Apraxia Awareness Day 2023: Caiden’s Apraxia Journey

On Caiden’s third birthday, hot tears of disappointment and frustration adorned my cheeks like sprinkles on a cupcake. You see, Noah, my 5 year old, had been saying for months, “When Caiden turns 3 years old, he’s going to talk like us! When he’s 3, he’ll speak just like me.” The child-like faith that has been instilled in me for generations was stirred by his words. And while I fully understood that speech delays don’t work like that, my child-like faith experienced child-like disappointment when God’s answer to Noah’s plea was a gentle, “Not yet.” I can still see the Thomas the Train birthday banner I was hanging above the window as I cried in annoyance with Caiden, who desperately needed something from his mama, but try as I might, I couldn’t understand his words. Desperately, he told me over and over what he wanted. I would guess and get it wrong, and he would cry harder. I would ask Noah if he understood what his brother was saying. More often than I care to admit, Noah would translate for us. It seemed like he understood Caiden better than the rest of us, and I felt both admiration and jealousy of this brotherly bond. If Noah didn’t know, we would play a broken and distressed version of charades – until Caiden either gave up or we guessed correctly. All five of us were exhausted, Caiden was desperate for connection and communication, and God answered our prayer with “Today isn’t the day that Caiden’s speech will suddenly catch up and be corrected. Not yet.” My tears blurred Thomas and Percy’s smiles as I finished securing the birthday banner.

Most days were like this. When I think back to Fall 2022, my memories are a blur of sick kiddos, attempting to help Noah adjust to kindergarten, balancing going back to work with 3 kids, communication that consisted only of a series of broken syllables, grunts, and pointed fingers, watching people misunderstand Caiden’s speech, speech therapy appointments with goals that remained unmet for months, reminders of “use your words” and “move your mouth when you speak,” and more tears than I could ever count. Caiden spent most days angry, sad, anxious, or frustrated. A lot of nights I went to bed tired and teary eyed, discouraged and disheartened. What kind of mom can’t understand her own child’s voice? What kind of mom must I be if Caiden doesn’t even want to talk to us? How could I have prevented his frustration today? Should I have read to him more when he was a baby? Most of the first 2 years of his life, we wore face masks due to COVID. Could this be the reason he’s struggling with speech? I would pray nearly every night, God, make this easier. Make Caiden’s experience easier. Frequently, I would crawl into bed next to him and pray over him. I would text my mom after he had fallen asleep, “It’s been another hard day, please pray.” For her December birthday, Mom asked her trusted friends and prayer warriors to pray for Caiden during designated times of the day. In my own vulnerability, I asked our small group, some church members, and coworkers to pray alongside us for Caiden. I begged them to pray big and bold prayers on his behalf. My own heart echoed each day, Lord, make a way for him, make it easier for him; make it easier for us.

In January, I committed to spend every single day in the Gospels. With a plan each month to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and record what stood out to me in each pass through. I’ve heard many of these stories hundreds of times in my life, but on this particular day, the story of Jesus healing a deaf and mute man stopped me in my tracks. 

“After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.” – Mark‬ ‭7‬:‭33-35

I had heard that story told by dozens of pastors and Sunday school teachers over the years, but that day, hearing the words “The man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened…” felt like God saw my struggle in the same way that Jesus saw the struggle of the deaf and mute man: up close and personal. My prayers changed in that instant. I dropped the mascara I had been applying while listening to Mark’s words, so I could talk to Jesus. With clenched fists, I had been holding on to the prayer that God would change Caiden. But from then on, my new prayer was, “Lord, if You aren’t ready to loosen Caiden’s tongue, would You instead open my ears to understand him better?”

Later that month, I needed new language for what Caiden was dealing with as I completed an application for him to attend a day camp at the high school. “Speech delay” didn’t quite fit anymore for a 3.5 year old who spoke full and complete sentences, but words in his sentences weren’t understood by listeners. I brought my question to our kind and caring speech therapist who had been seeing Caiden consistently for 6 months. At this point, he had already been in speech therapy for over a year, but I truly believe the consistency of one therapist over the course of this season was evidence of God’s provision. His therapist tenderly told me that Caiden had consistently not met speech goals, and although he could follow directions incredibly well, he couldn’t recreate the words and sounds she would prompt him to say. She did an assessment that very day and explained to me that she suspected Caiden has childhood apraxia of speech, a motor function speech disorder.

