Sunday, November 30, 2008

How Could I Ask for More?

Have you experienced those moments in life where you look around and think to yourself, "I am so incredibly and richly blessed by God. How is it that I ever complain about anything? Ultimately I am a lowly sinner who deserves only death and yet, on top of the already unfathomable gift of Jesus Christ, look at all that God has chosen to provide for me!" Unfortunately, this moment of clarity which came to me on Thanksgiving day, always seems to be fleeting. As soon as the inevitable trials and struggles appear, someone beautiful walks by, another wonderful person gets married and leaves my shrinking circle of single friends, or I fail an exam, I revert back to my attitude of self-pity and self-entitlement. As my mother used to say (much to the embarrassment of my sisters and I:o), I use the "f word." In our house, that referred to the word fair. I feel I deserve better than I have, and rather than embracing the all-sufficiency of Christ, I whine and snivel about everything I wish I had. Ridiculous! Yet even today, 3 days after Thanksgiving, I found myself complaining to my aunt and uncle about how difficult finals/studying were going to be this week. Then I laughed out loud, took some time to thank the Lord for the conviction of the Holy Spirit and His unlimited forgiveness toward me, typed out this blog, and am headed to study for finals with a (at least somewhat more) joyful attitude and a heart prepared for a few more days of hard work.

Speaking of rich blessings, check out this incredible gift my family gave me at Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if you can read the bag, but on the front it says "Fun with Finals!" On the other side of the bag they put a verse, Isaiah 40:30-31, which says, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." And of course, at the bottom of the back it says, "Save the world - one blood pressure at a time!" I felt so special as a result of their thoughtfulness, and definitely more prepared for finals!:)

After going out for lunch on Saturday we had a quick photo shoot in an attempt to capture our yearly Christmas picture.

What a great looking group of kids!

I voted for this one...but I think I was outnumbered.:o)

While the committee deliberated...

Kate and I had fun with the camera.:)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Calm Before the Storm

I realized today that although I've created several posts in my head over the last couple of days, I haven't actually managed to transfer them through my fingers and into my computer. So now that I have a couple of minutes before class starts, I decided to do just that.

This weekend was a time for one last gulp of air before I head into Thanksgiving and then finals. I headed up to my sister and brother-in-law's house on the pretense of helping them prepare for the family that will be coming in for Thanksgiving. Not sure if I accomplished more in the way of distracting or helping, but I got some fun pictures along the way.

Before I could truly enjoy the weekend I turned in my 61, yes that's right, 61 page case study for the nursing clinical.

For a true appreciation of the length you need a side view.:o)

With my project out of the way I was free to help make pizzas.

It turned out to be one of our best efforts yet!

And we finally made our pumpkin muffins. Super easy and SO yummy!

Becky and I worked on some crafting to make the place cards for the tables. I'll be sure to include a picture of the finished product in one of my future posts.

Even Justin got in on the act when Becky and I declared we could take no more circles.:o)

With a lit pumpkin spice candle, peppermint hot chocolate, relaxing music in the background, and two of my favorite people what more could I ask for?

And then today the break was over, I was up before 5 am, and it was back to reality and the fun of playing nurse. One more day of clinical for the quarter!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

10 Things I'd Rather Be Doing...

Than writing a paper on the medical practices of extant cultures.

1. Blogging (Oh wait...already doing that.:o)
2. Curling up on my bed with hot chocolate and a good book.
3. Having a tooth ripped out without Novocaine.
4. Trying out new hairstyles.
5. Hanging out with my sisters.
6. Drinking a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha.
7. Visiting old friends.
8. Cleaning my toilet (I think that that is actually overdue...maybe I should go do that...nothing worse than a dirty toilet you know...;o).
9. Watching 5 blissful, uninterrupted hours of A&E Pride and Prejudice.
10. Singing karaoke with my former roommates in the pink apartment.:o)

I wanted to include some pictures and just remembered that I found these the other day. They're actually from when I went home in September. Thought they might make you chuckle...:o)

My family and I were in old town Sacramento while they were having Gold Rush days.

My dad and I had a lot of fun trying on some of the hats.

People looked at us a little weird.:o)

But we had a ton of fun!

