Sunsets and Birdsong Dawns…

Clackamas River Sunset

Life has thrown another curve… It does that.

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll find after I turn the corner, but for now I’m walking slowly along the path in no real hurry to get around the bend. I have spent this last week or so in my childhood home while working on my Finals for this term — this curve in life forced me to fall way behind in my classwork and I needed some help with the boys so I could get everything caught up and finished before the term ended. Somehow I’ve managed to catch up with everything despite all my current life drama…

While here my “baby” sister and I have had the opportunity to go for evening walks together — the boys have grandparents to help if someone takes a fall — I can be away for an extended period of time without worrying. This means that there has been a period of unexpected Rest in the midst of this chaos. Being with family – it’s easier to get up in the morning, easier to remember to eat, easier to sleep… I’m not spending my nights right now dreading the waking of another day…

Out walking with my sister in the evenings gives me the chance to just breathe, and hiking along the river in all its familiarity, it’s easy to remember who I am. The beauty that shaped me is still here — sunset skies above the river and birdsong filling the dawn. The air here at my childhood home by the river I know so well – it still smells like the late summers of my girlhood — like sun-warmed berries and dry grass, heavy with the weight of the heat and the scent of the river… Summer’s end hangs in the air as the days shorten and we all feel the coming autumn looming despite the present heatwave. I miss the sea – the sound of her breathing tides and her scent in the air – but I am so grateful to be here right now…

Life is hard — I hope you all can find Beauty when you’re travelling your own rocky path… Remember we’re all on this journey together – stay soft with each other…

  • #rememberingme
  • #childhoodforests
  • #viewfromthewaterfall
  • #clackamasriver
  • #sunsetsandbirdsongdawns

Simply Being Today…

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It has been a “simply being” day…

I am unmotivated, tired, heavy with the weight of all that seems wrong with this world. The sun is shining in a blue sky — but I am homesick for the sound of the sea rather than traffic… I miss home today… and the two years of this nursing program seems to stretch out in front of me in a long, blurry line of exhausting hours… ones that I must be grateful for since it’s so hard to get into any RN program – let alone one that had two openings at once and accepted both myself and my Mister. We are halfway through our first term — despite the pandemic that has us shut in our homes and unable to go to campus. Online classes are providing us the education hours we need…

Our nights are spent waiting for the phone to ring to send us out to patients in need — whether there’s a medication issue or the family needs a death visit, whatever the need one of us is ready to go at a moment’s notice depending on who is on-call. This week my Mister is the LPN on call, but we both tend to be awake waiting… Our schedule is basically a 24 hour one right now — we sleep whenever we don’t have to be doing something else whether the sun is down or not. We tend to be tired and under constant levels of stress… This virus continues to take a toll on societies around the globe, and we have our own unrelated struggles as well…

I never realized before how much you can get done in a 24 hour period if you are awake for most of it. I read two books yesterday, did housework (somehow it doesn’t matter how many hours in the day you use – Mount Washmore doesn’t seem to get smaller), watched episodes of Gravity Falls with the boys, and plenty of other things — no wonder there’s a constant sense of fatigue right now. However, keeping up with the news has been avoided this week — I know the bare minimum I need to keep myself safe when I have to leave the house for work, but I can only handle so much input from the rest of the world and still maintain my sanity…

With this spinning globe in such a mess, it’s strange to look out the window and see the sun and shadows playing on the rooftops in front of me. There’s a breeze blowing through the neighborhood into our window, and the sound of potatoes boiling on the stove… It would be easy to believe that all is right with the world — that people aren’t dying and there are no crazy protests against the stay-at-home orders… Unfortunately, viruses don’t care about how beautiful the world is and this disease is an equal opportunist… we still don’t even know how “recovered” those in the recovery numbers actually are. Many will have life long health troubles after “recovering” and it’s looking less and less like long term immunity is possible. How can such ugly facts exist alongside the beauty of springtime in Oregon?

