Wednesday, December 28


God is good. I love that He likes to give us small blessings as well as large ones, and I love to see how He orchestrates and impresses upon our hearts little things.

Very early Christmas morning I made a long drive from Cookeville to Chattanooga to go to work. As I stopped at a red light, I noticed a man on the street corner selling Sunday newspapers. I've seen him there before; in fact, I'm pretty sure he's been there every Sunday morning that I can remember passing by that corner. And he's there early, because I usually pass by around 6:10 AM. I looked at him and suddenly felt ashamed. There I was about to go to a job that I love, that is a huge blessing to me, and that pays enough to fill my needs and more, and I was a little bit resentful that I had to do it on Christmas day. And there he was, cold, up early on Christmas morning trying to sell newspapers to people who mostly didn't want to give him the time of day.

Whenever I see people selling things on street corners, I feel compelled to give them something. And I have told God many times before that any time I'm in a situation like that, if it is possible, I will stop and give them something. Providentially, the light had just turned red as I was coming up to it, so I knew I had the time, and I was glad for the opportunity. I don't really read newspapers, though I probably should, but I thought at least I could use it for fire starter in our fireplace at home. However, God had a little something more in mind than fire starter.

I rolled down my window, gave him what cash I had with me, and wished him a Merry Christmas. I threw the newspaper on the floor of the seat next to me, and didn't have a chance to look at it again until that night. I noticed a picture of a small child on the front page and thought it curious, but I didn't have time to read the article until this morning.

When I read it this morning, I discovered it was an article about a baby who was once a patient in the NICU that I work in. I was blessed as I read, and I was reminded once again of why I do what I do. I was reminded of why I chose to be a nurse, and the reminder couldn't have come at a better time because
this past week has been one of the most stressful and difficult weeks I've had in the NICU since I started in September. God is good. More than I can express in words. And I am ever so thankful of His love and care for me.

Sunday, December 4


The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness. ~Isaiah 57:1,2 (ESV)

I called my mother on my way home from a fairly awful day at work, only to hear her crying. When asked what was wrong, she tearfully explained to me that less than an hour before my calling, Melvin Sanborn had died. The tears came instantly though her words did not fully register immediately.

Mr. Sanborn was an incredible man of God. We grew up living down the street from him and his wife, Marjorie, who was one of the warmest people I've known. I loved them both. So much. Mrs. Sanborn was a greeter at our church for as long as I can remember, and she was the main reason our church had its reputation for being one of the friendliest, most welcoming churches ever. Mr. Sanborn built our church. With some help, of course; but he was at the forefront of planning and laboring over the house of God that replaced our gymnasium worship center. He used to read the Bible through every year, and in the past several years, he began to read it through in different versions. More than that, both Mr. and Mrs. Sanborn had been special to me. I distinctly remember when I was very small going down the street to spend time with them at their house. One year, Mrs. Sanborn gave me four giant teddy bears to play with; they were my favorites for several years and received much love and play time. In more recent years, Mr. Sanborn was always a friendly, familiar face when I would go home to visit my home church. He always had a ready hug and wanted to hear what I was up to in life. He reminded me a lot of my grandfather.

Mrs. Sanborn died a year ago in November, and my heart broke then for all the people, including myself, who would miss her warm smile and even warmer Sabbath hugs. And tonight another one of God's bright lights has entered into a peaceful rest. And tonight my heart breaks again. For Mr. Sanborn's family and friends who will miss him dearly while we anxiously await the joy that will come with the morning of God's return.


I thought it fitting also to share this section from a book I really enjoy. This particular excerpt is from a chapter on Jewish mourning rituals and more specifically, the Mourner's Kaddish (prayer).

