Penn & Paper

Have y’all ever had those moments where you had planned for something to go a certain way and then nothing goes how you planned it? That’s currently where I’m at right now, in more ways than one. For those of you that don’t know, I graduated college a little over a week ago. (I’m typing this blog post from one of the open access computer’s at my school’s library because I forgot my laptop at my apartment. It’s weird). I had planned to wake up early enough (LOL) this morning to drop my car off at the shop for an oil change by 8am and then I was going to use the remaining 2 hours before work to write this post and get a few things done. I had gone to bed pretty late, but I thought I’d be able to force myself out of bed.
Well, just because I graduated doesn’t mean that I suddenly learned some new skill about waking up early. When my alarm went of at 7am I ignored it at least 4 different times and ended up rolling out of bed around 8:15. I got my car to the shop a little before 9, but then realized I had forgotten my laptop, thus why I’m typing this at the library. Needless to say, my plan for the morning was been foiled and in my mind “put me behind” in regards to where I thought I “needed to be.”

And that, ladies and gents is a great way to lead into the topic of today’s post: Where I need to be.
So, here we go, Post Grad Duck #1…

I’m moving to State College, Pennsylvania, in just a few short months. Yup. I will be living in the college town that surrounds Pennsylvania State University. The reason for this northward movement is because I’ve been accepted for a position with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) as an intern. I’m actually REALLY excited about this adventure for several reasons, but that wasn’t always the case. Remember how I asked if you ever planned things and then basically had your plans cave in on you? Well, not only did that happen to me this morning, but it also happened to me about 2 and 1/2 months ago. For all of January and the majority of February I had been planning and was expecting to go to a different campus other than Penn State, but due to certain circumstances and I was re-placed up north. I had been planning to go to a location that was closer to home, more urban, a bit warmer, and had some friends and family throughout the area. I had a plan, but then things changed. And if I’m being honest, I wasn’t excited about the new plan. I wasn’t excited because I didn’t plan it. I wasn’t expecting it, it was different, and certain things had changed in my life that now made this new transition even harder. So, for the remainder of my last semester I was pretty anxious and distraught.

Anxiety and stress and even a bit of depression played a bigger role during the month of April than I would have liked. Sadly, that became my plan–worry and fear. How am I supposed to do this? It’s so far away! What about all of my family and friends back home? I don’t know anyone up there. I’ve never even heard of State College, Pennsylvania. I don’t want to go. It’s gonna be too hard. It’s not what I signed up for. Maybe I’m not supposed to be doing this internship anymore… Thoughts like these swirled around in my head for days on end and as a result I lost a lot of sleep and shed a lot of tears. But then I made it through April, graduated college, and went to RUF’s Summer Conference in Panama City Beach, Florida.

When I got there, I was still anxious and nervous and scared and all feelings opposite of peace. Ya know the kind of nervous that makes it hard to pay attention? The kind that has you on edge, irrationally looking over your shoulder for the monster that doesn’t exist? Yeah, that’s where I was. Truthfully, I don’t even remember many of the details of the first two days I was at PCB because of how distracted I was. For those first two days, the plan that was ringing in my head was to not proceed with the internship. I had mostly made up my mind, but was still sort of open to continuing the pursuit, sort of. I had talked to several different friends about how unexcited I was and how I didn’t want to continue moving towards going to Penn. I was told “Jayna, if you really don’t want to do this, you don’t have to.” And that’s true, it still is. But you see, deep down, what I wasn’t allowing myself to fully embody and what I wasn’t telling anyone was that I still wanted to do the internship. I was comforted by the fact that I didn’t have to do anything (I hate being forced or manipulated into things), but I wasn’t comforted by the fact that I wouldn’t be working for an organization that I loved, that shaped and helped my college experience, that taught me so much about myself and the Lord, that brought me so many amazing friends… I wasn’t comforted by the fact that I wasn’t going to be using the gifts that I know I’ve been blessed with in an area where I know they could flourish, be used, and be grown.

