Many confuse the terms life and story. They believe their story starts from the moment they take their first breath. I however, disagree. This is when life begins. My life started twenty-two years ago, the moment air entered my lungs and allowed me to breathe. This moment was miraculous to many, considering I made my grand entrance at twenty-five weeks gestation. From this miraculous moment on, those around me were trained to believe I would never achieve much. I would forever be the red-haired, blue-eyed girl who had cerebral palsy and struggled to walk. So “they” thought!

My story , on the other hand, began just five years ago on January 17, 2009. On this day I did something I honestly knew nothing about. I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I was only seventeen years old at the time, and my love for all things music brought me to a Susie McEntire concert in Pennsylvania. Susie was the first person I had ever heard state out loud that Jesus died for me. In my mind, I thought no one could love me that much. Let's be honest, you can physically see my imperfections. Most turned their heads and would act as if my presence were nonexistent; however, on January 17, 2009, Jesus said to me, ‘I won't!'Suddenly, life was more beautiful. A year and eight months later, I moved to Durant, Oklahoma to attend Southeastern Oklahoma State University to pursue a degree in Special Education. I was the first in my family to attend college. The move was a shock to all, and some assumed I would only last six months. I now reside in McAlester, Oklahoma, and my graduation day exceeds me by four months. This journey has taught me that surrender does not come without sacrifice.

Over the duration of the past four years, God has given me several opportunities to work with both Susie and her husband Mark—all of which I am undeserving. It is not every day you get to call your hero a friend. Mark and Susie encourage me almost daily. I can only pray to be a person who not only encourages people, but speaks Jesus into their lives!