Thursday, December 11, 2014

Larger than Life

  Humans. By definition we have limits and imperfections. We learn at a very early age to accept those. We jump off of a chair and are unable to fly. We try to show our love for our mother and end up breaking something in the process. Acceptance of our limits is a great thing, but then we take the next step-growing to become better and stronger and closer to "perfect".

  Some things are truly impossible due to the laws of nature, however there are
ways around them. Wilbur and Orville Wright decided to take the failed attempts of many and create a way to fly in a world where flying was only a child's dream. Neither man possessed a high school diploma and in a world where they were expected to marry and start a family at an early age, both found themselves working a dead-end printing job in their hometown and with Wilbur caring for his terminally ill mother. Both men had faith in God and demonstrated their faith in their lives. A quote from C.S. Rolls, co-founder of the Rolls-Royce Motor Co describes the brothers,
"They have lived through continual accusations of bluff, through disbelief and ridicule, and have been unaffected. Now they have seen the sudden turn of popular opinion and have sprung to fame; but they are still equally unaffected, pursuing their daily work with their own hands in their own quiet way."
As we now experience, their experiment worked and they are credited with making the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight.

  Although it is hard to imagine a world where a light bulb is unimaginable and an airplane is science fiction or where the world was considered flat, but it was once so. In this world, you can chose to conform to the popular opinion, or you can believe in something and Someone larger than this life! Sure you could call it being a dreamer, but there are too many intricacies in nature for me to believe that this world is all there is to my life. When I die, whether I am deemed successful by the masses or a complete failure, I want to live as the Wright brothers were described, "through disbelief and ridicule, and unaffected". I'm not implying that I would like to be an oddity just because, however to believe in and live your life intentionally with the knowledge of the purpose of glorifying God will make you appear odd. Many will ask you questions and when you attempt to explain your purpose, most will shake their heads and write you off as crazy. Don't get discouraged. I remember a patient I had who came in speaking another language. No translator was available and the noises coming out of their mouth along with the hand gestures were completely baffling. That is what people who don't accept or believe in God will often experience when we try to explain. Instead of justifying our lives before others, find God and where He wants you to be, then let your life speak for itself. I am not discouraging sharing Him with others, but I think it is foolish to waste time debating God. The reality should be our example, much like the Orville Brothers using their "flying machine" to shut people up.

  Finally, I will encourage myself-as most of these are written to me-to not limit God. Can those two words even belong in sentence together? When I try to understand Him, I often get discouraged because I don't understand it all...but that is ok. My job is to be a human and His is to worry about everything else and be God. He tried to make life a bit more simple in that respect, so why should I complicate it??

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

So This is Love?

"Greater love has no one than this-than a person who would lay down their life for their friend."

What a quote. Self-less love. It is a foreign concept for our modern world. We live in a world where everything is fast pace to allow you to get as much accomplished and advance your career as quickly as possible. Some industries seem to demand some sort of moral compromise in order to gain the "respect" and move up. Marriages end every day and no one thinks twice about it because "everyone is doing it". Infidelity, compromise, and immoral behavior are all joked about and acceptable because, after all, we are only human!

A study done by the National Institute of Health shows that psychiatric admissions in children ages 5-12 has doubled in the last ten years. Our hospitals are flooded with suicidal and depressed people, yet we have never had as many advancements in technology and modern conveniences as we do today. Why are people so unhappy?

Happiness is not something you can box. It isn't a gift you can give. Money, fame, a great job, a significant other: none of these mean happiness. Happiness is defined in the Webster dictionary as, "A state of well being and contentment."

When I traveled to Ethiopia, I played with children in a school. These kids marveled when we took out a camera and showed them their photo-they had never seen a mirror. Bubbles??? Did someone say bubbles??? You should have seen them dance around in delight as we blew bubbles for them. These kids ate the same thing every day and didn't always get to eat three times. Kids who wore with hand-me-down clothes and entertained themselves. These kids were significantly more content than the American kids I had done clinics for. Sure, upbringing matters significantly, but as adults we have control.

