Monday, December 24, 2012

He is Christmas

Time flies by faster than seems possible, most days. The world spins at an alarming rate, begging us to keep up with its whirling ways. Calling to us to play games of popularity and prosperity, pulling and crawling our way to the top... Of what?

In the midst of the crowds, the noise, the shove, there is a quest for more. There is a silent calling to our hearts. The call of a Child who was born into a crowded and busy town during an uproar, it's softness piercing the chaos. The call of a Lover that only we can hear, speaking to us strongly when we are weak. The call of a Man who endured the trials we face now, loving when we are surrounded in brokenness.

Here. Today. The call of our Savior. Born in perfect grace, in imperfect circumstances, to the least perfect people. People like me.

There is healing in His voice. Strength in His grace. Hope in His call. And eternity in His Love. He is the gift we so swiftly forget each day. The gift that is here for our taking every day. And the gift that will last until the days are no more.

He is Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What is a Lady?

What is a young lady to do? In this society, era, generation, and world.. We receive such mixed messages about what we are to do, how to act, what to wear, what to think, and how to live our lives..
In one corner we have the Christian standpoint of waiting patiently and quietly for Mr. Right to come sweep us off of our feet. He will come dashingly, daringly, and do everything in a way that rivals Mr. Darcy. In the opposing corner we have the World standpoint of throwing yourself out there and jumping around like a ping pong ball, dating and dumping as you "try out" personalities and guys.

Extremes? Possibly. Common? Yes.

What is a single young lady to do? Does she stow herself away at home, holding her breath as she waits for a dashing young man to come knocking on her door? Does she throw herself into a throng of men to "meet" as many as possible in a small amount of time? How does she interact with the men she meets? How does she treat them? What in the world, does it mean anymore to "be a lady"?

I believe and am learning that there is a fine line. A line that includes caution, being a woman of integrity and meaning what you say, living what you mean, and saying what you believe.

Mean what you say: Simply, the words that come from your mouth show what is in your heart. The things you say and the words you speak show the world what is on the inside. If you gossip or stretch the truth for the sake of attention, that is demonstrative of what is inside your heart. 
Also, when you compliment a young man, mean it. They can tell when you are serious, but they often can not tell when you are complementing them in a back-handed or sarcastic manner. Be honest. Let them know they looked handsome at the Christmas Eve service, or that they did a really good job with their presentation at school. Be open enough to show you soft side, otherwise they may think you don't know how to compliment anyone!

Live what you mean: If you mean the things you say, live like it. Live like the young men in your life are valuable. Act accordingly and let them step up and be men! They need to practice being men as much as we need to practice being ladies! Let them open the door for you, carry things for you, wipe your car off when it's covered in snow, and walk you to your car.... Whether you need it or not. That's the kicker. We may not need their help, we may be completely capable of carrying something or opening a door, but it allows them to practice being men. And really? It's rather nice to feel valued and appreciated. 

Believing what you say: Believe that the young men around you are valuable, and that we are to encourage them to pursue the Lord. And say it; don't belittle them or tease them! They have hearts, and they have emotions, too, believe it or not.. Have you ever stepped back and observed a young man after he is on the receiving end of a sharp blow from a "lady"? Whether she meant it or not? You can see the flame die a little in their eyes. It hurts them. 
Live in a way that is gently pushing them to be men and show them there is more for them than what the world says. You don't have to hide, nor throw yourself at them. You can be you. You can build them up. Show them ways to serve you and others around them. Help them (literally, we are to be "help-meets," why not practice it now?). 

As they learn to be men, we learn to be ladies. As we learn to let them lead, we learn to serve along side them. As we learn to compliment, they learn they are valuable. And valuable they are.

Urban Dictionary defines a lady as: "an elegant and good-hearted woman who uses her femininity in the most dignified and endearing way possible." Gals, let's be ladies! We don't have to throw ourselves at men, nor do we have to hide! What a blessing!! We can live with integrity, dignity, and be endearing and soft towards those around us. Which is how God made us! What greater blessing is there than to live as God made us? As you live this way, you will notice that the men around you will enjoy being around you and come away from any interaction with you feeling valued, whether you see them frequently or once every eighth Thursday. That, is what it means to be a lady.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Busyness.

The number one distraction in my life.
How easy is it to fill your schedule with work, school, church, ministry, family, and friends? How easy is it to let the commitments pile up until you don't know where exactly your sanity went? How easily do we let every activity throw itself at us, until we barely have time left to sleep?

Easy. Too easy.

I've heard it said that you can tell a person's priorities by looking at their checkbook(of course, this assumes that they balance their checkbook). I think you can also tell by looking at the things they clear off their calendar for. What undoubtedly, every week, do you do, no matter what? What is there no hesitation in your mind about clearing your schedule for?

I've found it interesting to watch my close friends over the past few months, with the insanity of school in full swing. To see what they have committed to daily making time for. To seriously think about what I daily commit to making time for. My job is a given, and all other activities are scheduled around that. But before work, if I am not up on time because I was up too late the night before or didn't sleep well, what's the first thing I chop out of my daily schedule? For me it has come down to a) my quiet time, or b) my workout. My time spent in the Word not only refreshes my heart, it starts me off with a much better attitude. And, God is aware when I don't go to the gym, because without fail all my patients on those days that I "skip" working out require heavy manual stretching or massage. So I feel like I did something physically challenging either way!

We are barraged with many, many ways to spend our time. The TV, computer, cell phones, housework, and any extra activities are thrown at us wherever we turn. And when we get caught up in all the extra commitments, we miss out on the things that are of eternal significance. Will doing such and such an activity allow those around me to see Christ? Will working out 5 days/week matter when I reach Heaven?

Will spending the extra 10 minutes with a patient who is having a difficult day, cutting into my lunch, go unnoticed by the King? Will He turn His back on us when we invest our time in relationships that glorify and honor Him? Will He not bless us for giving Him first priority?

Nothing we do to honor Him goes unnoticed.

He wants us to put Him and what is important to Him first. He wants our devotion, the number one, permanently inked place on our calendar. To have His priorities, to Love Him, Love His word, and Love His people.

The enemy will do everything he can think of to have us scratch the things that matter to God off of our life calendar. But we have the choice to say no to the busyness. To make time for the things of lasting importance. And to ink His holy name on every page of our daily planner.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ishi

During my morning coffee dates with God, I've been reading through Captivating by John and Stasi Eldgredge. That book has brought tears, laughter, hope, and a longing to know God in a new and exciting way. 

There are very few books that I've read that haven't convicted me of all I'm not doing as a "good Christian woman." Laying out all I've done and left me feeling horribly short of what I "should" be, according to the author. This is a book that calls to the heart of a woman to Love God in the way she desires to be Loved. A book that encourages the woman's heart to take her longing for security, romance, and purity to the Lord. To Love Him as a Beloved, rather than a master. 

Morning dates with God are better when you have retractable crayons to highlight the things that stand out :)

The God of the Universe wants us to know Him as Ishi; "My Husband." He desires to betroth us to Him (and He says it three times) in righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, compassion, and faithfulness. These are all the things that He is, that we are not, unless we walk with Him. These are the things that a woman's heart longs for. That ultimately, we will find in Him if we pursue an intimate, bare-all relationship with Him. 

This concept still hasn't sunk in to my mind yet. That this is how He wants to Love us. That this Love and betrothal to Him will last forever. There is not one relationship on this earth that is eternal, that will last forever. This is how we will know the Lord. It hasn't sunk in, but it makes my heart excited. When I read through those verses, the longing to know Him was overwhelming. To know Him forever. In righteousness. In justice. In lovingkindness. In compassion. And, in faithfulness. It is not a regime of rules and laws. It is a binding of Love. I can only imagine how much more we will strive to shout His name, if we Love Him so.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cry Hard

I was never a big cry-er. It took something catastrophic to unleash the waterworks.

That was until this year. The year of multiple jobs, more-than-full-time college, living away from home, relationships, friendships, graduation, moving home, starting work full-time.. The last full year has been the most challenging, gut-wrenching, sleepless, wonderful, beautiful, sad, joyful year.

There have been many tears. Tears of stress. Tears of fear. Tears of happiness. Tears of exhaustion. Tears of pain. Tears of thankfulness. They are the safety valve of the heart and they leak out when the pressure is just that high. Sometimes at night, when all is quiet. Or there are times that I find myself crying silently while driving to/from work, often remembering all that has happened. All that God has done and is still doing. Those times are precious, just He and I. He has heard my voice this past year more than I dare say He has in the other years of my life combined.

There are times when the tears hurt. When they come from that place that I don't even understand. Frustrated. Angry. 

There are times when they are sweet. When I am overwhelmed with His greatness and glory. Thankful. Awed by the way He is working.

There are times when they are sad. When I want to step in and fix everything for those I love. Aching. Pleading. Wanting so badly to see them safe. Strong.

Those tears often come with no words. Only a silent pleading can make it through the emotions. One night I flipped through the pages of my Bible in desperation, looking for anything that showed me He cared. That He heard me. 

He does hear, Loved one. He does care. 

Thou has taken account of my wanderings; 
Put my tears in Thy bottle; 
Are they not in Thy book?
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; 
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
In the Lord ,whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust,
I shall not be afraid. 

Psalms 56:8-11

He is as aware of our tears as He is the birds that fall from the sky. And He cares so much more for us, for we are created in His image. Created to glorify Him. He is attentive to every thing that goes through our hearts and heads. 

I have learned that when those tears come, to cry hard. Let it out. But. Pray harder. He holds those tears as tightly as He holds you in His hand... And all that comes to you that might possibly cause tears, it has to go through His scarred hands first. 

I cry hard. But I pray harder, because I know that God is for me. Because I have faith that the One I trust, is for me. And I shall not be afraid. He holds my tears in His bottle. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Discipline

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. 
On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 
For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things,
 Since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 
1 Timothy 4:7-8


This September marks the first September since Kindergarten that I have not started school in some capacity. Watching all of my friends go back to classes, sports, and live the college life has been more than odd. Thankfully, there are still plenty of opportunities to see them and I have wonderfully discovered that I  don't have homework to hold me back from spur-of-the-moment weekend adventures or all-evening activities! Marvelous =)!

More importantly than the freedom of no homework, I discovered 1 Timothy 4:7-8 this week. Quite often when hearing friends talk about their class assignments, I find myself going "what about me? What am I supposed to be doing?" This is what I am to be doing. Those of us who are out of school, with a job (without, too), and not married or in a serious relationship have been given a blessing from God. The blessing to be able to discipline ourselves for godliness, as it is the only thing that is profitable for both right here and right now, as well as eternity. Everything else is a bonus. Everything else is for here and now. But disciplining ourselves in Him, for His purpose and His glory, that is for ever. 

I'm not saying that those who are in school can't do this, nor am I saying that those who are married or in a relationship can't do this. I have seen though, that without those two things in my life right now (both of which are very time consuming), I can give Him my undivided, totally focused attention. It has been amazing. Sweet. Challenging. Humbling. And wonderful. Lord willing, someday I will learn to do this alongside my husband. Until that time though, I am thankful that He has given me this time with Him, learning more of Who He is and what it means to be a woman of integrity in this world.

When we stand before Him someday God isn't going to ask us if we graduated with honors, what our GPA was, or if we made Phi Theta Kappa. We are deceived in this world by the mentality that education matters. Yes, it does. But it does not matter the most.

The same with physical appearance and extracurricular activities. Do I spend more time working out, slimming down (ladies) or bulking up (guys) than I do in His word? Do I spend more time shopping and organizing my closet than I do in prayer? For me, those two are easy to say no to. But if you ask about education, that stops me. I did well in high school and even better in college, and now feel pressure to perform to that standard in everything academic. Even now, less than 5 months after I walked across the stage during graduation, it doesn't matter if I did it with honors, or if I barely passed. It is gone. What matters is the impact I had on the people that I went to school with. Was I a light to them? Did people know Him because of me? Was I an encouragement? That is what people remember. 

Bodily discipline - everything pertaining to this world - is profitable for a time. Someday, it simply won't matter. 

Godliness is the only thing that we can invest in now that will matter through eternity. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Consider

During our worship service yesterday in church I was letting my mind wander, mulling over all the ways that this Labor Day weekend was different from last Labor Day weekend. That morning before church I was honestly starting to pull a 'tude...

"God, this isn't fair. So much is different from last year. My best friends have literally and figuratively moved and aren't here with me like they were last year.. Everyone is acting differently. I'm not in school anymore, and I don't like that. Every single thing I Loved in my life has changed and left me behind."

Needless to say, I was throwing a slight  major pity party.

As the worship songs transitioned I went to pull my tithe check from the pages of my Bible. As I slipped it into the passing basket, I realized how amazing it was that I was able to tithe. Not only did I actually have resources to tithe from, but this was the first tithe to come from my salary as a PTA. As I gave a monetary percentage back to God, the tears started to roll. 

"Father, You did it. I graduated. I completed the degree. You orchestrated everything to this point today, from my first knee surgery to knowing what classes I needed to transfer. You set this path before me, and I have taken the first step. I have my license. You brought me through the terrors of having no one I knew by giving me incredible friends. You gave me strength when I was physically and emotionally drained. You gave me the drive to study, and it brought me high honors. You stayed with me when I came home and all had changed. You comfort me with Your Word during late nights when I am lonely and broken. In all this last year, You are my Rock. You have been Steadfast. You are always there, and have always been there. You have shown me more of You than I have ever known before. Take this offering, as a way for me to show just some of my thanks to You. For all YOU have done, and all that I know You will still do."

The joy of being able to give back to Him after realizing that everything this past year has had nothing to do with what I did, but what He did, overwhelmed my lousy attitude. It really is amazing to see that in one year so much has happened. Some good, some heart breaking, some wonderful, some unsettling, some challenging. 

