and His glory. Even the circumstances where it feels like we are suffering without reason, God is using it for a much greater purpose. Even the riots, the bombs, the suicides, the cancer, and the murders. It all has a purpose, and God is using it for good.

Now, let us wholeheartedly run the race that Christ has set before us.

xoxo,
Hannah

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Insecurity is a Parasite

I have been wanting to write this post for several weeks now, but when I write, it is very important to me that I be completely transparent and even vulnerable about what God is teaching me. Insecurity is something I have struggled with for a while now, but it wasn't until tonight that I knew what God was asking me to write. I hope this post brings you comfort and hope.

----------------------------------------------------

Insecurity is a parasite. It eats you alive. It destroys you. There is no benefit from it.

Ever since I first got sick, I have really struggled with insecurity. At times, I have felt completely hopeless, destitute, and unlovable. Insecurity invades the mind and takes over everything in it. It is strong and all encompassing. Because it is so strong, it has made me do some really stupid and regrettable things.

Some days, all I hear in my head is insecurity.

You are ugly
You are scarred
You are fat
You have no friends
You are unlovable
You are not smart enough
You are not funny
You are weird
You are disgusting
You can not sing
Your suffering will never end

And the list goes on and on. It's hard. It crushes me. It makes me lock myself in my room all day because I feel like I do not belong anywhere else. Some nights I just lie in my bed and sob because I feel like the world would be a better place if I did not live in it.

----------------------------------------------------

Winter is my favorite season, but not because of the holidays, or the snow, or even the cold air. It is my favorite because the sky is brilliantly clear every night, and I can see the stars. I have always loved stars. They are so beautiful. There are billions and billions of stars that shine in the night sky that reside millions of lightyears away. But the stars shine and twinkle and they even sing. They are absolutely completely marvelous, and I love the clear winter night sky so I can just stand in awe of the beauty of the stars.

I also really love the sunrise and sunset. I have been so lucky as to see the sun set over the ocean in California, and to see the sun rise over the mountains in Kenya on the other side of the world. There are truly no words to describe such beauty. Our God is a creative God.

Anyone who knows me can quickly tell you how much I love puppies. They are so adorably fluffy and cute and lovably. They stumble around and make cute noises and lick your toes and your nose. Honestly, what did we do to deserve puppies? They sacrifice their precious toys to you in exchange for your love. They cuddle you selflessly when you have a bad day. They are excited to see you EVERY SINGLE TIME.

All of this to say, God breathed into life all these absolutely amazing things that leave me in complete awe every single day. Our God is magnificent, creative, imaginative, brilliant, and just.

And He decided to make me. 

Wow.

He created all these absolutely amazing things, yet He believed that the earth still needed a Hannah Lorainne Mace. So I know I have a purpose, and that God believed that by adding me to the earth, He was making the world better by allowing me to live and bring more glory to His name!

So on the days when I feel ugly, I remember that the God who made the beautiful stars also made me. On the days that I feel unlovable, I remember that God loved me so much, He sent His son to die for me so that I can spend eternity with Him. On the days that I feel scarred, I remember that Jesus Christ was also scarred, and that is how He showed His disciples of God's goodness! On days when I think my suffering will never end, I remember that one day, all my suffering will end, and I will enter into eternity with my Lord and Savior, where there will be no tears, no pain, and most importantly, no spinal taps (Can I get an AMEN!?).

As I continue in my walk with Christ, I only pray that I can remember who I am in Christ and forget my earthly self so that I can serve Christ and serve others to the best of my ability. The best is yet to come.

xoxo,
Hannah

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Invisible Disability

When the word "disability" comes to mind, many people often think of someone in a wheelchair, walking with a limp or a cane, someone with an amputated limb, something easily visible to the naked eye.

But then there is the invisible disability. The invisible disability is something that preys on a person and controls them, devastates them, incapacitates them, but you may never know that person is struggling. On the outside, they may not look very sick at all, but a never-ending war goes on inside their body and mind.

As a child, I was always pretty healthy. I got quite a few cases of strep throat, but I never had any instances of major surgeries or hospitalizations. In December of my senior year of high school, I became extremely sick. And so it began. Months and months passed before I received a diagnosis, but even then, it was a slow process of realizing more and more than I had a disability--an invisible disability. I found out that, for an indeterminate amount of time, every so often, my dura mater surrounding my spinal cord will tear, which would completely debilitate me for at least four weeks. After that time devoted to recovering, I would have to return to life--the life that kept racing forward while I was benched for four weeks. While I was down for the count, my friends kept living life without me.

