The Struggle to Stay

I am still in Greenville.

I graduated. I gave my friends send-offs, watched them over social media as they settled into their new jobs, and will have watched most of them get married by the end of the summer. I’m proud of them. I’m incredibly happy for them. I can’t wait to see how God uses them! But I can’t help feeling a little abandoned.

I’m still in Greenville. I never even left campus. I moved from one dorm to another. I started a new job. But I never even left campus.

This place is quiet and dull in the summer. I wished for quiet for the last four years. I take it all back now. August seems impossibly far away. Come back, people! Come back!

I’m currently living alone in a dorm room. Or, as I like to tell myself, a studio apartment on the top floor of a 4-story walk-up. This is the first time I haven’t shared a room with someone since I was about 8 years old. I don’t know anyone on my hall very well (not that there are many people here anyway), and they all stay in their rooms with the doors closed. Not much opportunity to get to know them. But hey, we all work 40 hours a week, so we’re all tired.

I like my job just fine. I’ve settled into the office just fine. It’s nice having evenings and weekends off, but maybe that leaves me with too much time on my hands.

I never wanted to stay in Greenville. Ever. I didn’t really have a good plan, but I knew that I didn’t want to stay here. It’s not just a “please-get-me-away-from-BJU” thing either. So what’s my deal? I have every reason to like Greenville. It’s a small city. The people are friendly for the most part. There’s plenty of coffee shops, a vibrant fine arts scene, a temperate climate with a long summer and short winter, every kind of store and restaurant I can think of. There are plenty of opportunities in my field. The cost of living is low. This is exactly the kind of place I thought I wanted to be. People from all over the country move to Greenville for those reasons and more. But my heart just isn’t here.

It bothers me to no end when people laugh at me and say that I’m going to be here forever. Number one, there’s no way they can know that. Number two, I don’t want to be told that I’m going to do the thing I don’t want to do. And number three, maybe my reasons for not wanting to stay are good reasons.

Greenville is packed with brilliant, talented people. That’s how the city has grown in business, the arts, and population. It makes sense. That’s certainly enjoyable for me. It’s a challenging, competitive place to build a life. But after growing up in a rural area, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the talent concentration.

I spent my whole life wishing people would settle somewhere near my family’s area and start a Christian school, or a community theater. Now,  I wish it were feasible for me to move back to the area, but there are few (if any) jobs in my field that are located anywhere near home. But no one moves back. There’s no real support to give them any reason to do so. And so everyone continues to settle in the areas where talent is already concentrated. It’s a vicious cycle.

I run into other Mainers every once in a while. We always talk about how much we wish we could move back home.

Maybe we should all just go ahead and move back already.

Staying here is easy. Maybe I don’t like things to be easy.

My heart is in Maine, not South Carolina.

whereveryouare5

 

Jim Elliot was a wise man. Living with your body in one place and your heart in another is annoying at best and depressing at worst. We weren’t made to live in two places at once.

I firmly believe that I won’t be staying here forever, but the way the doors opened and circumstances fell into place made it clear to me that staying in Greenville is God’s plan for me–at least for now. If He wanted me in Maine right now, that’s where I would be. Right now. I need to learn to be content with where I am. I need to learn how to have a heart for this area. I need to be involved in the local church and the community. I need to pour myself into the place that God has placed me for now.

 

Random Ramblings on Childhood

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Let me give you a glimpse into my childhood. Because it was epic. Kind of like this picture.

I spent all my time (when I wasn’t in school) playing soccer, reading, practicing piano/voice, kayaking, sledding, swimming, etc. I played flute in marching band. I had a million opportunities, and I wasn’t entirely grateful for them.

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The Maine coast is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Bar none.

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Yes, that is a truck parked out on the frozen lake. It’s called ice fishing.

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So our marching band wasn’t impressive…piano went better for me.

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I miss playing soccer. I was no good, but I loved every second.

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My love for reading started young.

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This is the only proper way to cook hot dogs.

