Sunday, October 31, 2010

Brother's Wedding Weekend

This weekend my closest brother in age got married to his sweetheart Jennifer.

It was a bittersweet weekend for me.

From the time he was born, Marshall was my little buddy in crime. He knows parts of my life and childhood that no one else will know. Collectively, him and Kevan understand me on a level no one else will ever get or understand. We share memories that no one else will ever know, we share pains, laughs, secrets, and inside jokes.

None of us would have ever imagined that Marshall would be the first one to get married, even a year ago. But that day came and went yesterday. He took Jennifer Clark to be his wife, companion, friend, and lover for the rest of his life.

Being the only girl, it has been really hard for me to adjust to another female being in the family. And even harder as I have always been quite protective of my brothers in terms of their girlfriends. Yesterday, I had to permanently give up my spot in Marshall's life to Jenni. I was the girl in his life for so long and on some levels, it has been very hard for me to give that up.

I was the first bridesmaid to walk down the aisle. My brother stood waiting for the processional and his bride-to-be to join him and my father stood just above him, waiting to welcome everyone to the wedding and give his blessing for the marriage to continue. It made me start bawling about halfway down the aisle, as I couldn't keep my tears back. It was reality. My little brother is all grown up, getting married, and Jenni will be the first girl in his life for the rest of his life.

I am very happy that he has found that. I thank the Lord for that blessing, especially given his past relationships. But on the other hand, I wasn't quite ready for what all was coming with that.

This weekend was a weekend to celebrate and I wish my brother all the blessings in the world, all the joys and love and grace that the Lord can pour out upon their marriage. And I hope that the Lord keeps them firmly under His wing as a couple through all the trials and all the blessings that life brings them.

Wedding Weekend

This weekend was Marshall's wedding weekend....a couple photos for a small taste :-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Blessing that is my Job

Documenting just how fun my job is :)

Isaiah 43:2-3

My heart is heavy and has been for quite some time.

Perhaps it's because I'm nieve and stupid, perhaps it's because I'm too trusting, perhaps just because of my desire to be loved by those around me. All I know is that my willingness to trust has left my heart shattered again. It has put punctured a hole so big in my heart that I'm left not sure how willing I will be to trust again.

It has left me asking questions like:
"Am I really not good enough to be loved the right way?"
"What is so wrong with me?"
"What is it about me that makes people think it's ok to take advantage of me?"
"Is this God teaching me lessons or is this Satan feeding me lies?"
"Why does everyone else get to feel what pure love feels like but not myself?"

This is the last week I will spend with Michele and the kiddos. I'm freaking out. The kids, their personalities, and the humor between Michele and I is what has kept me going. What am I going to do when I don't have that safehaven/distraction every day? How will I cope with not being at the one place that feels most like home for me? Am I going to completely fall to pieces, keep feeling the way I do, or will God allow some small blessing of hope to become available?

I do know that I need to hit the pavement hard trying to get a that pays really well.

I can't stand being broke. I don't care how I got here at this exact moment....although most the time it sends me in panic attacks....but I do care that I can't afford to do anything. For two weeks I have been living off the kindness of other people and my family.

It has been so wonderful to me that my co-workers are amazing enough to buy me a lunch or bring me a meal. But how embarrassing is it when you have to raid the snack cabinet every morning for breakfast/lunch? Yes I live rent-free, in my parents house, and most people think "how do you not have food?" My parents don't keep foods in the house that are easy to take. The little amount of food that my parents keep stocked in the house is food that has to be prepared. And I have little time to do that it seems. My parents don't keep much food in the house other than the necessities anymore. And I won't ask my parents to buy me special foods or ask them to go buy groceries specifically for me as I do live rent free. There in itself lies the reason I am lift to pilfer the snack cabinet almost daily. How low have I sunk when I'm living off a cup of coffee and whatever else food that someone throws my way because I'm that broke?!?!

I've never felt so low about myself in my life. Between the insecurities, not having a "stable" job, and having to pilfer for food.

But I am blessed. I have a roof over my head. I have a family in good health, albeit one that seems to not really be that close anymore. I have a closet full of clothes. I have the blessings that are my kiddos for another remaining week. And I have a God who promises that He will carry me through this storm in my life. The storm seems as though it has no end in sight....but I have to believe that God is going to get me through it....because heavens knows, I can't get myself out of this mess that I've somehow gotten my life into.

