Sunday, September 11, 2022

Love and Joy from Fear and Terror

 Upon the anniversary of the September 11th attacks in 2001, I thought I would share this story of two very different September 11ths in my life.

"Love and Joy from Fear and Terror"
The two days could not have been more different, but they are inextricably linked in my brain by one simple thing. The date...September 11th.
I would never have imagined the horror and fear of September 11, 2001 could possibly be replaced with such love and joy a year later, but because of the grace of God and the faith of two loving Christians, that is exactly what happened.  
The first morning started off much like any other. My patient was in labor and even though her baby was early, things were going well.  All the admission procedures were completed and my patient had settled back to watch TV as I had settled back watching the fetal monitor.  In the quietness of the labor room we listened to the "whoosh, whoosh, whoosh" of the baby's heartbeat. Suddenly, breaking news reports flashed on the screen.  We watched in horror, with the rest of the nation, as planes crashed first into the Twin Towers, then the Pentagon and then later as the Towers collapsed to the ground.
It was a struggle to keep my thoughts on the fetal tracing in front of me.  More than anything I wanted to hear my husband's voice, which never failed to calm and reassure me.  But my patient's labor was progressing far too rapidly to afford the luxury of a phone call.  My thoughts were also flying to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, where my son was stationed for School of Infantry with the USMC.  Would they pull them out of training for deployment?  Could he already be on a ship to who knows where?
I thought too, of my niece who worked in New York City and her brother who worked at a law firm near the White House.  Were they safe?  How would one possibly contact them in all this chaos to know? I thought of calling my sister to inquire about them but I knew my anxiety would only compound her own.
These thoughts were not those of the idle daydreamer, but intruded upon thoughts of turning on a baby warmer, setting out the prep for delivery, and preparing warm baby blankets.   While my hands and feet moved rapidly to prepare for delivery, my mind moved lifting up prayers for my loved ones and for all those unknown to me whose lives had just been shattered by terror.
Then it was time for the baby's delivery.  The joy and happiness which normally surrounds this event seemed so inappropriate with the images of horror so fresh in our minds, in fact, still showing on the television screen.  I found I could not sing "Happy Birthday" to this little one, as I usually did, because I felt anything but happy.
There was an eerie silence in the room and as I placed this newborn baby on the warm blankets, I realized the mood of the room would not soon improve.  His little body showed all the signs that he had to work too hard to fill those little lungs with air.  His nostrils flared, his chest sunk deeply with each breath and the space between his ribs deepened dramatically.  But the worst sign was the "singing".  
Preterm babies tend to make a rhythmic, grunting sound when they are struggling to close the tiny air sacs in their lungs.  This sound is emitted when they must use accessory muscles to close the sacs because not yet pliable due to a lack of a substance called surfactant.  Labor and delivery and Nursery nurses euphemistically refer to this as "singing".  
As I listened to this little boy grunt and watched his retractions without improvement, I quickly did his footprints, applied his identification bracelets, wrapped him up and after a quick kiss from Mom, took him to the Special Care Nursery, where he would stay for several days.
After I had returned to the mother and started her recovery period, she turned to me and said "I should feel so happy today, but I just feel so sad."  
She had drawn out the last word until it alone expressed all of our attitudes.  I tried to reassure her that her feelings were valid.  Not only had she just witnessed the brutal murder of thousands of fellow citizens, but her newborn son had been whisked out of her presence with hardly a "hello".  It had really been such a sad experience, and apart from those deliveries where there had been loss of life or severe anomalies, it was by far the saddest delivery I had ever witnessed.  Never will I forget the events of that morning or the cheerless, quiet delivery or her grief stricken face afterward.
A year later I was amazed that we even had any cases scheduled for 9-11.  Who would knowingly choose that date for the birth of their baby?  What memories would always be associated with this child's birthday?  And yet, here they were, pillows and suitcases in hand, ready and anxious to have their baby.  They were not strangers to me either; they had been in my six week childbirth classes.
Their class had been my favorite in twenty-one years of childbirth education.  It had been a big class with nine couples and the only one of that size still with all nine couples attending by the sixth class.  These couples had so bonded with each other, and with me, that I think if I had let them, they would have continued to meet each Monday night long after the classes had finished.  In that series of classes we all laughed together, we cried together and then laughed together again.  It was by far the best series I had ever taught and the best group of couples I had ever had the pleasure to teach.
So when I saw Bob and Joan with their pillows and suitcases, I was thrilled to be a part of their special occasion.  It was probably my first real smile of the day.  As I got them admitted and Joan settled in bed, she told me that many of her family and friends had suggested she change the date of her induction from 9-11.  Her response to them changed my outlook for the whole day.
She said, "I thought the best way to thwart the terrorists, is to bring love and joy and laughter to this date." 
What a glorious thought!  And what a glorious day!  A beautiful, healthy baby girl was born and this time I sang "Happy Birthday" to little Gabriella with a heart full of joy.
Each September 11th, I remember those who were lost in that horrible tragedy and those brave firemen and policemen who died trying to save them, but I also remembered something else.  I remembered two smiling, joyous faces and the daughter they loved, destined to bring joy and love out of fear and terror.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Psalm 30:5

