Saturday, December 24, 2011

A note to our friends and family

To our wonderful family and friends:

We are so, so grateful to have so many wonderful people around us for Emmersyn's birth. We are excited to meet our daughter, and are thankful that she is already so well-loved. We have had nothing but wonderful support in our journey of this pregnancy.

We wanted to share a little bit of our plan surrounding her birth, so that all our friends and family can be on board, and can help support us. We would love to have you all visit and see her right away, but that's not feasible or practical, so we wanted to share the general timeline of visiting/etc to help ease the transition.


We are delivering the baby at Providence Medford, barring emergency complications that would send us to Rogue's more advanced NICU. We are having a private, natural Bradley birth, and we ask that visitors not "drop by" during this time. We will not be sharing information on Facebook or Twitter until she is born, to lessen distractions during labor. Please know we will post information in the event of an emergency, otherwise we are focused on the baby and labor. If you call or text us for updates, Drew and I will not have our phones available during the labor. For the first two hours after her delivery, we will not be seeing any visitors as part of our birth plan. After two hours, we or my parents will begin calling/updating our loved ones and friends via Facebook/twitter/phone (barring emergency problems). We ask that you not drop by the hospital unless we call you to let you know it is an appropriate time. Drew will be greeting all visitors at the hospital, and we ask that visitors leave all little ones at home because of flu season. Thanks for understanding! We love your children, and would love our tiny girl to meet your sweet kids when she is a little bigger/stronger :) Please do not come to the hospital or visit if you have been sick with a cold recently.

After we go home:

We surely will love for you to meet our daughter! Please allow us time at home as we adjust to being parents of a newborn. Please text Drew or I before dropping by the house. We would love to see you at appropriate times when we are feeling up to it. If we don't answer, please know we appreciate you and will return your call/visit when we are able to. We will be doing the "babywise" type scheduling for our little one, and appreciate flexibility and understanding for her schedule after she is two weeks old. This may mean she will be nursing/sleeping when you drop by, thanks for understanding and being flexible :)
Many of you have offered meals and you have no idea how appreciated that would be! Thank you for thinking of us in this very practical way. Please know even if we can't visit when you arrive, we are thankful for any meal. You can text us or my mom to coordinate a meal. We would love that.

Most of all, THANK YOU for loving us and our little one so well! We consider ourselves SO blessed to have such wonderful friends and family, and hopefully this helps you understand what the first few weeks may look like for us.


Grace, Drew, and soon to arrive Emmy Aspinwall

Monday, December 12, 2011

a year, a baby, and two go-bags

we celebrated a year of marriage yesterday! can't believe it's been that long, but also can't believe how many things we've been through in just 365 days. We were married Dec 12, 2010, with literally barely 200 dollars to our name...We honeymooned in Disneyland and then moved into the world's tiniest apartment. we learned, after moving in, that this apartment had no oven. it also had no laundry machine, and no dishwasher. We spent many nights at the laundromat (which i refused to go to alone because i was afraid i was going to get "stabbed and murdered", even though it was perfectly safe) watching movies and doing work. We also spent many nights cooking in a toaster oven. By "we", i mean me burning food for the first month solid. I now feel very proud that I can cook in a teeny oven and produce edible casseroles in a 9x9 pan. Nevermind the turkey meatball disaster and the charred brownies. (Cooking in a toaster oven is a very interesting experience. Everyone should try it, because when you have a real oven, you want to hug it every single day. For real.) I have actually learned to bake. Amazing, I know. My limited repertoire now includes applesauce coffee cake, caramel walnut cookies, muffins, and cupcakes. We eat a lot of applesauce coffee cake :)
I also now have a dishwasher.
I may or may not hug it as well.

We also spent the second month of our marriage in the hospital. Nearly going blind and being rushed to the hospital does wonders to bring you closer as a couple! My husband never once even seemed slightly stressed, even when the bills started rolling the tune of thousands AFTER insurance. We were blessed with really good jobs and supplemental income, and amazingly, by sticking to a budget, we have paid off every single hospital bill from this year. We've stashed money into savings, and moved into a home that is almost three times the size of our first one bedroom. The Lord is good and always provides.

Month five of our marriage brought a happy surprise; news that a tiny member of our family was on their way. I finished nursing school amid morning sickness and graduated with a 10-week baby bump! We found out she was a girl when we were 18 weeks along and have been in love with her sweet little button nose and rosebud lips ever since.

We've walked through most of a difficult pregnancy, two eye surgeries, hospitalizations, moving, a car breaking down, buying a new car, making a budget, graduation, nursing school, a failed NCLEX, new jobs, a date night every tuesday, paying bills, building a crib, decorating a new house, and the joys of everyday life for a year. I couldn't be more thankful for walking through all of it with my very best friend. Drew is kind, slow to argue, quick to lend a hand, and ever patient with my hormones and tears and trips to the hospital. Here we are, a year into this, happier than ever. Armed with a tiny pink carseat, two "go-bags" and awaiting our tiny girl. God is truly good.

"I have found the one my soul loves!" Songs 3:4

Monday, November 21, 2011

five years.

drew and i had an impromptu date last night; since we don't have internet hooked up yet, we went to Starbucks to have coffee together and catch up on various work. two for one holiday drinks make for a yummy and inexpensive date night. while we were sitting there, i ran into an old friend. i hadn't seen him in about five years, so he didn't know i was married or pregnant. i was shocked to see him, since he looked so much different than i had remembered. years ago, i would have considered him a close friend. he came to some of my birthday parties, and we had a group of friends we hung out with often. he was always the life of the party. funny, smart and everyone's buddy. i had heard he wasn't doing well, but i didn't know the extent at all. when i saw him last night, i saw just a glimpse of the guy i once knew.

he's homeless now.

battling poverty, addiction, medical conditions, and a crumbled relationship.

i almost didn't recognize him.

gone was the clean cut, sharp, funny and sweet twenty-something,
and there in his place stood a weathered, sad, and so-much-older man.

five years is a long time.

i left starbucks hand in hand with my husband. my precious, giving, adoring husband. feeling my tiny daughter happily wiggling. in our warm car, headed to a new, warm house.

how sobering.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

a little news from our corner of the world...

the biggest piece of news is that we've moved!

our sweet little townhouse feels like a mansion to us after leaving our 330 square foot apartment! this new place is almost three times that size. we love the new carpet, new paint and new floor features of it, but i also love the dishwasher, oven, and laundry machines that i did not have in our last apartment. i volunteered to bring three side dishes to our family thanksgiving because i was so excited about baking :) Emmy's room has the crib at least set up in it, looks great and is so sweet. we decided on white, charcoal grey and hot pink for her colors.

the second piece of news is that i got a new job! surprising, since i wasn't really looking; this totally fell right into my hands. i'm now doing social media consulting and management for three local companies. it pays great and is 100% at home. i am very excited; as it gives me a chance to expand my repertoire and use my skills learned in three years of marketing at a university. i'm considering offering this as part of my company eventually. i'm working on some new music with a few new artists as well. i'm overwhelmed with gratitude with the opportunity to make a good income and also not lose out on time with my tiny baby girl. i've wanted to be a stay at home mama at least until she's bigger, and this allows me to do both.

