Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"What Is Love, Biscuit?"

My grandchildren, Jack and Emma, love for me to read books to them.  In fact, I am thrilled my husband and I had the pleasure of taking them to the library for the first time.  They had been instructed before entering they could each check out one book.  They slowly walked along the rows of children's books, then they would each pull out a book, and in their little "library voice" whisper, "I want this one!"

As they continued down the row, they would put the book back and find another, again whispering, "I want this one!"  Finally, our selections were complete and we headed home.  They couldn't wait to pile up on the couch and have Grannie Frannie read to them their new treasures.

One of the books we have that they love to read is "Where is Love, Biscuit?"  Biscuit is a cute little dog featured in a series of "Biscuit" books. 

In our book, the little girl in the house points out to Biscuit all the places where she sees love.  She sees love in the blanket the cat shares with her kittens, in the crunchy cookies Daddy makes, in the sweaters Grandma knits, in the stories Momma reads at bedtime, and of course, in the hugs and kisses Biscuit gives.

To emphasize what the girl is speaking about, each page also has a textured place that the children can feel.  They love putting their little fingers on the soft blanket, or crunchy cookies, even though they have felt these things over and over again.

I love reading this book to Jack and Emma because I love impressing upon them that love isn't just a feeling, it is seen and expressed in actions.  Our love toward someone does nothing if there are no "feet" in it.  If there are no outward expressions of that love, can we really say it is love at all?

More importantly, the Scriptures tell us love is a Person.  "God is love," is not only a verse in Scripture, it is the essence of the entire book.  The living, breathing expression of that Love is the Lord Jesus, who "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," (Philippians 2:6-8).

Let us choose to make love, His love, the guiding essence of our lives and in honoring His words, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another," (John 13:34), remember to put "feet" on our love.

"My little children, let us not love in word, 
neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
I John 3:18

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Than a Million

Sunday morning, my husband and I were preparing to go to church.  Our grandchildren had spent the night and their father was about to take them home.  I had been hugging my grandson telling him just how much I love him.  He replied with this wonderful sentence, "I love you more than a million!"

I am quite aware that at the age of five my grandson Jackson has no concept of just how big "a million" is, but to him it was the biggest thing he could think of, and to me it was some of the sweetest words I have ever heard.

Jackson has no idea that his sweet, little-boy sentence was so endearing to me.  It reminded me of times his daddy used to say similar things to me.  Jackson cannot understand how much the love of a child means to an adult.

Similarly, I don't think we can understand how much our expressions of love -- no matter how feeble and inadequate we think they are -- mean to the Lord.  Our simple expression of "I love you more than a million" to our Lord is possibly the sweetest sounds He hears.

" . . .the prayer of the upright is His delight."
Proverbs 15:8

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Never Say Never!

There is an old saying that it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind.  Perhaps that is what has happened, or perhaps it is maturity that lets me admit I am not always right and I can change my mind about things.

Twice in twenty-four hours I have found myself doing something I have said I would never do.  Both of these items have to do, oddly enough, with footwear.

I have always hated the type of sandals with a thong between the toes.  I haven't liked feeling something between my toes and or the way it seemed to separate my toes.

I was looking for a small pair of shoes to wear with a new skirt and I saw these sandals.  I loved the way they looked so much that even though they had the hated toe-thong, I decided to try them on anyway.  I was both surprised and delighted to find the sandals comfortable.  I couldn't believe I was purchasing the very type of shoes I had always said I would never wear.

I have also been looking for an alternative to tennis shoes.  Except for the gym, I just don't wear tennis shoes.  (I will purposefully refrain from using the word "never" here.)   I'm not sure why, I guess I haven't found ones  that really look like me.

In my search for tennis shoe alternates, I had hoped to find something that was also waterproof, which I could use as water shoes when we kayak.  (If you have never found yourself unexpectedly standing on the mucky bottom of a river delta, you might not understand the importance of water shoes.)

I was delighted last night to find shoes which were waterproof, cute and came in my favorite color -- red!

