Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy

I haven't blogged in awhile. I thought about blogging after the theater shootings in Aurora. At the time, I was a bit too directly involved for it to feel appropriate. But there was another mass shooting today. In another unimaginable place where you should feel safe....a public elementary school in a small suburban town. And today, I want to write.

Being a certified wound care nurse in an Aurora, CO hospital, literally minutes from the theater where James Holmes attacked, I treated several of the patients from the horrific shootings this summer. My pager went off about an hour after the shootings, but I don't take "call" since I'm the only wound nurse in the hospital, so I didn't answer it. I often get ridiculous pages at 2am, like "I need a specialty mattress" or "I can't find this dressing". But when I awoke around 6 that morning and saw my phone with missed calls, I knew something was up. I rushed to the hospital shortly after.

If you are an acute care medical provider, you'll understand me when I say I thrive in emergent situations. It's in our personalities, part of our jobs to be cool and collected during chaos, to work quickly and fluidly in critical times. While I missed most of the ER chaos by the time I got there, my consult list that day was still cluttered with shooting victims. It was work as usual - wound VACs, dressing changes, and treatment plans. I see horrific things in my job often....burn victims, car crashes, crazy accidents. But this was different. These were adults and children seriously wounded or even killed, by a selfish gunman who lived and worked across the street from my hospital. No one saw it coming and no one could fathom why it occurred. I may have been composed at work that week, but cried driving home most days. This situation has changed me forever. It made a mass tragedy real. I saw the effects of the tragedy, I met the victims and their families. I heard stories of the friends or family members that were shot and/or murdered right in front of them. I will forever be affected by this. Public crowds make me nervous.  I have started looking for an escape route when in a busy place, just in case. The first movie we saw in a theater since the shooting was just a few weeks ago - and I truly struggled while sitting there.

I will never understand the motive behind a shooting like that. Not in Aurora, and not in Connecticut. Innocent people just living their everyday lives? How can this happen? Evil. That's how.

The older I get, the more I understand and believe in spiritual warfare. When I was younger, it was just flitty images in my head after reading a Frank Peretti book with angels and demons fighting. Now, I see. It's real. Talking to victims in the Aurora shootings, I can't deny that there was spiritual warfare in the theater that night. I believe that the angels, the heavenly hosts you sing about in Christmas songs, won out after awhile in that battle - I believe this is why James Holmes' gun jammed, why his apartment, rigged with explosives didn't go off. I believe that's why the shooter's gun jammed after only killing two in the Oregon mall the other day. There was spiritual warfare in the Connecticut school today. And Satan may have won, but he will not win out in the end.

I pray for the victim's families today, for the teachers and children who survived, for the first responders who will have that massacre in their minds for days to come. This tragedy is real. It will fade on TV, but it will haunt those affected forever. I don't know why these things occur. Why they seem to occur more often lately. But I know that Satan is real, and really evil. I know that God is real, and really in control. I pray that those affected in this tragedy will find the Lord's comfort during this time. And I pray that people will believe in the spiritual war around us.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sunshine and Springtime

Wow spring has flown by! It's almost summer...which is absolutely insane to me! The good news is, Colorado's spring was fabulous! We haven't had snow since February, it's been in the 60s-70s most days, and of course in CO - SUNNY SUNNY SUNNY! I didn't realize it until I moved here, but this really is the sunshine state. And while I truly do miss thunderstorms, I'll definitely take 300 days a year of sunshine. So what have we done with all this amazing spring weather? LOTS!

