Sunday, December 21, 2014

in progress: manifesto 2015

It's been a few years since I made actual New Years Resolutions. Aren't they always the same anyways? Get healthier (whatever your version and method of this is), spend more time with loved ones, work on personal and career goals and a list of books to read. At least I know for many years I felt like my resolutions were always the same. 

However, I do have desires and goals for 2015--as we all do. There are things I want to change and do differently. But many of these things are a process, part of a journey. There is very little that can be done all at once or a change that can be made instantaneously. Often the curve balls of life derail resolutions, as so they should. Let's say you are a new-ish runner with a lofty racing goal. With proper training and dedication, you could resolve to meet that goal, and successfully accomplish it. But what if you fall ill, have an unexpected surgery or get pregnant? What do you do now about that resolution. 

The word "manifesto" came to me today. Merriam-Webster defines manifesto as " a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group." If part of your manifesto for the year is to gain health through fitness, you can adapt your regimen to your restrictions and time needed for recovery in the case of a medical situation. 

What if I developed a manifesto for this next year? 

I do realize that this is a case of semantics. Resolutions and manifesto could be viewed quite similarly. But to me resolutions are this list of things you want to do (or not do) that are often quite specific. A manifesto speaks more to a way of being, to goals that may be broader and not so specific.

It's my blog and I can write a manifesto if I want to. 

I am ready for the turn of the year. I am ready for a new chapter and a new start. I am done with waiting and wondering. I want to look to the future with a new career and a budget that can balance and meet the needs of my family. 

I love this definition of a personal manifest found here:
A personal manifesto is a declaration of your core values and beliefs, what you stand for, and how you intend to live your life. It functions both as a statement of principles and as a call to action.

If a goal isn't tied to personal principles and doesn't also have a call to action attached, then I can almost guarantee it won't be met. 

Maybe there are some things you want to change in 2015. Maybe you are tired of making resolutions and need to write a manifesto for the year that is reflective of your principles and the action you want to take to make sure they reflected in your life. 

Consider a manifesto for this next year. A statement of what is important to you without the specifics of how you will accomplish it--because life happens and things change.

Frame this next year with intentions that reflect who you are and what is important to you.

Friday, December 12, 2014

waiting and running

It's another midnight posting. I'm almost halfway through my shift tonight and oh how I would love to be in my own bed. I'm "sitting" with a patient tonight who needs supervision, the sweetest 2 year old who has spent way too much time in the hospital in her short life. Sometimes I like sitting because I get to read and talk to God and watch TV and surf the internets. But after a while there is nothing new to find on the internets and even TV gets boring and my brain can't process an intellectual book and I resort to cheesy "inspirational romances."

My life these days feels like a lot of waiting, and a lot of running.

First, on the running. Runner's World Magazine "hosts" a holiday run streak---the goal is to run 1 mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Years. I was running with a friend two days after Thanksgiving and she mentioned the streak. And I talked about how difficult it was to run on the days I have to sleep after nightshift. But then she gently challenged me, "Come on, you could do just 1 mile a day. You do have a treadmill." She was right. One mile a day is 10-15 minutes. 4 laps around my block is just over a mile.

So I decided to take the challenge. I have gotten up at 5am and run laps around my block (because I won't run any further from home alone in the dark). I have put on my running clothes after sleeping all day and raced around the neighborhood, often with my 5-year-old setting the pace. Some days I set out to do a mile, and the 5-year-old wants to go "one more time." So we do.

One day it was raining and I didn't plan well and I could have gone out in the rain. But I only have 1 pair of shoes and didn't want to ruin them for the next day. So I did a DVD instead. Yesterday I had a massive migraine and so I didn't run. I had to remind myself that I'm doing this for me, I'm not a slave to the streak.

The crazy thing is, most days I am running 1-2 miles and yet I am getting faster. I ran 4 miles today at a faster pace than I have since nursing school. These short quick runs are agreeing with me I guess, and if that's how I'll find my running feet again, I'm happy. It's hard to imagine just a few years ago I ran an entire marathon. But I will again one day.

It feels very apropos that during this Advent season, I too am waiting in expectation of things to come. I am grateful for the job I have and the open doors it has afforded me. But I am ready to being my R.N. career, get a paycheck that can actually support us and finally replace my broken couch---among many other things in my house that are falling apart. I interview...and I wait. I think I know what God has for me and where he wants me, but I won't count on it. I will wait until it all is revealed.

