I finally made it to the end of my first semester of graduate school. Y’all don’t understand how much of a relief it is to reach this day because many days prior to consisted of stress, anxiety, frustration, and a couple tears. The last few months have been nothing short of mind consuming and I’ve had to seek wise council from a few elders in the program several times. There was one instance where I reached out to a staff member to vent and express my anxieties about the high expectations of the program and my uncertainty with meeting them. She went on to tell me that she graduated from this program several years ago, all the while working full-time and raising 5 kids. I asked her how did she manage everything at once and her response to me was:

“Jesus was my non-negotiable”

I’d be lying if I said tears didn’t form in my eyes for two reasons:

(1) It is always refreshing to see other believers in the program because I am constantly surrounded by self-proclaimed non-believers and it can be very discouraging

(2) She was my affirmation that I quickly forgot who was holding me down throughout this entire academic process

“I never missed a bible study, never missed Sunday service, and I never  stopped tithing. Regardless of everything else I had going on, my relationship with Jesus remained a top priority.”

I was convicted. I had grown so comfortable with the idea that, “I just have so much work to do” within this program that my relationship with Pops slowly but surely made its way to the backseat.

There were many prayers sent up in regards to me pursuing my Social Work degree and not just anywhere, but the #1 Social Work program in the country. There was a time I didn’t even bother looking at brochures for this program because I just knew I wasn’t getting in. I’m here. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of how much of a gift getting an education truly is, and how I need to honor Him in that. Not just a simple “thank you God for this opportunity” but maintaining integrity and honesty with my work, showing up to campus on time and not skipping when I feel like it, putting forth the effort in class, etc.

It’s funny how we can pray and pray and acknowledge Him when we are trying to receive something, and then we receive it and think we’ve arrived. We pray for that child, that house, that car, that job but much like a new car smell, that gratitude fades. We get so caught up in our daily habits and things we deem important that a simple prayer over our food is often looked over and disregarded.

It’s not so much to just be grateful for receiving a blessing but remaining grateful for those blessings in seasons of stress, turmoil, misunderstanding, anxiety, frustration, and hardship. Between graduate school, Addyson, blogging, family life, and my relationship, THEE ONLY THING sustaining me is God. You’ll never hear me say I am self-made because that is everything but the truth. I hear people stress the term “non-negotiable” when it comes to dating or a job…but never when it comes to our faith. If we are to acknowledge Him in the beginning, it is just as essential to acknowledge Him throughout.

I have not done the best job at keeping Pops at the forefront, but seriously, He’s gotta be my non-negotiable and it has to be intentional. My daily reminder to myself is, “Lord, I know you will get the glory in the end BUT I just need to get through the right now.”

With all the accomplishments I’ve had over these past 12 months (which will be in another post), Pops was holding me down the entire time. All credit goes to Him.

Don’t ever forget who put you on…..


God Bless,

Alana Marie

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