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Kayaking on the lake. My happy place.

I look back on these things with an admittedly intense amount of nostalgia. My memory has likely romanticized things quite a bit. But real life is just around the corner, and I wish I had appreciated these things more when they were my everyday life.

I miss the view from my bedroom window. I could see most of town from there.

I miss knowing every rut in the sidewalk between my house and the library. I miss being on a first-name basis with the librarians–all of whom have known me since my infancy.

I miss being able to walk down the street to my favorite hair salon. I miss having my favorite stylist who already knows how I want my eyebrows to look and gets what my hair will and will not do.

I miss my mom’s cooking. I miss my sister’s laugh. I miss the noises my house makes in the night. I do not miss vacuuming enough dog hair to spin into thread and weave a blanket. But I miss the dog. I miss my dad’s hugs.

I miss running on the gravel track around the high school football field. I miss the smell of clam strips coming from The Timberhouse Restaurant. I miss the crab rangoon from Wing Wah. I miss Moxie. I miss Dunkin and Tim Horton’s.

I miss the way the rain makes the old mill smell seep out of the buildings and pavement. Odd, yes, but I do.

I miss skating on the frozen lake. I miss kayaking after the ice is out, watching loons in the summer, and seeing what the fall leaves look like from the water.

I miss walking from the cold November air into a warm kitchen that smells like apple pie.

I miss the smell of my church. I miss the baby grand piano in the sanctuary. I miss the people who belong to it–my church family. There are too many of them I won’t see again this side of heaven.

I miss the view of Mt. Katahdin from Transalpine Rd., Penobscot Valley Ave. and the cemetery.

I miss being able to take day trips around Acadia National Park.

I’m grown up now. I’m far away. And wishing I could be a kid again isn’t going to change anything. But I have good memories, and God has great things in store for what’s ahead.

Election Reflection

It is 2016–the year that conservatives have been waiting for! Barack Obama will be out of office in less than a year, and there is nothing we’d like better than to breathe a sigh of relief while watching a Republican take the oath of office.

Then again, it’s been a frustrating last couple of election seasons. Many of us are frustrated by the Republican party as a whole. A string of too-smooth moderates, a few people who are too conservative to actually get elected, and a sprinkling of people that no one has ever heard of–those have been our candidates in the last couple of elections.

This is the first presidential election I can vote in, and I have been excited about it. I’ve watched politics for almost as long as I can remember. I wish I hated them, but I obviously don’t, because I’ve just kept watching. I remember going to a “Dubya” rally during his 2004 campaign. I was only about 8 or 9 at the time, but from then on, I was hooked.

As a high school senior, I took a civics class because I really wanted to have a better knowledge of how the US government works. What’s more, I was in that class in New Hampshire during the primary season of 2012, so I got the exciting experience of actually going to several rallies and meeting several candidates. I don’t claim to have a complete or perfect understanding, but I did learn how to look at a lot of the details of an election to get the best possible understanding of what’s really going on.

I’ve noticed that people tend to make decisions quickly, based on very little information. Especially when it comes to politics. A lot of people don’t enjoy digging into politics, and I understand that. And digging for good information takes time that a lot of people don’t feel like they have. I get it. Really, I do. But it’s not something you should take lightly. Who you vote for–or even whether you vote at all–affects so much of what happens to our country as a whole!

“But I’m just one person. My vote doesn’t actually matter,” you say.

Well, voter turnout for the 2014 midterm election was only 41%. So you are not alone in that feeling. In fact, more than half the country is with you on that. So actually, it matters quite a bit.

Where politics is involved, seeing the big picture is important. But most people read a news article or two a week and make decisions based on that. And that isn’t enough to give you a big picture view.

You could get more out of the primary results, for example.

No news article I could find told me this, but some simple addition told me that minority candidates (two Hispanics and an African American) won 60% of the vote in the Iowa caucus.

Simple addition/subtraction also told me that 67% of Republicans in SC did not vote for Donald Trump.

54.4% of Alabama voters did not vote for Trump.

Ted Cruz won delegates from every Super Tuesday state except Vermont. Same for Rubio.

We started this election season with 16 candidates that people nationwide had actually more or less heard of. We are now down to five, but it’s no wonder that the vote is still so split.

If Carson, Kasich, and Bush had been done sooner, either Cruz or Rubio could have picked up some of their support and may have had a better chance at winning more states. But that’s mere conjecture. After all, Trump would likely have won more supporters as well.

If Kasich and Carson had dropped out before Super Tuesday, we would have seen a more realistic representation of what Republicans actually think of the top 3 candidates. Why are those other two still in, again?

Now, if you’re reading this thinking, “Wow, she seems like she’s all about beating Trump,” that’s because I would like very much to vote for someone other than Trump in the election. I do not like him. He agrees more with the Democrats than the Republicans. If you don’t believe me, check a few resources other than CNN and Fox. Look at what he actually says and does. Count the number of times he’s contradicted himself in the last few months. Or go on YouTube and search “Trump v. Trump debate.”

Do a Google search on what will happen to the Republican party if Trump receives the nomination. You will find a ridiculous amount of people–even educated, civic-minded people and even other politicians–who have said that they will not vote for Trump. They will stay home or vote for a third party, but they will not vote for Trump. A Trump nomination will effectively tear the Evangelical voter base away from the Republican party–possibly forever. And the election will go to Hillary. I have no doubt.

Again, I have done research. I have consulted a multitude of sources. You can too, if you utilize Google. I’m not making this stuff up. I couldn’t if I tried.

If it comes down to it, will I vote for Trump?

Yes. I will feel the same as if I had voted for Hillary, but I will vote for my party’s nominee and hope for the best. And then move back home to Maine, where I can slip into Canada quickly and unnoticed if necessary (some sarcasm intended).

If Republican leaders are smart, they will look more closely at the numbers, realize that the majority of their party does NOT want Trump, and make a decision from there. To not consider that will split the party. I don’t have a lot of faith in the Republican leadership on this point.

But you know who I do have faith in?

God. I have faith in God.

I believe without a doubt that whatever happens in this election is in God’s control. I believe that He will take care of His people no matter what happens. He has told us that he raises leaders up and takes them down again. He has promised to take care of His children.

Do you know what I don’t believe in?

Doomsday predictions. What happens to the US does not necessarily dictate what happens to the rest of the world. These might not be the last few days before the Rapture. People thought that the end times had come when Rome fell, during the Civil War, both World Wars, the Cold War… I know people  who thought that Obama was the anti-Christ!

Maybe things won’t actually be that bad, no matter who’s in office. Or maybe God wants us to suffer a little bit and learn to trust him more.

Regardless of what happens in the election, regardless of what happens thereafter, regardless of all else, I believe that God is in control.

All the panicky conservative Evangelical Christian Republican voters should be able to rest in that. Including me. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop voting. But trust. Just trust.

 

 

The Middle of My Mess

This was supposed to be the easy semester. I planned it that way. On purpose. Because I knew I would be sick of college at this point, and I wanted as little burn-out as possible. Especially after my hyper-involvement in seemingly everything last semester and the four major classes–possibly the most burned-out time of my life so far.

I’m only taking 12 credits this semester. Three classes and an internship. Classes are done by chapel. Then I go to the internship. Then I come back and have dinner. Easiest semester ever. I’m not student teaching. I don’t have a senior recital or design show. It’s not like I’m taking an upper-level accounting class. I’m not in choir, I’m not taking voice lessons, I no longer have a marketing competition to deal with, I don’t have time to go to the AMA conference in New Orleans (despite how much I’d like to). I’m society chaplain, so I pray for and with my society sisters on Tuesday, I give an ultra-short challenge on Friday, and I show up at a couple of planning meetings. That is my only real extracurricular activity this semester.

