When I graduated college in May of 2013, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I did know that I did not want to do much related to the degree that I graduated with. Growing up in the same home in the same town and going to college within a short distance from home gave me the itch to go somewhere new and see something different. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. Although I had this itch, and even though I applied for a few AmeriCorps programs in Oregon, North Carolina, and Maryland, I never actually thought that I would go. I did not think that I was strong enough to take on such an adventure. I entertained the thoughts in the back of my head but felt protected in my bubble. In my comfort zone.
I chose to search out the AmeriCorps options as I have always enjoyed the experience of volunteering. My heart has always been for children and having the opportunity to give my time for a year to volunteer at a non-profit organization that supported and encouraged them sounded like a great way to spend a year.
When my summer was coming to a close and I was still at a loss for what my upcoming year would hold, I received a series of phone calls concerning potential positions– two of which lead me nowhere, while the other call left me surprised as I was almost sure that I never finished filling out the application.
I had 3 days from the phone call to decide whether or not to go to Oregon two weeks later. While re-organizing some boxes from college I discovered the book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. I had purchased the book after team devotionals at the beginning of my last year in college but never got around to reading it. This was the perfect time to read it. Reading this book was one of those times when you feel that God is speaking directly to you. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. For me, it gave me a HUGE encouraging push to get out of the boat, out of the comfortable.
The only thing that would stop me from leaving home was fear. And it was because of this fear that I ultimately left. I would not let fear steal my dreams. I knew that God had a plan and would not bring me across the country for nothing.
With great struggle comes growth.
When fear is present, your dreams are dead.
While courage is needed to make the choice,
You know deep down where it is that you are called to go.
For when the Lord calls on you, you will know.
You will feel as though you have no choice but to obey,
To listen to the Lord.
It is a feeling.
A feeling that once you have, you know.
For true faith does not always seem clear in your head.
But when God tugs on your heart you will know.
And you will know exactly where it is that you are to be.
When I arrived in Oregon and was reunited with my car that had kindly been driven across the country for me, I found a CD in the CD player that had been forgotten. The CD was The Shelter, by Jars of Clay. I played this CD from Newberg, Oregon to my new home in Roseburg. The CD remained in my player for the next 3 months straight and I listened to it practically every time I got in the car. It soon became what I have termed my Oregon Soundtrack. During my time here, it has given me much encouragement as the words always seem to speak at the right time. As I’ve said before, thank you for forgetting.
Pulling into Roseburg on that first day, I still remember thinking that I was not strong enough to make it through the year. While I knew that I was where I was suppose to be for this time of my life, my mind was still preventing me from fully trusting in God. Pulling into town that first day, these were the words that I heard on the CD. They have stuck with me ever since.
Set us free
Trust the mystery
Until our eyes are clear enough to see you
Where you lead us
We will follow
Where you lead us
We will follow
Open up our hearts and reach inside
Open up our hearts and reach inside (We Will Follow, Jars of Clay)
No journey is easy. Every journey has its ups and downs. It has times of success and times of struggle. It is in those times of struggle and change that you truly find yourself. Those times that you step out of the comfortable and into the unknown. You find out what you believe, what you stand for, and what you are living for.
I knew from the start of my journey that I wanted to put this year aside to think about my life and think about the direction in which I wanted to take it and I could not be happier with what all God has shown me or lead me to discover. From the start of my journey I was shown true genuine love as I was taken in by the most loving family when I had nowhere to live. They did not know me; they did not ask questions. It was not an option to them– I did not have a home and they were going to take care of me for however long it took. I was fed, invited to family functions, and I felt like I was apart of the family. I am very grateful for the time that I spent with them and have been blessed by this genuine care and love that they have shown me.
AmeriCorps in Roseburg was the best decision that I could have made for this year. I have finally gotten out of the comfortable. I have learned to speak my mind and express what I believe is true. I have discovered why it is so important to be honest with yourself and to speak how you feel. I have discovered a confidence in the words I speak. I have learned that each person is a product of their environment and past experiences. I have learned that each person has their own story and that each person deserves your undivided attention. I have found peace in frequent journaling and relaxation in alone time. I have discovered a new appreciation for the sun and the light that it brings to the Earth.
I have personally experienced the fullfillness that a card of appreciation or thanks can bring. I have pondered my impact in this town but have been constantly reminded of the impact that this town has made on me. I witnessed how a simple compliment can make a day and how simply showing an interest in someone can turn their day around. I have seen love all around- from many, many hugs and excitement from the sound of your name, to seeing friend’s interactions with fiancés, to a hug from a stranger at church when you find yourself crying tears of confusion and sadness. Most of all I have been reminded that your life and your time on Earth is a precious gift. I have learned that in order to truly live, your body and your mind must be in the same place.
My journey is not yet over. I still have a few months until the end of my journey as an AmeriCorps member in Roseburg, Oregon. The end of this year’s journey will only mark the start of my next journey to come and the next boat for me to step out of.
I have learned this year that I am stronger than I think.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”- 2 Corinthians 12:9
Do not let fear steal your dreams.