Friday, June 8, 2012

"One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin. All sunshine and sovereign is God, generous in gifts and glory. He doesn't scrimp with his traveling companions. It's smooth sailing all the way with God." - Psalm 84: 10-12
God would make a great traveling companion. Travel! Not a day goes by that I don't have an ache and longing to travel more. But like David says in this Psalm, even the Greek island beaches can't hold a candle to what's to come in our life with God.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Strands of Good

I'm tired.

So tired.

And it is so easy to feel lonely when exhaustion creeps in. Sabbath is here and I'm sitting home in my apartment alone. Well, with my cat.

It was a LONG day at work. One of those super busy days that I wonder if I will disappear in my chair by the end of the day because I've sunk so low into it. But I choose to believe that God was still there through every moment. Weaving long strands of good through all the knots of craziness. Long strands of good, that if I took a moment, I might be able to follow back through the day and recognize where God was.

I work in the Neonatal ICU at a hospital. Not always the most light-hearted place. At the moment we have close to 50 babies in our unit. That's a lot of babies! Especially when they all need such crucial life-saving care. A couple weeks ago I saw a baby over in labor & delivery and exclaimed, "He's huge! How much does he weigh?!" And was shocked to hear that he was a normal 7-lb baby. My eyes have been changed by seeing dozens of 2-3 lb babies every day. At the moment we even have one that is only 14 ounces. That's tiny!

We joke around and laugh a lot in the unit. You have to in a place like that. But nobody was laughing this morning. One of our preemies came down with necrotizing enterocolitis yesterday. The intestinal tissue was dying and resulted in a perforation. Preemie babies face nasty complications like this every day, but it is easy to forget all the life-threatening possibilities when you see the baby day after day for weeks and months as they grow. When relationships are built it is easy to start always believing the best for them. This baby went in for emergency surgery and they had to take a lot of bowel out. I came on to my shift this morning, hearing the difficult turn of events, but no one expected it to go downhill so quickly. The baby was dead within two hours.

Probably 50 percent of my job is to know the parents/families of these babies. To greet them every day as they come to visit. To remember their family situations. To make them feel at home. To reassure them as they have to watch other people save their baby. I have enjoyed it. Enjoyed making relationships. Enjoyed even the crazy parents on drugs. There are definitely some parents I end up connecting more with than others. And the mom of this baby that died today was one of those. She was so good and so cheerful every day. So much hope for her baby. And then her baby just died.

I've dealt with more than my share of dead babies before I ever even ended up in the NICU. It is one of those familiar things that doesn't freak me out anymore. I ended up holding the dead baby for a while this morning while the nurse was trying to arrange things with the morgue and all my secretary coworkers looked at me like I was from another world. "How can you just hold it?!" "Doesn't it bother you?"

No. It doesn't bother me in a creepy way. But it does bother me in that it dampens everything for the day. It bothers me now sitting at home, just feeling sad. And I don't feel like that's bad. Sitting here, I can reflect on the day and how such a sad event triggered so many open deep discussions with my coworkers. Death brings up thoughts on the meaning of life, beliefs, and choices. There is God, weaving a strand of good through the bad. And that strand hasn't broken. It is continuing on and will uncover so many more truths about God if I continue to search for it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Today was the day. I've seen the yearning in Mowgli to go explore the outdoors. And not just to walk around on a leash, but to have FREEDOM. So today was the day. I went out to clean my car and when Mowgli bolted for the door like usual, instead of pushing him back into the safe comforts of home, on a moment of impulse I let him run out. I've been scared of him not coming back, scared that there are too many big dogs around, scared that he doesn't recognize the dangers out there. But fears cripple the chance for living life fully and abundantly. Things might happen but it's time to let him go. I watched him tentatively walk around sniffing bushes until that last moment where I saw him disappear around the corner of the house. The moment of letting go...
God lets us go every day. We head out into the world, free to make our own decisions and go down whatever path we choose. And I'm sure there is a part of Him that stands there at the doorway, hoping that we will remember the things that He taught us, hoping that when things get rough we'll find the way back to Him. And for me, especially right now, I hope and pray earnestly that he will make that path clear to me and block off the others.
I'm feeling terrible—I couldn't feel worse! Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember? When I told my story, you responded; train me well in your deep wisdom. Help me understand these things inside and out so I can ponder your miracle-wonders. My sad life's dilapidated, a falling-down barn; build me up again by your Word. Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner. I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; God, don't let me down! I'll run the course you lay out for me if you'll just show me how. - Psalm 119:25-32 (Message)
After an hour of trying to keep myself from worrying every time I heard dogs bark....I walked outside for the millionth time and saw Mowgli at a neighbor's door trying to scratch his way in. When I called him, he came bounding over to the right door and rubbed his cobweb-covered face all over me, little heart beating excitedly. He came back! But he is already meowing at the door again, unable to forget the exciting freedom outdoors so I think this will turn into a daily occurrence of trust :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Made To Love


