silver medals

DCCA8248-D7CB-4684-9757-EC7E0560428DToday marks an entire year since my last time posting on this ole thing. It wasn’t planned out to be this way, but it’s so perfect to describe how detailed God is when he moves and works in peoples lives. If we’re being honest, I haven’t written anything this whole year because I had convinced myself I had nothing to offer. There was no insane amount of Solomon-like wisdom I felt I possessed, and there definitely weren’t streams of eloquent words or phrases that would encourage people to continue reading. I didn’t have a deadline to meet or any kind of pressure to write, I just simply felt as if I wasn’t good enough to add value or truth to anyone who happened upon these words.

This past year, especially my second semester, really took a toll on me. It was a semester of searching, but at the time I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I had just come from an incredible summer and great first semester, my friends were the best people I knew, and I was in a major that I loved and was finding incredible success in. On the outside, things looked really good for Maddy Ray. On the inside though, I consistently had feelings of rejection or being the second choice. Incredible job opportunities that I prayed so hard for went to the person next to me in the interviews. A deeply beloved friend began pulling away and leaving me out of the narrative of their life, no matter how hard I tried to hold on. Positions in my organization that I went out for were given to girls who had my first choice as their backup option. A boy I really liked took me on dates for a bit and then abruptly chose another girl. It was as if I was running a race and kept on tripping right before the finish line, getting back up only quick enough to receive my silver medal and go home.

My inner thoughts were running wild, picking up speed with each of these silver medals life was giving me. I began questioning whether I was ever going to be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, fill-in-the-blank enough. I tried my best to look happy and carefree on the outside, but in actuality, I was anxiously second-guessing every move, every conversation, every interaction I made. It wasn’t that I needed to win something to find my worth or that I needed to be the best to feel valued, but the constant lie of rejection and not being enough really weighed on me. This was absolutely exhausting, let me tell you, and one afternoon it just got to be too much for me. I broke down at my kitchen table, tears and all, crying out to God and asking Him to show me who I am in His eyes. He reminded me of the passage in 1 Peter 2:4-5 that says, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (bolding mine). It was at my kitchen table, just me and Jesus, where He gently reminded me that He chooses us every single day. Even when we don’t choose Jesus, He chooses us. We are chosen, we are valued, we are loved, we are enough. Enough for Him to die on a cross so that each of us could have an intimate relationship with our perfect and loving Father.

The enemy loves to plant seeds of lies in our minds, and I was allowing my circumstances to feed and water this particular lie. Whether life is going better than we could have ever dreamed, or just waking up to start another day seems daunting, our circumstances don’t define our worth. Jesus’s love isn’t situational. It’s unconditional and free and never-ending.

It took me leading fourteen 7th grade girls at camp to even try to wrap my mind around the vastness of Jesus’s love. Going into that week, I was a ball of anxiousness and inadequacy, scared these girls would see right through me and straight to my struggles and doubts. I didn’t know a soul, and I truly believed I was in over my head. The Lord was faithful to provide me with the best co-leader I could have imagined, and together we watched the Holy Spirit use the stories of our human mess-ups, coupled with God’s promises of grace and forgiveness, to draw two of our girls from death into life in His name!! As I watched the Lord transform these lives right before my eyes, I was overcome with thanksgiving and hit between the eyes with the truth that all God asks of us is to be willing vessels for Him – no matter how cracked we believe ourselves to be.

It’s a humbling thing, watching sweet middle schoolers give their lives to Jesus. Even as a twenty-something year old, I can learn a lot from them. 1 Peter 2:9 talks about being “called out of the darkness and into his marvelous light.” We are called, by name, into the marvelous light that is life in Jesus. So even if we’re put in 2nd, 5th, or 100th place by man, it doesn’t dictate our value or identity. Jesus picked us FIRST and picks us ALWAYS, which makes us enough for a medal even better than gold – a medal of eternity with Him.



