Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Darkness

I wrote this poem as a reaction to the rest of the world. It seems these days, for believers especially, that we are surrounded by darkness that is trying to suck us in,  and telling us that everything we believe is wrong. I reject this wholeheartedly. I, for one know the truth, and refuse to be silenced, shut down, or told to be quiet. I refuse to be blinded by the darkness. Do you?

The Darkness
In this fallen world
the darkness surrounds.
Suffocating, smothering,
reaching its cold, dead fingers around
to strangle that last bit of light,
that single drop of goodness out.
The  Pain.
It scratches and tears,
and rips apart from the inside out,
stopping only to give the hope that it will end,
only to come back as avid as ever,
but more painful than before.
The Silence.
Ears slowly going deaf from disuse,
not a single note, nor tone, nor lone voice crying out
for the fear of being heard.
The fear that silences us all.
This darkness does not relent,
this darkness consumes.
Not some things, but all things;
every last happy thought,
no more smiles, no more laughter.
Every vivid hue is sucked into the black abyss that is
this darkness.
And so I wait.
I will smile, I will laugh,
I will anticipate the glorious return of the Light.
I will not cower behind others, doubting a savior.
I will stand boldly,
knowing that mine has come and will come once more.
Many are blinded by the dark, and stumble along
the continuous path to pain, to misery,
to destruction; to death.
But I saw.
I  refused to be blinded, and I chose.
I chose to love the light,
instead of worshiping
The Darkness.

-Rebecca Zachry

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

10 Things I Learned in Public High School

I've been in the public school system since kindergarten, and since June 5th, I've been officially done. That's right, I've officially graduated high school, and I cant tell you how glad i am that its over. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad. It was... an adventure of sorts. There were many different experiences, opportunities, and friendships I would've missed out on if I hadn't attended public high school. And thus, I give to you, what I've learned in my experience with public high school.
During graduation, sitting with my fellow class officers.

1) Being yourself doesn't always fit a mold, and finding who you are can take a while. A very long while. Any one who has known and somehow tolerated me over the last, well, decade, can tell you that i have gone through many many various personality "trends" as I like to call them. The concept of fitting in is oftentimes extremely important to the teenager's mind, as it was for me, starting in middle school. I've been the "omigosh I'm so random rawr means I love you in dinosaur lololol" phase, the agnsty teen, pseudo "emo" phase, the fake redneck "cant you tell how much i love country music" phase, the "I'm too cool for any of this crap" phase, and countless others before I really stopped caring what people thought of me, and decided to be who i actually am, regardless of whether or not i fit in with anyone else.

2) Taking risks and trying new things is the only way to find out what you really like. During my  high school experience, I've been a part of many  different clubs, ranging from marching band and drama club, to technology students association. I knew that I loved music and drama, but I didn't think I would like TSA (or "nerd club") until I joined it, but i really did love it. I even placed first in state last year for building a little CO2 dragster. There were certainly things that I tried and didn't like, but if you never try, you'll never know.
The cast of the 2015 Seaford Drama Club's production of "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" I played Olive :)

3) Time management. So much time management. This is even still a thing I suck at. I had to deal with this quite a bit my senior year of high school. I was balancing a job, all IB classes, homework, band, drama club, my relationships with family, friends, and God, and so many more other things. somehow, magically, I pulled it off. I graduated with all A's and 6th in my class. I can not tell you enough how important prioritizing and time management really is. Seriously.

4) Friendships (like  any relationships) take work. I was blessed with a network of very diverse, very loving friends. Something that most people find out in a hurry is that in any  kind of relationship, each person needs to be giving 100%  into that friendship. any less from either side, and no one  will be happy. Friendships also entail a lot of forgiveness. I cant tell you how difficult it is to be "holding a grudge" on someone who is in all  of your classes, sits next to you in most of them, is your lab partner, is also working with you on that one project for history... the list goes on. In my friendships, i try as hard as I can to be quick at forgiveness, and I also try to be easy to forgive. True friendships are important. I was lucky to have a group of people who had my back no matter what. Also, don't freak out if you don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend. I've never had one, and honestly,  aside from the fact that there was really no one I could see myself being in a relationship with anyway, I don't really care about it all that much. Its just not  something that's super important to me right now. Odds are that it would be overt in a few months anyway, and it was just un-needed stress I didn't need or want in my life. Also don't flip out if you don't have a date to homecoming dances or prom or anything; in my experience, its way more fun to go with friends :)
Some of my friends and I, waiting to graduate.

