Saturday, December 22, 2012


I finished painting the above picture this past summer.  It is the 7th attempt at painting a vision God gave me during a prayer session in 2006.  I wanted to share it because it represents freedom to me and it gives me hope for more healing and being in His presence.

The original vision had a horrible black demon in the left lower corner, however, Jesus was holding the demon back.  I love how that developed or changed because it is nothing but a mere orangish fire-like corner now.  And, well, the rest of it didn't change much from the original.  Still a vision of running in a field...freedom.

I started this blog in June of '09 when I had some friends encourage me to.  They told me that I had sent them some great emails that really blessed and encouraged them so, they thought I should write similar things in a blog to encourage others.  I also thought a blog site would be a great place to share some of my poems.  So, a lot of my earlier posts show these types of things.

However, during the past couple of years, I ended up being exposed to spiritual abuse.  So, some of my posts were expressing anger about that. But, I can now move forward with a great discern-o-meter for recognizing spiritual abuse. 

So, it is my hope that God will allow me to begin again with heart-felt and encouraging posts.  While the spiritual abuse ones have ministered to others, I believe I need to find a balance.  A balance that will not only educate on spiritual abuse but will also encourage.

I pray we all would encourage one another.  I pray we all would seek His presence and live in His freedom!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pat Summitt: Changing the Game & Changing the World

March Synchroblog: All about Eve In honor of Women's History month, posts for this synchroblog will be "all about women". See list of synchrobloggers below.

Legendary Coach Pat Summitt can almost single-handedly be credited for changing the face of women's basketball. She is a leader with determination not only to win, but to win on a repeated and consistent basis.

Pat grew up with 3 older brothers(1 younger sister) and states that she can remember her mother doing everything for them and her dad. One example she recalls is her brothers holding up their tea glasses when they were empty and shaking them. A sign to her mother that they needed more tea. Pat would watch as her mother would serve them and she remembers thinking, "This isn't right!"

Was this a motivating factor to her success? Maybe. But, even if it wasn't, Pat Summitt has definitely changed inequality in NCAA basketball and now has begun to change the world with her foundation to increase awareness of Alzheimer's Disease.

The Numbers

Pat Summitt has had an extraordinary career as the head coach of the University of Tennessee (UT) Lady Volunteer's women's basketball team.  Her achievements are in the hundreds.  Here are just a few:

-She is the all time winningest coach in the history of men's and women's NCAA basketball.  Last count on her UT bio is 1071 wins to 199 losses (.843).  Mike Kryzewski, coach of the men's basketball team at Duke trails her at 833 wins to 274 losses (.752)
-She has coached 8 NCAA championship teams. Trailing only John Wooden with 10 NCAA titles
-She has 16 Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles and 14 SEC tournament titles
-She was named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000
-72% of her players have been Olympians, All-Americans, Academic All-Americans, and members of the U.S. National Team
-In 2009, The Sporting News named the 50 Greatest Coaches of All-Time.  She was 11th on the list and the only female on the list
-She was the first female basketball coach to earn a contract over a million dollars (compared to her salary as a coach in 1974 which was $8900)

The Motivator

Pat's peers describe her as well-respected, an educator, a role-model, a pioneer, ethical and a motivator.  Her players describer her as intense, determined, competitive, tough, demanding, strategic, caring and also a motivator.

"She genuinely thinks we are going to win every ball game.  She projects it.  She could say, 'Here's the game plan.  We're going to run backward down the court, and take our bras off, and swing them around our heads' And they'd(her players) nod their heads and say, 'Sounds like a winner, Coach. When do you want us to start running?'" -Mickie Demoss(assistant coach)

Pat believes ethics, principles and success should be inseparable.  She has developed her own set of principles that is called The Definite Dozen.  About these principles Pat states, "Long-term, repetitive success is a matter of building a principled system and sticking to it.  Principles are anchors; without them you will drift." 

The Definite Dozen (more description of each principle is found at The Definite Dozen):

1.  Respect Yourself and Others
2.  Take Full Responsibility
3.  Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty
4.  Learn to Be a Great Communicator
5.  Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To
6.  Make Hard Work Your Passion
7.  Don't Just Work Hard, Work Smart
8.  Put the Team Before Yourself
9.  Make Winning an Attitude
10.  Be a Competitor
11.  Change Is a Must
12.  Handle Success Like You Handle Failure
This system has definitely proven to be a motivator for her players on the court.  Off the court, this has proven true as well.  Pat has a 100% graduation rate for all Lady Vols who have completed their eligibility at Tennessee.

The Courage

On August 22, 2011 at the age of 59, Pat Summitt announced she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. In her true competitive and courageous style, she is determined to take on this disease. She started her own foundation dedicated to raising awareness and money for education, support and research of Alzheimer's. On November 27, 2011 her foundation gave $75,000 to the UT Medical Center and $75,000 to Alzheimer's Association of Tennessee. This foundation has had such a tremendous impact that the Mayo Clinic thanked her for her efforts and stated they would "wholeheartedly support her foundation".  (See The Mayo Clinic's Letter to Pat)

I really can't say enough about Pat Summitt. I would have to write an entire book to even begin to describe her role in the change of women's basketball and the change she has had in the lives around her.

