looking back at 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back it's crazy to think that 2012 has already come and gone.
Here's  a short recap of this year.

January: This month I began my last semester of nursing school with my practicum being in the Trauma Unit at Vanderbilt. School was busier than ever with a clinical in the SICU and my practicum going at the same time. The end of January, Andrew and I were blessed to travel to South Carolina's TNT and got to spend time with all of our friends from this district and we loved staying with the McAdory Family.

February: This by far was one of the busiest months of the year. I continued my practicum hours as the hospital and began to understand just how treacherous NCLEX questions and studying for my boards really was. This month Andrew and I for the first time went to the Nashville Symphony. I came home to Florida for Sonfest, and I finally got to meet and welcome into the world my good friends' son Griffin, who was born in January! 

March: This month was a time where I was ready to call it quits with school. Senioritis had never been so bad. I somehow decided  that I wanted to apply for graduate school at UCF and I did. Spring break involved a few days in Vero at home and then a few days back in Nashville with a trip to Gatlinburg with Andrew. Andrew and I celebrated one year of being together (just one of many to come). I finished my last care plan of nursing school this month, this was a date to mark in the books!

April: This month was over and gone before I knew it. April was the month where the majority of things on my "check list" for school were finally complete and marked off. The beginning of April was a trip home for me to participate in the Easter production we do at home. I'm always up for a chance to travel. TNT (top nazarene talent) is a big event held on Trevecca's campus that happened this month, and what a sweet time it is, as our friends from all over the Southeast region come into town. A busy month no doubt, but full of sweet memories and the satisfaction of accomplishing goals I had worked towards all semester. At the end of this month I got accepted into UCF's DNP (doctorate of nurse practice program) to be a Family Nurse Practitioner. 

May: The most bittersweet month of the year for me. A long awaited graduation and Pinning ceremony took place. I walked across the stage and couldn't help but thank God for everything He gave me in my four years at Trevecca. A great few weeks of celebration it was such a special time. I couldn't believe it was already over. This month was so great, I almost forgot I had minor knee surgery this month too. I flew home for a few weeks, had my surgery, had a graduation party, then headed back to Nashville for my last few weeks.

June: The NCLEX and I became rather clos as I felt like studying and doing practice questions was how I spent all of my time. I took my boards and found out I passed two days later. Longest 89 questions of my life. By far the proudest moment of my life, I literally cried. I soaked up every minute I could of Nashville these few weeks. I wondered what my life would be like in the coming months, and this by far was one of the hardest months of this year. At the end of June, I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to my home of four years and one of the best chapters of my life, and trusted God the best I could and said hello again to Florida.

July: This month was one where my faith was tested beyond what I ever was hoping for. This was the month of adjustments in every aspect of my life, living at home, figuring out what life for Andrew and I was like in Florida, trying to find a job, and just realizing all the changes that were coming my way. While I didn't appreciate it while I was in it, looking back, God's hand was in every thing that happened and he blessed Andrew with a job within the first few weeks home, and He was with me each minute of the days that seemed to last forever.

August: This was the month of "firsts" and new things. I got hired at Indian River Estates as a nurse and this job turned out to be a better fit than anything I could have imagined for myself. I began my first semester of Graduate School at UCF, and adjusting to both of these was a challenge. I got to go to Harry Potter world with my best friend and her family. Maybe one of the harder months, but this really was just the beginning of this new chapter in my life. 

September: This month was pretty uneventful. I turned a year older, spent my time studying, getting the hang of school and adjusting to being a new grad nurse. 

October: This month brought with it some excitement and things to look forward to. I started to get the hang of graduate school and work slowly got better. Writing papers for graduate school became my new past time, and at the end of this month, Andrew and I made a trip to Nashville to visit our friends. We had an incredible time and the fall weather was beautiful!

November: This month was busy as I was finishing up my third and final paper for my nursing theory class, work was in full swing, and I worked my first Holiday as a nurse. This month flew by and involved practices for our Christmas production along with a random trip to Universal with Andrew. I had more things to be thankful for this month than I could count. 

December: One of my favorite months of the year and it always goes by way too fast. I  finished my first semester of grad school with A's, got a busier schedule with work to make some money for the holidays, performed in our Church benefit concert for the Salvation Army,  took a last minute road trip to Colorado to be with my best friend, and 2 weeks later traveled to South Carolina to be with my Mom's side of the family after Christmas. This by far was the best present I got all year. A busy month, but it was wonderful! 

While these are just a few of the highlights of this past year, I can honestly say going into 2012 I had no idea what God had for my life and what direction I would be going once I graduated from Trevecca.
While this by no means has been an easy year with all the changes this year brought into my life, God has taught me so much about trusting Him and my faith has been challenged.

