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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

they wear us, so we must wear Him

I was going through my blog drafts and found this one from a few years ago that I never completed. So I did tonight, since the main idea was already there. A very good reminder for me.

They wear my high heels.
They wear my running shoes
They throw a towel over their shoulders just like him.
They wear his hat.

They wear us.

They wear the examples we set.  They mimic our voices, our words, our tones.  They clap to get each other's attention, just like we do when they aren't listening or obeying.

They comfort one another, just like we comfort them.

They yell at each other, just as we are guilty of yelling at them.

They wear us.

The most important thing for us to wear is Christ. 

To speak His words. To put on His attitude. To let love cover a multitude of wrongs and forgive seventy times seven. Because sometimes we want to hang on to their disobedience and let our anger fester.

To demonstrate grace and patience. 

I'm ashamed to say that isn't always the case. 

But I don't need to feel ashamed, because His grace covers me too.

And it covers you too.

But, we still must remember to wear Christ.

Because they are listening and copying and wearing us.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What 5 years feels like

They say the days are long but the years are short. It's hard to focus on the years when you are sleep-deprived, touched out and hanging on by a thread.

They say to cherish every moment and your kids will be grown before you know it. Does that mean I'm supposed to cherish when I'm sitting on the couch nursing a baby while a toddler wreaks havoc in my living room and a preschooler complains of boredom? Do I cherish the messes, the cleaning, the days that are like the song that never ends and Groundhogs day?

It's hard. Feels impossible. This I know.

But I will tell you, there is some perspective that comes when your first and last children have birthdays just days apart. Because history repeats itself. And in my case, history is 5 years ago, but it doesn't feel that way.

5 years ago feels like yesterday.

5 years ago I was largely pregnant with my 3rd baby. We were in the process of moving into a house we just bought with my parents, that required some rehab to be livable. We would be embarking upon a construction project to build a granny flat attached to the house for my parents.

Did I mention I worked almost full-time? While full-time mothering (because whether you work or not, you are still a full time mom) an almost 5-year-old and a 21-month-old.

5 years ago I squeezed my 35-week pregnant body into a kindergarten-sized chair while keeping reign on my toddler, to listen to an orientation about an early-kindergarten program my oldest would be starting the next day. My sweet girl cried the first few days I left her, but loved her time in the classroom.

(can we talk about how short and straight Gracie's hair was?)

(can we talk about how Miss Rose chose to wear this High School Musical shirt for her first day of school...although I'm not sure she'd even seen the movie...and even though she doesn't have a shirt, Lily is currently watching this movie on Netflix all the time.)

Just a few weeks later we moved into our house on a Saturday. Miss Rose turned 5 on Monday and Lily Cate decided she wanted to join the family on Tuesday. Her entrance was delayed until Wednesday. But my oldest and my youngest have birthdays 5 years and 2 days apart.

And last week, history repeated itself. This particular early-Kindergarten program is for kids who will be 5 by March, so Gracie didn't qualify (April birthday). There has been something quite surreal about Lily having the same experiences as Miss Rose, at the same age, but my life and role in motherhood is so different.

I am doing it all over again, exactly 5 years later.

I sat in a classroom (thank you Ms. Gibson for the adult-sized chair) with my soon to be 5-year-old and listened to a similar speech about the program. My other children were in school, so it was just me and the Bug this time.

The next day when we dropped her off for her first day she contemplated crying for a hot second, but set her face and followed her teacher in. Every day after she has run to get in line and although she wants lots of hugs and kisses, she greets school with enthusiasm.

This transition is a bit difficult for me. My oldest is about to be in double digits my youngest is turning 5 and starting school. I have no more babies. And I LOVED my babies. I would love more babies. But I would need to live in a much cheaper state or another country, with a much bigger house and my husband would probably need a lobotomy.

Can I just tell you how fast 5 years goes? It's the blink of an eye.

But I feel like it was just yesterday I was deep in nursing, diapers, potty-training, Cheerios and sippy cups. I miss it. I truly do.

Like all things in life, it is bittersweet. Because I drop off Lilybug and I have 3.5 hours that are my own. I can run or exercise without stopping a DVD 8 times to get snacks, drinks and referee arguments. "Running" into Target truly can take 10 minutes. Because I'm not stopping to let kids browse the dollar section or making quick trips into the restroom.