Well, I have always said I would never wear crocs as well, but that's exactly what these shoes were!  I guess I just need to retire that "never" word from my vocabulary.

The point is, we are all changing.  We change opinions, we change preferences, why some people even change hair colors!  If we are Christians, we should be changing on the inside as well. The Scriptures tell us that we all, "with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord," (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Lord is working in and through us, in and through every aspect of our lives to change us into the image of "His dear Son".  May we be malleable clay, easily conformed to that image.

"And we know that all things work together 
for good to them that love God, 
to them who are the called according to His purpose. 
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate 
to be conformed to the image of His Son, 
that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:28, 29 

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Go, Dog, Go!

Our beagle, Sparrow, is quite possibly the sweetest dog that ever lived.  She loves to love others and she lives to be a part of our lives.  She knows her position in the family hierachy and is careful not to try to assume more responsibility than she should.

A prime example of this is when it is time for Sparrow to go out for a walk. Sparrow knows she is not allowed to go out by herself.  Not only that, she knows she belongs to ME.  If Glen and I are both together and Glen tells her, "Come on, Sparrow, let's go for a walk," she will look up at me seemingly for approval to leave.

I have to tell her, "Go!" so that she will actually leave for her walk.  Only then will she get up and go.

Those of us who are Christians hear many voices telling us what we should -- and shouldn't -- do in our lives.  Some of these voices are from other Christians: friends, family, ministers, people we know.  Some of these voices are from people we have never met, who may or may not know the Lord.  Sometimes the voice seems to even come from inside ourselves.

It is of up-most importance that we learn to listen carefully for that One voice, that "still small voice" when we "hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left," (Isaiah 30:21).  We must be certain that the voice we are hearing belongs to the Lord and that the steps we are taking are the steps of His choosing and not our own.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, 
but the end thereof are the ways of death." 
Proverbs 14:12

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: 
and he delighteth in His way." 
Psalms 37:23

Saturday, June 18, 2011

beyond the bow. . .Trip 42 -- June 16, 2011

This was our first sunrise trip of the year.  I had forgotten just why we enjoy yanking ourselves out of bed before 5am. 

We put in at PoleCat Bay with determination to actually find the Tensaw River this time.  The water was fairly quiet as we paddled in a north-easterly direction.  It didn't take long for me to be reminded of what is so magical about the early morning trips.

I could just begin to see a ribbon of bright pink along the edges of the clouds and I knew soon the sun would be peaking out above the horizon.  I paddled faster to be past the bayway so I would have an unobstructed view.  As seems to be the case each and every sunrise, I was not disappointed.  At several points I just sat still in my kayak and considered how very great our God must be to create something so very beautiful.  I have no words to describe the beauty, the grandeur of that sun coming up in the east.  My camera didn't do it justice either.  With each snap of the shutter, I would look at the display and be so disappointed that what I saw on the screen was so lacking in life, vibrancy and color compared to what was transpiring before my eyes.  It is the very thing that makes this not-a-morning-girl put her feet on the floor well before daylight.

To put a figurative mound of icing on an already delicious cupcake, the sun was rising exactly over the mouth of the Tensaw River.  It was as if the Lord was saying, "I've given you a good show, now let me use this gorgeous sun to point you in the right direction."

We had an easy paddle up the river.  So easy, in fact, that we went much further than either of us had planned.  I remember that little voice in the back of my head trying to remind me, "You'll have to travel all this way back, too," but I didn't want to listen.  We stopped and had a snack of bread, cheese, olives and grapes and then headed back.  By this time, even though it wasn't even eight o'clock, it was becoming quite warm.  The good news was, we were facing the wind and the breeze felt good.  The bad news was, we were facing the wind. 

We actually seemed to  make good time for the first  couple miles down the river.  Then it seemed like our progress slowed significantly.  But we only thought it slowed.  Once we reached the mouth of the river, where PoleCat Bay meets Mobile Bay, the wind had whipped the water -- and the waves -- up significantly.  We paddled, but we didn't move.  I pulled, I pushed, I grunted, my boat moved over a wave and then was pushed right back again with the current.  Glen had the same experience.  (I don't know if he was grunting or not, the wind was whistling so loudly in my ears, it was all I could hear.)

