Thursday, July 31, 2014

Original Intent

If you have spent anytime at all in your life around church, church people, or churchy things you may have heard a term there called "original sin."  It's the term that is used to define the state humankind is in since the first sin was committed by Adam in the garden of Eden.  When Adam sinned, we all sinned.  That two word summary is what is used to describe the mess we are, or at least the cause of the mess we are.

But I've been thinking a lot about something for several years, actually since I started reading the Bible in a serious manner, and my thought to you today is this:  The messes of our lives may be a result of "original sin," but it was never God's original intent for us.

What was God's original intent for us?

I'm glad you asked.

God's original intent for us is to walk with Him in the cool of the day at total peace and contentment.

God's original intent for us is that we would not know what evil is or what evil can do.

God's original intent for us is that we would be His children with all the privileges and perks of being called a child of the King of Kings.

God's original intent for us is that we would never be tainted by sin.  Never in our thoughts, never in our bodies, never in our souls.

God's original intent for us is that we would be free to serve Him wholeheartedly without the love and desires for the things of this world constantly battling for our attention.

God's original intent for us is to love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths.

God's original intent for us is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

God's original intent for us is that we are His kids.

Despite what the "original" sin has done, it has never taken away the simple truth that we are still His kids, made in His image, with His original purpose still in place.

We are His original, made by an original God, for original things.

We were not made for despair or depression or disease or death.

We are made for joy and peace and health and life.

That design or intent never left when "original" sin first took hold of this world.

We were never meant to know the difference between good and evil.  God's loving heart wanted to protect us from ever knowing what evil looked like, tasted like, felt like, smelled like.

God's original intent was for us to live free and serve Him freely without fear or shame.

So this is all well and good you may be thinking, but it doesn't change the fact that we are still living in the results of that "original" sin.  True.  It doesn't.

But.....

Have you ever thought past the fact of the original sin and into the realm of what His original intent was for us?

Think about that.

Think about what in your life would be different if you lived your life knowing what God's original intent was for you rather than suffering under the hopeless knowledge that you are under the curse of original sin.

Doesn't that get your juices flowing?  Doesn't that whisper of hope get a little louder in your heart?  Don't you want to see where your life may go if you marinate in the juices of original intent rather than live your life suffering in the path of original sin?

I'm not going to give you a particular word or verse to look up today, I'm going to make you do the work.  But I will give you a hint of where to start:

Anywhere in the Bible.

Anywhere.

The story of your original intent is weaved throughout its pages.

My favorite places to look though are in the letters the Apostle Paul wrote, especially Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians.  Peter and John wrote some good stuff too, along with the writer of Hebrews.

We were not created for original sin.  We were created with an original intent that was tainted by the first sin.

God's original intent for you was not that you be homosexual or anxious or a chronic liar or an adulterer or murderer or a schemer or a deceiver.  Even though you may be one, some or all of these things because of the original missing of the mark doesn't mean that you are meant to be those things forever!  Not at all!

God's original intent for you is that you love Him and love others with His love.  With the perks and benefits of being His kid following right behind you.  Freedom, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness, the ability to remain faithful to Him.  That is what you are.  That is God's original intent for you.   That is who you were created to be all along.

Now is the time to start living that life, the life of original intent.





Peace,
Ronda



Thursday, July 24, 2014

When Dilaudid and Xanax don't cut it

Back in the days before I became a nurse I was somewhat, no maybe a lot naive.  It wasn't that I didn't know that people had problems and issues and dilemmas and struggles, I just didn't have access to those things up close and personal like becoming a nurse earned myself a front row seat.

Before I became a nurse I thought nursing was nice and sweet (mostly) ladies fluffing pillows and giving pills.  I had had the experience or two of being in the hospital as a patient with having babies, then having a couple minor surgeries, and still, my rose colored glasses perceptions remained.

Then I started nursing school and only then did I realize the extent of not only the stress and responsibility and expectations placed on the medical field, but I also began to see the true suffering of those seeking health care and those giving health care.

Almost over night my expectations of fluffy pillows and tylenol were thrown out the door and stomped on by the reality of people in not only physical pain, but deep emotional and spiritual pain.
My pillow fluffing skills were not going to cut it and there were not enough orders in the world for tylenol and dilaudid and xanax to quiet the spiritual nerve cells screaming in the bodies of my patients.

