can i get a what what for an update.

i'm sipping strong coffee at 9:00pm because that is my new life, a life in which my evenings are drowning in research papers and reading outlines. grad school, dear friends, is as hard as they say it is. and yet instead of being steadfast in my studies, i remembered that i miss this space, this corner of the world i call my own. so i'm here to update, if you're all still listening. we are three months into this sweet new season. some days jared and i feel like we just moved in, and other days we feel like we never left. which is funny because there was no "jared and i" the last time we lived in this city. i think that's one thing marriage does to you; it makes you re-imagine your entire world in a way that places your spouse in every memory and chapter of your story.

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jared is doing an amazing job over at JPL. i am epic proud of the way he wakes up early each day with energy and zest for learning. he'd never tell you himself, but he's received a lot of affirmation from people up top. beyond his work hours, he pours into his role as my partner here at apu. even when the fire alarm goes off at 3am, even when the boys next door decide that midnight is the best time to play dubstep at level 400, even when i have to leave in the middle of dinner to take a student to the hospital, or when i cry because i don't want to watch any more football (yes, this happened.), and even when he probably would rather sleep or be alone, he invests in what it means to be a reslife husband. i love him so much in those moments, and more than i ever thought i could. we are in such a fun chapter of life and i'm loving it. i am winning on so many levels. and he's encouraged us to sign up for a half-marathon which will be awesome and also my own personal hell. but an opportunity to achieve a goal with my bestest friend? sign me up please.

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my job is teaching me more and more about myself and my strengths and (mainly) my weaknesses. LOL at that one time i was like "i'm so bomb at this RD stuff!" there's still a lot to be learned. i am beyond blessed to be back in this building but OH MY GAHHH is it keeping me busy! there is so much pain and so many stories that need to be heard and with 400 students and only one me, i am a bit exhausted. but praise be to God for a living hope -- for trials that make us trust him, for grace that extends far beyond my inconsistencies. some days i feel confident in my ability to develop students and do this whole reslife thing, and other days i walk around doubting every move i make. i still feel shaky and confused some days, and there is always someone who seems to be doing a much better job than i am. and when i doubt my own ability or feel weighed down by insecurity, i receive sweet notes from students who make every ounce of this job worth it. i am blessed with a staff that keeps me laughing and reminds me to live enthusiastically. i don't know if i'm equipped to lead them in all the ways they need, but i know Jesus makes up the difference. i give my best, i care deeply, and i trust the process.

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there are people done with grad school and friends having babies and endless stories of promotions and it always beckons the question in my soul, "am i enough?"so i'm learning that to be present, you must not only accept your circumstances, but also your own effort. i am doing my best. 

you are doing your best. maybe you needed to hear that tonight just like me.

you can build a throne [on bayonets]

if you're getting married soon, and everyone has told you that "the first year is SO hard" and you sort of want to roll your eyes and throw things at them, this is for you. i can't count how many times someone told me to "buckle up, because marriage is a lot of work", but it was often. and i totally believed them  -- they were married, after all! it will be hard, they said. get ready for the hardest year of your life, they warned. so i suited up and went in as prepared as you could possibly be.

and then marriage was flippin' awesome.

so i kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and braced myself for the hard stuff to really happen. so a small fight about the forgotten grocery list turned into the OH CRAP HERE IT IS, THEY WARNED ME ABOUT THIS. but then it would be just a small fight. like we have sometimes. the kinds we forget about within an hour.

so here's what i've decided.

i'm no longer allowing anyone to speak anything over my marriage, and i'm not going to dictate to young brides what their experience will be like. we can do so much damage with a simple statement like "the first year is so hard." i know my resume is only 11 months of marriage deep, but i know the way fear works in the minds of young marrieds. it sucks.

marriage isn't hard. life is hard. there are seasons of life that are difficult, whether or not you have a spouse. so my advice? pick a good partner. learn how to be a good fighter and an even better forgiver.

and stop telling someone what their story will be like.

rant over. (for now.)

in the absence of martyrs [there's a presence of thieves.]