Hopefully in early January I will be offered an R.N. job, which will begin mid-February. Oh the waiting is so hard. I feel stuck, in the in between, in the middle place. Not there, but not quite here either. The whole interview and waiting process is exhausting and consuming.

I'm not always a patient person, especially with myself. I am not accomplishing things I want to or feeling as productive in my everyday life as I would like. Although today I did "curb dive" and pick up 3 white laminate awful shelves to finally get my kids books out of boxes after a room re-arrange. I need to Pinerest how to fix those things up. But they are serving their purpose. So that was productive today.

Sometimes I feel like I'm lazy, or a procrastinator or just scatterbrained. I may be a little of all that---but the truth is I am in a waiting season and it's causing me to be a bit stuck in other areas of my life. This is a truth I need to accept and give myself grace for.

Plus, raising three school-age children? It's exhausting people! They need conversation and interaction. Supervision of school work and follow through. And they hate taking showers, cleaning up after themselves and are allergic to putting their dirty laundry actually IN the basket. Just how many times do I need to tell them to bring their lunches to the kitchen, hang up their backpacks and FOR THE LOVE put your shoes and dirty socks away! Every day. All day. Or at least that's how it feels.

I am still not sure how I feel about this grown up thing. I am days away from being 37-1/2, which is almost 38 which means I am *this close* to 40. I never imagined my life at 40, so I don't know what to expect. I don't know what grown up me, raising growing children should look like.

I guess I'm just figuring it out as I go. Running and waiting. Embrace the day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

dear daughters, what to be thankful for {thanksgiving 2014}

My dear daughters,

I don't want Thanksgiving to be a single day of the year. I think it's a wonderful holiday to truly reflect on the thanks we have given through the 12 months prior. But giving thanks is a way of life, a daily habit we need.

I hope and pray that your dad and I are instilling true gratitude in your lives, although I'm not quite sure you get it yet. Although today Miss Rose learned from Auntie Robin that because she had a meal in the last 24 hours, has a roof over her head and her family has at least one vehicle she is in the top 10% (I think that's the number) of the nation.

Girls, you may not have everything you WANT, but as you look back on your life you will see that you will have all that you need. And the list of things you need doesn't contain the latest technology or wheeled toy or doll that looks like you. 

The true blessings of God come in the form of family and friends who fill our lives with life and color.  Stuff is just stuff, but the true value of life is found in our people and the God who's grace is lavished upon us daily.

I pray that you have your people. I pray that we, your family, are your first people. But we are not all you need. I pray in years to come, you are blessed with dear friends from all the seasons of your life. And with the advent of social media, you'll probably get to keep in touch with them too, if you want to.

Joy is friends spending holidays with you from out of town. Happiness is seeing your children play with the children of your friends. It is the close friendships your children share with cousins and the friends who have become family. What a blessing to call my sisters and my brother, my sister-in-laws and my brother-in-laws among my closest friends. Contentment is exchanging text messages with friends near and far.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God and he does give us the desire of our hearts. May the desires of your hearts my sweet girls, be for family and friends who are always on your side, who are your home team, your safe place. Without each other, we have nothing.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up...a cord of three strands is not easily broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

Friday, November 14, 2014

It's not that I'm lazy

For two years now, many of my mental to-do lists and projects to complete have started with the words "when I graduate from nursing school..." There was no time or mental energy to take on projects, to organize or do things around my home that I have pinned on Pinterest. Come on, I know I'm not the only one with a few hundred (or thousand) pins of things I have yet to attempt. But doesn't stop me from pinning more. 

I have been done with school for more than three months now. For the first time in motherhood, all three of my children are in school and a few days a week I have several hours to myself.

The empty walls in my house scream to me that they want the cool prints and frames I have pinned. The cluttered closets want to be organized. The kitchen counter perpetually piled high with papers from school, mail, and other paraphernalia is a thorn in my side. Drawers and cupboards need to be wiped down and put in order once again.

The truth is, I have done nothing. Well, I don't call working full-time, keeping up the daily life of the house and raising 3 kids nothing. But I've done no extra projects or tasks.

Some days I feel guilty. And disappointed in myself.I wonder if I'm wasting time and why I'm so unproductive. A voice whispers that I'm lazy.

While the day will come when I will tackle these projects, I believe right now I am choosing the one thing that is most important. I am saying yes to what I truly need and saying no for now to adding more. It's not that I'm lazy, but my priorities have nothing to do with outward appearance or the satisfaction of checking things off my two-year-old to do list.

The days I am home and not sleeping after a nightshift, I spend a lot of time with Jesus and a cup of coffee. Usually it's my second cup of coffee, the first being consumed while making lunches (the bane of my existence). I am amazed by how quickly my devotional time passes. Lately, I could easily spend 2-3 hours soaking up the presence of God.

I have found myself identifying in a new way with the Psalmist when he says "as the deer pants for water, so my soul longs for thee." I just want to sit with Jesus. To talk to him and journal. To read His word and words he inspired in others. So I turn on my Bethel Music Pandora station and pour my heart out before the Lord and let him pour into me.

My heart's desire is to hear the voice of God and to do His will in every area of my life. I was reminded recently that knowing God's voice requires time spent with him. Understanding what he's doing in my life requires knowing him more.

This is where a good portion of my "extra" time is spent. And I don't feel guilty about it. Much like a dating relationship, true intimacy and deep knowledge of the other cannot come without the passage of time and a quantity of time spent together. In many seasons I have focused on quality time with God at the expense of quantity. But both are required. And I am so enjoying my time with the lover of my soul.

Slowly but surely I see what he's doing in me. I am more confident of his voice. I am trusting him more. I am more patient and calm. More of Jesus just makes me want more of him.

This season is about finding a new rhythm and He is the composer.

Friend, don't feel guilty about what you aren't doing--if what you are doing is more important and you have chosen what is best in this moment. The true goal in life is to know Jesus and make Him known. No pin on Pinterest trumps that. What is God calling you to focus on right now? Don't let anything, no matter how good it seems, distract you.

I do look forward to the day I actually get prints on my wall and have curtains in my kitchen (although after 6 years strong of none, I feel like I need to stay strong in this trend--sorry neighbors).  All of the things on my project list are good things. But they just don't seem to be what is important right now.

We need Him more.

I need you more, more than anything. 

Parts of these reflections inspired by The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

31 days of...not much blogging

As usual, I was industrious in thinking I could actively participate in the 31 Days challenge. Yes, I've been working to find my rhythm. Some progress has been made. But blogging is a luxury, a hobby that is quite low on the priority list currently. And finding a rhythm has meant being purposeful about my time.

But, in the spirit of the journey, here is a post to tie up this month and my experiences.

The beginning of the month felt extremely challenging. My work schedule and life seemed to leave me little time for anything and quite exhausting. But I found myself more aware of life and the periods of time that presented challenges and the distractions in my day. I saw where I was most off-beat and discordant.

I have had to extend myself a lot of grace.

The last few weeks I've felt a bit more rhythmic. I'm learning what work schedule is most conducive to life. As I make my schedule going into the future I am keeping this in mind. Having 2-4 nights off in a row is important. Having a few weekend days off each month is too. I try to have the house and the family prepared for my shifts.

My kids have gotten used to the way I make their sandwiches and pack their lunches. Daddy just doesn't do it the same way. And while I am fine with telling them to eat it anyway--if I can make their lunches ahead of time, it's one less thing for Daddy to do and one less complaint I have to entertain. Hey---my kids ask for a lot I have to say no to right now, but I can say yes to this.

This morning while making their lunches I make 2 sets of sandwiches and packed up double the other lunch items. So tonight when I'm working, Bean just has to assemble their lunches. This is just one simple example of the new routines I am finding.

Time with God each day is so crucial. It helps my mood, my patience level and gives me peace in my soul. I am working on getting up early enough to have my devotional time before the morning routine begins. But I'm not a great morning person and so far sleep is winning. My time with God is typically after I get the kids off to school. The more time I spend with God, the more time I want to spend with Him.

I've started running again, as well as other forms of exercise. Physical activity increases my energy, puts me in a good mood and feeds my soul. I have been so NOT in the rhythm of exercise that it's taking discipline to do it regularly again. But I don't have any excuses anymore, especially on the days I don't work and the kids are in school. I am a happier person when I exercise, so I know it's important to be disciplined and make it a non-negotiable. Some days it's a short neighborhood walk or a DVD workout at home. I tailor it to the day and my energy levels--what counts is I'm doing it.

