Nurse in the house…

Having a nurse in the house has already come in handy! My hubby had a stomach-flu and even after ‘singing into the great white microphone’ the stomach pains didn’t subside. A few days later, he commented to our new-graduate-nurse daughter that he felt bloated.  She did a quick inventory and she stated quite simply: “I think you have a blockage.  You better go see your doctor today.”

She called it! My poor hubby was whisked off to emergency with the official diagnosis of a partially obstructed bowel.  He spent the next couple of days lying quite still, enduring a g-tube and intravenous, but thankfully everything settled and he didn’t need corrective surgery. He was able to be home for father’s day. He was the grateful father of a brand-new nurse!

Ever since our daughter was in early high school, it was very clear that she wanted to be a nurse.  I remember walking into the family room where she was watching a TV show called “Birth Stories”.  It was series that was a mixture between documentary and reality TV and it followed women throughout their pregnancy, labor and delivery. It even showed caesarian sections; literally the tummy being sliced open and the baby being yanked out!  She was totally engrossed into the show, and quite frankly, I was just plain ‘grossed-out’.  But she loved it!

As the years went on, she would often join the conversations with new-moms about their birthing experience, and I remember chuckling while listening to her asking knowledgeable questions about the new-mom’s labor and delivery.  Most teenage girls are just interested in the new baby’s name and cute outfits; my daughter wanted to know about dilation times and episiotomies! And as you probably have experienced, most new mom’s love telling the details of their delivery.  I think it is cathartic for them… and quite damaging to those listening…

My daughter has already had the ‘hands on’ experience of delivering a baby.  This past winter she participated in her university’s cross-cultural practicum program.  Working alongside seasoned nurses in a hospital in Zambia, she watched many births. Then one morning the head nurse turned to her and said: “Do you want to delivery this one?”  She did! A baby boy.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched my daughter cross the university platform to receive her Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree and my mind was drawn to Ps 139. It is a beautiful Psalm that speaks of God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. One verse specifically says that before we were even one day old, all our days were recorded.  Each day has already been set out before us.  Our heavenly Father knows exactly what we are going to be going through and he knows our life course. And he will give us everything we need to accomplish what he has set out before us to do.

With each new experience, there is a confidence that God is walking with us and enabling us to achieve the desires that he has put in our hearts.  He is also faithful to sustain us through the trials that we have to walk through or the testing’s that we will endure.  He has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us.

I recognize God’s hand on my daughter’s life and as she posed for pictures in her grad gown and cap, I felt a sense of joy that God was pulling her along the path of his design. Today she is in orientation as she got her dream job; she was hired onto the maternity ward of a large hospital. I am not surprised that she is a nurse. I saw this as part of her life path since she was young. I am a bit surprised that she would actually want to spend time surrounded by women in labor; but that might be because of my  “birthing stories”… let me tell you…

jump in a bucket

I got nothin’.  My reservoir is empty. I think I know what I should do or how I should respond but I just can’t conjure up the will to act the way I think I know I should.  Know what I mean? Ever been in the ‘that’ place?

So… I sat on a wooden bench and tried to ‘figure it out’. (Reminds me of a poster that was in my dad’s office: “Sometimes I sit and think… and sometimes I just sit).

My bend is toward psychology and the many useful tools it procures. Wracking my brain I looked back into past history and embracing past hurts, I tried to process legitimate feelings so that I could come up with a game plan to face the future (psychodynamic). I looked for patterns of behavior or conditioned responses that I have about the situation (behaviorism) and I reflected on the support I have around me (social psych).  I thought through some of the belief systems I have about myself and the situation I was in (cognitive psychology).  I even contemplated to what extend I was responsible for the happiness of others (existentialism).

“If I can just figure this out…” was the mantra that cycled throughout all my thoughts.

Then I got a revelation. I think it was straight from the Holy Spirit.  Although it sounded like my voice, the message was so contrary to what I was thinking and the message was so profound, I knew it was from my Heavenly Father.

“You can’t figure this one out… you just have to act in faith.”

Faith?

No matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to figure this out.  I will never have the mental capacity to rationalize, energize or strategize what needs to be done.  I just need to turn to God. To fill up in his grace and allow his love to ooze over me so that I walk in his strength and power.

That afternoon I was talking to a friend and she shared some great advice that she had gotten the day before: “You need to jump into a big bucket of grace”.

