What I'm Learning

Flashes of Lightning and Flashes of Clarity

One summer a few years ago I was in Cambodia with a team. Darkness had fallen, and we finished scarfing down fried rice for dinner so we could load up in the van and head back to the hotel. We were staying near the Vietnam-Cambodia border, and as we drove down the bumpy, pot-hole-filled route, enormous trucks full of imported goods from Vietnam would rumble by, shaking the whole road as they passed. Rain began to patter on the windshield. Everything was pitch black, but I knew the road sloped down on either side and morphed into acres and acres of muddy rice fields. As I stared out the windshield, two tiny dots of light slowly enlarged as the headlights of a vehicle approached: another gigantic truck full of imported goods.

Windshield view during the day

Windshield view during the day

Side view of the road during the day

Side view of the road during the day

When we were about 100 meters from the oncoming truck, a flash of lightning suddenly illuminated the sky, the road, and everything around us.

In that split second, we could see everything. We could see the ditches alongside the road. We could see the miles of rice fields and the hills beyond them. We could see the long stretch of road ahead. And we could see the over-sized truck ahead of us. The truck was carrying an extra-wide load that stretched across nearly two-thirds of the road. We were heading straight for it.

One split second, and everything was dark again.

Stock photo from Pixabay.com

Stock photo from Pixabay.com

But one split second of clarity was all we needed. Our driver swerved to the side of the road as we passed the truck, thunder clapping in the distance and cement road vibrating under us. We all exhaled loudly.

We could have died. But God, in His mercy and in His sovereignty, placed a lightning bolt exactly where it needed to be, exactly when it needed to be there, and we were safe. This single moment of clarity had the power to change a van-full of young people's lives. When I think back on this experience, I marvel at the Lord's providence. I wonder at His power and His goodness. I realize again how a single moment of stark clarity can change a life. 

When I visited Cambodia in July and came back with the decision to quit nursing, I reached a pivot point. Though I didn't intend on resigning my nursing job when I left for Cambodia, my time there provided the right setting for the Lord to provide significant clarity.

Once again, a moment of clarity in Cambodia changed the my life. It wasn't a bolt of lightning, and it wasn't a literal swerving on a concrete road during a storm. It was, however, perhaps just as important a moment of clarity in my life. It eliminated guesswork, extra stress and anxiety about putting in my two weeks' notice. It was crystal clear I needed to reroute the direction of my life to avoid a major wreck.

As I'm following this new route, I'm learning each day that the change in direction isn't as much a switch from nursing to writing as it is a transition from prioritizing my reputation to building my life around the Lord. Each day, I learn a little more about trust.

Slowly, I'm learning to accept that I'm out of my comfort zone in this new line of work. I'm learning to let go of the pride that says, "I have to be the best in my field."

When it comes down to it, I could work in writing/editing for a couple years, and then this career could completely fizzle out. It could take a nosedive. It could explode. I have no idea what the outcome will be, and I'm learning to be okay with that.

Part of surrendering to the Lord and crafting my life around Him means trusting that what He has for me is better than the dreams of success I have for myself. I can't help but think this is the lesson He wants me to focus on over the lessons in marketing, gaining clients, and self-employment. Because no matter what career I land in, this truth remains: He is faithful, He is trustworthy, and He will take care of me. With flashes of lightning and flashes of clarity, He guides my path and protects my life. All I have to do is to keep my eyes open and say yes.


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Busted: 4 Myths of Career Changes (and the truth behind each myth)

Well, it's been a month. One month since I officially transitioned over from the world of clinical nursing to a job in editing and writing. In some ways, it has been exactly as predicted: exciting, stressful, and a lot of learning. In other ways, it's been full of surprises and absolutely the opposite from what I expected. As I continue processing this major career shift, here are four myths I believed about career changes that simply are not true.

Adobe stock image

Adobe stock image

Myth #1: It will feel natural.

I suppose because writing and editing feels natural to me, I thought transitioning into a career that utilized them would also feel natural. However, using these skills on the side and creating a job around these skills are completely different. To my surprise, I grieved leaving the hospital, not just because of the wonderful people I knew there, but also because I knew the system. I was familiar and competent with the hospital system; I could navigate it as easily as a millennial navigating a smart phone. It was comfortable. Stepping into the freelancing world, however, felt starkly uncomfortable. I was entering a microcosm filled with abbreviations and acronyms that people actually go to school to learn. As the weeks pass by and I learn more and more, the awkwardness is starting to fade, but I continually have to remind myself it's okay if it doesn't always feel natural to be an editor and writer.