We decided to change tactics. We changed direction and found we were finally making progress.  It was a good thing too, because my arms and shoulders had given just about all they had.  I had to force myself to lift the paddle as we headed close to the put in, even though the water was much calmer on that side of the bayway.

Apart from the surprising fight with the waves at the end, it was a wonderful trip.  The sun pointing out the way to our destination was such a great example of a deeper lesson.  If we keep our focus on the Son, He will direct our paths, He will show us the way to go.

Never does there seem to be a trip when the Lord does not seem to be revealing Himself in some way and showing us more and more of His truths.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Best Cakes. . .

My father used to say, "The best cakes take the longest in the oven". 

I can't tell you how many times I've related this to impatient families of young laboring women, who want that baby to appear almost instantaneously.  Using this quote usually gets both a chuckle, and my point across that sometimes the best things just take time.

Two of my mother's cakes -- both of which seemed to take tortously long in the oven -- remain etched in my memory:  her pound cake and her New York cheesecake.  The cheesecake, while not better than the pound cake, was worse for the waiting, because even after it came out of the oven, you still couldn't cut it for several hours.

It is just the nature of humans to want things in a hurry.  Even as Christians, we know the Lord has wonderful, beautiful things for us, but we want them NOW.  We don't want to wait patiently for Him to bring them to us "in the fullness of time".   Perhaps it is a godly spouse for which we are waiting, a precious perfect little baby, a new home, a wonderful job or even a place of ministry and fulfillment.  Instead of resting and waiting, so often we want to run ahead of the Lord and grab the thing before it is finished.  But what if we had taken my mother's pound cake out of the oven thirty minutes too early?  Would we have liked the result?  No, we wouldn't even have been able to tolerate one mouthful.  But if we waited until that cake was finished. . .ahh, it was heavenly, indeed!

Sometimes we think we know exactly what and how the Lord will grant the desires of our hearts and when that moment finally arrives, it is completely different from what we expected.  I have had that experience so many times in my life I am quite sure it is the Lord's pattern for me.

The best example of this occurred when we were looking for our house.  We spent hour after hour, our children in the backseat, driving around looking for just the right house.  One afternoon we drove through a neighborhood we liked and looked at a house with a for sale sign outside. 

"That house is just too small," we both agreed.  We loved the trees shading the house, and the look of the house, but it would never accomodate our family and our ministry needs.  We passed by the house without another thought.

 Thankfully, we had a kind and patient real estate agent who was geniunely interested, not only in making a sale, but in finding a house that was perfect for us.  He took us to house after house and listened to our likes and dislikes.  After a few weeks, he took us to the very house we had so tacitly rejected.

As we walked through the house, we knew we had come home.  The Lord's Spirit moved deep within our spirits and we felt that calm assurrance that this was where He wanted us to be.  After our offer had been accepted, the real estate agent told us the story.  We were the third couple to offer on the house.  And the third couple to be accepted.  But with the other two, financing had fallen through just before the deal was completed.  The owner, having already purchased another house and moved, was anxious to sell this house and dropped the purchase price with each failed deal.  The price we bought the house for was thousands less than for which she had originally listed the house.

You see, we just needed to wait.  The Lord didn't have our house ready for us yet when we first saw it.  He was still perfecting it just for us.

Is there something for which your heart longs today?  Some desire you truly believe the Lord has promised you and yet you see no evidence of it in sight?  Don't search for it yourself.  Don't strive to attain that which He has promised to give.  He will bring it you, He will set it beside you in a way that will show it has been His working, His gift, His love for you which has accomplished the thing.

"Be still and know I am God."
(Psalms 46:10)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

With Desire I Have Desired. . .

Last SupperImage by Kieran Lynam via FlickrBefore the Last Supper the Lord Jesus told His disciples, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer," (Luke 22:15). 

What beauty exists in His expression, "with desire I have desired. . ."   It was His heart's desire to share that last Passover meal with them before His suffering on Calvary, His resurrection and before He assumed His glorified body.

