A Mother of None or Many?

May, 2001

After examining me, my gynecologist gently said, “Pam, I’m afraid you need to have a hysterectomy. I don’t want to let you keep bleeding like this and ending up with an emergency situation.” I choked back the tears and replied, “Is there any way I could be on a different floor so I don’t have to see the new babies?” Dr. Sally said, “No, because the nurses on the other floors aren’t familiar with post operative care of gynecology patients. But I will make sure you have a private room as far away from the nursery as possible so you don’t hear the babies cry. The surgical staff will call you with the date.”

Upon arriving home, the tears flowed as I poured out my heart to God. I know that I am too old to have a baby at the age of 46, nor would I have the energy to run after a toddler, but I grieve for all the children I never had. My pastor has been preaching an excellent series of messages on how to handle trials, so this is my opportunity to learn all I can from this difficult exercise. He said to start by thanking God for the trial. I recited the familiar verse, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:18 God brought another verse to mind. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 

As I continued in prayer, I asked the Lord to teach me all the lessons He could from this trial, to comfort me, and to help me to think rightly from His point of view and not my own. I decided to do a Bible word study of “barren” since that is the word the Bible uses for women who cannot have children. Over the next weeks, whenever I read an encouraging verse, I wrote it in bold black ink (so I could read it through my tears) on an index card. Every morning I read through my growing stack of “comfort verses” and hid them in my heart. The ones that encouraged me the most were Isaiah 54:1 and 5.

Sing, O barren, thou who didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou who didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord….For thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and Thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.”

I noticed the command to the barren was to SING rather than cry, so I started singing whenever I felt like crying. God always lifted the clouds away after I sang to Him. I also noticed that there is no limit to the number of spiritual children I can have. I just finished reading Amy Carmichael’s biography. She started an orphanage in India and became the spiritual mother to 1000 children! I recalled how Gladys Aylward went to China as a single lady and became the mother of many orphans and led them to safety over the mountains during World War 2. Mary Slessor adopted abandoned children in the African jungles. (see post on Mary Slessor )

Surgery

This is my first time to stay overnight in a hospital as a patient. I’m a little apprehensive as I’ve always heard that nurses and doctors make the worst patients. It feels strange to be the one receiving care rather than giving it. I am so thankful that my sister flew in from the Midwest to be with me. She is also a nurse and a Christian. God quieted my heart as we prayed together this morning and asked the Lord to give the doctor wisdom and to give me a good recovery.

I barely remember being rolled on the stretcher from the recovery room to my nice big private room at the end of the hallway far from the nurse’s station. They gave me a clear liquid tray for supper which promptly came back up. Yuck! What a mess… The pain isn’t too bad for which I thank God. My sister was hesitant to leave me because she wasn’t sure I could call for the nurse because I was so groggy.

The night nurse woke me up this morning and said she had to put the catheter back in my bladder since I was unable to urinate. I was under anesthesia the last time they did it. I recalled how many of these I have placed inside my patients over the years.

Tonight I’m feeling better and could eat solid food for supper, but sleep is escaping me. I decided to walk down the hallway and look at the babies in the nursery. As I looked through the window at each baby, I prayed for each one to receive Christ as his Savior and for his parents to look to God for wisdom in raising him. I thank the Lord for each precious new baby.

Reflection

A few months later, I was asked to share all the lessons God taught me through this exercise with ladies’ groups at several different churches. A number of women who were unable to bear children came up to me afterwards and said the lessons I had learned were a blessing and encouragement to them. I also typed in large print all the “Comfort Verses” God gave me at this time. I have handed out hundreds of these to others who are sorrowing and many have said how God used these verses to encourage and comfort them.

Bible Verses the Lord gave me prior to surgery which encouraged my heart.

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/christia/verses.htm   

Above is the link if you would like to print out your own copy. I carry a copy of these verses in my purse so I’m ready for the next time I encounter a difficult situation.

Since my mother died of breast cancer and my sister also had aggressive breast cancer several years ago, I decided to have the doctor remove my ovaries at the same time that she removed my uterus. The genetic counselor told me I had a 50% chance of having breast cancer. Many women who have breast cancer also have ovarian cancer.

