Monday, December 26, 2011

My hands are tied. Thank God!

As you know, I am in the earlyish stages of my "Journey to trust" and while I'm on this crazy adventure I have been realizing just how little control I actually have over my life. Seriously, I might as well hop into the trunk, because my hands are not on the wheel. The most recent example I have is when I rented two books from the Cedar Falls Library. I was feeling a bit out of sorts and felt like I needed to go to the library, get a library card and spend the day reading. So, I went and finished The Help, (fantastic book by the way). I signed up for a library card and began wandering around looking for something to check out. When I first walked in, I noticed a shelf that was designated as "Book Club Books." I was browsing through that shelf and found tons of intresting books that I wanted to check out. The problem was, while those books looked great and I really wanted to check them out, they didn't feel right. I was holding the books intending to check them out anyway when I noticed that it was a self check out system, a system that I had no clue how to use. Because of my foolish pride (I'm working on it), I really didn't want to ask anyone one how to use it so I just hung back and creeped in between two shelves and watched a few people go through. That's when a book called, John 3:16 caught my eye. I picked it up and read the back and instantly felt better, just because I had the book in my hands. I kept looking in that shelf and found another called, Where do I go?, and again, I felt a calm wash over me when it was in my hands. I put the two other books back on the shelf, checked the God approved books out, and headed home feeling a sense of peace I hadn't felt for a few days. I couldn't wait to get home and start reading the books because I knew that I was supposed to read them. (Told you I'm not in control, I can't even pick out my own  reading-for-fun library books!)

John 3:16 was about several people in a college town who are all seemingly individual, but slowly they begin to become connected. Each person experiences some sort of life changing event that not only brings them together, but reveals a huge part of God's plan for their lives. The title verse is the main theme for the book. God gave his Son Jesus to the world so that we could experience His love. His amazing, crazy, life changing, radical love.

The second book, Where Do I Go is about a girl named Gabby who goes to France while studying abroad and meets an American boy whom she falls in love with and marries. The book then jumps forward to their life together. She is an unhappy wife whose husband loves his work more than he loves her. She follows her hubby to Chicago and lives in a penthouse suite. In a "fit of youth" she stumbles across a homeless shelter where we (the readers) learn she is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (this is my future career; I have never, EVER met anyone that I don't have to explain this title to, let alone read it in a novel!!!!!!!). This is as far as I have gotten into the book but I can't wait to finish.

This is just one way that I have been shown that I am not in control, and that I need to listen to God to know my next step. He knows what's up, He's had a lot of practice. He already knows what I am going to be doing at this exact moment 25 years from now. I need to focus more on listening and trusting His decisions rather than mine, even on the little tiny things, like picking books from the library. I know He guides me out of love, but I just can't quite wrap my head around that love yet. But, I suppose my head doesn't really need to fully understand it, as long as my heart does.

Friday, November 25, 2011

He's a "walking-into-a-door", kind of Real

I have been feeling the need to write a new post all day, but I really didn't know what I needed to write about. I spent my morning relaxing, not doing my homework, and generally enjoying Thanksgiving break and I started thinking about things. Things like life, my internship, and the future as a whole. I put these "unpleasent" thoughts out of my mind long enough to watch another movie, get cleaned up and start running some errands. I left my cold apartment and had about a 30 minute commute. This was exciting, I LOVE driving. I like to just get in the car and drive, looking at the scenery, and thinking about anything that floats through my mind. I find it's some of the best time to turn on Christian music and have some really sweet time with the Lord. I do a lot of praying during this time too. During this particular drive, my thoughts began to wander back to "The Future." I started praying and again, felt the need to write another blog post. But my last post was about this exact topic.

This brought me home and I got on my blog and discovered a nifty little button that when clicked brings up a random blog!....and hour and a half later I had read through about a million "Mommy Blogs," an Irish Handball Discussion blog, ridiculous amounts about crafts, and twice as many blogs in some sort of Spanish language that I ever wanted to. I began to wonder if I was the only twenty-something, single, english speaking college student stumbling through life and writing about it. In an effort to turn this into a blog post, I started to write about random nonsence that ended up being about giving whoever invented Thanksgiving break a trophy. Instead of putting whoever reads this through that, I went back to that little button and...completely had my mind blown.

