Saturday, December 16, 2017

What really matters

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 15, 2017

Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Overcoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

To my future pediatric patient



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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Eating trash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Friday, November 3, 2017

Vulnerability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Life Update- nursing job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sin stinks

Today I did something really dirty- something no one should ever have to do. I cleaned the drain in the bathroom sink. Not the one in the shower no- where there might be chemicals from soap and ok maybe a little hair or something. But no I cleaned the drain where there was a special mixture of toothpaste and hair and honestly I don't know what keeping the entire drain so full, hardly any water could get through.

But the funny thing is that this drain has been pretty dirty for a long time and yet I never paid much attention to it before. In fact it's so easy just to ignore the drain and not really clean it when you clean the other things because you only see the top of it. You don't see what's underneath unless you really pick it up out of the sink.

But man, when the water stops draining through. You realize that you have a BIG problem. That this drain is nasty and that things are stuck into it and that this is a bad, disgusting situation.

I think sin is similar sometimes.

I've heard it say that the pathway to hell is paved with good intentions. I also think maybe the pathway to hell doesn't look as scary as we often imagine it. It probably gets a little darker, a little dimmer with each step in. But the entrance, I imagine is finely decorated. Because sometimes let me tell you, sin is appealing to the eye. It's like that fruit. The world tells us it's delicious.

Sometimes my little sins don't even feel like sins- mercy. And after I do them a few times, they definitely don't feel bad. It's so easy to take little tip toes towards the wrong person or motive. And often I don't realize that I'm slowly getting trapped in sin. Until finally, I realize that I've gotten too deep. And the sin quickly blows up and comes to the surface in front of me. And it is a MESS. A dirty, stinky mess. And it is disgusting and I'm embarrassed and I want it cleaned up immediately!

And the great thing about when sin explodes is when our heart experiences remorse. When we finally feel our guilt, and cry out for our need for redemption. Because when we call, He answers. He is faithful to forgive our every sin.

But the part of this story that terrifies me is the fact that every day that I'm brushing my teeth I may be dirtying that drain and clogging it and making it disgusting without even realizing it. The scary part is what if I'm too comfortable sinning. What if I don't have the remorse? What if I don't feel like I'm as bad as a sinner as them? What if I feel like I"m doing good- just living my life disillusioned when I'm really not walking in the right path.

The good thing is, if we live our lives asking God to make us new and cleanse our conscience, He will. EGW writes that "when the heart yields to the influence of the Spirit of God, the conscience will be quickened, and the sinner will discern something of the depth and sacredness of God's holy law.".."The light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world illumines the secret chambers of the soul and the hidden things of darkness are more manifest."

The disgusting thing about sin is that it directly separates us from Christ. Isaiah 59:2 says "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear you." That's powerful. Also if we read in John 4, we have the Samaritan woman that comes to draw water and when Jesus says "Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst" she asks for this water. Get right after she asks, Jesus addresses her sin problem. He says call your husband.

Sin hurts others and we must repent our sins to Christ in order to experience eternal life with Him. David writes "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity and in whose spirit there is no guile... Purge me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart Oh God and renew a right spirit within me."

Often we let Satan enslave us to sinful tendencies and we don't even realize what we are doing. But Christ is constantly calling us higher and desires to change our heart. If we are in His word, He will convict us. He has the power to set us free from all sins. What joy we can experience from truly being clean from the inside out!




JOY spotting

There is so much sadness and brokenness in this world right now. It can become overwhelming. In the past week, I've talked to a single man whose second wife died unexpectedly, I've talked to people who struggle with painful illness and disease, talked to people who are depressed and doubt the reason to live. With all the natural disasters, with the shooting tragedy in LA, there's alot of grief, so much pain.

And I think we have to address it and deal with it. Yet we have to be careful not to dwell on it.

We can't dwell on our problems, on the tragedy, on the hurt. In our lives or in the lives of friends. For the Bible tells us to COUNT IT ALL JOY. And more importantly I believe is when we dwell on the evil, our minds begin to think negatively. But when we dwell on Christ's second coming, we don't have time to be sad or selfish and we feel the urgency to preach the Gospel.



Personally, I struggle alot with getting overwhelmed and stressed. I want to feel the joy of Jesus and the emotion of being close to Christ and I get frustrated when I can't feel it. I definitely get sad and frustrated at things I experience, and often feel alone. Yet lately I've been so convicted on how soon Jesus is coming and how near the Word of God must be in our hearts to be ready. Also just the message we have to proclaim!

I long to think more like Paul to base my spirituality less on emotions and highs or lows but to learn to be content in all circumstances. To praise God through the mountains and the valleys.

I think truly I have to pray for a change of heart that is seeking Jesus coming day after day. And I think this hope of His second coming, this love in Him and promise of seeing Him soon, will be the only thing that gives our hearts joy. I also think though that it's a perspective change. That God has to teach us to dwell on the positive. That we have to learn the art of thanksgiving. That we have to start hunting for joy, searching for God, and His love no matter where we are. And we have to let Him fill us up.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Church is hard

I don't know when I stopped feeling accepted and loved by our churches.
But the truth is I've left many Adventist churches this past month crying because I didn't feel a part. I didn't feel loved and I definitely didn't feel seen, sought after, or accepted.

