Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pride and Destruction

This past Saturday Glen and I walked the "Second Annual Orange Moon Marathon."  This is our second year to do this and we were this year, as we were last year, the only two participants.  This year we followed a certified marathon course in our city and kept friends and family posted along the way.  We had a great time.

Because of a missed turn early in the course, we actually ended up with 26.54 miles instead of the 26.2 miles which marks a marathon.  At the end we only had some tiredness in our legs which was gone after a short rest.  We -- at least I-- was pretty proud of this accomplishment with little wear and tear on our bodies, especially at our age.

Then I decided to move our box springs and mattress (with our beagle sitting atop) to install a wifi electrical outlet.  The pulling of that furniture on my already tired legs resulted in a pull of a muscle in my hip.  I spent the rest of the night on a heating pad with a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) on my back.  The next day I was fine if I was standing or walking.  But after any sitting, the flexion of my hip caused me to feel "stuck" in that position.  It took a few moments to stretch out fully and for the pain to go away.  I spent the second night on the same heating pad.  

Of course, I thought of this verse:

"Pride goeth before destruction , and an haughty spirit before a fall."  (Proverbs 16:18.)

When attempting anything in our own strength and effort, we will always meet some form of destruction along the way.  Mainly because we have decided to put our trust in human effort rather than trust the Divine strengthening God promises to His children.

Our Lord loves us so very much and He has given His Son as the supply for our every need.  Our only responsibility is to trust Him by faith to be that supply, to be that strength for every situation we may face.  We are to fully trust Him in everything and for everything.  Our pride is to be in Him.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches:  
He that abideth in Me, and I in him,
 the same bringeth forth  much fruit:  
for without Me ye can do nothing."  
John 15:5

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How Can I Help?

Since our children were small I  taught them the best way to tell someone they loved them was with three little words.  Only the three little words were not "I love you," but "Can I help?"   My thought in this was that words can be meaningless if not supported by actions.  If a loved one is busy, adding a helping hand tells of love much more than just a few words could ever say.

Lately I have been thinking of this and wishing I had worded it differently.  I think asking the question "How can I help?" is definitely better.  "Can I..." implies there may not be the ability to help.  "How can I..." implies not only the assurance of ability, but also the thought that we will not take "no" for answer.

As Christians there needs to be no doubt in our ability because our strength, our ability, is not in ourselves.  We trust in His ability to be our strength and our power in and through us.  As we pray for others, we also need to echo the voice of the prophet Isaiah:

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then said I, 'Here am I; send me."  (Isaiah 6:8.)

In this life, we are His hands, we are His feet, we are His lips.  We give to the Lord the only thing we can, our availability.  "How can I help?" should flow off our tongues quickly and easily to those the Lord has placed around us so we can be a light, showing His Light, to our world.

"And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: 
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'  
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, 
that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  
2 Corinthians 12:8

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What is Life?

In a medical sense, life is determined by the sustained presence of a heartbeat.

If no heartbeat is there, then life is not there.  A patient can have an absence of breath, but if a heartbeat is determined, we can breath artificially for the person.  This is what a ventilator does.  It is true that if there is no heartbeat we can give artificial heartbeats for a while -- this is cardiopulmonary resuscitation -- but it is not as effective as the real deal and is not sustainable.

The Scriptures tell us:

"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."  (Colossians 3:3-4.)

First Paul tell us that we are dead, and then that our life is hid with Christ in God.  Next he tells us that Christ is our very life.  Paul is not contradicting himself here, he is teaching us that our life in this flesh is dead in it's ability to please God, in fact to do anything for God apart from the working of Christ in and through us.  Then he goes on to tell us the truth of our lives is that our spirit which has been quickened, or made alive, by the Holy Spirit is presently --this very moment-- hid with Christ in God.  What safer place can there ever be?  Paul goes on to tell us that Christ is our very life.

Compare this with these in Galatians:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."  (Galatians 2:20.)

