Hello all! I’m so excited to be back in Nashville. Seeing all of my friends again after a very long and cold break in Wisconsin was a welcome change. However, before I got back to Nashville, I had the opportunity to be a part of a movement so faith-filled that it knocked me off my feet: Passion 2013.

I had heard of the Passion Conferences since I was in high school, but since it’s aimed for college age students, never had the opportunity to go. Although I had to go through a few loops to get there {two flights and a four hour drive in a single day} I knew that this year was my chance. Arriving in Atlanta was amazing, but I honestly didn’t have any idea what I had gotten myself into.

Sitting down in the Georgia Dome, I was awestruck. Sixty thousand {yes, you read that right} college students and their leaders had filled the Dome. They came from every state and fifty five different nations. They came from different denominations, income classes, and walks of life. And yet, we were all here for one reason: to glorify the name of Christ.

Yeah…with so many people, big things were bound to happen.

The four days were incredible, albeit overwhelming. When 60,000 people come to Atlanta, they take over the city. It took at least half an hour to do anything {read: anything. I never made it to Starbucks because there were at least 200 people in line who had the same idea} But after a message and worship, we broke off into community groups, and still smaller family groups. This is where a lot of the growing and learning took place. I already miss my family group a ton and Red Group definitely had the best cheer {Taylor Swift, Stop Sign, We’re in the house, We blow your mind! RED GROUP RED GROUP RED GROUP RED GROUP!}

I was blown away by the amazing worship that was there. The incredible groups—Chris Tomlin, Jesus Culture, LeCrae, and David Crowder to name a few—were equally matched by the incredible fact that 60,000 people were singing with all of the passion and might that they had. The speakers—Beth Moore, Louie Giglio, Judah Smith, and John Piper were all incredibly insightful yet still appealing to college students.

However, one of the greatest things about Passion was the fact that it wasn’t just a conference, it was a movement. When 60,000 people, especially young people get together in the name of Christ, there’s no telling what can happen. One of the things that we were able to do was collect socks and towels for the homeless shelters in Atlanta and the victims of Superstorm Sandy. I don’t exactly recall the number we collected, but there were towers of towels all over the convention center!

In addition, Passion 2013 was also the launch of the End It Movement. I was completely unaware that even in today’s supposedly post-slavery world, over 27 million people are still held captive by the power of slavery—whether through sex trafficking, poverty, or forced labor. Growing up in a nation where freedom seems like a right rather than a privilege, I was taken aback to hear the stories of so many—realized that there were 27 millon stories, names, people—who all deserve the same right to live their own lives that I enjoy. At the end of just four days, we were able to raise over $3.5 million dollars for different organizations that seek to end slavery. Towards the end of the conference, we held a candlelight vigil, all sixty thousand of us, to show that we are a generation that is no longer content to live our own lives when we are aware that people around the world don’t have that same opportunity.

Right now, the most important thing we can do to support the End It Movement is to get the word out. CNN did a wonderful job covering the story here. If you would like to sign the pledge or find out more ways to get involved, please visit the End It Movement website: {http://enditmovement.com/} It’s when we stand together that we find our greatest strength.

Personally, Passion helped to bring a lot of truth to my life. It helped me to realize that in a lot of ways, I am spiritually dead. One of the things that I’m trying to do this year is to be more open and honest, even when it’s uncomfortable, and I’d like to say that although I mean everything that I say on this blog, it’s not 24/7 coverage of who I am or my life. There’s a lot of times where I feel completely distant from God, cut off from His blessings, alone. This blog is as much to inspire others as it is to remind myself of the things that God does for me even when I don’t feel like He’s there. I’m so blessed to have dear friends in my life who see and understand that and are helping me to figure this all out, or at least be okay with not, because who really does anyway? I also was reminded that God has enabled each one of us to shine a light in the darkness—whether it’s in our own lives or global issues. My goal for this year is to remove the barriers that I’ve put up not letting that light shine through and to use what God’s blessed me with to be a blessing to others.

What an amazing way to bring on the New Year. Have a blessed 2013, everyone!

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