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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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