On the Wednesday of Summer Conference I talked to the intern counselor, Casey, and here’s what she said, “Jayna, I really think you should do this. I get and fully understand why you’re scared and I don’t blame you, but I promise you that you won’t regret doing the internship. Your gifts point so clearly towards ministry, this experience is only going to help and grow you. It will make you a better wife and mother one day. I think you need to move past your fear and take the plunge and do it. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I don’t think that your calling has changed. I think that deep down you still want to do this, but you’re not excited because your circumstances have completely changed and so it’s hard to reorient how you feel. But I really think you should do this. I don’t want to guilt trip you or push you, that’s not what I’m trying to do, please hear that, I just know this would be good for you. You’re gonna make a great intern.”

Y’all. I was blown away. Casey met me with grace and love and patience and was able to see me. I don’t know how she could tell what I was thinking deep down. I wasn’t mad at what she said at all. Sure, it was hard to hear because I’m essentially having to get over myself and just do it (#Nike), but that’s what I wanted. It’s hard to explain the peace that I felt after that conversation. It was almost like I had been wearing sunglasses for way too long, took them off and realized how much better I could see without anything in front of my eyes.

So here’s where I am, just having finished the wildest emotional roller coaster. The ride was scary and exhilarating and weird and confusing and fast and had a few unexpected loops and twirls, but my train has stopped moving and I’m really really excited. While I was at PCB I was able to meet several Penn State students, the current campus minister, and 2 former interns. I have never felt more welcomed and loved and appreciated so quickly in my life. It was overwhelming, but it was beautiful. I couldn’t escape Penn, but as the week went on, I realized that I didn’t want to. Y’all, I’m really really excited to move to State College.

(I know, this blog post is already getting really really long, so I’ll try to wrap it up shortly…)

As I’ve thought about, prayed about, and written about this subject for the past 6 days I’m beginning to realize more and more that Penn State is where I need to be. I truly believe that our country and more specifically our church (as a whole) is moving towards cross cultural community. As a young woman of color, I believe that I’ve been given and called to a really unique opportunity to participate in this movement in Pennsylvania and I’m jazzed about it!  Of course, I’m still a bit wary, but the excitement and the peace the Lord has given me as of late is inexplicably, positively overwhelming and it feels so good.

This new plan isn’t mine, but rather the Lord’s– that’s why I feel good about it. I want to go to Penn State because I feel like the Lord wants me there. I want to go to Penn State because I want to challenge myself. I want to go to Penn State because of the people I’ve already met that go to school there. I want to go to Penn State because I want to be transparent about my struggles and my thoughts and maybe, just maybe, be able to help someone that finds themselves in a similar position to mine. I want to go to Penn State because I refuse to let fear stop me.

And so that’s that. I don’t know exactly what this journey is going to look like and logistically I can’t get there on my own. In order to move to Penn I have to raise 85% of $30,000. It’s a crazy amount, but I know that if I’m supposed to be there, I’ll get there. However, if you’re interested at all in helping me along the way whether that be just by sending me positive vibes, prayers, or being willing to support me financially, I would more than appreciate it! There’s a link to give at the bottom of this page; just type my name in the search box.

If you have any questions or just want to talk about my story in general, feel free to give me a shout! I’d love to chat. I’ll also be blogging throughout the summer, so keep an eye out for more posts. 🙂

[God, You’re really good, too good. And I’m so thankful. Pave the way for me to move to Penn State]
<3Amen

https://www.givetoruf.org

Dandelion Love

Duck #50

I GRADUATE IN 6 DAYS Y’ALL!! 6. LESS THAN 7, BUT MORE THEN 5. SIX.

While I’m pretty pumped to be done with my undergraduate schooling, I can’t say that the feelings I have are not bittersweet. I can talk about those in another blog post, though. This post centers heavily around the past 3 weeks, but mostly a question I was asked last night.

