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Monday, April 30, 2012

How we spent the weekend.

Whit Winkler and I had a lot of fun running our first booth at the Strawberry Patch Barn Sale this weekend! It was quite literally in a barn... in the middle of nowhere... and a bunch of talented ladies transformed it into such a beautiful event.

Our booth
And hey, look! We even had a customer! :)
 And live music! 
Hope your weekend was happy like ours.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Belmont.


Someone recently told me, "Don't choose a school based on how much it costs."
In my recent education in nursing school, I'd have to wholeheartedly agree.

I am graduating next week from Belmont University - definitely not the cheapest route to a nursing degree. Not by a long shot.

But I have been so, so impressed with this 16-month accelerated BSN program that I can't help but talk about it! (I've gotten several emails about those of you interested in nursing school, so maybe this will help someone.) Not only are the faculty excellent in their field, but they encourage us, pray with us and for us, and have an open door policy to come talk with them about just about anything. I've taken advantage of that quite a bit this past semester as the initial shock of my pregnancy drove me to their offices with so many questions about finishing the semester and applying for jobs. They handled it all with grace, compassion, wisdom, and prayer. So wonderful. Being at a Christian school, too, made a huge difference for me. In a field that's about helping and compassion, it would be hard to picture studying under people who don't know Jesus. What is their motivation for being apart of this very tiring, very sacrificial profession? Sure, it's rewarding. But not always.

The facilities are stunning... the most medical mannequins of anywhere in Tennessee (which are quite scary but very helpful - ha!) and the highest pass rate for the NCLEX of anywhere in the state. But the reputation of Belmont in the community is probably the most impressive part. Whenever we would go to clinicals and they'd see the patch on our sleeve delineating our school, nurses, doctors, everyone would say, "Oh, wow. You go to Belmont..." with so much respect. It felt a little crazy, and at times, I wanted to reply, "Yes, but I just started! I have no idea what I'm doing!" :) But it has surely played into the job hunt... I got a job exactly one week after applying to a hospital, and felt that as soon as I walked in the door, they already had an offer on the table because of my background at Belmont. It's just that respected.

I know I sound like a Belmont commercial right now, but I'm just so thankful for my experience there - no matter what it has cost (financially, emotionally, time-wise) - and I know it has prepared me as fully as I can be prepared for this next season as a new nurse.

So I'd have to give the same advice... don't choose a school based on how much it costs. If it's supposed to happen, God will provide. Maybe through financial aid, scholarships, etc. Maybe not. But when I think about my other options - which included a community college that would have been nearly free (though a lesser degree) - I am so thankful that Shawn and I made this choice.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A lesson in courage.

Source 
Yesterday marked my first big job interview for a full-time RN position at the hospital I've been hoping to work at.

Leading up to the interview, I prepared my résumé, rehearsed possible interview questions, pulled out my business clothes, and tried to breathe. But one lingering question weighed heavily on me... "Do I tell them I'm pregnant?"

I discussed it with several professors, and I got mixed answers. On the one hand, they said, the employer cannot discriminate because of pregnancy and shouldn't need to know at the first interview because they may be tempted to write me off right away. And because the job market for nurses in Nashville is not ideal (to say the least), I should give it my best shot.

On the other hand, it felt more upright - and more risky - to go ahead and let them know and have all my cards on the table.

Ultimately, with a lot of prayer and a lot of guidance, I decided to bring it up. To just lay it all out there, so I wouldn't be hiding a thing. The bump is already getting difficult to hide (just ask Shawn who helped stuff me into my interview pants!). And more than that, I cringed at the thought of starting the job in a month and obviously showing, and then having them think I had been hiding it from them. So with this decision, what was already a nerve-wracking interview became even scarier.

But you know what? At the end of the interview, when she asked if I had anything else to add, I felt pure peace wash over me as I explained that I wanted to be forthright, and that I was pregnant. I plan to work as long as possible before the baby is born, and after I give birth as well, and she seemed totally unfazed by it. She said a hearty, "Congratulations!" and then offered me the job. On the spot! Full-time days. Full benefits. Starting in less than 3 weeks. I feel like I won the lottery!

I am so thankful for the wise counsel of those who encouraged me to do the brave thing, because in my heart, it just feels like the right thing. And now I can enter this job in just a few weeks with confidence and freedom. Oh, and a whole lot of excitement. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pregnancy sleep.



