Three years ago today, I started this blog. At first, it was a weekly thing where I would post about topics every seven days about what the Lord was showing me. Over time, I have blogged less and less. My last blog post was in August of last year. Although, it’s been a while since my last post, God has revealed His majesty to me time and time again. So with that, here is my first blog post of 2018.

For a few months, I have wanted to write this post as a reflection of the past year. I wanted to share about the good and the bad, and how I have pushed myself to rejoice in God’s goodness in each of those moments. This is something that has been true in my walk with Christ for some time. I have witnessed moments of pure joy and moments that were quite the opposite. In each circumstance, I have desired to do one thing, and that is to trust that God is sovereign.

God has a plan for each of our lives. He is the Sovereign King who knows how many hairs are on our head, how many grains of sand are on this planet, and how many atoms make up the vastness of the never-ending universe. Sometimes our plans don’t always pan out the way we had hoped. Take it from me. When I was in the 5th grade, I told one of my all-time favorite teachers, Mrs. Ross (now Mrs. Standridge), that I wanted to be a tap-dancing evangelist. Needless to say, those plans have changed. About a year and a half ago, I wanted to pursue a PhD in Political Science. That ended when I thought God was calling me to go to seminary. And that ended when I realized… NOPE… God was calling me to a life of teaching. Knowing how awesome God’s plans are, that can still change, however little the change or however dramatic the change.

2017 reminded me quite often that God is sovereign. There were certainly some trials and sad moments along the way. Last year, my Dad was battling cancer after having beaten it multiple times already. There were a few funerals I attended of people close to me. And in the beginning of the year, I was still struggling with what my future was going to look like. In each of those moments, God reminded me that He has been in control, He is in control, and He will always be in control.

I was reminded of God’s goodness when He surrounded me with Christ-like people along the way. When I lost loved ones, scores of people encouraged me in person and through social media. When I found out that Dad’s cancer came back, the BSM director prayed with me that night. The same night, 4 other friends prayed with me after we worshipped together under the starry sky. Throughout my life, as my plans continually changed in accordance with God’s plan for my life, countless people have encouraged me along the way.

While there were sad moments, 2017 also afforded me with joyous moments, and in these moments, God reminded me again and again that He is sovereign. I student-taught some awesome kids at my old high school, witnessed friends graduate, graduated myself, got a teaching job, and watched countless football games with friends and family. One of the best highlights was meeting up with some friends for the 2017 NCAA Division III Football National Championship game between Mary Hardin-Baylor and Mount Union after having travelled for about 1400 miles through the Deep South with my Superman Dad. Side note, Huey Lewis and AC/DC make great additions to any road trip playlist! After my alma mater’s team lost, they tweeted a verse that emphasizes that God is truly sovereign.

Even if things don’t go your way, remember that God is still good!

Like any other year, 2017 had moments of joy, happiness, excitement, sadness, and disappointment. Since a new cancer spot appeared on my Dad’s lung, it has since shrunk to the point that there really isn’t anything left. While I have delighted in the opportunity God gave me in my first year of teaching, I have shed tears for each of my students because of how much I care about seeing them strive to reach their fullest potential. I have also rejoiced with them and have encouraged them when they have received those “lightbulb” moments and when they have shared the good things happening in their lives.

2017 also reminded me that there is still so much darkness in our world. Natural disasters ravaged parts of Texas, Florida, Montana, California, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Mexico, and South Asia just to name a few. Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Christians in the Middle East are being persecuted, hate marches took place in Virginia, innocents were murdered at music festivals and in places of worship, homelessness still exists, human trafficking still exists, sexual assault still exists, and many children in the United States and around the world still don’t have quality access to a good education.

While I don’t have all the answers, while I don’t know for sure why bad things happen, and while I strive to become a voice for the voiceless, I still trust that God is sovereign. Even in the midst of tragedy, I am reminded of the goodness that humanity has the potential to display. When I see communities rally together to help those affected by hurricanes and fires, teachers advocating for the needs of their students and their schools, men and women empowering victims of sexual assault, religious leaders speaking out against racism and hate, and others raising awareness to those escaping war, famine, violence, and trafficking, I am reminded that there is always light in the midst of darkness.

No matter the circumstances in my life or in the lives of others around this world, I trust that God is sovereign. I trust that He has a plan. I trust in the promise that one day all nations will bow at the feet of a loving Heavenly Father and will rejoice in Christ the King.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.

