Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Growing & Stretching & Moving the Cheese

Brown County, Indiana


The radio silence on the blog lately isn't at all from my lack of what to say, but rather, how to say it.  I've looked forward to October for many months now-- the pumpkin treats, crisp fall air, long runs, a break from all of the chaos.  And in many ways, the month has been all I built it up to be, and in similar ways, it's been nothing like I hoped for at all.  Isn't this how most highly anticipated events are?  We build them up with longing and hope and are often disappointed by the reality of what really is.  I find this to be true time after time.

The month has been busier than I expected it to be.  And more challenging than I expected it to be.  My professional life has been... somewhat disenchanting.  Being a nurse has challenged me since the very beginning.  I have long considered nursing a calling for me rather than what some people view it as-- a sweet job where you only work three days a week and have four days to play.  To be completely honest, sometimes those three days feel like seven.  Twelve hours feel like twenty four.  Night shift makes you want to cry all the time and eat your feelings because your body hates you for working weird hours and your friends never see you because you're always at work or trying to sleep.  And by the time you clock out and wipe down your shoes with bleach wipes to ward off any C. diff or MRSA you might carry home with you, it feels like you have been completely defeated.

I've been feeling this lately at work.  I should have known after my first day flying solo as a new graduate RN on 3 West that my nursing career was not going to be an easy one.  I was so flustered that day and had been given a difficult patient assignment that resulted in me calling two rapid responses and sending one patient to the ICU.  I cried on that first day out of orientation; I cried while gathering supplies for a procedure and after realizing that it was 4PM and I wasn't going to have time for lunch that day.  Had I even gone to bathroom yet that day? I couldn't remember.  The day was such a blur.

My nursing career since then hasn't changed much.  I don't make crying a regular habit, except when I'm with dying patients or when someone is screaming at me (with the first, I do this openly as I grieve with the family and watch their family member pass from this side of eternity onto the other. With the latter, I cry behind closed doors and don't let others know how much a patient has upset me).  But every day at work, I learn and I stretch and I grow, and when I clock out after my shift, I'm defeated, yet grateful.  Some days I'm not sure I ever want to come back, other days I feel like I've accomplished some small little thing and that maybe I can do it again the next day.

I suppose that's enough griping about work, but that's where my head is lately, and it seems to flavor every aspect of my life.  Every day before going into work, I pray for my patients and for myself-- that I would be a safe, effective, and encouraging nurse for them.  And every morning I leave work feeling like I was none of those things, resolving to try to be better next time.

And so comes the introspection, the looking inward and inspecting of what's going on inside of my mind and my heart. I've spent a lot of time lately in prayer, asking God to show me how He is using me where I am in life.  I believe in the growing and stretching that comes with difficult circumstances.  I know it's necessary and important, but it doesn't mean I like going through it.  So I'm learning to be thankful for the growing, the stretching, the bending, the tears, and the frustration.  I'm learning to give myself grace and to give other people grace, and to not let my emotions and frustrations show in my attitude.  I am so grateful for coworkers who are good to me and who show me grace even when I'm snappy, stressed, and not as kind as I would like to be to them.

The growing and stretching is good.  It's what causes me to reflect on everything going on around me in the midst of the chaos.  It's why I am sitting at home today before going into work again tonight contemplating what I can do to be better and how I can serve those around me better based on what I've been facing lately.  And it's reminding me of the Who Moved My Cheese principle.  Who Moved My Cheese is a book that a lot of the Fortune 500 companies have their employees read.  It seems simple, in nature; it uses an illustration of a mouse in a maze who is looking for cheese.  But the cheese keeps moving, so every time the frustrated mouse thinks he's finally found it, he finds that it has been moved again.

