Monday, October 1, 2012

The Times They Are A Changin...

I am currently sitting in my favorite white chair in the living room of my house in Holland. It's Sunday night and I am winding down after a long week of work and school and not much play. I spent the day reading in a little coffee shop on the corner of 8th and College then came home to make a delicious dinner with my housemates. The sun was shining and it's warmth radiated. I love days like this. Days where the busy ones are made worth it. Days where I can sit and just be. I do not get many of them these days so the ones I do get make me appreciate them that much more. I sit here tonight and think about my first 5 weeks of school. Did I make the right choice of working two jobs and being a full time student? Do I have any regrets from my senior year of college? The more I sit and think the more I truly believe the answer is that no, I have no regrets.

I am reading a book for one of my classes called "The Devil's Highway", it is based on true events that happened on the US/Mexican border in the early 2000's. The book is about a group of Mexican men traveling through the desert to get into the U.S. while struggling to stay alive between harsh climates, killer insects, poisonous animals, and no water. They say that this area of Arizona is known as the "Cabeza Prieta" or "Devil's Highway" and it is labeled as "a vast graveyard of unknown dead... the scattered bones of human beings slowly turning to dust... the dead were left where they were to be sepulchered by the fearful sand storms that sweep at times over the desolate waste". At the very beginning of the book the author writes the book "for the dead, and for those who rescue the living". I thought that the phrasing was particularly intriguing. I work in the medical field and know the meaning behind the idea of "rescuing the living". My favorite part about my job is being around people. Not just the everyday, polite people, but people at their most vulnerable stage, sick people. Working in medicine is not just about preserving a life physically but it is also about mental health as well. I think that is what I have learned the most about working in the Emergency room is that people don't always need some medicine or a splint but they just need someone to talk to, someone to listen to them. They need to be rescued.

I love my job. I love helping people. I get the opportunity every single day to help patients and make a true difference in their lives and in the community. I am truly blessed to get to experience that each and every day. No matter how busy I get with school, work and my extracurriculars, I know that this is where I belong and this is what I was made for.

This revelation was not easy coming. The past few years have been the hardest for me with lots of sickness and separation. There was a point last summer when I felt like I had not stopped crying for months. If it wasn't worrying about cancer, it was missing Matt and if it wasn't missing Matt, it was worrying about cancer. This past May, the day after I finished exams I headed off to visit my brother and sister-in-law for two weeks. I needed that. I needed to be away for awhile and not worry about anything. I couldn't miss Matt because I was with him everyday. I slowly felt myself start to heal from the past year and get stronger. I no longer felt like crying but I felt ready to take on the world. I hopped on that plane at the Raleigh-Durham airport a new woman. And when I flew back I had two days to prepare myself for a summer I could never have imagined.

I started working the Emergency room that Monday morning. The second week working in the ER I had already seen a lot, large head wounds, seriously illnesses, headaches, coughs, you name it. I remember going home after those first few days and not being able to stop smiling about how awesome my day was. Not that being sick is awesome, but the ability to help people that are sick is something I cannot explain in words nor will I try. Not everyone is cut out for medicine. The Emergency room is fast-paced, crazy, irritating, and eye-opening. It left little room for worrying or anything else really. Which at first felt overwhelming but I quickly caught on to the pace and environment I was working in and felt like I was ready.

I now understand the expression, "love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life". I have always loved this but did not understand it really until this summer. I was always busy, always tired, but it was a good busy, a good tired. I enjoyed going in to work in the early morning before the sun came up or getting home just before the sun came up. While the world was sleeping and some days when more coffee was needed, I was on my way to another day of absolute insanity. Then I would drive home from a long day and know that the feeling of complete exhaustion just showed that the day had been productive. Even on the days I felt drained, I'd get up, put a smile on my face and get going. I looked forward to those feelings of impending insanity or the feeling of complete exhaustion because I was doing something and it felt good.

I think the busier I get this year, the more I appreciate the times I get to spend with my family and friends. I'm headed home this weekend for a long weekend of food, family, friends and fun. I'm ready to have a few days of no work and all play. I plan on sleeping in, staying up late and eating lots of homemade food. Those are the important things in life, family and friends. No matter how busy my schedule gets, I always leave room for that. The relationships you have and the ones you make are worth making an effort. My dad always tells me to not get wrapped up in it, always remember who you are and where you come from and remember those who love you. Never get so busy that you forget to make an effort with the ones you love.

