The End of the Sunshine and Rainbows

College is not easy. I have only been here for 11 days and I have already learned that. With all this freedom comes a lot of responsibility. Yes, it is everything I dreamed it would be and more, but the most important thing I learned, from what seems like day one, is that college is not all sunshine and rainbows. Literally, in Cleveland it rains a lot. But I am not here to complain in the slightest. The problems I am facing are all learning experiences and in that, I can find joy.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

-James 1:2-5

I am extraordinarily blessed to be at Lee. When I walk through my beautiful campus to a beautiful communications building where I receive my higher education from an excellent staff I am blessed in countless ways. The thing about those mornings is that I am still tired and being at Lee doesn’t change that. At Lee I have an adorable dorm room and my roommate is hilarious and we are having a blast together. That still doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my parents or the comfort of home. I have homework, responsibilities, and meetings to attend and all of those things can be overwhelming.

The thing that makes the imperfections of college a joy is the outcome of it all. Every reading assignment, tired morning, and night away from home is a learning experience that will ultimately help me to grow into the woman of God I am supposed to be. It brings me joy knowing that I will work in a great field and that I now better understand communication. It brings me joy knowing that I am learning how to have an adult relationship with my parents. It brings me joy learning how to keep up with life on my own. I can’t do it alone of course, but with the help of the God who got me here, I am becoming wiser and seeing how he is working in my life.

An important part of this process is attitude. At the leadership conference I attended this week we talked about how you can have all of the talent, ability, brilliance, or legacy in the world but if you have an apathetic or negative attitude you will lose all of that. Having a positive attitude can multiple your strengths. Using your gifts with a positive attitude is the quickest way to make a difference and gain perspective.

In a marriage, you cannot just marry the right person and never have to do any work for your marriage to be healthy. The same thing goes for your school or your job or any aspect of your life. With work, a good attitude, and a focus on Christ, you can find joy in the place you are at. If you expect things to be easy you won’t only be disappointed, you will never grow.

Find joy in the times where things aren’t perfect. Those are the times that God will work in your life so that you can grow. I don’t want to be the same person I was August 14th and I know I am going to have to go through some adversity in order to graduate the woman I was called to be. Bring it on.


What Should We Do Tonight?

New to the Chattanooga area? Chattanooga really is The Best Town Ever and there is so much to do for a city its’ size. I have yet to run out of restaurants to try or parks to explore in my time here as a citizen. Though I will be at Lee very shortly, the drive to Chattanooga is relatively short and I plan on bringing my new friends back home to show off my Scenic City. I wanted to start a running list of my favorite places to share with those of you who are about to experience this area for the first time or even for those of you have lived here for decades. It’s time to have a blast.

