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A {Long Overdue} Coffee Date

Let's go for a coffee date shall we? It has been wayyyy too long. We'd meet a cute little coffee shop that's warm enough inside that we don't have to wear jackets (don't you hate that??) I would explain to you that Alex and I are in the middle of doing our first round of Whole30 and how what I miss the most is coffee with creamer. I sadly order a cup of tea and we settle into some big comfy arm chairs. 

It's been a long time since we've seen each other so we sort of chit chat about small things first just to ease into things but then get to the deep stuff. The important stuff. You knew that when I announced to the world that I was going back to graduate school to chase my dream of becoming a family nurse practitioner that things would be different. I knew it too. I used to have four days off from work to blog, meet with friends, and relax. Now those days would be filled with schoolwork. Having finished with my first quarter, I can say that school is going well and I am right where I'm supposed to be. I'm so thankful I chose to go back to school now and sometimes I just can't believe that I'm so close to achieving my dream! 

But besides school, there has been a lot of stuff going on. Big. Important. Life Decisions. You probably wondered what was going on when I posted this and this picture on Instagram. Well, friend we were in the middle of some pretty big decisions. 

I'll go onto explain that Alex had interviewed for several physician assistant (PA) schools in the summer and fall. I'll remind you that this was his second time applying and that we've been waiting for this moment for 2 years. I'll tell you how blessed we feel that he got offered an interview at every single school he applied to... after the rejection he felt when he applied 2 years ago and heard nothing from a single school, this was huge confirmation that Alex is following the will of the Lord in pursuing a career as a PA. 

We found out in August that he was accepted to a school in New Mexico. I cried. You know me, I'm not a big crier and I cried on the spot. Two years and we had made it. My tears were tears of joy. We found out about a month later that he was on the wait list for two Arizona schools that were our top two overall choices. We spent about 6 weeks waiting, with Alex calling every few weeks to see if his status had changed. 

And then. He was offered an interview at University of Colorado- the university 20 minutes from our current apartment and literally a short walk from the hospital where I work. He just so happened to have the day off of work for when the interview was scheduled. If he hadn't had the day off, I'm not sure he would have even interviewed. At this point, it was his fifth PA school interview and he felt pretty comfortable going into it. After it ended Alex told me that he thought it went alright and that they would let him know about admission in a few weeks. 

The very next day I was sitting on the couch doing homework when he walked in from work and said, "Guess what?" I asked if he had heard from one of the Arizona schools. He said "No, CU just called me and offered me a spot in their program." We both just sat stunned. A school neither of us thought he would even get into (they accept 40 students out of 1600 applications) had just called and offered him a seat less than 24 hours after he interviewed. We had a week to decide if he was going to accept the spot and pay a substantial deposit. 

Now you're way better than me at picking up on certain signals (that's a downside of being loud like me), and you'll notice that I tell this story with a little bit of a strained tone. That's because this was all a shock to both Alex and I's system. It was such a mix of emotions- I was so stinking proud and excited that he got into such a competitive school. But we were shocked and since we're being vulnerable, I'll admit to you that I also felt a little disappointed (don't ever think I'm the perfect wife). 

Before you think I'm crazy, let me explain. You see, we had sort of written off CU in our minds. We thought for sure we would be moving- and we were really excited about it! All we had talked about and dreamed about for the past two years, was applying for PA school and starting an adventure in a different state. The thought of staying here barely crossed our minds. I've never lived anywhere besides Colorado, so I was extra excited at the thought of moving somewhere new. In my head, I had moved on from my job, our church, our apartment, and our entire life in Colorado (probably a bad move on my part). 

So, all of a sudden we were faced with a big decision that looked nothing like the one we thought we were going to make. The CU program is 3 years long (most are only 2), so we sat down and crunched numbers to see the expense difference. We made pros and cons lists (the cons list was a lot longer), but most importantly we prayed about it. We talked about with our families, talked about it with each other, and prayed for a week about the decision. 

After a week, we had decided and my stomach sunk. You know what it's like when you know that something is the right decision but you don't really like that choice so you refuse to accept it for a little while? This is how this decision went for me. I knew that CU was the right choice way before I truly accepted it. We had prayed for months (since he began applying back in March) that the Lord would make our decision clear. And He did. 

We still hadn't heard from the two schools in Arizona that wait listed him, and his only other official offer was in New Mexico. Practically speaking, the New Mexico school was $30,000 more expensive and ranked 80th or so in the country. CU was $30,000 cheaper and ranks 5th in the nation. From those numbers alone, the choice should be obvious right? The finances played a huge part in our decision because we seek to honor God with our money, but after prayer and seeking wise counsel we knew CU was where Alex was supposed to be in PA school. 

