Trucks are prohibited...but you are always welcome

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Sometimes, God and I are on the outs. We pass and acknowledge each other with a furtive nod. I feel the absence, so I know the presence was real… I didn't make it up. And I feel drained, my battery flashing red, red, red.

I know I need to plug in, I need to connect or else I will die.

I know what I want, what I need, what I have to do.

But it's like plugging into an outlet in pitch-black. I know it's there because I've accessed it before, while I fumble and hit the wall over and over. I know it's there but I just. Can't. Find it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A day in the life of a nurse

Well, my daily blogging aspirations for my 30 day reading was a fail, but I still greatly enjoyed the book and got a lot out of it. What brings me back to my laptop this beautiful spring afternoon is the answer to questions I get asked frequently. It comes in different forms, but always pertains to just what fills the twelve hours in my shift at the hospital. "What do you DO for twelve hours?" "Doesn't it drag on forever?" "How do you fill the time?"
Last week I took on the task of painstakingly chronicling my entire shift, minute-by-minute, to the best of my ability. This is a diagram of a fairly easy, average day. This is a GOOD day, simply because at most times I was only doing one task at a time whereas most days I'm usually working on two or three at a time. Sadly, easy days like this are in the minority. So for all of you who wonder what a day in the life of a nurse is like, enjoy. My fellow nurses, I'm eager to hear how this day compares to your own. This shift was in the PCU, our more critical section with a 3:1 patient/nurse ratio. Normally I'm on the floor, with 4 or 5 patients.

0635-0710 reviewing care plans, pre-shift huddle
0710-0735 report from night shift, meeting patients
0735-0745 reviewing clinical notes from previous day, coffee guzzling, inner pep talk
0745-0755 pull meds from pyxis
0759-0804 shake freaking vial of Zosyn trying to desperately get the medicine to dissolve in saline for IV administration. Ultimate test of patient and tenacity
0805-0831 Head-toe assessment, vitals, meds, chart on 1st pt (pt=patient)
0832-0853 assess, vitals, meds 2nd pt
0854-0911 chart, bathroom break, talk with family of pt in hallway about plan of care
0912-0934 assess, meds, vitals, 3rd pt
***0927remember I'm 1.5 hours late for a blood sugar on 3rd pt because I was in with pt #2. crap.
***0928 crush/dissolve meds for G tube administration
0935 receive call from pt 1 and 2 for pain medicine
0936 take bs (blood sugar) on pt 3, it's high and requiring insulin
0940 return to pyxis for insulin for 3, pain meds for 1 and 2. Pyxis is out of insulin, send order to pyxis on third floor.
0943 pain meds to #2, hang zosyn antibiotic
0946 go upstairs for insulin
0950-0955 give insulin to #3
0956-0959 pain/anxiety meds to #1
1000-1035 chart rounds, drink protein shake because at ten, like clockwork, I'm STARVING
1040-1045 change soiled bed on #2, receive call to replace O2 sensor on #1
1045-1100 nurse-led physician rounds, change O2 sensor when we go in for rounds
1100-1130 charting, bathroom, play turn on words with friends
1130-1230 lunch break
1230-1300 round on group, review new orders written during break
1300-1330 enact new orders, nothing complicated luckily
1300-1400 blood sugar, 2nd assessment, vitals, total clean-up/bed change for #3. BS is high requiring insulin
1400-1415 retrieve and administer insulin for #3
1430-1450 meds, prepare discharge papers, remove IV for pt #1
1450-1500 talk to family about plan of care, results, tests etc
1505-1510 chart, interrupted by call for #3 to bedpan
1511-1525 #3 to bedpan, clean up
1525-1537 chart, calls to pharmacy to arrange discharge meds for family pickup
1537-1557 Review discharge instructions, mobility limitations, med purpose/dose/time/precautions, wound care, follow-up appointments with pt #1 and family. Discharge complete.
1600-1615 bathroom, snack
1615-1630 chart, review/enact new orders, talk to family members
1630-1654 welcome #2 back from procedure, 2nd assessment, meds, hang antibiotic, give #2 ice from kitchen
1700-1713 Call doctor to restart the diet order for the #2 since procedure is completed, print new menu, call dialysis for pickup for #3
1715-1754 meds, 3rd assessment, blood sugar, complete bed change, redress wound for #3
1754 call from charge nurse about new transfer into my empty room
1756-1835 use time waiting for new pt to update pt info sheets for shift change, analyze and print cardiac rhythm strips for the paper charts
1836-1855 bedside report with nurse for safe hand-off for new pt. Assess, set up glucostabilizer program in computer for blood sugar monitoring, set up pump/new tubing for continuous tube feeds through gastric tube. Receive call from #2 for bathroom
1857-1900 escort #2 to bathroom
1903 review cardiac rhythm of new patient, analyze and print strips for paper chart
1906-1930 report to night shift
And another shift done, everyone safe and alive. BOOM.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Faith Dare day 1 (also day three without sugar. I'm dying.)