that's all for us...just gearing up for thanksgiving, and unpacking boxes. Emmy continues to grow at a rather alarming rate (to me!), and kicks and wiggles all day long. she is a complete doll; pretty much sleeps when i sleep and wakes when her daddy leaves for work. she responds to our voices by moving her head towards whoever is speaking. we are so in love with her tiny little wiggly self <3

Monday, November 14, 2011

33 weeks...

only about 7 more weeks till we meet our sweet girl. these moments are so precious...i can't wait to meet Emmersyn, but this special time is going by so fast. last night, i watched my husband read her a bedtime story (all about Princess Belle :) and i felt the tears welling up. she loves her daddy. she wakes up when he talks to her, and she loves bedtime stories already! watching him talk to her and already love being her daddy only makes me love him more! we are exceedingly blessed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

why we chose a natural birth

i've gotten A LOT of comments about our choice to do the Bradley method. Most involve horrific stories of traumatic births and emergency C-sections, followed by lengthy lectures about why I will want an epidural "for sure" and how I can't possibly know how horrible birth is. The worst have been people asking if I "think I am better than them because I am choosing natural birth". So i'm here to set the record straight.

I most definitely do NOT think I am better than any mama who has chosen an epidural, a c-section, or a medicated labor. I respect any woman who has put her body through carrying these tiny babies, and getting through any kind of birth should be celebrated! I do not think I am a better mama, a more educated person, or holier-than-thou for choosing an unmedicated birth.

Next, I love modern medicine. Unlike a few other natural birth aficionados, my husband and I have nothing but respect and admiration for our healthcare team. As a nurse, I respect others who have chosen the healthcare field, and definitely do not think all of modern medicine is full of conspiracy and evil. I know these things happen in healthcare, but we have been very blessed with a healthcare team at Providence who are WONDERFUL, gifted and supportive. We have not chosen a home birth, nor do we feel that is the right choice for our particular situation. I have a number of health concerns including asthma, potential for a repeated eye rupture, and previous cardiac complications that necessitate me being in a hospital setting. It makes us feel very comfortable knowing we have a capable and caring team of individuals around who want the best for Emmersyn and I. I am thankful for oxygen, IV pumps, the ability to have a C-section in 5 minutes, and the ability for monitoring of our sweet girl.

I also love my doctor (in a non-creepy way). My husband and I have found a wonderful, Christian doctor who cares about our family and prays for our daughter. He takes time to make personal calls to us whenever Emmersyn has new scans or appointments, and we have never felt rushed, or hurried out the door. I think choosing a doctor is very important, and we feel great about our choice. I certainly trust his judgement. If a complication arises, we know he will give us the best, most appropriate options, and his openness to my birth plan is reassuring. I feel confident that, if I were unable to make medical decisions for myself, that our doctor would choose the best option with my husband.

I love the Bradley. Eating healthy, exercising, and learning to relax through the pain is incredibly inspiring and makes me feel calm and collected going into labor. My husband has been incredible supportive of this method and has done his part to learn the material and practice with me. That being said, we are not dead-set on a drug free birth. We want a healthy baby. If something happens and we can't have a natural birth, I will be sad but not heartbroken.
I am not obsessed with the Bradley, nor do I center my life around it. I pray for our daughter and for my strength during labor, and the Lord will deliver her however He would like. We can work hard and learn the material, but overall, the Lord is in control.

The absolute worst thing that I have heard involves speculation about how awful it would be if Emmersyn had special needs. Me having/not having electronic fetal monitoring, having/not vaccinations, or particular types of labor and somehow linking that to the "horror" of having a child with special needs is incredibly tacky to bring up. We have many friends and family members who have been blessed with children with special needs. What a dishonor we do them when we assume that we know the cause/prevention of their "new normal". I have done everything within my ability to protect our tiny daughter, and I will for her whole life! But I cannot control her having or not having special needs. We will love and embrace her no matter what. We had an 18 week ultrasound to determine her gender and they were able to check for Down's Syndrome. Her ultrasound was negative for Downs, clubfeet, and other heart defects, and we were thankful. And I admit, my heart stopped for a brief moment when I realized she could have any sort of handicap. But we love our daughter. She is ours, she is precious, and she is perfectly made.

"Having a child with special needs is NOT a tragedy. The tragedy would be raising a child who is cruel to someone with special needs". -Unknown

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why I do what i do...a peek into the Christian music industry

When I started my company almost two years ago, I didn't know it would actually take off. I have been blessed to work with some AMAZING artists, but it's not always glamorous (in fact, it's rarely glamorous) or fun, or even encouraging some days. It's more paperwork that I could have imagined, artist contracts, proposals, and listening to more music than I knew my ears could withstand. There are days I forget why I do this. When the obstacles and difficulties are more than the pay could warrant. Unreturned emails, thousands of voicemails, trips the post office that don't end.

Then I hear the song.

The one that I know I've been waiting for..the one that shows me that all I've been working on is worth it, because someone else will get to hear this song.

Like today.

And I get so thankful that I get to help these artists do what they love, because it is truly, truly, what I love to do. I love the organizing and the phone calls and those moments when you hear the song on the radio and know that you got it there. I love what I do. And I'm honored to do it.
Which brings me to the next news; I am opening up two spots on my roster for an independent artist. Please let me know if you or someone you know is looking for management and send them my way. Thanks!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Couponing Week 1

Thanks to the help of some friends, I am now on my journey of couponing! I made my handy coupon binder last week thanks to the Krazy Coupon Lady's blog. i ventured out on Sunday afternoon to tackle the first of my purchases at our local's how i did:
-Two pillsbury cinnamon rolls (we love these on Saturday mornings)
$2.49 regular price x 2 = $4.98
-$1.00 off/2 Safeway coupon
-$1.00 off/2 manufacturer coupon
-$.50/2 store coupon
= $2.48 for both
-Betty Crocker Supreme brownie mixes (I like to stock up on these :)
$3.49 regular price x 2 +$7.98
-$1.00 off/2 store coupons
-$1.00 off/2 manufacturer coupon
-$1.00 club card savings off each
-$1.00 additional manufacturer coupon
= $2.98 for both (saved five dollars!)
Herbal Essences Shampoo (Target)
$2.49 regular price x 2 = 4.98
-$1.00 Target beauty bag coupon/each
-$1.00 manufacturer coupon/each
= two for 0.98!!!

