We Have A Plan

Three weeks ago I shared that I was freaking out.

With a capital F.

A LOTTT has happened in the last few weeks and I’m starting to feel significantly less anxious.

Although I’ve got to admit this whole thing still seems incredibly surreal.  When I realize that it is, in fact, VERY REAL, I feel sad and anxious all over again.

On top of the crazy emotion of our move, I’ve recently been hit relentlessly with other sad and difficult circumstances, one after another.  It kind of feels like I’m stuck in a strong ocean current and I keep getting dragged under.

I struggle to get my head above water.

Breathless and eyes burning, I call out to God.

“Lord, I can’t do this.  My heart is broken.  I feel like a failure and a fool.  Help me to know how much you love me.  Help me meditate on that and not the sad circumstances or the harsh words of others.”

“I need you, Lord.  I need you.  Every hour I need you.”

The pain doesn’t disappear, but the head-under-water feeling dies down.  I choose to trust Him even when I can’t see Him.  I choose to believe He’s good even when circumstances are bad.  Little by little these things have built my faith.  They’ve anchored me when I feel untethered.  They’ve drawn me right to the heart of God which is where I want to be.

I’m now counting them as blessings and not curses.

When my heart isn’t reeling from all of that, we’ve been making strides with our upcoming PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to Maryland.

Andy got the ball rolling by handling the online portion of the process.  That included the selection of a moving date (June 15th) and things started to really ramp up from there.

We got home last night from taking a short trip to our new county to find a home.

Thanks to the good Lord and my friend Rochelle (who actually found this place online!), we landed an incredible home!  It’s everything I could have hoped for and more.  Quiet neighborhood, great (and close!) elementary school, lots of space and natural light, and even a local pool at the end of our block!

I’m honestly humbled to have found something so perfect.

This neighborhood library box is directly across the street from us on our neighbor’s front lawn!

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I mean, how cute is that??? It’s like something straight out of a fairy tale!

We are in the process of completing the lease, but once all the i’s have been dotted and t’s have been crossed, I’ll share a picture of our new home.

It’s a huge relief knowing when we are moving and that we have a home to move into, but there is still so much to be done.

The weeks are going to pass more quickly than I’d like them to.  My prayer is that I can breathe deeply, trust God fully, abide in peace, and stay present.

I’ve got my work cut out for me!

Freaking Out

You guys, I am freaking out.

We could be moving NEXT MONTH and I have no idea what’s going on.

Andy finishes school THIS WEEK (where on earth have the past 4 years gone???) and then he leaves in a few weeks for his Navy Officer’s Training in Rhode Island for 5 weeks and ONE WEEK LATER he starts working as a Resident at Walter Reed in Maryland.

Somewhere in there we need to sell our house, find a new house, pack all our crap up and move our whole family to Maryland.

No big deal.

Except it’s a HUGE deal.

In the midst of all that there are graduation parties and weddings and a hundred and one other things that require me to be involved.  To be sane.  To show up.

And all I want to do is hide.

There are friends who have had new babies and I should be taking a meal.  There are friends I haven’t seen in weeks that I should be getting together with.  There are friends from my childhood that live nearby and want to hang out and I should be making time.  There are texts I should be sending and calls I should be making and important things I should be prioritizing, and all I want to do is hide.

So I’ve been hiding.

Laying low, doing just enough to get by and not always even that much.  I’ve been checked out emotionally with my kids and with Andy.  I’m hanging on by a thread with God.  I’m obsessing over every gram of carbohydrate, fat, and protein that I’m eating (when I’m supposed to be battling a food addiction…UGH) I’m not painting, I am watching countless episodes of Gilmore Girls in my spare time and I’m hoping everything works out, but fearing I’m going to mess it all up.

know it will all work out, but I also know I have to participate in all of it.  I have decisions to make and list items to check off and I’m overwhelmed.

I also think I’m grieving.  I think it’s finally setting in that I’m leaving my cute little house, and all of my friends and family and I’m not coming back anytime soon.

Everything is changing and I’m suddenly feeling very ill prepared for it.

So I’m hiding out and freaking out.

If you see me and I’m “off” this is why.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I’m hoping and praying I will snap out of it, but so far I’m just wallowing in it.

