Wet Cement

It was raining as I made my way to my first day of work last Monday. There’s nothing quite like a rainy Monday, is there? I was excited, sure, but also nervous. Fortunately, some familiar faces of my former classmates greeted me in the conference room and helped calm my jumping nerves.

I’m not sure what I expected from an orientation day. Definitely to hear about policies and procedures and benefits. Definitely not to hear that I am there because God called me there. I wasn’t expecting to be commissioned or have someone bless me saying, “May you find growth and renewal.” Growth and renewal . . . I’m living and breathing that daily.

Yesterday, was my first day to take on two patients. Not on my own mind you, but all the same it was a little surreal. My patients were good to me and graciously overlooked my fumbling around with new equipment and trying to figure out where things were located. As a “newbie,” I’m more than a little unsure of everything so when I hear my patient on the phone talking about how well she’s being taken care of and how she has the “cutest little nurse,” I think maybe I can do this after all. A coworker laughingly told me with my sassy attitude I’ll fit right in and I hope that’s true. Little moments like this that make the long hours, tired feet, dehydration, and steep learning curve worth it. Because if I can do something with my small hands to help heal, reassure with a smile, while earning a paycheck, then I am definitely blessed. And I felt that blessing driving down West End last week watching the sun rise and kiss the tops of the beautiful old buildings and church steeples on my commute.

A couple Sundays ago at church, Darren was talking about January hopes and resolutions and newness. He used this phrase “wet cement” to describe it and I found myself thinking it was the perfect description of life right now. I’m in a season of wet cement. There’s a lot of change and possibility.

I’m falling in love with life all over again. Finding unexpected joy in so many moments. When I sit in home group with this assortment of people who would never come together under other circumstances yet somehow make this amazing kind of sense as a whole. It’s in the sheer excitement of getting to wear royal blue scrubs instead of the white ones I’ve endured the last couple of years. It’s going to bed exhausted from a well-spent day. It’s the quiet moments when I can catch my breath. Grabbing breakfast with a new gal-pal and talking until the lunch crowd appears. And it’s nights spent with this group of friends that grafted me in and finally realizing they’re not just being polite because I’m a friend-of-a-friend but that they actually like hanging out with me. It’s in finding myself in someone’s lyrics:

it took me 27 years to wrap my head around this-
to brush the ashes off of everything i love.
where courage was contagious, confidence was key.

right as rain, as soft as snow,
it grows and grows and grows,
our home sweet home.

we’ll try to document this light,
with cameras to our eyes.
in an effort to remember
what being mended feels like.

Isn’t it funny how you don’t realize just how broken you’ve been until you’re in the process of being mended?  Sometimes mending comes in the beauty of watching snowflakes drift in the wind and other times it’s being able to simply find the right quip at the right moment. It’s listening to the back-and-forth of a story from so far back no one recalls the same details. It’s being able to make someone who’s in pain laugh. It’s in the randomness and the trivial and the silly. I’m being stitched up by good hugs and long talks and the best company.

And I am more than a little grateful for the mending, for the wet-cementiness, for second chances, for a season to smooth off the rough edges. For time to lean into the scary and embrace the unknown. Just to live the growth and renewal and be thankful for this moment right now, for as long as it lasts.

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A New Year’s Ramblings

I’ve started this post in my head so many times the last few weeks. I’ve typed phrases and have several drafts I discarded. Even now, I’m not sure how to start in an eloquent way, so I guess I’ll just wing it.

Life’s been rather full as of late. I almost want to say busy, but busy to me implies a certain level of unwanted tasks tying up your time. And it certainly hasn’t been that.

On December 13th, I commenced nursing school. I walked across a stage, received my pin, and stood with my classmates to recite Florence Nightingale’s Pledge. I can hardly believe it’s finished, but I’m so grateful. Nursing school had a way of draining my brain from it’s usual level of functioning and interacting. Some days I found myself with little room to cram any more info or remember anything new. So, I’m happy to leave that aspect of school behind me. I will, however, miss my fellow nursing students. Going through classes, clinicals, check-offs, and tests with them bonds us in the most unique way. I know I wouldn’t have made it through the past two years without this amazing group of individuals who will make wonderful nurses.

On the way out of pinning, I received an email to interview the following Monday morning for a nurse internship program. My excitement was quickly replaced with a bit of panic when I realized I had nothing to wear. So Saturday, my mom happily endured an endless amount of time outside dressing rooms until I found the perfect outfit. Funny, I was more nervous about finding the right clothes than about answering interview questions. By the grace of God, Monday afternoon I was offered an internship position. I’m thrilled and a little bit terrified to start next week.

Life’s funny sometimes. I feel like the first half of 2013 I was in a holding pattern. I felt stagnant and stuck. And then, things started changing and now sometimes I can’t get them to stand still even if I try.

Late last night I drove home in the freezing cold. The stoplights were blinking and the stars were bright and I found myself reflecting on this new year and this pocket of time I’ve had between the end of school and the start of my new job. I’ve gotten to spend it with some of the people I love most in this world. I’ve had a couple breakfasts with some gals that know me better than just about anyone else. There’s been dinners and game night and parties. There’s been teasing and laughter and theological debates. Talks about hopes and hangups and dreams for the new year. I’ve found that when I go to sleep with a full heart, I wake up with a clearer head. I know I’m better for the company I’ve been keeping.

