Thursday, February 26, 2015

Run faster.

Back a few years ago when I started running more regularly, I decided I wanted to train for a half marathon.  Not just any half marathon would do; I ran the Disneyland half marathon and played in the park for nearly a week as my inner child exploded all over the place… about a week before joining Mercy Ships fulltime.


But this post is not about Disneyland, it’s about running.  Sort of.

Training to run long distances is really hard.   Actually… all running is hard if you have never done it before.  But what I struggled with most in my training was that 10 mile mark.  (a half marathon is 13.1 miles…)  That’s about when I would start getting bored.  And tired.  And sore.  And think I’d much rather be doing just about anything than running right now.  And the battle was just about as much mental as it was physical, maybe more so…

But what I remember most clearly is what another running friend said to me about that time.  She said when you get to that point where everything hurts, and you think you can’t possibly go on… run faster.  It’s still going to hurt but at least you’ll be done sooner.

Very wise words indeed… but for oh, so much more than running.

It’s really the motto by which I choose to pursue God… or whatever God is calling me to.

I have a very dear friend who, when I first told her this, she didn’t believe me.  But now she knows it’s true. I had the (painful) privilege of practicing what I preach this week. So let’s just say, it’s fresh.

When God begins to stir something up in you… When something that isn’t right is pointed out, either by someone else or just by your conscience… When you realize you have become someone you don’t want to be or you said something that isn’t an accurate representation of who you serve or the pressures of life or love or faith bring out unsavory characteristics or desires or failures…  Don’t dawdle. Don’t try to ignore it or squish it up really small and hide it in the recesses of your heart or soul or life.  Don’t try to forget about it or focus on something else.  Run faster. Towards truth. Towards Jesus.

Because the process of restoration, or redemption, or refining… it isn’t comfortable, to say it gently.  Reality is it's usually incredibly painful; disrupting sleeping and eating and focus and emotional stability.  And really? It’s always going to be that way. And it will get worse, I promise, the longer you put it off, or try to hide it, or ignore it.

So run faster.  Because it’s still going to hurt, but at least you’ll be done sooner.

And what is at the end of the race? A medal, a celebration, carbs, and a hot tub.  That’s pretty great. Probably worth fighting through and finishing for.

What’s at the end of redemption?  Freedom. Joy. Peace.  That’s even better.   And absolutely worth fighting for, no matter what the cost. No matter how painful or deep or shameful or dark… Freedom is worth fighting for.

So run faster. Go.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ever be.

These words have absolutely captured me this week. It's a poem, it's a love song, it's a stunning picture of what true love does to us - love from our Father God. Beauty from ashes. Oh, that it would be so! 

Your love is devoted
like a ring of solid gold
Like a vow that is tested
like a covenant of old

Your love is enduring
through the winter rain
And beyond the horizon
with mercy for today

Faithful You have been
and faithful you will be
You pledge yourself to me
and it's why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips (2X)

You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own

You're making me like you
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
Free of all her guilt
and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name
and it's why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips (2X)

You will be praised You will be praised
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord
You will be praised You will be praised
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord
and it's why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips,
ever be on my lips (2X)


Bethel Music - Ever Be



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Transformation: Safer Surgery.

I spent last week across the country, teaching the Checklist.

It was awesome. And it was really hard.  And hopefully, it was successful.

There were many, many really good moments.  The moment we realized one doctor went from completely against to completely for the checklist in a few hours time.  The excitement and laughter from the nurses as Jen taught them how to count instruments and swabs - such an empowering and life-saving skill that they are so excited to learn.  The laughter as one male participant volunteered as a patient for a cesarean simulation.  The gratefulness expressed in the words and eyes and hearts of the participants, that we would come and bless them and encourage them to keep on doing good for those in need.

There were hard moments, too.   At one point in the week, the entire team was really discouraged.  And this is what I wrote that afternoon:

We aren't fighting to save a life on the operating table today... we're fighting to save thousands, through changed behaviors... changing habits that were instilled long before the bullet entered the body....  It's significantly less bloody, but seemingly just as painful.

It really felt like we were fighting though as if it were a long, arduous surgery.  There were things in the way that had to be removed; habits, behaviors, and attitudes.  Words had to be presented and then re-presented in a different way, and sometimes one more time, just to get a point across.  But perseverance paid off and by the end of our time there I really believe we left them in a better place than when we arrived.  One can hope the safety of their surgical practice has been impacted, and we'll find out in a few months time when we go back for a follow-up visit.

It just reminds me that this is hard. No one really knows how to do it, there isn't a foolproof way to teach or to change behaviors or to see implementation.  But the important thing is that we are out there, trying, seeking transformation, and not letting a little discouragement stop us.   Thanks to the team for working hard, for getting out there, for trying, and for your passion for safer surgery for all.  

What's next?  Well, the coming months are full to the brim of mentoring programs, courses, follow-up trips, and various other projects including plans for our next field service here in Madagascar.  I just shake my head and wonder, how is this my life?  Two years ago I wouldn't have had a guess to a response if you asked me how to make surgery safer. Now, it's my passion.  Thanks so much for your support!!

An effective, safe surgery can save a life. An effective, safe surgical education program can save thousands.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Encouragement

Author George M. Adams is quoted as saying, "Encouragement is oxygen to the soul."  

Encouragement doesn't only make us feel good for a moment; it's actually required to maintain life and focus and the pursuit of the greatness we have all been called to achieve.

Yesterday our little team of educators stopped at Moramanga District Hospital, about 2.5 hours east of Antananarivo, to offer them Lifebox pulse oximeter training.  The Madagascar Assessment team visited this hospital before ship arrival; we found an extremely welcoming group of physicians and nurses who were committed to the wellbeing of their patients even through a profound lack of working equipment and medical supplies.  I told them then that we hoped to return; yesterday I made good on that statement, and the training went extremely well.  They were eager to learn and very grateful to receive the pulse oximeters we offered; however that is not what they were most grateful for.

"The fact that you came back; that you came to visit us, the encouragement you offer and that you care about us and our patients, that is what we are so grateful for."  The chief physician expressed to us that this visit, as well as the hope that we will return again in the coming months, will get them through for a long time... more so than any physical supplies or materials we could offer.

Never underestimate the power of encouragement!