Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Could Have Been

"For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 
'It might have been.'" 
-John Greenleaf Whittier

Do you ever get in a funk and start bemoaning all the selfish decisions you've ever made? Regretting the bridges burned and relationships lost? Wonder 'what if...' ?

I often oscillate between blaming other people for all my problems and blaming myself for everything that's ever gone wrong. Sometimes I'm simply too focused on myself and I assume the world revolves around me, when obviously it does not. But other times, yes, it was me that hurt another. Sometimes badly. And this haunts me.

The Chronicles of Narnia have been a bit of the Gospel to me lately. In Prince Caspian, Lucy makes a fainthearted mistake and when she meets Aslan, she stutters about whether or not she is to blame. Aslan says nothing.
"You mean," said Lucy rather faintly, "that it would have turned out alrightsomehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?"

"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No. Nobody is ever told that."

"Oh dear," said Lucy.

"But anyone can find out what will happen."
When my mind is drowning in regrets, I have the opportunity to preach the Gospel... to myself. Because truthfully, for every situation in which I royally screwed up, there's another one that could have been broken beyond repair, but was redeemed instead. When given the opportunity to take control, I will fail every time. But God...



“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to . . . save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)

“Their beauty shall be consumed in the grave . . . . But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave.” (Psalm 49:14-15)

“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

But God knows the larger picture of my life. Regardless of what mistakes I've made, I can honor Him by moving forward in the future without repeating the past. And by offering a few deserved apologies along the way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life on a day off

Nurses are lucky. Really. Regardless of how your 12 or 13 hour shift goes, you typically only work 3 of those shifts a week and you have the other 4 days to recover. Now, it's often not so neat and tidy. The weeks blend together, you work overtime, you may have kids and a husband at home, or another job, or you do something silly like start grad school and that eats up your free time...

But by and large, four days a week, I don't have to hear my alarm go off at 5am. The tradeoff for sometimes not working weekdays is that I do have to work weekends and holidays and evenings. But it's still a fairly decent trade. As these weekdays off draw all-too-rapidly to an end, I find myself cherishing every last minute. The fact of the matter is, I haven't worked just 3 days a week since July!

I was scheduled to work 6 days in a row this week between all the jobs I've picked up, but praise the Lord I got voluntarily cancelled from the NICU today! So this last, precious weekday off is like a ridiculously elusive snow day. It's shining and golden and I just want to eat it up.

So I thought I'd record it, lest any of it go to waste.

Around 0500, in the midst of a dream that work never called and I had to go in, I got the phone call saying I could take the day off in 4 hour blocks. I had a fleeting thought of regret that it was one less day to work with the babies before I'm done with that, too, but my eyelids sank closed again quickly and I slept on an off until 0815.

I leisurely rolled out of bed, started breakfast, got dressed, and then ate breakfast (a warm bowl of creamy raspberry buckwheat).

By 0905 I made a cup of green tea and started my quiet time, determined to make the most of not having to rush it. Also, I eat the last cookie out of the freezer. Because apparently I've decided breakfast deserves dessert too?

Oh, but then I remember I need to take my medicine and when I do, I find that my pill divider is empty, so I fill that. (You know, if you give a mouse a cookie...) I currently take accutane, Allegra, and a multivitamin in the morning. In the evening, I take another accutane, a calcium + vitamin D supplement, a vitamin B complex supplement, and a probiotic. I also take my Advair inhaler twice a day.

Now it's 0930. Back to the space heater and my quiet time on the couch. I do get distracted a few times. For example, while catching up on my SheReadsTruth Bible study, I want to bookmark this page. I also remember to download a few sermons while I'm reading and writing.

At 1030, I'm getting more fidgety even though I'm not nearly as caught up on journaling and reading as I would like to be. It's now above freezing outside instead of the sunny but frigid 19 degrees I saw when I woke up, so I decided this was a good a time as any to run errands and get grocery shopping out of the way in case I did get called in later. I'm not sure what we would've done if I had to work today. Probably go to the store hungry, tired, and cranky tonight. That's the only bad thing about leaving town for the holidays-- unpacking and settling in at home on Sunday evening, only to realize your fridge is bare.

I ended up checking e-mail, reading some blogs, doing some online shopping, and meal planning, and then left the house at 1115.

