Not So Amazing

Do you ever wake up feeling amazing? Most mornings I wake up feeling tired. And when I start thinking about everything that needs to happen in that one day, I try to find encouragement counting down the hours until I get to go back to bed. Not so amazing, huh? Nevertheless, at times, in the realities of daily living, we might have the blessing of hearing someone say, “You’re amazing!” It may not be a big to-do, but it’s stated. However, do we ever really feel they’re right? Most likely not. Regardless, we probably keep shooting for “amazing,” despite never really feeling like we are.

I live in Not-So-Amazing land.

Giving your kid gum before they get out of the car because the teeth-brushing event never happened that morning is not so amazing.

Starting the day off having a very loud motivational speech with your teenager regarding self-centeredness and responsibility is not so amazing.

Or perhaps one of my most shining mother moments; discovering one son doesn’t have any clean underwear before a game, but grabbing some out of the washer’s spin cycle and having him hang them out the window on the drive seems efficient for drying. Again….not so amazing.

Should I even bring up overdue library books? And all I’ve touched on is mothering! There’s countless more scenarios on that topic alone, and then factor in those of wife, and nurse. Oh like a time I obtained a heel stick lab on a baby’s heel that would hardly bleed, squeezing and squeezing until the bullets were full, only to drop them on the floor on my way to the tube station. I just can’t even.

Allow me to move on before I call to make an appointment for therapy Monday.

We all have our specifics of why we don’t feel amazing. And we probably live closer to those realities than to the ones when we actually do demonstrate amazing. Yes, we all have our amazing moments. We just let them drift out of our memories easier, if we ever let them take up a memory spot to begin with.

We have a God who is awe-and-wonder amazing! He created us in His image and He thinks amazing things about us! (He thinks amazing things about us even though He knows our ugly truths).

And even better… right in the middle of our everyday life, He wraps up “amazing” and gives it to us.

Do you remember last week’s post, Not So Grateful? If so, you’ll remember I was having some ho-hum feelings about myself just before my birthday. I was evaluating myself with questioning the value of my life.

No one, not even myself, could have anticipated that I’d be having those type of thoughts at that particular time. But God did. And let me share with you about how perfect His timing is in our life.

Months before, I mean months before my March 23rd birthday, in October, my mom received a Facebook message from our sweet new friends in Massachusetts. You may remember them from We’re Moving or Everything is Awesome or The Meadows in Massachusetts. Joel and Lori are the couple who gave us this online home-

Needless to say, we have a very unique and special connection, a connection we know without a doubt was woven by the hand of God. Brandon and I had prayed for their hearts before we ever even knew them, asking the Lord to speak to them regarding His will for the website. And these people, not only touched our hearts and lives when we met them in Massachusetts last year, but they touched my heart and life when they showed up on my front porch to give me a surprise happy birthday wish!  And did they ever surprise me.  The video is at the end of the post if you'd like to see.

Only amazing moments like those come from an amazing Father who loves us so.

Every now and then God grabs our attention in amazing ways and reminds us of His amazing love.

T.D. Jakes said we jump to knowing what God did without pausing to think why He did it. Don’t read over John 3:16 to quickly, “ For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We have to understand why God gave His son. It was because He loved. And He didn’t just love. He so loved.*

And His love, well it makes me feel just amazing!

God took some crummy feelings, that I pretty much think He knew I was going to be feeling, and He presented something amazing to me on my birthday and reminded me that I am loved in amazing ways!

Those are the things we need to box up for keeping. And when those days roll around that you realize you forgot your wallet after ringing up all your groceries, or have walked through the mall with toilet paper stuck to your shoe or possibly may even be drying some underwear driving down the road; pull out your box and take out a little dose of amazing.

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*TD Jakes from The Potter's Touch on 2/28/2016

Birthday Surprise Video

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The Good Things

This week we had the opportunity to sit in our kitchen and visit with some fine folks from a local television show. After the microphone was tucked away, the camera packed up and the vehicle pulled out of the driveway, I got to thinking about how God doesn’t just open doors, He opens them in ways we often don’t even anticipate. The Explore Tulsa show door opened because of a thank you note. Over the summer I had written a thank you note to Video Revolution. They’re people who not only know cutting edge electronics, but they have heart too. Almost a year ago, Brandon shared with them how the Lord was calling us to share our story, and our need to video the events. They captured the vision and met the need. The least I could do was write a thank you note. Well, who would’ve known Video Revolution sponsors the Explore Tulsa show? That one note led to an email, a phone call, an interview, and soon a segment to air covering our story. God is so creative.

It’s a statement I find myself repeating over and over again. The creative plans of God are far above what we can think or imagine. I certainly would’ve never imagined how He would take such tragedy, loss and sadness and bring life, joy and abundance out of it.

One of my favorite, slightly embarrassing, but really funny stories about God’s creative plans goes back five years ago. I was in my first semester of nursing school at OU. I was in the 3pm-11pm clinical group. We had two back-to-back clinical days each week. The patient I was assigned to on day one was going into surgery the next day. As a student I desired the chance to observe the surgery. When the elderly patient asked me if I would be there, it gave me the motivation I needed to inquire of the possibility.

The next day, we’ll call surgery day, was the day the nursing students were assigned to be working a health fair for the Tulsa Run registrants. It was a late night before, and an early morning start. That may not sound like pertinent information, but it explains why I never took the time to eat. I stayed at the health fair until my clinical instructor gave me the green light to leave a little early, making it to the hospital for the patient’s surgery.

I checked in at the OR where I was escorted to change out of my nursing student scrubs and into surgical scrubs. Afterwards, a nurse accompanied me to the OR where I was encouraged to find a place out of the way, and not to draw any attention, or ask any questions, because the surgeon didn’t like students. Wow! Talk about intimidating. But I found a corner, where I assumed I’d be able to see, and I planned to be inconspicuous.

Shortly thereafter, the door swung open and a man walked right up to me and asked, “Are you the student?” I said, “Yes, I am.” Then another question, “Do you want to see something you’ll never see again in your life?” I said, “Absolutely.”

I walked with him over to view an X-Ray as he explained to me that the patient had an amyand hernia. Then this surgeon, who supposedly didn’t even like students asked, “do you want to scrub in?” WHAT?!?! No. That’s what I said on the inside, but allow me to use quotations so you’ll realize how composed I was on the outside. “What does that entail?” He said, “Come on. I’ll show ya.”

So over we went to scrub in. As I washed and washed, up to my elbows, Dr. Johnson inquired of my burn injury. The questions, “how were you injured?” and “where did you receive your care?” revealed that Dr. Johnson not only knew my surgeons, but remembered my case. It was a neat moment to say the least.

Do you feel all the nice warm fuzzies? Hang on to those. It gets better.

There I was all scrubbed in, donning the sterile gloves and sterile gown, we moseyed up to the surgical field. Dr. Johnson instructed me to put my hands right up there by his. The surgery started, the incision was made and the cauterizing began. Now is the time I should remind you I hadn’t eaten that day. As the fat was cauterized the smell overwhelmed me. I remember the voice of Ms. BDub (our nickname for our clinical instructor) ringing in my head, “Don’t let anyone take away your opportunity to learn.” I was telling myself to pull it together, not wanting to throw the opportunity out the window from my own doing.

I’ve never completely passed out, but I was on my way that day. My head was sooo light. I was trying so very hard to hold it together. I believe I took a step back, keeping my hands in position on the sterile field, I then leaned over about to go down. Dr. Johnson yelled, “Grab her.” Suddenly, someone’s arms were around my waste and everyone was asking, “what’s her name,” “what’s her name?” I answered in a barely-with-it slur, “Heeeaaattthhherrrr.”

Oh dear. There was a whole need to scrub back in. Not for me. No, they found me a little stool to sit on for the duration of the surgery. Nevertheless, I was shocked when Dr. Johnson invited me in for the next case. It was nothing I could’ve ever anticipated. It was a skin graft on a burn patient.

What an incredible moment seeing for the first time what I had experienced so many, many times before. It was surreal. In my spirit I prayed for the patient, anticipating his pain upon awakening for him. Bless his heart. Skin grafts are not pleasant.

Couldn’t get much more incredible than that could it? One wouldn’t think. But with God life holds incredible moments when we least expect them.

A few weeks later I got a call from the marketing team at Hillcrest, the hospital I had received my burn care and the same hospital I was then doing my clinicals at, over twenty years later.

Dr. Johnson had suggested me for a marketing campaign they were launching.

Who would’ve ever thought? The girl who got excused early from community nursing hours to attend a surgery where the surgeon had a reputation of not even liking students, to getting an invitation to scrub in and practically blowing it by nearly fainting, to getting another invitation for a very personal experience on another surgery, to topping it off with a request to be a part of a television commercial and newspaper ads? You’ve got to be kidding!

Only God. Only God.

Every door He opens I know is His equipping of every good thing to accomplish His will.

In this post I hope you’ve had a little laughter and received a lot of hope.   The Lord uses everything. His ways are higher. His plans are creative. He wants you in the middle of it all!

Hebrews 13:21 (NLV) May God give you every good thing you need so you can do what He wants. May He do in us what pleases Him through Jesus Christ. May Christ have all the shining-greatness forever! Let it be so.

Explore Tulsa airs locally on: Saturdays Channel 19 at 6pm Sunday Channel 6 at Midnight Wednesdays Channel 47 at 10pm segments are also on their website

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video from the Hillcrest Changing Lives Campaign

Exlpore Tulsa- interviews December 5th 2015

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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.

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.

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.

