"Words without poetry lack passion; words without passion lack persuasion; words without persuasion lack power."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Live Intently Through Difficulty and Delight

It's been quite some time since I last posted, but I have great news: I plan on blogging at least once a week starting August 1. I will also be revamping the look and functionality of my blog and I can't wait to share it with you!

Many, many changes have taken place in my life recently and I will be sharing them with you over the next several posts. One change is the ending of my position at Patriot Talon upon my graduation in May. I left the school and the newspaper with some final thoughts and I would love to share them with you.
It’s not that I don’t like change. In fact, change excites me, but letting go of certain experiences in my life can be extraordinarily tough.

I’ve been like this since my childhood, actually. As silly as it may seem, I would get upset when my baseball season would end or my choir play was finished. During the event, though, I was alive. It always felt like the best moment of my life.

I think it’s because I exert every ounce of myself into my current circumstance. This characteristic ensures I truly commit and enjoy circumstances like jobs, college and relationships, but it definitely doesn’t make transitions easier.

In a few days, I’ll be graduating and also completing a two-year run at the Patriot Talon, the last of which I served as Editor in Chief. My time at the Talon has provided some of the toughest challenges I’ve ever faced. I’ve been a part of difficult circumstances I probably can’t accurately express, served on committees to hire a new adviser, built pages well into the early morning and even lost hope in journalism at certain points.

In retrospect I’ve learned irreplaceable skills, like building a newspaper and running the staff — but that’s only the beginning.

There really is nothing greater than the smell of coffee in the newsroom, watching the editors perfect their dart skills and attempting to outwit each other with sassy remarks.

The absolute best part of my time at the Talon was the people I was privileged to meet. It was seeing a writer excited about their first byline. It was the delirious late-night moments in the newsroom. It was knowing the staff inside and out, disappointed and elated, at the point of giving up and thriving.

I’ve met some of my best friends while working at the Talon, and perhaps that is why this goodbye is particularly hard. Despite this sadness, it was completely worth living in the moment.

So, I challenge you to immerse yourself in your current circumstance in order to gain the most character, cultivate the truest friendships and experience blissful interactions. It’s so important to chase after what you’re pursuing with full abandon, even if by doing so it hurts to let it go. I believe this is what it means to live life to its fullest.

French poet, journalist and author Anatole France explained it best when he wrote: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

I know my journalism professors would advise me to end here, but I can’t finish without saying thank you.

Bonnie Davis, your joy is infectious. Thank you so much for your encouragement and optimism through last year.

To Kevin Dilley, there is not a doubt in my mind that you care about students and want them to succeed. You helped me believe my writing can still change people’s lives. Thank you so much for everything.

Andy “Lieutenant Dandy” Taylor, I can’t believe we got through this past year. I’ll always remember your two a.m. newsroom pep talks. Thank you. I have no doubt that you will do even greater things with the Talon.

To Kamren Thompson, thank you for being my design sensei, but more importantly thank you for being an incredible friend and listening when there was no one else.

To my staff this past year, there honestly aren’t words for me to appropriately thank you. I could not have imagined a more committed and talented group of people to work alongside.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.

Click here to find the original article. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Adventures, Reflections, and Lessons Learned

As I reflect on the past year of my life, I can't help but arrive at the same bit of wisdom I began with in my first post of 2011.
"The ability to see the beauty within the ashes is the fuel for our joy, and the foundations of our hope."
Please join me as I attempt to recap my last 365 days and illustrate what I have learned along the way.

If we were to use the analogy of mountains and valleys, I would describe this past year undoubtedly as a valley. A beautiful valley, but a valley for certain. However, I found hope in the beauties seen.

In 2011, I served as the Web Managing Editor for my school newspaper in the spring, won Best in Show at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association conference in Fort Worth, became elected as Editor in Chief of the newspaper for the fall semester, and wrote a series on religion.

I also got to be a Young Life leader, travel to Colorado, travel to Arkansas, build and nurture beautiful relationships, see a best friend become engaged, be a part of her wedding, move into a house with two amazing roommates, nanny for the sweetest autistic child, and register for my last semester of my undergraduate degree.

Truly though, no matter how big my travels may or may not be, and no matter how large or small my accomplishments seem, the time I spent investing in people and cultivating relationships and community surpass any highlight I could report. I'm so thankful for the people who have listened and supported me in a year of challenges, and for the people who allowed me to do so for them. I would never trade these moments whether they were characterized by tears or immeasurable joy.

Now, I implied earlier that I have faced a more difficult year. Please consider the use of the word "difficult" lightly, because I regard difficulty highly if it is learned from, and applied to life with wisdom.
"I believe I grow most through times of trial. whether the trial is self-inflicted or environmental. I hope never to find myself lacking in trials simply because I shelter myself from potential hurting.
 However, I do not wish to encounter difficulty as an extremist, believing I cannot grow otherwise...Instead may I find myself taking advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow from the lesser beauties in my life."
 For a further explanation, I invite you to read a blog I posted earlier this year concerning pride.