the last two weeks have a been a whirlwind of detailed training, deep bonding, shared meals, beautiful stories, and -- most of all -- my wildly unstable emotions. (shocking.) transitioning back into apu's world has been such an adventure so far, and i'd be a fool to consider myself anything other than richly  blessed and completely content. i spend my nights in the exact apartment i was in when i first learned the beauty of raw community, and the power of owning your story. who's life is this? so of course, the nostalgia has stirred up so many thoughts about memory this week, and how inconveniently selective mine is. i've always said i don't retain information well, but i think i do. i still hold onto some pretty potent memories that i'm not particularly fond of, memories that i wish would just go away. walking this campus again reminds me of who i was when i was 18, 19, 20, 21, 22...all the awesome experiences i had and all the great people i knew. but my memory keeps focusing in on all of the bad decisions i made, and all the hard places i was in during those years...all the opportunities i had to do good and to make a significant impact, that i just wasted. and i just keep thinking, gosh who am i to be in this position where i lead students who are in their most vulnerable state? who on earth thinks i deserve the opportunity to mentor and hold accountable these fragile humans, these people who are yearning for wisdom and good influence? and my memory keeps reminding me that i am not worthy of this opportunity. at all. and that just keeps playing over and over in my head: you aren't worthy. you aren't worthy. you aren't worthy.

and here's the thing: i'm not worthy. and i think that's the point.

i've made every mistake you can make, and i know far too well the way the mind of an apu-er works. i've done it all, seen it all, talked about it all. i've lied and hidden and been so broken i didn't know which way was up. and now i've been entrusted with hundreds of students as they traverse through arguably the most difficult time in their lives, armed only with my story and the strength to move forward. and that, to me, is the point of the gospel. 

i didn't save me.

i'll never be able to save me.

and i most certainly to not deserve to be in a position of leadership, mentorship, or authority.

but do any of us deserve that, really? do you?

i am not envious of the story that is perfect from start to finish. i never wish i had done it all right. i've never regretted the fact that it takes me a little bit longer to learn things sometimes because my goodness do i learn it well. i would so much rather have a story that cannot be told without the grace of God, and not the one where i truly deserve to be in the position i'm in based on my perfection. i don't want that gospel. that gospel sucks.

i want the kind of Jesus who uses people in the midst of all the shit they've gotten themselves into. i want to drown by way of grace, and be flooded with a Jesus who doesn't let you stay where you were. he made me very good, and he hasn't given up on me yet. he is what makes me worthy of this career. and that's the kind of Jesus i want.

how the lincolns got to LA [according to my instagrams.]

we picked up our huge moving truck and i had a minor heart attack. we were on the road with high spirits and plenty of cheez-its, as you can see.

 

jared was in full #beastmode as we journeyed north to CO. gordon did fine, kind of.

i almost got a decent picture of the colorado sign! i never claimed to be a photog, people.

 

to my delightful surprise, my bestie Betsy was in town as well! this was a much needed reunion.

 

and we enjoyed a girls night with the lovely bride-to-be, miss Ali. seriously, how did i get so lucky?!

 

meanwhile, jared...

 

we enjoyed a CO Rockies game with the family! they crushed the Giants, and i talked baseball to a perfect stranger. it was a good night.

 

Jared and i got to visit the Blue Moon Brewery, located right on Coors Field! such good beer, and such a wonderful sight to see.

 

our truck started to billow smoke somewhere outside of needles, ca. also known as the armpit of america.

 

to my right, there was nothing.

 

to my left, a sad jared. :(

 

just when i thought our moving truck was the largest thing i'd ever seen, i saw the even bigger production that was our moving truck + tow truck. "big blue" as it was affectionately called.

 

with only one major setback, we finally arrived to APU right at sunset. it was surreal to walk into trinity, and thousands of memories came flooding back.

 

what a sweet welcome into our new home, from sweet friends who we are lucky to get to do life with again.

 

so there you have it, people. we are very slowly setting up our new space, and we are already beginning to feel at home here. we've purchased some pretty sweet furniture pieces from craigslist, God bless it. once i figure out the feng shui, i'll be sure to post pictures.

i am humbled to be back here, and overjoyed to be able to fall into a blanket of amazing community. our friends have already taken such good care of us ; i am thrilled at what is to come. azusa is most definitely where we belong for this season; it's such a good feeling to know that.

i hope you all enjoy 'murica day tomorrow! <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in which i am more vulnerable than [maybe] you prefer.

i stopped forcing myself to think of thirty things i will miss about texas. i've thought about it every day; it really hasn't been lost because i forgot or was lazy. truthfully, i ran out of "things" and could only think of people. i'll miss people the most. you know who you are, you dallas-dwellers who have made my stay here so unbelievably pleasant. i will miss you. and on the eve of my last day at work, i can't help but sit around and think of that sweet quote from winnie the pooh: "how lucky am i to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

{so let me interrupt your regularly scheduled program to use this space to shed some weight during a very heavy week.}

~~~

i go through seasons where i forget who i really am. i forget what it is i stand for, what it is that gives life, where it is i find hope. and i just want to take my face off so i can slap it. i wish, so desperately, that i would just listen for once. CAN I GET AN AMEN.

~~~

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i've been dealing with some fear this week. fear of what lies ahead for me, for jared, with jobs and money and friendships and traveling and details. fear that i've been given a gift i do not deserve, and fear that it won't take long before everyone else realizes that, too. fear that i wasted some of my time, that i wandered from all the hopes i had when i moved here just three short years ago. i fear the people that follow me will make people say 'rachel who?' because they're going to do so much better than i ever did. i fear inadequacy will be my legacy. i've been replaying scenes over and over in my mind this week. moments i'll miss, moments i awkwardly made it through, moments i hope to repeat, moments i hope i forget. and of course, that's life, isn't it? tons of moments stacked on top of each other, where we did the best we can with what we had to work with at the time. and i just have to keep repeating that truth to myself; i am doing the best i can, with what i have to work with. 

i have also been dealing with a great deal of insecurity this week for a long while. the scorching heat of Not Good Enough has been burning behind my cheeks for so long, i just want to melt down and start over. and like i always do, i tried to hide that. from my husband, from my closest friends, and even from myself. and that plan works almost never. so of course it comes bubbling out of me in really not adorable ways: long text messages, late night car rides, et al. but it comes out. and i dance around in freedom, wondering why i'd ever convince myself of anything else. but forgiving myself is always the hardest part of the equation; i'd keep myself on the chopping block all day if i could. it's hard to feel forgiven, especially in the midst of insecurity.

i want to be better at practicing what i preach, but i do believe that has to start with recognition of where i am. i'll never be someone who pretends to be perfect; that's much too crazy for me. i've messed up a lot lately, but i want to learn to be more selfless, more loving, more gentle and kind. as i close this chapter and move toward the next, i just have to keep reminding myself: i did the best i could with what i had to work with at the time. and i'm forgiven, which means i have to forgive myself as well.

so i'm just going to keep working on all of this, and i'll continue to keep you posted along the way. but let the record show that i love vulnerability more than anything, and i think being honest and open about the gross in our lives is the only way we'll ever see it become good -- by God's grace i hope we see it all become good.

~~~

[epilogue] if you haven't heard the amy grant song 'come on out', you should go listen to it right. this. minute. if you haven't heard of amy grant, i really feel bad for you. she taught me how to harmonize, how to play guitar, how to own mistakes and sing about them. and how to have awesome wavy hair.

but I will be a witness  that there's nothing in me dark enough  the power of forgiveness  cannot resuce from the deep

i'm feelin' 22

30 days of texas  

~~~

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this is one of those "uh, really?" kinds of things i'll miss, but it's funny how you kind of begin to like the odd parts of this job. i live in a building that's almost 50 years old. and it is quite obvious that 50 years ago, architects had no clue how loud 18 year olds would be. but here we are in 2013 and these people are loud. loud and unashamed, let me tell you. i have heard more than i ever wanted to; i guess the "hall director apartment" signs outside my door really don't phase them, because they talk about all their OMG-weekend-moments that could really get them in trouble. i always know when the parties are, and which students have the "goods" (if you will), and who is definitely not talking to whom anymore. i hear new versions of cuss words, and i almost want to thank them for keeping me in the loop. it's sort of weird that i enjoy listening to all of this drama, but i really do. it's like listening to a soap opera play out every day. i'll miss the charm of this old building, and how it's allowed me to remember to laugh at young independence as i go about my day.