13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

– Revelation 7:9-17 (NIV)

2017 reminded me, just as I know 2018 will continue to remind me, that no matter what comes in this life, good or bad, I serve a mighty God, and that all who believe in Him will one day rejoice with Him for all eternity. This is my hope. This is my prayer. That we learn to trust in God’s sovereignty!

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 10 Feb. 2018.

Sovereign by Chris Tomlin

Trust in You by Lauren Daigle

The Plans God Has for Me

If I were to summarize the past year or so in one word, that word would be trust. As I have learned time and time again, it’s that oftentimes, God says no to your plans, and occasionally, you have to wait and wait and wait for His plans to be revealed. In the midst of all of these changed plans, I have learned to trust that God’s plan would be revealed to me at the proper time, and that his plans are always greater than any plan I had on my own.

Around this time last year, I just knew that I would graduate from UMHB and go on to pursue a PhD in Political Science. That is what I wanted, and that is what I worked to achieve since before I even graduated from high school. I did all of the right research. I narrowed my list down to a handful of universities, the top one being Baylor. I met with professors, graduate students, was given tours of the campus. I was all but certain that this is what I wanted to pursue and eventually become a college professor.

Then I signed up for the GRE. I thought to myself, “I’ve got this.” After all, I had not made anything lower than an A in college. Taking tests was what I was good at, however, as I studied and prepared, I began to question if pursuing a doctorate was what I really wanted to do. I realize now that God was trying to show me that He had different plans for me, but of course, I did not want to listen. I was determined to get a PhD in Political Science. Even as I was stressing over the GRE, failing each practice exam, I thought that surely someone would take me even with low scores, or maybe, just maybe, the actual test would be easier. Then I took the GRE.

I failed miserably. I told myself, well I still have time for a few more tries before application deadlines. It wasn’t until after I met with a graduate professor that I realized God was saying to me, “You’re not going to get a PhD in Political Science.”

I was disheartened. After everything I had been working towards for the previous 5 years, I finally realized that God had different plans for me. Even though I was uncertain as to what these plans would be, I decided to trust in God and to finally give up trying to think that my plans were better than His.

Later that day, after meeting up with a friend who attends Truett Seminary at Baylor before learning all there was to know about the seminary, I thought God was radically changing my plans and calling me to go to seminary. I visited again multiple times, filled out all of the paperwork, and I told everyone of God revealing to me that He was calling me into ministry. I told people that I wanted to become a youth or college minister while also teaching at a public school. I thought for sure that God had revealed His plans for me.

Then, in December, the decision came. The answer was no. I would not be attending seminary the following fall semester (what would have been this upcoming academic term). For a few more months, my future seemed uncertain.

Then, I had the opportunity to be a student teacher at Florence High School, the same high school I graduated from nearly 5 years earlier. It was an absolute blast. The lesson plans, the projects, the interactions with students, and so many other aspects of teaching gave me so much excitement. It gave me a purpose beyond my own ambitions in that I was able to teach, encourage, and pour into the lives of young people.

During my time at FHS, I realized that this is what God wanted me to do, and that was to find a full-time teaching position, and devote my time solely to educating young people. Instead of teaching after getting a PhD in Political Science, thereby being both a college professor and a part-time public education teacher, instead of becoming a youth or college minister on top of being a school teacher, God revealed to me that He wanted me to devote all of my occupational time to showing His love to others by educating young people. I also realized that I didn’t have to attend seminary in order to do ministry. I could be an integral part of my church regardless.

After much job searching, I was recently hired to teach at Georgetown High School as a Social Studies Resource/Inclusion teacher. I could not be more thrilled about this opportunity. Through God’s faithfulness and infinite wisdom, I know now that this is the plan God has for me. I’m not saying that these plans can’t or won’t change, because I have learned that God is capable of doing anything for His glory. What I am saying is that God has shown me what His current plans are for my life in this moment. These plans did not include a PhD, and I’m okay with that. These plans did not include an MDiv at Seminary, and I’m okay with that. These plans DID include me becoming a teacher at GHS, and I am beyond excited! It is my hope that I will be teaching for years to come, especially at this wonderful campus, because I truly believe that God has called me to this place, to engage, encourage, inspire, and pour into the lives of my students so that they know that there is no limit to what they can achieve.