It’s great! I have time to follow the 2016 presidential race–what madness. I have time to watch the debates. I can go to anything I want to around this place (if it’s free…). I can read for fun.

I get my own desk at my internship. I have my own stapler, jar of paper clips, pens in a holder, work computer… and most of it is pink. Including the wall in front of me.

But I might have been wrong again. This has not been the easiest semester. It may be the hardest yet.

I won’t go into details, but I just started at my internship last Friday. Starting has been a nightmare so far.

I thought I would have $20 on my school bill this semester. It was a lot more than that. They tell me it’s the activity fee. I wish they had added it last semester when I could have paid for it. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but the way the statements looked, I thought it was good to go. And I’m barely working this semester.  I could sub with my extra time, but everyone seems to want subs on the days when I don’t have time. No, my internship doesn’t pay. In fact, I spend money for bus fare every time I have to go there and back.

I hate to admit it, but those are the facts, and they are stressing me out quite a bit.

I’m no chocolate lover, but this semester has already driven me to eat chocolate like it’s some kind of bizarre biological need.

What my doctor calls “the body’s natural reaction to stress” hit me this week. I’m tired. I feel dreadful. I feel depressed.

I’m sick of dorm life. I’m sick of required events. I want a bathtub, a toilet of my own, and a kitchen.

Today, I won a chocolate bar in society for a silly “twinning” competition.

Today, I got a $4 off coupon on my CVS card. My hairspray only cost 50 cents today. I almost cried.

Today, we had good news about my baby sister. I wish I could say more, but I legally can’t. I’ll catch everyone up when I can.

Today, I woke up feeling horrible. Today, it was cold. Today, I had to walk to and stand at the bus stop.

Today, the internship went better.

Today, people prayed for my family.

Today, I got a package from my Nana.

Today, I needed good news. And chocolate. And prayer. And a good day at work. And almost free hairspray.

God was good today.

 

I See the Generation Gap

The last time I felt like time moved too slowly, I was all of five years old. My dad’s parents had bought a house in Maine and moved a truckload of their possessions into it. Then, they got back into the truck, said, “See you in two weeks!” and went back to Michigan to finish moving. To this day, I remember that as the longest two weeks of my life. We’re talking 15-16 years ago. The year 2000.

And now I’m almost done with college. Boom. Just like that.

My parents/grandparents/all other older friends and relatives laugh at me and tell me that it has moved even faster for them. I don’t want to believe them, but I think it’s true that time seems to pass a little faster every year.

The high schoolers were on campus last week. I think I’m finally beginning to get why parents and grandparents can’t relate to kids sometimes. Last year, I said YOLO in the presence of a high school  visitor, and she stared at me like I had lobsters coming out my ears. I mean, I know YOLO was stupid, but what ARE they saying now?

When did “on point” become “on fleek”? Why did the 30-something ISC director know about the change in vocab before I did?

Is there a high schooler left who still has a flip phone? Would they even recognize one if they saw it?

Have any of them used a cassette tape or VHS?

Truly, I grew up during some kind of transition. Or maybe every generation feels like this.

I was going to write an advice post for sixteen-year-olds, but I’m not sure I can even relate. I’m not sure I still speak the same language.

I was going to tell them it was ok to cool it with the eyeliner, but then I wondered if anyone still says “cool it.” And then I thought about it and realized that none of them were going overboard with the eyeliner. That was me. Those were my people.

I still remember 9/11. As in actually remember it. These kids don’t even remember when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry. Tomorrow marks 13 years since it happened. And I’m still affected by it because I wanted to be an astronaut back then. I watched that shuttle launch. I followed the news about it (as much as I could in those days). I was devastated when I heard about the disaster, and then I decided that the risks, math, and science weren’t worth the excitement of such a career. But I digress.

I look at the world around me. I look at the people around me, especially the younger people. I can’t believe how much things have changed in just the last 5-6 years. I can’t imagine how my parents and grandparents feel. I mean, today, I posted a link that tells about an alarm clock that wakes you up with a fresh cup of coffee. This is the stuff of sci-fi movies. The future has arrived.

