What Pregnant Women Need to Hear

I think we’re all aware that the world around us has changed dramatically over the last sixty years or so, and for the most part I would say that’s a good thing. Technology, equality, opportunity, and the overall ability to pursue happiness and the all American Dream has advanced and become easier to take hold of. The role of women alone has come a long way, and the female’s desire to be taken seriously in the workplace has really started to take shape. Feminists everywhere rejoice. Yippee. 

I am all about moving forward and being taken seriously as an intelligent, professional woman, but in the quest to become equals it’s been neglected that we are different from men. And I don’t think any area proclaims this more clearly than a woman’s ability to bear children. I mean, seriously, that kind of sets us apart from our male counterparts, but in a span of decades where women have wished to be seen just as strong as a man the sheer miraculous occurrence of carrying and growing a human life has been shelved as just another thing. 

What I see is this. Pregnancy isn’t seen as a big deal anymore, and women who are carrying a baby inside them actually perform in society at the same pace as those who are not. In women’s long fight to not be coddled or considered the weaker sex we’ve gotten just what we asked for, and so now when we are in a physical condition that requires a little slack very little is to be found. 

Pregnant women are allowed to share the joy of the miracle happening inside them, but it’s much less common to hear them complain. The fact is that growing a baby is really hard work, but you seldom hear a woman admit this. Instead they stay strong holding their feelings of discomfort to themselves, and anyone around a pregnant woman might not even realize she’s expecting if not for the bulging belly and swollen face. 

We live in a society that doesn’t talk about how trying, tiring, and draining pregnancy can be. We live in a world that is so politically correct that a woman carrying a baby is almost afraid to discuss out loud the difficulties she’s experiencing for fear of the backlash she will receive. 

It’s true that the ability to have a baby is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but it’s also extremely hard. The problem is you can’t express that emotion without appearing ungrateful for the life inside you. 

Pregnant women aren’t allowed to complain, or at least that’s not the popular choice of expression. If they do happen to slip and let out a vocal frustration they are quickly met with the common phrase, “it will be so worth it in the end.” I see that a lot, and I can’t help but think, well, of course it’s worth it! I wouldn’t be doing it a third time if it wasn’t!

The bottom line for me is that growing a tiny human is tough. In fact it’s one of the toughest things we’ll ever do (aside from raising teenagers I’ve heard). Perhaps I should specify to say it’s the toughest physical challenge that many women will face, but we seem to have forgotten how to admit that. We seem to have forgotten that it’s okay to say, “This is hard! I’m really tired, and my vagina feels like Mike Tyson punched it!” Instead when asked we answer in an awe-shucks manner, “I’m okay; just ready for the baby to be here soon.” Yet even as we stand stoic and speak our strong words to strangers our inner woman wants to cry, I haven’t slept through the night in months, and I feel like I’m breathing fire. 

 

You’re the most tired you’ve ever been, yet you can’t sleep.

 

Listen to me now; this is the important part. Having a baby is one on the most precious, blessed experiences I have ever had! I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I’m currently pregnant again because it is worth it. It’s amazing! But… It’s also hard. Really hard, and sometimes I just want to say so and not feel like I’m being a big baby, complainer. I want someone to pat my head compassionately and instead of say, “it will be worth it in the end,” I want to hear them say, “What you’re doing is amazing. I remember, and it’s really tough. Hang in there.” Then they can hand me a piece of chocolate, and let me cry in their lap. 

Women are one of the strongest creatures alive when it comes to childbirth, and I think it’s okay to remember that we’re still strong even when we admit weakness. It’s okay to say, “I feel like this baby is sucking the life out of me!” It’s okay to not enjoy every single thing about being pregnant. Just because you complain about the hardships every now and then, it doesn’t mean you’re not grateful. If you recall in Genesis God told Eve it wouldn’t be easy on her. Childbirth is a blessing of life, but it also really freaking hurts. Just saying. 

Next time you see a pregnant woman try to remember that she’s walking through the pain of sciatica on probably only four hours sleep. She’s emotionally frazzled, physically exhausted, and her breasts really hurt. She’s completely aware that she’s holding a beautiful, perfect miracle in her womb, but she may also just want someone to say, “why don’t you have a seat? You look like you could take a load off.”

Like an old cigarette ad stated after women’s lib, “you have come a long way baby,” but in my opinion it’s okay to admit when you feel that you are physically and emotionally lacking. You’re stronger than you realize for carrying a child inside you, and you have the right to say it ain’t easy. 

Everyone else around you should take a moment to understand that your complaints aren’t out of ingratitude, or even a blindness to other’s feelings. Sometimes something is just hard and you need to say so out loud. You just need a little support in your feelings as you struggle through the symptoms and physical demands a pregnancy entails. 

Pregnant women need to hear, “good job,” more often. We will be given the ultimate reward at the end of the nine months, but while in the thick of a race of utmost endurance, and after crying all morning about an insurance commercial, we could use a little sympathy and encouragement too. 

Four Ways Christians Can Respond to the Changes Around Us

I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t want to write this post. I didn’t want to go there. Why? Because of the reactions, because of all the varied, crazy responses I’ve seen flying around me in the face of so much change and conflict in the country I love. It’s enough turmoil to make one wish to squirrel away for a month or so until things blow over, but as I stood in the shower spray this morning and prayed, this is what I got. 