My hope for you is that you find the thing you love, whether it be painting the rest of your life or joining the military. I pray that you find the one thing that makes you happy and stick with it. I'm not quite there yet but I know that I am headed in the right direction. That's all we can really do, right? Head in the right direction? I don't know if there is every really a destination we reach with our goals or if we just keep traveling in the right direction that takes lots of twists and turns along the way, but I do know.....the journey is worth it.


Monday, April 30, 2012

My Devoted Supporter & Loyal Protector

This past week I received a phone call... a phone call that I am not really sure I was ready to get. On Wednesday evening, my brother called me from North Carolina. At first, I had assumed he was calling me to get flight information and the time of when I would arrive the following Wednesday in Raleigh. I was not however, expecting to hear an update about our 7 year old, German Shepard, King who hadn't been feeling well. I heard "tests", "cancer", and the words you never want to hear whether it be human or animal: "it doesn't look good". I was holding it together until I asked my brother how he was doing... He got upset and I lost it. He told me they had an appointment the following day to get the tests results back and that they might have to put him down. I felt like someone punched me in the gut.

If you grew up with animals like Matt & I have, you know that you become incredibly attached. Well, King was no exception, if not even more so. We got King from a farm in 2003, a year and a half after our old dog, Wanda past away. Matt and I were ecstatic that my parents were allowing us to get another dog. I still remember the night that Matt and I scheduled a family meeting to discuss with my parents why we NEEDED a dog. Matt had done the research and I did the talking. We left that night to go pick up our new lil pup. When we arrived at the house, I remember it wreaked. It was a cow farm and boy did it smell like one. We were led out to a side garage attached to the house and were greeted by 4 little, almost all black, German Shepards. 3 were girls and there was 1 boy, the runt of the litter. We sat on a bucket and were licked and slobbered by these adorable little guys with giant ears. But as soon as Matt picked up King, I knew that that was that. We signed the paperwork, took him to the vet, and after a few short weeks he made himself at home. I remember that he liked to sleep a lot the first few weeks. He was really active when he wasn't sleeping. I have a picture at home on my bulletin board in my room of King curled up next to Matt, sleeping on the couch in the basement. King was no bigger than a large cat. He had these giant ears and huge paws that made him look silly with his little head and body. We could tell he was going to be a good size boy. His absolute favorite toy as a puppy was these raw hide bones that looked like donuts, with a hole in the middle. He used to pick it up and trot around the house with his nose in the hole, so proud of himself. He absolutely loved being outside, especially with Matt. We made sure that he was accustomed to loud noises and four-wheelers because we knew that would be a part of his life. The first time Matt and my dad took King out with them to shoot, they thought for sure he might get a lil ancey or nervous... he slept and laid in the bed of the truck almost the whole time.

When buying a German Shepard you have the choice of whether or not you want floppy ears or pointed ears. Matt decided they look stupid with floppy so we had to make sure that everyone that petted him as a puppy would not rub between his ears too roughly. You can imagine this was extremely hard to monitor and literally EVERYONE likes to rub dogs between the ears. We were constantly telling people to rub under his chin instead and eventually people caught on. King's favorite spot was his belly and on his hind end right near his tail. You could make him kick his leg and make groaning noises whenever you rubbed him. Even though, his breed is known for their dominance, Matt made sure that he was docile and loving to not only adults but to little kids as well. Matt trained him and the rest of the family followed the rules. We made sure to rub his head and back while he ate for most of the first year so he would not grow territorial. The only time he ever really got upset was if he was injured or if he felt like there was a threat.

I remember one night after he had been chasing the four-wheelers for hours, I was about to head up the stairs to bed. King limped over and blocked the steps and started growling at me. I got nervous for a flash of a second because he had NEVER growled at me before. I sat down with him at the bottom of the stairs and he laid his head on my lap. I started to rub his sore paw and scratch his fur and he just groaned (He did that a lot). After about 30 minutes, I told him I had to go to bed and he didn't move, he let me up the stairs to bed. I remember thinking that was so silly but I guess he really just needed some lovin'.

In high school, every morning when I woke up and headed down the stairs in my robe to shower, King would be there waiting for me, wagging his tail like crazy. I would always pat his head and give him a kiss and he would bite the sleeve of my robe and walk me to the bathroom, and I am dead serious, he really would.

College was a much harder transition for us. I missed having King around and I loved coming home to the happiest dog. I remember the first time I came home from school it had been about 5 weeks since I had been home. I pulled in the driveway and there was King laying down on the concrete near the steps where he always laid in the sun. He perked up and trotted over to the car, because I was in my parent's car I don't think he knew I was there. I grabbed my stuff and hopped out. King immediately ran over and started whining and moaning and jumping all around. I kneeled down to pet him and nearly got trampled with kisses to the face. I had to laugh at his excitement of my return home, I think he thought I was never coming back.

