BIG NEWS!

I have some news….. part of me is super nervous to announce it because I’m afraid it’s all just a dream that will disappear once I bring it to light…

BUT, GUYS! I was offered and have accepted THE DREAM JOB! This “dream” entailed being a part of a special new grad nurse program. You know… the one I talked about here, and here, and here.

THE JOB!

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But there is something so cool that I have to share surrounding this process. I don’t mean to get preachy, but I just can’t contain myself.

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Lemme back track a bit. Our church started the New Year off with a series on prayer. This TRANSFORMED the way I pray and the way I think about prayer. It is such a powerful tool we have been given, a direct line to the Creator of the Universe. I think growing up in the church I sometimes take for granted the beauty and immense power of it. And prayer isn’t just about asking for something, solely. No, it’s beauty is in the relational element of it. It’s crazy how God will change your perspective, bring you peace, bring you solutions when you just ask! Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith”. Now, I’m not saying that Corvette you prayed for last Tuesday will show up on your doorstep (But who knows, maybe!). The thing is, when you are in this relationship with Christ and go to Him, your Father, in prayer, He will transform your heart, your thinking, and your life to be more aligned with His. Your capacity to forgive will be expanded. Your love for this hurting world will be deepened. Your ability to see a situation with wisdom will be sharpened. The desires of your heart and what you ask for will be more aligned with His will, and He wants to give the best to His children. Yes, I realize this life brings so.much.pain. How does that align with this same God? That’s another topic completely, but presently I just want to emphasize His love is incomprehensible and all He wants is to be in relationship with us. He became man and died so that we could have eternal life. He cares that much about us, so why do we think He doesn’t care about the small stuff sometimes? He cares about every detail. He wants to be involved in every detail of our lives. We just have to let Him in, we have to talk to Him, we have to confide in Him.

Anyways, I’m trying to keep this short. So let me just turn this back to the interview right quick!

When anyone asks, “What field of medicine are you interested in?” My answer is always the same: Oncology or neurology. I aspire to be a nurse practitioner one day in one of those fields. Why? These are fields that heavily rely on loving and encouraging patients-hard prognoses are not strangers to these areas. All areas require compassion, all areas are incredibly noble,  but I particularly gravitated toward these areas personally. I have a long way to go on my technical skills, but I can give love. I’d also love to do research one day in these fields to help contribute to the solutions for some of these incurable diseases. I have a heart for both dearly, but I only have clinical experience in oncology. However, if someone were to give me the choice between the two, I probably would choose neurology- I find it incredibly fascinating, and it also has personal ties close to my heart.  But I’ve never expressed how much I wanted to work in neurology to anyone, not even DJ. The choice just didn’t seem to exist for new nurses. When a chance to interview for oncology opened up, I jumped on it, because, like I said- I have experience there, and it is a field I truly have passion for and would be honored to work in. Neurology just wasn’t an option.

The morning of the interview my phone lit up with texts from so many friends and family filled with prayers. I wrote 1 Philippians 4:6-7 on my bathroom mirror and repeated it over and over to myself on the drive to the interview. Understanding the power of prayer, I felt peace. I shouldn’t have felt peace going into a panel interview for crying-out-loud with three other candidates (yes, all candidates are interviewed in the same room at the same time). Our answers were timed and we had five people in front of us to answer. I shouldn’t have felt peace considering I was competing against girls with far more clinical experience, ivy league educational backgrounds, and personal connections to the hospital. But He was with me, He helped me think clearly and articulate out of compassion. I shouldn’t have felt peace based on the situation, but I just felt the Lord’s spirit with me, and He is the Prince of Peace. I couldn’t have done that on my own, but I did it on His strength.

When I received the phone call the day after my interview, the HR director said, “I have an offer for you.”

My heart leaped with joy!

“But…” she said, “It’s not in oncology.”

I grew confused. But that’s what I interviewed for? 

