Monterey, CA- Big Sur Marathon! 

I am beyond pumped to share this post about the epic marathon weekend! I didn’t mention the marathon too much on my blog leading up to it because I didn’t know if I would be able to run the race with the new job’s schedule (we work a ton of weekends). BUT I was able to get race day off and lemme tell ya, I’m forever grateful for the beautiful memories that elapsed in that small time frame. I needed this weekend too- as ya’ll know I’ve never been more exhausted or stressed physically and emotionally than this last month-so this was pure therapy.

Last minute my mom (Momma Jill) arranged to fly in for the weekend since DJ couldn’t go to the marathon with his work schedule. However, the day before she flew out she was in the hospital diagnosed with a fractured foot. I insisted  that I would be fine going alone, but I’m selfishly pretty darn glad she was adamant about coming! After all, she is my good luck charm at races! She is one tough cookie, I tell ya what. (shhhhh she isn’t wearing her boot in a lot of pictures- I may not have been the best nurse by allowing that one).

When she arrived Friday evening we headed to Rootstock Wine Bar on Main Street Cupertino.

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We ordered some bruschetta to share and a couple glasses of wine. The last time she was here, Main Street Cupertino was still entirely under construction. She was blown away by how much it had evolved! We stopped into 85-degree bakery to visually digest the exotic, massive, and drool-worthy desserts before heading back to the apartment. I will try the calamari ink roll one of these days!

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We were both pooped and fell asleep pretty early (after some ice cream, of course). DJ had some time in the morning before he had to head into work so we went to Bill’s. Surprise, surprise! It’s basically becoming a weekly tradition. You can read all my reviews about it here, here, or here.

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After a fantastic breakfast, DJ zipped to work and we began our trek to Monterey for the marathon!!!! (I kept thinking back to my and DJ’s our anniversary celebration and it made me miss him lots! During the actual race I passed the place we stayed which was pretty fun).

 

One of my favorite parts about races is the Expo! There is always an exorbitant amount of energy and excitement (plus the SWAG is pretty great too).

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This expo was pretty small, held at the Portola Hotel and Spa. There were limited vendors, but with the expo’s location there was plenty to enjoy outside anyway. I laughed because in typical Northern California style they had wine samples rather than the CLIF Bar samples you would see at most! For those that want to run this marathon in the future, make sure you stop by the Expo to pick up your Bib #, a bus ticket for the hotel you are staying to the race starting line (there is no access otherwise), and your T-shirt, of course!

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After strolling the expo, my mom and I walked around downtown Old Monterey. This town is so sleepy and quaint, even with all the commotion of the race.

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We decided to follow this sign to go to the water. We were quickly drawn into the downtown boardwalk with colorful storefronts, tourist landmarks, and each passing restaurant passing out samples of their individualized “claim-to-fame” recipe of clam chowder. My mom and I sampled all of them and were shocked at, first, how delicious they all were, and second, how different each one tasted!

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I hadn’t seen the show Big Little Lies at this point, but my friend, Kelsey, is obsessed. I started watching it this week with a free month HBO trial and cannot stop. It’s so good.

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They call me ‘The Bird Whisperer’ in these parts

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Around 3 pm we were able to check into the hotel we were staying for the evening- Monterey Tides. I found this place pretty last minute (with not being SURtain if I could make the race) and chose it because it was one of the cheapest I could find on a booking site. We were blown away by how gorgeous this place was- I kept thinking there was some mix up because this honestly underpriced!

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The hotel attendant said that it may be a couple minutes, so we decided to enjoy some drinks while overlooking the sparkling Monterey waters. My mom and I even saw our first whale!!! It was quite SURendipitious that we were staying at this majestic place!

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The room was super nice with a beachy feel- Definitely what you would expect from a place named “Monterey Tides”.

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After dropping our stuff off it was time to head to dinner. In order to not fight driving and parking, we decided to uber to the famous Mediterranean Oasis, Epsilon.

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From the decor, to the friendly staff, to the unbeatable Greek cuisine- this place was superb on every.single. level.

