Diamonds 2020: Interview w/Sara Willoughby

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I have two chronic diseases.

I’ve shared slightly on my blog about my health, and the problems that it gives me, but I’ve mostly talked about my mental health, which I’ve been realizing stems from my physical health. But today I’m going to talk quickly about my own problems with my physical health, before interviewing Sara. I deal with asthma and life-threatening allergies.

My asthma keeps me from doing a lot I want to do, because if I sing a whole song, I’m winded, and when you can’t breathe, you grow so tired. (The past few weeks, I’ve had to swallow my pride and just realize that I can only sing one song at church, instead of all five.) My allergies keep me from a lot I want to do as well. My symptoms flare if I even smell seafood, so I’m unable to go to many restaurants, and even some church functions because I just can’t be around seafood.

So when I found Sara Willoughby’s ministry, it just helped me understand more about my illness and accepting that I can serve God and others while taking care of my body.

Because going from a healthy child, to a teenager with problems that stop me from living a “normal” life has been hard. It’s been hard to accept that I do need to take care of my physical health, and to understand what taking care of myself looks like.

This weekend is the Diamond’s conference, which is an online conference for Christians with chronic diseases and illnesses. And oh my. The sessions I’ve listened to so far have been so good and encouraging.

So today I’m honored to be able to interview Sara! Thank you so much, Sara, for your ministry, for this conference, and for coming on Crazy A today. 🙂 My questions are bold, and her answers are regular text.

1. From my understanding, you were a healthy child, and at the age of fourteen you became sick and just never got better. Did you deal with depression during that time? Was it hard to trust God?
 
Yes to both. At first, I experienced the usual despair that comes from having hopes crushed again and again with each misdiagnosis. That was bad enough. But eventually, as I got sicker, I also had deep depression brought on by the brain damage my illness caused. Those were some of my darkest moments, and I felt like I was failing as a Christian.  I definitely had many a moment when I struggled to trust God. I continually asked Him “Why me? Why did you allow this? When will this end?” Honestly, that’s one reason I ended up clinging to the song “Diamonds” by Hawk Nelson. It spoke of the purpose God has in pain, and I remember one day, in particular, kneeling in the kitchen home alone at a friend’s house, scream-sob-whispering the lyrics over and over again. Chronic illness brings so many unknowns, and it is so hard to not know what you’re going to face tomorrow. But while I sometimes struggled to believe it, my comfort was that God was in control and that He loved me. 

2. When you were so extremely sick, what was one thing that kept you going?
 
 God is the one who kept me going in a thousand ways. Every time I would be on the verge of giving up or at one of my worst moments, I would get an email or text or hug or flowers would bloom on the bush outside my window, and I would be encouraged to hang on for just a little longer. My family also kept me alive by doing all the practical things for me when I could no longer take care of myself.
 
3. Your ministry and testimony is so very encouraging to so many people dealing with long-term illnesses. If you could tell fellow Christians dealing with illnesses one sentence, what would it be?
 
Aw, thanks, I’m honored God is using my story. I would tell them, “You are not alone, God’s grace is sufficient for you, and this won’t last forever.”
 
4. When it comes to sports, and outside activities, does your health limit you? How do you deal with those limitations?
 
My health does limit me. Before I got sick, I was an athlete. I lived in the Pacific Northwest and I loved to run, hike, swim, and play flag football or paintball or capture the flag with my siblings and the neighborhood kids. We had so much fun. But when I got sick I could no longer do those things. It was incredibly hard, sitting on the sidelines, watching my friends laugh and run and play. As my health has improved over the last year, I’ve had to learn to “play” again and let myself join in the fun. I still can’t play organized sports and I still can’t run, but I try to participate however I can, even if that means being creative with the rules or games. And when I can’t participate, I find another activity to enjoy that doesn’t require as much physical exertion.
 
5. A lot of people pray for healing from their illnesses, and can be discouraged when it seems that God isn’t answering, or at least, isn’t answering in the way they expected. Did you ever experience that? And if so, what are some words of encouragement for those Christians? 
 
