22 September 2007

My naughty kitties . . .

These are my what I like to call naughty kitties. They really aren't all that naughty. Eowyn, the tuxedo, was my first one. My ex-mother in law got her off the side of the highway and brought her to me when I was working at U-haul a little over two years ago. I insisted I didn't want another cat since my last cat, Upse, whom I had been incredibly attached to had to be put down some months before. And here she is. She won me over.

Missy I adopted from the shelter about four weeks after I brought Eowyn home. I didn't want Eowyn to be alone and to have a friend. So Missy came into the picture. And I went from being cat free, for what I thought would be for at least 10 years, to being the owner for two very rambucious kittens.

Normally when you bring two cats together, some fighting is expected, and then they get along. Missy and Eowyn fought almost non stop for WEEKS. I mean, a really long time. Eventually I guess they came to a truce.

So now they have been with me for over two years. Even though I say I'm not attached, I guess really am. How can I not be when they have been my constant companions these many moons?

The First Day of Clinicals

Thomas insisted on taking my picture before I left for my first clinical at Edmond Regional. So there I am, all happy, not totally stressed out yet. Remembering everything that I need. :)

Studying . . . ?

This picture was taken about 5:15 am one morning. I had gotten up from studying to get some breakfast or something, and someone had taken my place . . . . I believe that is a NCLX review book there . . . I don't know what kind of nurse Missy will make though . . .

Caylee's Day Out

Michelle and I got together and decided to take Caylee out for her 7th birthday. We decided that we were going to take her to buy a flower pot, and some paint and some flower seeds to plant in the pot. The whole morning was a lot of fun. We picked Caylee up in Michelle's Jeep and went to Hobby Lobby to look for a flower pot. Then Caylee picked out some really pretty paints with pinks and purples to paint with and some paint brushes.
Then it was on to Home Depot to look for some flower seeds. We couldn't find said seeds, so we drove across the street to WalMart. Caylee suggested that we just walk, but Michelle and I pointed out that Sooner Road was very busy with cars and since Michelle was pregnant, it might be a bit far to walk.
So on to WalMart it was. We went right into the garden section and within a few minutes found they didn't have seeds either. They did have bulbs though, and we explained to Caylee that they'll grow through the winter and come up and bloom in the spring. So she picked out some pink tulips.
Afterwards, Caylee said it was almost time to eat lunch, so we asked her if she wanted to go anywhere. She said she wanted to go to the place with the two restaurants in one building. Michelle and I kind of gave each other that clueless look. We asked a couple of questions, but in the end decided to drive until we passed it again. Sure enough, Caylee pointed it out within a few minutes. It was Jimmy's Egg and City Bites. Caylee decided on City Bites. Michelle and I had't been there before, and it was delicious! (See above picture.)
Then we took Caylee back home and she showed Abby and her sisters what she got.
I am really glad that we were able to take Caylee out and that she had a good time.
She has since painted her flower pot a beautiful pink with decorations, and it looks so great. :)


I have a craving for a really good knock-the-power-out, window-shaking thunderstorm. It just feels like a good time to have one. It's dusk out right now. . . . no chance of a thunderstorm anywhere in sight . . . .

oh well . . .

perhaps another day. Afterall . . .it is . . .. Oklahoma . . .

21 September 2007

A few minutes to relax

Well, it's the end of the week and it feels really great to relax. I had a good week this week, despite coming face to face with things. I feel A LOT better about nursing school than I did last week. I did a lot of praying and reading and have decided that if it's the Lord's will for me to be a nurse, I'll pass my classes, if not, then I'll fail. And if I fail a class, I won't take it over. I'll go back to work at Hillcrest. So we shall see what happens . . . .

I went to see Tom today at Hillcrest, he said he had a birthday present for me and also to talk about the reception music and stuff. (He's providing the entertainment.) He gave me, as a birthday/wedding gift, two chairs and a couch for our living room!! They are the EXACT same style as my red chair that I already have (retro 60's-70s's) and I love them! The two chairs are gold and the couch is a 70's green. I brought the two chairs home with me in my truck and Mike and I will probably pick the couch up on Mike's next day off that he can.

I really feel like Mike's and I home (material wise) is really coming together. We bought our bed last weekend, it's a Black/Copper wrought iron queen size. It was so fun going to the furniture stores and picking out our future bed. We haven't bought mattresses yet, so it's still in the boxes in the living room. A few weeks ago Mike and I went to Sears to get registered, and even though their computer system was down (which is why we didn't register there), we did walk around and pick things out. One the things that we picked out was curtains and throw pillows. My Dad sent me a Sears gift card for my birthday, so tomorrow I'm going to get curtains. Michelle said she's go with me, so I'm really excited about that. :D Tonight after Bible study Thomas and I are going to go to WalMart to get groceries, and I'm going to get another book case for the overflow of books that I own. Yes, I know I already have TWO 6-foot bookcases, but I still have books stacked up on the floor . . .

Despite, or perhaps because of, all this buying, (or the upcoming wedding) I am in a super-big nesting mood and have been for a little while. I have this burning desire to clean and get things ready for Mike for when he moves in after we get married. I spent a number of hours last Sunday cleaning my room and unpacking more boxes from when I first moved in. It felt so good.

I am so excited about marrying Mike!! Just three more weeks and two days!!!! :D :D :D :D

17 September 2007


Another year has gone by and here I am. Usually every year on my birthday I take a few minutes to reflect on the previous year. It is refreshing that, in comparison with last year, I do not feel any older. I actually got home shortly before midnight from Movie Night at Abby and Asher's, so I stayed up to read the Bible on the turn on the day. I found it especially interesting that what I was reading as I turned 25 was Luke 8 which tells the Parable of the Sower. "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience."

