First Anniversary at the Flea Market

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted anything, BloggerFam. Also been a while since I had the chance to lay here on the couch and collect my thoughts. Life is so busy these days. And not necessarily in a bad way; just different from what a normal life of mine usually looks like.
To answer the most frequently asked question, married life is wonderful — learning and growing and being humbled every single day — aaaand Thomas and I just celebrated our first anniversary! Totally wild! This year has flown by, but it all excites me for what lies ahead. I love that boy more than I ever thought I could love a person.

Though we weren’t as fortunate as pretty much all of our newlywed friends and couldn’t take an anniversary trip (yet) (I’m only a little bitter) because of Thomas’ school schedule, he did make me feel extra loved this past weekend by driving me to my favorite place on earth (the beach!!!!!) for a fun, relaxing day, our attention focused on nothing or no one else besides each other.

Rain threatened to cut off our day in the sun an hour earlier than anticipated, so Thomas and I packed up our beach stuff, changed clothes, and set out to explore the area instead. We stumbled upon a flea market (side note: I LOVE flea markets) and decided kill some time browsing around before eating dinner.
As we were making our way by each little section, Thomas spoke a simple yet profound statement (as usual) that got me thinking. “Isn’t it crazy how, at one point, all of this stuff was valuable to someone. And now it’s here at a flea market collecting dust? Every thing on this earth just ends up collecting dust eventually.”

Like — how true is this? No, for real. That is some good truth. Not sure which is gonna happen first, but either I am going to die or Jesus is going to come back. And in light of both of these events, not a single fragment of my “things” will even be a little bit important. I have fretted over the tiny home that Thomas and I have been blessed to live in, Does this match? What will my neighbors say? We need to update this. Will guests appreciate this special touch? And I’m definitely guilty of wasting money on things that I don’t need. Years from now, my kids will probably auction off all our junk at a flea market, but nevertheless, here in the present, I constantly worry about it as if I can bring it along in a wagon through the Pearly Gates.

As our first year anniversary approached, it revealed to my selfish heart over and over again that it is the relationships in this life that matter. Not my things.
It brings back funny memories of the time my Papaw JP spent a buttload of money and a buttload of worrisome time over a new shed for his new camper. And then not even two weeks later, a nearby tree fell backwards, bulldozed the brand new shed, and left my Papaw SOL. I can still clearly visualize Granny standing at the patio door, shaking her head, and whispering, I tried to tell him that these “things” don’t matter.

Which is almost as comical as the way every. single. couple. on House Hunters unapologetically exclaims, “This bathroom just won’t work for us! We have to have double sinks in the master bath!” Oh, if they could only see the itty bitty bathroom that Thomas and I shuffle around in.

My first year of marriage is in the books, and when I look back on all the beauty and bad jumbled together, I don’t even remember which blanket I bought for the guest bedroom or how many times people stopped to marvel at our house’s new paint color. I truly don’t even give a second thought to the size of our bathroom. I only remember the joy in Thomas’ eyes as he demolished me in Connect Four every night after dinner (lol) or all the times we stayed up way too late eating chocolate chip cookies. I remember the gorgeous waterfall hike we took in Chattanooga, not the hotel we slept in. I remember the walks we took in the evenings with Presley and the meals we ate with our favorite neighbors. Not the perfectly selected accent rug in our bedroom that no one sees or even that one really nice paycheck from the week I worked eight days in a row instead of seven. I also can’t help but reflect on the overwhelming love and joy we felt from our family and friends, simply wishing us a happy first anniversary and reminding us how much we are cared for. But I don’t even hardly remember what the bridesmaids dresses looked like from my wedding.

Everything really will eventually collect dust. Our bank accounts. Our favorite throw pillows. Presley’s adorable doggie bowls that I just had to buy him. Even my really cool robot vacuum. Although my head endlessly yearns for a house that looks like it came straight from an HGTV magazine and a giant, jacuzzi tub that I can read Harry Potter in for hours, my soul begs for interaction and connections with the people God’s placed around me. And I don’t think that’s something I should ignore.

At that flea market, I probably picked up and put down thirty-seven coffee mugs that once meant a great deal to their previous owners. I even found a children’s mug with Captain John Smith’s face on it that I legit used to own myself, which brought back so many memories of drinking chocolate milk out of that weird-face-mug when I was a child. It was molded and dirty and forgotten and became yet another confirmation that nothing in this world lasts forever — besides our love, our actions, our words, and our Jesus.

If you need me, I’m currently chilling on my couch, recuperating from this weekend and getting my head screwed on straight for work tomorrow night. And then I think I’ll call up a friend and schedule a dinner date — I’ve decided that is more important than anything else I’d be doing this side of Heaven.

With much love to my BloggerFam,
Allie

I wasn’t lying about the John smith mug!!!

