Our Engagement Season: Months Seven and Eight

Hey there! I’m back for more engagement season and wedding updates!! I’m so excited for today’s post, because the Type A in me is thrilled that as of today, these posts are caught up to live time. Today marks the end of month 8 of being engaged, and that means we have only TWO months left until our big day, the start of our forever journey as husband and wife. Months seven and eight were marked by details galore.

In month seven, I went with my mom to find the perfect MOB dress! She’s going to look fabulous and beautiful. Let me just take a minute to say, this wedding wouldn’t be what it’s going to without my mom and my dad. My mom has poured her heart and soul into every detail, and I’m not sure I’ll ever find a way to thank her or help her get back all the nights of missed sleep. If y’all have any ideas on that, send them my way!


We were able to pick up more of our date nights as I took more control of my schedule and quit over committing to working extra shifts. Important lessons learned here! Too many extra shifts means an empty tank, which means a crotchety me craving quiet and stillness. I had nothing left, especially to pour into our relationship, and we definitely suffered. We are back to weekly date nights as much as possible, and I can already tell a difference in our relationship.


I also went to several dress fittings, and alterations are finished. All that’s left is not to eat my feelings so the dress zips in 2 months!

Onto month eight, which was an extremely busy wedding month. We had a date night with baked spaghetti to celebrate 102 days to go. Really, we were celebrating 100 days, but we both had to work that night, so we went with two days early. I like it better that way anyhow! It’s way more special to me that we took time to just celebrate how far we’ve come and what’s coming next than it being on the exact right day. Any day is the perfect day for a celebration in my eyes.

We celebrated my birthday with my parents by going to the UNC vs. Duke football game in Chapel Hill. I have always wanted to go to home game and this seemed like the perfect time to go. It was a beautiful day, filled with tailgating and lots of laughs! I loved every second.


I headed home for a weekend to go shopping with my mom for some special white dresses for our upcoming wedding celebrations. I am so excited for all that is to come, but I am trying so hard to stay grounded and present in each day that passes. Anyone have any tips for staying present as the big day gets closer and closer? It was so nice to spend time with my parents and relax at home for the weekend. There’s nothing quite like that for me, and I’m so grateful I’m close enough to go to High Point when I want to (or need to, let’s be honest).

The next weekend I went to Charleston, SC to celebrate my bachelorette party, and Josh went to Charlotte with his friends for his bachelor weekend. My sister planned the best, most special, relaxing weekend I could have asked for complete with quality time, laughs, beach yoga, and downtown Charleston. I keep closing my eyes and taking myself back to that beach when I get stressed. Yoga with the waves crashing in the background is my perfect peace!


Josh and his friends did a pedal pub, watched the WVU football game, went to top golf, and the NASCAR race.


Later that week, I headed to High Point, and I finally got to meet Carla, of Carla White beauty. I. Love. Her. One thing I love most about several of my wedding vendors is their willingness to tell me about their marriages including past mistakes, what’s important, their best advice from lessons they’ve learned themselves, and to get on my level and really pour into my marriage. I sat in Carla’s chair for a hour and a half and she talked to me about the Lord, family, friends, her relationship, and I honestly can’t thank her enough. She does amazing hair and make up too, but what I’ll always remember is the way she took time and energy to build me up for marriage in the most positive way. That afternoon was a very special time as my mom, dad, and I went to do bridal portraits. This is a good ole southern wedding tradition and one I’ve always known we would do. The same photographer who took my mom’s wedding portraits took mine, and I love that we will always share that together. I’m so glad that my dad wanted to come with us! He is the most tender-hearted person I know, and it was really special to have him there the first time I saw myself as a bride!

We wrapped up month eight with a wedding planning day in High Point yesterday. Josh and I went to the bakery and picked out his groom’s cake for the rehearsal dinner. We did some odds and end errands around town for the wedding and picked up the final piece to the invitations. I am so excited to send out the invites and start getting RSVPs back. I think things will really start to feel real at that point. We finished up the day with our coordinator who has been such an angel during this time. She has thought of everything and we are so grateful for her!

I cannot believe my next post will really be month NINE out of TEN. I have said it a million times that if I could have thrown a wedding together in three months I would have, because all I want is to be married to Josh. But, as in everything, God’s timing is perfect. This has been the perfect amount of time for us to plan our dream day at our pace, while allowing us time to really prepare our hearts and souls for what we are doing. My biggest piece of advice to anyone reading that’s engaged or wants to be or even if you are single, is to take the time to prepare your relationship. Josh and I have been together almost EIGHT years, and this has been the sweetest time together. We have read books, had long car talks, had lots of fun, and learned a whole bunch about each other. It has taken time, and we’ve had to be intentional about it because we are really busy, but I don’t regret a single second. Those TV shows and Facebook will still be there, but you’ll never get your engagement season back, so make the most of it while you have it!

