Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Throughout this Holiday season, I have thought of little things that I am so thankful for...

Special Liberty at work as I got to sleep through Santa's visits and have lots of energy on Christmas day

24 hour Christmas music on the radio

Skype... I got to open presents with my family via this beautiful invention

Dogs... I got to watch my friends dog and it reminded me of how happy dogs can make a person after a long night of work.

Christmas Spirit... b/c how can anyone be unhappy on Christmas Eve at work when we read "Twas the Night before Christmas"?

Airplanes... they take me home to my family

Roommates... they make an apartment home.

Candles... they rouse memories and nostalgic feelings

Midnight Christmas Eve services... so much thought, effort, resources go into this service and Jesus is so incredibly worth it.

Cell phones... b/c now we don't need candles for Christmas Eve services... the cell phones work the same way!!

Anticipation... I know we're supposed to live in the moment, but anticipation makes life so exciting!

Kenny Chesney Christmas songs... they help me remember that some people want to be by the warm ocean void of snow on Christmas...

Resolutions... its fun to think of easy things that you just want to do and make them into a resolution. For example, one of mine: Go to Disneyland this year. Easy enough:) Anyone wanna go in on that one with me?

Those are just a few... So while I half way dreaded this Christmas season, it turned out to be so special despite the miles between my dear friends and family. Jesus is ever so gracious and concerned even with my dread of his own birthday.

Have a wonderful New year!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Splendiferous Season

And so it begins... my first week before Christmas 1000's of miles from my family, traditions of my own to create, and a smack-down with the reality of being a grown up nurse in a 24/7 hospital:) It'll be my first Christmas to stay up all night and wait for Santa though! That's pretty cool... I remember the days that I could say that I'd never pulled an all nighter. Now I do it regularly!

I get so nostalgic just about every other moment of the day. The first day someone played Christmas music at work, I had to fight tears. So then I made myself listen to Christmas music all day long when I was off so that it wouldn't affect me so much!:) It worked. Now I don't blubber at the first notes of "Oh Holy Night!"

How precious Christmas season is, yeah? It is beautiful... the anticipation, the lights, the festivities... it's almost like we can set aside reality for a bit and get lost in a magical world of kindness and generosity. Sometimes when I think about little baby Jesus and young teen Mary and Joseph's honorable faithfulness... I'm absolutely awestruck and my mouth hangs open. It's the feeling that C.S. Lewis talks about when he says "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." I think Christmas awakens those desires. I desire to say thank you thank you thank you! to Jesus for coming and laying in a mucky manger. For God orchestrating divine visitors, for little babes sacrificing their lives (without choice albeit) so that little Jesus could grow up to be our Savior. I am curious to know what he was like as a little toddler, a kindergärtner, a preteen, a teen, a twenty year old, etc. Why is God secretive about that? He is going to regret it when I pummel him with questions when I get to Heaven!!:):)

In any case, I wish wonder... magnificent wonder this Christmas to every person I see. And that somehow, we as Christians can be stubborn and hold onto the wonder even after 3pm on the 25th when all the Christmas presents are unwrapped, the ham and turkey have been cooked and demolished, and all the Christmas parties are checked off the list. Because our story continues past the 25th and it is a magnificent story to live in.

Merry Christmas with lots of hugs and kisses to you from me:)

P.S. Did you know "splendiferous" is actually a word? Yup... says so.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

weather theme!

Yesterday we had a big storm. I'm talking big. The palm trees were bent over, the sky was an ominous grey, and water was shooting out of the clouds as if they hadn't let loose since Noah's flood! We're almost NEVER ever inconvenienced by weather here and so it was interesting to be reminded of what life is like when it isn't always sunny and at least 65 degrees outside.

I had to leave for work a15 minutes earlier, my hands gripped the steering wheel as I drove on the freeway with little visibility d/t the water splashing onto my windshield from all directions, I had an eerie feeling sitting in my apartment and hearing the wind rattling the windows, my fleece was soaked by the time I got to work and my hair was matted to my head. But I loved it because weather is one thing that we have absolutely NO control over. It is a reminder of how big God is and how little and insignificant we are.

