Thursday, July 12, 2012
It is a huge privilege and also a big responsibility to be the children of parents that love and follow Jesus. To be the children of parents that walk so close to God that His touch is visible and clear in so many ways. Children that got to watch from the front row God working in their parent's lives in amazing forms, children that have not just heard of God, but have seen Him through their parents.
Once upon a time, there was such a son. Nebuchadnezzar was king over Babylon and had invaded Jerusalem taking with him all their wealth, gold, silver and even their best people to serve at his palace. But his heart became so proud that God touched his life and made him like the beasts, looking like a fool, until he recognized his pride, and worshiped God that is above all. "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down." Dan 4:37
Now you would think that Nebuchadnezzar's children, after watching him go through such a powerful experience, would have learned themselves a lesson. But his son, Belshazzar, the successor of the throne, once he became king, acted completely against God. Belshazzar decided to have a party and use the vessels and cups that were from the temple in Jerusalem to drink wine and praise the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. (Dan 5:4) However, God was watching, and He through the prophet Daniel warns him: "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this (about what happened to his father). And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven.... And the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified". Dan 5:22,23 And at that same night Belshazzar was killed by another king that took over his kingdom.
"Although you knew all this". What a powerful statement! The elders, chief priests and teachers of law that killed Jesus were all descendant of those who had watched the Red Sea open, who ate manna that fell from the skies and saw a strong wall around Jericho falling down by itself, among thousands of other miracles. And they had heard their parents tell them about these stories over and over again. They knew all this. And yet, they killed the Son of God. Why? Because they had become children of a Religion, and not children of God.
Judas, was also the son of a Religion. He was such a good follower of his religion that he did exactly what the top people of his religion wanted him to do: he delivered Jesus to them. And just like Belshazzar, he gave more praise to the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone, as he was more interested in money than in God Himself. "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you? and they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver". Mat 26:15
Jesus had fed Judas, had opened the eyes of the blind, resurrected the dead, made the lame walk. Judas knew all this, he knew from hearing his parents tell him the stories from the past, he knew from watching with his own eyes the miracles Jesus was performing. But he chose to follow a religion instead.
Are you the son or daughter of a religion? Or are you the son or daughter of God? Are you just following your parents rituals, or are you following Jesus? Now, Jesus calls the sons of Religion, sons of the devil. "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God... you are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do". Jo 8:42-44
Who do you rather have as your father: the devil, a liar and a murderer; or God, the Truth and giver of eternal life? "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name". Jo 1:12 If you are not following Jesus, you are following something else, maybe you think that you are following the gods of gold and silver, like Judas, but Judas was really following a lie, he was following his father, the devil.
What else does Jesus has to do to catch your attention? He already gave Himself, His life, His body, His suffering and all His love to you. He wants God to be your Father. God wants to hear you call him Abba Father, He wants to free you from serving the other father, the devil. He wants to give you life, abundant life. He wants you to live so close to Him that His touch is visible and clear in so many occasions and let you watch Him working in your life in amazing ways, that you may truly see Him with your eyes as a child of God yourself.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
When the stretcher appeared at my unit corridor, I got a glimpse of the new patient being admitted, a girl mostly hidden under hospital sheets. Her face was also hiding behind a protection mask, from which only her half opened eyes could be seen. She was quickly brought to our special isolated room. Her fate for the next days was a heartbreaking picture.
I got dressed with all the available protection layers to enter the room and examine her. I felt obese wearing the extra pounds of clothing but there is no risk worthy being taken when so much information about this disease is still unknown. I would rather err wearing too much protection than too little.
I got a detailed report from the professionals that brought her in and a pile of documents and copies of exam results. Our staff doctor was also present to receive the information and pass it on to the specialists when they arrive to examine the girl. The information we received was very vague with no conclusive diagnosis; it would be our job to develop from that on. But even without a specific diagnosis, the nursing team had more than enough work to get done to improve the conditions of our new patient.
The next step was clear to me: to walk in the room and start the care. One step at a time towards whatever risk she posed to me, a practical act of faith in the protection barriers that were keeping me separated from the infecting agents that she carried. Hopefully it would be the beginning of her healing and not the end of my health!
Cautiously I opened the first door to her room, then the next, peeking inside as I moved closer. I wanted first to make her feel accepted and loved, with a warming welcome talk before even starting to prescribe nursing care. I knew the best care is the one that sees the other as a person, and not as a group of organs.
