Monday, February 2, 2015

loss: one week later

Last Monday afternoon began the daze that still lingers.

I had never looked forward to an appointment like I did this one. I was so humbled, overwhelmed, and excited. There were times I tried to be more controlled and rational. But those days were over. It was 11 weeks and 3 days. I couldn't wait to see and hear glimpses of this life for the first time.

After what seemed like endless questions, our midwife reappeared with an ultrasound machine. We were about to visualize this little life; and listen to the beat of her heart. It was an expectant emotion without words.

But within minutes, the anticipation and emotion fell flat.

'This isn't what I was hoping to see...' she said.

'I'm going to send you to radiology to get a more accurate look at what's going on...'

Of course, I recognized the words and tones she used- medical kindness and sensitivity which was polite and hopeless at the same time.

I felt nothing but numb.
I stared at the screen. My name was there, at the top.
It was empty.

Was she doing something wrong?

Almost as soon as she started, it seemed she was done.

'I'm so sorry.' she said.

Her kindness was genuine; making one feel cared for. And yet, it didn't fully register in my state of shock.

I looked at Gordon and asked if he was ok. He just stared ahead blankly.

Tears seemed far away. It wasn't real.

The next ultrasound confirmed what we already knew: we had lost our baby.

The one we had been celebrating as she met each weeks' milestones- a heartbeat, fingers, toes, and all her functioning organs.
But now her heart wasn't beating. We couldn't see her. My body had hidden her away; and given me no warning signs or symptoms. I had no idea.

How was this even possible? I had felt so medically informed and aware-
But this? I was completely blindsided.

It's rare, but sometimes it happens, she said. Your body hasn't recognized the loss yet. Sometimes it takes many weeks.

We opted for surgery because of various risks and circumstances. I knew it was right. But I hated the idea.

I'm supposed to be helping other people through surgery.
How could I be the patient?
I was humbled so quickly.

These past days I have cried many tears. Had too many conversations that made me break down. Felt helpless and confused. Discouraged and overwhelmed.

I was so afraid of being vulnerable. Afraid to subject myself to the care of others. Afraid to trust. Afraid of the risks of surgery. And yet the Lord's nearness in my anxious state was more tangible to me than anything I had experienced in a long time.

I survived the surgery and left the hospital feeling relieved and encouraged. Thankful for the kindness of the nurses, and overwhelmed with humility and gratitude for those who cared for me in this small town hospital. I felt the Lord as near to me as my next breath.

And a few days later I still feel lost, empty, and disappointed.

I don't know how to be with people. I feel like I can't. I've avoided those around me successfully for a week now. Literally I haven't seen anyone I know for a week.  Who am I?

My body, hormones, and spirit feel beat from the inside out.
I know it's a process, and I'm trying to be patient with myself.

And still, my awareness, sensitivity, and need for Jesus is deeper, stronger, and more apparent than it's ever been.

I trust this season of loss will not go to waste.

'Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous... 
 They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.' 
 Psalm 112

Monday, October 27, 2014

sustaining God

sustain: to provide what is needed for (something or someone) to exist, continue, etc. 
to hold up the weight of, to give support or relief to, to supply with sustenance: nourish
to support the weight of, to carry or withstand (a weight or pressure), to bear up under

I sit in the quiet of a Saturday afternoon, with one one around. 
I look out the window to watch as the wind blows the remainder of the yellow leaves around the yard. The trees sway back and forth.

The house is quiet; except for the washing machine spinning down the hall. The wind whooshes outside. A candle fills the air with a warm scent, and I am filled with the peace of Jesus, my sustaining God.

I think about this season. It has been filled with change, transition, uncertainties, stress, fear, and hope. And while I know that life will never be organized; or 'orderly,' how I'd like it.
I am certain that the deep peace I have is from the God who sustains...

He has sustained me!
He has given me deep peace in the midst of a cross country move that was not my idea.
A strange warmness toward a community that is nothing like the city that I came from.
A certain fondness for neighbors, coworkers, and others we have met who have become our friends, farmers, running partners, dinner guests, fellow travelers;
and those who look out for me when my husband is away.

I've only lived here a few months. 
I would never have chosen this path, but already I feel at home here.
It is clear to me that the peace I feel is impossible-
unless it is given from Him.

I know this is only the beginning of a season. I know He has much more to show me.
In the changes and newness of this season, may I cling to Him.
He is my sustaining God.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

starting again

thinking and dreaming lots about starting to write again. I don't always feel like I have much to say, and yet the thoughts still swirl in my mind.

Jesus has done something inside me; He has transformed my heart.
In the past few months, He has be nudging me forward in one particular area. I am now able to articulate my fears surrounding this, and am completely overwhelmed to realize that He has taken them away. In a matter of days, my thoughts have been transformed.

how great is His faithfulness!

I also have found myself wanting to tell everyone just how GOOD He is. how much He loves us! that life without Him is worthless. seriously; dead. these past few weeks I have pondered again and again how great is my responsibility to share the Good News with those in my midst.

in the day to day [way up north Michigan] what does this kind of life look like?
how might He use our lives for His greatest glory? Lord, USE US! we are willing!

some notes I found in a journal from a few years ago, while I was living in Asia:

shema: hear and obey. 'a lifestyle of giving credit to God for why we do what we do. we need to stop censoring ourselves. if our relationship with God is central to our lives, than why not talk about Him?'

