Sunday, October 15, 2017

Why I shouldn't be a nurse

There's some days that remind me of the hundred reasons I used to never want to be a nurse: iv's being just one. I tried to practice IV's today with my friend Ariane and after watching her stick herself four times for practice I decided to be brave and get it a go. Let's just say the needle didn't get more than 1/10th of a centimeter in my skin before I was screaming like a baby. It's a mental thing I know.

Reason #1: I'm scared of everything medical.
Reason #2: I hate hospitals.
Reason #3: I think body fluid is digusting: poop, pee, throw up. It's just nasy.
Reason #4: I don't like looking at naked people. Profound huh? But really it bothers me.

A couple years ago, I listed all these reasons and more to God. I listed and listed and listed reasons. Countless reasons why I should be in charge of my future career. Reasons why I knew what the best plans were for me. Excuses why I couldn't surrender everything to Jesus. Why I couldn't overcome my fears to follow Christ. I told Jesus how I felt and what I wanted, and He said, No Brooke I want you to do this. I want you to be a nurse.

This Friday I sign papers for my first nursing job at a clinic. I've been completing training online and I'm finally done. And I'm nervous and excited, and everything else. But to be honest, I have NO regrets for following God and doing nursing. It is one area that God has had total sovereignty in my life. He has consistently came through for me time and time again giving me little miracles and encouragements. I can't even begin to describe to you the ways God has been faithful to me. Not to mention the ways he has developed and changed my character through nursing.

Although even today, I can continue to list reasons why I still don't feel qualified or capable to be a nurse, I can also list to you reasons why I am a nurse and why I love nursing.

Reason #1: You get paid to care for people on their worst days.
Reason #2: You get to provide people encouragement and hope.
Reason #3: You can hold babies and children.
Reason #4: God gives me strength when I am weak and is the doctor when I have no skill.

You better bet if you get hurt I'm going to be running over to you, super excited to practice my nursing skills and help you feel better. I love it!

How often we limit what God can do in our lives by focusing on ourselves. God wants to do things in our life that are scary, even impossible for us to do on our own. If we trust Him, He will help us. He will never leave us on our own. But through His power He will do great things.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Wisdom

What if you could have anything you wanted, right now? Anything. It's nice to think that we would ask for something like love, or peace, or wisdom.. but truly our desires are shown by our inward thoughts, silent prayers, and even actions right?

I think it's easy to focus on something temporary like a job or opportunity or even a person that I might want to get to know better or date- than to think about developing these character traits and spend so much time investing and praying for them until that trait is perfected.

Like wisdom? I don't know if I would think to ask for wisdom. But then after you read King Solomon you are like well wisdom was a great idea, just look at his temple and kingdom and the way he reigned with Godly knowledge.. that is until women polluted his mind and he became not so wise. Man you read so many crazy stories in the Bible about men that were devout, they seem foundationally grounded in Christ, and yet these same men get so destroyed by women and love or beauty. King David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, and now King Solomon. I think it is so important who we choose to invest our time and relationships with, because who we marry will either bring us closer to Christ or take us further away.

But back to wisdom.. Solomon was given a wisdom that surpassed all other men. In 1 Kings 10:23 it says "the whole world sought audience with Solomon to heart the wisdom God had put in his heart." His wisdom was validated and respected by Christian men and non-Christians alike and even when he was tested by Queen Sheba, she came away praising the Lord God.

Where do we often look to obtain wisdom? Maybe we don't spend enough time looking in the right places or even seeking it? When I read Solomon, before and after he asks for wisdom, I notice that he is very humble. That his wisdom seems to bring a greater respect for God and a greater humility.
And this is often contrary to those who are wise in this day and time because they tend to get cocky.

When Solomon prays for wisdom, he tells God that he is like a little child not knowing how to carry out the reign as King. He also tells God that he is his servant, and that he longs for a discerning heart and to distinguish between right and wrong.

It says that God was pleased with Solomon and gave him a wise and discerning heart. In verse 5:29 it says "wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding, as measureles as the sand on the seashore. It says with his wisdom he was able to speak proverbs, and songs, and describe plant life, and teach about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. I think it's really cool to note these details because I always used to think about Solomon's wisdom just in the area of ruling and general knowledge but it shows that God values wisdom about His creation, that He values creativity, that Solomon was wise right-brained and left-brained and just learned to appreciate God's creation.

I think sometimes it's hard to find men or women of God who are wise. Solomon knew where He got his wisdom from and who his temple was for. That it was not by his own knowledge, his temple was not for himself to enjoy, but that it was a place for God to reign. And how can we obtain more wisdom in our life if we are looking anywhere but Christ? Truly we are foolish if we do not aknowledge our littleness and stupidity compared to the God of the Universe. And I think one amazing thing about the story of Solomon is I think God wants to teach us. He wants to make us more knowledgable. To give us wisdom to walk closer to Him, to understand life, to help relationships heal and not break. We just have to ask Him.

Sometimes it's difficult to know how to pray or what to ask God but I really like Solomon's prayer.

"Praise be to the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised.
Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.
May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers
May he never leave us nor forsake us
May he turn our hearts to him
To walk in all his ways
And to keep the commands, decrees, and regulations he gave our fathers
And may these words of mine , which I have prayed before the Lord
Be near to the Lord our God day and night
That he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people of Israel
According to each day's need
So that all the people of this earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other
But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God
To live by his decrees and obey his commands as as this time."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Numb

Exactly 4 years ago, I wrote this when I was in Peru as a student missionary. It was a terrible time in my year when I got a severe allergic reaction to lemons that made both of my hands swell, blister, and ache for 2 weeks. No doctor knew what was wrong and I almost had to be sent back to the states.  I read this post and think it's worth a re-read. I really miss Peru and can't wait til I can go back into the mission field. It's so easy to forget..

"Love is not free. People who love are vulnerable- they give a piece of themselves away to someone else. It's a worthy donation- but still painful at times. Love is always worth the sacrifice and the risk."

Luke 7:32 says "They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not cry.

I never before understood these verses. They confused me. But lately as I have been struggling through various sickness and ailments my heart has been inclined to an interesting thought about them: many people in our generation are numb..

The Bible warns us much about the End Times and how the people of the last days will be asleep (the Laodicean church).  The Laodiceans will be lukewarm- not passionately devoted to God yet still claiming to follow His ways. I believe that Jesus is coming soon and we are the Laodicean church- I believe that we are sleeping- and often numb to emotions and reality.

Many Americans no longer cry- it has become a feminine thing for men to cry and even many girls these days don't cry. Many Americans watch horror movies- and they have no affect on them. Movies full of violence, shooting, and suffering- yet we don't seem to care- because we've seen it before.
We see so many charities asking for different donations- yet to most of them we simply walk away- because we've seen so many statistics about children dying already, we've watched the movies and seen the pictures of hungry children in Africa, we've heard about all the third world problems too much already- and we're numb to it. We feel like we've seen it all, we feel like we know it.. and instead of living in it or trying to comprehend it.. we close our eyes.

We have a wound and we have many ailments today, yet many of us are choosing not to deal with it. We're choosing to close our eyes and not think about the people hurting around us and the needs facing most of the world. Our feelings have been numbed- so that things don't hurt us so much. Yet as well as our feelings have been shortened and depth of them stolen- our love for each other has been worn down. Our love has been shattered to a noncaring, comfortable complacency and the genuine care and emotion has far too often been abandoned on the sidelines. Often we no longer feel the need to do anything to help others hurting around us. We don't accept the responsibility to help others. We look away and often whisper in our hearts "I hope someone else helps them."

Serving as a missionary here in Pucallpa, this is what I've been learning. I've been learning that I created walls around my heart. Every time I was hurt, I received a wound and for every wound that was received I let most of my wounds scab- creating a protection from the outside harm and trying to protect myself from being hurt again. I'm learning that I am far too numb to sufferings and calamities that are a reality to millions daily.

I believe that we've all created walls similar to scabs around our hearts from things that have hurt us. Maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend that broke us, a family member that suffered an illness, a statistic that broke our heart, a child that made us cry.. There's nothing wrong with these wounds. Yet we cannot let them make us numb. Christ Jesus wants to expose all of our wounds to the light. He wants to open our hearts and destroy all of the scars this world has made in us. He wants to take them away- and that will be a painful process- but He wants to create in us beautiful, loving hearts like His own. Hearts that feel suffering as the one who suffers. Hearts that genuinely care and genuinely love, and are willing to risk themselves for others. Hearts that have true compassion and the desire to move and make the world better for someone else.

