Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hospital Chaplain: My first Infant Death

On Friday evening I sat in the floor holding a young mother as her 2month old passed away. It was my first infant death as a hospital chaplain. I sat in the floor with the mother clinging tightly to me, and  rocked back and forth with her. As we rocked I whispered in her ear the only prayer I could muster up in that dark moment. "Lord. Lord. Please Lord. Help. Lord. Lord. Please Lord Help."  We said this over and over again between tears.

It is Sunday afternoon and I still haven't processed all of the emotions. Mainly because I haven't had the time. There were other trauma's that night and other families that needed my shoulder to cry on and my prayers for strength. I didn't get to bed until after 4am. All of Saturday was devoted to getting caught up on sleep.

Today at church the song Blessed Be the Name of the Lord by Matt Redman was sung. The lyrics really touched me today.

 Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

As a hospital chaplain I feel that I have been called by God to walk along side people in their darkest hours. It doesn't get much darker than losing a baby.

When the doctor informed the mother of the death and the mother collapsed into my arms, honostly questioned why MY GOD, creator and sustainer of all, would allow such a thing to happen to such an innocent little life. In that moment I had to make a conscious effort to fall back on my faith.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

As the family gathered around the tiny lifeless body of their 2 month old baby, I offered a prayer. It was the hardest prayer I have had to pray thus far. Through gritted teeth I thanked God for her precious little life and asked God to surround the family in their time of sorrow.  After the prayer I made the sign of the cross on her itty bitty forehead and said "May you rest in the arms of Christ." The mother refused to leave the hospital until I whispered in her ear that I would take care of her baby. 

To honor my word to the mother, I went back into the trauma room and helped the nurse tuck the precious little baby into the body bag. As I tucked the blankets around the lifeless body of another woman's child, I felt honored to be the hands of Christ.

As I left the hospital early that next morning I couldn't help but have a smile on my face as I said "This is what being a Christian is all about."  Believe me when I say that there is no way I would be able to do this kind of work without the power of Christ. I give Him all the credit. I'm just so amazed that He is able to use little ol' me.




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Memories

As a young girl I spent most of my time at my maternal grandparent's house. All my positive memories have the backdrop of the family farm. I still remember the day that PawPaw bought it. It was beyond exciting. For years I had sat in the big tree in MawMaw and PawPaw's front yard overlooking the no longer maintained piece of land. To my little girl self it seemed like a desert, with its rolling hills of dirt. You can imagine my excitement when PawPaw came into the house one evening announcing that the farm had been put up for auction.

I have a vivid memory of tagging along with PawPaw on the day of the auction. He pulled out on the land in his truck, popped open the tail gate for me to sit on, and strategically placed his folding chair that he always carried in the back of his truck with him, right in front of the auctioneer. In his relaxed country PawPaw kind of way, he filled his pipe with Prince Albert tobacco and lit it up. He spent the next how ever long it was, chewing on his pipe and lifting his trucker cap to scratch his head. After a few grunts and head nods the farm was ours.

Being that the 100 acres had sat untouched for God knows how long, the first major task was getting rid of all the groundhogs. Those little critters had taken over. Being the smart old man that he was, Pawpaw opened the farm to anyone interested in making a little extra cash. He offered $50 for every groundhog that was killed and brought to his door step. My uncles wasted no time and immediately got to ground hog hunting.

However, there was one specific groundhog that no one could manage to shoot. He was a sneaky one! Deciding that he would not be outsmarted by a groundhog my Pawpaw called my uncle Travis to bring the backhoe over to dig him out. I, having overheard the conversation, asked to tag along on this crazy little adventure.

I sat in the back of the truck watching pawpaw directing my uncle Travis on the backhoe and my uncle David, who had brought his shot gun over. We had a shooter, a digger, and a director. "Dig right over there Trav. Yep right there. Oh there that damn thing is. Shoot it David., shoot that damn thing. You were too slow, it got away. Dig over there Trav.,right there. I said right there.”

