Catching Hope

Looking for the grace of God that surrounds us

How To Not Say Anything

I haven’t forgotten about this blog, I really haven’t.

I just have a policy that if I don’t have anything worthwhile to say, I won’t write about it.

But my question of late is, shouldn’t we have something worthwhile to say most of the time?  I mean, if the Lord is working in our lives and is active in caring for us, teaching us, and loving us, we ought to always have something to share and rejoice in.

Worth pondering, anyway.

For now, though, I am going to go to bed thanking the Lord for the gift of sleep, and being forever grateful that His mercies that are both new, and abundant, every morning…and by His grace, I will wake up tomorrow with my eyes wide open to see His loving hand working in all the details of my life.

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The End

I was reading in my Pathophysiology textbook recently and came across a picture…a picture I had to cover up because I could no longer look at it.

At first, it was in some morbid way, fascinating…the gaping wound, the structures beneath the skin that should never have been visible, the hesitation marks on the skin where he couldn’t quite get the courage to do it.

And then I looked harder, for a moment.

He had dark hair–I could tell even though the picture was only of a portion of his neck, because of the remaining stubble there.  I wonder why he didn’t shave before he did it.  If he even thought about it.  Maybe life was so out of control that even something as simple as shaving felt like too much.

From the little that could be seen, he looked young…time had not yet etched itself in to his skin.  I wondered what his face looked like…if there would have been clues on his face or in the depth of his eyes that would have told someone of his pain.

Instead, the horrible truth of what he thought of his life and how it should end stared at me through the page in wet shades of red.

I wonder why he did it.

I wonder if he had people that loved him.  Or if he just didn’t know that they loved him.

I wonder if he asked God why his life was the way it was.  Why it was so hard…why it felt so hopeless…

I covered the picture with a bright pink post-it note.  It didn’t really help the deep, painful, heavy sadness in my heart, because I know what is under it’s florescent opaqueness.  Just as the brightness of the post-it note is now highlighted on the page, his story–and what I don’t know if it–is highlighted in my head.  What is truly etched into the page, under the post-it note, is etched into my heart.  I can try to cover it up, along with the rest of the suffering of the world…

Or I can face the suffering.  Look it in the face, hate the sin that caused it, and pray for grace for this fallen world.

Pray for love in my heart for those around me–love that I say out loud so that those I know are certain that someone cares for them.

Pray for the people who have no hope, that Jesus would shine rays of joy into their hearts.

And pray for Jesus to come soon.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

-Revelation 21:6

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Single

“Single” is a descriptive word.  It is an adjective–as in, a “single hamburger”.  A “single pencil-eraser”.  A “single person”.  It means, one.  Alone, by itself.

Let’s be honest, here, friends, this isn’t always easy.  I have recently realized how cranky I get when doing things I feel I shouldn’t be doing, but am because I am not married (i.e. mowing the lawn, placing paving stones in the yard, etc.).  I am the first to tell you it’s lonely looking over at the other side of the bed and seeing a pillow (or, incidentally, a book…or a forgotten pencil from my study session…or a cell phone…well, you get the idea.)

However, I think perhaps the word “single”, or at least the idea of the word in this context, should be a verb, not an adjective.  It should be something that implies action, being, moving, changing.  Changing my thoughts and my heart to realize that the world does not exist for me (and, incidentally, neither would a husband!)  Moving to avoid stagnancy in spirituality–instead always being in motion toward sanctification.  Being the kind of daughter, friend, sister, aunt, grand-daughter, employee that the Lord calls me to be.  Acting to decisively make positive steps toward spiritual growth, as well as toward career development, church involvement, etc.

Not looking at others wondering “why them? why not me?”.

Not letting sadness and lonliness take over my heart so that I am constantly dwelling on them.

Not allowing the ease and flexibility of this period of my life to foster selfishness.

Realizing that this state of life may be permanent, and not being paralyzed by that thought or feeling fearful of the future.

And most of all, learning to trust the great Planner who knows what is best for me and has plans for my life beyond my wildest imagination.

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The stuff of life

It has been interesting for me to note lately how much of life truly is mundane.

I was recently watching “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan…she lives in the perfect apartment, her hair is always nicely done (even when she’s got a “horrible cold”), the color palate of her clothes go beautifully with her skin tones at all times, and even her “mundane” is made interesting to us, her viewers.

In contrast, my house is too often cluttered.  My hair is rarely perfectly done (despite my best efforts!).  My clothing, while I do make a good effort to look nice when leaving the house, certainly would not come close to measuring up in an episode of “What Not to Wear”.

And my mundane, whatever way you look at it, certainly is not interesting.  I brush my teeth, do my laundry, answer e-mail, go to work, put gas in my car, make my bed (ok, let’s be honest here, sometimes make my bed) :), take out the trash, weed the garden, pick up groceries, go through mail, pay bills, talk on the phone…pretty much like anyone else does, I suppose.  I can tell you right now that no one would ever want to put it all in a movie.

And yet, I have also been learning lately, that although the mundane makes up the majority of life, the fact that so much IS mundane is what makes the interesting things so interesting.  It gives joy and excitement to what should be joyful and exciting.  Otherwise, we’d have nothing to compare it to.

And of course, I can’t help but think….

He that is faithful in little, is faithful also in much.

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You know you’re a nurse when….(part one)

…you find both an N-95 respirator mask and a thermometer in your purse.  When you never take your purse with you while working.

???

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Chemo and Dragons and Heaven and Such

I was at a little 9 year old’s house yesterday, giving her her very first at-home chemotherapy treatment for her cancer.

She had a soft little stuffed dragon next to her–I asked his name and then commented on his shiny, crinkly wings.  “I wish I had wings and could fly everywhere,” I told her.

“I’ve always wondered som’thin…”, said my little patient.

“What’s that?”

“If we fly in to the sky, up and up, will we bump in to Heaven?”

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The Face on the Side of the Road

The man who always stands at the corner of the freeway exit and 11th Avenue, holding his pleading sign up to passers-by, has a face.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what he looks like, because my glances at him are furtive–studying him for brief moments in time while he looks the other way.  I don’t want to meet his gaze.

I have, once or twice.

And I never know what to do.

Because I know that behind the face is a man.  And that the man has a story that is as real as my own is.

My heart hurts, because I know this–and yet I don’t do anything.  I have the constant struggle–do I look the other way?  Do I smile?  Do I hand out a dollar or two, if I happen to have the cash?

I like to tell myself that I want to know his story.  I think, in many ways, I do.  But part of me assumes that it will be like so many other’s stories, who do what he does to earn a living.  Maybe it wouldn’t be true.  It can’t be trusted, right?  Because if he told me his story, it would be to get something out of me, wouldn’t it?

Or would it?

It is probably not wise, as a single woman alone, to stop my car and start talking to the man on the side of the road.  But sometimes I wish I could.  There is as much hope for this man as there was to me, when I was a lost sinner.  In that way, we are no different.  We are both human, made in the image of God.  We both desperately need Jesus.

My car again pulls up to the same intersection.  I stop at the corner; he is there and he is looking the other way.  I steal a glance in his direction, just in time to catch his eye.  This time, I turn my gaze and appear to pretend I never saw him.  And then I am ashamed, as my conscience pricks and my heart begins to feel a sting.

Lord, give me eyes to see as You see.  Give me your heart.  Give me grace to react as You would.  To love as You do.  And don’t ever let me forget that behind each face on the side of the road is a person, with a story, that You made and that You love.

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Haiti Trip Video

Here’s a link to a video that Josh Hagen put together from our Haiti trip, if you’re interested in seeing it….

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti….

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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)

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