  • The Camp House in Chattanooga has free and inexpensive events all the time! The atmosphere is amazing and the chai lattes are the best in the city.
  • Track 29 is a concert venue in Chattanooga. I haven’t personally been to a concert there yet so I can’t vouch for it, but, they have some pretty decent bands coming in this year. Penny and Sparrow is one of my favorite bands and they are playing there in November.
  • Inman Street Coffeehouse in Cleveland has shows, open mic nights, and what have you. They have a lot of interesting beverages and a cute atmosphere. Good place to study in the daytime and a cool place to hang out at night.
  • Go to a park! Free! Many parks to choose from! You can set up a hammock or have a picnic. Parks have many purposes and they are budget friendly. There are parks all over campus, Cleveland, and Chattanooga.
  • The Aquarium is a little less budget friendly at $30 a ticket but it is definitely worth seeing at least once. Give yourself plenty of time to go through both buildings (they have a fresh water and an ocean journey) and keep in mind they are open from 10 AM – 6PM.
  • I always take my middle school girls to Superfly. It is a trampoline park and is actually super fun and relatively budget friendly at $12 for an hour (which is plenty) of jump time. They have a lot of trampolines, foam pits, and a dodgeball court. If you are looking for some good cardio and you are near Hamilton Place it could definitely be a fun thing to do with the right group of people.
  • Hungry? Pizza in ChattTacos in Chatta cute dinergood Italian food in the art districtburritos by Hamilton Placegreek food by Hamilton Placegreat thai food near Hamilton Place.
  • Walk the city! Park near the Chattanooga Choo Choo and explore the southside of the city. Main St. is an up and coming part of town and they have cute art shops, bakeries, coffee roasters and more. From the Choo Choo you can hop on a free electric shuttle that has a route all the way down to the Aquarium. From there you can explore the riverfront and easily get to the walking bridge and arts district. Walking around Chattanooga is an easy and inexpensive way to get a feel for everything the city has to offer.
  • The Hunter Art Museum is free the first Sunday of every month. They have some really neat exhibits and a beautiful view of the city. Go ahead and park in the street, it’s free all over downtown every weekend.
  • I’ll say it again, parking is free in the street Saturdays and Sundays.
  • McKay’s Used Books is every college student’s best friend. They have books, text books (!!!), DVDs, CDs, and much more. You can find some real bargains. One time I got Twenty One Pilot’s Vessel album for $2.04 and it changed my life.
  • Bring out your inner hipster and explore North Shore. Between Whole Foods, the graffiti covered alleys, Coolidge Park, and dozens of cute shops you will have an Instagram worthy Saturday.
  • Stay on campus and have a game night. Play Dutch Blitz, find a new card game, or stick with a classic game of spoons. Cards are a great activity to keep in your dorm because they don’t take up a lot of space and you can do many different things without spending money.
  • Or stay on campus and grab some of your new talented Lee friends and have a jam session in one of the practice rooms in the Music Building. I personally love to play dramatic covers of old R. Kelly songs. Maybe your group could even practice to play an open mic night at a local coffeeshop.
  • Go to the lake! Harrison Bay or Hixson both have lake access where you could swim, camp, kayak, or just picnic by the shore. It is free and a beautiful way to spend a weekend. Chester Frost park is my go to for lake days but there are many different accesses closer to campus.
  • I am still dying to drive up to Chilhowee. The park has an incredible view and from what I understand, it is pretty close to Cleveland.
  • Coffee drinker? Try LasatersBonlife CoffeeMilk & Honey Coffee and GelatoVelo CoffeeBrashCopacetic, and Rembrandt’s.

So that is a good place to start! Let me know if you know of other great things to do and I will keep this list updated. This area has a lot to offer and I cannot wait for all the adventures that are to come.

In The End

Today marks the two year anniversary of the day I left my hometown for my new city. Leaving your hometown for a new city at the age of sixteen can be really bittersweet. At any age, leaving your hometown is bittersweet. Whether you are beyond ready to “get out of there”, you feel like you are leaving everything behind, or you are somewhere in between, moving to a new city as a young adult is the kind of adventure you won’t want to trade for the world. As the fall rapidly approaches, many of us are getting ready to leave our homes and hometowns for the first time to enter into the world of college and adulthood. Getting from Point A to Point B has a lot more to it than the interstate though. So, let’s talk about moving.

Let’s start with the actual practical moving process. I’m not going to lie to you moving is pretty gross. You have to pack up everything you think you will need from a lifetime collection of things you don’t know if you can actually live without. For the sake of space and sanity, try to get it down to the essentials. If you are dorming, the minimum amount of use you should get out of something you are bringing is once a week. You should try to only bring things that you will use everyday. However, if you have something that you like to use on the weekends and you feel that you need to bring it because you know you are going to use it, that’s understandable. When packing, consider the amount of space it takes up and the frequency of use.

My Personal Packing Example:

I am bringing my Eno Hammock to college even though I know I may not use it everyday. I like to use it when the weather is nice, and it doesn’t take up much space. I am not bringing extra books for reading because, they take up a lot of space, I will be burnt out from reading required course material, and I can always get a book from the library if I have that kind of free time.

What you pack will be dependent on your lifestyle and the amount of space you have in your living area. If you are an avid reader, you might make space for the books, but if you are like me, you may want to utilize that space for free t-shirts. Of course, when I moved to a new house and not a tiny dorm room I brought my favorite books, but, I still donated books that I knew I didn’t want to read again. Moving is an excellent time to go through what you have and decide if it is something you want to bring into the next phase of life.

Once you get to your new city, you have a clean start. This is a good thing. The experience of meeting new people and developing connections with them is invaluable. You will use it in your personal and professional life constantly as an adult. The best thing to do when you are starting over in a new city is introduce yourself. Go to events where you will meet the kind of people you are interested in being friends with and don’t wait to be approached (Lee examples: SLC, freshman events, Res Life small groups). It takes a lot of guts at first, but the reward is worth the risk. The more you introduce yourself, the easier it will get. Be friendly, shake their hand, and remember their name. If you really want to go for it, find a mutual interest so that you have something to talk about together. That is how friends are made. It isn’t as hard as you think with the right people.

