Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"This nation needs you. Know the facts. Stand for what's right. Don't be discouraged by the mocking of those who want to claim we just cling to our religion. I'm the first to admit-- yeah, I do cling to my faith. That's all I've got."

-Sarah Palin, in Louisville Courier-Journal, qtd. in The Quotable Rogue, edited by Matt Lewis

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Palin, Politics, and a Unique Summer Read

Sarah Palin.

What comes to mind when you see that name?

Former governor. Vice prez candidate. Author. Mom. Alaskan. Tina Fey?

Intriguing, this Sarah.

But sadly, most of the words we hear or see about her come from a media that loves to create drama and to bend the truth (is that harsh?).

Enter The Quotable Rogue: The Ideals of Sarah Palin in Her Own Words, edited by Matt Lewis. A book of quotes from the woman herself. Instead of hearing what others say about her, let's read her own words, her own opinions, her own values.

The Overall: 180+ pages of quotations from various sources. Divided by topic--such as abortion, economics, national security, family, faith--making it interesting and easy to follow. I found myself reading chapters at a time, like a fiction book.

Favorite Quotes: "I am a normal American. And when it comes to my pro-life views, there are more Americans today saying that they understand the sanctity of life and that they are pro-life than they are pro-abortion for the first time in decades."

"My dad always says, 'don't retreat, just reload.' Don't let anybody tell you to sit down and shut up."

"We hear of a judge's ruling that our National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. I think we'll be challenging that one. God truly has shed his grace on thee--on this country. He's blessed us, and we better not blow it."

The Nitty-Gritty: I really don't have anything negative to say about the book. I guess if you're not a fan of quotes, you may not enjoy it!

What Sticks Out: Sarah is brave, candid, and conservative. I admire her energy and desire to reform and transform. I loved reading her actual words instead of the media's opinion of Sarah. There were a few things I may disagree with her on, but she had my vote before and she likely would in the future (depending on her opponent, of course). Small government, pro-life, energy independence-- I like the way this girl thinks!

[I received this book for free from Booksneeze for this review. These are my original and honest comments about the book.]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wounded Souls

As I mixed up his IV medications, I overheard my patient talking with the other nurse. Gruff, negative, tough-guy-attitude. Complaining about his job—“hating every minute,” he said calmly. This comment—in an economy where there are those who would love to have a job they hate…just to have a job.

And when I searched for a vein to use for the IV, he joked about how he’d wanted to punch the last nurse that started an IV in his hand. Lucky me.

I was mildly annoyed with his dramatic, pessimistic attitude.

And in a brief moment, with rolling eyes…

I judged him.

Such a simple action. A moment in the mind. We evaluate and we label and we measure. By whose standards?

I had him all figured out from a few interactions. This complex child of God.

Later before his stress test, I reviewed his chart for a medical history.

And saw words like Divorce. Depression. Evaluating for suicide.

My heart plummeted. How could I have been so wrong?

This wounded soul. I was focusing on caring for his heart physically, but these were matters of the heart that a cardiologist couldn’t heal. Was he aching for love? Wondering his worth? And what had I done to help?

I, who am so quick to judge and slow to learn.

Sorrowed and softened by this newfound knowledge, I spoke more kindly. I treated more tenderly. I tried to love as Jesus would love.

Yet the lesson remains.

When I’m in a hurry, when I’m frustrated or annoyed, when I’m preoccupied with my own worries or pains…what wounded souls am I overlooking?

When I impulsively judge a person by their looks, their words, their actions…what wounded souls am I passing by like a Pharisee?

Holy Spirit, thank you for never giving up on me. Help me to see beyond the exterior. To obey your command not to judge (Matthew 7:1-5). Transform my eyes and my mind and my heart—to see and think and love as you would have me do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Perhaps the opposite of faith is not doubt. Perhaps the opposite of faith is fear. To lack faith perhaps isn't as much an intellectual disbelief in the existence of God as fear and distrust that there is a good God."

-One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Daddy's Hands

My hand slipped into the larger, work-worn hand offered beside me as we bowed in prayer before a family meal. It was comforting, strong, secure.

My dad’s hand.

Earlier that same day after a crazy-fun wakeboarding trip, he held his hand out to me as I stepped off the rocking boat onto the dock. Safety. Protection. Caring.

Worn yet strong from years of labor, these hands. Fixing cars, restoring old ones (and driving them!), the maintenance of a home inside and out. (…and the home of a daughter who knows next-to-nothing about fixing things!)

These hands. Throwing the ball for our little Micah-dog; gripping the rope handle while wakeboarding behind the boat (this oh-so-cool, 50-something dad); mowing my yard to surprise me; texting me to wish me a good day; handing me the local newspaper you saved just because you know I like it; your fingers tiptoeing across my hair from behind to get a reaction from this spider-fearing girl.

These hands that taught me how to drive stick shift, how to drive a boat and a motorcycle (you brave passenger!), how to swing a bat and wash a car and check my oil and make straw-colate shakes and work hard and hold-on-for-dear-life on a roller coaster.

The hands that set up the camper for family vacations as well as drew routes on the atlas for my own road trips. That turn up the radio when a meaningful Christian music song comes on (or a Christian rock one!). That shoot hoops with college-age kids and still give them a run for their money.

These same hands that fold in prayer, slide along a rosary, hold mom’s hand, hug your kids, and make your grandson giggle.

How beautiful.

