Tuesday, December 29

Jabez's Prayer and Mine

*Verses in italics taken from 1 Chronicles 4:9,10

I've not studied the prayer of Jabez much before, but it intrigues me. It seems slightly random in the midst of a long genealogy, which implies to me that it must have great significance, important enough to interrupt what was being written.

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.'

God has many names. Maybe this isn't significant, but I find it interesting that Jabez cried out to the God of Israel. Not the Lord Almighty, but God of Israel. Jabez made it personal; he cried out to the God of his heritage, the God who made a covenant with his ancestor, Israel.

I like his request also. He asks for God's blessing, for life abundant, but what's more is that he solicits God's presence-- Let your hand be with me.

But the most interesting part to me is Jabez's last petition-- and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain. The reason this means so much has to do with Jabez's name. Jabez is very similar to the Hebrew word for pain.

His mother had named him Jabez, saying, 'I gave birth to him in pain.'

Jabez's plea is to be free from pain, free from his born identity. In this request, I see Jabez's desire to be free from his past and his destined future from birth. Though his mother named him pain, Jabez wants a new name, a new future.

I, too, was born with an inherited name: Sinner. And like Jabez, I can cry out to the God of Israel, the God who made a covenant to redeem sinners and place enmity between sin and His children. I can entreat God to bless me with life abundant, to grace me with His presence, and to grant me freedom from sin.

And God granted [Jabez's] request.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." ~Revelation 2:17

Saturday, December 26


Peter, measuring the snow

Clark, camouflaged

Megan, mostly buried

Gilbert, stuck

A rather sad snowman, Tom



Cricket loves snow

But not that much...

It's ok, she got revenge :)

My favorite tree at home

Mom and me

Saturday, December 12

Post Hoc

This is directly stolen from Christen's Creative Writing blog. It makes me laugh, and I thought I would share because we could all use a laugh now and then. I love my roommate.

Kristin: So in statistics there are two post-hoc tests that we run. The first one is called Bonferroni, which sounds like some misfit type of pasta, and the second is the Tukey test, which always looks like "turkey" mispelled, and sounds like you're calling a toucan. "Here, tukey, tukey, tukey, tukey."

Christen: (laughing uncontrollably)

Thursday, December 3

Truly Alive

The world has lost a beautiful soul and a bright light for Christ. I went to Kirsten Wolcott's memorial service tonight and finally allowed what happened to sink in.

I didn't know her, but I wish I had. Every description given of Kirsten gave the impression of a young woman just bursting with life and love. She loved the outdoors, she was active, she was kind, cheerful, spontaneous, and full of adventure. I know that at memorial services, we tend to focus only on the positive, but I truly got the impression that Kirsten was a wholehearted servant of God who loved life and loved others.

As I sat there, I asked the question that everyone must have asked when they first heard the news. "God, why her?" But I asked for a different reason.

I didn't ask God why because Kirsten was a good person and awful things shouldn't happen to God's servants. I asked because it seemed like a strategically bad move to me on God's part in this great controversy. And I know deep down that God sees the beginning and the end; He has the whole picture already, and He knows best. But I couldn't help but think it for one reason. Because I asked God, "why not me?"

As I listened to the word pictures of who Kirsten was, I couldn't help but think that she had so much to offer the world. And the thought crossed my mind that her life sounds like a much better testimony of God than I feel that my life currently is. And so I thought, "God, why not me?"

But I realized that God has a plan in this mess, and I'm still here while Kirsten is resting from this sin-sick world. And it was at that point that I made a decision. It's a decision I've made before to be sure, so I suppose it was more of a re-commitment.

I want to be a light. I want my life to make a difference to every individual God places in my path. I want to be cheerful, uplifting, and vibrant for God. I want to make the most of this life that God has given me. Because I'm still here, and that must mean that God still has big plans for my life.

In honor of Kirsten, in honor of Kaleb, in honor of all God's beloved children laid to rest, I want to be truly alive in Christ.

