Monday, August 28, 2006

Prayer request

Generally, I do not ask publically for prayer. This is not a pride thing as much as it is a privacy thing. But I know that if you can pray, you will, and that's all I need.

My grandma is 97. She is living at home with my mother (it's mom's MIL, my father's an only child), who has been her caregiver for years. My grandma fell last week and fractured her pelvis.

I don't know that I'm asking for healing, while that would be nice. But Grandma has been wanting to "go home" for a long time now. Mom feels it may be nearing that time.

Please pray for Grandma's pain control. Please pray for her peace and comfort. Please pray that God ministers to her in a special way and lightens this burden.

Please pray for my mom, who is exhausted and spent. Pray for her as she ministers minute by minute to Grandma. Pray for her mind to be at ease, and her body to be strong. Pray that God ministers to Mom in a clear voice. Pray for supportive people to come around her and help with joyful, gentle hearts.

Please pray for my handicapped sister, Stef, 38, who also lives at home with Mom. Pray that she will be a vessel of the Holy Spirit, as she watches Grandma and prays for her over dinner, prays that Grandma will go home to be with Jesus.

Pray for my Dad, that he will be comforted and quieted by God's hand; that he will continue to bear the blessing of the Godly legacy that my Grandmother gave him with thankfulness.

Thank you.


She is excessive. He is symmetric.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Muslim up close

This post has been on my heart for awhile. I'm a slow thinker and an even slower typist. Thankfully I have a few quiet hours tonight.

It was the morning of my daughter Liberty's second birthday. Early in the day the news came that Al-Zarqawi had been killed. I jokingly said, "Well, happy birthday, baby girl. They killed a terrorist on your big day!" And I didn't think another thing about it until later that day...

Many of you know, I'm a nurse. I specialize in Intensive Care nursing, but specialize within that in oncology (cancer) ICU nursing. I treasure few things as highly as working with people who are living and dying with cancer. I rarely get to work in my favorite area because other departments are busier and more needy. But that evening I was sent to the oncology unit.

My assignment was pre-determined. I sat taking report from the offgoing RN. Patient #1 was a bone marrow transplant patient. Doing well, slated to be discharged to the floor soon. But patient #2 was a problem. She was from Syria, non-English speaking, brought here by her physician brother to treat an aggressive recurrence of cancer. She was not doing well AND she couldn't communicate with us. "She's sweet, but almost impossible to understand. We're working on getting a translator hot-line number." Muslim probably, I thought. I've never taken care of a Muslim.

I readied myself to go in and meet her. We have to wear masks and gloves to protect our fragile patients from easily transmitted infections. But I was glad for the mask because as I entered her room I was nervous. In the front of my mind I knew she wasn't a terrorist, of course; she was probably a mother, a worker like me. But the uneasiness remained. I think I was nervous because I was afraid to be found as ignorant as I felt, and I was afraid I would unwittingly insult her culture and her religion. And this old evangelical quip kept flashing through my mind: Christians and Muslims are enemies, aren't they?

She was sitting at the foot of her bed with her hijab covering her head, drawn, pale, quiet. Her brother and sister-in-law were in a full-blown conversation. I quietly turned on the monitor, assessed her, took vital signs. I'd never really listened to Arabic before. In other languages I occasionally hear a word or two that I understand, or at least think I do, but in Arabic there was not one thing that sounded familiar. It was soft and filled with sounds I might use when calming a crying child or telling a secret. It was beautiful. I spoke to my patient through her brother: Did she have pain? Nausea? Any trouble breathing? No, she told him. The brother and I sat and made a list of basic yes/no assessment questions that we could use in his absence. I could point to the Arabic writing that followed my English question. But how could I really ask what I wanted to know? How can you leave your home, your country to come here to gamble getting better? Do you understand how very sick you are? Are you afraid? Are you lonely? As I turned to leave the room , she caught my hand and said, with a thick accent, "Thank you, thank you." And then she kissed my arm.

