Sunday, September 27, 2015

Not my story.

I just woke up from a very real dream. 

I was in an old coffee shop somewhere and a man that I knew in my dream, but don’t know at all in real life, told me he loved me, has loved me forever and wants to spend the next hundred years showing me how much he loves me, proving himself worthy of me, and sharing the adventure alongside each other.

Then, in my dream, he walked away.  I was left speechless, my heart beating fast and my palms sweaty and this mixture of disbelief, excitement, shock, and a hundred other feelings burned in my chest and spread throughout my entire body.  Fairly certain my mouth literally hung open.  His friend came up and asked me to give him my phone number. I then proceeded to write it at least two dozen times and throw it away because my handwriting looked like a little kids. I was laughing at myself and this other lady that was nearby was laughing with me and so was the guy waiting for my phone number, because no matter how many times I tried to write it, it came out in preschooler handwriting that was barely legible even to myself.

And then I woke up.

And my real life heart was still beating fast and my palms were sweaty and that mixture of disbelief, excitement, shock, and a hundred other feelings was still burning in my chest. 

And I knew I needed to write.

~~

The question came up several times over the summer while I was in the States.  Anyone special in your life?  I realize people are just curious and want to know but what invariably ends up happening is I say no and their face shadows with disappointment, but then they quickly realize what they have done and perk up with a forced face of what is supposed to be encouragement but looks a bit more like pity and say well, all in God’s good timing and then proceed to either pat me on the arm and walk away or tell me a story about this friend of a friend of theirs who didn’t find the one until they were in their forties so I really still have plenty of good years in me and to hold my head up and know that I am worth waiting for. And, breathe.

The ones that really do care want to park it there for a bit; they ask how am I really with that and squint as if trying to find the agony deep in my eyes and heart that must be there.  When I say something like really it’s okay I still will get a flash of disappointment or disbelief, like I must be lying to myself to be really okay with that and maybe I need prayer to break down the massive walls of defensiveness inside of me that must be there because no way would a woman of nearly 35 be truly okay with not having someone special.

One person actually asked it really well.  He said have you had to give up on any dreams to keep on doing what you are doing? I said, you mean marriage and children?  We both laughed and I said something like I haven’t given up. I trust God.

~~

The thing is, for me? It’s just settled.  It’s a completely settled issue.  I don’t spend hours or days or years agonizing or dreaming or longing or even (gasp!) praying about it.  Someone asked this summer what are you passionate about and the answer is my work; but it isn’t my work itself that I am most passionate about it is that my work is actually an extension of my faith, it is my faith with shoes on, offering blood, sweat, and tears to help make wrongs right and inequalities disappear and bring transformation and see others come alive too.  It’s the most incredible thing ever.   

And if you have ever felt that way yourself, which I sadly think very few people actually have, you wouldn’t be worried about my broken single 35-year old heart.  I am living life to the full, life abundant, and it isn’t an incomplete existence because I am not married.

~~

It’s just a settled issue. I know, to the depth of my being, that if it is the best for me, God will bring a special man into my life.  I believe that and I trust that and I don’t need to spend any time thinking about it. It’s settled. Oh, and I don’t need to move back to the states or to somewhere else in the world for this to happen – it’s not like God is up in heaven saying “Gee, if only she would get off that ship I could do something really special for her,” - that is absolutely ridiculous.  He has brought me here.  And if it is best for me, he will bring him here.  Or there. Or wherever. But I know that I do not need to manipulate my circumstances to make myself more available.

One lovely friend who I met several years ago has a story that keeps on inspiring me.  I won’t do it justice here, but basically she got a letter in the mail from a complete stranger that saw her in a video and was captivated. All the pieces just fell together perfectly in a story so wild no one but God could have thought it up, and their marriage is one of stunning beauty.  When God creates a story it’s always incredible.  I often think about that story and think to myself, if God can and wants to do that, to write a story beyond our wildest dreams and one that inspires others and draws them closer to His heart, who the heck am I to try to write my own story? Why on earth would I want to?  Who am I to think my little brain trying to manipulate a situation would ever be anywhere near as cool as a story God has written himself?  I don’t want my story. I want His.

