grace for a ragamuffin

September 30, 2006 at 11:03 am (Uncategorized)

i tend to assume the worst about people…that or i am simply a realist.  it doesn’t take a lot to impress me, because i don’t expect much anyway.  that is a huge character flaw…i don’t see what each person is capable of; i just see someone who, most likely, will make the same mistake the last person did.  i have a tendency of crucifying one person for another’s crimes.

needless to say, i was impressed.  the research, the questions, the conversation…it was good.  i was expecting a repeat of the last time…not something like this.  and, really, i guess i wasn’t expecting anything at all.  beforehand, it was just another person wanting a portion of my time.  in the span of a few hours, it became more than that.

i did not see the connection coming, but late that night, there it was.  i tried to deny it…for several days, in fact.  but it was as though i was standing in a small closet with an 800-pound elephant that would disappear only if i acknowledged its presence.  in the end, i allowed myself to believe that it was one time that would be different than the last…and that perhaps someone did exist who would ignore all the baggage…even when i inevitably would remind them of its presence.

i believe that the Lord puts people in our lives for a purpose.  some stay a while, some don’t…but they all serve a purpose.  this time, i had the opportunity to encounter the embodiment of Christ’s grace.  sadly enough, i hadn’t seen that before.  my confidence has long been performance-based…until i met someone who didn’t care who i was or what i had (or hadn’t) accomplished.  somehow, out of the grace that was offered, i found the strength to face a part of my past that i hadn’t quite beaten yet.  and i found my heart…the one that beats and hurts and bleeds and cries…the one that i had replaced long ago with a stone-cold imposter.  i woke up to real life and found myself in the middle of my own self-inflicted masquerade.  for 22 years, i had allowed myself to pile on the masks while ignoring the wounds beneath them.  for some reason, it seemed easier that way…i guess i didn’t count on all the chains that came with it.

i am a ragamuffin.  i have come into the presence of the King after being dragged thru the mud…my clothes are stained, my hair disheveled, and my very soul dripping with the ever-familiar regret from yesterday.  yet i have never felt more beautiful than when i am standing at Jesus’ feet, looking into His eyes, listing all the reasons i need Him.

there is freedom in grace.


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September 25, 2006 at 9:53 pm (Uncategorized)

i am currently reading the ragamuffin gospel.  it came highly recommended to me…and i highly recommend it to you.

i have been thinking about grace a lot lately.  there are days when God’s grace seems out of reach…like my fingertips barely graze the edge, but i cannot get close enough to grab the whole thing.  it is easy to blame that on satan and decide that he is toying with me…although i wouldn’t put it past him, sometimes it is only a matter of me taking the next step…thus putting me close enough to get all the grace i need.

eye contact has always been a problem for me.  i am honest and truthful…as long as i don’t have to look you in the eye.  long ago, i stopped looking into people’s eyes….perhaps i was afraid of what i would see.  somedays, i am still afraid of what i will see.  that has made it extremely easy to take my eyes off Jesus…i have always been fearful of what i will see when He looks at me.

Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in
your weakness.”  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the
power of Christ may work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Whatever our failings may be, we need not lower our eyes in the presence of Jesus.  Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted.

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September 20, 2006 at 12:35 am (Uncategorized)

there are two ways i know i am stressed: 1) my left eye swells and 2) i get a cold. should both of things escape my notice, i find out i was stressed when i get that inevitable migraine. migraines ride in on the coattails of stress…apparently it is the release of that stress that triggers the migraine. i noticed my swollen left eye last week and i’ve had a cold for two weeks…now, i have the migraine and i’m just now realizing i was stressed. silly me.

God has been trying to teach me about discernment lately. i think i’ve had trouble listening because i haven’t been paying attention and i can’t seem to remember things (silly anesthesia). i feel like i’ve been asleep for a month…it is a good thing He is patient. He has been trying to tell me something for days, and i haven’t listened. again, silly me.

the seasons are changing. my favorite time of year is right now…the changing of summer to fall. i love waking up to cold mornings and watching my breath float in the air while i run. i love watching the leaves turn colors. fall has a certain smell…it isn’t quite the smell of Christmas, but it is a hint of something more. it always reminds me that there is more to come, like a promise of growth…the death of the old, the creation of the new, and a renewed purpose for that which finds a new life in it’s Creator. it reminds me of the hardy flower that bloomed all summer, slept all winter, and comes out with deeper roots when spring comes around.

and everything that’s new
has bravely surfaced,
teaching us to breathe;
and what was frozen thru
is newly purposed,
turning all things green.
so it is with You,
and how You make me new
with every season’s change.