t w e n t y

30 days of texas

~~~

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i love unique things that aren't a part of big corporate america, and denton is definitely full of them! there is so much history in this city and a fun way to discover it is to explore all the streets that are filled with little mom n pop stores. whenever we have people come visit denton, we always try to take them somewhere local -- what's hard is actually choosing because there are so many! obviously we have a lot of favorites, but i really do just love the overall feel of small businesses here. it's a pretty large city but it always feels smalltown-ish when you walk in and out of the one-of-a-kind shops. and you can tell people work hard to keep their businesses running; t feels so industrial and historic and...texan. haha. i feel like people have always worked this way in denton, and that the city was built on a bedrock of  people who love serving their local community through small businesses. i feel like i'm giving back when i shop locally, which makes me feel like a good american. :: salute :: clearly dentonians are faithful to their small business atmosphere, because people pitched a fit when the city put a subway sandwich shop on the square, in a historic building. watch the political drama unfold here.

[day nineteen.]

30 days of texas

~~~

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Denton is such a dog-friendly city and we have appreciated that so much -- "we" includes our sweet pup, Gordon. Gordon was definitely an impulse adoption, but that's the best way to live life, right?! he was crazy from the start, and he grew to be a dog who loooooooves the dog park. like, whines-the-whole-drive-there kind of love. it's really big and nice, and every time we go there are a ton of other dogs there for him to hump play with. and besides the fact that it's a really big dog park, IT'S CALLED WIGGLY FIELD. have you ever heard of a more perfect name for a dog park? nope, i didn't think so. we will miss our weekly trips to this awesome place, and i'm sure Gordon will miss all of his friends.

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day 18.

30 days of texas  

~~~

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no, not the fondue restaurant. we've been abundantly blessed to serve in a sweet community in dallas where thousands of refugees are living and working and making new lives for themselves. the melting pot is a wonderful program that seeks to equip and establish these people into life in america. it has been the stuff of dreams for jared to work in this ministry, and we've been able to have some pretty amazing experiences because of it. we've had dinner with a family from Nepal in their apartment -- where they served us before eating anything themselves. we've been to the birthday party of a Congolese man's son, and let me tell you: nobody parties like the Congolese party. it's been a joy to watch Jared impact the lives of so many people, and to serve alongside him as he directed this program. last night the melting pot threw a goodbye party for us, which was so touching. this community is special to us; we've learned so much about what life is like in other countries, and what life is like for them once transplanted to america. their stories give me courage and perspective in my own life, and i'm so grateful for the hospitality, strength, and joy they have shown us.

shameless plug: if you're in the Dallas area and are ever interested in volunteering with the best people on the planet, visit their website. it's worth it if you can carve out the time in your saturday!

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refugee

our "california cake" from the party last night.

seventeeeeen.

30 days of texas  

~~~

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we went to Rooster's last weekend with some friends and i was reminded just how lucky we are to have such amazing BBQ in this state. i mean like, slow-cooked-all-day-with-extra-sauce amazing BBQ. i'm not much of a red meat eater, but when i do -- please believe i indulge myself a bit. and old fashioned southern BBQ is a nice way to spoil yourself. i really like chopped brisket -- a meat cut i've always known as tri-tip, bee tee dubs -- because it's so tender and juicy on the inside, while being smokey and crispy on the outside. it's the kind of taste that sticks with you for awhile. i regret not learning how to cook good BBQ while living here, but i'm sure i can google some paula deen tutorials and we'll feel like we're right back here, eating some finger-licking worthy BBQ.

                    i mean just look at this goodness:

tender. juicy. smokey. perfect.