Then this morning I got off of work and the sky had scattered clouds, with most beautiful peek- a-boos of blue, and the sun rays were spotlighting the vibrant greens renewed by the rainfall. Life looks so much brighter when the storm clouds part. And rather than reminding us of how big and powerful God is, it reminds us how passionate, creative, good, and beautiful he is.

I just loved the lessons learned and made me wish for home so that I could wonder at the trees frosted in white, and the cardinals flying in our neighbor's trees across rainbow, and the big snowflakes that catch on your eyelids. So to all who have to shovel and leave for work 20 minutes later every day, and arrive to work wet with hair matted down (especially you dad), I'll spend a day in your shoes any day:)


hehe:) I think palm trees look so funny tossed in the wind:)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

War at Christmastime

This morning I had to be at the hospital at 6AM (on my day off mind you!) for a meeting about disaster preparedness. See in the military, they say we not only have to master the skills of nursing, but we also have to have collateral duties... it's all about leadership and leadership is demonstrated by being super duper involved in everything... which I disagree with but it's the culture I signed for:) Maybe you would think that I would be a stellar disaster preparedness officer, but I would say I am sub-par evidenced by my lack of concern during tornado warnings in Iowa, venturing into the waves even with flood watches and crazy wind, no fire alarm in my apt... maybe you see what I mean. What will be will be... being prepared takes the adventure out of it! Anyway...

As I was walking to my car I saw all these signs of "Season's Greetings", "Happy Holidays", "Celebrate", "Noel", etc. Meanwhile I hear the shouts of sailors training and I can't help but think how there is no room for war in this season. None. I close the door on it.

Yet, the world I live in doesn't allow closed doors for war. It reminds me of this song by Garth Brooks:

"Belleau Wood"

Oh, the snowflakes fell in silence
Over Belleau Wood that night
For a Christmas truce had been declared
By both sides of the fight
As we lay there in our trenches
The silence broke in two
By a German soldier singing
A song that we all knew

Though I did not know the language
The song was "Silent Night"

Then I heard my buddy whisper,
"All is calm and all is bright"
Then the fear and doubt surrounded me
'Cause I'd die if I was wrong
But I stood up in my trench
And I began to sing along

Then across the frozen battlefield
Another's voice joined in
Until one by one each man became
A singer of the hymn

Then I thought that I was dreaming
For right there in my sight
Stood the German soldier
'Neath the falling flakes of white
And he raised his hand and smiled at me
As if he seemed to say
Here's hoping we both live
To see us find a better way

Then the devil's clock struck midnight
And the skies lit up again
And the battlefield where heaven stood
Was blown to hell again

But for just one fleeting moment
The answer seemed so clear
Heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's just beyond the fear

No, heaven's not beyond the clouds
It's for us to find it here

See? It's universal. What is it about this season that will equalize all of us if we allow it? It is a precious time. So my prayer this year has been that little baby Jesus turned great King and Savior will be incredibly glorified and discovered this season by all. Oh how I love Christmas:)02babyjesus

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Confident Dependence

This is what my life felt like about a week ago...

And now...

I cannot even believe the difference I feel now that I am living with people. When I have my quiet time in the mornings, I can't even focus b/c I just keep saying "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!" It's curious to me that it makes such a huge difference and I even feel a bit foolish/dependent because of the unmistakable need for people I have.

I've been slapped in the face by the fact that I cannot do life alone and my pride doesn't really like that. But then recently I was looking through my India journal and I was reminded of the verse in Hosea... "Act on the principles of love and justice and always live in CONFIDENT DEPENDENCE on your God." (12:6). So the Lord asks us to be dependent on him, and isn't it the role of the church that we live dependently on one another? I know our society screams at us to live as independently as possible, so now we have one more opportunity to stand out among the crowd. So good luck... It is definitely against our internal grain to live dependently, but I think the reward surpasses the uncomfortable grating process:)

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I return from Texas a little less naive about what life might be like for the thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and special forces that are living their lives half way around the world. The week of training started out with being dumped with an old military backpack, helmet, a fake M16, CBRNE protective equipment (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives) a rainsuit, gloves, canteens, and a vest with protective plates inserted to stop bullets (I forget what they're called!). It probably added up to be about 40 lbs of gear. We were then shuffled to our cots in our hutments which made up our home for the next 8 days. The first 3 days were filled with lectures and classes about combat casualty care and deployment life. The docs, nurses, dentists and PA's had various classes to attend.