It’s all overwhelming…

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

This evening I will look around at the things I haven’t finished (always seems like so much) and then convince myself it will all get done eventually.  I will take a hot shower and wash away some of the grief of this current time… The other side of this darkness will come — even in Narnia’s “always winter never Christmas” spring eventually arrived. Aslan is still on the move…

 

Grateful even on this “simply being ” day…

…memories of the sea near home

kitkat snuggles (my word – barely a kitten not quite a cat — a kitten teenager)

…The Bookshop on the Shore (Jenny Colgan‘s books are just so lovely — she’s currently my favorite — we are kindred spirits, she just doesn’t know it ;) )

…heart-shaped blueberry muffin cakes for breakfast

…watching old tv shows with the boys

…dark chocolate

…homeopathics

…The Philosopher’s bedtime music playlist

…The Professor’s encyclopedic knowledge of Wordgirl

…laughing with my Mister at night when the lights are low and the rest of the world is sleeping

It’s still all Grace…

Jenn

The Flow of Time…

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I’ve been away from this cozy little corner for quite a while, and I probably don’t have the time to try to explain where the last few months have taken us, but I’m stopping by anyway. When life itself moves too fast it’s easy to fall behind. So, this nook of the internet will have to forgive me for my periodic abandonment. Time flows too quickly…

We were settled down to enjoy our beach house life when our economic circumstances took a sharp turn. After some prayer and researching, I decided to begin nursing school with the goal of moving from a hospice volunteer to a hospice nurse, and my hubby decided to join me. This means, that while we will be able to keep our home at the coast, we need to be close to the city for school for the next year or so while we’re in school…

Fast forward from my last blog post to this one and I now find myself at the beginning of my second term. I knew when I began that I would enjoy it, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it — or how engaged with the entire process I would be. This is the first time I’ve studied anything and not be “bored” after a few weeks. :) I’m having a blast! Don’t get me wrong — it’s not easy. I might be making A’s, but I’m actually earning them — I’m working hard for my grades. There’s so much to learn in such a short period of time!

Right now, we’re studying for our LPN licenses, which basically gets your foot in the door as a nurse, and then we’ll be able to get jobs anywhere with the health insurance our boys need. Once I’m employed I plan to continue my education and “climb the ranks” of nursing — perhaps even becoming a nurse practitioner at some point for a hospice. I’d actually love to run my own hospice house someday… we’ll see where life takes me… A year ago I never would have imagined I’d be where I am now, so I’m curious to see what my life will be like a year from now.

The boys are hanging in here as their parents are both in school. The Professor’s 2nd anniversary of his head injury passed a couple weeks ago, and it’s been hard not to get discouraged with the healing process. We recently began seeing Dr. Thom again though who has a new plan to try to encourage his healing, and it really helps to have a little hope sent our way. The Philosopher had an MRI recently and we’re hoping to hear some enlightening news about it this next week. He has symptoms that point to a re-tethering of his spinal cord, and mostly we’re just hoping that whatever is wrong is something “fixable”. Thankfully, while we’re away at classes during the day we have plenty of family around to help the boys out. Second Sister has really been helping a lot, and of course, my mama has been a rock. Really, I couldn’t be doing nursing school without all the family support — it just wouldn’t be possible.

Since I’m back “in town” I’ve been able to begin visiting hospice patients again as well — I missed it so much while I was “away”. I simply love being with the dying — being present with them wherever they happen to be in any given moment. I think the hardest part of being a hospice nurse will be not having as much time with patients as I do as a volunteer. As a nurse, I’ll have a lot more patients than just the two that I visit now, and instead of simply being there to spend time with them — to play music and hear their stories — I’ll have to be one of the people who come in to poke and prod them. I’m pretty sure it won’t be easy for me to make that switch, and yet I’m looking forward to playing a bigger part in the care team — with a stronger voice for what I know is best for my patients. A nurse has a lot more “pull” than a volunteer. Don’t get me wrong, a volunteer’s observations are a vital part of the team — we inform a lot of the care that happens for our patients — but a nurse’s opinion simply goes further I think.

I’ll admit that I’m pretty tired though. Nursing school is intense! Plus, there’s so much else going on in life too — I feel like I could sleep for a week… There’s just always something I need to be doing — which means I have very little time for writing or reading… and forget knitting! My life is mostly homework (I swear Pharmacology is some kind of strange mix between Stephen King and Dr. Seuss — completely terrifying, fascinating, and full of made up words)… and it’s hard to maintain a sense of balance.

