Blooming In Adversity

Perhaps it’s the fact that Lent just ended and the Easter season has me feeling pretty dang inspired, or maybe it’s just the nostalgia that has come with today, but lately I’ve been deeply contemplative of where I have been the last year and how the Lord has worked in my life. I’m not about to sit here and tell you that I know the ins and outs of the Lord’s plan- only He knows, and they’re His best kept secret. We never truly know what will happen until we’ve been there, done that.

A year ago today, I got a letter saying I wasn’t accepted to nursing school.

A year ago today, I felt devastated. I felt betrayed.

A year ago today I was sitting in the chapel on campus, asking God why the heck he would give me such a burning desire to do something, only to not see it through? My only response was a sense of overwhelming peace.

I published an article on my thoughts at the time, and it was all hopeful stuff. And though I knew all of it to be true, and I felt peaceful, it was still a dark time for me. Nursing is hard, and it is competitive. You learn to work under extreme amounts of pressure for really high stakes, because you aren’t studying for a simple degree- you’re studying to save someone’s life someday. You’re studying for a passion- a vocation. And much like the job, the process of getting into nursing school is not for the faint of heart. Over time, the competition becomes engrained in you and if you can’t keep it in check, it can really overtake your personality. I had let it get to that point, and the only thing I felt from that rejection letter was crippling failure and incompetence. I wasn’t the best.

But those were lies. Now, I look back and see just how far I have come.

I feel like the Lord needed me to deepen my trust in Him before I got into the program. In leaving San Marcos, I would be cutting some roots that had grown very deep. After becoming independent and finding my footing, I would be leaving a life that had become so enriched by the people and experiences that I surrounded myself with and returning to a place that suddenly felt barren with just school. My relationship with the Lord would be the only thing that was definitely going to carry over, and He needed to deepen that. He needed me to trust Him more, because going through a program so intense and so far away from many of my closest friends was going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. So why not hit where it would hurt the most, and build from there?

I wasn’t one of the 100 that was originally accepted to St. David’s School of Nursing. My call didn’t come until over the summer. So what? I’m here now, and I’m thriving. I’ve been given the opportunity to be president of an amazing group of people, and I’m doing better in school than I ever have before. There was a period when I really doubted my abilities, but God pushed me through. He let me lean on Him through the hardest “no” I have ever heard, and He created a path for me.  Though I’ve learned to tame the competition, comparison can still creep up on me when I least expect it. I need to stop believing the lie that I’m not capable; the Lord proved to me this last year that I am MORE than capable- and He continues to prove it each and every day.

A year ago today, I thought my dream had reached a very sudden end.

Today, I feel that the Lord was simply asking me to give a little more.

In a year, I’ll be closing in on graduation, and I can hardly believe the path behind me and the journey still before me.

Though our hearts desire, God really is the one who writes the plan. Not everything is going to work out the way we want it- but it will all work out, in the end. Trust is a hard concept to master, but every day is a lesson and I’m so blessed to be learning.

Mulan Quote

 

A Bad Case of Perfect Timing

“This Hays county morning is glowing like a Carolina rose// and it’s warming all the station trains and cars, but I’m as cold as any stone…”

-Blue Water Highway Band, Hard Time Train

Two years of working towards nursing school finally culminated in a denial letter. And a 3-year-old-style temper tantrum.

My advisor and I pored over my transcripts. Everything was right, and the only duck that was slightly out of place was my science GPA: a 2.9 out of the necessary 3.0. So. Frustratingly. Close. He told me, “Everything looks great. But there’s something holding you back just a bit. The timing just isn’t right for you this year, Jessica.”

So what to do when your well-laid, hard-worked-for plans come undone?