Deployment didn't sound too bad while I sat in the padded seats of the auditorium. I thought it would be an adventure to go work with the soldiers and thought of how much of a difference I might be able to make while over there.

Then we switched gears and headed out to the field carrying the 40 lbs of gear, loading in and out of 4 foot high trucks with no shock pads or ladder to aid in getting into the vehicle. They took us through various exercises including an airplane crash where we had to run into the smoky plane and find the bodies (mannequins) and give them basic aid such as placing tourniquets and triaging them to get them to the nearest clinic while our private instructors would be yelling at us asking if we were going to let the soldiers leg bleed out and to hurry up and move! We had to charge into an area where we would drop to our bellies at the sound of gunshots only to get up quickly and run another 5-10 feet. We had to carry a wounded soldier through a obstacle course and put on an airtight mask in less than 8 seconds... these are just a few of the exercises we experienced.

The field was when all my romantic notions of war and deployment were flushed down the toilet. It was only 80 degrees at Fort Bullis in San Antonio, TX while it might be 120 degrees in Iraq and I was sweating through my cami. My eyes welled up with tears numerous times at the thought of this being a reality and soldiers truly having their legs blown off or faces burned up, at soldiers truly riding in the back of trucks vulnerable to the bombs that might be set off at any time. I hate war. I hate that it is a reality. I hate that it is a way of life for some. I hate that young men and women who should be starting careers and families, and hunting with their dads, playing college sports or going to the college football games are actually out learning how to hunt Taliban, living thousands of miles from families, receiving "dear John" letters, running so that they are physically strong enough to withstand the rigors of deployment... What kind of world is this!?!?! WHY God?!?!?! That was the reality of this training.

I don't know if I will get deployed. I don't want to. But if I do, I have a taste of what is to come. Challenges create character and I know that this is where God has called me to be. So I remain, but with a bit more heartache and sadness of what is truly going on.

Here are a few pictures of the training:)

Loading a patient on the stretcher.

Loading into the trucks

This is a level 3 center where it is set up similarly to a hospital...where the soldiers could go to surgery and we had more access to the medicine they need.
This is my battle buddy LT Blossom all geared up for a day in the field.

3rd Platoon "Nobody Dies!"

My M16 (fake of course) and MRE...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Combat Casualty Care Course AKA C4

Tomorrow I leave in the early AM for San Antonio, TX to meet my fellow military healthcare professionals and learn a tidbit about healthcare on deployment. I had to buy cami's for this adventure and when I look in the mirror... I just can't help but laugh... at myself... out loud. I never ever would have thought 5 years ago that this is where I would be.

I get to meet people from the Army, Airforce and Navy... There are three days of classes from what I understand and 3 days of acting out a deployment health care setting... what that entails I am not sure. I'm nervous and excited. Details to follow if I am still in the mood to blog when I return:)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Redeeming Love

Last night I went to Borders and bought the book Redeeming Love for probably the 6th time as every book I get, I end up giving it away b/c I love it so much. I have probably read it about 10 times and it never fails to sweep me up into the story. It is a book that reminds me of God's reckless love for me... It helps me see myself as I truly am... a whore constantly seeking earthly pleasures and selfish ambitions to fill a hole that only Jesus can fill...

But today as I'm reading it, a character was daydreaming and it brought me back to some sermon given by some pastor who talked about how we have lost our creative nature... and I thought about how I don't allow myself to daydream. If I do, then I must document it by journaling. Otherwise what a time wasting worthless activity! AND by golly... that is a lie and today I took a few minutes to let my mind wander and daydream... about my future, the ocean, God, etc... I think that it might make God glad to free our minds from constant "purposeful" activities and just let go.

