Saturday, November 03, 2012

Putting God on hold

This weekend some one told me I had three choices, I could walk away from God and what I profess to believe, I could do nothing while waiting for lightning to strike, or I could choose to pursue God and his purposes for my life and become the person I was created to be in relationship with God. I realized that I had basically put God on hold, only calling on him when I needed help with an urgent situation. Not only does my life fail to line up with what I claim are my beliefs, I also don't see myself the way he sees me. He sees me as beautiful, worthy, accepted, and I see myself as full of ugliness, not worth the price he paid for me, and not acceptable to God. 

I need to see Jesus and his eyes full of love. I need to see myself through his eyes. I need an encounter with the living God. I need a transformation, a renewal, and major renovation from the inside out.

The words of a familiar song should become my habitual prayer, "Oh Lord, you're beautiful. Your face is all I seek. For when your eyes are on this child, your grace abounds to me." 

I can no longer afford to put God on hold and live life in my own comfortable rut, making my daily choices selfishly and foolishly. If what the Bible says about God and myself is true, then some things have to change, starting with my heart and my way of seeing, and continuing into all areas of my life and all parts of myself. What will following Christ entail and what will it cost? 

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Looking for that Special Someone...

...who will illuminate the darkest of nights, enliven the best parts of me with his joie de vivre, be the ocean to my shoreline and reshape contours of my life possibilities, inspire me to the heights of literary poetry and prose, and stir the deepest fibers of my nature. This person need not have the physique of a Greek god, but this would not be viewed as a drawback. He must be a friend, kindred spirit, and fellow pilgrim on the road leading to spiritual fulfillment and everlasting bliss. 

Well, no I am not exactly serious. But I have been trying a couple online dating sites. A couple of years ago I was a member of Christian Cafe and I even met some people in person, but I eventually cancelled my membership. I have gotten emails from the Cafe periodically inviting me back for 10 days of a free trial. I finally accepted about ten days ago. I found it a little harder to articulate what I was looking for in a relationship and what my shining qualities were than it was two years ago. A few days ago I created a profile on eHarmony late one Friday night (no I hadn't been drinking). After their intensive personality questionnaire which I thought I was honestly answering it emerged that I am actually an extrovert! No one who knows me would ever mistake me for one but there it was! Since then I have gotten daily free matches, but I can't really contact any of them, aside from free "icebreakers", until I commit to a membership. Anyways my profile is not exactly inspiring so only two people have attempted to contact me.

Reading over my opening description there really is only one man who could fulfill most of the requirements and he is divine (though not a Greek god) and definitely in my life to stay. To clarify I am speaking of Jesus. Maybe I should get to know and love him a little better, as well as myself.... Maybe I will find my life and possibilities a little more inspiring then. Just a thought.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pondering One Thousand Gifts

I recently received a copy of "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. It was an "unbirthday gift" which I got by redeeming one of my 52 coupons that I got as a birthday gift from my parents. So far I have redeemed three coupons and got a poem written for me, a mug of hot chocolate prepared for me, and the unbirthday gift. In the future I will attend a concert, get to be a princess for a day, go out for lunch, and pick out an item at the mall... just to name a few of the more lucrative of my coupons.

"One Thousand Gifts" is an amazing book which was recommended to me by my sister who gave me a gift book with excerpts from it. What is amazing about it is not merely how well-crafted the writing is, but how full of insight and wisdom it is. I am only on the third chapter and so far it has made me cry, think, and wonder if just maybe I will internalize its truths and change the way I think. A central insight in the book is how gratitude for God's gifts, however small they are, transforms your life and how naming each gift is a way of giving thanks and discovering God's love and grace anew. It brings true joy as you practice gratitude.

