Running with Fire

Some people are born with a calm, gentle spirit and a quiet demeanor. My mother, however, was not.

She’s not rude, but she’ll tell you like it is. There isn’t much sugar coating coming from those lips.

She’s not obnoxious, and she doesn’t seek to make her presence known, but she isn’t akin to sitting in the background without a voice.

She voices her opinion. She stands up for what she believes. She chases what she wants. She isn’t afraid of confrontation. And she doesn’t apologize for who she is.

She is every bit of fiery red that covers her head. And I love her for it.

As I have said, she goes after what she wants.

At 12 years old, she worked for my grandfather in his finance business. After saving money she had earned, she took it upon herself to meet with one of their customers, purchase a horse, and have it delivered to her house. Yes. A 12-year-old bought herself a horse. And more surprisingly, a grown man sold a horse to a 12-year-old.

You can imagine my grandparents surprise when a horse showed up at their house. My mother proudly proclaimed that she had bought herself a horse and that was the end of the conversation. She now owned a horse.

In the midst of wedding planning, she decided she wanted to learn how to sew. She talked to her, soon-to-be, mother-in-law and informed her that she wanted to learn to sew. Not only that, but, she wanted to sew the dress she would wear on the way to her honeymoon, only a short few weeks away. My grandmother told her that was a little ambitious of a task for the time frame given, but my mom was determined. To no one’s surprise, a few short weeks later, she left for her honeymoon in the dress she had sewn herself.

Throughout my childhood, I remember several different hobbies my mother took interest in. From sewing and smocking, to oil painting. Then on to scrapbooking and cake decorating. In my older years, it was running 5 and 10Ks, and then, learning how to shoot.

Whatever it was she wanted to do, she pursued it with diligence and commitment. She’s one who can’t sleep until her goals are met. Literally. She has been known to stay up nights on end without wavering to accomplish whatever task she has set before herself.

As I was in high school, she always joked that she was going to move into my dorm with me when I started college. She wanted to finish her degree alongside me, and, preferably, before me.

I was always pretty certain that she was kidding about moving in with me. Finishing her degree, however, was a matter I knew she was serious about it. I never doubted that she would get it done, I just wasn’t sure when or where she would do it.

With the demands of a job, and being a wife and mother, it’s nothing short of remarkable that she went back full-time to finish her degree. And finish she did.

I’m fairly certain she put more effort into one single class than I did in all 5 classes combined this semester, but I should have expected nothing less. She’s never been known to settle for “good enough.” She isn’t even one to put in “just enough” effort to get an A. If she isn’t giving 100%, she isn’t satisfied.

When she wants something, she puts her head down and doesn’t let up until it’s finished. A trait that I didn’t quite fully inherit, but I could take a few lessons from.

Her willpower really is admirable. At times, it’s frustrating. Occasionally you have to shake your head and smile- wondering what exactly she’s thinking, but being impressed by her dedication, all the more.

Sometimes, life with my mother feels a lot like following behind someone with a torch and constantly putting out the fires they set. It looks that way sometimes, too.

She’s a fiery red head who has a habit of running with fire.

She pursues her dreams with passion, dedication, and commitment, never taking “no” for an answer.

I’m thankful I have had a strong example for pursuing your dreams and never accepting defeat. My mom has been an incredible testament to what a strong-willed woman can accomplish.

She may not have a quiet, gentle spirit or a soft-spoken tongue, but I wouldn’t trade her fiery passion or unapologetic attitude for anything.

She has taught me to be strong and dedicated. To chase, relentlessly, after the things I want in life. To never except “no” as an answer when it comes to chasing my dreams. And to never listen to the naysayers or dream crushers.

We’re different, but very much the same. What I lack in boisterous opinions and blatant upfrontness, I believe I make up for in strong-willed mind and stubborn, hardheadedness.

Anytime someone points out how stubborn I am, I smile and think, “Just wait until you meet my mom!”

Not many people can say they helped fix their mom’s cap and gown on graduation day, or got to watch her walk across that stage. I’m so thankful I got to be there to celebrate all of her accomplishments and hard work.

You did it, mom! You graduated before me, just like you always hoped. I love you. I’m proud of you. And I will celebrate your accomplishments with you forever.

University of Mississippi Class of 2016

SHE DID IT!!

IMG_7504IMG_3317-1IMG_3334

 

Drop the “If” and Do It

Last night, as Preston and I were discussing how our days went, he mentioned a conversation he had with one of his coworkers. As they were talking, the man mentioned that if he had it to do over again, he would have gone into the finance business.

My head dropped a little when I heard that. Not because there’s anything wrong with the finance business, but because I hate seeing or hearing people talk about all of the things they could have done or would have done or wished they would have done. The look in their eyes when they talk about all of the things they regret not doing. You can see them imagining how different their life might have been with those choices. And my heart aches as I watch them long for a different life.

With everything in me, I want every person I meet to absolutely fall in love with their life. I want all of their dreams to come true and all of their goals to be accomplished. I hate seeing people beaten down by life and feel like they haven’t done enough to be good enough.

So, as I was sympathizing with this man, I casually asked how old he was. Judging by his statement, I had already assumed he must be pushing retirement age. Or, at the very least, nearing 50. A man who was responsible for a family and felt it impossible to drop his job and pursue a new career. I was ready to offer the most comforting, positive, reassuring statement I could muster on the man’s behalf.

“How old is he?”