We cannot fully know it now because of the law of sin in our flesh, but we have this same intensity of desire in our spirits for the Lord Jesus.  With desire we desire to commune with Him now and to eat the Marriage Supper of the Lamb with Him in Heaven.  It is our heart's desire to be with Him throughout eternity.  Once we have dropped this "robe of flesh" and have risen to be with Him in glory, the continual desire of our hearts will be to know Him more and more and to be ever in His presence.

The most glorious thing is that He has that same intense desire toward us just as He did toward His disciples.  He will desire to be with us throughout eternity as much as we desire to be with Him.  We will be joined in a union greater than we can ever imagine, greater than any bond we have ever experienced here on earth.

Have hope, we have great and wonderful days ahead!

 "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, 
and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." 
John 17:23
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Monday, June 13, 2011

I Will Be On Your Behalf

It was a small, but powerful sentence:  "I will be on your behalf."
My office's phone                                        Image via Wikipedia
We were about to begin a journey with a friend one afternoon when he had to take a phone call.  From the very beginning it was obvious something was not good on the other end of the line.  Our friend said very little, but the tone of what he did say gave us to understand he was sympathetic and wounded for the person with whom he was conversing.  Then he spoke that sentence which carried such weight and power.

"I will be on your behalf."

Don't we all want and need someone who is "on our behalf"?  Someone to plead our case, to defend us, to help us in our times of need? 

Well, we each have such a Person.  The Lord Jesus is our "advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," (1 John 2:1,2).  He stands before God the Father, His nail-scarred hands out stretched to show that the penalty for our sins has been paid.  He pleads to our behalf to a Father who "delighteth in mercy," (Micah 7:18).

Our advocate never fails in His intercession and His intercession never fails.  He "ever liveth to make intercession," (Hebrews 7:25)  for us.  Always and continually, He is "on our behalf" before the Father.

Let us have great comfort and confidence in that fact.  We have an advocate, we have an Intercessor.  We have one who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," (Hebrews 4:15).  

"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word;  That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.  And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one:  I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." John 17:21-23
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kneeling in Blood: Who is Kate Cumming? The Road Home

