Abundant Living

In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Worthwhile read

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51C9yK9VzzL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBeing Mortal by Atul Gwande.  

I would put this book on my top 20 books I've ever read list.

It matters not if a book is fiction or non-fiction, some books just make you feel elevated when you read them. This is one of those books.

For me, reading this book was an experience.  I cried.  I learned. I was inspired. I repeatedly wrote down quotes from the book because the way Dr. Gawande writes is so beautiful. His words resonate with me.

This book interested me because my mother is 92 years old, I'm a licensed nursing home administrator and, at age 56, I'm starting to realize that some day I'll be old. The book is about how people experience the end of their lives in America.  Gwande draws on his own experience with terminal patients. He also relates the discouraging research regarding nursing homes and assisted living facilities; but he reports some encouraging programs that have arisen in these sectors over the past couple of decades. He relates some of the important things he's learned from hospice and palliative care providers.

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

p. 409
“At least two kinds of courage are required in aging and sickness.  The first is the courage to confront the reality of mortality – the courage to seek out the truth of what is to be feared and what is to be hoped.  Such courage is difficult enough. We have many reasons to shrink back from it. But even more daunting is the second kind of courage – the courage to act on the truth we find. The problem is that the wise course is so frequently unclear. For a long while, I thought that this was simply because of uncertainty. When it is hard to know what will happen, it is hard to know what to do. But the challenge, I’ve come to see, is more fundamental than that. One has to decide whether one’s fears or one’s hopes are what should matter most.”

p. 439
“Technological society has forgotten what scholars call the “dying role” and its importance to people as life approaches its end. People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, settle relationships, establish their legacies, make peace with ‘god, and ensure that those left behind will be okay. They want to end their stories on their own terms. This role is, observers argue, among life’s most important, for both the dying and those left behind. And if it is, the way we deny people this role, out of obtuseness and neglect, is cause for everlasting shame. Over and over, we in medicine inflict deep gouges at the end of people’s lives and then stand oblivious to the harm done.”

“If to be human is to be limited, then the role of caring professions and institutions – from surgeons to nursing homes-ought to be aiding people in their struggle with those limits. Sometimes we can offer a cure, sometimes only a salve, sometimes not even that. But whatever we can offer, our interventions, and the risks and sacrifices they entail, are justified only if they serve the larger aims of a person’s life. When we forget that, the suffering we inflict can be barbaric. When we remember it the good we do can be breathtaking.”

Sunday, February 14, 2016


A friend and I are going to facilitate a Bible study on the Armor of God using Priscilla Schirer's book Armor of God.  It will be starting in a couple of weeks.  As I was praying about it I felt impressed to write out a prayer to begin praying over the women who'll be in the study. I also felt impressed to reference the prayer to the Word. Here's the prayer:

Oh heavenly Father may this be so much more than just another Bible study.  May this be a time when we come to You, abide in You, and have You change us.  May we know, after this study is over, that we have encountered the great, almighty God.  May we see changes within that we know could only come from You.

May we be women who are present, alert, and thoughtful in our daily lives. Open our eyes to see and recognize the spiritual sources of the challenges that come our way.  Empower us to stand firm in You each day. (A) 

May we be women who are strengthened with Your truth in our innermost being. Draw us to You and Your Word. Stir up within us a desire to diligently study Your Word and learn Your truth. Enable us to keep Your truth ever present in our thoughts.  Create in us hearts that recognize Your many blessings and live a lifestyle of thankfulness. Keep us from acting on lies. Produce in us the fruit of self discipline. (B)

May we be women who are firm in our right standing with You through Christ.  Help us guard our hearts from those things that distract and entrap us. Increase our application of Your truth in our lives.  Empower us to be women who live rightly. (C)

May we be women who walk in Your peace. Permeate within us a sense of wholeness, of everything coming together for good. Settle us down deep within our spirits.  Unite us together to spread Your peace everywhere we go. Take us where You want us to go.  Use us to touch the lives of the people You bring our way. (D)

May we be women who put our faith in Your faithfulness. Open our spiritual eyes and make us aware of what is really going on around us.  Teach us how to trust You deeper than we ever have before.  Bring back to our minds Your truth. Cause our lips to speak out Your truth.  Empower us to see and believe what You want for us in every situation.   When we feel like we just can’t deal with those things that come our way in life, rise up trust in You within us. (E)