You’re asking some super deep questions! 🙂 I did experience it. All throughout my illness people have prayed for me, laying hands on me, commanding the illness to leave my body, praying over me in tongues, anointing me with oil — but my healing didn’t come. And when I finally did start to get a little better, it happened very slowly in the most mundane way possible. When people had prayed for me in the past, I often felt a whispering in my soul that God was going to heal me. But there was no instantaneous healing. Eventually, I realized that God was using my illness and my slow healing for His glory and my good. It was not at all what I imagined, but I finally saw that He was using my story to encourage others. So if someone reading this is struggling with God not answering your prayers for healing, please be encouraged that He does have a plan in this too. It isn’t pleasant being sick, but Him not answering your prayers the way you want Him to doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. God can use illness and your reliance on Him for His glory and to shape you into a diamond.

 

Thank you so much, Sara! And I think that is so beautiful. That God will use the pain, the forgetfulness, the pain, to give Him glory, and to shape us into a beautiful diamond. That also follows the idea that God will refine us into a brighter kind of gold.

Keep pushing forward and wait on the Lord, for as Isaiah 40:30-31 says, “Even youths shall faint and grow weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

~~Amie~~

Pananaw (or otherwise known as banananananananw)

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Today is a special day on the blog.  I’m here with two very important people.  (Though one’s more important than the other.  [sorry, Dareine.])  The blog, Pananaw is being launched! I’m so excited for Jo and her new endeavor, and so I asked her to come onto my blog and have a cup of tea.

Before I have her on, I do suppose I must introduce this weirdo.  (Don’t be offended, Jo.  I call the people I like weirdos.  It’s my way of saying I like you.  😂)

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Can we just admire how cute her little staticy baby hairs are?  Honestly, this picture is just so amazing.  😂 Anyway, I should let Jo in.  She’s standing out there, waiting.

*coughs* So, welcome, Jo! Do you enjoy sharing a nickname with Josephine March?  Which March sister do you consider most like you?

I really do! Actually, I was nicknamed Jo because of two Josephines one being March and the other being my aunt. I think all that to say, Jo March is the one most like- we’re both what people call tomboys, we’re crazed bookdragons and writers, we have a thing for helping kids, and we love our sisters more than anything. And we’re sometimes socially awkward.

*can totally relate but decides to take a sip of tea instead of commenting on it* As a writer, how do you end up getting enough sunshine?  Or is sunshine not important to you?

XD Sunshine is VERY important to me- I’m the type of person that can’t be in one place for long, so whenever I can, I try to stay outside or go for walks. It’s the sun, it’s the air, enjoy it while you can!

 Ah, same.  I get mentally tired and depressed if I sit still for a long time.  I NEED TO MOVE.  Anyway, is it hard at times to do school work, being homeschooled?  (It is for me.  I have so many ideas, and I’m like, “NO, THOU SHALT NOT TURN AWAY FROM THY SCHOOLWORK!” [that is the eleventh commandment.])

Yes. Yes. Oohhh yes. It’s hard because for me, I’m mostly self taught (as in I get the books and the lessons and it’s “go figure it out”) and whenever I get the tests, it’s mostly just ARGHH THIS WASN’T IN THE BOOK WHY MUST YOU BE SO CRUEL- and the fact I do most of my work online doesn’t really help with the whole school thing. XD ohh, I need to take that commandment. I’d break it a lot, but I sure could use it.

 I’m the same…My mom gives me books, I read books, I take tests, I pass.  Anyway, as a human being, you have taste buds.  What makes your taste buds happy?

Bold of you to assume I have taste buds, and not, say, gills. But you are correct. My taste buds aren’t too picky: bacon crumbles, ice cream, mac n cheese, pizza, and this thing called halo halo (which is like the best kind of bubble tea in existence) oughta do it. And French fries. I like food.

Ah, the only thing we are not similar in.  I do not like food. But we shall move onward.  I am not often known for serious questions, but this one is very serious.  Which is better, Anne of Green Gables, or Rebecca of Sunnybrook farms?