Missing the old city is a part of moving. Even if you cannot wait to move out. I will randomly want a food I could only have in Paducah or I will think about a road we used to drive everyday when I am driving on new roads. But even more than the place, you will miss the people. I still miss people from my hometown. I do not talk to them nearly as much as I did when I first moved, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less. I think about my hometown friends a lot and I am so grateful for the time we had together. However, you cannot cling to the past.

Jimmy Harper told us an analogy at Summer Honors this year (Did you really think I could make it through blog post without talking about Summer Honors?) that illustrated how we should approach our future. He said, moving into the future should be like sitting in a rowboat. When you sit in a rowboat, you are facing the opposite direction of where you are going. You can only see what is right in front of you and what is in your past. You keep going forward into the unseen with the image of what is behind you to guide you on your way.

Moving, both figuratively and literally, is uncharted and unseen territory. There are going to be things that happen in the next year that I did not see coming, but I can use the experience I have had in my past to make good decisions. We aren’t alone in new places either. You will always have God by your side and the people from your old home are just a phone call away. Use the people and memories of your past as a guide as you move into the future. Soon enough though, the new places and people become your places and people. After all, what it meant to me will eventually be a memory of a time when…

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter

Did I just end a blog post with Linkin Park lyrics?




I miss Cleveland.

I just spent the past two weeks at Lee’s beautiful campus in the heart of Cleveland, TN. I was a part of Summer Honors for the second year in a row and the experience was completely different, but completely wonderful. Summer Honors is everything I love about Lee University. I laughed more during those two weeks than I normally do in two months. I thought about God, the world around me, myself, my future, and the people in my life until my heart was changed. I learned in the classroom and in the everyday moments. I made friends that will be in my wedding someday. I met incredible leaders and people who follow God with everything in them. Summer Honors changed my life again. It became a part of my testimony. All of that to say that Summer Honors was just a taste of the life I have ahead of me. Today I want to talk to you guys about a few of the most important things you need to know about life after Summer Honors. This experience can be so amazing, but just like Andy Stanley says, “experience doesn’t make you wiser, evaluated experience makes you wiser.”

 The first thing I think we should talk about is that this time is a blessing. If I got a call in the morning that the move in date had been moved to July 1st I would not be disappointed. I am not going to pretend like I don’t consider driving to Atlanta or to Nashville every morning to see the beautiful, amazing friends I made at Summer Honors this year. I want to be in Cleveland and get my life started, but at the same time I am so grateful that I have the next 44 days to process what just happened and how my life is about to change.

Even in the small amount of time I have been at home I have already been able to deal with some of the insecurity that had popped back up in my head over the past two weeks. I reminded myself that I don’t have to get married in the next two years (Yeah that was something I was worried about please don’t laugh at me). Dr. Jimmy Harper reminded me that God has a different purpose for my life than he does for my room mate or my suite mate or my mom (we aren’t all called to missions, but we are all called to missional living). My new friends reminded me that people truly like me and want to be around me. Serving at the Boys and Girls Club reminded me that I need to spend the next few weeks really investing in my small group girls. My RA group reminded me how much fun it can be to do life with a group of girls. Evaluating my time spent at SH made me practically excited for the time I have before I return in the fall. I may be back at home alone again, but that doesn’t mean that God is done using me this summer.

Now I want to talk specifically to those of you who won’t be back at Lee in the fall. I just want to take a minute and really encourage you. You guys have been blessed by this experience in a huge way. You probably know that you want to go to Lee now which is awesome because you do not have to worry about choosing or applying to a million different schools. You are going back into one of the greatest mission fields in our country this year by going back to high school. The people there need you to carry the light you’ve found back with you this year. When you go back to your schools in the fall be the person you would have been at Lee. Make the same choices and efforts that you would have if you were on campus with us. Most importantly, do not become apathetic about your senior year. I was. It was terrible. I made myself miserable and wished my time away. I could have made such a difference on campus if I had spent less time complaining and more time evaluating the needs of the people around me. We could all be better friends. We can all volunteer a little more. We could all choose to be happy with where God had placed us. It is going to be hard this year but you are all welcome to come stay with me in Sharp Davis. I will hug you, give you a cookie, and remind you that Jesus loves you and knows your heart.