As I prepare for the upcoming year, ever mindful of God’s faithfulness, I am encouraged by so many as I embark on this next chapter in life. It is my goal that students know that Mr. Stewart is not only there for a paycheck, but he is there to challenge them, to encourage them, to meet their needs, to help them grow, and to help guide them along their educational journey. I strongly advocate the position that every child has the ability to learn and make a difference. I truly believe that every kid, in their own way, can truly change the world!

Some words of encouragement:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace! – Acts 20:24

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. – Colossians 2:2-3

I was just told no, and I’m okay with that!

If you have been around me at all the past several months, you have probably heard me tell you about all the exciting plans I have. I just finished my last semester of classes as an undergrad at UMHB, I’m about to student teach back home in Florence, and then my plans were to go to seminary.

Not one bit of me will question God’s judgment in the plans He has for my future. Earlier this semester, He dramatically changed my desire from wanting to pursue a PhD in Political Science to a MDiv at Seminary. I thought that perhaps I finally discovered God’s will in my life. I am learning however, that I still don’t know for sure what my future holds, but His ultimate will for my life is to continually follow Him down any path He takes me.

Earlier today, I finally received feedback on the admissions process from Truett Seminary, where I thought I would be going after graduating from UMHB. In their discernment, the answer was “not at this time.” For a few minutes, I was overwhelmed with disappointment as I thought that it was certain, with my GPA, ministry experience, and my passions, that I would be accepted. As of now, however, seminary will not be in my immediate plans after graduation.

Although disappointed at first with their answer, I quickly became okay with it. As I did when I was pursuing the idea of a PhD in Political Science, I thought I knew what my plans were. I thought this is where God called me to be. And perhaps, He will at some point. And maybe He won’t. I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that I fully trust in whatever plans He has for me.

While I may not be going to seminary in the Fall of 2017, this doesn’t mean I can’t serve God by serving others. I have learned over time that God was calling me to ditch my plans for grad school in Political Science, as I have fallen more and more in love with in engaging and ministering to young people. God has blessed me with so many opportunities during my time at UMHB. I have been able to help organize Worship in the Quad for the past 3 1/2 years while encouraging students to share their testimonies as living examples of God’s great love, power, and grace. I have also had the opportunity to be a Cru Leader for the past 2 years, as I have been able to mentor these students, and now as I see them become excited about their success, my heart leaps for joy with them. These experiences and others have established in me the desire to uplift and encourage young people on a full-time basis.

When I was pursuing the Political Science PhD option, I had the desire to bring with me Worship in the Quad to any campus I went to. I also wanted to get plugged in with the BSM and other local ministries so that I could engage and pour into college students. It wasn’t until several years of these ideas that I realized that a PhD in Political Science was not for me.

The desire to engage young people is still a desire deep within me, and while I thought I would be doing this through going to seminary next year, I won’t be. As I am praying and discerning about my future plans, God may still have me going to seminary at some other point in the future. Yet if He doesn’t, I will be content with never pursuing seminary as long as I am pursuing Him.

In the meantime, I will student teaching next semester in the school district I spent 12 years of my life in. After I graduate in May, I will be certified to teach Social Studies anywhere in the State of Texas. And you know what? I couldn’t be more excited. Why am I excited? I don’t know what my plans are at this point, but I am excited because I know God will direct my steps. I will give everything I have in student teaching next semester, and if God blesses me with a teaching job after graduation, I will dedicate all my energy into pouring into the lives of my students. I want them to know how much I care for them. I want them to know that no matter what they set their hearts and minds to, they can achieve their wildest dreams.

To my future students, you may not know me yet, but I am here for you. I love and care for you. Whatever goals you have in life, pursue them and never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams. I am achieving my dreams, because my dreams are to pursue God and to encourage and lead others in knowing how great the God I serve truly is.

And to my beloved university, I do not have sufficient words to describe how much I love the support you have given me. I love UMHB. I love the faculty, the staff, and the many friends I’ve made.

So with God in my corner, into the future I will go, with faithfulness and devotion, to you my Purple, White, and Gold!

Some words of encouragement:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace! – Acts 20:24

Lost your hair? Buy hats!

One thing I absolutely love about my Dad is that he always seems to put things into perspective for me. The last few weeks have been full of stress for me, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stress can certainly be good stress. Nonetheless, it seems like I have constantly been moving the past few weeks as I have tried to manage both personal and academic life.