Transitioning from a student to the working world, with friends moving and changing is not necessarily a joyous time. It is true that nothing is as it was... Except for Him. It is also true that nothing will be as it was...  Except for my Lord. 

Only fear the Lord and serve him in truth with all your heart; 
for consider what great things He has done for you. 
1 Samuel 12:24.

On the challenging days I must not forget to remind myself of all He has done, rather than stewing over all I think He has not. He truly does great things for those who serve Him with all of their hearts, and He Loves it when we acknowledge and Love Him for what He has done. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blossom

"Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud 
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." 
-Anais Nin

The time to bloom may come at the time of deepest hurt and pain... Yet the Master Gardener, our Heavenly Father, will grow us through that time to blossom one petal at a time. To fight His work and pridefully refuse growth will only cause pain and increasing heartache. Let Him open your heart petal by petal. Whatever risk comes with blossoming, comes through His hands, scarred with His Love for you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

50 Shades of Christian Smut

One of my joys of being home and not currently working (although that time is almost past) has been my trips to the library where I spend hours pouring over the aisles of books. I also discovered that the Salvation Army generally has a good amount of books that look like they just came off the shelf at a Christian bookstore. I love reading. I always have. Losing myself in the pages of a book is one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind.

Something I have noticed recently is that most books out there, whether labeled "Christian" or not(in our library, these books have a little sticker of Jesus on the binding), are not edifying or encouraging to Christian woman. Time and time again I have brought home a book with the sticker of what they assume Jesus looked like on the binder, only to read the first few chapters and put it down in frustration. They often weave stories of love among everything else in the story until you realize it has become the main focus of the story. Many of them focus on the dissatisfaction a couple has in their marriage. They tell of adultery. They delve into lust, anger, and unrealistic happiness. There is a danger that both girls and women will look at these books and become unsatisfied with the relationship that they do have or become expectant of an unrealistically happy relationship someday. It's not safe, and it can help turn marriage into an idol.

While I was at a clinical rotation the talk of the lunch hour was about a popular series: Fify Shades of Grey. *gags* I heard over and over again how they couldn't read it without blushing and that they had to hide what they were reading from their children. For those that don't know, this book is composed primarily of  'pornography for women' and is considered to be one of the most erotic series ever written. I overheard conversations of how the book made these woman wish for something more "exciting" or "thrilling" in their love life. I've heard a lot of trash talk towards these books, and rightly so - they are horrible. However, I think most of us are a little too quick to judge. The 50 Shades series has caused as much impatience and frustration as many of the leading Christian series have, whether we are willing to admit it or not.

I had to ask myself. Was reading a book worth sacrificing my future relationship with my husband or my heart? Was I willing to give up God's idea of marriage for a few hundred pages of "Christian" romance? Was I okay with choosing someone's made-up story of love for the story of Love that God has already given us? I wasn't. When I saw the similarities, I had to give up the "Christian smut," as one of my friends calls it. I became much more cautious about what I took home and if I found myself going all bleary eyed over the pages... It had to be put down. It's not always easy, but I have noticed that within the last year I have lost my taste for these books. I have also noticed that my image of marriage has come more from the Love story that He has written between His Son and the Church.

My reading list has expanded since then. It includes books such as Revolution in World Missions (K.P. Yohannan), A Hunger for God (John Piper),  The Sacred Romance (Brent Curtis and John Eldredge), Faithful Woman and their Extraordinary God (Noel Piper), Tramp for the Lord (Corrie ten Boom), Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis), The Screwtape Letters (Lewis), as well as reading through the Bible. I come away from reading not only feeling relaxed, but challenged and more in love with Who my God is. No shade of smut is worth that.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

iPhone, or real life?


If I could do a compilation of Facebook posts from the last week or so, it would look something like this...

Headed to the Keweenaw. The last time I was up here was for graduation, surrounded by my favorite people. Now there is no school involved. Weird feeling.

First impressions are high when salt water taffy is involved.

Branded in Christ, growing old in the brand, and making a monument.

Praying, and needing coffee...

Someday, I want to hear the words "Well done." Shortly followed by "Come here, and give me a hug." To know our Father on that level would bring more joy than words can say.

Danced in Lake Superior in the moonlight.

Finished Numbers.

Asia. Muslims. Missions. The Church of Jesus Christ. I have learning to do.

'Revolution in World Missions' is a book worth reading.

Jam Pot cookies = delectable.

None of these actually were posted, because I was without cellphone signal and internet all week. It. Was. Marvelous. I had a week to do many other things. In a week without a cellphone, I read all of the book of Numbers. I attended chapel services twice a day. I went hiking above and below ground. I spent time with my family. We played the longest UNO game I have ever participated in. I prayed. Journaled. Saw friends. Made new ones. I learned about 2 Peter 1 and the missions field in Asia. As well as the missions field in the US. I stayed up late and got up early.

What could you do if you spent less time on your phone, computer, iPad, or other electronic device? What are you/am I missing by always having a phone glued to our ear or fingers? While in tune with FB, Twitter, texting, and Instagram, what are you not seeing that is right around you? Nothing irritates me more than realizing that someone can't set their phone down and walk away from it for a day. Or even a few hours.

As technology advances, it is easy to spend more time glued to it. Even with my phone, I can play games, surf the internet, write a blog post, take and edit pictures, check my email, as well as call and text. Lately, I've been working on keeping it on silent and checking it every few hours, as well as taking the games and social media apps off of it. Why? Because I realized that if we were like that with our Bibles, always checking them for clarification or new material, reading them, and unable to go somewhere without them, what would our world be like? I dare say, more God-glorifying than it is now.  And I'd rather tally the hours I spent reading His Word and Loving those He puts around me, than suffer from carpal tunnel someday due to too much thumb-action!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wounds



As a PTA, one of the things I was taught to do in school was wound care. As a little girl who was always picking at her scabs and examining her cuts and scrapes (of which there were plenty), I didn't mind this course as some of my classmates did. Granted, what I saw was much more in-depth than a scraped knee. Pressure sores to the bone, incisions that refused to heal, toes that were falling off exposing tendon... It was a somewhat gruesome experience.

Even with the variety that I saw, one thing didn't change among the different wounds. They heal from the inside out. The top doesn't heal over leaving the area underneath to heal once the area looks better cosmetically. Rather, the wound slowly grows up and in, allowing everyone who cares to look to see the healing process. It is a painful process. The patient did not ask for this wound, they didn't ask for it to take weeks, months, or years to heal. But they have it, and now they must help it heal. Sometimes the wound is full of hard, dead, black skin that has to be meticulously picked out in order for the new tissue to fill in the area. Other times, the wound is blood red (think raw hamburger). It is healthy, but it bleeds as it heals. 

Everywhere around you there are people with wounds. Not the type of  wounds that are easily identified by band-aids or wound-vacs, but deeper wounds. Wounds to the spirit, the heart, or the mind. In the same way that physical wounds cannot heal healthily by covering over the top and then leaving the underneath gaping... Emotional wounds cannot heal this way either. It might be easier to just cover up the painful area and ignore it, but there will not be any true healing taking place. Rather, there will be festering and anger that build up just as quickly as dead tissue would in a real wound. In order to heal and grow new tissue, we must be willing to heal from the inside out. This time, rather than using saline solution, gauze, or whirlpools, we have to turn to a different list to help us grow.