In the Immortal Message given by late Samuel Palmer Brooks, the beloved seventh President of Baylor, he encouraged “Because of what Baylor has meant to you in the past, because of what she will mean to you in the future, oh, my students, have a care for her.” This is just one quote from an entire letter written to the Class of 1931, but it has stuck with me since the day I first heard it. I had always pondered what it might look like for me to “have a care” for the school I call my home, and what kind of impact I could make throughout my time in Waco.

“Because of what Baylor has meant to you in the past…  Thinking back to my first post on this site, it was all about my experience running the Baylor Line and how the journey leading up to that first home game made running all the more meaningful. I honestly didn’t feel like Baylor was the right place for me until I went to Line Camp and met some of the most incredible and encouraging people; many of whom I’m still friends with today! These close friends, along with my parents, helped remind me that the Lord has a specific reason for keeping me in this country, at Baylor, and pursuing a higher education. To the me of the past, Baylor has meant promise and patience, growth and faithfulness. 

“… because of what she will mean to you in the future…” — During my second semester at Baylor, I did the one thing I never in a million years imagined I would ever do: I changed my major. I came in Health Science Studies, Pre-Med and thought for sure I was headed to medical school. This wouldn’t be a bad way to spend my life, by any means, but it wasn’t what I knew the Lord was telling me to do with my time. It’s funny though, when we tell our plans to God rather than listening to His plan for us, because how could us humans ever come up with something better than what the King of the Universe has for us? It took a long and emotional battle to ensue before I released my grip on the title of “future doctor”, one I dreamt of having for as long as I could remember. I switched my major to Religion in March, concentrating in International Ministry and Missions. To the me of the future, Baylor will mean a place of spiritual and academic formation, equipping me for the Kingdom calling placed on my life. 

“… oh, my students, have a care for her.” — To have a care for Baylor means to have a care for her students, and that is exactly what I spent my entire summer doing. As an Orientation + Line Camp leader, it was my job to welcome new students to campus and get them excited about starting school in the fall. Never in a million years did I think this job would immensely grow me in my relationship with the Lord and with the other leaders, but it absolutely did. Words will never be good enough to describe my time working for New Student Programs, but if I had to try, they wouldn’t be coherent thoughts. They would be all over the place, and no one outside of the other leaders would understand an ounce of what I’m saying, but it would look something like this: morning worship with Sean, affirmation circle, m-i-l-k c-double o-k-i-e-s, SHOOTING STAR, waffle or not at all, what are the odds, aspen and smellytallie, sweet and sour chicken ahh, lobby sits, “I can’t do this Sam”, hydrate or DIEdrate, war week 1 should’ve placed, Baylor became my home when, I am MOANA, sloppies all around, we’re McFeastin’, softball card games, bridge sunrises, see a chug send a chug, #linecampszn, media room sleepovers, and so. much. more.


These past few months have been some of the most tiring yet rewarding days I have ever gone through. There’s just something so special about waking up each morning knowing you and your closest friends are ushering in the newest generation of Bears, giving them their first taste of the Christian community Baylor prides itself on. Whether we were dancing, worshiping, serving, laughing until we were crying, hyping each other up, we did it all together. We were a team. These people weren’t just my friends, we created a family unit, and I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for all 48 of the leaders I got to do life with this summer. They taught me an incredible amount about genuine love, unwavering support, patience, faithfulness, and true community. Leading with these people was an absolute honor, and I can’t imagine experiencing another community quite like the one we created here with each other. To my Line Camp family, every single one of you are world changers, and knowing each of you has made me a better person through and through. We’ve made memories to last a lifetime, and serving alongside y’all has truly been the opportunity of a lifetime.

