I’m a Cussing Christian

I suppose it all started when I served in the Navy, and somewhere along the way I married a serial curser. Like seriously, I’m certain that my ex-husband learned the F-bomb while he was in the womb. But I hate to blame anyone else for my own speech patterns. It just seems that it was easier to drop cuss words frequently when most of the people I worked with, hung out with, or lived with did the same. 

I was a frequent curse word user, and they were commonly proclaimed in my descriptions of everyday life. Did you see the size of that f@&%ing bug, dude? It was huge? I didn’t even notice when I used them to tell you the truth. 

I guess words are just words. That’s certainly what I thought at the time, and though I thought I might recall Bible verses about foul language, I’m sure I swept those aside with all the others I chose to ignore. I mean, it didn’t really mean not to cuss, right? As the years passed I found myself drawn back to God, and as my relationship with the Lord grew so did my convictions over certain areas of my life. 

When I became reborn I decided to slow down on the cussing, and when I had my first child I especially put those words away. I certainly didn’t need a toddler running around saying d@&n, or going to church and hollering out s%@t. As time went by further and further I developed my very own opinion about cursing, and it’s kind of like my thoughts on alcohol consumption. 

The thing is I can’t say categorically what’s right and what’s wrong on certain subjects. That’s not really my place. But I can say what’s right and wrong for me. Somewhere along the way if you listen real close God whispers the answers to you. When it comes to drinking alcohol it may be fine and dandy for someone else, but since I tend to want to overindulge it seems that for me, personally, drinking is a sin. So I abstain. 

I’ve decided recently that cussing is the same way, and here’s why. When I decided to have those words no longer be a part of my vocabulary, (honestly, mostly because they’re not typically associated with Christianity), I figured that would be the end of it. I’d just stop, right? Well, it seems that I ending up reserving them for certain circumstances. When I dropped something. Bam! When I got angry in traffic. Yep! Basically, when anything didn’t go my way it seems that cuss words were my go-to descriptive words to display the ferocity of my anger. I’m telling you, nothing says I’m enraged like screaming the ‘F’ word. So in essence, when I raged, I cussed. 

  
As I began to notice my choice of when to use these words that I had decided to forbid for myself I realized what they were signifying in my life. While they may have been simply words, for me they represented a me that lost control. They painted a picture of an angry woman who couldn’t control the things coming out of her mouth. They had become a sin in my life. I realized I was a cussing Christian, and I didn’t like it at all. 

But they’re just words! I told myself, and perhaps to some people they can be just that. Yet for me they were a reminder of a person I no longer wished to be. Like I said before, I think God reveals layer by layer what parts of self can be thrown out, and I decided then and there, standing in my kitchen on the border of recovering rage, that I would stop cussing once and for all. 

Yes. I would stop. 

Then my eldest daughter dumped an entire container of onion powder on the meat she was helping me cook for dinner, and I slipped in a pile of pee on the kitchen floor. 

Words! I wanted to say words. Ugly words, words that exemplified my frustration! My fragile, erratic hormones begged and pleaded with me to just let at least one obscenity fly!!

I can’t do this, Lord. I’m already failing. Why do I fall down over and over again?!

It was later that night, not right then, mind you, but later as I sat silently rocking my youngest daughter to sleep that I had a bit of a revelation. I realized that I had been a cussing Christian so long that I was sure it would be near impossible for me to break this habit. I did it before I could even catch myself, and my own failure and weakness at something that should be so easy to stop was very discouraging to say the least. I knew I couldn’t change in my own strength and power. My only option was to give it to God. 

Take it from me, Lord. Take away this habit I am ready to be rid of. 

Immediately I felt a peace and relief wash over me. It may seem like a small, silly thing to some, but like I said, it was something God had brought to me, for me, and I felt eager to change.

I paraphrase. I don’t claim to have obtained it yet, but one thing I do. I don’t look behind me at where I was once, getting mired down by my past, but I look ahead, eager to continue on the path of improvement that Christ leads me. Each person’s path is a little different, but thankfully the Lord communicates directions along the way. I’ll keep pressing on. 

I’m a cussing Christian, but I can change. I have been through divorce in the past, but that doesn’t mean God won’t bless my current marriage that I seek to honor Him with now. I have fallen so many times, in so many ways, but with the Lord’s help I stand back up, I press forward, repenting of my sins, and I am changed. 

Something for the Disappointed Christian

Growing up in the church I heard things like, “ask and you shall receive; knock and the door will be opened.” Well, that sounded good. As I read the scriptures and saw these very promises displayed before me I’ll admit that I felt pretty excited for a Father who would “give me the desires of my heart.”

I read a couple of other things about “His will,” and heard people repeat phrases like, “it’s gotta be God’s timing,” and while I understood that, I suppose, I’ll also admit that I liked the first part much better. I mean, “plans to prosper me” sounded really good. 

For anyone who has spent any length of time truly involved in a relationship with the Lord, they will see His goodness played out in their life. They will witness their life improve as they follow Him more closely. Some will even see amazing miracles of healing, and if you’re really in tune with God you’ll see Him in the tiniest of circumstances, such as waking prematurely when you forgot to set your alarm. 