Myth #2: Changing careers is easy.

Um, am I the only person in the young adult population who has bought the lie that changing careers is easy? People throw around the term casually, and they act like it's no big deal millennials tend to career hop. I thought, "If so many people do it, it can't be that hard!" Wrong. I'm actually amazed how career switching tends to have connotations like "irresponsible" or "noncommittal" rather than "resilient" and "gutsy" and "persevering." Changing careers is difficult, takes time, and requires people to accept a steep learning curve. Not only does a new career bring new material to learn, it also includes a new community and specific subculture. I'm having a blast getting to explore this new community, but it definitely is not easy.

Myth #3: You'll automatically be happier if you switch careers.

Since apparently new jobs don't always feel natural and are downright hard sometimes, it makes sense immediate happiness isn't a given with a different career. Now, a few weeks in, I love my job and I am happier, but the emotional lightness didn't come as an automatic perk. In fact, I was pretty stressed out and unhappy at first. Rather, happiness came as a result of being able to cultivate a healthier work environment, which still requires a lot of intentionality and prayer. Once I settled into a routine and chose to trust the Lord with my successes and failures, my happiness meter slowly rose. Perhaps a common flaw in our thinking today is believing it is the job switch itself that brings us happiness. We fail to identify what aspects about the job make us unhappy and how we can address them. Sometimes addressing them means quitting a job (or an entire career field), sometimes it means transferring positions within a company, and sometimes it means changing out expectations, attitudes, or boundaries and staying in that exact same job. For me, happiness didn't come as a result of the writing/editing career itself but from the lower-stress, overall healthier work environment I was able to create.

Myth #4: Following your passion is all that matters.

Passions matter, and they are worth following. I followed one of mine into writing and editing. But more than that, I followed the steps I believed the Lord was leading me to take. So often we have romanticized dreams and ideas of what "following our passions" could mean: traveling the world and working, making it big in the creative world, launching a business, and so much more. While it can be very healthy to dream big and pursue these things, our emotions around our passions can change. Emotions, by nature, ebb and flow. So does motivation. Yet the Lord and His word doesn't. He remains the same, and really, following Him is exponentially more rewarding than following a dream or a passion. Jesus came to extend the greatest invitation we will ever receive: the invitation to follow Him and walk with Him. This, by far, busts the greatest myths of career changes and success I've ever encountered: the most fulfilling choice in the world is not about jobs or money or husbands or children; it's about choosing to accept Jesus' invitation to be in His presence every day of our lives.

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Satisfaction in a "Just Enough" Culture

Satisfied. This word has been on my mind for the past several weeks. It's what I've longed for on the daily for months. It's what I've craved when I've been anxious.

I've found a lot of things that have brought temporary satisfaction—just enough to get me to the next hour, day, or week. TV shows, peanut butter M&Ms, songs and books and random events. 

Stock photo from Pixabay.com

Stock photo from Pixabay.com

I'm reminded of this pair of red headphones I have on right now (listening to "Unchanging" by Antioch Live—check it out!). I bought these headphones for $15 in Cambodia, and they're knock-offs of a famous brand. The sound quality is still stellar—much better than the cheap ear buds I usually buy at Target. They're not the real thing, but they're good enough for my needs. Plus, I feel super cool when I have them on because no one else knows they're knock-offs!

When I think of the activities (and foods) I've found satisfaction in over the past few months, I deemed them all "good enough for my needs" at the time. And perhaps they were, for a season, as I transitioned back to life in the US and struggled through a dark wave of depression. But now, I crave something more.

I crave the real thing. Not a knock-off. Not something that's good enough for now. Something that will fill me up, from the soul outward, not just filling my stomach or my five senses. All around me, marketing schemes pitch ideas of why a product or experience is the greatest "for now" satisfaction—just enough to tide me over. I could live my whole life like this, going on the next adventure, viewing the new movie, or binge-watching the newest Netflix sensation. I could live like this, and I wouldn't be unhappy. I could hop from one distraction to the next, and I could even feel like I was bettering myself and my community with "the next big thing:" online classes, community projects, and more.

These offers for satisfaction are delightful—at least for the moment, hour, day that they last. This is the message of our culture: "If it meets my needs right now, it's enough, even if it's not the real deal."

