Friday, February 28, 2014

Mission experience

No baby yet!  Wanted to share this story with you...from my recent mission trip:

End of another beautiful mission! God is so good. Highlight of my trip: On the second day of clinical a woman came up to me saying "Mum! Mum!" She was pointing to her neck and speaking tagalog. A translator nearby explained that she was showing me a scar from a previous year where we had removed her goiter...I looked closer and could barely make out the scar!

Then she hugged me and told me that she remembered how I had taken her into the operating room and helped her on the table, telling her we were going to pray for a safe surgery...She said all she heard was "Hail Mary" and then she was thing she knew the surgery was over. :0)

Before we left she hugged me again and said she could never forget my face...thanked me again and left me teary and greatful. Definite wow-moment. God is good! :0)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Waiting Game

      Sooooo the most certain thing about a baby coming is that the baby's coming will be uncertain.  This is the eighth time I have been with my sister as she has gone into labor (well not counting the last one when I arrived home from Mexico, drove straight to the hospital from the airport and she delivered 30 minutes later) and for me personally (counting other sisters and friends) probably the 19th or 20th birth I have attended...and no two have ever been the same!  Or honestly, even similar.  What I've learned in the waiting game is not to expect and not to predict.

      My sister broke her water with her first two before even going into labor.  The next several were contractions, followed by excited visits to Labor and Delivery to be checked, and then back home again to wait some more.  Her last was an induction after she developed PIH and started showing signs of pre-eclampsia.  This pregnancy followed suit with the PIH and a new complication: breech presentation.

    This morning she underwent an External Cephalic Version and now the baby is in the correct position to be delivered.  On the way home from the hospital the contractions began and several hours later they continue to occur every 25 minutes or so.  One of our other sisters just texted me, "She'll have this baby by morning!"  My reply, "I hope so!"  but if worries.  I used to have this sense of anticipation: Let's get this show on the road!  But now I just feel a sense of patient waiting...this baby will come when this baby is ready.  There is no rush and no use hoping for him or her to arrive one minute earlier than he or she will.  Cause honestly: it won't change a thing.

     In the meantime she is rubbing Clary Sage Oil on her belly and resting up.  She's got a big job ahead!  Prayers, please, for a healthy delivery!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Unanswered prayers

I find unanswered prayers disheartening...I want to know WHY?  Why did God say no?  But if I am completely honest with myself, I guess it is none of my business.  Even my own unanswered prayers...if I am trusting God with my life, I have to trust Him with the unanswered desires as much as the fulfilled ones.  

I wonder if, when I get to heaven, the unanswered prayers will be explained or if I just won't care anymore?  Trying to let go of something you have prayed for with the perseverance of the persistent widow and faith to move mountains is a difficult task.  At what point do we not ask God for the impossible?  At what point do we accept that we should stop asking? 

"This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every

person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future 

that only He can see."

                                              ~Corrie Ten Boom, holocaust survivor

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Will One Step Forward and Two Steps Back Eventually Get You There?

You don't always see how far you've come until you turn around and look behind you.  Today I had a critically ill patient that rapidly required a central line, intubation, 2 pressers and massive iv fluid resuscitation in just two short hours.  After stabilizing the patient and sending her off to CT scan I met with her family in the waiting room to explain the critical nature of the woman's illness, her prognosis, and how much we could hope for a recovery.     

It was only after the event that I was able to assimilate what had happened, what my part had been.  During the crisis, I was reacting and making decisions based on years of training and experience.  Each decision came almost as a reflex, directly related to the changing situation.

I remember when I was just a new nurse, working on an orthopedic floor, and the first time I had an asymptomatic patient with an elevated blood pressure.  I panicked and my first reaction was to call the doctor.  Another, more seasoned nurse, suggested looking to see if there was already something ordered and sure enough, verapamil was ordered prn (as needed).  Calming down and thinking about the problem saved me a call to an irate doctor.

Fast forward 11 years and I am working in a fast-paced emergency department, facing life-threatening complications on a regular basis, as a nurse practitioner.  How strange the ways of our Lord!  If someone had told me eleven years ago that I would have the knowledge and confidence to perform this task, I never would have believed them!  Even five years ago, I still would have felt unsure...God has perfect timing.

