Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Short Version:

I will not be attending LSU Baton Rouge in the fall.  Instead, I am going to stay in Shreveport and go to LSUS in order to get a degree and save money so I can…wait for it… move to Sydney, Australia and go to Hillsong College!

Long Version:

I have wanted to go to LSU Baton Rouge for my entire life.  I mean, of course, I was raised in a culture drenched in purple and gold.  My grandfather tried to have my first words be the words to the LSU fight song rather than the usual “dada” and “mama.”  About two years ago I realized that my life has a very specific call to the ministry, and so I began to look into other options.  Long story short, nothing panned out, however, when people would ask me where I plan on attending college, my answer was, “I’m not really sure.  Really just wherever the Lord tells me to go.”  Senior year got here way faster than I had anticipated.  All of a sudden, all my friends were applying to the colleges of their choice, getting accepted, applying for housing, and making plans with future roommates, and there I was: no idea where I was to attend and definitely no plans for anything beyond that.  It was decision making time, though!  Eventually, I bit the bullet and just decided on my fallback option: LSU (which was not a bad option! In fact, it was quite exciting!).

Around October, a good friend of mine and I were running errands around town one day and she asked the question. “Elles, I’ve noticed lately that when people ask you where you are going to college you say LSU…”
“Yes… and?”
“Well, I just thought that LSU was your fallback option.”
“Well it is… and I’m falling back.  I haven’t received any clear direction about where I am SUPPOSED to be, so I just made a decision.”

My friend basically went on to say that is was not a bad thing to start planning and walking down that path, but to continue to seek the will of the Lord so that if He wanted me to change paths at some point in the future that I would hear His voice and be obedient.  She also said that she really thought that the Lord was going to bring an option out of the woodwork that I had never heard of or considered, but that it would without a doubt be the place for me.

Fast forward to February and the Lord introduced me to the idea of Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia.  I knew absolutely nothing about the college at the time, but through prayer and a couple conversations with close friends, it became apparent that this was an option I really needed to consider.  The friend who had originally questioned my declaration about LSU turned to me and said, “Elles, this is the best option we have talked about for you in two years.”  Two days after I started praying about it, I knew that I needed to at least talk to my parents and put it up to them whether to consider it or shut it down.  I talked to my dad first, (if you do not know, I have been raised by a military man who greatly values structure and has had a specific vision of my future since day one) and it went way better than I anticipated.  He then talked to my mom and later in the week the three of us sat down and discussed it.  By the beginning of the next week, they asked me to meet with my pastor, meet with their pastor, and create a spreadsheet comparing the cost of LSU/life in Baton Rouge to HILC (Hillsong International Leadership College)/life in Sydney.  I met with both pastors that week and both meetings went extremely well.  I met nothing but encouragement, prayers, and sound advice.  (If anything throughout this process, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of the people of authority in my life more than ever before.)  I created the spreadsheet my parents asked for as well.  At the end of that week, my parents and I sat down again to discuss what the next step in the process would be.  My dad blessed me and paid the application fee for me to apply to HILC.  

After about another week of prayer, my parents sat me down and let me know they had come to a conclusion concerning my college plans.  They said that they appreciate that I am hearing from the Lord as to the direction in which my life is headed, and that they have known for quite some time that I am called to a different life than most.  The decision reached is that they will, in fact, allow me to attend Hillsong College and help me pay for it, but there are two conditions.  The first condition is that I would stay and get a secular degree first.  The second condition is that I come up with (through fundraising, scholarships,and working) $20,000 before I leave for Australia.  This left me with pretty much two options: 1) I attend LSU and they help me pay for it, however, they would not be able to help me financially with Hillsong after I graduate. or 2) I attend a less expensive school (LSUS), get as many scholarships as possible, and save save save, and then go to Hillsong after LSUS with the help of my parents.