Coupons are tricky, you can definitely get caught up getting stuff you didn't need to start with. I found a GREAT deal on bar soap, but we prefer body wash type soap, so it would have been silly to get those. Also, even with coupons, the item can be more expensive than if you just found it on sale or got the off brand. Example: I had a double coupon for Lucky Charms, but the regular price was 6.49! Even with 2.00 off, 4.49 for a box of cereal is absurd. It's also awkward to go to a store for only a few things, but I'm already saving money...I saved 27.00 this weekend alone on things we use and needed. I'm also following the new rule of buying things for next year after the event/season. Here's a few of the deals I've found recently:

-Walmart after-halloween sale:
-Two sets of plastic tumblers (great for having people over!) $0.50
-Harvest themed paper plates $0.20
-"Fall" hand towels $0.75
-Candy for operation christmas child (regular price 5.49) $1.00
-Gift bags in harvest colors (but can be used for anything!)$0.75 for two
Gymboree children's sale (post season)
-18-24 month dress for Emmersyn, regular price $42.50. Sale price: $3.99
-18-24 month jeans and top for Emmersyn, regular price 39.50 sale $3.99
-Size 9 year old dress for my niece, regular price $32.50, sale $3.99
-Newborn size headband, jammies, hat regular price $50.00, sale $3.99
-Size 5 dress for my other niece, regular price $49.50, sale $3.99
I ended up getting 16 items for an amazing $25.00 with the combination of sales and coupons! I got over 375.00 worth of clothes for barely a fraction of the original prices. I love Gymboree too because their quality is great. I stocked up on tons of dresses, sweaters, and jammies for our baby girl too :), and got almost all our nieces and nephews brand new clothes for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

from working woman to...stay at home mommy?

it has always been my husband's and my dream for me to be able to stay at home and enjoy a full time "mommy-hood" lifestyle. we had it pretty mapped out; get out of student loan debt, i would quit my job, and be a full time mama...then two pink lines showed up and now we have our precious 3 lb 2 oz daughter almost in our arms. happened fast, and though we wouldn't change a thing, its changed our priorities. we are working hard to get out of debt, and have done a good job so far paying off absurdly high medical bills (my eye surgeries wiped us out for six months!), and staying away from excess debt by living simply and learning to budget. all that considered, we will be a one-income family for at least four months beginning in December. and let me tell you...being a two income family hasn't been extravagant, but it's downright cushy compared to a single income. hence, my newest journey, and the reason for the facelift to my blog... i'm learning how to be a stay at home mama, and also learning to cut back on expenses by extreme couponer. yes, i said it! we've all been there haven't we? stuck behind the "crazy couponer" for 30 minutes behind the person in the checkout line with four inches of coupons clutched in their hands.
and now i'm about to become her.
my mom always taught us the value of a good deal when we were growing up, and she managed to run a household of 6 on a single income from my dad (something i find even more amazing as i begin to look at running a household of 3 on one income). even so, this is a whole new ballgame. i'm just starting out, so i'm beginning my "coupon binder" this week. there's like a whole new language to this couponing thing (words like BOGO and redplum and stacking make me want to quit before i have even started)'s practically a job, it requires time and patience and a whole lot of organization to really accomplish anything more than a year's worth of excess pasta.
everyone has asked if i feel nervous about being a stay at home mom. to be honest...
i'm terrified. i couldn't be more thrilled about being with our tiny girl, i was a nanny for almost 8 years and am a nurse, so the idea of actually parenting a baby is not what i'm worried about. i've handled up to 16 kids on my own (that was a nightmare of a nannying job), and can change a diaper and soothe a baby like a pro. so unlike most first time mamas, the thought of a fever or screaming baby doesn't faze me. it's the "being home all the time" part. since high school, i have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. i am busy. constantly, unceasingly busy. i have always worked at least one job, sometimes up to four. i thrive on being busy. the thought of being home by myself with no one but this tiny, sleeping infant makes me want to nervously start creating "to-do" lists so i can stay busy. i'm sure i'll adjust, but i get panicky after one day off...hopefully couponing will take some of that excess time up...or i'll start watching daytime TV.

i always wanted to watch re-runs of Judge Judy :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

30 weeks...can it be??

Yes, already it seems our sweet Emmy-Grace is a whopping 30 weeks. She weighs in at about 3 lbs and seems to be happily growing and wiggling inside me! We can't believe how fast this pregnancy is flying by, and yet there seems to be so much to do to get ready for her birth. I have been feeling pretty good; still working, and doing my best to battle the back pain that comes from being petite and carrying a baby. My last day at work is Dec 12, if I don't go into labor before then, and then I'll be a stay-at-home mommy to Emmersyn until she is at least three months old. We are still praying about whether I will take an on-call position (1-2 days a week) or I will continue to stay at home. We are confident the Lord will work it out when the time comes, either way. Until then, I continue to find too many clothes for our girl, and am getting things ready for her arrival. I think the nesting instinct has kicked in because all I want to do is clean our house, organize her clothes, and pack her hospital bag...

Our lease is up in November, and we are moving to a bigger place. Although I will be thrilled to have a real oven, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer, I must admit I will miss our tiny apartment. It's cozy and we have enjoyed 10 happy months of wedded bliss in it...
We are headed to Portland on Nov 11, to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary a month early...I didn't think that at 36 weeks pregnant, I would enjoy traveling/shopping/sleeping in a hotel bed, so we decided it'll be easier to travel next month instead. We are hoping to snag some goodies for our new house at the fun IKEA in Portland.

Hubby still is enjoying his job in online marketing, while I pass my days away as a marketing assistant at Southern Oregon University/Social Media Coordinator at CCM Magazine/owner of Wonderment Entertainment. My jobs keep me pretty busy, though I find I am pretty slow getting around these days with tiny girly wiggling 24/7 and kicking me in the ribs and back.

That's about it for us...we have a checkup with our baby doc tomorrow!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Third Trimester!

Our precious, sweet baby is 27 weeks! Weighing in at 2.2 lbs and 15 inches from head to toe, she is beginning to really pack a punch...she kicked her daddy's hand pretty hard the other day, has lots of bouts with hiccups, and enjoys kicking and rolling for about 20 mins at a time during the day. i wish i could see if she was sucking her thumb, but i would need a 24/7 ultrasound to do that :) her daddy and i are beginning baby preparations (eek!) including her darling crib and carseat/stroller combo. i'm not sure where people are taking their babies these days, but they make some serious all-terrain strollers. since we are not taking her to the Alps, or off-roading, we are settling for the "we're going the mall" stroller.
after a scare with pre-term labor, i have had no other contractions, and we are really thankful she is staying put in her cozy little home (i assume my womb is cozy...i have no idea.)

in other news, we have a new car to bring her home in, a lovely, immaculate, new-to-us Dodge Stratus. it's by FAR the nicest car either one of us have owned, and it's really safe and new for the little one we will be bringing home. although i have picked neutral things for her crib, and her pack n' play, and her highchair, etc, the neutral infant carseat was really hideous and had monkeys and bananas all over it. so the one we've picked is pink and brown and since she'll only be in it until she's 22 lbs, we can just get another with baby #2 (i can't believe we will even have one, much less two, ever). i'm all set to go with my CUTE petunia picklebottom bags, in the boxy backpack and the adorable cross town clutch! You can see them here:
the bags are spendy, but are really great quality and made out of great coated fabric so they wipe right off.

