Saturday, December 16, 2017

What really matters

This morning was my first day home in Oklahoma. It was quite the surprise as my parents totally decked the house out with Christmas lights, decorations, nativity scenes. Honestly it is the most beautifully festive and decorated I have seen in our place in so long. Then this morning we decided we weren't going to go to Sabbath school and that we were just going to church. It was the most peaceful Sabbath ever as we all had time to talk, eat breakfast, and actually get ready instead of rushing around.

Just last week I was walking around my neighborhood when I watched this older couple fighting and rushing around trying to get to Sabbath school on time. The lady was dressed so nice but her words were so rude. I wanted to stop and ask her if it was really worth it. I mean yes sabbath school is important but really at the expense of your relationship with your husband and wife and kids?

I love going back to my home church and seeing friends and friends of the family. It's interesting though because it seems there are always 2 kinds of people. One the people who are always excited to see you and make time for you. Two the people who are always too busy. Sometimes I'm surprised by the people who I think I'm close too, and don't make the effort to come and talk to me. Then in contrast, there's other people who I never thought we were that close, who show me kindness and faithfulness again and again.  I don't think with most people it's intentional to not have time for the people that matter or are close to you, but when people get really busy in life it's hard to reach out to others.

It definitely makes me think about my own life. I get really excited about things, and it's easy to get busy. I think it's great to work hard and do good things, but honestly what is the point if you are hurting the closest people to you if you do it. There are so many people that live for money, success, and achievements, yet at the end of the day they come up empty. What good is bread if you have to eat it all alone?

It's hard to slow down.. but sometimes I think we have to slow down to appreciate people and the little things. This Christmas I'm full of gratitude. I'm thankful to be home for Christmas, to spend time with my parents, to be in our little country home where there's trails and trees and beautiful lights, and to spend time with God and just slow down. Because God and family- they're the things that matter.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Journey

On road trips when I get impatient driving, my brother calmly reminds me "it's not about the destination but the journey." This is hard for me to remember- because I want to be there so badly. I want to get it down and do it right, right now. I want to be a loving person, I want to be like Jesus, and sometimes detours and oceans and mountains make finding the "narrow way" quite the adventure.

Lately I've been wandering on my little journey. I've been changing. I've been growing. And I don't know the destination- it's not crystal clear- but I know who I'm traveling with. Sometimes that's enough.

I was talking to a mentor the other day and she told me "Your going through a transition phase." And while I agree, I have to laugh because I feel like my whole life has been a big transition. There's always been alot of change- much because I like running- I like exploring- and then life also happens..  different states, different countries, different friends, different majors, different hobbies, personalities.. Man praise God I have the same loving family and same heavenly Father! And I'm so thankful that while I am constantly learning new ways to see God, He stays the same every day.

My journey with God started a long time ago- and I have my family to thank for that. For a long time though my relationship with God was what I learned at church, it was my parents', it was the stories I was told, it wasn't the God I knew. I strived and strived, the walk looked right, but Jesus wasn't my best friend. When I get baptized at age 12, I remembered feeling strongly convicted that I had to give up myself to follow God but not knowing how or what to give up. I made lists of ways to do better, and for a while I felt my spiritual achievements were an A plus. For so long I lived a walk with God striving.. but day by day I was reminded of the ways I needed to grow and the weaknesses in my personality and individuality. I wasn't truly experiencing freedom and knowing the joy of walking with Christ.

It wasn't until college, that Peru happened, camp drama went down, boy drama went down. Life went down and up at the same time. I knew God was asking me to switch majors to nursing and I was so mad about that. Yet after feeling broken about so many things in my life, I found peace surrendering everything to God for the first time. And as I did, I let go of the expectations to what a good Christian looks like was and the things I was expected to do, and started living more authentically. And it was messy. My journey got messy. I hurt people around me, I doubted God's plan's for my life, I made alot of mistakes... but I saw Jesus clearer. And He changed me, He never left me, He always provided for me.