I think I can take away from this reflection that God knows exactly what He is doing... and why He has asked me to wait for a family.  His way is not my way, but it is the best way.  Looking backwards at the growth He has brought me personally just from experiences within my career, I can trust that my heart and future are going to develop exactly when and how He wants.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Hmmm life is always throwing unexpected curves!  And because my life isn't busy enough with work, jet lag and my sister having complications with her 8th pregnancy....I randomly went out and bought a car today.  And my sister spent the day doing pelvic tilts, playing music, shining flashlights on the underside of her belly and drinking wine (all while on bed rest of course).  Because that is supposed to turn the baby around or make your blood pressure go down or at least make you stop worrying that you have Pregnancy Induced Hypertension and are nine months pregnant with a breech baby.

And yes, strangely enough, this is the intro to my I-thou relationship post I warned you about a couple weeks ago.  I have been reading Dietrich Von Hildebrand's Marriage the mystery of faithful love and I love it.  Why?  Because he talks about love as a real and tangible thing...but more than that...a God-given thing.  Honestly, if all I did was listen to the radio or watch TV I would have no idea that love can be real and love can be forever.

Per Dietrich: "Two persons can be united through a common interest,  by facing with each other something extraneous to themselves...this may be called a we relationship wherein the partners remain side by side, in which they walk side by side, hand in hand even."

But then he switches gear...the focus changes: "But two human beings can also turn to face one another, and in touching one another in an interpenetrating glance, give birth to a mysterious fusion of their souls.  They become conscious of one another, and making the other the object of his contemplation and responses, each can spiritually immerse himself in the other.  This is the I-thou relationship, in which the partners are not side by side, but face to face."

Ummmm WOW!  I remember when I fell in love, a myriad of emotions, new thoughts, new experiences and one underlying thought: WHY DIDN'T ANYONE EVER TELL ME THIS EXISTED???  But the truth was, until I fell in love...I couldn't understand, I couldn't know.  I wasn't capable of understanding this love until I actually experienced it.  And before I experienced it, I had no clue I was missing out on anything...rather I thought I loved and was loved.   But never before had something new been created!  When I fell in love with this person it felt like something new now existed, that our love was tangible, was real.

This experience gave me so much hope for the I can't wait to experience the fullness of marital love, the fullness of maternal love and the fullness of eternal love.  Realizing that moment of knowing and understanding brought me to an awareness of how much I STILL DON'T KNOW!  And how wonderful!  Because if this was all: what a limited love life would hold for me!

There was a story I read in high school about a heaven for fish: a clean pond, plenty of food, no predators...but what if a heaven for fish meant they could grow legs? And breathe outside of water?  And love another fish with a perfect love?  I cannot fathom heaven but I rather think that is because it will be so amazing it is beyond me to comprehend it.  And as falling in love has taught me how little I really know about life and has also shown me how beyond my expectations God truly is!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We will walk on

I painted this today.  As part of a class, along with 20 other people.  But even though we all painted the same thing, no two paintings were alike.  And in each painting, I was able to find something to admire.  Reminds me of how great an artist Our Lord two of us are alike.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Crazy old ladies

One of my patients today was the cutest, craziest old lady I've come across (and I've come across quite a few!) but how quickly we all fell in love with her!  From the moment she came into the department she was serenading us with song.  Laying back in the stretcher she sang songs from the thirties and forties almost continually.  My first encounter she stopped singing and greeted me with, "Hello beautiful lady!  You look lovely today!"  Everything I did or said met with her approval and when I was done she couldn't stop thanking me, "Thank you beautiful!"  

Throughout her workup she continually broke into song in her off-key, gravely voice.  At one point someone asked her to sing Danny Boy and she answered, "Of course!" before breaking into a lovely rendition of Morning Has Broken.  When it was time for her to go home, I was almost sad.  Rarely have I seen so much joy, such pleasure in living or others. My coworkers all commented on it...she had no idea what was going on but she was "so nice" about it!