It's supposed to cause you to reflect on change and adaptation both in the workplace and in your personal life.  Do you blame the person who keeps moving your cheese (your boss, your coworkers, your parents), or do you simply adapt to the fact that the cheese has been moved and learn a new way to find it?  I love this book.  My dad had me read it years ago and I wish everyone could read it.  It's so simple but reveals such profound truths.  I'm a work in progress, trying to be ok with the ever-moving cheese in my maze and not blaming those around me who keep moving it.  It's the growing and the stretching and the getting past my natural instinct to snap and point fingers that will get me through the maze.  For now, I'm still floundering, wishing my cheese would stay in one place (particularly if it's Havarti cheese.  Moving my Havarti cheese is nearly unforgivable, as my husband well knows.  Do you party with Havarti? Name that show).

I hope that your week is off to a good start.  I pray that you are growing and stretching, too, and hoping that maybe you can relate to those growing pains.  I've been reading and memorizing a couple of verses lately that I'd love to share with you as you grow and stretch.  They're both from Isaiah, not because I'm reading Isaiah right now but because for some reason I've come across them both at times when I was really needing them.

"And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness--secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name."  -Isaiah 45:3

"And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong.  And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." -Isaiah 58:11

Lots of love and thoughts of warm pumpkin bread coming your way, friends.  And if you work with me, real pumpkin bread coming your way, in thanksgiving for loving me and being good to me despite my poor attitude and general feelings of discouragement lately.

XOXO,
C.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Crunchy Leaves + A Free Fall Printable!

You know that when you read my thoughts on here you're pretty much always going to get some sort of touchy-feely-inside-of-my-head-and-emotions kind of thing, and today is no different.  Lately, I've been feeling like my life has amounted to a lot of routine and going through the motions.  I've been trying too hard to be in control of certain situations and areas of my life that I have no business controlling.

I've been amazed lately at the beauty that surrounds me in the changing leaves.  Scott and I went on a run yesterday and I felt invigorated by the crunching of the leaves beneath my feet with each leap forward.  Scott mentioned that he felt like we were running faster than we normally do, and I thought he was probably right, and that it was probably because of the crisp fall air and the happiness I felt with being outside on such a beautiful day.  The sun was setting and I kept telling him to look at how beautiful the sky was, which reminded me of the breathtaking sky I had seen on my way home from work that morning, made to be even more dramatic and wonderful against the orange and red trees along the road.  

I realized that it all points me back to a God who painted all of this, who made these trees and this sky and these seasons.  And it reminds me to be thankful, to stand in awe at the beauty that is His creation.  So last night, after our run, I reflected on how much time I've spent thinking about myself lately, and how little time I've spent with Jesus and investing in other people around me.  I dug my Bible out of the bag that it's been sitting in for a few weeks now and I opened it to one of my favorite books, Ruth.  And I read about a beautiful woman who God redeemed despite very difficult life circumstances, and I reflected on how He does this with me every day when I ignore Him, don't spend time with Him, and live selfishly instead of selflessly.  The crunchy leaves and the crisp air were His call for me to come back, a reminder of all that is beautiful and created comes from Him.  

So today I'm focusing less on what Cristina wants and more on what Jesus wants.  And what He wants is for me to share His love and His gospel with other people, through my words and actions and love for other people.  I'm remembering this as I go to work this week and as I spend time with my husband at home.  And I'll remember that every time I want to complain at work about a difficult patient assignment or the fact that I'd rather be sleeping than working at 3AM; I'll remember that when I want to snap at Scott for putting the dishes in the sink instead of in the dishwasher, or when I want to lie on the couch watching Gilmore Girls for hours instead of keeping up with my She Reads Truth studies or reading from the Bible with Scott.  

Fall is a season that's sole purpose is to be beautiful, but maybe also to remind me to present thanksgiving for that beauty to the One who designed it to be that way.

Hope you all have a lovely week ahead of you-- I'm leaving you with a little present that I've been designing over the past few days.  I've never done this on the blog before, but here's a free Fall printable with some of my favorite colors and words for this season.

Love you all dearly!