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be thou my vision

September 18, 2006 at 10:15 pm (Uncategorized)

every so often, i have a day from hell. i’ve had like 15 in a row…i’m getting a little weary of it all. i feel like the Lord is trying to teach me something, i’m just too dumb to figure out what it is. apparently, i’m not looking in the right place…that or i’m looking at it, and not recognizing it. my pride has a way of screwing up my perception of things…drives me crazy.

be thou my vision
o Lord of my heart
naught be all else to me
save that thou art
thou my best thought
by day or by night
waking or sleeping
my presence my light

riches i heed not
nor man’s empty praise
thou mine inheritance
now and always
thou and thou only
first in my heart
high king of heaven
my treasure thou art

one thing the Lord has been showing me is areas of hurt and regret that i never allowed myself to deal with. now, on the other side of it all, i am realizing how damaging those things are to friendships and relationships. somehow, i thought that denial was the best (and strongest) way to manage those things…now, i am realizing that my “whatever” attitude is only a cop-out. if i never acknowledge it, i never have to deal with it. at least, that was the idea. apparently, i’m wrong…the longer you ignore it, the worse the consequences are. see the darkness for what it is, and expose it to the Light. satan can’t get me if i don’t have any secrets.

So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed,
or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark,
speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.
matthew 10:26-27

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September 15, 2006 at 3:50 pm (Uncategorized)

I stole this from my newest subscriber….

Finish the sentence–

1. My home is…not my own…yet…but it is clean nonetheless!!
2. I am listening to…the 2nd season of Grey’s Anatomy…along with Brian Littrell’s Welcome Home. i’m a multi-tasker…what can i say?
3. Maybe I should…go on an impromptu trip…or buy a pretty dress…or get new shoes…something that has to do with shopping.
4. I love it when…I am productive…and useful…and inspired.
5. My best friend…is a red head…i can’t help it, apparently.
6. I don’t understand…the internet…seriously. i have a hard time figuring new websites out…that makes me feel old. and stupid. its not good.
7. I lost…my heart…in san francisco…its a rice-a-roni treat…i think its the cable cars…they get me everytime.
8. People say…a lot of things…i don’t always listen, though…or care.
9. The meaning of my blog name is…that i have been healed by Him.
10. Love is…a choice…and sometimes it just happens.
11. Right now, somewhere, someone is…eating sushi…without me.
12. I will always…wonder “what if?” (i left that answer…its good)
13. Once upon a time, I…tried to get in the army…they wouldn’t take me (i wanted to be a sniper).
14. Now, I…have finally answered God’s calling…there is less killing involved in ministry.
15. I never want to…walk away from something good.
16. My personal motto is…just do it…even if it hurts.
17. When I wake up in the morning…i brush my teeth immediately.
18. I get annoyed when…people say mean things and don’t explain them.
19. People always…cheer me up…i get my energy from others.
20. I sing…all the time…in the car, in the shower, in my office, in my head…and i’m GOOD.
21. Hugs are the best when…they are from someone you love.
22. Today I…babysat for 3 different families…and made a LOT of money.
23. Tomorrow I will…run errands and clean stuff.
24. I really want…to lose 10 lbs…every girl feels that way.
25. I am…running my first marathon in April.

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September 13, 2006 at 11:30 pm (Uncategorized)

this one’s for Harvey

this weekend, i bought a fish. his name is harvey. i have had an obsession with owning fish since i was in junior high. in california, we (the neighborhood) had a peacock that lived in the park. he was a wild peacock….he came in our backyard and hung out on our roof. it was very weird…i named him ‘bob the peacock.’ shortly after bob disappeared, i got a fish. he became bob jr. then, bob jr. died, and i continued to buy fish and name them bob. eventually i got to bob the 23rd and decided fish-raising just wasn’t my thing.
a couple of weeks ago, i went to OSU-Tulsa to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. God certainly had a plan for that…i sat down and talked to my good friend, harvey mccabe (spears school of business), who told me that i was in a great position for a degree in business and that he thought it would be a wise choice, in light of what God is calling me to do. in that moment, i felt the Lord calming my heart and saying, “see, I told you that if you trusted me I would take care of you. now i am doing just that.” i left harvey’s office thinking, “i am going to be someone…someone special.” i have appreciated the name ‘harvey’ ever since.
i decided to move on with life and get a fish. i could not think of a better name than ‘harvey’ for my new, male betta. he loves his glow-in-the-dark plant and cool shaped fish vase . and he was very excited to see me today…i said, “good morning, little fishie!” (in the voice that makes April laugh)

