Saturday, January 15, 2011

This Unsophisticated Journey...

This morning, clothed in the comfort of dewy fog and low clouds I ventured out of my warm, cozy bungalow to search my heart. Again I find myself nestled in the old familiar spot in my favorite coffee shop reading, soul-searching and again putting pen to paper. The reason that blogs are still unfamiliar to me and something that I have yet to really latch onto is because there is nothing more vulnerable than sharing with the world what is in your heart and mind. I'm much more of a journaler - loving the feel of the worn paper, the smell of the leather binding and the well-known feeling of penning something that is mine alone. But here I am - reaching out for connection. Willing to let you catch a glimpse of me, albeit small and (dare I admit) edited. Here is what is in my heart this morning. I fear that more often than not many of us have given up the desires and dreams of our hearts with the justification of busyness, laziness, inability, or unworth. I know that I have. Ideas and thoughts that were birthed within me years ago have been shoved aside in the pursuit of a better paying job or forgotten amidst the busyness of life. And yes...if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. His desires become ours and we begin to want what He wants. He has placed in each of us certain talents, dreams, loves, passions, abilities and creativities to motivate us to each do something unique and radical for Him. To bring Him glory and to bring ourselves joy and fulfillment. To be honest - I gave up my dreams because it seemed as if they were never going to come true. I believed and hoped and prayed that certain things would come to pass...but as I waited and waited and waited and waited I slowly began to believe that the reason they weren't was because there was something wrong with me. I was defective. I was blemished. I was too sinful and unholy. God had forgotten about me. I'm still crawling out of this pit of destructive thought, my friends. Slowly...so slowly, He's refining my thinking and encouraging me to dream again.

Here are the biggest and best dreams for my life. What are yours?

1. To have a relationship with Jesus that is daily growing and maturing. To be able to hear His voice, to be sensitive to His leading and direction in my life. To put Him first in all things. To fall more in love with Him each day. To become better at intercessory prayer and in my own personal prayer life too. To radiate with the love, mercy, forgiveness, and joy that He gives me.

2. To be a loving, compassionate wife of much worth to her husband. To put our relationship first in our home, to grow together in wisdom, love and joy. To not shy away from debates and needed discussions. To make good communication, honesty, integrity, compassion, willingness to listen and love a part of our daily lives. To work toward common goals together. To pray together, learn together, challenge one another, and give selflessly of our minds, hearts, emotions, bodies, words, and actions. To encourage him and give him praise and respect in front of others. To be proud of him.

3. To be a nurturing, strong, forgiving, and gracious mother. To give grace and forgiveness when needed. To ask for forgiveness in turn. To discipline, train, educate, admonish, and protect my children. To teach them about Jesus, how much He loves them and teach them through example how to love Him too. I will love their father. I will respect him and protect his honor and authority as the head of our home. I will love my children with all my heart.

4. To be a knowledgeable, caring, edcated, well-rounded and efficient nurse. To be honest in all dealings with doctors, staff and patients. To be humble enough to admit mistakes and to ask for help when needed. To be compassionate and loving, even when I don't feel like it. To be able to help provide for my family and our needs. To become more educated and knowledgeable about my skill set and abilities. To find a particular area of nursing that grabs my attention and passionately pursue that. To be able to use my skills as a team player, leader, role model and teacher in my profession.

5. To travel, experience different cultures, worldviews, populations, and food. To sleep in a hut in Africa, to spend time in Paris - walking the streets with a bright red umbrella in the rain. To eat curry in India, pet a monkey in the Amazon, and wander aimlessly through Machu Pichu. To get sidetracked, lost, disoriented, frustrated, hopelessly enraptured, totally enthralled, and fall in love with other places. To be able to give time, money, and resources in efficient and meaningful ways. To work with organizations to help promote clean water, social justice, community development, and economic change.

6. To learn to play the piano better. To be able to sit down and improvise, make up something beautiful and new. To enjoy and love music in a new way. To have it seep into my soul and become a part of me. To be able to play for others' enjoyment and my own. To learn to play the acoustic guitar well, to make music with my husband, to sing, record songs, write music, and lean into the beauty that it embodies.