My heart was happy as I headed down the stairs and saw all the empty parking spots at our apartment complex. I would never pretend I know what it's like to have agoraphobia or anthrophobia, but I do know that I'm so so so much less anxious running errands with the leisurely weekday shoppers than I am running errands with the masses on Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. I'm going to miss this.

It's been quite a while since I had time or money for dual-store grocery shopping, but since the weather was cool (stuff can stay in the car longer) and I had time for once, I went to Hy-Vee and Whole Foods. At Whole Foods, I put about a dozen novelty items in my cart, as one does in Whole Foods, only to take them back out because they weren't on the list. To reward myself for this discipline, I bought vegetables from the salad bar to add to my lunch. Logical, right?!

When I got home around 1330, I carried all the bags up three flights of stairs in one trip, put the groceries away, and ate my salad bar treats. Then I checked my e-mail and remembered how much homework I needed to get done today. I warmed up some mint chocolate coconut milk ("so delicious" is right!), and answered some classmate e-mails. I finally started working on our ridiculous discussion board "classroom activity" around 1400 and finished at 1450.

I ate a homemade Runza (thanks Mom) and got started on pre-making dinner while I listened to a sermon I downloaded this morning (one of my favorite things to do this summer, that has definitely taken a back-burner this fall!) I miss leisurely cooking and cleaning while listening to sermons.

I was done making a mess in the kitchen around 1600 but then ended up wasting time until 1700. Oops! I kept meaning to get to work on my paper, but I ended up putzing around, fixing my eyebrows, reading blogs, and sending some e-mails. I finally got my rear in gear again and tidied up before Ross came home.

When he walked in the door at 1745 we headed out for a short run (despite it being cold and dark already). We got back and ate dinner around 1830. I kind of lost track of time after this, but I know that from 2000-2100 I was glued to the TV. Tuesday is the only night I really turn the TV on, but I've come to love New Girl and The Mindy Project.
I never did finish my homework, but there's always tomorrow! My day seemed to go all too quickly. Au reviour, weekdays off. I'll miss you more than you know.

{Before grad school, my days definitely looked different. In Texas I was better about getting out, meeting up with friends, going to the library, reading all day long (ahhh I miss that), working out in the morning, going to the farmer's market, and/or making a nice dinner for Ross to come home to. When we moved to Kansas City, I wasted a lot of time on the internet when I was on the night shift schedule. When I moved to days, that habit stuck. Blog reading, facebook, and baking unnecessary batches of sweets filled my days. No bueno. Grad school and now a clinic job are an attempt to get rid of those bad habits. But they come with a lot of their own pros and cons as well.}

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I want to write a thanksgiving post. Really, I do.

This year has been hard, but sweet through the bitterness. I am so blessed. God has been gracious to me and he has anticipated my needs better than I could ever have dreamed. Yet... I'm tired. I'm not ungrateful, no. I know in my mind that I have much to celebrate. But for the last week or two my heart has been heavy, and I have no doubt it's due to my disconnect with God. (On my end, certainly, and not His.)

I'm still processing some 'blessings' that have been disguised as boatloads of pain. I'm still struggling under the weight of security blankets I'm afraid to let go of.

Freedom is a stark contrast to heavy chains. If I've learned anything this year, it's that there's a perfectly inverse relationship between my anxiety and depression and my reliance on God. Yet I cling to my control and my idols and my comforts!


You know what I'm so grateful for?

A God who doesn't give up when I'm ready to.

A God who pursues me.

       Even when I hurt Him.

       Even when I RUN FROM HIM and toward other things I foolishly think will make me happier.

       Even when I judge others who hurt me and run from me and betray me, and then take it for
       granted that God is above hypocrisy.

I'm grateful for a love that never fails, never gives up, and never runs out on me.

One Thing by Jesus Culture

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change

One thing remains

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

Because on and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I'll never, ever, have to be afraid

One thing remains

In death
In life
I'm confident and covered by the Power
of Your Great Love

My dept is paid
There's nothing that can separate
My heart from Your great love

Huh. Whaddya know? I am feeling more thankful now!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maple Cashew Frosting

Ross and I were invited to a "friends-giving" with some of his co-workers today. I volunteered to bring brussels sprouts and, selfishly, I also decided to bring gluten-free, diary-free cupcakes so there would be a dessert I could partake in. (I really hate being that person at a social gathering).

