The Idea Of Death

The Idea Of Death

A loss of life is one of the deepest sorrows you can feel, and you are not alone.

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This is something I thought I'd share from a couple of weeks ago. Back in October, we lost a sweet soul on this Earth. This loss triggered so many emotions inside of me and brought me back to all the moments I'd felt this way before. Reminding me of experiences that made me truly question the idea of death and the "why"'s of it all. The frustration and confusion of it. The sting of it. The sadness. The process of losing someone, and the painful reality that follows. So after some deep thought and heartache, I felt prompted to write about it.

Papa, Eme, Lutz, and Mr. M, this one's for you.

Recently over the weekend, a young freshman girl in my sorority was killed in a fatal car crash that claimed her life. In the late hours of Saturday night, a family's entire world was ripped to pieces. The lives of those she loved completely altered forever. Upon receiving this news in our chapter's Sunday email the next morning, I felt a cold shock catch my body as I re-read the email over and over again.

It just did not seem real. It couldn't be. It felt so close.

A young girl in our chapter had died. A sister that was a part of the same sorority I hold so near and dear to my own heart was gone. A freshman girl starting her brand new confusing, yet exciting college journey miles away from the comfort of her home for the first time ever. The same exact spot I was in less than two years ago. That could have been me, I remember thinking. That could have been any of us. But I did not think that selfishly. I thought that in the sense that we all believe death is avoidable to us personally.

We do. We all believe it could never happen to us. There's just no way, right? That person will never be us.

We go to an expensive college, cheer on a big football team, and attend social events with all of our friends. That stuff just doesn't happen to people like me. We are all guilty of thinking this at one point or another, aren't we? I'm right there with you. Life feels too real. As hard as it is to admit, I think those things too. Often. We never pay attention to the ultimate consequence this world could bring us until we're shaken awake. Until it reminds us. Otherwise, we ignore it. We push it away. We run from it. We convince ourselves things like that only happen to people far outside of our towns and circles.

But Sunday as I got that email, I was quickly reminded just how real of a thing it is.

Just how real an 18-year-old girl dying before she could enjoy the best years of her life are. Just how real a college student leaving her family for a degree and never returning home to hug her parents one last time is. Because death is real. And it hit me. Death does not discriminate. Life that we know is short. It can be snatched from us in an instant. It is absolutely unavoidable. How utterly depressing and hopeless of a thought is that? How real can that be? The idea of it gripped me so hard and wouldn't let go.

In the midst of driving to our chapter meeting tonight specifically dedicated to Eme, our own sweet sister, I was internally distraught. Not because I knew her closely or personally, grieving on the level that her close friends and family did, but simply because I grieved her short, young life. The loss of something so beautiful. I grieved the idea of that girl being me, my best friend, or my sister. I grieved the relevance and the realness of it.

I grieved for her, and all the things in life she was going to miss. I grieved the thought of losing someone so new to this world; A world she barely knew yet. It was so hard for me to grasp. The idea that the same freshman girl that I was only years before, would never get to wake up in the comfort of her own dorm room ever again. She would never laugh with her friends. She would never attend another sorority event with her sisters, she would never be able to hear her mom's voice through the phone hours away, and she would never get to encounter the joys of fully growing up and experiencing life. The joys of graduating, falling in love, getting married, or having kids.

All the things that we, as young women, so deeply anticipate. It was heartbreaking. Just simply the thought of it crippled me to my core. And the worst part is, she never knew. She never knew Saturday would be her last breath on earth. She never knew she was moments from her final time behind a wheel. She just never knew. We all never know. That's the scariest part. We take life for granted. We never think it could be us. We forget to appreciate all the things we assume will always be there.

I was sitting in our chapter room listening to our president talk about her, and my heart weighed a million pounds. The mere idea of her family getting that phone call shattered me to pieces and left me nauseous. My body felt numb in my chair. Because for the first time in a long time, the idea of a death so close to me and so relevant to my own life felt real. It felt close. A college world that I get so easily caught-up & lost in, sometimes losing my sense of reality, suddenly felt so small and scary. I began to remember that no fraternity party, no big exam, no Auburn football game or new college adventure could protect me from avoiding the reality of death being real. Death being there. It could only distract me from it. While leaving the chapter room and walking to my car, I thought in silence.

I thought about the night I held my best friend in my arms as she screamed and sobbed for her dad at the top of her lungs until she physically couldn't anymore. A heap of pure pain and agonizing sorrow. An unrecognizable, shattered heart. It was gut-wrenching to witness. Truly unexplainable. I remembered the sudden hit of reality that night when I, too, realized he was gone forever. It was real. Just like that. In a second. Without a goodbye or a warning. Leaving her, and those he loved, in complete ruins.

