Dear Gamma Mu,

Dear Gamma Mu,

On Sunday, November 12, 2017, the Gamma Mu Chapter of the Chi Omega Fraternity was installed at Coastal Carolina University, making it the 181st chapter of Chi Omega. That date will easily stick out as one of the best days of my life. I am filled with purpose knowing that I got to play a role in establishing this chapter and preparing these girls for all that is ahead of them. Serving as a Resident National Leadership Consultant has been the most humbling season of my life. I have grown more than I ever thought imaginable. I have so many thoughts for all my newly initiated Sisters whom I have so much love for, I figured I would write them here, hoping that others may gain something from it too.

To my newly initiated Sisters of Gamma Mu,

You are at the beginning of a beautiful journey. A journey that Chi Omega will take you on for the rest of your lives. A journey filled with new possibilities and new relationships that will take you farther than you ever thought imaginable.

As you all grow on this journey together, you will begin to see in yourselves strengths and skills that you never saw before. You’ll continue to develop confidence that you can do beyond what you ever thought you were capable of. You’ll continue to grow into the respectful, caring, fearless women I’ve gotten to know this fall. My hope is that you always feel accepted and supported in Chi Omega. That you feel safe and at home in Gamma Mu. And that you know that you are loved for exactly who you are.

I want y’all to know that with the right combination of belief, strength, faith, and support, you can do beyond what you ever dreamed you could. I honestly never thought I could do this job, I thought it was too big of an assignment to undertake and that I wouldn’t make it till the end. But I took a risk and said yes, because Chi Omega believed in me and they keep believing in me every day. My Sisters in Chi Omega give me the support I need to keep moving forward, and that has led me to this life-changing experience-giving you all the gift of Chi Omega.

Never doubt yourself. You are here for a reason. You have a beautiful purpose in Chi Omega that is just now beginning to unfold. You have so much ahead of you. You have changed my life, each and every one of you. You have reminded me and shown me that I am stronger than I think. You have shown me the value of a smile and a good hug. You have shown me the power in love and care and how just because you only know someone for a short period of time doesn’t mean that they can’t leave a lasting impact on your life.

It has been the greatest honor walking alongside you all as you start our Gamma Mu chapter. You’ve given me the strength to believe that I can do whatever comes next in my life. That I can step out of my comfort zone again, and, when I do, Chi Omega will be there for me. I can’t even think about the day that I leave you all because I will cry like a baby, but you can rest confidently knowing that whether we are near or far from each other, we will always have Chi Omega. And you all will always be in my life. I want you to always know that a huge part of your purpose in Chi Omega was making me a better person. You’ve all changed my life for the better, and I never want you to forget that.

I love y’all from the bottom of my heart and truly cannot wait to see where Chi Omega takes you.

With love,

Mere

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Comfort. Courage. Connection.

Comfort. Courage. Connection.

I am so excited about this blog today. I’ve written at least four drafts of it trying to get my thoughts in order, and then, finally, this weekend it all clicked. The dots connected and I finally feel like I have something worth sharing regarding what I’ve experienced the past few weeks.

This past month has been filled with ups and downs. October has brought me my happiest days here in Myrtle Beach, but it also has brought me my loneliest nights. These feelings have left me wondering, why do I feel this way…? What in the world is God trying to teach me? How am I growing?

So, in order to hopefully help myself work through the highs and lows, I picked up Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong, which speaks into the ability to reset after a fall. In it, she urges the reader to, recognize the power of emotion and to not be afraid to lean into the discomfort. Well, I’ve been striving to do just that. I want to recognize what I’m feeling and what’s contributing to all my emotions. I do not want to bury these feelings or pretend like I don’t struggle. I am determined to grow stronger. And to do so, I had to do a little digging.

Three words have struck me as I’ve woven together what I’ve discovered in this season of life: comfort, courage, and connection. For simple writing and reading purposes, I’ve broken the rest of this post up into these three sections. They all bleed into one another, but the best place for me to start is at the root of it all — losing my comfort.

COMFORT.

