compassion

Carla's Column: What's In Your Hand?

Carla's Column: What's In Your Hand?

This month's Carla's Column asks us the question, "What is in your hand?" What do we have available to use for the benefit of others?  How can we serve the needs of those around us?  Putting aside training, education and credentials, we all have something in our hand to be a blessing.  Consider the gifts you've been given as you read this encouraging post!

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Carla's Column: It Is Time

Carla's Column: It Is Time

Our dear friend, Carla Holtz speaks into our hearts regarding the everyday ways to show love and speak into the lives of those around us.  It can even be as simple as our commitment to a daily exercise routine.  Find encouragement and inspiration exploring new purpose in those everyday events through this month's

Carla's Column!

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NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Everyone has a way they receive love.  Gary Chapman covers the topic thoroughly in his book The Five Love Languages.  From what I remember of the book, and from what I identify in myself, is that we receive from all of the five ways love is expressed, but each of us has a primary love language. Evidently, my primary love language is quality time.  My secondary is acts of service.

But one thing I love so very much are words.  I love written words and spoken words.  I love the bridge words create connecting one person to another.  And recently, I received the most beautiful words from a beautiful family.

This family gifted each nurse who took care of their baby with a rustic cuff and the letter below.  I've changed a bit of the letter to protect the family's privacy, but wanted to share because of the insight it provides.  Sometimes we get so focused in, we forget how much value each of the little things holds in the hearts of those we as nurses get to care for.

As I read through this letter, the following passage of scripture was stirring in my thoughts.

Matthew 25:34-40 NLT Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."  Then these righteous ones will reply, "Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the King will say, "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"      

 

NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Hope- a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust. 

We were so excited when we finally had our son on that autumn day in 2016.  He was beautiful and sweet and just perfect.  Then two days later we were told he wasn't going home with us and that our perfect little boy wasn't medically perfect.

Our emotions leapt from total joy and excitement to fear and confusion.  The next few days are totally lost in our memories, and the following weeks were so emotional and draining.  There is nothing to prepare you for the sadness and complete helplessness you feel as a parent with a child that is sick to any degree, let alone in and ICU where we weren't sure what the problem was or what the solution would be.

The things we do remember are the people who were there to take care of our son.  Upon arrival at the NICU, a nurse had prepared our baby's bed with personal bedding and had placed the sweetest blue knit cap on his precious head.  Within the first few days, our little man had a handmade name tag on the door to his room.  A few days later, a nurse brought in an outfit and said, "Let's dress this sweet boy!"

Being such an emotional time, I had never even thought to put clothes on my baby!

November arrived and our little turkey got to make his very own first craft!  A turkey!  Made using his little footprint.

Nurses who had taken care of him before would stop in on their shifts just to check-in on him.  We really felt as though the nurses here cared for his health and loved him as all children need to feel loved.

Although we as his parents were not the patients ourselves, we felt cared for.  The nurses here engaged in conversation with us both medically to keep us updated and socially to keep us feeling sane and a part of the world outside of that room.  Each night, a nurse brought in fresh bedding for us to sleep on and always asked if we needed anything else.  We received comfort in the form of positive words or encouragement, friendly smiles and even a few much needed hugs.

You are what gave us HOPE.  We desired for our baby's health to be taken care of and we had to trust that it would be.  In some cultures, blue is representative of hope.  The shade of blue we chose is the same shade of blue as the knit hat he received in his first night in the NICU.

When you wear this bracelet, please remember that what you do matters.  You give hope to a lot of families.  Your kindness, patience, and individual care matters.  We are forever indebted to this staff and this facility.

Love, a NICU Grad's Mom & Dad

 

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Crazy, right?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

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Struggling To See

*please note: this post was written to speak life, love and healing.  The many posts I've read have grieved my heart to see people I care about offended and hurt.  Please, please let us understand how detrimental our comments can be in the lives of others and weigh them before the Lord.  God does not want His people in this pain. Both my parents started experiencing a decline in vision around their mid-thirties. Understandably, I anticipated the likelihood of inheriting a genetic flaw to my sight around the same age. Accepting what I felt was an inevitable need, I made an appointment for an assessment.

My mental approach was pitiful. And vain. Very, very vain. Contacts are just not an option. I can take blood, puss, and even respiratory secretions over coming in contact with an eyeball any day. The thought of having to touch my own eyeball to insert a visual aid absolutely nauseated me. Then the vanity side is that, I do not look good in glasses. It seems to draw attention to my most prominent facial feature--- my nose. Definitely don’t need to add definition to that part of my face! So no, I wasn’t excited for the new world of possibilities—different colored eyes with contacts or perhaps a studious look with glasses. No. Not excited at all.

You can imagine my delight when the optometrist finished his exam and said, “Heather, if all my patients were like you, I’d be out of a job! You have textbook vision.” Textbook vision!!! That’s what he said! No contacts. No glasses. Just take the world into view with my very own God-given ability to see!

But honestly, there’s so much more I feel I can’t see than what I can.

There is a world I’m struggling to see. It’s a world Louis Armstrong sang about in his 1967 song “What a Wonderful World.” It was one of Dad’s favorites, so I grew up familiar with the lyrics.

I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky Are also on the faces of people going by I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow They'll learn much more than I'll never know And I think to myself what a wonderful world Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Louis Armstrong sang of a world he wanted to see. The culture at the time was anything but beautiful. It’s a world we’re still longing to see today. But the recent event in my home state and the social media responses make it difficult to see.

I can’t see how in today’s world we can watch a video of someone die and not be completely broken by the sight. How do these images come across our feed and not cause us to lay awake at night? Our ability to see with our eyes is blinding our hearts, numbing our ability to feel.

I can’t see why opinion trumps compassion. We have limited knowledge, limited insight but we draw our conclusions with no regard for whomever it may hurt.

I can’t see why we allow the spiritual attack of division.

I can’t see where humanity is often absent in the human race. Shouldn’t they be synonymous?

Merriam-Webster defines humanity as “the quality or state of being human; the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals; all people.”

Vocabulary.com provides this definition: “Humanity is the human race, which includes everyone on Earth. It’s also a word for the qualities that make us human, such as the ability to love and have compassion, be creative, and not be a robot or alien.” (bolding added).

I wish there were some contacts or glasses to provide a lens by which to see the world as Mr. Armstrong sang. If there were, would we use it?

I’m convinced the way to a beautiful world is found in one simple line, “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do. They're really saying I love you.”

It comes down to you and me. It comes down to our everyday interactions, visiting with each other at the grocery store, praying with each other at church, and cheering with one another at the games.

The mainstream media nor social-media will preserve humanity in the hearts of humans. That comes down to you and me individually; speaking life, shaking a hand, giving a hug and showing love.

“She saw the world, not always as it was, but as it could be…” -Cinderella

Isaiah 26:3 NLT You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!

#peaceday #peaceeveryday #internationaldayofpeace

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I Lost My Pants!!!

“Ma’am, I’m sorry. Your driver’s license is faded and we can’t verify the security so we’ll have to screen you as if you didn’t have any identification.” “Oh, no problem. I totally understand.” Well, yeah, that’s what I said on the outside, and I really did totally understand, but it didn’t stop me from searching for any ID that may serve as verification. You won’t be surprised to hear that while TSA may entertain your efforts when you pull out your Sam’s Wholesale Club Membership card, it won’t meet the need for identity verification.

In my mind I was thinking, “Unbelievable. I knew I should’ve brought my passport.” All the while proceeding up to the body scan.

“Ma’am, are you wearing a belt or do you have anything in your pockets? “

“No.”

“Okay, well we are going to have to pat you down…..” and on and on went the description of how intimate the TSA agent and I would be there in the middle of everyone shuffling out of the security check point. They are so polite and asked if I’d like a private screening room. I declined. It’d just take more time.

Again, those nonchalant words, “no problem.” Honestly, it really wasn’t. I had just experienced a thorough pat down last month when we went to El Salvador. What’s one more? Can’t say I’d like to put myself on a monthly sign-up, but I understood and appreciate the need for security.

The agent proceeds with her assessment, honing in on my right leg. As she pats and then rubs and then pats and then rubs she pauses and looks at me asking, “What is this?”

“Are you feeling the edge of my pocket?” I’m internally reasoning that these are skinny jeans and you can pretty much outline every crease and crevice. Somewhat agitated, or maybe it was simply confused, she pats and rubs again firmly restating the concerned location, “No, right here.”

“Oh, you are feeling my scar tissue. I am a burn survivor and my scars are not smooth like skin.” No big deal right?

Wrong.

“Ma’am, I am so sorry, but I have to take you to a private screening room.”

Once more, my reply, “No problem.”

We trudged on to the private screening room. And you know what happened. I was depantsed! I’m not sure that’s even a word. Probably not since it’s underlined red on my screen, but it’s something my kids say when Gavin tries to be funny and unexpectedly jerks Caden’s pants down to his ankles. (He gets in trouble for that by the way. Gracious that boy is ornery!)

While this may or may not be an occurrence in The Meadows’ Home on any given day, I certainly never fathomed the possibility of it happening to me at the airport! And on a time I was already bummed about traveling by myself! The true irony is found in what I said for the week preceding my trip, “I just have to put my big girl britches on and go,” never imagining for a second those big girl britches would be pulled down the minute I checked in!

So maybe it kind of was a big deal. But I really do understand the caution and I appreciate it.

Today, shuffling back through the security line, I again had the whole body scan. The agent asks, “Ma’am, do you have on a belt or anything in your pockets?” I replied, “No.” She explained the need for the pat down again offering a private screening room. I told her I have metal in my body from an old burn injury and also, that when she pats me down she’d feel scar tissue. She continued, took a wipe-down sample of my hands and sent me on the way after that little machine popped up the results.

Needless to say, it’s been a very humbling airport experience, this trip.

But humility seemed to be the overall theme while attending my first writer’s and speaker’s conference here.

See, I stepped way out of my comfort zone and pitched my book idea to a publisher and agent while I was here. It’s a whole new world to me of One Sheets and Book Proposals, but it’s what the Lord has nudged me to step into. Why, oh why?

I’m so happy being wife and mom. I’m so happy being a NICU nurse. I’m so happy having the opportunities to speak for special events. And I’m so happy, tucked away with you here in my tiny, tiny spot in the massive blogging world.

But the Lord is asking me to humble myself and ask you to help me (which by the way doesn’t feel nearly as humiliating as having someone pull my pants down—it’s all perspective, right?).

You see, what is between my message of hope and healing being published, and getting into the hands and hearts of people who need it, is a number. The number publisher’s and agent’s want to see is at least 10,000 people who are already a part of my audience, who follow my blog and interact with me through it.

My words to the publisher, “I’ll never do that.” She said, “Don’t say that. You never know. You can get your numbers up and come see me next year.” I replied, “That’s just not where my heart is.” It’s not about a number to me. It’s about personal connection with people. It seems oversimplified and maybe impersonal merely trying to reach a number, but numbers are people and my heart is for people—whether it’s at the post office, folding endless loads of laundry, working as a nurse or speaking at a church.

Friends, I’m not sure exactly what this whole writing/speaking journey will look like. I just know I’m suppose to be right where God wants me to be, taking my little steps of obedience as He leads.

