Embarking

Why Oracle? Why Austin?

Typical questions you get right out of school.

Are you passionate about technology? No, but beginning to catch the Tech Nerd bug.

Spring of your senior year can be one of the most exciting and daunting times. You get this sense the entire world has just unfolded-it’s like flipping through a magazine catalogue or online shopping. You can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. Depending on your situation you don’t need to even get a salary.

Yet it’s also terrifying…

Oh I was supposed to have spent the last four years figuring out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Shoot I think I’ve seen more options that I ever have before, had new experiences, and am currently more confused with which option to take than ever before.

Sometimes you’re so busy doing life, being present, keeping up with your current job and school work that you don’t set aside time to dream. If you’re in college and reading this, please block out time on your calendar to be alone once a week with the Lord and dream. Turn off your phone, leave it in the car, take your dream journal and just dream. Looking back I sincerely wish I would have done this.

Sure I had a general plan in place. Ring by spring, be a June bride, decorate a cute little place, and be the local news broadcast morning anchor. Man was picked out, major in place, internships check, resume check, website check, we were good to execute the plan people.

Until life happened. Until the Lord rocked my world consistently tearing apart my plan for His good purpose. This whole “Tower of Babel” theme you may have read about in earlier posts, oh ya I didn’t learn my lesson the first time. The sinful planner in me came out once again.

In the spring as friends began narrowing down their job interviews I froze. To illustrate one of my good friends literally hates Subway because she gets too overwhelmed by all the choices available. She either avoids Subway as a whole or has someone order for her. Point blank that’s how I felt. Either let’s avoid this deal or someone pick for me. But the pressure was on. No one would be there to take care of me anymore. People had already stepped in way out of their way, I had to learn to stand on my two feet and truly run. The pressure was on, and I could paying of my student loans already breathing down my neck. It felt like I was standing at a cross roads. There were five different paths I could take.

I could continue to date and possibly marry said boy (which was the plan since 4th grade). And not just any boy. This guy-dedicated, loyal, faithful unto the Lord, handsome, heart of pure gold, and cream of the crop. The one I had waited to date for fifteen years. It was just supposed to work, that was part of the plan. I’d be a reporter first, but then hopefully the morning news anchor for a local Little Rock station. But it wasn’t clicking like I had dreamed it would.

I could work in Dallas for a public relations firm. Live up the Dallas life like I had the summer before. Already several friends were moving there. Community would be set and strong with a big Baylor presence already established.

I could go to seminary in Dallas. A wonderful opportunity, but that would mean more student loans.

I could go do the Forge, a discipleship program through Pine Cove, but that would be expensive but worth it.

I could take an offer to work in NYC for a public relations health firm, but living in NYC is crazy expensive and needing to pay off my student loans… that could be a train wreck of stress, but would it be worth it? (Crazy God side story: I was literally giving a tour of Baylor when a precious mom stopped me and said you need to meet my friend. You would love her! This woman immediately called her friend (the CEO of a major health PR firm in NYC) and put me on the phone.)

All these options and more swirling round and round ev ray day.

“Can you come to Austin tomorrow for an interview?” said Jonathan Carry, former Rice football player, Oracle college recruiter at the Baylor Career Fair. Earlier in the semester my marketing class was tasked to come up with a product or service for Oracle. Full on marketing project and presentation people. None other than Jonathan Carry viewed our presentations and liked our product “Rendezvous” -a one stop product for entrepreneurs to run their financial applications, social media channels, email, track shipping, and entire business without logging in and out of these various applications-ultimately saving them time and headache. After the presentations, Jean, my roommate and marketing teammate at the time, and I both stopped by to introduce ourselves to Jonathan. We chatted for a bit, but Oracle was not on my radar. It was just one of those big tech companies, and I knew squat about tech besides my iPhone. Let’s just say my MIS teacher at Baylor Ms. Moore was fabulous, but MIS was not my thang.

Press forward to the career fair where I literally stopped by the booth for the simple “why not just say hi to Jonathan to keep up a connection” when he dropped the interview invite. So there I was that evening studying about Larry Ellison, relational databases, the number of Oracle employees, and what the heck the “Red Stack” was.

Next day made the two hour drive S on I-35, got there literally an hour early because I was so nervous. I mean this is No.81 on Fortune 500 ranking and No. 13 out of IT companies kind of big.

The people were helpful sharing interview tips, friendly, essentially they were approachable. The first interviewer asked, “tell me about a challenging time.” Immediately I told him about not being able to go back to Baylor and all that the Lord did to allow us to return. When I shared of others giving and coming to our aid his comments surrounding the story made me pause again and be thankful for the opportunity to even sit for this interview and the people that got me there. Oracle only recruits from certain schools. Baylor is on the list, but the community college I may have ended up going to probably isn’t on the list. Again I reflected on God’s provision in placing me.

My next interviewer had this Boston style, ex-baseball player, coach kind-of mentality. It was time to put on your game face and play hardball. I felt this competitive spirit rise within me to prove to him I was more than just a sweet little Southern Belle, but that I am a hard worker and want to win for the team- that I don’t give 100%. I give 250% into all I do. This tenacity in me came out in the interview, something the Lord would be growing me in through this role.

Fast forward this guy, good ole BGR, becomes my manager.

As I head back to the front of the office I look around at all the cubicles. Clearly I heard the Lord say, “this is where I want you to be. I want to you love people here for my glory.”

Shocked by the statement I went into this thinking, “Oracle is my back burner. I could use the offer to leverage this with some PR firms potentially.” It was not top of the list to say the least, but the interview experience got me thinking a little more seriously about Oracle.

I continued with other interviews but couldn’t rattle what the Lord had said at the office. Maybe this was provision. Maybe this was where He wanted me instead of my plan. Just like that I put four to five options on the table, and God throws in a wild card.

Austin? Really?

Austin was for weird people, hippies, and moon worshipers. Austin Stone was cool. It’s an artsy city, a creative greenhouse, warm, and outdoorsy. Hmm I could handle that. No one I knew was moving there, so adventure right? But it’s still in Texas. I’d still be close to Mary Cate for her senior year. Ali would be in Waco. Abbey would be in Houston. Rachel and Fender would be in Dallas not that far, and I wanted to branch out.

I wanted to embark.

Embark on a new community, explore parts of myself I never had time to before, and most importantly to heal.

The last three to five years had been personally traumatic. Everything from betrayal, self-hate, regret, releasing of fantasy plans associated with certain people, survival, fear, anxiety, depression, loneliness, identity crisis, lost of family, lost of community, lost of home, etc.. Times when I chose various sins as almost this dark baby blanket of old nature instead of trusting the Gospel and walking in the newness of life He offers.

Healing. I knew I needed it. I knew I needed time to accept it.

I felt like a racket ball that had been swatted at across the room over and over for years without a break. Given the Lord had provided many wonderful times of joy and blessing through the midst of it, but on a whole the journey left me exhausted and confused.

