Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seek and You Will Find: The Joy of Relationship

"The moment one gives close attention to anything, 
even a blade of grass, 
it becomes a mysterious, awesome, 
indescribably magnificent world in itself." 
(Henry Miller, Author)

Yesterday was a full day. It wasn't so much filled with activity as with angst. You know - that inner restlessness that often comes during times of change and big choices. You're waiting to get from point A to point B, but a world of possibilities lies in between. Thus, angst!

I'm at the crossroads between who I've been and who I'm called to become. There is much I want to hold on to, and even more I'm eager to embrace. I am, once again, in a chrysalis of change, waiting for what's next.

Thankfully, I'm certain that what awaits me is marvelous. God told me Himself. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11) This well-known verse is a sweet reminder of God's faithfulness to those who follow Him. Yet, the verse that follows it is even more hopeful.

"'Then you will call upon Me and come 
and pray to Me, 
and I will listen to you.  
You will seek Me and find Me 
when you seek Me with all your heart.  
I will be found by you,' 
declares the Lord..." 
 (Jeremiah 29:12-14a)
During times of critical decisions, I crave silence. I long for inner stillness, for I know that's when I hear God's whispers. I don't want to make a move outside of God's perfect will, so I must seek to know God's heart in every situation.

As I crave this inner stillness, God answers. I must simply wait - while in pursuit - and it surely comes! I experienced it yesterday.

We got home around dusk after letting the kids run around at the neighborhood playground. After a light and decision-free afternoon, the countless questions that sprinted to my mind as we reached our house were (thankfully!) halted by the deepest shade of red I've ever seen. A vividly crimson cardinal greeted us home, hopping happily all over our front yard. I couldn't help but stop everything and follow him to our backyard, where he soon found his mate and flew away.

As I pursued him stealthily, I noticed new flowers blooming all around me that I'd missed all week. I spotted critters and followed the flight of two monarch butterflies, and I drank in the lush green all around. 

As I took in my surroundings, I became still. And in that stillness, I felt completely at peace. My heart was glad and my mind was clear. Ahhh!

Although I didn't sense clear guidance as to each of my questions, the experience reminded me that I must participate in finding the stillness I need. Sometimes, finding such stillness must be the most intentional thing that we do. It's a terrific paradox!

Part of the beauty and mystery of Nature is in how ubiquitous it is. It's everywhere! Yet, it's also exquisitely hidden.

And so it is with God. Omnipresent, and beautifully hidden, waiting to be found.

Seek and you will find but, to find, you must seek with your whole heart. Your whole self, fully engaged. You must want it. I must want it.

There's the challenge, and why we must be still.  

"Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10a)

Be still!
Dr Mari

*Photo by Manuel Díaz Photography. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

For more stories to help you be still, read A Thirsty Deer Leads Worship! and Living in the Moment

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Mission Statement: To Shine!

Below is my mission statement; 
I borrowed it from Salvador's song, Shine

I will continue to pursue it daily with everything I have.

When I remember my calling and when I don't.
When it matters and when it, seemingly, doesn't.
When doing so brings accolades while attracting critics and judges.
When I feel like it, and when I don't.

I want to shine.

"Lord, let me shine
Shine like the moon
A reflection of You
All that I do
Lord, let me be
A light for Your truth
Light of the world
I want to be used
To shine for You."

I want to shine ... for Him!

All light is borrowed.
He shines through us.

We shine for Him.

Dr Mari

* Photo by Manuel Díaz Photography. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission. 

For a link to Salvador's song, Shine, read On the Edge of What's Next.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Purposeful Living: Becoming Who We Really Are

A beautiful friend recently sent me this e.e. cummings' quote and remarked, "I read this and thought of you. You are doing it!" Her thoughtful note put a smile on my face and made me glad - because she's right! Plus, she quoted my favorite poet - a fun bonus!

Every day, I become a bit more the person that God created me to be, and the journey has filled my life with a sense of adventure, purpose, and joy.

