This is the story of how my life was changed, before I could walk or talk, when all I knew was how to eat, sleep, cry, and open my baby eyes.
Ten years after completing high school, my father enrolled at the University of North Texas (UNT) as a full-time student while my mother worked to support them. Their hope was that a college degree would open the doors of opportunity, provide a stable income for their future family, and set an example for their children.
During his junior year, my parents found out they were having their first child—me!
I was born in October and my dad was scheduled to graduate in May of the following year, which meant my mom needed to return to work until the spring. They began searching for someone to watch after me while they were away during the day.
As typical first-time parents, they interviewed prospective candidates extensively, made sure to call references, and, of course, sought the advice and guidance of family and friends to ensure they were making the wisest possible choice. They selected a mature sitter who chose to care for just one infant at her home each year.
But the very first time my parents ever left me, when I was four weeks old, my life and my family’s lives were forever changed.
My caretaker had been instructed to gently warm the small bottle of breast milk by placing it under warm, running water or to set it inside a glass of warm water - gradually warming the frozen milk to room temperature and to preserve the beneficial properties of the breast milk. However, she was accustomed to using boiling water for warming bottles and, because the small bottle only contained a few ounces of breast milk, it immediately toppled over. While holding me in her arms, she picked up the pot of water to pour it in the sink and retrieve the bottle of milk, but in her haste, the boiling water was spilled directly onto my left leg.
My cloth diaper and clothing were immediately soaked, holding in the heat, quickly adhering to my entire leg. Unfortunately, the sitter’s first reaction was to remove them. I include this part of the story in case others encounter a similar situation. The proper protocol is to run cool water over the burned area (if water isn’t available, any cold, drinkable fluid can be used) or hold a clean, cold cloth on the burn (source).
Because burns are easily infected, I spent the next week of my life in isolation at the hospital, where it was determined that my burns were 2nd and 3rd degree. I received regular doses of morphine to control the pain and my first of several surgeries was scheduled for Day 4 of my hospital stay.
My parents never left my side, asked lots of questions, and learned all they could about the treatment of burns. Naturally, they were fraught with fear, but they had to trust that the doctors and medical staff were doing all they could to provide the best possible care for their precious baby girl.
Now that I'm old enough to fully understand the severity of the situation, I'm so proud of my parents. There were many sleepless nights in the hospital (and when we returned home), the fear of the unknown then and for my future, the anger toward the responsible party, etc. It's unimaginable to me, but they stuck together, held each other up, and when one was weak the other was strong. Amazing!
In the photos below, you see my father holding me on his chest and then my mother rocking me in the chair. The emotional toll it had to take on them watching their daughter suffer in so much pain, and yet, with the good Lord's strength, they were able to be strong throughout this journey and do what was required for me to heal.
Over the next 18 years, several additional surgeries were required, and I learned that I’m not a fan of hospitals, anesthesia, or the removal of stitches and staples! Physically, I still bear the scars of that fateful day, though they are permanent, they are much improved and the incisions are less noticeable.
Growing up, it was challenging—the surgeries, the crutches, the compression garments, the questions from friends, as well as strangers, about my scars. But with my incredible doctor, my faith, and the support from my wonderful family, I’ve healed and it’s part of what made me into the woman I am today.
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” – Amy Bloom
I believe God has a specific plan for each of us. As a result of this terrible accident, it led my parents straight to the doors of the nearest church. My brother and I, in turn, learned about the grace of God and the gift of salvation at an early age. Ever since, throughout every surgery and every doctors appointment, we were able to find strength and peace in our Lord. We were also lucky enough to be surrounded by a wonderful church community throughout the years.
Although there were times when I wondered, “Why did it happen to me?” or “Why were the burns so bad?” My faith gave me the strength, courage, confidence, and ability to see my scars as a reminder of what really matters in life and how grateful I am to be healthy and alive.
When I participated in the Miss Kansas USA pageant in 2014, I was advised to cover my scars with makeup. “It won’t look good on stage,” or “Cover them up so the judges don't see.” Though those words deeply hurt, I chose not to take that advise because my scars, though not pretty, are part of me. Something others may see as a flaw—my battle scars—made me stronger and more beautiful as a woman. They’re part of my story.