Suddenly, the only thing I was getting was blogs written by twenty-something Christian, english speaking, college students stumbling through life! (I KNOW right?!?) Then I realized something else fantastic, GOD PROVIDES!!

Ok, I already knew that, but today I might as well have walked into a wooden door He made it so real. When I was in the car I kept flip flopping between telling Him that I will have faith and patience and wait, (good joke, right?), and asking God to just friggin' tell me where my internship is going to be. I wanted him so bad to show me something that would answer my questions. Then as I was looking through the monotonous "CraftyMommy" blogs, I just wanted to read a blog by someone who saw life through the same eyes I did. And just like that, He showed me. He gave me tons of things to read by other people my age dealing with the same things I am. It was such a good feeling when I finally realized it. 

I know I will get answers about my future, because God provides. He provides answers, comfort, fellowship, laughter, and internships. He's using this blog in so many ways to get me to Trust Him and to have faith. I don't know how many people actually know this blog even exists, but to me it's becoming something much more beautiful than words on a screen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RHS: Restless Heart Syndrome

This Journey is to find my path in the world. I know that I don't have to worry, and that if I have faith it will all just fall into place. That's all it takes, Faith. While this is so easy to say, it's not so easy to do.

Here's an update on my life: After a ridiculous amount of school, I will be totally done with classes December 15, 2011. (YAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
If you can't tell, I'm a little excited about this. To conclude my education, I have to do an internship. After my summer at Camp Courageous I can no longer see myself in a clinical setting, or even in a gym type setting. I loved the wide open, endless possibilities of Camp. So, my trusty advisor advised me to wait until this summer (so there are more opportunities outdoors) to do my internship and take some fun, skill building classes in the meantime. This was a great idea until I realized I have absolutely no more motivation for classes. At all. Actually, it's a been bit of a problem applying myself this semester. Upon this realization, I contacted my boss at CC and asked if there was a position open for this coming semester and to my delight, there was! I will be moving back to Monticello in January to be a counselor for the Winter and Spring seasons, while I wait for my internship! (Thanks, Lord!)

This is where the restlessness comes in: I need an internship. And, I want to get out of Iowa-badly. I've looked at every part of the country, Northern Europe and Australia. I want out of here for a while, if anything just so I can see how much I appreciate Iowa. I've sent out about 15 applications to Therapeutic Recreation facilities all over the place. I would like to secure this internship before I leave for camp because 14 hour workdays 6 days a week don't really lend much time for internship hunting.

 I've prayed and prayed about where I'm supposed to go and feel like I'm getting no where. I started praying that God will just start closing doors on me to the places that I'm not ment to be. I knew that this would be frusterating because it would take until the last door closes to find my place but I figured at least then I'll know. Although I know that I should be taking this one thing at a time, I am also looking at life after my internship, mainly because I won't have one. I wont be a college student anymore, so I won't have an apartment full of wonderful friends to come home to school to, I would really rather not move back in with my mom and step-dad, I know that there is nothing left in this area for me as far as my career goes, and marrige/settling down is definately low on my priority list. This makes me think about those Peace Corps and AmeriCorps applications I started last year. I would love to pack one bag of essentials and travel the world for a few years. No ties or no permanent address, just me and a friend traveling and exploring the world. BUT if I land a great full time job right of of my internship (the other major dream), if obviously can't happen...Geesh, such contradicting dreams. You see the problem I presume?

The bottom line: I'm stressed out with this decision. I don't want to make the wrong choice and I want to give myself the best possible chance of securing a future at the end of the internship.

So here's the new plan. My prayer is for faith.
  • Faith that I can completely turn this decision over to God.
  • Faith that I will hear from Him and know which steps to take.
  • Faith that this restless heart of mine will see His plan as soon as it's available and my next adventure will start.
  • Faith that while I wait, I will have peace knowing that at the exact right time, I will get news that I am interning at the exact right place, and that everything will work out in the best way.