Stay tuned for updates when things actually start getting done and we figure out where and when we are going.  In the meantime, I appreciate the extra grace and mercy you may be able to extend.

The Results Are In…

You may have noticed it has taken me a couple of days to weigh in on what happened Wednesday with Andy’s residency match.

You guys, there has been so much to process!

I wish I could explain it, but I’m sure I can’t exactly.

You know I’ll use about 900 words trying though ;)

Rewind to Tuesday night…around 10pm.

Andy came into the living room where I was sitting and let me know his Army friend told him the results would actually be online at 0001 hours (12:01am) and we wouldn’t have to wait around all day Wednesday to learn our fate.

This made us both incredibly excited and nervous!  We planned to stay up (of course) and log on the second the clock struck 12:01.

We had to distract ourselves somehow so we grabbed a couple of beers and a card game and set about killing time.

Before we knew it, the time was upon us.  Andy grabbed his ancient Macbook (which is SOOO SLOOWWW) but had his login info stored, and we logged on.

It took forever and we were practically shaking.

I snapped this pic right before we logged on and although we look normal (albeit orange as Oompa Loompas!), we were in fact frantic.

With trembling hands we clicked into the status area and it said…

No data.

WHAT???

We refreshed the page…

No data.

AGGGHH!

This continued on for several minutes.  Andy texted his Army friend and learned he was having the same problem.

Phew! It wasn’t just us.

We changed browsers but didn’t have the password handy because Andy had the site set to auto-populate it.  He tore through our files looking for the info.

No dice.

We finally found the info in our internet settings and tried the site with another browser.

No data.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

Our life is hanging in the balance and there’s no data!

Finally Andy’s friend texts that he got his info…his first choice too!

YAY!

I was so happy for him and just knew Andy was going to get a good outcome.

About 30 minutes after originally logging onto the site, we refreshed again and it populated!

Specialty: TRANSITIONAL

Location:

Our hearts beating out of our chests, we read the words and had no idea what they meant.  I immediately asked Andy what that meant and he had no idea either.

We just sat their stunned and anxious and a wreck.

I kept asking him, “What does that mean??” and he kept telling me he didn’t know!

Oh my goodness you guys.  It was so stressful.

I immediately decided to Google it.

Thank you sweet Jesus for Google!

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Google seemed to have a clue what I was asking, so we poured through the search results and pieced together what this all meant.

Andy did not get an OB intern year.

He did not get a Family Med intern year.

He did not get Civilian Deferred.

He did not get a GMO tour.

residency options part 2

ALL of the things we had tried to mentally prepare for were not even what ended up happening.

So what DID happen?

From what we could tell, Andy did not get one of the 10 OB spots, or even a family medicine intern year, but rather a transitional year which is a year that rotates you through a bunch of specialties.  Because the location was blank, it looked like Andy would have to track down his own placement for the year.

That was BAD NEWS.

He had two local civilian interviews just in case he got Civilian Deferred, but they only had 3 year family residency programs, so as much as they liked him, he couldn’t do a transitional year at either of those hospitals.  He would have to pound the pavement to find a hospital that DID have transitional years available and he’d have to apply for one of them late in the game.

We’d lose our military salary and health benefits for the year.  It looked like Andy may even become a less desirable candidate for an OB spot after this kind of intern year.

We were crushed.

Then our minds started reeling about how he could possibly be in the bottom 50 of hundreds of Navy med students (the Navy took on 50 more students than residency spots PERIOD last year – DUMB). How could he with all of his outstanding scores and recommendations and interviews come in so dead last in this selection process?

One of my exact statements was, “Do the other students who got spots poop rainbows or something??? What makes them better than YOU??”

It was a very hard night.

We grieved and hugged and prayed and shed tears (me).

I felt like God forgot about us.  I felt like He was looking over His shoulder like, “Oh yeahhh, I was supposed to do something there, wasn’t I?”

I know that is not true.

That’s the voice of the enemy whispering to me that God isn’t good.  That He is holding out on me.

The same voice that Eve heard in the garden when she had everything she could have ever wanted and needed and the serpent convinced her that God was holding out on her by forbidding the fruit of that one tree.