One of my best friends (my "date" to prom) and me. We had fun :)

5) For the most part, your teachers do not hate you, and they probably don't wish to see your ultimate demise. probably. Most teachers, while they may seem sadistic, and you may imagine them rubbing their hands together and maniacally laughing in a dark corner, they aren't actually jumping for joy at your pain and misery. While some of the work they may give you seems like enough to drive you to the brink of insanity, it is more than likely meant to help you. Or fill up their need for a lesson plan. But that's not my point. I found that especially in my senior year, most, if not all or my teachers were really looking out for me,were very encouraging, and wanted more than anything to see us succeed. I had teachers who would routinely make my class brownies (amazing brownies that I could consider getting fat off of), write "happy notes" of encouragement for each individual student, let us rant to them about the injustice of cafeteria food and math homework, and a few teachers that at some times (usually just when you needed it) seemed more like a friend. Teachers are people, too, and deserve to be treated like it.
Me and my band director after my last concert

6) Being in charge is not always fun. I was in high school marching band for the entire time I was in high school, and for 3 of those 4 years, I was the drum major. For those of you who don't know, drum major is the next step down in authority from the actual adults in charge of the band. I conducted at all the football games, including stand music, I helped run rehearsals, and helped keep thee band in line in general. While I enjoyed it immensely, it wasn't always fun. I had alot of close friends in band, and sometimes it was hard being a figure of authority for your friends and peers. Leadership is difficult, and not something to be taken lightly.
Band prayer and group hug; our tradition before each game

Me (in white drum major uniform) and the band :)

7) You won't always get what you want, or what you were promised, or what you deserve. No matter how hard you work , how much effort you put into something, or how many times you were told something, the fact remains that *newsflash* life inst fair. Heard it before? Every one's grading scale is different, no one ever thinks the same way, and many, many times, you wont get what you deserve, and neither will anyone else. Its something you learn to accept and live with, no matter what kind of injustice you may or may not be facing, and no matter how difficult some people may be.

8)  How you look does not define you, and neither does what people say about you. It does not matter if you are bigger or smaller, short, tall, classically "pretty" or not, none of it matters. What really matters is whats on the inside, how you act, and the fact that you are a creation of your heavenly father, made perfectly, beautifully, and for a purpose. The only person on this earth who can define  who you are, is yourself. Even if  there  are false  rumors gong around, if people talk about you behind your back, if people lie, the only way possible for what they say to define you is if you let it.

9) Don't let peer pressure change what you believe. All too many times I'd see people go back on or go against what they believe, just because it wasn't "cool", or their friends didn't believe the same thing. Worse than that, I'd see people leading almost a double life, carefully acting one way around their friends and then turning around and being a completely different person around their family, other friends,  or religious group. Personally, I have always tried to hold firm in my beliefs, and not compromise them for the sake of trying to look cool. My beliefs are a very large and important part of who I am, and I decided a long time ago not to hide that from anyone.

10) Having a good support system can mean the difference between ultimate success, and epic failure. I cant stress this enough, having people too support you is probably one of the most important thing you can have. I was blessed to have my wonderful family and friends that would always be there for me, listen to my delusional  ranting, help me when i needed it the most, and keep me in check. While there is something  to be said about keeping  yourself accountable, it always helps  to have a group off people here to help keep you in line and  together. I really  don't think I could've gotten through anything without my friends,  family, and most importantly  God.
Me and my family after  graduation

Me and  my sister after graduation

While there were many undesirable parts of my time in public high school, for the most  part, the good outweighed the bad. I had a pretty good time in high school; i learned few things, tried new awesome hobbies and clubs, met some pretty awesome people, played new music, learned how the world works, and so many other things. It wasn't all bad at all. However, given the choice, and taking into account my past experiences,  if I ever get  married and have kids, I'm  going to home school them. I will not, however, ever forget the short 4 years (as long as it may have seemed) in public highhschool.