Yet, when I get home though, it's really quiet. And I'm still getting used to that. I love the quiet of the night when the kiddos are sleeping. But not so much the quiet of the morning when I have no babies and and all my kids are in school.

So to you who is deep in the years of motherhood that are so demanding of your physical energy and your presence, it's hard and you're tired. I was. But you will blink and it will be 5 years from now. So co-sleep one more night. Nurse another month. Don't worry about the ground in Cheerios in the carpet or that you haven't showered or changed your yoga pants in a few days. You are a mom of littles. It comes with the territory.

It's a mess. But it's a beautiful mess. And 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. They do pass quickly.

So hang this sign above your door, or at least in your heart.

And let your life be a beautiful mess. The mess won't always be there. And when you look back, as I have been, it's the beauty and preciousness that stands out. Embrace the day. Embrace the mess. Embrace the beauty.

one of the happiest moments of my life. my three loves.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Here's to a new year

I'm blowing the dust off this little blog and wiping down the corners. No promises that it will stay this way, but I always have a lot on my mind and so why not blog a little for the new year.

As I reflect back on 2013, it was a lot of things. It was exciting as I started my first semester of nursing classes in January and it was very hard as I completed 15 units in 10 weeks during the summer. Some days I feel like I'm getting this nursing thing and other days I feel like there is still so much to learn. And there is. But I love nursing and can't wait to see where it takes me.

I never documented it on the blog, but last year I chose a word and verse for the year. 


I clung to hope and this verse all year. Hope in the promises of God. Hope in the things he whispered to my soul. Hope for the future. Hope for the new things God is preparing for me. Hope that we would survive nursing school. I still absolutely love this verse.

A few weeks ago I started to think about 2014 and to ask God what he might be calling me to focus on. I gave up "resolutions" a few years ago. I enjoy the idea of a fresh start, of new goals but I don't really make resolutions. But I believe God can use our calendar year to teach us new things and to show us how he wants us to grow.

Almost immediately the idea of seeking God more was planted in my heart. I read a quote from Angie Smith about her new book Chasing God that struck me as well: "We've made a mess by desiring to understand him more than we want to know him." 

This past 18 months has been a huge faith walk for our family as I quit my job, took out loans and went to nursing school. It's been a juggle of schedules and times, tight budgets and high stress. I have spent an incredible amount of time asking God for help, for provision, for patience, for strength--for myself, for my husband and my children; along with interceding for friends and family with heavy burdens and great need.

All of these are good things. But I'm afraid I've become wrapped up in the gift and forgotten to focus on the Giver. I've been seeking the answers to prayer and not seeking the one who answers my prayers. It's been with the best of intentions and I absolutely want God more than anything else in life. But I worry I'm a little off track. I look in God's word for his words of assurance and comfort in time of need. 

But what of Him? What of following after him and trying to be more like him? His word promises us that if we seek him first everything else falls into place (Matthew 6:33). My favorite scripture verse since high school as been Psalm 37:4; delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. I loved that all I needed to do was delight in the Lord, to know him and seek him, to worship and adore him, and he'd give me my heart's desires. (In fact I had the phrase "my heart's desire" engraved in Bean's wedding band). But the last few years, my focus has turned towards making sure God knew the desires of my heart and looking for the fulfillment of them.

So this year, I'm going to seek God and him alone, with all my heart.

Of course I will pray about the needs in our life and friends and family as well. Sometimes that's how the burdens of our hearts are relieved, to verbalize them to God. 

But first and foremost, I want to seek the Lord.

This verse quickly was planted in my heart, even though I needed to look up where exactly it was in the Bible.
My heart is definitely telling me to seek the face of the Lord, and so his face I will seek. Jeremiah 29:13 promises that we will find God if we seek him with all of our heart.

I want to find God in a new way this year. I want to know more. I want to delight in him again.

Chasing God came in the mail yesterday and I'm already two chapters in. I downloaded Revealing Jesus by Darlene Zschech (one of my heroes and role models) on sale for just a few dollars to my Kindle app (it's on sale currently for under $6). I have a bunch of books on my Kindle to read this year to further my pursuit of knowing Christ more. 

Here's to a New Year, to seeking the face of God, to knowing him more, to finding him and always being amazed at his grace on me and all of us.