H e l l o || n i n e t e e n

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The past 365 days have contained more than I would have known to dream up. Today I leave 18 behind…

This time last year, I was finishing my final weeks at missions school. Homework, class sessions, sleeplessness, to-dos, and time with Jesus filled my time in Colorado to the max. As a Michigan native, the sweeping, majestic mountain view from the small campus often left me in awe. And the sunsets regularly left this talkative extrovert wordless; the depth of the blazing red and orange skies caused me to ponder how detailed, creative, and brilliant our Maker is.

I’ve struggled to adequately sum up my time there; messages like “The Majestic Jesus” and “The Lowercase f,” along with regular devotional thoughts on the nature of God, as revealed through His names in Scripture, opened my heart to a new level of knowing our incredible Jesus. I could use the word awe again and again, because that’s what I experienced nearly every day. He’s just so worthy!

There were also some rough patches in my time there right after my birthday last year; though they aren’t all easy memories to look back on, I trust the Truth of His Word that absolutely everything will be worked together for good, and that nothing in all creation can separate me from His love (Romans 8:28, 35-39).

In all honesty, I came back broken. Probably more so because of myself than anything else, but life was a struggle.

I began working at Bishop Hills again two days after arriving home from school. I had received my license as a Certified Nursing Assistant five months before, and felt it would be wisest for the time being to continue gaining experience in assisted living. As I previously chronicled on this blog, not every moment of working as a CNA has been a breeze, but caring practically for those who are hurting has been such an eye-opening experience. This past year of employment as an aid has been so important; Jesus was graciously giving me opportunities to humble myself and take the lowest place. The truth is, I’d love to be through with school and already have the position in healthcare I anticipate having in the future. It’s been a continual opportunity to lay every desire at His feet and trust His perfect timing and leading.

There’s a reason for this season. Every day of assisting my residents with their ADLs {activities of daily living} and other needs is preparing me for the future. It’s been my deep hope to serve well at Bishop Hills, even as I simultaneously see it as a “stair step” in my experience in caring for others facing crisis or just needing assistance.

In addition to that job, I also ended up nannying for three different families at various times throughout the year. Little Miss Lucy was my “regular.” Every Monday when her mom and siblings went off to homeschool group, Lucy and I got to hang out. She has the most precious smile and laugh; her strong will, love for her family, and curiosity have made my day many a time. Home life over the past year has been on the unstable side with my parents’ separation, but amid brokenness, Jesus was using little things to lift my eyes to Himself. Lucy was one of them!

Many tears were shed as our family worked through logistics, and all things life-change that come with the dividing of a home. It left me with an assurance within my soul that I was entirely and completely unable to do anything apart from His grace. Looking back, I see the pain and sorrow, but I know He was bringing about beauty from ashes.

I’ve always had the propensity to keep everyone at an arm's length, which created more ramifications than it helped while I was walking through what one might term “rawness” of soul. I’m the one who would prefer to cry in the bathroom, and not come out till I can put on a convincing smile and go on in conversation as if nothing ever happened. I did that a fair bit last year; people would reach out to me mercifully, having heard a piece of what was happening, and rarely did I feel comfortable enough to actually open up and share with others. Learning to be vulnerable in a way that also honors those around me has been a difficult lesson. I tend to be silent about the “deeper,” more achy things that are going on in my life, but I have been seeing afresh that because of the hurt I have walked through, Jesus has given me a special door of entrance in showing mercy and care to those facing similar circumstances. You learn to truly mourn with those who mourn when you have suffered yourself. I’m grateful He graciously uses what has been trauma in my own life so that I can meet other women where they’re at and remind them that our God is always faithful, even when our hearts are breaking.

I walked out of our local movie theatre, after watching a pro-life film with a sweet friend and saw Laura Alexandria, the Director of Operations with Grand Rapids Right to Life. A brief conversation had a new idea excitedly planted in my mind...They were looking to hire a new staff member, and my friend recommended me for the position.

I was conflicted. This.is.not.medical.

Should I even apply for a job that I would be super passionate about, but that wasn’t in the industry I was pursuing??

Three interviews and five months later, I was the Student Trailblazer of Grand Rapids Right to Life.

Since I accepted this position, I have had the privilege of coming alongside high school and college students as they seek to advocate for the unborn. It has been sort of strange to be the eighteen year old visiting the college Students for Life groups with the desire to encourage and mentor individuals--many of whom are older than me--in this battle for life. My passion to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves has continued to grow as I have worked with GRRTL. From tracking down the Democrat pro-choice table at the Women’s Convention and having intentional conversations about life, to meeting amazing Students for Life group leaders for coffee and getting the opportunity to uplift them and pour into their lives; I feel like a kid in a candy store.

The longer I know Jesus, the more I feel entirely unable to do nothing about the incredible injustice of abortion. He deeply loves every single person He has created, and I long to share all the more in His incomparable compassion for those who are at-risk.

Speaking of knowing Jesus, this summer marked 7 years in Christ. In Scripture, 7 is often a mark of completion, which I know is so intentional on His part; He knew this would be a year of turmoil and loss, and now more than ever I see the reality that I have never been complete apart from Jesus (Col. 2:10). Within a culture that constantly proclaims a message of self-sufficiency, ever saying, “Yes, you are enough!” I have been comforted with the exact opposite. I’ve never been enough on my own; it’s trying to see myself as enough that turns into a culturally-applauded fiasko of self-adoration which leaves my soul feeling bankrupt and insecure. But when I take my eyes off of myself and my innumerable insufficiencies and instead place my heart and mind on the One who has taken my place, suddenly, my perception of life changes. No longer does my peace and joy hinge upon what I can and cannot do; instead it’s about Jesus and all He is. He never fails and always gives me exactly what is needful for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

Jesus is enough!

It’s been a theme this year. The easter drama I was in was named “Enough.” My job as a CNA began to change when I chose to stop centering it on perfectionism and instead saw it as an opportunity to worship the Sufficient One. My daily life changed as I consciously rested my heart in His enoughness.

 I also started multiple blogs, led Bright Lights, moved, drove my car into a tree, got bodily fluids on my scrubs on several occasions, witnessed many babies saved from abortion, and did the dishes more times than I’d like to count, but through it all Jesus has been completely faithful. New critics, new friends, a new town, and all sorts of life changes surround this season of life. And I know every day of nineteen, He will faithfully lead me. From sleepless night time studies, to continuing to write all 640 some youth Pastors in the Grand Rapids area about the pro-life movement, it shall be anything but boring!

(Yep, I’m still an incurable nutcase like that…)

My sweet friend Bri Stoltzfus shared these words with me on our birthday last year (we were born on the same day!):

“Isn’t it exciting to think that we can give 100% for Jesus every single day of 18?!”

And that is my prayer for 19 as well, because His grace is always enough through every year of life.