The thing is I don't know exactly who I am; I don't know exactly what God's doing. I know He has alot of work to do. But I'm so thankful I'm not who I was 5 years ago spiritually. I'm not the same girl who always had to say the right things and act the same ways, I am finally free to actually live genuinely. I've received alot of criticism from alot of people since this transition took place. My conservative friends point out all the rules I'm not following close enough. And my liberal friends tell me I'm acting fake and legalistic. And sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in the middle. I don't know yet where I stand on little details and that's ok.

Rick Warren says that "Transformation is a process. As life happens there will be tons of ups and downs, moments on mountain tops and moments in deep valleys of despair." But the God I know is not only the God of the valleys but of the mountains. He swims through Oceans, fasts in deserts, and will climb the highest peak just to reveal His love to His children. Isaiah 43:2 says " When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the rivers they will not overflow you, and through the fires you will not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you."

We each have journeys and they are all different. It is easy to look at someone and judge their journey but it is harder to do your own personal journey the best that you can.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Overcoming

If you've ever had a nightmare you can't break, you like me know that fear is one of the most powerful influences in the world. I think it must be one of Satan's favorite mechanisms.
Because it literally puts us in stagnation, we tremble and freeze, for a moment our mind is overcome by darkness instead of the peace that God calls us to embrace by experiencing faith in Him.

There's so many things to be afraid of. Natural disaster, shootings, rape, what others think of you, not being good enough, hospitals, failing...
You could live your whole life being afraid. And some people do.
But yet God speaks "Fear not" 365 times.

I've been listening to Joyce Myers and I really recommend her for Biblical psychology talks on positive thinking and how you can claim God's promises and let them transform your life. One of the things she says is that we can't just think about the things that come to our brain. When we receive a thought we have to selectively choose whether or not we want to meditate on that thought based on whether it is in line with God's character.

People are always gonna say things- people are gonna hurt you. There's always going to be avid fails in your personal life and ways you could have done better. And there's going to be tragedy, there's going to be sickness, pain, and death. Yet the way we think about those things will transform our life. We will either strengthen ourselves or weaken ourselves by our thought patterns and we have to think about what were thinking about in order to overcome.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says we have to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

We have so many promises from God that He is going to sustain us, that He will never leave us. He commands us not to be afraid because he knows fear will hurt us. He knows that this world is a war- that it's intense and scary at times- but He also knows that He will win in the end. If we believe He is powerful, and we know that He loves us, we can call upon Him to overcome fear in any area of our life and He will be faithful.

Isaiah 41:10 says "Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

One of the things that helps me not to be afraid is to think about situations when I've been afraid in the past and how God has helped me overcome. There's been so many things in my personal life that have been really daunting for me and yet Christ has never left me nor forsaken me and that gives me courage. God is a kind Father so I think although at times it feels like He's asking us to jump into deep waters.. the truth is if we look back at our pasts we can see that he baby steps us. He proves His faithfulness for us over and over again by teaching us how to swim in the kiddy pool, the middle pool, jumping off the side, and then finally the bigger bodies of water and bigger jumps. But He's gotten us there, and He's prepared us. And the amazing thing is He never leaves us. He still says I'll swim with you, I'll do it with you, I'll carry you when your too weak to do it on your own."

Fear is real at times, but God's love and faithfulness is a gift that we can choose to receive. I don't know what areas you may face fear in, but I know that God is a courageous Father who fights for and with His children. There is nothing that is too big or too daunting for Christ and when you are on his team, you will be able to overcome even the scariest battles.

I pray that we will find peace. That in a world that is dark, we would see the light. That when we are afraid, instead of looking around or at ourselves, that we would look to Christ. That the spirit of peace and the joy of Christ would invade the atmospheres around where we live and work. That we would be people that know the power and love of God and that the confidence of being His child would change our lives.