What I like about the book is that it poignantly portrays hard circumstances including terrible tragedies and the author's depression that caused her to wake up every day wanting to die, but it also points the way to hope and joy in the midst of these difficult times. It makes me wonder if ingratitude could be the root that is poisoning my life and if something as simple of naming blessings could transform me. This book makes me hope as no book since "The Purpose Driven Life" has made me hope that change is possible. I hope as I continue to read the book its insights won't just be interesting ideas, but that I will go on to apply them to my life. If I do I think I will never be the same.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Another Year Older

Yesterday I celebrated another birthday, a day later than the actual date. I am now well into my thirties, a fact that still astonishes me. I certainly don't feel mature enough for such a well-advanced age. Never-the-less I am continually getting older and adding to my library of life experiences. I am now a professional in the health care field with a full-time job as a Registered Practical Nurse. Just the other week I drank my first full bottle of beer. This milestone occurred while playing my 111th game of Settlers of Catan. I mention it only as an example of my branching out in new directions. Believe me, it is only one of many possible examples. I am growing as a person and growing larger not only in character but also in girth (my nephew and niece asked me if I am expecting: I am not, though I certainly look the part.)

My younger sisters and I in the new kitchen which is nearing completion.
August has been a good month. I relished a week's vacation with my family at a remote cottage and spending time with my sister, nephews, and nieces during their two week visit to Ontario. I enjoyed my father's 60th birthday celebration with extended family, other than the trip to the emergency department after my nephew cut open his forehead above his eye. My own birthday libations were also fun with scrumptious food, generous presents, and a competitive game of Balderdash which I didn't win. My family actually found a chocolate game of Scrabble... this is the epitome of board games, in my view, and I hope I get to eat the chocolate trophy after wiping out the competition.

In the years to come, I hope I live fully, love deeply, and develop in many new directions. I hope I walk in all the plans and purposes of God for my life. 

My sister taking a break from dishes after a birthday meal,

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Another August Already?

Last August found me finishing up my last couple weeks of pregrad and planning a couple of weeks holidays before embarking on a job search. I find it hard to believe almost a year has passed since I finished school. Since then I have worked for several months as a personal support worker, taken and passed my exam, become a registered practical nurse, and started work as a RPN.

As this August begins I am getting into the swing of things with my latest home care position, looking forward to a week with my whole family at a cottage mid month, and to celebrating my Dad's 60th and my own birthday as the month draws to a close. 

It may be a cliche, but it is definitely true that the longer you live the faster time seems to go. As I reflect on my progress towards my admittedly vaguely defined life goals, I wonder at how I spend the resource of time. Have I invested it into things that really matter? I also wonder what life will look like in five or ten years and what I will have to change so I will be able to look back on a life well lived. And yes, I wonder too if I will ever marry or have children, since there are limited years in which having children will be possible.

I want to spend more time and energy on building relationships and friendships, on serving others, on growing closer to God, on following where the Spirit leads. I want to be able to look back on this decade as one of fruitfulness, one of personal growth, one of seized opportunities and life-changing experiences. I hope this month I will be able to look back and look forward and consider my life's trajectory and what my goals and mission should be for the next year and years. Life is short, but how you spend it can last forever. 
End of August last year posing with Tungsten

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Challenges and Choices

Starting a new phase of life has never been easy for me. The transition from nursing student to nurse has been tough. Instead of feeling confident and sanguine, I have felt a disabling anxiety. Tomorrow I am starting work with a new home-care client and I know it won't be easy for me to adjust to the new responsibilities, routines, and the unique behavioral issues of my client. It also will be tough for my client to adjust to a new care-giver.

I am hoping that this opportunity will work out, but I am anxious that it might not. I have prayed that tomorrow I will be able to do my best and that my client will have a good day. Still, the anxiety remains. Trusting that whatever happens, God will be with me and will help me do all things through his strength is hard to do. But I have to make a choice not to worry, and instead to trust.

There are many things I can't control, but I can make this decision. Whether this particular job works out or not, God does have a good plan for my life. He is reliable and his promises are sure. I pray he will guide me in this new part of my life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Suzanne: Writer of Purple Prose

When I was much younger I used to write stories on the computer. I wrote one about the daughter of a missionary who got kidnapped. I wrote another about a princess who was threatened with a marriage proposal from an evil prince and is offered help in this dilemma by a prince-in-disguise. I started a reworking of the story of Rapunzel, and plotted out  a romantic story about a princess who was promised in marriage to a egotistical newly-crowned King but falls for his younger twin brother who actually turns out to have been born first. Yeah I was big on melodrama.

