Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Life's Just Black and White Without You"

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Without you, I wouldn't know that stovetop popcorn beats the microwave stuff every time.

Without you, I wouldn't know that hanging your clothes to dry keeps them in WAY better shape.

Without you, I wouldn't know how to bargain shop.

Without you, I wouldn't know that going to Target almost every day is 100% acceptable.

Without you, I wouldn't know what it means to love selflessly and whole-heartedly.

Without you, I wouldn't know that walking really is the best form of exercise.

Without you, I wouldn't know that a human being is capable of drinking a whole pot of coffee in the morning.

Without you, I wouldn't have the strength that you show me every day.

Without you, life has no color.
Because the truth is, life's just black and white without you.

Sometimes it's hard to put in words how thankful and grateful we are to have special people in our lives. I can honestly say that without my mom, I wouldn't be where I am today. My doubt and insecurity... my belief that I'll never quite be good or perfect enough would most definitely overwhelm me. Somehow I convince myself that if I look a certain way or if I can achieve something exceptional at school that I'll be happy. And when I fail to meet my own high expectations (don't we all), I'm convinced that we are striving for something impossible.

My mom turns 'impossible' into unrealistic. She continually shows me that despite how I look or what grades I get, that I am worthy, beautiful and capable of love. She cares for me so deeply, that when I look at her I can't help but think... wow, my kids are truly going to be the luckiest and happiest grandchildren alive. I only hope that I can teach them to love life as much as she's shown me.

She not only shows me the beauty and exciting nature of love, but she convinces me that it's okay to let my heart go. I do tend to hold on pretty tightly and close myself off, but as I start to re-evaluate what I come home to every day... I'm starting to learn that letting myself love should and will be the most important thing in my life.

So to the most incredible mother and woman I've ever known—
I say thank you for making the first 19 years of my life absolutely perfect.
You're my shining star.
You're my role model.
You're the best friend anyone could ask for.
You're the reason I've learned so much.
You're the one who saved me.

Take ten minutes to share with a special woman in your life why you love them so much. They deserve it.


Friday, May 4, 2012

A Case of Blessings AND Lessons

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So I have these two girls in my life...
They may not know it all the time...
But I owe so much of my ability to love life to them.

They teach me things everyday.
How to laugh.
How to be yourself without caring a dime what anyone else thinks.
How to feel beautiful in your own skin.
How to open your heart to possibility.
How to forge your own path.
How to be brave.
And most of all, how to be confident.

I think it's easy to see that they are wise beyond their years.

Some may say we look like triplets. And in some cases, I'd agree. But if you take a closer look... we're all so different. We all have our own quirks, our own outlooks on life, our own priorities. And yet, there is something so special about spending time with them. Ever since I went away to school, I have to admit that I miss them more than just a little while I'm away. I'd consider myself somewhat serious and reserved compared to both of them, and in a 'well someone must have planned that' kind-of-way, they convince me that there's more to life than grades and academics and success.

From them, I have learned the importance of being happy.

This one's special. She's a free-spirit. She's not afraid to tell you what's on her mind. She's confident in herself. She never looks back. She's smart (although she definitely won't rub it in your face). She makes me believe in the beauty of myself.

This one's one-of-a-kind. She laughs without fear or holding back. She'll tell it to you straight. She's passionate and care-free. She's willing to let anyone in. She's got millions of friends. She convinces me that it's okay to open my heart.

I don't think there's ever a way to say thank you enough to some of the most special girls in my life. I envision us holding hands at our weddings. I can see us having impromptu 'play dates' with our kids at Starbucks. I can see us laughing over memories on family vacations. I hope they know that I'll hold on to them forever. No matter where we all end up, they'll always be there.... convincing me that life truly is beautiful. And that I am so blessed.

With the best sisters I could ever ask for.

