Monday, April 24, 2017

What do I do with Jesus when the retreat weekend is over?

James 1:23-27 says "Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works — this person will be blessed in what he does.”

This was the focal verse for a youth retreat I attended this past weekend. The theme of the weekend was "Don't be a Couch Potato". It reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend several months ago. Her church had just finished a weekend youth retreat and she expressed her frustration with how youth often come back from retreats and camp fired up for Jesus but in 1-2 weeks time half of them are not even attending church much less continuing personal Bible study.

Our speaker this weekend was Ryan Young.  In one of his sermons he noted that many student leaders spend less than 10 minutes a week in personal Bible study. Before you begin to shake your head about how our young people need to spend more time in the Word of God, ask yourself how much time have you spent in the Bible in the past 7 days?

Often times we use a retreat or camp or revival service to look deeply at ourselves in the spiritual mirror of the Bible. We have good intentions of making the needed changes to our lives to live more dedicated to Christ. To follow Him and serve Him more deeply. But as the weeks go by we begin to slip into old habits. Much like when we go to our favorite hairstylist for a cut and color. We watch closely as she blow dries our hair and styles it perfectly. We memorize her movements and buy the same products she uses so we can recreate this salon look at home. But a few days into our new resolve to have perfectly coifed hair everyday we begin to run out of time. The alarm doesn't go off or the kids don't want to get dressed and we think "just this once I'm going to pull my hair into a ponytail and let it be." Then another day goes by and that ponytail look is so much more convient. We have forgotten what we looked like in the mirror.

Retreats and camps are great. They nourish the soul and give us rest from a world consumed with strife. But if we come back unchanged we have missed the point. Let the Word of God change you. Let Jesus make you different today than what you were yesterday. Resolve to spend time reading and studying God's Word everyday. Let God reveal how you can follow Him more closely. Then do something about it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Politics and toddlers

It was 8 AM on a Tuesday morning. I was supposed to be at work or at the very least on my way to work. Instead I was standing in my pjs staring at the clothes in my closet trying to find something that matched but did not require ironing. It was at that moment my super sonic mama ears heard sloshing in the other bathroom. Considering that the only other person home with me was my newly toilet trained 3 y/o I knew nothing good could be happening.

I flew down the hall in my sock feet to find said 3 y/o with his pants at his ankles plunging the toilet in the hall bathroom. He was actually trying to clean some debris left from another child and grabbed the plunger instead of the toilet scrubber. And while I applaud his dedication to cleanliness and his willingness to help me out by cleaning the toilet, all I could think about is that this is the child who likes to suck on his fingers. Fingers that just held a plunger while debris containing water sloshed everywhere. After cleaning up the mess (and this was the smallest of the bathroom messes he has made this week) I finally was on my way to work.

When we were finally loaded in the car and our way to work all I heard on the radio was North Korea vs Donald Trump.  Who would do what, when would it happen, best case senario vs worst case scenario....blah, blah, blah. Now I know that someone has to deal with mad dictators. And it's important to be up to date on matters going on in our world. I must say I'm glad I'm not the one dealing with it.

It seems there are two parts of reality right now. The reality of big worldly matters like nuclear bombs , protests and Russian planes in the wrong airspace. And then there's the Mom reality. This reality includes making sure all the little people in our lives are fed, clean and safe. When these basic needs are met then we have to address bigger concerns. Like teaching those little people to be kind, compassionate and loving...and yes, not to play in toilets.

There is little I can do to influence the bigger reality of the world I live in. I pray...everyday...and that is the biggest thing I can do. And yes I can call or write my Senator and/or Representative. I can even tweet POTUS. But what happens there is not up me or you.

So, Mama's, in the face of uncertain times in and uncertain world and reality we can't control we have to let go of our fears and anxieties of the outside world. Look around at what you can influence. I want to make my world and the world my children live in safer and happier. If you will teach your children and I teach my children how to be kind, loving and compassionate then together we can change the world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Embracing the brokenness

I recently finished an online Bible study hosted by Love God Greatly called Broken and Redeemed. Towards the end of that study my church's women's ministry started a study based on the book The Broken Way by Ann Voscamp. With this much focus on brokenness I began to pray and ask God what He is trying to teach me.

I don't have extraordinary brokenness in my life. No terrible trauma that has taken years and counseling to resolve. I have the ordinary kind of brokenness. The difficulties life brings because we live in a fallen world kind of brokenness. Nevertheless, I have persisted in this study of brokenness.

