Sunday, October 29, 2017

As always, I feel like I've completely abandoned this little corner of the universe. Gert and I made it through nursing school and the NCLEX and now I'm plodding right along through my orientation which I should finish sometime this century.

I've caught myself saying it many times but I'm not sure that I've said it on the blog. I am really enjoying my family these days. There were many years that my family wasn't my priority or that I felt really connected, but I've grown and my brothers have grown and these days are fun days.

As we tried to figure out birthday plans, I was saddened at the idea that James and I weren't having a joint birthday party like we'd had growing up (when I did not like sharing parties!). But James sent me a sweet birthday text and Nick took me out for a special breakfast and I spent my birthday with the rest of the fam at dinner and then hanging. When I was little I never knew I was an introvert. In retrospect I probably didn't have enough alone time or emotional intelligence to deal with all my feelings. Now my brothers and I have similar interests and they are some of my best friends. I never thought I'd move back here and I really never thought I'd be happy here. But these days are good days.

Summer Lovin'

Monday, July 31, 2017

It seems as though I've only been writing boring blogs. So here is a summer update.

Wedding season was good to me! I was able to go to Georgia for Emily's wedding.

Isn't she a beautiful bride?? When I was a missionary at Southern, Emily was a nursing student! Then I became a nursing student, and I swear she evangelized me. (Can't you tell I'm no longer adjusted to the South?! Head sweating and everything.)

Jess graciously accepted my request to be my plus one! 

Margaret (on the left) was another one of my students at Southern... after graduation she became a missionary and now she's off to nursing school... sensing a theme here?  No clue why God brought us together to teach us about Jesus and how to love His people through nursing.  

I hadn't seen Margaret in two years! 

Margaret, Helen, and me after breakfast the day after the wedding. 

Margaret and I had a fancy coffee date where she asked about the undertones in the different roasts. She's the ultimate hipster. #goals

Helen in front of her family's new and developing home...  *swoon* 

Besides a Georgia wedding, I hit up a family friend's reception. I may have had a couple too many drinks which can be evidenced by my loud speaking, increased need for selfies, and my determination to stick up for my sister-in-law even when unnecessary. 

All these blurry photos. A few more years until Nick can drink with us! 

Family events remind me of how thankful I am for Brooklynn. 

Love this pic of James and me but it makes me want to trade my glasses for contacts. 

That crazy reception was just the break I needed from studying for my licensing exam.  Between starting a brand new dream job and studying for the biggest test of my life, I was definitely stressed. My parents took me to St. Louis on a Tuesday to take my exam. The exam can be anywhere from 75 to 265 questions and can take up to 6 hours, with the ability to pass or fail at any number. I took 75 questions in just 45 minutes (a typical pace for me) and felt sick to my stomach. 

That night I was able to go to adoration (Jesus not in this picture) and pray. 

Exactly 48 hours after testing I found out that I PASSED!! I literally almost threw up when I read my results, and I wept for thanksgiving and relief. 

My cousin Isaiah and me at his graduation party after we had BOTH passed our NCLEX! We have a lot of RNs in the family, and we are the two newest!

Apparently I did not do much fun in July because I don't have many pictures to show for it. I did switch to working nights, and I got certified in neonatal resuscitation (think advanced CPR for newborns).

My cousin and his wife had a sweet gender reveal and if you look closely you can see that blue paint.

So excited to welcome a little BOY to the family around Thanksgiving!

This weekend some sweet college friends came in from Kansas City to visit! We went to Hannibal and did touristy things, since they weren't very familiar with the area.

Alyson and Ceci are so sweet. Although I am NOT in love with this picture of myself, I love these women, and I want it remembered. 

A stranger seemingly graciously offered to take pictures of us, but they caught me moving my phone out of the way and perhaps attempting a certain hand gesture? Again, not crazy about me but it's the only pic with the four of us! 

Finally, one of my favorite parts of summer. My sweet garden has done well. Handfuls of tomatoes that I quickly gobble and more basil than I know what to do with. Simple joys. 

30430: A Detailed Update

Thursday, July 13, 2017

We're approaching almost three years since I made my "30430" (think 30-4-30) list. I thought I would bore you by going through and detailing successes and fails that I've made since then.

