March 31, 2014

when my faith feels small

Yesterday morning I had one of those moments where my faith felt small, weak, feeble.

I always remember a quote from Tim Keller - it's not the strength of your faith that saves you, but the object of your faith. 

All that I could focus on was my own shortcomings, my sin, my struggles.

It's in those moments that God draws us back to His promises and we can find assurance in the only rock, the only firm foundation.

I read this devotional by John Piper, titled, "He Will Keep Us Safe."

This passage/excerpt stuck out to me:

The Lord will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9)
Does the perseverance of our faith rest on the reliability of our own resolve? Or does it rest on the work of God to “keep us trusting”?
It is a great and wonderful truth of Scripture that God is faithful, and will keep forever those whom he has called. Our confidence that we are eternally secure is a confidence that God will “keep us trusting”!

I was reminded once again that it's not my doing, not in my ability to trust . . . or anything within me that keeps me within His hand.

God is not distant or impersonal . . . He is near and relational, which is a great comfort.

He promises to never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5), He promises that no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28-29), what He began in us, He will bring to completion (Philippians 1:6) and that He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  

We can rest, knowing that the One who holds the universe together is holding us. Though we stray, feel weak, or have fickle emotions, He is the same throughout time. He is faithful, even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13). 

He is the one who sustains us, guides us, and leads us. Scripture also says we are to, "draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8). Will we do that today, and know more of the security we have in Him?

March 27, 2014

Cooper River Bridge Run

. . . getting so creative with my titles here, right?

Next weekend will be my 5th Cooper River Bridge Run.

Have I trained? . . . Well, I've only gone running once within the last 4 weeks.

It's OK, I'm just gonna wing it ;)

If you are a walker, runner or run/walker, you should definitely go if you haven't already. It's a 10K in beautiful Charleston, and I always make a weekend out of it with some girlfriends.

The first year we went (2010), I made a 12-week "plan" and trained pretty intensely, even going running after working a 12-hour shift. I battled with some shin splints as well.

The second year (2011), one of my friends ended up getting a stress fracture because she trained too intensely, too quickly.

The largest group we've gone with was 15 or 16, and the smallest group was last year, with 7 of us.

A lot of runners used to dress up for the event, and in 2011 there was an official costume contest . . . that was the year that I dressed up as Lady GaGa and my friend Christen was Beyonce. We didn't win anything but it was. so. much. fun.

In 2012, the trip was right before my friend Carly was leaving to move to the west coast. That year we dressed up too. She was a parrot and I was a pirate. (It was a reference to an episode of How I Met Your Mother . . . plus I used to be in love with pirates)

2013 was the first year I dressed "normal" for the race. I hardly saw anyone at the race in costume, which made me a little sad inside.

I am getting hyped for this year, and I hope everyone else is too :)
. . . like a boss


2011 . . . pre-race shenanigans
we run this town

Hi . . . mom? We found Waldo.

. . . and Beaker

most of the crew in 2011


dancing . . . warming up before the race

one of my favorites

March 24, 2014

letting go of the timeline

I also want to call this post, "debunking the timeline myth."

We all have one, don't we? Our timeline . . . how we dream, envision and plan the way our lives will play out.

Sometimes we don't acknowledge it until we get to a point in life where we realize, I'm not where I thought I would be by now.

Last weekend I came face-to-face with mine in a few different ways. I was volunteering in the nursery with two young moms and one of them started off a sentence with, "I'm 28 and . . ." 

I didn't really pay attention to what else she said, because I was caught by her age and circumstances. I kept thinking - Oh my gosh. She's 28 and has three kids, one of which is about 5 years old. I am SO behind in life . . . 

Boom. There is was. Hello, timeline. It will drive you into despair if you let it.

This is the problem with the timeline. We (or at least I do this) look at the way our lives are actually playing out versus the timeline and measure up how we're doing. We also tend to think that whether or not we are succeeding is all up to us. I tend to worry that I will "let life pass me by" (whatever that means in the moment) . . . and it will be all my fault.

There is so much wrong in these thought patterns. What about the character and faithfulness of God in the midst of this? Where is God in our "wasted moments"? I realize that I have completely lost perspective when I start to think this way.

I am forgetting that God is ultimately sovereign, meaning that He is in complete loving control . . . even when I can't see Him working. 

I was listening to my pastor this weekend and I was so preoccupied that I had a hard time letting it all sink in. I kept thinking, if I would actually believe in the sovereignty of God, I would be free. Free from thinking that how my life turns out is all up to me. Free from thinking that I will somehow "miss the boat."

I listened to a couple of sermons by Tim Keller that touched on the sovereignty of God and peace. I need to be reminded of these things so frequently!

