Your arms spread wide where mine should be, You changed my destiny.

Once upon a time there was a little girl that carried her Bible around everywhere. This little girl with the prettiest curly brown hair that anyone’s ever seen. This little girl invited her friends to Church in the backseat of her parent’s car on the way home from cheer-leading. This little girl showed her parents her Bible when they had an argument and told them the Bible says to love each other. This little girl who went to take a tour of the new Christian school she was going to first grade at and decided she wanted to be a missionary right where she was and spend her life serving You, God.

This little girl who decided in the middle of worship one Sunday morning in the second grade that she wanted to take that walk down the aisle. This little girl felt the Holy Spirit, ran back to her mama, told her she wanted to be baptized, and she knew exactly what that meant. This little girl did not wait for the invitation at the end of the service. This little girl grabbed the children’s director and went straight to the alter to lay her heart down, right then and there. At the beginning of the service. While everybody was still just a singin away.

This little girl who spent summers at Church camp, rededicating her life to You because she wanted more and more of You, God. This little girl grew up and got sassy. This girl used the word whatever so much her mama had her say Philippians 4:8 which says: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 

This girl kept growing up. This girl twirled a flag while covered in glitter under stadium lights on a football field. This girl participated in state and national competitions. This girl became president of the club that gave her friends and a safe place in high school. This girl got inducted into the National Honor Society. This girl received an award for character and service. This girl graduated high school with honors. This girl went off to college and turned into a woman. This woman signed up for recruitment all on her own. This woman was extended a bid from a sorority that inspired her to impact the world. This woman found out who she was and lived with purpose. This woman met the most amazing, grace filled, forgiving people in that sorority. This woman became president of that sorority. This woman graduated college. This woman took a job in a group home for teenagers for the next two and a half years. This woman thought she would be doing the teaching, (and she was teaching, so so much, they don’t call her Miss Extra for nothing) but this woman was also learning so so much from You, God.

Inside of this woman will always be this girl who makes so many mistakes. This girl ran from You. This girl questioned You. This girl doubted You. This girl was a hot mess. This girl hurt people. This girl lied because of her pride. This girl felt shame and guilt. This girl grieved.

But there was always You. It was always You, guiding her. When this girl ran, instead of giving up, You kept the light on for her. When this girl questioned, instead of getting angry, You answered. When this girl doubted, instead of turning her away, You held open arms. When this girl was a hot mess, instead of getting even, You forgave her. When this girl hurt people, instead of hurting her, You taught her how to make it right. When this girl lied because of her pride, instead of shaming her, You gave her grace and truth. When this girl felt shame and guilt, instead of pushing her, You gave her the space she needed and the most gentle kind of fatherly love she had ever known. When this girl grieved, instead of telling her to get over it, You drew her close. When this girl made unthinkable mistakes, instead of locking her up and throwing away the key, You laid down Your life for her.

This girl and this woman want to spend every waking second getting to know You more, God. She wants to serve You. She wants to love the way You love. She wants to extend grace like You. She wants to point everyone she meets to You. She wants to keep reading those red letters every day. You wrote her the most beautiful story filled with love and joy and peace. You gave her a life better than she could ever dream of. Your pursued her. You cherished her. You made her feel worthy. You loved her. You brought light to her dark places. You showed her how to share that light. You gave her the freedom to choose You.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for designing a life I love. Thank you for writing my story better than I ever could. Thank you for knowing what’s best for me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you grace and forgiveness. Thank you for pursing me and for your gentleness. Thank you for chasing after me. Thank you for laying your life down for me. Thank you for your glory. Thank you for red letters. Thank you for freedom. Thank you for opening and closing the right doors. Thank you for starting and ending chapters right when needed. Thank you for cleaning up my mess. Thank you for Holy Spirit filled moments with you. Thank you for accepting my heart. Thank you for knowing every hair on my head, every mistake, every terrible thought, every smile, every tear, every moment of my life and loving me still. God, I want to spend my life dedicated to you. I want to spend my life in service of you. I want to give you all the glory. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

With so much left to say, I prayed.

The Grand Ole Opry posted a video of Scotty McCreery singing a new song and I swooned so hard I cried. I started thinking about how when I was a kid all I wanted was five more minutes, like the song sings. My list hasn’t changed much, I’ve just added to it.

