Closing the Gap: Cheers to adventure & new beginnings

As my gap year comes to a close, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on this year and would love to share some of my thoughts and say thank you to everyone who has supported, hosted, or walked with me this year!

These past seven months have been an exceptional, indescribable journey. Every breathtaking sight or view, heart changing moment or story, and unique face left a permanent mark on my soul. Since this past September I have gained hands on experience in the fields of nursing and parenting, ridden a horse, learned to sew, served meals, loaded trucks, taken a ride in a small plane, met senators and authors, tutored, taught English, watched a baby come into this world by C-section, hiked to the top of mountains in Ethiopia, toured the Royal Palace of Madrid, experienced new cultures, gained exposure to different ways of thinking, walked 110km of the El Camino, walked on The Old Course in St. Andrews, and so much more. The hospitality and generosity of those along the way is what made this year possible and simply amazing. I’ve felt at home all across the country and even in different parts of the world because of these people receiving me with open arms. I hope they know that they now all have a home in Michigan! 🙂 Just try not to all show up at once. This year I have listened, learned, observed, hoped, feared, laughed, cried, loved, and have met a great number of beautiful souls that I can now truly call friends. I strived to soak up as much wisdom, love, friendship, and experience as I could and honestly, my cup is overflowing. I thank The Lord for every divine appointment and unique person he led me to this year. I am extremely thankful for my mom and dad who have always encouraged me to follow Him and not let anything of this world hold me back from that. They have both invested and sacrificed so much to get myself and my sisters to where we are today. They have molded our hearts and minds and guided us to the best of their ability for many years. They have been so brave and full of trust in God continually when the time comes for another one of their baby girls to leave the nest. I will always admire them greatly for that. I learned this trust in God from them and it has been a constant theme this year. Trusting that finances would come through, that I would stay healthy and able to travel, that my hosts would be safe and admirable people, that I would form lasting friendships, that I would learn and grow, but most of all that if some or all of these things didn’t happen, that it would still be okay. Because it isn’t my plan or understanding that matters. Ultimately I cannot control any of these things and worrying does nothing but wear me down, all I can do is completely and wholeheartedly trust.

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It’s Been Awhile

Let me catch you up:

Since leaving Kansas, we have spent a week in Colorado, stopped in Michigan for a hot second, and are now in NYC.

Our first stop in Colorado was Fort Collins to visit the Suchowskis. We got to spend a day or two with Heather and Mike before they took off to a work conference for about four days. During that time Avery and I had the privelge of house/dog/babysitting for them. Basically we played house for a few days (Heather called it great birth control). We got to hang out with Jake(10) and Kate(8) and had loads of funn with them! They are hilarious, smart, loving, sweet, full of life, and definitely kept Avery and I on our toes. We ran them back and forth to school everyday, took them to guitar lessons, made dinner, did fun things like go to the park and movies, and layed down the law when we needed to 🙂 I love kids and that week was an awesome oppurtunity we were blessed with.

The night Heather and Mike returned from their conference we had a wonderful night out that included delicious mexican food, lots of laughs, and meaningful conversation. Heather and Mike shared some wisdom with us about relationships, co-dependency, boundaries, and letting things be (refer to The Beatles song).

Later that night around 2am, I woke up to excrutiating abdominal cramps and ended up taking a trip to the emergency room with Avery and Heather. Ovarian cysts run in my family and forgot to skip me. Not to worry, I’m still alive and well. I was actually never treated because it was so busy that after waiting over two hours the pain was almost gone and I remembered how much a trip to the emergency room costs. Anyway, sitting in the E.R. waiting room in the wee hours of the morning opened up some amazing intentional conversation between the three of us that we probably wouldn’t have the guts to discuss in the daylight. God does funny things like that, he knows us so well.

Well, the next day we got up and left for Holyoke, CO in the afternoon to stay with the Sperbers. We were greeted there by two cattle dogs, twelve cats, and the sweetest elderly couple west of the Mississippi. Gary and Carolyn have been married six years and are so in love with eachother it warms my heart. Gary’s first wife passed away years ago and Carolyn divorced her first husband years ago. The way they treated eachother made us fall in love with them after the first meal with those love birds. The best part is, they met on E-Harmony 🙂 The Sperbers run a dairy farm where Gary labors outdoors most of the time and Carolyn works her magic on the stove. Everything served to us was homemade or homegrown and absolutely delicious! We spent two nights with them talking, laughing, learning, and playing dominos. It was awesome.

That brings us to now where I sit in a coffee shop in Manhattan. I have only been here a few days, but so far I love everything about it. The wide range of people and personalities, the atmosphere, riding the subway, Chinatown, walking everywhere, and the rush of the city. Avery and I have been volunteering at the NYC Rescue Mission where Avery’s uncle is the executive director. So far we have mostly done paperwork but tomorrow we get to help in the kitchen and meet more people from the program. Everyone is so friendly and happy to have us there! Also, we got free tickets to a Rangers game with awesome seats only 9 rows up!

I’ll try to blog more often, I promise 🙂

Farm Fresh 🐮🐷🐑🐴🐶🐱🐓🌾☀️🍆🍅🌽

Hey there! Avery and I took our first road trip and arrived here in Quinter, Kansas Monday evening after about an 18 hour car ride. We are living with Dave and Roetta Mann, who live on and manage a crop farm, for the week. They are making us feel so welcome and we are very thankful for their hospitality. Avery and I share a room upstairs in their house, which has been in Dave’s family for five generations! It was fascinating to learn the history behind the layout of the house. Tuesday morning, Dave took us on a tour of his farm and educated us on all the math, science, and paperwork that goes into farming.

Dave also took us on a drive through Quinter. Let me tell you, when I say we are in a small farming community, that’s exactly what I mean. Quinter’s population totals at about 950 people. The graduating senior class this year has 24 kids. The Mann’s explained to us how everyone knows everyone in this town, and you also know everyone’s business. Which naturally has it’s ups and downs. However, something interesting they observed was that even though you do have relationships with plenty of people, they are not usually as intentional or deep as relationships they have seen their kids make in larger cities.

On Wednesday we had the pleasure of spending the day with Jared and Heather Jamison and their six children. The Jamison Family live on a Dairy Farm. Jared runs it with help from his father and three hired men. Also, something else that is interesting about the Jamisons is that they are members of the Old German Baptist Brothern church. Avery and I absolutely loved getting to know them and learn about their beliefs. They don’t have television, radio, or internet in their homes. They do have cell phones but choose not to own smart phones because those have internet. They dress similar to Amish people, the men grow beards with no mustaches and the woman wear skirts with capes and aprons(that they sew themselves) with prayer bonnets over their hair. You might think that without radio or television, their six children are missing out on something. However, that is far from true. In their backyard, they have two handmade ferris wheels, all sorts of swings, a volleyball net, a basketball court, and a trampoline. Not to mention there is always something to do on the farm. They read often, play card and board games, and have each other. Something I admired about their family was how noticeably respectful the children were to each other, their parents, and to Avery and I. They were also very friendly, welcoming, and we shared many laughs with the Jamisons.

Today is our fourth day here and we started our morning at the high school where we sat in on a couple FFA classes and got to talk with some of the students. Then we met a woman named Donna for lunch who took us around Quinter, told us her story, and bought us milkshakes! While we were at lunch, she saw a man named Dick who is a pilot. His small plane was just down the road and he offered to take us for a ride! I should mention that this pilot only had one arm. But that’s just an interesting fact because it does not hold him back from anything! He is an amazing pilot who flys all over, rides a motorcycle, and loves to water ski. The plane ride was an incredible experience! I sat shot gun and we had headsets and everything. I’m not going to lie, I did feel a little queasy but I thankfully kept my lunch down.

I love the farm life here in Quinter! Avery and I are having a blast and will continue to keep ya’ll updated!

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A Latte A Day Keeps The Doctor Away :)

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Enjoying some delish sushi from downtown Rochester on our off day!

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Preparing to train for backpacking El Camino De Santiago, that trip is still a ways off but we figured we’d get an early start 🙂

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Biked to the cidar mill and of course we couldn’t leave Tori at home

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Learning some killer dance moves from our awesome elementary friends at LifeBuilders

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here, so I thought I’d give ya’ll an update!

LifeBuilders (where we spend our Wednesdays) is going awesome!  I look forward to our time there every week.  We have been painting, organizing, cleaning, loading and unloading trucks of donations, and meeting some of the amazing people in the community.

My internship at a family practice in Yale, MI is also going very well.  So far I have had the opportunity to take patients’ vitals and have even drawn blood a few times (believe it or not, they all made it out alive).  Mostly I just watch and learn how to do everything else since what I can actually do to/for patients myself is very limited.  I do this every Thursday and Friday and have loved the people I work with and the hands on experience.  I also wake up before 5am on Fridays to do a CrossFit class with Shannon (the Physician Assistant I shadow).  I actually love starting my day early and I keep up surprisingly well with the others in the class.  However the classes have proved to be quite physically challenging and my body never fails to remind me of this for days after.  IcyHot and frozen peas are my best friends on those days.

 

About 90% of the rest of my time is spent with Avery at local coffee shops where we are either applying to colleges or enjoying a good book.  Whether it is Starbucks or small and local, I absolutely love being in coffee shops.  The atmosphere is gently refreshing and there is nothing better than getting lots of work done while sipping a latte.  In the past few weeks I have read Half Broke Horses, The Kitchen House, Love Does, and Redeeming Love.  They are all amazing books that I couldn’t put down and would definitely recommend to anyone who needs a good read.  Regarding college, I am very excited to say I have been accepted to both Grand Valley State University and Davenport University.  So that’s two for two!  The odds are looking splendid so far.  I’m taking a trip to Grand Rapids in early October to take an entrance exam for the nursing program at Davenport, wish me luck!

 

The other 10% of our week is spent with great friends, sharing even better conversation!  Either that or we’re off biking/walking/running or maybe even catching an episode of the very addicting show, Breaking Bad on Netflix.

 

Well, now you are all pretty much up to speed.  Please text or message me if you have any questions/comments 🙂

 

In just over two weeks we will be venturing off on our first of many trips.  It will be a bittersweet parting from the comfort of Michigan but I am sure excited to get on the road!

 

The beginning of the rest of my life

As you may already know, I have decided to spend the 2013-2014 school year in a very unique way.  As most of the people I graduated with have enrolled into college and are starting classes this week, I have started traveling to learn and grow through ministry.  I am traveling with a great friend of mine and a great friend of my family’s, Avery McLeod.  If you are interested, you may follow along with us on our extremely eventful journey during the next seven months through our blogs, Instagrams, Facebook, etc.  For the next six weeks, I will be living with the McLeod’s in Rochester, Michigan.  Our Wednesdays will be spent at LifeBuilders, Thursday and Friday I am interning at a family clinic, and the rest of my time will be spent babysitting, applying for college, and filling out scholarships!

Today was our first day of volunteering with a truly amazing ministry in Detroit known as LifeBuilders.  LifeBuilders was founded by Marilyn and Larry Johnson, an inspiring couple who have completely dedicated their lives to this inner-city ministry.  In fact, they have given up the luxeries of suburb life and  moved to the heart of Detroit to fully emerse themselves in the work they feel they have been called to do.

Larry took us on a “vision tour” around their neighborhood to give us history about what they have been working on.  Life Builders has taken 23 houses/apartments that formerly were run-down, boarded up, drug houses, or filled with squatters and converted them into clean and affordable housing units that they rent to families in the area.  In eight short years Life Builders has succeeded in turning an area that most people, including residents of that area, would not feel safe walking around in broad day-light into a neighboorhood that has a strong sense of community, hope, love, and ambition.

We met dozens of people today who do not come from functional familes, have been through unthinkable tradgedies,  live in poverty, and yet here they are walking into Life Builders’ community center grinning from ear to ear and welcoming us with open hearts.  I think that was the most awe-inspiring aspect of this community.  They use their hardships to strengthen themselves.  After seeing what these people have been through and are still working through everyday, going on social networking sites and reading what people complain about literally makes me sick to my stomach.  It’s human nature to take things for granted, however next time you are having a stressful day or complaining about trivial things, I challenge you to take a deep breath and look around you at all the great belongings and oppurtunities you have.  My apologies for using a cliche, but count your blessings!

 

If you are interested in learning more about LifeBuilders, this is the link to their website:

http://www.lifebuildersdetroit.com/