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Loving Babies at the (City Name Removed) Children’s Hospital

(Updated 1/27/18 to remove specific details)

I have volunteered for two shifts now at the (City Name Removed) Children’s Hospital through (Organization Name Removed) Romania and I feel like I am beginning to understand the process and definitely felt more comfortable today. Tomorrow, I work my first shift at the special needs orphanage in (City Name Removed). To be honest, I am concerned that this will be much harder for me than the hospital and I am trying to understand God’s purpose for bringing me here.

The verse that keeps going through my mind is Luke 10:42, “but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” This verse is from when Jesus is visiting Martha and Mary and Martha is busy attending to all of the tasks that need to be done, whereas, Mary is sitting at the foot of Jesus, enjoying Him. Needless to say, Martha is not very happy about this, but Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen what is best.

I’ll be the first to admit, I am a Martha. I like to get things done. I see a problem; I solve the problem, as quickly and accurately as possible. There are times that I am content “to be”, but most of those are in situations where there is nothing I can “do”.

I wonder if God is trying to show me that it’s okay to just be there for these babies? I was at peace with the idea of that prior to arriving here, but it’s been hard to see things that can be done to improve the situation – at least from my perspective, and not be able to do a darn thing about anything.

I do see the improvements that (Organization Name Removed) has made for the conditions of the babies here in (City Name Removed). From what I have heard of how things used to be, (Organization Name Removed) has made so many great strides. They provide all of the diapers for the babies who do not have parents staying with them at the hospital. The love on these babies every day, sharing the love of Christ with those who need it most. They minister to the workers of the hospital. They are deeply involved in the lives of these children, trying to help the children of the community make better choices and become more educated. They do so many wonderful things.

They are doing the best they can to work within the constraints of this hospital system. For instance, they have tried to increase the number of diaper changes per day (it was shocking for me to learn that this is a scheduled event – very hard to grasp), but the hospital does not have the personnel resources to accommodate this. So, babies continue to be changed four times per day, on a schedule, not necessarily when they need it.

The more I think about it, maybe this is as good as it gets – and it’s definitely better than the alternative, or the way things used to be. Maybe pushing too much for change would close the door and take away all of the amazing things this ministry has been able to do. Maybe it’s best to look at how much (Organization Name Removed) has done to improve a bleak situation, rather than how much more these poor babies need. Perspective is everything, right?

Maybe my expectations of the situation are out of whack. This is not America; perhaps it’s wrong to assume that babies will be cared for according to the standards of America, or my personal standards. Romania is a different culture; they do things differently. Maybe different isn’t wrong, it’s just different…

There’s this sweet little girl that I met yesterday in the respiratory unit. She has big brown eyes and beautiful brown hair. I don’t know her name – I heard several different names used for her, and I am not sure which one is correct. She appears to be around 2 years old to me. She was hooked up to an IV line yesterday and just cried and cried in her baby bed. She wouldn’t come to anyone. I assume her parents are involved in her life because she was crying for mama. Or, at least I hope they are, and just not with her in the hospital for whatever reason.

Today, when I went in that room, I saw the baby I held yesterday was sleeping peacefully. The little girl was no longer attached to the IV line and just had the port in her hand. I took the opportunity to try and connect with her, and I did. She was so sweet, quiet, smart, and very independent. She was also very mature and emotionally strong.

When the nurses came in to check her for lice, give her a breathing treatment, and give her medicine, she cried briefly, but handled each issue like a champ. She even held her nebulizer in front of her mouth and nose completely on her own. I am so impressed by this little girl.

She was very shy at first, but eventually she agreed with play with a toy. I read to her, but she wouldn’t do the tactile things in the book. She was tentative, but at the same time, she was so secure just being next to me. We just sat on chairs next to each other for the longest time. When the nurses would come in, she would cling to me. It was so sweet, but at the same time, my heart breaks for this little girl.

