Mid-Semester Update!

Fall 2011 has been quite busy for me. Fabulous, but busy.

This semester, I started my practicum training. Denver Seminary has a counseling center on campus, Shepherd’s Gate. It offers discount counseling services to the community, counseling provided by students (i.e. me!). People get counseling, and I get practice. All of the sessions are recorded and I meet with two supervisors each week. I have 5 cases and I can’t believe people see as many as 30 in one week — I am so exhausted after just 5! Although it’s challenging, this practicum experience has been extremely positive and helps me to apply my course-work in realistic ways. I can’t believe they trust me in a counseling room alone with clients! But, this reality helps me to depend on God more and more — I am realizing each day how much I CAN’T do without His influence, wisdom, presence, and power.

The first weekend of the semester was Labor Day. For the past three years, a group of college friends and I (Team Austin!) get together somewhere in the country. Our first year, NYC, last year, Nashville. This year, Denver! We had a fabulous time hiking, dining, and lounging in parks.

In Wash Park's flower garden.

One of my new favorites! Cajun-style brunch. Beignets galore!

Later in the month, my parents came up to visit and meet Dave’s parents. We took a tour of his dad’s sod farm and then had steaks at his parents’ house. It was so fun getting our families together and in the same room. And Remy was so happy to see her “grandparents”. 🙂

Dave and I took a short trip to the mountains to take a look at the amazing aspen trees and their new yellow coats. Another purpose of our trip was to purchase our season ski-passes. Copper Mountain, here I come!

Golden Aspens

Remy!

Denver also got its first snow in October. Before Halloween this year. Apparently, it’s a big deal here if snow comes before the 31st or not! Of course, the day it snows I have an 8 am class. Go figure.

First snow! On DenSem's campus

Dave turned 41 on October 19th. We had a very nice steak dinner at Del Frisco’s. I had my first medium-rare filet — it was so good!

Last weekend was probably one of my favorite parts of the semester. Dave and I took a trip to Austin, TX for a football game. I haven’t been back to Austin since I moved here. When we landed into ABIA, a sense of peace came over me and I just felt at home. My friend Rebecca came to pick us up at midnight and had two other friends in the car to surprise us! Just love my Austin community. We stayed at my old house on 37th and I got to reminisce with my old roommates, Emily and Mackenzie. I felt right at home again! The next day, I decided to show Dave some great Mexican food. We took a lunch trip to Trudy’s and went all out with queso, burritos, and lunch specials.

Later we took a walk around the UT campus on our way to the stadium. I journeyed down memory lane as I showed him my favorite spots. We then met my parents and friends at a tailgate where Dave was gifted his very own UT shirt from my  mom.

Dave sporting his new UT apparel!

Hook em!

A great day for college football! Kansas Jayhawks vs. UT Longhorns

I LOVED showing Dave my favorite parts of UT games and being a part of the crowd at DKR again. Again, I felt right at home and as if no time had passed. In the end, the Horns pulled it out without letting Kansas score at all!

The tower is orange!

On Sunday we attended the Austin Stone — the third major time I felt at home. I enjoyed being back in my old fellowship environment more than I can express. It was such a privilege showing Dave where my faith had grown over the past 6 years.

Overall, it’s been a great semester! Continuing friendships I started in the spring, exploring Denver, experiencing my first fall (it really is a season….something this Texan really hasn’t seen before!), testing the waters of counseling, and working to bring my worlds together.

Just 6 more weeks to Christmas break!!!

The 10 Demandments

One of my supervisors gave a group of student counselors and I a great resource to use with couples in counseling. I think I will use it with myself and my own relationships as well. It’s called ‘The 10 Demandments”–basically 10 rules to live by to ensure unhappy relationships. It was created by Joy Erlichman Miller in her book, “Addictive Relationships.” Although secular, it is spot on.

  1. Thou shalt make me happy.
  2. Thou shalt not have any interests other than me.
  3. Thou shalt know what I want and what I feel without me having to say.
  4. Thou shalt return each one of my sacrifices with an equal or greater sacrifice.
  5. Thou shalt shield me from anxiety, worry, hurt, or any pain.
  6. Thou shalt give me my sense of self worth and esteem.
  7. Thou salt be grateful for everything I do.
  8. Thou shalt not be critical of me, show anger toward me or otherwise disapprove of anything I do.
  9. Thou shalt be so caring and loving that I need never take risks or be vulnerable in any way,
  10. Thou shalt love me with my whole heart, thy whole soul and thy whole mind, even if I do not love myself.
What do you think? Humorous because it’s so true! I see just how much I “demand” things from other people and it only creates strain.