The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was so great that when we trust and believe in Him by faith, our old heart, which was dead to God, is enlivened, created anew and now lives to serve and follow the Lord.  Yet, we are still enrobed with bodies of flesh which have, as Paul called it, a law of sin.  But us, the part of us that makes us who and what we are, is new.  To believe that we are still wicked and evil would be like wrapping ourselves in a corpse and carrying it with us wherever we go.  We would smell the stink and feel the weight, but none of that would truly be us.  We must make the choice to not carry that stinky weight around and to believe what the Bible says is true of us as believers is actually true.

Let us rejoice in the complete work of salvation the Lord has done in us and look toward the day we will see the redemption of these bodies.  Let us believe that the Lord has placed His Spirit in our newly created spirit and that we are indeed, "hid with Christ in God," and "created in righteousness and true holiness."

"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Epheians 4:22-24

Monday, February 19, 2018

In This Moment

Olympic figure skaters Alexa and Chris Knierim were interviewed Valentine's Day after their short program.  Alexa stated they didn't know if they would ever be back there again (on Olympic ice) and had decided beforehand to "live in the moment," every moment, the mistakes as well as the good things, and to enjoy every second of the experience.

What a wonderful lesson for us all, to live this moment as if there well be no other.  In fact, none of us is guaranteed another moment in which to live.

For the Christian, living "in the moment" also means having an awareness of the Lord's working in and through us continually.  The Apostle Paul instructed us to "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4.)  I think rejoicing always has much to do with living in the moment.  There are times we are so tempted to look ahead to another day, another time which we believe will bring to us satisfaction and fulfillment.  The truth of the matter, however, is that satisfaction and fulfillment can never come from a circumstance, an acquisition or an experience.  It can only come from a Person and it can only come from One Person. . .the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our hearts were made to be fulfilled in Him and Him alone.

As we look "unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith" we will know that great fulfillment which comes from ever knowing more the One of whom the scriptures said were "all and in all."

Ayez toujours confiance dans le Seigneur pour l'avoir, nous avons tout.
Trust in the Lord always, for having Him, we have all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Beyond the Sunset

(Thanks to Glen for the inspiration for this post.)

During our twelve years of kayaking, mostly done early morning or evening to view the sunsets and sunrises, I have taken literally hundreds of pictures of sunsets and sunrises.  In fact, now when we watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset from our kayaks, I tell myself, "I am not going to take any pictures," but then the beauty before me compels me to pull the camera out one more time.

The beautiful song, Beyond the Sunset was written by Virgil and Blanche Brock.  Here is how Brock described the birth of the song:

"Brock began, 'We were watching a sunset over Winona Lake, in Indiana, one evening. With us were two friends, Horace and Grace Burr. Horace had been blind for many years. We went to the dinner table still talking about that impressive sunset. The lake seemed to be ablaze with the glory of God. But above that unusual sunset were threatening storm clouds.'

As we talked about that sunset Horace said, ‘I never saw a more beautiful sunset, and I’ve seen them around the world.’ I said, ‘Horace, you always talk about seeing.’ He said, ‘I do. I see through others’ eyes, and I think I see more than many others see. I can see beyond the sunset.' I said, ’Horace, that’s a great idea for a song, and I began singing: Beyond the sunset, 0 blissful morning, when with our savior heaven is begun.”
“Grace Burr spoke up excitedly and said, ‘Blanche, that’s a beautiful thought! Go and play it.’ My wife went to a piano near by and began to play. We stopped eating and listened as she created the entire musical theme. I was too excited to eat. I found an old envelope in my pocket and laid it by my plate. I soon had written the first verse.”
Within minutes the song was finished. (You can read the story in its entirety here.)
As beautiful as sunsets are there is something, or rather Someone beyond that sunset infinitely more beautiful.  The Painter of that sunset is not only beyond, but if we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, He is within.  

One thing have I desired of the LORD, 
that will I seek after; 
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, 
to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple. 
Psalm 27:4

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: 
and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; 
yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it. 
Psalm 90:17

Beyond the Sunset
by Virgil and Blanche Brock

Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning,

When with our Saviour Heav'n is begun.
Earth's toiling ended, O glorious dawning;
Beyond the sunset When day is done. 

Beyond the sunset, No clouds will gather,
No storms will threaten, No fears annoy;
O day of gladness, O day unending,
Beyond the sunset, Eternal Joy. 