Eventually the ground hog was shot, the hole covered over, and grass planted. It took several years to get the farm up and running. There was a barn to rebuild, brush to clear out, a fence to be put up, and livestock to be bought. I watched it all from the tail gate of PawPaw's truck. On cool fall evenings when I sit on my front porch I am reminded of the man who's blood runs through my veins. He was the first person that I felt truly believed in me and was proud of me, no matter what I did or did not do. What would he think of me now? His first grand-baby is 30 years old, sitting on her front porch, in her bare feet, typing out a story of him, while her barefooted 6 year old daughter eats an apple beside her. Knowing my Pawpaw,I am sure he would be proud. Yes, there once lived a man that made me feel as if I hung the moon.

I have a small paper due tomorrow and it took all the will power in me to start typing on it. I really hate doing ANYTHING school related on a Sunday afternoon.  But alas, yesterday was spent celebrating the birth of our son Paul, so naturally, I put the paper off.

So there I was (like every good story starts) sitting on the couch typing away when I heard a horrid scream coming from Anna. The poor child had put her hand in a bowl of scalding hot soup. How? well, Roger and I are exhausted and didn't feel like doing the whole dinner round up so I made a big pot of vegetable soup and we are feeding the kids as they ask. He had just filled a bowl of hot soup up for Anna and somehow she managed to fall over, putting her hand in the bowl.  SCREAM.

Welp.  There goes the paper writing. I have a poor little girl with a burnt hand.

Roger is currently running to the store to get little kid pain meds. (we had run out apparently.  wonderful timing. I know, we ROCK!) Anna has finally calmed down from screaming bloody murder and I am laughing at the fact that while she was screaming I, feeling helpless, totally asked "would you like for me to pray?"  I blame the chaplain internship. She simply looked at me puzzled and started screaming EVEN LOUDER.

Oh Sunday afternoon. The afternoon in every week that I feel as if I have been hit in the face with a 2x4.

This journey of life that we are on is so strange, but I am beyond thankful that I have someone like Mr Roger Jasper to journey along with me.   

Alrighty then, I guess I best get back to typing out that paper..... and doing the laundry..... and tending to the kids.   Oh Christ have mercy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Friends that stick with you through thick and thin are rare, but I am blessed to have a few.

late evening walk through the neighborhood

while walking we saw that some neighbors left out trash that WE could make our treasure
Thank you Mary for being the crazy spontaneous, non stop talking, dumpster diving queen that you are. I love you to death.  And thank you for loving Paul and Anna like they are your own.  

May we still act like little kids even at the ripe old age of 90.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Crazy Backyard Neighbor. Do YOU have one?

As a little girl I would daydream about building a house on the family farm. I had a spot all picked out. It was near the back fence-row on the main field, right under the massive tree and beside the trail that leads to the top of the property. I would drive the little stick shift Toyota out to that spot and pretend I was pulling into my drive.

I was never much for inside play, so I mostly daydreamed about the yard that I would have, the wrap around porch, the goats, the children, and yes, the clothes line. I blame my grandmother for that last one. I always loved watching her hang her clothes on the clothes line. I told myself that I would one day have one JUST LIKE HER.

Well, as you already know, I don't live on the family farm, or have a goat, or even a clothes line. I live 2 hrs away from the farm, in another city, right smack dab in the middle of downtown. But you know what? I love it! We have just enough house, and just enough land. We have 2 wonderfully crazy children and beautiful plans. We even have some pretty cool neighbors with wonderfully crazy children and beautiful plans!

However, we do have this one neighbor. Does everyone have that ONE neighbor? You know. The ONE neighbor that is, as 20/20 says, the neighbor from HELL.  Don't answer that. I know you probably don't so don't say that you don't and make me feel even more awful than I already feel. OK!

Anyway, to not go into too much detail, this neighbor's fence backs up to our property and he enjoys climbing over the fence to yell at us about any and everything. Yes, you read that correct. The man puts a ladder on his side of the fence, then a ladder on our side of the fence, and climbs over the fence to stand in our faces to YELL at us.  You see, the way the town in laid out, there are alley ways that run behind the houses. It was an alley that was used a LONG LONG LONG time ago. Now it is just grass and LOOKS just like it is our yard, especially with his fence up. So even though it looks like he has climbed the fence and is standing in our yard, he is actually standing on city property. Out yard starts 10 feet from his fence.