  
I’ve noticed many different types of reactions to the recent decisions made in our country, such as the recent Supreme Court ruling on Gay marriage. There’s been a lot of reactions nationwide from our leaders, our government, our citizens, and also the Christian community. It’s really had me thinking, and it’s had me on my knees. 

Here’s four ways Christians can possibly respond to the changes around us, and my thoughts on those reactions. 

1. Anger. I think this one has probably been most prevalent, and I can understand. I’m not telling you not to be mad as a Christian when the world acts in a manner that goes against your morals and beliefs, but I would add this thought to the equation. We must be cautious not to allow our feelings of anger to be used by Satan. Instead we must allow Jesus to guide our words, thoughts, and actions. 

So often Christians wish to recant the story of Jesus in the temple with the money changers, cracking his whip. It’s like, hey, if Jesus got mad then so can I! I’m good. We all are guilty of placing Jesus in a box, drawing on the piece of His character that we need at the time, but Jesus is much more dynamic than that. 

Jesus had righteous anger, Jesus grieved, and Jesus was love. Often times in our righteous anger we allow our emotions to rule our actions. We become blind in our rage, and we speak words tainted with hate. 

Controlling our anger is one of the toughest things a Christian faces, and it’s hard in a world where sin is commonplace. It’s even harder when speaking passionately about your personal beliefs is perceived as hate speech if it doesn’t conform to the worldly status quo. Although speaking out loud what you believe isn’t being judgmental, that’s exactly how it’s perceived and labeled. We should be angry at that persecution, and strongly frustrated that equality only applies to some. We should be affected to the point that we don’t bury our heads in the sand, but we must remember to harness our anger. 

We cannot allow Satan to pervert our righteous indignation into words of division, words that cut like a sword severing us from the rest of humanity. No one’s life was ever changed by a ranting Facebook update. We must remember that God changes lives; our job is to love unconditionally. Even in our anger. 

2. Despondency. I hate this response. I understand it, but I hate it. The world hasn’t changed overnight. I often imagine our country like a toad being ever so slowly boiled in a pot so that even he is unaware he’s being cooked alive.

In 1973 Roe vs Wade paved the way for legal abortion, and changes have been occurring all around us ever since I was born, I know. But when another big change occurs that challenges our belief system we are thrown into a frenzy. Often times we are catapulted into despair. 

I see the words of others. Our world is going to hell in a hand basket. The end is near. Jesus, come quickly. 

No more that I asked you to forgo anger am I saying you cannot be sad. We are allowed to grieve over the downfall of man. Even Jesus wept. But what happens many times is we allow our grief to plummet into despondency. We lose all joy over God’s hand in existence here on this earth, and we feel despair. We end up succumbing to a spirit of defeat over a world we cannot change, but this is not what God wants for us at all. 

Even in our sadness, grief, and disappointment we must always remember the truth. The Lord still reigns. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, He holds supreme power over all things. 

3. Indifference. It doesn’t affect me, so I’m not worried about it. To each his own. It’s none of my business. Who cares?! Blah, blah, blah. 

I can totally understand this response. This is the easy, comfortable way to react, especially when opinions cause you to lose friendships or hurt other’s feelings. In the difficulties inherent with sharing what you believe to be the Biblical truth versus being branded a judgmental bigot it’s easiest to remain silent. It’s best overall for your feelings and everyone else’s to keep your mouth shut. I. Get. It. 

Tempers flare, stubborn minds stay put, and convicted hearts are the most easily wounded by poorly placed words that are motivated by anger. It’s a challenge to be a Christian who believes the statutes of the Bible to be true. It’s not easy to see each and every sin described in scripture as a real commandment to abstain from for us today. Black and white is hard; gray is easier. I. Get. It. 

I will admit I don’t know everything, and I have many questions I plan to ask God one day. I’m sure many of you feel the same. I can believe what I believe for myself and my family. So I can then decide to be indifferent to what others believe, and even convince myself it doesn’t affect my perfect little family. But there is this one little thing. Everything that is happening around us affects us. If it affects our world, it affects us. We can go down to the basement to hide out all we want as it’s certainly more comfortable that way, and it makes for better interpersonal relationships, but indifference is never the answer. 

1 Timothy 2:1

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people

Prayer is the answer. Actually caring for those outside our circle is the answer. It’s okay to not be indifferent to the lives of someone else. It’s okay to care. That’s what we’re supposed to do. 

4. Hope. In a world that is constantly changing, that is skewing far away from the moral center we hold dear, it’s easy to get angry. It’s easy to get despondent. It’s even easier to become indifferent. But what seems to evade us through all the varying reactions is the most important of all. This central theme is what drives the Christian faith, yet we somehow allow it to slip through our fingers. 

In life, especially in a chaotic, difficult life, we must always hold to our faith. We must always grab ahold ferociously of our hope that God is in control. Even when it’s not easy to see any good come from a situation we must cling to hope that God’s people will rise triumphantly. The battle has already been won, after all. 

We must be hopeful for a revelation of God’s love in hearts across this country. We must be hopeful for His Holy Spirit to transform lives. We must pray in a hopeful spirit for revival, for the people of God to wake up, rise up, and band together in times of turmoil. 

There are many ways we can react to change around us, but there is only one way we must react, and that is with hope for the future. 

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Always. 