For anyone who has spent any length of time truly involved in a relationship with the Lord, they will also be witness to prayers unanswered. When you love Jesus you don’t want that to be true, but it is. You want Him to bestow what you ask because you’re asking in faith, and with a heart that loves Him. Even though you don’t want it to be, it’s honestly disappointing. 

My heart currently holds a prayer that I’ve been praying for three years. Three years! I’ve been all the way around my spirit in this petition. I’ve asked, is it your will Lord? Take the desire from me if its not! The desire remains, I continue to pray, and I wait. I wait with the thought, if I can’t have this I still love you. I still trust you. That’s a hard thing to mean for real!

I can think of past prayerful petitions. I can recall praying for a particular job for my spouse, beseeching the Lord that it would be his! But He did not answer. Now years later my husband has a better job, far better than my limited mind could have imagined. 

I remember prayers to marry the man of my dreams. I found him, and I wanted him to be mine. But God did not answer. He didn’t answer until a decade later, and then my dream man did become my spouse. 

You can know the goodness of God. You can understood the truth of His knowledge that surpasses our finite minds. You can even submit to the whole business of God’s will, and maybe even His perfect timing, but that doesn’t make it suddenly not disappointing. When prayers go unanswered it still stings. Why God? I don’t mean to question you, but it hurts. Why must I hurt when I love you so?

 

Notice the words, “all your heart,” and the commandment to “lean not on your own understanding.”

 

Love means trust, and trust can’t be halfway. It falls apart if it is. Does disappointment still hurt? Yes. But somehow faith takes away the deep ache. It replaces it with hope. A hope that He will make our paths straight even if our ideas aren’t His ideas. Especially then. 

Hope is believing the one who loves you has your best interest at heart, whether you can understand or not. Hope knows a future is in store for you to bless you, not cause you harm. Hope transcends our timeline, and it offers peace even when we cannot see a way. 

My three year prayer remains in my heart, but I am also beginning to see the groundwork for its answer to come. Maybe there is something to that whole “God’s timing” thing. But still, I am good no matter what the outcome. I know that a Father who loves me knows best, and I’ll trust in that. 

So will I be upset if it doesn’t pan out? Honestly? Yes. But I will still love Him, and He will love me. That never changes. I continue to pray, I continue to listen, and I continue to trust. Even when I’m disappointed. 

I Can’t Fix My Husband

He came dragging in late again, and I watched closely as he set down his bag and slipped off his shoes. He looked so tired, and my heart went out to him. I crossed the room and silently wrapped my arms around him tightly, holding the embrace a little longer than usual. Finally I whispered, “welcome home.”

He had been coming home late a lot recently. Work was busy, which in essence was a good thing considering his role in the business, but I felt bad for him nonetheless. His new responsibilities brought with them a great deal of pressure, and I could read it in the lines on his forehead and the circles under his eyes, as if stress itself had etched it there. 

My wife heart wrung its hands helplessly, and I opened my mouth, but no words came out. I grappled for communication that would convey what my heart wanted to say. I’m proud of you. Your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Finally I spoke with compassionate concern, “how was your day?”

His reply was much the same as the late night before. “Busy. Long. Good.”

The words coming from his mouth said “good,” and I knew that was true, but unspoken they also conveyed, I’m exhausted. And once again my wife heart sympathized for him. I wanted to reach out and take some of the burden from his cup, even if just for a moment. 

Have you ever loved someone so much that you wanted to take their struggle away, that you desired to make it somehow better? To fix it?

  
He had a hot, home-cooked meal waiting on the stove. The house was clean, the children were too. I loved him, and he knew it. He knew too of the pride I held for him. I told him often. Basically I was doing all I knew I could do. I was offering support, a listening ear, and plenty of affection. Yet I wanted to do more. I needed to do more.

I wanted to fix it. I wanted to take the hard away and replace it with only good times and laughter, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t fix my husband, I couldn’t save him, and I couldn’t take away the difficulties from his life. I couldn’t do any of these things any more than I could have changed him years ago when we first got married. 

I had desired to at the time, to change him, and though, thankfully, he was so very different now than he had been then, I knew his transformation had nothing to do with a dutiful wife. Sure, the faithful prayers had helped I suppose, but in the end I hadn’t fixed him then either. But God had. 

This morning as I prayed again for my husband as he slept, I reflected on how the Lord had changed his life. Our lives. He alone had brought things to the blessed station where they now stood, and His faithfulness was unchanging. 

Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

I cannot fix my husband. I cannot make his work less exhausting or somehow shorten the day. I cannot take away the stress he feels to provide for his family, and I cannot take his burden and make it my own. But I can love him, support him, and pray for him. I can trust God to give him the strength he needs, and to guide him daily. I can trust God with his life, and listen attentively for what I may do to assist in the matter. I can be his helpmate, my most favorite calling, but some things are outside of my control. 

Some things I just can’t fix. So instead I simply trust the one who can. 