As I type this, it is "March Madness" and ESPN and ESPN2 are televising the women's NCAA basketball tournament (it used to be that only the men's tournament was televised).  And, the Lady Vols are in this tournament.  Pat has had multiple appearances in the tournament with a record of 109-22(.838).

Lastly, one of Pat's recent accolades that I believe is definitely worth mentioning in light of Women's History month:

Pat was awarded the Alliance of Women Philanthropists' Brenda G. Lawson Legacy of Leadership Award at the group's annual Women and Philanthropy Symposium at the Knoxville Marriott on March 10, 2012.

The Awards Criteria:
• Committed to furthering the goals of the Alliance of Women Philanthropists
• Supports the University of Tennessee through contributions of talent, time, and financial means
• Dedicated to supporting UT in its instructional, research, outreach and fundraising initiatives
• Educates, empowers, and inspires women to be philanthropic leaders at the University of Tennessee
• Encompasses a variety of ideals including volunteerism, generosity, sacrifice, compassion, sensitivity, and humility

Pat is continuing to coach her team as her diagnosis was considered "mild".  I have no doubt that she will continue to succeed both on and off the court.  She has already left an insurmountable mark in the history of women's basketball.  And, I believe her mark on the world has only just begun. 

Links to other synchrobloggers:

Michelle Morr Krabill – Why I Love Being a Woman
Marta Layton – The War on Terror and the War on Women
Ellen Haroutounian – March Synchroblog – All About Eve
Jeremy Myers – Women Must Lead the Church
Carol Kuniholm – Rethinking Hupotasso
Wendy McCaig – Fear Letting Junia Fly
Jeanette Altes – On Being Female
kathy escobar – replacing the f-word with the d-word (no not those ones)
Melody Hanson – Call Me Crazy, But I Talk To Jesus Too
Glenn Hager – Walked Into A Bar
Steve Hayes – St. Christina of Persi
Leah Sophia – March Syncroblog-All About Eve
Liz Dyer – The Problem Is Not That I See Sexism Everywhere…
Sonja Andrews – International Women’s Day
Sonnie Swenston-Forbes – The Women
Christine Sine –
It All Begins With Love
K.W. Leslie – Undoing the Subordination of Women
Carie Good – The Math of Mr. Cardinal
Dan Brennan – Ten Women I Want To Honor

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


[This post is part of a group synchroblog. This month the bloggers will explore the idea of downward mobility and other themes in Kathy Escobar’s book, Down We Go.  Check out the awesome bloggers in the links below!  I will add more to the list as they are posted.]

I had plenty of things that got stirred up in me while reading Kathy Escobar's "Down we Go".  I don't think one post would suffice to really list all those things.  I one time told Kathy that I had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with her book.  I think it's because I love the ideas, but I also have realized that I am extremely limited in my ability to help with those she defines as marginalized.  I have the skills and all kinds of dreams that I believe would help heal the sick and free people from chronic pain.  But, no open doors quite yet.  However, I honestly believe I work with the marginalized every day(mostly geriatric population)...and, at times, I believe I have fallen into that category.  I think we all have been marginalized in some way, shape or form at some time in our lives.

I do know that I was especially stirred with the "Pursuing Justice" chapter...primarily the time and loneliness factors.  It truly does take time to sit down and be with someone in relationship and truly listen before we can understand someone's story, their needs and exactly how they are being oppressed by those around them(or as Kathy would say, people "powering up" on us).  She mentions sacrifice of time in that chapter and I too believe that is huge.  Too often that is something that no one wants to give, let alone be in relationship with someone.  Relationships during horrible seasons seem to be time spent with those we Kathy mentions, it's people like your therapist, doctor, lawyer, psychologist, etc.  Spending time with someone is the only way we see the truth in someone's heart.  And, when we know the truth...often standing up for that gets lonely too...

So, if you haven't seen the movie Flightplan, you may not know what I'm trying to get at here regarding being alone in pursuit of the truth.  I think maybe Flightplan stirred me the same way The Great Debaters stirred Kathy.  She mentions the main character Samantha struggling and having courage to keep standing up for what is right despite the loneliness and difficulties(p.187).  Different movies, but the same in standing up for what is right.  Often when we're seeing the truth and standing up for it sometimes it will be lonely and even those around us may not believe!  p.s.-if you haven't seen the movie and don't want it ruined, stop reading now and do not watch the below the movie and then finish reading/watching! ;-)

But, if you've seen the movie, you know that Kyle Pratt(Jodi Foster) is on a flight with her daughter, Julia.  They are heading home after Kyle's husband is killed falling off of a roof.  What isn't known early on is Kyle is being sabotaged.  In short, her husband was actually pushed off of the roof and now, the morgue director, one flight attendant and a federal marshal have kidnapped her daughter and have made up a story to make it look like Kyle is delusional and that her daughter was killed too.