“You better take things into your own hands, because God is holding out on you.”

LIES.

I know it.  I believe it.

So we asked God for peace.  We told Him that as hard as it was, we were going to trust Him anyway.

With as much uncertainty as there was, we were going to trust that He had a plan for all of it.

After very little sleep for me and practically none for Andy that night, we woke up on Thursday and the news hung heavy in the air.  Andy went down to shower before work and he came back up quicker than he should have.

Turns out he logged into the system again, kind of like looking in the fridge over and over hoping something new and delicious will suddenly appear when you’re hungry.  You know how that is, right?

AND THIS TIME THERE WAS MORE INFO.

Location: Walter Reed Naval Hospital – Bethesda, MD

OMG!

Again I was asking, “What does that mean?? Is it for real? Will it disappear?”

I peppered Andy with questions and he didn’t know why the new info was there now and not the night before, but another one of his military friends experienced the same thing…no location at midnight but it populated Thursday morning.

This news was for real!

We are moving to Bethesda, MD in June!

The relief that washed over us was palpable.  We were not stragglers having to carve out a way for next year.  Andy was not in the bottom 50.

In fact, Bethesda, MD was our first choice location for an OB intern year.  They only have 2 spots, but from what we can gather, even though they didn’t give one of those to Andy, it seems they didn’t want to let him go, so he got a transitional intern year there.

It’s a fantastic facility.  It’s where they took President Reagan when he was shot (fun fact).   It’s near DC and it’s only about 8.5 hours from where we live in Michigan, so it won’t be too hard to drive back to MI for visits as we adjust to living away from our friends and family.

Getting this news was like entering Oz and having our world turn to color.

The emotional roller coaster we had been on in those 12 hours was harrowing.

Getting a bit of good news was so wonderful.

But I have to be honest, we are still grieving a bit.

Andy really really really wanted to get an OB intern year.  We would have happily gone to any of the 3 locations for him to have one.  Doing a transitional year makes us nervous.  We don’t know how this will factor into him ultimately getting an OB residency.

He may still have to do a GMO tour.  He may not get an OB residency and have to switch specialties (which is so sad to me because he’s worked so hard and done so well and may not get to do what he really wants to do).

Next year at this time we will be frantically logging into the site again to find out our fate again.

For now we are trusting God and processing the news and researching the areas in and around Bethesda.  We are hoping and praying that Andy will make a fantastic impression this next year and they will just have to have him in their OB program for the following 3 years.

If you’ve made it this far (I’m sorry this was SOO LONG) thank you for caring about our journey.  Thank you for reading my ramblings and for caring about our story.

I’m excited to see what God has for us and I’m excited to blog about all of it :)

bethesda heart

 

 

3 Day Countdown to the Rest of Our Lives

Ok, that title is probably a little dramatic, but STILL I cannot believe we are only 3 days away from knowing where Andy will be doing his residency.

I cannot wait, and I don’t want to know.

I’m crazy, I know.

Part of me is dying to find out so that I can imagine the next chapter of our life.  How far from Michigan we will be.  What kind of neighborhoods and homes will be options.  The climate of our destination.  What life might look like.

BUT, the other part of me kind of likes not knowing.  If we don’t have a destination, it all feels less real.  If I don’t know where I’m going, theres’s no use thinking about leaving.  It keeps me in the “now” which is a good thing for a futuristic thinker like me.

It’s probably also a form of putting my head in the sand over the whole issue.

In a few days I won’t have to debate about knowing or not knowing.  I’ll just know.

It gives me heart palpitations just typing that out!

Andy is an outstanding candidate, so I feel confident he’ll be placed somewhere great and land a residency in his desired specialty (OB).  Every interview he’s had has gone extremely well.  All of the programs and staff members really like him and are impressed by his scores and recommendations.  He’s just so awesome, you guys.

I’m beyond thankful he had the courage to pursue a career as a physician when I kind of tried to talk him out of it.  I nudged him toward something that might be more practical for his age, like being a PA or Nurse.

Those are both terrific career options, but he couldn’t shake the desire to become a doctor.  Despite the fact he was already 30 and would need a few years of pre-reqs before even applying to med school.  Despite the fact we were about to have our first child.  Despite the fact it would cost a bunch of time and money.

