Thursday, July 14, 2016

Just an Ugh memory

My first job as a nurse I worked with another nurse who I could only strive to be like professionally. Her goals were big, her knowledge was packed tight and utilized on a split second moment by moment basis when critical thinking skills were in need of making assessments.

Her eye saw things on a patient that went above and beyond our basic assessment skills we were taught in nursing school.  Her documentation was written with medical verbage I still struggle to know to this day.

She was born to be a nurse.  Standing next to her, I was the one posing as a nurse.

One night she walked into our employee room/break room and said that her patient wanted another nurse.  The other nurse in the room started to stand and as she did, my heroine said, "No, Ronda,should go."

I got up the  and went into the patient's room.  A white woman, not much older than me, looking like she had been "rode hard and hung up wet" lay in her bed.  When she saw me come in she said,"It's not that I don't think she's a nice person, bit I don't want a black nurse."

When I assured her that her nurse was the better nurse and the one she really needed, she was adament, and wouldn't change her mind.

In that moment I was at a crossroads.  My heroine or the patient?

The patient was clealry in the wrong.  I had no doubt she was wrong and bitter and fearful of someone a different color than her for God only knows what reasons.

There were no other white nurses on the floor that night that I recall.

As a nurse, my duty was to the patient first.

My heart was for my heroine though.

I could hardly look her in the eye when I walked back into the break room.  The sadness I felt,and the hurt I saw in her eyes made me want to walk away from the floor that night.  For good.

My job is to take care of the people in their illnesses.  Even when their greatest illness may be bigotry.

I only took care of the patient for the remaining hours of that shift.  I heard a few weeks later she had died.

Are my actions or lack of action what added fuel to the flame that has sparked the movement of hate and anger right now?

I pray not.

Our choices aren't always easy choices.  Or our best choices.  Sometimes not even near a good choice.  The consequences of what I did versus what might have happened if I handled it differently taunt me.  Especially today.

If I could do it again I hope I would handle it differently.  My inexperience may only be my excuse, along with my excuse that a nurse takes care of her patient no matter the illness.

Would my stand for my heroine that night have results that could have helped not only the patient but the rest of us caught in this trap of doing the "right" thing but not sure what the right thing is to do.

I won't ever know.  I just know I hope my heroine knows...I wish I had the chance to do it again.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

If I Could Have the Moments Over I Would Ask More Questions

I had the blessing and privilege to grow up living next door to my paternal grandparents.  There was hardly a day that I did not see them at least once, but several times a day until I graduated high school and moved away to follow a Navy guy around the country.

If I could wish that experience on every person I would.  If I could give that experience to my grandchildren today, I would.  As much as I would like to, it is not in the plan God has for us at this time.

I was treated like royalty every time I opened the noisy screen door of my grandparent's front porch and walked into the kitchen.  Everything stopped when I walked in, and no matter what Grandma was doing, her kind voice would greet me, "Well, there she is," she would say, "I was wondering if I would see you today."

Then she would tell me what there was to eat - cold macaroni in the fridge, cookies on the counter, cheese and crackers.  It was an unspoken rule that I could help myself, but always with the reminder, "Don't fill up here or you won't want to eat supper" (or lunch, depending on the day).

Of course I did fill up, and of course many times I was too full to eat the supper or lunch my mother had fixed.  When I'd get my snack, and depending on the time of day, Grandma and I would watch The Price is Right or "the stories" or play cards, Yahtzee, or Trouble.

There were days though that she wasn't home and when I walked into the house, it would be empty, quiet, her absence palpable.  If I found my Grandpa out in the garage, I'd ask, "Where's grandma?"  I think the word "ugh" became part of my vocabulary in these moments when he would say, "It's election day, she's working at the town hall."


I hated election day.  It wasn't like the day when she was gone into town to get a perm or groceries and then back in the afternoon.  Election day was the WHOLE day.  And the WHOLE night.  She would work till midnight, counting votes, and doing all the tasks that Voting volunteers do.

