One of the greatest blessings of the Fellows Program is the natural networking that it provides for us. I don’t want to sound mercenary about my relationships, but the reality is that Fellows have access to a lot of powerful, impressive people in Nashville. We’ve met CEO's, tenured professors, successful creatives and leaders in healthcare: the Fellows program board is as connected as Kevin Bacon.

All of these people are incredibly humble and talented. I am truly blown away by God’s movements in Nashville’s leaders. As thankful as I am for the amazing connections and conversations that I have received through the Fellows Program, the person who has left the deepest impact on my heart thus far is my three-year-old host sister, Aidah.

Most mornings I wake up, amble down the stairs to the kitchen, and I am greeted with the most stellar smile and,

“Good Morninggg Miss Shaaaaannnon.”

She always stretches out my name like that. And I love it.

Usually, she’s gliding around the kitchen as the rest of us get our breakfast. She spent most of this morning trying to touch the tips of her hair to the floor in a backbend. It was physical comedy at its finest. Seriously, I think the world could have had Four Stooges if the timing had panned out.

It’s almost like Aidah has so much joy in her heart that it oozes out of her in twirling, squirming, contorting, and back bending. She also gets so excited about things: going to school, going to Kroger, not going to school, looking at pictures on my phone, going to the bus stop, eating oatmeal. I mean, it’s just fun to be around someone who gets so genuinely hyped about life. Every morning, I get my daily coffee and Aidah dose before I head out into the big, bad world.

Before you think this turns into some Kids Bop cover of “Good Day,” I want to be clear that not every morning is like this. Sometimes, Aidah can’t find her sparkly shoes from Sylvie and then all bets are off. But when things don’t go right, Aidah knows what to do: she gets upset and takes those feelings to her mom.

As I get further into this year, I am realizing how unlike Aidah I am. Instead of getting excited about the small, simple blessings in life, I get caught in the tangled web of my expectations. Instead of taking the pain that comes from reality failing to meet my expectations to my Father and friends, I throw pity parties. While I try to figure life out on my own, I end up missing the sweet wonders of life with an amazing God.

 All the Fellows can identify with a rising pressure and tension as we strive to live in the present while also preparing for the future. Finding the balance between soaking in the present and preparing for the future is no easy task, but during my mornings with Aidah I get a tangible taste of trust. And it seems to me that trust is the bridge between these two opposing forces. I should turn to God with my disappointments as quickly as Aidah turns to her parents with her missing shoes, and I should get as excited about God’s daily graces as Aidah gets about going to school.  

In something like the Fellows program, people think you’re doing fancy, shiny spiritual things; making big moves for God and all that. But in His usual fashion, God is stepping into my life through the most unsuspecting of avenues: this time, with a three-year-old over breakfast cereal.