Today, I got to keep my pants on (praise the Lord!) but I’m humbling myself and asking you to help me build these numbers. It feels like a stretch but I remember another 10,000 number I felt was completely unattainable—and it was – in human standards. The website.

HeatherMeadows.com had a $10,000 price tag on it just a little over a year ago, and the Lord moved on the hearts of a generous, precious couple and they gave it to us for free! And became special friends of ours!  Bonus! I’m thinking the Lord wants me to get something about this 10,000 number.

Thank you to those whom have given me the opportunity to come and speak for your schools, special events and churches. Your investment into me completely provided for me to come for this conference and gain development as a speaker and writer! I couldn’t have been here if it weren't for you and I can’t go on without you!

I appreciate you so much!!!!

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NIV ~ Thank you, Lord for new things and for making a way!

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Here are some fabulous sites to check out of some fabulous women I met at She Speaks. I feel deeply privileged to have learned and grown alongside them these last few days.

www.LiveaFastLife.com

www.jaynepatton.com

www.jessicastone.org

www.lisaonthecape.wordpress.com

www.notofmyself.com

www.susangreenwood.net

www.reneebollas.com

www.katelynquattlebaum.wordpress.com

www.micahmaddox.com

www.KarenGirlFriday.com

www.tfcmcallen.com

www.BethAnnForo.com

www.caradury.com

www.oldthingsnewblog.com

www.priscillasharrow.com

www.JulieKMcComas.com

www.westbowpress.com

Jacob's Hope by Dr. Laura Sparks

Unique custom made jewelry by Chandra Holcomb.

www.DoANewThing.com

 

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Encouraged in Heart, United in Love

We don’t have much of a schedule during the summertime. And we aren’t too concerned with the forecast. Since it’s most likely gonna be hot our wardrobe doesn’t venture too far from our swim attire. With that being said, we’ve been delayed in hearing of recent events. It wasn’t until surfing social media that I realized of the events in Dallas. Honestly, as we were enjoying our British family’s visit, I wasn’t even aware of the situations in Louisiana and Minnesota.

To see my friends post concerns like “will my children be safe growing up in this country,” and others pointing to the realities of officers being shot yet we still share our plans of going to the lake or out to dinner, made me reconsider my intentions for this post.

When 9/11 happened I laid in bed and cried, more accurately bawled. My heart was so grieved. Brandon tried to understand my emotion. “Babe. I understand this was horrific, but you didn’t know any of those people.” I shared with him, “But I know loss. I know tragedy. And I’m devastated that so many people are hurting and will hurt for their rest of their lives from this evil.”

We protect our hearts when we resist the pain around us. Who wants to let the loss soak in? Who wants to attempt processing the senseless? Who wants to confront the reality of evil? Who wants to sign up for walking the long steps to healing if you’re not the one who was wounded? The truth is, if it doesn’t affect us directly, we rather avoid it entirely.

This post was intended to be the last one in my reflections of El Salvador. I’ve hesitated writing it, but the message it was to contain, while in light of current conditions, is still an appropriate one.

In our time there, we heard testimonies, over and over again, of people who had withstood unimaginable hardship. The message God spoke to my heart through each of them was His faithfulness. I’ve had the opportunity to hear many stories and I’ve had the opportunity to share my own many times, and it is the thread of His faithfulness that is sewn through them all. In El Salvador, in the United States, in the churches, in the families, and in our own personal lives, God is faithful. He will provide.

Another word that came to mind in reflecting on the week was “service”. From the moment we rose to the time we went to sleep our focus was on serving others. And it was our teenagers who illustrated this so beautifully.

So many times in our home Brandon and I have to point out when our children are being driven by selfishness. You know, when they keep score or demand justice. After correction and redirection we typically hear something along the lines, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Of course they didn’t. We understand that they are developmentally, appropriately selfish. There’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just where they’re at developmentally. We are born only concerned about our own needs. How many babies care that they’re waking you up in the middle of the night or perhaps never let you go to sleep to begin with? This drive to survive sets the path for looking out for number one. As we grow and mature we realize it is so much more fulfilling to live a life beyond ourselves, to love and serve others. We’ve had a lot of help gaining that understanding and our kids need the same.

But this wasn't an issue in El Salvador.  Nineteen teenagers went on our trip and I never one time heard complaining! Nor any arguing! These young people had the mindset of Christ- to serve others. It was beautiful and something to be encouraged by for this next generation.

Finally, I saw unity. The missionary overseeing our construction team was under the impression that our construction group was a team who worked together at home. The group consisting of eight men, two women and four teenagers demonstrated such unity that their work was smooth and efficient. The team accomplished far more than what was projected. It’s amazing what God can accomplish when His people are united!

By the end of the week, I had it in my heart to ask each member on our team three words they would use to describe their week. The only condition was they couldn’t use the words awesome, amazing or incredible. We all agreed those were given.

When we came home I sent the words to my precious friend, Sara, who is the talent behind all the graphic design work for our website and print material. She took the words and placed them in the shape of the country of El Salvador.

I invite you to read over them.

And as we leave today, I ask you join me in praying for our country. I pray our desire for unity withstands any evil attack of division. I pray we can be strong enough to allow the pain of others to enter our hearts and fuel our passion for healing. I pray we trust the Lord for His faithful Hand. I pray we see beyond headlines and see people, to see the soul God created and loves.  I pray for His guidance, direction, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and insight to flood the hearts and minds of our leaders and the citizens of this great nation.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 NIV

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el salvador

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A Helping Heart

Have you ever been in a position where you needed help? It’s humbling isn’t it? I think of my grandparents’ generation. They demonstrated immense work ethic. Something my generation, and the one after me, could be inspired by.

