We Are All Jonah (Part 1 on Jonah)

jonah_angry

“Seriously?? Nineveh???”

I’ve started this study on the book of Jonah. I’ve been a Christian my whole life and I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first time I’ve read the book in it’s entirety. When I came across this study I was like, “Blah, blah blah, 3 days in a fish (sure…), blah, blah, blah.” To me it was a kid book, a kid story. But something told me to watch the trailer for the study and he started talking about things like being a person of God yet not being loving (oh…), or only loving people that it is comfortable to love (eek…), and not having a true understanding of God’s love for us if we can judge who to love (oops…). Yeah, maybe this book was more than just a big fish story for kids.

Jonah was a prophet, he was a man of God. He probably quoted scripture and attended church regularly. But when God called him to go to Nineveh he was like, ‘Nah’. Nineveh was filled with people who loved war and who were sworn enemies of Jonah’s people. How many times have we done the same? ‘God, send me where you want me! Do with me what you need!” Then God calls us to do something even slightly uncomfortable and we are not so much into doing that whole ‘what God God called us to do’ thing anymore. Couldn’t I do your work in a place that I want with people that I am comfortable with? Seeing it written out like that is ugly!

One of the things Eric Mason (pastor and author of the study) says that I just can’t get out of my head is what if God loved us that way? What if He used our human system of judging and deeming who is and isn’t worthy of love. Ouch. I don’t want to live that way and I don’t want God to be that way. (Praise be that He is not!).  God loves us. Period. You, too. Right now. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, where ever you have been. When Jesus died on the cross it was for everyone, everywhere. Even if you curse His name until the day you die, He loves you.

It’s comforting for me to know that I am loved for who I am, right where I am. Imagine how we could make the whole world feel if we treated everyone that way? Anyone you meet, you can make them feel loved and valued. Not just the people who make it easy or comfortable: everyone. Try it. As you go about your day and interact with all different types of people, try to look at them like Go, does. Treat everyone as if they matter and are loved and have value because they do.

More to come about Jonah…..I could write a dang book!

 

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On FOMO and Pushing Your Kids

My daughter decided not to do theatre camp this summer. No weeks of day long rehearsals, costume fittings, dress rehearsals, or final bows. All I can think is what if this was the play she needed to do to land a main stage show? What if this was the play that was going to ignite a real love of theatre? What if? What if? Girl is 8 years old and she could honestly not care less about any of these things. She has a busy summer with dance and she didn’t want to commit. Easy peasy. Decision made. It’s ME who is dwelling on the ‘what ifs’, not her.  I know in my own logical mind that her not playing an Oompa Loompa this summer in a kid’s musical is not really going to effect her future in any way, but my nonsense mom brain always kicks into over drive and I get a wicked case of FOMO: fear of missing out.

Parenting is hard. Yeah, I could just leave it at that. Or I could write 100 posts about 1,000 different ways it’s hard but this time  I want to talk about pushing your kids. It’s such a fine line.  On one hand, if you know your kids loves something and/or does well at it, you definitely want to encourage them to do that activity, On the other hand, pushing too hard and making them do too much could have the opposite effect and they could pull away from it. But then that begs to question, would that be such a bad thing? Is it really going to matter in the long run if they don’t take that 6th hour of dance during the week or get on that travel basketball team? Are you molding your kid into what you want them to be or are you  helping them to enjoy life and find things they love to do? Is your kid in piano lessons because you want them to go to Juilliard and be a world famous pianist? Or is it because you want them to do well at something they enjoy? It’s a tough call. Everyone thinks their own kid is amazing and in their own ways they are.  I think, as with all things in life, you need to look at your ‘why’. Why are you pushing?

So our summer will be just a touch more relaxed. I can mark one place off of all the running we do. My daughter will thrive in dance and not give a second thought to the summer theatre camp. I’m going to do my best to do the same. As parents, we should be trying to help our kids become the best people they can be and not trying to force them into a mold that we have created.

It’s Supposed to Be Hard

I can count on one….uh….finger the times I have literally, audibly heard God’s voice. I’ve been moved by Him, felt His presence,  and have had Him place ideas or thoughts on my heart but his actual voice? Once. And it was enough to shake me to my core. Honestly, it happened not that long ago during a time in my life where I was feeling quite pitiful about myself and my situation.  It was like God knew he needed to do something drastic to pull me out of it.