To all 38 of my incredible campers, and to the sweet orphan campers I took in and loved as my own, y’all have no doubt changed my life. I accepted this job to have an impact on you, but you have had a deeper impact on me than you’ll ever understand. Each day, you filled my heart with joy and light and laughter, and in return my heart overflowed with love for y’all. Week by week, you each had different personalities and experiences and inside jokes that I will treasure forever (or at least as long as I can remember them all). The never ending sic ’ems, the moo offs, the ‘Mr. Brightside’ serenades (I’m looking at you, G), the awkward silences, the SING performances, the litty city celebrations at CG, the all-nighters, the sunrises – all of these were my favorite because I did them with y’all. Thank you for loving me so well, affirming me when I wasn’t sure what I was doing leading a bunch of freshman, making me laugh until I cry, and giving me a newfound confidence deeply rooted in Christ. I was supposed to be there teaching y’all something, but I’m certain I learned far more from each of you than anything I had to offer. To my Chappy Cheeks, my Clawed Squad, my UnBEARables, my Booty Squad, and all the stragglers that tagged along and joined my group at random times, thank you. Y’all would always ask how I was able to do this day in and day out and keep my energy at 110%, and here’s the secret: you guys. Y’all were the reason it was so easy to run on 0-2 hours of sleep each night and still lose my mind cheering you on during SING. From the bottom of my heart, know you are appreciated, you are loved, and Baylor is so lucky to have you!!!

I’m absolutely positive President Brooks would be proud of us today if he were to see the Kingdom work being done on this campus. He would be overjoyed at the school spirit Baylor Line Camp evokes within the students AND the leaders involved. I have faith that he would be greatly pleased with the Baylor University of today, just as I am. I may not be President of the University, but I know a good thing when I see it, and Baylor University is oh so good. Sic ‘Em!!

10 things I learned throughout my first year of college

I’ve been home from my first year of college for about a week now, and it has been just enough time to get some rest and reflect on how the Lord has used me and stretched me beyond anything I could’ve imagined. This school year didn’t start out how I wished it would by any means, with me staying in the country (miss you, Stockton), but God knew exactly what He was doing. There were lessons I needed to learn, people I needed to meet, and prayers I needed to pray in order for me to grow deeper into the calling that has been placed on my life. Like in most things, hindsight is 20/20, so here is a list of lessons (brace yourself, it’s kinda long) I have taken away from the past nine months:

1. My mom was right. About everything. She was right about me not needing as many t-shirts as I brought. She was right about that extra piece of furniture I just HAD to have during move-in, which ultimately came home at Christmas. She was right about who I am and what God had told her He has for me. For example, my mom knew I was going to change my major months before I realized it was the right step, and she was gracious enough to keep it to herself and let me figure it out on my own. She was right about me eventually being thankful for the way her and my dad parented me, and let me tell you, this one was HUGE. I can’t tell you how many times I called my mom just to thank her and my dad for how they raised me. The kind of person someone truly is will show, and parents’ hard work will come to fruition (or not), as soon as kids move to college and get their first taste of freedom. Thankfully, my parents instilled Godly wisdom and truth during the 18 years I lived in their home that I was able to lean on far more than I ever thought I would.

2. It’s okay to stop studying sometimes, and actually live life. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and the Lord had to use multiple people to intervene so I would get the point. Yes, an exceptional GPA is ideal, but it’s not the be all end all. Coming in as a Health Science major wanting to go to medical school, my grades were what I cared about. They were my complete identity. I took so much pride in answering the latter of the two questions every freshman is asked at least a billion times: what’s your name and what’s your major? My grades HAD to be perfect, or else my life and career would be over far before they ever started. I learned quickly that this is no way to live. John 10:10 doesn’t say “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have a 4.0!” Absolutely not. While it’s not a bad thing to care about grades because the Lord told us to do everything with excellence, as if done unto Him (Col. 3:23), they shouldn’t be the sole focus of our time and energy. Jesus said that he came so that we may have LIFE, and have it more abundantly. This means it’s okay to stay the full length of the football game instead of skipping out early to go to the library, it’s okay to close the books and return to the land of the living after studying for hours upon hours, it’s okay (and encouraged!!) to actively listen to your preacher on Sunday instead of running through the to-do list in your head, and it’s okay to treat yo’self after a big test and get ice cream with your friends. It’s all about balance.