"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

[Isaiah 43:2-3]

I just pray that God shows His glory in all of this. Because it is only by God that I will weather this emotional battle that is going on in my heart and mind right now.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

All in a Days Work

I never thought I'd turn into that person whose work becomes their life.

But when there's something worth making your life about...I guess that's just what happens.

Yes I use it as a coping mechanism for all the tough stuff in my life. But my work is about something beautiful and wonderful and so worthwhile. It's for something greater than myself.

These past two days were conferences. Which meant we didn't have kids. We are starting a new unit which meant that I had to switch out a lot of our toys, redo our bulletin boards, prep for all of our activities as well as for planning our regular weekly activities.

I found myself working a couple hours over what I'm supposed to work both yesterday and today. This is quite normal. I'm almost always a half hour early to work and it's not uncommon to find me working an hour later than what I get paid for.

But it's where I find solace. It's what I enjoy doing. And I want to revel in it while I can. In two short weeks I will not be an active part of this little preschool family that I've become a member of :-(

I wish I could stay.

I know that if money wasn't an issue, if I could do whatever I wanted without worrying about money or bills, if I could work for free...that is one of the things I would do. Work in the preschool classroom a couple days a week.

I'm going to miss it all. I'm going to miss my kiddos, my co-worker family, and yes I'm going to miss listening to the Tarzan soundtrack every day :-(

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Through the smoke...

There's so much to talk about, so much I need to say, and so little much I want to pour out and not much that I will.

There is a fierce, intense battle that is going on in my heart right now. That goes down DEEP into my soul, to the very bottoms of all the cobwebbed doors I have kept hidden, all the wounds whose scars are terrible looking, and all of the things that I am normally very good at ignoring/denying/not dealing with.

But I guess I should start from what has been most prevalent in my life this past week. Diana was finally called home early this morning. And this is where I am conflicted. I don't like death, I'm not sure I know anyone who really likes it. However, I deal with death in a completely different way than some others do. Diana was one of my sisters in God, whose faith was remarkable. For that reason alone, I rejoice!! She is in heaven!! She was called Home, to be with our Savior and to rejoice with the angels for eternity. She is free from pain and suffering, from trials and sorrow. But let me reiterate this....she is HOME!! Maybe to those who feel comfortable on this earth, that might not make sense. But I can honestly say that while I can make anywhere comfortable and make anywhere my home, I have never really ever felt like anywhere on this earth is where I belong, is really completely my true home. Every place has always had a sense of being temporary. (Which by the way reminds me of Carrie Underwood's song "Temporary Home" and I would encourage anyone to listen to it.) So I rejoice for Diana. In some ways I'm a tad jealous. She is now in heaven, in perfection, in serenity and bliss. How awesome is that!!

*And side note: ever since I studied about the rapture, I have this vision of when Jesus comes back, He will bring His army....and those who have passed before will be made up in this army. And let's just say since that sermon I've had this really torn urge. I so want Jesus to come back while I'm on earth. But then again, I wish that I die before He does so that I can be a part of that army. I have no idea why but I think that would be the coolest thing ever to come back in Jesus "army". Ok side note over.

On the other hand I mourn. I never knew Diana but apparently she was this phenomenal woman....amazing, smart, beautiful, a heart no one else can possibly have, etc. So why did God call her home so early if she was so amazing and doing such great works on this earth?! Again though, I turn to the fact that she fulfilled her purpose...and well God is a selfish God, he desperately needed her as an angel in heaven to fulfill an even greater purpose. But still, experiencing death as a human is hard. The emotions are hard, and I think that even as much as people like to think I don't have a heart, my heart is bigger than I can express and the pain of losing such a dear woman goes even to the core of my heart. I mourn for her family. I love Cam, and I have already developed a soft spot for Zach and Dawson. I love the whole Hummell family. I love Drue. To see this whole family in pain grieves my heart. To know that those boys won't have their mom their for their first loves, their first dance, their first car, to introduce the love of their life to their mom, to have her kiss them on the cheek when they walk down the aisle, to have their mom pray with them every night and caress their cheek in those small simple moments....well let's just say that breaks my heart.

In short, Diana was called Home this morning...and for that I am choosing to celebrate in my own small way.