But to all those sixteen-year-olds that think I’m a kill-joy who says things that are so last decade, let me tell you a few things that are timeless.

Boys are never worth it. Until they are. But save yourself the trouble for a few years.

There is more to college than fun. Most of it is not fun. The grownups are just nostalgic and misled you unintentionally.

Someday, you’ll recognize an SAT vocab word in one of your college textbooks.

It–whatever it is–will not be the latest/coolest/greatest thing in a year. Save your money. For college. Seriously.

You can always find a friend who is a kindred spirit. You don’t need to change anything about yourself–fashion, body type, fandoms, personality, or anything else–for anyone else.

Becoming more Christlike is always a good reason to change, though.

And above all, let’s agree on two things:

First, big hair needs to stay in yearbook photos from the 1980s.

Second, raccoon-like eyeliner needs to stay in my yearbook photos.

Gucci?

On fleek.

Or something like that.

 

What Happens After College

It’s the question every college senior hates: So, what are you doing when you graduate?

The honest truth of the matter is, most of us have no idea. At all. So we stammer something about job applications we’ve sent out, interviews we’ve had, and where we hope to end up.

Some of us will end up at at Chick Fil A, or Starbucks, or… GET A JOB IN OUR FIELD OF STUDY!!!!!

Some of us will get married.

Some of us will continue our education.

I really hated the “after graduation” questions for a while. But I am hoping to pursue grad school next fall. I am hoping to find a place as a GA. I have applied, and now I’m waiting. But when people ask me what I’m doing next year, at least I have a respectable response.

The thing is, I thought that I would hate the question less when I had a response. I actually hate it more. The reactions I’ve been getting have been more frustrating than the original question. Because the reactions have primarily been negative.

I know that when people ask the question, they’re curious, concerned for my well-being, desirous of knowing how to pray for me, etc. And I know that when they react, it’s out of…mostly concern. I appreciate that. But I also think I am about to speak the truth for a lot of college seniors.

Whatever the senior’s response to the question and whatever the well-wisher’s reaction to the response, the response is probably not what anyone expected.

To put it more simply: I have given my response. You have reacted negatively in some way. You are surprised. So am I. This isn’t the way I thought that things would go. This wasn’t in the plan. I may or may not be dealing with my attitude in this area. Your negative response is not helping.

So I’m going to be specific now.

People who learn about my grad school aspirations have responded to me with one of two reactions. If they know me well, they ask, “What about your boyfriend?” If they’re more of an acquaintance, they ask (with a shocked facial expression), “So, there’s no man in the picture?”

I want to communicate something very clearly here. Grad school does not have to mean the absence of a romantic relationship. The presence of a romantic relationship does not have to mean the absence of grad school. These two things actually have nothing to do with each other.

I went to college for a B.A., not an M.R.S.

I will be pursuing an M.A., not an M.R.S. That’s not what this is about. That has never been what any of this has been about.

In May, I will be graduating without a glittery rock on my left hand. But that doesn’t mean that I, or my boyfriend, or anyone else failed along the way. It’s called God’s timing. If you’re looking at it as some kind of failure, you can take it up with Him.

I’m not bitter. I’m not disappointed. Maybe a little bit jealous, because my wedding board on Pinterest is seriously out of control, but hey, I’m human, and it’s only natural for a girl to dream.

But the diamond, the gown, the wedding… that’s not all there is.

There’s so much to learn about! There’s so much to see! And I don’t feel compelled to rush into marriage, because I’m young, and (Lord-willing) I’ve got nothing but time!

A lot of my friends WILL be getting married this summer and fall. Some of my friends are already married. A few are even expecting babies! And I’m beyond happy for them! That was God’s plan and timing for them, and I’m happy to see them happy.

But I don’t feel ready for all of that. Marriage takes a lot of commitment, love, and hard work. And that’s not what God has for me yet. So I am going to grad school (again, Lord-willing).

