Clinging onto Grace

The Setting

Have you ever been tubing behind a boat? It’s an activity I’ve enjoyed since I was a little kid. Sometimes when I’m hanging on tight and being whipped and thrown in every direction, I wonder why I enjoy it. But every time I end it is like a sense of accomplishment and the next opportunity I have, I come back for me.  Lately life has felt a bit like that. It’s a funny thing when life heads in a different direction than you planned and you grab onto the rope just trying to hang on. It almost feels like I’ve been half on a tube hanging on one handed for the last nine months of my life just trying to keep my head from going below and swallowing a bunch of water. Can anyone else relate?

If the me from nine months ago was looking in on my current life I wouldn’t even have any idea it was my life. The only things that are stable are my furniture, my dog, my cell phone number, and the fact that I remain an oncology nurse. So, I guess, when I reflect on the fact I feel exhausted and a bit wandering, it feels a bit more understandable.

Nine months ago I was dating someone, but knew it was probably about to end. I had absolutely no idea though how the break up would be drug out and get worse and worse as time went on. I had no idea that the duplex I had called home for 3 years would  no longer be my home come July 13th. I had no idea that I was headed from outpatient oncology to inpatient oncology. I had no idea that the women’s group I had been leading and leaning on for 3 years would be going on, but without me there. I had no idea that everything about my day to day life was about to change.

It’s all about grace…

So, as I’ve continued on in this season of learning about and leaning into grace, I’m learning more than ever what it means to give myself grace. As I navigate the somewhat familiar, but not home like streets of Indianapolis. As I learn a whole new job. As I hit speed bump after speed bump in life, or I guess, if we’re still going with the tubing concept, huge wave after huge wave, I’m learning I can’t have it all together. I’m learning that establishing a whole new home, a whole new job, a whole new church, a whole new friend group, and a whole new routine — it is absolutely exhausting.

And as I look around, I realize, we are all exhausted from this thing called life. I wonder how is it that we can help each other by easing the big waves, or providing assistance to help grab the other handle, or how is it we can help slowdown the boat to help each other? How is it that we can help each other to travel along life easier? And I think the answer comes in grace. Letting go of expectations where they should not be, giving people grace when they mess up, and realizing that we need to lean into the grace provided from up above.

Grace — I’m clinging onto you with every weary bone in my body. Trusting that this crazy tubing ride like life will at some point slow to a comforting float, but until that season, I’ll cling to grace.

The Year of 30 – Fear Facing

This morning I was sitting at my desk going through the stacks of cards I received for my birthday.

I hate my birthday, bad things happen, and this year was no different. As I reflected on this stack of cards, but more importantly who they came from and the words inside, I’m thankful. Often, when things are imploding around us, we tend to forget that we matter to people.

I had a really, really hard time turning 30. It felt like I was no longer “young”. I felt like I had accomplished so much between 20-25 and not so much between 26-30. I mean when you graduate 3 times in a 3 year span, it is kind of hard to beat such accomplishments again. 

So as I was turning 30, I reflected on the goals/aspirations I had that had not yet been obtained. My dream of being a nurse practitioner (yes, more school), has not yet been obtained. My dream of being a wife and mother has not yet come to fruition. I hadn’t traveled as much as I had planned. In many ways I still felt unsettled, a lack of stability. I also reflected on what the last half of my 20’s was, and what it was surprised me. It was a lot of healing from damaging relationship of all kinds in my early 20’s. It was also a lot of making a career for myself, which included surviving the night shift and the endless hours of anxiety a new nurse goes through. They were years of self discovery and self reflection. They were years that have brought me to where I am today, and for that I am thankful.

So last week as I faced turning 31 and parts of my life were in shambles around me, I actually didn’t struggle. Because if I’m honest, my 30’s have been off to a great start with loads of adventure. Also, I trust that my dreams will come to be when the time is ready, and with the right people and the right school programs. I have a peace about trusting in the timing to be right, and less of a need to get everything accomplished NOW.

Over the past year I went to Costa Rica and faced my fear of heights by jumping of the side of mountains to go zip-lining  and I would do it again in a heart beat.

I dated guys that are completely out of my normal and learned a great deal and have great memories as a result.

“Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”

After a great deal of wrestling over the decision and praying, I took on a management position at work. It hasn’t been easy, actually far from it, but as my wise little brother told me “Leadership isn’t a skill you have, it is a skill you learn”. And everyday, I am learning this more and more. But, I have to say, when someone says “my boss” in reference toe me, my immediate response is “that’s not me!”… and then I realize, actually technically, yes it is.

I faced a lot of fears this past year both personally and professionally. I feel like my word(s) for the year of 30 was fear facing and as I enter 31, grace is what resonates. Grace for others. Grace for myself. Grace for where I’ve been and where I’m going. But most importantly sitting in the beauty of the grace from my Heavenly Father – knowing that I will never be enough but through His grace, He is enough for me. There is a freedom in knowing I can’t reach the state of perfection I’ve longed to reach for so long, but in Him I am fulfilled. My job is simply to walk in His grace and be the best me I can be. So 31, let’s do this.

 

 

Just Around the River Bend

If there’s one thing most people know about me, it’s that I’m not an “outdoorsy” person.  Now that doesn’t mean that I hate nature.  I just prefer to enjoy it while I’m sitting on a beach or from the backseat of the car as my family drives through the Smoky Mountains.  You see growing up in my family, our idea of fun didn’t consist of hiking or camping or canoeing.  We would go to places like Gatlinburg not for the mountains, but for the miniature golfing, shopping, and dining.  So this is why at the age of 29, I just went canoeing for the very first time in my life.

see our facebook page for details (2)

I assumed that maneuvering a canoe down the river would be a fairly simple task.  I mean it’s not white water rafting.  You just have to paddle the canoe in the right direction.  After all Pocahontas makes it looks so easy while she’s singing “Just Around the Riverbend”.   How hard could this be?

It took about thirty seconds before I realized how hard canoeing was actually going to be.  My friend and I had barely pushed off from the bank of the river before I had us turned around and going backwards.  As if keeping the canoe in the right direction wasn’t hard enough, we also managed to unsuccessfully avoid several tree branches that were dangling over the river bank.  (It was about this time as I was being whacked in the face with tree branches that I remembered why I’m not an outdoorsy person.)

Surprise, surprise.  Canoeing turned out to be a lot harder than a cartoon character made it look in the movies.  One thing was for sure, you didn’t know what was waiting just around the riverbend.  Sometimes there was an easy stretch of water where we didn’t have to paddle as hard, and we could enjoy the scenery.  Then the next thing you knew, you were trying to keep the canoe from tipping over in the wake of a passing jet ski.

Looking back on that day, I realize how much life is like trying to maneuver a canoe down the river.  There are times when life is easy and you can just enjoy the ride.  However, there are also the days when something you weren’t expecting rocks your boat, and you find yourself just trying to stay afloat.  In those moments, I was thankful that I wasn’t the only one in the canoe.  Even though there were times when my friend may have wanted to push me out of the canoe (something about not paddling hard enough), I was thankful to have her experience to guide us out of those rougher waters.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life over the last few years, it’s the importance of having a community to support and guide you through those rougher waters.  When I graduated from college seven years ago, I expected my future would be smooth sailing down a straight path.  What I didn’t expect was seven summers of job searching, multiple temporary teaching positions, and being turned down too many times to count for various positions.  It was a rough ride with many twists and turns, but throughout it all I had the support of family, friends, and coworkers.  They listened when I needed to vent my frustrations, encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to quit, and prayed that God would lead me to the right job.  Just like my canoe trip down the river, my path to finding a teaching job wasn’t an easy journey, but I never felt like I was navigating through it alone and that made all the difference.

So maybe canoeing wasn’t quite as easy as Pocahontas made it look in the movie, but she was knew what she was talking about when she said that the water’s always changing, always flowing.  Life is the same way; always changing, always flowing.  So when life has you turned around paddling up stream or smacks you in the face with another unexpected obstacle, lean in to those around you for the guidance and support you need to keep going.   It’s so much easier to navigate those rough waters when you know that you have someone who will see you through whatever is waiting just around the river bend.

Being Called Home

This week has been an incredibly long one. I don’t know exactly what it is about getting older which makes things always a little more sentimental. We get a little more serious. We realize the things that were important in our youth, aren’t really AS important on the grand scheme of life. On Wednesday, I caught myself saying “Is tomorrow only Thursday?” and Thursday came and I wished so much I could take back those words.

We are drawn to certain people in our lives that touch our hearts in such a way as to never quite fully know the impact they have until it is too late. It was no accident I wound up at Indiana University and was a cheerleader there. It was no mistake either. I was so blessed to have met some awesome life long friends and people who you hope never to lose track of on your continuing journey. Regardless of whether these individuals were past or present of this family program, they will always be there to support and love on you. Todd was one of those individuals. On Thursday morning, I found out that Todd lost his fight with his second bout of cancer. Todd’s first bout was while cheering at IU. He was 21 years old and having to bravely fight for his life then. He tackled that battle that nearly killed him right then and there and that is when everything became so much more important.

Proverbs35to6

Here was a soul that was so encouraging. He always wore a smile on his face and always remained positive even when faced with an uphill battle. He was the one that was always your advocate. Todd was a man of God. I know through both of his battles, his faith never wavered. His example of compassion and kindness are exemplary. All I could do is sob in heartbroken disbelief that this man was now called home. I am happy that he is no longer suffering, and yet at the same moment I realized the impact this very man had on my heart and soul.

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Tie A Knot and Hang On

“When you come to the end
of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

I still remember the night in exact detail. I was visiting my parents for Christmas in Indiana, Steven was on his 2nd deployment within our short 17 month marriage at that time. He had been gone only 4 weeks. I was 17 weeks pregnant with Madelynn (our first) and headed back to San Diego the next day.

My mom and I had gone to have our haircut, but before we left my dad called. He had been traveling which is not unusual. After the call my mom was much quieter. When we got home my mom snatched their laptop and went to her room. I thought nothing of it and I sat down to watch tv before bed. My dad came home about half hour later and both of them came to the living room and turned off the tv and sat in front of me. That’s when I knew something bad had happened.