Why Your Nurse Keeps Asking About Advanced Directives

I believe most everyone thinks they know why there’s such a thing as advanced directives, but I’m not sure if they truly understand the significance. I’m uncertain if they can comprehend why as nurses and physicians we keep asking the question, “do you have advanced directives or a living will?” I’m sure our line of questioning is annoying at times, and I can also understand it’s probably unwelcome. After all, who wants to think about what should be done in the instance of the unthinkable?

  

I have spent many years in the field of nursing, and in that time I have had the pleasure to care for a vast array of patient populations and diagnoses, but there is one type of patient that I hate to care for. No, it’s not the alcoholic in Delirium Tremens or even the frequent flyer, narcotic abuser. While there are many types of patients that are difficult to care for there is one that especially breaks my heart, and that is the living patient who was ready to die. I’m not talking about suicide either. I’m speaking about chronically ill people who are ready for nature to takes its course, but instead are forced to remain here on earth because they forgot to put their wishes into writing, never let anyone know their wishes, or God forbid, distraught family completely disregards their desires to not prolong the inevitable. 

I’ve seen it too many times, and even recently I’ve seen the torment. A body grotesquely swollen, eyes barely able to remain closed due to the protrusion of their orbital area. A once lovely, regal woman will resemble an alien form of herself. Toes and fingertips purple from diminished blood flow, the bluish color of her digits only rivaled by all the bruising from multiple, repeated pokes and prods by the medical team. Tubes, lines, and wires protruding from every orifice imaginable, and grimaces of pain, despite all the sedatives and narcotics, being the only sign that anyone is even home in there. 

The scene I describe is a common one; it’s critical care. And overall it’s a great thing. It’s a great thing because we’re saving lives, and sometimes you must go through a lot of ugly trauma to find your way out to the other side. But other times it’s beyond just the usual unpleasantness we have become accustomed to. It becomes tragic. A travesty of sorts. 

When a 95 year old man with several, chronic and life-threatening conditions ends up in the hospital with a critical admission related to his progressing disease process it’s always a devastating event, both to family and the medical team. But if this same gentleman has expressed desires to not prolong his life in the event that death is imminent, and his wishes are neglected, it’s a shame. It’s a disgrace to the strong, honorable life he has lived thus far when you take away his dignity and choice to pass from this life on his own terms. 

As the healthcare team we fight to prolong life by all means available to us. That’s what we do. It’s our job, but it’s also our job to fulfill a patient’s wishes. And when a patient cannot speak for themselves due to their condition then that lofty, yet difficult decision falls on the shoulders of emotionally stressed and physically exhausted families. It’s honestly hard to know what to do for someone’s health care choices in the midst of so much chaos. Sadly, sometimes wrong decisions are made by everyone, and you’re left with grandpa hooked up to life support when all he wanted to do was go ahead and join grandma in heaven. 

It’s a sensitive subject, and I completely understand that it’s not one many wish to have a discussion about, but it’s necessary. It’s absolutely necessary. When you have stood at the bedside and seen the futile, honestly ugly efforts to keep a shell of a body going, you would understand. 

If it goes on far enough grandpa eventually dies, but not before spending his final days with a tube down his throat and another up his rectum. Then the question is what it should have been all along? Is this what he really wanted?!

In the end nurses are patient advocates, and in the fulfillment of our duty to do the very best for our patients we will encourage everyone to make educated, compassionate choices. We won’t tell you what to do, but we will offer every available avenue, and hopefully prior to having to make the tough, last minute decisions, we will emphasize the importance of making a health care plan beforehand. 

That’s why we do it. That’s why we always ask about advanced directives. 

We want to save future pain, heartache, and the undue suffering for a human being who only wished to let go. It’s not easy to think about what should be done in the case of physical decline, but the uncomfortable act of obtaining advanced directives is far easier than standing at the bedside and being witness to an agonizing continuation of interventions that were never wanted or deserved. Trust me. 

If you have experienced a family member in this situation then I am sorry, and my heart truly breaks for you. My honest statements of care in these circumstances sound very brutal, but they are only spoken with such raw truthfulness to hopefully save you from having to experience this situation firsthand. 

We don’t ask to be annoying, and certainly not to make our jobs easier. Although it does. No, we ask for the patient. We ask for you. We ask now so as to prevent pain later. 

So, I guess my final question is, do you have advanced directives or a living will?

When Passion Gets Ugly

I have watched in quiet contemplation at the aftershocks of tragedy in South Carolina, and although some of it has been inspiring, other things have been disappointing even to the point of absurdity. One such argument that has spurred in the aftermath of a massacre was the recent issue with the confederate flag favored by a murderer. You all know the story. And while I don’t agree that a flag is responsible or even motivational in the murder of nine innocent lives, I have been honestly flabbergasted by the uproar it’s caused as of late. 

  
I’m not really talking about a flag, per se, or even what this symbol means or doesn’t mean. What’s really surprised me the most has been the appalling reaction of this debate. It’s not only disappointing, it’s despicable. 

So I’ve watched my social media newsfeed explode with collective reaction, and I’ve noticed far too many people who claim to be Christians speaking in a rather un-Christ-like manner. I’ve seen some of the most rambling, raging, unnecessary arguments come from a discussion to retire a flag, and I’m saddened to say that after the monster Dylann Roof was arrested other monsters have taken his place in the form of hateful, vehement social display. 