What I Tend to Forget About Nursing

I was working night shift when she came in through the ER, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know she wasn’t doing well. I mean, you can’t breathe like a fish thrown up on the dock and be considered to be doing just fine. And as I watched this frail, elderly woman do just that, sucking hungrily with infrequent gasps for the life-giving air her lungs so eagerly desired I knew I was in for a night. 

Two things happen when a patient can’t breathe. You either fight tooth and nail to create a way for them to exchange air, or two, they die. It’s really that simple, but the pathway to the eventual outcome differs with each person in distress that you encounter. 

On this night it just so happened that my patient would die, but the difference from so many other scenarios I had seen before, the ones where we pushed frantically on someone’s chest, cracking ribs and shaking their lifeless body almost barbarically, was that this lady would die on her own terms. She would exit this world comfortably without a young woman like myself poking, proding, or shocking her. 

It was my first year as a nurse, and this woman was my first patient who became a DNR once it was determined they were dying. She was the first patient I ever had who I would let go rather than fight to keep around, and at first I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I came into the room performing my every two hour, full body assessment, as if I could even do anything with the findings I acquired. I mean, I had to do something. 

But somewhere along the way, as I kept busy with the auscultation of continuously diminishing breath sounds, I struck up quite the conversation with my unresponsive patient. I spoke to her like she could hear me, and I touched her softly as if she felt each gentle caress. I spoke quietly with her daughter at the bedside, and I learned a lot about the legacy this woman would leave behind. 

By the end of the night I knew her favorite hobby, crocheting, and I knew each grandchild’s name. Even one that was growing in utero while she breathed less and less, and less. Other than lots of conversation and hand holding, though, I didn’t think I did much. She lived through my shift, suprisingly, and I left feeling like I wished I could have done more. 

That feeling made it all the more peculiar when the patient’s daughter returned to our unit a couple of weeks later. She brought with her a prayer card from the funeral, a long letter about my performance, and also the last blanket her mother had crocheted. The letter went to my manager, but the blanket was for me. It seemed I had made quite the impression. 

That happened eleven years ago, but I still think of it often. The memory rests in a special place where I hold certain interactions with patients and their families over the years. I thought I had done nothing special at all.   The thing is in the field of nursing there are many demands. That coupled with the frustrations of the field and the negative occurrences you encounter can easily bring even the most zealous nurse down. 

Sometimes in my busyness I forget how special my time is considered to those under my care. 

Sometimes in my frustration and stress I forget how frustrating and stressful being sick can be, and I forget that I can help lessen that to a large degree. 

Sometimes while carrying out my repeated routines I forget that in the eye of my patient I’m really doing something special. I forget that being a nurse is really special. 

Sometimes in my fatigue and weariness of completing the multiple tasks at hand I forget how important the tasks I’m performing are to those in the bed. 

And especially sometimes I forget the amazing opportunity I have available to me. I forget that for someone out there I may be the kind word they need most, the soft touch they’re missing, the encouragement they’re lacking, or the warm laughter they long for during such a dismal time. 

It’s easy to become caught up in the chaos, burned out, frustrated, grieved, and simply oblivious to the true gift that nurses hold in their hands every day. The fact is that nurses hold the key to healing, the answer to wellness, and the ability to comfort when they can’t be the former things. Nurses are the hands and feet of medicine, and they are the cornerstone of healthcare. God uses nurses to be His comforting touch. 

When I think that I’m on the verge of forgetting the gift I have been bestowed to mean so much to so many I go back to my secret place of fond, patient memories. In this place even the instances where I was certain I had done little, somehow I was shown I had done more than I knew. What a wonderful opportunity nurses hold, to be able to touch lives even when they think they are not. 

It’s easy to forget that sometimes. 

It’s easy to get lost in long hours, demanding workloads, ever-changing policies, and patient complaints. It’s easy to forget the role we hold, the proud profession we embody each and every day. Even on the bad days. 

But the fact remains that to someone in your care you make the difference. You are the bright light at the end of the tunnel that calls them through their illness, whether that’s back to health, or even to an afterlife beyond the four walls of the hospital room. To someone you have done a very good job, and that’s worth remembering always. 

Five Ugly Breastfeeding Truths

I’m reaching towards the end of my first trimester in pregnancy, and this past weekend I noticed for the first time that tingling feeling starting in my breasts. It was a feeling similar to your foot that’s fallen asleep after it begins to wake up with the pinprick feelings of returning blood supply. It was also a feeling I was familiar with, and I knew it signified the beginning of another breastfeeding journey. 

The thought filled me with joy and excitement for I knew what lay ahead. I knew the contentment I would enjoy by feeding another baby from my body, but I also remembered the challenges that would be in store. 

While breastfeeding is a wondrous thing it is also a challenge, and the first time around it’s actually exasperatedly exhausting and stressful. I read a lot of books before hand, but I don’t think any acquired amount of book knowledge can prepare you for the difficult road ahead. 

Here’s five ugly truths I learned the hard way. 

1. You’ll have no idea what you’re doing! Despite all the books, videos, and conversations with other experts in lactation when it came time to actually breastfeed I was like, so what do I do again?! Immediately following her birth I remember my newborn latched on immediately. I thought, I’m made for this. I got this thing licked! But then I was bombarded with the reality of not knowing a thing. 