My women's group, a bunch of the finest women you could ever meet, gathers once a week and goes through a book together. The book we've most recently chosen is The Faith Dare by Debbie Alsdorf. The book is about exploring and growing in faith through disciplined reading, memorization, prayer, accountability and healthy introspection. It encourages the reader also to keep up a journal or blog chronicling the journey. That's the thing about inner changes; it's good to keep a record of the before because it is SO difficult to remember how you used to be/think/respond/act once you have changed. Also it's a good excuse to be more consistent with my blogging. Win-win, yeah? Yes.

The first chapter explains what faith is, per se, and how it can look when it goes awry. The scripture for the first chapter is Psalm 86, which goes as follows:

"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me,
you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave.

You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to Me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant."

I sat, and as always, I find it hard to focus as I tried to carefully chew each delicate morsel of this passage. I turned on some Explosions in the Sky and as the music swelled in my ears, I danced each word of the Psalm over and over. The power and truth began to sink in as the hairs on my arm raised and my eyes swelled with grateful tears. How could I have let myself forget? How far have I come when I barely believe the truths I claim to base my life around? My faith is so small, my heart is so divided. My sad, small, half-heart pleads half-hearted half-wishes to be made clean. Am I so surprised I am only experiencing a small portion of the joy and blessing promised me?
In this starting out phase, my prayer is for God to do His best with me. I pray for Him to draw me close as he repairs the damage done at my own hand and that soon my whole heart will run, not walk, towards His love.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


I had a dream I wrote a great song. A truly great song, the kind that went viral and had people sharing and covering it as people lauded and applauded. I remember hearing a friend sing my own song to me, eager to hear my opinions of his cover and I listened to him all the while deep in thought. "I don't even remember writing this… I may have even done it accidentally. It's really good… the lyrics are so insightful and inspiring. They're evocative but relatable. This is way too good for me to have written."

When I awoke, I still remembered part of the lyrics of the song. They were stupid and meaningless, something about people who brush their teeth too much trying to manipulate relationships, but I still remember that feeling I had at having written something good. Too good. I remember thinking that perhaps that's what real artistry is, when crossed with genius. Perhaps it's creating something that intimidates you, makes you feel inferior to it. Something that perhaps always was, but just needed your body to bring it to being. Once it is completed, it goes on and up beyond anything its creator could have dreamt or ever know.

Is there anything scarier than potential? Every one-hit-wonder and wunderkind has felt this, I'm sure. The prodigies are to be most pitied among men. They are always in competition with both their past accomplishments and their unknowable potential. Pulled in each direction to live up to their reputation and also exceed it. Who can bear such an existence? I always resented being blissfully average, wanting to dance among the stars and do something that would be always remembered but now I see the glory in the commonplace.

It's like my sister says, we were nearly all good at something "for our age" and there's that moment when our ages catch up to what is most likely mediocre talent and we find ourselves among the mere mortals once again.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What am I worth?