Last year I awoke to a beautiful, rainy, cold day and I got up and went to church with my friend Elizabeth and then at LifeChurch. I also met my would-soon-become interent stalker. It was around this time last year that Abby obediently, following 2 Tim 3:16-17, told me that I needed to amend some things in my life (i.e. stop having premarital sex). I also came to terms with the fact that I had to end my relationship with Jesse, which was really hard. That end came after more disobedience down in Ft. Sill, when he returned with the warrior-hero's return from Iraq with his unit. I allowed myself to be in his room alone with him and gave in to weakness. The Lord gave me a choice and I distinctively remember choosing to disobey. That was the last time I disobeyed in that particular way. I remember thinking on the way back up to the city of what the date was: the 26th. It was seven years and six months to the day from when I first disobeyed; and six years from the day I married Joe. Full circle. I closed the period of disobedience. I knew that I could not be intimate again with a man unless the Lord willed me to be married. The following weekend he and his mom came up for the weekend and we went out to Bricktown. And I ended the relationship. It was extremely painful, even though I had been preparing and I knew that it had to be done. He was not the person in Christ who I thought he was (as evidenced by his fruit, or lack there-of and his lack of willingness to even read the Word or learn.)

Moving on from that event . . .

Abby began to teach me about purity and what purity was. She used her own life as an illustration, as well as Scripture. We began to walk together early in the cold mornings of Oklahoma autumn and our friendship grew immensly as we talked about a number of different things. I will never forget those chilly mornings. Abby also introduced to me to the concept of courtship. I remember gingerly asking her what it was and trying to wrap my mind around it. Again, she used her own life as an illustration. Abby lit a fire of passion for purity in my soul that I hope will never die. She showed me that to live a pure life, as a woman, was to live a life for the Lord. To me, to live a pure life, is to live an obedient life for Christ. Abby, thank you for all that you have taught me and showed me. There is so much that I could write . . . I am eternally grateful for your wisdom and your teaching and being bold enough to give me correction when I needed it and loving enough to take me in and show me what it means to be a truly Godly woman. You have become a dearest friend and I truly would not be the woman that I am today if it was not for you. Thank you so much for your friendship, for your prayers, for your teaching, for your wisdom, for your love.

. . . in October, I also gave up cigarettes and alcohol to the Lord. They were addictions that were rapidly starting to consume my life. On that fall night, after buying alcohol at WalMart because I was depressed and wanted to forget things in my life, I remember thinking, "It's okay, no one will know" (thinking specifically of the Bible study). And then Casting Crowns song "Set me Free" came on the radio on the way home. And I just started crying and went home and I remember that I just kind of sank down on my kitchen floor with all my WalMart bags around me and I saw in front of me very clearly two paths and I knew the Lord was showing me the choice that I had to make. I could get up, open up my drinks and I would find myself years down the road doing the same and having accompished nothing in my life and find my life gone away from me, consumed by something that would control me for the rest of my days. Or, I could give up my addiction to Jesus and He could heal me. So I called Abby and only asked if she could pray with me. She said yes, so I put all my cigaretttes and lighters and wine and liquor bottles in a bag and went over to Abby's house. I know she was suprised to see me crying on her doorstep after I knocked, but she let me in. And I just handed her my bag of addiction and said "I don't want to be addicted anymore". She went and threw them away and we sat down and she prayed for me. I have not had a cigarette since then. I wish that I could say I have also not had a drink since then, but I had a drink on New Year's Eve with Thomas, Chris, Brittney and my cousin Glenn. I have not had one since then. I still crave it, but by God's grace I will not go back to what Jesus has freed me from.

I also formulated my rules for myself about this time. No men alone in my apartment with me (and avoiding situations where I am alone with a man). No kissing until I get married (if ever again), no front hugs with men, if they can be avoided, no riding alone in a car with a man.

On October 15th, I was baptized at LifeChurch.tv. It was an amazing. Friends from the Bible study came and Sheila and Sarah took pictures for me. I can truly see how baptism is the symbolic event of being reborn in Christ. It was an amazing feeling.

It was also during the fall that Abby and I decided that we wanted to get to know the people in the Bible study better. We felt that we didn't know everyone in the Bible study like we should and so we looked for ways that we could get to know everyone and minister to everyone. I decided to do a dinner night and see what would happen. People came and they liked my cooking. I decided to do it every week. And people came, every week. Later, Abby and I also talked about the idea of doing a movie night at her house. So we tried that, and thus Movie Night was created. It is such a joy to me to open up my apartment every week and serve the people that I love. I used to worry about having a small apartment when I had my studio, but no one ever complained about having to sit on the floor. I remember I just gave that up to the Lord. And He took care of it, He took care of everything.

It was during the later part of the fall that I began to feel that everyone in the Bible Study was my family. I care for and love everyone in the Bible Study so much. We stared doing a number of different things together besides Bible study on Friday nights and dinner nights. We went to a concert together in October. The ladies started having Ladies Night Out every so often. We all helped each other out whenever someone needed something. I really felt that we had all become like the church in Acts 2:42, 44-47 "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

I finished my phlebotomy course in December. Joe and Kyle came in to volunteer for my live stick that I had to complete before being allowed to go to clinicals. Joe had agreed to do it, and Kyle had tagged along. I remember that I was extremely nervous. It all went well and Joe said that I did fine and that it didn't hurt. I think he might have been worried about how shaky I was because I was so nervous. In January I had my phlebotomy clinicals at St. Anthony's hospital ~ I loved it! :)

For Christmas, many of us from the Bible study departed from our spiritual family and went to our biological families in different parts of the country. Joe and Kyle first to Illinois to see Kyle's family, then to Boston to see Joe's family and fiance, Michelle. Mike VB to South Dakota. Mike M. to Nebraska. James was TDY at the time, so Sheila stayed with Sarah for Christmas. Jake to Arizona. And I traveled to Florida to see my family. Christmas was really great, as always. I remember Michael and I talked about different things and I distinctly remember him saying that he had no desire to get married until he was out of the corps and I agreed, adding I had no desire and didn't think it the Lord's will to be married for many years, if ever again. The Lord does indeed have a sense of humor. Michael was married in March to Sarah and is expecting his first baby before Christmas, and I will be married in less than a month. Both events falling, of course, before the next Christmas. Aunt Peggy and Cousin Glenn came down for a few days after Christmas, and it was really great to see them again.

