That Apparent Stillness – Learning to Wait

•October 3, 2012 • 4 Comments

A friend shared this poem with me the other day and I felt that it was a fitting follow up on my previous post. I hope you are as blessed by it as I was.



by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”

“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.

“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.

“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.

“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.

“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”

Climbing Higher

•September 30, 2012 • 2 Comments

Living in the city I often feel as if all I see is buildings, dirt, cars, people, and everything earthly and worldly. Its at those times that I have to climb a little higher to peer above the rubble where I can gain clearer glimpses of higher things and the mountains of God… even at the risk that it might appear weird to other people

— like climbing up into my windowsill.

In Search of Fall

•September 26, 2012 • 1 Comment

When I first arrived in Southern California I was met by brown, barren, dry, HOT and lets not forget city, city, city and more CITY! It was kind of an overwhelming shock to my senses coming from the lush, green, country hills of Tennessee.

I’m a romantic who loves a good romp in open meadows, making daisy chains, and wading through creeks and mountain streams.  Fall is one of my favorite times of the year… sweaters, scarves, spiced candles, soups, warm pies, applesauce, leaf piles, vibrant trees, and that crisp autumn air that sends tingles right down your spine.

I watch all the status messages on Facebook regarding “beautiful autumn weather” and I  look out my window and sigh. The temperature reads 98 degrees, the watered things are green and the unwatered places have no life… the land of perpetual summer and no rain. And then you add in endless traffic, millions of people, perpetually wailing sirens, frequent helicopters, constant city noise, and suffocating smog. I was warned about all these things and in my mind  I understood it, but true understanding didn’t come until reality hit and I was actually living in the midst of it.

I had just about despaired of Southern California having any value besides friends (and a job), when I came across a grand discovery this past weekend – Southern California has Fall! A backpacking trip to the Sierras brought about this glorious revelation and a feast for my starving country soul.

That Apparent Stillness – Learning to Listen

•September 25, 2012 • 3 Comments

Have you ever had experiences line up where you can see beyond doubt that God is orchestrating circumstances and leading in your life in a powerful way? Life is glorious! It appears to be effortlessly falling into place and you just can’t imagine how much better things could be working out when you get that feeling that it’s really too good to continue and then everything whirls to an all too predictable apparent stillness where you are tempted to wonder if God was really leading you in the first place?

There is an endless variety of situations that could fit this scenario and I feel as if I am often finding myself in one. Lately I started mulling the repetitiveness of it over in my mind because it seems to me that there is always a part of the picture I’m missing. And maybe it is this “missing piece” that causes the apparent stillness?

As I was pondering this, my mind followed down the path of how God leads us. Because after all, that is the root of the confusion. I believe He can guide us by speaking  through other people, through circumstances, through His Word, and through feelings/impressions (though those aren’t to be solely relied upon). But even with these methods God uses to guide us, sometimes they just don’t feel like enough. A piece is missing.

And then there is that often repeated verse: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21. This verse can be so powerful and encouraging to me, and yet, just so frustrating.  Frustrating, because there are those moments when I turn to my right hand, and I turn to my left hand, and there’s no voice , no sign, no inspiration, just an apparent stillness. A piece is missing

It almost feels wrong to admit you’ve come to that still place… it shows a lack of faith, a weakness. Nobody likes to accept the fact that they feel God’s leading has vanished. And so we all go on living a jolly life, I put on my smile and encourage others that God is a faithful guide while deep inside I scrunch up my brow, cock my head to one side, and question where this faithful guidance is. To me, faithful means constant and steadfast. That silent stillness, in my fiercely logical mind, cannot be synonymous to faithful, constant, or steadfast… or can it? A piece is missing.

Several experiences over this summer tipped me into this labyrinth of thoughts regarding these questions that have rolled around in my head for years but I had never tackled into serious pondering since I didn’t like to concede to myself that I was confused.

In my quest for the missing piece my mind was “sidetracked” and ran down a peripheral trail of “smaller” leadings… There is so much hurt and confusion in this world and being in nursing I find myself within touching distance of it more frequently than I have wisdom to respond to. My imperfect life is full of so much joy and blessing that my heart breaks for these starved and wounded children of God. God has given me so much that I am obligated to turn around and give it again. But I lack the sagacity to reach across that touching distance to pass on the blessing I have received. I am in need of momently wisdom. I pray a lot during these encounters and I have seen God use me, put words in my mouth, and impress me in certain ways. Amidst these humbling experiences I somehow don’t feel like I’m being used to my fullest potential. I am lacking. I feel God wanting to use me and I just wish he would pass me a note, shout in my ear, or grab me by the hand and show me.

