Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Amidst the work craziness

This morning I was blessed by these words from Proverbs 27:9 (HCSB):

Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel.

Today has been a super challenging day at work.  At 6:30AM my cell phone rang with a phone call from work.  I've been running every since. Right now I decided to actually take a lunch break and use a moment to slow down and reflect.

Amidst all the challenges of the day I'm grateful that I am not alone.  God is always near me.  He's also given me some great people with whom I get to work.  I talked to my boss a few moments today about 2 pending lawsuits and horrible (and untrue)  newspaper articles about my facility. I'm grateful that she's my boss.  She's smart, she cares, and I feel like she understands me.  Our staff developer, director of rehab, dietary supervisor, medical records director and admissions director are awesome at their jobs. They are people with whom I can partner to fix things when it's needed.  The DON remains problematic, but she is smart and can be helpful sometimes.

Basically I'm just grateful to know that in the midst of all of this work craziness, I don't have to rely solely on my own counsel.  I've got God, His Word, my boss and these other people with whom I work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I didn't get exactly what I asked for, but I'm still grateful

Photo from
Recently I wrote about how I felt good about myself because I asked for a raise.

Yesterday my boss was talking to me about something and let me know that my raise had been approved.  She asked me to complete the paperwork , scan it, email it to HR and cc the owner so that he wouldn't forget that he had agreed to it when it came time to sign off on it.  I received 79% of what I asked.

I am grateful that I received a raise.

This owner is very difficult to get to give people raises.  I've worked all year long very hard to pull out those few raises regarding which I was successful. I get the feeling that my boss really dragged it out of him.  I think he's foolish to come so close to giving me what I asked and not giving me it.  He does not realize, or perhaps not care, the message he sends.

I'm someone who runs his business.  I frequently have to use my own money because he is too new in business, growing too fast, and doesn't have the cash easily available.  When there's emergency repairs, it's my credit card that gets used.  Currently I'm out of pocket about $600 and it always takes around a month to get that money back (if I put through the paperwork right away and send a couple of reminders).

I'm sure grateful for the Word I read this morning:

"Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24 (HCSB) 

May I work enthusiastically today.  I am not doing a good job here for the owner, I'm doing it for God.

Oh Heavenly Father, may I work as unto You today.  May I notice the people who work for me.  May I be a voice of encouragement and support.  May I work together with my staff to make a positive difference in the lives of these patients.  Thank You for Your goodness dear God.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Learning to ask for what I want

I don't have any problem asking for what I want at work when it's related to employees or running the business. I work hard at communicating clearly and concisely on these issues.

But when it comes to asking for myself, I'm uncomfortable.I don't feel good about myself when I do not stand up for myself.  I am not as effective if I don't take care of me.

August 15, 2015  marked my one year at this job.  August 14 was a Friday so I emailed my boss, and cc'd the owner, a self evaluation.  In my experience as an administrator for any company, my supervisors have never provided me with a job evaluation.  I don't know if it is because everyone is too busy, or that they may want to blame something on the administrator later if things go south and so they don't want anything good in writing.

For my self evaluation I listed what I believe have been my key contributions this year. Prior to that list, I pointed out that this list was accomplished by our team at this facility working together. Then I listed areas where we still need to improve.  I wrote a few short goals.  Lastly I wrote that I was petitioning for a 6% increase in pay and what, if this is granted, my new annual salary would be.

Even if I do not get the raise I'm asking for, or any other raise, I still feel good about myself.  I feel good about the work I've done and the things we've accomplished at this facility. I feel good that I clearly and succinctly asked for what I want. If the owner ignores me, or chooses not to give me a raise, I will continue to work hard as unto the Lord.   If I do not receive a raise, I will pray for God to bless me with another job where I will be respected and valued.  I would start keeping my eyes open and applying.

The day after that email my boss emailed me that she appreciates my work and is asking the owner to give me the raise.  I emailed her back how much that means to me.  I let her know that, whatever happens in terms of money, I want her to know that it means a lot to me to know that my work is valued. When I spoke with my boss this week about another matter, she brought up the raise and told me that she's hoping this next week to get the owner to give me the raise.

I really love my boss.  She's a sister in Christ, a wonderful person, and professionally brilliant. I feel that it's important however that the owner respect me.  He pays my DON more than anyone I've ever worked with closely and I know that he gave her a bonus for our incredible annual survey this year (even though I believe that I deserved as much credit for that survey as her). That bonus that he gave her is 5/6 of the amount I'm asking for as an increase.  I feel that if he does not give me the raise, it is an indication of his lack of respect for me as an administrator.

It's an interesting situation because it is not about comparing myself to the DON.  For me it is about asking for the respect that I know I deserve.  In order to be optimally successful in my position I need the respect and backing of my supervisor and the owner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

You get what you ask for

Every since I started this job a year ago, I daily  pray for wisdom.

Recently I received some very specific wisdom as to a way to do my job better.

I'd been thinking about how I spend too much time in my office and not enough time out on the unit. Although I walk through the building a few times each day, I feel like I'm not integrated enough with what's really going on. I have a lot of paper/computer work that needs to be completed.

Yesterday morning as I was waking up the thought came to me that I need to take my lap top and sit out at the nursing station and complete paperwork. I can't easily get internet connectivity at the nursing stations, but I can work on documents on the computer. Yesterday I spent about an hour and a half at station 3 and today I spent about an hour at station 2.  It's a good idea. I'm just sitting there doing my work, but the line staff are seeing me.  I'm overhearing things that are going on.  I find myself questioning why I didn't think of this before, but it just never occurred to me.

