Tuesday, January 27, 2009

His eye is on the orphan

I don't have much time this afternoon to wax about the doctrine of adoption, but if you have time, check out amanibabycottage.org and your heart will be blessed! Amani Baby Cottage is a home that takes in abandoned and orphaned babies and toddlers in Uganda.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Matt's starting to come down with another cold this week, so to prevent it from actually becoming a bad one again, he's working from home. It's so fortunate that he has this option for times like this! Those first few days coming down with something are the most contagious, so it's best to stop things from spreading sooner rather than later!

Matt being home means that I'm too tempted to talk to him, so I'm hanging out at JP's for a while to catch up on my Bible time and journaling and sorting out my thoughts for the week.

I need to request prayer for a few things: first, I'm feeling a bit drained because I worked about 46 hours in the past three days. I know there are people who work this way all the time, and I can only imagine what it's like to juggle that and a family and any semblance of rest. But ugh. I don't know what they laced the funnel cakes with at Tulip time last May, but evidently it made everyone want to have a baby...at 34-36 weeks. Our Special Care Nursery is nearly filled to capacity, there isn't enough space for the laboring patients who keep coming in, and our manager was still there at 8:30 last night trying to figure out if she needs to close the unit. But Zeeland's full too...so where would they go?? And onward they come, and my phone starts ringing at 6am with distress calls for help.

So anyway, my drained-ish state (or feeling off-kilter because today, instead of frenetic activity, I don't have a lot going on - and I'm screening my phone calls!), is lending to me feeling reflective/contemplative/emotional.

First: I received my big "Congratulations! You're accepted!" packet from MSU this week. I've already made up my mind, and I knew the acceptance package was coming (from my conversation last month with one of the profs), so it wasn't a surprise, and it felt like another piece of mail. It was kind of an odd feeling, though. The deadline is today to accept my seat or not. I worked so hard on my application to receive this letter. And I find myself this morning checking the "decline" box and stating my reason for it. It's not like this was a decision I took lightly or didn't think about for a very long time. But it was still kind of deflating and I'm struggling with a certain measure of disappointment that I can't put my finger on. Maybe it's not disappointment. Maybe it's my pride; maybe I feel kind of embarrassed that I'm not following through with something I thought I really wanted to do (and, might I add, that I felt I needed to do because I am just "too good" to "just" do what I do now - oh, what an inflated reason for basing my decisions!). Maybe I feel like I'm selling myself short. No matter what, I definitely feel God taking me by the shoulders and guiding me away from it, for whatever reason. And I'd far rather follow His direction - He sure knows my heart better than even I do! I just have to trust that He has something so different in store that would not have been very possible had I chosen to follow through with school. And because of that, I have peace.

I was chewing on this as I drove to JP's this morning, and the song "Hold Me Jesus" came on the radio, and man, that song has ministered to me so many times in my life. And the line that ALWAYS gives me pause, with whatever situation I'm finding myself at that time, is:

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, falling on my knees...

I won't wax too much about it, but simply put: God's plans are better than mine. It has never, ever, EVER been of any benefit in my life to try to kick in doors that He is lovingly trying to shut. Period. And then the door that he opens for me is always, ALWAYS a better one.

Second: I am burdened with concern about a friend and our relationship. It may or may not be a burden that is mine to bear. I'm not sure; my friend has not communicated it to me. It eats at me and I'm not entirely certain what to do.

Third: As you know, Matt and I feel, without a doubt, that our hearts are being prepared to receive the gift of a child through adoption. Whether that will happen before or after we have our "own" children, we do not know. We're still in the information-gathering stage and are choosing which agency we'd like to work with...or better put, which agency God is guiding us to that will bring us and our child together. At first we wanted to explore a domestic adoption, but we've realized there are plenty of waiting FAMILIES in the United States, whereas there are waiting CHILDREN in the rest of the world. We desire a younger child, either a toddler or younger. More and more we are drawn to either China or Ethiopia - but the waiting period for a "referral" from China is becoming several YEARS, whereas referrals from Ethiopia usually come within months. The children from both countries are treated well, are healthy, and come from well-run orphanages. Primarily (in Ethiopia, at least) they are in the orphanages due to death of both parents, or abandonment due to extreme poverty.

Exciting as it is, adoption is expensive. And we know God will provide if that's what He intends for us. But still...it's scary. It's not like $20K is pocket change that we have rattling around. I guess I've never had to trust God with something so seemingly huge. It's such uncharted territory! There are questions that we don't even realize we need to ask. So if you will remember us in prayer as we approach this process over the next year or so, that would be so appreciated.

Anyway, I've contemplated and rambled well enough!! To those who read this blog on a regular basis, I really appreciate it. Life is just better when it's shared.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Title 9 Girl

Jenny AKA "Mrs. G."
Occupation: Neonatal nurse
Currently reading: Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
Little known fact: Can eat alarming amounts of popcorn

There's this company that sells women's sports apparel called Title 9. The models in their catalogues are regular, fun, adventurous women, and they include a little bio by their pictures saying what they do for a living, favorite book or food, a quote, etc. My friend Renee and I have always dreamed of being Title 9 models...and more than once we've thought about what our little bios would say. So on the rare occasions that we've actually been able to go to a T9 store (I had the dangerous privilege of living near a T9 both in California and Colorado), we've hoped to be "discovered." Well, Title 9 hasn't recognized how great we are yet.