"Let no one despise you for your youth, but set believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."
1 Timothy 4:12

Meaghan Taylor

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ready To Be Your Ambassador: Philippians 4:13

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I'm just like anyone else.
I doubt whether I'm really capable of what I set my sights on.
I question whether I'm worth all the effort.
I wonder if I'll ever find what I'm looking for.
I worry that I won't understand what's really important.
I convince myself that life is stronger than I am.

These past few weeks, now that I have the time to pause and think about my life and what lies ahead, I have to be honest in saying that I'm scared out of my mind. What if I FAIL? What if I make a huge move and fall face first without anyone there to catch me? In a few short weeks I'll make a move to NYC. I'll leave the comfort of home, the love of friends and family and the support system that has kept me sane the past few years and instead I'll jump right into the hustle and bustle of a HUGE city.

Some may say...
Others may say...
You're crazy.

I hope more than anything that I can find my footing. Sure, I know the first few weeks may be rough. But isn't that the same with anything new? We stumble and we're awkward for a while until we learn that the only reason we're being awkward is that we're refusing to feel comfortable. In other words, I think all the insecurity is in our head (well, most of the time).

Because here's the truth... or what I hope is near the truth. God ensures that we are truly capable of anything we desire. We can truly do ANYTHING that's within his will for our lives. He makes this promise to us, and yet so many of us doubt him. We get uncomfortable, we shy away from new experiences because we're too scared to accept the challenge. We're too afraid to fall face first.

So here I am Lord... I'm scared. I'm nervous that I may only have one more year of college left to figure out what's next. But I trust you. I know in my heart that you have given me strength and courage and talent and determination and passion for life.

And I'm ready to use it.
I'm ready to be your ambassador.

PS- Sorry I've been on a bit of a vacation. ;)

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Application after Application after Application

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As with most people, I can't stand rejection. If there was one thing I learned after getting many no's (and even getting ignored) during my internship search for this summer, it's that nothing worth fighting for EVER comes easy. I knew what I wanted... a summer in the city, running around as a crazed magazine intern, living life in line with the big city dreams that I've always held close. And yet for months, it seemed far from what would really happen. I doubted, I cried, I got a little emotional... I started believing that I just wasn't what anyone was looking for.

But I still sent in application after application after application..... until I finally got a hook. To say that I actually believe that I'm getting one of my dreams this summer seems so far-fetched. All of the months of waiting and patience paid off, I just still can't believe it.

I'm living in the city. Me.... a girl from Michigan living in NYC. Is this real life?

Sure there may have been days when I really didn't want to send in another application. I got so fed up with being ignored or getting the polite, 'we're just not interested email.' I was ready to quit, and then I got a call. What if I wouldn't have sent it in? At the time, it was just another email... and now it's so much more. It's my chance to make it.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm not terrified. Living in the city all by myself scares me like nothing I've ever done before. And yet, I'm still really proud. Proud that I didn't give up in the face of rejection. Proud that I was strong enough to keep on keeping on. Proud that I'm one step closer to living my dream.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For anyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bound By Love

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For some reasons, LOVE tends to be a common theme on my blog.

So many of us are lucky enough to be loved by incredible family and friends.
Some of us have the love of a romantic partner.
All of us have the love of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes I think that in life's craziness (the 'mess' as I have heard it referred to before), I forget the magnitude and incredible nature of eternal love. So many things in our lives are temporary, static... they only change when we tell them to or when someone else does. As with most people I know, I get lonely. I sink into my own little personal 'bubble' and convince myself that the only person I can really trust is myself. I get so caught up in living my life, that I forget life is going on all around me, despite me, with me, for me. And I convince myself that I'm incapable of receiving love... that the only person I can love is myself.

I'm one of those insecure people who is convinced that love won't come knocking for a long time. But in that insecurity, I also know that when it does come knocking it will be beyond my greatest expectations. For hours I can talk about love and patience and waiting for love, but what am I really waiting for?

God loves me all day, every day. No need for waiting.  His love is here to stay.
Sure I can say these profound, general and inspiring statements. But is it really that easy to understand? We've heard these things since we were too young to remember, but how do we live them in everyday life? How do we apply them to situations and relationships that may need mending?

