I love adding the -ing to this word. It evokes all kinds of notions of good. The word grow stands on neutral ground. Influenced by neither the positive nor the negative, growing just knows it can happen. As wee ones, we do this most naturally. Legs stretch; pants don't. Little becomes past tense and movement upwards seems effortless. Blink-like rapid even.
And today's contributing author has rapidly done just this. She has grown up right before my very eyes. I met this young woman when she was just 5 years old. She has an intenseness about her. Knowledge & connection driven with eyes just waiting for you to tell her more.
I was a little older than the age she is now when we first met. So many summers were spent playing "catch the bride's bouquet" in her backyard swimming pool. We'd take turns being the bride throwing a plastic bundle of flowers into the deep end. Strategy. It was taught. Why, yes. You DO know there's great strategy in increasing your chances at catching that bouquet, right? Concepts like eye contact, proximity and teamwork were practiced at a mere 5 years old.
And on June 8, 2002 our practices were made perfect. The 3rd grader in the front with bright eyes sealed one victorious catch for the bouquet win.
I am honored that I have had the opportunity to watch this young woman grow. She is an individual kind and sensitive, fair and hopeful. She has passion. And heart. A huge one that came from one massive 6'8" offensive lineman for the University of Tennessee Volunteers that would become her Daddy. And she has strength. A reservoir of unbelievable amounts she gleaned from her 4'11' Mama who holds her beautiful own not only in the kitchen, but in life.
This young woman reminds me of hope in my very own growing dreams. She is evidence of the power a great set of parents can have on a daughter. She sees the world with 21 year old eyes for its jadedness as well as its joy. She is courageous in making her very own statement time & again. Her loves are not made actions bound by trend or popular. She efforts her own breathes and owns up to her own glories & gruesome all with the outstanding covering of His grace.
Grow-ing. She most certainly is. Without further ado, please welcome Taylor Raye Daniels.
Whenever I was about to start my freshman year at The University of Tennessee, my parents gave me a CD of songs to take with me on this new journey. The first song on it is “My Wish” by Rascal Flats. There’s a certain verse in the song that has always stood out to me; “you find God’s grace in every mistake.” It stood out so much that I have it painted on a canvas in my bedroom! The past three years haven’t exactly gone as planned. I came to college thinking that I would never change my major, knew the exact career I wanted, had all the friends I needed, and was with the boy I was supposed to marry. Boy….was I wrong!
I would describe junior year as a year of making mistakes but also a year of growth. As I said earlier, I thought I had the perfect plan. Well, this was when that the plan fell completely apart. I ended a three-year relationship and was truly on my own for the first time in at least four years. When I was in high school I was known as the girl who held herself together with such grace. Let’s just say for 75% of last year I did not have my stuff together. Out of every mistake I made, I learned that much more about myself. I learned to grow in His grace. Doing this takes courage and faith, not only in Him, but also in yourself. I took bold chances by ending a relationship that needed to end way before it actually did, changing my major with less than a month left of junior year, and standing up for what I believed in.
Throughout this process, I found some amazing friends along the way. I picture these girls as my bridesmaids and life-long friendships. There’s no doubt in my mind that I found grace in the mistakes that I have made along the journey.
So here I am today. I thought four years ago by this point I would be engaged, president of a sorority, and applying to law school. I’ve turned out to be just a normal college senior, single, and honestly just taking life one day at a day. I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be come graduation in May.
I’m finally at peace that wherever I’m at in my life is the exact place I’m meant to be. God put us here on this crazy ride. We close our eyes never knowing where He will take us next. Learn to grow in His ever-ending grace, love yourself, and take chances. Just by doing that you will start to see yourself as a woman who holds herself with much poise and elegance.
I plan on being the first female president of the United States, until then I’m just a senior at The University of Tennessee majoring in supply chain management with a dual concentration in internal auditing (aka accounting). I love all things football, baking desserts, a good conversation, and a glass of wine after a long day. My best friends describe me as bubbly, courageous, and outgoing.
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