“Laura Beth I am your provider. I’m providing healing, the ability to pay off your loans, restoration, rest, newness, trust me this is going to be a sweet time between us.”

So Austin? Sales? Oracle? okay here we go.

My oh my how I have been blown away by this opportunity in Austin to work for Oracle. Thankfully the Lord placed me on an incredible team with a great manager who’s style allows for creativity and independence. I love how our team comes from all different walks of life and backgrounds, more importantly I love learning from them. Together over the past nine months we’ve journeyed through watching Jeremy become a dad, Sakief get married and build a home, Rami buy a home, celebrated each others birthdays, and added great members to the team along the way. But it’s neat because we’ve become this little family.

Authenticity

Before Oracle I thought you were supposed to keep your personal life and work life separate, which is healthy to some degree, but these are the people I spend 45 hours with every week for nine months totaling around 1620 hours. So needless to say you get to know each other. Oh how the Lord has been so gracious to provide several friendships and insights.

My eyes have also become open to the authenticity that comes with working together, because these people see you on your good days, your bad days, and all in between. They see more than anyone, probably since high school, my reactions-which go one of two ways- trusting in self, trusting in others, or trusting the Lord. Unfortunately they probably see more trusting in self than trusting the Lord, which has been eye opening from an accountability stand point, and I’m thankful for it!

The desire of my heart is for them to see Jesus alive and at work. To see that I trust him more than self or selfish ambitions, but the desire may look different than my daily actions. It’s led to several good “heart checks” as Momma Moore would call it.

The more beautiful thing is that I went into this job thinking “okay the Lord wants to use me to share Truth” which I did not realize at the time how arrogant, prideful and self-righteous that statement was. They have taught me more than I could realize at the time. They have in subtle ways made me face the mirror to what I believe and how I act-for that I am extremely grateful. I’m thankful for the many gifts of friendship with them and to be invited into their journey, their families, their homes, and their lives. Daily I pray that the Lord bless them, watch over them, and draw them near to Him. In no way do I ever want to shove the Bible at someone. If I claim to follow Jesus and read about Him, He first had compassion on people, loved them well, provided food for them, and worked to meet their needs. Sometimes that looks like driving someone when their car is messed up, taking them a meal, writing an encouraging note, whatever opportunities come in to show His love, not my selfish love.

If you listen to what people speak about, you’ll hear what their passions are.

And it’s true! If you are truly living your life seeking after Jesus and to make His Name known, it will come up. You will talk about Him as you process decisions with people, wrestle with ideas, and bring others in along on your journey. As you are vulnerable, they will be too. And if they see first the Gospel of Jesus redeeming your life as you trust Him instead of yourself, maybe they’ll see Jesus in a different light. Maybe they’ll ask you.

But if you care about them as a image bearer of the Lord that He created maybe you’ll ask them too what their story is, why they’re here, and where they want to go.

Invest.

Invest because you truly care about them. This is not a “how many people can I get to pray a prayer for Jesus and get saved?” tally mark race. This is much deeper. We’re talking about the souls of men and women here. We’re talking about a deep love. We’re talking about journeying with people not handing them a prayer book on a street corner and maybe inviting them to church. Hey people have been saved that way, but when I read about Jesus he didn’t ask them to hand out scrolls of the Gospel.

He sat and had dinner with the people- not just the rich, religious, intellectual, healthy people. He sought out the poor, the broken, outcasts, all ages, all races, all and talked to those around Him. Those who were at the market when He was there. He noticed His surroundings and invested in them. Heck his inner circle of friends, the 12 were fisherman, tax collectors (ya the people everyone at that time hated for scamming them), greedy, poor, selfish, and He invested in them. He loved them deeply and took care of them emotionally, physically and ultimately spiritually.

So how are we approaching our surroundings?

Who are we pointing the glory to in the decisions we make?

Thank you Jesus and coworkers for showing me the times I’m trusting in self instead of Jesus. Please continue to renew my heart and serve you, instead of self.

Community

You’re going to work for a stingy, backstabbing, Fortune 100 company and in sales where all the greedy, greasy people are? Literal comments I heard going into this role. Needless to say I was nervous, guarded, and thought my friends would have to come from outside the office. I would just go in, be nice, work hard, and then go home to my friends.

Well when you’re 23 fresh out of school in a brand new city, you cling to whoever is around you at the time and they become your support system. Let me tell you it’s like a repeat of freshman year of college all over again except you don’t have a sorority or Baylor Welcome Week group to help you make friends. You’ve got work, church and the extended network of people you may meet from there.

So moving into Austin in July and leaving in a week for training in San Francisco didn’t leave much time to dive into community at church. So I boarded the plane and off we went all 250 of us new Austin hub Oracle peeps fresh out of college wide-eyed and eager to conquer this thing called “adult working life.”

They put all 500 of us from the other Oracle hubs together into the Crown Plaza in Burlington, CA outside of San Francisco for three weeks. This was also the farthest West I had ever been was skiing in Colorado or good ole Tucson for road trip spring break with the Hootenanny girls. Already on the plane ride over I loved hearing about one girl’s family heritage and trip to Israel. Everyone was from across the country with unique stories that the journalist in me couldn’t wait to interview and unpack.

All in all the Crown Plaza will bring you together, or maybe we’ll actually credit the fact that you were essentially all in a residence hall for three weeks together and have no one except each other. But regardless we went experienced life together-embarking on adventures, throwing the football around at Dolores Park after having one too many from the bottomless mimosas,  dining together, keeping each other awake during the training sessions, and biking across the Golden Gate bridge together. These people became your home team, because it was all you had available and bonus they happen to be cool people. Win!

What I didn’t expect to find is a community who passionately love Jesus working at work. The Lord sparked the idea to one of the guys while we were at training to start a prayer group/bible study. Ten people showed up to the first one. There we were at breakfast with everyone was eating around us, could see we had our Bibles opened, and welcomed anyone who wanted to sit down and be part of it.

Two of the girls I met in training Jenny and Macaully plus their mutual friends grew into a bible study going through the book of 1 Peter. It’s a dynamic group of girls who aren’t afraid to shed some fronts and be open, raw, and honest. Something quite refreshing and rare in culture today. These girls have become my home team. The ones I would call if I was sick, needed something, I mean these are the girls you know have your back and are going to not only call you out on your sinful ish, they’re going to hold you tight, comfort you, and ultimately point you to Jesus. THAT IS RARE! It is SO rare to find that kind of squad right out of school in a new place, and weekly if not daily Macaully, Jenny, and I praise God for this crew.

Not only that but precious Jenny and I grab coffee together downstairs at Starbucks every week. Sometimes it’s twice or three times a week if needed. It’s truly hard to describe to you how much I truly treasure these coffee dates. I literally get giddy happy like Golden Retriever puppy when we’re about to go have coffee, plus refreshing beach breeze, a sprinkle of comedy, a dab of therapy, a squeeze of vulnerability, and an out pour of Truth revealed. To sum it up it’s literally THE BEST thing since someone put cookie dough in ice cream people!

