Faith, Mental Health, Musings

Karitos Retreat 2015


“Hey! How do you get out of here?”


“We don’t. We’re trapped,” I wanted to say.


I never intended to write this blogpost. The title, yes; the content, no. Karitos 2015 was supposed to be a lovely artistic post about all the techniques and spiritual life applications from a gathering of creatives. It wasn’t supposed to be this mess.

But Karitos 2015 wasn’t a conference, it was a retreat. The classes were designed to delve into the creative’s mind and heart, not their skills and art. So unplanned by me, I was faced head-on with my anxiety, that thing that I shouldn’t blog about again so soon because I’d just finished telling everyone about it.


I sat outside the writing room, curled up, begging no one to notice. Hoping that the class had fallen for it when I picked up my phone and ran out, as if I had a call though there was no ringing. And I breathed and cried and hoped to God this wasn’t who I am. Then the girl came up – limping along in an uncertain scurry as if something was chasing her. I’m a mess, but she doesn’t seem too great either. Desperate. I saw it in her eyes. She asked how to exit the building – “How do you get out of here?” – and I told her to turn left and then right. What I wanted to say is “There’s no escape.” That’s what it feels like, and I wonder if she felt it too.


“You cannot manage a life of lies.” — Matt Tommey, #Karitos2015


It struck me. I know. I know that all this pent-up anxiety and fear and panic, it’s lies I somehow believed at the core, that somehow own me at the most inopportune times. And I knew that managing, what I’d been doing for years, wasn’t enough. I would fight this.


But a fight doesn’t look pretty. A fight doesn’t mean as soon as I know the answer it’s all over. And I think that’s what the Christian world pretends, that enlisting in the fight means it’s all perfectly won that instant. Physical illnesses the church can understand if someone believes in healing but isn’t healed. But mental illness and the like, somehow the problem is that the person hasn’t been preached to enough.


In the few short weeks I’ve had a problem large enough to be on medication, to speak out about it, consult others, I’ve been told so many things I never need to hear.


“It’s just fear and lies. Let go of the lie and embrace the truth.”

I hear:

“You’re wrong, you’re believing so many wrong things, and if you just believed right like me, you’d be okay.”


“Be glad you can deal with this now before you’re married with kids. That adds so much more difficulty to bring that into marriage.”

I hear:

“You’re not whole enough for marriage yet, you’re not enough for someone else to take your problems.”


“Take your focus off yourself and praise Jesus. The devil can’t stand praise and will leave.”

I hear:

“You’re so self-centered with your anxiety, unlike us who are able to focus on God just fine.”


Those with anxiety don’t need a sermon, an answer. We have that bottled up within us, terrified to face it yet seeing it every. single. day. When my emotions are in a panic, my thoughts are overrun with dread, and my body experiences chest pain or twitching, the anxiety has taken my mind, emotion, and body, and in that state what more to a person is there? The anxiety is me, it’s all me, is what I believe. And all the while as I scream at myself “BE REASONABLE, AMY” nothing changes. Though it seems controllable, I have no control. Though it seems like it’s all my own doing, I can’t do anything but let it pass. I’m a prisoner to it. I’m fighting, but it’s not me. It’s not me. And that’s what I remind myself every. single. day.


And if anyone feels this way, I just want to take a moment to say what I most need to hear: You’re strong! I see that. That the victory is slow does not mean it’s any less. I hope healing and freedom is instantaneous for you, but if it is not, know this: That you get back up every time to fight, you. are. strong. Keep going. And I’m with you in it.


You Are Strong


I won the battle at Karitos 2015. My unexpected panic attack where things should have been safe, it made me stronger. I’d like to say I won everything, but I’m still getting there. I opened up. I pressed forward. And I will keep on going.


Blog Signature - Crisper

Faith, for the Creatives

Indy Trip 2015: Karitos

Karitos Indy 2015

Karitos brings together artists of all types – musicians, dancers, writers, painters, actors, and everything in between. We have breakout sessions on our area of interest, but all get together for large sessions to be all artsy together. It’s also a Christian conference, so the best part is we learn about glorifying God in and through our art, as well as life. I love that there’s this comraderie of we’re-all-in-this-together instead of a spirit of competition and narcissism (quite common among creatives, even myself.) Such a refreshing retreat! I am mostly writer, so most of the sessions I went to were about writing.

My favorite parts were the general sessions all together, but I appreciated a lot of other parts. I came up with a blogpost idea from Paul Lloyd’s Blogging session. It will be titled “How to Find the Circus.” Be looking for that in the near future 🙂 He also gave lots of ideas for content to publish – I’m toying with the idea of making some vlogs because of his session, even though I’m even less videogenic than I am photogenic. We’ll see.

Leanzar Stockley’s worship session continued his theme from last year, on loving others and reconciliation. He reminded us that our art is for God and others – we dance or write or paint or sing for others.

In Donna Cherry’s “Taking It to the Streets” she said everywhere she goes, she assumes she’s sent. So refreshing to remember wherever I am, God has me there for a reason. Living with expectation. She also talked about a healing that happened through her, though she wasn’t even praying for healing. Just with an unintentional touch. She said we shouldn’t think that God will only work through us when we’re trying to have Him work through us. So true. It made me think of the woman healed by touching Jesus’ cloak. And He said, “Who touched me? I felt power go out from me.” JESUS unintentionally healed, why not us?