In other news, I threw myself whole-heartedly into my job today. I spent ten hours at work today. Participating in conferences, getting the room ready for our next unit, talking with parents, chit-chatting with my co-workers, getting ideas for new things for the children to learn. And it dawned on me that I will only be there for two weeks.

And I'm going to miss it. My work feels like home to me now. Work is the place where my insecurities go away....where I know I mean something to others, where I know that I'm good at what I do. Ok let's correct that. I'm pretty damn great at my job, especially considering I'm willing to learn and go above & beyond all the time, and I'm there for the kids. Work is where I feel comfortable. It's the place where I find I don't doubt myself all day and if I do, I find I do it in a way in which I can build myself and learn from where that doubt stems from. It's a place where I'm needed and wanted. A place where I can actually laugh whole-heartedly and cry in the same day with those around me. A place where I'm supported and encouraged, constructively criticized, and a place where I can pray with other women going through their own struggles. I don't know what I'll do when I don't have this place to go to five days a week. It's my safe-haven. It's where God blesses me and uses me. It's a place in which God teaches me and hugs me all in one day. It's the one place in my life where I feel God is actually showing me that I'm good enough to be used in some sort of manner to glorify Him and be blessed by the small blessings I get to experience every day.

The group of women I work with are nothing short of amazing. And I think that in all of the preschools in our school district, we are the best. And I get to be a part of that team. Me. Nicole Ann Carr. I get to be a part of something bigger than myself and be a part of this amazing thing. Which no one else but us in preschool realize the significance of being a part of what we are. We get to interact with and watch these amazing little personalities blossom. We can provide them a place where they are really cared for and our focus is getting them a great start in the world of education. We are all there for the kids, and nothing more. We laugh and we joke, we cry and we grieve, we play and we learn. Who else gets a work environment (no matter how much money we DON'T make) where they can say they love their jobs and their co-workers?!?! Genuinely. And who else gets to have such intimate conversations surrounding our faith as I get to with all of my co-workers?!?! Not many.

One trouble on my heart why is the Lord roadblocking my passion?! He put this intense, yearning desire to be a nurse in my heart. It's been there for years. I can taste it, I can see it, I can smell it, I can almost touch it. It's so close and yet so far. Just right out of my grasp. What am I doing wrong that God won't allow me a path to get into the career He out a passion in my heart for?! What am I not listening about?! What is it that I'm doing wrong?!

There are so many more intimate troubles on my heart....ones that consume me in so many ways....ways that make me doubt that I'm really made for greatness and for a great purpose. Things that make me doubt that my life is even important. Things that make me constantly fighting off this little demon called depression currently.

Yet I can say this....despite all these trials, and all these demons called insecurities haunting my mind, I can see just HOW MUCH the Lord has blessed my life. And I can also say without a shadow of a doubt that God answers prayers and He keeps His promises. It is only because of God that I am able to keep going day-by-day. I prayed asking Him for strength and He has given it. I can honestly say it is not me getting myself through everything I'm going through right now. I AM NOT that strong of a person. Yet God has been so faithful in being my support and strength and small sense of calm right now. That in itself shows me that God is blessing me.

Thank you Lord for being my rock, my stronghold, my Father Forever.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Time to Weep, A Time to Mourn, A Time to Celebrate

Perspective is something that can be gained in so many different ways, but none so more refreshing nor more humble than the perspective one gains from death and dying.

We will all die. That is no hidden secret nor recent development.

However God uses death as a way of making us look at our own lives, look at how we are using our life, look at those around us, look at the choices we make in life, look at the faith that is within our soul....all of this to help us gain perspective.

Isn't it funny how when you are sitting in a room full of beloved family members all gathered around a courageous, faithful daughter of God who is lying on her deathbed, nothing else matters. Most of what people obsess over seems petty. Not that it didn't before all of this. But really the magnitude of how dumb some things in life really are gets magnified under the weight and microscope that is the death of a loved one.

Yesterday Britton and I raced up to Morrison to be with the Hummell's as Diana lays dying. We surely thought that yesterday was the day...however Diana is still fighting. But the entire length of the afternoon and evening was spent with the family gathered at Cam's.

This is where I admit that I feel like an I do not feel like a total part of the family. Yes I am Britton's girlfriend who loves him whole-heartedly. But I didn't really know Diana that well, only a few brief times of meeting her, hearing about her from Britton and his family, and her blog. However, I can say that it felt remarkable for them to welcome me into the home at such an intense time. I only hope that I'm able to offer at least a morsel of comfort and support and love during such a hard time, and that me being there is not useless.