I felt very T9 today because I went skiing at the beach. (That definitely seems like something a good T9 model would do.) I've never skied at the beach, and it was a very pleasant experience. The sun made a serendipitous appearance today and the temp climbed to an absolutely balmy 24 degrees. A bead of sweat broke out on my brow. There were actually quite a few people there (I was at the State Park this time), but none of them were photographers looking for a fun, adventurous girl to put in a hip and sporty magazine. Rats.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I left work at 9:45 last night - nearly fifteen hours after I had punched in. Last week we were totally dead - it seemed NO ONE was having a baby. The charge nurses were practically doing tribal dances to drum up business.

And as per usual, the floodgates opened and now the whole HOSPITAL is filled to capacity, staffing is tight, charge nurses are begging you to work more...life is back to normal. I was pulled from postpartum to the special care nursery early in my shift for the past two days and ran my tail off the whole time.

I've missed the NICU - I miss the challenge, the busy-ness, the tough cases where you're constantly on the move, attending to minute details, calibrating machines, pushing meds, focusing on one very sick little person. We don't get that at Holland - we might get a really sick or tiny baby every once in a while, and they get shipped as soon as they're stable. I've convinced myself I'm really glad to work in different environment and that this is a good thing. I don't WANT those sick babies anymore. I don't WANT to come home an emotional wreck wanting to rip off the face of the next person I see (poor Matt).

We had one urgent c-section after another yesterday afternoon. I was in Special Care, and the nursery nurse was pulling her hair out (the nursery nurse has to "catch" the baby at the c-section and admit it, and is up to her elbows in paperwork because we're the first to lose a clerk when things get busy). There's a reason most people work an 8-hour day. By the time 3pm rolls around, I feel DONE. I'm tired, I want to get off my feet, I'm hungry. But no...there are four more hours to go! Having a lot of stuff come up in those last four hours is just tough. Then you come up close to the change of shift, and if you're flying back and forth between the nursery and the operating room still, those last four hours become four and a half or five. You're waltzing out of work at 8 or 8:30 at night, and still need to eat dinner, take out the dog, throw in a load of laundry, etc. Twelve hour shifts are beautiful and cumbersome all at once.

So we get c-section after c-section after c-section. I'm caring for my skinny preemies in Special Care and playing secretary for the nursery so we can all get out on time. A lady rolls by on a gurney at 6:45 from the ER. Char (nursery nurse) and I look at each other. No. If that's going to be another c-section, hold it off until after the change of shift at the very least. The night shift is starting to wander in, we're so close.

Our pagers all collectively go off. STAT c-section for heart tones that are in in the toilet. Ummmm....Char, you keep admitting that baby, I'll go. That'll give the night shift a chance to change into their scrubs and get clocked in. Linda (my relief), there's my report sheet, I'll be back in a few. Back to the OR. It sounds like a busy cafeteria with the instrument table being quickly opened and arranged. Mom rolls in and she's bawling. No time for a spinal so anesthesia puts her under general. The pediatrician delegates to me and the nurses who have appeared out of nowhere (praise God): he has the airway, I have the heart, Char has the lungs and the monitor, Sarah's recording. Baby's out, no respiratory effort, no color, no heart rate. Six minutes later, we've done CPR and he's intubated and is minimally stabilized. It felt like an hour. Get him into Special Care, call the Big House, get lines in, remember S.T.A.B.L.E.!! Sugar, Temp, Airway, Blood pressure, Labwork, Emotional support. Set up the line tray - did anyone get a sugar yet? Is the transport team on its way? Where's the transport paperwork? Katie, copy mom's chart, call xray. Is that the right dose of heparin for this kid? Check it in Neofax. Ummmm....do we have a line yet? Get a blood pressure - do we even KNOW this baby's weight? Go talk to the mom because no one else has time (like I do). Back to the nursery. His blood gas is awful, sugars are high so he's stressed, and crud, he has a collapsed lung. Umbilical line placement was unsuccessful and his vasculature is too collapsed to draw labs or place an IV. The team from the Big House is here and taking over, praise the Lord. Hugs to the transport nurse - I used to work with her.

Debrief, fill out the resuscitation record, change my clothes and leave. My car's covered with snow and I have a parking ticket. Fabulous. My husband made me dinner, I crawl into bed, get up and start washing dishes - because at least THAT brings some semblance of order that was missing last night and it's something I can fix. Sit in the bathroom and cry and remember God has a purpose for this kid's life too. And this was nothing - NOTHING - compared with the disasters we had in the NICU.