Monday, March 9, 2015

What Changed My Life

During the course of our lives, many, if not most people will experience that one defining moment or experience that will change them completely. This moment could be almost anything, but for a lot of people, the effect is the same. A realization, a complete turn around; something that leaves you with a new and more certain sense of who you are and what you were designed to do. I recently had one of these experiences; a missions trip to Costa Rica.

Its been a few weeks since I've gotten back, and ever since I have, my mom has been telling me that I need to write a blog post about it; either on my blog, or on hers (a little shameless advertising here, her blog is, and you should totally check it out 'cause its pretty awesome). So here it is; this is how my life changed.

First off, I want to talk about the amazing leadership and teachings we had. All of the leaders were wonderful; all of them were so supportive, knowledgeable, wise, inspiring, motivational, loving, and just all around amazing people. They, individually and as a whole, taught us all so much in those short 10 days. The main theme that was kept constant during the course of the trip was leadership; how to be an effective leader, what is keeping us from becoming the leader we are meant to be, and (the most dreaded by almost all) public speaking. I think the part of the teachings, and the trip that hit pretty hard was when we talked about the lies we believe about ourselves that are keeping us from reaching our full potential as a leader, and worst of all, keeping us from God. We didn't just write them down, no, we talked to each other about them, we recognized them as lies, and rebuked them. They left us. It really made an impact on me, and I'm probably going to do a whole other blog post on it at some other time in order to do the whole idea and experience justice.
Listening to an amazing teaching 

      We did a lot of activities while we were in Costa Rica. We toured an organic cacao plantation, where the owner's goal is to run his business as he thinks God wants him to, we painted a fence for a little school building, and yes, we did go to the beach.These experiences did highly contribute to my experience as a whole, and I would be more than happy to elaborate on anything if anyone has any questions. Those times gave me the opportunity to take everything in, think about what was happening around me, and get to know and grow closer to a wonderful group of people, each of whom I love very much. However, as life changing as that may have been, the real moments that changed my life were still yet to come.
Touring the cacao farm

learning how to make chocolate :)

At the beach with some wonderful  people :)

     My first moment was when we went to the Indigenous village. As we stepped off the tractor and said hello to Pablo the monkey (yes, you read that right), I knew I was in for something, I just wasn't sure what. After leading praise, worship, and dancing for a seemingly unresponsive crowd, we began to pass out food bags and bibles to the villages inhabitants. Then came the fun part; passing out toys and school supplies to the village's children. This experience alone probably could have been enough to change my life, all by itself. The looks of pure joy on the children's faces when you hand them a tooth brush, or a pencil are enough to break my heart. But I loved it. And then I saw an older lady sitting on a bench, hunched over and reading intently one of the copies of the Spanish bibles we brought for them. At that moment, my heart was crying. Crying from joy and from sorrow, from the fact that these people had so little, but realizing that this only meant that we had so much more we could give them, including God's word and loving-kindness. But that was just the beginning.
The tractor we took up to the village

Pablo the monkey, climbing on my friend Noah

A little boy from the village who.... really liked those pens :)

Passing out food bags

TThe food bags and Bibles all lined up

Worship team :)

Children from the village watching us dance

My next moment came on my birthday. We had gone to Bri Bri to an elderly peoples home. I later learned that most of the ladies and gentlemen who live there are there because they were abandoned by their families. After we sang and danced for and with them (some of them loved the music and dance so much they wanted to join in!), we handed out coffee, cake, and simple little presents. There were many of the same reactions that I had seen before, but something else really struck me. While I was there, I met a wonderful lady named Clara. Clara had been staying there for a number of years, and was able to speak some English. The thing that really stood out to me is that even when we couldn't understand each other because of the language barrier, she still really wanted to talk to me. All off the people there did; even though hardly anyone in our group (with the exception of a few awesome people) spoke Spanish, Clara and all the rest of the people there would still try in earnest to communicate with us. They wanted and needed our attention. I saw that we could give these people so much more than just material possessions; we could give them attention, time, a sense of devotion, and the love that they craved and so desperately wanted. And better yet, we could let the light and the love of God reflect through us, so that these lovely people could better see it for themselves.
Me and my friend Rachel talking to Clara
Painting Clara's nails :)

