Saturday, September 13, 2014

What It Means To Truly Have Faith: A Night Of Joy Story♥

Happiness is a form of courage... Hello family and friends, I'm sure you've been waiting for an update on what has become of me since there seemed to be a lot of talk about feeling hopeless and also a lot of struggle that seems to always present itself to me. Let me tell you. This blog is no longer going to talk about that.

I've found a new perspective thanks to a vacation that at first was forced upon me. As a family, we all wanted to attend Night of Joy since we hadn't attended since 2011, and as you already know, life really has happened to me since. Yet, Jayde has found a new love for God recently and she really wanted us to go because this year, one of her favorite worship groups was going to be there. The Australian internationally known worship group Hillsong United. Because her determination would not waver, Jayde went and purchased two tickets as a birthday gift to my mom. My mom wasn't very happy about it at first because beside the event ticket, the cost of food, lodging, and gas were not included. Yet, once Jamie and I also purchased our own tickets, it was official that we were going.
I knew that God found a way for us to buy the tickets, he really wanted us present at this event.

Lo and behold, my mom ended up having enough Starpoints for one night's stay at the nearest Sheraton hotel that was four miles away from the Magic Kingdom where the Night of Joy takes place. I think my mom really found comfort in this because she started becoming a little excited for our short vacation to worship Jesus in the happiest place on Earth. It's obvious God took care of all the little details so we could have a night of fun and worship. Thank you God♥

I'm not really sure how much my family members needed the getaway but I sure did. At the pool once we got to the hotel, I started to cheer up as I was soaking up the sun and sitting reading my book. Then, it was nice to finally get to know my mom's cousin Jeanie. Her and her son Jason accompanied us by the pool, went to lunch with us at Olive Garden, and helped us maneuver the Disney parks like no other.

Before I get to the actual Disney experience, let me give you some illustrations:

 Two Polish beauties♥

Once inside the park, we had a lot of perks thanks to the fact that Jeanie goes to Disney a lot and has an annual pass. She also had the app on her phone that tells you which rides have little to no wait so we breezed through the park like professionals.

First we visited the Haunted Mansion ride, then rode the Buzz Lightyear ride,  visited Carousel of Progress  attraction, rode the Winnie the Pooh ride, and visited the Mickey's Philharmonic attraction. Overall, it was fun to basically visit attractions we usually pass by when we visit the Magic Kingdom.

Then, as of 7p.m., only guests with Night of Joy wristbands were allowed in the park and Night of Joy officially began.

Mom and I went to the Building 429 concert while Jayde and Jamie ventured around the park attempting to ride more rides. They rode Space Mountain, the teacups, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Rain poured on our heads like there was no tomorrow. Yet, we stood there and just worshiped the man himself, Jesus♥ 

Surprisingly, the rain did not let up for a good three hours. Not through the whole Building 429 concert, not through Matt Maher 's set, but not until about 9:30 that night. It was funny but when we both met up for a snack break, we ended up finding out we all were watching Matt Maher's set even though we were separated. Haha how ironic is that. Anyway, that's what true faith is right? True faith is standing in the rain, looking at Jesus and knowing that you will not be overtaken despite what stormy circumstances are happening in your life. This too shall pass. All metaphors aside, standing in the physical rain is not a good idea because it's not healthy. It really is true that you do get sick for playing in the rain but I'll get to that later. 

Speaking of rain, please read the collaboration blog my friend Jazmine and I did on her blog about depression.

Back to Night of Joy, once we fueled up on good ole Disney french fries, chlorinated water, and coffee, we were ready for round two of Night of Joy. Mom and I joined Jamie and Jayde for another round of the Buzz Lightyear ride, and then got in line for Mandisa's concert. Mandisa was an American Idol finalist on the fifth season of the show and she didn't win but she obviously won in terms of destiny because now she uses music and song to bring hope to millions around the world, as long as spreading the good news of the gospel. Mandisa's set was non stop Jesus Freaking. The entirety of her set was spent dancing and jumping around. Sidenote: all the Night of Joy concerts are standing room only if that wasn't obvious. It was awesome but during her performance of Good Morning, she suprised the whole crowd with a guest performance by American Idol Season 8 finalist Danny Gokey. who sang his new single, Hope in Front of Me.

The night before I went to night of Joy I literally wrote in my journal: I need a definite sign that things are going to be better than all right... they will be amazing again! I mean, I'm not a robot and I'm sure as heck not a normal twenty-three year old but despite all the battle scars I have and the struggles I've yet to encounter, I always keep my faith turned up high. Yet, because I'm human and am fully capable of reaching my limit, I did find myself feeling a bit hopeless before Night of Joy. I had forgotten that the joy of the Lord was meant to be my strength and that I am a prisoner of hope. (See Nehemiah 8:10 and Zechariah 9:12)♥

During Mandisa's set, she spoke about the fact that lately she'd been tweeting some encouraging things and felt that there was someone here tonight who needed encouragement. She went on to say, "I don't know what you are going through right now, whether good or bad, but I do know that you feel like you are hopeless. I'm here to tell you tonight that it's going to get better." ♥

I couldn't stop crying as she said that and I looked over and my mom was also crying. Talk about being in God's presence. It was just another powerful moment that I am so grateful God got me right where I was meant to be just so that he could knock me off my feet with that love letter of a message. Nothing truly is impossible with God.