Along with that head strong, determined spirit to persevere and get the job done, came the resistance in allowing others to help.

I get it. It’s difficult to be in a place where we need help. It’s even more difficult to ask for it. But imagine with me being in that place of abandoned pride and emptied dignity, expressing your request for help, extending yourself in need only to be met with superiority.

It happens all the time actually. And it’s anything but helpful.

As disheartening as these situations are, the Lord can use them. And He used many encounters I had throughout the year to gear my mindset and heart for our mission trip. For instance, I learned a thing (or two, okay maybe three) about being helpful.

#1 I’ve learned that the best people to seek for help are the ones who either have been, or can at least imagine putting themselves, in my shoes. This is widely identified as compassion.

#2 I gained a personal lesson from my own humbled-heart-required experience, turned mortifyingly humiliating. What I gained from the heartache was a heart laced with something essential for missions—don’t focus on fixing, instead focus on serving, and know I’m just as in need as those I serve.

#3 I came to the realization of what one of our mission’s coordinators mentioned in conversation at the end of a meeting, “Helping isn’t helping unless it helps.” Helping isn’t about what we get out of it. Helping is all about what the person we’re serving gets out of it. It’s all about their need. We were reminded to show respect for the way things were done, follow the system in place trusting the process developed by those who have established it. We were only there for a week. There’s no way we could get the entire picture. We were there to serve, not get snagged by any arrogance that could come with doing it a better way. Truly help; don’t merely seek the self-satisfaction of what we feel helping should be.

Going back to last December when we made the decision and commitment to go on the missions trip—only two weeks later I had a friend ask me to go through the book Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren with her. The name alone may have been reason to run, but as seamlessly as I responded to Brandon when he said we needed to go on the trip, I found myself replying to her, “Absolutely!”

Well this book is no walk in the park. I mean who loves the thought of surrender? Even Christians singing, “I surrender all, all to Jesus I surrender,” hang onto a little bit of control. So as if surrender alone wasn’t challenging enough, let’s slap on the adjective dangerous.

I love how despite my planning (seriously, you should see our vacation itinerary—I might take the word planning to a whole different level- or extreme), the Lord drops His timing into my life. This book was so timely. It was a heart-check to make sure mine was beating in sync with His.

Here’s a bit of the evaluation….

As long as we refuse to look squarely into the mirror of God’s Word and get an accurate picture of ourselves, we actually do more harm than good. We must see ourselves, not as separate from others—better, more educated, more cultured, more sophisticated, more civilized, less sinful, less evil, less prone to violence, less likely to cause harm—but as identical to them in our capacity to do evil. Otherwise, we end up serving others from a position of pride, congratulating ourselves for our noble sacrifices rather than coming alongside a fellow stumbler and offering not our wholeness but our brokenness.

-Kay Warren, Dangerous Surrender, pg. 120

So there it is. There we are. Just as humbling as it is to need help, so as humbling as it should be to give it. Because….we are all in need. Our scenery and situations may look differently, but we’re all in the same boat.

I am incredibly grateful to the missionaries and the citizens who allowed us to serve, showing me how much I can be helped from being willing to help others with a helping heart. What a great place to be!

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (TLB)   What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the One who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.

----If you would like to help with a financial gift to the ministries ministering in El Salvador, visit the following links:

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Scope-a-steth

Yesterday my newsfeed was filled with heart-touching National Neonatal Nurse’s Day posts. I was even tagged in some specific posts from some special little NICU grad families I had the privilege to care for. For certain, a sense of pride came over me, as I feel blessed to be counted amongst some amazing professionals in the field of neonatal nursing. Honestly, I never thought I’d be a nurse. I remember people asking me if I wanted to be a doctor or nurse when grew up. But I didn’t. I had had my fill of hospitals and doctor’s offices. I pictured my future in a different setting than the one I grew up with.

Obviously, something changed, because here I am today, a nurse. And I couldn’t be more proud to wear the title.

The more I grew, the more I realized that trying to separate my life from healthcare, was to separate myself from who I am.   I am a long-term patient, with much experience in the role, which is perhaps, one of the greatest assets to being a nurse.

My doctors have been phenomenal. From Dr. George Cohlmia who repaired the transection to my descending aorta, to Dr. Hans Norberg, Dr. Paul Park, and Dr. Ed Kramer who cared for me during my many days in the burn center. Then to Dr. Robert Kirk who made necessary adjustments to my changing body, to now, Dr. Mark Mathers, who just last week held my husband and my hands leading us in prayer before surgery. My life has been saved and significantly improved by the work of amazing physicians.

So what drew me to nursing?

Well, God called me to nursing and He brought to mind all the nurses who impacted my life through those critical times, medically and emotionally speaking. Like Lois, my nurse, who was the only one able to understand my efforts to communicate each time I was intubated on mechanical ventilation. Like my nurse Vicki who identified a problem from the first chest x-ray obtained after my injury. Like my nurse Kelly, who made me feel calm in times I was scared. Like my nurse Ken who made the necessary tank room visits for bandage changes a little bit fun and somewhat amusing. Like my nurse Carolyn who sat at my bedside in the dark of night showing me photos of her puppies in efforts to comfort me after my bad dreams.

I could dedicate a blog post just to them, but I think Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson expressed it quite accurately in her monologue for the Miss America competition this past Sunday night.  They weren't just nurses; they were lifesavers!