It was a good thing I wore the mask because I'm not much of a hugger, let alone a kisser. My mouth was probably hanging open. I know I blushed. I felt the heat in my face. I did something and excused myself, taken aback by her gentleness. Something in the back of my mind began to come forward. Prejudice. I was prejudice because she was Muslim and I was not. Yet she didn't represent Al-Zarqawi, just like I don't represent the screaming, yelling TV evangelists that you see on cable.

Later that evening, after her family had gone I reviewed my notes. She was required to bathe twice a day, according to doctor's order. It was standard care for leukemics to keep the potential bacteria from infecting their body. I leafed through the notes. No bath. She'd been there a few days and it didn't look like she had been in the tub once. I went into her room and tried to pantomime a bath. She wasn't getting it. She was waving me off, expressions that looked like No, no I don't need one. Too tired. Too sick. I picked up the phone and called a relative that had agreed to translate. "Please tell her that I need to give her a bath, ask her if she's had one. She needs to be clean." The family member was very kind, spoke with her for several minutes, and then told me, "No, there has been no bath. She says she will go with you."

I readied the bathtub and towels. She slowly began to pull her hijab off, and stopped. She looked directly in my eyes and said, "Sorry. So sorry." As her scarf came off I saw the thin little whips of hair that I've long associated with the disease. "Con-ser, con-ser" she said slowly. Conser... oh! Cancer! Yes, I whispered and rubber her shoulder, I know, it's from the cancer. It's okay. Syrian or American, women still grieve their hair. We steadily shuffled arm in arm to the bathroom and I helped her undress. She began to shiver violently from the cold. I eased her into the tub and began to carefully and quickly wash her. My mind was buzzing. Am I doing anything wrong? Have I offended her beliefs at all? The bathing of another person is always a holy moment for me, but none so much as this one. In that humble position, kneeling before her, my mind and heart wrestled through thoughts: Muslim vs. Terrorist, American rhetoric vs. Middle East, Mohammed vs. Christ, friend vs. foe - and then... she quietly leaned over and kissed the top of my head. "Thank you, thank you, " she whispered. With my head bowed, I tried not to cry. God had brought the image of Al-Zarqawi and my patient side-by-side, I heard my glib comment to Libby replay in my head, and then He said, "Who's judge are you? I created both. I love both. Don't let your over-exposure to the radical Muslim mislead your understanding."

I still think about her. We sat on her bed later that day and shared pictures of children, showing age by the universal "hold up the number of fingers" technique. I didn't learn Arabic, and she didn't learn English, but she bridged a gap for me that no article or special interest story could. I was changed by that night. Part of redemption is allowing God to work out areas of darkness in us that we don't even know exist, like prejudice and ignorance. It may have been Liberty's birthday, but the gift that night was all mine.

Friday, August 11, 2006

August Furrbabies

Yes, that's me.

Yes, I'm the mom at SuperTarget that drives the huge 19-seat cart that you need a trucking license to operate.

Yes, I'm the mom that picks up a whole bag of spilled chocolate teddy graham crackers off the store floor, puts them back in the bag, and hands them back to the child to continue eating. Yes, I also say, "It's okay, just be careful so we don't have to pick them up again."

Yes, I'm the mom that you hear holding discussions like, "Hey, don't put your penis in the pretzel bowl." "Why?" "Because we don't put our penis where our food is." "Oh, okay, Mommy."

Yes, I'm the mom at the restaraunt that lets my daughter dip everything, everything in ketchup, but has to draw the line every now and then - "No more ketchup in your hair, Honey."

Yes, I'm the mom that is standing in the line at Linens N Things with a tiny toilet seat, calmly explaining to my three year old, "Dora goes poopy in the potty. Boots goes poopy in the potty, and Swiper goes poopy in the potty too." Incredulous toddler, "Swiper goes poopy in the potty too?!?!" Mommy, with a straight face, "Yes, Swiper poops in the potty."

Yes, I'm the mom that sings rousing Wiggles sing-a-longs with the kids while clipping through the grocery store at 3.8 miles per hour. Yes, sometimes I'm the only one singing.

