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.

 

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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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.

Texas State & UT

Texas State & UT

This post is about light in the darkness. Yes, it is about my visits to Texas State and the University of Texas, but on those visits I saw light, perseverance, and hope shining through dark spaces like never before.

Texas State

I absolutely loved visiting the women at Texas State. They were all so respectful, engaging, and hard-working. I had great conversations with them discussing new ideas for their chapter and how they can always be improving. We shared stories and experiences and talked about how we can love our members here best.

Then something happened on my second day of my visit…it flooded. Like hard core flooded. Like people were wake boarding in the street flooded. Like we had to rip out the floors of the chapter house flooded.

Now, this flooding could have thrown a huge dip in my visit plans. It could have left the members feeling discouraged and down. But it didn’t. They refused to be discouraged in the midst of hardship and inconvenience! They chose to find joy in a hard situation and adapted to make the meetings work.

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As a Chi Omega family, we walk together through whatever is going on-good or bad, floods or dry seasons. That week I got to walk through a tough situation with these women as we met to discuss how we can make their chapter stronger. Alpha Zeta, I am encouraged by your positive attitudes, love for Chi Omega, and desire to always be growing. Thank you for an incredible week that flooded me with happiness!

University of Texas

So my visit to UT was scheduled for the week of April 17. But, at the beginning of April, I found out there was a trip to Coastal Carolina that I needed to go on that week for marketing. So, I called up the UT president, Meg, and asked if she wouldn’t mind moving my visit to the following week. I felt awful that I had to ask her to move the trip, but man did God know what He was doing.

Because if I had gone on my visit to UT the week of April 17, I would have been there the night we lost a beloved member of our Chi Omega family at the University of Texas, Nancy-Jane David.

And, instead, I was able to go the following week with the sole purpose of comforting and supporting our girls through this terrible tragedy.

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See, sometimes we don’t know the purpose behind our sufferings. We don’t know why tragic things happen in our lives. Then, other times, a glimpse of purpose shines through the darkness and we can comfort others through what we have endured ourselves. Last week, at the University of Texas, I was able to see a bit of that purpose.

A little over a year ago, we lost a remarkable member of my chapter at TCU to cancer. Taylor Helland was the brightest light I’ve ever known. Her faith, positivity, hope, and gratitude was unwavering through all of her trials. Taylor left a mark on my life forever. She inspires me to Choose Joy every day even though she is no longer with me.

And a year later, I am chosen to visit UT where they have just lost a member of their chapter. I am given a space and a group of women I can share my story with. I can walk with them through their grief having been through it myself. Because of my loss last year, I could love these women better through their loss last week. God’s hand is so evident in the timing of all of this, and I’m learning that suffering and loss have different purposes for our lives at different times.

See last year, losing Taylor led me to accept this job as a National Consultant at the thought of being able to share her story with women across the country. And last week, I was able to do just that to comfort and support women going through a loss themselves.

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Let me just say how PROUD and ENCOURAGED I am by these women. Their unconditional love and support of one another during this difficult time is inspiring. They have come together and are walking through this grief as a family. They are providing counseling and support for their members. They are thinking of ways they can carry on NJ’s legacy. They refuse to be without hope. They are vulnerable with one another. They are not pretending to be okay when they’re not. They are an inspiration to me and a deep encouragement that there is hope in the darkness. There is light. NJ was a tremendous light to Iota, and her light is being carried on.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5

Darkness will not have the final say. These women are ALL embodiments of light, love, and hope. They are pushing one another toward it each day, and they push me to believe in it too. And I get to call these outstanding women my sisters. How blessed could I be.

I think the words that another friend from Iota bravely shared through her own blog sums up greatly all I could say:

But in the midst of it all, there is light. It can pierce the all-encompassing darkness and break it of the power it has. This light is unlike any other light. It provides hope for the hopeless and peace for the broken-hearted. What is this marvelous light? It is the hope that comes from the cross, the hope that we have to cling to in the midst of all this grief. It is knowing that we have a Father, who dearly loves all his people so much so that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place.

Brooke Barfield

https://ourfriendnj.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/in-loving-memory-of-sweet-nancy-jane/

Thank you, Iota, for showing me what it looks like to lean into love in the midst of tragedy. Thank you for letting me share a piece of me with you. Thank you for letting me into your hurt and pain. Thank you for reminding me of the unwavering hope I have in Christ in the midst of an ever-changing world. I love each and every one of you and am unspeakably proud of your lights that are shining through the darkness.

Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina

Last week, I had the joy of getting to visit Coastal Carolina University where we will be starting our 181st Chi Omega chapter this fall. And y’all, I could NOT be more excited or encouraged by this trip.

The students and staff at Coastal were outstanding. They were all so welcoming and excited for us to be there! They were willing to help with anything we needed, whether that was a lunch recommendation or setting up our table for the day. They came and danced with us as we were marketing and listened and cared about who we are and what we are doing. They cared about our team and wanted to get to know us. And, on our first night there, they surprised us with a sisterhood event for US and our new members!! I was blown away by their care for us already. This community is a special one, I can feel it.

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And, this is all super important to me because I will be moving to Myrtle Beach this August to help start this new chapter at Coastal Carolina University!

That’s right: I’m moving to Myrtle Beach!!!IMG_0120

I still can’t believe I get this incredible opportunity to love and guide and teach over 100 women all about Chi Omega. I cannot wait to be there with this incredible community that is already established and to help Chi Omega integrate into it. I am overjoyed and humbled that I would be given this opportunity. Thank you, Chi Omega, thank you big time, Jesus.

