Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Game

"Riley*!" I tried my best stern voice as I nonchallantly galloped down the hall after my patient, "Come back here!"
Riley giggled as I grabbed the sleeve of his gown and gave a tug to turn him around and headed back towards his room.
"You caught me sneaking off!" he said, happily plodding behind me as I kept a firm hold on his gown.
"I caught you!" I responded, trying to resist the urge to laugh with him. I knew if I responded like this was a game I'd be chasing him all night.
We walked around the circle about 1 million times with a couple exploratory journeys down the hall ways and finally, Riley was ready to go back to his room. I sat him on the edge of the bed and distracted him by telling I needed him to hold my important peice of paper where I wrote my vitals. While he contemplated this grave task, I got his medications ready and brought him a glass of water.
"Swallow these," I requested, handing over a little cup filled with colorful meds.
He grinned excitedly as though I'd handed him candy and downed the cupful obediently.
"Great job!" I said happily, and we grinned at each other over the accomplishment of this task.
For a good while the rest of the evening, I had a shadow as I accomplished the rest of my nursing tasks.
While I charted, Riley stood off to the side and patiently watched. When I went into another patients room, he waited for me outside the door. if I walked down the hall to get supplies, he was right behind me.
Unobtrusive, innocent, and curious as a child, this 250lb 20 year old trailed me like a faithful puppy. If I smiled, he smiled. If I whisked hurriedly by him on a mission to get something down the hall, he whisked after me without asking any questions, only knowing that we must accomplish this task  quickly!
"Riley, we need to go to bed now." I said finally
"We? Who's we? he questioned impishly
"YOU," I clarified, trying not to smile, "You need to go to bed! I am not going."
"Well, I'm not either!" he began rebelliously, "I am going to stay up and watch TV all night!"
"OK, lets go put you in bed and we'll turn on the TV!" I led the way off to his room, "You lay down there, and I'll be back in just a second to help you turn it on." I stepped outside the door.
I went back in less than 5 minutes later. Riley was asleep.
"Riley," I whispered, "I thought you wanted to watch TV!"
The peaceful face on the pillow was the only answer I got. Smiling to myself, I turned off the light and pulled the door closed after me.
Sometimes patients make you cry, sometimes they make you laugh, and sometimes they walk right into your heart :).
*Names have been changed

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Workout

I tripped hastily over the exercise box as I tried to keep in step. Pausing to catch my balance, I got behind another two or so moves and scrambled to gather up the free weights sitting on the floor next to my exercise mat.
"Lets GO!" shouted the instructor with a little more army officer inflection than friendly gym instructor encouragement. Waving my arms and legs hopefully in time to the music, I wishfully imagined I looked pretty much in step....until I caught sight of myself in the perfectly positioned, full length wall mirror directly in front of me.
Unable to keep from giggling to myself, I then felt like more of a fool than ever: spasmodically flailing arms and legs and grinning at myself in the mirror like an idiot. While I contemplated on the hilarity of my situation, the rest of the perfectly tanned, toned, and trim ladies seized the opportunity to again leave me dancing to my own drum.
After about an hour, it gradually dawned on me that the pounding music had given way to a peaceful, new-age sort of tune and now everyone was posing gracefully on the floor in a variety of complicated stretching moves. Quickly sinking to the floor as unobtrusively as possible, I joined them in attemping to touch the left ear to right knee without bending the leg. It turned out to be an impossible manuver.
As I slipped quietly out the door at the end of the session, I wondered not for the first time what had possessed me to attend. It certainly was not as relaxing as a nice run in the fresh air! But as I looked at the happily chatting ladies around me, I realized that although I hadn't been the brightest candle on the cake that day, I had enjoyed a sense of comraderie. And maybe, just maybe, I'd come again....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lice and Life

"Oh, and by the way, your patient has lice."

This last inspirational comment thrown to me in passing as the day shift nurse scurried to escape from work and make her way gratefully home at the end of a long day.

"Uhhhhh....!" I responded intelligently as she disappeared down the hall.

"NO! Not lice, not my patient!!" I wanted to shout, "Tell me it's something else, I don't want to deal with that...."

But I did.

Not only did I wash her hair twice, but I spent two hours combing through tangled masses of hair and through MILLIONS of nits and live lice scurrying over the pillow.

