Thursday, May 23, 2013

Big Questions, Big Decisions

Yesterday morning, I was laughing about how hard it was going to be to do work with only a few days between me, vacation, and a trip back to Oklahoma.  I'm sure everyone will be thinking I skipped out early when I called in sick today.  I am, sadly, legitimately sick.  Playing hooky would have been a good idea, but I couldn't be that lucky.  I am incapable of doing nothing with a day off, though, so I thought blogging would be a great idea. (Don't worry, I'm not here to complain about my ailments.)

Our summer program starts next week, and I'm sure it's going to get very hectic, but I'm going to be more diligent with my communication via blog and newsletter.  I think the more pressure and less time I have to do things, though, the more I will get done.  It seems to be a trend that when I only have one thing to do, I can procrastinate for hours, but when I have a million things, they all somehow get completed.

I've been thinking a lot about my future lately.  Not my immediate future, but the big questions, like where am I going to grad school?, what kind of facility do I want to work at?, what things am I willing/unwilling to sacrifice?.  Okay, so maybe they're not super huge questions, but they are pretty big.

For all who are interested, these are some insights I've gained into my future, since I got to Murphy-Harpst.  You may not know that the US-2 program is also supposed to include some vocational discernment, which I have been doing.

I've never felt comfortable in a hospital setting, so I always thought that I wanted to work with outpatient services.  I've now realized that there are a lot of options in the middle, and that's where I want to be.  I think a lot can be done when you have access to everyone with whom the child comes into contact, and you can make a bigger influence than your one-hour session allows.  So I want to work at some residential facility for kids, check.

I have been searching through universities offering PsyD programs, because I know that I want to do clinical psychology, and I want practical, hands-on experience.  I'm sure some PhD programs offer that, but it's core to the PsyD program, so that's the direction I'm seeking.  When I first started searching, I looked at the "Top PsyD Programs" list, but then I realized that maybe I didn't need the top program; maybe I just need the program that is right for me.  I want to be close to some form of home, so the Southwest and Southeast would be ideal.  My searches placed these programs at the top of my list: Baylor, Denver, Regent, and NOVA Southeastern.  They all have their pro's and con's.

Pro: Between home (OK) and my sister (Texas A&M), Div 1 school (campus life)
Con: Extremely conservative, Extremely difficult to get in (Accept 7 per year)

Pro: Beautiful location between home (OK) and aunt and cousins (Loveland/Fort Collins), Methodist theology school with certificate options
Con: Snow, cold for 6 months, higher cost of living

Pro: Virginia Beach (semi-close to friends in Durham), lower tuition costs
Con: Not as highly ranked academically, higher cost of living

NOVA Southeastern: Fort Lauderdale (beautiful weather and plenty of fun things to do)
Con: Not as highly ranked academically, higher cost of living, not close to many friends or family

So I started looking for facilities like Murphy-Harpst and realized there are three within 20 miles of the University of Denver, so it's definitely in the lead right now.  I'm a little stressed about the whole application process that I have to start this summer, but I'm looking forward to the great options I have for my future.  Thank you to everyone who's been helping with my discernment...

My big decisions are small compared to those in Oklahoma who are now asking where they'll live since their homes have been destroyed, where they'll work since their businesses were destroyed, and where to start rebuilding.  My prayers go out to all of them.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Love and Let Go(d)

So I finished my first newsletter and although I tried to highlight some important moments from the past 8 months, I realized that I should be blogging a LOT more, because I have a lot to write about.  I'm posting the newsletter below for those who want to take a peek, but here are the most recent developments.

School is almost out, and I'm preparing for a trip home to visit family, attend a friend's wedding and my class reunion and annual conference, and speak at a few churches.  Things are a little hectic to say the least.  The story I want to share is about what I consider my first loss (Don't worry; it's a good loss).