Don’t Mess Up Your Clients

I’ve been taking my final counseling course this summer at the Stone. Yesterday we talked about the difference between a goal and a desire. The comparison can be shady in some circumstances. For example, “I want to stop drinking”–is that a goal or a desire? How can you walk with your client to this HUGE result? I don’t know. All I know is that I realized what a LARGE task being a counselor is. It scared me. In a good way. I realized how powerless I am to do anything to influence another’s life. Then I was humbled to realize that the Holy Spirit is the one to lead people to freedom and that I am a vehicle. Then I found relief knowing that I am not alone in my desire to see healing. I found great freedom in this fear-humility-joy.

I can only receive so much training and wisdom from Denver Seminary. Then it’s just me and the Holy Spirit. And what a great team–no other variable to get the credit or glory other than God Himself. I can’t wait to see words come out of my mouth that are not mine and and understanding of people’s hurts that I cannot otherwise fathom.

There is a phrase going around in the “counseling” world of trainees–“I just don’t want to mess up anyone.” An understandable concern, but a prideful one at that. I want to get to the place where that is not a fear of mine because I know it’s not a possibility of God to mess up anyone.

Counseled While Counseling

Going to seminary became more of a reality last Wednesday when I found out I was accepted to my first choice: Denver Seminary. I was so excited, especially after I visited the campus a few weeks ago and saw it’s beauty, met amazing staff, and learned more about the Denver(Littleton) area. After a few days had passed, part of my excitement when telling others about the acceptance was a little forced. Doubts began to creep in–wondering if I even wanted to go into counseling, if God had another plan for me, if I would miss that plan, if I would regret going to Denver. I wondered if counseling was really my calling and if I would even be good at it. Honestly, I had been enjoying my time in Kidstuff this month…a lot. And I began to wonder if children’s ministry was the direction I was supposed to go. I still have 4 months to tell Denver “yes” or “no,” but I wanted to know NOW if I would go there or not. Immediate gratification, right?

The greatest feelings of doubt–and fear–were this past Sunday. I was about to head to church for my third course on counseling at The Stone. I was getting ready in my bathroom, and analyzing everything about the situation. I asked God to show me/tell me what He wanted me to do.

Our first counseling class was about the first interview, taking the history of a client. To practice, I partnered up with a sweet woman, Mary*. We could either make up our own story when interviewing, or talk about our true selves. Mary (who is a grandmother and looks about 50) chose to be real and shared that she has been feeling anxious because her kids are all grown up and she can’t make decisions for them anymore or keep them safe. She also feels like she is missing out on life. All this time she has been raising her kids and doesn’t want life to pass her by. I learned in the first class that a gospel counselor is the voice of the Holy Spirit for the client, and I truly began to believe it on Sunday. God gave me just the right questions to ask and the insight to understand Mary; she began tearing up pretty much from the start. As her time to share was almost up, I asked Mary what was something that she has always wanted to do, but has not had the chance to do because she was raising kids. I have no idea where that question came from, but it really made her think. And she is going to tell me next week what she has come up with.

Then it was my turn. I was going to make up something really off-the-wall, but then, just as telling a lie goes, it’s hard to keep it up and keep all the details together. So, I talked to her about my anxiety about going to school. And, of course, I began to tear up right when I started talking. Confession really is a path to healing. She spoke so much truth to me, especially about not acting out of fear. And that is EXACTLY what I was doing. Afraid I would mess things up. She nailed me when she guessed I was the kind of person who had all of her ducks in a row. Now, I was about to go to a new place that wasn’t clear-cut.

Time was over before we knew it and we both returned to the larger group sniffling with red-eyes. I was AMAZED at God. I haven’t felt that way in a long time–I was unselfishly thankful. I.e. I wasn’t telling God “thank you” because I felt like I needed to. I just WAS. And it was so pure. It wasn’t until later that I realized He heard my prayer in the bathroom earlier in the morning. And He answered it in a very meaninful way: I was counseled by one of His people when I was practicing counseling. My doubts passed as I chose not to make decisions based on fear. So, Denver, here I come! Free and clear.

*Name change