Apparently kind, Christian folks are saying some pretty awful things, and in their passion and indignation it’s turned really ugly. The list of people with which I’d choose to be stuck on a desert island is quickly dwindling as true characters are coming to light when angers flare, and the church-going Southerners are appearing to be the ones who would stab me for the last piece of bread. 

My observations sound pretty harsh, I’m aware, but rather than judging the heated opinions of others, I’m simply asking as a sister in Christ if you bother to run your strong words and views through a filter of love before you throw them haphazardly for all to see? It’s no wonder the rest of the country laughs at us. Christians who aren’t acting very loving? Hogwash

There’s not a thing wrong with standing up for truth and goodness, just as there’s nothing wrong with treasuring your heritage or respecting history. But when do we need to ask ourselves exactly what it is we’re fighting for, and if the wounded will be worth the battle?

Here’s what I mean. I’ve noticed many good, Christian friends remaining silent on the matter much as I have been doing, but I did have one gentleman have the courage to speak something that rang very truthful to my spirit. 

He said, “If we can’t be strong enough to retire a piece of history that others find offensive, then we’re a weaker people than we think. Strength is shown through compassion for our neighbor. It is highlighted when we do not insist on having our own way. If we truly love our neighbor as ourselves, then we don’t lay down a stumbling block for them to trip on.”

I’ll add to his statement and make my own. Jesus was mocked, beaten, laughed at, and called a liar even though He was truly the Son of God. In His suffering and unjust treatment He still chose to die for mankind. Yet we can’t even lay down a piece of cloth in the name of peace and healing for a Nation. What does that say?

I love my state of Mississippi, and I love our strong values and heritage. I sometimes think this world has gone and gotten over-offended happy on everything. But I also am a sensitive enough soul to try and understand the opinions of others, evaluate if my actions are offensive, and let go of what’s not that huge of a thing in the big picture scheme of it all. 

Sometimes conceding doesn’t mean you’re saying that you are wrong. It doesn’t even mean you’re saying someone else is right. It means you stand up as the bigger person for the greater good of all. It means you stand strong for something after all; it just happens to be that you’re standing strong for unity and healing of a country. Sometimes to stand strong means to lay it all down. Just ask a soldier. 

I’ll tell you what it shouldn’t entail. It shouldn’t mean digging your heels in stubbornly simply to make a point. It doesn’t mean hurling insult at those who disagree with you. It doesn’t mean causing continued and further division when your actions are perceived in a negative light. And it certainly doesn’t mean becoming so fixated on minuscule arguments in the grand scheme of life that you become blinded to the real problems this country faces. Don’t you know the devil is in the business of deception and distraction?

Sometimes I’m honestly amazed that we as a people have come so far when we are so easily led away from the important things God wants to show us. Imagine what we could accomplish if we set aside petty differences and instead focused our eyes on the big picture. 

It comes down to a little thing called love. It’s even better than the Hokey Pokey because love is what it’s truly all about. Without it we are nothing. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

This is something I need to work on, it’s something our country needs to work on, it’s something we all could do better at. What we can’t do is this. We can’t allow the words of passion that we speak to become tainted by things that contradict love, and to become ugly. And when a situation personally offends and angers us the best response is to pray and ask God, “how shall I proceed to honor you and speak your truth into this problem?” 

Yes, let’s try that. 

The Time I Almost Got Lost Up Ahead

  
I recently took my four year old to see the latest and greatest Pixar movie that was out in theaters. We had a lovely time, and although I would love to blame it on hormones that I cried twelve times during the movie, I’m sure I would have anyway. Darn Disney. 

Anyhow, prior to us leaving for the movies, as excitement built in my preschooler, she busied herself with thoughtful contemplation. She began to tell me all about the next movie she wanted to go see at theaters, and I was honestly surprised at her conversation since we hadn’t even gotten in the car to go and see the current one that she anticipated. 

“Don’t get so busy thinking about the next movie you want to see,” I chided, “that you miss the greatness of this one.”

My husband and I have seen a lot of changes since we got married almost six years ago, but we’ve really been affected by new alterations lately. It’s been all good, and although we’re still reeling and adjusting, I can see God’s hand at work. In fact, I can see it so much that I’ve been jumping ahead of the script lately in my thought processes. With a new baby on the way and financial situations shifting positively I’ve been eager for what lies ahead. I’ve been planning career options, house designs, and a number of other dreams in my mental images of our future. 

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dreams, forward goals, or planning for the future, but I must admit my mind has been there a lot lately. I’ve spent much of my prayer time on what I wish to be, and not as much on the other things going on around me. I’ve laid well the plans for my own future with little regard for what God’s doing in the here and now. 

I mean, sometimes tomorrow seems a lot more exciting than today. Tomorrow seems full of endless hope and it lacks things like laundry, a sink full of dishes, or twelve hour shifts. I suppose those things do reside in the future for me, but they aren’t given nearly as much of my thought life. It’s saved for the exciting stuff instead. 

After chastising my daughter for neglecting to enjoy the moment by fixating on what was next I also spoke to my own heart. Wasn’t I guilty of the same? I thought it was highly likely that in my captivated daydreams of things to come I might have forgotten to be thankful for what lay presently at my feet. 

If I was absorbed in what was ahead was I losing myself there and missing out on the right now? The truth was that right now I had the most dreamy life imaginable. My main job was to play with these perfect babies, and while it was often exhausting, it really was amazing. 