Happy one year (and two days), Thomas Tubby! You are the most incredible human being that I know and easily the hardest working, most selfless, most loving, most compassionate husband. You surpass any and everything that I prayed to God for with flying colors. I love you more today than I ever have, and I am excited to continue growing that love and our marriage as the years roll by!

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Year One & all its Lessons

June 17th, 2017 goes down in Allie’s History Book as one of those life-changing kind of days. I don’t think anybody can really be prepared for what is to come after the word “PASS” flashes across the screen and you write RN behind your name for the first time. You can hear or read about quite a few crazy situations, but until you’re there on the frontline, personally experiencing death and blood and tears and vomit from a total stranger, you never really can understand.

I was ecstatic when I found out I had passed my nursing board exam. Besides my wedding day and when I fell in love with Christ, it was like the greatest of my life. The relief, the hard work that paid off, the countless nights where I studied instead of slept, the opportunities to hang out with my friends that I missed out on…….it was all finally over, and I had finally gotten what I wanted. I was finally a flippin’ nurse!

I immediately started orientation on the floor — with the patients — that I held so near and dear to my heart. It had been a year since Danny’s death, and the anticipation of a lifetime helping people with cancer like him was exciting. I was learning cool things from experienced nurses that I’d never gotten to do as a nursing student, like hang chemo and blood and all the patho my heart desired about cancer and bone marrow transplants.
And then just as I was ready to finish orientation, move to night shift, and start taking patients on my own, a special nurse spoke to me one of the truest lessons I’ve learned thus far: You gotta cling to God harder than ever during your first year of nursing.

At the time, I eagerly agreed with her. “Yes of course! He is my refuge and strength during this difficult job He’s called me to do!” in my best Christian-y voice.
But she narrowed her brows at me and meant what she said. A full three-hundred and sixty-five days bearing the title “registered nurse,” and I understand her better now.

In the beginning, I could only think of how overwhelming the new job was for me. So much to learn, so many skills to master, and still so much to remember in order to adequately take care of people that expect me to automatically be an expert. This first year was confusing, challenging, heartbreaking, and filled with so. many. trying. times. I met patients I became way too attached to, and things didn’t work out the way I prayed for them to work out. I made many, many mistakes, and I felt like a terrible nurse for weeks because of it. I had to fake nice to a patient I didn’t particularly enjoy while simultaneously mourning the death of my patient down the hall. I had to get on my hands and knees to clean up waste that I didn’t know a person could produce — several times. I’ve been enslaved to horrific mood swings after dealing with residents who don’t know my patient as personally as I do and don’t believe I know what I’m talking about…..and my patient suffers…..and I get blamed. I’ve held precious hands as their souls left this world. And then I’ve comforted their families that grew to feel like my own family. And then I’ve cried on the way home from work — months later.

You gotta cling to God harder than ever during your first year of nursing.

I learned during my first year of nursing to apologize for missing out on family events because of being tied down with work. To accept the fact that I will re-think and over-think every single decision made during the previous shift rather than sleep. To break dinner dates because the night before was so physically exhausting and emotionally draining that I can’t even muster up the energy to see my friends. To be so overwhelmed for so many different reasons, all of which involve keeping people alive. To lay down my own issues from home and take on the problems of strangers for twelve hours at a time. To cry into my husband’s shoulder because the patient I’d grown to love so dearly passed away.

I’m not a nurse because I want the praise and glory that comes with it. Trust me when I say there isn’t any.
I’m not a nurse because I love to “help” people. Trust me when I say it gets tiring.
I’m not a nurse because I consider myself selfless and kind. Trust me when I say my husband will tell you otherwise.
I’m not a nurse because I love the pay. Trust me when I say it’s not all that much.

My job can be fun and fulfilling, and my job can be tough. And I want you to understand when I say that the beauty of what I do is not found in the “selflessness” of nursing someone back to health or in comforting families of those that we lose. The beauty truly is found in the strength and refuge of the Lord, like I thought I understood when I was talking to Emily all those days ago. The safehouse He provides when the job gets to be “too much,” or “too hard,” and I vow to never love a patient again like I did before. The unfeasible amount of strength He puts down in my soul when that new patient admission comes strolling through, and I fall in love all over again. The assurance that there’s so much more to come when these bodies wear out and our lives end.

Without Jesus, I just couldn’t. It doesn’t add up in my head that others can.

I’m not quite sure I could wake up and drive to the hospital every night. I couldn’t face what all goes on beyond the sliding, double doors. I wouldn’t be renewed each time I put my scrubs on, kiss my husband, and head out the door. I’d never, ever be equipped to take care of patient after patient after patient — not when the emotional and the literal crap we face seems unbearable at times.

People often say that they can’t fathom what we “do” for our patients. But the beauty of my job will never be seen in me, for what I do, without Jesus. It’s what He does through me — and through every other nurse out there, whether they want to claim it or not.

That’s a wrap for Year One of this crazy, beautiful experience!