What am I worth? What is the value of a human life? Does the individual life have value simply because it IS? How much value is placed on a beating heart, the snapping of synapses? I am going to make some statements and please decided before reading further if you: 1.disagree completely 2.moderately disagree 3.have no leaning 4.moderately agree 5.agree entirely
A.Human life has intrinsic (internal) value and is sacred
B.There is nothing in life more important than the lives of people
C.All human lives have equal value
D.God loves all people equally

These are all suppositions I feel have been increasingly perpetuated in modern society. But I've been struggling within myself about if they are beneficial, or even accurate.

Let's first look at the idea that human life has intrinsic value. There are several situations in which this seems to be factual. For example, a person who murders a pregnant woman is charged for both the murder of her, and of her unborn child. This bestows value to something that has no effect, positive or negative, on society. Its only impact is purely potential (Aside from economy-boosting money spent on prenatal health care). But there are other situations where the value of a life is superseded by situations surrounding it. Abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide (for the purpose of population control), all negate the value of life by pitting it against the scale of quality. The negative implications of the life can outweigh its potential benefits, and in each of those situations that decision is made externally. That means the value is not internally born, it is flexible. It is externally decided. Children and women were prioritized in emergencies, because their external potential was greater. Women could bear more children. Children had more life ahead of them. The lives of the men were devalued, there was nothing inside them that changed... only the circumstances. If a beloved philanthropist with a large adoring family passes away, it is a great loss. If a lonely hermit with no social contact and no family passes away, is it a loss as well? When things of value are destroyed it is a loss. Did the life of the hermit have value? It may be entirely possible that our value is purely externally derived by our circumstances and even more by the people around us. Those who love us, need us, and surround us may very well bestow on us our value. What is a diamond worth with no one to admire it?

Let's now look at the idea that nothing is more important than human life. In the movie 300, the small but proud Spartan army knowingly charged to their graves. They had no illusion that the battle would end in their favor. In the latest Hunger Games movie, a scene occurred where a small band of rebels charged a dam providing power to the Capitol. The rebels in the front of the onslaught knew that the guards would open fire surely killing some, but the sheer numbers would eventually overpower and allow the last of the group to place explosives in the dam, destroying it. These scenes played for an audience of modern patrons who all nodded, with hearts aflame, admiring the bravery of the protagonists in the scene. No one sat with pursed lips, scowling, "What a waste... surely there must have been another way to spare the people!" It was generally agreed upon with out approval that there are things more important than individuals. Pride. Honor. Freedom. The good of the majority. It's been chanted throughout history, so why refute what has been a building block of our "modern" society?

On another note, I'm not implying that societal trends and behavior indicates absolute truth. If that were so then we would have to suppose that the racism in the seventies defined African Americans as having inferior value. I only use social examples because with inscrutable topics such as personal worth, the observational sciences are some of the only data that can be presented without dipping permanently into philosophical reasoning.

Now I want to focus on the push towards egalitarianism. Are all people truly created equal? Picture a post-apocalyptic society. Any illusion of total equality is discarded for a "survival of the fittest" mentality. Those with skills are prioritized, the strongest conquer the weaker for rights to scarce supplies and property. If the weakest were protected, the group as a whole would be weakened as there is simply not enough resources to go around. So why, if it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, would egalitarianism be discarded when survival is most important? It seems that equality is a luxury, adopted only in times of plenty and not in fact based in core truth. So as we become more evolved, why push for a concept that is apparently not evolutionarily advantageous?

