Friday, October 7, 2011

20 Signs You've Been in the ICU Waiting Room Too Long

This week has been a journey that I'm sure will shape the rest of my life. I've spent the past 6 days in San Diego with family as my uncle has battled for his life in the ICU. Praise God that he is a miracle working God who hears the prayers of His people. And although I've been reflecting deeply and will continue to do so, over dinner last night, we all had a good laugh over the signs of being too long in the ICU waiting room...

1. You answer the "volunteer" phone and give instructions to other families from nurses.
2. You know every other visitor by name.
3. You escort visitors to the door of their patient.
4. You know the exact time of day the air conditioning will kick in.
5. Your idea of entertainment is visiting the cafeteria.
6. You've actually pondered every piece of art on the hospital grounds.
7. The people at the coffee cart know you by name and suggest a punch card.
8. You know what bathrooms have the shortest lines.
9. You know what hallway has the best cell phone reception.
10. You get upset when your corner table is taken by newbies and thus start leaving behind "reserved" signs.
11. You can tell volunteers which therapy dog is the best behaved.
12. The sweet old lady at the front desk will no longer validate your parking.
13. You've actually seen the same special on the cafeteria menu more than once.
14. You've begun purchasing magazines in Spanish from the gift shop because you've read all the English ones.
15. You know what all the secret hospital codes spoken over the intercom mean.
16. You know no longer get nervous at the announcement of "infant code Adam," because it will inevitably be resolved 30 second later.
17. You know where the best parking spots are located.
18. You see the hospital on the news from the waiting room television.
19. Your idea of celebratory drinks is another round of coffee.
20. You train a new visitors on ICU Waiting Room protocol when you are released to the 5th floor.

Thank you God for life!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sharing the Love For Quinn: A trip to the CF Clinic | branching out

Sharing the Love For Quinn: A trip to the CF Clinic | branching out
A story you should can help by attending Quinn's benefit concert on October 6th at George Fox University with musician Tyrone Wells. Tickets are available online at Can't attend? Spread the word by re-posting.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Offering up the Scales

Every week at kid's church we transition from singing to our lesson with offering. As soon as the offering buckets come out, I watch small hands shoot into the air, as young, excited voices squeal, "Pick me! Pick me!" After careful selection, one boy and one girl will join me in the front each waiting to be handed a bucket. When I say "Go!" they'll weave back and forth in each aisle making sure every child has the chance to give in the offering if they'd like. They race back to the front, and I ask for a drum roll as the buckets are carefully placed on the scale. A stampede of expectation fills the room as the scales tilt to the right then tilt back to the left before coming to a final stop.

"It looks like the boys took it for speed today, but the girls took it for weight." A cheer goes up from the pint-sized crowd, and then I ask the final question: "But does it really matter who was faster at gathering offering today or who gave more?"

I wait for their reply in unison. "No."

"That's right. No. It all goes to the same place, and God isn't worried about how much you give. He's looking at your heart."

He's looking at my heart. I've been contemplating balance in my life lately, and just today, a mentor from my time in college pulled me into his office and started drawing pictures of scales. As he explained a larger picture of balance, I couldn't stop thinking about offering in kid's church.

There are certain places in my life where I have a heart to give more. I pour in time and resource, but the bucket still feels so light. And although I tell God that these are the places I truly want to invest all of me, I know I'm called at the moment to a different bucket. The other bucket seems to be overflowing, but I often hold back thinking if I truly invest all of me in this bucket, I won't have anything left for the other seemingly more important container. There are times I want to invest more into the lighter container, but the second bucket demands resources that I can't give to the first. And I feel myself at constant odds with God questioning the buckets, wondering why in some areas of my life more is demanded while in others I'm released to less. If I was in charge the scales would be flipped.

God reminded me today that it all goes to the same place. If I am faithful to put what I have in the bucket, to give what is asked no matter how big that contribution must be or how small it has to be, God will take and multiply the rest.

Before we ever take the offering, I always ask the kids why we give. The responses vary, "To help poor people. Because it's good. etc." But I pass the microphone from kid to kid until I get the answer I seek--"Worship."

"That's right, kids." I'll say. All we have belongs to God and we give back as worship to Him.

And God doesn't discriminate between the buckets, because it all goes to the same place when it comes out of the same heart.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Arguments with Perfect

I can't tell you how many times in relationship I've had to admit to being wrong. Whether I'm in a business meeting conceding to someone's idea, working issues out with family members, or learning to communicate more aptly with a friend, there have been several moments of "You were right, and I was wrong."

However, in most of these conversations, there is a middle ground. The other party involved has something they can give on, something they can do better, something deeper to understand. Neither side is perfect, and here is the beauty of learning and growing in human relationship.