3. You’re going to find exactly what you’re looking for. There are many different types of people and groups in college, and the exciting part is that if you put in enough work, you will find exactly what you’re searching for. If you’re looking for those friends who will sit at the library and study with you far after the sun has gone to sleep, they’re always there – shoutout to Club Moody!! If you’re looking for the friends that will go out with you every weekend, they’re everywhere. If you’re looking for the friends that will come pick you up and drive you home when you go out every weekend, they’re around. If you seek friends who are down to go on spontaneous midnight drives and frequent Fuego/Whata runs, maybe even see a random animated kids movie at 11:30pm on a Tuesday (I’m looking at you, KC & GB), those people really do exist. If you’re looking for the friends who will call you every Sunday morning to make sure your alarm went off and you’re awake/getting ready for church, or hold your hand while you get your first haircut in over a year,  it may take a little extra searching but trust me when I say those people are definitely there. College is a cool time to figure out who you are and who you’ll become, and the kinds of friends you seek will help shape you, so choose wisely!

4. Living with someone in a 12×13 space is hard. Be a good roommate. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most people are very used to having their own room before coming to college. It’s a weird feeling, not having to share a living space for 18 years, then suddenly sleeping three feet away from someone, but being a roommate will teach you so much about yourself. Having a roommate in such a small space is definitely a learning curve, especially if you don’t know each other well before move-in, but after the awkward first couple of nights everything begins to feel more normal and comfortable. Carol and I came to value the deep friendship that comes with sharing a shoe box; the late night talks, the multitude of dumb snapchat stories, the mountains of laundry we eventually put away, the vow to *never* turn on the overhead light, THE MEGABED, the roomie showers when we would jam to Ben Rector and take way too long, the most magical off-brand mac and cheese we’ve ever had, the “A” wall, the obnoxious drawings of our friends posted on our door for the whole hall to see, and the five million alarms it took to get us up in the mornings – it will all be loved and missed.  We didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but we always made it work. So, thank you Caroline for being the best first roommate I could possibly have, and for still wanting to be my friend! #longlive330

4E166ED9-59C8-41B4-A6D5-1F6C0851FADC5. Yes, college boys are cuter than high school boys, but chill. There’s no rush. That statement pretty much says it all. Sure, college brings about a brand new dating pool different than the guys you’ve known for the past 13 years. They’re great, but these sweet boys are still trying to figure out who they are away from their parents and have so much growing to do, same as us. Instead of sitting around, wishing and waiting we would meet the perfect guy already, what if us girls used the time in between to become the Godly women our future husbands deserves? So often, I believe girls feel almost entitled to an incredible man because God wouldn’t want anything less than the best for His daughters, right? He does want the best for us, but as the daughters of the King, are we doing our part to grow in our faith and be the incredible women the sons of the King deserve? To me, it seems clear it’s a two-way road. If I expect the guy I’m going to marry to be so enthralled with the Lord and to be growing and obeying His commands, I should be working to do the exact same. There is absolutely no rush, cute boys will always be around, so ladies let’s take this time to become the faithful and strong women of God our incredible future husbands deserve.

6. No one cares who you were in high school; start fresh, be the best version of yourself. College is unique in the fact that no one knows who you are. There may be a handful of people from your high school or a GroupMe you kind of know going into it, but besides them, you are completely unknown to the masses. This can be both terrifying and invigorating, as you can truly be anybody you want to be. Coming from a small town where almost everyone knew either me or someone in my family, it was an odd feeling when “I’m Maddy Ray” meant nothing to people. They didn’t know any of my siblings, my mom wasn’t on the PTA with theirs, and they didn’t grow up next door to my childhood best friend – there were no connections. This blank slate creates such an opportunity to forge your own connections and create the reputation that will be attached to your name all across campus. Nobody really puts value in what happened in high school because we aren’t there any longer, so trying to fall back on the identities you’ve created for yourself won’t hold you up any longer. You can comfortably be 100% yourself, and people will absolutely love you for it, partly because they don’t know any better and partly because the truest version of you is the best version of you.

7. You’ll find people who will quickly become your “family”. Not everyone you meet in college will become a lifelong best friend, but the lifers will definitely come. These are the friends you will call and tell everything to, the friends that will both encourage and challenge you, the people who make you question how you made it through the past 18 years without them. These are the people that will make your first birthday away from home one to remember, and will bring you dinner when you lose track of time in the library. They offer light and love and speak into your life in ways you didn’t know people your age ever could. Companions like these make you do dumb things, like assign everyone a FRIENDS character (I’m Rachel lol) and hold a Friendsgiving before everyone parts ways for a painful 5 days. It sounds so weird because last August they were all strangers to you, but these people are one level higher than the average friend group. They’ve become your family and have helped make college your home.

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8. Make stepping out of your comfort zone a regular activity. So much is new once you move out of everything comfortable and into a place you’re not used to doing life in. It’s a whole new world of experiences, people, and opportunities. Especially the first year, everyone your age is in the same boat of being lost and confused and homesick. I promise you, most people will completely understand and maybe even be grateful if you introduce yourself and sit next to them on the first day of classes. Odds are, they want a friend in class just as much as you do, and it may take you getting out of your comfort zone to make it happen. College was the first time I had ever experienced having to possibly eat a meal alone, and it scared me to death. I can’t tell you how many times during my first semester I took lunch to-go and sat in my room, eating and doing homework by myself. Transitioning from high school and home life to complete independence is so hard, and it will be a lonely road if you never put yourself out there.

9. Life will get busy, but don’t forget the end goal of your studies. You are here to get a degree. Let me say it again for the people in the back, YOU ARE HERE TO GET A DEGREE. Yes, college is fun and there is a multitude of things to do, but don’t forget why you’re here in the first place. So much can get in the way of your studies, such as sorority/fraternity commitments, intramurals, academic clubs, on-campus organizations, and many other things that are good things. After graduation, all of these things will fade away, but your degree – the piece of paper that will propel you into the real world – will stand. If you came in wishing to become a doctor and you’ve stuck with it, then by all means work extra hard to make that God-given dream come true. If you came in undecided, take classes and work hard to decide what you might want to spend the rest of your life doing to bring glory to God. If you came in one major and decided it wasn’t the best option for you, explore all the different possibilities out there to be the best vessel for the Lord in the expansion of His Kingdom. These four years are so much more than studying and libraries and GPAs, but they are the sole foundation for why you stepped foot on this campus in the first place – don’t lose sight of what you came to do.

10. No other time in life will be as unique as right now, enjoy every bit of it. When else in life will we be surrounded by people our own age and it be completely normal? Never. When else in life will we eat with our friends, live with our friends, go to class with our friends, take road trips with our friends, cheer on D1 sports with our friends… okay, do absolutely everything with our friends? Never. This time is so unique and exciting, and no other chapter of our lives will look similar to this one. College is the best and it’s the worst. It’s the most fun and the hardest ever. It’s unmatched. I’m so thankful I have three more years at my incredible university, and I pray they are the slowest moving years of my life. In the beginning I didn’t want to be here, and if I had my way back in August I would’ve spent this entire year across the Atlantic Ocean. I can’t even begin to convey how glad I am God had different plans regarding the “when” of my time in England. I needed to grow, and the Lord is using college and the people there to do it.


can I have some joy with that?

Okay, so this week has literally been one of the busiest weeks of my life, with tests and classes and projects and so many different organizations vying for any spare time I might find myself with. Needless to say, your girl is OVERWHELMED. While it’s so easy to let all of these things push us to the point where we’re sleep deprived, drowning in calculus problems and chemistry labs, (yes I know writing this doesn’t help me study any of those things) there’s just something I’m learning over again, and needed to share.

