"Do you want the leftover last night for lunch?" I asked my son when he got home early from school. I had made something with beef for our dinner the night prior and approximately one more serving was left.
"Don't throw it away," I cautioned my two boys who ate a little later than me.
My son preferred the salad so I warmed up the beef and ate it with a little bit of rice. After cleaning up and as I sat down, I felt my eyelids became droopy until I couldn't fight the weariness from having lack of sleep last night. My son was studying until the clock hit a few minutes after midnight. I could hear him so I was tossing and turning. Not that he was noisy. I think it was because I was feeling sorry knowing how hard his classes were.
"Rest for now!" I warned him after taking the last bit of morsel from his lunch.
His rest meant doing something lighter in advance so he could get done with a project for his French class. There I was, dreaming in the mid of the day, sitting comfortably in the recliner upstairs. I surrendered to the aching desire to doze off for a little while after days of waking up so early, preparing sack lunches for my husband who would always leave way early every weekdays.
My husband's call advising me he was on his way home interrupted my nap. Though I sounded dazed to him, I felt a sense of renewal with my strength.
"There is balance with the LORD," I reminded my son.
"There is a time to work hard but it's also important to rest other times."
Jesus had shown how our spiritual lives needed refreshment from Him. He offers rest to those who are weary. (Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. - Matthew 11:28 NLT).
Then Jesus said, "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat. - Mark 6:31 NLT
In Jesus, we can learn to be content because He is our All-in-All. No one is ever turned away who desire to draw near Him. He can give everything that we need. Yet, with all of His bountiful blessings, it is good to learn not to throw away those extras that we don't need as many are in want. Who knows...What could have been thrown away now might be needed sometime in our future?
I was surprised to see him with the Acting Supervisor, wife of the current highest supervisor from our Healthcare Department. We both started around the same time 12 years ago. He was brought to my last meeting with 2 other people who held high positions. A tryst they planned thinking they would scare me by doing so.
I greeted them both as I sat on a nearby chair. Waiting for minutes and I arrived way early than their set time.They were late. He didn't know what to say. He couldn't look me in the eye. I sensed he wasn't comfortable. But I also understood that he needed to do what was being told to him in order to protect his own career. I never saw him after he was granted a higher position. He held an office upstairs, close to the highest Supervisor's room.
I was more calm during that time. Answering appropriately to their questions with no more anger as I had dealt with them with the previous 2 meetings that didn't make sense at all what they were doing with my job. They had put me to a tremendous pressure to make me quit on my own. But I never did. They had tried all sorts of plan even a forced leave to scare me. Such tactics didn't work as I clung more to Jesus' comfort and faithful promises.
They were all in that circle. Elevating each other by their praises. Giving their own selves a "pat on their own backs." I just looked at them in silence. But when I asked them something, a simple question, their answers were vague. If not, they didn't have an answer at all.
I felt good leaving the room as I said goodbye to four of them, wishing them a good day to which they didn't know how to react. I knew they knew in their hearts the ill treatments they had been giving me that I didn't deserve. They had nothing to show that I did anything wrong at my work during those years I had worked as a night nurse. They only threw one accusation about my neck injury. Except it was a lie. I didn't respond in anger anymore knowing I could prove it in God's perfect time. But I didn't want them to know I had that evidence. I left as I saw him fidgeting, tapping the pen in his right hand on the table as if it was a drum.
It had been almost a year since I battled with these people. The lesser hours that replaced my once steady shifts should have made me worried. It meant lesser income. But God turned it into good. It became an advantage as my husband became busier with his line of work. Our income was much lesser but God did sustain my family and I this whole time and to my disbelief, my husband and I were still able to help out his parents. I was never wrong about completely trusting in Him though it was difficult to not know what was coming. Day by day, He always replaced the uncertainties in every crevices of our hearts with His faithfulness, love, and grace.
"1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me." - Psalm 23:1-4 (NIV)
The help I sought would be starting anytime soon. Whether I would win or lose actually didn't matter anymore. I would rather rely more on the help that would come from His hands. What was a man's help? We are all humans and we know we are limited and we are all not perfect. Except Him.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
I thought he was different. Others from work did, too. That he would always do the right thing. But the influence of being swayed by a particular group made him like them, wanting to see things the way they desired. Even if it was wrong. They praised each other but elevating anyone or anything above God would make them blind to His love. They were trying to hurt me but spiritually, they didn't know, they were just hurting themselves as if they were sitting as they cut on this huge branch of a tree...My tree...Except the branch they were cutting was the very branch they were sitting on...