15 + 16 [whoops]

30 days of texas  

~~~

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this one counts for two because i love it so much. (ok, actually because i forgot yesterday. sorry.) but i really do love thursday mornings for one simple reason: staff meetings! i've always been weird and love things like staff meetings and training and mandatory fun. i just think it's so great to gather together as a group and check in. i love the consistency of it, i love being updated on what's going on or what i need to do. i love the endless opportunities for quick jokes from my hilarious staff members. well and let's be real; from me too. they're usually fun, thursday morning staff meetings. strange as it may be to enjoy a meeting, it's just one of those things i love, that i know i'll miss a lot. i love the people i work with; i think they all have great ideas and bring a lot to the table. it's so life-giving to work alongside people who genuinely care about students like they do. they make me laugh and they are so helpful and insightful and they teach me so much. thursday mornings won't quite feel the same from now on. maybe i can skype in every once in awhile?

day fourteen.

30 days of texas  

~~~

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watch out, my feminist flags are going up!! but this one has delightfully surprised me while living here! (even though i know it's rooted in patriarchy.) in los angeles, you're lucky if you don't get slapped in the face with a door, let alone it being held open for you. so it's been nice to experience some of that 'southern charm' i've heard so much about. chivalry is not yet dead, my friends; it is alive and well in the state of texas. perfectly decent strangers will stop in their tracks to make sure they hold the door open for me. people even go to really awkward limits to open doors for me, and it kind of cracks me up (while still completely flatters me.) kind of like the "yes ma'am" thing; at first i was all "i can do that myself, thank you very much" about it, but now i'm kind of enjoying it. even though i can still do it myself. :)

three-teen.

30 days of texas  

~~~

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i know, i know. but i'm dead serious. my entire life i've lived in places where i have to constantly do math to know what time tv shows are on. (and we all know how awesome i am at math.) i can't tell you how often i've turned on an awards show an hour into it, simply because i forgot the time difference. and yes this may sound a bit like a "user error" kind of problem, but i just like when life makes things easier for me. SO SUE ME. there's just something so official about it! central. standard. time. like, i'm all up in this importantness. i'm central, everyone. i feel like i could win arguments with it; oh really? well i'm central standard. so go kick rocks.

i also have family and several friends all over the country, and we use skype to glue us together -- being in central time zone has made this easier for me. and i really do love seeing something advertised to be on tv at "8/7 central." i'm like, oh yeah, that's me. be jealous, everyone else. 

[day 12]

30 days of texas  

~~~

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there are so many reasons why i'll miss the square, i can't even begin. i went to the square my first weekend in town and fell in love immediately. having never lived in a small town before, i was so fascinated by the quaintness of it all. one-of-a-kind shops and wine bars where everyone seemed to know each other. i've been lucky to spend a lot of memorable moments at the square; when we have guests over, it's our go-to spot to hang out and eat beth marie's ice cream or grab a beer from abbey inn. i love the twinkly lights around the courthouse, and the big christmas tree they put up in the winter. in november there's a wassel festival where literally everyone in denton comes out for wassel samples and live music and tons of fun. i spent many hours at jupiter house as i processed this new place, and learned all about who i was becoming in it. the square is so perfect in its simplicity and i will miss being able to spend time there. most notably, however, is that last spring on a normal sunday afternoon, jared asked me to marry him -- and that's why the square is the most special place to me. i love walking under the same tree where i screamed and cried as he pulled out the shiny thing, and i'll miss being able to show friends that sweet spot. i love the square and all that it represents; i wish i could take it with us.

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one one. (see what i did there?)

30 days of texas  

~~~

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dangit, food again? oh well. okay so when i first moved here, i had no idea what tex-mex meant. isn't that funny? i just figured it was what texans called mexican food, because texans have to make everything texan. but upon my first few bites at el guapos, i knew there was something different about it. i came from the land of the best tacos, so i consider myself a mexican food connoisseur of sorts. this has made my experience with tex-mex very interesting, because i didn't hate it like i thought i would. i actually really love it! but the mystery has haunted me my entire time here. what is it that makes this mex so tex? what sets it apart from the hole-in-a-wall-is-this-legal mexican food i was so accustomed to? so my conclusion is this: tex-mex is mexican food with extra cheese and grease, aka extra goodness. and i am not complaining about it, obvi. cheese is my love language, and i will miss its extra presence in my life. so for the next three-ish weeks, i'm filling up. chuy's happy hour with a free nacho bar? see you there. fuzzy's enhiladas with extra rice? twist my arm.

and-a-ten.

30 days of texas  

~~~

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another post about alcohol? yes please. this beer has cooled off the past couple of summers for me. shiner ruby redbird is the kind of beer you always want in the house. the sweet combination of ginger and grapefruit is like a party for my tastebuds. it goes perfectly with a crisp salad, while also pairing nicely with your best bbq. it's cheap, it's refreshing, it's light, and it's good enough to make you forget that it's actually triple-digits-hot outside. in fact, it's so good that it makes me hate it because it's only available seasonally, which is just plain torture. i need this citrus-y goodness year round!

i hate how alcoholic i sound, haha. please don't judge me. just look at how beautiful it is:

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number nine.