It was along this side trail that I started feeling a strong conviction to pray that I would learn to recognize God’s voice more keenly. I paused briefly at that thought because often I hear a lot of fanatical ideas resulting from “the voice of God.” But just because extreme outcomes are reportedly linked back to a specific root doesn’t mean that particular root is bad. While I’ve grown up praying and listening, I believe God has much more He wants to speak to me than I pause to hear.

In praying for this sharper recognition I quickly came back to the uncomfortable realization that I have come to many times before. God’s voice doesn’t speak only the things I want to hear. So I had to add two more prayers, one, that God would give me the desire to follow the leadings of His voice, and two, that He would give me the strength to carry them through.

I was brought back to the main path I had diverged from when I came again to an apparent stillness a couple weeks ago.

Roughly a month ago, I arrived to my new temporary home in California after driving 2,345 miles across the country with all my worldly possessions (with the exception of my furniture – bed, dresser desk, etc.) packed into my faithful little Subaru. I knew God had led me here and even though I was tempted to feel trapped and discouraged being in a hot, brown city in southern California, I felt a conflicting peace. My first day here, the job position I had been searching online for throughout summer, was posted – a nursing position on the Labor and Delivery unit. Another sign God had been leading in my move.

Within a couple of days I had made contacts in HR and a nurse on the floor who I knew of. More positive signs. A week later I was called for an interview. I prayed for wisdom, strength and peace. The day of my interview arrived and my stomach was filled with knots, that is until I walked into my first of three consecutive interviews when God instantly flooded me with peace that would remain throughout the next hour and half of questions. God brought stories to mind for each question and in fact, I actually quite enjoyed the interviews. More positive signs.

I was told if I got the job I would get a phone call within one week and if I didn’t, I would get an email within two weeks. During that first week I prayed that God would lead and place me where I would be of most service to Him and would prepare me best for experiences in the future. That last painful day of week one passed and the silence remained. I was a little sad and kind of confused since it had appeared that God had really been opening doors for me. Now I felt like I was back to ground zero and there was an apparent stillness in God’s leading. And again I wondered about missing pieces.

With the reality of that job option out of the question in my mind, I had several alternatives that ran around  mind. I started looking at travel nursing jobs within driving distance and found one of particular interest. Just as I was about to apply for information and start down that process, I had this distinct impression that siad “wait!” Wait? I saw no good reason for that since I knew processes can take awhile but then I remember the prayer I had been praying of late and that very morning. Maybe God was trying to tell me to wait. It didn’t make sense but I figured I had time and if God was telling me to wait, why should I not wait?

The next several days I had more thoughts of continuing towards a travel nursing job. But each time I restarted down that road, I felt told to wait. And each prayer I prayed for guidance in seeking a job, the answer was always “wait.” In my mind, the job I had applied for was gone and I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for. But with the acceptance of waiting, I continued my daily life with peace. After a week and a half I had a phone call asking if I was still interested in the position… now I knew what the wait was for. Needless to say, I accepted the position and will be starting as a Labor and Delivery nurse in just a few short weeks!

So what is that apparent stillness? For me, I find it is a quiet opportunity to exercise my ear. With that comes more understanding and a sharper sight to see that God continues to work through stillness. Although I realize that becoming more in tune with the voice of God isn’t necessarily the entire “missing piece,” I believe it goes quite a distance in bridging the gap. While this is a seemingly small scenario I often think that the important things in life are made of small things. And I find that recognizing the seemingly small workings of God builds my faith and ultimately draws me closer to the source of all wisdom. And with that comes a keener ear – always listening for the voice of God.

A Quick 1 Year Catch-up

•September 12, 2012 • 2 Comments

It’s been over a year since I’ve paused to record here. While it may appear to have been a silent year, in reality it has been one of immense change. This post will just be a simple sum of activities throughout the year in pictures… at least the activities I have pictures from.

Sewing projects

Made a Pillow

Finished my first quilt.