"All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together. The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint." - Isaiah 44:9-12 (ESV)
She was one of those who hurt and broke my heart from the past…It took me many years before I had forgiven her. Not because I wanted to. But because God compelled me to. That was the right thing to do as He willingly forgives. Not just once. Many times.
I found out she had said many lies behind my back. I welcomed her but she rejected me. My ways seemed not enough to please her. I felt I wasn’t good enough. No matter how hard I tried for her to love me and accept me. Until the pressure our strained relationship had started building up and was about to explode. I confronted her. She didn’t know what to say. She was surprised I knew about the things she used to break my heart. With lack of words to reason out, she shed big tears and said, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” As she attempted to wrap her arms around me.
Like a dam that broke and the water was released, a flood of anger broke through the walls erected in my heart as each season passed that I was with her in order to protect myself from the pain she caused…But with honesty, I told her I forgave her except…I was not willing to be hugged at that moment because deep inside, I sensed something. It was easier for her to say those words, “I’m sorry…” Only time would tell if she meant it. Years had gone by and this person had been miles away from me…I showed her that my trust then broken would never be the same. My heart. The reservoir for love was broken would still try to love her. Not because of her. Not because of me. It was because God wanted us to love others as well after Him. It wasn’t easy to follow what He wanted. To love even our enemies.
True enough, her words were empty. Her actions never matched what she uttered to me that day. It saddened me that she would choose to not change and be her old self. She allowed dividing walls in between us instead of a bridge. She succumbed to her refuge, a place of isolation.
How many times I did that to God? Easy for me to say “I’m sorry” then I find myself doing the very same things that I said “I was sorry for.” Except…He’s always willing to accept and forgive me. But He desires only one thing…To offer Him true repentance. What good would it do for me to utter those words and my inward thoughts and the condition of my heart do not match with “I’m sorry?” That would be simply a hypocrite thing to do…Oh, that I pray for my heart to always be quick to be torn when it stores things that God despises. True repentance from a broken heart also tears the heaven's door so love, grace and mercy can be poured out into those broken pieces in order for it to be healed...Yet it also seals Satan's door...
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” – Joel 2:13 (NIV)
“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
- Psalm 51:17 (NLT)
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” – Hosea 10:12 (NIV)
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
My friend and I were on our way to Costco to shop together. She had just upgraded her phone and I was glad she did as she was the type to not really care much about gadgets. But she knew the convenience in a way in keeping in touch with her relatives thousands of miles away. I had told her I prepared a list on my “sticky note” but we couldn’t find it in her widgets. So, after my son texted back the link, we were running out of time so I sort of nudged her to get up and hinted that it was time to go or else we would have very little time to get the things we needed.
I had passed by many aisles that housed some of the items I used to get. Unfortunately, they were not beneficial to our health. Like sweets. Salty cold cuts. Or other snacks that had no nutritional values. With my list, I got those few things on my 'sticky note' in just a matter of minutes.
“Done already?” my friend asked after we lost each other somewhere in the snacks aisles. Seeing that my cart was full, she was surprised I had already finished shopping. It was just full of the necessities that would not spoil like paper towels, dish soap and toilet paper.
“Yup,” I smiled at her, a little shy that I had left her when we enjoyed shopping together. I left her after I couldn’t find her. So, I found myself looking at my “sticky note” that came in very handy and prepared my decisions to not stray away from it…
“C’mon…I’ll still go with you and follow you to whatever you need…”
“That’s why I waited…I wanted to go shopping with you.”
Still surprised how I got done so quickly with shopping, off my friend went and pushed her cart ahead of me as I just browsed and kept pushing my cart without getting any other extras until we got to the cash register.
I don’t like gadgets, too. I’m not into widgets, apps or other things on the cell phone. If I’m able to send text messages and access my email, I’m happy. But I like that “sticky note”. When I pump gas and the pump is out of paper and won’t give me any receipts, I save the amount in my ‘sticky note’ so I can write it down later in my checkbook. When I need to get things from groceries, I use the ‘sticky note’. Very convenient sans a piece of paper and black pen.
The ‘sticky note’ prepares my heart ahead of time to choose wisely when shopping. It helps me be focused on just the needed items my family and I use.
As Christians, it’s just wise to prepare our hearts to be always strong and stable. The way we act and think are fueled from what’s stored in our hearts. The Most Special Guest resides in our hearts that we must aim in pleasing no one but Him…Jesus… We must replace the old sticky note in our hearts with a new one which make ourselves right with God. That is the necessary step.