Let me set the scene: *cue lights* Saturday night. College town. I’m watching a comedy with my roommate in our apartment. In the middle of hysterical laughter my phone goes off….
Fast forward: Two of my friends come pick me up and we embark on our journey to the parkway. It’s a pretty clear night, so stargazing was going to be prime! (Spoiler: it actually wasn’t that great because the moon was so dang bright–it was the only thing we could see). Anyway, we hiked to one of my favorite lookouts: Rough Ridge. We fought our way through bushes and brambles, briars and brush until we found ourselves sitting on top of a rock that overlooked hills upon hills. We could see the outline of our town framing the space between the earth and sky. (Poetic, I know. Boone will do that to ya 😛 ).

Most of the time on the rock was spent joking around, per usual when hanging out with these two friends, but then the joking was interrupted by a question. “Jayna, what’s your advice for us?” he said. “What do you mean? In general or for your last two years of college?” I asked back (these friends are younger than me, by the way).  He responded, “For our last two years…What advice do you have?” I thought for a moment, and truthfully I couldn’t really think of anything. Put on the spot, I figured that I should say something really wise and intelligent that would make me seem like I had a handle on this whole life thing. I knew I didn’t need to impress either of them, but there was still a part of me that wanted to.  I thought and I thought, and I couldn’t really think of anything that I wanted to say. So I gave a decent answer, but even after I finished speaking I wasn’t satisfied.

The night carried on and we parted ways. I went to sleep thinking about what I had said. I thought, Jayna, you’ve GOT to have something better than that. Well, at church this morning the Lord reminded me of something:

“There’s no fear in love.” -1 John 4:18

And then I thought of dandelions. I’ve actually been thinking about them a lot recently. I personally like to think of them as grass freckles. They add character to the green. I know they’re weeds, but they’re not ugly. Considering all the different types of weeds out there, I’d say that dandelions are some of the best in the bunch. I think I like dandelions so much because in a way, they’re fearless. When they’re in their wishing form, they’re extremely fragile. Dandies are so easily blown by the wind, children that want a puppy, or college kids that want to pretend they’re 5 again. But you see, even though these “weeds” are so easily moved, they’re not so easily broken. They find fertile ground and blossom into those pesky yet pretty little yellow spots we all know so well. They don’t quit. They’re persistent little things. It’s almost like they love being in the grass so much that they’ll do whatever it takes to get there. While they’re blown around, stepped on and plucked, the dandelion persistently loves and becomes stronger eventually freckling yards upon yards of wide open, grassy fields.

I’ve been kind of selfish over the past 3 weeks. In a lot of ways. Sometimes that happens, ya know? You just slip into modes of narcissism… But regardless of my flaws, I was made to love and for love. I was made to love without fear because perfect Love casts that away. Dandelions do exactly what they were designed to do, and in that way we (the dandelion and I) should be the same.

So I’ve changed my answer, friends. My advice for you is to love fearlessly. To live out your identity as a child of God. To find fertile ground when you’re blown by the winds of life. To bloom and add character and beauty to the lives of others. But above all, to never ever forget the amazing love of our Father.

[Jesus, thank You for dandelions and for how You used them to remind me that I was made to love without fear. Help me not only to remember that, but to walk in that daily.]
<3Amen

~ F I R E ~

Duck #49

Oh, fellow readers. It’s been so long since I’ve written. It’s most unfortunate because of how much I love writing…sometimes I have to be reminded of that. It’s hard to write for fun sometimes, ya know? I’ve been so busy writing papers upon papers for school. I’m graduating in 19 days, so there is so much that I need to finish. For example, the capstone I should be working on right now. But tonight I’m going to write for myself and then maybe write a little for my professor, but I’m putting myself first. *Insert the “desk worker” emoji that I named Tanya over a year ago.*

Tonight’s theme: I’m not sure, yet. We’ll see what happens as I write. I had a them and typed about 200 words and then decided I didn’t want to talk about that topic anymore. So here we are.