Besides the movie just being really intense and good, it really does show how sometimes a person can be alone in fighting for what they know is the truth.  Before the ending, Kyle dealt with pretty much the whole plane thinking she was crazy!  The whole time, Kyle knows in her heart what the truth is.  Even a counselor on the plane that tries to talk to Kyle doesn't believe her...and the worst, the captain doesn't believe her! 

Just imagine having something so deep in your heart that you know is the truth and the people around you, on the same flight...headed to the same destination won't believe you and help you!  Honestly, I think that happens amongst believers more often than we like to admit.  Our pride gets in the way, we go with the flow, the cultural trends, or even as Kathy would say, the status quo.  What if one person, just took the time to listen, believe in you and not be afraid to take a stand with you?!

The last clip is the best(see below)!!!  A little longer(~5'), but SO WORTH watching!!  It is the end of the movie, but is where the truth is revealed!  Kyle does find Julia and as she comes walking away from the plane holding her, everyone is shocked.  And, the amazing thing to me is the only one to approach her and apologize...the captain.  Again, isn't that how it sometimes goes?  We are sometimes owed apologies from those around us and no one ever has the courage and humility to do that!  Only our "Captain" knows and comes to our side!

Okay, off my Flightplan, time and loneliness soap box.  But, it is what I believe has been stirred in my heart lately.  Whether Jesus is leading me "down" to spend time with the oppressed and lonely, I don't know.  I certainly can relate in some form or another.  So, I'm not sure it's downward for me.  I think it's looking at people from every walks of life and realizing no one is better/worse than me and I don't believe I go down or bow to anyone else's level to go and help them.  I think I just be with those that God has placed right front of me.  Maybe I'm reading/understanding "downward mobility" wrong.  I think maybe it's because I've been blessed by so many people that "in the world" may have lower financial status than me, but I believe that maybe "in the Kingdom" they are actually above me?!!  I don't have downward thoughts or actions about anyone...that's the way it should be.  So, honestly, it seems prideful if I were think about "going down" to someone else's level.  If anything, I am already below them. The Kingdom is everywhere and in so many hearts that see the truth.  We just may end up being alone when we stand up for that truth!  But, rest assured that in the end, the truth will be revealed.

(clip no longer on youtube :-( )

Links to other synchrobloggers:

Jeremy Myers - Till He Comes - Seeking the Next Demotion
Glenn Hager - Breathe - Pretty People
David Derbyshire - CharisMissional - Reaching the Innner City
Liz Dyer - Grace Rules - A Beautiful Mess
Christine Sine - Godspace - No Failure in the Kingdom of God
Leah Sophia - desert spirit's fire - down we go
Kathy Escobar - the carnival in my head - we may look like losers re-dux
Anthony Ehrhardt - Ant Writes - Slumming It For Jesus
Sonja Andrews - Calacirian - Diversion and Distraction
Marta Layton - Fidesquaerens - Down The Up Staircase
Wendy McCAIG - Wendy McCAIG - A Material Girl
Alan Knox - the assembling of the church - How low can you go?
Leah Randall - Journal from Zarephath - Jacked-Up
Leah Randall - Rantings of a Protestant Heretic - How Low Can We Go
Maria Kettleson Anderson - The Real Journey - Down
Hugh Hollowel - Hugh's Views - Downward

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rock and a Hard Place

[This post is part of a group synchroblog. This month the bloggers will share stories related to living a resurrected life and answering the question, "Do you live under a rock?" Check out the awesome blogger's links below! I will add to the list as they come in!]

I guess I have to admit, sometimes I have a tendency live under a rock.  Fumbling around in darkness, not really knowing which way to go, not knowing or maybe believing He is there?  I wrote about darkness back in January of 2010(Out of the Darkness) and well, it still feels like maybe my heart intermittently forgets His great love for me and why He died for me.  And, right now, I almost think I'm actually living BETWEEN "a rock" and a "hard place"!

The hard place.  It's moving forward into what I believe God has been stirring in my heart for a long time.  In the bigger picture, it's freedom.  In my head and heart, it's trying to come to terms with the fact that I have been living under an "oppressive system" in which I have been taught certain scripture or doing church.  Right now, it's confusing to me, scary and at times, very frustrating.  It feels as if I'm doing something wrong, going off the deep end or being rebellious.  But, at the same time, I KNOW it's Him.  He's there and I believe He's just telling me to trust Him and stay there.  So, it's hard right now because I sometimes want to run back to the old ways of doing things because it's familiar, comfortable...easy.  I just wrote a poem about trying to "break through" and STAY in this hard place(Ruined by Grace).  Maybe this breaking through IS learning to live on the resurrected side of the cross?  I don't know, but sometimes it is painful and full of all kinds of temptations. 

I have often heard people say that so many people live on the crucified side of the cross and not the resurrected side.  But, what DOES the resurrected side really look like?  I believe it doesn't really look different or fancy or glamorous to the world.  After all, it's the resurrection, not the ascension.  Living on the resurrected side doesn't mean life will be perfect, that we will always be happy, or that we will never experience hardship.  It just means that in all of life we trust Him and what He is doing because He paid a price and loves us and cares about us.  That's it.

