Thursday, November 23, 2017

Hungry on Thanksgiving

I don't know about you, but my family goes all out for Thanksgiving. And by all out- I mean every dessert, every food item, decorations, all the company.. we truly have everything. But aside from the happy picture, I see the stress that this celebration often brings to the family. It's so hard on my grandma and grandpa who cook and put on the whole event, there's often arguing and disagreements, lots of gluttony and stuffing of the faces. And after everyone eats food and lays around watching tv...

It's tempting to feel a little unsatisfied.

How could this be possible right that on the day when we are supposed to be most Thankful and have the most food, we could experience such heart longing? But yet the fact that Black Friday (greed day) proceeds thanks day validates the fact that there's still a desire for more.

But when your stomach is too full. When you realize your family is leaving home. When the reality of your real job, and homework, and your singleness sets in-- 

You can take comfort in the fact that Christ still has a feast for you.

If your tempted to say I'm not thankful anymore, I'm still hungry, I still desire more- it's ok. You may just have feasted on the wrong thing and need a little redirection. You see the Father teaches us that nothing of this world will ever satisfy, but that He can make our hearts full and overflowing. And this friend is something to rejoice in, this gives me hope.

Matthew 5:6 gives us a promise: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." And John 6:27 asks us not to work for food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life which only the Son of God has given.
Psalm 22:6 says it again that the afflicted will eat and be satisfied; that those who seek Him will praise the Lord.

Ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you.

If your hungry, stop stuffing your face with food. Stop watching movies, stop flirting aimlessly, stop appeasing your sinful appetite. Instead I encourage you to ask the Lord to fill you- to fill you with a double measure of His Holy Spirit. To fill you up with His love, to fill you up with His peace, to give you mercy in the way you treat your family. The Lord promises that His hand is not too short to save, that His ear will always heal us, and that He is the Messiah who can truly fulfill our hearts desire.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Practicing gratitude

I came across a sign that said "Practice gratitude" and it made me stop to think. I mean people are constantly saying be thankful, and count your blessings...
After all tis the season to be thankful
But we often forget that thankfulness and gratitude is a character trait that we have to practice and perfect.

Yesterday night my family went out to eat all together and my grandma pulled me aside, to ask me if I could sit at the kids table with my cousins. And despite the fact that I love kids, I was just like Really? Do things ever change? Will I ever not be ten years old to you? Is it really too big of a leap of faith to think that I could eat dinner with the adults and my merrily married cousins?

To make it even worse, our lovely Asian waiter was spraying around alcohol and "fun juice." When he came to me he got out the little kids high C bottle and asked me if I wanted to spray. I was like you think I'm crazy? How old do you think I am anyways?.. I mean I don't want alcohol but I definitely don't want some red kiddy juice sprayed in my mouth.

Yet as soon as these negative thoughts crossed my head, I realized that I really needed an attitude change. After all, this Thanksgiving might be one of my last chances to spend time with family and enjoy a normal holiday break. I thought about the fact that it's not that bad to look young and get out of having to say no to alcohol all the time, and how much it's great to have my little cousins to play with. Not to mention the way my family takes care of me, how they are constantly trying to take me shopping or do crafts, or go do activities that I want to do. The way that they love me and try to do as much as possible for me is so kind and beyond.

The truth is.. I have way too many blessings. I have a million things to thank God for,  and no excuses why I should not be practicing gratitude this season.

If your like me and your real with yourself. You have no excuses either.
 Gratitude isn't just making lists- especially about things of this world.
But gratitude must start in the core of who we are as individuals and in our Father's arms...

If I didn't know Jesus, it might be hard to be grateful. But if I've experienced the blessing of being set free by His grace and love, it should be easy.

Of all characters in the Bible, Mary Magdalene is a perfect model of what it means to say thank you.
She knelt down at Jesus' feet and washed his feet with her tears. If that isn't gratitude I don't know what is?

I have to ask myself the question of if Jesus were here with me right now. Where would I be? Would my heart be full to the brim of love that I would be washing his feet? Or would I be working, running around trying to impress him.. or asking him for more things.

Why was Mary so grateful? Why did she wash Jesus' feet with her tears?
She did it because Jesus saved her. She did it because Christ gave her freedom, took away her shame, and need to impress, and gifted her with a brand new heart. Jesus healed her- a women who was previously under the control of the devil- Mary was set free. She was offered grace and mercy. She was given new hope.
She new that she had new life and she knew that she didn't deserve it.

At the core of who I am, I am like Mary.
I am a woman who does not deserve God's love and grace. I was set free- bought with a price. He saw through my shame, the ways I failed, and chose to set me free from trying to live by the expectations of this world.

