Monday, August 28, 2017

The Shadow of the Giant

Intimidation is a powerful thing.  It is manipulative, overpowering, and irrational.  It is the school-yard bully of the mind, throwing it's weight around and forcibly pushing your thoughts into unwanted places - though it is rarely the great threat it makes itself out to be.  And the main goal of intimidation is to direct you away from your purpose, and to minimize the importance of the things you are called to do.

Some years ago I was on a mission trip in East St. Louis.  Our main focus was what our base church called Super Church.  We would set up in an empty lot with games and food, inviting all the kids in the area to join.  To help put this into context, we were a group of white kids from a small southern town running around the projects of St. Louis, knocking on doors and asking if their kids wanted to come play and eat hot dogs and snow cones.

The church we worked with was well-known and liked in this community. However this did not detract from the bullet holes in the walls, the cars driving by us a little too slowly, or the long stares we would get.  It's easy to understand the intimidating feelings that would creep into our minds.  I brushed those thoughts aside and kept going.  I was a brave young woman marching in the Lord's army, after all.  And since I was such a brave young woman marching in the Lord's army, the bully of intimidation chose to hide behind the most frightful enemy in the projects of East St. Louis.  While I geared up for the day, I was unaware I would be facing a giant.

My pastor approached me.

"I think you would be really good at being the story teller," he said.  I beamed.  The story teller was essentially the person that provided the lesson to all the kids.  Today's story?  David and Goliath.

We gathered a group of kids, played, and then sat on the grass to sing songs before the lesson.  I looked about and decided to sit next to a little girl with head full of tiny braids, each carefully held with cheerful beads and clips.  I sat down, expecting a Hallmark card-worthy experience.

The little girl, no more than 6 years old leaned back and gave me the most disgusted death-stare I had ever seen.  Her eyes wide, brows furrowed, looking me up and down as if to say "Who told you that you can sit here?"   The Giant had arrived.  

I wondered why this kid hated me so much.  Wondered what she was thinking.  What she might say or do.

We all stood and played kid's dancing songs like Father Abraham.  I would dance, force a smile and glance at The Little Giant.  She stood still, not participating, and just stared me down.  I continued dancing and singing with a smile while my thoughts raced.  This girl is going to stab me.

Once the songs were sung, I was called up to tell everyone about David and Goliath.  I spoke of how David only came to bring food to his brothers, but went up against Goliath the Giant.  How he heard the giant calling out for his blood and David was unfazed. I expounded on how Goliath thought this scrawny, crazy kid was standing alone, but David was standing by the God of Creation.  I detailed how he chose to stand between the giant and a trembling army with a sling in one hand, a rock in the other, and the knowledge that his God was mighty.  And I told how Goliath fell with one shot, to the amazement of his older, more burly brothers as they watched from the shadow of Goliath.

Once done, I stepped away from the platform and paused.  Maybe I should sit somewhere else.  I saw her sitting there, her dark, unblinking eyes peering from between the faces of much more smiley-faced children.  But something tugged within me.  I returned to her side and smiled at her.  She glared back at me, and I sighed quietly.

The pastor recapped the lesson to the crowd, and we bowed our heads and prayed.  Silently, I prayed for the little girl, hoping for even the slightest bit of understanding of why I was sitting there.  After that quick prayer, I sat for a moment, intimidated by this little giant.  This tiny Goliath that had me shaking in my armor.  

I turned to her and asked, "What did you think about David?"  The girl shrugged.  I steadied myself and tried again, praying inside.  "Is there anything that is scary like a giant to you?  Something you would want to talk to God about?"

The little girl leaned forward, wrapped her arms around my neck, and then draped herself in my arms.  She quietly told me that some people are looking for her brother, and described how they all had to sleep on the floor in case those people drive by shoot through the windows.  We prayed.  I told her to be brave - told her that God is not going to leave her or her family alone.  We just sat there together, and I prayed.  No longer for my own courage, but for hers.  For her brother.  For her family.  For her faith, her safety, and for her spirit to not be broken by her surroundings.  I prayed for her victory over the Giants casting shadows over her.

