Monday, November 30, 2009

I Can Do It Myself !!

It has been awhile since I've had a chance to blog. Being back to work full time has been a bit of an adjustment. The Lord gives just the right amount of energy needed but not much left to spare. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving day. I worked until 4:00 and then joined my family for dinner. Driving home from work, I reflected over the many thanksgivings in my life. I remembered being asked the question once, "What's the one thing you are most thankful for this year?" And, I thought about how much has happened in my life since Thanksgiving last year. I know I was thankful last year, but I am much more thankful this year. Am I thankful for cancer? No. Am I thankful for what God has accomplished through my cancer? YES!!! And that is the one thing I am most thankful for this year.

This Thanksgiving weekend, my little grandson Wyatt was here visiting. He is 2 1/2 and at the age called "I can do it all by myself!" Whether it be putting his shoes on, or taking them off (which is more often the case), combing his hair, or brushing his teeth he is convinced that he needs no help from anyone.

He found some stackable blocks in the toy box and began to piece them together. The first few he didn't have much of a problem with.

As he continued with the next ones, I could see him start to get frustrated. I asked him if he needed any help and he adamantly replied, "Nope, I can do it all by myself."

So I backed away and watched his little hands continue to struggle to try and fit the pieces together. It was so hard for me to sit there and watch him get more and more upset.

Finally, when he was to the point of tears, he came over and asked for help. I gladly took him into my arms, for nothing would have stopped me from helping him. And with just a little bit of help on my part, he was able to fit the pieces together. Immediately his little face turned from tears to smiles.

As I watched him run off to play, I thought how oftentimes we are just like little Wyatt. We worry over our children, we struggle over loss of jobs and financial struggles, we battle loneliness and despair to the point of tears, we worry over the "what ifs" of cancer, we work to the point of exhaustion, all because we think we can do it by ourselves. But, our loving Father, never intended for us to be worried, fearful or despairing. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10).

It must be hard for God to sit by and watch us, like little Wyatt, wait until we are to the point of tears and ready to give up, before we ask Him to help. But when we do ask, He hears our cry and nothing will keep Him from helping us. "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. He
parted the heavens and came down." (Psalms 18:6,9).

God has reminded me through my little grandson, that he doesn't want me to struggle on my own. He doesn't want me to "do it all by myself." He longs to replace my tears with smiles. My frustration with joy and my discontent with peace. If I would only ask Him for help. How thankful I am, for the way He chooses to remind me of His love!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Dash

On Friday, I attended the funeral of a man I loved. I called him Mr. Harry. He was 12 days shy of being 93 years old. I have known Mr. Harry for 31 years and to me he has always looked the same. He was one of the most caring people I have ever known. He had been married for 63 years. He was an incredibly hard working man who was always willing to help anyone with anything.

At his service, the pastor invited people to share stories about him. One story for me that stood out was when he helped us move into our home 10 years ago. At that time he was 83 years old. He was just going to let us borrow his truck, but he wasn't the kind of man who could just sit by and watch others work, so he started to move furniture. At 83!! I remember him picking up one end of a very heavy sofa and on the other end were my 2 teenage boys. After a minute or two, Mr. Harry said, "Boys, your end is dragging. How about picking it up so it is even with my end!"

At 93, Mr. Harry's life held many stories. On the program for his service, was written a poem and I wanted to share it here.

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the headstone from beginning to end.
He noted that first came the date of his birth and spoke of the second with tears.
But he said what mattered most was the dash between the years.

The dash represents the time spent on earth,
and now only those who loved him know what that line is worth.
It matters not how much we own, the house, the cars, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love while we are living out our dash.

If we could slow down enough to consider what is true and what is real,
and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more,
and love the people in our lives, like we have never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,
remember that this special dash may only last a while.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life's actions to rehash,
will you be pleased with what there is to say about the way you lived
your dash?

Only God knows the size of the dash in our lives. For some of the tiny sick babies I care for, their dash is very short, yet they still impact the lives of all those around them. Others like Mr. Harry have a very long dash of their years. But no matter the size of the dash, we will make an impact on those around us. What kind of an impact will we make? And on that day when we stand before the Lord at the end of our life, will He be pleased with how we lived out our dash?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Career Day

Today, I had the nicest opportunity to go and speak to a class of 5th graders for "Career Day" I guess it's pretty evident throughout my blogs that I am very passionate about my career. In fact, I don't view it as a "career" at all, but a "calling". Though I had no idea what to expect from 5th graders, I really wanted to share with them my passion for nursing. I wanted them to be able to relate to it, to help them see that they could make a difference in people's lives if they felt led to a nursing career. That their life was filled with possibilities.

