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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Holding On

Last time we were in the States we had a slide show to the tune of "hold on, to the One who's holding you . . ."  Because holding on seems to be about as much as we can manage, and even that is only possible because we're held.

This has not been an easy term.  Life seems to escalate week by week, and we've found ourselves way too scattered.  This weekend has been a welcome respite of breathing space, and offered some reflection on survival.

So I offer these holding-on points.

First and foremost, transformation from within, which if you read this sign you'll see is the theme for the year for Kijabe hospital.  This was from last week's chapel.  I'm reading, slowly, Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.  I've become harried and distracted and not very nice a lot of the time.  I need a heart that dwells with God to hold on through the days.

Second, thankfulness.  As I rush back and forth from hospital to home  I have been trying this week to call to mind something to be thankful for.  I think I'm like this preterm baby (born in a car, but doing quite well).  I think my little incubator world is all there is, and take for granted that someone will provide all the necessities of life from outside.  But one day this baby will leave his box, and one day we'll see the reality of eternity and how limited our view was in expecting all our needs to be met.  So I'm trying to remember to practice thankfulness.

 Third, sharing the battles.  This is Erika, treasure hunting.  As in cleaning out boxes of disorganized medical supplies to find the treasures therein.  To hold on requires friends, and she has been a great friend these last six months.  Last weekend I was on call and it just felt like everything fell apart.  The monitors were beeping without stop, the nursing staffing was inadequate, the casualty paged the wrong numbers for a code, a crib we sent for repair came back still in dangerous condition, I went to a delivery for a baby with meconium and the proper equipment was missing (the baby was fine), and on and on.  Monday I said to Erika, I can plow through the details of the medical care for these 20 or 30 babies, or I can fight the long-term battles of organization and equipment and nursing and politics.  But I really don't think I can do both.

Her own departure had been successfully delayed by two weeks (YEAHH).  So as I did rounds this week, in she came to plunge into all the other muck.  Lo and behold, she got these guys from biomed to come in and fix the lights on our warmers.  I got the nurses to replace all the monitor probes, and when one baby's jaundice just wouldn't improve we got that light changed too.  We met with the nursing director yet again about staffing.  Erika found TWO of the small missing pieces of suction equipment I needed.  She's made tremendous progress on locating a piece of lab equipement within the realms of possible fund-raising affordability that would greatly improve care.  And on and on.

The point is, the battle is a strenuous and unending one, and we all need champions.  I'm thankful for our tremendous paeds team.

 Fourth, family. Mine are an anchoring reality of love and belonging.  Here is Julia with the girls' varsity soccer team at our house for their end-of-season pizza party.  She was given the "St Peter Award", for being a key ROCK on which the team was built.

My rock is Scott, and I am blessed by all my kids.

(Jack's friends Rich and Ali "helping" him with a homework problem while Acacia looks on)

And speaking of thankfulness AND family, here is Caleb at the Recognition Dinner, the milestone of making it through the 9 months of being a first year cadet and being fully accepted into the USAFA.  We are very very proud of his perseverance through difficulty and of the hard work he's put into school and into his physical therapy for healing his knee.
 Lastly, nature.  There is something about a hike that restores the soul.  Acacia gamely went on a long wander with me this week, climbing the ridge above the school on newly forged paths.  We almost got lost, but we managed to find our way back eventually.  The scramble, the breathlessness (me), the sunshine, the happy dogs, the forest, the Longonot view, the refreshing absence of noise and people and instead the peace of the woods and wind.
So, inner spiritual strength, thankfulness, shared battles, the foundation of family, and hours in nature. Five ways to hold on.

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