“20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
His Word when etched in the sticky notes of our hearts will surely guide us and help us with our decisions. His Word will help us to fend the attacks of the evil one.
“15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)
So, I’m done shopping. Would you like to prepare a 'sticky note' and shop with me next time?
and store up my commands within you.
2 Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
3 Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.” – Proverbs 7:1-3 (NIV) -emphasis is mine...
One female inmate tried to fight with a unit deputy. With the imminent danger of having most of the inmates in the segment against one or two deputies, the pepper spray was deployed to prevent the combative inmate from harming the deputies. Nurses were summoned to assist with treating that particular inmate. Except…the other inmates from the bottom tier were also affected by the stinging aroma of the spray.
I just went back to the Clinic from that unit to bring some needed items for the nurse. I saw her shadow with what seemed to be gasping for air. I asked the Charge Nurse if I could help so she gave me her chart. She did have a history of Asthma. I immediately brought her in and reviewed the chart as I took her vital signs.
“I’m allergic to cinnamon and I think my throat is closing up,” she complained.
“Relax!” I commanded. “I saw that from your chart. Let me finish taking your vital signs…Take a deep breath!” I stated as I held the end of my stethoscope close to her chest and listened to her lungs expanded and deflated. I didn’t hear any abnormal sounds. As I took it away, I heard a more audible wheezing-like sounds coming from her nares. I knew she was doing it but I ignored her drama. I couldn’t ignore the fact that she still suffered from the pepper spray’s effects.
“Ma’am, I can’t breathe!” she wailed.
Putting my oxygen monitor in front of her, it was registering at 100%. A perfect amount of oxygen reading in her blood.
“See this?” She nodded before I even explained anything.
“That number means your lungs are well-ventilated. You need to relax…”
“But I’m allergic to cinnamon!” she whined.
“Ma’am…Cinnamon is not one of the ingredients in the pepper spray. But the pepper. It will hurt your vision though and your breathing because it can irritate your throat and that’s what you’re suffering from. Have you washed your face or rinsed your mouth?”
“I haven’t done anything.”
“Okay. Go to the restroom and wash your face really well to wash off some of it and rinse your mouth.” She obeyed. She sat down after, looking less anxious. I was glad she finally listened and chose to not be stuck with her thought that “cinnamon” from the spray bothered her. She gave me a smile as I handed a sack lunch I ordered from the prison’s kitchen. I decided to keep her temporarily until the problem in her unit got resolved. She took two puffs from the inhaler I issued and related how she was feeling much better.
That’s what humanity is. Stuck with our own thoughts. Our own ways. It’s easier to believe when we see proofs of our existence. Choosing to ignore that “faith” is not based on seeing things. Faith is a result of having a knowledge of knowing God first. We can’t challenge that the pepper spray doesn’t have cinnamon because that’s the truth. So, if that’s the truth, why argue?
“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” – John 14:17 (NLT)
“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 (NIV)
“The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 (NLT)
“Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.” – Proverbs 23:23 (NIV)
“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44 (NLT)
“I can’t believe my cousin had told my aunt that I said those things,” lamented a friend over the phone.
Her cousin was diagnosed with an illness. She called to try to comfort him. Instead, her words became like a sword that pierced and wounded her cousin’s heart. Because of what he was going through that he knew was just the start of his suffering, he must have misunderstood the meaning behind my friend’s words. Instead of feeling comforted, he got very upset and chose to distance himself from his cousin since.
I woke up this morning, my spirit feeling low knowing so many people around me and including myself, faced trials or sufferings. I wandered to the Book of Job. Knowing how much this man had gone through but despite him facing the worst calamities of life, he chose to never wane his faith and belief in one, true God. I wanted to not waver in my faith, too. Sometimes, it was not easy. I think I focused more on the wounds in my heart and that of others I loved. I saw myself with his cries:
“What are mere mortals, that you should make so much of us? For you examine us every morning and test us every moment. Why won’t You leave me alone – even for a moment? Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O Watcher of all humanity? Why have You made me Your target? Am I a burden to You? Why not just pardon my sin and take away my guilt? For soon I will lie down in the dust and die. When You look for me, I will be gone.” – Job 7:17-21 (NLT)
I stopped in the middle of those verses. I felt a conviction stirred inside of me. Why did those questions sounded like God was Job’s enemy? For He surely never felt that way for me. I don’t believe that God is amused when one is facing life’s toughest storms.