We’re a week into this new year. I can’t help wondering what 2014 holds but I hope to receive it with open hands. That’s my One Word this year: receive. Sometimes I kind of suck at receiving. I’m awful at taking a compliment and quick to credit Target or just shrug it off. I’m not always good at asking for or accepting help- although nursing school as mostly eradicated this hang up. But my hope is that when 2015 rolls around I will be a little bit different. That I will receive what God’s giving me and where he’s placing me without trying to earn it or wish it was different. Accept the invitations I receive. Simply say thank you to compliments without deflecting. Just have a general openness and let people into my life more.

Life’s never easy and it holds more heartbreak than I dare imagine but I have to believe there’s still hope and sweetness to uncover. That there will be blessings and celebrations and adventures along the way. That the light will shine into the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. I’m daring to believe this will be a year filled with stories and people that change me for the better and I hope that I can in turn, return the favor.

Sometimes It’s Not Easy As Pie

IMG_0814Orange barrels. My life right now is a maze of orange barrels. Literally my town is littered with orange barrels. It’s closed roads and reroutes. I can’t leave my house in either direction without seeing a “Road Work Ahead” sign. I never know what to expect when I venture down Mack Hatcher.

And I wish I was only navigating construction zones on the road and not in my life. But that’s also turned into one big construction zone. For two years I’ve known the plan which is to finish nursing school. But now I only have a rough idea of what should happen: less than one more month of classes, finals, pinning, NCLEX, and then it’s fingers/toes/elbows/legs/eyes crossed a job as a RN. I have a sketch but the getting there . . . That’s a maze of confusion. And the timeline is even blurrier. Where should I apply? What kind of nursing do I want to try? Or in a tight market what can I get? Experience anywhere would be great but is it too much to hope I also like going to work? Quite frankly it’s a little daunting.

Sometimes it’s not easy as pie. Maybe that’s way I find myself gravitating towards the kitchen. Why I’ve made a grand total of six pies in the past month. Now in fairness, some of those where for an early Thanksgiving meal.  But I keep coming back because I know when I’m baking, I can follow a recipe and turn butter, sugar, flour, and love into something less than perfect but still pretty spectacular.

Like apple pie.

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Or a Reese ice cream pie concoction.

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It’s also probably why I find myself already watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Are they cheesy? Of course. But it’s kind of nice to know at the end of the movie everyone will wind up happy- well at least the ones on the nice list. And I like predicting, with high accuracy, the outcome. Sometimes I can even guess the dialogue. It’s not award-winning TV but it doesn’t require a lot thinking. It’s just serendipity and fluff.

And in this season that’s whirling by faster than the leaves are blowing off the trees, I’m trying to take the day as it comes. Do what’s required at this step. Thinking ahead as needed but trying not to lose focus on now. In this month of thanks, I’m trying to be grateful for the little things. The simple things:

A recent exploration of quaint Bell Buckle, home of Moon Pies and RC Cola, with my mom.

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 This beautiful birthday bouquet.

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Playing with my dogs on a gorgeous fall day.

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Seriously, dogs are great for reminding you of what’s good in the world. How could you not love this face?

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Or not find yourself taking her cue to just kick back and relax?

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It’s watching the sunrise unfold over Nashville that makes getting up at 4:30 for clinical tollerable

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Or discovering the neighborhood kids have decorated the trees.

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It’s a happy mug that reminds me, “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

IMG_0805Complete with a T.A.R.D.I.S. tea pot to make any tea time a happier timey-wimey-ier place.

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It’s going to a 90’s themed Halloween party. It’s discovering you can, in fact, buy scrunchies at the store- which I may or may not have in my hair at this very moment. It’s being grateful I don’t have this 90’s haircut anymore.

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It’s getting the very first letter actually written by my Compassion child.

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Finding the moon through the leaves at the end of a long day.

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It’s birthday celebrations, laughing with my classmates, grabbing lunch with a best friend. It’s gathering with my small group- excuse me- Missional Community group on Wednesday nights. It’s a hundred little things that remind me to breathe. To take each curve as it comes. So when like today, I became the proud owner of a full set of new tires I’m just happy the guy alerted me to my low back right tire before I end up stranded on the side of the road.

It’s not simple. It’s certainly not easy as pie. It’s most definitely not a Hallmark movie. The future is still this blurry looming thing but I find myself echoing the words of Anne Shirley:

“Oh, I’ve dozens of plans, Marilla. I’ve been thinking them out for a week. I shall give life here my best, and I believe it will give its best to me in return. When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.” ~ L.M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables

And that’s enough for tonight. Now’s the time to rest and be still. To let go and let God. For tomorrow holds the next step and most graciously His mercies are new every morning.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started Nursing School

Today I helped host a meet and greet for new nursing students. It was a little surreal thinking that I’m entering my last semester in a few weeks. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was the new student wondering how on earth, I, a spill-prone klutzy gal would manage to keep my bright white scrubs clean.

I remember walking into orientation, surrounded by unfamiliar faces and being bombarded by too much information. Well-meaning students who had just completed their first semester tried to give us advice. My take away was that was nursing school was impossibly hard, I could kiss my social life goodbye, my life should now henceforth be devoted to studying, and above all don’t panic.

Well, panicking hadn’t entered my mind. I had felt that sense of peace of knowing I was in the right where I was supposed to be. I was nervous, sure, but I hadn’t considered panicking until I heard people tell me at least ten times not to panic. Fortunately, as I left I found a voice mail message from my nursing buddy who was entering her last semester. I quickly called her back. “Naomi, should I be panicking?” I asked. She laughed and laughed. She told me I could do it, that sure nursing school is hard but I’d be fine. She was right.

So here’s what I wish someone had told me before I started nursing school:
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