Friday, August 18, 2017

Do not be misled..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Jet lagged but home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is Denali

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

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

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

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

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

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






Thursday, August 10, 2017

Salmon and fish hooks

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

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



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

Monday, August 7, 2017

Camp Lorraine

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, July 24, 2017

WILD ALASKA

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

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

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

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


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



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


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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Why I Can't Wait To Quit Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Authenticity

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

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

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

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

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

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

rantings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

When did we lose radical?

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

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

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

Or does God not ask us to be radical?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I'm going back to an orphanage

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

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

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

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

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

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






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

back in Peru 2

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Back to Peru

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

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

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

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

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

My nursing pledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Oncology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

kindle the flame

This weekend I had the opportunity to go camping with friends for my birthday. It was such a blessing and it just really showed me how many people God has put in my life that love me and care and are authentic friends. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude.


I love camping, but sadly I never sleep well when I camp so I normally just wake up pretty early, hike around, and enjoy the sunrise. This morning though I was a little chilly, so I decided I would try to start the fire. Now I would call myself a fire building novice in general but I CAN START A FIRE. Spending time in Alaska last summer definitely taught me some essential fire building skills but never before have I started a fire without matches or a lighter.

This morning though I didn't have matches and didn't want to waken my friends so I decided to arise to the challenge of lighting a fire with ashes from the night's before and a little paper and twigs. It took a long time of moving little sticks and pieces of paper around, blowing, and snapping wood.. but finally a small flame came to be. And from that flame, with much more work and time and care, I was able to ignite a large warm fire

2 Timothy 1:6 "For this reason I am reminding you to fan into the flames the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands."

I also love the Pathfinder song.. "It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up to it's going. That's how it is with God's love once you experience it. You spread his love to everyone you want to pass it on."

I think the foundation of the fire is the most important part to determine how long it will burn. How you lay the wood and sticks and how close you put them together determines the outcome of your fire. If your wood is too far apart, when you light it, it will go out quickly after it burns.

Likewise we need Christian fellowship and encouragement. How can we remain strong in Christ without brothers and sisters that challenge us to grow and uplift us when we are weak? What can be more encouraging than testimonies by believers in a community? If we want to grow in Christ, we must set our weak selves up for success by choosing mentors and wise believers in the faith that love God like we do.

The song says that if we are experiencing God's love we will want to pass it on! Ellen White says that if we are of Christ our sweetest thoughts should be of Him, that we should want to talk about Him all the time to our friends. Sometimes in this day and age, I hesitate to bring up the name Jesus to friends I don't know super well. But sometimes when I take the risk and start a conversation, people open up and share and stories arise of how Christ is at work or how they need prayer. Talking about God and struggles and being vulnerable is so important.  Nothing encourages me more than hearing how God is at work in the lives of my friends and family! They keep my fire going.

I've been so blessed by God to have so many amazing spiritual friends but I haven't always felt like I had such a close knit spiritual community. It takes effort to create authentic Christ loving fellowship and to help kindle each other's fires. I want to encourage you that relationships are so important and do truly make an eternal difference in Christ's kingdom. Let's kindle the fire, don't let it go completely out, let's help our brothers and sisters to stay ablaze.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Back to basics

"If there is one word that would shape and identify who we are, what we do, how we do it, when we do it, where we do it, why we do it, and to whom and for whom we do it, it should be the word love." -Peter Prime

Think about your day and everything accomplished, specifically the motivation behind each task. What was done in or for love? And not the kind of love that we read about in books or see in romantic movies? What was done in the love that is of God, the sacrificial, gentle, patient kind of love? What was done to show our love to God or our love for our friends?

Sadly enough I think that many of us Christians, including myself sometimes, could look back on our day and pick out one or two things that we intentionally did in love. And we can lay in bed utterly exhausted and drained and not be experiencing the love of Christ. And my question is this.. If we can go to church week after week, go to a Christian school, be involved in community service, be studious, serve God as a missionary... what is the point if we don't know the love of God personally? It's worthless. What we don't do in love for or with God or for the people around us will not matter eternally.

In John 13:35 Jesus says that love is the ultimate evidence by which the world should be able to distinguish his disciples. And so often I have to wonder do I really love people enough to look different than the crowd around me?