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

a piece of the [recent] story

In the winter of 2012 when I was still living in Cambodia, one day I felt like the Lord told me clearly that it was time to move on. Give up this place for this time. Go home. After only two years, I felt like my time in Asia had only just begun.

I didn’t want to leave at all. I stubbornly thought of all the reasons I should stay. In my head, the only possible reason that would make moving across the world worth it (again) was if I was going to meet the man I would marry or something like that…

and of course that wasn’t going to happen.

fast forward six months, and there I was in Portland, Oregon. Portland was just another version of home I had come to know and love in the past years. At this point, I was struggling with the idea of church and what it meant to be a part of the Church in America. I was discouraged and reluctant.

I was in and out of Oregon all summer, attempting to rest and renew my soul after much time away and before diving back in to the working world. I had prayed a lot about what it meant for me to be a part of a church in my new home city. I felt a lot of angst around so many changes- in community and church and what I was being called to for this next season.

it seemed almost by default that I got roped in to the Jarrett house community with my friends and housemates. I was hesitant at first. But as I learned more of the hearts of these new friends, and their love for Jesus and their neighbors, I realized quickly it was exactly where I belonged. And so I had found a new family and church home within the Bread and Wine community. 

enter Gordon.

at one point last October, I had noticed Gordon playing his drums during one of our Sunday gatherings. I noticed that he knew everyone. He was always smiling, giving hugs, and genuinely friendly. There was something about him. Yet he was not the kind of guy I typically noticed because he seemed overly friendly and interested in everyone; so I was hesitant to show interest and be another girl on his list! I also found out his age and wrote him off as too young.  

one Sunday found us having lunch with a few other friends. For as many mutual friends as we had, we really hadn't spent much (or any?) time talking.

Gordon was about to leave for a trip to India. I had spent some time there earlier that year, so I talked his ear off about everything I loved about it; including giving him medical advice and offering to pass on some medications I had obtained in Asia. (I mostly just wanted another reason to be in contact with him…!)

well, he went to India and I sent him a few text messages prior to his trip, which he took about 3 days to return. I didn't think much of it, even when he invited me to dinner with some friends at his house the day he returned. I already had plans, and declined. I did want to see him, but I didn't want to get my hopes up either.
eventually he asked me to meet him for coffee after another group of us had lunch one week. I think that day it was clear we weren't going to have enough time to talk unless it was just the two of us. I could tell he was interested in me (kind of?!) but he played it SO cool; like it was no big deal. We met later that week for coffee. He chose the location about 5 minutes before we met there, so I really didn't think he cared very much about me, or meeting up. He also was on call that day for work. Of course I didn't understand or know anything about what this meant, because we didn't really know each other and I had no idea about his job. He was on the phone from the moment he got out of his car! And he was involved in about four different phone conversations after that, which interrupted our conversation multiple times! I tried to be patient, and I wondered, 'Is this normal?!" I think normally I would have written off anyone who appeared so distracted, but there was something about him. I remember deciding it didn’t matter, and at the same time, wondering what I was thinking. Who was I?!

meanwhile, the things he shared with me that day made it really clear that he was like no one else I had talked to. I really wanted to know him. I felt nervous; like I was a bit too flustered to be myself. Most people would agree that this is not like me; but that afternoon it was!

in our conversation we found common ground in our experiences overseas, language learning, and experiences of exploring different cultures and parts of the world. This has been an enormous part of my heart and my story that I never felt like many people relate to or understand.

it was also clear to me that day that he really loved Jesus. Not in a way that he was trying to impress me, but he just did. There were so many little things that made it clear to me we should be together. And I realized that that is what I really wanted…

we kept spending time together; although it’s our joke that at first, Gordon never made it very clear to me how he felt. He didn’t explicitly state anything. He didn’t tell me he liked me. We didn’t talk about it. I was so confused! I really liked him and wanted to know more of his heart, but I was still trying to keep my distance because I wasn’t sure what his intentions were.

one day, I shared my feelings to Don Paul, a good friend and father type to both of us.
‘Don, what’s with this guy??’ I complained, ‘I don’t even think he likes me!’
‘Ohhhhhh…. Ummm, Yeah. I talked to him the other day… I don’t want to say too much… but um… that’s not the impression I got…” Don said.
Don told me in not too many words that Gordon was “worth being patient for…” and assured me that I should hang in there.

one night soon after, we talked. He told really clearly that he liked me and how he felt. I could tell he had thought through what he was going to say and that he was really genuine. He told me that he had assumed we were “together” for a few weeks now… (he wondered how I didn’t get this memo; but that’s a whole other story!)

after that, things were different. It wasn’t long before I felt pretty sure that Gordon was the man that I would marry. Of course I never said anything to him, but something in me just knew. I had days and moments where I felt like I was taking a huge risk because I really wanted to be with him, and I didn’t know the outcome. I also knew that this was the relationship that I wanted to invest in despite what I couldn’t control.