Summer Honors 2015 has been so amazing. This summer is going to be amazing too though. Take this time to buy more towels and spend more time with your younger siblings. We can make it through this together. You guys are amazing. You are all going to do amazing things.

Just do it.


Beauty Standards Do Not Change

I am beautiful.

That statement still makes me very uncomfortable. Saying “I am beautiful” is a hard thing to do sometimes. I am 100% positive that there isn’t a single woman who loves everything about their body. It isn’t possible. Our bodies can never be up to the current standard (Mostly because the current standard of beauty is photoshopped). I never felt thin enough and I thought that was the problem. My thin friends always wished they were curvier. My curvy friends always wished they were more fit. My fit friends always wished they were more feminine. No one was ever happy with their body.

Ever since I started High School I have been on a mission to love my body and myself. I decided that no matter what you think about me with or without makeup, dressed up or pjs, under any circumstance, I would think “I am beautiful.” Beauty after all is an inside-out thing. I think we can all agree on that. And with that logic, I am beautiful because I am working towards the beauty standards that, you guessed it, God has lined out for us.

Comparing myself to God’s beauty standards was the only way I could find peace. When I approached my self-analysis by searching my heart first I could finally be satisfied. I’m sure you have all heard of a “Proverbs 31 Woman”. This chapter is about the characteristics of a noble woman. This is kind of my go-to when I am asking “what is beautiful even supposed to mean?” A noble woman, according to Proverbs, is hard working, strong, God-fearing, wise, and virtuous. When I read that I could finally say, “Oh, I am beautiful.” The chapter even says that charm and beauty will fade but a woman who respects God will be deeply admired. When I am at my “worst” and at my “best” I will always be loved because I love God.

As far as outward beauty, it shouldn’t be a question. We were all made in the image of God. When I start to feel down about my body I just remind myself that it is a reflection of God. It is a lot harder to complain about what you look like when you start to see yourself from his perspective. Just a glimpse of how much He loves me is enough to make me want to take a nap and run a marathon at the same time. It is a lot easier to find the beauty in everything around me when I remember the creator and how much He loves his creation.

So you see, the only standard for beauty that actually matters has never changed. Loving yourself becomes a whole lot easier when you love God first. There is equality, unity, and peace in the beauty standards that God has provided for us. It takes a long time to find peace about beauty, in fact I still seek peace every day, but trust me, it is totally worth it.


Making Plans

Looking at Senior Prom pictures from my hometown this week has reminded me of just how different my life is from what I thought it would be. Things have changed a lot since I was your classmate, old friends.


This young lady had no idea that she would start home schooling that year. That she would lose friends or that she would make new ones. She had no idea that Aeropostale wouldn’t be as cool when she was graduating as it was when she rocked those plaid Bermuda shorts. She wanted to be a stay at home mom when she grew up. She longed to drive a minivan and maybe teach preschool on the side. She had never made a bad grade. She dreamed of leading worship at her church. She didn’t know that one day she would find a new church home and then find it again. Her best friends were the same ones she had most of her life. If she had it her way nothing would ever change. She was afraid of change because she didn’t really understand it.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

This young lady has a whole new dream. She has all new friends. She loves starting over. She welcomes new and change. She prays for the will of God in her life. She is learning to seek him. She still wants to be a mom and drive a minivan but she also wants to connect businesses with communities through public relations. She is still very young and surely she will laugh at the plan she has today in a few short years. She is going to college. She goes to a church where she can serve and be served. She doesn’t lead worship anymore but she leads in a whole new way she could have never dreamed of as a small group leader for 7th grade girls. She lives a life she could have never dreamed of.

My life is very different from what I thought it would be going into 6th grade. That shouldn’t be surprising, but yet in some ways it is. The plans we have are only guaranteed to change. Since 6th grade I have learned that the best plan is to ask for God’s plan. It is what got me here, in this city, at this church, with these people, and this school. It is what made me who I am today and I think I really like that person.

When we talked about this on Sunday, I really got to thinking about middle school and how my girls can prepare for the life ahead of them. After thinking I decided that you really can’t prepare. All you can do is pray guys. God knows your desires, the ones you will have today and the ones you will have tomorrow. If you are asking for his will, then I promise, the plan you will be given will be one that you will be very satisfied to look back on. By the time you are old and weird like me, you will be really glad you asked God for his will.