It was a perfect storm of life’s difficulties. My job as a Title 1 public school nurse was wearing on me. It’s hard to day in and day out see and hear some of the things that I do. You go from thinking you can save the world to thinking this world is a terrible place where bad things happen to good kids. Usually I am able to stay positive and know that I’m making at least a small difference but I was super down about all of it at this time. I was questioning how long I could subject myself to this.

Add to that my health. That elephant in the room that is just always there, looming, waiting to ruin everything. I was feeling annoyed about being sick. The medications I was taking for my psoriatic arthritis seemed to make me feel just as bad as not taking any at all. I hurt all the time, I was tired all the time, and I was quite frankly sick of being sick. I was questioning how I was going to spend the rest of my life feeling this way.

I was also feeling like a failure at home. My job was to pour myself into children all day so when I got home to my own I was short with them. I found myself getting annoyed at the smallest things they would do. My health made it nearly impossible for me to keep up with laundry and cleaning. I was annoyed that the house was a cluster and even more annoyed that I was physically unable to do anything about it.  Sure, the kids and the hubs helped but then I felt even worse for just lying around while they did everything.

As you can see, I was feeling pretty dang sorry for myself! I was at work one afternoon and decided to put on a clip of the new Bible study on Jonah I was going to be starting in a month or so. As I was listening to it and tidying up around my clinic I heard it. It was a voice as plain as day, as if it was from someone standing right in the room with me: “It’s supposed to be hard” is what He said. I felt every single hair on my body stand up and it felt like electricity was running through me. I knew it was God and I knew He was right. No where in the Bible does it ever say life is going to be peachy keen and easy. No where does it say that since I follow Jesus everything in my life is going to be amazing. What it does say though it that we have this hope that anchors our soul in Jesus. So I can cling to Him knowing that there is hope I am making a difference to these students of mine, there is hope that I will feel better one day, there is hope that I can get the laundry 8 people totally and completely caught up. He gave me these things in my life because He knew I could handle it. And when I lean on Him, I know I can.

 

A Picture Perfect Summer Break

It that’s what you are hear to read about or get ideas about, I suggest you move right along!

As a school nurse, having summers off with my kids is pretty dang awesome. No alarms to set, no sitters to find, no clothes to change out of pajamas into. Not going to lie, it rocks! The kids are confused as to why dad has to work all summer. To which he responds, “I’m an adult with a normal job.” Whatevs, dude! So am I!

I always have visions of bubble stations, library visits, fort building and the like. But what I usually get it yelling at dogs, fighting children, and all food in the house being eaten in one day. Where are the Pinterest posts about that?

I finally figured out that the reason I get frustrated is because I’m trying to force us into a mold that we are just never going to fit into. My home is a constant state of controlled chaos, there is no time for sidewalk chalk stencils! And you know what? That’s ok! We laugh, we play in the yard, we go to the gas station for drinks, the kids help me with my jewelry business, we sleep in, and we stay up late. It’s low key, it’s unorganized, and it’s fun. I honestly cherish these times I have with my kids where we are just lounging around the house being us.

To the moms and dads rocking the homemade popsicles and summer crafts: more power to you! If that is where you thrive and what you enjoy then keep on keepin’ on. But if you are like me and this post rings true for you, don’t feel bad. Your kids are going to remember having fun no matter what!

Rodzina

Every month or so, sometimes more often, the doorbell rings and suddenly my house is flooded with life. 15+ people straggle in bearing drinks, snack, and board games. We laugh, we sing epic renditions of various 60s/70s/80s/90s songs (my aunts sing a haunting version of ‘One Tin Soldier’), we eat, occasionally we make it clear through whatever game we set up, and we just enjoy each other’s company. These are some of my very favorite people on Earth and they also just happen to be my family.

Growing up I never realized that having such a close tight knit family was an oddity. It’s just what we did. Holidays, birthdays, or anytime were an excuse to all get together and hang out. It wasn’t until I started dating my now husband that it was brought to my attention. “Um, you guys really spend a LOT of time together.”  I thought he was strange for NOT spending a ton of time with his. You mean you guys DON’T get together to watch the Jerry Lewis telethon as a family?