I knew immediately that I'd make the pumpkin spice cupcakes from the Babycakes cookbook, but I was stumped on frosting. The cookbook does have a recipe, but it involved buying more random, expensive ingredients than I already had for the cupcakes. (By the way, the cupcake recipe isn't mine to share, but I was happy to see that the cookbook author has made it available online here. The only change I made was replacing a half cup of the GF all-purpose flour with a half cup of sweet rice flour.)

Back to the frosting: I love, love, love cream cheese frosting, but I couldn't find the brand of vegan cream cheese I wanted at the grocery store, so I decided to go the more natural route and make a cashew frosting similar to those I'd seen on the Edible Perspective and Choosing Raw blogs. Thus, maple cashew frosting was born. It's not overly sweet, and it's not as creamy as a dairy-based frosting would be, but we really liked it. I hope you do, too!

Maple Cashew Frosting

1 heaping cup raw, unsalted cashews
4 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs refined coconut oil
1-2 Tbs water or non-dairy milk of choice, to reach desired consistency
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla extract, to taste

Measure the cashews into a small bowl the night before, fill the bowl with water, and place in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

When you're ready to make the frosting, drain the cashews and dump them in the food processor. Add maple syrup, coconut oil, water, lemon juice, and vanilla. Blend, blend, blend. This could take a while. Scrape down the sides as needed, and continue to process until they reach a smooth consistency. (Note: this is not buttercream, so it won't be quite that smooth, but it should get pretty creamy.) Taste and add more vanilla as desired.

Slather on your cupcake of choice and enjoy licking the spatula afterward!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chocolate Cookies with Mint Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Cookies
1 1/4 cup almond meal
3 Tbs cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup butter, softened at room temp
2 Tbs maple syrup or honey
1-2 Tbs coconut or almond milk as needed

Prehead oven to 350. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and syrup with a hand mixer. Add almond meal, cocoa powder, and salt and mix well. If the dough seems dry, add milk as needed. Roll into Tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place on a lined or greased cookie sheet. These cookies don't spread while baking, so go ahead and flatten them with a fork or the bottom of a glass before putting them in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool before removing from the pan. Makes 12 cookies. These cookies are fairly un-fancy, but they're really just a vehicle for the frosting!

Mint Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (use refined coconut oil if you don't want the hint of coocnut flavor)
2 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 - 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (add slowly because some brands are more potent than others)
1/2  cup cocoa powder, sifted to remove clumps
1 Tbsp almond (or coconut) milk

Cream the coconut oil, syrup, and milk. Add cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Add the peppermint extract to taste and then enjoy! Be warned that this frosting will become quite melty in really warm temperatures and it will harden in the fridge. But at room temp, it has almost the exact consistency of frosting in a can, but far fewer ingredients. Frost your cookies, garnish with coconut or crushed candy canes, and enoy! 

By the way, you will probably have leftover frosting. If you don't want to eat it stright from the bowl with a spoon, place teaspoon-sized drops of frosting on waxed paper and refridgerate to make some chocolate mint meltaway candies!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Turns Out

Turns out, November feels a lot like fall.

Turns out, it's been 3 months since I've been to Zumba... I've missed my favorite instructor!

Turns out, I don't mind daylight savings time because even though I don't like the early sunset, I do love seeing the sunrise.

Turns out, research papers can be somewhat fun to write. If only I had more time and a better rubric to follow!

Turns out, it doesn't take long for accutane to dry my skin out, but the pimples are still there.

Turns out, Ross likes sweet potatoes if you bake them in wedges, add seasoning, and call them fries.

Turns out, when you put first things first, you can find joy in every circumstance, not just hope in an ambiguous future circumstance.

P.S. My friend Melody wrote the best post-election words I've seen. In the end, the President does not determine the laws I live by. The King does!

Monday, November 5, 2012

I (can't) do all the things

On the elevator at work Sunday morning, a medical resident I've never met before was puffing himself up by complaining about how long his night had been. He mentioned that, unlike nurses, residents don't get compensated for working the extra hour when time falls back every fall.

I humored him to his face, but really I was thinking, "Dude, that's why I went to nursing school and not medical school. You chose to do this. Didn't you know what you were getting into?"

