With My Hands Wide Open

Season’s Greetings!

November 31st: Last Basic in Lang Hall
December 7th: Last full class of my undergrad
December 10th: Last Sunday Church at Orchard Hill
December 10th: Last full day with roommates
December 15th: Last big test
December 20th: Last day at my part-time job
December 28th: Last day in my apartment

December, for some college students, is a season of lasts. Good lasts AND sad lasts! In January, I will begin student teaching and move into a whole new season of life. This semester has gone by as fast as the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” It’s been super important for me to stop, look around, and appreciate what this season has brought me.

"I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open." - United Pursuit

During Sanctuary Night at the halfway point in the semester, I was about to do just that. I was reminded how strong I am because God is strong within me (Philippians 4:13). A United Pursuit song played during Sanctuary Night that reminded me of the literal strength I have, the persistence I am capable of harnessing...& the beautiful reward God always provides to those who take the narrow path. 


This past summer I had the opportunity to chaperone a group of high schoolers on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. We hiked up a mountain called Avalanche Peak, easily the most difficult hike I’ve ever done. It involved loose shale at the top, switchbacks, mosquitos at the bottom, snow at the top, and a couple complaining voices that were learning what hiking up 2,034’ in 4.6 miles (17-45% grade) made your legs feel like. For a while, I had to time how long we could go before need to stop and rest...then try for 30 seconds more the next time, until we had a steady pace that helped us get to the top before lunchtime. It was quite literally an uphill battle, BUT there were BEAUTIFUL moments along the way! For example, a clearing on a side of the mountain that we could see all the way down to are tiny red dot of a van… or when one of the students shared their journey with a heart condition and how this hike represented so much more than just a fun, pretty experience. We all kept making our way up the single path available, to the top... and once we did, WOW. I got to the highest point and sat down on a pile of rock, then took my shoes off. I rested in that pure moment.

For me, this semester was a mountain. I learned that I had to make sure to keep pushing forward to get to the top. To do it well, I needed Jesus. All of our mountains look different. School, work, relationships, cleaning, housing contracts, family responsibilities, finances, health, extra leadership roles…they can feel like uphill climbs! Sanctuary night helped me surrender all of my responsibilities to Someone who never fails us and never gives up on us, who can handle all of those things and more. I needed to put my hands wide open, letting it be okay to be REAL with God, letting Him fill me up with hope and strength, letting Him take all my burdens, letting Him love me, letting Him have control over what happened. Then resting in that.

God provided some magnificent views along the way this semester. And oh, look, I’m at that end point and it’s beautiful...but there are more mountains ahead. Good thing we have Jesus, right? If we leave our hands open, accepting His will & trusting in His strength, we can get through it all.

Here’s to almost being done with this semester of college and the journeys ahead!

Enjoy a break, soon, to slip off your shoes and take a rest.

Jess Bohnstengel
UNI Senior



What's Happening?

  • CHRISTMAS BASIC // This Thursday, December 7 at 6pm // Nazareth Lutheran Church. Do not go to Lang Hall! // Free soup supper starts at 6pm, followed by a student-led Christmas service at 7pm. Come listen to five students share about "mountains" they have faced in their lives and how Jesus has been faithful to them in the midst of their stories. ALL ARE WELCOME. Email basic@uni.edu if you need a ride! ***Bring a new toy to donate to Christmas at Walnut.
  • VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY  // Saturday, December 9 // A perfect way to ring in the holiday season! Click on the graphic below to see how you can serve in this way!
  • FREE LUNCH // Sunday, December 10 after 10:45am service // Orchard Hill Church //  Last College-age lunch of the semester! Come fill your stomachs and take home leftovers as your prepare for finals week.
  • WAVERLY FINALS STUDY NIGHT // Tuesday, December 12 from 6pm - 12am // 211 W. Bremer // Get away from campus and come hang out with us! We will supply you will all of your finals week needs --- coffee, pop, snacks, wifi, tv, couches, and friends!

 (Click on any of the graphics below for more details!)

 christmas basic2017updated

Christmas in Walnut TOYS

Free College Age Lunch Christmas Ham

Waverly finals study night

Get in touch

Location & Time

We meet on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in Lang Hall at 8pm when school is in session. Click here for location & directions.


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