our Bradley birth class is...interesting...drew and i feel like the trouble makers because we are apparently having too much fun. last week we did "labor rehearsals" using ice cubes (?) and when i started snickering because water was dripping down my clothes, the instructor came over and asked "what the issue" was. "the issue" was that it was hilarious, but she didn't share our humor, i guess! also, i have thought it was my week to bring snacks multiple weeks in a row now, which has resulted in me baking absurdly complicated desserts full of stuff like spelt flour and agave, only to be left with dozens of leftovers upon discovering it wasn't our turn. husband i have gained a ton of weight from eating all of the baked goods! (it really is my week this week, btw. i checked. i have to bring spinach dip. have i ever made spinach dip? no. i will let you know how that goes). all in all, we have learned a little bit, and the couples in the class are super nice, so we will keep going (and getting fat from baking). i am not sure how a "2 hour class" has morphed into a "3 hour class' but let's all just say a prayer of thankfulness that labor rehearsals are at the end and involve lots of pillows and darkness and mini-naps. (if it was happening on a thursday, i would probably hightail it outta there every week so i didn't miss grey's). i'm all for natural birth and i do believe it is the right decision for us, but i simply don't revolve my life around it. the Lord knows when and how she is going to make her appearance. i will exercise and eat healthy and do the workbook, but my life moves on in the next 13 weeks. i think that's why i have trouble with the class...the teacher is a little bit obsessed with it all. i work 40 hours a week so i can't find time to sit there and read 24/7...i have already done the research. anyways, long story short, we love the Bradley, love our fellow parent couples, but could really do without the three hour class.

i'm finally "looking pregnant" according to three ladies at church who announced that they didn't know i was expecting till this week. i feel the size of a small country, but have in fact not gotten out of maternity size XS, so i must not be as big as i feel.

that's about it for an update! can't wait to actually have baby pictures!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

fear and the great unknown

being pregnant is one of the most terrifying experiences of my whole life.
i said it.
ever since two pink lines told me that there was a tiny person growing inside me, i was filled with fear. feat that something would happen, that we would lose this little one, that days filled with happiness would be clouded with grief. and as she has grown, i've had to let go of those fears. for the first few months, i didn't even want to buy things for the baby, because i was scared we would have to look at a closet of clothes that would remind us if something happened. sweet Emmy-Grace is 26 weeks old, and i have really tried to rest in the Lord. ultimately, i cannot control the circumstances of her birth/arrival/growth and i have to enjoy every moment i get to be her mama. i battled fear last week when i was having almost 4 hours of regular, painful contractions and i thought we might be having our sweet girl much too early.

to be quite honest, i have battled fear and anxiety a lot these past few months as the financial trials seemed to keep coming. dealing with health insurance, rising hospital bills from my last surgery, and upcoming new bills related to Emmy, it felt like we were sinking. it all cumulated with the most recent loss of our one car, my 1997 Ford Taurus. it couldn't have come at a worse time, it seemed, when we were just beginning to establish an actual savings account and making more than our bills were costing. but as always, the Lord has been extremely gracious to us. we have had a very healthy baby girl thus far, easy and low-cost appointments, and never been unable to pay a bill. i got a sizeable raise last month, and we were able to find transportation from gracious friends as we looked for a car.

fear is eager to rob our joy. my beautiful friend Sara Frankl passed away a few nights ago, someone who would have been seemingly justified in living in fear (she battled chronic illness/infection and pain and had to be restricted to her home), but for whom joy was the only option. she always chose joy. thankfulness. eucharistia. i wish that i could have gotten to see Sara run into the arms of her Saviour, because I know without a doubt that she was welcomed and rejoiced over. she lived well and died well.

Sara knew.

She knew that our God is not a God who leaves us vacant.

Will He strip things away to let us rely on Him? Yes.

Bills, housing, cars, children...all causes that can make us tremble with fear.

He will never leave us vacant.

"I've picked you. I haven't dropped you. Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you"
Isaiah 41:10

In loving memory of Sara Frankl. To live is Christ, to die is gain.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


i heard just this afternoon that my friend sara (gitzengirl) is headed to be with Jesus sometime in the next hours/day. she has been housebound due to a medical condition called spondylitis, and therefore i have never met her in person. i began following her blog after my friend matthew directed me there and i found a Godly, beautiful friend. sara is the epitome of love in action and finding joy in suffering. her motto was always "choose joy!". sara painted beautiful canvasses of inspiring verses and quotes and her blog is filled with fun photos and joy in the midst of great pain from her illness. i have never seen such trust in the Lord or peace in the storm that for sara, never really let up. sara loves people without bounds or measures, and does so in spite of not having the luxury of all the things we take for granted. that's why today, although i am sad and heartbroken for the loss of a beautiful friend, i am choosing joy because that's what sara would want. sara is surrounded by hospice care, and her family is surrounding her, reading her messages from friends as she waits for Jesus to take her home. she would not want anyone to be sad, because she is confident in Who awaits her.

sara chose a "word for the year" in january, and hers was "praise".
fitting, because that is what her whole life has been about.

i love you sara, and cannot wait for you to get to see Jesus.
Your heart is already His, now it gets to see Him in person.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Twenty-five days...

...until we are back in Alabama for vacation! I can't wait! We have a really packed trip planned, including a baby shower, a maternity photoshoot with the amazing Kim Box Photography, and a trip to the beach.

Sweet Emmersyn (oh, by the way, SHE'S A GIRL!) is growing like a weed, bouncing up and down on my bladder, and kicking to the sound of her daddy's voice. She is beautiful and precious, and has a tiny little ski-jump nose and rosebud lips. Many thanks to Jodi for doing a beautiful ultrasound and letting us see our precious little girl. We feel so blessed that she is healthy, as far as we can see so far. God is gracious, no matter what. My pregnancy has been difficult (the first twelve weeks), but now is blessedly peaceful. I ordered a beautiful memory keeper box from Paper Coterie who also did my wedding album. It has our family's name on the front, and will hold all of her ultrasound photos, baby shower invitations, etc, until I begin her scrapbook.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the NCLEX and the center of the world: this much i know

i took my NCLEX on tuesday. i was more peaceful and calm going into it than i have EVER been taking any test, so i felt ready to conquer it. i had breakfast with my husband (btw, great harvest makes the most delicious european style hot chocolate!), and drove to the test center feeling really good about passing. i sat down to take the test, and got thru the first 75 questions no problem. i knew that if it shut off at 75, i had a 90 percent chance that i passed, so i was feeling great. i knew every question! so when it didn't stop at 75, i remained calm. i knew a friend had gotten 160-ish, so i was determined not to panic. I kept going thru the questions, which kept getting more and more difficult (a good sign on the nclex), certain it was going to stop any minute. at 100 questions, I was still going strong, taking my time, and for certain getting correct answers. Since the questions kept increasing in difficulty (i studied three hours a day for months, got great practice test grades, and was an excellent student, and I had not even heard of some of the things they were asking at this point), I began getting confused as to why it was not stopping.

at 150, I decided to stop watching the counter.

at 199, I began to panic. my horror increased with each question.

it was not stopping.

and by 205, I was full-on crying. My brain was so tired, and i knew the questions were not going to stop until i reached the full 265. I didn't know if they were getting harder or easier anymore, because they all seemed horribly confusing.

by 255, I barely made it to the end. barely made it out of the testing center to my car before i fell apart. i knew that when you get the full questions, they only look at the very end ones to decide your passing/failing, so all the ones I knew I did well on did not really count. i was getting tons of EKG strips and lung sounds on the last few, not my strongest points, and i was crying, so i knew it was not my finest moment. i had prayed right before i went in, "Lord whatever happens, please just don't make me get the long test!"

God said no.