this one’s for ALowe

five very important things i have learned about love, relationships, and liking boys:
1) love is not what you think it is…it isn’t what is portrayed in movies, it isn’t found in a danielle steel novel, and it isn’t something to play around with.
2) relationships are hard. you have to be willing to invest time, energy, and emotions. you even have to be willing to be open and vulnerable.
3) just because you like a boy does not mean you should open your heart to him. Jesus tells us to “guard your heart, above all else, for it is the wellspring of life” (pr. 4:23). He knew what He was saying, and i’m pretty sure He was talking directly to girls. Jesus lives in my heart…it is a holy place…i can’t let just anyone in.
4) if there is anything worth waiting for, it is the love of a man who desires nothing else but to be what God has called him to be.
5) a man who loves God is filled with His grace…He will love you for all you are, all you used to be, and all God is designing you for. when satan brings it up, he will not rub your nose in the mistakes of your past; he will hold your hand and lead you back into God’s shower of grace.

this one’s for me

pride goes before destruction
a haughty spirit before the fall
proverbs 16:18

the Lord has taken my pride and beat the crap out of it. at first it was painful, but now it is freeing…i am free to be all He created me to be. i have no one to blame but myself for my past mistakes, but i have no one to credit but the Lord for His deliverance. He brought the Israelites out of their destruction…He can certainly bring me out of mine.

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musings, if you will

September 11, 2006 at 2:50 pm (Uncategorized)

so, this morning i was nearly involved in a hit-n-run accident. i was running at about 6am (the sun was not out yet, hello autumn) and this large SUV was driving towards me. i was definitely in the light of his headlight, so i KNOW he saw me. nice guy, he sped up…i had to literally dive (DIVE) out of the way to avoid being hit. i am fairly sure that if he had hit me, he would not have stopped. i should iron reflector patches onto my running shorts…that or carry a fog horn to warn people that i do not want to be hit with cars. i didn’t appreciate it.

a few things i’ve learned over the last 10 days:

a) the necessity of my apologies does not depend on the other person’s perception of my actions. if the Lord shows me that i need to apologize for something, i need to do it…no questions asked. the longer i wait, the more frustrated i get and the harder it is to apologize.
b) sometimes the answer to a prayer is found when desperation is at its deepest…sometimes all Jesus is waiting for is for me to come to the point where i am truly desperate for Him to take action. it is that moment when i realize i am truly surrounded by darkness and the only way out is to follow the Light in front of me.
c) satan will continue to haunt me with things of my past until i purposefully bring them into the Light. if i have nothing hidden, satan cannot shame me. part of the healing process is acknowledging things that happened, grieving over their occurrence, and asking the Lord to send His healing. Jesus wants to break the chains of bondage…i just have to let go of them.
d) satan literally came to steal, kill, and destroy. he will use any method to get to God’s children and he will put anything in my path to make me stumble. he is not above playing dirty. jerk.
e) my computer’s life is nearly over…i am going to have to invest in another one. however, the amount in my bank account directly affects my actions…i cannot buy another one today. i must live with this one and develop my patience.
f) God puts people in our lives for a reason. He uses people to minister, strengthen, and pray over us. how dare i try to rob someone of that blessing.
g) healing does happen in time. read the article about jack. it has taken him 5 years to realize that he is capable of healing.
h) i have always wanted a sister. now i have two. one by God’s plan of marriage, and the other by God’s plan of provision for His child. as i celebrate the one year anniversary of having one of those sisters, i am reminded of how blessed i am to have the other. ahh…the Lord is good.

i feel as though i should have something deep to say in reference to 9/11. i don’t. i remember what it was like to wonder where my parents were, and how it felt to finally talk to them, but that is overshadowed by all the Lord has been teaching me this week. the Lord used the trauma from my surgery to bring things back from the past that i had refused to deal with. i have said it before: i cannot move forward as long as i am tied to those things. i must rise above the shame satan pours over me and cover myself in the unending grace of Jesus Christ.