“22”

Excuse me? Come again.

Twenty two. A whole 3 years into official “adulthood.” Just 3 years ago, he was a teenager. And three years later, in his mind, he’s cemented his career choices.

Since when did 22 become the age we cement the trajectory of our life in stone? Are we all suppose to know our lifetime career at 22?

Maybe it’s horrifying because I’m 22 and still have so many areas of the field I want to explore. Or maybe it’s horrifying because it’s absolutely not a realistic conviction.

Either way, I’m going to pass on this idea. No thank you. That is not how this is suppose to work.

If I had it to do all over again.”

Well, listen up, buddy. You DO have it to do over again. In fact, there isn’t even much you have to go back and do over at this point. You’re just getting started.

“But I have bills to pay and mouths to feed.”

Absolutely, you do. And this isn’t a chance to neglect those responsibilities. It won’t be easy. But, as Momma always said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”

Just because you are young, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. I’m not trying to argue that it will be. The truth is, the decisions we make all have consequences. Sometimes, those consequences lead to making our life more difficult.

But notice that choice of words. It makes it more difficult NOT impossible.

Starting school. Chasing a degree. Switching careers. Climbing the corporate ladder.

None of those things are going to be easy, especially if you have a laundry list of other obligations you have to fulfill. But what’s easier? Working towards your goals, sacrificing along the way, to achieve the life you want. Or working a career you resent for the next 50 years because you didn’t think you had another way?

Make a way. Do what needs to be done to achieve your dreams, and don’t stop until you’ve achieved them. The pride you will feel standing at the end of that journey will far outweigh the heartache you went through to get there.

It won’t be easy. It never will. But I can guarantee it will be worth it.

Alongside me, there are 2 single mothers, 1 military spouse and mother, and a grandmother all working towards their B.S in Nutrition to be a Registered Dietitian. They all have a crazy amount of responsibilities to juggle on top of school, and they amaze me everyday. But they have chosen to make their dreams a priority. For themselves, their families, and their future.

It’s never too late to go after what you want. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it. Don’t live your life saying, “If I did it over again I would….”

Drop the “if” and do it. Step out of your comfort zone. Push yourself to the limit. Give it everything you have. Make the necessary sacrifices. And just do it.

Your future self will thank you.

tumblr_mc74ti2vV61qah2fqo1_500

 

 

 

So the Lord Surrounds His People

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.”- Psalm 125:2

It’s funny how ordinary events can spark extraordinary ideas, isn’t it?

For 18 years, I have gone to the same church. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night that I was alive and well, I was at church. I never had to wonder if we would go or where we would go. I knew.

Maybe it was because I never remembered a time where I didn’t have a church family. Or because a lot of people in my church family were actually my family (last I counted, I’m related to 25 of you (; ) Or maybe it was because I considered my close “church” friends, simply my friends, that I never made the connection.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined close to 50 other young adult and college individuals for a Spring retreat with my newfound church family here in Nashville. Friday night we made our way to Short Mountain Bible Camp in Woodbury, TN, and got ready for a packed weekend.

To end our first night, we all stood around a bonfire and sang in worship together. The songs we sang were very familiar. I had sang most of them many times, including the one that hit me the hardest…

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

So the Lord surrounds His people.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

So the Lord surrounds His people.

Surround us, Lord.

Surround us, O Lord.

We need to be in Your presence.

Surround us Lord.

A short, simple song. That suddenly made a thousand light bulbs go off in my head.

As I looked around, I was literally surrounded by God’s people. Many of whom I did not know. But here we were, all singing the same words, in praise to our same God. We were asking God to surround us, and as I looked around, I realized He already had.

And that’s when it hit me. THIS is why God ordained the Church. THIS is why organized worship is a vital part of Christianity.

It’s not about appearing holier than someone else because you go to church three times a week. It’s not about a check list we have to accomplish to “earn” our reward in Heaven. It’s not just something we do because we’re told to. And it shouldn’t be a guilt trip we have to give ourselves to motivate us to attend a worship service.

Church, as God designed it, goes way beyond those four walls, public prayer, a quality message, and singing praises. Church, in all of its fullness, gives us a community of people to share life with. People who will encourage us in the hard times and rejoice with us in blessings. We are created to be a community that can physically surround our people with the presence of the Lord.

There’s something incredibly valuable about finding a group of people who can serve as your family when your biological family is miles away. People who surround you with love and encouragement and step in to take care of you when times are tough. I guess it’s a value that you don’t fully appreciate until the ones who always did those things for you are gone.

Those times when you’re sick with the flu and 300 miles away from your mom. Or you get a flat tire and your dad is in another state. Or your birthday falls in the middle of the week and your family is too far away to visit. But your church family shows up ready to fill that gap. Soup and crackers for the flu. A quick tire change. And dinner and a cake to celebrate your birthday.

Those moments are worth more than gold. And they are all found when a church is functioning as a family, surrounding each other with the presence of Christ, just as the Lord intended.

God knew what He was doing when He ordained organized worship. And it’s to our benefit to take full advantage of the community we find there.

“and let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Thank you for pulling me in and loving me well Crieve Hall. You are gracious.

565015_4750452687604_961572694_n10943712_10205853231358309_6882264415926888493_n11049645_10207400742325116_945247812150539571_n11215866_10207567601456490_3709359828637902742_n13055495_900817054749_8147375893384293876_n13055582_900816949959_7155104487512148695_nIMG_6161