In contrast another one of my patients also had dementia...but she was angry, combative and trying to bite the staff.  I do not doubt that someday I too will be a crazy, old woman.  I can only pray that I will be as lovely and positive as my first patient!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jetlagged, Medical Missions and Blizzards

Well I had planned to write a post on the book I am reading (and referred to in my last post) but life rather caught up with me and whisked me away to the Philippines for a medical mission.  I arrived home this evening on the last plane into Boston shortly before they canceled all in-going and out-going flights.  Apparently a blizzard was coming to welcome my return.

Now after 30 hours of travel and erratic bouts of sleep I find myself wrestling with jet lag...hence I am awake writing on my blog almost immediately upon my return.

The mission was a success any way you slice it.  We saw over 1600 patients in the medical, dental and optical clinics and performed over 60 surgeries within five days.  My fellow missionaries were all upbeat, joyful and excited to serve.  The patients were sweet, grateful and in need of care.  From pneumonia to pustular scabies to mumps...we saw them all.  Many had gone to a "healer" who would place tape on various parts of the body with strange writings on them.  One little boy with a broken arm had four small pieces of tape on his body but no sling or cast.  Another young man with yellow eyes and obvious liver disease had one on his head.

I have mixed feelings about the "healers."  I know they are a part of the culture and yet it is a pagan tradition.  I also don't see that they are helping the people...but I suppose all stories are anecdotal for their effectiveness or ineffectiveness.  Regardless, the people seem to have faith in them, judging by the number of people who contract their services.

The above picture is from a small island adjacent to one of the poorest districts of the city where we worked.  About once a year the river floods and the people evacuate.  Afterwards they return and have to completely rebuild their homes.  The bridge is a rickety combination of bamboo and sacks of sand.  Children jump off it to swim in the water, contaminated with sewage, laughing and playing, full of joy.  "Hello, Po!" they shout as we walk by, summersaulting off the bridge in an effort to get our attention.

This was my fifth visit to the islands of the Philippines.  How I have come to love these people!  Their smiles, their joy in greeting us, their generosity...I have never seen anything like it in all my travels.

How blessed I am that God allowed me the privilege of serving them!

Sunday, February 2, 2014


I love how I have so many different friendships with so many wonderful, unique people and somehow they all connect to me without connecting to each other.  It is such a "wow" moment to realize how diverse my friends really are... I have my childhood friends, my school friends, my church friends, my friary friends, my mission-trip friends...there are my sister friends, my best friends, my work friends, my friends-from-work-but-also-friends-outside-of-work friends, my married friends, my single friends, my friends of my family friends, I even have friends of my friends family friends, I have my pilgrimage friends, I have my friends in other countries, I have my friends in other states....well really it just goes on and on...and these friendships just seem to keep growing the more I age like the ripples in a pond.

I think when I was young I had the idea that: 1) Everyone had to like me and 2) I needed to be everyone's best friend.  As I've matured, I've come to realize there are SO MANY TYPES of friendships.  There are best friends, lifetime friends, time-in-life friends, and mutual interest friends.  There are spiritual friends, material friends, and superficial friends (who want to know you because you're "cool" or important in some way).   There are friendships that wax and wane and others that seem to only improve with time like good wine.

I think the one common thread that I find running through all of my friendships is spiritual: these friendships come from God.  It's when He isn't present that these friendships fall apart or go naturally to the wayside.  Even in the absence of a frank acknowledgement of His presence, whenever virtue is practiced or love displayed, He is there.

I've also learned that I CAN be friendly to ALL but I do not HAVE to be friends with ALL.  This is important because in friendship there are certain obligations.  You make a commitment when you become what? To care, of course.  The closer the friend, the more involved your obligation to care is.  Normally this is not a heavy burden but rather a joy!    

I know that my closest and best friendships have God at the center.  Someone (was it CS Lewis?) once said friendship is that moment when we discover, "What? You too?  I thought I was the only one!"  The people that I am the closest friends with have shared that moment with me: "What?  You love God too?  I thought I was the only one!"

Next I will reflect on the corollary to friendship: love and I-thou relationships (don't worry, it will be short!)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nothing is beyond You

Where could I go, where could I run
Even if I found the strength to fly
And if I rose on the wings of the dawn
And crashed through the corner of the sky

If I sailed past the edge of the sea
Even if I made my bed in Hell
Still there You would find me

'Cause nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety

The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

Time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
Death has lost its sting

And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

~Lyrics by Rich Mullins et al