Life is weird, y’all. I think that when I was a little girl, I assumed that by the time I was 21 I would know all the things. Well, here I am at 21 and I don’t know as much as I once thought I would. Let me give you an example:
Earlier today, I decided to go for a run because that’s what adults do to take care of themselves. After my run I resolved to cook dinner because that’s also what adults do to take care of themselves. They exercise and they cook, I’m sure it’s in a handbook on adulthood somewhere. Well…as I was preparing my meal, as any mature 21 year old should be able to due, a piece of food fell under the burner and it started to smoke. I turned down the heat of the burner and turned on the fan above the stove. Naturally, that didn’t work because the piece of food caught on fire and a flame began to grow. In a state of panic, I started to yell “Fire! Fire! There’s a fire! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do! I ACTUALLY don’t know what to do!”

I just stood there. Literally. My mind went blank and I watched the flame blaze. I’m sure I looked pretty stupid just gazing at the fiery stove as if it were an art exhibit at a museum. Fortunately, 2 of my roommates were in the living room and they came to my rescue. Actually, one of my roommates turned off the burner and the other took a picture of me in all my frantic glory. We all laughed after everything calmed down and the burning smell dissipated. *Oh, I know what direction this post is going to go in now!* As the kitchen began to clear I kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” I did this for two reasons: 1) Because I’m an ENFP & I can’t help but to apologize for things extensively. 2) I felt like I should’ve known what to do. I’m 21, I’m a senior in college, I know my way around the kitchen well enough. It’s not ridiculous to assume that I would know how to handle that situation. But I didn’t know…I needed help.
I wish that I could say that this post is really just a lesson on what to do if you catch your stove on fire, but it’s not. As I continue to type, I realize it’s deeper than that. It’s deeper because tonight’s little event has made me realize that there are a lot of things that I don’t know and that scares me. It scares me because I want to know them. I want to know them because I want to prove that I’m okay and capable. I want to prove that I’m good at x and therefore can do y.
They say that comparison kills, expectations crush, and I say that they’re right. But I also say that there’s nothing wrong with ignorance if you’re willing to learn. I don’t use ignorance in a negative way, but rather in the form of it’s true definition: a lack of knowledge or information. There are several things that I am ignorant of. Even as a 21 year old senior in college, there is so much I don’t know. There’s also so much that I think that I know, but actually don’t. I learned that this past week.

I’m really good at overthinking and overanalyzing just about everything. I do this because I allow my ignorance to guide me. With that comes a false sense of reality–I’m really good at creating monstrous situations in my head, when they’re actually small teddy bears that might have a ripped seam. But instead of being patient and trying to learn the information I lack, I make up what I think to be true and then act rashly on that. And that’s exhausting. So incredibly exhausting. And quite frankly, I don’t have time to be exhausted so often, ya know?

Altering ignorance doesn’t happen over night.
Altering ignorance requires patience.
Altering ignorance is a sign of maturity.

Y’all, I don’t know a lot of things. But I do know that I can’t keep acting out of ignorance. I’m about to be done with school forever and I’m scared and I really don’t know all the details of what’s going to happen after I walk across the stage. So, I’m talking to myself when I say this, but feel free to listen in:
It’s okay to not have all of the answers. It’s okay to take time to learn them.
It’s okay to be scared, but you can’t let that fear control you.
It’s okay to want to be competent, but that competence does not make up you’re identity as a worthy human.
God is not angry with you for being ignorant.
He wants you to seek Him first and glean His wisdom.
He begs you to look toward Him when you’re scared.
He yearns for you to be defined by His perfect attributes.

So, I don’t know, but Lord, I want to learn.

[Jesus, will You teach me?]
❤ Amen

Take Exit 31: Discoveries About Identity

Duck #45

I really want to know who Jesus is and I also really want to know who I am. I think that those are two very important things, because I think that identity is crucial to living. According to the dictionary app I have on my phone, the word identity means : who someone is; the name of a person; the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.

Who someone is.

I’m in this weird place, friends. It’s my last semester of college and because of that I’m trying to be fully present where I am, but also hope and prepare for the “what’s next?” segment of my life. As a 2nd semester senior, you hear a lot of “oh, how exciting!”, “are you ready to graduate?”, “enjoy this time!”, “plan for what’s a head”, “get ready!”, “relax!”–basically, you hear a lot. It’s awesome. It really is. When else am I going to be in a section of life that merits so many words to be poured into me constantly and consistently just because of the nature of the section of life that I’m in. I mean, I guess when I get married I’ll also be told a lot of things, but I don’t even have a boyfriend, so I won’t go there. 😛 My point is this: there’s a lot of words being thrown my way and it’s awesome, but it’s also very overwhelming.

