Friday, July 30, 2010

Lessons From the Cow Girls of the Dusty Trails





One the favorite aspects of my job is being able to research different topics for different programs. One of the programs that I put together recently was "Cowgirls of the Dusty Trail". This program idea was sparked by this absolutely awesome totally chick flick board game that I found BRAND NEW at the Good Will for about $3.00. It's called "The Cowgirl's Ride to Truth". I don't think explaining it in this blog post will do the game justice, but it's a game designed to encourage honesty and intimacy in female friendships, with these awesome little "western charms" like little boots, spurs, horses for game pieces, and hats for an added bonus. Seriously, ever since buying that game I've wanted to make some trail mix, whip up some margaritas and gather together all of my dearest girlfriends who are currently scattered across the entirety of the US of A, and laugh and cry until the cows came home.
So off to google I went, researching quotes and stories of the very first cow girls of the West. Not surprisingly, I walked away inspired and enlightened by the courageous lives of these women, who didn't allow society norms and limitations of the understanding of their sex to prevent them from following their passions and dreams. I think that we can all learn a thing or two from them, so I decided to post the widely unknown list of "Cow Girl Smarts".



Cow Girl Smarts



1. Sometimes you have to buck the norms to pursue your dreams

2. adventure and Excitement Beat Housework

3. Be tough, but revel in your femininity

4. When life throws you to the ground, get back on the horse
5. Don’t let others belittle your achievements

6. Accept the nature of things

7. Work hard and look after other cowpokes

8. Never steal another cowgirl’s horse or thunder

9. Attack life like it’s a 1000 pound steer

10. Act on your beliefs rather than protesting for them

11. Use common sense, if you don’t, the cattle will knock it into you

12. Let the land rejuvenate your soul

13. Walk beside your pardner, not in front

14. When cow poking doesn’t pay, be resourceful

15. Embrace urban cowgirls


Yeehaw! Lasso those rules, and you'll be ready to face anything on the trail of life!

Courageous Trust






Never before have I had to "Trust in the Lord with all my heart" than I have this last year. I've come to realize that I'm really quite a courageous person by nature, which has actually been a slightly shocking personal realization. When I think about the things that I've done, the choices I've made, the places I've lived and the people I've met, I'm baffled at my courage to "take on life". It certainly is not of me.
Throughout this year ( and sprinkled through most of my blog posts,) there has been a reoccurring theme of learning what it means in every sense of the word to trust my Savior with a deep abandon. Friends, I believe that I've finally gone beyond the "Sunday school" childhood mentality; I have had my fill of milk, and I have graduated to solid food.
I've learned that in order to trust God, that means we must completely put ourselves aside; it means we must become extremely quiet, and bring our sense of self down to the lowest possible caliber, so that He can show us in our incapable humanity and sinful nature how much we actually do need Him and desire to see His hand on our lives.
There has been an old "Point of Grace" song that has been in my head for awhile now. The words are so solid and so full of truth.



God Forbid

The more I know your power, Lord
The more I'm mindful
How casually we speak and sing Your name
How often we have come to You
With no fear or wonder
And called upon You only for what we stand to gain

God forbid, that I find You so familiar
That I think of You as less than who You are
God forbid, that I should speak of You at all
Without a humble reverence in my heart
God forbid

Lord, I often talk about Your love and mercy
How it seems to me Your goodness has no end
It frightens me to think that I could take You for granted
Though You're closer than a brother
You're more than just a friend


You are Father, God Almighty
Lord of Lords, Your King of Kings
Beyond my understanding
No less than everything


Amen? Choosing to trust God means choosing to believe that He is trustworthy. It means that we choose to believe that He is capable, powerful, awesome, incredible and worthy of taking residence of every area of our life. May God forgive us for every losing this mentality; for ever forgetting His authority over our lives.

May you experience the transforming power of submitting your will, your pain, your anxiety, your fear, your confusion, your blessings, your money, your job, your dreams, your hopes, your desires, your lover, your children, your family....