Cristina 



"From the end of the earth I will cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." -Psalm 61:2


Thursday, October 16, 2014

On Being Aware

I was driving back from a meeting at work this morning and was noticing how beautiful the fall leaves and trees were on Meridian Street in Indy; a couple of weeks ago I had noticed that the leaves were beginning to change, but now they are beautifully colored with reds, oranges, and yellows like you can hardly imagine.  Meridian Street looked as beautiful as I'd ever seen it, and I wondered when it suddenly changed.  I've been driving up and down that street for days and wondered if I had been so busy with other thoughts and focusing on getting to and from places that I forgot to look around at what was happening around me.  I just wasn't aware of all of the beauty surrounding me, and in a tiny moment today, I suddenly was.

This is how I feel about national news right now, too.  I will be completely honest with you: I don't keep up with the news.  I find politics to be depressing and cut-throat and the media to portray everything with extreme exaggeration.  To be very honest, most of what I know regarding world and national events is from social media. I don't read the newspaper or check CNN daily, and I only occasionally look into local news online.  But at some point recently, I realized I needed to wake up and be aware of what is going on in the world.

And more specifically, I needed to be aware of what was going on in healthcare.  Most of you probably know about this whole Ebola Virus outbreak that's going on right now.  Many people are scared and panicked and outraged by it all.  The sad thing is, I'm realizing how American this is of us.  Ebola isn't some disease that was eradicated and just popped up on the world radar after years and years of lying dormant.  The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been going on since December of 2013, and outbreaks in other parts of Africa have been occurring in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo for quite a number of years.  The disease has taken the lives of many in these countries, yet the handful of cases here in the US have us all ready to protest the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the powers that be who aren't doing what we think they should be doing.

I'll admit to my fear of this disease.  It's unknown and new to us here in the US, and we aren't really sure what to make of it.  The CDC recommendations for how to prevent its spread are different from those of the World Health Organization (WHO), hospitals aren't sure if they're using the right personal protective equipment for their employees, and nurses are calling in sick daily in Dallas to avoid having to confront the scary disease.

I've spent probably 2-3 hours each day this week reading about Ebola.  I've read the CDC recommendations and the WHO recommendations; I've read the American Nurses' Association's e-mails and articles about best practice for nurses, and I've read the media posts and blogs that people have written either in defense of Texas Presbyterian or in critique of the hospital.

What I'm finding is that it's simply a matter of being aware and being vigilant in promoting best practice.  I read a blog that several nurse-friends have shared regarding this, and at first I clapped my hands and thought "YES! This is true!"  In the blog, the nurse tells a story about how they held the bloody hand of an HIV patient without gloves on.   I liked this quote from the blog:

"You don’t want a world of RNs who will walk past you in the restaurant as you choke because she doesn’t have personal protective equipment.  Or the one who won’t apply pressure to your child’s wound after a car accident for lack of gloves.  You want us to be careful and yet, willing to take risks on your behalf."

I see the point here.  And I think this is true.  However, I must disagree with the basic point for several reasons.  I will not hold the bloody hand of an HIV positive patient without gloves on.  I will not hold the hand of a C.diff positive patient without gloves on.  I will not hold the hand of a MRSA positive patient without gloves on.

Not because I'm not a compassionate nurse.  Not because I think they are deadly or disgusting or because I am scared of them or label them by their disease.  I will not do these things because it is unethical for me to do so, and it is against my hospital's policy for me to do so.  In a court of law, my hospital would not stand behind me if I tried to explain why I did not wear gloves when in contact with a patient with an infectious disease; they would cite their policy on infection control and reference the points where it explains personal protective equipment that personnel should wear when in contact with a patient with certain conditions.  I think there is a big difference in applying pressure to a wound at the scene of a car accident out in public without gloves on and holding someone's hand in the hospital where it is part of my job expectations for me to maintain infection control and standard precautions.