So amidst all the craziness of life lately, I am trying to keep my focus on my Lord… I am trying to remember that in school, I’m learning new ways to do “small things with great love”. All of this hard work is going to give me more tools to love others with — more ways to show the love of Christ to the world — especially the sick and dying. In learning things like how to do a Head to Toe Assessment I can show compassionate care for someone — I can really listen to them and hear their concerns. This is how we touch lives…

Love makes a difference…

…even in the small things.

 

Be Still…

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I am looking out my new living room window and still not able to grasp the reality of all that has happened during the past few days. It feels like I’m just on an Oregon Coast vacation — another one of many I’ve had throughout my lifetime — and I think it’s going to take awhile before I realize that this is home now.

We bought a house.

Not just any house… we bought a house in an Oregon coastal town where the breeze carries the scent of the ocean and its soothing sound is the constant background song.  The air is clear here — I stepped out on our front porch last night and was reminded at how amazing the stars always are on the coast. The vastness of the sea, combined with the never-ending sky… there are no words. I can’t believe we’re here…

We have spent many years trying to create a home in one rental or another — it was an almost constant moving game. Our most recent ones over the last handful of years all ended up having heating problems — a serious drawback with so many health issues in the family.  Of course, you can only bring up the problem with landlords so much — they can always find someone else to replace your family — there are many, many people looking for places to live. It’s crazy to spend almost 2000 dollars a month on a rental that doesn’t even have reliable heat, and yet we were just thankful to have a place to live.  I was particularly thankful that we had found a place just down the street from my sister…

That is the biggest drawback of this move — I can’t just run over to see my sister (who just turned 30 by the way — Happy Birthday Sister!) whenever I want now. Every evening I would run over for at least a few minutes after her boys were in their pajamas, and being so far away is a serious loss for me. While there’s no way we could have afforded to buy a house any closer, and we really needed to move… being so far from all of my family isn’t easy — I know it’s necessary, but it isn’t easy. I’m very glad they all have each other so if they need something someone will be there to help. And, thankfully, our move makes it easier for everyone in the family to take trips to the beach — so at least they get something positive out of it.

I know that this is all actually a huge blessing. As hard as it is, I know that we’re where we are supposed to be… I just need to catch my breath and get settled in… I’m not going to just stop missing everyone, but I’ll get used to being a couple hours away – I know I will. I won’t feel so much like I’m on the verge of tears forever. The rest of this week will be spent unpacking (I can’t wait to have all my books back on their shelves!) and meeting people in our new town. The people who live here are very friendly and we have plenty of opportunities to get involved in the community as we get settled. I have the number of the local hospice so I can get ahold of the volunteer coordinator and find out how to sign up, and our little parish has plenty of opportunities for us to serve. Thursdays the ladies have a Circle of Caring where they get together and work on knitting/quilting etc. for those in need, so that will be a good place to meet everyone. There’s a writers group nearby that The Philosopher and I will probably get involved with in time, and there’s a support group for people dealing with the after effects of brain injury for The Professor if he wants to go. I know that all will be well…

It’s just hard… change is hard…

No matter how logical and positive a new situation is, there’s no way around the difficulties of dealing with the stress of change. It’s a big part of being human, and it’s not comfortable — tears, anger, emotional distress, physical pain — these are all normal responses to the changes that happen in our lives. Learning to live there in that discomfort — to be comfortable in the tension of change and be still within it — that’s where we learn to Trust in the goodness of the God who loves us.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

So that’s where I am… sitting still in the pain and chaos of change… knowing that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” (St. Julian of Norwich) We are all just living one day at a time — putting one foot in front of the other — we’re all looking up at these same stars in awe and trusting that our unique smallness is loved within all the vastness of the galaxies…

Change is inevitable — and it is the potential for change that is really Time’s gift to us… we are ever changing from glory to glory in this journey of Faith. Whatever is – is passing… that includes the hard things we think we won’t live through. Knowing this is my comfort now.

I am grateful…

  1. Pictures of The Professor on the beach…
  2. Family hugs…
  3. Singing in the car with The Philosopher…
  4. Little Boy and Little One splashing in the hotel pool…
  5. Sister and Little Boy finding sea glass on her birthday trip…
  6. Beach walks…
  7. Walking out of service to the sun setting into the ocean…
  8. a real home of our own…
  9. Taking Papa and Grandma to lunch in our new town…
  10. Internet hooked up today!!!!!!! (now we can be in touch with everyone)… :)

It’s all Grace.