Although it would seem that the surgery and immediate physical recovery would be the hardest part, it was the declaration of war within my mind that would prove to be the hardest part of my invisible disability. Pain medicine and nausea medicine can take away the side effects from surgery, but what can take away the pain of the loneliness, the depression, the anxiety, the neglecting, the stress, the hurt? What can take away the pain from trying countlessly to try to explain to my friends and family what I am going through, and have them still not understand? What takes away the sadness from watching life from the sidelines and missing out on my very favorite things? What takes away the embarrassment of the stares when I park in a handicapped spot, but externally may appear perfectly fine. Or the embarrassment of having to miss so much class do to my pain. Or the stress of constantly feeling behind in my class work. Or the frustration of trying to convince someone that I actually am struggling even though I may not look like it.

People often say "there's no such thing as disabled, only differently abled."

Well that is just not true.

Because of my disability, I will never again be able to do some of my favorite things. Never again can I ride a rollercoaster, drive a Jetski, go tubing on the lake. And, I have to take so much caution in every day tasks like trying to reach something from the top shelf, or bending over to pick up my keys. For those who know just how much I love traveling, you know how much is devastates me now since traveling is now one of my most difficult tasks. How am I supposed to fly on a plane for 24 hours to reach my home in Kenya that I miss so dearly. I am not differently abled, I am disabled. There are things I simply cannot do.

There is so much guilt and shame, which often does not make sense. I feel guilty because I am not able to be as good a friend as I need to be. I feel guilty from missing important events. I feel guilty because of all the time my parents have had to drop everything to take care of me when I cannot do it on my own. I feel guilty for all the medical bills forced upon my family. I feel guilty because my roommates have to live with a sick girl who cannot always wash her dishes or pick up after herself as she should.

There is so much shame in being so sick that I cannot even take care of myself at some times in life. The shame that I cannot even get out of bed to fix myself something to eat, or even struggling to take a shower after surgery.

There is so much total frustration that is often paralyzing. It is frustrating living with a disability at only 19 years old; especially because most of my peers have no clue what it is like to live with a disability, or how to act around a friend who does have one.

I sometimes feel like my invisible disability is a thief. It stole my freshman year of college from me. I missed out on so many of the experiences one is supposed to enjoy during freshman year. And now, it is stealing part of my sophomore year, leaving me feeling even more isolated and angry.

My life is not nearly the same as it was two years ago. I've changed a lot as a person. Sometimes the overwhelming depression and insecurity from my invisible disability prevents me from just getting out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it poisons my relationships.

There are really no words good enough to describe exactly the hardships, the pain, and incapabilities that I experience on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes, out of pure desperation, I cry out to God to please take this burden and this hardship away from me. Instead, however, I should be praying for the faith, the peace, the patience, the strength, and the courage to endure this suffering. I should be praying that God will shine through me as I suffer so that I might suffer beautifully. That is what I truly want--to suffer beautifully. I want people to see the strength, the courage, and the faith with which I faced this hardship and be encouraged that, with Christ, they too can endure this present darkness.

This world is flooded with darkness. It pours in from every direction, swallowing people and destroying everything in its path. But what can kill darkness? What can kill the darkness that devastates? Light. 

I pray now that God will use my suffering to make me light. Make me a light, Lord, to help pull people from the darkness so they too may join me in the light. A light so much stronger and so much greater than any darkness. A light only found in the love of Jesus Christ.

Suffering is a difficult part of life, and sometimes phases of suffering last a lot longer than you ever could of imagined. I never imagined that my suffering that began at 17 would still be suffocating me at 19. But there is a purpose and there is hope in the fact that one day the suffering will end. In heaven, there will be no more suffering and no more pain (Romans 8:18). So until that day of utmost healing arrives, be a light. Use your suffering to bring you closer to Christ. Use your suffering to encourage others. Use your suffering to be a light.

Now, I continue on, fighting my best fight, learning to suffer beautifully.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden."
Matthew 5:14

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Exodus 14:14


xoxo,
Hannah




Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Mission

As soon as my feet touched the ground in Clemson, life took off at 1,000 mph. I moved into my apartment where I'll be living for the next three years. Overall, being back at school was a truly bittersweet feeling. I was excited to be back and to move forward, but the memories of the difficulties of freshman year haunted me. Freshman year is hard on everyone, but throwing extra health issues into the mix only makes it more difficult.

I love my apartment, and I especially love my darling roommate, Sarah. After moving in all weekend, we wanted to go to church on Sunday morning. Grace Church is in Anderson, so we had a thirty minute drive to get there.

