"To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exltation; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived...this is to have succeeded." _Ralph Waldo Emerson_

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Isaiah First

The beginning

The end

Okay, I know, I am well aware, I am totally guilty. I am an anal mom. Not only am I very picky and choosy about the 'sugar' in Isaiah's diet, I am also a neat freak. So meals that are messy, are few and far between. I just cringe at the thought of food on clothes, but hey, with bibs and a few stratigically placed bottles of shout around the house, clothes stay looking pretty new!
I gave in, and while Daddy was risking life and limb, (continue further) I gave Isaiah something to distract him from running into the 'danger zone.' Isaiah had his first lollipop. It was thrilling for him to say the least. MESSSSSSY. And before he knew what hit him, he was doused in Shout spray, and carried on playing.
I would just like to point out that it could only have been a man that decided it was a good idea to create a chainsaw on the end of a long stick. And then our neighbor added that it usually is a man's idea to put anything on a stick.
I would also like to point out that days before the trees got a good wacking, we had someone come to the door to advertise tree trimming, but as our neighbor also stated, Rob couldn't pass up the opportunity to do something so manly himself. The trees look fantastic now, and I'm anxiously awaiting spring to see them look even better. I sure am proud of my manly man.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bodega Bay 2009

Okay, I'm a little late on the upload (and I don't' mean brain power, although that is certainly debatable)....I finally got a program that I want to use to work on my photos. Thus, although a couple weeks later, I finally get to share with you some pics from our recent trip to Bodega Bay.

If you've already visited Sandy's blog, then some of these pics are repeats. This was our 4th year to go away for a winter retreat with our bible study. Five years total that we've done this, but I was still in nursing school the first year our group went, so we missed it. I totally look forward to this every year. We nixed Tahoe a couple years ago cause it was just too cold, and have been going to Bodega Bay now...a much better alternative. It was 65 degrees and beautiful. The best part is just getting to hang out with our friends for an extended weekend, being silly, laughing and just enjoying each other. This year the house we rented was practically across the street from the water. Good work Brad!
The guys usually do some sort of sport-thing (golf, tennis, etc.) and then the girls take the opportunity for a lunch in down-town Petaluma and shopping at the outlets. They have a Banana Republic there which totally takes my paycheck...LOVE IT, Happy Birthday me!

I don't know anyone else that does something like this, and I totally cherish not only these trips we take together, but these friendships. LOVE YOU GUYS!!

The yearly group shot, compliments of Sandy

Now that's a bunch of fine lookin' women!
The photographers hard at work...on vacation....

Miss Rebekah trying to be good about getting her feet up to take care of that growing belly. She saw my book sitting on the table, picked it up and read the WHOLE thing that night!

An areal view of the haps

Squires packed the Wii, it was almost as much fun watching everyone play as it was playing yourself.

Isaiah and Eli enjoying their discoveries of seagull poop...

Are those the cutest set of cheeks you've ever seen?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

Today we welcome a new president into the office, Barack Hussein Obama, just in case you were living in the bush and just so happened to get your hands on a computer, were able to by-pass all the ads, computer banners, and news reals and made it to "Little lads large lattes." I'm so glad that as our country is stumbling along finacially, the 2 and 1/2 billion dollar a year lobbiest made sure to wine and dine the president into his first day of office (you know, just in case he follows through with one of his campaigning statements to not take money from federal lobbiest). 170 million dollars to swear in our new president....SERIOUSLY>>>>SERIOUSLY????? If you start hitting your head against the keyboard, no one will fault you.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New Chapter

To follow yesterdays post....I went into work to give them my 2 weeks notice. Oh my gosh...oh my gosh...I'm really doing this....I kept saying all the way down to meet with my boss. I have just accepted a new position at Kaiser in their PICU/Peds units, and as much as I hate giving up my UC Davis job, there isn't anyway to do both. There are lots of great opportunities that I look forward to at Kaiser, and I am hoping that this is a positive change.

In deciding whether or not to take the position, I vacillated back and forth. Mostly because I really want to be where God is taking me. Sometimes our own ambitions can get in the way of a perfectly good coarse. I admit that I stressed way too much (and still am....ummmm...when will I learn) and didn't ever really get a great resounding 'word' from the sky about whether or not to take the new job.

Then tonight I read the following article. It's from a webzine called BOUNDLESS, and although I'm a bit out of their target group, I just love the writers they have, and I still find articles that speak to me.

It's a bit long, but I wanted to include it here, because it sums up the way I ultimately feel about the 'hunt' for God's will.

Are we taking the time to listen to God's voice. The notion should be clarified that He desires to speak into our lives about 'who he is' rather than 'who we are not.'

And so with peace (but maybe not clarity....keep reading), I am closing a huge and defining chapter in my life, to start a new.