Something my mother taught me growing up was that whenever you are upset or having a rough time, get your eyes off of yourself. I swear, there were days I would start to complain to her about how upset I was about something and she would forget to do the empathy part and skip right to the, "Well why don't you find someone to encourage or help?!? That will get your mind off of your problems!" Now that I am an adult, when people come to me (close friends) and start to fuss about how bad they have it, I have been known to say, "Well let's see... your airway is clear, your heart is still beating, and you are still breathing...things could be worse!" That would be the trauma nurse coming out. The truth remains, we can always find something to be thankful for or someone who is worse off than us.

So now I have gotten waayyy off topic, but I want to talk about the greatest love. You see, the quote at the top is from Jesus, the inventor of and ultimate Lover. He is the source of perfect love. We cannot manufacture it. Everyone deserves to be perfectly loved because Christ gave us the ultimate example and loved without conditions. He died on the cross with the knowledge that we would do things to hurt him continually, even thousands of years later! Imagine loving someone even when they hurt you all of the time. Our society condones "getting out" of an unbalanced marriage but the sacrifice it takes to love no matter what.

Love takes all forms. People love in their own way but that does not make it perfect love. The only way to have perfect love is to let Christ's love flow through you and the only way to do so is to be close to Him. When you love like He loves, no one can fault you and no one can shake you because it is a self-less love. The greatest love-laying down your life for another. You don't have to die to do that, you just put yourself aside and do what is best for them. That seems awful because everyone wants something for their efforts but when you are able to see past your self, it doesn't matter if the person you love is unable to return it, your reward is much greater.

I don't have a good way to wrap this up as my brain is going a million miles an hour but not doing well categorizing and writing. What I would encourage is to practice self-less love. It makes a difference and can change even the hardest of hearts. While it is certainly not easy, Jesus didn't call us to an easy life on this earth.

Sunshine Through the Rain

   Sometimes life seems to royally dump on us as humans. Sometimes it's a slow and steady rain that builds up over time and sometimes it is a simple downpour. We resist and attempt to remain on our feet when suddenly the tidal waves of our feelings come rushing in and much like erosion, eat away at our soul and our knowledge of reality. What do we do during times like these? Is there anything we have to stand on.



   I believe that God never gives us more than we can handle. I also believe that He gives the toughest battles to the strongest people. That being said, my actions don't always follow and my belief drifts into the "head knowledge" storage space.


   When we as humans understand how small we are in the big picture of life and experience the humbling realization of how intricate and well-planned the natural world around us is, it is then that we begin looking for a source of and reason for our existence. Some people begin on this journey and allow the millions of distractions of life to flood out their search. Some realize the need for a "Creator" to the incredible design and abandon the search upon the realization that their life might have a design and they might not be in control. Still others educate themselves well on the matter, believe solidly in a Creator and a plan, yet live their life as if they can pick and choose where the plan is convenient and where they get to make the decisions.


   I find myself guilty of being a part of the last group. I decide that I am capable of making my own decisions completely autonomously. Leaving the Creator out of the process gives me complete freedom-or so I think. I plod along, happy-go-lucky in my own world, when suddenly things in life don't make sense. Things go awry and none of my efforts to reverse the circumstances work. I go running back to the one with the blueprints, a frustrated and confused child. The Creator tenderly embraces me and points me back to the perfect plan for my life. How many times do I wander a maze instead of following the path?

Warning: This post contains graphic images

   The actual title to this post is "Learning to Look Up". I put the disclaimer at the top because non-medical individuals are allowed to be disturbed by blood and insides of the body being outside. It is nothing shameful.

   When I walk, I frequently find myself looking down. I am not the most coordinated of people at times and can easily get distracted by my surroundings and misjudge a corner of a wall or fail to recognize the spread of a rolling chair. I regularly find cuts and bruises on myself from unknown causes. Hence I look down.

   Sometimes I catch myself "looking down" at work. Focusing on tasks and diseases and failing to see a person with needs other than a quick IV and medication. I rush through my tasks so I can finish my charting and fail to be the one to actually see the person in the gown.

   One such time in my life, God reminded me to look up. A patient was assigned to me with complaints of lower extremity/calf pain. She was in tears and saying her leg felt like it was going to explode. Unfortunately, tears in the ER are a norm and must be sifted through. I will admit, I took her semi-seriously. I had just discharged a horribly dramatic drug seeker who had attempted to use up all of my compassion and dragged me through mounds of hypochondriac "issues". This new patient had been brought back to the exact same room and I had walked in with a remaining attitude from the prior encounter.