"Not only is the community present for one's mourning, God is present too. God is ubiquitous in Jewish bereavement because of the Kaddish. Countless commentators have observed that the Kaddish is a curious mourner's prayer, because it says nothing about mourning. It is rather a prayer about God, describing Him as magnified and sanctified and worthy to be praised. It is not a prayer of rent garments and commemoration, but rather simply four verses of praise to God. 'Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One. Blessed is He, beyond any blessing or song.' As one mourner noted, the Kaddish is really 'a Gloria.' Even in the pit, even in depression and loss and nonsense, still we respond to God with praise. This is not to say that the mourner should not feel what he feels-- anger, disbelief, hatred. He can feel those things (and shout them out to God; God can take it). You do not have to feel praise in the intense moments of mourning, but the praise is still true, and insisting upon it over and over, twice a day every day, ensures that eventually you will come to remember the truth of those praises." ~Lauren F. Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath

Friday, November 25


Tonight has been a full night. Full of blessings and warmth. Full of thoughts in varying stages of completeness. Full of Presence. Full of Love.

As I was sitting by the fireplace watching flames dance over logs my mind was lost in a reverie, an ocean of contemplation.

I am going to be more vulnerable than I often allow myself to be. I have an intense desire to be known, to be understood. I desperately want someone to want to search my mind and truly know and understand the depths of my heart. I want somebody to desire to figure me out, and I want him to succeed. And I want him to love me for what he sees and knows about my heart and my mind.

As I sat by the fire tonight, my mind whirling with a plethora of deep thoughts, I felt this desire very strongly. I thought silently, "I wish I could tell someone all of these thoughts and be understood." And almost instantly I was overwhelmed by the thought of having to express each of those ideas, those incomplete impressions that even I was struggling to process fully in my own mind. I had hardly finished being overwhelmed by imagining trying to convey the meaning of my mind's contents when another thought presented itself: "I know your thoughts. I have searched you, and I know your heart."

Immediately, I was comforted. I don't even have to search for the proper combination and order of words to truly express what's in my heart and on my mind; God knows. Really knows. And understands. He has me figured out. And I am loved for what He sees and knows about my heart and mind. And somehow in that moment of realization, I felt closer to God and more deeply loved than I've consciously felt in quite some time.

Perhaps I may share my thoughts with someone someday. Maybe I won't. But regardless, I am content to be known by Someone.

Monday, October 24

Perfectly Square Rocks

One Sabbath afternoon not too long ago, I overheard a conversation between two of my friends, and it intrigued me. A group of us had decided to go hiking at Laurel Falls, but some of us needed to be back home earlier than others. Our group split, and while the majority of our fellow hikers went up to the falls, the rest of us played and hiked down among the large rocks in the stream.

I was sitting with Allana, Margie, and Heather on one such large rock while Ivan was skipping rocks, throwing big stones in the water, and just generally being a guy. Then Ivan came and showed us a great find-- a very large flat rock, which he then proceeded to throw in the water after each of us had commented on how much we liked it. A few minutes later, Ivan returned again with another large, flat rectangular rock.

"Do you like my rock?" he asked as he showed it off to each of us.

While he was preoccupied, Allana turned to me and said jokingly, "We'd better not tell him that we like it or else he just might toss it into the water as well."

And so Allana feigned indifference toward the rock. Ivan was a little dismayed.

"What's wrong with my rock, Allana? Why don't you like it?"

"Well, I don't know what's so great about it," she answered apathetically.

"What's not great about it? It's a perfectly square rock!" Ivan exclaimed exultantly.

We all laughed, and Allana replied, "There's nothing square about it! How can you say it's a perfect square?"

Ivan was quick to defend his find. "Well, it's an awful lot better and more square than all the rest of these rocks!"

The banter continued for a while until we moved on to other amusements. But Allana's and Ivan's discussion got me thinking. It was quite clear to all of us that the rock was not, as Ivan had claimed, anywhere close to a perfect square. Even his defense admitted that fact.

Sometimes I think we present our plans and designs to God the same way that Ivan presented his rock to Allana. We tell Him how great it will be if things will just work out the way we've planned, and when God says no to our plans, we're so quick, whether by words or by actions, to defend our schemes.

"What's not to like about it? It's a perfect plan!" we complain to God. And even when we're honest enough with ourselves to admit the obvious flaws, we still try to sell God on the point that it's a much better plan than any other that we can see at the moment.