I came home, cried for a really long time, watched three episodes of grey's anatomy, ate chocolate, and took a nap. I was devastated. but I have a husband and friends who don't let me wallow (I have great friends and the best husband in the whole world), and I got up. I kept moving, I went on a date with my sweet husband, and I moved forward with life. Life doesn't stop for disappointments. It keeps moving. Dishes still need to be done, groceries purchased, clothes put away, laundry done. and i realized that the nclex is not the center of the world. it seemed like it was for months. and to be sure, it was important. but its not the most important thing in the world. it's really not.

i have a friend whose sister had brain surgery this week, to remove a mass. she's 21 years old. the doctors were able to get the mass out, and she has only minor vision problems now.

family friends almost lost their 17 year old daughter on an O.R. table this month. she's alive today, and she looks more beautiful than ever.

another friend lost her infant daughter recently. she had to plan a funeral for a tiny person when she should have been planning a baby shower. they are grieving.

and one of our dearest friends was hit by a car this month. he is relearning how to do everything. his wife woke up on their 2 year anniversary knowing she may never have her husband back. he's learning to walk again.

Those are the important things.

this i know: i woke up this morning in the arms of my husband, under the roof of our cozy home, feeling our precious little one wiggling to tell me good morning. we are blessed beyond measure.

even when God says no. He is the center of my universe, and the nclex is a minor blip on the line of eternity. this i know is true. always.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

baby update

our sweet E is growing like a weed, is now about the size of your outstretched hand from head to bum, and is very, very wiggly. this morning, i woke up to a baseball-sized wiggling lump on one side of my stomach. it loves to hear it's daddy's voice, and when drew talks nearby, it wiggles and dances. i'm finally feeling better, after a VERY rough first trimester, and finally back to having a tiny bit of energy.

it also loves music, and i've been playing the new switchfoot and "the story" album with
headphones on my stomach at work and it get awfully squirmy when music plays! i've chosen nichole nordeman's "sing over me" compilation album, "the story" compilation album, and switchfoot's quieter songs to add to my birth playlist so far. i need a lot of music, so i've started playing it for the baby already. research shows that playing the birth music in utero helps stimulate their brain and will also calm them when they are outside the womb. we begin our bradley method classes in august, and have been blessed to find a state-accredited teacher who teaches two families at a time. i really like the personal care she seems to be providing. i loosely follow the bradley/brewer meal plan (heavy on protein, but with my meat aversion, i have gotten creative with the protein, and exercise 45 mins a day). don't go thinking i'm all super-mom, because i totally just cheated and ate a candy bar ;-)

we are breastfeeding and cloth diapering (i never thought i'd be a "natural" mama, but studies and research have shown these both have wonderful benefits). i have found really great deals on AIO (all in one) cloth diapers, and my lovely sis has been helping me look for prefolds and covers. i think E will have plenty by the time they come along! here is one of the first set i ordered yesterday. i found a great sale on them, so i ordered the first six.

we don't know what our squirmy little worm is (boy or girl) yet, so we are holding off on nursery decorations until we a) move and b) know the gender. we are planning on moving in november, so i will be able to decorate the nursery then. we are purchasing the Graco Snugride infant seat in August, and this beautiful crib when we move:
the last thing i've picked is this diaper bag from Petunia Picklebottom, my splurge of a purchase at a steep price, but i really love it and the gender neutral design means it will last till baby number two for sure. (photo is above). i'm waiting on a coupon/sale before i purchase it here from the little boutique that sells them.

that's pretty much all for now. writing our birth plan to go over with our doc at our next appt, but otherwise baby just keeps growing and we are thankful :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

five year plan

i think if you had asked my husband or i our "five year plan" on our wedding day, it would have looked something like this: graduate from nursing school, land dream jobs, get out of student loan debt in a year, and try for a baby in 2012. it sure sounded nice on the day we said, "i do"!
and then on the exact day we marked five months of being married, two pink lines announced our little family was growing by one, faster than we thought.

I think that having a five year plan is really important for a marriage. as the pastor who did our premarital counseling said, " a marriage with no plan, no strategy to battle sin, no plan to handle finances and children, is a ship without a rudder." i think it's also important to remember Who is steering the ship!

a few nights ago, we discussed our new five year plan. still getting out of loan debt from my schooling. still wanting that dream job. but this time, as we talked, little e was wiggling away...e likes their daddy's voice and they wiggle when he talks close my my tummy! it's funny how the Lord can tip your plans upside down and you simply can't see what He is doing. but then, you realize He worked it all out ahead of you, and when you turn and look at the past that led you to today, you see a trail of faithfulness. The Lord provided jobs for us both, a cozy home, and enough income to well exceed our bills. He provided health insurance. He also took away the dream job i thought i wanted, in His mercy, because He knew i never would have been able to handle it while pregnant. it's astonishing, really, how the Lord orchestrates every little detail.

I don't know why i don't trust Him all the time.

i woke up yesterday to a cool breeze seeping in through our curtains, in the arms of my sleeping beloved husband, and feeling E welcoming the morning with a few happy wiggles. I am blessed beyond measure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hamlet, the worst baby name ever.

i married a funny guy. he makes me laugh at least fifteen times a day, at minimum. this comes in handy when you are pregnant, grumpy, always feeling like passing out, and throwing up your stomach contents at least once daily. in addition to being funny, he also does the dishes, cooks, cleans, and handles my random cravings like a pro. (i know, you wish you had a husband this great...too bad i married him first! ha!) last night, as we were discussing baby names before we went to bed, he says, "OH! did you know the Beckham's (David and Victoria, who we don't know, but pretend like we can call them by their first names), had a baby yesterday! They named her something really was... HAMLET! Hamlet Seven Beckham!"

At this revelation, i started laughing uncontrollably. Who in their right mind would name their kid "Hamlet"? i laughed so hard, the baby shifted from left to right, apparently indignant that i was squashing it with my laughter. we laughed awhile longer, until i was practically crying from the thought that it was such a horrible name for a baby, until husband decided he should look it up on the iPhone to make sure. well, we made a "no iphones in bed" rule (which is a really good rule if you're married), so if you want to use your phone, you have to actually get OUT of the bed. so he crawls out and stands up to use his phone and finds the actual news story while i continue cracking up about the fact that someone would name their baby Hamlet, when he suddenly goes, "Oh. i guess it wasn't hamlet. it was Harper."

This made me laugh even harder. Harper is a pretty normal name, and sounds nothing like Hamlet, so i asked him why he got them mixed up. He said, "Well i knew it started with H and it was six letters. So there."

Harper. Not Hamlet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

first world problems

my cell phone dropping bars and not getting to use the internet.
my four hundred dollar iPhone.

being frustrated by waiting in line at the eye dr and Wells Fargo.
to deposit a large paycheck and see my world-class surgeon for free thanks to health insurance.

going over our food budget and having to tighten up this month.
we had the ability to go over by two hundred dollars. and we didn't even notice.

frustrations about a tiny apartment, a water heater that is finicky, and an old fridge.
a cozy, air conditioned apartment, blazing hot water whenever we want, and a fridge overflowing with food that we had to throw out because it went bad.

these were the things i complained about this week.

i'm not proud of this list.

i passed a homeless man on the interstate today. he had a sign that said "hungry."

i went two hundred dollars over our food budget last month.

i'm humbled.

but not hungry.

and that is truly sobering.

i have clean water. i'm not being trafficked. i'm not sleeping on the streets of ethiopia waiting for life saving surgery. i don't go to bed hungry.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sweet Baby E!