Here in Peru, God is opening and remaking my heart and I'm so thankful. Because of some of my sufferings here, I'm able to see what most of the world suffers through daily and often. Most of the world experiences hunger pains, diseases, illnesses, malaria, yellow fever, aids... yet most of my life I have been protected from these sicknesses (praise God). But here I've prayed that God open my eyes to the things He sees and breaks my heart for the things that break His.. and slowly God is doing that in me. I don't believe God wants me to be sick- and I have faith that He will be healing me very soon. Yet what I am grateful too is that this year God is giving me glimpses of what life is like for many people in third world countries and opening my eyes to some of their sufferings.

For me to be able to love like God, my heart has to be opened. The wound has to be an open flesh wound that is healed by Christ Jesus and Him alone. If I have walls I can't love as strongly.When I am vulnerable, that is when I can truly give and sacrifice my all to another being attempting to portray to them what Jesus Christ did for me in Calvary.

I want God to create in me a new and purified heart that sees others the way He sees them. I want God to love me so much so that I can show others a love that pierces to the inmost of their beings and shows them their worth in Christ. I want God to change me and destroy all my selfishness from within- remaking me into someone compassionate and self-sacrificing.

I pray that you desire the same from your God and that God opens your eyes so that you can see yourself in His image and others thru His eyes of love and compassion.


Heal the mind; help the body

Many people do not understand the connection between the mind and the body and how our beliefs and thoughts impact our actions and physical health.

When people go to hospitals, there are many people drawing labs, performing procedures, and researching their physical systems. But often little thought goes into the individuals' emotional health and spiritual health which play such a big part in healing and wellbeing.

Stress, even scientists understand, is a huge cause in disease. Unforgiveness, anger, emotional pain can all cause physical pain to the body. Ellen White writes that many of the diseases from which people suffer are a result of mental depression (White, p 243). Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, and distrust can all promote cellular destruction. Disease can also be worsened by the imagination and people's perspectives.

How then do we help protect our minds and heal others?

The simple answer is we guard ourselves with the Word of God. We protect our hearts by beholding what is good and beautiful (Christ's love) and we learn to put aside natural passions in order to grow closer to Jesus' loving spirit. Then we witness to the love and joy of following Christ to those around us.

Truly God alone is the only one  who can heal the mind and we have to have alot of Godly wisdom when trying to help others deal with diseases caused by the mind. Often we don't understand a persons' background and struggles. We don't know their character and personality, their coping mechanisms which will play a huge role in how their mind responds to stressors and even disease. We don't know where their spiritual walk is or if they ever met Jesus.

Someone who is discouraged emotionally needs tender sympathy. Friendship and love should be shown and the person should be gently led to the healing hands of Jesus. White writes that
"Sympathy and tact will often prove a greater benefit to the sick than will the most skillful treatment given in a cold, indifferent way."

It is important to remember that happiness for this life and even for heaven depends on fixing the mind on cheerful things- that are of God. "It is not wise to look to ourselves and study our emotions. If we do this the enemy will present difficulties and temptations that weaken faith and destroy courage. Closely to study our emotions and give way to our feelings is to entertain doubt and entangle ourselves in perplexity. We are to look away from self to Jesus. (MOH p. 251 ).

"Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise. (MOH) " We must thank God for the things in our life that are good which are from Him and we must let His peace rule in our hearts. Let us forget our difficulties and personal struggle and praise God for the opportunity to live for Him. As we bless others around us, we receive blessings of kindness.

Instead of groaning about our struggles and stressing over the obstacles or uncertainties of life, let us stop what we are doing and thank God for the opportunity to breathe. Thank Him for your health, thank him for the sun, thank Him for the people in your life that make you smile and laugh. And ask Him to help you heal your heart. He wants too and He loves too and as He heals our hearts and emotional health, we will find more energy and abundant life as well as reason and desire to encourage the people around us.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

You can have it all

I love this video "Have it All" by Brian Johnson where an artist sculpts a human heart and it's intricate design. It's honestly so amazing and really represents the work of sanctification and healing that God desires to do in us daily.

You see in this video, there are so many times I look at the artist and I'm like "what are you doing?"  The heart looked good to me the way it was, and now you're throwing on more white concrete. Their are stages of this video where if you stopped it, you might think the heart was even more broken then when it had begun. But at the end you see a masterpiece- redefined, recreated- by the Master Artist and it's nothing short of beautiful.

And I truly, truly believe that this is the work Christ loves. He loves changing hearts and he wants to start with ours. He is seeking us day by day and asking us "Will you let me have it all?" Will you give me your heart so I can change it into something totally different that represents my name and my glory?

It's so easy for us as Americans in a busy world that pushes productivity and making money, to start to create idols for ourselves and long for things that won't fulfill us. These idols can be anything from working out, to eating, to searching for love from guys or friends, to being caught up in how we look or our careers. And as we search for these things the devil wants to get us hooked on the material benefits and the temporary relief and pleasure these things provide.

But even when our minds are distracted and our hearts are broken from the world letting us down, Jesus sees. He sees us in our brokenness and he loves us and he tells us "Come to me and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28). "Come to me and I will give you water that will quench your desires" (John 4). Come to me, and let me have your heart. So I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).

The best decision I ever made was to choose to give Jesus everything. Jesus came into my life and literally changed everything I knew- my personality, my career, my desires. That doesn't mean my life is perfect- often I look at it and fall so short of where I feel I am supposed to be. But what I rejoice in, what I love about Jesus, is he never gives up on us! Never. It's never too late to go back to Jesus and let Him be the healer of your heart, soul, and mind. He promises us that He will always begin what He started if we let Him.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tribute to the Gym

Here's a tribute to creative writing and the days when I'm working at the desk at the gym busting up laughing. Here's to you, the people who can't seem to get their act together on gym day, and the rest of us who try not laugh at you. Crazy things you may encounter at the gym:

1. Noises You hear so many straining and strange noises that you feel should be limited to the bedroom and you get totally cool with ignoring it.. until you hear "that guy" There's always one who needs a pep talk on proper weight limits.

2. Boyfriends and girlfriends. After a few sessions on couple leg stretching you watch patterns of guys try to teach their girlfriends to do pull ups and bench press.. to no avail.

3. Spotters. Your just chilling at the gym when some super buff dude of America asks you to spot him on his 200 lb chest press and your just like bro I can't hold that.

4. Future heart attack of Americas. These are people who you hear huffing and puffing 50 feet away from their treadmill and you have  to pray will survive their workout safely. I applaud you 565 pound man but please let's heart attack outside my fitness floor when I'm not on duty.

5. The confused. They take their time walking around the gym like a maze runner and occasionally ask questions about exercise machines that don't exist.

6. The Biceps Flexer. It never ceases to amaze me how proud men are of their biceps. They just can't seem to overcome the temptation to flex for a few seconds--minutes-- in the big weight room mirrors. Once in a while they even ask me for a measurement or to take a picture LOL.

7. Barbie. I applaud this girl for straightening her hair and having makeup on point even when she works out. How she leaves her hair down, and doesn't get sweaty, while doing her workout makes me want to give her beauty points on strategy.

8. The pounder. It's like once you put on the earphones, you don't realize that suddenly letting go of machinery can create loud noises. These people just enjoy tension- the push and pull- and bang bang seems to bring them joy.

So thanks guys, you are the best, because you make me laugh so hard watching you work out at the gym.

Generation gap

I work at the gym about 20 hours a week and one of my favorite parts of my job is talking and socializing with some of my gym friends. I'm finishing up college- and by gym friends- you may think that I meet alot of college people, maybe cute guys- what not. But you might be surprised that by far and large, the gym friends I am referring too are 80% older than my grandma. It's the old people who really make me laugh and smile during the day.

See, I don't know what happened between their culture and mine. Maybe old age just makes you a friendlier person... but I know almost every gym member over the age of 40 that comes in the gym. Most of them know my name, they know that I'm studying nursing, and they love to tell me about their grandkids or how old they are turning. It's just natural, that when they walk past the desk, they say "Good morning." They smile and they ask me how I'm doing. And it's great. It's not creepy, it's not forced, most of them don't try to talk for decades- I honestly really appreciate it and we begin to develop a relationship together.

Part of my job working at the gym is to be friendly. I'm supposed to represent positive customer service so I'm supposed to greet people as they come in the gym if they don't greet me first.

The funny thing is what happens when I try to greet college age students. If I know them, they are totally cool with it. But if I don't know them, and I say hi, I am given this totally "caught off guard" look. Some of them say hi back and are excited to be aknowledged. But many of them quickly switch from off guard to defensive and don't even say hi. They look at me like I'm crossing some social boundary by trying to tell them good morning or like maybe I'm hitting on them. Normally if I ignore them a couple times and then try to say hi later, they typically act less offended and rude on the second try. But still why so hard?

I'm not a super naturally friendly person, but I like to include people. So when I tell someone hello and they look at the ground- I normally want to write them off in my head- and never approach them again. But after a while, you start to realize that many of the people who aren't saying hi back or being super friendly, aren't that mean. They don't mind being a friend they just honestly don't know how to communicate well.

I definitely think is something young people need to work on in general: face to face communication. Put down the cellphone and social media, and let's actually talk to one another. If a girl talks to a guy it doesn't mean she's hitting on him and vice versa. Acknowledging another person and including them is just basic etiquette. It's also one of my goals in general, improve one on one and group communication and seek to be friendly to the people all around me.

Have you ever seen this generation gap? And if so what are some changes you think younger adults should be making to become more friendly?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I want to be a Christian nurse

This quote carries the responsibility of a nurse.  "Nowhere does so much depend upon faithfulness in little things on the part of the attendants. In cases of serious illness, a little neglect, a slight inattention to a patient's special needs or dangers, the manifestation of fear, excitement, or petulance, even a lack of sympathy, may turn the scale that is balancing life and death, and cause to go down to the grave a patient who otherwise might have recovered. (White, 1905, p 219).

I've been attending children's clinicals in the emergency room and learning so much. One of the hardest things I've been learning is IV's because they personally make me quite nervous. But I've also been following different nurses around and learning basic care. And one thing that stands out to me the most is the patient care that is provided and my desire to do more.

Nurses are so busy. They have to be one of the biggest multitasking jobs out there. There are so many expectations to meet the needs of others. Service is demanded- it's part of the job. Nurses are often taken advantage of and they spend so much time trying to meet others' needs often just to be criticized or taken for granted.

Because of the difficult job nurses hold, I've witnessed so many nurses who are burnt out and bitter. Nurses who provide quick care to their patients, who do the minimum and not the maximum, who don't take the time to truly listen. And I think seeing this has deepened my desire to be a Christian nurse.

For one of my nursing classes we've been reading "Ministry of Healing" by Ellen White and I really appreciate her instruction in nursing care. She emphasizes the unique opportunity to minister along with heavenly angels in helping a patient recover from pain or illness. She writes that a nurse should be able to draw the mind of the patient to the healer of the soul as well of the body and she instructs us to pray for our patients.

Ellen White has so much wisdom about healing, helping our patients, and even the importance of nutrition and rest. Reading her book has drawn me closer to God and deepens the desire to be changed so that I can be a Christian nurse- I can show sick people Jesus.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Lessons from Samson

What do you think of when you think of Samson? I bet you think of the word strong. We could say that being strong was ultimately Samson's identity. He was commonly thought of the strongest man in the Bible to ever exist; he killed lions with his bare hands; and he even knocked out foundational pillars of a building to kill the Philistines. There's no doubt that Samson demonstrated great strength. Yet where did Samson's strength come from and was it his own?

What do people think about when they meet you? Do they immediately go to the job label like pilot, nurse, or teacher? Are you amazingly gifted in singing or athleticism so much that people derive your identity from that thing? Do you have a strong quality like being brave, honest, or even being great at communication? Whatever that thing is it's important for us to remember that all good things come from the Lord and are not our own.

Samson was not strong apart from God just like we will not have true success apart from God's will for us. In fact, it didn't matter the things that Samson had done in the past for God. When Samson chose to indulge sin, he reaped the consequences and was destroyed. No matter who we are, and what we have done in the past for Christ, we are at risk to be devoured by sin. 1 Peter 5:8 says our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking those he may devour.

Unfortunately Satan- our lion and deceiver- found a special weakness in the Nazarite Samson. Although Samson was set apart from birth and taught to lead a pure lifestyle, Satan knew that Samson loved women. And these women turned out to be the absolute destruction of Samson.
As we read the story of Samson in Judged 13-16 we may say wow Samson was wild, passionate, witty, but not very smart with his womanly choices.

The thing is though friends, I believe Samson has a lot in common with you and me. We are not Nazarites, but I believe that God has called us to a pure and holy life. Maybe like Samson, God has even called you from a young age and blessed you enough to do great things for God like mission work, mentorship, or given you gifts in teaching or healing. It's easy to become proud in the things we have accomplished for the Lord. Yet we must remember- these things were not done through our own gifts or strength.

Because just like Samson, we are weak, we are often passionate in the wrong ways, we are unwise. All the while we are pursued by God we have a ravenous lion chasing our tail, who knows the weaknesses, wounds, and wild passions of our hearts. We will be safe and strong when we stay close to Jesus, but the moment we wonder, we risk being subdued.

The thing to rejoice about friends is that even after we've been up to the mountain, and thrown ourself down to the lowest valley because of sin, selfishness, and our foolish passions.. even while we are lying on the ground, suffering- the moment we say the name of Jesus, His power can come back in our life. Samson was done, he messed up, he was foolish, an idiot we might say. And finally his strength was gone and the Phillistines were laughing and Samson remembered the giver of his strength and prayed unselfishly "Lord don't let my life be worthless. Do something good for my people. Bring something beautiful out of my mess and destruction." And it was then that God finished the work He began in Samson by killing 3,000 Philistines. Yes Samson reaped the consequences of His sins and selfishness, but that doesn't mean God gave up on Samson. God showed himself present even in Samson's death and performed a great miracle in Him to help the Israelites.

No matter where you are or what you have done, God wants to use the broken parts in your life to fulfill His purposes. Your never too high and your never too low, to get on your knees and talk to Jesus. He wants to do his miracles in us. (The story in Samson can be found in Judges 13-16).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Forgiveness

With tears in my eyes I accepted his friend request. I asked God to help me forgive- for the hundredth time in my life- but this time my heart finally felt ready. God I'm ready to start rebuilding this broken relationship. I sent him my letter and he responded. And healing descended upon my soul.

It's easy to talk about forgiveness but it's hard to forgive when the hurt is deep and the pain is real. It feels like you are letting go of a part of your identity. In a way, I've come to realize, you really and truly are. You are no longer the victim. And sometimes we enjoy playing victim.

Because we all have born to this world of chaos and sin- a world where relationships are broken; people deceive us; and lies are as common as cake, we have all been hurt. Sometimes the hurt is in ways we don't even realize and sometimes it's as clear as day and we want to ignore and ignore hoping that if we put off the conflict and pain one day the injury will just disappear.

But that's not how forgiveness works. That's not how healing works. At some point you have to take off the bandaid and look at the wound and damage done and then you have to ask God to heal you. Sometimes God might require you to take action in part of the healing process with him. He might ask you to talk to someone, to change a thought pattern or habit, or even to say I'm sorry. Other times, God might ask you to wait patiently on Him, to trust Him through the pain, to trust Him in peace even though it still hurts. Both are ok and appropriate in different circumstances under God's direction.

What's not ok, is choosing not to forgive. As a believer in Christ, you are a sinner. You are a selfish person who hurts others- probably each and every day- and Jesus forgave you even in the midst of being nailed to a cross, lying in agony and blood pouring down his face, He whispered forgive them. Thus we do not have the privilege of saying no to the calling of Christ to forgive. For Christ says of us that if we want to be in His kingdom, surely we will learn to forgive our brothers and sisters.

Friend, though it may be hard, I challenge you to embrace the forgiveness that Christ offers you. Forgiveness from every area of guilt and shame in your life, freedom to live with an authentic boldness and richness knowing Christ's love for you. And as you embrace this forgiveness, may your eyes look differently towards those who have hurt you. As deep as the wound is, their is healing potential and power when you submit it to Jesus. When you say "I am no longer captive." "I am no longer a victim of the hurt you have caused, because I choose to forgive you by the power in the blood of Jesus." Friend, may your soul and heart be healed in Jesus' name.





Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I want it all

I want it all and I want it to be good. Picture perfect and polished; I want my life to look shiny and maybe even- the best. Not just my home, but my car, my job, my school work, and my relationships. I want everything.. right now. And I want God of course, I want Him to reign in my life, but I want it to be one of those beautiful pictures...

I strive, I make to-do lists, and I run around.. I do good things. I study. I work. I accomplish. I read a chapter from my Bible and pray on the go. I am kind and loving to my friends and I smile when I pass people I don't know. I take three steps forward and two steps back.

And at the end of the day I ask myself Why?
I read Ecclesiastes and I wonder Why?
God reminds me of my time in the mission field and I wonder Why?
Why Brooke do you strive so hard? Why Brooke do you seek the approval of others? Why Brooke do you try to be successful in this world? Why Brooke do you value money that fades so quickly?