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

An Expected End

 Several years ago my husband, Glen, removed some unsightly azalea bushes from in front of our house.  This started the plan for the flower beds which replaced them.  There are two flower beds, one on each side of the front of the house.  One is in full shade, one is in full, western sun.

From the very beginning I had a plan in my mind how I wanted these flower beds to look.  It was only a matter of time, money and sweat to make it a reality.  The first things we planted were five hydrangea bushes and five miniature gardenia bushes.  Then came the flax lilies and little by little our flower beds grew.

But the flower beds are not perfect yet.  Each Spring brings additions and deletions.  Plants get moved from one part of the flower bed to another.  Some plants just don't do well in that location and are replaced with something else.  The two flower beds also need two completely different types of plants.  I can't put plants that need full sun in the bed that gets only full shade.  Plants that thrive in full shade wilt quickly in the bed which receives full sun.  Yet, I want a cohesive look to both beds.  Thank the Lord the flax lilies do well in both beds and are the uniting feature.

Each Spring Glen and I have a discussion about the flower beds.  I try to explain what my goal is for that year and he will end up saying "I just can't see it."  While I know what he says is true, this sentence is so odd to me because in my mind I can clearly see the completed beds in all their detail.  Year by year I make changes to conform those flower beds to that image in my head.

This reminds me of our Lord.  He has a plan for His children's lives, a specific plan for each one of His children.  No two people have exactly the same plan.  His plan for us is ongoing, specific and detailed. He knows exactly what it will look like because His thoughts are of an "expected end."

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil,
to give you and expected end." (Jeremiah 29:11)

His plan, prepared just for us, is also perfect.  Unlike my plans --like planning to buy additional impatiens this Spring then forgetting to buy them --there are no flaws in His plan. He knows just how much sun, just how much rain we each need to make us grow and flourish in His garden and then He provides the sunshine and the rain.

"As for God, His way is perfect:  the word of the Lord is tried: 
He is a buckler to all them that trust in Him.."  (2 Samuel 22:31)

Even though we are not complete yet, His plans for us are.  In His mind what He has planned, He will perform.  It is a done deal to Him.  There is not any possibility that His plans will not be completed.  Not a one.

"I have purposed it, I will also do it." (Isaiah 46:11)

In any moment when we are perplexed about things in our lives, confused by what is happening to and around us, let us remember we are in the midst of God's plan for our lives.  God's perfect, personal plan for us will absolutely be perfected one day.  Let us remember that, to hold it dear to our hearts.  Let us think on the thought that every second of every day the Lord is working out His plan in our lives and it will be accomplished.

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

His perfect plan for us is to conform us to the image of His dear Son.  I work each Spring to bring our flower beds closer to the image in my head.  The Lord works every moment to bring us closer to the image of His Son. He not only has the plan, but He provides the power  as well.

"For it is God which worketh in you 
both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

We can be sure of one thing, what He has planned, it will be done.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

"God Isn't Doing Anything"

 I heard of someone saying once, "God isn't doing anything in my life."

I wondered how this person could feel that way.  I knew he meant that the Lord wasn't doing anything spectacular in his life, but I pondered on how many quiet, almost secret, things the Lord does in all our lives each day.  

I had several questions I wanted to ask him.

"Is your heart beating?  Did you do anything to make it beat?"

"Are you breathing without even having to think about it?"

"Are the 7 octillion (a 7 followed by 27 zeroes) atoms in your body doing whatever it is that they do without you having to lift a finger?"

"Have you eaten this week?  Did you plant the food? Did you cause it to grow?  Did you provide the sunshine it needed?"

"Are you clothed? Did you weave the fabric?  Did you cause the cotton to grow from which the fabric was woven?"

If God never does another thing noticeable in our lives (which will not happen because He is continually working out His purpose in us) we could still not say He is doing nothing because He is maintaining our lives, from our own heartbeat and breath to what we eat and wear and so much more.