   I walked out of the room to grab my IV supplies. I re entered and began assessing the patient while starting an IV. Labs drawn and as thorough an assessment completed as possible with her tears and pain, I returned to find a Doctor to address a bit of the pain so that a better assessment would be possible.

   After giving her some medication, she was less tearful and able to share her story. She had a blood clot in her leg that was a result of an accidental kick during a game of freeze tag. She was being treated appropriately, but today things changed and suddenly she began having excruciating pain with occasional loss of sensation.

  What were these bizarre symptoms? Drug seekers come in all shapes, sizes, appearances, and sometimes I still get tricked. If it wasn't that, there are some emergencies it could be. When you did the physical assessment, her leg looked just a little more swollen and was just a little more warm. It gave all of the characteristics of a normal leg with very subtle differences.







   Ortho was consulted. They wrote her off as being dramatic but the Doctor and I began considering something more. We paged again and demanded they take a second look. A pressure was checked in her leg. Sure enough-no drugs, true pain. This patient was dealing with compartment syndrome, a true emergency where the pressure is too great in a compartment of the muscle which can cause irreversible muscle and nerve damage as well as blood flow problems. The patient was prep'd and rushed off to surgery to have a emergency fasciotomy.

I tell this story, partly so I will remember the lesson learned of always taking things seriously until proven otherwise, but also to remind myself to remember the humans around me. I allowed my emotions from my prior patient to influence my treatment of another patient. While there was "no harm done", the potential was present. Additionally, I was lacking in my compassion levels due to a prior experience. People are human. They make mistakes. They also make life better. Our judgement or preconceived notions need to be dropped when it comes to being loving. Jesus gives love freely to all and my prayer for today is to stop "looking down" and start loving others more.

Emotions and Pain

Emotions.

They exist. We can't see them or touch them. We can't smell them. We can't administer them and expect for the product we distributed to be the same as when we gave it. They are based what? We cannot deny them. We can work through them but our society accepts them as an excuse. Women are "allowed" to behave inappropriately once a month and let's be honest, who is really going to know if they decide to fake that time as an excuse. Certain actions of others are deemed to have an appropriate emotional response which, under normal circumstances, would be inappropriate. These are all foggy and grey. Why the grey colors everywhere. Why not live with a solid set of rules and behaviors.

Emotions are a gift from God and can greatly enhance our life. Emotions are something that we can use as icing on the cake or abuse and just have independent. Without a solid cake to hold a shape, icing cannot be truly appreciated. Without the solid set of expectations based on something that doesn't change, emotions flit around like a feather in the wind. They may land for a time and appear to have stability but the next little gust of wind will move them to a completely different place. A feather in the wind is beautiful and sees many things, but ultimately has no consistency and therefore cannot be depended on for anything but visual diversion.

There are very few constants in this world. We could say life is a constant but that would be false. People die unexpectedly every day. We could say the sun is a constant, but what about the days it rains. We could say matter is a constant, but the second law of thermodynamics and life itself proves otherwise. Things don't just get better spontaneously, they must have a force of some sort.

Let us go beyond this world. Space perhaps? Perhaps, but it is essentially an unknown hypothesis at the present. How about getting back to the beginning/master designer.

I don't believe chaos created the world because the laws of the world daily prove otherwise. I believe in a Creator. A constant. The one thing that has consistency and has stood the test of time. The Bible has stood the test of thousands of years. I suppose if a Creator can implement the universe with His words, he can protect and preserve his Words in the writing of his creation. It is interesting how he wrote the Bible for the literate and painted creation for the illiterate and yet we still refuse to trust.

He doesn't change. Why not put him in the middle of you life-He wants to be there-and let Him guide your decisions. My world is constantly rocked. Things happen that should upset me. People fail me. I fail myself. Strangely, I cope best when I am closest to the Creator. Why would that be? Why would I be most successful when I am doing what I was designed to do? Is a toaster more successful when it is toasting bread or trying to do the job of a generator? Well it wasn't intended to be a generator and while that is a noble and lofty goal, it will never be most successful. Even if it were capable of being a generator, that was not it's purpose and emotions come with fulfillment of your purpose.

Pain.

It is whatever you say it is. It is not a geometrical shape. It does not have a solid scale that across the board is objective. It is whatever you say it is.

To be continued...