Now, on my parents part, this was a miracle.  The fact that they just gave their oldest daughter the blessing to move to another country thousands of miles away is a sacrifice on their part that I do not take lightly.  The only problem was that never in this entire process was my plan to stay in Shreveport.  I was either going to end up in Baton Rouge or Australia, but staying in Shreveport never entered my mind, nor had I wanted it to.  I have longed for the independence that awaits me in August for too long and then all of a sudden, that independence was no where in sight.  Do not get me wrong, I love Shreveport/Bossier.  I have said on multiple occasions that I am so thankful that my roots are in the 318 area.  I had just always planned to move away at eighteen.  The same friend who questioned me on LSU and thought that Hillsong was the best option for me advised me not to make any decisions about my future for about a week.  She said to feel every emotion to the highest amount, pray about it, cry about it, and to process the entire process without making any decisions at first.  This is exactly what I did.  I took the entire week to think, pray and cry about it every day (I didn’t think I was an emotional person prior to this process…boy was I wrong).  

Ultimately, I knew I was working with borrowed time.  Graduation is fast approaching and enrollment fees are due within weeks.  My dad and I sat down about almost two weeks later (about a week ago now) to talk about the options one more time.  Here is the thing: I am confident that this is what the Lord is calling me to.  Do I like it right now? Not necessarily.  But as I talked to my dad (through tears again. I’m telling you… EMOTIONAL) and said, “Okay then, decision made: LSUS,” the Lord has used every moment since then to align my heart and my desires with His plan.  When it comes down to it, I want His plans for me, not my plans for me, and I trust that as I walk in obedience, He will continue to align my desires with His plan.

Here is the plan: come August, I will move out of my parents house and into an apartment.  My goal is to finish LSUS with a marketing degree in three years.  Be able to work and save money between May-December of 2017, and then leave for Australia in January of 2018.  Hillsong College has 5 different streams of study: Pastoral Leadership, Worship Music, TV & Media, Production, and Dance.  I plan to study in the Pastoral Leadership stream with a focus in Social Justice for probably three years.  However, if I have learned anything over the past couple months, it’s that plans are always subject to change.  

Some of most important lessons I have learned throughout this process:
  • Submission and respect towards your authority, even if you are receiving things that you do not want to hear, is so important.  I know that in the end, I will be blessed because I chose to respect my parents and submit to their authority and their wisdom throughout this process.

“Children obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’  This is the first commandment with a promise: if you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth.’” 
-Ephesians 6:1-3

  • Keeping dreams that the Lord has put in your heart protected is vital.  Hillsong is a God-given dream of mine.  At the same time that the Lord put this dream in my heart, He also gave me the wisdom to keep it protected from everyone except very specific people with spiritual authority in my life.  If I was to have broadcast this all over the place throughout the process, there would have been too many voices (well meaning voices, rest assured) giving me advice and opinions on this giant life decision, when the only voice I needed to be concerned with hearing was the Lord’s.

“My child, listen to what I say,
    and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom,
    and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
    and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
    seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
    and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
    He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
    and protects those who are faithful to him.”
-Proverbs 2: 1-8

  • Do not make plans for yourself and then expect the Lord not to change them.  He already has a plan for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11
  • Following Jesus is not easy.  Following Jesus requires sacrifice. Does it hurt a little? Absolutely.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.

“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you want to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” -Luke 9:23-24
  • There is often a season of waiting and preparing between one’s anointing and his or her appointing. King David was anointed to be king long before he was ever appointed as king.  Before he ever fought his Philistine (Goliath), he fought a lion and a bear in his season of waiting and preparation.  I know I have been anointed for certain things in my life and my education is all a part of the process. Hillsong may be a Goliath in my life, but before I face Goliath I need to take full advantage of my season of waiting and preparation.  I guess, in my case, LSUS is my lion and bear.  

Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. -1 Samuel 16:11-13
“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” -1 Samuel 17:32-37
  • As my pastor says, where the finger of God points, the hand of God provides.  I know the next four years are going to be hard. Between now and the time when I leave for HILC, I still have the $20,000 to raise, but I believe the finger of God has pointed me toward Hillsong, and, therefore, I will cling to the promise that His had will provide the means for me to go.  
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” -Romans 8:28

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