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Our Engagement Season: Months Three through Six

Ahhh! It’s October, the weather is finally cooling down, the leaves are starting to crunch, and do I sound basic yet?!? I’m a summer girl at heart. It’s my favorite time of year with a deep tan and too many beach days to count. But this year, I’m loving that fall is coming, because it means our wedding is getting SO close. Have I mentioned how excited I am to finally call Josh my husband? Because the excitement is oh so real!!!

Picking up where we left off in month two, I’ll start with month three today.

The first week of May we nailed down our caterer, which is a company with the most delicious food that runs out of our local Elks lodge which is actually just up the hill from our neighborhood. Meeting the workers of this precious company was such a relief for us in many ways… So, let me tell you about this whole catering situation. We went to a consultation with another company and it was great – very professional and very informative. Josh and I talked through the food we would like (very normal wedding food) and discussed table linens and utensils (again, just normal things you see at weddings). We left, and I thought, “That was easy. Check.” Then we got the quote, and OMG it was enough to feed a small country for about 5 years. I literally called Josh and said, “That’s it, we are eloping, there are children starving in Africa and we are NOT spending this much money on one night.” Fast forward to the first week of May when we met with our caterer and praise the Lord, Hallelujah they were way more reasonable. Did you know that it’s a “thing” to charge you for every utensil, glass, plate, and sneeze at the wedding? I did not, but now I do and holy Moses, this stuff is CRAY!

With all of the “big items” checked off our list, wedding planning slowed down a little bit, and real life picked up. In month 4, I started my new job as a PA at Duke Urgent Care. After living in Durham and working in High Point for two months, I was ready to just be in one place. Seeing Josh whenever I wanted to, weekly date nights, and communicating face to face instead of over a computer screen every night was and continues to be the best moments of life. For the first time in 7 years, Josh got to come with me to Wrightsville Beach for family beach week. This same state, same city thing is so good!!!


In month five, Josh’s parents and sister’s family were able to come to High Point for a weekend to get caught up on all things wedding. We took them to our caterer where we finalized table linens with the help of Josh’s four year old nephew. There were two options and we asked Graham which he liked better. He chose the same one we liked best too, so we went with it. We were able to take them to our venue which made me so excited. Being back in The Lofts after we had decided on more details made me feel like this was all coming to life! I was also able to take Josh’s mom and sister with me to pick up my dress. Putting the dress back on after 3 months was amazing. Graham poked his head in the dressing room after I had the dress on and said, “Wow, so pretty!” At least I know he likes the dress, haha!!


In month six, we worked… a whole bunch. Seriously, it felt like that’s all we did! If we  weren’t working we were celebrating! One of my best friends got married to my first friend from preschool. It was such a sweet weekend that we were honored to be part of!



I went down to Charleston to see my sister get her White Coat marking the completion of her first year of PA school. This is such a HUGE accomplishment and I am so proud of the way she made her first year look like a breeze. (I drowned in my first year.)


We were able to sneak away for two days to celebrate Josh’s birthday at the PGA Championship in Charlotte! That was a fun day and a half to just be together, not at work, and enjoy golf. Let’s be honest, when are we not “enjoying” golf?!

Whew! There’s months three through six!

I promise months seven and eight pick up a bit with more excitement. Honestly, after the first months were so buys and filled with big decisions, sitting back and taking it all in and enjoying life with Josh and our families was such a nice breath of fresh air.

We say I do, 75 days from today!!

Our Engagement Season: Month Two

Happy Wednesday Everyone! If you missed month one of our engagement season, you can find that here. Make sure you see where this journey started and then follow along through the rest of this year up until our wedding!

Month two was equally as exciting and busy, nailing down details! Josh has known forever that I always wanted my youth pastor from middle and high school to marry me. He was so instrumental in shaping my mind from the time I was 11, and out of all the pastors and mentors in my life, he was most willing to get on girl level. He even drove 4 of us to school once a week after youth breakfast, packed in his Civic with gym bags, backpacks, and soccer bags until we were all old enough to drive ourselves. He let us blare the Avett Brothers and scream at the top our lungs like only teenage girls can. So, on March 26, we went to Harrisburg with my parents and Josh got to meet him and he’s going to marry us!


