September 9, 2017

home

I just want to go home. 

Why am I no longer "home," you might ask?

Well, on May 20 I married my best friend on one of the loveliest days of my life. I woke up that morning and had a leisurely breakfast with two of my dear friends. Then I spent the morning and early afternoon getting ready with my two maids of honor, three bridesmaids, and awesome flower girl. We stuffed my big, poofy dress into a Honda and drove to a nearby park that we'd practiced driving to multiple times so that we wouldn't get lost. It was raining, so I put on my bright red rain boots instead of my turquoise heels. I and my sweet photographer trekked through the muddy grass until we reached my future husband, looking handsome in a grey suit and turned away from me. I came up behind him and we had the "big reveal" -- then we stood there, looking at each other, giggling like children.

The ceremony went off without any major hitches. I walked down the aisle to the opener of one of my favorite anime, arranged for cello, violin, and piano. Our pastor shared the gospel as part of our wedding, which had been our most important request. We shared an awkward kiss (not our first, but awkward enough that people asked if it was!) and left the church as Mr. and Mrs.

The reception was a grand party of Hobbiton proportions - I am quite the introvert, and surprised myself by actually enjoying the music and dancing and staying longer than we'd originally intended. Eventually we exited to a flurry of glow sticks. We honeymooned in the Wisconsin Dells in off-season, which served as a pleasant getaway and a chance for us to spend some alone time. After we returned, J started his internship and I continued working. At the end of the summer, we packed away or packed up most of our things, climbed into a pickup truck (betta fish included) and drove to a big city 500 miles away so that J can finish school. 

Moving is always a big change. Growing up in a military family, I've moved several times growing up. But this time, it's different. I left my best friends and my coworkers/second family. I left my mom and dad. For the first time, I'm alone in the house when J is at school. I don't have a job now, and I'm no longer doing school. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know it would be like this - wandering around Wal-Mart searching for a toilet plunger because you know that when you need it, you'll need it (we never did find one), feeling like I’m in a completely different culture because people are ready to run you over with their shopping carts and their cars, and trying to make dinner realizing too late that I didn't put a can opener on the wedding registry. 

For someone who hates change and experiences intense anxiety, it's been mostly a nightmare. I thought getting a job might help, but I've procrastinated doing that because I can always find an excuse why I should just wait “until tomorrow.” I've met people who I know will be very special friends in the future, but right now, I feel like time is not on my side. I thought getting a pet would help - perhaps knowing that a life depended on me and loved me would help me get out of bed in the morning. But that idea was crushed, and I'm back where I started from. 
There's a saying - "Time changes everything." Time can heal almost anything, too. But right now, I feel like time is not on my side, because a person that lives with anxiety can only see the present. Right now, I just want to go home.

May 12, 2017

a letter to my s/o

Fall 2016

My greatest fear is not that you'll cheat on me. I may have trust issues, and I may struggle to tell you everything, even though we promised complete honesty. But I know your character, and I know your heart. You would never do anything to hurt me. I also know I can trust you because you are a man of your word, and that once you put your mind to something you don't give it up (a nicer term than "stubborn butthead").

My greatest fear is not that you'll cease loving me. Although sometimes I doubt your love (through no fault of your own), and sometimes I think you don't know what you're getting into, deep-down I do believe you when you say that you love me. I believe you when you say you'll always love me. I believe you when you say our love is forever.

My greatest fear is not that you'll change. You will grow - you'll be a stronger person, you'll draw closer to the Lord, and you'll learn new things. You will become even more independent than you already are as we establish ourselves as a couple living on our own. Through the years to come you will gain wisdom and knowledge. But your intrinsic character won't change - your sense of humor, your bluntness, your logic, your honesty, your nerdiness, and your determination will remain.

My greatest fear is not that you'll stop calling me beautiful. You have destroyed my definitions of beauty - I used to wonder who could love someone like me, with too many scars to count, a disabled body, and muscles that don't really exist. But you told me my scars were beautiful, and that you loved me, all of me, even my [big] butt. And over time I have learned to believe you.

My greatest fear is not that I'll cheat on you. I love you with all my heart. I would never do anything to hurt you, and I would never want to be with anyone other than you.

My greatest fear is not that I'll stop loving you. Although in the past I have told you that I don't know how to love, I try to love you to the best of my ability. 

My greatest fear is not that I'll change. The past year has been a hard year for both of us, but you have supported me through it. Although sometimes I fear for the person I might become, I know that my faith, your love, and the support of others will guide me back to the person I am truly meant to be, no matter how far I might stray.

My greatest fear is not that I'll stop believing you are the cutest guy on the planet. :) Benedict Cumberbatch might have some nice cheekbones, but I will always prefer you. When we first began our relationship and I was sitting at the counter top with Mom discussing courtship, she mentioned that physical attraction was an important, though not the primary, element. I assured her that it was no problem, and that has not changed. There are still times when seeing you makes my heart leap unexpectedly, and the familiar butterflies return to my stomach. No, my greatest fear is not that I will cease calling you handsome.

My greatest fear is not that we'll lose interest in each other, that we'll stop loving each other, that we'll change, or that we'll cease being attracted to each another. 

I want to marry you. I want to have children with you and grow old with you. But I fear that somewhere along the way, we will slowly fall out of love with each other. Not the kind of disinterest that results in cheating or separation or divorce. Not the kind of disinterest that causes major marital difficulties. Not the kind of disinterest that friends or family or even our children could really notice. It will be a gradual process as our love that was once passionate, instead of maturing into something even more beautiful, slowly dulls and fades. It will be so subtle that we will not even notice - it will perhaps just be a small niggling at the back of our minds that something is different, that something is wrong. But it will never be enough to cause more than a small discomfort.

My greatest fear is not that we will slowly fall out of love with each other.

My greatest is fear is that we will slowly fall out of love with each other and that
 
we won't even notice.

April 19, 2017

3 Reasons Why You Might Not Want to Watch 13 Reasons Why

I just finished watching the popular Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why." The episodes are based on the book (which I have not read yet) about a girl named Hannah Baker, who died by suicide. Before she died, she recorded 13 cassette tapes explaining the reasons behind her decision. Each of the tapes name a person who she claims caused her to make her choice. The story follows Hannah's friend named Clay Jensen as he listens to the tapes, interspersed with flashbacks from Hannah's life.

When my coworker told me about the show, I knew right away that I wanted to watch it due to my interest in mental illness and my hope to become a cognitive behavioral therapist someday. Unlike my coworker, I didn't binge watch the entire series in one night, so I apologize that this post is a bit late in coming.

The story is powerful - though the first few episodes seem a little slow, the story picks up and builds into the climax. The show is emotional and intense to say the least. It doesn't shy away from sensitive issues, including rape. It definitely got me thinking, and kudos to my fiancé for listening to my many rants.

This isn't really a review of the show, because you can find many of those on the internet already. These are simply my personal observations as someone who is an advocate for raising awareness of mental illness and someone who struggles with depression and anxiety. 

First of all, I think the show's producers, actors, etc. made 13 Reasons Why for the best of reasons. The show even offers a suicide hotline. When I watched "Beyond the Reasons," a bonus feature offered on Netflix, it seems that everyone involved in the show is well meaning and really wants to help teens (and anyone, really) struggling with suicide. It seems that they truly desire the show's viewers to find hope through the show. But I'm not sure if 13 Reasons Why achieved its goal.

1. I'm really concerned about the show's popularity. I understand that this isn't exactly the fault of the show per se, but I heard several of my coworkers (one young adult, one teenager) talking about the show (and how they also watched it in one night). But the show wasn't opening up conversations for them to talk about each other's mental health. They were simply saying, "Hey, did you watch 13 Reasons Why? It's such a good show!" and that's all. I'm really scared that people will just watch the show because it's popular (and because it's a decent drama), but as they watch it, they will see suicide sensationalized. Hannah's onscreen suicide is horrible to watch, and it's meant to be. I admit that the first time, I couldn't watch it and skipped the scene. But even though I don't think people will watch the scene and suddenly decide to kill themselves, I'm worried that instead of furthering mental health, the show will do the complete opposite.

You see, Hannah's suicide is the basis of the whole story, but that shouldn't be all that it is. Suicide is not just a story element in a Netflix drama - it's a tragic choice that 121 Americans make each day. I foresee the emotional impact the show will make on its viewers - for a few weeks or perhaps months after watching 13 Reasons Why, teenagers and young adults will repost and share posts about mental health and how there is hope for those struggling with depression and anxiety. But after a while, the emotion will fade away, and so will the posts and photos. The viewers will then move on, searching for the next tragedy to become emotional about.

2. I'm concerned that the show's storyline might form misconceptions about suicide. Even though the show claims that Hannah died of a "broken soul", the storyline and first several episodes seem to give the impression that she dies by suicide to get revenge on those who have hurt her. This is similar to my concern about The Fault in Our Stars, where girls read the book and thought they knew all about what it was like to have cancer. Not everyone with suicidal ideation thinks and acts exactly like Hannah Baker. Not everyone who dies by suicide dies out of revenge - in fact, I have never heard of anyone doing so.

3. 13 Reasons Why is rated TV-MA and includes viewer discretion notices before certain episodes. I am still concerned, however, that for people who might be struggling with suicidal ideation, that this show will be triggering. Also, not everyone can watch graphic depictions of suicide and rape, and that's okay - there are other ways to educate yourself about those issues, such as reading articles or books. 

I'm not saying that it's a bad show or that you shouldn't watch it, but before you go and binge watch 13 Reasons Why because your friend told you "it's such a great show," please consider your own mental health and the reasons why you want to watch the show. And if you've already seen it, hopefully these observations will be helpful to you, or at least give you something to think on. 

March 21, 2017

I hate it when I'm right.

I'm not competitive, but I do like to win an argument. I like to be right, whether it's defending the Oxford comma, explaining the rules of a game, or knowing the correct words to a song. But sometimes, I hate it when I'm right.

Anxiety is when you worry about things that might happen. One of the ways to conquer anxiety is to realize that the things that might happen probably won't happen and recognize those "what-if's" as anxiety, not reality.

But occasionally, my anxiety is right.

On Friday, January 22, 2016, I finally began a study-at-home schooling program that I had been meaning to start nearly two years prior. My parents had told me that if J and I were going to get married, that I would have to work hard on my school so that I would be able to have a job. So shortly after he returned to school, I began studying. I still worked 30-40 hours a week, so I studied when I got home and on my days off. Sometimes I studied eight hours a day. Sometimes it was challenging. Sometimes it was frustrating. There were countless occasions when I cried in frustration and said I wanted to quit. But I didn't quit.

December 02, 2016. Nearly a year later, I'd finally finished almost 400 pages of schoolwork. I printed it off to mail it in to be graded and...it was a disaster. The margins were screwed up and I had to pay to have all 400 pages reprinted. I finally sent it in and posted a victorious photo on Instagram with the caption, "Mailed in this baby today!" The congratulatory comments flooded in. Though the day had been frustrating, it was finally done!

December 08, 2016 was the day I received the phone call saying that I did not pass my course. I had to redo the first third. I had to go to work, so I had to keep it together for most of the day. Then I came home and sat in my mom's lap and cried. I had been told there were too many typos and that they were careless typos. But I'd proofread it at least three times, so I was confused as to how I could've missed so many typos.

March 07, 2017 - Sitting on a sofa across from my therapist, I said I was scared that I wouldn't pass my school, but I acknowledged I "assumed" a lot. I admitted that I would probably pass.

March 15, 2017 - The day that my anxiety triumphed and said, "I was right. You should've listened to me. I was right." The phone rang, and I waited for the magical words that said I passed and could continue on to the next section. Those words never came. Instead I was told how I was given a second chance, how I'd blown it, and how I would have to quit the program. "Bad" was the word used to describe my work. My pages and pages of work, the countless hours, the 10 months of my life, the nights I stayed up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning studying... "bad." I'm not saying that it wasn't "bad." I obviously am not any good at it, so perhaps "bad" is the correct term. But I wish I could've heard something else... "I'm sorry, but I don't think this is the job for you" or, "This job just isn't the right fit for you." I know that there are many people who have worked much harder than me and I'm not sharing this information to try to show off or compare. I'm not trying to say that my work was worth anything at all.

It's not that I hate it when I'm right.

I hate it when my anxiety is right.

March 16, 2017. I have no clue what to do. I know that every experience is worth something, regardless of the results. But there's a pile of textbooks lying on my floor and 400 pages of worthless, handwritten worksheets that tell a different story. There's the fear that I won't have a job now, that I'll have to look for a job and that I might not be able to find one. There's the panic at the thought of being helpless, jobless, if somehow I can't find a job. I know it's my anxiety talking. But what if my anxiety isn't lying to me? What if it's right?

