Dear Exhausted Job Applicant

Dear Exhausted Job Applicant, I see you. I see you over there trying to word "I would love to work for your organization" in three different ways so they really understand that you want this job. I see you rewriting and rewriting cover letter after cover letter, researching another organization and trying to formulate your resume to make it look like you're qualified, because you know you are but  "on paper" it seems like you're not. I see you getting your hopes up, sending every resume off with a prayer and then hanging your head when there's silence on the other end. I see you.

You try and remember that your value isn't in your work, but it's hard sometimes. It's hard when you enjoy working and know that is where you find joy and now you don't have the certainty of that. You try and remember it's normal that people change jobs and job hunt all the time. You try and remember that "God is in control" and all the truths you know you're supposed to remember, but it's hard.

It's hard when you feel like you've been led to let go of where you are in order to grab onto what's next. It's hard when what's next isn't clear. It's hard when people stare at you like a crazy person when you say you are leaving one job without knowing what's next. It's hard when you felt such peace about your decision, but then nothing seems to be working out. It's hard when you're just trying to do the next right thing and then all of a sudden you're not sure what the next right thing is. It's hard when you don't want to doubt and be confused, it's hard to not be terrified all the time.

It's easy to stop applying and just hope something works out. It's easy to have a pity party and complain. It's easy to beat yourself up and give into the fear. That's the easy part...but that's not where beauty shines through.

Beauty shines through when someone looks at you, not like you're crazy, but says they're proud of you. Beauty shines through when a peace that surpasses all understanding fills your soul. Beauty shines through when even when it's easier to have the pity party and believe the lies that you made a mistake you choose to replace the lies with truth. You'll slowly feel the truth cement in your heart and start to grow roots in your soul. Beauty shines through when even with all the unknown and the time of transition, people come alongside you and hold up your hands and remind you that it's going to be okay. Beauty shines through when people extend you the grace, compassion and understanding that you're having a hard time extending to yourself.

So, exhausted job applicant, let me replace some lies with truth for you. You are not your job or your occupation. You have value regardless of what you do because you are not what you do, you are who you are. If you know God led you to a decision or a choice and it doesn't seem like he's showing up, remember all the examples in your life before and how he's been faithful. Why would he stop now? Also, people don't get hired overnight. Some of us who are impatient and like for things to happen right now have a hard time remembering this (Of course I'm not talking about myself...).

This is getting long and you're already tired from all those cover letters and resumes so let me tell you these last things. It's okay that this is hard. It's okay to grieve what you're letting go of and still be excited about what's next. It's okay to have a pity party, just don't stay there for long. It's okay to be dramatic, but just make sure you have a good friend there to let you know when you're getting ridiculous. And remember, you need people. Even if you're coping mechanism with all this is to retreat into yourself, don't retreat all the way. Remember we're not meant to do life alone. There are people who want to be there for you, give people a chance to show up and let that beauty shine through amidst your circumstances.

I see you and I'm with you.


Abby aka An Exhausted Job Applicant

The Beauty of Community.

I was fortunate enough to spend last weekend in Michigan with some of my favorite people. The beginning of the trip was with family and the end of the trip with friends. It was refreshing and exhausting all at the same time, but overall, it was just what I needed. No matter where I live or where I go, Michigan will always be home. Staring out the big window in my parent's living room and looking out to the backyard, sitting on the beach, playing in the waves at Lake Michigan and soaking in the sunsets are where I find peace.

That weekend I didn't even spend much time at my actual house, but I was with people in lots of different places. It made me realize home isn't always a place, but it can be who you're with too.

My friends and I rented a house for the weekend. We've been planning this trip for almost a year and we managed to find a time where all eleven people could come from five different states to one of our favorite places, Lake Michigan. When everyone arrived, my heart felt like it would burst because it was so full.

Some of these friends I have known since I was a baby, some of them elementary school, some high school and some have "married into" the group, but regardless of the length of time each person has been in my life, they each mean so much to me and have a piece of my heart.

The weekend was a healing balm and jumpstart to my heart, all at the same time. One group got dinner ready, while others played cornhole and others talked on the porch. We played game after game after game. We sprinted across the sand to meet the sunset. We talked life plans and caught up in ways that can only happen in person. We settled into each other's presence and picked up where we left off. We jabbed and joked with each other and went back and forth, where others may look in and wonder if we're more like siblings than friends. But that's the beauty in community, just because we don't share blood, doesn't mean we can't be our own kind of family.