"Consider the ravens; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them:  how much more are ye better than the fowls?" (Luke 12:24,25.)

Whenever we are tempted to believe "God is not doing anything" let us begin to count and be thankful for the many things we can't see and yet He does over and over again for us each day.  As we begin to choose thankfulness instead of despair, I am quite sure He will open our eyes to see more and more of what He is doing in and through and for us each day.

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." 

Philippians 2:13

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Never Bored

Thirty-six days from today I will have a major change in my life.  

For the first time in 44 years, I will not be working full time.  When discussing this change with my coworkers, inevitably the question will arise, "What will you do with all your time?"  This is closely followed  by "Won't you be bored?"

Backpacking in Virginia
Backpacking in Virginia
My first response is a chuckle.  I have so many things I want to do, so many hobbies which have only received snatches of time up to now.  I want to kayak and backpack and finally master that F chord on my guitar.  I want to write more and  walk more and finally return to an exercise routine.  I want to read books I haven't read and re-read books I have read and loved.  I want to learn a new language, to travel and explore.  I don't plan on being "bored."

I think when some people speculate about our lives in heaven, they have the same feelings as my coworkers.  They are afraid they will be bored.  I don't know where the notion of Christians floating on clouds playing harps originated, but I believe it is so false.  

Our Lord is an active God, doing so many things at the same time. . .

He maintains all the vastness of creation "upholding all things by the word of His power," (Hebrews 1:3).

He is with every creature who passes, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father," (Matthew 10:29.)  

He is calling all men to Himself.  

He is listening and responding to the prayers of all simultaneously.  

He is working out His "eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus," (Ephesians 3:11.)

I believe the activity seen in an atom only mimics the activity which occurs in the Trinity:  the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together to maintain all things and to draw all people to Himself.

Why would such an active God lead His children to inactivity?  Pictures from satellite telescopes hurling through space reveal a universe so much greater than we ever imagined.  Each galaxy contains planets waiting to be inhabited, waiting for new expressions of His glory and majesty.  I like to think those planets are waiting for the redeemed to inhabit them.  I like to think, too, animals will live on those planets, for as I heard recently, "they are going to need critters."

The Lord will have so much for us to do, but because we will live in redeemed, perfected bodies, we will never tire, never feel weary.  Our work will be done in a sense of perfect peace and rest because our God within us is the Prince of Peace and rest.  

Just as I have so many things I want to be doing in 36 days, the Lord has an eternity of things for us to do.  Mostly, we will be learning more and more of Him, His love, His character, His way.  We will never come to an end of that learning, for He is infinite, there is no shore to the ocean of who He is.  He will forever have wonderful things for us to do with Him and through Him in our eternal life, things we cannot even imagine in this life.

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, 

the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."

1 Corinthians 2:9

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A Still Small...Beep

Picture of Ellie just for cuteness
 As I was preparing my beagle's breakfast this morning, I had left the refrigerator door open. 

Our refrigerator has an alarm if the door is left open for more than a minute or so.  Thankfully, this is not an obnoxious type of alarm, such as the one in car when you forget to fasten your seat belt.  This alarm is very soft, just a barely perceptible "beep, beep, beep".

I realized just how soft this alarm was when I walked away to set Ellie's food down.  I didn't hear the beeping, but as I walked back closer to the refrigerator I heard it again.  I realized that I had to be close to the refrigerator to hear the alarm.

Immediately, I thought of the story of Elijah:

 "And He (the Lord) said, 'Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.' And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord as not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still, small voice.  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave." (1 Kings 19: 11-13). 

Sometimes we all wish for the Lord to make His will known to us through some fantastic measure, well, perhaps NOT an earthquake, or fire, but something dramatic and unmistakable.  There have likely been those occurrences, but in our lives, they are rare - if they happen at all.  Instead, the Lord chooses to work in our lives as He did that day with Elijah, by a "still, small voice."  In our lives, the voice is not even audible, but softly spoken in our spirits.

This requires two things.  First that we be still enough to hear.

"Be still, and know that I am God:  I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10)

In this day and time being still is difficult.  Not necessarily stilling our bodies, but stilling our minds.  We will either be distracted from all that constantly blares at us from televisions and telephones, or we will be bombarded by the constant temptation of fear, fret and worry that threaten our stillness.  But to hear that still, small voice we must first "be still".