To THE provider, THE Sustainer, THE Rock, THE Shepherd, THE Creator, THE Comforter, THE Guide, THE Lover, THE Confidant, THE Healer... THE Lord of the of this world, the Inn Keeper of our hearts and the joy our lives....




Forever, and ever.

Amen.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gaps with a Purpose




Something that God has been teaching me lately is that there is a divine purpose for the voids in our lives. Things aren't empty or "incomplete" for no good reason, and the timing of when that void gets filled (or if it ever gets filled), is not for us deal with.

We live in a society that rushes to "fill in the gaps". It can be as simple and frivelous as buying a picture to hang on the wall because something is "missing" in the completion of the decor, or that "poor, young single person" whom is the working "project" of all his friends, because it simply isn't good to be single.

Why do we get nervous when there is a gap to be filled? And what makes us view it as a gap? Am I the only one who spends time pondering questions like these? (Right now I can visualize at least 5 of my faithful readers shaking their heads, with a slight smirky smile). But really, think about this. What is it that communicates to us that something is "missing", "incomplete" or "not whole"?

I think the answer varies from person to person, but I am certain in saying that culture plays a huge role in what is identified as a "gap", and that same culture is quick to offer so many ways in which to fill that gap. I won't spend time telling you the various "fulfilling" resources that culture offers, I'm sure you can do that on your own; but I am going to spend time telling you how the voids/ gaps in our lives are not only "okay", but serve a divine purpose in our walk with the Lord.

I think the most tangible example that one can use as a "gap" in life is a relationship and/or a spouse. Society says that if you are without that, there is something "missing". Same goes for the "American Dream", which is commonly indentified as a well paying job, a spouse, kids, the white picket fence and dream home. Unfortunantly, there are far too many individuals ( Christians as well as non-Christians) who go through life searching for ways to fill those voids and wondering what could possibly be so wrong with them that that void isn't filled. But the truth is friends, that I believe God uses those voids in our lives so that HE can be the one to fill that gap.


Here is what God revealed to me: God has given me a deep desire for marriage. Every day that desire deepens. I want to come along side of my husband, encourage him, uplift and support him, and have those same blessings in return. God designed woman to desire that, and I think that that is beautiful. I have had the choice as to whether or not to be fearful as to why that gap has yet to be filled, but what I've come to learn in a very real way is that those empty gaps are what draws us closer to our Father. God wants to fill all of those gaps in our lives, and He wants us to truly know within the depths of our heart, that He and only He, can have that privilege.

I am always aware that sharing pieces of my personal life is a risk of my own personal vulnerability, but my prayer is that by being vulnerable and honest, I may minister to the heart of at least one individual, and that that individual would in turn muster up the courage to do the same for another.


May you experience the peace that comes when you allow Jesus to stand in all the gaps of your life. May you have the courage to accept, see and embrace the ways in which He can meet every need, sealing each one with His grace and understanding.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Broken




Just like a piece of precious china, that has shattered on the ground


I praise you that you are my mender, and every piece is to be found


I thank you that in my brokeness, you humbly allow me to see


That you withold no good from your children, and that includes me.


And when you choose to do so, it is only to help me see


That the greatest love I could experience, is to draw ever close to thee.


So I draw close to thee, with my broken heart in my hands


and I crawl into your arms, knowing that you understand.


You take your finger and gently wipe each tear away


At your feet my pain and burdens I do lay.


So I praise you, oh mender of my heart


I praise you that even in my brokeness, I am truly whole


and that even though the cares of this life certainly take their toll


You take your hand upon my heart, healing it once again


So if it means being broken in order for you to mend


May I always be broken, again and again and again.












Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blessings from my Blunt Angel with Scissors and Wings




Ever get in a rut? You know, that place where you desire change or know that you need a change, but can't get out of that stinkin' rut? There are many kinds of "ruts". There is the clothing rut; those are the kind of people who so badly want to add color to their wardrobe, and yet they always go for the safety and security of black and white, and maybe, if they are feeling particularly daring, they'll go for a sage green. Another common rut is the hair rut, and that my friends, is the rut that I've been in for quite some time.

If my hair could talk, it would have a story to tell. It has seen many different lengths and colors, changing with my age or the latest movie. For awhile I've been trying to grow it out, and thanks to my fabulous hair dresser and dear friend, I've been succeeding in the goal. However, I still entered a "rut" with the style.

I've always been a rather "safe" person. People look at me and consider me to be quite a conservative woman, to which I am, but I think that for some reason or another, I'm afraid to express other sides of me through my appearance. At one point I had a nose little ring ( a stud), and I just loved it, and got compliments on it all the time. It was like my little way of telling the world "See, I'm not all "Anne of Green Gables and super nicey nice!". It was my attempt at a rebellious statement that there is more to this senior citizen loving person then what meets the eye. :)

Then, one day, I was completely convicted that the nose ring had to go. I was having a 1-1 with a gentleman who had Parkinson's Disease; a man who used to be an optometrist, with a gentle spirit and a great sense of humor. I was having a conversation with him when, out of the blue, he says "I can't concentrate on what you are saying, because all I'm doing is looking at that thing in your nose". It was said very tactfully, respectfully, and it totally caught me off guard. After work that day, I pulled it out, deeply convicted that if this little nose stud was going to get in the way between me and making a difference in the lives of the people at my job, then it had to go.

I think that we find comfort in "ruts". Before something is changed, it has to get to a point where we simply can't stand it anymore. My hair dresser and friend loved me enough to be very blunt about my hair, and what I was doing with it. The moral of the story is that I was beginning to look like my clients, which is not a good thing. She added a few layers, gave me some bangs, and truly made me realize the potential that I have in the "physical assets" department.

I've always been fairly self confident about my looks, with the occasional set backs here and there in different areas, but what I realized this morning is that I've been so focused on other people and meeting their needs, that my needs have kind of taken a back seat, and this was evident by the "pommadore" on my head. I will be 24 on August 16th, and yet it doesn't matter if I'm in my teens or 20's, I've always felt old, and being around senior citizens at least 40 hours a week has not helped in that department. I thank God for those little blunt angels with wings who swoop in, and remind you that really, when it comes right down to it, not only are you beautiful, but you actually can have sex appeal, praise the Lord! For heavens sakes, just because I'm constantly around people who don't feel the need to be sexy doesn't mean that I should abandon the cause!

As with all my posts, the heart of the matter is "cut and styled" into God's truth. And that truth is that when we allow ourselves to take positive self criticism, we can grow and become a better version of ourselves, but further more, to be reminded of the importance of placing our identity as men and women in Christ, and to not find it in the physical representation of ourselves. However, this life experience was also a good reminder that how we feel about ourselves is often a reflection of how we choose to present ourselves to the world.



So here's to my blunt angel with scissors and wings, who helped me to see all kinds of things. Who helped me to see that even though I work with the old, I have so much more of my life to unfold, and with a little tender loving care, helped me to see that through some sexy hair!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stillness



When I was a little girl (and up to the present) being physically still was never an issue for me. I loved to sit on the couch and read book after book, color, draw and yes, write. I used to have three ring notebooks filled with short stories and poems, and half filled notebooks that would pile up under my bed, which would drive my mother crazy. Even though I have no problem being still physically, I do have the challenge of lacking stillness in my mind and heart. I think people look at artists', and think that they are calm, quiet people on the outside, but I can attest to the fact that on the inside, that is rarely the case.