Beyond the sunset, A hand will guide me
To God, the Father, Whom I adore;
His glorious presence, His words of welcome,
Will be my portion On that fair shore. 

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion,
With our dear loved ones Who've gone before;
In that fair homeland We'll know no parting,
Beyond the sunset For evermore! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Desire to See More

Of all the pictures I have of the Appalachian Trail (and there are literally hundreds,) I think this one is my very favorite.

It was taken on our very first hike.  We were both new to hiking and new to camping and although we learned a lot on that trip, we enjoyed a lot as well.  This picture was taken between Icewater Spring shelter and Newfound Gap in Tennessee.  It was a cold October morning, but we were dressed well for the weather.

I remember one group of day-hikers passing by us (there is a well-known rock formation with incredible vistas close by) commenting that we "looked like real hikers."  I was quick to reply, and honestly, too, "It's just a fa├žade."  With our backpacks strapped on and our trekking poles in our hands we looked the part, but we didn't really know hiking yet.

While it was not all fun and games (you can read about our first hike here,) this one trip gave us a great love for the Appalachian Trail and a desire to see more.  Each time we go we find ourselves talking about "the next hike" on our way home.  There are always new vistas, new paths, new mountains, new rivers to see and encounter.

How like our walk with the Lord.  The more we know Him, know of Him, know His Word and His Way, the more we desire to be with Him, to know Him more.  Unlike the Appalachian Trail, which is currently 2190 miles long, there is no beginning and ending with our Lord.  We will forever be learning new vistas of His love, new paths of His righteousness, new mountains of His mercy and new rivers of His glory.  

"But the path of the just is as the shining light 
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."  
Proverbs 4:18

Friday, February 9, 2018

"il Disinganno"

I love sculpture.  

The idea of someone taking a block of marble or rock and carving out of it something that looks as if it is alive amazes me.  Even the thought that the artist somehow knows, or feels, what to remove and more importantly what not to remove, astounds me.

Perhaps my favorite of all sculptures is "il Disinganno" or "Release from Deception" by sculptor Francesco Queirolo, produced in 1752-54.

This statue depicts a fisherman caught in a net being released by an angel.  This magnificent work of art was carved from a single piece of marble.  It can be seen in Capella San Severo, Naples.  Apparently, only Francesco was brave enough to attempt this piece since all the other masters from the country considered it too ambitious, or even impossible.

The thing I love the most about this sculpture is the net itself.  It appears as if Francesco used threads of rock and twined them together for his creation.  The minute detail in this, and so many other sculptures is what draws me to them.  

The sculpture describes a man who has been set free of sin, represented by the net into which the artist put all his extraordinary skill. An angel, with a small flame on his forehead helps the man to free himself from the intricate netting, while pointing to the globe at his feet, symbol of worldly passions. An open book rests on the globe; it is the Bible. The bas-relief on the pedestal, with the story of Jesus restoring sight to the blind, accompanies and strengthens the meaning.

While I love the idea the sculpture portrays, I love more the thought of the artist toiling over this creation for years.  Every twist of every strand of net had to be painstakingly carved by hand.  It is said that Francesco refused to burnish the marble of the net for fear it might crack the delicate pieces.  In my mind I can see him chipping away at the head of both the angel and the fisherman, creating the sweeping curls that look as if they just need a hand to brush them aside.

The talent and skill pieces like this reflect, cause me to be in awe of the artist.  Yet I know that this talent, this skill, this perseverance is a gift from heaven.  It is a mere shadow of our Lord who is the author and inspiration of all art, all beauty, of all that is lovely.  He alone is the great Creator.  From monstrous balls of fire in the sky, which we call stars, to infinitesimally small creatures only visible under a microscope, our Lord has created them all.  He created them by the power of His Word and He maintains them all by the same power.  There is nothing in His creation not intimately known by Him.  Such thoughts make me want to join the Apostle John:

"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 

Saying with a loud voice, 

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying,

Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 

And the four beasts said, Amen.

And the four and twenty elders fell down
and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever." 