With much love to my BloggerFam,
Allie

I wrote this song when a patient of mine passed away a few months ago. Sometimes it can be so hard to love on people who have the potential to break our hearts -- and that's in every day life. In nursing, it can be hard to be vulnerable with patients when I know that they might pass away and take pieces of my heart with them.
But by God’s grace, He continuously strengthens me to love each patient as much as the last -- even when I know it'll be hard to let go.
* Lyrics *
I never expected it to be this hard
I built walls up around me,
And I guarded my heart
But sometimes it’s tough
Not to get too close
When every night I’m holding them
And they need my love
Sometimes it’s hard, hard to give love
‘Cuz when it falls apart
I’m not ready for the smoke
Or the flames
Or the fire
It just engulfs
And then it’s hard, hard to let go

There are days I have
I question, “Why?”
This aching pain they feel
How am I not supposed to cry?
Sometimes i lie awake
And I can still see their faces
Sometimes the hands I’ve held
I swear they still feel so real

Sometimes it’s hard, hard to give love
‘Cuz when it falls apart
I’m not ready for the smoke
Or the flames
Or the fire
It just engulfs
And then it’s hard, hard to let go

God, I’m not strong enough
I can see them in my dreams
God, I want to give my love
But the loss is just killing me
God, I’m not strong enough
I can’t do this work alone
God, I want to give my love
But it’s hard to let them go

Sometimes it’s hard
But You give me the strength
Sometimes it’s hard
But there is Your unfailing peace
In the flames
In the fire
God, You just engulf me
Even when it’s hard, hard to let go

More Than We Can Handle

“God never gives you more than you can handle!”

Goodness grief. What a lie.

I’m at work right now. For those who don’t know me, I’m a nurse who shows up every night to take care of patients and families at their absolute lowest points. Cancer sucks.

You cannot imagine a life so painful until you’ve experienced cancer. The literal blood, sweat, and tears. The weakness, the unexplainable fatigue. The bone pain that others can’t see but you feel deep to your core. The mouth sores. The vomit. The diarrhea. The horrified stares from your closest friends. The way life appears to go on without you. The loss of your hair. The loss of your will to live coupled with the never ending question about whether or not this is a life at all.

Cancer is more than anybody can handle. Cancer is painful, heartbreaking, earth-shattering, and sometimes cancer is fatal. God absolutely gives us more than we can handle.

Like I said, I’m at work. And I stare into the eyes of these precious people enduring an immense tragedy. Something so much greater than these earthly bodies were ever created to handle. Yet there are still people in this world who fall into the lie that God will never allow us to walk through trials greater than we can take on.

I had a patient pass away a while back. I miss her. She would tell me to raise the bed up when I’d be drawing her labs so that I wouldn’t hurt my back. I would laugh at her for telling me what to do.

She would get a serious expression on her face and tell me I needed my back to be strong, because life was sure to try and knock me down. And then she’d giggle and say, “And when you do get knocked down — because you will — that’s when you’ll finally realize how weak you really are. That’s when you’ll give up being so ‘strong’ and just lean on God instead.”

Then she’d sit back, close her eyes, and breathe out a sigh, as if her work as one of God’s angels in my life was done.

I think about that often.

The truth is, God does allow us to suffer through more than we can handle. My patients can agree with that from first hand experience. I bet their families would agree, too.

Life gets messy, and it gets discouraging. When it gets worse than we anticipated — when it gets to be more than we can handle — we question why our loving God would allow such heartache upon us. I’ve been there, done that, and won the T-shirt for asking it a million times. But over and over again, I come back to what my patient told me. Maybe it’s because, in our tragedies, we find out how weak we actually are, frantically screaming through the stuff that we just can’t handle. And how big and mighty God is in comparison.

Ephesians is pretty blunt. It tells us that we are, or we will be at some point, up against far more than we can handle on our own. And to that threat, Ephesians warns us to be prepared.

We as Christians have the ability to grab hold of the weapons God has provided us to use against this life that is sure to knock us down. He has given us His strength, His peace, His comfort, His wisdom, and His presence. He has told us to walk boldly in truth, righteousness, and our faith. We can cling dearly to our salvation in times that are too tough to handle — it’s the only piece of this puzzled life that makes sense. Ephesians goes further to say that God’s Word itself is an “indispensable weapon” and that prayer is “essential” in this “ongoing warfare” we call life.

We have all the tools to withstand the storm, and we have God’s mighty, mighty hand. So why do we feed into the lie that whispers we have to “handle” it all on our own?

To me, it sounds like Life is gonna suck every now and then. It sounds like our flesh is weak and fragile against what might come. We will fall, cry, scream, and try to outrun what’s happening. We can and will get so much more than we can face by ourselves. And that’s when God can prepare us for impact and hold us tight the whole way through.

Thank God that we don’t have to have it all together. Thank God that we don’t have to “handle it” all alone when the tough times come. Just thank God.