Like Job who hungered to know the reasons why bad things happened to him, it is by gaining wisdom that a person can truly understand why bad things happen. Even to good people. So, where does wisdom come from?
Job answered himself: “But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? For it is hidden from the eyes of all humanity. Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it. But Destruction and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of where wisdom can be found.’ (Job 28:20-22,NLT)
“God surely knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth, under all the heavens. He made the winds blow and determined how much rain should fall. He made the laws of the rain and prepared a path for the lightning. Then, when he had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. And this is what he says to all humanity:
‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’” – Job 28:23-28 (NLT) -emphasis is mine...
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. We are limited with answers. But God is not. He is the Source of wisdom. If He is, then I must continue to respect and revere Him because that’s only the beginning…Of finding true wisdom that this world doesn’t know…Because when one is able to find true wisdom, he can see bad things as opportunities instead to turn to God, the One Who knows everything, for strength and to be able to endure. When he can trust God when in pain, confusion, loneliness, depression, then he can win the victory and repel the darts of doubt that the devil throws to those who love God.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." - John 16:33(NLT)
Down on my knees and in desperation, my heart cried for help. I tried to be as quiet as I should be so as not to disturb the others in the house I was living in. Darkness covered the entire room where I was kneeling on the floor, my cheeks and eyes soaked with tears. It had been many years of loneliness, of feeling alone. It had been years of endless struggles to finish Nursing in a foreign land. It had been years of suffering and treading through the waters without any relief on sight.
“I’m sorry…”I whispered without allowing the forming sobs to be audible. The beams from the moonlit night penetrated the sole window in that room I was in…
“Please help me! I don’t think I can go on any longer…” I uttered softly.
“Could it be?” I asked myself…
“That I am in love? Just like that? How could it be?” as I felt something heavy got lifted up into the air and vanished. My shoulders became strong. My heart felt light. My tears of despair, replaced with an unfamiliar feeling. Of joy!
I did not know how long I was in that position with bended knees and neck flexed low. I looked up and there up on the wall, I saw the moonlight illuminated a face. Jesus’…
That was the early 90’s…To this day, I’m still very much in love. With Jesus. Because His love touched me. Love that is not comparable to the kind of love this world teaches or knows. His love frees. His love is true. His love is everlasting. His love is faithful. His love knows no bounds. His love is high. His love is deep. His love wide. His love is long…
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
What does being a Christian mean?
What does it mean to “walk the talk?”
What does it mean “to willingly serve?”
But there’s this question for everyone…
“How much do you know about Jesus?”
“Jesus…the lover of our souls…”
Help me to know more about You, Jesus…Draw me near to You…Thank You for Your unconditional love…
Looking through the inmates’ eyes as they tell me “God bless you!” I am always careful when to respond back or not. Someone can sense the sincerity or lack of it if certain words are spoken.
Working for 12 years now in a correctional setting, I used to pass medications in a particular facility for almost a year. There, I learned through inmates what their “lingo” meant.
“Be careful, Nurse Rcubes,” warned one long ago.
“Others who tell you ‘God bless you’ doesn’t mean it is what they hope for you…They will say that with you thinking how respectful of them to you...but the meaning was the opposite...So,they won't get in trouble..."
“What do you mean?” I probed after he downed the prescribed pills I handed to his open right palm and as he quickly took a sip of water from his small, brown cup, he tried to explain…
“Well, it can also mean that they are cursing you by saying that…”
“Ahhh…Okay…I got it. Thanks!”
“Look who’s here!” exclaimed one from the back of the line as everyone slowly got up at the wee hours of the morning to get their pills from me.
“It’s the pusher!” he joked around.
I kept giving the medications to those ahead of him until it was him who was in front of me.
“What did you say about me?”
“I was just joking, Ma’am.”
“Well, I don’t appreciate it. I’m not a ‘pusher’. I want you to know that I am doing an important job of giving prescribed medications to all those who need it. Including you. There was nothing funny about what you said.”
He smirked. Got his pills. Thanked me. And said….
“God bless you…”
I kept silent. He didn’t expect that. As one tall man behind him with closed fists whispered to his neck, “You better apologize to this nurse.” He turned around, ready to fight back. Only to find out that he was facing a giant. A lot bigger than him. He cowered and apologized immediately. My protector was one of the long-time incarcerated male who happened to have a heart problem. I made sure that he always got his pills on time and before they would run out, I made sure the doctor already had reordered them. Expected role I needed to accomplish. But a big thing to him who was in need and learned to appreciate that.