I quit my job at BHI Research and went to work for Tom, as he had started his own research company, Hillcrest Clinical Research. We spent the first months getting ready for our first trials (regulatory wise), writing SOP's, and generally building our business. I really enjoyed working with Tom and working at Hillcrest. Hillcrest definitely is going to grow in leaps and bounds in the coming years.

Also in December, I stared serving at LifeChurch in the Kids ministry. I remember I went to the "casting call" and Twyler asked the different volunteers why they had wanted to serve. The other 3 women said it was because their kids went to Toon Town, or something along those lines. I just said "I was terrified of kids, but the Lord told me to come and serve, so here I am." I don't think that was anything that Twyler had heard before and she just answered "Well, Praise Jesus!" I very quickly grew to loving serving the kids. I served in the 4 year old classroom, the Ark, for the 10:00 service, in Toon Town (grades 1 - 3) for the 11:30 service and then with the 3 year olds, the Jungle, for the 1:00 service.

During the early months of the year, during my quiet time, I saw that the Lord wanted to me to "go" somewhere. So I prayed about it and through circumstance felt directed to go to Honduras on a mission trip with LifeChurch in March.

Going to Honduras was very eye opening. I had not been to a third world country before and it was very hard. Americans have so much and really want for nothing. The people in Magote, the village, really had everything they needed and were content in the Lord. It was also a different kind of spiritual warfare down there. Looking back now, I see that my purpose down there was to be tested for teaching. Annette, the leader, asked me if I wanted to lead the nightly fellowship one night. I said yes, and immediately thought of teaching the Wheel Illustration. So instead of doing what other members had been doing for fellowship (talking about their experience, leading song and prayer), I had everyone go around and read different verses that I assigned to them. (The verses of the wheel.) After certain verses, I would explain how the verses came together to support the main ideas of the Wheel: Witnessing, Quiet Time, Prayer, Fellowship. I heard later than my lesson sparked an hours long discussion between the three men on the team. A few of the other women also came to me later for help in looking up certain things in the Bible and for light instruction I guess you could call it. The team built two houses during the week that we were down there. Each house is then dedicated to the family that it's going to. The missionaries give each family a 5 gallon bottle of water, a loaf of bread, a Bible and a fruit tree and they annoint the house. A team member is usually asked to prepare something to say to the family. I was asked to prepare something about the fruit tree. So I prepared verses from John 15:1-17 and other verses about bearing fruit and being disciples. During the dedication, the team member would say a sentence or two of their prepared words, and then it was translated for all to hear. **Okay, I just realized what I wrote. I talked about going and bearing fruit and being disciples and it was translated for all to hear. . . . Okay, I need a moment. . .. **

***Side note, I seem to have this thing were I just take things in stride, no matter how big they are. It's like I don't realize the full impact of something important until much much later. I don't know why that is.***

I think that is all I am going to write about Honduras for the current time.

After being picked up at the airport, we went to Bible Study. After Bible Study, we all went out to IHOP to get something to eat. And then Joe and Michelle took me home. I checked my mail because I was expecting a letter from UCO's School of Nursing. I did get it and I opened it with them there. And I got accepted! I cried and gave them both a hug. After they left, I got down on my knees and thanked God that I got accepted and gave up nursing school to Him.

Also early on in the year Mike and I's friendship started to grow. He wrote this blog back in early January, and he was pretty angry at this particular woman who had hurt him/used him and was also pretty angry/frustrated at women. I remember reading that thinking, man, I have to say something to this man. So I did. I wrote a comment on his blog and pretty much told him straight that he shouldn't hate women/treat them badly, especially because of this one particular woman and other things. And I told him he should come back to Bible study, that we all missed him. I honestly didn't think I would ever see him again or hear from him again. I figured he would think something along the lines of 'who does she think she is?' or 'yeah right' or something. But he came to Bible study that night. I remember I was sitting in the back of the living room in the rocking chair and he sat on the couch next to me. After the lesson, I asked me if he got my comment. He said yes. I think I was said that I was glad that he came back. I hoped that he was coming back for the right reasons.

A few weeks later I had sent my dinner invites out via email and he had replied that he would be there. And then he no showed. I usually like to follow up with such things with a myspace comment or something to make sure everything is all right. So I wrote him a really short comment. And he wrote me back a REALLY long email explaining all sorts of things going on his life at the time. At the end of his email was a prayer request. So I wrote him back and said that I would pray for him. And thus it all began. I started praying for him and he for me. And there were emails back and forth. And then phone conversations and text messages. I remember driving down I-44 going to the IRB at Integris, and I was praying, Mike's prayer requests included. And then I stopped. And out loud, I just kind of said to the Lord "Why am I praying for this man? What is going on here Lord?" Obviously I didn't a reply back, so I went back to my praying. And wondering. We went out to a movie once, in February, and that's when he kind of got introduced to my rules (because I was breaking them.) When we wrote to each other, we always included verses to lift each other up. I began to see how the Lord was bringing us together. It was when I went to Honduras that I really missed him. I didn't pine after him or wish he were there, I just missed talking to him and missed his texts and emails and realized how much he lifted me up Spiritually on a daily basis. I realized that I loved him. Thinking about him in Honduras didn't consume my thoughts, but I did think of him. And I couldn't wait to see him again. About half way through the trip, I decided to see if I could text him (I couldn't call from my phone), but I discovered, to my great joy, that I could send and receive text messages. So at night and early in the morning we would text each other. He was a great encouragement to me those last few days. He was also the only person that I texted. He was the only one I really wanted to have contact with. I missed everyone of course, but I had prepared myself for not talking with them while I was gone. When I got off the plane, I hugged everyone who was there (Sarah, Michelle and Kyle) and there was Mike. We hadn't thought that he would be able to make it, so it was a great surprise and joy to see him. And I gave him a huge hug. I wanted to hold on for so much longer, but I knew that I couldn't. We all went down to get our bags and I introduced Mike to the team. Kim, a lady on the trip, knew that we cared more then friends, but I insisted that we were just friends.