~~

Now let’s get even more real for a minute, lest all this talk about it being a settled issue makes you think I’m somehow more holy than the single chick longing for marriage.

Do I want to get married? Not just for the sake of getting married.

A better question is do I want to fall in love? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t?  I’ve tasted it, been in relationships that spoke of it; one time I even thought was going to be forever. The love between a man and a woman that are fully devoted to God and passionately pursuing him together though trials and victories and sacrifice for each other every single day… it is a reflection of the heart of God that I have yet to experience. And want to.  If it is right and the best thing for me.

Are there some days when it is harder than others?  Yes.  Resounding yes.  There are days I am hit so hard with a longing so deep to have someone to share this with that I can hardly breathe.  There are so many adventures I want to share.  I’ve got amazingly adventurous friends and I’m certainly not missing out on life, but sometimes? Would I rather share it with my soulmate? Resounding, unapologetic yes.  There are also days I’d like to throw in the towel on this celibacy thing. (I hate that word, even).  Honestly, I’m human too. It isn’t easy.  But it is worth it, and I won’t throw in the towel, and I won’t try to mask or hide those (squishy, sometimes icky and awkward, but still real) feelings, desires, and emotions when they do make an appearance.  I will acknowledge them, feel them, and trust them to God. 

Are there days when my thoughts aren’t this holy? Sure are.  Especially when I’m lonely. That’s when the thoughts creep in like I must really be ugly or fat or obnoxious or something must be inherently wrong with me. Rubbish, and I know it, so I throw it out quickly like the garbage bag with the banana peel; get it out before it starts stinking up the place.

(Not the topic at hand but a natural follow-up question that I’ll answer now – no, I don’t really want children, which maybe is why I am really content being single while I see others longing for marriage because they are actually really longing to have children.  I’m not completely opposed to the idea, if I were to fall in love with someone who really wanted children who would make a really good father… but I’m not desperate for them either. As I watch my friends’ kids grow up I love being a part of their lives (once they are old enough to have real conversations) but don’t really have a burning desire in me to raise my own.)

~~

What is the point?

It’s a settled issue. I’m not in agony, but I am human. I won’t manipulate my circumstances or the people around me to try to create my own story, I want God’s story.  When that seems hard or I find myself starting to want to get the story line moving along more quickly than I ought, I look at my friend’s wedding pictures; the one whose story I wrote about earlier. Or I think about other friends whose stories are glorious, and I realize that I too want a glorious story. 

But the truth is my story is already glorious; it has always been a love story filled with pursuit and passion and redemption and life to the full. Maybe the plot will turn into a human love story, and maybe it won’t; but it’s not my story to write, so I won’t fight to pick up the pen.

xxk


Sunday, September 20, 2015

No apology necessary.

A few months ago a Facebook friend shared this quote from Glennon Doyle Melton, from the Momastery blog.  I’m not a regular reader of hers, not being in her target audience of moms, but have read it a few times and always really appreciated her genuineness.

~~
“Listen to me. Every time I go to speak somewhere — tired, worn out, wild-eyed mamas raise their tired hands and say to me, “Glennon, I feel like I’m losing it at home. I feel CRAZY.”
HOLD. UP. Okay: for obvious reasons, I am no parenting expert. But I know a helluva lot about crazy. And I want you to trust me on this one. I want you to write this down and put it on your fridge for me:

IT’S NOT YOU. IT’S THEM.
IT’S THEM.
Listen: I spent time in a mental hospital and I am here to report that everyone, every single one of the beautiful folks I lived in there with was more reasonable than the small people I live with now. All of them.
YOU ARE GOOD AND NORMAL AND REASONABLE. IT’S THEM. The crazy is not in your head. It’s IN YOUR HOUSE. We have to wait them out.  We just have to smile and wait them out. We have fought too hard for our sanity to lose it now.