I love the image of binding Christ's love on the tablet of our heart. If I had to guess, I'd say that this means learning how to radiate, to exude, and to emit God's love in everything we say and do. Be an inspiration for others, a guidepost to wandering souls, a simple helping hand... there are no bounds.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Learning to Live, Love and Carry On

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I doubt.
I wrestle.
I hardly ever settle.
I expect the most of myself.
I long to please and to succeed.
I won't stop and rest until my feet won't move.
I drive myself crazy to the point of pure exhaustion.

All for what?

Sometimes I wonder who I'm trying to please. I convince myself that I should have to live up to something or someone, and I feel defeated when I consider myself falling short.

All for who?

I have no idea.

Why can't we accept the fact that we are always enough? We can't I come to understand that we'll succeed no matter how hard we try. I'm constantly trying to convince myself that we don't have to live up to anything—no one can keep us from being happy and completely fulfilled besides ourselves. We can feel good about ourselves regardless of what we do or accomplish. We decide when, where, and how we are happy. We decide how to live, love, and ultimately carry on.

So what am I chasing? Where am I really running to?
I hope I'm running home.

"Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind."
Ecclesiastes 1:16-17


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Light Has Dawned

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I've come to the conclusion that my life has recently been consumed with cycles of getting overwhelmed. I over-commit myself and fail to recognize when I need a break. I'm running on empty, but I won't let myself stop to fill up my tank. And of course... I tell myself that something needs to change, that I need to let go of something, that I need to take things a little less seriously... but will I ever really change?

I hope so.

The truth is that I don't know where I am going to find the strength to let go, to relax. I rely on my faith to keep me grounded, but there are so many distractions that often convince us that this 'just isn't enough.'

But, there is a secret that I somehow wish I could learn to embrace. Faith is enough. God doesn't want us to be anyone we're not. He is satisfied with me regardless of whether I fill my schedule with all sorts of 'activities' and resume-builders. In fact, He'd probably appreciate it a little more if I came to realize that these things aren't really important anyway.

I am so blessed to have so many incredible role models in my life that give me an example of letting go of this superficial 'stuff' that can be so confining. I have parents who are proud of everything I do, but who also remind me that they'll love me no matter what. I have friends who are living to enjoy life—something that is extremely hard for me to embrace sometimes, as I often convince myself that enjoyment should always come after more productive things. Lastly, I have a God who will never fail me. I turn to his word and continually find that he asks us to give our lives for Him.

No one is perfect, and no one is expected to be perfect. In fact, I'll be the first to admit that I don't have many answers. That's the point of life, right? Trying to figure it out as we learn about Him along the way...

"Your grace is enough.
Heaven reaching down to us.
Your grace is enough, for me.

I'm covered in your love
Your grace is enough for me."
-- Chris Tomlin


Monday, March 26, 2012

Learning to Conquer

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Sometimes we break. We fall to pressure, denial, grief, stress... and we tell ourselves we're only human. As your typical perfectionist and over-achiever, I'm one of those people who takes everything way too seriously. I'm one of those people who holds everything in until I reach a breaking point.

I refuse to let myself struggle. Refuse to let myself fear. Refuse to let myself fail.

And yet isn't it through suffering and failure that we learn most about ourselves? I can honestly say that everything worthwhile in my life has come through struggle and pain. Sure the journey may not have been easy... but the things I've gone through along the way continue to tell me to forget about the small stuff.

In the next few weeks, I'm going to work on overcoming the fear to fail. I'm going to work on accepting myself for who I am, and not who I think I should be living up to.

Because all that I am is always enough... and all that you are is always enough.

They say you sometimes learn the most from the people you love. And I believe that to be true. I am so blessed with friends and family who continue to teach me great things. My mom teaches me to slow down and enjoy, not to get caught up in the things that stress me out. My best friends teach me how to smile... how to relax... how to take advantage of the small things, the little moments.