Sarah and I became very good friends during first semester of freshman year, and we hadn't been able to talk all that much this summer since we had both been busy. During the car ride, we were catching up and talking when I began to tell her about some friends of mine that had recently visited. A friend had told me about his experiences and the work he had been doing overseas. There was a natural disaster that took place, and he went to help. He said "I don't like calling it a missions trip. I just pack my things and go where the Lord wills. It's not some special trip; it's just what God calls us to do every day."

As I told Sarah that, we both got chills. "It's just what God calls us to do every day."

As Christ-followers, I think we often forget about what we're called to be doing. Yes, it's so important to go to church, build community, and read your bible. But our life is a mission.

Many of us have been on some mission trip at least once in our lifetime. Whether in middle school or in your 40s. When people think of a mission trip, many people think of themselves wearing a tshirt and old shorts with no make up and minimum showers for a week. They think of playing with children and randomly stopping strangers on the street to tell them about Jesus. They think of extreme generosity and kindness.

Sarah and I were talking about this idea. The calling from Christ to spread his name to the uttermost parts of the earth. The idea of a mission trip. Sarah said, "just imagine what Clemson's campus would look like if we lived like we were on a mission trip every day!"

So now, envision yourself on a mission trip; volunteering to fix someones house, buying someone a meal, telling a stranger about the love of God, teaching children from broken homes about a Father who will never let them down, donating the shoes off your own feet to a homeless man who has none.

Now, envision what life around you would be like if you lived this way every day. Isn't it beautiful? When I envision that kind of life, I see a life full of love and kindness around me, lacking hate and prejudice. I see a life where more and more people begin to follow hard after God.

It's not a mission trip, it's what God calls us to do every day.

Jesus is coming soon.


xoxo,
Hannah

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lauren Elizabeth Turner

One day, I felt God leading me and urging me to write this story. It is a story that is extremely difficult for me to share. This is a story that I rarely share with anyone. For several weeks, I have been coming back to face this post--writing a little, not feeling like it is quite what I want it to say, deleting words, shutting my computer, coming back to again. Finally, one night as I laid in my bed, unable to sleep, in the quiet of the night, I heard God whisper to me.

I met Lauren when she was eight years old.

One night, my daddy told me that he was going to visit a little girl in the hospital. I do not usually accompany him when he makes hospital visits, especially when he visits someone I do not know, but I felt led to go with him. On the way, I told daddy that I really wanted to stop at the bookstore and buy her a bible like the one I had when I was little. I just really felt like I needed to bring this little girl a bible.

We arrived at Levine Children's Hospital and went up to the eleventh floor, the oncology floor. I followed my daddy as we walked around the floor to find her room. Lauren was laying in the bed with her parents and her older sister sitting close by. She was wearing her glasses, and she had lots and lots of beautiful dark curly hair.

We all sat around and talked for quite a while, and Lauren told us that the hospital did not have any good play-doh. So, of course, my daddy immediately ordered a giant box of play-doh to give to Lauren. Right before leaving, we all held hands and prayed over this sweet little girl.

The doctors had originally diagnosed Lauren with Acute Myeloid Leukemia when she was only five years old. Leukemia is a type of cancer that mostly affects pediatric patients. Acute myeloid is a rarer type of leukemia that is harder to fight with a lower percentage of survival. Lauren and her family fought the cancer with everything they had. Then, for a while, Lauren was in remission. The Turner's lived life with no restraints! I mean, who wouldn't? Lauren had looked death in the face and won!

At a routine check up with Lauren's oncologist a few years later, they found out the cancer had returned. At only eight years old, Lauren had suffered from leukemia--twice.

Immediately, the blood transfusions, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, stem cells, it all began again.

So, that is when I met Lauren.

After that, I spent a good bit of time with Lauren. Since I already was working at Levine Children's Hospital, I would always make time to stop by during my shift. Even when I was not working, I tried to go just as often as I possibly could. Lauren and I had some kind of special bond from the start. It is something I cannot explain and never will--but it was there.

Although Lauren was very sick, she had so much life. One afternoon, I walked into her room and saw her with her head hung over a bucket vomiting. Immediately, she sat up with a smile on her face, "hey Hannah!" Another afternoon, I came to visit Lauren. I walked into her room and the lights were off. Her sweet mother, Kristie, asleep on the couch. Hailey (Lauren's older sister) and Lauren were sitting by the bed playing a card game. Skip-bo was Lauren's favorite card game, and I think she mostly liked it so much because she knew she could beat anyone at it. So, of course, I sat down and Lauren taught me how to play. The three of us sat there in the dark muffling our giggles in trying to not wake Kristie. We played a couple rounds of the game. At one point, Lauren's blood pressure cuff began to inflate and it wasn't on her arm. We all began laughing and scrambling to get it back on her arm so it wouldn't alert the nurse. Although simple, it is one of my favorite memories with Lauren.