Thursday, November 26

Musings on Cleaning

Every once in a while I go on a cleaning spree. I just get the overwhelming urge to do a thorough cleaning of everything. Today was one of those days. And I always feel so much better when I'm done. Everything looks so nice and orderly, and it smells of clean smells-- the pinesol kind, not the bleach kind.

I think perhaps I ought to try this with my life. I think every once in a while my heart deserves a thorough scrubbing; not just the daily surface clean, but a deep clean. I'm sure I would feel so much better afterward. And maybe my life would emanate a sweeter smell to my Jesus.

Wednesday, November 25

I miss my African family

Home sweet hut

Pierre at work

Hawaa, proud of the family millet field

Innocent at clinicals

Bruno at home on the well

Berthe and me

Ruth (has one of the most beautiful smiles) and sweet Esther

Twister with the girls

Esther and ever confident Anne (one of my favorite pictures)

Little Dorcas

And spoiled baby Bezalel

Another beautiful African sunset

Sunday, November 15

Sugar and Spice and Cranky Bears

Christen shared this quote found on the box of the Throat Soothers tea that she so kindly offered me:

"A sore, scratchy throat can turn the most even-tempered soul into cranky bear."

Just in case there is any merit in this statement, I'm off to bed after my cup of tea in the hopes of taming this possibly cranky bear back into a sweet-tempered girl.

Saturday, November 14


After posting this, I realized that it could use a bit of explanation. I debated on whether or not to expound and decided perhaps I ought. This is not directed at any particular person. It is expressing a general dislike for the deterioration of friendships.

"How are you?"
You make the polite inquiry.
I reply in like fashion, and
The empty conversation flows

For about five minutes.
We once talked for hours.
But times have changed--
We sprang forward
Only to fall back again.

Now you're wrapping things up;
Soon you'll walk away,
And I'm sorry to say,
I'm not pleased to make your acquaintance.

Monday, November 9

"Every act of life is a revelation of character" ~PK, p. 218

Wednesday, November 4


... incongruous. I'm sitting here in the student center in my traditional Tchadian dress with my laptop and wireless internet. Earlier today, in the same garb, as I was talking on my cell phone with perfect clarity and no sound delay, I felt almost like an impostor-- like I was claiming two cultures at once.

It makes me think of another very similar inconsistency in my life that I don't as often recognize.

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Strange Business

I had a very strange voicemail message on my phone earlier this afternoon. It left me quite perplexed. The number from the missed call was the same area code as my hometown, but I didn't recognize it. So I listened to my voicemail in which a nice lady informed me that she was calling about scheduling me for a first interview.

I, not having ever applied for any positions near home, was sure there had to be some mix-up. So I called the nice lady back.

"This is Vivian*."

"Hi, my name is Kristin. I received a call about an interview?" I asked in uncertain tones.

"Yes, we'd like to schedule you for a first interview."

"Oh. What is the name of your company?"

"Banker's Life," she replied, as if there were nothing in the world wrong with the fact that I, the supposed applicant, hadn't a clue as to the name of the company.

"Well, I'm just slightly confused," I began slowly. "I don't actually ever remember applying for a position with your company."

"What's your email address?"

Following a brief period of confusion at the randomness of the question, I proceeded to tell Vivian my email address when she explained to me that sometimes they get resumés from a site online, and if she can look up my email address she can tell if I applied or if her company found my resumé online.

Sure enough, I had never applied. My resumé was somehow chosen from an online database of resumés that I had never heard of. I wasn't even aware that those sites existed until that very moment, in fact.

"Well, we'd really like to get you scheduled for your first interview, and we have an opening this Monday," she said enthusiastically.

"Well, you see, I'm actually in school in Tennessee to finish my nursing degree. So, I'm not really interested in a position with your company at this time. But thank you anyway."

Two things: I'm not sure how my resumé is floating around on some site that I never gave permission to advertise my information, and I find it unfortunate that I received a call for a job I never applied for, and can't for the life of me seem to get a call back on the many positions that I have applied for. But at the end of the day, I remind myself that if God wanted me to have a job right now, He would provide it.

*Name changed

Thursday, October 29

Sweet Dreams

Warning: this blog is completely random. But I had to share.

