(In honor of the upcoming one-year anniversary of ”Bigger Than Me‘s” release, I wanted to share the book’s beginning words. My hope is that they encourage & uplift you as writing them uplifted me.
To find out more about ”Bigger Than Me”, visit bit.ly/btmebook.)
It felt like a dream. My conscious had still not truly digested the fact that I, Amber Brianna Kathlene Gardner, had been granted this amazing opportunity. If anyone had told me that in a year I would go from being homeless with a 2.89 GPA to being accepted to over ten colleges and universities and offered over $100,000 in scholarships, then I would have said they were crazy.
That’s the great thing about God moving you towards your destiny. Sometimes it will completely knock you off your feet. Just thinking about it still puts a smile on my face, because I know it was nothing but His grace and favor that allowed all of it to come to pass.
As I looked around and saw the other young ladies I was sitting next to, I knew I was set apart. I still had not fully accepted it, but, thankfully, God already had a plan set up to correct that. The first step was to get me to the place where much of my growth was ordained to occur, which is why He allowed me to be accepted to and receive a Presidential Scholarship from one of the greatest Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the country, Hampton University.
Now, this miracle was not sitting alone at the table of my life during that year. I was also able to meet and sing for President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama, enjoy an amazing graduation party, stay in my own place, rent-free, for roughly two months, receive a shopping spree at Target for everything I needed for my dorm room and closet, and receive a free laptop computer. It did not just rain blessings in my life during that season. It poured!
This is why I have grown thankful for the struggles I’ve been through, because they opened the door for God to show His greatness. Not only was I able to benefit from them, but it gave me the opportunity to share the God I serve with others. You know what they say, “You need a test to have a testimony.”
Now, it took time and maturity for me to wrap my mind around the fact that God wanted my testimony to be shared with my classmates, teachers, and others who crossed my path. Even though He had moved miraculously in my life, my desire to fit in and the shame I felt from my mother and me still being homeless at the time led me to hold my tongue with most of the people in my life for some months. I felt it was best to blend in, but God had other plans.
So, as I sat in Ogden Hall with my new Hampton sisters, taking in my life’s new path, God was already preparing and planting the gold nuggets I would discover while traveling down it. That’s one thing that I could not deny even when I doubted God. No matter what, He always had blessings and pieces of wisdom for me along my journey. Whether I was climbing to the top of a mountain or stumbling to the bottom of the valley, there were some jewels for me to gather along the way.
Thankfully, I have been collecting jewels of wisdom since I was a young girl. I have not always recognized it, but rather than holding that against me, God uses it for His glory. If I had recognized every single blessing, I may not have encountered certain challenges which helped me grow and share my testimony with others.
Now, this testimony starts way before my time at Hampton University. It begins in the early 2000’s, roughly twelve years earlier, with one simple move. As a result of my family moving from Virginia to Connecticut, many things shifted, and my life would never be the same.