The rock.  Well, right now, the rock seems to be this place or this pull of me wanting to run back to Egypt or former ways of believing.  Ways that may seem comfortable, familiar, but are still there holding my chains of oppression...bondage.  Bondage to a system that says I'm not good enough or confident enough to be "one of God's special people"(honestly, was told this by a "fellow believer" one time).  A "friend" here once told me that I better "be careful" about singing the words to the Train song, "Calling all angels" because I would some how call "bad" angels to me if I didn't sing the words, "Calling all 'good' angels" instead?!  Yea, she "knew better" because she was born in a Christian family, went to a famous Christian college and I better just "submit" because I didn't know anything!?  I think for awhile, I DID believe her!  Or at least believed things like this.  I definitely felt I was not a good Christian because I wasn't raised in a Christian home or because I had struggles...which we all do.  And, those struggles never seemed to be forgiven, rather full of guilt and shame.  So, WHY do I want to "go back"?  I guess because I DID believe all the accusations and things held over my, I kept trying and staying in submission to this type of control...maybe hoping that some day I would be the "perfect Christian".

Some times people in this place can be severe narcissists.  My friend Karla just wrote an amazing poem about this(The Religious Narcissist).  While Karla was massively exposed to the brunt of all of this, this man was in our small group for awhile and he and a couple of others really thought they were "God's chosen" and the rest of us were just peons.  It's weird...and, the hard part for me, is how sometimes they can suck you into believing some of it!?!  Yea, my problem, always trying to be friends with the narcissistic woman who thinks this?!!  These are those women that just simply surround themselves with people that they can control.  Yes, she was one in this "chosen group".  Any time a stronger woman came into her life or someone in her "chosen circle" started to question her, get more attention than her or actually just see the truth...well, she got rid of them.  And, she scapegoated them.  One of my favorite quotes...

"People will constantly try to hook your wounded self. They will point out your needs, your character defects, your limitations and sins. That is how they attempt to dismiss what God, through you, is saying to them." -Henri J. Nouwen

I know this "rock", on the other side of the "hard place" MAYBE did offer some good things at one point in life.  Things like discipline and being consistent, worship and prayer.  All very important, but they seemed to come with people who believed they had the "correct way" of doing them and any other way was a "sin".

I believe the hard place will some day get a little less scary and will reveal to me His healing and His love.  I believe it will be living in His resurrection and His glory.  And, it will no longer be a hard place that squishes me on the other side of the rock.  It will be THE ROCK that I actually stand on...Jesus, loving me and forgiving me in these hard places!  One scripture a friend recently reminded me of, Psalm 61...

"Hear my cry, O God,listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!" -Psalm 61:1-4

Yea, instead of wedging myself between a rock and a hard place, probably the best place to wedge myself in between right now is community...

THIS is why I have seen "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living"!  Because of the people who love me...He's in our hearts, Beloved...each one of us carrying on His resurrection work of healing, love, grace and forgiveness!

Links to Synchrobloggers below:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

To be heard

I have to be honest, I haven't wanted to write anything here lately.  Why?  Because it seems like for the last few weeks I've ran into more people writing about or crying out to be heard...a theme of not only being heard, but wanting to hear God, each other.  So, why write/say anymore?  Why not

I think it all started with a friends FB status talking about non-verbal communication and silence.  I'm not sure, but whatever it was, I kept running into meetings, conversations, writings and posts about listening...being heard.  So I thought, the last thing I need to do is write something...rather listen to or read another friend's words.  And, to be honest with you, I can be down right passionate about this topic and some of my feelings about it may be jaded and full of pain.  Nevertheless, I decided to write about a few things that came up.

Last week I was sitting in one of our faculty meetings at my physical therapy school here in Denver.  Part of it was a strategic planning meeting and that is when I was impacted the most.  During this time frame, ranked faculty were asked to remain silent and record feedback from affiliate faculty.  It's not often that you fill an entire room full of PhDs and get them to remain silent.  But, it was important for the improvement and growth of the program.  After all, the affiliate faculty are the ones "seeing" a different perspective of the students and how it all plays out in the clinic.  And, the thought hit me that we HAVE grown and improved!  I have watched this program go from a non-accredited status to one of the top 30 schools in America for physical therapy and I believe it's because of this type of "listening" adopted by the faculty.

Then, the sad part of the was announced that one of our faculty members is leaving and moving to Florida.  Sad because she is one that is mainly responsible for implementing this type of "active listening" into our program.  A component that threads Motivational Interviewing(MI) into the curriculum and allows for, what I believe, can be the primary success of an entire program.  I believe MI is what has allowed me to truly listen to my patients and more often than not, have an idea of what is going to help them before I even examine or treat them. 

"Listen to the patient. He is telling you the diagnosis." -Sir William Osler (1849-1919), the founding father of modern medicine.