That afternoon, I turned to Google. Until the day I was told my son had childhood apraxia of speech, I had never heard the term. I read descriptions of apraxia of speech in every variety, from layman’s terms to professional articles. I listened to podcasts from professionals, found a Facebook group for parents, and soaked up every bit of information I could. For a few days, we grappled with what this all meant for Caiden. We grieved a little. And then, like any mom on a mission, I got to work. While rocking Levi for a nap, I made a bulleted list on my phone of every step of advocacy Caiden would need from me–from obtaining documentation of his official apraxia diagnosis by his pediatrician to getting more resources for him to methods of better communication with him. I texted my list to Drew with the same urgency as a flaming arrow.  It was the first time I really realized our boy is fighting for his voice, and from that moment on, I refused to let him go to battle alone. Sweet Levi snoozed in my arms, unbeknownst that while he dreamed, his parents were applying their battle armor. 

Fast forward to today. Currently, we have increased our number of speech sessions per week, and Caiden will get even more speech therapy in the fall. The therapy he’s receiving is a specific therapy that is evidence-based in treating CAS. We’re now learning and using a ton of American Sign Language as a family. Caiden also has several “freestyle” signs and gestures that he has created himself and uses to communicate with us. We have entirely eliminated the phrases “Use your words,” “Move your mouth,” and “I don’t understand you,” from our vocabularies and won’t allow anyone else to say those things to him either. Caiden has received a grant to help cover speech therapy co-pays. Drew and I received a scholarship to attend an Apraxia Conference to learn more about what our boy is overcoming. I wish I could go back and tell myself at Caiden’s 3rd birthday that God’s “Not yet” that day was really more like a “Buckle up; your schedule is about to become very busy but just wait until you see the joy in the process. Also, strengthen up that patience muscle, Sis. You’re in for the long haul.” Maybe Thomas and Percy wouldn’t have looked so blurry if I could have known all of this then.

The Lord has been abundantly kind to answer my prayer request of opening our ears to better understand Caiden’s speech with a “Yes!”.  Most days I understand his words better than I did in the past and almost always better than anyone else around him. He’s happier now; he laughs more often. My boy attempts to speak more now than ever before, even when we can’t understand. Instead of crying, these days when he can tell a listener doesn’t understand right away, he says “Follow me!” so he can show them his needs. He combines speech with signs and gestures to better communicate his words. Recently, I sneezed, and when he said, “Bless you, Mama!” I nearly wept, because he had never said that before. Caiden works so hard at his speech every single day; his resiliency is truly outstanding. And as far as I’m concerned, there are few things in life cuter than a preschooler using sign language. Every day still has its own challenges with communication, articulation, and understanding, but I will be the first to confess that today is easier than Caiden’s birthday was. However, it isn’t lost on me that while Caiden has progressed and the hard work is his alone to claim, the Lord first had to humble me to realize I was a work in progress, too. My desire for “this” to become easier wasn’t met until I stopped asking God to change Caiden and instead, asked God to change me.

Caiden’s apraxia diagnosis has opened doors for him and for Drew and me, as his advocates. We now have language to better understand the challenges he faces, support groups where we glean wisdom from families further down the road than we are, and a therapy team who sees Caiden’s strengths and weaknesses and knows he’ll want a blue sucker after his session. But it would be unfair of me and unfair toward Caiden to wrap this up with a pretty bow. The Lord has answered some of our prayers with a “Yes,” but He’s answering many of our prayers with a “Not yet.” YES, Caiden is making significant progress, and yet his speech is over 50% unintelligible even to a familiar listener AKA his own parents. YES, our boy is resilient and yet how tired he must be of repeating himself. YES, I see our boy who is happier and more confident than he was six months ago, and yet I know he still has an uphill battle for every sound and syllable that is second nature to us. YES, I will sing along to “Christ be Magnified” when it is played during worship at church, and yet I will cry through the opening line: “Were creation suddenly articulate” because sudden articulation was my literal prayer for our son not too long ago. YES, doors have opened for Caiden and yet the key to those doors has been plans of care and IEP paperwork that make my eyes burn with tears. YES, childhood apraxia of speech isn’t something I would have wished for Caiden and yet naming what he’s facing has answered prayers that I didn’t even know I had. YES, the Lord has opened my ears to better understand my boy, and yet today isn’t the day he has quite loosened Caiden’s tongue. 

