Monday, October 29, 2012

New Job Journey

I am a details person, so please bare with my tendency to become long winded haha! But seriously, this story is a great testimony of God’s perfect plans.

“What’s your dream job, Carly?” has been a question asked by many since I have graduated.

(My BIG dream job is actually not in the field of Occupational Therapy, but I know that I’m not in a place or pursuing that job yet. I still absolutely love Occupational Therapy though and feel so blessed to be in a field that I really do enjoy.)

So besides that tangent that I went on ;) I always respond with, “My dream job would be working as an Occupational Therapist in a school system.”

As I have shared this with other Occupational Therapists that I have networked with, there is a common message of, “You’re probably going to have to pursue other areas first because getting into the school system is really tough, that’s where almost every pediatric OT wants to be.”

So I pursued a job at Pine Rest, where I had my internship and truly loved as well. I love my patients at Pine Rest….A LOT! Ask my husband, he hears me go on and on about them (without personal information of course!). So that is where I have been working since I graduated.

So fast forward, and I took my Occupational Therapy boards in the middle of August. I found out that I failed and was so devastated. I had missed it by 2 questions…TWO QUESTIONS! AH!

The day after I found out I failed my exam, I got a phone call from a principal in the Grand Rapids Public School System.
“Hi, is this Carly Stender?”
“Yes, it is, may I ask who’s calling?”
“Hi, my name is Jean Allard. I am the principal at Ken O Sha. I recently got your name and some information about you from an OT in the district that you have been talking with. He said you wanted to work in the schools, and I am interested in you applying to the OT position at my school. Our OT just notified us of her resignation.”

I told her that I was taking the exam in 45 days (that’s how long I had to wait) and so she stated that they would keep me in mind but that they were going to have to open the position to others as well.

We kept in touch during the 45 days and she shared that Human Resources still hadn’t gotten to the interviewing process. I went and took a tour there to see what it was like. Honestly, I was intimidated and got terrified of the idea of working there actually haha. There were some really involved patients and I felt like such a baby walking in there and thinking that people would be coming to ME for my “expertise.” I figured that they would start the interviewing process before I took the exam though, so I thought that I would be let off the hook.

I prayed, “God, this job terrifies me. Please just close this door if I’m not supposed to work there.”

Fast forward some more and I took my exam on October 10. On October 10 after my exam I got a call from the principal. “Hi Carly, we are starting the interview process next week, are you still interested in an interview?”

I could not believe that the job was still open!! SO, I scheduled an interview (OH and then I found out I PASSED THE EXAM!!)

My interview was….ok. Haha, I did not feel good about the interview actually. It was very straight forward and all about situations (which can be hard to answer when you’re just starting your profession). They interviewed 4 people for this job and the person before me and after me were both older women, who looked like they probably had a TON more experience than me.

As a part of this interview they asked me how long it would take to get my license now that I passed my exam. Most of my classmates shared that it took 3-4 weeks, so that’s what I told them. They said they wanted to fill this position as soon as possible, and so that that time frame might not work for them.

I left the interview feeling disappointed (since this was the door  to get into my DREAM job as a school OT) but felt relieved as well because I knew this job would really challenge me and stretch me out of my comfort zone for sure.

One day later I got my license in the mail!!! This 3-4 week process took ONE week for me! I was shocked! Everything seemed to be lining up!! They pursued ME for this job from the beginning, they started the interview process at the perfect timing for me, AND I got my license a lot sooner than expected. However, I truly did not think I would be offered the job because of being a new graduate.

The morning after I got my license in the mail, I got a phone call from the principal asking about my license and I told her that I got it in the mail already! With excitement she shared, “well that works out perfectly because we would like to offer you the job!!!”

WHAT?!?!?!?! Are you kidding me??? I literally was speechless for 10 seconds. She sounded really confused when I was stumbling over the words I was trying to find to say haha. I seriously had a “speech” all thought up of what I would say after she declined the job offer.

So here I am. Walking in God’s goodness…walking in God’s perfect plan, starting my dream job on November 5. I am honored and terrified all at the same time J

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wedding Day

Recently I had a vision of twirling around with Jesus. It was bliss. Lately, I have been blessed to be in a season where I truly feel like I have just simply been enjoying Jesus and allowing myself to receive his affections toward me. Now this may sound "ultra spiritual" and "fluffy" to some, as I hope that there are all different kinds of people who read my blog; but to be completely real with you all, this season has brought me such deep joy, peace, and refreshment and I hope you can one day experience this as well.