A few weeks ago, we traveled our way down to Lake City to visit the Ravanesis! They are good friends from Dallas who now live/work at Sky Ranch Ute Trail. Eudaly surprised us with a last minute visit the same week so he tagged along as well! I think Grant was in heaven. While I love Colorado and am a pretty outdoorsy athletic gal, I also happen to love the city life. G? He could live in a cabin in the woods for the rest of his life if you let him. Fish everyday and look at the stars at night. That's all he needs. Lake City has no fast food, no shopping, and only 3 restaurants (we went to the same one twice while there! hahaha) The closest hospital is an hour away in Gunnison and a mall? Forget it. You have to drive 4 hours to Denver! We loved our time there. Grant got his "man" fix with fly fishing and mountain biking and I got my "baby" fix with Lizzie! (Matt and Jennie's four month old baby)




We also have been busy in Denver! Dinners downtown, days in the park, a few fishing trips, and even a 5k, we are truly Denverites these days!

Finally, our favorite event in the last few months, Totally Tennyson! Tennyson street is the main drag in our neighborhood, with shops, wine bars, and restaraunts all along it. They annually host a fundraiser for the Denver Public Schools in which they shut the street down and turn it into an 80s pub crawl! We had a blast. Dressed to impress in our 80s gear, we hit the street and ate and drank until we were almost sick. Live 80s bands, free giveaways, and even the Ghostbusters car - it was SO FUN!






Moral of the story? We are loving CO and we love SPRING!








Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ode to Public School

For those of you who know me, you know I am passionate about public school. I grew up in an inner city public school system and truly believe I am a better person because of it. The combination of a strong christian faith/background and a non-christian school has made me who I am today. And I have an amazing appreciation for loving and giving others of all kinds because of it. While I was a student, I didn't realize how missional my parents lived while we were at Irving High, but looking back now, they were amazing. Particularly with my track team. Coming to every game or sitting at the meets all day to be able to cheer for every athlete, encouraging my teammates and friends to be in our home regularly, even having my friends live in our home often, buying food for the track girls, buying shoes for the track girls, helping buy uniforms for the girls. Carting friends of all demographics/backgrounds to church and standing up for them when comments were made (I hate to admit it, but comments were made - which is why the church is imperfect). They shone a light in some of my friends lives that those girls couldn't have seen anywhere else, and were "mom and dad" to several of those girls who didn't have families otherwise. I can only hope that I can be a glimpse to my children's friends/teammates in an inner city school or sports team that my parents were to mine.




Now don't get me wrong, Grant had a great experience in private school and has made life long friends through that experience, but I just have a heart and passion for the large public school scene.

So naturally, when we wanted to get involved in a church, part of what led me to love Park Church is their passion and service to the public schools in our neighborhood, particularly North High School. For the last year, Grant and I have served North in any way we can through the church. Cookies for teacher appreciation, fundraiser events, giving money or time, and especially by serving monthly at Young Life North. Once a month, we make dinner for the Young Life Kids and serve it on Monday night. We go early and Grant plays basketball with the boys while I get the food ready. We stay and set up/tear down for the games and meeting time, and we participate with the kids in any way we can. It has been so fun. I have constant flashbacks of my own time at youth group in the "Crooked I". Good ole days at Plymouth Park and FCA. Spam toss, water balloon fights, passing oreos from mouth to mouth - ALL OF THESE GAMES ARE STILL PLAYED! I will say, I am getting old, because the thought of participating in these games grosses me out now! But I used to love them and the high school kids now do as well!

Last week was our last week to serve for the school year. We had Young Life outside since the weather was so great. Pizza and soda picnic, then lots of outdoor games. I finally snapped some pics of the kids playing games.




I am so blessed to have been a part of a public school and particularly being a part of that volleyball and track team. It taught me alot. And I can't imagine my life without it. Who would I be without days of "booty dancing" on the bus after meets? Watching "Love and Basketball" over and over? Meme practicing cornrows on my hair? Being a part of a big, booming UIL sports system and all the competition that entailed? I wouldn't have changed a minute of it.

Thanks mom and dad for sending me to IHS. Thanks for loving on my teammates and teaching me how to live, love and serve. Here's to Young Life North and public school!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Colorado Easter

Our first holiday at "home". And by home, I mean home where we live, not home where are from.

