One minute you’re organizing sticky notes on your desk, wondering how its all ever going to get done. Patho test on top Fundamentals of Nursing test on top of of clinical paperwork on top of enough textbook chapters to single handedly eliminate the amazon rainforest.
The next minute you’re racing into the ICU being appointed the primary care person for your mom. Roles reversed, and suddenly pathophysiology and power bills don’t matter quite so much. You still haven’t organized your closet since you moved in, in August. And that stain you can’t get out of your favorite t-shirt and how irritated you are that you misplaced your car keys, again.
Tuesday morning around 5 am, my mom was admitted to the hospital for what seemed to be stroke symptoms or a heart attack. My dad was tending to his precious sister in Vermont who was recently, bravely put on Hospice. My brother jumped in his car and was on his way from Knoxville and my sister laid down her paintbrush to come stare at a fish tank while we held hands and wondered what the next few hours would hold for a woman who has selflessly cared for us every minute since I can remember.
The remainder of Tuesday, and Wednesday brought test after test, consult after consult, more drugs than my sweet brother could so kindly note take, and more love than felt deserving.
After a long, wide-awake 48 hours with my mom, my dad finally stepped off a plane and greeted us at the hospital elevators. Finally my family was all in Nashville, and we were ready to fight.
I could throw you a list of a lot of medical jargon, test results, and a minute by minute account of what the past 5 days have held for me and my family, but even that seems strangely dim in comparison to what is really starting to matter. Even in the midst of medical diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment the only thing that matters at the end of the day is our fixation on Jesus. Its more of a staring tendency these days. And the tender mercies that remind us we are so delicately and perfectly held in the palm of our Creator’s hand.
My mind promptly goes to a place nearly 11 months ago when I cuddled up in the top of our four story apartment complex, underneath our slanted roof and piles of blankets and fleece and a warm cup of sleepy time tea. Having just returned from a 4-day passion conference, my best friend, college roommate and, now, sister, and I were busy giggling and sharing stories of the past Christmas month we spent in our own homes, showing how the Lord was working in our hearts, and running our mouths much beyond a reasonable bedtime hour. After a long nagging I finally pipped up and said that I wasn’t sure Auburn was going to be my home for the next two years. It was a scary free-falling of sorts, but an adventure I was willing to take.
Fast forward 5 months. A little confirmation that Auburn is not my home just to make the paperwork official, and a lot of tears later, I packed up all my things and drove my 4runner back to Nashville for good. Much of this journey I was unwilling to accept were it not for the constant encouragement and upbringing of my mom, she’s the one who told me to never take that still, small voice for granted. It’s not that I wasn’t excited, it just seemed more foreign moving back to my hometown to me than living in Africa, and too soon, and just scary. But I felt peace. And was clenching that in my fist.
I share these things not to draw attention to myself or my story, but to point a big flashing, glittery arrow to the bigger picture Jesus is painting. How He WILL give you the strength and endurance if you just say “Yes.” And allow yourself to be malleable in His almighty hands. To encourage others who are on the edge of free fall, that it’s not as scary as it seems, hard yes, but there is no fear in letting Jesus have his perfect way and being cradled in His palm.
He’s here & He’s perfect.
He engrained in my heart to leave a lot of things behind and make the transfer from Auburn to Belmont. The side of my moms body her symptoms are on. Chocolate chip cookies. St. Thomas in Nashville. Friends who go before, and even more friends who walk beside. Dinner and broken vacuum cleaners. Spandex. Blessed ICU nurses. Timing. Teachers that tell you to drop everything, because school work and paperwork will be there. Trips to Chicago. Friends who drive 5 hours just to sit and be. Laughter. Texts, calls, social media lovin’ (my mom’s favorite). The normalcy of a good Alabama/LSU game on TV. Fire in the fireplace. Family. Communion.
The good God is everywhere and we continue to look to him minute by minute. He is going to get so much glory, I can’t wait. Actually, he already has. I’m grateful that we don’t have to ask God “why?”. Because he already answers that question in the tender mercies uncovered.
Withhold not you your tender mercies from me, Lord: let your loving kindness and your truth continually preserve me. Ps. 40:11
Who redeems your life from destruction, who CROWNS you with loving kindness and mercies. Ps. 103:4
If you don’t know my mom, you are truly missing the presence of an angel. I know a lot of people have a lot of really nice things to say about their mom, after all she did go through a lot to bring them into the world, but my mom is a different mom of sorts. She goes above and beyond the calling in the way she cares for and loves those around her, her steadfast and quiet trust in the Lord is unwavering even in this. She aches to help people she has never yet seen, met, and usually doesn’t even know their name. But not just people far away, people she is immersed in community with, she’s the most intentional at loving people in her backyard than anyone you have encountered. Love is a word she doesn’t preach but instead does. She embodies the verb tense of it, with a genuine and compassionate spirit. She is empathetic to the point of remembering and caring for details most people are too self-absorbed or hurried and worried to pick up and delicately embrace. Her success is not measured by money, beauty, skill or fame, but by a person’s ability to share in communion with Christ, his blessings and his sufferings. She is a steadfast, and always ready and willing. She’s my best friend. And truly I hope one day to be half the woman she is.
In step with her giving spirit, she does have a request. She doesn’t ask a lot, being the selfless woman she is, but this request is one I hope many will chose to honor:
Last week as my dad was spending time with his sister, Helen, she declared she wanted to give a large sum of money to the medical clinic in Haiti my mom and the three women she works with (147 Million Orphans). And rather than flowers that die, food that we can’t all eat and magazines of things we don’t even need to read, she asks that you purchase a brick or make a donation that Helen, was the first to bravely step forward and buy. It’s like a really BIG Mason Jar. Jesus is the Cornerstone, but Helen’s bricks will be right there next to His. Safe to say, we’re all still moved to tears at her generosity.
You can go to HERE (under “Do Your Part”, there is a link to Paypal by “Support our ministries here”) to donate and put “Jan” in the for line. A BRICK COSTS $1. And the clinic costs $200,000. Or Information on P.O. Box and the Foundation you can go to:
My mom has the privilege and blessing of a brand new “brain lab” at the hospital we are at, but can’t help be reminded of people who have absolutely no medical care. The amount of food we are getting is a beautiful picture of community, but so much can be shared with those who have none. She wants to share our wealth of these things and draw attention to God’s greater glory.
He is so faithful. What he has started, He will finish.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
“Praise be to God, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort OVERFLOWS. If we are distressed it is for your comforts and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our HOPE for you is firm, because we know that just as you share our sufferings, so you also share our comfort.” 2 Cor. 1:3-7