Friday, June 27, 2014

What's the storyline of your life? #shesharestruth #shereadstruth

What? Two posts in a week? This may not have happened since I started nursing school.

But we're having a quiet morning and I'm enjoying a second cup of coffee. I have an assignment to finish today and I "work" (nursing externship) a 12-hour overnight shift tonight. So I'm taking some me time.

I have really been enjoying the She Reads Truth series on Ruth. If you haven't checked out the She Reads Truth bible studies, I highly recommend you do. They aren't too long, but usually rich in content and the ladies do their exegetical homework. (A fancy word that means properly studying and understanding scripture---that's the seminary degree coming out in me). I have a link to their homepage on my iPhone and am excited for the app they are working on.

Today’s #SheSharesTruth assignment is this:

Is there a discrepancy between the names by which Jesus calls you and the names you give yourself? Are there circumstances in your life to which you are giving undue power, power that rightfully—and in reality!—belongs to our sovereign God alone?  Sister, who names you today—your God or your circumstances? 

Naomi experienced tremendous loss and tragedy in her life and told her friends to call her Bitter. "Naomi believed in her head that God was sovereign, but she was too soul weary to believe it with her heart."

None of us are immune to this. We allow the circumstances of life and sometimes the people around us to change our name. Like Naomi, we decided who we are based on our circumstances.

What are the names you have been called by? Maybe not literally, but in your soul. Reflect on some of the difficult times in your life, perhaps you are in the midst of one right now. What are the labels you feel?

Shauna Niequist spoke an incredible message (click to listen) several months ago called "Storyline." She talked about how we become defined by the stories of our life and we carry them with us for years, but how with God we can change the story. It's much like what Naomi was doing, carrying her story of loss and bitterness and choosing to be defined by it.

Shauna said: "What are the stories you’ve been carrying with you for a long time? What would it look like if you were to let them go? And what stories might God be already trying to tell in your life?"

The story I carry with me? It's a story of not being enough. Of feeling sidelined and not validated in who I am. A story of unused gifts and a longing to be truly seen.

And this story has flavored years of my life. It has impacted my friendships and how I conduct myself. Because I never quite feel like enough. Because stories in my life have told me that I am not enough.

But that is untrue. Because in Christ, I am more than enough. I am valued and he SEES me. God has been by my side in every episode of my story. And he has carried me and sustained me.

So, I decided to change my story. I have been asking God to remove that "not enough" label from my soul. He has shown me various situations where I have allowed the label to flavor my words and actions. I am very aware that I read "not enough" into various situations in my life.

Slowly, sometimes very slowly, my name and my story are changing. I am enough. I am valued. I am loved. I am worthy.

First we need to identify the names we have taken on and the circumstances we have allowed to define our storyline. And you probably have every right to feel the way you do. You have walked a hard road, like Naomi did. No one could fault her for feeling bitter.

But we are not named named by our circumstances. We are named by our good God. God wants to tell a new story in your life. He wants to give you a new name. To weave your brokenness, your wounds and scars into a story of healing and redemption. To fill you up once again and bring rejoicing into your soul.

Never once has God left our story unfinished or unredeemed. Who we become and what we appreciate come from some of our darkest days.

He will restore your life and sustain you. (Ruth 4:15)

P.S. What's really ironic is that when I went to Shauna's website just now to link it here, her most recent blog entry is about "loved, known, welcome, enough." Thanks God. I'm getting it. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

dear daughters, we can do hard things

Dear Girls,

We are 41 days from my last final. This summer is hard, like we knew it would be. Your dad and I have no time together, which means we bicker more than usual. Which usually is never. By the end of each day, you all are fried and need extra mama time. The last two weekends I've basically been MIA for 2.5 days--working 12 hour nights and then sleeping during the day only to wake up and do it one more time. Yes, this is probably going to be reality once I have a job, but I won't have daytime school in the mix, so hopefully we will all adjust.