He decided to overcome all those obstacles to pursue a dream that took a long time to discover.  I’m so very proud of him for that.

His decision made a whole world of things possible for us.

Becoming a doctor is a big deal.  It requires a lot of hard work, discipline, patience, endurance, stamina, commitment, and determination.  I can see why so many people don’t do it.

I thought about going to med school when I was first starting my degree in Biology, but I talked myself out of it, not thinking I had what it takes.  Andy’s decision to do it and his subsequent success has made me see it is possible!  I look back and don’t have regrets at all, but I see that I really could have done it if I wanted it bad enough.  That gives me hope that when I do want to do something that seems “too big” or “too hard” I should go for it!

I’m hoping our kids feel like their dreams are more possible when they hear the nuts and bolts of their dad’s brave story.  I think his overcoming will inspire them to overcome obstacles to their own dreams.  What a cool gift to give your kids…

Ok, so you may be wondering where we could end up.  The answer to that is a little complicated…perhaps a visual aid would help.

residency options

Yes, I’m a nerd! LOL

Let me break down the visual:

The first year of residency is called an “Intern” year.

Andy could get an OB Intern year (his first choice of all options) and we would likely end up staying in that location (see green box above) for the full 4 year residency.

Andy may have to take a Family Medicine Intern year (see blue box) and then complete 3 years of OB residency in one of the green box locations.

It’s possible that he could be “Civilian Deferred” which means he did not secure a military residency in either Family Med or OB and he would do his full residency here in Michigan (sounds good from the friends and family standpoint, but would be a big bummer for Andy).  I don’t think this option is very likely because Andy is a stellar candidate.

It’s also possible that he could get a Family Intern year (see blue box) and then there still wouldn’t be an OB residency spot (green box) for him yet so he could do a 2 year GMO (General Medical Officer) tour (who knows where!) and THEN go on to do his 3 year OB residency.

As you can see, a LOT is up in the air.  On Wednesday we are really only learning about our next 1 year (unless he gets an OB intern year which would likely roll right into the other 3 years at the same spot).  I’m hoping the more complicated options above are NOT what we get, but I honestly trust God has things in mind for us that will be good no matter what.

Ok, I’ve gone on and on, but you may be wondering what determines where we go.

Let’s look at another visual:

where we are going

As you can see, a few things come into play.  We were able to rank our top 3 choices, but that doesn’t just mean we get one of those.  How Andy performed during his interviews and what the Navy needs are both factored in.

At this point I really hope we get Bethesda, MD or Portsmouth, VA because they are in Andy’s preferred specialty and they are on the East Coast so we could drive back to MI to visit.

In 3 days time we’ll know.

Until then, I’m trying to be patient, stay present, and trust God.

I’ll keep you posted!!

 

Lessons Learned

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Andy is finally home after being gone almost all of the past 2 months!!!!

I can’t even tell you how happy we are, I am, to have him home.  The kids have missed their daddy and I have missed my best friend.

I didn’t even realize how lonely I was until I had him home again.  To talk to, listen to, laugh with, show funny internet memes to, hold hands with, cuddle with, even to cook for!

The past couple of months have been very challenging, but also incredibly eye-opening.  Here are some lessons I’ve learned…I don’t want to forget these things:

I’m not as strong as I’d like to think I am.  Sure, I can handle everything and manage to get by, but I didn’t survive these months without some very humbling low points.  I need my husband.  I need other people’s help, support, and encouragement in my life.  I need God so.much.more than I realize.

Doing everything by myself these past months has proved to me that I can do everything by myself.  Stick with me on this for a minute… I learned that it’s physically possible. Not that I should do it alone, but I can.  I think I was subconsciously always trying to prove that to myself and to Andy.  I think it’s why I resisted his help and why I always felt guilty when he would do anything with the kids or around the house.  I know I’m a little crazy, but somehow now that I’ve “proven” this to us both, I don’t feel pressure to have to be so independent and stubborn anymore!  I treasure his help now, and I’ve learned how much I need it and how important it is that I get away from my “job” from time to time.  Being a mom who is on duty 100% of the time handling everything alone and never getting away from her job isn’t virtuous.  It’s a recipe for disaster.