It was the first time I’d ever participated in a pageant, and I placed in the Top 5, among some incredible women. Although I didn’t take the crown, I don’t believe my scars were a factor. It didn’t cripple my chances. Truth be told, every woman has a battle scar or two, whether visible or not. Our imperfections make us unique and tell our story. I’m proud of mine.
To Every Woman
“Someone will always be prettier. Someone will always be smarter. Someone will always be younger. But they will never be you.” – Anonymous
Regardless of your looks, your scars, your past, your waistline or calorie intake, your mistakes, or anything else you think may make you less than perfect, remember that none of us are perfect. Embrace your imperfections, because they make you, you.
And though I still get questions about my leg, I try to remember that people aren’t intending to be impolite or insensitive. Instead, I’m able to show them that my imperfections make me confidently and perfectly imperfect.
Celebrate whatever it is that makes you different, embrace your quirks, your scars or beauty marks. I share my story with you to encourage all of us to look at our imperfections differently. They are what make you, you. And no one else can ever be that.
“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen
My husband, Blake, and I have been together for just over 10 years. We were high school sweethearts and have been married for 4 years now. We are not pros, and we don't always know what the heck we are doing, but I am happy to say that, by the grace of God, we have not just a happy, but an intentional marriage. That being said, a lot of my single friends ask me questions about our marriage all the time. Including, but not limited to...
What makes it work?
How often do you fight?
What do you fight about?
How do you resolve things?
How do you handle finances and a joint account?
Was it scary getting married so young?
The list goes on and on. So here I am to share with you my answers to those very questions. And if you are totally not interested in getting married any time soon, just tuck this post away for you to reference later.
*It is important to note that Blake and I do not have children. I know children add entirely new challenges to your marriage. As our family changes and evolves in the coming years, our perspective and ability to do these things well, might change as well. Thank you Jesus for your never-ending grace!*
What makes our marriage work?
For us, it’s our faith, coupled with like-mindedness and complimentary but different character traits. We are both Christians and were both raised in the church, but naturally it wasn't until adulthood that we clearly chose our faith not because of our upbringing, but because it is truly our belief. Before we got married, it was incredibly important to us that our faith be in alignment and we’re thankful for all the friends and mentors God placed in our lives along the way to help guide and direct us.
We are incredibly like-minded. Whether it's religion, how to handle our finances, politics, child rearing...we both pretty much agree on everything. Now that doesn't mean that there aren’t areas within these topics that we disagree on. If we cannot find a common ground, which honestly is fairly rare, we agree to disagree. Or I pray that God will change his heart (mine is fine, justtt kidding), because sometimes you find yourselves at an impasse and prayer is truly the only answer to change your spouse’s heart, or yours!
We are also very different. I love this about us! His strengths are not mine and vice versa. I once heard in a sermon that our strengths are meant to help raise up our spouse. Isn’t that amazing to think about? Just that simple twist helps us be far more thankful for our differences because now we realize they make us stronger. We can analyze things differently and see things in each other that we probably wouldn't be able to see if we were the same. Our differences challenge us to be better.
Every week Blake and I try to make coffee time a priority. What is coffee time? Coffee time is time set aside for one another with no distractions. It is a time to discuss what is going on in our hearts, to share our frustrations in a judgement-free zone, and to talk about areas we really want to be intentional in. This has been so incredibly helpful for us. Some weeks there is not a lot to share, and others it feels like an intense counseling session. I truly believe this has been a key factor in our marriage thriving thus far. If you are not checking in with each other and voicing your frustrations or concerns (in a loving way), how are you growing together? I think it looks very different for everyone, but for us we have to have this time regularly so that we can continue to move forward together, supporting and loving one another.
How often do we fight?
Ok, let's talk about the difference between bickering and fighting. Bickering happens a lot. It's easy to fall into when you live with someone; especially when that someone is wired differently than you. So how do we avoid bickering? By staying in the word and focusing on Him. It shifts our focus from ourselves, to our spouse. And that’s crucial, because marriage isn't about you.
