When writing an essay doesn’t go to plan…

My Saturday afternoon seems to have all gone wrong. I was going to work on my essay, finish my first draft, and start reviewing it. Admittedly, I do now have 2250 words out of the 3000 words required, but words have not been coming fast. I can’t think how to write what I have learnt about pain management in children. I can’t think what to base my case study on. I can’t seem to work out how to apply my research on pain management to my as-yet-unwritten case study.

And the printer doesn’t want to work.

Let me explain. When I have written a reasonable amount of an essay, I always like having a printed copy to work from. I just do. I like the clean-ness and clarity of a neatly typed and printed copy – it is just perfect to cover with scribbled notes, suggested changes, and reworded sentences. But today, the printer is being stroppy – it is never good news when it says, “Please wait a while”. Consequently, I have every other page of essay printed, but the other pages are stuck on my laptop, and the printer refuses to print them.

It is at times like this that I can start telling myself that it is no good. That I don’t have it in me to make my way through this three-year nursing degree. I mean, I can’t even print an essay, let alone write it. And I am only in my first year – it only gets harder after this. Not to mention, I am not a good student. I spend too much time watching “One Born Every Minute” (or some other TV shows), when I should really be working. I don’t read as much or as often as I should.  And my memory is like a sieve – I seem to forget everything I try to learn within a couple of days.

The accusations come flying in. The verdict? Not good enough.

It is just one of those kind of days.

And it is also one of those moments when I need to remind myself why I am here. I need to remind myself why I want to be a nurse – how I want to be there for children and their families at some of the most vulnerable moments of their lives when they most need loving care and support. I need to remind myself of my own experience as a little girl of 8-years-old with a very sick baby sister, and how that influenced my decision all these years later.

I also need to remind myself of how I came to be here. I came through so many dashed hopes and so much uncertainty, just to study nursing. I need to remember how the Lord brought me and placed me here – to study nursing. If He brought me here, He can give me all I need to go through with the course. He can enable me to pass this first year. He can help me to do well in my second placement coming up in just over a weeks’ time. And He can help me to complete this essay. We will deal with that lie of ‘not good enough’ another time. For now, it is enough for me to know that I don’t have to do this on my own, for the Lord is my help.

No one ever said university was going to be easy. No one ever said nursing was going to be easy either. But the Lord is Almighty, and He can help me through. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “I can do everything through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”(Philippians 4:13) With Christ, I can do it!

And it can be applied to so much more. We should never limit God’s power and ability. In the most difficult and impossible situations (and I’m talking situations much, much harder than finishing a 3000-word assignment for the 5th June!)  God is there for His children, and He will help them and carry them through. He will give grace for the darkest moments. He will uphold in the moments when all else seems to fail. He will comfort in the midst of grief. He will bring hope into despair. He will be there for us when we need Him most. He is there, even when we doubt Him, and He loves us with a love beyond all telling. The list goes on. There is lifting up!

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Uni – Instagrammed

When looking for photos to picture my first year at university, instagram is my go-to place. To be honest, I have probably taken more photos with the tacky camera on my phone than I have with my proper camera. That sounds bad in a way, but I call it taking photos for memory’s sake rather than for quality! It is kind of like learning to live more in the moment and delighting in those little memories! These photos have been taken since I started last September, and are very much brief snapshots of some of the moments in the last 7 months. It is only an incomplete picture, so many things are missing, but these may give a little glimpse of my life at uni. Enjoy!

wpid-img_20131111_090608.jpg– tea and English muffins –

wpid-img_20131111_184233.jpg– studying my anatomy and physiology module –

(This was back in November, and I am only now facing the exam.)

wpid-img_20131112_161914.jpg– baking –

(because you have to bake at uni!)

wpid-img_20131123_161547.jpg– Saturday afternoon walk and a winter sunset –

wpid-img_20131129_114134.jpg– uni campus from the bus –

(the building on the right is actually the back of the nursing building)

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 – green card for placement, following the completion of all my vaccinations –

wpid-img_20131210_174049.jpg– Christmas lights on campus –

wpid-img_20131211_103456.jpg– a misty morning walk to a 9am lecture –

wpid-img_20131224_221004.jpg– Christmas at home –

(And I’m still not too old for a stocking!)

wpid-img_20140102_211206.jpg–  writing my last essays –

wpid-img_20140131_083559.jpg– morning walk to catch the bus to my first placement (P1) –

wpid-img_20140210_163626.jpg– my P1 wasn’t actually based in this old hospital building, but in a another building on the same site –

wpid-img_20140211_083942.jpg– rain on the bus window (p1 again)!

wpid-img_20140309_102839.jpg– Sunday morning walk on the common before church –

wpid-img_20140313_140801.jpg– on campus one sunny afternoon –

wpid-img_20140314_124001.jpg– travelling back home for a visit –

wpid-img_20140314_202353.jpg– time spent with my little brother and sister –

wpid-img_20140331_182247.jpg– icecream, waffles, and good times with friends –

wpid-img_20140505_203945.jpg– a recent bank holiday walk to a bluebell wood with my family –

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– revision –

Dear Blog…

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Dear Blog,

I am so sorry for neglecting you over the past few months. I know – just as you were beginning to hope that I would write on you more often and take a little bit better care of you. I am sorry; I realise it must have been tough for you!

The thing is, lately my time has been so taken up with other things. I have been settling in at university, dealing with things like homesickness and overwhelmed-ness and adjusting to a change that is mammoth in itself. I have been working to get into a good study routine on those days when I don’t have lectures while at the same time striving to maintain a good work-life balance. I have been meeting new people, beginning to build new friendships, and learning to step out of my comfort zone. I have been discovering the challenges, as well as the freedoms, of living independently.