I will not do any of these things because I do not want to then walk into the room of an immunocompromised patient and pass along the germs to them.  I will not do any of these things because I do not want to bring MRSA home to my husband when he has an open cut on his leg.  Someday when we have children, I will do not these things because I don't want my newborn to be exposed to c.diff and have diarrhea for weeks that causes dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

To be clear, I am not saying that the two nurses who are now testing positive for Ebola did these things.  I know all of the complications of infection control, of donning and removing personal protective equipment in a hospital room.  I do not blame these nurses because I do not know their circumstances-- did their hospital's infection control department tell them to wear one type of protective equipment that proved to be wrong?  Did they run in real quick to give the patient something and forget to put on all of their gear? Did they accidentally brush their scrubs with the contaminated gloves/gown/mask when removing them?

I think it's important to recognize Ebola and to know what's going on with it, and I think it's important to be proactive, especially if you work in healthcare.  Be aware of the signs and symptoms, vague as they may seem (hello, seasonal influenza.  You sure do look a lot like Ebola in the US this year), and know what you should be doing to help prevent the spread of this and other diseases.

Wash your hands.  Scrub them while singing Happy Birthday and know that it's all for good measure, for your other patients and for your family and your own personal well-being.  Read articles and recommendations with a sharp mind and a critical eye.  Just because something is printed somewhere doesn't mean that it's true.

That's all I'll say about Ebola for now.  I will live with faith and not in fear, and I will practice nursing to the best ability that I am able to.  Please pray for those in healthcare who are on the front lines right now, it's a frightening place to be for many.  But do not feed into the scare tactics of the media.  They want to point fingers and make you feel like you should wear a full body suit everywhere you go, but know that this is all being presented to you by people who do not know what they are talking about.  Awareness and education, those are the things to focus on when panic arises.

Lots of love and sorry to post on something so random.  It's been close to my heart lately as a nurse.

Love,
C.

An addendum: This article is a great read about Ebola.  I find it to be written by someone very level-headed and who did their research to avoid scare tactics that other journalists and news broadcasters are employing.  The Indy Channel

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Happy Kitchen



Today I'm taking you into my happy place, the place where I go to cook and bake and dream up dishes with anything and everything in my refrigerator and pantry.  I call it the Happy Kitchen, and it's possibly one of my favorite places to be on any given day.  When I spend time eating out or grabbing food on the go, I'm always so sad that I can't be home in my own kitchen cooking up something delicious or trying my hand at a new dish.

Truthfully, I started cooking as soon as I moved into my first off-campus apartment.  Never having had access to cooking utensils or a kitchen while living in a dorm, I jumped right in at the first chance I had to create meals of my own.  I think the very first meal I ever made was spaghetti with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella (the kind that comes in liquid in little balls. The best).  I actually just found a photo in my old facebook albums from the meal (though it doesn't show the mozzarella cheese which I definitely remember... maybe I added the cheese later?).  Scott was living in Chapel Hill that summer so he celebrated my new apartment with me that night over this meal.  Food memories are some of the best.  Life lived around the table is a good life indeed.

First dinner in what we called The Little House in Chapel Hill

Through the years, I've continued to grow and learn in the kitchen.  I've never thought of myself as the best chef, by any means, but I am surely a brave one.  There aren't too many types of dishes that I haven't tackled, and though my dishes may sometimes turn out looking haphazard and a little concerning, I am always one who wants to try to make something new.

I think one of the oddest ventures I've taken so far has been in baking a cheesecake.  The particular recipe that I was using to bake a cheesecake instructed me to leave the oven door open for several hours while the cheesecake baked.  My roommates were good to me and stayed clear of the kitchen while I was following preposterous baking instructions, but my pumpkin cheesecake didn't turn out half bad, and I've always said that I hope to someday make another.  

It doesn't take much at all to get me started in the kitchen.  I'll see a picture of something online, or I'll taste something at a restaurant and think to myself, "Oh, I can make this."  I'll experiment several times before finally getting it right, but I've learned to appreciate the process and to be grateful for each way-too-salty-soup and need-way-more-sugar-brownies.   I just love creating and re-creating dishes.  The memories that I have of how I made food and who I enjoyed that food with with are so important to me.  I have memories of a Thanksgiving with turkey and sushi, making peach cobbler every year in Myrtle Beach with my in-laws, baking cookies with my grandma at Christmastime, learning how to make a fondant cake for my sister's birthday, and extensive memories of a two-hour kitchen clean up after trying to make homemade coleslaw without the proper ingredients.  

