Hello friends! It’s been a long time. My last entry was from 15 months ago! Let me try to catch you up.

I am still doing the travel nurse thing. I am still trying to scheme my way into retirement. I have been somewhat successful, in that I have been able to diligently put money into savings which allows me to take longer breaks between travel assignments, a semi-retirement of sorts. I’ve contemplated changing careers altogether, but all the fun jobs would require I stop moving around and choose one place to land. But I simply cannot seem to choose that place. There are just too many places I haven’t seen yet. Then there is the simple fact that the Lord hasn’t released me from this call of nursing.

And what of this crazy pandemical year? Emily P. Freeman coined the word pandemical and I wholeheartedly approve. I’m glad you asked. I spent the winter in Phoenix so I could visit Son#1 when the travel industry took a big hit. I was on my way to Florida to visit Son#2 and DILy when all elective surgeries came to a screeching halt. Nationwide, hospitals had to figure out how to deal with the influx of large numbers of patients with the coronavirus. The quickest way to make beds available was to cancel elective surgeries. That was a crazy real moment. All the OR contracts disappeared, including the contract I was supposed to have in Florida. It was the first time in my career that I was legitimately unemployed.

In the meantime, states were begging nurses for help. Since I couldn’t find a surgical job, I applied for a job with Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team. I got hired. The DART is an on call team that responds to disasters of all kinds around the world. I ended up going to NYC and working in a covid unit for 9 days. I was never afraid of getting the virus. All my anxiety came from being out of my surgical element. It was an honor to meet and work with a team of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers all in the name of Jesus. Their prayers and support helped me get through those 9 days. I would not have made it through any other way.

After NYC, I returned to Florida for 2 weeks of quarantine in an extended stay hotel. Thankfully, the initial surge began to peak and elective surgeries began to be scheduled again. I secured a contract for the summer in Bozeman, Montana. I said goodbye to my Florida kids and made my way north.

Montana is unbelievably beautiful. I hiked so many trails and barely scratched the surface. I visited the Black Hills, Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park. While I was on contract in Montana, I was finally able to secure a California nursing license! So when my contract ended, I made my way to California by way of the Columbia River Gorge to visit my dear best friend and to look for work. I arrived in California just as it was being shut down due to the worst wildfire season in its recorded history. Nevertheless, we managed to have a weekend in Lake Tahoe before it was too late. Despite all the crazy, this was one of the best road trips I’ve ever experienced.

So here I am in California. I’ve been here since August. I had a month of adventure before I began working again. I’ve been working in surgery centers, filling empty spaces because the nursing shortage is critical at this point.

And after successfully avoiding the virus all year, it finally got me. I am so so thankful to report I had very mild symptoms – low grade fever, chills, body aches, stuffy nose, loss of smell, and minor coughing. Once again, I find myself in isolation, this time for just 10 days. Praise God, I am cleared to return to work this Tuesday.

Now that I’m on the back end of one of the deadliest viruses the world has seen in 100 years, I am reflecting on 2020. This has been one of the toughest years of my life. I am an introvert, so when the task force said we needed to distance ourselves from each other, I was like, cool, this fits right in with my lifestyle. But you guys! Even an introvert needs some social interaction. I’m so so thankful I am an essential worker. My work allows me to be around people, even if it means being exposed to illness.

As if a pandemic wasn’t enough, we have the extra added weight of all the crimes committed against BIPOC and the absurdity of an election that doesn’t seem like it will ever end! This year has been one for the record books. For all of us. I confess that I am still struggling with all the feelings this year has brought to the surface in my life.

This brings me to hope. Not the optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. This definition of hope has no certainty. There is no peace in this definition. The definition I’m talking about only comes from a person. My hope is in Jesus Christ.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2: 5-11

It is this hope in Jesus that makes me know with certainty that I will keep on keeping on, dealing with all the feelings, seeking the Kingdom of God, praying for these divided states to become united again, hoping against hope that we will make it through the valley and we will be better for all of it.

Hopefully yours, Michelle

Unconditional Cheerleader

When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be a cheerleader. I can’t remember the details of how I found out about the try outs, but I signed up, went to the camp where I learned the cheers, practiced, and then tried out. I made the squad for 7th grade… as an alternate. Raub Junior High Indians. I didn’t get to wear the regular uniform. I wore this really cute mascot costume, with moccasins and feather. My pride made me feel less than, not good enough. Then my pride made me complain about the experience for all of 7th grade. I didn’t want to participate in any of the cheerleader extracurricular events that solidify a team. At the age of 12/13, I was not a team player. From my perspective, I saw those girls as being silly and snobby toward others. I saw them look down on others who weren’t cool enough to be cheerleaders. I didn’t like what I saw because I saw others as being equally special and important. My junior high cheerleading career may have ended after only 1 season, but my lifetime cheerleading career developed and is strong.

Son#2 married the girl of his dreams this past weekend. The day was absolutely beautiful. The weather was overcast. Processing my emotions is always a challenge. Milestones leave me feeling joy and grief at the same time. Milestones are signposts marking the end of one era, the beginning of the next. If I’m not careful, I get stuck at the sign for too long, looking back on all that has been, feeling like I’ve lost instead of gained, longing to go back and do it again.

But my sons are men now. And as a friend pointed out to me recently, I have successfully led them through childhood to adulthood, which is exactly what a parent hopes to accomplish. As their personal cheerleader, and biggest fan, I did it!

When I feel sad, I have to keep reminding myself that the milestone isn’t just an ending, it’s also a beginning. My cheerleader skills are still needed. This life isn’t over yet. It’s just beginning.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 ESV