Trust
The Lord is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. Psalms 28:7

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalms 34:18

This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it. John 11:4

Refuge.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works. Psalms 73:28

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all out affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Love.
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. John 15:9

Let all that you do be done in Love. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Humility.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Wisdom.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17

As obedient children... like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior. 1 Peter 1:14-15

Forgiveness.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. Mark 11:25.

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32.

For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you also. Matthew 6:14.

Prayer.
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually. 1 Chronicles 16:11

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

A broken heart will still be painful. The rejection will still grate at you. The hurtful words will echo in your ears. But we serve a God we can trust. He is our refuge. He Loves us. He teaches us what it means to be humble. He gives us His wisdom. He has shown us how to forgive. He wants us to come to Him in prayer. When you're hurting, an arrogant and prideful attitude will not lead you anywhere. Healing happens from the inside out. It starts in your heart, with your attitude. You must make the choice each day to act in a way that honors God, rather than reacting and hurting those around you. 

You have to make the choice to let Him heal you. He will come alongside you and clear out the dead tissue. He will cleanse the wound with His tears, for when His children hurt He does as well. He will nurture it to health so that it can heal. The wound may bleed and may still be painful, but with His care, it will heal

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You Follow Me!


"To wait is not merely to remain impassive. 
It is to expect - to look for with patience, and also with submission. 
It is to long for, but not impatiently; 
to look for, but not to fret at the delay;
to watch for, but not restlessly; 
to feel that if He does not come we will acquiesce,
 and yet to refuse to let the mind acquiesce in the feeling that He will not come." 
-Dr. A.D. Davidson

In John 21:22 Jesus was talking to Peter during His appearance after the resurrection. This is after Jesus had asked Peter three times if Peter Loved Him, and Jesus gives Peter a small glimpse as to what it will look like if Peter follows Him. If Christ were to suddenly show up and give me a grasp as to what the end of my life was going to look like, I think I'd be speechless. As I read this, I was pulled deeper into it, able to picture the reaction of silence that I believed should be had... But not Peter. No, Peter promptly takes his focus off of Christ and turns around, looking at John (who was following them) and goes "what about him, Jesus?" I can only imagine the look on Jesus' face... Disappointment? Frustration? Or just a deep understanding of who Peter was? He has invested so much into Peter, teaching him before His crucifixion and Loving him even after he denied Him. His response to Peter:

"If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!" 
(Italics my own)

We get so caught up in everyone else. We have good intentions about praying for other people. We respond to the calling to go out and witness to other people. But I believe that there are times when we get too caught up in those around us. There is nothing wrong with praying for others, near or far. We are commanded to pray, and I have people I pray for every single morning and evening! The problem arises when Christ asks us to follow Him in something, large or small, and we are consistently turning around and saying "Hey Jesus, what about them? What do you want them to do?" When all that matters at that very moment is that He wants us to follow Him. No "if this" or "what about him/her." When we follow Him, our focus is to be forward, on Him. Not on everyone else around us and what we think they may or may not be doing. He wants our attention and energy to go into Him.

Sometimes following Him includes waiting. I think this might be one of the most tight-rope-like walks we are called to, challenged to wait on His leading, direction, or guidance, all the while not wasting the time He has given us. We wait for _____ and hopefully, we ask Him to use the period of waiting to grow in us more Love for Him. Or maybe we ask Him to grow us in patience. Or grace. Or mercy. Or kindness. The possibilities are abundant. For Peter, his call of "Follow Me" included the knowledge of a painful death that he would be awaiting for the rest of his life. And yet, he did not waste the time that God gave him. He used it for the glory of Christ. He had walked with Christ and knew what it meant to be forgiven and loved. He had received the gift of grace from the hand of Christ. He followed Christ's commandment to Love others, as well as believe in the Lord. It was here that I imagine Peter finally understood what it would mean for him, as he lived his life as Christ's disciple.

Waiting doesn't mean we do nothing. It means we seize the period of patience and seeking, longing and watching, and at the same time open our hearts to what God desires to do in and through us. It means that we trust Him and focus on Him rather than on what we expect from those around us. When the day comes and we stand before His throne, He will hold us responsible only for ourselves. At that point, it will be us and Him. The King above all Kings. The Alpha and the Omega. The Lord. The Passover Lamb. There will be no turning to others and asking about them, there will only be one. Me. And as I wait for that day, I can only prepare by following His command.. "You follow Me!"



Thursday, July 5, 2012

On My Side

Somedays it seems you are better off going back to bed before you even get out from under the covers.. Today was one of those days; after tossing and turning and thus not sleeping at all last night as well as not feeling well, the last thing I wanted to do was get up. Up I got though, throwing on clean shorts and a tshirt and rushing to spend the morning watching some of my most-favorite little people, giggling and playing with PlayDoh (seriously, who knew a 3 year old could actually sit still for 2 hours?!)

Once home I promptly stretched out and slept for almost an hour and a half, waking up to a letter from my sweet Cali-friend. There are few things better than a letter from one of your most special friends, especially when it contains the pure wisdom of scripture.. She wrote encouragement from 1 Corinthians and Psalms, reminding me that His ways are perfect, He is good, and that when I am weak I am truly strong in Him.. It was exactly what I needed to hear, today. Even though it was postmarked the 2nd. He knew I needed it *today.*

Flip forward through roughly two hours of studying, and I pick up "Come Thirsty" by Max Lucado. This is the first book by Max that I've really ever read.. And I've been working on it for close to a month. I wasn't reading it as fast as I'd hoped and have tried to read a chapter a day.. However, today the chapter discussed the power we have in the Holy Spirit. How He intercedes for us to the Father when we are broken beyond words. It told the story of a young girl, Hannah (no joke), who was bullied mercilessly. When she was threatened by the bully, she replied with simple, pure faith...

"The older student warned Hannah to prepare for battle. 'Any day now I'm coming after you.' Hannah didn't flinch or cry. She simply informed the perpetrator about the facts. 'Do whatever you need to do,' she explained. 'But just know this: God is on my side.'"

The faith of a ten-year old. It worked; she wasn't bullied again. Apparently even middle schoolers understand the power of our Lord.

It doesn't matter what we face, He is always on our side. He is always standing in front of us anticipating the attacks from the bully. Whether a coworker, friend, sickness, or death. Whatever the enemy throws at us, we have the stronger fight because of Him. The best part about this chapter was the encouragement that we don't always have to know what to say to Him. Romans 8:26-27 talks about how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. He is there not only to guide us, but also to go to the throne for us. To explain when we can't even comprehend what is going on. I am reading the book slow, yes, but He knew that I needed this today. Not two weeks ago, or even yesterday.