In a sermon on Reconciliation, he says:

"Only your Father in Heaven knows exactly what you need, and only your Father in Heaven has the power to give you what you need."
"Excessive worry is when you're exactly sure of what has to happen and you're afraid God won't get it right."
"No power on earth can muck up your life . . . even you can't muck up your life, even you can't put yourself on "Plan B." Even you can't destroy God's loving plan and care for you."
In one of my favorite sermons on Peace, he says:

"Peace is confidence and trust in God's wise control of your life."

Do I trust that God will give me exactly what I need, exactly when I need? Do I trust that He is loving and in control, even if my life doesn't play out the way I thought it had to?

In her book, Better Than My Dreams, Paula Rinehart writes:

"The God who spoke the worlds into existence and keeps the stars in place is the God who knows you like no one will ever know you. He has always loved you. He will love you to the end. His purposes for you are so set in place that you can rest every minute of your journey in the cool shade of his merciful sovereignty over your life. 
We can plan all we want. We can map out our five-year goals and make a dozen to-do lists a day. But God orders our steps. He opens and closes the doors that really matter. He is really God - which is to say that he is really God. 
I think of the sovereignty of God in my own life as the quiet surrender to his authority - meaning that I acknowledge him as the Author of my story. 
. . . How am I going to allow the detours and the lost years and the mistakes to take their proper place in a life that is, somehow, being orchestrated by a God who loves me? 
Can I let myself accept that I am living a directed life even when I feel that I am floundering? 
The small miracle is that if the merciful sovereignty of God is real, then we are freed from the tyranny of having to measure every memory in terms of failure or success. It's such a relief to lay down that crazy measuring stick. 
. . . There is an old expression that comforts because it's just so true: God never wastes an experience on us. If we have given ourselves to him in any true measure, we find it all serves. All of it. 
So discovering the shade of God's sovereignty is no small matter. It literally changes the lens through which you see your life - this story God is writing that is bigger than you can even think to dream."

Tim Keller also says that, "God's silence is not absence and God's hiddenness is not impotence." 

These words are relief to my soul. If God is who He says He is, then I can rest . . . knowing that He is the Author of my story, and nothing - not even me - can mess it up.

March 23, 2014

a few random things from the week

1. Happy Spring :) 
Let's hope that North Carolina gets the memo . . . these past two days have been wonderful, but I see a "wintry mix" predicted for this coming Tuesday. 

This past Tuesday, I was on my way to work when a pickup truck spun out right in front of me . . . crossing over two lanes of traffic while driving on I-40. So close, that his headlights were facing mine at one point and I was bracing for impact. Thank God that nothing happened, and not that many people were on the freeway at the time.

I think I just gave myself heart palpitations just remembering that incident :-/

2. Re-considering perfectionism . . .

Tuesday, I had a mini-meltdown at work. Witnessed by a few co-workers.

The unit had been insanely busy for the past 2-3 weeks and the week before last, all three shifts were bad. I left work late each day and I was starting to feel burned out.

So this past week, I had the mentality of - this week will be better! I just has to be. 

Tuesday I had two patients, one of which I didn't even get to assess until close to 10am. Which is disastrous, in my mind. (Nurses are supposed to assess both patients by 8am).

One patient was very busy but stable, and the other patient was unstable. I started off in my stable patient's room because he needed a lot of help.

I had left the room to get something and that's when I started to fall apart. I went in the clean utility room, grabbed a pack of insulin syringes and proceeded to fan my face with them, while gripping the side of the linen cart . . . trying to talk myself down . . . I will not cry, not gonna cry, not gonna cry . . . all the while thinking, this is insane - this week is going to be JUST like last week! This is awful!!

Well - so much for the pep talk. That never works. I felt so frazzled and crazy. I felt even worse because I never act like that at work anymore, so then I was apologizing for acting frazzled and stressed. 

I felt incompetent because I couldn't be in two places at once. I felt incompetent because I couldn't do the impossible.

I was telling one of my senior co-workers about how I was feeling, and she reminded me that nursing demands perfection.

I am not always cognizant of that, but it's true. There is no room for error, and we put the expectation on ourselves to be perfect. She told me that on days when it's insane, she tells people, "I'm going to do my best."

I think I need to adopt that. Instead of expecting perfection, especially on crazy days, I just need to do my best and stay calm. Because what else can you do, in those moments?

I just have to let go of the need to be perfect. It's going to be a process . . . please pray for me :)

3. Happy weekend :)

I made buttermilk pancakes yesterday for the first time in ages, and they were amazing. You can find the recipe here

I also slept past 7am both mornings and that is wonderful. 

I love being able to wake up slow and enjoy the morning. It's one of my very favorite things.

Happy Sunday!

March 17, 2014

Top O' The Morn

Good morning :) and Happy St. Patty's Day.

I am not wearing green, not baking anything green . . . so I thought I'd post a picture of my favorite salad these days (because at least that's green).

I can't stop making it. It has kale, roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa and craisins. You can find the recipe here. I also like to add sliced bosc pears for some extra awesome.

