A White Christian Woman’s Take on Ferguson

I remember the first time I realized there was a difference in black people and white people. I was five years old. 

I grew up in Los Angeles, California with my mom, and occasionally my biological father when he found it convenient to be around. My mother was a good woman. She was intelligent, and she was kind. She had been all around the world, and had met all kinds of people, but she never found it in her capabilities to judge someone else. 

She had been the poorest of the poor at one time or another, and she had raised a child on her own without a penny to her name. She’d had insults thrown her way, and had to fight her way out of the gutter. She had tragedies befall her life, and had been victimized by a man of a different skin color than her own. Almost killed in fact. 

She had risen from it all, gotten an education, and after serving her country she worked her tail off to make a descent, upstanding life for her daughter. And during it all she raised a child colorblind. 

There was nothing wrong with my eyesight. What I mean is that she raised me to not see a difference in people who were in essence different from me. I knew that my best friend Tanisha had darker skin than me, but I don’t recall thinking much about it at all. I just knew we had lots of fun together, and I thought her older sister, with long-flowing, black braids, was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. 

I don’t know how she did it, what she said to make me, a pasty white girl with even whiter hair never notice that my best friend was as black as night. I guess it’s more what she didn’t say. In fact she never said a word about how we were different, or how our families were different. 

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But then the world happened. Then I heard the word nigger for the first time. 

My mom’s shift got changed at work, and she couldn’t walk me and Tanisha to school anymore. That next Monday I met up with a girl and her mother who lived in our apartment complex to walk with them to school. When I asked about stopping by Tanisha’s apartment my new friend answered, “She can’t walk with us.”

“Why not?” I asked innocently enough. 

And the little girl’s mom answered, “Cause she’s a nigger.” Then she started walking in the direction of the school like that was all the explanation that was needed. 

I didn’t walk to school with them after that. I told my mother, and appalled she made other arrangements. She tried to perform damage control, and mop up the ugly, racist spill from my brain, but what was done was done. 

I still walked to school with Tanisha, and she remained my very best friend, but from then on I knew we were different. Momma had said the word “black,” but I wondered about the “N” word I had heard. Momma told me to never say that word, but I couldn’t help but wonder why it existed, and often times when I looked at my friend I thought about it. 

The world had infected me even though my mom tried to prevent it. I still loved my friend, but then I knew there were people who didn’t. And I wondered why. 

I would imagine Satan is laughing it up right about now. He’s watching in amusement as God’s people break windows, steal things, and start fires. All in the name of equality. 

He’s laughing at the irony of such a protest, actions that only serve to further divide the human race. 

I watch the news, or I read the stories about what’s going on in Ferguson. I hear the angry slurs, and I watch the infection of injustice trickle out to the surrounding masses. 

I see the news stories sensationalize every last word making certain to point out the major difference in the main players. Black. And. White. 

Instead of seeing a young man killed, we see a young, black man murdered. Instead of seeing a police officer being the one who pulled the trigger, we see a white cop fired the deadly shot. 

People came out of the woodwork like hungry vultures ready to feed on the indignation of others, and spread the seed of discontent. They cultivate the rage with terms like “racism and inequality,” and they point fingers at anyone who is different. 

They are no better than that mother who called my best friend a “nigger.” They point out differences that could otherwise remain unsaid. And once it’s said it cannot be unsaid. Once the lies of division have pierced your ears they cannot be unheard. Innocence is lost, eyes become narrowed, and the little girl inside you questions, “so we’re different?”

I wish I knew the solution. I wish I could take every word away, and undo years upon years, upon years of ugliness, hatred, and racism. I wish I could put Jesus glasses on everyone so that we would only see brothers and sisters rather than color and geographical origination. 

I wish I could convince people that two wrongs don’t make a right; that just because our history together is shaded that doesn’t mean we can’t now live together in the light. I wish strongholds could be broken, past hurts forgiven, and the indecency of it all forgotten. 

I think God is able to break those chains, but we’re just too stubborn to let Him heal us. To let Him help us love one another like He intended. Instead we want to hold grudges and continue a Civil War. 

For some reason we want to be different. We want to see in color, to see the differences in black and white. And even as we know in our hearts it’s completely ridiculous we hold on to the race card, and we throw it every chance we get. We’re all guilty of that. 

We let the world get ahold of us and contaminate us, and it’s so very hard to let that mindset go. We dig in our heels, and we fight. We point fingers, we place blame, and we divide God’s people in the process. I can only imagine how much He grieves. 

And the devil laughs like he has won. 

We have to stop this nonsense. I don’t know the answer, but it seems to me that we all need to go back to kindergarten. Go back to that place where color was just a Crayola box, and that was it. We will never be a strong, united people capable of God’s best as long as we’re letting differences divide us. 

Murder is murder, and wrong is wrong. Doing your job as a law officer is still doing your job. I don’t know if Darren Wilson wrongfully murdered Michael Brown. I don’t know if Mr. Brown instigated the incident with unlawful, violent behavior. And I don’t know if Mr. Wilson overreacted, and killed a young man. I don’t know because I wasn’t there. 