Thanks for reading, and doing life with me. I'm so far from having it all together, but I know that Christ's grace is more than enough for the both of us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

To my future pediatric patient



I can't wait to see your beautiful little face.
I am working nights, so I get to watch you sleep, to help you fall asleep with peaceful dreams
I hope that I can be a nurse that helps you heal
That provides you not only with medicine of drugs
But of laughter and words of encouragement
To bring you hope

I hope that I can be different
I hope that I will be the nurse that truly listens
I want you to tell me your stories
When you are afraid
And when you are really excited

I can't wait to play games together
To try to cheer you up with songs and dances
I hope you will think I'm funny
I hope you will think I'm kind

I know your mommy and daddy will be really worried
I hope they trust that I will take the best care of you
I will try to give them the knowledge to make educated choices
I promise to teach them how to take care of you better

I know that I'm only a baby nurse
I know that I will make mistakes
And at times be slow

But I promise to do my best
I promise to care for you like you are my own child
Most of all I can't wait
I can't wait to meet you
I can't wait to know you
I can't wait to pray for you
I can't wait to love you

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Eating trash

"Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?" (MOH p443)

I echo the question.. Can one watch Netflix movies and not be affected? Can one's mind not echo secular music's tunes when you are hearing the lyrics? And can you really keep from changing closer like the people you surround yourself with?

We are influenced by so much around us and so often I think we dismiss bad influences and social media without considering how much they are affecting our thought process. If Satan could entertain us with corrupt influences, he wouldn't need to do much more as our minds would be effected, our days would be distracted, and our media would become more reflected than the Word of God.

I have a friend that's trapped in patterns of escapism and it's really out of control. She can pass whole days with movies in her pajamas in her room. It's her way of dealing with the emotional stress and pain. Yet it's so dangerous. It's literally killing her spirit.

Ellen White writes that "We need to understand more fully the value of the truths of the Word of God and the danger of allowing our minds to be diverted from them by the great deceiver. (MOH)" She says that through sin the whole human organism is deranged, the mind is perverted, and the imagination corrupted.

I think being aware of the daily battle is the first step realizing that we do have a lion who is seeking to devour us and who loves distracting us, entertaining us, and corrupting our thoughts. The devil knows whether we are visual, or auditory, or even kinesthetic and he is the father of perversion.

We all must engage in our own personal battle and warfare: ultimately for own soul. And I think we can only do that if we are plugged into the Word of God and prayer. Yet I think even if we are praying and reading our Bible, we can't just play with the Devil's toys. We can't be engaging in the same sort of false worship, idols, and distractions because it is far too easy for us to get trapped. And we so quickly lose focus on Christ's calling for us- to preach the good news and get ready for His second coming.

Ellen White writes that "We must turn away from a thousand topics that invite attention. There are matters that consume time and arouse inquiry, but end in nothing. The highest interests demand the close attention and energy that are so often given to comparatively insignificant things (MOH)." And she continues that there's a science of Christianity that we need to be studying- the study of how to be like Jesus- which is deeper, broader, and higher than any earthly study. We must become disciplined to learn more of Christ and not distracted by worthless things.

It's such a good reminder for me and I hope it helps you too- to just purify our input- make sure that we are not letting any corrupt or perverted thoughts in our lives. We don't want to eat trash and we want to better model Christ's purity.




Friday, November 3, 2017

Vulnerability

It was about a year and a half ago and I had experienced a rough day all around. I went to work at the gym and was trying to study for my upcoming exam when my boss came in. He was clearly not in a good mood and proceeded to yell at me for a few things I didn't notice. After he left I ran into the bathroom and started sobbing uncontrollably. It was there that I met a plump kind lady who took me into her arms and told me "it's gonna be ok". She hugged me and prayed over me and offered me such love... And now a year and a half later we are great friends and talk and encourage each other to walk closer to Christ.

I never would have imagined becoming friends with this lady. But sometimes the bond made in brokenness and understanding- even if it's forced vulnerablity- makes for some of the closest and genuine relationships.

Vulnerability changed my life for the better. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made and yet continue to struggle to make daily in my intimate relationships and also just in school and community.

It's really hard to be vulnerable- and I think that's something all of us can relate too for a few different reasons. It's hard to be a genuine, authentic version of yourself because you know that rejection will hurt more because it will feel more personable. It's hard to be open about your struggles when you are a Christian or Christian leader and don't want to let other people down or lower their expectations of you.  It's hard to be vulnerable when you have to be the friend to lead in vulnerability..

