Monday, December 22, 2008
of my adventure tonight. It would definitely be worth a laugh...or two. So there I was (I mean, that's how all great narrated stories start, right? A good hook like that?), I was driving amidst the ice/snow/slush in Tacoma for the first time since I made it back to Washington last night. I was taking major roads, and they seemed to have just enough snow on top to allow for some traction before the layer of ice. Things were actually very pleasant (as pleasant as they CAN be when you're driving 20 mph) until I saw a person sitting on the ground with a crutch in their hand. It didn't look good. They certainly didn't appear to be down intentionally. So I decided I should help. I pulled off onto a side street nearby. MISTAKE NUMBER ONE. I was able to park without a problem, but by the time I made it to her another walker had helped her up. I was no longer needed, and my rescue efforts were somewhat in vain.
So I trudged back to my car to make my retreat. P.S. Let me say that it would my dad proud to know that I was wearing the Vasque boots he got me years ago. Nevermind that I was rocking them with a feminine white peacoat. The outfit was working from about the knees up. ;) Back to the retreat - I decide I should try to turn around rather than follow that smaller street back to a main road. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO. I wasn't exactly sure when that would be. So I start across the street, then back up where I had been formerly parked. However, when I try "DRIVE" again, my tires don't make nice with the packed snow. I go nowhere. Dilemma. I don't want to call anyone. No one else is around. What to do, what to do. I get out to check out the situation near by backtires. I don't see any pieces of wood nearby to throw under one of them. I figure I'm going to have to push. So I put the car in neutral, and brace myself against the curve to push. No luck. Then I get really brave, and throw it in drive before heading back to push again. Well, the incredible hulk in me came out to the point where the car rolled across the road against the snow pile/curb on the other side.
My next logical step was to change the gear to reverse while standing outside the car. MISTAKE NUMBER THREE. The car rolled back into the street, and with matrix moves, I somehow jumped into the driver's seat as it was moving. Thankfully, the brake worked, and I comandeered the vehicle back onto the main road.
Geesh, what an adventure. And if only someone could have taped it...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Too easy of a pun. Recently I've explored different thoughts about me being so far (mostly geographically) from my family. I worry that other people or even my family will perceive that as family not being important to me...or that they'll assume I don't have a tight-knit family unit or that there's some drama causing emotional distance as well. But that's not it at all. Everyone has to follow God's plan for THEIR own life. I would love to be closer to family, but that would be the only advantage to moving back to the south. I feel so much purpose in my place here (in Tacoma). I love being in the most unchurched state of the US. I love people hopefully catching a glimpse of Christ in me (somewhere amidst the chaos).
On a temporal note, I like my job. I like Washington state and what it has to offer. It's beautiful here. I like the temperate climate. Sure, I could live with a few less days of rain, but I can't complain since we get perfect summers. And how do you get over getting to see majesty like Rainier on a regular basis? Really?
On an eternal note, I have community here unlike any I've experienced in a long, long time. I can think of having it at Union and with my girls back in Memphis. It looked a little different in both instances, but so did I. I'm in legit koinonia with 6 girls who are passionately pursuing Christ and spurring me on continuously to do the same. I'm in discipleship with a lady who loves Jesus as her Shepherd and has been walking this Road for a while as a mother of 4 and the wife of a church planter. (P.S. She also lives a couple thousand miles from her large family as well, and we've talked about how hard it gets sometimes.) I have a church family who loves with everything they have. We're growing and wrestling with sin and fighting on in the process of sanctification like the Bride of Christ.
So I know I'm where God wants me. I guess I feel guilty sometimes for enjoying being here...which sounds silly. But I think we chalk up the Christian walk to this life-long struggle of daily martyrdom - and don't get me wrong, it is- , and in many ways dying to self and taking up the Cross daily is ALWAYS a struggle. My point is: I don't think I should be surprised that where God has me fits how He's made me. It makes sense that living in the fullness of His plan for me would bring joy. And hopefully more times than not, I can echo the Apostle Paul in saying the joy that comes from knowing Him IS greater than anything else in this world.
But let me end by saying how thankful I am to have family that support me in my pursuit of God and His plan for me. Every time I've asked my mom if it bothers her that I won't be moving back to Huntingdon to have the 3 bedroom home, the husband, and the 2.3 kids, she's never hesitated to reiterate that she wants God's best for me and for me to be happy- nothing less. It's empowering and encouraging. And for THAT, I'm eternally grateful.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
So I don't have any earth-shattering updates on life or learning, but I wanted to post some of the quotes that have sharpened my perception in the past few months.
We are not products of: gene pools, our impulses, our society, or our past. -sermon from Pastor Jon (but I added the "past" part)
Being dead to self means putting no conditions on me, which also means putting no conditions on others.
Forgiveness is supernatural.
"I can't give what I don't have" (referring to LOVE and GRACE)
-all these from Abby Santiago
Restraint sets us apart. (as Christians) -Traci Fredricks
The goal of eternal life is to SEE Jesus. But there are two obstacles to overcome:
Darkness in me is overcome by regeneration. Darkness in the world is overcome by reincarnation. The key to both is His glory through grace. Grace is the goal and the means. Grace transforms us from an advocate of a system to a witness of a reality.
- My blindness apart from grace
- The world is still in darkness.
-all from a sermon by John Piper
We died to the list of rules. We try to prove our sonship, but we're already there. Just BE. Sometimes there is nothing to obey. How would those around you characterize your Christianity? Do they think you live SO that God will accept you? Or BECAUSE God has accepted you? Don't look at hope and joy as indicators of the intensity of your faith.
