Archive for the ‘Chronicles’ Category

Lately…

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Hi there! It has been nearly a month since I’ve blogged…I just became completely consumed with school. I found summer quarter challenging because the weather was so beautiful here in the Seattle area, especially in July. It was hard to focus on this…

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When the outdoors looked like this!

GreenLake

I found everything inside of me resistant to studying, but I stuck it out and basically made my home in the library for a couple weeks. After one intense day of finals it felt soooooo good to be done! I forgot how amazing it feels at the end of a quarter to be finished and throw all your papers away.

The past week or so I’ve just been catching up on sleep, meeting with friends I haven’t seen for awhile, and of course keeping busy with work and volunteering. I have some blog posts in the works, so I’m glad to be re-entering the online world too!

Thank you for your patience, and for still checking this blog! What have you been up to this summer?

I hope you have a great Monday!

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Quote/Thoughts on Time

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

GreenLake

It’s nearly midnight and I just can’t sleep! My legs are aching from a long run this morning, and my mind is tired from cramming for my Organic Chem test this afternoon. I’m actually a very good sleeper but it’s just one of those nights. I’m not complaining though, I actually feel quite content with life because I really wanted to get that test out of the way!

Since I’m up (and trying not to keep counting the diminishing hours until my alarm goes off at 5am) I thought I’d write a quick post about a quote I’ve been thinking about lately. It has to do with time.

I know I’m still relatively young, but now that I’m in my late 20s it just seems like time flies by incredibly quickly! I feel like I blink and another day has passed. This has been bothering me a little, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Then one day I was flipping through a C.S. Lewis book I haven’t read yet, Reflections on the Psalms. I came across the last page, and this quote:

“Our hope (is) finally to emerge, if not altogether from time…at any rate from the tyranny, the unilinear poverty, of time, to ride it not to be ridden by it, and so to cure that always aching wound…which mere successions and mutability inflict on us, almost equally when we are happy and when we are unhappy. For we are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. ‘How he’s grown!’ we exclaim, ‘How time flies!’ as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.”

Sometimes just having someone define what you feel makes it much better…I’m still uncomfortable with the way time flies, but this quote is a reminder why. In the previous pages he talks about how we have tasted of the eternal and how we long to be with God. It is a tension that, for the Christian, exists constantly. (See Hebrews 11:13-16).

So anyway…I was just starting to get sleepy from writing this out and noticed a huge enormous spider scuttling around my room!! We had an epic battle to the death and now I think I’ll have to make some tea to relax from all this adventure.

I’ll be back on Friday with a video I filmed a couple weeks ago showing some of my favorite drug store beauty products of the last few months. Thanks for reading my late-night ramblings (I know this post was a bit random)! I hope you have a good Wednesday!

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My New Career

Friday, July 12th, 2013

For a while now I’ve been wanting to sit down and write a post about my new career direction. Partly because I just want to share my excitement with any of you who read my blog, and also because I know that trouble figuring out career direction is a common affliction. If sharing my journey helps anyone else then that alone is reason enough to write it out!

As a child, I never had a burning desire to be one thing or another. We were homeschooled, and our days were filled with room for creative freedom, so there was a lot of space for writing, reading, playing imaginative games etc. I knew that I would always want to write, but I didn’t really bother about the future. I’m glad because I had a beautiful childhood.

When I got to college, I still had no idea what to do so I majored in Communication. I actually really loved my degree. My professors had such varied, friendly, interesting personalities, and I learned valuable skills in classes like Public Speaking, Argumentation, Interpersonal Communication, etc. One of my best moments was writing a 10-page paper on Friends for my Public and the Media class, and getting an A. Best major ever!

While at college, I was lucky enough to get a job at Starbucks in Queen Anne. It was an excellent store – right in the heart of Seattle, with an interesting customer base of neighborhood regulars, college students, and city people. After a year and a half I transferred to University Village Starbucks, which I absolutely loved. At the time this was the busiest Starbucks in America, and second busiest in the world. You had to really throw yourself into the work in order to get through a line that sometimes consisted of 100 customers. One of my supervisors described our team of baristas as an army heading out to war together, and that’s what it felt like!

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Here I am pictured in a Japanese magazine featuring different Starbucks around the world

After graduating college, I continued to work at Starbucks and also had an internship with a local Christian radio station. This was really awesome experience, because I was allowed a lot of creative freedom. We started a page on the website called “Society and Culture” and I wrote book, movie, CD and concert reviews. I also got to interview many different artists. It was such an amazing opportunity, and I learned a lot. In some ways this blog is a continuation of that kind of work, which I’ve always loved doing.

