The Courage to change the things I can…

1001031_10200231711850733_1457908686_nPriceless, made for me by my son.

I never realized how much courage it takes to change things. Courage to leave all that is familiar, even the chaos of alcoholism. Courage to grasp for your own recovery and refuse to let go. Courage to feel the fear of all of this and keep going anyway.

Where do we get courage? Is there an ATM where we can withdraw this firmness of mind, fortitude and endurance, this courage?

Yes, it is the Holy Bible containing the promise’s of God. God’s word contains over 366 commanding us to “fear not” in various forms. That means you get a verse a day, including leap year! What a great God have to provide this for us to quench the fiery dart shot at us from the enemy of our souls.

There are also very familiar verses instructing us to “be courageous” and these I love dearly for they also contain His promise and His presence. Brother’s and Sister’s, whatever you have to do to be free, whatever changes and challenges you face on your personal road to serenity, He is with you. What else do you need?

Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you where ever you go.       Joshua 1:9 NIV

Total absence of Light

1936841_1115597565396_6704630_nThis adorable picture of my daughter was taken in 2008 at a trip to the Inner Space Cavern in Texas. We are not spelunkers or caving fans, but this was an interesting stop on our way to Spring Break in San Antonio and fit in perfectly with my son’s science unit for school. The two things that stay with me about this adventure are the “chicken nugget bats” that slept all over the walls of the cave and actually did look like little fuzzy chicken nuggets and the darkness. The utter darkness. Notice my daughter and the rock formation behind her are illuminated by my flash, but look around her. It’s pitch black.

Our tour started in broad daylight, the bright, blazing hot sun of Central Texas, and we got in a mine car train and rode down into the cave with a guide. Inside the cave there is lighting along the path but a point in the tour the guide has everyone stand together and turns off the lights so you can experience absolute darkness. It was horrifying. It seemed to wrap around me like a physical presence causing my stomach to flip and my heart to race. There was nothing to see, no shapes, no shadows, simply a  total void. I remember trying to take a deep breath to calm down. I didn’t want my kids to realize I was so frightened, but I felt I could not even breathe this black thick air.

After about 60 seconds of gasping and squealing from the tour group the  guide turns the lights back on. Sweet relief, breathe, let there be LIGHT! And handprints on now angry children whose mother had instinctively  clamped down on their arms in her own fear…

I had forgotten about this experience until the other day at a friend’s home. I noticed a copy of “Josephus’s Discourse to the Greeks” on his bookshelf. This book is one of hundreds on my reading bucket list and I pulled it down and started flipping through it. In his writing concerning Hades, known to us as hell, Josephus states: “Hades is a subterraneous region, wherein the light of the world does not shine, in this region the light does not shine, it cannot but there must be in it a perpetual darkness.”  He continues with further descriptions of this dark place, judgment to come and an interesting comparison of sin and sickness and how to recover from both.

The bible states that in the beginning God said, “Let there be Light.” and there was light, God saw that it was good and divided the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3&4) The differences between light and darkness continue throughout the Old Testament to the New; Job was brought out of his pit and enlightened with the “light of the living”. ( Job 33:3o) The Psalmist states in 119:105 that “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Jesus himself declares in the Gospel of John that ” I AM the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

You may have never been “spelunking” but if you are experiencing darkness in your life, you too, can have the light of the world  with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5. If you have any questions about how to invite the Light of the World into your life in a personal way, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me for further discussion.

The Lord is my Light and my salvation.   Psalms 27:1

 

The Woman with an Issue of Blood

I love to ask people who they want to meet in Heaven. Most people either go blank or get defensive and say, “Well, JESUS, of course!” I can’t wait to meet my Savior either but I am one of the fortunate few who has met a biblical hero here in this world.

I met the Woman from the Gospels who had an “issue of blood”. The Bible records her as having had an issue of blood for 12 years, having had this issue for 12 years she has spent all her money on doctors and was still sick. But one day she heard Jesus was coming through her town and she knew if she could just get to him, and only touch the hem of his garment she would be healed. Her faith in this fact was invincible.