I have been so incredibly blessed with the love and support from family and friends. I've made new friendships, old ones have been restored, and God has slowly but surely been putting pieces of His plan for my life into place in His time.

I know I am undeserving of all that He has given me but I am so grateful for the many blessings I have and for all that God has entrusted me with.

While 2013 is full of unknowns, I am walking into the New Year knowing that the Lord is already there.

I look forward to all God has in store.

Happy New Year!

a long awaited trip

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ever since I was a little girl, Christmas has been a special time in our family.
I grew up loving to celebrate this season of  joy with family and all the traditions that come with it.
When I was 9 years old, my favorite person in the entire world went home to be with Jesus.
I can remember more about this Christmas than any other in my mind, and looking back it feels like it was yesterday.
December 27th marked 15 years since my grandmother has been gone, and I can say I'm not sure time heals everything.
Our family has not quite been the same since this happened but I have cherished the moments we have with our family since then.

I have heard countless stories from my Mom about her childhood memories with her Grandmother, Aunt, and Cousins. 
All such sweet memories and times she has cherished no doubt.
Life is busy, and schedules tend to keep us from spending time with the people we love but this year we got the chance to go visit my Mom's Aunt and cousins.

I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful this trip was.
I can't speak for my parents, but I can say that for a few days, I had a taste of something I have so been missing.

My Mom's Aunt, reminds me so so so much of my grandmother. She has such a big heart and being welcomed into her home is an understatement. I felt like one of her own.
I felt overwhelmed to even hear her voice and I cherished a hug from her more than she will ever know.

She doesn't know it yet, but someday when I have kids of my own, they will be making frequent visits to see her. 
My Mom and her cousins together were so fun to watch, and I loved hearing their stories and the laughs to follow.

I must say I grew up with similar traditions and homemade noodles were loved by everyone just like they are in our house. They were amazing.

 What happens when you get 20 of us together and do a gift exchange? Barry comes up with awesome ideas is what happens, and suddenly picking a gift is timed and the game is intense.
One thing I learned, I know where my mom gets her competitive spirit from.
Everyone in this family is athletic and competitive. 

 No doubt a night full of laughs and memories made. 

 I fell in love with this little guy, Zachary, who is about the coolest 5 year old I've met.
You never really know what He's gonna say and that's the best part.

 It might be a whole year before I forgive Cory for stealing the blanket I've been wanting from me. 
It really was so much fun and just a great time.
Again, I felt like I had been there my whole life and I cherish those memories.
Besides eating some really good food, I can say I've never gone out on the golf course for 18 holes in 34 degree weather, but it happened.
Watching 3 teams of 3 play against each other was sheer entertainment for me, and I'm not sure I could feel my hands or my feet the whole time. Thank God for handwarmers.

I so enjoyed getting to know everyone since it's literally been 'forever' since I've seen them.
I felt blessed to have the chance to share part of my story with some of the family, and to hear where they have been and some of their real life struggles.
Conversations were real and I am thankful for these 'new' relationships and for the encouragement I felt from them even in the short time we spent there.

As far as my cousins are concerned I had so much fun getting to spend time with people my age.
I've followed on facebook, and wondered what it'd be like to meet them in person and spend time with them, and I can honestly say it was such a great time.

Let's see, the last time Cory, Joshua and I would have been together would have been for
Paula  & Derrick's Wedding.
I'd say we've grown up quite a bit since then. 
Just 20 years. 

Caleb, Julie, Cory, Bethany, Joshua

It wasn't like we met for the first time but instead picked up where we left off.
It was great  meeting Caleb's fiance, Julie as well!
Cory should have never told me he was in Med school because I found my new tutor.
I think I drilled them all with questions about their lives, but really I loved hanging out with all of them!

I reconnected with Joshua over the past year and have so enjoyed getting to know him. It was awesome to finally spend time in person and I feel so blessed to have family like this. 

Our last night we went to Downtown Greenville and enjoyed some coffee and dessert .

I'm not really sure how to wrap this all up because I literally could go on and on and on.
This was the best Christmas gift I got this year.

To all of my family that this was written about.
Thank you for such an incredible time. For welcoming us like we've been there every year, and for being genuine and real. More than presents or food, I cherish the relationships made and feel so blessed to call you family.
This is something I feel like I've been missing for so long and the past few days were such a gift. 
I pray that  it won't be long before we see you all again. 

the power of the unexpected

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Every time I turn my car on right now, Christmas music is playing.
I can't say that I have always listened intently to words of Christmas songs but in the past week, I have.
I've found a trend in these songs. 
In some form of words a lot of these Christian songs talk about the way that Jesus came to earth.
Unexpected, an interesting way to come into the world,  'a strange way to save the world',  songs that describe how he could have come, but instead he came 'like a winter snow, quiet, soft, and low.'
Maybe I've never truly spent time thinking about how the son of God made his 'grand' entrance into the world, but it really was anything but grand.

