Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sum Ting Wong

The day started with an ice coated car and went down hill from there. My first patient of Pet Dental Health Month was a sweet, but shy cat with teeth like Swiss cheese, very sore gums and a bad case of “dog breath”. To date no one knows why cats get these cavities, known as FORLs (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions) after all most don’t drink soda or eat candy. But Iggy needed a full mouth extraction. Everything except his canines and incisors had to go. He’d be gumming it, but once healed would be a lot more comfortable.

My other patients had much better mouths but much worse attitudes. One repeatedly jumped for the ceiling at just the wrong moment during intravenous catheter placement. Gorgeous boy, “Sum Ting Wong” was also having none of this catheter stuff. After an especially memorable “cat tantrum”, my extraordinarily patient technician muttered “Should have called you “Sum Ting Bad”.

Eventually anesthesia was achieved but the brand new dental unit decided not to work. The old model had been temperamental and while we could scale and polish beautifully, the idea of attempting multiple extractions without a working drill was not pleasant. Did I then: Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits? (Psalm 103:2)

Was I still before the LORD, willing to wait patiently for him? Psalm 37:7 NIV

Did I “do all things in the Lord without grumbling or questioning? Philippians 2:14


I did not. I grumbled, I questioned, I spoke in judgment, not patience. And then I was mad at myself for not letting my light shine, but instead succumbing to darkness. It’s just so much more satisfying to grumble when things aren’t going the way they’re supposed to. But not the attitude of gratitude my daily blessings deserve. Something wrong indeed.


Our hard-working hospital manager got the unit purring and the extractions went without a hitch. Iggy recovered uneventfully, spacey from his pain meds. “Sum Ting’s” jaw growth turned out to be a metal pellet that was easily removed. He must have had it for years because he’d been an indoor cat since his owner had adopted him. (He preferred to stay under his towel, thank you very much, until Mom came to pick him up.)


And I proceeded to thank my colleagues and declare “No more grumbling”. And then to Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Psalm 103:1 because Blessed is (s)he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Glimpses of Glory

Jan 22, 2011

How often do I notice the still, small voice of the Spirit? I determine to spend time reading the Bible or meditate on a remembered verse. I start to pray. How long before I am distracted and move back to worldly pursuits. I feel myself glimpsing the glory of God for just a moment and then it’s lost. I look up and see the stars of Orion burning intensely in the night as I take out the trash.

I marvel for a moment at the nature of that light (wave or particle?) that traveled so long to reach my eyes. For a few heartbeats I think of the One who set them in the universe by the power of His voice. Who formed the pattern that captures my attention and holds all things in stability or dissolution by the weak and strong forces and the power of light.

And then, because it’s cold out I have to go inside. Have dinner. Watch television. But however strong the pull of the world, I will remember

he who made the Pleiades and Orion , who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land-- the LORD is his name—

And I will praise Him!

 (By the way, don't make yourself crazy trying to see the constellation, Orion, in the above picture. I couldn't find one not under copyright, this is a detail of fireworks just to set a mood--use your imagination or just go outside on a clear night. Orion now rises in the east after sunset in northeast US. The Pleiades sit higher in the east above Taurus, the sideways "V" shaped bull and towards Casseopeia in the north.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Robins in the Snow

What’s with all the robins these days? I looked up while walking a path through snow covered fields and a whole flock of them took off into a nearby tree. (Did I have my camera with me?  Noooooo, of course not!) “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be harbingers of spring—it’s only January!” My understanding is that robins don’t migrate, they advance and retreat according to weather fluctuations. “Hello? It’s snowing and below freezing—no bugs, no earthworms, what are you guys going to eat?”

I don’t know what the robins are doing, perhaps because there are so many of them, there is not enough space in their usual winter habitats. Or maybe they’re just misguided, following bad directions or not paying attention to the signs. But I know how easy it is to lose my way.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

Is Jesus always my way, or do I sometimes follow paths that look wide and easy? Is he my life or am I living for things I want to do or have?

Lord Jesus, forgive me for following idols or being slow to trust you. I know that what comes my way is your perfect will for me. I know that you are with me every step of the way. Lord, please give me the discernment I need. Help me to see what the robins do. You are the only way I need and life in you is abundant; a blooming garden in the midst of a snowstorm. Amen  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rocks in Remy

I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

The Lord was indeed before me as I looked at Remy’s x-ray. This is Remy.

He’s a cuddly, 10 week old rottweiler pup who had slipped on the ice and was limping. His left hip was painful on extension and the right one wasn’t much better. I was worried about the possibility of hip dysplasia causing problems as he got older and a lot bigger. His concerned owners agreed to x-rays. But we were more surprised by his belly than his hips. 