I thought that perhaps the boys would think that nursing was only a career for girls, so I started out asking them how many thought it was just for women. Most of them raised their hands. But I explained to them that not all patients were babies. Some were big adults who were too sick to be able to get around or maybe asleep from surgery. That men, too, were needed as nurses and they could be just as caring and compassionate.

I asked the children to name as many different types of nurses that they could think of. They came up with surgical nurses, pediatric nurses, school nurses, doctor's office nurses and military nurses. I wanted them to see the many possibilities open to them if that was the career path they chose.

As I continued to talk to them, I began to see the spark in their eyes. They sat forward in their desks to listen. They started raising their hands and asking questions. They shared stories of family members who had premature babies. One boy shared a story of how he was hit by a car and spent 9 days in a coma. They talked about medical shows they had seen on Discovery channel. As I looked at each of them, I saw so much potential. I hoped that they were starting to see the possibilities in their own lives.

As we left the school, a young boy named Khenley, walked us out. He talked the whole way out about a medical show he had seen on Discovery channel. As we said good-bye, I looked down at him and said "Khenley, if you want to, you can be a doctor or a nurse. You can be anything you want to be. You are definitely capable." He looked up at me and smiled and my heart was filled with joy.

Driving home, I began to pray for each of those students. That God, would guide them as he carries out the plan He has already started in their lives. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11) "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

Sitting outside this afternoon, I was still thinking about the desire to share my passion with those children. Isn't that how God feels about us? We are His children and He is passionate about what we do with our lives. He believes in us. He speaks to us through His word. In it, He shares stories of real people that we can relate to. He shows us that no matter how young or old, how good or bad, how rich or poor, how weak or how strong, we can have a life with him. Page after page, it is filled with possibilities for our life. He looks down at us and says, "If you want to, you can life abundantly, in me."

And when we look up at Him and smile, His heart is filled with joy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Last week, we had a study on faith. The scripture from Hebrews has been on my mind constantly. I have been doing a lot of thinking about faith. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 answers the question in this way. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Ever since I was a teenager I have heard people say "If you have enough faith you can......(be healed, get out of debt, overcome an addiction, etc. etc). And many times as a new believer, I saw praying people, who had faith, not get their prayers answered in the way that they had asked. I always wondered if perhaps they just didn't have enough faith. If I was in an overwhelming situation, would I have enough faith to get my prayers answered? Just how much faith does it take to bend God's will?

In the desert called cancer, I finally learned the answer to my questions.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for." What do I hope for? Well, to be honest, I hope this chemo worked. I hope the cancer doesn't come back. I hope I get to see my sweet Jayda walk down the aisle in her wedding dress and little Logan graduate from high school. But I can't be sure of that. For I don't know God's will for my life. I can't bend His will. Nor do I want to. In the desert, I learned that "God's ways are higher than my ways, His thoughts higher than my thoughts." When I gave my control over to Him and surrendered to His will for my life, my hope then became placed in Him alone. I hope that no matter what turn the journey road takes, He will walk with me each step of the way. My faith allows me to be sure of it.

The other half of the scripture says "Faith is being certain of what we do not see." During the children's time Sunday morning, I used a few illustrations to help them understand this concept.
Take the telephone, for example, I can pick it up and talk to someone half way across the country. I don't understand how it works, but I know it does. I don't understand how I can talk to God who is in Heaven and He can talk back to me but I know He does.
A bottle of medicine. How does it know exactly where to go and what to do when it gets there? I have no idea. I just know it does. I don't understand how God can heal the deepest hurt and pain in my life, but I know He does.
I have no idea how Carl can sit in a chair with a remote control and control the TV from across the room . Neither do I understand how God can sit on His throne in Heaven and control everything here on earth. I don't understand it, but I know that He is in control.

Even though these are simple examples, they so clearly illustrate faith. I can't see God. I can't understand His plan. I can't bend His will. And sometimes that's really tough. Perhaps His healing is not a physical healing, but a healing of the heart. Perhaps overcoming an addiction, first requires, cleansing the soul before cleansing the body. Perhaps getting out of debt, first requires losing all we have in order to to realize that He is all we need.

