The Land Between

A photo by Tim de Groot. unsplash.com/photos/M_eB1UjE0do

GOD, your God, has blessed you in everything you have done. He has guarded you in your travels through this immense wilderness. For forty years now, GOD, your God, has been right here with you. You haven’t lacked one thing. Deuteronomy 2:7 (MSG)

I’ve been quiet since I graduated. I’ve started writing this post dozens of times… well, at least I’ve thought about starting it. I kept putting it off because I knew it would be difficult. Putting all of these things into actual words might hurt. But maybe, like the rain that we so desperately needed is falling outside my window to revive the fields, writing this will revitalize my spirit.

I’ve had the tendency to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. The glass is half-full. And I’ll have a job before I graduate. No sweat.

Ha.

But I moved home with some job leads and a reality that I could be moving to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks.

I’m still here. Half of my life and all of my tea is still boxed away in the basement. And it’s free rent, so no arguments there. But it’s been hard to keep playing Pollyanna. I’ve been called out by my family for my attitude, which is not a new thing, but not something that happens frequently.

I’ve struggled being home for the longest time ever in a year and half. I’ve struggled watching my classmates get jobs. I’ve struggled with the deafening silence that meets most of my job applications. I’ve struggled with entry-level positions that want 3 years of experience. I’ve struggled with the uncertainty of making long-term plans. I’ve struggled with not having a job for the first time in six years.

I’ve applied to 63 jobs.

Sixty-three.

Silence.

I’m plagued with questions from myself and others. What do you want to do? What are you looking for? Have you looked here? Here? Here? Are your standards too high?

Waiting. Applying. E-mailing.

Wandering.

The church I attended in college (Oh Commonway, how I miss you.) did a sermon series on Moses over the summer. And I was listening to one titled The Land Between in which Pastor Matt spoke on the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert. And I thought to myself, “Yes, that’s where I am.”

I’m just wandering around. Not in the wilderness but in the Land ‘o Goshen. Though some may say they’re the same thing.

Someday, somewhere, I know that the Promise Land (see: job) lies in my future. Not a dream job. But at least a purpose. Something to wake up for in the morning. I’m waiting for positive responses to my applications like waiting for answers to come down from Mount Sinai.

Over dramatic? Maybe. But these waves of melancholy tend to leave me as such. And like the Israelites, despite all of the blessings God has given me, I too, have found it hard to trust Him. 

It’s been so easy to get discouraged. Doubtful. What have I done with my summer? How is it already August?

And I don’t have any answers. I don’t know why I’m still here, unemployed, half-scared to be stuck in Goshen forever and half-scared to leave. And it’s been easy to mark my entire summer off as a failure. I forget about the manna. I’m missing the forest for the trees. Those silver linings have tarnished. I’m missing how God has been providing for me. Some I’ve pushed aside—forgetting to pause and appreciate the sunflowers that have been given to me this summer, and some that will come into focus when I move out of this season of my life.

I was able to see two high school friends and a cousin get married this summer because I’ve been home. I’ve attended bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and baby showers because I am home. I was able to go meet my pen pal from Ontario and attend her wedding because I didn’t have a job to work around. I was able to visit MBZ in Crown Point because my weeks were free. I was able to hang out with my brother and sister-in-law when they came home for July 4th because I was still at home. I was able to make a new friend because I am home. I’ve had adventures with my mom because I am home. I’ve taken MBZ all over Goshen when she’s visited her beau because I’m still in Goshen. I could do a round of Whole 30 with my parents because I am home. I could go on an overnight shopping adventure in Schaumburg, IL with my sister because I am home and don’t have a job.

These are some of my summer Ruth Blessings. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem with Ruth, her daughter-in-law, she became Mara, bitter. But, cultural issues about not having a male provider aside, I always felt like Ruth was slighted in this change of Naomi’s. Ruth stayed by her side and through her presence God continued to bless Naomi. Ruth gleaned in the fields. Ruth found a provider and protector. Ruth gives her a grandbaby.

“He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Ruth 4:15 (ESV)

More to you than seven sons.

Sometimes, you just don’t know what something can grow into. Like those people you pick out and decide to just spend a lot of time with… you know, friends.

I’ve been blessed with friends who are always up for long chats. Phone. Facetime. Texting. Coffee at the Brew. Bubble tea on courthouse steps. I am blessed with a group of girls who all revive my spirit in unique and different ways. When my worries, anxieties, and my inability to pause because I run around like a wind-up car—in uncertain paths and running into the occasional wall. Or a solar-powered hula dancing girl.  They hold the key to wind me back up. They are the sun that recharges my wiggle. The Ruth to my Mara (babies not necessary).