And, I know some of you are thinking this is a "counselor only technique".  However, I believe it can be applied to ALL of us, not just licensed professionals.  And, if you are looking for a great resource on it for health care, the original MI researchers have a great book about it!  Anyway, my overall point here, is that listening can help any of us in all kinds of areas for growth, improvement...change!  And, not only is it listening, it's active listening or what MI researchers call EMPATHIC listening.  It's important to listen to family, friends, co-workers, patients/clients...AND STRANGERS!  You just never know what you might learn or maybe WHO you might HEAR FROM GOD through!

Just last week, my pastor mentioned he was disappointed in the blog sphere of articles about the Rob Bell situation.  I believe her point was just about all the craziness it caused and stirred up.  Yet, in the meantime, natural disasters and wars are breaking out all over!  Perspective, I guess.  Maybe to encourage us to be careful what we write...what we focus on?  Maybe to be careful to listen first...or better yet, pray first?  I don't know.  I don't know enough about Rob Bell and his new book to comment.  But, I do remember reading some posts about it and thinking some were just getting louder, "wordy-er" and repetitive.  However, I did read a few good posts about it:

IM Book Review: The Language of Science & Faith -Adam Palmer
Grieved by this... - Brian Newman
My 3 cents on Rob Bell's new book - Ellen Haroutunian

Interestingly enough, I think it might all go back to LISTENING rather than talking/writing.  Not only in relationship with each other, but with God.  What is God trying to say to us in all of this craziness going on right now?  We might be best to listen and not say/write anything?!  I don't know.  But, what I do know, is I want to be heard, my friends and community want to be heard and I'm pretty sure God wants to be heard.  Seems to me there are numerous times in the bible in which God mentions, "they did not listen" or "they refused to listen" or even "listen carefully".  The list goes on and on so, I do think listening is important to God.  And HEARING Him should be important to us!

"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words." -Eccl. 5:1-3

"Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." -James 1:18-20

Anyway, these are just some things that came to mind lately with this theme of listening or wanting to be heard.  Just a stirring that I believe He's creating...creating so He can be heard in my life and, so I can grow, improve and change!  And, something maybe He's stirring in others as well...just read another good post:
Listening During Lent - Liz Dyer

Something I think that will be my next read:  planetwalker.  Just one that really caught my attention lately.
Thanks for reading or should I say, listening!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Put down the axe

[This post is part of a group synchroblog. This month the bloggers will be sharing insights and thoughts about Wilderness Experiences. I will add links to the other synchrobloggers below as they come in. Check them out!  They are way cool.]

It recently occurred to me that I seem to always want that balance of remembering the “mountain top” season of blessings while I’m in the midst of a wilderness experience and yet, I also seem to want to remember what He showed me in the wilderness when I’m “on top of the mountain”!?  It’s like I need to think about His blessings and great love for me to get through desert times and then, I need to remember my brokenness and my complete dependence on Him to humble myself when I’m on the mountain top!
And, as much as I hate to admit it, I think sometimes what I might call a wilderness experience may have been just circumstance or “hard times” versus Him truly testing me/transforming me. I can’t deny the fact that sometimes when an earthly comfort is taken away I’m the one that quickly wants to yell out, “You said You’d never heap upon me more than I can bear!” True confession...and, He hasn’t. And, earthly comforts aren’t really what I need. What I need is my heart to be transformed to trust Him.  I need to trust the path that He has me on even though it may be through a wilderness.  I also believe I'm one that tends to try so hard to get through the wilderness on my own strength or at least as fast as I can!  Yea, that last one never works out for me neither!

Right now, I seem to be taking a look back at 5 years of wilderness. In these last 5 years, I truly have had many times of trauma, physical pain, heart pain, struggle and loss. During this time, I believe I always tried to look to Him and I have been very careful to listen to His voice. However, I believe at times I tried too hard. It’s like I've been trying so hard at being a good and faithful follower that I “missed the forest for the trees”.  Like taking an axe and trying to work hard at chopping down a very large tree right in front of me.  I kept chopping and swinging and hitting and believing the whole time the tree was going to fall over.  And well, it never did.

It wasn’t until recently that I stopped. I stopped and realized that He wants me to just put down the axe and know that I can’t work at this any more. I can’t make things happen. I need to just stop and let HIM do the chopping. And, I believe right now He is chopping down that tree. He is showing me glimpses of the forest and I’m getting tastes of freedom that I believe will allow me to rest in Him and just enjoy Him…even in the wilderness.

Am I moving into another season? I sure hope so. But, I don’t believe there are any guarantees. And, I don’t know that our true desert or wilderness ever completely goes away here on earth. I believe it's part of this "tension" we all talk about and experience and can be there for all kinds of reasons, but mostly I believe the tension is there because we just don’t belong here. I believe it could be that we all are just longing to go home and longing to be with Him.

