Freedom over Grief…

I sit here in my chair thinking back on all that has happened over the last 6 years. See, 6 years ago, my mom went home to be with Jesus. It would be really easy for me to sit here and wallow in sadness today, of all days, for all the things she has missed – birthdays, graduations, my wedding day, etc. And I did that for a long time – off and on, I would have seasons where I was completely overwhelmed by the weight of grief. I had a hard time allowing myself to be joyful in the Lord through the ups and downs of life because my mind was consumed by my grief. I didn’t know how to overcome it. And then Jesus spoke to me.

It was just last year. I had felt God moving in my heart and bringing me to a season of transition where I knew that God was calling me to do something but I did not know what it was and I know now that my grief was consuming my mind and blinding me from seeing what God was calling me to do. I was sitting in a worship service at church and I was writing in my prayer journal the same thing I had written countless times – “Lord, heal me. Heal my broken heart. Strip me from this grief. Heal me, Father.” And then it was like a light bulb came on. I immediately thought back to the story in scripture where Jesus tells the lame man to get up and walk for He has been healed. And I knew Jesus was talking to me. He was telling me to get up and walk – I had been healed, I had been healed all along but I just hadn’t gotten off my mat and accepted that healing. I have been given freedom through salvation in Jesus Christ yet I was living in chains of bondage called grief.

There is joy through grief. You can still miss your loved ones after they’re gone yet find joy in the Lord. You can do both and it is because of the freedom we have in Christ. But just like all of the other chains that bind us, we have to make a choice to walk in the freedom we have been given and to be joyful in the midst of our grief.

I found a blog that I had written the week leading up to my mom’s passing 6 years ago. I had forgotten that I had even written it. This was the week where I knew we were going to lose my mom and yet, I had so much strength that can only be attributed to the strength of God. I included a song that had been encouraging to me during that week and it’s still one that I cling to today. No matter what roads you’re walking right now, know that we can still find joy in the Lord. I have left you with a play list of songs that have given me strength the past 6 years and I hope it’s encouraging to you along your journey as well.

 

Why Juice Plus?

About a year ago, my friend Brittney had been posting on facebook about a product called Juice Plus. I had never heard of it but as someone that has been battling the need to lose a significant amount of weight for about 6 years, I inquired and decided to give it a shot. I love being able to support my friends in buying what they are selling and my research showed that this product was proven to work.

I am 100% serious when I say that placing my very first JP order was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. What I quickly learned about JP is that this is not a weight loss company like I had previously thought. The company is specifically for developing healthy living for the entire family by implementing more fruits and veggies into their diet through their product. But for me, I have experienced weight loss but I’m more grateful for how I feel than what is on the scale.

I completed the Transform 30 last October and I wrote about my experience in a previous blog post that can be read here.

Over the past year, I have been researching the benefits of Juice Plus almost daily and I am truly inspired by each and every medical journal and testimonial I read. And the main reason for that is because I look back on the culture in which I grew up and I know that the culture I build within the walls of my home will be one that promotes healthy living to be passed on to future generations.

If you have just started following my blog, you may be unaware that in the past 11 years, I’ve lost several members of my immediate family – including my parents. The cause of death for each member of my family that we’ve lost over the last few years were different yet alike in nature – my family did not put their health as a priority. Being a southern girl, I know about all things deep fried and smothered in butter and I learned it all from those I love most. Yet here I am – 29 years old, taking my health seriously and I would give anything if my family had taken the time and energy used on diet fads, pills and everything else marketed as a quick fix in the 80s and 90s and had invested that into prioritizing proper nutrition and exercise.

My mom was my age when she got pregnant with me. I think that at the time, she would have told you that she would live another 40-50 years more. Instead she did not take care of her body, even abused it, and lived only 23 years after I was born. That’s scary for me! That’s the legacy that was left for me and I refuse to pick up a yoke of slavery cast by genetic predisposition and an unhealthy home culture. I’m living in the freedom that comes from choosing more and I’m choosing preventative steps at 30 so that I’m more likely to make it to 90. I’m choosing to leave a legacy of health and I’m starting now.

