The Untold Stories:

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At the end of this semester I wanted to ask people to write on a very open-ended prompt that is simply about writing out our thoughts or stories of the past few months. Sometimes I love specific questions to answer, but other times, I think there is great value in having space to freely write without constraints of answering a question based on how we think we are supposed to. With that, I wanted to continue to encourage others into writing— whether they think they are a writer or not.

When we are asked to think about moments that are important to us or on what we’ve learned, I believe we all have thoughts and stories to share— thoughts and stories that greatly matter and deserve to be heard. We don’t have to write out the most poetic or profound or brilliantly written piece in order for it to be good or worthy of being read. Instead, I believe that sometimes the most beautiful pieces of writing flow out of someone taking the courage to share their own voice and unique stories. And sometimes with that, our first drafts that are written out of our immediate overflow of passion ends up being the most special draft. The uniqueness in everyone is the very reason I am so passionate about people seeing that their voice matters and are valuable. Only you can share your own thoughts, stories, and experiences with the world. I can try to tell someone else’s story… but it will never be as powerful as that individual sharing their own.

Our words, our experiences, our thoughts… they matter. The moments in our life that impact us deserve to be written out… to be remembered. As one of my professor’s said this semester… “Literature is the memory of the people.” We need to continue to write out our stories. And with that, why not let our memory and our stories unfold together. Let’s see our common ground that is threaded throughout each unique written piece.

With all that being said, here is a collaboration of untold stories and thoughts being told and woven together to create one larger story. Here are different voices courageously sharing a part of themselves with us. And over and over again I am reminded of what an honor it is to be invited in to read someone’s words and thoughts.

Enjoy reading my friends… these thoughts and stories are something special.

(And be encouraged yourself to continue to write out your own words…. because your stories greatly matter too)


“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.

One should not tread lightly on Holy ground as we believe we should. We hear “holy” And deem ourselves unworthy. Mere spectators at best. Holiness becomes this glass vase on the highest shelf of your grandmothers house – at risk of breaking if we play and dance too hard.
But is this the nature of our God, Who is all Holy and seeks to dwell within us?
Clearly not.
And so, He begs, take off all that prevents you from full contact-full embrace- of this holiness. This is Holy ground. Take your shoes off. Dance on it.
I watched my carport transform the other Monday night. Left suddenly without a place to host club, my carport was available. Available to take a break from housing a few cars for the night. So we swept layers of pollen. Plugged in strung lights. Hung a projector screen. And readied a table for pizza. They trickled in. Beeline for the free pizza. An untraditional bread and wine communion I’m sure of this. His body broken. And so we gather.
Front porch steps to sit on. Grass to be received by. Yellowed concrete underfoot. Jesus’ name proclaimed. And then we danced on this Holy ground. And felt worthy to do so.

 

Lindsay Webb

My Grandma died today. It’s a beautiful day to go. I don’t know if she saw the sunlight filling her room as people went to work and to school, but I bet she felt it. And maybe death is cold, but I imagine it as a warmth that starts in your toes and makes its way through your bones until you’re gone, until you see Glory.

Her voice was rich and slow. She spoke like she wasn’t in a hurry. She told grand stories about grand times. I don’t remember any tales about the bad times though. Maybe it was because her voice was like honey and it made everything seem sweet. Or maybe it’s because she wasn’t much concerned with the bad.

 I saw her not long ago. I told her my plans. We laughed and we talked about TV shows. Her skin was soft and she used her hands to bring life to her thoughts. She took her coffee just the way she liked it and said my name the way she always has, with affection and pride. We agreed God’s ways are good, and I hugged her neck.

 I just sat on a patio and watched a bunch of people breathe and laugh and eat. And I felt the stark contrast of it all in my chest; of fragility and security, of living and dying. Tears burned in my eyes for beauty and for pain. I don’t get a say in when Grandma dies. I don’t get another visit by her old favorite recliner as Good Morning America plays quietly in the background. But I got 22 years of love. And I’ve got a wonderful Father raised by her wisdom and strength. And I’ve got the rest of this Friday. And I’ve got the blue sky over my head. And I’ve got the God we both think is good.