I'm grateful for the idea.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The silver lining

Photo from The Hollywood Republican
I have a love-hate relationship with my job.

I love many of the people with whom I work.  They genuinely care for the patients.  They're smart and go above and beyond.  They have that same dark humor that makes us all laugh at terrible things.  It is never boring because there's always some new drama going on with the patients or staff. I have lots of autonomy. I feel like I can make a difference. The drive to work is a stress free 40 minutes - none of the all too common congested freeway traffic common to southern California.

It's a bummer when family members are mean and unreasonable.  I hate it when my DON lies and manipulates. Or when she engages in behaviors that make me think about the fact that it's my license on the wall and it's me who will ultimately face the consequences. I hate that money is often such a stress because the owner doesn't reimburse petty cash quickly. We can't get credit accounts so we do much of our business on a cash basis. I frequently have to go into my pocket or use my credit card and then a month or two later I'll get paid back.

Lately I've been spending time reflecting on these verses:

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. Philippians 2:14-15a (NIV)

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

I pray that God would do for me what I can not do for myself.  That He would put a guard on my lips and let me a positive light that reflects His glory in my work place.  I remind myself to focus on those things that are good where I work.  I look for things at my work that I can specifically petition God regarding.  I want to see Him work and change things here.

When I look back over the past year that I've worked here, I can see many positive changes that have been made. I may not get everything I want here, but I've sure got a lot of good things.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Is it a sin to be fat?

Last Sunday the pastor was teaching out of Matthew 4:1-11.  This sermon was part of series of sermons he has been preaching on overcoming temptation.  In last Sunday's sermon he took a closer look at each of the areas in which Jesus was tempted. The pastor categorized these temptations as food, presumption, & pride.

When he spoke about food the pastor talked about the number 1 health problem in the U.S. being obesity.  He talked about how we look to food for comfort and all struggle with this temptation. He showed how Jesus spoke of His relationship to God and His Word being more important than food.  He showed his struggle by these 2 examples: 1-He adores McDonald's french fries and thinks no one makes fries as good as them.  He said he'd love to go buy french fries and have them with a vanilla shake; nothing could be better.  But he doesn't because that's not good for him. 2-He may go to a buffet and he likes all the food there and wants to eat all the food, but he can only eat a little, because it's not good for him to eat everything.

I felt very guilty during the sermon since I'm significantly overweight.

Since that sermon I've been thinking on what the pastor said and I have mixed feelings.  I have a bunch of thoughts and feelings regarding this topic.  I want to unpack these thoughts and feelings so I can really see them, and hopefully achieve some clarity on this issue:

* The Pastor's right and any time I eat more than my body actually needs it is a sin.  I must be fat because I sin.

* I feel less-than, not good enough, because I have this struggle.

* All sin is forgivable.  But what about if we keep sinning? How hard do I try to overcome this specific temptation? I have an incredibly demanding and emotionally exhausting job and am so tired at the end of the day.  I know I need exercise but typically don't.  Sometimes I just eat food that is easy and not necessarily the most healthy.  I eat more than I absolutely need due to taste gratification, comfort, and habit.

* We all sin.  Although in the Matthew 4 account Jesus had been fasting and Satan tempted him with food, many Bible teachers generalize it to any gratification of the flesh. Gratifications of the flesh include food, sex, pain relief with excessive medication, excessive spending on beautiful things - things that involve the senses.

* We all sin. We all have specific sins that are more tempting for us; sins with which we struggle to refrain from regularly. Our common culture as well as our church culture focuses on some and not other sins.

* One type of sin would be the excess issue.  There are things that are good and right in and of themselves, in the right context and quantity; but are unhealthy and sinful if engaged in to excess or in the wrong context.  Things in this category would be: food, sex, shopping, alcohol consumption, etc.

* Some of us struggle with some things that can be done in excess and don't have too much trouble with others.  If you don't struggle in a particular area, for example shopping/spending, it's easy to be critical of others who struggle in that area.

* I feel like food and weight are not really issues for our pastor so it's easy to focus on those sins.  I see him struggle with judgmental-ism, temper, and impatience.  If I'm 100% honest, a part of me feels like - so he's focusing on food but not those things.  Yet, the Word is the Word and Truth is Truth - it is there in God's Word and He's teaching it. The fact that I know he struggles with those things is partly because he's open about who he is (and partly because I'm observant about people).

* I feel frustrated, and maybe if I'm entirely honest with myself, angry. Angry that the sin I struggle with is impossible to hide.  My body shows my sin for all to see. Whereas some sins not everybody has to know the moment they meet you.

* I'm thinking how Psalm 139:13-16 depicts that God knew who he was creating when I was in my mother's womb.  That he had a specific design when He was forming me.  Because Scripture also teaches that God knows everything (Isaiah 46:9-10, Psalm 139:1-3, 1 John 3:20, Romans 11:33, Hebrews 4:13), I take it to then mean that God knew that I'd be predisposed to weight gain as well as unhealthy food use.

* The reason something is a sin is because it's not what God wants for us.  He loves us and only wants our best. Hebrews 12:1-3 talks about getting rid of sin in our lives so we can run the race God has for us.  I believe that each of us has a specific, unique, race or path that God has for us.  The Bible is saying to get rid of the sin so we can experience more success on our journey.

* The pastor's motives, thoughts, or possible inadequacy are not relevant.  My attitude toward God, my submission to Him above EVERYTHING else is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

God is enough

Lately I've been trying to start my day off right.