Revelation 5:11-14

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Delivering the Babies

(This post is actually a chapter from a book I am writing on my career as a Labor & Delivery nurse.  I will post these from time to time and I hope you enjoy them.)

Chapter 22
Delivering the Babies

Looking back over the almost forty years I have worked with mothers having babies, I have been honored to be present in over three-thousand deliveries. . .and still counting!  On many occasions, I have been the one to deliver the baby.  I wish at the onset of my Labor & Delivery career I had started counting how many babies I have actually delivered and now I give that advice to each new nurse coming into our unit.  It saddens me that the birth of any baby would escape my memory, but I know I will never remember a great number of those little ones whom I have helped ease into this world.

I do, however, remember the first baby I ever delivered, but for reasons much different than you might expect.  I remember it because it was extremely disappointing.

At the university hospital where I first learned obstetrics, the obstetric residents would teach each new nurse how to deliver a baby.   The nurse would gown and glove herself and sit at the end of the delivery table.  The resident would stand behind her and tell her exactly what to do, where to put her hands, how to ease out the baby's head, how to check to see if there was any umbilical cord around the baby's neck -- and what to do if there was -- how to help deliver first the top shoulder, and then the bottom shoulder.  After that the baby would usually just slide out by itself.  They would show us how to hold that slippery, wiggling baby, too, so that it couldn't be dropped!

One night, it was my turn.  I sat at the end of the delivery table looking at a woman I had never met, waiting to deliver her baby.  I went though the motions just as the resident directed me and before I knew it, I was holding a slippery little baby. . .something, I don't even remember now if it was a boy or a girl.  I handed the baby over to the woman's nurse and finished the rest of the work that had to be done during a delivery.  All the while I was surprised I didn't feel as I thought I would.  I had expected to feel excited, elated and thrilled.  After all, I had just delivered a baby and not everyone can do that!  In reality, I felt about as much emotion as if I had picked up a watermelon at the store and put it in my basket.  In fact, I am sure I have felt more emotion over a really good watermelon.

When I got home I told my family about my new accomplishment.  They were thrilled and elated, but I still just felt empty and disappointed.  It took a long time and a lot of deliveries later to realize what was missing.

That first delivery didn't have the significance for me that another one did.

I had been "loaned" to the Information Systems department of our hospital to work on the new computerized documentation system our hospital was implementing.  The project was supposed to last three months, but instead it lasted three years.  For those three years I dealt with computers instead of pregnant women.  I loved the work and had the honor of teaching the new system to almost every nurse in the hospital.  When my part of the project was complete and it was time to come back to Labor and Delivery, I was nervous.  I wondered how much I might have forgotten in those three years.

I asked my Nurse Manager if I could have a brief time of re-orientation and asked her to put one of the experienced nurses with me, just in case there was something I had forgotten that I didn't know I had forgotten.  What I found was I needed a little help remembering how to work the newer pumps and machines, but everything about labor I remembered.

That was proven true when our patient suddenly progressed much faster than we expected.  We called for the doctor to come quickly, but the baby was coming faster than the doctor.  Without hesitation, or even much thought, I reached over to the delivery table for a towel and the bulb syringe.  I had years more experience than the "experienced" nurse with me.  Delivering the baby seemed like the most natural thing in the world for me to do at the time.  It was an easy, smooth delivery and I have always felt like it was the Lord's way of telling me I was right back where He wanted me to be.

Another delivery stands out in my mind because of the actions of the physician.

I was delivering a baby and the mother's physician came in the room about the same time I was delivering the baby's head.

"Come on," I told him, "take it from here."

He surprised me by responding, "No, you're doing a great job.  You do that and I'll do your stuff."

So, I delivered the baby, collected the cord blood and delivered the placenta, while he gave the medications and attended to the baby.  I've often wondered what the mother thought to have her physician act as her nurse and her nurse act as her physician.

When I became Assistant Nurse Manager of our unit, I knew I would be delivering fewer babies because I would be giving less direct patient care.  So I was surprised when one day my skills were called upon.

I was sitting at my desk, which was located almost in the center of the unit, putting me in earshot of each room.  Our newest day shift nurse, not long out of school, came to me rather frantically and said "Call Dr. Robinson!"