I have learned the hard way that His ideas are way better than mine and I am praying that I can hear what HE wants for me, not what I think I want for me. #journeytotrust

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm giving in to something heavenly

This song, "Whatever You're Doing" by Sanctus Real came on my Pandora Station and it has been on repeat ever since.

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life, something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out

"Do you see this smile on my face right here?!"

"Does my grandpa's head look skinny?"

This was one of the first things our 13-year-old camper from this past respite weekend asked me upon his arrival at Camp Courageous. This was his first time attending and it's safe to say we can't wait for him to return. This kid kept us laughing from the time he arrived to the minute he left. Upon request, here is a list of hysterical quotes that should probably end up on the back of a t-shirt:

(In the gym, upon arrival)
Camper:"Does my grandpa's head look skinny?" 
Me: "ummm, well I'm not sure. I guess I didn't get a good enough look..."
Camper: "Well, it's not. Do you think my head looks skinny?"

(At lunch)
Camper: "I don't like applesauce anymore."
Me: "Why not?"
Camper: "It tastes like someone's moles"

Smelling Counselor 1's hair: Ewww! It smells like fireworks!
Smelling my hair: "It smells like storms....and cheese"
Smelling the volunteer's hair: "Mmmmm, peanut butter"
Counselor 1: "What does your hair smell like?"
Camper: "Um, some kind of breath"

I was singing along to a Backstreet Boys song that was playing in the Lodge when Camper says..."I'd rather you didn't sing...."

(While walking around Camp after leaving the nursing building)
Camper: "I liked that nurse's hair. It reminds me of that marshmallow I roasted"

Camper ran up to a tree off the trail that had already fallen down, karate chopped it and said..
"Man, my muscles are HUGE"

(Down in the snoezelroom)
Camper: "What classes did you sign up for?"
Counselor: "Nutrition...Psycholo-..."
Camper: "Do you want to fight?"
Counselor: "What? No!"
Camper: "I shouldn't box grandmas. You still have a moustache..."

Camper: "I want to sit next to you!" (talking to a counselor sitting in a rocking chair with another little camper)
Counselor: "Wait, no!...You don't fit!"
Camper (getting ready to jump in): "Do it anyway?!?!?!?"

(Getting ready for bed)
"My grandma's kinda fat. (realized what he just said and look's in the mirror) OOH! We don't talk like that!!!!"

Camper: Have you been to Y Camp?"
Me: "No, I..." *camper interrupts and grabs my arm and exclaimes very dramatically..
Camper: "Oooh! I miss Y camp!"

"Do you like my moustache? It's coming in rather nicely"

Do you see this smile right here on my face?
*points to his mouth and smiles really big :D

Camper: "Is his name a real name?" (talking about another camper with an unique name)
Me: "Yeah, it's real. We think it might be Norweigen. Your name is kind of unique too..."
Camper: "Yeah, but mine is real."

"I shouldn't be mean to my grandma"
Counselor: "No, you shouldn't, she loves you a lot"
Camper: "But 'Mr. Clere!' She has bad breath!!"

"I like her better than you because she has a moustache"


I can't believe I get to hang out with people as hysterical as this and get paid for it. Thank you, Camp Courageous.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Heart of a Father

I firmly believe that one of the main objectives of the Journey to Trust is for me to be able to see my Heavenly Father as my true father. One who will always be there, will never hurt me or let me down, but will celebrate in good things, love me unconditionally and never leave my side. I see the great ones all over my church, loving on their kids all the time. I came across a great website called, "Noah's Dad." ( It is a beautiful website about the love of one dad to his son, Noah, who happens to have Down Syndrome. Noah's dad is a good Dad.