These days, I'm craving something deeper. I'm craving what only the Lord can give to satisfy my soul, my being. I'm learning, so far, satisfied only comes in abundance in His presence. 

I'm still a fan of my headphones, even if they're fake. They help me come into the presence of the One who brings me to the place of being deeply satisfied. I'm choosing to invest more time and energy into this deep, lasting, authentic satisfaction, the kind that starts in my soul and creeps into my bones and changes the essence of who I am. This is the real deal, and it's more than enough.

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How the Cardiovascular System Helped Me Find My Purpose

Music played from my laptop next to the couch. I pulled my blanket up to my chin and listened and prayed. A friend came to mind, and I thought about how she was a conduit, a vessel for the Gospel. My mind turned over the word "vessel" and since my friend is also a nurse, wandered to thoughts of blood vessels and the body's vasculature.

All at once, something clicked inside me, and I sat straight up. When I thought of my friend—and myself, and everyone—as blood vessels, something suddenly made sense to me. Bear with me while I give some backstory.

It's been a year since I have moved back to the United States. A year full of struggles, depression, hope, and growth only reentry could bring (it was so crazy I even wrote an ebook on it). One of the things I struggled with during the transition from life overseas to life in Waco, Texas, was finding purpose in my location and vocation Stateside.

While in Cambodia, I learned the missionary lifestyle is not so different from—or more important than—the lifestyle of a believer back home. However, this knowledge didn't prevent guilt from creeping up on me when I moved to the States. I felt guilty for abandoning those I loved in Cambodia, and I questioned whether I was weak for not staying there. The attention and applause the American church gave to missionaries no longer applied to me. Without a clear-cut outline defining my goals and my purpose, I felt lost, out of place, and particularly unimportant

Though the Lord has since provided incredible community, a sense of purpose and contribution, and relentless reminders of His love, in the back of my mind I have still believed that what I am doing here in the United States is less important—less vital—to the Kingdom than what I was doing in Cambodia. We often call missionaries the people on the "front lines," but where does that leave the rest of us?

When I thought of people as blood vessels, as conduits supplying life to other body parts, I realized it didn't matter what my location was. I could be a capillary in the pinky toe all the way in Cambodia, where the vasculature isn't as dense, or I could be part of the aorta at the hub of the heart. I could be a coronary artery, feeding the heart itself and keeping it strong so it could continue sending out blood to the body. I could be a femoral artery, a little farther from the heart but not in the boonies of the fingertips. Regardless of where I was, I was neither less important nor "more" vital than any other vessel. "More" and "less" do not exist as long as I pulse with the heartbeat of the One who gives life.


The goal of the cardiovascular system is to keep the body alive—all parts of the body. The aorta has no purpose if no arteries supply the brain; likewise, capillaries in the brain have nothing to give if the carotid is not functioning. My purpose is the same in both places, though it may look different. It may involve giving more of my financial resources (now that I have a paying job again!) and less time traveling to remote villages that have no blood supply yet. It may look like resting and soaking up the extra access to life-giving friends and community, hearing the Gospel preached in my own language every week, and feeling the pulse of His heartbeat, strong and regular as it reshapes my attitude and habits and life to be more like His.

When I was in Cambodia, I thirsted for community and soaked up every bit I received. I treasured phone calls and found Jesus to be my closest companion as I sought Him on my knees (in front of the oscillating fan, of course). I desperately hungered for the encouragement and prayers sent to me through friends and family and strangers, all the way from the heart of God to mine. I could not have survived without this. I am forever grateful for those who served as vessels at every step of the way: from the aorta to the arcuate artery, allowing hope to flow to me in the pinky toe of Kratie, Cambodia.

Here in the States, I am deeply grateful for community, for the people who draw near to the heart of God and who urge me to do the same. My soul feasts on the abundance of spiritual resources, and I am refreshed and restored. And I hope I too am a conduit. I hope I too am a vessel allowing hope to flow through me straight to the one who needs it, or to trickle from me to another to another to another, eventually reaching a girl on the other side of the world who is on her knees seeking the One who fills our deepest needs. I hope I get to play a part in her experiencing community and purpose and forgiveness. I hope she would know there is One who loves her, and this One who loves her most is there with her, on the floor in front of the fan, ready to refresh her soul.


To those who have been and to those who are conduits and vessels, thank you. What an honor to serve Jesus alongside you.

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