I do know this. Every word I have heard about this case makes certain we know who was black and who was white. It makes certain we know the white man was in a position of authority, and the black man was the one left dead. It makes completely certain we know that! It points out the difference in race, and then it needles consistently until everyone breaks. It picks at past injustices like an infected scab, and it makes people bleed anew. Despicable that we allow ourselves to be puppets in this way. 

A young man is dead. I don’t care if he’s black, purple, or technicolor. His family is grieving nonetheless. Whether the young man is black or white, at the end of the day they will dig a hole six feet deep. The grave transcends race. 

Like I said before, I don’t know the answer. It’s certainly not found here. But maybe it’s a start. Maybe we can all start somewhere. Start back at the beginning and find that place where innocence knew no difference in mankind. That is where you’ll find God, and He can lead us from there.

I’m Sorry, but Your Dog is Just a Dog

If you’ve never read my blog before I’m sure you visited this time because the title of this post got your attention. I’m not surprised. It seems that many people are concerned when someone has something to say about animals. Especially if it’s not placing them on a pedestal.

I see opinions abound across the internet, so I decided to share mine. This is my opinion on the subject.

Animals are just animals. You can call your dog your baby or your child, but at the end of the day your dog is just a dog. It’s fine and dandy that you love your pet, and I do agree that they make great companions. But from what I’m seeing a line needs to be drawn.

I’ve had this on my heart for a while. I see the reactions around me, and I am grieved. I see people become so angry. I mean they rage when they feel like an animal has been treated unjustly. They pull out all the stops, and in the name of animal equality they offer death threats to their fellow man.

What’s so odd about this? I mean aside from the obvious threat of murder to another human being. It’s that animals are not equal. That’s right. They do not deserve to be treated better than humans. I would even venture to say, although it will offend a multitude, that animals don’t even deserve to be treated equally to man. Man rules over the animals.

I’m not suggesting that maltreatment or animal cruelty is something I approve. It’s not. But what I’m seeing is not people trying to prevent the cruel treatment of animals. They’re actually placing animals above or on the same plane as man. You might not be doing this purposely, but you are doing it nonetheless.

Here’s what I mean. I see raging indignation being directed at people over the apparent mistreatment of animals, but at the same time, ironically, the maltreatment of fellow human beings is being largely ignored.

The same person who reports a dog owner for abuse due to what they view as a cruel, inhumane environment in which the dog is kept will likely also never even notice the toddler in the neighboring yard. This child can be dirty, barefoot in the winter, with no adult supervision in sight to keep them from venturing into the road. This child will be ignored in favor of a dog who has food and shelter, but is made to sleep outdoors.

This same crusader of animal rights everywhere won’t bat an eye when that exact child is on the news after having been run over, or worse, beaten to death. They will however be sure to be involved in the vehement Facebook campaign to bring awareness to the euthanizing of a giraffe in a zoo halfway across the world.

I don’t wish to make this an abortion debate, but it deserves being mentioned. Hordes of animal rights activists will campaign for justice against a woman putting a picture on her personal social media page of animals she legally hunted.

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But no one will even notice as thousands upon thousands of innocent babies are murdered in the womb. We have become desensitized to the murder of man, and overly aware of any apparent animal abuse. It might be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

Even if you are of the mindset that life doesn’t begin until birth I bet if I aborted my dog’s pups you would have me burned at the stake. I considered it, by the way, but in the end I nurtured her during the pregnancy, then found good homes for all of her eight children. If I had posted on Facebook that I aborted the fetal dogs I would probably be under some sort of investigation right now.

Why is it any different? Is it because my dog wouldn’t have been given the choice of whether to keep her babies or abort? Ludicrous. Again I’ll remind you of this. Dogs don’t get a choice. Because they’re dogs.

Now, you might want to sit down for this one.

Animals don’t have souls. Not like us anyway. They don’t require redemption, and Jesus didn’t die for their sins. They don’t have conscious thought. They don’t sin, and they don’t have a spiritual soul like human beings have.

If this statement angers you, but you have hamburger in your freezer, you might want to readjust your thinking. God granted permission to eat animals. I don’t think he would condone murder simply for our palate pleasure if otherwise. Do you? (Remember. No soul.)

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Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

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Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

So will your dog go to Heaven? I won’t claim to know the answer to that. I’ll tell you what I told my four year old recently when she asked me if her beloved dog Millie would be in Heaven.

“Baby, I don’t know. I know God loves you, and He knows how much you love your puppy. So I imagine He would let you play with Millie in Heaven since it makes you so happy.”

My main point is not whether dogs have souls and go to Heaven though. My main point is where our energy is being directed. We are increasingly infuriated over the maltreatment of animals. The same animals that God placed under our rule. We should be good stewards of His creations. We should treat them decently. There are many Bible verses that instruct us in this. But we should not put them higher than our fellow man.

If we could funnel all this desired, righteous indignation we have towards seemingly cruel treatment of what is in essence an animal, and instead channel that energy towards helping our human neighbors; just imagine how wonderful this world could be. Instead of solely volunteering at the animal shelter you could feed the homeless in your own town.

Your dog is just a dog. I’m sorry, but it’s true. If given the choice between the life of my child and your dog; I’ll choose my child. If given the choice between a stranger’s child and your dog; I’ll choose a human child I do not know. If my own dog, who I love, bit a neighbor’s child I wouldn’t waste time blaming the kid. I would say goodbye, and the animal would be put down. Because it’s an animal.