Not yet.

So we will wait. Like Abraham and Sarah waited for a promise to be fulfilled. Like Hannah waited for her own little boy. Like Joseph waited in prison: with purpose and without bitterness. Like Elizabeth and Zechariah waited for the forerunner of Christ, but no one ever mentions the impatience they must have felt waiting for the return of ol Zech’s voice, and I can’t help but empathize with Elizabeth–waiting for the voice of someone you love is a really hard wait, too. . .

We will wait, but we will praise Him in the waiting.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1


I’m proud to be a nurse every day, but this Nurse’s Week, I’m especially proud because I have three new letters behind my name and am officially a Bachelor’s Degree Nurse! The journey to my BSN has been a long time coming and along the way there were so many times I felt like giving up. Through a cross country move, job change, pregnancy, a new baby, unexpected surgery, juggling school, work, and new motherhood often felt too challenging, too inconvenient, and too exhausting. But now I’m so glad I made my education a priority. I couldn’t have made this work without the grace of God, the encouragement from my husband, and support from my family!

Happy Nurse’s Week to my fellow Warriors in Healthcare! Your hard work and compassion is not unnoticed.

“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles‬ ‭15:7‬


The Lord’s Army

Saying "Yes Sir!" to God

I’m a terrible singer. And I’m not just saying that. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but thankfully my 6 month old son doesn’t know that. I love to sing praise and worship songs and Noah loves it when I sing to him so everyone wins!

Recently, I’ve been singing old Sunday School songs that I grew up singing along to. One of my favorites is “The Lord’s Army”. Have you heard of it before? Maybe you need a refresher?

I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never fly o’er the enemy
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes Sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

This song was legit. We were allowed to stand up during this song, because each line had its own motions that made the song even better. During the “Yes Sir!” Part of the song, we would salute our Sunday School teachers and one another, and enthusiastically raise our voices. “Yes Sir!”, we would say as loud as permissible, with grins across our faces. I look back at singing this song, and remember everyone having fun singing it, but it seems like the “Yes Sir!” part sticks out the most.

So yesterday, as I’m singing this song to my little boy while he splashes in the bath tub, I sing it exactly how I remember it, motions and all. Emphasizing the “Yes Sir!” and even saluting to Noah to make him grin back at me. And suddenly my adult heart and my child heart collide and I’m overwhelmed with guilt.

As a Christian, and a soldier for the Lord’s Army, I’m called to say “Yes Sir!” as enthusiastically and happily as I did while singing this song in Sunday School to anything God calls me to do. However, instead of saying “Yes Sir!”, I’m guilty for making excuses.

“You must mean someone else, Lord.”
“I’m not well equipped for that, someone else could do it better.”
“The timing isn’t great.”
“I can’t afford to do that right now.”
“When I’m finished with school.”
“Someone might judge me.”
“I’m too afraid.”
“I don’t know how.”
“I’m too tired.”
“I don’t think I can do it.”

And so on, and so on, and so on.

Friends, this thought hit me like a ton of bricks! Our Heavenly Father is the Commander in Chief of His Army with the very greatest mission in all of the universe which is for others to know His grace and His love so they can spend eternity with Him.

And yet here I am, looking at my feet in doubt when I should be grinning and saluting and yelling “Yes Sir!”

So now, I’m praying that God will take my hands into His. I pray that He will hold my hands that are too often spent wringing in worry and teach them how to salute instead. I pray that I won’t let my own “stuff” get in the way of His mission. I pray that The Lord will use my life and my family as a vessel for His divine mission. I’m praying the same for you, friends.