I can’t remember the last time I watched the Miss America pageant, but I was lying around recovering from a recent surgery and took the opportunity. Of course my curiosity was raised when I saw her in scrubs while the others were decked out in formal wear. Still, I loved her talent portion. Instead of trying to fit into the standard song and dance routines we typically see in pageants, she demonstrated first of all, courage to do something different, and conviction to share her passion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSe_rgVbRGo

Am I surprised that this beautiful, and yes, talented young lady, was the target of ridicule? Unfortunately, I’m not. It seems that anyone who steps out to do anything makes themself a target. Each of those girls, in their pursuit of success, became an object of ridicule to the multitude of critics. No tears shed for them though, because they’re the type that will continually rise above it and press on to do great things.

What I am surprised at, however, is the comment made from a commentator on a network talk show. No, I don’t watch The View. I remember when it first started airing, my Grandma, in her most annoyed tone, would say, “How can you even hear what’s being said with all of them talking at the same time?” Nevertheless, nurses heard loud and clear the perplexity as to why Miss Colorado, being a nurse, was even wearing what was described as a “doctor’s” stethoscope.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNQW9l5_2y4

And here is one of the reasons I, nor my Grandma, were ever fans of the show. Who doesn’t know nurses use stethoscopes?

I realize some time was given for the ladies to address the subject on the show. While it didn’t sound like much of an apology, the issue was acknowledged.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvU7-2QuMco

I love what came out of the whole ordeal, all the posts from nurses showing their stethoscopes and highlighting the talent to use them. Yes, Miss Colorado has talent. More than that—she has heart! And you can’t find many with a heart bigger than a nurse!

I hope many more people hear the message Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson had to share; seeing patients for people, valuing nurses as lifesavers. And I hope we can even gain a lesson from The View, the importance of thinking before speaking.  Because, yes, we were listening.

Many thanks to the individuals dedicated to this nursing profession being used in touching countless lives.

Many thanks to B-Dub for teaching nursing students that you need a nurse to save your life. IMG_2827

Last but not least, many thanks to the nephew of my nursing school classmate who called a stethoscope and scope-a-steth.  Seems fitting for this discussion.

Way to go, ANA!  see People's Article at http://www.people.com/article/joy-behar-blasted-american-nurses-association-mocking-miss-america-nurse

 

May we all be challenged in His Word. Proverbs 10:19-21 NLT

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

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Nurses Cry

There are a few days out of each month I have the privilege of walking the halls amongst many great minds and using my life to be of use to another. While I cherish the moments I have to spend working as a neonatal intensive care nurse, I know God is calling me to use my life in some other areas as well. We want to be right where He wants us to be, when He wants us to be there. Although my time in the NICU looks differently now, I’m grateful I still have the opportunity to be there in some capacity. I see mighty works occur in that place, the power of God demonstrated before our very eyes. There was a season I invested a full-time schedule in the NICU. And during that time I had the privilege of being a part of many families’ journeys. In our unit, our families are given the option to choose which nurses they would prefer to care for their baby. Personalities and dispositions of parents and nurses connect differently, and having a strong connection benefits the baby’s care. One way in particular is from the consistency it provides.

Being asked to primary a baby is a great honor. I mean, to be chosen, is a pretty incredible feeling. Picture being asked out on a date. It means you stood out, you’ve been evaluated and assessed, and the conclusion made is that you’re of value. Someone wants to take you out and spend their money just to spend some time with you and get to know you more. It’s more than the, you’re good enough message, it’s communicating, you’re really great!

While primary nursing isn’t exactly as charming as dating, it certainly provides for a strong bond to be made. Spending twelve hours a day, three days a week, for sometimes and often, months at a time, creates a special connection for nurses with the baby and the family. It’s an endearment that lasts far beyond the discharge date. Friendships are frequently formed. Updates are routinely given. Messages are usually exchanged and occasionally, invitations are extended.

Just a month ago I received such a message and along with it came a request. A sweet woman who once chose me to be a part of caring for her sick baby, was now asking me to help her with an endeavor to help others. She contacted me only a month ago regarding a charitable organization they had formed, expressing her intentions for this project, “to help families with preemie or sick babies.” Her heart for others was evident, “our goal is to help with breast pumps or paying the rental fee for moms who want to breastfeed.” She continued, “to also provide information and resources to them.”

Upon receiving the message, I was honored she felt my contributions through writing would be advantageous for her organization. I was more than willing to compose a post for her. Her last message to me was in regards to her precious baby, “we have such a miracle thanks to all of you that worked so hard on her behalf.”

There is so much I don’t understand about life. There are so many questions I have.

It was a rainy morning that particular Thursday I found myself back in the NICU. I was eager to be there. See, we’ve had a storm at home. From it I’ve contended those occasionally inevitable feelings that nothing I do is good enough and that I can’t get right the stuff that really matters. It sounds selfish, but I needed some time to feel useful, to feel productive, to feel good about what I do. Barely into the eight o’clock cares, my phone received messages my heart could not process.

Message after message came through from those who knew of my connection to this family.

While I didn’t know them well, I knew enough. I knew being a mother was the most important role to this woman. I knew her children to be kind, well mannered and respectful. I knew her to be concerned for others, wanting to help in any way she could. She was dedicated, sensitive, kind, sweet and reasonable. Why use the word reasonable? The NICU sees parents at their worst, when they have no control over caring for their own baby. We walked through a dark time with them, and they came alongside us as a team, for what was best for their baby.

I can’t imagine all the things that may be said about them. Who knows what may or may not have happened? Who knows why?

We’re so inclined to ask, but nothing could attest to the senseless tragedy which has unfolded before us all.

There are times I wish I could emotionally “end my assignment.” We log in at the end of our shift, report off to the next shift, select our patients in the charting program, right click, select “end my assignment,” we clock out and we go home to come back and do it again.   But sometimes we barely get the car door closed before the well bursts open, tears of compassion a nurse can’t help but shed. Sometimes we can’t go to sleep fueled with concern for our little patients. Sometimes we call in the middle of the night just to check in where our heart has stayed, with the patient, with the family, with the hope that a positive outcome will surface.

