Monday, June 30, 2014

currently vol. 7

It's been a while since I've linked up for a currently post. I'm feeling pretty defeated about blogging these days, but I'm not going to give up quite yet. So, I'm linking up with Jenna at A Mama Collective and Cassie at Kent Heartstrings - both beautiful ladies whom I only know through mutual friends and family members but am continuing to get to know through blogging, which is so special!

So I am currently....

Thinking about:

My wedding.

How crazy is THAT?!

But really, we've been engaged for almost a month and have gone back and forth about a date until today. Finally. I was so tired of trying to please everyone, of seeing my fiance's utter exhaustion at trying to make everyone happy, so I just called him and picked a date and we just decided and that was it. And it was like a 50-pound weight was lifted off of us.

I'm excited to be a bride, and I am so, so excited to be a wife, and hopefully a mother soon after that. 

I'm going wedding dress shopping tomorrow with my mom, sisters and brother. Yes - my little brother is coming, too! He is the youngest after 3 girls and knows more about "fashion" and what looks good than most women I know, and he's just one of my favorite people in the universe. So we're all excited and I just can't believe I'm going to be putting on wedding dresses. What a crazy adventure, this life. I am still processing the fact that what I have been waiting for since I was a little girl - getting married! - is actually happening. Wow.


I finished I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings which was lovely, and so timely since I started reading it literally days before Maya Angelou died. What a beautiful soul she was.

Right now I'm working on The Book Thief because I saw the movie and LOVED it. Seriously loved it. So I just wanted to get a sense of the book itself, because I prefer reading to watching movies anyway.


At the moment I'm sitting with my parents who are watching the Dodger game - so that's my literal "currently." Otherwise, I've been watching old episodes of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix even though I've already watched every single one. I think I'm having withdrawals because it's not on TV right now...

Listening to:

The baseball game on TV -- the ever-present sound of my parents' house. There is a game on our TV probably at least 60% of the time. But my most recent music discovery? Ben Rector. Seriously. I am in love.

I swear this song was written just for me.

Thankful for:

Am I allowed to say everything? 
I'm thankful for the sweet baby I get to nanny over the summer, because he smiles and coos at me all day even when I'm exhausted and stressed out.
I'm thankful for his amazing mother who is a wonderful woman to work for and spend time with.
I'm thankful for my fiance, and his undying selflessness and strength.
I'm thankful for my brother, who is my best friend and makes me laugh and lets me cry on his shoulder late at night when i just feel weepy.
I'm thankful for my Godspell cast who make me laugh until I cry literally every time I am with them. I will have to make another post on that soon - but man, am I glad I agreed to do this show. I'm so grateful to be getting to know such incredible people who bring me such immense joy.

And I'm just thankful this guy is going to be my husband in 8 1/2 months. So beyond thankful.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

my love story

When I was 19 years old, I stopped dating. I had had plenty of boyfriends (I know, 19 is young to have had a lot of boyfriends) - and I had experienced plenty of heartache. So I promised myself my next boyfriend would be my husband. 

When I was 24 years old, my sister made me join She came to me and asked if I would make a profile so we could just see who was on the website. We laughed and laughed as we filled out questions from "Do you believe in papal infallibility?" to "What is your favorite title of Mary?" and "Who is your favorite saint?" We basically filled out my profile as a joke, not really writing anything in my "About Me" or uploading any pictures. We honestly just used my profile to see what kind of guys were online. By the end of the night, after laughing until we cried, my sister turned to me and said, "I really think you should sign up. I have a good feeling about this." I fought her on it, but finally agreed - almost as a joke. For a week, I would text or call her every day to regale her with hilariously awkward stories of very odd attempts at communication from random guys all over the country. My biggest qualm with the way they were trying to pursue me was that most of them would skip emailing me first and jump straight into "chatting" with me (a la facebook chat). It would overwhelm me to get a chat request from a guy I had never seen, never had the chance to see if I was interested in them at all, and would just jump straight into an online conversation. 

A week into it, I got a very sweet email from a man named Michael. He was a red-head from Denver, and although I stated explicitly on my profile that I was not interested in long distance, he acknowledged this in his first email and said he was interested in getting to know me anyway. I chatted with him that night, became facebook friends with him right away, and three weeks later he was on a plane to California to take me on our first date.