These strong yet tender, protective, capable hands remind me of someone else’s….

The mighty and loving Hands of God.

Thank you for being a reflection of my Heavenly Father.

And thank you for being an amazing earthly dad.

Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him."

-Pope Benedict XVI

Thursday, June 9, 2011

This Jesus

A year and a half ago I opened my worn Bible to the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. Tonight I finished the last chapter of the Gospel of John.

My motive that fall in turning to the Gospels was one of hope with a touch of desperation—or maybe the other way around. In a lake of confusion and intense pain, I reached for a Jesus I could trust to pull me out of the waters and help me walk once again.

And in the pages of the four Gospels, I found him. This Jesus.

This Jesus who healed the ones who felt small. The ones who were blind, lame, bleeding, and sinful.

This Jesus who taught with such a passion and earnestness. With a desire for His listeners to learn and grow and live an abundant life (John 10:10). He didn’t shy from truth—He was truth. His words were not always easy to take or to live. He asked us to take up a cross, but He would be there to lead.

This Jesus who became friends with mere humans. Who loved them, ate with them, laughed with them, wept for them. Even though He was God and so infinitely above us in every way.

He was so real and so close.

When I struggled with the intangible, I found comfort that this was who God was. He came to earth as a human so we could see Him, hear Him, maybe reach for the hem of His garment…or be embraced by His loving arms. He understood our limits as humans but treated us with patience and compassion.

I was drawn to Him. How could anyone not be? This amazing Son of God with His strength, courage, mercy, wisdom. His attention and care for His people on earth as He lived among them stirred me. His life. His death. And His rising. All so very powerful. And true. Something certain and solid to hold onto.


This Jesus. My Jesus.

Our Jesus.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit."

-Erasmus, qtd. in One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Life is Beautiful...

-on a sunny Sunday, lounging on the deck with my family.

-digging in the damp, rich earth, pulling weeds and planting tomato plants grown from seeds by a friend.

-sipping Dragon Pearl Jasmine iced tea with my roomie at our favorite coffee shop.

-making homemade strawberry jam for the first time...and then sampling it!

-wakeboarding behind the boat for the first time this season and conquering my utter terror hesitation.

-when my Micah runs to greet me with his expressive chocolate eyes and forever-wagging tail.

-being inspired by our new African priest, Father C., so vibrant with joy and love and passion for our Lord and His Church.

-being suprised by half a dozen deer meandering in the field behind our duplex, so calm and so graceful.

-trying out my oh-so-cool (or maybe not-so-much) dance moves on my brother's Xbox Kinect. (did I spell that right, gamers?)

-with breathtaking summer sunsets painted by a gracious God.

-rejoicing in the Easter season, celebrating the Ascension of our Lord, and looking ahead to the Feast of Pentecost next week.

-knowing the Holy Spirit still descends upon us, reaching deep into our hearts, our minds, our souls...convicting, stirring, embracing, and filling us with such grace and joy if we let Him in.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blind Faith

On my knees, face in my hands, eyes closed, I searched for Him. But I couldn’t see Him. I closed my eyes tighter, yet still struggled to connect with Him as I prayed.

There are moments when I feel so very blind. It’s not clear where I’m going. I can hardly see the next step...

And I’m afraid to walk when I can’t see.

But isn’t that what faith is all about?

In these times, I’m encouraged and comforted by the stories of blind men that Jesus healed in the Bible...

As Jesus and his disciples were going into Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch the man.

The beauty of friends who lead us to Jesus when we don’t have the strength or the sight. Their faith and prayers as they beg Jesus to touch our hearts and minds and bodies with healing.

Jesus took him by the hand and led him out of the village…

And this Jesus—who takes us by the hand so gently, so lovingly. Leading us out of the crowd, the noise, the confusion.

He placed his hands on the blind man and asked him if he could see anything. The man looked up and said, ‘I see people, but they look like trees walking around.’

Even when His hand is upon us, we don’t always get the results that we would like. Sometimes the healing doesn’t happen in a single moment. Sometimes life still seems fuzzy. I wonder if the blind man was afraid, if he lost faith in Jesus because it didn’t happen right way. Or did he continue believing even when so much was still hidden from his sight?

Once again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes, and this time the man stared. His eyes were healed, and he saw everything clearly.

His eyes were healed and his sight was restored…and maybe the eyes of his heart were opened, too. Did he see clearly from the inside as well? Was he staring with awe and joy at his surroundings, the beauty of God’s creation he’d missed out on before? Or was he staring at his Savior before him, with gratitude for a deeper healing as well as the physical one?

Beautiful miracle. By our Jesus who still performs miracles today. Not always in our timing, and not always in the way we think it should happen. Yet with faith, we can trust in Him instead of the outcome.

So I do ask: Lord, help me to see.

But perhaps more importantly, Lord, help me to believe.

(Scripture from Mark 8:22-25)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

“Just as you believe in seas you’ve never sailed, so believe in a love you’ve never felt from the God you’ve never seen.”

-A Daily Devotional Calendar, from the writings of Dr. Robert Schuller

When I flipped the page on my devotional calendar and read this quote, my first thought was that it sounded somewhat sad—as if we never feel love. Then as I let it sink in, I realized it’s talking more about His unfathomable love. Even the times we feel so completely full of His love…He loves us even more. And since it’s a limitless love we can’t begin to understand, we believe it in faith. How beautiful and comforting!