I would like to think that this 5 year wilderness I've experienced would be preparing me for something here on earth. Ministering to the traumatized, the broken-hearted, the abused or the forgotten? I don’t know. It's a hope...a dream.  One that I pray He would bless and anoint.  But, I just know that for right now I need to put down the axe. And I pray that I would leave it there. For the only thing I believe I can do is take baby steps each day into the plans He has for me. To do my best to surrender and just know He is there guiding each step. He is holding me, preparing me, guiding me and completing me.  As His beloved, I pray I can truly know this, let it sink deep into my heart and trust Him.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. -Isaiah 41:10-13

Links to Synchrobloggers below:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Recently two words have become a focus or maybe a "challenge" for all of us at my church; humility and courage.  I am definitely still a work in progress regarding humility.  But, since I've written about humility (Humility, Sacrifice & Love) before, I thought I'd write about courage this time.

In the past few months, I have had an amazing picture of a lion just kind of following me around.  It started with being absolutely amazed when I first saw a big billboard of Aslan that was advertising the new Narnia movie.  It just struck me as something very powerful and yet, very tender...something very strong and yet, very gentle...something a little dangerous, yet safe.

This image definitely seemed to make me think that courage can be somewhat of a contradiction in terms.  So, I wonder, are we courageous when we step out into our greatest strength or our greatest weakness?  Are we courageous when we are trying something new or "dangerous", or are we courageous when we are confident in something safe and comfortable?

I believe courage is something that we display when we are entering the unknown, facing fear or shame, facing pain or taking that journey to triumph over sin...over evil.  A bold mindset to LIVE, yet to die to flesh and temptations that hinder us...bind us.

Here is a little poem I wrote about COURAGE...

Courage to live
     but willing to die
To flesh that's weak
     His will be mine

Courage to stand
     for what is right
Triumph over sin
     in the dark of night

Courage to remain
     when all have left
Front line danger
     opposition met

Courage to love
     and see  the heart
Longing to be free
     the wounded part

Courage to speak
     a voice within
Firmness of mind
     again and again

Courage to let go
     of fear and shame
Letting my heart
     receive His grace
                    -Tammy Carter

So, Beloved, I pray you would have courage!  Courage to overcome, to face danger, to confront fear and to live in His victory...His Salvation!

"He is the great God who sends us out like lambs amongst wolves.
Because the LION is padding by our side." -Graham Cooke

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

His instrument, His song

[This post is part of a group synchroblog. This month the bloggers will share stories related to Creativity & Christianity. Check out the awesome blogger's links below!  I will add to the list as they come in!]

I have had quite a few art forms impact me in the last 5 years.  However, recently, I have been really amazed and blessed through music.  Mainly because I have been able to work with an amazing keyboard and vocal coach.  A coach that is able to "see art" and potential in me and help bring that to the surface and, a coach that is able bring life lessons into each session.
Initially when I started playing my keyboards I was really nervous.  I hammered away at arpeggios and scales with hesitant starts and stops, no rhythm and varied volume.  I tended to be too hard on the keys and always getting ahead of the recommended time signature.  Unfortunately, not too uncommon as to how I can live my life.  I tend to be a little too hard on myself (friend's feedback), hesitate because of fear and try to get ahead of God's time signature.

The good news, my keyboard playing has become more fluent and more in time with the beat!  Why?  Well, it's because of one thing...practice.  A word that I believe He is encouraging me to learn in life too.  Practicing giving and receiving grace.  Practice "pressing in" and taking risks.  Practice waiting on God, letting go and allowing His timing to unfold.

More recently in one of my vocal lessons, my coach was working with me on placement of my voice in my head(or outside of it) to produce the desired sound with the correct volume and the most efficiency of my breath.  She proceeded to tell me a story about one of her more advanced students.  She told me that he had an amazing session in which he hit everything perfectly and then realized exactly JUST how powerful it was.  It was a time that musicians experience that really keeps them hooked...and, where it often becomes VERY spiritual in nature.  It was a time of 100% complete surrender and, as my vocal coach put it, a surrender in allowing God to "play the instrument exactly how it was intended to be played"...God's spirit singing through this student and producing His sound...perfect.

So, while practice does help, I believe surrender has to play a part.  Surrendering our lives and allowing Him to sing His song in us, over us and through us!  That piece I'm still learning too.  Practice and surrender.  Two very tough lessons.  Two that I pray become part of my keyboard playing, singing...and, part of my life.  Practice can seemingly keep us heading in a direction towards perfection, improvement and growth.  But surrender, I believe can balance that out.  A balance and a knowledge of the fact that we can only improve if it is Christ living in and through us, making even our "mistakes" look beautiful...washing away our sins!  Allowing us to grow without being too hard on ourselves!

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep." - Scott Adams

I just believe that if I can continue to remember these things and apply them to life, I will be able to be His instrument, His song.  And, to be His instrument exactly as it was intended to be played.  A total surrender to Him, allowing whatever art form to be released!  Allowing Him to live, play, paint, speak, write, act, sculpt and sing through me!  I also believe this will allow me to see the real beauty and art in myself...and, in others.