I deal with it everyday. For 17 years I have been nurse. People come to me expecting me to be a able to heal their physical brokenness or at least put a patch on it so they can go a few more miles down the road. I had seen people ignore their brokenness and deny it hoping it will go away. I have witnessed others attack their brokenness with all they have to give in an effort to fix it. As a mother my children are forever bringing me broken toys that need to be put back together or broken clothes for mending.

And yet I prayed .... But I'm not broken Lord...what is this all about?

 Then came the study of adultery...But Lord, surely this doesn't apply to me...I've never been unfaithful...

" Adulteresses! Don't you know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? So whoever wants to be the world's friend becomes God's enemy" James 4:4

That verse struck me...hard. Although I have never been unfaithful to my husband there are many times I have been lured in by the shiny, sparkly things of this world. Now hear me out, I don't think it's sinful to have nice things. But when we become so caught up in having nice things and having  things the way we want them that those shiny, sparkly things become the focus of our lives, things are broken.

 I am broken.

Jesus knows broken. He embraces broken. He came to be broken for you and for me. His brokenness heals all of my broken places. If I will let Him.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Golden Years of Parenting

I realized recently that we have entered what I will call the Golden Years of parenting. Our third (and NOT ask me if/when we are having more the answer is NO!) child is FINALLY potty trained. This means that for the first time in 10 years  I am not buying diapers. (Do you hear angels singing? Because I think I might!) Our two older children are 9 and almost 7. This means they are independent. They can do chores and pick up around the house and give themselves a bath! Yesterday I even had them separate out their own Easter eggs and candy

It occurred to me that there is a very brief window between toddlerhood and teenagers that might be the best part of parenting. There are defiantly sweet things about little babies. The way they smell and snuggle their little heads right under your chin like it was created to go right there.  But there's something about older kids who sleep through the their own beds nonetheless... that is oh so sweet as well.

I hear so many people lament the growing up of their babies.  And I'll admit I sat on the back porch and cried after doing school physicals for Jr high kids and realizing my daughter will be in that group in just one more years. But it's so magical to watch them grow! To watch them develop skills and understand more about the world around them is such a wonderful things.

Three years ago I had an infant, a 3 year old and a 7 year old. It seemed like someone was always crying (some days it was me!). Someone always needed something. Bath time took FOREVER.  I wasn't sure we would survive. But we did and it was worth it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday

Sixteen years ago I attended my first Maundy Thursday service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. One of the classes I was taking that semester was Worship (I know, sounds wasn't). When Maundy Thursday rolled around that year I was living 500 miles from my family and going through a difficult time where I felt very alone. Maybe that's why that service affected so deeply. But to this day I remember that service.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. It was the day Jesus ate his last Passover meal with his disciples. It would only be a matter of hours before He was betrayed, arrested, beaten and hung to die. In this particular service the auditorium was dark. The music was somber. When we left that day we left in silence. Remembering the darkness and silence that extended from Jesus' death until His resurrection.

Maybe that service made such an impression on me because I was going through my own time of darkness when it felt as though God was silent on many issues. Have you ever been there? When you pray and you believe that God has a plan for it all but the silence and darkness is deafening and terrifying?

Every year I try to imagine what those disciples felt. What did they think? They believed in Jesus. He made so many promises but now He was dead. How was this going to turn out right? For 3 days they had silence and fear as companions.

So for me Maundy Thursday is a time of reflection on my own trust in Jesus. A reminder that the Son rose. And a reminder that God can work things out in ways I could never expect.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Why a nurse practitioner and why full practice authority.

In May of 2000, yes almost 17 years ago, I finished a 4 year degree in nursing. By some reports this is one of the most difficult degrees to obtain.  I would agree. When I finished my BSN I had no desire to get a higher degree in nursing. I worked as a bedside RN for 5 years before I decided to get a Master's degree in nursing. During that time I spent 36-48 hours each week doing hands on patient care.

In October 2005 I made the decision to further my nursing  education. My husband and I had moved from Fort Worth, TX to a small town in southeast OK. I was back to working night shift and we wanted to start a family. Night shift is not the best shift for a new family. So, I did some reasearch and started the Family Nurse Practitioner program through the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the spring of 2006. I was responsible for finding my own clinical sites. I quickly found there were not many nurse practitioners in my area. When I finished my program in May 2008 I had completed over 700 hours of clinical time with a physician or NP.  I still had to pass my boards. I spent 2 months review for this test and passed in July 2008. By this time I had been a RN for 8 years.