 I’ve got her name, too.

 Joy.

Becky Matthews


 

Sophomore year has felt a lot like having a few solid punches thrown at me; losing, but never gracefully. I spent most of my time on the ground first semester. It always seemed to be one thing after another, and I never felt like I fully got back on my feet. I prayed every night that things would change, but my life and faith had never felt more stagnant than in those few months.

This semester was the one of getting back up again. Of choosing to believe that in God is joy. Deep down at the core of my being, some part of me believed that God was holding out on me, and that’s why my semester looked the way it did. Thinking that now always brings me back to a quote from one of my favorite books- “If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?” It’s a truth I didn’t want to have faith in. I found more comfort in closing my fists and gritting through the pain.

I robbed myself of a lot of joy for so many months. But something was ignited inside me at the start of this year that was determined to be grateful, to fight for joy that’s not circumstantial. Looking back on this semester, the situations that crippled me in the fall are still there. They honestly didn’t really go away. But I think I’ve learned these past few months (more like am just now realizing as I write this), that healing is found in hope. It is found in recognizing everything, every single little thing, as a gift. Healing, hope, joy, gifts; all things I chose to overlook for an entire semester. When i focused on thanksgiving, though, i truly began to see the familiar as holy.

I wished for a long time that I could erase august-december straight out of my memory. They were months that felt so wasted, so fruitless. Walking through valleys sucks, and its never easy. But im slowly learning and reminding myself that it isn’t time wasted. Remembering the hard months are what will get me to the good ones and will make the good ones feel that much sweeter. Or at least thats what i’ll keep telling myself.

 

Jen Kunin


 

“You need to learn how to play minecraft.”

“Why do you have to ruin everything?”

“I tell my teachers that I do my homework, but do I really do it? No”

“Let’s pretend you are someone who is looking for a job at McDonalds, and I’m the person that interviews you”

“Dang, that’s LIT”

“UGHHH do I really have to work with him”

“I’m not trying to be mean, but….”

“I’m going to call you ‘Ms. What’s Your Face’ for the rest of the year.”

“Girl, I need to take you shopping because you desperately need a wardrobe change.”

“Yeah, I’ll speak at your funeral, and I will say ‘Ok, she’s dead. Let’s go home now.”

“Wait, y’all get in this picture. It’s for my streaks.”

 

This semester has been full of new phrases and conversations.

But, you know what? It’s actually nothing new at all. Rather, it’s like I time traveled back ten years ago to when I was eleven years old: a middle schooler.

Middle schoolers are funny and kind and mean and honest and crazy and loving. This semester has been a semester of middle schoolers, and it has been the absolute best.

It has been the best because of the time Chloe walked up to me, put her hand in her pocket, and then proceeded to take out her pet dragon that she carries around with her at all times.

It has been the best because of the time Cameron lightly hit his elbow on the desk, urgently rushed to the nurse, and returned with an ice pack.

It has been the best because of the time Kate and Georgia started their own jewelry business and began making and selling necklaces. So, I took them to Michaels to buy supplies, and BOTH times, they loaded up the basket with beads and charms, expecting to have enough money to buy it all. Yet, the total cost came out to be above 90 dollars, so we had to sit at the cash register and remove enough items until the cost was down to 40 dollars. Oh, did I mention this happened twice?

It has been the best because of the time I went shopping with Larkin, spent two hours walking around Target, and left with three squishes, a can of slime, and some candy.

It has been the best because of the time I sat in a movie theatre with 200 sixth graders, and listened to them dramatically react to every moment of the movie. Skittles were flying, teachers were shushing, and kids were cheering. Truly, an incredible day.