I don’t hunt, nor does my husband, but we support our hunting friends. I love animals, and I’ve never treated one cruelly. Heck, I’ve never even pulled the wings off a fly. But I do not hold the life of a soulless animal above the sanctity of human life. Because of that I don’t pour my anger and energy into an imagined crusade for animal rights. Instead I use it towards helping further my fellow man in need. I wish more people would follow suit.

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The One Thing You Don’t Want to Say as a Nurse

“I regret becoming a nurse.”

The words popped out at me right away, and the phrase kept coming back in my mind as I went about my work day. And I wondered, do I?

I have a statistical tool for this blog that shows me mostly nonspecific data concerning things like how many people have read a particular post or what area of the world their view originated from in the first place. It also tells me the particular terms used in a Google search that led to my blog, and that’s where I saw those words that made me grimace. “I regret becoming a nurse.”

Someone had entered that in their search engine. My initial reaction was a wince, but then I thought, yeah, I can see that. After all, been there, thought that. Even if just for a mere moment.

When I first became a nurse I didn’t know the extent to which I would be frustrated, or how I could end up feeling like a complete moron and failure to my field at times. I knew it wouldn’t be all roses, but I never imagined I would find myself visibly shaking after I clocked out following a particularly intense day. 

It seems that many times nurses are viewed as healthcare’s angels. They are given high-esteem right up there with the brave firefighter or the courageous soldier. That brilliant, honorable position in the workforce was what I saw in my pre-nurse days. I saw beautiful paintings of Florence Nightingale, and I thought, Yes. I could do that.

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I had no idea that the expectations often paralleled the vision, that people fully expected a perfect, pristine angel of mercy to deliver their morning meds. 

I will honestly admit that I went into the field naively, and with high aspirations to be an everyday hero like I envisioned when I looked at my own mother heading to the hospital. 

But even in my naivety would I say that I regret becoming a nurse?

It’s true that I was ill-equipped for the reality of a job in healthcare. Nursing school was grueling, and very extensive in the information fed to me in preparation of becoming a RN, but I would imagine I’d still be enrolled in the program if I were to learn everything there was to know about being a nurse. No, if anything I now realize that nursing is a continuous education kind of gig. 

I didn’t know that my patients wouldn’t always hold me in high regards. I knew you couldn’t please everyone, but I never imagined the anger people can throw your way when faced with the fear and stress of an unexpected illness. I understand it, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to be on the receiving end of such bitter emotion. 

I knew I’d work with many different personalities unlike my own, but I wasn’t prepared for the cruel treatment I might receive at times from those in a position above my own. 

I knew it would be a high stress environment sometimes, or at least I think I did. I do know though that I never could have imagined just how stressful it would be to hold such a lofty level of responsibility in regards to the life of another human being. I didn’t anticipate how my heart would flutter or my stomach drop when faced with the very real, very extreme impending failure of a patient’s fragile life force. 

I didn’t realize I could become so emotionally invested in what was in essence a stranger, and I didn’t know that many times I would end the day crying in my driveway over that same stranger who left the earth far too soon. 

There are certain words you never want to hear your nurse say. And there are certain words you never want to say as a nurse. I think the most painful would be the ones I wrote above. To say “I regret becoming a nurse.” 

Many, multifaceted factors make being a nurse difficult. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s stressful, heart-wrenching, and some aspects beyond my control are utterly frustrating. 

But then it’s not. 

Then there are hugs, thank you’s, and lives saved. There are homemade cookies and good conversations. There are those days when you see someone get better, and the patient you thought would die gets wheeled out the door. There are moments when despite the fact that I have poop on my scrubs and blood on my shoes that I feel exactly like the way that Florence Nightingale picture looked. I feel like a hero. I feel like I helped someone, and it feels good. 

Do I regret becoming a nurse? Honestly? Some days I wonder. Some days I question every fiber of my being, but in the end I can say emphatically “no!”

I think we can all recall a time, especially when we were new nurses, where our shift was extremely busy, challenging, and chaotic. You might have thought, Oh God! I made a mistake. I’m not cut out for this! But you came back the next shift. We all did.

I’m reminded of a favorite quote. “I do not regret the things I have done, but those I didn’t do.”

When I became a nurse I was unaware of how difficult the career would be, but I was also unaware of how rewarding it would become. I do not regret the impact the field of nursing has had on my life, but I imagine I would regret if I had never tried. 

In the end nursing is a calling. It’s a field where you feel inexplicably led. I could no more not be a nurse than I could not breathe air. For some the calling might not be present, and regret is inevitable, but for me it isn’t an option. And though on the really tough days a fleeting thought may flicker through my mind, in the end I will never use the word regret. 

** Ok. I have used the words regret and nursing together once before, and that’s the post that Google found. But you might be surprised at what I had to say. See what I mean by clicking here.

Six Seemingly Important Things Your Little Kid Doesn’t Give a Sh*t About

Yesterday we were in a rush to get out the door (or rather I was in a rush), and I was desperately attempting to get ready even as we inched closer and closer to being late. Seeing that I would later encounter a group of my peers at a work-related event my ultimate goal was to look a little less frumpy than was typical for me.