"Call her for what, Linda?" because I knew this particular physician would grill me about why she was being called.

"Call her to come!"  Linda sounded exasperated I had asked the question, but I needed more information.

"Why?"  I knew the physician would want to know why she was running down four flights of stairs and across a crosswalk.

"Because the baby's head is right there and she needs to deliver this baby!"  Now that was information I could use, only I couldn't locate Dr. Robinson.  She was not in her office, not on the Postpartum Unit and not in Surgery.  Before I could try another place Linda's urgent voice captured my attention, "Frannie, come here!"

I went to the room and expected to see a baby in the bed, but instead I saw a mother panting and breathing.  I knew this mother from earlier in the day.

When she had come in for her induction her nurse couldn't get her IV started and had asked me to try.  The only vein I had seen had blown as soon as I got into it and I suggested having anesthesia have a look.  I was surprised when I popped my head in a little later and the patient told me that her nurse had looked again and started the IV.  

"She deserves an award!" the patient stated, "She is really great!"  I told her I agreed with her even before Tammy started the IV.

So now here she was ready to have her baby.  I put on a pair of gloves and stood by the side of the bed, but I didn't see the  baby's head crowning.  I decided to stand there just in case, until Dr. Robinson arrived.

Then a particularly strong contraction came and I could see the baby's head slowly begin to emerge.  As the baby's head began to crown, I gently controlled the rate that it delivered.  I was very aware at this point that I not only had the Dad in the room watching everything I did, but also two of our nurses, one of which I was sure had never seen a nurse deliver a baby before.  I wanted her to see it done correctly.

Once the head was delivered, I told the mother not to push while I suctioned the baby's mouth and nose and then felt along the baby's neck for any loop of cord which might have been there.  I was just delivering the rest of the baby when Dr. Robinson came in the room.  She handed me the towel to wipe the baby down.  She clamped the cord and I handed the baby to the mother who was ready to hold her new little girl.

As I walked out of the room, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to remind the mother, "Now Tammy may have started your IV, but don't forget who delivered your baby!"

I did feel excited after this baby and after many, many babies I have delivered.  The difference is being involved with the family, with the mother, and being a part of their experience.  My first delivery I felt like  a robot going through the motions for someone I had never even met.  But almost every other delivery I have done I have had some involvement or relationship with the mother and her family.  There has been some connection, so that the event isn't just delivering a baby, it's delivering joy.  It has been being a part of the creation of a family.

"By Thee have I been holden up from the womb:  
Thou are He that took me out of my mother's bowels:  
my praise shall be continually of Thee."
Psalm 71:6

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Spaghetti and Chicken

One of my favorite dishes from my past was Spaghetti and Chicken.

My mother would par-boil chicken "on-the-bone," as my grandson Jackson calls it, and then simmer it in a homemade tomato sauce until it was incredibly tender.  The chicken would be flavored with the sauce and the sauce with the chicken.

She would make a huge pot of spaghetti and when the chicken was cooked she would add the sauce to the spaghetti until every strand was perfectly covered and seasoned with that wonderful sauce. The spaghetti would be put on a platter and the chicken reunited with it.  It was a comfort food and it was delicious.

I was thinking about this dish today and remembering how I loved to watch the spaghetti cook in the pot.  There are approximately 448 strands of spaghetti in a pound (yes, someone somewhere actually counted!) and likely my mother cooked at least a pound of spaghetti for our family.

Even if each of those 448 strands in my mother's pot of spaghetti were a distinctly different color, I would find it impossible to keep up with just one strand.  There is no way I could keep my eye on it as it swirled and danced around in the pot.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that 105 billion people have lived on the earth, of whom 5.5% are alive today.  If I could not keep up with one strand of spaghetti out of 448, it amazes me that our Lord can keep up with 105 billion people!  He not only knows where we are in our "pot,"  He knows everything about us.  He knows our thoughts, our hearts, our joys and our sorrows.  And in some way I cannot fathom, for those of us who are His trusting sons and daughters in Christ, He works all things in our lives together for good.