Ten days later the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. So he called together Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him and all the people from the least to the greatest. He said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’
Jeremiah 42:7-12

life isn’t always about taking the next step. sometimes all i have to do is stand still long enough to allow the Lord to work…or sit in His lap long enough for Him to heal me. He really doesn’t need my help…He just wants me to say, “yes, i will let You work, and yes, i will take the next step when You ask me to.”

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September 10, 2006 at 12:10 am (Uncategorized)

kristi’s shopping policies:
1) do not go to grocery stores, lumber yards, or sports suppliers
2) do not ask a man for help at any of those places

i went to lowe’s this week. alone. with a list that consisted of two 3″ by 10′ PVC pipes, two 4-way connectors, and two 3-way connectors. i was there for half an hour before i found the blasted PVC. i walked up and down the lumber aisles, thinking “if you have to cut it, surely it is in this section.” then, i called my boss and said, “if i were PVC, where would i be?” he told me to find a cute boy and work my magic and he could do everything for me…i refused (i ain’t no ho)…he finally sent me to the plumbing department (totally makes sense why PVC is there).

“i do not need a man,” i said to myself. it took me a bit, but i found my connectors (apparently, the openings have to be the same width as the pipe). then, i found my 3″ by 10′ pipe. it didn’t dawn on me that 10′ was LITERALLY 10 feet long…i realized thats almost 2 of me (minus a few inches). i just stared at the PVC for a while, trying to figure out a) how to get it off the shelf, b) how to get it in my cart and to the register, and c) how to get it in the car.

i must have looked extremely confused or oddly out of place, because this older (55-ish, Mike, owns a few businesses) man came over and offered his assistance. he wanted to know what i was building…i told him, “i’m a girl, i don’t build. i just run errands.” he laughed and said i needed to be more industrial. i said, “no thanks.” he was trying to explain how to tape the poles to the outside of my car, when i asked him why i couldn’t just stick them in diagonally. he said, “oh sweetheart, your car is only 5’5″ wide…it isn’t that big. that is why you have such a hard time messing around in the backseat.” i was mortified…i started stuttering and managed to tell him that i’d call a friend and have them pick me up. (really? do i come across as someone who messes around in the backseat of my 2-door sportscar? people already have a hard time sitting back there.)

he must have enjoyed our conversation because he followed me to the register, checked out, put his stuff in my basket, and said, “wait here.” i couldn’t imagine what he was doing, so i complied. plus, i had his stuff, i couldn’t just leave…that and i had two 10′ poles. he pulled his truck up and unloaded my basket (his stuff and mine) and said, “tell you what sweetie, i’ll follow you to wherever you are going.” (hit on me, that’s fine, but don’t use pet names.) i wasn’t sure how to respond, so i said, “okay.” i called the church on the way and asked someone to meet me outside. i pulled up, with the man behind me, and jason, scott, and kenny were standing outside the door with their arms crossed. they looked like they were going to pick a fight. apparently, my message had been a little distorted and saundra told the boys that i was being followed by a creepy man and they needed to meet me outside for protection. they protected me from the big, bad scary man who carried my PVC and explained my love-life problems by measuring my backseat. thank you, sir.

that is why i do not go to man-stores.

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September 7, 2006 at 11:20 pm (Uncategorized)