Even as a cradle Catholic, discerning God’s will purely and completely is something that I’m just beginning to practice, and in all 20 of my years I am nowhere even close to calling myself wise or well-versed in the heart of the Lord. He’s a big, fat mystery, that guy, and He has a knack for taking our well-made plans and tearing them apart. But that’s because He has something more in store for us. I’m reminded now of Mary, the Blessed Mother. At age 15, the angel Gabriel came to her and told her that if she said yes, she would become pregnant with God’s only son before she was married. This baby would go on to save the entire world. It’s hard for many of us to imagine how terrified she must have been, particularly at the expense of potentially being left by her fiance and shunned by her community. But she gave her yes to God in Luke 1:38 (aka my FAVORITE). And He handed over to her the fate of every one of our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that even if we have thoughts of terror and failure, He has thoughts of peace- not of evil. So no matter how much He tears our plans up, He’s going to rearrange the pieces into something so much more fulfilling than we can imagine-all it takes is our yes, and His perfect timing.

This is so much easier said than typed. Quite frankly, trust is a difficult thing, particularly in society today. As humans, we have the ability to be emotionally and spiritually broken because we are promised things that are never fulfilled. In the human anatomy, whenever something a bone is broken or a muscle is torn, the cells that help it to heal, heal it much stronger than before. But it doesn’t necessarily heal correctly, and it’s not exactly perfect like it was before. Our spirits aren’t metaphorically that different from bones or muscles. We heal, and we heal tough, but not always correctly. Often, after so much healing and so much toughness, we forget how to trust in anything except ourselves. This can be detrimental to having faith in God because not only is He outside of ourselves; we need to trust in His timing. By trusting in Him, giving Him our yes and doing His will for us, He heals us in the most wonderful way and fulfills every desire that lies in our hearts. Because of that reason, we can hand things over to Him and be more than okay. Control freaks, go ahead and re-read that.

I could go into so much detail about all the things that have happened to reassure me that I’m meant to stay in San Marcos for another year. Quite honestly, I’m very excited to pursue a minor next year. I’ll have one more year with my friends and sorority sisters, one more year to prepare myself for the grind of nursing school, and one more summer to be an orientation leader. I have no worries that next year, when I reapply to Texas State’s nursing program for Fall 2016, I will be accepted. There are still doubts in my heart for me to work through, but I’m doing my absolute best to not be a control freak and give God my purest yes.

I’m sure that down the road, I’ll see why I had to put off nursing school. Perhaps my minor will advance my career in a way that wouldn’t be available to me until later. Maybe God needs me to touch the heart of a specific peer, coworker, or patient. Or maybe He’s just teaching me how to grow in faith, patience, and trust. Whatever it is, I’m treating everything with a healthy dose of prayer.

“But those Carolina roses, oh they’re growing up the tracks of my despair…”

-Blue Water Highway Band, Hard Time Train

Thanks for reading, Sizzlers 🙂

Jessica

Jeremiah 29-11

ROOM REVEAL!

In my 10 Things I Wish I Knew for Freshman Year post, I forgot to mention how much I disliked the first few weeks of school. Between getting books, falling into a new routine, and the general chaos of organizing my life for a new season, it just gets SO overwhelming!! A lot has been going on, and I apologize for my absence. Move in day was insane for Kaitlyn and I. We chose to help the freshman move in so that we could move in early, and skip the chaos. We didn’t think that trying to help 6,000 freshman move into their tiny rooms in the Texas heat was going to be chaos. Can you tell we were wrong? Haha!

It’s been difficult falling into a new study schedule, particularly because my textbooks took a week to ship. So this last week has been a lot of trying to catch up on chapter outlines, notecard-creating, and reading! On top of it all, I decided to staff Bobcat Awakening #42 AND I’m rushing the Catholic service sorority, Mu Epsilon Theta. My, my, MY!

Now that my routine is finally starting to fall together, it’s time to add blogging back into the mix, and it all starts with my RESIDENCE HALL ROOM REVEAL!!!!!!!

Room RevealMy canopy is undoubtedly probably my favorite part of the room. It’s nice because I made it out of voile, so it’s basically a curtain that hangs around my head and keeps the pesky light out when I wanna sleep in a little bit!

IMG_0627

This gem hangs by the end of my bed, and I can see her in my closet mirror!

IMG_0631

See Audrey at the left edge? 🙂 I didn’t have a lot of hanging clothes, and because these individual rooms tend to feel really small when they have a lot of furniture in them, I shoved my dresser into my closet and created an entire “getting-ready station” with all of my clothes, jewelry, and perfumes right next to each other! P

IMG_0630

I love how this wall came out! The picture board, and my canvasses balance out the nightstand perfectly.