So I’m continuing to hula along. I’ve decided it’s time to settle in. Who knows, I might be here for awhile. That tea may be unpacked. September 1st, I’ll head to the temp agency and see what jobs I can find. I’m finding a Sunday School to belong to. I’m considering volunteering with middle school or junior high girls. I’ll begin to cultivate a life in the Land ‘o Goshen. To try and become content.

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.” – The Secret Garden

And besides, I’m not alone. Though sometimes it’s hard to believe.

“God, I’m sick of this, but I’m going to trust that you see what I’m going through. I’m gonna trust that you’re with me even in this.” – Matt Carder, Pastor at Commonway Church, Muncie, Indiana

 


 

This has been a crazy-long post, and thanks for making it through the analogies, cliches, and idioms. And the general crazy word-vomiting of my soul. I’ve had three months of angsty roller-coaster thoughts to work through. We’ll take a lighter turn for the next few posts… including a recap on my trip to Canada!🙂

Brand New Leaves: Thoughts on Graduation

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“Life is unpredictable,
It changes with the seasons,
Even your coldest winter,
Happens for better reasons,
And though it feels eternal,
Like all you’ll ever do is freeze,
I promise spring is coming,
And with it, brand new leaves.”

– e.h

I don’t think I ever really prepared myself for the inevitable end of college.

Goodbyes.

Packing up my nest.

I spent most of this year in denial.

There would be no goodbyes.

There would be no last times.

I made myself believe that time would stand still.

I made my website. I went to a conference. I went to portfolio reviews. And then on the first day of April, I cracked. I had a portfolio review the next day. I had very little sleep all week preparing for this review and was spending my class time arguing with the printer. And I left class on the verge of tears. My fears about the future and the stress that had been building up all year finally broke me. But I was going to work, and so tears would have to wait. Note to self: cry later.

I’ve had a lot of conversations with Morgen about this. 1,481 miles away and she has still been the voice of reason in my world. She has this uncanny ability to verbalize what I’m going through. She is the verbose princess. 

“I feel like I’m doing a lot of growing up at once,” she said.

And that’s really what it feels like. And it hurts, man. It’s frightening.

And it’s overwhelming, along with everything else. Like the ground here; it’s been brown since winter, but all at once, after the snow, it’s suddenly green, and there was no warning, and everything changes. And it’s beautiful but it’s new. Sometimes you feel like creeping back to what’s been, but that doesn’t mean that will stop spring from coming.     – The Verbose Princess

And spring is coming. Although it can be hard to see it. Or understand it. And with all of these goodbyes to say and decisions about the future to make, it’s hard to know which path you should take.

There’s an essay by Dr. A.W. Tozer (Miracles Follow the Plow) that seems fitting as our lives are ripped apart and pieced back together.

Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12)

“…the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken.

But its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it.”

School is all I have known for 17 years. I have measured my years in semesters and summer vacations. Year after year, it’s been the same. The path was straight and I knew it well. It’s hard to see that there is a place in the world outside of that for me. There’s a bend in my path. But like Anne Shirley, “I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.”

“It’s a rough time,” Morgen agreed, “but it’s got an expiration date. It’ll keep going if we do.”

But how? How can I keep going and going. I leave campus and all I want to do is curl into a ball and sleep. Or cry. And nurse a cuppa. In one of these times of crumbling, I received a letter from Morgen:

Yesterday I went for a run, the kind that is fueled by emotional necessity, rather than healthy motivation. I looked out at the piles of dirt and caught my breath, and remembered how amazed I was that these massive piles of dirt and stone stay standing through all the wind and rain. “What is holding this up?” And I wondered the same thing yesterday. And it occurred to me that I ask the same thing of myself. I look at myself and wonder if I’ll crumble, who I’ll hurt, and what I can weather. And God is like “It’s the same thing holding you both up.” So I’m a pendulum swinging back and forth between okay and crumbling, and that’s just where I’m at. But I can’t help but believe that this is an essential time.

Essential time. It’s true. It’s a step we must take. It hurts. It’s uncertain. But it’s important. It’s important for my future around that bend in the road. It’s important for my relationships with my friends and for my relationship with my heavenly father.

I have faith that God has a plan for me. But as cloudy as that is, I’m not waiting. And I don’t think I’m supposed to wait. I’ve been reading The First Time We Saw Him by Matt Mikalatos recently.

“We are inadequate to accomplish the impossible. We have insufficient power to do the miraculous. … He merely wants our participation. He could have made lunch for all five thousand people with a clap of his hands. …We ask for the miraculous, and he expects us to participate in the miracle he provides. We are inadequate and we realize we don’t have enough. He tells us to simply bring everything we do have. We bring it all even though it’s insufficient, and he makes up the difference using his divine power. …He tells a man with a twisted hand to stretch it out. he tells a man with withered legs to stand up and walk. At the very least, he asks us to participate in his miracles by having faith. He doesn’t need our faith to do the miraculous, yet he often tells people in Scripture, ‘Your faith has healed you.’ We provide faith or water or fish, and he provides the miracle. ”

Faith is not an idle grace. So I’m applying for jobs while praying for guidance… and a job.

