Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ms. Helen

So I suppose it's time for an update since its been six months.

I'm not even in Charleston anymore so I guess my title needs to be changed.

But that isn't gonna happen just yet.

It'd take too much effort.

And I'm still a bit in denial that I no longer live in America's number one city.

Really, I'm just back to tell ya a story about my good friend, Ms. Helen!

So I volunteered at Brakebill Nursing Home on and off throughout undergrad and made a few fun friendships there. Several of the residents I'd visit had dementia and wouldn't recognize me each week as anyone more than a friendly face. But Ms. Helen! She was an amazing woman with a memory extraordinaire. Each week, we would gab and swap stories, and she would always ask for updates on anything I had mentioned to her previously. "How did your test go last week?" "How is your friend in Alabama?" "Did you pick up your bridesmaid dress yet?" 85 years old, and so sharp! Shaper than me for sure.. "Did I have a test last week?!" She was such a sweet encouragement to me week after week. When the time came for me to graduate UT and move to Charleston, I was sad to leave my good friend. But we said our goodbyes and I promised to write.

I wrote her one letter that summer. But between gross anatomy and some uncertainty that my letter made its destination, I was unfaithful penpal. I often wondered about Ms. Helen and how she was doing; I hated that I had lost touch.

So after 18 spectacular months in Charleston (minus all that studying riffraff), I returned to Knoxville this January to complete an OT clinical practicum. In the back of my mind as I moved back to Big Orange Country was Ms. Helen. Would she still be there? If so, would she remember me? So I had to wait until my work week ended, because apparently you can't leave in the middle of the work day to go visit your college buddy. Rude, real world, rude. So when Saturday came, I headed to Brakebill to help with their morning social activity, serve lunch, and find Ms. Helen. I spent the first thirty minutes there wheeling residents to the morning activity. I didn't remember where Ms. Helen's room was and still didn't even have any confirmation she was there. But then the activities staff woman I was working with said, "oh! I have to get one last resident: Helen Isabel."

I got chills! I volunteered to go get her and booked my way to her room. It felt like a movie because as I arrived to her door, a nurse opened it wide, and there was Ms. Helen at the door, ready to go. Now Ms. Helen is partially blind, so I knew she wouldn't be able to recognize my face. I said, "Hey Ms. Helen!" And without a moment's hesitation, she said, "Hey! I know who you are.. You're Emily!"

She remembered me. And not only that, she proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions; she was ready for an update!

"How is your brother doing in Colorado?"

"Did your Dad's knee surgery go okay?"

"Did your parents ever decide to move?"

"Is your mom still working as a nurse?"

"How did it work out with your Charleston roommate?"

"Is she still with her Navy boyfriend?"

She remembered so many details about my life. It was just wild! She told me how she had been praying for me and my whole family. She had thought she would never see me again. I am so thankful that God blessed us both with such a sweet reunion.

And ya'll! It gets even better. Ms. Helen is a huge Vols sports fan! Without a doubt, the biggest I know. She can't watch TV so she listens to every game--every football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and baseball game--on her little walkman radio. She stayed up past midnight to listen to UT play Florida last week. She keeps up with all the players, coaches, stats, recruits. She is no joke. And the icing on the cake is she wrote an amazing poem called "Vol Fever." And it is so good, it made it on television! Check out this link to see Ms. Helen and her poem's debut on channel 10!

Ms. Helen and Vol Fever

And stay tuned, because I'm gonna work on overwhelming Butch Jones' twitter to get him to meet Ms. Helen. Brakebill has offered to throw a big tailgate party for him and the residents if he'll come pay a visit! We gotta get this done!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear me...

Dear Sixteen Year Old Me,

[I'm doing this because this fancy writer did it...

And then Rachel did it...

And I currently have 5,000 projects due for school,
So, of course, I'm gonna do it.]

But I'm gonna make this flashy
Because we all know your attention isn't what it could be.
And I'm gonna embarrass you with your silly photos,
Because they're ridiculous and you deserve it.

News Flash #1 - It's okay to be tall!

Sure I know. You are taller than all your friends.
And you are taller than 50% of your guys friends.
Its okay, you're just ahead of the boys in that thing called puberty.
And they will catch up to you.
Well, some of them.
I mean sure, your legs are forever kicking people under the table.
And the leg room in coach airline seats is not meant for you.
But fret not, your height will come in handy at times.
For instance,
Nanas in publix will need you to reach things for them on the top shelf.
And you'll never have to get your bridesmaid dresses hemmed.