Acting by faith, I allow God to give me whatever I need for each situation.  No personal ‘reservoir’; just a moment by moment flowing of grace. His grace to do what He wants me to do. Later that week I was reading through Philippians and this time God used his word to drive home this truth.

Philippians 2:12-13 “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

How reassuring to know that it is God who works in me. I am not earning my salvation by my own merit or strength; it is God living in me. He will give me the desire (to will) and the ability (to act) to do the good stuff he wants me to do. He knows what I am facing and He has a good purpose that he wants me to do.

Just to make sure that I had gotten the point God sent it in three’s: first the personal revelation, then the friend-given confirmation and the scriptural instruction.

I have an ornamental silver bucket sitting on my desk now.  It is a constant reminder to me that I don’t need to figure everything out. Act in faith, and let God take care of the rest. Sometimes you need to sit and think and sometimes you just need to sit… in that big bucket of grace.

goin’ to winnipeg

Waiting in the departure lounge, we could hear the various flights heading to Mexico being announced.  It seemed like every departure gate around us was heading for a warm tropical paradise… and Will and I were heading to Winnipeg.’*

Although warm tropical vacation seems more enticing than the frozen prairies, we are glad to be in Winnipeg!  It is the first “Weekend to Remember” FamilyLife Canada Conference that Will has been in charge of (W2R). He visited here a couple of months ago, meeting with the volunteers, the hotel staff and setting all the details in order for this weekend. It will also be the first time that he runs the sound/media presentation, so we are anticipated a very full and exciting weekend.

This conference is one of five FL conferences that will be held across Canada this weekend.  There are two W2R conferences and three one day “A Day Together” conferences.  The W2R is using new manuals/material, there is a lot of excitement surrounding this weekend.

This is the weekend before Valentine’s Day.  And I think it is an appropriate weekend to have as many marriage conferences as possible!  Consider the feelings that Valentine’s bring.  Is there any other day of the year that is filled with such a juxtaposition of emotions?

For some couples it is a special day to shower romance and appreciation for a beloved spouse. For many it is a day of isolation and pain. Some endure Valentine’s Day because it elicits a cultural expectation of some kind of romantic enactment.  Whether single or married, Valentine’s is an emotionally loaded day.

I know that some marriages are warm and nurturing – like a tropical paradise. Others are more akin to the frozen vast prairies – cold and isolating. Whichever destination a marriages seems headed; there is always a chance for enrichment or change. This weekend, over 260 couples have signed up for a FL Canada marriage conference and this makes me glad. I know that excellent material will be presented and that there is the potential for lives and marriages to be transformed.

So, I will enjoy this weekend in Winnipeg (even though February is usually the coldest time of the year). I feel privileged to be part of an organization that seeks to improve relationships.

I think I might propose to our National Director that we should consider Mexico as a conference venue. Anyone want to sign up?

Sincerely, Doris Born (in Winnipeg)

* remember that Fountain Tire commercial?

living in color

So how is the New Year going?   Did you make any New Year’s resolutions or set some new personal goals for 2011?

How do you feel about resolutions?  Over the years I’ve heard many different opinions about how to and how not to start off a new year and many came from u-tube videos, sermons or just from conversations over a cup of coffee.  I’ve heard New Year’s resolutions described as a new page, fresh beginning, and a chance to start again. And I’ve heard New Year resolutions also portrayed as guilt inducing, set-up to fail scenarios and I’ve even heard them condemned as being a sin.

In my own experience I have embraced, celebrated, regretted and cried over New Year resolutions… but mostly I’m amazed at how time flies.

Ever since the new millennium, every year just looks weird!  2011 looks like the date you’d see in a sci-fi movie.  Especially when I look back to the memorable 1980’s – the decade when I was a teenager, graduated, got married and had my first baby – it does seem like time has flown by.

But another year has started and this time of year does its ‘magic’ on people like me. I’m a ‘game plan’ type of person.  I’ve always had some form of a daytimer (if you’ve had one, you know what I’m talkin’ about).  Sometimes I bought them, other years I made my own. Printing off pages and schedules and organizing them in mini files in my carry-around notebook.  I can come up with the best game plan; organized, concise, filled with large goals, small goals and then daily time slots to enhance efficiency. I’ve even done the color coded thing… with red scheduling for exercise and blue for school, green for work… you get the picture (in full color). And when I was really on my game I’d even have a Bible verse inserted in my scheduling to ponder throughout the week.