I didn't get into the profession until my early 40's and so my own personal life experiences have helped (or hindered, I'm not sure) me from seeing a patient in a different way than say a fresh young college nursing grad who has the head knowledge but not the life experience to look at a patient in a bigger picture than just the numbers on their chart and the history of their diseases and surgeries.

It's a conundrum to say the least.  And the continual debate on our health care system in the United States is not really getting to the root of the problem, in my opinion.

We're afraid of dying, we're afraid of pain when dying, we're simply afraid.   Patients are afraid major mistakes will be made at their expense and health care providers are afraid mistakes will be made by them.  Healthcare facilities are afraid of being sued and multimillion dollar lawsuits will have to be paid out.

I'm not telling you anything about this that you don't already know or haven't already thought about, have I?

I guess what's on my mind today is that the answer, in my opinion, to the health care debate and coverage in this country is to stop for a minute and try to see the bigger picture of what is actually going on in the human body.  Not just the cells and organs and tissues that we can see and regulate with drugs and surgeries, but let's look deeper into the whole person.

I don't think it starts or ends with an established healthcare facility either.

I believe it starts and ends with the followers of Jesus Christ, both in the health care field and outside.  We are regular consumers of the health care product too and we have the same fears of dying that the rest of the world does.  If we are going to an MD before even asking God for help and healing then why should anyone else who doesn't know Christ go to Him first?

I have a front row seat now to death.  The people I take care of, for the most part, are in the last place they will be before they die.  They've lived a life that has left them whether by choice or chance, unable to care for themselves, and too much of a burden to be cared for by family.

How did they get to that point?  Where did it start?

Did it start when they had to take blood pressure pills for stress?  Did it start when they found out they were diabetic?  Did it start when they were diagnosed as a schizophrenic or bipolar when they were a teenager?

The pills and wonder drugs and surgical abilities are truly mind boggling when you realize what they have done to prolong and maintain life, but still there is no cure for death.

So I guess I'm typing out loud here today, and wondering with my fingers on the keyboard, is the prolonged life drugs and surgeries and procedures promise really what the whole of a person needs?

It's easy to take a pill.  It's easy to look at numbers on a chart and say, "yes, this drug will help your blood pressure or your liver function or whatever it may be," but what if instead of first seeking an MD you first seek God, the maker of your beautifully designed body?

I'm not saying we don't need these drugs, and please, please don't flush yours down the toilet today, but I am saying, we don't need the drugs more than we need God.  There are illnesses that come just because of having a sin-tainted body, but there are also illnesses that come because the spiritual health in the body is so poor.

God has designed your body to work perfectly in sync with itself.  No part is more important than the next part and the parts that can be measured in labs also are a reflection on the soul and the mind and spirit.

I guess what I'm rambling about is, take a look at your health, your whole health, if you have the courage, not just your physical health but your emotional and spiritual health also.  You are going to end up dying, eventually.  You do realize that, right?  But when you do, let it be because you lived your life well and you came to the end of your days having lived at peace with God and at peace with yourself.

Face your past, acknowledge it, then let go.  Ask yourself, why am I eating more than my body needs?  Why am I smoking?  Why do I find comfort drinking away my thoughts?  What am I afraid of facing that I avoid by filling my body with things it doesn't need to feel alive?

Give God your cells, your blood cells, your nerve cells, your spirit cells first.  Then and only then, seek outside help.  Ask God to direct the course of your healthcare.  Ask God to give you the wisdom you need as you seek which treatments and direction you should take.  Ask God to give you peace in whatever place you end up settling in that you lived your life well.  Ask so you can know deep down in your gut that you trusted Him with your whole heart and health.

You may still need to take your medications, that's ok.  But at least you'll know that God has provided your health care to maintain a life you can live well, no matter what is your diagnosis.

To good whole health!

Peace,
Ronda








Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A refuge for the refugee

Refuge:  shelter or protection from danger or trouble; a place that provides shelter or protection; something to which one has recourse in difficulty

synonyms:  harbor, haven, shelter, retreat, sanctuary

Psalm 5:11-12

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.  For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.


As you probably know, if you've read a few of my posts, I get excited about words and I can get lost for hours connecting dots and thoughts with truths.

I like this verse above and I especially like this word REFUGE.

See, there are perks to being a child of God.  Good perks.  Life on earth perks.  Perks that only children of God get.

Those who take refuge in the LORD, who see Him as their shelter and protection from danger and trouble, who is someONE you have for recourse in difficulty, those people get some pretty cool perks.