Please don't see this as a jab at my own dad, because it's not at all. I LOVE my dad, so, so much. I wouldn't trade him for the world. Some of my favorite memories are spent with him. I know I am so much like him and I love that about myself. One of the things I am most proud of about my dad was that he worked with people with special needs. I love that I am like my dad in that way. I am so proud of my dad's heart for others.  My dad is a great man, an honorable man and I wouldn't trade him for the world. It's true though, I miss my much. I wish I could see him every day and have wished that everyday for the past 17ish years. I wish I had 21 years of memories with him. I wish he would have changed things about our lives so we both didn't have to be so strong. I wish that he would live in Iowa, so I could visit. I wish my (future) neices and nephews will see him as their favorite grandpa. I wish Father's Day wasn't a little bit sad . But I do love my dad. I sometimes feel like I missed out when my roommates talk about their awesome dads. When they talk about the funny ways their dad's would say goodbye to them unfailingly, each morning, or how they would get embarassed by their dad's doing goofy dad things. But then I remember the time's I've had with my dad, and the things that I love about my dad and it's ok. My dad is a great dad.

My perception of "the father" is a little different than most. I don't think by this point, this will come as a suprise to anyone, that it's a bit of a hardened area for me. I love my dad, but he wasn't there, that makes a difference. The father figure that was present most of my life was not one that anyone would have chosen. There are some good memories, but most are not and those that are good, are overshadowed by the bad. While I don't view my step-father as a dad figure per se', I do see him as a solid and constant support system, someone who loves me, and someone who has made life for my family easier and sweeter, and for that I could never be happier or more thankful. He is also a man of God, and exemplifies the heart that I know our Heavenly Father has for his kids.

This brings me to the point of this post, I know God wants me to experience the undying, unconditional, love that he has for me. It's all there in the little things that He has given me in my life. He has shown me what a sweet gift a father is, He has shown me everything a father is not, and now He is showing me that He will never do those things to me. I know He has been showing me that there is rest in Him. He will provide all of the things that I need, and all the of the want's of my heart. I think about these things often. I usually begin to pray and talk about what's going on in my life, (as if He doesn't already know). I picture him listening to me with a smile on his face, just like my dad did when he listened to me. I know that He is letting me come to Him on my own time. He's not pushing himself onto me. He is good Dad.

Make no mistake, I am happy. I have always been happy. I don't feel like I missed out because I have been given lots of great dad's in my life. My 2 best friends growing up had fathers who acted like fathers to me, my uncles are great dads, and my pastors are great dad's. I have great dads.The love of a father is something that everyone craves. It's a strong love. I know that I am almost to my point of fully and knowingly experiencing, and feeling God's love.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This is what I do...

I love how in college, people say, "I am a..." and then state their major. I didn't think my major was going to be who I was, until I found it. Now I am proud to say, I am a Leisure, Youth and Human Services major with and emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation.

Stumbling upon Leisure, Youth, and Human Services and Therapeutic Recreation has been the greatest discovery at this point in my life. Within minutes into my first lectures, I knew that I had found the field that I was supposed to be in.  For those of you who are unaware of what LYHS: TR is, let me explain. Therapeutic Recreation is using any recreation activties, as therapy for people with Special Needs.  

One of the requirements in the TR Foundations class was to spend twelve hours in four different areas of TR. I chose the areas of mental health, intellectual disabilities, behavior disorders, and physical disabilities. My spent my first hours at River Hills School’s adapted physical education class. I met with the teacher about what kinds of activities they do and also about the population they serve (kids with severe profound disabilities both physical and intellectual). I was very intimidated and nervous, because I had never spent any time with anyone with special needs. But, to my surprise upon meeting my first student, I got over every single stigma, fear, stereotype, and judgment that had ever crossed my ignorant mind. I fell in love with the beauty, personality, and pure joy that poured out of this amazing person. I could not imagine my life without the influence of this population anymore.

I continued my education taking the required TR and LYHS classes, and never ceased to be thirsty for more knowledge and experience. The values of the field were instilled in me through difficult and thus character building classes, and I sought out ways to experience them for myself. I did experience those values and ideals time and time again working and volunteering for many organizations, but none like this past summer when I worked for a camp for kids and adults with special needs called, Camp Courageous. Putting your clients’ needs and wants first with a smile on your face despite personal and environmental struggles, became evident with 90+ hour work weeks. Embracing your clients for who they are and empowering them to be all that they can was demonstrated when a 75 year old camper with an intellectual disability flew down an ninety foot zip line.  Taking an individual’s abilities and adapting the environment to fit them instead of the other way around became real when a young man with cerebral palsy climbed to the top of a tree with the use of a sling and belay system.  Experiencing these values among others, as well as meeting and working with the people that I have throughout the past few years have completely changed the way I view the world, my own personal struggles, and has changed my entire perspective on what is important in life. I continue to be inspired by every individual I meet. The basic principles of respect and acceptance drive me to inspire others to see this population for what they truly are, but all to commonly overlooked; deserving people with dreams, passion, and abilities, just like everybody else. 