One of the most amazing Christian men you would have ever gotten the opportunity to know, and he was gone.

A man with the warmest smile and biggest heart.

Gone from his family.

Gone from a daughter who desperately needed him. A daughter who would spend years of her life figuring out who she was without him, and how she would survive it all alone.

And I knew holding her that night that nothing from then on would ever be the same again. She would never be the same again. And for weeks after, I found myself laying in bed at night, wide-awake, sobbing and asking God why. Why did things like this happen to people. Why did it have to hurt so much. Naturally, I shared the same sorrow and heartache that my best friend did, because I loved her. Because with everything in me, I knew it wasn't fair. And because it changed my life. I had never heard the sound of true heartbreak and pain until that night. It will stick with me forever. I will never forget it. Because it was real. It was one of the rawest things I had ever witnessed. And as I stood back and watched, I knew I could do absolutely nothing in my power to fix it. I could do nothing to take it away or make it better.

That broke me. I could only watch someone I loved with all my heart suffer the deepest kind of pain. A pain that never truly goes away.

Later that same night, I walked up to my dad latching onto him tightly and not letting go. I buried my face into his chest and quietly cried. He held me close and softly whispered, "Let's go take a walk." We began walking, and he looked down at me with eyes that had seen all sides of pain, and joy, throughout the years. I asked him why things like this happened, and why God would allow it. I just didn't understand. I firmly believed he was a God of love, so why? It didn't make sense. My dad gave me a sad smile and quietly replied, "We don't know why they happen, Lan. We never will. Because sadly, that's just life." He continued, "And life can be painful. And it can be unfair. But what we do know is that we serve a God of purpose. And where we are wrong, is trying to question and understand the same God who positioned the stars in the sky and put the earth into motion. We have to trust and remember that his love is unfailing for us."

I looked up at the sky and felt a mixture of shame and confusion. It took me years after to finally understand what my dad was saying that night.

That was the first time in my life that I had truly questioned God's intentions.

I had never gotten the chance to experience and witness sorrow like that before. It was a whole new type of sadness that I never actually knew. One that God needed me to see in order to understand that his love on this earth would never be easy. It would never be without low valleys and high mountaintops. We would always find a reason to push it away or be angry. We would always hurt encountering something we feel like we don't deserve.

But, amidst the confusion, his love will always be purposeful. It will always be worth it. It will always be for our own good. And it will always win. Because even at our darkest moments, God's love is what saves us. Even when we don't understand it.

I then thought about the day I was driving home from class back to my dorm when I got the call that my precious papa had passed away. A call that I never thought would come. A call that I just didn't think could be true. I sat there in my car and physically could not fight the tears and the aching; it completely overtook me. The man I spent so many summers with, most holidays with, who taught me to tie my shoes, fish, love Jesus, and love others, was just...gone. So suddenly. One of my biggest mentors and role models from the youngest age. A man whose heart was so pure and intentions always true. A man who fought every day with a smile on his face to make the best of a disease that slowly crippled him. He was so strong. I always admired his strength. I admired the way he loved. I admired his gentleness with others.

And I just always thought he'd be there. I took advantage of that. For years as I grew older, I never truly processed the potential of losing him. But in that moment, unable to resist, I thought back to the last time I saw him. Of course, having no idea it was the last time. Not appreciating his presence there like I should've. Not spending just one more minute. Not loving on him a little bit more. Not giving him one last bear hug to remind him the infinite love I had for him; a love that I still to this day deeply cherish and carry with me. There was so much guilt. So much pain. That was a hard one for me to let go of for some time. Knowing I could've done maybe a little bit more. It was a hard reality for me to swallow. That someone I loved so much was here one day and gone the next.

Then I thought back to the day I was sitting in church and got the text that one of my dad's favorite football players, an incredible person on and off the field, and a man very special and close to my family, had been killed in a car wreck. A man who loved the Lord with everything in him, and lived every day proving that. A man who genuinely understood the idea of true leadership, and the importance of showing God's heart to others. Leaving a legacy so extremely powerful and influential to thousands. One that has slowly helped heal his family, and friends, from the sudden loss of such a phenomenal son, brother, and companion. The loss of someone so special to this world. An instantaneous tragedy; and a seemingly senseless one. One that no one ever saw coming.