My daughters, you will have to do hard things. You will have to make momentary sacrifices for long term gains. You may have to give up time with your husbands, your children, for a worthy purpose. And it will hurt your heart to no end. You will ask God "why" and wonder if there wasn't a better way. You will wake up each day exhausted, feeling like you never slept. You will live caffeine. You may want to move to Mexico and live in a little shack, just so you can be with your kids all the time.

But girls, you have to trust. You have to trust in the God who leads you, the God who holds you, the God who strengthens you and will never forsake you. You have to trust that when you made the decision to embark upon a journey (whatever it may be) that it was God directing you and that means he will carry you. Day by day, moment by moment. He is with you.

I have had to say "no" to you far more than I would like already this summer. But I'm saying "no" now, so that I can say yes in the future. Yes to fun family outings and yes to playing a board game with you. Yes to camps and activities. I just want to be able to say yes.

Hang in there girls. Hang in there with me this summer. Hang in there when you are walking this path yourself. Don't let go. You are stronger than you think. You can do this.

We can do this.

Love, Mama

Friday, May 23, 2014

dear daughters, what I hope you see through me

As I embark upon my last semester of nursing school, which is sure to be a whirlwind 10 weeks, I find myself especially retrospective. I don't want to forget the lessons I've learned on this journey--from beginning to end. More importantly, I want to pass these lessons on to my three daughters. So I've decided to do my best to document my thoughts and feelings in letters to my girls this summer. 

Dear Daughters,

When we started this journey as a family you were 8, 5 and 3. Now as we get ready to end it you are 10, 7 and 5. You have grown up and changed so much in these two years. You are old enough to remember mom being in nursing school and what it was like for our family. You will remember that mom wasn't home some nights and she had to study a lot. Every day you asked "is it a mama day?" wondering who would be taking you to school, picking you up and putting you to bed at night. My favorite days are always mama days.

And soon, there will be no more studying, no more nursing school. We will find a new normal as (prayerfully and quickly) mama finds a nursing job.

But this was not just a season to get through. It was a time of stretching and growth. Learning and sometimes floundering. So as I begin this series of letters, here are some things I hope you see through me that you will one day be able to apply to your own lives.

1. You can do it. Whatever it is, however hard you think it will be...if you want it bad enough, if it is the right thing, if God's blessing is on it, you can do it.

2. Don't be afraid to make changes, even when it seems against the norm. Yes I spent 10 fulfilling years in a career, but that didn't make it the right one for the rest of my life. Yes I have two degrees and the student loans to go along with them that I was applying. But I was ready, we were ready and God was calling for a change to be made. And we are doing it.

3. You CAN be a full time mom and a full time student or employee. Having a job or being in school does not make you a part time mom. You are always a full-time mom. If you are able to focus on your home and children alone, realize what an incredible blessing and privilege that is. But if you want to work, have to work---that's okay too. You will cherish your times with your children all the more. [Well, some of the time. They will still drive you crazy and exhaust you, but you will still love it.]

4. You need a home team. No matter what stage of adulthood you are in, you need a home team. Maybe it's your dorm floor, or your roommates or long-time friends along with your family. You can't do it alone and you need people. We couldn't have made it without the friends and family who have stepped up to help in various ways along our journey.

5. Just because it's right, doesn't make it easy. Going to nursing school was the right thing for me, for our family. But it's been challenging and downright hard at times. You will wonder if you are doing the right thing because it seems so hard. As I wrote a little more than a year ago "August 2014 will be here before I know it". And now, graduation is 73 days away. It wasn't always easy, but it was right.

These are just a few things, dear daughters, I hope you see through me and this experience.

More to come, Love Your Mama

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Three things thursday

I'm sitting in the office of a director of a nursing unit waiting for a meeting to start. I'm just an observer, learning about leadership. It's not my favorite clinical experience, but part of the degree.

So why not write quickly about three things on my mind.

1. Fragmented. Overwhelming. Unpredictable. That's what this semester is. But it's half over and Spring Break is a week away so I'm trying to focus on the positive. I'm pretty Type A and like routine. Every week I seem to have a different class schedule, which impacts the childcare schedule, which causes me to be in a constant internal frenzy.