My brother-in-law Geoff had been killed in action in Afghanistan on January 13, 2010. My heart broke. Geoff was 21. Just 21. It was too soon. He was going to be an uncle. He wanted to be an Army Ranger. He was smart, funny, entertaining and always reminded me he had my back. I wanted it to be an awful joke. But it wasn’t. What it was, was the beginning of an awful week.

militarypicutre

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How I will Chase 2015

Did you read Erica’s post on choosing a word to inspire your year? If not check it out here. I love this idea and just reading hers made me want to chase the year too.

Chase Hope

So I thought I would let you in on what I am going to chase for 2015. And go a step further and let you in a little on how I plan to chase some of these things. So here goes…

1. Healthier Eating – I addressed a lot of this in my post Back On the Wagon. Just getting down to eating cleaner and less processed food.

2. Give More – I want to give more of myself to people. I give a lot to my children and husband, which fills my heart with joy. But I know that now that I am no longer attached to a baby constantly, I have the time and ability to give more of my time and myself to things like volunteering and helping friends. I plan to be more involved in our church and really become vulnerable and closer with friends.

3. Physical Challenges – My biggest physical challenge is coming up in 4 months, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. And on top of that I want to challenge myself to complete 100 miles of walking/running in a month (I have yet to choose the month, but I will). I also want to sign up for more fun runs that include obstacles to be challenging and fun.

4. Grow Closer to Christ – I want my children to be able to see the love that God has for them through me. To do this I need to become closer to Christ so I can be more like Him. I want to show the love, kindness, generosity, and patience that He has with us everyday.

5. Save Money – My husband and I both know we want to start saving more money and are working on plans to save monthly for things like Christmas and birthdays. Also to start saving money to one day (after Navy retirement) buy a house.

I challenge you to chase this year. Chase the things that you want to accomplish. Find even just one thing to actually go after with all you can. Come up with a plan to do this and be intentional with your plan. Don’t just say you are going to workout or spend more time with your family. Plan out your workout days and family fun days. I challenge you to truly ‘Chase 2015’ with all you can!

Single During the Holidays – It Really is OKAY

Today I had the privilege of taking care of one of my favorite patients. He is an older gentleman and often forgets what he asked me the week before. As a result, some of his questions repeat themselves, including his advice. It is a regular question to ask me if I am married and when I answer no, if I am dating someone, I then say no again. His response is always “and that is okay!”

But today he went on to tell me more. He went on to tell me how he has 2 daughters and that he always talked to them about waiting for the right one, no matter how long it took. He was encouraging me as he told me his one daughter had to wait until she was 30, but for both of his daughters how he couldn’t find a better guy for each one of them even if he had interviewed guys for 100 years straight. He didn’t make me feel sorry for being single, he didn’t tell me I was doing it wrong, he just encouraged me that waiting for the right one is the important fact. He assured me that where I am now as a 28 year-old-single women, is okay, in fact, that there is nothing wrong with it. He didn’t make me feel like less of a person or less interesting because I have no husband or kids at home yet.

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Some day I hope to have more than just my own feet, but I’m beyond thankful for this time of growing and learning as a single woman.

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Community is Good for the Soul

Friday night was one of those nights I sat there in awe wondering, “how can I be so blessed?” Like many people my age, I don’t have family closer than 3.5 hours away and am not married. That means that my life could be pretty lonely. It means that I could feel like I have no one to call in an emergency. But as I sat in my home Friday night and looked around, I was overwhelmed with the very fact that my friends are my family here in Chicagoland. That at any point if crisis or need I could call on a number of them and I know they would be there.

Small Group From Church
My church Small Group’s Halloween party

In today’s society we want everything instant and we often shy away from deep. Deep means you risk the chance of getting hurt. Deep means that people won’t always see that perfect selfie, but rather people may see the tear-stained face that comes after a pretty tough couple of weeks. Deep means that your answer to the question “How are you?” isn’t always, “I’m good.” Rather at times, you can look at someone and honestly say, “you know, it kind of sucks at this moment.” Continue reading “Community is Good for the Soul”

Being You

Friday was the day of great revelries with costumes, candies, and corpses. The one day of the year when you are allowed to be what you are not. Or is it?

husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony
Husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony

In today’s society of electronic media and online social networking, we can be whomever we want to be at any time. Everyone has the tools to be a celebrity – perfect selfies, enlightening foodie shots, posting statuses perfectly crafted to make every moment as dramatic as possible. That is what people see. That is what we want people to see. But it isn’t everything. Continue reading “Being You”

Gather Around the Fire Pit/Camp Fire/Bonfire

In the suburbs of Chicago, the words “bonfire,” “camp fire,” and “fire pit” are used interchangeably to describe a fire built in a back yard. If you are from an area where you allowed to burn leaves on your property, have used a tree trunk for a bonfire, or don’t have any neighbors, you may be scratching your head wondering how on Earth those words could mean the same thing.

fire pit, bonfire, camp fire, community

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