I listen to the song by Brian Johnson "Have it all" where he sings that God can have everything in His life. And I echo His prayer. I dream of days going back to the mission field and living simplistically- surviving on only a few dollars. It seems so much easier there- to give God everything- when you have nothing.

But here and now I struggle.. I want, want, want. I strive, strive, strive.
And the only answer I find- when I finally slow down
Is in the arms of Jesus.

Daughter, let me hold you.
Daughter, let me hold your hand. Slow down and walk with me.
Daughter, let me restore your joy. Let me teach you how to dance again.
Daughter, do not worry. You don't have to get all A's or have the picture perfect house. I will fill your life with purpose.
Daughter, I forgive you. Be free and love without limits.
Daughter, I heal your wounds. Live boldly and unafraid.
Daughter, let me tell you show you what it means to fall in love- let me love you.

Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water- struggling in the hands of a loving Savior. I fight His plans for me although I know they are for my good. I fight, squirm, and move because I don't want to wait. I make my own plans since His take too long. I try to perform...

But He finds me- he always finds me. When I'm tired and finally slow down, He gently picks me up into His arms. He sings over me and quiets my soul and tells me "Oh how I love you. You are mine."

You are His. You are God's. No matter where you've been, what you've been doing, where you've been hiding. He's seeking you. He's waiting for you. He wants to hold you and love you. Daughter- run to Him. Be satisfied.





Saturday, September 2, 2017

Why millenials are leaving the church

I was listening to a sermon that said according to a survey by the age of twenty-three 75% of baptized Seventh Day Adventists' would have left the church. I spoke to my Fit for Life teacher who said that the hardest most difficult thing to do was to reach a college student body where the majority though they knew everything they needed to know about Christ and yet had never experienced Him.

I know for me and many other home-bread Adventists' we have learned from our youth how to look and play the role of an Adventist. Take off your jewelry, pull your skirt down, pretend to care about the needs around you, and never find yourself too close in the presence of alcohol.

I'm twenty-three years old- raised in the church- and I love Jesus. But I think my walk with God would look very different if I didn't spend a year in my life in the mission field of Peru. I think at some time every collegiate or young adult has to unstrip from the motions they've been taught and actually get to the core of Who is Jesus? You have to experience Him and until you've experienced Him personally everything is going to be striving, or a show. And then when you experience Him you may jump back and say Wow this Jesus is alot different than who I thought He was.

I think part of the problem is being taught that following Jesus is easy. You don't hear as many sermons about taking up your cross and truly surrendering everything anymore. I know we say it, but we don't mean it right. Jesus doesn't want us to give up ALL our money, or give up our dream career, to marry someone different than the guy we picked out? No we can just follow Jesus and pursue the typical things of this world as well?

And that is how we get comfortable. Deathly, deathly, comfortable with our Bible friends and Jesus circles. We begin to pursue the same things this world desires: a good family, a strong career, a safety net for cash, and clothes that look flattering. And we justify ourselves, because these are all good things right? We look around and most believers are doing it. We look around and everyone in the world is racing around doing it. And all the while we may be attending Adventist education, Adventist church, and maybe even a lifegroup and we may feel supported and comforted.. but the odds are that we are not experiencing Jesus actively. And at the end of the day, even though we are labeled as a Christian and performing service for the Lord we are lonely, depressed, and wondering where the God of all joy is.

I don't see many Christians in the Bible living comfortable lives, striving for productivity like so many of us are today. Because when we are so very comfortable, so very self-skilled, we don't need Jesus. It's only when we listen to God's call to love when the risks are high, to give when we have no money left, to serve in a way we have no skill and are terrified that God is able to grow our faith. It's these times that we jump off the cliff- when Jesus calls us- and He catches us that create experiences and memories that deepen our experience with God.

And when we experience the loving and powerful hand of God, we won't want to leave Christ, and we will have testimonies.

I've talked to many college students and asked them if they would share their testimony and they told me they were afraid because they didn't have a testimony. And this is shocking, this is pathetic. Because if you are serving the same God I know, the God who shuts lion's mouths, and clears a body of water for His people to walk through, the God who gets down in the dust with prostitutes, and fills up the whole boat with fish, how is it impossible for you to be walking with God and yet not have something to share about your experience with Him. How can we walk with God for twenty to twenty-five years and not have one story to tell about our best friend or Savior? That's something I don't understand- but it demonstrates that maybe, just maybe the problem is that young people are not learning or getting the opportunity to experience God.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Growth from infancy

Psalms 1:1
1. Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
2. Or stand in the way of sinners
3. Or sit in the seat of mockers
4. But his delight is in the law of the Lord
5. and on His law He meditates day and night.
6. He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
7. which yields it's fruit in season
8. and whose leaf does not wither
9. Whatever he does prospers.

My number one goal this year is to grow up in Christ. To put behind me the childlike tendencies of Christianity and to grow into someone who is deeper rooted and producing proper fruits, and ultimately glorifying Christ with my actions. As Paul talks concerned about the Corinthians when he says he could not distinguish their fruits from the worlds' actions, and that they desperately needed to grow up and start taking their walk with God seriously (1 Corinthians 3:2).. this is my desire and my prayer.

Continuing in 1 Corinthians 3 Paul says that he has laid a foundation for the Corinthians in the truth and that someone else is building on it. But that each person must be careful how they are building. "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stray his work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light. Ultimately it says that the house we will build will be tested for quality with the purification fire of Jesus Christ.

So going back to Psalms 1:1 I want to explore how we may grow in Christ following David's advice.
1. Surround yourself with Christian influences and mentors. Do not be succumbed to popularity, attraction, or trying to make yourself something in the world.
2. Avoid sin. Take yourself out of the ways of temptation. Avoid movies, music, and distractions that will further you from Christ.
3. Do not mock others. Do not criticize or think of yourself as something great. Be slow to put others down and quick to be humble and serve.
4. Find your joy in Jesus. Spend time with the Lord for an hour each day. Love Him and delight in His love for you.
5. Memorize and reflect on the Word of God. Let it change your life. Don't just leave it on your shelf but study it dilligently.
6. If you do these things you will become rooted and closer to Christ
7. You will begin to develop the fruits of the spirit and discernment
8. You will develop strength to survive hard times and become steadfast in your beliefs
9. And ultimately you will prosper- not in the ways the world expects- but in doing your creator and in loving Him your heart will be full. This Lord is my desire. Teach me to walk in your truths. Redefine my life so I can praise you and give me the passion and endurance to search for you like a hidden treasure.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Do not be misled..

I told you that I was camp nurse this summer and also deemed camp mom. Many of the staff I worked with are high schoolers going into college. And if I could give any piece of advice to a new college student it would be this-- Be careful who you choose to be your friend. Because you will be influenced SO much by the people you hang around with.

It's not an innovative thought- yet I believe seldom do we realize just how much the people in our life change the way we talk, live, and even view ourselves as a person. The Bible speaks largely about it and even warns "Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

I was never popular in school- and I'm typically still not. Elementary school, middle school, high school-- I struggled to make friends. I was never bullied and people always liked me. I normally had one or two good friends in the class. But I was never popular, I never had a clique.. and it isn't until this summer that I think about what a blessing this was in disguise.

Because when you are not popular, you aren't typically peer pressured like the popular kids. You don't get quite as bound by the expectations the cool kids are supposed to have and you may find yourself befriended by weird, shy, nice students- maybe even someone like you. I'm not saying it's wrong to be popular but I'm saying that sadly in highschool and college being in certain popularity groups you can really feel pressured to look and act a certain way.

I care alot about what people think about me- I want people to think I'm cool, kind, and smart. It's a natural desire right to want people to like us- to want to be a part. Yet it's so dangerous when I start to value what other people think about me above what God thinks. And it's dangerous when I don't surround myself with people who love God first. Because if an individual isn't loving God first, they won't have healthy relationship skills. You can only love another person as much as you love God. And people who don't love God will naturally be selfish. People who don't love God will naturally hurt others- not purposefully. But if you are constantly being the stronger person or more spiritualistic person in a relationship- I believe it will start to wear on you and bring you down.

Do not be misled by attraction. Do not be misled by the people that seem to have all the friends in the world, by the people who talk up front, by the people who seem to be something in the social scene- for often this people spend hours working on their image, and sometimes the most "popular" are actually the most insecure of them all.