Moving out here to Myrtle Beach to help start our newest Chi Omega chapter was definitely out of my comfort zone. There are moments when I doubt that I can do this. There are moments when I deeply miss my family and friends. And Texas…I miss Texas a lot. This shift in comfort, this lack of comfort, has put me in some difficult moments where I am forced to grow stronger and to overcome from within. I’ve been stripped of most comforts, making me lean on Jesus more than ever in this season, recognizing that He is the God of all comfort. I wouldn’t wish away this discomfort for anything though, for from it has emerged more courage than I ever thought I had.

COURAGE.

It takes great courage to step out of our comfort zones, into the unknown. Sometimes we find ourselves in seasons that require more courage than we’d ever thought we’d need before. Right now I am discovering I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. And it’s quite the paradox because I grow stronger every day that I admit that I’m weak and I can’t do this alone. Each day I choose to find my strength in God’s never-failing love and power, I gain more courage than I had the day before. Brown writes in Rising Strong,

We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.

I may not be able to experience comfort and courage at the same time, but I take great comfort in knowing that I am becoming more courageous every day.

CONNECTION.

It takes courage to put yourself out there in the hopes of making a new connection. Brown always speaks of how we are neurotically hard-wired for connection. We long to be connected physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Being over 1,000 miles away from any sense of natural connection has made me feel more disjointed than ever before. My connections don’t come as easy as they once did. They take work and patience and prayer.

As my connections with familiar family and friends feel weaker, my connection with God grows stronger. He is here with me in every lonely moment when I feel disconnected. And He has blessed me with new connections.

When I have a moment of connection with one of my members, it fills me with joy knowing that I am serving my purpose. When they find me in Starbucks (which they all know is my on-campus office) and give me a big hug, I feel connected. When they tell me about a difficulty going on in their personal lives that I’ve also been through myself, I feel connected. But the biggest way I’ve stayed connected throughout all the change, the way I have discovered more courage and capability than I ever thought possible, is through Chi Omega.

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Chi Omega has blessed me with an unshakable connection to our newest members here at Coastal Carolina and to my closest sisters who are thousands of miles away. No matter how different we may be, we share this sisterhood that immediately connects us. It draws us in and creates an almost instant atmosphere of love and care.

Connection gets us through the toughest of times. We are made for it. We need it. And knowing that I get to play a small role in giving these women at Coastal a life-changing source of connection for the rest of their lives brings me great joy in the midst of the discomfort. These connections will carry them through college and the rest of their lives. It has carried me through my happiest moments and my darkest of days because I have been blessed with sisters who will always be by my side. Chi Omega gives us the gift of connection, and this gift has granted me the courage to lean into the discomfort to discover my purpose.

Thanks, October, for some crazy life lessons there.

 

Perspective

Perspective

There have been so many things I have been learning in this new stage of life. I am so blessed to be over here in Myrtle Beach where I live ten minutes from the beach. The beach has been one of the biggest gifts God has given me in this season of life.

In the mornings, I like to go to there to seek stillness. To be in the quiet. To feel the wind brush against my face. To hear the gentle roar of the ocean. And sometimes, to see the sunrise (if I can get up early enough.)

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These are some of my most cherished moments since moving here and in these moments I feel my perspective shift.

See, in this role I find myself in, I can feel like I’m drowning sometimes. From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, there is something I could be doing. Some form I could be creating, a text I could be answering, an idea I could be making reality. Always. Something.

And I’ve been getting overwhelmed. For sure. I want to do it all and do it all so well, but I am humbled every day to remember that I’m going to fall short. I’m going to mess up. And that’s okay, because those mistakes don’t have to define me. And these feelings of being overwhelmed don’t have to enslave me.

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I can choose freedom. I can choose to take a different perspective. I can choose joy. Looking out on the vastness of the ocean reminds me of how much bigger the world is than I realize. It reminds me of the endless length and depth of God’s love for me. And when I get to see the sunrise or sunset and see the sky painted the most beautiful colors, I like to think that God painted it that way just to remind me that He’s here and He’s always providing for me. He offers to carry my burdens if I just let Him. He won’t fail me.