from the beginning, Gordon never ceased to surprise and impress me. He had traveled all over the world. He spoke German and Spanish. He liked to drink tea.  He knew how to sail and he liked camping. He was musical, active, up for adventures, and loved Asian food. He was a strong match for my spirited personality. He was a leader; steady, stable, and unwavering in his love for Jesus and for others.

throughout our journey together, Gordon has been an amazing leader who is quick to point me to Jesus and speak truth. He calls me out when I need it. He is encouraging, thoughtful, and fun.  Apart from our relationship, I have experienced much transition and loss during this past year. Gordon has walked through this with me faithfully and prayerfully. I have joked with him that he met me at the “wrong” time; but I am also confident that the Lord’s ways are not mine. Gordon’s presence has reminded me of the Lord’s intimate care and knowledge of my heart. And I am thankful and overwhelmed that although this season has been difficult in some ways, it was never “wrong.”  

praising God for this piece of the story.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

long overdue::thankful

today I woke up in a house where others were stirring around in the kitchen
I remembered that I'm not alone, and I liked the thought.

I am thankful for grey skies and cool air, even in May.

a morning walk:: noting the beauty of my neighborhood.

for learning about love by experience.

coffee and classical music in a coffee shop bustling with the early morning crowd.

the bizarre achy muscle reminder of yesterdays workout.

the memories of my season in Cambodia; for the bits of language that come to mind at random moments, for the beauty that lies in my memory, and in that country on the other side of the world...

for my job; the reminder of the human spirit...and even the all night long hours that allow me to watch the sunrise and the light peeking through the windows at 5am, welcoming another day.

the ways that art awakens my soul.

the morning of writing thirteen pages in my journal:: how the Lord chooses to reach me through other people in the most unexpected ways.

the hope in tomorrow:: the newness. and the unbelievable surprises that await.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I'm bleeding and empty.
my peace is real; my joy is deep.

and yet I don't recognize the person I've become.

I run and easily become tired
instead of alive with energy
I'm sleepy and exhausted.

my space is cluttered
my camera waits in hiding
my journal pages are empty

I have deep love for those in my midst
but my well of abundance feels dry
and my efforts aren't enough.

I'm depleted. tired. hurting. distracted.

oh Jesus.
create in me a clean heart.

restore my passion

heal the broken pieces with Your freedom
make me new.

Monday, October 1, 2012

blind and lost

it happened
I live that other part of the world now
the one that is beautiful and comfortable
and really different

I worried it might feel like this
like I went away for awhile
-disappeared to that other place-
and when I got back it was familiar enough
I could pick up where I left off and keep going-

[was that what I was supposed to do?]

that other place I was- did it really happen?

that dusty humid air
mud and sweat, friendly smiles
[the presence of God amidst the tangible aches of life]
the children that called out after me on the road
the babies I held; the patients I cared for

those words I used to communicate in;
they continue to come to my mind,
threaten to escape my lips
and yet I remain quiet
because they aren't needed anymore

did all of those days happen the way I remember them?

for all the raw pain I witnessed, and felt too
it all feels so far away now

I hate it

that in the hours that passed when I journeyed from one land to another

life went away
was replaced
is different
and sometimes I feel blind and lost

Friday, August 24, 2012

change and transition

Whom shall I fear? 
Whom shall I fear? 
'cause I am Yours 
I am Yours.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

after two weeks

across the world
from my other life
the new one
but everything moves too fast
life goes on
I go on too
though I’m not sure how
when part of life
I left there
and while I haven’t forgotten
I am alone in my memories

Thursday, July 5, 2012

a few things I will remember

I rode down the road and through city traffic on the back of a motorbike; sidesaddle.

I learned to eat fish with the head and tail still intact.

I communicated in a language different than my mother tongue.

I learned to read and write; again.

I wept.

I prayed more often.

I was humbled.

I learned to draw blood with a simple needle and syringe.

I answered questions about my marital status and weight upon just meeting someone.

I ate rice for breakfast by choice.

I learned. and learned. and realized how much more I have to learn....

I was sick for a full week.

I took three or four showers a day.

I was welcomed in to strangers homes.

I went for morning runs on dusty gravel roads with children calling out after me.

I grew to appreciate the 5am rooster crowing and welcoming another day.

I learned to drive a motorbike.

I drove a motorbike through lakes of mud.

I fell off my motorbike.

I became charmed with the things that once bothered me.

I was invited to eat lunch with people I had never met.

I learned about thyroid disease, how to perform an EKG, and use ultrasound.

I drank coffee at a casino on a regular basis.

I bought eggs and coconuts from my neighbors.

I used a tiny bathroom with no sink.

I never needed hot water showers.

I made new friends.

I was pointed at and laughed at.

I was admired and complimented.

I felt hopeless and encouraged in the same day.

I wore jeans and long sleeves outside on hot days.

I thought in Khmer first.

I found Cambodian words and phrases more useful and appropriate than English ones.

I ate a cricket and a duck fetus.

I woke up to wat music too many mornings; and never got used to it.

I never did grow to love Cambodian music. I didn’t like it either.

I found cockroaches on my bathroom floor.

I went barefoot most of the day.

I received more compliments than ever in my life!