We opted not to go home (to Texas - I know my "home" referencing can get quite confusing!) for Easter this year in attempt to invest in our city, our friends, and our church here in Denver over the holiday instead  (Not to mention flights on holidays are RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE!). So invest we did! We had a blast.

Friday night, we had a reflective service of mourning in honor of Jesus' death on the cross. It was a short time of worship and scripture reading. It was beautiful. It made good Friday so much more reflective. Even more meaningful to me since I had a hectic and busy day at work that day, with critically ill patients and disagreement amongst services on how to treat them. My work day Friday gave me no time to reflect. I got home and was stressed and frustrated (it's not a holiday here like it is in Texas! And yet...we get President's day off?! That's frustrating in itself!). I was even thinking I was too exhausted to go to the church service. I'm so glad we went. It reminded me to quit focusing on trivial things here on earth, like the person at work who rubbed me wrong way or the wound that isn't healing as fast as I'd like, and start focusing on why I work in the first place. To be a light to those people. To share the gifts the ultimate healer gave me. Who am I to think I'm healing those wounds in the first place?

Saturday we had a fun surprise! Tauber and his GF came to town and we got to hang with them! Well, let me clarify. It was a surprise to me - my husband knew all about it. Even the fact that they were staying with us. He just forget to mention it to his loving wife. :) We went hiking and the boys fished in the afternoon while Kristen and I sat by the river and read. It was fabulous.



 Sunday was perfect. Beautiful and sunny - 75 degrees. We went to breakfast with Tauber and Kristen and then headed over to Sloans Lake to Park Church's Easter BBQ! It was great! The kiddos had an easter egg hunt and I must say, the little ones from our small group made out with a killing of candy! Then we ate amazing brisket and potluck style sides, Grant got beat in ladderball by a 7 year old, and cornhole and frisbees were thrown all afternoon!






We then headed home, rested up, and went back to church at 6. The service was a perfect celebration of Christ. We started with baptism....



After baptism we headed into the church, where each of us were handed a flower and before sitting at our seat we placed it in a jar at the alter of the church. Then it was worship time. Page CXVI (our worship band) did an amazing job and it was a beautiful time of singing and praise.


Brian gave a great sermon and we sang some more. Then we headed out to dinner with some friends. Not exactly the fancy feast my extended family always makes on Easter, in fact, it was mexican food! But it definitely will suffice.

We missed our family in Dallas and our traditional Easter, but are truly glad we stayed. We had a great time with Park Church, Taub and Kristen, and our good friends from small group. Maybe next Easter family will come up to us and enjoy Easter the Denver way!



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Texas Relays and Track Reminiscing

I love track and field. It may not be the most popular sport in the US, but it certainly is my favorite.

I MISS track and field. I was so fortunate to get to jump in college for Arkansas back in the day. Does 5 years ago count as back in the day? I think it does. My body is certainly not what it used to be and I certainly couldn't go out and run as fast, jump as high, or lift the amount of weight I could then, so back in the day certainly makes that seem more acceptable! So yes - I miss high jumping back in the day and this last weekend made me miss it all the more!

Grant and I got to fly to Austin and meet up with my parents and Meme to see the Texas Relays! This was one of my favorite track meets when I was competing. There are so many memories and emotions revolving around that meet. It's one of the largest meets in the country - with high school, college, and professionals all competing over 4 days. I fell in love with high jump in 8th grade when my dad took me to Texas Relays to watch Erin Aldridge (a volleyball player and high jumper for UT who was my idol as a kid). I competed there for the first time my softmore year, all wide eyed and terrified at how huge and loud the crowd was.  I competed and placed in the state competition there my senior year of high school, missing most of my prom to do so. I hid under the bleachers with Jessica Johnson as it poured down rain my freshman year of college, jumping in a monsoon first.  I jumped the best I ever had and received 2nd place at Texas Relays my junior year of college. And then....I tore my knee in a warm up jump and jumped the worst I ever did in college my senior year, ending my high jump career and having surgery soon after. Lots of memories. Lots of emotion. So it was a little bittersweet going back. But it sure did bring up lots of reminiscing! Here's a few pics I have on my computer from time I competed there. I have lots more but they are pre digital age. :)

Softmore year of high school outside our hotel - haha - I'm pretty sure all of us stayed in one hotel room. Oh the IHS days...and this was the year Maurice Green ran and Meme hyperventilated and acted a fool when she saw him!