As I pulled on an old reliable, favorite shirt from my closet I grimaced when I realized I must have hung it up dirty. Across the front rested a large stain that resembled dried snot, and while I wasn’t really surprised it still caused me grief.

“Well imagine that?!” I said out loud. “I got a big ole stain on my shirt. Typical!!”

My four year old sat on my bed playing with her iPad, and she chose that moment to look up and proclaim matter-of-fact, “don’t get so frustrated Mom. Just wear another shirt.”

Her calm, thoughtful remark caused me pause, and even though it came from a child who still cried when she couldn’t get her shoes on the right foot, I knew she made a valid point.

While thankfully my child doesn’t know the four letter “S” word yet that was referenced in the title her blasé attitude about the whole affair made me realize if she did that’s probably precisely how she’d describe it. And while I don’t condone kids cussing I had to admit I could learn a thing or two from her take on life.

There are plenty of things I base too much importance upon that in the end don’t mean squat, or certainly not as much as my temper would imply. I could learn a lot from my carefree kiddo, and here’s some examples of just a few things my kid doesn’t give a sh*t about when given the option.

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1. Being on time. Kids don’t care about timelines, schedules, or being late. The smaller ones don’t even get the concept. Tomorrow seems like forever away, and for a mom to say “later” just brings an endless “now mom? Is it later yet?”

While I agree schedules are important and teaching timeliness is a good lesson for the future I am consistently reminded by my children how confining a timeline can be. They teach me to stop and smell the roses, and to take time for what’s important.

They show me that maybe it’s not such a big deal to get to Timmy’s birthday party right at two, and it’s certainly not worth all the yelling I do. Kids learn to rush from watching mom and dad, and sometimes hurrying through life is just a waste. After all will being five minutes late now really affect what college they’re granted admission to when the time comes?

Point being, while timeliness is swell it’s not worth mom losing her top.

2. What they wear. Seriously. Kids don’t care what they have on when they leave the house. I’m the one interested in taking photos of adorable outfits. I’m the one who searches frantically for matching socks and shoes. They’re fine with wearing a pink, fuzzy boot with a brown Mary Jane.

And kids don’t know the difference between Fred’s vs. your local boutique. They don’t care about smocking or name brands. Puppies and princesses, that’s what they like.

Kids learn about name brands from their parents. Maybe they learn about it from their friends, but it starts at home. No kid comes out of the womb crying they’ll only wear Abercrombie jeans or Under Armour shirts.

I grew up proud of my new $19.99 Walmart outfit, and even now if you see me in something fancier it likely came from the thrift store. Kids don’t care so why are moms so worried?

3. How they measure up to societal norms. Overweight, underweight? Gifted, special-education? White, brown, black, yellow, or red? Kids. Don’t. Care.

If you smile and share your toys then a kid likes you. Kids don’t know what society terms as “normal.” They learn this from home.

Some kids are under-developed. Some kids are special or unique. Each child is different, and if my kid is different from what society terms as the norm I sure don’t want them to think they’re less because of something I say or do. All children are a gift. They don’t sweat the ways they’re different from their peers. So why should mom or dad?

4. Socioeconomic status. If I said those words to my kid she’d look at me like I had two heads. Little kids don’t care what mom and dad do for work. They don’t care how that compares with the neighbors.

Money has little value, and while I think it’s great to teach them the purpose of money and what that means as far as obtaining goods, in the end they really don’t care. When I tell my child she can’t have a toy in the store cause mommy can’t afford it she doesn’t fall into a deep depression. She says “okay mom,” and then she’s thrilled with the quarter piece of gum I get her on the way out the door.

Kids don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses. I certainly shouldn’t spend any of my time on it either. It’s an injustice to my children to teach them that’s important. It’s not.

5. What the house looks like. Have you ever wondered why the children don’t pick up their toys when company is coming over? I’ll spare you the suspense. It’s because they don’t care. They don’t care what people think about their mess. They think it’s awesome!

What a lesson I could learn from them. Instead of rushing around and trying to cover up my very real, very messy life I should celebrate it. Every misplaced toy, every dirty dish, and every basket full of laundry represents the very full, very blessed life I live with children. Quite a way to look at it really.

I need to work on this.

6. What other people think. This is it. This is the most important thing. It’s the one that ties this all together, and it simplifies the whole post. I guess I could have just titled it “the one thing,” but six had such a nicer ring to it.

The point is kids don’t give a sh*t about what people think, and I could take a lesson from that. And while I will freely admit that in many circumstances (such as my Christian faith) it does matter what others perceive, in the end we all probably worry far too much about others’ definition of what kind of parent we are based on trivial matters like those five things listed above. We can take a huge lesson to the heart by not placing so much value on the opinion of people outside of our family circle.

In the end if I am doing right by my children, my husband, and the good Lord above then I am doing well, and that’s really what matters most.

It’s easy as a parent to get tunnel vision, to focus on some trivial aspects and mistakenly think they hold more importance than they really do. It’s easy to become frustrated and weighted down by what is in essence not a big deal at all. Not in the grand scheme anyway. There’s so many more important, beautiful things right there at your feet, and sadly those things change. They grow up and move out.

After my four year old said, “don’t get frustrated Mom,” I realized she was on to something. The really big deal stuff was wonderful and deserved nothing but my celebration.