Good and evil simply don’t mix. God is holy and righteous…
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.” – Luke 11:24 (NIV)
“See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” – Luke 11:35 (NIV)
“You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the LORD's sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, "Where is the God of justice?" – Malachi 2:17 (NLT)
I was still trying to finish a particular inmate’s medical chart after seeing him when I saw the Charge Nurse opening an envelope that had the ER doctor’s orders in it. I knew that another inmate had just arrived from the hospital.
“Let me just finish my charting and I can see her,” I told the Charge Nurse.
Seeing I was so busy, it was nice enough for her to take the inmate’s vital signs and so I didn’t need to do anything but just take care of the orders. Except…I still wanted to see her and make sure she was okay because the charting of our observations would fall on me then. I didn’t want to write “inmate without distress and doing well” without even seeing her even though the other nurse had seen and already talked with her.
She went out for vaginal bleeding. 3 months on the way. 9th pregnancy as I recalled. Looking tired, she was dressed up in those blue paper gowns except her back was not showing. Everything was paper even her shoes.
“What happened? Are you okay?” I asked as she looked up and gave me a weary smile.
“I’m fine now, Nurse. I bled a lot earlier,” she replied.
“Are you still bleeding a lot now? Are you still having pain?” I asked with deep concern knowing how the Charge Nurse had passed on to me that she felt that ER had returned her to the prison so soon.
“I’m not bleeding as much now, Nurse. My tummy is okay,” she reassured me instead.
“Any stress from your unit or from home that could be the source of your worries?” I asked (It became my routine to ask any inmates this kind of question to probe more as sometimes, the true source of their sufferings which are the not so obvious ones are not known).
“It’s my first time here, Ma’am. Do you know that it’s an assault to use that Mace?”
“If not used properly, yes, I know…”I paused to give her more room to allow her to vent her anger if she wanted to.
“My niece and I had a fight and she was about to attack me. So, I had to defend myself and I pressed on that Mace to ward her off from hurting me…Guess who got arrested? Of course, me!” she uttered with disbelief.
“I’m so sorry that happened. Thank you for telling me. I know it’s easier said than done but I want you to concentrate on healing and focusing on what is in you if you want this baby.”
“I do,” she quickly replied.
“Just be careful next time and while you’re in here, I want you to know that you can ask your unit to call us if there would be any further bleeding or other symptoms you feel are not right. Even if you’re not sure.”
“Thank you,” she replied with a wave of calmness coating her words.
As I had been going through a tough battle regarding my career in the prison against some of the highest seated people who wanted to end my career without any valid reasons, I almost had the tendency to use the wrong weapons at the beginning to repel them. I could have been gossiping, remained angry, and unforgiving. Wrong weapons not provided by God in such unseen battles. It had been a little over a year now and even if I awaited some help from another agency, God reminded me all this time that the battle had been on His hands and the weapons were readily available for me to use.
Using my own strength will never accomplish anything. Keeping God’s weapons inside will just leave me vulnerable to the enemies’ attacks. But used defensively, the enemies’ darts of lies, doubts or temptations are actively repelled. (Glory be to God!).
“11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” – Revelation 19:11-13 (NIV) –emphasis is mine…
“17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
"That was embarrassing. That whatever reason I sent the inmate for, he was treated for something else."
She just smiled but knew where I was coming from as she also went through that somehow, as our county hospital sometimes fails to evaluate the sick inmates further. The hospital sometimes doesn't understand that our prison is not equipped with other medical stuff needed to treat the sick inmates.
I saw his figure disappeared behind the restroom in the waiting area. Upon emerging, he was fixing the strands of his dark hair with his hands on each side of his head. His hair very wet from the water he doused it with.
He was only 24. Well-built. Tall. Scanning his medical chart prior to his arrival in Infirmary, I gathered he often came complaining of chest pain. Always demanding that he needed to have a cardiac echo done because someone told him he had some heart issues. Evading the symptoms and the demands he started whining about, I explained that I was not ignoring his complaint of chest pain but I was trying to rule out if there were any other possible causes as no cause was ever found out anyway from the last time he made a trip to ER.
"You know, like what were you doing prior to having this pain?" I continued...
"Were you exercising heavily or some other games in the yard?"
"I told you, Nurse. I was just resting on my bed." Then, he paused as if he didn't want to spill the next words.