It was hard to put her back in the baby bed, and she cried both times i had to. I wanted to cry too because I knew she was just going to lie in that bed and cry herself to sleep, at least until the next (Organization Name Removed) volunteer came to love on her. She’s the kind of kid I wish I could take home with me.

I was happy when the nurses came in to listen to her with a stethoscope. They seemed happy with her progress. I hope that means she will be able to go home soon and not have to be confined to a baby bed. I know nothing of this girl’s family life; I just know she’s in the hospital and appears to be unattended by her family. I pray she has a loving family who just can’t be there for her at the hospital, despite wanting to. I pray this sweet little girl finds her way in this complicated world.

Marriage is Not Fair – and it’s Not Supposed to Be

I have been married a little over four months now, and have just come to the conclusion that marriage is not fair!  Thinking back to the days before Mike and I started dating, I remember my friend Kelly telling me that marriage is God’s way to teach you to not be selfish.  I don’t think I fully appreciated the truth in those words, but I’m starting to get it now…. finally!  I guess I’ve always been a slow learner!

The transition to where we are now has been difficult; I don’t think I realized how hard it would be.  He’s an amazing man; I’ve never loved someone this wonderful before; our strengths and weaknesses perfectly complement each other; he loves my kid; I love his kids; what could possibly go wrong?

Well, it turns out – a lot…..

Moving, reducing household “stuff”, selling a house, sharing a room – a bed – and having different evening routines, blending finances, navigating hobbies and separate time, realizing you handle many things quite differently, but sometimes react to problems in exactly the same not-so-great emotional way – Yep, it’s hard when you’re almost 40 years old and you’ve never done this before!  I think the kids have done amazingly at becoming brothers.  I think Mike has been patient with me and as understanding as humanly possible.  Unfortunately, I think I’ve been a mess – and I’m afraid that’s going to continue until I figure all of this out.  But, it makes sense – Marriage is the answer to selfishness and I have almost 40 years of selfishness to work through!

I realized last night that many of my frustrations are based upon my perception of things not being fair…. The kids not being treated equally, different rates of progress merging the household stuff, outside “separate” interests and my unfortunate lack thereof, different priorities in spending, etc. – None of these things are bad, we just see and react to things differently.  But, it becomes a problem when I get mad that things aren’t fair and then, I want to try and control the situation to make it more equitable, from my rather biased perspective.  So, I question, challenge, and criticize; maybe he will change to be more in line with my thinking?  However, I recognize that as controlling, so I try not to take it too far.  Maybe the answer is focusing more on “finding myself”?  Perhaps I need more hobbies, maybe I need to spend more money on myself, etc?  Truthfully, maybe I do need to develop some hobbies or rekindle the ones I used to have that are appropriate within a marital relationship.  Maybe I do need to figure out who I am, since once I met this amazing man, my number one interest has been him.  However, while those things may be important, they are really missing the point completely.

Showing love is about me putting Mike’s needs and desires ahead of my own – always, not just when I agree with them.  If something is important to him, it should be important to me.  If he wants to “do”, “spend”, “act” in a particular way, I need to encourage that as his wife and not be mad when it doesn’t seem fair based on my limited perspective.  My job is to love Mike unconditionally, not only when it feels good or is in line with my thinking.  Respecting Mike means trusting that he will love and cherish me in everything he does and, more importantly, trusting that God will work on him if he doesn’t.  It isn’t my place to help God with Mike’s spiritual maturity.  I have plenty of my own growth to worry about.  40 years of selfishness… That’s where my focus should be.

The point is that no one ever said marriage is fair and it’s not supposed to be.  Marriage is based on unconditional love, the kind of love that Jesus showed us when he died on the cross.  Giving up His perfect life to save me from the penalty of my enormous sin problem certainly wasn’t fair to Him at all.  Marriage isn’t about what’s fair – it’s about love… selfless, giving, patient, kind, enduring love.  That should be the only thing that matters to me.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV)