Highest highs and lowest lows

Wow, what a whirlwind of a weekend. I’m still finishing up my duties with Halftime Magazine, but I needed to take a moment to digest everything that has happened in the last week–it has been quite the roller coaster.

I went to the hospital the night before I left for Indy and Dayton, because I had burning in my chest. I have a higher chance for blood clots these days, so I wanted to make sure everything was OK before I drove (driving more than an hour in the car, increases the risk for blood clots as well). I would normally ignore slight pain like this, but I know I can’t do this anymore. They never found the solution to the burning, but since there was nothing alarming in my charts, I convinced them to let me leave.

High fives all around for talking my way out of staying overnight and for taking the time to stop home and bring good reading material!

Photo Apr 15, 9 12 14 PM

I cannot stand the tube they leave in my arms for IV’s. Boo.

WGI World Championships

After being released from the hospital around 11 p.m., I had to finish packing and get everything ready for driving down immediately after work the next day. It was rough waking up around 6 the next day after this ordeal, working 8-5 p.m., and then driving down to Indy, but I made it safely!

As expected, WGI World Championships was incredible. After playing marimba in indoor percussion for nine years, this was my first year aged out and watching from the other side. I came with Halftime Magazine, and enjoyed manning the booth with our editor, watching shows in the lot and inside, as well as interviewing people for the magazine.

Photo Apr 19, 10 45 37 AM

I enjoyed all of the groups I watched, and I was especially proud of my home team, RCC. It was bizarre not performing with them, but it was a joy to just sit back and soak it in. I adore the members and staff–so many wonderful memories.

This is my favorite weekend of the year, and it has been what I’ve been looking forward to since I moved to Chicago, and especially since I was diagnosed. Knowing that I would be reunited with so many dear friends, kept my spirits up on the lowest days. When I returned from Italy, after I learned I would be having surgery again, I found a box at my apartment of over 45 letters of past and current RCC members and staff. It was so special, and I anxiously waited for the day I could see everyone in person again. It had been nearly a year.

Letters from my RCC friends.

Letters from my RCC friends.

I was sick to my stomach excited to see everyone! I am extremely thankful, however, that people weren’t expressing pity when they saw me, but instead reciprocated the pure excitement I felt (THANK YOU!). At the same time, I had so many heart-felt conversations with people who have been following my story. Three people in particular offered so much love and support that I would have never anticipated. I am blessed (have I said that enough lately? 🙂 )

It has been non-stop since I got off work last Tuesday and drove down here. After several nights of 3-5 hours of sleep back to back, my body is in dyer need of recuperation before surgery on Friday. Or maybe not, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep then 😉

RCC's finals performance.

RCC’s finals performance.

Rest in peace, Sue

While I was gone, I received the incredibly sad news that a dear friend lost her battle with cancer Friday night. Since I moved to Chicago, I have had the privilege of spending time with Sue and grew very attached to her emotionally. Every time I saw her, she quickly asked how I was doing and told me she was thinking of me all the time… I tried to show her that there wasn’t a day I didn’t think of her.

I struggled a lot with Sue’s kindness, because her cancer was so much more progressed, but still she wanted to know how I was doing. It made me sick with guilt many days. I wrestled with God and asked why He was going to take a wife and mother from this world, and leave me, a single woman with no dependents.  I spent many evenings in prayer and tears over this–and until recently, I never told anyone.

A week a go, I was over at her home, and she was quickly declining. Everyone there told me that she continually asked about me. I walked into her bedroom, and sure enough, she immediately asks how I am doing and tells me she thinks of me all the time. It took every ounce of control to not completely lose it right there. She wanted to know about my surgery, but also about my trip to Italy. It was beautiful to see her smile when I talked about some of my favorite parts of my trip.

I will never forget the next day–the last time I saw her. My friend Kim and I were talking to her about heaven, and as she closed her eyes, I wondered if she could already see glimpses of it. I noticed moments of peace wash over her, and those moments were unforgettable. She was telling us she can’t wait to be cancer-free and to give my Aunt Bonnie a hug (Bonnie passed away suddenly almost exactly three years a go).

Sue passed away while I was in Dayton for WGI, and I felt terrible for being away. I haven’t really had time to process this yet, and while writing this, the weight is starting to set in. I am so sad that I will be having surgery Friday and likely won’t be able to come to her celebration service.

Sue was a beautiful, kind, spunky, hilarious, compassionate, selfless and Godly woman. Please keep her family and friends in your prayers during this time, she is greatly missed.

Sue and her beautiful daughter (and my dear friend/cousin), Casey.

Sue and her beautiful daughter (and my dear friend/cousin), Casey.

I love you, Sue, and I am so blessed to have known you, and I am truly forever changed. Please give Aunt Bonnie a big hug for me–I can’t wait until we are all reunited again. It must be so beautiful where you are; I can’t wait to see.

Reflecting on The Red Plane.

For those of you who do not know, RCC’s show this year was entitled “Hope, Dream, Fly.” I have never been a part of a drumline show that was this emotional, this beautiful.

The floor was white with a single red path leading off the floor. The props were large, white “paper” airplanes and one red airplane attached to long poles.  At the beginning of the show, the audience did not know why there was a single red plane.  As the show progressed, the members showed a longing for the red plane, reaching for it, desiring it. At the end, all of the white planes flew off the red path and only the red plane was left:

Photo by: Jenny Jackson

As the title implies, the red plane represented our hopes, dreams, what we are reaching towards, what we are longing to obtain.

After WGI prelims, the entire ensemble sat in the hotel conference room and talked about what the red plane symbolizes to us. Forty college-aged members talked about their dreams, their passions. I didn’t speak but listened as almost everyone in the ensemble spoke through tears about their “red planes.” I had so much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t form sentences at the time.

Our show was based on Adam Watts‘ song “Fly, Fall, Fly,” and as we drove to our last performance, WGI finals, we played this song on the bus speakers.  We all sang… I will never forget that moment.

“Fly, Fall, Fly, fall.
Air flees from beneath me.
Fly, fall, I don’t care at all,
As long as your hand catches me.”

This show was so much more than notes on a page, fast drill, and gimmicks.  It was musical artistry packaged in 7 minutes of raw emotion.


So, what is my red plane?

I am an extremely passionate person, and sometimes I can barely contain myself. I have such a strong desire to change the world, to truly make a difference, and I want to now. I love people so deeply, genuinely. My dream is to act on this love through international justice.  I want to go to law school and be able to take action against human trafficking, slavery, etc. Seeking God’s justice is my biggest dream. “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly?” (Micah 6:8)

I have become especially sensitive to children born into these situations (brothels especially), children who are trapped with no hope of getting out.  I would love to not only bring justice to their situation, prosecuting offenders, but to help find education for these kids and ensure a future for them.

Sometimes I forget just how lucky I am, just by virtue of where I was born.  I want to continue to humble myself through my interactions with others. I hope that I never forget how blessed I am, and I hope that I seek to bless others daily.

[Every time I performed this show, I thought about the next chapter in my life.  Finishing up my undergrad degree, moving away again to a new state, new school, new friends, pursuing a dream.]

I owe my life and my hope to Jesus Christ. Without him, I would be nothing. As each year passes I realize just how finite I am, and how infinite he is. I realize how broken I am and how great his mercy is. I realize that each day is a gift, and that he can carry me home at any moment. My hope is in him, completely, and I can honestly say I would not be here today,  if it were not for his unconditional love.  My joy is rooted in this relationship.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

What is YOUR red plane?