Trading Something You Like For Something You Love

I went on a journey to find what I love to do, thinking that my self-worth came from my talent and performance level. I began this search by learning to play the piano when I was 5. I loved it so much. When I was 10, my piano teacher went to college and I fell in love with my new teacher. Her energy and kindness enhanced my life, and she made me feel so confident and special. Although I never practiced, she saw something in me. She saw my maturity and ability to play with emotion. When I did practice, she saw the cleanliness and cohesiveness in my playing. She would tell me that she couldn’t teach my energy, and saw me becoming a professional pianist one day.

But I didn’t see myself that way. Whenever I played a song, it never sounded right to me. Competitions became abrasive until I confidence in me remained. I hated being unable to deviate from the sheet music. So, I started trying new things. I started dance when I was 12. I think I liked the idea of dance more than I liked dance itself. 12-year-old Lea was so self-conscious with her wire glasses and awkward arms, and ballet helped fix my posture. But being stuck in ballet 1 from the start was honestly extremely frustrating as I had no idea where dance would get me in life.

So 8th grade came. I was 13 then, and I decided to start figure skating. I had always loved the way skating made me feel after all. My parents saw that I was starting to lean less and less towards piano and were worried that I would quit and regret it for the rest of my life. So my dad sent my teacher an email, and my teacher responded saying that I was too old to get anywhere with dance, that my only hope was playing the piano.

I was so infuriated. Everyone warned me that I would regret quitting piano because almost everyone quits regrets it. 70 years from now I’m going to look back and everything skating has brought me through, and I won’t regret quitting piano. Instead, I’ll say 2 words. Worth it. So with that, I quit. To me, I had just trashed all of my talent. But little did I know that I had just traded something I liked for something that I would love.

Figure skating. My memories of figure skating consist of beautiful moments full of me falling and getting up again, learning what it truly means to be passionate about something. The rush of the ice is something I greatly miss today. From the clean, crisp sound of landing an axel to spinning so fast that you can’t see anything, skating really enhanced my life. Desperate to prove my piano teacher wrong, I became obsessed with a regiment of stretching and got extremely bendy in a few months time. In 6 months, I was skating at the level most people wouldn’t get to in years. I had 3 amazing friends that I always skated with, and we competed together and told each other everything.

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Then, that summer, I had to test for 4 levels at once. I totally broke down in tears during my Freestyle 4 test. I made my test proctor feel horrible and after the test and she made me repeat the words, “I don’t suck” a few times before passing me. After that, I realized that skating, although amazing, was not going to fill the void in my heart or give me a purpose by any means.

Then I started going to youth group. I hated it at first. Everyone here seems so fake. But I kept going because I had been wanting a place where I could freely ask my questions about God forever. That was the first time I realized that my self-worth came from God. Finally understanding what my life should be about, I got baptized the day after my 14th birthday.


I ended up quitting skating because I wanted to go to Mexicali, and that was the easiest way to pay for my trip. When I got back from the trip I realized that I didn’t need skating in my life anymore. I would take everything I’ve learned about going all in and being insanely passionate about something and apply it to my faith. After making that decision, crazy things started happening to me all the time. In essence, I traded skating for God, something I thought I loved for something I was ecstatic about.

I couldn’t go without physical activity though, so I continued to dance. The day before my algebra 2 final my parents told me not to go to rehearsal, but I went anyways and fractured my foot on a switch leap. I totally failed that final despite studying every day for 2 months, and I had never felt so hindered in my life. But that was the first time I had ever felt peace in my life. No one expected me to do anything because I couldn’t do anything. However, the support I got from everyone blew me away. My dance studio is inside my church, and I woke up on the day of my final with so many people texting me that they were praying. I called my teachers expecting the worst as I couldn’t dance in the recital, but they responded with an unfathomable compassion.

 

before fracturing my foot
I was scared to dance for awhile, but eventually, despite my doctor’s orders to not dance for 6 months, I started again. But all of a sudden I was leaving dance feeling so empty for no reason. When my best friends would take me home, we would just complain about everything we couldn’t do. There were days that it was super fun and I was super close to my dance friends. But then recital happened and I was bawling tears afterward over a misunderstanding because my parents didn’t congratulate me. It was the best recital I had, don’t get me wrong. But instead of celebrating like I had envisioned, I was outside thinking that my parents were still pissed at me for quitting piano and would never be proud of me, with one of my teachers telling me, I went through the exact same thing you did. And the most important thing is not what your parents think of you, but what you think of yourself. It ended up being fine, but it still hurt a lot.

