First off, I just want to take a minute to praise God for sending us this beautiful, amazing young woman. Emily has been one of the greatest blessings to our ministry and we couldn’t have done it without her. Thank you Emily for the late nights and for putting up with a million texts. It has truly been a pleasure getting to know you, and I can’t wait to watch as your bright future unfolds. You are beautiful inside and out and wise beyond your years. Congratulations on your graduation… YOU DID IT!
Guest Post From (Our Amazing Intern) Emily Oulton:
I’ve always had a lot of faith. I grew up going to a religious school, saying my prayers every night, and attending mass every Sunday and on Holy days. When I began college, however, I became distant with the Church and with God. Sure I sent up the occasional prayers, but I only attended mass when I was home with my family or on Holy days such as Christmas, Ash Wednesday, or Easter. It’s not that I lost my faith, it’s just for some reason I wasn’t drawn to it like I used to be. Maybe I got ‘too busy’ and caught up in my own daily routine, maybe there was a deeper reason behind it. I’m not really sure to this day. But what I do know, is as the years went by and tough times approached me I consistently thought to myself, “Maybe I should go to church — that’ll probably help,” but I never went. I was unsure if God would forgive me for pushing Him to the side so often for so long.
Fast-forward three and a half years. That’s right, my second semester of my senior year. This is around the time the anxiety of graduation approaching begins to settle in. No plans for after graduation yet? Better figure it out. Don’t know where you want to be in 10 years? Think about it. Where are you living, what are you going to do, how much are you going to make, when will you be moving etc. The questions go on and on and all I could think about is how I was going to find my dream job that pays well, ace this next paper, meet with my group, study for three tests, and get enough sleep to function. My personal life was also going through its own ups and downs as well. A friend of mine had just passed away and I had a very hard time processing it. The thought of going to sit in church went through my head again and as usual, I brushed it aside. The next day I met Heather Shipley.
Heather asked me if I would be interested in volunteering with Craving God after we met for a separate reason. I wasn’t sure at first since I knew I hadn’t been that close with God recently. Was I really worthy to be working with a ministry? Despite my hesitations, I felt a strong pull inside me to accept the opportunity and so I did. Next thing I knew; I was sitting at a meeting surrounded by the contributors of Craving God. I felt a fire inside me listening to these women make plans for the ministry and tell stories. They welcomed me with open arms and when we began prayers and praises, it hit me that they were going to make an impact on me.
My position with Craving God is to proof read, publish, and create a graphic for each post. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time with each individual post before it launches giving me time to digest the message in it. More often than not, something happens in my day that directly relates to the post. One day as I had just finished prepping a post for launch, I had been texting Heather and told her, “your posts have all had some sort of tie into things happening in my life in a weird (but amazing) way. This has been exactly what I needed.”
She responded, “God is amazing like that. Nothing weird about it.”
It suddenly hit me and I felt so dumb at the time. The pull to say yes, the fire that lit inside me at the first meeting with the contributors, the posts containing bible verses and messages that inspired me and tied in so perfectly with my day. All of it was God working, bringing me back to Him.
“Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit- inspired messages but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-21
My anxieties and pressures began to weigh less because I began to work with God’s plan instead of against it. I wasn’t hesitant to go to Him anymore because I was reminded that even when I push Him to the side, He is waiting for me with open arms. I began going to church again and continue to pray daily. I started the Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young my mom got me for Christmas two years ago and have a journal with phrases and bible verses that stand out to me. I am more at ease about the demands of this last semester as well as the uncertainties that lie ahead because I am reminded each day that God is by my side and I can handle all that comes my way.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” Proverbs 31:25
To me, this ministry and these women mean much more than I had ever thought they would. I didn’t know how much I was craving God until they were brought to me. They are a daily reminder of God’s goodness and make me think a little harder about what I am doing each day to bring myself and others closer to Him. They inspire me to be more positive because everything happens according to His plan. I have learned through Craving God that there is a plan for me, even when I am unsure of it. I have learned that there is no need to be afraid of God for He will always forgive me. I have learned that everyone has their story and it is up to you to choose how you want that story to impact your life. They have taught me so much and I am looking forward to see what is to come.
“Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us” Ephesians 3:20
And to those who are about to embark on their college years or are currently there, here are some of the lessons I have learned along the way:
- Take advantage of each opportunity that comes your way, even if you don’t think your qualified. The only thing holding you back is you so get out of your own way.
- Take some time to yourself each day to get away from the busy schedules and talk to God.
- You are not defined by a number- whether it is on a scale, a report card, or your member number in an organization. You are defined by your character and how you impact those around you.
- Take the time to find yourself during these years- I may not have found myself completely, but I am a lot closer because of the experiences I took advantage of and the lessons I have learned.
- Find good friends. It is not the quantity of those around you, but the quality. You may not find them on the first day of school, but don’t worry in time you will find each other. Surround yourself with people who will lift you higher and be there when you need them. I could not imagine getting through the past four years without my friends, even the ones at other universities across the country.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously- remember to have a little fun and make memories that will last a lifetime.
- Get out of your comfort zone every so often- exciting things can happen.