March 25, 2017. I'm burning my schoolwork. I just want it gone. Out of my room. Out of my life.

It's not because I'm bitter.

Just disappointed.

Or maybe destroyed is a better word.

But from this failure, perhaps new opportunities will arise. Or perhaps they won't. Maybe my optimism will prevail. Or maybe my anxiety will be right again.

March 8, 2017

a child pharisee

Growing up, I was called many things. 
 
I was smart - I was good at school and was a grade ahead of my age group until I experienced health issues that caused me to miss a year of school. I could read before all of my friends, and I read at a higher reading level than my age.
 
I was also gifted in writing. I taught myself how to type and began writing my own stories when I was seven. New ideas continuously came to me, and I was very imaginative and creative. I was homeschooled and also enjoyed art, piano, and singing.
 
People thought of me as a "good" girl, too. I grew up in a typical American evangelical family, attended a non-denominational church, tithed 10%, and participated in AWANA. 
I was known as many things - a child prodigy, a gifted young lady, a typical Christian child from a Christian home. Sure, I had my problems - I had a temper, and I was very emotional. But no one saw me for who I really was - a perfect pharisee.
 
* * *
 
It wasn't until my early years of high school that I glimpsed who I really was on the inside. Up until this time, I still believed myself to be a good church girl. I knew I wasn't morally good, but I thought I was doing a pretty decent job of living my life the right way by volunteering with children's programs, reading my Bible, and spending time with other Christians. I didn't cuss, listen to secular music, wear immodest clothing, or read romance novels. 
 
One day I was talking to my friend who had bought a pair of short shorts. I thought I was being helpful by trying to convince her that wearing this particular clothing item was bad. When she ended up crying, I realized that I had approached the situation in a completely wrong way.
 
Prior to this point, I had looked down on so many people because their choices were different than mine. I judged people who had tattoos. I judged people who had piercings other than in their ears. I judged people who smoked. I judged people who wore short skirts. I judged kids and teens who went to public school. I judged young women who went to college instead of staying home. I judged people who "dated" instead of "courted." I judged people who read certain books or watched certain movies. 
 
You see, I had gotten caught up in the rules that I had had growing up. I had made these rules my own as I grew older, but I didn't stop and examine who I really was inside. I thought that by following the rules, it meant that it was "all good" between me and God. I hadn't stopped to look at the most important part of myself - my heart. 
 
* * *
 
What is the first and greatest commandment? Any church kid will tell you. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." It wasn't until studied this passage to teach upon it that I realized the significance of this statement.
 
I think that rules are important. I think that parents should make rules for their children and that adults should make rules for themselves. But I think, especially as church kids growing up in twenty-first century America, it is very tempting to think solely of the rules and not of the heart.
The religious leaders were probably expecting that Jesus to name one of the laws in his reply - perhaps one of the ten commandments. But instead, Jesus' answer concerned the heart. 
 
To truly please God, following the rules is simply not enough. Our hearts have to be right, too. 
Growing up, I had followed all the rules my parents had made for me. I had everyone fooled - my family, my friends, my parents' friends - but I couldn't fool God. God saw me for who I really was - mean, judgmental, and more like a Pharisee than anything else. I held the rules to such a high importance that I forgot who made the rules in the first place and why they were important. I was trying to pluck specks out of other people's eyes while there was a glaring plank in my own eye.
 
To truly please God, I must love Him with my heart. And to truly love my neighbor, I cannot stand back and point fingers at them for what they have done wrong.
 
I understand that there is a time for exhortation and rebuke, and that is not what I am referring to here. I am simply referring to the legalism that many Christians seem to get caught up. In the do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, they miss the heart of what God is trying to show us. I know that was how I was as a child and as a teenager. My judgmental attitudes hurt many people. 
 
* * *
 
I think rules are important. After all, when Jesus came to earth He did not discard the law; He came to fulfill it. In the same way, I do not write this in an attempt to negate the rules or to cause you to think less of them. But I think more important than the rules are the heart behind them - I think the key to keeping the rules, but not being legalistic is this: looking at the heart of the matter. 
 
Like any parent, I hope that one day my children are smart. I want to see them succeed in school. I hope they are talented. I hope they are gifted. 
 
But even more important than that, I hope that they chase after God with all their hearts. I hope the rules that they have growing up will help them form their own convictions and boundaries when they are older. I hope that they will understand that different families have different rules, and that it doesn't make one family worse than another. I hope they will understand that it's not enough just to follow the rules - your heart has to be in it, too. I hope they know that God makes His rules because He wants them to live His way, for His glory and also their own benefit. 
 
If they know these things, I think that is much more important than whether my son chooses to drink alcohol when he turns 21, my daughter decides to wear a strapless dress, my kids read Harry Potter, or go to college when they're older. I hope that they will have formed their own convictions and will decide not to do some of these things on their own. I also hope their convictions are not made in order to simply follow my rules, but because they understand God's heart.
 
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December 5, 2016

the aspirations of a twenty-something

When I graduated high school, I was utterly convinced I had the rest of my life planned out - unlike most graduates, however, college was not in my future. In my graduation speech, I said that I would continue volunteering and being involved at church, learn how to do more things around the house (such as cooking), and begin a study-at-home medical transcription program.  Earlier that week I had landed a job at a fast food restaurant, and my best friend had asked me to be his girlfriend. There were a lot of life changes happening all at once, but like your typical, optimistic, naive young person, I was convinced that I would be able to face everything.

The next two-and-a-half years haven't exactly go as planned. Looking back at the smiling eighteen-year-old in a bright purple robe standing on a dictionary in order to see over the top of the podium, I honestly feel a bit cynical at times. I ended up working on average of 30-40 hours weekly at my job, which was a huge financial blessing, but also prevented me from starting my vocational schooling until earlier this year. I still haven't been able to learn much about housework and cooking even though in less than nine months, I'll be going to moving into an apartment with J - who is currently by fiancĂ©, but will of course be my husband when we move in together - in a city over 400 miles away from home. While I completely adore my coworkers and they truly are my second family, the job itself has become emotionally draining. Being in a primarily long distance relationship for two-and-a-half years has also affected me emotionally. Rethinking many of my long-held beliefs and forming new, more Biblical convictions has also been exciting and also challenging. And of course, finally admitting to myself and others that I struggled with mental illness has been a journey that I am still partaking in. 

Over the past couple of years, I realized that I didn't know who I was. I know that's very clique-ish of me to say, and I don't mean it in a worldly sense - living a life of sin and no rules in order to discover the "real you" or searching deep inside yourself to find your supposed inner goodness. I know that I am a forgiven sinner in need of daily grace, and that my identity is that of a daughter of God. But I realized I didn't know what I wanted in my future, and that frightened and frustrated me. It was particularly challenging since J knew that he was supposed to be a pastor. I knew that I wanted to be a wife and mother, but I didn't know if I had a ministry or a special gifts to use. 

When I graduated in 2014, I thought I had everything figured out. Of course, I didn't. And I don't have everything figured out now, either - far from it. But over this past year, I think I have finally realized what I am meant to do. I could be wrong - God may have a completely different plan for me. But at the moment the people, situations, conversations, and events that God has allowed and placed in my life have led me to pursue counseling.

Ironically, in my junior year of high school, I had actually considered counseling, but I couldn't figure out the logistics. I wanted to be a Christian counselor, but I didn't particularly want to be employed by a church because I figured that any church that would be able to hire a counselor would have to be a very large church, which I didn't feel comfortable with. The other was to set up my own practice, which I felt would interfere with my primary role as wife and mother. Since I couldn't figure out a way to practically use that degree, so I decided it wasn't for me. 

It wasn't until earlier this year that I came to the realization that I wanted to be a counselor. When I told J over Skype, I couldn't stop smiling - I felt so peaceful about my decision. After a tumultuous couple of years, I finally knew what I was meant to do - be a wife and mother and a counselor. I finally had my avenue - being a pastor's wife, I would be able to help people in the church, but I wouldn't have to necessarily be employed by the church. 

I also decided that despite my original interest in "Christian counseling", I would like to pursue cognitive behavioral therapy. I want to be able to use my degree to help those in our church and also as an outreach to individuals who aren't saved. J and I also hope to adopt older children, and I thought that a degree in CBT might be helpful in those situations. 

