7 years, 2 months, 11 days.

I should be unpacking right now, but instead I sat down to write this blog post. The Lord has been laying these words on my heart for the last few months, I’ve just been waiting for the right time to put them on a page, and today just feels right. I have started to write this post a few times, as this story has been in the works for over a year, but today is the day.

I am a planner to the max – OCD, control freak, needs to know what is happening now, tomorrow, and ten to fifteen years from now – and if it could all happen according to plan, that would be great and I would be most comfortable. LOL. Life isn’t like that at all. And that’s also absolutely not how The Lord works, and He also uses this fact about me to teach me so many amazing lessons in this life.

So let’s rewind. Josh and I started dating 7 years, 2 months, and 12 days ago to this day (Yes, I counted and that is also an important fact). He was in good ole Buies Creek and I was in High Point.

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From that time until now, Josh has lived in Buies Creek, Pittsburg, PA Columbus, OH, Ooltewah, TN, Cleveland, OH, and Naples, FL while doing internships and starting his career. I’m sure I am missing a city or two, but I can’t keep count anymore. All the while, I have been here in North Carolina the whole time, because let’s be honest, I’m a Tar Heel and my blood runs Carolina blue and that’s where my family is and I love them dearly. We both wanted to graduate from college, and I from PA school before we moved to the same place. Josh was in Ooltewah, TN when I graduated from Methodist in December of 2015. I went out there for a job interview two days after graduation, got an amazing job that was actually a blend of every medical specialty that I loved, and planned to move there two months later. That easy. Josh and I were finally going to be in the same place after five and half years, and we started talking about getting married how great it would be to make a home in Tennessee for a few years and explore that area together. Y’all, our dreams had come true. But if you know us, you know that isn’t what has happened in the last year or so at all.

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While I was on vacation in Naples with my family and Josh celebrating the new year, graduation, and getting my first job as a PA, I got a phone call that the budget did not allow for another Advanced Practice Provider in that practice and that they may be able to help me in July or later than that. This was the only job available in Tennessee and the only lead I had even gotten out there. The one city in the entire United States that Josh was living was the one city in the entire United States where the market for PAs was flooded. I was crushed. We were crushed. There was absolutely no opportunity there. I struggled with what all this meant, what God’s plans were for Josh and I, how after all this time we still could not be in the same place, and what on earth I was going to do because I had this fancy degree and no job and had not been looking for one, because I thought I had one.

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The Lord provided an amazing first job for me in High Point and although I was very frustrated with how things had happened, this has been the perfect place for me to start my career. I have been blessed with people who have been so gracious to me as I have continued to learn and who have laughed with me as I have done some really hysterical things my first year as a PA. I really just didn’t know what to do about Tennessee and that whole situation. Ugh.

Y’all. Josh and I were at our wits end. I had made 12 trips to Tennessee in 4 months and was just exhausted. And Josh gets an opportunity in Durham, North Carolina. One hour from my front door. God is so cool. I wish I could tell you that I proudly proclaimed that truth every day that we walked through some tough days, but I didn’t. I shouted my frustrations at the Lord sometimes, but I know He is strong enough to take them. I also know that the Lord would rather have our gut honest feelings that being shiny and perfect for Him always.

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Yesterday, after 7 years, 2 months, and 11 days, I officially became a resident of Durham, NC, meaning that we live in the same city. We looked at each other this past weekend and said something like what are we going to do next week when we can see each other whenever we want to? Again, God is so cool.

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There are still a few growing pains here, because I just really love being close to my parents, but if there is anything the last seven years have taught me, it’s that God’s plans are far better than my own and with Him, I can handle anything life throws at me, and that means you too mom and dad.