Junior year of college - clearing 5'10 and getting 2nd place


So after competing there for 8 years, this was the first year I returned to be a spectator at the blessed Texas Relays! And although it brought up lots of emotion, it was fabulous! A great time with my parents and my sis Meme, wonderful weather, tons of talent, and even a tan! Amy Acuff high jumping, getting to see old teammates Wallace Spearman and LaShante Moore run in the pro events, seeing my college alma mater compete, several future olympians around, and even watching the cute little high school teams run - I loved every minute! I could sit for 8 hours straight like that in the sun and watch people compete every weekend! In fact....I used to...only I was competing for a few of those hours. We were all hot and sweaty on Saturday as we sat and watched so no pictures were taken but I at least took one with the sis on Sunday! Sad I didn't even get one with my rents.


I love humidity. I love my family. I love Texas. And I love Track and Field. It was the perfect weekend. Thanks mom, dad, and Meme for joining us! What a great time!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Song of the week

Do you ever feel like everything is crashing around you and there's nothing you can do about it? You fight battle after battle, most of which are not even your own, and you just can't seem to win? Thus is my life these days.

It can be overwhelming - health battles, relational battles, work battles, emotional battles, financial battles. This world really is a war. It affects me to my very core. It affects my every move. Why you ask? Well, because, if you didn't realize..I happen to be female. I truly believe we are 100% different than men in the way we deal with life. At least Grant and I are 100% different there. Guys can compartmentalize. Guys can react rationally to a problem at hand. Me? I am an emotional being. I carry all these worries and emotions and take on everything as if it's my own problem to fix...from my own issues, to patients in my hospital, to issues in my family, and issues that are Grant's. And when I can't fix them all....I get even more emotional. (I still maintain that part is not my fault. I cry at the drop of a hat because my mother does!) So what have I been like the last few weeks you ask? SUPER EMOTIONAL!

When I get emotional, I also get kinda "emo". Like every song has meaning and all lyrics are speaking to what I'm feeling. My favorite thing to do when I'm sad is sit alone and listen to music. There have been a few songs I can't get away from lately.


IT'S TIME - IMAGINE DRAGONS
So this is what you meant?  When you said that you were spent.
And now it’s time to build from the bottom of the pit right to the top,
Don’t hold back
Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain-check
I don’t ever want to let you down
I don’t ever want to leave this town
‘cause after all
This city never sleeps at night...

It’s time to begin, isn’t it, I get a little bit
Bigger, but then, I’ll admit, I’m just the same as I was
now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am.

So this is where you fell,

and I am left to sell the path that heaven runs through miles of clouded hell, right to the top - don't look back





Turning to rags and give the commodities a rain-check
I don’t ever want to let you down

I don’t ever want to  leave this town
‘cause after all
This city never sleeps at night...

It’s time to begin, isn’t it, I get a little bit
Bigger, but then, I'll admit, I'm just the same as I was
now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am

This road never looked so lonely,
This house doesn’t burn down slowly,
To ashes, To ashes

It’s time to begin, isn’t it, i get a little bit
Bigger, but then, I’ll admit, I’m just the same as i was
now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who i am


SONG FOR YOU - ALEXI MURDOCH
So today I wrote a song for you
Cause a day can get so long
And I know its hard to make it through
When you say theres something wrong

So Im trying to put it right
Cause I want to love you with my heart
All this trying has made me tight
And I dont know even where to start