“It’s on a neurosurgical unit”.

Wait… hold the phone. Neurology?! NEUROLOGY? I didn’t even interview for a neurological position, I didn’t even tell a soul that this was truly my heart’s foremost desire, but God knew. Why do I ever put Him in a box? Thinking He operates within the rules we place on Him? Our God is so big, He loves us more than we can imagine. He will give us our hearts desires if we just ask, “give me YOUR desires, Lord, let YOUR will be done.” He will align our hearts desires with His plans for us.

And in case it’s not clear- our God is a God of the impossible.

I also want to say a massive thank you to all of you for your prayers, encouragement, and love throughout this long process.

I have no words to express how excited I am to care for my future patients, love  others in Jesus’ name, and be part of the extended hand of healing.

xo <3

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Today I’m Terrified. But…

This is probably pretty elementary for most… but it’s just something that is ringing true in my life today. I know by recording these thoughts I can look back in the future and see how God has been faithful through this time. 

Sitting here on this rainy day, I have an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. When most people jumped for joy ringing in 2017, I had a part of me that dreaded the turn of the year. This may shock many of you… considering I tend to optimistically embrace change in life more often than not.

So why the dread of the New Year? In 2016 a lot of good developed in me as an individual. The person you see is not the person I have always been.  I used to live life with anxiety about the next day, rather than embracing the present. I’m always a work in progress, but I see 2016 as a time of growth. That season of transition , although initially a frustrating waiting period, developed into, perhaps, my favorite time of life. I learned to live a life of balance (well at least more balance), I started embracing life in a way I never have before, I started doing things that brought me joy for their own sake, I traveled, and I found my faith again. Up to that point I let school, studies, schedules, and deadlines dictate my life.

Now, in this first month of 2017, I am faced with boot-shaking interviews, hefty decisions regarding my career path, and the end of this season. I feel like I am grieving a stage of my life that I so loved. I’m afraid that I will give up on the “extra” things that have brought me immense joy- blogging, exploration, baking, reading, writing, traveling, hiking, etc. and get lost in the tangle of the day to day again.

I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be a nurse, don’t get me wrong. I have a zealous passion for this career path, and I truly do feel called to it. I am beyond excited to get started. I even have an interview with my dream employer- I am ecstatic about this opportunity, and truthfully in disbelief that I even made it to this point. At the same time, I know the chances of getting this job are slim, statistically. For a long time I didn’t want to admit that I really want this job. But I can’t deny it: I really want this job.

But… what if I fail? What if I choke in the interview? What if I do get this job, but I disappoint? What if I am not good enough?

Having these thoughts I felt convicted, because, oh, they are so not what our Father in Heaven wants us to be thinking.

Philippians 4:6– “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Those “what if” thoughts reap anxiety and worry. They are lies. These are seeds of insecurity that are not in line with Christ. 

When I am being fed these lies and begin to believe them, there is only one thing that combat them: TRUTH.

Isaiah 41:10“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

God promises to be with us in these times of life that bring trepidation. He will strengthen us and help us. He will be with me and help me in that interview.

2 Timothy 1:7“For God gave us a Spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control”

God’s Spirit is not of fear. He promises His Spirit of power. I can have the assurance that I have His power helping me, even when I feel weak in my current abilities.

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

He promises us peace. I can have peace in any circumstance, because He has given us this gift. I can have peace walking into this field even knowing there are endless challenges coming my way.

1 Peter 5:7“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” 

Wow…we can simply just give our worries to Him. Because He cares for us, He promises to carry our worries. I don’t have to worry about being good enough, about having the right words, about my inexperience, or about having time to continue to do the random things I love- because He’s got me.

Matthew 21:22“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Cowabunga. I know He promises to give us what we ask for in His name with an expectant hope. Something I am working on this year is praying more confidently in Jesus’ name. If I truly believe He is who He says He is, how drastically different my prayers should look!