This morning when I woke up, I was thoroughly perplexed. I woke up from a dream in which I had returned to Tchad to visit. In my dream I was overwhelmingly joyed (is that a word?) at the prospect of being there, and I was just soaking it all in. It was nighttime in my dream and all the patients in the hospital were getting ready to go to sleep, and I was going to sleep there with them. So I went around to each patient and began talking to them, playing with the children a little. One small child of about 2 years old kept trying to escape and run out the door, so I kindly returned her to her parents and gently admonished her not to escape. Here's the really cool part of this whole dream: I was dreaming in French. I was speaking to them in French in my dream. How random is that?

Monday, October 26

Thoroughly Rebuked

This semester has been a challenging one in many ways, both related and unrelated to school. However, tonight as I was reading in Ministry of Healing for one of my classes, I was inspired and thoroughly rebuked by one particular chapter I read. I would highly recommend any and all of you to read it (entitled "Mind Cure"). Here are some quotes that really struck deep in my heart. If you don't have the time to read all of these quotes, or the chapter in Ministry of Healing, at least read the last quote.

For every trial, God has provided help. (Note the verb tense)

Song is a weapon that we can always use against discouragement.

We are not to let the future, with its hard problems, its unsatisfying prospects, make our hearts faint, our knees tremble, our hands hang down. "Let him take hold of My strength," says the Mighty One, "that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me." Isaiah 27:5. Those who surrender their lives to His guidance and to His service will never be placed in a position for which He has not made provision.

In the way that leads to the City of God there are no difficulties which those who trust in Him may not overcome. There are no dangers which they may not escape. There is not a sorrow, not a grievance, not a human weakness, for which He has not provided a remedy.

We are not to dwell on the great power of Satan to overcome us. Often we give ourselves into his hands by talking of his power. Let us talk instead of the great power of God to bind up all our interests with His own. Tell of the matchless power of Christ, and speak of His glory.

If we are heaven-bound, how can we go as a band of mourners, groaning and complaining all along the way to our Father's house? (This quote in particular I felt to be a direct rebuke to myself. I have been overwhelmingly negative this semester, and I would like to ask each of my friends a favor-- that if you ever hear me complaining or being negative, please stop me, mid-sentence if necessary, and tell me to think of something to praise my God for.)

While words express thoughts, it is also true that thoughts follow words. If we would give more expression to our faith, rejoice more in the blessings that we know we have,-- the great mercy and love of God,-- we should have more faith and greater joy.

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18. This command is an assurance that even the things which appear to be against us will work for our good. God would not bid us be thankful for that which would do us harm.

Thursday, October 15

Pygmalion Effect

A few weeks ago I had nursing clinicals at a high school in downtown Chattanooga. I, along with two other girls, was going to teach certain health topics to 9th and 10th graders in the JROTC program. My experience there was not at all what I had expected.

We taught to three different sections of students, all with the same retired naval officer for a teacher. The teacher was quite hospitable to us in his classroom, offering to do whatever he could to help us get set up. However, he also "helped" us by warning us about different kids and classes that we would be in charge of teaching.

"Oh, ya'll are talking about drugs and alcohol? You'll see one girl who's a fetal alcohol syndrome kid, and you'll see some crack babies too. See if you can guess who they are and then I'll tell you."

I was uncomfortable with him sharing this information, and rather irked that he would even mention something like that. What do I need to know that for? And why should it matter?

The day continued, speckled with these harsh comments and informatives.

"Aww, he don't know nothin' don't listen to him."

"Ya'll are talking about pills? Oh, he can tell you all about that."

And these were just the comments directed toward me and my fellow nursing classmates, to make no mention of the comments he directed towards his students, and all in plain hearing of the entire classroom.

By the end of the day, I could feel the anger inside me rising with each painful jab he made. I thought of those teens; most of them are faced with the same degrading, faithless remarks day after day after day from their family, their friends, and their teachers. Every day, it is impressed further upon their minds that they are worthless and will never amount to anything. And I couldn't help but think that I was sitting in the midst of a classroom full of nearly lost potential. I was seeing the Pygmalion effect in action. These students were living up to exactly what was expected of them-- nothing more and nothing less.