Overcoming Senioritis

Hello friends. It has been a while. If you were wondering where I have been the answer is probably Chick-fil-a if we are being honest. In fact, today we are going to be really honest. I have one week of classes left. One week. And then I take my final exams. And then I graduate from High School forever. This has been a very difficult concept for me to grasp. There is absolutely no question that this concept makes me happy, after all I have been waiting for this for a long time. However, there are still parts of high school that I will miss like my friends and the other great people at my school. My life will be changed forever the moment I take that pretend diploma and cross the stage May 9th. In these final weeks I have realized that the present can be just as good as the future. That is almost a whole other blog post though. So any ways, let’s talk about the coma-like state that is senioritis.

Senioritis is real. For some it hits the last week of school and for some (like me) it starts about your third day of your Junior year. In true “doll house” fashion I was ready to move on from high school before it even started. But let’s call Senioritis what it really is: Apathy.

When I was at Summer Honors (wow if I had a dollar for every time I said that) we talked about the “doors” that we hide behind. Those doors were anything that we used as a way to separate ourselves from God. Things like busyness, religion, false identity, and, you guessed it, apathy. When I first heard this sermon I felt like I was pretty much above those things. I thought I was never too busy to serve. I was very clear that my relationship with God was way more important than following the religion of Christianity. I am a very open person for the most part ( I eventually found that I was using all of those things by the way). At the time I thought apathy meant that you wore black eyeliner and you listened to Fall Out Boy. I didn’t understand until I was standing knee deep in a puddle of apathy what it looked like in my own life.

Apathy is when you act like you don’t care. Senioritis is when you act like you don’t care. I can’t tell you how many Monday mornings I walked from my car and thought “I just don’t care anymore.” I cared about the things I loved like my friends and family. I certainly cared about God and serving. The thing about Apathy though is that it bleeds into every aspect of your life. I quickly started treating my life like this part didn’t matter and that the only thing worth caring about was where I would be in the future. I can not be careless about life though. Once I stopped caring about school it quickly spread to the things that made me healthy and happy.

Apathy doesn’t always make you fail. I made great grades this year. The dangerous thing about apathy is that if you are careless you can not love what is happening in your life. You can guarantee you won’t be happy by being apathetic; but in my experience, apathy won’t take away the pain of life, it will only add to it. Without realizing it I became a selfish person and did what I needed to survive in my apathetic bubble. I floated from day to day with a bad attitude and wished my time away. I never took the time to treat the life I had yesterday like the life I will have tomorrow. I did however treat them like they were two different lives. One was a bad story and one was a fairytale ending. Life doesn’t work that way though. Just like they say you should be the person you want to marry, I am saying you ought to have the attitude today you want to have the rest of your life.

I realized this was all happening when I started to lose it when little things would go wrong. Suddenly I realized how uncomfortable I had made some of the people in my life and how fragile my happiness was. All because of the cute little “senioritis” spell I was having. My discontentment wasn’t a cute little thing 18 year old students get anymore. It was cold hard apathy. Now that I see my apathy for what it really is, I can open that door back up and let God fill me back up.

So why am I telling you all of this? (When I sat down to write this post I thought I was going to talk about iced coffee and taking naps.) The thing is we need to talk about this stuff. I am not perfect. I am far from it. Whether you see this sort of thing in me or you see a completely different side of me I want you to know my whole story. The reason I want to share this deeply personal and imperfect part of me with you is because I have no doubt that God will use this to help me and to help you. Maybe you are struggling with apathy and you don’t realize it. Maybe some day you will and you can stop yourself short because now you know it comes in all shapes in sizes. I know that having this conversation with you and with God has opened that door back up so that this time when I am starting over it will be different.

Don’t get tired of your life. Fill it with God and family and healthy things and great friends. Whether you are starting your last year of high school or battling cancer do not crush your own spirit. Rely on God most of all to fill you with joy and do not shut him out. Remind yourself to practice having a great attitude. Drink a lot of iced coffee. Do your yoga. Love your people. Be grateful.


5 Struggles of the Dual Enrollment Student 

First, let me begin by reminding you all how much I really do love my school. There are a thousand benefits of being a full time college student in High School. I have learned a lot about life and about Martin Luther (I cannot escape that man) in my four semesters. In fact, when people ask me at preview nights what I don’t like about our school I often can’t think of anything. There are certainly some struggles though that you experience when you are a full time college student in high school, so let us begin, in no particular order, to appreciate and laugh about the things we all know too well. 