Now I’m more into computerized scheduling, and I’m trying to resist the color coding because I find it much easier to create an impressive schedule than actually keep it! I can spend lots of time color coding and organizing a great looking schedule BUT it’s another story to keep that schedule.  All the fancy colors, creative fonts and lofty aspirations looked impressive enough – and it is fun to create – but it was much easier to make a plan than to keep it. It seems easier to come up with new ideas than to implement what needs to be done.

This morning I was reading through Philippians and there was a verse that literally jumped out in Technicolor.  Philippians 3: 16 “…let us live up to what we have already attained.” Paul is admonishing the Philippians to live up to what they know to be true.  In a portion of his letter when he is addressing how each should live, he basically says – ‘just live the way you know you should; live up to what you know is true’.

How about this for a New Year resolution: live up to what I already know.

Be the person I know I am.  Live life as I know the best way how.  Make the right decision because it is the right decision. Treat people the way I know they need to be treated.  Schedule my day the way I know it needs to be lived.

This reminds me of a saying I previously had in one of my daytimers (yes… in fancy script and bright colors).  To paraphrase it: “I don’t seek to teach you anything new; I strive to remind you of what you already know”.

So as I start 2011, I am once again ignoring the enticement of creating a ‘new life’ or a ‘new me’.  Instead I am seeking to live 2011 according to what scripture says.  I want to live up to what I already know.  This simple black and white message should provide a kaleidoscope of contexts for each day.

Copywrite © Doris Born 2011 – Permission granted to use and reproduce with proper citation

light

We were heading home from a family reunion in Calgary Alberta.  It wasn’t a planned gathering; it just sorta happened.  One family decided to visit another family and soon a snowball effect transpired as grandparents, cousins and siblings decided to converge at the one sister’s home. Families came and went as their schedules allowed and visits overlapped as some arrived while others departed throughout the week. Our first night there we had over 25 people sleeping in various places all around the house. During the day we played games (Dutch Blitz and TBGE – “the best game ever”) watched movies, cheered on Team Canada’s junior boys’ hockey team, sipped café lattes and just sat amidst love and commotion of all these people everywhere. It was loud, fun and a bit random; just like my ‘life’ tends to be.

A couple days later we headed back to BC.  We quickly discovered the highway was covered with a sheet of ice.  We drove, or should I say ‘slid’ along the trans-Canada for less than twenty minutes when we decided to turn around and head back.   It just wasn’t safe.

About six hours later we headed out again, and although we could still feel the occasional swerve, we slowly made our way back home.

We traveled in darkness and the reflection of the highway signs detailed our route notifying us of the places we were passing through. But we could see nothing beyond the shine of our headlights.  We had been traveling for about four hours when a sobering realization hit me.  Because of our departure delay we had just traveled through one of the most beautiful parts of world without seeing any of its beauty.

There are few sceneries that rival the beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  Of course I’m biased, but if you have ever taken the Trans Canada Highway through the Rocky Mountain National Park, I think you might agree with me.  The mountains line each side of the highway and are majestic in structure and magnitude.  Especially during the winter, the sun reflecting off the snow-capped ridges contrasting against the bright blue sky is particularly breath taking.

The original plan had been to drive through the mountains during the day which was forecasted as clear and crisp.  But the roads played the tune “Slip-sliding away” and we had to change our travel plans and drive through majestic beauty in the dark… with my heart singing the blues.

The next day, after we arrived home safely, I opened my bible to look up some passages that were highlighted during the family impromptu-reunion.  Specifically, my sister’s sister-in-law (yes, it was an ‘extended’ family gathering) had referenced 1 John.

I read the following:

“God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1: 5-7 NLT)

I immediately thought of the uselessness of traveling through the Rocky Mountains in the darkness.  Sure, we got to our destination, but the joy of the trip was robbed.  Because of the darkness we couldn’t see the beauty that we were driving right through.  Those majestic mountains, reaching up into the sky displaying the contrast of pristine forests and rock face, were invisible in the night sky.  The mountain passes, frozen waterfalls and winding ravines were there, but we couldn’t enjoy their beauty because we traveled in darkness.

In this upcoming year I want to walk in light.  I want to see the beauty around me.  I want to enjoy each day in relationship with God, because in him there is no darkness.  Living in the light is allowing God to show us when we mess up.  It means allowing his forgiveness to not only free us from our guilt but also giving us a venue to extend forgiveness to those who hurt us. Walking in the ‘light’ enables us to journey each day at peace with God and in healthy relationships around us.

