I had dreamed of becoming a nurse since I was a young girl and, having finally found the opportunity, I just could not let this slip from my grasp. Thinking back to my youth, I had taken a personal vow in my heart, that someday I would go to nursing school. In many ways, this was a concerted effort to avoid a struggle similar to my Mothers: following my parent's divorce she was worked hard as both a waitress and mother raising a family.
I remember clearly the day I was pushed to exchange my burning desire to be a nurse for Motherhood. I was just a child myself, nineteen years old, living alone in Michigan. As fate would have it, I was working hard as a waitress and within days of calling for information about a nursing school, I discovered I was to become a Mother myself. As my life took a sudden change, of course, I planned to put nursing school on hold, but return to my dream at a later date.
Staying true to my own promise, two years later, I decided that it was time to go to nursing school. I was working as a unit clerk at UT Hospital and loved it! However, staying at the desk was a real challenge for me, I longed to be in the rooms taking care of the patients. After some persuasion from the nurses I worked with, I realized I would not be content until I became a Nurse myself. UT offered an excellent nursing program and I pledged that as soon as I could enroll, I would begin my training. I was so excited; my life's dream was finally beginning to materialize!
Surprise, surprise, "Judy your test came back positive, you will need to follow up with your Obstetrician, I think you must be about five or six weeks," said the friendly nurse at the Health Department.
I was thrilled... I loved being the mother to my precious two-year-old son and now I was to be blessed with another bundle of joy. As I accepted my second pregnancy, I began to hope I would have a girl this time, I decided again that nursing school could be put on hold.
Sure enough, two years after the birth of my second child, I inquired at St. Mary's hospital about their nursing program. I knew it would be more difficult to go to school now: having a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter would limit the amount of time I could study. Yet, I was determined to embrace that uncertainty. As a new Christian, the refreshing ideas and concepts the Bible was teaching, energized me. Psalms 37:4 became a favorite, "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." I often found myself reminding God that my heart's desire was to go to nursing school.
...not as soon as I had anticipated though! St. Mary's Hospital Nursing Program would also be deferred for a while. Yes, you've guessed it, yet another positive pregnancy test! I was elated, I loved being a mommy and having three children would be perfect... I could always go to nursing school later.
A few major changes took place in my life; one was the move to Florida. Leaving my family back in Tennessee was a tremendous heartache. Yet I found peace in believing I was following God's Will. My favorite verse, Psalms 37:4, became my solid anchor for many things and as my life revolved around me, I continued to pray that someday I could go to nursing school. As a matter of fact, several times a day, I found myself dreaming about wonderful plans of how God could put me in nursing school. I had to be careful; often I thought I needed to plan things out for God and then clue him in on what he was supposed to do.
Raising a family was much more of an undertaking than I thought. Instilling Biblical values into my children's lives was a full-time job, with no days off. I wanted my children to attend a Christian School, so teaching kindergarten was my solution. The pay was not desirable, yet it allowed free tuition so that was my plan, at least until I could get into nursing school. I just knew I would be accepted in Polk Community RN program after I had taken a few pre-requisite classes. I was determined and I knew I could do it.
One more reminder to God that it was he that said; 'if I delight myself in him, he would give me my hearts desires'. So I designed a plan that would allow me to start the fall quarter of nursing school.
After what I thought was the flu turned into morning sickness and the red line stood out brighter than a traffic light, I once again put Nursing school on hold. I completed my family and had my fourth child, two girls, and two boys. Who could ask for more? I decided God must want me to be a teacher because he had given me four children, a good start on my own class. So for the next fourteen years, if I were not teaching my own children, God used me to teach kindergarten in a Christian School. My cup was full and overflowing with his goodness.
"Ring, ring", there goes that phone again... I knew it would be for Janna, it always was. My baby, now fourteen was a popular young lady. As I raced to answer the phone I glanced at the clock. It's only 9 am; her friends would be in school or still sleeping just like she was. Janna indulged in sleeping late as she was doing homeschool. I reached for the phone, out of breath, and said, "Hello."
"Judy please," said the voice at the other end.
"Yes, this is she," I said, praying it was not a bill collector. They were calling regularly now that my husband had left and the bills were not getting paid on time.
"Judy this is Travis Technical School calling about your application for Nursing School. Judy, we will need your balance paid by 3 p.m. today or we will have to give your place to another student. Can you get your payment in today?"
My heart sank, I knew the day was drawing near, but I had not realized it was here. I shuttered, my body went limp and somehow I mustered a few words, "OK I will be in by 3 p.m. today, please don't give my place away."
I hung up the phone and felt my world spinning around me. My dream of becoming a nurse was so close, yet, now it was so far away. They might as well be asking me for one hundred thousand dollars to finish my application. Because getting fifteen hundred dollars would not be any easier.
Simply I did what had become natural to me, I cried and cried and cried. After I cried my eyes dry, I did the next natural thing, I prayed.
"Janna, please come in here and pray with me," I said as I shook to wake her.
"Why what's wrong," she grumbled.
My weak voice and red eyes must have frightened her because she sat right up. Her face was full fright.
"I need you to pray with me about my school bill. They called today and said I have to have it paid today or they will give my spot to another student."
I really needed someone to talk to and all I had at that time was my fourteen-year-old daughter. I hated to weigh her down with more problems, she had been through enough already, but I really needed someone to be with me. My two oldest children were away at college and my third child was in High School. Janna sleepily got out of bed and agreeably knelt beside the bed with me. We prayed that God would show me what to do.