Give me five more minutes running through a sprinkler with my brother and sister. Give me five more minutes watching my brother play pee wee football. Give me five more minutes watching my parents put the lights on the Christmas tree. Give me five more minutes at my sister’s softball tournaments. Give me five more minutes twirling that flag, under those stadium lights, wearing that glitter spray. Give me five more minutes singing stadium cheers and throwing my L up after a big win. Give me five more minutes in FCCLA cooking for those appreciation dinners with my bff. Give me five more minutes taking selfies in Hobby Lobby with her. Give me five more minutes sitting in the pews at Bethel Baptist with her.

Give me five more minutes living in that sorority house. Give me five more minutes moving the furniture in the chapter room to dance with my sisters. Give me five more minutes leading those chapter meetings. Give me five more minutes singing the Dixie Chicks with my soulmate on those back roads in Mobile. Give me five more minutes throwing my J up. Give me five more minutes living in that Midtown apartment with my roommate. Give me five more minutes singing country music with my littles, driving around town, wasting gas. Give me five more minutes getting ice cream with my littles. Give me five more minutes in the caf with my people. Give me five more minutes crying in a parking lot saying goodbye to my person as dramatic as we can possibly make it.

Give me five more minutes with those I’ve lost along the way. Give me five more minutes floating on the lake in Pell City. Give me five more minutes right now, praying with You, Lord. Give me five more minutes right now, to remember how blessed beyond measure that I am.

Lysa Terkeurst in Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl wrote: “But what’s most amazing is that the God of the universe, the Savior of the world, would desire a few minutes with me this morning. Lord, help me to forever remember what a gift it is to sit with You like this.”

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, I want to thank you for all the ways you’ve blessed me. Thank you for giving me so much more than I deserve. Thank you for all the precious moments and the even better people. Thank you for all the extra five minutes that you gave me. Thank you for your timing. Thank you for allowing me to see the beauty in your timing today. I pray that I spend five more minutes with you each day. Thank you for wanting to spend five more minutes with me. Thank you for giving me five more minutes. I pray that I trust in your timing. I pray that I remember that your timing is what has made all of this possible. Thank you for writing my story. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We’ve come a long way from where we began.

When it came time to decide how to decorate my graduation cap, I knew it had to be red, white, and blue. I mean, they didn’t call me America for nothing. I wasn’t voted Most Patriotic for nothing. The name on my intramural jersey wasn’t Mercuh for nothing. There was a purpose for it. Just like the reason I chose the University of South Alabama was more than my love for all things red, white, and blue. I started looking for ideas and found this quote from Captain America 2: Winter Soldier that said: “I’m with you til the end of the line.”

I immediately looked over at my little and realized this was perfect.

How can we not talk about family when family’s all that we got?
Everything I went through you were standing there by my side
And now you gon’ be with me for the last ride

Of course, I am with her until the end of the line. She is literally going to be sitting beside me today at graduation. When I met her, I had no idea how much she would mean to me. I pray she knows the impact she has had on my world.

I am with all my littles because life would be so bleak without them. They have taught me so much and shown me more kindness than I ever thought possible. They’ve shown more strength than I could ever muster up. I pray they know how courageous and generous they are.

I am with my big because she showed me the kind of woman I could become and protected me and gave me the space I needed to become that woman. I pray she knows how truly amazing she is.

I am with my grandlittles because they are literally my hope and future. I pray they shine like the stars they are.

I am with my friends back home. They’ve been there for me for all the glory days of high school. They’ve been there for all my terrible music choices, my tragic wardrobe malfunctions, bad hair decisions, and so much sass and attitude. They’ve also been patiently waiting for my graduation so I can return to them. They’ve stayed by me even when this kid grew up. I pray they know I always brought little pieces of them here with me.

I am with my beautiful friend from Vincent. She is so like me in so many ways but she has her own little fiery personality too. I cannot wait to come home and hang out with her! I pray that she sees how truly fabulous she is and that our friendship only grows.

I am with my family. My Mema, Papa, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, and Grandpa.  Families are like trees. We spread our branches out everywhere and grow new branches all the time, but we’re all rooted together. I pray we only love each more and I pray they know how thankful I am for them.

I am with my Brother, Sister, Mom and Dad. They’ve supported me every step of the way. They’ve given me a crutch to lean on during times of trouble and given me all that I need to succeed. I pray they know how much I appreciate and love them.

I am with my sorority. That organization became a part of me, a part of the fabric of my being. “Inspire the Woman. Impact the World.” That phrase changed my life when I went through recruitment. Then those women taught me to “Live with Purpose” and I never looked back. They taught me to make each decision with intention. I pray they keep inspiring women and building them up.