I believe whole heartedly in the sovereignty of God and that perfectly healthy people are diagnosed with life threatening diseases every day that ultimately take their life sooner than they would have wished. I am not blind to that at all. What I do know is that God refers to our bodies as a temple and we are instructed to be good stewards of all God has given us.

For our house, we are choosing Juice Plus as a method of adding additional nutrients to our diet that our bodies are craving. We are going to be mindful of what, when and how much we are eating. We are going to prioritize exercise into our daily schedule.

Why? Because I want to live a life of obedience to God in where I’m serving but also in how I’m serving and I believe God is deeply concerned with how I’m taking care of my body. Because I love my husband and I want to live a long life with him. Because I feel that the Lord may call me to be a mother one day and I want to do everything I can now to prepare for a long life of motherhood, and I pray that we have more time with our children than I had with my parents. Because I have 4 nephews and I want to be a part of their lives much longer than I had with my aunt and uncle who are no longer with us. Because I hope I’m a grandmother with as much spunk and laughter as my grandmothers and I want to be with them through as many milestones as the Lord allows.

I write this because I have grown so passionate about proper nutrition. I’m passionate about it because I am passionate about life and living it well. And I’m passionate about proper nutrition because I have never felt better in my whole life and I want to tell everyone! Juice Plus is the real deal and if you’re seeking a way to flood your body with proper nutrients, I would greatly recommend that you give Juice Plus a shot!

❤ C

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Order Juice Plus Here!

Our Silence is Making it Worse…

I started this post yesterday but I was too scared to post it. I was afraid of what would be said by those who will disagree with me. I could visualize the silent “ssshhhh little white girl, we don’t speak of things like this” glare that would come from some people but this morning when I woke up, my husband said, “Another black man was shot by a police officer yesterday.” And I won’t let those who may disagree stifle my voice any longer because this is an important issue and now more than ever we need every voice lifted high.

I want to preface this by saying that I am in no way writing a piece that is anti-police. That is not my intent at all and if that is what you take from this than you are not truly hearing my heart on the matter. There are bad apples in every bunch. There are ministers being arrested on sex trafficking charges. There are teachers/coaches arrested for inappropriate relationships with students. There are doctors selling prescriptions on the street. We can all likely name someone within our line of work that has made a poor call in judgement. And by acknowledging this, we must be honest with ourselves and say that there are also men and women in uniform who are not apt to using sound judgement based on fear (because let’s be real, their job is scary!), prejudice, sleep depravation, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and the list goes on and on and on. There are many more good men in uniform than bad… I know a hand full of them, they are good people who are truly looking out for the good of the people. But let’s not turn a blind eye to those who aren’t.


7/6/2016: My husband and I watched the video of Alton Sterling being shot while being pinned down on the ground by two police officers in Baton Rouge, LA, last night. I recall thinking, “What is wrong with these people?” and then I rested comfortably and fell asleep. I didn’t do anything, I was upset that this has happened YET AGAIN and I went to sleep. It’s like I’m numb to it now. Black people are slaughtered in the street so frequently that I’m not even moved to say a word any more because I feel so helpless that I just go to bed.