 It has been my privilege to have had all of these awesome experiences. I strive to never stop learning and empowering all those I come into contact with. One day, I hope to direct a facility as a CTRS, like Camp Courageous, that will allow everyone to experience life to the fullest, in a place that enables them to do the things that other people tell them they will never do; because, at the heart of everything, “we are more alike than we are different.”  

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." Jeremiah 29:11

Hello Blog World! This first post is an explaination about why I'm writing this. I promise in the future, they all won't be this long :)

My time at UNI has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not only have I made some amazing friends, found new passion and purpose, but am also continuing to learn more about myself.  It has been an incredible time that I like to call, “The Journey to Trust”.  As time went on I found myself becoming more and more aware of a growing nudge that was Christ trying to be the center of my life and that the presence of the plan He had for me.

The journey took off full speed sophomore year with learning to trust Him financially (not an easy feat). Because my financial aid covered all but $3000, I had to make rather large payments every month. Through all the stress and the constant fear of not making my payments, I found that I not only always managed to scrape enough money together to pay my tuition bill, I was left with a little extra. I was not making enough money at the time for this to even be possible. During this time I was also questioning my decision to become a P.E. teacher, it just didn't feel right. Half way through this year, I found myself at Student Advising, and talked to an advisor about my love for activity, teaching, and Occupational Therapy, as well as my doubts about my current path. She recommended Therapeutic Recreation, and signed me up for the TR Foundations class, as well as a few introductory LYHS classes. Within minutes of my first lectures, I knew that I had found the field that I was supposed to be in.

At the end of sophomore year, I was closing down the rec center, (where I was very tired of working) and one of our regulars came up to the desk and asked what I was doing with my life. I told him about my new found love of TR and Leisure services and talked about my dream to work in a camp-like setting where I would actively change kids' lives, but be able to be behind the scenes running the show too. His eyes got wide, and his mouth fell open. He then said, "you have got to be kidding me. I have been looking for someone to do that exact job." I knew at that point, that I wasn't going to be planning my own summer. I became Mobile Camp Coordinator, for Quakerdale Youth Services, a Christian at-risk youth serving agency based in East Waterloo. This was a summer job that provided financial relief, accompanied with a taste of the field He wanted me in, and most importantly, a lesson in standing strong in Him and following what He said minute by minute. This last lesson was learned through a crazy situation at our Des Moines location, where God worked directly through our kids and my counselors to show his love and power of HIS will in bringing the ones He loves to Him.

Another big lesson came in my junior year and taking classes that had so many itty bitty details I thought my head was going to fall right off my shoulders it was so full. This year taught me to persevere, that this is what I am supposed to be doing when I didn’t even want to continue. It also led me to the most wonderful place I have found so far, Camp Courageous. This is a year round camp for kids and adults with special needs. The summer spent there led me to even more amazing friends, fantastic learning experiences, a new appreciation for the life I have been given, and the ability to help others experience the life they deserve.

Which brings me to the present, Senior Year of College. Or I guess, senior semester of college. I will be done with my classes in December and have decided to move back to Monticello to work and live at Camp Courageous. I will then come back to UNI in May, graduate and leave to go on my internship, hopefully either at camp, or at another camp in Indiana. 

Sooo yeah, that very long post is the short version of my college experience. The rest of this blog will be about the adventures that I will take on in the very short future. I know that God has is directing my life and I couldn't be happier. I've tried- and sometimes still try- to do it myself, but have found that His ideas are muuuuuch better! The Trust is there, now I just have to learn to fully rely on it.