Life starts the day you’re born, not the day you get married. I’ve lived for the last 20 years without marriage. I think I can make it another 2 or 3 years.

I won’t even go into my position on working women and using the degree you worked for. I’ll save that for another post.

But if you’re reading this, and you’re an older adult with college-age acquaintances, I have some suggestions for you. And I’m humbly begging you to implement these.

Do not ask them why they aren’t getting married if they are not.

Do not ask them why they aren’t going to grad school if they’re not.

Do pray for them.

Do tell them that you are praying for them.

If you are disappointed in their decisions, do your best to hide it.

I guarantee that the student you’re talking to has thought long and hard about his or her future. I guarantee that they’ve agonized over their decisions, praying long and hard. Many of them are underwhelmed by what’s going on in their lives, so they are already trying to work through their disappointment. Help them find the positives, if you can.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful or ungrateful to my older friends. I know that you are trying to help. And I appreciate all of you who have prayed and continue to pray for me as I finish my undergraduate career. I trust that you will pray with me as I seek to follow God’s leading in my future.

Here’s to the class of 2016! Let’s finish strong, guys!

New Year Reflections

I can sum up 2015 in one word: change. I started the year at my grandparents’ house in Michigan rather than at home with my parents and siblings. I was unbelievably homesick. So on New Year’s Eve, I went to bed around 9:30. My phone woke me up at midnight, and I groggily checked my messages. There was a text from the guy I had been texting all through Christmas break. We texted until a little after 1 AM. Then I went back to sleep. By March, that guy was my boyfriend.

In April, my parents told me about their intention to become foster parents. I can’t say I had a good attitude about that news. In fact, I begged them not to do it.

When school ended in May, I went to stay with family friends in SC for the summer. The object: find a job. I did. I started working at Kohl’s (and loved it, despite how badly my feet hurt) at the beginning of June.

A few days later, my parents were asked to foster a baby girl. I begged them not to do it. But I gradually got used to the idea. At the end of June, I held her for the first time–instant love. I try not to think about the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother. I’m still quite bewildered by the fact that adulthood has hit.

August saw more uncertainty. Should I go back to school or not? I was going to lose more in scholarships if I sat out than I would be taking out in loans in order to stay. So I stayed.

I worked three jobs for a while, then dropped one, because I was about to drop dead.

Fifteen credits is a light load, yeah? Lightest load I’ve ever carried. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezie. I’ve never been more wrong. Taking four major classes in one semester is a mistake which should be avoided at all costs. You’re welcome.

Add choir, because I was so determined to keep it. Add voice lessons, because I was determined to keep going. Add a major team project for the University Marketing Association. Add a society office. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced more burn-out.

Last month, we found out that my grandma’s most recent round of chemo hadn’t done much good. She decided not to continue treatment, and though it was difficult, my family supported her decision. I’m obviously sad. I love my grandma, and the thought of losing her is not a thought I want to dwell on. But I also know that she looks forward to being reunited with her Savior and being free from the pains of sickness here on earth.

God used that news to change something in me. If I’m really honest, this has been a spiritually dry year for me. I’ve resisted change, and in so doing, I’ve resisted God for bringing the changes into my life. And looking ahead to the beginning of 2016, all I saw were more changes. I feel almost as if my soul stiffened, bracing itself against what was to come. I sat through a semester of chapels and church services, barely hearing the messages. I knew I was miserable, and I knew why. But I didn’t feel like making the effort to change. I was content to wallow.

Maybe it sounds cold and unfeeling to say that the news of my grandma’s health was the first thing that I really accepted this year. But really, I’m powerless against illness and death. I can talk myself into and out of things. I can (attempt to) talk my family members into and out of things. But when it comes to the results of cancer, I can’t do anything. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but I will have absolutely zero influence over the outcome. There was no sense in fighting. There was nothing to fight for. There was nothing to do except send a prayer of “Thy will be done” toward heaven. So I did, and I could almost tangibly feel the weight of that burden go upward with the prayer.