The moment I decide to get out of bed I've been making myself talk aloud to God and thank Him for another day. Thank Him for His goodness and blessing that by faith I believe I will experience in the coming day. Then I make sure to take just a few moments to pray and reflect a bit on some Bible verses.  Lately I've been utilizing Proverbs 31 devotionals.  This morning the devotion was from Luke 2:1-4 & 2 Corinthians 12:9.  The devotional author talked about how sometimes you feel like you're not enough. How when you give everything that you have to God, He uses His strength and power to make us all we need to be.

Little did I realize this morning how relevant these thoughts would be to my day.

When I first arrived at work today I was bombarded with a newspaper article. The local newspaper carried a negative article on part of the front page about our facility.  The same article is posted on facebook. On the facebook article there are more than 50 terrible comments (several of them posted by former employees who had been separated from their jobs).

The news article is not accurate.  The comments all basically say how terrible we are and how bad facility management is.  The truth is that since I came to this facility almost a year ago, by God's grace and goodness, many positive changes have been made. We have many caring and competent employees who go above and beyond to take excellent care of patients.  Things are not yet where I want them to be; sometimes we have employees who do not utilize good common sense, who are lazy, or who have poor customer service skills. Sometimes our communication regarding patients is dis-jointed.

We've all worked so hard.  I want to do such a good job.  It breaks my heart to read all these terrible things in the newspaper.  Things are not where I want them to be yet; but things are not as the article makes it seem.  I felt so inadequate today.  Like I'm not good enough.

Then I remember -of course I'm not good enough!  But God is enough, and I pray that His wisdom, strength, and ability would be manifest in me at my job so that this facility would become increasingly wonderful.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A little thing can be a big blessing

As I was driving to work this morning I was listening to an audio book You can you will: 8 undeniable qualities of a winner.  As the author spoke about the 8th quality, serving others, I felt impressed.  I was praying that I would be more constructively positive and encouraging to the people with whom I work today.

Interestingly enough, it was me who ended up receiving encouragement today.

We have a really good employee who had to have surgery recently.  She had not worked for us a year yet so she was not eligible for FMLA.  Our company policy says that we will grant personal unpaid leave for up to 6 weeks.  This woman needed longer than that.  I helped her out so that she could keep her job.  This was not super hard for me to do.  It just took a bit of effort and figuring.  It didn't take a ton of my time. I took care of it a few weeks ago and forgot all about it.

When this employee came back today she not only gave me a thank you card, but it included a Starbucks gift card.  I was surprised because as an employer I typically give people thanks, cards, and gift cards.  I have rarely ever received anything from an employee to say thank you.

What a blessing!

May I not get too busy and forget to notice and speak out the good that people are doing.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Things aren't always what they seem

Have you ever been in a situation where you don't realize what you don't know?

I encountered just a situation recently at work.

Although I've held my nursing home administrator license in CA since 2002, until the past year I've always worked in setting with individuals with psychiatric issues, developmental disabilities, and prisoners.  Last year I was blessed with a job as an administrator in a skilled nursing facility.  I've learned a lot this year and I'm still learning every day.

We have a contract with the veterans administration (VA).  It really has not turned out to be a good thing for us financially.  The facility where I'm at is called a post acute because our focus is on rehabilitative therapy and the bulk of our patients are short stay; between 1 week to 3 1/2 months.  There are a few long term (LTC) patients for whom this will always be their home, but we are not really accepting any new long term patients.  The VA knows this because I explained it to them the very first time I met with them to start talking about contracting with them.  They weren't pleased but they decided to go ahead and contract with us any way.  Yet they send us patients for rehabilitative therapy and then stop the therapy within a week after arrival.

Recently they had cut off therapy for one of their patients and, in this case I can kind of understand. This patient has pancreatic cancer and it would make more sense to just help him be as happy and comfortable as possible.  The nurse manager from the VA contacted me regarding putting him onto Hospice and I directed her to our director of nursing (DON).  The director of nursing services was on vacation and this nurse felt like she just couldn't wait.  I explained that we don't have any Medicaid/LTC beds available.  She kept insisting that it wouldn't be long and that if I could just give her one for a month.  Like a dummy I allowed myself to be pressured. (Goes back to that truth that I only need to do what I believe God wants me to do; not be overly concerned with pleasing everyone else around me.)

A Hospice nurse shows up at our facility on Friday and I had her talk with our DON.  Later in the day that VA nurse manager kept calling and calling and calling me.  I was busy and she would not let the receptionist put her call through to voice mail.  The DON was in a patient care meeting with family.  I finally talked with this VA case manager nurse and she kept pressuring me about the need for this patient to start on hospice that very day.  I directed her again to the DON but told her to have the hospice company send me a copy of the letter of agreement.

When I got the letter of agreement I realized that we would be receiving 1/3 less pay than we are currently for this patient if I sign the agreement and let him go onto Hospice.  I finally got to talk with our DON and she told me that she'd already spoken with this VA nurse manager and talked with her again.  Our DON asked the nurse manager what nursing services she felt we weren't providing that were needed.  That nurse manager could not tell her any.

I still didn't understand because I asked our DON how it will benefit the VA, I was thinking they would still need to pay the hospice company.  The DON explained that the hospice company will bill Medicaid and then the VA will not have to pay for anything.

So that's why this nurse manager was in such a hurry!