Right now I was growing a new life in my belly, and while all I wanted to do was collapse on the couch, I would never have this exact moment again. One day soon I would be holding this child in my arms rather than my womb, and I might regret not savoring more those floppy, flutters in my lower abdomen. 

Presently I listened at the growing vocabulary of my precocious two year old. In the future her grammar would improve, and I would probably miss her using “me” in place of “I.”

Me loves you Momma. 

The laughter, the funny things they said, and them wanting to fight over my lap would one day end. One day I would miss all of us squeezing into a tiny bathtub together, and the simple happiness of washing my little girl’s hair. One day I would have a bigger living room, but I would probably miss the closeness we are forced to enjoy now. 

The here and now would be gone in a day, and I would be unable to reclaim it. Today would become tomorrow, and tomorrow next week. Then next year. And whether I obtained the many dreams or goals I held for the future, one thing was certain; I could never repeat the past. The best I could do was enjoy it as it came. 

There was nothing wrong with my four year old desiring to see the sequel to her favorite movie, and there was nothing wrong with my anticipation of future goals fulfilled. But we just had to be careful not to get lost in what was up ahead. Where we were was far too wonderful not to enjoy. 

Matthew 6:31-34

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I knew too that my future remained in God’s hands, and by taking too much of it upon myself I was forgoing my trust in where He wished to take me. I decided I could simply soak in the now, and I would let Him worry about the later. The now really needed my attention more. 

When a Nurse’s Patient Becomes So Much More

Being a nurse isn’t easy. Aside from the physical stresses of the job, there also lies an emotional component that makes it extremely difficult and taxing on the caretaker’s ability to perform. When faced day in and day out with so much disease, poor outcome, negativity, and ultimately death it becomes necessary for the nurse to place a protective barrier between the patient and herself. It’s not that they wish to develop a hardened heart; you couldn’t do the job without compassion. It’s simply that a professional wall of sorts must be erected to prevent full exposure to the nurse’s tender spirit. If she didn’t do this she would burn out quickly after multiple episodes of collapsing in the hall floor like a useless piece of sobbing jello. 

I have done this. In my professional life I have an invisible shield that protects my heart. It’s like it is semipermeable, allowing empathy to affect my care, and allowing compassionate kindness to connect with patients as real individuals, but it also always whispers in my ear the hard truth. You are the strong nurse. They are the sick patient and struggling family. They need you at your best!

When faced with performing quickly, skillfully, and without mistake to execute lifesaving intervention in a critical care setting it’s pretty much necessary to keep a small divide of emotional connection from patients and family. To prevent a nurse’s eventual, emotional collapse it’s imperative. 

It’s required, kind of like licensure renewal, so imagine my surprise when I let him become more than just a patient. 

 
I noticed right away the lines on his face. They ran deeper than many I had seen, and his white, full head of hair crowned his murky, blue eyes. I knew before I even looked at his chart that he was a very old man, and it seemed like we saw more and more of his demographic as medicine progressed. But more than I noticed how the deep wrinkles on his face defined his age was how they seemed to transform when he laughed into the most perfect joy I had ever seen on a human countenance. His eyes crinkled, the murky blue cataracts seemed to disappear, and all I saw was a happy man content no matter his circumstance. I fell in love with him immediately. 

It happens I suppose. There are certain patients you connect with on a personal level more than others, but this seemed different. I listened to the stories of how he and his perfect little wife met, and I found myself honestly enthralled to hear more. I wasn’t biding my time until I could slip out the door, and it hit me then that I had stopped really enjoying listening to my patient’s personal stories some time ago. I had been missing out, and as I laughed heartily, a real chuckle and not just a forced guffaw to be polite, I wondered if I had done the right thing. 

I was of two minds as I reminisced with my new friends, and I found myself guarded and slightly frightened that I was enjoying their company so much. I quickly excused myself to go and chart, and as I sat at my computer I understood my complex feelings. I hated that I didn’t do this sort of thing more as it was really wonderful, but I also knew why I didn’t. 

My eyes looked at the monitor screen of my advanced age patient, I scanned the new orders for upcoming interventions, and I was afraid. I feared for him, something I tried not to do, but I couldn’t help myself. Over a period of two days I had allowed him to become more than just a patient to me. I had let down my normally ever-present guard, and I had developed a true affection for him. I mean, I love all my patients, even the difficult ones, but I really cared for this old man. And I realized as I sat at my desk that I was overly worried that he would die the next day. Medicine is a wonderful thing, but years of experience had shown me that once you reach a certain age the risks inherent with us fiddling around in your insides increased exponentially. 

I spent the remainder of my shift trying to push my fears away, and even though I wished to remain polite and kind, but safely distant, I just couldn’t. He was sad I wouldn’t return to be his nurse the following day, and with tears in his eyes he said, “I really need you to come hold my hand before I go to surgery tomorrow.” 

Before I left I hugged him tight, and I said, “I love you.” I probably would have whispered it any other time, but he was as hard of hearing as the day was long, so instead I screamed my unique farewell. 

And I left. I clocked out, and I tried to leave him behind like I left them all behind. I had to! Do you know how many times I return and the bed is empty or occupied by someone new, not because of getting better, but because they got worse? There’s no where to go above and beyond critical care except the OR or the morgue, and I left work at work for that very reason. It protected me. It sounds cold I suppose if you’ve never been there, but sometimes calculated indifference is the best thing you can offer for the longevity of your vocation. 

