Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Thankful Thursday

Today's list ... in no particular order:

1)  I'm SO VERY THANKFUL that I just finished working my last night shift.  Day shift (a.k.a. normal life schedule) starts next week!

2)  I'm thankful that Marshall will get an ENTIRE week off of school to rest and play!

3)  I'm thankful that I have a free week to adjust to a daytime schedule before I start working day shift.

4)  I'm thankful for 5 happy months of marital bliss!

5)  I'm thankful for Marshall's unconditional love!

6)  I'm thankful for God's example of how to love others.

7)  I'm thankful for faithful friends who still love & accept me even when I'm out of contact for a while.

8)  I'm thankful for my parents who set Godly examples for me to follow.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Thankful Thursday Returns

Tis the season, again, when we all seem to focus in on our countless blessings.  To be perfectly honest, I feel a little guilty for not posting "Thankful Thursdays" throughout the year.  After all, God has (& continues to) blessed me beyond my wildest dreams!  Some days make it easier to focus on the blessings than others, but I shouldn't let the day's circumstances stand in the way of gratitude.

I'll now step down from my soapbox . . .

1) I'm SO thankful for my most amazing husband, Marshall - his unconditional love and a wonderful 4 1/2 months of marriage!!

2) I'm thankful for my family - grateful for the time I get to spend with them.

3) I'm thankful that I get to be a NICU nurse & see God work miracles in our tiny friends' lives each day.

4) I'm thankful for COFFEE (& especially that the Starbuck's Christmas Blend is arriving SOON!)!!

5) I'm thankful for the cooler weather ... & getting to pull out the fall/winter wardrobe.

6) I'm thankful that a new Freebird's is opening a mere 10 minutes from where we live next week!  YUM!!

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but it's the first several things that came to my mind this morning.  Now I'll stop procrastinating and do the next thing on today's "To Do List". 

Have a wonderful month of Thanksgiving!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tragedy in East Texas

I heard of a terribly tragedy that happened earlier this week, and I wanted to ask you to be in prayer with us for all the people involved.  To protect the privacy of the people (& because of my poor memory), I will not use their real names or gender.

The "Smith" Family was in the process of adopting a child.  This child had lived with them for around a year and celebrated "his" second birthday on Monday.  Monday afternoon, while the 16 year old babysitter, "J", was watching this child, "he" was found at the bottom of the pool.  9-1-1 was called, "he" was taken to the hospital, but it was too late.  "His" funeral was yesterday.  "J" made some poor choices & got distracted while watching this small child.

Needless to say, two families have faced tragedy this week:  The "Smith" family in the loss of this child, and the "Jones" family's teenage child - "J" - who will never be the same.

I don't know about any of the legal stuff that I'm sure will be taking place, but my heart hurts for both families.  I've witnessed so many parents losing a child.  It's not something that can be put into words.  My heart breaks for them as they have started down this road of grieving their lost child.  Then, I think about the babysitter.  I can't imagine what is going through "J's" mind now.  One decision and life will forever be different.  My heart hurts for "J", too.

As always, God is in control of this situation, and He will be glorified.  I firmly believe that He has a plan . . . even in tragedy.

"'In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.'" - John 16:33b

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. . . For when I am weak, then I am strong."  - 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  - Lamentations 3:22

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eighteen Months & Change

I've never been a big proponent of change ... some might say this is an understatement!! But, good or bad, change has always been difficult for me. When I set out travel nursing a little over four years ago, it was in part because people at work almost dared me to try it. It was also (to a lesser degree) a way to force myself to become more adaptable & flexible to change. Believe me, learning a new hospital & NICU every three months FORCES FLEXIBILITY!!!!

A few verses from the Bible have been my encouragement through the trying times and my reminder to praise my Savior through the joyful times:

"for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."  -Philippians 2:13

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  -Jeremiah 29:11

"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever; the purposes of His heart through all generations."
-Psalm 33:11

Little did I know how God would use 2 1/2 years of flexibility lessons when I made my "temporary" move back to Texas in the fall of 2009!! My plan (obviously, and thankfully!) wasn't what God had planned for me. Did I mention how GRATEFUL I am that He had this plan instead of using mine?!?!? :o)

A little over 18 months ago from today, my life changed forever with one single email.

Here's a little background . . .

