I grew up in a Christian home, and was baptized as an infant in the Methodist church. I didn’t learn until later that it was my parents’ promise to raise me in the faith. My family owns a 26-acre farm where we raise Registered Black Angus Cattle. My younger brother, Mark, and I grew up showing cattle, working on the farm, going to church when we were in town, as well as learning to balance chores, club meetings, and school work – especially when we were frequently out of town showing. We were active and held many offices in our 4-H club, FFA chapter, and the Virginia Junior Angus Association.
Growing up I remember life being fun, requiring hard work, yet I tackled anything that came my way. I was often in the top of my class. I was very dedicated to being good at what I involved myself in, whether it be school, holding roles in the groups I was active in, or simply doing my best when I walk in the showring. Later in life, I ran for state FFA office, Miss American Angus, and the National Junior Angus Board of Directors. None of these positions did I obtain. I knew God must have had other plans with my life, but what? I was active, hardworking, dedicated, loving, and kind, but why were all these doors closing? Is there something missing?
In looking into furthering my education – I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. After mentoring a Kindergarden class my junior and senior year in high school, I decided I liked it enough to go ahead and pursue Elementary Education and was planning to continue and get my masters. Having majored in Human Development, it was easy when junior year at Virginia Tech rolled around and God encouraged me to complete my second field study shadowing a middle school guidance counselor. This all worked out by the grace of God and I loved it! Enough to go ahead and spend another semester with youth and the counselor I was shadowing.
But then it came time to decide what I would do following college. Did I want to be a guidance counselor? Should I continue with the path to become an Elementary school teacher? What do I want to do? What should I do? These were all questions I asked myself. But in the end, after putting what God was leading me to on the back burner for almost a whole year, I realized He was calling me to do the internship with Virginia Tech Chi Alpha.
As a child I continually prayed prayers of repentance and telling God how I believed in Jesus. I feared Hell and wanted to be certain I would spend eternity with my Creator. Growing up I was involved in our Methodist church – Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, Acolyte, Scripture Reader, and so much more. I even petitioned to have an FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, in our middle school. Throughout high school I went through a phase of trying to fit in, yet also developing my beliefs in what scripture says as opposed to how others were interpreting it. Also in this time, I know the Lord was giving me a desire to have a relationship with Him – but I didn’t know what that meant. That is, until I went to college. I got plugged into Chi Alpha my second semester at Virginia Tech after trying out a few different ministries the first semester. And this was home. This was where I learned about spending daily time with the Lord, what it’s like to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father, and to become more like Him.
Over the years of being involved in Chi Alpha at Virginia Tech I have grown and learned a great deal about myself. All those years in school and working hard at getting good grades – yeah, I was finding my identity in how well I did. All those positions I held in 4-H, FFA, and the Angus Associations – yep, I was finding my identity there too. All the people I was friends with – I was keeping them closer than I was with my one and only true best Friend: Jesus. There are many things in this world that we can get so focused on that we forget why we’re here, Who created us, and our hearts’ true desire for Christ.