So here’s to less excuses and more saluting. To saying “Yes Sir!” even when we’re afraid of the order because God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

“But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭22:5‬ ‭

Love Always,

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope that you guys are having a blessed day with your families and have lots to be grateful for – today and everyday! Here’s ten things I’m thankful for this season:
1 – My relationship with the Lord. I fail Him daily, yet He has never failed me. I am grateful to have a Heavenly Father who loves me abundantly when I don’t deserve it. He cares for me, and best of all, He desires a relationship with me in return. I’m thankful that the King of kings laid down His life so I could have life more abundantly in Him.
2 – My husband. In the past year of pregnancy and parenting, my husband has shown me grace upon grace. I am so grateful for the servants heart he has shown me time and time again. He works so hard for us. My love for him grows daily and Drew has truly been the most amazing partner, friend, and father I could have asked for our family. I‎t is a blessing to love and be loved by him.
3 – My son. I don’t think I understood how deep and wide the depths of my heart was until I met the tiny human I call mine. I am so grateful for his smiles and I want to bottle up his little baby laughs and squeals so I can always remember their music. I am thankful for every single beat of his heart and I love that the Lord lets me be his momma.
4 – Our armed forces. I am so grateful for the dedication and commitment of the American soldier. For protecting us and our freedoms while sacrificing time with your own family, thank you.
5 – Chick-Fil-A. Do I even need to elaborate? Hearing the sweet voices of the kind employees saying “my pleasure” feels like coming home. There’s nothing better than a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and waffle fries in my book. Can we just skip the turkey and have Chick-Fil-A instead? 
6 – Coffee. This delicious nectar of the gods has been giving me life these days. In a “gotta have it, can’t stop, won’t stop” kinda way. Thank you, Sweet Jesus for coffee with creamer!
7 – Sleep. Since being a new mom and a night shift nurse, sleep is a luxury that I feel like I never appreciated. This year, I am especially thankful for sleep because I’ve been guilty of taking it for granted in the past. 
8 – FaceTime. FaceTime has allowed me to better communicate with our friends and family while living in Texas. I’m so grateful that technology helps us stay in touch and still see each other, even virtually. Definitely better than nothing!
9 – Pretzel and Pepper. Our little cat and dog can sometimes add more things to our already full to do list, but honestly, I wouldn’t be “me” without them. They’re sweet and snuggly and cheer me up when I’m sad. I’m thankful that our son will grow up with a dog best friend and learning about responsibility, love, and kindness.
10 – Friends and Family, aka YOU! I’m so thankful for the network of love that Drew and I have. Love, laughter, and support are priceless and Drew and I have an abundance thanks to our family and friends. Y’all are loved.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

To My Newborn Son

Welcome, little one. This world is not perfect, and neither are we. There’s not much in this life I can guarantee, but I can promise you’ll be loved as long as you breathe.

See, you were born in our hearts long before your existence was spun into creation and hand knit by the same God who hung the moon and painted the stars. You are the son of the Master of the universe. You are fearfully and wonderfully made; designed with intention and purpose. Son, you are so small now, but I know the Lord has big plans for you. I pray that as these plans are revealed in your life that you will be a soldier for the King of Kings. I pray that your light shines brightly and never waivers. I pray you are a man after His own image. As you grow now, I pray for every drop of milk that hits your tiny belly and every molecule of oxygen that fills your lungs. Son, I pray that you grow big and strong and beautiful. 

As your momma, I’ll also be your warrior. I will slay your dragons and chase your monsters. I promise I will hold your hand when you’re afraid, but more importantly I will illustrate bravery and teach you to be your own hero. We will learn together, side by side, and will probably teach each other a new thing or two. You will teach me strength and no doubt will test my patience. You will teach me to let the little things slip through my fingers so I can grasp the entirety of your childhood with both hands. I will teach you to read and give every character its own voice. I probably won’t teach you to throw a football, because that’s your dad’s area of expertise, but I will teach you to have fun while you perfect your skill. I will teach you it’s okay to cry when it hurts. Most importantly, I will teach you to love fiercely and without limits. 