It has been the best because of the time I was lying on a sleeping bag in the middle of the floor in my room, surrounded by seven seventh grade girls laughing and talking. The night had been full of “girl talk”, movies, candy, Waffle House, Twister, Mario Kart, and cards.

The list of small, yet life-giving moments goes on and on.

I sit here, at the end of this semester, overwhelmed with gratitude.

Overwhelmed that I got to be a part of what the Lord is doing at Oconee County Middle School, Hilsman, and Youth Middle. And man, have I learned a lot about our Creator through getting to be friends with middle schoolers. Here’s to the rest of my life- full of moments like these.

And to think people ask me why I want to tech middle schoolers…..

Morgan Maier


 

This semester has been hard. Full of 6:47am wake up calls. Full of despair in watching the world. Full of the realization that growing up is real and is going to hit soon. Full of worrying how your mom is every day. Full of realizing that you are very different than your community. Full of watching friends get their world torn apart. Full of feeling that in your classes your GPA is more important than your name. Full of heartbreak.

But.

This semester has been life giving. Full of green leaves on trees. Full of sunrises becoming more important than sunsets. Full of plants with long roots. Full of teeny tiny clouds. Full of lavender. Full of flowers growing in egg cartons. Full of sitting on your front porch until it’s dark. Full of getting six flower bouquets on your birthday. Full of finally feeling rooted. Full of growth.

And.

This semester has been breathtaking. Full of friends who are willing to sit and answer your thousands of questions. Full of professors that tell you they believe in you. Full of being incredibly proud of your sister. Full of good luck texts before a test. Full of having a grateful wall that is almost too big. Full of being welcomed into others vulnerability. Full of beating the average on your tests. Full of encouragement.

And.

This semester has been heartwarming. Full of the heyo guy. Full of the sweet cleaning lady at the Catholic Center. Full of a timid professor who has taught you more than you could have imagined. Full of roommates you can’t imagine living without. Full of realizing how much you love your community. Full of new role models who have changed your life. Full of surprise parties in Rome, GA. Full of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of love you received. Full of new friends.

And.

This semester has been eye-opening. Full of friends who challenge you. Full of realizing that it’s okay to not be okay. Full of seeing strength in friends even when they don’t. Full of waiting for a month to drink dishwater beer. Full of listening. Full of realizing how incredible the people in your life are. Full of resilience.

Lindsay Magill 


My name is Jazmine Carter and i’m here to tell you about the best day of my life. The best day of my life started at five years old when I found out i had a voice. I was in church one day and my grandmother wanted me to sing a song for easter. I did really know the words to the song but she know it was my favorite “ This Little Light Of My’s”. She told everyone in the church i had something to say knowing I was only five what does a five year old have to say? She push me to the frount of the church and told me the words in my ear. I was scared everyone was looking at me. Soon after i was done she picked me up everyone was smiling call me the cutest little girl they have ever seen and i was smiling hard. When I got home I was singing all over the place I was really making my light shine . The next week my grandparnets put me in the choir and made me and my sister sing together. We been singing together ever since non-stop. We went to show we start singing. After a while they started calling us the Little Angels. Even though me and my sister started off singing gospel I wanted to spicy it up and so did she. So at chuch we were the Little Angels but at hame we were JayCee And Kaytee. We Called ourselfs the best Singer and Rapper alive. Now every one knows im a singer around my town but I wanna be known for my rapping too. I’m not going to call myself the best but i will get there one day and I will be the best female rapper you have ever heard. I have never been scared to sing rap of do anything in front of people. Sometime i might get a little nervous but no im not scared. Because I know I am a strong independent smart multi-talented black women. Just my grandmother use to tell me you have to speak something into existence if you want it to come ture. So I say these words every morning I Am Somebody I Will Be Somebody And This SomeBody Will Be Great. This is the day my life changed and i know who i was what i wanted to be and this became the best day of my life.
Jazmine Carter

 

The Transformative Power of the Lord: Growing Pains 

About a year ago I got a tattoo whose meaning was reflective of how I have been transformed by Christ. I opened myself up to him a few years prior and had let him use my body and my life as a living sacrifice to his work. I was excited and confident about the chapter that lay ahead of me and was positive that he had so perfectly planted me at the exact occupation I was supposed to be in to continue giving myself and my life to him for his work.

Six months later I had applied to about 75 jobs hoping desperately to move away from this position and this life as soon as possible.

Another six months and it is summer again. I have just recently committed to staying at this job another year and am taking steps to fully enter adult life and out of this weird in-between post-grad still in Athens life I have been living. I again feel confident that the Lord is using me here.

Call it seasonal depression if you want, but somehow I always manage to fall out of relationship with the Lord in the winter. I think it stems from how I used to go to camp for the whole summer and be in a community that was as reflective as heaven as life on earth can get, but the rest of the year was just regular life. I feel so unbelievably privileged to have experienced camp and communal fellowship with the Lord in the capacity that I have but I think knowing how good it can be makes regular adult life feel unbearable at times.

There was a crazy high I felt first starting out full time. It is incredible to work hard for years to finally make it to real life and realize that you actually are as capable as you thought. It is amazing to start and finish real life projects that are not hypotheticals on a test. But time goes on and you don’t get final exams or winter break, instead the projects just continue to get piled on and continue to get more complicated and the stakes get higher and winter sets in, and that high turns into dread and projects that were exciting before now drudge on.

I’ve realized that this is not a unique behavior that I have: taking something that is great and making it something I want to avoid. In fact the people I am supposed to be assisting through work are actually at times resistant to the opportunity given to them. Why is it that we continue toxic behavior or surround ourselves with toxic people or remain in toxic environments just because its more comfortable than bucking up and changing? Why do we reject transitions so much? Do we love being miserable? Is that all we know how to do? We take an opportunity that is exciting and fulfilling and turn it into an anxiety trigger to avoid. I took this position that is perfectly compatible with my interests and skills and made it something I loathed to the point of wanting to sprint away from it. At work we give neighbors the opportunity of a lifetime to really finally and actually break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families and some can’t seem to make it work.

What makes the difference between someone who is wildly successful in our programs vs someone who should excel and ends up just letting the opportunity pass them by? What makes the difference between someone who has the endurance to overcome trials in their life without breaking fellowship with the Lord and those who return to old habitual sins? How do we overcome the growing pains of transformation? What is it about those who can vs. those who cannot?

When we feel like we don’t have any power we try to control anything we can, even if that means sabotaging it. At least it was our choice. Is it really rejection if we were mean and annoying on purpose? Is it really failure if we decided to quit? It is ironic that we let go of control of our life in order to gain security through the Lord. It is ironic that in order to be set free we submit ourselves to His guidance. It is ironic that as much as we love to stay comfortable in our chaos we avoid the only obstacles that will push us to actually change. We love pain, just not growing pains.

Nonprofit work has shown me more than ever that you can give people every resource, every chance, every hand up to make a change in their lives, but until something is changed within, nothing will have roots deep enough to make a real difference. That seed in all of us is planted and planted and planted but it is not until the soil is rich and the sunlight and rain are abundant that we will grow deep roots. But we can take comfort that the Lord is always the same, always consistent and will always continue to plant the seed. That will never change, and after all we hate change don’t we?

So here I am. A year into full-time life. Over the hump of wanting to just run away and be a bartender at some beach. A natural progression of this life transition, I think. I am still getting hit with growing pains at full force, but for some reason I am ready to face them. There was no singular moment of change, not flipped switch, just passed time. God is in the full-time work of changing lives and neighborhoods and my job allows me to be a physical representation of that. Growing pains are going to be my whole life here and that doesn’t look like its going to change any time soon.

Good.


 

This year has been a battle. A challenge. I’ve fought harder than I ever thought possible against an enemy I never expected. me.

