Dear Kara, Here Goes Nothing

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So if you haven’t heard of her already, Kara Tippets from her Mundane Faithfulness blog, is an incredible woman going through incredible hard. And I’ll be honest, most of the time I don’t read it. Because I’m too fearful. Too scared that her story could be my story one day. But that is not how we are called to live. That is living in fear. And we are meant to go out and live each day that God has given us and live it well. And I think that is something Kara would want us to take away from her story. To love our people well and live in Grace.

So here I am, scared of cancer and being given an opportunity to live in Grace in a new and unique way. As many of you know, I am a nurse and my hubby and I have recently moved to California. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but California is expensive. Really, really expensive. So I needed a job.

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Well, God has a funny way of working things His way, and not ours. When I was in nursing school, I didn’t really know specifically what areas I DID want to work in, but I did know the areas I DIDN’T want to work in. Geriatrics and Pediatrics. My first nursing job right out of school was working Inpatient Rehab. And I worked with mostly geriatric patients. I gained a whole new appreciation for the geriatric population, and learned how to love them better. And here I am, having recently accepted a job in pediatrics.

But what does Kara’s story have to do with all of this, you ask? The job I have accepted is in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. And I’m terrified of it. (Shh, don’t tell my new managers!) But there have been several things and people that have really encouraged me about taking this job and I want to share them with you.

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First of all, I found out about this job and basically got it, because of a friend I have met at our new church. She is a great woman and has such a sweet family. We have really enjoyed getting to know them. Well, this friend had an interesting point. I had mentioned that I would be willing to work in a pediatric ICU or work Medsurge, or the Recovery room; pretty much anything but Hem/Onc. Her response has kind of stuck with me. She said that when working Hem/Onc, it isn’t anybody’s fault. In the ER, a kid will come in that got into their parent’s drug stash, or an abusive victim, etc. But on this unit, no one is to blame. And then I noticed her passion for her job, and how much she loves getting to work in this field. That says a lot, if you ask me.

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I also spoke with my Aunt Mary Ann, who I talked about in this post, and she had a great perspective as well. She told me that regardless of whether I am working there or not, these kids are going through this. Those kids have cancer. Or a blood disorder, like Sickle Cell Anemia. Hard, heavy stuff. And they are going to be dealing with that story. So I have an opportunity to be a part of their story and to have a huge impact on their lives. And on the lives of their families. Because, as Kara knows, it isn’t just her story. It is her kids story too, and her husband’s story, and her friends’ stories. So I can either sit idly by, and feel sorry for them at a distance, or I can be a part of their story in a very real way. And I can love on them in a unique way that not many other people will have an opportunity of doing.

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I have also talked with my cousin Sarah about all of this. Because I know that working with these kids will be hard. But that’s okay. And Sarah knows about this hard. Her dear friend Shannon passed away this past year after a long fight with cancer. Here is a little bit about her story. So Sarah has much to say about nurses on a cancer unit. About being able to listen. And just be present. About how if you don’t know what to say, to just ask. Because we don’t always know what is to say, or the right thing to say. But we can ask. And when we ask, we love that person in our sincerity. I can love the kids, and the families, and the friends that surround them in their journey. And I can love them well and without fear, because I know that God has brought me to this place, and to this job for a reason.

I think I have a lot to learn about cancer. And a lot to learn about my faith in the Creator. The Loving God. And that He holds our story in His hands, and isn’t about to drop us, or let go, or forget about our story.

And in the midst of all of this, I am going to live. Not in fear of cancer, or sickness. But fully. Loving my little girl that I have been blessed with. Loving my man. Going on hikes, and adventures, and camping (!!) with those I cherish. Fearlessly loving those around me. Because that is what I have really been called to.

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How are you living and loving big today?

Moving gives you insight…

About how crazy you are. 

(This post was written right after Easter. I have no idea why I haven’t put it up yet, but I still wanted to share these thoughts with you.)