Thank you Cambodia.
I will remember with much fondness and much love.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. 
 -Isaiah 61:3

dear sister, 
you are now away from us here- 
and we miss you. 
but we rejoice you are with Jesus 
and your pain is gone! 
you will not be forgotten.
you raised your hands up in victory this day when you stood up, it now reminds me of the victory of where you now stand. praise God for his love for us! 
with all our love...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

clinic and home visits 2011-2012

Here is some of what my team and I have been up to this past year...

Sunday, June 10, 2012


she lay motionless on the mat
her skin ashen, and her bones protruding in places they shouldn’t
her feet were warm, and her legs were like those of a small child

but she is no longer a small child
and as I sat near her and brushed the hair back from her face,
I wondered how she got here

I cried
not only because she was so very ill
but for all the time she had been overlooked

for the life she lived without a mother;
and without anyone to fill that missing space

much of her life had been filled with pain and illness
it was too much for my mind to take in

I cried because she isn't the only one

for the children in this country
and mine, too
who no one looks after
who are alone and seemingly unloved

my heart broke open even further that night

we live in a world where we can ‘create’ our children with medicine and science
beautifully and wonderfully made
but this daughter lays dying on a mat
without anyone to hold her and kiss her face
and my mind keeps shouting,
‘what about the ones who are already here?’

and as I look at this one,
my broken heart is moved to act

Oh Lord, your heart breaks
and mine is breaking too

and tears still fall
because it hurts
and because I don’t understand…

but I sense You so clearly right there in our midst
as we draw near to the dying, the broken, and the alone

I know you are waiting with them
and I am waiting, too
as Your love leads me forward.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

just a few thoughts

So many words, thoughts, and emotions have been swirling around in my head these past months. I want to write, I need to write; but for whatever reason I don’t.

Today I am sitting here listening to old music and re-reading the first four chapters of ‘Blue Like Jazz’ –again for maybe the fourth time since I first discovered it seven years ago. Stories and thoughts of how Jesus is real; and yet faith in Christ is not something that can ever really be explained or put into words as such. As his friend in the story states- He has to happen to you…

Jesus happened to me quite a few years ago now. And still the pain and the brokenness and sin is still as real as it ever was; I am aware of it every day. I do believe He came to make me new; and to make everyone around me new too. It really is beautiful. And He has. And still life is hard, messy, painful because the story isn’t over yet.

There have been so many directions my heart has been pulled lately. But now I find myself rejoicing because I have peace. Deep, deep peace; that I know I wouldn’t have except that He gave it to me.  I went from panicked anxiety mixed with self doubt and failure to feeling full, alive, and hopeful.

A few days ago I purchased a one way ticket back to America. To Portland, a city that I absolutely love and think of as home. And still I wasn’t able to jump up and down with excitement. It isn’t yet real that I will soon leave this place, another version of home that I have come to know.  I am positive it will not be easy and lately I have had brief moments of anxiety when I think about how easy it is to transition to a culture that is so radically different than here; that I could easily feel like the life I am living now was only a dream.

And still there are small reminders that He has and will continue to redeem my living and working here for His glory, despite how it seems or feels to me. I know in theory I have made a difference; attempted to love. And most of the time it feels futile, or like I made too many mistakes. Earlier today I received one of the greatest compliments, though- which again reminded me that it really is ALL beyond my control and under His.

My teammate told me, ‘ I thought this a long time ago, but I realized I never told you. Before you leave to go back, I wanted to tell you that I like the way that you chose to be like the Khmer people, not just thinking about your own ways of doing things. You didn’t need things to be like the way you are used to, but you could do things like the way we do them. I don’t think about you like a foreign staff member, but I think of you like a Cambodian. You are like us. I can joke and have fun with you. You care so much about the people here; you talk to the children and call them cute- even if we don't think they are...’

My heart felt full and warm to hear these words. This was a tremendous compliment to me, and yet it seemed like nothing I would have expected to hear. I don’t often FEEL like I am much like my Cambodian teammates and neighbors. I hoped to show love and care to the people around me, but sometimes...

As I said before, the brokenness is real; in me as much as in the next person. 

By the grace of God, I have somehow communicated that love and care. And as I reflect on my time, comments like this remind me that He has used me, and that it was nothing that I did on my own.

Feeling grateful and filled with peace. Looking ahead with hope and expectation on all that is to come.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

[30!] hopes for the new year

it feels quite surreal to turn 30 years old; I decided I wanted to make a list of hopes and things I hope to do this year. I have a feeling the Lord is already at work doing something big. 30 ideas to make the most of living 30 years.