Scripture describes beautifully how I feel when I look out onto the ocean:

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. ~Ephesians 3:17-21

There is a bigger perspective in everything. I don’t want to get so lost in the day-to-day that I forget about the good and the larger story being written here. I am so humbled that I get to be here and that I get to do the job I am currently undertaking. At the end of the day, it is so important to remember the bigger picture. I’m learning that I can choose to find peace in the midst of the chaos. The ocean helps re-center my perspective and reminds me of the never-ending rhythms of God’s love and grace. Grace that I am drowning in every day.

 

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Cone of Uncertainty

Cone of Uncertainty

The past few weeks have been some of the most hectic and unpredictable of my life. I moved to South Carolina and my team arrived to begin our recruitment process. Hurricane Irma also decided to arrive right around the same time my team did, leaving us in a literal cone of uncertainty about what to do.

Should we go? Should we stay? Where are the students going? What is going to happen to our plans and our processes?

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We didn’t have many answers to those questions, so we did what we thought was best and packed our bags and left.

The next six days consisted of us traveling to four different cities and staying in four different places. From Camden to Atlanta to Greenville and back to Myrtle Beach, this team did it all. It was a wild ride, but in the end, everything worked out and we were still able to finish our recruitment process on time and celebrate our bid day as originally scheduled. I couldn’t believe it!

 

On the news, when reporters were talking about Irma, they kept referring to the cone of uncertainty and how they couldn’t be too certain of where the hurricane was going to hit. Well, that is the best way I can describe how my life felt the past few weeks – like a cone of uncertainty. Moving out here to a totally new city where I knew few people living by myself while trying to recruit an entirely new chapter virtually during a hurricane…all of that just left me feeling a bit uncertain about how this whole experience was going to go. BUT I am so excited to share with you what I learned about God’s faithfulness throughout the past few weeks and how He so graciously provided for me and my team when we really didn’t think we could do it.

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In the midst of this storm, I turned to Mark 4 and the story of when Jesus calms the storm. Scripture says,

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” ~Mark 4: 37-41

It is so easy for me to feel like Jesus is asleep and not listening to me. In times of uncertainty and fear, sometimes it can feel like God is silent and He doesn’t care at all. But then I read this passage, and remembered that even when it may feel like God isn’t doing anything, He still has the power to prevail and to calm any storm in my life. He is sovereign over all, even the storm, and this passage reminded me that He will protect me no matter what and He will never leave me.

It’s hard to have faith when there is little physical evidence of it. But I guess that’s when our faith is tested the most…when we can’t see it and when storms are raging. We have to have faith that Jesus is not asleep, He hasn’t checked out on us, but rather He is still in perfect control, even over what seems scary, and He will never abandon us.

While we were in Atlanta, we had the opportunity to visit Passion City Church and hear Louie Giglio preach a sermon. Ironically enough, the sermon was about the cone of uncertainty and living fearless in an age of fear. I think everyone at that huge church that morning needed to hear this message as Irma was hitting land that day. There were two phrases that really struck me during his sermon. He talked about having

Confident Concern and Empowered Engagement

I learned that I can be concerned about what is going on in the world around me, but at the same time, I don’t have to be afraid because I can be confident in the provision of the Lord and how He is always with us as our refuge and strength. I can be engaged in the difficulties with the empowered strength that comes from Christ alone. I don’t have to be afraid.

To throw a little Chi Omega at you, truly I have never witnessed a group of women embody our Symphony more than I did in my team over these past two weeks. There were moments where I was really scared and discouraged, where I didn’t think that we could make this colonization happen on time and that we weren’t going to hit our goals. But this team never quit, never made excuses, and never gave up. There was never one moment of negativity or doubt, never one moment where we couldn’t find a laugh or a smile amongst our group. These women showed me what being discouraged never  looked like in the midst of uncertainty and displayed to me how incredibly resilient and fearless Chi Omega women are.