At my university we are constantly getting preached at "that Jesus loves us" and while it is nice to be reminded of the love of God it is almost demeaning the value and the principles behind who God is and what His love can do and really means.  What is love? To even begin to understand love we must study the Word of God but to gain love we must truly experience Him. Personally I believe this is why so many millenialists and younger people are leaving the church. You can say tell them Jesus loves them but unless your loving them and the people around you in the same radical way they see right through you. And if they haven't ever known Christ and seen the way He actually wants to work in their life, changing their personalities and hearts, giving them that deep joy and peace, they cannot understand and don't care to pretend.

Friends, this love thing has been totally perverted by culture, by our selfish desires, and by friends in the church. Right now we are only scribbling on a chalkboard and barely scratching the surface just to see a glimpse of the love of Christ. "For now we see only a reflection as in the mirror; but then we shall see face to face."

Sometimes I have to stop and put a pause on "everything good" I think I am doing in life just stop and come back to the cross and say "Hey God I got lost I forgot that love was the only thing that mattered." When community service doesn't matter, grades don't matter, friendships don't matter, I know that nothing matters except for continually experiencing your love for me enough that it can be overflowing to the people around us.

Love is such a basic principle but the most beautiful, complex, and mysterious concept. It doesn't makes sense but  it's God's character- his  unchanging perfect self- and it's the only way we as Christians display his pleasing aroma to the world around us.

Monday, April 17, 2017

nursing tests

Before my first level 4 nursing test of the semester, I studied, prayed, and asked my friends and family to pray that I would do well. But at the end of the test I made a 75 which is 3 points below the passing rate. When I got my test results, I was frustrated and angry at God. I had studied hard and I had asked him to bless me. After the first test I doubted if I would pass level 4 and why God would call me to nursing to fail me.

After my second and third test (to which I greatly improved scores) and the day before my fourth test I was walking with God and I asked God out loud "Do you really care?" God do you really care about a test grade? After all, there are people around the world with so much bigger problems. Do you really care if I pass a test? Like how involved do you really want to be in my life?

It's funny because I knew the Sabbath school answer that I had been taught to believe at a young age- that yes God cared. And I had seen God come through for me before in other aspects of my life that showed He cared about the little things. But when we are in trials or fearful, Satan wants us to forget those times, and I was honestly questioning God "Do you care about my grade?" "And why do you care?" Why does it matter to you?

I don't remember how exactly the answer came about but it came quite clearly in my head and I felt Jesus reminding me that He cared more than even my earthly father cares. Before the level four test I was gifted with great peace and I was reciting Bible verses before the test and I did great.

Today I took my final of level 4 and I passed the class- something in the beginning I thought would be impossible to do- Christ has truly done through me and I give Him all the glory and honor. Each and every nursing thing- overcoming hospital fears and natural barriers- he has given me the strength to persevere and even given me passionate about helping those who have physical needs.

I know there are those today in my class who didn't pass level four who were also praying about their grades and I know that it is extremely tempting to blame God and think that He doesn't care, but I want to encourage you with every aspect of your life- even things that may feel trivial- Jesus cares. He loves us more than we realize and He wants us to trust us with everything and anything on our hearts and minds.

So pass or fail let us glorify the Lord- for He alone is worthy to be praised. And remember when you feel like no one else cares- Jesus always cares.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Staying Christian

It's funny because every once in a while someone makes this comment to me about how good of a Christian I am. And I HATE it when people say that because they are generally narrowing my life to a list of things I do or don't do, or generalizing my personality into being a cookie cutter Jesus loving freak who has no selfish desires or even struggles with sin. And they make my life look and sound so easy... like following Jesus for me isn't difficult at all. And I'm like, honestly? Do you even know me?

Because yes I love Jesus and praise God you see Him in me (that would be a miracle) but the struggle is as real for me as it is for you. (Ask my brother ;)

Sometimes I don't feel like a good Christian. I don't feel like being nice. I don't feel like reading my Bible, listening to Christian worship music, or being kind to people. Sometimes instead I want to watch Netflix movies instead of having worships or gossip or lie instead of having painful conversations. And maybe you say that's nothing compared to my sins? Well to God it's all a level playing field and often Satan loves to start ruining our lives by creeping into the smallest "harmless" activities.