An then recently to learn there’s already a group of older sales reps who meet together, pray, and study Scripture together once a week. All around people are just popping up who didn’t just fill in “Christianity” as their religion preference, but people who loved Jesus deeply and are committed to wanting to know Him more.

But this was the place you told me stingy, backstabbing, greedy, greasy people worked. I’m happy to report you couldn’t be more wrong, here I have found loving, encouraging, would take a bullet for you kind of relationships. And for the record there’s some of that in all of us because we’re frackin’ human people. We are sinful by nature.

Don’t leave your faith at the doorstep after you finish your coffee and daily scripture reading/devotional book. Bringing Jesus into every element which includes work. Let Him surge through the hallways, cubicles, and desks as His people from all walks of life come together.

He says, “where two or more are gathered in my Name there I will be” Matt. 18:20. So people I can confirm for you God is at Oracle-Austin. God is at work. He is alive and full of awesome surprises that humble you and remind you that He is God and you are not.

In His mercy He throws us curve balls right out of left field. He wipes away our blueprints that we just want him to sign off on, and instead He lays out a blank canvas. The ultimate artist, Creator, and party planner has already orchestrated it all. He’s the best author there ever was, is, or yet to be. I’m thankful that He’s writing on a much bigger scale than I was. Sure I struggle daily to accept this new adventure tangled and matted with screw ups and pain along the way. I struggle to accept the current status instead of my “Little Rock Barbie Dream House TV anchor” plan. But oh how I am grateful for the lessons learned and for the MANY I have yet to learn.

So when I doubt that I’m supposed to be in Austin, supposed to be at Oracle will someone reading this please smack me upside the head and remind me that the Lord works all things out for His good according to HIS purposes? Thanks.

Someone once told me, “Following Jesus isn’t fun.” It may not be what you originally think or grew up associating as fun, but if you like adventure it’s one sure hell of a ride people. 

You’ve just got to be willing to embark on what He has for you.

Speechless

 Don’t ever put it past God! Tonight I witnessed the unbelievable. He is working on a canvas beyond my wildest imagine. Tonight the Lord paid for a flight. Tonight He provided the way to go raise money for widows and orphans in New York City.

I’m shocked to even say that just two weeks ago at a Chi O Christmas party was where this journey began. My sweet momma was talking with another fellow LRCA mom, Melody Taylor. Melody shared a prayer request with my mom. Go Near Ministry, a non-profit organization she and her husband started to serve widows and orphans, greatest need was for someone to do marketing and Public Relations for them. My mom jumped to tell her I’m studying Public Relations at Baylor and could possibly help.

The next conversation radically impacted the trajectory of my Christmas break and beyond. I felt the presence of Jesus’ excitement as Melody and I collaborated over this opportunity. My heart was captivated as Melody shared the ministry of caring for widows and orphans in Nairobi, Kenya. A tad overwhelmed at first, I left my hands open to see what God had in store.

Filled with unexplainable joy and enthusiasm that could only come from the Lord, I walked away pumped for the next phase. Ooh I got that “eeeek!” feeling in my stomach I was so excited!

It was this beautiful experience I had been begging God for- an answer to prayer. Crying out saying: “Lord please show me how to combine these passions? Show me where you want me to walk!” The idea of using writing, PR, and creativity created a thrilling passion that I’ve never experienced before!

Following Christmas, Melody Taylor and I met at her sweet home as I listened to her describe her beautiful passion for the people of Africa and the compassionate ones  involved with Go Near Ministry. She and her husband Lewis established Go Near Ministry as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2005 to respond to God’s call to care for widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27). Their passion led to transporting the family of six across the globe to Niarobi, Kenya to serve in 2007. Even after returning to the states, Melody continues to vibrantly engage people in participating in sharing the Gospel to widows and orphans in Africa. Today the ministry has expanded to a supportive role of raising funds for, and bringing volunteers to help with, the expansion of schools, churches, feeding programs and vocational training programs for men and women in the slums and prisons.

After being educated on the ministry I began rapidly working on a new website to clearly communicate their vision staying up till (mom don’t read this part) 3 a.m. a couple nights in a row to wake up for work at 8 a.m, but I just couldn’t stop. I was hooked- addicted to helping in any way I could.

Go Near Ministry

Allowing my creativity to run wild, I presented the design to Melody and the Go Near Ministries board of directors, who loved it.  With their approval, Melody sent me onto my next opportunity to meet with VP of James127 Foundation, Hannah King.

j127 intern

As I walked into the new Starbucks on Chenal Parkway, I met the joyful and passionate Hannah King, who began to explain James127 Foundation to me. James127 Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that brings hope to widows and orphans by providing free sewing and jewelry training to vulnerable women in Kenya. Instantly we were spring boarding ideas off each other-allowing dreams to flourish. Then she offered me the opportunity to be the first-ever James127 Foundation intern!

After hearing about James127 Foundation, I learned more about what Anna Taylor is currently doing. Wow! The Lord has created such a passion and infused Anna Taylor with amazing talents! Anna (Melody Taylor’s daughter) and her siblings left Little Rock Christian Academy when I was in middle school there to serve widows and orphans as a family in Niarobi, Kenya. I remember hearing their story, but did not really know the Taylor family. Wow I was missing out!

Immersed in the African culture, Anna’s heart for the Kenyan people trapped in poverty expanded. Anna returned to Arkansas to attend the University of Arkansas (WPS!.. if you’re from Arkansas you’ll understand) to study apparel design, but on a trip back to Kenya, the Lord presented an idea for Anna to revive a sewing school project that had failed due to lack of market. Anna seized the opportunity to combine her passions for design and empowering the women. With a goal in mind she returned back to Arkansas to finish her degree.

anna-taylor

Anna interned under two other African clothing lines before opening her own, Judith & James, a high-end fashion line produced for a sophisticated audience dedicated to alleviating poverty and infusing hope in third world communities.

judith

The name of the company comes from Anna’s first seamstress and graduate of the sewing program, Judith.

“When I met Judith she was dirty and her clothes were torn. She would not lift her eyes off the ground to even look at me,” Taylor said. “She had no hope, no job, no money.”

Now infused with purpose, Judith’s eyes radiate confidence as the new supervisor of the expanding Judith & James team. Seeing the difference employment made in Judith’s life is the pulse behind Anna’s work.

In September 2013, Anna debuted the Judith & James Spring/Summer 2014 Collection in New York Fashion Week at the Helen Mills Event Space and is gearing up for her second appearance in February to showcase her 2014 fall collection.

anna-taylor-shirt

That’s when Melody Taylor told me I needed to go to NY Fashion Week to promote James127 Foundation. I was floored, excited, but had no idea financially how that would happen. If you’ve read my previous blog posts you know Mary Catherine (my sister) and I are both at Baylor on scholarship and with the assistance of extended family members. Looking at the flight, hotel, etc… it just didn’t seem impossible. And so I began to pray:

Lord what an opportunity. I just want to serve. I just want to be used to help give these women employment to feed their families.”