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


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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Everything is Awesome

“Mom, do you heal the sick babies or does Jesus?” Gavin’s question was seeking clarity for what I actually do at work. He’s heard me say, “I’m going to work tomorrow to take care of the sick babies, so Grandma will be here with you in the morning.” But his question this particular time was formulated from deep thought. I can understand the confusion; if Jesus does the healing what does Mama do? “Well, it’s really amazing,” I began to explain. “Jesus can heal the babies all on His own, but He knows how much I love to take care of them, so He lets me help Him. Isn’t that wonderful, that He lets me help Him, the same way you sometimes help me?”

Let’s give that some thought. In all our comings and goings, God allows us to accomplish things He could do completely on His own. He doesn’t even need us to fulfill His plan, but He uses us nevertheless, because He loves us and He knows the purpose He placed within our being.

Isn’t that awesome?!

Brooklyn and I had a similar discussion back in April, the day after we learned the once $10,000 priced domain name was going to be given to us in agreement that we would come share our story. It was so much for us to wrap our mind around. How simple our brains operate; not really, if you’ve ever read much about neurological function, but in our planning and pondering, it is absolutely nothing in comparison to our Omniscient God.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of The LEGO Movie, I grabbed a life lesson in the story, along with a really catchy tune… “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome, when you’re living our dream.” Okay. I apologize. That song will most certainly pop in your mind throughout the day now. I just couldn’t resist.

In the movie, did you notice how the story line changed according to who was manipulating the characters? There was such randomness when the boy was playing with the Legos. Just when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, out of the blue, a solution would appear. The dad, however, was organized, precise, with no wiggle room for the underdog to rise.

So is life. Our life. The exception for us is free will. God won’t take over unless we ask Him to. I want to be a Lego for the Lord. I want the Lord to move me as He desires. I want His plan to be my game plan. I want His blue print to be my guide.

We’re following His roadmap. And it’s led us to Massachusetts.

How dull. We thought we were simply going to seek out the purchase of But God had bigger plans. This isn’t randomness; this is creativity at work, a divine plan orchestrated.

Now here we are, 1600 miles away from home, sharing our story, making new friends, and celebrating how God uses His people. He gives us purpose and allows us to be His helpers.

Yes—everything is awesome!

Psalm 139:1-6 NLT

O Lord, you have examined my heart

    and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.

    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel

    and when I rest at home.

    You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say

    even before I say it, Lord.

You go before me and follow me.

    You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too great for me to understand!


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One Magical Year To The Next

There is a family photo, which sits on our bathroom vanity, in a frame that reads, “Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” And when this season comes around, when we gather the highlights of the year and send our cherished family and dear friends Christmas greetings, we feel incredibly blessed how the Lord gave so many fairy tale moments to such ordinary people like us. Some big news making it at the tail end of 2013 was the newest addition to our family, Libby Lou. We wrapped up a pretty box, put her inside and gave her to the kids on Christmas morning. She is another little black lab, like Miss Daisy Mae. Then in May, a little calico kitten joined our family; we named her, Callie, after Sheriff Callie on The Disney Channel.

Keeping up with the kids is undoubtedly our greatest achievement for the year. We’re not sure how we can go in four different directions. Again, these are the reasons it all feels a bit magical. We must have some pixie dust under our feet to keep up with the schedules!

Brooklyn turned 13 on March 4th. We celebrated her milestone year with a painting party. We transformed the living room into a “studio” where an instructor directed the “artists” in painting their own tiger’s eye on a 16x20 canvas. It was a classy celebration for our classy girl. We’re so proud of the young lady she has become. Her interest and passion for playing trumpet in band, learning Spanish and having her own horse continue to grow. This fall we built a three-stall horse barn; so the next step is to find her fit for a horse. Nana is planning to bring her horse out too. And we can only anticipate the priceless memories they’ll create together.

Jaron is approaching his 11th birthday on December 23rd, our little eve of Christmas Eve baby. He continues to pursue his passion too…sports! He was on a successful basketball team through the winter and is back with the same group kicking off another season. Spring soccer was equally exciting; he even received MVP from one of their tournaments, a great honor considering the talent on that team. This fall, he stepped out for his very first season on the football field. But he surprised us all with his hidden theatrical niche this past March when he participated in the school talent show performing “In Summer,” from the number one animated film of all time, Frozen.

Caden should have a TV show titled, “Everybody Loves Caden.” It was a topic of conversation at his parent/teacher conference this year. Talk about a compliment. Suppose it’s part of God’s design for the third child. His “go with the flow” personality brings balance in a lot of different social settings, like in his family! Caden turned 8 on the 2nd day of 2nd grade, August 15th. We celebrated with cupcakes at school followed by a pool party with lots of classmates at home. Caden followed in Jaron’s footsteps and has enjoyed his experiences in basketball, soccer & baseball, but he’s stepping out on a new adventure and starting gymnastics this winter.

Gavin celebrated his 5th birthday Ninja Turtle style on July 13th. We had family and friends over to swim, drink toxic ooze and eat nothing other than what a ninja turtle would eat, pizza! In August, he started pre-K at Caden’s school, so he is definitely feeling pretty grown-up going to school with the big kids. We are amazed how our socially uncomfortable child has become so, well…social! All in good time I suppose. Being the baby of the family, he gets lugged around to all the activities but we’ve never signed him up for his own. Well, say no more. He is joining his big brother and will start gymnastics this winter.

June marked a momentous occasion for us, and we headed to a couple’s only resort in St. Lucia to celebrate it—our 15th anniversary! It’s hard not to get emotional thinking about those 18 year-old kids who had many unanswered questions but knew two things: they loved God and they loved each other. We aren’t even the same people 15 years later; we’re better, we’re even more in love…with God and with each other. That is definitely something to celebrate! Click here for the Packing for Possibilities” story. We’re blessed to share it.

What made to be a really fun part of our year was that our children assumed we weren’t going on a family vacation since we went on a couple’s trip. Unbeknownst to them, we had secretly booked our annual Disney trip and had plans underway, details lined out and reservations made. We hadn’t been to Disney WORLD in almost five years and we surprised them the morning we left. That story and the video of the surprise are also here on the blog titled, “The Best Kept Secret” and “I’m So Jealous”. The surprise, the trip, the time together was nothing less than magical.

Brandon continues on with his engineering work at Quanta and I continue to love on the sick babies through my nursing ministry in the NICU. We frequently express how much we love what we do. And the Lord continues to stretch us and give us vision. We share our lives through blogging and pursue the plans God has through a variety of speaking opportunities. He has opened doors with nursing schools, elementary schools, women’s groups and churches. Using our story to educate on the different facets of patient care, to address bullying and the importance of a healthy self-image, to motivate, challenge and inspire, as well as helping people examine their purpose and the power of being an overcomer has been fulfilling, healing and challenging in a way only the Lord could orchestrate. Please consider how our story could be used in your special events, workshops, seminars, classes or churches.  Visit the Speaking Events page for details and contact information. We ask for your prayers as we follow His leading in growing this endeavor.

Our year certainly wouldn’t have been what it was without the people we shared it with. We want to thank all of you who supported us to reach our annual $500 March of Dimes goal for 2014. Our family joined fellow Saint Francis NICU co-workers and their families for the walk. Looking toward the 2015 walk this spring, we once again, ask you to consider making a donation to this organization which blesses so many families in getting their sick babies home. click here to donate

More magical moments included getting to take the kids to their very first college football game. We got to see Oklahoma State win over Iowa State at the October 4th home game. Over Mother’s Day weekend we headed to Chicago for our nephew, Charlie’s baby dedication. It was a fast trip, but a celebration we couldn’t miss. Other family moments included time with our England family, Pam & John, when they visited in September and then in October with my cousin Austin and her girls, Taylor and Maddy. Brief time yet cherished memories.

Whatever it is 2015 may hold, we pray you are blessed as you see His hand at work orchestrating your very own fairy tale.

There’s nothing more magical than feeling His love,

Brandon, Heather,

Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden, & Gavin Meadows

and Daisy Mae, Libby Lou & Callie Rae too!

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Comfort in Support

Sometimes we get things we don’t even know we need. What a perfect topic to cover at Christmas. There are so many different gift-giving approaches. • There’s the giver who buys something for someone, because they mentioned how they needed it or wanted it. • There’s the giver who buys something because it’s an item the giver themselves loves so much and they just imagine the receiver loving it equally the same. • There’s the giver who wants to completely surprise the receiver with something they know the person needs, but maybe never asked for it or mentioned it.

I’ve been in all the above situations.

When it comes to Christmas or Birthdays, I love wish lists. Some people find it offensive, but I find it to be incredibly efficient! It’s seamless picking out an item you know your loved one really wants. And then to see them open it??? Well, that right there is absolutely fabulous! There’s such excitement and joy.

Then, there have been items I so much enjoy that I want to get them for people I love. Like PETALS Strawberry Pepper Jam (, or a Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint Candle, or a gift card for a pedicure. You know…some of those little indulgences we don’t always spend the money for ourselves?

I’ve been more on the receiving end of the last item in question. I think back to our wedding and to when we were beginning to have our babies. Yes, we registered; however, there were so many items we never knew we needed. But our loved ones sure did. And they gave them. Included were both treasured pieces and practical items; things I couldn’t have imagined going without.