In May, I graduated from Rose State college with my degree in Liberal Studies. My Dad and Thomas came up for the graduation, and it was so great to see them again. Thomas was going to stay and had moved all of his stuff up with him. On graduation night, the whole Bible study came. Asher even agreed to move Bible study night to Saturday night so that people could come. And when the called my name and I went up on stage, everyone cheered so loudly. It was an awesome experience. Mike's parent were in town visiting him, so I got to meet Ruth and Paul that night as well. I thought it was pretty special that they came to my graduation, even though they hadn't met me before.

The following Sunday, Sarah, Michelle, Mike, Jake and I went to Brahms to get ice cream after watching a movie. Sarah had been asking me for months about Mike and I and if we were courting yet. We had grown pretty close and were already holding hands occassionally (like at movie night or dinner night). So this time when she asked, I asked her to ask him. So when Mike got to the table with his ice cream, she asked him when we were going to start courting. Mike said we were courting. To which I replied, "since when?" Mike, being very shocked at my reply, kind of said since last Monday - I asked you on IM. And I told him that he indeed had not asked me if he could court me. So he asked me, right then and there. Of course, I said yes. Sarah and Michelle were so excited that they got to be there. Sarah was just beaming with joy. I was really glad that they got to be there. The ride back to Sarah's house was really neat. We were sitting in the back seat with Jake and we were holding hands. I think we were both just so thrilled that we were finally courting.

Over the summer our relationship grew even more, as you can read in previous blogs. Mike is truly a blessing and an awesome man, and I can't wait to be his wife. He proposed on August 3rd, at Bible study. :D

Backtracking now a bit, in January, Michelle arrived from Boston. I went with Kyle and Joe to pick her up at the airport. I heard a lot about Michelle from Kyle and Joe and we had written emails to each other a few times. It was so great to meet her in person. It was also so great to get to know her over the next few months. I was able to go with her and Joe and Kyle to their wedding at the courthouse. I was very honored that I was able to be apart of that great event.

A lot of others thing have happened of course in the last year. Last fall, I think, had the biggest impact on my life, for the rest of my life. There were so many ways that I grew in the last year, especially spiritually. I hope that this year I will continue to grow in the Lord and I look forward to all the ways in which I will grow. I know that I have a great deal to learn still. I know that in my marriage to Mike, we will both have the opportunity to grow in ways that we have not had before. I really look forward to it. :D

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creation: the old has gone, the new has come." 2 Cor 5:17

15 September 2007

Thoughts: Now I Get It

Matt 6:16-18 "Moreover, when you do fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to ment to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

Matt 6:22-23 "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefor ethe lgiht that is i you is darknes,s how great is that darkness."

Matt 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. you cannot serve God and mammon."

I Cor 7:32-35 "But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord - how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world - how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. the unmarried woman cares about the things of hte Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world - how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction."

I have found that as Mike and I's wedding approaches, that I am thinking more and more like a married woman. I no longer have the freedom to do the things that I want to do. I must consider Mike and how he feels about this or that. I am no longer a free woman. Not just in things like buying this or that, but in Godly things as well. It's hard to explain.

Basically I feel like I am not as close to the Lord as I once was. I feel as if there is an invisible wedge that has been driven between me and the Lord and the Bible study and even how Mike and I's relationship used to be. It used to be that we lifted each up with Scripture all the time and prayed all the time together. My whole being was only how I might serve the Lord. And now I feel like it's how I might serve myself or serve the world or serve Mike. I want to go back, but I don't know how.

Moreover, I feel like my thoughts have been poisoned by impurities. I want to go back to the woman that I was when I wrote the blog about being captivated by Jesus and convicted about my purity.

I want to be pure for Christ. I want to serve Christ first. With my whole life. As I enter this new life as a married woman next month, I want to continue to put Christ in everything. It is a new way to put Christ first, I feel.

I still need to practice purity. I need to practice it more now than ever.

I talked to Thomas tonight. He was very encouraging. I shared with him some of the verses I used to say to avoid temtpation (I Cor 10:13, etc).

I need to say that over and over and over again. I Cor 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bare. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way so that you can stand up under it."

It is only by the grace of God that Mike and I have not kissed (or done anything else). Only by the grace of God. He died for us, so that we might live. The least we can do is serve Him with our whole lives.

Matt 10:38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of Me."

13 September 2007

First test

Well, I overslept this morning after a physically and mentally exhausting day yesterday (going nonstop from 0515 to 2300). I woke up at 0640ish, and got up and got ready to go. The first thing I noticed when I woke up was that I was absolutely sick to my stomach with anxiety. So I waded through my nausea all morning, avoiding the banana on the counter that I wanted to eat, but couldn't look at because I felt sick. I talked to Mike on the phone while I got ready, which was really great. (He had just gotten home from work.) He helped calm me down a lot and it was just so great to talk to him and hear about his night at work. I also prayed before I got out of bed.

I got to school about 0735, not as early as I would have liked, but I got a parking space where I wanted, so it was fine. I studied a bit in my truck and finally ate my banana, then I got my Bible out and just started reading. I have started re-reading Acts, and I'm about half way through. I was just really comforted by the turning to the Word. I can really see where Quiet Time is spending time with God. Instead of praying and asking him to take my anxiety as I studied, I just read. I felt like I was spending time in a comforting, caring place ~ which I guess is exactly what QT is; you're spending time with the Lord (I Pet 5:7 - "Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you."). After I read about 5 chapters, I just prayed and gave it up to the Lord. I said that if it was His will to pass, I would pass. If it was His will to fail, I would fail. I felt a lot better after that. Then I spent about 5 minutes glossing over meds and communication techniques and headed for the building. (Where I got sick to my stomach in the bathroom. I did feel better though.)

I went into the classroom and there were some women studying, but others just sitting and talking. I decided to opt for the talking about clinical experiences. It's a reminder about why we're there and there are already funny stories that students have. It felt good to laugh before the test.

I also got the sweetest message from Betsy wishing me luck and saying she was praying for me. She is so sweet!

