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!


Friday, June 30, 2017

As Vulnerable As It Gets

vulnerableThis post is going to be about as vulnerable as it gets on a public forum.

I’ve always used my blog as a public journal, of sorts, an online oasis, and a place where I share my own personal struggles and wins in hopes of bringing hope to someone else. While I’m typically very transparent, because I feel God has called me to be through His Word (see 2 Corinthians 1) and through my particular circumstances, there are still many things I don’t share. Those are the things just between God and me or God, me, and select few of my dearest friends. Most of my readers are very kind, but there are some who feel they can speak to my situation better than I can and have never even met me before or walked in shoes remotely close. They are the ones who know how to hurt me (even if unintentionally) while I’m already experiencing the deepest hurts of my life. Therefore, I’m certainly not interested in fueling the fire of the “haters”, but sometimes I get to a point of desperation.

I’m there now. And, I’m asking right off the bat, if you are a praying person…I need you now. Please don’t tell me you’re praying for me as a nice gesture if you’re not doing it. I’m desperate for the prayers of the saints in more ways than I can possibly relay.

If you’ve been following my blog since the death of my precious Joel in February, then you already know much of what we’ve been through recently. But, I’ll recap for the newbies and for those of you who might have forgotten some of the events.

February – My husband went Home to Heaven after a very brief stay in the hospital. It was unexpected and tragic.

March – I had THREE foot surgeries. The first was expected. The other two…not at all!

April – I totaled Joel’s car. I was crushed (and so was the car).

May – Epidural injection on my back. Lower back pain returned with a vengeance.

Additionally, I started experiencing severe, unexplainable nausea. After a series of tests and procedures, I was diagnosed with iron-pill induced gastritis, my stomach lining is deteriorating, and I am also bleeding internally (slowly). I am having a procedure to fix all of this on July 24 (in Asheville) and will be in the hospital a couple of days.

June – I returned to work to complete a notice following my resignation. I’m no longer able to continue in the job I love, as I can’t solo parent four young children with special needs and work an hour away from home.

Also this week, I had an MRI on my lower back. The pain is now horrendous, and I’m getting no relief. The theory is a herniated disc.

All of the above is enough to send any person over the edge. It’s almost more than I personally can handle, but God is bigger than my circumstances. However, there’s one area I’m failing miserably. This is where I need my praying readers desperately.

One of my children is struggling is unexplainable ways…behaviorally. I’m working on getting the right kind of help, but there are many hoops to go through. In the meantime, our home is NOT a place of peace right now, as this precious child is completely out of sorts (that’s the “simplest” way I know how to explain it). I’m on my knees so much for this child, whom I adore, and I know God loves this wee one even more than I can imagine.

And so…I beg you…please pray for wisdom. I just don’t know the next step. I’m a proactive parent and will do whatever I need to do to protect my children and to get them the help they need when they are hurting. I just need to know where/who that is, in this case. Additionally, I’m asking for supernatural healing in this case. Nothing is too hard for God…He can totally alleviate all of this in a matter of seconds, if He so chooses. Even if He doesn’t…I still trust Him completely, but it doesn’t stop me from asking.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. ~Daniel 3:17-18 (NLT)

Thank you, in advance, prayer warriors! We need you now more than ever. We. Will. Be. Okay. I have no doubt, but God doesn’t want us to simply survive this season but to thrive, as a result of it. That will take miraculous divine help, wisdom, favor, and grace! And…God can provide it all, if He so chooses.

There are many things we need right now I could be asking prayer for, but nothing is more important to me now than the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of my children. I’d give all to protect them! This mama bear is armed and ready to fight this battle…as long as it takes.

I will keep you updated as we see God’s hand at work. It may not happen immediately. It may not happen in the way I desire, but God will work all of this tragedy out for His glory and for our good! To Him be ALL the glory!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Nurse Tonya

Last week, I had a minor procedure done in conjunction with a series of tests to rule out some issues I’ve been having with severe nausea and eating difficulties. I know grief can cause a host of things to take place in our bodies, and I just assumed that’s what was happening. However, I met with my nutritionist a couple weeks ago, and she was a bit alarmed after some lab results and referred me to my doctor’s office for further evaluation. And…thus the tests began!

I was in the outpatient area of a hospital in Asheville, being prepared to be put to sleep briefly. My nurse, Tonya, was extraordinary…on so many levels. I could tell she spent more time than normal with me, and I couldn’t put my finger on the “why”, however at some point in our conversation…the fact I lost my precious husband in February came up. When I shared the news with her, you could see she was genuinely touched and her eyes welled up with tears.

She knew I was traversing a difficult journey, as it was, but to add in medical testing compounded the problem. He should have been the one there with me that day…my driver to take me home post an anesthesia appointment. Instead, a lovely new friend volunteered to be at my house at 5:00 am that morning to drive me to Asheville and stay at the facility until time to take me home. What love from someone I barely know! And yet…I grieved my Joel that much more, knowing it should have been him.

As a result, I was weepier than normal. I was in the prep room with my nurse and not my husband, and when she got the story of my husband’s death…we both cried. But that wasn’t the end…she asked to pray for me. That happens a lot in hospital settings from chaplains and visiting pastors but from my nurse…that was a new one for me! She was interrupted twice by medical professionals needing to talk with me prior to my procedure, but she pressed on, and eventually she prayed the most beautiful and powerful prayer over me! I was so blessed that day to be her patient, and I commend her for trusting her instincts and the Holy Spirit guidance she received that morning to spend more time with me and to ultimately pray with me.

