Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sit and Be Present

"When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words."

Can anyone else relate to the quote above? I know I can. In the midst of some of my deepest, darkest storms, I have not been comforted with flowery words that I know have little substance behind them. No, what comforts me most when words seem inadequate is the still, quiet presence of other people beside me. It's those people, the ones that choose to stick by my side when life has never seemed so dark, who I know care deeply for me. I was reading Job 1-2 in the Bible today. In those chapters, Satan came to the Lord and asked permission to harm Job emotionally and then physically to try and get him to sin. The Lord grants permission but refuses to allow Satan to kill Job. Satan destroys his livestock and his children and covered Job in painful sores all over his body. And yet, he did not sin against God; he maintained his integrity. Towards the end of Job 2, his three friends came to Job to grieve with him-they "sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights" (Job 2:13). Words would do nothing. Trying to get Job up and at 'em would do nothing. Pushing him to talk about what happened would do nothing. They knew they needed to sit and bear Job's burden with him, weeping alongside him, grieving as if it were their own sorrows. Job was in the midst of the worst storm he had ever been in, and his friends came to offer initially nothing more than their silent presence.

Don't get me wrong, I love words. I am a big words person. I think they can be used effectively and have the power to dramatically help another person. I also think that other acts, like cooking meals, doing chores around the house, and giving small gifts can significantly help someone in the midst of a major life event. However, I am also a big believer in the power of just being with another person. When life gets hard, the first thing I tend to crave is another person to walk through the storm with me. I want authenticity and kindness and compassion. I want to know that someone loves me enough to drop what they are doing and simply offer their presence. God has made us for community, not just so that we can show others the kind of love God has for us and encourage each other in our faith, but also so that we can bear one another's burdens and hardships. Part of that means that we need to slow down enough to grieve with one another before taking action. We need to weep with one another and offer our quiet presence, without feeling awkward for lack of words or strange for not doing something to fix the situation. Trust me, I am aware of feeling like I need to have the exact right words to say when a friend is going through a really difficult time. However, I think God has been showing me that sometimes, words fail, and that's okay. Sometimes, we need to just sit and be with our struggling friends, not trying to jump into fixing things immediately. You have no idea how much it means to your friend when you voluntarily walk through the storm with them and choose to share their sorrow as much as you can. Who knows, you may be giving them just the love they need at that time. If you have a friend going through a storm, offer your presence. Even if you aren't physically in the same city as them, offer your time and allow them to share their heart with you if and only if they want someone to talk to. Most importantly, go forward asking God to lead you and consistently praying for your friend. God is good, and even when the road seems unclear, He is sovereign!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Repost blog post

I stumbled across this blog post today, and I felt like I needed to share it. To the mommas (and daddys) of chronically ill children, thank you. 

By Lexi (link below)

To the Momma of a Chronically and Critically Ill Child,

I’ve seen you in those hospital rooms. I’ve seen you hand your child off to surgeons, not knowing if you would ever get to hold them again with a beating heart. I’ve seen you pray, hope, and hold on to faith with a sheer will that would put most to shame. I’ve seen you hold your babies with tears streaming down your face because this kind of sickness isn’t the kind that just comes and goes, this is the kind where no one can assure you that your child is going to be okay.

You are brave. You are strong. You are loving.

You fight for your children when they can’t fight for themselves. You hope for them and you stay positive for them, and then run to the bathroom just to cry in the stall where they can’t see. You research and talk to doctors and talk to other parents to find the best possible treatment plans and solutions to give the best life to your child. You take part in care for your child in ways even some in the medical field are intimidated by, dropping NG tubes, changing trachs, giving IV meds through a Broviac at home.

You go to the places no one wants to go. You know a side of the world that most would like to pretend doesn’t exist. You call your children’s hospital your home away from home, and while the rest of the world may find that sad, you see the hope. It’s the place that gives your child a chance at life.

I see you, momma. And you are loving that child unconditionally, just as you should. You are standing beside them come hell or high waters, and you are doing a good job. You are giving them the best.

You are their cheerleader. You are their smile maker. You are the one that knows their favorite songs and favorite toys. You are the one that knows how to calm them down, how to hold them, how to love them best.

While other parents know everything about their child’s sleep habits, you know everything about your child’s vitals– where their normal sats should be, what their resting heart rate is, their normal pressures. While other parents can talk about their kid’s feeding schedules, you could talk all day about your kid’s anatomy, what surgeries are next, or what treatments are on the radar. While other parents are teaching their kids to crawl and to walk, you are teaching your’s to drink from a bottle just to get rid of that dang NG, teaching them to bear weight on their legs and rebuild their core from weakness of lying in a hospital bed all day. While other parents look forward to going out on a date night without kids, you look forward to the moments when you can grab enough hands to shuffle around a bunch of machines and a hospital crib to just hold your baby.

