Part VII - Our first time being really far apart

Friday, September 30, 2011

Just 8 days after Shawn and I started dating, our two-week Spring Break arrived. We were going on two very different trips. Shawn was part of Moody's Chorale and was touring all over the Northwest US. And I was headed to Viet Nam to teach English.

I was so looking forward to the trip, and had been preparing for months, but with this new relationship  I felt like a piece of my heart was being ripped out. We had just started dating, and the newness and butterflies of those first days and weeks was far from wearing off. Not only would we be apart for that time, but we'd be on opposite sides of the world. It was likely that we'd have no communication at all during that time.

The morning before we both left, we met at a hole-in-the-wall diner down the street from school to have some quality time to talk and pray and say goodbye before the big trips. At breakfast, Shawn slid this across the table to me:
It was a devotional he had written for me - one for every day of my trip. I guarded it with my life. It was so, so special. I tried to save each devotional for that day, but it was really hard not to look ahead. Every morning was a comfort reading the Word in Shawn's handwriting and reading his prayers over me.

As I boarded my flight to Tokyo and for the next 2 weeks, I learned for the first time what it really meant to miss someone. I had always been so independent that I don't think I had really felt it before - but I missed Shawn with every ounce of me. My every other thought was a prayer for him.

The trip to Viet Nam was an incredible adventure that I really loved. But the whole time I was there, I felt like a piece of me was missing. I wanted Shawn to be there to experience all of it - the smells of the local markets, the rides through Saigon on scooters, the privilege of telling someone about Jesus for the first time.
Me & a Vietnamese friend
So one day toward the end of our trip, a friend and I rode our bikes to another pat of a village we were staying in and came across a phone booth that claimed it could make international calls. I stepped inside the tiny booth and the directions said I should just press "1" and the number when dialing to the States.

I punched in Shawn's cell phone number, but I was skeptical to say the least. There had been no dial tone, and there was no ring on the other end. My heart sank a little.

Just as I was about to hang up, I heard from the other end: "Hello?"

I couldn't believe it. I didn't even say anything, I was so stunned.

"Is this who I think it is?" he asked with a smile in his voice.

My heart pounded as I tried to hold back just how giddy I felt. I couldn't believe I could hear him and he could hear me and we were talking for the first time in 2 weeks. I know that sounds so dramatic, but it was one of the happiest, most relieved feelings I've ever felt. We caught up for a few minutes while my friend waited patiently outside. Shawn was just about to head to bed at someone's home outside Seattle, 12 hours ahead of me. And I was dripping with sweat in a tiny, humid phone booth in a village outside Vinh Long. And we both couldn't stop smiling.

Most of all, I think this trip confirmed for both of us that we didn't belong to each other - we belonged to our God, who would protect us, strengthen us, and grow us apart from each other. I also had a lot of time to think about our future, and the Lord really confirmed that Shawn was going to be part of it. After meeting Shawn and knowing him as deeply as I did and being so encouraged by his love for the Lord, I knew I wouldn't be able to settle for anyone else.

To read the rest of our love story, go here.

Looking at the future.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

I love that when you entrust your life to the hands of God, you really have no idea where He's going to take you. It's the best kind of adventure.

So here's my latest surprise: I really love obstetrical nursing.

Why so surprising? OB nursing was quite literally the last type of nursing I ever saw myself doing. My friend Erica reminded me today that she had suggested it at one point and I said something to the effect of, "OB nursing seems too easy... the patients aren't really sick. I want to work in trauma where I'm really needed."

(Eating my words right now.) :)

I remember our pastor Jamie said a while back that God's will is not a tightrope... it's a wide open field. We should run until we hit a fence. I love that picture because I've hit some fences so far in the nursing world, but it's really for the best. I want some places that I can check off and say, "Nope, I don't think that's for me" so I can hone in on where I am supposed to be. I've experienced community health nursing, school nursing, gerontological nursing, a cardiac floor, general med-surg nursing... and none of it excites me and enthralls me the way OB does.