I literally had to scrap the lice off the comb every time I ran it through her hair. I thought I'd seen bad cases of lice overseas. I officially saw my worst case ever in the US.

While I got behind on meds and my other patients were left to fend for themselves, I stood in her room and listened to her ramble about the voices she was hearing and what it was like to live at a mental hospital.

Gathering up the lice-infested sheets and dumping them into the trash, I tried to assure her that the only thing she was hearing in the room was the buzz of her IV pump as it infused fluids to her dehydrated body.

"Really?" she stared at me blankly, and I was startled by the look in her eyes: a blank, internal look that seemed not to comprehend the world around her.

I walked out of the room willing myself not to itch my head like crazy. Its only because your are thinking about it, I told myself, there are no lice in your hair.

As I walked in and out over the course of the night, I tried in some small way to bring reality into the world inside her head, but really it was impossible. Though I tried to point out to her reality, she couldn't grasp it.

I don't know if anything I did that night made a difference. I don't know if I got rid of all the lice, I don't know if I gave her a taste of reality, I don't know if anything I said made it into the world she was living it. But I do know some things: that I tried and that I learned a little patience and that I am thankful that Jesus is coming again soon to claim us from sin and sickness!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

To be God's People

Almighty Father give us a vision
of a dying world that needs Your love and care.
We see the need, the yearning for a Savior,
In Jesus' name, grant this our prayer!

To be God's people in this place,
live His goodness, share His grace,
Proclaim God's mercy through His Son,
be His love to everyone.
And when we falter be Thou our comfort; 
guide us as Your children that our lives may be
A beacon in this darkness that surrounds us,
A light that others then may see.

To be God's people in this place,
live His goodness, share His grace,
Proclaim God's mercy through His Son,
be His love to everyone.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Something to Consider

Gratitude for Ungrateful Days
From Every Day Deserves A Chance by Max Lucado
Excerpts from the diary of a dog:
8:00 a.m. Oh boy, dog food – my favorite.
9:30 a.m. Oh boy, a car ride – my favorite.
9:40 a.m. Oh boy, a walk – my favorite.
10:30 a.m. Oh boy, another car ride – my favorite.
11:30 a.m. Oh boy, more dog food – my favorite.
12:00 p.m. Oh boy, the kids – my favorite.
1:00 p.m. Oh boy, the yard – my favorite.
4:00 p.m. Oh boy, the kids again – my favorite.
5:00 p.m. Oh boy, dog food again – my favorite.
5:30 p.m. Oh boy, Mom – my favorite.
6:00 p.m. Oh boy, playing ball – my favorite.
8:30 p.m. Oh boy, sleeping in my master’s bed – my favorite.
Excerpts from the diary of a cat:
Day 283 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat while I’m forced to eat dry cereal. I’m sustained by the hope of escape and the mild satisfaction I derive from ruining a few pieces of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant. I attempted to kill my captors this morning by weaving through their walking feet. Nearly succeeded. Must try this strategy at the top of the stairs. Seeking to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair. Must try this on their bed. To display my diabolical disposition, I decapitated a mouse and deposited the headless body on their kitchen floor. They only cooed and condescended, patting my head and calling me a “strong little kitty.” Hmm – not working according to plan. During a gathering of their accomplices, they placed me in solitary confinement. I overheard that my confinement was due to my power of allergies. Must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
I am convinced the other household captives are flunkies, perhaps snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems naively happy to return. He is, no doubt, a half-wit. The bird speaks with the humans regularly. Must be an informant. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal cage, his safety is assured, but I can wait. It is only a matter of time. ((Adapted from Rick Archley, “When We All Get to Heaven” (sermon, Richland Hills Church of Christ, North Richland Hills, TX, May 25, 2005). Original source unknown.)
The day of a dog. The day of a cat. One content, the other conniving. One at peace, the other at war. One grateful, the other grumpy. Same house. Same circumstances. Same master. Yet two entirely different attitudes.
Which diary reads more like yours? Were your private thoughts made public, how often would the phrase “Oh boy, my favorite” appear?
“Oh boy, sunup – my favorite.”
“Oh boy, breakfast – my favorite.”
“Oh boy, traffic jam – my favorite.”
“Oh boy, vacuuming – my favorite.”
“Oh boy, root canal – my favorite.”
Well, not even a dog would relish the root canal. But wouldn’t we like to relish more of our day? We can. Begin with God’s grace. As we accept his forgiveness, our day of gripes and groans becomes a day of gratitude.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Move

"Oh certainly....we'll be out by Tuesday! No problem at all. We've basically moved out now."