Maybe thats a start

Cause you know its a simple game
That you play filling up your head with rain
And you know you are hiding from your pain
In the way, in the way you say your name

And I see you
Hiding your face in your hands
Flying so you wont land
You think no one understands
No one understands

So you hunch your shoulders and you shake your head
And your throat is aching but you swear
No one hurts you, nothing could be sad
Anyway youre not here enough to care

And youre so tired you dont sleep at night
As your heart is trying to mend
You keep it quiet but you think you might
Disappear before the end

And its strange that you cannot find
Any strength to even try
To find a voice to speak your mind
When you do, all you wanna do is cry

Well maybe you should cry

And I see you hiding your face in your hands
Talking bout far-away lands
You think no one understands
Listen to my hands

And all of this life
Moves around you
For all that you claim
Youre standing still
You are moving too
You are moving too
You are moving too
I will move you 

I love music. It brings out feelings I don't expose otherwise. But it doesn't make my battles go away.

I also love our church. It is so different than anything I've been a part of. Maybe because it's a church in a very different culture. Church in Denver is so different than church in Texas. Maybe because it's small and a more family feel. Whatever the reason, God has put us at Park Church in the perfect timing. We have been going through Hebrews and I love what I'm learning. God is telling me "Hey you! I'm here! This is all for my glory!" with every sermon. 

A few weeks ago it was with Hebrews 12:3 - "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart". And 12:7 - Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son was not disciplined by his father?" And 12:12-13 - "Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that you may not be disabled".

Then the next week, Hebrews 12:14 - Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord".

And finally, this week. Hebrews 13:5 - "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence 'The Lord is my helper! I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'".

So what am I trying to say? I'm saying that I so often forget that in the midst of all the gunfire of life, there is someone so much greater than me in control of it all. Someone who wants to fight my battles with me. Fight them for me. And sometimes, he even puts me smack in the middle of the battlefield to strengthen me. So while things might be overwhelming and hard, "He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted" - Job 5:9. And I'm choosing to trust that. And trust that he is the greatest warrior known. Bring on the battles.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Since I'm still catching up on blogs from the entire winter, I thought I should share what we have been dealing with here - ACTUAL WINTER WEATHER! I must say, the snow has been a challenge to get used to, but it's really growing on me. Denver snow is perfect becomes it comes so frequently, but goes away just as fast.

The upside to snow? There's a whole new world of activities to do! Of course skiing....which we frequent often....



But there's also all sorts of other winter sports I never really thought about. Like cross country skiing, which we took my fam to do when they came to town....Meme particularly enjoyed that I think. :)


video

And our favorite snow sport. Snow shoeing! It's basically hiking in snow. But the scenery is always beautiful, anyone can do it, and my favorite...you aren't freezing because you are getting a workout! We have gone many times since moving here to many different places and taken others as well! I think it's our favorite winter pastime!


In Vail with the Martins


In Estes Park with the hubby


Echo Lake with the Usrys


Echo Lake


And then of course, every day events are always more fun in snow as well. Like taking Sager to the park...



Or going on a walk....




Unfortunately, not all things are fun when it comes to snow. It is in fact, COLD when it snows! I'm getting used to that, but I am not getting used to the 5 million layers of clothes I'm required to put on just to go to the car, or to get the mail, or to walk to work. It feels pretty funny to wear scrubs with huge waterproof boots and my ski coat every day.

The other thing I'm not fond of...shoveling snow. It's a law in Denver to shovel your sidewalks. You have 24 hours to clear them after snow falls or a 85 dollar ticket is coming your way. I must admit, I usually leave this task to Grant, so I probably have no room to complain...but it's a pain. Nevertheless, even that we are becoming pros at. Grant has it down to an art. He can usually shovel our sidewalks and our elderly neighbor's house in about 20 minutes flat!