Tonight, the Lord paid for my flight.

Tonight, the Lord gave me a free place to stay in New York!

Tonight, the Lord provided the way for me to go!

Speechless.

Shocked, my mom and I both just froze in awe of the grace extended to us by one of Melody’s friends who donated their frequent flier miles and another friend of Melody’s who is allowing me to stay with them at the hotel.

I am speechless!

LOOK HOW BIG I AM! LOOK AND SEE HOW POWERFUL I AM LB! LOOK AT HOW I AM IN CONTROL AND LOVE YOU!” I hear God shouting!

I am overwhelmed, grateful, thankful, ecstatic, and blown away by the power of the Lord! I’ve watched Him answer prayers like this and then not answer others. But I trust and rest knowing He knows best. He knows and can see the full picture. He has the PERFECT timing, the PERFECT plan, and it’s all for His glory! I believe He cares about those widows and orphans. He cares and wants to see them cared for, empowered, and more than that to know Him as their personal Lord and Savior! Will you please join me in supporting the mission the Lord is carrying out through James127?

J127

www.J127foundation.com  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/James127Foundation

Twitter: @J127Foundation

Instagram:  @J127Foundation

To learn more about Judith & James, Anna Taylor, James127 Foundation, and more check out the links below to KATV-7 3 part series on “The Spirit of Arkansas- Africa”

Part 1: Young Arkansan brings hope to widows in Africa

Part 2- The gift that saves lives

Part 3- Arkansans teach love to orphans

Posting His Faithfulness

Never thought I would say this, but I just had a worship service praising Jesus over Facebook.. and I’ll explain.

If you read Amidst the Fiery Test of Failure then you know I was freaking out about trying to pay for Baylor next spring. Last night, I received an email from the the Department chair of Journalism letting me know I am the recipient of a gift of Frank E. Burkhalter Memorial Scholarship. Since 1978 family and friends in memory of Mr. Frank E. Burkhalte have remained committed to assisting Journalism students, like me, in pursuing their education at Baylor. If you happen to see this Burkhalte family and friends, thank you for the opportunity to return to Baylor in the spring and continue my education!!

After posting the exciting news on Facebook, it was literally insane to watch the notification box pop up with “(Insert name) liked, ‘Wow! The Lord is so faithful!'” Repeatedly,I just sat and watched the screen constantly flashing the message “Wow! The Lord is so faithful!” Tears began to stream as I sat at my computer praising the Lord! Every time the notification would appear I would praise and thank the Lord. Not only that, but how Facebook can be used as such a great tool to proclaim what the Lord has done and is doing! It’s an incredible way to reach and tell thousands of people about the Lord in a couple of seconds. To Him be the Glory!

Maybe your the same way, but it’s extremely encouraging when others post about what the Lord is doing in their life. It’s the 21st century version of connecting the body like in the Acts 2 church. Can you just picture Paul or Barnabas with a Facebook…They would constantly be posting and proclaiming the name of Jesus on there. So my encouragement is to use Facebook as a tool to shout and proclaim what He has done in your life and around you!

Amidst the Test of Failure

 

If you’ve read Room 349, you know that my sister, Mary Catherine and I were not financially able to come back to Baylor until the Lord provided a week before school started. Praise be to Him for working a miracle!

He didn’t have to do that. He would still be God, still be perfect, and Lord of the Universe whether we were in Arkansas or Waco. All that to say, today we went to discuss next spring with a Financial Aid counselor at Baylor. As it turns out we discover we’re in the red more than we anticipated. The personable counselor gave us great resources to work with, but now becomes the time of applying, being proactive, but also waiting.

As we drove home I just let it out. With the semester winding down I’ve been tempted to wipe this semester from my memory. I have never felt more hopeless. I have felt abandoned, lonely, and forgotten. With that said, the Lord heard my cry and graciously sent an abundance of support and love through friends here at Baylor. They have gone above and beyond taking care of me.

Yet in the midst of their generosity the devil was whispering, “Be reminded of how hopeless you are. You’re almost 21 and you can’t take care of yourself? That’s pitiful. You’re like a 2-year-old. Grow up. They can see you’re hopeless, spinning out of control. Let this remind you you’re a failure and can’t accomplish anything!

In the midst of the stress instead of clinging to Scripture I left it on my bedside table, buried my head, pulled myself up by my boot straps and kept truckin’.

I worked. I tried hard and when hard wasn’t good enough I pushed harder. I began to loose steam quickly. With my defenses down, relying on myself I became an easy target for Satan.

Really LB you spread the gospel, ministered to families, watched him miraculously bring you to Baylor and now look at you. Failure. You don’t really love Jesus. If you did you would be in His Word, but you don’t have time for that look at your awful grades. Just go bury yourself in the library.

Clearly I was not listening to the Lord, but instead to the Father of Lies. He’s not very innovative. Think back to Genesis 3:1 when he was trying to tempt Eve in the garden. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?'” I felt like such a Peter denying the Lord after having walked with him and seen Him at work. I was a coward.

It got to the point where I not only heard the lies, but believed them. With believing, things only spun faster like a tetherball. The harder and more frequently you hit, the faster it spins until it eventually chokes the pole.  While before I might have been embarrassed to say it out loud, I didn’t hold back in flat out calling myself a failure, out loud. At first sissy MC gently said, “no your not,” but I didn’t believe her. I had already bought into the lie.

James 1:14-15

“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

I had allowed the evil desire to grow and give birth to sin, which was leading to mental death and depression. With time and my increased vocalization of failure, MC’s demeanor changed from gently into boldly calling out the lie.

In October, I was invited to a leadership conference in Washington D.C. While I wanted to go, I looked at the price tag and decided to not even apply. But the Lord through a scholarship at Baylor made a way. Even boarding the plane with Jean (which was more like rushing to get on because we almost missed it- thank you Jean for teaching me how to fly) the Lord bestowed a gift to me, the chance of escape.

No it wasn’t technically a Christian conference, but the Lord used this trip to remind me how Big He is. I had been in my tiny little world too long with my sob story and forgotten truly how beautiful life is.

I met other college students from Seattle. BYU, the Naval Academy, Pepperdine, Kansas, Columbia, and more, each with their own unique experiences, passions, dreams, and views. I was reminded of how creative the Lord is in designing us. How in Psalm 139 He says he knit us together in our mother’s womb…that we are fearfully and wonderfully made because His works are wonderful! So many different and unique combinations each with a unique purpose of bringing Him glory.

There’s something about walking around D.C. that unleashes your freedom to dream for a better tomorrow.

I’ve always been a dreamer, but this particular semester I felt chained to the harsh realities of surviving at Baylor. D.C. sparked hope for sunny days ahead, while enduring  and learning to appreciate the bitter gray skies. But that’s the beauty of perspective.