Do not be misled by trying to stay cool, by feeling pressured to perform, play, or dress a certain way in order to be a part of a group. As much as acceptance may feel nice temporarily a true friend will see beyond the mask you wear and will love what is on the inside. A true friend will use uplifting words and encourage you to love and value yourself. A true friend will not leave you when things get hard.

I just encourage you to take a look at the people you come in contact with on a regular basis and at the closest friends in your life and see if you like their character. Evaluate how they make you feel as an individual and how they are affecting your walk with God. See if they are bringing you up closer to Jesus or taking you further away.

Proverbs 18:24 says A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. If you have one of those friends that always has your back- treasure them- and if you don't, work to become that friend and pray to God for a friend that will be there for you.



Jet lagged but home

Wow it's 11:20pm on a Friday night and instead of sleeping. I woke up from bed to analyze my life, goals, and fears. I guess Alaska jet lag will do that to you as it is only 8:20 over yonder.
I turn on some Christian music and go to my Facebook page and just look at pictures from this amazing summer adventure. It was GOOD. It was really good and my pictures testify to the fact that it was an adrenaline filled, bucket list- crossing summer.

Between flying over beautiful mountains, climbing remote glaciers, sailing in beautiful Whittier, spotting nine bears, seeing a mom and her baby moose crossing the waters, and catching my first salmon it has been a blast.

And yet despite how much fun I had, and the things I learned as a new nurse, I have just a few regrets from this summer. Thinking about how my spiritual life is at a new low and thinking about the ways I could have done better this summer. Thinking about God- where He wants to take me this year- and about the fact that I am such an easily distracted, traveling girl that struggles with waiting.

I guess the fact that I'm 23 has really hit me!! Thanks to my lovely YOUNG camp friends and the fact that I was nicknamed camp mom or nurse lady, I have decided that I'm officially in that awkward- not so much college student phase- and yet not a working young adult either. But I guess after this summer, where I feel like I just enjoyed life and lived spontaneously but a little irresponsibly, the reality of adulting and growing in spiritual maturity has kicked in.

God has truly blessed me with so many amazing opportunities that I have just jumped on and experienced lately. I mean I have traveled to Peru, Dominican, Nicaragua, Korea, Alaska and more places. I've traveled around the states, led mission trips, got random certifications at different gyms. I've made friends in many places and it's like right now the world is my possibility for the options of where I could work, travel, what I could do.

But I guess where I'm at right now is...
I want to prioritize my dedication to God and willingness to serve Him above any adventure, adrenaline, or bucket list goals of my own.

I don't want to settle for a "normal life" where I just live in one place, mundane schedule, content with working a job or being in a relationship I'm not passionate about.

Yet I want to have the peace to be still. I want to have the joy to be content whether I'm world traveling, or water walking, or just at a boring church service.

 I want to follow God more than anything in this world. I don't want to care what the world thinks of me. I don't want to be defined by the things I've done or the things I haven't done. Instead I want to be known for who I am. I want to focus on my character and I want to be Christ's daughter and His faithful follower.

It's late at night and I don't have all the answers. There's alot of things in life I want to do. There's alot of things I think I need. Yet God is the only thing that can truly fulfill the desires of my heart. And I want to give my life to Him. I want to seek Him above any treasure, love Him more than any travel destination, and trust Him more than any one on this earth.

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is Denali

Going to Denali has been on my bucket list ever since I thought about coming to Alaska.
To be honest though, like many tourists and travelers, I didn't know much about Denali before I started to do some research. And even after researching it still seemed confusing. Denali is really big and I had no idea where exactly I should go, what I wanted to hike, all I knew was I wanted a great adventure.

So here's what I first want to explain to people who aren't familiar with Alaska and Denali. There's 3 things that are Denali: first of all is the National park of Denali where 90% of visitors take the train into and then get on a bus and ride in to see animals and maybe even hike around. The second part of Denali is Denali state park to which the national park is in but Denali state park is much much bigger and there are less rules and regulations. The third part of Denali is the mountain Denali or Mount Mckinley. 

So our group originally was going to do Denali national park for a whole week but instead we opted to sail for half of the week and do Denali in 3 days plus travel time. And what we found cheaper and more practical for our group is doing the bus drive to Eilson and seeing the animals at Denali national park and then coming down and the next day doing a 2 day backpacking trip up Kesugi Ridge in Denali state park.

 Denali national park is awesome and it is huge but it is definitely a tourist trap. Getting up there seems to be the most difficult part for many people as a one way train ticket from Anchorage costs about $!40. Our group was able to save tons of money by finding friends and driving four hours from Anchorage to Denali. Once you get to Denali national park there is an enormous guest center and many things you can do at the base just to learn about Denali. The coolest thing we could have done that we didn't get to do is see a Denali dog sled show. Since we were limited at time at base camp Denali we watched a quick movie on the history of Denali and looked at some Mt. Mckinley exhibits.

Their are national park busses that depart from the base or guest center at Denali at various times each day and take you up to the higher places of Denali park where no vehicles are allowed to drive. We chose (and I recommend) taking the bus as far as it will take you which is up to Eilson. Eilson is a 4 hour ride up and 4 hours down but you increase elevation quickly and have the opportunity to see lots of wildlife.

Overall we loved Denali national park but would say it is pretty expensive and might not be worth it if you only have a short time in Alaska. If you are dead set on seeing bears and caribou though it is a definite must. Here's a picture of Lauren and I in Denali as well as a bear cub we saw from the side of the bus. We saw 9 bears and 11 caribou- quite the wilderness experience!!






Thursday, August 10, 2017

Salmon and fish hooks

This is my second post about Camp Lorraine in Wrangell Alaska. From the last time I posted, the weather has improved dramatically and it has actually been sunny and warm which is nothing short of a miracle. I have gotten the opportunity of joining in with the third period fishing class and I have been learning about how to fish for halibut and salmon. We have been doing alot of fishing from the dock but some of the days we get to take the kids out in the boats.

So I have been wanting some wild Alaskan salmon all summer and dreams (especially in Alaska) really do come true! Yesterday the pastor caught not just one but 4 wild salmon and a 62 inch halibut!! We had fish, fish, and more fish. Then this morning at 6am I got the opportunity to go early morning fishing and try out the halibut hooks. We didn't have much live bait until I caught about an 11 inch cod fish. And we started using my cod for bait and were able to catch some halibut. So this has made for some very fun fishing and I am SO excited! (Pic below is not of the cod of course but of a flounder my first fish caught Wednesday morning in the Alaskan ocean)



Bad news is one of our lovely campers decided to catch a fish hook in her right foot. Thankfully I was kayaking closeby and I heard the yell and was able to rush in. The pastor was trying to keep her calm and we looked for plyers on the dock but could not find any. The hook was pretty deep in and there was no way to simply pull it out so we decided we would have to cut and pull through. Together we carried her back to shore and performed a little operation in my nursing room. We just pulled off those sleeping bags where I slept covered it with some trash bags and sterile gauze and were good to go. The hook was tough to get out but with the help of James the boat driver we got it out successfully and were able to clean her up. As sad as it was to see the girl in pain, it definitely made me eager to get into an ER and start getting some legit nursing experience. So I have been applying for jobs and really just praying that God would lead where he pleases.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Camp Lorraine

They say that if I look North I'm looking straight up to Canada. Sometimes the cruise boats steer on through and occasionally we'll see a beluga from the shore or canoe. I do love the ocean as it waves familiarity from my home town near the Gulf of Mexico. Yet in contrast to the warmth and humidity, Wrangell Alaska is a cold, dreary, rainy world- beautiful but chilly.

It's my third day here at Camp Lorraine and it's been far and oddly too quiet. It's camp meeting and we have a whopping 25 guests including 5 children who we are entertaining with a kids program. I've already spent over ten hours up in the arts and crafts room mostly working on dream catchers but I did paint a picture or two. I love art without limits and that's what I find at the art club house on the third story of our lodge. With big windows overlooking great ocean views there are buckets of unlimited craft supplies, beads, glitters, and feathers. I love the no expectations, and no rules therapeutic art it creates. Painting and art has always  been the thing that I can do whatever I want with. I love being able to make messes and go crazy. To put my emotions and colors out on paper. With art, you can be out there and it's ok. It's never too much, or overdone, the more different it is the better. Sometimes my creations turn out descent or good but 90% of the time they are just meaningless expressions and that is totally ok with me. It's more about the process, more about the feelings, then it is about the masterpiece. I find myself in the messy art where I let myself go free.

Now that we are here we have only a week of camp left and most of our motivation is severely lacking. It's hard because the quiet and slow reality that camp is near over and we are tired has definitely invaded the camp. People are starting to think about normal jobs and what life after camp will mean.

