Oh, Sandy!

Hurricane Sandy, that is.

I kept seeing all the tweets and reading the news about all of these things about this impending hurricane.  Because I am in Florida right now, I didn't really think anything of it at first.  But, then as it got closer and closer, I worried more and more about my family and friends.

The path was basically from sea to the shores of VA up through DC, MD, DE, NJ, NY and New England.  I have family in almost every one of those places.

Then my mind goes to the crazy horrible worst-case scenarios.  Ugh.  What if...  What happens if... What about...

It's not a very fun game to play with yourself.  All day yesterday, I couldn't stop keeping track of FB and Twitter, just so I knew how people were doing.  I wanted to be there in part.  I mean, not that I could do ANYTHING if I was there, but being there with everyone and going through it together, somehow makes it better.  Right?

But, everyone is doing well, thank God.  Thanks for those who offered their prayers.

I continue to pray for all those who have lost loved ones, their house, the injured, etc.  May God bless you and be at your side during this time.

7 Quick Takes: Newbie Edition

1) My BBF, Martha, has been participating in 7QTs for quite a while, and was the one who explained all about it to me when I got home from Honduras.  I have been reading a few other blogs now that do 7QTs, and do find it to be a great way to blog, and be completely random (unless, of course your Takes are themed.)!

2) I realize that the Takes are usually done on Fridays, and I will probably post again on Friday, but it was just a few minutes ago when I realized I did indeed want to jump on the bandwagon!  (I know, I know, Mart...)

3) So, bear with me as I figure it all out.  I am excited!  And, am looking forward to meeting others that participate, as well.  (I just asked out loud to Martha and Tom, "how do you spell 'bear', as in 'bear with me'?"  Tom replies, "bear, as in black bear.  Because otherwise, you would be asking people to bare with you, as in, get naked!  I don't think you want to do that."  DUH!  This got a great chuckle from me.  Could you imagine someone asking you... 'bare with me'?!?!  No?  Not really that funny?  Had to be there.)

4) For those of you who may be visiting for the first time, and this is your first post inside my world, I am staying with Martha, her hubby, Tom, and their new baby girl, Susanah, in Naples, FL for a while as I try to figure out my next steps in life.  So, if you thought, even for a millisecond, that I had this weird relationship with my friend Martha and this dude Tom, you are mistaken.  No strange shenanigans over here, people.  Don't you worry!

Sweet 'Zuzu'... my precious goddaughter.

5) Tom works for their parish, as the music liturgy guy (I'm sorry.  His title is reallllllly long, and I make it sound like such a nothing job, but it's not.  He works incredibly hard to make all the music at every Mass beautiful and even writes/composes some pieces himself.  He is incredible, really.) and prepared the music all the way up to Advent in preparation for the baby's arrival.  Well, I decided to go to 5pm Mass this evening, which is the more contemporary/praise and worship type music.  It was AMAZING!!!!  He and God must have planned on me being at this particular Mass b/c every single song I love.  During communion the youth choir sang "This is Jesus" and it was just... just what I needed.  It's one of my absolute fave communion hymns... maybe ever.  I can't stop thinking about it.  God is so good.

6) Twitter and FB are blowing up about all things Hurricane Sandy.  I am from the DC area, so I have family and friends all around, and up the East Coast.  I am hoping that it's not that serious, but schools, governments and the like are already closed, and bottled water is out everywhere it seems.  So, I don't really know what to expect.  Please keep my family, friends and everyone that will be affected in your prayers!

7) I have only been to the beach ONE time since I have been here.  ONE TIME.  There is just something wrong with that.  I must, must, must take care of that this week.

Well, I hope I did ok for my first 7 Quick Takes!  Thank you to Jen over at Conversion Diary for hosting.  I kind of feel like I am meeting you or something! :)

Proud to be a nurse

Did you know that I am a nurse?  Full-fledged licensed nurse.  Oh, you read that over on my teeny profile thing to the right?  Good, good. :)

I haven't really had much to talk about in ways of nursing (well, yes, as in breastfeeding due to the fact my life is immersed in all things baby ZuZu, however that is not really something I am at liberty to discuss!), as I am not working.  Which, I am sure you have gathered if you've been reading this blog.  Still transitioning from my time in Honduras and figuring out what kid of nursing I want to jump back into.