-thoughts from different girls in my small group (Oh, how I love these girls and the time I get to spend with them in the Word)
I hope you are blessed and challenged with each of these as I am.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
After spending some time with super-stellar Traci Fredricks yesterday, I was left with a pricking thought. She asked me what God had been saying to me this week. I ended up somehow on one of my rants about an issue going on in my heart, and like the discerning woman that she is, she said (with a perfect preface) "You're going to want to hit me when I say this, but again, what is God saying to you this week?" After thinking through what my objectives have been in this valley (abiding), I realized I've been missing the point. I learned through the course of Experiencing God that His objective is NOT obedience. His first priority is my relationship with Him...that I KNOW Him more.
I've been trying to DO the right things for God. That's empty...and pointless. He wants ME to spend time with Him. If I'm squirming, if I'm sad, if I'm disappointed, if I'm elated, He wants to be there WITH me through those things. Talking with my friend Cham last night reminded me of this. He was describing this newness in His walk with Christ after God being WITH him through a really tough time, almost tangibly. I haven't been allowing God that opportunity.
So now I see (and hopefully I'll remember) that ABIDING is not OBEDIENCE. It's more than that. This Christian life is about a RELATIONSHIP with a PERSON, Who is Truth. My EG girls know that. The list of rules is religion. I ain't signing up for that. Now if I could just remember the difference between the two in my heart...
Monday, October 20, 2008
in the valley. It's new for me. I've talked a lot over the past few months about the pasture that I feel like God has been leading me through. It's been lush and green, and it represents such refreshing growth in my walk with Him. I knew that would be preparing me for other times of not-so-fun growth, and I was right. Being a "feeler" or a person of emotional intensity (does that make it sound cooler?), my highs are high and my lows are low. Very rarely am I hanging out consistently in the middle- apart from the transitions. If you're a math/trigonometry/algebra-type person, think of a sine wave as opposed to just the ol' x-axis. I'm a sine...wave.
So following this spurt of spiritual growth, I hit one of my usual downs. Now for me, this is a time of feeling kinda blah and lots of thought invested in why this cloud of blah settled over my heart. Usually I can pinpoint a number of possible causes without being able to fix or remove any of them. I sometimes get beat (by the Enemy) with the question of "Shouldn't God be enough that you never feel sad? If you really believed in the victory that salvation brings you, shouldn't that bring true joy to your heart despite anything that's going on right now?" I don't necessarily know the answer to those questions, but I know how I feel, and I know what I know about God and His Truth. I know that people in the Bible were legitimately sad. Read about Job. Read about Jesus! How we feel and who God is can both exist in our hearts if we have them in the right perspective.
I've talked to quite a few fellow believers about this concept over the past few days, and I've been really encouraged by their answers. Much of the responses involved what I just typed in the last paragraph. And honestly, I'm grateful for the opportunity to travel through one of these valleys with a better perspective. My normal approach is to check out for a few days (not get into the Word, slack off in prayer, and overall just retreat into introspection) until I come to a breaking point. But I will gladly leave behind this empty regimen that basically wastes a lot of Kingdom time and personal energy. So I'm trying to use this time to be still, to watch, to keep trusting. I'm still honest in prayer. I mean, God already knows how we feel anyway, right? So I trust in His power to change my heart. He renews my mind (Rom 12:2), and He is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). So I have hope. And hopefully I'm getting better at abiding.
Friday, October 10, 2008
...is a choice. We make it all the time. No one has the full picture because only God is omniscient. So the rest of us interpret our reality as best we can. This leaves Satan a lot of room to twist and deceive and distract us from God's Truth in our mind. Being on guard is hard, but we can't afford to succumb. It hurts. It causes us to miss out. And it can equip us to wrongfully damage others. So we step out in faith based on what we know from His Word instead. We let the peace that passes all understanding guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. We choose to believe His Word instead: about our worth, about our future, about our potential, and about our identity. We pray for His vision of our environment and those around us. It's hard to remember that we'll never see the whole picture and that our perspective on everything is quite limited. This word is for me. I've learned that the hard way this week. Some verses that have been valuable:
Phil. 4:8, James 1:19-20, Phil 2, Psalm 27, Psalm 131
Friday, September 26, 2008
This has been the theme of Experiencing God this week. Not coincidentally I have gotten to experience this in various forms this week. I met with Traci, our pastor's wife, and Pastor Rob, our small groups pastor, this week for various reasons. But in both situations, I came away encouraged, spurred on, and affirmed in my walk and where God has me. I constantly get that feeling at Discovery. Pretty much every Sunday morning I walk out to my car in the parking lot just puffed up after being with my church family.
And then the Enemy steps in. He knows exactly how. He uses what seems as small as a pin prick to rip open my insecurity. It starts with small wonderings of the mind. Little morsels that I begin to ponder until they turn into how I feel. I start doubting the quality of love in my life. It goes something like this: "Lauren, if they knew, if they really knew, they wouldn't see you like that." Or "Just wait, things are good now, because you're listening and trying to be obedient. But wait until you're wrong, or you get hurt and look stupid. All that positive perception will burst like a balloon."
There are many things wrong with this.
The first is identifying the true problem at the root of why this works on me. Going back to Rob's sermon on the progression of : what we do stems from how we feel, which stems from what we truly believe. So the reason that I feel insecure about how I'm perceived is because I believe people only love me if they think I'm good or entertaining or have something to offer them. It's the performance trap AND the approval addict if you've read Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee. Whatever good people might see is not mine (Rom. 3:10). So whether I fail or succeed by whoever's standards, my worth never changes. Because He proclaims it in His Word, and He doesn't change (Heb. 13:8), neither does His Truth.