Worship team in Bri Bri

Dancing for the nursing home :)

My third and last moment, as well as probably my favorite day of the trip was at the orphanage. I was told that this orphanage is well funded; there was enough room for everyone, they had enough food and clothing to go around, and their living conditions were pretty decent. When we got there, we took a tour of some of the houses that the kids lived in, and then we had a while to play with them (or if you are me, hold an adorable baby) before we passed out cake and ice cream and started praise and worship. After we got done playing music for them, we danced with and for them, which they really enjoyed, and I had the opportunity to dance with an adorable little girl who later came to hug me goodbye. Then came the passing out of gifts and school supplies. It was the same scene as before; children crowding around, squealing out of joy and excitement from receiving some pencils, a note pad, and a small thing of bubbles. It wasn't this that got me though. What really got me was how these kids and teenagers had created such a sense of togetherness and family even though they had none. Even though many of them still had a desperate need for outside attention and affection, it was amazing to see how they made the most of their situation and learned and grew to love each other like one massive family. It really opened my eyes to how grateful I should be. I have a family who loves me, a roof over my head, plenty of food, more of everything else than I could ever possibly need, and God, who loved me enough before I was even born to send His son to die for me; I have no right to complain about anything  at all.
Dancing for the kids at the Orphanage

Lining up to play a game :)

Some cuties from the orphanage :)

These experiences clearly have changed me. I no longer care about the selfish desires or plans I had made for myself before I went on this life changing adventure. I don't know how much of an effect I had on anyone I came into contact with while I was there, but even if I only truly touched one person's life, every bit of it was worth it. I've decided to no longer rely on myself anything, really, because after coming back I've realized that the only thing that truly matters is my reliance on God. I so truly believe this and have been effected so much by this experience that I have decided (and hope I will be able) to go to missionary training camp next year through one of the trips leaders ministries (Crucified Life Ministries, if you were interested). I cant tell you in words how truly happy I am that I took the leap and jetted off to a foreign country by myself, or how much God has shown me in doing it, but I hope to have given you at least a taste of the experience that changed my life.
"Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works amoung all peoples!" 
Psalm 96:3
"We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault in our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We paitently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind."
2 Corinthinans 6:3-4
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8

"Failed" jumping picture at the beach with some awesome people
Photo creds for this post go to basically everyone except me. Yupp. I was lazy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

... So What's Next?

     I recently came home from a missions trip in Costa Rica. The whole experience was life changing; never before have I learned so much, felt so close to God, and gotten so close to such a wonderful group of people in such a short time before. However, now that I'm back, everything seems so much more... mundane.
Ever since I arrived back in the US, I've been asking myself "what am I doing here?" "Is this really what I'm supposed to be doing?" And most frequently, "what now?"

     You see, as you may or may not know, I am going to be graduating high school this year, which means I have to make some decisions. Decisions like "what do I want to do with the rest of my life?" And more importantly, "what does God want me to do with the rest of my life?" Now putting aside the ridiculous notion that you are expected to make these major life decisions at the ripe old age of 18, I began to realize that everything I had been trying to organize for my future seemed... unimportant. Uninspired. Only of me. I don't want that.

     I realize now that I shouldn't be trying to plan my own future. God has already done that. I just need to be listening. Sure my everyday small town life might seem a bit (OK a lot) boring, but if I'm here, God has to have a reason for it. I just need to be praying, reading, and listening intently to find what that reason is. I recently found a quote and a bible verse pertaining to this exact topic, so I'm gonna leave you with this: " There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." -C.S Lewis. Considering what I just left behind, I'm pretty excited!
     "'For I know what plans I have in mind for you' says Adonai, 'plans for well being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11