Finally, in Tim Swain’s Spoken Word session, it was fun to play with spoken word and presentation – as well as his exortation to make writing excellent, because Christians tend towards “If it’s for God, it doesn’t have to be quality.” Ughhhhh, that’s one lie that irks me from Christian culture. Don’t think that you can slide by in mediocrity because you have the stamp of Jesus approval on your work. Excellence is so key. Tim Swain said, “They’ll respect your art before they respect your message.”

One of my favorite parts of Karitos is getting to know other artists, other stories, other dreams. Here’s Linda Harris-Iorio’s artwork that was displayed and/or painted right there – her connection with God’s heart is so encouraging.


I’m so pumped for the big event – Karitos Retreat in Chicago. Cause one Karitos just isn’t enough 🙂 Come join me! After Karitos ended, we headed to finish our scavenger hunt (come back for tomorrow’s post.)

Central IL

3 Reasons You Should Still Consider Eureka College

Things are heating up in the world of Eurekans, but as of right now mostly only students, staff, and alum are aware of any of it. Eureka College is a small private college with its largest boast probably being the great faculty-student ratio that provides a more personal environment with many leadership opportunities.

There are currently 11 empty faculty positions, 8 of which from this school year and 3 from the year before not being filled. Remember this is a small school, so that’s actually about 25% of faculty. The student paper recently released an article that expressed student’s concerns – with administrative decisions, with the upcoming accreditation review, and with their hopes of graduating without transferring or taking an additional semester due to the potential of certain courses not being offered next fall. This relatively small matter for the college only escalated when a faculty member – acting alone and not from the school’s request – removed any remaining papers from the stand so that the article would not be read. Suddenly social media was abuzz with the debacle – it wasn’t Facebook Trending, but it was My Newsfeed Trending. This wasn’t just an issue of taking the right classes or graduating on time or having an accredited degree; it was an issue of censorship and freedom of the press, and the students made that very clear.


The newspaper article was posted by someone who had grabbed a copy before they were removed, for the dual purpose of letting students read the article, as well as to inform alumni as to the situation. (I for one am very grateful, since I didn’t realize so many faculty were leaving or that there was any concern.) It was then clarified that a faculty member acted alone to remove the paper from circulation and that efforts were now being made to redistribute the newspaper the following week. What could have blown over escalated yet again when a board member posted unprofessional comments I am certain the college could not have approved. This wasn’t just an issue of censorship now; it was an issue of professionalism, basic social media etiquette, and attacking students/faculty. What a PR fiasco.

Sure, there are obvious concerns, for me as an alum, as well as for current and prospective students. Concerns that I believe will be addressed, if for no other reason than because of this situation escalating to such proportions. I want to bring to light the side of this that will probably not be recognized – that this event is the exact reason to consider going to Eureka College.

  1. Students That Care – Maybe it’s the whole Liberal Arts Education thing that makes us outspoken. We don’t stand by and let stuff happen to us, we want to be involved, have an opinion and make it heard. We might be drama queens about it, but in the end I bet you won’t find as many (percentage-wise) students or alum making such a racket over faculty leaving or school politics/administration in general. We want to make a difference, so we won’t be shut up easily.
  2. Great Faculty – If Eureka College had subpar faculty moving on to their next 9-to-5, do you think any students would be in an uproar over a board member calling them troublemakers and liars? I don’t think so. We care, but we care about stuff that matters. And you can bet with this upheaval, that great faculty will be exactly what Eureka College is looking for. Is there a chance you’ll have crap teachers? Of course, there always is, but know at Eureka College, I think the odds are in your favor.
  3. Real-World Experience – I said it before, that Eureka is big on leadership opportunities. That comes with mistakes and successes, with the world being your stage. Here’s a lesson – power of the press. Even more-so now than before, with the digital footprint you leave. You can pull newspapers off a rack, but you can’t delete photos and screenshot comments (what many students did with the board member’s unprofessional comments in case he chose to delete them later.) It’s there for all to see…..forever. We hear it all the time, but now we know it from one crazy personal experience. I bet some people on *both* sides of the issue posted something they will at some point regret….I hope I’m not that person. But it’s a learning experience, to address the big issues and take a stand without regretting words later. Obviously Eureka College did not intend for the lesson to be learned in such a way, but the small-school atmosphere magnifies situations like this. And it’s an excellent learning experience better than any facebook photo of a teacher holding a sign saying “My students don’t believe this will travel very far….share to prove them wrong.”

Calling this a revolution may be a tad exaggerated, but it’s evident that students are rallying for change and information and a voice in their education. I can’t wait to hear from administration on this and have more of a full picture of the situation and what concerns are actually present and what’s hearsay. This appears to have at least the potential for serious repercussions and I hope Eureka College the best, because I really think it is the best school in so many ways. In all the mud-slinging and worry and fear, let’s remember there’s some real positive aspects to what has been dubbed the Eureka Riot of 2015 (remember, we’re a lil dramatic about this stuff.)