At this point, you're probably not sure what to say. Do you say congratulations because you know how long of a journey its been, or do you stay quiet because you see the disappointment on my face? 

But then I jump in and tell you what I'm learning from all of this. First of all, I think that moving to another state was just my way of fixing my discontentment that I felt/feel at my job and in our current apartment. I pray for contentment on a daily basis, but boy it's sure harder when God doesn't listen to my idea of how I would be content! 

Second, I think there's so much to be learned in trusting in a plan that is completely opposite of what you had planned. It's so hard, even when it's a good plan! 

Third, it's been a tough lesson in surrender. How many times am I in church and sing "I surrender all"? This situation has forced that surrender. I had already chosen my new city, my new job, and practically my new apartment. But then God reeled me back in and reminded me that I need to surrender to His plan, which for now means staying in Denver. 

It's hard. You can see that written all over my face. We decided on CU in early November, it's January and it's still a daily struggle. I find myself wishing for a house and anxious about how we're going to afford the next few years all in the same minute. I've agonized over changing jobs or staying where I'm at. The walls of our 600 square foot apartment seem to close in some days, and I find my heart screaming for anything that has more than one window in the whole place. 

But. I'm getting there. God's working on me, on us. We've been plugging into a new church that we're excited about, and we realize that there are so many good things about staying in Denver. We don't have to move, I don't have to stress about making new friends while I'm in school, I'm hoping finding clinical placements for myself will go a little smoother because I know some people, and we've been able to really deepen the friendships that have been forming over the last couple of years in Denver. And before I forget, I just have to tell you how darn proud I am of my husband. He went to radiology school for two years just to increase his odds of getting into PA school. He worked hard in school for two years following college, he's working hard now to save up money for tuition, and through it all he serves God and serves me I am so proud of him, and so thankful that I get to be his wife. 

Acceptance into CU has been a sweet, enormous blessing from the Lord and we are so grateful. You know I mean that and you also know that sometimes it just takes my heart a little while to catch up to my head. 

When I look at the people I admire the most, I know that they were forced into circumstances that were the last thing they would have ever chosen for themselves. Beauty comes through struggle, and for me that is finding peace in a restless heart. It sounds cliche, but I know these lessons are what will make me into one of the people I admire. The lessons are hard and they require perseverance, a continual battle of the mind, and a constant search for grace and gratitude. 

We're so excited about the adventure of graduate school together and we've both vowed to not just let these next three years pass us by in a fog of textbooks, exams, and clinicals. We want to be intentional with our time, and make the most of our being here for the next three years. 

Whew, that was a lot. I'll thank you for patiently listening and I'll apologize for talking so much. You'll laugh and say it's okay because you know that I'm just like that. 

You'll jump in and start telling me about your significant other, your kids, and your job. You know that I'll spend as long as I need to listening to you, and I do.We'll laugh and wonder how all of a sudden we're grown-ups and how high school felt like yesterday. You'll probably offer some encouragement in my time of finding contentment, and your words will go with me way past our coffee hour. Hours later, our coffee is long gone, we look at the clock realizing that we should probably get home. We hug and promise to do it again soon. 

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2016: Intentional Life

On January 1, 2015 I wrote this in my first blog post of the year:
"This year, I will fight against the excuses and the heart of waiting that so easily turns into the heart of postponing."
As I read it again this year doing my 2015 recap post, it struck a chord with me. I have shared on here that Alex and I are/were in a season of waiting. He was in school for radiology, but his ultimate goal was to get into physician assistant school. That was a 2+ year wait, and we can officially say that that wait is over. Alex got into PA school and officially accepted a seat (more about that during my next blog post- a little coffee date catch up). He'll be starting in June and I'm in my second semester of nurse practitioner school. 

Now that we're here, I've felt in my heart that now we're just waiting until we're both finished with school (our year of liberation is 2019, people!) I don't know about you, but I don't want to always be in a phase of waiting

How many sermons do we hear about waiting on the Lord or waiting for the right time? How often do we read about people that are in a waiting season? Don't get me wrong- I think there is such value to seasons in which the Lord makes us wait; I've seen it in my own life. But I also think that it's easy to get caught in this cycle of always waiting for something or another. And I don't think that's what the Lord has for us. 