But for now, you sleep soundly in my arms, with your tiny fingers twisted around the collar of my shirt. I pray these hands will grow to help others. I pray that your hands will be soft enough to comfort others but strong enough to protect them. I certainly hope that as your hands grow to take up more space in mine that they will forever reach to find comfort with me.

You are my Tender Heart, my little one, the absolute joy in my life, my sweet son. And though I may have only met you a couple months ago, I feel like I have always known you, like you have never not been a part of me. As I watch you learning about the world around you, I’m learning more about you and more about me. I love myself most in this new chapter of being your mom. Who could love you more than me?

Being your mom is my greatest adventure. Together, we will write the most beautiful story. I love you, sweet son, with a love I did not know was possible until our eyes met. 

“O Lord, how great are thy works!” Psalms 92:5


Photography by Shelby Blick at http://www.shelbyblick.com/

My Best Tips for Pregnant Nurses

My Best Tips for Pregnant Nurses from a new mom and med-surg RN.

During my pregnancy, I worked up until the very last minute. Literally. My water broke at 38 weeks, 6 days while in a patient’s room! The shift before my water broke, I was performing CPR in order to save a patient’s life! It was exhausting, both mentally and physically, but I feel like I had a healthier pregnancy because I continued to work. Of course, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before following any advice because each and every pregnancy is unique!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a small commission. But I’ll always give you honest reviews on products that I’ve tried. Pinky swear.

1 – Rest on your days off. Pregnancy makes you so exhausted and nursing is a physically demanding job. Don’t worry about a clean house and get some extra rest! I used my days off to lay around the house, and once at 37 weeks, spent the evening floating in the lazy river at a nearby water park! Seriously, your body needs to recover from working long hours with the extra weight of your baby, placenta, and all those fluids that keep your little one healthy in utero. If you’re determined to work until the end of your pregnancy, take advantage of those glorious off days to rest and relax!

2 – Don’t wait to get maternity scrubs. When I was pregnant I put off buying maternity scrubs because I felt they were an unnecessary expense until I was popping out of my regular scrub tops. So instead, I waddled around the hospital with my bump busting at the seams of my scrubs. When I made the switch to maternity scrubs, I was so much more comfortable! It even made doing my job easier. The expense of maternity scrubs was definitely worth the extra space for my growing belly. I felt like I could bend, breathe, and stretch so much better in my new scrubs. I really loved this maternity scrub set. The bow around the top of the bump was so cute to accentuate my changing belly! I also bought an extra pair of scrub pants so that I always had comfortable pants clean for work. Trust me on this, the sooner you switch, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Maternity pants are the best!

3 – Wear compression socks! My feet and legs would ache after a 12 hour shift! I remember getting in the car after working all night and feeling like my toes were throbbing. At the end of my pregnancy, my feet also became very swollen. Compression socks made a huge difference with the swelling and gave my tired feet some relief after long shifts. My sweet husband bought me these compression socks as a Mother’s Day present. They are a little expensive, but I plan on wearing them when I return to work after maternity leave to prevent varicose veins and protect my feet, so I think they’re worth it!

4 – Tell a coworker you trust. Before you feel like the time is right to formally announce your pregnancy to your supervisor or manager, consider telling a trusted coworker. That way if there is an emergency, someone is aware of your situation. One of the charge nurses that I work with realized I was pregnant even before I had told my parents! I was a little self conscious that she had found out so early in our pregnancy, especially because she found out when I became really nauseous at the nurse’s station. Looking back though, I’m glad she knew so early. If I had become injured or ill while at work, someone knew that I was carrying our baby and would be able to advocate for me if I was in a position where I couldn’t advocate for myself.

5 – Ask for help. Nursing can be a physically demanding job! Nurses who aren’t pregnant should ask for help lifting and moving patients, but you should be especially careful to request help with heavy lifting while you’re pregnant. You definitely don’t want to injure yourself or put your baby at harm.