I am with my sisters. Who literally had to pick me up off the floor because I couldn’t handle life any more. Who carried me through the worst and the best days of my life. Who taught me to laugh on the worst days and cry on the best days. Who taught me to love more fully and completely than ever before. I pray they never stop sharing the best and the worst parts of themselves, it’s what helps us grow.

I am with my person. There aren’t even enough words in the dictionary to explain all that she has done for me and taught me. I would never have made it to this day without her. I pray she knows no matter what happens, I will always be her person.

I am with Christopher because my sweet friend has changed my life in more ways than I can even understand. He reminded me of how important the rain is and how to pray. I pray he knows I’m carrying him with me today as I walk across that stage.

It’s been a long day without you, my friend

I am with my grandma. The last time I put on a cap and gown, she was there smiling bigger than anyone in that church. I pray she’s smiling the biggest in Heaven today too.

And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again

I am with You, Lord. You created me with a purpose. You created me with a plan. You brought all of these things I pray for into my life. You have made my life so full of light and love and joy. I am in awe of You. I pray that I grow closer to You and worship You more and thank You more.

So, here is the rest of my prayer today. As I say goodbye to the home I created in this place, in this university, and in these people, I pray that I see them all again. I pray they all know how much they mean to me. I pray they know how much I’ve learned from them. I pray they know I’m with them all til the end of the line. I pray that Heaven isn’t so far away today. I pray that the love will never be lost. I pray that I see them again too one day. Thank you for all of this and more. Thank you for college. Thank you for the memories made, for the tears shed, for the laughter, for the things I learned, for sending me here. Thank you for this day. Thank you for these people. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thy will be done.

Ok. Lord. Every time I think I’m figuring it out and moving forward, something pulls me backwards. I think You are leading me in one direction and then a complete 180 degree change to the other direction happens. I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m throwing my hands up. The more I try to make sense of this life, the more confused I get. I have no earthly clue what You want me to do. I try to make plans and figure it out and every plan I make falls through or changes and we both know I’m not so good with change.

I went to lunch with my person on Wednesday and she gave me a copy of her morning devotion and boyyyyy did I need it. The scripture on the paper was Matthew 6:34 which says: Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. The end of the devotion says: “Leave these worries and heartaches in the sovereign hands of the One who created the heavens and the earth. Trust Him with the future, and accept your daily bread today with open hands and a childlike heart.” 

Ok. So, I could make a list of all the things I need to accomplish tomorrow, which thanks to that lovely burnt rubber smell coming my car tonight, just got longer. But instead, I am going to make a list of things that went right today.

  1. I woke up early this morning, got coffee with my little, and knocked out some more of our project.
  2. Today is exactly two weeks to graduation.
  3. I had time for an hour nap before going to work.
  4. My sister ordered me a new bathing suit for the beach.
  5. The people I work with are pretty great.
  6. Afterwards, I got some quality bonding time with my roommate and little. All while benefiting the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation with some frozen yogurt at Chill.
  7. Hilary Scott’s new single was released today and I got all the feels.

The closer to May 7th I get, the more I think about all that I have survived since starting college. Sometimes, I don’t understand Your plan. Sometimes, I was so lost I didn’t know if I would ever find my way back. Sometimes, I was so sad I couldn’t move. Sometimes, I was so anxious I pushed people away. Sometimes, I was hurting. But sometimes, I felt more joy and love than I ever thought possible. Sometimes, I was blessed more than humanly possible. No matter what I was feeling, You were there. I heard someone on the radio yesterday say that is what sets Christians apart. The knowledge that You are always there. Part of me was in complete awe of You because You never left me. Not through the pain or sorrow or heartache or trials or fear or love or joy or any of it. The other part of me realized how empty some must feel because they don’t have that peace. Some people will search their whole lives, for what they will only find in You. You complete me, Lord. No one else. You are the missing piece in our lives. You are what makes the empty places, whole.

There is this quote that says: “When it is all finished, you will discover it was never random.” Lord, You have a purpose for everything. You have a reason for every single thing that happens. Nothing is by accident. Nothing is coincidental. Nothing is random. Nothing happens without Your prior approval and planning. When bad things happen, my first question is why. I start pointing the finger and assigning blame. If nothing else, college taught me that was the wrong question. That question only shows my narrow view. I can only see what is right in front of me. I can’t see beyond my own two feet. Lord, I can only see my 5-10 year plan, but You created an eternity plan. Your ways are not my ways. Your ways are so good. Your ways are so right. Your ways are so just.