I'm moving:) I'm moving to the beach. I'm moving in with three girls. I am saying good bye to a little one bedroom apt where I learned that who I am alone is not always consistent with who I am with people. One thing is for sure, you do find out new things about yourself when you are alone and you are forced to come to terms with it! When I think about moving, it is like a fresh breeze blows on my cheeks. It is time. Time to recognize that I do not thrive in every circumstance, that I have to have courage to change things I am able to change and accept the things I cannot. I can't change that I live in San Diego far from friends and family. I can change that I hate living alone! Some confusing sadness and insecurity cause me to question this decision... but it is always difficult to let go of the familiar. It might be easier to stay stagnant, but it sure isn't healthy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Only God knows...

Work has been a bit stressful lately... maybe I already mentioned that, but patients with cancer have so much to deal with and you can't help but feel as if you have to deal with those issues along with them as their nurse. Cancer pain is crazy, the side effects so frustrating and debilitating in their crisis times, and the mental stability is a puzzle to maintain. Cancer is just evil. A person learns that they have a killer disease, have a set amount of time to live and Oh, P.S. it's going to be a pretty horrible death. But Good Luck! YUCK. is what I have to say.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Supernaturally Refreshed

This morning I woke up @ 0536 after having gone to bed @ midnight last night. I have neurotic hours of sleep since working nights; so I turned on the movie "A River Runs Through It" b/c my dear friend Sheila said it was one of her favorites. AND what girl doesn't love to look at Brad Pitt for a couple of hours?

@ 930 I went to a women's prayer group @ Horizon Christian Fellowship that I have been to one other time. I'm getting desperate for some meaningful Christian relationships and saw this as a great opportunity. Dottie, an older woman with beautiful white hair, stunning blue eyes and a smile that makes the loneliest heart feel welcome, stopped me at the end of the prayer as I was walking out the door and said something like, "I'm so glad you came back, you know I am a retired nurse and I know how hard nursing is and today it's even harder! I worked Oncology for 5 years and didn't realize how burnt out I was until I switched jobs!" At this, my eyes filled with tears and I couldn't say much other than nodd my head over and over b/c this week I realized I might be well on my way to getting burnt out... after a grand total of 6 months working! She promptly gave me her number and told me to call her anytime I felt I needed prayer:)

So then I went home, skipped my run, made plans to have a Borders "date" with my friend Hilary later that afternoon and fell asleep. I woke up about 3 hours later with more energy than I have had in a long time and wondered did I drink an espresso in my sleep or something!?!?! I felt totally refreshed and ready to go and the only thing I can think of is that someone prayed for me and I just have a sneaking feeling it was my new friend Dottie.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm only me when I'm with them...

The past two days have drifted slowly by like the clouds on a summer day... beautiful, peaceful, and the creation of feelings that the english vocabulary does not describe. Why? Because my sister came to visit.

Early this week, I called Katie sobbing over the woes of my day and mind you, my woes really do not deserve the title of "woe" but nevertheless I grant them it. I was desperate for someone to come visit but sadly, Dad and Brent were off to the Boundary Waters, Mom and Katie were working and Lucy had just started a job. Things were looking quite poorly. But I bribed Lucy (the only one with some flexibility with her job) with a plane ticket and promises of line dancing, surfing, boogie boarding, frozen yogurt, my fabulous company, and most convincing the Cardinals vs. Padres tickets and she took it!

So the past two days I have had a companion to spend my days off with. I've had someone to walk into my apt with, someone to eat breakfast with, someone to watch and laugh at the Office with, someone who noticed when I woke up at 0230 in the morning unable to sleep, someone to buy ice cream late at night with, someone to go line dancing with, etc. It has been so wonderful. And tonight in lieu of sleeping, I am contemplating what it has been that has made the past two days so refreshing for me. And I've realized that I am not me without my family. Taylor Swifts song "I'm Only me when I'm with you" has a new meaning b/c I really am not. I do not dread going to church in the morning all by myself; I have my sister beside me. I am not afraid to make a fool of myself line dancing; my sister is either doing the same thing or watching me so we can laugh together later. I am free to be myself when I am enveloped in the love of family.