If I rode my bike to where she was and enter into the town hall, echoes of whispers falling on my ears, I would see her, sitting at a long table in the front, doing who knows what.  If she saw me, she'd put a finger to her lips to shush me as I walked up to her.

"I'm working here, Ronda.  You can't be up here,"  she'd say distractedly.  "I'll see you tomorrow," as she pointed with her eyes to the door.

I'd walk back the way I came in, shoulders down, muttering to myself, "I hate election day."

The next morning I can remember always walking in her kitchen bright and early.  Eager to see her. We had time to make up for, games to play, cookie batter to sneak from the bowl.

And there Grandma would be, sitting in her recliner, eyes closed.

"I'm really tired today," she'd say, "I didn't get home till nearly 1 o'clock this morning.  We had a a good turnout, lots of ballots to count."

Grandpa would usually say then, "Leave Grandma alone.  She's tired."

I'd go into the kitchen, scrounge around, pouting the whole time as I looked for something to eat.

"I hate election day," muttering under my breath and then taking my goodies into the living room where I'd sit down till they were eaten.

I'd look up every few bites to see Grandma still hadn't moved in the recliner, so finally I would just take my dishes into the kitchen and go home.

"I hate election day," I would said as I got on my bike and rode around the block.

Whatever compelled her to volunteer her time, along with the other ladies of our community, I will never know.  By the time I appreciated what they had done, it was too late to ask why they did it.  Maybe there were no volunteers and they got roped into it.  Maybe they enjoyed the company and the time to catch up on the Villages gossip, but it seemed to me when I went into the Hall, there wasn't a lot of talking going on, but serious business.  I mean, Grandma could barely talk.  To me.  Her granddaughter.  Her royal granddaughter!

I can only guess now the reasons why she volunteered for years in that cold Town Hall with only a small wood stove for heat on those cold Wisconsin Tuesdays in November.

She was the second generation born of German immigrants.  She knew nothing other than her American upbringing, yet her grandparents, as far as I know, left everything for a new life.  They said their final good-byes to family I doubt they ever saw again.


It's too late to ask them, but I think I know part of the reason.  At least I saw part of the reason on  those election days of my childhood.

So that their future grandchildren could someday live in a place where they could work in a free country and vote without fear of losing their livelihood, their home, or their lives.

I don't hate election days anymore.  I hate the process to election days, certainly, especially the upcoming Presidential election.  I rejoice that we still have the opportunity and the freedom to vote in our country.  To make a difference.  To live out the legacy our ancestors sacrificed for us.

My vote matters.  Yours does too.  Don't throw it away.



Friday, July 8, 2016

I wish you knew how safe God really is

He gets such a bad rap.  Religion has shamed him and made him out to be a grumpy, stiff-necked curmudgeon who cares nothing for grace and shakes a finger at all our foibles and mistakes and sin with no offer of true freedom from the burden.

Then feel good religion makes matters even worse when it sits around the campfire singing God is love and let's just sing kumbya while we're at it hoping to repair the damage religion has done without cleaning out the heart that Jesus is waiting to abide completely and fully.

I wish you knew how safe he is to say to him,

"I have really messed up, God.  I have not just sinned, I've lied.  I've cheated.  I've murdered.  I've hated.  I've been prideful, arrogant, and so afraid to admit the truth about who I really am."

He can handle that confession.  It won't surprise him.

And best of all, when you agree with God about what he already knows is true about you then you may hear him say things like this:

I know you did those things.  But I love you anyway.  Now, come and sit on my lap and let's clean out every little corner of your heart that doesn't have me in it and we'll set up my chair right inside you.  When I'm inside you, I make sure those things that trapped you in the past have no more room for you there.

I'll keep a close eye on your heart.  I'll let you know when you're close to crossing those lines you used to cross that separated you from me.  I'll give you an escape route when you're tempted to cross over into those deserts with no oasis in sight.

I'll give you what you need to continually make choices that are on my freedom trail.  I'll put everything you need inside you to face the consequences of choices you can't change and consequences I won't allow myself to stop.  I'm a good father and as much as I hate to see you suffer, I love you enough to let you taste the discomfort of my discipline so that you never want to suffer from those consequences again.