Nursing is more than a career option. It’s more than a schedule of twelve-hour shifts in which you rarely sit down and sometimes even forgo eating and bathroom breaks. It’s more than stethoscopes, meds and tracking I’s and O’s. It’s an investment of heart. It’s giving a piece of your life for another, and there are times, you’re blessed to be given a piece of theirs. Sometimes it hurts. Many times we cry. But there’s no doubt, someone who is called to be a nurse, will always come back to do it again.

This mother asked me to use my voice here at this blog to inform readers about their organization. I am grieved by the opportunity I no longer have to fulfill her request. So today, I write a little about what I knew of her and her family. I write to say something good about their family while many may be formulating very negative opinions. Above all, I write to point to the One who is greater than the most heinous of all acts, our magnificent God. Only He can bear the turmoil, only He can touch the hearts, only He can speak into the darkness, only He can comfort the overwhelming loss.

Job 19:25 ESV

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last He will stand upon the earth.

Romans 16:20 ESV

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

A Nurse’s Prayer by Rita Riche

Almighty God, Divine Healer of all, grant me Your handmaiden, strength and courage in my calling.

Give to my heart, compassion and understanding.

Give to my hands, skill and tenderness.

Give to my mind knowledge and wisdom.

Especially, Dear Lord, help me always to remember the true purpose of my vocation, that of self-less service and dedication to the weak and despairing in body and spirit. Amen

*please help in avoiding any mention of names in comments-- bless you for your thoughts, your compassion, and your prayers.

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Inspiring Influence

Inspiring. It’s a big word. And so are the people I’ve introduced you to over the last several weeks. Wrapping them into a blog post seems too simplistic for the individuals they are, the lives they live, and the people they’ve touched. This last inspirational series blog post brings home the definition of inspiring.

Dictionary.com provides the following:

  • to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: to influence or impel

British Dictionary definitions for inspire:

  • to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon (a person); animate or invigorate

Word Origin:

  • enspiren, "to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.);"
  • enspirer , from Old French, "to prompt or induce (someone to do something),"
  • enspirer from Latin "inflame; blow into",

One of the greatest, and yet deeply humbling of compliments I’ve been given over the years of sharing my story through personal conversations, public speaking and writing, is “You are so inspiring.”

I’m grateful the Lord has provided the days He has given me to continue living this life and I’m grateful for the people to share with where He has brought us on this journey. I’m humbled knowing it is not anything by my own doing, nothing I have orchestrated or accomplished, but it is completely by His mighty hand at work.

Why have others received inspiration from my journey? Because it has been written, directed, and kissed with the intentions, plans and purposes of my Heavenly Father. It’s what makes each one of our journeys inspiring. God uses His people to influence, to flame, to blow into, to prompt one another to become and to do all He desires, for us to live our lives to the fullest making the greatest impact for Him. These are the reasons I have written this series, sharing these people to inspire you and encourage you to inspire others.

It’s natural to assume I wouldn’t be who I am, nor sharing my life, eager to touch others, if it weren’t for one couple touching mine so magnificently spanning the last twenty-one years.

Steve and Michele Lee became my youth pastors in August 1994. I didn’t even know I was broken when I met them, but God knew I was to quickly find out, and He strategically put help in place before the storm began brewing.

My family had attended church all my life, but were never involved. I didn’t grow up knowing what it felt like to have a church family. Not until my parents decided to get plugged into a church closer to home. It was my first experience in a youth group, although it was quite small, only half a dozen students, and we technically didn’t have a youth pastor at the time, as Steve and Michele came a few months after we started attending.

This couple had a passion for youth. It was evident. They jumped in coordinating after-glows, which were social events after Sunday night service, ranging from pizza in someone’s home to bowling or putt-putt golf; and, weekly visitations, taking us to go visit students who were new to the youth group. Steve and Michele took us to summer youth camp, summer ski days at the lake, a back-to-school retreat where we floated the river and played during the day and had a service with worship, a message and prayer at night. Seems like a lot, but there’s more. They got involved in our schools, and we saw Steve regularly at our on-campus Bible club, he visited us at lunch, came to our sporting events, talent shows, and graduations. Steve and Michele took us to concerts, discipleship camp, mission trips, youth conferences and snow ski trips. A week didn’t go by that we didn’t have an opportunity to serve in our youth group or participate in a youth event, and this was on top of our weekly Wednesday night services!

1995.03.23_michele&me

1996_youth_ski_trip

It’s been said people bond through experience, and Steve and Michele definitely provided the experiences to bond with the teenagers they were called to minister to, growing the group to over two hundred students.

They were intentional.

How grateful I am for them. When the emotional trauma from Jon and my accident eventually surfaced, Steve and Michele were equipped with faith, the Word of God, and prayer to minister to me, speaking healing, vision and inspiration into my heart, into my life, into my bones.

Steve and Michele Lee threw a cloak over me. For years, I had the opportunity to serve in music ministry, singing on the youth worship team, which provided for an array of different experiences. Then years later, after Brandon and I had married and joined the youth leadership team, Steve asked me to take one of the Wednesday night youth services. I never thought of myself speaking; that was beyond my vision. But I did it, because they believed in me. They saw what I couldn’t see in myself, and continued to give me opportunities to grow in what God was preparing. Michele asked me to come speak to her 2nd grade class, which I have done for about a decade now, and Steve plugged me in to speak through the abstinence program at several of the schools. A few years ago, when the Lord was carrying me through my nursing school studies, Steve asked if I would speak in one of our Sunday morning services. God has given me a variety of experiences to demonstrate His calling upon my life as a speaker, and He has used Steve and Michele Lee to illustrate it, as this ministry has been perpetuated through theirs.