I know in my lifetime I have heard a variety of reasons why Jesus came to earth this way. It showed that He was a servant. That He could be on our level. That he was human and loved people. He lived a perfect life.

But this week I feel like the Lord helped me to see this differently than I ever have before.
I guess for me something that has always been important in my life and especially in times of healing, is the power of validation. 
To know that someone is acknowledging how you feel, to almost give permission to feel that way regardless if that's how they would feel in the same situation. 

In some ways, I feel like Jesus coming to earth as a baby and a human, into a world full of sin, hurt, desperation, and all that goes along with each of us at some point or another is validating.  While Jesus lived a perfect life, He walked where we walked, experienced all the temptations that we have or will, and understood all that comes with human emotion. In a moment where He felt the weight of the world, His own Father could not look at him during this time because of the sin He was carrying for us.  Talk about pain, feeling alone, and the pressure and agony involved. 
So while Jesus didn't come with glamour and all of the glory that He could have and so rightly deserved to come into, somehow his entrance into the world is validation for everything that I face in my everyday life. 

I find comfort in this.
I suddenly don't feel so alone or weird for some of the things I think and feel at times.
For being human.
I think some of us find  it almost imperative to pretend like we have it together all the time. 
I can't live this way.
Maybe  being real during my prayers doesn't feel as bad or weird cause the truth is, Jesus knows what its like to be human. Anything that I've been through or will go through, he understands. He is the mediator to my Heavenly Father. We are commanded to come boldly and confidently to the throne. 
Maybe coming to the earth the way He did is part of the reason we can find the confidence to bring our deepest hurts, desires, and longings to our Father. 

It has been refreshing this Christmas season to see it differently than I ever have before.
There is power in the unexpected way that Jesus came.
It's changing my life.

What a day it was celebrating the birth of my Savior today.

you revive me Lord

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I have a confession.
I was looking at my blog today and read the title and laughed.
If you could only know how much fear has gripped my heart this week.
I somewhat feel like a hypocrite.

I guess I said it though, I'm a work in progress.
I talked to someone that's much wiser than me today about certain things I have been struggling with.
I realize my need for the Lord in all of this.
It's so much deeper than a surface level problem and I was asked the question: where do you think all this is coming from?

The enemy. 

I decided to spend some quiet time on this beautiful afternoon.
I found some worship videos from my Freshman year of college.
How refreshing it was to be taken back to that place in my heart but to rejoice in God's faithfulness to me in where I find myself now.
God's brought me quite a ways since then.
I still have a long way to go.

Psalms  34:4 says this:
"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; 
he delivered me from all my fears."

I realize my struggle to trust. 
To believe.
To relax.
To live for today.
To trust in God's promises for my life.
To trust in other people.
To love myself.

The beauty in all of it.
I find peace when I'm on my knees.
Honest before the Lord about everything I feel and worry about.

I pray that He will continue to change me.
To refine me and help me become a better and healthier person.
It's hard.
I'm not even sure I practically know how to work on some of my struggles.
So I'm gonna pray. 
And trust God to work in my heart and life.

I'm Thankful for a God who revives my spirit and my mind.
Who delivers me from my fears.
Who wants me to live in the fulness of His grace daily.

red rocks and a little girl's dream

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Red Rocks. I can honestly say I have never seen any nor did I think they existed but apparently that is what Colorado (still working on saying it right) is known for.
We made our way to the Garden of the Gods, and I had no idea what to expect but it was quite an experience.


Mary and I had quite an adventure taking photos of one another at this beautiful place.
With tons of laughs no doubt.


True confession time.
That mountain in the background is Pike's Peak.
I've dreamed about seeing this since I was a little girl and watched Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. 

It is beautiful out here.

My Colorado adventure came to an end rather quickly and I am sad that it is over.
I am so thankful though for the chance to visit Colorado, to experience something new, to spend time with my best friend, and to experience God's presence in my life and friendship in such a sweet way. 

"A friend loves at all times..."
Proverbs 17:17

even on the mountain top

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For the past few days I've found myself in a place where time just seems to be moving slower.
There is no feeling of being rushed, hurried, or a a to-do-list to be checked off.
I've enjoyed deep conversations about life, relationships and all that God is doing in our lives with my sweet friend Mary. 
I'm so thankful for meaningful relationships like this one.

Tonight we ate dinner, packed our stuff up and once again find ourselves in Fika . 
We brought our Bibles, journals, and decided it was a good chance to just spend some quiet time.