The next time I saw my baby, after some time in the nursery, I brought her to my breast, albeit awkwardly, and she squinted at my nipple like it was a foreign object. I clumsily changed positions, holds, and breasts trying to make it easier for us. I looked back at diagrams in the books, I manipulated my nipple painfully into her tiny mouth, undressing her to try and make her wake up and eat! She slept, my breasts became enormously engorged, and I worried, what am I doing wrong?!

2. You’ll do it all the time! In our quest to conquer breastfeeding my newborn and I adopted the old adage of practice makes perfect. We practiced all right. The first two weeks I was glued to my recliner, a boppie pillow in my lap, and my husband helplessly bringing glass after glass of ice water for my parched throat. 

I read babies breastfed every two hours, but here I was breastfeeding all day long. We would nurse for about an hour where somewhere along the way she would doze off. Heck, maybe I did too. But eventually we would both wake to the liquid explosion emitting from her Pampers swaddler, and I would pry myself from my throne to change another poopie diaper. She would cry relentlessly, and I would finally settle her screeching tears by putting my breast back in her mouth. 

Repeat above paragraph, over and over.

Somewhere along the way I figured out how to put her down for those thirty minute naps before she doodied again, and in that golden half hour would eat, use the toilet, or collapse into an exhausted heap on the couch. Then I’d breastfeed some more. It was pretty much my new thing. 

3. You can’t quantify it! Despite all the time we were spending breastfeeding, like all the time, the hardest part for me was being unable to see what she was eating. Since I had no idea what I was doing I was plagued with questions like “when will my milk come in?” Or “am I making enough?” I wondered helplessly, “is she eating enough?” Even, “what if I’m starving her?!”

Breasts don’t have notches along the side that tell you how much is in there. You can’t look at them afterwards and see what’s left. You have no number of ounces drank. You’re basically winging it, and though books and lactation specialists will give you basic guidelines of how long to nurse on each side, when it comes down to it every breast and every baby is different! You’re left looking at the clock, putting scrunchies on your bra strap to remember which boob was used last, counting wet diapers, and trying to decipher if your baby is crying because they’re hungry, gassy, or simply because they’re a newborn baby. After all, crying is kind of their thing. 

4. It will hurt! I can honestly take great joy in saying that it gets better over time, and by the time you go to nurse your second child your nipples are pretty callous to the discomfort of suckling. But that first week. Sheesh! 

When I first discovered lanolin I thought I was in heaven. I remember rolling over one morning that first week and looking down in shock at the monstrosities on my chest. They were ginormous, they were shiny with a scary, accompanying roadmap of veins, and my nipples looked like the floor of the Sahara. They were dry, cracked, and to my amazement, bleeding! Lord have mercy, I never knew!

As a side note, if you’re a new mom, new to breastfeeding, and considering nursing your future child, please remember the above painful paragraph doesn’t happen to every woman, and most importantly it doesn’t last. Any great, wonderful thing usually involves sacrifice. Kind of like the whole pregnancy and childbirth scenario, period. 

5. Your body is not your own! While pregnant you have to watch everything you do. You have to watch what you eat, caffeine consumption, activity, and medicines you take. It’s exhausting. Well, breastfeeding is basically an extension of that, and if you choose to breastfeed for eighteen months or more like I did then it’s a lengthy one. 

When you nurse you don’t have to limit yourself to the extent you did while pregnant, but you can’t go crazy chugging coffee or wine either. You must make certain that medications you take are safe with breastfeeding, and initially you can drive yourself insane trying to soothe baby’s tummy based on your dietary restrictions. Don’t let that consume you; it can be very demotivating to continued breastfeeding. And while your body is still not your own if you decide to nurse, you learn to make it work for you both. You also realize six months, or even eighteen months more of sharing your body isn’t really a long time in the grand scheme of the eighteen years or so that your child will be at home. 

The thing is breastfeeding is tough, and there are a ton of ugly truths you never realize until, and/or if, you make the decision to nurse your baby. It’s a challenge, and it’s not always fun. But then it’s wonderful. Then you wonder why you ever doubted doing it. You wonder if you want to stop, and sometimes you extend breastfeeding past the typically popular first year. Then you surprise yourself one day, and you realize you love breastfeeding. Ugly truths and all. 

  

Misery Loves Company

This post isn’t brought on by anything going on right now in my life. It’s just an observation. If you look around you’ll see a lot of people excited when someone else fails. 

The thing is when you’re on top of the world you will have plenty of company cheering you on enthusiastically. You’ll not lack supporters, but you’ll also curiously have an unusually large number skulking around in the shadows in anticipation. They whisper amongst one another, often times creating stories of how they imagine you ended up where you are, and even the ugly secrets they are sure must exist in your closet.  

This crowd of ever-present naysayers keep an eye on you with one desire in mind. They are waiting for you to fall. 

Unhappy people don’t have much that makes them crack even the tiniest of smiles, beyond a fake one, but there is one thing that lifts their murky spirits. The failure of another.

Miserable people want everyone to feel their pain, and their envy of true happiness knows no bounds. They cannot fathom not being angry, disillusioned, or jealous of the very people who could care less what they think. Their only motivation is the hope that content ones will crash and burn in a major way. 

