Sunday, July 31, 2011

Q&A DAY (Part Two)

Today is part two of the Q&A day on my alphabet blogging challenge.  Because I have the best readers ever who asked lots and lots of questions, I decided to split Q&A day into two days to make the huge blocks of information less overwhelming.  Again, thanks so much for all of your questions.  It means a lot to me that you took the time to ask them.  I answered every question I received before July 29, so if your question wasn't answered here, it should be answered in Q&A Day (Part ONE).

DSC04285.jpg16.) What's the craziest thing you could ever do for God?
- I think once I would have said that the craziest thing I could do for Him would be to die as a martyr, but I don't think so anymore.  Of course that is something I would be willing to do, but it isn't the craziest.  I think the craziest thing I would be willing to do is to give my entire life to Him.  Not just give my life, but give the moments I'm alive as well.

I want to be willing to make sacrifices that seem insane to everybody else.  I want to be able to abandon everything for Him, spend hours with Him, and become more like Him.  John the Baptist, Moses, Paul, Francis of Assisi... all of those guys seemed a little crazy, right?  I want to be able to be crazy for God like that.  To give everything I have to be who He wants me to be.

17.) I was wondering, how do you get so many people to read your blog? I mean, obviously you don't know everybody who reads your blog (like me) but how do you get them to start reading it?
- I'll admit it's been surprising how many people have read my blog.  I first started out thinking that nobody would care to read what I have to say, but in the last fourteen months, I've gotten more than  420,000 views.  I'm so thankful I have this blog as an outlet to share my heart, my thoughts, and my writing.  I want to blog for the rest of my life now.

I'm not exactly sure how I've gotten so many people to read my blog.  It's really up to whether people like what you have to say, I suppose.  Write about things that you would want to read if you were a visitor to your blog.  Always be honest.  Use proper spelling and grammar whenever possible.  Use paragraphs.  Write frequently (like every day or at least three times a week).  If you want to advertise your blog on Facebook and Twitter, go ahead.  I haven't done much advertising.  I should probably advertise more than I do, in fact.  If you write something that others like, then they'll share your blog with their friends and they'll be sure to come back and read more.

I think one very important thing is whether or not you write for the views.  I don't write for the views.  Although I love it when people read and comment on what I have to say, that isn't why I write.  I think if I started advertising on here all the time and sounding desperate for views and followers, it would start to become annoying and even affect the quality of what I have to say.  I started out with two or three views a day... sometimes no views at all.  At times, I've gotten up to 6,000 views a day.  Lately I've been getting about 300 or so views a day.  But how much do views really matter?

Just write from your heart.  It might take a while, but people will want to read what you have to say as you continue to mature in your writing and slowly gain some regular readers.

18.) What do you think will be the hardest thing about leaving home for college?
- The hardest thing about leaving home for college will definitely be leaving my family and friends.  I spend a lot of time with my family.  My mom and I go shopping together, eat lunch together, and watch movies (and Lost) together almost every single day, so it's going to be strange not to spend a lot of time with her.  My grandparents and I are also very close, so it's going to be hard only seeing them once every month or two.

P1010983.JPGI know teens hang out with friends a lot, but my friend situation is different than most.  Because Ali has been living at my home and the homes of two other friends throughout the year, our three families have kind of turned into one big family.  For holidays and birthdays, our three families usually get together.  It's been so special to grow even closer to my best friends.  We've all become family to each other.  I literally spend time with my friends every single day, whether it's at family functions or just hanging out.

I'm sure every new college student has to face the stress of making a brand new group of friends and living on their own. I expect that it will be very hard for me to have to start over after making such close friends as I have right now.  I don't know anyone who has a better group of friends than I do.  We are so close knit that we literally call each other family.  It's so special.  So that's what will be hardest for me.  Leaving the ones I love.  After all, I'll be moving ten hours away.  Thankfully, one of my best friends will be going to A&M with me, so we'll be able to spend some time with each other throughout the year.  Praise God!

19.) How are you dealing with the drought?  What kinds of rules/laws are put in place because of it, and how are you adapting?
- The drought has been very difficult on my family since our well is going dry.  We're having to use water bottles and jugs of water for everything.  The water that we have left is a sandy-brown color and unusable.  It's also been difficult because of the fire warnings.  Several houses have burned down in my city this summer because of fires.  It's a scary thought to know that one spark could wipe out our entire area.

The biggest law right now is that no fireworks are allowed anywhere near our county.  This was so sad since 4th of July is my favorite holiday.  However, fireworks are a luxury, so while I was disappointed that we didn't get our annual display out at my house, it wasn't that big of a deal.  Our city is considering setting up a water ration.  This would mean that each home would no longer be able to water their lawns and could only use a certain amount of water a day.  This actually would not affect my family whatsoever because my family doesn't use city water.  We have our own pitiful well.