"Wednesday by the latest. Just basically stuff in the garage now."

"Thursday noon for sure. Just a couple truck loads."

"All done by Friday! Not a problem."

I felt used and frustrated. I'd moved down to California with the thought that I'd have a house and a job and everything would be great. But God knew that even a year in the Philippines wasn't enough time to teach me complete trust in Him. So, He sent....well.....I guess I won't mention names :)

As it turns out, I had neither house nor job for the first week of my life in California. Now that may not seem long to you, but for someone who thrives on lists and planning and getting organized, it was a near eternity.

My car was a disaster with miscellaneous household items, sleeping bags, and suitcases, all my things were in boxes stored in the shed, and I had no where to sleep.

For some moments I felt nearly frantic!

Allie does not live like this - disorganized meandering with things strewn hither and thither throughout the land! I like things to work according to schedule and to be done in a timely fashion.

And I thought I had learned to let God do things in His own time while I was in the Philippines!

But, apparently.....not.

Again the words of my favorite hymn played throughout the days of apparent chaos and uncertainty:

"Father, lead me day by day
Ever in Thine Own sweet way.
Teach me to be pure and True;
Show me what I ought to do!"
~Hymn 482

And so I wait, asking God each day for complete trust in Him - and that the restful, calm, and pliant spirit of a humble servant might be developed in me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

White as Snow

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7
I looked out of the window and down 20,000 feet. The sharp edges of mountains, softened by a blanket of snow, slowly slipped beneath me. Where normally there would be the texture of streams and trees to define the landscape, now there were only hazy outlines, sometimes only flat snow miles with nothing visible to break the smoothness. All was covered. 
What does God see when He looks at me? I know what scars the landscape: unsightly tangles where I’ve tried to work it out on my own, deep gorges with things hidden in the depths, sharp edges that I am too weak to soften. 
Purge me! Oh wash me, Lord! I cannot be clean, I cannot stand in your presence!
And then the Father steps forward.
“No child, you cannot. But I am not looking at you, I am looking at my Son. He is spotless, and white, and perfect and He wants to give it to you. He has prayed for you, He has given you my word, He has claimed you as not of the world. And He’s asked that when I look at you, I look at you through Him.
So I do not see these things of which you speak. I see only my Son because you have claimed Him.”
And as we look, the gorges fill, the sharp edges are covered, and the tangles smooth under the blood of Christ. No longer can we see the disfigured landscape. Its white and smooth. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

God's Will

“Father, what now?” I asked quietly in the quiet of my bedroom. 
No voice, no clap of thunder, no inspirational Bible text.
I waited.
That evening, talking to my mother, I reflected as I had many times before of the blessing of having godly parents. I firmly believe that God has spoken through them more times than I can count. “Move forward with prayer,” she said, “and know that God will open and close doors as He sees fit.”
At some points during my life, I’ve believed that God had only one specific plan for your life and that if you missed that plan it was too bad for you. I still believe that, but with a different twist. 
You see, I thought that God had one occupation, one place to live, one church you were supposed to go to, one outreach opportunity in which you should flourish. (I am not sure where I got this idea because it wasn’t necessarily from my parents!) 
When people talked about “knowing God’s will” it was vaguely unnerving. What if I missed it? What then? Was I rushing down God’s emergency back-up plan for people-who-fail-to-figure-it-out?
I sat in my bedroom a few weeks after returning from my year overseas and contemplated my next steps. Opportunities swirled dizzily around me. Which one is God’s will?
“Move forward with prayer and know that God will open and close doors as He sees fit.”
No voice, no clap of thunder, no inspirational Bible text. Yet now I know. God does only have one specific plan for your life:
It is to reflect Him.
If we miss this, we will have missed God’s will.
Its not where you live, your church, your occupation but who you are as a reflection of Him. If we wholly desire to be a reflection of Him our church, our occupation, and where we live will reflect Him as well.And that is God’s will for your life. 
“Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him; and he shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth they righteousness as the light.” Psalm 37:4-6