Last May, my mom sent me a link to a scholarship that she wanted me to apply for. The theme of the scholarship was to write a 1500 word (or less) essay describing when you found out the true meaning of Love. I contemplated for a minute because I wasn't really sure whenever I really "found out" the true meaning, but as I started writing, it just started to come to me. The letter goes as follows......

 
 
 
 
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Church this past sunday was amazing. God definitely showed up and showed out that. Bible study last night was amazing as well.He talked about the steps of Christian Formation: intentions of having Christ like characters from the inside out. I felt his presence and I felt amazing after leaving church both days. I feel amazing after leaving church anytime I go. The only problem with that is, the other five days when I am not sitting in between the four walls of Urban Empowerment and getting the word, the fire inside of me slowly but surely dies out. Don't get me wrong. I love God; I praise him every morning and everynight, with several praises in between the day; I'm even starting to make time to read the word a lot more often. But as the fire dies, I find it so easy for outside factors to distract me; I become easily angered over things that I pray will no longer affect me; I put God's will on the back-burner because I THINK school and my job are what's important for RIGHT NOW. I feel like I can just re-up on Sunday and Wednesday so I will be fine. I've felt this way for a long time, but I know that is beyond wrong. 


 
 
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It's been a little over two months since this incident. My little brother Jamaal, who was attending a party in Little Rock, Arkansas on April 1, was shot in his chest by a stray bullet following a random fight in the parking lot. It was only by God's grace and mercy over his life that his life was spared in he is still here today. It still baffles me to this day. I was in Chicago with my cousin just visiting for the weekend. We would be leaving that sunday, April 1, to head back to St. Louis. I had to be back in Columbia for school on Monday. He sent me a text around 5:30 in the morning and I felt my phone vibrate because it was under my pillow. I think I read it but I was half sleep so I wasn't really paying attention and put the phone back under my pillow. I finally woke up around 9 and checked my phone again. In fact he did text me.

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I immediately knew something was wrong just by him telling me that he loved me. I mean he is my brother, so of course we love each other. We just never been the type of siblings to randomly tell each other that. After reciprocating the gesture, I anticipated another response because I knew there was more. "I got shot" was what I read. No more texting. This isn't a texting type of conversation so I called him. He answered and told me the story. He was at a party; he witnessed a fight; he felt a bullet graze him (or thought grazed him); felt the hole where the bullet went in and blood run down his fingers; walked back into the party; then he passed out. I'm so thankful for his friend Jordan, who found Jamaal slumped over inside the party and carried him back outside because the cowardly shooters found their way back inside the party and decided to continue shooting.


 
 
As of yesterday morning, I officially became a member of Urban Empowerment (Church here in Columbia). This is my very first church home that I've ever had. This is a big deal to me (even though I still have to complete the new membership class...but I digress). I've been going there for sometime now. Popping in a few times back in 2008 (my freshman year) and more and more these past two semesters. I'm still learning people's names, even though I know their faces, and am enamored by the choir. Both Bishop and Pastor Woods are two wonderful individuals who, without knowing, kept pulling on my heartstrings to join the church. Many members have already fell in love with Addyson and she loves playing with the other kids in the Children Playroom. 

I've toyed around with religion for a while now. Church-hopping from Jehovah Witness as a young child, my grandmothers church on holidays, and my friend's church whenever they would invite me. I was never attending for the sake of getting a word or changing lifestyles. I was never there to form relationships with others who were mature in Christ and could help me. I was just...there. The older I got, things started to make sense to me, but not enough for me to want to make it a habit. As soon as I stepped out of the four walls of the church, I was back at where I was prior to ever walking in. Even when I began attending UE. I felt like everytime I stepped in the church, the word was tailored towards my specific situation. Both Bishop and Pastor Woods had a way of connecting with youth; preparing their message to relate to the youth so it would make sense to us. I would go to the alter; I would cry when a word twinged in my spirit; I would be on fire when I left. But as soon as Monday came around and I had other "obligations," that word no longer lingered in me. I got tired of that feeling. I would surround myself in negative situations with negative people, and in the pit of my stomach, I always knew I just didn't belong. I was never at ease. I would always feel guilty after doing things I knew I wasn't supposed to. I was tired of feeling like that. Then I remembered the feeling I would get whenever I was on fire for God. Whenever I would talk to him and seek his guidance and the warm sensation that would pour over me. I always want that feeling. Not just on Sundays at church or Wednesdays at Bible Study. I want to have that feeling even in my darkest hours because I know ultimately God has my back and whatever I am going through, it is not bigger than God. I want that massive amount of faith. So finally, after 21 years of playing around, I decided to dedicate myself to this church. I have yet to be baptized but it is coming next. I am held accountable now, which is fine. The same feeling I get when I know I have class on Monday or an assignment due on Tuesday, I want to feel that way about God. God is waiting to talk to me so I have to go and make time for him. Same scenario. I am very blessed and excited to become apart of this family. :) 
 
 
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In reference to this time in my life, I always consider this as the best day of my life. I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl and the feeling that came over me to this day is unexplainable. As in love as I became with my daughter that day, I was still unhappy. I had a horrible pregnancy and became postpartum shortly after. I loved Addyson...I just disliked my role as a mother: the responsibilities that came along with being a mother. The thought of someone else's life being dependent on me was SCARY. What if something happened?? Then the ending result would squarely be on my shoulders and that was something I couldn't wrap my mind around. "I'm only 19" is all I kept saying to myself. I was 18 when I decided to create this life so therefore I was old enough to raise it..basically. 

The decision to make Addyson wasn't mistake, as most young parents like to say. Her father and I mutually made the decision to make her without even thinking. We weren't thinking. We both were attending two different colleges and after meeting up back at home over winter break, Addyson was made.