My moods contradict often contradict Christ's character when I struggle with feeling selfish, anxiety, depression, lusting after things or humans instead of Christ... If I fulfill my feelings and momentary desires I will be reaching for things of the flesh like guys to talk too, friends who satisfy my immediate needs by telling me the right things, activities that seem like fun but hurt my purity and brain overtime, or even making idols out of school or work.

The world, and often my friends, may justify me for giving in to some of these desires. After all, all Christians "need a break" right; should "lighten up" and "everything is good in modesty" right. If it's not an addiction and it's just a one in a while thing is it ok?

Trust me, I'm just like you, I struggle with selfishness, self-worth, and waiting and following God. I struggle with the desire to read my Bible. Spending personal time with God daily is not always easy.
But here's the thing guys it's SO Important.

Becoming Christian isn't some one time thing, it's not a great story that happens and then you get there. There will be highs and lows and there will be those great miracles that God does in your life. I know I feel like parts of my testimony are really powerful but then there's other times when I'm just like "I need help" times when I am hurting and feel alone in life or in my faith.

For me  the hardest part of following God for me is staying Christian in the day to day grind of life. Like how do you stay close to Jesus without falling away, without giving in to the mood swings, without getting distracted from the things this world throws at us to distract us? And I believe that also the most powerful part of our testimonies is the waiting part, it's the dark before dawn, it's the preparation period where we chose to be faithful- where we chose to stay Christian. And not just "Christian" in that we went to church and claimed the label but where our day to day walk shows us daily surrendering everything to God, praising Him daily, experiencing His true joy.

Friends, we are often so impatient. We are taught that we should be able to get what we want by taking the quickest route, maybe even the drive through. Pit stops to Starbucks for a latte are encouraged as long as we don't get too off track. But the journey to God is so unlike anything else on this planet. It is a long life changing process where God literally strips us away from self and everything from our old life. It is not fast and short cuts will quickly lure us to Satan's counterfeits. Pit stops are dangerous where the devil waits to tell us lies.

The point of me writing this is that I want to share that I am just like you- a struggling Christian. I believe we have to get beyond the comparing others relationships and take ownership for how our personal walks are going. If I am not actively reading my Bible and prayer that is no one's fault but my own and if I cannot share how Christ has been working in my life in the past week, maybe He has not been working.

My life has not been easy or perfect. I've had my own personal struggles and journey with God just like you have. And even though I've followed God for a while, and spent times as a missionary and even as a camp "spiritual director"- every day for me is a totally new day to get to know who God is and see what He's doing new in my life. I just encourage you for one, stop labeling people and making assumptions, or trying to pressure them to meet your expectations .But for two, most importantly, take accountability for your own Christian life with God. Stay Christian and don't just stay on the fence but learn to be a mini disciple of Christ. Start focusing on Him instead of you and He will totally turn your life around and give you this crazy joy!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Detour in the Exodus

In the beginning of Exodus we see a relationship being formed with a God who sees, God calling Moses to follow Him as a leader to influence people, and Moses' journey leading Israelites to a land of milk and honey.

God delivers Israelites from Babylon with a bang- huge plagues- leading up until even the first son of Pharaoh is killed. Miraculous signs are done and the Israelites know that God is with them. In fact God says I will lead you by myself by a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night and I will never leave you. It sounds so easy- just following the cloud- and yet this journey is not what the Israelites expected. It is difficult, long, at times food is short, there are many unexpected obstacles.

We arrive at  Exodus 13:17 and find an exhausted Moses and tired, grumpy Israelites. These people have followed God so far, seeking deliverance from captivity, and trying to abide to His laws. And yet we see God leading the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. Their journey could have been much shorter but God chose to lead them  on a further route so the Israelites would not face war and return to Egypt.

So this is where I want to stop and think a little bit because through the Exodus story God is showing us that at times we too may have to journey through the desert. In other words, even though we are following Christ, there are times when we are going to feel lost- maybe even abandoned, distraught, alone, unprepared, hungry.

Have you ever felt like you followed God completely just to hit a huge standstill, problem, or conflict you never imagined. And it frustrated you so much because you thought God clearly you called me to this so where are you now? Where are you now when I'm failing at what you've asked me to do? Why did you call me to this if you aren't going to help me succeed?

