finding perspective: there’s always someone else.

The long awaited First of July is finally upon us!

Maybe you didn’t know that today is an important holiday. That today new doctors all around the country, fresh from medical school graduation and their Hippocratic Oaths, are coming to a hospital near you.

But everything’s coming up roses over here because we’re walking our way out of Jake’s second year of his medical residency and into year three.

(You know, pushing play on season three of Grey’s Anatomy.)

WE’RE HALFWAY DONE, and this is something that cannot be said in lowercase letters.

Last year I processed this important holiday by writing about how I’ve learned to deal when the hours are long. I think I thought I might have a lot more to add to the list this year, but, as it turns out, things like “Communicate” and “Die to yourself” still prove to be incredibly effective relationship tools.

There is this one thing though. This one phrase that has been on repeat in my brain all year and never fails to jolt me back to perspective just when I’m about to staple the “Feel Sorry for Me” banner across my entryway at the end of an 80 hour week.

There’s someone else.

My life always feels less hard when I think about my friends or acquaintances whose lives are, indeed, much harder than mine.

Yes, Jake works long hours, but then he comes home.

That sentence alone gives me reason to never complain.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about the “someone elses” in a different way.

It all started when I read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Two years ago we were uprooted and transplanted to Cleveland and God met us here. He has provided comfort in the affliction and constant reminders that this is where He wants us right now.

That doesn’t change the residency requirements though. And, when the long weeks start to feel agonizing and like I might indeed sink through the hatch and into the sea, I think about someone else.

It’s like five years from now and I meet her in line at the grocery store. She has more kids than arms, and I only have one (kid, both arms still) because the rest are in school. She tells me that her husband is about to start his first year of residency, so I invite her over for coffee. We talk about all the things and become fast friends and then scour places like the library and preschool parking lots for other new friends because when things get hard, we both know the importance of rallying the troops (a perfectly normal and realistic hypothetical scenario).

There’s someone else.

So that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I’m learning that, with an eternal perspective, nothing is without purpose. That God promises to comfort me during the challenges of my life and then, in turn, comfort others through me.

That doesn’t make the hard things any less difficult to paddle through, but it does fill me with a lot of hope and the good kind of anticipation about what the future holds (and this applies to a lot of things in my life outside of medicine).

So, here’s to year three.

To the new lessons, new challenges, and new relationships born from hypothetical dreams.

And, in case, you’re out there celebrating this holiday too, make sure you don’t wind up in the hospital. I mean, give them until at least September to get the hang of things.

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new year. new prayer.

I didn’t start 2017 in a particularly good mood.

I usually like to think about fresh, white canvases and blank pages to write a new chapter of our story into on the first of the year.

Instead, I woke up in the thick of post-vacation chaos: suitcases and miscellaneous bags of things strewn all over the living room, piles of mail that needed attention, and kitchen countertops that I think were under the clutter somewhere.

And that’s not to mention the three tiny people in our house who were equally struggling to get back on rhythm.

I had a headache by 9 a.m.

And yet, headache or not (Oh, you thought it would have gone away by now?), the blank page remains. And, it’s not in my nature to ignore it.

It’s so easy for me to get bogged down and frustrated about this phase in my life. And lately, I’ve found myself praying things like, “Please help him sleep,” or “Please calm her down,” or “Please cancel the rest of residency for the year, so Jake can be home all the time to help me.”

And then, this week I was reminded of something I wrote a few months ago about finding value in the hard things.

So, I’ve decided this year, my resolution is to seek change for myself rather than from other people.

When it comes to the sleepless days and sleepless nights (all the coffee over here, people), I’ve decided to start praying for patience and strength and gratefulness that God chose me for these kids.

When it comes to said screaming kids, I’ve decided to start praying for wisdom and that God would help me know our kids, so I can love them well.

When it comes to residency, I’ve decided to keep praying that it would be cancelled because that, at least, seems pretty reasonable.

Solomon asked for wisdom, too. And, as we enter the new year, God’s response to his request gives me hope:

Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind.

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So that’s where I’m at. Standing on the blank page of 2017 and knowing that when I look back on this chapter in a year, I’ll be a wiser, more patient, and better rested version of myself.

(I can still pray for sleep, right?)

Here’s to another year of choosing to live each day well. Who’s with me?

the one where I turned thirty.

I have arrived, and it feels good.

Now, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’ve been thinking about turning thirty since right around the time I turned twenty-nine. I like to really gear up for things, you know?

But as this particular birthday approached, I found myself more drawn to reflecting on the past than setting plans or goals for the future.

Can there be a more transformative decade than the twenties? (I have no way of knowing the answer to this question.)

I turned twenty about a month after Jake and I started dating. A year later, we got engaged, and a year after that, we had graduated college and were living the newlywed life. I started my “career” as a teacher at 24, had a couple of babies by 28, and had moved across the country to a city of champions by 29 (Jake and I like to take credit for all the various successes in Cleveland since our arrival).

I often ask people when I will start to feel like an adult, but in looking back, I see that it happened slowly over time. I was just a kid when I stepped foot into my twenties, and then each year shaped me or refined me or challenged me in some way. I walk into this new decade a completely different version of that doe-eyed college student who thought the end game was predictability and a white-picket fence.

My twenties changed me for the better, so I processed them the only way I really know how: I wrote about them.

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I thought about each year of my twenties and tried to pinpoint what exactly it taught me. And what I found as I combed through each year of the past decade, is that God has taught me things all across my twenties which have perfectly prepared me for where I am today. Equipped me to continue to take steps forward even if I’m not entirely sure where the road ahead leads.

So, if you’re interested in all those thoughts, you’re welcome click the link below where you will find a PDF file–a compilation of essays I wrote in reflection of what each year of my twenties taught me: 

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It is nothing out of the ordinary. The writing doesn’t contain any real tragedy or nail-biting cliffhangers (unless you’re particularly riveted by things like marriage or car trips across the country).

But I’ve come to decide that even the ordinary needs to be celebrated and acknowledged. It is real, and it gets us to where we are today. And, for me at least, that felt worth writing about.

So, here’s to thirty and all it has in store for me. For us. I like it already.