I know He will come through on His promises. I know He will place me in the nursing job that will allow me to bring healing to my patients and love them each deeply in His name. I know He will take care of me, because He promises this.

And if I truly believe this, then what do I have to fear?

Something our pastor recently said has stuck with me with great gravity: “Two opposing options reside in the unknown: Fear and Faith. Which will you choose?”

I want to choose Faith.

So rather than my “what ifs” of insecurity, uncertainty, and fear, what if I choose faith. What if I choose to trust in God’s promises, what if I strive for what seems impossible in His name? What if I no longer ask “what if” and rest in His promise?

Going forward, I am going to change the way I have been thinking this first week of January. I am going to be excited and expectant for the future. I am going to lean on Christ and rejoice in His blessings each day.

I choose to give my fear to Him and rest in His beautiful name.

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How God Answered My Impossible Prayer

This is the most intimidating story of my life for me to share yet. There are many reasons for this- I know it will uncover emotions that I have learned to keep at arms length, it may be a challenge to condense many interplaying factors into one single comprehensible post, and I am afraid that sharing this story will in turn somehow destroy a sacred cherished memory I hold dear. I am afraid it will offend people, confuse others, or cause me apprehension and regret on sharing it in the first place. However, when I started writing on this platform I promised God that I would be obedient to His prompting. I am writing this without any idea on who it may give hope, encourage, or touch, if anyone at all… But at the end of the day I am choosing to place these fears in God’s hands and allow this story to bring Him glory because there was a day He answered my impossible prayer. 

On November 28, 2009 my dad passed away unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism. I remember the moment I found out clearly. There is a door in my mind that accesses the room I house that memory. Rarely do I go near it to look inside, but sometimes I do, inevitably feeling like a train has bouldered into my heart. Sometimes I don’t choose to look, but the memory works it’s way through the corridors of  my mind, forcing itself to the forefront of my thoughts. Regardless, that moment has a way of replaying itself occasionally like a reoccurring nightmare.

The phone ringing, my older sister sounding on edge on the other end of the line, asking to talk to my mom, not wishing to chat or make small talk. My mother sitting across me as I was just casually unwinding from a day at basketball practice. A plate of cheese and crackers next to me as I watched some mindless television. The characteristically cloudy November day. The look on her face.

I knew. I just knew.

Screaming “No” over and over again as I felt that I was spiraling into the ground. I begged myself to wake up as I embarked onto my first stage of grief, the shock and numbness manifesting in both denial and hysteria. The realization. This is not a dream. My heart breaking more minute by minute, realizing this would soon be my younger sister’s nightmare too. She’s only thirteen. Thirteen. The millions of questions in my head, far too clouded and confused to even articulate one. 

Yes. That moment I will forever remember- branded into my brain and onto my heart, an indelible mark. The events in the months to come thereafter were not so clear. I remember parts and pieces of that time like a bystander, rather than a partaker. I barely remember the Calling Hours, but I do remember a few conversations from that day. People would say, “You will see him again”, and “He is watching over you!”. I never grew angry at anyone’s attempt to empathize, I greatly appreciated all the compassion and could not have made it through that time without it. But those phrases… those words. I couldn’t come to peace with them. Here is where this gets tricky to explain. But I will do my best.

My father was a remarkable man. He had the kindest heart. He loved people and above all else family. At the end of the day, he would always ask my siblings and me, “Did we make a good memory, guys?” He is the reason I understand the value in making and treasuring the memories in our lives. He saw no one as a stranger, but as a potential friend. He was one of the funniest people I have ever known, and could put a smile on anyone’s face. He was a math wizard, a gene I did not inherit. He was the best listener, my protector, and the one with whom I had the most inside jokes.