The other day, I was driving to pick up a friend, and as I was coming up 6th street I saw the lights on the railroad track start flashing. I immediately knew I was going to be late for EVERYTHING. If you know me at all,  you know I usually show up right when I have to and not a moment earlier. This was definitely going to push my “carefully timed” schedule back a bit. As the blockades came down, the car in front of me stopped and parked. The couple inside turned up their music, got out of the car, and started dancing together. They looked to be about fifties or sixties, and they didn’t seem to have a single care in the world. The red lights lit them up just enough for me to see their giant smiles as they twirled and enjoyed each other’s company. At a time when I am usually the most annoyed – shoutout to all the Prosper people forever waiting on the train – this sweet couple chose to use this extra time to be joyful and embrace the time together. I don’t know why it hit me so hard then, but I immediately thought about the last time I just stopped and enjoyed the moment when things didn’t go as planned, and it was harder than I’d care to admit.

I sat there and watched them dance, allowing their joy to wash over me, and part of me really wanted to thank them for allowing me to witness the sweetest moment ever! I know, I need to pull it together, but it seriously y’all. This made my whole week! How often is our default attitude to be negative or put out? We wake up in the morning, automatically dwelling on negative thoughts. I know at least for me, my first words when I wake up are usually complaints about how early it is, how tired I am, or how I really just don’t feel like going to a lecture first thing in the morning. But how many times does the Lord tell us to REJOICE and BE GLAD?  A lot.

The word “joy” actually appears in the Bible 155 times, according to the NIV translation. 155 TIMES!!!!! Y’all, this is part of the fruit our Lord wants us to be inundated with and radiating from our every action and word. Joy is definitely a choice; I challenge you, along with myself, to choose it day in and day out, just as the sweet couple chose it instead of complaining or tapping their watch at the railroad. It’ll take time, it’ll take active reminders and correction from the Spirit, but just think of how different our weeks might look if we daily make the choice to have joy!

why macadamia nuts are the absolute best

IMG_1335.jpgSo a vast majority of people my age are in this weird phase where they call each other “beans”. Don’t ask me why, it’s far beyond my understanding. I’m sure it all started with a meme or a tumblr post, but if I’ve already lost you on what these things mean, don’t even worry about it. In the midst of a long and delirious midnight conversation, Kenzie and I came to the conclusion that we would no longer be beans, but we would be each other’s macadamia nut. They’re far superior to other nuts (ESPECIALLY CASHEWS) and are loved enough to be put into cookies on a regular basis, so they were perfect.

This post isn’t going to be about actual food, so if that’s what you’re reading this for, I’m really sorry to disappoint. These next few paragraphs are going to be about the biggest blessing God has given me since starting Baylor: my best friend, my macadamia nut.

Like any good and strong relationship, our friendship started when Kenzie slid into my DMs before move-in. She had seen my pictures from England, and having a similar heart for Africa, asked if I already had a roommate. Even though I did, we promised to have coffee when we got to college to exchange mission trip stories and get to know each other. Little did we know, the Lord was orchestrating everything in the favor of us both. Fast forward to the first few weeks of school, Kenzie and I quickly realized we were both going pre-med, so we met up a couple times to study together. We shared a little about our stories and journey to Baylor, and had so much in common it was hard to think we didn’t grow up just around the corner from each other. As we got to know each other more and more, it became evident that the Lord had put us in the other’s life for a reason.

The next few weeks were some of the hardest I’ve ever endured, navigating the transition from high school and living at home into the whirlwind of college and complete independence. So much happened, from my first failed test to a Judah & the Lion birthday serenade to when a boy stood me up on a date, and Kenzie was there for all of it, ready to go with an open Bible and gluten-free cookie dough when things got bad. There were many tears and conversations full of threats to give up, but Kenzie always pointed me toward the feet of Jesus and challenged me to check my motivations. The unwavering accountability coupled with genuine kindness was something I was not fully used to in a friendship. I never understood how Meredith Grey could call just one human her “person”, but I do now.

