Glory to God

‘Glory to God!!’
Oct08-3Most people know that I’m a Tar Heel grad.  I attended UNC Chapel Hill for undergrad.  Few people, though, know that I received my Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. Although the campus is located in Marion, IN (about an hour north of Indy), I completed my degree just right across the bridge in New Albany.  It was a great experience because we were in a cohort with the same people throughout the program, all class dates were set in advance and our books were mailed directly to us.  The added bonus was that IWU is a Christian University so we opened every class with prayer.  For once in my life, it was acceptable to be in an educational setting while also discussing your faith.

The only time I went to Marion (previously) was to get my degree in 2002.  I continued to get literature from them over the years.  Sometimes I would glance at the them, other times it went straight to the trash. I enjoyed my experience but I wasn’t able to build that strong attachment.

Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from IWU.  They read some information about me online and wanted to set up a meeting.  Cool.  During the meeting they asked about my life experience and about my passion for helping others.  At the end of the discussion, they let me know that they wanted to honor me with the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award at their Homecoming Banquet.  Me?  Wow!  Big things poppin’!

I drove to Marion to the service both humbled, curious and nervous.  I walked on this beautiful, I mean simply amazing, campus.  What was this all about?  I quickly looked at the program.  Those being honored were two reverends, a chaplain, a Bishop – and ME!  Something just doesn’t seem right.  The program started and God’s presence was definitely in the room.  As they called my name, I walked on the stage and listened to my description.  And then it hit me.  I was being recognized for being one of God’s servants and my dedication to helping others.  A friend of mine helped me realize this in a conversation earlier that week.  He asked about the things I like to do, after discussion he said ‘I see, you really just like people.  Even when you take pictures I can tell you enjoy what you’re doing’.  Indiana Wesleyan University helped me further realize this.  Philippians 4 says: ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’  ‘Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.’  There’s only one word to really say to the experience ‘Amen’!

M.Y. October 2008

In Her Shoes

In Her Shoes

Feb08-4Late last summer, I received a phone call from The Center For Women and Families.  They wanted to honor my mother at their annual “Women of Distinction” banquet and wanted me to accept the award in her memory.  I instantly agreed.  For the next several months I collected various artifacts, pictures and footage of my mother for the video they would compose.  At times it was stressful to think about what she would have wanted said/shown about her for the award.

I didn’t honestly realize the magnitude of the award until a couple of weeks before the presentation.  In the 20 years of the award, my mother was the first woman to be honored posthumously.  If only it were that simple. With talks of her and the wonderful contributions she gave to our society, ALSO came this talk about this fantastic daughter that she has who is following in her footsteps and giving back to the community in her own ways.  During those weeks, with each mention of my mother’s award came words about me and the similar characteristics she and I share.

My uncle drove down from Michigan to be my official escort for the program. I knew I in some way wanted to physically represent my mother at the banquet.  So, I put on a pair of her gold shoes and matched it with her gold earrings.  I was literally in her shoes.  If you know me, you know I’m not one to easily tear up and get emotional.  However, as I stood in front of the thousand seated guests and Denise Troutman-Vasquez made comments about my mother (and then me) I realized that this was the official passing of the torch between my mother and I.  It was an emotional and spiritual moment.  I came close to breaking down in route to the front, but I held my head high with the dignity and grace my mother always showed.

The banquet was beautiful and many of my mother’s closest friends were able to attend.  The video they made of my mother included an interview she recorded less than a month before she died.  I wasn’t sad while watching it, I smiled with pride.  I favorite moment of the video was the footage they showed of she and I doing the electric slide.  Her memory lives on and my life continues.  I would say that I have large shoes to fill, but actually they are just the right size!!!

M.Y. February 2008