bring on the summer of paint and excitement

Last week I wrote about my decision to take or turn down Teach for America.

I turned it down. For a myriad of reasons, I can explain if you’re really interested…

Long hours of prayer, thought, journals, consultations with others, not sleeping led me to the decision, and I feel complete peace that it was the right decision.  Over the past few months, life has been a roller coaster that has changed directions an innumerable amount of times, but every second has been thrilling. Very few things about my life and future plans are the same as they were six months ago, but I have an overwhelming peace about this.

Back in November, I began to pray more desperately than every that god would help me become who He created me to be and less of who I wanted to be.  Countless hours of prayer, tears, journaling, seeking, reading, and listening have ensued since then and countless things have changed in a beautiful way.   I’ve had a heart for mission work since the first Knoxville mission trip I went on in high school.  Whenever anyone has asked me about a “dream job,” I’ve always mentioned something to the nature of “get paid to go on mission trips with youth and allow them to experience God in a radically different way than they ever imagined outside of their comfort zone and see Him work in ways they never imagined.” My dreams have also revolved around education systems, which I have always viewed as a more practical dream because it is tangible and has specific career paths attached to it.  I want to give all students the opportunities through the system, to discover and pursue their passions without the holds of many of the boxes of life. I see this as a guidance counselor potentially….

I’ve never been able to matriculate my mission trip dream job into an actual job……until now.

At the beginning of March, an opportunity was presented to me as a potential summer opportunity called YouthWorks. This opportunity, from the minimal research I conducted, seemed to be my mission trip dream matriculated into an employment opportunity.  I jumped at this opportunity and applied the morning before I left for Nicaragua.  While in Nicaragua, I checked my email to find an email inviting me to a phone interview for YouthWorks and offering me an opportunity with Teach for America.  Throughout the week and in the week since returning, I prayed and consulted many friends and mentors about the decision.  All the time, I knew that both of these opportunities would require me to leave Nashville, The Bridge, my friends, my family, and nearly everything I’ve known for the past 16 years of my life in Middle Tennessee.  As I was walking from class to my campus ministry last Thursday night, I was praying, a bit frustrated at God to be honest, because I hadn’t heard anything from YouthWorks and was stressed beyond normal because I was not at peace about Teach for America at all. I prayed and asked God why I hadn’t heard anything from YouthWorks, why I wasn’t at peace about TFA, why TFA that once seemed like it was my dream job now seemed as far as possible from something I could see myself doing.  I was frustrated because I had talked with the YouthWorks people Tuesday afternoon and they told me they would call me Thursday and it was nearly 8pm and I hadn’t heard anything.  2 seconds (literally) later, my phone rings and it was YouthWorks…..There’s no way to deny that this situation was a God thing.

It pains me to have to leave The Bridge because this semester has caused me to love the kids more than ever.  Learning the ins and outs of the program every Monday and Wednesday has been more of a blessing than I could have imagined, but I believe that YouthWorks is where I need to be this summer.  I’ve always deeply desired to have a summer away, I have a HUGE heart for missions, and as you all know, my passion for youth runs deep.  I do not know where I will be placed yet, that information comes in May, but I do know that the position is a Works Coordinator, where I will be in charge of construction (mostly painting) coordination at the site that I am placed at.  This position will allow me to develop my leadership skills because I will be the sole works coordinator and working with 5 other coordinators at a site, spend a summer away which will stretch me in ways I can only imagine, and be a great opportunity to work with youth in a new context.

Here’s the official job description:

Help youth build relationships with community members through work projects. Learn how to set up projects and partner with local community contacts. Teach participants the basics of painting and watch them be transformed as they serve in new ways. See the lasting effect on both community members whose homes have been improved, as well as the teens and adults who completed the repairs. Work Projects Coordinators must have the ability to clearly teach and prepare participants for projects.

For more details on YouthWorks so that I don’t go on for days about it…. check out their website.

I will miss you all this summer, the kids at the Bridge, the staff at the Green Hills Y, and everything about the Nashville, but I believe it is my time to spend a summer away.  My training begins May 23 and I do not return to Nashville until August 10, so I will not be in town all summer.

So…..Nashville people, let’s hang out before I leave!!!


One comment on “bring on the summer of paint and excitement

  1. hannahkaty says:

    1) The YouthWorks program sounds so awesome. I am so happy that you are following your heart and doing this, I think you will get so much out of it.

    2) I think it is so admirable that you have the courage to pray to God that he will make you what he wants you to be, not what you want to be. That is something I struggle with so much lately and to actually have the strength to make that request is very inspiring.

    Thanks for this post.


    Hannah Katy

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