Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Fighting Dragons with you!"

     I began following a blog recently that has profoundly influenced my parenting. I will be forever grateful to Rachel @ . Her words have challenged and encouraged me to slow down, put down my cell phone and recognize the beautiful gifts God has so graciously given me in my two beautiful children.

   When Lily was a little girl, having only one child, I was so much more intentional with the time that I spent with her.  We spent time doing crafts, reading, making music and learning.  I literally had "intentional time with Lily" scheduled into my "to do lists".

     Then, six years later came my sweet & spicy little man, Zion.  Life was just so much busier and my time became divided.  Zion is so much more independent and will play by himself for extended periods of time.  I found those times as an opportunity to get things done and took every chance I could to fold a load of laundry, catch up on emails or even honestly browse Facebook on my phone:(  Here is the honest and painful confession.... as Zion has gotten older he is more interested in including me in his playtime and I have gotten so used to the uninterrupted time that he plays independently that I almost resent his requests for attention. "Ouch and Ugh", I know...parent of the year right?

     One of my favorite lines Rachel writes in her blog is "the truth hurts and the truth heals....and brings me back to the parent I want to be." I believe it is God's Grace that my brother Michael shared her blog on Facebook that day   It caused me to face the truth as much as it hurt and realize it was time for a change!
     So now I am trying, not perfect by any stretch, but trying.  Today Zion asked to go for a bike ride on the greenbelt.  I looked at my "to-do list", took a deep breath and said..."Absolutely son, let's go!"

     My little self proclaimed, "Soldier in God's army" and I fought bad guys & dragons (AKA trees), Giants (AKA telephone towers)  and even stopped to pick "wishers"!  We laughed and ran and had the most amazing time!

"Long live all the mountains we moved
I had the time of my life
Fighting dragons with you" -Taylor Swift "Long Live"

     God is good and so gentle with me.  I am so grateful for His Grace and that He provides little reminders along my journey:)  Thank you Rachel,  for speaking truth and helping bring me back to the "parent I want to be."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Redemption Song

 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2: 8-10

     I have used the word Grace and heard it used too many times to count in my many years as a believer.  However, last night I had the privilege to experience this word in a way that I am truly still spinning from!

     The word Grace is defined as "unmerited favor", that is...favor that you do not in anyway shape or form deserve.  It is truly a gift, straight from the Hand of God, given to those who choose to accept it.  I love how my Pastor explains Grace.  He speaks of how God loves to "lavish" us with His Grace. To "lavish" means to bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.

    Well, last night I was "lavished" with generous and extravagant quantities of Grace from my God through the words and love that were shown to me by some very precious and beautiful people in my life.

    I have had the privilege of serving as a youth leader for my Church for going on 7 years.  I have recently felt God leading me in a different direction in ministry and have chosen to step down from youth leadership. Last night I was given an amazing party to celebrate this new season of my life and ministry.

     I was surrounded by youth & youth parents both current and past as well as, fellow leaders, friends and my own family. My precious friend Crystal put together a slide show with photos taken during youth events over the past several years. It was all that I could do to contain the great joy and overwhelming emotion I experienced while watching the slide show and listening to the words that were shared.

     As I reflect on the verse above I am struck by how much it captures my time in youth ministry.  And to think He prepared it all for me "in advance".  See, He knew even when I myself was a youth and young adult making horrible choices and compromises in my own life.  He Knew He would one day call me out of it!  He knew that He had bigger plans for me.  I was his "handi-work" and boy did I take some "handi-work":)

Ephesians 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

     I will share about one last gift I received last night.  I received the gift of understanding redemption as I have never understood it before.  It is in understanding Grace I have been able to feel redeemed.  Redeemed from my past and forgiven.  I now understand in a way that I have never before, that God loves me and believes in me enough, in spite of my past, present or future mistakes.  He chose my life to touch others.  That is Grace...That is Redemption.

     I close with a chorus from one of my favorite songs by Bob Marley.  I believe it is the perfect way to end this blog...

"Redemption Song"- Bob Marley

Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the 'and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Soul Holes

       I had the privilege to share at my Church this year on Mother's Day.  I was a part of a woman's Bible Study on a book titled "One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp." Our Pastor had asked myself and two other amazing people to speak on the subject of gratitude.  Below is what I shared in "blog" form. If you are interested in listening to the entire sermon please feel free to click on the link below.