Why do we love? I have been realizing over the last few days that I love because I want love back. I give because I want. Not just to give.

When I was visiting Loma Linda a couple weeks ago, the sermon I listened to at the University Church was about achieving perfection. What the pastor had to say really stuck with me. Matthew 5:48 says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly father is perfect." So what does it mean to be perfect? Most of the time I think I fall into thinking it means sinless perfection. I often make lists of things I need to get done in the next few days. Lists of things to achieve. Lists of ways to make the most of my time. Thinking I should work at being better. And then I feel like a failure when I don't complete that list, or sometimes don't even finish one thing because I spend my time in a different way once the moment is there.

The path of sinless perfection leads to one of two results. Despair or pride. Despair that we will never reach it and always fall short. Or pride that we are becoming so good and giving such a great appearance of what a perfect life should be.

In his sermon, Randy Roberts brought up that the real definition of perfection isn't to be sinless, it is to fulfill the purpose of what we were made to be and do. So what is our purpose? Why did God make us and what purpose did he give us? He made us to LOVE. To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect is to love like he loves. To love with no strings attached.

I've had a lot of people tell me over the last few weeks that this is my time to take care of myself and I've had a hard time deciding what that should look like. It's been easy to define taking care of myself as being careful. Being careful not to be hurt, being careful not to put anything out there that might get stomped on by the world. But I don't think that's what it should be. I feel like God hasn't created us to be careful and keep a safe shell around us. He created us with the ability to get out there and take risks with him by our side. And I am seeing how I want to be careful with my love. I don't want to love people if they don't give me love back. But God calls us to love like him, with nothing attached. So that is what I want to do right now. Learn to give without trying to get something out of it for myself. Without being filled with wanting my own hopes fulfilled.

Just because He made me to love.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not Me

I feel like a novice trying to figure my way through this break-up. I'd never broken up with anyone before. And that would be because I never dated anyone before this relationship. I guess there's a first time for everything. But it seems like there is almost a protocol to breaking up that many people want to share with me. Do this...don't do that. I feel stressed trying to decide what path I should be taking through this.

And the hardest realization I've had over the last few days is the feeling that I'm not myself anymore. It is so ironic. My boyfriend wanted to break up because he wasn't who he wanted to be anymore and felt like our relationship contributed to that. And now the break-up has made me into who I don't want to be. It once again feels so unfair that I seem to keep drawing the short straw of not getting what I wish or want. I know that is probably a selfish way to look at things. But I don't have the heart to even judge myself right now.

I no longer cook. This year I have had so much fun and joy in cooking, finding new recipes, experimenting. But it's so different not having someone to cook for. The joy is no longer there trying to make something just for myself. And it just brings up too many wonderful memories that are painful to remember.

And so the little that I do eat isn't even food I usually choose to eat. I'm eating stuff that makes me sick or that has no nutritional value at all. I'll buy produce and food at the grocery story with meals in mind, but once I get home I never want to make it. Food is sitting in my fridge and going bad. And that isn't me either. I don't waste food.