This year has been a battle of the mind. Of the will. On one side, everything I’ve ever known. It’s comfortable over here in my cage. My heart is on lockdown and I buried the key so long agoI almost have forgotten where I put it. A song put it best –  “Don’t you worry— in there you’re safe. And it’s true, you’ll never beat, but you’ll never break.” I was comfortable there. Lonely, but strong.

And that was one side of the battle. But across no man’s land. Across the barbed wire behind the fences, I saw something. Green. Trees. Life. A vastly glistening in the sunlight. A prince standing in the shade. Life. I saw life. And I decided then to fight for that life. Toward the frontier.

I left my cage of safety and bared my heart to the world and all it’s wonders. Sure, I got hurt along the way, and sure, sometimes I still wonder if it would have been easier to keep my heart all locked up. Safe from adventure and danger. And I don’t know yet if it’s worth it.

But that dream, beyond no man’s land, beyond the horizon… it’s something different. And I have to believe it’s worth fighting for. After all, what’s life without a little risk?

Maggie Carr 


 

The wight of my words isn’t enough to tell the weight of what I have come to know as true the last few months

I have learned of glory

And purpose 

And worship

And freedom

And it is so real to me. 

In the transition I only want it to stay real

But it seems the familiarity of the community

And the comfort

And routine

Is slipping away. 

But I am still changed. 

“Do this in remembrance of me” 

I remember and I do. 

I am and I try 

To build a memorial of all He has shown me

And I fall short so often of the perfect ways that I wish my own personal memorial could stand and be

But I have also learned of grace

And the magic in our bones that is real

This is my memorial

I am a memorial

Make me a memorial 

So that all may know the glory.

Mary Hathaway Lipscomb 


 

freshmen year.

the highest of highs.

the lowest of lows.

living in the tension between

joy and sadness.

loneliness and togetherness.

abundance and scarcity.

work and play.

dancing and mourning.

frustration and success.

strength and weakness.

chaos and peace.

truly living in the tension between heaven and earth.

and yet, grace upon grace.

Caroline Gemes 


 

It’s the small moments when you realize how much people mean to you. For me, it’s usually around a table or over a cup of coffee. Those moments make all the difference. They remind you of what’s important and real.

Sunday night dinner splitting meals we could’t afford, acting like adults when everything about our smiles says we’re not. 5 girls catching up about a weekend a part, not ever wanting to leave that little restaurant to head back to reality/ Thankful to be back at home base before going our own ways again.

Early mornings on the way to school. Jittery because of our coffee and the excitement to start this new adventure. Long talks about the future and the past and the random in betweens and not knowing how important those moments really were until they came to an end.

A big spaghetti dinner at the end of a long day spent with everyone, hungry but not tired of each other yet. Realizing these moments were slowly coming to a close as we prepared to welcome the new batch, before letting our seniors go. We held tight to the moments together after that, knowing how sweet they really were.

Lunch on the porch. Birthday celebrations over cheese dip. Late night drives for ice cream and time to breathe. They’re the moments that really matter. The ones that feel like in betweens but really are what it’s all about.

Caroline Sandercock 


 

A moment I don’t ever want to forget was at my lake house with my entire younglife team. A moment seemed to click with me that I finally felt at home on my younglife team for the first time all year. There wasn’t a defining moment that sticks out of when my heart changed, it was a very natural and gradual process. I just remember sitting around the kitchen table eating a meal that had been prepared by the guys. We all were going around toasting our teammates, celebrating one another really well. I found myself crying which happens a lot to me. It wasn’t a sad cry though, it was more tears of thankfulness. Thankful that my heart had finally softened towards this team, this school and these friends. I was teary-eyed throughout a lot of that night as I listened to all the praises of my friends. I don’t deserve to lead alongside such stellar people that lead with such strength in all sizes. Celebrating these people has now become second nature. This semester has continued to prove me wrong when I think change is bad. Change is a beautiful thing because without it, no growth would happen.


