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July 22, 2017.

For the last 4 years, July 22 has been an exciting day for me. While some may brush off the thought of an anniversary and think it is another reason to spend money, I think they are more than that. Anniversaries are a celebration! They are a celebration of what you have accomplished the past year together and look forward to the impact you are going to have together in the upcoming year.

Today marks my 4-year anniversary with my girlfriend, Reagan Locke. For the last four years, I have been able to spend this day with her. While three of the four years of our relationship have been long distance, we always have found time to celebrate this day. Unfortunately, today we won’t be able to find that time.

Being 1,700 miles apart is harder than you think. I feel like I am not asking for too much when all I want to do is pick her up for ONE date and just look at her beautiful smile for a few hours.

This last week has been a roller coaster for me athletically. I have had some of my best career games but have also had another setback in my throwing program and had to get a cortisone shot in my shoulder, so I have been out for the last few days. I believe and pray this will help me get back on the field soon.

Through all the chaos and uncertainty the last month, the encouragement and support from you, Reagan, has been the one thing that has remained consistent. You are the stronghold to this relationship, your constant love pushes me every day to be the best.

When I thought about doing something special for you, I thought I could share FOUR lessons I have learned the last FOUR years of dating you.

When I first look at you Reagan, I can’t help but to think you are the definition of what ‘Natural Beauty’ is. You have taught me to be comfortable with myself and it really doesn’t matter what others think; this was a lot for me to accept, since I was the one to wear a collared shirt almost every day of my life. When I look at pictures of you, rarely are you in anything more than Nike shorts and a XXXXXL shirt, yet you still blow me away.

The second lesson I have learned is to have a passion for the unreached areas in this world. When I first met you, I remember you telling me about your goals and aspirations to reach people who have not heard the gospel. In Mark 16:15, Jesus tells us to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” and you are a living testament of this. You inspire me to go out and make a difference in people’s lives.  While I have not had the opportunity to do this internationally like you, I am trying to make my profession my mission field. You inspire me to share God’s endless grace and I thank you for that.

The third lesson is your ability to lead others. Whether Student Government, nursing school ambassador, or your sorority board, you always put yourself in a position where others have to look to you for tough decisions. It is not for the attention, I can promise you that, but so you can lead them to a life than is more than ordinary. You are representing Christ with every decision you make and every person you have an encounter with. John Maxwell says it best, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” and you do all three of these so well.

The last and most important thing I think I have taken from you is your willingness to sacrifice for others. There is no coincidence they call you, “Momma Hoot” in your sorority, because you are a mom to so many in Tuscaloosa. While sometimes it is hard, there is no question in my mind that you are living up to your true calling in Tuscaloosa. You are representing so well what Christ did for us through your everyday actions to others. Thank you for sacrificing so much for me and joining me in my pursuit to become a professional baseball player.

You make these qualities look so easy in your everyday life, truly because your devotion to live the way God has called us to do as believers.

Thank you for the best four years of my life. Thank you for teaching me daily what it means to fulfill God’s potential in my life. And thank you, for loving me unconditionally, even when things are not on our side. I will love you forever, Rea. Just keep being you!

God Bless and Go Rea! 

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