You are brave. You are strong. You are doing a good job.

You are a mom. You would do anything for your child. And some of you have to brave the path that no parent should have go down. Instead of debating the best way to introduce solid foods to a baby, you are making decisions with doctors on quality of life for your child. Instead of choosing diaper methods, you are choosing between cremation and burial. Instead of planning a first birthday party and stressing over the details to make it perfect, you are planning a funeral… You are a mom. You would do anything for your baby, even when it means they are in heaven and free and you are the one left here to suffer.

To those of you, I see you. Hold on to hope.

This is not a path anyone chooses. You did not do anything wrong to make this happen. Your child did not do anything wrong to make this happen. This does not make you worse or better than any other parent. It just makes you different. You love your child the same, you just experience things differently than the “normal”.

Keep on doing what you are doing, loving that kid no matter what.

You are doing a good job.

You are a good mom.


A Momma Who Knows

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Speech path life

The first week of my last semester is finished. I know I've said this a lot, but boy, time flies!! I was thinking today about how I came to declare my major--speech pathology. It's been a crazy ride, but I wouldn't changed a second of it. Care to join me on a walk down memory lane? 

When I was a freshman, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My major was literally undecided. There were too many things I enjoyed and too many subjects I loved learning. In high school, I did well in all my classes; there wasn't really one subject I liked more than the rest. Learning in general came easily to me. My first semester of freshman year I went to career counseling to try and get some guidance of how my personality and my interests could possibly turn into a career path. I got many different possible options, but for some reason, speech pathology stood out to me. I had no idea what a speech pathologist actually did, but I started googling it that night. I found out that speech pathologists help others communicate better and improve the quality of life of a variety of clients. I saw that there are many different types of speech patholgoists with a variety of potential workplaces. I found that speech pathologists are in great demand across the country. I read testimonies of both practicing speech pathologists as well as clients who had been helped by speech pathologists. Slowly but surely, I became more intrigued with the idea of becoming this mysterious thing called a speech pathologist. 

So, I decided to take the intro class my second semester. Throughout the course of the class, I came to the realization that I had found my career. Every time I went to class, I got so excited to learn about something new. I read my introductory textbook for fun, desiring to devour as much knowledge as possible. I could begin to picture myself doing therapy or writing reports or giving diagnostic tests. I absolutely loved the idea of becoming a speech pathologist! Now, I'm a senior, almost finished with my undergrad and about to start graduate school so I can learn practically how to do be a great speech pathologist. In undergrad, I've learned plenty of theoretical ideas and generalized steps. I know the International Phonetic Alphabet, different disorders and their speech and language ramifications, how to articulate sounds correctly, how a normally developing child develops language, technological terms for anatomical structures as well as specific therapy techniques, and all about the hearing organ. In grad school, I get to put that knowledge to good use and practice. I am thrilled to take that leap, and I cannot wait to be the best speech pathologist I can be. 

One of the things I loved almost immediately about speech pathology was that it's a field centered around helping people. Because of my cystic fibrosis, I have had plenty of medical professionals over the year focus on trying to improve my quality of life. Some have done it well; others, not so much. I knew all along that I wanted to use my life to help others the way great doctors and nurses and dietitians and respiratory therapists have helped me, but I had no idea how. All medical professions were out because of the many potential germs and negative consequences on my health. But when I found speech pathology, I knew I had found a field where I could use my desire to help people without putting my own health in danger. Communication is vital to life, and without the ability to communicate ideas and thoughts well, life gets pretty difficult. I love the fact that I can help someone else's life improve, even just a little bit. 

I also love that with speech pathology, I can work with a variety of clients. I can work with kids with articulation errors, children with language impairments and disorders, adults who have had a stroke, teenagers with traumatic brain injury, and babies in the NICU. I'm not confined to one group of clients. Life is never boring as a speech pathologist.

 Thank you, God, for bringing me to speech pathology! I'm beyond excited to continue in my education  and to see where the Lord leads me as I continue to walk through the journey of life.

"I understand"...but really?

My biggest pet peeve is probably when someone says they understand the pain or frustrations or problems I'm having in life. Naturally, people want to be empathetic. They want to identify with another however they can, and sometimes the words, "I understand" just spill out. I know I've been guilty of that before. But truly, when someone uses those two words in an utterance, I cringe on the inside. 