Two messages in the same day. A day I would've rather passed by. Instead, He used a letter and a book to speak to my heart and remind me that I am not the strong one - but He is. To comfort me in the knowledge that I don't always have the words to say to Him, but the Holy Spirit does. And to most of all help me to remember that He is good, perfect, and pure; and He is on my side.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Jeremiah

From Jeremiah...


'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the Lord; 'I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,' (3:12)

Go up through her vine rows and destroy, but do not execute a complete destruction. Strip away her branches, for they are not the Lord's. (5:10)

"Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the Lord. (9:23-24)

I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. (10:23)

"Listen to My voice, and do according to all which I command you; so you shall be My people, and I will be your God (11:4)

Thou has planted them, they have also taken root; They grow, they have even reproduced fruit. Thou art near to their lips but far from their mind. But Thou knowest me, O Lord; Thou seest me; and Thou dost examine my heart's attitude toward Thee. (12:2-3)

Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart... (15:16)

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but it's leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. (17:7-8)

But the Lord is with me like a dread champion... (20:11)

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.' (29:11-13)

"I will put my law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (31:33)


Throughout the book of Jeremiah, there is a theme of God desiring His people to come to Him and follow Him, for which He will reward them. He calls His people to listen to His voice and do what He commands them to do. To not boast in anything of ourselves, but only in knowing and understanding Him.

I've been reading Job, Jeremiah, Ruth, Esther.. The accounts of people who were in a situation where God was changing and molding them, either because they were strong in His sight or because they were severely lacking in an understanding of Who He is.

Spiritually right now, I am drinking in all that He is showing me of Himself. I am loving the precious times in His word. I am thankful that I am home to learn and fellowship with my family and my church family. I am enjoying being back with my friends and laughing, knowing I am safe with them, knowing we share the common tie of Christ...
Humanly, I am wishing He didn't have quite so much confidence in me. At times where it seems like He knows exactly where my breaking point is and He is bending me to within a millimeter of it... I just want to be done already. I want Him to take His hands off of me and give me a break. I want Him to step back and let me breathe. I want Him to say "ok, enough is enough. You could use a break."

And yet, the messes seem to hit one after the other. Big, little, catastrophic, minor, it doesn't matter. They roll in just when I think life has a chance of evening out.

That's the problem though... It is not about what "I think." As I have read through Jeremiah, I have seen that everything is about what He wants. And if He knows that making me uncomfortable, weary, and otherwise fried will make me run to Him as I try to see how to get through a day... Then He will allow those messes to enter into my life. If He knows that one more thing will bring me to the breaking point where I find myself on my knees by my bed crying for His grace; He will allow it. He wants me to come to Him, finding my reward in His embrace.

I am comforted knowing that He doesn't sit up on His throne and snap His fingers to watch me scramble for solid footing. He doesn't stomp His foot to make me catch my breath in fear. Instead, He has me cupped inside His hands, and He is filtering the things that He allows to enter my life through His fingers. He does know what I can handle. He does know my heart, my thoughts, and my emotions. He knows. He wants His words to be my joy. He wants His Love to be the Love I yearn for. He wants me to know that no matter what changes here on earth, that He will never change. He is the only steady thing. The only One I can count on being there forever. Sometimes, that is the only comfort we have to hold on to. And sometimes, it's the only one that we need.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Endless

The new song on repeat this week, along with the title track of this album, 10,000 Reasons.

How I cannot wait to see Him face-to-face. To fully understand and comprehend all that He did for me... Because He Loves me. To see His face, and kneel before His feet. On that day I will be with Him forever, the things of the earth forgotten, my only focus worshiping Him.

Until that point, may He do all necessary to make my life an endless hallelujah to the King. My Lord. My Abba. The One I know will never leave me or be finished working in me, as He shapes me into a woman who Loves Him more than anything else. A woman who fully believes that to live is Christ, and to die and enter His presence is gain.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why?

I have decided, I love loving people. I love encouraging them, showing them the positives, pushing them to go on, and getting a smile out of them. Even with people I know, I always find joy in getting a smile out of them. That's the best part about what I'm doing right now - Loving people. I am working with people who have had pain for years, or people who are not used to pain and are suddenly in a world of it. They have little to no hope, and they are discouraged with their progress, or lack thereof.

This week at my clinical was even more heart breaking, as I was placed in a position where I was working with people who were hurting emotionally, not just physically. A senior at the local high school shot himself the morning of graduation last weekend. In his house, where his Mom found him. From what I've gathered it was completely unexpected. He was a "good kid" and one that seemed to have quite a few friends. The speculation about "why" was the hottest topic during any conversation this week. Why would he do that? Why the morning of graduation? Why didn't his parents see it coming? Why in the house? Why?

We often ask "why?" Whether a little kid is curious asking it in response to every sentence directed at them, or a college student is trying to understand a concept. As a word it means "for what reason, cause, or purpose." The purpose part is what I think we most often question. What purpose does this bring? Especially when something is painful, we often cannot see the purpose behind it. I feel horribly sad for the people who look at a situation like this and see absolutely no hope. They have nothing to hold on to, nothing to provide any peace or comfort. Nothing but sheer, raw pain.

As a man or woman of Christ though, we have an answer to any "why" that may come our way. Whether it is a sickness, death, or sudden change we weren't expecting. In the same way that so many people in the Bible suffered, whether the blind man, the lame man, the woman who bled, Hannah, Rachel or Sarah being childless, or Esther being plucked from her life and put in a foreign situation. All of those culminated to a beautiful glorification of God. Those people showed trust, with a strength that is so rarely seen today. Because of that they radiated God.. I half expect that when the enemy looked at them he could barely see them as God's light reflected off of their hearts. Their unwavering trust that God was not punishing them, but rather refining them, led to the desires of their hearts in a timing that honored Him. Even Job, who lost everything that he held dear to him (minus one nagging wife and a few troublesome friends), acknowledged that he would come forth as gold (Job 23:10). If we radiate His Love that strongly, the enemy won't be able to see us to get to us, because our hearts and heads will be so firmly covered in Him.

They took the hard times, and they trusted. They prayed God's Word back to Him. They held Him to His power. They acknowledged His wisdom was greater than anything they could understand, yet they came to Him broken. So broken that they had nothing left but Him. And in that moment, they reflected His Love to those around them. They shone as gold, coming through the trial stronger and with a deeper understanding of Who He is.

I am thankful for this perspective, and realized even more this week how badly I want those around me to be aware of it as well. To know the hope that He brings, even when nothing makes sense. I not only work with people through the day, I pray for them.. There are times when the hurt is so strong, so deep, that nothing but prayer can ease it, and nothing but His word can soothe the sting, and when the only answer to the "why?" is "wait."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Achingly Transparent

A beautiful day. Blue sky, green grass, a picnic table in the sun... Yet there are tears smearing the words I write. I pray this aloud through the tears as I write, with no other words to say I am thankful that He gives me the words.


