Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I just printed out my completed degree audit.  That's right, I am officially done with college.  But for those of you who are unfamiliar with the nursing world, unfortunately, this does not mean I am done taking tests forever.  A four-year education gives me a BSN.  In order to obtain my RN license I need to pass the NCLEX, which is my next task after graduation.  This will require many days of studying for hours and taking way too many ATI tests on my laptop, crossing my fingers that I score high enough to not need to retake them again. I plan to visit every coffee shop in the Harrisburg area and I will keep you all posted as to which shop has the best atmosphere and who's making the best lattes around.  Any bad latte will be replaced immediately by a fresh cup of dunkin donuts coffee (of course).

As for the rest of my summer plans, I am a little apprehensive but eager to step into a season of 'rest' for the next three months.  I start my nursing job after the wedding in the end of August, and I decided to take the summer to just prepare myself for everything in life, because it's all in this huge process of changing.  I hope to spend lots of time in prayer, reading, getting coffee with friends, preparing and reviewing to begin working in August, planning the wedding, and enjoying this season of engagement as well as my last few months at home with my parents.  

I wish I had the time to write about every day from the last few weeks, but that's not really logical.  Some highlights of my life these last few weeks include:

-Spending last Tuesday at the Indianapolis Zoo with Emily and Emma (our little baby-friend).  Emily watches Emma a couple times a week, and this year, I ended up spending a lot of those afternoons with them.  Emma has seen me cry countless times, and I swear that child already has the gift of empathy.

-Seeing evidence of all the growth in Loretta over the last few years and spending time in prayer on our last night together.  It is hard to believe Em and I have been mentoring her for the last four years, and she is graduating from high school in June.  Love her to pieces, and I'm dreading saying goodbye to her.

-Being completely covered in love at my bridal shower here at school this past weekend.  I am so grateful for the girls who are a part of my life, and for the ways they encourage me and make me laugh.

-Receiving the most precious and loving gifts from my residents this week before our last unit dinner.  They gave me a huge basket full of gifts from each of the girls and lots of letters and words of encouragement and thanks.  I have been so blessed by the girls in Beckett east 2 east, and I will miss them greatly.

-Taking the plunge into the pool in those lovely white scrubs with the rest of the senior nursing majors.  Fact: I did not know how to get to the pool.  Senior swim was a blast.  

-The culmination of my time in North (Beckett) Hall came last night on my final night on duty.  Tradition here in Beckett Hall is to have a dance party the night before finals are over.  This year, we decided to go big or go home.  We went big.  Let's just say, I ended the night dripping in sweat with a white Santa wig on my head.  With that many eastside staff alum in the room, we of course ended the night with the biggest and most energetic rendition of "Eastside We'll Make Tigers Out of You" I have ever been a part of.  Surrounded by girls from each of the staffs I have been a part of, it was just great.

Tomorrow, my parents get here.  The next day, Steve, Andrea and Paul will be here and graduation stuff starts.  I'm ready! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

When Oceans Rise

I wrote down a quote from my Fine Arts class three years ago, and today it describes how I feel to a T. 
"Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can't talk about it."        -Karl Paulnack   
Thursday night, I heard the song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" off of the new Hillsong CD for the first time.  I spent a few hours in the practice rooms playing the piano and soaking up the goodness of this song and its lyrics yesterday.  This has been my prayer for this week, and I have felt encouraged and lifted up continuously.  

Today was my second clinical rotation in critical care, and I feel completely drained.  I put this song on repeat for the drive home and wept as I attempted to grasp the things I experienced during my 12 hour shift. In the clinical setting, it is easy to 'celebrate' a moment when something eventful happens or you get to watch a new procedure or learn about a unique disease process.  And then you realize that behind that event or that disease is a person with a family and a story.  I don't know if I will ever be able to forget the way I felt this afternoon.  All I know is that as I stood there, I knew I had two options: to either burst into tears or keep my eyes above the waves.  

                               "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)"

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Beyond the scope of nursing and clinicals, these words challenge me to truly trust in God as I head into a season of unknowns and new beginnings.  He has never failed, and He won't start now.  He will lead me and guide me in the deepest of waters.  There is nothing to fear.  

What 'oceans' are rising in your life? Are you resting in His embrace? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

The last six days in Pennsylvania have only strengthened my coffee addiction.  With over seven types of creamer staring at me in the fridge and several Dunkin Donuts shops in the area, I have hit an all-time high/low.  My mom is my biggest coffee inspiration, drinking easily six cups a day, often followed by some decaf in the evening.  Two days ago, she and I threw our empty cups in the back seat of my car as we pulled up to the window at another Dunkin Donuts to collect round two for the day.  We get each other.

Today I pulled out my to-do lists that I made for Spring Break.  I wasn't very surprised when I found that tons of things had been crossed off of the 'Wedding To-Do List' while absolutely nothing had been touched on my 'School To-Do List'. Lame. It is way more fun to pick out wedding invitations and decide on flowers than write a research paper on fall prevention in nursing homes.  I gagged a little when I typed that.  Senioritis is kicking in big time, and I am about to go back to arguably the most hectic and stressful 6 weeks of college I have ever experienced.  As much as I am dreading all of the tests and ATIs and presentations and four remaining 12-hour clinicals, I am anxious to see how this incredible chapter of my life will finish.  There are so many things I still want to do and so many people I wish I could sit and have coffee with (of course) for hours, but I know that my expectations are unrealistic.  If you see me around campus bursting into tears in the next month or two, it's probably going to happen again.  I feel like these last six weeks are the sprint at the end of a crazy and overwhelming marathon.  I do not want to slack off or walk through these days.  I want to give everything I have and pour into the people around me, allowing others to fill me as well.