For the past year God has been stripping me of my pride and self sufficiency. It was hard. painful. refining. I needed it, I needed it bad. I have loved Jesus since a young age and so I often thought I "had it together."I wanted to just depend on myself and not have to be weak. I wanted to receive the glory and recognition for what GOD alone had done through me as His vessel. But my good deeds were still like filthy rags to him (Isaiah 64:6).

When I picture Isaiah 64:6 for myself, I picture myself in my wedding dress (white, pure, radiant) and doing one of those Trash the Dress sessions and presenting myself in a completely muddy, stained, no longer white, wedding dress. My wedding dress, something that was so pure and lovely to me, was covered in filth. This is how I was before God. When spending time with God I wanted to tell him "but look, I'm wearing white, it's there somewhere." But, it is ONLY through the blood of Jesus that I have been made pure and lovely.

I want to present myself to my King, my Groom in white. I have already done that to my incredible husband, Mike, who daily portrays Christ's love. But I know one day I will be united with The Groom, the One that saved me, the One that calls me His Beloved. My wedding day with Mike took preparation (not just with the logistics and decorations for the day, but with my heart) and my wedding day with Christ takes preparation. As Christ has been sanctifying me throughout my years of following him, especially this past year of being refined, he is preparing me for our wedding day.

I've been listening to a song by Cory Asbury and Allyson Prior called Shine (check it out!) and  it gives such beautiful words to what Jesus says to us about the preparation. This song means so much to me as I have seen breakthrough with some areas of sin for the past couple months.

The song says, "You don't have to look on the past and remember your sin, because I have washed it all away. As far as the east is from the west, so have I removed your sin from you. I've thrown it away in the sea of forgetfulness. You don't need to dwell there any longer. You have the victory because I have the victory. I have conquered it."

It has been amazing to be able to move forward in freedom, that I don't need to sit in condemnation but that Christ's blood is enough to wash me. That in my filthy wedding dress, I am made white. The next part of the song talks about preparation for the Wedding Day.

"I've clothed you in garments of white, my Beloved. I'm making you ready. I'm preparing you for that day. It's all about the wedding day, on the day when I return. I can't wait for that day, My Bride. I will claim you as my own. You are going to shine. We are going to spend eternity together."

So this is what it's all about for me.

"There is going to be a wedding. It's the reason that I'm living--to marry the Lamb."

Behold the Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29

Sunday, October 7, 2012


This is just a test. I have had some friends share that they leave comments and then they don't show up. So please just leave a simple comment so I can see if I can get the issue checked out.

Thanks :)

More blogging to come...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm baaaaack....again!

So if you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you will be quick to see that I have been SO inconsistent with this thing! Like....SO inconsistent!

The thing is, I found myself looking to my blog (along with too many other things) as a place to fulfill my selfish desire to be seen and noticed.

If only I could write up some fancy piece about humility, or offer a killer recipe...well not literally killer ;) or show a "sweet" art project I was doing on my own, than MAYBE more people would be drawn to who I was.


Loneliness sucks. It sure does. But so does pride and so does a lifestyle of performance.

It is JESUS CHRIST I want others to be drawn to.

God has so kindly and gently brought me to a deeper place of humility and dependence on Him as I learn to trust His faithfulness and provision. I have been through a season of being lonely, stagnant, and honestly...ungrateful.

BUT God (in His perfection) has so sweetly and richly blessed me. I often tell other people this, but now I have learned to preach it to myself, and I am seeing it come to pass: "You will one day live in the fruit of the season you are in."Out of this trying season I've had for the past year, I have learned so many things!

Things like...
-Jesus is my FRIEND and I can count on him
-It is not God who leaves me, but rather, I am the one who tries to make it without Him
-How to be thankful in all circumstances (I have really been in a season of embracing this, and let me tell you, life is SO much better when you choose to live this way!!)
-God knows what He is doing
-God is faithful
-God cares about the things that are important to us
-How to worship for HIS glory
-How to intimately follow Christ behind closed doors
-AND...That I am a DAUGHTER of the Most High King...meaning that I have authority and that God's goodness and unfailing love will surely follow me all the days of my life! HALLELUJAH!

So here I am...for now. I hope to be back to blogging (if I can keep my heart in check about it), because truly I love writing and testifying to what the Lord is doing in my life and in the lives around me. So friends, I am studying 1 Peter for the month of October and it is rockin my world. I'll be back at some point to share with you :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I want to be louder

WARNING: This may be offensive. Please trust my heart and my intentions to speak all of this in love and conviction for myself included.

So, I'm a pretty loud person. When I say that I mean, I have a loud laugh, I talk really loud when I get enthusiastic (which is about a lot of things) and I've had many people tell me they can tell when I'm around. Now with that, I don't feel like I'm usually loud in an offensive way, and never want to be considered that, but nonetheless may still come off that way with this blog post.