Some people like my friend from Seattle enjoys gray skies, while others find it gloomy and depressing. That kind of perspective is what James is getting at in James 1 when he says to “consider it all joy” as in remaining optimistic despite hardships. See the glass half-full instead of half-empty. Not put on a happy face and fake it till you make it, but instead to count it a blessing.

Say what? Yep count the hard times, the screw ups, the failures as opportunity for growth. Most are afraid of failing due to the embarrassing repercussions that follow, but those who prize the failures as diamonds of wisdom learn to count that the fiery test of failure as “all joy.”

It’s all in perspective. He will give and He will take away, but He remains the same. His love, devotion, power over all is unchanging!

Psalm 73:25-26

25″Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

What a novel concept to accept that “my flesh and my heart may fail.” We are human! For too long I believed I the lie that I was invincible, capable of achieving anything and everything; if I worked at it with every ounce of my being. Even in trying to give “110%” to everyone and everything I failed. Yep I fail.

(Insert ding ding ding game show bell here) THAT’S THE POINT!

Oh how it turns me to praise Him when I reminded how limited I am, and look upward at how great and perfect He is! I believe we are taken through these trials so that our “it’s all about me” world decreases so His glory and greatness is magnified.

After all the Lord says in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways.” So amid the fiery tests of failures, heartaches, and brokenness “consider it joy,” translates into looking at as an opportunity of growth, a learning experience. Let the trial “run it’s full course” (James 1:4) to enhance your awe of God.

Abide

Maybe you’re like me and want that regular early morning routine: wake up, run, shower, coffee, Jesus Time, breakfast. Really I wish every morning was this was because it sets me in a good rhythm to start the day. Last week I was still trying (and have been for the past 3 weeks) to implement this routine. If I snoozed in (which last week was every morning except Friday..) I would spend the rest of my day beating myself up over it.

One of my best friends, Allie Hess, put it best yesterday, “It’s about worshiping Him throughout the little moments, like us walking to class together and talking about what He’s doing in our lives.”

She is SO right! I get caught up too often with reserving Jesus for just my morning quiet time. I will spend precious time with him and then so easily set him aside, as I place my Bible and journal onto my nightstand and leave for the day. It’s the busyness trap that quickly entangles me and like the thorns in the garden will choke the life out of me. But Jesus said:

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4

1. “Abide in me”- Abide is not a word I frequently use, but I picture snuggling up in a warm blanket on the couch and resting inside its security and comfort. You remain wrapped inside the soft fabric as long as you can. Now hang with me (because I am notorious for picking the most random analogies) because when you spend time abiding in Christ it’s so good you want to stay in it the entire day. Wrap yourself in His protection. Wrap yourself in His majesty. Rest in His forgiveness.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Chris Boggus, the college pastor at First Baptist Woodway, says, “We read the Word and spend time with Jesus just to merely reap the benefits he has.” We love Jesus to get more of Jesus. My ambition should not be to get more people to think I’m a good person, but to simply want more of Jesus. That’s it.

2. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5

The key is “apart from me you can do nothing.” Last week I was so frustrated, emotional, angry at times all because I was depending on myself to figure everything out. If you read the Room 329 blog post you know there’s been several drastic changes in my life over the past month. Everyone kept saying, “you just need time to process and heal.” So I tried to figure it out. On my own. By myself. And I couldn’t. Instead I fell into this inward focused mindset with my attention focused on myself.  But, I deserved to be selfish and figure this stuff out right? Writing it down now it seems so clear, but before I just felt lost. I felt like I couldn’t figure anything out. I couldn’t adjust. I could do nothing.

“EXACTLY LB!” I could hear the Lord shouting. “Laura Beth, like an Israelite you are so quick to forget my promises and what I have done. You can do nothing apart from me remember?”

So how were my quiet times that week.. well honestly they didn’t happen. I was so inwardly focused that I wasn’t filling my mind with the Truth of Scripture. The Lord through Joshua said it best, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8 Day and night without ceasing I should be meditating on the precious written Word of the Lord while driving, walking to class, etc.

It was literally like I had a V8 moment (if you don’t know what I’m talking about:

In summary: If I’m not consistently abiding in Christ, I can do nothing! So please hold me accountable and ask me, “LB, are you abiding in Christ? What have you been learning?”

Room 329

Great adventure awaited me this summer as I embarked on the position as director of the Wild Kids program (5 to 6-year-old kids) at Pine Cove’s Bluffs family camp, but it wasn’t at camp. The third weekend of camp my parents told my sister, Mary Catherine, and I they were coming to visit.

Exhausted we both took a good 3 hour nap, but when we woke up my dad was sitting, almost frozen in a maroon hotel desk chair bent over with his hands clasped. Looking at the floor he said, “Girls there is something your mother and I need to tell you.” After a long pause I noticed my dad’s eyes were fixated on the patterned carpet, almost as if it was assisting in pulling his composure together.

“Girls, 2 things…1) we are selling the house and moving to an apartment.”  Since 5th grade this was the place I called home. There was more time and preparation spent building this home for years than I truly could comprehend. Never the less, carefully planned out, complete with the Cinderella staircase where we walked down to greet our dates to the beautiful view of Pinnacle Mountain, that home contained many memories of several fond gatherings. While the furniture, paint colors, and decor don’t make a home, this home is the place where we gathered with the people we loved.

The second one hit closer “2) There’s not enough money to send you girls back to Baylor in the fall.” My eyes froze for a few seconds as my brain tried to keep up with what I just had heard. All of a sudden it was like someone had snapped their fingers-a calm and confident, “okay” spit out of my mouth. The reaction surprised me. Why did I suddenly feel so at peace and calm about leaving my favorite place, my home, my friends, my future?

With heart and mind in sync (which doesn’t happen often for me) my mind began racing with ideas for all that I could do in Little Rock. Of course I switched into planner mode immediately. The Notes app on my iPhone was opened with a new note entitled “Little Rock,” and I began to list ideas of where I felt the Lord calling me. From across the room  our sister telepathy kicked in as we looked at each other in shock that we were excited to go to Little Rock. In the spring I had been struggling to figure out my major and career path. I began to see why the Lord had asked me to not tryout for Baylor Spirit Squads again in the spring. He was already preparing me for this step before I ever knew.

Joy and excitement overwhelmed me as I saw the Lord answering some of my biggest prayers in room 329. For the first time I saw my dad truly broken over what was going on. He was humbled and receptive. God was at work and answering our years of prayer. If it meant our family would be renewed and restored, I was willing to go. Especially working at family camp at the time I saw the value of family. The Lord not only designed and created the family unit, but as a picture of His family and for His glory to be shone. I was ready to be a family healed and transformed by the Lord for His glory.

Even looking at how He ordained for our Wild Kids bible study to be on His kingdom.

For where you’re treasure is there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.  

Now the Lord was calling me to treasure Him above my wants, my desires to be at Baylor, and my plans-resting and knowing that He is all that I need. No other object, achievement, or dream home can begin to satisfy my heart like Jesus can.