7. To be healthy - mind, body and soul. To be comfortable in my own skin. To dress well with class and style. To take pride in my appearance for myself and my husband. To be active, spend time outdoors, exercise regularly, put good food in my body, cook and clean my house regularly, always smell good and entertain regularly in my home. To regularly take time for myself, to focus on my needs once in awhile, to learn how to say "no" to things. Stop trying to fruitlessly please everyone.

8. To learn to paint and draw. To set up an area in my house that is reserved for creativity - splashes of color, loud music, fresh flowers, and lots of inspiration. To paint what I feel, vividly, candidly and just for the fun of expression. To have this be an outlet for my creatively wild side. To dance, love, laugh, cry, emote, and feel.

9. To ignite my passion for photography - to have a nice camera someday and some neat editing equipment. To use it generously and often. To not get bogged down with all the technical details but love it for what it is - the snapshot of a moment, a fleeting glimpse, a poetic expression, a memory not to be forgotten.
10. To never give up - no matter what crazy, difficult or heartbreaking circumstances may come. To trust God always as the author and perfector of my faith. To become a better listener, a better talker, a better prayer warrior, a more steadfast friend, a reliable employee, and a loving sister and daughter.
What can we do today about these dreams of ours? What are the things that are hindering us in our walk with God and in the realization of these passions and pursuits that He's placed within us? Dear friends - let's commit to pray for one another on this unsophisticated journey that we are on together. I pray for you - that the Lord would be near to you today, that you would be able to throw off the things that have caused you to lose sight of your worth and potential for greatness. You are each a beloved child of the King! Henri Nouwen once observed,
"Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unloveable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves again that I am a nobody...I am no good, I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned." Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the 'Beloved'. Being the beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence." That is who we are, my friends. Beloved of the Lord. May you realize your worth and your dreams more fully today.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Beautiful Comfort


It's so rare that I get these brief, blissful moments down in Seattle any more that I find myself drinking them up like a favorite coffee. Aww...the same, well-worn Starbucks, the same, albeit a bit sun-faded comfy green velvet chairs...the feeling of comfort and familiarity. Even a year away can't dull this feeling of "home" I get when here. And oh the moment of driving south on I-5, up the hill and onto the bridge when suddenly the clouds part and sun streams down over the glistening city skyline. Hello Seattle! I've missed you. Everything smells of gingerbread, nutmeg and caramel. Outside it's threatening to be an absolutely gorgeous day!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Allow Me to Elaborate...

I remember once, many years ago, having the desire to weed through Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" with the gusto of a child ripping through Christmas wrapping. I always seemed to make it through the first few paragraphs of the introduction before I gave up and threw it on the shelf in exasperation. It's not that Russian literature doesn't excite me or even that it's particularly difficult to understand...more often than not, I confess, the reason I have yet to read past the first book of this novel is that I can never keep all the many characters straight. There are numerous main characters in the story and each seems to have at least 3 or 4 different Russian names that they go by, completely confusing any non-native Russian speaker. Alas, I have once again picked up this book with the hope of completing it for the first time. Chapter by chapter I find myself more compelled and intrigued by the intricacies of these characters' lives. How surprised I was to find myself touched, inspired, and convicted by some of the more difficult passages! The scene in chapter 4 of Book 2, for example is of a woman who approaches a very respected elder of the local monastery with her questions, hoping for a blessing from him. She says, "You see, I close my eyes and think: if everyone has faith, where does it come from? And then they say that it all came originally from fear of the awesome phenomena of nature and that there is nothing to it at all. What? I think, all my life I've believed, then I die, and suddenly there's nothing, and...it's terrible! What, what will give me back my faith? When I was a little child, mechanically, without thinking about anything...how can it be proved?" She is asking the age old questions: does my faith mean anything? Is it really real? How can I know for sure that what I believe is truth?