But I couldn’t leave him behind, and I couldn’t forget about him and his darling little Missus I had wanted to bring home. I went to bed with prayers for them on my lips, and I awoke with a strong desire to know how he was doing. I tried to push it away all morning long, using my time to care for my children, but he persisted at the back of my mind. 

I suddenly knew why I was delaying the inquiry. I was worried he would be gone. I was worried my fears would be realized, and I knew that in my attempts to separate myself I had not gone and just held his bony, pale hand like he had asked. I would feel guilt, grief, and I just wasn’t ready for that. 

I pushed it away as long as I could, but by lunch time I found myself calling work and asking for my replacement in his care. Please be okay, I whispered to myself as the on-hold music played, and I realized my left hand was clenched. 

I don’t think words can express how I felt to hear he had pulled through just fine, and as I thanked the other nurse profusely I finally let my fisted hand relax. I started to chastise myself for my worry, and I was still surprised I had let it get to this. I had allowed him to become more than just a patient to me, but I realized then that it was okay. I was glad in fact. 

Whether he had made it or not, whether he lived through the week, or made it ten more years, and even if he died that day, I knew I wouldn’t regret our interaction. It had reminded me why I do what I do, and even though it was emotionally stressful much of the time, it was because of the person behind the hospital gown that I existed as a nurse. 

The person who was the patient, they were why God had placed me in the field to begin with. It was still necessary to separate myself to some degree for my own sanity, but there was also nothing wrong with falling in love with an elderly couple who had broken my normally solid shell. 

The field was full of disease, but it was also full of healing. It was full of bad outcomes, but I also had the opportunity to see some really amazing miracles. It was riddled with negatively, but the positive situations were what really shined the brightest. It was true, there was a lot of death, but there was also life. There were stories of falling in love, gut-busting laughter, and wonderful relationships that reminded us why we became nurses in the first place.  

I Could Do This Without You, But I’m Glad I Don’t Have To

Last night I lay rocking our youngest daughter to sleep, and when I was certain she was out good and hard I started to rise from the recliner. But then I stopped myself. You know how it is. The way her lips puckered out like the most beautiful pout ever, and the way her eyelashes curled all the way to the sky. I just had to take pause. I had to stop and kiss her. I kissed her lips, her forehead, her cheek, and as my grateful lips lingered I thanked the Lord for her life. 

And then I thanked Him for you. 

Gazing at the wonder of this child we had created together made me unable to not think about you. She was ours, and I was so appreciative for that, but I also couldn’t help offering my thanks for you. 

I never knew I could love something as much as I do being a mother. It’s my calling, and the job, although often thankless and exhausting, it fills me with joy. You know this. But what you may not know is how being your wife is the grandest thing I do. The fact that I get to spend my life with you and bring up our children together is the best gig on planet earth. I love raising our children, but it’s even better that I get to raise them with you. 

The thing is, I’m pretty good at it I think. I enjoy it, and I do a decent job even though some days I may think otherwise. I’m a pretty great mom, overall, and I love it enough that I could do it forever. If I had to I think I could even do it without you, just to be quite honest, but I’m so very glad I don’t have to. 

I could dig deep in your absence and provide for our children, but I’m grateful that I’m not in this alone. I’m blessed that I can share this parenting journey with you, my best friend, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for that. I’m glad that I have a partner to share the struggles, the sicknesses, and the tantrums. But I’m especially grateful to share with you the joy of watching our children grow in strength, grace, and personal relationship with Jesus. 

I suppose I could do it all without you, but I’m glad I don’t have to. 

I’m glad I have your wisdom, your strength, and your love. I’m grateful for your compassion, your discipline, and your provision. I’m thankful for a man I can not only share the hardships of life with, but one with which I can celebrate all its joys. 

I never knew I would enjoy being a mommy so much, but I also never knew the blessing it would be to my life to watch you be a father. I don’t wish to imagine raising children without you for you are a big reason I’m the mother I am. You inspire me, you encourage me, and your love it helps me to grow as a nurturer to our family. 

In truth I am the mother I am because of the father I share the job of parenting with, and our children are blessed for our team. I love raising our babies, but the greatest joy of my life is that I get to do it with you. 

Last night when I finally rose from the chair and deposited our youngest down to sleep I looked one last time at her face before going to bed myself, and I thanked the Lord again. I thanked Him for her life, and then I thanked Him for her father. 

Happy Father’s Day, my love. I’m glad I get to do this with you. 

  

Being Blood-Related Doesn’t Make a Man a Dad

I feel very blessed on Father’s Day, and although I probably don’t make time for my Daddy as much as I should, I am fully aware of the special gift I have in him. After losing my Mother, and going through the wide array of emotions I felt trying to celebrate Mother’s Day as a mom but without a mom, I completely understand why a relationship with my living father is a wonderful thing. 

But it’s not just that. While nothing rocks your reality more than someone close to you passing on, I knew before Mom’s death that I had been given something very special in my Dad. After all, he was my second chance. He was my earthly manifestation of God’s grace. He was my own personal display of the Father Heart of God. 

My Dad isn’t my birth father, and while he is so many things to my life, the one thing he is not is a genetic contributor to my conception. But ask me if that matters when I go to buy Father’s Day cards. 