Faith is not measured in amounts. It is not about believing hard enough to get what we want. It is simply placing our hope in His perfect plan for our lives, and being certain that, even though we can't see it now, His plan is far better than our plan.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Glimpse of God

Everyone once in awhile, sometimes when you are least expecting it, you get a glimpse of God. That happened to me today.

I went back to work on Monday after being out for chemo and radiation. I work in the NICU as an RN. The NICU, like many ICU's is a very high tech place. Lots of machines, tubes, wires, monitors, pumps and alarms. And, almost hidden in the midst of it all, lies a very sick little baby.

Today, one of my babies, who had surgery yesterday, started to furrow his little brow and cry. I quickly got him some pain medication and started infusing it. While I was waiting the few minutes for it to take effect, I put my hand on his little forehead to comfort him. (He was too sick to pick up and hold). I leaned in close to his face and spoke softly to him. I prayed for God to quickly take away his pain, comfort him and heal him so he could go home to his mommy and daddy where he belonged. As I spoke to him, he opened his big dark eyes, stopped crying and looked right into my heart.

And in that very moment, I caught a glimpse of God. In the midst of all the wires and tubes and noise, was a new life, sent straight from heaven. God had created this new life. "For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:11) He knows the plans he has for his life. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) God holds this baby close to His heart. "And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them." ( Mark 10:16)

Tears of thankfulness began to flow. I was so thankful to be God's hands today to comfort this child. To be His voice to pray for him. And thankful for being able to witness the almighty, powerful God through the eyes of this fragile little baby.

God is not a God who sits upon a big gold throne in the sky, far removed from His people. He is right here in our midst. He longs for us to notice Him. Maybe it's a butterfly landing on a leaf, a colorful rainbow in the sky, the opening of a new rosebud, the laughter of a child. Or perhaps it is through the eyes of a sick little baby.

Have you witnessed a glimpse of God lately? If not, watch closely. Look for Him. He is here, just waiting for us to notice Him.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where Are You?

The last couple of days have brought sadness and questions for many, many people. On Thursday, a gunman opened fire on innocent young men and women at Fort Hood army base, getting ready to deploy to Iraq. 13 people died and 43 were injured. These young people had chosen to serve their country. They were unarmed. They had done nothing wrong. They were simply the victims of someone else's anger.

Less than 24 hours later, an armed gunman, in our own city, walked into a business and opened fire on unsuspecting victims as they worked at their desks. They had done nothing wrong. The gunman had been fired from his job and took his hurt and anger out on innocent people.

Where are you, God? Are you here? We can't see you.

We are alot like little Wyatt with these glasses on. We can't understand the ways of God anymore than Wyatt can understand algebra. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12).

But one day, Wyatt will understand algebra. And one day, we will see and understand God's plan. Without faith, it would be so easy to believe that God is not in control. But He is here. He feels the pain, He understands the sadness. He alone knows the reasons why. He IS HERE in the midst of it all.

There are so many people that cross our path in a day's time. Are they hurting? Do they feel so unloved that they feel the need to hurt others? Can I make a difference?

Oh Lord, Sometimes we can't see you. We don't always understand. Help us to trust your word that you are always here with us. That you are in control of everything that happens and one day we will see you clearly. Lead us, Father, to love more deeply, forgive more quickly, and take the time to notice those around us who are hurting. Show us, Lord, how we can make a difference. Amen

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Carl has started walking on the treadmill everyday. It has been good for his sugar levels and I'm sure for his overall health. He walks anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on his schedule. Each day I see him walk, I think, "I'm going to walk today, too." I used to be an avid walker, walking 2-3 miles every morning before work. Now when I get on the treadmill, it's a chore to walk 15 minutes. I am "spent" when I finish and don't have the energy for the rest of the day.

Yesterday, was one of those mornings. I tried to walk and after about 10 minutes I was out of breath and too tired to continue. Feeling a bit frustrated with my slow "return to normal", I went in, got showered, checked for any new lumps or bumps (as is my daily routine anymore) and prepared to go to Wednesday morning bible study.

Driving to the church, I kept thinking about the days when I would go out and walk a couple of miles, work 12 hours and come home with energy to spare. The more I dwelt on those days, the more discouraged I became. So, I wasn't really in a great frame of mind for bible study, and actually thought about going back home and sitting out on the swing and having my own bible study. But I'm glad I didn't.