There’s a problem here. And I think it lies in folks just like me. See, I never have to worry that my husband could be pulled over for a busted tail light and be shot and killed. I don’t have to worry that my nephew could be out on his normal run, just training for cross country, and be mistaken as if he’s running from the police and be shot and killed. Growing up, we would set up a table in front of the drug store in Humboldt during the Strawberry Festival and sell toys and bags and costume jewelry (basically anything that would sell!), I never had to worry that an officer might notice that my dad was carrying a handgun, which is registered and legal in the state of TN, and that he might be pinned down, shot and killed. And it’s because we’re white.
And the problem lies in my silence. I’m white and I don’t carry those fears and I feel so completely helpless when these things happen ALL of the time that I say nothing! White friends, we MUST link arms with our black brothers and sisters and stand with them and proclaim that Black Lives DO Matter!! And I think that there are some of us that think that this is just a black issue and that we need to stay out of it but that’s the problem!
We need politicians on both sides of the party system to speak out. Our politicians need to stop worrying about losing votes in an election year and speak up for what is right and that is getting to the root of the problem and fixing it. And before you ask, I don’t know what that fix is but we have to spur one another along to finding it!
We need our pastors to speak out about this. We, as a Christian community, need to unite as the body in which we were created and stand up for justice. You who were so vocal about our crooked justice system this week when we learned that Hillary Clinton would not be charged in the recent FBI Investigation… are you equally outraged about this injustice? We must set our agendas aside and stop swinging to the right and to the left and start fighting for an issue that is right in front of us.
So, when you see #BlackLivesMatter being plastered around, they are NOT saying that your life does not. They are not putting themselves of more importance than other races. They are not saying that ONLY Black Lives Matter. And I hear people say that they feel this way but you have to take yourself out of the equation and recognize that this is not about you. Their fear is real and we can no longer turn a blind eye to the lives of those that killed and those who were acquitted of those charges. They are taking a stand. And we should be standing with them. And unless we are standing up and rallying around the issue at hand, our silence is making it worse by not acknowledging that there is a real problem.
So I’m calling out to all of us who feel helpless and like we don’t have a voice here because the pigmentation of our skin doesn’t match those being wronged in this instance – we do! And if we do not speak up, we’re part of the problem!

It’s just not about us.

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that you may have life and have it in abundance.” – John 10:10 HCSB

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

Hey Friends!! I hope you had a great 4th of July celebration! I had an amazing time of eating way too much and enjoying time with sweet friends and their kiddos through all things summer – fireworks, water slides in the back yard, kick ball, even a little flag twirling to the sounds of LeAnn Rimes rendition of “God Bless America” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”. (Seriously, if you’re not following me on snap chat, you’re missing out!)

As we celebrated, the theme “freedom” came up a lot and that is my word for this new season in my life. I found myself reading recently in John 10 and I had this moment where I thought about this idea of abundant life that is promised in this passage of scripture and how that relates to the freedom we have in Christ.

I’m going to get real transparent with you here: I may be alone in this but after you’ve read a verse in the bible 100 times, do you ever find yourself kind of skimming over it and having a brief “Christiany” overview of it’s meaning? (This has convicted me to my core of how many more pieces of scripture I just skim over with a very general thought of it’s meaning while missing so much truth that God wants me to take to heart, yet I just pass it over!!) Well, sadly yet honestly that’s how John 10:10 has evolved for me over time: this verse pretty much gives us hope that basically, Jesus will give us a better life and we should follow Him instead of following the ways of the world. I’m getting this all wrong!!

I mean, it’s true in a sense – Having trust in God gives us a peace that is only by faith placed in Christ BUT… the way in which we experience a more abundant life as we see promised here in scripture is really through a change in perspective through faith in Christ and in his power by recognizing this life is not about us at all.

Story time: June 1, 2007, I was 20 years old and was dropped off at the airport by my mom and dad with two large pieces of luggage (with about 10 pairs of shoes, I’m sure!), a full backpack and, without a doubt, a Vera Bradley bag to spend two months in Scarborough, Maine along with 9 other college students working with churches in Southern Maine. We said our goodbyes, my mom with her huge coach bag hiding tears with her large sunglasses while my dad in his traditional garb of Wranglers, boots and a cowboy hat, did a excited shout and a legitimate heel click as he exited the airport in an attempt to embarrass me – it didn’t in the slightest.

We flew into Boston to meet other students spending their summers working with churches across all of New England. We had a couple of days of sight seeing, had orientation and then we were loaded up and headed north. We were in a large van making the couple hour trip to Scarborough {just south of Portland}. I recall sitting toward the back of the van as we crossed the state line and it was pouring down rain, perhaps even hailing, as we passed the big blue Maine state sign that reads, “Maine – The Way Life Should Be.” In that moment, through the rain and hail I felt a peace come over me and I thought to myself, “I’m going to love it here. My whole life is going to change here.” And I was absolutely right.