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ATTENTION ALL CARB LOVERS: You need to hear this. I was fascinated with their bread and dip combo. The waitress explained the way they make their dip is by actually putting sourdough bread into a food processor with olive oil, garlic, and salt (perhaps a few other secret ingredients too). Right before she walked away she said, “Just dip that bread into that bread!”. I may have to try making this at home. Talk about a fantastic pre-race carb-load meal!

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And their hummus…. hands down, no questions asked- the BEST hummus I have ever had. My mom took the first bite and I could tell by the look on her face that it was going to be just that. It was smooth and creamy- absolute perfection.

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And whenever there is octopus on the menu……

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Marco Prime’s is still forever my favorite, but this was satiating. It had a grilled flavor and almost tasted like steak. MMMM mm.

We also had to delve into their greek salad, because duh

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My mom and I split the vegetarian combo plate. Combo plates were created for the indecisive individuals in this world, like myself, so I was ecstatic to see everything we were wanting to try coming on one plate. It had imam byaldi (the “priest fainted” vegetarian eggplant dish), falafel, and dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves with rice and herbs). It all surpassed any greek food I have ever had, but the eggplant dish was particularly out of this world!

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And one can never end a mediterranean feast without baklava. Ya’ll know I am a strong believer on having a sugar-laden dessert the night before a race. Good Heavens, I can’t even explain…

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We headed back to the hotel to watch the peaceful, perfect sunset.

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We were in bed by 8:30 pm and fell asleep almost instantly.

3:30 AM my alarm went off and it was time to race! I was giddy and energized. I downed a cup of coffee and grabbed my No-Cow bar and Boom Chicka pop bag for the bus ride to the race. My mom drove me to the drop off point to pick up the bus shuttle at Embassy Suites (only a couple miles from Monterey Tides).

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The bus ride was about forty-five minutes- 30 miles south from Embassy Suites to the starting line. The race was a straight shot back north for 26.2 miles. I made some friends during the ride, everyone swapped race stories, goal times, jobs, and hometowns. The camaraderie of the Big Sur runners was unlike other races I have been. We laughed about the fact that this bus ride felt super long and yet we were about to be retracing the trek in just a couple hours. The scenery was kept secret by the dark nightly veil of mother nature, so even if you tried to get a peak of the views out the bus window all you could see was piercing black.

When we finally arrived, we still had about a mile and a half walk to the start. I had no clue where I was, but I just followed the masses of people as they unloaded off the buses.

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Finally! The starting line came into view.

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It was crowded. I get it- the forest isn’t exactly conducive to ten-million porta-potties and 4,000 people, but holy smokes, I really felt like a sardine!

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People lined the paths with coffee in one hand and a banana in the other. I love races for the people too- racing brings together all types. #peoplewatching

They provided fruit, coffee, tea, and water at varying stations around the starting line. They also have a truck for you to drop your bag with warm up clothes or anything else you need before the race that they then drive to the finish line. I loved this system!!! You just put a sticker provided with your bib number in the bag. After the race it was clear where to pick up your belongings and overall a super smooth process.

Now, if you are a runner, you know the STRUGGLE of trying to time the bathroom appropriately with the start time. You don’t want to go too early, but you don’t want to be anxiously waiting too long when everyone else is lined up at the start.

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And then it was time to begin!!! My heart swelled with excitement, my stomach filled with butterflies, and after taking the last couple days off running I was biting at the bit to get going. Considering I hadn’t trained much for this one compared to my other marathons I was hoping to at least finish without an injury.

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We started out in three separate waves, I ran in the second; the weather was pleasantly cool and the air smelled like pine and cinnamon. If there wasn’t enough adrenaline already, Highway One greeted us with the most intoxicating views at every turn. Each picturesque scene of the landscape had a way of taking your breath away while simultaneously giving you a second wind.

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I’m quite SURtain this is one of the most magnificent places that exists on planet earth.

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During these races is when I feel most myself, where I feel that all is right in the world, and all my cares dissipate with every step.

We embarked the renowned Big Sur bridge at the halfway mark .

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They even had a pianist playing whimsical tunes dressed in full performance garb!

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Around mile 15 I like to start using Gu Gel (they provide it twice during the race). I have half a packet at about mile 15, 18, 22, and then 24. It works!