About ten years later, I had repeat genetic counseling. They said because I had my ovaries removed, I reduced my chance of breast cancer to 3% and eliminated ever getting ovarian cancer.  Little did I know that I would lower my risk of cancer so much by having my ovaries removed at that time. Truly, God’s ways are higher than my ways. My sister, Marsha Swinehart, later developed ovarian cancer and the Lord took her home to be with Him nearly two years ago. I miss her so much, but am thankful she is no longer suffering and experiencing wonderful fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That will be a wonderful day when we are reunited at His throne!

I thank God that He has given me a number of spiritual children over the years, and I pray that He will give me many more before He calls me home to heaven. It is so wonderful that I am never too old to bear spiritual children!

 

School of Nursing Begins!

Autumn, 1974- College Sophomore

At last! I finally began studying in the School of Nursing with my 200 classmates. The lecture hall is huge where we had our nursing theory class (5 hours) and Growth & Development class (3 hours). My most difficult class by far was Physiology (5 hours). They split our class in half so one half started with 2 quarters of physiology and the other half started with 1 quarter of Anatomy. I wish I could have started with Anatomy. It’s difficult to figure out how our bodies work if I don’t even know where the body part is located that we are studying. I also continued with my violin lessons (1 hour) and started group Piano lessons (1 hour) for my electives. We went to the Nursing Laboratory and started learning our skills such as how to take blood pressures, temperature, pulse, respirations, give bed baths, and make beds. Then we went to a nursing home for our clinical time and took care of our assigned two patients. It was like when I was a nursing assistant last summer, except it was daylight and the patients were awake.

School of Nursing!

School of Nursing!

This is a huge football school. In fact they are ranked number 1 in the country! But since I don’t understand the game of football, I didn’t go to any games. Instead I went to the Health Sciences Library and read all my required readings that were on reserve. It’s difficult to access the articles in the evening when all the other students are reading them, because they only have a few copies on reserve. This new library is right beside the University Hospital so all the medical disciplines use it. It is supposed to be one of the best Health libraries in the country. Because the books are so expensive, all the book shelves are behind glass. When I check out a book, I give them my student identification card, the employee enters the request in the computer, and then I wait while the huge mechanical arm gets it from the shelf and puts it on the conveyor belt. It’s really amazing to watch! I like visiting all the different libraries on campus to study. I think they have at least 10 different libraries which I have discovered so far.

Campus Aerial View: 1-School of Nursing, 2-Hospital, 3-Sophomore Dorm, 4-Bible Class, 5-Lake, 6-Main Library, 7-Freshman Dorm

Campus Aerial View: 1-School of Nursing, 2-Hospital, 3-Sophomore Dorm, 4-Bible Class, 5-Lake, 6-Main Library, 7-Freshman Dorm

It was a real blessing to continue to teach the women’s Bible class weekly in my dorm. This quarter we averaged 5 women attending who seemed so eager to hear God’s Word! The Lord also blessed me with a godly roommate who also attends the Bible class. We had such precious times of fellowship and prayer together. We also enjoyed sharing the gospel door to door with the other women in our dorm. Because my classes require so much more studying time than last year, I quit my job at the library and stopped teaching the children’s Bible clubs.

I have continued with the home Bible study program and was so encouraged when I read the biography of Amy Carmichael, a missionary lady to India. She rescued orphans from the Hindu temples and started a large orphanage for them where she and her coworkers taught them the Word of God as they raised and educated them. I also read a biography about Isobel Kuhn, missionary with China Inland Mission to the Lisu people in western China. What godly examples both these ladies are to me! Isobel Kuhn taught a women’s Bible class in Canada before she went to China and challenged them with Hebrews 6:1 “…let us go on unto perfection (maturity)” which I passed on to my women’s class.

Reflection

About 10 years after I graduated, a friend kindly taught me how to understand and enjoy watching football so I am an avid fan of my Alma mater now! I regret all those games I missed while studying in the library which I could have attended as a student for a few dollars. During my college years, they won the national championship and their star player received the Heisman trophy (the highest award in college football in the USA)

My brother and brother-in-law are also alumni, so about 15 years ago, we and their spouses attended a game with 100,000 other fans on a gorgeous autumn day and had excellent seats. Our team won, so it was worth it to fly there for the game. I thank the Lord for the times He also gives us to laugh and relax!

Here in Central America where I currently live, I was even able to watch my team on the computer through digital TV. How things have changed since 1974! I have also learned that their term for “futbol” actually means soccer which is the preferred sport here.