So I spoke with the nurse manager again and explained that we can provide palliative care measures or any other nursing intervention necessary.   I also explained that we can't really lose revenue in that manner.  She told me that she understands we're a business, but what about the patient?  I asked her what it was that the patient needed that we weren't providing?  Again there was not an answer.

I felt frustrated because she was acting like I only care about money and she wants patient care.  When it truth it looked like she wanted to get out of payment for the patient's care while causing me to lose a great deal of revenue.  It's interesting that the very DON  with whom I have problems is the one who helped me in this situation.  This DON has worked in this industry for more than 20 years and knew exactly what the VA nurse manager was trying to pull.

I pray that I would be wise in these situations.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Christian Orthodoxy is a broad stream

Photo from
The other day I summed up the question most recently engaging my thoughts this way:

Are these thoughts of you-only-get-one-chance-and-it's-here-on-earth-and-if-you-blow-it's-hell-forever-for-you the only thing that's ever been taught by the Christian church since it's inception?

On that day I looked a bit at what a church father named Origen Adamantus had to say.

In the book entitled The Early Christian Fathers by Henry Bettenson, I found some quotes by another early church father named Titus Flavius Clemens Alexandrius (Clement of Alexandria). I found the information regarding Clement of Alexandria on the site Catholic online to be informative. In around 180, Clement met Pantaenus in Alexandria. Pantaenus taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement studied under Pantaenus, and was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Julian before 189. These comments of Clement's especially interested me:

"the goodness of God is proved, and the power of the Lord, to save with justice and equity displayed to those who turn to him, whether here or elsewhere. For the energizing power does not come only on men here; it is operative in all places and at all times."

These statements from him show that Clement was of the thought that individuals can come to God while here on earth or in the afterlife. 

St. Augustine's comments against universalist thought show me that the belief was common in his time. In "All Shall Be Well" Explorations in Universal Salvation and Christian Theology, from Origen to Moltmann by Gregory MacDonald, I found this quote from Augustine:

"In vain, then, that some, very many, moan over the eternal punishment, and perpetual, uninterrupted torments of the lost, and say that they do not believe it shall be so; not, indeed, that they directly oppose themselves to the Holy Scripture, but at the suggestion of their own feelings, they soften down everything that seems hard, and give them a milder turn to statements which they think are rather designed to terrify than to be received as literally true. For, "Has God" they say, "forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up His tender mercies?"

St. Augustine is arguing against the "very many" of faith who were universalists.  He was saying that they do on oppose themselves to the Bible, but that they see it differently than he did.

The example of the beliefs of Clement of Alexandria, and the arguments of St.  Augustine, show me that there were those in the stream of orthodox Christianity from its beginning who held to universalist beliefs.

Universalism as theologoumena

Graphic from
I learned a new term today - theologoumena.

I've felt so alone in my recent quest; these thoughts in my heart that the good news is good because it is through the cross that God will bring everyone to Himself.  These ideas that hell does not necessarily mean torment for all of eternity; it may be time limited if the sufferer chooses to repent and come to God. I've been blessed in this belief journey because my husband John has been searching out these same topics.  We've been able to bounce ideas off each other and share references.  I've struggled however, that these thoughts put me outside of the Christian church as I've experienced it these first 55 years of my life.

I came across the word theologoumena while reading from the book "All Shall Be Well" Explorations in Universal Salvation and Christian Theology, from Origen to Moltmann by Gregory MacDonald.

To my great delight I read these statements by MacDonald today:

"Universalism, I suggest, occupies a middle ground between dogma and heresy. It is neither a teaching that all orthodox believers are expected to adhere to (in the way that the Trinity, or the union of deity and humanity in the one person of Christ are), nor one that they must avoid at all costs. Perhaps the most appropriate category to employ is that of theologoumena.  Theologoumena are pious opinions that are consistent with Christian dogmas. They are neither required or forbidden. To see universalism in the category of theologoumena means that one can not preach universalism as "the Christian view" or "the faith of the church", but it also means that one may believe in it and that one may develop a universalist version of Christian theology".

"When I say that universalism is theologoumena I mean simply that it is an issue about which Christians can legitimately disagree within the boundaries of orthodoxy".

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Good News?!

Graphic from
It kind of sucks when you've grown up in the Christian church and have come to believe something different than today's mainstream Christian church.  Yet I find myself in that very situation.  Nonetheless I still love the church, adore coming together to worship with others who follow Christ, and will never leave my faith.

I'm just coming to see some things differently.

I've never been comfortable with this whole idea of hell presented in the American Christian church.  It's never made sense to me that the very God who sent His son to die for all humanity and who loves us so very much, would stop at the moment we die. He loves you today, but if you've not chosen to come to Him and happen to get in a car accident and die - well then it's too late now, you'll burn forever in eternal torment in hell. Or what about the people who grow up in countries where the dominant religion is anti-Christianity?  They've been steeped in lies and are somehow expected to break free of all that and come to Jesus; if they aren't able to, then eternal torment in hell will be theirs.  That's just never made sense to me. Our lives on this planet earth are so brief in the scheme of eternity.

In the past I've just chosen to ignore all that and figure that God is good and trustworthy and I'll trust Him to figure it all out.  But my heart in recent years has gravitated toward the writings of Bible scholars, speakers, and thinkers who look at the Bible differently in regard to Hell.  I'm attracted to those writers who believe that the cross truly was a cosmic event that saved the world.

