Sunday, May 31

finger taping!

This week, I learned how to properly tape my fingers when I make wire covers. This may not seem like the biggest of accomplishments, but let me tell you, work is exhausting and if you don't get those fingers taped right, work gets worse and worse every day.
Also, I spent 11 hours in four days making wire covers, so learning how to tape for them was kind of really important. Fingers crossed, I think I've been promoted to bigger and better machines so I'm not spending half of my time on the dreaded *snap*shove*snap*press*repeat* deal. Some of the people love doing it {why is beyond me} and I am 100% okay with letting others do the 'easy machine.' Secretly, I swear that machine is out to destroy all of my fine motor ability in my hands.

So yeah, I'm not in love with the work I'm doing, but as I remind myself {and am also very frequently reminded}, it's good motivation to remind me that I am pursuing a very different career for a reason...because full time assembly work is not for me other than in small doses to pay tuition.

Also featured in this photo: my glorious lunch view.
No, no sarcasm.
I am very much an introvert and, at least for right now, 25 minutes in my [OK, in dad's] car looking at trees is what my heart needs to go back to another 3.5 hours of standing and menial labor. E1400 isn't terribly loud, but it's hectic. It's busy. There's always 27 things going on and the alarms go off for help at least every half hour {and let me tell you, they're worse than any fire or other drill alarm I have ever heard}. So I covet that time by myself.
Maybe by the end of the summer I'll enjoy the air-conditioned lunch room with any number of my 40+ bay coworkers. But maybe not. I prefer trees.

Sunday, May 24

adventures with brubru

This week was spent with BruBru (aka Brutus, aka slobber ball, aka puppy, aka goofball, aka BRUUUUTUS SO HELP ME DOG) the 140+ lb mastiff puppy. I lived out in Borculo with him and his two feline siblings Trout and Rodeo. It was all-in-all a pretty good experience with a healthy measure of exhaustion mixed in.
I'm very much an introvert by nature, so it was so nice for me to be able to just get (1) out of Zeeland and (2) away from people for awhile. I ended up driving back in to town almost every day for some errand or another, but I really cherished my hours of sunshine and snuggles and waking up to make coffee in the Keurig every morning (like seriously, those things are amazing and I'm not 100% sure how I do college without them..oh whale).

So yes, a rather sunburnt but very content Julia is now re-emerging into the world of human interaction and wifi.

Sunday, May 17

A great day to be an east alum!

Okay guys, this week's photo of the week is just me bragging about how cool my baby sister is, ok? Ok.

Now that we've got that out of the way,
my baby sister and her team took FIRST at the regional track meet yesterday, along with a LANDSLIDE VICTORY by the guys!
My kiddo has worked harder and trained crazier than anyone I know. Watching her run makes my heart so happy because I can tell how much she loves it {even though her hurdle face looks like a bit of an axe murderer's} and watching her cruise through qualifying and semi-finals to be ranked the 6th fastest hurdler in the region (15 schools) for her senior season was a pretty great experience.

Yeah, sometimes I run for fun and it's usually a couple miles at a pretty slow pace. These girls, they blow it out of the water and they totally wreck my brain.
Watching them compete just warms my heart, and watching them do well makes me lose my voice. Obviously. Because what kind of big sister would I be if I wasn't the one screaming at the top of my lungs from the bleachers?!

I made the decision to spend this summer back at home again, and it's things like this that make me glad I did. The kiddo will start college in the fall, and I {albeit maybe selfishly...she's pretty cool, ya know?} want all the time I can get with her before she ditches me for bigger, better, and faster things.

Wednesday, May 13

the adventure that has been Beta 3.

Alright guys, time for sentimentality.
I leave this beautiful place tomorrow afternoon, and in the wise words of A. A. Milne,

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying 'goodbye' so hard.

We slept in a tent. It froze that night.
So did we. But we did indeed make it
an entire evening in a single tent...
we started a bonfire all by ourselves
(let me tell you, that was the real
struggle of the evening) and we
laughed until our guts hurt, only to
calm down and start laughing all
over again.
We got pranked by campus safety
at some ungodly hour, we spent
some serious time looking at the
stars, and we roasted our socks
on sticks so we could at least have
warm feet to sleep with.

I am honestly so thankful to have lived and served as the Spiritual Life Adviser (SLA) on the beautiful place that is Beta 3. Over the course of the year, we developed a bit of a reputation as 'that floor that does all the cute stuff'.' We made cards and delivered them to the retirement home, we made and decorated Christmas cookies for all of the groups on campus (health center/student development/academic affairs/etc.), and we surprise gifted some people who we identified as needing a little extra smile.
I couldn't pick just one picture or favorite memory, so in the captions beneath these are some of my favorite memories.

There are always a lot of summer birthdays and usually
summer birthdays go uncelebrated. NOT SO on Beta 3.
About a week ago, before finals really got crazy but
late enough that we were really starting to feel the
stress kick in, we had a mass 'birthday party' for summer
birthdays, for our friendship, and just to spend a little
more time together. And of course we went all out
with streamers, ice cream (and even lactose free
ice cream because so many of us are lactose intolerant!),
balloons, music, games and more sprinkles than anyone
would have thought we could have use for.
In addition to our mass birthday
party celebration, if our birthday
was during the year, every single
one of us woke up to balloons,
streamers, a sign, and a little note.
It was so encouraging to watch
every girl see her little reminder
that this floor really cares for
each other no matter what.
Worship nights were some of my favorite nights all year.
We had a floor with multiple very talented musicians,
be it with vocals, guitars, or ukuleles (: Every so often,
we'd hold a worship night and sing through some of our
favorite songs and take the time to really just worship
alongside each other. I found these nights really powerful
and it truly warmed my heart that the girls really took
100% of the initiative of them. As the SLA, I was the
one that was expected would really be pushing for
spiritual life and development on the floor, but these
girls knew what was up and how to make their own faith
stories a priority.. HUGE blessing.