Some of the most beautiful things are absolutely still. The physical things that come to mind are a sunset or sun rise, a young doe, an oil painting, a garden, and two lovers sitting side by side, reading different books by the glow of a fireplace. We live in a world that's main objective is to stimulate it's inhabitants through every means possible. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that often Jesus speaks in moments of stillness and reflection. Don't get me wrong, I also believe that God speaks through the stimulous of the world, but there is something so powerful about silence. Not just physical silence, but emotional and spiritual silence. A silence that brings you down as far as you possibly can go, and the only thing that you can hear is stillness, and through that stillness, the gentle whisper of a Savior who often gets drowned out in the busyness of our days.


1st Peter 3:4 in the Bible talks about the importance of having a "gentle and quiet spirit". In the earlier days of my walk with God, I used to read that verse and go "um, Lord, you know who you've made me to be, right? REALLY?!" but as I've grown older, this verse has become a prayer of my heart and life, and I've begun to see the fruits of this prayer. And, the longer that I walk this journey of the single life, I am beginning to see how God has been using this time to refine my listening skills, giving me a sensitive spirit to those that I come in contact with.


My prayer is that you will take the time sit in the stillness of His presence, hearing the gentle whispers of the Savior that is calling and drawing you out of the noise of the world, into a peace that surpasses all understanding.


Friday, July 16, 2010

One of the Greatest Gifts



This afternoon as I was driving to a destination for lunch, I found myself saying this prayer of thanks "Lord, I think the greatest gift that I can give myself is to trust and turn to you, amen." It was so simple, and yet so profound. I am humbled by the amount of hours I have spent in my life hanging onto things so tightly, creating anxiety and pain for myself, and the people in my life. To simply be able to trust and to KNOW with everything in you that you are God's, and that absolutely NOTHING can touch you and bring you down when He's holding onto your hand, lifting you out of the pits of depression, anxiety, dispair, guilt, and pain, is the greatest peace that we could ever have as Christians. Knowing that Christ has already fought the war, and yet continues to arm His children for mighty battles on this earth makes it a privilege to live; a privilege to put on that armor.


Friends, please don't forget that we live in this world, but we are certainly not of it. And, as a result, we will face trials that we cannot endure without the strength of the Lord. The beauty of those trials is that it forces us on our knees, coming to the Lord in humble submission and desperation. The enemy is present, and not only does he seek to kill, steal and destroy, but he does. he certainly does. Take comfort in the divine truth that in Christ, we need not fear nor tremble, but are triumphant and washed in the blood of the Lamb.


Rest in that truth, believe in that truth, claim that truth as your own.

To God be the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Wish


One of the few joys of moving is when you find things that you've misplaced at some time or another. I experienced that joy today when I came across an old "Point of Grace" C.D. that I forgot I had. On my way to work today, I popped it in my C.D. player ( because now I have a car that actually HAS a C.D. player!) and listened to the different songs. When track number 17 came along, I found myself singing the lyrics as if it were about myself. Here is the song:



I Wish




I wish I didn't feel so helpless
I wish I didn't act so selfish
I wish I didn't wring my hands night and day
My hair was a little bit smoother
My jeans fit a little bit looser
And I always knew the right things to say
And I wish I wouldn't hide what's been going on inside
And I wish you wouldn't get scared and run away

Chorus
I wish I was doing better
With all the things that matter,
I guess I got some learning to do
I wish everyone had someone
To hold em and to love em
The way I'm always gonna love you
I wish wishes came true

I was there was a cure for cancer
I wish somebody had an answer
And all God's children, never got hurt
I wish Eve never bit that apple
You men never went to battle
And I didn't get so mad at the world
I wish I was more like Jesus
And could pick up all the pieces
And make a better life for my baby girl

Chorus
I wish I was doing better
With all the things that matter,
I guess I got some learning to do
I wish everyone had someone
To hold em and to love em
The way I'm always gonna love you
I wish wishes came true

For everything I am wishing
I know someone up there is listening
So, I say my prayers when I go to bed
Ahh, ahh, ahh
Oh pray my wishes come true



How true is this song? How many of you have wished for all of these things at one point of time in your life? I would venture to say that at least 90 percent of my readers have. We live in such a broken, sinful world and we are broken and sinful in it. There are some people who would say that it's foolish to wish for anything, because what happens is going to happen, regardless to if you"wished" for it or not. However, people like Walt Disney made billions off of the concept of "wishing". "When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, everything you heart desires will come true". I know that I have wished on more then one star in my life time, and if you were being honest with me, you'd say you have too.