Now I turn towards things of spirituality. As a follower of Jesus, I turn towards scripture as the source of truth. And I ask myself, was God an egalitarian? He definitely made sure the door to Him was open to all through Jesus. Jesus spent time with the religious leaders, the poor, the rich, and the outcasts of society. He definitely seemed to share a special affection for the downtrodden of society and stated that the rich and "religious" would have an extremely hard time coming to Him but that was not his doing, simply the way it was. The broken realized the need for him more easily, the well-off did not. But in the Old Testament God prioritizes the Israelites, the Chosen people, time after time. He gives victories to His armies, and wipes out entire populations. Populations of people>. The Egyptian army was buried by water as the Jews escaped on dry land. These soldiers were just men following orders, they all had families and lives. They were no more sinful in nature than the Chosen people. Maybe He loved them and valued them, but He also destroyed them. It's a hard truth of scripture. God is a just God, and the price of sin is death. Not all will be saved. Not all are meant to be saved. Some are favored. Before the birth of Christ, obedience is highly valued. After the birth of Christ, faith is highly valued. After the death of Christ, the tables seem to be turned. It makes sense that the value of something is determined by the price paid for it. The price for us suddenly became the blood of the Christ. Invaluable. For those under the grace of the cross, a value is received that is completely separate from all external factors. It is the great equalizer. All the other situations that shake other definitions fall away in the weight of the worth given to the Children of God. Scripture says that He adopts them into His royal family. From the point on that worth is bestowed there is no need for any additions. Wealth, beauty, talent, love, status, or even life have any impact on our worth in God's eyes. Our value is set, and it is SO high. And since I choose God as the bestower of my value, I feel freed to simply BE. In Him, I can simply BE.

I've been processing worth and value for weeks, trying my very best to take God out of the equation and look at it objectively but I find time and time again I simply cannot. It's the only one that makes sense to me, the only one that doesn't leave me an insecure, self-doubting, self-depricating mess. So even if it's wrong and even if no one agrees with me, I like the sense of security and safety in the full knowledge of the value I have. Not because I'm good, special, smart, or anything else I did or could do... but simply because He came to me and He told me so. And thanks to Him, I believe it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Head is Spaghetti

I haven't posted in some time... I usually only write when I've got a thought I've worked through and come to some resolution, and I was in no way prepared for the vichyssoise of feelings, emotions, urges, and ideas that my recently ended journey would submerge me in. I am still very much in a processing place but I really need to let some air from my brain-tires, as I fear they will burst from all the spinning, spinning, spinning.
My trip leader said it best, and it's the hardest part to describe to people who inquire; "You are not here to make a difference, you are here to learn and then take your new knowledge back home where you understand the culture and can truly make a difference" (paraphrased). I may have helped a few people but what I, we, did for them is infinitesimal compared to what they did for me. And that goes for the people in my group as well. I found both my group and the Guatemalans so inspiring. My Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand cohorts showed me how little I truly know or care about my surroundings, both locally and globally. This will change. It must.

I was primarily inspired by how well they were able to love the world, and see it as whole instead of an us/them mentality. They intentionally and actively try to embrace and positively influence all kinds of people while I feel I seem to do the opposite. I surround myself with people similar to myself and never leave this safe haven of like-mindedness. As a believer, I am specifically called to go out and feed the sheep and to love others as I love myself. So why do I not? Why do I waste time in silly, selfish endeavors instead of answering the Call of the one who drank with the lowest in society and embraced the ones the church scorned? I call myself a Christian because I go to Bible study, church, I spend time in the word, and talk about God with the other people in His fan club... but where is the love? I spend time learning the ins and outs of the minutia of my faith but Corinthians 13:3 warns against going through loveless motions to look the part. I'm so worried about how I appear to the world, I distract myself from loving it.