HOW DARE YOU.  HOW?! *glares*

I honestly can’t decide. They’re both good in their own ways- actually when I first read Sunnybrook Farms I thought it a knock off of Green Gables. But then I saw different themes and characters. They’re both good. XD

 (I like them each for different strong points…) Now, we should continued onto questions that have to do with your new blog.  First of, where did you get the word Pananaw (or is it Banananananananaw?) from?

YEET!

What’s with this poor Banana people? You poor things. XD Pananaw is a Tagalog word that roughly means “insight” or more accurately, “the way one sees things”. I wanted something that was unique but not plain weird, something that reflected where I was coming from and what I was about. And well. Pananaw is what happened.

 Jo, you failed.  It’s unique, but it is plain weird.  You keep saying that we should look a little closer.  I always hate when people say something like that, because I’ll stare at something or read something until I’m silly, and then when they finally tell me what I was supposed to see, I’m like, “WELL. I saw that all along, I just assumed everyone else saw that.” What are we supposed to see in the glasses?

XD Heeh. Well I’m mean. The glasses is the logo of Pananaw, and a kind of symbol to see things from a different perspective. Also I wear glasses, so heheh.

AH!  That’s what I thought as soon as I saw the glasses, but I was like, “Nah, she wouldn’t be telling us to look closer for something that simple.”  *face plant* Wow, Amie, good job.

This interview seems to be going very well.  What is a question you’ve always wanted to be asked?

It does, doesn’t it? *drinks some iced tea* um…. I know! What did I think of Endgame? I like that question.

*grins maliciously* Could you please answer that question?

Wait what.

Oh.

You’re clever. Ahem. I loved it despite all the heartbreak and angst and flaws and plot holes. I LOVED IT.

 Apparently everyone that’s seen it has loved it.  (But I haven’t seen it, so I don’t have an opinion on it.)  Here we are at the last question.  Good thing we managed to drain our cups before we got here.  Now for the ultimate question…Black and white, sepia, or color?

Pfft, color of course. There’s so much more to see!

 Thank you so much, Jo, for joining me for a small tea party and question time!  I appreciate it.  (Now, I need you to leave, so my next interviewer will come in…)

Now, I asked Jo to transport her character, Dariene through the imagination transporter, and now she is entering the Crazy A studio to answer my questions.  Please kindly welcome her.

Hello!  Unlike my last client, Jo, I know nothing about you.  Can you please introduce yourself?

Alright then. I’m Dareine Penner, and I live in Illid. I’m a second gen First Rank and have been for a while. There’s nothing really *important* about me.  I do coding. I have an adopted brother that’s just a pain in my neck.

 These questions will be random, because I don’t know you.  (Wow, I’m redundant.). What is your favorite season?

Yes, you mentioned— I love winter. It’s cold and icy and nobody’s out- and that fits me perfectly. Also it adds a new thing to deal with training in the woods, and that’s always appreciated.

 Ah, I like winter for that reason as well.  I think you’re from another world, if I remember rightly.  Since I have brought you to earth, what is the most glaring difference between my world, and yours?

Your world? Your world is crazy. Strange. It’s very primitive and also very advanced at the same time… and you have no walls. That’s very strange. Either you all already have come to terms with there being a God or you’ve decided He doesn’t exist at all. Whichever it is, hopefully it’s not as confusing as in my world. Mine is full of facts. Yours is full of.. of so much more. Can’t name it entirely. It’s strange.

Hmm, interesting.  I am also a writer, which means I create people in my head, and make them come to life.  What was the first thing you thought when Jo made you “alive”?

Ah, so you’re one of those writer types. I should’ve known Jo to have like-minded associates. The first thing I thought was I was on my way to see Solidan for training. There wasn’t much fuss about it, we just were and we started being without much problem.

 Favorite hot drink?  And why?

Coffee. You have no idea how hard it is to wake up at 12 for night training. Powershakes are also very helpful heated.