With all of this thinking, I became deeply saddened. It hurt. The idea of loss itself hurt. The idea that life can be so short and minuscule hurt. The idea that in a second someone we love so much could be gone just, HURT. I honestly felt hopeless. It was physically painful for me to think about. But even as I drove home in silence, I still could never bring myself to ask God "why?" Because through all that I've learned so far in life, I've realized that we will never truly understand why. We just won't. We can't. It might not ever make sense. God has His reasons and that's just it. That's all we can know. That's all we can put our hope and trust in. That God is filled to the brim with overflowing love and compassion for those he purposely created and loves. For us. His purposeful and unfailing love for us. One that goes beyond boundaries. A love that wants the absolute best for our lives, regardless of circumstance. A love with a depth and purpose that isn't always understandable. A love with a plan exceedingly greater than the one we see and perceive. It's immeasurable. One that carries us and gives us faith. Because faith isn't simple. Faith is our anchor during the roughest of storms. Faith is our solid, sturdy ground. Faith is believing that even when we have no control, we still have shelter. We still have hope. We still are protected. And even though I am fully confident and aware of His gracious & comforting promises for us, I still couldn't help but feel extremely saddened by the idea of death in that moment. Its loss is so cruel and merciless. It's so frustrating and confusing. It's heartbreaking. And my mind seemed stuck.

But, as I felt the tears fall fast down my face, I heard God whisper to me so clearly in that moment: "But I beat it"

And immediately through the silence, I felt a wave of comfort wash over me. Because all of a sudden, I realized... that's just it. Jesus beat it. Jesus beat death. Forever. And once again, I was faithfully reminded of the eternal gift of true hope that we all received selflessly that day on the cross. Nails and thorns marked our freedom from death. His blood marked our forgiveness. His body took our place. Jesus overcame the ending that day. He took away our period, our end, and put an eternity of life behind it. He conquered the permanent and made it temporary. He overruled it. He made it possible for death to be life, and for the end to be the beginning. For it to be our new beginning. Spent forever with Him in a place of paradise. A life full of perfection and lacking pain.

So, just as I felt death as something scary and powerful, I was reminded that death was defeated. Death was made weak. Death was made powerless. Jesus beat it. He beat it for us. For us to be able to grieve for only a short period of time, and then no more. For us to be able to have hope. For us to be able to spend eternity loving Him. Because He loved us enough to share that reality with us. The reality that death is not our end, but our beginning. Because the idea of sharing His forever with the ones He so brutally died for, was enough to break the bonds that death had on us. It was enough to render it powerless.

So, that is why, in Jesus name, death is no more.

So that we can live.

And so that we will.

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." — 1 John 5:13-14
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" — John 11:25-26

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I Ghosted My Old Self For 5 Months In An Effort To Reevaluate My Life

My life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

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BREAKING (not fake) NEWS: It's true, you have to hit your lowest before hitting your highest.

I want to share my lowest with you, and I'm almost ashamed to say it had nothing to do with the loss of both of my parents. I like to think I handled that like a warrior.

Turns out I didn't, and the hurt I've been burying from that hit me all at once, the same moment my life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

My life flipped upside down overnight back in August. I had my heart broken shattered, lost two very important friendships that I thought were with me until the end, lost my 9-5 job, my health took a hit stronger than a boulder, and I was absolutely lost. For the first time, ever, I let go of the reigns on my own life. I had no idea how to handle myself, how to make anyone around me happy, how to get out of bed or how to even begin the process of trying to process what the f*ck just happened. I was terrified.

Coming from the girl who never encountered a dilemma she couldn't fix instantaneously, on her own, with no emotional burden. I was checked out from making my life better. So I didn't try. I didn't even think about thinking about trying.

The only relatively understandable way I could think to deal with anything was to not deal with anything. And that's exactly what I did. And it was f*cking amazing.

I went into hiding for a week, then went on a week getaway with my family, regained that feeling of being loved unconditionally, and realized that's all I need. They are all I need. Friends? Nah. Family. Only. Always.

On that vacation, I got a call from the school district that they wanted me in for an interview the day I come home. It was for a position that entailed every single class, combined, that I took in my college career. It was a career that I had just gotten my degree for three months before.

I came home and saw my doctor and got a health plan in order. I was immediately thrown into the month-long hiring process for work. I made it a point to make sunset every single night, alone, to make sure I was mentally caught up and in-check at the same exact speed that my life was turning. I was not about to lose my control again. Not ever.

Since August, I have spent more time with family than ever. I've read over 10 new books, I've discovered so much new music, I went on some of my best, the worst and funniest first dates, I made true, loyal friends that cause me zero stress while completely drowning me in overwhelming amounts of love and support, I got back into yoga, and I started that job and damn near fell more in love with it than I ever was for the guy I lost over the summer.

But most importantly, I changed my mindset. I promised myself to not say a single sentence that has a negative tone to it. I promised myself to think three times before engaging in any type of personal conversation. I promised myself to wake up in a good mood every damn day because I'm alive and that is the only factor I should need to be happy.

Take it from a girl who knew her words were weapons and used them frequently before deciding to turn every aspect of her life into positivity — even in the midst of losing one of my closest family members. I have been told multiple times, by people so dear to me that I'm "glowing." You know what I said back? F*ck yes I am, and I deserve to.