Now if we were programmed robots, I can see that might be easier, but we are not.  We are humans with wills that cause us to do good and evil.  We have choices to make and we make them.  The Lord takes our choices and somehow works them "after the counsel of His own will."

How much infinitely greater than us He must be!  His knowledge must be unfathomable,  His judgments past understanding.  It is no wonder we will spend all eternity exploring this infinite being and after ten thousand years, proclaiming as the old hymn says, "We have just begun."

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"  
Romans 11:33

Monday, February 5, 2018

Summiting Springer Mountain. . .Again

Last fall, finding time short for a "proper" hike, Glen and I decided to return to one of our favorite places on earth, Long Creek Falls, Georgia.

We decided to park our car at a spot about a mile away from the falls.  The first day we would hike to the falls and then hike northbound as far as we could time-wise then hike back.  There was a lovely camping place very close to where we had parked and we spent the night there.

The next morning we hiked to the summit of Springer Mountain, which is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.  We had hiked this same direction on our second section hike several years ago.  (You can read about that hike here.) Many of the spots we passed were familiar to us as we passed them again, including our campsite for the last night of that hike where we spent the coldest night of our lives.

The view from the summit of Springer Mountain
As we continued up Springer Mountain, taking turns that circled us around toward the summit, at each turn I thought, "This is it, this leads to the top," only to find the trail led even further upward and around the mountain.  Then, suddenly it seemed, we came out of the trees to the rock formation that marks the beginning (or ending, depending upon your direction) of the Appalachian Trail.

Thinking of this today made me think of how much like life that hike was.  We pass scenes in our lives, some over and over again.  They are familiar and often reassuring.  As we look at the trail of our lives disappearing around the bend out of view it feels as if the things in our lives we are anticipating with joy will never arrive, and then - suddenly it seems - they are upon us.  Before we know it we are standing on an incredible summit, looking out over beautiful vistas.

Time has a way of fooling us.  It creeps almost unbearably slowly when we children and once we are seasoned adults it flies by with the speed of hummingbird's wings.  The clock is a cruel task-master in this life. 

But oh, dear one, if we have put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, there is coming a day where the rule of that cruel master will end.  The Scriptures tell us "that there should be time no longer."  What a wondrous thought!  Even as I write this, my eyes look at the clock to see how much time I have until I leave for work.  No more clocks seems like a glorious summit to look to!

"The sun shall be more more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:  but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory."
Isaiah 60:19

Long Creek Falls, Georgia

Friday, February 2, 2018

I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire...a repeat

I was looking through the lists of posts for this blog because I wanted to know when the first one was published. (Our blog was on another site before that so it is older than these posts reflect.)  I found a post from February 2009 about my Daddy who passed away in 1997.  This month will mark what would have been my Daddy's 100th birthday, so I have decided to re-post that blog entry.

(a repeat from 2009)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"I Don't Want to Set The World on Fire...

...I only want to start a flame in your heart."

Perhaps it was the chilly, wet, grey weather. Perhaps it was the way that weather makes all your joints ache when you move. Maybe it was because I was sitting across from the small window at the cafe looking out at the grim sky and the bare binestems of a solitary tree, watching an occasional gull fly past. Maybe it was because my Daddy's birthday will roll around in another ten days. He would have been, what, 91 this year? But he has been gone what will be twelve years next month. Anyway, Glen and I were sitting at the cafe, each doing our own work on our computers and the cafe was playing old music on the intercom. I really wasn't paying attention to the music until unexpectedly the words of the old song not only got my attention, they flung me far into the past. I could hear my father strumming on his guitar and singing those words..."I don't want to set the world on fire....I just want to start to a flame in your heart!" All of a sudden I was a little girl again whose only man in her life was her daddy, and my eyes filled with tears as I thought that I would love to hear him sing that funny old song to me just one more time.