However, recently, I've found myself frustrated in these conversations with God. When I'm dissatisfied, when I feel our relationship could be better or my voice should be heard more, God is not in the wrong. He truly has nothing to change, no character flaw, and no imperfection he's bringing to the relationship. There is no room for "I was wrong in this, but you were wrong in that." And I must reconcile myself to the fact that my mind has to be changed, my view enlarged, my position altered. And that kind of trust both terrifies me and excites me as I realize His best laid plans look very different from mine.

And I find myself at another crossroads. I can continuing to be frustrated, or I can trust, change my mind, and ask to see those attitudes that need to be shifted. How do you argue with Perfect but to ask for grace.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Running Lesson #4: In My Own Backyard

First, for those of you who are under the impression that I'm an extremely dedicated runner, I will start this post with the honest confession that I took all of last week off from my customary tri-weekly jogs. I don't have a super good excuse, but feel the need to be honest.

This evening, I took off for a little jaunt partially because I need to get on track if I'm going to finish the half-marathon I've signed up for in July and partially because I've run out of scapegoats for Mark Franklin's daily inquiry, "Dot, how was your run today."

Advised on a new route, I took off on the back roads behind my house. Running amidst cow fields, horse pastures, and wooded hills, I felt like I could put one foot in front of the other indefinitely this evening. The sun sunk low in the sky and the breeze carried the fresh scent of a babbling brook through the air. In the midst of what is shaping up to be a rather busy week, I was at peace.

For the past year-and-a-half, as long as I've lived with the Franklin's, the lovely cow fields, the Thoroughbred horses, and the babbling brook have all been sitting there waiting to greet me, but I never ventured far enough to discover them. Though only steps out of my own front door, I never had the eyes to see or the will to venture forth and discover the undiscovered.

I travel a lot for work. Every time I'm sent to a new city, I do a little research first on things to explore. At times, I'll find a good restaurant. Or maybe I'll visit some historical landmark. Maybe I'll wander through untamed countryside. I'm always amazed at how I, being a stranger, often visit places locals have never been. They know about these places. They've read in magazines or heard about how great such and such place is from someone else, but have yet to experience those things sitting right in their own back yard.

Sometimes I wonder in my own city, in my own sphere of influence, what things am I missing in my own backyard? Maybe it's the girl walking down NE 82nd. I've never stopped a moment to observe the way she walks and the scant clothes hanging off her frame, but If I did, I might look at her with eyes of compassion. Maybe it's the homeless man who's always standing on the freeway off-ramp, but I've never met his gaze as he stares at me through my windshield, cardboard sign in his hand. Maybe it's the child sitting in kid's church for the 10th Sunday in a row, and I've never seen him before and have no idea what his name is or why he frowns while the other children smile. Maybe it's the promise or the greatness in a friend I've become so familiar with that I've boxed them into my idea of what their life is or should be. Maybe it's my job that in the day to day of showing up at the same office every morning I've forgotten to look for the opportunities and growing experiences each day brings.

Whatever the undiscovered landscape may be, I fully embrace the exploration of my own backyard.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Here's to you Buzzard

You were a spiritual father to me and one of the reasons I am serving God today. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself and seeing in me things I didn't see. I pray to pass that gift to others. You taught me the song, "When I get to heaven gonna walk with Jesus," and now you are walking the golden streets with Him. Somewhere in heaven, there must be a big day camp field. I can't wait to get there and sing camp songs with you. Here's to you, Buzzard:

“Hey, Dale, do you have a minute?”

“Sure, Dot. Come here so I can poke you. Would that make you a poke-a-Dot?”
I laugh as my boss playfully reaches out his finger and jabs my arm. His face vanishes underneath a grin that would put the Cheshire cat to shame as he explodes through the door of the camp office onto the sidewalk.

“Walk with me.”

He revs like a speed boat jetting in the direction of Day Camp, where he is scheduled to lead songs in five minutes. The ground disappears under his worn tennis shoes. I’m left staring at the back of his staff t-shirt and the khaki cargo shorts. His name tag, which reads “Buzzard” is swinging from his neck; grasped in his worn hands are a guitar case and Bible. I take a few jogging strides and fall into step beside him.

“What’s up, Kiddo?” he asks eyebrows lifting and smile furrows deepening on his brow.

“Umm, I have a situation I am not quite sure how to deal with. Some counselors said they saw two of my junior counselors making out in a movie theater. I know I’m not their parent, but I'm not a big fan of 14-year-old staff members making out while they’re here at camp. Well, I don’t really want them making out period. How in the world do I handle this one?”

Dale pauses a moment and scratches the back of his head, once covered in locks of sandy blond hair. He strokes the spreading bald spot encased by tufts of gray.

“Well, have you thought about… can you hang on one sec?” We have already reached the Main Camp field in an impressive thirty seconds. Dale spies two boys on housekeeping staff swinging from an old rope tied to a stout oak tree. “Hey, boys, what are you doing?” shouts Dale.