With much love to my BloggerFam,

Allie

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

Ephesians 6:13-18

Ka-Ching

It’s been a hot second since I’ve gotten the chance to write something. But trust me when I say that doesn’t mean God’s not teaching me lesson after lesson after lesson. In a world where you’re thrust into adult life right after graduating college, there is so much to learn. Painful lessons. They say to grow through what you go through, am I right?

I grew a little yesterday.

I had my first, and hopefully my last, fender bender. Nobody but poor Sasha Fierce (my car) got hurt. She’s getting stitched up and I am confident in a full recovery.
Oh, and my wallet got a little hurt, too. Still up in the air about its recovery time.

As most of the Facebook and Insta world knows, Thomas and I *finally!!!!* painted our ugly, lime-green house to more of a Joanna-Gaines-approved home, and that was fine because we’d saved up and were prepared.
My fender bender, however, was not in the cards.

•• Before moving forward and risking millions of calls, texts, and potential GoFundMe pages in our names, Thomas and I are nowhere near “broke.” We are certainly not rich, but God has blessed us in more ways than one, so we are also certainly not going hungry over here in Clinton. Keep in mind during this post that ya girl always has been, is, and alway will be an extreme tight wad, and that is where this stems from.
I REPEAT. WE AREN’T ACTUALLY POOR. ••

Nevertheless, I predict I’ll stress about money until the end of time. My hope is that God changes my heart once and for all. My fear is what that will look like.
Do I trust God to meet our needs?
Absolutely.
Does it still stress me out when I have to fork over money that I feel like we don’t even have?
ABSOLUTELY.

It’s not easy to watch a chunk of my paycheck sent off to pay the bills……Or to pay to fix my car. It’s not easy to feel like my hard-earned life-work amounts to little more than a few extra coins in our checking account. I pray, I try to memorize Scripture, I even pep talk myself into remembering that I’ve yet to miss a meal. Alas, my worries persist. And the devil’s plan prevails.

Fun fact: the whole time I’ve been typing down these anxious words from my heart, that Bible story about the widow who gave up her only two coins to Jesus has been circling through my mind.

A widow comes to the temple where Jesus is seated and gives up literally all she has as offering — which are only two, small, copper coins. Jesus notices. He calls attention to what she’s done. He recognizes that, though her amount be little, she gave up more than the rich who threw in large amounts that barely made a dent in the savings.
She gave up more. Because she gave up all.

What do You want me to understand here, God?

I think it’s important to understand that my money has never been my own to begin with. Isn’t that why we tithe? Because we are giving back what we recognize as God’s gift to us? I might work a bunch of long, twelve hour shifts, and I might feel like I earned every cent. But the truth is that my “riches” belong to God. Two, small, copper coins and all.

This puts things into perspective.

Life rarely works out like we plan. I definitely didn’t plan on being the center of attention for all of Dogwood to see while a policeman filed a report on me.
But I think it’s possible that God desires to use my heartache and my wallet-break for His good and His glory. I think it’s so that He can grow me out of my money miseries. I think it’s so that I can remember to put my worth in His truth rather than the money I make as a nurse……and the money I desire to have in my bank account.

If I’m being honest, since I’m so ungrateful for the money we do have, always seeking more and more rather than being content in our place, I can’t help but think there’s no way God could trust me with with more than we need. I would be as ungrateful as the rich in the Bible story. I would never make a dent when I gave, and I would never be satisfied. I think He knows I would still want more.

I’m grateful God’s given Thomas and me blessings upon blessings when it comes to our financial situation. With Thomas still in physical therapy school, life could be a lot harder. I credit that to God.

So I will also credit all of my literal credit — my money — to God. I will give back what was never mine to start with. I will lay down what He has provided for us.
I will lay down my insecurities and stress about it all, too.

We aren’t rich, but we aren’t poor. There’s so much more to do here on earth than consistently log into my Regions account and check in on how we’re doing. I’ll give Jesus back His coins and couple it with my anxiety. I don’t have to stress over “my” money, because it’s not even mine! Sasha Fierce will come off the ventilator, and we will have to write a check that pays for all the trouble. But I’ll praise God that we’re able to do so and then go home and eat some pizza rolls.

With much love to my BloggerFam and one more reminder that I’m just a tight wad and we aren’t poor,
Allie

Also– shout out to my parents for helping out yesterday while Thomas was taking his finals! I might be married, but I couldn’t make it without family!

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44

Why is God silent while good men suffer

It’s a tough one. It’s one I’ve been asked before. A lot. And recently.
And each time, the walls of my heart cry out in agony.
I could throw around some famous cliches we like to comfort ourselves with.

“He’s growing you into who He wants you to be!”
“He’s strengthening you in your trials!”
“He’s teaching you that ONLY He is dependent when everything else falls apart!”
“Your world’s not falling apart — it’s falling into place!”

I could definitely say these things to you. And it might even be true. But it’s not how I feel. Not today.