1. spend the night on the Oregon coast
2. cook and bake for others more often
3. make homemade chai
4. renew my nursing license
5. appreciate the rush of the city, the stillness of nature- appreciate each place I am in for the time I am in it
6. give all the glory to God
7. to grow deeper as a person of prayer
8. love a child
9. cook more often; use new ingredients
10. run at least 10 miles of forest park in portland
11. buy only fair trade coffee beans
12. spend at least one evening dancing
13. learn more about foster care/adoption
14. make new friends
15. read throughout the whole year; always be with a book to read
16. paint
17. meditate and memories the psalms
18. grow in medical knowledge and experience
19. learn more about photography (and my new camera!)
20. pray with others in their struggles and pain
21. share a bottle of red wine with my sister
22. write more often
23. wake up early on purpose
24. watch the sunset over at least two different oceans
25. pray for awareness and sensitivity
26. eat Ben and Jerry's halfbaked ice cream
27. continue to take photos every day
28. spend a day hiking
29. run a half marathon
30. advocate for children

Thursday, March 22, 2012


He opened up my eyes and heart,
bringing further clarity and direction to my gifts and purpose.

my heart burst with excitement
as I pondered and prayed about what form
these visions might take

for months I waited and prayed,
as I sensed what was beginning to unfold.
I had an idea;
but at first I remained uncommitted and objective

hesitant to commit; or to let my heart go there.

yet deep down; I knew this was it.
at least the work and the purpose

maybe the form would change;

but I couldn’t imagine work I would rather do.

I found myself wondering
how did I miss it
all this time…?

and there it was-
the opportunity I was hoping for
only waiting for acceptance.

I rejoiced
and slowly allowed my heart to open.
for awhile I remained in this space
of expectation and joy

and then

He said no.
this wasn’t it.
not now.

I thought it was perfect.
He said it wasn’t.

the vision remains
but the job;
no longer an option.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know where I am going.

for now, I mourn and wait.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


You said there were bigger problems than being paralyzed.

'your sins are forgiven.'

You have overcome sin.
I stand in awe.

Even when I can't feel it.

Even when people die in bloody traffic accidents; or from cancer in a quiet village.
When our attitudes get in the way of your command to love.
When men like Kony are still at work, and wars are being fought.
When I drive through the slum after dark, and I can't imagine calling it home.

Why? [not?]
When I cry because I don't know what any of it means, or what I am doing here.

When loneliness, tears, depression, and illness seem to have had the last word.

I stand on the promises of Jesus; He who has been here before. Who has overcome all of this [sin] He who has [absolute and final] authority. I believe it.

Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town. Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?” Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority.' Matthew 9:1-8

Saturday, February 18, 2012

thinking out loud

"Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child…” Mother Teresa

Recently those words came to mind; after reading them in a book over ten years ago. I was challenged to say them out loud in some form, if I ever had the opportunity. When was I going to have that opportunity? I don't know. I might be a bit on the liberal side; and still I believe it would be an honor and a privilege to be a part of that kind of dialogue.

Last week I heard that my patient had aborted her baby.

'I didn't want it,' she said.

I keep thinking about her. I wish I could have heard her heart first.
And shared mine too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I’m turning 30 in a few months. I have had a few near freak-out moments; seriously wondering what the next 10 years of my life might look like [not to mention the next year!] and feeling SO old. Being single, without children, and living in another country are enough to make me feel a bit of panic and wonder for just a brief moment what the Lord is really up to…

But I trust. I really honestly trust.

My wise friend J said something a few months ago that I keep coming back to.

‘The older I get, the more I realize I need to spend my life on things that matter. I don’t know how much time I have- I want all of the work I do to count. I don’t have time to waste.’

Not profound, but I keep thinking about it. Sometimes it feels like I have missed something all this time. But I know; we never get all the details or the whole story at the beginning…

Today the glimpse became more and more clear. I think today it became more of a vision. Although I still don’t know how it’s going to happen. I don’t know any of the details. Not even one.

I feel this tremendous sense of joy because some things are making a little sense; and also I’m left to wonder- why is this happening now?

I have a lot more questions than answers. Yet He keeps reminding me; He is ENOUGH.

He is enough when there are questions without answers, when I am incapable, and when I don’t even know which country I will live in a year from now.

When He asks things of me that don't make sense and seem quite impossible; He is enough.

When I know I will be met with the criticism, questions, and doubts of others; He is enough.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’” So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah.
1 Kings 17:8-16

He is enough.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

busy clinic

say good morning to six patients who are already waiting inside when we arrive. change flip flops. help sweep the floors and wipe down the tables and surfaces that got dusty over the weekend. set up the ultrasound machine. change the linen on the exam table. turn on the fan. pray together as a team. go back out to the waiting room and welcome another three patients that have arrived. call the first patient forward. check their weight and vital signs. ask some questions about how they’ve been feeling. record information in their notebook. bring the first patient back to meet the doctor. meet with each follow-up and new patient that is waiting to be seen; repeat previous process. get interrupted multiple times to make follow up appointments and draw blood samples for the first patients after their doctor visit is finished. record labs in the book. give the child waiting with his mom a piece of candy. realize the air conditioner in the office is leaking water. ask my teammate if he knows how to fix it. turn the fan on higher. answer personal questions about my weight and marital status. ask the shy 17 year old new patient for a urine sample. show her where the bathroom is as she nervously laughs. answer questions of my teammates. [we have too many patients, should we tell some to come back after lunch??] continue screening new patients. take their photo for our computer chart. examine their neck for a mass. listen to the 135 beats/minute heartbeat of seriously ill young woman. find enough medication for the cancer patient on hospice. check another urine sample. find more 10cc syringes when we run out of syringes in the cabinet. listen to my teammate give another ‘iodine talk.' print off more follow-up forms when we run out. make copies of the other clinic forms. stop when the printer ink runs out. see the smile of the woman who is now on correct medications after two years of wondering what is wrong with her. refill the water in the refrigerator. schedule another patient for an FNA (fine-needle aspiration) in April. attempt to make the FNA schedule reasonable. check the calendar again.. what day was that? answer other questions. realize I haven’t had any water all morning. drink water. take a deep breath.
this is a busy morning at the clinic….;)

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Today at church we celebrated communion together. A young man walked back to his seat holding a tiny cup of juice and the piece of bread he had just received. I watched with complete shock as he stopped near one of his friends, paused, and held up the tiny plastic cup with a big smile, and said “cheers!” as they clicked the plastic cups together.