On our first date, I was interested in him, but didn't know if there was enough of a connection to truly start pursuing a long distance relationship. I found myself praying the majority of the day: "God, if you want me to continue getting to know this man, please show me something - please get my attention." We had spent all day together - going to Balboa Island, praying at a cute little chapel together, going ice skating and getting dinner, and I still was unsure if this was worth the incredible difficulty of long distance. 

After dinner, we went back to my car, and it was dead. He loves this story, so he could take hours telling every single detail. But suffice it to say, we had to pull an all-nighter at Denny's, waiting for AAA to come and replace my car battery. This man took such good care of everything while we were both exhausted and frustrated. He was so patient and kind through the whole thing, and allowed me to sleep in my backseat while he took care of the logistics with AAA. I was in awe of his selflessness and ability to take such good care of me, even when I wasn't his girlfriend or even a good friend for that matter. It was only a first date. 

(At a certain point at Denny's, I told him I couldn't stay in cute date clothes anymore so I put on some sweat pants and slippers I happened to have in my car. I made him take this selfie for posterity - even if there was only the tiniest chance that he would be my future husband - I would want a photo!)

Well, God answered my prayer loud and clear. I saw something in Michael I had never seen before so clearly: a man of God who is incredibly patient, kind, selfless, thoughtful, and someone who is stable and strong. It was so apparent to me that these were all the qualities I needed and was looking for - so I allowed him to pursue me. 

On December 31, 2011, I finally had my first boyfriend in five years. Nothing like I expected, nothing I thought I wanted - but everything I needed and that God desired for me. 

And I started falling in love with this amazing, holy, selfless, thoughtful, generous, kind, good man. He makes me laugh, he dances with me, he sings to me, he kisses me on the forehead, he gives when he has nothing left for himself. He takes care of everyone around him with no thought for himself. He is strong and stable when everyone around him needs him to be. He is the best man I have ever known.

I've moved to Denver twice in our relationship. Once for the summer of 2012 and then again in January 2013, which was supposed to be permanent.

(We have taken so many road trip selfies it would be overkill to post them all.)

The first time I lived in Denver, I had the most amazing time. I had a full-time job working at a children's theatre company, I was living with my best friend from high school, and Michael and I were just having the best time living in the same city. So I decided to teach for one more semester in California, and then quit my beloved job and move to Denver permanently.

But then I got sick. My hormonal disorders and depression hit us both like a ton of bricks. In California, I had set myself up with a job I loved, near my family, with a schedule that ensured I got enough sleep and had enough time to relax. My issues with mental health were held at bay for years and didn't show themselves until all of those band-aids were ripped away and all I had was Michael. A new city, no roommate, no family, no close friends, new job, and not enough money to live comfortably. I think anyone would have some sort of freak out. But I lost it. He finally made the selfless decision to move me home as quickly as possible, knowing it would be the best place for me to recover and stay healthy. He also knew this meant he would have to leave his life in Denver and move to California one day as well. 

This man has taken care of me every step of the way in this relationship and in my struggles with my health. He was with me my darkest night, when he found me on the ground and lifted me up into bed and soothed me to sleep. He made sure to fly out and hold my hand as I went in for surgery and prayed over me up until the last moment. He is the one who taught me how to fight for my life

The day he asked me to be his girlfriend, I shared with him that I have PCOS and may never be able to have children. He looked at me and said, "That doesn't change anything." Later in our relationship, I shared with him that my last relationship fell apart when my boyfriend at the time found me sobbing uncontrollably on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night. My last boyfriend got so scared that everything changed after that, until we eventually broke up. I told him my fear of this being my story for the rest of my life: no one would be able to put up with me. No one would be able to handle my issues. No one would want to carry this burden. He said, "If I ever find you on the bathroom floor, there'd better be enough room on that floor for me." He is the one who has pushed me to be my best self. To find the right medications. To go to as many doctors as I need to until I find the right ones. He is the one who has gone to countless therapy sessions with me to support me and work through our own struggles. He is the one who has held me during panic attacks, wiped my tears away, helped me breathe during anxiety attacks and made me smile when I'm feeling hopelessly depressed. He is the one who prays with me when I am so mad at God that I can barely breathe. He is the one who makes me better. In every way possible.