Time with friends is so important to me. I went from working in an office with people I loved hanging out with, to spending 3-4 days a week with my nursing school buddies. Now the majority of my time is spent with my three little minions. I love them dearly, but mama needs friends! So I have been reaching out to the friends I've missed and not been able to spend time with. Meeting for coffee or breakfast, catching up on life and making plans for the next time we will hang out.

I am far from reaching the end of this journey. I have a lot of rhythm to find. There are overflowing closets, broken chairs and messy counter tops that need my attention. Like many, I find myself consumed with dozens of 5-minute tasks that eat up the day. This morning I sat at the computer for two hours, updating my work schedule for our family calendar, sending necessary emails, applying for a job and other small yet important tasks.

But I am learning and discovering. Experimenting and practicing.

The biggest truth I've discovered is that the true rhythm is found within. It won't exist in my schedule, routine or to-do list. I need to be at peace with who I am and where I am at. I need to feed my soul and care for my body. It is then that I find the best rhythm for the day, for the season of life. It is then that I care for my family the best, and that is what this season is truly about. The external is constantly changing. But the soundtrack of my day flows from inside me and I choose the songs with my actions, words and attitudes.

I discovered a new favorite song today, It Is Well sung by Kristin DiMarco. These lyrics resonated so deeply. (and it incorporates the refrain of one of my favorite old hymns)

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you. 
It is well, with me.

The key words there "with me."

When my eyes are fixed on Jesus, through whatever life brings, it can be well.

It is well, with me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

the hard thing about rhythm and learning

I never promised to write 31 posts, although that is usually inherent in this particular blogging challenge.

My true goal is to find a rhythm in my life and record my thoughts along the way. Unfortunately that rhythm doesn't necessarily involved daily blogging. That's one of the hard things about rhythm. You can't always do the things you want to do. I have mentally written countless blog posts and even a few books in the past two years. i have so many things I WANT to do. But they have to wait on the shelf while I establish my rhythm and determine how to make time for them.

The last week has been difficult. I did it to myself really, although with the best of intentions. We schedule ourselves at my job.Which is nice because I can look at my calendar and family obligations and do my best to schedule around them. For instance, I don't schedule myself on Friday nights or Saturday day because we have two soccer games each Saturday--one of which Bean coaches. And if the games are at the same time, we are both needed.

This past week the soccer games were hours apart and the schedule had openings for day shifts on the weekend. And so I scheduled myself to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday days. I managed those three days ok and was happy to at least see my family for a short time each night.

The difficulty arose when Monday morning came. Because I had also committed to my other side job for two days of event childcare. I was lacking physically and emotionally, but I had to suck it up and go.

I'm good at sucking it up. For however long and however much needed. The price comes later, just like a credit card bill demanding to be paid.

Wednesday I was a bit of a basket case. I am in a state of limbo, waiting for results on my nursing board exam. Most get results in a matter of days. And then there are a handful of us who wait weeks---for no apparent rhyme or reason. I was too tired to exercise. I was overwhelmed by how behind I felt in life. I was tired of waiting and not knowing and having to tell people, "I still have no results."

Everything is magnified when I'm in that state. I feel lonely and forgotten. I only can list the ways I'm failing as a wife and parent. I doubt myself, my decisions and my future. I worry about getting hired as a nurse and the impending loan payments for my newest degree. The one I don't yet have the license to go with. I feel like we are so far behind in keeping up with our home and belongings, we will never be able to afford to catch up. Our couch is seriously broken, our mattress is as old as our marriage, the entire family needs fresh bedding and let's not even talk about how fast my kids grow out of clothes and shoes and are constantly wanting to eat.

I had a good cry and then a good time with God, finding my center and my foundation once again. I know I have to take it easy on myself and my schedule when I'm recovering from doing too much. I do what has to be done and leave the rest. It is hard for me to hold back, to not tackle the projects I have or the deep cleaning my house always seems to need.

Thursday I was in a slightly better emotional state, but still feeling so drained. It takes twenty minutes for my eyes to stop being blurry when I wake up in the morning. The kids are lucky I manage to make their lunches correctly as I rub my eyes over and over again trying to force them to fully wake up.

I learned my lesson. I am learning. I won't be committing to so many days of work in a row. I will trust God for provision and remember he doesn't want me to have a breakdown because I am working too much. That's not good for me or my family.

I just started reading The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst and it is just what I need. I am only a few chapters in, but it's giving me so much to reflect upon. I sometimes lack appropriate boundaries and commit to too much--usually for good reasons. But not always the BEST reasons. And I do want to choose what is best. It goes back to Mary and Martha. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better.