I see 3:47am every. single. morning.

For some reason, no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up at this magic hour and cannot fall back asleep. I lie there for an hour or so, then finally get up to drink warm almond milk, walk around our dark house and try to get tired again (ha!), get back in bed, stare at the wall, and finally just resolve that this is my new wake up time.

Can I blame pregnancy for this? When I search "pregnancy insomnia" a whole host of articles and forums come up, saying, "insomnia is relatively common and is caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy" - so it must be the reason.  Lovely. I've never ever had trouble sleeping (Shawn jokes about how hard I sleep!), so maybe this is just the preparation for the major lack of sleep I'm about to get with a new baby.

Anyone experienced this? Have any tips? I'll try just about anything! :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Today.


Today marks the first day of my last week of nursing school! What a relief. Little did I know when I started 16 months ago that I'd be walking across the stage at graduation with a baby bump. But God's timing is perfect, even if it doesn't make the most sense to us, and I'm ecstatic for all that this next new season entails.

Shawn and I took a long walk around Radnor Lake yesterday, as we often do on weekends. It's a perfect chance to catch up without the distractions of home. Shawn prayed for us out loud for the last mile or so, and it set the tone for this week in such a beautiful way.

I'm finding that the more I think and dream about Little E and our family's future, the more I'm realizing that the future is now. I'm not 18 anymore... waiting for the next big thing in life. It's happening right before my eyes, whether I'm ready or not. I still have to pinch myself at times that I've been married for 3 and a half years now and have a baby on the way. It's hard for me to believe.

All that to say, Shawn and I... we have big dreams for our little family. We are determined that having a baby is not going to slow us down, though I know it will for a short time as we get adjusted to sleep schedules, nursing, and balancing it all. We have excellent examples before us of raising "flexible" children (I think that was my parents' favorite word when I was growing up), and we plan to raise Little E in the same way. Shawn was born and raised in Germany, and traveled all over Europe from a really young age with his parents who are in ministry. I was born here, and went on the road with my musician parents at 2 weeks old... for 3 weeks. And for days and weeks at a time after that. So we know it can be done! We really appreciate that our parents' lives didn't completely revolve around us and our activities and that they pursued what they felt called to, but we still felt so loved.

Ok... so these thoughts are rambly and all over the place... very reflective of my state of mind right now. But I hope you have a very happy week! I know I will! :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

This video.

I'm sure being pregnant doesn't help, but this video... oh my. It did me in. And it made me so excited to be a mom! Grab a Kleenex.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A letter to my plum-sized baby.


Dear Little E,

Last night, we went on an adventure. Just you and me. The two of us have spent a lot of time hunched over a nursing textbook, a patient's bed, or a sewing machine, and I thought it was high time we stretch out and get some fresh air.

So I hopped on the back of my bike and headed west. We bumped along backroads, past spotted horses and rusty gates, watching tiny rabbits hop through crevices in old stone walls. We passed a rope swing over a creek that I had jumped from in high school, feeling brave until someone yelled "water moccasin!" and we all dog-paddled to the shore. We breathed crisp air sweetened with honeysuckle, and I have a feeling you could feel the change in me. The joy. The peace.

I thought to myself, "This is the same air you'll breathe. This is the same creek you'll play in. These are the same landmarks you'll know." You may not live here for long - even enough to remember - but this will always be where you got your start... the hills of Franklin, Tennessee, just like your mommy. I have a feeling you'll spend lots of your life in a city somewhere - but your beginning will always be here.

As I hunt for jobs and try to cram in my last clinical hours, I've been reminded of the not-so-fun parts of life that we all have to go through. But then there are beautiful parts. Like tonight. There are sweet pauses to clear our minds, our hearts, and rejuvenate our bodies. There are times to be alone, with God. And I can't wait to show you these parts. To introduce you to this messy, mysterious, complicated, wonderful world you're about to be a part of.

Are you ready?
I am.

Love,
Mom

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A proud moment.