Behold, I go forward but You are not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive You;
When You act on the left, 
I cannot behold You;
You turn on the right,
I cannot see You.
But You know the way I take;
When You have tried me,
I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to Your path;
I have kept Your way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the command of Your lips;
I have treasured the words of Your mouth more than my necessary food.
But You are unique and who can turn You?
And what Your soul desires, that You do.
For You perform what is appointed for me,
And many such decrees are with You.
(Job 23:8-14)

When I cannot sleep, eat, or focus, what is there left to do but trust that He has me under His hand? When I wake up shaking because of my dreams and am left believing that I have no one to turn to, what is there to do but call on His name over, and over again, whispering it aloud as I try to sleep? When it seems He is the only one Who cares to listen and trust me, I will talk. When I have no words to say, I trust His Spirit to intercede. When it feels as if I have no friends, I will run to the only One I know will never leave me. I look to the day where I see His face and know that all is for His glory. I will not stop seeking His will and I will not stop believing He will give me what my heart desires - for that He has promised.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

All This Time



I remember the moment - Sitting on the far side of the living room while my parents told us that Mom had cancer.

I remember the pain - a broken heart, a collapsed world, and no hope.

I remember every single moment between that day five years ago, and the beautiful sunrise I watched this morning. From Mom's surgeries, sickness, bald heads.. All things cancer...

I remember the sobbing as she told me my uncle, her little brother, had cancer as well. The phone call from Grandma during his first surgery. The way he engulfed me in his huge hugs. I remember the heartache watching him and his family walk such a similar path. I remember the hug from my aunt at his funeral. The way his boys look so much like him and were so strong for their Mom.

But I also remember the hope. The way that Mom and Dad grew closer than ever before, with Dad serving Mom as Christ washed His disciples feet. I remember the laughter over the crazy wigs. I remember realizing just how much I love my parents. I remember planting the Hope garden, remembering my uncle, and praying for his family still. I remember the families that brought us meals. I remember all the tears, all the laughter, and I am grateful for all of it. Through all of it, I know that He has walked with us all of the time, and grown us closer together as a family because of it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

5

Five years... Five years filled with tears, heartache, joy, sadness, and growth. Five years watching the woman who has taught me so much, as she learned to be a woman who truly depended on God through *everything* she endured. Five years since that dreaded word became a regular in our family. But today? We celebrate the hyphen.. My beautiful Mom is cancer-free. She watched me graduate college two weeks ago, when we weren't sure she would make it to my high school graduation.. We both cried. I love you, Mom!!! I am *so* glad you are here, and I am so thankful for the example you have been, always clinging to Him. His love endures forever!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lab Coats

Coffee in one hand, a thick blue folder in the other hand, and a pager on my hip, I walk down the hallway amid people clothed in scrubs. A yellow shirt and dress pants, my hair pulled smartly back to keep it out of the way, and my white lab coat tie the look together.

This has become my new daily routine (although usually it's sans coffee). I go from floor to floor in the acute/cardiac area, in and out of hallways, finding and reading charts, tracking down nurses, and working with the patients. The wonderful thing about a clinical is that it's learning on the job(minus the paycheck). And while on the job? You gain an incredible amount of confidence as you help people "ambulate" and "assess their gait"or other such things.

Some people are cranky, and don't want to be seen. Others are hurting and it's all they can do to keep their focus on what you're asking them to do. My favorite have a sense of humor  that could be used on a show called "Ninety-seven-year-old's say the Darndest Things." Most every person I have come in contact with has loved the fact that I am a student, and they are more than willing to work with me as I'm not the most adept at untangling IV lines, catheter bags, drain tubes, oxygen lines, and juggling an IV pole and an O2 tank.

I've done things I never thought I would do before, such as assisting people in the bathroom, talking with confused and disoriented pt's, adjusting and clipping catheter lines onto my pocket while we're walking in the hall, or helping someone get dressed. I get to tuck people back into bed, and make sure they're comfortable before I leave, and hook and unhook medical lines.

More important then that, is going into each room with a smile and something encouraging to say. Patience is definitely a requirement in a situation like this. So many people who are in a hospital situation are hurting. They're tired of being there, even if it's only been a day. They don't think they're doing well. They just want to go home. They hurt. They're never going to get better... It's sad =(. I saw today especially, that if you offer encouragement and help them to see the progress that they've made? They respond much better.

I see the hope. The smile on their face. There is no feeling like getting someone who is discouraged and saddened by their state to truly smile, so that it goes all the way to their eyes.

The story in the hospital goes, that the only medical personnel that patient's dislike seeing more than the physical therapists are the people from infusion, who come to poke and prod with needles.. Though there are some days where I'm sure we rate much lower, depending on the situation.

These people are in pain, and I've discovered a way to help them get better. I've discovered that being a joy to them rather than being frustrated with them, and smiling and talking with them rather than snapping at them, is a refresher to them and to myself. It's rewarding to spread a smile. Sometimes just distracting them from their current situation and getting them down to a new area of the floor, where they can see the view of the city while they talk about their family, is enough.

I enjoy it more than I thought I ever would. The hustle and the bustle. The new cases. The differing diagnoses. And all the lives that I get to become a small part of. All of it ties together into one long day, which sometimes leaves me ready for bed by 8. Like today. But you know? I don't mind. Helping people is basically one of the best things ever, in any capacity.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Completed

I don't quite know what to do with myself... I completed my last practical today at 1:30. Being my massage practical, it was easy. A nice relief after my Neuro practical this morning at 9:30, where my professor did a scarily accurate imitation of someone with Multiple Sclerosis.

Needless to say though, I am so used to spending three or more hours a night studying, now that the majority of my stuff is packed, I'm at a loss with what to do with myself!

So here it is, a review of the last 8 months, by way of some pictures.. For your entertainment, curiosity, or boredom ;)..

Mom got a Facebook shortly after I left!

 By far the most beautiful study area I've ever had.

  Staying awake on the 6hr drive to and from home..

 Clinical 1, including surgery observation! 
(I wish I got to wear scrubs every day! They are basically awesome, I think)

 Mail from Mom, clearly labeled so I knew which one to open when!
(Love containing envelopes were opened at lunch, grown-up stuff envelopes waited till after dinner)


Lots of chocolate... Day, night, lunch, dinner, breakfast... Any time of the day!

 We did a lot of odd things in class.. Electrocuting each other, "cupping", taping, stretching, bending, bracing, stump-wrapping, and others.

 Study sessions the night before an exam! I learned quickly when you take 19 credits that you read generally through material and then study the guides given by professors hard-core the night before the exam. 

 The upper floor/top deck of the lab.

More chocolate.

                                  
We ate in the lab once or twice a month, sometimes potlucks, 
birthday celebrations, or late night studying!

 Beautiful sunsets from the top of the hill..

 Same lunch crew, same table, always full of interesting conversations...
I will miss these people, for sure.

 We managed to get out of the classroom once in a while.. 
Though conversation always seemed to focus around school.

 Coming home and becoming a "Hannah-sandwich"

Mom =)

                                
The stress reliever = the gym. Which finally = running just over 2 miles.
Slowly, but it happened. 

