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Showing posts from 2015

Georgia on My Mind P2

Jim Elliot famously penned, "wherever you are, be all there" and it became my motto those first few weeks and months after moving to Georgia when
My funding fell through Mom had a serious accident My hearing aids quit working  I couldn't find a job I was slow to find a church family A business school elsewhere offered me tuition I wasn't so sure social work was for me
I had to remember the decision I made in faith to move here. Despite all of this though, Georgia became the wilderness I needed to explore who I am and what I know and believe. This growth is a continual process, but looking back on the last year has shown me how each moment prepares us for where we are going. Our responses to these moments are what matter.
And I see that now. This August I began a year long internship with a mental health hospital. I work on an adolescent crisis stabilization unit where no day is the same. Not only has my interest in psychiatric clinical work grown, but my understandin…

Georgia on My Mind P1

August 6. A year ago I sat in the sand at Tybee Island enjoying occasional sprints to the water where the salt would wash through my hair, leaving it sticky and grainy, soothing the jellyfish sting. It was my first time to the warm water of the East Coast. It was my first time to Georgia too. Here I was, freshly 22 and enjoying the next few days with my mom and grandma before starting grad school.

It all kind of happened on a "methodical-whim". Georgia was an option in a sea of choices that would eventually lead me 1000 miles east on I-20 away from the small Texas city I'd called home for the last four years. Transitions happen. I was ready. It would be an new adventure, just as fantastic as the last with community, friends, and memories to shape me into the person I am and will be. It had to be, right?
As my mom drove off for Wisconsin that morning, sadness mixed with excitement as I planned to learn the bus system that day. I'd mapped out stops and routes, determined…

Open in 10 Years: A letter to my 22 year old self

Hey Jess,

How are you? I'm good, about to take a nap before practice tonight. The summer season has started and I really hope to make those Zone cuts this time around. Mom said I can start the two-a-days and she'll arrange for carpool. I don't know if I'll get that 200 breastroke time down but Randy thinks long course is where I swim best. We will see.

It's funny to think that you know whether I get faster this summer or not. And how my 8th grade year goes...and high school...and college. Where do we go? I hope to Stanford! Do we swim in college?

In a week I'm going to be baptized. I really felt like I needed to do that back at the conference but was nervous to do that before talking to mom and dad about it. I don't know why I cried when I talked to them about it, but dad's going to do it for me next Sunday 5/15/05. I have to stand up in front of all those people...

But it will be okay.

I've known them since kindergarten when mom and dad first broug…

Behind the Finished Product

Image
 What's large, brown, and smooth all over? A tabby! Meet Tabby, the newest addition to my family. Yesterday my friends and I finished this 8-foot dining table and laid her to rest in the garage. As we tackled the project over two weekends, and beheld the finished product late yesterday afternoon, I marveled at how satisfying it was to see a project through from the very beginning. When we look at furniture we see the final display, but the literal blood, sweat, and tears -- as well as planning -- remains unknown. This got me thinking: As a social worker -- but more importantly, as a Christian -- we never view a finished product. We view a person who has been warped, sawed, shaped, screwed, glued, sanded, and stained. And we have the honor to play a part in the story of building something useful and beautiful. Shoutout to Heather and Tyler for all their hard work and attention to meticulous detail, to Heather's parents for letting us use their tools, and to Tyler for storing…

When Your Heart Hurts

My grandmother has that bag. That black canvas one with National Geographic sprawled in white and a yellow stripe down the side. Inside it holds her lunch, water, and ID as she heads to her second shift as a nurse. Some mornings groceries line the inside. That bag is always full.

***
The skin on her fingers was thin and course, her brittle nails broken, but beautifully shaped with pearly white tips. She fingered her way through the bag on the chair next to her, taking long sighs and wiping the hair from her face. Her plate sat full with a styrofoam to-go container of corn bread to the side. I'd never met or seen her before. 
It was Friday and lunchtime at the community kitchen. Like the other days, we sat and ate with clients. Sometimes talking, sometimes not. I sat with two older gentlemen already deep in their conversation. They nod and smile and continue talking with heavy ebonics. Picking at my green beans, I try to politely listen in, make some kind of connection. Eh, maybe n…

I want to be. I wish I was. But I'm not.

I play guitar. Like music. I taught myself and I play for local churches and make money playing on the streets. Do you believe me? You can ask Erin. She knows I can play. I bet you can do something really cool too, something that I can't do. 

You play guitar? That's really cool Bubba! I'll take your word for it. Do you play for your church or something? I'd love to hear you play sometime.

Naw. I don't play for churches no more. I mean, I could but I shouldn't. They want you to be a Christian and I'm not. I like Christians. I want to be one. I wish I was one. But I'm not a Christian.


**pause**
Bubba strolls in most afternoons, his untied boots clugging under him on the carpeted floor. His oversized puffy coat hangs over the edges of his shoulders. He wears a wide grin and a cigarette butt behind his ear. Do you have coffee? I like your coffee, he asks.

Knowing he's coming there's some coffee leftover from before lunch. 

What's your name again?

Jess,…