But that's just it-- God sees so much more than we do. And while our designs may seem like the closest thing to perfect we can imagine, God sees the true perfectly square rocks that are hidden from our sight.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him." Psalm 37:4-7a, ESV

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!" Psalm 84:11, 12, ESV

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." Proverbs 3:5-7, ESV

Saturday, October 22

Musings: Light and Darkness

God has been teaching me so many neat little lessons and giving me so many small glimpses into His love lately. And I want to write about them all, but it's late, and I must work tomorrow morning. So I will just write a short thought that most recently presented itself to me.

My housemates all left to go various places toward the end of this past week. One went to North Carolina for a funeral, and the other two went backpacking. I stayed home (like the second little piggy) so that I could go to work. Friday evening when I came home from work, the house was completely dark and forlorn. It was really discouraging, especially because it was Sabbath, and I felt like coming home at the end of a long week to enjoy Sabbath should have been more comforting than empty.

As I walked through the house, I began turning on lights. This is amusing to me because one of my greatest pet peeves since coming back from Africa is wasted electricity and lights left on that aren't being used. But nevertheless, I turned on several many lights in our house. Somehow it made the house seem less empty.

I began to ponder this phenomenon because it seemed curious to me. I then made a connection in my mind. In the Bible God is often symbolized by light. In fact, during the time that the Israelites were in the desert, God's Presence in the Sanctuary was manifested as a glorious light. And read this from Revelation 21:23-25:

"And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day-- and there will be no night there."

And so I sat by myself in my empty house with many lights on, comforted by the symbol of God's Presence on the Sabbath. And as desolate as the darkness had seemed, so the light seemed full and un-lonely.

Saturday, October 1

God's Chisel

I found this video on my friend's page, and I found it particularly meaningful for me right now. I was especially struck by the discussion about control. Tommie says, "I'm just saying, You've done some great work, maybe we take a break, a sabbatical from each other, you know? I'll stay right here..." And God responds, "That's just it, you never just stay right there; you're either moving toward Me, or away from Me, but never you 'just stay'." So Tommie concedes and allows God to begin chiseling out the things that don't belong in his life. But then Tommie asks God, "But can we chisel where I want?" And God answers, "That's called control."

There are two things I relate to in that discussion. Recently I've realized that I keep praying for God to take control of my life, to lead me in His path, but all the while I'm pleading with Him to let my chosen path be His path. And that's not surrender. That's called control.

The other thing in that discussion on control that really resounded with me is when God says, "you're either moving toward me, or away from me." Sometimes, I get tired of God chiseling. Sometimes, I feel like I can't take any more refining at the moment, and I want to take a break. I want to just stay right here, rest awhile, and then God can start refining me again when I've regained my strength. But there is no staying right here, because to stay right here is to be moving away from God. And I don't need to regain my strength because God has promised to be my strength. In all His refining, when I feel like I can't stand any longer, when I feel like I can't take any more of the flame of God's holiness burning away the dross, He reminds me that if I would rely on Him, I wouldn't have to stand for myself; He will be my sustaining power as He chisels away everything that keeps me from reflecting the image of God.

"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another." Isaiah 48:10, 11 (ESV)

Thursday, September 22


Tonight at Bible study, we read Chapter 4 of Acts of the Apostles. It's about the Pentecost and the power of the Holy Spirit. In one of the closing paragraphs, Ellen White says this of the disciples:

"No longer was it a matter of faith with them that Christ was the Son of God. They knew that, although clothed with humanity, He was indeed the Messiah, and they told their experience to the world with a confidence which carried with it the conviction that God was with them." Acts of the Apostles, p. 46

Christ's divinity, authority, and power to save was no longer a mere belief-- a vague idea in their heads that couldn't fully be explained; instead it was fact. Not only was it fact, but it was a certainty that changed their lives, their daily actions.

God keeps bringing things to my attention that make me realize that somewhere, somehow there is a disconnect in my own and many other Christians' minds.  Somehow God is not as real to me as He ought to be. If He were, it would be impossible for me to doubt His power, and it would be impossible for me to distrust His love and the goodness of His plans for me. Because if God were as real to me as He ought to be, His love and power would be a fact that would change my life, my daily actions.

Somehow the things which are seen, the things of this world, have become more real to us than our heavenly home (of which we are true citizens) and the God of love who dwells there. I know this because if God were more real to us, we would live our lives as if nothing else in the world matters as much as He does.