I held her in my arms and wondered.  How could I have been so intimidated by such a sweet, wonderful little girl? 

She was not the Giant, she was just in the shadow of one.

Until then, I had been seeing her in the shadow of her giants.  The darkness hid her away, shrouded her in a tough, confused, and distrusting shade.  And I was afraid, bullied by the giants that stomped through her world. 

Our assignment rarely looks like our purpose.  I didn't sign up to comfort kids dealing with gang violence or poverty - I was just there to sing Father Abraham.  I had understood my assignment, but was unaware of my purpose until I battling giants armed with little more than a snow cone.  David didn't leave home that day to fight, but to simply bring his brother's lunch.  God's goal wasn't to bring a sandwich to the soldiers, it was to navigate His light into a shady situation. 

If Christ is in us, our calling is to let His line shine out from us by praying, interacting with, and loving others.  We are called to stand between people and their giants and let the Light shine.  And when we do, the shadows of those giants are interrupted, and we see those people as God sees them.  But I had to stand before those giants first.  My faith had to be put in motion before my sight became clear.

Assignments are simple.  Purpose call for faith.  Purpose leads us against giants.
We discount our assignments because we are intimidated into not realizing their purpose.

"Oh I just hand out snacks at children's church."
"It's just a shoe-box with some kids toys."
"It's just a church bus."
"I made casserole I made for so-and-so that has been sick.  It's not that important."

Your assignment seems so minimal, but if effects eternity.  You stand between souls and their demise.  You bring light to the darkness.  Don't let the shadows of giants intimidate and bully you into thinking your assignment lacks purpose. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Difference of Five Years

How I felt at 26:

How I feel at 31:

Monday, April 20, 2015

17 Gifs the Surgical Techs will Totally Understand

1.  Trying to explain to the lay-person what a surgical technologist does:

2.  Especially when someone says, "You just pass stuff to the surgeon, right?"

3.  When the wires and hoses won't. Stop. Tangling.

4.  When the surgeon starts to ask for something that you're already passing to them:

5.  Or nonchalantly catching the instrument before it falls off the sterile field.

6. How we talk about blood and gore to friends and family:

7.  How we act about said blood and gore in the O.R.

8.  Cleaning out the belly button of patients and finding stuff.

9.  When being in full sterile attire gets you out of cleaning up the huge code brown or other super-dirty thing:

10.  Watching the seasoned tech set up the super-complicated, multiple table procedure in under 4 minutes flat:

11.  When you find out that the surgeon you're with has a brand new resident.

12.  Getting the back table perfectly set just in time for the case to cancel:

13.  Being sent to sterile supply for something that's needed STAT:

14.  You and your friends or family when you go to lunch while "on call" and your phone rings:

 15.  Walking into a procedure you've barely heard of, let alone worked in before:

16.  When you're holding 4 clamps and a retractor and the surgeon says "Here, take this."

17.  The moment when a patient actually thanks you for helping them.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Song of Hope

What song does hope sing?  What sanguine rhythm beats from the heavy heart abound in a last-chance quest of those with nothing left to lose?  

In chapter seven of Kings II, we find Samaria in Syria's choke hold.  A long-standing siege had placed the city so deep in starvation that women were eating their own children.  The city could not overthrow Syria's army, nor could they hold out much longer.  Outside the gates sat four lepers, each of which survived on the scraps of those that dwelt in the city.  Only the scraps weren't coming any longer.  Anything within in the city worth eating was long gone.  There they sat, sick and starving, their options dwindling with what strength they had...

"Let's go surrender to Syria," said one leper to the others.  I'm certain someone looked shocked at the suggestion.  "C'mon, we're going to die if we just sit here, and we know the city can't feed us any longer.  Even if the Syrians kill us, at least it'll be a quick death."  Anything sounded better than the slow agonizing death of starvation.