Even though it’s only been a few months, I already KNOW I have a forever friend in Kenzie Chabino. Simply put, she’s the iron that sharpens my iron (Proverbs 27:17). There’s so much joy that comes from a God-given gift, and man, my heart is just exploding with it. People probably look at us and think we’re the weirdest humans on campus, and that might be because we’re playing with our dissected rat’s guts together, but there’s no one that I would rather drive to Dallas *twice* with, just to get a computer fixed. We celebrate victories with jumping around Arbors 901, and feel each sadness, or really any emotion, with gallons of Tea 2 Go. Kenzie pushes me to be a better person, and is the first person I call (after my mom, of course) when anything even slightly newsworthy happens. We talk Bible stories and biology in one sitting, and challenge the other to be well versed in both. #premedprobs? No one else would drive around for hours helping me find “the place” in Waco, order some “soop and salah”from puh-nur-uh, put up with my blaring of Mr. Brightside at least 10 times a day, and worship the heck out of some Lauren Daigle songs while looking at the stars and dream of one day practicing medicine around the world.

I’m not usually a sappy or over emotional person, but I am a thankful one. I’m forever thankful for the Lord’s blessing over this friendship, and that he let me find it so soon in college, because MAN did He know we needed each other! Cheers for Jesus, and cheers for macadamia nuts.

Jesus > sleep

God has really convicted me about some things recently, throughout these past couple of weeks in particular. By writing this, I’m hoping I can share with you what He has been teaching me, because man, is my heart wrecked.

Along with the start of the school year comes new opportunities for events and retreats and ways to get involved at school, in the community, and at church. There are so many options to fill a free minute, and it’s impossible to do it all! (Trust me, I thought about it.) As I thought about what I could spend my *precious* spare time doing, I started looking at each organization or event and asking myself some pretty selfish questions, like: What’s in it for me? How would I benefit from going to this event? Are any of my friends going to this? Is it going to be fun, or even worth going to? Without giving any of these organizations a chance, I based my attendance on what I would be gaining from showing up. I know, I know, it was an absolutely ridiculous way to narrow down the list, but that’s where I was at. My schedule was picking up, my minutes were filled, and I was happy with just trekking through each day. It wasn’t until God snapped me out of my study daze and showed me that this was no way to live.

Someone once told me that if Satan can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy, and I was the busiest. My life had become a list I was content checking at the end of the day. Class – check. Food – check. Homework – check. Study – check. Every so often would I make time or room on the list for genuine, quality time with Jesus OUTSIDE of church and chapel. Uncheck. I need that time with the Lord like I need air, and quite frankly, I was suffocating my soul. I was fully aware of it too, but I played it off and told myself “God would understand”. I would constantly remind myself that He wants me to be a good student, which he does because we’re called to do everything “as for the Lord and not for men…” (Col. 3:23), but definitely not at the expense of our time together. If my relationship with God was a true priority in my life like I proclaimed it was, my schedule and mentality needed to change.

It’s not easy, let me tell you. Especially after studying until the early hours of the morning, waking up earlier than needed does not sound appealing. I had to change my whole demeanor, and remind myself that this time WAS needed. It’s essential to my daily routine now, and not even sleep is more deserving of that time. Almost as if someone had turned a light on, I could see a change in myself immediately. I share this not so that I seem like a better person, but because I feel like I am more able and equipped and ready to be used by the Lord, and truly be a Kingdom impactor. Carving out that time seems mundane and maybe even boring, but can make a world of difference, both figuratively and literally.

full circle

IMG_5638.JPGLess than 24 hours ago, I participated in the most anticipated event of freshman year at Baylor University – I ran in the Baylor Line. This may seem weird or irrelevant to people outside of the university’s beloved tradition, but it was a HUGE deal for me.

Thinking back to my brother’s freshman year at Baylor, I remember going to the Homecoming game and watching him run the line. I stood there in awe of the sea of gold before me, and thought to myself, “This is seriously one of the coolest things I have ever seen!” I was overcome with emotion, and very confused as to why, so I dismissed the feelings and continued to cheer the Bears on to victory with my family. Fast forward about three years, I truly believe watching the line that Saturday was a taste of the home God would make for me in Waco, Texas.