So now the test is over with and it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Out of 70, there were only maybe 5 that I was unsure about. I also didn't second guess a whole lot.

So I have 1 down, and 3 to go. Two more today, and then one tomorrow. Which I have barely begun to study for yet. And it's the hardest of all. Oh well. It'll be all right. I gave it up to the Lord.

It's a big boat and we're all in it

Well, this week has been crazy stressful with studying and stuff. When I got to my clinical on Tuesday afternoon, we are all talking about the test and how stressed out we were. It was actually comforting to know that we weren't all alone. We're all in the same boat, all just wanting to pass.

I have discovered that just all about all of the nursing students (all the ones I have ever met anyway) are all extremely motivated to make A's and anything below that just isn't acceptable. It's interesting now that we're all in the nursing program, and we're all struggling under adjusting to the weight of the workload, that we all just talk about just wanting to pass. No one mentions getting an A.

"Aiming for a 76; I just want to pass. I don't care what grade I get as long as I pass."

I can't say how many times I have heard so many different people say that.

It's interesting. . . .

11 September 2007

At the Risk of sounding Bipolar

I feel better now. I went to get my teeth cleaned (no, that's not why I feel better), and the dental hygienist that was cleaning my teeth was really encouraging about nursing school, even though she had no idea what was going on in my life. (She knew I was in nursing school because I have my scrubs on for my clinical this afternoon.) She was just saying how the hardest semester is the first one, after that it gets easier and it will be worth it when I'm finished. I was just like "Thank you Lord!"

Just wanted to share. . . . .

Is this right?

Well, hmm, I'm not doing too great. I don't like living in this constant state of overwhelming stress that I can't seem to get rid of. And not just because I have tests this week. I just seem to be putting way to much pressure on myself to succeed and I feel like I'm making way to much of nursing school. I've wound myself up so tight that I can't breathe and I don't know how to unwind myself without completely detaching myself from the program.

I realized that I've put nursing school ahead of other things, very important things: Jesus, friends, cleaning. Living.

I have this nagging feeling that maybe it isn't the Lord's will for me to be here, to be a nurse. Otherwise, why would it be so incredibly overwhelming? I've waited for years to get into nursing school. I thought I would be on top of the world now that I'm here, I'm doing it, I'm doing what I always wanted. Instead I'm getting crushed by it, I can't breathe, I'm doubting, second guessing. I got into the mindset some years ago that nursing was my only option in life ~ the only thing worth doing.

I think I'm going to be eating my words. And choking on them with every bite.

I find myself longing to have the life that Michelle and Abby have. The Godly family, being a housewife and putting the family first. I never thougth I could/would feel like that. Mike and I are getting married in a month and we already decided that we're going to do natural family planning. But I'm terrified that I'll get pregnant. I don't think that will change, no matter how many years we wait.

I find myself thinking of options in case I fail out of nursing school. Or drop out because I can't handle the pressure. Going back to work for Tom. I would like that. I do enjoy research and I'm not bad at it; I know I would be welcomed back. (And I wouldn't have to go to school anymore.) Going to a vocational school to get a different kind of nursing status job - LPN, tech, etc. Less pressure. Getting pregant and staying home to raise the family. Now these options I have not discussed with Mike; so I don't know what his take is. I have a lot of debt: truck, credit card, student loans. It isn't fair to him to get stuck with that.

All I know is that I don't know if I can live like this for two years. I gave nursing school up to the Lord, yet it still consumes my life, not like it should. I really feel like I am drowning; like the stress of it all is crushing me and I can't breathe. I've lost weight, I'm not eating right (I just don't want to eat, I'm not hungry, so I don't eat), I'm not sleeping well. I have very little energy. It's not supposed to be like this. I quit working to avoid feeling like this. I know it's some kind of mental/emotional block, but I can't seem to get over it. Maybe I'm not supposed to be a nurse. Maybe I can't hack it.

All I know is that I want to breathe and I feel like I can't. I want to live and I feel like I'm not. I want to follow Jesus' will in my life, and I don't feel in line with His will at all.

"Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'" Luke 9:23

Is this the final thing to give up in my life? For so many years I lived with the idea of going to nursing school and being a nurse. Yes, it is something that I want to do. I want to take care of people. Is it that the Lord has another plan for me to take care of people? In a different way? What way? Is He showing me that my idea is not the best idea (like I thought it was) and that He has something better for me?

These are hard questions and I'm afraid to answer. I want to serve Him first. I told Jesus that I gave Him my life; that I will follow His will, no matter what.

I have the sinking feeling that this semester will be like my JROTC semesters and the military. I will get only a taste of the life in school and learn about it, but it will not be my path to follow.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path." Prov. 3:5-6

09 September 2007

Feels so good . . .

. . . to just breathe. Ever think about the simple physiological event of breathing? Inspiration and expiration. The chest rises, oxygen rich air fills the lungs ~ you breathe in. It's refreshing, exuberating. It just feels so great sometimes. It's always the simple things in life that get over looked that feel so good. Something that feels so great like taking a deep breathe of clean, cool air. Or drinking a refreshing glass of water. Or laying your head down a soft pillow at the end of really long day. Just closing your eyes, feeling all of the muscles in your body relax as you drift off to sleep . . . so simple, doesn't require effort, just feels so great.

In and out. Inspiration and expiration. . . . close your eyes . . . do it again . . . . release the tension of the day . . . just breathe . . .

08 September 2007

And now the big moment . . . the Beginning . . .

What am I talking about? The beginning of nursing school of course. It was a busy hiatus after summer classes, but nursing school has started. And actually the third week of nursing school is already complete and our first tests are scheduled for this coming week. We have four all together, three for coursework and one ATI on critical thinking.

Of course, at the current moment, I can think of a lot of other things that I should be doing (like studying) but I have been wanting to blog for so long! So I'm taking some time to relax and sit here on my couch with my laptop on my lap and do some blogging. It seems that posting pics takes the longest . . . .