 


So still feeling the weight of piano on my shoulders, I wrote my piano teacher this long message, keeping things as positive as possible. It had been 3 years since I quit. She responded with such love and support that I felt like I could finally pursue whatever I wanted with no more false motives. (I may post something about forgiveness)!

This year, after consulting many of my mentors, I chose to take a year off of dance and youth group to focus on school. As long as you have a place where God is filling you up, and it looks like the hospital is filling you up more than youth group anyways, you don’t need to do everything they told me. I wrote about my experience with that here. I traded dance and youth group, things I liked, for AP chemistry, a class that taught me so much more than dance and youth group would’ve ever taught me combined. This I find weird because school is a worldly thing, and school grows my faith so much.

So here we are towards the end of my junior year. Next year I will have time to have a life again and will need to decide whether I want to go back to certain things or try new things. When I look back, I never hated piano. I just hated myself, and how I played. I loved skating and I was good at it but was insecure about it anyways. Not dancing this year has brought me closer to God, because dance was the last thing I was holding onto as a clutch and putting before him. I think we tend to be insecure about the things we are best at. This is why we must always seek God first because he knows us best.

This is just a piece of my journey. But what I’ve learned from all of this is that God will never make you give up something you like if he doesn’t have something greater and more amazing in store. =)

 

30 Random Facts About Me 

1. The picture looks like I’m swimming somewhere really cool when it’s really the creek behind my neighborhood.

2. I am a complete chemistry nerd.


3. My parents grew up on an island in the middle of nowhere called Mauritius, right next to Madagascar.

4. I just deleted my Instagram (will probably post more about that)!

5. Once upon a time I was doing cartwheels in my backyard and forgot to put my hands down, and now I can do aerials! This video is from a while ago.


6. I used to play piano for 8 years (I might write a post about my journey with finding what I love to do hehe).

7. I also used to figure skate! Figure skating was amazing.


8. I LOVE to write. Obviously. I’ve been keeping journals since I was in 5th grade.

9. Walruses are one of my favorite animals of all time.

10. The only thing I know how to draw = cats.

11. I love climbing trees.

12. I love learning about new cultures. 

13. I love biking.


14. I thrift literally everything.

15. I live in California 🙂

16. One day I want to lead worship.

17. Dream job: a doctor who is extremely God loving and compassionate.

18. I made the speech team when I was in 8th grade! You can read about that here.

19. I nearly failed algebra. And we’re in calculus now, so we’re doing pretty good 🙂

20. I love making jars for people’s birthdays.


21. I’ve been on 2 super amazing mission trips to Mexico. I wrote about the second one Here: if you want me to write about the first one let me know!

22. Middle school was not my finest time.

23. I’m a horrible test taker.

24. I try to be gentle but I trip over everything.

25. I’m allergic to dogs, cats, and bunnies. I can still pet most dogs though without getting a rash!


26. I was born with eczema.

27. I donated my hair once!


28. I got a tiny hairline fracture in my ankle from falling on a switch leap the night before my algebra 2 final freshman year. But I don’t know if that counts as breaking a bone!

29. God has been a part of my life since I was 5.

30. Every day I am slowly learning to see myself the way God sees me.

If any of you can relate to any of those, let me know that I’m not the only one! Also let me know if there is anything you’d like to see me write about more! And if you want to leave your blog link too, I’d love to get to know you guys too. Get excited because I have new posts planned for y’all every weekend. Most of them will be pretty deep.  🙂

To The Greatest Mom Out There 

Dear mom, 

I want you to know that I see you. I see your efforts. Quite frankly I am not the best at life, and am often too ungrateful and too mad at myself for being so ungrateful. But I am grateful for what you do. I see your efforts in taking care of me and my diet, fighting all the doctors with me, fighting all the temptations. Sometimes I wish it was as easy for me as it was for you, which is why I continue to need you to encourage me when I mess up. The truth is every time I slip up, I feel it so deeply on the inside. Every time I say something I didn’t mean to you I want to apologize so bad, but I can’t because I’m just so mad at myself for never being able to say anything right or do anything right. I am humbling myself right now before you because I am so unworthy of your love. But I love you so much more than you could ever imagine. 