Matt and I used to horse around a lot, usually it was Matt picking on me and we would get into wrestling matches. King hated it. He knew that Matt was bigger and stronger than me and King was always my protector. I remember one time King actually bit Matt clear in the butt for fighting with me in the living room. Matt laughed, but you could tell he hadn't expected it. Usually he would just bark like crazy at Matt to tell him to stop or jump on him but apparently he didn't think Matt was getting the idea and needed to be clear.

King had always been there. On days when I was upset and would lay across my feet or sit beside me and lick my tears. I'm sure he thought they tasted pretty good but I like to think that he was wiping them away. Here's the thing about dogs. They are the most loyal beings like no human could ever be. They don't question you, argue with you, fight with you. They just love you unconditionally, listen to you without speaking, and stand beside you no matter any circumstance. They have absolute pure joy like it is the last time they'll see you EVERY TIME they see you. They play with you and walk with you and sit with you on the deck on a warm summer's night. They make you laugh and love them even more. They are devoted followers and supporters, fierce protectors, friendly hosts, and cherished friends.

I have a firm belief in heaven and I think that dogs go there. I have been praying lately that King is running around, catching tennis balls, chasing four-wheelers and being a good boy up there. Even though it hurts so much to think about him and writing this I had to stop a few times to dry my face, I can't help but smile with every memory of King. The warmth of his black fur after he'd been laying in the sun for a few hours, I can feel it. His wet snout pushing against my hand as he trots next to me on a walk out in the field. I will forever miss him and I can only hope that my future dog will be as loyal and protective as my baby, King was. Love you forever and ever, buddy. Miss you so much. RIP.

Forever & Always

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When life gives you lemons...

It's been awhile since my last update. I apologize for that. Life only gets crazier from here on out is what I hear. A few weeks ago I finally completed my Certified Nursing Assistant clinicals and class. My relief is inexplicable. I enjoyed learning the various aspects of the job and am looking forward to finding something in one of the local hospitals in my area. No one told me, however, how terrible a job search would be. Can you say stressful? And that would be an understatement. For the last few days, I have checked every hospital in the area's website every few hours to see if job openings are posted. When they become available, I apply and basically cross my fingers. I have an awesome resume, thanks to my lovely sister, and I am hoping that something will turn up. I do not think I have ever been this anxious before about anything. My passion for people and the level that I care for others is what makes me not only want to do this job but something I feel that I need to do. I felt frustrated this afternoon when I received a response back from one of the jobs saying that "while my qualifications were great, other candidates had more experience than I". Duh... is that not why I am applying for these jobs in the first place? To gain experience? It makes since in my head, anyways. I am assuming the likely reason for this email was that they already had several qualified candidates and my name was no longer in the running. I've gotta say, I am not quite used to it. I have had many opportunities in high school and in my college education to apply for things and to be quite honest, I usually have gotten them. I have never had a really disappointing moment when there was something that I really wanted and did not receive. I realize that may sound selfish and like I am whining but it is more factual. I did not get these positions because I was just handed them, I got them because I earned them. I worked my butt off to get where I am. And job searching with no experience in the field is stressing. me. out. So many of the positions recommend at least 1 year of experience, guess how much I have... 4 days. Of course I have had several other opportunities that qualify me for these positions but so often they look for a certain thing on a resume and if they do not see it right away? Well you are SOL (s*** outta luck). They toss yours aside and move on without even reading it. That's what is so hard about online applications. I would rather go to the hospital, pick up a resume, shake a few hands, offer a few smiles and hopefully make some sort of impression in their minds before they just toss it aside. But unfortunately, that's not how the system works today. I can only hope and pray that they take the time to read through my application and resume and understand that I will do a great job if they choose to hire me.

Never have I ever... Have you ever played that game? You are supposed to hold up all 10 fingers and go around in a circle saying things that you have never done. If you have done what that person said, you put a finger down. The first person without any fingers up, loses. Well, never have I ever been so scared. I keep thinking, "alright Kendra, you are qualified, you may lack experience but they will call, don't worry" and I continue to remind myself not to worry. I keep thinking of the verse Matthew 6:34, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." But truthfully? Not worrying is the hardest thing to do. You can't help it. And if you ask my family they will tell ya, I'm a worry wort. Not about silly things, but about the people that I truly and deeply care for especially. I never like to see them hurting or not getting something they wanted, etc. I worry for them and I always want to make it better. That's the thing, I care for people, truly. I only hope that the employees in Human Resources understand that and can make my worrying cease for at least a little while.