The elder goes on to answer her that she can know the reality of her faith by actively loving and serving others. By putting others above herself she is able to love with the love of Christ and therefore will experience him in the most pure and real way. The woman then muses, more to herself than the elder, that for years she has loved people in this way...nursing them to health, wrapping their wounds, caring for them in their illness. And that no matter the amount of love and care she has for them...at times it's just not enough. Why? Because they are not always grateful, they don't appreciate the love she gives or the work that goes into making them comfortable.

This really resonated with me as a nurse, because honestly, I have have felt this way at times. That no matter how much love and compassion I have for my patients, no matter how tenderly I wrap their wounds or listen to their stories - at times it's not enough. My love is not enough. It's not fulfilling for them and it's not possible for me to continue to pour out all of me. THIS is one of the reasons for MY faith...I need the love of Jesus so strongly in my life and in my work as a nurse. His Spirit moves through me and works in me so that when I love and care for others - it is His love, His compassion, His empathy and care that my patients receive. Just a thought from this great book I'm coming to love...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Thing I'm Sure Of...

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" - Isaiah 30:18-21

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dog Poop, New Friends, and Carmel Lattes

Today I walked with a new friend down on Bellingham Bay. There is this AMAZING coffee shop with a view from the top floor overlooking the water and if you stand in just the right spot you can't see the ground at all. It's as if you're floating above the ocean or on the deck of a boat heading out to sea. The boardwalk over the water wasn't long enough as we came to it's end more than once, the conversation flowing easily as if we'd known each other forever. This friend had brought their dog and I was enraptured with the amount of attention we drew because of him. One woman went so far as to thank us for picking up his dog poop and throwing it away, "thank you so much! Some people just don't care and it's rude to just leave the poop sitting there!" I couldn't believe the passion she had about dog poop - I mean, there were almost tears in her eyes as she thanked us, handed us another dog poop bag, "just in case", and walked away. Another gentleman approached us as we were sitting on a bench talking. He launched into a long diatribe about his third wife and the fact that she hated dogs and since marrying her he had felt so alone, not able to have his canine companions close by. Mothers with babies came up hoping to pet the dog and got much love, tail wags, and face licks in return.

The bay was scintillating and the clouds...ahhh...the clouds. It was gorgeous today, the right mixture of sea breeze and sun; my toes were frozen by the end of our four hours together - I, of course, was wearing only my flip flops. Although I have to say that this particular pair are the most comfortable I've ever owned. They are from Rio de Janeiro and were a gift from my Brazilian sister, Fernanda. I have this thing about flip flops...my friends have always made fun of me for it...I just don't feel comfortable in any other kind of shoe. I was born to live in warmer climates.

I know this is going to sound weird and maybe a little rude, but it's honest. I don't really like making new friends. I have a lot of friends and I make friends easily but it tends to grate upon my need and deep desire for depth and all-consuming relationships. New friendships are so casual and just skim the surface. You're probably laughing at me. I know you can't get to the point of no return with anyone unless you've first met them and gone through the awkward, "what are we?" stage. Are we compatible as friends? Do we have anything in common? Do I like you? Do you seem to like spending time with me? Does this relationship have a point? *sigh* it's no wonder I scare people away sometimes. It's not fulfilling for me to have many such casual encounters with people whom I may like and spend some time with. Oh, I sound so desperately insensitive and selfish. I think what I'm really trying to say is this - I miss my friends. I miss sitting in a room, not saying anything but just knowing that's it's alright because you've gone through so much together. I miss the uninhibited laughter and memories. Jesus had just a few really close friends, right? More than anything else, except Jesus of course, I love getting to know people and becoming known by them with the purpose of more than just casual friendship. Ask me hard questions!!! Show an interest in getting to know the real me!!! I'll do the same for you - and that's what I love.

Ok...I know this is just the mood I'm in right now. Tomorrow I'll probably look back and think, "silly girl, don't you ever think before you write?" Of course I like making new friends...