I'll help you walk away from the things you thought you could never leave, the things you thought loved you more than I did.

I'll cheer you on when you put one foot in front of the other, and I'll come back and get you when you fall behind a few steps.  I'll carry you when you need carrying, I'll walk ahead and behind you.  You may lose sight of me, but I'll never lose sight of you.

I am for you, not against you.

I have better things planned for you then any of the lies you believed about yourself would ever tell.

You are my child, my royal prince or princess.  You are a part of my kingdom and though earthly life is bittersweet for now, in my invisible kingdom, the fruits are delicious and plentiful.

Only one thing is ever required of you.  Just believe.

Believe that you are my child.

Believe that as my child I don't want you to suffer from bad choices or sin.

I will let you suffer, because a good Dad is not afraid to discipline the child he loves, but it is not my first choice for you.  If I could teach you some other way in this sin laden world, without compromising who I am, believe me, I would.

But I love you enough to not force you to love me.

My first choice for you always is to trust me.

Just trust me.

See, when you trust me, the temptations and bad choices won't have the same power.  Oh sure, they will try to woo you and make you go down a road that is rocky, but it is never my first choice for you.  Never.  Ever.

Trust me.

Trust me with your secrets.  Trust me with your confession.  Trust me with your freedom.

Just try me, let me prove myself to you.  Let me prove my trustworthiness is true.  Don't listen to what religion has said about me.  Don't trust what the Kumbya singers say either.

Trust me.

Check me.  Confirm my actions with my words and my words by my actions.

I know it's uncomfortable facing the truth.  But you don't know the whole truth about yourself like I do.

You are not your sins or your mistakes or your bad choices.

You are my child.  Holy and dearly loved.

Trust me.  I'm safe.

Just trust me.

Those are the kind of things I've learned about him.  I hope you take the chance and find out for yourself.



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

When what I need isn't what I want or expect from a "good" God

The words to a well loved hymn echoed in my ears, "All I have needed thy hands have provided, Great is they faithfulness...." as I worshiped and praised the Lord amongst other believers.

As the words were being sung an image came into my mind.  Like the picture of this chandelier.  Only inside the white, round top were pictures.  And it was Big!  Really big!  At first I thought they were pictures of the good things I needed that the Lord had provided - you know, things like food, shelter, clothing, laughter, joy, celebration - but as I looked more closely and the words echoed more loudly, I saw that it wasn't the good and easy things in the frame of the chandelier, but the hard things, the hard times that were slowly spinning in front of my mind.  And there were a lot of pictures!

I saw myself crying as I pulled away from a home, car packed with kids and toys and trinkets we couldn't do without until the moving truck pulled into our next home.

I saw my childhood fears.

I saw my regrets.

I saw consequences of my sins.  The big ones and the little ones.

I saw loss of loved ones.

I saw hard things and only hard things.  There wasn't a good thing rolling by on the screen.

But the words kept echoing in the verses and the chorus,

"All I have needed, thy hands hath provided"......

I wish I could have missed the hard things.  I wish I could have skipped over the hard things and went right to the good things, while still learning the things I learned from the hard things without going through the hard things.

The things about God that I could have only learned from the hard things and never from a full belly, or a stuffed closet, or a warm house.

But I wonder, no, I know.....

Without the hard things there would have been no reason for me to search for the reasons behind them.  I certainly would have never looked so hard for answers in the pages of the Words He's left us if I only had the easy things to point to for the reason for my faith.

No, I needed the hard things.  As much as I wish I could say my good God only provides good things through good, I have to tell the truth, He provides all I have needed through good things and really, really good things disguised as hard things.

As I looked at the spinning chandelier and saw the pictures of the things I wish I could forget, I saw that it was being held by two hands.  And the hands were connected to arms and the arms were connected to a body and the body had a head and the head had the most loving and kind look on its face.

It was Jesus.

Holding my life, the hard parts, in his hands.

Showing me that those hard things of my past and present are/were the things I needed to prepare me for today and tomorrow and the next day and however many more days are left on my life.