 

Morgen: Young adulthood feels like a second puberty
Kelly: This is young adulthood?
Morgen: I don’t know…what is it? Emerging adulthood?
Kelly: putting adulthood into practice
Morgen: Training wheels come off, and here we go. Tassels on handlebars, helmets on sideways, elbows poised for cement scrapes.

We might be swinging back and forth between okay and crumbling, but here we go.

Sugar Cream Pie

Guys. I made pie.

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All by myself.

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Without my mom.

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Aye.. that’s the clincher… without my mom.

The crust had some issues, my water wasn’t cold enough  when I added it and so it was easily ripped. But there was one crust that wasn’t too patched up and I had big plans for it. I was going to make a Sugar Cream pie.

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Sugar Cream pie is the state pie of Indiana, so, fun fact for you. The ingredients are pretty basic. Nothing too fancy. But you do need to make sure your crust doesn’t have cracks in it that the liquid could leak through when baking.

Enough chit chat. Here’s the recipe:

Sugar Cream Pie  (For 2 pies)

Combine:
1 c br. sugar
1 c sugar
1/2 c flour

Add:
5 c cream

In a separate bowl beat 2 egg whites until foamy. Add to other mixture. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes and then turn it down to 300 for 30-45.

Me Before You – Book Review

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Book crossed off my reading challenge: A book that’s becoming a movie this year.

They’re making it into a movie, and the trailer looks soooooo good! I bet the book is great!

That’s not always a good rule of thumb. Reading The Time Traveler’s Wife has scarred me for life. 

That is not the case with Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I laughed. I cried.

“The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life–or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window–is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.”

Louisa Clark is a lovable character, stuck in her hometown with no aspirations. Will Traynor is wheelchair-bound in his hometown and would rather die. Literally. You join Louisa on a rough journey trying to change Will’s mind. When they’re thrown together everyday, they catch a glimpse of how the other half lives. And ultimately end up changing each other’s lives in some way.

I didn’t necessarily agree with the ending. And, oh boy, the tears were flowing. But I’m very interested in reading the sequel, to see how the story progresses.

I found the book strangely encouraging. I understood Louisa and her trepidation to leave the place she had grown up. She had a home to belong to. A relationship in a rut. She was comfortable. Her other reasons, are more removed from my life than the feeling of comfort and a place of belonging. But Will pushes her to leave, to dream big, to live.

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

With graduation and my future looming ahead of me, I need that push. Not to run home and live in my hometown forever, unless I actually manage to find a job there, but to go out and and dream big.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shopping for a red dress and a pair of bumblebee tights.

Anne of Green Gables – Book Review

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“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Guys. I love Anne of Green Gables. Like, almost obsessively so. There are so many aspects about this delightful girl that reminds me of myself. When I found out there was a reading challenge for this series this year, I was definitely going to participate!

Because I don’t have a lot of time to read, I was listening to it on LibriVox. LibriVox is a wonderful website. Volunteers record themselves reading books in the public domain and anyone can listen to them for free. I love Karen Savage’s recordings, she has a wonderful voice that is very easy to listen to and understand.

But back to Anne. She’s wonderful. Sometimes I can really connect with her melodrama on a deep level.

“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

She has such a keen imagination, that sometimes gets her into a spot of trouble. And I can definitely connect with that.

This first book is first about Anne finding a home, friends, and love. They say home is where the heart is set in stone. Having a home is such an important thing to me. It’s not a place, it’s a feeling. And I think that is what Anne found when Marilla and Matthew accepted her into their home. She wasn’t there because they wanted a boy, she was there because Marilla thought they could help her and accepted her into their lives and their home. And even though Matthew never got that boy to help him on the farm, he wouldn’t have traded her for all of the boys in the world. He gave her puffed sleeves and love. She gained friends, specifically, a kindred spirit, Diana. She was Anne’s first true friend. And it’s a friendship that (spoiler alert) lasts for the entire series. Those true friends can be hard to find, but oh-so-wonderful to hold onto. And I’m so thankful for those in mine.

You can’t wrap up a post about Anne of Green Gables without Gil-that boy! You can keep your Mr. Darcys… I just need a Gilbert Blythe. He’s dreamy and wonderful and gave up the Avonlea School so she could stay home with Marilla.

Dreamy.

Anne has an incredible imagination, a full heart, and knows how to find the beauty in everything. Except maybe green hair.

“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

Julie & Julia and Finding a Passion

Sometimes it’s easier to answer the question “Who am I not?” than “Who am I?”. I’m employed, but I do not have a career. I like to dabble on this blog, but I’m not a writer. I bake, but I’m not a baker. I cook , but I’m not a chef – let’s be honest, I rarely actually follow the recipe. I’ve sewn, but I’m not a seamstress. I can play piano, but I’m not a pianist. I’ve acted, but I’m not an actress.

