Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Born and Bred Beloved

Once again it is the time of year for the holidays.  I have not really ever been a fan of the holidays, too many people crowding the supermarkets, too much fuss over things of little importance, stress over how much or little food we have to cook, so many things that just seem to frustrate me.  The one thing about the holidays that makes it all worth it to me is family.  My family is far from perfect but there has never been a shortage of love in our home.  Growing up I was not always the easiest kid to live with. I was strong willed and stubborn, restless and firey, at times bitter and hard hearted.  I got into a lot of stuff that wasn’t good for me when I was back in high school; did things that, as I look back, I regret.  I know I hurt my family with some of the things I did and the paths I chose to travel down.  I stand here now, about to graduate from college.  I have weathered some rough storms in my college career, especially within the past year.  There have been many difficult choices I have had to make.  Many people look at me and call me things and judge the decisions I made as wrong… but my family… they are still here, standing by me.   It amazes me because really I think they have the least reason to trust me because I know I have hurt them the most in my life.  They have every right to look at me the way the rest of the world does, to assume the worst of me, but they don’t.  They continue to stand by me.  They love me with all they have and all that they are.  They have truly shown me what grace really is and what the word family really means.  For so long I convinced myself that I was alone and that the world was on my shoulders, but they never left me.  They have always been here helping me survive.  Sometimes behind me, pushing me to be better.  Sometimes, in front of me pulling to when I had no strength to get though on my own.  Most of the time though, they have walked beside me, rejoicing in my victories, laughing with me in my stumbles, encouraging me in my failures, and continually supporting me in all my endeavors.  Who I am, the person that I have become, despite my past and pain, is because of these people.  It is because of my family.  Dad has always been the one person that I know will hold me together in my darkest moments.  He has taught me everything I know about who God is and how much He loves me.  He taught me to be secure in who I am and to live every moment with passion and purpose.  Mom consistently challenges me to push myself to be better and work harder in all that I do.  She is so strong and holds our family together better than any one of us ever could.  She taught me how to be a woman, and not just about cooking or being a mom but I mean how to be strong and love deeply and sacrifice for those who mean the most to you.  She taught me what real loyalty is and to never ever back down from what’s right just to please the people around you.  My little brother, oh man, he’s inside and out better than I am.  Ever since we were little he has made me want to smile more and love stronger.  He taught me the importance of laughter and fun and to never lose that little kid in me.  He also taught me that you are never too young to make a difference in peoples lives.  I was always the fighter and he was always the kind soul, without him I wouldn’t know how to be compassionate.  They are my foundation that the person I have become is built on.  I love you all so very much and this Thanksgiving I have never been more proud and thankful to be a Hays.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

God is a Football Coach

As many of you know by following my previous writings and rants, I am an athletic trainer.  This means I spend 99.9999% of my life with football.  My best friend is a football coach and so I have recently been spending alot of time around football coaches.  He lives about 7 hrs away in the Panhandle of Oklahoma and a couple weeks ago I drove up there to visit him and interview with the Head Athletic Trainer there.  Pretty much my whole weekend was spent around football coaches and mainly him and the secondary coach that works directly under him.  This guy is pretty cool and definitely stole a piece of my heart when he asked me if I would be his big sister because he's always wanted one.  I feel for him, I think probably because he reminds me alot of myself.  Passionate, fiery, smart alec, scared of commitment, and a definitely hater of religion.  I think alot of that hate has come from two faced people too focused on religion to show him Christ and now he's turned off of Christianity completely.  Ever since that weekend I've been trying to think of a way to tell him who God really is without him being turned off by my sounding to religiousy (yeah I totally just made that word up!).  This is what I decided... God is a football coach.  He is constantly pushing us to be better and get stronger.  Yes, he gets onto us when we mess up but that's only because he knows how great we can be! Yes, that means sometimes he has us doing spiritual up downs in the mud until we get it though our head that we're not the ones in charge.  But, He also offers us grace and forgiveness and always gives us another opportunity to get back in the game and try again. He wants to have a relationship with every one of us and for us to know that he is right there to help us when we don't understand things or we get into trouble.  He holds the game plan in his hands and knows exactly what we need to do to win the game. I think it's an interesting concept... a little out of the box, I know, but God doesn't fit in a box anyway!  So next time you watch the Cowboys playing on a Sunday afternoon or your high school football team under the lights on Friday night, just remember you have a much bigger Coach and he can't wait to put you in the game.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Priority: People.

Well, today was the first day of school... the first day of my last semester of college... Man, It seems to have gone by so fast! Granted, I am graduating early, still... it seems like it was just yesterday that i was packing up to head off to college for the first time.  I have had alot of hard times at college and alot of really amazing times.  I've spent countless hours fighting conformity and even more hours laughing and doing crazy things with my friends.  There is one thread that wraps around and through the heart of my college career... and that is relationships.  Every great memory and hard fight; every laugh and every tear; every success and every failure; EVERYTHING has had something to do with relationships.  I find it equally as interesting that any kind of "trouble" I have been in has been due to my relationships.  Ones I wasn't "supposed to have" or ones that cause my "loyalties" to be in the wrong place or ones that have no depth.  I'm such a relational person at my core.  I can't do like the rest of the world and focus on the task and forget the people.  I just don't work that way! I'm sure as I go into the "real world"... which is in quotations because college life is just as hard trust me... anyways as I go out into the world I'm sure my relational heart probably will get me in more trouble.  I gotta say though... It's something I delight in being punished for!  If  the rest of the world wants to tell me I'm wrong for loving who I love or giving all of me into someone or even putting people before the job itself... then so be it! It is a passion that I will never forsake and never change! So bring on the punishment! I refuse to change.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fighting the Infection

I have spent most of my life trying to convince other people I was tough.  As I grew up it became increasingly harder for me to express how I was feeling because I was so worried that how I was feeling could be perceived as weak or soft.  So I turned everything I was feeling within myself and tried to handle all my emotions and hurts on my own.  This tore me up from the inside out.  It ate at me and cause my heart decay into this nasty blob of something no one wanted to be near.  It led me down rough roads of alcohol and violence and bad "friends".  I found myself in this situation of having pushed everyone who wanted a relationship with me away and turned off  anyone else of every wanting to start one with me.  In the midst of spiraling down this dark road of self-destruction I was still very good at keeping up the appearance of having it all together.  That might have been my biggest weakness and downfall of all.  I was so good at pretending to be OK that I even convinced myself that wasn't anything wrong with me.  In the midst of all my junk and my plastic shell one relationship reached in and saved me from it all.  For some reason this man wanted that nasty blob of a heart; it baffled me.  Not only did he want it... he wanted to heal it!  As the relationship progressed I found myself buying more and more into this idea of being safe to share how I was feeling with someone else and that it's OK to be soft.  I could feel that decaying heart start to fight off the infection and come back to life with a stronger and more driven sense of love for those around me.  So much has happened since that relationship has started.  So much hurt and struggle and fear has come but none of it hit my heart.  So, here I am, going back to school tomorrow.  To a place so infested with infected people that they have lost the ability to see what love really is.  Yes, I am afraid of how well I will survive and stay focused on the blessings that fill my life.  But... I'm not alone.  Knowing that, is enough for me.  Let the rain fall... I have a pretty awesome umbrella. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Purely Defiant

Both of my parents are teachers. I know, right? Ewww yuck no fun! Even worse… my mom is an English teacher!! AH!  I know, It was a very traumatic childhood let me tell you!  But despite them both working for the dark side I still love them and actually kind of liked having them at the same school I was at (of course this appreciation is only in hindsight).  Recently my mom lost her job.  Not only that, but the way she was let go was completely vicious and cruel.  Oh and did I mention?  She had to finish out two whole weeks of the school year knowing she was fired!  So of course you know me… my first reaction is hey that’s not right! I wanna fix it!  I saw the hurt in her eyes, heard it in her voice, even read it in her texts.  Everything in me just wanted to make it all better!  She reacted very differently though.  I have been very inspired with how she has handled all of this.  It would be so easy for her to lash out in anger, to turn the students against the administration, to raise hell and burn bridges, she could even write a horrible article in the paper about how awful and unfair this has all been… but she didn’t.  I mean, If it were me, I’d go out guns blazing!  Fighting til the end like I always do! Mom took a different approach though.  I am so amazed by her strength though it all.  Strength not in the sense that she didn’t hurt but that she fought through all her pain to do what was right.  She stood in the midst of those who hurt her and refused to back down.  She was defiant... defiant against letting the pain and anger win, letting them win.  She walked out of those doors her last day with her head held high despite the deep pain in her heart.  She has taught me what true strength really is.  It’s not about being invincible or shutting the world out.  It’s about crying in our husbands arms at night and still getting up the next morning and walking into the fire.  It’s not about being impenetrable by your enemies.  It’s about being vulnerable and exposed and still keeping your chin up.  It’s not about faking like what they did was right.  It’s about having enough character to trust that God will take care of the revenge in the end.  I learned a lot from her strength and I am inspired to live life in such a way that in the midst of the huge car wrecks of life… I put out my cones of grace and allow a place of healing.  I am so very proud to be able to say that my mom is a strong woman of character and God has such amazing things in store for her!  So follow her example, be pure in your defiance and don’t let hurt steal your joy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another Day Closer