Today is Saturday.

Why is God silent while good men suffer

It’s Saturday…..the one before Easter.
On this day thousands of years ago, the family and friends of Jesus wept endlessly over His loss.
It’s a sobering day. The all-powerful, all-knowing Savior was buried in the tomb the night before, and when they woke up….He was still there. In the tomb. Dead.

I imagine Jesus’ loved ones rising early (probably exhausted from a sleepless night, wet with tears). I picture their hearts full of hope. Their heads full of questions. Praying it was all some sort of bad dream that they were finally awakening from.

We do that, too. Don’t we?
When our worlds are broken.
Our loved ones are dead.
Our jobs are taken.
Our houses are burned.
I know I have. I know I did that every night for a week after Danny died.
That was just a bad dream, wasn’t it, God?
But it isn’t. It wasn’t. The Saturday’s of our lives are rarely ever “just a bad dream.”

The reality of life is that it hurts. It’s hard. It’s the day your child was diagnosed with cancer. It’s the day your father walked out on your family. It’s the day your sister was killed in a car accident. It’s the day your house burned to the ground.
It’s the day after your friend was brutally, humiliatingly crucified, and there are no more bright days in sight.

It’s Saturday.

Why is God silent while good men suffer?
I believe the friends of Jesus had this same question as they helplessly watched Him bleed, gasp, and cry on the cross. I know that if I had been there that day on Calvary — despite the stories He’d told me, the fore-coming He’d warned of, the many, many lessons that pointed back to the Shepherd being sacrificed for His very own sheep — I know I would’ve questioned how God could be silent as He let Jesus, a great man, His son, suffer.

Much like I tend to do here in my own world.

In my reality, Jesus tells me of what’s to come. He reminds me again and again that life is not exempt from suffering. He speaks to me, and He is open about the fact that it ain’t always rainbows and butterflies.
And even though I hear His voice, His lessons, His warnings that trials are sure to come, I still spend all my time, I still waste my “Saturday,” questioning what the heck He’s doing up in heaven. While good men suffer.

But then— at last! Comes Sunday.

HE IS RISEN! We like to shout.
But do we even feel the weight of what that actually means bearing down within our souls?!
Though God was painfully silent when Jesus died on Friday, though God was intensely mute as Saturday came and went,
God outstretched His mighty arms on Sunday when Jesus spoke, “It is I.”

The Saturday’s of our lives are not fun. They can honestly be downright hell on earth. God can appear silent. Apathetic. Unloving.
There can be times we can’t help but cry out WHY ARE YOU SO SILENT WHILE GOOD MEN SUFFER?!?!?!
But then Jesus appears.

It is I.

It is Sunday. It is a glorious unfolding of every second of heartache the weekend had brought.
And we are reminded of His goodness, even though great men suffer. His love, even though He doesn’t always intervene. His perfect plan, even though it is confusing.

I know today is Saturday, friends. And it’s been a long, hard one for many.
Literally, but also theoretically.
Yet I can assure you that Sunday is a’coming — and He is RISEN. The pain of Saturday soon to be forgotten.

It is I.

With much love to my BloggerFam & HAPPY EASTER!!!
Allie

Then He focused His attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine My hands. Take your hand and stick it in My side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

John 20:27

Remembering.

If I am correct, tears were only shed twice during this last seven-on-rotation at work. Improvement.

I think of Danny every single day, but the reality of what he experienced is amplified so greatly when I’m at work, surrounded by patients like him. Often I just need a good cry.
The other half of my heart is still mourning the death of my patient from two months ago. So tears are in order regularly these days.

And I think this is okay.

I cry for multiple reasons:
I cry because I miss them.
I cry because I can almost feel the pain they went through during each of their last two years of life.
I cry because I witness the struggle over and over again as I make the hospital my home for seven nights, and so each of their memories are waiting wherever I turn my head.
I cry because of all they are missing out on and will miss out on.

But mostly, I cry because I wasn’t a better friend.

In both cases — my patient and Danny’s — I was fooled. Maybe it was because I cared so deeply and personally, but I trusted with all of my heart for a cure. Something within me just knew that they would beat the odds. Death was never a factor in my head. I know that sounds silly — I literally work with oncology patients who are facing death and uncertainty twenty-four/seven. But these two just didn’t fit that mold in my head.
They would survive. They had to survive.

And then, they just didn’t. And I wasn’t ready for that.

I wasn’t ready for the news of their relapses. A failed transplant had never crossed my mind as part of their stories. In Danny’s case specifically, since that was when I had just begun work on BMT. I didn’t realize the tragedy that his relapse actually was. I hadn’t understood then, like I do now, that a failed transplant meant literally every odd stood tall against him.

And since I hadn’t understood these things, I was not a better friend to him in his final days.