Misery loves company. Or as is more commonly phrased today, haters gonna hate. 

It’s even worse if you have been an unhappy person, but then discover contentment in life. You discover change, personal growth, and true joy. You’ll find yourself advancing in life, seeking truth, showing love and kindness, and being really, really happy. But the people you may have left behind will watch through narrowed eyes and gritted teeth. And they will say things like, “he sure forgot where he came from,” or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Maybe they’ll even say, “I guess she thinks her s%&t doesn’t stink anymore!”

They will watch with baited breath for you to fall. They will await your unhappiness. Until then they’ll talk about you behind your back, about how perfect you think you are. 

The crazy thing is that the perfection they speak of is only imagined in their eyes. No one is truly perfect. No one. And while you can be supremely happy in life this doesn’t shield you from tragedy or mistakes. Inevitably even the most apparently perfect person in the world will eventually mess up or suffer something terrible. 

And there will be the unhappy crowd waiting to cheer. For a short while they actually find happiness in someone else’s pain, as if it somehow makes them feel like their life isn’t as awful after all. But sadly in a short time their miserable existence returns to normal. 

The unhappy people will still be unhappy even after their celebration of the failure of another. And interestly enough the happy people will remain happy. Sure they’ll be broken, but true joy remains despite struggle. So that misery that loves company so much just ends up being alone. 

Your enemy will always be eager for your destruction, and if you fall they will be the crowd that arrives, not to help you, but to stand around sucking up all the air. 

  
No worries. When you get back up, because you will, you’ll regain your contentment with life. But they will remain the same too. 

The thing is no one is perfect, and even the happiest person experiences sorrow. But true joy and contentment are never found in celebrating the misery of another. You can only be happy with your life, and not waste time waiting for someone else to fail. 

No, Your Husband is Not “Your Other Child.”

No one likes a good laugh more than myself, and I’m pretty laid back on most things. I enjoy a joke or two about the differences in men and women, and I laugh at most of the ones I see. But I think sometimes these little funny things we see are taken more seriously than a simple meme, and the majority of women will shake their head in agreement at some statements as if they are the gospel truth of matrimony. 

Over the years, even before such a thing as social media, certain false phrases passed among women have been taken as good advice, and I think these misconceptions end up hurting marriage relationships. The fact is Satan hates marriage, and what better way to conquer it than from the inside.  

Here’s what I mean. Have you ever heard a wife proclaim that her husband is her other, older child? Maybe you’ve seen a similar phrase on an ecard passed around Facebook. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. Perhaps it just seems like a good laugh to be had in solidarity among women, but my question to you is this. Do you unconsciously, or even consciously, believe this is true?

Here’s another I’ve heard before. “Men are like puppies. You got to train ’em.”

Heck, I even remember saying myself, in the past, “You gotta take ’em from their momma and raise ’em up right!”

You’re laughing, right? Okay, it’s funny I suppose, but when does it no longer become a laughing manner? How about when you begin to treat your spouse like a child? Is that really the recipe for a solid marriage?

As a woman we desire certain things. We like to feel needed, we like to feel like we are appreciated, and we like to feel like we hold a useful, important role in the relationship. Well, that’s fair. There’s nothing wrong with desiring respect for the effort and work you put into a life with someone. But what if I told you men aren’t that much different?

Like women, men also desire to feel useful. They desire to feel like they hold a crucial role in the relationship that no other person can fill. They have an ego, much like women, that requires adequate stroking to maintain a healthy confidence level and contentment in the partnership. 

So, when you treat your husband like a child instead of a man you are sufficiently taking away his manhood. You are taking away his role in the marriage. Your repeated conversations of speaking down to him and chastising him like he’s a kid deserving of a timeout will break any confidence he has to be the strong man he needs to be for the family. If you treat your husband like a child then expect to have him act like one. After all, if you can’t beat ’em, then join ’em. Congratulations. You now really do have another child, but it’s one that you have created. 

  
Or perhaps think of it this way. Let’s say he’s a puppy needing to be trained. If you treat a man like a dog then you shouldn’t be surprised when he acts like one. Rather, treat a man with respect and he will in turn give you the same. 

Men don’t need another mother. They have one of those. Men don’t need someone to take care of them. Deep down men desire to take care of their family, but as women we must allow them that freedom. We must cultivate that trait in them, not severe it. 

As women we can speak on a level platform with our spouses. We can talk to them in a way that conveys our desires for them without telling them what to do. It takes practice, but it’s possible. And these types of conversations aren’t manipulations, but rather they are communication. They’re conversations where you speak to your partner in a way that lifts them up, not one that tears them down. 

As women we don’t like to get told what to do. We don’t enjoy being told we’re wrong. In fact, we’ll deny such blasphemy. Wink, wink. But seriously, as a wife we don’t like being talked down to, or made to feel like a servant. Well, men aren’t much different, once again. 

A husband needs a wife who treats him like a man, not a child. He needs a wife who desires to share the responsibility with him, not “do it all so it’s done right.” A husband needs a wife who treats him like the man she loves and respects, not an animal that can be trained to do her bidding. A husband needs a wife, not a mother. 