Now fighting, yes, it’s true - Blake and I fight. When we fight, it is typically over a big decision or a hurt that keeps being repeated. Blake and I have fought about careers, when to have children, a harsh word, etc. But we try to always fight well, if that’s even a thing. In other words, we try to fight with purpose. We fight in order to come up with a resolution. We try to be mindful to think before we speak or pray before we confront. We fight to communicate how much something has hurt us. If you are fighting without the intention of a resolution, then you are not fighting well.
So in that regard, there will be seasons where you and your spouse will agree on what seems like everything. Yay! But there will also be seasons where you just don't seem to agree. It can be very painful. This will be a challenging season and a season where you may have to seek outside help. But that’s marriage, ups/downs, good/bad, and everything in between.
How do you resolve things?
Ok, all of my feminist girlfriends are about to cry when I say this, but I believe I am called to defer to and to support Blake’s leadership for our family. There I said it, now let me explain. There are times we have faced a difficult decision and we haven’t agreed. Even though we may each feel strongly, but differently, we pray and pray some more and, if we still feel very differently, Blake will ultimately make the choice............are you cringing? I can feel you cringing. "How can I let a man make a decision for me?” you ask. Well, that all comes down to our belief system. We believe that Blake is the leader of our family, and, as the leader, sometimes it means he has to be the one to make a difficult decision. It is vital that he makes it for our good and not his glory. 1 Peter 3:7 says to treat your wives with respect so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Do you hear that?? If a man abuses his authority, does not respect his wife, God will not hear his prayers. This is a big deal and something to take very seriously. So, if the idea of being submissive to a man makes you cringe, just remember, if your spouse does not respect you and your input, God will not hear his prayers. So, ladies, marry a man who values your wisdom, knowledge and opinions and when the time comes to make a difficult decision, you’ll already know you can trust that in his love for you he is making it for the good of your family.
How do you handle finances?
Blake should really be answering this one because this is definitely his strength. Blake loves finances! If you need help with your finances and budgeting, please contact my husband because he loves to help and I promise you, it has been what has made our marriage better. We believe that every cent we make is our money. Not my money, not his money, but our money. We also believe that our money is a gift from God, so we try to steward it well. We discuss every category in depth before we put it in the budget. We also believe in living debt-free as best as we can. This means not living like everyone else so you can live like no one else one day. It means practicing self-control. It means not saying yes to everything. It means prioritizing. It means that when we shop, we have a budget to guide us. This has taught me to stretch every dollar (keep following the blog and you’ll for sure see more about this!) and get creative. But with that being said, we set these boundaries so that we can enjoy life within reason.
Was it scary getting married young?
Lol....YES! I look back and cannot believe we got married so young. I have seen countless people our age divorced after 1, 2, 3 years of marriage. You change SO much in your twenties and you just don't know if the person you married will continue to have and support the same beliefs and convictions you have. This is real life y ‘all. It is only by the grace of God that we have thrived. We have had countless men and women pouring into us, guiding us to truth and ultimately reminding us that we made a covenant. This means good, bad, ugly days, we stick together. I do not say any of this to puff us up or make us look good, because trust me our marriage has been the furthest thing from perfect. But what I'm thankful for is this -- we believe in the covenant we made on May 18, 2013, and intend to keep it. This will take a lot of prayer, a lot of confession and repentance, a lot of guidance and a lot of good friends holding us accountable to that covenant. And, I am telling you, prayer is powerful. Praying for your husband is powerful. Praying for your wife is powerful. Prayer is just downright powerful and necessary.
Have you ever wondered, "How’d they land that job?" or "How’d they get into the sports biz?” Well, you’re not alone. I’ve been asked a dozen variations of these two questions more times than I can count.
And, guess what - there are as many different paths to a career in sports and television as there are folks in the business. No two stories are the same, but I have found the common denominator in most success stories include setting your goals high and relentlessly pursuing them.
So, in short, here is the story of my path to this TV gig.
Sports and competition are just in my blood and I can’t imagine life any other way.
In Texas, where I grew up, Friday Night Football is practically a religion and Sundays were dedicated to church and more football. It went without saying, that from the beginning of August until the end of the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, Sunday mornings would be spent at church followed by everyone piling into the living room, flipping on the first of several games and chowing down on some delicious tailgate foods. Sundays were all about family, food and football.