Soul Holes
     Brad asked me to share this morning on how this Woman’s Bible Study and this book One Thousand Gifts has influenced my life. 

      If I am honest I will tell you, reading is not something that comes easy for me.  I so admire my friends who are voracious readers.  I have 1000 excuses (no pun intended) for why I don’t read more.  But regardless of how far I have gotten in the book, I can honestly say that what I have read has been life giving and life changing.

     I have read this book as I believe it is to be read. Just as a rich dessert is to be eaten.   Slowly, savoring every morsel of God’s truth spoken through this amazing author.  

     In the first chapter I read a paragraph that truly moved me and I felt myself wanting to “chew on the truth that it spoke of.”

    “He means to rename us-to return us to our true names, our truest selves.  He means to heal our “soul holes.”

     When I heard those words “soul holes”, being the visual person God made me, I immediately had a picture similar to one below. 

     I was born and raised in the the Southern California Dessert.  It rarely rained but when it did we would experience what are known as “Flash floods”.  After the rain had stopped and the flood waters receded.  This is what would be left behind.  Cracks or Holes in the dry scorched earth.  Some larger and deeper than others.  These larger and deeper crevasses give rise to smaller ones but they are all somehow connected.

     I spent some time with the Lord and processed this minds eye picture He had given me.  I saw the dessert wash as my own soul.  The cracks in the earth were my “soul holes”.
    The times in my life that these crater like places originated varied in depth and degree of damage.  
 But regardless they left a void an impact...a hole.  

       I believe we all have these “holes in our souls.”  They represent times in our lives when something traumatic or very difficult happened. A death or loss, failed relationship or divorce, a major disappointment.  

     These holes could have been made by someone else or maybe choices that we ourselves made. The common theme however, is what ever happened it left an empty space in our souls. 
      Whatever the reason it originated most of us spend the rest of our lives trying to fill it.  Some fill it with a relationships, sex, food, drugs, alcohol, money and material things.  Whatever it is it NEVER satisfies the longing in our soul!  Our “soul hole” just NEVER seems to get filled!!

      For some of us our “soul holes” are surrounded by a slippery edge.  Every time anyone or anything gets near that edge, even if they mean well, and are there to help, they get sucked in to the ugly dark, mistrusting well in our souls. 

      Until you first identify your “soul holes” and how you have been filling them you spend countless hours sucking life down into that ugly place.  I know I sure have.

    God helped me identify one of my deepest “soul holes” through this study.  What’s interesting is that I thought that hole was covered over and redeemed.  

     I’ve realized now that it has been filled by the “rains” that have come in my life.  The times of refreshing I have experienced.  The “rain”, in my opinion, represents when people have “poured” into these areas of my life through encouraging words and even powerful prayer times. I leave those times feeling filled up, refreshed.

      But this hole is so large and deep and when my walk has been desert dry and the “flood waters” have receded and the enemy’s lies scorch like the desert heat I am left with a gaping dry deep crevice in my soul.

   What this study has challenged me to do is look for the refreshing to come from the opposite direction.  By tapping in and digging deep!

   I learned in order for these holes to stay filled I needed to go deeper into the vast darkness, as painful, scary and intimidating as it is.  

   I love the 40 weight lyrics that read...

I wait for You to hear me
Won't You come just a little bit closer
Your love is deeper than the oceans
I go down, I still breathe
And wait for You to fill me up
Fill me up
Won't You come now and fill me up.

     This 1000 gifts study challenged me to move beyond my pain, failure, disappointments & darkness and to tap into  “The well spring of life!!  That’s where Jesus is.  That’s WHO JESUS IS!  That’s where the refreshing lies.  


     Jesus is the LIVING WATER to our souls!!!  When you are tapped into that constant source of living water your soul holes are constantly filled and refreshed with clean, pure, HOLY WATER!!!

     So how have I “tapped in” to this living water!  What are the things that I have been doing to “fill” my soul holes.

     It is first in the recognition and in the Thanksgiving.  In realizing that beyond that hole lies an opportunity of a lifetime.  Had they not have been there I may not have needed HIM.  And oh how grateful I am for NEEDING HIM!  

     I then remember and recall His faithfulness.  His redemption in spite of my choices.  I look at my incredible husband and beautiful children and I am Grateful and Thankful with every ounce of my being.  That my God Loves me that much to gift me with their lives.  