I have probably the most amazing best friend on the planet.  Recently I've been thinking alot about him and what he means to me because I'm about to go back to school after a rough summer and am not looking forward to it.  When we met I was a mess.  But... I was very good at pretending to have it all together!  It's funny to me because he was a football coach where i went to school and we had known each other for almost 2 years before we really became friends!  My second season as a trainer at HPU I was assigned to girls basketball and we had to take a long trip to Mississippi (about a 10 hr drive from Brownwood).  Well, the head basketball coach offered to pay him to help drive the bus there.  We were already cool with each other, not close or anything, but we smarted off to each other and helped each other out from time to time so I was kinda excited that he got asked to drive us!  Well as the trip went on we talked and laughed and after about 123455 times of me asking for his number he gave it to me and we started texting back and forth.  We got back from the trip and both headed off in opposite directions for Christmas break with our families.  January 6th was our first basketball game after Christmas break and i was there, u know, saving the world same old same old.  The girls game finished and i had to stay because my roommate was filming the guy's game and she was my ride.  So i sat up in the very top of the bleachers and started texting him (mainly cause i was bored and had nothing else to do but SHHHH don't tell him that).  We started into a long conversation and I don't even remember how we got on the subject but he started saying that he wanted to leave HPU.  I asked him why and he rattled off this whole list of excuses why it would be better to just run away from all the problems of Brownwood.  Man, i straight ripped him!  I called him a coward told him all the reasons he was being dumb and how running away can't solved his problems! I don't know what i was thinking!  Well the game ended and he left and I thought for sure he'd never talk to me again... but.... he did!  That was the first start of our friendship, me trying to save him from his bitterness and junk.  That was my goal of our friendship... but.... it turns out that he saved me.  Our friendship has skyrocketed!  We have come to the point where we talk about EVERYTHING!  What used to be random spurts of texts every few days has now turned into talking every spare minute either of us has.  I was such a mess back then and he showed me how to be confident in myself.  That being soft is ok.  That i don't deserve to be beat down and treated badly by the people around me.  He taught me how to love again and how to communicate my feelings to the people around me.  He gave me a safe place to fail... and refuge to run to when I was drained and worn down.  A place where I always knew I could be myself without judgment or pressure to change.  This was a rough summer for both of us.  He went through a divorce and i got caught in it.  My mom lost her job in  a very cruel way and I hurt for her.  I ended up back home although I didn't really want to.  My grandpa has been sick.  He moved to Oklahoma which is 7 hours away from me and his family.  It's been hard to go through all that we have as our relationship has progressed but I can definitely say if we hadn't had each other neither of us would have made it!  Now we enter a new level of our relationship and a new obstacle- distance.  Each and every day it gets harder but we also get stronger.  It's gotten to the point now where when I say "I love you" it really doesn't even cover it.  I have never been so blessed to have such an amazing friendship and relationship as this and I treasure it so dearly! No matter what this semester brings, what trials I face, I know I'm not alone! Clear eyes, love in your heart, can't lose!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

    Well, this summer, due to some unfortunate circumstances, I ended up back home for the summer.  I was pretty bummed about this at first because… well, let’s face it, I’m a big girl now!  Despite my inward frustration at first… I have enjoyed every minute of the time I have spent here these last two months.  I have probably the most amazing little brother in the entire world! I know that may sound crazy coming from the mouth of an older sibling but we have always been very close.  He’s five years younger than I am and, as most high school boys, LOVES video games!  One of our traditions is that every time I come home from college we play the ultimate zombie game together… Left 4 Dead.  When he first told me about it I was all in! I mean, come on, I get to blow zombies heads off with a shotgun! Talk about stress relief! Heck to the yeah!  He always get mad at me because I get killed by the zombies and he has to come save me and bring me back to life.  It’s hard though! Some of the zombies are pretty obvious… the whole running at me trying to kill me thing kinda gives them away! But… there are some other zombies that are just leaning up against the wall looking all normal and they trick me! I guess that’s really what a zombie is; they look alive and humanlike on the outside but inside they’re all gross and rotted away and infected.  It’s sad to say but this same concept is true of so many Christians and churches in our world today.  Outside they look so alive and Christian like and they trick a lot of people into believing they are but inside, they’re rotting away, infected by their own junk.  Another thing about zombies… they’re pretty selfish! All they really care about is turning other people into zombies and killing anyone who’s not a zombie! Talk about the height of selfishness!  So how do we survive the spiritual zombie apocalypse?  Well in the game you get 3 things:  A flashlight, a gun, and a medkit.  So here’s what you do… use your tools!  Use your flashlight and expose the truth- show the world the difference between a zombie and a real human.  Use your gun and fight off those who try to contaminate you- don’t let the zombies infection turn you to their side.  Use your medkit to heal yourself up when you do get attacked- take time to let your teammates protect and fight for you while you get back in fighting shape.  It’s pretty simple really… do more than hide from the infection; fight against it.   Don’t just survive… live.  There you have it! Another life lesson learned from video game! Who says they’re not important?!