I want to choose what's better, the best. In every area of my life.

I also want to sit on the balcony of a cabin on a cool crisp morning drinking coffee while enjoying a view of majestic mountains.

I can dream, right?

Friday, October 3, 2014

31 days to finding rhythm: one thing

 Many of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha, or at least the traits they are known for. Even if you aren't a regular Bible reader, you have probably heard of the Mary's of the world who are less busy and easily focus on just one or two things. And then there are Martha's, who are always multi-tasking, busy and distracted. Mary is usually looked upon favorably and Martha not so much.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-23

Personally, I think both Mary and Martha have their strengths and weaknesses. Because often within our greatest strengths, lie our greatest weaknesses.

I like to be active and busy. I love serving and being involved. I enjoy helping others in small or big ways.

But this means I sometimes, and by sometimes I mean a lot of the time, overextend myself. I underestimate the demands on my time and energy and find myself in over my head, stretched too thin with little margin. I worry too much about what people think and I never want to disrupt or upset others, much less have to say no.

It is my heart of giving and serving that gets me into trouble and has caused burnout more than once in my life. A strength and also a weakness. There is nothing inherently wrong with all the preparations Martha was making, or with the many things that call our attention each day. But sometimes, we get so caught up in those things that we miss the moments and opportunities we can't get back. The dishes will always be there, but my 5 year old who wants to play a game with me (even though she can't stand to NOT give me hints when we play Headbanz) will one day be a 15 year old who may want little to do with me.

A lot of what I do comes out of my heart that loves the Lord and wants to serve Him and love others with His love.  My "Martha tendencies" and my "Mary heart" are sometimes a dangerous combination. And I would guess many struggle with these two sides in us.

A few weeks ago I read this passage and found new meaning for the season of life I'm in.

As I come to terms with finding rhythm instead of establishing routine, I've realized how important it is to look at my day and determine what "one thing" I need to focus on. Perhaps the day has a theme--such as getting caught up on housework and laundry--one thing. Sometimes the "one thing" is for an hour or two. And then it changes.

Because there are always too many things on my to-do list, determining my "one thing" has become essential in my day. Checking things off my to-do list is good, but taking a moment to assess what is most important for that hour, for that day is better and best.

And so I've begun to try to make a habit of looking at my calendar, my to-do list, and asking God--"what is the one thing I should focus on today? Help me to avoid distraction and fragmentation. Help me not be worried and upset about things that don't matter or that I can't control. I want to choose what is better, I want to choose to invest my time and energy into what lasts."

I challenge you to read this passage and seek meaning for your life right now. What does "one thing" mean for you?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

31 days to finding rhythm: already off-beat

It was inevitable, right?
I determine to find a new rhythm in life, and life laughs and tries to throw me off-beat. One my first day of rhythm finding.
My kindergartener came home not looking or feeling too well on Tuesday. By the evening it was clear she was running a fever. And so I spent today mostly on the couch with her, because she is 5 and very attached to mommy when she isn't feeling well. 'Please sit with me mommy" is said many times throughout the day. And how do I say no? I can't and I don't need to.
Because sometimes life dictates the rhythm of the day. I can have great intentions and to-do lists, but when things change as they often do, I need to change my beat. I had some computer work to do, which prevented me from holding Bug's hand all morning, like she also wanted me to do, but I could sit right next to her on the couch and be productive. When the meds were strong and the fever was down I managed to get a few things done around the house and have it picked up and dishes done (big brownie points from the hubs when I do this) before I went to work tonight.
Spending some couch time with the kiddo also gave me some down-time, which I don't usually take on my own.
I learned an important lesson today, this first day of finding my rhythm.
When the rhythm changes, it's okay. Just go with the beat and do what needs to be done. Today I spent time with my sick Bug and was so thankful to be home with her. This is why working nights during the week works for my family. Tomorrow morning I will drive home and Bean will leave for work. Bug will get some quality time with the iPad while mama attempts to get some sleep. And hopefully she will go back to school on Friday.
What matters most at the end of the day is that my family feels loved and cared for by me and that I have served them well.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

31 days to finding rhythm

Life places many demands on us.

Many of these demands are positive in nature. I am blessed to have a house that needs to be clean, three daughters to care for, the ability for my girls to play sports and be involved in various activities.