I walked into the hospital in sweats. It didn’t seem appropriate to dress-up when, in a matter of minutes, I would be partially covered by a gown that doesn’t close. I grilled my dad as to what might happen to me during the next several hours. He “calmed” my nerves by informing me that, should something go wrong, St. John’s is only a LifeFlight away. Thanks, daddy.
I went in, signed my life away, and lost all sense of modesty. The nurse informed me that I would need to take a pregnancy test before they could get started. I knew what the results would be, but I found myself a little nervous. Should the worse happen, surely no one would believe that I am the next virgin Mary having an immaculately conceived child.. I calmed myself by banking on the fact Gabriel hadn’t visited me the night before.
I put my cool, hospital socks on (they have friction bumps on both sides, just in case) and crawled into the bed. The nurse started my IV, but didn’t use gloves. That made me nervous. Yes, I am allergic to latex, but surely there is an alternative glove. I chose to believe that she was naturally germ-free.
They rolled me into OR2 and pulled me onto a flat, hard, metal table. They started wrapping my appendages in velcro warming packs with the excuse that they were keeping me covered so I wouldn’t be cold. (I found out later why they really use those things.) I chatted a bit with the anesthesiologist and joked with the scrub nurse, and drifted off to sleep. The last thing I remember seeing was a large intubation tube sitting on my chest.
I do not remember a lot about waking up, I simply remember the panic. I woke up to the anesthesiologist (I prefer to call him mean) pulling the tube out of my throat. That is when I panicked. I could not catch my breath and I could not move any of my appendages (hence the use of the blasted velcro warmers). Apparently, I had woken up too early, reacted badly, and the anesthesiologist re-drugged me. I don’t remember a lot about the next 45 minutes, I just remember having trouble breathing, hearing people all around me, coming in and out the room, yelling about needing things, and someone calling my name. I could hear all of these things, but I could not open my eyes. The only words I could mutter were: “I need my dad.” The nurse (jerk) said no. Apparently it isn’t good for family members to see their loved one in such distress.

I have never come so close to my own mortality than I did in that moment. I knew I wasn’t done here, and I knew there were things that still needed to be said, finished, and lived-out. I straight-up asked Jesus to leave me here….I wasn’t ready and I didn’t want to go like that. I’m not sure if that request changed Jesus’ mind, or if it was simply a childish thought in the face of the unknown. I have dealt with the consequences of that experience and the trauma of such fear for the past two weeks. I have never known myself to be emotional, but I no longer have control. There are years of tears inside of me that have been waiting to get out. Perhaps this was the key to their release.

If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Thy lovingkindess, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Thy consolations delight my soul.
Psalm 94:18-19

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death…or something like it

September 5, 2006 at 10:51 pm (Uncategorized)

my pager went off again…it was my first day on the trauma floor and things just wouldn’t slow down.  i was still trying to get a grasp on what, exactly, my job was.  i had only been  there for 3 hours when i turned my pager to vibrate…i couldn’t take the beeping any longer.
he was a funny man…good spirits, sense of humor, and deeply religious.  he told me of his recent dablings in Eastern Mysticism and told me he had more peace than ever before.  i didn’t bother getting into a debate with him.  it was my first day and i was overwhelmed; i simply smiled and patted his hand.  he grabbed my arm and told me that i had the healing touch–he could feel it.
an hour later, i was watching the most horrific site of my life.  he had collapsed on top of me as i helped him get back into bed.  it took me a moment to realize that he wasn’t breathing.  when the truth hit, i froze.  i whispered, “call a code” and, wide-eyed,watched everyone else rush around.  they shocked his heart, performed CPR, and put in chest tubes.  it was the most violent thing i had ever seen.  i backed away until i felt the wall behind me; my manager spotted me in the corner and escorted me out the door.  as i passed by his bed, i saw his face.  death had already come; the effort would prove to be futile.

during the 2 years i worked in the trauma department at st. francis, more people died.  death became my job…i cleaned the corpse and prepared the room for family.  i closed their eyes, tucked them in, and left a box of kleenex on the table.  i said the customary “what a wonderful person he/she must have been” and “he/she was such a joy to have on our floor” and moved on to check on the next patient.  once i recovered from the shock of my first experience, i found that it was easy to deal with death.  death became part of my everyday life…another person to add to the tally and another story to add to my growing catalog of odd jobs.  working with people no longer allowed room for emotion.  the harder the heart, the better the nurse.

yesterday, my dad lost a friend, i lost a confidant, and the medical world lost a doctor…a man of integrity and one who refused to compromise.  how do you deal with death when you don’t remember what it is like to weep for someone who is gone?  i don’t know the answer…i simply know that tonight, i will lift his family up in prayer.  perhaps this is what ministry is:  admitting your own shortcomings and doing what you know how to do.  sometimes, i listen well and other times, i can offer a small token of wisdom…but tonight, all i have is a heart who has trouble feeling and a mind that can only pray, “Jesus, be with them now.”

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