Saturday, February 1, 2014

O N E || The Story of a Girl

It is the first day of the challenge! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, take a peek HERE.

The #blogeverydayinFEB challenge begins with you. Your story. Your testimony. Y. O. U. And me. ;)  I wanted to start off the challenge with a chance for everyone participating to share what makes you uniquely you. Where did you come from? What has greatly impacted you? What's your favorite color? Etc, etc, etc. One of my favorite parts about blogging is getting to see a slice of daily life on the regular, but when you know someone's story, their struggles and their specialities are so much sweeter. Here is the button if you'd like to attach it to your post or sidebar for easy access. I can't wait to meet you all!

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Alright, I'll stop rambling. You want to hear my story? Well... here goes nothing.


Twenty-two and a half years ago, God granted me the gift of life. I was born to two wonderful, Christ-loving parents in the good ol' Lone Star State. Two years later I was joined by a little sister and we went on our merry way. Some of my most vivid memories of childhood include my parents teaching my Sunday school class, dinners and weekend visits to my grandparents' house just up the road, and trips to the rodeo. When in Texas do as the Texans do, right? ;)  

According to my parents, I had the gift of gab and was quite the articulate child. I remember the drive to the hospital to visit my new sister (yes, at two years and 3 months), perched in between my grandparents in Pop's old brown truck. I remember the book I was given and reading it with my dad on the floor of Mom's hospital room, and meeting them on the front porch when they finally came home. 



I also vividly remember the day I accepted Jesus into my heart. It was in kindergarten, and if you wanted to pray the prayer you stayed in during recess to talk with the teacher. I was so excited! But then the one girl in the class that I did not particularly like decided to do it the same day I did. (Ha, you can see how even then my little heart needed forgiveness and grace!) Though I may not have fully understood it then, I knew Jesus loved me, was with me, and had died for me.  At the time I attended Robinwood Christian Academy and would remain there through the fourth grade. The teachers at that school were SO impactful in my young relationship with Jesus, and to this day I credit them with being much of the reason I desire to teach. 

At the end of my 4th grade year, we learned that our beloved school would most likely not open the following year. I was heart broken. I was also in Disney World, which I'm pretty sure my parents planned on purpose to be a nice distraction. Even so, 5th grade approached and I was a nervous wreck. I moved to another private Christian school, this time slightly larger than the last. Stepping into a class of 20 students I didn't know sounded like a nightmare, but it would be pivotal in preparing me for later changes. A few things helped to ease the transition. I was a daddy's girl --still am!-- and when he began volunteering in the morning drop off line I happily hung to the fence to get an extra half hour with him before darting off to class. The girls and I bonded over our love for American Girl dolls and the Elsie Dinsmore books, and for a while things were golden.


It is generally agreed upon that the middle school years are the worst for girls. Most guys I know are either indifferent or say they really enjoyed that age, but for girls... it is a different story. My most painful years begin in the 5th grade. I won't go into great detail but the typical girl drama escalated and left me in tears many times. Praise the Lord for parents who gently walked me through each trial and encouraged me along the way. I made friends and I lost them. I did well in school and I struggled. I still held onto Jesus and wanted to know more.

By the way, in 6th grade God gave me a little brother. And he's still the most adorable kid in the universe.

Somewhere during my 7th grade year, the school I attended began to struggle. Its numbers dropped to nearly half it's usual size in a matter of months. Once again the upcoming school year looked uncertain. I remember the day my parents told us we were changing schools. Again. This time instead of 80 students to 160, I would be going to a school with 700 where I did not know a soul. My first to weeks of 8th grade are seared into my mind. I cried myself to sleep nearly every evening, begging to go back. TCA was functioning but barely. I wanted my old friends, my old classrooms, my old security. I had none of it here.

What I did have was my first physical encounter with Jesus. It was one of those tearful nights, lying in bed, begging God to make it better or to change my parents' mind and let me go back to TCA. When I realized that was not going to happen, I decided that if this is really where He wanted me to be and where He wanted me to go to school, I would stay. I have never felt so much peace or had a better night's sleep! Seriously, it was a major shift and a shock! 

But 8th grade, as difficult as it would still be, was one of the most transformative years of my life. God's fingerprints were ALL over it! For one thing, I took my first theatre class. And by the end of the year I was taking theatre twice a day and had fallen in love with it! I met one of my best friends and future boyfriends that year, got plugged in to an incredible youth ministry, and learned to depend on Jesus like never before.