Yes, it's true! Emmy or Ever will, Lord willing, be joining our little family in January.

We are overjoyed and thankful to the Lord for His gracious gift.

People have already been asking some of these questions, so I figured I'd just answer them all!

-"Why those names?"

These particular names don't have family significance, we just really loved them. Our odd last name is tricky and long, so we tried to consider that in our choice. Emmersyn Grace means "embracing the grace of God", and Everett Jude means "strong and faithful one". We love those meanings. We are calling the baby "E" for now. Yes, we are finding out the gender, sometime in August.

-"How many weeks are you? You're already showing!"

Yes, it is true. Petite girls tend to show pretty fast, and at 5'2", I was showing at week 6! Appropriate weight gain for someone of my size is 25-30 pounds. So far, at week 14, I have gained 6.5 pounds, so I am right on track, hoping my appetite will pick up soon. I was really, really ill through the first 12 weeks, throwing up at least once daily, so I am very thankful for the second trimester, since the nausea is already settling down (thank you LORD!)

-"What will you do about work?"

We are praying about what to do, but confident the Lord will provide necessary work. Drew has a great job with benefits, so the main purpose of me working is supplemental income for getting out of debt. We have student loans from nursing school, so most likely I will need work part time to knock those out after E arrives. I am hoping to be home as much as I can early on, and we are praying about what that will look like. We have never wanted to do daycare, so we will work it out without daycare.

-"What is the Bradley Method?"

We have chosen the Bradley Method for our birth plan. Of course, you can never tell what will happen with a birth, so we are open to however it happens. The Bradley Method is also known as "husband coached childbirth" and is a plan centered around diet, exercise, and "signposts" of labor. There is also a 12 week class you can participate in with an accredited teacher. Unlike some "all natural" plans, I liked this approach, because the focus is on training your body just like you would for a marathon with correct exercise and diet. I also appreciated that it doesn't make you feel like a total failure if something arises and you have to have a c-section. We have chosen to give birth in a hospital. We both feel the most comfortable with this, because of my past heart/asthma/eye complications, and because it makes me feel less anxious to know the hospital is equipped to handle an emergency for me as well as baby. I am fully aware that midwives can also offer this service, but as a nurse, it just is the best plan for me. People have all sorts of opinions about what is "right" and I have to say, it is different for every woman. I don't enjoy being told that the choice we have made is "wrong", because I know it could be right or wrong for each person! This is just the choice we prayed about and feel most comfortable with. I have done significant (and unending!) research about many methods and feel they all have something good to offer. This route is right for us and precious E. It may change as we get closer, but the research-based shorter labor evidence is enough for me! :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Confessions of a (former) Shopaholic

When my dear husband and I married, I was the spender. He was the saver. So when he brought out the dreaded budget spreadsheet, I cringed on the inside. I wasn't in tremendous debt (save a hundred bucks on a credit card), but I definitely wasn't saving, or even strategically getting through a month without squeaking by at the end. I also didn't have a healthy relationship with finances, and I needed to. So I grudgingly accepted the budget (after making my husband turn it into a pink excel sheet :) and began to understand how money REALLY works. And the effects it carries with it. Now that we are newly married, thinking about a family in the future, and paying off my student loans, it means buckling down to really hammer out the details of our budget. I've learned a few things in the last six months, and I'm slowly (dare I say it), becoming a...saver. So how did I do it? How'd my husband change me from "Becky Bloomwood", shop-a-holic with a closet full of unworn clothes, to a girl who actually enjoys saving money? You can do it too.

1) Step one: collect all your receipts and save them for a month. This will show you where you are blowing through your money and where you may be spending less than you think. I was spending way too much on coffee, and spending less than I thought on gas.

2) Set realistic goals: The truth is, some things happen, and it's best to allow room. And you have to budget every single category. We have categories for coffee, movies, clothes, and household. The first month we tried this, we set our food budget at a modest 250.00. Needless to say, we absolutely obliterated about 450.00 the first month. So we compromised. Our food budget is about 300-350 monthly now, and if I really use coupons, I can usually knock it under 300. 450 was overly generous, 250 wasn’t realistic. Find a middle ground. A lot of people don’t agree with buying coffee out. They want you to get an espresso machine and save a ton of money by “making it yourself”. Here’s the deal: Husband and I work M-F, leaving around 8 or 9 and coming home at 5 or 6. And when I wake up or come home, I don’t want to make my own coffee. I love Starbucks. It’s not realistic to cut it out of our budget so we make a reasonable amount and stick to it. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

3) When you fail, try again. Some months, we have utterly failed at our food our household budget. We eat out too much, or things crowd our schedule, making it hard to cook and bring lunches to work. It happens. Work with it. Get back on track and work harder.

4) Wait for deals. Use coupons. We wanted to book a flight for an upcoming vacation, but flights were absurd. We held out and today, we got TWO round trip tickets for the price of ONE! I also watch for special sales that I can combine coupons with. If you read the fine print, and it doesn’t say you can’t combine, then you can grab some amazing deals. Here’s some of the deals I’ve used recently:

-KFC: Meal deal was 14.99, I found a 10 dollar off coupon online, printed it off, and got an 8 piece meal for 4.99.

-Victoria’s Secret: I had a gift card for 25.00, used 2 VS rewards cards for 10 each and got sweatpants, two tops, and a tanktop for 5.00.

-Kohls: Kohl’s CASH is awesome. I saved up a bunch and found some 50.00 wedges for half off, which made them 25.00. With 20.00 of cash the cost was 5.00!

-Found a 40 percent Nike coupon online. Used it at Lady Foot Locker and was able to combine it with some clearance Nike wear and snagged a 50 dollar ensemble for 10.00!

-Walgreens and Target: I use manufacturer’s coupons to get some great deals on sale items like men’s razors for husband, pasta, tampons, lightbulbs, and toothpaste. I used an 8.00 off coupon for a men’s razor that was 9.99. It went on sale for 8.00 and it was FREE.

5) Change your standards: Learn that you can live somewhere that maybe isn't your "dream house", because it's financially responsible. We live in a teensy-weensy apartment that is dirt-cheap in costs. We save a TON, money thats being funneled to student loans, savings, and vacation. I love our home. I've made it really cute, cozy, and a place we love to come home to. Is it our "dream house"? No. It's clean, safe, and it's where we are at for now. We are moving to a larger place in November, but for now, its perfect. You may envision your mansion, or it may be a pride issue, but when you get down to it, a "dream house" when you're just starting out means you are racking up debt or spending more than you're saving. Let go of the dream, make your home a happy and healthy place to be, and enjoy the savings and the financial freedom. Also, don't play the martyr. If you are around your friends and family and all you can talk about is how "poor" you are, or how you can't go here or there because of finances, your likeability will plummet as fast as your bank balance. Make a budget, and learn to live happily within your means without depressing everyone around you.