Think about this: How many times have you found yourself saying the sentence " I wish"? After this song really soaked into my heart, I realized that I say that sentence far too often. Here are a few of my daily "I wish" statements:



"I wish I could get out of bed sooner in the mornings"

"I wish I could discipline myself to take a walk in the mornings"

"I wish I wasn't so messy"

"I wish I could figure this out"

"I wish I didn't like sugar so much"

"I wish I had curvy ankles"

"I wish my legs were longer"

"I wish I could shut my brain off"

"I wish I got paid more for my job"




These are just a few of the daily wishes in my life! Seeing them typed in black and white ( or in this case, blue) humbles me. If I spent half as much time trusting God and resting in the promises that He has given me as His child, I wouldn't have time to wish myself to be or act differently. Ultimately, I don't think there is anything wrong with "wishing". I think to wish for something is a hopeful state, and "hope does not dissapoint us". But, when you really think about it, wishing for things can often lead to discontentment; however, when it comes to the tragedies that happen in this world, the difficult things that we can't grasp, I think that it is entirely our human nature that "wishes" things were different. We will never be able to fully grasp why God does what He does, especially during the times in life where we are tempted to ask God "why?". It's almost as if the concept of "wishing" is a "disney" version of trying to have control over things in life that we can and cannot control, for whatever reason.


My friends, take comfort in the fact that with God, there is no need to wish. He made those stars that we wished upon in our youth, and He intimately hears those little shallow and honest wishes of our human nature. He may not "make our jeans a little bit looser" (we have the power to do that), and He may not prevent young men from going to battle, but I know that if the Lord wishes one thing of us, it is this:


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight."


Proverbs 3:5


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Follow Me



Have you ever experienced a situation in which God clearly spoke to you through somebody, or something? That moment in time where you literally stop in your tracks, because what that person said or did pretty much had an imaginary flashing red sign hanging on it?

I had that experience today, and I hope that it will bless you in the way that it did me.

This afternoon I had special entertainment for the monthly Birthday party program, when mother nature decided to take it upon herself to ruin our good fun. Due to a tornado warning, all the residents exited the dining room and took the neccesary safety measures.

Shortly after taking a resident to her room, I came upon such a tender, precious scene.

One of my residents ( I'll call her "Ethel") was standing outside of her apartment, searching through what appeared to be a list of some sort. Standing next to this woman was "Merrian", with a somewhat puzzled look on her face. It didn't take me long to realize that "Ethel" was searching for "Merrian's" room number, willing to gently give her directions to her home. You see, "Merrian" has horrible Dementia, and often struggles to find her way back to her room. When I figured out the situation, I told "Merrian" to just follow me, and I'll get her home.

With "Merrian" trailing behind me, I heard the still, small, tender voice of "Ethel" say "Just follow the leader, and they'll take care of you."


After hearing that, I stopped dead in my tracks. First of all, you need to know what kind of person this comment came from. "Ethel" is one of the kindest, gentlest women God has ever placed on this earth. She's probably about 5'1 and 95 pounds, but never have I seen such a big heart. She has this quiet faith and trusting spirit that always puts me at ease whenever I see her. It didn't take me long to realize that God had indentified to me in a very real and tangible way that if we follow Him, not only will He lead us, but He'll take care of us. And, like "Merrian" who suffers from the horrible mind altering disease of Dementia, we get so confused and distraught in our sin and human nature, that we can't find our way home. How I wish I could always have a faith like little "Ethel", trusting that the one who leads us will take care of us!