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I’m not sharing this with you, to share a mushy love story, although, our love story is really amazing, and it’s not all sunshine and beach waves, but God’s redemption and grace is woven throughout our story in some incredible ways. I’m sharing this with you in hopes to encourage you. You may not be waiting today to be in the same place as your better half. But I know that each and every one of you is waiting for something – your dream job, healing in a relationship, to have kids, to graduate from college or grad school, to get into the professional program that you’ve been working so hard toward – it could be anything, big or small. I want to encourage you to trust God in your waiting. Patience is tough. I’m not sure that’s a lesson I will really ever have mastered but you can bet God will continue to give me opportunities to practice that one. Y’all. I was texting my mom today, and you should know separation for my family always tugs at our heart strings. Growing a tight-knit, close family unit is something my parents did really well. I told her, that all I kept thinking is how wrong Tennessee would have been, and for two years that’s all I wanted. Trust God in your waiting, because His plans are so much more than we will ever dream up on our own. My biggest wildest dream, pales in comparison to all that God has planned for me.

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The day that Josh proposed, one of the best feelings (okay, there were a lot of best feelings that day) was feeling so secure in God’s plans for our lives. The waiting can be hard, painful, sad, lonely, and even really long, but when you get there the reward is so much better than you could ever imagine. Tough it out, persevere, and keep fighting the fight, because you are in for the best days ahead of you.

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I hope you feel encouraged for whatever you’re waiting on. I love you people. All of you. Have a great week!

Adulting.

Y’all, adulting is hard. All those people who were so excited for me when I graduated made me so excited to exit stage right from the school thing and start working in the real world were SO faking it! Just kidding, really, but seriously, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I remember feeling so excited to be done with studying and get a job so I could pay bills with real money, not the Monopoly money you get from student loans. They make you pay all those dollars back, kids with your real money, that the government takes all of your dollars out of before you ever even see it. Seriously, stay in school; it’s way better there.

All jokes aside, I am grateful for the opportunities and blessings being a productive human in society has granted me. Hard work pays off and you get to enjoy things like taking care of all the people like you always dreamed about and “Paid Time Off” where they still pay you even though you’re off on a beach soakin’ in the sun.

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In case you need reassurance that you’re not alone in the “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing” category, I thought I would provide you some comfort in letting you know that, indeed, you are not.

Exhibit A. I don’t own a washer and dryer yet. Totally no room in the budget for such a machine that spins your clothes around in circles, because, let’s be honest, I really wanted a couch, so most of the time my mom does my laundry because she’s a true saint. Sometimes I do my laundry at her house. (By sometimes, I mean maybe 3 times over the last 6 months. And Mom, I am really so thankful.)

One night, I had done laundry at my parents’ house (they were out of town), and I left my sheets in the dryer, but I didn’t figure this out until 11pm that night, when lo and behold, there were not sheets on my bed. Two things about this: 1. Clearly, I cannot function without my parents. 2. There is no tiredness like going to get in your bed and realizing you have to put sheets on it. Help me.

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Exhibit B. Raging about taxes.  You want to know what I think is incredibly rude? Property taxes. I’ve been told this only gets worse, and you have to pay them every year. Along with insurance and never mind actually paying for the car. Also rude, the taxes they take out of my check. Again, this apparently gets worse, and I am not looking forward to that.

Exhibit C. Identity crisis. One of the biggest struggles of adult life has been figuring out who I am, now that I am no longer a student. That, I am learning, was the biggest part of my identity. Can you say, “Nerd alert!?” For 20 years of my life, I have thrived on learning things, and then performing well on tests that prove to myself that I am good at something. It’s a real struggle, when you are starting off in a new job, with new people, and you still really aren’t sure what it is that you’re doing. But, thankfully I have been blessed with wonderful co-workers who watch out for me and help me along. I am grateful for this struggle though, because more than anything else, it has refocused my attention on the Lord. If am not daily filling up my heart and brain with the reassurances that I am God’s and He loves me no matter what, the comparison sneaks in a steals my joy and robs me of my confidence. This experience of transitioning between the student world and the working world has shown me how important it is to bring the fullness of God with me into every situation instead of waiting for someone else to reassure me that I am doing okay, because, what if no one mentions that? If my identity lies in what others think of me and say about me, I’m in for one heck of an emotional rollercoaster. So, daily, even if it’s at 7:05am before the first patient is arrived, I must remind myself that my identity rests in the arms of Christ, simply because of His lavish grace.

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Ooltewah, TN.

Exhibit D. I don’t even appear to look like an adult. I can say I am so glad I am finally 25, because now, when every. single. patient. asks me, “Honey, how can you possibly be old enough to be doing this?” I can say 25 instead of 24. For some reason, that sounds so much more reassuring to me.