So they began their walk, with death at their backs and a likely death before them.  Yet they moved forward on the slim chance that they would find mercy at the hand of their captors.  They had no idea what awaited them.  For as they arrived at the Syrian camp, they found the place deserted - a ghost town.  The whole stock of supplies - including food - sat unguarded!  What the lepers did not know was that as they walked toward the camp, the great army of Syria heard massive platoons of armies heading their way.  A sound of armies so fierce that the Syrian soldiers dropped everything and immediately ran.  What sounded like marching armies were merely a few skinny, sickly men stumbling through the leaves.  That is the sound of hope in action.  

It is so difficult to keep hope in mind when it seems we are trapped by our circumstances.  It's hard to hold fast to the promises God has given when hunger pangs come about.  So easily are God's words muffled out by the pain life can bring.  Perhaps that is part of what makes God's mercy so beautiful, so necessary.  The fact that God answers the most hopeless sounding prayers is amazing.  And He does.  This is how we always have hope in Christ.  And we can slowly make our way in the direction of hope, limping through the dead leaves of a forest of troubles.  In our view, it seems so pitiful, and perhaps it is.  Yet the enemy camp scurries away from our hope like darkness retracts from light.
What song does hope sing?  It is a marching ditty, a battle cry.  We rarely know the power in a little hope moving toward it's fate.  To us it is a whispered, faithless prayer.  Yet it resounds off the walls of heaven and rumbles fiercely in the heart of the enemy's camps.  When God's children hope, strongholds quake, battalions scatter in fear, for they hear the greatest of armies moving into attack form.

What song does hope sing?  Heaven knows, and so does Hell.  It is the very sound of God's promises and Christ's victory blazing over the hillside, finally crushing the head of the old serpent himself, pushing back the dark angels into the shadowed world of Hades for good and forever.  And it is the war-cry of a wearied, yet victory-bound soldier, clad in his Savior's spotless uniform.  It is a song penned in the Blood of Christ, whose rhythm, established by the beat of God's heart for His creation, was toned by the sound of a hammer against nails, a song which death listened, astonished, at the solo of a stone moving from the face of a tomb.

That is the song of hope.  Even the slightest hum of it's verses never cease to astonish.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Callista, The Destroyer of Lands

     Summer is now here, oppressively lashing the Sun's rays upon the Earth like some angry taskmaster.  Dang, I hate the Summer season.  And everyone I talk to is like "How could you hate Summertime, it's so pretty!  Yeah, right.  The inside of my house is all the pretty I see - I can't go outside lest I subject myself to triple-digit heat.  And I always fall for the same crap every year, I look outside and decide it's looks so nice outside.  I'll make plans and pack some stuff and stumble out of my A/C and realize that it's hotter than the first circle of hellBut people will be waiting on me, so I wind up blistering out in the hot sun, all the while wondering why on Earth I thought this would be more fun than playing through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time again.  Summer can suck my foot.

     Anyway, I'm blogging to apologize to everyone and notify that everyone should move away if I'm living in your area.  I've come to the conclusion that I am The Destroyer of Lands.  I know I don't look like the candidate for widespread pain and destruction, but that's just because I'm like that little kitten that you take in because it looks so lonely and afraid and hungry, but then after you've already set-up a litter box and bought the cat food and little feathered toys you find out that the little kitten has somehow grown into an eight-foot-tall bear-shark and has eaten your children, jumped out the window and reduced your entire city to rubble. 

     When I move into a new area, the whole place seems to immediately befall some horrid weather - most often drought and severe temperatures.  Don't believe me?  I moved to Texas about 18 months ago.  As soon as I decided to move there, someone shut the rain off.  Seriously.  I think there's even a news report that covers a downpour that stopped immediately, and the rain that was in mid-air sucked back up into the clouds.  And this happened in the same hour that I announced on facebook that I was moving. Don't even bother Googling it, because it's that true.  This drought lasted for something like a year, and stopped when I decided to move back to Arkansas.  As soon as I started making plans to move, rains began again.  And I've been gone for only a month now and they've got a tropical storm moving in.  For real.