2. Tomorrow will be my first night home all week. It's pure chaos. Two nights were school related. And I went to a volunteer orientation at a hospital because I need one more thing to do. Really I don't, but it's all about beefing up the résumé and making connections so I can get a job. Tonight we have 2 practices and then Open House. The kids are fried by the end of the week too.

3. Trust me. That's what God told me this morning as I was listing my complaints about, well about everything. How I wish life was different, that I miss my family and my friends. How I'm tired of waiting for his promises and all the questions I have about my journey in life. I'm excited to be a nurse. But sometimes I miss being a pastor. And I wonder why I have two degrees in ministry and now I'm starting a new career. It wasn't really a whisper. It was a strong admonition. To TRUST. To trust God and his paths and purposes. To trust that he will provide a job--because every week all we talk about in nursing school is how hard it is to get a new grad job. But I need to trust. Because He said so.

My life right now. In a nutshell.

And believe me, it's nuts.

Friday, March 7, 2014

#shesharestruth: psalm 130

I have enjoyed doing several She Reads Truth plans over the last year or so. I appreciate the truth shared and hearing from several different voices on the same topic.

During Lent this year they are asking their readers to share on Fridays and link up.

This week, Psalm 130 is the text to share on. Verses 5-8 really speak to me.

5 I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope.
6 I am looking andwaiting for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, I say, more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is mercy andloving-kindness, and with Him is plenteous redemption.
8 And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

Waiting. Hoping.

We spend a lot of life waiting and hoping.  Without hope, what do we have? When we are walking through the deep trials of life, hope is our only lifeline, even when it is just a thread. We wait for the answers, for understanding, for things to change, for time and seasons to pass.

As I was waiting for a new season of life to begin, I clung to Romans 4:18.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.

There was no hope. But still Abraham in hope believed.

Let me share a few phrases from the next several verses. [Amplified Version]

He did not weaken in faith. His body was as good as dead. The barrenness of Sarah's [deadened] womb.  

Abraham knew his body was as good as dead. Impotent. Sarah's womb was dead. They were OLD. There was no hope. No way that these two bodies would produce offspring. 

But against all hope, he still believed. 

Why? Because God made him a promise. And Abraham believed. God made a strong covenant with Abraham, basically swearing on Himself 
that he wouldn't break his own covenant.

No unbelief or distrust made him waver.

The faith of Abraham is incredible. He knew the definition of waiting. Hoping in the Lord. Counting on him.

Romans 4:20 tells us that he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God. 

Often we wait with impatience, grumbling and complaining. Natural emotions in difficult situations. 

But what a challenge Abraham gives us. What if we did a better job of giving praise and glory to God? What if instead of complaining and throwing a pity party, we put on some worship music? Instead of storming and stomping through the day we practiced gratitude?

Perhaps our faith would grow and our hope wouldn't waiver so much.

(A short aside. I agree with every word that Paul says here and the sum of Abraham's life was one of faith and hoping against hope. But we can't forget that Abraham did have a moment of weakness in his faith that produced Ishmael. And we may birth some Ishmael's too as we wait for God to keep his promises. We may get off track, and when we find we have, we simply need to return to God's original promises and believe in his complete fulfillment of them.)

Abraham was "fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised." [Rom. 4:21]

Perhaps you are waiting on God to fulfill promises in Scripture. Maybe God has given you a specific promise that seems impossible. You may be claiming His Word and not seeing it come to pass.

Don't give up. Hope AGAINST hope. Wait. Count on the Lord. He is faithful and He is mighty. He keeps his promises. He gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were [Rom. 4:17]. 

Hope may seem gone. But He can bring the ruins to life.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

some recent favorite pictures

This holiday season we didn't just have one but TWO family photo sessions with extended family. Lucky us.

I know looking back I will appreciate the chronicling of life and holidays. But currently it's a lot of work and sweat and tears and stress.

My kids are pretty cute though. And 12+ years later I still like my husband.

Here's some of my favorites.

Can you tell she was a little annoyed with me in this picture? Fake smile! But I still love it.