Multiple times in Exodus we see the Israelites crying out to God "Did you call us here so we could die?" I would have rather been a slave than me starving and wondering around like a lost soul.
And we may find that we ourselves are quick to blame God as soon as things start to go wrong. Why God why didn't you deliver me from this trial when I have prayed about it or asked you to do so?

But the thing about Exodus is if you take just one part of the story- often things don't make sense. Like why would God let the Israelites be hungry? Maybe so that they could trust in Him to provide manna? Why did He lead them around the long way? So that they wouldn't have to fight in an extra war that might discourage them. Why did it take so long? Maybe so God could establish faith and perseverance teaching the people...

Likewise our life often things may not make sense to us because we cannot see the whole picture. We are quick to forget how God has led us in the past. We do not see His plans for us in the future. We do not see our influence on others. We cannot comprehend how choices and events will affect our own character development or how we will learn to have faith in God.

We will never understand why God lets some bad things happen in the world and why He stops others, why bad things happen to good people, or why we have to go through struggles when we're only trying to follow God's will for our life. But just like the Israelites, each of us is on a journey to one place and that is Heaven a land of milk and honey. Ultimately, it shouldn't matter to us what happens on this earth as long as we get to the Promised Land.

I believe that there will be a desert (or deserts) that believers in God must walk through in order to be redefined into someone who represents the loving image of God. But the amazing promise we have from God is that in the desert or in the mountain, He is with us. Even when we don't feel God, even when we don't see His blessings, I believe that He is working for our good and right by our side if we let Him.



Monday, February 13, 2017

Life's greatest adventures

I'm laying on my bed thinking about the ways God has immensely blessed my life because of my SMALL mustard seed faith in Him.



From cutting off ALL my hair in Peru, to learning to ride a street bike. From giving my very first shot and crying before and after from shock and from dancing, yelling, and doing taekwondo gymnastics in the rain.



To basking summers out in the hot sun driving a motor boat while helping kids experience the love of Jesus. Writing and acting a passionate Story about Jesus' life and seeing the Word come to action.



Flying to an academy far away from home where I knew absolutely NO ONE and getting to try out for a varsity baseball team and having the time of my life playing catcher and getting trambled.



To backpacking in Alaska, climbing mountains, canoeing in the ocean while chasing Beluga whales and trying to keep my blessed campers from getting hit by a barge...


To laying on my bed trying to study nursing because I want to pass. Running through my day from tutoring session, to study groups, to work.. trying to survive in the career path I did not choose for myself but God did and literally sobbing after taking a test.

All adventures have just ONE thing in common- they were God's ideas not mine. And God hasn't once let me down.

When my head was full of lice and mold and I was in tears dreading looking like a boy with short hair God gave me friends that showed me life was so much deeper than appearance.

When as a lake director I almost hit a child with a motor boat (OOPs;) and had a parent screaming at me, I prayed and God handled the situation for me.

When I was 5000 miles away from my parents in Colorado, without a friend in sight, God revealed Himself to me as a loyal best friend.

When my children in Alaska were yelling through the night and I couldn't sleep and I felt sick.. God gave me beautiful lights in the sky and protected me from the bears.

 


And God reminds me daily- Brooke- don't forget to look and see the things I've done in your past. I have done these things that you may have faith in me. Don't forget how much I've blessed you. Don't forget how much I love you. And Brooke if I've blessed you before, of course I will continue to be your guide.

And honestly guys, if you think God's boring.. you might not know the same guy I know!






Friday, February 10, 2017

Covered in mud

For a lot of my life I viewed God and consequences a bit like a vending machine. If you put in a lot you will probably get something good. Do something wrong- your consequence will follow. Praying, reading your Bible, trusting God will result in a Godly happy life. You will have prosperity in your family, friendships, and career. If you sin you will suffer accordingly. What you pray for, God will grant, if you pray diligently enough. Pray for protection over your friends and family they will be protected. Have people pray over you for a good grade and you will get it. Pray about a relationship and it will all work out alright.

And there's sometimes when it does work out. When I pray to God and ask for something and He gives me exactly what I want. And I'm like hallelujah He is Lord.