The second is that I'm cutting my church family at the knees if I limit their ability to love only happy people. I KNOW better. I've seen otherwise. These people love WELL and without judgment. So back off, Satan. You are clearly not invited.
This won't be the last time he draws me off track with this one. It's certainly not the first. I just want to get better at the battle. Reading Psalm 139 and whining to my mom pretty much whipped it, but still. How debilitating. There's too much I want to do and experience to be side-tracked with such nonsense. And besides, I have some serious koinonia to be a part of!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
It is. I've known that. But my heart forgets sometimes. I've been so caught up and excited about all the things God's been laying on the heart of my friends and myself. Then Satan tried to twist it to make nervous about getting it wrong. He started making me fearful of messing tasks up and experiencing total failure with any and all attempts at progress in these visions. THEN the other day God reminded me what Blackaby says in Experiencing God about the fact that God tells you what He's going to do. NOT what He wants you to do FOR Him. Get that? No tasks with boxes to check. That's just your invitation to join Him. Look, listen, watch. Not go, do, run...fast. We're the ones obsessed with efficiency and the NOW of capitalism. God doesn't work on that time frame. So we shouldn't feel pressured to. And we shouldn't live like He's going to start.
So I found rest this week. Or more like God gave it to me. I'm in process. Plus, like we (the girls) have realized over and over during this study: the end objective in God's heart isn't completed tasks, obedience, or accomplishment for the Kingdom. It's that I and others come to KNOW HIM better. It's about the relationship. No, this stuff isn't rocket science, but it's heart-lifting every time. And I have yet to stop needing to hear it.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
I feel that way. Not my schedule or my stomach, but my life...in a good way. I've been blown away by what God is doing in and around me over the past few weeks. It just keeps intensifying, and it's ridiculously exciting. And the coolest thing is, I'm not alone in the journey. Ever since Amanda, Erin, Kirstin, and I have started Experiencing God, this has been the norm: seeing God's activity.
And let me say this, it's clearly making Satan nervous. The Father of Lies has been present and in full effect in certain areas, picking at my (our) insecurities, planting doubt, and just doing his best to cause delay, disillusionment, or disobedience. "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come so that you may have life and have it to the fullest." John 10:10. Jesus wanted us to know the Truth. And the truth is that God wants to do some pretty monumental things in our lives over the next few months. Satan's scared, and he should be. But he wasn't invited to this party. And sad news: he already lost the battle. It doesn't end well for him. We just need to, as believers, get better at recognizing him and calling him out. The whole "when Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future". We have the power. We've been given it thorugh the Holy Spirit, not to mention the armor of God (Eph. 6:10).
So if God's working in your life and you see He's about to do big things, as one of my new favorite sayings goes, "Gird up your loins". Call that kid out. I figure it's okay to insult the Devil.
But fight for what is good, like Paul talked about. Hold tight to the love promises of your Lord. My prayer is that He continually equip us for battle. It's already going on. Being close to and growing in Him means more involvement in the war. So we need to be ready, and there's no need or room for fear.
I'm excited. I'll keep you "posted".
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The Experiencing God lesson today talked about how God reveals to us what He's going to do, not what He wants us to do for Him. Interestingly enough, Jada (my sister in Memphis in pharmacy school) called last night and we talked about a sermon she had just heard about how God doesn't need us. He will accomplish His purposes regardless of whether we say yes to Him or not. It is our greatest joy to take part. I don't want to diminish in any way the fact that He loves us and passionately pursues us, but we need to make clear that He does that FOR OUR GOOD. Not because He's a weak, needy lover like what we see portrayed in movies and literature. His Name WILL be made great...one way or another.
Now back to my original direction with this...it seems like our ticket to involvement in what God's doing in this world is faith. The more tickets we have, the more we get to take part in. Faith seems scary to us because it is, in fact, trusting in things unseen. But hear me now, faith is NOT trusting in our ability to be obedient. Did you get that? We are NOT trusting in our ability to get it right. We are trusting in the sovereign Creator of the universe that started this thing and is intricately involved in holding it all together (Col. 1:17). Another point that Henry Blackaby makes earlier on is that how we respond when God invites us to join in His work says more about what we believe about God than it does anything else. Read that sentence a couple of times until it sinks in. Sure, there's a reflex reaction to doubt self. But He wasn't depending on us. So we shouldn't be. He knows what He's going to do. Get that? Going to do. He is so gracious to ask us to join Him in the work. And THAT'S where our joy is found.
Father, forgive our self-dependence. Forgive our American dream of working hard enough to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Forgive our Oprah-mentality of self-help and inner strength. Forgive our incredible blindness and failure to hope in an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God who loves us more than we can know. Forgive us for denying Who You are. Remind us of Your power. Show us the difference between what we dream of doing for You and what YOU want to do in and through us.
Remind us that faith is safe in an all=powerful God. It WILL come to fruition in our lives. Do not let our focus and our goal be in the production of fruit, but in growing deeper and falling more headlong in love with our Father who has loved us from the beginning. So grow our faith to pray for, expect, and see God-sized activity in our lives. I'm tired of mediocre.
Remind us that when we say yes, and You begin to do God-sized things, it won't be due at all to any good in us or any gifts we have to offer. It's just obedience.
