Happy New Year, loves! (It’s still early enough in the year to say that, right? I know…*side eyes myself*).
I think this three week period is the longest I’ve gone without posting since I started the Girl with Black Pearls. It has not been without good reason though; these past few weeks have been a wonderful personal journey for me full of love, laughs, packing, moving, and transition. And it is only the third week of the year.
I started 2015 at church. This can be said about most of my NYEs; however this year, my father opted to do a Gospel Cafe instead of the traditional Watch Night Service to ring in the new year. I personally thought it was a blast and I am really loving how my father is becoming more comfortable with stepping out of the box lately. Just thought I’d brag on the old man for a second, especially since the older I get, the more I realize how much like him I am. That’s not a bad thing but I think it’s wonderful that he and I, who can be very comfortable with things remaining the same, are going through our own personal processes that are growing us in some phenomenal ways. Kudos to us!
To be honest, I spent New Year’s Day enjoying the ability to do absolutely nothing once I got home. But after church, I was able to go hang with my first friend ever and to love on her adorable dog. Anyone who knows me knows that I love dogs so this made my soul completely come out of its hiding place. I would soon find out, however, my little friend wouldn’t be the only one who would have the incredible ability to make me smile from my soul *tosses glitter*.
On January 12, I was blessed to be able to begin my practicum at one of the biggest hospitals in the state of Georgia. On Friday, January 10, me, my Mom, and my Dad packed my Dad’s car (thanks, Dad!) and drove down to Atlanta in order to prepare me for my time in Macon. I chose not to share the details of what was coming up for me because I understand that some people would misconstrue my acceptance of this opportunity in Macon to be something that it’s not. When I did share with people about my upcoming move, more times than not I heard “Hmmm…doesn’t ‘so-and-so’ live in Atlanta?” Yes, so-and-so lives in Atlanta and no, so-and-so had no bearing whatsoever on my acceptance of a position that will benefit me in innumerable ways. If a great position like this became available in Maryland…well, I’d still be in Maryland. But it is in Georgia, Macon to be exact, and I am OK with that. My life does not revolve around anyone else and I have no desire to resurrect dead situations; those days are over. That’s so 2013.
So yes, I am in a new place and space. A practicum is a requirement for graduation and it is one of the only remaining classes in my program that is currently keeping me from being Ashley Burton, B.S., M.A. This practicum experience is such a blessing for several reasons. It exposes me with a way to utilize my degree of which I had not previously thought. My clinical supervisor has such a great wealth of knowledge and we have similar educational interests so I am able to really glean much knowledge from him (and he’s open to that). I am exposed to a new place and new people, which is something that, despite my shy nature, I have never been afraid of.
Lastly, it gives me a chance to regroup. I have lived away from home enough times (PSU, France, Dallas) to know that every now and then God allows an opportunity for me to step away from the familiar in order to phase out the noise and to refocus on my purpose. If such opportunities never arose, I would stay comfortable and would never accomplish anything with the weight of my destiny and God’s glory heavily attached to it. In my experience, it has been these times away which have produced spiritual and personal renaissances for me and I am excited to see what the next sixteen weeks have in store for me.
It was not easy for me to leave home this time. I had finally gotten into a nice rhythm with my parents and was actually enjoying my living arrangement at home for the first time in my adult life. I enjoyed hanging with LE GIRLS (Hey y’all!) and had come to consider many of my former colleagues as family (Hey Hybla!). I was starting to reconnect with some of my extended family (Hey Ebrons/Kings/Kenfoke!) and I was enjoying watching my niece grow and become cuter and sassier (like her auntie…duh!). I even have had the pleasure of meeting a guy who has produced the most girly giggles that I’ve had (again…*tosses glitter*). Overall, things were really starting to cement in a way that I didn’t have a desire or a need to go elsewhere.
But sometimes when opportunities present themselves, you cannot make decisions out of your comfort. You make these decisions out of where you know you’re called; you pick what you know will grow you the most.
I am open to however God opens doors. If He designs it so that I remain in Macon, so be it. If I am headed back to Maryland in May, that would make me happy too. But I refuse to start this year by limiting myself and by limiting my great God to only what I am capable of doing on my own. He’s bigger and He has bigger in store. It is in that faith that I have come down to Macon to work in a hospital in a position which I have no experience and had previously had no desire to pursue. It is in that faith that I am entrusting my loved ones, my career, my education, and the direction of my life and love life into the hands of a loving God.
This will be a testy sixteen weeks, make no mistakes about it. There’s so much for me to learn and the environment in which I will be working will challenging and my responsibilities will stretch me in ways that I have not experienced. I will be working overnight shifts several days a week and will likely remain tired because I am still taking other classes this semester. I will need to be more in tune with God than ever before in order to get everything I’m supposed to get out of this experience (professionally, educationally, personally). I will need to learn self-care and I utilize it appropriately. But I will also have time to connect with former classmates and my cousin who lives in Atlanta with her husband and two precious (and active!) little girls. It will be a mixed bag…but a mixed bag of varying degrees of good. No experience will be wasted. I need your prayers. But…I am ready.
I can’t wait to share it with you!