The problem? The man is OCD. And I do mean that FOR REAL. He has some mental health issues, I just know it. Yes, this is the man that climbed over the fence and cut down the 2 evergreens that were "in city property" and started yelling at us when we said "well, then let the city cut them down."  Have you all watched the Crazy Ruhbarb lady video?  Here it is if you haven't.

The man yells at us like this. But we don;t provoke him like these people do. Roger and I flip into our pastor/chaplain mode and start counseling the guy, trying to get him to calm down.

But last night got WAY OUT OF HAND. The man would NOT calm down and at one point said, "you know what I ought to do? I ought to go in my house and get my gun." That is when I picked up the phone and called for back up. I guess maybe I should have called 911, I don't know, but I called a lawyer friend.I wanted a witness, a legal witness, and I really didn't know what the police would be able to do, the man was standing on "city property".

Today Roger and I are going fence shopping. We sat up last night looking at options and prices, and the deed to our property. I want a fence. The man is crazy. CRAZY. He sits outside looking through the fence, listening to the kids and I, watching us. And when he finds something to get pissed about, like me having trimmed a tree and left the tree trimmings on the "city property" because I had to leave to take my child to gymnastics, and had planned on getting to the limbs later in the week, he will climb over the fence and threaten violence on my family while throwing limbs at us. 

So yes, I am done.  And yes, we will take out a loan to get a fence.  And yes, the next time this happens Roger and I have already promised each other that we will walk in the house and call the police. No more trying to talk to the man. He clearly IS insane, needs mental health help, and is a danger to us. 

It is just so sad that this is happening.  Last night I had a crying fit until about 1am. "Why me God? Why us?" YEs, I had one of those kinds of fits. Yes, pastors and their spouses have THOSE kinds of fits too.  I've just been through a LOT emotionally these past 2 years. I really still haven't gotten over the family tragedy and the after affects of it that are rippling through so many, I'm getting ready to start an emotionally rough internship, and the kids are, well, kids, and emotionally and physically exhausting.

As I was sitting on the front porch typing this blog, one of our neighbors walked by. An elderly couple out for a morning stroll. The old man yelled out "well there's our friend, still sitting on the front porch! The only thing that would make that better is if you had a Highball to drink. But I guess it's too early for that. Maybe a martini or a rum and coke!"    You see, that is what I LOVE about living downtown. I love people, and I love the random encounters that you have when you live downtown and sit on your front porch.   I have to remind myself of that when I have a crazy backyard neighbor who likes to scale the fence, throw Fbombs at us, and threaten to get his gun. 

The good thing is that we do live within walking distance of the police department!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chauvanistic Redneck Men

 I was just thinking the other day how aweful country music has gotten. I mean, I have always had a heart for country music, but lately it is just WAY to rappy and WAY to sexist.  I find myself looking up the oldies like The Judds, George Strait, Randy Travis, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn.  I am madly in love with my Lorette Lynn station on Pandora.com.

Anyway, I have recently fallen in love with Kasey Musgraves and often while cleaning the house blast her Pandora Station.  This afternoon ,while scrubbing the toilet, this song came on by Maddie and Tae. Although I am not that into the music part of the song, the lyrics stopped me in my tracks.  What wonderfully funny lyrics!   Hilarious!

There's nothing that I can't stand more than a chauvinistic redneck man song. 
  
You go girls! 

