Saturday, October 18, 2014

Instead of the blog I was going to write, 7 things I'm thankful for tonight

I was thinking of calling this blog "Seven things I should have done already", since it's after midnight and I hear my un-dry clothes spinning in the dryer, see my unwashed dishes in the sink over there beyond the pile of unfolded towels, see the un-written blog on this page, and realize I haven't started a PowerPoint that I need to have done by Thursday.

But I changed it to seven things I'm thankful for.  God does such a good job of reminding me to give thanks, and I always feel better when I do.

1.)  I'm thankful that I have clothes and towels and that, even though unfolded and undried, they are washed.  

2.) I'm glad that although the bug I found on my carpet and captured in a jar turned out to be a roach, my neighbor Mary who knows everything is confident that I'll eradicate them once I get to the pet store for a thing she calls "roach bait".  And I'm glad that my house isn't like the one I stayed at in New York City, where we would turn on the lights in the morning, and the roaches would scramble to their hideouts by the dozen. 

3.) I'm really glad for Diet Sierra Mist cranberry splash.

4.) I'm glad that my renewed passport came in the mail the other day, stiff yet silky navy, even though my publishers are still in discussion about whether it's safe for me to go to the Middle East.

5.) I'm glad my friends and I don't have Ebola.  It's truly a terrible disease without a cure. 

6.) I'm thankful that I was able to attend the BetterLife awards ceremony tonight and hear many great volunteer's stories, even though my nomination for Dr. Halloran was edged out by people working for nonprofit organizations.  That was okay though. Thanks for voting by the way!

7.)  I'm thankful this blog post is now complete! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Mom's 57th Birthday, and 7 photos I would mail in her birthday card...

October 15, next Wednesday...This is the day my mom would have turned 57.

Fifty-seven is so young in the world of healthcare. My grandparents are all alive at around 80 years old.

In some ways, the more I learn to know God and the more my heart is softened, the more I miss her. If I could send her a birthday card, here are some photos I would slide in the envelope and some of the things I would tell her.

Did you know you have two sets of twin grandsons?

Did you know you have two beautiful granddaughters and two grandsons, besides Brad who you already know?

Those twins on grandpa's lap love him better than any of the aunts, I'm afraid.

You know how I wanted to be a writer, not a nurse?  I started working and I loved it.  My jobs became a source of healing for me, as I thought about the comparison of the physical heart with the soul.  I'm now a heart surgery coordinator.  I make lists of all the vocabulary words I learn from the surgeons and cardiologists and other well-worded people around me.  I work with a intelligent and caring team, the perfect alternate job for a writer.

This is the front porch of the house I bought after I started at my new job and realized God wanted me to stay in Elkhart.  In the process, some of my best friends also moved to Elkhart and I love going to their houses.  

This is my mentor and work partner Sue and I on pink hard hat day.  We made a human pink ribbon on the top floor of the parking garage.

We found the baby clothes you left us in the closet!

I have so many people who bless my life, that I wish I was better at blessing them back and not being impatient when people knock on my door.

Happy Birthday! 

Maybe she already knows all of can we know?  And if I would have time, I would tell her how God has blessed me several specific times on her much so that I begin to wonder, what good thing will God do for me this October 15th?  But the truth is, I have so many blessings already, perhaps I wouldn't even notice.....God is so good.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

If beheaded and given a chance at last words, 7 things I would want to say...

I'm sorry if you're tired of my beheading drama...I really need to knock it off and realize the seriousness of what I'm saying, yes? 

But I have to say one more I was contemplating what it would be like to be beheaded, I wondered if I would be given a chance to say something (which I probably wouldn't) what I would say.

I've heard that every person should write their own obituary now and then to give themselves perspective, so in the spirit of that exercise, here goes. 

I would want to be able to say some sentimental things and some poetic things and some practical things...
1. I wonder what my mom will say when I come bouncing into heaven to find her!

2. I'm going to miss twilight, the time of day when the darkness and the light trade places, especially on the streets of Elkhart, or in Marshfield where I grew up. (But maybe there's a twilight in heaven.)  I think I would like for just one moment to set foot in America again....just to walk into a gas station to buy a Diet Coke after pumping a tank of gas, or to walk over the uneven cement of a sidewalk or to run at dusk to the river and clatter across the wooden bridges in the see the Badlands of South Dakota again, or eat a buttery biscuit in Alabama, or sit quietly in a library among the odors of paper and the click of computer keys.  What a great life I have had, to have so many tiny little wonderful memories.

3. I wish I could see my weekly videos and photos of my niece Mya, watch her and all her cousins grow up, and play word games with their parents and aunt and grandfather and argue about geeky things no sane family should argue about at Christmas. But, maybe there's a peek hole in heaven.

4. I wish I could go to work again and get brutally teased by the surgeons and quizzed by the case managers and cornered by the pharmacists and questioned by the other nurses and paged by the cath lab and and ridiculed by the physician's assistants for eating a sausage pizza from the bistro. 

5. I wish I could walk home from work and stop at my hang-out house on Laurel street and eat a couple of gummy O's and lounge on my favorite couch and shoot the breeze before crossing the Sherman Street Bridge to my own house. 

6.  Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory?   The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed...

7. God is with me...and this realization, the most powerful force in the world, is stronger than all hate, than any nation, than any defeat.  

I hope I could think clearly enough to say a few things like that.  

What seven things would you say?  