They can be glad.  Even in difficulty.

They can sing for joy.  Even in danger.

They have a cover of protection over them so that we who love his name may rejoice in Him.

He blesses the righteous.

He surrounds them with His favor - his rason - to be pleased with, accept, delight, favor, grace, kindness, willfulness.

Those are some pretty good perks for being a child of God.

What do you have to do to receive such wonderful perks?

Take refuge in Him.

Go to Him for shelter and protection when the assaults of this world take hold.  Go to Him.

If you belong to God you are righteous.  If you trust God in the salvation He has bought for you, your perk as His kid is that you get to go to HIM for protection and shelter.

You GET to.

No one else but those who call on His name get to do this.  Not "good" people.  Not those who follow the laws and break none of the big commands.

No, the only ones who get to have the perks of being called a child of God are the ones who call on His Name.

Sure, those who don't call on his name appear to have some perks, some "blessings," but are they glad?  Do they sing for joy?  Do they sleep in peace?  Maybe, I don't know.

But I know I do.

I hope you do too.  I hope you remember, if you are His kid, that you can find refuge in Him for the difficulties you are facing right now.  I really do.

Take refuge in the Lord who loves you like no one else can love you.  Seek His safety and protection from life's storms.  Huddle in, under his arm, nestled on His lap.

For you are surrounded with His favor as with a shield.

Peace,
Ronda






Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When I am old I won't care if I wear purple

 I work among the elderly, the old, the young people in bodies that betray the spirit in them.  It's not how any of them envisioned their life to be when they were strong and agile and quick thinking.  When they could hold a spoon and wipe themselves and swallow quickly, not taking five minutes for a pureed barbecue sandwich to go down a pipe that once was eager to transport the nourishment to the stomach.

Now.  Now they are who they were once afraid of becoming.  Waiting for time to stop for them.  Watching the clock waiting for a son or a daughter or a grandchild to walk through the doors and take them back to a time when they were in charge, when they were strong.

It's not where they thought they'd be, but here they are, anyway.

Waiting.  Wondering.  Remembering.  Forgetting.  Hoping.

Some live in a time of yesterday and when asked how old they are they say, "nineteen," with a cheesy grin, even though they really are one hundred years old.

Don't we all have the nineteen year old living inside us, being betrayed by the body that keeps aging inspite of our belief we will never be old.

Maybe when our new bodies are delivered, when we're in the place of perfection, we will be at the age when we felt the most loved, the most needed, the most strong and agile.  When our minds were sponges and we were taking all of life in before the sufferings and discouragements found their way into our souls.

Maybe.

Writing with Heather.

Peace,
Ronda

Monday, July 21, 2014

An attempt to paraphrase in a poetic form




When Foundations are Revived
(A paraphrase from the first three chapters of the book of Ezra)

"Who wants to build God's church," Cyrus cried
to hearts worn out and and weak and oh so very tired.
"Your God has stirred this heart that rules the kingdoms of the earth
to help you rebuild His place of worship to glorify His worth."

"The God of Heaven has made it so,
just listen to what he's told me and I will help you make things go"

Cyrus called God's people both from far and wide
to give their all for the temple provide.

The survivors who'd run during Babylon's fierce plunder, 
those who scoffed the prophets as they warned
Now came out of exile with gifts
 as their broken hearts were awakened from a deep slumber.

Silver and gold, animals too, timber from Sidon and Tyre arriving from sea
The hidden temple articles, Nebuchadnezzar had carried away
Cyrus brought out and placed for the glorious display

The silver and gold numbered just over five K, the numbers of souls small in size too,
but working through fear of those watching around them,
the foundation was laid and the exiles surrounded.

The masons and carpenters being paid with food, drink, and oil 
lay the foundation of God's temple nearly forgetting the turmoil
that brought this great place to its utter destruction,
With God directing the course of its brand new construction.

Great celebration was heard when the foundation was laid
mixed in was the weeping of those who once knew
the magnificence of the temple of what once had been new

What once had been destroyed by stubborn hearts refusing to repent
but God, God of mercy never relents.
Pursuing those hearts sinking in mires of pride
He restores, he rebuilds, he makes all things new.

As the rejoicing and mourning were heard far away
God began a new thing, on a brand new day
He destroys the things that stand in the way
of the love he has for each of us everyday.