And so we left and headed into week 4 of camp. Overtime reality set in: no more homecomings, giving tours of Baylor, Chi Omega sisterhood, football games, but most importantly I had no idea when or if I would be able to see my friends again to say good bye.

Tearing Down My Tower

During week 4 of camp I began reading through Genesis and came to the Tower of Babel in chapter 11. The Lord quickly revealed to me that I had wasted so much time building my Tower of Babel at Baylor. I had heard my dad talk about being President of Baylor Chamber, front row of Sing, and crowning the Homecoming Queen, and I felt this level of expectation to accomplish at Baylor. I often would make lists of all that I wanted to achieve while I was at Baylor. What would my “Baylor Legacy” look like? How could I complete the list in 4 years?

Genesis 11: 4 says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.'”

The Lord was basically saying, “Laura Beth look you spent so much time trying to build up your own kingdom for your glory and your fame, but look I have now torn it down until it has all passed away. You have no more tower, no more Baylor because I desire for you to not waste your time on that kingdom that will rot and fade away, but be building my Kingdom which will last forever. Be focused on telling others about me more than you are on your plans and agenda. Just like you teach those little kids the only 2 things that will last are 1. God’s Word and 2. the souls of men, teach that to yourself. Now embark on building my kingdom.

With that I had a calling and a passion to carry out His will.

Living Provision

As logistics began to set it I pushed back tears. I hadn’t told my close friends yet and at this point I knew I would be leaving at the end of summer heading back to Little Rock for the fall.

After letting my roommates know the situation I asked if they could help me find a girl to take my spot in the house for just the fall semester. One of my best friends, Ali Mosser, needed a place to live after deciding not to study abroad in the spring. We had decided to share my room earlier in the spring. My prayer was to find a girl to cover my rent. Literally the NEXT week Abbey Thiel calls me saying she found a girl to live there for the fall! Again the Lord saying, “See just wait on me, and I will take care of it all.”

Where do you go to school?

One of the first questions parents ask at family camp is, “where do you go to school?” It took me a couple of weeks to get my script answer down, “well I use to go to Baylor..” and would continue by telling them what the Lord was currently doing in my life. Each time I had an opportunity to talk with families an indescribable joy and energy would surge through me. I would honestly tell them, “I have no idea how this fall is going to look.” Some looked at me like I was crazy. Others were incredibly encouraged. My role as a mouth piece for the Lord to tell His story was made evident. When we sang of surrender, I truly meant it with every molecule of my being because I was actively surrendering it all to Him.

Throughout the summer my sister talked with Financial Aid trying to work something out. At the time we planned to stay in Little Rock, sign up to take classes at UALR, and possibly return back to Baylor in the spring, but we had no idea.

Finding a Job:

I was quickly informed I would also need to find a job, which was hard to do with only 24 hours off on the weekend to use Internet and my iPhone. I quickly shoot a Facebook message to my girl’s youth minister, Melissa Sponer, asking if I could help out in the youth group now that I would be back in Little Rock. I almost fell out of my chair at Panera when I read her response: Facebook message

Not only was it a job, it was the perfect job I had been praying for! I would get to pour into and disciple young girls for Christ as my job! If that’s not freakin’ awesome, I don’t know what is. Earlier I wanted to be caught up in all the things I needed to take care of the Lord was already lining it all up. Again the Lord was showing me, “Look I am your provider!”

The TEST

Week 6 of camp I met a sweet mom from Waco at the front gate who wanted me to talk with her husband about my story. At the dinner table Mr. W said, “I’d like to talk with you about your situation.”

“Great, okay!” I replied in my cheerful camp counselor voice. On the inside though I was nervous. His wife, Mrs. W, had mentioned that her husband worked in the Endowment Office at Baylor University.

Snapshot into my thoughts at the time:

What’s going on?

I thought the Lord was taking us to Little Rock?

Could there be another way?

Did I need to turn down an offer to come back to be obedient to the Lord’s calling?

I felt so excited and filled with joy by the Lord to go to Little Rock, so why was I so confused? There was a constant battle raging in my heart and mind. I didn’t know what to do, or how to respond.

On Friday morning Mr. W opened our meeting by explaining that throughout the week he had been reminded of Oswald Chambers book My Utmost for His Highest. One of the devotions talks about being an “Amateur Providence,” meaning if someone is in a difficult time one quickly step into help without asking the Lord what He wants first. They may have good intentions, but maybe the Lord wants them to go through that trial to draw nearer to Him.

Immediately it was clear. I broke down as tears streamed down my face. As gracious and polite as I could be I thanked Mr. W for his compassion in trying to help us get back to Baylor, but that I needed to be obedient to the Lord and walk into Little Rock. I could not deny that the Lord had placed a new fiery passion in my heart to go back and minister in Little Rock, but most importantly for our family to walk through this together and be healed.

Had I just turned down my opportunity to go back to Baylor?

Why did I do that?

The Ram in the Thicket

For the first time the story of Abraham and Isaac truly came to life for me. In Genesis 22 the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son, his heir, his legacy, and the one he had been waiting on. We read the story now in hindsight knowing that the Lord provides a ram in the thicket for Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac. For the first time I could relate to Abraham on a whole new level. Baylor had been and was my Isaac, my future, my home, my comfort, my joy, and much more. The Lord was asking us to sacrifice it all because He said to and without explanation. As Abraham journeyed to Mount Moriah and up to the top I couldn’t help but wonder, “What was he thinking?”

“Wow I am really about to sacrifice my one and only son.”

I know it hit me hard when I realized all that the Lord was taking my Isaac away and asking us to sacrifice it before Him.

Camp ended at the beginning of August and Mary Catherine and I drove straight to Waco. We crammed as much as we could into my Mazda Tribute and said good bye.

The moment where Hootenanny girls were literally holding me up as I sobbed on the hardwood floor in the foyer. Each of them holding me up, praying over me, and holding me tight. I didn’t want to let go of this community.

The next morning I went to Lover’s Leap one of my favorite spots in Cameron Park. Looking out over the Brazos I read James 1 over and over. “Consider it joy. Consider it all joy. Consider all the pain, all the good byes, all the confusion, all the unknowns- joy.”

Mary Catherine had set up one more meeting with Jerry from Baylor Financial Aid. While I was at camp for the entire summer, Mary Catherine worked tirelessly with financial aid. She even applied me to community college at UALR and took out student loans in my name. “Amazing what you can do with someone’s social security number,” she would say.

Behind the scenes I didn’t know that Garry a counselor my parents had been meeting with for a few years told my mom, “Figure out a way to get those girls back to Baylor. They need to be out of this.” Garry’s direction helped mom encourage Mary Catherine to exhaust all options to possibly go back to Baylor. There was much more than loosing the house and not going back to Baylor that was going on.

Mary Catherine and I met with Jerry who informed us there just wasn’t enough there in aid to come back. He suggested looking in loans, but we were scared of loans giving the debt our family was already in. The door to go back to Baylor was shut. Maybe we could work at home and save up enough to go back in the spring, but for now it was closed.