As women we talk incessantly about what we need from our man, but I wonder if we ever stop and think, “are we cultivating those traits we desire, or are we killing them?” If you want a strong man then treat him like a strong man. If you want a provider then rely on him as one. If you want a man who respects you then show him respect first. 

But if you want a child or a dog, well, you know what to do. 

What Does Your Wardrobe Choice Imply?

Yesterday I was enjoying lunch with my family in the food court of the mall, and as I ate a fabulous steak sub I surveyed my surroundings. Before long a lovely, young girl passed by my table, and I had to do a double-take. I probably would have noticed her anyway as she radiated a glowing beauty, but I could hardly keep my eyes on her gorgeous face for what she was wearing. 

“Hey, honey. Look.” I said to my husband. It’s not that I wanted to point out a half-naked stranger, but I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes. And I knew my husband would recognize the top this young lady was wearing. It just so happened to be identical to a piece of lingerie I owned. 

So she was wearing a lace undergarment as a top. No biggee. I got it. I mean I did grow up in the eighties and nineties. I had lived through fads of wearing your underwear as outerwear, and I wasn’t sure if Madonna had brought it back again (after all, she still rocked it out at 56), but that wasn’t what really bothered me anyway. 

And it wasn’t that I was envious as some might assume. I may have mothered a couple of kiddos, but as a fit and trim size four with an ample bosom I could still pull off sexy, no problem. I just saved it for my bedroom by choice. But I hadn’t always been that way. 

Sure enough, when I was this young lady’s age I was a huge fan of anything low-cut, belly-baring, or super short. I was a fan of halter tops, daisy dukes, and teenie, tiny string bikinis. I liked feeling beautiful, and feeling like heads turned when I walked into a room. And since my chest size didn’t match my affection for v-neck tops, well, I went ahead and took care of that little procedure too. So I understood.

But somewhere along the way I learned a thing or two. Or three. I discovered that dressing scantily got me plenty of attention, but perhaps not the kind I desired. Why in the world would the guy I just met assume I was eager to jump in the sack?! Was it the fact that I had my body on display like I wanted to give it away? It’s not rocket science folks. 

So maybe I sound like a fuddy-duddy, prude, but perhaps I’m just speaking common sense, matter-of-fact truth. The reality is that if you wear your lingerie out in public you might give off the impression that you’re ready to go to bed. If you wear a neckline that dips down to your navel you shouldn’t expect a man to look into your eyes. If you decide on attire that doesn’t reflect a respect of your own body and self-worth then don’t expect someone else to do otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look pretty, but when you leave nothing to the imagination then understand you’ll draw attention that has a short span. You’ll attract someone with your flesh who is only interested in your flesh. End of story. 

If you desire someone who is attracted to your inner beauty then put that foot forward first. It’s hard to get to know someone’s interests and dreams if you’re distracted by the curve of their buttocks hanging out of their shorts. 

And another thought is why do women feel they must always dress sexy to impress a man? This stigma and expectation isn’t placed on men. I mean can you imagine if a blind date showed up in denim cut-offs?

  
I’m of the opinion that if you respect your own body you will treat it as the precious treasure it is meant to be, and as such you won’t place it on display for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to ogle at with lust. It cheapens you more than you know. I didn’t always realize this, but after years of drawing the wrong attention I now know it’s true. 

But by all means if your aim is to appear the opposite, as if you don’t respect your personal body, and you don’t mind if people undress you with their eyes, then may I suggest Frederick’s of Hollywood. They have some amazingly small articles of fabric that are sure to draw the attention of a man who will use you, disrespect you as a woman, and then laugh about you to their friends. Harsh, I know, but the truth is just that. 

Or you could just save the lingerie for the bedroom. 

May I suggest instead clothing choices that make you feel pretty, but don’t draw people’s attention from your true beauty to your cleavage. 

What does your wardrobe choice imply? Does it suggest you’re worth getting to know better, or worth a one-night stand? Does it suggest you’re looking for a meaningful relationship, or a quick boffing in the backseat? Does it draw attention to your personality or your legs? Does it imply a respect and pride in yourself, or does it suggest a desire to attract attention at any cost?

Because what you wear does matter. People are human, and they will judge you on your appearance, and while the opinion of others doesn’t matter the most, it does matter a bit when it reflects poorly on you as an individual who is truly precious and deserving of respect. 

So the next time you dress to impress, look in the mirror and ask yourself exactly what your attire suggests. 

  • As a final note, I want to add that anything written above is motivated by love, and although it might seem harsh it is only because I truly wish someone could have spoken this to me twenty years ago. My hope is always to prevent the hurt in someone else that I have suffered in the past. 

Moving Back to Mississippi. Why I’d Do It All Over Again. 

Yesterday I happened to catch a tourism commercial on television for visiting my home state of Mississippi. As jazz music accompanied scenes of smiling people enjoying Southern cuisine and good company in a beautiful scenery I found myself grinning from ear to ear. Despite my intentions, or lack thereof, somehow I had become a proud Mississippian over the years. But I wasn’t always that way. 