In the interview about her new single, Hillary Scott said she wanted people to find their own stories in the song before she shared hers. Well this is mine. Two years ago, I asked You why bad things happen, why things fall apart, why people are taken too young and too soon, why people suffer. I had a lot of questions. Then a year later, I found out those were the wrong questions. I read a book that said we should be asking, what are we gonna do with it now. I realized I had already found the answer to that question before I even asked it. I started praying. Two years ago, when my entire world shifted. A lot of things were taken really fast. A lot of things were thrown at me and I was grasping at straws trying to keep myself together. What I found was, when I let go of me, I found You. When I let go of the pain, I found You. When I let go of the questions, I found answers. Lord, I found peace. I found strength.

So, that is my prayer today. I wanna start with the prayer from the devotion. “Lord, I have so many worries about the future, so many things that are causing my heart to ache. Help me to leave these fears in your hands and to trust you with them. I want to be filled with your joy and peace in this day. Give me the right perspective.” Thank you for all the good in today. Thank you for the peace I have in you. Thank you for friends that think of me when they read their devotion books in the mornings. Thank you for friends who keep me in their prayers. I pray for them too. I pray thy will be done. I pray that instead of trying to understand your plan, that I trust in you. I pray that I stop looking forward and focus on today. Thank you for your plans. Thank you for your ways. Thank you for all that you are. Thank you for teaching me, for guiding me, for leading me. Thank you for allowing me to see your hand in the world around me. Thank you for songs that show me your love in new ways. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

All my soul needs is all Your love to cover me.

A couple of weeks ago, someone told me they thought I was timid and scared. If she only knew that I have spent every second of the last twenty-three years trying to overcome those very words. If she only knew how far deep those words cut. If she only knew what those words mean to me. How much those words try to break me, to suffocate me.

I am a lot of things, timid and scared is not anywhere the list of my abilities. I am not weak. Those words do not define me. I am a leader and I do not take that word lightly either. In college, I gave Alpha Gamma Delta my entire heart. I took any office I could and worked as hard as I could to make a difference. I was no longer a leader because I wanted to be or I had something to prove. I was a leader because those women deserved one, because they had given me so much and all I wanted was to show them how much it meant to me. I was apart of something bigger than myself. It was no longer about me, it was about the entire chapter. I did everything I could to support them and give them what they needed to succeed. I tried to constantly train someone to replace each office I took and even ones I didn’t. It wasn’t because I thought my absence would be felt. It was so they could have my shared knowledge and experience so, they could take the office even further. It was so they could grow and do more than I ever could. I saw that chapter grow and thrive and now as an alum, I get to watch it grow even more. I mean, we had literally over 50 new members on bid day. When I got that phone call, I literally cried I was so happy for them.

I was looking for one of my old documents for a sister and I stumbled upon my senior letter to the chapter instead. Rereading my words, I felt like a completely different person. I think after I went alum, I lost a little bit of my strength, my confidence got a little shaky. Rereading my words today was a beautiful reminder of all that I have accomplished in the last twenty-three years. It reminded me of all I learned and experienced and how far I’ve grown. I was thinking back to everything I’ve done and of course I made mistakes along the way, but I wouldn’t change a thing because even those mistakes led to something or taught me something I desperately needed. Looking back, every single thing happened for a reason and I like who I am because of it. I think rereading it gave me back my strength. It was exactly what I needed today.

So, here is my advice to those beautiful new members:

Go Jags!

G: go to everything and take a sister with you. Get involved. Make connections. Go to class. Learn as much as you can. Go to the library and study. Go to campus events, sporting events. Go to the rec center. Play intramurals.

O: organization. If you want to do all the fun stuff, you’re going to need to learn a little time management. Get a planner. Splurge for the Lilly (it’s worth it). Make a budget. College will end and bills will come, so use this time as learning experience and go ahead and prepare yourself for the future.

J: journey. You’re going to tested in ways you never thought possible. There are going to be bumps along the way. Learn the difference between speed bumps and road blocks and just complete mountains. Understand it’s a process. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient. This is the starting point, the jumping off location for the rest of your life. You have new freedom, use it to learn and make a difference.