Links to Synchrobloggers below:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just before dawn

Rob Thomas has a song called, "Her Diamonds" and honestly, when I first started hearing it on the radio, I enjoyed it, but not necessarily more than any other song.  However, I heard his story behind the song and then, watched the video and was touched...deeply.  You see, Rob, wrote that song for his wife who struggled through a two year flare-up and recovery from Lupus.  Some of you may already know, but Lupus is an auto-immune disorder in which the body attacks healthy cells causing chronic inflammation.  It can attack joints, internal organs and skin causing a variety of complications such as heart arrhythmias, chest pain and most commonly reported severe muscle and joint pain.  While this list is bad enough, another symptom that I think is probably the most horrible is sensitivity to sunlight.

I don't know about any of you, but if I can't get outside and IN the sun regularly, I get a little grumpy.  I've always been an outdoor person and I'm always seeking time and ways to get outside.  If I had to STAY inside, out of the sun, it would definitely take a toll.

So, as I watched the video of "Her Diamonds" a parallel to God's Morning Star rising in our hearts started to unfold in my mind...AND, my heart.  I thought about seasons of waiting out the darkness.  Seasons of struggles, loss, grief and pain.  These are just times and seasons where we know we are going to have to walk through the darkness...walk through the pain.  And, if you are anything like me, you want the sun to come NOW, QUICKLY...TODAY!  I'm the person that reluctantly agrees when my pastor reminds me about things like "riding it out"..."taking time".  It's just like the video, which shows a gradual progress through a night of pain, we also wait for that shift to happen as we journey and it happens slowly.

When we enter this darkness, whatever it may be, initially the pain is fatiguing, debilitating, paralyzing...we are frozen.  We are in despair and blindness wondering if He is there and wondering if He will come.  Slowly with a little bit of "melting away" of that which paralyzes us, we begin to move.  We start to move and the movement is BECAUSE of the sun.  More "melting away" occurs and we gasp for air and slowly begin to breathe.  We may collapse, but we continue our movement as the sun begins to rise.  We are now bathed in a gentle light and starting to lift ourselves up because we are in a "just before dawn" twilight.  There is hope...hope that the sun is rising.  Honestly, this is some of what I thought of as I watched the video.

Another thing that is amazing to think about is Rob's lyrics about how he can't really help his wife: 
"It's funny how the night can make you blind, and I can just imagine"
"but if she feels bad then I do too, so I let her be"
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do, so I sit down and I cry too"
"It's hard to see them(tears) on the ground"

But, I think maybe he DOES know how to help her.  In our dark times, don't we just want someone to say, they can't imagine what we are going through, that they feel bad and maybe just sit with us...walk with us...CRY with us?  I bet it IS hard for a bridegroom to see his bride's tears.  In fact, our Bridegroom COLLECTS them! 

"You have taken account of my wanderings;
put my tears in Your bottle
are they not in Your book?" -Psalm 56:8(NASB)

If you want, take a moment to watch Rob's video:

So, Beloved, in times of darkness, may you remain faithful and continue to seek Him.  Daybreak is coming, the scene is shifting and you will stand in brilliant light.  And may the brilliance of this light be fierce and friendly and FUN!  You just might be surprised as you look back across the dark field you walked through and see that during those times He WAS there!  Every place that you sat down across this field...this dark journey is planted with good because He always traveled with you!  AND, slowly and gently He will point to your heart, and you will look down and see Him because an even MORE magnificent daybreak is happening in your heart!  It is a joyous day!

"Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I" - Isaiah 58:8-9

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paralysis in His Presence

[This post is part of a group synchroblog. This month the bloggers will share stories of epiphany. I will add links to the other synchrobloggers below as they come in.  Check out the way cool blogger's links below!]

It was March 11, 2006 and I began the day skiing with a few friends at Breckenridge(Colorado).  Just a normal day of hitting the back bowls early and trying to catch "fresh powder"!  It was our second run down the Imperial Bowl and to this day, well, I don't know what happened.  NO trees around me, no other skiers/snowboarders.  I either "caught an edge" or hit ice and began an end over end crash that whip lashed my neck extensively.  I remember lying in the aftermath, and everything becoming a "slow motion", just like you experience/hear about when someone describes being in an auto accident.

I was lying face up and STILL can picture in my mind the sky and the clouds as if they were floating by slowly.  My friend Carter came to me first and I said, "Carter, you HAVE to start praying, I can't move!"  He did...AND, I did!  You have to know, I am a VERY private person with prayer and ESPECIALLY with my prayer language.  In fact, NO ONE, except my Savior has heard my prayer language.  However, that day, I'm pretty sure most everyone in Breckenridge heard it!

It was about 5 minutes into the recovery process that I started moving my legs a little.  I started sliding my heels up and down and was so excited, tears started rolling and the ski patrol even had to tell me to STOP moving them!  They were trying to be very cautious of my neck and not move it/me.  I have to say, the Breckenridge ski patrol did a phenomenal job!  One patrol did nothing but hold on to my helmet to keep my head and neck from moving as one dug out snow from underneath me to place a neck collar on. Then, as most of you may have guessed I began the "fun" ride down the hill in the patrol's toboggan!