It was time for society elections just a little bit before Christmas break. I took my name off the ballot for the chorister position. I’ve been chorister for a long time. It’s time for someone else to take over, especially since I’m graduating this spring. But someone had nominated me for chaplain. I don’t know who did it. I’ve been nominated for chaplain several times, and I’ve always wondered why. I never took my name off that ballot, though. I’ve always felt that I shouldn’t refuse the position, but I never thought I would be voted into that office.

I was voted in, and it almost didn’t register. I’m going to be society chaplain. And there is no one less qualified than me. I am a horrible Christian. I mean, really. Just terrible. And to be voted into the position after the most spiritually dry semester I’ve ever had! Why? How? Oh wow. I’m supposed to be like…a good spiritual example…and I’m really just a horrible one.

Just before exams started, all the presidents, vice presidents, and chaplains of all the societies on campus were required to attend a meeting. I hate meetings. Hate them with a burning and passionate hatred. Most meetings can be covered in an email. If discussion is needed, that’s why there’s a reply button. And reply all. And Facebook messaging. And text. And group texts. I’m a communication major. The inefficiency of meetings bothers me. But I digress…

We went to the meeting. I sat with my president and VP. Later on, we discussed some things with the officers from our brother society. It wasn’t a bad time. And then, we three girls started walking back toward our dorms.

My society president is a sophomore. Some people would be nervous about having an underclassman as president. Some might even resent it. I am not nervous, and I do not resent it. In fact, I voted for her. She is a sweet, godly girl with a fantastic leadership and work ethic. She displays wisdom beyond her years, and she also has a fantastic sense of humor. I am incredibly excited to serve with her, our VP, and all the rest of our officers. But she shocked me.

“I’m really glad you got elected as chaplain. I was really hoping you would, and when I got president, I was like, c’mon, God, this is her last chance, and this would be perfect!”

“Wow. That’s quite a compliment! I’m not sure I deserve that, but I do appreciate it.”

“Girl, even when you were leading songs, you always had something to say. You didn’t just get up in front of us and say, ‘Ok, we’re singing this.’ You wanted to make a spiritual application, make sure that we thought about what we were singing. You’re love for God shone right through.”

I don’t remember what I said to that. She was so mistaken. How could my love for God come shining through when the thought of loving God hadn’t even crossed my mind in months? When I hadn’t heard–really heard–a sermon in months? When my devotional habits had been sporadic and unfeeling for months?

All I could think was, “God, I need You to change me. Yes, that’s right. Change. I need You to change me, because I don’t want to mess this up. I DO want to point the girls in my society to You, and… I can’t do that in the condition I’m in right now. I don’t want to fail these girls–my sisters by heart and through Christ–and more than that, I don’t want to fail You anymore.”

It amazes me how God places just the right people and circumstances in my life at just the right time! What a jolt of reality!

I didn’t used to make resolutions at the New Year. What’s the point in making promises that you don’t intend to keep, am I right? But there’s some new resolve in this year.

I want to cut down on the unhealthy eating habits. As much as I love Doritos… and Chick Fil A… and Coke… it’s gotta get back under control.

I need to work out…because of all the Doritos, Chick Fil A, and Coke.

I need to be less resistant to change.

Most importantly, I need to walk closer to God.

I’m going to fail. I know myself. I know I will eat and drink the bad things. I know I will find reasons to stay off the track and out of the fitness center. With the coming internship, graduation, plans for grad school, and whatever else is coming my way, I know I will have a hard time adjusting with a good attitude. I’m never going to be the person who looks at the coming tidal wave of life changes and screams, “BRING IT!”

There are going to be mornings when I will hit snooze on the alarm and choose to sleep longer rather than spend time in the Word.

But it’s not about the failures.

A just man falls seven times and rises up again.

I hate cliches, but this one is right: it’s not about the failures; it’s about what you do with them.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

Happy New Year!