People always tell me, “You must have amazing parents, because you are an amazing person.” When I look back at everything I’ve gone through, I realize that you were hurting every time I was hurting, and that you’ve taken more of my crap than I could ever imagine. In the moment, when people tell me that, I laugh. I laugh because every day is a journey of me failing to honor my parents, and somehow by God’s mercy I am still turning out okay. The truth is your opinion has always meant the most to me. Everyone can tell me I’m amazing and if I don’t have that approval from you, I will never learn to see myself in a healthy. So please, do not minimize your role in my life, ever. It is huge, and I need you so much, every day, all the time. 

During church today when the pastor dude said, “Any negative word that has ever been spoken over you is broken right now,” I hoped that we could work towards not bringing up the past. Every family drives each other insane at some point, but perhaps we can learn to forgive each other and support one another fully. Can we make this right? Can we agree to have more grace for each other? 

Thank you for understanding all the struggles of being a girl. Thank you for sewing that blue skating costume for me when I thought figure skating would solve all my life problems. Thank you for buying my dance shoes and my skating costumes. Thank you for being at my piano concerts, even when it hurt the most. Thank you for never believing all my complaints about my lack of intelligence. Thank you for making the most bomb, gluten-free banana pie. Thank you for feeding me soup that one I time I was so incredibly sick, for cutting my hair (even though I was crying the entire time), and covering me in baking soda when my eczema got so bad. Thank you for letting me go to Churchill in middle school. Thank you for seeking God, for texting me verses, and for leaving work early to get me from school. You deserve a lot more credit than you get, and I know that perhaps it seems your efforts have no reward. But you will be rewarded, because God sees your efforts too and is so proud of you. 
You are the greatest mom I could ever have. I hope you remember that God put you in my life because he knew that you were exactly the person I needed to raise me. No other parent would be right for me.  

“Start children the way they should go and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”- Proverbs 22:6 

So I need to work towards honoring you better. Which means I am asking you for continuous grace, every day.

Happy Mother’s Day! I love you soo sooo sooooo much. 💜 hope you liked the dinner we made you today haha 🙂 

Why I Don’t Wear Makeup // What My Mom Taught Me 

I am sadly still that 16 year old girl who doesn’t own her own mascara. And it’s not because I’m confident in my own skin. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m a beautiful person. However, I don’t think I’m pretty. Eczema and red patches everywhere is definitely not pretty. But they are beautiful for sure! 

But in this day in age girls are always looking so flawless with their eyebrows and lashes on fleek. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing makeup if you love it and wear it for you, but since I don’t wear makeup and everyone else does, I create an unrealistic expectation of beauty for myself when I compare myself to all these girls with bold eyes and clear skin. That is the issue for me. Honestly, I don’t think you can compare your beauty to anyone regardless of how much makeup you wear. God made you so unique and beautiful. There is no amount of makeup you can wear that will make you any more beautiful than you already are, because God already sees you as the most beautiful girl ever. But God created makeup too. He created everything in this world for you and me, because he knew we would see his creations and think they’re pretty cool. And that is why I personally become upset when people shame others for wearing makeup. It’s not right to assume that everyone who wears makeup is insecure. Because I think being good at makeup is a God given talent like any other, and God uses everything, even beauty. 

My mom was never a huge makeup wearer. Whenever I bring my friends over, they think she’s so nice. They see her heart first. And that is one thing I am grateful that my mom taught me: it’s not about being pretty. It’s about being pretty amazing, pretty intelligent, pretty beautiful. She taught me to have fun getting dressed up for recitals and such, but not to obsess over it and to separate looks over character. When I volunteer in the hospital, nobody cares about how disheveled my hair is, but they do see a girl with a genuine heart and smile, kindly listening to what her patients have to say. 

For me, the reason why I don’t wear makeup is because I’m simply not ready yet. I’m not confident enough running around with my bare face to be confident running around with an enhanced bare face. I don’t know if I ever will be. Learning to see yourself the way God sees you proves to be one really long journey. But I also know that if I don’t want to wear makeup I shouldn’t have to. Not wearing makeup is honestly so nice. For now, I will only wear makeup when my friends do mine for me for special events. Maybe when I go to college I’ll buy my own mascara. But I want to be confident in my inward beauty first before I start wearing makeup on a daily basis. Or maybe one day I will become so confident in my inward beauty that I won’t care about wearing makeup anyways. 