All I have needed, His hands have provided.

Without the hard things there would be no need for the comfort of the Words.  Without the Words there would be no way to see our need for faith in a Big God.  Without a need for faith in a Big God there is no need to see the words that get us through and over and under and beyond the hard things.

We can never see a Big God without the Words.  The hard things are like the light God uses on the pages of our lives, lighting up the Words that tell of our Big God.

I needed the hard things so I could see the words...

I needed the words so I could see I could see a Big God.

If God only provides the good things we need, the things that keep us from throwing a tantrum, we may never see the things that come through the hard things he provides.  Things like - peace, hope, forgiveness, mercy, rest.

If our lives are just made up of good moments, good times, good relationships, what reason is there to ever trust in a good God?

It's when our lives are made up of hard things - pain, suffering, fear, anxiety, painful consequences of sin - that we cry out to a big God to pull us out of the pits of our sufferings.  Hard things - those things we wish could go in the do-over-box, or the if-I-could-do-it-again-I-would-never-do-it-again boxes - they are things God uses to show us God is what we need.

We need the hard things to see God is what we need, not the good sugar daddy things he can provide with the snap of his fingers.

Hard things lead us to Words that lead to healing, renewal, strength, restoration - all given and done and lavished on us by the power of a big and awesome God.

Hard things led me to the Words of a Big God.

Words like


Can you thank Him for the hard things?

I'm learning to.  I admit, it's not easy.  It's hard to thank Him for the hard things, when you're living in the middle of the hard thing, looking back at a hard thing or facing a hard thing.  But if it were all good would you thank Him then?

I don't.  I forget to thank him for the good.  He hears the most from me when it's hard.  Maybe that's why the hard things get to enter - he knows how prone I am to wander when life is good and how distant I become when things are good.

Maybe he just likes to hear from his kid, this kid, his kids, you, more.  Maybe he wants to hear from you more and the only way that works to get through our stubborn hearts is by smacking us on the had with the hard thing board.

I don't know.  Maybe it's just me that he has to get my attention this way.

Does it make him less "good" when I'm stubborn and can only learn through hard things?  Some think so.  I don't.  More and more, I see him gooder and better and better than I ever did before.  (Yes, I know gooder isn't a word).

Hard things led me to His words.  His words led me to see how big and good a God he really is.

Maybe I'm the only one who needs to be reminded of this today.



Job 38-42

Ok, I won't leave you hanging, here are the English words of the Hebrew and Greek words above:

to know, understand
to be gracious
unfailing love
to guard, protect
to carry, lift up, forgive
to release, forgive, pardon
to have mercy on
to forgive, pardon, remit, cancel
to redeem, deliver
many, much, abundant
to know, understand, recognize
to examine

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Willing hearts

After Jacob's descendants were rescued from slavery in Egypt the next phase of God's plan for the Promised Savior began.

It didn't happen the way you or I would probably do it if we were in charge of making a way for salvation for the whole world.  God, from human eyes, seemed to take a BIG detour in bringing the promised Messiah to the world.

There seem to be so many details, unnecessary if I were in charge, but hey, I hate details that get in the way of my vision.

For example:

God thought it would be a good idea in taking thousands of people through a desert, oh, and while you're walking around, let's make a big tent.  He had the former slaves plunder their slave owners and they took from the slave owners fabrics, jewels, stones, gold, silver, any and everything they could carry, God made it so the slave owners handed over their treasures to the slaves!

See, that's just nuts!  If I were God and rescuing my people from slavery, I certainly wouldn't take the time to gather up souvenirs.  I'd be getting my tail and the tails of my precious children out of there, and right quick as they say in the south!

But, He's got his own way of freedom fighting.

So, the former slaves plunder their owners and start their journey in a desert.  Thousands, tens of thousands of men, women, children, babies, and animals walking in the desert.

