Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fear-esolutions: 2015, Pt. 2

In a few hours, 2015 will be history and 2016 will be here for us to make our mark on it. Honestly, I've never been more ready to put a year behind me than I am this year. 2015 was...wild and crazy. Yeah. We'll stick with that. But at the same time, I'm grateful for everything this year has taught me, and I am a better person and a stronger Christian because of it. Some of you might remember this post from January 1st of this year. While some of these fears were silly, most of them were valid. So here's my follow up post to see how I did.

Fear #1 Going to dental school

Honestly, I almost failed at overcoming this one. I don't know if you're familiar with panic attacks, but I was introduced to them this year. Two weeks into the first semester, I was on the verge of my third attack in 2 days, and I didn't know what was happening, and nothing in my life was going right. So I decided to quit. I spent an hour explaining to my mother why I should do so. She let me talk, and then she explained all the reasons that it was a bad idea for me to quit, and told me that was my fear talking, not me. She asked me to do at least one semester. Of course, by the time I got that far, I didn't want to waste all my work so far. And on October 14th, I celebrated finishing along with 13 other girls.

Fear #2 Taking boards

Oh goodness. It was hard. I studied my butt off, and I still didn't feel prepared enough. The morning I took my test, I prayed and, more or less, told God that "I feel like this is what You want me to do. This is in Your hands now. If this is really what You want me to do, then You're gonna have to help me." It appears this was the right thing, because I passed. Fear = conquered.

Fear #3 Selling dental supplies

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Look, don't tell my classmates or teachers this, but I didn't sell a blooming thing. I didn't have time. It didn't affect my grades, but my homework did, so guess which one got done? Exactly. To be fair, I didn't necessarily participate in any of the special trips, so I wasn't "taking everyone else's money", or whatever. So I didn't conquer this fear, per se, but I did have to convince about 9 people to let me take X-rays on them, and that was a chore. So, I'm gonna say I conquered this one.

Fear #4 Working with and on strangers

It's funny how I can laugh at myself and shake my head now, because this seems so dumb. Working with strangers? Well, your classmates aren't strangers for very long, when you have to mess with each other's mouths. So we can check that off. Small talk in the operatory? More of a work in progress. I've learned to kinda feel the patient out, so to speak. Some people don't wanna make small talk, and that's perfectly fine. Others like to talk about the most random things, and that's cool, too. Overall, fear = basically conquered.

Fear #5 Moving out on my own

*snorts* Ha. My mother wishes I would move out. I pay rent. Does that count?? Seriously, though, I don't know what keeps me from being more independent. Maybe I'm codependent. *shrugs* I feel like investing rent into an apartment here in town would be a waste, I guess, because I don't want to stay in this area permanently. I'm hoping things in this area will change in 2016, so for now, I'll carry this fear over to my new list of fear-esolutions.

Fear #6 Getting a new job

God really blessed me in this one. I have a job now, but I wasn't even looking for one until after the new year. It was a little hard leaving my customer service job, but only because of the 3 years' worth of memories I had there. But every day I get to spend working with ortho kids is another day I don't have to get yelled at over an overdue bill. PRAISE the Lord, and fear = conquered.

Fear #7 Admitting my mistakes

God has really worked on me in this area this year. I can't really say a whole lot about it here, but Satan sure loves to hit you at your weakest, and it's really humbling (kinda humiliating, even) to 'fess up when you've done wrong. This "fear" is something I'm gonna keep working on in 2016.

Fear #8 Changing churches

Woooooowwwwwww this one was hard. Like I've said before, we had attended my former church for about 12 years, and it was so ingrained in me, that I felt like I was leaving part of myself there. I've finally learned, though, that in order to become a better person, and a stronger Christian, you have to leave your old self behind. Sadly, it took something very drastic for me to make the first step away, and it did take a bit for me to trust my new church, but I can say now that I am home. And it's wonderful. Fear = conquered.

Fear #9 Taking voice lessons

*sighs* Well, the voice teacher got kicked out of the music department of our community college, due to a petty staff disagreement, and she moved an hour away. So...maybe I'll do this one in 2016, too. Still mad about that whole deal.