As we travel through 2011 my wish for all of us is that we live in the light. I pray that our journey will be in fellowship with God so that we can see and enjoy the splendor of each day.

a past christmas story

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from an editor of a magazine that has published a few of my stories over the years.  She was going through their archives for a Christmas story and found an article that I had written and submitted a number of years ago. She asked if they could run it in this month’s issue.  I am always humbled that people read my writings, so I was delighted when this story was put into print.

It is an African Christmas tale told in the context of Christmas Carols.

Check it out:

http://www.mbconf.ca/home/products_and_services/resources/publications/mb_herald/december_2010/features/faithful/

Life-altering paradigm shift

It has been almost two months since I blogged.  It has been a very full fall. I have returned to school full time. 

Call me crazy, but I have wanted to do this ever since I left high school.  I attended Bible College with the idea of taking some bible classes before I returned to university to pursue a degree.  While there, I found God’s “Will” for my life, and within a year after meeting my husband, Will, we got married.  That was, ohh… about 23 years ago!

Our new life together was fun and filled with exciting work/ministry opportunities and we had no money for further education.  Some things haven’t changed – that last sentence still describes our life today!

I had always planned on going back to school but decided that I didn’t want to spend four years in school only to have to put it all on the shelf as I was pretty determined to do children “full time” during their early years.  So… we had kids.  Four children in five years to be exact.  I’ve always tried to be efficient with my time. HA! It was more the philosophy that if you are going to be crazy… you might as well be good and crazy.  Go big or go home, baby!

When we enrolled our youngest child into the local public school (each had a few years of homeschooling before then) I registered at our local University College.  I had found a friend who was going through the same life-altering paradigm shift and we decided to do this new adventure together.  We car-pooled and sat beside each other in class. We studied together, competed for grades, and consoled each other when our marks were not what we thought they should have been.  Mostly… we debriefed.  Each professor had his/her own agenda and some of the class material was a bit of a culture shock.

Then, my school buddy left me in her dust as she fast-tracked her studying career and a couple years later she graduated.  I cried when she completed her degree because I felt so proud of her… I think I even took some of the credit for her success.  I also cried, because I was still plunking along taking one or two courses a year. But mostly I cried because she beat me. I am terribly competitive you know.

Then, this past year ‘things’ happened.  It became clear that this was the time for me to have another life-altering paradigm shift.  It was my time to go to school full time. I am attending a university 100 km away.  I spend three days in the city, and four days at home and I still work with FL.

Why? I already have my dream-job. I am doing what I want to do but I want to do it better. I could learn on my own, through self directed study and most of my life I have done this. But there is more to this story.  I also need to be faithful to be the person that God has created me to be. I know that when God creates each individual he sets plans before us and in our hearts.  I know that this has been part of my design.  I love to study, I want to learn more about my world, culture and what research has revealed and I also want the degree to substantiate my learning. 

At least that was the game plan. And then mid-terms hit.  Did you know that November is called suicide month at most universities? The pressure is high. After finishing a 150 multiple-choice midterm exam, I walked out of the class room thinking: “I don’t need to do this…I have a life, I already have a job… and I’m really feeling too old for this.”

One sleepless night in the midst of term papers, presentations and exams I felt waves of panic sweep over me.  Now, if you know me, you know that I am not a ‘worrier’. I’ve never been the ‘stay-up-at-night–and-worry’ type of person (or parent for that matter). I usually have a deep trust in God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. But this was a bit much.  Pressure from school was unrelenting, the grades were disappointing and I could never seem to catch up the two weeks I missed when we were in India.

I tumbled out of bed, found my bible and turned to Isaiah 43.  I’m 43 years of age, so I am meditating on this chapter for the year. This is what I read:

“I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”

Life is hard, but it will not be enough to pull me under.  I am stressed and feeling overwhelmed, but I will make it. Why? Because God is the LORD and he is with me. 

The waves of panic and doubts bowled me over me.  I felt a drowning sensation and had seriously contemplated giving up.  But, I won’t quit.  Not this term.  I don’t know about the future, but I know that today I can do what I am meant to do. 

Call me crazy? This is my life-altering paradigm. I’m trusting God each step of the way, for today and each day.