This is the last entry in Kneeling in Blood.  This entry doesn't deal as much with Kate as a nurse, as it does with Kate as a Southern woman returning home after the end of the war.  This part of Kate's journal was harder for me to read than all the rest of it. 
Excerpts from Kate's journal:
April 19th:  The enemy did not come last night, but I expect they will honor us today.  I opened a prayer book and my eye fell on the twenty-seventh psalm:  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear.”  I do not think it was accident made me turn to those appropriate and comforting words – however some may laugh and say so.  My faith is strong in the belief that there is an unseen hand directing all our ways.
Night – The enemy marched in about 5pm.  I have just been on the gallery, watching the burning of the warehouse, and the sad work of destruction still going on.  We hear the sound of axes and suppose they are tearing up the railroad track.  I thank the Giver of all good that I have been enabled to look calmly on the destruction without one feeling of revenge.
April 22nd:  There is much excitement in town.  News had just come that there is an armistice, and that we had been recognized by France, England, Spain and Austria.  Lincoln has been assassinated.  None of our people believe any of the rumors, they look upon it as a plot to deceive the people.
April 26th:  We have just heard that the French fleet has had a battle with the Federal fleet, and whipped it and taken New Orleans.  All are much rejoiced.  There is really an armistice.
April 30th:  In the evening we went to the Baptist Church and heard an excellent sermon.  The test was, “And a man shall be a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest.”  A very earnest prayer was offered up in behalf of our fugitive president, in which I know everyone joined heartily.  I did not know he was a fugitive, but the truth is gradually dawning on us that we are really subjugated.  I knew we had peace – how, I did not understand; but certainly thought we were independent.  This is a severe ordeal; may God in His mercy give us comfort through it.
May 1st:  A lovely day; spring is silently working her great Creator’ swill and arraying herself in all her glories.  Meadow and woodland is brilliant with her gorgeous robes.  There is a mellowness breathing in the air, which fills one with an undefinable feeling of perfect tranquility.  O, how welcome it comes to our trouble spirits!  How bountifully God has showered His blessing on us, if we would only receive them!
We have received orders to have everything packed to hand over to the United States Government, or someone – we do not exactly know who.
May 4th:  I heard yesterday that there are no cars running south of West Point, the raiders having destroyed the bridges in that section.  I intend going to Newnan, as I may have a chance of getting a conveyance from there,  home.
May 5th:  I arrived at Newnan today at 11am, having left Griffin yesterday.  On the train to Atlanta I met my friend, Dr. Hughes, on his way to this place; also Dr. Archer.
As we neared Atlanta, the scene was one of desolation and ruin.  As far as the eye could reach, pile after pile of blackened brick could be seen, where once had stood stately mansions.  
This morning, we came down to the depot, it was almost impossible to find where it had been.  I never expected to see such utter destruction as we there beheld.  The meanest building on that street – the old Gate City Hospital – was left untouched.  It served as a mark, to show us where we were.  Opposite it, where many other large buildings had stood, not one stone is now left upon another. There were many Confederate soldiers returning to their homes.  They treated the Federals with perfect indifference.
May 29, 1865:  I arrived in Mobile on the 27th, having left Newnan on the 17th. 
We reached West Point about two hours before sunset, and such a scene as I saw there I never shall forget.  The river was gliding as smoothly as if the enemy had never been thee to disturb the quiet.  The fine bridge that spanned it had been destroyed and every way the eye turned was ruin and desolation.  The depot and warehouse were a pile of blackened bricks.  The banks were covered with the men of our army returning to their homes.  The faded gray uniform was seen everywhere. There were some half a dozen “blue-coats” standing by themselves, as much alone as if they had been in the Desert of Sahara, instead of in the midst of a people whom they claimed to have conquered.  I almost pitied their loneliness.  I thought they looked as if they had been guilty of a wrong for which they were sorry.
Nature never looked more beautiful to me, and the setting sun flung his rays over the grand old trees and scattered groups, as if to remind us that there was something more than the present, which no foe could take away.
I left Montgomery on the 26th, and the roads were so bad that I thought at one time we should never get to the end of our journey.  As we neared Mobile my heart sank within me at the desolate appearance of everything.  
On reaching home I found my family all well.  My brother, along with his company, had done good service to Spanish Fort.
This year has developed the fate of the South.  Time has revealed the utter loss of all our hopes.  A change must pass over every political and social idea, custom, and relation.  The consummation makes the year just passed ever memorable in our annals.  In it gathers all the interest of the bloody tragedy; from it begins a new era, midst poverty, tears and sad memories of the past.

O, may we learn the lesson that all of this is designed to teach; that all things sublunary are transient and fleeting, and lift our soul to that which is alone ever-during and immutable – God and eternity!  And forgetting the past, save in the lessons which it teaches, let  us . . .redeem the time, live humbly and trust God for future good.
That Kate could end her journal with this incredible paragraph is not only a testament to her and her faith, it is a testament to her God, that He was faithful enough in all the days, all the roads, all the weary steps before it to cause her to know with certainty He would be faithful for the future.
Kate’s journal contains pains and sorrows which did not fit within the subtext of a nurse during war-time.  There was much I did not include, could not include for the sheer sake of time and volume.
Her journal is a piece of history.  As it was unfolding before her, so close to so many battlefields, she wrote it down.  She relays things her patients experienced, events they watched, now shared through Kate’s eyes.  She paints a picture of Southern life during this painful wartime that is true because that is what she was living.  If you want to understand what this war was about from the Southern perspective, Kate expresses it as clearly as anyone ever could.
The story of her long trip home to Mobile and the devastation and desolation she saw along the way is heartbreaking to anyone who travels in, lives in or loves the South.  And yet, her words are not without hope.  Her last words are that of encouragement to us, to learn the lessons well which she saw unfolding before her eyes.  These lessons are not political.  They are not social.  They are not cultural.
Kate implores us that the blood – of Confederate and Federal alike – which calls up to us from each and every battlefield does not speak of victory or defeat.  It speaks loudly and boldly of eternity: of faith or rejection.  It speaks of death –each one’s death:  of passing into life eternal and joyous or into eternal damnation and pain. 
May we heed those callings well.  When we have joined our voices with the fallen, it will be too late to then decide our fate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kneeling in Blood: Who is Kate Cumming? Part 13

This series on Kate Cumming is dedicated to all those nurses who give of themselves to heal others. Your kindness, your touch, your wisdom and your unselfish dedication can never be appreciated enough.