6) Give generously: The best part of having a budget and sticking to it is that you can give generously, without being stressed and without getting yourself in trouble/debt. I’m able to take a short trip next week and pay for gas/gifts for my friend who is getting married. Make giving to other a priority and you will find yourself in better financial shape than ever.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Don't Miss This Moment

I sincerely thought my niece just turned 7.

I have been telling everyone glowing stories about my amazing "seven year old" niece. Turns out...she turned eight in March. How did that even happen? She is learning violin now. And reading. And she got her ears pierced and she is gorgeous just like her mama. I look at her and can't believe she is already so grown-up. She lives about 5 hours away, so I don't get to see her as often as I'd like, but I love spending time with her. Today, we are going on a "date". She wants to go to the mall and use a coupon for Claire's (which is every newly-ear-pierced 8 year old's dream), and I took a half day at work to spend the day with her. I look at her and my precious nephew Benjamin, who is battling a severe form of epilepsy every day, and my 2 year old chubby-cheeked nephew Beckham and I just want to freeze time. Beckham went around giving us all goodnight kisses the other night, and I wanted to just stop time. I don't want to miss these moments. Beck got around to everyone except his new Uncle Drew and looked at his mama and said "And Dwew?" and then went around to give him a goodnight kiss too. I melted. These are precious moments.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"bloom where you're planted"

all of our nursing graduating class has pretty much hit the panic button. when the hospitals announced they were taking very few of us new grads, i think everyone panicked. we figured jobs would be a shoe-in...the easy part. we were wrong. i think we're all scared that we just went to school for nothing, racked up tons of debt, and now will be fighting to get out of it for the next ten years. it scares me too. i am going to be about 30k in student loans (an amount, which amazingly, is pennies compared to some of my classmates, who are in 75-150k!), which is not awful for a program that costs approximately 20k a year. it's not a fun feeling. my husband is very calm and has formulated a brilliant plan that involves us getting OUT of debt in about three years. (i might add, my plan was really good too. except it involved new dresses and going to the carribean, so he won. but it still sounded pretty fun.) i've had to step back and stop worrying. it's not as if God was watching and suddenly went, "OHHH dear, i had no clue THAT was going to happen!" He knows. i'll get a job. it's just a phase. a weird, uncomfortable phase, but one that is teaching me more and more trust.

this whole year has been a phase. adjusting to marriage, finishing school, plenty of crazy life changes that have pushed me and grown me. i'm really thankful. i look back over my "single" college years, when i was free to go out and spend my money on eating out and margaritas with the girls, and staying up too late. it was a phase too. and yesterday when i was out with the girls (sans margaritas!), around 5pm, i just wanted to go home. i miss my husband when i'm not with him. this is a new phase, and i wouldn't trade my "single life" for a moment of it. this is a new phase, a beautiful, crazy, wonderful phase of life. It involves laundry and grocery shopping and budgets and date nights. I've heard girls say they didn't know how to adjust to marriage because they missed their free time. They lost their "identity". I say, either they didn't have a very good start to begin with, or they had a husband who didn't really care. It's sad when women don't know how to thrive in marriage, and sad when husbands don't know how to help them grow within in. it's not stifling. it's freeing. I've been really blessed with a husband who inspires me to do well in my company, my schoolwork, my hobbies. I've traded glamour magazines and margaritas in for dishes and 9pm bedtime and 5 day workweeks. and God is so good. Marriage is great. Life is peaceful and messy. God is still good, still sovereign over all of it!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lady Gaga and All Her Little Monsters

Let it be known that I don't condone Lady Gaga. I've danced to her music and I listen to her first album while at the gym, but I definitely don't think her recent inappropriate outfits and very sexualized music are appropriate for anyone to listen to. I would never let my children listen to any song other than "Just Dance", and I change the channel when her barely-there outfits are plastered all over our television set.

But I watched a recent interview with her on Good Morning America, and I was sort of blown away. Not by her music, because it's highly sexual overtones were definitely over the line for family viewing, but by her interview. I think it was her eyes. I have never seen such sad eyes on someone. For being someone who supports people's opinions that they were "born this way", she sure doesn't seem very happy in her own skin. Recent allegations of a facial restructuring also make me think she is really not that happy with the girl under all the crazy outfits. She is a very pretty lady, from what I could see at the beginning of her career, and it's a little sad that she is trying to push the boundaries so much. The second thing that hit me was the crowd. GMA said it was the "largest crowd" their summer concert series (which has seen the likes of Brad Paisley and Keith Urban) they have ever seen. In history. And a crowd it was...stretching all the way to Times Square allegedly, and sweeping all the way through the streets. And I watched the cameras pan all through the crowd, full of teens and adults and even children dressed in gay pride tee shirts and pro-homosexual gear...people cheering and clinging to what she was offering them. They looked at her like she was a god. Broken, hurting people reaching out for something. Anything.

And I felt suddenly, sickeningly, guilty.

Millions of hurting people are clinging to Lady Gaga because she is filling a void. She, as twisted and volatile as her theology may be, has connected with these hurting teens and adults and people who don't fit in anywhere. People I don't hang out with. People who rarely even cross my mind.

Jesus would have hung out with these people.

He would have offered them, not a flimsy, sexual replacement for Hope, but the real thing.

I don't believe in Lady Gaga, but the fact is, millions of people believe in her message of hope, because the church, myself included, haven't offered them the actual thing. It's convicting and painful and true.

I hope Lady Gaga finds a truth she can truly cling to, one that will fill the void in her eyes and the bigger one in her heart. I truly hope she can find the person she wants to be and make a difference in the lives of the people who follow her. But moreover, I hope I can be part of the change that fills that void in the lives of people around me...with Jesus. WIth real Hope, a true future. Starting with our neighbor. Bob (not his real name), a broken and sad man who lives across the street from us...who is looking for something he hasn't found yet at a church where he says "east meets west in the teaching of Buddha and Jesus", but is genuinely being cared for by the people at that church. I haven't stepped up to care for him. I need to. I need to bring him dinner and my husband and I need to continue to show kindness to him for no reason.

So Lady Gaga, this post is for you. You may not understand what you're looking for, but I hope you find Him soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

THIS girl... officially done with nursing school!

Those words felt like they would never come from my mouth. The past five years have stretched me and grown me, often in very difficult and painful ways, and I cannot wait to move on with my life! I'm thankful for nursing school, because I grew up while I was in the program. I became a more compassionate, mature, professional person. I became a nurse. I'm grateful for my parents who never stopped believing I could make it, and my family and my husband who never let me quit. And to my teachers who found a nurse somewhere inside that terrified 19-year-old who started the program in 2007. Mostly to the Lord who got me through sleepless nights, patients dying, crying myself to sleep, endless exams, and Who is responsible for all my success.

1 Kings 8:56
Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised! Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why I'm thankful I didn't get my perfect job.

This past week, I was definitely crushed to find out that the position I had been promised, had been told I would be the forerunner for, and for which I have been working extremely hard for, was not going to be filled because of budget cuts. I barely held back tears as I left the hiring office. This position was supposed to be a "shoe-in"...easy...well-paying...perfect. In an instant, it was gone.

