Same Team

I had a patient a few months ago who was anxious, cried at the drop of a hat, and could become belligerent.  He was wound so tightly with fear that he seemed to think he had to fight for everything. His pain was out of control and so we started working on a plan to either increase his dose of pain medication, the frequency that he could get it, or switch to another pain med entirely.  At one point he said, “And now I have to convince you that…” and then started rambling about the need to get his pain under control. By then he was talking at me rather than with me. Soon talking at me turned into an angry diatribe. When he stopped for a second to breathe, I explained to him that we both wanted the same thing.  I never want my patients to be in so much pain that they can hardly move. For one thing, it makes their recovery a much slower process; for another it means I have to be at the beck and call of a grumpy person all night. I said to him, “We are on the same team, we are both fighting for the same thing. We want your pain under control.  It may be hard for you to wait because you can’t see me paging the doctors, you won’t see the new order when they put it in, you won’t see me paging pharmacy to have them approve of the new medication asap, but I promise all of those things are happening behind the scenes. You don’t need to convince me of anything.”

This patient was under the mistaken belief that he had to fight for everything himself.  He did not realize that I was on his side and he was expending wasted energy through belligerently trying to convince me of his pain.  I was already working on the situation, he simply didn’t trust me to get the job done.

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My eyes are closed

 My eyes are closed
And the gentle breeze brushes my cheek
The waves whisper comfort

Through these sensations
Snapshots appear

I see my life in pictures
on the shores of Lake Michigan

I see myself as a high school graduate,
giggling with dear friends
I see myself as a college student,
jumping down dunes
saying goodbye to residents
sitting atop a frozen wave just trying to breathe
gazing from afar in Sanctuary Woods
I see myself as a newly licensed nurse
celebrating with an aspiring med student
by kayaking and sleeping in a boathouse
I see myself as a young adult on retreats
swinging and singing into the sunset

My eyes are closed and I am overwhelmed by how many times
God has used this body of water to restore me,
this great lake more dear to me than any ocean

My eyes are closed
and still I see clearly
the faithfulness of God
woven throughout each snapshot
and I know
He will not loose his grip on me now


 I sat on my couch
And the sunshine poured in
And my thoughts turned in
Primed for self-pity

My phone buzzed
Breaking my sun-soaked reverie
Breaking news-- “active shooter alert”
Self-pity scared out of me with a few words

I sent my own text
To the two precious lives
That entered the world after mine

I stood
I paced
I microwaved my coffee

My phone buzzed
One is safe
My phone buzzed
The other is in a library
In the middle of the threat
A refuge of books now a war zone

I stood
I prayed
I cried

Turns out it was popping balloons
But now joyful sounds
Are translated as terror

Scared out of self-pity on a Saturday afternoon
By popping balloons
And a scared populace

Friendship and Facebook Statuses

When I had a Facebook there was a random app that had its fifteen minutes of fame. Everyone was doing it. You would allow this app to access your past status updates and then it would generate hypothetical new statuses considered typical of something that you might actually post. When I did it most of them were silly and had me in stitches. There was one, however, that caught my attention as vaguely poetical. It was this: “I don’t know how to miss him. Truer words have never been spoken.”

This Facebook app was taking my past words, recombining them and adding a touch of angst. Being the quote collector that I am, I mentally tucked those almost poetic words away in my mind.

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Truth in Dust

The ancient part of my Bible
holds timely truths.
Its pages are an archaeological dig,
the truth valuable pottery waiting to be retrieved from the dust.

Precious, yet easily missed.

The ancient part of my Bible
tells me to love the foreigner
and to fear the Lord.

The present part of my life
sees Christians exchange those two verbs.

It sees them
love the Lord
and fear the foreigner.

We leave the ancient truth undiscovered
because it's a delicate thing that must be handled gently
and we'd rather not be bothered.
We leave it in the dust,
its worth unknown to us.

Dust off the truth,
let it see daylight,
and discover the value of entering into discomfort.

Love the foreigner.

“So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him.” Deuteronomy 10:19-20

Here is the World

One hot summer day in 2013 after my freshman year of college, I hopped in our family’s 1990 Honda Civic and headed into Ann Arbor to interview for a position as a cashier at a pool. To get there most efficiently, I had to get on the highway for a grand total of one exit. The air conditioning in the car was broken, so even though I wanted my hair to look relatively nice for the interview, I also did not want to show up a sweaty mess, so I hand-cranked the windows down. At one point while on the highway, I moved from the slow lane to the fast lane. Somehow, when I switched lanes, I failed to see a motorcyclist that was fairly close behind me. He wasn’t in my blind spot so I didn’t hit him, but he felt that my lane change was a bit too close for comfort. He honked and I could see from his gestures that he was not happy with me.

I took my exit and got into the right-hand turning lane. In my rearview I could see that the angry man on the motorcycle had followed me. He got in the left-hand turning lane and pulled up next to me. Remember that the hand-crank windows were still down. He took full advantage of that fact and started spewing verbal hate through my window. “You almost f—ing killed me, you f—ing c—t. You’re such a b—. Someone should rape you.” It was venomous and it was evil. Pure and simple. As he yelled, I frantically tried to roll up the windows and prayed for the light to turn green so we could go our separate ways. Eventually the light changed and I tried to focus on finding the pool where I was supposed to be interviewing in fifteen minutes.

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Dear Leslie…

Dear Leslie Odom Jr.,

I attended your concert in Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 2nd.  It was my birthday–I turned a shocking twenty-four years of age.  Going to your concert was the best birthday present I ever bought for myself.  Prior to the concert, my parents and best friend and I prayed for you while we were at dinner.  We prayed that your voice would hold up for the night and that you would be blessed in return for the gift of music that you were going to give us.  After praying for you, I speculated on what kind of music we were going to hear from you. I knew your jazz album was released several years ago, so it wasn’t likely for you to focus solely on songs from that album.  The set list was up in the air, but that was no matter–I would listen to you sing anything, whether it’s my grocery list or the Nationwide jingle.

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