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To avoid the head winds, I drafted a few different people throughout the race. Drafting works well, but you have to be pretty secretive about it, or you’ll creep the person you are following the heck out. Let’s chat if you’ve never heard of this. It’s essential for this race and saves SO much energy!

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YesSUR!

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At mile 23 they handed out the best strawberries I have ever had. It was similar to eating pure sugar! I wish I had snagged a picture!

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All done!

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Thank you, Aunt Terry, for the congratulatory beads all the way from New Orleans!!!!

Race Results!

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This was far off my PR of 3:38, but they say to add 20 minutes to your PR time with how challenging the course is (13th most challenging in the world), so I’ll take it. Plus without training for it and the stops for photo ops, I was happy to break 4 hours!

At the end of the race they handed out boxes of muffins, pretzels, cookies, minestrone soup and Sierra Nevada Beer. After races I’m not very hungry for about an hour- so we walked around a bit, basked in the sun, and then decided to head out. At this point I decided I was starting to feel my stomach growl. Warning: Once the post-marathon hunger begins, it’s insatiable for about three days!

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My mom suggested we go back to the hotel we stayed at the night before for Brunch (it was only about 11 am at this point!). She had breakfast there in the morning after doing yoga and said they had a great menu.

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She did not lead us astray! Multigrain avocado toast with poached eggs and a watermelon feta salad helped refuel the carbs, protein, and was still light enough to not upset my somewhat turbulent stomach.

And of course, mimosas are necessary after every long race.

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We headed back to the apartment and eagerly awaited DJ to come home so we could go out for a Mother’s Day dinner, since we wouldn’t actually be able to celebrate on the day of!

I was SURprised that I was actually feeling pretty decent after the race. I usually am zonked out for about two days after, but I had that adrenaline still running through my veins!

We decided to go to LB Steakhouse on the Row. I had never been, but DJ said it was delish. We looked over the menu and both agreed it looked like a great place to dine!

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I’ve walked past LB a trillion times while on the row, and their faux cow skin lined chairs always grab my eyes!

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Isn’t she lovely?!

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My love ❤

We started with their Spanish octopus, which seemed harmless, until Mama J took a big bite of that pepper right on top…

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Her face went from surprise to a twisted, tortured expression in seconds. She was not just startled by the spiciness of the pepper, but rather in literal pain. I was confused by her reaction because she loves spicy food and can tolerate spice more than most people. (We ask for the “hot” food at Indian restaurants- if that gives you an idea). She flagged down the waiter and could barely talk. She reached for anything on the table to calm the fire overwhelming her mouth. He brought out milk and she said it was helping. I felt horrible, and jokingly said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”. I was also so confused how something they could serve could be that horrendously spicy. I picked up what was left of the pepper and out of curiosity touched it to my tongue. The small portion that I had touched to my tongue felt as though it blistered my tongue (and she ate the ENTIRE pepper). I can do spice with the rest of them, and this was not edible. It turned out there was a mix up- the restaurant meant to order the sweet haberneros, but rather served one of the hottest variations in the world. Let’s just say, this was something we laughed and literally cried about. I think I will forever have trust issues with peppers after this experience.

But the rest of the octopus was great! It sorta reminded me of pasta salad!

DJ ordered lobster bisque- not our favorite (‘Cause naturally I stole a couple sips), but it was still good.

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My mom ordered the seared scallops with misty artichokes and sweet harvest orange butter. I swapped her some of my salmon for a scallop (we classy), and not kidding- one of the greatest scallops ever. I think the only ones I have personally had that has topped it were Farallon’s!

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Steak and appropriately spicy pepper for Deeeej.

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Salmon for me. This really hit the spot. The salmon was perfection and nearly melted in my mouth.

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After dinner, well I guess more during dinner, we decided Cheesecake Factory’s cheesecake sounded like a perfect finish to a great weekend. We headed across the street and all put in our orders for cheesecake to go- Original for Mama J., Oreo Dream Xtreme for DJ, and Chocolate Hazelnut for myself. I was feeling adventurous and for some reason this flavor sounded so good. I can officially say it may be my new favorite. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more love! It has such a nice moosey texture mixed with the fudgey chocolate and sprinkles of coated hazelnut. I will be getting this one again!