While I’ve given gifts that I didn’t personally love, but gave because the receiver did; and while I’ve also given gifts from a wish list, there’s one in particular I specifically remember giving several years ago; it was one that was never requested, but I bought it anyway. My Dad-in-law is a homebuilder/remodeler, so I gave him a painting of Jesus as a boy, and his father Joseph the carpenter. Although he had never requested the piece, he was delighted to receive it. I feel I was the one to end up with the gift; for the memory, and for how my heart is touched every time I’m in his office and see it hanging on the wall. I bought it for him, not because he’s my husband’s father, but because of my own love for him and my own knowledge of those things dear to his heart.

carpenter shop

Well, here it is, the time of year we put so much focus on gifts and I’ve received what Jesus knows is the greatest gift in my life, those most dear to my heart; people.

Everyone has struggles. There’s power in identifying them; then we don’t feel captive to them. And one thing I know about myself is I am a people person. Being around others inspires me, refreshes me and rejuvenates me. As you can imagine, having two surgeries within thirty days of each other really took me out of the loop. Like all the loops, my kids’ activities loop, my work loop, my church loop, my friends loop. It was kind of nice the first go around. I rested, I read, I caught up on all my favorite shows, but as I mentioned in “Why, Oh Why,” I hadn’t planned for this last procedure, so I wasn’t eager to sit around several weeks on top of already sitting around. Sitting. And laying. And sitting. And laying. Blah.

I’m very sensitive to the seeds of depression, because I’ve been there. And I know isolation is the growth media for depression. So having already a month of retreat, I felt the dread in my heart of having more. Everything in moderation. Right? We all need time of solitude, but too much of anything is not a good thing. Therefore, I shamelessly and somewhat pitifully invited, welcomed, asked, or maybe even begged for visitors and company; choose to insert whichever word to describe it, different moments appropriately apply. However, I believe it takes strength to identify our weaknesses, and it makes us even stronger to protect ourselves against them.

There can be such beauty in humility. Such value in vulnerability. Such fulfillment in openness. Although, I could have kept this next procedure quietly to myself, as I do some, I shared it and in return received the gift of what is written:

Philemon 1:7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

The Lord uses people to GIVE-- whether it's wrapped or not, we get gifts so often. Those gifts of joy and comfort are just what I needed. It’s lonely sometimes. It can be scary. It feels painful. And I’m speaking to you, dear friend. I could write this for myself in my own little journal, without regard for sentence variety or structure, but I write this for you. Because you sometimes feel lonely. You sometimes feel scared and are in pain; all the many different types of pain. But I encourage you to find comfort, even if you have to ask for it.

This last surgery, my Aunt Donna walked into my hospital room with a symbol of comfort. It was Mouse! No, I’m not referring to the classy mouse who can so perfectly don polka dots and big yellow shoes, because you know how much The Meadows love that mouse too. But no, this was Mouse, the Puffalump Aunt Donna got for me when I was originally injured back in 1988. Mouse went with me to most of my surgeries. She’d sit at the foot of my bed when we’d roll back and she’d have a hat, a mask, and yes, sometimes even surgical booties. She was such a source of comfort to me. And having Mouse sitting in my hospital room this time, kept me thinking, “Wow! How far we’ve come. How much has changed.” “Just a stuffed animal,” one may be inclined to think, but I see a focal point, a focal point of comfort.


And then let’s talk about the people! Oh my! My precious husband, at my side; one tech sweetly described him as “hovering.” He’s so protective, and although he doesn’t don an outfit of armor, he is most definitely my knight. And the kids. Their world is so expanded by the experiences they’ve had with me as their mom. They were born into the story and although they’ve observed some unpleasant and even grotesque sites, I pray it’s been an advantage to develop them into the people God intends them to be. And my Mom and my Aunt, those women who have walked this very long road and still show no signs of weariness in their support and their pride for the survivor they desired me to become.


Bits of comfort walked through my door the next day. When I was mentally preparing myself to spend the day alone, as I knew my husband would have to be in the office and my children at school. God sent His gifts, my nursing school friend, Misty and her little boy Jeremiah. More followed: my friend, mentor and previous professor at OU, Rhonda Lawes, spending the afternoon with me sharpening me, challenging me both spiritually and intellectually.


Then my team! For a girl who has NO athletic ability, I love referring to my co-workers as my team, because we demonstrate qualities that make a team great, which in turn is not only vitally beneficial for our patients, but rewarding to us as friends. Carrie, Haley, Carly and Molly spruced up my day with gifts in hand and laughter of heart. Oh what comfort! What joy! As if the Lord hadn’t packed in enough comfort I so desired, my in-laws topped it off by bringing us dinner. My Dad-in-law observing how I was drifting off, mentioned how he felt it was time for them to go so I could rest. And I told him no, because although I could hardly stay awake, I just wanted to hear their voices. Comfort.


The next day, my precious friends Beverly and Michele, women I admire and feel strengthened just with their presence and conversation. Comfort. That afternoon, even my cousin, brought me my very first eggnog malt from Braum’s. Acts of comfort.


After coming home, I had a full week of meals provided from friends. Truly it was the hand of Jesus extended; meeting basic needs in the most personal way. And after a week of love poured out, my best friend, Amber of over twenty years came to take care of me. Even getting on to me, as any best friend would, for my determination to attend my co-worker’s wedding, an event I couldn’t miss for the deep admiration I have for her as a person, as a young woman, and as a nurse. Some moments just can’t be missed.




Not a day has gone by without a call from someone. And even several visits. Personal, come to my house kind of visits. People, I don’t live by anything. Not one person who came to visit, popped by on their way to run errands or Christmas shop, they intentionally came to visit. Like my precious, precious, dearest friend, Heather who shared an entire day, seriously, an entire day with me, right before she was suppose to be leaving for a road trip to Massachusetts. Comfort.


You may think I’ve named everyone. I haven’t. It’d be a book. And that’s just from this one procedure. This one procedure that I feel I’ve done a million times. In almost twenty-seven years, I imagined people eventually running dry on concern and compassion. I mean. It’s not like it’s life threatening at this point. It’s just another toggle mark on the count, another one under the belt. It’s an investment in furthering the immense quality of life I’ve been able to experience. But above all, what I've had the privilege of receiving is so much love; love which never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.


We all may think we know what we want. We all may have an idea of what gift would benefit or suit us best. My lesson? Maybe we do sometimes. I’m so glad I opened the door for people to share love. I needed it. I needed to feel comfort and friendship and joy and laughter. If I had made a list, it would have had, “visitors and conversation” on it. God knew exactly what I needed and He has provided.


If you committed your time to read this post, please let the scripture take root in your heart. You may need to allow others to refresh you, and you may need to flat out ask for it. On the other side, you may be just what someone needs. Oh, it might seem like you’re not doing much by picking up the phone, but that conversation may be more timely than you could have thought or imagined.

Love. Joy. Comfort. Kindness. Refreshed. Those are gifts. On the list or not; those are gifts.

Philemon 1:7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.


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Why, Oh Why?

Last night I packed for a trip. I’ll be gone for three to five days. And while I know I’ll be taken good care of, I’m not too excited about going. But I grabbed items which bring me comfort and encouragement; my soft navy blue polar fleece blanket, I’ll take my pillow before leaving, and I packed three pictures from my house; one of our trip to Hawaii, one of our last visit to see Mickey, and one of us from last year taken at home by our fence. The photos help me focus on what I have, over what I’ve lost. Has their been loss? Immense. Has their been pain? Excruciating. But I’ve experienced a far greater portion of joy, peace and happiness. And that is what gripped my heart as I was pulling out of my doctor’s office last week after scheduling today’s surgery. Before my most recent surgery, I had a very small area of scar tissue tear on my back. This was a reoccurring problem after my injury during the rehabilitating years, and on into my adolescence as my body was growing from that of a child to an adult. However, this was a scenario I no longer anticipated having over twenty-six years later. Regardless, it had to be addressed, so when my surgeon came in to do surgical markings for the last operation, I asked him if we could have an “adder” and take care of that area. He examined it. He then informed me it would be more than a simple release of scar tissue. He said the dreaded words, “We need to do a skin graft.” Yuck. To say those are painful is a bit of an understatement. It’s surprising to some when I explain that it’s not even the area released which causes such discomfort as it is the donor site.

Addressing the issue is always more than the obvious. Having another surgery this year was not in this planner’s plan. It meant making arrangements for the kids, missing activities with them, along with all the holiday parties during my most favorite time of year, and, it meant regrouping my commitments at work. I was bummed. I was frustrated. I was disappointed. Those emotions came in to check quickly.

I left my doctor’s office, pulled out on Utica, stopped at the light, and began crying. Through my tears, I sang, “Thank you, Lord. I just want to thank you. I just want to thank you. I just want to take a little time right now, and say, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ for all You’ve done for me.” It’s a minor inconvenience to spend the last part of my year recovering from what is, yes, a highly unpleasant procedure, but not a complicated one with uncertain outcomes. This trip to the hospital and stay in the burn center won’t necessarily be fun, but it will all be okay. In consideration of this beautiful life God has provided me to live, it’s petty to complain about it, even to grumble about it in my own heart.

The “why such emotion and tears” thought may arise. Why cry? Why sob? It was out of my immense gratitude and deep conviction, because there were so many, many times I begged the Lord to allow me to die. I didn’t want to live a life in this body. I didn’t want to walk the road ahead of me. I didn’t understand why I lived and my brother died. I couldn’t imagine a future for me. I didn’t have life experience to help me reason it out, and even at that, I don’t know if I would have ever been able to find reason. I didn’t have coping skills to work through the physical, emotional and psychological trauma. I asked God, “Why?” I prayed prayers, “Please let me come to Heaven and be with you, let me see Jon. I don’t want to live here.” For years, I mean for years I prayed like this. What came out of it wasn’t pretty, but necessary. Much of what I felt, I internalized. Being the brave little girl was a role assigned to me early, and one I felt I had to uphold. Which is why an eating disorder was the outlet for me to channel my emotion privately. The path was ugly, depression was as real as the sun in the sky, but a light I couldn’t see.