The next week, we nailed down our photographer and rehearsal dinner location. Our photographer is the most precious human ever and has the sweetest spirit. Just being around her helps me relax, and I know that going to be so essential on our wedding day! We just took our engagement pics two days ago, and I cannot wait to see them! As I told you before, High Point can be limited on venues, so trying to find an empty room for our rehearsal dinner that was a blank canvas to make into a casual southern affair was tough. Thankfully, we found just the right spot that will take all of the work out of the evening and allow us all to show up and enjoy the night, bringing two families together as we start our lives as husband and wife.

This year is extremely fun in the life of my friends and I as we are celebrating so many weddings. On April 15, I was a bridesmaid for one of my college roommates, sorority sisters and best friends. Being privileged to be a part of friends’ weddings has helped so much in narrowing down the important details for our day as well as seeing what areas others incorporate unique ideas into for their own day! We had a blast at Eric and Ashel’s wedding! We were also honored to attend another friend’s wedding as well, and let me tell you, at this time in our lives, getting to be a guest at a wedding is such a gift!




Two days after I was in Ashel’s wedding, I moved to Durham. If you missed my post about faith and perseverance, you should read this one! I talked about how long it took for Josh and I to live in the same city. The inner peace I felt then and still feel now after being in the same place is amazing. Over the last months our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds. I have always known Josh is my forever, but physically seeing each other and being able to be there for each other in person has been absolutely incredible.


We are so excited as our big day gets closer every minute! I feel so privileged to get to be Josh’s future wife!

Our Engagement Season: Month One

Over the next few weeks and months, I’m blogging Josh and I’s engagement season on here, mostly so I can always remember exactly how everything went and everything I felt, and the journey we took to get to our wedding day, but I would love for you to read along too!

Several months ago, I blogged about how long it took for us to live in the same city. If you need encouragement about trusting God’s plan for your life, no matter what season you are in, that’s a great post to read.

Today, I’m blogging month one of our engagement. The first month was FULL of excitement, meetings, list making, and coming up with our vision. There’s a lot to document from month one!

This whole season of life has been incredibly busy for us, but also filled with love, laughter, and many of my favorite memories. That being said, I was so overwhelmed at first with making time for venue tours, catering appointments, florists that I remember thinking to myself, “How are we going to have time to do all this, not to mention preparing our hearts for a beautiful marriage?” Did anyone else who has or is planning a wedding ever feel that way?

I’m here to tell you, if you get intentional about setting aside time to talk about important topics for your marriage, it will happen. And it gets good and sweet, and it will remind you, even through all of the decisions that have to be made,that  you have picked the right one to do life with.


After all, at the end of your wedding day, the napkins, cake flavors, and flowers don’t matter. It’s what you promised and WHO you promised it to that matters most. My goal has been to never lose sight of that throughout this time in our lives.

Month One: February 18 – March 17

Day Zero: The Best Day Ever – Wrightsville Beach, NC
When I think back on the day Josh proposed, I have so many emotions – love, happiness, joy, and peace. That day was absolute perfection in every way. I had no clue what was happening up until the moment he got down on one knee. I’m pretty sure my face in this picture says it all.


We had lunch at the best restaurant on the beach with both of our families. There were toasts and lots of laughter. Our families went above and beyond to celebrate with us, and I know we will never forget that time with them.



The next day: The day after we got engaged, we ran a half marathon. I think I’m the only person who had to train for a half marathon in order to get engaged. Apparently it was the only way to get me to Wrightsville Beach in the middle of winter without me getting suspicious.


After the race, we sat down for breakfast, and pulled out the iPhone calendar with our parents and Mads, and we picked our date. Simple as that. We wanted December, we wanted to work around the holidays, and we wanted to have time for our honeymoon. So, December 16, 2017 it is!

March 8: After touring and calling several venues in the days prior, we quickly realized that finding a spot to have a reception in my hometown during the Christmas season was becoming increasingly difficult. I can’t say there weren’t tears involved over being stressed about where to have it and all of the logistics involved. We went on two more tours this day of the venues that were available. The first venue was not the place. I’m a big believer in vibes and feeling “right” in a place, and the first stop just was not right. I tried to make it work because I knew it was one of two places available, but it just did not work. I felt claustrophobic and stuffy. The second we walked into the second space, I knew we had our venue. It has windows, it’s unique, it’s us. Check box one of ten important things…

March 10: My mom, sister, and I took off to find a florist and we found Stacey at the Farmer’s Wife. She called me “kiddo” and took my color swatches and made me feel like the most important person in the room. Y’all. I am artsy. I am creative. I love to make things. I do NOT have a green thumb. I have tried and failed. So when Stacey asked me about my ideas for flowers, something I know nothing about, I politely told her, “These are the colors, make it look pretty please.”