From an early age, I was always on one team or another. In elementary school, I joined the local rec volleyball team, gave softball a go, and sprinkled in a season of indoor soccer. My middle/high school was small enough (just 20 students in my graduating class!), that we all had plenty of opportunity to be involved in the sports programs. Volleyball was my favorite sport and I was on the team all 3 years of middle school and all 4 years of high school. I played basketball for a few seasons, softball one season and even ran track my senior year. While I was not an all-star, going pro kind of athlete, I always made a solid effort and poured my heart into the game.
For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to go into broadcasting, but it wasn't until high school that I thought seriously about a career in sports broadcasting. The challenges were many - not only is it extremely competitive to land a gig on TV, but to do so in the male dominated sports arena, was even more daunting.
When I went off to college at the University of Oklahoma, I studied Broadcast Journalism and minored in Health and Exercise Sciences. Essentially, I wanted to learn about TV journalism and understand sports exercises and injuries. So how was I going to parlay that into a lifelong career?
Well, simply put, I got involved. I tried out for and got a spot on the OU Rowing Team, I was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, I worked on Gaylord College's news and sports shows, traveled abroad one summer, and landed an internship at a local news station.
That internship turned into an offer for a part-time job at the station in Oklahoma City thru my senior year. It helped me gain real world experience, gather tape for my reel and make some all-important business connections.
Everyone will tell you to "get involved" or "join a club" during college. I can't overstate this point enough - don't just pick something to pick something - take the time to get involved in organizations and look for opportunities that will help round out your resume and provide real and applicable experiences.
During my senior year, I searched for and applied for what felt like a bazillion jobs, went on countless interviews, continuously updated my reel, and reached out to the few connections I had in the industry. Finally, I got a call from the NFL!
Kansas City Chiefs
Here’s what I had worked so hard for! A chance to be a reporter in the NFL! Everything I had hoped and prayed for. So when the offer came to join the Kansas City Chiefs as a seasonal reporter, I jumped at the chance. It didn’t pay well, but I had a job … in my field, in the National Football League, and I was ecstatic!
My position was designed to assist their current on-staff reporter - take over community events, write off the field stories, emcee events, etc. Well, my first day on the job he announced he had accepted another position and would be leaving in two weeks.…surprise! Talk about jumping in with both feet, but here was my chance.
I was working six days a week during the season, logging long hours. Now, I'm sure you've it heard before, and I’m here to tell you it’s true - "You have to pay your dues and work your way up." It’s not always easy, it can be humbling, but you’ll learn so much along the way and it’s worth it.
Of course, my workload grew and the hours became longer, plus I had to learn his job, along with my new job, in a department full of guys who saw me as a young female right out of school who didn't know a thing about football.
It was partially true, I didn't know as much as they did. I had a lot to learn, but I wasn’t a quitter and I wasn't going to let them be right. Every day I read about football, I wrote about football, I watched practice, I listened to podcasts, and I even asked for Madden NFL for Christmas so I could play football.
I invested my time, my energy, everything into being the best reporter I could be and learning as much as I could about the sport, the team and the fans. I was editing, writing, producing, reporting, interviewing, hosting, and the list goes on.
Admittedly, that first season was rough. The team had one of the most difficult seasons in franchise history. The Chiefs went 2-14, fans created a group called "Save The Chiefs," and a horrible tragedy occurred where life was lost. It was challenging to say the least.
After eight months of blood, sweat and tears, I was offered a permanent position. I had done it! I was a full-fledged member of the team behind the team.
I worked with the Chiefs for three seasons before I felt I had maximized my time there and was itching for a new challenge.
San Antonio Spurs
Through networking in the sports world, I had a friend of a friend who worked for the Spurs and helped get my resume and reel to the top of the stack. Again, network, network, network. A strong network is crucial. It's cliché, I know, but I wouldn't be where I am today without the connections that helped open doors.
In 2015, back to Texas I went when I accepted a position in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs and Fox Sports Southwest. It was a new and exciting challenge, and the pace was far different from the NFL. Often games were back to back, nights and weekends, and from the west coast to the east coast. But, hands down, the Spurs fans made my time in San Antonio unforgettable. They are passionate and loyal and I miss their high energy and sometimes entertaining and incredible costumes.
