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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

why my scrubs don't fit.....

Why my scrubs don't fit....
When I presented this theory to my husband, he said it was brilliant and I should write that down. This was after a conversation about how I needed new scrubs because the ones I have are worn out and don't fit because they shrunk in the dryer. He said to me, "Baby, I am sure that the dryer is the reason that the scrubs you have been wearing for the last 6 months don't fit." Followed with a knowing smile, as we both glance towards the elliptical in our bedroom that has also been there for 6 months, and I can recount on less than 2 hands how often I have frequented. But wait, there are reasons for this that are my fault, but for a noble cause I assure you.

I work in the ER. Which means I wear scrubs every day I work. And I work long stretches, I don't put on my cute jeans or a bathing suit. I do look in the mirror briefly as I throw on a little makeup that I will later touch up at redlights between my house and the hospital doors. We women who are ER nurses, mid-levels,and doctors will tell you that the worst feeling is when you wake up to go to work and realize your scrubs don't fit. We talk about it with each other and we all know why they don't fit and it is frustrating. They are scrubs. The equivalent of pajamas with a draw string. They do not hug your curves. and so it takes time to get to the point where they don't fit, at least 15 pounds by our estimation after a recent poll of my peers.
Sure we all have access to ellipticals and treadmills and our male counterparts see this unfold and at times will even cook healthier options for us to consume, contrary to the donuts and fast food that seems to be an ER theme.

Your scrubs don't fit because of the patient bolus in triage, or the crying child that signed in 2 hours ago that you know would take you 15 minutes to get taken care of with a couple of stiches or more often, some much needed parent education. or the nursing home patient that should have been a DNR DNI 10 years ago but no one talked to the family or the patient before today, and the demented nursing home patient is repetitively asking for help because they are trapped in their own mind with no real awareness and you just feel the respect of who they used to be and why no one protected them from such an endless end. or the high school football player with a broken finger on his dominant hand that needs a quick procedural reduction so that he is capable of realizing his high school quarterback dream, and it would only take an extra 20 minutes for you to help connect the dots. after all, if that was your child, you would want someone to do the same. or the DOA that never had a chance that EMS couldn't call at the scene because they took one last gasp, so you call it when they roll through the doors, and it's done, but the family is still 30 minutes out and the shift change would handle it beautifully, but would be unable to say, "i was here and we did everything we could, but your mother died." Don't they deserve to hear it from the one that was here? But that means 30 more minutes and that means not making it home on time, and that means reaching for the donuts or the back up diet coke just to stand in the gap. It is the ER. It is about respect for the dead and the living. It's about doing the right thing. It's about going the extra mile. It's about being what you were called to be because to whom much is given, much is required. It's in the Bible. It's what we do. And we would never trade it. From the housekeeping staff that cleans the rooms to the doctor that spends three hours saving a life, to the midlevel that keeps the ball rolling in the background to the charge nurse that puts out one more fire to avoid patient complaints, and the unit secretary that anticipates all of our thoughts and moves for us prior to our asking, to the PCA who did the compressions so long that it wasn't until the next day when their shoulders ached they realized the code went so long, and stretches on and on to the last minute of your shift where you know you are supposed to go home right then because the patients tomorrow deserve a rested provider...and in the midst of all of this madness, we linger at the turn of that clock and realize we are exhausted and may fall asleep on the way home to our families, so we reach again for that last vending machine product that is comforting in a way because we know how sugar works and after all, it's about safety for the drive home, right? I am not complaining at all, as none of us are, but if the reason my scrubs are tight are a result of the events above, then maybe we should have a 24 hour fruit and vegetable bar with a weight watcher's representative that just sneaks healthy snacks into our world without judgement or questions because they have been informed why are scrubs don't fit and they know that although we are smart women who know all about healthy choices, our hearts are too big to choose ourselves above our patients or our colleagues, and maybe we will spend less time trying to find new scrubs and more time celebrating the age old truth that women are emotionally driven and will jump in without regard for our health or well being if it means one more patient is taken care of....and although they do not say it aloud, we can always see in the faces of our male counterparts that it is ok to let go, someone else will clock in behind you and handle it the way you would. And when we let go and trust that simple truth, our scrubs fit. That and the weight watcher's representative would put us in magazines. Still, as women, we must learn to balance our worlds with less doubt in trusting others and more confidence in the prayers we pray on the way to work and on the way home....Dear God, please use me today. Send me the right patients. And don't let me kill anybody." PS- put the scrubs on sale just in case....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Finding our children

Isaiah 43:5

" Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
   I will bring your children from the east
   and gather you from the west."

Finding our children....
It is no secret how much I love children. When my husband and I found out that our chances of conceiving biologically were almost impossible, I was relieved. Since I was in high school, I have known that I will adopt children. God took me places all over the world and showed me the faces of abandonment that are so indescribable with words. To be honest, everyone in my family has lots of children and infertility is not something that has happened much. I actually worried I would be too fertile and get talked out of adoption in the long run. Although that is funny to read typed is usually impossible to change my passionate mind about anything I set it to complete. I really did worry about it. It is my calling as a person to choose the different road that opens up new possibilities no one has considered yet. When Jeremy and I started dating, I remember clearly playing in the floor with our friend's 5 year old son, and laughing at his 5 year old jokes. Jeremy laughed at me and said, "I bet you want a bunch of kids," keep in mind we had been dating for less than a month when this happened, and I answered, "yep, I want at least 4." As soon as it came out of my mouth, I froze, thinking to myself, "good rach, scare him off early....tell him about your student loans now, too." But when I looked up, he was smiling ear to ear and said something about that sounding like a lot of fun....A few months down the road, we discussed the logistics of "at least 4" and the fact that we were both already 29. Jeremy was thinking money, logistics, wife not working, complications, etc.... I took this opportunity to suggest adoption! Bracing myself for skepticism, I was pleasantly surprised when he liked that idea a lot! You would have to understand Jeremy better to get how amazingly easy this topic has been for us. I am the dreamer, the excitement, the ideas, and the vision. Jeremy is the one responsible for completing these visions and making sure I survive my own passionate endeavors. He is more realistic, and wants to make sure I can have the dream, but still remember to eat and sleep. When I get a vision, it is all I can think about. I allow it to take me over, and that is when God seems to bless me with my best work. So back to the adoption front. It is scary. It is permanent, and it is not just something you have to live with. It is changing another person's future forever. A friend of mine told me the other day that if we as Christians don't rescue and raise the abandoned children, Satan will raise them, and use them for his purposes. I love my family so much, and I fit in with them, but there has always been something deep down that tells me I was cut from a little different mold. Something God either put in or left out of his recipe for me makes me have a relentless urgency to find my children. My heart does not ache for a pregnancy, it only aches to hear that first cry, and be able to tell that child, like it or not, you will never be unwanted again, because we want you and we need you to be part of us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis #Bible

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Protection from what threatens.....

11/22/07—Thanksgiving Day
My Gran is the most amazing woman, and I know that most of my strength and determination come from her. She is strong-willed, independent, and fights for the people she loves. Her story is book worthy. She met my grandpa, when he was at home on leave from the Air Force. After one month, he was sent back overseas and he knew then they would be together forever. They have been married for 49 years. Neither of them missed a basketball game, school play, awards ceremony, softball game, piano recital, ballet recital, track meet, or anything else I ever did, and on top of that, i am only one of five of their grandchildren, all of which could say the same thing. In fact, Grandpa has it all on video! They took us all camping and fishing and built us a treehouse. They put up a basketball goal to help me and nick learn to play. They bought a go-cart for us to ride and tear up their yard. We spent every Friday night having slumber parties for 7 at their little house in Donelson.  I worked in Colorado, and Gran bought my boots. she was taking chemo while i was gone and mailed me a teddy bear with a hat on it (since she wore a lot of hats during chemo), so that i could take her with me up all those mountains and to keep me from coming home to hold her hand during chemo treatments. She wrote me countless checks to pay for mission trips and gas money and clothes. She bought all of us lunch and dinner every chance she could just to sit and hear our hearts pour out. She listened when i was scared or upset about anything. She always steered us in the right direction and had a way of giving us  back her confidence to replace our fears and doubts. She loves us all so much and would walk through fire for any of us. If she ever heard anyone say anything negative about us, she would probably give them a black eye. She trusts us and we trust her. She is part of me as I am part of her. She dedicated her life to raising her boys and so the Newmans emerged. Now there are so many of us, and she remembers all of our birthdays, knows everything going on with each of us, and loves us equally.
the list:
1. Grandpa 2.David Newman 3. Marilyn Newman 4. Me 5. Dustin Newman 6. Tori (Dustin's fiance) 7. Mike Newman 8. Pam Newman 9. Nick Newman 10. Missy Newman 11. Emily Castle 12. Steve Castle 13. Caleb Castle 14. Brooke Castle 15. Josh Newman 16. Rachel Atchley 
That's a lot of people and a lot of things to remember. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer when i was 18. I will be 28 in one month. She had less than a 25% chance of surviving 5 years. She took more than one round of chemo that did not work and then she qualified for an experimental treatment that only worked for 10% of the patients in her study. It worked for her. She had multiple strokes because of the chemo and lost the use of her left arm and almost the use of her legs, but she kept fighting. She quit taking treatments not long ago because of the side effects and the fact that it stopped working. But she continued to enjoy her life. My Grandpa does everything for her and has every gadget you can imagine to make her life happier and easier. She is his life and so are we. Today was a great day. Although Gran cannot walk or sit for very long and she depends on others for even the simplest tasks of life, she still came to Thanksgiving Day and brought presents for Caleb and Brooke (the babies in our family). She ate and laughed and watched my brother ask Tori to marry him. Grandpa took her home and dad and i went with them to deliver food leftovers and pumpkin pie. I went to my apartment later with a bad feeling, so when grandpa called at 930pm because she was hurting and he didn't know what to do, I already had my shoes on. When I got to their house, I thought she was going to pass right in front of me. Grandpa called hospice and was running around trying to make her pain go away. It took some teamwork, several calls to hospice, 4 doses of morphine, a phone call to my dad, and the movie Miracle on 34th Street before she finally drifted off to sleep around 130 am. I have never been so thankful for studying pharmacology. I watched her be in so much pain and try to be brave for me. She has joked with me every day this week about dying and how each day we've cheered her up, and I told her that when I thought she was gonna die, I would tell her, but it wasn't today. I noticed tonight that she did not ask. She knows. And she knows that I know. At times like this a part of me wishes I could just be her granddaughter and not the Physician Assistant. Then I realize the granddaughter she helped raise that she loves and respects so much is a Physician Assistant. She worked very hard to make it possible for me to make it that far. I see my own accomplishments and I am proud of her for contributing so much effort to get me there. As i watched her body take a path that is so familiar to me medically, I saw her mind and heart more clearly than ever before. But it is the mind and heart that has always been there to pick me up, dust me off, and help me try again. Tonight and every day this week, we have all literally picked her up and dusted her off and helped her try again.  Every member of our family has used their unique personalities this week to make her laugh and make her feel safe. But when it comes down to it, quality is more important than quantity. She has given me quality and quantity from the day i was born. Now we are running out of time. All I can offer her now is what i have and hope that it is enough. We know what she wants and it is now our turn to steer her in the right direction. For me, that means knowing what medications she needs, knowing when to call hospice, making sure my family is prepared, and making her as happy as I can in the moments she has left on this earth. I stood in her driveway at 1am this morning and told my dad the one thing i dread telling anyone. and i had to do it with grace, being his daughter, the PA, who believes Gran is a miracle that will be in heaven very soon, and the options we have need to be unselfish and leave her with who she is and has always been. Strong, independent, and beautiful. No hospitals, no technology, no acts to keep her alive and miserable because we aren't ready to let go. I love my family because we all want what is best for each other even if it means it hurts. We are on the same page in our relationships with God and our trust in each other. However, strength to say goodbye and help someone cross over from this life to the next is difficult, but good. It is an honor and a blessing to be the eyes someone looks in as they say goodbye to this earth. I have done it with patients and loved ones of close friends, but this is different. Gran can see straight through me. She knows me better than she knows herself.
Tonight she saw me as she always does, and she is proud of me. But she knows I am out of options to save her from death, and that it's ok. I prayed for God to save her soul and he did. I prayed for God to do a miracle with her health because I needed to see it so that I would believe in Him. I prayed to be enough for her and everyone else so that more souls would stand at Heaven's gates when they open. Now I pray for God to let her leave this earth as my Gran. Beautiful, peaceful, strong, and the only thing holding her here is will all 16 of them have happy and blessed lives if I'm not here to make it happen? People ask her all the time how she is still enjoying life with all the medical problems she has to overcome. Her answer is always, "the good Lord must have something here he still wants me to do, and I'm not ready until he's done with me."   That's what she taught me. That's how I feel too. She will be with me forever and I am so thankful for that. In everything I do in my profession for the rest of my life, I will hear her voice and see her face. And when it comes to my prayers for her and her prayers for me, they have been answered.   My last prayer for her is that she slips into heaven with someone in the Newman army holding her hand and that she closes her eyes seeing us and opens them falling into the arms of God. She has served the Lord by loving us and protecting us from all that threatens our souls. And the floodgates of heaven have opened for her by making all of us who we are. Different in every way, but the core is the same. It is perfect love. And perfect love drives out all fear. She has gained everything.



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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hope Under Water...

May 2nd, 2010

There is a part of me that absolutely hates sitting on my couch right now, knowing there are people out there with their safety in such jeopardy. I am definitely the "save the world" type. And I know Uncle Ted really "gets this" about me, so I hope he stays safe today as well. When I watch the news, I see the heartache and fear in people's eyes, and I want so badly to rescue them from that fear. It is a humbling relief to know that God can and will do the rescuing. Still, what am I supposed to do right now? What skills did he give me to use for his glory? Maybe it is just to type what my thoughts I will do that until I get another assignment from Him.

Over that last 24 hours Nashville has experienced its biggest natural disaster in my lifetime. But I learned today that it happened in 1926, too! Now we have the technology and resources to know within minutes if all of our loved ones are safe...I would have been a nervous wreck in 1926!

I am really proud of Tony Trumphour, who last night took his duck hunting boat on a moment's notice to Lavergne, TN and rescued 5 people and 2 dogs...saved their lives...risked his own...was completely protected by God. So then I told Jeremy that we need a boat! And we need to be more like Tony T....

I walked around our condo with Lucy in the rain just checking on the structure...we found a couple of flaws, but all in all, a very safe place even in the worst flood Nashville has seen in a while...good choice on purchase...thank you God for leading us to this place.

All of my family and friends are safe. Even Leslie and Lance who just bought a house and moved yesterday into what turned out to be one of the most dangerous places to be in the flood! They are warm, dry, and happily organizing new closets with lots of help and just praying the waters don't rise anymore. Turns out it was great they planned ahead and had everything packed and ready before this weekend...

Then I watched the news and realized that I drove beneath I-24 at Bell Road 4 times before it went underwater. The last time was coming home from Allison Ashley's house around noon on Saturday May 3:30pm...we watched a house/portable (from Lighthouse Christian) literally crumble on live coverage in almost the exact place I was less than 4 hours before...Thank you, Lord, that I came straight home and didn't stop at Starbucks or try to run a couple of errands while I was out...came home so I could tackle errands with Jeremy's company, instead of by myself...Thank you God for such a great husband..who enjoys "Rachel errands" and "Rachel to-do lists".

Also, Big D was scheduled to drive the church bus today...obviously did not watch the news before leaving the house around 7am to run the route. He picked up "Chuck" who actually called after he had left worried about Dad's safety and curious if he would get to go to church today...Mom informed Chuck Big D was on his way... When Big D and Chuck got to church (Madison Church of Christ) parking lot was under water, and about 20 people there wondering about service...Now those are the most committed church of christ 'ers I have ever seen. Or, they, like Big D did not flip on the news before leaving the house. Normally our church services have between 700 and 1000 people there...

Best conversation was with little Brooke Castle, on how her swing set was OK except for the big stump under it, but as for the people with rafts in the creek behind her house..."that is not a vewwy smattt ideeeeaaa!!!"-How is a 3 year-old smarter than a teenager with a blown up float?? She is very advanced for her age...

Regardless of what the next few days bring, there is a song by Casting Crowns called "Praise you in this Storm" that keeps running through my mind...

Dear God, please give us the strength and wisdom to see your face and do your work always, and let the floodgates of heaven pour out so much blessing that we will not have room enough for it....may we see the rain as you see it, and know that you are there, just like you were there 2 days ago in the sunshine...

Please teach me to have these conversations with you in sunshine as often as I do when it rains.....

Monday, July 25, 2011


I started working at a clinic this month that has predominantly Hispanic patients. I have never been pregnant and don't truly understand what it would be like to be faced with the autonomy to legally end another life. I know there are exceptions and situations that have such extenuating circumstances where no one would fault someone for choosing to abort. But those are rare and a small percentage. I have always been against abortion. If you read this and you have aborted a child, you may find this hard to read. I have listened to those who chose abortion and later regretted it. But in the lonely dark days of an unwanted pregnancy, I have listened to friends and patients be fearful. How will they afford this child? They will never get promoted at work, especially if their child is sick. Most women with supportive spouses or families don't have those fears. Have we made it impossible for a single mother to succeed at being a mother? Is the only option for her opportunity of success to murder her own flesh and blood, and move on like nothing happened? Where are the male counterparts who created these children? There are a host of babies in heaven who did not make it past the womb and God holds them in His arms anyway. But the destruction of the one with the empty womb causes an insurmountable challenge for her to be whole and fulfilled again. If you went down the road to abortion, I apologize. I apologize for not being there to support you. I apologize for anyone who contributed to the helplessness and defeat you felt so strongly that you had no other option you could fathom but abortion. Our society failed you.
My passion about this issue deepened last week when I learned how to do OB ultrasounds. The clinic I work in is mostly self-pay. The physician I work for makes a lot less money than he could, but is committed to serving the underserved. He does OB ultrasounds to break up his day a little and give some light in his perspective of caring for the poor. Earlier than 12 weeks, you can see the heart, all 4 chambers. You can measure the femur and you can see the nose. You can see the spine and the hands. That baby bounces around if you apply a little pressure as if to say, "Really? Didn't you know I am living here right now?"
How can you even consider ending this innocence and confidence fostered and thriving in your abdomen? Unless you are so misinformed and lied to that you don't even know they are really there. I wish I could make every high school student watch a live ultrasound and watch the mother's face when she looks at her child for the first time...the financial stress and fear of welfare or worse seems to fade from her face...and all of the sudden their only question is, "Is it ok?". Because that is the heart of every mother. Why would we discourage that? And why would we deceive them that that baby is anything less than their miracle to experience?
I vote republican. And although they are not perfect in any way and frustrate me on a lot of levels, they stand firm in supporting a baby's right to meet their mother face to face. Democrats do not. They believe in the most vulnerable and emotional time in a woman's life where she is fearful and overwhelmed, we should yell at her to remember her right to choose death. The loudest bark is always heard, but that bark doesn't seem very effective at drying the tears of women who regret the emptying of their womb.
Maybe if we gave them more support, they wouldn't feel so pressured to make such a devastating decision...It is as much on our heads as it is theirs...We voted for it. And let others vote without barking loud enough for what was really right.
5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, 
       before you were born I set you apart; 
       I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Isaiah 1:5


I haven't written a blog in a while because the outlet to regurgitate my day has become Jeremy. But, there have been so many events in the last 12 months, I just never had the time to write them down. I use this blog as an outlet for me. When you choose your profession based on your passion, it is overwhelming the emotions you experience and carry with you. Putting these blogs on myspace has been my way to unload them and prevent me from feeling all of them alone. Still, when I post something new, so many of you respond with encouragement and real understanding, it is addictive to seek that support. This is the list of moments of 2008 I will never forget.
1. New Year's Eve of 2007 when I found myself wiping a tear when the ball dropped, just glad I made it through. I realized in that moment my life would no longer be in just "survival mode" to get to the next day with no money, no tangible support, and a huge web of people who worked together in small ways to keep me whole. 2008 would be different.
2. My first day at my first job out of school where I found myself spending 30 minutes calculating the right dose for Tylenol in a 13 month's on the back of the box...but knowing my prescription would be trusted as the guidance was I can do it in my sleep.
3. The baby I saw that was 18 months old that presented to the ED with his father, who swore the baby crawled in the oven to get the burns on the palms of his crawl with fingers not with palms...It was all I could do not to pick up that child and walk straight out the door to my car and drive away until there was no place further than his abusive parent...but I didn't. I held it together, called DHS, flew him to Vanderbilt, and included in the notes the potential for abuse. It was hard to let him out of my care and trust someone else to save him...but they did. He had an old skull fracture from 6 months before, which was enough to get him placed in foster care. God was watching...and he was placed with a wonderful Christian family who wanted a third child...they brought him to see us in the ER 3 months later. He is happy and safe, and will never remember the hell he experienced before age 2. Great moment. 
4. The day I stood less than 20 feet from my brother as he vowed to be Tori's husband. He knows how difficult marriage is and in the man I saw across that church, there will always be the reflection of the 4 year-old he used to be running towards me and screaming "sissy, I love you!!" He does love me and over the last few years I have willingly passed the torch of being the woman in his life to someone I am convinced will protect him and challenge him better than he would ever need. It's hard to share a brother as wonderful as Dustin, but when I saw his face that day, I knew no one could ever love him the way Tori does. 
5. I did compressions on a man for an hour knowing his wife was not far away praying for him to survive. It was sudden when he collapsed and he arrived to my ER in a reasonable amount of time. 15 ER staff, including one MD, another PA, tons of nurses and EMS, and housekeeping staff standing outside the door holding hands and praying...About 45 minutes into that hour, I felt something's hard to describe, but if you've ever been with someone when their soul leaves their body, you know it. You still fight for them wondering if you are wrong, but it is an indescribable replacement of hope with peace. Then you change gears, you go through every phase of grief in a moment, and realize your patient is no longer on the table. Your patient is now the wife in the waiting room who just lost her husband...and you have to find it within your heart to let God have him and go to her. It is hard, but I trust myself to care for her more than anyone else because I know God will guide me. He will give me the words when He didn't give me the medical technology to just buy more time. It's ironic how hard you work for just one more moment for someone to live. I always wonder if I had just had more time, would it have been different. Then I feel the peace of death and time stands still until that wife has everything she needs from me. The truth her husband is gone. The tears that stream down my face for just a moment. Then the question, can I pray with your family....they always say yes because it is easy to listen to a makes the gravity of the truth easier to bear...I could not tell you what I have said in any of these prayers. I can tell you I felt peace that is immortal and walked out of that room, took a deep breath, and went to see the next patient. It is hard. But it is an honor. I hope I never live to experience a death of one of my patients where that tear is not on my face.
6. The day I tried on my wedding gown at the store and Caleb (age 5) stood next to me in the mirror. They dimmed the lights to give the "full effect". And Caleb said, "Rachel you look so beautiful, like when the sun is setting." I remember the day Caleb was born and I held him 30 minutes after he arrived. I could not imagine loving any child more than him, although everyone says I will when I have my own, nothing will ever replace that moment. Emily told me she was a little sad we were not pregnant together. I smiled at her across that hospital room and said, "Your kids will be in my wedding, and I can't wait for that day." They will be on May 22nd.
7. In 2007, I babysat Brooke, just me and her, so Caleb and Emily could go to the zoo. She reminds me so much of Emily its crazy. But that day I noticed one little thing about her that was like me. She was sick that day and I rocked her for an hour. When she finally gave in to exhaustion, she rubbed her feet together before she went to sleep. I do that. I have never met anyone else that does that. I'm sure they do, but it was a moment. 

Psalm 124

 1 If the LORD had not been on our side—
   let Israel say—
2 if the LORD had not been on our side
   when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
   when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
   the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
   would have swept us away.
 6 Praise be to the LORD,
   who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
   from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
   and we have escaped. 

8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

leslie and lauren....

as i am waiting for my job to start, i have an amazing amount of time to tell stories. this one is an old one.
may 24th, 2000. 520pm (what i was thinking on this day)
well i'm on the plane! and im all alone. and here come the tears. maybe this was a bad decison. but i am convinced that God wants me to do this. It was hard to leave my family, but i feel called to do this. i know god is working on me right now. wait... the stewardess is calling my name... ok, i'm back. she brought me a care package from leslie. just in time to make me laugh enough to not really cry alone on the plane. she was not at the gate bc she was late. but apparently she was persuasive with the stewardess that i needed this little bag of goodies. she was right. contents of bag: sundrop, animal crackers, gum, and a picture of me and leslie in a snow globe on a mountain last summer. well i can't keep crying now. imagine leslie conning delta airlines at the gate in an urgent manner about what her friend "needs". now i am ready. in the air. no going back.

august of 2002... Mt. rinker. (what was in my head that day)
i'm standin on top of mt rinker listening to lauren gingles on the walkie talkie trying to talk to every staff member we have on trail...wondering if they made their summit and wanting to make them laugh. she is on mt hope. just one valley between us. our groups are drinkin root beer and takin pictures, celebrating as if they have already forgotten how hard it was to get up here and the number of times they begged me to let them quit. i stepped away just far enough to climb down to check the clouds on the other side of rinker where other groups are climbing mt elbert. and it just hit me. this is my last mountain. for three summers i have hidden out here in the safety of this job where the only thing i have to do is help kids see God. then lauren's voice interrupts my thoughts. "rach, i can see you! can you see me!" such a fun game to play when there is at least 40 miles between us. all i could say was , "lauren, i dont think i'm ready to let this part of me go." i sat down and tears rolled down my face. Her next words stuck with me forever. "rachel newman, you are more than ready. God has bigger mountains waiting for you and more miracles to show you than you even know. you're not letting any part of you go, you're just adding another chapter and it's gonna be great!" so i got up, wiped my eyes, and said goodbye to mt rinker and every other mountain that had been my refuge the last 3 summers.
the point: the fear i felt on the plane in may of 2000 was the same fear i felt in august of 2002. "am i ready?". the truth is i was always ready. God makes us ready for everything. then he spends our lifetime convincing us he is right: for a second i wanted to get off that plane and run back to my parents at the gate and say, i can't do this. and 3 summers later, for a second i stood on mt rinker not wanting to ever leave. it's not the task before us that makes us scared. it's the possibility we may not be worthy to undertake it.
that is why i have that quote "i demolish my bridges behind me, so there is no choice but forward."
and lauren and leslie are the two friends who will never let me doubt myself. the way they do it, is by never allowing me to doubt god. which always makes the apprehensive moments go by so much faster!
micah 6: 8 "...And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

The Children waiting for us....

This is another story I wrote a long time ago, but when I read it now, it is a little different. I know when you read it, you will judge the biological mother of the child in this story, but at least her daughter had the chance to cry out for her own help. It is a really funny story if you can picture me in another country without my luggage....