I won't be going to school until J finishes his degree, which will be several years from now. Of course when we are at that point in time we will also have to consider the financial side of things, so I might not be going to school for a long time, but I am so very excited about the future. I have been thrilled about this decision for a while, but I have just begun telling people. I wanted to explain my thoughts and the journey of how I came to his realization. 

I know that someday I will look back at this post and see it as the writings of a typical, optimistic, naive young person, who thinks she can take on the world. I might even feel a bit cynical reading through it. But I hope that I will read it as someone who is a wife and mother and a cognitive behavioral therapist. I hope I will read it and remember why I decided to travel this road. I hope that when I read it, I will be a stronger and wiser person and that I will be a better person. And that I will know myself better than I do now. 

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November 29, 2016

PSA: Please Don't Be A Jerk This Christmas

Public Service Announcement

1) The holiday season is here!
2) Please don't be a jerk.
 
I love this time of year. I have been listening to Christmas music since October, and my family already put up all three of our Christmas trees before Thanksgiving. I also adore giving gifts, so this season is naturally one of my favorites. But I would like to offer my two cents about attitudes and actions during November-December...and at all times, really.  
 
Currently, I do not work in retail, so I speak only from a customer service standpoint. I have posted before about my job in the food service industry (check out the "Food for Thought" tab if you would like to read more), in which I make the case that we (as a collective society) subconsciously degrade those in the service industry - not out of spite, but out of ignorance.
 
The first year I worked during the holidays, I noticed a clear shift in my customer's attitudes and actions beginning the day after Thanksgiving and lasting until shortly after New Year's. I discovered that people were noticeably more impatient and unkind. It's understandable - Christmas has become a very stressful holiday in our materialistic and individualistic society. We feel pressured to give the same kinds of gifts to everyone so that no one feels left out, but we also feel that we must give personal, meaningful gifts. We want to buy nice things for people, but finances are tight. We want to stop and enjoy the quietness of Christmas, but we are too busy trying to make everything perfect to realize what we are missing. I get it: Christmas is stressful. However, today I would like to make the case that this is our chance as Christians to be a light in a very me-focused world.

* * *

We, the Service Industry, are part of what brings you the Christmas experience you desire. We are the ones who make it possible for you to give gifts to your loved ones. Please don't take out your stress on us.

In job orientation, I was taught about "kick-the-dog" syndrome: a man has a horrible day at work, drives home, and kicks the dog. The dog didn't do anything wrong - the man simply took out his frustration and anger on the dog. This was taught to excuse customer behavior  I was told to "not to take it personally" when customers yell or shout at us. The illustration is true - most customers that shout at me or complain about their order is not because they hate me or want me to fail. They are most likely having a bad day, and are taking their frustrations out on me. However, me realizing that "it's not personal" doesn't fix the problem; it's simply a band-aid to make myself feel better. The actual problem is one that no one wants to admit: "Kick-the-dog" syndrome is actually wrong.

Parents are not allowed to take out their anger on their children, teachers are not allowed to take out their anger on their students, and adults are not allowed to take out their anger on other adults, so why should it be any different for the food/retail industries?

Please understand that we are stressed too. We are also trying to find the right gifts for everyone and to enjoy the holiday season. We're human, and we make mistakes too. Please be patient with us. 
 
Stop, take your time, and enjoy the season. Enjoy the scent of pine needles and the excitement of children. Spend some time with your family. Drive slowly through your neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights instead of rushing off to somewhere else. Then take a moment, pause, and remember what Christmas is about. It's not about the gifts, the tree, the decorations, or even the "feeling" of Christmas. It's about God doing the most loving thing He could ever do - sending a Savior for all the world.

* * *
 
This Christmas, please don't be a jerk. Don't kick the figurative dog by taking out your anxiety and frustration on a random highschooler who happens to be working a cash register in December, or lose your temper with a flustered middle-aged woman who can't seem to answer your questions. That's not how we show God's love. That's not how they will know that God has come to live in you.  
 
This Christmas, take a little time to be a little cheerier and a little kinder. This is your chance, in this season of stress, to be a light - to show that you have true love from God and real hope from His Son. Before you lose your temper, roll your eyes, or complain, stop and remember that this is your chance: be a light instead of another exasperated complainer. Be kindness instead of rudeness. Be love instead of frustration. Be a true Christmas spirit instead of just another stressed-out customer.

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