A: accept differences. If I learned nothing else, it’s that people handle things differently. People learn and speak and communicate differently. If you learn the reason why someone acted that way, it makes it a whole lot easier to see their side. Everyone has a different story to tell. Be compassionate and understanding. Be warm, open, and kind. Be careful with jealousy too because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it.

G: grace. Learn it. Share it. Accept it. Be thankful for it. You are going to make mistakes, that part is certain. You are also going to get hurt by other people. You can’t control them or what they do. You can however, control your reaction. How you react to things can define who you are.

S: spirit. Paint your face. Cheer. Get excited. You’ve only got four years in college (for maybe a little more, if you’re like me). Make it count. Take pictures and cherish all the memories.

I had a wonderful four-years in Alpha Gamma Delta. I have accomplished a lot. I’ve won awards. I made memories and friendships that I cherish. I learned more than I ever thought possible. I’ve got a resume so long, I need legal size paper. One thing is for sure, I am nothing without You, Lord.

So, here is my prayer today. Lord, I need you. I am nothing without you. I am nothing without your love. I am nothing without your all-consuming fire. Lord, wrap your arms around me. Surround me in your presence. Thank you for all you have given me. Thank you for the my years in Alpha Gam. Thank you for my journey at USA. Thank you for putting those women in my life. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me. Thank you for the experiences and the lessons. Thank you for teaching me forgiveness and grace and love and respect and humility and courage and strength. I pray for those new members. I pray that they grow and learn. I pray they support each other and give as much as they can to each other. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And I’m alright, I’m okay.

I just heard this song that completely related to my life. The song is Downside Of Growing Up. The song starts talking about how hard it is leaving your mama. Well, to be honest, I’m graduating in May, so I’m pretty used to crying as I leave my mama. It really doesn’t get easier leaving, you just also create a home in college, so it makes it hard to leave here too. College pulls your heart in so many different directions, sometimes it’s hard to find all the pieces. This summer, I said good-bye to my mama and moved into a house with a couple of roommates. I love the freedom. I can have candles and there’s no RA coming to check to see if my trash is piled up or if the fire alarm works, again. The downside is there is no more of the really nice maintenance men coming to fix things for me. I have to fix things myself. So, I went into Lowe’s and I figured out what I needed and tried to replace that toilet handle myself. The first time was a bust and to be honest, I wanted my daddy to come fix it for me. The downside is he is 5 hours away so, I had to go back to Lowe’s. The second time was a success. I have never been more proud to fix something in my whole life. Ok. I get it. It’s like a $7 replacement and it was like super easy to do, but I did it all on my own. Ok. It was a big step into the adult world for me.

Then this morning was less than stellar. I started by missing my classes because I was in a car accident. I was on time this morning and I was looking cute, like everything was going good, until it wasn’t. The downside of growing up was that my parents were 5 hours away. The truth is, as bleak as the morning looked, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. So, because I love lists: Here is a list of blessings for today:

  1. My daddy was on the phone with me the whole time, reminding me to breathe. He is usually a complete softy, ok. I don’t care what all the stories say about how tough or strong or he was or how he used to be like the best football player ever, ok. The man braided my hair and drove me to every single club meeting, event, performance, and cried like a baby every single time he was proud of me, which was every time I breathed. When Gary Allen sings Tough Little Boys, he is singing about my daddy. This morning however, that was the strongest man I’ve ever known. His reassurance held me together.
  2. There was a Bible in the ER room, so I could turn to Isaiah 43:2.
  3. My person dropped everything to be by my side, the moment I called her and she stayed right there by me the whole day. She texted my mom updates. She stood by me as they towed my car away. She stood by me in the ER. She stood by me while I waited on prescriptions. She stood by me at home too, just to make sure I was ok. She was everything I needed and more.
  4. In the X-Ray room, there is a dry erase board. Written on that board is Psalm 86:7 which says: In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
  5. When the insurance claims man called, he started by saying he was an Alum of South Alabama, Go Jags. I hope me knows how fabulous that was to hear.
  6. My little was beyond thoughtful. She stood by me in the ER in between classes. Then she brought me dinner, AmeriCone Dream ice cream for later, and breakfast for tomorrow. She texted my littles and grandlittles to let them know I was safe.
  7. My lovely Alpha Gam sister serenaded me Shake It Off. It meant more to me than words can explain.
  8. My roommate looked at me when she got home and said you look like you need a hug. I most certainly did.