I do not deserve the love of Christ. I do not deserve the hope He gives me daily.
I once was in bondage but I'm now set free.
And for that I am grateful.

So I will practice saying thanks like Mary.  I will practice gratitude.

I want to be willing to stop whatever I'm doing, if it means I can sit at my Savior's feet.
I want to be unashamed of being different, to not look around the room wondering if my spontaneous praise is acceptable.
Most of all I want my heart to constantly be reminded of my Savior and His love, that the gratitude of His sacrifice, would transform the way I live and love.

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.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

With Pain

The other day I talked to a woman who was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused for months.  She cried and trembled, looking down ashamed, as she told me her "story". Is it truly your story if someone else is the main character?

I looked at her composed. My heart felt deep compassion but I didn't want to show too much feeling. I affirmed her and shook inwardly at the words and terrors she described. Yet shortly after I told her goodbye- and without even a hug- I wished her safety. I walked to my car, turned the keys, and started driving.

Soon after I met another woman going through disease and pain: the bruises on her body and the scratches on her arms told their story of affliction. And yet shortly after, I found myself driving home in the dark, asking God yet again why and how.

Why so much pain and what do I with do it Lord?

How do I deal with the pain that I'm starting to encounter more and more daily? The pain that is not just my personal struggles and brokenness, not just my families burdens, nor my friends, but the pain that my clients face. The stories they tell me, the disease I meet, the expectation I encounter to be able to deal with pain in a competent manner.

I never expected being a nurse to be so hard. Sure, it's easy to treat someone. But it's harder to care. Because sometimes the hurt they are facing threatens to rip your heart in two as well.

It was among the why's and the crying out to God that I can't handle this, that I heard God whisper to me. He's such a kind, gentle God and He offered me so much reassurance as He drew close and said

Give it to me Brooke

I want your pain.

It's too much for you to bear alone. I didn't call you to do this by yourself. I don't want you too strong. I like you weak because I want to do this in you.

And as I drove home in the dark, I asked Jesus again to be the light. To be the light whether I'm in the hospital or in the clinic, whether I'm at school, or with my family. To take the pain so I don't have too. To break my heart so it can be softer.

I went home in the middle of the night and prayed to Jesus to sleep. And sleep I did. I slept away the hurt, slept away the tragedy I had just seen, and woke up in the morning praising the God who takes away all pain.

Friends, I don't know what pain you are experiencing. I don't know what battles your life brings or who is sick in your family. I don't know your depression, your scars, your wounds. But I do know a Healer. I know a God that is willing and loving and gentle and kind.

And the prayer of my heart is that I would be a nurse that doesn't have my own skill but that has Christ in my heart. That Christ would do all my work. That Christ would take care of all the pain. That Christ would heal all the wounds.

Friday, November 3, 2017


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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On family

No family is perfect, but I am beyond blessed to have been raised in a family that prioritizes Christ's love and grace above all else. Both my mother and father have prayed for me, nurtured me, and taught me what it means to grow emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Through my parent's hardships, they have shown me the perserverence and strength a follower of God should have. They have demonstrated to me what it means to be generous and to give to others before providing for oneself.

Yet so many of my friends have not grown up in families like mine. Their parents do not love each other. One parent may be abusive and leave the relationship. And often the wounds their children carry run deep and affect how they parent their own kids. These are some thoughts from the book ministry of Healing written by Ellen White on the role of mothers and fathers in impacting children's growth.

White says that what the parents are- thus to the great extent- the children will be. That children often receive their dispositions and appetites, mental health and moral tendencies, mental and spiritual endowments even. And because what a great responsibility it is to raise a child and nurture them- mothers and fathers should begin preparing emotionally and spiritual for their child before they are even born. It is said that parents must carefully consider each factor and influence in a child's wellbeing. Each person that is involved in their life, how and where they are spending their time, their habits.. White writes that too much importance cannot be placed upon the early training of children. She also writes that the more quiet and simple the life of a child the more favorable it will be- that the mom should be gentle and unhurried when dealing with her kids.

The mother should be kind and tender, cheerful, and encouraging. She should work to make her home a place where love dwells, and "where expressed in looks, words, and acts is a place where angels delight to make their presence." She should be the comforter of her children and should sympathize with her children and take time to patiently instruct them as they need.

The father should be the head of the household but Ellen White teaches that the husband should "lead softly" to learn to comfort and support his wife. He should give his wife love and sympathy and help train his children in discipline. The husband should be controlled by love and fear of God so he can guide the feet of His children in the right way.  He should be as the priest of the household- gathering the family together for family worship.

She asks the husband and wife to study each other's happiness- working to do little things to bring each other joy. Most importantly, she reminds both fathers and mothers to not fail to gather the family around God's altar asking for the guardianship of holy angels.