I can't help think about the faces of the refugees we've seen splashed on tv through my lifetime.  The Cambodians drifting in boats in a big ocean.  Cuban refugees that were housed on a military base near my home when I was a teenager.  The Syrian refugees of the present day.  Shell shocked and numb looks on their faces, I can't help but imagine that's how these Hebrew slaves looked too.

Did they have even the strength to carry the weight of some of the treasure?  I don't know.  I wasn't there, I can only imagine what the scene looked like.

I wonder if they thought to themselves, What in the world are we supposed to do with this ornate goblet?  They did have difficulty finding water from time to time, a lot of good a drinking glass does a person when there is nothing to drink!

So these thousands of people wander, carrying these beautiful Egyptian treasures, shell shocked and weary, the weight of four hundred years of slavery bearing down on their bent over frames and worn out fingers.

But God had a detail that was going to be created from the very things those weak kneed Hebrews were carrying in their hands.

He was going to build them a tent.  Not just any tent.  A tent that was similar to the tents the Hebrews had seen the Egyptians use to worship their gods.  Only this tent would be used to worship THE God.  Yahweh.

God:  Moses
Moses:  Yes, God
God:  Here's the checklist for my dwelling place - gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn, fine line, goat hair, ram skins dyed red

(where on earth am I going to red dye? Moses may have thought as he is writing out the list).

Sea cow hides, acacia wood, olive oil, spices and onyx stones.

Moses:  Check.  Check.  Check.

God:  Now, I need people to do the work.

So who does God recruit?  No one.

He tells Moses, 
"Everyone who is willing is to bring the supplies....all who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded."

So no one had to get a loan from the bank to supply the supplies.  The math genius' didn't have to help the perfumers.  The carpenters didn't have to help the seamstresses.

"All the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair....all the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do..."

See, God provided the supplies.  But having the supplies wasn't enough.  Your heart had to be willing.  And having a willing heart wasn't enough.  You had to have the supplies.

It's funny how God works like that, isn't it?

"Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiah and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work."

Having the right supplies is only half the list needed to do the work God requires.  The other half is to be willing.

If you're not willing, don't waste your time or God's time.

The interesting thing about the Hebrew word for willing is that the people God was using and giving the will to do the work were former slaves.  For their whole lives they were slaves.  Their parents were slaves, their grandparents were slaves.  They knew no one who wasn't a slave.  For generations.

What skill could a slave have?  What unique gift could a brick maker have in using gold or purple yarn?  What trade school did they go to for their post slave career?  The easy answer is:

  The work they did as slaves was the training ground for the work they would do for their Rescuer.

All that was necessary was to be willing.  To lift their eyes from the shame of their slave past and set them on their Freedom Fighter.  He would give the skill.  He would give the will.

The Hebrew transliteration says it like this:

"And called Moses unto Bezalel and unto Oholiab and every man wise hearted in whose had put the LORD wisdom heart.  Every whose stirred him up to come unto the work to perform."

God stirred up the heart.  He nesah them.  He lifted them, carried them, he made them who they were always created to be, for the use of God's glory.

He made them willing, he gave them the supplies by making the Egyptian slave owners provide them.  They only had to look up and be lifted up....oh, and to hold out their hands to receive the supplies.

So are you willing?  Are you willing to be made willing?  Are you willing to be made willing to be made willing?

It really takes the pressure off to know God provides it all, doesn't it?  No more feeling guilty for not doing more or giving more or serving more.  If you're not willing, it may be because God has not made you willing.

It's something you and Him will have to talk about and figure out.

Don't volunteer for one more thing until you have your talk with him.  You may be getting a lot of pressure from well meaning and desperate folks, but if you are hesitating, it may be God who is pressing his thumb on you to hold you back.

The only willingness needed is the willingness He gives.  The only willingness He gives, is the one he can use.  Don't make yourself something you're not just because it looks like the situation has need of you or your talent.  You may not be willing because God has not made you willing.  (Just double check with Him to make sure your stubbornness is not in the way of His willing you to be willing).  If you have the skill and the Lord has made you willing, than He will make a way for you to get the task completed.

"...every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work...."

He'll provide the tools, the means, the supplies.

Let him, Church.  Let Him.