A Breath, A Breeze, A Fleeting Moment

I was reading in Matthew this morning and was struck once again by Jesus' reminder that we need to be watchful and ready for the day He returns. So often we go about our days not truly thinking about the end or preparing our hearts for eternity with our Lord. I know I am guilty of this. When I sit at home, alone, not pursuing more meaningful relationships and just...existing - I am guilty of this. I woke up this morning thankful for breath in my body! I so often take it for granted, I don't even think about it. Life is so fragile, we are as a breath, a breeze, one fleeting moment. And in this moment that we have Jesus encourages us to be productive and also watchful, ready at any time for when it will all be over. "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 24:45-51. Whew...

What would happen, do you think, if we truly began to understand the fragility of our lives, if we really took to heart the fact that we are as a breath...here one moment, gone the next? This life that we do have would be so much more meaningful! I know I wouldn't want to waste it watching movies all day, sitting around perusing the internet, and alone as I have been. Every touch, every prayer and interaction, every divine appointment would be so much more significant. What would it be like for me if I knew this day might very well be my last? "He who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:13-14. Come on, people! Stand firm! Be watchful! Be ready! Live the lives you've been given to the fullest!

Treasure those around you, hold them close, let every interaction be meaningful to some extent. I suppose this creates an urgency to love and to see people come to Jesus, doesn't it? Jesus, give us a glimpse of our lives through Your eyes, today. Precious Father, you have given us the ability to love and give and care for others, to establish ourselves, and to be faithful in your calling to be watchful. We want to live lives of meaning and purpose, right now, where we are and with the people you have surrounded us with. Jesus, help me to be an extension of You, today. Knowing that You are coming unexpectedly should really motivate us to always be prepared. We are not to live irresponsibly, just sitting around and waiting, doing nothing, seeking self-serving pleasure, and using the fact that you haven't come yet as an excuse not to do Your work of building Your Kingdom. We shouldn't develop a false security based on precise calculations of events; or letting our curiosity about the end divert us from doing Your work. I praise You, Lord for You are everlasting and ever-faithful! "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matthew 24:35. I cling to that promise today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where I'm Headed...Where I've Been

There are so many things I wish I could be doing with my life right now. I read other people's blogs and look at the friends I have around me thinking, "they know exactly what God has called them to do!" I'm so unsure of where I'm headed that I have begun reveling and living in my past - a time when I was in school and had classes, the same friends, and my protected little world that I didn't need to leave or branch out from. The Lord has been reminding me of my passions and dreams lately, encouraging me and challenging me to think outside of myself. I'm learning that it's okay to expect great things from God, in fact - He wants us to! Where are you calling me, Lord? Is it here? In this little community that I have just joined? Is it on the far reaches of the globe in a small travel clinic in the bushes of Africa? Where do you want me to go? Who do you want me to touch? I want to use the skills and desires that He's given me to reflect His glory. It's okay to be content with where I am right now, I have a job in a medical clinic 1/2 mile from the Canadian border, am becoming more and more passionate about loving and serving people and am learning much about my relationship with Christ.

God has created me with a lot of passion. I LOVE people, I LOVE being with them, investing in them, touching them, praying with and for them, spending time talking over coffee, and avidly seeking adventurous moments with them. I LOVE nursing, I LOVE being Jesus' hands and feet here on earth, getting to know and care for people in some of their most vulnerable moments, using my hands, eyes, mind, and heart to provide compassionate care. I love photography and writing: capturing moments of emotion. I want to be able to use both someday for my enjoyment and for the enjoyment of others. I love to travel - to drink of life and other people in ways I never could within the borders of my own limited experiences. Use me Lord!! I love children and families and speaking into people's lives and hearts. This is me...but it's so vague and I don't know what direction to take or where to head next. God, will you call me to a place where I can use my talents and enjoy the things I love to do? That place could be here...and I know that what He is calling me to do - is invest in the life I'm living right now. Create in me a pure heart, Father, one that does not seek after things that are not of You. I don't want to desire and pursue other people's dreams and plans just because they are attractive and seem adventurous to me. I will follow you - wherever you lead me. I'm trusting that you will close doors and open them to the paths you want me to follow. I will be content in this season of my life - choosing each day to honor and pursue you above all else, to bless those I come in contact with today, and to live my life to the fullest, praising and bringing you glory. USE ME, LORD!!