     The winter while I was in Texas, Arkansas had what is considered one of the mildest, most pleasant winters on record.  Now I've moved back, and Arkansas is suddenly in a 10 inch rain deficit.  We've reached triple-digit heat nearly six weeks earlier than normal.  Arkansas, I'm sorry.  I didn't realize I was here to obliterate you.  It follows me around everywhere I go, like a dog with fleas.

     So I guess this is my fate.  I'm here to destroy you all.  I am she who will wither your crops, she that causes your lakes to shrivel and your rivers to run dry.  I am the scourge upon your blistered, scorched earth.  I am The Destroyer of Lands.

     Maybe I should make business cards.

I went to vistaprint's website and started skulking around.  I thought this background is alright.  Kind of looks supervillan-going-all-crazy-ish.  I don't know if it's really me.  I left it kind of simple, contact-wise.  I mean, I'm certain that once word gets out of my true identity people will be trying to get a hold of me.  A phone number and a website should be enough, right?  The more I look at this, the less convince that I think the back ground works.  I think it doesn't convey the message quite properly.  I mean, I'm an epic annihilator of worlds, but I'm not jerk or anything - nor am I a young man wearing cargo shorts as the picture indicates.

     Okay, now this is more like it.  It says "I may be the oncoming onslaught of human extiction, but I'm still like cupcakes.  And baby deer."  I think it's just right.  Besides look at that cute little bird!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why I Never Post

For all two of my readers, I'm going to lay it all on the line. I just don't post. Practically ever. You probably don't really care, as this blog isn't exactly the highlight of your lives, but I tend to think that if I sit down and hammer out a post on my blog someone will stumble upon it and be all like "This is the greatest blog EVAR!"
The only problem is this one, simple fact: I make writing extremely 'effing difficult. Over the years I've seen so many movies, pictures, t.v. characters etc. that showcase writers all laid back and calm, sipping hot coffee in a corner of a cafe as they type up an amazing something.

Unfortunately that's not me.

There are about a ellebenty thousand arbitrary ritualistic rules I put on myself for writing. Like, right now? I'm trying to ignore most of them. I've brushed my teeth, brushed my hair twice, and gone to the bathroom twice. Now three times (brought on because I thought of it). I go to the bathroom as a part of this weird pacing regime. When I first started writing, I was almost always completely alone in a house when I wrote. I would write a couple sentences, get up and pace back and forth through a couple of rooms with some sort of inner monologue concerning what I was writing about. It's a weird tick, I know, but it worked for me. But since then I've moved into a place with other people. I can't pace throughout the house anymore, and my ticks must be confined to my own room. I can tell you, there's not much pacing to do in one room. So I wind up with this overwhelming urge to pee every 20 minutes or so. I tried to appease my pacing oddity with just kind of standing in my room shuffling a little side to side or swaying back and forth, but doing so brought these horrible images to my mind of crazy people in mental hospitals that do that, and got freaked out that perhaps this is how it started.

The biggest 'rule' I'm ignoring is the clean and organized desk rule. My desk is currently piled with stuff, and I just can't really concentrate because for every phrase I type I stop and think "I need to put the box for my Photoshop program away. Where can I put it? I don't just want to toss it in my desk area. Maybe in my bottom drawer? No, that's where my electronics go. Maybe I should just take the disk out of the box and put it in my cd case that has all my other programs in it? AND THROW AWAY THE BOX?!?" That's just one item.

And, if it was just the problem of the desk, that wouldn't be that bad. I could technically organize my desk in a half hour or so, but I can't organize my desk, because there are a few items to be put in other places. So, I'll pick up something off my desk, go to put it in its place, only to start fumbling with everything else that's there, re-assessing why I've put it there and trying to decide if there is a better place for it.

Wow, am I on a tangent. Back to blogging. So yeah. Writing is seriously hard when you're an effing psycho. I recently purged a couple big time rules I had about my blog, namely I'm going to write about what the heck I want to write for the sake of writing. I've tried to keep a more... um... formal writing style, usually trying to be informative with some of my posts, and I've spent years desperately thinking about a theme or area of topics to stick to. But since I can't write anyway, might as well not write about everything. Another arbitrary thing I've slaved under is this horrible fear of unoriginality. I don't want to possibly write in a way that's similar to someone else. Now I'm like "Eff that. I'll write how I want, even if I want to write like someone else."

