Around the house and Charlottesville

Current happenings:

1) Today is my first day of unscheduled activity since July 1st.  I napped.  Read a book for leisure. And went to the gym late.

2) Yesterday I received a $2000 scholarship from the Sun Health Foundation for use towards my Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. I'm very thankful there are people in the community who give their money to invest in nursing students.  These people are often the patients cared for by the Banner hospital system.  And as one of their donor's put it, they would like us to be better nurses when they're in our care.  I can appreciate that.  I want future nurses who may care for me to be better nurses too, which is why I love having students when I work. 

3) After talking with several nurses I work with I decided to call Grand Canyon University to look into their RN to BSN program.  Turns out those nurse's gave me good advice.  Grand Canyon won't require me to take any additional math and I get a tuition discount for working for Banner hospitals.  Yay me!

4) The front covered patio project is nearly completed. The actual patio and permit for that project has been reviewed by an inspector from the county and passed inspection.  There's no longer a timeline pressing my husband to get the project done, but there are still endless projects to be done.  We both feel relieved just to be done with the patio/permit/inspection process. And it looks really nice.  James definitely has a gift for quality craftsmanship.  Next, the siding and landscaping of the front yard will happen, but for now, the before and after pics look like this.




Current even thoughts:

The events in Charlottesville Virginia sicken me.  As a white, Christian American I feel the need to stand on the rooftop and shout at the Alt Right and white supremacy groups wearing their stupid costumes and spewing their violent, evil agenda:  YOU BROOD OF VIPERS!  

I would like to simultaneously shout to my neighbors:  THAT IS NOT CHRISTIANITY!  Christ is the Lord of peoples from every tribe, tongue and nation.  Heaven will be ethnically and beautifully diverse.  There is no such thing as white supremacy.  White supremacists are terrorists using the name of God, Christ and the Bible blasphemously.  

It bothers me A LOT that our president is quick to tweet attacks on people for all sorts of things but he needed two days to think about the facts before Luke-warmly speaking out against the violence in Charlottesville.  He needed to stand up there and say, "White supremacists are terrorists among us and they will not be tolerated!"   If a Muslim gunman ran into a building shooting people at a club he wouldn't have flinched at calling it Islamic terrorism.   The evil that people do in the name of God is evil, no matter what religion they use to defend it. 

I love the Christ I have never seen and worship the God of the Bible.  I believe he is the way, the truth and the life, but I don't believe that means everyone who calls on the name of the God of the Bible is a Christian.  Nor do I believe that every person who calls upon the name of Allah is a terrorist.   There is a very scary evil in the hearts of every human being, that unchecked by the grace of God is capable of the atrocities we see in every ethnicity.  

I don't want any part of racism.  I want to find deliberate ways to bring healing and reconciliation to the people of darker pigments and other cultures in my neighborhood, workplace, community and country.   I feel like under our current president, the efforts of real Christians shining the light of Christ in this dark world is increasingly in direct opposition with our historic right-winged political affiliations.  

The United States of America is a country built on the backs of African slaves.  The history of racial discrimination is in our roots and its still producing the evil fruit of violence and hate towards people made in the image of God.  As a white person I want to be part of laying an ax to the root of racism that is part of the culture I take for granted every day.  Charlottesville has me thinking and praying about ways I can do that.

I work in an environment that's very diverse.  My little street here is pretty white.  And in this rural street of a major metropolis it's easy to not think much about racism and my role in bringing reconciliation where there has historically been division and pain.  In an article I read the other day I came across a suggestion for how to bring hidden thoughts about racism to light by inviting friends and neighbors to discuss the goings on in Charlottesville.  I think that's a good place to start.  

the good stuff

I've been mostly offline for the past 10 days while at Sierra Bible Camp with my sister, her family and my boys.  But we're home now, back in the groove of booking faces and hashing tags (as Mister Brown would say), and accessing the world wide web between loads of post-camping laundry and back-to-school shopping.