Repeat after me: It’s not me. It’s THEM.”  ~~Glennon Doyle Melton, Momastery.com
~~

As I read it I really felt to the depth of my being this isn’t just for moms.  This is for me too.

I (used to) have a completely debilitating problem with blaming myself for absolutely everything.  To the max.  This comes out in saying ‘sorry’ a whole heck of a lot. For things I have no business apologizing for.    

Example: I’m sorry, can you clarify what you mean?  If you complete the I’m sorry, what exactly am I apologizing for?  I’m sorry I’m an idiot and obviously anyone smarter than me would have understood but I didn’t so I’m really sorry that I’m taking up another ten seconds of your precious time in clarifying or maybe I’m so sorry you weren’t clear in what you meant, and I’m sorry my mind reading skills aren’t working today and I’m so so sorry I’m breathing and taking up space and time and oxygen.

That’s just one example that really truly is a real one.   A friend is cross? Must be my fault.  Someone on my team forgets to do something?  I should have reminded them or did a better job of explaining, but it is clearly entirely my fault.  What a failure.  I get emotional?  I’m so sorry I’m such a disaster sometimes.  I didn’t hear what you said? I’m sorry, obviously I have hearing problems.

On. And on. And on.

After I read that quote from Glennon I felt that ever present still small voice whisper to my heart, it’s not always you, sometimes it’s them.

Transformative words, those are.

Now I am definitely not advocating for blaming all circumstances on someone else.  One of the transformative books I have read was Steven Coveys 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – and the one that really stood out then and still does is that highly effective people take responsibility for their own life, situations, emotions, reactions, words, thoughts, and actions.  Example – She makes me so mad!  No, she doesn’t control my emotions, I do.  If she is actually controlling my emotions she has far too much power.  What she does might be irritating but my response is entirely up to me. This extends beyond emotions to most aspects of life. Think of those people who put the blame on everyone and everything around them, but never themselves.  Victim mentality.  Yes of course life throws curve balls and difficult things, but we are ultimately responsible for how we respond to them.

So somehow we need to find a balance – figuring out what exactly we are responsible for, taking responsibility for that, and not taking on other peoples’ responsibilities as our own. 

~~

What does this mean for real life?

For me, it looks like wiping the words I’m sorry entirely out of my vocabulary.

I read an article at least a year ago about the fact that women say ‘sorry’ far too often.  It might have been this one.  It might have been a different, similar one that I am too lazy to search for and find. (sorry…er, not?)  But basically it said that women use the word ‘sorry’ as a crutch word, we are apologizing for ridiculous things all the time that we have no business apologizing for, and we need to stop because all it does is make us sound stupid, shallow, and wimpy.

It resonated at that time but didn’t really stick, and I kept on with my far-too-often-and-inappropriate use of that word.

But then after reading Glennon’s quote I began to think more about what it looks like to live a life free of the belief that it’s all my fault and start believing that it’s not always me and really, I’m feeding the crazy by saying sorry all.the.time.

There are definitely legit things I need to apologize for (every.single.day).  I take full responsibility for those things and I have started to use the words I apologize, plus a description of what I am apologizing for.  I apologize for… using that tone of voice, it was rude and uncalled for, please forgive me. I apologize for… not taking the time to explain things more clearly.  I apologize for…. Knocking over your full can of coke all over your computer.

Can you feel the depth of those words, as opposed to a cheap rushed “sorry”? They mean something. I know that if I turn the tables, when I get a heartfelt apology, I feel valued and acknowledged - as opposed to rushed, cheap “sorry” that leaves me wondering if they really meant it.  Like being forced to apologize to your sibling when you were young. The words come out but they are empty and meaningless.