But there was something I had great unrest about. There are many factors here, far too complicated to explain for the sake of this, but overall I just didn’t know for sure if my father had a personal relationship with Jesus. We had never talked about it, about what he believed personally. I could assume that he did, sure, he supported my siblings and I in our involvement in church growing up, would pray rehearsed prayers with us before meals and before bed, and referenced God occasionally. I just didn’t have an assurance that outside of those things he believed. I hope this doesn’t come across harsh or condemning. I know that we cannot truly know the state of someone’s heart. I know God is just, and He is the only one that can judge. I just wished so badly I could go back in time and ask him if he believed all this too, for himself- that the motions of religion weren’t just a way to raise us “right” or appease my mom, but something he wanted personally.

So I prayed for peace and assurance. I wanted to be able to say with confidence that I would see him again, but I just couldn’t. I just didn’t know. It felt like such an empty prayer, because how could God possibly give me this rest in my soul I so desired. I couldn’t go back in time. I couldn’t ask him.

Three years went by and healing did take place, slowly. For a long while I didn’t want to admit that anything good could come out of losing one of the people I loved the most. But upon reflecting, I see how God turned elements of the pain into blessings. It has taken me a long time to admit that.  And yet, despite the tremendous healing that time allowed, I still longed for peace about the wearisome question mark in the back of my mind.

The  summer before my freshman year of college my grandfather on my dad’s side, whom we called Papa, received the diagnosis of cancer. Since my  dad’s death, my siblings and I had become especially close to my papa. That summer, my sisters and I sat with him and read the Bible, prayed with him, and just talked with him. He never gave much feedback during those times of scripture and prayer. I couldn’t read how he felt about all of it.

In Autumn of 2012 that followed, we knew things were taking a turn for the worse with Papa’s health. Before heading back to school on my fall break I made sure to visit him. I remember that he wasn’t “all there” anymore mentally. My heart broke as I watched him slip away, and I knew this was likely my last time with him. As I said my goodbye and walked out of the nursing home, I felt a nudge in my heart, turn around and ask. I ignored it and walked to the car. TURN AROUND. I started the car and started driving. I became nauseous and the words of my soul screamed incessantly turn around now! The tears started and right when I was about to turn onto the highway entrance I turned around. A great part of me protested within myself, I don’t want to ask him. What if it makes him angry. He won’t even know what I’m saying. I don’t know how he will respond. I want to leave on a good note! 

But I pulled back into that nursing home, and jogged through the halls with a sudden urgency. I opened his door and started sobbing. I could barely calm myself down enough to ask. But regardless of the trepidation, I had to ask, I had to know. I blurted out before I could second guess what I was doing, “Papa- do you love Jesus?”.

He looked at me, as though a switch had been flipped, and lucidly said, “I sure do, Honey, I sure do” with a weighted confidence.

On that drive back to school I felt overwhelmingly thankful that I heard those precious words from my papa. I didn’t want to deal with the questioning that forever would be on my mind about my dad.

A few weeks later, my papa passed away. I drove straight from school to the funeral home. Although it was a painful time, I was thankful he was no longer in pain, and even more thankful for our last conversation. I remember standing over the casket with my older sister’s hand on my back. I said to her, “Andi- I know we will see Papa again, but I don’t know if we will see Daddy”. This is the first time I had said these words to anyone like this. She looked at me, without saying anything for few seconds, and then took me into the lobby of the funeral home.

She handed me her phone and had a voicemail playing she had saved. I listened. It was my dad’s voice, my dad’s beautiful voice, saying such sweet things to my sister and concluding with “Thank you Andi, for getting your old man ready for when his time comes”. I stood there in shock and awe. Andrea explained that they had been reading the Bible on the phone for the last few months leading up to his death. She said with undeniable certainty that we would see him again. I heard it in my father’s own voice, three years later. He was ready, he was prepared.

I will see him again.

So while November 28th is a day that brings with it memories that harbor tremendous pain, on the other side of that pain is a prayer. An impossible prayer. And on the other side of this impossible prayer is a limitless God.

And He answered my impossible prayer.

To Him forever be the glory. 