1999.06.19_wedding_steve&micheleA

This couple has been the most influential on my life. We share a bond. A bond created when I was just a young lady and strengthened over time. Those times have brought much change.

We’ve shared some trials, as we walked through many of my surgeries and also Steve’s own burn injury. They comforted us after our miscarriage and faced all four of our high-risk pregnancies with us. And we grieved the loss of my Dad together, Steve doing the most difficult, being the one who told my Mom of my Dad's passing.  Above all, our joys have exceedingly outweighed the sorrows. We’ve had the privilege of being a part of their lives as they started their family, watching their three little girls grow into beautiful young women, one in high school, one starting college, and one soon to get married. They celebrated life goals with us when Brandon finished his engineering degree and I, my nursing degree.  And the influence of their ministry continues on in our life, even today, as our lead pastors.

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.      Hebrews 13:7 NLT

Oh how I’ve followed their example. As a young teenager, I looked at Steve and Michele and I prayed the Lord would give me a husband like Steve and make me a wife like Michele. I desired my family to love the Lord, be passionate for His Word, and be obedient to His callings, to be real, relevant, love people, and choose happiness.

Steve and Michele Lee’s influence upon my life goes back to my parents and the decision they made over twenty years ago. When my parents chose to join the congregation, they chose to commit to a family. As we all know, families go through hard times. We’re not always going to agree with them. We’re not always going to feel important. Things may not go as we think they should. But it’s a commitment. We don’t bail in dry seasons. We don’t jump ship when waters get rough. We commit to where God has called us to be. Church is about serving. It’s an opportunity to give of ourselves. Yes, we get a lot. I’ve written about a portion of it here. But when our hearts are in the place of giving and not getting, then the measuring stick is gone, no one keeping track of who got what and who’s doing what. And then there is so much freedom and liberty for God to work creatively, beyond what we could think or imagine.

When we’re committed to a church, to serve in a body of believers, we walk away with far more than we could ever bring, one thing is a family.

The Lord uses people. He uses people to touch and influence us and He uses us to touch and influence others. Isn’t that awesome?! God who is all-powerful, holy and wise, uses those He created to create what He desires.

I pray you have been blessed by these inspiring people. I pray these normal every-day individuals illustrate that what takes each of us from being ordinary to extraordinary is the influence of the Holy Spirit working through us.

May you feel inspired to let your life be an inspiring influence to this world!

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check out Michele's The Mrs. Pastor blog at http://themrspastor.blogspot.com

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Like a Good Neighbor

Mark 12:28-30 NLT

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Now isn’t that something to take in? Think about it. Loving your neighbor is as equally important as loving the Lord? Does this mean just the neighbors who live to the right and to the left and those neighbors who are directly across the street? Only those who keep their lawns manicured and there parties quiet? I certainly hope not, because that would mean number one, I’m excluded from this commandment, and number two, I wouldn’t receive the benefit of this commandment. Is it because The Meadows have been known to let our yard get out of hand a time or two, or because we typically have loud parties with the music blasting?

While some may agree that it should be, it’s actually because we don’t live in a neighborhood. This country girl doesn’t have a next-door neighbor, but I have neighbors. Those of us in rural areas consider anyone within a few miles to be a neighbor. And after the experience we just had, I’m seeing a great illustration of what Jesus meant when He commanded us to love our neighbor.

Yesterday morning was like every other. The dogs woke up and needed to go outside. Brandon let them out, but kept checking to see if they were back at the door since this wintry storm was moving in and the temperatures would be falling. We expected them to do their business and come in for breakfast, but they weren’t around. Not ones to worry, we figured maybe they had gone down to my Mom’s or to visit our neighbors, Eric, Shirley and Jordan. They’re quite social, so we weren’t alarmed, just a little surprised since we had recently had them groomed, meaning they didn’t have as much insulation against the weather.

Although we figured they were out chasing rabbits or running the fields, our concern began to grow with each passing hour. Even if they’re out all day, they’re always home by dark. But not last night. And that was not a good sign.

Brandon, Brooklyn and Jaron loaded up and began driving around, shining flashlights, hollering their names. I made phone calls asking those down our road if they had seen them. Our neighbors who were out taking pictures in the afternoon never saw them. Some of the neighbor boys who had been out hunting hadn’t seen them either. No one spotted them. All day.

We needed divine intervention to find our puppies. And we believe God loves us so much that He cares for every detail in our lives. As a parent, I’ve searched for missing toys because I know how much it means to my child, not because of my own connection to it, but the joy I have to see the joy of my child. I know the Lord feels the same toward us. And I know, whichever way this went, He cared for us; He loves us; we’re His children.

A Facebook post asking for just that, for prayer, rendered so much love; so many expressions of concern and compassion. And then a neighbor, a couple miles away, went out in the night to look for our pets. And about 10:30pm as I was going to turn the porch light on, hoping it would help them make their way back, I noticed another vehicle scooting along with a spot light shining on the pasture. It brought me to tears seeing how much people care. I even received a text today from Misty, one of my dear nursing school friends offering to come help me look for them while her son was at school. People, this is loving your neighbor as yourself. Every person who searched, every person who shared their photo on Facebook, every person who offered to help, every person who prayed were all doing exactly what Jesus commanded, loving others as they love themselves. So many were helping us, not because of the emotional connection they have to our pets, but because of the emotional connection they have to theirs. They understand how hard it is to lose a pet and they were doing for us what they would do if they had lost their own. Loving their neighbor as themselves.