Last week was “Nurses Week”, and I was blessed by Nurse Tonya. She’ll probably never read this, as I don’t even know her last name. But, she impacted my day in a large way, and I pray God blesses her mightily for her obedience!

As for the tests, I know nothing yet. So, I’ll keep on keeping on…


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Arrow Prayers

Target with arrowI was what you might consider an average athlete when I was growing up…at least in most sports. Some sports, like track and field events or swimming, I would say I was above average in skill. However, basketball and golf (to name a couple) were sports that I didn’t quite tip even the “average” scale. But…all-in-all…I wasn’t all that bad in most sport-related activities. But, there was one area I shockingly excelled in. I had no reason to really be good at it, because I had never practiced a day in my life. My physical education teacher taught me the skills necessary to get started, and somehow I did well from the get-go. The sport? ARCHERY! Who woulda guessed? Certainly not me. I don’t know if it was just good aim or my precision with a bow or simply my ability to maneuver the arrows in such a way to get them to the middle of the target. Whatever the case…I was fairly good at shooting arrows.

As I learned in a staff devotion this week at work, I’m pretty good with shooting out “arrow prayers” too. Mike shared with our team that arrow prayers are those quick little prayer snippets that we toss out, often on the fly, when we find ourselves in need of quick help…

Heal me Lord!

Protect my children!

Save my marriage!

Take this cancer!

Give me a job!

Send money!

Help my breaking heart!

I bet you’ve tossed out a few arrow prayers of your own if truth be known. Am I right?

One of the most desperate arrow prayers I’ve ever prayed came within minutes of learning of my previous husband’s suicide. I simply prayed, “Help me Lord!” Those were the only prayer words I could muster. I prayed those same three words each day for what seemed like forever.

Gradually, those three words grew into longer sentences…then paragraphs…then even lengthier times of prayer with the Lord. But, it’s not the duration of the prayer that God is concerned with, it’s the heart from which the prayer comes. Are we using it like a bargaining tool with God, “If I pray this, then He will do this.”? Or is this simply all that our heart can mutter in prayer at this particular time? For me, it was the latter. I was a broken, new widow, still in shock over the loss of my husband. In the days and weeks that followed, I didn’t have the strength to pray anything else.

But, God met me right where I was at in that moment. My “arrow prayer” reached the Target! God heard my “Help me Lord!” My prayer was purely from the heart…even if broken.

You might not be suffering the same loss, but for whatever reason, you may similarly be able to offer brief arrow prayers right now in this season of life. Don’t let length stop you from talking to God. He’s not looking for wordy, fleshly prayers. He’s not asking for perfection. You don’t need a seminary degree. Just talk to Him…from the heart! He loves and hears and responds to all of our heart-launched prayers…even arrow prayers!

The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer. ~Psalm 6:9 ESV

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It’s Like Saying “See Ya Later”

“I’m praying for you.”

“We’re keeping you in our prayers.”

“I said a little prayer for you today.”


These are all statements that make me smile…and cringe…all at the same time. Yes. I just said it. Sometimes, having someone say, “I’m praying for you” makes me cringe, because it often means nothing more than a greeting. Like “see ya later” or “catch up with ya soon”.

Now, before I go any further, please note…I know that there are some serious prayer warriors out there, and I am personally indebted to each of you who have lifted my name to the throne of God on countless occasions. You have no idea what your prayer love does for my grieving spirit.

But…I am also not that naive to think that everybody that tells me they’re praying for me is actually doing it. You know why? Because I used to be that person. How ’bout that for a little guilt-laced transparency?

“Back in the day”, it was a simple Christian-ese expression of mine to offer to pray for someone, or to say that I was when someone offered up their heartfelt needs for prayer. It’s not that I didn’t care. I truly did. And…my intentions to pray were always there. But, I would far too often (not always) forget to follow through on my intentions as I fell back in line with my own selfish desires. That’s painful to admit, but true.

However, that was over 8 years ago. And, since that time…you can bet your last dollar that if I tell you I’m praying for you…I’m doing it. Often – I do it right after I’m asked (if I can). It’s that important to me. I know how desperately I need the prayers of faithful people carrying me through, so I sure as well intend to be just as faithful when I pray.

People are not only counting on us to do what we say we’re doing, often they are begging us too. What if you were the one that had…

a child dying of cancer…wouldn’t you be begging for prayer?

a spouse that just left you…wouldn’t you be begging for prayer?

no job and no immediate prospects…wouldn’t you be begging for prayer?

a family member claiming atheism…wouldn’t you be begging for prayer?

a marriage on the brink of disaster…wouldn’t you be begging for prayer?

a home that just burned down with all of your earthly possessions…wouldn’t you be begging for prayer?

a spouse that just committed suicide…wouldn’t you be begging for prayer?

I shudder to think that it takes these kinds of disasters to wake us up out of the complacent places of prayer that so many of us currently live. So, today, I beg you…

Don’t tell someone you’re praying for them unless you really mean it. Your prayer just might be the only one offered up on their behalf that day, and it might be just the thing that makes their heart sing.

And, please…please…please if this is an area of struggle for you, ask God to show you a glimpse of His hurting children through His eyes. Just a glimpse. I guarantee…you’ll fall to your knees. I pray you don’t have to experience the same type of suffering to truly understand the desperate cries for prayer and the expectation that people are taking seriously your offer of prayer on their behalf.

It’s not just a salutation or a “see ya later”…to many, it’s their last hope. Think about that…your prayer…might be their last hope. You never know the power in that simple act of obedience.

I love you, and I DO pray for my blog friends! 🙂 Be blessed!