Oh, and you know how your big bro teases you about your height.
Well, he ends up falling in love with a fellow tall girl.
Who's laughing now 20 year old Stephen?

My arms were the last thing to stop growing.
News Flash #2 - Your parents aren't crazy!

You are.

Yes, you. Miss I'm a genius and know everything and my parents are fools.
See you actually have this thing call a pre-frontal cortex.
And it actually doesn't fully develop until your twenties.
It is what makes your decisions, conducts your reasoning skills,
And allows you to evaluate consequences.
Basically, your 16 yr old prefrontal cortex is a fool.

So when your parents make you stay home,
And hang with extended fam in town visiting,
And you're just dying to go hang out with a boy,
They're actually making the logical decision.
And you're being dumb,
Because you'll still have that fam seven years later,
But that boy, not so much.
And really, run away from that boy now.
Sure he makes braces look good,
But things are going to get awkward and weird.
So run. Or don't. It will make for a good story.

And when your parents tell you can't take your car to college,
Because you made a D in psych.
You deserve that too because that was dumb.
And sure you'll want to punch them in the face.
But don't. It'll all work out.
You'll meet Ann, and she'll drive you around freshman year.
And even though you got that D, you'll still get AP credit somehow.
And then you'll go on to major in Psych.

Obviously suffering from an underdeveloped brain

News Flash #3 - Be nice to Kelsey! She becomes fam!

Remember last year?
How Kelsey went with you to Lena,
And hung out with your Mississippi fam?
Well, she actually met her future husband there.
Spoiler alert, it's your nerdy cousin, Jay.
But they won't figure all this out until 5 years later.
So wait patiently.
And when you and Kelsey move to opposite ends of the state,
Don't freak out.
Cause eventually ya'll will share last names,
And it will be awesome.

Kelsey met her future hubs that week, while I was probably out winning turtle races.

News Flash #4 - Don't get a spray tan!

Don't get a spray tan for formal.
Its silly.
And you'll look like a carrot.

Warn Kelsey too.

News Flash #5 - Don't freak out about college!

Because you're going to.
You're gonna make a decision,
And then cry and cry about it for a month.
And think your life is over.
And that UT is gonna be the scariest place ever.
But that is silly.
You're gonna go to college
and meet these girls.                                                                       

and these boys.

And you're gonna have so much fun.
College is awesome.
It will be four of the best years of your life.
Maybe the four best ever.
But we'll let 30 yr old Emily report back to us and determine that.

News Flash #6 - Its okay to wear pink!

I know you think wearing pink is gross. 
That only Barbie would wear something so lame.
You also hate dresses, skirts, and painted nails.
You find all forms of jewelry to be icky.
And would die before piercing your ears.
But eventually you're gonna figure out that girly is good.
Because dresses are comfier than jeans.
And manis and pedis are magical.
And it'll take 6 more years, 
But you will get pierced ears.
However, it'll be a year after that before you actually like to wear earrings. 
You're still rather slow on the uptake. 
Somethings don't change.

News Flash #7 - You actually like science!

You think your future is in journalism.
Sorry, its not.
While you love being school newspaper editor,
And producing TV shows for your broadcasting class,
Somewhere in there is a strong affinity for science.
And in college, it'll beat out journalism and communications.
You'll take anatomy, biology, physiology,
And you will be shocked by how much you love them.
So go ahead and take science all four years.
It will fare you well.

But don't worry about math.
That ain't gonna happen. 

News Flash #8 - Do not fear!

You have so many fears.
Fears of failure.
Losing your reputation.
Not being popular.
Not fitting in.
Not being good enough.
Not measuring up.
Being different.
Losing friendships.
Being alone.
Being a disappointment.
Having to leave home.

And you let those fears control you.
And dictate your actions.

But you're gonna learn.
And relearn and relearn.
That you belong to Jesus.
You are his.
And he is yours.
And he will never leave you.
He will never forsake you.
He will be with you wherever you go.
And call you to do things you didn't think possible.
He will give you grace for all your mistakes.
And though you try, you will never be able to outrun him.
Because he loves you more deeply than you can fathom.
And he'll never stop. 

When you freak about college,
Mom will give you this verse.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. - 2 Timothy 1:7-9

Cling to it and the ones after it.
Use it and go love your classmates.

I'm gonna go and do the same.
Seven years later, and you're still in school.