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img_3660 See ya later alligator… <3  

Doubt.

This post is a bit different than my usuals, but I feel something on my heart that I want to share. I am about to get vulnerable with you all, but I am learning more and more that sometimes the most freedom in life can come from a place of vulnerability. I also want to make the disclaimer that no matter what you believe, what religion you are, where you are from, I do not disregard you- I’d love to hear your thoughts. I additionally truly hold firmly to loving everyone, no.matter.what.

The keyboard in front of me daunts me. I have so much going on in my head that it intimidates me. I am afraid that my simple words will not do justice to the joy that now consumes me. This past season of my life has been one of growth that compares to none other. Before I begin attempting to articulate in my own human capacity, I pray that the hand of the Lord guides and directs these words to speak to what He wants to say. This is my current story, my current testimony, and it has been seven years in the making, and continuing…

Let’s back up. I was raised in the church and surrounded by mostly believers. I accepted Jesus as my Lord at a young age and was living zealously for Him for most of my life.

But at a certain point there was something I was lacking- an essential element: Faith.

The first time I recall experiencing my first wave of doubt about Christianity and what I believed was my sophomore year of high school. I have a skeptical mind, and I like proof. Then proof behind the proof. I like the “whys” and the “hows” behind every single little thing. But sometimes this yearning for proof can leave little room for faith and a lot of room for doubt. This phase of doubt, however, was short-lived- I talked with people I trusted and respected about these questions and felt settled and at ease with the answers they had given me. For now, at this time, I was satisfied. I believed.

Shortly after wrestling those first doubts, my dad passed away. The first words I barely choked out when I was told of his passing were, “I just need God.” My mom handed me a Bible and I just held it. Not absorbing the words, but just holding it. Surprisingly, this moment further corroborated God’s existence to me. In that desperate of a moment, how could God be what I reached for, almost instinctively, if He wasn’t there?

I didn’t struggle with any additional doubts until I went to college, a Christian university nonetheless. This is not at all a reflection of the University itself, but of my personal circumstances. Slowly, and I can pinpoint just a couple instances, I had become so jaded toward the Church. By the Church I mean by the very people of God. I became resentful. I resented the people that were supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. I resented the atmosphere of a worship service. I resented basically anything that had to do with Christ. If I were to see what I am writing right now I probably would have rolled my eyes and stopped the minute I knew it dealt with Christianity. Everything and anything that once touched me as perfect and awe-inspiring began to morph into something superficial, hypocritical, and false. I am not blaming others for this- I myself stopped pursuing God. I put too much stock in my experience of religion rather than focusing on my relationship with Christ. People fail, Christ never does.

Here is the crazy part. During this time others probably perceived me as the quintessential “Christian girl” for the most part- fitting the outward mold of “that type” to a “T”. I knew how to talk the talk. I told people I would pray for them, but rarely ever did. I encouraged people that “God had a plan”. I said the right things; I had been trained well. I slept walk through the motions, I did religion, and I did it well. That is not to sound cocky, and I am not bragging. Quite the opposite actually. I became the very facade that I so severely resented in others.

This place of resentment allowed the doubts to creep in stronger than ever. As I promised to pray for others, as I said the “right things”, as I worshipped in Church, in the back of my mind I thought, If there is a God, If He is even real, If I even truly believe this over and over again.

The Ifs consumed me, my mind, my everyday. That is a very uncomfortable place to be; it terrified me to my core.

I have heard all the arguments for Christianity- and let me tell you, they are strong. Lest we not forget at the root of any belief is an element of faith- even those who choose to believe nothing exists. My mother encouraged us to explore other religions because she was so sure of our beliefs. I took a class in high school looking in depth to each major world religion (and other streams of existential thought) back to Zoroastrianism. I was given historical, logical, natural, scientific data even pointing to a Creator and Jesus being Lord. This is not to mention my own personal experiences that supported the evidence. I found myself multiple times throughout life thinking, This practically proves it, how can anyone deny this evidence? Yet I did, in the face of the best of it.