Today is off to a funny start. I had a rough time going to 5:45am cycle class last week due to the time change, but I went to my favorite class this morning and I feel OK. 

I called into a staff meeting at 7:30, but there was some technical difficulty going on. It just ended up being me and 3 other staff members chatting with one another for about 20 minutes, waiting for the problem to be fixed but it never got resolved. Oh well, what can you do. I am thankful that I like my co-workers, otherwise I wouldn't have found that entertaining :).

So here I am . . . finally writing a new post after a week (yikes!). My goal in blogging is to post 3-4 times a week, but clearly it didn't happen last week. It was just an insane, non-stop, stay at work late and then dream about work kind of week. I haven't had a week like that in a very, very long time. Here's to hoping that this week will be better.

Confession: I don't know how to slow down. Not only was the past week insane, the weekend was busy too. It was filled with good things - the gym, volunteering (but I volunteered so much that I didn't get to attend church), cooking, visiting old friends and family. 

This morning I remembered a sermon that my pastor did several weeks ago where he talked about how busyness can be a problem. We need balance, we need rest, we need time to process and hear from God and meditate on His Word. If we're too busy, we miss out on the most important thing - deepening our relationship with Him. Busyness can become dangerous.

I just need to block out some time this morning to spend with Him in quiet reflection, prayer and reading my Bible. Isn't it refreshing (and humbling) to know that we never get to a place in our lives where we don't need Him daily? The longer I walk with God, the more I am aware of how necessary that daily time is. We never get past needing His grace - and that is a comfort to me.

Here is a brief rundown of some adventures lately:

I saw this cake on a blog and I also remembered it from the Walter Mitty movie (super good, if you haven't already seen it!) . . . clementine cake. I decided to get started on the most time-consuming part of the recipe, boiling clementines for 2 hours (2 hours!). So strange, boiling citrus. I don't know when I will finish making the cake, but I suspect it's gonna be good.

I also decided to make chocolate mousse for a friend . . . for the first time from scratch. It didn't turn out so well on the first attempt. I was almost in tears after the chocolate seized up instead of melting smoothly.

Praise the Lord I had more chocolate and whipping cream on hand, so I started again - this time using a simpler recipe. It turned out really well - good thing, because I was out of chocolate at this point.

I have been wanting to read this book for a while, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It ties into what I posted last week - changing your perspective, cultivating contentment, having your eyes opened to the thousands of blessings you have even in the daily and mundane. 

However, I didn't realize that the first chapter would be suuuuper emotional because the author starts off, very descriptively, with tragedy that she's had in her life. You. Will. Need. Tissues. 

I am excited to read the book - I can tell it's going to be great. 

Happy Monday!!

March 10, 2014

cultivating contentment

The very first thought that I had when I woke up on Saturday was this: Where is my life going? I thought that I would be married or at least in a relationship at age 28 . . . is my life measured by my circumstances and stage of life? Does this mean I've missed the boat or I'm a failure in some sense?

And boom. There is was. Discontentment, anxiety, comparing myself to my peers, trying to measure my life in perceived success/failure, trying to fulfill the timeline or milestones that I dreamed up in my head.

I had to remind myself to look beyond my circumstances, to trust God one day at a time, to go back to His promises. But how easily I forget these things. I feel like life is a constant struggle and fight for contentment.

I know I have posted about this before, but I need reminding of it more often than I'd like to admit.

Beau Hughes preached this sermon on learning contentment a few years ago and I have to go back to it at least once a year.

There were a few quotes that really stood out to me and so I thought I'd throw them on here :)

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”
- Jeremiah Burroughs

 “Contentment is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord at His disposal.” So when we use the word “contentment,” that’s what we mean. One who is content in a gospel-centered way is one who has no higher ambition than to be at the Lord’s disposal. It is one who says, “The aim of my life is for God to do with me whatever He wills. Because He is my Father and I trust Him." - Beau Hughes

“These words show us that contentment 
is not a natural propensity of man. ‘Ill weeds grow apace.’ Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they
 are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us.”- Charles Spurgeon 

I also remember J.D. saying, "The biggest thing God is teaching you is to trust Him, so faith usually leads you through difficulty, not around it."

It's comforting to know that contentment is a process. We're not going to master it overnight, and it's normal to struggle with this. I think it's a daily choice, and like Spurgeon says, we must cultivate it.

What does it look like to nurture contentment in our own lives? What disciplines, activities, people, environments help you to grow contentment?

I attended a women's conference where Elyse Fitzpatrick was speaking on contentment. She said that it doesn't matter what season of life you're in, there is always something you feel that you need in order to be happy. I was really tempted not to believe this . . . because, how often do I think that if I was married and had kids, then I would feel like my life was going somewhere?