So I live in Grand Rapids now and it's a cool and fun city (but sorry folks, there's still no place like Kalamazoo to me). Anyway, there are some things I really enjoy about this downtown, all the options for EVERYTHING--food, hobbies, recreation, community involvement, neighborhoods, etc. I value the way this city has really expanded and grown into a "well oiled machine" per say and has really become a hot spot.
However, my biggest pain, biggest frustration, biggest heart ache about this city is the sense of religiosity and self-righteousness that I have experienced either hurting me or hurting others. Now, I want to justify this by expressing that Jesus can't stand this either. He often corrected the Pharisees and those who were self-righteous. I also want to clarify that I'm not here to point fingers or to say who is self righteous and speak against the church. I am a part of the church, which is the body of Christ, and I will not let Christ be defamed because of how others misrepresent him, because I am guilty of it as well.

What I want to express is that I have come in contact with SO many people that do not want anything to do with Jesus or the Church because of the people who claim to be Christians. This issue breaks my heart so, so much and I often catch myself dwelling on it because of how it pains me. People have told me of the ways they have been hurt by the Church, the body of Christ, because of the judgment and self-righteousness that they convey. Church---Body of Christ, this should NOT be the case! I am SO tired of people hearing the word Christian and thinking (judgmental, hateful, self righteous, hypocritical, legalistic). I mean gosh, the word Christian means FOLLOWER OF CHRIST! Now, I want to show grace to every single Christian out there by expressing that I know none of us will ever be perfect and we are all going to mess up and say and do things that are hurtful to others--I understand that. But our love for each other and our love for others should far outweigh the hurt we cause because we have the Living God that is Perfect Love inside of us. 

The people who are misrepresenting Christ  seem to be so much louder than the people who are aiming to represent Christ---and I want to be louder.
I want to be louder than the people who speak out against the unchurched or the unsaved.
I want to be louder than the Christians who speak out against the churched, the Body of Christ, their own brothers and sisters for goodness sakes.
I want to be louder than the people who speak out against Christians saying they are judgmental, self-righteous, unloving.
I want to be louder.
I don't want to be afraid of calling myself a Christian because of the negative connotation that goes with it. It seems like everyone is getting louder with their opinions and lifestyles and passions and there are too many people who aim to represent Christ who are being quiet out of fear of being misunderstood. But it is time for us to make some noise! I want to be loud enough that the name of Christ is lifted high! I want Christ to be glorified and for people to draw near to him, because truly, I believe once people know the love of Christ, they won't be able to resist him.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Human

There is something that I'm seeing in my generation. Something great, but something that I also feel like can be used as a cover up.

Save the trees.
Rescue the slaves.
End sex/human trafficking.
Help the poor.
World peace.
Be accepting of everyone.

I am definitely for those things, and am involved with some things to intentionally make a difference. BUT...yes there is a BUT...what I see that is lacking is focusing on an individual. (Disclaimer: I am identifying myself as having this issue too)

It's easier to be for humanity than for the human.

What I see happening is that so many people in this generation are doing something for humanity and patting themselves on the back for it (which once again, I really do appreciate and value) BUT then we give the finger to the guy who cuts us off in traffic...or we disrespect our parents...or we gossip about the coworker/classmate that we can't stand...or we trash talk the person who has an opposing view than us. Why is it that we can feel so good about ourselves for serving a meal to the poor, raising money to end human trafficking, and advocating for a minority group but than when it comes to the individuals in our life we can quickly walk past their needs or walk all over their dignity.

We talk about how we should "love the least of these" as if they have to be far off somewhere...or that it's an event. AN EVENT. An event can't replace our daily command to "love the least of these" or to "love your neighbor as yourself."

I believe loving the human is the beginning to being able to reach humanity. Let's not be known as a generation that just seeks to serve and love humanity, but one that does so for the human----the neighbor, the mom or dad, the sibling, the coworker, the classmate, the stranger, the waitress, the cashier, the customer service representative, the enemy. Who are you going to be intentional about serving and loving today?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Let the winds blow.

Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out.  Let My beloved come to His garden and eat its pleasant fruits Song of Songs 4:16

When reading Song of Songs, there can be a deeper understanding of intimacy. Some read it as physical intimacy, but it can be seen as spiritual intimacy as well. The first four chapters of Song of Songs focuses on the Bride of Christ's journey towards understanding and enjoying her inheritance in Christ. These chapters emphasize how God views and desires  her.