Another night, Lauren had been doing better, so she was not in the hospital. The church was having a party that night, so Lauren and the rest of her family were able to come for a little while. I remember a part of this night so vividly that sometimes it feels like it was only last night. Lauren was wearing a green mask because her immune system was still not quite strong enough. She was wearing a blue scarf to hide the absence of her dark curls. She came to find me and we just talked. She told me about everything under the sun--her horse that she loved to ride when she wasn't in the hospital, her dog who was scared of thunderstorms, the nurses at the hospital, the friends she made on her floor. I loved every minute.

In October 2013, Lauren was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital. She had developed a problem in her lungs that made it near impossible for her to breathe.

I remember, when I found out, I thought, "Lauren has been through so much, she can make it through this, no big deal." I prayed and prayed and prayed. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed for complete healing. I prayed for every single cancer cell in her body to completely disappear for forever and ever.

I was going to a conference in California one week, so I wanted to stop by the hospital and visit Lauren in the PICU before I left. I remember walking into her room and feeling my heart completely break. I was shocked. Surely, this couldn't be Lauren. She laid in the bed with Kristie, huddled in a ball. She wore a mask so she could breathe, which also prevented her from speaking. Her skin was grey. Her eyes did not have the usual sparkle. I was speechless. I stood at the foot of the bed, and just prayed. God, please, heal this little girl.

On October 19, 2013, sweet little Lauren passed away.

Lauren passed away while I was in California. We were at Hillsong Conference. Ritchie Turner had been telling us that Lauren had not been doing well, and I was really upset that night. It was near the end of the session for the night when the band came back up to sing "Oceans." As I sang, "when oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace," I knew that Lauren had passed away. I sunk into my chair and wept. After leaving later that night, my momma confirmed that Kristie had texted her saying Lauren had truly passed away.

But this is not where the story ends.

Lauren was a remarkable girl. She fought harder than anyone I have ever met, all the while nearly convincing people with her giant smile and bright eyes that she was not ever actually sick at all. She took every shot at with such strength and courage. She always kept everyone laughing with her sassy personality. She always had nice things to say to everyone she met. She wanted to encourage people. She wanted to love people. She loved to have fun, make jokes, paint her nails, ride horses. Most importantly, at only eight years old, Lauren had more faith in God than most people could ever possess in their entire lifetime.

Throughout everything, Lauren trusted that God's plan was best. She never doubted Him. She loved telling others about Jesus. She wanted people to know the same joy that she had in Him! So amazing! She always prayed. And she always prayed for the other children in the hospital who were suffering. She was so selfless. Even at the end, she did not want to die yet because she did not want her family to be sad that she was gone.

She trusted God with her life. She loved Jesus Christ as her Savior. In the end, He came to bring her home.

For days, Lauren had been so weak, but on October 19, she quickly sat up in bed saying "I see Jesus, I see Jesus!" To which her daddy replied, "Run to Him, Lauren." And she did.

Lauren's life was the ultimate story of faith, courage, and surrender. God called her out upon the waters into the unknown, and she followed wholeheartedly into His will and His plan for her life. She was unafraid because of her faith in Christ. She surrendered. She surrendered her life to Christ completely, and now she is home with Him. Now Lauren is home. She is home with long dark curls never touched by medications. She is home riding horses every single day. She is home lighting floating lanterns every night. She is home with beautiful blue polished nails. She is home wearing clothes covered in glitter. She is home with her Savior.

I prayed for a miracle. I prayed for Jesus to take the cancer away. And He did; maybe not in the same way that we all hoped, but Lauren is healed. She does not have a single cancer cell in her body.

I love you and miss you so much sweet girl. I cannot wait for the day to see your precious smiling face again. Maybe you can paint my nails for me and then we can play Skip-bo with Jesus. Somedays it's really hard without you here. Sometimes I still expect to see you somewhere. But I thank God every single day that you are healed. See you soon, princess.

xoxo,
Hannah


"God, You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore and into the waves. You make me brave. No fear can hinder now the promises you made." 

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" Romans 5:3-4

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior." 