I was immediately taken back to the strict teaching I received growing up in the Catholic Church. Under no circumstances do you smile, laugh, or even interact with anyone during this time. Bow your head, fold your hands, and don't say anything. Respect and reverence were taught and were of upmost importance for us as children in Catholic school.

I had to smile inside though.

I don’t think he meant to be disrespectful. I don’t know what he was thinking. But perhaps for him this time was just that; an occasion for celebration. A time for a big smile, and to share this special gift with a friend. An occasion to rejoice. To say “cheers” in the middle of church.

I looked down at the florescent red juice and the bit of dry bread in my hands.

It wasn’t the red wine and special cross-imprinted round wafer that was once so familiar to me.

On this ordinary Sunday morning somewhere in the middle of Southeast Asia, here we were.

The body of Christ.

The grown man behind me was wearing what looked like boxer shorts with cartoon characters on them. The woman near him was in her best traditional clothes. A little boy sat on the floor near my feet chewing on a piece of fruit; it’s juice dripping over his dirty feet and making small muddy puddles on the tile. The children in the front sang in their loudest voices. And the oldest man in church sat quietly in the front playing the bass guitar.

Most in the room would be considered poor by the world’s standards. Many don’t know how to read. Most didn’t grow up learning strict rules of respect and reverence when it comes to a relationship with God. Most of these people just show up as they are; trusting that God will meet them there.

I find it really beautiful.

So despite my initial shock of the ‘inappropriate behavior’ displayed, I found great joy and a smile in my heart as we celebrated the gift of God to us this morning in church.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

a glimpse

For a reason unknown to me, the Lord has placed a particular issue on my heart for as long as I can remember. I figured it would be significant in my life at some point- and yet it still doesn't make much sense to me.

This past year especially, He brings it to mind again and again. In different ways, through different circumstances, different people. I read stories about people I have never met, and find myself in tears often. Sometimes I still wonder why.

'Are you willing?' He seems to ask me.
'Are you willing as you are right now...?'

'Yes, Lord, I am willing.' Even though I don't understand where this is going...

I still don't know.

And yet, I wait.

I have caught a glimpse of the beginning of a new chapter on this journey. He doesn't tell me what to expect, but I think He has made it clear that it won't be easy. I think it might look like nights with little sleep. Lots of prayer and early mornings. Learning; and learning again. Being uncomfortable. Frustration, pain, tears. A loss of freedom and a change in lifestyle.
This past year I have been praying about sacrifice, selfishness, and control.
I like control.
I am selfish.
I want to live sacrificially.

Although I have the ultimate example, I am not really good at any of this...and I want to learn. For a long time now, I have had this longing to give of myself. To REALLY give. Yes, I have given. Somewhat. Yet I continue to sense that this isn't quite it- there is something else. I haven't discovered it yet. But I have prayed. I have asked. I have waited.

I am still waiting.

I still don't know where this is going; but for today, I am thankful for the glimpse.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Glory in shells

I made all of this! I am here; in each violet spot against the pure white, in each brown curve and iridescent sparkle. I created each one of these; designed every detail, every curve, color, and shape…

Your delight brings glory to my name.

This may be only a fraction of all I have created; yet I am honored as you notice each detail I formed, each color that I painted. I made this for you; that you would remember me as you marvel…

I know each shell, and each grain of sand. On this island. On every island.

And how much more do I know your heart…

'The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!'

Psalm 19:1-4, 139:17-18

Saturday, January 7, 2012

All things NEW

I am so overwhelmed with thoughts as 2012 begins...
Most of all, I am filled with hope for all the Lord is going to do in this new year.
I am excited.

(and I was blessed to have begun the new year on Koh Mak island, Thailand ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hebrews 13:3

This is a letter from a teammate of mine; please join us in remembering Auntie M and asking the Lord for justice and to show us His glory in this situation.