Lets chat again when we're thirty,
But until then, stop listening to emo music, 

23 Year Old Me

There are more of these Dear Me's happening today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feliz Cumpleanos!

Hey ya'll! Its been a while. Again.

I know. I know. I'm a bad blogger. The worst.

Ohhh well. I'm not sorry. School has been crazy town x 12.

And I know you're not sorry either.

Somehow your life has continued even though you haven't been updated on my happenings.

But today is a special day. So here I am!

It's Tax Day! Woohoo. Let's celebrate!

Okay, jk.

Actually not jk.

It really is Tax Day!

But more importantly, it's my momma's birthday!

And she gave birth to me.
And I came into this world so fast,
She didn't have time to get an epidural.
So I figured I should give her a shout out!

Since she was born on the 17th,
Let's look at 17 things that make my momma awesome!

17. She makes chicken spaghetti that calms my soul.

16. She taught me how to make chicken spaghetti so I can calm my own soul.

15. She went back to school when I was a child and got her Master's. Say what?! I'm getting my master's now--without the two children and the husband and home--and I'm barely making it by the skin of my teeth.

14. Do teeth have skin?

14. Just kidding. That has nothing to do with my mom's awesomeness. But this does: She put her nursing career on hold to stay home with me and Stephen so we didn't turn in to hoodlums.

13. She's getting a new puppy.

12. She's naming the puppy after me.

Okay not really. The puppy's name is Ena. But it starts with an E too. soo maybbee.


11. She's 100% Irish. Northern Irish. To be technical. Yes, my mother is a foreigner, born and raised. And thanks to this Irish heritage, she knows how to cook potatoes in a million different, incredible ways.

10. She passed on her potato knowledge to me. At least in mashed form. And now I have another food to make to calm the soul.

9. She has an green thumb. This, however, did not get passed on to me. But she does grow pretty flowers, and I do like to look at them! And I do predict that she will design me pretty flower beds on day when I have my own home!

8. She inspired me to healthcare professional! Granted I won't be a nurse because I refuse to learn pharmacology, but still, our careers are pretty darn similar. And now we can go scrub shopping together!

9. And she tolerates my 37 calls a year in which I try to convince her I'm dying. Many a phone call have started: Mom, I'm dying. No, seriously, I mean it. Sure this bump on my arm looks like a scab, but I'm pretty sure its a death spot. Or I know it sounds like I just pulled a muscle but I'm 67% sure this a femoral hernia. Or sure it might just be heartburn but I got on Webmd and I'm pretty sure I have erosive esophagitis.

8. She also gave birth to my brother. And when I tried to tell her as a child to disown him and kick out , she didn't listen. Not once. Though she did threaten to leave us both a few times and join the navy as nurse. Thanks for not doing that either! Though I'm sure the navy would have appreciated her a lot more than I did sometimes!

7. She went on a zillion of my school field trips. Even all the way to DC. And two years ago, she took me to Chicago. And it was awesome. And we're going back! Yes??

6. She also took me on my very first mission trip. All the way to Ecuador. Even though I was a wee ninth grader. (See, I can say things like "wee" because thanks to my mom, I'm 50% Irish.)

5. She married a keeper!

4. She manages to love and encourage me even though sometimes I'm a crazy, whiny diva.

3. She drove a truck loaded down with more junk than you can imagine through the rain and through the mountains to help me move to Charleston. Then she helped me carry all that junk up two flights of stairs!

2. She's beautiful!!

1. She loves me and prays for me and encourages me all the time!

I am one blessed daughter!

Happy birthday!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Happy BIRFday!

So today is Stephen's birthday.

In case you don't know, he's my favorite brother.

Granted, he is my only brother.

But even if I had another one, he'd probably still be my favorite.

Sorry nonexistent brother.

It's just that Stephen is kind of a trump card when it comes to brothers.

I mean. I can't lie. When we were younger,  sometimes I did actually try to destroy him.

He could just give me a look, and I'd burst into tears.

He also had this ridiculous way of yodeling my name.

And when he did, my heart would explode with anger.

I'm not kidding.

But somehow we made it through childhood.

And now he's one of my favoritest people.

He makes me laugh. and encourages me.

He can be weird and awkward. Like me but with better social skills.

And he always manages to love me even when I freak out like a crazy person.