But these demands can be exhausting. And stuffed in the moments between the must-do's are distractions that take our time and our energy.

Some of us thrive on routine, but no two days are ever the same.

Some of us are more free-flowing in life, but still find ourselves drowning in the daily.

As I embark on a new season of life (more on this in days to come), I've given up on the idea of routine.

But I want to live my life and raise my children with excellence. I want to be purposeful in what I do.

I may not be able to establish a routine.

One of the definitions of the word "rhythm" is

the pattern of regular or irregular pulses caused in music by the occurrence of strong and weak melodic and harmonic beats.

What I like about this defintion is that it emphasizes the regular and irregular, the strong and weak, the melodic and harmonic.

That is everyday life.  Good moments and challenging ones. Days full of accomplishments and days you feel like you just walked in circles and nothing got done. 

And so, during this 31 days of October, I want to explore the idea and methods of finding a rhythm in life. This is my own experiment or rather intention. I have not accomplished or achieved it by any means. As I transition into a new career and my last child has begun school,  I have the opportunity to re-write my moments and patterns. 

Finding a rhythm is going to be crucial for me. And I invite you on this journey with me. 

Already Off-beat
One Thing


Monday, September 8, 2014

whole 30 week 1: during which I drank black coffee for the first time...EVER

One of my "resolutions" for 2014 was to not pressure myself with any special eating or exercise plans. I already eat a gluten-free and mostly Paleo diet, which wouldn't change, because that's how I feel and operate best.  My focus was finishing nursing school along with being the best mom and wife possible, given the demands of the program. I knew that trying to implement some strict diet or intense training program would detract from those priorities.

I confess that several times I mentally tried to follow a stricter eating plan. In my head I'd say "let's try to eat the sugar detox method, but if it doesn't stick, that's ok." And inevitably I'd give in for some dark chocolate or a Larabar on a busy day. Neither bad things, but not sugar-detox friendly.

But now that nursing school is done, I want to focus on my health. It is a HUGE win for me that I did not gain any weight in nursing school. I didn't particularly lose any either, although I fee like my frame might be a little leaner. Food has always been an issue for me and for many years I feel like I have counteracted by intake with exercise. I know now that method truly doesn't work.

When we first started nursing school and were trying on our scrubs to determine what size to order, the representative advised us to get the size that was more generous but not too big because "nursing students always gain weight." That was motivation for me to not!!

I know that I probably have some chronic low grade inflammation in my body--from stress alone! And my gut health has always left something to be desired. I decided a Whole30 would be a good start to getting some things back on track and feeling my best.

So here I am, almost one week down. I'm kinda wondering why I didn't go with the 21-Day Sugar Detox because then I still could have had heavy cream in my coffee.

Notes on my first week of Whole30.

1. Rough start, which is to be expected. But also, I was adding coconut cream to my coffee but realized it was causing a headache...which I researched and found isn't uncommon (it's probably guar gum, a common preservative added). I struggled with sugar cravings and wanting a bite or two of grain-laden things that I usually "sneak" without major ill effects in my body.

2. I ate 3 bananas in one day. I suspect I am dealing with some systemic candida and so I've been trying to limit my carbs and fruit. But I was especially hungry and tired and in the end, eating 3 bananas is hopefully less damaging than a bowl of ice cream, right?

3. I've been adding coconut milk to my coffee instead (no guar gum in the one I bought at Trader Joe's). It's not as yummy as my cream or bulletproof coffee, but it will do. In a perfect world I'd give my body a break from caffeine. But working nights and the caffeine-withdrawl headaches I suffer--I just wasn't ready to face that yet. I don't think coffee is downright unhealthy, but I think it can be good to let your body detox from time to time. I am drinking less coffee however.

4. Working nights helps me stay on track. I only can eat the food I bring with me and I find I'm less hungry at work and when I wake up after sleeping the next day.

5. I drank my first cup of black coffee. It was awful, mostly because it was cheap hospital coffee. But I needed a little caffeine to get me through the night and it just had to do. I need to buy some tea because I prefer that at night.

6. Why does my Costco Rotissiere chicken need sugar added? Since I already had it at home, it wasn't worth not eating--but I won't be buying that again this month. Time to make my own.

7. Our scale shorted out a few weeks ago. Just in time to make sure I didn't weigh myself this month. I'm doing this for health first, but it's hard to break up with the scale. But I know it's not a true measure of health and I'm glad I don't even have the temptation in my bathroom.