Not to diverge too much, but Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains in Cost of Discipleship about how to reconcile Jesus's commands in the Sermon on the Mount about not letting the right hand know what the left is doing (Matt. 6) and then letting your light shine before men (Matt. 5:16). Seems contradictory, right? The gist is Christ is the plumbline. We don't measure up. Anything we do in obedience to Him (which will produce things that only God can do in a life) is just that: obedience. But to a lost world depending only on the ability of man, they WILL seem extraordinary. So it's fine to "Go big, or go home." Just make sure everyone knows Who was and will always be responsible for it. We're just doing what we've been told (and it's awesome to be a part), and that's JUST obedience.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
After she tells me who this guy is and that he was almost trying to hear my conversation, my heart started racing. I didn't know what to do or what this meant. So I asked the girls to pray as I submitted the whole situation to God. After "amen" I went over to the group (he was meeting with the worship leader and another guy) to introduce myself and kinda share my vision. I got his email address, and it was done. He sounded excited, and I emailed him this morning. How crazy is that?
Why is it that I still get so surprised that God will work out His purposes? Maybe the real surprise (and sublime) part is that He calls us to be part of the plan!
Monday, August 25, 2008
This was the topic of Pastor Rob's sermon today (or yesterday) at church. He started a two-part series on singleness. A group of us actually did a little skit to help kick things off (written and directed by my dear friend Erin Randle, the lyrical wordsmith). We all went over to his house earlier this week to discuss issues that we single people frequently encounter. It (and the skit) was funny to go over all the phrases single people have thrown at them. Here were some of the examples:
- You'll find him (or her) as soon you stop looking and/or when you least expect it. Do you have a 12-step program to get someone to "not looking" or "least expecting"? What about us observant folks? Are we just ruled out forever? And what does that even mean or imply? I don't (nor do any of my friends) sit around and pine for some person to complete my life.
- Are you dating anyone? Do you have a boyfriend? Why not? Don't even get me started on this one. How do I begin to address this? The obligatory courtesy laugh usually ensues.
- Maybe there's something God has for you to do before then. Where are you not plugged in? This is where I feel like building a resume would be most appropriate, documenting all my "spiritual activity" like some scoreboard that proves my eligibility as a member of a godly dating relationship.
- Just keep running the race on the path God has for you. Eventually you'll look to the left or right and see someone running right beside you. Then you just link up to run the race together. While this is a beautiful picture of how a love story God writes might go, it's kinda silly. Most of the single people I know ARE running the race the best way we know how. It's not like we've stopped, sat down for a second, and decided to scavenge our immediate surroundings for any and all possible dating prospects. Most of us are doing the dang thing. And enjoying it as we go!
- Maybe your expectations are too high. You should ease up on guys. Expecting a boy to love Jesus before I would date him is NOT an excessive expectation. It's sensible. It saves him money and both of us time in the grand scheme of things. If we don't have the most basic part of my life in common, then where would we even start? I'm not willing to chase that rabbit. Waste of time.
Things are really good right now. I can't remember a time when my life felt this full. Now that I've been able to shank the school/residency monkey-on-your-back syndrome, my life is MINE again. I'm in an amazing Bible study with 3 girls who love Jesus and love me. I'm plugged in to a beautiful little church full of people fully-devoted to encountering God and equipping others to do the same. I really like my job and the people that I work with. I get true fulfillment by using my education/training to help others to the best of my ability. And more than all these things, God has shown Himself to be active in my life. He's inspiring my heart for new ministries; He's linking it with others to walk this journey with; and He's drawing me to know Him more.
So for this season, I am eternally grateful. I know I will look back and see this is as a fruitful, sweet time in my life. I praise God for showing this to me in the midst of it.
Friday, August 08, 2008
...in round holes. Frequently used phrase, I know. I think of Jill Philip's album every time I hear it. But it's the best cliche to describe how I feel in this recent phase of growth/life/whatever you want to call this process of sanctification. I'm a redeemed soul built for glory submerged in this fallen world. And it feels like that. Nothing fits. I don't fit. Please note at this point that my redemption/salvation/justification was and is due to no merit of my own. That's clear. (Eph. 2:8-9, Romans 3:10) I'm not saying, "Woe is me because I'm better than my environment".
But I don't fit here. And I don't think I'm supposed to. There are times where this life feels better than other times, but as I'm going through this Experiencing God study with my girls, I'm really having to wrestle through some Truths. I went into it expecting God to just show up and make my heart light after the first week. Well, that specific event hasn't happened yet. I know He's at work. He's been at work (Phil. 1:6) ; that's what this whole study is about.
Here recently the focus has been on my personal relationship with Him. That's a tough one. It has honed in on the basics: He LOVES me. He asks me to LOVE Him back. It's that simple. So why is that the hardest part? Why do I think in my heart that His love is no better than mine? Why do I struggle trusting Him, as if everything's not in His hands to begin with (Col. 1:17)? Why do I hesitate to hand Him the hope of my heart?
Honestly, I'm a little gun-shy. My hope constantly disappoints. But why? Oh, that's because I've placed it in events, or people, or changes, or results, or control. Why does my heart not understand that He's the only safe place for my hope, for my heart?
Because, let's be honest, I'm not going to be cheerleader-happy very consistently on this earth. And I'm learning just today that what He asks me to do is not "be happy", but rest in the discontentment. Rest in the knowing that He IS Who He says He is. He will do what He said He will do. THAT, and that alone, is the only safe, secure place for my hope. It's the only place my heart fits.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I had an exciting day at work. I got to be the primary pharmacist on a code (which means somebody wasn't doing well at all), and despite the horridness of the situation, it was a rush. As a healthcare worker, sometimes the worst situations for others are the most shaping for your career. I had two residents and a technician helping out and looking on, and I was actually just charged (in a positive way) by the whole crisis situation. I seem to flourish under high-pressure, crunch-type situations. So despite the underlying cause, I appreciated the experience.