Ok, guys. The countdown is really on... just a little more than 2 weeks until graduation! Even less than that for my last exam, so I will have nearly a week to do something I want to do. On my list so far:
- Check out a library book that has nothing to do with nursing or small business
- Work on a couple craft tutorials I've had in my head
- Think baby names. So far we think we might have our favorites, but they change... so I've been calling the baby "Little E" because we think it'll start with an E, but we're still not sure.
- Sleep in!

So it's almost time to celebrate the end of school and I'm taking just about every opportunity I have to do it! Today I'm attending an academic achievement ceremony (I'm not exactly sure what that is), but here's my proud moment... I was quoted in the program! They asked some Dean's List students to tell them what academic achievement meant to them, and this was about the most profound thing I could come up with in the 5 minutes I had (on the bottom of the page). :)


I think my favorite quote has to be the one right above mine to the left. So sweet.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hello, friend.

Last week while I was studying at our kitchen table with our front door open (there's a glass door that stays closed), I looked up and saw this girl standing there looking right at me: 
Umm, hi. 
Who are you?!
Before I went outside to investigate, she had found a cozy spot on our porch and made herself at home. She took a long nap while I tried to figure out what to do with her. She had a leash and a collar, but no tags - and the leash looked like it had ripped off of somewhere it had been tied to, like she had bitten through it to get free or something.
And poor thing had fleas... and couldn't quit scratching. :(

Now, I'm not really a dog person. I like some dogs, but I don't like picturing them being under my feet in the kitchen, or shedding their hair on our furniture and in our bedroom. No thanks. And if they lick me, we just can't be friends. Keebler (my parents' dog) is pretty much the one exception because he's so well trained and not needy. :)

But then she came along! She followed me all around the porch while I tried to figure out what to do. Finally, our neighbor took her over to another neighbor a few yards away who we think owns her (they take in lots of strays) and it made me happy for her, and sad for us that we wouldn't get to enjoy a little outdoor friend.

Oh well. It was fun pretending to have a pet dog for all of about 2 hours.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On being gluten free.

Gluten free pancakes
Source
It's hard to believe that I have been eating completely gluten-free for almost 3 years now. This means I read every label of everything that goes into my mouth, I plan in advance where we go out to eat (do they have a gluten-free menu? do they understand cross-contamination?), and I say a big fat no to an entire food group that I really love.

At first, I grieved the loss of gluten. I know that sounds dramatic. But because Celiac disease's only cure is to say goodbye to gluten-filled foods forever, I did. We Celiacs are not even allowed to cheat. "Just one bite" could be really detrimental, and as I've found, really not worth it. :) No bread, bagels, donuts, pastries, muffins, cakes, pasta, pizza, croissants. No Asian food that's cooked with soy sauce. "No" to many, many things.

A friend told me it would take about 6 months for me to get into a rhythm, but until then, every moment would feel consumed with navigating this new diet. She was right, and within about 6 months, I felt confident to protect myself from gluten. I knew how to read the labels and look for all the hidden ingredients, which restaurants I could be safe at, and how to avoid cross-contamination in my own home.

But the sadness for this long lost love of mine continued. It still does, to a point. Food is such a huge part of our enjoyment as humans - and to walk into a Panera, for example, and know that I can't have a single thing (except a couple soups or a salad) is just a little sad. I also end up being the high maintenance person at the table who has to speak with the chef to really feel safe about what is going in my mouth.

But thanks to several celebrities like Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Zooey Deschanel, and most recently Miley Cyrus, gluten-free awareness is growing. And thanks even more to doctors who look for Celiac routinely (though the average diagnosis time is still around 11 years), it's being caught earlier and earlier and people are able to get on with their lives and avoid the health complications that can occur if it's not diagnosed. There are more and more gluten-free products coming available every year, and by 2015, it's projected that the gluten-free food industry will bring in $5 billion. Whoa.

So with all of the sadness for the things I can't have, I am a thousand times more grateful for the things I can have because of this diet: excellent health, energy, clear skin, a stomach that doesn't hurt after every meal, and no seasonal allergies and bronchitis that I dealt with chronically as a child. It's amazing to me that this disease is basically cured with the lifelong elimination of one thing: gluten. No drugs. No shots.  No surgeries.

Before being diagnosed with Celiac, I spent a physically miserable first 8 months of our marriage having panic attacks, leg tremors, weight loss, headaches, and stomach symptoms. I felt helpless as I went from doctor to doctor without answers. When I was finally diagnosed 8 months and 5 internists later, just having an answer was an enormous relief.

All that to say, I don't think a gluten-free diet is for everyone. It's time consuming, it's high maintenance, and it's expensive. I do, however, think a whole lot of people could be helped by eliminating it (or at least limiting it) from their diet. If just one person reads this post and thinks, "Wow, that sounds a lot like me... I should ask my doctor about this," this whole journey will be so worth it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This is precious. And powerful.


You can bet I'll be seeing this documentary! I absolutely love this clip.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The difference.

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16


I know I've mentioned it before,this cultural phenomenon here in the South that people call themselves "Christians" and go to church, but it pretty much ends there... well, it still baffles me. In my day to day life, I am surrounded by a lot of these people - and very few who are true believers. I have to be so careful when I say this, because who am I to judge who really knows the Lord and who doesn't? But I think it's pretty obvious when you encounter a person who is passionately pursuing Jesus, living out the Gospel, understanding that they are sinners in need of grace, etc. It's quite a contrast.

In many other parts of the country, it's much more black and white. If people aren't committed to Christ (or at least remotely interested), they don't attend church every Sunday. They don't plaster a fish on the back of their car and hang a cross around their neck. Not the case here. It's frustrating to be around many people who gossip about every.single.patient, insinuating the most horrible things about them when they know nothing, then talk about their Sunday school class... really?! It's not only frustrating; it's sad. They don't realize what they're missing, and they're the hardest people in the world to convince that they're missing anything (especially a relationship with the Lord).

But here's the thing... it's so encouraging to see a true follower of Jesus. And I had the privilege of seeing it first hand last week, in the midst of a crisis.

In the trauma unit during my last rotation, one patient was a teenage girl who had been involved in a terrible car accident and had not been responsive since being at the scene. Every clinical symptom pointed to her impending death, and her young parents were very realistic about the fact that these would be their last days with their only child. They were believers, and each time I watched them come to her bedside during visiting hours, there was a peace surrounding them that I had not seen with other families. The contrast was striking. They gently brushed back her hair from her face, held her hand, and often prayed aloud over her, over them, over their unimaginable situation. They exuded light. Faith. Hope.

The doctors were stunned. Angry, even. I heard a resident say, "They're saying it's 'God's will' that all of this happened to their daughter... how in the *#$#@* could they even think that?!" They didn't understand. Those parents were confident that they'd see their daughter again, and even though they weren't prepared to say goodbye just yet, they accepted His will with peace and hope. It was just her body anyway... her soul was safe. It was devastating and beautiful to watch.

All that to say, I know it's so often that our true character and faith don't really show until trials. But oh how I hope that my faith will be refined through fire! And how I hope that patients, friends, acquaintances see a difference in me because I know Jesus.

Monday, April 9, 2012

'Tis the Season

... for tackling home improvement projects.
If we ever get compliments on our home, the credit goes to Shawn. He's the one who does twice as much cleaning, twice as much laundry, twice as much of just about everything around here. I promise I'll catch up when I'm not a full-time student, but I so appreciate his servant heart.

... for herbs at the kitchen window.
Love these. And I have no excuse for forgetting to water them this way. :)

... for growing strawberries in hanging baskets.

... for giving the sunroom a much needed fresh coat of paint.
More on this later (we still have lots to do!), but we adore this new color. See the before here

... for studying.
Only 3 more weeks to go! YEAH!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

1st trimester.

Easter bump.
It's hard to believe I only have a couple more weeks of my first trimester! I have been so lucky to feel pretty great the whole time. I wanted to record a few things I've been thinking and feeling so I don't forget. It's like my own little pregnancy journal for everyone to see (ha!). And no, I won't be updating it weekly or anything. :)

Fatigue. I can't tell if it's because I'm going non-stop with my last semester of nursing school, or because I'm pregnant (probably a combination) but I could easily take a nap every day. And sometimes I do.