To all my fellow friends living the mid-20s dream and not having a clue how we’re making it, I salute you. Have grace for yourself, and have grace for others, because in the end we are all just trying to do the best we can.

Peace and blessings y’all. Spread more love, less hate.

What I Wish My Patients Knew

I’ve been working in the walk-in clinic for 6 weeks now, and I have learned so much more about life and medicine. Over the last week or so, I have left work thinking there are so many things that I wish my patients knew. So, I’m writing them down and sharing them with you, because at one point, we have all be a “patient,” and there are so many things that you never even realize about the people who are taking care of you. Now, we aren’t all the same, so I can’t speak for everyone else, but here’s my list so far…

  1. You are prayed for daily. You are prayed for on my way to work, before I ever start my day. Sometimes, you are prayed for as you are telling me why you’re in the clinic that day. There are times when my heart just breaks for you as you tell me the stories of your lives, and I can’t help but ask God to send you a hug from Heaven. You are prayed for after I’ve gone home for the day. When you tell me dates of surgeries and procedures, I write them down, and you are prayed for.
  2. You are loved, simply because you are you, and you walked into my room that day. Simple as that. There are never too many patients to be loved. Sometimes, all you need to know is that you have a place to come for help when you need it. We will always be there if you even if you just need to hear the words, “It’s going to be ok.”
  3. When you cry, I am fighting back tears, because my heart breaks daily over how tough you have it sometimes. I have patients who have lost hope, who are in so much pain both physically and emotionally, who seem to have been kicked every time they are down, who are lonely, who have lost absolutely everything, and who are terrified that they are about to die, and they cry. When I reach for their hand, I am swallowing big gulps, because all I want to do is to take all of those burdens away.About two weeks ago, I took this little 86 year old lady’s face in my hands as we were waiting for EMS, and said, “I know you’re scared, but you’re in the right place, and we are going to take care of you. It’s going to be ok.” For her, I was strong. When I stepped outside her room, it was all I could to keep tears from falling.
  4. I lay awake at night wondering and hoping that I did my best for you that day and that I didn’t miss anything that could make you feel better. I am still learning new things every day, and there have been many nights that I have tossed and turned, hoping that you’re ok, that what I did for you was what is best for you.
  5. Not every chief complaint is equal. You may have had to wait for an hour to see me for ten minutes, but I promise you that when it’s you who needs an hour, that’s what you’ll get. If you need me to take an hour to help you with your medicines or to stabilize your blood pressure or to get you to the right tests and get to the right specialists, I promise you I will do that. But on the day that you only need 10 minutes, that’s all I have to give, because there is someone else who needs the hour.
  6. My life dream is literally spending my days seeing you and taking care of you. I have worked hard for many countless hours and shed blood, sweat, and tears to have the opportunity and privilege to listen to your problems and find a solution for them. Imagine the thing that you would stop at nothing to achieve and to be able to do. My “thing” is being able to be your PA.
  7. My goal is to always treat you as if you were my family member. I hope that when my mom and dad, or my grandmama and papaw go to their medical appointments, that they are treated like family. I hope that I always make you feel like you are important, that you are heard, and that you are cared for like I would take care of my own people.
  8. I am human too. I am not perfect, and I surely don’t know everything, but what I don’t know, I’ll be honest and tell you. I’ll find out how to get the answers or find someone else who does. I don’t always run on time, I don’t always remember to have a positive attitude, and I do get emotional about things during my day.
  9. Google doesn’t have all the answers, and you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. Google didn’t go to PA school, and no website can tell you as much as the patient sitting in front of you. Words are only words on a page. We don’t always do everything “by the book,” because our patients are almost never “by the book.”

When People Die Too Soon

A great friend to my family recently passed away. If you follow me on Facebook, you know it was the lady who cuts my hair. She was 40 years old, leaving behind 3 small kids and loving family. I learned of her battle with cancer a few months ago, and in what turned out to be our last conversation, we talked about life and the way you look at the future when you don’t know what tomorrow holds. I walked out of the salon that day thinking I would see her again for my next appointment, not knowing it would be our last. It makes me so grateful I hugged her tight and told her I loved her and that I was praying for her. It makes me so grateful for all the life talks we had in her chair over the last 20 years, especially our last.