I've always believed that if someone extrapolates something different from historic Christian tradition, that it is probably wrong.  My thought has been that if centuries of Christians have interpreted the Biblical texts a specific way, why would they all be wrong? Those centuries of Believers have all had the Holy Spirit within them - so why would they all be wrong? Since these thoughts of universalism aren't what the American church teaches, it has put me in a quandary.

So I've started searching.  Are these thoughts of you-only-get-one-chance-and-it's-here-on-earth-and-if-you-blow-it's-hell-forever-for-you the only thing that's ever been taught by the Christian church since it's inception?

It's this question that has led me to a book entitled The Early Christian Fathers that has been edited and translated by Henry Bettenson.  This book includes selections of writings from individuals who are considered Church Fathers.  One such individual is Origen Adamantius. As you can see from the article I've linked here to Origen's name, he was a controversial figure. Yet he wrote an incredible volume of scholarly works, he was a profound student of the Bible, and an unquestionable Christian philosopher. He was born around 185 AD.  So when I read his writings, I'm reading from someone who participated in church life on the heels of our Savior's death and resurrection.

It's interesting to note that he lived and wrote earlier than Augustine. Augustine  began the tradition that Calvin amplified and expounded.  Those ideas imply that only some people are chosen by God; and those chosen people will come to God through no work of their own.  Yet these same ideas propose that some people are not chosen by God and so are destined for eternal torment.  Jesus said He came to bring the good news - this is not good news!  I'm thinking it is good news that Jesus died for ALL of humanity and will eventually restore all people unto Himself.  When I look at a scripture such as Philippians 2:9-11 stating that the day will come when everyone will call Jesus Lord, along side of the verse from 1 Corinthians 12:2-3 that shows that only the Holy Spirit can allow you to proclaim Jesus is Lord, I become more convinced that indeed Jesus will bring all people to Himself.

There's a segment from one of Origen's writings that has captured my attention and captivated my thoughts.  It is in the part of the book where Origen has been discussing final things, and the final judgement.  Then he says :

"We suppose that the goodness of God will restore that the whole creation to unity in the end, through Christ, when his enemies has been subdued and overcome...(2)...The human race...will be restored to the unity promised by the Lord Jesus...[John Xvii. 22, 23]...(3)...Whether any of those orders [viz. the opposing powers] who act under the devil's leadership...will be able in some future ages to be converted to goodness, inasmuch as they still have the power of free will; or whether a persistent and inveterate evil becomes the long habit their very nature, I leave to the reader's judgment: whether that part of creation will be utterly sundered from the final unity and harmony and not be restored in the present ages of time 'which are seen' nor in the ages of eternity 'which are not seen'. Meanwhile both in time and in eternity all these beings are dealt with in due order and proportion according to their deserts; so that some are restored in the first ages, some in later, some even in the last times; restored through greater and heavier punishments, and penalties of long duration which are endured perhaps through many ages....(4)...[the end of matter.] If the 'heavens will be changed' 5, what is changed certainly does not perish; and if 'the fashion of the world passes' 6 this does not mean utter annihilation but a kind of change of quality.....[cf Isa lxvi.22]...In the end 'God will be all in all'7."

I've linked the footnotes to the verses they represent above as well as those places where he wrote in the reference. (Throughout this post, any time you see colored writing it either links to Bible references or related information). What fascinates me about Origin's thoughts here is this idea that there are the first ages, later ages, and last times.  He seems to present the idea that people may go through punishment after death and at some point realize that they were wrong, repent, and come to God.  This opens up the possibility that eventually everyone will come to Christ.

Opening up my mind to the possibility that the Bible might be teaching that Jesus died for everyone and that all humanity will eventually be reconciled to Him, has changed me.  Having these ideas in my mind makes me feel differently toward people.  There are no more outsiders and insiders.  I have more of a feeling of us all being in this business of life together.  I have a more patient approach to people; a calmness that they will eventually get there.  I Experience a deep inner happiness to think that these people who I like and am interacting with who are not of faith will eventually get there.  This is really good news!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What about when the "right thing" is not so clear?

I hear so much talk about doing the right thing.

Sometimes I find that the right thing is not crystal clear.

My current series of dilemmas in this arena revolve around my work. I have been a nursing home administrator for this facility almost a year. Since I came there have been things that our director of nursing services (DON) does that I do not think are right. These areas of concern involve documentation, interpersonal dealings and honesty.  To my knowledge she is basically good and decent with regard to patient care.  The owner of this building is wholly dedicated to the DON and over the top favors her.

So far I've just tried to deal with her and the situations created to the best of my ability. I've basically sucked up any feelings that I have, and made life work.  I'm constantly working to be strategic and put systems in place that will result in a lack of need for the DON to do things I'm uncomfortable with in regard to documentation. She fights me regarding these systems.  It appears that she has a need to be a savior when things are wrong. I know this sounds crazy, but it's like she does not want things to run smooth and correct, because then she won't be needed to swoop in and save the day through questionable means.  She apparently wants all to know how much she is needed and how much she does for the facility and owner.

I've been praying and praying about the situation.  I've sought to stay grateful for my job and be positive. I do love the business, the leaders with whom I work, many of the staff I've gotten to know, and the fact that we can make a positive difference in people's lives every day.

But I have a lot of questions.  I'm the administrator, it's my license on the wall, this is the building that I'm running for the owner. If this facility is not run right it is to my shame.  I am accountable.  So daily I pray and ask for God to make me smarter than I am. For God to give me wisdom and favor and the ability to set things right and run a good operation.  One where patients and staff alike are treated good and where we are righteous in our actions.