 

The Perfect Church

I want to address the issue of finding the perfect church and share what I’ve been going through on my journey trying to find the right church for me. I think that as important as it is to find a church full of healthy relationships where God fills you up and speaks to you, it is easy to get caught up in trying to find the “perfect” church. And I think that is dangerous. With unrealistic expectations, it is impossible to be content anywhere. I also feel like I need to write about this because I feel a sense of stigma when people talk about switching churches or visiting new churches, calling it “church hopping.”

I love visiting new churches. It’s always so reaffirming to see how all of my friends worship God in their different environments. I went to Mexico with the church all the Christian club students at my school go to, and I went to Hume lake with them. So I’m known there, and although I don’t go there regularly I am always welcome and loved there. Being known in my home church, Fremont, and the church I’m currently exploring, Jesus Culture, is amazing. It’s crazy to know that if I were to roll into any one of those churches at any time, I will belong. There was no way I could attend Fremont regularly because it was so far from my house. But the leaders still invested in me. At Hume lake, they prayed that I would find the right church for me. A few months after Hume Lake, me and my best friend, Josephine, rolled into Jesus Culture on a random whim. We both left in tears. 

I thought it would be interesting to visit their high school group so I crashed it. They had these students from Bethel visiting the youth group on a mission trip because we needed Jesus. They were giving random people in the room prophetic words.  This one bethel student singled out a guy asking him, “Do you write music by any chance?”

And he replied, “Um, yeah. I actually submitted a song 2 weeks ago.”

And then the bethel student proceeded to speak life into him as a musician, encouraging him to pursue the amazing gift God had given him. Mind blown.

And then I got singled out. This is what was said:


I started crying.

Afterwards, I met so many people who were so encouraging, so kind, I felt like I had finally found a place in which everyone was just as passionate as me. And I’ve only been to JC 4 times, but it never fails to disappoint. I leave so revitalized, so full.

But today I went back to my home church. And my goodness, I’ve missed it. I got to see people that I haven’t seen in so long, people that I’ve been praying for, and all my mentors who are always praying for me. I got to see someone that I have been praying relentlessly for doing so much better and it made me so happy. I got to hug my favorite twins and my beloved prayer partner Barbs. So now I’m torn. I love both churches. How am I supposed to figure out which one is the perfect church for me? Am I supposed to give my home church a chance again or move on?

“You don’t need to figure anything out,” Michele replied, “God will figure it out for you.”

I don’t know where God is going to take me. So far, he seems to be casually bringing me to random places on spontaneous whims in which the most amazing things happen to me. To me, the perfect church is one in which I leave every week in extreme awe of God. It’s a church that I know everyone in, where I can inspire others with my experiences as well as be inspired by everyone else’s. It’s a church in which everyone sings extremely loud, where the person sitting next to you is instantly your new friend. My perfect church is one where people see straight through my smile when I’m hurting, a place where God sees me and finds me every single time.

But my hope is that I would not become overly critical of different kinds of churches because we need conservative churches and not conservative churches. We need small churches and big churches, Presbyterian churches, and Evangelical churches. In the end, we are chasing after Jesus, not a denomination of faith or the interior design of a building. We are learning to trust fully in him, and we need to help each other. We need to be supportive of one another when experiencing roadblocks in our faith because growing in our faith sometimes requires finding the right church. And finding the right church usually requires change. So we must encourage one another to step out of our comfort zones in whatever church God may be calling us to in which we are too afraid to embrace.

 

Anyways, there is no perfect church. Churches are run by imperfect humans, and we fall short in trying to love everyone and meet everyone’s needs. I think it’s important to know that wherever we go, God will always find us. In reality, there is only one church. No matter what church we go to, Christians should build one another up. Our true home is in heaven, in God’s arms. To anyone who has ever felt misplaced by the church, you are not alone. You do belong. You do not belong in this earthly mess, but you do belong to Him.