Some years ago I resolved to start using all the gifts God gave me and to give them back to Him as an offering. Since then, God continues to bless me with open doors to speak, write, and spread hope beyond the exam rooms where I care for patients. It's been an exciting time of rediscovering my gifts and trusting God to continue to develop them as I exercise them.

One of the pivotal experiences in this journey of growth involved meeting Mary, the gifted ex-Disney executive who became my coach. She helped me to focus my energy and define my purpose and goals, which shifted my life in a new and exciting direction. She did not ask me to write this but, if you are in need of coaching and inspiration, whether in your personal life or in your business, consider contacting her. The process of discovery she walks you through can be life-changing.*

I encourage you to look at your life and ask yourself, what do I want? What is the purpose of my life? Where are my choices taking me? As we commit to living a life of purpose and make the changes needed to achieve it, new doors open, and we begin to live abundant lives that make a difference. And that is a great way to live!

Dr Mari

* I now serve as a coach for physicians, a rewarding and unexpected new calling that evolved as a result of my coaching journey. *

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Physician: Heal Yourself!

I recently saw an ad for one of the medical VIP services that read,

Healing Others Shouldn't be Killing You.”

A “choking” visual created by a stethoscope looped around itself pulled me in, triggering flashbacks of my career as a physician. I remembered practicing as an Air Force officer with competing authorities - the military rank system and the medical hierarchy – which proved impossible to reconcile at times! During my second year in that challenging job, I fell on my knees one night and prayed, “Lord, I need You. If You are real, please reveal Yourself to me!”

He did, and my life has never been the same again.

When I gave my heart to Christ, He began to transform it, changing me as a mother, as a wife, and as a doctor. God is faithful to answer our prayers to know Him. And when we give Him our brokenness, He gives us life; what an exchange!

As I picture the loops around the choking stethoscope, I recognize that many physicians and caregivers feel like this right now. Squeezed in from every direction. Stretched to the max. Spent. And they feel this way right as they head for the door to see their next patient.

In a recent study of 1,195 physicians from various specialties, “nearly one-third of physicians responding to the survey indicated that they will want to leave medical practice after health reform is implemented.” One out of every three! I know of an office that recently lost three doctors in less than nine months. They all left for the same reasons. They had no joy in their work, little control over their days, and felt that they couldn't provide excellent care with the time constraints and other obstacles they face daily. In medicine, less is rarely more.

We need well-trained, compassionate team members as well as adequate resources and time to care for people with significant problems. The right fit is hard to find, and many never find it. For me, finding the right fit meant that I had to change, too, and learn to think outside the box. I chose to start working as an independent contractor, which has afforded me the flexibility to pursue God's call on my life as a pastor's wife, mother, author, speaker, and doctor. Joy has returned to my work, and I see myself as a servant in healthcare. 

Although the changes in my professional life have been life-giving, they came at a price. I've had to embrace a non-traditional model that others may not choose for themselves. Yet, in Galatians 1:10, Paul challenges our perspective and reminds us to consider our motives. “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?... If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

These days, my joy and peace come from knowing that my choices are pleasing to God, and that is all I need.

No, helping others shouldn't be killing us. That is not God's will for His servants. Healing others is, in fact, life-giving when we do it with Jesus and to please God. I think many of us do it for Jesus but not necessarily with Him. This gap can be bridged through daily, intentional choices involving prayer, meditating on God's Word, adoring Him in worship, and through meaningful conversations with colleagues about the Lord and what He's doing in our personal and professional lives. The closer we walk with Him, the more He works through us, and He is a God of healing.

Are you working for Jesus on your own? There is a better way! Organizations like the Christian Community Health Fellowship can come alongside you as you work for the Lord in healthcare. If in doubt, ask yourself, is this God's will for my life, for my family, and for my patients? Ask Him to help you discern and prioritize your days around His agenda for your life, and resolve to make every necessary change – with His help – to remain aligned with His perfect will.

Dr Mari 

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