To all my sister and brother nurses,
Thank You.
Excerpts from Kate's journal:

May 24th:  We have a number of the sick and wounded from the Twenty-ninth Alabama Regiment.  One lad, in his sixteenth year, is very ill; he requested me to write to his father, and let him know where he is.  I said, why not write to your mother.  After hesitating awhile, tears filled his eyes, and with a quivering lip he told me she was deranged on account of her sons all leaving her for the army; he had run away two years ago.
We are kept very busy.  Miss Womack takes charge of all the groceries, as I call them – whiskey, butter, etc. – and keeps a daily account of everything that is received and issued, which is measured or weighed.  The liquor of all kinds is given out on an order from the druggist, for each ward separately.  I make a daily report to the steward of every article used in our kitchen, besides keeping a weekly and monthly account, not only of the articles consumed, but of all the cooking utensils, dishes, etc., which are used in the kitchen.
June 10th:  There is not a day passes but we hear of the death of some of the men we have had here as nurses or patients.  I bid good-by to many a man, and the next thing we hear he is dead and gone.
A day or two ago we received a lot of badly wounded; some of them are shot near the spine, which paralyzes them so that they can neither use hands or feet.  Mr. Pullet, a Georgian, is wounded through the lungs; the least movement causes the blood to run in streams from his wound.  Mr. Thomas is wounded through the head; his brain is oozing out and at time he is delirious.
July 31st:  Yesterday morning, while I was in the yard of the court-house, attending to the patients, I saw a man ride in haste to town and a crowd collect around him.  We were informed he was a courier, and had brought news that the enemy were within six miles of the place.
He was not through talking when the locomotive gave a most unearthly whistle, and immediately we heard the firing of musketry.
The crowd who had been around the courier dispersed in double-quick time.  I hurried across the street to secure some money and little trinkets that the men had given me to take care of, thinking they would be more secure with me than themselves.  On crossing, two or three shots whizzed past me, so I have been under fire for once.
August 6th:  The prisoners still continue to come in.  A few days ago I saw about sixty in a crowd, and a more deplorable sight I never beheld; they were barefooted and bareheaded.  Mr. Holt, who has charge of the linen-room, gave them all the hats and shoes he could collect.
We sent them about two galloons of nice soup and what bread we could procure.  Many of the men told me they would do without and give their share to the prisoners.  It would be some time before they could get food cooked at prison.  The prisoners, one and all, told us that they could not be better treated.
August 19th:  We started from Newnan on the 15th and arrived at West Point about sundown the same day.  We arrived at Americus today the 19th.  We cannot tell how we shall like the place.  It is quite a large village, and from all appearances we are going to have a very nice hospital, but none of us liked being compelled to come to it.
September 1st:  Last night our hospital was burned to the ground, and with it much valuable property belonging to the town.  We saved very little.
November 26th:  We are ready to make another move.  Our hospital s are ordered to Gainesville, Alabama.  The base of our army is changed.  This will be a long, tedious trip, as we have to change cars very often.  Well, there is no use in grumbling.
January 5, 1865:  Our hospitals have all been ordered to Tennessee. I am highly delighted at this new move, as it shows that our army is still triumphant.
February 4 (while visiting home in Mobile): While getting ready to go back to the hospital, my father came in overjoyed, and told me that my work was over and that we are to have peace at last.  Lincoln has agreed to receive peace commissioners and three of our ablest men have gone on the mission.
February 8th:  More woe and sorrow in store for us!  Our commissioners have returned unsuccessful!  No peace for us without going back to the Union!
February 27th:  Our hospitals have taken another exodus and gone back to Georgia.  I intend leaving to-morrow and it is with a sad heart, as God alone knows what may be the fate of Mobile ere many days have elapsed; for it is no feint this time.  The enemy means something now; of that all are confident.