Through various choices made and life altering decisions that needed to be made, my life changed so much in 2011 and this is what I have learned:

  • Blessed are the choices taken in faith, no matter how scary the unknown outcome may be.
  • God provides monetarily even if the way He provides hurts our pride. 
  • Community is both vital and beautiful. He will continue to deepen our understanding of community throughout life.
  • God answers. Although, most often in a way that greatly differs than what we think we are asking for. 
  • Deeply immerse yourself in the present will of God. It may be painful when it is time for change, but it is life to its fullest. 
  • You really are NEVER alone. 
  • Be proactive about change you wish to see, of course while you seek Him, His word, and council.
  • While making decisions remember He stands outside of time. He is sovereign.  
  • Sometimes the greatest blessings are given when they are truly least expected. 
  • When you find your identity in Christ, you are able to stand firm even when waves crash down. 

      I greatly anticipate 2012. This year I will graduate college, hike the continental divide with some of my closest high school friends, and finish my last semester as Editor in Chief of the Patriot Talon. There will be so much change, but I am so excited to experience and learn what God has for me this year.

      Won't you join me in pursing life to its fullest?

      Wednesday, November 2, 2011

      Tyler Community Member Envisions A 'Revolution'

      Few individuals portray such a vibrant passion for serving the community as Travis White, local licensed professional counselor and executive director of Mission Tyler.

      "Imagine if we, as believers, came together with one purpose, one calling, to connect to others with the love of Jesus Christ by meeting them at the point of their need," he said.  "It would be love the way God intended. It could start a revolution."
      White runs the local christian non-profit ministry, Mission Tyler, that he said exists to help connect the resources of the local church to the needs of the local community. 

      The organization of people works toward this ideal by educating, equipping, and empowering people in the community about being intentional with local service.  

      "(By) helping believers understand the needs in our community and how their giftedness, passion can connect," he said. 

      This past Tuesday More than 150 community members gathered together at a Mission Tyler facilitated event called The City Gate.  Christians from 25 different ministries and 30 churches gathered together to worship, discuss the happenings within the different ministries and making connections with other people. 

      "I'd like to think of it as a "collective" cup of coffee networking meeting but with many different like-minded people at once," he said.

      One attendee said the night was amazing. "It was so cool to see all the people who showed up, not just physically, but with true hearts of 'connection.'" Others said they left feeling inspired and motivated for ways to serve in the future.

       Mission Tyler offers different outlets for service including:  reduced fee counseling for individuals, couples and families and other services. 

      "We partner with other ministries and agencies in our community to address safe housing needs for low income, elderly and disabled through painting, basic construction, and yard, lot clearing project," White said.  

      Most recently, the ministry organized and sent relief teams to Joplin, Mo after the tornado in May.  

      "We have also used local experiences and networking to assist in mobilizing mission teams to other regional locations," he said. 

       For more information, visit www.oneloverevoloution.com.

      Saturday, September 10, 2011

      Behind My Red Reporter Glasses: Thoughts On Student Grief

      Have you recently lost a loved one?

      Twenty-two to 30 percent of college students have lost a loved one in the last year, according to a study by David Balk.

      I spent the last week and a half talking to various specialists on the subject of grieving, as well as students who recently lost someone, or who are still grieving, years after their loss. The information I came across was helpful, difficult to hear and impacting.

      I spoke with a student who lost her brother in April of this year. Her grief was very real and transparent. She had one of the sweetest spirits I've encountered, but she bravely described the circumstances that have been the toughest throughout her loss. She said people often meant to offer consoling advice such as "it's been three months, smile and be happy," and "Ben would want you to be happy." 
      The student continued by describing the pain those phrases inflicted, rather then the positive affect they were meant to have.

      Local Licensed Professional Counselor, Travis White, emphasized the importance of a good support system after the loss of a loved one, but he also offered the following advice to the friends of the person grieving: Listen. Just listen.
      White explained five common stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Although he said everyone will go through the phases in different orders, and some may not experience every stage. 

      Another Student I spoke with lost a loved one four-and-a-half years ago. She described her situation in detail, mentioning a period of depression following the loss. She said it affected her academically- she didn't return back to school for a week, and even still, it was hard. 
      Presently, this student is a senior in college, and the death of her loved one motivates her positively in her academics and career goals.

      Losing a loved one during college is especially difficult because student are often: geographically distant from their usual support systems, coping with academic pressures and forging one’s autonomy, according to the Students of AMF research.

      Both students mentioned above offered the following advice to someone who has recently lost someone: "Don't blame yourself," and "allow yourself to grieve."

      What has been your experience with grief? How have you dealt with it? 

      To read the article the post is based off of, and to find out more about these students experiences with grief, check out the  Patriot Talon this Tuesday, Sept. 13. Their stories will engage you, and I believe, move you.    Also, check out LPC, Chris Legg. He recently posted a series of posts concerning grief. 