Anyway, the weekend prior to nursing school has been the most stressful so far. That is simply because I was clueless as to where my clinicals were going to be and how to find out. Everytime I checked the webCT, it seemed like everyone knew where they were going and all of that, and I had yet to find out where the clinical schedule was posted. Well, on Monday morning I called the nursing office at school and found out that the schedule was posted on the Junior board in the Coyner Health Sciences Center building, which is where all the nursing classes are. So I left work (actually I took the rest of the day off even though I had only been there for 15 minutes after taking Sam to the airport) and drove up to school to get my schedule. My clinicals were scheduled to be at Edmond Regional Hospital with Carol Shanbour on Tuesdays from 1500 to 1900 and Wednesdays from 0700 to 1500. So I was set. While I was up there I also saw about the whole clicker business, turns out I didn't need my clicker until the spring. I'm not entirely sure what you do with the clicker, but apparently it's a requirement for our OB & Peds classes. I guess I'll find out.

I had previously bought all of my books the last week of summer classes at the end of July/beginning of August. Well, it turned out that even thought I had spent over $700 and had bought about 14 books, I still didn't have all the required texts. So I also went to the books store, spent another $100 and bought two more books. Nursing school is much more expensive that regular classes. Not only are there more books to buy, you have to buy the uniform (scrubs for clinicals), the school patch x 2, a stethoscope, goggles, scissors, a penlight, pay for ATI exams, buy liability insurance, a seperate nursing student ID for clinicals (it doesn't have your last name or school number on it), and syllabi for the classes, which cost anywhere from $1.50 to $10 per class. I'm not complaining or anything because I was prepared for such expenses, I'm just stating for the record . . .

So I had clinicals that first week before I even went to my first class. We all met in the lobby of Edmond Regional medical center for our orientation. Basically we met our instructor, got a tour of the hospital, went over confidentiality, learned the hospital's computer system and the particular bedside glucose monitoring equipemnt that they use, familiarized ourselves with the equipment in the room (code blue button, oxygenation equipment, call light, how the bed works, how the bedside tray works, etc etc). My clinical group is pretty small, there are 5 of us, which I think is really nice. We didn't actually have any patient interaction of any kind the first week since we had to do computer training etc since we will be charting and passing meds and so on while we are on the floor working.

First classes were good. I met up with some friends I had made over the summer and we sat together in class. I think everyone was a little overwhelmed and perhaps a bit scared. I know there are times when the thought that I'm actually in nursing school (finally, after so many years of waiting and taking pre-req classes) is very scary. Sometimes I feel like I'm swimming just fine in the ocean of nursing school and I can keep my head above the waves and sometimes I feel like I'm being swept out to sea by the undertow of the amount of work that we have to do. And sometimes I feel like I'm doing just fine and I get completely taken by surprise with a giant wave and pushes me under momentarily until I collect myself and struggle back to the surface to breathe.

This semester I am taking psych/mental health nursing, which has a clinical (which I will take the second half of the semester), concepts in nursing I, physical assessment I and adult medical/surgical nursing, which has a clinical compenent that I am taking now. All together it's about 10 hours a week in the classroom and 12 hours a week in the hospital. And tons and tons of study time.

I quit working completely the week that school started. Originally I was going to try to work part time/prn, but I figured out that there is no way that I can work, stay afloat in nursing school and still keep my sanity. Plus spending time with Mike and Thomas and everyone in the Bible study is very important to me. I definitely can't spend as much time with them as I used to, but I want to continue to do my dinner night as much as I can and of course still go to Bible study and dinner night and church and stuff. I have learned that you have to have a balance between work and play or your brain will just shut down. At least, mine will.

So the first week of school wasn't actually too bad. The second week of school for clinicals I got to go to the cath lab with Kathryn and that was a fantastic experience. We saw a vertebral body reconstruction, a left heart cath with percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. The whole thing was just so incredible, the way the docs can go in and do those procedures.

This past week in clinicals Kathryn and I shadowed a nurse in the ACU (Ambulatory Care Unit). I shadowed a nurse named Tammy and in the morning we did all of the eye surgery patients pre op care. That basically consisted of putting in eye drops, getting pre op vitals signs, and Tammy started the IV's, which I watched her do. After lunch, we assisted with patients coming down post op - more vital sign monitoring, assisting to bathroom, discharge education (I watched that part) and so on and so forth. It was really interesting to learn what goes on in the different parts of the hospital.

I figured out pretty early on that it is really hard to keep up with the webCT and stay on top of everything that you have to do. 3 out of 4 instructors use the webCT and at various, random times, they post different notes you have to print out, homework assignments you have to complete, quizzes online to take (with deadlines before class), reading assignments, and discussion questions to answer. I feel like the webCT portion is another class that I have to keep up with. I have already missed one quiz online because I didn't check the webCT for that class or forgot or something. And we have homework that is assigned in class and reading and homework that is assigned per the syllabus as well. I try to write everything down in my day planner and check it off as I go, but sometimes I wonder if it's possible to keep up with everything.

The reading, although incredibly interesting, is incredibly time consuming. I am the student that most other students didn't like. Why? Because I hardly ever read the book (in all my college classes, I only read the tex for 3 of them - Intro to Psych because the prof didn't cover any psych stuff in class, and A&P I and II). I would come to class, take notes and pass the test. And do pretty well. Usually when I read the book is when I would get in trouble grade wise. Now after 4 years of doing that, I have to completely switch gears. We get tested over stuff in the book that we don't do or go over in class. Nursing school is adult oriented and I get that and it's fine, it just makes it a little harder. Especially since I seem to have a really hard time comprehending what I read. (My reading comprehension actually went way down after two years of college compared to before I started college.) We have about 10 chapters a week in our texts to read and you really have to set aside a lot of time for the reading. And I have to read my texts slowly, otherwise I'll get distracted and start thinking about something else, and then I have no idea what I've read and I have to re-read. Although the texts are nursing texts and therefore I want to know as much as possible and the reading is very very interesting, for the most part.