  1. Explaining where you go to school. This is a bigger issue than you would imagine. Do I tell you the name of my high school or the name of my college? I am earning both of the credits at the same time. It’s one class. I will have an associates and a high school diploma but I am still going to college afterwards. I report to professors and the greater college but I report to my high school staff too. Does that help?
  2. Explaining what grade you are in. This is possibly worse than the school itself. I’m a senior in high school but a sophomore in college. All you really need to know is that I am 18. 
  3. Traditional High School. I don’t know very many people who still go to traditional high school honestly. I am grateful for them though because adults and colleges think I am AWESOME because of those who take the path more traveled. I respect you for taking AP classes but I will never understand you. I think we all still have nightmares about having to go back. Dual enrollment students and traditional high schools are like oil and water, we do not mix well. 
  4. Professors. You never know what a professor is going to say when they find out you are in high school. Most professors are really cool about it, but I am always nervous when I first start a class that they will treat me differently. We are just here to learn guys! We promise not to cause trouble! 
  5. Expectations. I think this is a struggle for every high school student, but sometimes the DE students get hit pretty hard with preconceived notions about what is expected of them. A lot of you work and go to school and still have time to socialize and make great grades and you are my heroes. I think a lot of times, DE students really shatter what people expect from teenagers as far as intelligence, maturity, and ability goes. Sometimes that is a great thing but other times students compare themselves to the people who do it all and fell like they should be doing more. To that I say you are already doing it all. You have an extra two years of your life to get ahead of the rest of the world. We can’t all be Hannah Ledford. 

So even though our struggles may be slight, they are struggles we share none the less. I wouldn’t want to be at any other school and I think once people understand Dual Enrollment and what it is we do, we will have virtually nothing to complain about. Enjoy spring break my friends. I’ll see you in the commons. 

How to Find Your Dream School in 8 Steps

Picking a college is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart because I nearly picked the wrong one. It’s the first big decision that you will make for yourself as an adult human being and it very much affects the rest of you adult human being life. I thought I would give a little crash course on the subject since I have friends who are starting to look, finishing their search, and somewhere in between. So here it is, Halle’s crash course to picking a college:

  1. Start early. I cannot stress this enough. I started looking when I was in 8th grade. The longer you have been looking the easier it is when you have to start searching seriously. Look at every school you can, even schools that are totally out of your comfort zone. Learning how to look at a school is one of the most important parts of the process.
  2. Find a fit. Take an online quiz (honestly) so you know what kind of schools are ideal for you. is a great source and can help you narrow down your choices based on what you would ideally like to see in your future school. There are a few things you need to consider when you are trying to take a quiz like this:
    • Size matters. This is something that was really important to me and that a lot of students forget about. If you know that you really need accountability or you want to know everyone at your school, a small school is for you. If you want to meet a lot of people but you still want to feel like you are part of a community you want to look at more medium sized schools. If you want to go to a school with, let’s be honest, a bigger party scene or bigger name you want a large school. Keep in mind where you have gone to school in the past as well. I personally hated going to a larger public school in grade school so I wanted to look at small or medium schools.
    • Distance matters. Living situations, vacations, and money can all be a factor in choosing how far away you want to go. If you are dying to get that independent experience you may want to look out of state or at least a few hours away. If you want to be able to come home on a long weekend or to do laundry but you don’t want to live at home, look at schools that are 45 minutes-3 hours away. If you are looking to save money and just trying to get your degree, look at schools that are in your hometown. An out of state school can get expensive, however it does not have to be totally out of your price range. Some private schools offer the same rates for out of state students as they do in state students. Distance matters, but it isn’t the most important factor.
    • Private vs Public. This is a tough one as well. The biggest lie I believed about college was that private schools were always more expensive than state schools. This is untrue my friends. Private colleges usually run a little pricy, however it can be much easier to get scholarships at a private school than a public school. Public and private schools are VERY different. Public schools can have a lot of partying and giant campuses; private schools can have a lot of religious graduation requirements like bible classes, chapel, or community service hours. Know what you want your experience to be like and make your decision based on that before you discount something because of money.
  3. Look at Stats. When you look for schools check and see what the average ACT scores, GPAs, and other entrance requirements. It is also important to see how many people are graduating in 4-5 years and where they go afterwards. Big Future search is great about this and allows you to compare schools to see which ones are easier to get into and which ones are a little tougher. Do not let this discourage you though! If you love a school you can always work hard to make it work for you.
  4. Money Matters. Start figuring out what kind of scholarships the schools you are interested in will offer you. Scholarship availability in some cases, can be more important than tuition cost. Take your ACT as many times as you can. Every school is different, but remember, when it comes to tuition, thousands of dollars a year can add up really fast.
  5. Visit campus. The first time I visited Lee I knew I would go there. I didn’t even want to drive up there but my mom made me. Seeing it all in person and talking to students and faculty helped me get a real feel for what life was like there. Looking online helps you know the facts, but you have no idea what a school is really like until you see it for yourself. Don’t just tour though, walk around for yourself. Sit in on a class and wander around a little bit. Try to get a little slice of life when you visit.
  6. Ask around. If there is someone in your life that you admire or that works the field you are trying to get into, find out where they went to school. My senior and junior year I asked every adult I met where they went to school. The adults that went to my school all really enjoyed their experiences and it really helped me to see what my life could like over time.
  7. Major doesn’t matter. Unless you have always known what you wanted to be and have no intention of ever changing that, don’t pick a school because of your major. Knowing your major can be a great tool for narrowing down schools but you should look at a few schools outside of that program as well. Chances are, you are good at more than one thing. When I found Lee, they didn’t have an engineering program, but I didn’t really want to be an engineer. If I had totally loved engineering I may have picked a different school, but I wasn’t totally committed to that major and I really loved the school. Now I am a Public Relations major, but even that could change. Your major will give you the skills you need to start in the work force, but mostly, it’s just a piece of paper. What really matters is experience and occasionally your grad school studies. The world needs doctors and engineers, but if you are only doing it because your parents told you to, you probably won’t make it past your 8 AM Calc III class. Keep your options open.
  8. Pray about it. If you give it to God he is going to lead you in the right direction. You have to do the footwork, but ultimately, if you are involving God in your decision making process, you will end up in the right place.