Of course I still called and texted him. Of course we still talked almost every day, even though MD Anderson had been his living quarters for half a year, so many miles away from small town Harrisville. But I know in my heart that if I had understood This is probably it for him, I would have tried harder. I would have made our conversations more meaningful. I would have done everything in my power to make the drive out there to visit with him. I would have asked more questions. I would have made sure he knew how much he was loved.

But he died, and I didn’t do any of those things. And I cry because I miss him and am filled with regret.

My tears are not a bad thing. There are places in the depths of my heart that believe God made me an oncology nurse — snack dab in the middle of my cancer friend’s death — so that I would be reminded. The reminder of his death, the reminder that while in his unconscious state I felt immense guilt for all the times I could have been a better friend, the reminder that this same tragedy — or different tragedies — could strike my husband, my family, or any of my other friends……I need these reminders. Because reminders motivate action. Change.

I need to remember every day, as I stare into the eyes of my patients that are fighting for their lives, that death is certain. But the timing of our deaths is not. It could be today, or it could be in fifty years. So I need to be a friend always.

Do I master this perfectly, consistently? Not even close. Thomas could tell you that I get upset when the dishes aren’t cleaned or when the floor is tracked with dirt from Presley’s paws while I’m busy getting dressed for work. My coworkers can tell you that I get frustrated fairly easily, especially during nights when things don’t go as I had written on my little list of tasks to get done. My friends can tell you that I still go incognito every now and then.

But time and time again, I am reminded.
We will not live forever on this earth. With these friends.
I’ll probably spend my lifetime learning the lesson of Remembering. I hear Danny’s laugh when I see the struggle of his similar story within my patients. And then I cry, I regret, and I ask God for help to be better. I ask God to change me, my heart, my worldly mindset that gives into Satan’s lie of thinking we have infinity here on earth.

We don’t have forever. Danny, Bone Marrow Transplant, my patient from two months ago, they are all enough proof of this. We aren’t even reassured of a tomorrow.

So I need to remember to be that friend today. To call and get together, catching up with old friends, even though I am exhausted and anxious for days of pure rest. Host a dinner party even though I am crazy OCD and it stresses me out having people over. Hug my dog and kiss my mom on the cheek. Make sure the people in my life understand how much I love them.

Before another opportunity is taken away.

With much love to my BloggerFam,
Allie

A good, good Shepherd

His hands and feet were dirty. Pieces of His clothing were torn. You could hear His belly growling violently, even over the endless chatter from the crowd surrounding Him. After a full day’s work, His sleepy eyes looked towards His friends. Come away by yourselves, He suggested. We will go to a lonely place and get rest.

They found a boat and set out for a different place, far away from all the crowds. They needed rest. They needed food. They needed to re-charge. They were thankful for some down-time alone.

When they reached their destination, my mind imagines heartbreak. Their eyes fell upon more people, more crowds, that had followed them to their place of refuge from the noise. I’m sure there were groans from some of His friends. I would have groaned. But not Jesus.

Jesus felt sorry for them – the people in the crowd. They were like sheep without a shepherd.
And Jesus, with His empty belly, dirty hands, and worn-down body, “began to teach them many things.”


‭‭Mark‬ ‭6:31-34‬ ‭paints the perfect picture of who Jesus is. Tired, hungry, eager for some time alone, but He still bends down to listen to His children. He still gives them all His time and energy, no matter how exhausted and ready for rest. How comforting to trust that the God of the universe, the all-knowing, all-powerful, Alpha and Omega. . . . . .He calls us His own, and He never stops teaching, loving, or seeking us out.

The Shepherd holds tight to His sheep. Period.

During some of the hardest, most challenging times we endure here on earth, we can put our faith in the truth that Jesus doesn’t leave us there in the valley alone. Jesus stretches out both arms and welcomes us, teaches us, loves us — regardless.

Regardless of your unbeatable secret sin. Your filth. Your agonizing cries towards the heavens. Your sorrows and frustration. Your insecurities. Your feelings of unworthiness.

Though others might would groan when the crowds approached, some might would run and hide when people called their names, Jesus effortlessly, graciously viewed them — us — as precious sheep. . . . .and Him, our precious Shepherd. Regardless.

Let that one sink in. And then claim that truth.

With much love to my BloggerFam,
Allie

A message from a huge Grey’s Anatomy fan

Another seven nights down, another seven days off to recuperate [in front of the television], and boy am I disappointed in what I just watched on tv.

Grey’s Anatomy, you’re losing one of your biggest fans.

I’m not talking about the race stuff, the police brutality stuff, the feminist stuff, or even the fact that it looks like they’re about to kill off my favorite character, Dr. Bailey.(!!!)

No. I’m disappointed in the way the script writers legitimately drug God’s name in the ground for a whole two minutes as April Kepner – the “Jesus” girl on the show – took a story from the Bible (Job) and completely missed the point.

In the course of one day, Job received four messages, each with separate news that his livestock, servants, and 10 children had all died. He continued to be a faithful servant. He still prays to God. He persevered. Job’s faith was tested and he passed the test. And for his faith, God rewarded Job with twice what he had before.