 

An experience I want to remember is being insanely cared for in a moment of extreme brokenness by one of my roommates. I don’t want to remember it for the sadness but instead for the love I was experiencing from her in a moment where I didn’t want to feel any love. I crumbled in her arms and sobbed. I fully believe she would’ve let me stand in her arms the entire night. She allowed me to just be. As small as I felt in that moment, God was so present in the way she held me tight. I think its important to be aware of those who are with us in times when we feel broken. There is something beautiful about letting someone into your heartbreak and brokenness.


 

caveseo

I’m not a writer nor do I consider myself a writer. I often get really discouraged when I begin to write because I don’t exactly know how to put words onto paper. To me, I’ve always thought that speaking to others is the best way for me to express myself. I enjoy one-on-one conversations a ton; it’s also the best way for me to get to know someone. This semester I’ve learned a new way for me to fully express myself which is describing a picture that I’ve taken. In my Intro to Photo class I learned that some of my favorite days were when we had to critique our own projects and talk about our work. I really enjoyed the times when I got to share where the inspiration came from about a particular piece and what I enjoyed about it. So that’s what I’m going to do. I want to describe this picture of my friend Caveseo. Even though this picture was taken last semester, it reminds me of the times that we got to spend in a car ride together when I used to pick him up to and from club. Caveseo is by far one of the most interesting kids that I’ve met at Cedar. His friendship started last semester, but it really wasn’t until this semester that I got to really see who he truly is and hear his incredible story. You see, last year I remember thinking about all the kids at Cedar that I haven’t met yet. I thought about all the kids who are really lost and disinterested and I wanted so badly to meet those kids. At that point I had met some awesome kids, but many of them weren’t the “bad” kids at Cedar. My desire to meet those “bad” came true when I’m at Caveseo. This particular day when I took this picture Caveseo asked for a ride to his interview at Chuck E. Cheese’s. During the car ride to Chuck E. Cheese’s Caveseo told me about how I needed to dress better and that he would be able to help me because he himself was a very stylish dresser. He also wondered why I was always carrying a camera around and asked me if I could take a picture of him too… which I delightfully said yes. At first, he gave a very serious pose, a mean mugging look to the camera. I explained to him that my favorite pictures are the ones not posed because it shows who he truly is. He thought I was just so silly that I talked about photography in a poetic way and just started laughing. Luckily, I captured that laugh. He thanked me and later he called me very excited telling me that he got the job. This semester I’ve gotten to have a lot of car rides with Caveseo taking him home. His move to a different part of town made our car rides a little bit longer than usual which I enjoy because that meant I got to ask him a lot more questions. Some of the questions that I asked him were about his family, what he thought of himself, and about school. To me, one of the biggest honors you can have as being a young life leader is when a kid invites you into his personal life and shares about a piece of their brokenness. Though I won’t share details of his life, I do want to share a moment when Caveseo told me about the fact that he realizes that many people around him don’t see him as a good influence. The thing that I love about young life is that we get to invite kids who are broken and who struggle with all sorts of things. We don’t tell them to change anything about themselves and we invite them as they are. I can’t tell you how many times Caveseo has been a distraction to club even during talks. Many of these times he drove me so crazy. But despite that, I still love him no matter what because I recognize his brokenness and I recognize that him like many other kids at Cedar need the Gospel. Even though I, and many other, recognized that many people don’t see Caveseo as the best influence, I didn’t realize that he himself realize that. Having heard him say it himself, well that just broke my heart. There are many times this semester I have asked him about the obstacles in his life, especially regarding his broken home. Truth is, a lot of that stuff doesn’t really bother him. What does bother him his other people’s perceptions of him. Caveseo has been one of the best kids I’ve gotten to know. He’s super polite when he meets you and is very respectful. I’ve noticed how much he thrives when it comes to communicating with people and how much enjoys sharing a good laugh. I’ve never met a kid who laughs so much as much as Caveseo. I’m very thankful for him and his friendship. Even though he rarely is paying attention during club, he shows up. At first, I didn’t quite get that, but I’m thankful that he does. His friendship has taught me so much about what many kids at Cedar, and kids his age, go through. I’m truly honored to have gotten to know Caveseo this year, and I can’t wait to keep chasing after him and his silliness.