God will raise up people around me even if they’re not the ones I expected.  I spent too much time being hurt that I didn’t hear from certain family members during this trying time, and that caused me to be temporarily blind to the lovely people that DID step in to care for me.  The texts from friends asking how I was holding up were priceless.  I didn’t need anyone to come over to do chores, but knowing someone was thinking of me was such an encouragement to my heart.  A dear mentor had yummy treats delivered to the house.  A kind neighbor stopped over during the evening ‘witching hour’ to bring little things for the kids or feed Drew so I could eat dinner or just chat since I hadn’t had an adult conversation all day.  A sweet woman from church told me week after week to pick a morning for her to come over for a couple of hours so I could leave the house alone.  A friend convinced me to come over in my pajamas with all the kids to hang out on a rainy day and her continuous generosity has inspired me to be a better woman. These were women I didn’t expect to be the ones to support me, but whose tangible love touched me so deeply.

I have to be ok with letting certain things go. It’s OK to tell the kids they have to go play on their own so that I can do something that fills me up or even just have some quiet time.  I don’t have to make a big dinner every night, we can eat simple and fast things that are healthy, but uncomplicated.  Dishes can wait until the next morning.  School can take place in the afternoon.  People can come over when the house is a mess.  I can push and push and push to make everything happen the way I think it should, or I can let go and breathe deep knowing that I’m perfectly loved despite all those things.

Facetime sucks. I’ve said it before, but Facetime is one of my least favorite things ever!!  The kids can be totally fine and the minute a Facetime call initiates they turn into little monsters.  Hogging the screen, pushing and shoving, gathering up 101 items to “show dad” up close in the camera.  Drew grabs at the screen, threatening to end the call.  Grace thinks she’s the only person in the universe.  Avery runs away and won’t come back.  It’s always too dark on my end and I can never get all of our faces on the screen, AND I forever have an odd scowl and 4 chins.  No thank you.  There’s nothing like REAL face time and I’m so glad Andy is home so we get a break from that special form of technological torture!

Prayer is powerful. I mentioned that I had some very humbling low points while Andy was gone and those usually involved me losing my temper with the kids.  I would try so hard to be patient and kind and gentle and they would keep pushing and whining and arguing and I would just lose it and start yelling.  I don’t think of myself as an angry person, but this crazy rage would bubble up inside me and spill out in these intense moments.  I came from a home where yelling wasn’t uncommon and I decided I did not want that to be the kind of home my children grew up in.  I’m all about authentically expressing hurt, anger, disappointment and sadness, but I do not think it has to happen in the form of yelling and screaming.  It’s scary and unnecessary.  No amount of self-control seems to be enough in the moments you’re on the brink, but there is something that helps…prayer.  I didn’t cry out to God fast enough in some of my rough moments, but there was always an opportunity to gather my babies into my arms and pray aloud to God for forgiveness, mercy and grace.  This practice would supernaturally change the emotional thermostat in our home.  In fact, it was so powerful that Grace began praying aloud for us all when things even started to get tense.  Her little child heart saw God’s goodness and it strengthened her faith and now, even through tears, she asks for prayer or just prays on her own, when things get hard.  I cannot even tell you how happy this makes me.  I pray she continues to believe God so earnestly.

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My husband is absolutely positively top-notch.  You know the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”?  Well, I experienced that first hand.  I have certainly been grateful for Andy throughout our marriage…he’s a great guy, and I’ve always known that.  I’ve been particularly thankful for him the past few years for sticking with me despite my many failures.  Somehow I don’t think I quite understood just how incredible he is until this stretch of time away from him.  It’s been a combination of having him gone, seeing and hearing about circumstances around me, and I’m sure the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart, but man alive I see what an absolute gem he is and I’m humbled that he is mine.  I think it becomes easy to take for granted what we have…to get into relational ruts…to become petty and ungrateful…to focus on things we wish were different.  I was sliding down that slope this summer in some ways.  With so many changes happening in our life, I think we’ve both experienced some inner turmoil, and that never really brings out the best in how we relate to each other.  The time away was a really good reset and I don’t want to lose sight of the serious blessing that he is in my life!  I love you, babe.

 

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