It was not about a lack of evidence, but a lack of faith.

My heart fiercely wrestled the “ifs”. I was so engrossed in the uncertainty. These were some serious doubts as I mentioned above. I wondered if we were truly just animals with nowhere we were going, only destined to live our lives for a few years on a wasting planet. I pondered upon these doubts in my mind; only consuming a small part of my thinking at a time, but soon becoming monsters that overcame me. I realized, if none of it was true, if Jesus was not the One true God and if there is no such thing as “God”, then what the heck was I doing with my life?

I would have no identity. No hope. No purpose. No future. No promise. No life. I would have nothing. I would be nothing. And just because I desired for this to not be the case, it became a possibility before my eyes, before my soul.

I begged. I begged God on my knees for removal of that doubt. I begged the Lord to take it from me and allow me to believe with unwavering belief I used to have. I begged for days. I begged for months. I begged in utter desperation for over a year.

But then I begged less. Instead, I busied myself with my studies, with my responsibilities, my job. I prayed less. I sought out God’s Word less. I’ll deal with it another day, became my everyday. I was on the spiritual “tomorrow diet”. I was putting the most fundamental aspect of life on hold for anything fleeting. I worshipped anything but the One whom deserves our worship: my to-do list, my responsibilities, my day-to-day superficial desires, myself

Silence. Doubt.

The further I distanced myself the more doubt because a part of me, and apathy manifested as a result. I told hardly anyone of these doubts I was facing, but I did tell my husband. He was beyond encouraging. He responded to everything perfectly. These doubts of mine didn’t scare him or cause him to even blink- He knew that God would be faithful. But still, the questions made themselves at home in the back of my mind, and the uncertainty caused my heart to ache with a chronic pain that I had become so familiar with. At this point, after living with these doubts for nearly two years, they didn’t shock me or shake me like they used to. I had grown numb, apathetic, and lifeless in my soul. I told my husband that I was fearful of moving somewhere that I was wrongly convinced hardly anyone had a relationship with Christ. I was fearful that I would be further pulled into the depths of these doubts and completely turn away from whatever speck of faith I was haphazardly clinging to, if any at all.

The time for our move came this past summer. We packed up and began our road trip toward the place that would become our new home. Every second of that trip was filled with awesome memories that I will treasure forever, however, two specific stops stand out to me. The first was the Grand Canyon- seeing that majesty, the beauty, the awe-inspiring tapestry- it stirred something within me. Driving up Highway One and Big Sur had the same impact. I began to have that thirst again, I wanted to rejoice God in my soul for whom He is, I wanted to believe it in my soul, and not just have a longing for Him to exist; I wanted a longing for Him. The doubt was still there, but I had a rekindled urgency to face it.

The second Sunday that we were here my husband announced that we were going to Church. I agreed verbally, maybe even with a faux excitement, but I put up slight protest in my heart. I didn’t want to put on a show. I didn’t want to be surrounded by hypocrisy. I didn’t want to be the hypocrite.

The first Church service we attended shook me. I remember leaving thinking how can they worship like this if it isn’t all real? God was working on me, but I had no idea the monumental changes that were about to occur.

We began attending groups within the church- Bible study groups, hiking groups, community service groups, etc. I clearly began to see the way these individuals live. It is not a superficial knowledge that drives them. It is not a duty or obligation. It is a relationship. These people are in deep, undeniable relationships with Christ. They have zero judgment toward others. They are not brain-washed. They are intelligent, wise, and beautiful individuals who know the real thing when they see it. They aren’t “Bible thumpers” with their heads in the clouds. They are some of the most authentic individuals I have ever met. They do not claim perfection, and they only boast in Christ. The seed of resentment began to disappear from my heart. From these relationships I was motivated to repair relationships from the past, and dig out the root of bitterness that had entangled me so deeply. I began to crave the fellowship of other believers. I began to desire that freedom that comes with worship. The doubt began to wither away.