But then there's other times when I've prayed about something for a long time, and God doesn't seem to be answering my prayer. And I try to be patient, I try to wait, or I act in faith. And then all of a sudden I fall on my face- I fail a test- a relationship ends in brokenness and pain.. and I wonder.. Where are you God?

It's these times when I fall that I have to remember that whether I am in the dust lying on the ground maybe even being trampled by an elephant, God is just as much Lord as when I am dancing in the ballroom or getting my dream job.

You see God's faithfulness does not rest in my personal life success- as painful and humbling as this may be to admit- this is a blessing friends. God does not need you to be prosperous for Him to be glorified.

In fact God may desire me to fail (at times) as much as He desires for me to succeed.

His goal is not my happiness. His goal is a better relationship with me. Maybe He wants to use my weaknesses as an opportunity to trust His strength. Maybe He wants to comfort me when I am crying, to be my stronghold when I am weak.

When I am strong, when I am smart, when I am capable I don't need God. When I have friends and family and money and health, I am content to live on this earth. It's when life gets hard that I begin to look up at the stars and long for heaven and God reminds me "this place is not your home".

It's hard to fail. It's painful when God humbles us. It hurts to feel inadequate, alone, not good enough.
Yet God says your identity does not rest in your career, your grades, your friends, your relationship, your wisdom or lack of it. God sometimes has to remind us that He is the only thing that will truly matter in eternity and He wants us to stop making idols.

Friends we all have our struggles. We all have our masks that we wear at one time or another pretending to be strong when we are breaking, pretending to be loving when all we feel inside is hate, pretending.. we love pretending that we are independent and self-sufficient. But when life hits you in the face, knocks you down to the dirt, realize that even when you are covered in mud.. God loves you. Jesus loves you. He loves you so much. And He will pick you up off the ground, out of the mud, and say I have a plan and I'm growing you as a person and together we are going to overcome this.

Friday, February 3, 2017

the Exodus part 1

It's funny because when I was younger I always thought Exodus was such a boring book. But now I see my life written in the lines of the story. I see God's faithful hand, His power, and most of all His mercy as He guides the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. I hope that this story shines new light on God's Exodus for His people in the Old Testament as well as His journey for your life.

Part 1 God's Calling: The story starts with Moses.Moses' childhood was nothing short of miraculous as he was saved from death by being thrown to float down the Nile River. What's the first word you think about when you think of the Nile? Crocodiles? Moses' mother was a woman of faith. She did something that wouldn't make sense to most of us and was greatly awarded by God by getting to  raise her little boy into a man of God.

Moses was bold and a bit hot tempered.  When he saw injustice killed the man who was beating one of his own. Moses' life was hard because he was a Hebrew. He worked the fields and performed hard manual labor. It says that Moses was taking care of the sheep when God spoke to him from a bush lit on fire. And when God spoke to Moses, Moses hid his face out of fear. But God said...

I have seen you and the misery of my people. I have heard your crying and am concerned about your suffering. So I have come down to rescue you.... And I want you Moses to go and lead my Israelites out of Egypt.

And Moses who was afraid to look at God responded with fear and doubt. Who am I God that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? Why me?

And God replied I will be with you.

But Moses said "What if it doesn't work out? What am I supposed to say? What if they ask who you are? What if they do not believe me?

And God said I will be with you and you will tell them that "I am the I AM." And here are three signs I'm going to show you. God showed Moses through snakes, and leprosy, and blood on the ground that Moses could trust in Him. God started developing Moses' faith before He sent them- God spent time with Him personally to help Moses prepare for the huge battles He would be facing.

Let's go back to Exodus 3:7 where God says "I have indeed seen the misery of my people. I have heard them crying." When you feel like you are all alone, God sees you. He sees the worst and hardest days of your life just like He does on your best days. He sees the pain no one else can see and the struggles you feel like you are  battling all alone. God not only sees your hurt and misery but the Bible shows that He is concerned about you

But He is not just concerned about you, He has a plan to rescue you- and not just you, but the people around you. God says this is why I've come- to take you to a better place- out of the land of slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey.