At the base, I was immediately taken to Breckenridge Medical Center, x-rays were taken(no fractures), but then, the doctor came in and talked to me about my spinal see, even though I had movement in my legs, my arms were still not moving AND, they were in extreme burning pain!  The doctor looked at me and said, "I don't think we have to fly you, we are going to get you to Swedish Medical Center(Denver, CO) by ambulance.  But, I'm worried about your spinal cord.  I'd like to start Sol-u-Medrol before we transport you."  To that I honestly said, "PLEASE!" (yes, the doctor seemed surprised by my response)  However, I'm a physical therapist, and THAT day I remember that one of our neuro professors made a comment in class about wanting to get a tattoo on her body that said, "If I have a spinal cord injury, please inject steroid immediately!"  Crazy, the things that you remember in those times!  You see, research has proven that if you get steroid started with a spinal cord injury in a 3 hour window, the better the recovery!  AND, the REALLY amazing thing to think about is the time frame from the VERY top of Breckenridge, to the base and the quick decision by the doctor to do so, was an absolute miracle!

At this point, I had hope.  However, the remaining question was why my arms weren't moving.  I remember the ambulance guys talking to me.  One was giving me a "hard time" trying to make me laugh and the other one responded, "You better be careful, she's going to be able to slap you in a few weeks!"  hmmm...hope?  What were they talking about?  Yea, one of those times/injuries where maybe it's BEST not to know too much about the nervous system.  But, they had hope so, at the time, it helped!

I eventually had CAT scans and MRI's done at the hospital in Denver where they found spinal cord damage from a complete herniated C5/C6(lower neck levels) disc and a C4/C5 disc bulge.  The MRI's that day showed a squiggly line across the spinal cord which the doctor's pointed out to me as damage.  AND, with TWO of my follow ups with Neurosurgeons, I had a "panel" looking at MRI's, scratching their heads, and making me get up and walk down the hall!  Still not moving arms, but they were surprised by the damage that I was even walking!

The decision was then that I had NO choice but to have a fusion surgery on my neck.  They waited 8 weeks in order to allow some of the swelling to decrease.  THEN, another set of MRIs!  The amazing thing...this time...NO squiggly line, just some damage left on the front part of the cord!!!  Yea, it IS kind of fun to watch God leave doctor's scratching their heads!  AND, well, as you might have guessed I had some of my arm movement back!  Don't get me wrong, this part took A LOT of hard work with therapy and exercises, but the movement came!  AND, the cool thing some of the fine motor skills returned with practice on a keyboard/piano, journaling, knitting AND, water coloring! 

As I continued my healing, my total time of intense stuff lasted about 5 months!  No driving, lifting, working...VERY hard for a very independent person!  So, even MORE miracles seemed to "surface" during this time!  Visits and rides from church, to get groceries, a get well card with a grocery gift card in it, my Alma Mater providing computer work for me to do from home, AND, MANY, MANY, MANY times of powerful contemplation and intimacy with my Savior!

Some might say it was "shock" and well, the human body does do that with trauma, but that was probably only a small part when I was being cared for on the mountain.  After that, I believe it was MY epiphany/manifestation of His healing, provision, rest and ROMANCE!  You can't explain the "3 hour window" miracle, Neurosurgeons unable to explain damage vs. function, decreased damage across the spinal cord 8 weeks later(the nervous system is SLOW in healing), walking, return of arm/hand movement(my livelihood), provision and AMAZING calmness of heart and peace in my soul!  I remember times when I could spend HOURS in contemplation, praise or even doing my artwork without a single care or distraction!

His presence in my paralysis seemingly CARRIED me through one of the worst things that I've had to go through!  If this manifestation was a "wilderness by default" well, I don't care, He was THERE!  And the beautiful thing NOW!  I REALLY KNOW what my patients are going through!  I can relate to severe neurological hypersensitivity and PAIN!  I now carry that understanding and compassion into every patient room I walk into.  And my prayer is that they would SEE that compassion as Christ in me!  For I am and THEY are His Beloved!

Here is a list of participants with links to their contributions:

Ellen Haroutunian - Stories of Epiphany

Kathy Escobar - Orphans

Mike Victorino - What To Do?

Beth Patterson - A Robust Universe Includes The Botched and Bungled

Jeff Goins - The Manifestation of God

Jeremy Myers - Pagan Prophecies of Christ

Mark Smith - Manifestation of God

Minnow - When God Shows Up

Alan Knox - A Day I Saw Jesus

Liz Dyer - God Breaking Through Moments

Josh Morgan - The Manifestation of God

Steve Hayes - Theophany: the manifestation of God

Sarah Bassey - In which Annie opens the door of her heart

Katherine Gunn - Who is God

Christine Sine - Eve of Epiphany-We Have Come, We Have Seen, Now We Must Follow

Peter Walker - Epiphany Outside Theophany (Outside Christianity)

Annie Bullock - God With Us