Driving up to Morrison I found my heart again facing my own demons. These demons coming in the form of insecurities that have been built up from years of tumultuous family history and years of being put down by people in my life. Before Britton and I walked out the door, I came across something that left my heart heavy. I then found myself silently crying in the truck....for Diana, for Britton, for Cam & the boys, for his family, for me, for failing to be good enough for my family and for being such a huge problem in their life, for the insecurities in my heart and head, for the longings that have been left unattended to in my heart, for Satan attacking me so so SO many things.

And then I started praying with something Drue (Diana's mom) laid on my heart just a few night's ward off Satan's attacks by facing them with prayer. Britton and I prayed in the truck on the way up there. And when we got to the house, I took a quick little walk, prayed to God to cast away ALL of my problems, all of my heart's grievances, to cast away all the thoughts in my head, to simply help me to put it all aside so that I could be there for the Hummell's. I prayed fervently for strength, for emotional stability, to work in my heart and use this as a time to help others and not myself.

There was a verse that Diana shared back in April, that alongside the bible study I just started called "Breaking Free" that was resonating in my heart while I prayed and I reminded God of His scriptures that He had given me and to hold true to these promises. She shared Isaiah 43: 2-3 which I realize she had her own set of trials she was going through in which she was brought to this. But it's a promise God makes to us that WHEN we face trials, not if, that God will guide us through them.

It says "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

And then He brought me to these verses in my bible study: Isaiah 52:13-53:12

In these verses they prophesy the suffering of Christ. They talk about Jesus boring our sin, our transgressions, being rejected and ridiculed, being beaten and scourged. And we are reminded....Jesus suffered as we suffer. There is no suffering and pain that our God, our Savior in the flesh, did not know and experience before we ourselves did. He KNOWS the pain and the suffering we go through....whether it be mental, emotional, physical, spiritual....because OUR GOD has felt that same suffering.

It's easy for me to forget that we have a God who can relate to our pain and trials. He is perfect, and most times I pray to Him as someone who is Almighty and Perfect and Holy. But most times I forget that my perfect God is also a God who, in the flesh on this earth, went through the same transgressions we did. I forget this, and I feel ashamed and ugly and unworthy. When I forget this, I often forget to go to Him with everything as I don't remember that my God is relatable and he can relate to what I'm feeling. He isn't just perfect, He's personable and relates to us, He understands and He knows.

Isaiah 9:1 "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress."

Isaiah 6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

What I have to remember is that our loving Father is perfect, is Holy, but he understands our pain and suffering as He himself once went through it. He is our Father forever, He is Mighty and He is a Wonder of Counselor. I can take everything to Him, everything, and He will guide me through it.

I held true to these promises yesterday in praying to God and wouldn't you know, my Wonderful Counselor gave me all the strength and all the peace I needed for Him to use me as whatever instrument He needed me for yesterday at the Hummell's. My Mighty God temporarily calmed and strengthened my heart and mind. He held true to His promises, guiding me through the trials that He promised we would all go through. Not if, when. And He's there.

It was an intense and hard afternoon/evening that is carrying over to today.

I have prayed and continue to pray for comfort for the entire Hummell family. This is not an easy thing to go through, and all of them need to be kept under Jesus' loving arms and held firmly there in a spiritual hug that only God himself can give. I have prayed that God would call His angel home, and ease her suffering in that tiny little body that has fought such a ridiculously intense and strong battle. I have prayed that God will help them all to find solace in grieving with each other and strength in knowing that they are not alone. I pray that God will continue to give me strength and a calm in my heart to be there for those who need it right now. I have prayed that through this all that God's glory will shine through it all and resonate with those lives who Diana has touched, including mine.

Once again, God has shown me the power of my favorite verse in the bible and it will ever reign true.

"Be still and know that I am God." Proverbs 46:10

With all of that being said, this week has been a time to weep, a time to mourn, and a time to celebrate. To celebrate God. But also to celebrate Diana's life and the impact she has made, the light she has been to the world for God, the glory she has given God, and the amazing ways she has touched so many people.

Even the small ways she has touched this less-than-ordinary woman's heart of mine.

I only hope that maybe one day I can do that too, in my own way that God has planned.