when things are not easy, they look like today

OH my goodness. It has been a rough first several days back in school. Let’s start this post with a deep breath in… aaand out. Also let’s get a nice picture up here for good measure.

[Side note: that’s not my picture; I found it on flickr. Other side note: WHY doesn’t everyone love cats? People who hate cats are just people who haven’t had enough experience with cats. CATS ARE SO COOL. Think about how much cooler a TIGER is than a WOLF.]

Like I said, it’s been a rough week. Agh. Every time I think I’ve got one thing somewhat under control, something else pops up that is so not under control. And then once I get that thing under some control, something else totally unrelated demands my time, focus, mental energy. And each thing that comes up seems to call my name very last-minute-like, shouting, “AH!!! Don’t forget about me!!!! I’m about to fall apart!!! You need to attend to this very big problem now!!!”

Now of course, each thing is probably not accurately classified as a “very big problem,” but when many important things are dive-bombing you at once, they feel like very big problems. “TUITION IS CHANGING!!! DID YOU FIGURE THIS OUT WITH YOUR SCHOLARSHIP PEOPLE?!?!” “AH!! TURNS OUT YOU HAVE A JOB INTERVIEW!!! ARE YOU READY?!?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE?!?!?!” “YOUR PRECEPTOR IS BUSY!!! WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO START CLINICAL, WEEK 5?!?!?!” “OH MY GOODNESS, YOU ARE HAVING 35 PEOPLE TO YOUR HOUSE THIS WEEKEND, ARE YOU READY?!?!?!” “YOUR FIRST EXAM IS NEXT WEEK!!! ARE YOU STUDYING?!?!?!” “YOU ARE PLANNING A RETREAT!!! DID YOU REMEMBER TO EMAIL THOSE PEOPLE?!?!” “SMALL GROUP STARTS NEXT WEEK!!! DID YOU FIGURE OUT ALL THE DETAILS?!?!” “YOU ARE LEAVING THE COUNTRY IN 9 DAYS!!! WHERE ARE YOU SENDING THE DOG?!?!?!” “SPEAKING OF THE DOG, HE HAS MAJOR ISSUES!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT THAT?!?!?!” “YOU GOT CALLED OFF AGAIN!!! HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR THINGS THIS YEAR?!?!” “YOUR HOUSE IS FALLING APART!!! YOU NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO FIX IT!!!”

Lord. Have. Mercy. I can’t shut my mind up. Shut up, mind! Relax, self!!! WHY are you acting like a crazy person?!?! Yikes. I am trying to breathe and relax like a normal sane calm person, but my mind is just not having it this week. I found this today:

Thou hast produced and sustained me, saved and kept me. Thou art in every situation able to meet my needs and miseries. Keep me walking steadfastly toward the country of everlasting delights, that paradise-land which is my true inheritance. 

Then my dad texted me and my mom (on her way to pick him up from the airport) called me. As I was in the middle of typing this post, just to see how I was doing. If that’s not the Holy Spirit doing his part to care for me, I don’t know what is. How do people live without Jesus? Seriously, how do people make it through this world without leaning on Christ?

Prayers. Deep breaths. Prayers. Deep breaths. Rinse and repeat. There’s the strategy. Oh, and love from the people God has given me, like mom and dad. Because my true inheritance is a country of everlasting delights, a paradise-land. Thank you, Lord.

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ready, get set

My first year of NP school is over, and year #2 is not being shy about showing up on time. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the rest of my program. I’ve had a little over one incredible week to relax, spend time with friends (and family), work on the house, make dinners again, run errands, YOU NAME IT.

Today I realized that until now, there has been no span of my life when I have been in school for this long with this little time off.

I’ve been swimming lately to add some variety to my work out routines. I am not really a swimmer. My mom swam as a kid, including all through high school competitively and even as an adult when I was in high school. She can do flip turns. I had some swimming lessons as a kid, took swimming to fulfill a P.E. credit in college, and that’s it. I know how to swim, but I’m pretty much a beginner.

The first time I got in the pool a few weeks ago, I felt like I was on the verge of drowning nearly the entire time. Swimming is HARD WORK and it takes a while to get your body into the kind of shape that allows you to swim more than one length without practically keeling over while your heart feels like it might actually jump out of your chest at any moment. I swim a length, stand at the end of the lane for about thirty seconds while I gasp for air, giving my heart some time to come down from what feels like about 300bpm, and go again.

The hardest thing about swimming when you’re not in shape is the breathing. You get a chance to breathe about once in every three strokes, and you get maybe a second to do it. Your heart and lungs are using up oxygen like nobody’s business, but all the supply you get is from that bit of air you can take in during the one second or less you get every few strokes. When you’re a beginner, like me, and you’ve already done a few laps, it never feels like quite enough. At the beginning of the workout, I think to myself, “ok, slow easy breaths.” But by the end, I am literally gasping in as great a breath I can possibly muster every time I get the chance.

I told Jeremy last night that the one week that always comes between terms is beginning to feel a little like those breaths. Each term is hard work. I feel like I am using everything I have to make it through to the other side successfully, having learned and developed well. By the couple weeks leading up to finals, I have usually almost if not completely abandoned all efforts to clean my house, prepare my own meals, and generally keep our home life organized. The break arrives, I rejoice, begin to relax and start to slowly catch up on home life responsibilities and other things I’ve been meaning to do, and then it ends. Just like that. And I’m in the thick of the following term before I know it.

Thankfully, my program is only two years, and while it’s uncommon to complete it at this pace, I believe it’s possible to finish both a sane person and an effective nurse practitioner. But the general pace is not sustainable long-term, and I feel the weight of that a little more at the end of each break.

Its been a truly lovely break. My mom came to visit for a handful of days and we totally relaxed. Did all the fun Chicago stuff. Jeremy and I completely cleaned and rearranged our closets AND all our junk drawers. I didn’t get called into work either days I was scheduled, so I had even more time to rest. I had many a leisurely cup of coffee, and spent many mornings reading. I am desperately thankful for this time. But also soberly preparing my heart to jump back in action.

The further we go, the closer we are. My life will soon change from full-time student/part-time nurse, to full-time nurse practitioner, and that is no joke. I’m excited, nervous, committed, and more prayerful with each step forward.

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thess 5:24)