Stones don't love back, neither prestige, glitz and glam
Only God can love with a foundation that's true
And give new life to restore and renew.


Peace,
Ronda


Monday, July 14, 2014

Homecomings


The day starts out early for the sailors and their families.  There has been little or no sleep the night before.  Hearts race with excitement and apprehension.  Wives reach across the bed, smiling softly, knowing that the last night they will sleep alone has just ended.  Children wake up knowing that today is the day daddy comes home.  The sights, the sounds, the excitement of a homecoming are just beginning.

For the sailors coming back from a long deployment, the day is like any other day.  Reporting for quarters and the reading of the plan of the day.  Breakfast is served, the ship gets cleaned, although with a little more sparkle and polish.  The pilot boat carrying the bar pilot, who will guide the ship from the open sea through the channel to the pier, also carries the pre-ordered flowers for the wives and mothers and sweethearts who will be waiting on the pier.  As the harbor pilot steps aboard, home is now a few hours away, not just something to dream of anymore.  The captain comes over the ship's public address system just before sea and anchor detail to commend everyone aboard for a successful deployment and to wish them a happy homecoming.  The sailors change into their whites and take their places around the flight deck.  The American flag blows in the breeze as time stands still but slowly moves forward.







 At home, the wives, parents, sweethearts and children put on their best red, white, and blue attire.  They carry their cameras, their small flags, their signs saying "welcome home Daddy," "welcome home son," "God bless the USA".  A wife of small children does her best to keep her little ones clean while she spends a little extra time on her hair and makeup.  She shakes as she holds her curling iron and puts on her lipstick and she laughs at herself when she realizes she feels like a young teenager getting ready for her first date.  On the living room couch sit the children, doing their best to sit still and stay clean, but so tempted to fight over who gets to hug dad first.  The parents of the sailors say a prayer of thanks to God for bringing their son home safely before getting in the car for the drive to the pier.




On the pier, the celebration and excitement is building.  Balloons are bobbing high above the heads of the welcoming parties.  Hands are brought to eyes to shield them from the sun as man, woman, and child look toward the horizon to see the first glimpse of the ship coming into the channel.  There is nervous chatter, smiles, and children chasing each other around the grown-ups, bored with how long it all is taking.  A grandfather lifts up his granddaughter to his shoulders and says to her, "Do you see your daddy's ship?"  The little girl nods, not really knowing what she is looking for, just knowing that a daddy is something she hasn't seen for awhile and is not real sure what he looks like or sounds like; she was just starting to walk when he left.




Soon the very top of the ship's radar is seen and slowly, ever so slowly, it is brought completely into view.  The strong, bold gray of the ship is highlighted with the white band of sailors along the topside and on the bridge.  Binoculars are brought to the eyes of the ever inpatient, patiently waiting crowd looking for their special someone among a line of so many who look the same from a distance.  Soon the shouts come out, "I see him" and "I see my dad."  The waving and shouting begins both from land and vessel.  Tears of joy stream down the faces of the waiting, while grins a mile wide stretch across the faces of the men so proudly standing at attention on the ship's deck.

It seems another eternity before the ship is anchored and ready to let the reunions begin.  The brow is lowered.  The babies born while dads have been gone are brought over first and introduced to their fathers.  Next come the senior officer's families and then the rest of the crew's loved ones.  It is a mad rush to find each other amongst so many.  The children who fought over the fist hug are now all wrapped around their dad's kneeling form whose arms seem to have stretched far enough to hold them all.  Sweethearts hug and kiss and kiss again.  Moms hold their sons just a little tighter and their sons let them; fathers hug and then shake the hand of their grown son followed by a respectful salute.



All are home, safe and sound.  The reunions and reacquainting with each other begins.  The deployment is officially ended and the homecoming that started with apprehension is now filled with joy and happiness in being together once again.  The families pile into their cars and little Susie yells out, "Dad, Michael hit me."  The mother reaches for her husband's hand and with a coy smile says, "welcome home."


I hope you enjoyed this little vignette.  I found it in some old files on our desktop and saw the date I wrote it was September 10, 2004.  The pictures are from around 1996.  This was a descriptive essay assignment for a creative writing class I took as a pre-req for nursing school.  It seems a lifetime ago now that we were a Navy family, living this life of waiting for the ship to leave, come home and the next move right around the corner.  I don't share this with you for thanks, I just share it with you to remember to thank not only our nation's service members but also their families, their spouses, children and extended family.  We all sacrifice when a loved one is in the military.  Thank the sailors and soldiers you know and tell them to "thank your family for me too." I will forever be thankful to families who were before me and those who have followed.  