The second thing required is for us to be close enough to hear the voice.  Elijah heard the voice because he was standing where the Lord had told him to be so he could indeed hear that "still, small voice."  I had to be close enough to the refrigerator to hear the soft beeping, and when I walked further away I was no longer aware of it.  It was still beeping at me, but I couldn't hear it. The Psalmist said, "But it is good for me to draw near to God:  I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Thy works," (Psalms 73:28.)  In the New Testament, we are encouraged to "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you," (James 4:8).

So let us "draw nigh" to our Lord, let us block out all the voices that threatened to shout above all else, and let us listen, let us listen to our God communing with that "still, small voice."

Monday, February 14, 2022


The other day I was looking at pictures of the universe from the Hubble telescope and was astounded at the vastness of space.  I began to think about our universe, which is comprised of myriads of galaxies, stars and planets and solar systems.  Each of these is composed of various substances that are themselves made of atoms.  The atoms in turn are comprised of protons, electrons and neutrons.  These atomic particles are made up of sub-atomic particles called quarks.  For reference, the diameter of a proton is about a milimeter divided by a thousand billion.  The quark is smaller than that. So the vastness of the universe is simply a collection of infinitesimally small components joined together to create a cohesive whole.

Then I thought about plants.  We have many beautiful, large old oak trees in our city.  They are large trees, but at one time, they each were a single tiny acorn.  By the same token, tiny seeds planted with thoughts of the spring, turn into large plants bearing fruit in the summer.

The same is true of us.  As adults, we consider ourselves big.  But before we were adults, we were teenagers and before that we were children.  Before we were children we were babies.  Before we were born, we were fetuses (the time of fetal development from 8 weeks to birth.)  Before we were fetuses, we were a collection of cells known as a blastocyst.  Before that we were the two celled union of sperm and egg, called a zygote.  A zygote is roughly about 0.4 milimeters.  We were very, very tiny.

It seems as though all things that we perceive as "big" are either comprised of tiny things, or was at one time tiny.

Except God.  He has always been big.  

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable."  Psalms 145:3

He has always been what He is.  He has always been big.  King Solomon, the wisest of all men, stated:

"But will God in very deed dwell with me on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built!"  2 Chronicles 6:18

God has never been small.  He has always been as He is now.  He has always been great.  He has always been God.  He has always been.

"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God."  Psalm 90:2

This fills my heart with great comfort.  Each of us in our lifetimes will experience some very great things, some which seem wonderful and some which seem tragic.  Our God, Who  never changes, will be there with us for each of these if we have trusted in Him.  And He will always be the same.  He will always be great.  He will always be bigger than us, and bigger than any problem we encounter.  And He will always be for us.  The Apostle Paul asked the question well, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31.)

So the next time we face what appears to be an insurmountable problem, or we peer into a night sky and view the vastness of space, let us remember that our God is bigger than anything.  Bigger than our problems, bigger than our galaxy, bigger than our fears.  He is great and His greatness is unsearchable.

For Thou art great and doest wondrous things:  Thou are God alone."  
Psalm 86:10

"Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable."
Psalm 145:3

Friday, January 14, 2022


One of my best friends recently got a new tattoo.  It is simply the letters "tpwk", which stands for "treat people with kindness."

Ashlee needs no reminder to treat people with kindness because she does that everyday.  We work together, so I have the opportunity to observe her in the best of times and the most stressful of times and she is always kind and respectful to others.

But the picture of her tattoo made me think about what it represented.  My first thought was the many references to kindness in the Scriptures:

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." 1 Corinthians 13:4.

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  Ephesians 4:32.

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering." Colossians 3:12.

"And to godliness [add] brotherly kindness: and to brotherly kindness charity." 2 Peter 1:7

The most striking of the verses in Scripture regarding kindness however, are those that speak of the Lord's kindness toward us:

"For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.  Praise ye the Lord."  Psalm 117:2.

"...turn unto the Lord your God:  for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness,"  Joel 2:13.

"...for I knew that Thou are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness."  Jonah 4:2.

None of us need to look to the dictionary for the definition of the word kindness, we know it when we see it.  When someone is kind to us, doesn't that make us feel good?  

The verb in Ashlee's tattoo really stands out to me..."treat." Now let us look to the dictionary.  One of the definitions of the word treat is "to provide with enjoyment or gratification."  When someone is kind to us, especially if we didn't expect it, isn't it like receiving a treat?  Isn't it something that brings enjoyment?  

Many of us have had the experience of giving a treat to a child.  Or, in our house these days its giving a treat to our dog.  This clearly brings enjoyment to them.  We have the ability, the capability to give a "treat" to everyone with whom we come in contact and it takes so little to do so.  Kindness is something everyone can give.  A smile, a nice word, opening a door, saying "please" and "thank you" are all simple acts of kindness.  The opportunities for kindness abound all around us if we will open our eyes to see them.

