Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some glad morning...

I went with Dad and Mom to one of the long-term care facilities he sings at.  I sat next to a bunch of people in wheel chairs.  The lady closest to me was very hard of hearing, which is kind of the bane of my existence.  My voice is almost completely impossible for people with hearing difficulties to understand.  This has led to me being called Elee, Elsie, Elisie, Denise, and many other variations.  I despise yelling at people and when I have to yell at people for them to hear me I loathe it even more.  I usually don't "yell" loud enough and so I have to repeat myself several times.

Anyhoo, the lady next to me usually glared at me when she couldn't understand me, but I did learn a little about her.  It made me smile when (for most of the songs she sat quietly and listened) she would hear a song she recognized and would belt it out loudly.  She especially liked I'll Fly Away.  I told her I liked her voice.  She yelled, "WHAT!?" in the middle of the song and Dad had to repeat it so she could actually hear.  Great.

That was all a digression...  I love being with older adults.  They are treasures and it is one of my goals as a nurse to make sure I value them appropriately.  They have no pretensions, no business...  They are wheeled to various places- almost all autonomy has been removed.  Suddenly as I sat listening to songs about God's grace, love, and power I felt like all of my worries meant nothing.  What did these people have to be worried about?  They weren't.  

A lovely woman I met in my home care rotation told me she didn't know why people worried so much.  "There's no reason to worry." She said...  This woman had a stroke 20 years ago and has lost much of her previous function.  She lives in an adult family home and has to have assistance with toileting.  And suddenly all of my worries slipped away.  What am I worried about?  My job?  School?  Family relationships?

I get so distracted from God. All those things I just stated seem to fill my mind constantly.  And then God allows me to see a different perspective.  Older adults are coming to the end of their lives.  All of their previous glory and achievements have all but faded away.  Now they have to humbly accept help or rigidly refuse it.  Everything is stripped away...  All of our ridiculous pride in our accomplishments, all of the worries about the cares of this world.  Suddenly you're being carted around to eat dry chicken and then having some stranger give you a bath.  The fact that you ran the Boston marathon suddenly doesn't seem to matter that much.

God is my solace and I forget that.  Distractions keep me from seeing that in reality, I'm just like those older adults...  I just have more things to deceive me into thinking that I'm very important and busy.   But when you come to the end of your life and all of those things are taken away, what is left?  Will I still be worried about ridiculous things or will I have realized that God really was the one who provided for me...  And all of my worrying meant nothing.

I'm pretty sure my 80 or so years on earth will go by very quickly and soon I'll be wearing diapers and being fed thickened soups.  It seems like it's preparation for what's coming.  All of my achievements are gone and suddenly I am alone.  Soon I will stand before my Lord by myself with no distractions.  This is glorious. May I live with this in mind.  All the things of earth will soon pass.

Monday, December 20, 2010


"I like those scenes in the Bible where God stops people and asks them to build an altar. You'd think He was making them do that for Himself, but I don't think God really gets much from looking at a pile of rocks. Instead, I think God wanted his people to build altars for their sake, something that would help them remember, something they would look back on and remember the time when they were rescued, or they were given grace."  -Donald Miller.  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years pg 213-214

We used to sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing at my first church.  The second verse in that song talks about raising an Ebenezer (coincidentally, since Christmas is five days away...  Ebenezer Scrooge?  He failed to remember how God had blessed him?  Did Charles Dickens do that on purpose?  Maybe I should read it and find out), which basically means the same thing as an altar. I remember Mike talking about how much he loved that verse and something about building ebenezers in our lives.  Obviously nothing except the fact that I now thought Come Thou Fount was cool came from that talk. Sometimes I think my skull is impenetrable.
Side note:  I do feel that introspection can be very dangerous. My aim in this is not to dive deeper and deeper into myself.

A few years ago I thought it would be a great idea to write down the things I was grateful for.  I kept that up for about 2 months and then I forgot.  It got old.  My commitment to God is faulty and faithfulness is not my strong suit. Last year I struggled with not feeling any emotion while singing in church.  I felt nothing and the lyrics were uninteresting to me.  I would rather think about that cute boy three rows ahead of me, and then, dangit...  I would see his wife next to him.

I talked to a few people about how I felt dead.  I used to love to sing to God...  Songs about His greatness and love were so applicable. I wondered why I no longer felt any desire, why my first love was gone. After prayer and talking to wise Christians, and several months of confusion and angst it finally came to me.  I was not moved to praise God because the cute guy in front of me had more of a space in my brain than the good things God had done in my life.  Once again God's unfailing and perfect love drew me back.  I repented and I decided to start blogging about His grace again. I did for a little while, but once again I stopped. This time it was because I had started the month of lunacy in the junior year.  I was "too busy" to write about His grace.  That always backfires on me...

A few months later I was gently reminded that I had ignored God once again.  And it was time to change my journal technique.  Now I was going to include the evidences of God's grace in my life, as well as prayer needs, and a reflection on the reading.  This forced me to work on most of the spiritual disciplines.  This has kept up ever since, but now God is calling me to do more than that. 

When I got back from Mexico Mom and Dad told me that I should write down my memories from that trip.  Did I?  No, because I was stubborn and lazy.  Also, that month after I got back from Mexico I was a total slug and I've never felt so worthless.  Basically, I learned that a calm Saturday should be just that... One day, not a whole month.  Hulu loses its charm after the third episode of Doogie Houser.

At clinical conference with Prof. K. and Danette I talked about a patient who was developmentally delayed and didn't actually want our help, but she really needed it.  I pondered what to do with people like that and Prof K. asked if I journaled my thoughts.  I said no and a pang of guilt shot through me, I should be though, I thought.

The next week I was waiting in P's Home Health office for my nurse to finish her business.  I was lost in thought about something, probably how lush this clinical assignment was when I heard someone say, "Well, you're just getting your rollerskates on, aren't ya?"  I looked up and saw a nurse who I had been a little bit terrified of previously.  I said something along the lines of "excuse me?" and she said that I was just about to start my career in nursing.  She told me her one regret was that she didn't write down her experiences.  She told me that I should, so I can remember them.

Because actually, my memory isn't infallible and I forget some really amazing things.  After this I figured God had told me to do the same thing three times, so I should probably get my butt in gear. I told Julie that night (because whenever I say something out loud, I feel like I've committed to it...  So I have to do it).  She told me she thought I had a gift for story-telling and that it was a great idea.

Alright, God... I got the message.  You can put down the megaphone now. ...Maybe.  Who knows with the track-record I have.

Here are a few of my thoughts right now...  I'm making it public so I have to do it. ;)
1) I need to focus on praying for things more consistently...  Unfortunately, my prayer life tends to be very much like my altars.
2) God is present and faithful and He tells me not to fear about next year.
3) I'm extremely forgetful and God is extremely gracious and patient. 
4) God called me to nursing and He will be faithful to continue this work until its completion. 

Psalm 131
A song of ascents. Of David.
 1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
   my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
   or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
   I am like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child I am content.
 3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
   both now and forevermore.