When I first heard April speak these words, I thought to myself, How cool! Grey’s is about to teach millions of viewers about being faithful to God despite – and in the midst – of tragedy!

But then April continued. And my entire heart shattered into tiny, little pieces.

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” That’s what Jesus said on the cross before he died. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Job asked the question, too. But he kept the faith.


And what did he get for it? Replacement children.
PTSD.
Was it worth it to have been a faithful servant? Or would it have been better to just curse God’s name from the beginning?
Where was God throughout all of Job’s suffering and pain?
He was winning a bet with Satan.
Makes you wonder where He is through all of the unfairness and inequity and cruelty in the world.
Where is He now? 

I mean, just “copying” and “pasting” these sentences onto my computer screen is giving me anxiety. The way Grey’s Anatomy depicts our perfect, all-powerful, holy, heavenly, loving, merciful Lord and Savior as some kind of arrogant monster who is only in it to win a bet. . . . .

I can’t even.

An even bigger piece of my heart aches because I know this is the view of my God that so many others have. But it is not the truth. It’s nothing more than a lie from Satan himself.

It’s true – Satan bet God that, if enough terrible things happened to Job [one of God’s most faithful servants], he would eventually curse God’s name and blame Him for all the bad in his life.
And it’s true – God said, You’re on, and allowed satan to scheme against one of His most beloved.
And it’s true – Job, somewhat, eventually got there. He questioned God’s motives for his life. But he continuously praised God regardless. If April Kepner had finished reading, she’d have seen that, yes, Job was deeply frustrated with his current situation and could not make sense of his trials, but in chapter 13 he literally states, Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.

TALK ABOUT FAITH IN THE MIDST OF TRAGEDY!

Satan assumed that Job’s motive to serving God involved seeking blessings and rewards for his faith. He was convinced that if God removed the blessings and protection, Job would curse His name. But nevertheless, Job loved God out of his sincere devotion – even when he felt abandoned. Not because of all the good God had previously given him.

And that’s half the point of the story, April.

God’s children shouldn’t only love and obey Him when things are going good. True love and devotion to the Lord is tested and strengthened when He gives Satan the okay and allows some pretty tragic circumstances to hit us. Job actually posed this thought to his wife: Should we only accept good things from God, and not trouble? (Job 2:10)

And I think the other half of the point is even cooler. We can take away from the whole Spiritual Sha-bang in the clouds that, yes God and Satan had basically made a bet on Job’s life.
But that’s the comforting part.

God is not the one who causes all the adversary we experience. It’s Satan. Even more so, our trials and tragedies never come as a shock to God. He doesn’t turn His back and give Satan the chance to sneak up on Him. Or get by Him.

God literally set boundaries that Satan could not cross when it came to the scheming Satan wanted to do.

(Job 1:12- The Lord said to Satan, “Alright then. Everything Job has is in your power, but you must not touch Job himself.”)
(Job 2:6- Job is in your power, but you may not take his life.)

He’s not a Let Me Win This Bet On My Child’s Life kind of God. Instead, He’s the one who calls all the shots. He’s the one who gives Satan the okay, and He’s the one who sees it coming before Satan even presents the plan. He’s the one who gives us strength, peace, and comfort throughout.
And even though I’ve read these words in the Bible, what actually convinced me of God’s goodness was when God gave Satan the okay and let me experience it all firsthand.

He is a good, good, gracious God. During the hills and the valleys. He was right there throughout Job’s suffering and pain and throughout our own. He is right here through all of the unfairness, inequity, and cruelty in the world. And He is not the Puppeteer causing all the heartache.

Don’t let Satan’s plans of using Shonda Rhymes and the Grey’s Anatomy characters to try and tell you otherwise.

With much love to my BloggerFam,
Allie

Hurting Through the Holidays

“I had a friend who went through a bone marrow transplant”

That’s how I start it off every. single. time. one of my patients ask why I chose to be a nurse on the BMT floor. The holidays can be hard when I think of Danny and notice he isn’t here….especially when his presence was always so expected, so well known. I spent so many days after his death turning my nose towards the sky, Why did You let Danny have leukemia, God? Why did You let him die?

Since I became a nurse and started working with patients just like Danny, I’ve found myself asking the “why” questions again. Why this family, God? What are You doing with this?

I know I’m not alone in asking this.

Some days are hard, no matter who you are or where you are in life. Some days we all cry to the heavens “Why me? Why my family? What are You doing with this?”

What are we supposed to do during these days? What are we supposed to do when life gets so hard and so confusing? When you can’t see, can’t believe, that God has a purpose, or that God is listening, or that God cares? What are we supposed to do when everything is spinning out of our control….and neither God nor His rescue mission is on the horizon?

Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!”

Then the angel went away.

