Monday, July 24, 2017

God is Speaking

Lately a lot of things in my life have been pointing to God and His plan for me. And I'm really excited about it.

I got a new job at a medical clinic (not my usual realm of science, but it helps pay the bills) as a drug screening lab technician. It pays well, but it's only once a week. I'm incredibly thankful that this job came my way. We could use the extra money and so far the people are really nice! It's actually a job where I feel included and a huge part of the process. I'm the only one trained on the sequencing instrument I'm using, so that's a lot of pressure; but I think once I get the hang of things, it will be perfect. God knew I had been asking and asking (and asking and asking) for a job. Not just THE job. But A job. He answered my prayer. He knows exactly what I need.

During the process of this transition, which included training and so on, I had to buy the uniform I would wear for this position at the clinic. I had to go buy scrubs. My first set of scrubs ever!

I went to the store close to our apartment and walked in, completely confused and bewildered at how many different kinds of scrubs there are (and how much they cost), and the lady who worked there came up to me. She could tell I definitely needed some direction. "Can I help you with something?" she asked. I was trying to look like I knew what I was doing. "Uhm, yes. I need...I need to buy some scrubs," I said. I immediately internally facepalmed. Seriously, Claire? Of course you need to buy some scrubs. You're in a store that only sells scrubs! Ugh. I'm so awkward.

She then went on to ask me what my price point was, and I tried to casually say whatever the cheapest was. Another awkward moment. (I'm the queen of awkwardness, thank you.) She told me I was in the most expensive part of the store! Oops.

Anyways, I got a pair of pants and a couple shirts to alternate every other week and left very happy. Scrubs are so comfortable! It's like wearing pajamas to work. Now that's something I can get behind.

I tried them on later that night and showed them to my husband. He then looked at the tags and kind of freaked out. He never does that so I asked him what was wrong. "These scrubs were made in Kenya." 😱  Wait...whoa. The job I had been praying for had finally come (answer to prayer) only after I accepted God's call to go to Kenya this fall (heard through prayer) and then I go to buy scrubs and they're made in Kenya! This is so crazy. It's like the past 3 months have all been woven together in this one random incident and it sort of makes sense now. God's speaking to me through all of this, and you better believe that I'm listening.

Updates to come.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Recent Struggles: Why is this happening to me?

The past few weeks since I've decided to respond to God's call to Africa have been somewhat odd. Like, really odd. Things have been happening to me that aren't very fun, and I don't want to be weird but I think it's all related. Let me tell you about it.

So the city where we are going (Nairobi) is almost 6,000 ft. in elevation. 😲  Yeah, it's pretty high up there. For a reference, Wilmington has an elevation of around 30 feet. THIRTY. Compared to 6,000!!! I was just as shocked as you. And I wanted to prepare myself for that. The air will be thinner and I'll be chasing kids around at VBS. For sure I will get out of breath much more easily over there. So I decided to get back into jogging. I wanted a slow start, just jogging a little bit in the park a few times a week. Nothing crazy.

I kid you not, the first week into this new routine I jacked up my knee. I have no idea what I did to it, but it hurts. A lot. It doesn't make sense since I was barely jogging at all. I wasn't pushing myself that much, honestly. It was so weird because I had jogged in the park, went home to clean up, and then go out for a couple of errands, and I didn't feel any pain until I was running errands later that day. The next day it was really out of whack, and has been ever since.

It's hard to explain, but it feels like a muscle cramp in the back of my knee and it won't stop cramping. It'll hurt much more when I move my knee too fast or when I twist my knee trying to get out of a car or move in a different direction suddenly. Maybe it's a muscle tear. Or a knee sprain. Or something with my nerves around my knee. I'm unsure, but I'm going to the doctor today to see what happened (which will cost money). Hopefully I'll get it back to normal soon. In the meantime I can't prepare my body for that 6,000 ft. elevation and it makes me nervous. Why has this happened?

Story number 2: so I dog-sit on the side just for extra money every now and then, and about a week after God had called me to Africa I had a gig. I was excited because I was going to start saving up all of this dog-sitting money just for the Africa trip. Reminder: I'm poor. Haha

So, this dog-sitting gig was an overnight stay and it was at this nice apartment complex. I had pretty much parked wherever I had wanted to park in the past (this was a return customer), and never gotten into any issues. The morning after I spent the night over there I was taking the dogs out for a walk and noticed that my car was gone. Literally, GONE. I had no idea where it was. Well, apparently a tow truck had taken it across town since I was parked in a spot I wasn't supposed to park in. Yeah, I didn't have a very good weekend because of that. As if that weren't enough, I had to pay $100 to get my car back from the towing company, which was more than I was making that weekend for my dog-sitting gig. Essentially, I was losing money instead of making it. This had never happened before until now. Why has this happened?