Feats of strength! He is fun.

My sister was in town and straightened Gracie's hair and she was so in love with it. 

 This girl. This smile. This cheesy face. I cannot handle how much I love her and the joy and life she brings to life and our family. Thank you Jesus for knowing we needed her and her sparkles.

 I miss when she wore her hair down. I only get to see it down after a shower. It's long and has great "beach-y" curls. But I love how this photo turned out because it captures a bit of her hair and her grin.

 The freckles. The green eyes. The hair. I just love her.

Sass-a-frass. When your little girl requests to wear a red sequin dress for holiday pictures, why say no? It's all her and shows the life she brings with her.

And a few more from shoot #2.

I love this capture of her eyes.

These are a few iPhone photos. Unfortunately we discovered this fabulous big door when the photographer and good camera had already gone ahead.

My sisters. We are so very different and yet quite alike as well. Exactly as my daughters are.

My family. My everything!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

a new respect for school office employees

I don't know about your school districts, but we have very few "school nurses" in our area. Budget cuts have done away with this position. There are still some who travel from school to school but gone are the days of an R.N. being in the Nurse's Office at school.

Most of the time it's the office employees who function as nurse. They call if your child is injured, or not feeling good and need to come home. Sure, they know this is now part of their position and most of the time they probably deal with fairly minor situations.

But sometimes, they get quite a bit more than they signed up for.

Especially when this one ends up in your office.

 She's fierce.

Wednesday morning she was up at 6am saying her stomach hurt. But she was still her goofy self, talkative and energetic. She ate breakfast and only complained once or twice more about her stomach--so I didn't give it much thought.

At 10:45am when I saw a call coming through from her school, I cringed. Sure enough they told me she was in the office, crying with a stomachache. I was at school, an hour away--but thankfully my babysitter was able to pick her up early.

Around 10:55am another call came through. Yes, Lily did vomit and yes it was "quite a lot." I assured them the babysitter was on her way and would be there shortly. The woman I was talking to said Mrs. X would be there when the babysitter arrived. I didn't give that statement much thought.

I decided to leave school early instead of have Bean come home. So an hour later I was with my girl who was definitely sick with a stomach virus.

Lily was very distraught that she couldn't eat "lunch or dinner or breakfast?" Even though she was vomiting water. Girl still wanted to eat.

We got through the worst yesterday and it was a difficult start to the night, but of course as soon as she was in bed with me (and Bean was freezing and uncomfortable on our broken couch) she slept like a log.

This morning Lily was more chatty and started telling me things like "there was orange in my throw up" (she had just finished a tangerine for a snack) and "the nurse said it was okay because she lived close to the school and can go home to take a shower and change her clothes."

Whoa...rewind that please.

She was going home to change? Because my child vomited on her. My babysitter had mentioned they told her the vomit was also projectile.

This just gets better. Or actually worse.

Shortly after this conversation I needed to call the school to report her absence. As soon as I said her name the woman who answered the phone asked how she was doing and said she was the one who called me yesterday. I also found out that Lily was very upset that she threw up and was crying and asking if she needed to have surgery.

So the poor vomit-covered school secretary is comforting my sick child and assuring her that she won't need surgery simply because she threw up. (can we say a little PTSD from her fevers and tonsillectomy?)

Mrs. P was so gracious on the phone and brushed off the fact that she had to leave to shower and change after my child vomited on her.

Clearly I will be bringing thank-you's and gifts into the office in the near future.

And praying that she doesn't get the flu. Because everyone I know who's had it or come into close contact has had it wipe through their entire house.

I am on pins and needles waiting to see who goes down next in our house.

All that to say---I have a new respect for the ladies (and yes, the gentleman too) who work in school offices. They provide so much to our children.

As a soon to be nurse, I know I'm signing up to be covered in all sorts of bodily fluids. Many of these office ladies started when there were nurses and this is a new role for them.

So thank you ladies (and gents) of the school office. Hopefully you can look back and laugh and be entertained by our sweet Lilybug.

She really is a love.