Emerging from the Pool After a Long Swim

It was like leaping into a pool that was just a little bit too deep. I couldn’t find the bottom of the pool to launch myself back up to the surface.

It was. Hard. To keep. My breath.

Arms flailing, I pull myself up through the water and back to the world of oxygen.

Gasp!

Air again.

That’s is the feeling of being done with this year and this semester, in particular. For four months, I took 18 college credit hours, taught Sunday school, and worked with the college newspaper. This semester has been full of challenges and stress. It has been a season where I have experienced the most anxiety and depression. I have never had so many rough days.

But the season is over. Well, it has been for a week.

As I wind down and catch my breath, I am catching a glimpse of all of the lessons that can be learned from this past semester.

A few of those lessons:

Joy. Prayer. Mornings. Scripture. Friends. Quiet.

God has taught me that it is important to count my blessings and the moments of joy in the midst of pain. In the little things, God is teaching and calling and loving me.

Prayer is a beautiful spiritual discipline, and processing with the Lord helps me respond with more grace. The Lord has shown me so much grace in my failings and my mistakes, and I will continually need more grace. I will also need to learn, every day, how to give more grace. Prayer is a place to do that.

This semester, I learned the wonder of mornings. Without 8 am classes, I could get up, enjoy the morning, and sit in the sweet morning sunshine on my couch.

Scripture speaks. All of it speaks, and it is the Word of God. This semester, there has been a great desire in my heart to read and know the Bible, reading through the entire thing in one year. The Lord has provided for me His Word so that I may know more about His glory and His character. (I’ve never made it through the whole thing in a period of a year, and I really want to!)

With such a busy schedule and a stressful year, I have recognized the importance of friends. I have done a pretty lame job of loving and encouraging my friends well. I want to and need to be more consistent and more in tune to the people around me. Friends rebuke and encourage. Friends defend. I have seen the gift of friendship, and I endeavor to be a better friend, to love better, to cherish the moments. These people are a gift from the Lord that I have often taken for granted. He has been so gracious to me. I don’t want to be too busy with academics and outside commitments that I miss out on fun times and quiet moments with my friends.

So here we are. The beginning of a new season, having learned new lessons. I know God will use this season to teach me so much more.

Here’s to a summer of floating on the surface of the pool before I get out and jump in again. I guess I will take the time to put on a little sunscreen before I go out in the sun for too long.

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Lessons from Aviation Insurance

As spring semester came to a close, I was a little disappointed that so many of my classmates were getting ready to travel the world, work at camps, or have cool internships for the summer. What was I doing? Well, the plan was to work in retail close to home since I live right by an outdoor shopping center, but I had only had time to apply for one job (they still haven’t gotten back to me – good thing I didn’t need that job).

Thankfully, God provided for me. I went to Him several times, telling Him that I didn’t have time to apply for jobs, asking Him how I was going to find a good job for the summer so that I could pay for school in the fall. I think He probably laughed. I had no idea what I was doing for the summer; it looked like my first week home, I would be going and applying like crazy, hoping I could get a job before all the high schoolers snatched ’em up.

However, finals week – my last week of school – I received an incredible email from my high school cross country coach, asking me what I had planned for the summer and offering me a paid internship at his aviation insurance office. What?!

If you have ever read about my high school cross country experience, you will know it was so great because of this coach. He wasn’t just a great coach, but he is a great boss as well. A few days after receiving that initial email, I finished my final exams and went into the office for what I thought was an interview. It was basically a job offer and settling of terms. I would have a 10-week paid internship at an aviation insurance office, answering phones, processing the mail, proofing insurance policies, mailing out certificates, and anything else they needed help with in the office. (Think Office Assistant/Receptionist with her own desk and cubicle.) It would be labeled an internship because it would be a position in which I was developing skills that would help me in any job, and I would regularly meet with my coach/boss at the end of the week to recap, ask questions, answer questions, any of that. I couldn’t think of a better job for the summer!

Some people don’t want an office job, but after 5 weeks of this, I don’t think it is too bad. I enjoy answering the phone, sorting and metering mail, and making sure I follow the checklists of mailing out policies and contacting customers. Although there are days I don’t want to wake up early, I enjoy going to work. No, I’m not working full-time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get a small taste of what this business is like.

I am incredibly thankful that the Lord provided me with a job for the summer that I enjoy. I can make the most of a lot of different situations, but sometimes it is nice when you don’t have to work too hard to do that.

