Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pearl Harbor Anniversary

As I reviewed some articles on Pearl Harbor, I came across this account of two young Marine infantrymen killed protecting the lives of their brothers and defending their country. They belived in something and were truly committed to defending it. While others their age were living in the land of of opportunity, they had found a cause to represent and defend. Age does not define a person, but rather their ability to see beyond themselves and fight for a cause that is worth dying for. These men were not forced to become Marines; there are other ways of making a living just like those who responded to Pearl Harbor did not have to fight bravely. Find a cause or values and stick to them.

Perhaps you won't be given the life or death option but there is so much more to life than ourselves and material distractions. What will your obituary say? Will there be a clear purpose for which you lived or will you be just another "realy good person"? More importantly, what will you tell your Creator that you did with the life He gave you? Thank our military today as we are reminded of the sacrifices they make and consider, What are you living for?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Walter Reed

   Imagine. You are walking through the halls of a new place. You are overwhelmed by the history of of the establishment you currently tread on. You are taking in the sights and sounds and choking down the fact that you are now an employee and part of an incredible effort. You stumble through halls that look the same and attempt to find your way through a maze of halls and people all seeming to know where they are going. You then shut out the overwhelmed feeling and begin to observe those around you. Camouflage. Various strains and colors, but lots of camouflage. Also, people with artificial limbs and wheelchairs and crutches. This is expected, after all you are in a hospital but something is different about these people. There are young and average weight and healthy. They do not seem to have some disease process and age has not had a chance to cause this type of deterioration. Many of these bear an obvious traumatic experience. Something that happened quickly and unexpectedly.

   You begin to look into the eyes of these people, beyond their missing arms, legs, sometimes entire lower body. You ignore the deformities and the scarred flesh or bandaged wounds. You consider the person, and look into their eyes: their very soul speaks through their eyes and you see a resilient and determined person. Sometimes you see despair and distress. Whatever you see, you begin to realize why they are here and what you are becoming a part of. This is where their healing begins and this is where you step up to the plate. Your problems, your struggles, your frustrations you choose to leave in the parking garage. You walk into the building with the determination to help bring hope to the lives of the men and women who boarded a boat or a plane with the knowledge that they may never come back. They protect the freedoms that you and I rarely acknowledge. They have seen the lack of freedom. They have seen poverty. They have seen lifeless bodies. At the end of the day, you really have no idea what they have seen. The thing you know is it was there calling to go and they took on the challenge. They bear the external and internal wounds as a result. They have returned with lives forever changed and a new set of challenges, sometimes as basic as learning to eat with no hands or walk with prosthetic legs. They have returned and seek help from you.

   While the "you" is a large group of people, I am so thankful to be a part of it and living something that was a far away dream of mine a thousand miles away. I began a new job last week and it is such an incredible opportunity. Yes, there are parts of it that are awful-that is life. If it didn't have challenges, we wouldn't be better. My biggest advice is to find what you love and do it. Someone once said, "If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life!" So very true! Once upon a time, I sat as an English major in my dorm and laughed at my nursing major roommates (working extremely hard and studying) and said, "I am so glad I am not doing that. I would never do nursing!" Six months later I was busting my butt to get into their class and three years later I graduated by the grace of God and the help of so many people. Countless phone calls to my mom, ensuring that I still had a couch to sleep on in case I failed this test and got kicked out of the program. There was a day I distinctly remember walking into a professors office and having a breakdown. Disheveled and sleep-deprived I looked up at her with my wild hair and my tear-stained eyes and asked her, "Do you honestly think this is for me. If you don't, I understand. You have done this long enough to know and I need to know." This woman will always have my respect because of how much she poured into her students. She would come in on the weekends to give us tests and hold reviews. She would stay late at night and come in early for each little question we had. Here I stood, before her, ready to walk out and change careers completely. She stared me right back into the eyes with a look of determination and said, "Grace, I don't think you can do it, I KNOW you can and I am going to help you!" She set me up with a wonderful person who became my study partner and a best friend and the rest is history.

   Wow ,that was a tangent. My point is, you can do anything that you put your mind to. Don't think that it's too late to find what you love. You only get to live once. Making money isn't everything. I will probably never be a millionaire monetarily but the fact that I love what I do and get to work and play hard makes me feel like the most wealthy person ever! Life is more than we limit ourselves to. That is why God is so important. He can see our potential, beyond what we imagine, and He knows the outcome!