Fear #10 Talking to guys

*mumbling under breath* I don't wanna talk about this. We have had some...interesting things this year in this area. Apparently, with my friends and family, they do not know how to introduce me to a guy, leave us to talk innocently, and maybe become friends. No, they prefer to single out a guy that looks compatible with me, tease me MERCILESSLY about him, and make faces at me when we're within 10 feet of him. All of which makes it entirely impossible for me to try to carry on a normal conversation with him once we're kinda sorta introduced. The result has been 3 rather stupid crushes, to be honest, that only make me ashamed of myself. (To be fair, I have made some jokes myself, but I had hoped at some point we could just all forget it and move on and act like humans.) I said all that to say that, no, I haven't conquered this fear, yes, it's still difficult for me to talk to guys (especially older than me), and, yes, this is DEFINITELY something to improve on in 2016. 

(This entire video is basically me.)

I know it's clich├ęd, but I'll say it anyways. I'm a very different person today than I was on January 1st, 2015. And that isn't an all bad thing. One thing I am most excited about is that I was finally able to structure my devotions, and my relationship with Jesus is sweeter than I ever imagined it could be.

With the last post, I said I had dubbed two "Brave" songs as my theme. This time, I don't know what my theme could be. I think I'll elaborate more on that in tomorrow's post. Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve, everybody. ;-)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul (I'M BACK!!!)

 Hi there.

The Squirrel has been hiding out in the real world, anxiously counting the days till she could rejoin the blogging world.

And let me tell you, this has been some hibernation. When I wrote this post back in January, I had no idea what would happen. I figured I would go to school, learn some stuff, and take some board exams.

I did all that, yes. But I never counted on my family dynamics changing, or my church changing, or me changing.

The past 11 months has been a journey. It's been hard, and I've learned a lot more than just making temporary crowns and how to file insurance. But today I don't want to talk about that. God has been immensely good to me this year, and I wanna share what I have to be thankful for this year. (Kinda appropriate that it's currently November, right?) So here you go:

#1 I graduated dental school, and I passed my board. 

I'm going to say it right here and now that if it wasn't for God's help, I would not have survived school,  and I would not have passed my board. That's not an exaggeration and I'm not joking. I've always been pretty good at school. It's kinda my place to shine. And I've never really had test anxiety. But dental school changed all that. Hahaha. Some people might say it's the power of positive thinking, but those people don't know the number of prayers I've prayed, or the nights I've spent literally crying to God. I've never felt more dependent on God than the day I took my board. I studied all I could, but it was a very, very hard test. And now here I stand, a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

#2 I conquered a lot of my fears.

Remember my goofy post about my "fear-esolutions"? Well, I'll do my follow up post after January 1st, but I'll say here that I've had to conquer a great deal of fear this year, with God's help, of course. Now that I'm on the other side of those fears, I feel like a completely different person.

#3 I have an amazing family.

Awh, guys, I can't even express how wonderful my family is. I'll never be able to explain how amazing my mom is, and I've grown so close to my younger brothers. This summer was the first time we've been separated for a good length of time, and it was rough. Seriously. We have truly become friends. And my mom is such a special strong person. In January, I bawled for an hour while I explained why I needed to quit dental school 2 weeks in. She let me talk, and then quietly said that I have to try at least one semester. If she hadn't encouraged me, I very likely wouldn't be here today.

#4 I have some incomparable friends.

I call them my squad, and they all have their nicknames: "John Watson", "Shawn Spencer", "Ron Swanson", and "Motormouth". (Sometime, I'll have to introduce them here.) They have truly held me up this year. They've listened to me vent and cry, they've advised me, and they've eaten breakfast food with me on my bad days. And they have been my endless cheerleaders.

#5 I understand God.

I went to church in the womb. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at 7 or 8. I was filled with the Spirit at 11. I rededicated my life to Christ at 13. But somehow, I never truly understood God's heart until this year. I guess my world had to shatter for me to really see Him. And He is amazing. To comprehend how much and how sincerely He loves me is the only thing worth living for.

#6 I have a job that I love.

NO. MORE. CUSTOMER. SERVICE. I did my time for 3 years. No longer. My current job is basically interim, but it's everything I wanted and I know I've found the job I want to do the rest of my life. It's a wonderful feeling.

#7 I've found a new home. At church, that is.

It was a hard transition. I spent 12 years at our former church. I explained all that in this post. But we absolutely had to leave due to some issues, and so we found our way to this one. It took me a few months to feel at home and trust everyone, but everyone there made it easy. ;-) And I cannot say enough good things about my pastor and his wife. They have been God's hands and God's heart to my family.