Image result for Central America boys playing soccer images

“Futbol” in Central America is the term for soccer.

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh.” Ecclesiastes 3:4

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

April, 1993

For some reason, I have been sick often this past winter with four colds, gastrointestinal virus, and bronchitis. I was only able to go skiing once in Vermont even though we had tons of snow. Things are going fairly well as a visiting nurse, although I have been assigned to three different districts, and had my office desk relocated five times in eight months. Finally, I’m the solo nurse in a beautiful rural area. I had to switch supervisors, which has been difficult because the two I have now complain constantly, but I’m trying to adjust.

I decided to take a music theory course at the local community college with three others from the church choir. I had fun writing four part harmony to a favorite poem called God of the Heights by Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, 1867-1951. Amy was an amazing single lady who the Lord used to rescue child prostitutes from the Hindu temples and start an orphanage for the rescued children. Even though she was disabled the last 20 years of her life, she wrote many books from her sick bed while in almost constant pain.

God of the heights, austere, inspiring, Thy Word hath come to me. Oh, let no selfish aims conspiring, Distract my soul from Thee. Loosen me from things of time; Strengthen me for steadfast climb.

The temporal would bind my spirit, Father be Thou my stay. Show me what flesh cannot inherit, Stored for another day, Be transparent things of time, Looking through you I would climb.

Now by Thy grace my spirit chooseth, Treasure that shall abide, The great Unseen I know endureth, My footsteps shall not slide, Not for me the things of time, God of mountains, I will climb!

May, 1994

During my annual evaluation with the director of the visiting nurses, she asked what career goal I had for the next year? I replied that I was considering getting a Master’s degree, but wasn’t sure what I should I get it in. I asked if she had any suggestions? She said, “I think you would make a wonderful Nurse Practitioner (NP).”  I never heard of a Nurse Practitioner, so I asked her to describe the role to me. She said a NP receives advanced training through a Master’s degree program and is taught how to diagnose and treat common conditions, much like a Family Practice physician does. NPs can also specialize in pediatrics, adults, geriatrics, critical care, psychiatry, gynecology, etc. She told me of several excellent NP programs in my state to investigate.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

July, 1994

After much prayer, I have decided to go to graduate school for my Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) as an Adult Nurse Practitioner if I get accepted. I have spoken with several NPs who are currently employed and it sounds like a great career! My salary would also increase, so hopefully I won’t need to work two jobs to make ends meet. Many of them have private practices or work in MD offices. I can’t believe how motivated I feel about it!

I applied to the State University last week and received permission to take a 3 hour evening class in Nursing Issues this fall. I won’t learn if I am accepted into the program until April, 1995, but they will allow me to take 6 hours of credits prior to matriculating. The Visiting Nurse Association where I currently work will reimburse me the tuition up to two classes a semester as long as I get an A or B grade in the course. It will probably take me 4-5 years doing it this way part time while working full time during the day, so I’m trusting the Lord to give me strength.

For my spring semester course, I might be able to go to the Dominican Republic for two weeks in January and study trans-cultural nursing. The only holdup is that I am short three days of vacation time between Christmas and New Year’s. It is so good to leave it with the Lord and see if He opens the door or not.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Reflection

And so I began to work on my MSN at the age of 39 after being out of school for 19 years! I was thankful there were others in my class who were older than me along with a few younger ones. It was a long hard pull over the next four years, and I nearly dropped out which I will tell more about in future posts. I am thankful I became a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) rather than an Adult NP as I originally planned. I was much more marketable as a FNP than ANP when I graduated since I could provide care for all ages of people from birth to death. I worked as a NP for the next 15 years. I recouped the cost of my graduate school education the first year out with my doubled salary, so it was a good decision financially also.

Here is an interesting time line about how Nurse Practitioners began in 1965. https://www.aanp.org/about-aanp/historical-timeline The reason I had never heard of NPs was that the physicians in the midwestern state where I received my BSN blocked NP programs  for many years, because they did not want them taking away physician jobs from them. Since then, most physicians specialize  and so they welcome NPs, expecially in the Family Practice role.

Happy New You!

January 1, 2015

I thank God that He made me a new creation when I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in 1971 (See Life Changing Letter).

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

It is exciting to grow to know my dear Savior and best friend every day, and to continually learn about Him through all eternity as He reveals the riches of His grace to me!