But the uglier it got the more I cried out to my God. And the entire time, all those years, He was listening. All those years, all that time, He had a plan. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude that He didn’t allow me to die, not from the physical trauma of that tragic accident, and neither from the emotional wounds thereafter. No, He held me. He never let go. And He was speaking, “Heather, I have a plan, to prosper you and not harm, to give you hope and a future.” He was saying, “All things work together for those who are called according to My purposes, and my child, I have a purpose for your life.”

I am going on this trip today. I am going to be back in the place where it all began so many years ago. I’m going to stand in awe of what the precious people there did to save my life. I’m going to meet some new faces, learn some new names and thank them for caring for people like me, whose lives are forever changed, but whose lives are always worth living, because God is greater, His ways are higher and His plans are perfect.

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.

Psalm 18:6


*scriptures mentioned: Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28

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Give Me a Break

There was a commercial back in the ‘90s with a catchy tune, which sang, “give me a break, give me break; break me off a piece of that….” Do you remember it? Of course you do! “Break me off a piece of that KitKat bar!” From a brief Internet search, I learned the KitKat was originally launched in London in 1935. Who knew KitKats had been around so long? When I think of KitKats, I think of my Grandma Cochrane, my Dad’s mom, who always kept a stash of them in the crisper of her fridge. I think I ate enough of them as a kid to last my lifetime. These memories came back to me after a discussion with my oldest son. Jaron has had a desire to play football since he was little. His Dad and I agreed 3rd grade would be more of an ideal age to begin playing. Well, when 3rd grade arrived, Jaron had been invited to join a soccer team. I may have played that up a bit much since I was still concerned about his size and him signing up for a high impact sport. While I gave it my best efforts to guide him toward soccer, his Dad was respectably neutral and we left the decision up to Jaron. He chose to play another year of soccer. Then 4th grade rolled around and we completely missed the sign-ups. We tried our best to get him on a team, but it didn’t happen. To further complicate the situation, we barely got him back in soccer. Needless to say, it was a monumental parent fail. But he was so gracious and understanding.

By the spring of this year we were signed up for football! Well, Jaron was signed up, and incredibly excited! July arrived and he got his pads and helmet, the excitement escalating. And then practices started! Wow! This was official now. No more throwing the football around at recess. This was the real deal.

Jaron was placed in a variety of positions to determine where he’d best suit the team. One thing, they decided he was a good punter. Seems all those seasons of soccer was a benefit in that area. But they also had him playing tight end and quarterback.

Now. Let me take a brief moment and state a disclaimer. I don’t know much about sports. My Dad didn’t play….at all. I mean my Dad didn’t have any hobbies. He truly was a workaholic. He didn’t hunt, fish, golf, nothing. Therefore, my encounters with sports have been very limited until my son. I try to keep somewhat close to my husband at the games to ask questions, since I don’t fully know what’s going on. Making goals and touchdowns I understand, but the technicalities, rules and positions, I need a little help with. But I am learning. I enjoyed soccer more with every passing season. Baseball has been a lot of fun too. Hearing the sound of the bat sending the ball across the field is exhilarating. Basketball is INTENSE! Man, now that’s a game that can change at the drop of a dime. So suspenseful, but I absolutely loved watching. Now here we are with football. There’s nothing more Oklahoman than football in the fall. We’re all so thrilled to be a part of it, even though some of us have a little more to learn than others; it’s equally as exciting.

The anticipation for the first scrimmage was high. Jaron had literally waited years to play. For a ten year old, that feels like a lifetime. He played his position as tight end, he fulfilled his role as punter and then he got put in as quarterback. The play started. Before any time, he was sacked. Then another play. Sacked again. Then another. Sacked.

When we got in the car we passed headphones out to the other three kids and put on a movie. I said, “Jaron, Dad is concerned about how you played, but I’m your Mom and I want to know how you feel.” I thought my heart was going to fall out of my chest when I heard his answer. My son who is always eager to learn, driven to succeed, striving to shine, answered in the most solemn tone, “Like I shouldn’t have signed up.” With much prompting to share his thoughts, he began to express how it was his fault the plays were incomplete. He felt entirely responsible for the defeat. He felt like a total failure. It was so discouraging listening to his perception that he shouldn’t have even tried.

You may be thinking, “Oh, poor guy.” But you do it to yourself too! We all do. It came together for me while listening to him speak. I had just done it the week before. My recertification for NRP didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked. No worries. I’m recertified. But I had higher expectations for myself. I left with dreadful thoughts about my abilities as a neonatal nurse. It’s like if we don’t perform as a star then we aren’t good enough to participate. GIVE ME A BREAK! Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?

My son neglected to remember he had an entire team on the field. He felt solely responsible for the results of the scrimmage. I overlooked the fact that four other people were participating in our mock code. I accepted feelings of inadequacy. And why? Did anyone imply those judgments? No. We did it to ourselves.

It’s good to desire improvement. My resolution to my internal frustration was purchase my own material, consistently study and make the information solid, like my favorite dish in which I no longer even need the recipe to make. That happens with constant interaction with the material. The same goes with anything in life. You study what you want to know, what you want to become. And we encouraged Jaron to do the same thing. Watch more football games. Study your plays. Ask the coach questions.

Again. It’s good to desire improvement, but stop beating yourself up. Give yourself a break. Give your all, and when it’s not enough, go back to the drawing board, regroup, come up with another plan or approach. But give yourself a break.

Even those considered “go getters” can get sacked so many times it causes them to feel like failures and therefore feel like giving up. I truly believe that the greatest, grandest and most meaningful plans the Lord has for our lives are going to come with maximum challenge and will require our utmost determination, strength and fortitude; found only in Him.

You see, when we confront our limitations, it doesn’t mean we can’t succeed; it means we identify the source to succeed. Give yourself a break! Put your reliance on the Source, the Creator of the goals and desires springing from your heart.

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 NLT


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Give a Little Honey

When searching “The Benefits of Honey,” multiple websites resulted, laying claim to the use of honey in treating allergies, aiding in sleep, enhancing athletic performance, and even treating wounds, such as burns. The same search through Google Scholar provided many articles on the subject. I’m skeptical of the grandiose claims. I eat honey simply because it tastes sweet; any added benefit is icing on the cake. However, there is another type of sweetness that is undoubtedly good for the body, and the soul. The sweetness found in kind words. New nurses don’t anticipate receiving too much “honey.” There’s not too many opportunities to hear encouraging words, especially from physicians. Why? Because there hasn’t been enough experience to really benefit the team. Hard workers? Yes. But savvy clinicians? Not quite. It’s a time when the team is investing. It is a time when the doctor, the respiratory therapist and when fellow nurses are helping that new nurse connect the dots from textbook to practice.

There are occasions when the unexpected and unanticipated words of affirmation are spoken. I remember two.

The first was when I was working night shift. This was about three months into my new nursing career. I was taking care of a baby who had a tracheoesophageal fistula and esophageal atresia. The baby’s temperature had steadily increased throughout the night, along with the respiratory rate, and the baby just seemed different. I spoke with several nurses, and fact of the matter was I knew I needed to call our neo. No problem, right? Hardly. It was approaching three in the morning and I knew I would wake him up. And then what if he was mad because maybe my concerns were misinterpreted? Regardless, I had to call.

I punched my “neo on call” button and the line began to ring. That awkward moment of identifying yourself and then pausing for the person on the other end of the line to wake up took place; I wonder if it’s something I would have gotten use to had I continued on night shift. I informed him of the infant’s status. He began to ask questions, which caused me to feel even more terrified. I was calling him with questions, I gave him the only bits of information I had. So I thought. That sweet doctor asked, “The baby went to radiology today, right?” I said, “Right.” He said, “Well, it could be the contrast causing the change, do you think?” I said, “I’m sorry, I have no idea.” He said, “It could be the contrast or he could be septic. How do we know?” Again, I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Well, we don’t. So we better get a CBC and blood culture.” I took the order and proceeded with the lab. That morning he made his rounds and wrote orders for antibiotic therapy because the baby’s white count was elevated along with the fever and respiratory rate. He said, “Good job! You caught that!” What???? Me???? Wow! I sure wasn’t expecting that, and I surely will never forget it.

Another instance occurred about a year into my nursing career. I was on day shift at this point. My assignment was a one-on-one. In critical care, we know that’s not so good. The baby had NEC and the bowel had perforated. At the point I had the baby the abdominal cavity was somewhat open with retention sutures, the baby was being treated for sepsis, was on a JET and was down right very, very sick. I was drawing frequent blood gases. When the results printed for one in particular, I thought, “No way. This can’t be right.” When I handed the results to the baby’s neonatologist I said, “I think there must be an operator error.” She chuckled a little and then said, “No, you did it right. This baby is very sick.”

I administered countless meds, we had x-rays, gave blood, ran gases and I can’t even remember everything else. What I do remember is I had a realization that this baby could die. With each task and every intervention, I prayed. I prayed for a miraculous work in her body. I prayed the Lord would make Himself known to everyone involved in her care by the supernatural touch she so desperately needed. And the other thing I remember is walking out that day. I was exhausted and the baby was not stable. I had given my all and it just didn’t seem like enough. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling too great. And that is when those sweet words, like honey, fell upon my ears. Dr. Malik, sitting at the computer, didn’t look up but said, “You did a good job today, Heather.” I didn’t even know she knew my name! And I surely didn’t feel like I had made much of a difference. But her words made a deposit in my heart giving me the tenacity to come back and do it all over again.