I might have started this morning thinking I was going to see the downside of growing up, but I felt pretty blessed instead.

So, that is my prayer today. While the song says your dad ain’t there to get you unstuck, thank you for making sure that wasn’t true for me. Thank you for my daddy’s strength and kindness today. Thank you for making sure that you, my heavenly father, will always be there to get me unstuck. Thank you giving me a daddy to teach me that. Thank you for the many wonderful people that took care of me at the accident, in the er, in the line to get my prescription, and everywhere I went today. Thank you for the lady, when I called 911, that told me to just breathe. I pray for all of them. They were so kind and extremely patient with me. Thank you for my sisters for taking care of me. Thank you for Psalm 86:7 and the fact that I can call out to you when I’m scared. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone in more ways than one today. Thank you for the downside of growing up. Thank you teaching me and guiding me. Thank you for leading me. Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hallelujah, I am Your’s and You are mine.

My last class of the day is one of my marketing classes. The class is on Business2Business sales. To be perfectly frank, I hate sales. I do not like selling. All I can think of is like those retail credit card people or like the typical car salesman, the pushy types! I wanted to better understand sales, which is exactly why I chose this class as one of my marketing electives.

Today, in class, we were discussing features and attributes. The professor asked “how do you translate those features and attributes into benefits?” In all seriousness, in my mind, I went with what I knew: Alpha Gam. I started making a mental checklist of features and attributes:

  1. Dues
  2. Intramurals
  3. Community Service
  4. Panhellenic Love
  5. Study Hours
  6. Recruitment
  7. Offices
  8. Campus Involvement
  9. Programs
  10. Living in the House

Maybe it’s because I’m an alum now or maybe it’s because I held so many offices and got so involved, but I could totally see in terms of benefits:

  1. Responsiblity
  2. Life Skills
  3. Outreach
  4. Networking
  5. Higher GPAs/Better College Retention Rates
  6. Engaged Members
  7. Leadership
  8. Well Rounded Student Experience
  9. Growing together as sisters and growing as individual women
  10. Memories I will cherish and friendships I hold extremely dear

On the way home from class, I started thinking about that question in a different way. I started applying it to my relationship with You, Lord. Lysa Terkeurst talks about the “Christian Checklist” all the time and how we’re just trying to mark things off our list. I started thinking about the features and attributes of that list:

  1. Read your Bible and study scripture
  2. Pray
  3. Go to church

The “Christian Checklist” could go on and on. What I think we forget sometimes is the benefits:

  1. Patience
  2. Guidance
  3. Accountability
  4. Peace
  5. Reassurance
  6. Freedom
  7. Forgiveness
  8. Protection
  9. Understanding
  10. Healing
  11. Love
  12. Honestly
  13. Respect
  14. Hope
  15. Truth
  16. Intention
  17. Purpose
  18. Promises
  19. Strength
  20. Endurance
  21. Wisdom
  22. Teaching

The Bible says 365 times “Do Not Fear.” What is the opposite of fear? Faith. What greater benefit than Faith?

So, that is my prayer today. I wanna say thank you for being my everything. Thank you for my faith. Thank you for all the many benefits that you give us and all the ones I didn’t list. Thank you for making me, yours. Lord, I’m lifting my hands up to you. I am in awe of you. Thank you for being my light in the darkness. Thank you for letting me run to you. Thank you for picking me up off the ground, time and time again. I also wanna thank you for my experience in Alpha Gam. I wanna thank you for letting me get to know the beautiful women in that house. Thank you for letting me learn and grow there. Thank you for teaching me to live with purpose. I wanna pray for them as they head into recruitment this week and start the first round of recruitment tonight. I pray that you watch over them and the other Panhellenic women in all the houses and all the women going through recruitment and all the alums helping and all the volunteers. I pray that they enjoy this experience and make the most of this week. I pray that they learn from the features and attributes and see all the benefits. I pray that those benefits translate into skills and relationships they can take with them into the rest of their lives. Thank you for showing me the benefits today and helping me to realize just how blessed I am. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I got an umbrella and I think it’s big enough for the both of us.

I have the honor of planning my chapter’s International Reunion Day this year and the theme is “Strength in Sisterhood.” I could not be more excited for the theme! I learned and witnessed a lot during my time in Alpha Gam, but nothing more than strength!