Let us look for ways to "treat" others with the joy of kindness.  It will brighten their day, lighten our own heart and will show the kindness of the Lord to others as we do so.

Me and Ashlee on Nurses' Day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Shimmering Trail of Unseen Origins

 I was walking Ellie the other day and noticed something shimmering on the sidewalk.  A snail had left trails on the sidewalk that sparkled in the sunlight.  As Ellie and I continued down the street, I thought about that snail.

I never saw the snail.  I didn't know if the snail was young or old, or the purpose of his journey.  What I did know was that he crossed the sidewalk and in doing so, left a trail of his travels.  The trail itself was not pretty, but when the sunlight caught it, it became a glistening strand.

The snail caused me to think about myself.  I encounter or pass many people in my daily life, most of whom I do not know.  I don't know their names and they don't know mine.  I know nothing of their lives, their families or what they do with their days. But I didn't know the snail either and his trip across the sidewalk  impressed me enough to sit and write about it.  Why?

Because what he did reflected the sun.   The beauty of the snail's trail came not in the trail itself, but in the sunlight it reflected.  The shimmer, the glistening, the sparkle was not of the snail, but of the sun, and that sparkle made me smile.

Oh, may I be more like the unseen snail on the sidewalk.  May I live my life in such a way as to leave a trail that glistens in the light of the One true Son.  May His light so shine upon my path that others are led to Him by the shimmer they see.  May my passing someone's way lead them to see His Light and their faces turn up in smile because of the sparkle it imparts.  And most of all, like the snail, let me forgotten in the process.

Let Me Be Forgotten

Words by Glen Davis

As the dew which brought sweet manna,
and then quietly stole away.
I long to be forgotten, Lord,
to seek no accolade.

For each day the light grows brighter
as it shines in your dear face.
Only One is due all honor,
and only One inhabits praise,

So let me be forgotten, Lord.

Yes, I see it, Lord, no I see them,
those prints upon Your hands,
and I know that ’til forever 
the cry of Heavenly lands

 will sing bless the name of Jesus,
praise to the Father be,
as by the Spirit’s humble heart
we fall unto our knees.

So let me be forgotten, Lord.

Monday, January 10, 2022



That's how I felt when my patient tested positive for Covid-19 the other night!  Only my cape was a gortex gown and my N95 mask was covered with an additional medical mask and face shield.  But I didn't feel invincible because of what was on me, but rather because of what was in me.

I have had two Covid vaccination shots plus the booster, I have now had Covid and I have also had the monoclonal antibodies.  Grace, a friend of mine at work who also had Covid when I did, remarked that we were probably the best people to take care of Covid patients that night.

I am not a stranger to caring for Covid patients, in fact, I was the nurse for the first delivery of a Covid patient in our hospital. (You can read about that here.)  I have never felt undue fear in the role, but I have always been very careful to take all the necessary precautions.  

But this time I felt different.  Although I still used all the personal protection equipment, I didn't feel that my protection came primarily from what I wore, but from what was circulating through my body.  I knew there was something inside of me giving me a strength, a protection I didn't normally have.

How true this is of the Christian.  We aren't strong because we have puffed ourselves up to be.  In fact, the Apostle Paul stated this about himself:

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."  (2 Corinthians 12:10.)

He could make that statement because of the verse that came before it.  Paul was speaking of the "thorn in the flesh" the Lord had given him, and how he had asked for it to be removed.  This is what Paul said God's response to him was:

"And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' "

Paul then affirms, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2Corinthians 12:9.)

As we walk the Christian life, we are not strong, loving, peaceful, kind -- any attribute you want to include -- because of ourselves.  No, it is entirely because of Christ who lives in us, as the Scriptures tell us,  "Christ in you, the Hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27.)  We are strong because He is strong in and through us as we trust Him by faith.  We are loving because He is love in and through us.  It is Him, it is all about Him, as we by faith trust Him to "will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13.)

Taking care of my Covid patient, I felt strong, powerful, almost invincible not because I am those things, but because of the natural and injected antibodies flowing in my body.  In the same vein, we have the attributes of the Holy Spirit because He lives in us.  Just as I trust those antibodies are helping me against Covid, we trust by faith the Holy Spirit works in us.

One of my favorite passage which speaks to this is found in Galatians:

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; 
yet not I but Christ liveth in me:  
and the life which I no 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

 I couldn't resist posting this picture that circulated during the first year of the pandemic.  It touched my heart and I am grateful its creator.