30 Before 30
  • pay off student loans
Now that I've graduated and acquired even more student loans, I'm finally hitting this one with full force. Luckily, I have best friend who gets way too excited about budgets so I'm living like no one else now so I can live like no one else later. 
  • take guitar lessons
I  started taking guitar lessons about a month ago! I'm learning my second song! It has been challenging but practicing helps me grow in discipline. Learning an instrument is growing parts of my brain I don't really use. 
  • graduate college round 2
Miraculously completed, on schedule, in May!
  • master a signature eye shadow look
I got a Naked palette a couple years ago and love it. 
  • get my BMI below 30
Further away from this one every day.
  • fall in love
And this one.
  • make a quilt 
Nope. Hoping to schedule a weekend with my aunt to convince her to teach me things. :) 
  • visit Yellowstone
Budgeted for to complete late next spring/early summer!!
  • go to an Auburn game (ideally with my friend Brittany!)
Was hoping to do this in the fall... we'll see what happens with my work schedule. 
  • become a morning person
I gave up on this because it turns out I like nights so so much better. 
  • run a marathon (I'm crazy. I know.)
Double no. 
  • move back to the South
Still on my wish list! Applied for a couple jobs in the South, but ended up staying in the Midwest (landed my dream job so no complaints!). I feel like it's going to be years before I'm experienced enough to move to new job. We'll see what happens. 
  • have visited at least 30 states (50 States before 50 goal)
Pretty sure this has been accomplished. Although I'd already driven through part of Texas, I loved my trip to El Paso last year. 
  • learn to drive a stick shift
  • be a godmother (again)
Hoping a normal patient will choose me for a best friend.
  • do a 30 day clean eating thing
Did the Whole 30 and I loved how it kicked my butt. Don't worry, I just finished a Mt. Dew slushie. 
  • master Helen's guac recipe
Completed this one a little over two years ago. Still hoping my future husband will someday try my guac and fall in love with me. 
  • learn to make iced coffee
Learned the Pioneer Woman's recipe a couple years ago! Now I go in spurts of drinking coffee or not drinking it entirely. Turns out I actually love energy drinks. The more you know.
  • scuba somewhere cool (ideally with Margaret and Emily)
Hasn't happened yet... 
  • acquire a colony of bees
Not yet, but my brother has bees so maybe he'll teach me everything my heart desires to know. 
  • take my family/brothers to Disney World
I have a feeling this will turn into a trip involving me, one of my brothers, and my sister-in-law
  • visit Maine in the fall with my Mom
maybe next year. 
  • grow a garden and start composting
Yes! Planted 8 tomato plants and 4 basil plants this summer and things are going great. 
  • finish reading the whole Bible
  • build a bookcase or some furniture
My dad and I built a white board that was 4 feet tall and 6 across so I feel good about crossing this one off the list. 
  • learn to change my oil and replace my brakes
Learned both of these. I'm convinced it's more expensive for me to change my own oil. To replace my brakes I would need a lot of fancy tools that I don't have. 
  • be able to do T25 without modifying
  • help someone have a baby (did I mention I'm crazy? #aspiringtobeL&Dnurse
I've seen a total of 18 deliveries since I made this list! I have held a couple legs :)
  • get really good at walking in heels (or find a pair of heels I can really walk in)
Payless wedges this winter for the win! Wore them alll day for a wedding and walked like a champ.
  • register at a parish
I did this a couple years ago but I'm considering switching to a different parish. Who knows. 

SO  it looks like I've achieved 14/30. Not a passing rate, but I have completed a lot!

On Singleness and Openness to Life

Monday, June 19, 2017

I have long been an advocate for life. It has been part of our family's culture. We've celebrated pregnancies and births, planned or unplanned. We've mourned when friends and loved ones haven't got to hold their little ones this side of heaven.

I've been to Washington, D.C., to speak for those who have no voice. My passion for life has permeated my professional decisions, as I felt that working with laboring women may help decrease fear surrounding birth.

But you know what?

It is hard to be open to life

(You probably already knew that).

I recently moved across town. The neighborhood is not one I'd even imagined choosing for myself. But the house and yard is great, and I really do think it is safe. The neighbors are friendly.

BUT GUYS. The kids in the neighborhood challenge me! I never would've thought that about myself. It's been humbling. I can hear kids screaming and playing and yelling, and sometimes (like tonight) singing sweet lyrics from Frozen. Probably challenging my love for quiet and control "LET IT GOO!" Initially when I began hearing these children, I was thankful that they were playing outside and not inside watching nonstop television or video games.

But the Lord has stretched me and challenged me. Am I really open to life? Doesn't that mean across the spectrum? I love the quote attributed (is it true? I'm not sure) to St. Mother Teresa who said, "How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying there is too many flowers..." I always agreed but now I'm realizing that I can't say I want the flowers over in someone else's garden!!

When I was growing up, I lived across the street from five of my cousins. We'd play football and hockey and cops and robbers and other culturally inappropriate games, I'm sure. We'd be sure not to run in our neighbor's yards, but I'm sure the noise level was still high!

Living in a neighborhood as an adult is showing me my frustrations with society... Our focus on independence and individuality. Lack of community. This is a thing.

BUT I'M THE PROBLEM! How many neighbors have I introduced myself to? (zero). How many times do I sit on Facebook and listen to the neighbor kids yell? (usually).

And how often do I think about sharing Jesus with these people, His children?

Delivery and the spiritual life

Friday, May 26, 2017

If you get a cupcake cake and don't blog it, did it really happen?

Today I saw my first delivery at my new job.

Can I just say that it's crazy that I have a job doing this? I don't understand.

I went into the room just as the patient was getting ready to deliver. I'm not sure how long she'd been pushing, but the OB was all set up and the bed was broken down for maximum positioning.

Before the patient started pushing for this final stretch (terrible accidental pun), the doctor said to her, "You are going to be pushing, and you are going to feel so much pressure, and it will make you want to stop and back away from it. This is when you have to push even harder."