It wasn’t long before I realized I was yearning to broaden my horizon, so I connected with a talent agent for advice. We talked through my goals, my dream job, and how to get there. His words of wisdom – “You need to be on TV every single day.” He suggested working in the news. Now, after working in sports for so long, I didn’t see myself in news. Really? News? But I wanted to grow, learn and take that next step towards my goal. So news it was.
Once again, it's all about who you know. I reached out to an old co-worker from my days with the Chiefs who was freelancing at the ABC station in Kansas City. There was a job I had applied for and, just as the last story went, that contact got my resume in front of the News Director and it eventually led to a terrific job offer.
So in the summer of 2016, I loaded up and made my way back north on I-35 to KC to be an anchor and reporter. My role has changed a few times since I joined the crew here, but now I'm on the air everyday, for 4 ½ hours Monday through Friday. I have grown by leaps and bounds, learned a great deal, and I love being back in Kansas City!
As I said, everyone's path is different. This has been mine.
1. Get involved – join groups and organizations at your school and/or in your community
2. Internships – take what you’ve learned in the classroom and get hands on experience
3. Network – at your school, at your job, in your community, introduce yourself, shake a lot of hands and be persistent
4. Team player – be respectful, dependable, give your best effort and go the extra mile
5. Passion – if you’re passionate about your chosen field, you’ll be far happier on the journey, and, in TV, it creates a very necessary connection with your audience
Sports and television are not easy industries to break in to, but once you’re in, it’s important that you are able to adapt, are flexible, continue to learn, and, lastly, don’t forget your integrity. Also, a side note here, there will always be naysayers who criticize. Take it in stride and don’t let them distract you from your goals.
Remember, you will have to jump a few hurdles to get where you’re going and you will certainly have to pay your dues, but don't let anything keep you from pursuing your passion. I've been fortunate enough to have done just that - pursue my passions and enjoy my work. I'm so grateful for the experiences and opportunities I've had along the way and I’m excited to see what the future holds!
Are you working towards a career in sports, broadcasting, reporting, etc? Let me know and if I can answer any questions or you need some advice, please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!
Location: Kansas City
In 2012, I moved to Kansas City to begin my career in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. For three seasons, I worked for the Chiefs as their sideline reporter, hosted shows, wrote for the website and covered all of the team's events. In 2015, I moved to San Antonio to work in the NBA for the Spurs and Fox Sports Southwest. I was a part of the pre/post game show, emceed events, and produced videos for the website and in-arena. After two seasons, I came back to Kansas City to work for an ABC station as a morning anchor and reporter.
My husband and I tied the knot in Nashville, TN in April 2017! We met while we were both working in the NFL. He still works for the Chiefs, so I continue to be connected to the team and of course, I'm at Arrowhead Stadium quite often during the season.
We absolutely love living in Kansas City! There's some amazing BBQ spots, great live jazz music, plenty of farmers markets, beautiful shops on the Plaza, plus, for a big city it has a small town feel.
In a nutshell, I'm a Texas transplant, University of Oklahoma graduate, former OU Rower, sports fanatic, avid quoter of The Office, book lover and wine aficionado.
Location: Nashville, TN
I moved to Nashville, TN from Dallas, TX in 2014 shortly after graduating college and marrying my high school sweetheart. We were originally only going to stay in Nashville for a year, but decided we couldn't leave just yet. If you've ever been to Nashville, then you understand why.
Nashville is known for its southern food, views, and of course country music. However, it's so much more than that. It's one of the greatest places to be for fashion. It's an up and coming musician playing for free at your local coffee shop. It's a melting pot of different cultures of people from all over. It is the perfect mix of southern hospitality and city life.
I am currently the Director of Business Development at Scout Nashville, which is a residential real estate company that exists to make the client experience simple, stress-free, and enjoyable.
In my free time you will find me trying new foods, researching fashion trends, hiking through the beautiful parks of Nashville, traveling, and now blogging with my sister-in-law!
We are two twenty-something year old Texas girls at heart who love exploring life in our new cities. We will be sharing our experiences and adventures, while reflecting on life lessons we've learned before 30. We'll also be talking about a number of different topics - travel, sports, fashion, beauty, and delicious hot spots around town. Hope you come along for the ride!
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