20.) If you could have lunch with any person, dead or alive, who would you eat with?
- This is easy.  Elvis Presley!  I have a bit of a crush on him and I would love to eat a meal with him.  If I was lucky, we'd fall in love and get married the next day. ;)  Actually, I'd love to ask him some questions about his faith and his music.  If not Elvis, my second choice would be Michael Jackson.  After him would be Ted Dekker, my favorite author.

21.) Who inspires you?
- People who outshine their disabilities inspire me so much.  If I ever decide to have kids and make a family, I would seriously consider adopting a child with a physical disability (like an amputee).  I don't know why, but whenever I hear stories about amputees who are so positive and so inspirational and determined, tears come to my eyes.  I believe God puts every one of us here for a reason, disabled or not.

People who have joy despite terrible circumstances also inspire me.  Seeing the children in Kenya who loved life and who loved Jesus even though they had nothing changed my life forever.  It was amazing to me that joy could be found in such a desolate place.  Pure joy is such a rare and special thing.  I believe I found it many times in the hearts of those living in Africa.

22.) What is your favorite verse?
- I talk about my favorite verse a lot on this blog.  It's Psalm 77:19, which says, "Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen."  It means so much to me because it got me through a particularly difficult time when I felt like I was drowning in a sea of pain.  I couldn't find God's presence anywhere, but His footprints was still there.  He was still working in my life, even when I couldn't find Him.

23.) What has been the best piece of advice you have ever heard?
- I really like this question.  During a tough time in my life, a sweet lady named Tanya Gordon befriended me and mentored me for several months.  She helped me and encouraged me in so many ways.  In fact, I'm not sure where I would be in my faith right now if it wasn't for her friendship.  It was also her idea to put my story of overcoming cutting and depression onto paper to inspire others.  Anyways, one of the best pieces of advice she gave me during this time was that the depth of my valleys indicated the height of the mountains in my life later on.  Perhaps I was struggling because I was being tested for greater things.  I'd never heard that before and it touched me so much.  In fact, I've said that same thing to several others who are struggling because I believe it's true.  So thanks, Tanya.  Your advice meant more to me than you will ever know.

24.) What are you most nervous about with regards to leaving for college?
- I almost blended this with #18 above, but the questions are a bit different, so I decided to answer them separately.  While the hardest thing for me will be leaving my friends and family, I don't know if that is what makes me the most nervous.  I think I'm the most nervous about becoming an adult and living on my own.  I'm not independent yet.

My car was hit today by someone pulling into a parking spot while I was inside eating lunch.  Even though it wasn't that big of a deal and I couldn't have done anything about it, I felt panicky and unsure of myself until my mom took over and told me what to do.  I may be eighteen, but I still feel like a child in a lot of ways.  Moving ten hours away from my parents and living on my own scares me quite a bit.  However, I know it's time for me to grow up.  This is something that needs to happen.

25.) Is there any way for you to make your website be able to be followed?
- I am not a computer person.  I'm a writer, yes, but I don't know a whole lot about computers and the internet.  I'm pretty sure that if you click the button at the bottom of this page that says, "Subscribe to this blog's feed," you'll get an email every time I post something, but honestly, I've never tried it for myself.  I use an awesome website called to follow my favorite blogs.  Blog Lovin' is my internet addiction.  Simply type in the address of all the blogs you follow and it'll keep their latest posts all on one page.  This is the easiest way I've seen to check if someone has updated their blog.  You just have to look in one place.  Blog Lovin' is amazing.

26.) How did you overcome self-harm?
- This is a big question to answer in a small space like this.  Overcoming self-harm wasn't easy and sometimes I'm still tempted to start back.  It is a very tough thing to overcome, but it's so worth it.  One of the biggest things that made me stop was wanting to stop.  I could tell myself over and over, "I'm going to stop.  This will be my last time.  No more," but until I was determined to end the addiction and treat my body the right way, I didn't have the will power to stop cutting.  You have to want to stop.

100_4755.JPGFinding positive outlets for negative emotions is also vitally important.  You have to decide, "Next time I get upset or have a bad day, instead of self-injury, I'm going to ________."  Your outlet could be writing down all of your anger into a journal and then crumpling up the paper.  It could be playing an instrument.  It could be going on a five mile run.  Whatever it is, it needs to be healthy and a way to vent your pain and frustration.

Find accountability.  If you're feeling tempted to self-harm, call up a friend.  Don't let yourself be in a room by yourself.  I know it can be a horrible feeling to tell a friend you self-harm, but if you're struggling to overcome that addiction, you need to let somebody know that you haven't cut in ____ days.  Keep track of how long you've been without cutting.  You'll want to be able to reward yourself with each special date that goes by.

