changing my thinking

I have professed for all the years I have been a nurse : “I get to take care of my patients” and that my “patients and their families cross my path for a reason and I am to learn something that will help me be a better nurse.”
My life path has led me through what I consider really deep and dark places the last 5 years. I have been my worst critic and have let the negative thoughts about myself rise above the truth. I have not felt good enough nor have I lived confidently. My exterior is tough. I am Ann BS – or Ann full of bull sh*t. I have tried to pass myself off as a person who knows everything but I don’t. I am a vulnerable person. I am teachable. I do not feel like I have to defend myself to everyone now. I am learning to be quick to listen & slow to speak.” Many of you should be telling me to shut up. I believe God made me for His purpose and plan. At my very deepest core there is the pulse of Creator God.

Tuesday and Wednesday this week I was struggling with questions and feeling bah humbug. I wasn’t looking forward to Christmas because I was dwelling on some very sweet memories of what this holiday used to be when I was married; when my children were younger and drawn in fully by the awe of the holiday (Emma still loves Christmas and her motivation and words have brought me to write these thoughts down) and what was is definitely over. Focused on the past and not grateful for what is right in front of me.

Being close to the end of the year many people are opting for elective surgeries and my work is very busy. Wednesday I was the preop nurse to several patients who were having surgery but were scared to the point of tears. When I asked what they were afraid of, both shared they were afraid of the pain after surgery. I asked why they were having surgery and the answer is they couldn’t tolerate the bone on bone pain any longer, not being able to things like walk with their family and do simple things like take out the trash bathe without assistance, shop at the mall and grocery store etc. The similarity of the 2 patients seemed parallel to my life – only I am not having a surgery. We all have pain in our lives – patients have physical pain that affects ability to move, think and live to the fullest. My pain/fear of my future as a single person has me looking backward and focused on what will never be again. Looking backward paralyzes you and prevents you from being grateful for where you are and what you have. I love the fairy tale ending and want that for myself.

The end of the workday took me to recovery area. I got to be the recovery nurse of a total care patient younger than myself. Total care means the patient relies on others for care in all aspects of their daily life and may have multiple lines and bags from their body that feed and carry waste.
I received this patient one hour before my scheduled time off and I had plans and wanted to get off on time. I am ashamed to say I was cussing in my thoughts because this patient would require extensive charting and time…which I didn’t want to provide at the time.
I took a deep breath and turned to the patient. It took me a moment to understand what he was saying for disease limited communication. “Thank you for taking care of me!” as a tear rolled down the grateful sweet face. Tears rolled down my face in response. My patient asked me to wipe their tear and I did. Over and over in my mind I told God thank you – thank you for this patient. Thank you for this lesson. Thank you that you have kept me in a place of health where I am able to care for myself – I can move my legs and walk. I can scratch my head if it itches. I can wipe the tears from my own face.
God gave me an appointment with this patient. Sometimes we get focused on what we want and miss opportunities. I was reminded how blessed I am. The pain I have been choosing to feel is a choice – a choice to focus on my past and what will never return. I have to see what is in this moment to be grateful for. I can change what my days ahead are to be – like an elective surgery to improve quality of life – I have to embrace the opportunity of a better future and not fear pain that might not ever be there. I have to be like my patients and take the step of faith and trust others.

I find it very difficult to trust others. I don’t like to admit I am not able to do things I once was able to do with ease. I have failed to ask for help. I have been like this patient only  mentally. As I prayed this morning I realized that God is at my bedside as I was for this patient in recovery. He hears my voice and tenderly wipes away my tears. He knows my needs. He knows my pain. I will trust Him.

Mess to Masterpiece

I am a mess. Recently I there have been some challenges that initially reinforced my negative labels – unworthy, unlovable, loser, idiot – I’m sure you get the idea. There are so many this blog would never be completed. I was spiraling down to a low place reinforcing the labels that satan was happy to hear me saying to myself. This scripture kept coming to mind as I read Limitless life and marinated on what Derwin shares about his career ending injury and how God turned that around for His purpose and plan.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My role at work has changed. I was the primary charge nurse in a very busy recovery room. But no longer. What satan meant for bad has been good for me. My hours are more routine. I actually get to take care of patients – which is the most fulfilling part of my life outside of being a mom to Josh & Emma. I am returning to complete my Bachelors degree in the fall.

The majority of my life the things I say to myself, my self talk, have been mostly negative – labels that I put on myself and reinforce all day long over and over. I beat myself up and wore myself out. I will not repeat them any longer. Anytime I say something to my self I now finish my thought with ‘in Jesus name’. If it is a lie then what I am saying doesn’t make sense…so its a lie satan wants me to repeat to myself over and over to tear down my faith and keep me from believing what God has said about me. This prodigal has returned to her Father and he has embraced me and put his cloak around my shoulders…He has prepared a feast celebrating my return to him. Praise your name Jesus!

In a Valley…persuing Limitless Life

I have been in a valley for a long time. I don’t think there have been any sheep there. I haven’t been able to see beyond myself, my worries, mental and physical pain. I have not been able to see beyond circumstances. I have stressed people who love me and people who don’t. I have not slept well. I have struggled to stay in the life giving Word of God. Paralyzed in my situation, not moving in any direction just panicking like a person in deep water not knowing how to swim I have grabbed for anything around me to prevent me from sinking. But I did sink into anger.

Still able to work with patients, I was not treating my peers well. And then God opened a door for change. That door looked like a bottomless pit at the time. On that Friday, I was called out and made to be accountable for my attitude at work and I had a weekend to think through some options to improve the situation. I was reassured that my care to patients was not in question but I was not being nice to the people I work with and that I appeared to be overwhelmed with stress. I was afraid of losing the only thing that seemed to give me purpose, work. My heart sank to one of the lowest places it could go – afraid, alone, worthless & crazy labels reinforced again. Angry tears flowed and my thoughts ran rampant. There was a George Bailey moment here – my kids, family, friends, work and just the entire world would be a better place if I could just disappear. I sulked and fussed at God till I was empty. And then I sat still and God began to speak. Like waves echoing & rolling up on the beach God reminded me I was not alone. I was made for a purpose. He has a plan and a future for me. He loves me. He loves me. He LOVES me with an everlasting perfect love – not like people on earth but for eternity. So I sat in my valley and let Gods waves of love and truth work.

Here I am several weeks later. That weekend went from yelling at God to seeking Him.God is faithful. He does not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear…He provides a way of escape! My role at work has changed. I get to have routine hours four days a week. I am grateful for less responsibility. I am going back to school in the fall to finish my Bachelors. I have wise counsel and I know God loves me. I know He has labeled me Courageous and Free and life in Him is Limitless!

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Friends have a purpose if only for a season

Before I left work yesterday I heard that a friend had won her long battle with breast cancer – she got promoted to heaven. When I got home my electricity was out. It was dark in the house and a little stuffy . I found a flashlight that had a very dim light. I checked my breakers and got on the computer (it had a fully charged battery) to see if there were outages and there was. So I sat in the darkness thinking about my friend and how our lives had been woven together for a season. At the age of 12 I joined a group for young girls called Rainbow girls and had a connection to many ladies who are no longer part of my daily walk but remain part of the very structure of my character and soul. Several in that group were Facebook chatting and my phone was depleted to 10%. I wanted to be part of the chat but every use of the phone sent it down a !%. The dark and the silence were too much. I didn’t want to be alone so I went and checked on some neighbors and then drove around in my car to charge my phone enough in case I might need to call 911 or something and to buy some batteries for the flashlights and some candles. Was out about 2 hours and returned to the dark silence and tried to sleep. My memories of Brenda danced through my mind reminding me of a time where I learned how to be a friend, how and why to keep one’s trust by not sharing their secrets, but mostly how to love and live with other people outside my family. People have seasons in your life. As much as I would have liked to visit Brenda one more time to tell her I love her and thank you for being a friend to me when I needed her that wasn’t to be. I am grateful she was loved by so many and leaves a legacy that will continue for generations. So to the friends of my youth and my teens and all phases of my life till this moment – thank you for helping me find my way to who God made me to be. I am grateful!

What is a heartfelt prayer?

Spring is showing up all around me. There are iris blooming on the west side of my house. Roses are fragrant in my back yard. I have the windows open and a sweet gentle breeze is ebbing in and out like waters rippling at the beach.

Within me God is at work unraveling me and reworking my thoughts. I am doing an online Bible study on ‘Living So That’ by Wendy Blight with Proverbs 31 ministries . I was asked yesterday by a very wise woman – my small group study leader Fancy Nancy – what a heartfelt prayer was to me. I ignored the question. I have known Jesus since I was 17 – I know what prayer is. My day had been long. It was a good day but I was tired my eyes were heavy and was certain I would sleep the moment my head hit the pillow. The question kept coming in my thoughts. I confess I don’t sleep most nights more than 4-5 hours. When I was younger my brain was just full of wonder, hopes and dreams. Now my brain sorts to do lists and rethinks conversations and responses – basically I worry and stress at not being good enough. But it is spring outside and God wants to bring spring to my spirit SO THAT I will be complete and live what and who he has made me to be. So the question my leader asked tossed and turned in my head like my body in bed. What is heartfelt prayer? Have I really experienced such a thing? What is prayer? Is prayer for others? Is prayer for me? So my thoughts kept me awake and finally I crawled out of bed and got out my Bible. I did the ‘flip and read’ and I turned to Luke 22 because I had a bulletin from Easter marking this passage and read- Jesus was betrayed by Judas and goes to pray on the Mount of Olives taking his disciples with him. He tells them to pray they don’t fall into temptation. Jesus then moved away from the disciples and kneels down to pray. As a believer I know Christ is my example so I got on my knees to pray. I read further and see Jesus asked God to take ‘this cup’ from him if it is his will. This is a heartfelt prayer exampled by my Jesus….

Like so many believers today I pray for others. I have my prayer lists. Somehow God got through all my rational thoughts and I had an aha moment. A definition of prayer from the heart…I must focus all of me on talking and listening to God – I must tell God any & everything whether I am happy, sad, hurt, jealous or any other emotion. I am safe in my prayer from the heart. Every thought I have should be a conversation with God and I must keep my mind open to hear so I can move forward in faith and fulfill my purpose and calling.

Yes there was heartfelt prayer. God untangled a little more of the mess inside me. Heartfelt prayer is sharing all of me – good, bad and ugly – then trusting and letting God direct my response to you.

Talking too much

ImageGrowing up I remember my mother always had something to say and it just made sense. Now I am the mother and you would think that I have sensible musings but they are lacking and seldom make sense. I find my sentences and thoughts disconnected and incomplete. I often wonder why I said something because it failed to be relevant to a topic being discussed. I sense time is changing my thinking and sometimes I talk just to hear myself. Kind of vain isn’t it?