I think that by waiting, we can miss a lot of the now. I've done this and still probably do it. How many things do you push off until you're married, or until you have a house, or until you have kids, or until you finish school? Of course there are certainly wise things to postpone during certain times of life, but I think this idea of waiting can quickly become a spirit of postponing. So that brings me to our word of the year. Alex and I prayed separately about this word and (not-coincidentally) came up with the same idea/word. 
We both feel like it's time to stop waiting for the next milestone to live. We're both in school and will be for the next few years, but we don't want to wait until we're finished to create community, give generously, or get involved in our community. It may be more challenging because of time and money constraints, but we refuse to put our lives on hold until Alex graduates in 2019. The idea that I had prayed about was life NOW. Alex put it more eloquently when the word brought to his heart was intentional. 

We want 2016 to be a year of intentionality- in our relationships, in our finances, and in our community. The verse we've chosen for this year is John 10:10...
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may HAVE LIFE and that they may have it more ABUNDANTLY. " (John 10:10, NKJV)

When Jesus said these words, I don't think He meant that we will have life abundantly only if we're married, or only if we're in a house or finished with school. I think He wanted us to know that He came for us so that we may have an abundant life now. Not in 5 years or when that certain thing happens, but now. 

So our challenge for ourselves in 2016 is to live life abundantly now. No more waiting, because that will be the rest of our life. We embrace this year as a year to build community, build relationships, and do well in our school and work. It all seems sort of vague to us now, but just like the Lord brought us opportunities to be generous last year, I think He'll show us what it means to live in the moment instead of always waiting. I pray the exact prayer that I prayed last year: That Alex and I will fight against the excuses and the heart of waiting that so easily turns into the heart of postponing. We pray that the Lord guides Alex and I to opportunities requiring intentional living, the wisdom to hear His direction, and the courage to follow the call.

What's your word or intention for 2016?? I would love to hear about it!

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A Generous Home: 2015 Recap

Happy New Year friends! We're already well into January and I'm just now getting around to posting new year's type things. If you've hung around here for much time at all, you'll know that my posting has gone from less frequent to practically non-existent. I will blame grad school for it, because now all my days off are spent doing school work. Last quarter I was in two classes and now I'm in three so it only gets harder from here on out. My goal is still to post once a month but no promises. 

At the end of 2015 I spent some time reflecting on our word of the year: generosity. I LOVED the word and the challenge it brought with it. Below are some of my reflections on how we lived that word out. They're not intended as a brag but rather to give you ideas on how to extend generosity to those around you. The pieces highlighted in yellow are from my original post that was published on January 1, 2015 outlining what my heart was for the year. 

Generosity with Money 
I've shared my struggle in not letting money control me, and I think my challenge will be trusting in the Lord's provision as we strive to be generous financially. This continues to be a struggle for me but at the same time the Lord has brought me SO far in this aspect of my life! It was so fun to be able to give to several organizations that were near and dear to our hearts, and faithfully tithe at church. It's sometimes hard to look at the budget and see the money that we're giving away and think of what we could be spending it on (i.e. tuition). This next year Alex and I will both be in school full-time and at some point I may need to drop down from full-time work. This will be incredibly challenging as we navigate how to be stewards of our money and continue to faithfully give.

Generosity with Time and Home 
I want to be generous in my home by opening my doors to friends and strangers alike. I want to serve others food and show love at my dinner table share community around our couches. In 2015 we had many friend groups over and a big family gathering over. We really tried not to let our small space stop us from inviting people in. Game nights, Bronco games, and dinners were some of the sweetest memories of 2015 and I'm excited to see what 2016 holds. 

Generosity Out the Front Door 
I want the generosity to extend outside of my front door. In my original post I mentioned bringing soup to the homeless that stand on a corner near our home. I'm sorry to say that that never happened. But in 2015 generosity outside our front door meant knocking on our neighbor's door and offering to bring them dinner because they just had a new baby. It meant introducing ourselves to another neighbor that was new and bringing him cookies. Small things, yes, but at the same challenging and out of my comfort zone. 

This year, I will fight against the excuses and the heart of waiting that so easily turns into the heart of postponing. I read that line from last year's post and it still strikes me deep down in the heart. I do believe that 2015 was successful in terms of our goal to be generous with our time, home, and money. 

Just because it's 2016 doesn't mean that we're giving generosity the boot. Generosity will always be one of our goals. This year it may be the most challenging as we start paying tuition for the both of us and drop down to a single income again. But God. We know He's got us. And we pray that our hearts and homes stay generous even when the numbers don't make sense. 

How did your word of the year for 2015 turn out?? I would love to hear about it! 

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