#8 I found myself some hobbies.

I never stopped writing. I'm apologizing ahead of time because I have 21 draft posts, and there'll be more to come, I know. You won't be rid of me for awhile. But I also discovered my talent for editing. My dear friend, Emily, has a knack for writing poetry, and she asked me to be her editor a few months ago. Which is a fancy term for "she sends me a draft poem, I fangirl over it for 10 minutes, check spelling/grammar, suggest a few changes, title the poem, send it back, and she posts it to Ampersand Poetry". Not super special, but we make a great team, and she promised to remember me when she became famous. You can be sure you will be seeing her stuff here. We also switched roles a couple times, wherein I tried to write poetry, failed miserably, and she fixed it. Maybe I'll post those. Maybe not. I have also become addicted to tea and MBTI, in that order. Hamlette and Charity, you have NO idea what beast y'all started a year ago. Future post on that too.

#9 I've learned to stretch myself.

I don't want to tell these stories yet. But let's just say that I've learned to get outside my comfort zone, and it's uncomfortable, but God's teaching me a few things about thinking beyond myself. I'm beginning to really comprehend how our pain and discomfort can touch someone else in their need.

#10 I have good health and I'm safe.

I put almost 3000 miles on my 15 year old car this year, and I've had virtually no car trouble. With the exception of replacing a compressor fan and a heater hose. That is a small miracle. The other miracle is that in June, I was in my first car accident, which could have been a horrible T-bone, but for the grace of God was just a nasty side swipe that the other person's insurance paid for. I was even able to still drive my car while waiting on insurance to come through. Regarding health, well, I've experienced ulcers for the first time in my life. I was horribly sick from about January-March, and through process of elimination, we decided it was most likely ulcers. Are they gone now? No, and because I haven't kept good eating habits, they still flare up about once a month maybe, depending on my stress level. But I no longer have to fight to keep my food down at every meal, and for that, I am so grateful.

There's a lot more I could mention, but I'll stop there. My first instinct on coming back to the blog was to think of all the horrible things that happened to me, and I wondered how I would write about them. But the more I thought about what good has happened, the more I realized that I should be praising God instead. He has truly taught me to say what this song says:

It's really, really good to be back.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Oh, Brother

Dear Joseph
My dear brother

Most Fabulous Jerkface:

I'm not really sure where to start.
And I'm not quite sure what to say.

Today is your 21st birthday. And that's kind of hard to wrap my head around. You used to be this cute, buzz-cut chubster with a charming smile that hid a ornery brain. Now you're a tall, handsome soldier who still hides his mischief behind a Cheshire grin.

 Since it's your 21st birthday, there are a whole lot of things I should say, and a few things I could say (but I won't). If you were home, we could really have some fun, but you're 1,173 miles away, so I guess maybe I'll have a Mountain Dew in your honor.

And, well, I hate to tell you, but your birthday card will probably be late, since your talented big sister managed to lose your address for a full 3 days. I hope this post can make up for it. I'm not sure what I should say, so I guess I'll settle for "I'm sorry" and "thank you".

I'm sorry that I didn't let you talk until you were 2.

I'm sorry about this picture.

And this picture.

And that one.

But I won't apologize for this one. Never.

I'm sorry I made you marry me so many times. At least you'll know what a good wife looks like.

I'm sorry about that one bloody nose. It was an accident. And you were the one trying to teach me to box, so it's mostly your own fault.

I'm sorry for the dress-up games and the tea parties. At least you were cute.

Thank you for teaching me the important things. Like how to stiff-arm in football. And how to frog people correctly. And how to properly wear a ball gown.

Thank you for teaching me to always be brave. Whether it was riding my bike without training wheels or talking to people outside of my comfort zone.

Thank you for showing me how to be strong in the midst of a trial. You've shouldered burdens that full grown men shouldn't have to carry, yet you've shown wisdom and grace beyond your years.

Thank you for showing me a heart after God. When life got hard, you turned to God instead of blaming Him. And I know finding God's will isn't always easy, but I've seen you seek hard after Him, and you've been rewarded.

Thank you for always treating me like a lady. Thank you for respecting me, and being fair with me, even when you didn't have to.

Thank you for showing me what perseverance and determination look like. You have overcome so many obstacles in your 21 years, and I'm so proud of how far you've gotten.