I found that I look forward to studying women's health and it comes pretty naturally to me.
I found that I don't come home from clinicals completely exhausted, and wouldn't mind staying even longer.
I found that the emergency C-section I witnessed a couple weeks ago from about 3 feet away was one of the bloodiest and scariest things I've ever witnessed... but when they pulled out a tiny 2-lb. baby and started singing, "Happy Birthday" to her, I wanted to rejoice. The moment was so sacred, holy, and beautiful.
I found the documentary "The Business of Being Born" completely fascinating. It stirred up something inside of me that I didn't even know was there... a passion for what birth was created to look like. It's a very graphic documentary, so I won't officially endorse it (especially to my young readers), but if you're interested in natural birth, I'd recommend it (not while you're eating, though). :)
I found that when I had the chance today in class to find a fetal heart tone and found it on the first try, it felt magical.

These feelings are all so new and surprising - and who knows that He won't change directions before May when I really have to decide - but I'm excited to see where He continues to lead.

Sewing Night #2!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm hosting another sewing night, since the first was so much fun. And you're invited! It's October 15 from 7pm to 9pm at my house and we're making this flower pillow:
Some things you should know...
- You can make the pillow in any color combination.
- My all-star seamstress Grandma is coming all the way from Ohio, so the class is going to be way better this time because I'll have back up!
- I only have a couple more spots, so if you're interested, let me know soon. (If you've told me you're coming, I'm assuming you still are.) :)
- I'll send an email to those who are coming sometime this weekend with more information on what you need to bring. This time, instead of bringing money, I'll let you know how much yardage you need of fabric so you can choose your own fabrics!

Comment on this post or send me an email to let me know if you'd like to come! My email address is If lots of you want to come, we may need to spread it out over two dates... a great problem to have!

Today, I...

Monday, September 26, 2011

spent the morning at an elementary school, shadowing a school nurse. I can definitely say being a school nurse is not my calling, but I was inspired by the woman I shadowed who was perfect for that role.  (P.S. - I wish I'd known as a 3rd grader how obvious it was to the school nurse if I was faking or not. Let me say... it's obvious.) :)
helped with eye exams for, oh, 60 Kindergarteners who were about the cutest things ever. I loved some of their super cute names, too: Trotter, Blaze, Eloise, Ina, Nelson.
ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Shawn. Rare and wonderful.
ran intervals around a field with Shawn, reminding me of my cross country days. My legs feel like jelly in the best way.
felt really overwhelmed with all that's on my to-do list. I feel like I'm getting through it, then I remember that one other thing I need to do. I'm not perfect and put way too much pressure on myself sometimes (lots of times).
sewed 9 purses.
got a text from my Dad who just landed in the USA from Cuba. Always a good feeling.
did some planning for our next sewing night! It's October 15th (mark your calendars!). I'll fill you in soon!
opened the windows to let the fall breeze in.

It's been a good, full day. 
What about yours? 

Homemade Tortilla Chips.

The other night, I had a friend over for PW's Chicken Tortilla Soup and at the last minute, I realized we didn't have tortilla chips. What I did have was some extra corn tortillas I had gotten for the soup recipe, and I remembered how my mom would make homemade chips when I was little and we would finish every last one. 

So here's what you do, in very non-scientific terms... 
Grab a stack of corn tortillas and cut them in half, then in quarters, with kitchen scissors.
 Put them in a large bowl and add a couple tablespoons of canola oil and toss to coat (not pictured). You don't want to them to be drenched... just a light, even coat on each one. Then spread them as evenly as possible on a baking sheet.
 And top with coarse salt.
 Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350°F and watch them closely so they don't burn. You want them just slightly browned and crispy.
 Serve with homemade salsa.
Try it! :)

Cozy, cozy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rainy Saturday evenings spent in the sewing room are pretty much the coziest thing imaginable. 

Happy Saturday to you!

Financial Peace.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

About a week and a half ago, Shawn and I started attending a weekly Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace" class at a local church. Some good friends (hi Erica & John!) had encouraged us about how beneficial the class is - especially at our age - when it comes to being a good steward of your finances. And I have to say that even just a week and a half in, I agree with them. My whole thinking about money is being turned upside down.

Since we've been married, we've been very frugal for the most part. We aren't big spenders and we don't go shopping much at all, but there are those multi-weekly Chipotle dates, Pinkberry, Starbucks, etc. (Can you tell our financial downfall is food?) Yes, I have food allergies. And yes, we eat really healthy which costs more. Oh, and we're super busy - so eating out is often much more convenient. But it's still no excuse - and I kind of couldn't believe that we were spending just as much on food every month as we were spending on rent! No joke.