I’m in the throes (maybe a bit melodramatic) of self-branding and website building before I can officially start applying for jobs. Writing essays for college applications is a process of humble-bragging to admissions people you will (most likely) never meet. Self-branding as a designer is making visual decisions to represent yourself to future employers. It’s more than my grades, my school, and my work experience. It’s also the design of my resume and my body of work that I present. It’s not just the facts, it’s the presentation.

Kind of like food. My mom always says, “You eat the food with your eyes first”

I watched Julie and Julia (2009)  the other weekend. My reasoning was three-fold: One – It’s about cooking (and food) which is so important to my inner mennonite and I love watching people that are passionate about it. Two – Meryl Streep + Amy Adams. Three – Stanley Tucci, he’s so fabulous he gets his own number. I’ve been known to watch films just because he’s in it. I want need to have coffee with him. All quotes are from the film and I have not looked into their accuracy in real life vs movie life.

Julia Child was in Paris with her husband who was working there and didn’t know what to do with herself.

Paul Child: What is it you REALLY like to do?
Julia Child: Eat!

And so she made a life out of what she liked to do. She enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu and that was that. Simple. Well, not so simple really and she had her own mountains to climb. But she knew what she liked, found her passion, and pursued it.

Julie was stuck in temp jobs. She wanted to be a writer and had an unfinished novel. She had a friend who blogged and thought she could do it too, she just needed something to blog about. Enter: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She already loved cooking as a way to unwind after a long day, so she found what she loved, and made it work for her. Side note: Julie had never had an egg until she started cooking through Julia’s cookbook. I, on the other hand seem to survive on a steady diet of eggs, bananas, greek yogurt, and oatmeal.

Amy Robinson, the producer says in the special features:

I hope that this story can be both a fun movie and a delicious movie that’s gonna make you want to go out and eat but also something that may inspire, particularly women to say, you know what? What do I really love? And what can I do with that and make something with my life and try to pursue it?

So what are you passionate about? I love design, but specifically, I love making things beautiful and I love making beautiful things. I also love food and my heritage. Is there a way to combine all the things? Make my own cookbook? Actually, the film makes me want to cook through someone’s cookbook. Not, however, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have no desire to cook a calve’s leg, “murder and dismember a crustacean”, or de-bone a duck.

Maybe I will do something like that, someday. I’ve given myself and completed 3 creative challenges. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. And giving yourself a set amount of time is something very important. One of my favorite choral composers, Eric Whitacre, mentioned it in his talk at my university a few years ago and it’s very true for me. No deadline, no work. But ah, the deadline to figure out what to do post-graduation is very real, and coming quicker every day.

Julia Child: [on her book being published by Knopf] Is is kun-Na-pf or NOFF?
Paul Child: Who cares!

And isn’t that the spirit? Sometimes I’m a bit too much like Julia here – concerned about the details. The 5 W’s and an H. These are all important things, but sometimes I need the enthusiasm of Paul. Yes, I’m in my last stretch of schooling and staring into an abyss of questions. But: I’m graduating! 4 years of dedication to my passion of making things beautiful and making beautiful things. It’s a time for celebration and cheers to new beginnings.

Despite unknowns, this I know for sure: I’m loved unconditionally by my heavenly father who died for me and a family that loves me even when I talk too much. Every year is a year of self-discovery, I suppose. I propose a toast: to the year of graduating, reading, learning about myself, and becoming a designer*. Please excuse me now, I need to go work on my website and my elevator pitch.

Recommend reading: If Stanley Tucci was your Boyfriend

 

2016 Reading Challenge(s)

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love to read. As a child, I would bring home huge stacks of books from the library. My brother and sister finally insisted I move up from the children’s section, because they were tired of driving me to the library! But now, since the invention of the internet (Netflix), grabbing a book in my free time isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind. When I do have free time, that is. So I’ve given myself a reading challenge. Four reading challenges actually.

I found one for Anne of Green Gables. So of course I said yes! As if I need an excuse to reread my beloved Anne stories! It’s one Anne-girl book a month, which doesn’t add up to 12, so we’ll add in some more L.M. Montgomery tales.

The same blogger also as a Grown Up Reading Challenge. 1

Then PopSugar’s challenge:

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And it ended with Goodreads. I said I’d read 30 books.

So obviously, these lists will be combined with each other, but just finishing the Anne challenge gets me a 1/3 of the way through my Goodreads challenge. Sometimes I may use audiobooks, and I am a big fan of rereading books, so these may not all be new to me. But I’ll make sure it’s a true rereading and not just skimming my favorite parts🙂 Am I crazy? Probably. But it’s not about just finishing the challenges… it’s about reading.

Are you participating in any reading challenges this year?