I consider nursing school to be my full time job. I have actually been waking up pretty early, between 0500 and 0545 everyday to get up and study. Since I'm not working, I'm studying during normal working hours. And on weeknights as well. Right now I should probably be studying, but I really need to relax my brain for a few hours. I'm already starting to get sick and lose weight from the stress and I still have a long way to go.

One really cool thing is that I feel like I am finally on my way to being a nurse. I go to the hospital and interact with patients and I really love it. I can't wait until I can be a nurse. I find it is very rewarding already and I know the more I learn, the more rewarding it will become.

I haven't really done any skills yet in my clinicals - just lots of observing, taking vitals signs, learning how the nurses educate the patients, assisting patients to the restroom and that kind of thing. I want to learn as much as I can, so I am fine with observing. I'm still pretty nervous about doing my first bath with a patient, or first feeding, or first catheter and all of those kinds of things. I know after the first one, I'll be fine, it's that initial one.

It is nice to be at school with a lot of other like-minded people. Most of us seem to be there for the same reason. I think there are a few students who want to be nurses for the wrong reason, but I'm thinking that once they get into it, they'll either drop or go into a paperwork drop after they graduate where they don't have that much hands on care - like case management or something like that. I have made some friends and I hope that our friendships will grow as we go through nursing school together.

Oh, I already had my first tears over nursing school as well. We had two quizzes that we had to take online for our psych class. It was open book/open note, so I figured I wouldn't flunk them. Well, I checked my grades one night when Mike was over, and on one quiz, it showed my grade was a 40%!! It was a fill in the blank quiz and my answers didn't completely match the answers the computer was requiring. I just shut my computer off and didn't look at any more schoool stuff. Mike and I had been watching movie, so I just tried to concentrate on that and being with Mike. Well, then I started thinking that what if that was indicative of how I was going to do in the rest of nursing school? What if I couldn't pass? What if I didn't make it? What if I came this far and worked so hard and dreamed and dared to want just to fail out? And the tears started coming. Mike was so great and he just held me and stroked my hair and gave me some really great verses (Jer 29:11 " 'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.' " He didn't try to talk or anything, he just held me and comforted me. I was all right after a little while and dried my eyes and just watched the movie with him.

I have given nursing school over to the Lord. I know that if I will pass if it is His will for my life. And if it isn't His will for my life, then I won't finish, for whatever reason. One thing is definitely for sure, I can't do this without Him. I need Him so much and I have to totally rely on Christ to get through. "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me." Phil 4:13

Well, I need to go now. I do have other things besides studying that I have to do. (Laundry, buying material for the bridesmaides dresses and taking it to Melinda, etc). More to come later on the nursing school saga . . .

Thunderbird Stables with Sam and Mike

Dressed up for Dinner in Bricktown

Dinner Night

Making tamales

Sam's Visit from Virginia

The day after Mike, Thomas and I got back from South Dakota, my best friend Sam came out to visit from Virginia. She flew in really late and Mike and I went to the airport to pick her up. I hadn't seen Sam in 2 years and it was so great to give her a giant hug when she came through the security area. (That just sounds so futurist, but anyway, I digress.)

Sam and I have a very unique relationship in that no matter how much time we spend apart or how far the distance, we always pick up right where we left off. It always always feels like it has only been a few days and not a few years or months since we last saw each other. Of course, we keep in touch via phone and email, etc etc. Sam is really awesome and I have so much respect for her.

The first thing that I did when we got back to the apartment was give Sam her birthday presents, since it was her birthday. I had bought her a beautiful cross with sunflowers and a verse on it for her, and I had some gifts for her from when I went to Honduras last March. :)
On Tuesday morning I had to go into work for a conference call for some protocol training with J&J, but I just stayed for a few hours. Sam didn't seem to mind, and I figured she might like to sleep in. Tuesday afternoon we decided to go shopping.