Her hair was spread on the pillow, many curls, dark as her eyes. Her skin, naturally tanned, was pale across her face, except around her eyes where dark circles made her appearance look sad. She kept coughing as I approached, bringing up the hard reality that her inside was probably looking very ugly.
I started the talk bringing up casual facts to sound less like a medical interview and more like meeting a new friend. Her name was Melissa.
"Hi Melissa, you have a very pretty name, you know?! I once heard that Melissa is the name of a beautiful plant with white flowers that calms people down, have you ever heard that"? I asked.
"No, I have not" she whispered back.
"That is what I heard... and I think you are also a beautiful girl as the flower and I am going to guess that you are also very calm."
Melissa, a nine year old girl, coughed and smiled: "Do you think so"? she asked.
"Of course, when I have some time I will try to get a picture of the plant Melissa with the beautiful flowers so you can see it for yourself, ok"? I added. She then kept talking between her coughing.
"My brother is not very calm, but I always listen to what my mom says."
I smiled back: "I am sure your mother is very proud of you"!
I kept the conversation on as I started to examine her, so that she would not feel too tense. I wanted to make sure she would not have any extra unnecessary anxiety to deal with. After I was done, I left her resting. I knew that soon the nurses on my team would start bringing in the medications and implementing direct care. We would do our best to treat her as a person and not as a scary disease.
I went back to my forms trying to describe all the aspects that I had just examined and come up with specific cares that would meet all her needs for the first 24 hours. As a side note I wrote down to remember to bring a picture of the plant Melissa for her to see. A little reminder that she was special and cared for and that we could start a little friendship that would go over all the scary protection gear.
What I told Melissa about her likeness to the plant was not untrue or just a way to make her feel better. Despite the sick look, her face transmitted peace and calm, just like the plant. The paleness on her skin and the shortness of breath saddened her facial expressions, but her eyes were still sending a special look around.
I have always been intrigued by the look inside the eyes of some of the children that I attend. Like if they were transmitting a message without words, that I have been trying to understand better lately. It is not easy to decode the message, but it seems that when I look right inside their eyes I become more connected with them, and they trust me more in response.
Deep inside, deeper than the pupil, there are imprisoned feelings, tied, trying to escape to the real world. Some children, after years of suffering because of a chronic disease, display opaque looks, weakened and conformed to the little light their hearts still carry, with feeble beats. Others, still filled with hope, irradiate an energy that longs to be freed from the disease. However, I can never forget that small percentage of children that do not transmit any look with their eyes. They live inside darkness, blinded by different causes, with eyes shut to light. Yet, even then, as I have learned with my brother, they can irradiate light and energy with their beings.
I wish I could share many more things with you, Dear Diary, but I am exhausted. I still have the energy, though, to thank you for your inspiration helping me to write my brother's story. The previous chapter was a proof of that, I could not stop typing!
Posted by Welcome to SipMom at 12:27 PM
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Motherhood used to be all about independence. About pushing children to the independence track so that they could start working in the fields as soon as possible, help around the house as soon as they could talk, take care of more responsibilities and require less care for themselves. And yet, it was about being independent to work, to produce and to help, but not to leave.
And by "to leave", I mean to leave the community, to leave the relationship with the extended family, to leave the family ties. Most people used to be born and die within the same small geographic area, and they would usually live with their families until it was time to start a family of their own, while still keeping the family ties.
Today, it seems to me that things have flipped up. Children are not encouraged to that same previous level of independence to help around the house and to assume many responsibilities. The parents role has become to provide to their children a great childhood experience, with lots of fun activities and entertainment. And yet, children are also pushed by society to become independent from the family ties, from the community and to leave.
And by "to leave", I mean to leave for college, to leave to live by themselves, to leave to experience other realities, achieve their own dreams. And while I am comparing both scenarios, I am not placing one in a better position than the other, as there are positive and negatives points to consider on both.
So what is the solution? From a Christian perspective I hope that my children will become as soon as possible very independent to help others, to start serving rather than being served all the time, to start practicing "He who is the greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves" Luke 22:26 But I would also like them to be encouraged to love God above family ties. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me". Matthew 10:37
I pray that their hearts may not be centered around their families or around themselves, but rather centered around Christ. And as a consequence they could serve both their families and their communities with gladness as serving Christ, while not being tied to the point of letting family and community keep them from serving Christ if He calls them to leave family.
That would be a true Independence Day for them: free to serve the only One worth of their service, of their lives, of their hearts. Near or far, wherever He leads them. Not seeking anyone's approval but His.