Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I love rain. 

Most people find it gloomy. 

But every time it rains, my face breaks out in a grin 
as memories flood through my mind's eye and warm my soul. 
Some of my best memories have come with rain. 

Dancing in the middle of a downpour during the best week of my life, 
then walking to session, my hair dripping, 
my clothes sagging, the wettest person there. 

Running through a raging storm, splashing in nearly knee-deep puddles 
as I made my way through Washington, D.C., 
surrounded by friends, all of us dressed in our best.

Sitting in an amphitheater, writing and practicing a speech. Clouds were just gathering, the wind picking up, a few drops hitting my nose. I had thought myself completely relaxed as I timed my words. But a friend's voice behind me made me scream, jump up, start to run, then burst into laughter as we both shook our heads at my over-reaction.

Running through a downpour, holding my tiny umbrella, another friend's hand gripped over mine, stumbling, laughing, trying to reach the stone legislative building ahead, getting wet despite our efforts.

Standing in a torrential downpour, trying to transfer luggage to another car, laughing as a parent ordered his son to do something before realizing it was the child hadn't seen for a week.

Singing in the middle of a parking lot. 

Riding Splash Mountain over and over and over again, 
not caring how wet I got. 
Just happy to be having a great time. 

Walking arm in arm with a close friend I rarely see, 
talking about anything and everything as rain gently fell. 

Rain is my friend.

Whenever it pours, my heart fills with smiles and laughter..

Memories that I will never forget.

Memories that will always make me love rain.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Speak and the World Listens

Last weekend, I attended a speech qualifying tournament.

[Have you ever had that moment where you're writing and you try to write an attention-grabbing first sentence, but can't? Yeah, I'm there. But, my insecurities aside, this was a crazy weekend for me.]

It was insane.

I've looked forward to it ever since I got the e-mail announcing when registration would open.

But... then I got nervous. Really nervous.

I wanted to break. I had to break. It was the last qualifier of the season. And the only one I'd been able to attend.

But everyone was so much better than me. They had coaches. And clubs. And speech and debate was the only thing they did.

For me, speech is one thing among a million.

But I went. And I loved it.

But, you know, I walked into it not really expecting to learn anything huge. Especially spiritually.

NCFCA is a Christian organization, but you know, it's one of those things where it's a competition and you just think about the fact that you're going there to compete with other people.

But I did learn something.

Honestly, I learned a lot.

And the fact that I didn't break made me learn even more.

Take my pride, for instance. I thought there wasn't any way I couldn't break. I'm the best 4-H speaker in my county. I'm among the top in my speech class. I've come so far since I was eleven. When I was the little girl who rocked back and forth on her heels and held her note cards up in her face. I walked into that tournament ready to blow the judges away and make my way to the top.

Even during the tournament, when I was getting power-matched with people whom I had heard were really good, I thought for sure I would break.

But I didn't.

To be honest, I thought there'd been some mistake. As I was going home, I kept waiting for my phone to buzz. For it to be a friend or one of the heads of the tournament, telling me there'd been a mistake; a typo; something.

But there wasn't.

That was harder than I thought it would be.

I'm okay with it now. And I definitely learned from it.

Someone has to win, someone has to lose. If we all won, it wouldn't be a competition.

And what about prayer? Giving God complete control of everything.

One of the biggest things I struggle with is letting God have control. I've always been the "do it myself" kind of person. Independent, not wanting to admit to anyone I need help. But during this weekend, something that God showed me (actually, a better way to put it would be something God smacked me in the face with) was the huge difference between the rounds I spent time in prayer before, and the round I chatted and joked with my friends before.

Before my first and third rounds, I spent quite a bit of time praying, begging God to help me convey my piece in a way that would honor Him and bring across to people what I wanted to bring across. I walked out of those rounds feeling confident and like God had spoken through me with every word and every motion. In my first round, a judge cried. In my third, all three were so stunned, it was all they could do to shake my hand and smile when I thanked them.

But before my second round, I had several friends with me. We were all hanging out and chatting and joking and just having a good time. There's nothing wrong with that. But I wasn't thinking about my piece, or what I had to do and say. And then, my mom came to watch as well, and I was talking to her and.. I completely forgot to pray. My turn came so suddenly. I went in, and did well, but my mom and I both knew I could do better. Much better.

Giving everything to God is so important. Even in seemingly small things like a speech competition. I think a lot of times, even as Christians, we don't really think about the fact that God cares about every teeny, tiny minute detail of our lives. He wants to see us succeed and do well. He wants to fill us with strength to do whatever we're doing: even a speech.

There were other things that filled the weekend. Things that made me smile, laugh, stress myself out, and so much more. Things that are running through my mind that I can't sort out. Things that make me wish my mind wasn't so busy.

But the weekend was amazing. God is amazing. The things He showed me in that short amount of time are things I pray I never forget. I know this post seems kind of scattered, but that's how I'm feeling about the weekend. While I loved everything, not breaking was a bit of a let-down. But it's okay. It's all okay. What I need to concentrate on now is what God taught me, and what He gave me that weekend: a lot of time with a close friend I rarely get to see, a chance to speak competitively, a big lesson in being prideful, another huge lesson in the fact that God cares about everything in my life, and a greater understanding of other things in my life that have in the past left me confused and reaching out into the void of misunderstanding.

It was an amazing weekend.

And I wouldn't take it back for the world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Counting it All Joy

“Life is 
10% what happens to you 
and 90% how you react to it.” 
–Charles R. Swindoll

When asked to describe me, my friends will use words like:






I’ve been told I’m known for my friendliness and my always open shoulder. 
I’m active in 4-H, TeenPact, work, and life in general. 

All of this describes my 90%: 
how I’ve reacted to life. 

But what most people don’t know about me is my 10%: 
what happened to me. 

Because my 10% is that I was bullied for five long years. 

I would be lying if I said I emerged from this ordeal stronger all on my own. 
Yes, I emerged a stronger person, 
but not because of anything I did. 

Who I am today is all because of God. 

Many times, I found myself looking at the footprints in the sand and, upon seeing only one set, 
wondered where God was in all of it

What I failed to see 
was that He was carrying me: 
every step of the way. 

Throughout those years, He gave me someone who constantly reminded me that He was in full control, 
even when I felt like life was spinning out of control: 
my mother. 

I remember late nights when she would hold me as I cried. 
She always told me the same thing:

“And we know that all things 
work together for good 
to them that love God 
to them who are the called 
according to His purpose.” 
Romans 8:28. 

People who know me and knew me as I went through this trial in my life  
would probably be shocked 
if I told them 
I am a victim of bullying. 

I used to equate this to putting on a mask. 
 And for a while, 
I believe I was. 

But God’s constant prodding and my mom’s constant prayer made me realize something: 
I must count it all joy. 

Being joyful when all I wanted 
was to curl up in a corner and cry my life away 
was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. 

But I didn’t do it on my own. 

The reason I can be joyful is because 
God is teaching me 




 and faith. 

I’ve forgiven those girls. 
It took quite a while, but God never gave up on my heart.

“My brethren, 
count it all joy 
when ye fall into divers temptations; 
Knowing this, 
that the trying of your faith 
worketh patience.” 
James 1:2-3