I am now 7 weeks into my first term at university. How quickly that time has flown! How long ago those quiet, lazy days of summers now seem! And yet how strange it seems to think that I have another 3 years (minus those 7 weeks!) of university to go before I will be fully finished. It seems a long time, yet I have been told it will fly by. And though I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by everything I am supposed to learn during those years, I am finding that the best way is to take things as they come and not fretting over next weeks’ work when I should be completing this weeks’ work.

My first 7 weeks at uni have been full. Though surprisingly, not as full of lectures as I was expecting or indeed would like. I enjoy the lectures I do have, and almost wish for more, though generally I find that there is plenty to do outside of lectures too. Such as meeting with friends, visiting my family, going shopping, taking walks, and of course, reading and studying!

There has been so much that is good – so much that makes me step back and thank God for placing me here. Yes, in this city which I have known all my life, in this city ‘too close to home’, in this city which ‘isn’t Cardiff’. God knew what He was doing – yes, even when I went through those agonising moments when I looked on UCAS and saw another ‘unsuccessful’ reply and when I thought that I was not going to university this year. He knew what he was doing when He opened the door for me to come here and then worked everything together in His perfect timing! Even in the ‘not-so-good’ moments (and there have been several), He still knows what He is doing, and I know that I can be confident that He is with me now and will be with me throughout all the years of university and beyond!

So that is my life in a nutshell (or some of it at least!).

Anna xx

(And yes, it does feel a little weird writing a letter to my blog, but hey, it’s fun!)

My Crazy Life

Right now I should really be going to sleep – I certainly should not be posting on my blog using my new phone! It seems so amazing to think that in the last couple of months since my last blog post my whole life has changed. Yes, I am now at university studying children’s nursing! It is a long long story how I came to be here – suffice to say that it happened in the most amazing and unexpected way. Life has been a bit crazy, but God has been so good! How good to know that in the midst of my crazy life, he is in complete control and will help and guide me.

More soon, I hope!

Photo a Week: Week 31 [First Steps in Quilting]

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Highlights from last week in brief…

…beginning to piece my first ever quilt (or what will hopefully be my first ever quilt! – pictured), afternoon walks with my little brother and sister, day outings with my little brother and sister to see Nelson’s ship, the first part of my first job interview, and a farewell party for my old music teacher who is moving away.  Busy, but good memories have been made.

Changing Seasons of Life

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It was over a month ago now that I changed from being homeschooled (in the present tense) into some one who was homeschooled (obviously, in the past tense).  In other words, I am now a homeschooled graduate.  Yes, finally!

I guess that the change came gradually for me.  There was a gradual lessening of my workload as I finished my subjects one by one.  Until I had just one thing left to finish.  Surprisingly, that one thing happened to be my least favourite – the one thing I didn’t want to do.  It took a little while, but I finally motivated myself to do it!  And with its completion came a sense of relief.  I was finished.  No more school!

So that season of life is now being left resolutely behind me.  In some ways, I am not too sad – my relationship with the curriculum my parents used was somewhat of a love-hate relationship, and there were moments when I became frustrated, both with it and with myself.  There were those inevitable moments of discouragement and those occasions when I found it really hard to motivate myself.  There were even moments when I felt that I was never going to finish.  Finally finishing was a lesson for me that perseverance does pay off!

But I guess that in a way, I am sad to leave school behind.  There were many, many moments when I enjoyed my schoolwork.  Finishing homeschool means no more fun stories to read (or write), no more complicated maths to exercise my (or baffle) brains, no more super-flexible deadlines (when I go to uni, know I am going to have to be a lot more disciplined).  I miss the structure of my schoolwork too – no longer are my days regulated by the work I have to complete for school.  Yes, I like my life to be fairly organized.

And now I am entering a new season of life.  The past few weeks have seemed a little disorganised as I try to adjust to life without any schoolwork.  I can read books all afternoon without feeling guilty because I really should have been working on that essay or this science project.  I have more time to help my mother as she schools my younger sister and brother, which I love being able to do.  My time to do the other things I enjoy has also increased, not always as much as I would like, however.  If anyone still reads my blog, you may hope that my time to blog has also increased a little.  You may be fortunate there, but I make no promises!

However, this season of life looks to be only passing and brief.  University is planned for the not too distant future, even if it is another year yet – I keep telling myself that a year is not really that long to wait and will pass quickly enough.  Meanwhile, I snatch a few brief more moments at home with my little siblings, savouring each precious moment and waiting for the Lord to work out His perfect will with regards the future and trusting that He will guide me through every season of life.

March…

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  • Two birthdays – one little boy turned 4 and one little girl turned 8.
  • Another trip to Cardiff – and disappointment when my interview was not successful.
  • My grade 7 piano exam – after a dreadful attack of nerves in the exam, I got a merit.
  • A birthday party for my little sister – which she much enjoyed!
  • New piano pieces, including some Mozart!
  • Babysitting little siblings for a day.
  • Hugs from my little brother.
  • Rain… and even snow! (But not much sunshine…)
  • Work.
  • Happy hours spent in the kitchen.
  • Making cookies for the orchestra in which I play.
  • A rather chaotic house, as we deal with furniture and other things given to us by a relative who was downsizing.
  • Two pianos in our dining room (see above).
  • Uncertainty, yet the knowledge that the Lord will guide.
  • Disappointment coupled with the assurance that the Lord knows what he is doing.
  • Learning faith in God.