~~

Sometimes when we say ‘sorry’ we really just need to not say anything.  But sometimes we need an alternative word. A few examples:

Excuse me – as in, when you are sitting next to someone and you shift your legs and oh the horror, your foot bumps their leg. Oh sorry! Newsflash: You haven’t caused pain and anguish, there is no need for an apology. You are human.  I apologize for allowing my fidgeting to invade your personal space. Ridiculous.  What you actually mean is excuse me. This goes for brushing up against someone in the stairwell, stepping around someone in your way, etc.

Pardon? – as in, someone says something mumbled or with their face turned the other direction and I didn’t hear or understand. I’m sorry = I apologize for your mumbling? Er, no.  This would also be an appropriate use of excuse me. or hey? or come again? or whatever you need to say to ask them to repeat themselves.

That’s awful! – as in, a friend telling me she twisted her knee, and I want to acknowledge it hurts or that it was really an unfortunate occurrence.  I used to say I’m so sorry that happened which is really just expressing my compassion. There are other words to express compassion. 

The one exception to this would be when we are breaking bad news to someone.  As in I’m sorry we can’t do the surgery you need.   I think that is an appropriate use of the word. I really am sorry we can’t, I wish we could.

~~

So I guess towards the end of all this rambling I should come to the point.  I highly recommend watching your language and trying to catch your use of “sorry”.  It’s been an eye-opening experience for me, and it still slips out and surprises me sometimes.

I’ve encouraged friends who are just stepping into new things to make their work place a ‘sorry-free zone’ – the temptation, when you are new to something, is to apologize for asking questions – YOU SHOULD BE ASKING QUESTIONS!  That’s what being new is about! 

One time I was playing volleyball with some friends on the beach and I declared it a sorry-free zone because otherwise every.single.point someone would apologize – for hitting it out or badly or not to the right person or missing it.  We weren’t there to win. We were there for fun.  No apology necessary!

These are just a few examples, but I encourage you to start trying to finish the sentence – what exactly are you saying sorry for? Is it a true apology or is it a crutch or a filler word?


Maybe one of my readers just needs to know this: Sometimes it isn’t you. It's them. 

xxk

Friday, September 18, 2015

Launch week.

It was launch week here for the Medical Capacity Building team - two big projects that have both begun extremely well.  Below are two articles I wrote to promote these initiatives both within and outside of Mercy Ships!  Thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement as we seek to transform this nation's healthcare.

Launch - the Checklist Team!
11 September 2015

After a few years of dreaming and several months of planning, the Checklist team is officially about to launch!

On Sunday this team departs to the first of a twenty-city tour of Madagascar, visiting each region to come alongside the surgical teams in those regions and work together to improve surgical safety across the country. This training is in partnership with Harvard Medical School and Lifebox, a charity committed to putting a pulse oximeter in every operating room and improving surgical safety worldwide. This simple tool, along with the other critical steps included in the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, have been shown to cut operating room deaths and complications in nearly half!



The checklist team today, left to right: Emily Bruno (USA), Dr. Hasina (MDG), Ali Herbert (GBR), Dr. Nandi (MDG), Dr. Linden Baxter (GBR). This team will be together the first three months, others will rotate through after that time.

The three-day training structure includes sessions focused on empowering surgical teams with the knowledge that safe surgery is possible, and in their very own hands. They will work together to adapt the WHO checklist to fit their specific needs and environment; a critical step encouraged by the creators of the WHO Checklist! Other sessions include Lifebox training and counting of surgical swabs, needles, and instruments. This structure of training was first just an idea of Michelle White, then piloted in Congo and here in Madagascar both in Toamasina and Mahajanga during the last field service.



Sunday the team heads to Fenerive Est, in the region just north of Toamasina. Please pray for them; their teamwork, travel safety, and an ease of communication; also pray for the participants, that they would catch the vision and the heart of the project, to see transformation for them and for their patients. Updates from the team will be regularly posted here on Navigator and all blogs will be marked public - please share!



The Checklist team in their "office" this last two weeks - Midships, deck 6!