Today's meals (working nightshift)
Breakfast: 2 eggs fried in bacon grease, 2 pieces of bacon, small cup of coffee / coconut milk
Lunch: Leftover carne asada meat and guacamole, banana
Dinner: Aidell's chicken and apple sausage, sauteed zucchini, 1/2 sweet potato
Midnight: Sunflower seeds, carrots, snow peas, cucumbers
2am: Leftover chicken, sauteed zucchini, 1/2 sweet potato
I will eat a Larabar in the next few hours (yes, I'm blogging at 3am). Perhaps a banana & almond butter before I go to sleep. I usually only eat two meals the day after I work.

I'm doing this! Hoping to get through sticking to the guidelnes with no deviations. But if something ahppens, it's about progress, not perfection.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

oh how the years go by

We all know that the days are long and the years are short. Knowing that doesn't make the days feel any shorter or easier.

But there are moments that you realize just how fast the years go by.

I confess for a few years, I have been waiting for TODAY. The day I drop my three children off at the same school. And they stay there all day. This is my one glorious year with all three at the same school. It will never happen again.

Lilybug was ever-so-ready for Kindergarten and very excited to be at the same school with her sisters. She was a baby when Miss Rose started there, so she is familiar and very comfortable at the school.

As we corralled the children outside for a picture before piling in the minivan, with the backdrop of our house, I was struck by so many emotions.

Grateful that God has blessed us with a wonderful home of our own, in a community we love and a school our children are thriving in.

Nostalgic because the same year we moved into this house, Miss Rose started Kindergarten, Gracie was a toddler and Lilybug was an infant. Every morning I had an internal debate as to whether I should a) pull out the double stroller, b) wear a baby and push a single stroller or c) attempt to have Gracie walk when we took Miss Rose in.  I got a lot of sympathy smiles and "you sure have your hands full" comments. But I soaked it all in and truly loved it, even in the most frazzling of moments.

And now my first baby is in her last year of elementary school.

 And when Gracie started Kindergarten two years ago, Lily was so lonely and beside herself because having her sister as a playmate was all she had known. 

And now it's my last baby's first day of school. She seems more grown up today.

The last 5-and-a-half years have almost been a whirlwind. We bought a house, renovated it and added a granny flat for my parents to live in. We actually bought the house together just for that purpose. Lily was born 3 days after we moved in. Two years ago I resigned from the church and started nursing school.

And now here we are--Lily is in kindergarten and I am done with nursing school and hopefully not too far from passing my R.N. exam and getting an R.N. job.

Oh how the years go by. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

embracing the journey

We spend much of our life working towards various goals. It begins when we are young and the goals may be simple like holding your breath underwater for a certain length of time or jumping rope 100 times without tripping. As we get older we find that reaching a goal often creates new goals and new challenges. Making the team in high school means extra time, effort and money (usually mom & dad's $$)spent to maintain and excel. Practice time means less social time, less time to get homework and studying done and we learn to prioritize, hopefully.

If there is one life lesson that has become glaringly obvious to me the past few weeks, it's that where one journey ends, another begins. Reaching a goal means new goals are birthed and there are transitions to be made.

On August 9, I completed a HUGE life goal. I graduated from nursing school. At age 37. The only career I ever remember wanting in life was to be in medicine. When I played with my dolls, I played hospital. When I gave the gift of chicken pox to my younger siblings, I made them medication charts. Somehow in high school I got an interview with a neonatologist for a career paper assignment.

I entered college as a pre-med major. My chosen school didn't have a nursing major at the time and I was pretty sure I wanted to be a doctor. However along the way God changed my path and sent me into ministry. I had perfect peace about this change and it's where my heart was. But I never lost my interest in medicine or my desire to work in that field.

Following God's path was most important, and the 10 years I spent in ministry were incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. However, for a gazillion reasons, both positive and negative (because that's just how life is)a few years ago I began to feel a shift. Ministry wasn't fitting like a glove and I began to seek God for the future. The only other career I was truly interested in was medicine and nursing was most logical as I didn't plan to try to go to Med School while raising children!

I slowly started fulfilling some pre-requisite courses. Then God surprised us with the blessing of Lilybug, baby #3 and nursing school went to the back burner. My time in ministry wasn't done. I made my plans. I wrestled and questioned as my timeline didn't quite match God's. But in His perfect time, the release from vocational ministry (i.e. getting a paycheck from a church) came and my acceptance to nursing school was in the mailbox.