I wasn't really looking for anyone to date or have a relationship with while I was living in Fort Worth because in my mind, it was only temporary. I'd decided that I was moving back to the east coast (specifically North Carolina) as soon as my contract was complete. In February of 2009, I watched a friend that I've know for close to 20 years bury her husband of 10 years. It was heart wrenching to see that. On my drive home that evening and the following days, I was thinking about her and praying for her, but I also (more selfishly) began praying again for God to give me that kind of love I'd seen so clearly between her & her husband in the past. I wasn't sure at the time if God had marriage in mind for me or not, so I also continued to pray that He would take away the desire for a husband if it wasn't in His plan for me.

One of the first Sunday mornings of March, 2009, I was reading my Bible with a Christian radio station in the background. It seemed like every time I listened to this particular station, I'd hear the commercial about this new, Christian dating website. This particular morning was no different. On a whim, I logged onto the website and started a profile page.

March - May, 2009

I received a short email from someone on that website. I wasn't sure at first what to think. The email made me laugh, but when I looked at his profile, there was a picture of him dressed as a clown. Hmmm...faced with a dilemma here! I emailed him back (giving him the benefit of the doubt), and it turned into three months of getting to know each other via emails. It was great, because I got to see how he viewed the world around him and a little how he dealt with life's challenges. I LOVED the fact that he initiated everything - from the first email communication to the first phone call and first date . . . what a gentleman!

In April, I accepted a full time (yes, permanent) position at the hospital where I'd been working as a contract nurse. The travel nursing chapter of my life had just come to a close. So, I moved apartments and settled in for what I believed would be two years. That way I could finish saving a house down payment and find the place I wanted to buy. Again ... not exactly what God had in store for me! :o)
New Fort Worth apartment

June, 2009

We decided to meet in person for the first time. We met for lunch at a Chili's in a city midway between where we lived. Our first date was about 5 hours! We just kept talking. It was fun & natural since we'd been getting to know each other for a while at this point. After the 2nd date, which my friend called our "marathon date" since it was around 12 hours, we both started feeling that this could be something special. But, neither of us said anything about that. We just kept everything casual as we continued learning about each other.

August, 2009
Fall, 2009

School was starting back, and it was Marshall's first year as a teacher. I wasn't sure what to expect with our relationship since we'd be keeping such opposite work & living schedules, and we lived exactly 1 hour apart from each other. I was pleasantly surprised! Not that it was easy. We learned early on that we both had to make adjustments if we were going to spend time together. It was truly a lesson in balancing schedules! I was amazed at how quickly I'd gone from "me" to "we". I was in awe at how God had brought Marshall into my life!
October, 2009

Marshall in A Christmas Carol

December 21, 2009

This was Marshall's first day of Christmas break, and we'd planned to spend the entire day together. I didn't know that yet another change was coming that evening! Yep, this is the day he proposed to me in downtown McKinney, TX!! It was all decorated with Christmas lights, and it was beautiful! This began a new chapter of our life together . . . wedding planning - more decisions than a person should have to make in a lifetime are made in the few months leading up to a wedding!!
Kinda blurry in the picture, but the real thing is beautiful! (And, he picked it out himself)  :)

January - May, 2010

What a whirlwind!!  I firmly believe one of the reasons God made marriage for life is because NO ONE should have to plan two weddings in one lifetime!!  :o)  SO MANY DECISIONS!!  It was fun,  most of the time.  We'd learned how to work out our schedule differences a little better after the fall, so we were able to spend more time together ... a definite plus!!  It amuses me that there seems to be a "set question" everyone asks when they see me.  When I was in college, it was either "how are classes?" or "have you met anyone special?".  When I was traveling, it was usually "where have you been lately?", but still sometimes "have you met anyone special?".   When people found out we were engaged, it was always "how are the wedding plans coming?".  It's the "acceptable" small talk conversations ... except most single people (well, maybe just girls) don't like the special someone question.  Oh well, off my soap box! 

Just before our wedding shower in Livingston

It was a CRAZY BUSY 5 months, during which I lost the friendship of my sister due to a decision I had to make.  The last time we really talked was Super Bowl Sunday, 2010.  This is the sad change in my life over the past 18 months.  The decision was the correct one, and it was made only after LOTS of prayer and seeking advice, but it was a hard one which caused pain.  I hate that, because it would have been wonderful to have her with me in all the pre-wedding festivities.  It makes me sad.  Marshall & I have been praying about this situation for months, and I have hope that we will be friends again someday.  Enough about that...

JUNE, 2010

This is the big one!!  Marshall finished school the first week of June.  SUMMER was finally here!!  The week before our wedding, we moved all of his stuff into storage, and he moved into my living room.  We were married on a beautiful spring day (which, of course, felt like summer ... it is Texas after all).  It was a wonderful celebration of what God had done in our lives!!