6 – Bring extra snacks. I was so hungry throughout my pregnancy! It always seemed like I would be especially hungry in the middle of the night while documenting my patient assessments. There is always the temptation of splurging on something from the vending machine, but those salty snacks aren’t great for pregnancy because of the risks of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. I highly recommend bringing a variety and an abundance of foods from home. This will save you money and be much healthier for your pregnancy.

7 – Avoid contagious illnesses and avoid administering unsafe drugs. This one is a little harder, but some patient illnesses aren’t safe for pregnant moms to care for. Shingles is a big one, as well as patients who are receiving radiation treatment. Some drugs are unsafe for pregnant women to handle, so be careful around those as well. I know Coumadin is one drug to be cautious with, as well as chemotherapy drugs. Like always, talk with your doctor about their specific concerns, what to avoid, and your pregnancy.

8 – Stay in close touch with your doctor. My doctor knew I was a nurse and the demands that my body was going through at work during our pregnancy. Her and her staff were phenomenal about answering my questions and addressing my concerns, especially at the end of our pregnancy.

Congratulations and good luck, Nurse Mama! Take care of yourself while you’re taking care of others!

Just before my very last shift, 38 weeks, 6 days.
What advice would you share with pregnant nurses?

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
-Psalm 139:14


God’s Grace in a Back Brace

God's Grace in a Back Brace

Long before I ever dreamed up the possibility of the letters RN following my name, I was a little girl with another dream. A dream rooted deeply in personal experience and passion driven by frustration. Before I began chasing this dream, I dreamed of becoming a pediatric orthopedist because this girl was on a mission to fight the object that angered me most: my back brace.

I was prescribed a back brace for my kyphosis in the 7th grade. I remember I hated my brace, but not more than my momma hated it for me. I recall being an adolescent, desperate to fit in, which was sometimes hard because my back brace literally stuck out 3-4 inches right between my shoulder blades. Once, in the heat of an argument, my sister called me ugly because of my brace (don’t worry, we’re cool now). And another time, I remember my dad threatening to ground me because I hadn’t worn my brace in a couple hours (He was the compliancy police when it came to that back brace). I remember a kid in my class that used my back brace as a set of drums with his pencils when his assigned seat was behind mine. And I remember my little cousin being born and not being able to snuggle him as a sweet baby because the plaster I was encased in was the very opposite of gentle. I’ll never forget my collection of maternity jeans as a 7th grader because the elastic fit over my brace better. Or the time I woke up in the middle of the night to rip my brace off because I couldn’t sleep comfortably with it on.

But when I look back at my time in a back brace, I don’t remember those challenges as specifically as you would think I would. In fact, I really have to make myself dig deep and get to the hard stuff to reflect on those moments. Instead, I remember grace. Sweet, beautiful, unmerited grace that I didn’t deserve.

At the time, I don’t think I fully understood the impact that brace would have on me. To this day, not a day goes by that it or my scoliosis doesn’t cross my mind. At the time, I don’t think I could have grasped the platform that my brace was going to have on my future. I don’t think I realized that I would one day use it to speak to groups of high schoolers about pursuing careers in medicine and leadership. I never could have predicted that wearing that brace for two years would lead me to lifetime in healthcare.

You see, that’s how God’s grace works sometimes. During the challenge, we don’t always see the way the Lord is working in us. We only see the hard parts, the parts that make us go home and cry and tear off the orthotic devices our dad says we have to wear. While the Lord is working on us, we only see the construction zone that looks more like demolition. And we forget to read the sign that says “Please excuse our mess, construction in progress”.

But friend, even when it’s messy and challenging, and just plain miserable, God’s grace is still in action. He’s cooking up something amazing for us during our time of weakness. I have to believe that those two years in a brace were shaping more than just my spine. Those years spent wrapped in shiny metal and hard plaster would soften my heart for my future patients.

I saw God’s Grace in a back brace. I still see it every day in my life, how He challenged me for two years to mold me into the person I am today. I saw God’s Grace in a back brace with the outpouring of love and support from a classroom full of preteens and my compassionate teachers. I saw God’s Grace in a back brace at every single doctor’s appointment when I met children with diagnoses that had as many words as sentences.