I am so happy with myself and it has nothing to do with the things around me. It's so much deeper than that, and I'm beaming with pride. Of myself. For myself.

I want to leave you with these thoughts that those people who have hurt me, left me, and loved me through these last couple of months have taught me

Growth is sometimes a lonely process.
Some things go too deep to ever be forgotten.
You need to give yourself the permission to be happy right now.
You outgrow people you thought you couldn't live without, and you're not the one to blame for that. You're growing.
Sometimes it takes your break down to reach your breakthrough.

Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

My god, it's so f*cking good.

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How To Stick To Your New Year's Resolution This Year And Actually Lose Weight

Beat the odds and achieve your goals this year!

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January is not over yet, which means it's not too late to start on your new year's resolutions. I love the idea of a fresh start-- it's a clean slate to attempt new successes and correct past failures. However, most people fail to keep to their resolutions, with 80% of people failing by February. Chances are, you've probably already broken some of yours. Why is that? Why do we all make them just to give them up so soon?

I think it's because we set unrealistic goals. One of the most common new year's resolutions is to lose weight, often with a specific number goal attached. On the first few weeks of January, the gyms are flocking with newbies eager to sign up and suddenly everyone is interested in all the weight loss program commercials on TV.

While having this goal is obviously not a bad thing, many people simply burn themselves out too quickly by over dieting and overexercising. We see all the advertising for low-calorie this and low-sugar that. "Lose 50 pounds in 3 weeks!" "Get rid of those love handles for good in 3 easy steps!" And we believe it. But the truth is, maintainable weight loss takes time.

There is no quick easy fix. Starving yourself at the beginning of January to drop those 5 pounds you gained during the holidays isn't worth it. So, how can you achieve these goals and stick to that new year's resolution? Here are my top 5 do's and dont's for how you can keep that resolution going the whole year and lose the weight in a healthy, realistic way.

1. Don’t workout every single day.

At the beginning of my fitness journey, I made this mistake. I was super motivated and wanted to go to the gym every day. First of all, this is obviously not sustainable, because, over time, I lost this beginner's high. After a few weeks, my motivation had gone downhill, I was exhausted, and it was also very hard to work out every single day with such a busy schedule.

More importantly, your body needs a break! When you are working out, especially if you are lifting weights, you are actually creating microscopic tears in the muscles. Your rest days are essential because those are the days your muscles are actually building and repairing.

2. Eat intuitively and in moderation.

While counting calories and tracking macros is good for a little while to learn the quantities your body needs, it is also important to learn how to eat intuitively. Eating intuitively is about listening to your body and its needs. You eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. It sounds simple, but it's actually a hard process because we often think we are hungry when we are not and eat past when we are full. It is also important to eat enough.

Many people cut down to the bare minimum of 1200 calories and believe that it's the key to losing weight. The truth is, every individual has a unique body structure and metabolism, so consulting a professional or doing some calculations to figure out what your own body needs is crucial. If you lose the weight too fast, it's not healthy or maintainable.

You are depriving your body of vital nutrients and as a result you will probably binge on those chips you have been craving for weeks, instead of having a normal portion size and eating in moderation.

3. Drink more water.

Ok, so this is probably something you see on every weight loss column. We all know we need to drink more water. But you need to actually do it! I carry around my 24oz water bottle with me everywhere! I highly recommend getting any large size bottle to encourage you to drink more. Add a little lemon or fruit if you want to!

4. Don’t weigh yourself every day.

Many people are slaves to the scale. While weighing yourself sometimes is perfectly fine, doing it every day can really affect your mental health. Weight can fluctuate all the time for many reasons. For example, if you ate a lot of salt the day before, your body could be holding onto more water than usual.

Another factor is fluctuating hormone levels, which can spike your weight by several pounds during certain times of the month (for females). Furthermore, sleep and stress levels can influence what the scale says. And also don't forget that just because you gained numbers on the scale, doesn't mean you gained fat.

It could be muscle! For more accurate ways to track your progress, use measuring tapes and take progress photos.

5. Stay body positive!

This is a hard one. With social media and the current obsessions with "fit girls," it can be taxing on self-esteem. Young women are expected to be skinny, but have huge boobs and butts. We are expected to be fit, but not too muscular. Working the glutes is great, but big having biceps isn't cute.

While some people naturally have this "ideal" shape, most of us don't. In reality, a lot of images we see online are altered and/or the person has had plastic surgery done. During your weight loss journey, it is so important to love yourself from start to finish.

Not everyone is physically capable of looking a certain way, so having confidence in yourself will make your journey so much better. Embrace the body that you have, because it is the only one you will be given.

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