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6-7

The moment I received Jesus Christ as my Savior, I was seated positionally with Christ in heaven so now I can look DOWN from my heavenly position in Him. When I’m having a rough day at work and remember this, it helps me step back and get the big picture from God’s viewpoint in heaven. Then my little corner of the world doesn’t seem so big.

The other day, I was reading in Matthew 17:1-8 about the transfiguration of Jesus when they went up into “a high mountain”. This was likely Mount Hermon, which at 9232 feet is the highest mountain in Israel. It was spectacular when I saw it in 2013!

Mt. Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel at 9232 feet

Mt. Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel at 9232 feet

Matthew records that after Christ was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, they saw Him talking with Moses and Elijah. Perhaps Peter, James, and John were able to identify Moses and Elijah because Christ called them by their name.  How amazing that they were all having sweet fellowship even though they lived here on earth in different millennia! When the Father spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him,” (verse 5) the three disciples were terrified and fell on their face! But Jesus tenderly touched them and said, “Arise, and be not afraid.” Then they lifted up their eyes and saw “JESUS ONLY.” Even though we will know other believers in heaven, all the focus will be on Jesus Christ, with no fear and perfect fellowship while we  worship and serve Him for all eternity! How gracious of God to give us this little “peek” into eternity to encourage us in the here and now. My tiny finite mind certainly has trouble comprehending “forever”.

In order to grow in His grace and keep me looking unto Jesus, I wanted to share a few things that God has given me in past years and presently that have helped me. For personal Bible study tools, I have been richly blessed at this web site: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org  They have a wealth of free Bible studies. The 100 page study for New Believers is especially helpful which covers major Bible doctrines. Presently, I’m going through these notes again, but this time in Spanish to try and improve my language skills.

I also discovered Through the Bible (http://www.ttb.org/ ) with Dr. J. Vernon McGee who is now home with the Lord. They recorded all his sermons as he taught verse by verse through the entire Bible. I downloaded the app on my phone and tablet so I can listen to it while I’m driving or doing chores around the house!  These messages have been translated into 100+ languages so they are available worldwide. If you go to the archives, and then daily programs, you can choose to listen to whatever book of the Bible in the order you desire.

I also like http://www.prophecytoday.com/ with Dr. Jimmy DeYoung. During his Saturday 90 minute radio broadcast, he interviews various experts in Israel, Europe, and the USA and examines current world events in light of Bible prophecies. You can listen later to this broadcast at any time that is convenient for you. His daily devotionals, which he will email to you free, are also excellent as he writes about all the Bible prophecies.

A few of my favorite biographies and Bible study tools.

A few of my favorite biographies and Bible study tools.

I’ve also decided to start rereading the classic missionary biographies which were such a blessing to me as a new believer. Even though I’ve read them several times before, I always gain something more from them because I’m at a different stage in life than the last time I read them. I was delighted to find that they are now available on Kindle, and some of them are even free! So here is my list of favorite biographies: Isobel Kuhn-missionary to China, Hudson Taylor- founded the China Inland Mission, J. O. Fraser – missionary to China, Amy Carmichael – founded an orphanage in India, George Mueller – founded orphanages in England, Mary Slessor – missionary to Africa, Gladys Aylward – missionary to China, Zvi – a Polish boy who survived the Holocaust and then emigrated to Israel.

Exercise!

Exercise!

To help my physical body, my sister recently told me about Mary Ann Wilson, RN who has developed an excellent chair exercise program. In some parts of the USA, her TV program is broadcast on PBS which is  called “Sit and Be Fit.” http://www.sitandbefit.org/ I found her on You Tube and felt fabulous after I did some of her exercises! She has a series for office workers that is broken down into 5 minute segments that you can do at your desk. As you have probably discovered if you have a computer/desk job, this position is not kind to your body! She also has special exercise routines for those with arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, prevention of DVT in airplanes, and vestibular exercises to improve balance. As we all age, balance decreases and the risk of dangerous falls increases. So you may want to tell your older patients about this resource and try out the exercises yourself!

Eat Healthy Foods!

Eat Healthy Foods!