I received an email from my dad this morning, something short and sweet, "God has a plan". I have to remember that God has a plan for my life and even though things may not work out in the WAY  that I want, something will always come out of it. I know that for sure. And that gives me some relief. I have a mural hanging on my wall in my room that has been with me throughout college. It is a canvas that reads, "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your good and not for harm, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11). It always brings me comfort when the future seems so uncertain. I still worry, I am still nervous but I am reassured that life will go on no matter what. Until next time...

Grace & Peace,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh me oh my...

Happy 25th of January!! It's not really an important day exactly but I felt the need to celebrate it just because it is another day of living. That should be celebrated, right? I think so. Yesterday I got the opportunity to Skype with my brother and his wife in North Carolina. It just made me realize how much I miss those two terribly. The Skype date was literally us laughing the entire time about different things that have happened. I miss my confidant. Matt always has been a good listener even if he doesn't say anything, he let's me vent and I love him for it. Sometimes it is hard to connect with them and keep in touch as often as I like but I'm so thankful that I have been blessed with a brother and sister-in-law who are awesome beyond words.

I am officially enrolled in a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) training program in Allegan from January 30-March 30!! I have orientation on Friday and I am super excited and somewhat nervous. I know that this is going to be a great experience but I also know my time will be very limited. I go 8:30am-7:30pm everyday. I am excited to learn the trade, gain the experience, and meet lots of people in the healthcare field. When I went to take my pre-assessment in order to get into the program last week, our instructor informed us that for the last week of the class we have 8-hour clinicals everyday... I thought to myself, "this is not good, I a full time student!". But once again, God comes through and it turns out I am actually on Spring Break that week! Crazy, right?! Yeah, I thought so too. I was planning a trip to North Carolina for Spring Break so I was pretty disappointed that this will not happen until May but rest assured IT WILL HAPPEN. And hey, by May North Carolina will be hot and it will be beach season! That puts a HUGE smile on my face because I am ALL about beachin it. Needless to say, this semester will be a whirlwind but a necessary and memorable one. Now all I have to do is get my butt in gear with schoolwork and I'll be all set!... hopefully the motivation comes soon... I am definitely the type of person that is much more productive when I am busy so hopefully this CNA thing kicks me into high gear and I can get stuff done. Wish me luck!

Peace & Love,

A little inspirational quote I came across this morning on Pinterest...

"I'm not telling you it is going to be easy--I'm telling you it is going to be WORTH it."
~Art Williams

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bring it on 2012...

For those of you who know me, you'll know that 2011 was one of the most difficult years thus far. Despite the difficulties that came, I have so many things to celebrate that have brought me to where I am this year. I have the best friends anyone could ask for. Road trips to the beach, long chats on the deck on a summer night, hot tub excursions, random dance parties in the living room, getting primped for nights out, shopping dates, coffee dates, Verbeek fire drills, 5K's with my dad, driving my brother to the church on his wedding day, and so so so many other things have defined 2011. It's been a rough by great year and I honestly cannot wait to see what 2012 has in store. I'll be a senior in 2012, my niece is turning 5, my brother will be coming home, I'll be starting work in the medical field, and who knows what else! New years brings new opportunities, new beginnings, and new experiences. So, bring it on 2012...bring it on.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tis the Season...

Well folks, it's that time of year again. The time of cheer, laughter, family, friends, no school, hot-tubbing, sledding, and Christmas. The time of year when we bundle up with our snow gear, go skiing, get rosy cheeks, come down with colds, and sit by the fireplace, at least for those of us who live in Michigan. In my house, we usually set up the tree and hang the lights on the house right about now, we finish finding Christmas presents and begin wrapping or hiding them in the depths of our house. I unfortunately have not had the luxury of finishing my Christmas shopping due to classes, homework and exams but I did get home to see my house covered in lights. I live out in the country on a small 20 acre farm. My house is an old yellow farmhouse with a green roof and a big red barn behind it. As I drive up the road to my house, I see the house all lit up on top of the hill where my house sits. We always have white lights surrounding our roof line with green garland wrapping around our porch with big red bows. There is two reindeer in the front yard made of lights facing the road. I pull in the driveway to gaze at the beauty of this old farmhouse. Unfortunately we have not had much snowfall yet this year and there was not a speck of white to be seen yet but it was still so pretty. I walk up the front steps to my house across the flagstones embedded with grass in between dreaming of the looks of this place when it finally snows. I open the front door to the smell of gingerbread wafting in the air. I walk in and see my 4 year old niece dancing and singing "Up on the Housetop, reindeer paws...", she turns to face me and screams high pitch for about what seems like a minute straight. My sister, Dad and I begin laughing at the excitement on her face. She runs to me and asks, "Are you home for good?", these are the moments I live for, the reason I love this time of year; family. I miss so much of their school programs and growing up days while I am here studying my life away, but it is so good to know that when I come home the welcome back is the best feeling in the entire world.