   This has already been too long, but I encourage you to choose to be happy today. Even if you work a job you do not love, you are only responsible for your actions and reactions. I'm posting a photo from this weekend. Some friends and I took a trip to Shenandoah to catch the colors. This little guy was such a delight to hang out with!

Friday, October 18, 2013

First Day Back

   Today marks the first day of a new job at Shady Grove. Same place but new shift.  Lots of firsts as I learn to work in the "land of the living" instead of the night zombies! 

   My new ID photo is particularly fabulous! When my recruiter asked for one, I initially sent one of a complete backbend on the beach. He said that might not work as I would have to constantly assume the position to prove legitimacy.

   Regardless, my devotion for today is included below. Excellent advice for all of us today! Time to save some lives!

October 19
Come to Me with your defenses down, ready to be blessed and filled with My Presence. Relax, and feel the relief of being totally open and authentic with Me. You have nothing to hide and nothing to disclose, because I know everything about you already. You can have no other relationship like this one. Take time to savor its richness, basking in My golden Light.
One of the worst consequences of the Fall is the elaborate barriers people erect between themselves and others. Facades abound in the world, even in My Body, the church. Sometimes, church is the last place where people feel free to be themselves. They cover up with Sunday clothes and Sunday smiles. They feel relief when they leave because of the strain of false fellowship. The best antidote to this artificial atmosphere is practicing My Presence at church. Let your primary focus be communing with Me, worshiping Me, glorifying Me. Then you will be able to smile at others with My Joy and love them with My Love.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. —1 John 1:5–7
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” —Exodus 33:14
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…think about such things… —Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Trying Times

   I am sure I have blogged about this before, but what is it about the valleys that makes us stronger? Why do we have to endure hard times? Why does it seem that just when things are looking up, God decides we need a little more faith? Call me a horrible Christian, but these are the questions flooding my mind and heart these days. It seems that no matter how much extra I do, I run into another wall. Money is tight and the job delay has a vice on my heart.
   While people experience this all of the time, it makes me wonder why certain do and others do not seem to have any problems. This is, of course, the child in me pouting and saying to God, "It's not fair!" Instead of realizing that we each have battles and just because I cannot see yours does not mean they do not exist, I choose to allow my selfishness and lack of faith to rule my thoughts. The result, well in my life my body is FABULOUS at showing my recent thoughts, concerns, or lack thereof. When I'm stressed and not trusting God, well it's amazing the amount of makeup I suddenly have to wear and how sick I get just out of the blue. I keep thinking, I can fix this, I can trust more and have a bigger faith but at the end of the day I am just as discouraged and stressed. Why? Because I decide to tackle the problems instead of letting my Creator handle them. I sometimes imagine myself like the child in this picture. I am tired, cranky, and want to play with my toys and this person is trying to feed me. NOT what I WANT, but most likely what is good for me.
   Today, I ran into more walls. More than I thought I could. Instead of focusing on that, I am going to count some blessings. Being a visual learner, I am going to post some pictures of the blessings from the last few months. This is not to brag on myself, but that which God has done for me and because this post is for me to encourage you to count your blessings. Pictures can say a thousand words. I would encourage you to make a "Blessings" folder somewhere that you can always access it. Technology allows us to have pictures everywhere. I am going to post a few from my folder. Remember, no matter how discouraged you become, there is always someone with less than you have. We are so blessed as individuals with incredible things like health, a place to sleep, and people who love us. Be encouraged today!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Struggling to Please Some Dirt

   The rain is steady, it has been for several days. The traffic outside is typical for D.C. H-Mart is still my favorite for grocery shopping, although the weekend crowd left me feeling like a giant Amazon. I successfully avoided stepping on any small children or people, a feat that left me feeling accomplished until I almost got hit in the parking lot. Turns out "Anthony" "really" liked my "hair, and your style. Does your boyfriend know just how lucky he is? Oh wait, do you have a boyfriend??" What a way to ask a girl out. Run her over. Props for ingenuity? Not so much. Enough with the H-Mart trip-although it's always an adventure. I always discover something new to learn how to cook. I never realized just how many fruits and vegetables exist.

   I am feeling exceptionally like a domesticated homemaker. My entire apartment is clean, meals for the next week have been invented and perfected (yes, from scratch for those from D.C.), I successfully ran my errands, got my work-out in, paid my bills, stressed more about jobs, then watched a documentary on how stress ages and kills your body. All in all, I'm feeling quite accomplished.