God Told Me
by Mike Ensley

God told me ...
I've always felt funny whenever I hear somebody begin a sentence with those words. It sounds so resolute, so certain. It sounds so tangible. With how often I hear these phrases in conversation with other Christians, you'd think it was common practice for God to bend down and say audibly to someone, "Excuse Me, Bob, but please pursue architecture as a vocation. That is My will."
And how about those people who say that God told them whom to marry! Come on! I mean, who is this God who communicates the details of His plans for people in plain English, and why is He holding out on me?
I guess that's my beef with the God-told-me-to story; I've just never felt like I had that kind of clarity — and when it seems like others do, I wonder what's wrong with me.
Are you hearing from God?
That's what somebody asked me one time when I was faced with a big decision (whether or not to move 3,000 miles for a job). When I shrugged my shoulders, his eyes widened. He warned, "Well, you'd better be!"
I tried really hard to hear what God was "saying" at that time. I fasted for the first time in my life. I memorized Scriptures about prayer and revelation. I did a whole bunch of other things that got me closer to feeling like God would have to owe me some kind of verbal or otherwise unmistakable confirmation. In the midst of that, God only seemed more distant than ever.
Truth be told, I agonized about the choice for months after I had actually moved and started this job. Then I felt guilty for having made the choice, never having felt "sure" that I had gotten the go-ahead from God. I mean, aren't you always supposed to have that?
A popular author and speaker came to a church I attended a few years back, and he talked about this very issue. The message he shared that Sunday centered entirely on how important it was to decipher God's exact plan for your life. According to him, God has one perfect destiny for each person, one calling upon which each believer will be judged at the end of time. Just one.
He referenced the passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 3 about those whose work will be "burned up" at Judgment, even though they will still be saved. A woman called to be a mother cannot be a missionary, the speaker explained. A man called to work in a factory and raise money for his church cannot be a pastor (these were real examples he used), even if his heart is set on serving and honoring God. He made it sound like if you weren't able to figure out exactly what God wanted you to do with your life, you'd end up — at best — spending eternity in Heaven's slum areas, dressed in hellfire-singed tatters.
Exactly how to figure out God's one-and-only plan for you wasn't part of this speaker's message. He did, however, have numerous resources for sale in the foyer.
I realize I'm always giving extreme examples in my articles — but it's funny: I keep running into them.
How many of us believe something like this, though? Like I said, my big life change was accompanied by a lot of agonizing indecision. My head echoed with warnings from those who said that if I should step out of God's will for my life, He would stop blessing me.
Looking back, I can see that this turned my walk with God into less of a relationship and more of a hostage situation.
Listening to Yourself
Since that time I've come to believe that a big part of "hearing God's voice" — which isn't much like hearing a voice at all, at least not for me — is a lot about listening to myself.
Let me explain.
The process has brought me a bit of familiarity with my own inner workings. For instance, I naturally tend to struggle with inadequacy, doubt and obsessive thoughts. Now consider what that means when someone comes along and urges me to listen to the "still small voice" inside. It probably makes perfect sense to them — but then, their internal process may very well be shaped quite differently from mine. For me, though, the concept could turn any little nagging doubt or fear into the warning bell of the Holy Spirit.
The cure for that has been to know and believe more about the character of God: He is gentle, not a bully; He's compassionate, not manipulative; He is mindful of who and what I am, not over-expectant. It is freeing for me to know that thoughts and feelings which bring agitation and doubt may be discarded because they are from the broken part of my nature, which I am now familiar with and rightfully wary of.
A primary characteristic I look for in discerning God's influence is peacemaking. If it's God, then its natural result is peace. One thing I no longer struggle with — but I know people commonly do — is the misconception that peace requires clarity. This false belief is fostered by misguided people like the speaker I mentioned.
Mother Theresa, on the other hand, once refused a man's request that she pray for him to have clarity. Surprisingly, she responded with, "I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God."
Peace comes not from knowing what lies ahead, but knowing that God is the same before, during and after whatever it is.
The other thing about listening to yourself is that the broken side of you is not all you have to go on. That's why I always try to say "the broken part" of me or likewise, instead of making it sound like all I am is trash.
If I really do trust God and take Him at His word, then I will know that He is replacing the bad in my heart with good (Ezekiel 11:19), that He is actively transforming me into His image even now (2 Corinthians 3:18). Sadly, the joy and freedom of this active process has been undermined by many things I have heard from atop different pulpits. But the cool thing is that the more I grow, increasingly the things I want really are right and good. God, rather than hinting at them in a cryptic vision or proclaiming them from a cloud, is planting them directly in my heart.
And all of this is just one of the results of knowing Him.
God's Favorite Subject
I have known people who consult God about every decision. And I mean every one. They will literally pray and ask whether His will for their breakfast is cereal or toast. I used to just laugh at that, but I can really respect the earnest desire to actually make Him Lord.
However, I'm not sure that's how He Himself goes about it. I wonder how much of the time we spend trying to get God's take on a certain situation that He doesn't even want to talk about it quite yet. It's easy to forget how our current circumstances, choices and even emergencies scale according to His perspective.
I think that, most of the time, God just wants to talk to us about Himself. This is not a stuck-up or arrogant way for Him to be — because arrogance is all about an over-appreciation of self. God is literally the best thing to talk about in the whole universe — the universe being His idea, after all. Do you realize how compassionate, how generous, how exceedingly loving He is to invite us to enjoy Him?
So how do you hear God talk about that? I figure that's up to you. God gave us different hearts and minds because He expresses Himself an infinite number of ways. Have you ever been surprised by a sudden swell of emotion, or an unexpected moment of clarity when you just knew that it had something to do with God? Well, however that happened can tell you a lot about how God talks to you.
I had one such experience when I saw Spider-Man for the first time in theaters. Yes, Spider-Man. There was this moment when Spidey came swooping down to rescue Mary Jane, and then before she knew it he was off again, her staring after him with awe and wonder.
I felt really stupid getting choked up at Spider-Man, of all things, but I realized later that what I loved about that movie moment was something I love so much about God. He didn't speak audibly to me, but He may as well have said, "That's Me. I have powers you can't comprehend, and I'm going to fly down and save you, again and again, and you're going to fall in love with Me."
Another example: I recently watched the BBC's Planet Earth series in high definition. My initial intention was just to witness the full visual power of my new blu-ray player, but I was surprised to "feel God's hand" — as they say — all over that experience.
As my eyes took in these diverse images from nature, I realized how much God has written Himself into the world around us. We are literally living in one big invitation to worship the Almighty.
Watching the sweeping aerial views of mountains, deserts and glaciers, I truly felt God trying to express to me how vast, beautiful and intense He is. The Great White Shark told of His fearsome fury, but then watching wolf cubs you could tell He's still a big softy at heart. The deep sea segment expressed sort of a dark side — not a bad dark side, but the mysterious, infinite creativity of God's personality. Then there was this silly-looking flightless bird that hopped awkwardly through Africa's elephant grass in order to get noticed by a mate; God is the original comedian.
Now, I don't watch documentaries and superhero movies for my quiet time. But I am learning to look for God in everything, to "listen" for what He is saying about Himself, to hunt for more of Him to worship. The more I do that, the more I learn that everything I've ever loved about anything has only been a glimmer of Who He is. That's what He offers when He speaks to me, because that is the absolute best.
The paths I take in relationships and vocation are important and I'll be paying attention to them. I'm not going to fret, however, over these things when I am called to get myself lost in the mystery of who God is. The events, the choices and twists and turns of this short little life all pale in importance — and they take care of themselves when we really have His Kingdom first in our hearts. If I could see anything clearly and know what it means, it would be Him.
... let him who boasts boast about this:that he understands and knows me,that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,justice and righteousness on earth,for in these I delight,"declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:24)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Adjusting the Sail