May this beautiful reminder that came in the form of two senior citizens be an encouragement to you that the Jesus that you follow is also the Jesus who takes care of you. As He leads us along the path of our lives, He guides us with His love and illuminates our path with His faithfulness, always bringing His children safely back home.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Living in a Nancy Drew Novel



On my drive home last night, I had the opportunity to talk to one of my dearest friends. She was reassuring me about the state of uncertainty of things in my life. Here's what the dialogue sounded like:


"But Sarah, didn't you read Nancy Drew as a kid? I loved Nancy Drew!"


"Yes, I did read Nancy Drew as a kid, and I loved those books."


"Well then, Sarah, you are in your very own Nancy Drew novel! Life is a mystery, enjoy it!"


"I do like mysteries, but why don't I like them in my own life?"



Why indeed? How can somebody who cannot get enough of Law and Order:SVU, mystery novels, and loved to play the board game "Clue" as a child, not handle mysteries in her own life? Why do we so enjoy figuring out the "Who, why and where" from the comfort of our television or via a paper back novel, but struggle to wait for the own mystery of the events in our lives to be solved?


I think I started reading mystery novels when I was about 10 or 11. It started with the "Box Car Children" , which directly resulted in what I thought to be a brilliant idea: High tailing my chaotic house hold with a pillow case of belongings, and finding some train that was headed far, far away. When I got a little bit older, my mother introduced me to "Nancy Drew", in an attempt to keep my vulnerable little heart away from the "demon teen paper backs" that centered around the characters rebelling against their parents and going out with boys.( AKA "Babysitters Club", "Saddle Club" and "Sweet Valley High") I think I read probably half the books in the series, but when I realized that every single story had the same ending, just a slightly different plot, I moved on to bigger and better things on my literary journey.


As Christians, we have the hope that our stories will all have happy endings. How much better could a happy ending like "heaven" be? The difference between paper back mysteries and our lives is that with a paper back mystery, you get to unfold the events as quickly as you'd like to, within a few hours, a day, a week, a month; however quickly you choose to read it! With our lives we can't read the chapters as quickly, all we can do is trust the author that we won't fall off a cliff, and that we will live "Happily Ever After".


The End


Friday, July 9, 2010

One Year Ago.....



As I sit in my "Happy Place" with an absolute perfect white chocolate raspberry mocha ( half the syrup and half the chocolate, with an extra shot of espresso ) I have found myself reminiscing about where I was one year ago. It is hard to believe that one year ago, I didn't even know that Cannon Falls, MN. existed. At this point of the year I had already given my resignation, and was preparing to move to Hutchinson to finish my degree. I knew that something was ending, and yet beginning, all at the same time. What a strange phenomenon. To go into that category, it is a strange thought to me to not have known the people who have entered my life in the period of one year. These people have encouraged me, guided me, challenged me, laughed with me, cried with me, befriended me, fed me and blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

How blessed it is to know Jesus! How blessed it is to know that He has placed just the right people in our path, at exactly the right time. What a comforting thought it is to know that we don't just wander on this earth, even though at times it feels like we are. Each step we take has a purpose; each step brings us closer to an unseen destination.


This week I tried in vain to find the music for the gospel song "He Never Failed Me Yet". My plan was to sing it at church on Sunday, as it had really been on my heart. It turned out that the music was virtually unobtainable in a short amount of time, which is all I had. Regardless, the lyrics to this song are so close to my heart, so much a testimony of my life. The first time I learned of this song was when I was on music ministry tour for a few weeks during one of my summers in High School. I received the solo for one of the verses, which most definitely was an intervention of the Lord, working in my life through song to impress a truth on my heart. That same truth remains in my heart today.


"I will sing of His mercy! Every day, every hour, He gives me power! I will sing, and give thanks to thee, for all the dangers, toils and snares that He has brought me out! He is my God, and I'll serve Him no matter what the test! Trust and never doubt, Jesus will surely bring you out! He's never failed me yet!