It's been a whirlwind of a time. I'm still in shock that I'm done with the major coursework. From here, it's just clinical, which I'll be within an hour and a half of home at all times for. I think that'll be the best part =). 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Integrity?

What do you do when no one is watching? When you're away from the people that you know will call you out on an unacceptable action, word, or outfit? Do you forget that He is watching?

Going away to college is probably the best opportunity you have to be able to figure that out. I lived happily with my parents my first two years of college before I transferred six hours away.. Until that point, I knew that they were paying attention to what I was doing, where I was going, and even what I was wearing. Now? I know they aren't. And honestly, three or four years ago, I probably would've pushed the envelope had I been in this situation, with this kind of 'freedom'. I am so glad that I didn't have the opportunity.

I know a lot of this is the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but I also think a lot of it comes from the ways that my parents raised me. They raised me to show integrity in my actions and the things I do. They know what I'm doing up here. They trust me to be smart and keep a level head.

The three biggest areas I see people pushing when they come to college are language, booze, and clothing.

This campus is one of the most vulgar, crass settings I have ever been in. There are many times while eating in the cafeteria I have toyed with the idea of shoving someone's face into their plate of food to stop the stream of "colorful" words that are flowing from their mouth like a contorted rainbow. Swearing does not make you sound "cool." On the contrary, as soon as I hear a four letter word fly from your mouth, I lose a good chunk of whatever amount of respect I had for you. There is no need and no reason for it. If anything, it shows you have a lack of creativity to come up with something else to say, or a lack of self-control to keep your mouth shut.
It isn't just swearing though. The amount of disrespect that goes around towards professors, parents, and other teachers is just as prevalent. I was raised to know that if I said something disrespectful, especially towards my parents, I would be able to remember exactly what I said. Because my rear end would be sore for the next couple days. It saddens me to see the people that didn't start off doing this in August, are now doing it. It's infectious.

Booze. Vodka. Rum. Whiskey. Beer. Weed. All of the above. It's everywhere. I would be willing to bet cash that I am the only person on my floor who has never had an alcoholic anything. I would also be willing to bet that half the people on my floor who have had something, did it from curiosity or peer pressure. Thankfully, I was blessed to be able to see what it does to people, and how it makes them act. Any curiosity I had in this area was sated simply through observation this semester.

Next, volleyball shorts are not shorts. They do not count. Anything made out of something other than spandex that is also the same length? Also does not count. Sports bras are made to be worn under a shirt. And a shirt is meant to cover your torso. Crazy, I know. Guys, boxers to breakfast? Really? And belts were created to keep your jeans above your rear end. Not cinch it below.

Joking aside though... I've found this is one area that it would've been all to easy for me to slip up in. While shopping today, I was considering an article of clothing.. I tried it on and decided I would get it. As I put it back on the hanger, that still, small voice kicked in. What am I doing? Buying something cute! But buying something that was more revealing than I should be wearing. But then again... I'm all the way up here. No one would ever know! Except for all the people up here who saw me in it... The Holy Spirit won, and the item went back on the rack.

Am I justifying wearing something up here, simply because there aren't any Christian guys that I know, that I could cause to stumble? (And in all seriousness, I know one Christian guy up here. I've seen him twice this whole semester.) Am I cussing and swearing to fit in? Am I getting so trashed Friday night I don't know what day it is until Sunday?

No.

Why? Because in all three of these areas, integrity and godliness still apply. My actions and attitude here, around those who know that I am a Christian, but yet don't know me, are incredibly important to who I am and the One Who I claim to follow. I cannot honor Him if I am cussing behind His back, getting wasted on the weekends, or dressing in a revealing way. Why? Because you can *not* do *anything* behind His back. If the people around me see me doing any of the above, and confront me, what would my excuse be? I would have none other than I wasn't following His guidance. He gave me the Holy Spirit for a reason, and if for no reason other than this, I am so glad I was able to come up here for the last eight months, to learn to listen to His still, small voice.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

T-14 Days

The end is IN SIGHT! 14 days from now I will be leaving campus. Before that, I have a final written exam in all of my classes (5 of those being Mon-Thurs next week), three papers to turn in, one PowerPoint to do, one group presentation to give, one Orthopedics/Therapeutic Modalities practical, one Neurology practical, one Massage practical, and one honors banquet to attend. Plus, I'm going home next weekend for 3 days (cannot wait). Needless to say, my view today has been the inside of the library... And the inside of a Cadbury Mini-Egg bag =D

When that's done? I'm not done, done. I'm just done with classes. I go to a large hospital about an hour and a half from my home for a 5 week/200 hour clinical. During which I have to compile and write a case study and study for the NPTAE (National Physical Therapist Assistant Exam). When that one is over, I go to a town which is two hours east-ish of my home, and do a clinical there for 5 weeks/200 hours, during which I'm expected to study 2-3 hours a day for the NPTAE, 6 days a week. That's the clinical where we are expected to be entry-level in all that we do, because it's the last thing we do before we are turned loose!

The end of June, I will travel back up to school for a 3 day seminar. We'll make sure we all have our paperwork in, and attend a two day prep course for the NPTAE. Two weeks later, I will take the dreaded NPTAE.

After that? I'm going on vacation with my family. And sleeping. And going on a really long bike ride. And reading something that I am not required to or assigned to read.

It's crunch time. I have three more months to stay healthy, in shape, and on the top of my game physically and mentally, and the insanity starts on Monday (which is why I'm eating the Cadbury eggs now!).

The idea of being done with school and starting work in the real world is a little intimidating. And honestly? I'm going to miss the friends I've made in my program and on campus. When you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and then some with people, you get to know them!

But in a mere three months, I will have completed my goal of earning my degree. The license will follow shortly behind, and my current Mission will be completed, because of the strength given to me by my Master (God) since August... "I remain confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (I will) Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord." (Psalms 27:13-14) I can't wait to see where He takes me next =)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Remember

How many things does it take in one week to bring you back down to earth? After being home for a week, I wasn't exactly in the "school" mood when I got back to school. After my car breaking on the drive back up, a first day back consisting of almost entirely lecture (one room, 8 hours. No thank you!), getting 4 ridiculously high medical bills, and then finding out my insurance thinks I have some mysterious pre-existing condition and won't pay anything until I prove I don't? It was quite the week. I was looking forward to a weekend of relaxing (as much as one can with a decent amount of homework)... I drove out to a local park this afternoon to study in the sun (80 degrees in the UP. In March!), and my car broke again. At that point my attitude was "Are you kidding me?!"

It's not a huge problem (I don't think), and I will be able to get it fixed (I think). As I was sitting in the park, I was struck with the realization of how beautiful this place is that I have been able to go to school. The canal is still frozen over, and I tormented the seagulls by throwing my apple core onto the ice, followed by my orange peels.. I did complete *some* studying, but I mostly sat there and thought about the last 8 months, and the next 4. About everything I have completed, and everything I have yet to complete. About how blessed I have been by my family and friends. About how well Mom prepared me to come here and learn. About my previous classes and how well they prepared me for what I am now facing. About how God has brought so many little things into my life this week that were encouragements to me.

