Friday, August 11, 2017

I Guess the Cat’s Out of the Bag

nursing schoolI guess the cat’s out of the bag, so I might as well make it public…or at least the parts I choose to at this point. It’s kind of late in the week for blog posting (and late in the day for that matter), but who’s looking at stats anyway when you’re ready to share something (I find) pretty exciting!

I’m going back to school! Here’s the back story (in as few words as possible). When I graduated from high school (in 1990 – yikes!), I received a full, four-year scholarship to attend the University of North at Chapel Hill as long as I maintained good grades and my chosen course of study…Nursing. The first year I was there, I made some immature decisions that led me away from UNC, which ultimately let me away from a nursing degree. After attending several other two and four other colleges over many decades, I finally ended up with a degree that I did nothing with. I was a single mom at the time, and I simply wanted the piece of paper. Got it. Now what?

I resolved myself to be content with where I was, and I truly was content. I don’t think I ever felt “settled” in a career, but I felt content in my calling. God had given me various callings through the years, and my desire was to obey Him and Him alone, no matter how crazy the calling might first appear.

In the past few years, I’ve been rather restless, feeling like God had something else on the horizon. I’ve been praying for years that God would reveal His plan for me. Joel and I prayed together, and we both felt He was leading me (over time) to be home with my children. That would be my number one responsibility. I might possibly do to some work on the side or have a personal business that gave me the flexibility to set my own hours, but regardless, we both sensed God was calling me out of the workforce I was in, but we just weren’t yet convinced of the timing.

A few months after our last conversation about the direction God was calling me, I mentioned the nursing thing again to Joel. He was in full support of it, but he only asked that I get my foot fixed first, which, of course, made total sense. He knew I would need to be as close to 100% working in the health care field, and he wanted nothing less than that for me. Having been in the health care industry for over a decade, he brought much wisdom to our conversations and prayers, and I valued and respected his opinions immensely. Ultimately knowing I had his blessing was the very thing that fueled my heart and kept me moving in that direction.

Fast forward to February 12, 2017…the day my heart shattered when my husband left my side (in what I deemed as) prematurely and completely unexpected. Initially, I had no idea what we were going to do. Joel was the bread-winner in our home, my job was over 75 miles away. Thankfully, his life insurance was just enough to allow us to stay where we are for right now, which was very important to me, as I couldn’t fathom putting the children through another change. However, it wasn’t enough for me to sit back in a recliner and have pedicures everyday. (Not that I would personally do that anyway, but you get my point.) Thankfully, between the plethora of tangible support we’ve received from friends, family, and complete strangers, God has made it clear He’s our provider now, and He’s choosing many different platforms in which to provide. And yet…one of those platforms will eventually be through me.

He’s made it clear the time has come for me to go back to school and finally get that Nursing Degree I never got the first time around. I’ve begged Him to open wide the doors I’m to walk through that would indicate this is of no doubt from Him and to slam shut any door that leads to something He’s clearly asking me not to do or something that would impede His calling. So far, there have been many open doors. It’s still taking a lot of work to make it all come together, but that’s the key…it’s ALL coming together.

Today, my littlest wee one went me to my school. He felt like such a “big man on campus.” We had to go pick up my books as well as drop by the financial aid office. Everywhere we go, we sensed Joel’s presence with us. The financial aid officer shared her story of almost losing her 33-year-old to sepsis this past February (same time Joel was sick with). For whatever reason, God spared Benjamin (the name of her son) and called Joel on home to Heaven. Even so, meeting her was such a blessing, and Austyn was amazed as well.

Speaking of financial aid, I was approved for the maximum amount, so I have no expenses this academic year. At. All! Praise God!!! Apart from school, I know the next few years will be very lean and tight, but I cling to God for our provision.

I’ll keep you posted as time goes on, but the biggest (nursing-related) prayer now is that I’m actually selected to be in the Fall of 2018 Nursing class. I’m in the pre-nursing classification for now and am taking classes that will lighten my load. If the timing goes as planned, I’ll graduate as an RN – May, 2020. And, I’ll have a much better way to support my family for the long-term. To God be the Glory!


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  1. That’s awesome. You are truly displaying what can happen in the midst of a storm women a house was built on solid ground.

  2. Tricia Pounders says:

    Congratulations on this new journey. It will be hard but when the Lord is with you al is possible. I have loved being a nurse, especially helpful with our little who have special needs.

    • Leah Stirewalt says:

      I’m sure it’s beneficial with your special needs child. I anticipate the same thing with the three of the four that we have who are labeled special needs. I’m excited yet nervous all rolled into one bag.

  3. I have to confess….when I saw the photo on this post, I thought you were going to confess you had a pill popping problem. Ha! So glad it wasn’t that! Excited for you!

    • Leah Stirewalt says:

      Ha! Ha! Ha! You crack me up! I guess the pic could have lent itself to thinking in that direction, but thankfully that’s one problem I DON’T have. Lol! Love you!

  4. You’ve had so much to contend with and you do so with such grace. You’ll do great in this endeavor. Nursing is a great career.

    You mentioned certain streams of help including Joel’s life insurance along with friends and family. All of those are much needed and appreciated. Perhaps you could also highlight how our government helps (via the Social Security Survivors Benefit program) those who have lost a spouse and have young children? Once upon a time I was in the position of your children when I lost my father. Our church helped us in the beginning, but wasn’t prepared or able to be there financially after a couple of months. The US government helped my family with a direct cash deposit every month, making a huge difference. It enabled my mom to pay the mortgage, feed us and generally keep the household going. All four of us continued to work (mom + me + two siblings), but we didn’t earn what my dad did.

    Your children are quite young, so you’ll get this money for a number of years until they’re eighteen. Of course, it will never replace Joel’s income or love.

    My siblings and I all work in full-time professional positions and gladly pay our social security taxes, knowing the program assisted our family when we most needed it and how it continues to do so today.

    All my prayers are with you.

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