My kitchen can be a mess and I don't care. I have no motivation to clean pots or even to put away a cutting board after using it. I'm usually very obsessive-compulsive about my kitchen, having to clean everything immediately after using it and wiping all the counters clean from any little crumb. Now things just sit there, a constant reminder of my lack of motivation every time I walk by.

I hate the time alone with my thoughts so much that I try to drown it with anything that will occupy it. One evening last week I kept watching Greys Anatomy after another. I would finish one and decide that I was still too awake and alert, so I'd start another. Over and over until I was exhausted enough to fall immediately asleep. I never used to sit and just watch TV, and I almost never kept up with any popular tv show. It's not me. I was the one who would just shrug when conversations came up about them.

I don't want to go do things outside. Even typing that sentence seems shocking. The outdoors has been my comfort zone for my entire life. Now I look outside at the sunny day and it just seems too happy to walk out and taint it with my sad feelings. That's not me. I love being outside.

As the work day ended this evening and my coworkers exchanged what they were looking forward to once they got home, the only thing I could come up with was, "I get to go home to my cat." Then I fought tears all the way home thinking about how pitiful it was that I'm just going home to my cat. And how much I deeply miss going home to someone, getting to talk through my day with someone special to me. And it is definitely not me to not want to be with my cat and to see my time with Mowgli as depressing.

I'm not me right now.

I've had really difficult experiences in the past. Really hard things. And some people tell me that I'm prone to these difficult things happening to me somehow. I've always believed in the verse where it says God won't give us more than we can bear, and I've always been able to bear it. But this feels like the limit. I want to plead with God, "no this one is too much. You mis-calculated this time! I wonder if I will ever not feel this physical pain, just smothering my chest every time I think about what has happened and how much I miss him.

But I do know that God hasn't changed from the God that brought me up and out of all those other hard experiences. I was maybe able to see the light in those experiences better than this one. But He's still the same God. And even if I'm completely blind with no light right now, He will still lead me out. That is what I'm trusting in. Even if I don't feel it. Because the same God who was with me then, is with me now. And the same God who led me in, will lead me out.

And maybe it's okay that I'm not me right now because ultimately I don't want to be me, I want to become Him. If I wasn't changing from the person I was a year ago, I wouldn't be growing. We'll see where he takes me...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"There is a well-known passage right in the beginning of the Bible (Genesis 1:27): 'God created man in his own image.' I believe this to be true, and I believe that if you accept this and you want to come to a more complete understanding of what God is, you must study the brain. There is nothing I know of that God has created that is more beautiful, that is more intricate, and that gives us more insight into what God is than the human brain.
If you want to understand an artist, you study his art. I believe that if you want to understand God, you must study Nature, because Nature is God's art. It's what God has created, and the better you understand Nature, the more insight you get into God.
For me, the anatomy and biochemistry of the human brain is God's greatest art. It is quite simply the most beautiful structure in the known universe. The idea that anyone might liken it to oatmeal or Jell-O or cottage cheese, or consider it ugly, gross, or repulsive, is inconveivable to me. Whenever I look at the pathways and intricacies of the human brain, I am looking at God's art. Every time I operate on the brain, it makes me more spiritual."

- Keith Black, MD

Fascinating book. And I have felt the same rush in the middle of surgery, looking into a living breathing body and being awestruck by the beauty and intricacy of every little artery and tissue. Such a testament to our creator.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Words Finding A Home

I constantly write in my mind. I'll change phrases, delete words, refine thoughts...all just in my mind as I go throughout my day. So I've written a million blogs, just not typed them out. But I'm at a point where I keep thinking the same thoughts over and over and over in my mind. And it feels like this blog I'm writing is never going to be at peace until the words find a permanent home. So it's time to type.

My boyfriend broke up with me two weeks ago.