Honestly, one could say that I just have bad luck or that these things aren't connected. But I think it's so weird that these bad things (that cost money) are happening to me only after I decided to dedicate those things to Africa. I've been a runner in the past and never gotten an injury like this one. Why now? I've dog-sit for this customer in the past and never gotten my car towed. Why now? I truly think that this is Satan's way of trying to deter me from going on this trip. Or at least he's trying to make it harder for me to go.

Pray for my knee and that it would heal soon so I can get back to jogging to prepare myself for Africa. Pray that God would protect me from these unfortunate events. Pray that I would have endurance to go through them and come out stronger than before. Updates to come.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I'm Back! (Life Updates)

Surprise! I'm back! 😱 And a lot has happened since my last post! Just to fill you in:

1. I got engaged to the love of my life.
2. I moved to North Carolina to go to grad school for marine biology.
3. I got married to the love of my life.
4. I graduated from grad school in North Carolina.

That's pretty much the big updates. I can't believe I just summed up the craziest 2 years of my life in 4 sentences. Wow. Anyways, it's been a while. Obviously I've been a little busy with life happening, if you can't tell. Still, I think about this blog a lot and I want to keep it as much up to date as I can because it's sort of therapeutic to me. Call me a weirdo.

Next on the agenda of, well, my life: get a job. Duh.

So...about that...ok guys, it's been harder than you think. I promise I'm not lazy! The city I live in (Wilmington) is absolutely the WORST place to find a job. Especially for someone who just graduated with a Master's in Marine Biology, apparently. I've had the worst luck trying to nail something down lately, and it's sort of depressing. I feel like if I were a lot weaker of a person, I probably would have just moved back home by now. Honestly. But I really don't see that as an option. It's not what God wants for me. I just know it. I feel like things will work out here in Wilmington. I just don't have any idea how or when that will happen. I just have to keep trusting that God will provide like He always has.

Funny story: I kind of had an epiphany the other day. This was about 2 weeks ago. And I am going to go ahead and apologize in advance because this is one of those stories that requires a lot of background information. But in the end it's a great story, if you have the patience to listen to all of it. Here goes.

I've been a member at a Southern Baptist church in Wilmington with my husband for about 6 months now. I had visited the church (not as a member) for about a year before we became members, so I've gotten to know a lot of the people there and we've made some great relationships.

The church has mission trips every year for anyone who wants to participate, and those include both domestic and international trips. Since I am a poor, right-out-of-college, newly married 20-something, I obviously wasn't considering going on any of these trips due to financial issues mainly. Also, when I was a grad student there was no such thing as taking time off.

Anyways, these past few months multiple members have told me about this mission trip to Africa that would take place in November 2017. It would be over Thanksgiving and we would put on a vacation bible school (VBS) for some missionaries' children during that trip. It sounded cool, but I was not interested...because of the previously stated reasons (essentially I'm poor haha). The option of going on this trip was not even an ounce of a thought to me. I had already made up my mind that I wasn't going. Period. Maybe next year, blah blah blah. Maybe once I get an actual job that pays me good money, blah blah blah. Maybe when we get a house, blah blah blah. The list went on in my head.

Here's the catch: I had never prayed about it. I never asked God about it. Never. Not once. Like I said, I had automatically made up my mind that this wasn't for me and I wanted to have nothing to do with it. Finally one day during a devotional, reading through Isaiah 5, I decided to get up the nerve to ask. "I mean, what's the harm in asking?" I thought. "It's not like God will all of a sudden call me to Africa during this weird time in my life." And then I thought, "Oh crap, what if He does?? Oh no. I don't want to ask. I bet that's what will happen."

Guys. That's what happened. I was driving to work, praying to God, simultaneously thinking those thoughts in my head (like He couldn't hear what I was saying haha), and listening to what God had to say. Mind you, I had been praying and praying and praying for an answer relating to my job crisis for months at this point. Months and months. And I had heard nothing. Of course, right when I ask the question in my prayers, "Should I go to Africa?" - it's like the heavens opened up and God was screaming at me, "YES, YES, YES, finally she asked me! YES, you're going to Africa! I've been waiting for you to ask me for so long!"

Yes. The answer was yes. So guess what, guys? I'm going to Africa. I had been waiting for so long to hear from God like I heard from Him that day. I was just afraid to ask the right question. Why on earth would He want to send me to Africa? Why, during this insane and unstable time in my life, would He tell me that I should go across the world? I can't answer that. What I do know is that the next day I read Isaiah 6, and understood what He had been wanting me to say:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking:
Who should I send?
Who will go for Us?

I said:
Here I am. Send me.

-Isaiah 6:8

Pray for me and the rest of the team that will go to Africa in November 2017. Pray that finances would work out to where all of us that have been called to go will be able to pay the amount to go. Pray for our safety. And of course, pray for those in Africa who God is already working on ahead of us. Updates to come.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fishing Trip for the Win

Today I was randomly invited to help catch flounder on a fishing trip. And why would I refuse? I mean, come on. 