   Strange entry? Yes, I know. Just a day in my life. These are my thoughts. They don't always dive deep into the spiritual realm. Of course, they wander there at some point. Today while I was mopping for what felt like hours due to the amount of dirt carried in with the move, my mind began to wander. As Aerosmith's Dream On rocked my Pandora, I began to think of the thousands of people who plod away each day in an effort to make someone else happy. The thousands, probably millions of people who work tirelessly to make a relationship work or to please someone. This someone could be their parents, children, neighbor, roommate, significant other, spouse, spiritual leader, boss, or just a random stranger. As things go, we cannot please everyone and sometimes the one person we care to please will never be happy with us. Or perhaps they are pleased but do not express their appreciation.

   While I may be wrong (feel free to comment below), I believe there are some people in our lives who we will always either consciously or unconsciously hope to please. The heart-breaking part is when we never succeed. Our most incredible efforts are only met with disappointment. The repeated rejection can easily lead us to be unhappy with our lives, skeptical and negative towards others, and lose our feeling of worth. Galatians 1:10 says, "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." The challenge is clearly laid out, whom do you serve? Yourself? Others? How about the God who made you? Isaiah 2:22 says, "Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?" I love the sense of humor presented here. People with breath, made out of dirt. My point is not that we should completely dis-regard the opinion of others, but God says to worry about Him and allow him to worry about the world. He planned everything at the very beginning and I'm pretty sure He's got this one. Besides, National Geographic has a great documentary on the effects of stress on the body, so why not just give this "stressor" up, since we don't actually have to take it on.

   I think about the people in my life currently that I work so hard to please. I think about all of the wasted time and energy I spend trying to make them happy. Then I think about the things that I should do for others. Some of those things overlap, but the time I spend worrying about their happiness, well that is a sin. We are to help others, but not to the extent that it negatively affects us or what God would have us do for eternity. I will wrap this up with the hopes that I have not completely confused anyone but encouraged you to seek to please God in your actions. As my mother always told me, "Grace, you can only be responsible for your actions and reactions to others. Everything else is between God and them." Not sure why I actually remembered that one-maybe because I was constantly needing reminded as I sat in the principal's office for punching a boy or spoke disrespectfully to an authority figure. Be encouraged, God see's your efforts even where others don't!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Controlling the Tongue

   My devotion today was strangely similar to the one shared with me by my Mother. The topic, controlling the tongue. The Bible describes it as a small but powerful member, something that can strike down or build up. Throughout history, examples of the power of the tongue are seen. The encouragement of the "Guardian of Scotland", William Wallace, allowed his meager 2,300 men to defeat the professionally trained 10,000 British soldiers in the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The proud words of Nebuchadnezzar removed him from his beautiful kingdom and sentenced him to seven years of roaming like a beast in the fields.
   God does not mess around when it comes to the power of our words. He speaks in James 1:19-21 of the importance of listening slowly and taking our time in making decisions instead of being hasty to anger. One version reads:     
   19 Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. 
   20 For man's anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].
   21 So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.  
   We get ourselves into trouble when we make swift decisions without taking more time to listen-not hear, but actively listen. The Holy Spirit is placed in our heart to provide us counsel when we accept Christ into our lives. Why do we allow distractions and the noise of life to crowd him out?
   As I consider all of the words I have used in the last twenty four hours, I am embarrassed to consider how many of them were in the effort of making a difference in someone's life for eternity and ashamed at how many were spent talking to God, particularly in comparison to the number of idle words I used. 
   While this is a huge topic and I could go on and on, my personal challenge for today is to be more aware of the words I say, their affect on people, and if God would be pleased with my use of the blessing of speech. It is truly a gift to be able to communicate and something we should not waste.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Dry Times" of Life