The dress in the pic above we found at Georgiano's or something (I am definitely not a clothes person) and Sam loved it, so I bought it for her to wear in the wedding. :) I think it looks really nice on her. Sam insisted that I try on a dress as well. [Okay, I'm not so great at the posting of pics and words, so the pic is up top. If anyone has an hints, I'd love to know how to do put pics exactly where you want them in your blog.]
Later that night, we had a girl's night out, which we haven't done in soooo long. Abby's hairdresser, Julie, was going to show us how to make authentic tamales. I love labor intensive cooking, so I was really looking forward to learning how to make tamales. All though, I have to confess, I had never actually eaten a tamale before that night because I thought that you had to eat the corn husk part, so I had just stayed away from them all together. I know, I know, typical Tegan moment. So Sam and I headed over to Katie's house and met up with Abby, Sarah, Abby's sister and Michelle. We all gathered around in the kitchen and listen to Julie as she explained from the very beginning the process of making tomales. She told us what kind of meat to use and how to look for the best kind of meat and how to make the sauce and about the different kinds of peppers (I should have brought a notebook to take notes, I'm not a completely auditory learner). Then she showed us how to make the corn meal part that goes on the inside of the tamale (which the name, at the current time, is beyond the reaching of my mind for some reason). So we all helped to make that and learned all about the right consistancy and everything. Then after the meat and sauce and corn part was all finished, we learned how to roll up the tamales and steam them. It takes a really long time to make tamales. It took 6 of us over an hour to roll up all the tomales and put them in the steamer. Then we waited for them to cook(it takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of steaming). Of course we all talked. Everyone got to know Sam and Sam go to know everyone. It was so great. I love it when there's total harmony. Personally I think that total harmony like that only comes because we all have the love of Christ and we were all fellowshipping, but that's just me. After the tomales were finished cooking, we all had a few and man they were so great! Julie wrote down the recipe for all of us and I will definitely be making those in the future! It takes about a day and a half for the whole process. Julie had cooked the meat ahead of time and done a lot of the prep work, so we were only there for about four hours or so. It was really neat to see where food can bring people/families together. I can just picture women in hispanic-culture homes all coming together - wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, aunts, sister-in-laws - meeting together and cooking [tamales] for their families and talking and being close. I thought it was really cool. There are a lot of things I wish I could change about our society and one thing is that I wish people cooked like they used to and families came together more like they used to. That's for another blog though . . .
On Wednesday I had to go into work again the morning for something, but I was home even earlier, I think by 1100. Sam and I swam in the apartment pool for a little while and just talked and caught up. It was so great to be able to spend time with her. I also put on my wedding dress for her, since she hadn't seen it yet. That was a lot of fun. She tooks lots of pictures, but I won't post those until after Mike and I are married (I don't want him to see the wedding dress.) On Wednesday night, I did dinner night like I do almost every week (not so often now because of school and studying). So I made dinner for everyone and everyone headed over about 1900. I love to have my friends over and just fellowship in the Lord.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25
Joe had just made Staff Sgt, so we were all really excited about that. Sam got to meet the guys from the Bible study (so far she had just met the ladies) and we all hung out. Abby's girls played as they always do. I really love to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ and just have everyone over in my home. Even when I used to live in my tiny studio apartment, I would still have everyone over. Everyone was always so great and no minded sitting on the floor since I didn't have any furniture except my bed and a chair.
On Thursday I had to work all day because Monica wasn't able to come in and there were patients to see. So Sam came with me to work. She said she didn't mind and was able to get some studying and homework in for her EMT class that she is currently taking. I really liked showing her around Hillcrest and how we did things. I was really glad that she got to meet Tom as well.
Thursday night we got all dressed up and went out to eat with Mike and Kyle at Zio's in Bricktown. That was so much fun! We took lots of pictures. Kyle kept us all laughing through the whole night and we just had the best time. It was a lot of fun to walk around Bricktown all dolled up and on Mike's arm. The last time that Sam came out to visit, in 2004, we went to Zio's several times, and Sam claims it as her favorite restaurant and wishes there was one in Virginia that she and Dale could go to.
When we got home, we played Monopoly. Sam INSISTED that Mike play Monopoly with me before we get married ~ she said is was a pre-req to marrying me. Something about me being really competitive or something . . . Mike isn't a big monopoly fan, nor is Kyle, but they were really great and we all played. It was a lot of fun, especially since Kyle feels the same way about losing that I do. In the end, Mike actually won the game (of course, since he was the most apathetic about winning), and it was a lot of fun.
On Friday, Sam and I went out to Lake Thunderbird and went horse back riding at the stables out there. That was so much fun. I think that was the best part of her coming out to visit. We used to ride so much together and horses are definitely the composite that welded our friendship together; horses were in fact how we started off being friends. I could go on and on about our horse stories, but I'll save that for another time. We signed up to ride for two hours. They put Sam on a tall bay and they put me a flea-bitten gray Arab named Rocky. Now Sam has been wanting me to buy Billy back since the day I sold him 6 years ago. Billy was my horse and was a flea-bitten gray Arab. Rocky not only looked like Billy, he had almost all the same quirks and habits and nuances that Billy has. Sam said it was a sign. It definitely got me thinking . . . we had such a great time. We talked and reminisced and rode for 2 hours. The trails were absolutely beautiful, some of them were right on Lake Thunderbird. We saw a lot of deer, including several fawns, all kinds of birds and wild turkeys. It was so great. Sometimes we just rode in silence, listening to the horse's hoof beats on the ground and the trees making their sounds. When we got in, we were actually the last ride coming in and all the other horses were untacked. We asked if it woud be all right if we untacked our horses and helped put them up for the night, and Jack, the foreman, said that would be fine. So we did. That was really great to be able to do that again. I actually still have my saddle and all my tack from when I used to ride, but my tack hasn't seen a horse's back in many years. Jack actually asked if I was interested in working for them on the weekends as a hand, and I said I would think about it. (Sam and I had told him that Sam was visiting from Virginia). In the end I decided that I wouldn't, even though I would have really liked to. With nursing school, adding one more responsibility right now might be a bit much. Perhaps in the future.
On Friday night we went to Bible study and Sam got to sit in our ladies group, which was really awesome. She asked lots of questions, which we were all really happy to answer. I had actually showed her the Wheel Illustration earlier in the week and explained a little bit of the Pipeline as well, so I didn't teach those that night.
On Saturday, originally we were all going to go to Six Flags Dallas, which is just 3 hours away to the south (if Kyle is driving), but Sam and I decided that we wanted to stay and go riding again. So on Saturday, Sam and Mike and I went riding. Mike has only ridden one other time, so they put him on a really great horse named Dallas. I got to ride Chance (which Sam pointed out when she asked if I was going to request Rocky, that I had replied I was going to leave it up to chance) and Sam rode a horse named Magic. Sam and I had a really great time teaching Mike about some of the ins and outs of riding. He's definitely got some natural ability and I think he's be a really great rider if he had more opportunity to ride. About half way through our ride, a thunderstorm came up and it started pouring down rain. I loved it! I love the rain so much, so I was just in Heaven, riding in the rain with my fiance and my best friend. :D I think Sam and Mike had a bit of a different take on it because of all the close lightning. None-the-less, we picked up to a fast trot and hurried back to the stable. We got completely soaked through, which was fine with me. Being August, it was a nice cool down. The horses were really great and didn't spook at all with the thunder or lightning. I was a bit worried about Mike if that were to happen, but he was fine. He did just fine trotting as well. We ended up coming in early from our two hour ride, but that was all right.
When we got back to the apartment, we all changed (Mike had brought a change of clothes) and decided to watch all 3 LOR movies. :) Sam is a huge fan of them, as am I. We ordered some Chinese take out and I went and picked it up. It was really wonderful to just hang out, just like old times.
On Sunday we just rested and relaxed. Sunday night we went over to Abby and Asher's for movie night, which that particular night turned out to be a game night.
On Monday, Sam had to be at the airport around 1000 or so, so I took her in. We ended up being there really early, so we sat and talked for about an hour or so. I hated to say goodbye. But Sam will be back out soon for the wedding. I can't wait to see her again. And I can't wait for Mike to be able to meet Dale and for Dale to meet everyone from the Bible study.