IMG_0632

Welcome to my desk area! I love that I get a lot of light from my window. Next to it is my crafting station. I brought my sewing machine this year, and I’m excited to have room to use it!

IMG_0633

This is the collage wall above my desk.

IMG_0634

I like this shot a lot because you can kind of see the little window decoration I made. I didn’t want to hang curtains that would compete with my canopy, but I wanted to draw the attention away from my dingy mini-blinds. So, I made a little curtain of Tiffany blue flowers.

IMG_0635

It’s my personal belief that no room is complete without a cozy reading/study area. So, I strung some lights under my bed and made it a little homey 🙂 I love to stretch out under there and read up on my anatomy.

It’s such a nice place to chill out in. I’ll be posting tutorials based off of some of the stuff I made for my room as the next few weeks go by- I promise! Be on the lookout, Sizzlers!

Sincerely,

Jessica

 

A Day In the Life of Orientation

I went back and re-read a lot of my posts, and realized that I am CONSTANTLY telling all of you that I’m really busy with orientation and that’s why I haven’t been able to post a lot. I promise, it’s not a lie! With the way my Freshman Advice post blew up, I figured I could let you guys know a little bit about exactly what I do. A very common question we as orientation leaders (OLs) get is “What’s the point of all this stuff?”. A lot of students and parents are completely boggled as to why two-day orientation is even a thing in the first place. As one of the OLs of Texas State, let me tell you about a typical two-day session for incoming Bobcats!

OL show em state

DAY 1

My day starts at 7 am with morning meeting. Our staff gets together and discusses what is going to happen during over the next few days. We then divide to different stations for a few hours while freshman are checking in!

At 10 am, our welcome session starts. This is where we introduce the school a little bit to parents and students. People from different places on campus (Financial Aid office, the Dean of the PACE college which is specifically for freshman, etc.) come and speak to everyone. Then, we get a chance to break for concurrent events where orientees have the option to go talk to a panel of OLs, meet with some different organizations, and go to lunch to name a few items.

From there, we host another set of presentations (department of housing, parking services, our on-campus technology center, etc.) before students speak with representatives of specific colleges they will be under when they have more than 30 credit hours. For example- now that I am a Sophomore, I fall under the Health Professions college for nursing. Then, we split parents and students and break into our small groups! All the cool kids are with my partner, Ryan, and I.

10363701_10203864067100911_688965475620095141_n

Aren’t we rockin’ those khakis?

SO. The fun really starts with dinner, a rec tour, then a skit performed by all of the OLs. It’s a good time, promise- and the university isn’t paying me to say that. At 9 pm, we all head back to the dorm everyone is staying in overnight, and there are nightly activities until 11. Students have a chance to…

go to the rec and play volleyball or basketball

go to a bar-style spot called George’s and play pool, ping-pong, or karaoke

go on a moonlight tour (this is a tour of campus at night when we tell ghost stories! TXST is the most haunted campus in central Texas!)

hang out in the hall lobby

or sleep!

At 11, everyone is sent upstairs and the hall closes.

DAY 2

If we get lucky and don’t have wake-up duty at 6 am, then morning meeting is at 7:30 am. We discuss things necessary to day 2, then go to a presentation on registering for classes!! There are a few more presentations, and students get advised and register for classes  throughout the day, until right around 5 pm. From there, I clock out then take a nap or try to fit in a blog post!

It’s busy stuff, but I love it. You too can interview to be an orientation leader-just make sure you don’t mind averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night all summer long! 🙂

And hey- now when I say I’ve been busy, you can understand a little bit more about what I do!!

Sincerely,

Jessica

College Sophomore to Incoming Freshman: 10 Things I Wish I Knew

Can you believe that summer is already 1/3 over? I feel like it’s been the fastest one of my life, even though my orientation partner told me otherwise (Ryan, you lied. But I’ll forgive you this time.). We only have two weeks left of Orientation after this next week of break, then it’s back to school. With that in mind, there are masses of young adults out there getting ready to make the step in to the college years. Welcome, friends. We’re excited to have you!

Sunset Over TXST

As an Orientation Leader, I feel that I’m in a very unique position to help all you incoming freshman out. As a sophomore, I feel like my position is EXTRA unique because my whole year-and everything I wish I knew going into it- is still super fresh in my mind. That’s why I’m coming to y’all with my top 10 bits of advice. This list is a combination of things I learned and questions that I’ve been asked regularly during orientation. Here we go!

1. Plan your packing, but don’t overpack! Unless you’re living in the hotel rooms from EuroTrip, you won’t have a lot of space. Try to stick with the bare essentials- this is a GREAT time to forget about all those shirts you haven’t worn in the last few months. I once saw a general rule that I used: don’t bring anything you haven’t used in the last four months. It helped me cut down so much on what I packed, and if I found I needed anything else, my parents shipped it to me or I brought it from home as the year went on.

2. Take your roomie contract seriously!!! This was probably my biggest downfall freshman year. I wanted to be the cool roommate, so I didn’t set any real guidelines when my roommate and I made ours. I had never had to share my room at home before, save for the occasional sleepover. My dorm turned into a year-long sleepover with a girl who was the COMPLETE opposite of me: I’m talking old-ramen-in-the-trash-for-two-weeks opposite. Needless to say, I kept quiet and let things stack up from there. Communicate honestly with your new roommate, especially if you’re going potluck. Write down your differences in your roommate contract, and that way you will both have something to refer to for a baseline set of rules as the year goes on.

3. Get involved. Of course you’re going to take a lot of time studying, if you’re anything like me. But all that studying= not getting out much, and you’ll need a distraction every so often to keep yourself sane. I didn’t join anything last year, but I plan to this year and I wish I had done so sooner! That being said, don’t join too many things. College is the time to figure out what really lights your fire- find one or two organizations that you are super passionate about and invest in those.

4. Time manage. On the note of getting involved, get a planner. Or use your phone. Whatever floats your boat, dude. But seriously, write down (and if you’re like me, color code) EVERYTHING. If you were to look in my planner from last year, you would even see days where I set aside time to float the river on our campus or take naps. I lost it for a week and didn’t know what to do with myself. It became my most important tool.

5. Become known to your professors and TAs. You don’t have to become their best friend, but go to their office hours every so often, particularly in those large core classes. I speak from experience on this one, because even though I only went to see my professors and teaching assistants once or twice a semester to seek advice, they helped me out when final grades came in. My history TA and biology professor both bumped me up to an A in each class and that is what got me to Dean’s List this last semester. If you have more time, go visit more often! A lot of them got to be professors through very interesting experiences, and they have a lot to teach even outside of class.

6. Be flexible. As an orientation leader, I see a LOT of incoming students with a particular schedule in their head when they sit down to register for classes. DON’T BE ONE. It will all depend on what classes are available, and evening classes or 8 ams are unavoidable. Sorry, guys, you have to take the core classes anyway. It’s tough love. ❤

7. SLEEP! Because my mom and dad weren’t there to remind me to go to bed, I didn’t get a lot of sleep my first few months of school and it took a long-term toll on me. I couldn’t stay awake in my 9 ams a lot of the time (oops) and my grades weren’t where I wanted them to be because I wasn’t getting the knowledge I needed! Long story short, sleep will become your best friend. Also, make all-nighters a very rare thing. Your GPA will thank you.

8. Manage your eating habits. A lot of my orientees ask me if the Freshman 15 really do exist. My answer is always something along the lines of, “Yes, if you eat responsibly.” That doesn’t mean go vegetarian or vegan (but if you do, major kudos. I have a love affair with steak and could not.) Every campus offers healthier options, and while you can eat pizza or burgers every so often, don’t make a regular habit out of it. As long as you monitor what you eat pretty well, you don’t have to work out much either. I speak from experience on that one.

9. Have a calming hobby. Obviously, for me, it’s crafting or blogging. For Kaitlyn, it’s reading. Jordan and Taylor like to play darts. Find what works for you, and take a study break to exercise it every so often.