Ah, I wish I had created coffee.  I probably would be a millionaire.  Anyway,Water, fire, ice, or snow?  Why?

Ice. I love how effective it is- and how useful. Snow is pretty, but let’s be real, what use is pretty when you need to fight?

 I like air conditioning.  Do you like air conditioning?

Air conditioning- where would anyone be without it? Honestly? It’s one thing I need and for that I hate it- to get you used to whatever weather that comes, our trainers have you fight in zero air conditioning. It’s unpleasant, to say the least.

I like worms, but I don’t really care for spiders.  Which is worst, to find a spider in your bed, or an inch worm in your hair?  (I’ve had both happen to me.  *shivers*)

They’re just bugs. What difference does it make if you can kill them? (Also I’m quite sorry about that. Does your brother place them on your bed? Both of mine do. It’s terrible for the bugs. Smothers them until they can’t breathe. Cruel.)

(No, the inch worm fell from the tree into my hair, and the spider just crawled in, because for some reason the bugs think my bed is the best.  Even though I make sure I don’t eat on it.  *shrugs*) What is your least favorite hair and eye color combination?  Why?

I don’t claim to have a preference, and I don’t think I ever will. Eyes are eyes. I do love my sister’s though- she has part green and part brown, and it’s beautiful.

 Already at the last question, are we?  Well, we’ll make it count.  What is your favorite number?  And, is Rumplesilkskin a number?

3 and 2 are the preferred numbers I operate with. They’re solid, and as long as you have that number of anything, you have a fair change of survival.

*pouts because Darleine didn’t answer my question*. Well, folks, is Rumplesilkskin a number?! Also, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share the link yet?? Apparently Jo had this idea to keep you in suspense, but…Once it’s up,  go follow Jo.

~~Amie~~

Interview with Artist

Hello, it’s Cam today, and I’m here to interview a fellow artist, who’s art far outshines mine.  Can we please put our hands together for Muffin?

Hello!  Would you like to introduce yourself?

Heyo, Muffin from https://toadstoolartblog1.wordpress.com here. Thanks for having me Cam!

What started your interest in art?

I’m not sure what initially got me into art.  I’ve always loved drawing as far back as I can remember. Even when I was in kindergarten, I took art seriously. Of course, when you’re five, your drawings aren’t going to be that great unless you’re a prodigy (which I am not, unfortunately). I remember one particular drawing I made of a girl with a skateboard when I was little. I had high hopes for it, and I ended up hating it…trying to get good at anything is a painful process.

 

What is your favorite painting/sketch you have done so far?

That changes with time as I improve and make more stuff. Currently my favorite work is a pastel drawing I did of pears. (https://toadstoolartblog1.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/pastel-drawing-3-pears/) My favorite used to be a portrait I did of a famous actor, but I accidentally messed it up by drawing on the back of it with an ink pen. I actually cried when I realized what I did. I had poured hours into that drawing. I was depressed for a whole week. Still makes me sad when I think of it.

What is your favorite art medium?

Currently I’m in love with pastels. They’re soft, colorful, and, bright. And they’re relatively easy to erase (unlike colored pencils), and fairly easy to control (unlike paint). I do draw in pencil a lot because pencils are easy to erase if you make mistakes, and very portable. No need to worry about making a mess or anything like that. Plus I’m extremely comfortable with them. They’re also very cheap. You can make a good sketch even with mechanical pencils from your local dollar store.

 

Are you courageous when it comes to art, or do you prefer to stay with what you already know?

Depends on my mood, really. As I just mentioned, pencil is my go-to medium. Whenever I need to unwind and just draw without the uncomfortable sensation that comes when using a new medium or drawing a subject that I’m not familiar with, I pick up one of my smaller sketchbooks and a pencil and doodle characters. However, I do like to try new mediums and push myself to draw things that I’m not as good at drawing. That’s what helps you improve. Sure you could draw the same thing over and over and get really good at that one thing, but it’s nice to be well-rounded.