Transitioning from Palmer camp meeting where I was constantly kayaking, hiking mountains, and even flying- living up the adventurous life is slightly sad and a bit mundane. This will probably be my last summer in Alaska- not because I don't love the wild up here but because I'm getting too old for summer camp and I'm not sure if I could survive the winter down here.Although it's beautiful at Alaska camps, I have way too much time to think. Lack of cellphone service and wifi will do that to you I guess. (I kayaked to cellphone point today so I could blog and call home for a little bit).


At this camp I will be teaching circus class and waterfront as well as of course camp nurse. Camp nurse hasn't been too exciting lately but I've given out a lot of Dayquil, Ibeprofin, and cough drops. I saw a spider bite, some seizures, and a broken finger, some hypothermic kids- and that's about it. Sometimes I feel like I'm just playing camp nurse instead of an actual nurse. I'm excited to practice and develop more nursing skills in the future.

Monday, July 24, 2017

WILD ALASKA

I have literally had the most amazing week adventuring in Alaska. This week I have received my first flying lesson over glaciers and mountains, kayaked in between glacier ice bergs, gotten very close to a momma and baby moose, learned to shoot a gun for the first time, and hiked the Beaut.

If you have never been to Alaska let me just tell you this.. GO. If you like adventure, GO. If you like outdoorsy people, GO. If you want to see wildlife, GO. You will find mountains just waiting for you, bears hiding out from you, moose that you don't want to close to you, you will find the last frontier and it is beautiful!

I have spent three weeks here so far this summer traveling mostly in Anchorage, Palmer- Wasilla area, and spending two weeks in the small fishing town of Dillingham. Here are some pictures I want to share with you from some of my favorite times.

This is my amazing friend Krissy. I have had the privilege of staying with her this week in Palmer and she has been showing me Alaska and her fun. Her dad is a pilot with his own plane and these first pictures show our trip up to a glacier only accessible by plane- Knik Glacier. Flying in a small plane was such a cool experience.


 And here are some pictures of Knik Glacier: the most beautiful glacier I have ever seen. We were fortunate enough to discover some kayaks just waiting for us on the edge and were able to actually kayak in between the icebergs. It was literally one of the most amazing experiences ever trying to follow the mazes in between the ice bergs.



I also saw this other glacier called Matanuska Glacier. The entrance fee is normally $30 and this glacier has alot more tourist activity. It is pretty beautiful but a little less clean and white looking. It is massive though. Most of the people visiting were wearing snow gear and had ice picks or fancy year but our summer camp group came in chacos and smiles. We conquered that glacier and had a few minor falls too. Here are some pictures.


The people down here are trying to convince me to move down here and work as an RN and honestly they are doing a pretty amazing job. It is so BEAUTIFUL and WILD. Internet service is mostly non existent so there is much more I can't wait to post but I will have to tell more stories when I get back.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Why I Can't Wait To Quit Media

I have always prided myself in my non-attatchment to media whether that be cellphones, dvds, Netflix, facebook, snapchat, or insta. Yet I must confess that the past three weeks have been saturated with Facebook and Insta, Netflix, and my cellphone- and that they have been some of the most distracted, unproductive, and un-Christlike weeks I have spent in a while.

There are countless reasons why social media is dangerous to our culture, relationships, and productivity but even more so I believe when we claim to be Christians. I want to share with you some of my top reasons why I have decided to take a break from social media and I hope you will honestly evaluate these reasons and see if you may need to take a break as well.

For me, going to Alaska camps- a place where there is hardly any cell phone reception- makes it totally easy to give up media for a summer. But even if you are not going off somewhere far away, you can still go on a camping trip, or even spiritual retreat and spend some time investing in God and self discovery.

Ok here goes... and please understand I enjoy some time on Facebook or insta once in a while. So I'm not judging you if you love it...But I have done some studying and even personally realized that it's dangerous to my walk with God..

1. Social media breeds comparison and comparison is the thief of all joy. Galations 6:4-5 says we must examine our own actions so that we we can be proud of our own accomplishments without comparing ourselves to others. Even when we don't think we are comparing.. as we scroll through framed and editted pictures of our friends and see all the fun things that are going on in their lives- it becomes so easy to think oh I"m not pretty like that or oh my life isn't as fun as theirs.. or maybe even wow I am way better than that- I can't believe she writes that. In fact statistics show that people who use the media are way more likely to become depressed or suffer from anxiety- things our society has way too much of!

2. Social media is a distraction from a productive, life of service. How can we be focused serving God if we are constantly glimpsing at our cellphone as we get notifications during the day? I was reading research that giving in to distractions during the day can actually decrease our mental ability to focus. Even if we say we only spend 30 minutes on social media per day (insta, snap chat, and FB combined) which let me congratulate you this would be a great accomplishment... let me ask you how much time you are spending with Jesus per day?? Ouch- even if you are spending 30 minutes with Jesus per day- filling yourself with His word, if you are spending 30 minutes a day on social media you have just spent 30 minutes a day digesting trash, lies, and advertisements. What if you spent that hour with Jesus every day?

3. Social media justifies bragging. Since when did it become normal to list our accomplishments and literally just rub it in other's faces? Or what about selfie pics with Bible verses haha those are some of my favorites ;) Even instagram, which in the beginning I thought was so much better, because at least it's just pictures right? But instagram is all about your image, all about your wall. and I know so many people that will spend the hours getting and editting the perfect picture for their wall. It just seems like the more you are on their, the more you start caring about the wrong things- not to mention creating an image of yourself that is NOT real.

I know quitting social media is hard. But for me social media tempts me to lust after guys, compare my body to other girls, and waste time on the internet, ignoring the family members I have right in front of me. When I go on media more often, I began to feel less valued, more depressed, and eventually- if I am not posting something cool- more lonely. For me as an individual who struggles finding time for personal worship, I know that God is asking me to take breaks from social media in order to have more time to spend with Him and in the immediate environment around me. Social media is a hard topic and if you have any thoughts/ input feel free to let me know.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Authenticity

Tonight I went to a Christian concert on the Riverwalk starring Jason Gray and Jayson Reed. I loved the concert and it was a beautiful evening. One thing that really touched me though was both of these song writers' honesty. Jayson and Reed were singing about their marriage and personal struggles as Jason Gray shared about his painful divorce and his struggle with family illness.

If I think about it though, most song writers get a little personal. The way to a top hit- at least in the Christian music world- is a vulnerable song, something that people actually struggle with. It's not just a song that says "it's so easy, I just want to smile, going to church, and sitting for a while..." LOL
No it's more like a song that says Everyone thinks I live this way but behind the door my family is broken and everything is going wrong... People just latch onto those emotional, honest, and authentic songs. Because that is life- it's real- it's good and it's bad, painful, emotional, and everything in between. And being a Christian doesn't change that. It's still a roller coaster, still a ride, and I think that's what the church doesn't always emphasize enough.

I value authenticity so much in people- yet at times it doesn't come easily packaged. Like for me in the past three years I have become so much more authentic but sometimes the real Brooke isn't graceful, or isn't put together, or easy to preach about. Authenticity is so hard! And when you get rejected when you are being so real- it hurts so deeply.

Yet I got to say there are some people that are a little too authentic. People who don't think positive thoughts and who just can't seem to shut their mouths at the right time. They say something from their head and everybody just looks down in shame.

There has to be some kind of balance right. I don't believe we should just start telling our problems and confessing our sins to everyone we meet.

For me I'm searching for that balance- looking to the life of Jesus- to find a man that is not just brave, not just honest, but also compassionate- a guy that has grace when he speaks- and speaks the right words at the right time. It's authenticity- Jesus was authentic- but it's authentic love and it's authentically good. That's the kind of authentic Jesus we all could use a little more of ;)

rantings

Have you ever felt like you were doing so good in moving on from a certain challenge or temptation, just to be exposed to one person or thing that immediately brings back all feelings from the past- and let's be real the whole enchilada of emotions.

For me, I feel like I have changed SO much as an individual since I came to know Jesus. And the cool thing about God is if we ask Him to change us- He is constantly showing us things we don't even know about ourselves and ways we can grow.

My walk with God has definitely gone through different stages but I would say that the a large portion of my time as a believer was spent in the "nice zone". This "nice zone" is a very obligatory time full of expectations, accomplishments, and rule following. For me I found comfort in this label of "nice Christian" and it began to take over my identity. If you asked most of the people around me to describe me in one word most of them would probably say NICE.

I have to imagine that Jesus too often got this nice label after all I believe Jesus is probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet. And I really believe that the majority of us Christians striving to be like God have gotten this nice factor at some time or another and felt a little constrained by it.