If I remember correctly, this is my reaction to my sister's attempts at teaching me how to flip on a trampoline. Never quite got the hang of it...:o)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Can You Imagine?

WARNING: LOTS OF PICTURES!!! (It's my first experience with fire season in L.A. What can I say?:o) Can you imagine being dedicated enough to a sport that you would play your playoff game in the midst of Los Angeles fire season. First thing Saturday morning (as I was getting off my 12 hour night shift), I got a call from my aunt asking if my sister's game that I was planning on going to was still going to happen. I had only seen a few snatches on the news during work about the Sylmar fire, so initially I was a little confused by the question. Then I turned on the radio in my car, and heard the news that they had closed the 5, 14, 118, and 210 freeways, effectively blocking off most exits from Santa Clarita. Of course the determined Master's team was unfazed, and simply left early to take an extremely complicated roundabout way of getting to Fullerton. I left Westwood around 10 am, and proceeded to beat them there. As I came around this curve and approached Fullerton, I suddenly realized that the large pillar of smoke ahead of me was completely unrelated to the fires up north. I called Kate to ask if she had heard about this fire, and she said no but that they were still going to play the game. So, after a bit of waiting (both for myself and the other team), the Master's girls arrived. They played a TERRIFIC game, and after winning 1-0 are headed to Florida in a few weeks to play in another playoff game. Go Master's!!! Kate started in the game, and I was so incredibly proud of her. She's worked so hard this season, and I felt so blessed to be able to go to the last game (on the west coast anyway). Having said that, who seriously thought it was a good idea to continue this game? Think I'm exaggerating? Let me show you...

So here is the beginning of the game. You could smell some smoke and it was windy, but otherwise a really nice day.

This is how the fire to the east of the field looked at the start of the game.

This was the fire to the southwest of the field at the start of the game.

Then they started getting bigger.

On both sides.

And bigger. (Note the unfazed players calmly continuing the game. Kate is the blue player in the very center of the picture!)

And bigger.

Before we knew it the smoke had increased and was now overhead.

Pretty much covering the sky.

Which of course caused the sun to turn red and all but disappear.

How did the field look at this point? Glad you asked.:o)

There was this one patch of blue sky left, but other than that it was almost hard to see the players.

The players seemed to (understandably) slow a bit, but they got blurry in my pictures as my camera seemed to think flash at 1 pm was a little silly.

At this point my flash came on which helped the pictures, but as you can see so did the lights on the field!

If you're wondering how I looked... Sorry you asked, aren't you? So maybe being a firefighter isn't in my future.:o)

After all of the excitement of the game, Kate and I started driving home. We called my sister and brother-in-law to ask about road status, and it turned out it was all closed off. There was one side road that was semi-open, but not advisable. The San Fernando Valley was apparently experiencing rolling blackouts, so signals were down and naturally no self respecting southern California drivers were giving way which led to multiple accidents. So, what did we do? Hung out in Studio City of course! We had so much fun shopping in some cute stores, introducing Kate to California Pizza Kitchen, getting Baskin Robbins with my birthday coupons, and even watching the movie Fireproof. (Which, btw, we really liked.) We finally made it home to my aunt and uncle's around 10 pm, at which point my body reminded me that I had only taken a brief 2 hour nap since 8 am Friday morning. Sleep was looking pretty good, so I hopped in the shower to wash off some of the ash and smokey smell, took some time to thank the Lord for keeping us safe, and crawled into bed. It was all-around a wonderful day, and if Kate and I don't die of lung cancer in the next few years I look forward to enjoying fond memories of our fire day together!