I was in Romania on a mission trip my senior year in high school.The purpose of the trip was to raise support for Christian programs giving aid to Romanian orphanages by paying the salaries of Christian women to care for these abandoned babies. 4 mission team members total. We were allowed in the orphanages to see the progress that had been made and with that info, hopefully be able to raise more support back in the states. I was 17 years old and in Romania in December and was the only person whose bags got lost in Atlanta. Imagine a 17yo girl whois approx 6ft. tall who arrived in Romania with her bible, journal, CD player, and snacks. I had even checked my coat! I ended up spending 8 days in Romania without my "stuff". Learning to be low maintenance can be funny. When we entered the orphanage in Arad, Romania, it was day 3 of our trip. We were given a tour and instructed not to cry or we would get kicked off the tour. (Not good for babies to see us breakdown because they are orphans). Among the 50 kids I met that day, I met an 18 month old little girl. She was fiesty and she had the cutest bald head. I wanted to take a picture with her for my mom because I was that bald at 18mos, too. That's when I saw this awful scar on the back of her head. I asked about it and was told that she was born and thrown into a dumpster (which is common there). Dogs are also very common. A mama dog with puppies found her and dragged her around by the head and nursed her for approx 3 days. Someone heard the baby crying in an alley and wrestled her away from the dog and took her to the hospital. She was mostly dead and severely dehydrated and only 3 or 4 days old. The doctors did not understand how she could have cried for someone to hear her. They stitched the terrible wound on her head from the dog and called the orphanage. A few weeks later, no infection, no disease, and a blue-eyed healthy baby girl with stitches was in a Christian orphanage. Shewill always bear the scar, but it will be covered when she gets hair. Because of the scar, her story will stay with her the rest of her life.

I cannot put into words how badly I wanted to take those kids home with me in my backpack! That was 14 years ago, but I see her in my arms like it was last week. It was one of the first miracles I saw in real life. Now I can say that I've seen countless.

We pray for God to do the "unexplainable" so that the world may see Him the way we do.

In the meantime, God is making angels out of even dirty and diseased dogs in Romania.

Micah 6:8 "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. 

   And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly with your God."