He is the one.

This amazing man has somehow found me worthy of being his wife, and asked me to marry him on Pentecost Sunday. He completely surprised me (as you can tell by my lack of nice clothes, make-up, or having washed or styled my hair!), which is exactly what I wanted. On Saturday, we went to Balboa Island - our first date spot - and had an incredibly romantic date. I kept waiting for him to propose, but he never did. I was at peace with whenever he chose to ask - so I let it go. The next morning after Pentecost Mass, we went to the alcove with the Blessed Mother - Our Lady Queen of Angels, placed our hands upon her feet, and prayed a Hail Mary together. I got up to leave, and turned to see Michael on one knee. He asked me if I would marry him, to which I said yes-yes-yes-yes-yes-yes! These photos were taken after the proposal, a few women in the church asked us to re-enact the moment, but my reaction was still completely genuine - I was in absolute shock and couldn't stop shaking from surprise and excitement. After we were done, we asked the priest to bless us and bless my ring - so we were prayed over and blessed right away as we begin our preparation for marriage. It was beautiful and perfect, reverent and prayerful, on the Church's birthday, no less. The birth of Christ's bride.

The engagement story and my stunningly beautiful ring (which he had my little sister help design) and proposal are incredibly exciting, but what matters is that we are getting married. We are preparing to participate in such a beautiful sacrament, and I am so humbled by God's grace through all of this. We are currently praying a novena together for trust and for our ability to keep our eyes focused on Christ. I can't wait to plan my wedding, but more than anything - I can't wait to experience being married to the best man I have ever known.

Monday, May 19, 2014

currently vol. 6

Thinking about:

Like I've mentioned a few times lately, I've been thinking about that big question -- what do I want to do with my life? Maybe that question never actually gets answered. But seeing as the school year is wrapping up, and I am leaving my music teacher job (not the high school - only the grade school), it has been time to really think about what the next step is. So I've been trying to find summer work, audition for summer shows, and looking into all my options for the fall. And I've chosen to start applying to return to school and get my teaching credential. This might be confusing to some people, seeing as I've been a teacher for the last five years. However, I am not credentialed - I have been working small part-time teaching jobs at private schools and after school programs this entire time. I was never convinced that I truly wanted to be a teacher - my heart was torn between teaching and performing. Through a lot of discernment, prayer, and life experience, I have decided that my heart is truly in teaching. I could write about it in great depth, but I'll leave it at that. I'm excited for what the future holds.


I'm still working on my re-reading classics from high school project. Currently reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I just started so no opinions to report yet!


I woke up way earlier than I needed to today, so I turned on the TV and have just been lying in bed watching 13 Going On 30. Sometimes early morning chick flicks are a fabulous way to start your day.

Listening to:

At this very moment, the TV. Music-wise? I haven't had any new revelations lately. I feel like as a musician this should be the most exciting part of my currently. Whoops.

Thankful for:

A fabulous weekend with my beautiful family. I love them. We did a ridiculous photo-shoot yesterday of my sister and brother. They are graduating from college and high school this coming weekend, so we took some photos for their announcements and party invitations. However, my family doesn't ever do things the way most people do... We agreed not to post photos all over social media yet, we want the announcement to be a surprise. Here is your one sneak peek...


This is a new part of currently! Goals for the week. This is hard for me, because I'm in such a transitional period that I don't have small goals, I have big goals. I guess I can say what I am looking forward to for now!

1. My best friend's baby shower in a couple of hours. She lives in New York and is in town with her family - I cannot WAIT to see her and celebrate her pregnancy!

2. Michael comes into town on Thursday - time, go quickly!

3. Family graduation weekend - I love family celebrations, especially with my crazy family. We have so much fun. I can't wait to celebrate my sister and brother, and start celebrating the beginning of SUMMER!