Yesterday things came to a head for me.

There is an evaluative tool used in nursing homes called MDS. The MDS is the hub of patient treatment. Starting in October 2015, in addition to the annual and nursing 3.2 annual surveys from the department of public health, there will be an annual MDS survey.  Auditors will be coming in and making sure that we are following the Medicare guidelines correctly.  In view of the upcoming MDS surveys, my company is holding a 2-day training for MDS staff.  I set up for our 3 MDS staff to attend this training.  My DON left on a vacation this past Thursday.  Before she left she told me that she thought only 1 MDS staff should attend the training and then come back and train the other staff.  I explained that my boss had directed that all 3 attend and that I was in agreement.

Yesterday one of these MDS staff came to me.  She explained to me that the DON had told her that she is her direct supervisor and that she is, under no circumstances, to go to that training.  She directed this MDS person to call in sick those days and then say she got to feeling better, so then go ahead and come in to work at the facility.  She came to me because she said she feels in a quandary; she doesn't want to lie to me but she doesn't want to get in trouble with the DON. She said that we both how this DON is, and that she'll make her life miserable if she doesn't obey her. As I listened the MDS woman began opening up and talking more and more.  It was one of those situations where once she opened up and started talking, she just kept going; it was as if the flood gates were open.

What came out were how afraid she feels of losing her job.  She feels like the DON has made her create inaccurate documentation to make the facility look better.  She knows that as a licensed nurse she is responsible for her actions, yet she needs this job.  She started here around 15 months ago.  Within the first month of employment the DON came to her and asked to borrow $1,500.  She said that she couldn't afford to give her the money but really needed the job so she went ahead and did it.  She had her husband come to the facility when she loaned the DON the money and she's written up a contract that the three of them signed that stated re-payment terms.  She related that the DON was much slower than the re-payment terms but she did finally repay her.

As I listened to this MDS person, I remembered something recently told to me by my supervisor. My supervisor's sister works for me. Not long ago this sister told my supervisor that the DON had borrowed $1,000 and never paid it back.  My employee would not allow her sister (my supervisor) to take action against the DON.  Recently the DON borrowed $1,000 again from the sister. My supervisor told her sister to stop giving the DON money.  The sister said she feels that she must to keep her job. The sister and the DON come from a developing nation where things such as this are allowed.

There's another money situation in regard to this DON.  It involves me.  Within 2 weeks after I started  I was with my supervisor and the owner in the DON's office one day.  The DON told a very sad story regarding another staff person in the building.  The DON said that this person's husband was abusive and she needed to get away from him.  She said that this person needed $4,000 to move out and get started in a new location away from the husband. She asked the owner to front the staff person that money.  The DON explained that the staff person would pay back $500 each payday so that the money would be repaid in 4 months. The owner explained that, as a business owner, he could not do this.  He said it would set a precedent and if he did it for this person, he would have to do it for another. Somehow the three of them all ended up looking at me.  I kind of laughed and asked if they expected me to front the money.  The room was quiet.  So I went and got the $4,000 out of my personal bank account.  The person who allegedly received the loan paid me back $2,000 over the next 5 months and then stopped.  She said that I needed to talk to the DON about the other $2,000.  I got the feeling that the DON had only given this staff person $2,000 and that the DON had kept the other $2,000.  I talked to the owner about it in January 2015 and he said he'd pay me back the $2,000.  I talked with my supervisor about it in February, and she said she'd get the money for me.  I talked with the owner about it again in May 2015. In June the check for the $2,000 was sent to the DON instead of me.  It arrived on a day when I had the day off.  She went and cashed the check.  When I asked my supervisor about it she asked the owner who said the money went to the DON in error.  I asked why the owner didn't just get the money back from the DON and my supervisor said that he thought it would cause problems.  I told her that is his issue but I still need my money back.  My supervisor promised me she'd get it for me.  On July 9, 2015  the owner and my supervisor came to the facility.  After they left my supervisor came back and gave me $1,000 that she said was from the owner and she promised that the other $1,000 is coming.

This means there are three money situations that I know about. How many are there that I don't know about?

Yesterday my feelings of guilt and responsibility overwhelmed me as I listed to this MDS person.  What am I doing here?!  I have a responsibility toward my staff and the patients to run a righteous business.  So I called my boss.  I told her the whole story.  I've mentioned things to her about this DON previously but this time I gave details. I explained how grateful I am for this job.  I told her that with my license comes a responsibility.

My boss was distressed by what I said.

She, like me, has been uncomfortable about this DON. Yet we both struggle due to the owner's total favor and commitment toward her.  I told my supervisor that I've told my husband before that I've known that if it comes down to being between my DON and me, it's me that will be gone.  I recognize how the owner feels.  I'm the 7th or 8th administrator at this facility in 3 years.  I've been here 11 months at this point and have outlasted them all,...but still....I can be gone in a heartbeat.  Yet, when everything is all said and done, I'm obligated to do the right thing.  I can't let my staff suffer and not do something about it.  I choose to do what I think is right and trust God.  My supervisor said she'd get me a meeting with the owner and herself.  She also mentioned something about the company attorney being there to help problem solve how to handle the DON situation.

My prayer is that this meeting will actually take place.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thoughts on the book The Great Divorce

Recently I read C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce for the first time.

I was semi impressed while reading it. But since I finished it I keep on thinking about it.  Throughout my day periodically snatches of the book come back to me. Sometimes I'll meet people who remind me of his characters.