If you don't know... there are all sorts of things nurses do.  Usually, the 2 we think of first: the hospital (staff nurse/bedside nurse) or doctor's office, giving you all those nasty shots.  But, there are a TON of other things nurses do.  Besides a bedside nurse in the hospital (which ranges from super intense to more mild sicknesses), you can be an educator on a specific unit, a manager, work in the outpatient clinics, be part of a specific team (wound care, IV therapy, etc), and many other things that I can't think of at this moment.

I worked as a bedside nurse at one of the top pediatric facilities on a Neuroscience unit (anything and everything to do with the brain and brain surgery!) as my first out-of-school job.  It was amazing!  In my four years there, I worked with some amazing people, had some great opportunities (for example, working with other nurses hospital wide to achieve Magnet designation which allowed me to travel) and learned a whole bunch about our amazing bodies.  From that experience I was able to gain the confidence to move to another country and use my skills to help the poor of our world.

Another option for nurses.  International nursing.... so many wonderful nurses travel all over the world helping those in need, where opportunities for quality healthcare is limited.  Those nurses are changing the lives of the sick, and usually poor, every single day.

Some other options include: community clinics, working on Capital Hill, becoming a nurse practitioner, doing research, home health, rehab facilities, legal nursing, holistic nursing, teaching in a nursing school, school nurses, camp nurses, surgery centers, public/community health, and on and on and on.

You see, I may be an experienced nurse, but I am still learning.  I am still learning what this wonderful profession has to offer.  I am still learning what type of nursing I can best serve all those who need to be cared for.  I know that God still is calling me to be a nurse (for a brief second I wasn't too sure), and He has a wonderful plan in mind for me.  But, I can't just wait around for it... I have a job to do too.  I have to explore and be open to anything... and then there will be a time when God's plan is made clear to me.  I am not saying the rest of my life plan, but the plan for now, at this time in my life.

Even though I am not working right now, I am, and always will be, proud to be a nurse.

For more information about Magnet Designation, please visit the ANCC website.
For other information about nursing jobs, please check out Nurse.com and this cool blog about alternative jobs.

There is something alive inside.

So, I went to the beach the other day (yes!  The beach. In OCTOBER.  So awesome.) and had a wonderful time.  Perfect blue sky.  Wonderful breeze.  What could be better?!



One of my absolute favorite things to do is people watch.  I just love watching them and figuring out their story. :)

The couple that was in front of me went swimming and then came back with some shells.  As they were looking at them and talking about them, the lady jumps up and exclaims, “there is something alive inside!  I don’t want to be a murderer!”  And then gently throws it back in the water to where it will be able to live it’s life.

This very quick moment got me thinking:  it’s amazing that this woman recognized that there was life inside the shell and worth something so much that it should live. 

What does that mean for babies?  What potential does a hermit crab have versus a HUMAN baby in it’s worth to live.  Why can’t a baby’s life just be worth it?  The crab will only live in the water and eat.  A baby will grow up, learn, love and hopefully be a productive member of society.

At the very beginning, when you find out you are pregnant- there is something alive inside.  Isn't she/he worth saving?  Would you be afraid of being a murderer, too?

For the love!

Man, I really thought that when I met my infamous niece, Charlotte, I knew what is was like to fall instantly in love.  To have someone completely get inside my heart and steal it.  To love so deeply that you only want the good, non-scary, fun and amazing things in life for her.  I thought this was only going to be possible for babies that were related to me, and then eventually my own.

Then, I met ZuZu.

I don't know how it happens.  I don't know how I could love someone SO much and SO quickly again, when it's not even related to me.  In the least.  But, it did.