It seems he'd been busy nibbling on pebbles in the garden.

This is Remy’s abdomen. I was a little nervous at the prospect since a lengthy surgery on such a young pup was not ideal. But he was a tough little guy and the owners wanted the best for him.

I can do all things ithrough Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

So I started him on intravenous fluids and pain meds and operated later that day. My tech was a whirling dervish, as she adjusted anesthesia, checked his fluids, blood pressure, breathing and monitored oxygenation and CO2 output. At one point she had to stimulate an accupunture point and breathe for him when I was unhappy with his carbon dioxide number. Meanwhile, I was wrist deep in his belly milking stones into his descending colon. I needed to take one large one out of his stomach, and carefully check the entire length of his intestine, but after closing him up it was enema time! After making sure he was as empty, warm and comfortable as I could make him and reporting to his relieved owners (and catching up on 2 hours of paperwork) I headed home.

I made it just as the snow was starting to fall heavily. In my prayers before bed I asked God for mercy for an elderly friend whose husband was coming home with multiple medical problems and I didn’t know how she would manage. I prayed for another friend longing for a baby and undergoing testing and for the many out of work. I asked for comfort and strength for the mother whose young son was in jail, but hopefully growing in wisdom through the process and for another whose son struggled with addiction. For unity in Christ and hope and healing for this world.

 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:10

And finally, for one sore, little puppy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekend of Wonders

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. Psalm 9:1

It’s been a long working weekend full of wonders. First, a collection of mostly, healthy patients filled the appointment slots—woo hoo! A lovely, very mellow, gray cat, who was almost wearing his soft carrier rather than being carried in it. “Chunky” a wagging-tailed yellow Lab who was, in fact, chunky. Squirmy little “Lino” glared at me with suspicion but allowed a physical and vaccinations. I loved this guy: “Mikey” who had been neutered the previous day and needed to be examined in order to go home. All he wanted to do was play and chew my stethoscope! “Well, you’re obviously good to go”, I told him. Finally, late that evening, tired and hungry, I stepped outside to find it had snowed all day. One of the kennel staff had not only shoveled the parking lot but cleaned off my car for me. How cool is that?! 

After dinner, I felt peace wash over me as I worked on a drawing of a fat-tailed gecko. No I am not making this up. I remember holding it in my hands at a ‘kids and critters’ demonstration in September. (I, of course, was in line with all the kids to touch or hold all the critters). I marveled at how soft it was and how delicate were its tiny fingers. My husband and I had watched a little girl near us, watching the creature with rapt fascination in her eyes. The joy in her face was a pleasure to see. Surely we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” from the least of God’s creatures to the most majestic. For me, to care for them and see that love in others is to feel God’s presence. Therefore, tired or not:

I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:2

Friday, January 7, 2011

Overwhelmed or My Brain is Leaking Out of My Ears!

…In the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7

I was two or three patients behind, couldn’t find the record I had had in my hand, just 2 seconds ago. The adorable spaniel with a sprained shoulder needed to have been checked out half an hour ago. I was as overwhelmed as I used to be when tumbled by an extra tall wave as a kid at the Jersey shore. I couldn’t catch my breath, “I feel as though bits of my brain are leaking out my ears!” I exclaimed. “I’ll catch them and put them back!” laughed one of my technicians as she cupped her hands beside my head. “Breathe, just take a breath” said the other one later that same night when the cases still kept coming. Everyone was limping or itching, had lost too much weight or too many platelets or was pooping too much or too little.

At 10 pm the door was locked, the phones turned over and everyone gone but me and a colleague. We still had records to update, x-rays to review and phone calls to make. And both fluid pumps were beeping. I untangled I V lines, flushed catheters and reset the pumps, then called home to let my husband know I wasn’t lying in a ditch somewhere. Would this day ever end?

The next day I almost fell asleep checking in for a mammogram, although being squashed like an orange in a juicer woke me up nicely. On the way home I stopped at the park. As I stood gazing at the patterns in the ice on the lake, I could feel my soul being restored. And yet I realized that I had been sustained all along. Lifted up by my hard-working technicians who never complained as I handed them three more things to do every 5 minutes. Supported by a colleague just as tired as I but still willing to discuss a case and comforted by a welcoming husband when I finally made it home. God’s presence is with me even when I’m too distracted or tired to notice so I will praise Him!