I've felt such a sense of peace in the last few days out here in the beauty of the mountains, the refreshing cold air, and just a complete change of life for a few hours. It has given me a chance to clear my head, experience things my heart and mind have been feeling but have not had a chance to really process.

I found myself in Philippians.
One of my favorite book s of the Bible, especially when I am looking for encouragement.

In the last few days I've had a few thoughts.
In my journey to finding wholeness in Christ, 
I am realizing more and more that this is a continual process.
I may not ever be at a place where my fears, inner struggles, and deepest insecurities are non-existent.
Even in the midst of such a beautiful place, I had some moments of complete fear, worry, and anxiousness in my heart.
Thoughts that my deepest desires will never be fulfilled.
Fear of losing the things that mean the most to me.
Insecurities about myself as a person and who I am called to be.

Philippians 4:6-7 reminded me of this.
"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
(The message version) 

I've got to be honest and say that I have heard this verse more times than I can count but reading this version for me tonight strikes something new in my heart and mind.
The idea that my worries and frets can be shaped into prayers, something that is worth my time, something that is validated and brought before my Heavenly Father is comforting. 
That in this, I can find wholeness. Peace. Security.
I think what I realize though is that it isn't instantaneously, and this is the part I struggle with.
I've even asked Mary this week, is wholeness ever really complete? Will I struggle with these same thoughts and fears my whole life?

I love the idea that God wants to take my worry, fears, and deepest concerns and bring wholeness and a sense of purpose and plan into the chaos of my mind.

I guess for me I realize that where I am physically doesn't change where my heart and mind are.
Even in the midst of such a breathtaking view, I still found fear creeping into my mind.
Regardless of circumstances around me, comparison of others and where they are at, none of that changes my heart and mind.

I have been trying to be more intentional during my prayer time to just lay everything on the table.
Even if it feels redundant,  I want to be honest before the Lord about where I am at.
I find peace in the fact that He knows the desires of my heart, and right now I am working to turn all of my fear and worry into prayers.
To thank Him even in the moments where I feel tired of waiting, wondering what's next, curious about things ahead, empty in some places, and grieving the loss of certain things in my life. 
Maybe it won't be overnight, and maybe I won't even feel the improvement, but my prayer is that instead of worrying, that I would pray.
Spill my heart out.
Be as vulnerable with the Lord as I was with my best friend in the past few days.

I want to experience the fullness of God's power through my prayers.
I want to be changed.
Made whole.

I'm thankful for the peace I've found and the way God has met me out here in Colorado in ways I never expected. 

A view from 12,998 ft.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I made it to Colorado!  (I still don't say it quite like they do out here though)
It is absolutely stunning!
I'm not sure it was what I was expecting exactly but it is breathtaking.

I must say it was the longest/bumpiest flight I have ever been on but I made it out to Denver.
My best friend Mary picked me up with a warm car and so the adventure began.
Let's just say a 45 min drive took almost 2 hours as the snow covered the roads and the made the drive a bit more difficult than usual. 
Memories made for sure. 

My first day here was spent in downtown Denver.
First stop was Mary's favorite coffee place . Fika.
I don't blame her for the countless hours and dollars spent here.
It's perfect.

Breakfast was awesome.
Snooze was the place to be yesterday morning.
Chocolate chip pancakes hit the spot for sure.

We finished the night with tv, pizza, youtube videos, tons of laughs and just hanging out. 
Great end to my first day catching up with my best friend and experiencing Colorado.

Today we got up and made our way to Breckenridge.
No wonder people come out here to go on vacation.
It's gorgeous! 

Maybe I just thought places like this existed in the movies, how beautiful.
It was about 20 degrees most of the day, pretty cold for a Florida girl no doubt but I must say, it was so refreshing. 
From a fast paced life and the business of everything, today felt as though time was just standing still, 
there was time to just appreciate the beauty of my surroundings,
 and truly a breath of fresh air.

I so enjoyed time to just spend with Mary. 
To enjoy taking pictures and appreciating how difficult it can be at times (its nice to have someone who doesn't care when it takes 20 minutes to get the lighting right ha). 
We strolled through the various little shops on the streets, found places to take pictures, talked, laughed, and maybe had coffee 3 times today. (no shame at all)

Here's just a few pictures from our adventure today.

I have more pictures and thoughts to come.
We are ending our night back at Fika on this chilly evening.
I'm thankful today for new experiences, for God's incredible creation, for a break and a chance to just breathe, for meaningful relationships, for purpose, for hope, and for a God who meets me in ways and places I never expected.

It may be cold, but Colorado is gaining a warm place in my heart rather quickly. 

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