      Saturday, August 27, 2011

      Exciting Changes and Untraveled Territory

      It has been a while since my last post, and within the absence of posts, many changes have taken place in my life. 

      I would love to share them with you.

      The whirlwind of change began with making one of the toughest choices, perhaps the toughest choice, I've ever made. After months of thought, prayer, and council I made a choice to resign from a job that I held for five years, in order to pursue my education and related tasks. Leaving my job was much tougher than I thought it would be. I loved my job very much, and felt honored to have received the privileges and opportunities I gained over the years- but the struggle came in much more intimate ways then professional. Five years is a long time to spend in a repetitive activity, and within those years I invested deeply into the people I worked with, and the owners of the company. Also, I grew up behind those counters; I became an adult during my time there.

      All things considered, the choice made for a tough transition.

      “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” -Anatole France

       I currently work as a part-time nanny, and also teach dance a few hours a week, but I needed to find another part-time job to make ends meet this semester and next before I graduate in May 2012. So, I spent a week applying at every place I could think of that fit the hours I have available to work. I ended up finding a paid internship that doubles for an upper-division elective for my degree plan, which in turn cleared a little more time in my schedule.

      Another change is I am newly serving as the Editor-n-Chief of the Patriot Talon this year. I am beyond excited for this opportunity, and can't wait to see what my staff can do.

      I will continue to finish my higher education with expected graduation in May 2012, as I mentioned earlier, and will continue serving as a Young Life leader.

      Reflecting on the past couple of weeks already amazes me. A million different emotions flew around in my mind as each choice came to fruition, and still continue to do so. Change is scary and requires hope and trust, and transitions can stretch someone very thin.

      It's as though puzzle pieces are clicking together, and much differently than I would have pictured- well, truthfully I couldn't picture anything. I chose, and choose, to take it day by day, fully trusting him as I run this race. I am so excited for all of my new adventures.
      Let's do it.

      As life quickly unravels, we realize the things we love. We comprehend that melancholy thought and uncertainty actually enhance life with unique flavor, and sometimes this state of mind can be more valuable than a life of clarity. We cling to the constant promises that we trust to be true even if the promise is extremely vague in seasons. We find people need to be loved, and we are the souls to pour it out.

      Saturday, August 6, 2011

      I'm Sorry, But I Just Don't See It.

      There was a time in my life that I had such a disconnect concerning how to see spirituality in my very physical, everyday life. I would constantly intellectualize the concept as I sought to remove the wrench in the gears of my mind. I believe humanity is 100 percent physical and all the while 100 percent spiritual. If this is true, there must be some tangible way to see the spiritual while I work my job, attend school, socialize and so on. So, how do I see it?

      The outpouring of my thoughts at the time: The infusion of the spiritual life into the physical.

      We, the human race, are beings that have the unique possibility of containing the tantalizing spirit of God deep inside the crevices of our souls.
      The spirit is of the God of the bible who created the earth, flooded the earth and restored it, who rescued the courageous trio from the fiery furnace, who sacrificed his son to save his people, and who will return to redeem them once and for all.
      Whoever possesses this spirit has potential beyond anything in the material world. God uses his creation to display His beauty and perfection, and his creation includes humanity. Unique to all of His creation, humanity is the climax of his beloved masterpiece.
      The concept of combining the spiritual with the physical is better comprehended when we realize the manifestations of the spirit of God in our lives; the fruit of our relationship with God- are tangible avenues of the spiritual within the physical.

      I came to realize beauty and good conduct in our lives according to his word IS the spiritual. We could not exercise these things without the spirit of God within us, or simply God's grace on this world.

      "Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. " - C.S. Lewis

      Saturday, July 16, 2011

      Where Home Really Is

      Home is a familiar sensation.

      Home is full of safety and raw, genuine existing; a place where breathing is easy and fear is unthinkable, for it does not exist.

       "The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." -Maya Angelou

      Over the course of my life I have lived in many different houses and two different states. I have done quite a bit of traveling, and consequently saw some beautiful places. Even still, "home" has nothing to do with a building or geographical location in my life.

      "Home," to me, is the place where I am most myself. When I am at "home" I feel safe, raw, vulnerable and transparent in the healthiest of ways. "Home" helps me process, regroup my perspective and priorities, and most often inspires me.  Sometimes, a location feels like "home," but mostly actions, settings, or even people feel like "home." In my life, where I meet God is always "home," for God defines who I am.

      The following are circumstances of "home" to me so far:
      • Family.
      • When I am dancing. On stage or in the studio with the lights off. 
      • Writing, piano. 
      • In community. People.
      • When I am a part of something larger than myself.
      • Adventures. Cities. Out of the ordinary. Travel.
      • In the midst of outdoor beauty. 
      • Reading with coffee.  Especially while its raining.
      Home refreshes me and reminds me of who I am--so I may function smoothly.

      So, today, I encourage you to identify where your "home" is.

      “Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserved; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind."-Harriet Beecher

      Share: what is "home" to you?
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