Today in chapel, our chaplain presented a challenge to us for this Christmas and Advent season. Did you know that the United States spends $450 billion on Christmas gifts every year. That is a LOT of money. Did you know that it will only take $20 billion to solve the world's clean water problem? If everyone in the world bought ONE less gift this year we could solve world thirst. This is the time of year that is not only for our immediate families but it is a time to give to our global community as well. Watch this video. It changes lives, literally. As a poor college student, the past few years I have slowly gone back to homemade gifts for my family and friends like I used to make as a child. Homemade gifts mean more, inspire people to do the same, and show love more than any store bought gift could. I encourage each and every one of you to remember what is truly important in this holiday season, family. Our own families and our global family, coming together to celebrate a time of year that evokes joy in the hearts of so many, more than at any other time of year. Think about it. Change a life today.


Watch this video and inspire other hearts to do the same.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Turning the page...

            So this past weekend my brother got married!! He married a girl that he has been in love with since high school and I am so incredibly happy for the two of them. They are moving into a new chapter in life. They will be rigorously packing and getting ready to head south this weekend. I feel as though he just got home! I honestly wish that they could stay longer but as my mom says, "they are ready to start their life together, ya know?". And I do know, but a part of me is selfish and wants to keep him here. At the wedding, I knew that there was a small possibility I might tear up a little bit at the ceremony. I did not realize, however, that at the end of the "I do's" my brother would look over at me and smile and I would start crying like a freak! We have grown so close the last few years that we know each other's insides and outs. When he looked at me, I could just tell he was SO happy. And after the last few years that have been the hardest for our family, I was crying out of pure joy for him because he finally knows where he belongs and knows who he wants to spend the rest of his life with. I am blessed to have a brother as cool, as funny and as great as he is. The wedding was the first time in a long while that I have been able to hang out, goof around and dance with him. He adds so much joy to life and he has a smile that kills. When he smiled at me, it was like a giant bear hug telling me that it was alright. Even though I will miss him and Meg terribly when they move, I know that they are so happy and love each other so much and that they can make it work.
              I am so blessed to have a family like mine. They show me what love is. While embarrassing at times, when trying to set me up with boys, I know they mean the best. Weddings seem to always make you take a step back and look on your life and look at the people that you love. Some people have regrets, some don't. I don't have regrets. I was blessed to have been put into a family that is extremely close. We have arguments of course, but we always forgive and we always remember how much we love each other. I think that is part of the reason that I am so choosy with the boys in my life. I have a family that loved my brother's wife from the very beginning. That is just how they are. Wow, weird to say brother's wife. I have no doubts that whomever I marry one day will be loved by my family without a doubt.
            I love parties, celebrations, get-togethers whatever you want to call them. I love the sound of laughter, music, stories being told, toasts being made. I LOVE to dance and sing and play. I love to be myself and laugh and goof around without having a care in the world. That's how it was on Friday night. I love the men in my life and I am so happy that we could dance and laugh and carry on because we had a chance to forget about our lives, our worries, our futures, and school for a short while. Needless to say, I am blessed. I am blessed with a family like mine, and friends like mine.
            Turning a new page in our lives is always hard I feel like. It is hard to change and accept new situations and new places. But we learn to adapt. I have friends all over, at different schools, in different states, in different houses/dorms, but I always try to catch up on their lives. What do we have to look forward to in life, if we don't have friends to share it with? Wherever my friends and family may be, I always take time to think about them, pray for them, listen to them and catch up with them. So here's my advice for you, when turning the page in your life, embrace it. Know that it is something you have to do and know that something good will come out of it even if you have to push hard to make it through. Good luck to the stressed college students, to the ones going through physical training, to those being tested on subjects that determine their careers, to those looking for new jobs and new houses, to those moving to new places, to those becoming empty-nesters officially, to those filling out job applications, to those just trying to make it to the next day. Embrace the next page, the next chapter. And never forget to remember the ones that love you and keep you going.


“Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
― C.S. Lewis