I would love for every physician to know how much of an encouragement they can be to their nurses and what a difference it makes in the work environment. Nurses are going to give their best regardless, because it’s all about the patient, but nothing is stronger than unity. And when everyone is united, the moments of teaching and instruction are well received, the inhibition to ask questions is removed and the security of the team benefits the whole reason we are there…the patient.

Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” I’m deeply grateful for the opportunities to work with physicians like Dr. Anderson and Dr. Malik who took a moment to speak kind words. While those moments likely fade from their memory, they will never leave mine.


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My Heart Judged

I love birthdays! And today is mine. It’s inevitable my Mom and I will sit and visit about memories that only she can recall; the actual day of my birth.  I recall the celebrations.

Mom was just reminiscing back to my 9th birthday.  We had traveled to Van Buren, Arkansas to see family friends.  Doyle Williams, the dad, and my Dad were the best of friends.  Their friendship provided for the bond that was formed with the mom, Linda, and their two girls Sara and Leslie.  We spent time together more like cousins.  And my 9th birthday wasn’t the first one we had celebrated together, but it was a special one to celebrate, because it was nearly two years post motorcycle accident, meaning it was also after the death of my brother, Jon.  Birthdays were always special, but became even more precious to us after being impacted by my brother’s death almost two years earlier, when he was only nine years old.


Many people have difficulty with birthdays, because birthdays mean aging.  And aging is synonymous with decline.  My family loves to joke. I grew up with many one-liners.  My Dad was quite witty and would get a laugh at the most unpredictable moments.  I guess you could say that laughter was our medicine.  And even though my Mom says this as a joke, there’s much truth in her words regarding birthdays, “It’s better than the alternative.”  Kind of adjusts the view on aging.

But our bodies were never meant to last forever.  The Lord never intended for this to be it.  Hebrews 13:14 (NLT), “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”  Makes me want to sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.”

What makes birthdays so grand?  What makes birthdays so special? Well, it’s not the day.  It’s not the birthday occasion alone.  People make birthdays special.  Our family and our friends create the celebration.  Without them, March 23rd is just another day on the calendar.

I asked Caden, my seven year-old what makes birthdays special.  He answered, “Getting new things; spending time with my family; and having a party.”  This prompted me to reflect back on my most memorable birthdays.

Like the one I had in the 8th Grade, my 14th birthday.  The day began as every other, me in my bathroom, with the radio blaring, getting ready for school.  I didn’t have too many birthdays in school, as many of them landed on spring break.  But this particular year, I was in school, and it was my first year at my new school.  During my morning routine, the DJ all of a sudden gave a shout out to a girl who had gotten a ton of calls to wish a happy birthday….Heather Cochrane! Oh my goodness!  Then I got a call from another radio station before school with a birthday giveaway someone had submitted my name for.  WOW!  Once at school, my classmates made the day incredibly special.  I got cards, like the one from my friend Brandon King, who was a funny guy.  He gave me a “custom made” card by crossing out the word “Graduate,” so it would read, “Especially for you, Heather.”  At the end of the day, a boy in my American History class stopped by my locker and gave me a note.  This boy had hardly ever said anything to me.  I waited to open the note and when I did, twenty dollars fell out and I read words that illustrated to me the reality of others observation.  Wes Johnson stated the fact that we didn’t know each other very well, but when he found out it was my birthday he wanted to give me something.  Although we never really spoke, he had evidently observed me enough to draw conclusions, and those appeared to be positive ones.  Wes died from injuries sustained in a four-wheeler accident a year later.  His words impacted my life to be intentional with others.  He taught me you never know whose watching you and whose life you may be impacting.

My 30th birthday was incredibly memorable.  I was once again in school, but not at all happy about it.  I had signed up for a 3 to 11 clinical rotation.  My clinical instructor was well worth the late schedule.  She laid a strong foundation for my development as a nurse.  But March 23rd 2011, I was bummed about being away from my kids while they were at school during the day and away from them that evening too.  I really had to get my thoughts and heart in the right place to get to clinical that day.  While there, my friend told me someone had sent flowers to the floor for me.  They were from my sweet hubby!  Later in the evening, everyone was ready to head down to eat dinner.  Our group had mentioned early in the semester that we should all eat at Subway for the birthdays, but I had brought my lunch and insisted that we did not need to go for me.  But my friends insisted more, and we headed down to the hospital’s Subway.  When we walked in, there was my family!!!  They were all there; all of them, my husband, my Mom, my Aunt Donna, and my Mom-in-law and Dad-in-law.  My husband had coordinated with my precious friend, Kari Murphy and she arranged it with my clinical instructor, Ms. BDub, and the entire group!  They were all in on it and I was completely surprised and it was the best birthday ever!  Here I was having this milestone birthday and I didn’t think I’d even get to see my husband or kids all day, but there they were!  It brings such joy to my heart still!


I couldn’t tell you the presents I unwrapped on these two very memorable birthdays.  But I still experience the joy and happiness those birthdays brought to my heart.  The greatest gift I was given was how others made me feel.  One of my favorite quotes is from The Wizard when he says, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”―L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  It’s so catchy.  I see the relevance of that statement in occasions such as birthdays.  The love I feel from each hug, from each wish, from each Facebook message, from the mere fact that others realize it’s my birthday and want to take a moment to acknowledge it, is insurmountable.

Today, my thirty-third birthday, my prayer is found in Psalm 39:4 (NLT),“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered- how fleeting my life is.”

Today, my thirty-third birthday, my heart rejoices with thanks for YOU……

For you, my family.

For you, my friends.

For you, my faithful readers.

For you who love me and support me, who challenge me and sharpen me, who celebrate these special times………much love and thanks to you!

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The Cold Came

Every year, around this time, I have a visitor.  This visitor brings some nasal congestion and a sore throat.  No biggie.  I was on my game and started with my Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold and Cough when I encountered the first sign of symptoms upon awakening for work this past Sunday morning.  Over the next few days I experienced additional symptoms, sneezing, runny nose and coughing.  Now, four days later I have the predictable outcome of the common cold, laryngitis. Although I detest the effects of having a respiratory virus, I’m grateful that it’s come on my once a month, eight-day stretch off.  What causes healthy adults and children to feel cruddy, can be devastating to infants who already have respiratory insufficiencies.  Which is what I hope is at the forefront of every visitor’s mind before coming to see a baby in the NICU.  And it’s the bulldog NICU nurse that screens those visitors to protect the tiny patients.  It’s called advocacy.  And it’s what my children brought to mind this evening.

My children?  Yes.  You see my children were my voice today.  Without even being asked, they began to relay the messages I was straining to communicate.  I couldn’t get above a whisper to ask Caden to put his shoes up.  Jaron did.  I couldn’t notify Brooklyn to come down to dinner.  Caden did.  I couldn’t holler for the dogs to come in.  Brooklyn did.  And even Gavin, offered to take my assigned night, to pray over dinner.  Yes, we have assigned days to pray over meals.  We had to resort to that several years ago because my children were so eager to ask the blessing.  I’d like to think it was due to their deep desire to connect with their Creator, but I’m not convinced that was the case.  Nevertheless, we assigned days to deter from who’s turn it was, and tonight was Mama’s night to pray, but Mama couldn’t speak.

My kids aren’t the only ones in my life who use their voice when there is none.  I grew up with a mother who did and does the same.  It’s evident that my Mom has a sensitivity to animals, babies and the elderly.  I’ve heard her say countless times that she can handle people being ugly, as long it’s directed to someone who can stand up for themselves.  But those identified can’t.  It’s why she gets involved when she observes such injustices.  My Mom isn’t a nurse, but she displays the greatest characteristic of a nurse.  Advocating for others. She won’t back down for what she knows is right; a noble characteristic of the nurse who advocates for their patient.

Nurses speak for patients.  They provide for the needs of those who can’t care for themselves.  They don’t simply clock in and clock out.  They assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate for the entire twelve-hours or longer.  It takes backbone.  It takes heart. It takes endurance. And it’s the greatest job in the world.

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

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A Really Weird Dream

A few nights ago I had a disturbing and very strange dream.  In my dream, I was getting ready to go somewhere.  The surroundings I recall are unfamiliar to me, so I know I wasn’t at home.  While getting ready, someone ran in to tell me there was a huge bug in the other room.  I assured I’d get it.  I quickly finished what I was doing and put on a pair of cute tall-heeled black boots to complete my outfit.  (The boots were familiar to me, as they were the ones my sweet hubby gave me for Christmas.) I walked into the other room thinking I’d take care of the bug.  (This is where the dream turns into some weird oldies sci-fi theme movie.)  But the bug was massive.   It was somewhat resemblance of a cricket.  It was black, standing upright and had huge tentacles.  I assessed the situation to be dangerous and concluded that there was no way I could fight that bug in the heels I was wearing.  I determined I was inadequately dressed to overcome the bug without risking injury to myself.  Someone else stepped up to the task and that’s where my dream ended.

Weird, huh?  Well, I didn’t exactly dismiss the dream as you might assume.  Throughout getting ready for work and driving in, I had this disappointed feeling in myself.  I wondered why I didn’t dream that I saved the day.  I wondered why I was such a coward.  I wondered why I backed down and allowed someone else to do what I said I was going to do.  I shared my dream and my thoughts with my husband and he asked, “So, what’s your bug?”