Also launching next week is the first of twelve courses we will be running in Antananarivo! Stay tuned, more info to come next week; please pray for Joan Kotze, Course Coordinator, the facilitators coming from England and the participants coming from all over Antananarivo.

--Krissy Close
Medical Capacity Building Manager AFM


Launch - Essential Surgical Skills, Antananarivo
18 September 2015

As mentioned in last weeks’ blog, not only did we launch the Checklist Team this week (watch for an update early next week) we also launched the first two of eighteen courses being offered this field service in Antananarivo!

The Essential Surgical Skills course, in partnership with the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons offers very practical, hands-on lessons and practice in knot tying, suturing, and handling and repair of different kinds of tissue. Professor Samison, acting dean of the School of Medicine in Antananarivo and chief visceral surgeon at HJRA has wanted to run this course for years, and even had all the materials donated by Ethicon, a branch of Johnson & Johnson, but hasn’t been able to get instructors to come. Mercy Ships was pleased to offer to fill this need! Professor Samison expressed his gratefulness, “It has been my dream to offer this course, thank you for helping my dream to come true.”

The first two-day course on Monday and Tuesday brought eight senior and experienced surgeons. They were eager to participate and appreciated the opportunity to practice their basic skills and have unlimited resources, like sutures and instruments, at their disposal, even if it was just for a few days!

The following day we offered a train-the-trainer session for those who participated in the first course. This is a critical element in all of the courses we are offering this field service; training up surgeons and other medical leaders to continue this teaching long after Mercy Ships’ departure! The participants were eager to discuss how to facilitate a course and to troubleshoot potential problems. They were all invited to then come to the second course, Thursday and Friday, and assist in teaching as they were able.

The second course has been quite different in scope, as instead of senior and experienced surgeons we have a room full of first year surgical specialty students – they already have completed their basic medical education and are now in the process of becoming surgeons. Their earnest faces and nervous laughter at their mistakes has made for a fun environment of learning and practicing their new skills.

Overall the first two courses have gone extremely well and the feedback received from the participants has been completely positive. It’s such an honor and a pleasure to serve the current and future surgeons of this country! May their passion for helping others and transforming their nation never fade.
Thanks to Ethicon for their support!












Special thanks to our instructors, Dr. John Whitaker, Dr. James Byrne, the ASGBI, Ethicon, Joan Kotze, Professor Samison, and HJRA Hospital.

Krissy Close
Medical Capacity Building Manager AFM

Saturday, September 12, 2015

What we need.

So two weeks into my new stress management plan and it’s... well... transforming, amazing, awesome.

These last two weeks, since the ship arrived, have been absolutely insane.  What was supposed to be four to six weeks of training, start-up, and preparation time for our medical training programs became two.  Knowing that, and knowing me, you might think I’m stressed out, short with people, snappy, and grouchy.

Nope. My heart is totally full, I’m relaxed and laughing and absolutely amazed at all that has been accomplished in just two weeks.  To God be all the glory.

It’s remarkable how, when we stop trying to control everything, that we actually do get exactly what we need.  I don’t know why this surprises me.  I have a tendency to focus too much on tasks and not enough on people when I’m stressed, but God whispered something to me earlier this summer that has stuck with me – The tasks are important, but the people are more important.  During that season it meant saying yes to anyone who asked to meet with me and somehow I still managed to get all my work done.

During this season it means giving my full attention to whoever needs it at the moment – and a few times this week I had people physically lined up waiting to speak to me, to ask for something or advice or help or suggestions or clarity.  My email was out of control and some people on the other end of that had to wait a few hours longer than maybe they would have in the past.  They all survived.  And the person in front of me felt supported and appreciated and got what they needed which only encourages them to be even more amazing.

I worked long hours; everyone did, it’s just the nature of this season.  It won’t always be like this. But I also connected deeply with friends and slept well and got through the emails and kept up with my schoolwork.  It’s remarkable how, when we stop trying to control everything, that we actually can have a lot of fun watching it play out.  I’ve laughed myself into tears at least twice. 