     I acknowledge that without particular soul holes in my life I would not have the heart for broken young women that I have.  I am thankful.  I tap in....Holy Water flows....

     At the last lesson Ann talks about how water flows into a river, The Jordan River and flows downward into two other bodies of water- The Sea of Galilee and The Dead Sea.

A quote from the book....
   “The first to be fed from the freshwater of the Jordan is the Sea of Galilee.  It receives water in the north and it gives from the south as the Jordan continues to flow downward.  The Sea of Galilee, it teems with life; it is fresh, and alive with fish.  If you dive into this clear water, you can open your eyes and swim freely.”

     “The second body of water is the Dead Sea.  It also receives from the north as the Jordan pours forth its freshwater.  The difference is that the Dead Sea does not give.  The Dead Sea just takes.  There is no outlet”  As a consequence, nothing can live in its toxic, mineral-filled , bitter waters, If you dive into this body of water and open your eyes, you will need to call a medic, it burns like acid.”

   “Two seas fed by the same by the same river.  One gives and lives.  The other holds on and dies.”

     “What is true for these ancient bodies of water is just as true in our lives.  When we receive gifts, grace and joy and give them to others, we are fresh and filled with life.  And when we receive, take and hold on to the good gifts of God and never pour out for others, we become bitter and toxic.”

      I am inspired now to be like the Sea of Galilee to be constantly refreshed and tapped in to the source of Holy Water and then instead of stagnating in my faith, holding onto this Grace and drying up.    I will give and pour out this water of Life to others.

     There is a song that several of us sang in Sunday School growing up.  As God was speaking to me about this “soul hole” concept.  He reminded me of this song on day. I have sang this song several times in my life but NEVER have I really recognized the power in the lines of this song until now.  It is a song we have now been singing on a regular basis around our house.

     Since it is Mother’s Day I have asked my two beautiful Children to help me sing it.  I would also love it if you joined in if you know it.  Most importantly, as you sing the lyrics pay attention to the power and truth that they hold.


I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me.
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see

Opens prison doors, sets the captives free
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me

Spring up a well within my soul
Spring up a well and make me whole
Spring up a well and give to me
That life Abundantly!!!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happy 9th Birthday to our "Lily Girl!"

Dear Lily Girl,

      Happy 9th Birthday to our beautiful girl!  As always I start these letters out by looking at the photos that we took of you over the last year.  I think we can all agree the transition from age eight to nine has most definitely had it's "highs" and "lows." However, I believe we can also agree that you moved into your ninth year on a definite "high note" with the arrival of your sweet Honey Bear!

     As I put you to bed last night and shared with you the story of the day you were born I was astounded how vividly I remembered those moments.  I honestly remember meeting you and holding you for the first time as if it was yesterday.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed with this new level of love that my heart was experiencing for the very first time.  What I had no clue of, at that time, was that I was only barely touching the surface of the deep well of love that existed in my heart for you.

     This year I discovered another level of that love as I watched you struggle and hurt.  The beginning of that loss of the blissful, oblivion of childhood was very evident over this year. Disappointments at school, rejection, friendship troubles, insecurities about your self image, and even discovering the truth about Santa were all very rough realities that this last year brought with it.

     However, it gave us an opportunity to tap deeper into that "love well" for you.  It gave us the chance to sit with you, hold you and pour out upon you ALL the truth we know about who your God created you to be!

     The reality is my sweet Lily Girl that this life is really rough sometimes.  I wish I could say this year was the end of those disappointments and challenges. However, it is my hearts desire and prayer that you will forever remember WHO you are in Christ Jesus and that in Him we have a hope and a future.  I hope you will always know as well, that when it is difficult to remember or hold on to that truth, that your Daddy and I will be right beside you praying and reminding you of OUR love and HIS love for you!

     Below are some photos over the last year that I believe capture the true essence of who you are my sweet, beautiful and gifted daughter.
                                                                                    All my Love,

An incredible Big Sister that loves her "bubby" very much!

A "Prayer Warrior" you prayed for your Auntie Stace
and God answered your prayers in a mighty way!
So grateful you have her in your life!
A "BFF".  God answered another prayer and brought you a great friend that lives right across the street from us!
"Our little fish!"  I love to watch you swim and play in the water!
You are a natural and your love for  swimming is in your blood!
Fun, energetic and creative!  Your friends love to come play at your house!