See, you never know what each season will hold. This season God loosened my grip on many parts of my life, leaving me open-handed and willing to say yes to opportunities that came my way. God reshaped my heart to be ready to accept this opportunity. I know I have nothing to fear in this change, for He will be with me each step of the journey. He will equip me to lead these women, and I cannot wait to see the impact Chi Omega can have at Coastal Carolina.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. ~Hellen Keller

Chants UP to this new adventure ahead of me.

College of Charleston & USC

College of Charleston & USC

Hello friends! I am writing this blog from my friend’s apartment in Columbia, South Carolina, where I have been spending quite a bit of time recently. The past two weeks I’ve visited the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina for work, but made sure to make some time for my friends who live here too. An unexpected two-day flight delay has kept me here even longer, and I have learned so much, yet again, from this trip.

College of Charleston

I spent last week in Charleston, SC, which easily became one of my new favorite places in the US. Charleston is a historic city where old, colorful homes line the cobblestone streets. Horse-drawn carriages battle cars for the roads and unique restaurants fill the town with their delicious aromas.

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Many students attend the College of Charleston for the city of Charleston, or so my new friends told me. I would’t blame them! It was an incredible city. And along with this great city came a great Chi Omega chapter. These women were from all over the country, mostly the Northeast, looking for a more favorable climate for college. With their variety in background came a variety in personality. One leader was fashionable, bold, and gentle in nature. Another was the savviest Google Doc user I’d ever met with the ability to sing bird calls. Another was an outgoing, bubbly leader who doesn’t shy away from serving others in any way she can. I could go on and on about the beautiful differences in these leaders and how it made them shine. The one word I would use to describe all of the women in this chapter though is PASSIONATE.

These girls have passion and empower one another to use their passions to serve others. It was the most beautiful thing to witness. The president was passionate about helping out another group with a backpack drive, and instead of providing just one or two bags, the girls contributed over 20 bags to help them out. Another group of gals were passionate about sustainability, so they put on a tag sale that raised over $2,000 for Make-A-Wish. I could go on and on about all these women are passionate about, but what stood out to me the most was how they were all doing something to pursue those passions.

I am so thankful that Chi Omega provides an outlet for encouragement. That it is a place where women feel strong and strengthened to pursue their passions. My hope is that each chapter is filled with women who have big dreams and that Chi Omega gives them relationships that push them to make those dreams reality. Zeta Gamma, you left me encouraged to pursue my passions and not be afraid to dream big and unashamedly be myself.

University of South Carolina

My time in Columbia, SC was unlike anything I could have expected. I came down to Columbia before my visit to spend a few days with one of my best friends from TCU, Kat. Kat and I had the best weekend spending time with her amazing roomies, watching the National Championships (Go Cocks), taking long walks, and sharing great life chats. One of my best friends from work, Div, also got to drive up from Statesboro, GA and join us for Saturday’s festivities! I LOVE it when worlds collide, and I was beyond thankful that Div and Kat got to become friends. It was a sunshine-filled, joyous weekend that I am so grateful for.

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My visit to the USC Eta Gamma Chapter though started out stormy. The weather has been crazy and unpredictable this week. I spent two days of my visit essentially in my hotel room due to the strong storms, potential tornados, and flash floods. Having my meetings over phone calls was definitely a little different.

Working with these members, when I got to finally meet with them in-person, was a tremendous pleasure. They were all ready to work hard and be open and honest. I was sent here when I was for a reason, I fully believe that. We had so many great, open-hearted conversations about what’s really going on and how they’re feeling about being leaders in a chapter of nearly 400 women. That’s not easy! It takes much bravery and courage to lead so many people and make decisions that may not go as planned.

I am grateful I was there to comfort and encourage. Sometimes we just need someone to come in and listen to us. And that’s a lot of what I do and see my purpose in this role–just being a good listener and letting our women know they are heard. I am so proud of this team’s perseverance and patience in the midst of a hectic week, and I came away recognizing again the importance of listening well and speaking with integrity and thought.

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He knows what we need

Like I said earlier, this week has looked different for me with the crazy storms hitting the Southeast part of the country. Two of my days were spent in my hotel, resting and working from my room. Yes, this was an inconvenience in some ways, but why would I stop to view it as an inconvenience when I could see it as a gift?

Yesterday, I found out my flight back to Texas was cancelled. After talking to our Chi Omega travel agent, we discovered that the next available flight is Sunday morning, extending my trip to South Carolina by another two days. At first, of course, I was caught off guard and frustrated, but more quickly than ever before though, I found peace. Peace knowing that God is in control and is purposing this delay for a reason. In the same way he gave me the rain this week for more time to rest and work, he is giving me more days in South Carolina for a reason.

Earlier this week, I listened to my sermon from church I missed being out of town. It was about suffering and faith and it prepared me for this current trial:

Suffering is a gift. Your tears are a gift to you. That season of loneliness is a gift to you from God. ~Jim Essian

Six months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to so quickly believe that God was good when things went wrong. I would be frustrated and mad and upset about these inconveniences. I fully believe that because of the ways I have suffered this year, specifically the seasons of loneliness I have found myself in, God has drawn me closer to Him than ever before and I more quickly believe that He is good and He is in control. I can see the seasons of hardship as gifts. I can view my changes of plans with excitement, knowing that God has it happening with purpose. He has me where I am, when I am with reason, and I am so grateful for what my time in South Carolina has taught me.

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