My fellow nursing classmates and I did our very best to treat them with the exact opposite attitude of their teacher. But that was just one day of their lives. I couldn't help but be saddened at the thought of the prospects of their lives if this cycle continues. And I pray that God intervenes to bring them out of the pits that Satan has dug them into.

But in thinking of all this, I was relieved to know that there is One who has full faith in each of our potentials. God expects great things of each of us, and I hope that we can each see the expectations that He has of us. Because in the end, the majority of people will be what they feel they are expected to be.

Sunday, October 4

High Time for an Insouciant Post

In our humble Poplar apartment, a silent, subtle battle is being waged-- The Battle of Arthur Mestat.

Upon entrance into our abode, I occasion to sense the cold chill and promptly persuade Arthur Mestat to my side. The temperature rises, and though slight in degree, the change is noticeable to me. I settle down, somewhat cozied and comforted at the thought of having won dear Arthur. Until my next leave of absence, in which the opposition regains Arthur Mestat's sway, and the crisp coolness settles over the apartment once more.

With the frost of autumn and winter fast approaching, it is to be hoped that soon this battle will be ended. It is to be hoped that soon Arthur Mestat will be permanently persuaded to remain faithful to my cause, and perhaps my opposition will see the light as well. This is my ambitious conquest for these autumn and winter seasons.

Thursday, September 24

Even If a Humble Toe

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body." ~1 Corinthians 12:12, 18-20.

Lately, I think I've been slightly discontent with who I am, and have been wishing to be otherwise in some way or another. But tonight God is reminding me that He is the Master Creator behind this unique reflection of His image. He has placed me in the body of Christ exactly where He wants me to be and in the capacity He sees fit, "as it hath pleased him."

May I live my life to please and glorify You. Vivere vix Deus.

Saturday, September 12

Come Away

Once again, my God is good. Somehow in the midst of this weekend that was supposed to rejuvenate me and help me learn to cope with reverse culture shock (which I think I'm only very mildly experiencing), Satan found his way in. Much of this day, he's been whispering lies of inadequacy and insignificance in my head, and I believed him.

Upon my return to my apartment, I decided I was not ready to enter. I needed to come away a while and spend some more time with my God. He had some lies to set straight, and some reassurance to give me. So I found a patch of grass that looked inviting, laid down and talked to God.

Have you ever just really, desperately felt a need to feel and know God's Presence is with you? As I laid there, I knew in my head that God was right there with me. I knew it because He's promised never to leave me nor forsake me. But my heart was wanting to doubt. I prayed and prayed that God would let me know He was near; I prayed that God would remind me somehow of how very much I am loved. I knew in my head that God has blessed me with some of the most amazing friends, and I know that they care about me, but I was feeling alone and insignificant (it's part of the curse of being an F rather than a T; I can't even reason with myself sometimes).

So I waited in silence. No great gust of wind came. There was no flash of lightning in the sky. But after a few minutes, the thought came to me, "Start walking." I was disappointed. I didn't want to leave that place without a reassurance. But I got up and started walking toward my apartment. As I came to the crosswalk, I saw a familiar face driving by. It was Jen. She stopped and began to talk to me.

"Do you want to talk for a bit?" she asked. Apparently I'm not particularly skilled at hiding my emotions (again, the curse of the F). At first I told her that I really shouldn't; I ought to go back to my apartment.

"Are you sure?" she persisted.

I was about to resist again, when I thought, "How ridiculous am I?" Here I'd just finished praying to God and telling Him how alone and uncared for I was feeling at the moment, and I was about to reject an opportunity to spend some time with a good friend who wanted to show that she cared.

I got in the car, and we just drove around a bit. Talked a little. Mostly sat in silence. But it was just what I needed at the moment.

And so I'm ever so grateful for good friends, and even more for a God who loves me enough to orchestrate divine appointments and to provide just what I need when I need it. I pray that I will learn more and more to have faith in God's love even when I don't necessarily feel it.

I walk to the meadow, and stare at the flowers-
Better dressed than any girl on her wedding day.
So why do I worry? Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need, You know what I need.