With each burst of laughter, each heart shared, each question asked, every joke made and every smile exchanged, I just saw beauty. Beauty in friendship, beauty in bonds that last through change, through moves, through life transitions, beauty in new friends and marriages and babies and life milestones celebrated, beauty in community and beauty in the ability to sit down, pick up where you left off and really be together. States, time and life might separate us, but that doesn't mean the beauty is gone. It just means we have to hang on to it when we can and know it'll be there the next time we're together.

We are meant for community. This weekend was a testament of that truth for me. We are meant to open ourselves up to each other and do life together. We are meant to encourage, comfort and listen to each other. We are meant to enjoy, laugh and have fun together. We are meant to be a part of each other's story.

I am so thankful for the community I have and that through the people who exist within my different communities and "families" that I am able to see and experience so much love and so much beauty.


Lessons from my Thesis

I submitted my thesis last night...all 100 pages! (I was excited that it ended up being such a great, round and even number). I can't believe it's done. I'm not sure if I've ever worked so hard on something in my life. I was trying to think of all the hours it took up and I really don't think I can count them. Let's just say, I'm not gonna know what it's like to not have work to do before I go to work in the morning or as soon as I get off at night and I won't be spending all weekend at my computer. I'm not going to miss scheduling interviews at lunchtime, dreaming about coding data or spending 12 hours a day looking at a screen. I feel like I'm about to re-enter society! I'm currently laying in my bed as I type this on my phone because my body and mind vetoed my attempt to actually sleep in until 8 today. I let it sink in that I was done with my thesis and naturally, because I think too much, I started thinking about all I learned this semester through this process. So, naturally, I made a top ten list.

1. Things that are worth it are hard. I could have taken a lot of shortcuts through this process, but I didn't. I actually really do care about what I researched and I wanted to produce a thesis done with excellence. Producing this was really hard, but worth it.

2. I have the best community ever. I wouldn't have made it the last couple months if it wasn't for my family and friends. When I think about how great everyone is I get emotional because I'm just so fortunate to know such awesome people and that I get to have them in my life (I'm allowed to be emotional aboht these things...I just completed a milestone). I actually could really feel the prayers of so many people and the texts, calls and gifts kept me going. The fact that I have friends and family who would transcribe interviews, edit chapter after chapter, let me cry and assure me it'll be okay and make sure we celebrate even the little victories is amazing. My people y'all are the best kind of people.

3. It's okay to say no. I became very familiar with the phrase, "I just don't have the capacity for that." I've learned that sometimes you just have to say no and everything will still be okay. Not gonna lie, still not great at this and am not always good at doing this without pounds of guilt accompanying it, but I'm working on it.

4. Even when you don't think you have time to take care of yourself, you have time to take care of yourself. I'm not just mentioning this because my whole thesis is about self-care, but because it's actually true. Through this whole process (full disclosure: at least up until the last two weeks or so) I have tried to make a conscious effort to still love and take care of myself through the crazy. Not only was I working on my thesis and had another class, but this is one of the busiest times for work too and there was always something that needed to be done. But sometimes, I just took a nap or watched an episode of Parks and Rec (I mean they're only 20 minutes and it's the best show ever...) I also tried to get 8 hours of sleep most nights, I truly think being proactive in caring for ourselves results in more productivity and helps you keep your sanity. I wasn't always great at this in all aspects (don't even ask me the last time I worked out) but I could tell a notable difference from when I felt like I was consciously choosing to care for myself and my soul.

5. Good music matters. Pandora was my BFF for this process, also my "Grad School motivation playlist." The Explosions in the Sky, John Legend and Ingrid Michaelson stations were in heavy rotation. I love music and listening to it while I work makes me feel like I'm not alone in it...(as I typed that I realized that may be weird but it's true)

6. I am highly motivated by rewards and incentives. Yes, call me a child or a puppy, but the range of incentives I made for myself during this process were sometimes ridiculous and comical but effective.

7. The mountains help me think and give me life. I was fortunate enough to get away for a weekend to Gatlinburg to work on the bulk of my research and it was awesome. I had a clear mind, got to be creative and was surrounded by mountains. Even though I barely left the hotel room and I worked 15 hour days, it was life-giving.

8. Sometimes knowing you're not alone is all it takes to give you the extra push to get it done. I loved the group messages between me and my classmates and knowing we were all working on this together.

9. It's okay to borrow belief from others sometimes. There were times I wasn't sure I could finish this or felt like what I was doing wasn't good enough or really valuable, but there was always someone around me reminding me those were lies and who believed I could do it. Sometimes when we don't believe a truth, we have to momentarily borrow the belief from someone we love until we believe it ourselves.

10. Every season ends. This was a season. A long, hard, emotional, rewarding, but intense season. Amidst all the work, it's also been a difficult personal time for different reasons, but knowing this was just a season kept me sane at times.