"But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me." Micah 7:7-8

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

"Even when my strength is lost, I'll praise you. Even when I have no song, I'll praise you. Even when it's hard to find the words, louder then I'll sing your praise."


In Loving Memory of Lauren Elizabeth Turner
April 24, 2004 - October 19, 2013






Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thank You for Bed Bugs!

Recently, I returned from a medical missions trip to Panama and Costa Rica with a group of fellow pre-med students from Clemson University! It was such an amazing experience with such an amazing group of people.

Our group landed late at night into Panama City, Panama, and then crashed at our hotel for the night. The next day was spent doing orientation for the next few days spent in Panama. We learned more Spanish, lessons for clinic, and other information about Panama! The next day, we packed up to leave the city and head for David! On the way, we got to stop by the Panama Canal. It may not sound all that exciting, but it actually was. After a long day on the bus, we finally arrived in David and, once again, crashed.
My team then traveled to the community where we would host the free clinic. We visited several houses talking to the natives and determining whether or not they needed help. The next few days, we had clinic! It was so amazing meeting the people of Panama and loving on them. I was so blessed to have an opportunity just to try and help people in need. After clinic days, we were able to all travel to a private island (yes, you read that correctly). We spent all day on the beach in the sun having an amazing time. Then, the next day we got on the bus and began our journey to San Jose, Costa Rica. The next day, we got to tour the city and buy some souvenirs before getting to work the next day doing house visits. My team visited a community outside of San Jose, and we set up our clinic in a church. The next two days we were able to do clinic! Once again, I loved every second of it. Our last day in Costa Rica (and on the trip), we were able to spend the day having fun. We went ziplining on the canopy tour and then we went to Baldi Resort--amazing! After all the fun, we woke up super early the next morning and flew home.

The trip was completely amazing; however, like everything, there were some rough patches. One night while in Costa Rica, I was enjoying the cool evening out on the patio when I noticed small red bumps covering my legs. It was quite startling. Since we had been treating lots of skin disease and fungus over the past two weeks in clinic, I went straight to my professor to ask him if I should be concerned. He immediately answered--bed bugs. I wanted to throw up. How disgusting. All I could picture was my mattress writhing with little black bugs crawling all over my skin while I slept. Because I'm a pre-med student and wanted to be logical and proceed calmly, I went straight to Google, obviously. Yes, bed bugs. Definitely. I was so upset. The hotel we were staying in was less than average (because I'm trying to be nice). I had no opportunity to move rooms or anything to avoid the dreaded bugs. And, there was a good chance they would be in other beds in the hotel as well since bed bugs tend to spread like lice.

For the record, I am not a bug person. At all. Spiders, mosquitoes, beetles, ants, any of those little things that crawl. I am not interested. I was exhausted, tired, ready to be home, and this was the last straw. I just broke down and cried. I couldn't bear the thought. I went to take a shower to try and clear my thoughts and calm down. As I stood in the shower crying my eyes out, wanting to go home more than ever, I couldn't help but think of something. I remembered a book that I have read multiple times, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It's a true story about a family who protected Jews in their home during WWI. Eventually, they were found out by the Nazis, so Corrie and her sister, Betsy, were imprisoned in a concentration camp. In their bunks in their specific barracks, the mattresses were filled with lice. Corrie was not happy, but Betsy reminded Corrie of 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Although Corrie hesitated at first, she thanked God for the lice.
Although she did not find out at first why she should be thankful for the lice, she later found out that the lice kept the guards from entering that barracks at the camp so that Corrie, Betsy, and the other women there could study the bible without persecution. Wow. So, as I stood there crying in the shower, I began to thank God for the bed bugs. I just repeated it, out loud, over and over, "thank you, Lord, for the bed bugs." Sounds crazy, right? Why would I thank God for gross little measly bed bugs that crawl over my skin and suck my blood while I sleep? Because, He commands us to give thanks in all circumstances. Not just the times when something good happens or things go our way, but all circumstances. Give thanks when you total your car. Give thanks when you get a raise. Give thanks when you are diagnosed with cancer. Give thanks when God provides. Give thanks when a family member passes away. Give thanks when you get that parking spot close to the mall. Give thanks when you lose your job.

Give thanks when you are able to afford that car you need. Give thanks when you don't pass that exam. Give thanks when you are late for work. Give thanks. Give thanks. Give thanks. You may not know the purpose now, and you may not know the purpose ever, but give thanks anyway. God has blessed us with so much, and sometimes blessings come in interesting forms--like bed bug bites or lice.

xoxo
Hannah