Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5 Years Ago

I remember my first year in high school not because of the dramatic shift from middle school, but rather the fact that my 16 year old sister was pregnant. I can't count the number of times that I was stopped in the hallway and asked about Alicia. Majority of the time, I didn't even know the people who poked and prodded at my personal life.
It's funny to me that the best little blessing in my life came after months of bullying in the school hallways. My life felt like a live version of MTV's popular 16 and Pregnant. To an extent, it was.

My note to you is simple. I want to say thank you to everyone who stopped me in the hallway and belittled my family. Thank you to everyone who whispered behind my back about the disgrace that my sister was. Thank you to every teacher that ever scolded the life I had. Thank you to every single parent that wouldn't let me hang out with their child because they thought that I was a bad influence. Without your shaming, I wouldn't be the person that I am today.
I can't tell you how much I have grown in the past five years since I have become an aunt. I have learned how to unconditionally love someone [SO much, t------hi------s much]. I have learned how to take the negatives in life and develop them into blessings and gifts. I have learned that it is your story that makes you unique, regardless of the impression it may give off.

Most importantly, I have learned how to cherish and be eternally grateful for every single person that has ever supported my family.
Thank you to the coaches that let me miss practice for the birth. Thank you to every friend that was still a friend. Thank you to every teacher that ever asked how my sister and the baby was doing.  Thank you to all my family up north, who unconditionally shower us southerns with love and grace.
I am forever grateful for each and every one of you.

The most important lesson I have learned since the birth of Alaina is that it is okay to be broken. In the midst of brokenness, God blessed my family with the sweetest child. One who loves no matter what and laughs at everything. There is no gift greater than life and I couldn't be more thankful that I get to share mine with Alaina.

When life feels like it is falling apart, God will provide the glue to keep it together. Alaina was that glue.

Five years ago, God blessed my family with the GREATEST blessing: little Alaina Summer. Happy fifth birthday, princess.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17

Monday, May 16, 2016

God's Plan is Greater

"Some of God’s greatest gifts come from Him saying no. Some of the greatest adventures come from God closing the door to what you planned.When God says no, He says yes to something even greater than you made in your 5 year plan." -Grace Valentine
DanceBlue 2016: Final Reveal
$1,631,067.49 FOR THE KIDS!
I always struggle to figure out where God is calling me to work. For the longest time, I believed it was as a pediatric oncologist. From the moment I first watched My Sister's Keeper, I felt called to fix kids like Kate Fitzgerald. I have seen that movie so many times, I can almost quote it word-for-word.
My Sister's Keeper is what first struck my interest in DanceBlue. DanceBlue is a year-long fundraising campaign that raises money to support the DanceBlue KY Children's Hospital Hematology Oncology Clinic and culminates in a 24 hour no sit, no sleep dance marathon.
I was and still am avidly involved in DanceBlue. Freshman year I had the honor of fundraising and dancing with the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment team. I knew I wanted to do more, so I decided to apply for the Family Relations committee, which would allow me the opportunity to volunteer in the clinic and directly serve the kids and their families. Unfortunately, I was not selected. With the competitiveness of Family Relations, I wasn't too bummed the first time I didn't get it. Instead I graciously took over the position as a team captain. In this position, I was able to be the direct link between my team and DanceBlue, helping facilitate fundraising and providing guidance, encouragement and support to the rest of the team.
As my second marathon came to a close, I still felt like I had more to give to this awesome organization. I decided to again apply for Family Relations in addition to Corporate (working with the community to gain sponsorships) and Morale (a group of high energy students that worked to promote DanceBlue in the community and serve roughly 40 students at the marathon as a leader). Trying again, this time for all three committees, I had high hopes. I remember thinking:
There is no way I can't get one of these committees. I am so passionate about DanceBlue and the kids. They'll find the perfect place for me on one of these committees. 
I couldn't have been farther from the truth.

When I finally built up the courage to tell someone about how devastated I was about not getting committee, I was in tears. I cried so hard. I remember talking with one of my greatest friends on the phone and telling her that it really was a wake-up call. It brought me back to my time in Arizona, when I realized I wasn't supposed to be a doctor. It brought me back to February, through my acceptance in the Coordinated Program, when God told me that dietetics truly was the path for me. I remember being so stressed about changing my major and switching my life plan. When I got my acceptance email, it was as if God was saying:
 I have placed you here for a reason. This is the path for you. 
Through my acceptance of God's plan, which deterred me from my plan of healing these children, I never looked at the big picture. I never analyzed how grave of an impact closing that door would be. I didn't think that God saying "no" to being a pediatric oncologist meant he would close the door for me to serve on committee for DanceBlue. Through pursuing committee on DanceBlue, I was telling myself that my plan was still much greater than God's. I was trying to pursue a path that God has continually told me was not for me. That was a hard realization for me. But it is all in His time. It was in that moment that my friend said what I needed to hear the most, "something big is coming for you." Sure, I am a planner. Ask anyone. However, I never thought about how God's plan would impact my future when things didn't go my way. I didn't stop to think about the positives that would develop out of such a devastating experience.

Serving on committee would require me to sacrifice my work with the middle school guard to pursue a position I had longed for since high school. I had come to terms with that, although devastated about it.
But God told me no.
I am still grasping that part.
For over 7 years I had plans to work with these sick children. To serve them. To be selfless towards them.
Still, God told me no.
I wanted so badly to have the opportunity to serve such a beautiful population of youth.
That's when it hit me.
I was the one wanting these things. Not God. 

I have learned throughout the years that I have a passion for youth. In particular, I have learned my love for middle schoolers. They are so impressionable: always looking for a role model and a leader. I love being able to be that for them.
I am not sure what is coming my way and I still have no clue what I want to do when I graduate.

In moments like these, I always lean back on Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
There is only one thing that I know and it is that I want to serve God through whatever I pursue in my future.