At work this week, I attended an in-service on "Compassion Stress Fatigue". If I had known what the first "exercise" had been I would have surely opted to not go. We each were given a brown paper bag and slips of paper. On the slips of paper we wrote down things we loved (mine were people), things we loved doing, things we looked forward to doing in the future. Then we rolled the top down on our bags and shook them up. We were told the bags represented our lives. Then we were to imagine that we were given the diagnosis of inoperable cancer and we had six weeks to live. We were to open the bag and take out the slips of paper, slowly read what was on the paper, say goodbye to whatever was on it and tear it up. The first piece of paper I took up had the name "Jackson" on it -- my grandson. Immediately I was in tears. I could not tear up that piece of paper. How would I say goodbye to that piece of my heart? Then the moderator said something that put it all in perspective for me. "Tear up that thing you love and know you will never see it again!" I realized that if I know the Lord Jesus as my Savior and if those who are written on those slips know Him as Savior, then cancer and even death cannot truly separate us. As one hero in a romantic comedy says, "Death cannot end true love, it can only delay it awhile." 

For Christians, we know that death is only a temporary separation. There is another day coming, a day of reunion, a day in which we will have a perfect bond and union in which we will be together forever. After I remembered that, I was able to tear up all the other slips of paper without the emotional upheaval that the moderator expected. I had a Blessed Hope of which she was unaware.

Sitting in the cafe, my eyes still wet with the tears of missing my Daddy, Glen asked me to pick out a weekly memory verse for the Orange Moon Devotionals. I knew exactly which one I would choose. The one which reminds me that there will be a day when my Daddy and I will indeed, meet again:

"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, 
and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 
I Thessalonians 4:16,17

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Last September, for my sixieth birthday, our family spent a few days at the beach.  One of the things we had decided to do on my birthday was to go parasailing.

We set out that morning with our daughters and our two oldest grandchildren, aged eleven and ten.  None of us had parasailed before and we did not tell our grandchildren where we were going until we reached the dock.  They were thrilled when they realized what we were going to do and even more thrilled when the sail lifted them off the deck of the boat.

Our experience of parasailing was so different than what I had expected.  I expected the deck of the boat to be slippery and it was not.  I expected the lift-off to be abrupt and rough and it was not, it was as smooth as silk.  I expected to feel unstable and unsteady as the sail lifted us up, and it was not.  I felt comfortable and safe.
I fully expected to trip upon coming back to the boat and I didn't.  In fact, the crew were so expert at what they do we were just gently set upon the deck of the boat.

The thing which surprised me the most was the sound.  I expected to hear the roar of the boat's engine, the rushing of the wind and perhaps some sounds of the water below.  I heard none of that.  All I heard was peace.  Peace and quiet. 

Glen and I chatted while being pulled high above the water.  We remarked at the sharks and manna rays visible in the water below.  Mainly we enjoyed the absolute quiet.

While I expected the experience to be enjoyable I also expected it to be filled with nervousness and perhaps even a degree of anxiety and it was not.  It was peaceful and calm, and a lot of fun.

It reminds me of how I believe our transition from this life to life eternal will be.  We each have our preconceived notions of what that will be like and I am quite sure all of us are wrong to some degree.  The one thing I know is that it will be full of peace.  How could we go from living in these bodies of flesh to living in the spirit, "hid with Christ in God" and not experience "peace which passeth all understanding."

We should not look toward that day with fear or dread, but with great expectation, knowing that our very best days are ahead of us.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; 
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." 
Psalm 23:4

"But as it is written, 
'Eye hath not seen, nor ear hear, neither have entered into the heart of man, 
the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.' " 
I Corinthians 2:9

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Already Looking

As I sit here at my computer, our dog Sparrow came to my feet and stared up at me.  As there was no food in the near vicinity, I knew that what she wanted was to be put up in the chair with me.

While some may find a dog looking at you with exceptions filling her big brown eyes somewhat annoying, but I don't mind.  Sparrow is the sweetest dog we have ever had and knowing she just wanted to be next to me (at least until someone with food was in the vicinity) thrills me.

I especially love it at night when we settle into bed.  Sparrow always sleeps toward the end of the bed, but she will scoot over to me and get as close as to me as physically possible.  I don't think you could squeeze a molecule between us!  And while I must move her first before I move myself, I love that she wants to be next to me.