It's easier to say "You go first". You be vulnerable first, and I'll help you through. It's harder to say I'm going to trust you first. I'm going to be vulnerable with you because I value our relationship and cherish honesty. I want to tell you about my struggles and challenges in walking with God in hopes that one day you can trust me too and I can be there for you.

I moved around alot growing up so I always had the struggle of making new friends and adapting to new circumstances and I quickly learned that if I wasn't vulnerable, people couldn't really hurt me. If I was strong and independent, and didn't need them, I could just do whatever I wanted and a be a "nice loner". But when I stopped being authentic and vulnerable, I stopped connecting with genuine friends. I made shallow mutual friendships that were give and take, there for you when it was convenient, but nothing more or deep. I made convenient friendships but I longed for intimacy and someone to actually see me for who I was- not just the way I acted.

When we live without vulnerability- we unknowingly deny intimacy and deep connection. It makes it too easy to come and go,  to run away, and far too easy to be invisible. And in a way, it's our own fault.

The first time I was forced to be super vulnerable was when I spent a year in Peru as a student missionary. Living with fifteen other college students, in a tiny house, there was no place to hide or run. We were forced to endure together, forced to see each other in the good and bad, and we were given the choice to love each other despite our flaws and weaknesses. And that year was one of the most healing years in my life- because it changed everything I knew about friendship and relationships. I was forced to choose vulnerability or struggle alone- and because I chose vulnerability I met two of my best friends that I now still cherish. The missionaries who lived with me are still like family to me. We talk, we joke, and we pray for each other- seeing the whole of each other's characters gave us the power to love each other more deeply.

It's really hard to be vulnerable but I know that if I want to follow the example of Jesus- who shared so much with His disciples- risking and facing the hurt of their betrayal at times.. it is necessary. I know that Christ calls me to live a genuine life of love and authenticity.  I know that the world can see past the fake smiles and that the only way to reach someone is to love them with your heart and to be vulnerable with them. I know that God is the God of relationships, the God of healing and hope. And I know friends, that if we become more vulnerable with each other, in the church especially, we can do so much more to help each other walk toward Jesus.

Let's take away the mask that we have to have it all together to follow God. Let's remember that God blesses the broken, comforts those who are hurting, and wants us to carry each others' burdens. If we're too scared to share, how can we be mentored or carried? My prayer is that we would grow in vulnerability in order for our love for our brothers and sisters in the church to be deeper and more genuine.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Life Update- nursing job

He does, time and time again, God answers my prayers. He comes through for me. He fills the longings of my heart and He has blessed me far beyond my wildest dreams and imaginations. He's given me the opportunity to travel around the world telling people about Jesus, to learn how to farm yucca, to overcome my fears of the medical field. He's taken me to Alaska and taught me how to fly planes, taken me to the middle of the ocean to drive antique boats, and backpack the mountains. He's given me the bestest friends I could ever imagine and today He answered my prayer and helped me get the nursing job I've always wanted.

I just want to praise Him because God is so good to me.

You see, the last 2 months have been a struggle. They have brought much waiting, alot of questions, and a few interviews. I got an interview for a pediatric job and I got called back but the hospital didn't respond... I waited and waited. I tried to follow up, but I literally heard nothing.

A few other hospitals other than children's have been calling me and asking for interviews but I didn't want them. My friends and family thought that I was limiting my options by putting all my hopes in pediatrics- when there is such limited jobs here in Chattanooga. But I was waiting. Finally today I scheduled an interview for next Monday with a different hospital but I was worried because I really didn't want the job they would offer me as much as a pediatrics job. I prayed that God's will would be done but I felt like I needed to work with kids.

And today my heart literally almost stopped beating when I got a call for the pediatric nursing job. I have always wanted to take care of sick little kids and babies- nothing could make me more excited!

I'm beyond terrified and excited to be a peds nurse. I'm excited because I get to take care of babies as well as teenagers. I'm excited to hear their stories. I'm excited to encourage them, to teach them better ways to manage their illness, to pray for them.

I'm terrified because nursing is a life or death job. You can't take it lightly because medication errors take around 100,000 deaths every year. It's a huge responsibility. I don't feel qualified and I know I have so much to learn. But I know God will teach me so much.