Not so Non-Traditional

I sit here at my computer reveling in the fact that I have just completed my first week of an online class. That’s right, I’m going back to school!

back2school

This is something I have tossed around over the years, and even contemplated going back into Nursing, once upon a time. But with my back, being the kind of nurse I want and would need to be; was unlikely. The idea of college at my age is a bit scary, especially since I thought being 30yo and going to nursing school was kind of crazy. That was over 15 years ago and actually the median age of our particular class was mid to late 20’s. We only had a handful of young girls whom had just recently graduated from high school. In fact there were two women who were over 50. I was in awe of their commitment and determination. Now, as I am less than 24 months from that same half century mark I am feeling determined myself. I recall at that time, often hearing the term “non-traditional student” and I certainly fell into what it was understood to be. In the past week as I have worked on committing to a study routine, I have thought about that term again. I even looked it up to see what the net had to say.

Wikipedia says that A non-traditional student is an American term referring to a category of students at tertiary educational institutions.The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) acknowledges there is no precise definition for non-traditional student, but suggests that part-time status and age are common elements.

I also came across the following information from the following site: http://www.youcandealwithit.com. They showed that the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has identified seven characteristics that are common to nontraditional students. To be considered a nontraditional undergraduate, you:
• Do not immediately continue your education after you graduate from high school
• Attend college only part time
• Work full time (35 hours or more per week)
• Are financially independent
• Have children or dependents other than your spouse
• Are a single parent
• Have a GED, not a high school diploma
The also stated that 75% of all undergraduate students have a least one of these characteristics and are thus “nontraditional” in one way or another. Among students with three or more of these non-traditional characteristics, having a dependent is the most common at 80%.

So here I sit, quite non-traditional to say the least. But as I have thought about that term I am also reminded of something else that keeps me going on the days that I just want to throw in the towel. Everything that happens in my life, our lives; is all in His timing. With that being the case, I’m not necessarily non traditional as it just was not my time until now. I needed the life experience over a classroom, waiting until He provided the open door. This knowledge really does help propel me forward, especially after the last six months. It was during the earliest part, before the accident when I was searching for work and how difficult it was. There was just nothing available that would give me the income I needed to care for my daughter and I. At most I could maybe find something that was a little above minimum wage but may not be full time.I was most likely going to have to drive, as jobs in my small community are few and far between. Everything that was of interest to me, I was not qualified for because I didn’t have a degree. I could go back into retail, but the continuous time on my feet would not help my back as I discovered recently. I was of coarse sidetracked with the accident and caring for my daughter and then ultimately my own surgery. It was two weeks post surgery, not released for work and going stir crazy because I had limitations of what I could and could not do. Then I sat down and wrote my last blog entry, remembering how much I love writing and that as far back as I can remember, all I  have wanted to do is write. It’s what I originally wanted to go to college for. But 30 years ago, fear won out and I put college off, what was only supposed to be a year or two turned into 13. Today, I know my choice was merely a part of God’s plan for me. He needed me to experience the things that I have, which have helped to shape me into the person that I am today. The journey I started on by not going to college 30 years ago has given me much to write about, good and bad alike. Each of these life experiences not only shape who I am, ut will help make me the kind of student I need to be.

Which brings me to share with you what I will be studying. English, I will be earning my Bachelors of Arts in English! Just seeing the words gets me all sorts of excited about the process and what the end results will have to offer me. Its going to be a lot of hard work, but I am ready for the challenge! This first week, my first class is about becoming a Master Student. Teaching us the basics, what you need to be a good student and excel. Time management, To-do lists, Setting goals; all a part of the beginning foundation that will push us up and into success at this educational level. Reminding us collectively to set ourselves up to succeed (not fail). There was a question the reading asked us to ask ourselves, “Is this a piano?” The meaning behind this being, does it have to be perfect? Will doing your best be enough? Perfection is going to be difficult to obtain, but if you are giving your best and giving 100% of it; then that is success in itself. It also stressed the importance of surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed. I am so blessed here because I have a wonderful support system that stems from my kids, church family, to good friends in my community. My kids have been especially awesome as the three older kids (who are all attending college classes themselves) will text me or even send a Snap to see how things are going, asking specifically about my classes! 😀 That makes my mamma hear smile. I have had so many people that I know either text me or send me a message on Facebook telling me that they are proud of me and encouraging me in this new endeavor. It is all of that combined that will help keep me moving forward towards this new and lofty, but certainly obtainable goal. I am blessed.