Marilyn was my supervisor. Picture a literal firecracker in a small, mid-50’s, 5’2” ish petite frame. She is still one of my favorite people on the planet! One day early that summer, I’m sure in a moment of pure selfishness on my part – the details are fuzzy but I can imagine I was requesting a stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee – Marilyn looked at me right in the eyes, with her glasses sliding down her nose, “Casey, this is not about you!” Ouch, right? 🙂 I spent the next 8 weeks pondering those words and learning more and more ways that I make situations, and this life in general, all about me. Throughout that summer, I realized how God had used her words to teach me of my purpose in this life, in light of my summer in Maine – this summer is not about you, Casey. It’s about all that I {God} am going to do in drawing people to myself through the love I’m going to pour out of you onto these people. It’s not about you and your comfort or your preferences, you just happen to be the instrument I’ve chosen to use for this season in this place for this task.

Now 9 years later, I’m still repeating these 5 words to myself and it dawned on me recently that I don’t believe we, as a Christian community, have taken that same message to heart. When we think of a life more abundant we think of all of the blessings we will receive by following Jesus because without even realizing it, we think it is all about us when really it is and has always been about God’s glory shown through our faith to the world.

When we walk through valleys and are faced with hardships, it’s easy to ask “God, why is this happening to me?” or even, “God, what is it that you’re trying to teach me?” We slap a Christian cliché on our heavy burden backpack of how God will never give us more than we can handle when it was never a burden for us to carry on our own in the first place. {The grief of losing a loved one is not placed on you because you are strong enough to carry it, the pain of infertility is not placed on you because you are strong enough to bear it, I could go on and on. Insert struggle here.} The road to following Jesus was never promised to be an easy one but how much lighter of a load might it be if we realized that this life is not about us and our perspective was shifted in light of God’s ultimate control and sovereignty. What if instead we called out, “God, I know you’re in control and you are working all things for my good. This burden is heavy. Will you show me how my life can bring you glory in the midst of this trial?”

The problem with that ever popular tag line is that it puts us at the focus and how strong we must be or God wouldn’t have allowed “that” to happen – NO! God is not in the business of putting us on a pedestal for our strength! No, God is in the business of standing firm on the pedestal that HE rightly deserves because it’s when we deflect all attention from ourselves and cast it back on Him that He is Glorified and HIS Strength is made known around the world and people are drawn to HIM. That is His ultimate goal – for people around the world to come to faith in Christ and worship HIM as the one true God and until we, as a Christian community, realize that it is not about us we are not truly doing our job in fulfilling the Great Commission as directed in scripture. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was not meant to be placed on a shelf, it was meant to transform you daily and  for others to recognize God’s power through that transformation. But we can’t be fully transformed if we think this life is all about us.

It’s just not about us! Not one bit of it! We are simply instruments that God has chosen to use because let’s face it – He didn’t have to. This is the God who created the earth and the sky and everything around us. He does not need us at all but the abundant life that we’ve been promised comes from having faith in Christ, trusting in His control, rejoicing in our suffering and giving all honor and praise to Him and allowing Him to use our hardships and circumstances in spreading His fame around the world and seeing others come to that same faith in Jesus Christ. That is abundant life, my friends, and the sooner that we realize that it’s not about us and all that God is going to give us in our earthly life yet it’s all about trusting Him in this life because our ultimate destination is WITH Him in the after life, the sooner we will be able to bask in the freedom we have available through the grace of Jesus Christ.

I feel like I’ve unloaded a lot of information today but this message has been stirring in me and I feel it’s too important not to share. We walk around carrying heavy burdens, we carry shame and we carry fear and I’m here to tell you (from loads of experience) that we can not live freely as we’re called until we lay them down at the feet of Jesus and acknowledge His goodness and His sovereignty! As always, I would LOVE the opportunity to connect with you and encourage you no matter where you are along this road to growth in your faith journey. Feel free to comment below with your email address and I would be honored to walk beside you through prayer.

❤ C

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Bailey likes my “window seat” too!

“Looking for Lovely” Review

Hey Friends!!