IMG_2533 Food intolerances. They change your life. They change the way you always ate and thought about food. They make you paranoid. I was the mom putting gummy bears and apple juice in her kid’s Easter basket, and just one thing of chocolate (peanut butter cups from WholeFoods). And when you move to a new place, it just gets worse.

I annoy my husband fairly frequently about food allergies. Especially when I do things like try to find out about gluten-free options at a food truck. It was laughable really… But after spending my entire life as far back as I can remember being sick all the time, and finally starting to actually feel better (not to mention Eden’s story) excuse me if I’m a bit paranoid.

How we eat breakfast when we have no furniture yet...

How we eat breakfast when we have no furniture yet…

In Colorado though, it had become normal. All of our friends knew about our issues, and while I did talk about it far more than necessary, they all understood. They lovingly protected my daughter, making sure their kids didn’t share their snacks, or checking that she had the right sippy cup. We were shown such love in such an unlooked for place through the community we were surrounded by. Our friends went out of their way to cook things we could eat, and make treats just for us. And I cannot possibly explain to all of you how much that has meant to me over the past year and a half, as we have learned about the food intolerances Eden and I have. We knew what restaurants to go to, and what to order, without having to ask and check ingredients or ask for allergy pamphlets. No, we aren’t going to die if we eat the wrong thing (I feel truly blessed that we don’t suffer from anaphylactic reactions!) but it definitely won’t be pleasant, and I would really like to just avoid that all together.

Not to mention the fact that some things we are still trying to figure out. Just how bad is my intolerance to gluten? Milk? Will Eden ever grow out of this? There is still a lot of learning we have to do concerning all of this. But it had at least become normal. And then, obviously, we moved. Just to help me realize exactly how crazy I can be about all of this. I already felt like I was a bit of a drama queen about food insensitivities, talking about it all of the time. And frequently apologizing because I was afraid I was coming on too strong about it, all of the time…

Ha! I didn’t really grasp the fact that we were going to have to start at square one once we moved. Now we are finding new restaurants and people we have just met are graciously inviting us into their homes for an Easter get-together and dinner (!!!) and this is what I am obligated to bring up very early on. Every time. I mean, my gracious, I was just in line with a lady chatting as we ordered our breakfast from this adorable little diner, and it came up. She asked such a simple question, if we had tried their cookies yet (which were out as samples). And then she heard probably more than she bargained for about having a kid with milk allergies. But then we swapped information and last week we went to a local farmers market to visit with her family and some of their friends.

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So in this weird way, it is definitely opening our lives up to others, and we are once again being shown love in unlooked for places. As I mentioned, we were invited to an Easter celebration at someone’s house after visiting a church for the first time here. And we were so welcomed and so well loved. But since there was food being served, I had to perform my typical paranoid ingredient checking to find out if there was anything for Eden to eat (I had brought back up snacks, just in case). And they had an Easter egg hunt for the kids, which was so fun! Eden was adorable :) and she had her own special eggs haha!

But this is a very humbling realization. Because relationships are so frequently built around a meal. You open up your home to show people love and to welcome them to a new community. You feed them a meal to show that you care when they are sick, have a new baby, or have lost a loved one. This is so often how cultures across the world and throughout history have shown others love. Through food. And I have felt more loved by people caring enough for our family to help us through this and just listen to our story. Just last night we had dinner with a couple that we met at church on Sunday. They were so sweet and so welcoming! But when she invited us to dinner the other night, I explained to her our food issues, and asked if it would be easier to do something different, maybe just coffee. Instead, she told me about a recipe she just made last week for a gluten free family and said asked if we could bring a salad :)

Outfit she picked out to wear, including the shoes. I added the bow :)

 

Okay, I know I’m rambling a little bit here, so I’ll wrap this up. I just want to tell all of you thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for how you have loved our family. I never in a million years would have pictured me being this crazy mom, but here I am. And for making us dinner. Or for simply listening to me whine. This certainly hasn’t been the easiest thing but you have made it a little easier. If you know someone who has food allergies in their family, don’t be afraid to try to love them in this way. Invite them over for dinner, and welcome them into your home. Even just the invitation will be welcome. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their story, you will only get to know them a little better!