I see God’s Grace in a back brace when I can look back at a difficult time in my life and use it to help others and glorify our Lord. This is exactly what grace is about. In fact, the Lord Jesus teaches about grace in one of my favorite scripture: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 Check out those words in red, y’all.

God’s grace was exemplified during my time in a back brace. Probably the weakest part of my life as an adolescent, but I will boast all the more gladly about that weakness so our Lord can be glorified by it. And that’s God’s Grace in a Back Brace.

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” 2 Peter 1:2


An Open Letter to My First Year as a Nurse

To my first year as a nurse,

A year ago today, we started our journey, you and I. I remember how my eyes blurred when they reached the computer screen that revealed I was officially a Registered Nurse. 365 days ago, this voyage began. Each day since has been a little different from the one before it. But the same in that I am still constantly learning. Each day brings new opportunities for me to learn and grow, as well as it’s own unique challenges. While I hope my second year as a nurse has more grace and less tears, I am positive that I’ll continue to learn something new everyday with it, too.

To this first year, you have showed me things about love that I thought I knew already. But then I watched them illustrated right before my eyes and fully understood. You allowed me to be a part of families happy endings as their loved ones were healing. But you also put me in positions where my face would be associated with anger, fear, and sadness. You have let me peek into family dynamics and see first hand, just how frightening and fascinating this human experience is.

During this past year, you allowed my stethoscope to hear the heart beat of fresh starts and new beginnings. But it also heard the silence of a hollow chest when life left its earthly host. I have held the hand that was fearful and I have had shifts where I left with my hands held up in frustration. I’ve listened to the breath sounds of the sick while trying to catch my own breath from being so busy. I have remembered how many times a patient has been to the bathroom while easily forgetting to go to the restroom myself. I have lived in a whirlwind of a to do list, attempting to ensure I also see the big picture of each and every patient. I have stepped in and out of hospital rooms to introduce myself to hundreds of strangers. They have become a part of my story as much as I am now a part of theirs. I have heard stories that have moved me to tears and told my patients stories of my own in hopes of making them smile. If I learned anything this year, it’s that laughter truly is the best medicine.

This year has brought me joy and frustration, happiness and sadness, tears and laughter. It has been a journey, a roller coaster, and sometimes an internal struggle. And as I enter year two of this career, calling, and adventure, I still wonder, God, why did You pick me for this job? Surely someone else can do a better job than me! And while the Good Lord still hasn’t given me His answer, and I’m confident that there are so many people that are doing a better job than me, I also have no doubt that for whatever reason, He has placed me in this field with a mission and purpose. Until I figure that out, I’ll continue to do my best, attempt to be the best eyes and ears for the patients in my path, and show them that someone cares.

So to year one, thank you for your experience. For the lives I’ve been able to affect, thank you. You were not easy on me, and made me cry more than I anticipated 365 days ago. But you showed me that the title I carry is earned, not given.

And to year two, I hope you’ll be a good teacher, as well. I hope you give me more situations where I can show love and compassion. I hope you’ll give me a little more confidence, but never enough confidence to make me dangerous. I hope you’ll let me be a part of more happy endings than sad ones. And I really hope we can show one another grace in the next 365 days.

Thanks for the memories, year one. It’s been one for the books.

“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:16‬ ‭


The Storm Before The Calm

A Blog Post about fear and anxiety before finding peace.

The storm before the calm.

I know we’re all more familiar with this phrase flipped around: the calm before the storm. But I think that sometimes, it’s the opposite. To me, the phrase is better reversed, transposed, flipped. Sometimes I think life is most scary and painful and difficult and heartbreaking right before something absolutely amazing happens.

You know something really great is on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean you don’t grieve what you’re leaving behind. The time before you meet the next incredible chapter of your life is often overwhelmed by tears, fear, and resistance. You know the next page has beautiful words, but want to linger on the black and white in front of you just a little longer.