Hmm.  What is my bug?  Maybe it was that I had recently had one of my own patient’s code, and that I wasn’t as proactive and take-charge as I imagined I’d be.  Instead it felt like a fog, like everything was moving really slowly, as if in a dream.  My little patient was stabilized within minutes, but it seemed like hours.  The moment has replayed in my mind repeatedly.  While I know no super nurse runs a code alone, nor alone, saves the day, I still felt disappointed in myself.  Despite mock codes, the real deal had me feeling like I wasn’t adequately prepared.  Maybe that’s the bug from my dream.

Or maybe it’s this blog.  My presence here has been a source of some very personal and hurtful attacks.  It conjures up thoughts, like: “It’s not worth it.”  “I don’t really have anything special or unique to offer.”  “What, if any, difference am I making?”  I mean, don’t people follow blogs to get recipes and craft ideas, or political views and scholarly opinions?  I don’t have anything to contribute in those categories.  Even though I continue to grow from my investments here and learn from fellow bloggers, I again, still confront inadequacy, so maybe that’s the bug from my dream.

In my dream, I found the bug to be quite scary.  So, if either of these instances are symbolic of my bug, why would I willingly continue to put myself in situations that are sometimes scary?  The answer is for the same reason why any of us do what we do; it is to make a difference.  I have no idea if anything I have to offer in my work, in my writings or in my speaking is worth merit, but God does.  And I know that He can’t use what I won’t give Him, but He can use what I do.  I’ll never know if I don’t offer it.  And these are what I give to Him.  I continue to walk in obedience and trust that despite my shortcomings, despite my fear and despite my inadequacies, HE makes the difference.

There are so many unknowns.  And for someone who always likes to have a plan, the unknowns can be scary.  But it can also be exciting.  Each day ahead holds possibility.  Therefore, let us have an excitement over the wonder and possibility God has in store for our lives.  Each of us are unfinished; allow Him to direct the ending.  The best part is coming!

Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)~ Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.

Excited about the upcoming movie in which Celine sings this theme song, Unfinished Songs, written by the talented Diane Warren

So you're thinking it's ending But it's only just begun Your whole life is there right Right in front of you Life's a story that is all twists and turns All that matters is the lessons we learn

'Cause we're all unfinished songs Waiting for the best part to come along Hey hey And we're all pictures half drawn We can be anything we want Hey hey

Now is your time It's your life No one's living it but you In your hands is your chance to live the life you choose

Life's like music There's so much still unsung Make it magic There's so much still to come

'Cause we're all unfinished songs Waiting for the best part to come along Hey hey And we're all pictures half drawn We can be anything we want Hey hey

You can write the song and write the story Live all of this life in all its glory Take the time to make the time to make each moment count It's your life It's your call Grab the chance Have it all

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The Gift of a Positive Outlook

Many of us are spending some time this evening reflecting back on 2013, thankful for the memories, or perhaps wishing things had gone a bit differently.  There may be some time set aside in how we plan to approach the next year.  My husband and I sit down each year and make plans for the next.  We map out how we plan to use our time, what we intend to do with our kids, what area of ministry we plan to serve and where we want to direct our money.  In other words, New Years provides a time to regroup and perhaps, redirect our focus.  How we approach that is entirely up to us. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my daughter a couple of years ago.  Brooklyn had had the most fabulous fifth grade year.  Her teachers made the school days interesting and fun; the students were friendly, polite and had an encouraging dose of enthusiasm for their time at school.  Brooklyn couldn’t imagine it could get any better.

The night before her sixth grade year started, she shared those very thoughts with me.  We discussed how blessed she was to have experienced such a wonderful school year in fifth grade, but that sixth grade could be just as good, if not better.  She wasn’t convinced.  She couldn’t see it being any better, nor nearly as good as what she had.  She just didn’t think it was possible.  I spoke with her about our outlook.  If she had already determined in her heart that sixth grade wasn’t going to be as fun as fifth, then it wouldn’t; but God could have even more wonderful things in store for her new school year.  And He did!  She absolutely loved sixth grade. What a great life lesson to learn so early.

My daughter’s thoughts weren’t immature though.  They were human.  But I believe as adults, we may be inclined to see it in the other direction.  It can be hard to imagine things getting better when we’re living in the muck and mire of a difficult time.  Life circumstances can be downright brutal.  However, if those realities consume our thoughts, we’ll never see brighter days.

I was honored to have met a man who illustrated the characteristic of a positive outlook.  Nate Waters sustained a spinal cord injury at the age of 19 from an altercation with his mother’s boyfriend.  Due to the resulting diagnosis of quadriplegia, Nate was dependent on nursing home care for over ten years.  At a time when most young people are discovering life and the world, Nate was attempting to accomplish tasks most of us take for granted.  But none of this kept him from pursuing his best.  Even a doctor telling him he would never have the use of his arms or legs prevented him from attaining his goals.

Nate could have spent the rest of his life in bitterness and anger.  He could have accepted the limitations many associate with his diagnosis.  He could have, but he didn’t.  Nate didn’t focus on the injury or the unfairness.  Nate Waters had unwavering determination, immeasurable optimism, and immense drive.  Those characteristics were noted from everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.

This amazing man made no excuses.  He graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University.  He worked at Williams as an accountant and gave back to his community through his involvements in fundraising and public speaking.  He seized every opportunity meeting political leaders like Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford, Rudolph Guiliani and Colin Powell.  A dear friendship was formed between Nate and T. Boone Pickens who was instrumental in helping Nate reach the goal of independent living.  Nate had his own home, could make his bed, brush his teeth, do his own laundry and partially dress his self.  Although he needed nursing assistance, it didn’t limit his drive or his attitude.  The immense progress he experienced in his rehabilitation gave him great optimism in his on-going efforts to recover.  None of which would have been possible had he not been determined to think optimistically and try for what others deemed impossible.

Nate Waters passed away April 20, 2013 at the age of 35.  Nate touched countless lives and I’m deeply grateful mine was one of them.  He inspires me to dream big and continually strive for what is beyond my reach.

In the New Year, let us glean from Paul’s words:

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

May we let go of what is behind….

May we press on…..

May we have an optimistic outlook knowing the One who calls us….

Happy New Year!!!!

~~ Nate Waters~~

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The Gift of Belonging

Every group I’ve been a part of started with some anticipation of not being received.  It must be a little natural to assume the possibility of not fitting in.  After all, there was a time in my early adolescence that I couldn’t seem to find my fit.  In the fog of trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be, I had this longing to belong.  It can be a dangerous place for young people; the reason why I’m deeply grateful for how the Lord orchestrated my steps and the people who helped me walk them. I’ve heard people refer to groups as being clicky.  The word carries a very negative portrayal of a cruel, obnoxious group of people.  But that doesn’t necessarily fit all the people who have been labeled as such.  I wonder how many people evaluate a group and conclude that they’re not accepted because they didn’t put themselves out there to take that first step, to face that possibility of rejection or perhaps the wonderful gift of belonging.

I remember my first day working in my unit.  I was super nervous about nursing alone.  I mean, I had the BSN education behind my name and that RN certification, but I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and for some reason I had this fear-- as if I was going to need to resuscitate a baby on my own the first day (I didn't really think that, I just felt THAT nervous).  Coupled with anxiety was concern I wouldn’t be received.  I had signed a two-year contract.  I was committed to this place come rain or shine, and nothing would make that time inch by more than a cold hearted atmosphere.

My approach was to show myself friendly; don’t wait for others to introduce themselves to me; don’t wait for someone to roll out a welcome mat; just put myself out there and start learning this new group of people who were now my co-workers.  I spent the day saying, “Hi.  My name is Heather.  I’m new.”  There’s no telling how many times I shared that bit of information.  Everyone was warmly receptive.  But it wasn’t until I was in the break room and introduced myself to one of the ladies in housekeeping that I was told, “Yes.  I know.  You have a yellow badge.”  Oh my goodness!  My temporary new employee badge was this bright yellow, which screamed, “I’m new!”  And there I had been including that bit of information in my introductions.  So embarrassing, but so funny!

At this time of year when I’m evaluating all the gifts so meaningful to my life, I count the gift of belonging to such an incredible group of health care professionals as one of them.  I work with wonderful people!  And work is only one area.  I’m prompted to reflect on the groups I’ve had the privilege of belonging during the course of my life, the ones that played a role in who I became.

Why does this matter?  Because we all are designed to be loved.  Genesis 1:27 says that we were created in the image of God, and I John 4:8 tells us God is love.  Therefore, we are all geared to be loved.  To be accepted.  To be well received.  Anything less is a wall of protection and fear.

People give meaning to one another.  Being apart of something provides purpose.  The challenge is finding where is our niche.  And thankfully, we have the perfect Navigator to guide and direct us where we will be most effective for Him.  It may take some closed doors, but our ultimate goal is to be right where He wants us when He wants us there.


My Gift of Belonging:

Age 11

Oklahoma Kids ~ George and Rose Earley’s “Rock On” group

This group came along in God’s perfect timing.  I had great difficulty connecting with my peers at school and never felt that I fully re-assimilated with them after my accident.  Once I returned to school, I was constantly in and out for surgeries.  It was like the first day of school several times throughout each year. I just didn’t feel a part.  Then I found I really loved to sing.  I was nervous and shaky getting on stage, but still loved it and wanted to keep doing it.  George and Rose Earley gave their time to drive nearly an hour one way to work with a group of young performers in creating a show titled “Rock On.”  We practiced several nights a week and had shows on the weekends.  I found purpose and meaning during that time.  And above all, I found acceptance.  I experienced the wonderful feeling that comes from the gift of belonging.