For me personally, I genuinely strive to be a nice person but beyond that I strive to be loving. And God says that when we are following Him we should have the fruits of the Spirit and one of those fruits kindness I believe is a synonym of niceness. It's definitely a trait Christians should have. Through kindness and niceness I believe we can represent Christ's kindness and love for us.

Yet at times it seems people easily take advantage of niceness. And yes you may say people took advantage of Jesus too. And I totally agree. But Jesus wasn't a push over, he didn't please everyone all the time... As a nice person, I have noticed that I will easily attract not as nice people who enjoy my niceness to them.

The principle makes sense because if you have someone that is selfish and constantly needs someone to meet their needs, that individual (person 1) will look for someone who is giving or kind to be their friend. This makes sense because person number 1 is broken and is looking for someone to fix them, give to them, help them, encourage them. They may attract brokenness but will not be able to stand someone just like them who is also selfish because they can not form a relationship. Thus person 2 the kind person is constantly getting offers from persons from category number 1. And this person 2 genuinely wants to help person 1.

For me though as a nice child, and even teenager, I spent alot of time reaching out to person 1's- specifically one individual. I catered to her needs, played third wheel when she had a boyfriend, and bent over backwards to be her best friend. But in return, I wasn't emotionally receiving as much as I was giving. The more time I spent with this individual, the more I came to believe myself as a passive, weak, kind, servant type of person- who wasn't as capable as her as making friends or looking nice or speaking for myself. As a young girl, this individual wounded me deeply by constantly comparing herself to me and unconsciously teaching me that my identity was found in being nice, being quiet, and that I had to perform in order to get attention. This person 1 did not mean to hurt me, but she took away my self-esteem and sense of identity and freedom. When I hung out with her, I felt unworthy, uncapable, and silenced. It was a deep wound. And I know we all have wounds from people or relationships in the past that hurt us.

I praise God though- the Lord of healing- because He is constantly offering us to heal our wounds and for me when I spent a year in Peru He changed so much about me including the way I viewed myself and even my job as a Christian God follower. I learned that while God wants us to be kind to one another, God does not desire us to be a leech in negative relationships, or to be taken advantage of to the point where we are broken. I have spent the last three years rediscovering so much of who I am in God's eyes and developing a truly authentic relationship that isn't based on what I do or do not, or what I say, or even how kind I am to others but is based on a King in Heaven and a daughter in love with her God.

The interesting though as I mentioned in the beginning is as God is healing our wounds there will be things or people that bring them up again and threaten to throw back in our faces where we came from. I recently spent some time with the individual number one I described to you and it was REALLY DIFFICULT. It is hard not to become bitter especially when we realize the full effects of how a person changed our lives forever. And then they have those old expectations of you.. back when you were a different person. Man I don't have all the answers, it is hard following God and being transformed by His love and into a person like Him- while at the same time staying emotionally and spiritually healthy as an individual.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

When did we lose radical?

Today after church my family visited some friends. Now mind you these aren't the typical friends who barbecue, or have a fancy backyard where they bird watch- instead this is a couple who came from the bottom- who used to be addicted to drugs and sex- and have fell in love with Jesus and been transformed. These people live in a small apartment and in a rough neighborhood. They are slowly building their lives back together.

One thing about these people though is that they are radical about Jesus and radical about evangelism. They truly believe and follow the doctrine of Christ and perform church activities and evangelism every day of the week. They are constantly going to Bible studies, constantly watching Christian sermons,  witnessing at their work, and even telling their anesthesiologist at the hospital about the resurrection. They say phrases that I tend to roll my eyes at like "God is so good" and "His mercy always provides" and "faithful to the end."

To me, these people are radicals and today it seems harder and harder for me to find people who are radically living for Jesus.
And to me it seems sadly that 90% of any radicals will have these crazy conversion stories like turning from drugs, or crime, and then going to the church.
To which I must ask: Where are the stories of the radical Christians who grew up with God?
What about the Bible saying to train up a child in the way he should go so he will not depart from it? Where are these children of Adventist parents who are radically living for God?

Or does God not ask us to be radical?

Well if you believe in the Bible it seems we are given a clearer picture of the Christian walk. In Acts 2:42-47 we see believers who devoted themselves to the apostles teachings, prayer, and fellowship. People who gave away everything they had to the needy; people who performed miracles with the power of the Holy Spirit.

We see Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his only son for a God in heaven. We read about Jonah who ran away from God to the point where he was swallowed by a whale. We learn about John the Baptist a wild Alaskan beau (sarcasm) who ate locusts and wild honey, running around half naked, and sharing the life changing news of Jesus. And as we continue with Christian history we read about martyrs who had to fight lions in a colliseum or be burned at stake.

And now days I look around and the most radical Christians I know are the ones who are waiting to have sex til marriage, or people who aren't getting drunk, or missionaries.

So my question is why aren't we expected to walk radically anymore? When did we as a church and community lose radical Christianity? And most painfully, when did I as an individual give up the dream of radical Biblical Christian living and become content to follow cultural Christian expectations?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 stars

It was a sunny Sabbath in Pucallpa and we had about 20 people getting baptized. We decided that since we Americans were staying at such a ritzy hotel called the Manish which had a beautiful pool, the Peruvians could come to our hotel and we could have the baptismal ceremony there.

Now mind you the ERC mission trip I just got back from to Pucallpa was the most elaborate and fancy mission trip I have ever been on. This mission trip was not a survive in the jungle, live like the locals, or even eat or act modestly. Instead the trip was built like a vacation at a comfortable and glamorous ecological hotel so that we the participants would have the opportunity for quietness and safety to study the scriptures and prepare for our evening sermons.

So here we were having the baptismal ceremony at this elaborate hotel and pastor asks me if the woman who were getting baptized could use my room to change into before and after. And of course I said yes.

When the Peruvian woman who were getting baptized saw the room I was staying in with my roommate there mind was blown. Most of these people lived in the slums and had never seen such white fancy comforters with window curtains and a huge mirror. They all lavished in the opportunity to come in and sit on my bed and use my large clean bathroom.

After they were baptized they came back into the room soaking wet and cold. They tracked in dirt and mud. But they were just so excited to be changing in such a clean place. One younger girl instinctively picked up my fancy brush and started brushing her head with it. Even though I cringed inwardly I decided not to say anything and watched as she brushed her hair with joy. These people were not used to such cleanliness and luxury.

After they left, I had a choice to make. I could either be delighted in the fact that I had the opportunity to share my large and clean room with these people and celebrate with them the best day of their new lives with Christ, or I could whine about how my clean room was now trashed, smelly, mud filled, and my brush probably filled with lice.

And I think as we go through life encountering different situations we always have a a choice of how we will respond to what blessings we are given as well as what tribulations or inconveniences. And we must choose what we will do with the gifts and privilege God has given us.

You know, I don't mind my fancy hotel room becoming dirty and gross because 10 people just gave their life to Jesus. I don't care if they cover the room with mud; these people live so poorly every day I am happy for them to get to use my bedroom. And pity if the American girl gets lice for two weeks. I unlike them have blow dryers, washing machines, and lice treatment. My problem is easily fixed.

It's easy to stay in a clean place, living the "American dream", and send a little money to help the orphans. It's easy to think that you care about other's needs and to convince yourself that short term trips or kind thoughts are really changing lives.

But do you honestly care enough about others that you are willing to sacrifice your personal dreams, goals, or possessions? Is missions a hobby and a travel opportunity or is it a way you live?

It bothers me that my favorite starbucks drink can provide six Peruvian meals to children who are hungry. It troubles me that I have more clothes that fit in my closet and I am constantly throwing things away.

I didn't sacrifice anything to let the Peruvians use my hotel room for one day- afterall it is the hotel staff that cleans my room. And I didn't sacrifice anything to go to Peru for three weeks with the ERC trip- I had a great vacation, learned more about God, and ate great food.

But living a missionary life- like a real life like Jesus- I think it requires more than the occasional 5 star mission trip. I think God is asking for more than a little donation, a couple weeks of our time- I think He is calling us to more.

I don't want to limit my service to Jesus to when there is only 5 star commodities. I don't want to serve only where there is good healthy food, hot water, and air conditioning. But my prayer is that I would be able to humble myself- that we would learn to serve wherever we are. That we wouldn't be afraid to be dirty- disgusting- gross- smelly- poor- hungry people. That we would be more afraid of not following God's call than afraid of following Him to scary places or to lives of sacrifice.