So today, I'm sitting back and enjoying a nice long cup of coffee. Exams, papers, commitments can wait for a few minutes... I'm taking care of myself. And learning how to love the woman God intended me to be.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
James 1-2


Monday, March 12, 2012

Making Connections! Trista Sutter, an Alpha Chi Omega Alumna

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Social Information Network
One of the best parts about being involved in a sorority is having an instant connection with what others might consider distant strangers. In the world of Alpha Chi Omega, we call our fellow members and Real, Strong Women... sisters. Did it surprise me that one small tweet led to a personal interview with a STAR of one of my all-time favorite TV shows? Of course. Was I surprised that she was so willing to lend a hand when a sister asked? Of course not. Trista Sutter was the first Bachelorette, and has also appeared on ABC's Dancing with the Stars and NBC's Fear Factor. She currently lives with her husband and two kids in Colorado and is commonly featured in the media as a 'woman with a big heart.'

Why did you choose to go through sorority recruitment in college? 

My mom was in a sorority during her college years and I had heard all about the friendships she'd made and kept because of that experience since I was little. I honestly didn't ever consider not rushing. I'm a girl's girl and have always thought of my friends as family. I was excited to extend my family circle through a sorority!

Do you have a favorite Alpha Chi Omega memory? 

I have MANY but one of my annual favorites was rush. I loved being part of the performances (as a dancer) and the traditions that our chapter had. It was always a special time (and lots of fun!). 

What are the most important lessons you learned in college that you have carried with you to motherhood and a career?  

I truly believe you can get a good education anywhere. It's all about your focus and drive and determination to succeed.  That…and I will never let my children even come close to doing the 19 shots I did on my 21st birthday!!

How do you balance a successful career, family life, and fame?  

I think it really comes down to setting priorities. My children and my husband are my priority.  Next down the list are the jobs I hold and contractual obligations I have to companies I work with, along with maintaining my friendships, being a daughter my parents can be proud of, and then of course, taking time for myself. In addition, I've learned the art of gracefully saying "no" if I can't take on anything more, and taking advantage of help if and when it is ever offered.  I certainly can't do it all…I'm only human.  :)

If you could speak to a room full of bright, motivated college women, what advice would you give them? 

Believe in yourself.  You are your own best friend and worst enemy.  Just don't let your enemy always win out.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Re-Defining College Spring Break- DR Mission Trip 2012

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It's been a while again—I'm extremely sorry! I've been beyond busy with school and work this semester and am just now getting a spare second to breathe. A life update: I just got back from a Spring Break Mission Trip in the Dominican Republic this past week. It was truly an incredible experience and I am so blessed to have made incredible new friendships while also helping out in a very deserving community.

I want to extend a special thanks to my friends and family for their generosity, support and prayer for my time in the Dominican Republic. It truly meant a lot to me and I appreciated having so much love and support in the midst of a challenging week! I was thinking of you all (even though I was without a phone or computer). A plus side... being away from all of the technology and life clutter really gave me a chance to slow down and focus on the most important things in life—family, friends, my faith and realizing how truly blessed and lucky I am. I didn't even bring a watch, half of the time I didn't even know what time it really was!

We stayed at 'Pico Escondido' all week long—a Young Life camp property in Jarabacoa (middle/inland of the Dominican Republic). It was such an incredible place to spend a week. The camp itself is set right in the middle of a mountain! Here is a little breakdown of what we did and accomplished each day:

Our group went to a Spanish speaking, outdoor church and sang worship songs and listened to a sermon in Spanish (with a translator for those who don't speak). We also got to interact with the Church community. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. I loved being able to communicate with the Dominican people to get to know them on a deeper level. After returning to the camp we hiked to a beautiful waterfall!

WORK days started bright and early at 6 am! We began the morning with coffee and hot cocoa and devotional/alone time. We worked a morning shift, ate lunch and took a short 'sun' break, and resumed work until dinner. I was in a painting group. We sanded cement walls, applied two coats of primer, and several coats of final color to a few new rooms and buildings at camp. We later discovered they will be used as an 'audiovisual room' and a new couples apartment for leaders. We also spent our nights together doing worship, visiting the town center for authentic fried chicken (straight from the street vendors) and playing Euchre. We loved hanging out with one another and even roasted Spanish S'Mores one night!