I have met other babies, too.  Some pretty amazing and beautiful babies, from some pretty amazing and beautiful families.  I love those babes, too.

But, the love that I have for Charlie, and now ZuZu, is just different.

For Charlie... we are family.  We have been blessed by an amazing God to be related through blood, to love one another as another member of our family.  As her Aunt I have the opportunity to love her, teach her, spoil her and show her the amazingness of our Lord.

With ZuZu... I will be her godmother.  Her godmother.  After Martha asked me by way of this:


And being a little confused, and asked for verification that she was indeed asking me to the godmother... I was...

Well, I almost starting crying.  I was in Honduras, sitting inside our little Internet "hut" by myself and probably feeling a little down about things, and she asked something that I really didn't think I was worthy of.

My friend and her hubby are some of the most devoutly Catholic people that I know, and they also know a TON of people.  I'm serious.  It's a lot.  I mean, Tom (her hubby) works at their parish.  And for them to chat and think about who they wanted to be their first babe's godmother, and I came to mind?  That is just incredible.  I was just overwhelmed... and still am sometimes, and completely honored.  Totally honored.

Fast forward a few months, knowing that I was going to be this little girls godmother, and meeting her, at less than 24 hours old... God had prepared my heart to love again.  I looked into her eyes, kissed her perfect nose and played with her amazing, little feet... ZuZu and I already had this connection through the Holy Spirit.  Her godfather and I, along with Mart and Tom, have the amazing opportunity, and obligation, to help ZuZu learn about how wonderful God is, to love, and to live a life of faith.

For ZuZu... we are family, too.  We have been blessed by an amazing God to be related through the Holy Spirit to love each other through faith.  As her godmother, I will love her, spoil her, and hopefully, be given the grace to teach her the awesomeness of our faith!

This face KILLS me... every time. :)

I love, love, love her feet.

From the heart. Inside my head.

Ok, I know I just wrote about this a few posts ago about waiting for God's will to be revealed to me and what not.  But today, I am having one of those days where I just want to know.

I want to know what I am supposed to do that will make God proud and I will feel fulfilled.

I want to start planning.  I want to have a routine.  I want to feel needed and like my time is useful.  I don't want to keep stopping off at friends and family, feeling like I am mooching off of them.  I want to be a grown up again and live my life. 

Also, I want to just curl up and not do anything.

Clearly... both of these things can't happen.  Either one is a viable possibility.  And, obviously the first will be what does happen... eventually.

I have so enjoyed being here in Naples with Mart, and seeing her beautiful daughter, but I am feeling  like it's just all up in my face being like "bahahaha... you don't have a plan!  You have no life!  You can touch this life, but you can't have it!"

I know... I sound like a crazy person, right?  I don't really know where it's coming from.  I am really tired.  I haven't really prayed in the last 2 weeks (all that traveling).  And... you know what?  I think that I am afraid that God will tell me that getting married and becoming a mom isn't in the cards for me, even if I think I have it figured out already.  But then what?  I don't want to go down the marriage path and find that it's miserable for me and my future husband resulting divorce... or stay single and realize wayyyy too late that I am indeed supposed to be married, but then never be able to have kids.

Oh my gosh... figuring out God's will is hard.  I know, I am speaking the obvious truth here.  But, I seriously just want to know, so I don't have to worry.  Maybe I just want to make sure I am doing the right thing here.  With my friend.  And her family.  Can I offer the necessary support she needs?  Will I really be helpful?  Was it the right thing for me to come?

Um, this was some serious logorrhea (ya know, when you basically have word vomit).  I think I am done for now.  Try and nap, pray a little and then feel better.  That's what I hope for!

Road Trip Ramblings

First off… I would like to say:

I MADE ITTTTT!!!!!! 

To Naples, that is.  I am so excited to be here and be part of this babe’s life (and to not have to drive for long periods of time!).

Ok, so here are some of my musings/observations/etc from my road trip:

~ I really wish there were lookout/vista points on 81 in VA and 77 in NC.  I saw some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen.  I wanted to take pictures, but it was unsafe to stop on the side of the road; therefore lookout points are really needed. Sheesh.