Boom. Sanctification station. How many of you all have thought this about me every time I complain about busy-ness this fall? As Nichole Nordeman says, "I wonder now if the choice was mine. The door was open and I walked inside. Nobody had my arm twisted. I lost myself in small pieces; it happened over time."

My friend Jessi is fond of the statement "all the things." As in, "I thought I had to do all the things." She used this phrase a lot in a talk she gave last month about how to fail well. And I really needed to hear it.

I have too many things on my plate. While I appreciate those who have told me to back off, I know it's not that season. I had that season this summer. This is the season for digging in and following through on commitments and learning things the hard way.

I just wrote and then deleted a detailed paragraph about all my time commitments this month. Suffice to say, the details don't matter. The point is, it's too much. In order to sleep and take care of my physical self, I've cut out things that actually mean something to me: getting to know women at church, initiating outings with potential new friends, reading books that don't have to do with nursing research. Because I can't do all the things. I don't know how to be a good wife, I don't know how to make good friends, but I do know that I'm not doing it right.

My tears have already given me a glimpse at this crumbling facade. I like to think I can do all the things. I complain about how much I have to do, so that when I do it you know just how hard that was. I am starting a new job soon so that I can learn to do one thing well, but until mid-December I'm going to be doing a lot of things very poorly. And I pray that God will give me the grace not to burn any bridges along the way. Because I can't do anything right outside of Him.

Stand by Britt Nicole

I wake up to another day
I don't know if I can face

All the fears that are staring me down
Yeah, I'm trying to be brave
But I'm a thread, about to fray
I wanna stand but I don't know how

I look up and all I see is
Your love holding me
When I feel like giving up
When my heart is hurt too much
Feels like I've reached the end
No, I won't turn and run
This battle will be won
When I've done all I can
I stand stand stand

Some days I lose my place
It's a fight to keep my faith
But You are with me, I am not alone
, no
But all around my world gives way
Tossed like an ocean wave
You are my rock and the storm clouds blow

On Your promise, I will stand
All other ground is sinking sand

On Your promise, I will stand
All other ground is sinking sand

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Little Orange Pill

This past Friday, I started taking Accutane (well, the generic version). It was a long time coming, decision-wise and jumping-though-hoops-wise. In the end, my hesitations stemmed less from the risk of physical side effects and more from the fear, is this just vanity?

I mean, I'm 27 years old. I've struggled with self-image for a long time. We don't live in the matrix and this little pill isn't going to alter my reality. Once my acne is gone, I'm sure I'll find something else to fixate on. And I know that's a sin.

My value rests in Christ alone. Well, it should. Why do I have so much trouble believing that sometimes?!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Currently: November

Location: The big brown couch in our apartment.

Watching: Big Bang Theory.  I love nerds.

Eating: Dates with sunflower seed butter. Our debit card got stolen recently and we've been waiting for our negative bank account to normalize. Meanwhile, the grocery situation is getting a little ridiculous.

Drinking: Actually limiting my water intake since it's bedtime...

Wanting: Simultaneously desperately wanting December 14 to be here, but hoping it won't come too quickly because I have a bajilion things to do between now and then. Why December 14? Because on that day, I will go from The Great Juggling Act of November 2012 involving 4 part-time jobs + school to ONE job and Christmas break!!!!!!!!

Needing: A good night's sleep. Always.

Loving: The short run I went on in the sunshine this afternoon. My nervous energy needs a physical outlet. When I forget that, the anxiety just builds and builds and I lay in bed at night exhausted but with my mind racing. No bueno.

Creating: A mess. 'Tis the season for stacks of papers.

Thinking: That we often misread Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." The questions is, What does GOD want to strengthen me for? Not, To what selfish end can I rely upon God's strength today? 

Feeling: Relieved that a big decision is behind me: starting mid-December I will be a full time RN in the Center for Advanced Fetal Health and High Risk Pregnancy. This comes with the dreaded 8a-5p schedule I've avoided for 5 years now. But no weekends or holidays! And it's going to be a great opportunity for patient education (to see if I can do something with this Master's degree I'm struggling with.)

Wondering: If I'm up for the huge learning curve my new job will entail. And wondering if I could possibly love any other job as much as I love those precious NICU babes.