Along with guest posts, another new part of my blog will be book reviews! Totally taking you back to 3rd grade but this time with no word counts and no red pens! 🙂 I know so many ladies that are looking for new books to read so I felt like this would be a good place to put reviews, mine and those of my friends, of books we recommend.

Our first review is on the book “Looking For Lovely” by Annie F. Downs. You’ll see that we have each given it 5 gold stars! We all loved it and I loved how much our reviews were similar with one another! Crazy how God works like that! Read more about Annie and her ministry at her site, http://www.anniefdowns.com or follow her on all social media platforms @anniefdowns.

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Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs is inspiringly honest! Having just completed, Let’s all be brave by Annie as well (also so so so good!!), I could not jump into “Looking for Lovely” fast enough – and I had it finished in less than 48 hours thanks to audiobooks and 2 hours of commuting each day! 🙂

Annie walks you through struggles she has met along her own journey and how she has found God in the midst of it all. Annie does not shy from the brutal truth of the season of “broken crazy” where she found herself seeking God for a true transformation. As someone that graduated college 4 years ago, I found myself so familiar with “broken crazy” and I’m still trying to figure out what adulting is all about. All I know so far is this: Adulting is hard and I don’t really want to do it anymore but I haven’t found a “pass and go” to get past the hard stuff and neither did Annie. She talks about hard things like counseling; which sounds like such an ugly word to us, especially those of us in the church, but if we were all real honest with ourselves, everybody could use a little counseling – but that’s just my two cents! 🙂

The way that Annie tells her stories, you feel like she is your best friend which is what pulls you in to where you’re unable to put it down – or drive an hour without starting a 30 day free trial of the app audible because the thought of going any longer without reading another word is just dissatisfying. 🙂 I recommend you pick up a copy of Looking for Lovely. From the first page you will feel like your heart has just sank down into this comfy couch of realness and humility where you, too, will find yourself vulnerable and relating and will be encouraged to Look for Lovely in your life – and you will find God there, too.

❤ C


Lojenna1oking for Lovely is a game changer! You will instantly fall in love with Annie and feel like best friends! I couldn’t p
ut it down. Every chapter gave me a need outlook on finding the lovely in even the smallest of everyday things!”

– Jenna Cherry, my lifelong best friend.

I went on Amazon and sent her this book before I had even gotten my own hands on a copy after a strong recommendation from another friend. We are planning our own “Looking for Lovely” weekend since we can’t attend the one Annie is hosting here in town! 🙂


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“Looking For Lovely is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. As I read the book, I felt like I was talking to one of my best friends in reading Annie’s stories. Looking for Lovely became a lifeline during a season of my life that was far from lovely – I was in a tough season of seeing dreams change and everything in my life just felt really hard. Annie’s words became a challenge: to find the lovely in my life even in the midst of the “broken crazy”. From perfectly timed sunsets to really good cupcakes to new dreams being inspired in the midst of broken ones – I was able to find lovely and Annie’s book was a huge part of what God used to restore my spirit. I HIGHLY recommend Looking for Lovely as it reminds us that we’re all broken, but in the midst of our brokenness, God has intricately placed all the lovely things – we just have to look for them!”

-Legon Craighead, one of my dearest friends. Legon read this book first. She started all of this and we’re SOOO grateful!!


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“Looking For Lovely is by far the best book I have ever read. I instantly felt a connection to Annie, as if she was writing this book about my life too! During this season of my life, I have found each word on every page to shine a light on so many issues I have dealt with recently. Seeds of sorrow, pain, tragedy, singleness and plenty of “broken crazy”, Annie helped me bring to life a path to find freedom, the lovely. I learned that I must be broken to be rebuilt, I must live always with grace and perseverance and become brave because I have purpose. Through music, in people, various places, and things like nail polish or my “sushi”, I have embraced my “broken crazy” and set out to find the lovely. I am finding that it is okay to be an unfinished story, one where the Lord is leading, I just have to “trust the path”. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. When you seek that out, the most lovely, it truly will change your life forever.”