Linking up with the ladies at A Mama Collective and Home Away From Home
Feel free to join in and link up!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

PMDD, A Partner's Perspective: A Response

I'm aware that I haven't posted anything on PMDD or PCOS for a while - which is the entire point of my blog. I want to re-focus a little bit and write about what I made this website for. I didn't have to look far for something to write about. I follow a lovely and informative blog by a woman named Liana - she writes at Living on a Prayer with PMDD. She posts a lot of articles and helpful information on PMDD. Most recently, she posted an article written by a man married to a woman with PMDD. You can find the article, "PMDD: A Partner's Perspective" here. To give you the gist of it, a man writes his own personal experience of being married to a woman with PMDD. (For a while, I have wanted Michael to do the same thing - and now I have even more reason to ask him to do so!)

This husband who wrote the article writes of torturous episodes every month where his wife becomes another person. Episodes of rage, brutal attacks on his character and their relationship, suicidal thoughts and threats, feeling hated and rejected every month. My heart breaks for this man and his wife. I know the pain of PMDD all too well. And Michael and I have absolutely had months like this, where for the 2 weeks before I get my period, I become another person. I am angry about everything, depressed about everything, and threaten to take my own life. Somehow Michael gets the brunt of it every time, even though he is not my husband. He is my safe person - and so I take it all out on him. But perhaps I have been lucky in that this is not every single month for us.

As I said, my heart breaks for this man, and I'm so sorry for his own painful experiences with PMDD. I'm also grateful for his vulnerability in sharing his experiences.

However, this article just made me feel sad because it just seemed so hopeless and helpless. He says near the end of the article:

"So what have I learned?
Probably the most important thing is to put up and shut up during the PMDD zone." 

And finally, he ends with:

"Do I feel hated and rejected each month? Yes, I do. Do I wish I wasn't? Absolutely.
Do I wish my partner didn't suffer PMDD? Yes. But she does."

Now this is what really breaks my heart. The truth is, the best thing that ever happened to me was Michael coming into my life and calling me out on the way I treated him when I was PMDDing. I knew I didn't have control over it, but during my "PMDD hangover" (realizing how awful you were when you were PMDDing) I was always so contrite, heart-broken, even sorrowful over the way I treated the man I love. So we started looking for answers. Michael pushed and pushed and made me call doctors and make appointments and do everything in my power to get this under control. He was not satisfied with putting up and shutting up and simply wishing that I didn't have PMDD.

I have met with so many doctors, so many OB/GYNs, tried many different medications, even had surgery to remove polyps they found in my uterus that were greatly affecting my cycle. And let me tell you, my life and PMDD have changed. Has my PMDD gone away? Absolutely not. I still struggle for those 2 weeks before my period.

HOWEVER, (yes, this is a big however)

My PMDD is so close to PMS now that I can barely tell the difference. And this is because of a few things.

  • I take 37.5 mg of Effexor every single day, even when I am not PMDDing. This is also because I struggle with depression regardless of PMDD, but I know Effexor helps me during this time period.
  • I take Vitamins B & D every single day. These help IMMENSELY with my energy and feeling like I have a clear mind to realize that I am PMDDing.
  • I try to regulate my diet as much as possible - low blood sugar is a recipe for disaster with me.
  • I sleep. As much as possible. Take naps. Sleep for 10 hours overnight. Exhaustion is the worst when you are PMDDing, and the more you sleep, the less you are awake to PMDD. When I'm having an episode and nothing can calm me down, I go right to bed now. No more conversation, no more fighting, no more tears. Just sleep.
  • I went to OB/GYNs and fought for myself. It wasn't until my 3rd OB/GYN that they discovered the multiple masses in my uterus and got me into surgery right away. There could be other things going on besides PMDD that if undiagnosed or undiscovered could be causing much of the problem, or could potentially be dangerous in other ways.
  • I was in therapy every. single. week. for almost a year. I don't feel the need to go anymore, but he is only a phone call away. Having someone else to cry to helped me so immensely. And it helped to be super-aware of my own behaviors, tendencies, and habits during my PMDD time. 
  • I of course track my period and receive an email 2 weeks prior so I know to be ready to PMDD. The therapy and self-awareness helped me the most during these times, and Michael and I would work hard on stopping difficult conversations at the beginning instead of after the damage had been done. Michael has had to get tougher on me: when I start to beat him up during a PMDD episode, he will tell me very sternly to stop and that I need to go to bed. He's gotten so much better at this, because of course I don't do it happily. But I listen. I try.