Dear Team,
Tonight we’ll all be sleeping in comfort. Our Auntie M has just been convicted and sentenced to jail for three years. She won’t be sleeping in comfort, but in a cramped room with seven other women. She has done nothing wrong, except for daring to speak up against some wrong done in her community. In revenge, she was accused of selling drugs. Shortly thereafter, her accuser freely confessed that he had lied, but by then, Auntie M was in jail. That happened in May. She has been held in the penitentiary ever since, without proof or an accuser.
This afternoon, I went along with M’s family to the sentencing. Inside the courthouse, we were told to wait in the lobby. Right up til the last minute, the officials were asking for money. In the end, the judge sentenced her without even allowing us into the courtroom. She took the sentencing alone. We didn’t know what was happening until she was being rushed out of the courtroom. She was sobbing, having being told that she was going to do three years in jail for a crime she never committed.
Afterwards, we all drove over to the jail. In an open air room on a dirty floor, we sat on a mat and listened as M poured her heart out in grief. Flies from the nearby garbage pile landed all over us as we talked together. At first, she cried as she recounted her hopeless looking situation, but soon she turned her concern for her children. Three of her kids were there, all in their late teens and twenties. Over and over again, she encouraged her children to live for Jesus. Of particular concern is her youngest daughter, who seems to be wandering away from the Lord. M talked about her own firm commitment to Him and of her dependence on Him. She said that she can bear with her incarceration, if only her she knows that her children are walking with the Savior.
Our hearts ache for Auntie M. She has only been a believer for a few short years, yet she has been through much more testing of her faith than most of us have been through in our lifetimes. Many of us have been praying for her to be free by Christmas, which has been her big hope. Humanly speaking, that seems impossible. The inner workings of the system have conspired against her. But we don’t believe the story is over. Although the judicial system here seems to have had the last word, maybe God has something else in mind. Yes, He makes everything work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We can trust Him. Will you please continue to pray for Auntie M that God will bless her and that His will will be done in her life? We’ll look forward to seeing how He is going to bring victory out of sorrow. Hebrews 13:3.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Immanuel; God is with us

'The Word that gives life

was from the beginning,

and this is the one

our message is about.

Our ears have heard,

our own eyes have seen,

and our hands touched

this Word.

The one who gives life appeared! We saw it happen, and we are witnesses to what we have seen. Now we are telling you about this eternal life that was with the Father and appeared to us. We are telling you what we have seen and heard, so that you may share in this life with us. And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing to tell you these things, because this makes us truly happy.' 1 John 1:1-4

These past weeks I have seen and touched and felt so much…

Last week I drove my motorbike down the long dusty road to visit one of my patients in the village. At one point along the way I hit a big rock and had my first experience of tipping it over into a ditch! While my arms and legs were a bit bruised and beat up, I was fine. I continued to travel with my teammates to a village in the middle of nowhere in order to sit in my patient’s house and give him refills of the medications that keep him comfortable as he loses his eyesight from the cancer that has spread to his brain. I got to hear my teammate pray for him, and share more about Jesus to his neighbors. I got to see the light in the eyes of the young girl who reads the word of God aloud for the first time, and asks in excitement about how she can learn and understand more. I got to see her smile when we told her about the church in her village.

Later that day, we made our way to a different patient's house. As the afternoon sun poured light through the slits in the wood panels of the house, I got to sit on the floor and watch the Jesus film in the Cambodian language with three other Cambodian women. My patient gasped with delight as she watched the disciples attempting to pull up their fishing nets which were bursting with fish.

Last Sunday I ran my first half marathon in Asia. That morning was a different kind of joy- refreshing cool morning air, running through trees and temples—with hordes of Cambodian children holding out their little hands for high-fives all along the route. As I ran, I was tired- I hadn’t trained enough- but running makes me feel alive and so thankful. Thankful for my health and thankful that running is possible (almost!) everywhere. I was also thankful to share the experience with many friends from near and far.

Yesterday I got to pray while my teammates and I assisted another teammate with some dental care. We don’t usually perform dental work, but this was a special case. We turned one of the exam rooms into a dental suite; with a special chair and all. It involved some extra steps like using a lighter in order to melt the plastic on our suction tubing to make it fit with the suction device… (hello medicine in the developing world!) and the doctor standing on a stepstool in order to be at the right angle. After 6 teeth were removed, I got to see the smile of a man who was so excited that his painful teeth were gone. He giggled with delight as we finished- he was so overjoyed that we could help him. Yes, it was all relatively simple-- but brought much joy to all of us.

I am thankful for this season of life here in Cambodia. And I am thankful for this season of the year—where I can remember the Word of Life who came down to earth to live amongst us. Who came to give us new life.

The gift of God’s Son coming to earth has meant a new life for me, and for many people here, too. My ears have heard, my eyes have seen, my hands have touched. And I am thankful for this gift; for God is still with us today.

‘...and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ Matthew 1:23

“God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

John 3:17

Thursday, November 24, 2011

the never ending [THANKFUL] list.

As I wrote my thankful list this year- in multiple start and stop sessions- I realized; the list never really ends. It seems I could list things on and on and on… and so eventually, even though I stop writing, the list is never complete. And that in itself is a reason to be thankful.

This year Colossians 2:7 came alive to me again; 

'Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.'

THEN your faith will grow strong in the truth, and [because of that] you will overflow with thankfulness. How great is God?! As we grow deeper in Him, our lives are continually built on Him, our faith grows strong, and we are overcome with thanksgiving. That feels like another thing to add to the list; yet another gift.

Here are just a few of the other things that made the list this year…

good beds; feather pillows, down comforters, cotton duvets
riding in a boat
the smell of sunscreen
Young Life
running a half marathon with my sister
lime, chili, lemongrass; the flavors of Asian food
baby powder
wearing long sleeves
going to a Twins game
holding a baby
free time
smells of plants on morning runs
reflections in a lake
always having enough
hot chocolate
a house with stable walls
rain and gray skies
clean tile floors
hand written letters
a nursing degree and it’s opportunities
chips, salsa, and guacamole
the big city
encouragement and inspiration
being trusted

Sunday, October 30, 2011

a "God" issue

This evening I went for a run, and listened to a podcast that somehow made it on to my ipod, although truthfully I don't remember how. It was from pastor David Platt, and titled "The Child Yet Unborn."