Mattie Stepanek said: “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” Strength is showing up. It’s the last sister in the room putting up chairs after chapter. It’s the first one to sign up to play intramurals or dance in a philanthropy competition. It’s the sister that volunteers all week at the hospital and still signs up for that 7am service walk on Saturday morning. It’s the sister with the 4.0 gpa helping her little with her freshman math class. It’s the sister that takes 18 hours and an EC office. It’s the sister who paints the sheet sign until all hours of the night and still makes sure it’s hung up the next day. It’s the sister that makes you feel welcome every single time you enter the house. It’s the sister that never misses a meeting. It’s the sister that will text you good luck on your test day. It’s the sister that is always taking care of everyone else. It’s the sister who is always cleaning the chapter room without anyone ever even knowing. It’s the sister that forgave you for hurting her feelings. It’s the sister handing you tissues at a funeral. It’s the sister handing you tissues on your wedding day. It’s the sister who showed you it’s ok to be vulnerable and guarded your secrets safely. It’s the leadership consultant that makes every single member see their importance in the chapter. It’s the advisor that dedicates so much of her time and energy just to see the chapter thrive. It’s the little, unremembered acts of kindness that make the biggest impact.

Eleanor Roosevelt said: “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” That’s why I chose Spot of Tea as the place to hold our IRD celebration. Strength is showing up in the tough times too. Life is rough sometimes and we all have storms to go through in every single phase of our lives. Strength is who we were, who we are, and who we’re becoming. Strength is the sister that holds your hand through it all. It’s the sister who knows when to give you space and when to hold on tighter. It’s the sister that just knows when you need a hug. It’s the sister that was there through the good, the bad, and all the in-between. I saw strength in every single sister as a collegian and now I have the privilege to see it in my sisters as an alum. “We stuck together, no matter the weather and that ain’t gonna change.”

So, this is my prayer today. I pray for my sisters all around the world that are celebrating IRD. I pray for my sisters from my chapter and all the other chapters. I pray that they see their strength. I pray they only grow stronger. Thank you for leading me to these women. Thank you for putting them into my life. Thank you the good times and the bad. Thank you for the storms and all they taught me. Thank you for sisters who take on the rain for me. Thank you for sisters who face the wind with me. Thank you for allowing them to teach me how to be a beautiful and purposeful woman. Thank you for allowing them to teach me how to be a strong woman. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I hope you dance.

There is an article going around called: “10 Ways Your Little Is Actually like Your Child.” I saw the article a few months ago and immediately knew it was true. It was on my newsfeed again today and I’ve been thinking about my littles this week something fierce so, I thought I would pray for them today.

They have impacted my life so much and brought me so much joy! I literally can’t even imagine my life without them. They have become a part of me. Here are the 10 ways that the article describes:

1. “You enjoy spoiling her.”

Trueeeeeee. I spent months saving and shopping and crafting to make sure they were taken care of during I-Week. I still love spoiling them! For Diamond, it was her birthdays. I made sure her door was decorated every year and that she knew she was loved. For Katie, it’s my time. I know she values the little things so, I try to set aside time each day to talk to her or spend time with her. I want her to always know I’m there. For Avery and Alecia, it was their I-Week baskets. I crafted out the wazoo! I think I literally had like 10-12 canvas paintings for each of them. I wanted them to know that I loved them and that they were important to me.

2. “You’re protective over her.”

One of the best things my big did for me was to protect me. From literally everything. She completely took care of me so, I tried to pass that protection along to my littles.

3. “You give her what she wants.”

“If she wants to borrow anything, it’s hers. It’s like everything you own might as well be hers too. If she needs a favor, you go out of your way to do it for her.”

4. “You’re responsible for her behavior.”

Becoming a big is a tough job sometimes. My big was there to catch me when I fell and help me learn from my mistakes so, I hope I did that too. Every now and then I’ll have these moments like Rodney Atkins and I’ll start changing the lyrics and singing She’s mine.

I yelled she’s mine that one
Got a wild-hair side and then some
It’s no surprise what she’s done
And I’ll take the blame
And claim her every time
Yeah, she’s mine and she’ll always be
The best thing that ever happened to me
You can’t turn it off like electricity
I love her unconditionally
I’ll take the blame
And claim her every time
Yeah, y’all, she’s mine
I thank God, she’s mine

5. “Your relationship is judgment-free.”

I tried to do my best to have open, honest relationships with my littles. For Kristin, it was pref night. I have literally never had a pref night like that one. I don’t even know how it happened, but I gave her a little part of me that night. We poured our hearts out and literally cried. She said she felt like God was leading her to Alpha Gam and it was all I could do not to claim her as my little right there and then!