SO that was pretty lengthy and I honestly could keep going but you get the idea. It is a long and important process but honestly, worst case scenario, you can always transfer. Just make sure you are asking yourself the tried and true Andy Stanley wisdom question:

In light of my past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?

You will be ok. 


Fill Up

I feel like all I really write about is the limbo that is senior year but here we are again.

Senior year is still not what I expected it to be. It has really been one of those things where God makes you so uncomfortable with where you are that you know it is time to get a move on. This has resulted in a lot of bitterness on my part towards my fellow man. Recently, however, God has put it on my heart – nay – speared me in the heart with a trident repeatedly that my attitude is not the one that he has called me to have. I could reference about a dozen verses about this particular situation – because of the trident stabbing – but one in particular has been at the forefront of my mind since we read it in small group last week:

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

1 Peter 2:1-3

This was one of those verses where I could literally feel the stink eye of God gazing down upon me. It’s embarrassing how quick I was to judge my peers these past few weeks. I felt like I was completely alone and that no one else could even begin to understand how hard it was for me to be lingering around this last semester. The thing is, I was totally wrong. I was filling myself up with pity, hypocrisy, slander, and all that jazz. When I read this I realized what a mistake that was.

By doing these things I was denying the goodness and the joy that God has given to me as a gift. It was like the Lord was offering me all the chai lattes I could drink and I said “Ha, no thanks God I’ll stick with Folger’s.” That’s crazy talk. The point is, I chose to be disappointed instead of choosing joy through my actions and through my thoughts. It was 100% preventable and 100% my decision. Did I really think that God couldn’t handle my situation or that he was absent all together? Of course He can and of course He is with me. When I really think about my life and what God is doing in it right now I have to laugh at myself for ever doubting a second of it.

So how did I get here? What made me forget how good I have it?

In that second verse it says it pretty clearly: crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. The second I picked up my bible in the mornings and started praying for God’s goodness in me I felt a change in my heart. Granted, it is a constant prayer some days, but starting my day by seeking God gives me a better glimpse at the big picture. The joy I have when I am making Him a priority is unlike any other. I am glad that I learned that sooner rather than later.

I am so grateful for my small group. Without them, I wouldn’t be challenged like I am now to fill myself with goodness instead of with bitterness. Every baby step has put me in the right direction; I hope that in a few months we can all enjoy the bigger picture. Love you guys!