Didn't my God deliver Moses from King Pharaoh? And didn't He cool the fiery furnace for Shadrach, Meshache and Abednego? When I think of what my God can do, He delivered Daniel, I KNOW He'll deliver you! Trust and never doubt, Jesus will surely bring you out! He never failed me yet!


I know my God is able to deliver in times of storm! And I know that He'll keep you safe from all earthly harm. One day when my weary soul is at rest, I'm going home, to be forever blessed! Trust and never doubt, Jesus will surely bring you out, He's never failed me yet!"


AMEN! :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Julie" from "The Love Boat" and a Mission Field of Walkers and Wheelchairs



As I write this, Friday is just around the corner. I can't believe how difficult this week has been. It's almost like being exposed to the grown-up world after a restoring vacation was damaging to the growth of my "child like faith". Mole hills became mountains, sleepless nights made for tired days, and it was almost as if having anything short of an encouraging conversation was just too much work. It was also quite evident to me that my convictions and values of working in the geriatric activity profession were being directly challenged. On more then one occasion I was referred to in an "entertainment" perspective. Basically, in their mind I'm a great party planner, singer, "fill in preacher", and bus driver. Ladies and gentleman, my mom coined it well. I am a walking cruise ship, I am "Julie" from the "Love Boat".

Let me assure you that I have NO desire whatsoever to be a walking cruise ship. I entered into this field to enhance the quality of life of people who can't do it for themselves anymore. People who ache to have the opportunity to roll out lefse, not those who stand there and say "no thanks, I'd rather watch". These people want the parties, the entertainment, the excitement. Folks, these people want Julie, and I'm no love boat.
One of the pastors on our rotation was unable to come and preach a sermon for my resident's weekly church service. I had plenty of notice, so I was able to put together a little sermon based on the biography of the man who wrote "It Is Well With My Soul". It didn't take long for me to realize why God had worked it out for me to be the "fill in preacher" for that morning.


Several times this week, I said out loud "Why am I here? What is the purpose of this job?" I especially said this after being told that I basically had no say as to what kind of activities the aids do with my memory care residents. I am required to make the calendar and supply the supplies, but that because they were hired to do the work of the activities, I have no place to hold them accountable, and no time even if I had the place of authority to do so. My talents, passion and energy is to be spent on entertaining the cruise ship participants. This breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that money and "customer service" is placed above the highest level of needs of my residents. It's wrong, and I'm pretty sure God has shed some tears right along side of me.


But today in that little chapel, I realized why God had allowed a scheduling blunder to take place. I quickly began to see that I had lost sight of the fact that my job is a ministry,; my own personal mission field. In the midst of the demands and arrogant attitudes of entitlement, God is using me in these people's lives. In my weakness, I lost sight of this precious fact. On my own strength, I cannot don my cruise ship attire and pearly white smile, but if that is what God is calling me to do, it is possible with His strength. I continually claim the verse that I left you with in a recent post:


"Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor of the Lord is not in vain."

1st Cor. 15:58


Enough said.

Seasonally in the Center of God's Will



Anyone who knows me knows that I refer to life in terms of "seasons". I prefer that term over the common terms that describe spanses of time. These terms often include, but are not limited to "years", "times" and "stages". As a result of my creative perspective on virtually everything, these terms do not cut it for me. I don't think that they paint an accurate enough picture then what the term "season" does.


Winter: A season of life that seems cold, indifferent, somewhat hopeless, and yet, can be peaceful, reflective and still, like a blanket of freshly fallen snow over a field in a country.

Spring: A season of life that represents change, a new fresh perspective, "birth" in a physical and spiritual sense.

Summer: A season of life that is full of excitement and sunshine. New love, rekindled passion, new discoveries and various opportunities to be carefree as a child in the summer time; no sense of time, no worries, except making sure that you have as much fun as possible before it's time to go home to mom.