For kicks, here are a few things I have learned in the first half of my internship:

1. Walking well in heels just takes a little practice. Well, if you count wedges as heels as I do. The business casual pants that I wear to work are just a little long, so I can’t wear flats with them. Since beginning my job, I would say I have had a good deal of practice of walking  in shoes that can be dangerous. Another thing I’ve noticed: things look really different from 5’6″ when you are usually 5’2″.

2. If your bites aren’t too big,  you can manage to answer the phone with food in your mouth. Without sounding like your mouth is full. I’ve mastered this one, but I always have my water cup filled, just in case. Every day, I bring my lunch with me to work so that I am not spending money on food when I can bring it from home. Part of my internship is answering the phone during lunch time. I don’t take a lunch break because my hours aren’t too long, so I just bring a small box of fruit, vegetables, and other snack items with me. Sometimes, I get a call right after I have taken a bite of something, and I manage to answer the phone without sounding like I am eating. Score!

3. BYOC. That stand for “bring your own coffee.” I’m not complaining or asking the office to change anything. I just happen to have spent a year with a handful of coffee snobs, and I am becoming one, too. My 11-year-old sister remarked the other day that I have so many things to make coffee and tea with, which is definitely true. When you regularly use a pourover, french press, coffee grinder, glass travel mug with a metal basket strainer, and who knows what else, it may come across as coffee snobbery.

4. If you aren’t careful, you can cut your lip licking envelopes. I learned this one pretty early on while mailing out 100 certificates one day. I cut my lip on something like the 7th one… Since then, I only lick envelopes on small batches of letters, and I make sure to just stick my tongue out really far so that the envelope doesn’t get anywhere near my lip.

5. If you wake up early every day, it does start to get easier. I am so excited that I am training myself to be a morning person! I’m pretty sure it is possible. It took a lot of early morning coffee and not napping, but I manage to get to bed around 10 pm and make up between 6 and 7 am. A lot of the time, I will still hit snooze, but once I get up, I’m pretty awake. Now, whether I can keep a schedule like this once I go back to college is a completely different ordeal.

6. Time spent after work can be spent well or not-so-well. There are days that I get home a little after 3 pm, and I am pretty tired. The decision then is this: I can either push through the tiredness and do some things that I want to do this summer, or I can lay around, do nothing of significance, and look back later, wishing I had accomplished some of my summer goals.

7. Instagram is not the place to keep a diary of what you wore to work everyday. I apologize to anyone who follows me on Instagram. I also want to admit that was what I was doing. I wanted to see if I could make it through the entire summer without wearing the same outfit twice. Well, there are a lot of days in the summer. And I got tired to posting pictures on myself. I’m sure you got tired of me holding up the appropriate number of fingers for the number of days I had worked. (I only made it to Day 11, but I used paper numbers for that day because I only have 10 fingers.) I should have learned after trying to post pictures of me and my pet rock every day over Christmas break – I only made it 8 days then.

8. When you work in a place filled with the language of aviation insurance, you begin to think in that language. As I have been working here, I have acquired a smidgen of the vocabulary used in the insurance business, specifically in the aviation insurance business. When I see planes and helicopters now, I wonder what their coverage includes, who their brokers are, what kind of experience their pilots have, and an assortment of other seemingly random things. I’m fascinated by the business, I have to say. And don’t even get me started on the thoughts of what claims would look like when a plane crashes in a movie…

9. Sometimes, you will forget things. And that is why you use sticky notes and checklists. Also, I couldn’t come up with a better point… It isn’t because I haven’t learned a lot, but just because I can’t think of anything else to say that you may find amusing. I’ve learned so much about how an office operates, office dynamics, and so much more, but I will have to just save those for another time perhaps.

One last thing: A lot of people ask what I do, and you got a taste of that at the beginning of this post. As for the company, I work for a handful of insurance brokers who serve as middlemen between those who own airplanes and those who write and provide aviation insurance. The brokers of the company sell insurance for aircraft, airports, and other aviation-related things. So that’s that.

I hope that you possibly got a chuckle out of this list. I also hope that you will see the Lord’s faithfulness this summer. May He show Himself to you as Provider and Strength. May He grant you wisdom and diligence for the next months and the next years. May you find beautiful joy in the funny (and the serious) lessons that He teaches you this summer.