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God." Hebrews 11:8-10

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earthFor people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homelandIf they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." Hebrews 11:13-16

"So we do not lose heart. . . as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16, 18

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" Philippians 3:20

Monday, September 19

Wholehearted Commitment

Well friends... As some of you know, I preached a sermon this past weekend. I really believe God blessed, and I hope that the point got across. I am not the world's most dynamic speaker, and the sermon probably could have gone a little better, but what's done is done. I just pray that somehow God used the words He put on my heart to touch someone else's.
Here it is if you want to listen/download it. It's called Wholehearted Commitment. It's about 30 minutes long, so plan accordingly :)

Monday, August 22

While I'm Waiting

"In hope [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, 'So shall your offspring be.'

"He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb.

"No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised."

~Romans 4:18-21

Abraham chose to trust in God's Word more than he trusted the evidence before his eyes; he chose to lean not on his own understanding, but to trust in God with all of his heart. Abraham made this choice because the unseen God was more real to him than the things which are seen.

It is also interesting to note that Abraham's faith grew strong "as he gave glory to God." Abraham gave glory to God-- praised Him for His goodness, thanked Him for His blessings, and attributed his success to God-- all while waiting in earnest hope for God's promise to be realized. This was what strengthened Abraham's faith, his trust in God-- thanking and praising God for the gifts of the present while waiting for the promise of the future.

May God grant me the strength to praise Him for His goodness and thank Him for His blessings today that I may strengthen my trust to believe in His promises for my future.

Monday, August 15

Steady as the Seasons (Turning Over New Leaves)

The winds are changing--
A bitter wind blowing in and
Rearranging everything certain.

And with this descent of
Another Autumn
A million leaves have scattered
To mask the familiar.

But in time the winds will be changing--
A fresh wind bringing new
Life to the uncertain.

And with the rise of
A novel Spring
A million leaves will flourish
To paint the unfamiliar.


I can't decide if I like this or not. I'll read it through once and feel like it captures what I'm feeling almost perfectly. Then I'll re-read it and decide that I really ought to give up all attempts at poetry because I only ever disappoint myself. I feel like when I write, I'm always on the very brink of something deeply profound, and yet somehow I've missed the boat completely. Maybe someday I'll come back to it and make some changes. Maybe I won't.

In any case, it seems hopeful. And hope is what I'm clinging to these days.

Wednesday, June 15

What I Live For

This happened a while back, but I'm just now getting around to writing about it. I know I haven't been a terribly faithful blogger in the last year or so...

Sometimes when I go to work, I wonder why I'm there. I wonder how on earth God can use me when all I'm doing is sticking people with needles and changing dressings on central lines. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. But sometimes I wonder how much purpose I have. Then, I meet patients like her.

I was orienting someone new to our IV team. It was evening shift, and I was feeling like I was just about at the end of my patience. The person I was orienting (we'll call her Felicia) was having a hard time. I was explaining things over and over, and they were just not getting through. So Felicia and I were called to a room to access a port-a-cath, which she had done before with another IV team member (click here and scroll down a bit if you care to know more about port-a-caths and how they're accessed). Outside of the patient's room, I reviewed her on all of the supplies we would need because it's hard to remember it all sometimes. I walked her through the process before we went in, and I hoped it would go well.

The patient (we'll call her Mrs. Ashwood) had asked for her port-a-cath needle to be changed because someone had used a really long needle, and it was sticking too far out of her skin. She was afraid she might bump it on something in the night. As we talked to her, we discovered that several IV team members had tried to access it the day before, and it took multiple attempts. My heart sank. I didn't really want to let Felicia try, but I asked Mrs. Ashwood if it would be alright if she did it while I supervised. She said she didn't mind at all.

Felicia got out her equipment, and very soon after beginning, contaminated her sterile gloves without realizing it. I stopped her, gave her some new gloves, and the process continued. To make a long story shorter, Felicia missed on the first try, but Mrs. Ashwood said she was ok with Felicia trying again. So we trotted off to get more supplies, and I made use of the time to coach Felicia some more. My patience was wearing even thinner, and I really just wanted to access the port myself, but I knew that Felicia needed to try again.

When we returned to Mrs. Ashwood's room, I began talking with her while Felicia got her things ready. She began to open up to me about why she was in the hospital and what she was going through. She had cancer. It had been gone for a while, but just recently they thought they had seen some spots on her liver. The doctors had gone back and forth between being certain it was nothing and telling her that it was a metastasis of her old cancer. Finally, they decided that she had advanced mets cancer in her liver and elsewhere. She was having to make decisions about whether or not to undergo more treatments and which doctors or hospital to go to. She confessed that she wasn't even sure if it was worth it because her prognosis was not good. As she spoke to me, I listened and also told her a little bit about my grandfather and what he had gone through when he had cancer. I nearly began to cry as I talked to her because I realized how similar their stories were.

As Felicia and I finished what we needed to do-- nearly an hour later-- I felt impressed to pray with her. I asked Mrs. Ashwood if that would be alright, and she said she would love that. So I prayed. For peace, for wisdom, but most of all for God's Presence and comfort. When I finished she was crying. She told me that she and her husband had been missionaries for 12 years, and we talked about missions and life in other countries. By the time I left the room, I was nearly in tears. I was amazed at her attitude and positive spirit, and I had told her so when I was in the room. And I was humbled that God had seen fit for us to be in her room long enough for me to be able to help her find comfort and peace in God's hands. It was a good reminder for me that God still knows what He's doing-- even when I'm frustrated and impatient.

Experiences like this are the ones I live for.

Thursday, May 12

Mining, Chemical Equations, and Other Things

I've got a lot on my mind right now. I suppose that's nothing new, but at this very moment, I'm feeling rather flooded with too many thoughts. So please forgive the overflow here; I just need an outlet. And please forgive any randomness or incompleteness of thought.

I don't know a lot about mining for gems, but I have an idea that it's a difficult process. It takes a lot of pressure, tedious work, and maybe even involves a lot of what seems to be excess waste. But somewhere under all the dirt and lava rock layers lies something of great value. Great value. And beauty. And it's worth all the tedious work, all the pressure, all the removal of the unvaluable to find the invaluable. All of these things I know. I have no doubts regarding the value or the fact that it will require great effort to reach the end result of beauty and worth. I have no doubt that it's worth the trouble. But the thought that's running around in my mind at the moment is, how can you be certain there's a gem beneath it all? What if all the work and pressure is being spent on an ordinary rock? And how can you tell the difference between an ordinary rock and a gem without all the work and pressure-- from the outside surface? How do you determine when or if the process should be abandoned? What if you might be about to abandon a real gem? What if you walk away from something of great worth and beauty?

Switching gears, but still related. I love balancing chemical equations. I know, I'm a little bit nerdy. But it's fun; it's a puzzle. Just like scheduling. But that's another topic for another day. In chemical equations, the combination of two or more elements produces something. And on both sides of the equation, everything has to balance out; you can't have more or less than what you started with (in terms of matter) when all is said and done. You have to have the same number of hydrogen/sodium/whatever ions pre-reaction and post-reaction. To me, life doesn't always seem to work like this. Sometimes I wonder as I'm trying to balance on both sides of the equation if maybe I'm coming up one hydrogen short. Everything seems to balance out so well, except for that one little hydrogen ion that seems to be missing. Maybe the problem is me. Maybe I'm just not seeing it; maybe I'm overlooking it. And then I begin to wonder, how important is chemistry in life anyway?

Unrelated now. I came across a profound verse in Exodus yesterday in my devotions. It really deserves a blog post all its own, but for now... here it is.

God saw the people of Israel-- and God knew. Exodus 2:25

This particular verse is referring to the Israelites crying out to God in the oppression of slavery under Egyptian rule. But it really struck me. God saw and God knew. Immediately it called to mind Hagar and Ishmael.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, 'Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?' She said, 'I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.'

And the angel of the Lord said to her, 'Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.'

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, 'You are a God of seeing,' for she said, 'Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.' Therefore the well was called Beer-lahairoi.

Exodus 16:7, 8, 11, 13, 14

Ishmael means "God hears." And Beer-lahairoi means "the well of the Living One who sees me."