March 9th:  I arrived at Griffin, Georgia, yesterday, having left Mobile on the steamer Southern Republic.  I think I never saw rain until today; it is actually pouring in torrents.  Yesterday, when I arrived at the depot, it was raining very hard, and when I looked out of the car at the crowd of men, and saw no familiar face, I felt a little homesick.  I have no good, kind Mrs. Williamson to say, in her quiet manner, “Have patience the Lord will bring all right.”  Left wholly to myself, I felt that all my boasted determination to remain in the hospital till the war was over, or as long as I could be of service to the suffering, would now be put to the test.

These excerpts from Kate’s journal touch on two aspects of nursing – which may not be considered as a part of nursing – but have often been in the back of my mind. 

The first is a hospital fire.  Only once have I thought I was in the midst of a hospital fire.  Two units were evacuated, and it wasn’t for almost two hours and after the searching by the firefighters we discovered the thick blanket of smoke was not the result of flame, but of a faulty wire in a light fixture.
The other aspect is that of “enemy” fire.  Increasing are reports of hostile visitors entering a hospital and taking aim upon nurses and staff members.  Dealing with this situation – protecting patients and staff – is something I have thought of often.
To all those nurses who must deal with unexpected emergencies while caring for their patients, you have my admiration and appreciation. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kneeling in Blood: Who is Kate Cumming? Part 12

This series on Kate Cumming is dedicated to all those nurses who give of themselves to heal others. Your kindness, your touch, your wisdom and your unselfish dedication can never be appreciated enough.

To all my sister and brother nurses,
Thank You.
 Excerpts from Kate's journal:
October 12th:  The hospital is filled with wounded – the very worst which were on the battle-field.  There was a raid expected, and they had to be taken off in a hurry.  They were put on the train about three or four days ago, and have had little to eat; and many of them have not had their wounds dressed during that time.
I have just received a litter from my brother, dated the 8th.  He says the army has been in line of battle ever since the late battle, and are waiting for the enemy to make the attack.
October 28th:  On my way to the wards this morning I was annoyed at something which happened.  I had made up my mind to leave the hospital, but on entering the wards all of this feeling vanished.  When I saw the smile with which I was greeted on every side. And the poor sufferers so glad to see me, I made up my mind, I hope for the last time, that, happen what may, nothing will ever make me leave the hospital as long as I can be of any service to the suffering.
December 7th:  I received a letter from my brother today.  He is well, and has lost everything except the clothes which he has on.  I intend sending him some.
January 3, 1864:  Part of our hospital was destroyed by fire last night.  It originated in the officer’s quarters of the Buckner Hospital through the negligence of a servant.  I have been told that some of the officers who were wounded nearly lost their lives.  We lost two buildings; they had few patients in them, and no one was hurt.  But a short time since they were filled with badly wounded, who, fortunately, had been removed.
January 29th:  We are sadly in want of comforts, cotton to make mattresses, spoons, knives and forks, and in fact everything.  Many of our men have to eat their food with their fingers.
May 17th:  There has been fighting near Dalton for some days.  Our army has left that place, and is moving down, drawing the enemy with it.
I went to Atlanta on the 15th, in company with some ladies and gentlemen of this place.   We intended going to the scene of conflict, but as the army is on the move, had to come back.  We reached Atlanta on the morning of the 16th, about daylight.  Mrs. Harris and myself went to the Gate City Hospital.  It is the distributing one.  The hospital was filled with wounded , who had come in that morning from the front.  Mr. Tucker told me that he had dressed the wounds of four hundred men since 4 o’clock the previous day.  He had been up all that night at his work.
That morning was one of the gloomiest I ever passed.  Hundreds of wounded men, dirty, bloody and weary, were all around us.  And when I thought of the many more which were expected, I was filled with despair, and felt like humbling myself in the dust, and praying more earnestly than ever before that God would send us peace.
In the afternoon, Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Barnes, Mrs. Auld and myself went to the cars, on their arrival from the front; and O, what a sight we there beheld!  No less than three long trains filled, outside and in, with wounded.  Nearly all seemed to be wounded in the head, face and hands.  I asked someone near me why this was.  They replied, because our men had fought behind breastworks.
The men were lying all over the platform of the depot, preferring to remain there, so as to be ready for the train which would take them to other places.  I was informed that there were about seven or eight hundred wounded who had come In that evening.
At daybreak I went to the hospital by myself.  On arriving there I found that no more wounded had come, but there were many there already.  The scene which presented itself to me in the large room where we had been the night before was sickening.
There was pile after pile of rags, just as they had been taken from the wounds, covered with blood and the water used in bathing them.  All of the attendants were too much exhausted to clean up.
These are the things to which we have to shut our eyes, if we wish to do any good, as they cannot be avoided.
I met Dr. Calvert of the Thirty-eighth Alabama Regiment, who requested me to get some rags for him, which I did, and assisted him as much as I could.  He had some badly wounded men from his regiment.
Dr. Calvert told me he had not eaten anything for some time.  I gave him some coffee, bread, and meat; and when I recollect now the place in which he ate it, I think we can get used to anything.  It was in the room or hall which I have just described.
It is amazing what nurses and physicians can “get used to.”  Families of medical personnel frequently have to remind them not to talk about work at the dinner table!  I would imagine that Kate surprised herself by being able to eat sometimes after having seen, or having smelled, the sights and smells she encountered.