Here is an explanation I found regarding Song of Songs 4:16 that I really liked (

A. The Bride now has enough confidence in God's goodness to offer a 2 fold prayer. She prays for both the north winds of adversity and the south winds of blessing. She knew that both played a strategic role in her becoming a fragrant garden for God's pleasure.
B. Awake, O north wind – this speaks of the bitter cold wind of testing and difficulty. This prayer is answered in Song 5:3-7 as she goes through what I call “the ultimate 2-fold test”.
C. Come, O south wind – her second prayer is that Jesus send the refreshing winds of blessing to mature her. Only God has the wisdom to know the right combination of the north and the south winds that are necessary in each season of our life. Only God knows our makeup and destiny.
D. Blow upon my garden – she wants the garden of her heart and ministry to be deeply affected. Deep pockets of our unperceived pride, ambition, and anger, etc. are uncovered to us as we work under difficult circumstances. That its spices may flow out – she desires to be filled with God's 
fragrant Presence. In other words, she wants to grow in love. 
E. Let my Beloved come to His garden – is the transition from her garden to His garden. She desires to be totally God’s. She wants an anointing of consecration. She sees her life and ministry as "His" garden instead of hers. Jesus has an inheritance in the church (Eph. 1:18). This is the turning point in the Song. For the first 4 chapters it was her inheritance, from now on it is His. Let my Beloved eat its pleasant fruits – that Jesus might enjoy what the Spirit has worked in her.

Jesus has really been bringing my heart to this place of singing "whatever's in front of me, I'll sing hallelujah". I just want Jesus to have it all. He deserves it all. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Facebook withdrawals. Yes, they exist...and yes I realize that is pathetic.

I have gone off facebook for 3 days now, and I have been SO tempted to get on and use it. I will admit, I have gotten on a few times because I'm planning a baby shower, but that's all I've done on there. How ridiculous is it that I am tempted to stay on longer and scan through people's lives?

But yeah, there's my honesty with you all as I push through this need to be involved in everyone's lives in order to feel valued and significant.

On a side note, I am currently interning at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. I am just in my first week there, and I have already met so many fascinating and interesting people. They are dealing with schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression, mood disorders, and all sorts of psychotic disorders. AND...a lot of them are dealing with withdrawals. It's so easy to turn to something of this world as an escape..and I know that to be true in my life as I've shared.

As I've been meeting with them God has given me some great opportunities to minister to them and to speak into their lives that God loves them, He has plans for them, that they have purpose and are special in the eyes of the Creator. It's been an amazing experience so far and I still have 11 more weeks to go!

God, as you work in my heart to rid me of the things I escape to for value, identity, and instant gratification, I pray that your love would not only transform my life, but the lives of my patients as well. That together we would see that a life fixed on you is full and satisfying--that YOU as our Creator are all that we need and that we would rest in that and walk fully in who you've made us to be.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm clearly bad at this :)

So my ambitions of being a blogger just aren't doing so hot ha. I love to journal and I want to share what's going on in my life and what God is doing in it, but keeping up with this has been too much for me to handle I guess. I have felt like I needed to be embarking on something or beginning something in order to start back up so that I know where to begin. The idea of trying to fill you in on the last several months of my life is OVERWHELMING to me! So instead, I am starting with a clean slate with a beginning. So here it is: my passionate, vulnerable, broken, yet redeemed journey I am taking in this season that God has been calling me to for a while now. 

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ Hosea 2:14-16

The Book of Hosea is a prophetic accounting of God’s relentless love for His children. Since the beginning of time God’s ungrateful and undeserving creation has been accepting God’s love, grace, and mercy while still unable to refrain from its wickedness. The last part of Hosea shows how God’s love once again restores His children as He forgets their misdeeds when they turn back to Him with a repentant heart. 

My heart so often turns to other things to satisfy my soul. God's love, grace, and mercy are always before me, and I choose to invest in temporary gratifications. Since I've moved to Grand Rapids, I've had to really reevaluate my identity as I'm no longer in the "limelight" so to speak in any type of ministry or leadership role. To overcome the feelings of missing that season of life, I've turned to things such as Facebook, pinterest, and obsessive home making (seriously, ridiculous ha), to establish an identity for myself outside of what Christ sees in me.

You see, spending hours scanning through my newsfeed, or the pinterest pages, and decorating and redecorating my house have shown to be replacements to find my value, rather than persevering through the wilderness to allow Christ to allure me and reveal my identity to me. 

Too often my relationship with God has become legalistic, where my feelings about how God sees me are based on my performance and how much I've done for Him rather than embracing the grace and salvation I've received.   I want to know the fullness of Christ and that I am full and complete in him alone. I know this will be a life journey, BUT in this season...however long it takes, I want a greater revelation of this. So I'm taking some time off facebook and am only using Pinterest on the weekends since these are my biggest distractions. It's time I respond to the invitation that God has sent me.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1