I'm tired of living a rich American life and going on feel good mission trips. I want to do something more to fulfill God's calling for me to a life of missions.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I'm going back to an orphanage

I decided to change this post and make it more heart real. It's easy to write what you think people want to read. It's harder but necessary to write from the heart.

I had  the opportunity to return to the San Juan Aldea Infantil and it really stirred up my emotions, life plans, goals, pretty much general life at whole. I knew going back to Peru would be hard for this reason. When I came back from my sm year 3 and a half years ago I was so stoked and ready to go to Africa, go to India, save the orphans- cliche, idealistic, naive, but sweet thoughts.

For this reason I struggled adapting back to college life where my parents encouraged me to get a degree even though my head was in the clouds, around the world, back in the mission field. And going back to Peru and this orphanage just re-awakened my call and love to missions.

 During my student missions year at AMOR my favorite work was at the orphanage. Every week we would visit the orphans who were there and try to mentor them. These little girls and boys literally took my heart and tore it into pieces. The orphanage is where God spoke to me to help me change my major to nursing and it's also the place I've dreamed about working even since I was younger.

Need I remind you I just completed my nursing degree at Southern and I am beyond joyful! After visiting the orphanage in Peru I am so head strong and fascinated by the idea of going back to an orphanage probably in South America to work. I honestly can't wait. I want to go somewhere where I can be a mom to the kids and also be a nurse for them. I want to go for a minimum of two years because I think it's important for kids to have stability and I want to go somewhere where I can speak their language. I think it's important to be able to counsel the kids. And hopefully, I know you may call me crazy for saying this, but God willing I would love to get to adopt one or two of these kids.

I don't know when I'll be going, I don't know how. But I know God willing I'll get the chance soon. My goal is to get some nursing experience in the states, save up a little money, and wait on God's call. But I'll keep you posted.. because my heart is excited to return to an orphanage to stay and live quite soon.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

back in Peru 2

Sometimes I like to think about my life as a book or movie- full of emotion, drama, adventure that's so real and alive. I am a girl that's totally down for adrenaline. I love change, love passion, and love roller coasters. And sometimes mission trips are like that- they go so fast- and you see so many new cool things- you can hardly process it all. But this trip has been quite different.. it has been slower. It has been full of deep thinking, reliving memories, and quiet prayers. It has been a good break from the rigor of nursing school and American life but honestly even this trip has felt a bit mundane and I have to question God "Why did you bring me here?" What do you want me to learn about your character?

I'm not an evangelist. This trip is not using most of my God given gifts to humanity. I've never felt competent in Biblical prophecy. I am weak in my Spanish. I am not eloquent in speech. The cool thing though is in spite of my weaknesses God can use me to share a message to people around the world! This trip has been interesting. But honestly I don't feel like there is alot of exciting mission stories to share. I don't feel like I have really impacted the Peruvians who I am with.

I have preached 12 sermons and saw some friends from when I was here as a missionary. I have donated blood. I have eaten delicious Peruvian food. I have made some new friends with my mission team. I have not studied for my NCLEX which I just recieved the official ATT permission to test. I have not heard any great conversion stories from my church or met anyone who wanted to be baptized. Today I will get to go back to the Aldea Infantil in San Juan where I was able to work with kids and spend a couple weeks living with them. I am so excited about that.

I have six days left though on the trip and I have yet to answer the question "Why have I come back here God". I have enjoyed the trip of course, made friends, of course but I know God has something bigger in store. We have 5 nights of preaching left and I know God is not done working in my life or in the lives of the people at my church. Friends and family members I am grateful for your prayers and thoughts. It is a blessing to be back in Peru and to have the opportunity to share about Jesus.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Back to Peru

Three and a half years later, I am finally back to my student missionary home. The place where so many memories were built, lessons learned, and dreams and hearts changed was Pucallpa Peru a little jungle town in the amazon. The city is seasoned with tainted memories and stories and testimonies of how God worked and I can now tell you how I am different because of it.

 But here I am now staying at an ecological hotel with a 5 star pool and diner. My job is to preach an evangelistic series with 16 sermons. And Peru feels so similar and yet the old Peru and my memories still so far away.

I remember when I thought Pucallpa would always feel like home, when the stories and adventures that changed my life forever seemed like milestones that could never fade or be forgotten. But now it seems I have to focus a little harder to remember.. that promise I made to God that day "I will never live the same way again. I never want to take the American life for granted. I never want to live so selfishly and without your perfect love."

And yet three and a half years later I find myself here. I am older and a bit wiser I suppose. I am not quite so gung-ho and exuberant about life. I am a bit more tired. I am not afraid of the medical field as I used to be when I came. I am not unsure of God's plans for my life. Yet just like three and a half years ago I still have struggles, still have wounds, still have insecurities that somehow Peru likes to bring out and push in my face. I am the still girl who loves to swim and tan. And I am still in love with Jesus. In many ways I am still the same but in many ways I'm a totally different person.

Journey with me for the next 18 days as I share with you my Peru round 2 journeys and adventures. Preaching is not something in my comfort zone and I look forward to growing my faith and prophetic knowledge as I branch out with God and hopefully make new friends with the Peruvians and team members around me.

My nursing pledge

While nursing school has took time, perseverance, and dedication to complete, graduation weekend went by full of parties,friends, and ceremonies without time to blink. Here is my tribute to becoming an nurse- something that was never my plan- but is Gods. Here are my goals as a nurse and my promises that I want to frame my thinking.

Because I am a nurse I am privileged to have a better understanding of health, thus I promise to do my best to live according to healthier ways which I have learned in order to maintain personal physical, social, and spiritual health. I will do this because I know unless God fills me up until I am overflowing, I will be a nurse with a broken cistern.

There are too many bitter, know it all, non caring nurses in the world thus I promise with Gods help to care over and over again for people even when it hurts. My biggest fear is being burnt out not on being a nurse but on caring about people. Only Christ can give me the love and healing to be there for people on their worst days and strengthen my own heart so that it won't break.

There are many nurses that stop learning and become caught up in their own ways thinking they don't need to study and learn. I promise to continuously be a student of medicine- to explore areas of health to my utmost ability so that I can grow as an excellent nurse and possibly further my education to a nurse practitioner.

I promise to use my degree and profession to serve. I want to be the girl who always has medical supplies in her car so I can help whoever is in need. I want to use my skills on a global relief level but also for my family and the people next door. I want to learn to put others before myself and always have a humble heart of service.

I promise to not let the word "nurse" define me. Yes I am a nurse but I will help others because I am a Christian, because I have a heart, because I love them with the love of Jesus. I will not let the word limit me to things I can and can't do but will take the name with honor and continue to grow into my own person.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Oncology

Cancer- It's the thing nightmares are made up of and sob stories are told. It's the thing so many of us fear the most- hearing those dreadful words. It's truly terrifying and if you've dealt with personally, I sincerely apologize but I also commend you for overcoming or fighting because hey your reading this right.

I didn't want to watch people die. I didn't want to see bald mothers fighting for their lives. "I didn't sign up for this God just like I didn't sign up for nursing" I told him the moment I found out I was assigned to seminar at an oncology floor.

Do you ever have those moments when you question what God's plans are for you? When you waver and say really God you want me to do this? I was like hey God this really isn't me, this lovey dovey, showing compassion to people who are about to die.. how can I do this?

I didn't want to do it. I felt as if I were walking down hallways of death. Lonely rooms where  misery accompanied desperate prayers and where tears and vomit were common.

And I quickly learned I couldn't do it. Not on my own- no, never. Never can we take the weight of the pain of death and suffering and try to help others without letting God help us.

It wasn't what I wanted but God used the seminar on the oncology floor as one of my biggest learning experiences. My nurse was a true angel and she taught me confidence in basic nursing skills believing in me when I didn't believe in myself.

I am finally finished with nursing. My last test is over and I passed and I can only praise God and whisper to you over and over again "It was Him." It was God who gave me the strength and God who made it possible for me to pass.

My friend made a testimony video for seniors and when interviewing me what I learned in college and what I wished I knew as a freshman my answer was this "Don't be afraid to be weak because God is strong."

I feel like my college experience has been so far out of the ordinary. I started feeling strong, smart, spiritual and year by year God broke me down and re-made me and gave me a totally different calling I never would have imagined and showed me how much I really do need Him.

This world is not our home. With diseases like cancer, pancreatitis, heart failures, with problems with murder, divorce, and people who are depressed or filled with anxiety we are lost creatures. We don't have to walk through this world feeling like we need to have it all together because God truly is strong enough for each one of us. I don't have my life together, or have a perfect plan, but I know that although this world may have challenges my God has proven faithful for any obstacle I may face and because of that I look forward to the future with hope and joy.