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

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