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After savoring our Cheesecake, we headed to sleep. Monday, Mom J. had to leave at 4 am for the airport, and I was up at 5 for work. I was supposed to have Tuesday off (which I was looking forward to rest my legs), but I ended up having to work Monday-Wednesday. I think it’s by the grace of God I SURvived because I do not know how I made it through those shifts at work!

But I do have to mention- I worked with lumbar drains this week and it was one of my favorite days yet. I am getting more in the groove of actually being a neuroSURgical nurse, and while the learning curve is steeper than the hills of Big Sur, I am feeling more competent. I also passed the EKG exam I have been studying for the last couple weeks!!!! Hence, I was able to care for my first tele patient this week and loved it! This also means I am officially done studying in all my free time and I can catch up on your blogs- watch out- I’m about to blow up ya’lls notifications and I cannot wait… I can’t thank you all for your encouragement through this crazy adjustment in life.

Last- if anyone has any questions about the race feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I know lots of you are runners!

Oh, oh, oh! AND major congratulations to my other blog ladies- Tara at Runandlivehappy and Taralynn at SimplyTaralynn for both annihilating their half marathons!!!! ❤

Blog Birthdays in May:

Kimberlee at anotetohugette

Katy at katyslifestory

I absolutely adore these two lovely ladies. Their writing and stories are inspirational, and they have the kindest hearts. I hope you two have wonderful birthdays this month!

xo ❤

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Hanging on by a Med

GOOOOD MORNING!!! 

Pull up a chair, let’s have a quick chat over some morning toast and coffee!

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Yes, yes- quite different from my strawberries and cream toast I have each morning. Instead of strawberries I used bananas since I was having calf cramps last night and added Evoke muesli for a little crunchy pizzzazzz.

Currently, I am sitting at a Starbucks before work trying to finish up this post (it’s a classroom day so I slept in until 5:30!). Unfortunately, I had to betray Peet’s because it’s further than the Bucks. Buttt you all know where my loyalty resides.

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I also cracked up how they spelled my name. He didn’t even attempt the ending. He just gave up. LOL

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Also…… Sprouts has another bag….

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I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. What do you guys think? DJ says I have far too many grocery bags already…. but…….. I don’t have THIS bag. Help me justify it, please!

So let’s see…. last week I worked Wednesday- Sunday every day. It was the first time I worked all through the weekend and it was a bit trippy! (When I was off Mon/Tues, everyone else was heading back to work!).

DJ had off and spent time with his family over the weekend. I’m so glad he had that time but also quite jealous- I miss everyone so much!! Thursday was technically “off” and since I was not required to actually go to the hospital, I stayed cozied up in my home and got a ton of studying done for EKGs (with the occasion Fine Cooking skimmin’ break- gotta whet those cooking ideas!).

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I do have to mention Saturday though- I had a legitimate anxiety attack at work. I have only had maybe three full on attacks in my life- and this was one of the worst. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon and I hadn’t had a chance to take my lunch, so I bet low blood sugar catapulted the issue. I think it was just a rough moment too.. I am thoroughly convinced this is the most difficult/stressful time of my life, perhaps ever, but the support is phenomenal so I know (I hope) I can make it through. Some people drop out of the program at the six month program- I am just praying I make it through. I will give it my all. God wouldn’t call me here if he didn’t have plans.

Also- although It was a rough day, but the next day was 100% better. I’m finding that for every bad day there will be a good day. My preceptor told me I am right where I need to be- I am just unfairly hard on myself and I don’t forgive myself very easily (even for the smallest mistakes). This whole journey is bringing some serious self-reflection to the surface. I come home, even from good days, and the wheels just turn, turn, turn. I can’t turn my mind off. I wake up in hot sweats and start thinking about things I may have forgot to chart, conversations, teaching I may have accidentally omitted, etc. I have a system that works, and my to-do lists, but as a new grad, it’s hard to cover every single base (hence the preceptorship). I’ll be find one moment and then my heart is racing over these thoughts that creep up. I feel better once I’m in the hospital though… it’s the down time- I drive myself nuts!