 

Besides art, what are some of your hobbies?

I love to hike (especially in the mountains). I love reading and writing when I get the chance. Reading and writing are a part of me just as much as art is, but I don’t read as much as I used to because of my busy schedule. I tell myself that I’ll read after school but then I’m exhausted and just want to do nothing. I also hope to start taking violin and voice lessons soon. I played the violin for two years, then quit because I was lazy (and my teacher was a bit intimidating). No more of that nonsense. This time I’m going to stick with it (hopefully…). I dance three times a week. My favorite part is ballet. I’m pretty bad though, as I just started this year. I got on pointe recently, and it’s cRaZy pAiNfUl sometimes but I like it. It makes you feel elegant. And last but definitely not least, I like orienteering. My dad’s been taking me orienteering since before I could walk (he carried me). Now, orienteering is NOT geocaching. Orienteering is when you use a map and a compass to navigate to different points and determine the best route possible. I’m pretty sure you can use a GPS when you’re geocaching. The point of orienteering is to hone your map-reading skills and apply them to your surroundings. So no GPS’s allowed. Plus when you’re orienteering, there’s no prizes involved or anything.

 

Do you have any siblings?

 

Just one. We’re roughly a year and a half apart. She loves horses, planning/organizing things, minecraft, and reading. Here’s an example of our typical interactions:

*We decide to play Mario Kart*

Me: LET’S DO RAINBOW ROAD

Her: NOOOOOOOOO it’s too hard!

Me: That’s what makes it fun! Besides it’s really pretty. I love all the bright colors and the noise you make when you run into the fence and how you burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when you fall off the track.

Her:…..that’s why you like it?! You. Are. A. Weirdo.

Me: PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Her: Fine. If AND ONLY IF you play minecraft with me.

Me: FINNEEEEEEEE

*a few minutes later*

Her: AIOSDJFAWEIOFJJDSKLFJASDJFKLI I JUST DIED AGAIN I’M SO MAD I HATE THIS

Me: WHEEEEE HEEHEEEE I JUST DIED AGAIN THIS IS SO MUCH FUN I LOVE THIS

Why is this so much like me and Cassy?  

What is something you would like to do in the future?

I would love to own a quaint cabin in the mountains on a small farm. Something manageable, nothing huge. Chickens, goats, bees, a vegetable garden, and a pig (for a pet). I love the mountains SO MUCH. I’m going on a trip to a little mountain town with my mom for my 16th birthday soon. I’ve done it every year since my 12th birthday (or 13th…I can’t remember) and it’s the highlight of my year.

 

Thank you so much for coming on Crazy A with me!  (I needed ideas, and so yeah.  You were helpful.)

Thanks again for having me! I had fun. I think I got a bit too carried away with some of the questions…

Nope, never.  This is a very fun interview.  Now, go check out Muffin’s art, and follow her amazing blog!

–Cam

Crazily Acquainted w/ Buttercup!

First, life update:

After getting better from the flu, I feel like life is so exciting!  I have so much more energy, (or do I????) and I think that it’s almost (almost) worth being sick to feel so much better!  The sun is so bright and life is good.

Now for Crazily Acquainted:

Please help me welcome Buttercup!  Her blog is fun, and I actually just had a Q&A with her recently!  So, without further ado, I shall start the interrogation.  (My questions are bold and Buttercup’s answers are plain.

Why did you decide to have a blog?
 
I thought it’d be cool and a really good way to share relatable things with teenagers! 💕

Why did you chose the name?

 
Um… because I’m not in any way “average” or typically but I’m always that way, and of course I’m a teen. “Typically Untypical Teen”
What do you write about/plan to write about?
 
Teen life and entrepreneurship (ya know, ways to improve your blog, tricks to the trade and teen business stuff)

Do you prefer serious or crazy writing?

 
Both. If it’s a serious topic, I write seriously, but everything else? Crazy (funny, etc.)! Why not be transparent? It shows people you’re real and it’s okay to not be perfect because I (the writer/person you adore) isn’t either!
Ah!  My ideas exactly!