Manny Roblero 


 

Seasons. Fall, Summer, Winter and Spring. Each representing a beautiful piece of transformation in Christ’s creation. He is also creating seasons in me, each representing a story of His character and love. Life is defined by these seasons. Seasons of exponential growth, seasons of searching and waiting, seasons of hurt, seasons of joy, and seasons of rest. So many seasons. And while some seasons may be short, or seemingly unimportant, they are continually shaping daily life.  I think I am still trying to understand seasons. How the Lord chooses to work and move and shape who you are through each and every circumstance in each and every season. Seasons last long enough for you to notice them. For you to take them in, to dwell in them, to seek Him in the midst. I have been in a season of waiting. Waiting on Him, waiting on each step forward, and I will not pretend that my anxious heart hasn’t been trying to skip ahead since I realized I was in this season. To take it into my own hands, to flip the season from waiting to “GREATEST SEASON EVER”. But the more I wait, I understand the sweetness of waiting. Waiting for His perfect timing and His perfect plan.  Because He is not done moving and working, embrace the season.

Kimberly Pritchett


 

When I think about this semester, thousands of images pop into my head- silly things, like Dorothy dancing to Rake It Up in the axo informal, photo shoots with stuffed animals, and tears over football games; every day things, like booling with Maddie, driving to Clarke, and having PT with my friends; and real things, like countless late night drives, and hard conversations. This semester was a blur. A blur filled with really high highs and really low lows- sometimes at the same time. Which doesn’t really make sense, but I can vouch happened a good number of times. But I think that when looking back on this semester, amongst it all, the last night is one that I never want to forget.

Thursday, May 3rd. I came home to my small, shoe box of a room in axo, after playing around with my good friend Anna. I walked into my room, and walked into a half empty, unrecognizable place. My dear roommate Meghan was completely moved out and sitting on her empty bed, working on something on her computer. That’s when it really hit me that this year was ACTUALLY ending. I honestly got super upset and kind of pissed about it all and just sat on my bed, quiet and sad for a while- until MY GIRL Meghan Stanford noticed. She basically dragged me out of my bed and out of my sadness, and put me in her car. She kept saying, “You can’t be in a bad mood on the last night!” “This isn’t how you want sophomore year to end!” “I’m going to put you in a good mood”- and I mean she definitely did. This semester, Meghan has been a game changer. Her consistency and willingness to see and know me has left me feeling so loved after living with her for a year. She knew me so well, and knew exactly what I needed in that moment and how to make it better. She took me to get coffee (strong start), and then drove me to Hog Mountain Road. When we pulled in, Courtney and Dorothy were already there, all set up to watch the sunset. For the next two hours, we watched Meghan get extremely close to the baby cows in the pasture across the street, talked about how we were feeling about summer approaching, and danced around in the middle of the road to all the iconic songs from this year. I remember sitting there thinking- man am I glad I didn’t stay in my room. Because I totally could have. Meghan didn’t have to invite me to go watch the sunset with her, court, and Dorothy. I mean it would have probably been way easier to leave my grumpy self behind, and just forget about it. But because she chose to see me where I was at and love me through it, my day (and year) was SIGNIFICANTLY better. Ok that’s just me bragging on my girl, but back to the point.