May we be women who protect our minds.  Create in us a deep assurance of Your salvation. Grow us in understanding of Your salvation. Produce in us lives that are entrenched in the reality of what You’ve done for us. Make us mighty warriors who trust in Your salvation and do not give in to discouragement and doubt. (F)

May we be women who use Your Word to go on the offensive against the devil. Draw us to Your Word. Empower us to study, learn and memorize it.  Teach us to speak Your Word.  Give us the self discipline to practice Your word. (G)

May we be women of prayer. Energize us to spend time in intercession. Empower us to do battle on behalf of ourselves and the ones we love. (H)

A. Ephesians 6:12-13
2 Corinthians 10:3-6
Galatians 5:16-18
1 Thessalonians 5:4-8
1 Peter 5:8-9

B. Ephesians 6:14a
Psalm 106;13-15
John 8:31
John 17:13-19; especially verse 17
Galatians 5:22-26; especially verse 23b

C. Ephesians 6:14b
Romans 8:1-4
Proverbs 4:23
2 Corinthians 5:17-21; especially verse 21
1 Corinthians 15:30-34; read in both KJV & The Message paraphrase and note verse 34

D. Ephesians 6:15
Romans 10:11-15; especially verse 15b
Philippians 4:4-7; especially out of The Message paraphrase
Ephesians 4:1-16
Acts 20:22-24
John 14:27

E. Ephesians 6:16
Hebrews 11:1-2
2 Timothy 2:11-13
Romans 1:11-17
Romans 4:16-25
Ephesians 2:8-9
1 John 5:1-5; especially verse 4
Psalm 33:20-22

F. Ephesians 6:17
John 10:22-30
Ephesians 1;3-14
2 Corinthians 10:5
Romans 12:1-2

G. Ephesians 6:18
2 Timothy 2:15
Romans 15:4
2 Timothy 5:10-17

H. Ephesians 6:19  
1 Timothy 2:1-3
1 John 5:14-16
Matthew 6:6
Colossians 4:2

Saturday, February 6, 2016

My focus keeps me from God's blessing

Photo from Intuitively Yours
I'm convinced that frequently in life I miss the blessing simply because I'm looking the wrong way.  It's like
God IS blessing me, but I'm so busy focusing on what is hard, wrong, or not exactly as I want it, that I miss seeing the blessings right in front of me.

This is a life theme for me.

I've all too often put my focus in the wrong direction.

Logically, this makes sense.  There are so many Scriptures that tell me that we've already received numerous blessings from God.  Here's just a few of these verses:

Ephesians 1:1-14 talks at length about all that is ALREADY mine as God's follower.  It can't get any more clear then the way the KJV puts the 3rd verse:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 makes it clear that we ALREADY are blessed.  This thought is especially clear in Peterson's paraphrasing of the 5th through 8th verses in the MSG:

there’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.
7-9 Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. 

2 Peter 1:3-11 tells me that God has ALREADY given me everything I need.  Verse 3 out of ASV is poinant:

 seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue

I'm convinced that the reason I don't experience all these blessings every day is because of my brain.  Specifically, how and where I'm allowing my mind to focus.  I'm reminded of these passages from Scripture:

Isaiah 26:1-10 ; I'm especially drawn to the way the 3rd verse reads in the NIV:

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.

Romans 12:1-6; the way Peterson paraphrases my old favorites of the second half of the 1st verse through the 2nd verse, brings this old favorite to a new light:

Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Philemon 1:4-7; that 6th verse in the NIV really underscores the truth of what makes the difference:

 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 

My understanding of the blessings He has already given me deepens as I chose to:
* Spend time in His presence
* Read aloud His Word
* Ponder on His Truth
* Chose to set my mind on Him, His Word, and His Truth and not get distracted 

As my understanding deepens, and my focus is on God and His blessings, I experience those blessings.  I don't want to sound like one of those "word faith-ers" and talk about activating my faith, but there is truth in that line of thinking.