I don't know when I stopped believing that I was so loved by the church,that I was a part- that I could come as "I am". I don't know when I felt the need to perform to be accepted. Like I have to recite ten Bible verses for you (which I will do) and the Adventist docrines and proclaim to love EGW in order for me to become a part of your church.

When I was little I went to a conservative church. But since then my family moved to Tulsa and we attended a bigger, more liberal church. And I love that church. It was easy being apart of the church. I mean my family went- and did most of the talking- I felt like people wanted to know me. It was easy to get involved, to help with sabbath school and children's church, or even lead in VBS programming. I felt like I was using my gifts to serve Jesus and I loved being a part.

But then I went to college and since then I've been churchless for six years too long of my life. I don't know Adventist families in the area. I'm not involved in ministry in any local churches. Despite the fact that I LOVE kids, I don't know any local church kids. I'm not involved. I'm not in the church. I come and I go. I try to be a part- but somehow I feel turned away, or let down, or not wanted enough.

Since going to a liberal church, it makes going to a conservative church 10x more difficult. In a liberal church you don't worry about what you wear and what you say. But in a conservative church I am constantly looking in the mirror and wondering Do I even look Adventist? Did I wear too much makeup or is my dress too short?

And it's sad that I feel that way because the fact is I am a "church girl". I was raised in the church, I was spiritual director at camp, I was missionary in foreign countries, led my own short term trip. I have the credentials right to be a part of your church? But why do I feel like I have to defend myself? Why do I feel so far away from your church? I can only imagine what someone not familiar with the Adventist church might feel like...

It's not all the churches fault. I'm willing to take the blame for half the problem. But hey with all the preaching these pastors do on why young people leave the church... they should at least hear my side of the story. That church is cold sometimes and it's hard to get your way in.



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reflection

"Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, "Do you love me" in John 21:17? And then He said, Feed my sheep. In effect He said, "Identify yourself with MY interests in other people, not "Identify me with your interests in other people. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 shows us the characteristics of this love- it is actually the love of God expressing itself. The true test of my love for Jesus is a very practical one, and all the rest is sentimental talk.

The key to the missionary's devotion is that he is attached to nothing else and to no one except our Lord Himself. It does not mean simply being detached from the external things surrounding us. Our Lord was amazingly in touch with the ordinary things of life, but He had an inner detachment except toward God. External detachment is often an actual indication of a secret, growing, inner attachment to the things we stay away from externally. The duty of a faithful missionary is to concentrate on keeping his soul completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ."- Oswald Chambers

How often do we love the people we want to love? When we start with our own self motives, and then put a little more Jesus into it, to try and make it work better. Are we really loving God when we are consistently asking Him for what we want, instead of seeking His heart in the matter?

It's easy to look loving. It's easy to look like we are following at Jesus, but are we really willing to go where God wants us to go and love the people He wants us to love?

What are the secret motives of our heart? Until we can identify those inner selfish thoughts and hidden desires, we may not be able to serve God well. What are we attached too so much that we don't want to give up?

What would be your response to God if He asked you to give up some of the dreams that have been on your heart for a long time?

I'm tired of people preaching that God is like Santa Clause. He grants all your heart desires. That's a lie- because we are selfish. He can't grant our selfish hearts desires and fulfill our needs of the flesh. We don't even know what we want or need because our love and hearts have been perverted by false promises of this world. God does not desire to make us happy here on this earth, He desires to make us holy.

God, change our focus. Help us see you better. Transform our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh- that see and feel like you do. Help us experience your love that has no boundaries or limits. Make us free from others' expectations of us and help us to redefine what living in the rythms of your grace really means.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why I write

Anytime I write after 10 pm it gets dangerous. You know how we used to be told not to talk to boys at night because it would get bad quickly? Well my writing just tends to get more and more vulnerable, the later it is. And yet the words also flow so smoothly.

But many personal posts, I don't publish. I may struggle back and forth wondering if it is worthy for the world to hear my rantings.. or if it is too personal, if it could make someone think something bad of me right? Then again with all the stockers in the world, why should I write anyways? After all, writing takes time, energy, and sometimes I wonder if anyone even will read what I wrote or a better question, if I want them too. Do I want them to see beyond the actions and into some of my thoughts? Is it possible just one person might relate, or even find some courage or encouragement from one girls' struggles and adventures?

I want to share with you a few reasons why I write..

I write for me. I write not to be selfish and definitely not to make myself look better or brag in words. In fact, I don't tell many friends and people about my blog in general for this reason. I write because it lets me talk to myself, it lets me process my feelings. For a girl that has trouble being still and slowing down, writing helps me think.

I write for God. I write because at times I want to share something He has done for me and I want to never forget how I felt or how God worked. I right because occasionally when I am studying in the Bible I find these connections and I get really excited about them. I write so that when I am spiritually depleted and low, I can read my own posts and remember some of the miracles Jesus did for me and relive some of my spiritual highs.

I write because I have something to say, and sometimes I don't know who to tell. I write because I love ranting in a world that hates listening. I write because I am passionate and driven. I love orphans, I love children, and I love Jesus! And those things make me excited.

And finally, I write because I appreciate vulnerability and authenticity. I write to express some of the inner desires in my heart and to confess struggles. I write to be honest with myself and everyone else and portray the world with a little bit of sarcasm and humor. I write to free myself from expectations and try to find my identity in being Jesus' daughter.

These are reasons why I write. I love writing and I love how it's helped me live and love better.

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.