To be honest, as I was wrapping up last week's clinical week, I felt pretty purpose-less. All the effort I had been directing to this job seemed very non-consequential now. I was pretty frustrated with the unit, with myself for letting myself get my hopes up before I signed the papers, and with the Lord for what I perceived as "taking away" what I wanted. (I am sure the Lord was less than thrilled with my temper tantrum).

So this Sunday, when my pastor asked for volunteers in our church's disability ministry, I must confess my initial thoughts were less than holy. "I'm a nurse", I thought, "I should be working in a high stress surgical unit, not volunteering at the church". (I know, I was definitely less-than-thrilled with my own heart's attitude).

And of course, the Lord pretty much smacked me upside the head and nudged my heart to open up to the idea that He is going to use me here. And that maybe, that perfect job was taken away in order to allow me more time to work with the precious little ones at my church. Precious kids like my own niece who has severe autism, and my nephew who has severe epilepsy.

How humbled I was.

How good the Lord is to move us towards where we need to be.

Even if it means my "perfect" job wasn't so perfect after all.

So here goes...this new venture, of other's centered-ness. Of loving where I am. Of deciding that volunteering just may change my heart more than that ideal job. Of offering my schedule up to being open to serve.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What no one tells you about nursing school...

They tell you it's going to be hard...

They tell you patients will die and patients will live and you will walk through both daily...

They tell you that you will have nights that you will cry for hours...

They tell you that there will be days so full of joy and hope...

And the feeling of accomplishment you have is overwhelming...

But they don't tell you...
No one tells you that the last term is emotional. bittersweet. stressful. fulfilling. exhausting. No one tells you that the people who have walked beside you for four years will become like your family. you cant imagine your life without all of them. No one tells you how exhausted working back to back long shifts will make you. No one tells you how stressful it is to get everything done to graduate. No one tells you how emotional everything becomes. i'm so happy to be done, but graduation hit me today, and i realized how much nursing school has shaped me into who i am. No one tells you that it will make you compassionate, that you will understand the people around you more and more. No one tells you how it feels to find out your patient died. No one tells you what it's like to have to tell a patient's family that something went wrong. No one prepares you.
No one will tell you that you'll meet the impoverished.
The broken.
The amazing.
The uncomfortable.
The forgotten.

it's been all consuming for almost five years. it's a lot of mixed emotions. i'm happy but also sad, and exhausted all at once. No one tells you that.

We've finally almost made it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

those girls.

my husband and i can't help but snicker a little bit when my grandma watches jeopardy. we watch it too, but she always comments on the weight of the contestants. it's funny, because of the tone she uses and her totally indignant comments, but it's sobering too.
because i do it too.
you know those girls, right? the ones you see in wal mart or downtown. girls overweight, with heavy eyeliner, wearing less-than-modest clothes. they don't dress in style, they probably never finished high school...we think all these things. they are the
teen mom.
the girl who sleeps around.
the one who does drugs.
and i know i have made those comments too. i have sat in starbucks, sipping five dollar coffee, wearing designer jeans, holding my coach bag... and making snide comments about the girls who clearly have no concept of fashion or style. i cringe just writing it. but i do.
maybe their sin is evident. maybe they slept around in high school and that's why they are toting around a toddler or two. maybe they did drugs and that's why they're missing some teeth. maybe they are promiscuous, and that's why they show so much skin.
and i am no better.
just because we, as a society have become quite good at covering up our "white collar sins"...sins like gossip, slander, doesn't mean they are not there. and i may be well dressed and have my hair done and have a good job or wear expensive shoes..but it doesn't matter if my heart is still sinful.
moreover....those girls? the ones we are so quick to judge?
i see some of them in the hospital and their stories are not as they seem.
it's a shattered heart behind eyeliner.
it's an eating disorder behind twenty extra pounds.
it's a date rape victim behind the missing teeth.
a struggling single mother behind the two toddlers.
and it may be a homeless teen behind the "unstylish" clothes.


me too.

i am each and every day that i meet these girls in the hospital. every shift is a parade of patients, each one, i am certain, sent from the Lord to smack me over the head with humility. these girls have the whole world pointing fingers and whispering about them. they already don't feel loved, whole, or beautiful. and the last thing they need is me adding to the noise.

with a little help from my friends

it's about time to introduce you to some of my blogging friends and their incredible journeys. i am so thankful to know such amazing people!

Addi is one of my dearest, most inspiring friends. She is on a journey of recovery from an eating disorder, and she shares her eloquent and inspirational thoughts on her blog, along with fun pictures and her impeccable fashion sense. I met Addi a few years ago, and am so thankful the Lord has given me such an amazing friend. We have been through a lot together!

Kelly is currently fighting NF, and is blogging about her fight against tumors. Kell is such a beautiful and strong person, and she always inspires me to have a better attitude and find joy in the small things.

Malerie is the wife of one of Drew's close friends, Kevin, and she is truly a Godly woman and a dear friend. They are journeying down the road of adoption and Drew and I could not be more happy for them! You can read their story at her blog, and also help them raise the funds to bring their little one home.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

a brand new season

I am sure a lot of people cannot imagine why i would be thankful for my recent eye surgery, but i am. i firmly believe that God brings the good and bad into our lives for His glory and to shape us into a people confident in his goodness. was it terrifying? yes. was it inconvenient? yes. but just a few days after the surgery, i was able to see already that God had carefully shaped and created this time of purpose for me.
He has brought me into a brand new season of being. being on bedrest for weeks meant
i couldn't go.
i couldnt do.
i couldnt accomplish.
i had to depend on my husband to clean and cook and dress me and help me in and out of bed. i had to depend on my family and friends to go anywhere. i had to work in short bursts of time while my eye cooperated. i couldnt even read. i could watch tv with one eye on my iPhone for about thirty minutes at a time. you might say, for someone as busy as i am, this was torture. i would say
for someone as achievement driven as me, this was torture.

i was forced to find fulfillment in other things that what i was doing. ouch. and so, God chipped away at the things i was holding onto, at me being a perfect housekeeper, a perfect employee, a perfect manager, a perfect wife. and He said rest. and He said I am sufficient. and so i did.
and i began to see how overloaded i was making myself. i have not had a single asthma or heart fibrillation since my surgery. i have quit my day job. i have watched God provide a way for me to work from home with my company so its easier on my health. i have watched Him provide financially so my company is bringing in twice as much as my day job. i began taking Fridays off, and doing something with my girlfriends, just because. my best friend called me and after i took an hour to listen to her, said "thanks for just listening. thanks for taking the time to bless me with that". time. i never had it before. i have time to cook, time to grocery shop, time to iron my husband's shirts. i almost started crying while i was ironing for him, because i have never made time to do that before. i run three times a week, but i put on the five pounds that my doctor wanted me to, for my low blood pressure. i feel healthy. i feel happy. a few friends have commented on how peaceful i seem, how much more joyful. and i know it's true. i smile more. i read my bible daily because i make time for it. i feel joy when i run. in my book club, we were discussing inner beauty, and how it flows from a woman who is confident in God, and who is peaceful and restful.
i don't think the word "restful" has ever been used in conjunction with me before, but i want to be that woman.

at rest.
confident in a good, gracious and beautiful Savior.
at peace.