I had big plans to write a sprawling story told from the perspective of Cinderella's stepsister telling what really happened, namely that Cinderella was a spoiled brat who maligned her step-sisters and step-mother. I was about ten pages into this tale, full of flowery prose, and romantic descriptions when I discovered that my brother had a written an ending for it in which a secondary character, the love interest of one of the stepsisters came to call and, in a state of rage and insanity, shoots every member and creature  in the household with his blunderbuss and then turns on himself, killing all except for "the stupid cricket that kept" the narrator "awake at night." It ended "Oh well, I'm dead anyways." After this assassination of all of my well-realized characters, I stopped writing the story. I think it was because I realized it was ripe for ridicule A couple of years later I showed it to my younger sister who wrote a satirical addition that was side-splittingly funny, mainly because it spoofed the most flowery and romantic and idiosyncratic lines in my story.  In my senior year of highschool I wrote a short tale for a short story assignment that was narrated by Cinderella's stepsister and focused on the royal ball and its aftermath. It was basically how I planned my original story to end. 

Last week my mom challenged me to start writing something fictional again. I had a lot of free time and most of my family was away. I decided I wanted to finish my story about Cinderella as originally envisioned. So I rewrote and added to my previous writing and tacked on the ending I had already written from my school assignment. Although I enjoyed the process, I can't say I am particularly proud of the end result. After my mom had read the story, which she pronounced "cute," I showed her my first draft of the story with John and Rachel's endings. She laughed so hard she started crying, and stated that I should have left it with Rachel's ending. I am inclined to agree. 

I wonder what a mature well-crafted story from me would look like?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Dying Art of Gratitude

I must admit I have tendencies to pessimism and have been known for embellishments that make my hard-luck stories sound even worse. And at a time when a door of opportunity has just been unceremoniously slammed in my face, I could easily make a list of things I am worried or concerned about. However I have instead challenged myself to create a list of things I am thankful for, detailing at least thirty things:
I am thankful:

1. to be a citizen of Canada where I have freedom and many opportunities as well as a comfortable standard of living

2.  for my parents who have supported me through two post-secondary degrees and through times of illness and depression

3.  for my sisters and brother who are all amazing people and add joy to my life

4. for my excellent liberal arts education and subsequent nursing diploma

5. for the joy that chocolate brings to my life

6. for the beauty of the natural world

7. for friendships both those that have endured and ones that are in the past

8. for wonderful books that have transported me to fictional worlds and enlarged my horizons

9. for the incredible patience of God and his mercy

10. for the ability to dream and envision the future

11. for romantic comedies even if I am the only one who really enjoys them in my family

12. for my friend Michelle who is God's gift to me

13. for opportunities to work in health care and the possibility of  finding my niche

14. for physical health and strength, even if I am unable to do a chin-up or run a mile

15. for improved mental health

16. for my church family and pastor 

17. for my Dutch-Canadian heritage 

18. for the opportunity to know all of my grandparents and the ninety years my Oma has lived

19. for the enjoyment that writing brings me

20. for my academic ability and achievements

21. for the joy of baking and eating my decadent creations

22. for second chances and new opportunities

23. for times of laughter and hilarity

24. for the gift that God gave to the world in sending his Son and the eternal life he brings

25. for my nephews and niece who I will get to see again this summer

26. for the gift of singleness

27. for the journey through darkness that has shaped me a person and made me aware of the light

28. for the joys of being a woman including the capacity to nurture new life

29. for my car which is still drivable and only a little dented

30. for over thirty years of life

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Lady of Leisure

The last two weeks or so have not involved a lot of work. The shift nursing job that was supposed to give me thirty plus hours a week ended up fizzling out into nothing after one shift due to a client's hospitalization. I requested other assignments, but for over a week I had zero shifts and no work from my second job either. So I became a woman with a lot of extra time on her hands. I'd like to say I packed it with meaningful activities and purposeful living, but the reality is I did a smattering of cooking and baking and housework, enjoyed some time reading and watching tv, got a little bit of exercise, and got a lot of extra sleep.