Peace,
Ronda


Friday, July 11, 2014

My two cents worth on why there is suffering

Why?

The eternal question.  The question most asked in all of time.

We start asking it when we're small and some leave this world with this one syllable word still on their lips.

Why?

Why is there suffering?  Why is there pain?  Why is there evil?  Why?  Why?  Why?

The simple answer, the answer that comes from the Holy Bible, is this:

Sin.  Missing the mark sin.  Never quite good enough sin.

Sin in the world.  Sin in our hearts.  Sin in our bodies.  Sin in our souls.

That's the simple cut and dried answer.

But it's the hardest answer to come to grips with, isn't it?  Because if I accept that as the answer, than I have to accept that the world is flawed, I am flawed, my heart is flawed, my body is flawed, my soul is flawed.

And if I am flawed, than the rest of the world and their bodies and hearts and souls are flawed too.

If I accept that there is sin and sin has tainted everything and everyone than I have to accept that there is no remedy to be found from sin-filled people and sin-filled environments that can fix or answer the reasons to the eternal question of why and the consequences of living in a sin-filled world.

And if I accept that there is no remedy in and through sin-filled selves, then I have to wonder, what is the remedy?  Who can fix the problem?  Who can answer why?

And if I am looking for someone outside of my sin-filled self and the other sin-filled souls around me and see no other who can fix this problem with my seeking, searching eyes than where is the next place to look?

Without the one book that has survived thousands of years, through countless attacks on its pages and truths and author, where else is there to go?

Seriously, where else can you find the answer to your whys?

Does Buddha give you the reasons for dementia, for infant death, for tragedy, for natural disaster?  Do the Hindu gods give you the peace that passes all understanding in the face of bankruptcy and ruin and relationships that fail?  Does Kabbalah give you anyone but your sin-filled self to turn to to make sense of your pain-filled, empty life?

Bad things happen to sin-filled people.  Not just "good" people, not just "bad" people.  Bad things happen to people tainted with sin because sin is in this world.

A perfect world, with perfect people, with no disease, no suffering, no tragedy is not going to exist in the world in which we all live and move and have our being.  It can't.  It won't.  Ever.  Ever.  Never.

But a perfect world is waiting.  A perfect world is being prepared for those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.  Who sacrificed not only His physical life for the whole entire world from beginning to end, but He lived the perfect life none of us will ever be able to live on our own.  Ever.

Why is there suffering?

My best guess after the simple answer of sin is this:

Because life without Christ for eternity is so much worse than anything we will ever have to face here on earth.  As bad as life can be and is here, what is waiting for those who reject is eternal suffering.  Eternal pain. Eternal despair.  It will NEVER end.  There will never again be the hope that tomorrow things will be better.

Never.

Life on earth, it will end.  There will be reward waiting for those who believe.  For those who have fought the good fight.  For those who have received Christ as their Savior.  The suffering will end.  The perfect life will be theirs.

So my question to you who reject Christ and blame a God you reject for the tragedies that have befallen in your life and the world is this:

Are you sure?  Are you sure this is the stand you want to take?

Are you sure you are better off without an invisible God who, in one book and one book only tells the truth about you and the truth about Him?

Are you sure?

Are you willing to take the risk that you are better off facing this sin-filled place and inevitable death alone than dipping your toe, just the tip of your toenail, in the waters of His free forgiveness and mercy and peace?

Either His story is a complete and utter lie or.... it's true.  Every word, true.

What if it's true?

God's love for you is so strong and never-ending and never-failing and perfect for you that to let you suffer here on earth a little while is so much better than having to let you go and suffer for eternity when you reject Him.  It breaks His heart to let you go, but He will let you go if that's what you really want.

That's why.

He has made the way for sin-filled people living in a sin-filled world to live freely, with joy, in the face of suffering.

His love for people is why, in my opinion, this tragic world keeps turning.  For those who believe, eternal peace is waiting.  For those who reject, eternal suffering.

He does not want you to suffer for eternity.

He allows you to suffer now so that you will not suffer in eternity.

He's made the way for you.

What if it's true?



I love you, Friends, but God, who holds the answers to why, loves you so much more.



Peace,
Ronda

1 John 1:8-10 -  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.