And then two things made me laugh at myself today:
- I was talking to a 21-year-old who's about to hit 22 at the gym today, and he was complaining about it. You know I wasn't going to let him have all the glory, so I made a topping reference to my own age (which he already knew). And his follow-up comment? "But you're well-preserved!". REALLY? If someone uses a phrase like "well-preserved", doesn't that automatically mean you're old? Seriously?
- I had a blast tonight. I did something that made my heart happy. I used my new Hoover vacuum cleaner in my apartment. It's just nice for ONCE to have your expectations exceeded. Well, my trusty new Hoover came through for a girl. And I'm content about it.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
That was today. Today the rain was just...right. It was my day off for this week. I work through Sunday. Not much to look forward to. But the rain was somehow refreshing. I didn't really want the sun with its pressure to be outside making good use of the day. I wanted the slowness, the okay to feel a little dreary that a rainy day brings. It was ironically uplifting.
I've started "Experiencing God", the Bible study, with three bombin' girls from my church, and it's been really good. Just deep, gut-checking, faith-pushing, good. We meet in a coffee shop, but that hasn't barred the tears when they were looming. We're only in the first few units of the study, but God is already pushing me to hard places. He's calling me out on a lot of things and calling me to follow Him out on different ledges of faith. It's been a while since He interrupted my life so blatantly. It's uncomfortable. I'm overarchingly thankful for it, but squirmy through part of the process.
But I heart these girls. More so every week. It's amazing how we each can see how God wants the other to let Him love her. Two of the girls gave me "You are Special" by Max Lucado for my birthday. I read it last night for the first time and teared up. When the puppet realizes that the only thing that matters is what the Creator thinks, he's free. He's whole. I want that. Consistently. All the time. Just because God spoke it. I want that to be enough for my heart to hope in. About everything.
I'm enjoying the process...as much as you can in the midst of discomfort. We talked about that...lots of uncomfortable-ness. lol. That was a time of laughing. But overall, I expect to experience God. I expect to know Him more and trust His heart with all of mine. I'll keep you posted.
Friday, July 25, 2008
If you went to Union, do you remember Amber Donovan, April Donovan's older sister? You probably also know that she was married and that she and her husband were missionaries overseas. They had just adopted their second child from overseas when she was killed in a car crash on the way to pick her husband up from the airport. Here's an interesting article about one of the fruits from her life:
Thursday, July 17, 2008
It's coming for me on Sunday. The big 26. Originally I wasn't looking forward to this one. I mean, 25's the year, right? It's the time of your life, right? Well, it was a good year for me, true. Lots of transition, growth, and newness. No regrets.
I have a new home in a new state, a career I enjoy and am proud of, and a great community here to do life with. I love my church home, my coworkers, and my friends here.
More than ever, I'm grateful for the amazing family members and friends from life pre-Washington. I'm more comfortable being me than ever before.
So yeah, bring on 26. It's gonna be the best year yet!
Monday, June 23, 2008
I guess that's the most appropriate term. I don't ever know what to expect. At different points in life, I begin to think "I thought I would get this by now. Why do I still feel ill-prepared? Why do I keep coming to the same points over the same issues? Why do I end up feeling the same way?" In college, during what I consider one of my greenest times spiritually, I often felt alone. I felt like no one else in the world understood what I was going through. And at the time, I always felt like it was God preparing for a life called out, one set apart. I felt He was equipping me for what He had called me to. And at the time I was sensitive enough to the Spirit, and my faith muscle was conditioned enough to lean on Him and let Him be more than enough to get me through it.
At many points I've been able to stand on the thought of me and God for the long haul. I'll be fine because it's Him writing my story, and He hasn't left me to live it blind or alone. But I think over the years I fell under the deception that things would be different when I got older or after I hit these certain milestones. I've made a ton of friends over the years. And not just people being nice to me: I'm talking people in the trenches with me. Living LIFE together. Sometimes they've had to drag me through when I couldn't see to the other side of my obstacles. Great friends. But I still come back to this place: the feeling that I am alone. It's just my story that God is writing. He hasn't made anyone a consistent player in this production. Please don't misunderstand me: my family is amazing. They are ALWAYS there and willing to offer love, prayer, and support. But it's different. I can't live with them. That's not adulthood. And my amazing friends (my old skool college friends) are scattered across the globe. Communication is hard.
All this comes up as I transition to the next step. No more school. No more tests. No more projects or assignments. It's over. I have no next box to check, no hurdle to jump. I have a stable job, and I'm considering purchasing property. And it scares me to death. I think the answer will come in the form of response to this question: Is how I feel independent of my immediate circumstance or is it there to spur me on to my next step?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Not the bloody kind. But I received some great insight from a friend who's learning about being one, and I wanted to share her thoughts. I hope you are as challenged and encouraged as I was by them.
"1 Corinthians 3:5 says "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow."
We are pushed from Day one to be someone, to fill a role and to have success and accomplishments, to make a name for ourselves as our culture dictates. We put so much emphasis on forming this individual identity that we believe it actually matters, when the reality is that while those things can be good they are secondary to being used by Christ. It really hit me that Paul refers to himself as a what, the same greek word used for objects because that's what we are, we're vessels - of God's love and grace and mercy, a testament to His name. And apart from that, we're nothing.
Every creation was formed to give glory to God, to praise the works of His hands and we are simply another creation to be used for the same end. To start thinking of ourselves as a what instead of a who takes away the need we've created for this individual identity and allows us to simply be useful. Like the potter and the clay - the clay finds its identity in what the potter is doing with it - there's no value in the clay itself, even if it's expensive or rare or beautiful. If it is not used, it's worth nothing. The value and the purpose comes in the potter crafting the clay for a specific use and the clay fulfilling that. We are merely vessels, unformed clay - and without Him using us, we could accomplish nothing.