Thank you for always being honest with me. You trust me and I trust you. Even when we disagree, I know that you still have my back, and when we do agree, you're an awesome cheerleader.

Thank you for the brotherly advice. Amazingly enough, you ARE actually right sometimes.

Thanks for worrying about me, and doing your best to always take care of me. (Even from several states away.)

There's so much more I could say, but who has the time. I know you don't like mushy stuff. I'd cry if I hadn't lost my tear ducts in the war, you know.

So I'll just leave you with a charge from your favorite war hero:

"Keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn; that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’" 
1 Kings 2:3,4

I'm certainly not David, and there aren't any literal thrones around here, but the rest of it fits, I think.

Follow God's Word, walk before Him in truth, and let Him sit on the throne of your heart.

If you do that, then the world will not be lacking at least one real man.

Happy Birthday, bub. I love you.

Come back here and say that to my face. I'll take you any day.

P.S. For those of you who might read my blog regularly, or did before, I'm not technically back from hiatus. I'll be back to *normal* in a few weeks. :-)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Post I Don't Want to Write

I'm in denial of writing this post. I really want to take my blog and run and hide in a corner. Maybe then life will pass me by.

This is goodbye. I have signed my soul away to Davy Jones.

Okay, so that's really dramatic. What's actually going on is that I'm going back to school. Again.

Mom likes to joke that I have been in school ever since I was 4. It'd be funnier if she was wrong. 2014 was the first year I haven't been in school since I was 3 years old. Literally.

I want to be a dental assistant, and it took me 2 Associates and a Bachelor's to decide that. I have this little dream that I want some technical skills that I can use on the mission field. I can't really preach Jesus from a pulpit or a desk, but I sure would like to show Jesus with my hands. So I've been accepted into a 9 month program. I start classes January 10, and I'm scared to death.

I have to work full time for insurance, and I have 18 hours for the first semester. It's mostly online, and I drive an hour and a half one way for labs every Saturday.

I've never worked in healthcare. I'm probably the greenest student there. This program is pretty strict. I've never taken boards. I'll be looking for a new job by summer. I'm praying about moving out on my own and whether I should move out of my hometown.

I'm scared to death. I want to just work in customer service and live at home and read books and watch movies and blog for the rest of my life, but I can't. That's cheating.

Me and God had a discussion, and He said no. I am supposed to learn these skills, and I am supposed to reach the point where I can go on missions trips someday. Or serve missionaries. There's a tiny little match flame burning way back in the back of my heart, and I think God said it's time to stoke it.

And so, I'm still scared, but I'm not going to quit. I'm gonna do my best and work my hardest. And I'll pray and sweat and probably cry. But I know that God will be with me for every step, and that's more comforting than staying in my comfort zone.

Which brings me to the actual point of this post:
The Squirrel's Diary has to go on hiatus. That sentence actually makes me cry, but it has to be done. I have about a dozen ideas for posts, and I've got some pretty important movies coming up, and I never finished my reading list, but that's all gonna have wait.

I'll probably be lurking around y'all's blogs and commenting some, but I just won't have time to post anything. Oh, I'm sure I will still be writing stuff, because this year has taught me how therapeutic writing is. It feels good to suddenly get inspired and have to write it down RIGHT THIS MOMENT. I s'pose there is part of me that is a writer. :-) Just don't expect many new posts around the forest. That takes time.

The Squirrel's going into hibernation, and hopefully hibernation produces a more focused, well grounded Squirrel.

I know 9 months will go by quickly, but this will be the hardest 9 months of my short life. So I'm gonna be greedy and ask for your prayers. And I will think of you all very fondly.

Namarie, and le mellon.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fear-esolutions: 2015

That has such a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Makes ya feel kinda peppy, or adventurous, or fresh, right?

Well, not me. At least, not...yet. I woke up to 2015 feeling a bit overwhelmed. Part of that was because I made Mom mad at the New Year's Eve party. #whoops #i'lltakecareofthat #lol

Honestly, though, it was because I got to thinking about everything I have to do this year. I feel like 2015 might be a big year for me. I don't know.

I never really make resolutions. I never keep them, so who wants to make them? I mean, I can lose weight any time of the year. And I already read the Bible through in a year in 2014. {I'm feeling kinda proud of that one.} Anything else seems silly to resolve about.