Making my way to Baylor was not the easiest journey, nor was it what I thought I wanted. The summer after my junior year of high school, I interned for UK-USA Ministries in Stockton, Teesside, which is in NE England. Being called to ministry (more specifically, missions), I was over the moon about this opportunity, but I had no idea this internship would radically change my life for the better, and truly shape me into the person I am today. God broke my heart for the people and estate I worked with every single day, and I couldn’t bear thinking about the time I would be forced to fly back to Prosper. God shattered and burdened my soul with his mission and vision for Stockton, and opened doors that made my calling make more sense than it ever had before. I was convinced that going back after high school was the next step for me. My heart ached and longed to be back in England every second I was away. I knew my body made it back to America, but I felt as if I had left my entire heart behind.

Senior year brought college applications and plans of the future, but I wanted to return to Stockton more than anything else. Letters from schools and universities all over the country bombarded our mailbox, begging me to apply, but I didn’t feel right about any of them. I sought out the advice and council of multiple Godly figures in my life, wondering if a gap year or college was a step in the right direction. I was given a multitude of thoughts and opinions, forcing me to get on my knees before God and ask Him what the plan was. College was something I was “supposed” to do, so even though my heart had the strongest pull to England, I school-shopped. I loved everything about Baylor and their mission to grow students first in their relationship with God, and second in their academic knowledge. I applied, still not 100% I was making the right decision, and hoped for the best.

After months and months of praying and seeking the Lord, I came to terms with staying in America for 4 more years, and God affirmed this decision several different times after my revelation. My mom told me it wasn’t a matter of “if” I went back to England, it was a matter of “when”, and I just needed to wait on my “when”. That was the best advice I could’ve heard at the time, because it was two-fold. It meant she knew I was called to England, and supported my ministry completely, but it wasn’t the right timing, so I wouldn’t have her blessing. This was the biggest affirmation of my decision to go to college first, because I think my heart would be ripped to shreds if I ever felt like I had to go against them for any reason.

My acceptance letter came soon after, and seeing my name written on McLane Stadium was the icing on the cake. This was the next step, and although England was never far from my mind, I knew I was making the right decision for me. Yes, I would much rather be applying for a gap year than a university; yes, I would much rather be making plans to move to Stockton instead of Waco; yes, I would much rather be buying cute sweaters instead of warm weather clothes, but the Lord knew my heart and was leading me to Baylor still, so I had to trust that His plans were better than mine (which they always are, duh Maddy).

I am a firm believer that God honors faithfulness, and about a month after I was accepted to Baylor, God opened a door that gave me an opportunity to return back to my home in England for almost 2 weeks. I was so overjoyed and overwhelmed with His faithfulness, I actually cried (which if you know me, you know that tears are a rare entity for me). All I could think of was verse 4 in Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God knew England was the sole desire of my heart, and it was as if he allowed me to go back as a “well done” for being faithful and diligent in the small things. Of course being back brought the flood of emotions pulling me to stay, but I knew deep down it was okay to leave, because I WOULD be back soon. Leaving the second time was harder than the first, but I believe it’s because God has allowed Stockton to become my home. I was at home in England, and I just needed to be away 4 more years. I could do it.

Fast forward another month, and it was move-in day at Baylor University. The whole drive down, I prayed God would reveal to me the reason He chose to keep me in America. Maybe it’s to learn skills I’ll need when I return, maybe it’s to cast His vision to my friends and take some of them back with me, or maybe it’s to meet my husband and move there together. (Can anyone say ring by spring??) Whatever the reason may be, I know it’ll be incredible and far better than anything I could imagine, because He’s able to do “far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), and promises a life “in its fullest” (John 10:10).

Running the line last night made me realize just how thankful I am for Baylor. It took God guiding me to do a 180 to get me here, but dude I am SO glad. The friends I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned IN JUST 2 WEEKS, they’re for life. From watching the line three years ago to running it with my friends last night, I can finally see the full circle of God’s promises and faithfulness.