I'm so glad I don't work in the NICU.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just another day at the beach

It was in the 20's, it was snowing like crazy...is there ever a better day to go to the beach? We've been wanting to make a point to get out the lake and see the icebergs this winter, so we trekked out past the old-school beach cottages that were all boarded up for the winter to see Big Red in the snow. It's SO COOL! The ducks and swans are all still floating there on the ice, and actually it looked like there were quite a few people walking around at the State Park across the channel. It's a bit precarious, knowing that only a few feet below you is the lake! (Don't worry, that ice crust is THICK and we're very close to where the shore would be anyway!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No more sitting and waiting...

There is this "Far Side" cartoon that makes me roll, because it is SO STUPID, and if you understand how stupid it is it really makes you laugh. It shows a picture of this guy sitting at a desk in an office with a big picture window behind him. In the background, in another building across the way, is the face of a duck in a window. The caption reads, "(something-or-other)phobia: The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you." HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

So one morning I'm cleaning the kitchen after Matt left for work, and I'm suddenly struck with the distinct impression I'm being watched very intently. I ignored it for a few minutes, and then looked in the living room, and there's Molly, sitting at full attention with her ball next to her, waiting for me to do something terribly exciting. So that's when I took this picture.

I've been struggling lately with the sin of discontentment. I've been a lot like Molly, sitting and just wishing that something exciting will happen. I was cleaning out the basement a few weeks ago and came across an album of pictures from when I was living in northern Arizona...and MAN, are those sweet pictures. Pictures of places that you only see in professional photographs in art galleries, and there I am, sitting in them, grinning away. I started getting really envious of the life I used to be able to lead - throw everything in storage and head for parts unknown. And my inner two-year-old starting whining. I'm bored. It's cold. I'm just another boring married person with a mortgage and a deep freezer. Ugh. Now my greatest adventure is a trip across town to Repcolite to pick out paint chips. Maybe an omelet at the Windmill with Matt on a Saturday morning followed by a game of Scrabble. SCRABBLE! Oh my word.

Discontentment is sin. It leaves me shaking my fist at God and essentially saying, "You totally blew it when you put me here/gave me this job/whatever." It leaves me feeling jealous of people who live in more exciting places. It strips me of the ability to notice that, holy cow, maybe the place I am IS the most amazing place ever if I just exercise some creativity. It makes me lust and covet for things I don't or can't have, and I wind up totally ungrateful. Matt would probably say, "So how's that working out for ya?"

I have been treasuring this sin in my heart and it is wrong. And it's left me sitting in neutral, wishing for something grand to happen. *I know that some of you are thinking, "Well something grand COULD happen...you could have a baby..." Be patient!! :D* I mentioned in my last post that I have been neglectful of some awesome friendships God has put in my life. I have my Big Three - three girlfriends who I have tended to let slip through the cracks, and they are going to be part of my Great Adventure this year. I wrote to Renee - my terribly adventurous, cool travel buddy with whom I have mountain biked through Sedona, AZ, hiked in the state of Washington, and galavanted around Vancouver, British Columbia - and declared that we shall go on a long weekend/road trip this summer. She replied, "Great idea! I might be hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro in July, so I'll need some conditioning." (Contentment, Jenny, contentment. I love staying in Michigan I love staying in Michigan I'm not jealous I love staying in Michigan...) My friend Mary and I decided to start up a little Bible study together since we can't attend the Wednesday morning one at church, and I invited Kristin to be a part of it with us so she can get some badly-needed fellowship too. We're going to study Carolyn Mahaney's "Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother." And with my dear friend Becky I plan to be intentional about seeing regularly rather than once every six months.

So no more sitting and waiting. This year I hope to reap the fruit of being intentional about growing in relationships...and maybe getting in a fun road trip or two so I can add some more fun pictures to my collection.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

My computer's been kind of fritzin' lately so I had a freak-attack about losing my pictures (Matt saved the day, though!), and haven't been able to post. But I think things are fixed for the time being.

Happy New Year! I originally didn't have any resolutions, but I think it's just human nature to want to at least try to turn a couple of ships when the sun comes up or the calendar turns. If God's mercies are new every morning, how much greater is this promise at the beginning of a new year?? This year I want to strive to be more disciplined in as many areas of my life as possible (growing in my relationship with Christ, how I spend my time, with finances, whatever requires discipline). I'm reading John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life" and it's kicking me in the butt! A biggie on the top of my list of resolutions is to be more intentional about spending time with my friends. My friends are so gracious; I'm not the best at keeping in touch with people. Of course, we spend a lot of time with our friends...but there are those girls who have been by my side through the past 10+ years, and THEY are the ones who slide to the back seat when life gets busy. No more, man.

We were supposed to spend New Year's with my friend Carolyn and her husband Ryan, but she got the creeping crud. So we spent the evening with some friends from church, where we ate chocolate fondue and played games. Anyone who knows me and Matt knows that seeing us up past 9:30 or 10:00 is a rarity, but Darren & Susanne and Steve and Lindsey are among the few!

Matt is working today and I'm working on some of those little painting projects that you put off and put off and put off. The sun is making a rare appearance, so overall, it's a good day.