A friend recently told me that marriage is not about our happiness but about our sanctification and looking more like Christ. I think that's true for every area of our lives. I have such a tendency to think my desires are genuinely of consequence. And they're not. He controls those desires and puts them there for a purpose, but my view of what the outcome will be is not always the same as His because it's not that we have desires and God fulfills them, but rather that He gives us desires to guide us to a specific direction, and to make us content in His placement. Ultimately my happiness is secondary to my usefulness in bringing Him glory. That's why I can't find my identity in being a paramedic or a wife or anything else aside from the task He has given me, which is to trust Him, to follow Him above all else, and to be a vessel for His use.
There's this line in a Rascal Flatts song that says "I drive myself crazy trying to stay out of my own way" I feel like that defines my life. By thinking it mattered who I am or what I accomplished or anything else, it took my focus off Christ and continuously got me in trouble. I trust His purpose, and know that He can and will and wants to use this life to bring Him glory. I just have to stay out of the way, quit thinking I have any right to figure things out, quit acting like my desires are of any relevance, and to allow myself to be useful."
I love my friends! I'm thankful that God has blessed me with so many that challenge me to know Jesus more.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The Western States Residency Conference is held at Asilomar, a state park in Monterey, California every year. This is where the residents from the western side of the country get together to present on the research project they've dedicated their year to. There are 750 people here at the neat little rustic grounds to either present or support those who are presenting.
The good news is that I'm done already. I gave my presentation on the impact of a pharmacist in an ambulatory cystic fibrosis clinic this morning. And it went pretty well. No one drilled me with ridiculous questions, and most people were complimentary. So now I feel great. For the most part, that was the pinnacle of my year. And now I'm past it. It's a bit of a wierd feeling. Either way, I'm here until Friday.
The bad news is that's it's cold. It's sunny and beautiful here (the scenery), but the breeze is clipping. And I didn't bring any sleeves. Looks like me and the Marmot jacket are 'bout to be best friends. I want to get out and jog, but after they warned us about the potential of meeting up with a mountain lion, I reconsidered.
James (one of my co-residents) presents this afternoon, then Callie (my other co-resident) tomorrow afternoon. Other than that, we're networking (the professional word for hanging out and meeting folks) and relaxing (which is new to most of these attendees).
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The land of big trucks and sweet tea. Where people talk to you as if they've known you all your life, even if you've never met. The weather was absolutely perfect during my time at home: about 80 and sunny with a cool breeze. I drove with the windows down most of the time. The fragrant smell of honeysuckles was constantly in the air. And I could always go on about how much I love my family. They just keep getting better.
I love being from small-town Tennessee. You can't beat it. That will never change. But I still look forward to returning to my current life in the beautiful Pac NW. I am reminded that I have been and continue to be truly blessed.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Big part of my life...of my outlook. Since way back in the day of Huntingdon FBC, singing with my two friends where we each dubbed ourselves with the nicknames of Faith, Hope, and Love. I was Hope, even then. And it's accurate. I'm a closet romantic, idealist, all the perspectives on life that have hope as its basic tenet.
Today, when Pastor John brought the Word from the book of Esther he preached a bombin' sermon on inner beauty, women and our source of attractiveness, etc. And it was so dead-on and culturally relevant. But the part that sliced me the deepest was one of his wrap-up statements:
"We get disappointed because we hope in the wrong things."
Wow...yes, I do. I hope in the wrong things. Romans 5:3-5 talks about enduring suffering so that we produce character, and after character, hope. And our hope doesn't disappoint because of the love God pours into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. Wow. A hope that DOESN'T DISAPPOINT. Why have I been wasting my time and energy? Seriously? What futile pursuits. A hope that doesn't disappoint. That's a promise. One I'm gonna chase until I can call it mine.
Monday, April 21, 2008
That is my question. I got into an interesting argument about Biblical truth this weekend. I understand that arguments do no one any good, but it was eye-opening for me. Not that my opinion was changed about the issue, but I was bombarded with a completely different worldview than my own. There is actually a group of people, a school of thought-if you will, that chooses to take a different perspective on the world and its current state.
As I was recapping the prior night's events with a friend of the different worldview at church the next day, I was moved to tears as I explained to him the reasons for my passionate opinions on matters of God and Truth and Man. I was pigeon-holed by my friend, and maybe rightfully so, as an idealist. I see things in black and white. I want sin called what it is. That is important to me. Mainly because I think it's important to God. Let me finish before you start preaching grace at me. I think sin is important to God for two of maybe many reasons: 1. It's less than His best. It flies right in the face of the Truth of who He is when we believe the deception that causes us to sin. 2. It separates us from Him. He loves us too much to be complacent about this. Because He's holy and cannot dwell in the same space as sin. Without the cleansing redemption of Christ's blood, we're all wretched anyway.
I want God's best...period. I'm with John Piper in Christian Hedonism. You'll have to google that one. I believe Jesus when He said He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). So I want that life. For myself. For my family and my friends. For everyone in the world. So yes, when people are living in utter deception, whether it be to strongholds of cult belief, addiction, homosexuality, insecurity, fear, I hurt. It gnaws at me like a thorn in my heart.
But it's hard. People don't like to hear that. People from the opposing school of thought are really good at accepting people. I admire this about them. I wish it were more natural to me. They accept almost everything as it is. There's a freedom to that...but I'm not built that way. I have to work for change. I can't help it. I think about improvement...always. Without idealism, there's no drive for positive change. So I know I have it for a reason...but I also know I need to move a little toward the other side. I need to be able to leave things be. I need to let people be who they are, let God be who He is, and remember who I am in light of these things.