My true confession for today is that I don't know why I would have chosen to download this message, or even really how it got on my computer. I would not have called myself "pro-choice"; but very honestly, abortion wasn't one of the issues that broke my heart each time I thought about it. Truthfully it was a subject that made me cringe. It frustrated me how much of a political issue it had become, and how people are being senselessly killed and ignored around the world everyday; yet it seemed as though the "pro-life" activists didn't notice or care about these other lives that were out of sight. I always thought, 'What about these people [like the ones I am in contact with every day] that it feels like the world has forgotten? Why aren't we equally fighting for them??'

And I pray I will remain sensitive; to these and to ALL life.

But tonight my eyes were opened again to the sovereignty and majesty and the HEART of the God who created the world, and each one of us. He is SO good, SO mighty, and SO worthy of our praise and humility.

Please take the time to listen to the words [God's Words] which He used to change my heart, open my eyes, and make me weep tonight. Be challenged, convicted, and transformed by God's Word and His deep love for each of us.

The Child Yet Unborn 7/3/11 [#17]

Friday, October 28, 2011


It was a usual visit morning. We had met, prayed together, navigated the roads, and made it to our patient’s house. But today was special. I found myself sitting on the bamboo of the dwelling my patient called home, listening to my teammate share about Jesus to those who had never heard. It was beautiful- the genuine open eyes, actively listening. I heard the words; “We have never heard this before. Today is the first time.”

It was beautiful, really.
Really beautiful.

And yet, my heart struggled in my lack of understanding. In doubt. I wanted to be joyful, but for some reason felt so inadequate. Oh, Father! Why did you choose us; selfish and imperfect, to share these important truths of who you are? Lord, are you really sure you want to use US-- surely there is a better way?! How is it that WE can be vessels of such good news? I know we aren’t adequate.... Oh Lord, enter in…

As I struggled to understand the good news in another language, I was frustrated with myself over words I didn’t know, and concepts I didn’t know how to express.

I struggled wondering if our friends really understood, and so badly wanting them to…

The roads were bumpy, the air was filled with dust. I was hot, and my arms were getting sunburned. I was thirsty and tired. I was sick of the staring eyes and the jeers from onlookers about how the white girl drives. My attitude was poor.

Today was one of those days; I felt so useless.

And yet, what I had experienced and seen; only hours before!

I had forgotten; and I still forget. He is bigger than the imperfection of this world around me.

Even when we don’t speak clearly.
Or the road is bumpy and long.
Or I am tired.

He said; “Who will go?”

[We said we would]

He said;
‘My grace is sufficient;
my power is made perfect in weakness.’

[This makes it possible for me to be here]

Thank you God; that you are bigger than me.

'but now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! With all this going for us, my dear friends, stand your ground. And don't hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.' 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, the message

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

a few random stories from life here...

last weekend, a poor village woman shared with my friend about how she and her husband had been affected by the recent flooding:

We had no money. Thank God that someone gave me 30Baht ($1), so we could eat that day. Then my husband and I prayed that God would show us how we could get money for food. Praise God, we were able to catch 2 kgs of frogs; which we sold at the market. Then we had money again. Look how God provided for us!

a few weeks ago, we had a plan to visit a patient of ours in a nearby village. we didn’t have a clear address or phone number. as we drove down the road, we encountered what appeared to be a lake; overtaking the whole road. SO much water! yet we saw another moto driver coming our way, which meant the water wasn’t too deep- we could move forward! we kept driving; stopping along the way, asking various people “do you know where so and so lives?” someone said her house had a red roof. so then the question changed to, “do you know where the house with the red roof is?” we kept being directed forward. by this point, I have learned not to doubt that my teammates know how to navigate the remote village roads. it might take awhile, but we seem to always arrive. but we didn’t arrive at the house with the red roof. instead, we encountered another “lake” that had overtaken the road. and there she was, our patient. chest high in the deep water, washing her clothes with a neighbor!

this week, my longing for fall baking in America took me to the market, in order to buy a pumpkin. I was determined to at least try to go all out and bake at least one thing this season with fresh pumpkin, since I didn’t have the option of using canned. it might have been a bit more work (cutting, boiling, and pureeing!) and the batter looked really awful, honestly. I wondered if I had made a big mistake about halfway through. but, I was delighted to remove the bread from the oven, and it looked and tasted exactly like I remembered! today I brought some of the pumpkin muffins I made to a few Cambodian friends. I was not sure if they would like them or not. they were the most interested to understand the baking process- but I think they were a bit afraid to actually taste them! In Cambodian language if you don’t like something, it literally translates to “I don’t know how to eat it” They all said that they “were able" to eat them; but I don’t know if I would say they were a huge hit. I think the excitement was more about baking a sweet using pumpkin. the best comment; “they smell like Chinese medicine.”


how to describe cinnamon to someone who has never tasted it...!?