So what does this mean for my life now? To sum it up as best I can, responsibility.
Now that I have seen how poorly the farmers in these growing nations are paid and treated so that I can have cheap imported produce, I will change my spending habits. I've seen what these mass-imported and mass-produced products do to people. Poorly treated workers, on top of produce and animals filled with harmful chemicals and antibiotics to keep production up and cost down. It disgusted me both on a heart and head level, and I retched at the thought of all the harm I was doing to both myself and people around me by not shopping/eating more responsibly. (I recommend documentaries like "", "Walmart: the high cost of low prices", and "Gold Fever") My part is small, but I can vote with my dollar. And my vote goes to ethically sourced produce and ethically treated livestock despite higher cost. Right now, the only way to ensure that is to buy locally, where I can actually get face-time with the farmers. Buying locally also provides a huge boost to the Indy economy by keeping the money here in the city where we need it. Each dollar spent locally returns three times more money than that spent at a chain, quoted American Independent Business Alliance. And it will give small business a chance to flourish, giving our wonderful city some character and individuality. If enough people make this lifestyle change, larger companies will fall in line and begin ethical sourcing to regain our lost business. Clothes, too, I've felt convicted about. My relentless cycle of consumerism leaves me with a full-to-bursting closet filled with tags that cry the names of abused cheap laborers: Honduras, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and countless more.
On the interpersonal side, I will essentially open myself up for God to show me populations that need loving. This may look different than feeding the poor or clothing the needy... Need for the father reaches from the inner city to Carmel. I hope to do this through my passions for coffee, but I don't know how exactly yet. But I know the Lord didn't place a love and talent for coffee in my heart for nothing. The unique thing about coffee is it's a way to love both locally and globally. I can use it to connect with people in my city as well as those in growing nations and bless both. How? I don't yet know... but I trust that as long as I make myself a willing vessel, a way will be made and I'll keep fighting and learning until I find it.
I have also had my eyes opened to the pain of the world around to me, and I've been blind to it. I never watched or read the news, but now I see that knowledge is power. How can I help if I don't know? It is part of the calling to be burdened for the pain of the world. My worries have been so fleshly: my fitness, my appearance, my dating life, my job, etc. I pray for a husband and fulfillment at work when I should be praying for those affected in gaza and Israel. I am counting carbs when I should be fasting, interceding for those displaced by civil war. God, forgive my blindness and my calloused, selfish heart.

I don't know what to do with all these feelings stirred up but I feel like the Lord has grown me tremendously through my experiences. He has softened my heart, grown my confidence, and opened up my eyes to the impotent nature of my lackluster faith. I'm excited to see where it all goes!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Santa Anita update

Our last few days with CCDA were lovely, and they sent us away with an extremely touching farewell dinner. We spent the afternoon on a touristy hotspot on the dock, followed by a boat and then bus ride to Santa Anita de la union, a small but proud coffee and banana farming community. They are wonderful people, and have welcomed us into their homes and fields. Many of the coffee farmers here are ex guerrillas, and regale us with stories of the civil war. Our host is an ex guerrilla fighter who told us he spent six months in the mountains to escape death and was taken in by a group of people who would become revolutionaries. He told us about three times he was nearly killed in battle, and now he farms a plot of coffee plantation in the daytime and reads his Bible in the evenings. "I am quiet and serious sometimes," he tells us, "but I have a very big heart". 
Our second host, a warm woman named doña Maria, cooks and cares for us. She is the wife of a beekeeper and has no children. There is no shortage of honey or laughter in her home. Her two dogs and pet parrot, Paco, are a constant source of entertainment. She tells us of brothers and mother in Guatemala City, and with a touch of pain she told the story of her other brother who was active in the resistance and was disappeared by the government. She never found out what happened to him, but suspects he was tortured to find the location of her and her family. She is only alive because he did not actually know where they were at the time. This community, this country, has seen so much pain but still they press on. The president of the community cooked us tortillas and told us they we should rejoice in our suffering and failings because they are opportunities to learn and grow. I am humbled by them. 
We have been put to work in the community alongside the men. We've helped in construction in the project we funded, a housing for their pulpera. We have helped weed coffee plants and chop firewood, and have one more day left of construction before we bid them farewell and make our way to higher ground to visit the mining communities. The weather here is subtropic, hot and humid every day and rainy and cold every evening. The insects are thick and during my running tally of bites on my body I counted 62. I'm sure I'll add to the number tomorrow. 
The lack of plumbing has been hard and I am craving a hot shower but yesterday I bathed under a waterfall after a long hike to and from the fields and I must say... I'll take that over a hot shower any day. But for now, bucket baths are a small price to pay for the privilege of working alongside these incredible people. 
Be well, friends