I just got my period again for the first time after a few months of trying birth control and stopping at the end of March. More on that later. But the glory of it all was that I didn't PMDD. I PMSed, I cried, I struggled with a little bit of anxiety. But I did not rage, I did not think about suicide, I didn't get depressed, I didn't have any manic episodes. I just got a little sad once in a while. It is beautiful how far I have come. Thank GOD. 

There is hope. And there is help. That is why the hopelessness and helplessness of that article truly broke my heart. 

Fight for yourself. Fight for the right doctor, the right medication, the right dosage, the right therapist. 

Fight for your life.

It is worth it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

currently vol. 5

Thinking about: 

Wow, it's been way too long since I last posted. April is notoriously crazy in my life - it's the month of shows, shows, shows. And this particular April was worse than ever. As I've said before, I work at a high school, and this year... we had some big drama at school. And I don't mean drama like break-ups, or girls fighting. I'm talking cops, charges being pressed, meetings with the administration. It was very, very difficult for me. I obviously can't get into details, nor do I want to, but let's just say I just started sleeping again after having horrible stress-induced insomnia for over a month. I lost many hours of sleep, cried many tears, intercepted many phone calls, tried to respond appropriately to all parents and students and co-workers and bosses.... The list goes on and on and on. Michael flew into town for the performances of my show, just in time to hold me through the tears. I actually held myself together really well until he came into town. Somehow having "my person" there with me broke down the walls of strength I had somehow managed to build through it all. It was really lovely to have someone safe to weep to and to allow to hold my heart while it broke through all of this. I truly love these kids with every ounce of my heart. To watch them hurting, struggling, making life choices that will change their lives forever - oh, my heart. My heart breaks. My heart is full of hundreds of teenagers, hundreds of children, my children. I may not be a mother by definition... but I am in my heart. It's very difficult to try to keep everyone safe, to teach everyone to the best of my ability, to love them so fiercely for the small amount of time that they are with me. It's difficult to do these things and to stay joyful and know that they are not mine - they are His, they are their parents', they are their own. All I can do is love them and teach them the best way I know how. I just pray that God gives me the grace to do these things well when they are in my care.

All that being said, it is now the lovely month of May. One of my favorites. Mary's month. The month of summer starting here in California - pool time, beach time, flip flops, windows down... I love it. Shows are closed, both at my high school and the production of CATS I was pit singing for. Thank goodness. Both were beautiful experiences, fabulous shows, and full of amazing people - but I am so thankful for time off. There are many exciting things coming and I am so looking forward to the summer!


Being in the pit allowed me to read a lot in between songs. I loved being able to finish some books finally! I got through Gilead, which I appreciated but did not enjoy personally. It's a quiet and slow book, and I think maybe at another time in my life I would really love it, but right now it didn't resonate with me except for one thing: The narrator spoke of our ability to cry with another in their suffering and rejoice with their triumphs. He pondered why it was so much easier to weep with the suffering than it is to rejoice with the joyful. It was just a really lovely reminder for me to deliberately choose to rejoice with those who are joyful, to celebrate my friends' triumphs. It is so easy to feel envy. I want to choose joy.

I also just re-read To Kill a Mockingbird in about a day and a half. I'm trying to re-read all the classics I read in high school but never appreciated because I was too busy writing essays and answering test questions. I absolutely loved this book the second time around. Such a beautiful novel.


I just got done watching the season finale of Once Upon a Time and I'm so unhappy about it. First of all... the episode was literally a knock-off of Back to the Future. Literally the same exact plot. Down to the falling out of the tree. If you've seen both you'll know what I'm talking about. And the last ten minutes? I was so happy with how it was ending until one stupid plot twist that I am SO angry about. It's only a TV show. I need to get over it. You just end up getting so invested in these people's stories, even if they are fictitious. Woof. Need to keep reminding myself it's only make-believe.

Listening to:

My brother talk to the dog and make a sandwich in the next room. No need for music right now, when I'm home with my family. It's perfect just the way it is.

Thankful for:

Oh, so much. So, so much.