By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:8a, 11

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Grace in the OR

Grace in the OR

Ok, I’m not performing brain surgery, but I still obsess over drug dosages for anesthesia and pain control. I may be doing an ovariohysterectomy in a cat or extracting molars from a dog, but I’m watching the monitors and fluid rates like a hawk. Each patient is someone’s “baby” and for those moments, they’re mine too. So I ask the God who knows when even a sparrow falls for help.

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation Psalm 5:3

For the big ones like the 130 pound Newfoundland that jumped out of a moving car window and broke her leg a month ago. The local referral surgeon put her leg back together so all I had to do yesterday was clean her teeth, take x-rays to check her healing and change the bandage (and large molded splint) that kept her from disaster. Because she is one big, happy, goofball, whose goal in life is to jump up, knock down and cover with wet, sloppy kisses anyone within her reach. It took three of us to get her up onto the surgery table and we all needed chiropractic adjustments after positioning her to get everything done. Ten pound “Oliver” was much easier to maneuver and we mainly had to watch “Musya” during recovery because she is such a tiny cat she tended to disappear under the blankets.

I prayed for God to bless the work of my hands and give me wisdom as I scrubbed in and to watch over us all until everyone was safely awake and comfortable. And he did. For which I am filled with gratitude.   

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalm 5:11

Monday, January 3, 2011

Grounded in the Floods

So often I find myself dwelling on the negative; praying for dear friends or family that are going through this or that struggle. Or I’m feeling overwhelmed and asking for strength to get past yet another ordeal at work. The floods are coming and chunks of my world are floating downstream!

But a recent conversation with my sister just lifted me up. A busy mother of two, she battles proverbial floods every day. She said this year she has “resolved to be happy in my own skin”. No longer obsessing and stressing about what should be, but accepting what is and going forward from there.

There is the presence of God. I hear him in her voice telling me to accept each circumstance as his will for me. To keep turning my mind back to him instead of letting frustration rise and overtake my peace. To remember that my foundation is sunk deep in the rock of Jesus, therefore I will stand.  

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.
48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. Luke 6:47,48

Lord Jesus, thank you for my sister and all the people you send to bless and lift me up. Keep me grounded in you today and let me be a blessing to someone, too. Amen.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Time Dilation

Jan 2, 2011

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the LORD a day is like a thousand years, a thousand years like a day. Peter 3:8

Well so much for discipline. A brand new year and I was determined not to lose control of my day. The whole morning stretched out before me. I was going to take a walk in the sun and look for the presence of God in the peace of a sleeping neighborhood. Just as soon as I: went through my e-mail, paid the bills, updated my art pages, uploaded the holiday photos, put dinner in the crock pot, vacuumed the floors, cleaned the fish tank and of course worked on my next painting.

Hah! As usual, I ran out of day, couldn’t get the pump to work right, never got half-way through my list before the clouds rolled in and the sun (if it had been visible) had set. Is it just me or are the hours just a lot shorter than they used to be? I need some time dilation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to step out of time for a bit? I know that with the Lord a day is like a thousand years. I just need to slip an hour or two between the seconds; to get that walk in the sun when I was finally finished and ready.

But as my husband and I trekked around the park in the dusk watching the geese coming down to roost, I realized that God was there all along. Telling me that only one thing was needful. No one could take that from me but me. So I’m here now, Lord, the floors can wait. For this moment, I’m seeking you first.

…but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In the beginning, God...

In the beginning, God… started the universe. I don’t know how or how long it took, but I firmly believe he spoke everything into being. Along with Jesus, the Word, Logos, the part of him that would become one of us. As well as the Holy Spirit that brooded over creation like a mother hen; covering and protecting her chicks with her wings, overseeing the work of creation. Somehow, it all “came together” an intricate interaction of the trinity that resulted in the dance of quarks and gluons held together by forces too wonderful to comprehend. (Except, maybe, for Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.)

Ok, maybe Stephan Hawking and company are close to understanding how everything works, but sometimes I think all the physicists are just making it up as they go along and the rest of us have no idea what they’re talking about so we wouldn’t know anyway!

Equally incomprehensible to me is that God wants to be with us and us with him.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,4what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3,4

And yet he says so:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23

So in the beginning of 2011, I’m beginning “A Year With God”, Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines. The premise is to live life with God—abundantly as Jesus promised. Day one starts by looking for God in the world around me. Perhaps in the beauty of the natural world, or an encounter with a neighbor. We’ll see and I’ll be looking.

Father God, open the eyes of my heart that I might see you today. Fill me with your Spirit that I would reflect you to those around me and so glorify your Name. Amen