I don't want to recite the AA prayer here, but Lord, I do ask that you grant me the wisdom to find this balance.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Erin's aunt had some season tickets she didn't plan to use, so the four of us girls decided we should check out the Sonics before they get sold to another city. We're sitting there on Row 1 right by the Mavs entrance, when Gary Payton walks out and asks to slip by me to sit down right beside my friend Amanda!
It was a star-studded night with Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitske, Mark Cuban, and the whole gang. It was good times. Man, how awesome are my church friends?
I got to sit in floor seats for this stellar concert thanks to my buddy Jason. It was decided on the Thursday before that he still had an open ticket, so I was more than willing to take that off his hands for him! We had so much fun, and we were so honkin' close when they came out onto the center stage!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
That's all there is to it. Tacoma was absolutely honkin' gorgeous today! I woke up and immediately began itching to be outside running and playing. So I called up my girls, and we walked to a nearby beach and threw the frisbee. This reminds me why I want to stay here. The spring and summer totally make the winter worth it. I love Tacoma. It's the prettiest place I've ever lived. And the people aren't too bad either. ;o)
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
I sat in my car along Ruston Way looking out across the Puget Sound. The choppy water seemed to match my mood. I think many influential factors were external, but still. Choppy waters. Then I saw it. The beautiful rainbow gleaming like it was its job. And it was. And only in a quirky little spot like Tacoma does the sun shine bright while rain is pelting your head.
And there's no point except to say, you know you're going through growth when you can clearly separate the inklings of your mind and those of your heart. And you can, after tears and turmoil, whip your heart into gear. That is, after much prayer and whining. Because God is faithful, I think we're all going to make it.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
It's not a new thing for me up here in Washington state to be asked where my accent is from. And those of you that know me know that some of my quirky sayings are just "Lauren-isms" and not exactly cultural. However, I was surprised yesterday when I was recapping a presentation I had just given with my preceptor at the Tacoma Family Medicine clinic and she mentioned a colloquialism that I might want to be aware of. At the end of May, the culmination of my residency will be a beastly presentation over my year-long project at the Western States Residency Conference in Monterrey, CA. So feedback on my presentation skills is valuable to me.
What was it that I said, you ask? I threw in a couple of "might-oughta"'s. I said "might-oughta" in reference to how you should use certain oral diabetic medications. I had no idea this was a regional phrase, but I quickly learned that people don't use such phrases up here. I laughed for about 5 minutes. And now I will reserve my southern phrases/Lauren-isms to nonprofessional settings.
Monday, March 31, 2008
But life is so good right now. So many things are changing for so many people. A friend got engaged. A friend had her first kid. A friend had a rough car accident. A friend got a man. It's been a time of change.
The change for me has been a pleasant one. I'm more content with my life now than ever before. I love where I'm at, what I'm doing, and what my options are for the future. I have an amazing support group of family and friends, and my network of friends locally continues to grow.
My involvement with my church here has deepened, and I'm pumped about ministry there. If I could change one thing, it would be to deepen spiritually. I desperately want godly wisdom, maturity, humility, and love to be more evident in my life. I want a pure heart. I pray for these things. I believe God does, can, and will use me in the meantime as He slowly cultivates these.
With the residency winding down in a few months, there's a new freedom on the horizon. I don't know what that means, but I'm excited. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
It's partially because I'm a slacker and partially due to a lack of worthy material, but I haven't blogged in a bit. Life's kinda flipped since I've been working down in the ER. My shift is 2 to 10:30 p.m., which I actually like. I'm definitely built to function well during this time of day. I even have time to hit the gym in the morning. But it does preclude most of my regular social interaction. It's hard to set aside time in the morning before work to call the family and friends, as well as run all the necessary errands during normal working hours. I will actually be working four 10's on an evening shift like this when I get through with my residency. We'll see how that goes.
All in all, things have been going well here. I've had some great times with friends on the weekends. Drove up to Snoqualmie on a beautiful sunny day where I got to watch the snow melting off the majestic peaks. (Do I sound like a Deep Thought by Jack Handy yet?) Then I came back and threw the frisbee near a local beach here in Tacoma. How many places in the world have that to offer? See snow-covered mountains within an hour's drive and then drive over to a beautiful waterfront in the same area? It just reiterated my number 1 reason for loving Tacoma.
On a more serious note, I'm still reading through Matthew and following the story of Jesus, and I can't help but be impacted by the reality that He was here for the broken. Every time. And it required that the individual realize their brokenness before He could change them. Because the Truth is that we're all broken. The Pharisees didn't know that, though. His hometown didn't know that they were either. As a result, He didn't minister too long or very much in these crowds. But the broken...Wow. The people who recognized Who He was would bring the dirty, the sick, the possessed in droves. And He would effortlessly change lives. It makes me think about a few things:
- Is His ability to change me dependent on my realization of my brokenness without Him? If so, a greater recognition of who I was before Him or who I would be without Him AND (don't forget this part; it's just as important) Who He is/what He can do would revolutionize my heart. It would completely reconstruct my outlook.
- What is my hope for the brokenness I see around me? Do I believe He can change them? Do I pray for them in the hopes that He will?
- How do I respond to brokenness around me? Do I look for opportunities to take Jesus there? or do I try to just minister to people or in places that are clean, easy, and comfortable?