I am thankful that throughout my difficult April, I somehow by the grace of God kept my head on straight. I didn't have a single manic episode. I didn't even have any panic attacks, anxiety attacks, bouts of depression. I didn't even feel hopeless or helpless. Now THIS, my friends, is a huge victory. I'm talking HUGE. Taking my normal dosage of medication, but still barely getting any sleep and dealing with heavy stuff.... But choosing joy. Choosing to wake up and be strong. Choosing to keep looking to Christ and walking one step at a time. This is huge. Thank the LORD.

I am thankful for this amazing group of high school kids who change my life just by being themselves. I am thankful that through a lot of difficulty for every single one of us, that we put on an amazing show. My co-worker (the show's director) (who also happens to be one of my best friends) and I turned to each other after the finale on closing night and just said, "Magic." Truly, this show was magic.

Also, so thankful for my experience in CATS. My last experience with this show was less-than-pleasant, and this time, I really had a wonderful time. There were many nights when I was exhausted and just didn't want to go to work, but the people I met were just so lovely. It's a rare find to do a show and meet a bunch of talented, genuine and kind theatre people. It's very special and I treasure it.

Kitty kisses from my favorite cat - Skimbleshanks!

Pit singers and wig stylist - we all sat in the audience and put on green cat eyes to support the cast on closing night! We meant it as a joke but everyone wept because they were feeling so sentimental!

Michael and I climbed on the set for a while and the lighting operator put on the best lights for us for this picture. Like I said... the people at this theatre are so incredibly kind.

Thankful. Now I am thankful for some time off. I am still figuring out my life... more to come on that. But for now, it's 8:45 PM and I'm in my pajamas. From last night. I lounged. ALL. DAY. Glorious.

Linking up with the lovely ladies at A Mama Collective and Home Away From Home. Feel free to join in and link up!

Monday, April 7, 2014

currently vol. 4

How did a week fly by so quickly? I feel like I just wrote my last "currently" post yesterday! And it's already been a week. Wow. Linking up with the lovely ladies of A Mama Collective and Home Away From Home.

I am currently...

Excited about:

Doing another show! A few years ago, I did a production of CATS as a pit singer. This means that while the cast is dancing their faces off on stage, they have one singer per part in the orchestra pit on microphones singing their faces off. (This doesn't mean the cast on stage isn't singing - they just need the extra support to make sure the sound is strong.) So I found out a while ago they were doing CATS at a great theatre company nearby, so I figured out who the music director is, found him on facebook, and then messaged him asking if he needed pit singers. I've been told that that was ballsy - but being bold is definitely not an issue for me! What did I have to lose? And hey - I got the job! So I had my first rehearsal tonight, and it was so fun to remember this music and learn it all over again. I never liked CATS until I worked on it - now I think the music is a blast to sing, and a lot of the same performers who did the show with me last time will be doing it again. So I'm happy about that!


What to do with my life, still. I'll let you know when I figure that out.


I've been slowly working through Gilead, which is apparently a beautiful novel but I'm struggling to invest myself in it. I love reading, but this one hasn't caught my interest yet. We'll see if that changes.


At this moment, Resurrection. It caught my interest when they were advertising it before its premiere, and it's kept my interest enough to watch it weekly. It hasn't changed my life or gotten me totally into it yet.

Listening to:

Dr. Laura podcasts. Um, I love her. I figured out you can get little snippets of her podcasts for free on itunes so I downloaded all of them and have been listening to them on my long car rides.

Thankful for:

This life-changing, grace-filled, beautiful talk with my sister last night. Thank God for sisters. To sit on the sofa and weep and talk and speak truth into each other's hearts is so special and I am just so thankful.

"She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Sometimes she is the reason you wish you were an only child." 

--Barbara Alpert

Nope, never wish I'm an only child. But yes, she is my mirror, my witness, my partner in crime, my defense attorney. All of it. I am blessed. And lucky me - I've got two. So thankful.

And for my sweet readers who don't have sisters - these lovely words are for you:

"They called each other family and that's what they were - sisters. Many people in the world had family of the heart, kin by choice rather than by blood, and hers had come along in her darkest hour and saved her life."