I was born in San Diego, California, and I lived in Los Angeles until the age of six. But after that, due to circumstances beyond my control, I found myself smack dab in small town, USA. I was living in a town named after an Indian’s horse, and the entire population of this tiny community was less than the number of students that had been enrolled at my previous elementary school in L.A.

Growing up I enjoyed rural living in the South, but a part of me itched to move away to bigger, better cities. I just knew there were bustling, thriving places out there waiting to be explored by me. I moved away to Alabama, and a bit bigger of a city for college, but even that wasn’t enough. So by the age of twenty-three I enlisted in the Navy, eager to see the world. 

In my twenties I traveled around the globe, I racked up the frequent flier miles, and I ended up settling right outside a little city up North you may be familiar with called Washington, DC. While living in the Metro DC area I frequented other places like Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Manhattan. I visited museums galore, attended political, gala events in DC, and looked out from the top floor of some of the country’s tallest buildings. I met some great friends, had good times, and learned a lot about myself. 

But a week before my thirtieth birthday I found myself making the long drive from Maryland back to the state of Mississippi, and though I was subjecting myself to one of the bigger reverse culture shocks of my life, something in the pit of my stomach fluttered with excitement over the idea of returning home. And as I watched the concrete structures become fewer and fewer, replaced by a brilliant screen of green as I journeyed along the highway, I knew I was making the right decision. 

  
I remember the first week driving from my parent’s house to town. It took about twenty minutes to get to an area more populated with shopping, beyond the Mom & Pop convenience store, and I shook my head at the irony of my return to something I used to abhor. I had always hated that it took half an hour to “go out to town,” and I remembered then how my ex-husband, a Yankee (bless his heart), had always laughed at me for that phrase. 

He’d laugh. “Let’s go out to town?! It sounds like you’re Laura Ingalls getting the wagon ready for a long trip!”

And I suppose I was. But as I made the long, quiet drive that day through the gorgeous, sprawling countryside I realized I didn’t really mind it anymore. 

Somewhere along that trek I noticed a homemade election sign, and I laughed out loud when I recognized the name as a classmate. I knew then that I was home. 

You see, in Mississippi you know your neighbors. You call them by name, and when illness or job loss strikes your home they will be the first to knock on your door with a casserole. After seven years of living in Maryland I cannot recall one time running into someone I knew while I was out shopping, and while I was certain that anonymity was what I had always desired, I can’t explain the comfort I felt after returning to a place where people knew my name. 

In Mississippi, yes, people know your business, but they also know you. They give you a hand when you need one. If your car breaks down I can guarantee you someone will stop. When I worked Hospice as a nurse I had my fair share of flat tires, and even though my Daddy had shown me how to change one, I never had the chance. Chivalrous, kind fellas were aplenty for this damsel in distress. And I never worried too much if they were closet psychopaths. Most of them were a distant cousin or a previous classmate of someone in my family. 

The thing is in Mississippi people wave hello. A lot. This was something I had missed from my time up North. It wasn’t their fault they frowned so much. It was just part of the stranger-danger culture there. 

In Mississippi people take pride in family and tradition. Blood is thicker than water, and if you’ve ever been 1000 miles away from your kinfolk then you’ll understand why this is a wonderful asset indeed. 

Traditions, gatherings, and cookouts by the lake. Boating, fishing, and hunting. Or understanding the simple pleasure of sitting quietly on the porch swing, sipping sweet tea while your grandma tells a story from her youth. Passed down recipes, or eating a sandwich with fresh tomato picked from your very own garden. Green trees as far as the eye can see. 

Listening to crickets chirp, frogs croak, or the distant call of a whippoorwill. Actually being able to see the stars as they twinkle brightly for miles, or shoot across the sky. Even just fireworks on the Fourth of July. (Couldn’t shoot those in Maryland. It was illegal.) 

My favorite is that in Mississippi the hospitality is second to none, and the unique, classic culture is more warming to the soul that good music with friends by the bonfire on a Friday night. 

It’s true, in Mississippi folks seldom lock their doors, and if they do a few neighbors always have a spare key. I love the fact that I live in a city where when violence does occur people get all freaked out and scared. I’m glad it’s not commonplace or accepted to experience robbings and shootings as the norm. I just like feeling safe and protected. 

In Mississippi the pace is all its own. Folks still get busy, but there’s a more relaxed atmosphere that understands the importance of stopping to smell the honeysuckles. 

Of note, Mississippi is in the center of the Bible Belt. I think this used to bother me, maybe because of hypocrites that abound in a popularly religious area, but after the alternative I realize what a blessing it truly is. As a Christian myself it’s comforting to be around other believers, and to not be stigmatized for my morals and beliefs. It’s nice to be able to pray for my patients without the fear of being reported to administration for imposing my religion on someone else. It’s wonderful to raise children in a Godly area where it’s okay to be “pro-life,” and they’re not being influenced by teachings that go outside of our core values. I don’t think as Mississippians we always realize how good we have it in that regard, and though there are mean people everywhere, in my experience people who have a relationship with Jesus just tend to treat others more kindly and in a spirit of love. But that’s just my opinion. 