"Daddy's Girl"!  You have a special bond with your Daddy!
You are confident and secure in every ounce of his love!
He has done an amazing job at setting an example
 of how a man is to love you someday!
"A lover of animals!"  We are so thrilled we could finally get you your hearts desire!   
A girl with one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met!
You have received the "Caring" award 4 years in a row:)

Generous and loving!  
You baked this cake for your Daddy to congratulate him on the new shop!  
All your idea!
"Our Rock Star in the making"!
I love that you are so self confident you will get up in front of a crowd of strangers
and rock out with your favorite "Rock Stars!"
"A Happy Camper"!  You absolutely LOVE camping!
You are not afraid to get dirty and enjoy every ounce of the experience!
"A Brownie"!  You have enjoyed joining Brownies this year!
"A bit crazy with a great sense of humor!"
You love to laugh and enjoy life
and don't take yourself to seriously most of the time!
"Helpful"! You loved helping Grammy decorate her tree!
"Our nature lover!"
You still love to explore and find "treasures".
  You have done this since your were just a little girl!

"Lover of books"!  I love to see you read and
hear you tell, in great detail about the stories you have read!

I hope you never stop wanting me to sing to you
 my sweet "Popsicle Toes!"

Happy 9th Birthday
"Popsicle Toes"
I love your popsicle toes, your sweet little nose,
your eyes that shine bright as the sky!

I love your popsicle toes, I even love your elbows,
love your belly belly belly button too!

I love your arms and your legs,
your Father made no mistakes,
You're perfect in every way!

And I just can't get enough of that sweet little touch,
 it chases all my blues away....

Friday, January 25, 2013

"A View from the Other Side of the Bedside"

I have been a Registered Nurse for just over 17 years now.  I have worked most of my Career in a Critical Care & Recovery Room environment. I have worked 11 of my 17 years at Kaiser Roseville.  

     I left Nursing School ready to fight for every patient, ready to advocate, stand in the gap, treat every patient as if they were my own family member.  I had this extreme sense of pride and felt as if I was fulfilling the “calling” or “mission” for my life. 

     Now, 17 years in, I still consider myself “above average” in most of those areas. However, there are areas in which I have grown complacent, grizzled, jaded and judgmental.  I rush.  I avoid eye contact.  I am annoyed by patients and their family members.  I am lazy, inflexible and if I am completely honest...I have lost sight of who I am and what I am called to be as a Registered Nurse.

     I believe in God. It says in the Bible that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I believe that the experiences I have had over the last two weeks, although painful and difficult for my family and I, will be used to bring about “good” in my future as a nursing professional and in the lives of my future patients and their family members.

       On Saturday January 5th I received a call from my Mother-in-Law that my Father-in-Law had passed out and fallen in the garage.  I immediately encouraged her to call 911 and have my Father-in-Law taken to the hospital.  She did, and he was, and so began my metamorphosis as a nursing professional.  

     What’s interesting about this experience is that it is not necessarily new for me. I have had the roles reversed in the past. I have been a family member to a dying or ill loved one in a hospital setting.  I have also been a patient.  For some reason this time around has effected me on a much deeper level.  I can honestly say that my approach to my profession has been irrevocably changed.  

     My Father-in-Law was transferred priority one to another local hospital for severe Aortic Stenosis and underwent open heart surgery to replace an Aortic Valve.  After a fairly routine recovery it was decided that he was ready to be discharged.  I was unable to be with my family at the time he was being readied for discharge.  My family called with some concerns about the sounds of his breathing and his shortness of breath.  I encouraged them to bring this immediately to the nurses attention.  They did and were told that patients “can sound like this.”  After I got off of work I arrived to check on my Father-in-Law who was in extreme respiratory distress.  We called 911 and he was readmitted to Kaiser Roseville within 3 hours of discharge in respiratory failure and acute CHF.  

     I was now in that oddly uncomfortable place of knowing too much and not enough all at the same time.  That place that so many of us as health care professionals have been when we are thrust into standing with a family member through a trying medical experience.  You feel powerful and powerless.  You hold the credentials yet have no actual power to assert them.  You watch the others putting their stethoscopes on your family member, drawing labs, starting IV’s, giving meds.  It is a careful balancing act to maintain the perfect “poker face” while at times biting your tongue and holding your breath until you feel as if you may explode.  Then you finally decide to say something...You decide that it is time to drop that ever so subtle hint that you may know a little more than the “average bear”.  