So now, as the academic year comes to a close, I can honestly say that it has been one of the best years of my life.

Being an SLA was incredible. It really put me in a position to be looking for and to witness so much that God was doing on campus and, more specifically, in the lives of my girls. Sure, there were moments when I wanted to scream and run away from the responsibility, but it taught me a lot about humility, total reliance on God, recognizing my own ignorance, and the true importance of being a woman constantly in the word. 

My physical, emotional, mental, psychological, and spiritual health have all been pushed in different ways this semester, but I can honestly say that I'm coming out on top of it with my head on straight and a really big smile on my face.

My grades this year all but blew those of freshman year out of the water, and I'm back on track for my ultimate goal of graduating cum laude. 
I applied for, have officially been accepted into, and am now enrolled for a semester abroad in the beautiful little city of Antigua, Guatemala next year (I leave in 237 days, if you're wondering, not like I'm counting or anything) where I will have the chance to experience total immersion into the Spanish language and Guatemalan culture.

Over two semesters I completed two honors courses, 18 credits within my major, and three for one of my minors -- and totaled 35 credit hours. Though not official yet, my year-long GPA will be about a 3.8. I brewed too much coffee and bought too much coffee, I drank a couple too many energy drinks and got a little bit shy of the ideal number of hours of sleep. I've laughed and cried, sometimes within the same two minute span, but it has truly been a beautiful blessing and one that I would not trade for the world.
Thank you for journeying with me, for surrounding me with prayer, for believing with me and standing beside me. The friendships, mentorships, and relationships that have developed and flourished this year are things that I don't take lightly.

It only seems fitting to close this year with the words of Gary Allan and a song that randomly got stuck in my head today but could not fit better with how I'm feeling about the end of this crazy journey of sophomore year.

life ain't always beautiful
sometimes it's just plain hard
life and knock you down,
it can break your heart

life ain't always beautiful
you think you're on your way
and it's just a dead end road
at the end of the day

but the struggles make you stronger
and the changes make you wise
and happiness has its own way
of takin' it's sweet time

no, life ain't always beautiful
tears will fall sometimes
life ain't always beautiful
but it's a beautiful ride

life ain't always beautiful
some days I miss your smile
I get tired of walkin'
all these lonely miles

and I wish for just one minute
I could see your pretty face
guess I can dream,
but life don't work that way.

but the struggles make you stronger
and the changes make you wise
and happiness has its own way
of takin' it's sweet time

no, life ain't always beautiful
but I know I'll be fine
hey, life ain't always beautiful
but it's a beautiful ride
what a beautiful ride

Sunday, May 10

sentimental Beta 3 stuffs

Last week's photo of the week is a little bit late because I'm 98.5% sure last week took all of about 3.7 seconds from Sunday to Sunday.
To say that things are crazy is a little bit of an understatement.

First of all, "finals brain" is a real condition where your brain begins to turn to mush because the end is so close that you can almost taste it, so biologically your body starts giving in to summer and yet you still have to get stuff done.
It's like senioritis, only worse.

BUT these lovely ladies here, let me tell ya, they're making every minute of it worth it.
I'll save my long, sentimental SLA post for another day where I have a little bit more mental capacity, but living with these girls has been an experience to say the least. Each of them has pushed me to be a better Christian, friend, student, and leader in their own unique ways. We took pictures together the first week of school and it was like a bunch of strangers just getting to know each other. Now last week we took some again in the same places, and it's so obvious that so much has changed.
Yeah, there's been drama and chaos and tears and laughter, but it's been such a beautiful experience and I thank God for each of these girlywhirls.

Friday, May 1

the calm before the storm.

Finals are fast approaching, and 'overwhelmed' is a pretty good word to describe where I'm at with that whole shindig.
Honestly, it's exhausting. My professors all had the great idea to make finals week a little easier on us by making everything due this week.
Well, if one or two of them had that idea, it'd be wonderful. But when all of them have it, it just means that there are two separate and equally devastating waves of due-dates, presentations, and finals that hit all of about a week apart.
So right now is my calm before the storm. Round one of due dates happen early next week, then there's a week to recover (aka cram like a mad woman) before finals.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sitting in a pretty good place academically right now. Only one class is on my radar for being pretty rough so far and knowing there's a killer final coming (but let's be real, it's an honors gen ed. it's hard and it's not in major. so i'm not trying to flip out too bad...key word 'trying'.)

So lots and lots of coffee, to-do lists, naps, energy drinks (XS=LIFE!), and sunshine are the prescription for survival. Honestly, the beautiful weather is what makes it tolerable. After a winter that didn't really know what to do with itself or how to stop (yeah, it snowed a week and a half ago) and a spring that couldn't decide if it wanted to be summer or winter, this low 70's and consistent son does wonders for the soul.

I've stayed on top of things throughout the semester, I think I'm finally caught up on sleep from last weekend down in NC, and two weeks are all that separate me from being home free for the summer.

Which really isn't 'free,' but we'll take it. I've accepted a full-time factory position with a pretty significant raise from last summer, so basically I'll spend 1/3 of my precious summer minutes destroying all fine motor function in my hands. BUT it pays the bills, and it puts me around the family (BECAUSE GUATEMALA FOR FIVE MONTHS NEXT SPRING! AHHH!) and in a better place to build business and take care of myself.
But all of that is forward looking...and ^^ that ^^ is all of the forward thinking I get for now.
These next couple weeks are going to be about living in the moment, making stuff happen, getting things done, running on fumes, and hopefully sliding in to the end of the semester exhausted, but with a thriving GPA to show for it.