So today was definitely full of adventure. We met the charter around noon today and stayed out on the water until around 5. And I forgot my sunscreen...yeah I got burned. 

The boat was so relaxing. And guess what?! I didn't get seasick! Woohoo! I'm just winning this summer. 

My first catch was a Redfish! I was pumped. 

My other catch, say whaaat! Yeah it was my first stingray that I caught all by myself. It made. My. Day. All of those hours out on the boat were worth that catch. I was so happy. My face is "I can't handle, please take this picture so I can let this poor guy go but I'm so happy ahhhh"

He survived by the way. No harm was done to this guy. 

We caught a few other fish, including some drum, catfish, and sheepshead, but we didn't catch what we were out there for: Southern Flounder. Sadness. Hopefully soon we will get some. 

Tomorrow is boat day for the crab project since Tuesday was gloomy and stupid. Out on the boat two days in a row this week! Yes!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Getting Crabby

I told you guys I would eventually get some boat pictures, or just crab pictures in general. I have succeeded! 

This morning we went to collect whatever was trapped in our crab and flounder traps. It didn't take too long to go through them all, but it was DURTY. Yes, dirty with a "u" because it was that bad. My beautiful white fishing shirt was ruined with Mississippi mud. I smelled don't even know how to describe it actually. Just putrid. Like rotting poop. Sorry for the graphic language but it's accurate, let's be real.

That's me on the boat! And my beautiful male crab that I caught. He's trying to pinch the fire out of me, but I'm holding his claws. That's really the only way I've figured out to hold them without being in danger of a painful experience. 

That's my "New shirt and it's already ruined with disgustingness" selfie. I had to take a shower immediately afterward. I couldn't stand smelling myself. 

After my shower and some lunch, I worked up the 12 crabs we had caught. They had been pretty feisty, especially the males, so we put them on ice for about an hour. It calmed them down. (They all survived this little journey so don't worry. I released them all after I worked them up and took my measurements. This is not a lethal experiment.)

I weighed them, measured their width, and determined sex. That was really all I needed. 

This was the biggest male we caught. He was humongous. Such big claws. His claws were almost as big as his body. He was pretty much jacked. I wouldn't have been handling him like this if he hadn't been on ice. He was calmer in this picture. Otherwise he would have reached around and pinched the crap out of me. 

Overall a really tiring day. Full of adventure and crustaceans. And mud. Let's not forget to mention the mud. But I loved it all. And I can't wait for the next boat day. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

First Boat Day!

Hallelujah, Jesus, we went out on the boat today! 

The weather this week has been so crappy, raining every few hours and cloudy almost all week. But today was a little bit better. It only sprinkled a little bit this morning. The wind wasn't horrible, either. So it was boat time!!

The little 17 foot whaler was a tiny thing but it did the job. We actually fit 3 people on there along with our gear, traps, and safety equipment. The fit was tight, but it worked. No complaints. 

I was used to the big boat last summer for the shark biology class, with a whole crew doing most of the dirty work for us. This time around is a lot different. Because there are so few of us in the lab, everyone has to pull their weight. We all need to learn how to steer the boat, hitch it on the trailer, take it out of the water, prepare beforehand, clean up after. The dirty work is cumbersome and it zaps your energy. I fell into my bed this afternoon and conked out for a while. That's just what boat days will do to you. 

We set out all the crab and flounder traps, launching them in three different locations in the Mississippi Sound. We will go out again on Tuesday to see what we caught! This trapping project will most likely be a twice a week thing. 

I'm so sorry I don't have any pictures...I'm a horrible blogger. I was so much better last year. BUT! I post a lot on Instagram (@clairerobinson0316) and Snapchat (cerobinson316)! So if you aren't already following me or whatever they call it, be sure to look me up. Snapchat is so much easier to post on, don't judge me. 

I promise boat pictures! I have at least a dozen more boat rides ahead of me, so you'll see something eventually. 

Btw, no sea sickness for this girl today! I took my medicine, wore my sea sickness bracelets (actually advertised as bracelets for pregnant women going through morning sickness, but they work anyways), and drank lots of water. The boat ride is only about ten minutes, we do a few science things like set traps and take data, and then go back to shore. Nothing like an all day boat ride. I'm loving it. 

We'll see how next week goes!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's so rainy. And gloomy. And cloudy. And blah. 

Today we were supposed to go out on the boat and set traps. Sadly, the monstrous weather kept us from doing so. So today was just another day in the lab. Reading literature and stuff. 

This morning, though, I helped a technician work up some menhaden! They smelled super fishy and gross, but it was better than sitting around. 

It looks delicious, I know. If only you were there to smell it. Get immersed in it. I was telling someone earlier that the only way to describe the smell was "penetrating my soul." Accurate statement right there. 

The menhaden project is for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I weighed them, measured their length, and took scales from them to be observed and analyzed later. I believe that NOAA is using the scales for aging. 

Hopefully the weather will get better this week! I think we will try to set the traps out on Friday.