The older I get the more I realize what a true gift my family is to me. I know not everyone is so lucky to have that. They have strained or toxic relationships with the people they call family. Others simply don’t have time or just don’t make the time to spend with their own families. Over the years, various members have moved away. We are in Chicago, Atlanta, and Texas now but when the stars align and we all get together it is just like old times. I pray that we are instilling in the generation coming up behind us this special family bond. I see it already in the way my oldest son enjoys his cousins. I see it when my kids pass up going out with friends to stay in and hang with the fam. Several of the guys in my family got family tattoos. My uncle’s says ‘rodzina’, it means ‘family’ in Polish. I’m so thankful for my rodzina.

Marry the Geek, Ladies & Gents

When I was a freshman in high school, there was this guy in my first hour English class who would always, always get nose bleeds. Seriously, always, Like, are you ok, guy? I can see him standing there in his giant JNCO jeans and some ridiculous band shirt. I also started to notice how he was always making the people around him laugh; not at him but with him. We started just making some friendly small talk that year. We ended up having English together the next couple years as well. We joked about how it was our thing to have English together. Oh, one more thing about this guy, we are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this June.

I love that we built a true friendship with each other over those years before we started dating our senior year. We talked on the phone one night the September of our Senior year for hours. We hit on everything from family, to religion, to our dreams for the future. I make no exaggeration when I say that after that conversation, we both knew we would be getting married to each other one day. It was as sure and definite a thing as I have ever felt. I felt it then and I felt it now: a comfort and a safety with him.  Plus, he is super cute so that doesn’t hurt. 

We have gone through some tough stuff over the years: job loss, bankruptcy, other dumb assery of our own doing. But through it all, we have always had each other. He truly is my best friend, as cheesy as it sounds. When I have a bad day (or a good day), I cannot wait to tell him all about it. When he is gone, I look forward to him coming home. I flat out enjoy spending time with him. He makes me laugh every day, even when I don’t want to. He tells me I’m beautiful and I believe him. I can be my true self around him, and him with me. He calls me on my bull crap yet goes along with my pie in the sky plans and ideas. Plus, he is super cute so that doesn’t hurt.

I am truly thankful to have him in my life and I love him even more now than I did 20 years ago when we met. I look forward to what God has in store for us for the next part of our life. I hope we are showing our kids what a good marriage looks like: laughter, friendship, kissing in front of the kids to make them gag, and just enjoying our time together. He is amazing to me. Plus, he is super cute so that doesn’t hurt.

 

 

The Things Nurses Carry

One time I had to take care of a white supremacist with a huge swastika tattoo on his arm because I was the only white person working on the floor that night and he wouldn’t let anyone else in his room.

Another time I caught a medication error committed by another nurse on a heparin drip, but it still did not save the woman. The patient had told me the previous shift that I made her feel safe.

Another time a women in the throes of stage 4 cancer talked to me about wanting to kill herself but she didn’t want her kids to fight over her life insurance money as they had disappeared when she got the diagnosis.

Once a huge, burly confused mental health patient pushed me as hard as he could up against a wall to get me out of the way so he could leave the room.

I got sucker punched right in the jaw by a little old lady who was not a fan of me needing to re-start her blown IV.

I was in the room when a woman received her last rites, surrounded by her entire family.

I’ve called families at 2am telling them it might be a good idea to come out to the hospital, like, soon if they want to see them while they are still living.

I got a call from employee health one time after a shift saying, “Oh by the way, that patient you took care of has bacterial meningitis and they weren’t in isolation. Here is what to watch for…”

That’s some heavy stuff to carry with you. I could go on and on. These are just some of the stories of my nursing career that stick out to me. Not to even mention all the new little pieces of my heart that I carry since becoming a school nurse. You could talk to any nurse of any age in any field and they could give you a run down just like this. We see, hear, and do things that others cannot even imagine. We are invited into the sacred places in these people’s live where they are most vulnerable.  We place our own mental and emotional and even physical heath on the line to step in and do for others what no one else will do. We see people at their worst, but we also see them at their best.