March 17: I SAID YES TO THE DRESS!!! I am the girl who went prom dress shopping with a dress in mind, that I came up with on my own, that never actually existed, and would leave the mall after hours of trying on dresses,proving to myself what I thought up in my head didn’t exist with something else. That being said, I think my mom and sister were terrified that’s how dress shopping would go.


I’m here to tell you, I tried on 8 dresses in one shop and I picked the 6th one. The second I put it on, I didn’t want to take it off, and I knew it was the one. We cancelled the 2nd appointment and went to brunch as a family. (Yes! I brought my dad dress shopping with me. Growing up, we would always says, let’s take it home and see what dad thinks. I knew his opinion was important to me, so I took him with me too. I wouldn’t change it for the world. That way we got to practice twirling and make sure the dress still looked alright!)

Whew! That’s month one. It already feels like it was forever ago, but at the same time, I remember every detail. Stay tuned for month 2 up to the big day!

 

 

Intentional Relationships: Friends {part 2}

In my last post, I talked about qualities of life-giving friendships. If you missed that post, you should click here to check it out.


Today, I’m talking about expectations in friendships. I don’t know about you, but I have high expectations of the people in my life, and I am sometimes guilty of not having enough grace in my friendships.

What do you expect out of your friendships? Do you expect…

  • girl talk every once in a while?
  • lunch or dinner every so often?
  • text or talk daily?
  • for your friends to just “know” what is going on with you and adjust accordingly?
  • to be included all of the time for everything including dinners and events you know you couldn’t make? When you see pictures of your “best friends” doing things without you that you didn’t know about, do you feel a pang of FOMO, even if you realistically could have never been there?
  • a drama free relationship?
  • someone who shoots straight with you or beats around the bush to make you feel better?
  • someone who sacrifices for you to be there when you need them as you have for them?

It is so easy to have unreasonably high standards in our friendships, especially as women. We are so wrapped up in our own mess of crazy that we forget to look past our own circumstances and into those of our friends. I encourage you to put down your harbored ill feelings about the time that Sally chose someone or something else over you, even if you feel wronged and hurt by that choice, because one thing we all need a little bit more of in this life is grace. I know there are ill feelings I regret hanging on to, because it means I have missed out on some really great friendships over the years.

So what’s next? Lay your expectations down, and place them at the feet of Jesus. He is the only friend who can meet all of our needs, and everyone else the Lord has placed in our lives is just trying every day to be the best they can be.

 

Intentional Relationships: Friends 

I’ve been doing some soul searching and deep thinking about what really matters to me lately, and I know one thing is for sure, that I want to leave a legacy and make an impact on people and on this world for the better. I took some time, and I wrote down 4 things I would do if I could do anything in the world, (other than what I do as a Physician Assistant) and one of them was to write meaningful words about real life matters like relationships with family, friends, spouses or significant others and also words that encourage and lift up other women in their daily lives. I’m not sure what that looks like in the long run, but for right now, it means that I’m writing here. I thought I would start with being intentional in relationships and for a while, I’m digging in to friendships.

We’ve all been around those women who we consider our friends yet they constantly whine that they “have no friends.” Talk about a punch to the gut. We’ve all been around those ladies who you find yourself constantly feeling paranoid they are talking about you behind your back, which is also no fun. We’ve all had friendships where we were more invested in the friendship than the other person and made to feel less than worthy of someone’s time, and there’s always the friendships that drain you instead of feeling mutually life giving.

There are also the friendships that are the exact opposite of those situations, and those are the friendships I want to chase down and invest in. Think about your best friendships and what lies at the heart of those relationships. I’m betting there are common threads running through them that make them so special.

Every great friendship starts with you. You have to be the friend you want to have. The most life giving friendships are encouraging, happy, uplifting, and non judgmental. They  are safe, full of grace, and allow us the freedom to be who we really are. As in any relationship, you shouldn’t take without giving, so if that’s what you’re looking for too, you have to be that person for your friends also.

So this week, remember to be the friend you want to have, and I’ll be that you find that reciprocated towards you!

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.”