Awe and Time…

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It’s been a busy couple of months since I wrote last.

The Professor had his 20th birthday. I can’t even… I just can’t… too many feels as my younger siblings say.

Christmas came and its 12 days have passed. I keep planning on putting away all our decorations but I just haven’t had the time yet. There has been quite a few pieces to write for work (one reason my blog is so far behind since all my writing time has been used for work lately), plus trying to keep up on all the rest of the things that need to be done — I’ll admit that removing the holiday decor just hasn’t been high on my to-do list.  The twinkle lights make me happy — I’m about to enter the last year of my thirties… happiness is high on my priority list, and I know a lot more about what brings happiness than I did a decade ago. I’m in no rush to put away the twinkle lights — there’s a good chance some of them will be up when next year’s Christmas Tree arrives. ;)

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My younger sister is about to turn 30 in a few weeks. She was my first baby really — my first real experience with tiny rosebud lips and baby-toes… We shared a bed — I watched her sleep — she heard my first lullabies… My brother was only three years younger than me — perfect for a younger playmate… He rode on the back fender of my bike almost as soon as he could run around outside with me. He was my adventure buddy — the outdoors was our playground and I loved having him to share my imaginary world. We played Mr. Magic Island, Pinecone Wars when we grew a bit older, and spent most of our waking hours living an adventure of some kind… But my first younger sister came along just a few weeks before my ninth birthday. She was my very own living baby doll and I was totally in love. I’ve always had a really strong maternal streak — mothering, nurturing, is one of the things that makes me happiest — makes me who I am. So, I loved being a big sister with such a tiny baby sister to pamper… And she was so spunky!!! (She’s still spunky — her ability to be herself no matter what still amazes me… she is an amazing woman with a deep strength…)

I can’t believe that tiny, beautiful baby girl is closing in on her 30th birthday. 

Maybe it has to do with where I am in my own life, but I’m spending a lot of time in awe of Time lately. Despite how crazy the days are and how insane the world can be — this globe just keeps spinning… morning continues to dawn, day after day after day…

    “…all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be…” (Psalm 139:16)

Aside from wishing the days would just pause so that I could catch my breath — so that I could get used to Time passing and all the changes it inevitably brings — I’m just in awe of how this whole journey of Life seems to happen. One moment you’re a little girl watching the world from your daddy’s shoulders, and the next your little boy is sitting on your lap learning to read… then you blink…

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I am watching another hospice patient wind down his journey through Time… It’s not a surprise, this is where this work gets real — but it’s not easy. It just seems that Time should recognize the permanence of mortality — it doesn’t feel right that the galaxies keep spinning after someone dies — that the next morning comes without even blinking its eye. I think anyone who’s life is touched by a death knows what I mean. Each person is so unique – their distinct blend of DNA and life experiences traveling through Time here happens only once… I wish I could force Time and Space to stop and take notice.

Life is such a sacred mystery… every end should be remembered.

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We are all born for this journey and I am blessed to be traveling it with so many people who love me — my family, my hospice patients, those who walk with me in close tandem and those who pass through my path like shooting stars… flaring brightly as they go by and leaving me in awe of their soul-beauty. This universe is an amazing place to be… As I look forward to the coming months when it appears that life is going to have more twists and turns for me than I expected for this new year, I am learning to trust in the God of Time, and to take comfort in the consistency of the next sunrise despite its unpredictability. The poem says that two roads diverge in a wood and the poet takes the one less traveled by, but the truth is — everyone’s road is unique… we’re all on the road “less traveled” and that is what makes all the difference. Somehow we journey together – each on our own less traveled path – yet still side by side.  Together we keep each other company and learn the language of the far country we’re traveling to — the only language that matters in the long run. Day by day we are learning Love together…

I am grateful…

  1. beach houses…
  2. stormy waves…
  3. hot tea…
  4. new slippers…
  5. family Christmases…
  6. mama hugs…
  7. sister love…
  8. Little One’s first birthday…
  9. sorting boxes…
  10. lullaby memories…

It’s all Grace…