Oh Heavenly Father, thank You that You put up with me.  I'm so sorry for my selfishness, laziness, lack of discipline and discontent.  Oh Father, only You can change me.  Thank You for not giving up on me.  Please work in my heart and mind, draw me more into Your presence, help me remember to read Your word aloud, ponder Your Truth and set my mind on You.  You are so great and wonderful and worthy.  I can never thank You enough. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Glimpse into the heart break

Photo from All Graphics 123
We were getting things ready for the Thanksgiving day feast.  John and I had taken food to my 91-year old mother's house.  She'd prepared the turkey and stuffing and we'd brought the rest.  While we were getting things together I realized that I'd forgotten a special salad dressing for the Thanksgiving Salad.  My sweet mother had put on a football game on the TV, so there was no hope of getting John to go get the salad dressing.  My 20-year old niece Kara was standing there so I said "hey, why don't you go with me and we'll go pick up that salad dressing at the grocery store.  You can give me directions to the store".

Now I'll confess that I'd been rather disappointed at John's lack of stepping up to the plate to go get the salad dressing.  But the trip ended up being a blessing because Kara and I just talked and talked.

One of the things she shared stirred up that old sadness within me about my sister Gail.  My sister has an illness called paranoid schizophrenia.  Gail's 60 years old now and this disease began when she was in her late 20s. When she was in her 30s and most of her 40s she managed to work for short stints of time and live with the boyfriend of that time.  She'd have the same boyfriend for several years and then the relationship would deteriorate and she'd meet a new one.  Once she hit her late 40s, boyfriends weren't so easy to acquire and her symptoms had worsened. When she was in Alaska Kara was taken from her and she got onto social security disability benefits.  It's amazing that she'd managed for so long given the nature of her illness.  My other sister adopted Kara. Kara and that sister have lived with my mom since then.

Gail has periodically visited and stayed with various family members.  She's rather good with her money.  She refuses to take medication because she does not see herself as ill. She alludes to her disability checks as if they are for a physical problem.  In the past few years she's gone and stayed with my mom more frequently.

It's always difficult when Gail stays.  Like most schizophrenics, she's disorganized and will leave all kinds of stuff around where she's living.  She  engages in constant washing of cloth items, but does not dry them. She'll leave damp items on various surfaces throughout the house.  She doesn't sleep much.  She has always tended to be up during the middle of the night doing things in the kitchen. In addition to the noise, it is scary. We're always concerned that she'll accidentally get a dish towel into the gas flame and start a fire. My other sister told me that she's taken to pouring out liquids during her nocturnal kitchen time.  They have been hard pressed to keep milk or bottled water in the home.

Sometimes Gail has good days.  On her good days she's generous and funny.  She's got this peculiar, dry, insightful sense of humor that always makes me laugh.

She can become rather negative however and it can be a drain.  Everything that gets discussed around her elicits odd, dark, comments.  She'll think everyone wants to do her wrong, she'll recount unhappy stories of being a victim, and she'll say things that don't make sense but are negative.

During a typical visit she'll have about 3 good days and then the bad start occurring.  During her last sojourn at my mother's house, after a month they came to the part in the cycle where my mom once again offers to help her get into a place of her own.  Gail does have some money due to the monthly disability check. She tends to be tight lipped about these funds. She also never buys or pays for anything when she visits. During the last vist, Kara had offered to go with Gail to find a rental. Kara had told Gail that she would drive her around and they could find a place. Gail never responds to any of these comments.  One day during this visit Gail was at the washer and my mom had walked up to her and told her that she was going to have to stop washing things.  Gail pushed mom out of the way so she could continue. The problem is that my mom is 91 years old and a push could have disastrous outcomes.  Fortunately Kara stepped in and helped my mom catch her balance. Kara claims that when she told Gail she can't be doing that, that Gail grabbed Kara's throat as if to choke her for a couple of moments and then stormed off to a few feet away.  I've never known Gail to be aggressive toward others, and sometimes Kara has perceived things differently than I have.  However, I don't think Kara would lie and I'm not sure how this could have been misperceived.