   We all have probably experienced that dry or slow period of something, whether it be a relationship, our job, our Spiritual walk, etc. Dry spells in life are opportunities to raw-ly seek God's face without the distractions of comfort and prosperity. While that may sound contradictory, we are much more tuned into the Creator of our hearts when we recognize our need for Him to provide for us on the most basic level. What better time than When we are going through a trial?
   Your dry place is your preparation place for your Caanan place. When you are going through your dry periods of life, don't question God, be thankful for what God has done.
    In Exodus 17, Moses was weak and afraid of the murmuring people, but not to the extent that he did not call on God. God reminds Moses that God is the same one who led him out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea. When going through these periods of life, we must remember that God is available in our time of need.
   We also must understand that we cannot let others' contentment or discontentment keep us from the promises of God. When we are in our dry place, we are very thirsty and can begin to see mirages. The things of the world begin to look appealing. We start to substitute things that are not good for us because we are "so thirsty". If we allow those things to control our lives instead of the things God intended for us, we will never be able to appreciate and enjoy the promised land the way it was made to be enjoyed. The dry land is our preparation time and the time we must struggle to stay disciplined because circumstances are not easy. Remember, the struggle makes us stronger.
   If you have to fight in your dry place, choose people who will keep the Bible "lifted" or in the forefront of your thoughts and decisions as you go through your struggle. Moses chose Aaron and Hur to keep him accountable. He chose those who understood the Bible and would keep him accountable accordingly. We must be careful in choosing our friends for they are our counselors.
   There will always be two nations at war, both inside of us and outside of us. The one is flesh driven and the one is Spirit driven. The one happens inside of us and must be fought daily with the help of God's Spirit inside of us. The other is manifested outside of us in the problems of the world. Both wars will always be fought in this lifetime, but God never gives us a struggle that He has not already provided the grace for us to conquer.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Search for Intimacy

   I love how alive the Bible is. These are few books in history- I dare say none, from which one person can read and obtain so many different blessings from the same words. The Holy Spirit guides us if we allow Him and shows us what we need for each passing day.
   We seek to be loved. To be valued, to have our worth validated by another. We find that individual who we think will do So and we seek a commitment from them. We are eventually disappointed in the humanity we discover and either move on or ''Suck it up" for our commitment. Why do we have such a Strong desire if it is never to be fulfilled? Because it can be fulfilled. Jesus seeks a relationship with us, despite Knowing intimately our flaws and failures. True love accepts the humanity and sees the potential in the person. My prayer for today is that I will strive to fulfill my need for intimacy in Christ and not depend or hope for another.
   Thoughts from my devotion: 
    Never take for granted My intimate nearness. Marvel at the wonder of My continual Presence with you. Even the most ardent human lover cannot be with you always. Nor can another person know the intimacies of your heart, mind, and spirit. I know everything about you—even to the number of hairs on your head. You don’t need to work at revealing yourself to Me.
   Many people spend a lifetime or a small fortune searching for someone who understands them. Yet I am freely available to all who call upon My Name, who open their hearts to receive Me as Savior. This simple act of faith is the beginning of a lifelong love story. I, the Lover of your soul, understand you perfectly and love you eternally

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:7

  "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
John 1:12

  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall in the Ozarks

Enjoying a break from recording at my favorite highschool hangout. A beautiful closed bridge.

Worry eliminated by Thankfulness

  After two days of this thought in my devotions, I realized God was trying to make a point. Unfortunately, I tend to be in the slow class and sometimes require secondary enforcement. With the government shutdown, I found a further delay of my new job at Walter Reed. The frustration of the unknown as well as the feeling of being unemployed and having bills to pay is a feeling I had not yet experienced. While certainly a stressful time, God allowed me to be at home in Missouri. Here I have been able to relax, catch up with friends, record music for the next cd, but most importantly awaken a part of my faith that I had pushed aside and boxed up like Christmas decorations. The faith that God will provide your "daily bread" is someday very basic and yet He tells us to have the faith of a child.
  Growing up, I was priveleged to not worry for my next meal or where I would sleep. That was something for The adults and my job was to obey the tasks at hand and enjoy the freedom from responsibility. God offers us the same freedom. He Says, "Cast all your cares on me." "That is easy to say, but how does one even start?" Thankfulness. "Whoa, big word!'' Ok, count your blessings. Grace, what has God done for you in the last year? Oh, in self-pity mode, huh? Lets go back to basics. Are you currently living in a free country? Did you come here in a box as a slave and crammed on a ship? Have you watched your family and friends murdered for their faith? Do you have warm clothes and a place to lay your head at night? Do you know you have a heavenly Father who Loves you dearly and wants to get to know you intimately? To each of these questions, " someone in our world today could answer "yes". Humbling, isn't it? The more you realize just how many things you have to be thankful for, the stronger your faith in God's protection over your life should become.
I do not say these things to lecture, but more to challenge and encourage. These are hard times, but God is still in control.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” —Luke 12:7
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. —John 1:12