I could get on board with her way of thinking, and I answered quickly, “you’re right baby. You’re right.”

**As an aside I chose the term sht, that is in essence an obscenity, to be included in this post as it truly proves my point how we shouldn’t care so much about what people think. While as a Christian I don’t run around the house or my workplace screaming the word, at times it might have its place. Such as here. If you don’t judge me for saying sht I’ll in turn not judge you for the appearance of your living room when I come over unannounced.

The Day We Ditched the Kids and Nobody Died

My husband and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. As the date swiftly approached I knew that such a milestone was deserving of something special.

A date night, dinner perhaps? I wondered, but I knew that we needed more than just a couple of hours over a nice steak. We needed something beyond that.

It was at this point I realized we needed to spend the night away from home, and more importantly away from our children. And as I toyed with the idea of a night away in my mind I was astonished that we hadn’t done it before.

You see we had never spent the night away from our kids. Not even once since our first daughter’s arrival over four years ago. And I couldn’t for the life of me even tell you why.

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When I became a mother my life changed so drastically. I became the kind of woman I always hoped I could be. Suddenly I felt responsible for another life, and the magnitude of the job at hand shook me from the bottom up. I was a mother.

It changed my husband also, and although he had a child from a previous marriage when he held our daughter I saw his face change, his whole countenance transformed. He was a father.

After minimal discussion concerning an overnight getaway this mom and dad decided it was time. Overdue in fact, and as I sat alone with my husband I realized how I had overlooked my relationship with him. I hadn’t neglected it per say, but I had forgotten we were so much more than our shared parenthood implied.

As we sat together in bed, holding hands in our robes, we watched a movie in absolute silence. The fact that no one interrupted, made noise, or climbed into our laps did not escape me. And as I looked at my very relaxed spouse I realized he was much more than just the father to my children. He was my husband first, and also my very best friend.

Somewhere in the five years since we had said “I do” he had assumed the title of Daddy, and even though that was an appropriate and honorable role the fact remained that he was so much more.

I too was more than Mommy, and even though it was one of the loftiest titles I had ever received the truth was that before I was a mom I was a wife. As I gazed over at my man beside me I realized that was the role that meant the most to me.

I was afraid that somewhere along the way I might have alluded to my spouse that my role of a parent took precedence when in all reality my role as my partner’s best friend still held the top spot on my list of what was important. I could see where it might have appeared otherwise.

After all it was our first night away in over four years. It was our first night where we had let go of the title “mom and dad” for just a little while, and although we were still parents to three beautiful girls, in that moment alone it was like we were just a couple again. We ditched the kids for the day, and you know what? Nobody died. They were just fine in fact.

What did happen was this. I realized I was more than Mom, and my husband realized he was more than Dad. We were as we had always been, husband and wife. Best friends dependent on one another to be even better at the other roles life threw our way. We were a couple deserving of being alone, of being reminded how very special and sacred our time with one another was. It was paramount actually, and I’m a bit bereaved that it took us so long to figure that out.

When we returned to our children it was with a renewed vigor, and as we held hands to pick up our darlings I felt the blooming current of our affections coursing throughout our every action. I smiled in the knowledge that it wouldn’t take five years before we took time apart again. Not. At. All.

5 Pre-Parenthood Conveniences I Didn’t Know I’d Miss

I was recently giving away some free puppies when a young woman became interested in one of the male pups. As we messaged back and forth, and she concluded that she did indeed want to give one a home she suddenly asked, “can you meet me now?”

I was honestly taken aback. Wha-wha-what?! I mean it was eight o’clock at night. It was freezing outside and the kids still needed a bath. The youngest was uber cranky due to no nap, and the oldest had just spilled a container of hot pink, sugar sprinkles all over the floor. Other than wondering where in the heck my child had reconned said sprinkles I thought, does this girl not realize how hard that would be for me?!

I backspaced the hastily typed message I had just entered stating as much, and instead answered a brief “sorry but that won’t be possible.” I looked at her profile picture in the mean time. So young. So sans children. And I remembered what my life had been like before parenthood.

There are a lot of things I miss about being single and childless. Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not complaining. And as any mom will tell you, my life is supremely complete since I had my babies. It’s tough and it’s different, but it’s perfect. I wouldn’t go back in time if I could. I wouldn’t change a thing. But…

That doesn’t mean I don’t miss some of the conveniences I experienced before life with children.

I’m not talking about the obvious stuff. I knew enough to realize that having children would mean no more solitude or quiet time alone. I knew it would likely mean I couldn’t pee alone for years to come.

No, it’s the simple things I miss. The ones I didn’t even think would be an issue.

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1. Leaving the house on a whim. I could totally see the innocence of that girl’s question, and sure, before kids I would have packed up that dog in a snap to meet her. Not so much when you factor in kids.

There’s no longer the convenience of throwing on some shoes, grabbing your coat, and making a midnight run to Taco Bell. Not that they like that restaurant anyway. It’s McDonalds all the way. But that’s an entirely different post all together.

The point is I didn’t realize it would be so flipping hard to get kids out the door, to put them in their seats, or to try and find their shoes, and squeeze their squirming bodies into puffy coats.

And you certainly can’t leave them in the car while you run into the store. I mean you could if you want to risk a kidnapper or a well-meaning, childless citizen with a cell phone camera. Not sure which is worse.

2. Sleeping when I want. So I knew I’d be out of sleep when I had kids. I just didn’t know to what degree. I kind of thought it was just during that newborn phase, and then once you got them in a “sleep routine” you’d be in the clear. Wrong.

I didn’t know I would never be allowed to sleep in again. Ever. I reflect longingly on waking at noon on my day off, or the beauty of a Sunday afternoon nap. Kids nap, just never when you want them to nap. If you’re exhausted they’re ready to run laps.

I guess I just miss the simple action of letting out a yawn and saying “I’m sleepy,” then following that up with going to bed. Now I yawn, say “I’m beat,” and proceed to bathe people, read bedtime stories, rock them, and finally collapse on the couch after loading the dishwasher.

3. Not worrying about food. I probably spend way too much time thinking about, buying, and preparing food. I remember when it was just me I could go months without grocery shopping, and when I finally did it only costs about fifty bucks.

Now I go to the grocery store every other day, and it’s usually fifty dollars a pop. A full trip is an embarrassing amount of money spent. I can’t even think about that right now.

We always need milk, and then really important things like fruit snacks shaped like princesses and microwaveable macaroni.

My thoughts are consumed by food. Did they eat enough today? What I fed them, was it healthy? Do I give them too much sugar? Too much junk? Not enough fruit and vegetables? How can a child eat so much macaroni? I wonder if that story about what’s in chicken nuggets is true?

Sometimes I miss surviving on soup and peanut butter crackers.

4. Saying whatever I want. I miss that. Seriously. I don’t have a potty mouth, but I was once a sailor, and I honestly did probably cuss like one. No more. And it’s not that I miss the unladylike cussing. I just miss not worrying if I did.

Now if I burn myself on the stove and drop a tiny word bomb I’m all concerned my toddler will decide that’s her favorite new word and repeat it all day. Because she will. Sigh.

And it’s not just bad words. It’s any words. I find myself consistently vigilant on what I say or how I say it. Does that hurt her feelings? Will that comment affect her negatively in the future? Will it ruin her self-esteem? Does that statement build her up and instill confidence? Will it build a strong character? Am I teaching life lessons along the way?

I honestly love the fact that I have the opportunity to foster and cultivate a strong, confident member of the future generation, but it’s also kind of scary. What a huge responsibility, and God forbid I mess it up. Yikes.

Sometimes I just miss only having to worry about screwing my own life up. Now I’m responsible for others too.

5. Being carefree and careless about myself. So while we’re on the subject of raising up the next generation… It’s not just their lives I worry about, but also my own. I’m responsible for them, and it all starts with me.

Before kids I didn’t have to wear my seatbelt. I did, but not because I worried about my babies being orphaned. I smoked. A lot. I didn’t have to worry about my children seeing me suffer with emphysema. But now I do. So I don’t.

I am more careful because I have a duty to the young people in my charge. They need me, and they need me healthy and on top of my game.

Every decision I make for myself is made with their best interests in mind also. I didn’t know it would be like that. I don’t guess you can know until you experience the gift of being responsible for little lives. It changes everything.

Sometimes I miss speeding and other risk-taking behavior, but honestly, not as much as I thought I would.

And I guess it’s because no matter what inconveniences parenthood brings along it also carries with it an abundant joy and fulfillment. Sleep deprivation seems less burdensome when morning cuddles arrive, and the peace of feeling like you’re doing a descent job makes all the struggle worthwhile. When your child says “I love you Momma” all the other stuff seems to fade away.

Then you realize it’s time to plan a trip to the grocery store when all you want to do is take a power nap.

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To the Son Who Made My Patient a No Code

I see many things in my career as a critical care nurse, some frightening, and some fantastical. I see moments of triumph, and conversely I sometimes see instances that make me want to scream in frustration. But occasionally I see true strength and courage exemplified in the face of difficult decisions, and it’s these moments that rock me to the core.

Sometimes the really painful calls made by a caring family member allow the patient to become pain-free. It clothes them in dignity as they pass beyond the walls of my hospital, and enter their forever home.

To the son of my dying patient I say, “thank you. You did good.”

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Looking back the sound might have been deafening to anyone else, but the steady alarm had been going off long enough that those of us at the bedside had become comfortable with its high frequency call of urgency. Or as comfortable as you can be in a life or death situation.

The frantic yet fluid motion of life-sustaining interventions filled the room as fully as the sound of the monitor’s distressing cry. The normally large room felt very small then as commanding voices offered instruction for the team.

“Charge to 200 joules!!”

“Clear!!”

And her body jumped off the bed.

More medications were pushed, and more shocks were delivered, all in the concerted effort to get her heart back to a rhythm compatible with life.

The team conferred amongst one another searching for ideas for the next logical step to continue the course, to continue the fight.

“We should secure the airway!”

And that’s when I saw you. I looked over my shoulder, and I saw the anguish on your face immediately.

“Momma!” You cried. Then tears poured down your face.

She had a heartbeat, and it was regular for now. So we encouraged you to be at her side for the moment while we could.

“Hey Momma, I’m so proud of you.”

Your voice broke as you spoke, and I felt my throat try to close. I wanted to cry too, and I felt the tears well-up and threaten to spill.

No, not yet. I told myself though, and I willed myself to hold my emotions in as there was still serious work to do. I knew she wouldn’t stay in a regular heart rhythm long, and I could tell you knew it too.

I winced as she told you it hurt, and I recalled all the shocks and beating on her chest she had endured, and not just the one day either. This had been going on, repeated code blues and tubes down the throat for over a week.

“Don’t worry Momma. I won’t let them hurt you anymore.”

I watched you watch her while I hung more IV medication, and she smiled; then she closed her eyes. Exhausted from fighting. I watched your tears and your determination to do right by her.

Well, you did good.

When the doctor came back in after talking to you in the hall he told us the next step. “No intubation. No shocks.” I know it wasn’t easy for you to make those tough decisions, but I’m glad that you did. And I believe your Momma was too.

I knew the whole picture, the very stark physical obstacles we were fighting against, but we would continue to fight as long as you both wanted. Until it wasn’t time to fight anymore.

You did good, and you did the right thing. You know your Momma better than we ever could hope to know her, and when she was ready to let go and go home you allowed her that right.

I know that when you said goodbye it was hard. I’ve been there, and so many of those of us working at her bedside have made the same decision you made. Don’t doubt yourself, but simply celebrate the beautiful life your mother lived. Remember that she left this world with dignity. She was just tired, and she needed to finally rest.

She did good right up till the end, and so did you.

What Are You Doing to Me God?!

Sometimes you might just find yourself in a situation beyond your control. You might feel trapped, or you may wonder what is my next step? Cause I sure can’t see it Lord!

What a frustrating time when you’re waiting and confused.

This morning as I showered I prayed. I felt myself being influenced by anxiety and uncertainty. I realized that despite all the many good things about my life I was focusing on the bothersome areas where I’m often discontent. I felt disheartened, burdened, and down, down, down. I felt stuck.

At that moment my mind was filled with visions of the ocean. The beach is my absolute favorite place, and it felt comforting to picture such a lovely scene in the midst of my mental turmoil.

“Turn around.” God whispered to me.

I stood at the ocean’s edge, and as I turned I was confronted with a vast expanse of beach. I could see my footprints along the water’s edge. They trailed off into the distance as far as my eyes could see.

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Then He quietly asked, “Do you see? Do you see how far you’ve come?”

Retrospect is an amazing vantage point, and it seems that only when I have progressed a great distance am I able to turn around and see that yes, I have come a long way. God has carried me a great distance, and somehow changed me in the process.

I looked down somewhat ashamed as I began to understand what my God was saying to me. With my eyes downcast I absently kicked the sand.

“Look at the sand.” He whispered gently. “See how white, how pure and polished? It’s beautiful.”

I understood. I knew the sand I raked between my toes didn’t start out so bright and brilliant. It was once dull and dirty rock. Years upon years of beating waves had broken it into tiny pieces, polished it, and given it that lovely hue I now observed.

I smiled then. I couldn’t help myself. Despite the crashing waves of circumstances before me I knew God was refining me also. I knew He was making me better, more brilliant, more resilient.

I looked back along the expanse of oceanfront once again. Look how far I’ve come.

I turned back around, and I began to walk forward once again. I knew that as long as I walked forward in His will that He would take me the distance. I wouldn’t walk alone, and I would be surprised how far I could go. As long as I was where He wanted me I knew I could keep walking.

The Things I Didn’t Know About My Husband When We First Got Married

I can still remember the day my husband proposed. It’s been a little over five years ago, but the day still seems crystal clear in the recollections of my now scattered mind. After all five years isn’t a huge amount of time, but when it’s held beside how much our lives have changed it seems like a lifetime ago.

At the time I knew two things right away. One, I knew I loved that man who was down on one knee before me, and two, I was thinking it was about time he bought a ring and popped the question. We sure weren’t getting any younger!

As time wound down towards the day, and even as we stood at the altar exchanging our vows I was certain of one thing. I loved him. That I knew.

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As the past five years have sped by I now realize that’s about the only thing I did know for certain. It would turn out, as we became closer and more open to one another, that there was more to him than met the eye, more that I didn’t know. So much more.

I never knew the secrets that were harbored inside that kneeling man’s mind. I didn’t realize there were so many hidden things I did not know about him. I would be almost knocked flat by the revelation of it all.

I don’t think I realized that my love for another could make them open their life to me like a book, and more importantly that I too would lay out my own with a sweet surrender of affection.

I did not know that love could break down walls, abolish shame, or make you desire to share even your ugliest of secrets with the faithful one at your side. I didn’t know love really could conquer all, even the really yucky stuff no one talks about.

When I said “I do” I didn’t realize I would become a mother so quickly thereafter. I didn’t foresee the way my body would change so drastically, or how my mood would swing out of control so dramatically.

I didn’t know the next several years would be so full of sleep deprivation, self-depreciation, or so many sometimes frantic tears.

I had no idea I would question myself so repeatedly, or doubt my abilities so stringently. How could I have known?

When I stood with my hand in his, and the preacher presented us as husband and wife to the world I had no idea that the man to my left would become my world. I didn’t realize that even as I felt like my own little world was spinning out of control that his compassion and his strength would ground me, or that his unconditional love would anchor me so steadily.