I actually cannot believe my thesis is submitted and I graduate next week! The last two and a half years have been a crazy time. I've learned more than I thought, been continuously blessed by the people I've met through this program and I've grown a lot. I am so thankful for this season, but I'm ready to move into this next season carrying all that I learned through this one with me.

(For real...a HUGE thank you to all of my family and friends and all of your love and support through this grad school season. If I could take out a billboard to brag about how awesome and wonderful you all are, I would...not to be too dramatic or anything) ;-)

One Word for 2015.

It's that time of year again, a New Year. It's hard to believe it's 2015! The holidays were a whirlwind for me and I didn't have much time to really think back on the year or think ahead to the next, but luckily, I had an eight hour car ride to let my mind and heart go for a little bit. For the last two years I have chosen a word for the year. Each time it is a word that I thought about a lot and that I wanted to encompass the essence of the year ahead. There's actually a whole community that does this. I love this practice and have been thinking and praying about my word for 2015 for the last couple weeks. I have realized that I need to be careful with this choice because if the last two years were any indication...the word I choose really does make itself known throughout the year. 2013 was about confidence and this last year about being unafraid. Pages and pages could be filled with how I have gained confidence and the opportunities I have had to be unafraid, but for the sake of saving time I won't go into that here.

I will carry those words with me as I travel into this next year. 2015...the year of balance. Balance did not make my initial brainstorming list of words for 2015, but it came about during a talk with someone who knows me well and is willing to ask me the hard questions. I kept passing it over for other ideas I had (this seems to be a theme for these words that I choose...I avoid them at all costs at first), but I began to realize everything else I thought to encompass the year ahead would come...with balance. So the root of it all, balance.

My hope and prayer is that in 2015 I would create balance in my life. I don't think it's something that needs to be found, but is something that is created and realizing I have the ability within my own life to create that balance...

Balance between dreaming for the future and being present in the here and now.

Balance between when I should say yes and when I should say no.

Balance between work and rest.

Balance between saying too much and not saying enough.

Balance in work, school, friends, family and life.

Balance in boundaries and expectations, reality and ideals.

 Balance between caring too much and not caring enough.

Balance between moving forward and staying right where I am.

Balance in what I know to be true and what I'm still seeking after.

Balance in pouring out to others and pouring into myself.

Balance between holding on and letting go.

Balance in wanting to do a lot of things but realizing I can't do everything.

The list could go on and I hope to share more about my journey and the opportunities I have in creating balance this year. Here's to a balanced 2015!


Your song.


I read recently in the book, Faith-rooted Organizing, Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World by Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Heltzel, a really great story. I am privileged to have Alexia as a professor this semester and I have learned so much from her! Not just about organizing, but about faith and life and it has been one of my favorite classes.

In her book she shares this:

In several regions in Africa, when a woman is pregnant, she must gather in the forest with other mothers and members of the community to discern the song of her baby. They all sing the song while she is giving birth so that the baby will be born well. When that baby grows up and begins their education or their career, or at any other important moments of life, they remember and sing their song. When they find their life partner, they sing a duet. When they are dying, the whole community sings their song. When a person has committed a crime, they also gather the community, place the offender in the middle and sing them their song to remind them of who they are.

I just think this is one of the coolest things. My first response to this was, wow, what an illustration of community! This is what the Kingdom should be about. Not only do others prioritize helping a mother discern the song of her child, but this community remembers this specific child's song...they remember who he/she is. They call him or her back to who they are.

How affirming that must be for someone. For so many people to care for you and to sing your song in celebration and in death, to care enough that even if you commit a crime...they gather to sing it to you, as a reminder. When I first read this I thought it was going to say they bring the offender in the middle and take away their song or strip away their rights (this shows how ingrained our penal and judicial system is in my head), but rather, they gather the community, place the offender in the middle and sing them their song to remind them of who they are. WOW. What grace, what a way to approach someone with dignity even if it may not be "deserved". It's not letting the person off the hook or absolving responsibility, they're not backing away, but rather confronting and calling them back to who they know they really are. It's beautiful.

This is one of the most beautiful things I've read recently and I realized that although a literal song may not have been discerned over me when I was born, I still have a song. We all do. We all were uniquely created to be who we are, whether we're fully and wholly that person yet or not. I am so fortunate to have people in my life who sing my song with me in celebration and who remind me who I am.

My hope and prayer is that I can do that for others too...that we would all do that for each other.  That we realize the importance of knowing others' song...that we're not afraid to sing that song to them, to remind them of who they are. The world would be a better place if we all recognized that each and every person has a song. Sometimes people just need to be reminded of who they are and that everyone's lives matter and that everyone has a song.