To all those nurses who have left a sick patient, or perhaps a difficult smell, or an unpleasant sight, grabbed a quick bite of food, and ran off to take care of more sick patients, I applaud you for your ability to “get used to” it and go on.  As Kate said, “these are the things to which we have to shut our eyes, if we wish to do any good, as they cannot be avoided.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

beyond the bow, Trip 41

We started off heading for new waters.  We found a place we had never been, but it wasn't exactly where we were heading.

We put in about 5:45pm.  Since it is the first day of June, I shouldn't have been surprised that the water no longer held that "Oh my!" chilling surprise as it did earlier in the season.  I was not prepared to feel the water be so warm this early though, at a balmly 82°.  The wind was whipping up out of the North, causing some choppy waves in Polecat Bay where we put in.

We headed North, hoping to find the Tensaw River.  Instead we ended up in Delvan Bay.  Next time we will remember to go further east.  It didn't take long for the wind to die down to a pleasant breeze and the waves to ease out as a result.

One thing we both remarked about this evening was how peaceful and quiet it was.  "Except for the good sounds," Glen said.  It didn't take getting very far away from the Bayway and it's constant flow of cars before the traffic noises faded and all that was left were the splashing of fish and the chirping of birds.  It was the birds, in fact, that I found most memorable on this trip.

I think we were witnessing formation training.  Now, I don't know if birds really do this, but one would suppose if they are going to fly across a continent, they might practice a bit first.  The same group of birds would fly past every few minutes.  You could see the ones out in front were strong birds, but some in the  back of the formation looked a little inexperienced.  We both found it fascinating, however, to stop paddling and simply watch them form, break and then reform their formations.

At one point, with a glowing fuschia sun beginning to set behind me. the fish jumping on either side and the birds practicing formations above, I was struck by just how much I love this activity -- how much we both love it and love doing it together-- and what a gift it is to me.

The verse came to mind, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," (James 1:17).

It was a gift to me, not from our oldest daughter who introduced us to kayaking, although I definitely have her to thank.  It was not from my husband who decided to by the boats for us, and I really MUST thank him.

The gift was from the Lord.  It is a good gift from Him to me.  All the joy, the love, the pleasure I find in it is somehow a reflection of the joy and love and pleasure found in Him.  I sat there on my kayak, my arms and legs wet from the paddling, but my cheeks wet from my tears as this beautiful thought made its way from my mind to my heart.  What a beautiful gift from a beautiful God.