Apron for Allana

Roadtrip 1

Went to Florida to visit Friend Emily.

After swimming in the ocean during a rainstorm


Went Backpacking in the Smokies.

Temporarily conquered my fear of heights by climbing to the top of this rickety old fire tower….

… the view was worth it.


Cousin Debbie got married on her Kentucky farm.


Baking – Apple Pie for Allana’s birthday

My birthday gift from a Kindred Spirit… dearest Heather.


Finding Venus with Tami

Road Trip 2

Missouri – Visiting my adorable niece… she just turned 1!

Isn’t she just adorable? -photo credit: Frankie Rose

Michigan – Friend Kristi got married


Uncovering the flower gardens with Allana

Preparing the garden

Planting the garden

Watching the garden grow

Harvesting vegetables from the garden

The Great Northwest

2 weeks of camp nursing

Visiting Allana in Portland, OR.

And I’ve moved to California! But I’ll save that for a separate blog.

I’m an Auntie!

•August 2, 2011 • 2 Comments

I could not be more exhilarated or excited. I’m finally an aunt! I have waited for this day for longer than I can remember… well at least the past 7 years. Its kind of crazy to think that I knew nothing about it 10 days ago, and now she’s already here. While the adoption papers aren’t all finalized I still consider her a part of our family. God has open countless doors and untold miracles have been wrought in her behalf. Many prayers are still needed that the process will continue smoothly. Isn’t she just preciously cute?

Grace Elizabeth

Worth It ~ Part 1

•June 21, 2011 • 4 Comments

I’ve just started a 6-week stint on night shift to fill in for one of our night nurses who is gone on maternity leave.

Its the first night. I arrive to the floor and look at the board for assignments. Great, I thought, my fifth patient is a new admit. I grab my organizational sheet and go to receive report.

Patient 1 is a little lady who is completely bedridden. She’ll be going home on hospice in couple days.

Patient 2 came in with an INR of 7.4 but is doing much better now. He’s very needy and always wants you to be there to get him things. He said he fell last night and so is now on a bed alarm. Though he will take it off himself when gets up for the bathroom so watch it.

Patient 3 came in with a heart attack 2 days ago. He’s going for a cardiac cath in 2 days.

Patient 4 has a lot going on with her. Came in with chest pain. They ruled out cardiac and are sending her for an EGD in the morning. She’s NPO after midnight. Her catheter must of gotten snagged today because its all really bloody. Just keep watching it.

Patient 5 arrived to the floor in the middle of report. Elderly lady with chest pain.

After making my new admit comfortable, I run to assess everyone else before I process her. Starting with patient 1 I walk into the room. “Hi!” a little 5-year-old boy yells out, “What’s your name? Hey that’s a cool pen, I LOVE pens like that. Hey, can I have a green wrist band like my cousin got, you know those green things that go around your wrist. My cousin got one of those, I want one those, can you get me one? What are you going to do? What are you listening for? Can I hold that?” The barrage of  questions and chatter never ceases as I vainly attempt to hear the garbled breath sounds and hypoactive bowel sounds.

“Honey, I’m going to need the bedpan. When I need it I need it fast.” My 85 pound patient informed me. As the family and little boy chatter stepped outside the door, I slipped the bedpan in place and proceeded checking pulses and writing on the rounding log. “Honey, I think I’m through. I guess I can’t have a bowel movement.” She said sadly, “Its been several days.” With bowel movement in my thoughts, I jumped to the conclusion that she hadn’t needed the bedpan after all. I deftly slid out the pan with thoughts of my next patient needing to be assessed. To my chagrin, I realized too late that the bed pan had been filled… just not with a bowel movement. I righted the pan only after half the contents had been poured into the bed. Oh no, I groaned, I don’t have time for this. “I’m sorry,” I started, feeling rather foolish, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you all cleaned up and a nice fresh bed while we’re at it.” I gave a reassuring smile, mostly for myself.

I page a tech and run out the door to get some supplies only to be attacked by my now forgotten chatterbox. “Hey, did you know you can see Grandma’s house from that window over there? Its just right out there! Come look right now! Its the gray one! Come! Come! Come!” I barely squeak out a “That’s neat! I can’t come right now” when he grabs my arm with that insistent little boy feel and jumps back in with full force. “Have you heard of the purple candy lady? I like the purple candy lady. She dresses up in purple and always comes around…..” And that is when my multi-tasking failed me. I wanted to sit down and hear all about the purple candy lady, to go look out the window and have grandma’s house pointed out to me. But thoughts of his poor grandma sitting in a wet bed and my duty at hand drove me on.