~  Going to the bathroom really doesn’t cut that much time out of the drive.

~  Next time, I will pack more nutritious snacks that will keep me full.

~  Suggestion: if you don’t enjoy scanning the radio for music, get a thing that will play your music from your iPod/MP3 player.  I really don’t mind, so it wasn’t an issue for me.  Just for those who are interested.

~  I really don’t mind driving, but I do mind all of the crazy drivers out there.

~  My ear buds for my phone aren’t horrible, but I really wish I had my bluetooth.  However it’s not compatible with my new iPhone, and it’s not an expense I’m willing to pay for right now.

~ Wear sunscreen!  My left arm has a great burn on it.

Also, this is who I've been chillin' with lately. :)

Miss Susannah Marshall!

Almost Done

Welp, I am now in Tampa, FL staying the night with my aunt and uncle before heading down to Naples. :)

Wait.. did you think I was going to spend some time with my friend Irene in Charlotte?  Well, I did.  See:
I love you, Irene... thanks for being so amazing!

I drove down yesterday (Thursday) and was just SOOO looking forward to spending the weekend with my great friend.  But, when you have another friend expecting a baby very soon, you have to expect and accept that the baby will come ANY time. :)

I woke up this morning just before 7am to a text from Martha: "My water just broke!"  AHHHH!!  I shot up in bed, and asked if she wanted me to start driving, and she said yes.  So, I just had to leave and start driving.

Obviously, the chances of getting to Naples by the time the babe came was pretty low, but I had to try.  Therefore my time with Irene was too short, but I just had to get to Naples and see this baby.  (I WILL go back and spend some much better time with her, don't you all worry.)

By 2:12, I was just past Jacksonville, and Miss Susannah Marshall entered this world.  So, making it by the birth was kind of a mute point.  Because I still had multiple hours to drive, I decided to spend some time with more family.

I will drive the last 2 hours of my road trip and get to Naples in the morning and be DONE!  I cannot wait to meet my beautiful goddaughter and give her lots of love and kisses. :)

5 States in 5 Days

I am back in VA for the night, and will head to Charlotte, NC tomorrow and see my friend IRENE!!! I am excited, can you tell?  We were fellow volunteers in Honduras, and I am SO looking forward to being in close proximity with someone from there, and who just... gets it. :) :)

Anywho... I was in 5 states in the last 5 days (yes, this does include my drive today from NJ to VA, but it sounds cool to say I was in all of those places), and had a great time.  Spending time with Coll is always fun, to see her enjoying her life as wife and mom.  It's just so neat to witness all of the things we talked about back in college actually happening.  She has such a beautiful family, and I had fun playing with the girls (as seen in previous post) and laughing about silly things with Coll.  I love friends.  Thanks for letting me hang out!  Love you.

I drove across PA (who knew that it was SO long?!  It took a little over 6 hours.  I just never thought about it.) to get to Jackson, NJ to visit my Aunt Susan and Uncle Ronnie.  I was so happy it was able to work out that I could stay with them.  They have been nothing but supportive and loving with EVERYTHING in my life over the years, AND meeting my mom and I at the shore every Summer for however many years.  I know Aunt Susan is also reading this... so, THANK YOU for everything.  I love you both so much, and appreciate your love and support.  Seriously.  Thanks for having me and treating me to dinner and laughing and listening to me ramble on and on about, well, everything.

I had an easy drive home to VA today, and had some pretty good reflections, which might turn into some blog posts. :) Stay tuned...

FREAK OUT!

Today... I had a little freak out:

What am I doing? 
Should I really be taking all of this time to travel around?
Am I being selfish?
Are people going to be upset with me if I don't see them?
Should I be spending more time with others?
What about money?
What if something horrible happens, I run out of money, I'm stuck on the side of the road and I can't even fill my gas tank?  Then what?