To celebrate the Happy Kitchen, I thought I'd give you a mini-tour of it as part of writing about it today.  Here's a little bit of what you'll find inside. 

Our stove

This is one of my favorite places in our kitchen.  It's not my most favorite, which I will reveal to you in the next photo, but one of my favorites.  It's where all of the sautéing, frying, grilling, toasting, baking, and boiling takes place.  It's where things go after all the grunt work is done-- the chopping, pureeing, mixing, kneading-- where things start to look a little more like a meal and a little less like fragments of one.  

My favorite place in our kitchen

Now this is where I really love to be.  My Kitchenaid stand mixer is my favorite kitchen tool, without question.  I use it at least twice a week and will find ways to use it as much as I possibly can.  I love the color, love what it produces, and love the person/couple who gave it to me.  It's where some of my favorite pumpkin breads start off as little mounds of dough and where our homemade mashed potatoes start to really take shape.  This part of our kitchen houses my measuring cups and all other baking supplies (flour, sugar, etc.), a painting with one of my favorite Bible verses-- painted by my lovely sister-- our Ninja (where Scott makes all sorts of wonderful smoothies and protein shakes for us), and the knife block that Scott has dreamed about since he was 12 years old.  Maybe he wasn't quite that young, but it's definitely a knife set that he was interested in using in our Happy Kitchen.

My hedgehogs

Lindsay and Landon get major props for supplying some of my favorite kitchen items.  First the Kitchenaid and then these hedgehog measuring cups.  These little guys are part of what makes the Happy Kitchen such a warm place.  I like for things to be bright and fun in the kitchen, and I think these guys just look like they're ready to party, wouldn't you agree?

The Coffee Station

This is where beverages go down.  You can see our wine rack on the left wall (a wedding gift from sweet Shannon and Bryan) and the main attraction, our coffee stand, on the right.  You'll see our 12-cup coffeemaker, our new addition-- the espresso maker-- and all of our other coffee supplies on the middle shelf!  There's mason jars filled with tea, containers of sweeteners, our coffee grinder from dear Chancey, and anything else you might possibly need on the coffee front.  We just got the espresso maker this week as an early Christmas gift to ourselves and we're already becoming homemade cappuccino and pumpkin spice latte experts.  Here's the PSL Scott made for me this morning.  Out of this world.  Watch out, Starbucks.  


The reason I tell you all about the Happy Kitchen is because I so want to invite you into it.  If we didn't live in a 650 sq. ft apartment in downtown Indy, I'd insist on having one of those giant wooden farm tables to fill with family and friends every week for "family" dinners.  I'd have book club here and host holiday baking parties and Thanksgiving dinners.  And even though we don't have the space or the big dining room table, I want you to know that you're always welcome in our home and in our kitchen.  I'll wake up early to brew coffee for you on your way to work, and I'll stay up late at night baking cookies when you've just broken up with your boyfriend and need carbs and girl talk.  These are the things that matter to me, life and fellowship around the table and in our homes.  It's about getting your hands dirty and being vulnerable and saying, "I don't have much to offer, but I'll give you what I have."  Whether it's toast with jam at 3AM or leftover pasta after work one night; the heart is there, and the desire to serve is ever growing.  

If Jesus and the disciples could break bread around the table and love one another through fellowship over a meal, I don't see why in the world we can't do the same.  

"It's about a spirit or quality of living that rises up when we offer one another life itself, in the form of dinner or soup or breakfast, or bread and wine." -Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine.  

Lot of love, sweet friends.
Cristina 




Sunday, October 12, 2014

6.