--> Like I did when he told me to come work at camp with him. He told me over the phone that I needed to come--like the next day, and then I cried for the next 12 hours. Camp? Me work at camp? The last time I went to a camp was in the fourth grade. And I got homesick and had to come home early. But I went. Cause he told me too. And ended up spending the next three best summers of my life there. Thanks to Stephen.

--> And like I did here.

--> And like I did when we went out to CO this December, and he took me skiing. We had great fun on all the bunny slopes, but then he took me down a 3.5 mile run from the top of the mountain. I hadn't eaten in 5 hours, I'm outrageously outta shape, and I wasn't prepared for the dang 10,000 ft altitude (I live at sea level, people). Anyways, ya'll! I whined and complained the whole way down that mountain. I turned a 20 min. ski run into two hours. Again, not kidding. In my defense, I was cramped, starved, and feelin quite pukey. But for the 5 million times I told Stephen I couldn't make it, he always told me I could and never once told me I was a weinie.

And again in my defense, once we did make it down the mountain, I went right home and actually puked cause I really was that exhausted. I had like a 8 year puke-free streak going, and then it was ruined. But it was worth it to learn that even when I'm being a diva/dying on a mountain, my brother will be there with an endless reservoir of patience and encouragement.

So yeah, that's my brother. He's my fave.

And here's some of my favorite photos of us for you viewing pleasure.

Juggling together in Ecuador.

He came to see me off at prom.

Awkward beach picture.

With our cousin Sampson.

With our other cuzes.

Awkward Thanksgiving photo.

Christmas dinner.

In CO at his park this August.

CO this December.

Happy at the top of mountain. 

And then that night I puked.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEPHEN! I'm proud of you, I love you, and I miss you so much!

**Author's note: I know some of my classmates will read this because we're all looking for any and every excuse not to study pathophysiology. And you've probably noticed that my brother is ridiculously good-looking. And now you know that he is also kind and wonderful. And so I just wanted to go ahead and say, yes, he has a girlfriend! Sorry, ladies...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


So I haven't blogged in ages. I know, I'm lame.

I'm gonna try to be better. But I've said that before.


But I do want to try and blog more about Jesus and what he's been teaching.
It's been SO GOOD.

I'll also try to blog more stories about life. Because usually they're weird.
And it's very cathartic for me to get my weirdness out as much as possible.
And I feel like its good for all you normal people too.
For you to know its okay to be weird.
There's freedom in the weird. in the nerdy. in the awkward.

BUT back to Jesus!
Oh man, He has me in such a sweet and simple state.
And I'm loving it.

I'll start with this quote that came from the daily devo Jesus Calling. It's a great little nugget/supplement to add to some daily Bible reading. But this one day, it was SO what I needed to hear.

"As you anticipate what is ahead of you, you forget that I am with you--now and always. Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way! Instead, come to Me, and relax in My Peace. I will strengthen you and prepare you for this day, transforming your fear into confident trust."

I'm typically pretty good at putting up a front of being a happy-go-lucky person. Whenever I take those animal personality tests, I'm always the golden retriever. Not really cut out to be the intense lion or a type-a beaver. And I am that personality, not easily worked up, stressed or angered.

But I still, for years, have allowed anxieties and fears to creep into my life in an everyday manner. Fears about school, loans, singleness, looks, reputation, career, etc. And like the quote said, I take situations in my head and play them out in every scenario possible thinking what is gonna go wrong. Things that might not be happening for weeks, months, years. And I worry about them now. And allow that fear to paralyze me and dictate my actions. Dumb.

But thank goodness for Jesus. He has been teaching me that life is no where near as complicated as I have made it. That I need to be simply resting in his goodness, faithfulness, sweetness, his security and plan each day. Because worrying does nothing but increase those anxieties, fears, and doubts.

So that's where I've been. Spending time with Jesus every day, resting in his splendid and unchanging security, and when my fears come a-calling, I repeat a verse to myself  or remind myself of Jesus's supremacy. And then those fears don't stand a chance! And I love it! And love Jesus all the more!! Ah, its a good spot to be in. And I know life won't always be this sweet, but even when life crumbles, Jesus is still at the foundation, and he can't be shaken! And I am so excited and thankful to be his!

And since no blog should be without some kind of picture, here's a few photos of what I've been doing in the kitchen..

Sausage, cheese, rice stuffed portobellos. 
Thought I was ready for mushrooms. 
No, they're still gross as when I was ten.
Stuffing was tasty though.

Homemade wheat bread.


For breakfast.
Oh the humanity.