We took a 3 hour car ride to Puerto Plata (Northern Coast) and stayed at an all-inclusive resort for our last afternoon and evening. The bus took a little longer than expected, so we didn't get there until about 2 in the afternoon but we stayed on the beach for as long as we could. I took a dip in the ocean and a stroll on the beach :) We were thankful for a little time in paradise! While there, we were spoiled with several buffet meals and lots of yummy frozen drinks on the beach.

This trip forever changed the way I think about religion and Jesus Christ. To see the simplicity and poverty in which so many of these people lived, and yet they still worship the Lord with such emotion... it was so powerful. I have so much respect for their way of life, and I feel beyond blessed with everything I have and get to experience in the U.S. I was definitely tested and pushed all week—working for 4 straight days is not as easy as I assumed, but I also made a few incredible new friendships that I will carry with me for years.

"Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it."
Ezra 10:4


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunrise, Promise and Peace

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Today I discovered why I like getting up at the crack of dawn every day.

Amazing, right? 
 Such a breakthrough. I've been confused (as have all my friends and housemates) for years... but I finally got it today. And when I say I got it, I mean I will attempt to explain what seems like perfect sense in my head, but will probably just end up sounding like nonsense in words.

So here goes nothing.

I think there is something beautiful about the promise of a new day. It truly is a chance to wipe your slate clean, and for me it's a chance to prove something to myself. It's a chance to prove that I'm worth something. I'll admit that I can be highly critical of myself... one of my worst faults. I think the fact that I can think about each new day as a new beginning really comforts me. So... I think I find comfort in possibility?

I'll admit that there are things in my life I'm not proud of. I've gone through a lot, and it's hard for me to open up sometimes. I'm scared that I let the past dictate who I am today... instead of appreciating each day as a beautiful and sacred gift. I wake up each day anxious to 'make it through.'

We should never want to 'make it through' life. Where's the fun and beauty in that?

So tomorrow morning, instead of thinking about each day as another day to prove myself- I'll try and think about it as a way to become more of the woman God wants me to be. It's just one more step in my journey. Always a step in the right direction, always moving forward.

And last but not least, a little life update with some fun pictures from second semester! (Midterms start tomorrow... it's going to be rough to say the least). But after 2:30, I'm home free and thinking about the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC on Saturday! Stay tuned, it'll be a great trip.

"Be still and know that I am God." 
Psalms 46:10


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Life Happens

Pin It Now! I guess I'll use the same excuse as bloggers everywhere...

when life happens, blogging doesn't.

It's so sad, because blogging really lets me get things out that are on my heart that are hard to get out otherwise. So I'll make more of a conscious effort, I promise. I tend to feel so much better after an update- and I can't help but smile at comments (and even letters) I receive from my followers!

A quick life update: I've been SUPER busy. I nanny every afternoon, often taking the kids home and making them a snack, or going to the library or math tutoring class. It's fun—definitely a new and valuable experience!

Here's one of my girls trying on my sunglasses :) We like to have fun.

I've also been super busy with my Alpha Chi Omega responsibilities. I got back from Leadership Convention in Indianapolis (with hundreds of Alpha Chi's from EVERYWHERE in the US!). Here's a picture of my President and I with our NATIONAL President! So exciting, I've been wanting to meet her since I pledged last year.
I'm in the middle of developing a point system for our chapter (something AXO does nation-wide). It has been one of the hardest and most challenging things I have ever done as a student leader. We are trying to hold our members accountable for their involvement, and I ended up taking a lot of heat from older members which made me second-guess all the change I was trying to support. It made me step back and consider why I was even motivated to enforce the changes...