So would I enjoy having unlimited leisure time? Probably not. Sometimes to appreciate the time off, you have to put in a good day's work first to make it more enjoyable. Also not earning any money is problematic and my next pay day is going to be painful experience. 

I got hired for a third nursing position this week and today got asked to work with a new home care client two days a week, so I am hoping that I will soon be a relatively productive member of society. With three positions, all of which involve learning new things and adapting to new workplaces, I think my stress level will be quite high for the next couple of months. Still, if I can push through it, perhaps the next time I have a holiday, planned rather than unexpected, I will enjoy it to the full.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Embarking on a Nursing Career

Right now I am writing a blog post instead of composing a cover letter... Now that is the power of procrastination!

I have many excuses for the lack of productivity on my Wednesday evenings: I have put in a busy day as a PSW beginning at 9 am and ending at 5 pm. I am tired. I have all morning and most of the afternoon tomorrow to work on applications. I am entitled to an evening off now and then. Did I mention my state of utter exhaustion?

Yeah job searching is one of those activities that you need to force yourself to make time for. It is supposed to be a full-time job, but I already work about thirty-five hours a week, mornings, afternoons, and evenings and I know I don't invest nearly enough time into my search for my first nursing job. And then there is the advice that I really should be spending time networking and using contacts to find a job.

I guess I could already be working as a nurse in home care, if I accepted a position with the company I work for as a PSW. But I have my heart set on a position in long term care, and I would rather work as a part of a team than go to clients on my own and struggle with the huge learning curve of the novice nurse solo. I would have training and support I know, but my courage fails at the thought of so much independence and responsibility. But any nursing job will require a great deal of independence and responsibility, so maybe it is just more excuses for not taking a leap into the unknown.

Maybe I find nursing an attractive career in the abstract, but the concrete form of an actual nursing job is for me a little frightening. I need to find some confidence and go for it, like Julie Andrew's Maria did in The Sound of Music. I hope I can muster up some courage for my first job interview as a RPN on Monday and then I hope I can go boldly into the future as a registered practical nurse ready to work in the health care field and to make a positive difference in the lives of the people I encounter. Because I have confidence in me! And because I need to trust that God will direct my steps and lead me into the job I have been praying for and training for.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1 Corinthians 13
New International Version (NIV)
1 Corinthians 13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor or surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 For now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The moment that you realize you are morally and spiritually bankrupt or, perhaps, more like impoverished (along the lines of poor, blind, pitiful and naked), is the moment that you have looked in the mirror and not liked the person staring back at you. It is the time you recognize that possess little faith, and less hope, and still less the type of love spoken of in this passage you are able to recite word for word from memory. You realize you want to be worthy, or made worthy, not worthy of believing what you have in the past professed, but worthy of having once believed; you want to have been transformed into a worthy personage, now meriting divine love. You know that underneath it all you are angry, embittered about the failure of the contract you thought you had written in stone by the finger of God. You acknowledge you are in desperate need of grace, but you don't know if you can accept it from a God who you have failed to love with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. In the end the person staring back at you is a person who is not worthy, but who might be able to accept a free gift, a person who could potentially possess purified gold, but who at the moment remains wretched.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Update on a new year

So it is pretty sad when you are half way into February and you have yet to post something on your blog for 2012. I am busy working in home care as a personal support worker, but it is not like I don't have lots of free time. The latest news... I am now debt-free and ... yesterday I found out that I had passed my CNO RPN examination! I will be an RPN just as soon as they process my registration (that I have yet to mail in). So now I need to be job searching for a position as a registered practical nurse. In other news, next week my mom is going to Kenya. During her two week absence my sister Christina has agreed to take over many of the household chores, because soon she will be going to China and she wants to earn some money. And my other sister is going to Amsterdam for her reading week. Soon I will be the least traveled member of my family. But I will also be the only nurse!