I'm not sure where to insert this, but I would like you all to know that I ate deer meat yesterday. And I liked it. Andrea's in-laws gave her a ton of deer meat and she has been incorporating it into all kinds of recipes.  Last night she made some asian stir fry with this deer meat, and I was pleasantly surprised.  I don't know if I'll be that adventurous in the kitchen.

I also had the pleasure of going to Steve's soccer game last night at 10:30 pm with his dad and brother.  His team (Balls In Your Face) won 6-0, Steve scored two of the goals.  That last sentence makes me both proud and ashamed.  He did not pick the team name, but it did make for some entertaining comments from the three of us in the stands.  Never a dull moment.

Today, my mom and I are spending the afternoon together.  We'll start with time with Ronn at Blooms by Vickry to discuss flowers for the wedding, and then we'll do what we do best--shop and drink coffee! Steve wants to get all you can eat sushi tonight... I don't know if I have time to mentally prepare for that.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Leaving Home to Go Home

It's Spring Break Folks, and I'm coming home!

Over the last four years, the word home has taken on a completely new meaning in my life.  I remember the day I left home in Pennsylvania to come out to this flat and cold place full of unfamiliar faces.  Four years ago, Marion, Indiana was the farthest thing from home I could ever imagine.  And today, I feel completely known and understood and loved right here in Beckett Hall.  This sad little town has grown on me, and I can't imagine what it will be like to leave for good in only two months.  I need to remind myself that home can be created wherever you are, and as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros say, "home is wherever I'm with you."  I want to soak up all the goodness from both homes over the next two months, but this coming week, I am focusing on Pennsylvania.

I am not really looking forward to the ten hour drive tomorrow by myself, but I plan to make the most of this time with the usual musical hodgepodge of Celine Dion (don't judge), Kelly Clarkson, Ke$ha, Adele, Taylor Swift, and the rest of the gang.  Without fail, I always lose my voice by the end of the drive to/from school.

I have some lofty goals for the next eight days, so we'll see how well I am able to keep up with my own schedule... I've got lots of wedding planning to take care of, a fiance who needs cooking lessons, family and friends to spend time with, a research paper to (hopefully) write, and Jillian Michaels videos waiting for me on my dresser.  But really, I just want to spend every second I can with the people I love.  I don't think I have wanted to go home so badly since my freshman year of college.

For those of you who are also on spring break, I hope this will be a great time of rest and preparation for the end of the semester.  Remember to spend time daily with God and take advantage of this break, no matter how many things are on your schedule.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


As I head into the last two months of college, I am beginning to realize how much change is about to take place in my life.  I decided the best way for me to process and truly embrace everything going on would be to write about it.  And why not share what I'm learning with the people I love? 

This past week I found myself leaning over a bucket and consuming a meager amount of saltine crackers in place of real food.  Oh, the joys of the stomach flu.  In a period of four days I managed to watch Season 1 and Season 2 of Downton Abbey, a feat I am not too proud of.  I also found the time to finish reading Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.  Paige Oler let me borrow Niequist's first book, Cold Tangerines earlier this year.  I decided to purchase both of her books on Amazon a few weeks ago and I have been incredibly challenged and blessed by her raw honesty and pursuant heart after God.  I found myself underlining paragraphs at a time, and laughing and crying as if I was a part of her stories. What I enjoyed so much about these books was the recognition of brokenness and beauty in life, and the evidence of Christ in all seasons of life.  

If there's one thing I have learned from working with Noelle Hagen for three years, it is the value of stories.  Noelle has taught me how valuable and significant my story is, and she encourages everyone she meets to share their story.  One of my favorite Eastside staff traditions is our late night tent talks during August staff training.  We share our stories and let each other into the nitty-gritty parts of our lives.  One of the final chapters in Bittersweet is titled, "Your Story Must Be Told." I thought I would share some quotes from this chapter, and maybe it will nudge you to share your story... 

"There are two myths that we tend to believe about our stories:  the first is that they're about us, and the second is that because they're about us, they don't matter.  But they're not only about us, and they matter more than ever right now.  When we, any of us who have been transformed by Christ, tell our own stories, we're telling the story of who God is." 
"The big story really is actually being told through our little stories, and by sharing our lives, not just our sermons, we're telling God's story in as reverent and divine ways as it has ever been told.  God's story was told in Hebrew and Greek, and I believe that it's also being told in whispers and paintings and blogs and around dinner tables all over the world." 
"There's nothing small or inconsequential about our stories.  There is, in fact, nothing bigger.  And when we tell the truth about our lives--the broken parts, the secret parts, the beautiful parts--then the gospel comes to life, an actual story about redemption, instead of abstraction and theory and things you learn in Sunday school."  

Your story is significant.  My story is significant.  Tell it.  Share it.  Live it.