What is/was the hardest part of your blog?

 
Spellcheck. Is that a valid response? 😂
Of course it is! 😉
Is Buttercup your real name or a pseudonym?
 
Psudeo name. Check out my YouTube (Cinnamon Glitter Studio) to find out my real name! #ShamelessSelfPromo 😂

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

 
Mint and Cookies and Cream.  You must have it easy at the ice-cream store!
Who, me?  Of course I do!  And people complain about me always getting coffee 🤨
Who are some of your favorite bloggers?
I can’t say that!! What if I don’t mention someone? What if they’re, um, my bestie but they can’t write, so I don’t say them???? (Kidding, but really, I can’t say)

Which state(s) out of the — that you have been to have been your favorite?

 
Oowee, definitely Georgia (USA).
Yeeeesssss!  Georgia all the way! *fist-bump*

If you were to describe your personality in a color, what would it be?

 
Pink: Loyal, Compassionate, Caring, Strong, Confident.  (And it’s my fave color!)
How would you describe the color gold?
 
Overrated. Okay, okay, it’s beautiful when used sparingly (with white) and in the right shade.

What is your favorite social media platform?

 
Pinterest.
Totally!  How could someone live with out Pinterest?  Okay, maybe they could if you had google…
What is your life purpose?
 
Dunno. I’m still trusting God for that. But in general, to be a wife, mom, and servant at heart!

And…

That brings us to a close!  Thanks so much, Buttercup, for agreeing to do this!  If you’re a blogger interested in an interview, just comment down below to get the ball rolling!  Thanks again, Buttercup!  Y’all should totally check out her blog (and my interview on it here).

Tootles!

~~Amie~~

In a post which I interview my sister…

Hey, guys!  Today I’m going to interview my three-year-old sister.  She happens to be a hyper-active yeller that loves to snuggle.  Many a time I’ve been working on my blog or a story and she’ll cuddle next to me on the couch.  Please, everyone welcome my sister!  Her answers will be in italics and mine will be normal.

What’s your name?

Emma

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Play outside.

Why?

Cause I love playing with my brother with me.  And I love my cats Angel and Snowflake.

(Um, that cats aren’t yours.  Also, which brother?)

What’s your doll named?

It’s name is Laura.  Because I play with my sister named Amie.

Why did you name it Laura?

Because I like it to do lots of things.  I used a green bucket for her car.

Who are your friends?

Joyful, your friends, and Natalie…and Olivia…and Riley.

Why are they your friends?

Because I love them.  They hug me and love me and write me letters.  I get so sad when the scribble it.  Also, I like Jared.  I never met Laura but I like her too.  She’s Amie’s friend.  She’s nice.

Jared’s a book. (That Laura and I wrote)

Oh. 😦  Is Maddi?  Is Maddi alive?

No, Maddi’s not alive.  She’s only in a book.

Oh, and also I love my mom and dad and grandmother.  

Really?

And my grandpa died, so I didn’t know him.  He’s in heaven.

Are you going to heaven?

Yes, because we’re sinners and we’re saved by grace.  First we live for a long time before you die.  You grow up and get married and have a pantry.  We have a kitchen.  My mommy cooks food.  When we get to heaven we get new bodies.  And my sister types on her laptop.  We have white things and we go and do something if our mom and dad say so.  And also we love our dad and mom.  We take care of them.  If my mom’s sick, we leave her at home.  I have tights and I have a little sister named C.  She says hi.  She’s eating an apple.  I’m naming her hi.  Get the number one out.

What?  Okay, Emma, what’s you favorite book?

Funny books.  Bye.

Okay, bye!  Wow, that was something else. I hope you enjoyed this interview of Emma.  Comment below and tell me if I should interview more of my siblings.  To be honest, Emma was right.  We’re all sinners and we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Thanks again, Emma! Comment down below if you enjoyed getting to know Emma!

~~Amie~~

P.S. I hope you laughed!