“We are looking for Mike,” comes the sheepish reply.

“Well, why don’t you look over by his office? I don’t want to see you just standing around.”

I give him a moment to let his frustrations pass before continuing. “So, I was wondering what I should do about these two kids.”

“What do you think you should do?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I am asking you! I know that this goes a lot deeper than camp. I mean someone needs to sit down and talk with them about appropriate relationships. I don’t want to be their parent. But, really, making out in a movie theater? I’m not quite sure what step to take.”

“Well Dot, I think your next step is a house call. Get them on the phone and see if you can go for coffee. This absolutely affects their ministry at camp, and you need to be caring enough to talk to these two teens about their decisions.”

“But, I don’t want to. That’s scary.”

“You can do it, girl. I trust you.”

“Alright, I guess. Thanks, Dale.” I watch the man next to me. As the executive director of Canyonview Camp, Dale has seen everything Christian camping can bring. He has been at Canyonview for over thirty years. If you name it he’s done it. From counseling cabins full of boys, leading biking and boating trips, life guarding, pouring concrete, moving dirt with the backhoe, teaching Bible studies, helping in the kitchen, reporting child abuse, hiring and firing staff, getting business men to donate money, answering phones, giving advice about teenage hormones—there isn’t much in the way of Christian camping that Dale doesn’t know about.

Even after so many years of dedication, he’s still as spry as he was in his twenties when he gave up military life to command a troop of counselors, support staff, and hundreds of children on their adventures at summer camp. He may be in his fifties now, but he’s just as strong as ever. The man will hoist a fifty-pound hay bale over his shoulder as if it weighed no more than his two year old grandson.

We are approaching Day Camp now. The covered foot bridge spanning the creek comes into full view. “Any boys yet?” comes the familiar question.

“No, not yet.”

“How does a girl as cute as you not have a boyfriend yet? That just amazes me. But you’re picky.”

“Yep, picky and proud of it.”

“Good, that’s what I like to hear.” Dale turns to look at me, his eyes full of father like adore. He reaches his arm across my shoulders and pulls me into a firm side hug. “You know what, I appreciate you. I really do. And I’m proud of you, Kiddo.” I smile up at him as he releases me, and we clomp over the bridge.

As the Day Camp field comes into view, we are greeted by the shriek of a screaming first grade boy with a bloodied right knee.

“What did you do this poor boy?” Dale inquires jokingly of the counselor leading the camper towards the staff room.

“He fell down on a rock," replies the frazzled counselor.

“Let me see your muscles,” Dale says to the injured child. The boy, hesitant to forget his tears, slowly displays a scrawny looking bicep. Dale reaches down to squeeze his flexed arm. “Looking good Muscles,” he says. One last big sniffle, a little snob, and the boy's tears are gone. We continue on our fast paced adventure.

The Day Camp Director has spotted us now. Dale takes a quick moment to look at his watch.

The young man looks at him nervously. “I wasn’t sure if you were going to show up.”

“What, I’m only one minute late,” says Dale.

The Day Camp Director introduces the Executive Director to the tarp of children who are gazing up with awe at the man in the staff shirt.

“Hey kids, this is Buzzard, and he is here to help us sing some songs.”

Dale takes center stage and whips out a guitar from the case he has been carrying. Checking to see if the instrument is in tune, he addresses his captive audience. “Hey kids, do you know what a buzzard is? A buzzard is a big, old, ugly, balding bird that eats dead stuff.” He points to the top of his shiny head. Campers and staff alike can’t help but laugh.

As I walk away, the melodic notes of guitar chords and child-like voices resonate through the field. I remember when I was the child sitting on the tarp staring up at the man. I reach the bridge; the sound of his tenor voice echoes in my ears. I look back. His eyes are cast towards Heaven as sings “Oh God, you are my God. . . I will learn to walk in your ways, and step by step you’ll lead me, and I will follow you all of my days.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Northern California Day 9: Flying Southwest, Again

Well, I'm sitting in the Sacramento airport waiting for my flight that is now delayed 2 hours and 20 minutes. So far, flying Southwest has been a strike out.

I went to church this morning in Sacramento. Ironically, the sermon notes down to the power point were from a sermon Pastor Frank taught some months ago. It was kind of cool to be so far from home but to see the impact City Bible has had on other churches. I just love my church.

The fair today was great. I'm so ready to come home, but it was kind of sad to say goodbye to friends I've met on the road. We've all been together pretty much 24-7 for the past week. The admissions world has some top-notch people. One counselor and I are taking the same flight back to Portland. We're both glad of the company concerning the delay.

Thank you to all who have followed my great Northern California adventure. I'll be home soon...I hope.