This morning I made nine phone calls to area shelters and veterinary clinics. One of those calls was placed at 8:54 a.m. And it’s one I almost didn’t make because it’s so far from our home. But I wanted to do everything possible. Eight minutes later, the clinic called me back and said, “We think this lady who called may have your dogs.” I was shaking and holding back tears while writing her name and number down. I called her and it went to voicemail. I left her a message and immediately texted her a photo of them. She texted back and said, “Yep. That’s them.” Well, after another phone call and a quick twenty-one mile trip, we got our puppies back!!!!

The Lord works on our behalf so often. Sometimes I think we minimize it or maybe we just overlook it. Sometimes we miss the details to be astounded by His hand at work in our life.

Our dogs are two black labs who love to run the fields. Our dogs don’t wear collars because we’re afraid they’d get caught on a pasture fence. Our dogs’ coats are shaved and yesterday was bitterly cold; we had snow. Our dogs wandered off our family’s160 acres to an adjacent piece of land. Our dogs were taken in by a man who was out caring for his cattle. Our dogs were fed. Our dogs were given a soft bed made from a cushion and covered with a sheet. Our dogs were loved on and cared for all day yesterday and all last night. Our dogs even had an egg prepared for their breakfast this morning.

It’s almost unbelievable. I see how the Lord cares for every detail of our life. No sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it gets cold. Sometimes we get hungry. Sometimes we are lost. But there’s nothing like being found. There’s nothing like coming home. And sometimes we need a neighbor to help us get there.

I’m thankful to The Schneiders who are my neighbors. Yes, they live over twenty miles from my home, but they loved this family as Jesus told us to love.

Be blessed, neighbors!

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Wonderful to have had resources available-- willing people wanting to reunite pets with their families. Thank you to all the animal shelters and veterinary clinics who took my name and number today!

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Who Can Be Against Us?

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31 NIV

Romans chapter 8 is one of my favorite passages. In this one chapter, I find scriptures there that convict me, challenge me and comfort me. But verse 31 came to mind not long ago on a day I was working.

After my twelve-hour shift, I traveled those thirty-five miles home, opened the door, hung my bag on the wall, emptied my pockets and got ready for bed. It’s a typical routine when I’m scheduled back the following day. But my husband seemed to think I had had an exceptionally grueling day. I clarified to him it wasn’t a bad one or a bad assignment, I just felt as if this family thought I was against them the whole day. He asked, “Why would they think you were against them?” And I answered, “Because their baby is in the NICU and they don’t want him to be.”

It’s a typical day at work caring for other people’s babies. But it’s incredibly unnatural. See, moms anticipate and fantasize about the moments regarding their child’s birth. They’ll come in with detailed birth plans. Some will decline epidurals, envision skin-to-skin, putting baby to breast immediately; but none desire the NICU. No one wants to sign up for having their baby taken away from them. Babies are supposed to be placed in their mama’s arms, anything but, as necessary as it may be, feels so unnatural.

I know because I’ve experienced it. Yes, of course as a nurse, but I experienced it twice as a mom, before I ever became a nurse. My second child was born with respiratory distress syndrome. He was grunting, retracting and I imagine didn’t have a very impressive pulse ox. After his initial, but brief visit down to the special care nursery, he earned himself a NICU pass. The nurses brought him by my room and told me they were taking him to NICU. Let me take a brief moment to just say… mamas having just given birth are crazy. I feel I can draw that conclusion having given birth four times and meeting so many women after having done the same. Please don’t make judgments in those moments, or for the next several months even. A woman is not herself. And her mind, well, it is not much to speak of either, which is why I can share with you what I said to those poor nurses when they brought Jaron by my room. “I need to hold him.” They looked at one another somewhat puzzled with traces of fear in their eyes and stuttered a reply, “We were given orders to come by the mother’s room and take the baby straight to NICU. We can’t take him out.” I looked at Jaron in the isolette and said, “Oh no, I need to hold my baby.” They apologized and whisked him out of the room. Despite the residual effects of my epidural, I started to get out of my bed, as if…as if I was going to go after them! Absolutely crazy.

My natural instinct to hold my baby was overriding all reason. I couldn’t even process the fact that without medical intervention he would die. And I see this heartbreak of mother’s routinely. There can be this continual flux of appreciation and aggravation. Overall, parents do seem grateful for the care, but they can also get so frustrated with the process. They simply want to take their baby home and sometimes the only obvious physical barrier between home and the hospital is the nurse. In these moments, strength and fortitude are necessities to focus these families on each goal for their baby, and to remind them how we are doing everything we can to get them there. We must remind them we are for them, not against them.

And we demonstrate that by holding them up. A woman never knows the feeling of having her heart outside her body until she experiences the birth of her child. We literally feel outside ourselves… forever. From the moment that tiny person enters the world and for all the years which pass, our children hold our hearts.

Consider with me the families who were never prepared to care for a baby with extenuating medical needs, or those precious families who never take home their baby at all. Those families, those mother’s, need to be held up. They need to know we are in their corner.

In the times we are speaking words mother’s don’t want to hear, giving information they don’t want to receive, or implementing care they wish wasn’t needed, think of Aaron and Hur and what those men did for Moses.

Exodus 17:10-13

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

These women are in a battle. There is so much conflict in their heart, so much disappointment, sometimes resentment, sometimes denial. Life in the NICU is not the way they pictured it. Therefore, when they ask the same question repeatedly. When they call several times a shift. When they get snippy one minute, cry the next, and moments later spill every detail of their life. Hold them up. They are tired. They are worn. Everything feels heavy. Just like their babies, they need you, a person who cares, a person who loves, a person who is compassionate and understanding; a person who is strong enough, and a person who is for them.

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