itsnever2late

Until the next moment,

 

Staying Silent in the Storm

Its been just over six months since my last entry. Forgive me for my extended silence, but for the first few weeks I let the impeding storm get the best of me. On March 26th, I was let go from a job I truly loved very unexpectedly. I am sad to admit that while it was unexpected, it was unfortunately not unwarranted. I pushed the limits of a very firm line where no gray existed. My actions had consequences, as they always do. I still regret the choice I made, and would certainly do it differently. Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes. I certainly have learned much from this error in my own judgement, and still respect the choice made by my former employer. All of this occurred  just before Easter, so I took a couple weeks to relax and enjoy my family as we prepared to celebrate our Risen Savior. Then I began my work search, which did not go well. There was nothing  available in the current field I was working (Customer Service) or anything similar. After nearly two months of futile searching, I took a position at a local travel stop. I worked three days and then the storm kicked in even harder, this time with more severe casualties.

The evening of May 15th, I received a call no parent wants to receive, but I am relieved to say that it could have been a worse call… but God had other plans. I still remember that call as if it was last night. My son was home briefly from the end of his second year of college. Spending some quality family time before heading off to a summer internship. We were playing Mario Cart with his younger sister when my phone rang. I was actively playing and asked my daughter to bring me my phone. It was my middle daughter’s boyfriend calling, which I thought nothing of, because her phone often died. I answered the phone and it was actually her boyfriend, Heath. I instantly knew something was wrong as his voice lacked his usual playful tone. He proceeded to say, “Um… We were sort of in an accident and Kayleigh is hurt. Do you just want to talk to the EMT?” He handed the phone off to a man who would tell me that my daughter was conscious, but they believed she had a broken hip. He then explained where they were taking her. Before he got off the phone he told me how lucky she was as this particular type of accident is often ends in fatality. Lucky, no… God just had other plans.

I quickly called someone in my church family and explained what was happening, getting the mighty power of prayer in motion. I then headed down the interstate on the hour long drive (that felt more like two) with my two children. I called my oldest daughter and a dear friend as I silently prayed myself as I drove along. As we got closer, an officer from the scene of the accident called to give me more information, reiterating what the EMT had said about the accident. His words were, “Its a miracle she’s doing so well” He also let me know that the other driver received a citation at the scene, calling the accident a “high speed collision”. He also confirmed that Heath was OK, he had gotten hit in the face with the airbag and was sore from the seat belt, but had no apparent injuries. I had about twenty minutes left in my drive at this time… the longest twenty minutes of my life.

We arrived at the hospital and found parking near the ER entrance. As we waited to speak to a woman behind the front desk I noticed a man walking quickly down the hall. After letting the woman at the desk know why we were there we were directed the the ER room she was in. Walking in the room, I saw my daughter lying on a gurney still in a neck brace, my heart instantly dropped in my chest. I looked around the room and in the back corner there were the doctors looking at her X-ray, one of them the man I had seen in the hallway. I would shortly learn he was the orthopedic surgeon. Even without my medical background, looking at the X-ray I knew it was bad. Within minutes, the surgeon explained that there were three breaks in her hip and pelvis. She would certainly need surgery.

peggy

They got her prepped and preformed the surgery that very night, taking just over an hour to complete. They placed an internal screw and an external fixator to help hold her pelvis in place while it healed. This would take 7-8 weeks, of which she would not be able to walk. Once she was settled post surgery, the kids and I tried to get a little sleep in one of the waiting rooms. She was in ICU for a couple days, during which time we were given a respite room to rest in. After a five day stay, she was transferred to a Rehabilitation facility for eight days. Here she learned how to move and take care of herself with the fixator in place. This gave us time to turn our living room into her living space while she healed.

cominghome

Once she was home I was able to go back to the job I had started in May. It became very evident that I was not going to be physically able to do this particular job (standing for eight hours) for very long. My back began to feel the stress and the whole reality of my life began to take it’s toll. I missed a couple days of work and during the time I was resting I heard the wee small voice of God, “Do you trust me?” I showed Him that I did, by contacting my employer and letting them know that I would not be coming back to work, that it was not in the best interest of my health. Thus started the work search once again… However, this time it wasn’t as long and I had a promising new FT job that I was looking forward too. To my surprise, it was not as it had been presented and would actually only be PT hours, thus my need to find a second PT job or a different job entirely. Once again, God was in control.