The first day, the first week, the first month, the first year.  Every day you go without hurting yourself is reason for celebration.  The longer you go, the easier it will become.  Also, if you keep track of how long you've gone without cutting, you reallllllly won't want to break that by relapsing.

You'll need to learn to love yourself again.  If you're constantly telling yourself, "You're stupid.  You're ugly.  You're worthless.  You deserve to die.  I hate you," then it will be hard to see why you shouldn't self-harm.  Deliberately look in the mirror and point out your attractive features.  Make lists of things you like about yourself.  When you mentally (or audibly) say something negative about yourself, correct it immediately.  Deuteronomy 14:1-2 says, "You are the children of the Lord your God.  Do not cut yourselves... Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession."  You are treasured.  Keep reminding yourself how special you are, even when you don't feel that way.

Most importantly, you need to start to repair your relationship with God.  He will give you the power to overcome any addiction.  All you have to do is ask.  When you're feeling tempted, spend time in prayer.  Read the Bible.  Learn more about God's promises for you.  He will help you overcome self-harm, just like He helped me.

27.) What is your favorite film?
- "The Truman Show" is probably my favorite movie of all times.  A close second would be "Pirates of the Caribbean" and then "August Rush."

28.) What do you believe about God using people?
- I wish I had more context surrounding this question so I could know more of what you mean.  Do I believe that God uses people?  Definitely.  I think He used Moses to free the Israelites from slavery.  I believe He used Deborah and Esther to save Israel.  I believe He can use anyone for His glory, even someone who doesn't believe in Him.  Think about how the Lord used Pharaoh in the Bible, even though Pharaoh rebelled so cold.JPGstrongly against Him.  God can use anyone.  I pray every day that God will use me to further His kingdom.  If I knew more of what you were asking, I think I would be able to answer this question better.

29.) Are you ever going to post more songs on YouTube?
- For those of you who don't know, I have a music channel on YouTube called EmilythePerson.  I haven't posted a song in a few months.  I know it's been a while, and yes, I do want to post more songs on YouTube eventually.  What I've actually been doing lately is recording an album.  It isn't professional quality (I'm using a microphone and some basic software), but it will be a gift for some family members who enjoy listening to my songs and will miss my voice while I'm at college.  After I finish recording that album, I'll definitely start posting more songs on YouTube and hopefully some before then as well.

In the meantime, I have another YouTube channel that I use more regularly.  It's a vlog called TheLifeofEmily.  I post all sorts of things like adventures with friends, clips of my puppy, and behind the scenes of Ali's and my "Facing Prejudice" social experiment.  On average, I post something new about two to three times a week.

30.) I don't think I would be comfortable enough to just let anyone online know my secrets. Do you think not being that open with others is a bad thing?  (Someone actually commented and asked me this question on Q&A Day part one, but I felt like it was a big enough question to include in this post.  It deals with a somewhat controversial topic about how transparent Christians should be.)
- I feel like one difference between the person asking this question and me is that although I choose to keep some things private for now, I don't feel like they're secrets.  At this point, I don't think certain things in my life need to be shared online and I don't share everything I'm going through, but if I was asked directly about those things or if the Lord asked me to share them, I would do so without hesitation because I don't feel like they're secrets.

I do believe that we as Christians should attempt to be transparent with our lives.  We are a city on a hill.  People are watching us to see how we live our lives and whether or not we own up to our faults. I believe we need to allow our issues to be used by the Lord, but I don't think this means you have to voluntarily share everything with everyone all at one time. If you are struggling with a private trial, then I don't think you have to step up and share that struggle with the entire world to ensure you are transparent. Share what you feel the Lord is asking you to share, and don't try to cover something up if you're confronted about the issue.  Keeping secrets is a risky business.  You can be open and honest without voluntarily sharing everything in your heart.

On my blog, I tend to share more of my past trials that I've been able to overcome through Christ than the things I'm struggling with right now (although I'll make an exception if I feel the Lord is asking me to share while I'm in the midst of my trial).  The main reason I share as much about my emotions and trials as I have is because I feel like I've messed up a whole lot, but God is able to use the story of my struggles to encourage others. If that's the case, I'm willing to swallow some of my shame and embarrassment to follow what I believe God is asking me to do.

So I don't think we have to share everything with everyone, but I do believe we need to keep our lives open enough to be willing to share something when God asks us to share it. After all, according to Matthew 10, "...nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops..." Eventually all that is hidden will be revealed, so don't desperately rely on the privacy of your secrets. Always keep your mistakes, struggles, and victories open for the Lord to use. :)

Thanks so much for the questions.  :)

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