Just typing those words out is still hard. And I know that people who didn't know my boyfriend and I together might just see that as just a regular happening in the world and think "get over it girl, it happens to all of us." People get together and break up every day. Not that earth-shattering in this world.

Well it was earth-shattering to me. I wasn't expecting it or wanting it. I had already bought an anniversary gift to give him in another week, marking our 3 years together. Yes, things hadn't gone easy over the last couple of months together, but I expected there to be times where it wasn't going to be easy. I still saw it as worth it. Worth it for all the love I felt for him. Worth it for all the values and passions we share. Worth it for the way God had brought us together in the beginning. Worth it for all the trust we had built between us and deep things we had shared with each other. I loved what we had.

Trust. That is one of the hardest parts I'm dealing with now. Broken trust. Every step in a relationship has to involve trust. I've felt like we have moved very slowly, carefully in our relationship, sharing things little by little. And each time I trusted him a little more. Growing and growing trust. It's like a rope. When I rock-climb, I have to trust the rope I'm on to hold me when I fall. But there's a difference in the size of rope and how much trust I feel. I could climb with a string attached to me, but I'm not going to take very many risks. But as the rope increases in size, I put more and more trust in it. I climb higher, throw myself at little holds, go for that seemingly unreachable cleft. Our relationship grew in trust, thicker and least on my side. I shared things I never thought I would share. I think now how much easier it would have been if he had broken up with me sooner, before that trust grew so thick. Because as I was climbing higher and higher, putting myself out there because of the trust I felt, the rope was suddenly severed. And there's a lot further distance to fall now. I trusted him to stick with me through good and hard times. But he didn't.

The other hard part I'm dealing with is feeling like unconditional love must not be possible in this world. I trusted that when he began saying he loved me that he meant it and that meant unconditionally. And one of the main reasons he has said for breaking up with me is that he no longer loves me. I struggled with even believing that was true at first because I don't understand how a person can so suddenly stop loving another person. Going through some of my things the other day, I found my birthday card from him a month ago, expressing his deep love for me. And he told me often that he loved me, up till just a few weeks before breaking up. How does that change in just a couple weeks? Or was it not true? I don't know which is more painful -- that I suddenly became unlovable, or that he has been lying to me.

One thing I do know is that it is not so easy for me to stop loving. I wish desperately right now that I felt no love for him, because that would make it easier. But I can't help it. I was told once that I would finally understand God's unconditional love once I was in a relationship with that special person. And I felt like I was just starting to get a taste of it. We could disagree on something and it was freeing to be ok with it because I knew it didn't affect my love for him and I trusted that it didn't affect his love for me. I could mess up and trust that he would love me through it.

Oh and the JOY of being with someone you love so much! I miss that deeply now. Everything else could go wrong in a day, but I could always feel that extra hope in life because I had him with me. I counted on it. Just as I had that happiness deep inside that I could pull out when I really needed, I now have this awful feeling deep inside me instead. Sickening nausea in the pit of my stomach.

I do know that things will be ok. I will get through this, happiness will come again, and God will make something great happen because He is that capable of making goodness come from badness. But it will take time to get through the feelings of rejection, broken trust, and love that was conditional. And time to get over the deep love I still feel for him. And time to not feel so lonely in the evenings that I'm used to spending with him.

Right now I still have a God to put trust in, and that is keeping me afloat. I can look back over all that he has stuck through with me in the past and hold onto the knowledge that he keeps his promises to love no matter what and never leave. And I trust that this is going to grow me in positive ways, no matter how negative it feels right now. I don't want to grow bitter, I want to heal.

Whatever You're Doing
By Sanctus Real

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time to make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
And all I can do is surrender

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something Heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Reevaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow Your will
Or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is You want from me
I give everything I surrender...

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something Heavenly
Something Heavenly

Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to release all my held back tears

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something BIGGER than me
Larger than life something Heavenly

Whatever You're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This is something bigger than me
Larger than life something Heavenly
Something Heavenly