But her words were really refreshing (once I accepted them) . . . and it was a such a good reminder. That our peace is really found in Christ, not a certain set of circumstances. It frees me from thinking that I need those things in order to be happy or have a meaningful life.

March 7, 2014

a friday pick-me-up

It has been raining since at least 4pm yesterday. That's 17 hours and counting of precipitation. blurg.

Let me share a secret with you: I don't love winter. Typically, February is my breaking point each year. I get stir-crazy, I start to feel like spring will never happen again. We've had a few days of warmer weather amidst the winter craziness, and it breathes life into these cold bones. But, I did make it through February without losing my mind this year. Proud moment.

I am so ready for sunshine, warmth, bright colors, sundresses, open windows, outdoor events, beach trips and running outside. Come on, spring.

This coldness and rain is starting to make me feel crazy, so I thought I might put together a short pick-me-up playlist for this Friday.

1. "Love Alone is Worth the Fight" - Switchfoot

2. "Happy" - Pharrell

3. "Don't Bring Me Down" - Electric Light Orchestra

4. "Sooner or Later" - Matt Kearney

5. "Rough Water" - Travie McCoy feat. Jason Mraz

6. "Bright Lights Bigger City" - Cee Lo Green

7. "Come Alive" - Jeremy Camp

8. "You'll Never Be Alone" - Capital Kings

March 6, 2014

on being a nurse . . . when I love my job.

Call me a nerd/cheesy/cornball, but I really believe that being a nurse is a joy, honor and privilege.

Now, don't get me wrong - it doesn't always feel that way.

But yesterday it did.

It was the best day I've had in a really, really long time.

One of the greatest joys - something that makes me so SO happy, is when I get to see my patient make progress.

Critical care nurses do not always get to see this. Maybe that's why I get so excited.

Yesterday both of my patients were out of the bed before 8am (this is a rarity - and maybe it was from all the coffee I had in my system). I got to walk with my post surgery patient around the unit four times.

It just makes me so happy to see people get better.

Added bonus, they were both pleasant and said thank you. I don't even know what to do when a patient gives me compliments and/or says thank you. I guess I have to get over the shock first.

Another joy is when a patient who was critically ill and even close to death at one point in time comes back to visit the unit. We don't see most patients after they leave the ICU, but some of them will come back to say hello when they're back at the hospital for follow-up appointments. Usually I just stare at them, speechless.

Whenever you get to see someone make progress, it makes all the bad days worth it. Whenever someone says "thank you," it makes it all worth it. Whenever a patient has a positive attitude despite their diagnosis, it makes it all worth it. Whenever you get to see someone get well enough to go home after months upon months of being in the hospital, it makes it all worth it . . . and more.

I am so thankful that God has given me this job and a heart for it . . . and that He is so sweet to let me see these good days, these glimpses of hope. To not only see people healed, but to be a part of that process. It is SUCH a gift and it makes my little nurse heart overflow :)

March 3, 2014

my hiding place

I was reading this devotional earlier and Psalm 119:114 stood out to me.

God's word is our hiding place . . . He is our strength, our shield, our very firm foundation and ever present help in trouble. He is our true source of hope that lasts. 

When everything else is falling apart, God still holds true to His promises and His word. It never comes back void.

He is the one who has promised to never leave or forsake us - no matter what our circumstances, our feelings or even our peers tell us.

Take refuge is God's word today. Let His promises cover you, guide you and lift your eyes this week.

March 2, 2014


I love to bake.

Usually I am a cookie and bar girl.

But macarons have taken over my life.

That's the only thing I want to bake now.


growing spiritually

"The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God."
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones 

This weekend, my pastor spoke on four realizations that the Spirit of God is working in you.  One point was that when it comes to being a Christian, you have a sense of wonder instead of entitlement.

Meaning, you don't arrive to a place where you don't need the grace of God anymore. You don't show up before God with a resume and credentials that explain why you deserve to be accepted.

"Most people measure their spirituality by some perfection in a spiritual fruit: how patient they are, how long they pray, how often they share Christ. The problem is that on this side of heaven, we have our sinful flesh, which is always at work in us, and we'll be constantly discouraged if we look within. God always wants us to be looking outside to the finished work of Christ, not inward, to our progress in righteousness. So God allows us to struggle all our days with indwelling sin so that we will become even more wondrous at the grace of God. On this side of heaven, spiritual growth is not getting to a place where you don't feel like you need the grace of God, but growing ever more wondrous of it."
- J. D. Greear

I don't know about you, but I find this incredibly liberating.

I don't have to measure my spiritual growth by my successes or failures. It's OK to struggle. Those struggles point me back to Christ.

I can also take myself a little more lightly and even laugh with delight in the fact that God chose me - me! with all my failures and flaws and sin and ugliness and mistakes and falling short and not being loving enough or having spiritual fruit perfected . . . and grow more amazed at His grace.
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