I've been MIA for a while so far this month, very unintentionally, to be certain.  I've got no real reasons for my lack of writing, except that we've been traveling to northern Indiana quite a bit over the past few weeks, and I've been working quite a bit during non-traveling weeks.  A week ago Scott and I went to Kendallville, IN to the Chain O'Lakes National Park to camp in a log cabin with some of his friends from dental school.  We spent one night in the national park and the second night at his friends' lake house, and we had such a lovely lovely time.  We went to an Apple Festival where we got to try apple fritters, candy apples, apple cider, and so so many other yummy treats, and we hiked through cornfields and soybean fields with some of the cutest dogs I've ever seen.

One of my favorite photos from our hike last week

Our little cabin in the park


This week, we've had the pleasure of hosting our first guest since we've gotten married-- my dad!  We've been exploring downtown Indy, eating in Broad Ripple, enjoying pumpkin madness, and traveling to Notre Dame for football!  My college team, Carolina, played Notre Dame yesterday and put up a surprisingly good fight against the fighting Irish.  Weather was perfect, our trip went without a hitch, and we played good football.  Couldn't ask for much more than that!  Oh, and the best part was getting to sneak a visit with my brother for about 10 minutes as he took a break from work.  He's an equipment manager for the UNC team and sits in the box keeping stats for the game, but he was able to sneak away for a bit to share hugs and some laughs with us before the game started.  

Siblings, minus Adriana!

Dad and brother

And then there's today.  Today marks six months since I drove out to Mama C's in Rose Hill to marry the man I had loved for 7 years.  I can hardly believe that it's been 6 months; sometimes it feels like it's been way longer and other times it feels like it was just yesterday that I was walking down a grassy aisle to meet him under my favorite live oak.  We've learned so much about ourselves since that beautiful April day.  The day we got married, it seemed that the whole world was before us, just waiting for us to experience all we could from it.  Wedding days make you feel that you can accomplish anything as long as you have love.  And you know what? Six months later, I still believe this to be true, even though our first six months have been far from perfect.  I think we escaped the "honeymoon" phase two months into marriage when we were facing family deaths and challenges with school and careers.  

But we've made it through those things, and while we still face challenges together, I think we're learning how to handle them.  We're learning our roles as husband and wife, learning how to encourage one another and how to be the support beam that the other needs when the roof is caving in.   We've walked through deep, dark valleys and climbed to the summit of tall, beautiful mountains.  There's beauty in all of it; we wouldn't appreciate the views from the mountain tops if we hadn't trudged through the dark valleys before.  We are still facing muddy waters but have learned how to trust each other and trust Jesus despite not being able to see what's at the bottom.  

Today we celebrate 6 months of living and loving, of immense laughter and quiet tears, of incredible joy and deep sorrows.  We celebrate the big and small moments that have shaped us into the beings that we are, and for the God who brought us together in love.  We celebrate all of the people who have supported us through our journey and for those who encourage us when we're trapped in the valleys.  And we celebrate the hope of many more days and weeks and months and years ahead, speckled with laughter, tears, and sweat.  In celebration, we walked around Butler University with my dad and threw caution and leaves to the wind on a gorgeous fall day.



Lots of love & more to come soon.  Sorry for the lack of words lately, I promise they are flowing in my mind if not on paper.  

Love,
C.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October.


At long last, my month has arrived.  I woke up this morning thinking about Anne of Green Gables and how she loves Octobers just as much as I do.  I loved this book growing up.  If I had to pick my all-time favorite childhood book, this would be it.  I probably read it at least ten times in elementary school and now have it tucked away on my bookcase with other well-loved books from my younger days.  Anne was always so wise.  She taught me about kindred spirits and how dying your hair was almost always a mistake.  And every October, I think of Anne and this quote from L.M. Montgomery's book that illuminates that sweet, mystical sense of this month.