(No guillotine talk next week!  Promise!)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why I hope to go to the Middle East, and 7 people's responses

God is so creative, so personal!  How on earth does He know our minds? How did he know my wish to go to the Middle East to write when I hadn't told him? After months of not hearing from my publishing house, I received an email last week asking me if I still wanted to write for them.  I said maybe, and asked if they had any ideas. 
He gave me a list of possible topics .  Second to the last: 
Syrian refugees §  Would have to travel to the middle east

I got the email while at work.  I nearly spontaneously combusted in the little critical care snack area.  My excitement was so evident that a bystander asked what was going on. 

I shared the email. 

1.  Chris looked at me as if I had gone suddenly insane and he should stuff a Xanax down my throat.  

Most people responded in a similar fashion with variations reflecting their personalities. 

2.   Christine threatened to email my family herself and told me I should not go. 

3.  Dr. Halloran said, "You are not going to Syria right now." He added that there are plenty of safer places than Syria to find Syrian excellent point. 

When I got off work, I emailed my family and talked to my dad. 

4.  Scott, my older brother, replied to the email:  

Thanks for the update.  Definitely glad for the heads up before we see it in the news!

5.  Dad said that he had just told someone that any journalist who goes to Syria now basically deserves to be beheaded for being so unwise (those weren't his exact words)... never anticipating that his daughter was next in line.   

When I told my dad that I'm sure they would send me to a safe place, he said, "I'm sure that's what all the other journalists thought."  I hadn't thought of that before. 

I told him that's the kind of death I want to die...not now necessarily, and not foolishly, but dying for a worthy cause.

He pointed out (why are dads so wise?) that dying was probably the best part of their kidnapping experience.  

6.  The lady at the passport office who let me smile for my picture said, "There's probably a travel warning right now," with an ominous chuckle.

7.  My aunt and uncle suggested that I take a picture before I go.  
"You'd rather have a picture of me with my head on?"  
Yes, they said. 

And God?  His latest response to me has to do with my stressing over my upstairs lodger, and the little girls knocking on my door, and the speech I feel too tired to prepare, and the coffee I spilled all over my kitchen table.  He gently reminded me that all of life is a struggle, and can be handled poorly or well, without Him or with Him.  Going to Syria to chronicle stories of suffering is no more of a ministry than living well on Brady Street.  

So while I wait to see if I in fact will go to the Middle East, He teasingly suggested that I live well in the meantime.

God is so good!  
He is with us wherever we are, and wherever we go. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

7 Perks of Being at Work for 21 Hours Straight

1.  It makes a 12 hour day feel almost like a day off.
2.  You learn that some disorder is self-limiting. Clean laundry piles (that haven't been put away) actually begin to disappear, since you are forced to take clothes off the pile.
3.  You're not burdened with the forecast.  You just completely missed that day's weather.  Who cares if it rained or didn't rain?
4.  You get a long nap, instead of a short night.
5.  You don't miss much of what went on while you weren't at work, because it was only a few hours.
6.  Meals lose their identity.  Breakfast could be leftover pizza or hard-boiled eggs or a sugar cookie.  (Are you sensing that my diet did not get reformed this week?)
7.  As Dr. Dickson announced late last night after a challenging seven hour surgery, "Who wants to be in bed at this time of the night anyway?"  

*Don't forget to vote for my story about Dr. Halloran a few more times before the contest is over!  Voting ends this Wednesday, September 24.*

Dr. Dickson, speaking to our kids about the heart at boys and girls club last year.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

7 Reasons You Should Vote for My Boss...

1. There's a community competition going on right now for a "better life" award.  
2. Dr. Halloran, one of the heart surgeons for whom I attempt to work, was nominated for his outstanding bedside manner with his patients and their family members.  (This compassionate nature was re-emphasized last Monday when he finished surgery at 1am and still took time to sit and talk with the patient's family after a 19-hour day.)
3. You can read the story I wrote at the link below, or if that's too much trouble, you can just vote with your morning coffee. (He approved my accurate story reluctantly, saying it was too kind.)
4. If he wins the award, he chooses a non-profit organization to receive the prize money.  (If he doesn't, his most inexperienced staff will be drug off to surgery without anesthesia for the medical students to practice on...VOTE, I said!)
5. It's easy! Just click on the link below. You don't even have to give your name. Voting continues until September 24th. Competition was fierce the last time they let us see total votes! 
6. When I was threatening to submit my story, I told him he might be too famous to win. They probably want to award an ordinary person who hasn't already been on a billboard. But it never hurts to try...
7. Thank you!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

After several weeks of McDonald's and junk food, 7 Reasons to Begin Again!

  1. The scale.  (How can an inanimate object be so annoying, yet so inspiring?!)
  2. The lean cardiologists I bump into around the hospital, who spend their days counseling people who eat like I've been eating lately and are DYING BECAUSE OF IT.   Dr. Westerhausen's voice in particularly drifts up to me out of my McDonald's bag like an uncanny echo caught in the paper and foil.  If I'm ordering a Jalapeno Burger, I can't seem to escape the nagging fear of looking up and seeing one of them.  The only thing that makes this fear unrealistic? They probably don't know what McDonald's is, or where you would find one. 
  3. The ladies at my church, who try to stay accountable and disciplined, or share their own struggles to eat nutritious food.
  4. My co-worker Christine, who goes home and exercises even after long days in the operating room.
  5. C.S. Lewis, who said,

    “You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again...Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.” 

  6. Jesus Christ, that great champion of calm self-denial.                "...You who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus who was faithful to him who appointed him..." Hebrews 3:1-2