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
This is what is left of one of the girls' dorms at my old alma mater, Union University. What's even more shocking is that my own sister, Daron Webb, was huddled with two other girls in a downstairs bathroom when the tornado blew through campus. I was brought to tears when I saw the footage of the damage on the Today Show online this morning. I was speechless when Daron recounted her experience of covering her head in her hands when she heard the "train" noise coming. She said she felt debris swirling all around her, and she even breathed some in. When it had passed, she looked up to see the sky above her instead of the ceiling, which was the floor of the second story. The wall of the shower behind her looked as though it had been "punched in". The girls had never shut the bathroom door, so they were able to grab a matress that had landed in the living room floor before the next wave hit. When all had passed, the RAs called to them to tell them it was okay to come out and to head to the PAC (or the science building for non-Unionites). She went with the other soccer girls to her coach's house until Dad and Lecia could pick her up.
Today they let people come back on campus in waves to see if they could find their cars. Daron hadn't been able to park close last night because there were no spaces. Surprisingly, her car survived with two busted rearview mirrors and a dented hood. All of her clothes, belongings, EVERYTHING is gone. She's already been asked to make a list for insurance. Her computer, her guitar, her camera, her video camera, all of it gone. All of these things are nominal in value when I think about how grateful I am that she is okay.
There are no words to provide even remote explanation for how no life was lost on this campus except to say that God was at work. Lives were spared for a reason. It makes no sense for the place to look like Ground Zero of a bomb site, for cars to be flipped upside down or thrown atop buildings, for buildings to be leveled, and for everyone to come out without critical injury. I'm so thankful. And I even believe that there will be Kingdom results from this event. Union University, a truly Christ-centered institution is getting national news coverage. Its wise and godly leader, Dr. David S. Dockery, is being shown on tv consistently to speak about the storms and the rebuilding efforts.
Please pray. So much will need to be done. Please give. They've already set up a fund where people can contribute.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I have the coolest friends. I'm serious. There's no way another person could have a higher number of quality individuals that have poured into their life. I have been reminded lately since I was able to catch up with so many of them this weekend.
I talked to Meg (from the FAB Four in Memphis), Buckle (one of the original Super-Christians that I busted my tail to keep up with spiritually my freshman year of college), Donna (sweetest heart, always a blast and full of encouragement, pharmacy school companion), my family (they're all awesome and I continually sing their praises), Alyson (one of my newest but truest friends here in Tac-town), and then I got to spend Saturday night hanging out on "the Ave" in Seattle with Ronnie (my good friend I met here who moved to Seattle and works for NAMB) in the U-dub district.
I'm not done. After church, I had lunch at my favorite Tacoma locale, Famous Dave's (they have sweet cornbread and sweet tea- you can't beat it), with Alyson, Jana, and Jeff. These kids have become constants, and I'm thankful for each of them in my life. We shared good laughs, and Jeff shared a lot of stories from his childhood...hence the laughs.
Then my oldest friend (all the way back to when I beat him in the math contest at UTM) Casey called from Lithuania, and I laughed so hard I thought I was going to run off the road at a comment about how sweet we southerners like our tea. I'm still grinning. A great, mind-bending, philosophical, sociopolitical conversation followed, and overall it was refreshing to have caught up.
We'll round it out with getting to catch up with Mr. Ziegenhorn tonight. Great conversation was shared about evangelism in friendships/relationships/work settings. That was refreshing as well to get to relate to someone about the urgency and concern I feel for the lack of understanding of Truth around me. He lives in LA, so it's not a stretch for him to match that.
All this leads to one conclusion: God is great. He's given pieces of Himself to each of these individuals to shed light on my life. I'm more than blessed, but that's the best word the English language offers me as far as my knowledge will reach.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
One of the new shows on ABC didn't catch my attention UNTIL...
I found out my friend Phillip was on there!
I met Phillip last January at a Super Bowl party for young singles from Brentwood Baptist Church. We immediately had a blast cutting up, and before the night was over I had gotten see some moves from Mr. Jesus-loving, Justin Timberlake-esque young Virginian. He had just moved to Nashville to do music, but he happened to be trained in ballroom dance (and could show out with some hip-hop as well). I even went salsa dancing with him a few times. But you have to go online and watch an episode or two to check out my buddy in action.
Friday, January 04, 2008
post-contemplation, of course. I love any opportunity to assess, evaluate, analyze (can I think of a few more words that mean to think through something?) my life, where I am, where I've been, and where I would like to go. 2007 brought so much change: graduation, new job, new home, new friends.
I don't know if I qualify as a visionary, but I like to cast visions, to set goals, and to get people excited about working towards them. Other than the typical desire to get into shape, start eating better, get more organized, my main resolution was this:
Stop worrying and instead truly pray about weights on my heart, giving them over to God and being open to see Him do things only He could do.
At Aroma last night, the six of us discussed our different resolutions and plans for the new year. We had such a stimulating and heart-pressing discussion about our need as Christians to be different. I'm reading through Matthew in my quiet time in hopes of truly KNOWING Jesus better. I'm just now to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), specifically the Beattitudes followed by the verses in Chapter 5 about being salt and light.
I have felt such a burden lately for myself and other Christians to more visibly live that difference. Not just in hopes of converting people, but for the bigger purpose of better-reflecting God's glory, His character, and the changes He can make in a life submitted to Him.
We pointed out that ministry was not the goal. It's not the focus or the objective. I don't remember who said it, but "Ministry is the wake we leave as we pursue Christ". So if we desire to bring more people to know Him and exhibit more fruit (Gal. 5:22), we need to just up our intensity with which we pursue Him. Refocus. Reprioritize. Put everything we invest in (with our time, money, and thought) through the filter of eternal vs. temporal importance.
So that's my initial challenge in 2008 to you: Live the Difference. Not by "trying harder", but by fixing the eyes of your heart on your Savior, the Lord of all, and seeking the LIFE He died to offer us. (John 10:10, Matt. 6:33)