The way Lewis presents hell fascinates me. I'm attracted to the concept that the people who are in hell could cross over to heaven, but they don't want to be there.  They resist God's ways; His love, forgiveness and uncompromising stance that He must come first.

All my life I've lived in the north American Christian church. I was raised, and mostly resided, in a group called southern Baptists. While I appreciate the wealth that this Christian sect has afforded me, I'm not really comfortable with the common church stance regarding hell. This idea that the cross was a cosmic event where God poured out His love for all mankind, and He loves and wants all mankind to come to him up until the moment they die - and then it's too late.  If they were raised in a Muslim or some other anti-Christian country and did not repent and to come to Jesus, then they'll be tortured in hell for all eternity. This view that would say for an example that if Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl during WWII who wrote her famous diary while hiding from Nazis, died without coming to Christ; she'd end up in the same hell as Hitler.  Somehow, this doesn't jive with what I read in the Bible.

Lewis' idea of an opportunity after death to still come to God interests me.

Thinking on things authentic

Poster taken from
I'm continuing in Philippians 4:4-8, still unpacking that 8th verse (MSG):

Summing it all up friends, I'd say you'd do best by filling your minds with and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling and gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

In order to increase my grasp on the meaning of authentic I'm going to see how this same verse, specifically that word, was translated in other versions:
  •  whatever [hosos] is pure [hagnos] (MOUNCE)
  • whatever is pure (NIV)
  • whatever is pure (AMP)
  • whatsoever things are pure (KJV)
  • whatever is pure (NET)
  • and pure (NLT)
  • whatever things holy (WYC)
  • as many as [are] pure (YLT)    
 Why did Peterson in his Message paraphrase use authentic instead of pure? What's the connection?   

When I look up definitions for authentic they all talk about being genuine, of indisputable origin.  Pure is like that too.  Pure can mean undiluted, free from contamination.  Maybe God's talking here about not letting the world's view creep into my thinking.  To fill my mind with, and mediate on His truth.

So how can this look in every day life?
There are so many messages that come to me everyday that are contrary to the Word.  Here's some examples:
  • When I see the beautiful women displayed on billboards, in magazines, and on TV; do I feel less than? Or, do I remember that God's word tells me in Psalm 139:13-14 that I'm wonderfully made?
  • When I feel overwhelmed at work do I let the thoughts of inadequacy slip in? Or, do I fix my mind on God's Word that says in Philippians 4:12-14 that I can do whatever is needed through Christ who strengthens me? 
  • When I see my middle son making wrong choices and going down the wrong path, do I get discouraged and give in to hopelessness? Or, do I fix my mind on the Word that directs me in Proverbs 3:4-6 to put my trust in God? Do I remember that in Jeremiah 29:11 God says He has good plans for His people? Do I think about how  Proverbs 22:6 explains that if I train a child in God's says, he will not depart from God? 

As I've been unpacking this verse, repeatedly I've been impressed with the importance God places on my thought life.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A look at reputable

Photo from
Since I'm memorizing Philippians 4:4-8 I'm seeking to deepen my understanding of the passage.

Right now I'm unpacking the 8th verse:

Summing it all up friends, I'd say you'd do best by filling your minds with and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling and gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Today I want to think about what it means to think on that which is reputable.

I looked in other translations and versions to see what they did with this same word and found the following:
  •  whatever is right (NIV)
  • whatever is worthy of respect (NET)
  • right (NLT)
  • whatever is right (NASB)
  • whatever is just (AMP)
  • whatsoever things are just (KJV)
  • whatever [hosos] is just [dikaios] (MOUNCE)
So I'm seeing this flavor of what is right, just, and worthy of respect.  God is telling me that it is to my good to spend my time thinking about right, just and respectful things.

According to Word Hippo the opposite of just is: Imprecise, inaccurate, inappropriate, inequitable, partial, unfair, unjustified, unsuitable, unsuited, unjust

Word Hippo shows the opposite of right to be: wrong, disadvantage, disfavor, corruption, immorality, injustice, unfairness, subordination, dishonesty, dishonor, evil, impropriety, unsuitableness, wickedness

Word Hippo shows the opposite of respect to be: disrespect, criticism, disdain, dishonor, disregard, ignorance, bad manners, disfavor.

When situations come up in daily life that involve these opposites, I find that myself and most other people keep mentally thinking about these things.  It is natural.  I've been listening to an audio book lately by Joel Osteen that's entitled You Can, You Will. Osteen relates how researchers have found that negative memories take up more space in the brain because the person has to process the event.  There's an interesting article about how people tend to remember the negative more than the positive in March 23, 2013 issue of the New York Times. The Times article quotes psychology professor Roy F. Baumeister from Florida State who says: “Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”

God warns me against this natural tendency in his Word.  He tells me I'll do better if I fill my mind with and think on what is right, just, and worthy of respect.

So what does that look like in daily life?  Here's some "down and dirty" examples from my daily life:
  • I can be irritated that my husband yet again forgot to put sweetener in my Chai tea. Or I can be thankful that I have a husband who is willing to make tea for me weekend mornings.
  • When I sit out on our deck I can be filled with sadness about the pine trees adjacent to our deck that are disease riddled with a problem rampant in Wrightwood currently. Or, I can be thankful for the delightful sound of our little fountain, the stirring breeze, and the fact that our next door neighbor doesn't have any windows facing our deck.
  • I can continue to re-hash that fact that my DON at work called my boss when she was on vacation (so of course I was not in communication) and claimed all the credit for our successful annual department of public health (DPH) nursing PPD survey - when in fact it was the DSD and I who did everything for that outcome while the DON was not even involved. Or, I can praise God for His favor and blessings (of the DSD, the DPH surveyor and the outcome) and know that I work unto God not for the favor of my boss. I can think on how trustworthy God is and that He will promote me, and build my reputation, in His way and timing.
This list could just go on and on.  It comes down to disciplining my mind like  God says to in Romans 12:1-2.