If you know me... this is how I operate.  I over-think, analyze, worry and think of every little reason why I shouldn't do something until it drives me crazy and I have a freak out.  Usually this involves calling my mom, talking really fast and crying.  Always crying.

But, I have a wonderful mom who seems to always pull me back from the ledge (I have never gone over the ledge, so... there's that).  Calms me down, offers advice and reminds me, gently, that this is really not that big of a deal.  Today she said, "I say this in the most loving way: You are 27!  You are an adult!  You can do WHATEVER you want, and who can really stop you?  Have fun on this trip.  Enjoy your friends.  Enjoy figuring out who you are along the way.  It's ok."

The thing is... I do care what people think.  I always have, and I probably always will.  Take that for what you will, but it is true.  We all have our things.  This is one of mine.  I want people to like me, I want to feel the love of others, as much as I give it, and I don't want to disappoint anyone.

As I was pondering and packing throughout the rest of the day, thoughts of caring what God thinks popped into my head, and how THAT should be most important.  Excuse me here, but screw everyone else, right?!  I should truly desire caring what God thinks and not wanting to disappoint Him.  Hmph, easier said than done.

I mentioned a while ago that I was starting the devotional He Speaks to You by Sister Helena Burns, FSP, and I really like it.  I will be honest, I haven't been super, super strict with it, but now that it's October, I have started again.  (I also started with the month of April.  Each month focuses on a different topic of reflection, and April is "His Will"... appropriate given my life right now, yes?)  The first day of the month had me really reflecting on why I can't be one of those really awesome Catholic/Christian people who are so dedicated to prayer and reading the bible and doing good things all of time, or in this case turn to God, and care what HE thinks, and make sure my actions/behavior don't disappoint Him.

The answer:  I can be.

So, what's my problem?  Many things, I am sure... but this is what I wrote in my journal, 
"ME.  My pride.  Thinking I still know what's better for me.  And thinking I can control every aspect of it.  While it's true I control what choices I make or actions I take, these choices should be based off what is right for me and what Jesus wants in my life... just get over yourself, Jen!  You need to let go of that little but of control you are still holding onto so the Lord can enter into more full communion with your heart."

Again... easier said than done.  I wish I could just turn a switch, hear the Angels hum a soothing tune and just know that I am completely letting go, and (yes, here comes the cliché) letting God.  

Oh... if it were that easy. :)  Until then, I am going continue to try, pray, and love others (along with, attend Mass, go to confession read about Saints, etc).  I hope as I continue on, things will become clearer and my heart does indeed become soft enough for Our Lord to enter in fully.

So, what is My will?  My will is that we be united forever in love.  Everything else falls into place around this fact.
Taken from He Speaks to You, pg 95

Make them Extraordinary

Well, as most of us know, yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux.  She is an incredible Saint, who has looked out for me over the years, as she is my Confirmation Saint.  I grew to love and appreciate her more when I went on an amazing pilgrimage throughout France back in 2007.  I walked where she walked, prayed where she prayed and fell in love with Jesus even more.

On the grounds of her childhood home, a representation of St. Therese asking/begging her father permission to enter the convent.  At such a young age she new God's will so fully and completely, and knew she wouldn't be living until she followed through.

One of my fave alters at the Basilica in Lisieux, France.

I know that I take for granted who St. Therese is in my life, as I do so many things and people.  I don't always think of her, or look to her for guidance, but I do know that she is in Heaven looking down on all of God's precious children and praying deeply for every one of them, and then reminding them how to love.  Those little things of everyday life, is what her doctrine is all about.  Take all those little, ordinary actions and make them extraordinary by doing them in the name of love; holding the door a little longer to let the person behind you in, picking up the papers that fell, giving a hug, doing someone else's chore, etc.  All of these things are so normal, but can be amazing when we really sacrifice a little and do them only for the other, thereby spreading the wonderful love of Jesus.

St. Therese, pray for us.
All of our wonderful Guardian Angels, pray for us. (today is YOUR feast day!)
Mary, pray for us.

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