Tonight for part two of The Monday Mission Project (click here to read the series intro and background), I’m featuring someone very near and dear to my heart – one of my own roommates for the past two years, Chelsea! Living with Chelsea is nothing short of a blast. We are on the same page when it comes to so many things like our love of food, traveling the world, music and concerts, all things Shauna Niequist, big crazy dreams, and late night popcorn and red wine when we are in denial of all of the homework we should be doing. Chelsea has also taught me a lot about what it looks like to chase after God and the things He has for us. I am constantly encouraged by her heart for others, her passion for life, and the incredible diligence she pours into her work for school. She is majoring in Interior Design with a minor in business. Before living with her, I would have completely stereotyped it as another Family and Consumer Science department major where they never study and still make straight As in classes that they should be ashamed of paying Baylor tuition for. Well let’s just say I was beyond wrong. Even as a biology/pre-health major, I think it is safe to say Chelsea puts in more hours than I do for my schoolwork, mostly consisting of all-nighter projects and slaving away for weeks for assignments that might be graded so subjectively. I’ve definitely gained a major respect for design majors and been convicted of my ignorant assumption that it’s a piece of cake. She has another year at Baylor, but I am beyond excited to watch how God continues to lead her in this plan for her life. Design and Jesus might not at first seem like they go hand in hand, but let’s not forget he was a carpenter.
1. Describe the process of ultimately choosing to pursue design as your career. How did God lead you into this profession along the way and when did you know you were really walking in his calling on your life?
I started college as a Medical Humanities Pre-Physicians Assistant Major (joke?), thinking I was going to go to PA school and be a successful person in the medical field. God quickly humbled me by nearly failing my freshman biology class and finding zero interest in my pre-health classes. I went to career counseling mid-way through the semester, and after a number of tests and prayers I landed in the Interior Design department. I’ve always had a love and appreciation for all things creative but never viewed it as a profession. Honestly, I always thought interior designers were just “decorators” (false, they’re not. You don’t need a degree to decorate a space and I have yet to have a class that teaches me how to pick fabrics or where to place wall art). I knew with certainty that I was in the right place when I first heard my professor talk about public interest design/design for social justice: “human-centered and participatory design practice that places emphasis on ecological, economic, and social issues”. I knew I wanted my career to have a purpose and meaning and God shouted at me loud and clear after that lecture. I have also been on a number of mission trips that involved construction of some sort. Those was always my favorite parts of the trip because I love working with my hands, creating something, building, you name it. Through further reflections I felt confident that I was in the right place.
2. How do you hope to practically show the love of Jesus through your work and be a light to the people you interact with everyday? How do you see yourself serving God and others through your profession on a day-to-day basis?
I want to help those who do not have access to good design – those who don’t have solid roofs over their heads or a place to gather with community. I hope to use my skills in design and knowledge of sustainable building to improve the lives of others. Jesus acted for and with those who were in desperate places of need, and I hope to be there with those people. I want to forget about myself and partner with people who could use a space or a building. My hope is that on a daily basis I live in such a way that places others before me. No matter where I am – working in a firm, overseas, or in a classroom – I pray that I can be someone who takes genuine interest in others and seeks to show love through small acts of kindness or simple conversation.
3. What opportunities, big or small, do you hope to have to partner with God and make an impact for his kingdom that you wouldn’t have otherwise if you weren’t doing what you are?
I hope to have the opportunity to travel to places where there is a design-related need and help meet that. Had I not been pursuing interior design I would not know what social impact/justice design was, or that there were ways to tangibly help communities with design. I hope to meet people from all different backgrounds and learn what it is that shapes their communities. I hope to hear peoples’ stories and let those stories drive the way a space is constructed.
4. What do you love most about your current season of life and what are you most excited about when thinking about your future?
I love the thought that God has something ahead of me that I most likely can’t fathom right now. That may cause anxiety for most people, but it’s exciting to me. I love that I am in a place where I can learn and absorb tons of information that I hope will serve as an aid in the long run. I feel as though there are so many opportunities right now ahead of me, and I am excited to see what those are over the next year and a half. Maybe grad school?!
5. How do you think you’ll stay enthusiastic/passionate and find the motivation to continue to work diligently for his glory?
I think it will take continual reminder of why I am doing what I am. It will take prayer and encouragement from my community to keep going when life seems to hit a wall or feel impossible. I don’t doubt there will be times when it is less exciting, but I hope to be the type of person who continues on despite my circumstances.
6. What advice would you give to college freshman on discovering and pursuing what God has for them in terms of their major, future career, etc?
Do not let money dictate what career/major you decide to pursue. You may be great at something, but if it doesn’t bring you life, or if your potential career doesn’t excite you, choose something else. God takes our passions and uses them in extravagant ways. When we are pursuing something we love, something that makes us come alive, something that brings us joy, that is when God can do his extravagant work. You have to trust Him.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because the world needs people who have come alive.” –Howard Thurman
Chelsea never fails to ignite something in others’ hearts when she talks about her passion. She’s a listener, a dreamer, a laugher, a beauty, and a woman after God’s own heart.
P.S. – Fun fact: last semester she interned with Magnolia here in Wacotown (a.k.a. THE HGTV Fixer Upper’s own Chip and Joanna Gaines). So naturally she loves goats just like the ones at “The Farmhouse.”
Someone hire this girl. Also, she’s single. 😉
Thanks Chels and part three will be coming at you soon!