"2 days ago, yes, I did 200 burpees...But I didn't want to go to the hospital so I didn't complain," he softly uttered though it was only him and I chatting in front of the Exam Room I already opened and with the EKG machine nearby.
I asked him to urinate and tested his urine for presence of blood. The urine dipstick came back positive for a large amount of blood. I sensed he could be having Rhabdo. So I decided to send him out with the help of our Transportation Deputy.
When he got back from being treated in ER, most of written notes were about his heart. Nothing was addressed regarding the symptoms I suspected. He probably demanded for his heart to be examined more that all the doctor's orders were about having cardiac echo and that he had a history of Congestive Heart Failure. Yet, all the exams they did were marked normal, including his urine dipstick.
"How could that be?" I asked the Charge Nurse.
"Either there was something wrong with my eyes because I saw the result or there was something wrong with our test strips." She didn't know what to say.
As I talked to the inmate prior to sending him back to his unit, he thanked me and that he said he felt much better. I reassured him but couldn't help and asked him if they said anything regarding the "burpees" he did. He didn't say anything but..."Oh yeah, the nurse there did tell me that I had a little bit of blood in my urine but it should be okay."
I already knew. He didn't say anything about those exercises he did and kept on insisting regarding his heart condition though nothing was previously found at a well-known hospital.
As I kept writing about all my observations and the inmate's statement in his chart, I noticed how the ER doctor had noted that he was diaphoretic (sweating profusely) when he wasn't as I examined him. It dawned on me that he went to the restroom twice and kept wetting his hair. I warned the other nurses because of the possibility of him always coming down for complaints of chest pains. I left a note inside the chart to observe him if he would do that behavior again to make it look like he was in distress.
Just like that inmate, we all make demands in our prayers to God. We want things to happen our way without understanding first that He has the best reasons even when we don't understand why things happen in our lives. We often think about ourselves and always forget to think about what God wants from us. What we want seems to be complicated at times. What God wants from us is one and plain simple:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30 NIV)
It is only by putting Him first in our hearts that our lives will be in order.
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
- Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
– Psalm 119:105 (NLT)
“I feel bad now…I shouldn't have asked you to go there...” commented a friend on the other line.
We had gone to a favorite cupcake shop and I had been saying “No” to her prior to our arrival that I made up my mind...I wouldn’t buy anything for me and my family so I requested for her not to buy anything for us knowing how generous she always was.
As I turned off the car’s ignition and headlights, the slight darkness of the night surrounded us but the long line of people inside the well-lit bakery didn’t miss our attention. I felt a rush of excitement came over me, anticipating what flavors were offered last night.
“I’ll just stay here in the car!” I advised my friend who already opened the passenger door. I knew it was better for me to not even go through that glass door knowing the sweet aroma of cupcakes would greet anyone. But I wanted to be with my friend. I didn’t want to let her go by herself. This was one of our times together that we always shared.
“Give me 2 red velvet and 1 dark chocolate,” I ordered.
My friend insisted on sharing with the ones she bought so I could save the ones I got for my family. I had a little bit of the red velvet cupcake she got. It was delicious. Not too sweet. Still…
“Don’t feel bad now!” I quickly replied.
“I’m just saying that my family and I are trying to cut down on sweets. Of course, I enjoy going there with you,” I reassured.
As I said “Good Night”, I thought about my own life.
How often I venture into those lit-up places of this world, mimicking His Light. Everything looks good. But actually harmful in the end. But God has given His guidance through His Word and if I don’t equip myself with His Word, that’s how I fall and head toward those kinds of guided directions but altered because of my wrong choices. If I hunger instead for His Word (guidance), by His grace and mercy, I should be able to share that with others instead who need guidance like me. I was once lost and still get lost at times. It is only by His grace I am able to finish this journey. It is only with the help of the True Light of this world...Jesus...
“Oh Lord, please direct my ways. Always lead me in Your truth!”
Thy Word lyrics
Songwriters: Smith, Michael W; Grant, Amy;
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
When I feel afraid
And think I've lost my way
Still, You're there right beside me
Nothing will I fear
As long as You are near
Please be near me to the end
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
I will not forget
Your love for me and yet
My heart forever is wandering
Jesus by my guide
And hold me to Your side
And I will love You to the end
Nothing will I fear
As long as You are near
Please be near me to the end
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path
And a light unto my path
You're the light unto my path
The Attacker (5/15/09)
The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies.
Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.
Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.
When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.
The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.
When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himself and ended up injuring his attacker severely.
[Source: NLT Bible ]:
We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14
Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].
Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.
Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.
Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].