Sunday after Sunday we went back to this Church. Each time, my heart was softened. Each time I opened my Bible I grew more and more enamored with Him. I began praying again, thanking God. I thanked him for his faithfulness, for his future faithfulness too; I knew that He was going to be faithful, even if the doubts were still there, He was greater than them.

During a particular worship service, I found myself overwhelmed in the best way. I felt surrounded by the Holy Spirit in a way that is nearly indescribable. This moment literally took my breath away. In the middle of worship that still, small voice in my heart that I had not heard for so long said, I’m here, I’ve got you. It was not my emotions speaking- This was undeniably something greater.

Whatever doubt had been there was replaced. It was replaced with a fire, love, passion, desire, yearning, and an assurance of the One True Living God.

I know many would say that this was perhaps an emotional connection to the desires I had- grabbing onto the first illumination of something to believe in. But it was not that. For every second of doubt I had, it was as though a confidence now overwhelmed my soul, washing away those uncertainties. And ever since then, He has continued to confirm again and again His presence in my life. I just had to seek Him. He has always been there.

Romans 8:38-39 declares, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Nothing can separate us when we are in Christ. Nothing. Not our doubts, not our fears, not even ourselves.

He never left me. He was with me through every single step of this painful process. He did answer my prayer, in His time, better than I could have ever pictured. I don’t know why He didn’t help resolve these doubts earlier. This is not a stance on Calvinism vs. Arminianism, but I do think He was waiting for me to seek after Him fervently, to give up the resentful, hateful seed that had been planted so deeply into my heart. And if I ever face this again throughout my walk, I know I can face it with the assurance of knowing Christ will see me through. I also will not stop in my pursuit of objective truth- I just have a confidence now that it will point back to Christ. After all, He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Moreover, I know despite my flawed human imperfection, His timing is perfect. My heart is set ablaze as I enter this new stage of life, a stage where I am more available to do whatever He calls me to than ever. I have confidence far surpassing what I had even early in my walk before the doubts set in. I have a fire and passion to share this love with others. I realize the selfish life I have been living for so long and have a desire to truly turn away from it. Everything that seemed so important of this world seems so foolish now. I have a thirst for more. I have a thirst for something real.

From this time I have also taken away this: Doubt is okay, it’s natural. Doubt is not something to be ashamed of, in fact it can be so good. It is a season, that most, if not all, people do face. God uses all seasons to sharpen us, to mold us, and to grow us. It’s nearly a cousin of faith, but tackling our doubt deepens our faith. He doesn’t want blind followers. He wants us to pursue Him and praise Him with a confidence and assurance.

Isaiah 41: 10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my right hand.”

So to any brothers or sisters struggling through the tangles of doubt, I just want to whisper this piece of truth from my heart to yours..

He’s got you. He is real. He loves you more than you can imagine. He is with you, and He will be victorious over this season.

Why “no” is such a beautiful word

I am in a strange stage of life. It’s a stage that I cannot define. And in twenty-two years of life I have never experienced anything like this.

Ya know, like first, you are surrounded by a bunch of other drippy-nosed rugrats in kindergarten. Next comes grade school that begins the continual climb to the envied Senior year of high school. (We won’t discuss the middle school years; we all know the horror.) Then comes college where you pursue a degree in your dream job and then swiftly as college comes it goes leaving you with that beloved job. Right? Apparently not, at least not for me; at least not at this moment.

I pursued my degree in nursing for four strenuous, formative, fantastic years. Oh, how I loathed it, but, oh, how I loved it even more. The hours of ceaseless studying, tears, lack of sleep, the criticism of crotchety nurses, being cursed at by hurting patients, and putting my life on hold was worth it if I could make a difference in someone else’s. But for now, my “dream” to be a part of the extended hand of healing is temporarily on hold.