I also recently read in the Nutrition Action Health Letter about the healthiest vegetables, fruits, and grains. They gave each a score for their nutrients and fiber content. So here are the top 5 in each category:

Vegetables: Kale (1392), Spinach (968), Collard greens (737), Swiss chard (717), Turnip greens (714)

Fruits: Guava (575), Watermelon (314), Kiwi (201), Papaya (189), Grapefruit (141)

Grains: Quinoa (73), Amaranth (66), Buckwheat (64), Bulgur (60), Barley (59)

So Happy New You! Please feel free to share your favorite Christian biographies with me at pamela.aprn@gmail.com

For my new readers, you may enjoy reading my post last year where I tell about working as a dialysis nurse on a cruise ship over the New Year holiday. Oh, how my stomach rolled! 😦

School of Nursing Begins!

Autumn, 1974- College Sophomore

At last! I finally began studying in the School of Nursing with my 200 classmates. The lecture hall is huge where we had our nursing theory class (5 hours) and Growth & Development class (3 hours). My most difficult class by far was Physiology (5 hours). They split our class in half so one half started with 2 quarters of physiology and the other half started with 1 quarter of Anatomy. I wish I could have started with Anatomy. It’s difficult to figure out how our bodies work if I don’t even know where the body part is located that we are studying. I also continued with my violin lessons (1 hour) and started group Piano lessons (1 hour) for my electives. We went to the Nursing lab and started learning our skills such as how to take blood pressures, temperature, pulse, respirations, give bed baths, and make beds. Then we went to a nursing home for our clinical time and took care of our assigned two patients. It was like when I was a nursing assistant last summer, except it was daylight and the patients were awake!

School of Nursing!

School of Nursing!

This is a big football school. In fact they are ranked number 1 in the country! But since I don’t understand the game of football, I didn’t go to any games. Instead I went to the Health Sciences Library and read all my required readings that were on reserve. It’s difficult to access the articles in the evening when all the other students are reading them, because they only have a couple copies on reserve. This new library is right beside the University Hospital so all the medical disciplines use it. It is supposed to be one of the best Health libraries in the country. Because the books are so expensive, all the stacks are behind glass. When I check out a book, I give them my student ID, the employee enters the request in the computer, and then I wait while the huge mechanical arm gets it from the shelf and puts it on the conveyer belt. It’s really amazing to watch! I like visiting all the different libraries on campus to study. I think they have at least 10 different libraries which I have discovered so far.

Campus Aerial View: 1-School of Nursing, 2-Hospital, 3-Sophomore Dorm, 4-Bible Class, 5-Lake, 6-Main Library, 7-Freshman Dorm

Campus Aerial View: 1-School of Nursing, 2-Hospital, 3-Sophomore Dorm, 4-Bible Class, 5-Lake, 6-Main Library, 7-Freshman Dorm

It was a real blessing to continue to teach the women’s Bible class weekly in my dorm. This quarter we averaged 5 women attending who seemed so eager to hear God’s Word! The Lord also blessed me with a godly roommate who also attends the Bible class. We had such precious times of fellowship and prayer together. We also enjoyed sharing the gospel door to door with the other women in our dorm. Because my classes require so much more studying time than last year, I quit my job at the library and stopped teaching the children’s Bible clubs.

My Roommate in front of our Dormitory

My Roommate in front of our Dormitory

I have continued on with the home Bible study program and was so encouraged when I read the biography of Amy Carmichael, a missionary lady to India. She rescued orphans from the Hindu temples and started a large orphanage for them where she and her coworkers taught them the Word of God as they raised  and educated them. I also read a biography about Isobel Kuhn, missionary with China Inland Mission to the Lisu people in western China. What godly examples both these ladies were to me! Isobel Kuhn taught a women’s Bible class in Canada before she went to China and challenged them with Hebrews 6:1 “…let us go on unto perfection (maturity)” which I passed on to my women’s class!

Reflection – 2014

About 10 years after I graduated, a friend kindly taught me how to understand and enjoy watching football so I am an avid fan of my alma mater now! I regret all those games I missed while studying in the library which I could have attended as a student for a few dollars. During my college years, they won the national championship and their star player received the Heisman trophy.

My brother and brother-in-law are also alumni, so about ten years ago we and their spouses attended a game with 100,000 other fans on a gorgeous fall day and had excellent seats. Our team won, so it was worth it to fly in for the game. I thank the Lord for the times He also gives us to laugh and relax! Here in New England, there are not many women who are avid football fans, so I sometimes become a little homesick during football season. But it’s just a game, after all:)

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh.” Ecclesiastes 3:4