Or rather yet, ask me if blood-typing was of any importance when I needed someone to kiss my scraped knee after I fell as a child. Ask me if DNA held any significance when I had my first broken heart and I needed a strong shoulder to cry on. It mattered not one single bit. 

My biological (I almost hate to use the word) father did not possess the characteristics required to be a dad. He was unable, incapable, and unwilling to provide me the stability, guidance, and relationship that fatherhood entails. Put simply, he wasn’t meant to be a dad. He donated the sperm, but otherwise he felt his contribution to the whole scenario was complete. He didn’t want a relationship with me, and he was too selfish to even attempt one. Aside from any physical or emotional love, he also was unable to provide monetary assistance. Well, he probably could have, but he didn’t.

One of the worst things that ever happened to me was to be abandoned by my biological father, and for him to make the ultimate choice that I wasn’t worth hanging on to. But the best thing that ever happened in my life was when he gave up his parental rights and my Daddy adopted me. I was finally afforded the opportunity to understand the fullness of fatherly love, and that trumped everything!

My little heart had been hardened, broken, crushed, but my Dad taught me how to trust again. 

My biological father and I shared the same blood, but that was where our relationship ended. My Daddy had no genetic connection to me, but he was and is the best example of God’s love I have ever known. He chose me, he fought for me, and he adopted me into his family. He loved me unconditionally like I was his own, and he gave me every single thing I had lacked in my first, failed example of a father/daughter relationship. 

Blood doesn’t make a daddy, and shared genetics doesn’t do it either. A father is a man who makes the conscious choice to raise his child. He makes the decision to be present when they have their first softball game, to listen when they ask the tough questions, or just to hold them when they don’t feel well. A daddy provides for his children, not just financially, but also emotionally. He understands that raising a child is an investment, and that you must put love in to get love out. 

For me Father’s Day is a wondrous celebration. It’s a time when I am reminded that the world gave me a man who couldn’t be a father to me, but the Lord blessed me with a dad. I’m reminded that through the grace of God I was gifted with a man who showed me what a father is supposed to be, who showed me God’s heart here on earth. And for that I am beyond grateful. 

Happy Father’s Day Daddy! You were, are, and will always be the best. 

  

The Most Important Thing About the Shooting in Charleston, South Carolina

I just had a commenter on one of my most recent blogs make the statement that this is “a crazy, mixed-up world in which we live,” and I could only sadly agree. It is. And nothing spells this out more than recent headlines concerning the shooting of nine innocent people at a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. An arrest has been made, and now we have a face to put together with this heinous crime. 

 
It doesn’t help, does it?

One look at this young man’s face and I saw many things. Anger, unhappiness, even evil perhaps. An investigation has been opened, and it’s being categorized as a hate crime. It is highly suspected that the murders were racially motivated, and one look at the emblems on Dylann Roof’s jacket would concur. 

Opinions are abounding as they often do when racial tensions are stroked, and many people will even try to justify why it couldn’t possibly be racially motivated simply because they’re extremely fatigued with a world that persists in being so easily divided when it comes to things like the color of your skin. After so long do we know any other way? I I wish we did, but in the end this isn’t the most important thing we need to be talking about. 

The fact remains that this terrible, multiple murder, or rather massacre, was indeed a hate crime. Hatred and irrational anger led to the acts this man committed, and to put the label of evil on his crime wouldn’t be too harsh in my opinion. What other force could compel such an atrocity? 

Evil. 

When we are faced with evil acts against humanity we are often overcome with feelings of dread and fear. We’ll wring our hands and say, “what is becoming of this world in which we live?” And while that’s a valid question to ask I wonder if it doesn’t sometimes lead us to a spirit of defeat. We become so burdened in our hearts for the atrocious hate crimes around us that we want to run and hide our children. We want to shut the world out. As a mother I’d say that’s a pretty natural response. 

So if we’re not busy being distracted by arguments over whether a white man killed black people simply because they were black, if better gun control is to blame, or forgetting in the whole discussion that in essence brothers and sisters in Christ were slaughtered, then we are going for the other option. And sadly it’s one many of us eventually end up at. We feel like we cannot overcome such a horrible world, and we succumb to the idea that hope is lost for humanity. 

Yes, we pray for the families. And yes, we mourn for the victims. But we also sit back either in a spirit of division with our fellow man, or we put our head under the covers in fear and defeat from an evil world. 

While the specific motivations for this man’s crime are of importance, and they do deserve to come to light, it is not the most important thing. 

The fact that evil exists in our midst is something we all must face, and acknowledgement of this fact is important for our survival and the safety of our families and communities. But it is also not the most important thing. 

Christians are being murdered and persecuted across the globe in devastating numbers, but this persecution is also occurring on American soil. This is the simple truth, but it is also not the most important thing. 

1 John 4:4

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

When evil rears its ugly head we must remember that we do not fight alone, and although this world can be an awful, terrible, scary place, we must not be defeated by our fear of bad men. We cannot allow a spirit of fear and defeat to overtake us, and we cannot be blinded by this same evil that distracts us and divides us as a people. We are more than conquerors. We are children of the King. 

When evil comes out into the open killing innocent people we must stand strongly together and hold true to the fact that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We must mourn, and we must pray, but we must also stand firm as God’s people. 