It's official, now!!

After the wedding, we went on a relaxing cruise to Mexico.  We were able to catch up on some of the sleep we'd missed out on during the spring with our busy schedules.  And, we were able to eat at least our share of the 8 tons of food on board the ship!! 

Waiting for dinner one evening on our cruise

When we got back home, we had more change to face.  He hadn't lived with anyone in 2 years, and I hadn't lived with anyone in 7 years.  And, neither of us had ever been married.  Life as a married couple is different ... GREAT different, but still an adjustment.  Life got back to the new normal as I returned to work.

August, 2010

More change in the works ... Since we work in cities about 45 minutes apart from each other, we'd found a new home in a small town about halfway between the jobs.  But, this meant another move.  So, off we went to our new apartment the day before Marshall started back with his teacher in service.  Not the greatest time to be moving, but we've learned to be flexible! 

Our soon to be office & craft room

SO MUCH STUFF!!!!  This is the first time we've had all of our things in one place, and it turns out we have too many things.  It's now late September, and we're still going through boxes ... slowly, but surely making our way through years of things stuffed into nice, cardboard boxes. 

God has blessed us more than we could ever ask or imagine! 

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen."  -Ephesians 3:20-21

I was lying awake the other night just going over the past 18 months and few days in my head.  I continue to be amazed at what God has done!  He truly is a God who has a plan for my life, and His plan is SO MUCH better than I can fathom!!  I'm excited to see His next step for us.  :o)

Funny Phone Calls

My phone rang yesterday just as we were about to eat dinner. I answered, and here's the conversation that followed:

Me: Hello?
Person: Hello. May I speak with ... (pause) ... Jenn?
Me: This is she. Who am I speaking with?
Person: This is ... with Al's Formal Wear. I'd like to congratulate you on your upcoming wedding!
Me: My wedding was in June.
Person: (awkward pause) Well, our records indicate that your wedding will be in June, 2011.
Me: My wedding was in June.
Person: (awkward pause) Hmm...Well...I guess I could update our records to reflect that.
Me: OK
Person: Thank you for your time. And, I guess, congratulations on your recent marriage.


Aparently, Al's Formal Wear doubts that I know my actual wedding date. I didn't think this was something easily forgotten!! I also appreciated the half-hearted "I guess congratulations" for being married. I guess it doesn't deserve the recognition that an upcoming wedding does. I hung up & told Marshall, and we had a little chuckle. Then we moved on to the food! :o)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

It's been a while since I did one of these ... probably since last fall (sadly). As I wasn't sleeping this afternoon, I was thinking about the hymn "Count Your Blessings". I was reminded of my principal from Kindergarten, Bro. Godwin. Every Friday morning during chapel, he would lead us in this hymn. I can't exactly remember what he looked like, but I remember his smile and the sheer joy on his face as he'd sing the words to this wonderful hymn. Each week he'd tell us how important it was to thank God for what He's blessed us with. Well, maybe we didn't really sing it every week, but I remember singing it frequently.

Count Your Blessing
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings.
Wealth can never buy your reward in heaven,
nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
So, here's a small list of things I'm thankful for on this Thursday:
  1. Faithful friends
  2. Loving parents
  3. Marshall
  4. Cooler weather - fun times wearing "fall clothes"
  6. Seeing a baby get well when none of us thought she would (love God's surprises!)
  7. Lots of laughing
  8. Pretty fall colors appearing
  9. Beautiful sunset tonight
  10. Schedule change ... I get OFF on Christmas!! :)

Have a WONDERFUL weekend, and let the Holiday Season begin!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2:30 AM Good Times

Trying to mend a very sore throat before I head back to work tonight, I decided to make some mashed potatoes for my "dinner". (or whatever the 2-3 AM meal is called before crashing for the day) =) I didn't have any real potatoes - besides, that would be way too much work at this time of day - but I did have a package of potato flakes and just enough milk for the recipe. YEA!! I first needed to boil the liquid stuff before I added the flakes and stirred like a mad-woman. (Can you guess where this is headed?!?) Yep . . . I let it completely boil over the side of the pot. Thankfully, I have a glass top stove so the mess was somewhat contained. Unfortunately, milk & water & butter make a LOT of smoke when poured on a really hot burner. OOPS!! I quickly ran around turning on every vent in my apartment and then shut off my alarm so I could open some windows before the smoke detectors went off. Wouldn't that have made me the most popular neighbor in the building?!? =) It only took about 10 minutes for the majority of the smoke to dissipate so I could finish making the mashed potato concoction. So, here I sit in a slightly hazy apartment with a full belly of mashed potatoes and a throat that isn't much better than before the saga ... who knows whether it's the original problem or from smoke inhalation! Perhaps, in the future, I should leave the more complicated cooking (like boiling liquids) to my "pre-midnight" cooking adventures.