Saturday, September 5


My hands hold safely to my dreams
Clutching tightly not one has fallen.
So many years I’ve shaped each one
Reflecting my heart, showing who I am.
Now You’re asking me to show
What I’m holding oh so tightly.
Can’t open my hands, can’t let go
Does it matter?
Should I show You?
Can’t You let me go?

Surrender, surrender
You whisper gently
You say I will be free
I know but can’t You see
My dreams are me, my dreams are me.

Say You have a plan for me,
And that You want the best for my life.
Told me the world had yet to see
What You can do with one
That’s committed to Your call.
I know of course what I should do
That I can’t hold these dreams forever.
But if I give them now to You
Will You take them
Away forever?
Or can I dream again?

Surrender, surrender
You whisper gently
You say I will be free
I know but can’t You see
My dreams are me, my dreams are me.


Tuesday, September 1

Blessings of Time

Today God is teaching me a comforting lesson. I say "is teaching" because I'm still trying to completely let go of my anxiety. Sometimes I don't understand why it's so hard for me to trust and rely on God when He gives me such obvious evidence of His supremacy over all time and circumstances. But I suppose I'm an Israelite at heart.

I'm trying to incorporate a consistent exercise schedule into my life this year at Southern. Being in Africa and losing my ability to stay physically active and healthy has given me a huge appreciation for my health and fitness. This morning, I was a little late in getting up to go running, but instead of rushing through my devotions to make sure I could fit everything in, I made a conscious effort to take my time and focus on devotions that I could receive the full blessing God had in store for me this morning.

When I got back from running, I realized that it was going to be a scramble to shower, dress, and eat before walking over to class. So I hurried. But I've hurried before, and I've never gotten ready as quickly as I did this morning. The amazing thing is, while quickly getting ready this morning, I didn't feel particularly rushed. I didn't inhale my food, though I ate quickly. I still made sure that my hair was presentable (Christy, you would be proud of how quickly a state of presentable was achieved). I didn't bolt out the door and forget anything I needed. In fact, I left earlier today than I was able to yesterday, and made it to class with several minutes to spare.

This morning God not only blessed me with His word, but He blessed me with a gift of time. Because I had chosen to honor God and be a good steward of the time He had given me, He saw fit to bless me with more.

What does this have to do with the lesson God is teaching me? Well, I'm taking a slightly more than full load of classes. In going over the syllabi for each of my classes, I've felt more and more overwhelmed with the amount of clinicals, projects and papers I will have to write. On top of that, I might be petitioning to add another class to my load along with a job. All of these circumstances have caused me to feel a sense of panic rising in me. But each time today that I've begun to feel panicked or overwhelmed, God has reminded me that He is Lord over all time, and that if I'm following in the way that He's leading, He is taking care of me and will continue to do so.

I've been reading in Patriarchs and Prophets, and recently read about the Israelites and the golden calf. Ellen White writes of how grave the sin of the golden calf was, and especially because they did it while at the base of Mt. Sinai in the very presence of the cloud of God's glory. While there was a huge cloud and thunder covering Mt. Sinai in plain sight, the Israelites betrayed the very God who saved them and made himself known to them just a few weeks before. When I read things like that, I'm astounded at the Israelites' feeble faith, and yet I do the same thing day after day when I worry about life's troubles.

Especially in the past few weeks, God has shown Himself faithful to me in even the smallest details, and has reassured me in tangible ways that He is taking care of me. And here I sit, anxious about tomorrow before it even arrives.

God give me faith to believe that I might not break Your heart with my distrust. Matthew 6:25-34.

Friday, August 28

Evening on a Porch Swing

We sat together in silence on the porch swing, my feet dangling as he rocked us gently with his feet firmly planted on the deck.

"You have such pretty feet. So small and delicate," he broke the quiet.

"That's funny, I've never been particularly fond of my feet."

"Why not?" his level voice challenged my dismissal of his compliment.

"They have so many scars on them. I don't think that's very beautiful," I equaled his tone and our banter began.

The swing halted. "You know, the most beautiful Man in the universe has scars on his feet."

"Yeah, but at least the scars on His feet tell of a noble act. An act of love. All my scars can boast is foolishness and failure."