Sunday, June 21, 2015


As I noted yesterday, I'm working on memorizing Philippians 4:4-8 out of the Message paraphrase. Right
Photo from
now I'm seeking to unpack verse 8:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. 

Yesterday I looked at meditating on things that are true.

Today I want to tackle noble.

First off, what does noble even mean?

According to the Free dictionary by Farlex, noble means:

a. Having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor: a noble spirit.
b. Proceeding from or indicative of such a character; showing magnanimity: "What poor an instrument / May do a noble deed!" (Shakespeare).
I see a lot of decidedly un-noble acting people every day. I see them at work, in my neighborhood, at church, sometimes in my family, in the news, and when I look in the mirror.   
This 8th verse of the 4th chapter of Philippians is telling me that I'd be better off not filling my mind with, or meditating on, those un-nobel acting folks.  I don't believe that it's telling me to stick my head in the sand and not see what's going on. I also don't believe that it's telling me to not be alert, observant and wise and see who people really are and respond accordingly.  I think it's telling me to just not park my mind there.

I have a DON at work who's the best and the worst.  The part in which she's the worst includes almost always lying, manipulating, and back stabbing. It would be oh so easy for me to get caught up in thinking on how terrible she is and how sometimes she makes my job seem impossible.  Instead I'm learning that I need to recognize what she's doing and pray.  I need to be wise and have the Holy Spirit help me know how to act strategically in light of the facts about this person.  But it is counterproductive for me to dwell on her "badness".  It's of no value for me to play over and over in my mind how she drives me crazy or that she calls my boss and bad talks me. Instead, I need to fill my mind and think on what is noble.

I'll benefit most from looking around me at work, home, church, my neighborhood, and in the media and thinking about who is showing courage, generosity, honor, or magnanimity.  Those are the people who's actions I should be considering. Those are the people who will help me see what I want to be. 

One of the things I really appreciate about the Word is how practical it can be!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why Truth?

Photo from
I've been working on memorizing Philippians 4:4-8 out of the Message paraphrase.

Today I want to think a bit more on that 8th verse:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. 

So what's true?Why should I fill my mind with it and meditate on it?

One reason is because truth sets me free.

John 8:31-32 (MSG) says:
31-32 Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”

This leads me to the question, how does truth set me free?

The first thing that comes to my mind is 2 Bible passages. The first is found in 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NASB):
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

The second is when Jesus is talking and He says (found in John 10:10 (NET):
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. 

One of the things that I've found in my life is that the enemy whispers, or nudges me toward, lies in my mind. Things like oh I'm too overwhelmed and can't do this. Or I'll never be free from this addiction to food. Or it won't hurt if I just go with the flow today, I'm tired, I don't have to give my all every day - that's too much. Another one is I can't get up in front of this group and talk, I just feel too ashamed. Similarly, I don't want to be friendly and talk to them, it's just too much effort. Or I know I should be less selfish toward John, but it's just so easy to act naturally. Why bother? Or Oh I don't want to get out of bed, I have to go to work and there's this problem and that, etc. I just don't want to deal with it all. Another way this can work is when some of the people at work start gossiping or talking about others; instead of getting into all that negativity I can walk away or just simply say I don't want to be talking about that person.

Choosing to let my mind fill with this kind of garbage will end up with me being right down in the pit.  For me that looks like me going through the motions in life but not really living. It looks like me using food, day dreams, or any other passing distraction to numb out.

Instead of living like that, I can choose to actively put God's truth into my mind.  I'm reminded of Romans 12:1-2, especially that second verse (NET):
 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

Deliberately choosing to think on the truth is one way to renew my mind. There are three practical ways I've found helpful in this quest recently:

Hearing positive, true encouraging words on the way to work.
Recently a brother in Christ at work and I have been trading books on CD.  We're both into listening to books on our way to work. He'd loaned me one that is by a pastor who I find so encouraging that I went out and bought it for myself and keep listening to it over and over.  I want it down in my spirit.  It's super positive and my job puts me around sick, unhappy patients and their unhappy families every day.  Staff, patients, and family all come to me with their complaints and problems.  I have such an opportunity to minister God's truth and love. I can really make a difference. But it can also be draining. Sometimes the negativity feels like it's going to engulf me.  Letting super positive, encouraging, hope-filled words be read over me as I drive to work is one way to counteract all that negativity. 

Memorizing Bible verses and passages.
Memorizing has never been easy for me. Back when I was in college the first time I went through the Navigators scripture memory program.  I still remember those same verses today. I still find that they minister to me and help form the way I think and look at the world.  So I've taken the plunge and am working to memorize verses and passages again. I pray that God enable my brain to remember and use His words to change the way I think, to align me with His thoughts. 

I'm praying that God would help me recognize and catch the lies. That He would bring His truth to my mind. That He would empower me to replace lies with truth in my thought life.  That He would build truth upon truth in my innermost being.

One of the reasons I adore this 8th verse in Philippians 4 is that it's so practical.  It just comes out and explains that I'll do best if I fill my mind with, and meditate on, truth.


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