Evil had a name yesterday, and it had a Facebook page complete with a disturbing profile picture. This evil conducted crimes of hatred against Christian men and women of color. It’s appalling, almost unspeakable. It’s unfair, unjust, and so very sad. My words don’t do the victims or family justice. 

This is indeed a crazy, mixed-up world in which we live, and we fight daily against powers of darkness. But we never fight alone. As long as we have Jesus we have hope for humanity. 

Evil had a name yesterday, and although evil wreaked havoc, evil did not win. It didn’t win. And that is the most important thing. 

I’m Really Worried About My Daughter

This morning I decided to watch the full Today show interview with Rachel Dolezal. I was curious to hear her side of the story after recent allegations against her. If you’re unfamiliar I’ll briefly summarize by saying this former NAACP chapter president was apparently born of two Caucasian parents, but has spent a large part of her adult life under the title of a black woman. Naturally this has angered many people as they feel she lied to the public at large, and some are even calling this biracial-looking woman a racist. 

As I watched the interview it became obvious to me (even if I had not see the very white girl in her teen year photos) that through her evasion of direct questioning and ambiguous answers that this woman wasn’t born African American. She had simply transformed herself to appear that way. 

  
I grew very confused over her continuous use of the word “identified.” Repeatedly she used this word to describe how she had become an apparent black woman. In essence she was not a black woman, but she did identify as one. From what I could gather, and believe me, it was very convoluted, it seemed that the word identify equaled what you wanted to be. Well, if that were the case then I certainly identified as a millionaire. 

I was pretty shaken after watching the video clip. Here was a white woman who identified as a black woman, and she had lived as one for many years. She would in fact still be living as one if her Caucasian parents hadn’t let the cat out of the bag. I looked over at my four year old daughter, and I became very worried for her. I was worried for this world she was living in today. 

You see, for some time now my daughter has exihibited very distinct traits that identify her as other than a little girl. For over a year now I’ve noticed it, and her father has too. It’s not just the barking. She runs around on all fours, and sometimes she even eats her dinner out of a saucer on the floor. Ms. Dolezal said in her interview that at the age of five she began to draw herself as a black girl, and my daughter draws herself as a canine quite often. I see my child, and I am certain she is identifying as a puppy. 

I’m worried because the world is changing. I’ve seen the stories emerging of five year old boys wanting to play with dolls and wear dresses. At such an advanced age their parents are comfortable that they are mature enough to make gender deciding roles, and since they are identifying as a gender other than the one they were born with, then their parents are allowing them to decide. Jimmy is identifying as Julia, so now we all must call him/her Julia. I must now be okay with Jimmy, I mean Julia, using the same restroom as my own daughters who were lucky enough to be born with a vagina already. 

I probably wouldn’t have worried about this fifteen or twenty years ago. I mean, we did live in a world then where if you identified as a big-breasted woman instead of an A cup you could take care of that, but otherwise it was pretty taboo to identify outside of your genetic make-up. But now I am raising children in a world of self-gratification where what you want is what you get. The word empowerment is becoming the Holy Grail of today’s language, and everyone wants to feel the right to be who they want to be without discrimination. Women stepping out of roles traditionally held for females are becoming empowered to be their own dominant self. In fact we’re all so busy reading our self-help books and becoming empowered that we’re taking the real power right out of our creator’s hands. We make the decisions, we make it happen. We’re empowered!

In a world where boys can identify as girls and vice-versa, and Caucasians can identify as African Americans simply because they feel that way, they desire to be that way, and not because they were born that way, then why should it sound so ridiculous or far-fetched that I fear my daughter wanting to be a dog. Who’s to say that a well-meaning teacher won’t suggest to me that we take her to counseling to explore her feelings related to species confusion. Perhaps an educated psychologist will suggest that she needs some freedom to decide what kind of creation she wants to be in this life. Maybe she needs to be empowered to make her own decision about whether she identifies better with Homo sapiens or Canines. 

I certainly don’t think I’m raising her in a world where we hypothesize that a person’s dissatisfaction with themselves may be based on an injured psyche from childhood, or perhaps even the obvious conclusion that we are all empty human beings searching for a Savior to make us feel complete. 

I once knew a man who was a very unhappy individual. At the peak of his discontentment he began searching frantically for how to make himself happy. He quit his job. He moved. He changed his friends. He began to diet, work-out, and cut unhealthy habits from his life. He frequently bought new, stylish clothing. Eventually he even divorced his wife in his search for self-empowerment and the quest to be happy. I often wonder if my ex-husband ever found his joy, but I know if he didn’t finally fill himself with Jesus then he’s likely still searching. 

I could be off my rocker, and according to a world where it’s becoming more and more common to identify beyond what God created you to be, then I guess I am. But in my humble opinion I think we will never be happy with who we are until we’re happy with who God made us to be. I don’t ever think we’ll truly feel empowered until we understand the power really rests in God’s hands. We can read every self-help book available, but until we allow Jesus to help us we will fail over and over again. 

In reality my daughter is no more a dog than I’m an African American, male millionaire, but we do find our true power in our absolute inheritance. We find our joy, peace, and feeling of belonging as princesses under the rule of the One True King. For many people who read this that last comment may sound as silly to them as my worrying that my daughter is identifying as a puppy, but I can tell you this. In my experience no peace compares to that of accepting your status as a child of God, and no feeling of belonging and identification compares to it. And I guess with that in mind you can understand that I’m not really worried at all.