So maybe running after the perfect church is the wrong mindset. I think we are supposed to run after Jesus, and he will lead us to the church he needs us to be at. So we keep praying and praying, accepting that God often tends to lead us in really uncomfortable places. Please be praying that I will listen carefully to God over the next few weeks and will be able to discern for sure exactly which church God needs me to be. =)

What Isn’t Ours to Carry 

By your spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat, the resurrected king is resurrecting me…”

I wonder how much of what weighs me down isn’t mine to carry. 

Easter was 2 weeks ago. That was the day of the great exchange, where Jesus took our sins upon himself and in return instilled in us his righteousness. Now, if we believe that he is alive we also believe that we are alive. And if he is alive, we should be living our lives like he is alive. We should live knowing that we are loved and enough. We should live like we’re set free.

Then why is it that we still carry so much bondage with us? He has forgotten our past, so why do we still feel guilty? It’s like there are demons trapped inside our heads wanting to keep us stuck in our ruts of sin and negativity. There are voices in our heads telling us that we are failures, that we have to be stunning and amazing in order to be worth something when we are already worth so much simply as ourselves. Jesus paid an unimaginable price for us on the cross, making our beauty indescribable. There is no room here for guilt and shame. It doesn’t matter how hard you work because the biggest challenge is letting down your pride and realizing that your hard work will never amount to the amazing things God has in store for you. 

He promises peace and prosperity. We don’t need to conquer our fears, because he already did. We have every reason to live with our heads here high, even when walking through floods and fires. He’s going to give us the tools we need to get through this. Our joy should look something like this: 

 

Or this:


Yet we often forget and lose sight of where we’re going. We still feel broken and empty, because we are human. Our bondage and fears consume us, and we take our eyes off of God. When we try to do it all by ourselves, we look like this: 


So what do you need to lay down today? 

Dear God,

I want to believe that my intelligence comes from you. I want to believe that I can ace these AP exams and finals by myself, with my own hard work. But I am learning that on my own my intelligence cannot sustain itself, and if I am ever going to get anywhere in life I need to rely solely on you. 

So for the millionth time, I am laying down my future. I am laying down my past failures and scars. They are not mine to carry. As the next few weeks become hectic, help me to know that my performance on these tests are not mine to carry either. When I look in the mirror, help me to not see who I am and what I’ve done, but who you are and everything you’ve done for me. 

💜


The Reason Why I Smile: Part 2 

Today I got my braces off.

This is me. No makeup, no filters. I have a real smile. It’s not perfect. My gums need some work, and they weren’t able to fix my overbite completely because I am missing a tooth in the front and trying to bring my overbite any further would mess up the sides. But I really don’t care.

This is the girl who got an F on her last AP Chem test. But she walks into that class early in the morning before class starts to get help, smiling because she knows she is going to learn something and leave that room a little less confused. She manages to pick herself up and start over again no matter how frustrating it gets.

This is the girl who dances at school and does ballet in the hallways. She enjoys texting people inspiration and petting fluffy dogs. She sings worship songs really loud, and is honestly always really loud. She loves giving people hugs and doing the crab with arms.

She loves volunteering at the hospital. She’d probably rather volunteer than go to prom, and since her parents won’t let her go to prom that is probably what she is going to do. There will always be patients to talk to and errands to run there coupled with laughter and inspiration. Some of the nurses don’t get why I’m so happy to be there all the time, but it seriously makes my day so much better.

She is scarred. I was reading my diary from 7th grade and I couldn’t believe how hard middle school was for me. I can’t really believe that I really struggled that much and felt so hopeless so young. But I wouldn’t be who I am today if I never went through that. Those scars are just another reason to smile because God has brought me through so much.

But she is genuine. She pours pieces of herself into everyone she meets, an open book with nothing to hide. And she is beautiful.

I found a picture of something my Algebra teacher from 7th grade wrote in my makeshift yearbook. She always reminded me that I wasn’t alone, and I loved her so much. 

I guess my smile has always been a part of me. Reading my old diaries makes me realize that I’ve always been an anxious kid with extreme test anxiety and maybe a low-key panic disorder. I was so depressed back then, but God was just beginning to create something amazing out of me. I wasn’t supposed to pass algebra, but I made it to calculus through tears, mercy and grace.  When I smile, I don’t realize it. I don’t ever notice how much God has been working in me from the beginning either.
God, whether I’m broken or not I will always smile. My smile will forever be a reflection of you.