The dilemma comes with the plane taking off for noontime on Monday. Am I destined to always feel unable to be myself d/t the distance from my family? How do I reconcile my desire to discover new places and take advantage of opportunities in my career with my intense desire to be near my family? Is the discomfort of always putting myself "out there" without anyone to catch me when I fall a feeling I must adapt to? Boo if it is. I don't want to. Is ours the only culture that puts so much pressure on young adults to "get out there" and experience life for yourself. As if you can't experience life for ourselves right in our hometown b/c somehow thats not life. No, it seems that life can only be discovered when you leave.

But I've left. I've left a lot. I left to go to Cameroon, to Indiana, to Camp Ewalu, to Liberty, MO, to India and now to San Diego and so I now know from experience that the ultimatum of discovering "life" is not getting out of one's hometown. I think it's recognizing what makes life worth anything and that is the people you love and who love and know you.

Yup. Thats right... I am getting to a point in life that I can say something and its backed by experience!!! Woo hoo! I AM a quarter of a centure you know:)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What I've seen so far...

I saw a man in Target with a green bird on his shoulder. A real bird.

Dogs are allowed in clothing stores... unless there are signs that say "No pets please"

A van was driving down the interstate with the sliding door wide open. How it was staying open going 70mph I don't know.

How absurd!

And outside my window, there are flowers growing on my neighbors roof.

I sort of like San Diego:)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My first Bike Ride

If there's a bike lane on almost every main road does that mean bikes are treated like cars? Does that mean I have to stop at every stop sign? Do I have to get in the "going straight" lane rather than the side of the road which equals the right turn lane? Is it legal for me to ride on the sidewalks? Do I have to wear a helmet? What is the sign for turning left again?

These were the thoughts that were racing through my brain as I ventured out on my first bike ride in San Diego.

I'm lucky and live close to Balboa park (actually only about a mile away) with great access to the neighborhoods surrounding it. Today I think I rode through North Park (I'm not 100% though) and the houses were beautiful... I think I might make it a habit of getting "lost" in the neighborhoods where the houses truly look like California houses... stucco, beautiful flowers, greenest grass... I really loved it. Even more, I loved seeing the dad sitting on the front porch holding his daughter reading a book and the man working on his car and the two teenage boys riding straight down the middle of the street. Those are the scenes of home. It makes me feel a little less far away from lovely Cedar Falls.

I can't even describe the flowers around here... today I saw a tree with ORANGE flowers. And it was a big tree... I couldn't touch the flowers and I just had to stop and look. They have the most fantastic magenta flowers every where... this city is a sight for color.

When I imagine what the Garden of Eden looked like, San Diego gives me a good idea of what to think of!

And guilty as charged... yes I did blog twice in one day. When I'm out and about I think of all the things I want to share with my friends and family. Maybe it is a way to deal with loneliness... now I can share my adventures with the people I love and maybe they will inspire some of you to mull over packing a car up and moving out here:) I can dream:)

Vampire for Marines

Today I had the privilege of going to the Marine Corps Recruit Department for an evolution of drawing blood from brand new marines. Most of these Marines just arrived here in San Diego last night, were kept up all night getting their heads shaved and their butts chewed. Many were probably wondering what the heck they were thinking in joining the Marines.

When my sister came to visit a couple of weeks ago, she became friends with a new marine who didn’t know where he was going from the airport and basically told her no one cares about him here in San Diego. Which is true, they are on their own to get to the base where they are stripped of their belongings and any sense of self they came with.

They had to have blood drawn so that when they are fighting in the front lines and get injured we have the blood ready and waiting for them already in the fleet hospital. It was a confrontation with reality. We are at war and these boys volunteered to put their necks out on the line. I wanted to cry and give them all hugs and say thank you thank you! Of course with it being a training environment, we were not able to strike up conversations with them and be too friendly, but we were able to share a smile. These boys were so exhausted they couldn’t tell me their SSN or their full name when I asked them. When I asked them to straighten their arms so I could draw blood, they looked at my blankly and twisted their arm in some twisted positions. One guy next to me even fainted while having blood drawn.

As we talked about our experience, our leader said that if we could only see these men 3 months from now at their graduation we would be floored. And while I question daily the sanity of what and why the military is how it is... these men get it done. And then my heart swells with pride that I get to be a part of their journey.