Catching Hope

Looking for the grace of God that surrounds us

Another Day in the Life….

…of a home nursing visit with a little girl I’ll call Ella.

Ella is two.  She is totally non-verbal, because of some special connections in her brain that just don’t work quite right.

But Ella can say more than most two year olds can–without using a single word.

Ella is one of those little girls with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.  She loves nothing better than hearing stories about herself.  She laughs uproariously when she is happy, and claps her hands over her ears and furrows her little brow deep when she is mad.  She runs around the house with abandon, not looking where she is going.  I’ll never know how she has ever avoided a serious head injury.  Some days when I come, she is smiling and lifts up her hands, wanting me to pick her up and cuddle her.  Other days, she scoots behind her toys and looks at me with a totally fake shyness.  Our favorite thing is for her to sit on my lap and play with my hands–move the fingers, clap them together, and repeat.

Recently, I went to see Ella:

9:35 am:  Kristi picks up Ella from off the floor and holds her, so that she can listen to Ella’s heart and lungs.  Ella scoots off Kristi’s lap and giggles.

9:36 am: Kristi talks with Ella’s mom while she tries to capture the squiggling Ella.

9:38 am: Kristi has had success in getting Ella back in to “listening” range.  She tells Ella that she is going to listen to her breathing.

9:39 am: Ella is not breathing loud enough for Kristi to hear through her shirt.  Kristi tells Ella to take a deep breath.  Kristi demonstrates this skill.  Ella’s mom demonstrates this skill.  Kristi and Ella’s mom nearly hyperventilate trying to get the point across.  Ella gets a twinkle in her eye….

9:41 (and 15 seconds) am:  After multiple, repeated, probably-look-ridiculous-to-anyone-watching attempts to communicate that Ella is to take a deep breath, Kristi attempts listening again.  Ella giggles.  Then–silence.

9:41 (and thirty seconds) am: At this point Ella has abandoned all thoughts of compliance…and continues to hold her breath.  As a result, Kristi cannot hear a thing can just about hear Ella laughing on the inside…and mom can see the mischievous trouble in Ella’s eyes.

9:42: Ella can no longer hold her breath…or her laughter.  Kristi is able to obtain all needed information while Ella inhales to laugh.

On another occasion, I visited Ella’s house because she wasn’t feeling well.  I picked her up off the floor….

6:15 pm: Kristi picks up Ella.  Ella’s mom tells Kristi all about how Ella has been vomiting and not eating much today.  Kristi and Ella’s mom joke yet again about how Kristi has, as of yet, avoided the product of Ella’s rather impromptu, frequent, and unexpected bouts of throwing up.

6:24 pm: Ella’s mom continues to tell Kristi about how Ella is doing. Ella is playing with Kristi’s hands, smiling and nodding with big, sweeping head movements–as she always does when she hears stories about herself.

6:25 pm:  Ella hiccoughs.  And promptly vomits all over Kristi’s jeans and sweater.

6:26 pm:  Ella, glitter in her eye, laughs.  Not just a little, under-her-breath giggle, here, friends.  We are talking laughter.

Coincidence?  I think not.  And, of course, as a nurse who would never condone such acting out of behavior, I promptly burst into fits of laughing along with Ella’s mom solomnly cleaned up Ella and myself.

Oh, the joy that children bring…and how we underestimate them.  May we always have the eyes to see them as Jesus does–and may we be touched by their ever-abundant joy!

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Tears of My Own

I often find myself catching other people’s tears.

I catch the tears of mommies and daddies, as they cry for their children.  They cry for the pain that they carry every day as they battle….whether it is a temporary, transient illness–or something that is slowly killing their babies.  I try to walk with them, to hold them, to ease them through…whether it’s through their newborn’s sleepless first night at home or through their teenage daughter’s leukemia.  And as much as I can, I catch and hold their tears for them.

I hold the tears of their babies…sometimes while I fight to force a tiny needle into their tiny leg muscles.  Sometimes I pass a tissue to catch the tears as they adjust to the pain of a chronic illness.   Sometimes I don’t see their tears, but I can feel them in the air, heavy and unspoken.

I catch their tears.  Sometimes literally in my hand.  Other times in my heart. It is a gift, a very precious and unique gift, to be able to do this.

But sometimes, just sometimes, as I bottle up everyone else’s tears and tuck them away in my heart for safekeeping, I find (as the country song goes), that I’ve got some tears of my own.

And then I find an even greater gift–when Jesus takes my tears and tucks them away in to His heart.  He is the perfect tear-keeper.

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in a bottle.  Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8)


About This Thing Called Life….

…I am glad that I am not ultimately in charge of it.

I am glad that I can rest in the sovereignty of God….while taking responsibility for the things that He gives me the ability to do, but does not do for me.*  I wish I were better at it…but I am learning.  Slowly.

– – – – – – – –

*this concept is explored fully in the study, “Helping Others Change”, by Paul David Tripp.

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They Can Cry

I was struck today as I was doing some charting–I have a couple of patients that have severe brain damage and are minimally responsive. On rare occasions, they can manage a smile–which is more than many families can say about their children.

But what struck me was how easily and readily they can cry, in comparison to when they smile.  They cry when they hurt, when they have an unmet need, when they just don’t feel good–and, I suspect, when they feel trapped by the bodies they are in.

It reminds me of the image of God in them, when their raw emotions are showing through. It gives me joy when, with great effort, they smile…and saddens my heart that their tears seem to come so much more easily than anything else.

My heart longs for the day when there will be no more tears…and the day that, by grace, these two precious children and the thousands like them will have new bodies and faces that smile, freely and easily, as they rejoice in the arms of Jesus.

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