What is your  yoke of slavery- to who or what are you bonded? In today's times it's probably not physical slavery but it may be an addiction, it may be a disorder, it could be something that devours your time like work, pornography, exercising until you feel your body is perfect, watching movies that distract you from the real world? To what thing do you sacrifice more time too than reading your Bible than worship? Is it your career? Do you put studies over Christ because you are afraid of failure?

Whatever that thing that you are a slave too- it is hurting you whether you know it or not. It is stealing your joy, it is robbing you of your peace, it is filling your heart with doubt. It is causing you to question Christ. And God says I see you in your slavery and I have a plan to rescue you.

But God doesn't stop there, God says I'm calling you. I want you to follow me. To overcome the thing you are enslaved too you have to take a new Master. You have to choose me and you have to sacrifice your body and selfish desires to be my servant. I am going to use you to do great things but I need you to trust me.

And we may relate to Moses' response as he is fearful. God what exactly are you asking me to do? Am I qualified? What if I'm not strong enough to help lead others? What if I can't even break out of my own bondage? What will I say when I'm asked Lord?

And to this the Lord says Brooke do not fear. Moses do not fear. I will be with you. And right now I am going to start this relationship by helping you to trust me. I'm going to start doing miracles in your life and it's going to be amazing.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

journey through nursing seminar

I never imagined becoming a nurse; never dreamed of working with campus ministries at Southern; being a super senior. Much less doing my final semester of nursing on an oncology floor with patients who are going through chemo, radiation, and some of the hardest days of their life.

It's been a journey lately and I can't say it's been easy. But I can say He's been there.

And I'm sure thankful to God for the grace He's poured out in my life and the nurse who has worked with me teaching me the basics of nursing the past 12 hour shifts. Before seminar, I was lacking so much confidence in nursing, just not sure how to do many things.

I'm so thankful to God that I was given a nurse who was both kind and patient, smart yet trusting. Never underestimate the power you can give someone by believing in them. For my nurse believed in me and was a great influence and encouragement in my life. I learned so much about nursing and people in my 12 hour seminar shifts.

Nursing is a challenge beyond what I imagined because it combines ministry with work. Healing has a job title and pay raise but also limits. How do you witness patients dying and go home as soon as shift changes just to come back and realize they are gone? How do you give medicine that brings back life and yet know exactly when to gracefully sprinkle the testimony of Jesus?

There are so many questions and fears I have about nursing. I am intimidated by level four and the loads of NCLEX review content questions and adult III tests. Yet I am so excited because I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! This semester will be my last until I can take my NCLEX on my way towards working with acutely ill children and hopefully in a few years taking care of orphanage children.

I don't know the plans God has exactly for me and I will always have questions about why certain things happen. Yet I know that for me, every time I follow God and trust Him, He has provided my needs and blessed. As for now onto nursing school and finishing the this college task ahead of me.

Monday, January 9, 2017

To my wandering friend

I know that you've been wandering this past year, and I don't mean world travel, but value and self-searching. Not just finding a job but finding a man, and finding a self that isn't defined by others or old expectations. You've been trying a few things differently.

Listen to me fully, take the time to hear where I'm coming from. I don't want to judge you, I want to love you. I don't hate you, I want to care for you. I want to encourage you, but I wish you could see what you are doing and what you are sacrificing.

Don't you see that you are a rare and beautiful flower? That you are spectacular at being you? That you are the girl who sings children to sleep and makes the whole class laugh with joy. You are the one whose passion could ignite a wild fire. I see endless potential in you.

I see you looking for happiness, searching for value, for joy in the little things and I fear for you. I'm scared because I tremble at the beasts who seek to devour you. The enemy laughs and writes your name on his hand to trick you. Please don't fall.

Don't you see that you have a home? That you have a Father who calls your name and sings songs over you? Why won't you let Him fulfill your every need?

Ultimately if there were only thing I could tell you, this would be it. That no matter what you do, and how far you wonder, where you are, and what condition you are in, you can call me and I'll come running. I still am your number one fan and I am still going to be that friend.

It is never too late to come home. It is never too late to come running back to me or even better running back to Christ. Open the Word again my friend, say a short prayer. For when you feel alone, the Lord of love sees your fragile heart. Know that God is always waiting. You have never gone too far. You can always come home.

And until you do, I'll be waiting for you and I'll be praying for you.