Also I'm pretty sure that was the year social media first entered into my life. Insert embarrassing selfies-before-they-were-selfies here. Also, I think Im going to stop complaining about Instagram filters. Much better than... well, anything is better than this.


Okay, now that we've all had a good laugh, shall I continue? Feel free to scroll to where you don't have to see those gems any more. And I may or may not have wracked my brain for my old Myspace password to dig them out. My sister might not appreciate being in the back of those shots, but maybe she won't notice ;) Anywho. Let's move on.

High school arrived with full force, and I have to say that 9th grade began the uphill climb. I was on the student leadership team at church, had my first boyfriend, and was class president. The girls from TCA who caused all the drama were now at my new school, but it was mild in comparison to the previous year. I was making new friends, forming new routines, and enjoying being the goofy freshmen in the musical. All was well.

Sophomore year rolled around and everything changed. Not necessarily in a bad way, but my norms were no longer. I was dating someone new, beginning my time in yearbook, I had lost a popularity contest for class council, and had joined the Political Awareness Club with said new boyfriend to spend more time together and to hang out with our favorite teacher. This was also the year that my family decided to join a new church. Honestly, I was not excited. I was thriving in my old youth group! I was on the drama team, leading a Monday night Bible study, and my best friends went there. But we became members as a family and to honor my parents I changed youth groups. My first wednesday night high school service? Somehow they had me on stage with the worship team, mic in hand. The Lord was breaking barriers around my heart and bringing me into my sweetest season with Him yet.

The previous year, as many do when on a church-cam high, I "re-dedicated" my life to Christ. I melted down, consumed with doubts and fears and the reality of my sin-nature, and was finally able to articulate my understanding of the decision to follow after Jesus. For real. And things in my life shifted. 


I made decisions about my commitment to purity and in the relationships I had that I am still proud of to this day. Fourteen-year-old me thought I was crazy and insecure and naive, but now I want to give her a high-five and hug her neck. A wise pastor once said "Your commitment to purity now paves the way for intimacy later" and I 100% believe it. It was in high school that I realized a passion for pursuing purity and for encouraging others to do the same. I knew then that I wanted to work with students in ministry for the rest of my life, even if then I had no idea what that meant or how I would do it. 

High school began my addiction to business. Senior year was the peak: student body president, yearbook editor, drill team manager, stage manager, student ministry leader, FCA co-president (and I wasn't an athlete, I promise!). I used to joke that the only clubs I wasn't in was HOSA and the Spanish Society. I had a job at the school, keys to every door on campus, and no car. At seventeen I was terrified of driving and content to catch rides or take the bus. I was single and still friends with both of my exes, and I still feel blessed by the relationships I had in high school. I learned so much and was so honored in both instances.

Y'all, I didn't realize this would be SO LONG! If you've made it this far, WAY TO GO! Seventeen years down, six more to go. You can do it! Or you can come back later and finish ;)

I started looking at schools at the end of my junior year, and it appears that I came full circle. I started with Mary-Hardin Baylor, then decided to go to Hardin Simmons University. I knew who my future roommates would be, had scholarships lined up, and was ready to pack my bags for Abilene. Then the monkey wrench was thrown into the plan by my best friend. He said "Look at Baylor, you'll love it!" I said no, it's too big, too expensive, too anything and everything to avoid the topic. Then somewhere along the way I got an e-mail for a free application and sent my name in. Mom and I made a campus visit and --once again-- everything changed.

In the car on the way home I remember her saying, "I can see you here." I didn't want to admit it, but I could too. The next six months were a journey in trust and a time of seeing God move in powerful ways. He opened so many doors at just the right moment, it was like a neon sign over my door flashing "BAYLOR. BAYLOR. BAYLOR." It was also along the journey of finding Baylor that I decided to study theatre. Senior year I had a teacher who said to me, "You can do this if you want to. You have the talent and the passion. You can do it." For the first time, I believed it.