My Gift of Belonging:

Age 13

Frontline Youth Ministries ~ Coweta Assembly of God ~ Steve and Michele Lee (click to visit Michele at her blog)

Yes, this was the age that things really started to unravel.  I was increasingly aware of my body, as many young people are at that age. The image I had of myself was very negative.  I detested the scars covering my body.  And insecurity paved the way for me to believe that those scars were what people really saw when they looked at me.  This led me down a path to take control of what I could control- my weight.  And it got ugly and dark.  I experienced that deep place of depression and that spiral fall of an eating disorder.  My youth pastors constantly spoke God’s Word into my heart and challenged me to see myself the way He saw me.  They allowed me to experience what it was to serve in ministry through music, singing praises to Him in our worship services.  It was a long road.  But my youth group provided me warm memories of fun, laughter and purpose through the many activities we shared together.


My Gift of Belonging:

TABS ~ Tulsa Area Burn Survivors

From the time I was injured in 1988 until now, my family has been involved with TABS.  When I was young we had consistent support group meetings, which was a magnificent blessing to my family.  My parents were greatly involved with giving of their time coordinating an annual 5K run, and constantly giving of their hearts, sharing their pain of loss and their obstacles of my recovery.  The time in TABS kept me close to the burn center where I received my care.  Literally.  The meetings were always in the burn center and that consistent return allowed me to see my nurses and meet new ones.  It kept the place that was home for a few months, feeling like home.  And that’s how it remains when I return today.  I’m proud to have the gift of belonging to such strong and brave people.


My Gift of Belonging:

OU College of Nursing

When I started to pursue the calling God had placed in my heart to become a nurse, I did it with complete focus on accomplishing exactly that-- becoming a nurse.  I didn't even consider the possibility of building special friendships with those along the way.  And I got more than friendships from the experience, I got a family.  We spent countless hours together in the classroom, in lab, in study and in clinical.  Nursing school was so taxing on my family.  It was a very difficult two years.  By the time we got to the end I told my husband, "I am so done.  I just want to be finished.  But I'm afraid that when it is, I will miss what has been one of the greatest seasons of my life."  Yes, I did say that it was a very difficult two years AND I said that it was one of the greatest seasons.  And that is because of the people who I spent it with.  Only God could have assembled our group the way He did, and the memories I have, the friendships I carry, the bond we share will be a most treasured gift of my life.


My Gift of Belonging:

My Family

God gave me a custom made group; my lil’ family.  Mark Batterson said something in one of his podcasts along the lines of the people who know you the best should love you the most.  My husband and my children see me.  They see every angle of me; the good, the bad and the ugly.  And they love me.  These people within the walls of the house I live in are my drive, my ambition, my joy, my pride, and they give the greatest meaning and purpose.  God wrapped up a gift in each of them.  I get to belong to them and them to me.  My precious gift.


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The Gift of Life

There are pains I can’t imagine.  Sometimes my thoughts wander that direction.  Sometimes I question myself.  Would I be strong?  Could I endure?  Is my faith secure? One such pain is that of losing a baby.  I remember the emptiness I experienced when we miscarried our second baby.  We had tried for eight months, and after seven weeks of pregnancy, we miscarried.  I had this sense of failure, of guilt and responsibility.  Brandon and I had anticipated having that baby before we even had a confirmed test.  We grieved the life we would never know, the baby we would never hold, the little cry we would never hear.  It was a loss that changed me.  It was a loss that gave me a glimpse to a pain I can’t imagine, carrying a baby, delivering and burying such a small body.

It grips my heart to know and see families endure this pain.  Last week I had the privilege of sharing a time of remembrance and reflection with families who have suffered the loss of their baby.  Each year the labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care unit staff at Saint Francis Hospital holds a service in memory of our babies lost.   I was honored to share the closing at our eighteenth annual Angel Tree Memorial Service.  I sought the Lord for words of hope, comfort and peace.  He was faithful to provide, but it was the time during the service when the families shared their stories that testified to the hope, comfort, peace, strength, endurance and faith only one who has walked that road can share.

A few days before the service, I read an insert in the Tulsa World featuring Life Share Oklahoma stories.  The front story was “Pistol Annie,” written by her mother, Abbey Ahern.  This family had remarkable faith and bravery.  Their precious baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, and they made a decision to give life through her precious life.  Their baby girl passed away 14 hours and 58 minutes after her birth, and became the first newborn infant organ donor in the state of Oklahoma.  Abbey shares their journey through her blog, Tomorrow Will Be Kinder.  There she quotes, Angie Smith, “I gave my deepest hurt to the Father who wanted nothing less than every bit of it.”

It is true that a mother carries her children in her heart forever; however short a time they are given.  Selah sings a song in memory of member Todd Smith’s baby titled, “Audrey’s Song.”  The lyrics reflect the faith and assurance these families display.

“I will carry you.

While your heart beats here

Long beyond the empty cradle

Through the coming years

I will carry you

All my life

And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me

To carry you”

Personally, I know how great of an impact these babies make from the moment they enter our world.  Each staff member who steps in to provide care is touched by that life, and we are deeply grateful to the families who allow us to share those moments with them.

As we enter this Christmas season, and scurry around finding the perfect gift, let us reflect on the One who came to give us the most perfect gift.  Life.  His gift is eternal and His gift gives us the peace to know that one day these families will be reunited where there will be no more pain, or sorrow, or suffering; only life; never ending.

visit to register to be a donor

Audrey's Song:  (Angie Smith shares their story on her blog at

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Holiday Tradition

One of my Dad’s favorite movies was Fiddler on the Roof.  You might be inclined to think my Dad was a fan of musicals.  He wasn’t at all.  My Dad admired the leading character’s value for tradition and family.  Dad had such respect for the customs of the Jewish people, and while there are multiple themes from the story, it was the father’s strong desire to preserve those customs and traditions that made this movie a household favorite. While I didn’t grow up in a home with strong religious customs, we did have, what I would consider, a few traditions.  And those traditions were always associated with this time of year.  My Mom loved to host a big Thanksgiving for our family and friends.  Dad and I would tease her that she wasn’t happy unless fifty people were there.  But there was a bit of truth in it.  Mom loved large gatherings.  On Christmas Eve we always went to my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Roy’s.  Again, it was a large gathering with delicious food.  Everyone would visit and laugh; it was so loud, but with the happiest sounds heard when families come together.  It was the sound of delight to be together, joy in one another’s company, and love.

Seasons change and so did our traditions.  The first big change occurred when my husband and I married and we attempted to blend it all together.  More changes came along with each child.  And the last big change took place when I began working as nurse.  Our holiday festivities are tailored around my unit’s holiday schedule, but it’s an accommodation my family makes out of their support and vision for what I do.

Throughout all the changes, adjustments and accommodations, my husband and I have been able to maintain one tradition we set on our very first Christmas back in 1999.  Cutting down our Christmas tree.  I grew up with an artificial tree, so it was quite exciting to me to experience picking out a tree, tying it to the roof of the car, and bringing it home, smelling the aroma of a fresh tree throughout the Christmas season.

And keeping with tradition, that is what we did yesterday.  We kicked off the Christmas season at the Christmas tree farm.  On the drive, random thoughts filled my mind.  One of them was about the dad who thanked me for taking care of his baby the day before, on Thanksgiving Day.  I spent Thanksgiving maintaining my focus on the fact that I had four healthy children at home.  My shift would end and I would leave to drive home to a relaxing, comforting place.  Many families didn’t have such a blessing this year.  And there was one of them, expressing his thankfulness for people to take care of his sick baby.  It was so touching to me that in the midst of his baby being in intensive care, he acknowledged that I was away from my family to be there with his.

Whichever tradition, whether it was Black Friday shopping with the girls, putting up lights on the house, catching another football game, conjuring up recipes from Thanksgiving leftovers, or getting a Christmas tree, it all comes down to who you spend it with.  Sometimes modifications are required, but it’s a small adjustment to make considering the big picture.

The Grinch had to steal Christmas to think “of something he hadn’t before!

‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.’

‘Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’”

The Whos down in Who-ville still had something to sing about when it was all stripped away.  So whether or not there's lights and presents, food and games, whether it's an official holiday or a postponed gathering, we all have a reason to sing!

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Mean Nurse

There are things we never forget. Those things seem to fall on the far end of the spectrum. You know, those super happy moments, incredibly romantic times, broken-hearted instances, or caught-off-guard encounters. One thing is for sure; moments don’t have to be special to be memorable. Brooklyn remembers a time that we were almost run off the road by an enraged driver. She was about six, Jaron about three and Caden was probably close to a year old. We were coming home from Brooklyn’s dance class when a red Chevy truck sped up to get around us, switched lanes to get back in front of us and then slammed on his brakes. The driver definitely wanted to express that it wasn’t a coincidence because he repeated the cycle. It was obvious enough that even the little girl in the back took note of the situation and was experiencing very real feelings of fear. So much that she remembers it to this day.

Those are things I don’t understand. Why be so outraged against someone? Who knows? I’m not the best driver, to say the least. Maybe I cut him off. Maybe I slammed on my brakes and didn’t realize he was behind me. It’s most definitely a possibility considering I had three small children in the car, one of them a baby who could have been fussing, resulting in a distracted mother. Regardless of the probable mistake, there was no need for such a situation.

You may be thinking, “I can’t believe that guy! What a jerk!” But we see these things all the time, and not just on the Broken Arrow Expressway. It’s so unfortunate, but it can even come from a profession of people that is so uncharacteristic of the profession itself. Nurses.