-Kaisey Taylor, the friend who always keeps you laughing even in the midst of inner struggles. Kaisey and I have something in common, our past wouldn’t show that we are good at finishing books so I was overjoyed that she fell in love with Looking for Lovely.


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These are my people. Aren’t they lovely?? Thank you Annie for writing this book that has meant so much to us!

❤ C

Dear College Freshman…

Hello again Friends!!

About this time every year I pull out my laptop and a blanket (because I have a macbook and it’s always super cold on my pale summer legs) and I write a post dedicated to college freshman. I grew so much as a college student and I have a heart to encourage students in where God is leading them during such a crucial time as those 4(ish) years on a college campus. This year, I thought it might be fun to hear from someone who just finished her freshman year – my sweet friend Margaret Anne.

Margaret Anne Byrd is one of my favorite people on the planet. I first met Margaret Anne and the entire Byrd clan when I was asked to lead worship at children’s camp in 2010 – the year her mom (one of the funniest people I’ve ever met!!) coined the phrase “Choices were made…” and then that was the theme for camp the very next year but that’s a story for another day.  Since I met Margaret Anne, I have always prayed that God would give her a heart to serve the Lord in missions and I can’t exactly tell you why but I have just always seen her big heart and knew that she would fall in love with the cities and cultures and people if she ever took the leap to go on an international trip. I was thrilled when she shared about a trip to Haiti and was honored to help her raise funds to get there.

The reason I asked Margaret Anne to write this piece is not just because she just finished her freshman year – it’s because I believe she did it well. So many times I see college students who are so concentrated on their major (which they’ll likely change in 3 semesters) or even in finding a husband (live your life, he’ll be worth the wait!) that they miss out on just experiencing college and living in the moment. As much as social media will allow (I mean, how did we really keep up with one another before the likes of instagram??) I have watched Margaret Anne just CRUSH it – loving her sorority sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha (my grandma would be so proud – she too was a ZTA at Union! 🙂 ), making incredible grades, growing in her faith and making friends that she’ll have for the rest of her life! I’m so proud of you MA!

I hope you guys love her post as much as I do! Enjoy! ❤ C


Dear college freshman,

 

Congratulations! As an upcoming sophomore and someone who has just been in your shoes, I can tell you that you are about to have one of the best years of your life. Freshman year is all about finding your best friends, meeting new people, and finally having the opportunity to taste freedom for the first time. To put it simply, my freshman year of college has been the best year of my life. Hands down. That doesn’t mean it was perfect and picturesque, however. There was a lot of soul-searching, lessons learned, spiritual refinement, and up-hill battles.

 

So, from someone who has “been there and done that,” here are my two best pieces wisdom for you as you take the next big step!

 

  1. Go with God

 

It seems simple, but for me, it was hard…it was SO hard. For those of you who know me, you probably know that my whole family bleeds red and blue. We are ALL die-hard Ole Miss fans. We have season tickets to games, we spend more fall weekends in Oxford, Mississippi than our own hometown, and why wouldn’t we? That’s where my whole family has attended college since the dawn of time and everyone, including myself, had always assumed that I would continue the legacy my family started years ago. It was MY plan and had always been MY plan, but I quickly realized that none of that mattered.

During spring break of my senior year, I felt a strong calling to travel to an orphanage in Williamson, Haiti with some students from Union University and my best friend. (Casey’s generous donations had a huge part of making that possible!) Because I had never done anything like that at all, I was heavily relying on the Lord’s guidance. While I was there, not only did I realize that I was called to work with missions, but I also met some of the most genuine people I have ever have known. They weren’t like many of the college kids I had known. They were so genuine, compassionate, and so incredibly intentional. They asked me about my life story and genuinely wanted to get to know me for who I really was. They were servants and they were relentless in the pursuit of God’s will for each of their lives. That’s when I knew that I was completely missing the point.

MAblogpics4It wasn’t about me at all. It was about God’s plan and doing whatever I could to further his kingdom. I wanted to be like those college students; I wanted to be intentional, love others, and serve others. In the next couple weeks, I fought God a lot. I tried to run from my calling to Union University like Jonah tried to run from his calling to Nineveh. At the time, Union was everything I thought I didn’t want and I still wanted so badly to go be an Ole Miss Rebel. It took several weeks of uneasiness and constant internal conflict, but eventually I stopped fighting and did what I knew I was called to do…and that was to go to Union.