They say it’s hard to come back home, but for me it was easy. I don’t regret living all around the world, and I’m actually glad I did. It gave me a different perspective, and it allowed me the opportunity to realize just how special the state of Mississippi really is. In the end I’m glad I moved back, and if I had it to do over I’d move back again. 

Why Nurses Get Burned Out

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This morning as I stood in the hot shower spray prior to leaving for my job as a nurse in the ICU I prayed like I do every other work morning, and the petition was a familiar one at that.

“Help me to hear your voice, Lord, and do no harm.” I prayed. And while my words weren’t exactly, “help me not to kill anyone today,” let’s just be honest. That’s pretty much what I meant.

Nursing is one of those jobs where how you perform is pretty important, and having an “off day” mentally isn’t really a viable option. The margin for error is extremely small, and really you want to avoid mistakes period. Because when you mess-up real human beings suffer the consequences.

No, that’s not stressful at all.

So it’s not so much that I pray out of fear, but rather that I beg for strength for the difficult road ahead. After all, you never really can foresee what you will face when you walk in the door, and patient care assignments typically resemble Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

But it’s not the uncertainty alone that makes it challenging. It’s not even the thirteen hour day. Sometimes it’s just the expectation of performance that makes it so tough.

Despite how you’re feeling personally on any given day, you will arrive with your game face on. You won’t be allowed to slip into the chaos slowly, but rather you’ll be forced to dive-in head first. That’s just the nature of the beast. You’ll perform quickly, proficiently, without error, and with a smile on your face. And if you happen to be short of staff, or find the hospital at maximum capacity, you’ll still perform at an optimal level. You won’t have a choice.

I know a guy who owns a restaurant, and he told me that when they get really busy, and absolutely cannot produce more than they are currently putting out then they take the phone off the hook. That sounded pretty good to me, and I’ve had days where I would like to do the same. But people don’t stop getting sick because my co-worker called in, and they don’t even take a break from their illness when I really need to pee.

As a nurse when you hit the wall mentally and physically of what you can do you aren’t allowed to take the phone off the hook. In life and death situations you can’t even walk away for a second to collect yourself. So when you reach the end of your rope you just magically find some more slack. You push, and push, and push. Without error. Without mistake. With a clear head and professional demeanor. This is the expectation.

Also, aside from the expectations of your employer and the general public at large, you are scrutinized by the worst judge ever. Yourself. You would think you’d give yourself a little wiggle room. After all, you are faced with the continuous interactions with some of the most difficult people in the world to deal with, and you must deal with them in the most difficult and stressful situation they have likely ever encountered. You’ll speak compassionately in the face of unnecessary and undeserved insult, and empathetically soothe even the most unsoothable of the population.

You’ll treat ten out of ten pain for someone playing Candy Crush on their phone, and feel the shame when the next day you’re given a different assignment per the patient’s request because you refused to give them a pain shot right when they asked for it.

You’ll answer as best you can questions outside of your scope of practice, but even then you may be undermined for your answers when they differ from “my brother’s girlfriend who’s a nurse.”

Yet despite your understanding of the challenging populace you serve, you will still not measure up in your own eyes. Regardless of the continuous and changing knowledge base you must keep up-to-date, you will feel like you don’t know a thing some days. No one will chastise you more for missing an IV than yourself, and no one will be more disappointed in your daily performance under stress than you. It’s true; your expectations for yourself go way beyond what even the most demanding patient could ever hold.

The weight of so much responsibility, the strain of being stretched beyond your limits, and the unrealistic expectations held by others, but especially by yourself, will make you wonder on the really bad days how you can hate something you love so much. How you can cry in supposed defeat, frustration, and grief over a vocation that on the other hand gives you so much joy.

On the days that end with you running off your unit, or dragging yourself from there, and eventually settling into the quietness of your car where you cry hot tears, those days you feel a little burned out. Maybe a lot.

But then something strange always happens to me. A coworker will send me a kind message, thanking me for all my hard work, and their appreciation for what I assumed was my failure actually takes my breath away.

When I encounter a former patient, and they tell me how I changed their life, or saved their life, or even meant the world to them during such a difficult time, I am left speechless. “Who me? The blundering dunderhead?” (That’s certainly how I feel after a code. No matter how many I’ve been through.) Yet they mean it. They really mean it. I am left blessed, and I am left lifted from my low places.

When a loved one calls me asking for my opinion and advice on health issues I am honored. If it’s 1 a.m. I am frustrated, but I am also proud to be part of a profession where others seek my counsel and assistance when they are frightened and unsure.

When a terribly sick patient, like the kind of patient that you are sure will die, pulls through and gets better, I feel elevated. I feel like I could fly when I realize that I held a small part in the healing and restoration of someone’s life. No feeling compares to that.

A smile, a laugh, a compliment, or a thank you are ultimate motivators to my weary body and mind.

And then I’m not burned out. Almost, but not quite.

So I go to bed early, and I wake up even earlier. I stand in the hot shower spray in anticipation of another thirteen hour day, and I pray. “Help me to hear your voice, Lord, and do no harm.”

And then I’m good.