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Meeting Shawn McDonald

In the fall of 2006, I decided last minute to do a Discipleship Training School with the Christian mission organization Youth With a Mission (YWAM). This school included three months in Montana taking classes, and a two-month outreach to Thailand. It was one of the most challenging, best things I’ve ever done. It was the perfect time in my life to do something like this too. I learned to step outside my comfort zone and follow after God.

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thailand

I also came away with a sense that God was asking me to work in a secular place, and not to necessarily make my career in the church or in official ministry. However, I again had no clue what to do once I was back home, so when my pastor called asking if I would consider a part-time job as office administrator, I quickly took the job.

Around this time I also had a great desire to work for magazines, as I enjoyed writing and sharing in this way, but staff positions were becoming increasingly rare as the internet took over, and also I lived in Seattle.

After working for church and nannying on the side, I eventually took a job at the Starbucks corporate office. I was working in the customer service department, with the hope of moving up in the company to more of a communications/marketing oriented position. I really loved it there! I was working with many people and supervisors I had worked with in the stores, and eventually my sister came as well.

However, this was 2009 and hard times for Starbucks. This is around the time they were closing a lot of stores and reorienting their business approach. The customer service department was on shaky ground, and finally there occurred two different rounds of layoffs. It was awful, emotional and awful!! Many of my friends from the stores were laid off. I survived the layoffs, but decided I should leave before they outsourced the department, which they eventually did.

(I should note that I still love Starbucks, have really great memories from my time there, and am a regular customer.)

I took the first job I could find at a small family-owned company in the insurance industry. I was the marketing assistant. I stayed there about a year and a half. This season was the unhappiest I’ve ever been at a job. Much of this is because of my own personal confusion. I just was not feeling any purpose in the work I was doing. (However, I do want to say I really loved the people I worked with, who became my friends. I have a lot of positive memories from work travel and other opportunities, and working out together on lunch break!)

I decided to quit, and take some time off to nanny and really figure out what I should do with my life. I joined a nanny agency and matched up with a family I’ve now been with for two years. I just have to say God was really watching out for me, because spending time with my little buddies has been the best season of rest and joy that I ever could have asked for. It never feels like going to “work” and I even look forward to Monday mornings, which says a lot!

Throughout the 7 years since graduating college, I have experienced varying degrees of confusion as to what my career should be. I am very left-handed/right-brained, and I knew I loved creative work. However, I had a feeling it would be quenching to depend on creativity for my income.

About four months ago it was suggested to me that I look into nursing. People have suggested this before, but I always dismissed it. I thought I could never survive the science classes, and what if I made a mistake and caused hurt to someone else?

However, at this particular moment I suddenly felt a lightbulb go off. And then I felt a burden slip off my back and fly away. I just had this feeling that this was exactly what I was supposed to do.

I took a couple days to pray about it, and then I began asking friends and family for advice and opinions. I talked to friends who had gone back to school for nursing, and I talked with my aunt and my grandma who are both nurses. I then enrolled in Chemistry for spring quarter.

The more I looked into this career, the more I felt it was the right decision for me. I realized all the reasons I’d avoided it were based out of fear. I got 100% on my first chemistry test and a 4.0 in the class. This meant a lot to me and became kind of symbolic – a sign that you should never avoid something just because you’re afraid of it!

I realized that in the end, it was most important to me to work with people. Throughout my different jobs I’ve always felt the most purpose when I’m meeting people, caring for them, listening to their concerns, etc.

I should also mention that I started this blog up right around the time I left my marketing job. I knew that I needed a creative outlet, and this has been the perfect one! No matter how busy I become over the next couple years of school, I’m determined to keep this blog going. Thank you so much to any of you who read, it means  a lot to me!