I’m one of those people who considers being a nurse a true calling and gift from God. It’s not just something I decided to do, it was something I was born and molded to do. I was pulled into it by a deep seeded need to help other people. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Next time you talk to a nurse, remember that they carry lots of heavy things in those hearts and minds of theirs.

 

 

Closing Time

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Closing Time, Semisonic

I know it’s just a cheesy line from a 90s pop song but it has always just really struck me how poignant it is. It always ‘hits me right in the feels’ as they say. How true as we march through the milestones of life that we are continually ending something that once began to start something new.

It’s a season of big change here in our house. It feels like a major turning point in our family life. The ‘baby’ is having his last day of preschool today. Hope he doesn’t read this blog because he will adamantly tell you that he is NOT a baby, thank you very much! For the past 14 years there has been at least one kiddo who was at home: a baby, a toddler, a preschooler. Now that is all going to change. All of them are school age. Woah. How did that happen? It seemed like we would always have a little one at home.

Add to that the twins starting middle school. Such a time of growing up and finding who you are. I met some of my longest and truest friends in middle school. I’m excited for them to get to experience all of that and find what it is they love and care about. They have matured so much recently and, although I still see those tiny little blonde haired boys when I look at them, I know they are becoming young men before my eyes.

Also the boy who made me a momma is going to high school this year. High School. I met my husband, their dad, my freshman year of high school. It’s hard to think of him as being that old. He has drum line try outs this week. I vividly remember my freshman year drum line try outs and how nervous I was and, in a flash, now my own son is there. These next four years are going to be some of the most memorable (good or bad) of his life.

Life is weird. The passage of time is inevitable and nothing new to anyone but it is SO different when you are the one experiencing all the passage of time. Lots of people have kids starting school and hitting milestones this year. I see them and hear about them and think “yup”. But when it is my own family, who I have poured my life into, it is just so strange to see the hours/minutes/days slipping through your fingers. So here is to endings and new beginnings.

6.5, But Who Is Counting?

6 1/2.  Six and one half. We have 6.5 days until school is out for the summer. Not that I’m counting down or anything. If you have ever questioned why school staff and teachers get the summer off then you have never worked in a school. It is physically, mentally,emotionally, and spiritually draining to be on and 100% for all these kiddos every single day. And we give and we give and we give more than 100% of ourselves every single day. We do it because we love it though and we love these kids. It really does become like a little family amongst the staff and students. We spend so much time together through the highest highs and the lowest lows. It’s a privilege to get to be in these kid’s lives and to care for them as their nurse.

Don’t get me wrong, I will miss these kids immensely over the summer. I will worry and fret about them and wonder what they are up to and pray that they are safe.  But I need the time off to recharge my batteries, step away from it all for a while, and come back ready to roll in August. And believe me, come August, I’ll be ready!

Fourteen

My oldest son turns 14 today. How on Earth is that even possible? I mean, yes, I know how time and age progression works but how did it go so fast? When you have a baby people always tell you that it is going to go by fast but you don’t really fully understand that until you are living it. If I close my eyes I can still vividly remember them putting him in my arms after he was born and just being in awe. That feels like it happened 2 seconds ago. Seriously. I blinked and we went from diapers and blankies to high school and hormones. It’s a joy to watch him grow up and experience new things, really it is. It’s like getting to experience life a second time though his eyes. It is bittersweet in the truest sense of the word.

The other weird thing is to think that I have been a mom for 14 years now. I figured at this point I’d probably have this whole parenting gig figured out. Not the case at all, friends! Each new stage of life brings a whole new set of “I don’t have any idea what I’m doing” moments as a mom. The troubles of sleeping through the night or potty training have been replaced with hurt feelings and trying to fit in. His problems used to be so easy to fix (in hind sight) and now I just have to sit on the sidelines, guide him, and pray. Being a mom is harder than ever the older he gets, but more rewarding as well as he makes decisions and finds his way as a young man.

So for you mommas sitting there holding your 4 month old or 4 year old, trust me when I say that it DOES go fast. Embrace each stage and enjoy it as much as you can. But also recognizing that it’s hard and that’s ok and that you won’t ever really feel like you know what you are doing but that’s ok too. You love them and they love you and that can get you through a lot.