I retreat back into the room as the tech comes to my aid. We begin the cleanup and bed change process, but in my nervous haste I bump the bedside table sending the water pitcher full of ice crashing to the floor. As Murphy would have it, the tightly snapped lid came decidedly unsnapped covering half the floor with ice chips. No, I groaned, I really don’t have time for this! Forcing on my quickly fading smile, I shove my way between bedside table, IV pole, call light cord, IV tubing, bed, and night stand to attempt fitting the too small fitted sheet on the too large mattress. Wielding all my strength from that awkward angle, I managed to pop the corner into place.

Whew! That’s over, I must get to my other patients, I thought with relief but not for long. I stepped out of the tangled mess with a seemingly quick, smooth motion, but not before my dangling hemostat snagged the IV tubing, pulling it rather violently.  “Ouch!” I heard exclaimed as I looked back in horror to see blood oozing from where the tubing had been taped. “Is it supposed to be bloody like that?” she asked. “No,” I replied slowly. Mustering up that long lost smile I hastened on, “but don’t worry, I’ll get it all cleaned up and fixed for you.” Upon closer examination, to my utter consternation, I discovered that instead of just peeling the tape off the skin, the skin had peeled back off with the tape. Seeing the flap of paper-thin skin, 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch long, dangling by one end sent my stomach into one, tight, queasy flop. I felt the tears pressing against the backs of my eyeballs. But not having the time to stop for them, I gave one last fleeting look of utter helplessness and despair to the tech and hurried out the door to get more supplies.

I’ll spare you all the details of ripping skin while trying to untape it. Suffice it to say I managed to salvage the majority and leave a neat, clean dressing in place…. and escape the room without any more catastrophes.

Its 1940 and I still have 4 more patients to asses. I rushed through the rest of my assessments only to get stuck with my new admit who insisted on telling me her whole life story. With sudden urgency she informed me she needed to get to the bathroom. I quickly positioned myself and gently helped her to her feet. No more than two steps were taken before the flood gates opened. After finishing the trek to the bathroom and reassuring her that it was OK and that I was there for her, I calmly rushed out to get yet more supplies. Fortunately the tech was not too far outside and was able to rescue me yet again.

The night almost never ended. It was one thing after another. Patient 4 with the bloody catheter who was heading for an EGD in the morning had meds every couple hours with different antibiotics interspersed sporadically through the night. 2300 rolls around, “She’s had no urine output all evening,” the tech informed me. Well, I thought, we’ll give it a little more time. Surely somethings got to come out soon. I plowed on, attempting to chart but getting interrupted by so many different needs. 0300 comes, “There’s still no urine output.” I look at the tech helplessly. “Ok, I’ll call the doctor.” I don’t have time for this. Why am I here? I’m such incompetent nurse. I don’t deserve this job. Who even am I? I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know how to take care of these people. “500 mL Normal Saline bolus now.” came the order.

0500 arrived… the foley bag stood empty. Afraid the catheter might be out of place, I ask another nurse to come help me. The patient was complaining of needing to use the bathroom. With a new foley in place, we glance at the bag expectantly…. nothing. Another nurse runs to grab the bladder scanner… the bladder is empty. The tech came in to take routine vitals and discovers the blood pressure 67/45. A manual BP reveals 58/40. I ran to the nurses station frantic. I didn’t know what to do. A nurse runs in to place her in reverse trendelenburg position while I page the doctor. Another 500 ml bolus of NS is ordered. The house supervisor comes up and starts going through the chart and overseeing the interventions. Back in the room, my patient is alert and oriented. I watched the fluids rushing in and wondered where it was all going. As I stood their pondering everything but totally unsure of anything, the charge nurse came in, “The doctor is on his way up, he’s sending her to the unit.” By now, the shifts were changing. I called report and prepared for the transfer.

I spent the next 1 1/2 hours after shift change just trying to catch up on all my long forgotten charting. Is it worth it? I wondered, I’m not a good nurse, I’m not at all competent. And I still have two more nights this week.