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This chapter, the Gamma Mu Chapter of Chi Omega, means so much to me already for so many different reasons. I think the biggest reminder it gives me of all is that this chapter was created in the midst of a storm. It was created in the midst of uncertainty mixed with a lot of innovative ideas for how to recruit virtually. This chapter came together because of the faithfulness and hope of my team. I am confident this chapter is going to be full of resilient, strong, positive women who make a difference in the world despite of our ever-changing circumstances. I am so thankful for the endless joy these women bring me already and the incredible lessons they remind me of whenever I think of them.

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I never thought I’d say this, but God, thank you for the uncertainty you bring into my life. Every time you challenge me, I become stronger and more confident in who you are and how you provide for me. I know that no matter what comes my way, you can be trusted and you will fulfill your purpose for me, whatever that looks like.

To my team, thank you for showing me what resilience and positivity and perseverance looks like in the face of uncertainty. To my Gamma Mu gals, know that your journey is just beginning and that Chi Omega will never stop making you stronger. Give it your all, because if you let it, it will change your life.

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The Tension of In-Between

You ever feel like you’re in a period of waiting? Like full-on state of limbo waiting? Like it feels like nothing is happening right now but once this begins…THEN…

Well, that’s how I’m feeling right now. I am full on in the tension of the in-between.

I am in-between moving from my home in Fort Worth with roommates I love and friends who know me deeply to moving to South Carolina for a new work project where I barely know anyone.

Big. Change.

And I am so pumped for this change, do not get me wrong. But it has been more challenging than ever for me in this season to remain grateful for the period of waiting I’ve been given.

“Why can’t it all just happen right now, God??” That’s what I feel like I’m asking him each day. But I KNOW there is purpose in this time. There is reason behind the wait. There is growth. There is perfect purpose in every season, no matter how exciting it may seem.

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The biggest thing I’ve learned through this season of waiting, where I really don’t feel like I’m doing much or accomplishing much, is that just because I feel like nothing is moving, God is still moving and always using me. He never stops. He never sits around and just waits for me to get somewhere or meet someone or do something to use me. His love never ends.

Just because I feel like the best is yet to come doesn’t mean that God isn’t still giving me His very best for me today.

There is a lot of unknown in my life right now in multiple areas of my life. This unknown usually leaves me feeling scared, but this time, it leaves me feeling excited…and a little scared still. I’m beginning to enjoy these periods of uncertainty because it strengthens my faith so much. It makes me confident in the One I can always be certain of. Who knows what is going to happen in the next few months, but I can’t wait to find out.

Trust the wait.

Embrace the uncertainty.

Enjoy the beauty of becoming.

When nothing is certain, anything is possible.

 

Life is short. God is big.

Life is short. God is big.

Recently I read Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio and it impacted me greatly (I highly recommend this read!!) In the book, Giglio walks through five different giants that we commonly face in life: Rejection, Comfort, Addiction, Anger, and Fear. Seeing as I struggle with all five of those giants in some way, the book helped remind me of how powerful God is in helping me fight them and how it’s not up to me alone to conquer them.

In his chapter on comfort, Giglio shares this idea that life is short, and God is big. He reminds us that faith thrives in discomfort, and that nothing worth having comes without a cost.

These two sentences have impacted me greatly this week as I wrestle with losing comfort and worrying about the future:

LIFE IS SHORT.

GOD IS BIG.

Big transitions come with a lot to be nervous about or fearful of. I am in the process of moving twice in the next four weeks and leaving the people and places I know and love. It is easy for me to become consumed with worry about my to-do list and the “what ifs” in this season of uncertainty.

But, what can I be certain of today?

This truth. The truth that life is short and God is big. So why would I waste this precious day I’ve been given by filling it with worry of could or could not be? Why would I not spend my day being grateful for the good in it and worshipping this great God who gave it all to me? In his book, Giglio also shares that,

Worship and worry cannot occupy the same space.

When worry of the future, or even the present, starts to creep in, I must instead choose to be thankful and choose to worship. I don’t want my life to be comfortable anyway, that would be no fun!