This is our second year going to Sierra Bible Camp with my sister.  Last year I was only there for the last 3 days of camp, my boys were there for the whole week.  This year I was able to take time off work to go for the entire week and was very blessed with being able to teach 6-9 year olds the gospel while I was there.  Teaching and listening to the teaching from Mister Brown (the speaker for the camp), and hearing people's stories and watching my sister and her children's ministry team work with 35 kids between infancy and 9 years of age stirred me up!  I needed stirring.

As I think over the specific ways God impressed something on me this past week, I come up with 7 good things.

1. It's good to get away with God

Honestly it's been years since I've been to any kind of organized Christian retreat or camp... more than 14 years.  I intentionally seek out time alone with God each day.  A walk alone.  Sitting out on the patio alone.  Staying in my room alone.  Praying, reading scripture, chewing on the gospel in my fight to live by faith and turn from my old sinful self.  But there is great benefit to a setting aside, week or even weekend, away from the daily grind, soaking up what the Holy Spirit would teach and comfort through God's word and God's people.

2. It's good to be with God's broken people

The church is full of people.  With problems.  Like me. It gets messy.  It's hard to hear people's stories sometimes.  But to see the power of the gospel really transform a person's life, little by little... watching those "ah-ha" moments of revelation as a Bible verse is studied or preached.  Seeing people sing for joy and repent of sin and love people different than themselves... it's a beautiful thing.

3. It's good to serve children and their parents

The week at Sierra Bible Camp I spent as a co-teacher with my sister of the pre-campers (age infant to 3rd grade).  My sister has a God-given charismatic personality that instantly engages children.  I'm not so charismatic, but I love the gospel and the scriptures... I love to talk to kids about Jesus.  Being around my sister is good for me.  Her zeal and passion and joy are contagious.  She makes me want to smile more and dance around a little.  Getting to work with her and her team of faithful, loving women who served these 30 plus littles and their parents lit a fire in me!  When you have to put the good news about Christ and the doctrines of justification and sanctification into words and illustrations a 6-9 year old can understand, it reminds you of the wonder of how simple and deep the gospel is.  God's message in Christ invites little children to come to him.  And it's a joy of joys to get to be the one doing the inviting!

4. It's good to hear God's word preached with power and application

Mister Brown was the guest speaker at the camp this year.  His ministry through Proclaim Ministries and Hello Mister Brown, has a huge impact on students but also the parents and teachers who get the privilege of hearing him too.  Being a black man, raised in "the hood", as he put it, without a father, in a church where he confessed he was focused on the pretty girls more than God, he had a life experience that could testify to the transforming power of the gospel while understanding the circumstances many of the students there found themselves in.  He brought the gospel message in every talk while teaching the Bible, emphasizing the importance of memorizing scripture, and connecting the Bible to the relevance of the broken young lives listening to him.  I HIGHLY recommend him as a speaker for youth events. I left each session convicted of my laxness towards memorizing scripture and speaking it into my life and my sons' lives.  I left praying, confessing and resolving to make God's word my priority.

5. It's good to revive resolves

The combination of working with those kids and meeting people with stories of broken lives, seeking Jesus, and the preaching of God's word sent me home here to Arizona with a renewed desire to love my husband and children, teach my boys the ways and word of the Lord, and to give myself to the building up of the local church in whatever way God would have me do that.  I love the church.  I love God's people.  I love that we're broken and being made new day by day and we love each other.  My resolve to pray with confidence in God's promises and to pour out my heart to the Lord, trusting that he will not give up on his promise to complete the good work he's started in me.

6. It's good to be outside

Northern California is a beautiful place!  Spending time outside is almost instantly a magnifier of God's praise in my heart.  The detail and purpose and design in God's creation captures me.

7. It's good to play

Have you heard of Gaga Ball?  I played this not-too-technical game with kids I've never met before, my own kids and other adults.  I never won a round.  But watching the kids self-govern the game fairly and cheer for each other and call each other out on things was great fun.

Tomorrow I go back to a full time work schedule as a nurse and my sons start their first day of high-school and eight grade.  May God be with me in every circumstance everyday to live for his glory!

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