There was a young woman here that I formed a very sincere connection with in my first 6 months on the job.  I don't know if it was our similar interests, our mutual respect for each other, or God's plan for us to help each other, but she was special.  She had energy, a smile that lit up the room, and a heart of gold.  Keep in mind, she had some issues to deal with, but we all do.  One not so great day, I was telling a co-worker how much I was hurting from learning about losses of two family members at home, and she suggested that I go find this girl and hang out.  I always think of myself as the giver, not the receiver, but I realized that I needed my share of help, too.  I followed her advice, and it did make my afternoon better.

She completed her time at Murphy-Harpst a couple of months ago, and I struggled a LOT seeing her go.  I was worried about how her family would deal with her tantrums, could they forgive things in her past, and would they help her become the brilliant woman that I envisioned for her future?  I received phone calls in the first week she was gone about how much she didn't like it there and didn't like her family.  I knew she was struggling with the transition, but I prayed that it was only the transition that was hard.  A few weeks later, I had a message from her cheerful voice announcing that she had made the high school track team.  She was so excited, but sorry she hadn't called earlier.  she said she'd been so busy!  I was overcome with joy that she had found her new place.  She had settled in, and it was time for her life to continue.

I haven't heard much in the last month, which I'm taking as no news is good news.  I didn't know how I was going to move on, and I don't think she ever realized that some days I needed her as much as she needed me.  I have to trust that God will take care of her now.  There are more kids coming in, and of course, I have some special bonds with a few, but she'll always be the first - the one who taught me how to love and let Go(d).

May Newsletter

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Own Worst Enemy

Last week, a former resident of Murphy-Harpst came to speak to our older girls.  She's an author now and was a nurse for 30 years.  Before meeting with the girls, I had lunch with her and her husband and we were discussing the importance of writing your story.  She asked me if I was familiar with blogs and told me how much she enjoyed blogging about things.  I agreed, although I've found it a little difficult in the past month or so.  I always have things to say, and just to share about what happens in bible study each week would give me plenty of material.  I realized, though, that I share a lot of other people's stories, but I'm not always willing to share my own, especially when it's not fine and dandy.

So, honestly, it hasn't been fine and dandy recently.  The kids are doing well, my job is fine, my family and friends are wonderful, but I've not been all fine and dandy.

I realized on Monday that the only person who was keeping me from joy and fulfillment was myself.  It sounds silly and maybe a little crazy, but let me explain.  I was giving other people the right to determine my attitude, my emotions, and my joy.  And they weren't even making me feel bad.  I always tell the kids that it doesn't matter what someone does or says to you, but it does matter how you react.


I was waking up, determined to just make it through the day, not expecting to have a good day, not trying to be patient and find joy, and looking for a reason to feel sorry for myself.  Let me tell you; if you look hard enough for the negative, you WILL find it.  It's there; nothing is perfect.  I became really focused on what was lacking in my life, instead of being filled with joy of the wonderful things that are present in my life.

This metaphor could be used in so many ways.
1.  It's hard to see the good when you're looking for the bad.
2.  It's hard to see God when you're looking for evil.
3.  It's hard to see what you have when you're searching for what you're missing.

I've gotten stuck on quotes and decided to turn my office door into a wall of quotes.  I thought that the kids and ME could benefit from being reminded of some of these little lessons.  One that I remember and seems relevant to my current revelation is this: "It is better to want what you have than to have what you want."

I've started looking at the things I have and learning to value them (or want them).  In bible study, we talked about how our perspective of what's important shifts when we become children of God.  When you start to look at heaven, it makes earthly things look less valuable.  When you have God's acceptance, you stop letting people's acceptance rule your life.

Maybe that's why money can't make you happy.  When you finally have enough money to buy anything in the world, those expensive things lose value.  It's cliche to say we want what we can't have, but the reality is that when you realize what God has given you, there's nothing greater to want.

I am my own worst enemy.  Life is good everyday, because no one else controls me.  I have the ability to experience great joy 365 days a year, because I know Jesus Christ.