Fall: A season of life that is as colorful and as beautiful as the leaves that change on the trees. A time to learn, grow, be strengthened and refined, comparable to how God strips the trees of the leaves, it is a season of life where God strips us of our pride, our anger and anything else that gets in the way of His hand in our lives.


Regardless as to what "season" of life we are in, inevitably we come to a certain place in that season. Right now, I can say confidently that I am smack dab in the center of God's will, in the middle of my current season of life. Just enough has been revealed and affirmed about circumstances, learning experiences, and hopeful blessings, but God is still leading me through the elements that that season brings. Some of these elements include rain ( confident that God is watering seeds that were planted), blizzards ( being unable to see what is ahead of me, but hanging on to my Jesus in pure faith) and wind ( Being pushed and rocked off my feet, only to have Jesus pick me up again.)


Friends, we are called to embrace the elements of each season, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient they may seem. For the creator of each season of life is present in the midst of those elements. So be sure to grab your umbrella and don't forget the mittens and scarf! With the Lord as your weather man, you can brave those elements with confidence, knowing that the forecast calls for sunny days ahead.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Beauty of Camp


As I type this entry, I am about 12 hours away from facing "the real world", after a wonderful, restoring, stress free time away at Camp Faith Haven with my church family (and a few new friends) in Battle Lake, MN.

It is quite evident to me that this experience was handpicked by God, for "Such a time as this". Things at work were becoming crazy, and those senior citizens were pretty much all sitting on my very last nerve. The trip to the zoo on Friday was basically the last straw. It was time to go; time to get away. What was odd was that I could feel myself becoming anxious as the time approached. I always get that way when a new experience is about to be had. I packed and repacked, eventually packing way too much, "just in case".
After church last Sunday, I hopped into little "Sarge" ( which happened to be the last long road trip that she took!) with two dear girls from the youth group at church. I marvel at how a simple car ride can be such theraputic experience. Just that sense of literally driving away from something, a cup of coffee in the cup holder and a combination of meaningful and rediculous conversation to boot. As we drove closer to camp, the scenery became more and more beautiful. Jonna, Tia and I had to literally stop ourselves from pulling over and "frolicking" in the lush pastures that surrounded beautiful lakes.
As we pulled into camp, I could instantly feel my spirits being lifted and the weight of the world melt off my shoulders. You could not have asked for better weather for a week of camp. Most of the time it was cool, but the sun was still shining. I don't think one realizes how drained and thirsty they are for Jesus, fellowship and rest until they completely step out of the "day to dayness" of life. Below you will find the highlights of my experience, listed in no particular order of importance.

  • The peace and rest that resulted from leaving behind work, obligations and the cares of the world for 5 whole days.

  • Having the opportunity to meet new people, and having exisiting relationships strengthened and infused with hope and encouragement.

  • Understanding God's word in a way that transformed my life, and spurred a deeper passion for my Savior.

  • Being in the great outdoors. One just feels closer to God when you can feel the sunshine, the breeze, hear the waves of the lake, witness a bright orange moon, a canvas of twinkling stars and see an eagle gliding across the sky.

  • Being thrown into the lake. I don't think I've ever felt loved through an experience such as that one!

  • Witnessing intergenerational love between the older and younger campers.

  • Seeing the little kids' looks of admiration towards the "big kids".

  • Late night conversations that sharpened the faith of the participants.

  • The intimacy of campfire, where people opened their hearts to God and each other, and sang songs of praise that certainly did not stop at the ceiling of the campfire hut.

  • Having an incredible homemade meal, 3 times a day!

  • Swimming

  • Laughing

  • Singing

  • Just plain seeing God's finger prints through scripture, conversations, people and His creation.


In not so very many hours, I will be facing "The real world". However, I take comfort in the fact that I feel armed with what I need in order to make it through each day, one day at a time. To end this post, I leave you with a verse that has been etched on my heart.


"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."


1st Cor. 15:58.