I went down on my knees with a heavy heart, thinking there is no way I will just have to let this slip past me. My dream of going to nursing school was slipping away before me. I did not have any money and had no way of getting any money. There is no one I can go to now. I felt it would do no good to pray now, but thought maybe God would at least lighten the heaviness in my heart if I did pray. I poured my heart out once again to my Lord and asked Him to help me and direct my paths as he had promised in Proverbs 3:5 & 6.
I knew where it came from; I knew the supernatural strength I felt came from God. I knew that he had heard my prayer and was about to do something. But I had no idea how or what.
Once Janna and I had prayed I had felt the faith of Noah when God told him it was going to rain. I knew God was going to work on my behalf.
What happened next I do not recommend unless you are fully lead by God. In my heart, I knew I was to go to the school and finish the process of my registration. I did not know how I was going to pay for it, but I was going under what I felt to be God's guidance. I took a check with me just in case God wanted me to write a bad check and He would bring the money in later. But I knew I could not lose my place in class. It would be another year before they offered another class. Tuition was fifteen hundred dollars and I did not have fifteen cents in my purse or in my bank account.
It was 2:50 pm when I walked into Travis Technical School and proclaimed I was there to finish my paperwork for nursing school. I had stalled all day thinking God was going to send the money from Heaven. The money had not come yet, but I still felt like I was to go anyway. I had no idea what God had planned. I finished the paperwork and pulled out my checkbook to write that "bad check". I said one more pray, "Please God bring the money in to cover this check I am about to write. I know there is no money to cover it and I will go to jail if you do not work on my behalf."
I slowly laid the checkbook on the counter and pretended not to be able to find the pen I had been using. This gave me more time to stall and pray, "God please help me!"
The secretary had taken my paperwork and had started looking over it while she waited for the check. Then she said something I will never forget in my life. "Judith, are you a single mother?"
For a second I started to say no, I had been married twenty-two years. I never thought of myself being single now. But then it hit me; yes I was a single mother. With a look of shock and surprise I looked her right in the eyes and said, "Yea, I guess I am now, but this is the first time I have ever thought about being a single mom, why?"
The secretary had no idea what I was going through or that I was about to pay my school bill with a "bad check." Or did she? By the look on her face, I knew she was up to something. Did she know something?
"Well Judith," she said, as she read my name again from my application, "We have an entirely different program set aside for single Mothers. We have a program that pays the tuition for single mothers, not only will it pay your tuition but it will pay for your books and uniforms.
"Well hallelujah," I burst out! "How can I get that? My God is real and He does care!" I laughed. I cried tears of joy and happiness as I quickly filled out the paperwork for the single mother program. The entire office staff rejoiced with me as I gave them partial information on what was going on in my life.
By the time I left the school that day, I was well on my way to having my tuition paid, including books, and uniforms. They were even going to give me two dollars a day for gas. I was on cloud nine and anyone who came in contact with me knew so. I was so excited as I was leaving their offices I saw a little girl sitting in a chair, apparently waiting for her Mother. I went up to her and told her, "Honey I want to tell you God is so good! Don't ever give up on your dreams and trust God for everything! The Bible tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord and he will give us our hearts desires."
I am sure the little girl thought I was nuts, but I heard her Mother come up behind me saying, "Praise the Lord, yes, Praise the Lord!"
Well, you might know the end of this story! There was another positive pregnancy test. Yet another, but not me this time. I learned days later I was going to be a grandmother.
How good God is! He is faithful to his word and Psalms 37:4 says he gives us our hearts desire if we delight in him. One year later I stood proudly on stage and accepted my Nursing certificate. I was not sure what I was most proud of, getting my nursing certificate or seeing my lovely daughter receiving hers. God not only blessed me by allowing me to go to nursing school but he also allowed my twenty-one-year-old daughter to attend with me. Does it get any better?
Well yes, matter of a fact it does. It has been five years since Lori and I completed nursing school. I think it is rather fascinating that now I not only enjoy a career in nursing, but I am proud to share this same story with all the nurse assistant students that I have the privilege to train. So actually I am back in the classroom again.
Just three months ago a friend and I decided we would go back for our RN degree. I ordered the material from a correspondence course and asked for brochures from two local colleges. I am delighted to be back in school again, but more so, I am delighted that Lori is now expecting my second grandchild. Yes, I know this seems a bit coincidental but it is a true story.
I love to share my story to encourage others to NOT GIVE UP on their dreams. With such a shortage of nursing staff nowadays I would particularly like to encourage anyone who has the dream of becoming a nurse to pursue their dreams.
"Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4
Update: I did not complete my RN program as stated above. My mother became terminally ill and I choose to care for her and wait another day to complete my RN training. I already knew God was going to help me so what was another year or two.
However, what is it about me going to nursing school and babies being born in my family. Just two years ago I signed an agreement with a local school to finish my RN program, only months later I found I was having my third grandbaby.
With only a few classes left to take I will only trust and wait on GOD to allow me to finish this program this time.
The program I choose that fit my needs to be at home and work was Distance Learning Systems. I go to class one night a week and then test at a local center. I have three tests left to take, and I am excited!
This program worked perfectly for me as I could continue to work and carry on all my motherly and grandmotherly duties.