As much as I love my Sparrow, it is not even a drop in the bucket compared to the great love our Lord has for us.  Every time we turn our eyes toward Him, we will find His gaze already on us. As the prodigal's father saw his son returning home because, as the Scriptures say, "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him," so our Father looks and waits for our attention to turn toward Him.  We will never come to Him and find Him not already turned to us.

Whenever our voices lift to Him, we will find He has already answered, He has responded before while our words are still on our lips.

"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."  (Isaiah 65:24.)

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight." (Proverbs 15:8.)

We will never know the depths of the love of our Lord for us, but what a joyous eternity we will have learning and exploring and sounding the depths of that love!

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  
Romans 8:38, 39

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Workman Not Ashamed

Labor & Delivery is a hard place to learn to work.  It involves many different sets of knowledge and differing skill sets.

For example, a nurse new to Labor & Delivery must learn the ebb and flow of normal labor.  But she must also learn how to manage pre-term labor.  She must be able to recognize dysfunctional and arrested labor.  

Then she must learn all the complications pregnancy.  She must know the difference between chronic hypertension in pregnancy, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, severe pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and HELLP.  She must also know how to care for the pregnant diabetic and the effects her diabetes will have on her newborn.

Beyond all the complications of labor, she must learn how to care for and to resuscitate a newborn if necessary.  She must be able to help the new mother with breastfeeding and effectively teach this to the mother and support persons.

She must know how to be the circulating nurse and scrub nurse in Cesarean Sections, circumcisions and various emergency surgeries the patient could need.  This means she must be a master of sterile technique.

She has to know how to recover the surgical patient, caring for her not only in an obstetric sense, but also in a post-anesthesia sense.

She must learn to perform multiple skill sets.  She must learn to start IVs with large-bore needles.  She must learn how to interpret the fetal monitor and how to transmit that information accurately. She must master the art of a cervical exam (which is like putting your finger in your mouth and telling how long your tongue is.)  She must learn the newborn examination, how to perform lab test on a moving baby, how to weigh babies, how to provide post-circumcision care. 

She must learn how to be calm and encouraging in an emergency when every thing inside of her is screaming.  She must learn how to transmit information about a patient succinctly and accurately to a sleepy physician in the middle of the night.

Very little of this is taught in a nursing program.  Obstetrics, surgery, newborn and post-anesthesia care are usually glanced over, not covered in depth.  Nurses must learn this during their orientation program from the unit where they are working.  They must read and study, study and read.

I had one young nurse tell me the other day, "I don't learn by reading, I have to do."  I promptly told her that she had to read and learn the stack of information I had just given her before she could do.  I also informed her that I would be asking her questions on the information and I expected her to know the answers.

It only takes one frustrated physician to scream at a young nurse to make her feel ashamed of her lack of preparedness. (And yes, that does happen.  Nothing can give you the impetus to learn more than the scathing words of a physician flung at you across a nursing unit.)

And although birth itself has not changed since Eve gave birth to Cain, everything else which surrounds birth changes often.  This means nurses must be ever-learning, ever-relearning.

As young Christians there is so much for us to read and study, study and read as well.  In fact, it is my belief that we will spend all eternity learning more about our glorious Savior but never coming near the end of what we could learn.

In this life, our primary form of learning will come from the Bible and those who teach it.  The Bible is the authority on our Christian lives, on what our Lord has done, is doing and will be doing for us.  It is our study guide, our authoritative text, our script, our trail guide, our map. 

The Bible not only is our authority, it is THE authoritative text.  It is the only book of which can be said that every word is undeniable true.  Whether we understand what we are reading or not does not change that fact.  This is our go-to place when we need answers, encouragement, correction, direction, guidance and information.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3:16.)

Some Christians love to read the paper Bible they have had for decades, some love to listen to a narration of the Scriptures, some like to read it on their phone, tablet or computer.  It matters not how we read the Word of God, but that we do.

The Bible will reveal things to us of our Lord, our world and ourselves.  Consistent exposure to the Scriptures can reveal things about ourselves that the Lord is in the process of changing.  By the sword of His Word He is ever transforming us to the image of His dear Son.

"For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

Let us study and read, read and study, so that we have no need to be ashamed.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15