One of the most notable characteristics of the nursing profession is compassion, and yet there’s the saying that “nurses eat their young.” It’s not just a funny notion; no, it’s a for real disheartening reality. I don’t understand the purpose. I suppose there is some sense of initiation that accompanies such behavior. Or maybe the belief that the newcomer will “prove themselves.” Whatever the idea, it for sure compromises patient safety and threatens positive outcomes. I mean, who wants to ask questions of someone who is mean to you? The result? Some don’t ask. They wing it or go with a hunch.

I’ve read that the nursing profession is anticipated to grow by leaps and bounds due to an aging baby boomer generation in combination with the changes to our current health care system. This means that nurses can expect a continual trend of orienting new employees, mostly consisting of new graduates with no nursing experience. Yes, this is taxing on nurses, but responding to new grads or students with curt expressions and abrasiveness won’t stop the growth, but it will change the culture and endanger the population we work so strongly to help; our patients.

Rather than look at students and new grads as a nuisance, maybe we should take a lesson from Elijah and Elisha. Elijah signified Elisha as his successor in I Kings 19:19 when he put his cloak around him. Then in II Kings 2:9, as Elijah’s ministry was coming to an end, Elijah asks his apprentice what he can do for his apprentice, a truly selfless concern. And in much wisdom, Elisha replies, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”

Isn’t that awesome?! How would it be if we were more concerned about the people we are training than about what is happening to us? Maybe we could pass on far greater things than we could accomplish had we chose to go without the hassle, inconvenience and burden of teaching, instructing and mentoring. The nurse who oriented me in my job as a neonatal nurse was an Elijah in my life. She encompassed everything I hope to be as a nurse; kind, compassionate, knowledgeable, a critical thinker, calm, organized, efficient; the list truly could go on. I desire to be like her one day, and give back to new nurses as she so graciously gave to me.

Everyone benefits when we give more than we take; even us. Let’s change the reputation of nurses eating their young, and start anticipating a double portion yield out of the investments we make into others. God can multiply it if we offer it!

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Courageous Dreams

Brandon, Heather, Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden & Gavin Meadows are big Disney fans!  This fact is no secret to anyone who remotely knows our family.  We find it amusing to work lines from Disney movies into our everyday conversation.  Just last night, when Jaron, our nine year-old, was off to take his shower after soccer practice, I reminded him to pay attention to certain anatomical locations.  He turned around and quoted a line from Timon in Lion King 1 ½, “Mom, I’m not a little kid anymore!”  We all burst in laughter! Brandon and I have never outgrown our enjoyment of Disney animation.  I remember back to when Toy Story 2 was released in theaters.  It was early in our marriage, so we didn’t have children yet.  Our schedule must have been pretty packed the Friday and Saturday of its premier; therefore, we resorted, despite our guilt, to skipping Sunday church in order to see it.

We currently see the same interest and excitement in our children.  Brooklyn is twelve, and yet still enjoys our Friday night family movie, which almost always is a Disney one.  And she is one of the best in the family to incorporate those Disney lines!  This makes it even funnier to us, because she’s the least animated of the kids.  When she works in a punch line, it’s hysterical, because it’s unexpected.

A couple of weeks ago, Brandon and I were sipping on our coffee while the kids munched on their cinnamon rolls, our normal Sunday morning routine.  Brandon asked the kids what were their dreams of becoming when they grew up.  He followed it with a passionate quote from Rapunzel in the movie Tangled, “Haven’t you ever had a dream?”


The conversation continued as each child expressed their dream.  Brooklyn shared that she wanted to be a veterinarian, out of her deep love for animals.  Jaron shared that he wanted to be a mechanic because he loved cars.  Caden shared that he wanted to be an engineer because he loved legos.  Even Gavin, our four year old, enthusiastically shared that he was going to be Spiderman when he grew up.

In our normal family way, we related this conversation back to Disney.  We spoke about Cinderella who believed in her dream.  In her song, A Dream is A Wish Your Heart Makes, she sings, “Have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through.walt-disney-screencaps-cinderella-cinderella-1377203319

Then we spoke about Princess Tiana who, despite Mama Odie’s “Dig a Little Deeper” song, still emphasized her own strong work ethic in seeing her dream come true.Tiana-as-Waitress-Princess-and-the-Frog


And of course, we acknowledged the man himself, Walt Disney who didn’t give up.  He made his greatest contribution to animation with Mickey Mouse only after losing his first successful animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, to another studio.


This may all seem somewhat childish, but the reality is, even adults have dreams.  We give them more grown-up descriptions, such as, “goals,” or “visions.”  But all in all we still dream.  More often than not, we just don’t have the courage to share those dreams or the faith to pursue them.  Or perhaps we look at a dream failed when really it was the Lord redirecting.

I had a dream of a vocal career in Contemporary Christian music.  Obviously, I’m a neonatal nurse, so you might be inclined to think that I was way off the mark and that the dream was naïve.  But I have seen the Lord benefit my life today from my pursuit of that dream.  I spent a few years traveling around the state of Oklahoma singing with a group within Oklahoma Kids.  That time was undoubtedly the happiest of my childhood and it cultivated my stage presence and confidence.  I had an acceptance there that I couldn’t find at school.  The foundation during that season of my life led me to singing on my own in competition, in festivals, in churches, and even in my town’s pageant.  One thing leads to another, and I found myself in Nashville with my vocal coach at Embassy Music, and later in Estes Park, Colorado at the Christian Music Artists' Seminar.

Again, waste of time because I’m a nurse and not a professional vocalist?  Not at all.  Those experiences prepared me for something I would have never imagined.  Public speaking.  More than anything, I gained an invaluable characteristic through discovering my potential in vocal music; I gained a sense of confidence, and that is something we all need to pursue the dreams God stirs within our hearts.

I’m still dreaming today.  I have dreams for my kids; that they pursue an education, have a fulfilling career, experience the love of a devoted spouse and the miracle of healthy children.  I have dreams for my marriage; including continual professional growth, service in ministry, time to enjoy hobbies together, and maybe some sand and water too.  Doesn’t a beach just represent a peaceful side of dreams?  I have dreams for my career as a nurse, for more opportunities in speaking, and for the open door to formally write my story.

What will come of these dreams, these visions, these goals?  I don’t know.  But God does.  He placed the dream in my heart to have a husband that would look beyond the scars and desire me as if there were none.  Dream came true.  He placed a dream in my heart to be able to experience pregnancy, birth and the wonder of motherhood.  Dream came true.  He placed a dream in my heart of being able to physically minister to patients as a nurse.  Dream came true.

I don’t know what it will look like, or how it will happen or when it will transpire, but I do know that God’s plan has been far greater than any I could have ever imagined, and that what He has in store is consistent with what He has accomplished.  This is where faith is at work.  Hebrews 11:1 (NLT), “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

We walk by faith, not by sight.  We don’t wait to see the evidence before we step out.  We believe, we work hard, we push on through failed attempts because we have faith in the One who holds the plan.

May we all be courageous to pursue what God has placed in our hearts to dream.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”- Walt Disney


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Happy NICU Anniversary

It's hard to believe today marks my first anniversary since starting this amazing career as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse.  I don't know where the year has gone, but in all honesty, I'm glad it's over.  I look back and see the growth, and I anticipate much more in a now more peaceful, settled frame of mind.  In honor of the ups and downs nurses experience during their first year, I'd like to share something I wrote back in November of 2012.  I pray it blesses the newbies, wherever you may be..... Sometimes being new is so hard.

When we think of “brand new” we imagine something fresh, something unblemished; we picture stamina and beauty.  Just think of how wonderful it is to get a new car or a new house.  But sometimes “new” isn’t so wonderful.  Sometimes it is very challenging.

I see this illustrated every time I go to work.  I see babies that are brand new having difficulty.  They may have respiratory challenges, gastrointestinal complications, or cardiac insufficiencies.  These situations are not what mothers prepare themselves for when they find out that they are growing their precious little miracles.  Mothers and fathers picture a brand new baby with ten little fingers and ten tiny toes.  They decorate nurseries, have baby showers, pick out clothes and car seats.  They don’t imagine days, weeks or even months in an intensive care nursery.

I think of this often as I encounter experiences as a new nurse.  It was all so very exciting at graduation, and then of course, after passing NCLEX.  But now is the time that the celebrations are over and I’m confronted with the challenges of not just being a new nurse, but being a new employee, trying to connect with a group of people that are already connected.

Life experience has taught me that the Lord will bless this endeavor of mine as I continue to use it for Him.  I remember back to when I was twelve years old and sang publicly for the first time.  I was absolutely terrified, but my desire to sing was greater than my fear, so I pushed through each time until one day, I didn’t feel that way anymore.  The same feelings accompanied me as I prepared for my first speaking engagement.  I felt so unequipped; so short on knowledge; so empty of substance.  But God met me where I was.  He took my desire to be used for Him and He blessed each offering I had to give.

As I drive to work with feelings of inadequacy and apprehension, I remind myself that I’ve been here before.  I remind myself that my confidence is in the Lord and that He called me to be a nurse, so He has equipped me to succeed.  Everything takes time.  Yes, I may have butterflies in my stomach from time to time, I do even today when I sing or speak, but that urge to vomit will surely pass!

Yes, being new can be so hard, but so rewarding.  We discover new things about ourselves and our walk with God.  We stretch ourselves beyond our comforts of convenience and familiarity.  We become reliant, not on our own abilities and talents, but on the One who entrusted them to us.

Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.”

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