Wednesday, October 2, 2013



   Tonight I was privileged to experience a small taste of the real life horror story through which so many of my DC area friends lived. In a small, private screening of the documentary Blue Caprice, I found myself surrounded by victims of PTSD. People with once normal lives who experienced twenty-three days of sheer terror as thirteen people were randomly murdered. These people surrounded me in the audience; these people who were forced to see the fragility and uncertainty of life, helpless to hide, and encouraged by leadership to “continue living their lives as normal” throughout the terror.
   As the movie began to unfold, the odd relationship between two individuals going through difficulties in their lives tugged at the audience’s emotions. Interestingly enough, the director left out any dates, names, or specifics in reference to the events-those events with which this particular audience was grossly familiar with. Without any identifying information, the viewer was encouraged to feel compassion towards these two people. After a solid hour of introduction the movie cruised through the preparations made by the “stars” of the documentary, then sped through the murders that wreaked havoc on so many innocent people and stole the loved ones from ten unrelated families across the D.C. metropolitan area. The documentary ended abruptly with an arrest, an abrupt interview, and the image of a young man forced to spend the duration of his days in an orange jumpsuit.
   While the director performed incredibly from an artistic standpoint and was able to evoke two strong and opposing emotions of sympathy and range from a majority of the audience, he forced something to my attention that I was only subconsciously aware of.    Our society does not want to admit we need God. In denying that we need a God, we are forced to find a reason for evil outside of His clear-cut explanation of sin. We need the reasoning to provide closure when traumatic events happen so that we can attempt to cope or handle them on our own. While we flounder in the darkness searching for a reason, we can justify anything we or someone else does based on race, gender, childhood trauma, social status, deficiency of neurotransmitters, or any number of fabricated excuses. While circumstances certainly can certainly improve or deter our ability to make positive choices in life, each individual person has their battles. Each person has mountains to climb. Some are easier to see than others. Some are physical such as poverty or disease. Some are emotional such as depression or anxiety. The common ground we share as humans is this world. We each have free will and we each live in a world riddled by sin. While on this earth, we will be uncomfortable and we will struggle. It is called “earth” and not “heaven” for a reason. The point is to realize we are only responsible for our reactions to struggle.
   While this documentary was very well done, it encouraged a sympathy to sick, depraved humans who murdered the innocent to satisfy the need for vengeance on life’s hardships. I believe it is important to understand the beliefs of others and where they are coming from. I believe it is important to find closure to traumatic events. What I do not believe is that we try to explain away sin, thus lessening the depraved reality of our souls. Reality is that we are all capable of the sick acts of terror performed by these two individuals. One individual was seventeen years old-not even a legal adult.
   Something I constantly must remind myself when confronted with a horrific act is that but for the grace of God that could be me. We are not bigger or more human than those who murder, rape, or steal. We must swallow the fact that we are human and equals. This world can be wonderful but it can also be brutal and without the hope of a Savior, we can all be driven to the worst acts of terror.
   I do not mean to dissuade from this film-it is very well done and while not completely accurate, it is certainly thought provoking. I encourage viewers to go in with an open mind, but to realize the importance of a firm foundation based on something eternal-not something temporal. This world is only getting older, but there are things we can count on including the love of an eternal God. As for evil, it will always be in this life. Instead of trying to cope by explaining it, I encourage you to cope through forgiveness. You are freed from the burden of evil with forgiveness and although it is not an easy thing to do, with God’s help anything is possible. I believe in the power of the mind God has given us but like our body we must feed it well if it is to be healthy.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Troubled Sunrise

Some mornings I wake up thinking about all of the things I need to accomplish for the day and as I attempt to prioritize them, often begin to get stressed out and find myself mentally exhausted before my feet even slip out of bed. I wonder how much our awaking thoughts reflect our heart. How often do we stress first and ask for help later? My prayer for today is that God will mold my thoughts to be more trusting of Him and less worrying of the future.

My devotion from today:

As you get out of bed in the morning, be aware of My Presence with you. You may not be thinking clearly yet, but I am. Your early morning thoughts tend to be anxious ones until you get connected with Me. Invite Me into your thoughts by whispering My Name. Suddenly your day brightens and feels more user-friendly. You cannot dread a day that is vibrant with My Presence.You gain confidence through knowing that I am with you—that you face nothing alone. Anxiety stems from asking the wrong question: “If such and such happens, can I handle it?” The true question is not whether you can cope with whatever happens, but whether you and I together can handle anything that occurs. It is this you-and-I-together factor that gives you confidence to face the day cheerfully.