The California State Board has a slightly longer timeframe to approve someone to take their state boards than other states (by slightly longer, I mean tremendously). Most of my friends were approved within a couple weeks of graduation in late April to take their nursing boards. I was offered an interview with my said dream job, but in order to sit for the interview, I would have needed to take my boards by mid-July. I am still waiting. I studied laboriously for all of May and June. I reviewed, took practice exams, and reviewed again until I was burnt out. I finally reached out three weeks ago to the state board. They said they were just waiting on my fingerprints, and then I would be good to go. Last night, the anniversary of  these three weeks I have had boldly marked in my calendar, I called again. After ten attempts to even get through, and an hour of being on hold, they told me they could not give me the timeframe that my application would be processed. They clarified it would not be “soon” as they were still processing the group before mine (the March 1-15th group) that they have been processing since May. I submitted my application March 21st. If I had submitted my application a week earlier I potentially could be working right now. I could have a job. I could be pridefully proclaiming that I am successfully onto the next stage of life. I could be someone doing something. But here I am- unemployed, in a waiting period, and at complete peace.

Peace? No, not a typo. Allow me to explain. I am the type A “go-go”, never stop, to-do-list-always-three-pages-long type person. We all know the type. Especially through nursing school, I never took much time to do the things I enjoyed for their own sake like reading, writing, playing my guitar, or hiking. We all have seasons where we feel we just have to do what we have to do to get by, but I rarely took time to do, in my mind, “non-productive”, restful things. DJ jokingly calls me “Max (MACKs) Efficiency”.

I talked to my sage older sister this morning (aka my therapist). She helped me process this stage of waiting and confusion. I expressed the guilt I have been feeling from not doing something society deems productive while I wait to be approved to take my boards. She helped me realize, that this period of rest, is exactly where God wants me to be.

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Guys- God literally moved me across the country to where I know hardly anyone and slammed the door of my plans with a resounding “no”. What has happened in this “no” period? I have lived. I have let the creativity that has been suppressed so deeply within me come back to the surface. I have explored His awe-inspiring creation. I have read books for pleasure that don’t mention needles, aseptic technique, or catheters. I have experienced new cuisines. I have had the best conversations and time with my husband. I have found a church home and have started beautiful friendships. I have danced around the apartment just because. And I have rested. “This guilt about non-productivity is not from Christ, Kenz”, my sister said to me.

This guilt is not from God.

How true is that? God even rested on the seventh day. This guilt is my pride echoing the words of society that if you are not contributing or producing something tangible, then you are nothing. But God did not create us to be robots. For so long, my identity has been in my output and achievement, not in Christ. She hit me with a left hook when she said,

“Busyness doesn’t allow us to experience God’s awesome interruption”.

I have kept myself so busy for so long that if God had something to say to me, if and when He had something better for me, I could not have heard it above the deafening noise of my schedule. I fended off the plagues of doubts about my beliefs and faith because I simply didn’t have time to process them. Now, in this time of my life, I am falling in love with Christ all over again as He eliminates those doubts and renews my soul. I am ecstatic about the ability to pursue passions that He has given me.

I love the illustration that trying to do it your way is like constantly wearing a candy necklace, when God has a string of pearls for you. (Some may prefer candy, but you get the picture). Without realizing it was happening, He took everything from me that I thought defined me, and instead gave me joy. 

I do not know what is next. I don’t know what these next few months consist of until I receive my approval from the State Board (and from God) to pursue nursing. Maybe I will be working as a barista again in the local coffee shop while I wait. Maybe God will use me to make a difference in someone’s life, through a different avenue than nursing. Maybe I will make lifelong friends or maybe I will discover a new favorite running trail. I am such a control-freak, but what a blessing that at this moment nothing is in my control. What an even bigger blessing that God has this under control.

“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

Wishing you ineffable joy,

xo <3

Mack