October is coming at a wonderful time, this year.  I realize it comes at the same time every year, but I guess I mean that it lines up well with my life right now.  I need the fall weather and pumpkin scents to remind me of the calm that I so desire to harness this season.  After a a few months of being all over the place both physically and emotionally, I'm ready to settle down a bit and enjoy this month.  After a September filled with extra classes at work and feeling like I had moved into St. Vincent's, I've very much under-committed to work in the month of October.  This week, I'm taking some time off so that I can enjoy Scott's Fall Break with him, and next week starts an 8-day staycation during which time we're expecting a visit from my dad and brother for the UNC vs. Notre Dame game up near South Bend.  My 8 days off technically still allow me to get in my full-time hours next week and the following week, but I've carefully crafted my schedule to maximize my days off.

With that, we're excited to have finally finished some house projects that we can show off during Dad's visit.  We have two that we are most proud of this month.  One was a planned project- mounting our TV-- which turned out to be WAY more complicated than we ever could have imagined.  We felt so discouraged every time something else went wrong, but we have been enjoying our TV mounted on the wall for about 2 weeks now, and so far, the wall hasn't come crashing down.  Midway through that project, I came home to find our coffee table half-sanded down.  The coffee table project was intended for way later this year, but I'm not complaining now that it's re-stained and polished in our living room.  Here's some pictures we have from the project.

Before

Sanded down

Finished product

The coffee table in action! 

I have some pictures somewhere of the TV project but I think they are on my old phone.  I just switched phones last week so I haven't sorted through all of my files and pictures on the old one yet!  

In any case, I'm anticipating a quiet October with minimal goals and lots of time spent with friends, my husband, and my pumpkins.  Which I don't have yet, oddly.  I'm one to buy pumpkins VERY early, but this year I'm secretly hoping we can make it to a pumpkin patch to buy pumpkins, so I've been holding out for that.  So here are the goals that I've been contemplating for this month.

1. De-clutter the apartment.  I've always wanted to be someone who has a place for everything and who lives with only the essentials, no extra fluff anywhere.  But I also have trouble throwing things away and love picking up items for the home at TJ Maxx and Home Goods, so this will likely never happen for me.  However, I do think that we could live more simply than we currently do, so I've signed up for an e-mail list for this month with a task for every day to de-clutter our home.  I'm going to do my best to follow through with these and am hoping that by October 31st we'll be living in a mostly clutter-free apartment.  

2.  Read two books.  This proved impossible in September, and I only made it through one book (Writing to Find Yourself, which was a lovely, free e-book gem that was recommended by Shannon via Shauna Niequist. So so good), but I'm ambitious with reading in October.  I've already started Donald Miller's A  Million Miles in a Thousand Years and am hoping to breeze through this one, and I haven't quite selected my next one yet.  

3. Write 40 more pages in Small Joys.  With 46 pages written in September, I feel hopeful that there is more to be written in October.  I had set a goal for three chapters this week, but with our coffee table project and picking up some unanticipated hours at work, I'm not sure that this will happen.  In the weeks ahead, I anticipate setting aside a good bit of time for writing, though.  

4.  Read through Hosea in the Old Testament.  I missed the She Reads Truth study on this because I was still catching up from the Ruth study, but thankfully they post all of there studies here, so I should be able to catch up over time.  I loved the book Redeeming Love which is based off of the book of Hosea, so I'm full of anticipation for what God will teach me in this book.  Read it with me?

5.  Run with abandon.  Running in the fall is my jam, and I'm so glad temps are dropping as they leaves are and that I'll be able to run without feeling sticky and disgusting.  Scott and I went on our first little 2 mile Fall run the other day on the Monon trail and it was so so lovely.  I'd like to make a goal of getting up to 5 miles again by the end of October.  I once could run 10 miles at a time through the streets of Chapel Hill and Durham, NC, but presently, 3 feels like more than enough.  

I hope October treats you well.  We're starting our's off with some challenges that we didn't anticipate, but we're hopeful in knowing that God redeems all things and uses all things for His purposes.  We will trust in this and in Him, though the waters seem murky and the way isn't well-lit.  

Sending lots of love & thoughts of warm pumpkin drinks your way today!

Love,
Cristina.