Friends, readers, followers of my blog, you’ve gotten to know me over the past year. I’m a thinker, I’m a struggler, I’m a dreamer, I’m a lover, I’m curious. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’ve learned a lot about who I am, but I’ve also learned that I have a lot more to learn. I suppose I never thought I was done learning, but I thought I reached a point where I was cruising. You know, like when you’re taking a road trip and you really have to pay attention to the GPS, until it gets to the point where it tells you to stay on I-95 or I-40 for 80 miles or more. I thought I had at least 80 miles, but I don’t. My little GPS is telling me to change lanes, take exit 31 on the right, turn left at the light, and continue driving for another 3 miles before I have to make another turn.

So what does this have to do with identity and Jesus? Well, I’m not 100% sure, but that’s why I’m blogging. Haha. Because I’m sure that I’ll conclude something before I finish this post… 🙂 Let’s take a journey, shall we?

Learning about yourself is hard, is it not? It’s so good, but it’s so hard. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly trying to better yourself. You’re constantly trying to be the best version of yourself you can be and looking for affirmation in how well you perform or how well other people say you perform, but that’s exhausting. And quite frankly, I’m over it. But you see, that’s all I’ve known. I’m good at performing–really good at it. So, I don’t know how to not perform. I’d like to think that I’ve had glimpses and scenes and moments where my mask was off, my costume was on the rack, and I wasn’t reciting memorized lines. In fact, I know that’s happened. But when you’re not in the habit of being raw, when you’re not in the habit of speaking your mind, when you’re not in the habit of freedom, it’s really hard to try and be raw, speak your mind, and be free. That is, to do these things so freely, a type of freedom that you can’t foster or create.

I find my identity in my performance. And that’s hard for me to admit for several reasons.
1) Because I’ve blogged about it before
2) I feel like I should be over that by now
3) If I mess up my performance, I feel lost…

But here’s the thing, just because I find my identity in my performance does not mean that my identity is my performance. My dictionary app said that identity is: who someone is; the name of a person. As a Christian, my identity is: daughter of God; righteous (2 Corinthians 6:18), co-heir with Christ; holy (Romans 8:17),  beloved; redeemed (Ephesians 1:7). And you see, what I fail to remember is that the identity I’ve been given through Christ isn’t like the identity I’ve gained in the world–it can’t be stolen. If someone takes my Bible, I don’t have to go to the police and explain what happened, or tell the bank to cancel my debit and credit cards. The identity given to me by Jesus is permanent, it’s constant, it’s always.

Okay, awesome. Great! That all sounds wonderful, right? But why is it so hard to remember? Why is it so hard to grasp and believe? Well friends, I’m figuring that out. Because believe me, I get it, it’s not easy to own up to your identity, especially when the words “prone to wander, Lord I feel it,” seem more true than ever. But here’s what I think, and this may or may not be be true for you–it’s hard to understand our identity because it wasn’t ours from the start, it was given to us. And when we receive it, we latch onto the title because it’s beautiful. But as we learn about the title and what it means, we realize how much we don’t deserve it. So we question it, we doubt it, we don’t believe it. We latch on to the good and completely forget grace, we ignore the Giver. At least, that’s what I often do…
A.W. Tower said, “what comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Because Jesus died, took our sins, and in exchange gave us His righteousness, our identity became His. Y’all our identity is Jesus. So, what comes to our minds when we think about our identity is the most important thing about us.

Jesus loves because He loves because He loves because He loves because He loves because that’s who He is.
I’m learning that. I’m learning about who He is and about who I am.

So, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, would you reveal yourself to me, to us? Would you show us Your character? Would you drive us to know You for the sake of knowing You and through that would you help me, us, to understand who we are?
<3Amen