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
-Psalm 5:3O
"God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water."
-Psalm 63:1
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
-Philippians 4:13

Saturday, June 29, 2013

First week in Maryland

When I grow up, I want to be like Kimball Cho from the Mentalist. Such a serious adult and people never know when he's kidding. Plus, he always kick's the bad guy's butt! Yeah, I want to be Cho when I grow up...

My bucket list just got a little smaller. Learned how and changed my own brakes today (with adult supervision of course)!

June 28th. First two night shifts down:

This morning as I drove home from work, I thought about the little things I took for granted the last 3 years. Simple things like IV pumps, efficient computer charting, and seizure pads. Life is more challenging and creative without them, however I am convinced that wherever you go there are always people with beautiful souls to make any challenge merely a speed bump. Today I am thankful for good co-workers with whom I delivered my first waiting-room baby, a steady job, and for so many great Facebook friends who made my birthday a lot brighter!

Moving to Maryland: A recap of a few days

June 14th
Road trippin with Momma:
Said her name was a hand me down name
From the side of a family that long ago came
Over here on a boat from somewhere in Spain
Sounded to me just a little bit strange, I guess.
But I have to admit, it felt good on my lips! :)

June 15th:
Oh! Well good morning, Maryland and Thank you Holly for giving weary travelers a place to sleep. 900+ miles down!

Thankful for God's blessing on a safe trip, providing a place to stay temporarily, and finding a great place to live for the next three months!

June 18th:
As I prepare to tackle the day and moving in to the fourth floor of an elevator-less building, I am encouraged in my devotions:

Learn to laugh at yourself more freely. Don’t take yourself or your circumstances so seriously. Relax and know that I am God with you. When you desire My will above all else, life becomes much less threatening. Stop trying to monitor My responsibilities—things that are beyond your control. Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain.Laughter lightens your load and lifts your heart into heavenly places. Your laughter rises to heaven and blends with angelic melodies of praise. Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing My children laugh. I rejoice when you trust Me enough to enjoy your life lightheartedly.Do not miss the Joy of My Presence by carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Rather, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. My yoke is comfortable and pleasant; My burden is light and easily borne.
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.-Matthew 11:29–30

So if I fall down the stairs... I will be laughing :)

June 23rd

As I prepare for church this morning, I am reminded of the privilege it is to live in a country with religious freedom. I begin my search for a like-minded group of believers in my new area and have an overwhelming response within a fifteen mile radius. As I consider believers' struggles in countries like China, I realize we are truly blessed with an overabundance, yet do so little of our part to share with our friends or show Christ's love. My devotion today shines a light on part of the reason we are so timid with sharing. Many people seem to have "trust issues" yet have access to the only one who will never fail them. I am terribly guilty of this. Every day God provides for my needs and often wants and every day I have to battle to trust that He will provide. I hope you find the following an encouragement to your hearts.
Let My Love stream through you, washing away fear and distrust. A trusting response includes Me in your thoughts as you consider strategies to deal with a situation. My continual Presence is a promise, guaranteeing that you never have to face anything alone. My children teethe on the truth that I am always with them, yet they stumble around in a stupor, unaware of My loving Presence all around them. How that grieves Me!When you walk through a day in trusting dependence on Me, My aching heart is soothed. Gently bring your attention back to Me whenever it wanders away. I look for persistence—rather than perfection—in your walk with Me.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
-Psalm 52:8“
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
-Deuteronomy 31:6

June 18th

It has been over a week since the last post but I pray the lessons learned in Africa are still fresh in our hearts. Somehow, in spite of our efforts, there remains a gaping need in Africa. Those there still need our prayers and support, but more than that we need to pray that we become sensitive to the need around us. The co-worker who is a single parent struggling with raising their children, the elderly person who may have bad hygiene but has no family to support or love him, the latch-key kid who goes to school with your children and just wants to be loved: we are surrounded by hurting people who need to see the love of Jesus, not by our words but by our actions. In Africa, the need was black and white. In the U.S. it is not always so. My prayer for today is that my heart will be more sensitive to the needs of those around me.
Galatians 6:2
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

June 9th-Travel

As the team began the journey back, there were few cheerful smiles and several tear-stained cheeks. Approaching it from a secular perspective, one would not be able to make sense of it in the least, however, we were privileged to share in a ministry of love and sacrifice that connected us to the people on the most basic of levels. While serving and learning the culture, we were also learning about ourselves; our pettiness, our needy-ness, our selfishness, or even our lack of attentiveness. Each took away a different lesson. As we journey back to the states I cannot help but wonder how long our lessons will stay fresh in our mind. Our humanity tends to allow us to forget lessons learned without a reminder. Technology allows the pictures and some memories to last, but how long will we pray fervently for those we reached out to? This week we have been set on fire, but the comforts of our first world country can dull that flame. I encourage each of our team to take a picture or a reminder of this trip and keep it somewhere to remind you daily of where you have been. For those back at home, please remember to support the efforts of these missionaries in whatever way God allows-whether that be going yourself, supporting financially, or prayers.