Trust me, I get it. Take our recent move to Texas, for example. I knew Texas would provide many unbeatable opportunities for us. I knew it would be a time of growth for our marriage. I knew that it would be an adventure that we will cherish for a lifetime. We had prayed for months and months and felt like God really wanted us in Texas. Still yet, the days before the move were dark and cloudy. Tears came like fat raindrops and I couldn’t always stop them. I was scared and anxious, my stomach was in knots. The storm before the calm.

I find comfort knowing that I’m not the only one who has experienced the storm before the calm. In fact, it’s something my friend Jesus and His disciples experienced in real life.

“And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
-Mark 4:36-41

The Bible says the disciples were terrified. They thought for sure they were going to drown. Sweet friend, has your storm made you believe that you’re drowning? I know there have been recent times that mine has made me feel like I couldn’t get my head above water. But Jesus, sweet, perfect, almighty Jesus, can calm that storm and the wind will obey Him.

The thing about that story that I never realized growing up hearing it in Sunday School, is that Jesus didn’t just come to the disciples and calm the storm right away. He could have. Although He was sleeping, He knew it was storming. He knew they were fearful. He knows everything. But He waited for them to come to Him. What would the disciples have learned if they hadn’t come forward and asked for His help? But because He let them come to Him and ask for His help, the disciples learned the power of the storm before the calm. Maybe He’s hoping we’ll learn the same thing.

Now that I’ve flip-flopped that old adage around, I can see about a hundred more circumstances in my life that have been the same way. Human nature resists change, our brains are literally wired to want things to stay put. Sometimes amazing things come our way, but we still have a hard time letting go of what we know and what we’re accustomed to. Friend, it’s okay to grieve that loss. I promise.

Maybe it’s a big thing in your life that has caused a storm. Or maybe it’s a little thing. I’m not judging, cause I’ve wept over the small stuff myself, so you’re in a safe place here. And each and every day, I still have storms before the calm. But I do find hope in one of David’s beautiful psalms. “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalms 30:5.

There have been times that the storm loomed over me so badly that I woke up and the joy hadn’t arrived yet. Wanna know what I did? Went back to sleep. Friend, with patience, persistence, and prayer the storm will calm, even when it feels like it won’t. And when you just can’t shake those storm clouds, remember that rain makes the flowers grow. There’s a reason the weatherman hasn’t lifted that storm warning quite yet. I have to believe that. Maybe He’s just waiting for you to ask Him to.

Friend, are you struggling through a storm right now? Waiting for your own calm to show up? I get it. I’m right there with you. Let’s weather it together. You can stand under my umbrella (-ella, -ella). 

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” – Mark 4:39


Christmas Grows Grief

Maybe this is the first Christmas since the fire stole your home or the fifth Christmas since your loved one passed. Maybe it’s your first Christmas since the lay off, or the eighth with an empty seat at the dinner table. Maybe this Christmas you have presents purchased and their recipient isn’t here to unwrap the paper and ribbons. Maybe this Christmas is the first Christmas since deployment. Maybe this Christmas you’re miles apart from your family (hi mom). I don’t know specifically what’s in your heart this Christmas weekend, but I do know that the twinkling lights tend to shed light on the darkest parts of our hurt. One thing is for certain: Christmas grows grief.

I want you to have hope through the hurt this holiday. I want you to remember that we celebrate Christmas as the day of ultimate joy when King Jesus was born to change the world for sinners like me and you. I hope you’ll remember the same twinkly lights that emphasize your pain are also a metaphor for the reflective, shiny streets we will walk in Heaven because Jesus came to Earth. I hope you’ll find comfort knowing that Mary felt both joy and sorrow as she welcomed her baby boy into a world that would hate him.

Most of all friend, I pray that the Lord Jesus will fill the holes and cracks of your hurting heart with His love this Christmas. I pray you find joy and peace this holiday, despite your suffering. I pray that there is love in your heart and home no matter how much sadness has taken up space there. I pray that you will remember that historically, Christmas is a time of both joy and pain and that you are not alone. 

Merry Christmas, friends! I pray you find joy this holiday. Happy Birthday, sweet Jesus! I know that because of You, I can find peace despite any sadness.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11