As Martha would say, "Good Times." :~)

Thursday, October 08, 2009


According to my dictionary, not Webster because I don't have his :), to redeem is to recover ownership of by paying a specific sum.

I've always loved the story of Ruth in the Bible. I'm sure partly due to the fact that it's a beautiful love story, and I'm a SUCKER for a good love story. But even more, I love the fact that it's an allegory for what Christ has done for me and everyone else who trusts in Him. Boaz was Ruth's kinsman redeemer, which basically means that after her husband passed away, he was someone in the family to take her as his wife so that her husband's name could continue. (Yeah, the official Jewish law is quite a bit more complicated than that, but that's the gist.) =) The cool part comes in the New Testament, though. Before Christ came, we were held under the law, which no one could live up to being sinful humans. But, when Jesus died for us, he payed the specific sum for our lives so that we could live in eternity with Him.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Galatians 3:13-14

To be redeemed, all we have to do is come to Him, broken, and accept His gift of life. This fact still amazes me!

There's a Christian singing group called Selah that is incredible!! If you've never heard any of their music, I highly recommend that you take a listen. (I promise this will all tie together eventually.) The lead male singer and his wife went through an excruciating experience with their 4th daughter in 2008. About halfway through the pregnancy, they found out that their daughter's condition wasn't compatible with life outside of the womb. To read the full story, you can go to Angie's Blog. One of my good friends told me about the blog in March of last year. I sat down one day, and I literally read the whole story up to that point in one sitting. Let me warn you, though, that you'll need at least one box of tissues to get through it! It was an encouragement to see their walk of faith through this time of unspeakable darkness.

What really hit home with me was how similar their story was to the stories of so many of my families at work. I work on the sickest of the sick babies for a living, and I can't even begin to imagine what goes through the families' minds as they walk that road not knowing if their baby will be alive tomorrow ... or later this afternoon. Some days are awesome, and others are absolutely heart wrenching. Reading through Angie's blog really opened my eyes to some of the thoughts of parents going through this type of tragedy. I will never forget what a mom told a group of us in a class up in DC: "My son may not be your sickest patient, but he's my sickest kid." WOW! What to us, as healthcare professionals, seems normal and everyday is terrifying to the parents. That has stuck with me, and I hope it makes me a better nurse because of it!

Not to be Debbie Downer ... we do have happy endings in the NICU, and we ALL rejoice when the so very sick babies survive and get to go home with their parents!! At the same time, though, not all of our little darlings make it to their earthly home. We see brokenness in our unit - parents and family members at the lowest point of their lives. It is in these times that I wish I was allowed to share more of my faith with these families to let them know there is a Great Healer who can and would love to heal their brokenness while carrying them through this horrible tragedy. Our chaplains do an amazing job with the families at the hospital, and I can never thank them enough! But, they are also limited on what they can say unless the families ask a specific question. Red tape/laws really stink sometimes!!

All this to say, Selah recently released a new cd that has a beautiful song entitled "Unredeemed". Here are the lyrics:

The cruelest world

The coldest heart

The deepest wound

The endless dark

The lonely ache

The burning tears

The bitter nights

The wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart

But we know these are

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing

It may be unfulfilled

It may be unrestored

But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord

Just watch and see

It will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame

And all the love that never came

For every vow that someone broke

And every lie that gave up hope

We live in the shadow of the fall

But the cross says these are all

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing

It may be unfulfilled

It may be unrestored

But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord

Just watch and see

It will not be unredeemed

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing

It may be unfulfilled

It may be unrestored

But you never know the miracle the Father has in store

Just watch and see

It will not be

Just watch and see

It will not be unredeemed

This song says it all. No matter the circumstance, bring it to Jesus, and He WILL redeem! He takes the shattered pieces of our lives that we lay before Him, and He uses them to bring about His glory. What an encouraging message! I don't know how many times I've listened to this song - sometimes singing along, sometimes praying, sometimes crying - since I bought the cd. And, this isn't the only good song on it! It's really a great time of worship to listen and sing along with all the songs!

I tried to upload it to the list of songs playing on here, but it's not yet available. So, you can click here to hear them sing it. Enjoy! =)