Eyes puffy from crying, emotionally exhausted from saying good bye, we clasp hands over the console and began the 7 hour drive home to Little Rock. Headed to the place where we would be for the fall and possibly forever. Two hours after we arrived home in Little Rock our phone rang.

It was Jerry from Baylor Financial Aid informing Mary Catherine and I that people called in and Baylor was offering each of us a large gift.

Is this the ram caught in the thicket?

Tuesday morning we opened up an Excel spreadsheet as we began to crunch the numbers for tuition, gas, groceries, rent, etc for the next four months. In disbelief we both looked at each other like WHAT THE HECK?!! This may actually work.

We wanted to consult wise counsel to double check. Even our uncle who’s an accountant and grandparents looked it over it all. They helped us create monthly budgets. It was possible for us to go back to Baylor! We re-registered for classes, paid our bill, and began repacking everything to leave on Saturday.

Within less than a week of classes starting the Lord provided.

Our Jehovah-Jireh, the one who provides! Abraham had his hand raised to sacrifice Isaac when the angel of the Lord said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And the angel said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”  (Gen 22:10-14)

Wow and here we are. Literally I am typing this post in our living room, at Baylor, in Texas… I’m sorry WHAT?!

The Lord continually shows us His faithfulness. It’s been especially beautiful and humbling to experience to witness the power of the body of Christ coming together to serve and aid us. Mary Catherine and I both have been beyond blessed by extended family and friends, which the Lord has used to make this opportunity possible.

Very long story short:Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

PLEASE do not DOUBT what the Lord, God Almighty can do in and through you, if you’ll surrender your life to Him. He is everything! He is all that will last!

If any of you lacks wisdom let Him ask God who gives it generously, without criticizing. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For a doubter is like a surging sea driven and tossed by the wind, that man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:5-7)

He is Faithful! May all the Praise and Glory be to Him for what He has done in my life and in Mary Catherine’s lives. We are just open vessels for Him to use. My prayer is that by reading this story your view of God has been expanded.

First Day of Class walking under God's Provision!

(Mary Catherine and I on the first day back at Baylor, and to show His faithfulness yet again there was a rainbow reminding us of His promise to take care of us just as He took care of Noah)

Link to Amateur Providence Devotional:

Broken to share a story

Written March 2011

As my neighbor Regan Daniel says the story begins when I was 5 years old. I was in Dr. John (my orthodontist and neighbor) and Mrs. Amy Daniel’s Sunday school class. At the end of Dr. John telling the bible story he asked the 6-year-old class if we had any questions. Mrs. Amy says that this small girl waved her hand high and proud. She the stood up put both hands on her hips and rocked from side to side in a high loud voice saying, “When I grow up I’m going to be a Baylor cheerleader.” Dr. John responded, “Ok you do that then.” Little did I know that several years later I would be neighbors with the sweet Daniel family?

Fast forward to the days of Spirit Kids when like most elementary girls I fell in love with the Little Rock Christian Warrior Varsity Cheerleaders. Seventh grade couldn’t roll around fast enough so I could finally be a Warrior Cheerleader. Varsity Captain Kali Sparks’ big smile and loving spirit grabbed my attention. I knew that I wanted to be LRCA Varsity cheer captain one day. My second mothers Mrs. Tracie Allred and Mrs. Diana Smith have been my cheer mom’s motivating me to always push myself to reach my full potential ever sense.

Then came senior year as cheer captain it was a blast. I knew I needed to start preparing for Baylor cheer tryouts. It just so happened that I was going to need to come up with $30 a month beginning in January of 2011 to pay for a 30 minute stunting and tumbling lesson every week.

I needed a back tuck for Baylor Cheer and was determined to get it! I didn’t know how I was going to come up with $30 every week. I prayed so hard and just told God, “Ok if you want it to happen you will provide.”

A sweet family the Richard’s had just moved into Little Rock and needed a sitter. I began babysitting for them weekly and each Sunday night they would pay me exactly $30. I’ll never forget the times I was dumping out my “change box” and rolling every penny, dime, nickel, and quarter I could find to make $30 for an extra session. Each time I went to the gym I was determined to getting my back tuck. I had 4 months to get this, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

As I tumbled my ankle started flaring up again because I had sprained it the previous year coming down from a stunt. People were telling me I shouldn’t be tumbling to protect my ankle, but I couldn’t stop I was determined to get my tuck.

On Sunday April 3rd my coach told me it was time to do it on my own. Normally I would be freaking out and like “I don’t know if I can do this,” but this was different. I had been waiting for so long to do my back tuck and today was the day!

Half of me was scared out of my mind of doing it, but I knew that with the power of the Lord we could do anything. I just prayed and asked that God would just hold my hand and tumble with me. As I ran I did my tuck landed it and shoot up like a rocket with a scream of Joy and excitement. Then I was hooked! I started doing my running tuck over and over.

Tuesday April 5th was the same day my sweet friend Helen surrendered her life to Christ!! That same day as we drove up I realized I had forgotten to grab my shoes. So already it was starting out not so great. I just tumbled bare foot. It felt so weird. I started going for my tuck and did two or three. Then I went for the fourth one and something was weird about my take off for the tuck. I didn’t quite rotate all the way around. I opened my eyes mid-rotation and saw the ground in front of my face. I stuck out my hands to keep from breaking my neck. When I did all my weight went onto my left hand. Pain was shooting through my hand, and I knew something was wrong. I told my coach I could still move my fingers, but my thumb hurt like crazy. He wrapped it up, and I kept tumbling. Every time I put my hands down on the mat it hurt so bad. I left the gym disappointed. We iced it when I got home, but then it started to swell.

The next day our high school trainer to look at it, and he said it was just bruised. I thought “ok this is great because I’ve got to get back to tumbling.”

But mom wanted to get the doctor’s opinion. The doctor who looked at the x-ray and said, “Ya it’s definitely broken.” As soon as she said those words I was just overwhelmed with joy and a reassurance that God was in control. The nurse walked in and said, “Awe are you so bummed that it’s broken?”

The light bulb clicked on in my head. I responded by talking about how it comes at a bad time because I was in the middle of trying out for Baylor cheer, but that I am confident that God has a plan for my life and just wants to use me somewhere else. She paused for a second with a kinda of confused look on her face as I just smiled. It probably wasn’t the answer she was expecting.

After the appointment I headed to youth group to sing and began telling everyone about the news. Ironically it became good news to share with everyone. Not bad news, but good. Good because I serve a good and faithful God who is in control. He often changes my plans, but they always turn out better than I ever could have planned.

My purple hand cast became the perfect opportunity to share with people about the beautiful Lord that I serve. That hand is not mine. It is only there because the God of the universe fashioned it that exact way. He molded me and made me. I am His! He can use me however He would like.

At church that night we sang my favorite song called Restoration. One of the verses says “You take my mourning and turn it into dancing. You take my weeping and turn it into laughing. You take my sadness and turn it into Joy.”