I took my first, and only, job as a Family Nurse Practitioner in September 2008. I have been doing this for over 8 years now.  I can truly say I love my job. Depending on the day I will see 15-28 patients in a day. These patients range in age from just days old to their 90's. I see patients for well checks, sick visits and management of chronic diseases. In December 2015 I obtained an additional certification in Advanced Diabetes Management through the AADE. I am covered by malpractice insurance through my employer. I also have to obtain continuing education hours every 2 years when my license renews.

Many people don't know what sets apart Nurse Practitioners from other health care professionals. We are governed by the Board of Nursing and have a nursing background. Some states have different rules regarding NPs. In the state of Oklahoma I am required to have a physician (MD or DO) sign my prescriptive authority. This physician is not required to be in the office with me. He/she does not have to review my charts or sign off on anything I do. They are not required to see my patients. I have my own patient load -many of whom request to see me when they call to make an appointment. I assess my patient, order and interpret tests and order medication. There are a few medications I cannot order- like ADHD meds and hydrocodone.

In Oklahoma, physicians are only allowed "supervise" two full time NPs at one time. In rural Oklahoma this becomes a problem and limits access to care. It took the clinic group I work with 3 years to recruit a physician to work in one of our clinics. At times they have to pay physicians to sign the supervision paperwork even though that physician does not work for our clinic group. This is money that could be used to give more services to our patients. Some NPs pay $500-1000 a month for a supervising physician. That's $6000-120000 a year.

What does full practice authority mean? It means NPs do not have to have a physician sign that paper. It does not change what I do every day. I still see patients, order and interpret tests and order medication. But it makes it easier for NPs to get jobs and open clinics. Thus improving access to care. And in a state that ranks 49/50 for access to care this is a big deal. Research shows that nurse practitioners provide safe care for their patients. HB 1013 is up for a vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives this next week. It would grant full practice authority to nurse practitioners in our state.

Please call your representative to support HB 1013 today.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

On my children's baptism

Thirty years ago, on a Wednesday night, I heard a teacher talk about Jesus and how He died for my sins. I went home that night and asked my mother and she told me what it was all about. That night, in my bedroom, she led both my twin sister and I in the prayer of salvation. The next day our pastor, Brother Gibson, came by to talk to us about it. It did not seem unusual to me at the time. Now, as a mother, I wonder what that conversation was like when she called him up. Did she wonder if she had done it right? Was it a matter of fact conversation? Here's what happened, will you come talk to them? I was baptized on a Sunday morning in August. I wore a red and white dress. I knew what I was doing was a big step but I had no idea how big. I had no idea how that moment would affect, shape, direct my entire life.

Last December I decided to do an Advent Box activity I found online. One of the nights we were talking about Jesus and how He came to die for us and how to we have to pray and accept His free gift. My, then 5 year old, son very matter of factly said "I'm going to do that tonight!" My husband and I just looked at him and said "ok". After more discussion that night, he did pray and ask forgiveness of his sins and asked Jesus to be his savior. He's always been a child that made up his mind about things pretty quickly and knows what he wants to do. We decided to give him some time to think about this and make sure he really understood.

Last month my daughter, who was 9, came to me to talk about salvation. I have been praying for this for several months and had talked to her about it on several occasions. She has to think about things for a while before she can make a decision. She needs to know she understands before she commits. That night she decided it was time to confess her belief in Jesus and accept Him as her Savior. When she told her brother the next day he said, "Yeah, I already did that."

Today, they were both baptized by my husband. Here's why this matters so very much. The water in the baptistery has no special powers. It cannot heal. It cannot save. It cannot make anything better. But it was a symbol. A symbol of dying. A symbol of living. A symbol of the washing away of sin..of things we should not have done or that we should have done but did not. A symbol of forgiveness. Knowing Jesus will change the way they live. It will change the way they view and interact with the world around them. They have no idea how this will change them and change their lives. I don't know either. But I know my story and I know how it changed me. Since they were born I have wanted more than anything for them to know my Jesus. I have looked forward to this moment. My daughter told me not to cry but it was difficult because my emotions often spill out through my eyes. I so look forward to watching these two grow in their relationship with Jesus.