I Believe in the Power of Words, by Rev. Erin Taylor

I believe in the power of words. Words have an incredible way of linking us to one another – whether we are strangers, old friends, or lost loved ones.

On January 25th, 2015, I lost my baby cousin, Philip, in a motorcycle accident while stationed as a Marine at Camp LeJeune. Losing someone I was so close to and who was so young broke my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible. Though Philip was 4 years younger than me, my cousin was one of my closest friends and always made his best effort to help me using his carefree wisdom. Shortly after losing him, I had his favorite saying tattooed on my right foot.

I cannot count the number of times a day that I look down at my foot and see, in his handwriting, “Never give up.”

When I see his words, I first think, “Man! I’m glad I always helped him with his spelling homework!” but shortly after, I think of him saying those three simple words and readily bestowing his carefree wisdom upon me.

When I see his words, I am reminded to always strive to do better, to always seek hope when I feel defeated, and to push through whatever obstacles and challenges I may encounter.

Words have an incredible way of linking us to one another. Words allow us to capture those irreplaceable moments, to keep our memories alive, and remind us to never, ever give up.

I believe in the beautiful power of words.

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GA TIB BOOK Erin TaylorRev. Penelope Erin Taylor is from Lake Charles, LA and is a recent graduate of Brite Divinity School & TCU’s dual M. Div/MSW program. She is a proud Peace Intern alum, is freshly ordained through the Great River Region, and currently serves as the youth minister at FCC Gainesville, TX. In her spare time, she enjoys devoting a ridiculous amount of time to her cocker spaniel, Barney, and drinking a LOT of Diet Coke.

I Believe in Never Accepting Defeat

Author:  Jarrod McClendon, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I remember feeling like a complete failure. Not only had I lost my job, and my apartment, and my car, but I had lost my will to win. I lost the ability to keep fighting. At the age of 23, sleeping on my mother’s couch and doing side jobs for food money wasn’t the greatest expression of my new found adulthood. Those around me that actually knew that I was better and expected it. I had become so enveloped in my own desperation that I sank into a deep depression. All the while, I had a guardian angel pushing me forward. I’ve always felt that losing my grandmother, JoAnne, at such a young age, though devastating, was just Gods way of placing a protective hand directly over me. She was my protector. At an instance I knew that I needed a fresh perspective, a new start. I contacted an Army recruiter that was closely connected with my family and within the first few moments of our conversation I knew this was for me. The Army embraces lost boys like myself, and seeing that I didn’t have anything else to call my own, I embraced the Army in return.

Going through the training brought about its own challenges but nothing that I couldn’t take head on. There was a new found confidence that I was issued and for once in my life I felt like I was becoming the man I was supposed to be. No excuses, no material possessions to define me. Out of everything I had done the one thing that mattered the most to me was the lasting friendships that were created. I met and became friends with people that would forever shape my future and I don’t think I realized that until after we went our separate way. The day would eventually come when I had a choice. I could reenlist and continue to grow in the Army, or I could finish out my contract and exit to complete my degree. This was by far the hardest decision of my life.   But again, that guardian angel was there with that push. This time I don’t think she was alone. I had a couple of those good friends that I met in my five years pass away. These names were synonymous with dedication, courage, and strength. These were people I told my story to, people who knew my dream of graduating from TCU and becoming an officer. It is because of the spirit of these individuals that I am here doing what I am today. To come from my mom’s couch, to attending one of the best private schools our nation has to provide is truly a testament to what we can accomplish. No matter how devastated our lives may seem, never quit, never accept defeat. You never know who’s watching out for you.

I believe in America’s fraternity

Author: Steven Hofmann, TCU Student, Business Major, Published Fall 2012

I am in America’s fraternity.

It’s not Greek. It was born right here on U.S. soil. It’s the biggest, the toughest, most selfless, most accomplished, and most respected fraternity you can imagine. We’ve never lost anything we’ve been involved in. In my fraternity, uncommon valor is a common virtue. My letters don’t resemble the ones you’re familiar with. My letters read “U.S.M.C.,” and they stand for the United States Marine Corps.

Being a part of this fraternity means more to me than proving I’m the coolest guy, than being the one that can drink the most, meeting a bunch of girls, or being the most connected person in my circle of friends. To me it’s about going through both an internal and external transformation. During my “rushing” process, I not only earned the esteemed title of “Marine,” but I also became a part of something much greater than myself. I became part of an elite history of discipline, loyalty, leadership, and gallantry. My “rush” week was 12 weeks long, 7 days a week, twenty-four hours a day, and even after all that I was STILL a peon! To me it means having a brother. Not a brother who gives me his notes to class, or lets me borrow his fake ID. I’m talking about a brother that gives you his last canteen of water when you’ve been on a patrol, in 117-degree heat, with no sign of your next re-supply opportunity.

I mean a brother who runs out of any cover or concealment, into the screaming of rounds whistling by his ear. With no concern for himself or his family, he comes and picks me up, both of us in 80lbs of gear, and puts me on his shoulder. One hand on me, one hand on his weapon and the rapping of death at our door, he carries me back to the cover of our vehicle. Without a doubt, he is the only reason I am here today. That’s the type of brother my fraternity produces.

In my brotherhood, community service means service to my country. Service to my country means protecting my fellow Americans. Protecting my fellow Americans means being a part of America’s Fraternity and being a part of my fraternity, means that you have the freedom to be a part of your fraternity too.