Dave teaches from a Biblical point of view (and is a fellow Franklinite! Yeah!) and he means business. He instructs you in little baby steps to take to be able to live debt-free, invest, and give. Ultimately, it's a lot about freedom. A lot of people who seem financially free really aren't at all... swiping the credit card when there's no money to back it up, buying cars and houses that they really can't afford. What Dave teaches is definitely countercultural, but I really see it as bringing true freedom - and that makes me so excited.

So in the first week, our progress is pretty miraculous: we've saved just about $1,000 for the first baby step, the "emergency fund." Money goes a lot longer when you have a new perspective on its stewardship, you pick up a couple extra photography jobs, and you eat at home. This may sound so simple, and you may be saying, "Well, of course it's going to save you money if you eat at home" but it's more than that. It's a way of thinking that I hadn't adopted until now. Money is not just there for my pleasure - it's ultimately God's and He has given us a big job in managing it well.

I encourage you to look into taking a class!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

See these bags? They're special. A lot more special than the usual bag I make for Brighter Day.

A couple months ago, Caitlin (a friend of a friend) approached me with an idea. Her father - an amazing and godly man - had passed away last August and she had a few of his favorite shirts that she wanted to turn into bags for her and her family. The two striped ones were two of his favorite preaching shirts - and the brown flannel was another favorite. I was all over the idea. Once I received the shirts in the mail, it was hard to make those first few cuts, hoping and praying the bags would come together in a way that she and her family would be pleased with. I love how they turned out, and I love that they'll be such sweet reminders for her family for hopefully years to come. My favorite part is what is sewn inside each one: Living To Seek His Pleasure. It's how he signed his letters and what is now on his gravestone. What a privilege to work on such a sacred, beautiful project!

Welcome, Fall.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Finding balance.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


If you hadn't heard, I'm in nursing school in my third of four semesters, which is so hard to believe! (Wasn't I just starting?) I love nursing school, even when it has meant lots of late nights studying and some very stretching clinical experiences. I think I'll look back and see that these four semesters have been one of the best decisions I ever made. This semester I'm in OB, pediatrics, community health, and aging adult all at once, so I'm getting a pretty good picture of the whole life span. It's so beautiful and mysterious how God has created our bodies.

A theme that keeps coming up over the last few weeks is that I feel very open to alternative/natural/holistic medicine. When I went through my Celiac health crisis a few years ago, it was a natural doctor who finally diagnosed me correctly after 5 different internists had diagnosed me with a variety of other things... pregnancy (twice), diabetes, thyroid problems. So since that time, I've been much more open minded and even passionate about natural remedies, diet changes, and a holistic look at the body. We juice vegetables, we take elderberry syrup in the winter, we make homemade deodorant, we eat gluten and dairy free, and more. It's what has worked so well for us and has truly given me back my health.

While in nursing school - as I've been working in the thick of modern, Western medicine - I've seen some things that are unsettling... 
A triple bypass patient ordering a burger and fries for his first meal out of surgery (while the nurse holds the menu and makes the phone call).
A pregnant woman receiving an epidural at only 3cm dilated and no painful contractions yet (thereby immobilizing her for the duration of her labor), because she hasn't been told any differently.
Vaccines and hormonal birth control being pushed pretty hard.
Surgeries (like hysterectomies) that seem more convenient than needed. Maybe it's just me, but taking a whole organ out of your body shouldn't really be a first option if there are other things that can be done.

But there are also things I think Western medicine does really well. 
If I needed a cutting-edge brain surgery, I know I would be in the very best hands here in America.
If I was in a serious car accident and needed to be life flighted, or had a high-risk pregnancy, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

So I want to be balanced about it all. I know Western medicine isn't perfect, and I know the alternatives aren't perfect either. I know that pharmaceutical companies have too much of a say in how patients are treated because they have the most money. But I know that many alternative practices are not researched well and ride on tradition (for lack of money). 

So there it is. I'm thinking out loud about some things I've seen and felt with no clear answers as to what's next. As last semester is my very last semester in school, I have to decide what I want to do for my practicum which will possibly lead me to my first job as a nurse. I've gone back and forth between ER/trauma, OB (midwifery is appealing), community health, and I'm still not sure. I'm praying for wisdom and that the Lord would lead me to exactly where I am supposed to be. I know He will.