A Girl in a Country Song

 Well I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet
And it's gettin' kinda cold in these painted on cut off jeans
I hate the way this bikini top chafes
Do I really have to wear it all day? (Yeah baby)

I hear you over there on your tailgate whistlin' [*whistle*]
Sayin', "Hey girl"
But you know I ain't listenin'
Cause I got a name
And to you it ain't "pretty little thing", "honey" or "baby"
Yeah it's drivin' me red-red-red-red-red-red-red neck crazy

[Chorus:]
Bein' the girl in a country song
How in the world did it go so wrong?
Like all we're good for
Is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend
Nothing more
We used to get a little respect
Now we're lucky if we even get
To climb up in your truck, keep my mouth shut and ride along
And be the girl in a country song

Well shakin' my moneymaker ain’t ever made me a dime
And there ain't no sugar for you in this shaker of mine
Tell me one more time, "you gotta get you some of that"
Sure I'll slide on over, but you’re gonna get slapped (Hah!)
These days it ain't easy being that

[Chorus:]
Girl in a country song
How in the world did it go so wrong?
Like all we're good for
Is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend
Nothing more
We used to get a little respect
Now we're lucky if we even get
To climb up in your truck, keep my mouth shut and ride along
And be the girl in a country song (Yeah, yeah baby)

Aww no, Conway and George Strait
Never did it this way
Back in the old days
Aww y'all, we ain't a cliché
That ain't no way
To treat a lady

[Chorus:]
Like a girl in a country song
How in the world did it go so wrong?
Like all we're good for
Is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend
Nothing more
We used to get a little respect
Now we're lucky if we even get
To climb up in your truck, keep my mouth shut and ride along
Down some old dirt road we don't even wanna be on
And be the girl in a country song

("Yeah baby, I ain't your tan legged Juliet. Can I put on some real clothes now?")

Aww, no

Monday, June 30, 2014

The past 3 weeks have been crazy and exciting. That's pretty much how our life goes. Roger and I have been married for 10 years now and each year consists of crazy AND exciting. This year  is no different.

Saturday we got back from a week long conference. We took the kids with us this time (that's a first) because Roger's mother, Scarlette, was being commissioned as a missionary for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We wanted the kids to be part of the celebration. With Roger being in a program called the CBF Fellows, me being a CBF Leadership Scholar, and my mother in law being a new field personal, we were all crazy busy at this General Assembly. The only free time was forced between the hours of midnight and 3am. I am EXHAUSTED and detoxing from life lived out of a suitcase. On a side note, the kids did REALLY well at the conference. Paul and Anna tagged around with us through the meetings and were traded off between family members whenever one of us was free. I am beyond proud of those two!

Before we headed out to General Assembly we celebrated the wedding of a dear friend and while at General Assembly heard news of a terrible car crash that took the life of a friend's 19yr old niece. Just this morning we got word that the brother of the young girl who passed away was in a terrible ATV accident and is in a bad way at the University hospital.

Also, I woke up this morning to a man on our roof. Turns out the roofer decided to come today. So, I guess we are getting a new roof this week. We wrote a check, a BIG check. I thought I was going to pass out.

In all of this my emotions have been all over the place. Such is life. You take the bad with the good and try your best to focus mostly on the good.  At any second things can change drastically. I find comfort in soaking in the simple mundane tasks of life and feeling that sense of thankfulness that I have children to make dinner for, a husband to comfort, friends to pray for, a house to clean, clothes to wash, and a yard to tend to.  If I don't look at life through an eye of gratitude, life becomes too overwhelming.

While at General Assembly I picked up this book:
Laura Barclay is a sweet person that we first ran into at an out of town conference several years ago. When I first met her I was infected by her smile, you can't help but smile when she is in the room with you because she is just so bubbly and kind and funny and wonderfully down to earth. Since then she has become a family friend and I look forward to many dinner dates with her and her husband.  (she has, thank the Lord, moved to the town right beside ours)

This book made it into my hands at just the right time.  In the world wind that we are currently in, it has been a blessing to have this book to escape to the front porch with. Her stories resonate with me, through her words I can hear and see her smile. Every time I pick the book up to read I feel as if I am getting my own personal therapy session with the one and only Laura A. Barclay. "All of us struggle with a desire to belong, and the only thing that can soothe it is to love one another in community. This means not hiding our struggles but sharing the burden so that it is easier to bear." (pg 40)