And now, two years later I have achieved my lifelong goal. My nursing school journey has ended. But the journey has just begun.

I have been incredibly blessed and fortunate to get hired as a nursing assistant. This is helping provided for our family and hopefully will help me attain a full-time nursing position. I went straight from an intense, demanding summer school schedule to working full-time--and working 12-hr night shifts. A new journey to say the least! Learning how to balance family and sleeping during the day. It's not just a journey for me, but for the family as well. I have stretches of days I'm at home and can take care of a lot of stuff, but there are times I work 1-3 shifts in a row and sleep during the days which means Bean has to manage life at home and my kids have to let mama sleep.

It's a new journey. We never arrive. Where one journey ends, another begins. For me, it's a refining process. It's constantly challenging and growing my faith. It's about priorities and time management. It's a new part of me. Just like I named this blog--Embrace the Day--we also must embrace the journey we are one and realize we will always be on a journey. And each journey comes with the excitements and the challenges. It's just how life is.

Yes, I'm currently in the "challenges" portion of this journey as I figure everything out--but it is still exciting and rewarding and always, worth it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

thoughts at 0400 {4am}

It's 4am and I'm struggling to stay awake. It's a slow, quiet night on the floor at the hospital where I am a nurse's aide/unit clerk. I'm supposed to knock on wood right now that all hell doesn't break loose in the next 3 hours before our shift is over. That's something I've learned in the several weeks I've worked here so far--don't ever say out loud that it's quiet or slow. Hopefully typing it doesn't count as out loud.

Busier nights make it easier to stay awake. In about an hour or so though, things should get a little more active, and that will help. Doctors often do rounds early, kids wake up early and parents stumble to the family room for coffee. I started out on the floor tonight, but the unit clerk had to leave early so I've been at the desk--which makes it harder to stay awake.

Hence the 4am blogging. Stay awake...stay awake. I'm not going to fall asleep sitting her, but I do get pretty delirious.

I made the mistake of eating gluten-free pizza for dinner tonight. The hubs offered it and I just couldn't resist. The truth is, the last few times I've eaten it, I've gotten pretty bad indigestion. But I haven't had it in months, so I thought I'd try again. FAIL. Having a gassy, bloated, crampy stomach while working the night shift isn't fun. It makes me sad that I can't even eat gluten free goodies.

Thankfully I can eat chocolate and ice cream without too much reaction. Now that I'm done with school I need to get serious about healing my gut so that I can enjoy the occasional gluten free food. I do believe that a gluten-free, mostly grain-free and nutrient diet is the best for our bodies and I will probably eat that way the rest of my life. But I do want to be able to indulge from time to time and I need to heal my gut.

Did ya catch that I'm done with school?!! The nursing school journey I started almost two years ago now is done! Well, mostly done. I still need to pass my boards and get an R.N. job, but the daily grind of school is over with and I am so thrilled. In my head I have some posts planned about the end of school and my pinning. Hopefully they will happen.

Things I am excited to focus on once again now that nursing school is done...
My kids need quality time with me and a lot less babysitters. They also need stricter discipline again!
Fitness...once again the summer semester KILLED my exercise habits. Exercise is my stress relief more than anything, and quality me time. The hubs is currently doing P90X3 and I've done several sessions with him. I want to continue this as I can, but add in some run days and hiking/trail runs once the kids are back in school.
My needs a BIG deep clean and purge. I would like to move out and then move back in again. We also desperately need a refreshing of so much in our home. All in due time...when I get that R.N. job!
Our menu....feeding a family of 5 isn't easy. Everyone has opinions and preferences. I haven't been able to menu plan or bargain shop at all. I am looking forward to finding new dinners to make and varying our meals.
Friends...I've had precious little time with friends in the past several months. The bit of free time I did have needed to go to my family and I just didn't feel right leaving again for girl time. But now I will have time again to get together with friends.

These are just a few things on my mental "to do" list.

But more than anything right now, I need refreshing and rest! In between family and work. But not having school is such a huge relief and will allow me the rest I need. A lot of this stuff will wait until the kids (all 3!) are in school again in 3 weeks. I'm in no rush, there is no hurry.

I'm loving my family and enjoying life. That's what matters right now.

Well, at 0430 what really matters is I wish it was 0730 and I was getting in bed. Can't come soon enough today!

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.