As I sat there watching all the little kids running around with their parents, I remembered that *that* is my passion. Seeing the little girls in their skirts, leggings, baseball caps, and sunglasses (seriously, one of the cutest outfit combos I have seen), it was almost as if He was reminding me why He has me here. Not only here as in school, so I can learn to work with (pediatric) patients... But also here as in on this earth as a whole. A broken car, medical bill, or stubborn insurance company won't hinder the desires He has given me. A lousy attitude, however, could.

He is giving me opportunities to trust Him and surrender these little things to Him. He is giving me the chance to learn to take a deep breath and step back. To do everything that I can do with all that I have in me.

In Exodus, God led the Isrealites out of captivity, but while He did that, He greatly worked on Moses' character. When Moses found the burning bush, and then realized what it was that God wanted him to do, he went "uh, hey God? This is great and all... But I don't do this speaking thing so swell... How about you find someone else?" God basically gave him a reality check. "Hey Moses? Who do you think made you? That'd be Me. And I want you to do this."

Moses was almost as stubborn as Pharaoh was in regards to doing what it was that God wanted. He dragged his feet. He let the Israelites push Him back into a state of mistrust when their workload was doubled by Pharaoh, and he went back to God to question Him.

What I love about all of this? God knew Pharaoh wasn't going to let His people go right away. He knew that Pharaoh wouldn't permit them to go, "except under compulsion" (Exodus 3:19) and He told this to Moses. He also told Moses that He was going to "harden his (Pharaoh's) heart so that he will not let the people go." (Exodus 4:21).

Moses knew he had a hard road ahead of him from the very beginning. He knew it wasn't going to be an easy task, but he also knew that God would be with him (Exodus 3:12). God was testing and growing Moses, from the very beginning. Every time that God brought something new to Moses, it was an opportunity for Moses to remember Who God was. That He was the God who brought them out of Egypt. That He was a God who remembered and kept His covenants. It was a learning experience for Moses almost more than anyone else! God had to get Moses ready to be able to lead His people on their upcoming journey.. Which means Moses needed to trust Him based off of previous experiences and God's word.

He does the same with us. He allows us to go through certain things, and He even knows ahead of time that they will happen. Whether it is something catastrophic or minor, it is a chance for us to remember Who He is and all that He has done for us. It's a chance for us to remember that He remembers us, and will keep His covenants. We just need to trust, obey, and remember.

Oh give thanks to the Lord,
call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders.
Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.
Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,
O seed of Israel His servant,
Sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!
He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac.
(1 Chronicles 16:8-15)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Under His Hand

This morning was a lazy morning. After a week of multiple midterm exams and practicals, lots of caffeine, late nights, and getting up with just enough time to throw on jeans and a hoodie before class... I needed some definite recharge time. I was able to get myself 10ish hours of sound, sound sleep (which doesn't happen often in a dorm), and woke up slowly. Once I had rubbed some of the sleep from my eyes, I un-huddled from my pile of blankets and grabbed my Bible and journal from the foot of my bed, and then huddled back in the corner with some blankets for good measure (in my opinion, the more blankets, the better). There I stayed for a good two hours, reading and praying, writing and thinking.

I've been working my way through 1 Peter slowly. I honestly don't even remember when I started it, because I was taking it one slow chunk at a time, working through it until I felt that I understood it. Finishing it off this morning, I was on a section that I had actually memorized last school year. I had to keep myself from rushing through it because I already "knew" it, and as I came to 1 Peter 5:5-11, I read it with the painstaking pace of a first grader.

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves to humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring loin, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:5-11)


There is a lot packed into this passage.. This time though, I noticed something that I had never really thought of before. We are told to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, while casting all of our anxieties on Him. If you have an anxiety, chances are you are worried about something. The thought that He kept pounding into my head while I was working through this was "if you are humbling yourself to Me, how can you worry about ____?" You can not show humility towards Him, and still worry about money, grades, future plans, or whether or not your car will start.

When I worry about something, spending hours of my time thinking about it, I am telling Him that I don't think that He is big enough to work it for His glory and my best interest (which is His glory). I am telling Him that I can somehow fix it or come up with an alternative to whatever He is doing. Because of course, my way is faster, easier, and less painful.

My way doesn't show humility. It shows pride. It shows that I don't completely trust Him to care for me.. Because it says right there that He cares for me. He cares for me, and gives Grace to those who are humble. The proud however, He is opposed to.

It was a good morning.. I spent a lot of time talking to Him about what I was worrying about. What I was holding onto, even if I didn't really realize it. I asked Him to show me what it was that was keeping myself from humbling myself under His hand... Because safe under His hand is where I want to be.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Live Like You're Dying

God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, 
but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination. 
- Saint Augustine 


One of my classes this week has been discussing death and dying. We were asked to choose, of the following seven options, which way we would rather die and which way we would least want to die...

Heart attack
Cancer
Kidney failure
Car accident
Murder
Suicide
AIDs

I have to admit, I was surprised when many of my class chose cancer or kidney failure as their preferred choice. Why? Because it would give them time to make things right, to spend time with their family, and to do the things they wish they had always done. Their least chosen method (ignoring suicide, because we all agreed that was a lousy option) was something like a heart attack, because it would be too traumatic and there wouldn't be any time to say goodbye.


When my classmates asked me why I chose something quicker (heart attack) over something slow, my answer was simple... If I live each day like it is my last, cherishing my time and making the most of everything, why would I need the time to "take care of things"?


We know not the day or the hour that He will return. I don't know when He will chose to take me. If I am in a situation where my relationship with someone is not what it should be, I need to address it now.. Talking with one person in more depth about it later, I realized that if I am truly glorifying Him in the way that I live, grudges, prolonged anger (unrighteous anger), dishonesty, and pride in my relationships are unacceptable. I never know what is going to happen, to them or to me.


I heard the quote on the top on the radio tonight... If I am harboring an angry attitude, a hurt attitude, or a haughty attitude, and I bring it to Him and repent (which means to turn from it...), He promises forgiveness... But He has not promised me tomorrow. He has told me to not worry about tomorrow, but to stay here. Today. Now. Tonight. Right here. Which means taking care of the angry, hurt, and haughty attitudes now


What do you need to deal with? If someone close to you was to die tonight, would you be at peace about your relationship with them? Would you be able to say that you did everything possible to Love them the way that Christ Loves you? A sinner? Likewise, if you died tonight, would they know that you represented Him in all of your actions? Would they know that you strove to Love them like He first Loved you? Would they know Him because of you? Or would they harbor hurt and uncertainty towards Him because of you?


It's a sobering thing to think about... As Christians, we should not fear death. But leaving people behind that think that following Him leads to skewed priorities and grudge-harboring, to the point they might turn from Him? That is the opposite of glorifying Him... And that, is heartbreaking. Don't wait. It's not worth it. 


Instead? Be ready, so that when that day does come (because it will), He can look you in the eyes and say; Well done, my Good and Faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).