As we leave the realities of Ethiopia and the "Ethiopian time" and return to our busy, chaotic schedules I am tempted to begin to stress. As always, God knows my heart and provided these words of encouragement:

Rest in Me, My child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually, asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. Remember that you are on a journey with Me. When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your constant Companion who sustains you moment by moment. As you gaze anxiously into the distance, you don’t even feel the strong grip of My hand holding yours. How foolish you are, My child! Remembrance of Me is a daily discipline. Never lose sight of My Presence with you. This will keep you resting in Me all day, every day.
Pray continually.-1 Thessalonians 5:17
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.-Psalm 62:5

June 8th-Bethel Baptist

Another day in Africa and another day of giving blessings and being blessed. The updates have been written the morning after because by the time we get back to our place we are exhausted-a very good exhausted but nonetheless. Yesterday we visited Faith Children's Home, a local orphanage. Faith Children’s Home is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is a licensed NGO (Ethiopia version of Not For Profit) in Ethiopia and houses approximately 50 children. Staff members work shifts to cover 24 hour care for the children. Our team's purpose was to provide medical care to the children and staff. In addition, we brought toys, treats, and medicine to the home. We were so pleased to find the orphanage well-managed and the children healthy and happy. One of our team members has adopted from the home and was able to show the children updated Pictures of her son, now living in the states. Playing with the children was such a priceless experience. The conditions the children live in one adequate, but the very basics. No mirrors, pictures, and very few blankets and toys were available. Some of our team will be wiring money to the orphanage this week and if anyone is interested in contributing, please let me know. It the approx $400 USD to feed the children and staff each month.
After the orphage, we spent some time at one of the Missionaries' house enjoying chicken noodle soup (for those sick :), crackers, and safe, fresh veggies (hard to come by with the water problems). We also enjoyed the traditional coffee ceremony. Such great coffee! This has been an incredible trip and I would highly encourage you to take one. All people willing to help are needed. Today we fly out after church and none of us are ready to leave. Please pray for the team's safety in traveling.

"If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday." ~Isaiah 58:10. Serving others forces your eyes off of your own problems and brings you a joy unspeakable. Truly the best anti-depressant around!

June 7th-Wudassi Clinic

June 7th. When it comes to a third world country so much of the realities of our cushy, modernized States melt into a life of survival. While we fight over what brand of peanut butter to get in the US, people in other worlds are walking miles to the nearest city to get medications for their loved ones and waiting hours in lines without a thought for their own comforts. How easily wrapped up we get in things that truly don't matter. It reminds me of patients I have cared for who fought in war, return to the US, and struggle with re-integration. Today we treated children from on orphanage. We treated the elderly from a geriatric center. We treated "the Street kids" the bus picked up. We treated women who made a living selling themselves.Everything from spinal TB to a brain mass to schizophrenia to eye infections came through our clinic and recieved free care, medication, and when appropriate, referrals. The language- barrier is challenging. The condition the people are in is challenging. Sometimes you have to breathe through your mouth and remind yourself that scrubs do wash while performing a physical exam. Each person who came through the clinic, no matter what their status or background, shared a commonality. Each possessed a soul that is precious and that Jesus died to save. When one can begin to look at others through Jesus' eyes, one can begin to love more fully. That is the biggest lesson I want to take away. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

June 6th-Wudassi Clinic

Today we worked with over 350 beautiful men, women, and children. We were given the opportunity to leave a fingerprint on the lives of multiple artistic children. We learned more about the beauty of the Ethiopian culture and experienced more of their hospitality while working side by side for a greater purpose. I once again argued that my beloved Italians introduced the Ethiopians to coffee (our only point of major contention). Altogether an amazing day and a gift from God! Looking forward to another full day tomorrow (and a cup of that amazing coffee!)