I just lifted my purple cast hand to the Lord as I sang, because it was living proof of this. I knew I was seriously sad in my heart because my chances of becoming a Baylor cheerleader were gone, but I was so overwhelmed with joy and laughter from the Lord that I didn’t mourn. I didn’t have time to cry or mourn because I was too busy sharing about the good news with everyone. I sat down in my seat took a pen and tattooed “You take my sadness and turn it into Joy” on my purple cast. Looking down right now two weeks later it’s still there!

Thursday the orthopedic hand surgeon looked at my hand. He told me I broke my metacarpal bone, but that I would not have surgery basically that I would wear a splint for 2 to 3 weeks. Then as I asked him about cheer he said, “No cheering or tumbling for 10 weeks. We’re talking mid-way into June.” My heart sank, but as I looked at my mom who was sad for me the Holy Spirit reminded me, “Hey God just wants to use you in big ways somewhere else.” That became my motto to everyone I spoke to.

I then called the Baylor cheer coach to inform her about what had happened. She said she was so sorry to hear that. I did mention that I had a video of me tumbling and stunting. She said she would sleep on it and call me back.

Friday I was waiting all day to get the call to know if I could still tryout or not. But, obviously everyone I mean everyone that saw me noticed I had a big cast looking thing on my hand. I was filled with excitement each time they asked me, “What happened?”

I smiled big and in my head I was saying, “Oh boy let me tell you about what God has been doing.” And I would tell them the whole story, and how I know that God just wants to use me somewhere else.” I was a walking talking testimony of the Lord’s unfailing love. See when I surrendered my life to Christ I gave Him complete control. My life is only His to use to bring glory to Himself!

I still hadn’t heard from the coach so I decided to stay in Little Rock instead of going to Waco for the second Baylor Cheer clinic. Revival broke out that week in Little Rock. Every night of the week people were worshiping, singing, praying for one another, reading scripture open mic, walking up to the front of the church saying I want to give my life to Christ and I need to know how, and to be baptized. It was amazing!! It felt like Little Rock was on fire!

Friday night at 8pm when most teenagers are out having fun at the movies at least 80 high school students gathered to pray outside. With our faces on the ground in humble adoration of our King we prayed that the Holy Spirit would continue to be so present and felt. Chris Tuttle asked, “Hey does anyone want to share what God has done in their life this week.” I raised up my little “cast” and said “I’ve got a story.” I sat down in front of 80 students (most of whom I didn’t know) and shared the whole story.

Tears of pure joy streamed down my face as I said, “and even though Baylor cheer is gone. I am thrilled…thrilled to see what God has in store for me.”

I continued to constantly share with people about what God was doing and how sovereign He is. So many students and adults that night were encouraged by the story. If I hadn’t broken my thumb and the cheer coach hadn’t waited to call me, then I wouldn’t have been in Little Rock to share with those 80 students at all. It’s pretty crazy how God works!

 

Monday I get a call from the Baylor cheer coach who says, “I talked to the girls at the clinic this weekend and they remembered you. Hey if you will send me video of you stunting, tumbling, and performing before Friday we’re going to make an exception and still let you tryout!” I was in complete shock when I heard her say this. I had thought all weekend that the door was shut, but God was just opening it back up.

I loved the way my Journalism teacher Mrs. Hendren put it: “Ya know it’s like the story of Abraham and Isaac. God asked Abraham to sacrifice literally kill his one and only son just because God told him to. I mean Isaac was the son that Abraham had waited 26 years for! Baylor cheer was my Isaac I had dreamed of since I was 6 and God was asking me if I would put the unknown of what He has in front of my desire for Baylor cheer. Even before the accident I had been preparing myself mentally and emotionally: “If I don’t make it then God wants to use me somewhere else and if I do then that’s where He wants me to be.” And so the minute I heard that it was broken I knew that God was saying, “Let me have it I’m taking control.” And in obedience I gave it to God saying, “I don’t understand, but you know best Lord.”

 

So we began the technological process of downloading the videos of me tumbling from the last 3 tumbling lessons that my mom had taken on her phone. God totally planted those videos there. I never asked her to film them on her camera, she just did. Little did we know when we took those videos that we would be using them to make a tryout video for Baylor. Sweet sister Mary Cate spent hours learning how to transfer the videos from the phone, to a CD, to a computer, to iTunes, to a Mac computer. Then amazing David (Mr. Mac genius) helped me make my tryout video. We finished it and sent the video off to her.

Wednesday I got an email saying she got the video and that I could come down to tryout. I was floored that God was opening up the door. At tryouts I loved meeting everyone and watching. I was able to make great friendships. Since I couldn’t tumble I saw opportunities to pray with girls who were nervous before they went. Again if I hadn’t broken my thumb I wouldn’t have been able to encourage and pray for them. Then Sunday I found out I made the first cut for All Girl cheer and was floored!

How did a girl who had a broken thumb and didn’t tumble make the cut? (I mean my tumbling was on the video but still!) It was the hand of God! He was walking before me the entire time. I came home and already felt connected to the All Girl group. I had been praying that God would show me where my ministry at Baylor would be. Then the waiting process came.

Monday night before results God gave me this verse Proverbs 19:21 “People may try to plan their ways, but it is the Lord’s will that prevails.” I knew that I was going to be rejoicing the next day whether I made it or not. Rejoicing because no matter what that lists says I am a child of the King and will spend eternity with Him. That is something to rejoice over. Also because that means He again wants to use me in a mighty way in a different area at Baylor.

Tuesday I was sitting in health class and David had the Baylor Spirit squads page on his iPhone and was refreshing it constantly. “There up,” he said. I couldn’t believe it!!! I looked at the Coed page and was thrilled to see so many of my new friends names: Kendel, Ellie, and Christine. Then I went to the All-Girl page. (This is one of those moments I’m thankful my mom gave me a double name because it makes my name stick out and easy to find on lists) When I saw it I screamed!! The whole class started cheering. I was shocked and amazed and overwhelmed!! Ahh God is SO amazing!

My story could easily have been I worked real hard and made cheer. Period the end. But, I praise the Lord that I can take NO credit for all that has happened. Obviously it was literally all in God’s hands. People have said well you just have great faith. No my faith is still so small. I have so much more to learn and grow and work on. I just know without a doubt in my mind that I serve a loving, faithful, just, holy, beautiful, all powerful, all knowing, amazing God. He knows what’s best for me. What I love is that I had been praying for so long that I would know that I was in the will of the Lord. I felt through this whole thing I was walking beside the Lord and it felt so AMAZING! To God be all the Glory and HONOR! I am beyond thrilled to see how He will work among the Baylor cheer teams. I am humbled that the God of the universe listens to my little requests and wants like Baylor cheer. Ahh I can’t wait to put on the Baylor bear green and gold cheer uniform what a dream come true by God and God alone!!

Baylor Spirit Squad