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sail. -William Arther Ward-

That pretty much sums up my big news of the day....stay posted for further updates!!!! (I just LOVE that quote, BTW).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ringing in the New Year Busy Busy

Starting out the year a bit cold around here....Rob doesn't believe me that I can see my breath...inside.

Those trucks and cars from Christmas haven't had a break yet. Isaiah even makes sure to fill them all up with gas at the parking garage.

Wrestling matches with friend Eli have been more frequent lately. Even when the attempt was to play soccer...they still find time to squeeze in a little wrestling match...or as Isaiah so aptly puts it, "TACKLE."

As Eli took the upper hand, Isaiah sqeeling with delight kept saying, 'stuck!' Very funny.

Isaiah seems to think now too, that all kids are as tough as his big dog Tahoe....but the trouble is, Tahoe takes quite a bit more abuse than his friends are willing to take.

The parties haven't ended....
Happy Birthday Sheldon!

Isaiah, is turning into quite the conversationalist with people he doesn't even know. He warmed up to all the big people at the party and was a little heart breaker.

And of coarse a new year, with new things to fix. Rob told Isaiah he was going to fix the sink. Isaiah came running back with his 'hammer' and screw driver....ready to go and help daddy fix the leaking sink.

Happy New Years!

Happy New Years! I was having a grand ol' time just minutes prior to the stoke of midnight helping to intubate my patient. We finished just in the nick of time...

Got a picture of me with my sparkling grape juice and the crash cart.

A couple of my fellow colleagues and their joyous midnight grins. And the lucky doctor on call.

All the while, Rob is partyin' it up at our friends house. Sandy's letting me borrow her pics to share with you of Rob's New Years. If you're wondering where all the babies are, they were thankfully all tucked in nice and quite in the adjacent rooms. What would we do without a pack'n play?