Take this post for example. I was cruising the internet a few weeks ago when I came across this blog, and was amazed by two things: This person was hilarious as all get-out, and "Holy crap, I can draw pictures for a blog?!?"

I don't know why the thought never crossed my mind before: A blog doesn't have to be a giant wall 'o' text. It doesn't have to be about something uber-important, or written in some amazing Oxford-style writing.

i coold eeven ryte lik dis if I wanted to. But I don't want to because people that write like that make me want to falcon punch babies.

But from now on I'll just write about whatever the heck I feel like writing. In anyway I feel like writing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Last Holdout (pt. 1)

Who is the Last Holdout?

It's a dirty sentence for me to say, but I'm hurtling headlong into the ripe-old-age of 28. My age doesn't bother me. The numbers can't really compare the the rather interesting life I've lived so far. There's been quite a bit of adventure for me, considering I'm still so young.

However, I'm finding myself pushing deeper into a rather imposing and increasingly desolate territory: happily single. Never married. No kids. Some look at me, tilting their heads slightly to the side, thinking "Aww... how sad, maybe someday..." I find the sentiment vaguely understandable - albeit slightly pretentious. However, the pity is unnecessary. I'm happily single. Unattached does not equal alone; childless does not equal unfulfilled.

While I am not lonely, I do find myself at times alienated to some degree. In my post-teen years, the number of my peer group being single was the majority. Yet after age twenty, the singles' scene began a rapid decrease. Although I was still gathered with many single friends and such, I witnessed several friends - close friends - marry, have children, and begin new lives. Now, we've always heard of the phrase "Begin a new life together", but we didn't realize that there was a whole second half of that sentence. The full sentence that needs to be said is "The two will begin a new life together - without you." Somehow it's never been fully explained to me that single people and married people do not really hang out together. There's some sort of threshold crossed once a couple becomes married.

As time went on, I began to see my circle of friends dwindle. We became a tight pack of close-knit friends, but one by one they would marry or perhaps move away to bigger and better places. I myself, moved, and found myself trying to scratch up a new set of single friends. Awkwardness was evident, as I would be invited to "girls nights" that wound up being nothing more than moms babysitting their own kids while watching movies, or starting to overhear more and more about marriage woes. The most awkward, naturally, is the dreaded questions or "cute" comments pointed in my direction about when I was going to ante-up to the matrimony gods and begin my procreation (anyone else get the "You're next" statement at a wedding?). Or worse - being asked if I was lesbian "because you just don't seem to be interested in dating..."

After a lot of frustration I began to learn the ultimate truth that I was a Last Holdout. What's that, you ask? A Last Holdout is a person who's managed to make it past the age group that most people get married. Simply put, it's the chronically single person in a world that believes it shan't be single. It's a very singular (no pun intended) position in society, one that holds frustrations and certain moments of alienation, yet has equally fantastic opportunities and perks that only us Last Holdouts can reach.

Could I Be a Last Holdout?

Mostly, people hit that feeling of being "the only single person left on the planet" once they reach 26. I don't know why we pair up in only about 6 years or so, but that seems to be a biological clock that just doesn't change (and why would we?). Ergo, if you're only 19 and you think you're a Holdout? You probably just didn't have many friends to begin with. There's plenty of single friends to be had. But if you can relate to the above, you're likely to be a Holdout. A few more symptoms are things such as finding that you make or have more friends outside of your age group, and of course being the only single person on the girls/guys night. I think most people are capable of diagnosing themselves.

It's a great and terrible position to be in, depending on how much you want to be married. I myself enjoy the freedoms of single life, so I'm finding new perks of being a Holdout. However, there's a lot that we all (Holdouts, young singles, and married people) need to learn to properly utilize the lofty - yet precarious - place.