So this is where I am now – enrolled in summer classes, still nannying, and also volunteering in the ER of a local hospital. This volunteering shift has been one of the most fulfilling, exciting, frightening things I’ve ever done. I was so nervous before I started that I watched a bunch of Scrubs episodes, because I had no other way of feeling prepared to step into a medical environment I knew nothing about. But so far, the people I work with have been really friendly and helpful.

scrubs

The ER is a unique environment – fast-paced, unpredictable, and filled with suffering faces. I have to say though that volunteering there has been the final confirmation I needed to know that nursing is the course for me. Even though right now my tasks mostly consist of stocking supplies and cleaning up blood etc, I feel filled with purpose. The ER isn’t really a place where anyone coming in wants to be. And while it is so overwhelming to see faces drawn with pain, husbands sobbing into their wives arms, or even enter a room where there is a life passing away from this world, I feel so close to God while I’m there. God is close to those who are suffering, and so much of what Jesus did was to walk among the broken and touch them with his healing hands. If my work makes me feel even a tiny bit closer to God, then that right there is reason enough to pursue it.

So that’s my story! It’s been a journey, and it’s strange to be starting all over at 28-almost-29. But one thing I can say is that God has been so faithful to me through every step. Even when I was confused and the future was so unclear, I can now look back and see reasons for those seasons. While I truly feel I’m walking in His will and have found the right career, I also know that no job is perfect. No job should ultimately define who you are. I think I learned this the hard way when I really couldn’t find a job to define me. I’ve learned to simply ask for God’s direction each day, and follow it to the best of my ability. And that is the best adventure anyone could ever have.

Thank you so much for reading this novel of a post – if you made it to the end I am impressed!! Thank you also for reading my blog. If you are struggling with figuring out your career, just remember that seasons change, and sometimes this change comes from a direction you never would have expected. :)

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Feeling Stuck

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

huntington

From 2009 to somewhere in 2012, I experienced something I’m going to call “being stuck”. I never would have thought to write about it on this blog, except that within the last month or so three different friends (all around 2-5 years younger than me) have said to me: “I just feel so stuck.” I realized this is something that may be commonly afflicting young adults in their 20s or even early 30s. Since I can now say that I have completely moved past this season of my life, I thought I would write a little about the mindset that helped me out, in the hope that it will help others who are currently going through this.

“Stuck” is a broad word and can apply to many areas of life. Personally, I went through varying degrees of a quarter-life crisis, an identity crisis, and a somewhat mild version of what St. John of the Cross calls the “dark night of the soul”.

I hesitated to even write about this, because I don’t want to give the wrong impression. I’m a resilient optimist by nature, and am not prone toward gloominess. I would not go so far as to say I was depressed during this time. I felt normal, except for an underlying frustration with where my life was at, which occasionally erupted into an anguish that I couldn’t quite explain.

For me, this crisis was brought on by a mixture of change in some places and lack of change in others. I was unhappy in my work, but unable to think of a better career option. I also felt distant from God for the first time in my life. I really experienced this at night. I dreaded those few moments between when I turned off my light and when I fell asleep, because I felt distant from Him.

Above all, I felt stuck geographically. I’ve lived in the Seattle area all my life, and I longed for the adventure of starting somewhere totally new. However, I lacked the financial resources to do this. I also didn’t like the feeling of discontent that accompanied my wanderlust…it just didn’t feel right. So I stayed home and felt stuck.

I’m thinking there are likely others out there going through some version of the same season. I think these quarter-life crises/stuck seasons come upon us for several reasons. One is that in our American culture we find a large amount of identity in our career and relationship status.

This is reinforced by the amount of time we spend on Facebook or other social media platforms. I’m not saying this is bad in itself, but it can lead to an unhealthy amount of comparing our lives to others. Facebook is where we post the highlights of our lives, and present the side of us we wish the world to see (which of course can still be genuine). It’s easy to scroll through and feel as though everyone is married, everyone has babies, everyone has a good job and thriving social life. It’s easy to compare and then feel lacking.

Secondly, these seasons come on us because young adulthood is a time when major life changes are happening. We may have been in school for a long time, following a structured life with instant feedback on our work performance, and suddenly we are out in the messy unstructured world. Friends make decisions and become different people, and places and communities where we have placed our identity shift and change. Most of us find that life just hasn’t played out exactly the way we expected when we were young.

If you are going through anything similar to this, or feeling stuck in any other way, here are three bits of advice I can give you.

Bloom where you are planted
This mindset is absolutely what brought me healing. This phrase echoed in my mind constantly during the last year of my stuck season, until I started really living it.

One example is my church. In early 2011 I left a church I had attended for about five years, and spent a whole summer exploring local churches and trying to find the right place to attend. The church I finally decided on was also the first one I had visited. I initially hesitated to go there, because from what I could see there were no single people my age at all (contrasted to other in-city churches in Seattle). However, it became clear to me that this was where I was supposed to go, and I wasn’t about to go somewhere with different values/theologies just because of the social scene. For the first year or so that I attended, I sat by myself and bolted at the end without meeting anyone.