June 5th-Cure and The Black Lion

Yesterday was the "between clinic" day for our group. The missionaries set up tours of both the Ethiopian branch of Cure Hospital as well as the local government hospital, the Black Lion. Cure is a non for profit organization that has hospitals in ten different countries providing both medical and spiritual care to those from all around who would not normally be able access care. The Black Lion is the government run facility and the go-to place for those who cannot afford private healthcare. The conditions of many of the patients in the Black Lion gave the team a glimpse of how blessed we are and lit a fire to the opportunity we have to share that blessing in the next few days. We will be working in a local clinic (Wudassie Clinic) which has provided a beautiful location for us to set up and run our clinic as well as offering a place for diagnostic testing and follow-up. Please pray that the team continues to be a blessing to all those we serve. Thankful to be in Africa!

June 4th-Fitche

Waking up to the sounds of roosters and the Sunni Muslim chants reminds our team of the foreign nation we have been blessed to serve and experience over the past few days. Yesterday we were up early for a two hour drive to the northern town of Fitche. Up in the mountains, the air was pure, the scenery incredible, and it was nothing for one to imagine it looking similar in Bible days. Once in the village, the beauty was joined by the desperate physical and Spiritual needs of so many precious souls. We had a few kinks to work out, but who doesn't when you drive a mobile clinic and thirteen faranji (or foreigners) around the Ethiopian countryside. After Fitch, we traveled to a School where we treated numerous children, many of which were HIV positive. All wanted to touch the foreigners and get a piece of us (waterbottle, pen, etc.) When the bubbles came out, the children went wild-or so we thought. After wrapping up clinic our leader pulled out a giant bag of candy. It was worse than free pizza day in elementary school! We continue to be blessed by so much, particularly the hospitality of the missionaries and the welcoming of several local friends working as translators. please continue to pray for our efforts. We have been able to connect many patients with follow up through the Wudassi clinic and will have the opportunity to work in it at the end of the week. Thank you all for your support!

June 3rd-Korah

Jetlag is an ugly brute, but it does allow for an update. Korah was incredible. You enter the dump and the smell permeates your every pore. You see the flies and think, "Dear God please don't let one land on me!" The stigma of Korah carried by the travelers does not ever touch that of the one held by the Ethiopians. TB, leprosy, and HIV are just a few of the diseases plaguing the people. None can afford ongoing care, if any, so things like diabetes, hypertension, and leprosy go untreated. We paired into teams and set up stations to treat the patients.

My station's first patient was a crippled old man with active leprosy. Talk about getting over your queezy-ness quickly. We also treated a lady with a goiter the size of a large apple, several severely malnourished women with unmanaged HIV, and everything from wounds to pneumonia. Many patients we were able to connect to the local clinic that we we are working with and get their information for follow-up. That is where the locals who served as translators proved priceless. All had grown up in the area and could identify the shack or the tree or the family of the patient to ensure follow up. The clinic is able to provide many services for both those who can pay and those who cannot. For things like HIV, they connect the people with the proper resources to plug into a management program. The most exciting patient my station had was an older gentleman who had been blind for years. One of our Doctor's wives brought eyeglasses and was able to fit him with a proper pair. I must admit, I was skeptical and thinking there was no way we could help him based on the film and scar tissue covering his eyes. However, there was no denying the "whoop" He let out as the last pair was placed over his eyes. He was physically jumping for joy and kissing and hugging us! The excitement was electric and I was faced with my intense lack of faith in God's provision and ability to use those whom are willing. He doesn't ask us to get our Masters degree and cure cancer before He can use us, He just says come with the faith of a child. 

Please continue to pray for the team. Today we leave early for the mountains to work in a village. Please pray that our supplies last and that we are able to share God's love.

June 2nd-Ethiopia

A beautiful cup of strong, black Ethiopian coffee and an early morning run with the brave=bring on this day! Now to remember to not sing in the shower (for "fear" of the water)!!

Tomorrow morning, our team begins our ministry at a place called Korah. Here exists a Community of 120,000 outcasts of Society eating, sleeping, and surviving off of the city dump -many suffering from HIV, Tuberculosis, and other serious medical conditions. Due to their status, many have never had medical treatment and exist without hope. Please pray as we offer them medical treatment as well as share the                   unfathomable love of Christ.

June 1st-Ethiopia

So thankful to have landed safety in Ethiopia. Thank You for the prayers. Orientation begins very soon. Excited for the Ethiopian fare- So far the goat is amazing! A huge thank you to Bethel Baptist church for helping us at the airport with all of the extra supplies! Also a huge thank you to the lady with the television in customs who distracted the officers from our medical supplies. God is good.