Luke 1:38

Before Jesus could be born, before Jesus could walk among us, before Jesus could die for us and save our souls, there had to be a willing servant. And that servant was Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus.

The virgin who never knew a man, the girl who had done nothing of her own doing to conceive a child out of wedlock, the [i can imagine] frightened, little Mary who had to go before her friends and family and attempt to explain that she had not sinned, but rather was carrying out the work of the Lord — she had to be willing to accept what was happening to her, regardless how confusing, how difficult, how scary the Lord’s work might have been.

And praise God for her willingness despite it all!

In my heart, I know this is the answer to my, “Why?”

The Lord’s work does not have to make sense to us. It doesn’t have to be fair, or easy, and it certainly doesn’t have to keep us from all harm. We don’t even have to see it come full circle later in life. Not if He can accomplish what He needs to accomplish through it.

It’s been a year and a half, and to this day I still don’t know why Danny died from cancer. It doesn’t make sense, it wasn’t fair or easy, and several people were harmed in the process. But I can be certain that God used it for His glory in some way.

The truth, just like for Mary, is that God promises to be with us through the challenge. Emmanuel is His name.

In every tragedy, every confusing, heartbreaking, earth-shattering situation that we endlessly cry to God, “Why, why, why, why!?”

God is there – even when we don’t understand or feel it. Like Mary, we have to accept the pain, accept the scary and confusing, and trust that Emmanuel is with us after all. Emmanuel is working somehow.

I am a servant of the Lord, my heart whispers through the pain. Let this happen to me as You say!

With much love to my BloggerFam & extra hugs for everyone hurting through the holidays,

Allie

The Beginning of the Tunnel

I want to quit, she whispered through the tears. You don’t understand how unhappy I am.

She lifted her gaze up to the heavens and questioned if He was really listening to her. A piece in her heart struggled. . . . .Maybe He isn’t.

Have you ever been stuck in a place you desperately wanted to escape?
There is no “light at the end of the tunnel.” At least not any light in sight.
There is no happily ever after.
No reassurance, no hope, no divine intervention from God that either
A) promises you are exactly where He wants you to be
or
B) whisks you away from the situational unhappiness you’re experiencing

Has this ever been you? Have you ever wanted to just quit? Have you ever been so confused and heartbroken that you wondered whether or not God could see you, hear you, let alone rescue you?

Recently, I ran into this girl. The girl who endlessly searched the clouds for heaven, in total disbelief that God had His hands on her life. The girl who had no hope or answers.

Why are You doing this? she begged Him again and again.
Silence.
Can’t You see that I don’t want to be here?
Silence.

This girl would ask, “What should I do?”
But I didn’t have any answers for her, either.
This girl would doubt God’s goodness, God’s plans, and sometimes, even God’s existence.

Has this girl ever been you?

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.

Hebrews 10:36

Right around the time that I ran into this girl, I simultaneously ran straight into this verse.
In the middle of my every day morning devotion, I discovered, maybe?, an answer for her restless heart.

Patient endurance is what you need now, I recited to her.
Endurance, I would tell her, not quitting.
Patience, I’d remind her, not right now.

And even though the Lord spoke His Word through her soul and super-glued back together her broken heart, there were some days that were still hard. There were some days where she still questioned. There were some days she still didn’t understand God’s goodness or His plans.

I think it’s natural for us to wonder what God is up to when we’re stuck at the beginning of the tunnel. We’re human. He knows that.
I think it’s common for us to be “miserable” in the places we sometimes find ourselves. Especially the places that don’t go as planned, or the places that are smack-dab in the crossfire of the devil’s schemes to break our hearts.
I think it’s easy, during these times, to question God’s plans for our lives. It’s easy to throw our hands to the sky and shout, I want to quit! I hate this! Can’t You even see me, God?!

It’s easy, but it’s probably not the best route we should take. If I’ve learned anything during my short twenty-two years of life, I’ve learned that, sometimes, when you are exactly where God wants you to be, that is when you can be the most “miserable.”
It’s during these trying times that God tests us, shapes us, molds us, teaches us, grows us, and gives us so many new pieces to our testimonies.

Can’t You see that I’m hurting, God?!
Rest assured, He can. He knows. And He is preparing you for greater.
He is pushing you towards His will, designing a God-sized story you can tell, and pulling you closer to the light at the end of the tunnel. . . . .where He is already standing.

If you’re in a place you want to quit,
enduring a heartache you don’t understand,
questioning the plans God created for your life,
and wondering if He hears your endless cries for rescue:

 

Patient endurance is what I need right now, she whispers softly to herself. So that I can continue to do God’s will.
Then I will receive all that He has promised.

With much love to my BloggerFam,
Allie

Many of you may remember my girl Caroleah Brister from my back in prime during my Co-Lin days — she is getting married this weekend!!!!!
I LOVE YOU, CAROLEAH! I can’t thank God enough for your friendship, and I can’t wait for the excitement to come!!!!!IMG_5089