The other thing I'm not fond of...driving in snow. Not driving actually. It's more commonly a parking issue for me. We have spent many a time since winter came scraping, shoveling, pushing, reversing, rev'ing, and begging my car to move as it has gotten stubbornly stuck in a pile of snow. I have gotten stuck in front of our house, behind our house, in our alleyway, and at restaurants in the few winter months we have experienced here. My CX7 just can't handle the snow. Lesson to be learned? If you move to Colorado, make sure you have snow tires and four wheel drive - neither of which I have.

So snow is an experience. And it can be a pain. But the truth is? Snow is beautiful. And every time we get it, we really are walking in a winter wonderland!








Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Year in Denver

I have really been slacking on blogging lately. Not for lack of things to say, but for lack of time and effort to say them! I've even had family and friends ask me where the blog has been and encourage me to keep writing. And still, I haven't been able to keep it up well since all the craziness of school in the fall. But today marks the one year anniversary of Grant and my move to Denver. So I am going to attempt to revive the blogging in honor of that!

This time last year, we were driving the huge Penske full of everything we owned up the 750 mile trek to Colorado to start a new adventure together. Let me tell you, I had a lot of hopes and visions for what this move would be like, for what Colorado would be like, and for what our lives would be here. But looking back over the last 12 months, I couldn't have known all that this year would hold. Good and bad. It has stretched me out of my comfort zone in every way and been a constant state of change. If you know me well, you know I'm not good with change. I'm one of those very disciplined, very structured, must be on top of things and feel in control at all times personalities. Type A throughout. So change? Not usually something I enjoy being in my vocabulary. And in the last 12 months, I have changed locations, changed climates, changed cultures, changed church communities twice, changed careers, changed, changed, changed. Everything that we thought this would be has proved to be something else and everything that would lead me to feel out of control, God has placed in our lives. 

For example:
Our plan: Our primary focus for moving to Denver was to be of help and support to Watermark Denver in any way we could. 

God's plan: Watermark Denver unexpectedly and very suddenly closed its doors in June, forcing us to start all over and find a new church community that we eventually found in Park Church.

Our plan: Grant and I moved here with the intention that he would work as a local sales rep for the Denver area, selling office supplies and furniture to local businesses.

God's plan: In August, Grant was asked to take a different position within his company, in which he had to travel 5 days a week to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 3 months straight (which he did from September until December) and he continues to travel outside the state about twice monthly now.  

Our plan: Grant and I moved here with the intention that I would work as an RN in the GI department at Children's Hospital Colorado. 

God's plan: I quickly realized that wasn't for me, applied and was accepted into a WOCN program, completed 12 hours towards a masters degree and 150 clinical hours, took my board exams and accepted a position in September as the Certified Wound, Ostomy, Continence nurse (CWOCN) for the inpatient units at Children's. 

Our plan: When G and I moved, we immediately felt a love and connection to our neighborhood, becoming great friends with our neighbors and feeling like the Lord placed them in our lives to grow and develop as our closest friends here.  

God's plan: Our neighbors recently accepted a job in Washington D.C. and are moving there in a few weeks. 

Moral of the story? Don't have plans! Or at least have the understanding that they may not go as planned! Things are not what we thought they would be. But the funny thing is, we still LOVE being here and KNOW it's where we are supposed to be. There has been a lot of change. WAY more change than I ever thought I could handle and guess what? I am still alive! 

What have I learned from all this? Perhaps God's purpose in bringing us here was not just so we could be a light in a less churched culture, not just so we could have new adventures in the great outdoors, but maybe, just maybe, it was so we could work on us. In this one year, I have grown more and learned more about myself than I have in a long time. I have affirmed what I believe and who I believe in and proven to myself I can do things (through Christ) that I didn't think I could. So...although I still don't love change, I know that being here is right. And I feel an inherent peace within me that I never felt in Dallas. So...maybe change is good. Even when it doesn't seem to be. Maybe God's plan is better than mine! And maybe Colorado is meant to be. Even if it's not what we thought it would be.

One year ago....



One week ago....


 Here's to year number two!