- Filled with excitement, I started my first semester at Regent University (as technical Junior, since I transferred). It was the first time I lived away from home, in my own on-campus apartment with two roommates. A big adjustment for a homebody like me! But I settled in, excited to be doing something new and to actually have the chance to study what I loved--theater--instead of the required general classes at community college. My first classes this semester were Movement for the Stage, Stagecraft, Playwrighting, and Making of a Christian Mind, a Biblical aimed requirement. Things went okay at first. I was required to work 20 hours in the scene shop where they built sets as part of my class, which is totally out of my comfort zone. Only a couple of weeks into school, an incident in the scene shop caused me to struggle with fear for a while. Also, there werea couple other incidents at school that were scary. I lost my grandparents at the end of 2015 and 2016 respectively, so being away form my family when stuff was happening made it even harder.
- I auditioned for my first college show at the beginning of the year (didn't get cast, but I was new and hadn't taken any college level acting classes yet). I did get callbacks, which was pretty cool.
- I passed with all A's in my first semester! I also found a friend to be my roommate for the next semester. And I wrote my first play, a ten minute called Three's a Crowd.
- Near the end of the semester I also auditioned through video for Addams Family the Musical and was cast in the awesomely challenging part of Alice Beineke. I also worked the spotlight for the school's production of Oklahoma!
- I finally got to go home and enjoy being with my family and getting to bond with my show family in the role of Alice. My parents left for Florida about a month after I got back to visit with my sister and be there with her when she had her baby. I wish I'd hugged my Dad longer.
- I continued to rehearse and whatnot. One day on the way to rehearsal I called my mom and eventually got news that my dad was in trouble. We left rehearsal early and eventually my brothers and I decided we needed to travel to get there because he'd had a cardiac arrest.
- I stayed in the hospital nearly every day from the end of June till July 11, sleeping there with my mom, waiting for my Dad to wake up. Praying hard. He didn't wake up, but the time I spent there was good. I hope that he could see me there and that I cared even though I hadn't seen him for a month. My dad passed away that day. I had to drop the role of Alice. It was a hard thing for me because I'd never dropped from a show before and I had put in preparation I wanted to see in performance. But it was harder to lose my dad. I don't think people really understand loss until they've experienced it. I feel like I can relate to so many who are grieving now. I lost my Mammaw, my Pappaw, and my Dad less than two years apart. It hurts so badly sometimes, but at the same time I know I have a witness and an opportunity to encourage others who have felt loss.
- I really felt the desire to go to my church's youth camp, so I did a few days after the funeral. It was a great blessing to me and I was able to pour my heart out in the altar. When I returned, my mom and I got back on a plane to see my new niece, Hannah. I was an aunt again! A moment of joy.
- I went back to school and the next semester brought new challenges. I had more auditions, more callbacks, performed in one show, joined my first club (Sketcherz Comedy), and even had the awesome opportunity to perform What Child is This in the first ever Christmas Concert. I grew as an actor and realized just how far I still had to go. Thankfully, I once again received all A's. The semester was one of the hardest things I've experienced. I'm so glad I have Jesus because there were days when life's weight seemed to crush down on me with grief and despair. But because of Him I can walk through the fires and come out stronger in the end.
- Once home, God opened up more doors for me to minister in song. I sang a Christmas set for a club (my first paid performance) and helped my family with a Christmas themed church singing. I hope to continue using my voice to praise the Lord because there is always joy when you lay your heart down in worship.
- I got to spend Christmas with my mom's side of the family in the first time in a long time, eating Christmas dinner with my Papa and Grandma Jane. I loved being with and seeing all of my family on that side.
- When we returned home my sister and family arrived for our own family Christmas. They stayed for a few days and we spent time together and opened (mostly watched the kids open) lots of presents. There were roaring dinosaurs, mounds of playdough, and chew toys for all. Also books and a game for me thanks to lovely family members.
I've taken part in the One Word 365 challenge before. Once my word was dream, a word full of excitement for future expectation. I still dream, but I want my dreams to always be those that God has placed in me. This year, because it has been something I have struggled so much with in 2017, my word will be TRUST. God is my solid foundation that I can lean on and trust. I want to relinquish to him my worries, my stress, my sorrows, and thoughts of my future, whether academic, romantic, writing, or otherwise. He knows every thought and desire within me, and He never fails. In 2018 I want to Trust. It's a scary thing, but so necessary.
2017, you were not my favorite year, you will probably not be my least favorite year, but you were a year of learning, a year of good and bad, a year that has taught me that I must lean on God for support, and that is why in 2018 I will trust.
God bless. Happy New Year!