Yesterday afternoon, (Friday), about 4:45 suddenly it was like the whole busy long two weeks of demands and service suddenly hit me; I was tired, I hit a wall.  But it’s remarkable again how he gives us just what we need; I had planned to go out with a friend last night and not work late and that is exactly what my heart needed in that moment.  I also got notice that my flight that was supposed to go early this morning to Tana was delayed until this afternoon!  SO I really could enjoy a leisurely dinner with a dear friend without worrying about getting back here, packing, and getting myself up and out early.  Instead we took our time and then I slept so well, woke up with a happy heart and plenty of time to read a little, write a little, pack, and head up to Tana.  Exactly what I needed.

So I guess the point of all this rambling on is that God does know what we need, if we can stop trying to control everything based on what we think it should be.

SO I’m heading to Tana this week to run the first of twelve courses up there and the Checklist team is heading out to run the first of twenty courses across the country and I’ll definitely write more later on both of those things.  In the meantime, you really should watch this video that so beautifully captures my heart and the heart of this incredible organization for capacity building and training programs.

xk

Monday, September 7, 2015

MPH

You may remember a few months ago I wrote a blog post where I informed the universe I had been accepted into the University of Liverpool – Masters in Public Health program.  Today I want to share a little bit more about the back end of that story and an update as to where I am today.

I’ve always been a learner and loved it.  I’ve said if money wasn’t an issue I’d probably be a perpetual student; there’s so much more out there that I want to know about! I’m the one that instead of taking easy classes my senior year I jumped ahead to university and took a full course load while I was still in high school.  I’ve always wanted to go back to school, even started several years back when I still didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life.  So the more I find myself loving and thriving in this field, the more it became apparent that it was time to pursue this degree.

The MPH is a baseline standard in the field of public and global health.  If I was to try to do what I am doing now with any other organization, I would have to have an MPH.  As we are working towards further growth in our programs and global impact, the MPH will give me a richer base of knowledge in things like measurement and evaluation, qualitative analysis and data collection, behavior change models and social determinants towards health practice.

I’m not planning to leave; rather, I would love to be here much, much longer.  This degree isn’t meant for me to be able to get a better paying job elsewhere, it is so I can do my job here better, with a higher level of academic and professional credibility.

So about a year ago I started looking at different schools all over the world. I didn’t want to leave MS so an online degree was important, however many schools offer ‘affiliate’ online degrees that are diploma mills and have no actual credibility.  No way am I going to spend the money on a useless degree!  The University of Liverpool degree online is the exact same degree as if you were there in person.  It’s also one of the recommended programs by the WHO (United Nations) for people looking to work in that organization.  So I figured if it was okay with the UN, it would probably be a good one!

If you know me at all you know I hold my future very loosely; I wanted to get this degree, but only if it was the best thing for me and had the blessing of God on it!  No way did I want to be working full time and going to school and giving up my personal time if God wasn’t going to bless it or if it was for my own selfish gain!  So I put some fleeces out there.  (Gideon put out fleeces as a way to ‘check in’ with God to verify his call and blessing…Judges, chapter 6)

One – would I get in?  Liverpool is not an easy peasy school… it’s been thirteen years since I graduated from college and while I didn’t have a reason to think I wouldn’t get in, it was certainly a possibility.  So I prayed over and over and over that if this wasn’t the best for me that I wouldn’t get in. 

Well, as you know, I did. Then comes the second fleece – will it get funded? No way will I go into debt to do this thing. I worked too hard for too long to get OUT of debt, and am now living in the favor that being debt-free offers. (It’s amazing).  So I trusted that if it isn’t the best thing for me that it wouldn’t get funded.  And I wrote that blog post and left it at that.

Well, the first year is entirely funded.  Thanks to the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Duluth, MN) Endowment fund grant, Mercy Ships, a few other small organizations, several anonymous donors, and supportive friends, family, and strangers. 