10. Most importantly…Keep an open mind. I can’t stress this one enough! College is a TOTALLY different world. I never would have guessed that I would have met or become friends with a lot of the people I know today. Be open to different kinds of cultures and ideas, because they could end up being some of your best connections in the real world, or some of your closest friends!

As always, comment with any other questions or thoughts. I am always open to helping as much as I can! You can also get in touch with me personally if you have any questions you would like to keep confidential. I hope this gave you guys some good tips! 🙂

Sincerely,

Jessica

Movie Mania

Audrey on Love

I find myself talking quite frequently about TXST’s Free and For Sale page on facebook. But guys, I’m seriously in LOVE with it!! If you’ve seen my post about these adorable storage chests, you know that I’ve been able to find some wonderful things on here for next to nothing.

This past weekend was no exception- I struck gold. A girl on campus was selling a bunch of old DVDs, and among them were Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady. Two of my favorites that I won’t have to netflix anymore- and only for $8!!

While I have a second to stand on my soapbox, a lot of my orientees have been asking me for money-saving tips in college. I plan on doing a whole Freshman FAQ post at some point this summer, but for now, do as I’m doing and be on the lookout for pages like Texas State’s F&FS. I hear about a lot of colleges in my area (READ: all of Texas) that have the same kinds of pages. It’s a cheaper craigslist, and 95% of the time, the sellers are students like you, so it’s bound to be less sketchy. (That being said, please don’t go pick things up alone. Please.)

Another pro tip I got from my Aunt is to join your local freecycle group! I’ve been on the lookout for a fridge on there. No luck yet, but people literally GIVE AWAY anything, all the time!

I’m super excited to watch my new DVDs! What is one woman’s trash is as good as diamonds to another! 🙂

Later, Sizzlers!

Jessica

TXST Room Tour and Folklore

Sizzlers, I apologize for not having posted in a few weeks!! I moved back to San Marcos and orientation training the last few weeks has made for some very long days. We officially start sessions tomorrow, so I have been charging up (read: lots of sleep!) for some very early days and late nights. I am very excited to get the summer started!! 🙂

One of the cool things about orientation is that even though we have to live on campus in what I like to call “the jail dorm” (I like big windows and as you will see below, this place doesn’t have them), we each get our own room and it’s two people to the shared bathroom that connects the rooms. My roommate is a total sweetheart. This is all a HUGE change from my freshman year. It was so nice to go from

0817131702

 

half of a shoe box seen above and below
0817131818

 

 

to

 

Photo on 6-1-14 at 2.15 PM

  my own room!

It was a lot of fun to put together. But do you see what I mean about that window? Eesh! Tower hall (this building) is haunted by the architect’s daughter, who fell out of a window during its construction in the 40s. Therefore, the windows get smaller as you go up in floors.  They’re small to begin with, and I’m living on the 7th! Oh, well. I have some friends who lived here last year that had some strange things happen to them, but the ghosts haven’t bothered me yet. The anxiety of living on one of the country’s most haunted campuses can be crazy!

Photo on 6-1-14 at 2.15 PM #3

I set up the above area as a day-bed kind of spot. I use it to read and relax at the end of a long day. I raised it so I could shove the dressers underneath it, and I love it! Those string lights have such a warm glow to them.

Photo on 6-1-14 at 2.16 PM #2

This is one of the two Narnia wardrobes in my room. When I open the doors, it provides a really nice, private nook to change in.

Photo on 6-1-14 at 2.16 PM

This is how I arranged my desks! I have tons of storage space between the two of them, and they have little pullouts on all sides that will be really convenient when I start doing some sewing stuff (because  I DID bring my sewing machine! Woo-hoo! you can kind of see it tucked behind my backpack). Credit for the quilt on my bed goes to my Grandmother in upstate New York. It is a truly beautiful piece of artwork. That is a goal for me someday, to learn how to quilt from her.

Anyway, that’s all for now, folks! I can’t promise many regular tutorials because I have yet to experience the real work schedule, but I will get some up as soon as possible!!

Until next time!

Jessica