In moments where I feel overwhelmed, I’ve learned to run to God first after making many mistakes of not doing that in the past. Yesterday, I opened my Bible to Psalm 40 and these words rocked my world:

Lord, you do not withhold your compassion from me. Your constant love and truth will always guard me. For troubles without number have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me; I am unable to see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my courage leaves me. Lord, be pleased to rescue me; hurry to help me, Lord.

Psalm 40: 11-13

God does not withhold his compassion from us. He does not abandon us. He walks alongside us through every moment of every day. He cares for us and provides for us. He is a good Father. I believe that and trust in that, particularly when worry and fear begins to creep in. When it does, I remember that life is short and God is big. He is powerful, sovereign, and will never leave me. Rejoice in that today. Replace your worry with worship.

Unexpected Gifts

Unexpected Gifts

The best kinds of gifts are the ones we don’t expect. You know, like when a friend surprises you or you open that present and it was way better than anything you imagined. I love pleasant surprises, and when God surprises us with unexpected blessings, it reminds me of how ever-present He is in my life, how He is always thinking of me.

This past month God gave me many unexpected gifts and I am so excited to share them all with you.

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I spent almost the entire month of June in National Leadership Consultant (yes we got a new name) training with 15 of the best and the brightest from across the nation. Six of us were returning this year, and we were so excited to meet the ten new consultants joining us on the road this year.

Spending every minute of the day with a group of people for three weeks straight will make you pretty close to them fairly quickly. These new friendships are expected in a way, but I am always pleasantly surprised by how greatly these women impact me for the better. We begin to open up to one another and share about our experiences and how we ended up where we are today. It is such a gift to get to share life with these women all across the country. I am constantly challenged by their differing perspectives, and they push me to grow in ways I didn’t consider before. I am so proud of this class of consultants and how hard each and every one of us worked to be prepared for the fall. It is going to be a great year.

PSA to all the Chi Omegas out there: get ready for your NLC this year because whichever one she is, she is a ROCK STAR

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Along with all of us consultants, the six Regional Directors and our incredible boss, Rachel, also spent hours on hours with us each day at HQ learning and growing. These women are outstanding role models for us with unreal insight on what we do. They each possess different gifts and strengths that provide for us all the perspectives we need to excel in our roles. They are incredibly humble and never act like they are better than us. They make us feel at home away from home and support us fiercely. These women I work with and for are an unexpected gift in the ways they treat me and encourage me.

It has been such a joy seeing how my relationships with my co-workers has deepened throughout this year. I know they will have my back for anything. I know they will share wisdom with me and tell me like it is. I know I can count on any of them for anything and they’ll be there for me. Fierce friends like this rarely come around at all, let alone in the work place. What an unexpected treasure.

I also have to give my girl Katherine Mendieta a huge shout out in this post. You, my friend, are an incredible, unexpected gift. Katherine and I met for the first time four years ago when she came to TCU to take pictures of our chapter. I maybe said hi to her, but that’s all. Fast forward to now and we have spent the past year working together and building a friendship that led us to a trip to Nashville last weekend with all our gals. And we had the best time.

What is special about Katherine is that she has this remarkable ability to make others feel confident in themselves and proud of who they are. Whether it is through a conversation or through her photography, Katherine empowers others to be happy with who they are. I love her honesty and the ways she uses her gifts to make others feel important. She makes all of us feel beautiful and special no matter how we may actually be feeling on the inside. I hope everyone has a Katherine in their life, because she is truly a treasure.

And then sometimes God introduces other new relationships into your life that you really didn’t expect. People who impress you and care for you beyond what you could ask for. It fills up your heart knowing that sometimes new people come into your life for a season or for a lifetime, but for no matter what length of time, you know there is purpose in you knowing them. Simply because they make you better.

Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. 

~Marianne Williamson 

I see God equipping me for this new stage of life in so many ways, particularly through the people he has put in it. I am getting ready to move to South Carolina for a season and it is going to be a whole new adventure. I am excited, but, of course, a little nervous. I know I have nothing to fear for God is with me every step of the way. I have nothing to fear because I have an incredible support system of friends who love and care for me better than I could imagine. I have people who push me to be my best version of myself each day. Thank you, Chi Omega, for giving me these unexpected gifts.