So I started the first week of July and it’s been a really fun road so far.  It’s a lot of reading and a lot of writing and thankfully both come relatively easily for me; some topics are especially interesting and some are boring but you have to jump through the hoops sometimes.  It takes up a lot of time; one of the sacrifices I willingly have made is a definite cut to personal and social time, however I do believe it will be worth it. My work has been supportive as well and I’ve been able to take some time during the week to try to keep up. 

I’ve only been back on the ship for just over a week so I’m not yet sure how well I will be able to balance work and school but I’m going to try!  My grades so far are good and I still hold it all quite loosely; I want to make it work and I will try really hard to make it work, but if it doesn’t, it won’t ruin me!

It’s a two-and-a-half to three-year program; depends on if you take breaks between modules and how long your thesis research takes.  I am hoping to get it finished on the short end of that timeline. My first year is funded so we will see how it goes, if it goes well I will need another $9k next July. Just throwing that out there.  I don’t ever have to go to Liverpool in person, but I can go there to graduate alongside with their in-person students.  We shall see if I make the trip in a few years. If I make it that far.

A huge thanks to everyone who has encouraged me on this journey so far, and those that have supported it financially.   I couldn’t do this without you!! 


University of Liverpool Coat of Arms

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Let go.

The last few days have been, shall we say… in the nicest possible way… chaotic.  My home came home and we hit the ground running – full speed ahead as they say.

I have an incredible team this year that has multiplied by a whole lot, and I have full confidence in their ability to blow all of our minds with their awesomeness, once they know what they need to do. Unfortunately most of that information is in MY head, not theirs yet. 

We are doing some awesomely huge, new, exciting projects this year that are all starting at the same time… now.  All of those projects need supplies, money, training, equipment, and guidance. Now.

I’m settling back into my home that left nearly four months ago, that while I was gone sailed several times in the open seas.  I can’t find anything where I thought I left it. I’m reconnecting with dear friends I haven’t seen in months and cleaning up an email inbox that collected nearly eleven hundred emails over the absence and I’m also an MPH student trying not to fail in my first module and… and… and…

At one point last week I said to my boss, “I feel like I’m barely holding on by my fingernails.”

The imagery there is that there is a whole lot going on, and I’m gripping with all my strength to hold on by my fingernails; as though I have already nearly lost my grip, that if I were to slip just a fraction of a centimeter further I would (to mix all possible metaphors) fall into the abyss of chaos and brokenness and the balls I’m juggling would all crash and burn and I would drown.

It’s a phrase I have used before; when I feel right on the edge but there is a filament of strength left in me; of fight, of determination and commitment that no matter what I WILL NOT FALL. I might be a bit short with people; snarky, irritable, even rude; but I WILL NOT FALL. 

Then… one evening as I as lifted the cries of my heart to the heavens; confessing my fear that at any minute one more thing will come along and I will fall and crash and burn and drown, the still small voice whispered two words that truly have transformational power.

Let go.

The words were simple and the imagery profound; letting go doesn’t mean crashing and burning and drowning…

It means trusting.

Trusting the one that has promised never to leave me.

Trusting He hasn’t brought me here to abandon me. 

Trusting He does care about the details.  He wants these people and projects to bring life and hope and healing to Madagascar even more than I do.

Trusting he will orchestrate my next steps, minutes, breaths… if I trust him… and stop ripping off my fingernails trying to hold on by my own strength.

It's called surrender. 

So with fingernails intact, my determination and drive and fear and striving all released to the heavens, I find myself having the most incredible week I can remember.

I’ve connected deeply with people and led meetings and attended meetings and sorted out details and made it through emails and did about six hours of schoolwork in three and shared treats with dear friends and I’ve slept well and found time I wasn’t expecting for encouraging others and offering kindness and loved well and spoken life and experienced joy and life to the full.

We can safely say I am big proponent of this (not so) new stress management plan.

Surrender. 


Let go.