I guess I came to the conclusion that change is hard. You are going to have people who are going to give you push back no matter what you propose. People are hard to work with, as we are naturally stubborn and like to defend our own interests. As a leader, we have to be aware that we are doing what is best for the most people involved. It takes courage to be a leader, to enact change that could challenge the 'way things are' in order to promote growth.

"But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."
Psalm 86:15


Friday, January 27, 2012

Shaping My Destiny

Pin It Now! Today was just one of those days... one of those days when even a pick-me-up and a good friend just can't quite do the trick. So where do I turn?

Pinterest. If you haven't logged on, please spare yourself a few hours and explore. Such a time-sucker but so worth it. It's like you can plan your whole life through online photos! :) Here is what I came across today:

Sometimes we all need a beautiful reminder that we are loved. We don't have to...

Live up to anything.
Be anyone else.
Compromise our own natural beauty.
Forget that we are special and unique.

Everyone is loved by someone. Whether that be God, the family and friends in your life, or the very author of the post... you are valued and deserve the world.

Never forget...
you are loved.

In other news, guess where I am off to tomorrow morning!?

An Alpha Chi Omega Leadership Convention in Indianapolis, IN! As Vice President Chapter Relations & Standards, I get to meet hundreds of other Alpha Chi women this weekend at a professional conference in a hotel downtown!

Can you say AWESOME?

I'm so excited for banquets, shopping, networking, meeting so many incredible women and truly being thrown into one of my first professional "workplace" settings!

I'll be blogging about it all weekend, as well as writing for Alpha Chi... so STAY TUNED!

"Let everything that has life and breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord."
Psalm 150:6


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

All Your Heart

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If you are anything like me, and most people I assume, you take great care and caution to guard your heart. We protect ourselves from hurt, pain, and disappointment by refusing to let anyone get in deep enough to reach our heart and personal desires.

The important question is why? Why is it so hard to let people in... even the people we love and trust the most. Even the God that we so desperately seek?

I think it's because we get caught. We get caught up in the insignificant and the struggle that make life so much harder than it really should be. We forget to realize that life is about so much more than jobs, school, success, promotions or money.... but we refuse to let these things go because it seems like they're all we have.

The only way to get beyond these things that really don't matter in the end is to... let go, trust, love, and seek with your whole heart.

Woah... way easier said than done right? How are we supposed to just forget about money and material things and give away our hearts? I think it might be a lifelong process, each day if we can get closer and closer, I think that is all we can ask for.

I encourage you to give a piece of heart today. Open up and learn to live.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, January 16, 2012

Love One Another

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Ahhh, the beauty of finding an inspiring word collage on Pinterest. There are so many great words and phrases in this photo.

My favorite of them all comes at the end... Love One Another.

I think it's so easy to get caught up in everything we expect ourselves to accomplish, to get distracted by all of our own selfish needs and desires, and to put ourselves above the other important people in our lives.

We are all culprits. It happens every day.

It happens when I take the last parking spot, right before someone else.
It happens when I cancel plans because I'm 'too busy.'
It happens when I forget to be thankful for the food and home I'm provided with.

The hard thing is, it happens without us really being aware of it. It is in our nature to look out for ourselves—to be self-protective and self-absorbed.

What would happen if we took a step back and realized that LIFE is more than us? It is more than success or failures. It is more than waking up alone.

Take a step back today and love and acknowledge the people in your life. Appreciate all that they do for you, and give something to them in return. If we're going to change the way people treat each other, it has to start with the individual.

"Whatever you do, work heartily as for the LORD and not for men."
Colossians 3:23


Monday, January 9, 2012


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Today I choose to let go of fear.

Today I choose to let other people in.

Today I choose to embrace my individuality.

Today I choose to make a change.

Today I choose to believe in myself.

Today I choose to be different.

Wouldn't it be great if we could think like this all of the time? We would make it so much easier on ourselves and get so much more accomplished. We could learn to live without fear, radiating self-confidence and sharing an abundance of love with others.

I challenge you to take something on today. Make a change. Make a move. I dare you to be different.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

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