The scripture verse for the study came from Hebrews. Though it encompassed many verses, one in particular jumped off of the page at me . "Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise." (Hebrews 10:23) Immediately I thought of my morning discouragement.

I pictured myself climbing a high rope, one of those that you climb at the fair, or on an obstacle course. If you make it to the top and can ring the bell, you win the prize. As I start the climb, I have a good strong grip and the first section of the rope seems easy. The higher I climb, the harder it is to hang on. My hands are getting tired. And soon, I take my eyes off of the prize at the top and look down and begin to waver. That's where I start to get into trouble. When I look back. I realize, that while I was busy looking back at "where I was", I had loosened my grip.

"God can be trusted to keep His promise." From the beginning of time, throughout every word of the bible, God has never broken a promise. I, on the other hand, have broken more promises in my life than I even care to think about. Why then, would I waver, take my eyes off of Him and put them on myself? God's promise is not about "what I used to do" or "where I have been", but where He wants me to be today. In right relationship with Him.

Isn't it like that for so many of the difficult ropes we must climb during our life? At first, we are strong. Our grip is tight. Our faith is solid and we believe God's promise that He will help us make the climb.We look up and keep our focus on Him.

But as the climb gets higher, our bodies get tired and our grip gets weaker. We, too often, take our eyes off of God. We start to wonder if His promise to get us through is really true. We look down at where we have been instead of looking up to where He promises to take us.

But God's faithfulness is great. When we slide back and loosen our grip, all we have to do is look up again. Not only, will He give us a new strength for the climb, But He will climb with us, hand over hand, until one day we reach the top and claim the prize of a faithful follower!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Behind The Mask

I love Halloween. I think because it's such a fun time for the children. I love the excitement in the eyes of the children when they talk about who they're going "to be" for Halloween.

I loved spending trick or treating time with my grandchildren.

This year, I was keenly aware of how blessed I was to be able to enjoy this holiday with them. I was literally drawn into the magic with them.

Watching my children get their children ready for trick or treating.

Laughing as baby Cooper kept tearing his hat off while Eric and Katy quickly tried to get a picture.

Watching them go out in their costumes and collect their candy. And then look in their little halloween bags and take a quick inventory each time they received a new piece. I found myself taking in every moment and treasuring it, wishing it could last all night.

When the night was over and the children were asleep, their little bellys full of candy, I thought about the magic of Halloween. What is it that makes it so fun?Why do children (and adults for that matter) love to dress up and become someone different than themselves. The older kids especially love the costumes with masks, because they can hide behind them and not be recognized for who they really are.

I told the children of our church a story about a little boy who discovered, while trick or treating, that his neighbors didn't recognize him behind his mask. So he thought he would cause some trouble. He kicked to pieces their pumpkins and knocked over their lawn chairs. He continued to do lots of bad things that night because behind his halloween mask, he was safe. Then he remembered the words of his parents about how God made us, loves us and will always recognize us. Even though his neighbors didn't recognize him, God knew who he was.

Sometimes that's how it is with us. No, we don't kick over decorations and openly commit acts of disobedience but we often put on one face for others when, "behind the mask" we are not the same person at all. We do and say things that are just as displeasing to God as the acts of this little boy. A co-worker gets a promotion and we act happy for them, when "behind the mask" (in our hearts) we are jealous. We go to church on Sunday, pleased with ourselves, and on Monday we are yelling at the driver in front of us who cuts us off in traffic. We put money in the offering plate for others to see and then ignore the homeless person on the corner. We open the bible on Sunday morning and then read novels and watch movies during the week that we wouldn't watch in the presence of God. We are patient with our friends and quick to find fault in our spouses.

But God sees behind the mask we wear. "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1Samuel 16:7) He sees who we really are. He also sees who we can be. If we allow Him to search us "behind the mask" and are open to His molding and changing us, He will make it so no longer have to hide. "Search me, O God, know my heart and test me. "(Psalms 139:23).

Halloween is over for another year. The make-up faces are washed clean. The candy is rationed out so there will be no upset tummys. The little trick or treaters are fast asleep. But this Halloween has been unlike all others for me. For God has planted a yearning in my heart, to allow Him to search me and test me so that when He looks at my life, I don't have to hide "behind the mask."