A few weeks ago, I went home and for the first time in my life, I saw my Dad with no hair. He welcomed me with a hug and a smile, and with his spontaneity and witty sense of humor, he asked me, “Like my new hairdo?” I just smiled and said “of course!”

As he was losing his hair the few weeks prior to this, because of chemotherapy, there were times when he would say, “It’s not a big deal,” and yet the fact that it was different, completely foreign to him, made it sometimes seem like a big deal.

Through all of this, I found myself constantly encouraging him, assuring him that he will still be his same lovable, strong, compassionate self, with or without hair. Then, a few days later, he told me, “You know what? I’m not going to let this keep me down. It’s just hair. In the grand scheme of things, God is bigger than all of this, and he can use me regardless of whether or not I have hair. So why worry over something insignificant like hair?”

Dad has recently shown me that things happen. Life happens. Big things, small things, they just happen. In the midst of all these things, why not praise God and glorify His name? Why not proclaim to the whole world what Christ is doing in our lives? Why not show that nothing will keep us from His love and that nothing will deter us from Him?

After telling me that he wasn’t going to let losing his hair keep him from rejoicing in God, he said, “You know what? I’m going to have fun with this. I’m going to buy really cool caps. Let’s order some right now!” At this point, Dad was turning his outlook around. Instead of dwelling on not having hair, he decided that he would get excited about it since it would give him an excuse to buy new hats!

So that’s what we did. We bought him several caps, a Houston Texans one, a Dallas Cowboys one, a Baylor Bear one, a Texas A&M Aggie one, plus he already had several Texas Longhorn ones. I also bought him one with a Superman logo on it, since after all, he is my Superman. In all the fun of this, I also bought some caps to add to my collection, an Aggie and a Longhorn one in addition to the Baylor one I already had.

I had a blast, in the midst of all the excitement, by spending time with Dad looking at all the options we had for new hats. There were so many! It made me realize this: We can let the small things such as academic stress or not having hair keep us down and keep us from praising God or we can glorify Him and thank Him for these circumstances by finding ways to become positive in the midst of our trials.

Because while things change, while new things pop up in our lives, such as “Boom! You have no hair,” one thing stays the same, and that is the love of Christ. I thought more about this as I returned to school today after a great weekend with Dad, consisting of a Friends marathon (almost done with season 6) and lots and lots of football. On my way here, two songs, played by K-Love, really stuck out to me. One of them was “Your Love Never Fails” sung by the Newsboys.

Nothing can separate
Even if I run away
Your love never fails

I know I still make mistakes
You have new mercy for me everyday
‘Cause Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night
But joy comes in the morning

The wind is strong and the water’s deep
I’m not alone here in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails

The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I’d reach the other side
Your love never fails


And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails

You make all things work together for my good
You make all things work together for my good


And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails

I absolutely love everything about this song, because it speaks volumes of truth. Christ really does stay the same through the ages, for all eternity, always the same, never changing. He has so much love for us. It’s more than love, it’s agape love, meaning unconditional, everlasting, never changing, completely selfless love. No matter what we face, His love never fails. No matter what happens, big or small, even the loss of hair, He truly makes all things work together for His glory!

The very next song was by Stephen Curtis Chapman called “Glorious Unfolding,” a song that reminds me that our stories are still being written. Everything that is happening and will happen can be used for the glory of God if we allow Him to guide us. I love the chorus to this song:

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and SEE and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

Our stories are still unfolding! As new things happen, both good and bad, may we always find ways to use those circumstances for His glory. If He makes all things work together for our good, if our stories are still being written, then why can’t we use the small things such as losing our hair to show others what God is doing in our lives?

All of these new and sometimes scary things can be used to share His love with others. These new things can work for His glory in building His Kingdom! Isaiah 43:18-19 says this: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (NIV).

Don’t let your circumstances keep you from focusing on the Glory of God. Can you not see that He is writing your testimony, that He is going before you, that He will always be there with you, that He makes all things work together for our good!? God is constantly doing a new thing in our lives. Let’s use these things to constantly glorify Him and show others how He is changing our lives!

So if you lose your hair, buy some hats! AND PRAISE HIS NAME!

Chapman, Steven Curtis, 2013. “Glorious Unfolding.” K-Love. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Newsboys. Your Love Never Fails. By Anthony Skinner and Chris McClarney, 2011. K-Love. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Your Love Never Fails by the Newsboys

Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman