May 23, 2014

on being a nurse: when it hurts

During my commute to work, I pray that God would use me to bless the people I will come in contact with, namely my patients and co-workers. I don't always know what that will look like until God puts me in certain situations (and sometimes I don't even know if I am being a blessing - just being honest!).

Being a nurse will put you in unique settings and circumstances . . . it allows you the opportunity to walk with people as they face suffering and grief head on. 

Facing the loss of a loved one, the loss of hopes and dreams and what could've been. Facing the losses that death, disease and trauma bring.

I have been a nurse for six years and these situations are never easy. Honestly, I typically do not feel well-equipped in these moments. In these times, I am forced to rely more on God - which I am thankful for. I know I cannot do my job unless He is working in and through me.

I faced such a situation earlier this week. I started off my day wondering - what if I fall apart in front of my patient, when she needs me to be strong? What if the family sees me cry or get choked up when I try to speak? What do I even say? What can I say?

I knew that nothing I did or said could change their circumstances. But how could I offer support? What could I actually do to benefit them in some way?

I will tell you that I truly believe that it is an honor and a privilege to be a nurse. It is an honor to walk with people in the midst of deep heartache and pain. To share tears, to listen, to be present.

It is sweet of God to give me patients who are believers. I know I can offer them something more in these moments of grief. 

I can encourage them to hold onto God and His Word, which never fails. The Word of God is living, His presence and promises are the only thing that will not crumble under the weight of suffering and the trials of this life.

This very firm foundation will carry them through the deepest pain of their life. When I can give people scripture and words of encouragement, I feel like I can actually offer something. Something that will last, something that can give hope in the midst of loss. 

There are many other things we can offer in these moments . . . the comfort of having support from family, pastoral staff, a cool cloth or a fresh pillow (as simple as that may sound) . . . if I can offer anything that might bring the slightest bit of relief, if it can make a difference, then I am so thankful.

The journey of grief and loss is one that our patients and families take . . . and it is one that is not without challenge when you are the nurse caring for them. It hurts to have your heart open, but I am so thankful for the opportunities that God has given me to care for people during these times.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit
Psalm 34:18 
The Lord is near to all who call on Him
Psalm 145:18 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  
 and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
    and the flame shall not consume you. 
Isaiah 43:2

May 18, 2014

Sweet weddings

Did I ever tell you that I love weddings? Because I do. :)

Yesterday my sweet friends Amy and Jeremy got married and it was beautiful. And fun. A perfect mix of both.

I loved getting to be a part of this! It was also so sweet to be reunited with old friends and to spend time with them over the past few days leading up to the wedding.

I was honored to be involved in baking cupcakes for the reception, as well as just getting to see how everything came together.

Thursday I went over to Amy's apartment to help decorate/assemble the cupcakes. Her family and friends tackled 260 cupcakes in 2 1/2 hours. I would say that's an accomplishment.

Another thing I loved about her wedding is that they did it all themselves with the help of family and friends. The decorations, setting up/tearing down, flowers, music, cupcakes and SO many other things that I'm sure I'm missing.

It was beautiful to watch friends and family rally around this couple to support them, to work together to do the preparations and decorations and so many things surrounding the wedding. I just kept admiring this and being thankful that I got to see something so harmonious.

I also kept admiring Amy's poise. Every time I saw her, she seemed so calm and went with the flow. It was also priceless to see the excitement she and Jeremy had to be with one another.

Yay weddings :) Yay friends, yay family, yay homemade and beautiful things.

May 16, 2014

reflections lately

If you haven't listened to this album yet, you should. It is beautiful and full of Gospel truth and God has used it to melt my heart.

I was listening to Brokenness Aside and Your Glory / Nothing But the Blood this week and it reminded me of Isaiah 6 and Tim Keller's sermon titled, "The Gospel and Your Self."

The prophet Isaiah has an encounter with God that leaves Him undeniably changed. Tim Keller talks about moving from seeing God as a concept to God as a reality in your life, as Isaiah did. 

He says:

What is the difference between concept and reality? It’s a matter of glory (weightiness). 
God as a concept is lighter than you. When you bring God as a concept into your life, you shape it. It fits in around your existing patterns. It doesn’t move you around. It doesn’t “quake” you.  
If you believe in God and it just hasn’t changed you very much, it’s just a concept.
A God concept can’t change your beliefs around. It just fits in with your existing beliefs. 
Basically, we don’t believe in God in such a way that He comes down and re-arranges our beliefs. 
When the real God comes into your life, when you get into the presence of the real God, things give way in your life to His glory. Things that you’ve always believed and you believe very deeply are changed by His word, because God has more glory than your beliefs. He can change things that you think. And also, instead of God fitting into your agenda, God becomes your new agenda. He radically changes our priorities.

Your agenda, my agenda, apart from God, is to have a very safe, tidy little life. And to watch your back and to be careful and to hedge your bets and to look out for number one. God says bravery, self-sacrifice, sacrifice your individual needs because I’m more real than your individual needs, I have glory. 
When God the reality comes into your life, all that stuff starts to change. Every single person who’s really met God is aware of a time when God went from being a concept to being a reality. Has that happened to you? Do you know when that was?
Isaiah 6 is such a beautiful passage that points to the Gospel in a powerful way. Seeing how God draws us near, humbles us, shows His glory to be so beautiful . . . and atones for our sin when we had no merit, no way to earn His favor.

My life is yours
My hope is in you only
My heart you hold
'Cause you made this sinner holy

Your glory is so beautiful
I fall onto my knees in awe
And the heartbeat of my life
Is to worship in your light
'Cause your glory is so beautiful

"Your Glory" - All Sons & Daughters

May 8, 2014

what contentment is not

Several weeks ago, someone made a comment to me about my singleness that slowly evolved into mild anxiety about where I am in life. Am I doing enough? Am I going to suddenly wake up at the age of 50 still single and it's all my fault because I didn't try hard enough or go to every single social event?

A few days later, I met with a sweet friend who spoke truth and encouragement to me about this. If I really believe that God is sovereign, than I can rest instead of worry that I'm somehow missing out in life. It's all about His purposes and His plans, not my personal agenda or timeline, anyway. I can also rest, knowing that He is a kind and loving Father, and He will provide for all of my needs. I don't always know what that will look like, but I can trust that He is going to carry me through life and that His ways are better than my own.

Anyways, when I was questioning my whereabouts and direction in life (i.e. do I need to rearrange my life in order to be chasing men), my friend asked me - what would you change about your life?

I honestly answered her - I would change nothing.

I really truly enjoy my life. So I'm not dating anyone and there are no prospects right now. I'm OK with that. Is that completely weird and alien? I have a wonderful job, a wonderful roommate, friends, volunteer work and other hobbies that keep me busy . . . I know that God is calling me to know Him more and the most important thing is my relationship with Him, not a particular status, relationship, position or achievement level.

It reminds me of a sermon that I've mentioned at least once before - "Learning Contentment" by Beau Hughes. At one point, he says:

What are you afraid to be content about because you believe God will leave you there if you grew content? 
So many singles I talked to at the singles conference were actually afraid to nurture a heart of contentment in regards to their singleness because they were afraid that God would just leave them there if they became content in singleness.

We are afraid that if we are content, then God will leave us in our same circumstances. It seems so silly, doesn't it? Yet, I would be lying if I told you I never had this thought.

It's OK to be content with where God has you, and it doesn't mean that God will just leave you in your current stage of life. God is always teaching us to depend on Him and trust Him in a deeper way . . . whether that's in a season of waiting or a season of transition and new circumstances.

May 5, 2014

a simple exercise in preaching truth to yourself

I am thankful for a faith that requires me to engage my mind and my thoughts . . . and practically apply truth in day-to-day life.

Sometimes, I just want to float through the day . . . to live based on my feelings or emotions (which is super dangerous if you are a woman :) ).

But that is no way to live, since our emotions are fickle and my mood can change in the twinkling of an eye, for no apparent reason. 

You and I must make a choice . . . a choice to either listen to our anxious thoughts and feelings, or a choice to speak the truth to ourselves. We have to be proactive and take action, not just float through the motions. We must engage with the truth of the Gospel.

As Paul David Tripp says, "No one is more influential in your life than you are. Because no one talks to you more than you do."

There is a post at desiring God on this topic, and the author states:

In our sin, we constantly find our responses to life in our fallen world to be disconnected from the theology that we confess. Anger, fear, panic, discouragement stalk our hearts and whisper in our ears a false gospel that will lure our lives away from what we say we believe.
The battleground, says Tripp, is meditation. What is it that is capturing your idle thoughts? What fear or frustration is filling your spare moments?
Will you just listen to yourself, or will you start talking? No, preaching — not letting your concerns shape you, but forming your concerns by the gospel.
Tullian Tchividjian also writes (link here):
Because we are so naturally prone to look at ourselves and our performance more than we do to Christ and his performance, we need constant reminders of the gospel. 
Day by day, what we must do practically can be experienced only as we come to a deeper understanding of what we are positionally—a deeper understanding of what’s already ours in Christ.
The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more of Jesus and his performance for me. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with my effort over God’s effort for me makes me increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.
We can daily press deeper into the cross and apply Gospel truth to the untouched areas of our lives. To combat lies and feelings with the objective truths found in scripture. 

A friend challenged me with an exercise that has benefitted me greatly over the years. She asked me to think through and write down - "What lies are you believing right now?" Followed up by, "What scripture disproves this?" It is a practical way to confront the lies that can so easily sneak up and interject themselves into our lives.

May 1, 2014

open hands

From Him and through Him and for Him are all things . . .
- Romans 11:36

Ohhh, it has been too long.

But I am back :)

For now, at least.

Anyway . . . a friend of mine recently talked about living with open hands. Living in a way where you are fully yielded to God, not withholding anything from Him. Your hands are not clenched tightly around any area of your life, because nothing is off limits for God. He can take and give freely.

If I fully believe that God created me, has drawn me to Himself and is the one who sustains, guides and fulfills me . . . then how can anything be off limits for Him?

Scripture says that all things were created by God and for God. 

That causes me to ask . . . what am I living for?

Am I living for the one who created me and saved me? Am I fully available to Him? Am I finding my fulfillment and purpose in Him? 

It frees me from living for my own agenda or timeline. It changes my perspective.

My small group is going through a study called "Experiencing God." I read something this morning that goes along with living this way:

God will start to make Himself known to you simply as He would to a child. As you respond to Him in childlike trust, a whole new way of looking at life will begin to unfold for you. Your life will be fulfilling. You will never sense an emptiness or a lack of purpose in your life. God always fills your life with Himself. 

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