However, towards the second year “bloom where you’re planted” started to take root. I began to become involved, volunteer and attend events. I started attending the young adults group. Although there still isn’t a huge group exactly my age, it no longer matters to me. It is so fulfilling to be exactly where I know God wants me, to see Him working, and to hear teaching that is right on. I feel like I’m experiencing a special season in this church and especially in the young adults group. One of the things I want most in life is to know that I’m where God wants me in that moment, and this is exactly what I feel about my church.

Blooming where you’re planted also means living in the moment. Many single people feel stuck and long to be married, which is natural and understandable. But many young mothers, who have everything a single person longs for, might also feel just as stuck, especially if they’re home caring for a baby.

These desires are often good and worth working toward. However, obsessing about them or expecting them to bring total fulfillment is going to lead to a frustrating cycle.

I have come into the mindset where I look on each day as important in itself. Today is the day that is real. Tomorrow is not yet real, and I have no control over what it will look like. Living for today, and asking God for His will for this day, creates an exciting and fulfilling life.

Let go
This concept is a Christian one. It is totally opposite to the secular mindset, which encourages us to strive and spend all our energy chasing after the things that we want.

Many young adults have strong desires for things that are natural and good – career,  adventure, marriage, children, etc. And there is nothing wrong with desiring these things. But in my opinion, even if they’re honorable desires, you have to let them go. At least for a time. Even good desires can imprison us. The amount of time we spend dreaming/longing for things could be a distraction from what God is trying to do today.

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.” Ecc 11:1

“To this John replied, ‘A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.’“ John 3:27

Of course I don’t mean we shouldn’t take steps forward in life. If you want a career, you should research options and seek help, etc. I think “letting go” is an attitude. You can still move toward your desires without desperately clutching for them.

It is amazing too how breakthrough, or change, can happen so suddenly and often when we least expect it. It’s just the best when that happens, because in the meantime we have been living a full life.

Pray about it
This is important. It’s so easy to forget to pray! Sometimes I think I’m praying about things but actually I’m just sitting, staring into space and thinking about them. For this reason it is important to be intentional about prayer, and speak out loud if at all possible.

(One note on all of this: If you’re feeling stuck in an unhealthy situation – weight, finances, relationships – then I don’t think blooming where you’re planted and letting it go applies. By all means, muscle your way out of it and work toward goals. Number 3 still applies though!)

One more thing to remember – these seasons don’t last forever. Whether or not you feel stuck you probably have experienced a quarter-life crisis at some point (or it’s coming for you soon). Just remember that it won’t last forever.

Today I feel more joy than I’ve felt in a long time, maybe even since I was a child. My heart is completely full.

I can sit and list out the five or six things I want most to experience or accomplish in life. I don’t have them today, but yet my heart is satisfied. I still desire these things, but I know that it’s not even logistically possible for all of them to happen. So I trust God, and pray for help to walk on the pathway He is showing me each day. Instead of feeling stuck and boring, life has become a vibrant, alarmingly exciting, fulfilling adventure.

A note on my “dark night of the soul”. At some point I came across a quote from C.S. Lewis that says “The ‘hiddenness’ of God perhaps presses most painfully on those who are in another way nearest to Him.” I don’t include this quote to say that I assume I’m nearer to Him than others. It just changed my perspective – I realized that the desperation I felt for God was in some ways a gift. That season of my life is over, and these days I feel His presence around me in a new way. He has spoken to me in clear ways like I’ve never experienced before. Growing up in the church, it’s easy to just follow the motions and Christian culture that feels normal. I’m so glad I went through that painful “distance” because I now feel a newness and freshness around my time with Him.

As far as my geographical location – I have let it go. I don’t have the feeling that I’ll live in Seattle all my life, but I believe that I’ll know when the time and circumstances are right to make a change. In the meantime, I’m enjoying all that the area has to offer.

I find a lot of fulfillment in the little things these days. I enjoy writing this blog, and taking the time to be creative through areas like this. I find joy in the total unknown of tomorrow, because every day I’m asking God to lead me on the journey He wants me to take. It is sure to be an adventure.

I hope my own experience can be helpful to you if you’re going through this as well!

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Jessie's Kitchen Chronicles