God saw and God knew. In Hagar's utter despair, as she is about to give up, she is reassured that God, the Living One, sees her. He knows her affliction, He knows her despair; He sees it.

Back to the verse in Exodus 2:25 and its context. Just after that verse, God appears to Moses in the burning bush. Just after that verse, God moves. He sees, He knows, and then, He moves, working on our behalf. Because He is the Great God Who Saves.

Maybe it's not so unrelated after all.

Thursday, April 14

Don't Sit Still

I promise I'm going to write something original soon. Really. But until then... This is a really neat article. What a revolutionary idea- to stop squelching children's innate needs to move.

Sunday, January 23

And Then

there was hope.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.

On that day the LORD their God will save them,
as the flock of his people;
for like the jewels of a crown
they shall shine on his land.
For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!

Zechariah 9:9, 11, 12, 16, 17a; ESV

Tuesday, January 18

God Still Is

The last two days at work were rough. Really rough. Not because I don't love what I do, and not because of my co-workers, but rather for what I have seen. For what I have seen has made my heart ache in a way that it has not ached since I was in Africa.

When I was in Tchad, every day brought more suffering into my scope of awareness. Granted, my time in Tchad was not solely filled with sorrow and suffering; there was joy, too. But my eyes were opened to the pain and suffering around me in the listless eyes of those too exhausted to weep anymore, in the mother's sobs over the death of her child, in the harsh cruelty of a desert land. And I think that I had forgotten, in part, that sorrow and despair are not confined to foreign lands.

The last two days at work, I was assigned to check IVs on several floors, including the hospice unit and the oncology (cancer) floor. I don't know if I had just been blind and my eyes were finally re-opened in the last two days, or if there has just been a sudden increase in the amount of suffering recently, but whatever the case, I was made more aware of the pain and suffering that exists all around me.

One man was sleeping-- peacefully, it seemed. His daughter was outside the room on the phone, and I overheard her in a strained voice explaining to another family member what the doctors had told her. "He only has a few more weeks at most. So right now we're just trying to keep him comfortable. They said that as time goes on, he will just start sleeping more and more..." Her voice trailed off.

On Sunday, I had changed out an old IV for an elderly woman on hospice unit who was very much still with it. She had many family members in the room, and she talked back and forth with each of them. Monday, I walked in to check her IV, and the family members were still there, chatting with each other while she lay in bed, awake, but with eyes closed from tiredness. A tiredness that seemed less like a tiredness from lack of sleep and more like a tiredness of fighting.

I had greeted a man on Sunday in hospice and asked, "How are you doing today?" "Oh, pretty good, pretty good," he had replied with a polite smile. I chatted for a minute and commented on the sunshine coming into his large window. Monday morning, I asked again, in cheerful tones, "How are you today?" His reply was as discouraging as the grey sky outside the window. "Not very well today. I'm worried sick about my wife. She's here in the hospital too, and I can't seem to get a hold of her." We talked a bit, and I gave him some advice on how he might get in touch with his wife. I tried to remain cheerful as I bid him goodbye.

The next room on hospice was an even sharper blow to my heart. An older man, a mere skeleton of himself, sat in bed with hollow eyes that remained completely unpenetrated by my cheery, upbeat demeanor. He responded to my questions, but I felt like I was interacting with a shadow of a man rather than a real human. I can't hardly explain what it was in his eyes and voice that struck me so deeply, except to say that where life should have been, an apathy devoid of hope had settled in.

But what really pierced my heart was seeing a dear friend of mine in the hospital. It's like a nightmare really. To see someone your own age very ill and fatigued. It made me realize once again that Satan is no respecter of persons. Evil has no regard for age, innocence, or character and attacks indiscriminately and brutally.

I can't tell you how many times I came close to crying at work yesterday because I lost count. But in the solitude of my car on my way home, I listened to a song of home-- heaven-- and cried. I can't remember the last time my heart ached so badly to be home, to be rid of the seemingly endless pain and sorrow caused by the absence of Love-- the presence of Satan and sin.

Somehow, through all that happened, I was really beginning to feel that God was very far away. But when I got home, I saw something posted by a friend, and it reminded me that despite all the suffering and pain, God still is. And in the end, Love wins. Here's the full poem:

Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!'

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'