But in those moments I try to celebrate the small victories: The family who thanked me, the patient who told me I was their favorite nurse (seriously melted my heart), advocating for my patient and the doctor taking my thoughts into account, becoming more comfortable with my skills….. there are victories and rather than focusing so much on my mistakes and failures, I have to choose to celebrate the victories.

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I pray, I breathe, I am reminded that this is normal.

I actually didn’t intend to share that. But sometimes ya just start writing and things come out!

Anywho, this week was a tapering week for running, so I had some nice, easy leisure runs outside. When I get stressed out I like to run, run, run……hence, tapering this week was hard for me!!! I was craving long runs- but had to limit myself. However, the weather was GORGEOUS, and those short spurts outside helped elevate my spirits for sure!

img_4069-1img_4076-1img_4075-1img_4061-1DJ and I both had Monday off. I studied most of the day and DJ caught up on some MUCH needed sleep. We deemed Monday night a date night! I was craving sushi- needing some serious comfort food!

We decided to try Pacific Catch in Campbell.

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^^ I love incorporating parts of my “business casual” shopping into my everyday outfits, like these heels!

When we sat down, our waitress was a doll and brought us out samples of Hawaiian Poke! I don’t think I’ve ever had poke, but it was very tasty!

DJ ordered their fish tacos and said they were pretty decent!

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I tried their inside out roll (spicy tuna over California roll). It was ok- it was fine enough, but there is WAY better sushi in other places in the area. But overall, it was a fun place and still a tasty experience.

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I also loved how themed-out the restaurant was. They had these “sea glass” bottles as water serving bottles—–it was funny though because DJ and I thought everyone was drinking Grey Goose vodka when we walked in, lol.

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They even used the bottles as hanging light fixtures!

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We then went to Santana Row, walked around a while, and then stopped by Safeway for the necessities for a good, chill date night! (Ice cream was already at home, of course ;)). Also- this wine was on sale and I’ve never tried it before. It’s called BV Coastal Estates and man oh man- it is good!

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I was feeling pretty stressed out on Tuesday. I went for a run in the morning and DJ said he was craving some good pancakes. After some research, he found that Uncle-John’s Pancake House in Campbell was supposed to be some of the best! We decided to give it a go!

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We both LOVED the whole ambiance- very 50/60s diner-esque feel (which makes sense considering they started the restaurant chain in 1958!!!!). I’m sure it’s been renovated since- it was pristinely clean and the staff were jovial and welcoming!

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Their coffee was the BOMB!

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I ordered their egg white veggie omelette (yum!), and DJ, of course, ordered their pancakes with a side of eggs and bacon.

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The verdict: Very good pancakes, but not the best. Now, if you like somewhat fluffier pancakes, you would love them! DJ loves the thin with the crispy buttery-caramelized outside. (He claims The Bellagio in Las Vegas are setting the standard).

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The rest of the day I studied my EKGs and prepped for the rest of the meals for the week. From monopoly, I had $2.00 off a large deli roasted chicken, so I grabbed that for DJ. I also made some calrose rice, broccoli, and bread that he could throw onto a plate in the evenings (if he was back for dinner). I stocked up on sweet potato and salad ingredients, as well as this cauliflower lemon piccata which I have been craving lately! It has cauliflower steak, capers, shallots, lemon juice, and is cooked in white wine. I add a bit of basil on top because I think it complements the lemon well!

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The last two nights DJ was home earlier than expected! I was super happy I could get a hug in before hitting the hay.

Wednesday until now has been a non-stop whirlwind. BUT tonight my mom flies in TONIGHT for the marathon on Sunday! WOOHOO!!!!! I can hardly wait.

Oh and below is a snap shot of a breath-taking view I had on the way to work. It’s hard getting up at 4 or 5 almost everyday, but the fact that the sun is coming up earlier and setting later has been helping immensely!

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Blog Birthdays: 

Happy Birthday to Sijo from Sijo Punathil Photography on April 30th!

He has some of the most enthralling, captivating photography I have ever seen (I hyperlinked one of my favorites above!). I hope your birthday is spectacular, Sijo!

Hope everyone has the best weekend…. and before I go I just must remind you…..

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If you don’t get the reference, I’m probably too old.

xo ❤

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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 ❤

Mack