But this year got me to thinking. And I made a list. Usually, for me, lists are like resolutions: I make them, and then I wander off and forget what I was doing. Darn you, Ne. But this list, I think might be able to finish.

I realized that 2015 was going to bring me some opportunities that I was deathly afraid of, so, perhaps, that could be my goals for 2015.

To deal with my fears.

I mean, that sounds all melodramatic and wonderful, but it's actually a bit silly, if you look at my list. Some people do these things every day of their lives. 

So this is my list. Or what I dubbed my "fear-esolutions". Cause, you know, I'm gonna "resolve" my fears? Yeah, it's a stretch....let's just go with it, 'kay? :-D

1. Going to dental school

The fear from which practically the rest of this list springs. I'm going to school to be a dental assistant, and my program starts January 10. I'M SCARED. DEATHLY SCARED. But this is what I wanna do, and God gave me the go-ahead, so we're biting the bullet and doing it.

2. Taking boards

The fact that I'm a natural test-taker doesn't make me feel better. I COULD FLUNK THESE THINGS.

3. Selling dental supplies

I am not, never have been, and never will be a salesperson. NEVER and EVER and EVER. If you tell me you don't need or want something, I will leave you alone. I don't push people. But it appears I better learn to be pushier, because I have to do this to help support our trips and things. EGADS.

4. Working with and on strangers

I've never worked in healthcare a day in my life. WHAT IF I GET SOMETHING WRONG. I'm not necessarily afraid of working alongside the girls in my cohort, but working mostly with people in the clinic. I don't want to hurt someone. And I am the ABSOLUTE world's worst at making small talk. HORRIBLE. 

5. Moving out on my own

Uh-huh, I know. I am 22, and I still live with my parents. It just kinda sorta worked out that way. Except that I need to start taking care of myself. And I have a myriad of excuses why I can't move out. One of them is that every time I start mentally listing the things I have to remember to live in my own place, I start hyperventilating. I keep telling myself it really can't be that bad. I gotta get it together.

6. Getting a new job

Part of me hates my current job and then part of me thinks, "Well, I've been here 2 1/2 years, why not just stay?" *snicker* That's a horrid reason to stay. I'm comfortable here, and a new job means reverting back to my face of "I'll just be super quiet and super observant and super polite and super focused so I don't screw anything up and they'll like me". Ugh.

7. Admitting my mistakes

Actually, I've already resolved this. :-) I made some choices, and God dealt with me for a while about being honest about them. So I took care of that last week. It feels better, but it does make you feel small inside. And it humbles you, but I'm more than okay with that. I think trust is more important than looking good.

8. Changing churches

You have to understand. I've been at this church for almost 12 years. The only youth pastors I ever had (although, they left 4 years ago). The only youth group I ever had (although we're down to 3 members now, counting me). I can take you to the pew where I rededicated my life to God (although we actually sold that building in 2014). It's part of my memories, part of my childhood, part of me. I grew up here, and now I'm dying here. I have to leave, but it's hard.

9. Taking voice lessons
10. Talking to boys

Because I want to end this on a happy note. Laugh all you want; I'm serious. You're looking at 2 things that, if I think about it long enough, drops my heart lower than my stomach, faster than a speeding bullet. 

I mean, I kinda laugh at it myself. Voice lessons, for real?! But, yeah. I love singing, and my voice is like an extension of myself. What if I'm good? Or what if I'm really not that good? What if I'm not the soprano I always thought I was? Would people actually like to hear me sing? It doesn't help that I'm totally in awe of and slightly intimidated by the voice teacher. But if the voice teacher is practically begging you to come (according to Alex, at least), then, well, maybe I should actually look into it. 

And, boys. I mean, come on: they're everywhere. Well, remember what I said about small talk? What do boys even like to talk about?! I don't know. I will talk for hours in mixed company, or amongst my gal pals. But put me semi-alone with a guy, or guys, and I shut up. I have this overwhelming feeling that "HE THINKS I'M AN IDIOT HE THINKS I'M AN IDIOT". It's mostly because when I was a kid, I loved picking on guys, and I made myself quit. Now it worries me to be very near them. And it doesn't help that they don't know I exist. Or, at least, they never say anything. But that isn't gonna get me very far in life, so I think I'll try to practice my socializing a little more this year.

Nice list, ain't it? :-) I'm hoping I actually finish it. I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I think these two will be my new theme songs.

May you have a blessed New Year full of joy and fulfillment.