Despite what I had planned, I knew Union was where God wanted me to be and I realized that following him was the most important thing.  I was able to experience a peace and a freedom I had never felt before. I realized what true friendship was in the purest form and I learned how to accept myself where I am while also allowing God to mold and change my heart. For the very first time in my life, I was no longer searching for “one day” because I fell in love with every single day. Was it a fairytale? No, it definitely wasn’t, but by going to Union and following the Lord, I experienced everything I never knew I wanted. That is why, above all else, I knew I must follow the Lord before my own plans or desires. The idea is summarized in the Bible verse God showed me the day I decided to go to Union:

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Proverbs 16:9

We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go.

 

  1. Like Nike, “Just Do It.”

 

Getting good grades and maintaining a high GPA is important. I promise, it really is. But in the process, don’t forget that college is about the life experiences too. When I say that, I don’t mean waking up in the front lawn of a frat house with no recollection of how you ended up there. I mean quite the opposite actually. Do things that get your heart racing and make you feel alive. Allow yourself to be challenged and do things that scare you. Be stupid, go crazy, and stay up way too late. Eat pizza for breakfast and waffles at 3 a.m. because let’s be real…there is no bad time for either. Have a food fight in the dorm parking lot, pull all-nighters, put soap in the fountain, go to sports games, and play intramurals even if you only embarrass yourself. Wear face paint every single time it is socially acceptable, have sleepovers with your friends, go mattress surfing, and have a campout in the quad. Play hide and seek in the library, wear house shoes to class when necessary, and never pass-up a movie marathon. Prank the fraternity houses, go on road trips, have paint fights, and when there is just a torrential downpour outside, you absolutely must make a slip and slide. Break the rules and get yourself in trouble…but only a little bit of trouble. Get involved in something you love and genuinely invest in the lives of the people you meet. Soak in every single moment because it goes by way faster than anyone hopes it does. Most importantly, write it on your heart that every single day is the best day of the year. I promise it will change your life

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The day I moved into my dorm, I bought a small canvas with the quote, “Don’t get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” I read it every single morning and did (and still do) my best to make sure that was true for my life. After starting college, I realized pretty quickly that the beginning of college means the beginning of freedom, but also the beginning of becoming an adult and being responsible. After all, college is primarily here to help us create a better future for ourselves. That doesn’t mean simply being successful by the standards of society. Being wealthy and “put together” is all fine and good, but pointless without learning how to live genuinely and fully. Too many people are just forgetting the whole point and leading unfulfilling and boring lives for the sake of existing and never learn what it means to truly live. Don’t just live to survive; live to thrive.That’s why I always say “Just Do It.” College has taught me to seize every single opportunity I can because I don’t want to lead a boring life. I don’t want to spend four years and a ridiculous amount of money trying to achieve academic perfection to look back and realize that I wasted what could have been some of the best nights of my life on nights in my bed binge watching series on Netflix. I don’t want to grow up to simply pay taxes and die. I don’t want to be on my deathbed and regret not living fuller or bolder. Making a living is important and that’s why I’m in college getting a degree. But I am also in here to make a life. I am here to live without regrets. I am here to love and to serve. I am here to try to make any kind of lasting impact that the Lord may allow me to make. Over the course of the past year, I have seen too many bright students and gifted athletes get stuck in the same toxic cycle. They leave the nest to spend every weekend of their first year of college drunk on the floor of someone’s dorm room or passed out in an alley. That’s the definition of a fun night for so many college students. Don’t be one of those. Hold tight to the Lord and his word and allow him to fill you with a passion for life and adventure. Freshman year is a good one. Don’t waste it on nights you don’t remember or with people you wish you could forget. Chase after the Lord with fierceness, never lose your thirst for life, and don’t forget to soak it all in because it goes by way too fast.

 

All the love,
Margaret Anne Byrd MAblogpics