I didn’t know that even at my absolute worst he would see my best. After long nights with little sleep, and long days with little, personal upkeep that he would say, “you’re beautiful. I missed you.”

I never realized that my darkest, dirtiest secrets would be of little concern to one who loved me no matter what. My faults would matter not, and my mistakes would be forgiven. How could I have known?

When we spent our first night together as husband and wife I am certain that I never knew that the passion we experienced would not only last, but that it would grow. Exponentially. It would blossom under the care of unconditional love. I probably hoped this would be so, but I never imagined it could be.

As we started our married life together five years ago I never realized I would be this happy. I knew there would be good times, but I didn’t realize that they would somehow always overshadow the bad. I knew problems would come, and they did. And still do. But I did not realize that the struggles, uncertainties, or difficulties would seem inconsequential when compared to the commitment of an undying love.

I had no clue that even in the face of hardships I could count it all as blessings. A blessing because I was not alone. My husband was by my side. Somehow you can still smile despite strife when you’re happy with the hand that holds you. I didn’t know that before.

There were so many things I did not know when I first married my husband. I just knew I loved him. And I love him still. I just didn’t know I’d love him even more with each passing day.

Happy Anniversary my love. I look forward to many more years of learning things I did not know.

Even When I’m Mad at You

“What’s wrong baby?” I asked.

My husband seemed sullen, so quiet and expressionless. I was certain there was something on his mind. Something bothering him.

“Nothing.” He replied curtly as he walked into the other room.

Really?! I thought as he walked away. It didn’t escape me for a moment that he wasn’t making eye contact, or that he was busying himself with mundane tasks as he left my immediate presence.

And so it began. The nothing fight. We don’t fight much, and honestly seldom argue, but if we find ourselves in a disagreement it’s usually in this standard format.

Five years! I thought. And my temper began to flair. On the inside where it could stew. Five years we’ve been married, and he still thinks I can’t read him like a book!

After many years together I felt like I knew when something was on my spouse’s mind, and the certainty that right this very moment something was bothering him seemed crystal clear to me. The fact that he wasn’t spilling it infuriated me. I have no idea why. But it did.

We’re supposed to talk through things! I told myself, and I wondered why he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain.

What had I said, or done? I wondered.

As he came back into the room carrying his shoes I asked again, “Is something wrong?”

He looked up from pulling on a boot, and I didn’t miss the tedious, annoyed expression. “Nope.”

Nope. I had gotten the dreaded, short “nope.” Sigh. Why wasn’t he telling me?!

Immediately I began searching my brain for what I must have done to accidentally piss him off. I pondered, but came up short.

Why was he being so quiet? I wondered, and I felt anger building within me. I was mad. Although I couldn’t tell you why any more than I could tell you why he wasn’t talking.

I went into the other room.

In his absence my fury grew, and it was cultivated by rogue thoughts that began to emerge within my brain. For some reason his silence made me recall how he never picked up his dirty clothes, and I suddenly found myself fuming over inconsequential instances that I typically let slide.

I am the only person around here who knows how to pick-up after myself apparently! I only voiced this complaint to myself for even in my irrational anger I understood my feelings were misplaced.

Instead I walked back into the room where he sat. His shoes were on, and he was peering down at his phone. He’s playing a game! I raged internally. Doesn’t he know I’m mad?

I loudly rearranged dirty dishes on the table so he could feel my wrath.

But he sat silently playing with his phone. Fine! I won’t say anything either! I’ll see how he likes it.

And so began the silent treatment. A showdown that men will always win. No matter the outcome. Although in all fairness, I’m pretty sure he was unaware of the stakes.

We drove to town in silence, other than the sound of children talking loudly, and the blaring cartoon with which they competed. I looked out the window begrudgingly, my sunglasses disguising the evil glare I gave the birds. They chirped happily like nothing was amiss.

When we pulled up to the teller at the bank window my husband smiled and pleasantly said hello to her. I stewed silently at his side. I looked down at his strong hands as he signed the deposit slip, and despite my anger I smiled. It hit me then.

I felt the urge to touch his hand, to place my fingers through his. And as I looked at him I realized something, and to myself I spoke. Even when I’m mad at you I love you.

I reached out quickly, and even though a tiny, vain part of me felt like I was conceding I could not help but place my hand on top of his. Immediately his other hand covered mine. It patted, and then stroked my fingers before giving them an affectionate squeeze.

I thought it again. Even when I’m mad at you I love you. And I smiled despite myself.

I knew that was what made us work. Even when anger reared its ugly head, love overshadowed all else. Forgiveness won out over hurt feelings. Especially the imagined kind.

It didn’t matter who was right, or even who was wrong. It didn’t matter what was unsaid, or even if there had ever been anything to say. Communication was key, but sometimes there’s nothing to say, or words don’t come easy. That’s when grace prevails.

Grace covers where we all fall short, and unconditional love picks up the slack. It shows you what’s before you, that God-given gift you have in your spouse, and it clears the clouded judgement of anger from your eyes.

Sometimes an argument is valid, and sometimes the anger is justified. Other times maybe not. Regardless, the important part is always the reaction.

Even when I’m mad at you… I love you. Even when I’m angry, I love you still.

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