Any nurses out there gone through these thought processes? I'd love to hear! 

Our weekend in pictures.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This weekend has been lovely. The Saturday morning light that streamed in gave us the perfect backdrop to homemade pumpkin spice pancakes, peaches, and cinnamon tea.
 IMG_1322   IMG_1330 IMG_1333

In the afternoon, we had the privilege of photographing this sweet girl for some headshots she needs for an upcoming audition. It was one of my first forays into hair and makeup, but thankfully a 12-year-old that's this photogenic really doesn't need much. We ended up with at least 50 good options for which we were so thankful, and her precious personality really shined through. At the end of our session, when her face was sore from smiling so much, she ran out to the best swing ever and loved it.

Hope your weekend has been beautiful!

DIY: Dress up a candle.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This idea comes solely from my dear friend Kirra. It was her inclination to "dress up" a candle and I loved what she did - so I decided to make my own.

I bought this pumpkin spice candle yesterday from Walmart ($5.00!) in celebration of my very favorite season, and I decided it needed a little love. I grabbed a few bits and pieces left over from past projects and went to work. And instead of gluing, I decided to use clear tape, just in case I wanted to use those pieces again.

The first version of the candle (on the left) was pretty, but just a little much. But the one on the right? Just right. A hint of lace, a strip of khaki colored linen, and some twine. Simple, but elegant. My favorite.
I think this says "Fall" so perfectly.

P.S.  Just to keep it real... as I was putting this together in my craft room, two huge trucks pulled up and some burly men got out and started putting gloves on. It kinda freaked me out at first, not knowing they were there to saw down a tree. But my favorite part is when one of them looked straight at me right after I took this picture. :)

Dear Husband,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The other night, you stayed up way later than normal to help me finish a Brighter Day order for a bride who needed the purses quick. I watched as you knelt on our bedroom floor and cut piece after piece of fabric and I ironed and sewed them together. And I thought, "He could not be more supportive." I mean it. You probably never pictured yourself hovered over strips of silk, losing sleep over it, but you've never once complained. Instead, you've called it "our business" and tell me all the time how proud of me you are. And you dream big with me about how far this little business of ours will go. So you just needed to know: your support in every area of my life never ceases to amaze me.

Your wife

This makes me love Chipotle even more...

... as if that was even possible. :)

P.S. Kels & Zach, I sure hope Chipotle is one of your first five meals back in the States! It has missed you, too.

Even there.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This weekend was busy, as usual, but we relished the extra day off of school and work to prepare for the week. And Fall arrived overnight! With lots of rain. So that was fun.

The most rejuvenating part of our weekend was Shawn and I listened to yet another poignant Timothy Keller sermon. This one was about Psalm 139. I decided to paint as I listened, which actually helped me to focus. I think God is glorified when we worship him creatively, with all of our senses, and it's a helpful exercise for me, too. So I painted. Is it my favorite painting I've ever done? No. But it's meaningful to me because I was able to capture little bits and pieces of truth, and they've stuck with me. I especially love the words "even there" that I put in three different spots.

When I am fast asleep in my bed last night and the storm outside knocks over an entire tree just feet away from our house... even there.
When I am convinced I can't take on one more thing without having a mental breakdown... even there.
When I am rejoicing because, once again, God has shown his grace and compassion in my life... even there.

I hope those two powerful little words are an encouragement to you today.

This week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Does anyone out there have a recurring dream?

Mine is this:
I find myself sitting behind a desk in math class, realizing I haven't attended the class for the entire semester. We're having a test that day - a test that covers all the things I've missed all semester and have no clue how to figure out.
I start to panic.
And then I wake up.

I'm sure it's a stress dream, because I usually have them during the busiest times in my real life.

Here's the thing: I've had that same feeling in the pit of my stomach all week long. I feel unprepared. Like I'm missing something and I can never quite catch up. I'm sure I can chalk it up to "syllabus shock" or the fact that two of my classes are online and have sporadic due dates popping up all the time or even the fact that I still have over 100 purses to make for brides who are waiting.


So that's where I've been this week.
Trying to just keep my head above water.
Trusting that when the Lord says that he will take hold of my right hand and he will help me (Isaiah 41:14), he really means it.

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