First Lesson: I want to remember to always, always, always tell people how I feel about them. Leave no words unsaid, because there is a reason those words are pressed on your heart. Sometimes fear and uncertainty of how they will be received makes me hold back, but I don’t want to hold back words of love, comfort, or encouragement anymore. What if we never get another chance to say them?

This isn’t the first time it feels like someone was taken too soon. The older I get, the more people I know who face what seems like insurmountable grief, and my heart breaks for them, whether they be family friends, people I have known my whole life, or my patients. In PA school, I was confronted with death more than I really thought I would be. Patients who have routine procedures but don’t make it through the night or who wake up one morning noticing minor discomfort or severe pain and they don’t get to go back home with their people. It forces you to deal with the uncomfortable reality of death and the fact that life is fragile and can be gone in an instant.

Second Lesson: Live every day to the fullest. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine and complain about life’s little annoyances. It’s so easy to forget to have purpose every day. God only gave us a certain number of days on this earth. All too often I think something along the lines of, “I’ll get to that later…” What if later doesn’t come? I want to get all I can out of the days I’ve been given.

Every time someone departs this earth to go their heavenly home, it always feels like it’s too soon. It always feel like we should’ve had more time. I will never be ready to say goodbye to people in my life, even if they are 95. We always want more time. And there are so many things that happen that don’t make sense. When people die tragically at such a young age, it leaves us with so many “Why” questions. Sometimes it leaves us with anger. It makes you want to shake your fists at God and say, “Why would you do this to us?” We may  never get the answers we are looking for until we get to Heaven and see God face to face. But if we believe God’s promises and have seen His display of faithfulness in days and years past, then we can trust in His promises for the future.

Third Lesson: God is still God even when we can’t make sense of what happens in this life. He keeps His promises to us, sometimes just not in ways we can understand, and we have to find a way to continue to have faith in that.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

Goals for 2016

New year, new blog!

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I tried to write a blog during PA school and turns out, PA school doesn’t allow time for extra things. So, now I have lots of free time, and I am going to use some of it to write. No schedules, just when God lays something on my heart to write down. I feel challenged to simplify and not to complicate things so much. Who else complicates absolutely everything by going from 0-100mph in about 60 seconds whenever you have a new idea?

Even though we are 11 days into 2016 already, I feel like this year is finally getting started for me. I spent the first days of this year in sunny Florida, which was a wonderful break for me from all the stress of finishing school that had been following me around for about 2 months. I was SO glad to graduate and PASS the boards and kiss that stress goodbye! BUT now, it’s time to get in gear and get 2016 going.

IMG_8786When I think about goals for the next year, I keep coming back to 2 themes.

The first: Simplify. Stop making things so complicated. Stop stressing. Don’t make something that is a 2 a 10. De-clutter… my thoughts, my emotions, my things, my life. When I moved out of my apartment from PA school, I just had so much stuff. It made me want to throw everything out and start over with the bare essentials. Well, I can’t do that, but I can clean out things from high school (or middle school) hiding in the back corners of my closet.

The second: Less and more.

  • Less of me. More of God.
  • Less time with FaceBook. More time with Jesus.
  • Less of what other people think. More of what matters to God.
  • Less whining. More gratitude.
  • Less negative. More positive.
  • Less comparison. More confidence.
  • Less of material possessions. More of real “things.”

I want to apply those two themes to my life throughout this year and look back and see the ways they allowed for growth and change in my life. I have some measurable goals for myself this year as well that have been written down, prayed over and talked about with the Lord, and are guiding my steps each day. I have 4 main categories of my life that I set goals for: spiritual, health, professional, and personal. Some categories have 1 goal, others have 4 or 5. All of them remind me to have grace for myself and to strive to bring glory to Jesus on a daily basis and all of them motivate me to be better than I was yesterday. I’ll share more about those as the year goes on!

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Happy 2016 to y’all, even though you’ve already been rocking it for 11 days!

xo, Meghan