Silence settled over us as the swing commenced swaying again. I rested my back against the back of the swing, confident of my victory.

"Well. That may be true," he started once more. "But that's what makes the scars on his feet all the more beautiful."

"What do you mean?"

"His scars of love are permanent so that our scars of foolishness and failure don't have to be."

Friday, August 21

Wonderings: An Abridged Version

The following are some questions that I've contemplated within the past few months. Several of these questions have sparked rather interesting discussions. I've also enjoyed hearing some of my friends' answers to a few of these questions because it has given me some insight into their priorities and values. In any case, I'm putting them out here. I'd love to hear answers to any or all of the questions here if you care to share (either anonymously or under your name). Or, if you don't feel like sharing your answers, I hope that you enjoy an opportunity to exercise some introspection.

What is the biggest compliment anyone has ever paid you?

(I'm stealing this next one; a friend of mine asked me once, and I enjoyed the discussion it brought about) Who are two of your favorite Bible characters, and why? Or, what are two of your favorite Bible stories, and why?

What does your name mean? Do you think that it's fitting for you?

If there were one thing you want people to say about you, one thing that you want people to see about the way you live life, what would it be?

There are many reasons that people get married; what, primarily, is the reason that you would want to get married someday?

What are your spiritual gifts? I know, that's a really direct and difficult question. For a long time I didn't think I had any, at least not any I could think of. So I prayed and asked God to show me what my spiritual gift was. I think when we force ourselves to think about and make ourselves aware of what our spiritual gifts are, we're more likely to be intentional about using them.

What is your goal in life? What would be your ideal lifework? I feel that this question must be qualified; most people who read my blog would say something along the lines of wanting to do whatever is God's will for their life. So, if you would like, you can read that as, what is your dream for how you would like to serve God? I believe God has given us each different talents, goals, and visions for how to best serve Him; what are yours?

Tuesday, August 18

Moose Pond

Christy and I had a day off together this summer. Just one. So we decided to do something different; instead of hiking a high peak, we chose a lovely little flat hike to Moose Pond. The description to find the trailhead was quite specific: There is a footbridge that is clearly visible from the road. An old road descends for about 200 yards between fences.

We found a nice bridge clearly visible from the road, pulled off in the designated area and our adventure began. Christy commented, "That's odd that there's a gate barring the path," as we climbed over. We also saw no fences and the trailhead began about 10 feet from the road rather than 200 yards, but how accurate are those guide books really? A few feet in, Christy noticed a small sign mostly covered by tall grass: No Trespassing. So we pressed on.

Not too far into our hike, we were thronged by a vast host of famished mosquitoes, and our trail quickly opened up into a small cleared field that looked like a somewhat abandoned garden. And there was an old tractor. We went a little further on the trail that we found on the other side of the clearing and finally decided that this couldn't be the trail to Moose Pond and if it was, then it wasn't worth hiking.

We ran back to escape the plague of mosquitoes, got in the car and decided to try to look for the trailhead again. Out came the guide book for a consultation. This yielded the result of finding another pull off, but no footbridge in sight. We decided to explore anyway. As we walked down the old dirt road between two fences, we finally caught a glimpse of our footbridge.
Somewhere amidst those trees is our footbridge that is "clearly visible from the road"

The footbridge
After that the hike itself was rather uneventful except for Christy slapping my back every three seconds to kill the vampire mosquitoes on my neck. Our trail ended at Moose Pond where we spent some time relaxing on the rocks and enjoying the pond. We saw a loon land on the pond, and then we saw an elderly couple come by in their fishing boat. They told us about a beaver that had been following them, so we watched for it to come by.

The Loch Ness Mons-- umm beaver

And that was the end of our hiking adventure. After hiking, we went into Saranac Lake to visit some of the little shops. We ended up talking to a photographer in his studio (see Christy's Blog) and a painter in her studio. Great fun was had by all.

Random truck we were following

Oh, and I almost forgot. The night before our hike, we went out on the lake and Christy and Joel wakeboarded, which I only wanted to mention so I could have an excuse to post some pictures.