My daughter had the fixator removed on July 6th with no complications. She then started her four weeks of PT the very next day. She spent one week with the walker, one week with a cane and then spent two weeks beginning the task of rebuilding strength in her legs, getting her ready to head back to college. I can’t begin to explain what this summer was for us as a family, as individuals… How it changed us. My son stepped up and became an even better man than I could have ever imagined, showing such compassion for all his sisters, as well as myself. He was just there in every way possible; no questions asked, he just did. I can honestly say that I would not have gotten through the first few days of this whole ordeal without him. My daughter herself showed such strength in what lie ahead of her. She didn’t question, she just trusted, walking by faith, not by sight; just like her life verse. Even that first night, she set aside her own fears and comforted her tearful little sister, telling her to “be strong and to not cry”.

firsthug         possile

Just one week before my daughter would have the external fixator removed (at week seven) I “tweaked” my back getting off the couch one evening. I would discover the next morning, that had done much more that just “tweak” it. I was in excruciating pain and after a trip to the ER, the doc was concerned that I had re-injured one of my compromised disks from a sever injury over ten years ago. Two weeks of PT showed no improvement, and actually my pain intensified as it began radiating down my leg into my knee on my left side. The initial MRI was turned down by my insurance company, but my doctor was a great advocate and by the end of week three I was scheduled for an MRI at the end of the next week. By the end of week five, I was on the phone with my doc discussing the results. I had two herniated disks and he was sending me to speak to a surgeon. It could have taken two to three weeks to get an appointment but by God’s grace there was a cancellation and I was seeing the surgeon just three days after my results.

My visit with the surgeon was short and sweet, he shared with me that the MRI revealed that one of my disks was actually ruptured and the broken piece had fallen into the joint of my vertebrae and was pinching the nerve. He even said to me after looking at it, “It’s no wonder you are in pain”. They scheduled the surgery for ten days out and presented the information to the my insurance. I was worried that the surgery might not be initially approved, just like the MRI but that was not the case. It was approved, I just had to come up with my portion on the payment. Once again, God provided and I was set for surgery. My microdisectomy took just under an hour, the ruptured disk was actually in two pieces, and had caused the nerve to turn on itself. 24 hours later I was headed home, uncomfortable from the surgery itself but free of the pain I had been experiencing for nearly two months.

That was three weeks ago tomorrow and I am feeling better and stronger everyday. Last week I had my follow-up visit and will return one last time at the end of the month. At that point I will be released for PT and prepare to get back to work, still trying to see where that is suppose to be. This morning, I was only further reminded that God is indeed in control, aiding us through the storm…

storm

“Christians have many benefits as children of God, but flood-free lives are not one of them. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult things to accept. Noah spent his life walking with God, yet he and his family faced a horrific storm. As the door of the ark was closed, Noah’s only hope was to trust God through the unknown.
We all have faced unknown storms. The untimely death of a family member. The uncertainty of our health. Unemployment. Just to name a few. But our key verse gives us a certainty for times that are uncertain.
No matter the severity of the storm or how we arrived in its eye, we can trust two simple truths about God and the floods we face: 1) God remembers His plan for us. 2) God remembers His love for us.
A storm doesn’t mean God forgot us. God remembered Noah and gave him instructions to build the ark. It was Noah’s obedience that kept his family safe when the flood rose. In the same way, God directs us, and our safety often requires obedience. Whether we are currently in a storm or just on the other side of one, we can be certain our storm will end. Isn’t it comforting to know that God will be with us through it all?”~First 5

So as I move forward out of the storm into bluer skies I am so very thankful. Thankful that I was allowed to play nursemaid to my daughter this summer instead of mourn her. Thankful that I was able to see my son grow into the compassionate and caring man he is becoming. Knowing that he will do great things in his future, that he will make a difference in his lifetime. Even more so thankful, no blessed, by the kindness and generosity of the people He has placed in our lives. Whether it was meals/groceries, running an errand, picking up my child when I couldn’t drive, or the simple act of prayer. We were shown so much Christlike love, through action over the coarse of this summer. It will never be possible to repay, but I will certainly pay it forward when given the opportunity and pray for God’s blessings on them all.

I hope to not let there be so much time between entries in the future, as I really want to use this blog to show others, what can be done when you trust God, when you allow Him to be the top priority in your life. That even when the door is shut, you can praise Him in the hallway while you wait for the next door to open. That you can learn to take every moment of life as He gives it to you, never walking alone… Praising Him in the Storm.

Until the next moment,