I'm so thankful for the God-given blessing of sisters.:o)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunrises and Much Needed Reminders

I should be studying for the midterm I'll be taking in a few hours, but I had something on my mind so I thought I'd share. Yesterday I had a vacation day from school, so of course I used that free time to work.:o) I am so thankful that the Lord provided this job!!! I am continually amazed at the blessing that my job at UCLA is, and the amount I'm learning while there. I really enjoyed my shift yesterday. It was by far the toughest patient load I've had yet, but SO rewarding. My patients were awesome, and they're families were so great. I did a million things I'd never done before (sometimes making it up as I went along...:o) and ran around like a crazy person. At one point I went to cover for another CNA who was monitoring a confused patient, so that she could take her lunch. He was pretty quiet when I got there, so I pulled out my note cards to study for the nursing midterm I have today. The patient's wife saw me studying and immediately asked, "Can I quiz you?" So for the next hour, she taught me all about heart dysrhythmias and kept me laughing at her fun pronounciations and declarations that nursing school was "ridiculous." At the end of the shift (which of course went overtime), she told me I was wonderful and gave me a big hug. And they pay me to work there!:o)

Anyway, after I got off work I ran into Coffee Bean to get one of the free holiday drinks they were giving away and headed to the next hospital to pick out my patient for clinical today. Of course they were low on patients, so I hung out waiting for a few hours and then frantically attempted to piece together a newly admitted patient's chart. (Everything you've ever heard about doctor's handwriting is true!) By the time I got home it was 10-something, and I still needed to do the entire write up, I hadn't had dinner, and I needed to be up in about five hours. Admittedly, when I ran into my uncle in the living room after getting home, my mind was not exactly engaged in thinking about the grace of God and the incredible opportunities that my day had held. Instead I proceeded to detail for him how long my 12 hour shift was and how difficult it had been to pick out a patient for clinical. In the course of the conversation about work, he casually mentioned that they had had some excitement at the school where he works because one of their students had come to the office complaining of chest pain. He said she's in 10th grade, and near the top of the list for a heart transplant. Now I know my uncle was just adding to a conversation about medical things, but as soon as he said that I couldn't help but just stop talking. I stopped whining, stopped having a pity party for Emily, and just thanked God for my heart. I can't imagine simultaneously worrying about high school geometry and whether or not my heart will continue working long enough to find a donor!

I know this has gotten lengthy, but it was such an amazing reminder that I wanted to share it with you all. It turns out, working a 12 hour shift and going to clinical and taking a midterm the next day doesn't equal the end of the world. God is sovereign. He will provide for me both in the easy and tough days, and I can trust Him for that. You could try to count up just the blessings I remembered and included up above, but it would take you a while. And you know something? On top of all of the blessings the Lord has already lavished upon me, the sunrise this morning was incredible. How could you possibly feel tired or stressed with this on the horizon?:o)

Lamentations 3:21-26

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sore Wrists and Caramel Apples

Today has been a day of studying and homework, so I am taking a much needed break to simultaneously blog and procrastinate. Isn't multi-tasking wonderful?:o) Yesterday I had the incredible privilege of spending time with some of my favorite people in the world. The Brown and Hall children got together for a "Sibling Day" in Santa Clarita. We went to Sam's Club, made taco bowls and caramel apples, and then went bowling. So much fun!!! (My athletically challenged body is admittedly a little sore. After bowling. It's ok. You can laugh.) I'm so thankful that Becky married into such an awesome family of people who love the Lord and enjoy spending time with us.:o) I eagerly anticipate many more sibling days in the years to come, but for now (since I have a huge midterm on Wednesday) it's back to the world of heart dysrhythmias. (Or maybe I'll go make some hot chocolate.:o)

Bowl, Becky, bowl!

Steph and I perfected the gutter ball...


I bundled up and spent some time studying outside this afternoon. The sky was gorgeous!

Studying in style.:o)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Your One Beauty"

Last night Kate came over after her soccer game, and we watched the movie Little Women together. Becky and Justin got it for me for my birthday, and it had been quite a while since we had watched it. We got a good laugh over how several of the characters and situations correspond to our own lives, as we also grew up with four girls. (Of course we always point out that although Kate has a sweet disposition like Beth, she is neither fragile nor planning on dying anytime soon!:o) After the movie was over we were sitting in my room, and I mentioned to Katie that she's been planning to trim my hair for a while but hasn't had an opportunity to do so. And then it happened. This "crazy" haircut idea I've had for quite a while popped into my mind and I went with it! Kate was totally behind the idea, and I think possibly even more excited than I was. She graciously agreed to cut my hair, and we went into my bathroom to do it. A lot of laughs and a few shrieks (from both of us...) later, I emerged with a new hairstyle and a great deal of excitement. She did a terrific job if I do say so myself, and I'm so excited to have finally gotten up the courage to do it. I think it will be a fun and easy hairstyle to have during nursing school. After we had finished, I suddenly realized that the second daughter in Little Women actually cuts her hair really short at one point in the movie. Life imitating art perhaps?:o) I also remembered that after she cut it the youngest sister says, "Jo! How could you? Your one beauty!" So, now I'm hoping I didn't just cut off my one beauty...