30 days of texas  

~~~

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this is probably only a big deal for people who get lost almost every time they drive, a people group of which i am queen, but nonetheless, these are great great great. when you exit the freeway here, you have options. you can shoot over to the right in order to make a right handed turn; you can stick it out in the center to go straight and continue on the "frontage road" (another absurd term around here); you can get the lane to your left to turn left at the light; OR (!!!) you can get in the far left lane to make a u-turn -- ONLY A U-TURN. so if you're lost and you realize that you're supposed to be going the other direction, say goodbye to waiting for the light to change. just roll on through, sister, because you've got yourself a u-turn only lane, where all of the turning-around-only people are making u-turns all day long. it's amazing! i was obviously very confused initially because it felt a little like a roller coaster or something, or like i wasn't allowed to be there. but i'm an expert on them now, and i will miss them. they do not exist in california; probably because then there'd be less traffic. and what's LA without traffic, AMIRIGHT.

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day eight.

30 days of texas  

~~~

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i've always loved the rain because i love hoodies and soup and any excuse to throw my hair up, but i've loved it especially more living here. i'm not sure if it's because of the humidity or something, but the rain here is awesome. i always think of that scene in forrest gump where he describes every kind of rain, and he calls it 'big old fat rain' -- that's exactly what it's like here! huge drops, large amounts, awesome sound. the thick air keeps the smell of rain around a little longer, which is of course everyone's favorite smell. and of course the cool breeze before a storm brings quite the sweet reprieve from the never-ending-hotness that is texas. the rain does come quite suddenly though, which i can appreciate when i'm not parked many blocks away (causing me to run home with a trash bag over me. the struggle is REAL.). i will miss hearing the rain outside my window while i sleep, and not even because it drowns out the...other sounds i hear while living in a freshman dorm. i'll miss the way the humidity fades, even if just for a moment, before the buckets of rain fall out of the sky. i'll miss the abundance of green landscape that comes with every downpour. i'll miss the opportunity to quote forrest gump.

[it's important to remind you all that while i do love the rain, i dread the extras that come with a rainstorm here -- tornado warnings, severe thunderstorms, hail damage, the UNBELIEVABLE swamp air the following day, the inevitable cockroaches that seek refuge in my dry apartment, etc. but, i digress. rain rain rain.]

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seven.

30 days of texas~~~

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i know this is obvious, but i don't talk about it enough. i had never heard of UNT before i applied for this job; i had no idea that this hidden gem existed in the world. a lot of you know my story and how i truly have no clue how i ended up here except by God's grace and some good fortune. but this has been an amazing school to work for at the start of my professional career because of how much i've learned about college students, higher education, and myself. UNT is truly a school that cares about its students; every department shows that down to the detail. it's been so inspiring, especially because UNT is a massive institution (at least compared to the tiny community i came from!). on a smaller scale, i know i work within a department that cares about students like you'd never believe. it has sharpened the way i view my own theory on student development, and my supervisors have really shown me what true servant leadership is. they taught me how to go the extra step, how to say yes whenever possible, and how to show grace. it means so much to me that they took a chance on hiring a crazy girl from california after just a skype interview, and i hope i've given back enough to truly express my gratitude. i know i'll take a piece of UNT with me as i return to APU, and i feel so lucky to have been taught by such outstanding professionals. what a gift this school is.

i ran to the top of our parking garage tonight, right at dusk. the view allowed me to see all of UNT's campus, and to all the corners of denton and as i caught my breath (because, hello seven flights of stairs), i felt truly overwhelmed with both gratitude and sadness. as excited as i am for my next chapter, i'm really sad to leave this place. but i suppose i'm rather lucky to have such affections toward my job -- i wish that for all of you as well.

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