Two weeks ago, I was scheduled to have a pulmonary embolization. I got to the hospital at 12:00pm for what I thought was supposed to be a 1:00pm surgery. However, after I registered for my surgery and was sent to imaging, the nurse told me that in their system, I was scheduled for a CT scan to check for a blood clot--the exact opposite of the problem I was having with lung bleeds. Now, needless to say, I was not a happy camper. I hadn't eaten or had anything to drink since 10pm the previous night. I was weak and tired. I was nervous about having to have the procedure. And then the nurse tells me the scheduling desk scheduled the wrong procedure? I was pretty frustrated. To add insult to injury, the head of scheduling talked to my mom to see if we could reschedule the procedure; when my my mom was explaining why we were so upset, the scheduling lady said those two words I never want to hear, especially not from a medical person--I understand. Woooaaaahhhhh no. My mom went off, and if I had been talking to her, I would've give her an earful, as well. 

You may be wondering why someone saying they understand bothers me so much. When someone says that they understand your problem or frustrations, they are belittling why you're upset. When the scheduling lady said she understood why we were mad about her department's mistake, she was trying to calm our anger. She didn't want my mom or I to take drastic measures against the hospital and wanted to deal with the problem and move on as soon as possible. She cared about covering her bases and convincing my mom and I that she saw that there had been a mistake. However, she was completely ignoring the fact that we were upset. She ignored our pain and tried to say that she got exactly how we were feeling. As well, no one can know exactly what another person is going through in a specific situation. Even another CF patient could not know exactly what I was feeling on that day. A scheduling receptionist who does not have cystic fibrosis and who, to my knowledge, had never dealt with a scheduling mess up for her own personal surgery, could not understand what I was going through. There's no possible way. If she had said, "I'm sorry", or "my department messed up", I still would have been frustrated, but I wouldn't have gotten nearly as frustrated with her specifically. She wasn't the one starving or the one with the blood sugar problems or the one that had been up half the night worried about the surgery or the one who had to reschedule the surgery for the next week or the one who had less time to recover before heading back to school. She did not understand, and I didn't want her to say that she understood. I wanted her to apologize and try to fix the mistake, showing empathy in that way and being quick in her problem solving. 

Note to all you lovely readers: don't tell others that you understand what they're going through. Show empathy, be willing to listen, give advice when asked, love others well. But don't say that you understand unless you've been in the exact same situation, and even then be careful with your words. You never know what your words could portray to someone. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

In the end, it's just a game

If you've ever kept up with college football, you've probably heard of the Cotton Bowl. It's definitely one of the best bowl games played at the end of the season, especially for a Texas team, playing on our turf and defending our territory. Baylor had the opportunity to represent the Big 12 as the number 5 team in the nation in the Cotton Bowl today against the number 8 team, Michigan State. I was able to attend the game in Dallas at Jerry World (aka AT&T Stadium), and boy, was it an experience! For starters, the stadium is huge, and I've never seen a jumbotron that ginormous before. Both the Baylor and Michigan State crowds represented well in numbers. I was surrounded by thousands of crazy, screaming football fans, and I loved it. 

Baylor played great. Our offense showed up big time. Bryce Petty threw some amazing passes and set Cotton Bowl records left and right. KD Cannon set a record for most receiving yards for a true freshman. Our defense had some great stops and played tough until the end. McGowan, a 390 pound OL, received and scored a TOUCHDOWN. It was a game full of a lot of excitement and thrilling moments. Unfortunately, Baylor did not win out this round. MSU played well, and they won the game 42-41. However, I'm still SO proud of my Baylor Bears. They had a fantastic football season and grew in their talents and skills as they represented Baylor well. In the end, a football game is just a football game. I love the following quote from Bryce Petty after the incredibly heartbreaking loss:

Q: What did you learn about your faith today?

Bryce: My faith? Shoot, it's just a football game. It's a blessing to be able to play this, so it has nothing to do with a loss of faith or anything like that. My prayer before every game is win, lose or draw, I hope and pray that God sits well with how I performed and knows that I did it for Him. I'll never waver in that.

The Baylor coaching staff instills in every player that walks through their doors that football is not the end all and be all. Yes, football is a fantastic game. It's entertaining and is a huge part of Baylor University. However, life is a lot more than football, winning games, and beating opponents. Life is about glorifying God with everything you do. It's about loving others fully and living well to the end of our days. It's about using the gifts and talents we have been given to point others to Christ. Baylor Athletics understands that there are much more important things in life than sports games. I am incredibly grateful to attend a school that recognizes the reality of life and does not put all our worth in things that will fade but rather encourages people to turn to God and glorify Him with all He has given them.

Congratulations Michigan State on a game well played! 

Sic 'em forever.