I met her in 1990 as a fledgling nurse straight of college. Her name at this meeting was Ms. A and she was admitted to my med-surg ward for a total abdominal hysterectomy to address her bleeding fibroid tumors. I got her settled in, put her chart together, got all pre-op labs ordered and instructed her on pre-op procedure. However, when her labs came back her blood counts showed that her hematocrit and hemoglobin were extremely low. She was severely anemic from loss of blood. The anesthesiologist ordered a type and cross for a blood transfusion to get her counts back up so she could safely go to surgery. This should all been fairly routine but the real issue loomed before us.

Ms. A was of a religion that does not accept blood transfusions. I am not writing this to argue this point. That is beyond my scope. Ms. A refused to violate her belief and accept the blood transfusion. All of us on the floor that evening tried talking to her, this is a routine procedure, safe, the surgery would go fine and all this would be over with…Ms. A just smiled a sweet little smile and continued to refuse the blood. And she grew weaker by the hour. We reasoned, we pleaded and argued and she continued to refuse. The surgeon, anesthesiologist spoke with her, they too, reasoned and argued with her. She kept smiling and refusing. The family was brought in and after consulting with the doctors they said it was Ms. A’s decision to make. As she grew weaker the family broke down, abandoned the tenets of their faith and joined the doctors in pleading and arguing with her. Ms. A smiled and stood firm. Her answer was “NO”.

She informed us with that same sweet smile that she, “would not do it.” her exact words to me were, “I will not abandon my faith!” She kept smiling and she grew weaker. The hospital ethics board was brought in to meet with the doctors, the family and Ms. A. The ethics board decided that Ms. A was competent and had firm religious grounds to back her decision. The doctors told the family that if Ms. A continued to bleed she would die and they should plan accordingly. The family brought in the grandkids. They figured if Ms. A saw what she had to live for and to loose she would change her mind. Ms. A smiled, weakly hugged her family members and held fast to her faith.

About a week of this had gone on at this point and I came in for my 3-11 shift. Ms. A was in her room alone. I helped her wash her hands and her face and fed her dinner as she was now to weak to manage her own knife and fork. My heart was breaking over this dear sweet lady who was literally dying over what I thought of a “stupid simple blood transfusion” My faith was pretty invincible too and I knew what I had to do, so I dropped to my knees beside her bed and I started to pray for her. Loudly, fervently, totally believing that my vain words would cause her to change her mind. I remember even asking the Lord to bring Ms. A to her senses! I got done and with a huge “AMEN!” I popped my eyes open and looked with great expectation at Ms. A.  She simply smiled that sweet little smile and said, “Honey, I thank you for praying for me.” That was it, no frantic call to the blood bank, doctors or family members.

Two more days went by and as I came in on shift I saw the posture of everyone around the nursing station. Glances were thrown my way then everyone disappeared into the conference room. I knew instantly that something was very wrong and sure enough, Ms. A had passed away about an hour before I came in. I was personally devastated. What had happened here? Our science had failed, our powers of reasoning had failed, we had behaved ethically according to the board but a lady was dead. My faith had failed, or had it?

I thought a lot about Ms. A over the next few weeks. I have thought of her often over the past 26 years of my nursing career. Her faith was incredible to me. In the face of certain death she stood unwavering, firm, a true soldier in God’s army. The battle she won hands down, was the battle of setting an example of what faith really is.

Before we judge her for refusing a “routine” medical procedure that would have saved her physical life we need to think, what would WE have done? What have we done with our faith? Have we every personally felt a sword held to our neck as it was demanded of us to deny our Lord? Have we ever laid in a hospital bed facing certain death, watching your beloved children abandon the faith you gave your life to raise them in cave under the pressure. Feeling your body grow weaker by the minute but your mind remains intact. And having the strength in that mind to overcome the body and it’s fears. I have never had my faith tested in such a way.

But when my faith has been tested, I see a sweet little smile in my mind. I remember a sweet older lady who stood firm with such grace under fire that her faith inspired my entire career and my own personal faith. I will see her again, and I can’t wait to thank her for passing on her faith to me and tell her how that faith has led me to continue to drop to my knees and get back up and stand strong.  I can’t wait to tell her that she showed me that healing is often not on the path we expect or desire it to be.

Thank you Ms. A, I will NOT abandon my faith either!

And He said to her, “daughter thy faith has made thee whole, go in peace.”   Mark 5:34

This post is dedicated to my beloved mentor, and a fierce prayer warrior,   Mrs. Patricia Hilbun R.N. I love you Ms. Pat, your prayers for me are answered!