Weight gain. I've only gained 2 lbs, but still, seeing those numbers on the scale rising is a strange feeling. I know it's normal and good... just a little weird when I'm not used to gaining weight. I do have a tiny bump that looks like I've eaten a really huge meal. Awesome. :)

Pregnant brain. It's real! I used to doubt it with friends who blamed "pregnant brain" for almost everything, but now I'm taking it all back. I have trouble remembering what I'm doing in the laundry room (I just arrive there and have no clue why), trouble remembering phone numbers, etc. etc. It's a little unnerving as I'm about to take the biggest exam of my LIFE in a few weeks, but hey. God knows. :)

Evening sickness.I've been so fortunate to have no morning sickness at all, and I often say to Shawn, "I love being pregnant! This is so much easier than I expected!" And then 8pm hits, and I take it back. I usually just end up going to bed soon after because once I fall asleep, I'm good to go.

Food aversions. I ate black pepper chips during the first few weeks (while in Charleston), and because of it, black pepper is at the top of my least favorite foods right now. I probably won't eat it (and definitely not a black pepper chip!) for the rest of my pregnancy.

So looking at these headings, they look much more terrible than I've actually felt. Overall, it's just such a privilege to have a tiny human being growing inside of me right now! It's so faith building, too. Other than eating healthy and avoiding things I know are harmful, there's not much I can do in the way of growing a baby - God does every little bit. That's such a comfort to me. The fact that He has chosen Shawn and me to be this little person's Mom and Dad is humbling and beautiful.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Textbook giveaway winner

So I compleeeeetely forgot that I said I was going to announce the giveaway winner for the $50 textbook coupon two days ago! Sorry about that!

And the winner is....
Amanda!
Congrats, girl! I'll have CampusBookRentals.com email you with details.

Thanks to everyone who entered! It was fun to hear about your majors. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Choices, choices.


I'm only in my first trimester and I've already had to make a big choice: I've decided to see a certified nurse midwife for prenatal care, labor, and delivery. The plan (which I hold loosely, as anything can happen) is to have an unmedicated birth in a hospital. There are a number of reasons I feel this is the best of both worlds, and I'm so lucky to get to choose this setup. As I learn more and more about midwives and their practice, I gain confidence and peace - and I also feel peaceful about giving birth in a hospital just in case I'm part of that 2% that have complications. We live nowhere near a hospital, so it feels like the safest option.

From what I understand, the basis of the natural birth route is the belief that women's bodies were created to give birth - that pregnancy isn't a disease to be heavily investigated or treated as a medical condition. For thousands upon thousands of years, women have needed little to no help in giving birth. And in most of the world, birth is still attended only by midwives and does not take place in a hospital setting. So why now?

My first prenatal appointment was with an obstetrician where I received an early ultrasound (so fun to see that tiny little bug-like baby!) and a boatload of information on all of the strongly encouraged genetic testing. I felt pressured to get tested for a myriad of possible chromosomal abnormalities, and to "sign on the dotted line" because it would "really help the whole process" if I opted for the testing. If I'd had a history of these problems or any real reason for concern, I might have been up for the testing. But knowing how famous those tests can be for false positives (from nursing school, not from this appointment), and knowing that I would not abort no matter what - it didn't seem necessary. And that didn't make any sense to the doctor. I left the appointment excited about being pregnant, but a whole lot more scared about the 1% possibility that my baby could have serious problems. Not fun.

I went to a midwife next, hoping to gather information and compare my experience with the previous appointment. It couldn't have been more different. My mom went with me to this appointment, and we both left saying, "That was amazing." I can't wait to go back. The midwife was warm, gentle, and so encouraging that pregnancy and birth are beautiful, natural processes with very small chances of major complications. The midwives definitely use less technological intervention - only one ultrasound at 20 weeks - and when I declined the genetic testing, she calmly said, "I totally respect that" and had me sign the papers. She knew that I was a Christian and recommended a Christian doula and Christian birthing classes, and I left the office more excited and peaceful than ever about the next several months.

All that to say, I have so much to learn. I'm reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, as recommended by my midwife, and soaking it all up.

Please hear me say: this isn't a topic I want to push onto anyone, and I'm painfully aware that it can provoke a very heated discussion. That definitely is not my intention. I really believe that every woman should be able to make a choice for herself and her unborn child, and every birth is equally beautiful and exciting! I just want to share my own experience along the way to be thinking about birth in another much less popular way.

Oh, and in case you didn't know, my sister is also pregnant right now (3 months ahead of me!) and will also be using a midwife. I'm the lucky one to get a preview of what it may be like just before it's my turn. :)