Never thought I'd be a mom. Never thought things like memorizing the Nick Jr. line-up would be important, nay critical information. Never thought I'd have a refrierator magnet collection that consisted of the entire alphabet, farm animals, and a magnet that says, "If beauty is a state of mind then I'm a frickin' genius!" Never thought I'd have en educated opinion about Teletubbies. Never thought I'd sacrifice, bend, or bow to the power of motherhood. Never thought I'd hear myself say, "I have three little kids." Never thought I'd love what I do as much as I do. Never thought losing my old self to this new life would be such a great gift.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

August toewear

There have been a few since this, but I thought you'd enjoy this one. Toes by Mimi Nails in Sweetwater Crossing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Late Night Visitors

One week ago, about now, we were heading upstairs; Hubby was turning in for a night of sleep before preaching, and I went in the nursery to quiet a particularly cute, but miserable teething 9 month old. When I came out I heard the quiet clicking of the front door knob. Funny, I thought, Matt must have had to run out to his car and forgot the door is locked. So I went down to let him in. Something told me to check first. When I peeked out the window, much to my surprise, there was a young man I did not know trying to get into my house. I flipped on the porch light and saw, unfortunately, no change in his expression. Eyes partly closed, swaying side to side, and his hands still busily trying to get in the door. Either he's drunk or tripping or both. I don't see a weapon. I knocked on the window, no eye contact. "Wrong house!" I shouted. No change. I ran to the phone, dialed 911, and called for Matt, who was just on the verge of sleep. My knight in shining armor came running down the steps and immediately took the situation in hand, continuing to try to convince the man that this was not his house, and he needed to leave NOW. Well, poor man, he had now started knocking politely and occasionally ringing the doorbell, seemingly oblivious to us. It was at that point that he took out his credit card and began working on the dead-bolt. "What's your emergency?" "There's a man I don't know trying to get into my house." I'm imparting pertinent information and now see a new problem arising. Knight in Shining Armor is getting more and more pissed off and protective by the second, pupils dilated, he begins to sway a little too, his hand on the inside doorknob. Matt said he was trying to figure out how to run out and knock the guy off the porch while I shut the door behind him... Attack Daddy was starting to emerge! I was staying on the line with the dispatcher while Matt was growling in the background about the response time. I kept saying, "I have little kids. Three babies. Are you close?" "Yes ma'am." "Please hurry, I have little kids. They're sleeping." Keep the intruder out, keep the husband in. After what seemed like forever, four police cars, six officers and a K-9 unit converged on our front lawn. Matt is narrating, "Okay they're here. They're coming. Okay, they've got him... oh! Not the new bushes!" After much shouting and handcuffing (poor kid was so drunk he just sort of fell in a heap), it became clear that he was a neighbor kid who'd been at a party, got smashed, was sleeping if off in his buddy's car, and then decided to walk home. Ideally to his home, but unfortunately, he ended up, persistence and all, at ours. The officers were very nice and took him somewhere to sleep it off.

Matt and I had quite an adrenaline buzz and stayed up until midnight replaying the events. The main thought that kept coming up was how unusual, yet divinely prompted it had been that I threw the deadbolt closed after having returned home from running to the store an hour before hand. Normally I lock up the house on my last pass through before bed. Had the door been opened it might have been a very different story.

Vive la suburbia!

(Since then, Matt had a chance to greet the kid in his driveway. Once he knew we were the family in the white house with the green shutters, he was thoroughly embarrassed and contrite.)



Izak's favorite new conversational tool: "Why?"

(H) "Izak, please get ready to go for a ride. Get Blankie and your sandals."

(I) "Okay, Mommy. Why?"

(H) "Because we need to run errands before Levi gets sleepy.

(I) "Why?"

(H) "Because then he will need to take a nap."

You guessed it. (I) "Why?"

I'm trying to reject the "because I said so" response, though I can't promise it's not in my future. But Matt found the perfect closer. "Because I love you." And almost as a rule, when you answer him with that, he stops asking why.

Quieted by love. There is something timeless and universal in that, isn't there?