Kara called the police because she was worried for my mother's safety.  The police came and explained to Gail that she needed to leave.  Kara did not tell the police about the pushing and choking because she didn't want to get Gail "in trouble".  I told to her that I understand how hard all this is but she needs to, if anything like this ever happens again, let the police know.  I explained that police intervention could result in Gail being incarcerated in a psych unit and being forced to take the medication that would decrease her psychiatric symptoms.

Kara said that when Gail walked away she wanted to go get in the car and pick her up and take her somewhere.  She said that she refrained because she didn't think Gail would take her up on her offer to find a place to live and that she was worried about how Gail would behave.

As we talked my heart broke for my niece, mother, and Gail.  For 9 years I worked as an assistant administrator or administrator for secured facilities for psychiatric patients.  But even with all the connections, knowledge and experience that I have, I don't know a solution for Gail.  She has not previously been an imminent danger to herself or others so she can not be taken against her will to a 72-hour psychiatric hold at an acute hospital.  She will not voluntarily get into treatment.  She's a good human being but, due to her illness, makes poor decisions that put herself into bad to dangerous life situations.  When she's around the ones who love her, she's great on her good days, but can be nightmarish when it's bad.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The work team

What impressed me most about a recent 2-day meeting with my work was the leadership team.

We'd come to Vegas to meet together at one of the facilities owned by the company for which I work.  The meeting was with all the administrators, directors of nursing (DON), and directors of rehabilitative therapy (DOR).  The company owns 8 buildings.  In addition to the 24 leaders there were the resources team consisting of 1 PT, 1 OT, 2 RNs, & 2 LVNs.  There was also my boss who is the clinical director of the company and is an RN.

The first day was a very jam packed teaching day.  By the end of the day my brain felt fried.  Day 2 started with more conversational learning and then progressed into awards.  It had been set up so that every facility was awarded for something outstanding about that facility and leadership team.  There was lots of sharing of stories and laughter.

Things have been over the top difficult at work recently.  We're entrenched in a lawsuit that has turned into a class action situation with 7 participants currently.  It breaks my heart.  There have been so many challenges and some days I'm so exhausted at the end of the day that I wonder how I'm gonna make the 40-minute drive home.

But sitting there, watching my boss and the resource team for those 2 days, stirred something on the inside of me.  Several of them, my boss included, have a genuine love for God and people.  That love permeates everything that they do. I relate to these people better than any group I've ever been a part of.  What my boss is trying to build here is something I want to be a part of.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Studying the Word

I've been really enjoying studying in the book of Ephesians.  Just God and me.  Taking my time and going as slowly as I want.  Examining the Bible, praying, and seeing what others think on various Scriptures, passages, and concepts.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Too much stuff

I'm learning about Sabbath right now.

Officially I'm doing this through a Bible study I'm helping to facilitate at church.  We're using Priscilla Shirer's book Breathe.  Unofficially it's me and God. Me learning how to listen and change.

This concept of margin has long been one that attracts me. 

I've always believed in having margin in my finances.  John and I are blessed to be together and have the same attitude that  nothing we want to own or buy is worth having debt.  We both always want to have some extra money set aside so that there is margin.  Then we have freedom.  The kind of work that I do is very difficult and people in my position often get let go.  Having that financial margin, savings + lack of debt, helps me not worry about if I do lose my job.  I know that God will take care of me but I also believe that He wants me to be wise.

I'm attracted to empty spaces and lack of clutter.  John has saved, inherited and made some wise investments over the years.  He's substantially helped 4 of his 5 living children buy  homes. Recently he purchased a small condo that is 4 miles away from the beach for us.  I adored it from the moment we walked in.  Part of my adoration of this condo was it's minimalism.  All the spaces are economical and small. When I first spent the night there we had barely any furniture.

But our house is a different matter.  I feel like it's too much.  We have too many things here.  This line by Shirer in her book caught my attention:

"Our tendency toward too-full lives often expresses itself most tangibly in our over-crowded closets, unmanageable table surfaces, and cluttered desks as we cram them full of far more than we need."

I want to stream line and de-clutter my life.  But I don't know where to start, or how to start.

Father, I know that You've been growing this desire in me for simplicity over the past few years.  Please teach me how to implement it in my life.  Show me exactly how to begin the process of simplifying my life.  Thank You.

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