Before (with my amazing hair stylist!)

And after.

Attempting to pull it up...

I promised my mom a pic of the back.:o)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Love at First Sip

It has rained here in LA for a few days and the leaves are starting to fall from the trees, but to me the most significant indicator that fall is in full swing is Starbuck’s reintroduction of the Peppermint Mocha. For my birthday my aunt and uncle generously gave me a Starbucks card, or as my mother cleverly refers to it, chose to support my “habit.” (I of course like to remind her that there are far worse “habits” I could have.:o) As soon as I walked into the store and saw it on the menu, I felt the holiday spirit welling up in me. It signaled the coming of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and therefore the end of the quarter. The end of the quarter?!? I have some serious homework and studying to do! Late nights, early mornings, hours in front of my computer… Looks like Starbucks has brought back the Peppermint Mocha just in time.:o)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Miracle of Life

This week I had the incredible and humbling privilege of watching a baby enter the world, take her first breath, and lay contentedly in her mother's arms for the first time. I had wanted to blog about it earlier, but had a pretty full week of fun opportunities. So, to capture some of the enthusiasm I had immediately following the surgery, I have decided to include an excerpt from an e-mail I sent someone about it. I don't think they read my blog, and if they do I'm sure they'll understand...:o)

"This morning for my clinical I was observing in the OR [operating room], and I was really hoping to see a C-section. I had observed one before I started nursing school, and had decided then that it was my favorite kind of surgery since you end up with a baby at the end.:o) Anyway...when I went to check in at the front desk for surgery, the guy (without me saying anything) pointed out a C-section at 7:30 am, and suggested I go to it! To make a long, long, long story short, my day ended up being pretty rough and a lot of other things happened, but I couldn't stop smiling all day over the miracle I witnessed this morning. I got to watch a baby being born, and got to spend the first several seconds and minutes of her life praying for her and her family. I got to watch her take her first breath, and see the look on her parents' faces the first time they saw her. It was kind of interesting to see the nurses (who have seen this quite a few times before), as they scored how healthy she was and counted her fingers and toes as if babies are born every day.;o) I, on the other hand, couldn't stop being in awe of our Creator and marveling over the miracle of human life. I think that perhaps the entire abortion argument could be put to rest if those who call themselves pro-choice could have stood where I was standing this morning."

It truly was an awesome opportunity, and I'm so thankful that the Lord allowed me to have a front row seat! Along the same lines, twenty-one years ago today the Lord sovereignly chose to give me life, and I'm certainly glad He did!!! This weekend was terrific. I got to go to work on Friday, and had a rather frantic but great day. On Saturday I was able to spend several hours hanging out with one of my most favorite people in the whole universe, and there are few things that can top that. Becky and I had a wonderful day of hanging out, making fall sugar cookies (which turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself), and even managed to squeeze in a movie and some errands. It was SO nice to be able to relax and be encouraged by her sweet spirit and wonderful older, wiser sisterly attitude. Today Becky, Justin, and Kate came over after church to celebrate with my aunt, uncle, and I. We had some good food and fellowship, and I was so thankful for all of them. My gifts were wonderful, but the thoughts behind all of the presents, calls, and e-mails were even more precious. I'm so thankful for the last 21 years of life, and I pray that God would enable me glorify and honor Him with every year I have left!

I was laughing with my uncle about how young I look for a 21-year-old, and decided to look back over some old pictures. I found this one from my 18th birthday, and was excited by the realization that I definitely look at least a little older... (Not to mention I had a good laugh over this picture.:o)

The wonderful siblings who came to help me celebrate.

Becky was sweet enough to make me cupcakes with the "good icing." 21 years old. Pretty cool...:o)