   Admit it, as medical professionals we have all been there at one time or another. You are going about your business, caring for your patient.  Then you know “THAT FAMILY MEMBER” drops the hint.  Some of us choose to ignore it initially, all the while “uping our game” a bit in the off chance this person may actually know what they are talking about.  As the family members hints get more obvious, we at times grow more defensive.  That defensive dynamic that exists between the care giver and THAT FAMILY MEMBER”, is one that is difficult to explain but it is such a common reality.  A reality of which I have experienced first hand in a major way over the past two weeks.  The reality of this “dynamic” has contributed in a profound way to one of the areas of personal growth & transformation I feel that is happening in my career as a nursing professional.

     How does the saying go...”don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in their shoes.”  Well I can say I have walked well over a mile in those shoes over the past two weeks.  Standing in the shoes of “THAT FAMILY MEMBER are the shoes of someone who is very afraid for the life of someone very dear to them.  They are the shoes of someone that knows and has seen the “worst of the worst”.  “THAT FAMILY MEMBER” has seen this situation their loved one is in and it hasn’t always turned out the way you are telling them it will.  They are most importantly the shoes of someone who is being looked at by other loved ones for answers and explanations and the pressure is great. 

      I have learned that rather than seeing this person wearing these shoes, as someone who is trying to outrun you.  More importantly see them as someone who is just there walking beside you through the process of seeking the best possible outcome for your patient and their loved one.  Welcome their questions.  Seek their input without being threatened.  Share information with them on a level they can understand and don’t condescend to them.  They are your team members in this race, NOT your opponent.  

     This “defensive dynamic” I speak of was much more “the exception” than it was “the rule” during my experience.  Especially at Kaiser Roseville.  However, it existed and it is because I experienced it that I learned so much about myself and the nurse I aspire to be.  

     You see I want to be a nurse and work with a team of nurses like the ones working the night shift in the ICU at Kaiser when my Father-in-Law was admitted.  We were so warmly greeted by everyone.  Anne his nurse gave us reassurance and helped encourage us to go home and get much needed rest.  I want to be the kind of nurse that leaves a lasting impression on you, like Hillary.  She had a kind, compassionate way about her that put all of us at ease.  I want to be a nurse like LaiLani.  She took the time to sit down in the midst of her very busy day and return my phone call to tell me how my Father-in Law was doing.  I want to always be a nurse with keen assessment skills like Monica & Becca.  They saw that my Father-in-Law was struggling, followed their instincts, made the right calls and made things happen.  They are incredible nurses and deserve to be acknowledged. I would like to have the same jovial bedside manner as Tony in the ICU. He kept my Father-in-Law in good spirits under a trying and difficult time.  I aspire to be a nurse like, Julie, who disarmed me with her peaceful spirit and warm reassurance when I felt out of answers.  I slept so well that night knowing he was in her care.    

     Finally I want to be a patient & family advocate like Joann in the ICU.  She stopped & listened to our concerns.  She then thoroughly assessed my Father-in-Law, passed the information on to Dr. Hajar.  He then took the time to meet with us, consider our requests and plan my Father-in-Laws care with them in mind.  We felt heard! 

     I have learned that we can NEVER underestimate the importance of those two letters next to our name.  We are Registered Nurses. With those two letters come extreme honor as well as incredible responsibility.  Regardless of how healthcare is changing there is one thing that will NEVER change.  We have the power to “make or break” a situation.  We have got to LISTEN to our patients and their families.  We have got to LISTEN to that inner voice inside that tells us something is not right!  We have got to be the eyes and ears for the Dr’s when they cannot or will not be at the bedside.  We have got to remind ourselves of who we are and why it is we do what we do!!!

     By no means am I saying I think I will now go out and be a perfect nurse.  In fact, I worked today and felt far from that most of the time.  What I can promise however is that I am going to be intentional with what I have learned through this.  I am going to take some time before I go into work each day and remember the lessons learned over the past couple weeks, both the good and the bad.  Finally, each day when I pin my badge on my uniform and put my stethoscope around my neck I am going to take a minute to recall my experiences from the other side of the bedside & thoughtfully consider my “calling”  as a Registered Nurse.