After Mandisa, we lined up for the For King & Country concert which took place at 12:10 a.m. By that time, our feet were in so much pain but we lived through it and they took the stage and opened with Fix Your Eyes. It was amazing. I was awed by how good they were in concert. They even came out into the audience and shook people's hands and everything. It was amazing. I really liked their song they wrote for their friend during his battle with depression. It encouraged me greatly. 

Saturday night, Mom and I watched the Night of Joy online since it was live streaming for the first time ever since the whole weekend was completely sold out. Saturday night's lineup was amazing with Mercy Me, Colton Dixon, Casting Crowns, and Britt Nicole in concert.

Overall, Night of Joy was an amazing experience and since then, life has been a bit less chaotic in it's own right despite the fact that I still have financial struggles with paying for school and no employment or that I ended up with a cold throughout most of this week. Yet, I still haven't heard from financial aid regarding the status of my two scholarships but somehow $138 was given to me toward my current Saint Leo bill so my monthly payment is down to $88. God is so good. Now I just have to come up with the money to buy the other textbook I need this semester but I don't have a care about it because I know God will provide.♥

My confession continues to be I believe God and will see his glory.

Until next time, remember: It's not over yet. And as far as having faith goes, religion will not save you. Not Catholicism, not Buddhism, not Islam. Only Jesus saves. Only Jesus died so you could live.♥

When you’re all out of heart and out of hope 
And you don’t really know which way to go 
Come on, come on, run to Jesus 
If you’re lost and you don’t know where to start 
It don’t really matter where you are 
Come on, come on, come on, yeah, run to Jesus, run to Jesus - Francesca Battistelli, Run To Jesus♥

Love Times Infinity, 
God Bless!
~Just Keep Swimming~

Enjoy these pictures of Katrina and Hazel showing their Disney side haha.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nothing is Impossible with God (Matthew 19:26)

Happiness is a form of courage... Today, I am writing because it seems that once again, I have to fight for my right to a college education.

Because of the fact that I am only taking 6 credits (which I was forced to because I was only given dean approval for two online classes, because to take four at the same time would mean the school would only get $250) my financial aid is being cut in half so I will only be getting $2542 when my classes for the semester cost me $3120. I still owe them $452 for my current payment plan.

This all feels like an incredible pressure because I will not get my need-based grants and scholarships based solely on someone else's decision. I am not able to live on campus taking less than 12 credits anyway so this is the reason I don't still live on campus (along with the fact of refusing to take on-campus marketing classes because I don't do well in them). Living on campus though was the only reason I had a job because I had work-study and worked at the library. I have not found a job all summer in my area because according to different sources, I am either too qualified for minimum wage work or not qualified enough.

Despite this whole struggle, I want everyone to know that nothing is impossible. This whole things just proves that God is the only source. I've watched God pay college tuition bills totally almost $10,000 altogether so I know that this $1230 I need to be debt free will be chump change for him. After all, he is the King of Kings. Where God gives vision, he always provides provision.

The only thing that hurts is the plans I had for the refund money I was thinking I would get. One plan was to get another laptop with video editing software on it and a camera so I could shoot a really awesome video for the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveway. The girl in the lead right now has over 1000 votes so I really have some tough competition.

Ultimately, I just want everyone to know that I still believe nothing is impossible with God. I still believe God and I know I will see his glory.

This morning, I woke up and wrote a poem about all the difficulties that presented themselves before me yesterday. I called it R.I.P.

To my friendship with you
covered in black and blues 
from all the abuse

it's a shame 
you lost a friend
so tried and true.

To my fears and doubts
I will tie them up; lock them up
They will not get out

To poverty, sickness, addiction, and lack
won the smack
down for each of these things
when he died on a tree.

He went to hell and suffered 
unimaginable pain
just so I could have life more abundantly
meant to be lived
more courageously,
fearless and brave.

Jesus approached me last night
and said,
Child, where is your faith?

He holds the keys 
to death and the grave
and says,
Friend, you can do all things through me.

Now, I must believe in God and the manifestation of his glory.

Today, I was reading my Joyce Meyer magazine and there was an article by one of her long-time employees about doing it afraid and it spoke to me in a new way: Don't ever let fear keep you from your destiny. It may not be easy, but God will be right there to meet you along the way.

So all I ask of anyone reading this is three things:

Don't lose hope (for me or anyone else) ever.

Keep voting for the Dr. Pepper scholarship for me (see above link)

Donate here if you would like to help me in any way while I continue to look for a job and apply for scholarships.

Until next time, remember: Jail didn't make me find God; he's always been there. They can lock me up but my spirit and my love can never be confined to prison walls.-Lil Wayne♥

Love Times Infinity,
God Bless!
~Just Keep Swimming~