And DANG! If that's not a description of the spiritual life, I'm not sure what is. How many times have I felt that "pressure" in some capacity and wielded to it when I was supposed to lean closer to Jesus? How many times have I felt that desire to skip prayer or finish early when I should have pressed on in my commitments?

I wish I could take my own advice and press on deeply in the faith, but small steps are good starts.

Photo spam.

The crew and me at my brother's graduation

My mama who taught me the beauty of birth.

unrelated obligatory nitro coffee pic


As we go on, we remember...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When I was living the Gem Life in all its glory in Statesboro, the team would frequently sing or hum Vitamin C's "Graduation" song.

Well, guess what.


obligatory family photo

Yes, yes I finally checked a long-term goal off the 30430!

Graduation felt special because a friend drove her 19-month-old 5 hours to see me! After spending the last ten or so years traveling to see lots of friends and attend lots of weddings, it was so special that someone was willing to drive to celebrate this special day with me! (I did receive many encouraging texts, facebook posts, and even mail, too!)

Anna and said 19-month-old. <3

Graduation was emotional because I've truly put my blood*, sweat, and tears into this degree. Nurses have a special "pinning" ceremony where you are truly a nurse when you receive your pin. In some programs, they let a nurse in your family pin you. My dad pinned me which of course meant that I cried. We are both the emotional ones in the family, and I think this program has made our relationship so much closer. We really have a special "nurse" bond now. He also talked me down when about 1 week into the first semester I wanted to quit and was crying because I'd failed a pharmacology test.

Becky, who talked about graduation from the start of the program, which really helped me feel like I had actually accomplished something at the end. 

*One time before I had beautiful wood laminate, I was getting ready for clinical simulation (fake patients, usually dying), I stepped on something SHARP which turned out to be a piece of glass from a wine glass (nursing school coping skills) that Gertrude rudely broke without telling me (I didn't see it blended into the carpeting). I called my instructor. I Facetimed a nursing school friend and she took me to get 3 stitches. Since I had been taking 400 mg ibuprofen daily for an injury, the bleeding was a little out of control during the procedure. I provided Hannah with an excellent learning opportunity.

Hannah, who correctly diagnosed my foot as needing further medical advice. 

Nonetheless, graduation was surreal until I got my pin, which was the best part because I know my dad understood what I had gone through to get to this point. Also, so crazy that I was blessed to land my dream job which I start on Monday.

Jim pinning me. Of course, I was first and he was super nervous but I was just so happy. 

We were told we could decorate our caps, and since I hadn't done it for round 1, I made a decision  less than five hours before graduation to decorate it. Simple, simple (because I didn't want to spend much at Hobby Lobby).

When my parents lived in North Carolina, my dad worked nights. Before he would leave for work, my grandpa (my mom's stepdad) would say, "Dig 'em deep." I guess it has become our family motto for "work hard, no matter what you do." Although I did not know my Grandpa Paul very well (honestly most memories were trying not to bother him while he was reading or my mom making me giving him a hug, etc), I can say that he has had a profound impact on my life. This is through the strong work ethic that I have received from my parents and from the value of education which has been impressed upon me by my parents, grandparents, and extended family. 

And then we celebrated.

Alleluia. He is Risen. His mercies are new.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lent this year had me feeling like quiet the failure, with I think all of my resolutions broken. Instilling the fact that I really cannot do anything on my own. So I basically got the point, I think.

This week I've been working a lot. Heck, these past two years I've been working a lot in a field I never thought I could enjoy. I've seen tragic heartbreaks, and I've experienced them myself. I've given hugs and prayed with people. I've cried. I've gone home and cried and cried. I see people wondering if today will be the day they say goodbye to their loved ones. I've seen how desperate people are for love. I've seen how broken we are.

Last night someone said they didn't know how we nurses (including myself here prematurely) did it. The heartbreak and sorrow and sad cases we see everyday. I didn't know how to say how humbling and rewarding it is. How much it means to know I cared directly and upheld someone's dignity that day. I've been humbled in seeing the Gospel being reflected in my work. Holy Thursday I didn't make it to mass, but I did find myself kneeling before someone and washing feet. These are the quiet simple moments where I sense the Holy Spirit working most.

This morning I went to mass at 0800 straight from work. Yes on Easter Sunday I went to mass in my scrubs. After a long, productive, growth-filled night, that was the best I had to offer. Easter Sunday is what I cling to in the midst of the sadness and heartbreak. The promise of the Resurrection. The promise that life is not over. The promise that this is just the beginning.

I tried so so hard to stay awake during mass, and I brought forward all my intentions and thankful heart to the altar. Just before mass, I received a text that my dear friend and her husband had found out they were expecting. On Easter Sunday. The promise of new life. Not a life without struggle-we can look to the Cross and see that's not true. But how powerful is the Resurrection.

Jesus is truly alive.

Here are pictures I stole from my mom's Facebook. These are just some of the people who bring me joy and new life. Thank you, Jesus.

My sister-in-law and me. She keeps me sane. I love her. 

My sweet mama and me. She's far too good to me.