This is the kind of easy, free joy is what I think is so important to remember. So often are we caught up in the huge. So often we get caught up in the purpose, in the big picture, in the future. But I think so much life comes out of the simple joys like that. The simple joy of being loved well by a friend. The simple joy of being goofy. The simple joy of dancing. These are the kind of things I never want to lose sight of- because in them is life, freedom, and excitement. Life doesn’t have to be so serious. Everything we do doesn’t have to have the weight of the world on our shoulders. God made us for life and life abundantly. For community, laughs, play, goofiness, and above all else love. I think nights and joys like these are what we’re made for- what God wants so badly for us.

Hailey Lombardi 


 

My freshman year had a rough start. I was experiencing all the awkward adjustments that no one really talks about but nearly everyone endures. The process of joining my sorority was a rocky one, one that tested my confidence—in myself and in the Lord. But through this process, I experienced so much love. I learned the love of my best friend and my roommate when they never failed to encourage me. I learned the love of friends and family who supported me, encouraged me, and vouched for me in the most difficult times. And I learned the love of God. I was reminded of God’s steadfast nature and I learned to be comfortable in the waiting. I learned that God’s love is so powerful and so true—that He had so much in store for me that I just had to wait for, with comfort and ease. I grew so much in this and I began to except all the awkward adjustments that no one talks about. Began to embrace the love of God and be comfortable in the waiting. I learned to love everyone around me and encourage them during their highs and lows— and to not only focus on my current state of life but encourage and be encouraged by others.

Freshman year continued to be a season of love, as it progressed into my favorite year. I learned firsthand that love is such a strong character trait of God and of the human race. Being in such close quarters with so many people at all times, taught me to recognize love in every moment and in so many people—

The community of girls on my hallway in sweet sweet cres. My roommate. My friends. Celebrating Valentines Day with a bunch of friends— the opportunity to just…love. Birthdays in college. People older than me who I look up to, who lead me through my freshman year. The strangers who smiled at me in passing. The younglife community. BOLTON (possibly the most important of all). Ms. Gloria. Ms. Sandra. My younglife team. Cedar Shoals. UGA. Athens.

This year, my best year, was a season of love. I left freshman year with Athens in my rear view extremely sad that it is all behind me but so encouraged by everything that I have learned—Encouraged to keep searching for love every day and to keep loving, always.

1 Corinthians 13.13

Hannah Lessley 


 

I began this semester in a place of crippling discouragement. I had been rejected from a number of opportunities I wanted for myself. Doors just kept shutting. The days were long and the feeling of inadequacy was bleeding into all the pieces of my life.  I felt like a spectator to the seemingly trouble-less lives everyone around me was getting to live.

I don’t know when my mindset switched or when I snapped out of it. The seasons seem to always end a little fuzzy, but a rainy Monday night five weeks later, I’m in a neighborhood clubhouse surrounded by middle schoolers. Singing loud and laughing louder. Hearing the Good News and feeling every ounce of the freedom that comes with it. Feeling like I’m hands-reach from the floors of Heaven. Pinching myself because this can’t be real. Thinking there’s no way I’m truly this lucky.

 

It’s been a semester of accepting my brokenness and recognizing that not every day, week or even month will be top notch. And that’s okay. Because when I look back at the last five months, I see growth and I see change. Change of heart, change of mind, change of pace. All really, really sweet things. I see the way each season has seemed to compliment the next. What a testament of the Lord’s faithfulness.


 

 

I don’t have a story to insert here myself. Instead, these pieces further express all that I have been learning this semester. People are resilient. We all, in our own unique ways, are writers. Every single one of us have something to share with one another. It’s in the sharing that we learn how to press on and to make it through all that life entails. It’s where we are reminded we are not alone. It’s how we feel heard and seen. It’s where we claim freedom over the fear and the insecurities.

We were created for community. We were created to learn from one another and to grow with one another. We were created with voices that are meant to be used and expressed and shared with one another. And it’s a really beautiful thing when we get to see a few of our stories unfold together.

I love that this is only the smallest glimpse of life that has been lived in the past year. I love that there are so many other stories untold that are waiting to be shared. Share them my friends. Take the courage. Be a writer for yourself.

 

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