6. “You mentor her.”

“Any tips and tricks that have helped you get by in college, you want to share with her. You want her to know all of the shortcuts, all of the dos and don’ts, and all of the secrets you never knew. You want to warn her about every mistake that you made and learned from. Anything you can possibly help her with, you do.” I tried to share my experience with them as much as possible and let them learn on their own at the same time. I wanted them to have the best experience possible.

7. “You show her off.”

“You’re actually like that mom that brags about her child to all the other moms.” Yes, I am. I am so deeply proud to call my littles, mine. I have invested in them and cherished them. I want everyone to see the potential I see in them. They’re fabulous and everyone should know just how fabulous they are.

8. “You feel for her.”

“When she’s happy, you’re happy. When she’s upset, you’re upset. You hate to see her going through a hard time and it hurts you just as much as it hurts her. If she’s down, you do whatever you can to cheer her up. Her happiness is just as important to you as your own.”

9. “You listen and give advice.”

“It is almost maternal in the way that you offer your advice.” I have tried to always be there to listen to them. I want them to know they can come to me with anything and everything. Nothing is too big or too small. Keith Urban and Eric Church have this new song that I completely loveeeee that explains it.

“Raise em’ up
You’ve got a voice, you’ve got a choice
Go make some noise
Don’t ever let em’ tell you
Who you are”

10. “You love her like family.”

“No matter what she does, you will always love her.” I may not have raised them, but I am so thankful for the people that did. I hope I have helped them as much as my big helped me. I hope they know they are loved and important. They are gonna change the world someday and I so thankful to be able to witness it.

So, that is my prayer today. I pray they know they are loved. I pray they know how special they are. I pray they know how smart, generous, kind, thoughtful, talented, and amazing they are. I pray that we only get to know each other more in the coming years. I pray they love their time in Alpha Gam as much as I did. I pray they learn a lot and grow as much as possible. I pray you protect them and guide them. Thank you for putting them in my life. Thank you making them the people they are today. It’s been my honor to be their big and I pray they know just how much it means to me to be their big. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You have been my God through all of it.

I’ve been praying for the woman I want to be and the girl I used to be. I don’t wanna lose that little girl that still inside of me. She believed in seeing the good in everything because she hadn’t seen the bad yet. She loved wholeheartedly because no one showed her hate yet. She tried new things because no one told her she wasn’t good enough yet, but eventually they did. Dove has this commercial that says 6 out of 10 girls will stop doing things they love because they feel bad about the way they look. I did, which only made me feel worse. I stopped cheering because of other people’s opinions. I was a toothpick as a kid so, I still don’t understand. Plus why people thought taking me out of sports was going to help anything. I mean, here’s the thought process she’s gaining weight so, let’s stop letting her work out and run and play and exercise. That makes sense right? It took me years to learn that the voices telling me no should have been turned into a loud resounding unshakable yes. In college, I learned to dance anyways. I might be the worst dancer in the room, but I’m having fun and that’s important too. Now, I don’t stop dancing. Whether it was in philanthropy competitions with my sisters or down the isles of Walmart with them or taking a dance class with my person for an elective or dancing around Alpha Gam’s chapter room for no reason with the very people that inspired me to be a better woman. My best friend and I already made plans to play Just Dance and DDR on the wii this summer!

Those women taught me how to become the best version of myself. They inspired me to do more, be more, and love more. They loved me for all that I am and saw the potential in who I could be. I don’t wanna lose that woman either. The woman I hope to become. One thing that didn’t change from who I was or who I want to be is that I pray. One thing remained that You were there through all of it. You were there the first time someone told me I wasn’t good enough and every single time since. You were there when my sisters taught me all that I could be. And You’re here now.

“I look back and I see You
Right now I still do
And I’m always going to”

So, this is my prayer. Today, I wanna pray for who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’m becoming. I pray for all that you’ve taught me and are still teaching me. Thank you for my sisters and for their love. Thank you for being there through it all. Thank you for leading me. Thank you for guiding me. I pray that I hold onto some of that childhood innocence. I pray that I keep striving to be better and to grow. I pray that I learn to be content right where I am too. I pray that I trust your plan. I pray that I give it all to you and let you take me by the hand through it all. I pray that I only grow closer to you. I pray that I keep seeing your work in me through it all. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.