--Christine Feehan, Spirit Bound

Friday, April 4, 2014

reflection friday: a love story

It's been a while since I've done a Reflection Friday - so it's time to do another! As I've mentioned before in this blog, 2010 was an incredibly difficult year for me. I lost my grandmother that year, my family had to put our dog down, I was having an incredibly bad year financially, my roommate and I had an extremely toxic living situation (with one another, not the place itself), I had people hurt me in ways that are not worth putting into words. I was aching deeply, and it was affecting everything that I did. 

I have worked at my current job for almost five years now. I've talked about it before, but to remind you - I'm the music director at a performing arts high school. I could write a book about how this school has changed and impacted my life. I've grown up there - literally. When I graduated from college, I got a phone call from the musical theatre teacher at this school. We'll call it HSPA (High School for Performing Arts). She called me 5 days after I graduated offering me a job and I accepted. I had prayed and prayed that God would just throw something in my lap after graduation, because I was clueless. Graduating with a degree in drama didn't give a whole lot of direction - so I prayed and trusted, and God seriously came through.

So I started working at HSPA, intending only to be there for one musical. Here I am, almost five years later, and my students and co-workers have made me into the woman I am today. There are many, many stories of how this job has impacted my life and I know I will never be able to tell them all. Or even thoroughly express how deeply and intensely these moments and my students and co-workers have changed and enriched my life.

But this one moment is one I will never forget and one that touched me so deeply that it completely changed my life and re-set the course I was on. It reminded me of God's grace, His beauty, His love.

For the last few months of 2010, my students and I were working on a production of Little Women. My students at this point knew me well enough to know something was going on. I was not doing well. I was so depressed and in such a dark place, and no matter what I did, my students knew me and knew I was not okay. Our show opened in December, right before Christmas, and it went beautifully. My students sang their hearts out and made me so proud. And then we had our cast party - our traditional party that we have after the closing night of every show. We go to a cast member's house and eat and chat and celebrate our show and each other. This particular cast party, I had a friend come with me. I walked him out to his car and spent a few minutes saying goodbye.

When I re-entered the house, all of my students - every single one - were standing in the foyer of the house, waiting for me. Right when I walked in, all of them joined in song. Just for me. No one else was in the room. They were waiting for me. And they sang, in overwhelmingly beautiful harmony, the song of my heart - my favorite Christmas song:

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night, Oh night divine

And I remembered then when Brandon had asked me what my favorite Christmas song was. He knew. He knew that my heart needed this. My students singing and praising God with their voices just for me. 

As they sang, I melted to the floor. I sat down and wept and looked at my students, giving every ounce of the love in their hearts in the best way they knew how. Through song. My heart was so healed that night.

I had convinced myself - or the enemy had convinced me - that I was unworthy of love. That no one loved me. I was alone. I was worthless.

But looking in these children's eyes, there was no. possible. way for me to deny that they love me. That I am worthwhile. That I am not alone. I am so loved, whether I feel like I deserve it or not. How can you deny the love of children? It is so pure, so innocent, so full. (And yes, teenagers are still children. It is the dichotomy and mystery and beauty of teenagers and what I love the most - they are just as much children as they are adult. It's an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.) 

The love of children is life-changing, life-giving, grace-giving-to-the-point-of-drowning-in-it, pure, whole, beautiful. Just beautiful.

And my life was changed. I have never been so sure of how loved I am than in that moment. And that was the moment I knew everything was going to be okay. That if they love me, God must love me, too. 

December 12, 2010 -- my facebook status from that day

There is nothing in this world that could have healed my aching heart like all my students singing "O Holy Night" just for me. "To learn and never be filled, is wisdom; to teach and never be weary, is love." Thank you for picking my heart up every time the weariness starts to take over.

To teach and never be weary, is love. Yes. But to teach and be weary and never give into weariness, that is even bigger love. And to see past your own weariness and love someone else through theirs? That is the biggest love of all. To be shown that kind of love will change your life forever. My heart is forever grateful to know that kind of love. The love of children looking past their own needs, their own wants, their own troubles. Oh that I can learn to love people like that.

"The soul is healed by being with children."

--Fyodor Dostoyevsky