You have to audition to get into Baylor's theatre department, by the way, and that was frightening as all get out. My audition was also the same day as senior prom. Baylor, oh so conveniently located two hours from my house, was my first stop of the day and I was the first to audition. I waltzed in and waltzed out in half an hour, and again I had never felt that kind of peace! It was the best audition I've had, with instant connections with professors, chatting about Shakespeare, and really feeling relaxed in the room. They bid me goodbye and I bolted for the car to start my make-up and hair before meeting with my date. I told my mom that I knew and trusted that it was in God's hands because there was nothing more I could do. It had gone so well and it was up to Him to open or close the door. 

And..... you guessed it! I got in! We were in Highland Park competing for a chance to go to state with our show, and just before the awards ceremony started my mom told me the news. We were awarded alternate to state which meant the show had come to a close, but as one chapter closed another opened. I was going to Baylor University!


I celebrated my 18th birthday at Line Camp, a week-long introduction to campus life for freshmen, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was in the right place. The fall semester started and my life forever changed. 

Okay, I'll try to speed things up, because I could write an entire novel on my time at Baylor. But I already seem to have done that with the first 18 years of my life, so I'll keep it brief. Or at least I'll try.

My time at Baylor University was unlike anything I could have expected. The school was rich with tradition and spirit, rooted in service and Christ-centered. I made my best friends within the first week of classes and spent the next four years adventuring with them and having the time of our lives. I fell even more in love with theatre and found a passion for directing I never knew was possible. I was invited to a Lifegroup my first Tuesday at school and never looked back. I still say that I had never met so many people so much like Jesus in my life! They knew the heart of God and knew what it meant to have a personal relationship with him. And I wanted that!

College, for me, was a journey in learning about love. I gave pieces of my heart to people wholly unaware, and learned how to empty my hands of them at Jesus' feet. I learned what it meant to be a friend and to have strong, stable relationships with other women --something I had vowed to steer clear of after high school. I learned how to hear the whisper of God and realized that time spent with Him is vital for my success and satisfaction in life. He is worth it all!


I'll write again some time about the challenges of theatre, for like I said it's worth a novel on its own, but the culmination of college and learning to trust the Lord came to a head last spring. Graduation was mere months away and I was at a loss. My "perfect plans" for after graduation were ending in question marks. I decided to put off the big picture and look for summer internships. I also wanted to escape the Texas heat for a while so Seattle fell on the radar. Long story short, one weekend in the Emerald City revealed to me a plan that had been in the works since before I was born.

God said to move to Seattle. So here I am.


Annnnnnd..... for today, I'll leave it there. If you made it all the way, WAY TO GO! If you scrolled here to find the link up, YOU'RE GREAT TOO! I'm so glad so many are jumping in on this journey of blogging every day this month. I can't wait to read your stories and get to know you better. 

Have a happy Saturday!

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11 comments:

  1. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic but I'd be interestes in a blog link exchange.
    My blog covers a lot of interesting and helpful posts just like yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. And also, I think you'll love my recent blog post titled When Things Fall Apart – They’re Actually Falling Into Place

    I'm hoping to hear from you too and quickly, you've got a great blog here.

    Daniel.

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  2. My blog post isn't as extensive as yours, but it works for me since I'm just starting out. :) Here's mine - http://thisteachersweatsglitter.blogspot.com/2014/02/february-blogging-challenge.html. Thank you!

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  3. So sweet! I'm pretty sure in middle school, I begged my parents for a little brother ((or a puppy...either was fine by me)). But I got neither ;) I also love that you're from Texas, too!! We're on the west coast now, but love & miss it.

    Looking forward to linking up each day!

    xoxo

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  4. wow, so many bumps a long the way, but compared to someone in a third world county, our lives are so easy! God loves you!

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  5. Happy February 1! I loved reading your story! I liked mine and am so excited for the challenge! Have a great weekend!

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  6. New to your blog here! :) I graduated last Spring as well. You are very brave to move far away from everyone you know!! Good for you though and I look forward to following your journey :)

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  7. I really enjoyed reading your post- yes, the entire thing! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

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  8. I really enjoyed reading the journey God has brought you through. You are seriously beautiful inside and out, I'm really blessed to have met you through this blog! I'm really excited to post along side you this month.

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  9. Great story! And welcome to Seattle! :) Thanks for hosting this great link-up; I'm excited for this month of writing :)

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  10. Hey sweet girl! If its not too late, I would love to hop on to this challenge! School has been in my way for a bit but I would love to have a link up with you lovely ladies!

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