Tithing with your socks

This is an old story...but a good one for why you should give away your socks...It was originally an email, and I still refuse to change the story from when I typed it in 2003....stick with what works... Subject:
What's hard about Honduras for you?
I need to give a better answer to the question of what my hardest challenge was my first trip to Honduras... In the meeting, I said I didn't know what was hard and went on to say a bunch of stuff i don't really remember. Today i was talking to a friend of mine and realized what's hard, so I guess I will just have to tell you now.....
The first year I went to Honduras, I had no idea what to really expect. Each day was a whirlwind of events and honestly, I just tried to survive it. I do want to tell you the story of my weakest, most frustrating moment. In my mind, we were somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and the biggest thing I remember was the millions of steps it took to get the the smallest church I have ever seen and the lack of bathroom facilities.
I was supposed to be a "pharmacy person" that day and still rather clueless as to what to do. I spoke literally NO Spanish. It was around 1:00pm and the line of patients outside and down the stairs was more than overwhelming. It was so hot I felt sick. It seemed like everyone needed something and there was nothing I was doing that helped. Every prescription I filled I needed help on and no one seemed to be in a good mood. The Honduran kids were terrible to deal with that day, and even the people who never complained were frustrated already. I was about to reach a low point and wanted to just be at home in the states with people I could talk to (in English). On top of everything, I had to go to the bathroom and as mentioned earlier, in terms of facilities, there was a lack thereof. I needed some air.
I went outside feeling unneeded, unwanted, useless, stupid, and weak. I hate to be weak. I sat down on the dirt next to the steps hoping for something, but I didn't know what, maybe a teleportation.
Whit and Linnea (2 American high school kids)were outside too, attempting to teach VBS material.... There was a Honduran man out there preaching with church flyers in his hand. The line of sick patients was ridiculously growing longer and I began to realize that a lot of those people would not get seen that day. I knew we weren't coming back. I almost started crying. All I could think about was, "why had I come here?" The picture I was living in at that moment redefined the phrase "God-forsaken country". Then I saw this old man about 12 steps down from me, sitting down. He looked terrible. He was dirty, without teeth,and his shoes were more holes than shoes. His feet had cuts and scrapes that I knew would never really heal. He had no socks and his ankles were so swollen, they looked like they had been broken more than once. He'd already come up so many steps, I couldn't believe he'd made it that far. It was just the icing on my cake at my own little pity party I was having for myself about everything that's wrong with the world that is seemingly out of my control.
To be completely honest, I was disappointed when he spotted me in my scrubs. They think we're all doctors, and I knew he would ask me for help. Not only would I not be able to give it, but I wouldn't even be able to talk to him at all! No spanish. I'm crying now just remembering. He looked at me and started asking me questions and pointing to his ankles and feet. Whit tried to translate, but the man had no teeth. I was so frustrated with everything, and I know I snapped at Whit for not understanding. We all just sat the dirt... It was a defining moment for me.
I told the man not to move. I went in the clinic/church (which I affectionately remember as the shoebox) and found two ace bandages. I asked Dr. George for some strong ibuprofen for the man. Dr. George did hesitate at first, but I'm sure the expression on my face deterred him from asking why this man didn't have to wait in line. I got a package of baby wipes and a waterbottle. and I went back out. This day could not get any worse...back to the man in the dirt....the only person I had met that day that needed me....and he would get the best I had right then.
I sat down on the steps in front of this really old man and washed off his feet. I felt ashamed of myself and I tried to sniff back my tears, but it was too late. I wrapped up both ankles as good as I could with the ace bandages. I took off my clean, white socks and put them on his feet and put his holey shoes back on. I asked Whit to translate to tell him how often to take the ibuprofen, but Whit couldn't because he was starting to cry a little, too. Then I looked up at the people around me that were in chaos 10 minutes before. The Honduran preacher was there with us and everyone had stopped in line to watch me. Even the kids were being still. Tears were rolling down my face and I wanted to crawl in hole for all the socks and shoes I knew were in my house at home. I was humbled beyond my imagination. The man told me his name and pointed to the sky trying to talk to me about God. He blessed me over and over and had tears in his eyes of gratitude. But I didn't understand his words... don't forget that he didn't have any teeth....
The preacher and Whit finally understood and told me what he was saying. But I was crying and sniffelling too hard to say much back. Whit told himwhy we were there as best he spread the love of God... The man wrote his name down on one of those flyers and gave it to me. I still have it. He started to walk back down those millions of stairs. I couldn't even watch him. Whit and I bonded that day. I knew to everyone watching I had done something really great. But I felt sick inside because 15 minutes before I had been selfish and childish enough to want to go home and run from all the opportunities I had there to bring glory to God...I almost missed it...
That's the great thing about God. He doesn't mind how weak we are. In our lowest, most difficult moments, he defines himself in us. That day, God gave me a small taste of all the crap Jesus must have seen when he walked among us. That day ended up being my best day in Honduras. After that, I stayed outside. The kids just followed me around. Mrs. Lindsay always tells a story about the day I taught all the kids even though I didn't speak any Spanish. It embarrasses me when she tells it, because I remember why I first went outside. That all happened the same day. I think about all of that when I don't really want to pack meds or I don't want to sing anymore Spanish songs. I think about it when I'm tired of soliciting medical supplies from rich pharmaceutical companies or rushing to meeting at 8:30pm only to get done at 11:00pm and have to get the next day for school or work. It reminds me that I am not entitled. But, I have been given much. And too much is given, much is required. It is in our weakest moments that either God or Satan make a mark on the world with us. It can either end up really scary and depressing or really amazing and motivating. I'm sorry this was so long, but that's what I think is hard about going to Honduras. The same stuff that makes it hard, also makes it worth it,which makes it great.
But the hardest part is hearing God above my own selfishness and then acting on it. And my selfishness can get really loud. But, I now believe you can even tithe with the socks you are wearing.... and that can be enough.... -rachel
Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it."


In my efforts to enjoy my days off that sometimes seem sporadic, I found myself at Valley View for day camp week. Although my cousin's children played a big role in me getting there, I must admit that any day at camp is always a great one for me. It was really fun to see kids learn how to swim and just to run around with them enjoying the playground that our church continues to provide.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

my heroes

Jesus Christ, the Newmans, anyone who has ever had to leave home to know where home is...Emily Castle, because she is the glue that holds everything together for me. She taught me to share, she taught me how to love unconditionally, she taught me to have fun, and she taught me what it means to handle life with grace and beauty. And she continues to do so. my dad because people should follow him around and write books about him and sell them to every dad in the world who is trying to raise a high-strung daughter. without my dad, i would never have learned to be brave. my dad taught me that anything is possible, regardless of who may tell you differently. all of my friends who are now mothers. they amaze me and inspire me every day.

where your deep passion and the world's deep hunger meet....

Someone once told me that my mission in life should be where my deep passion and the world's deep hunger meet. In the beginning of anything, something else has just ended. And i find myself kicking and screaming at any beginning and end. Maybe it's because the middle is always filled with good and bad, and even if the bad outweighs the good, i still have a hard time letting anything good end, even if it was just a glimpse of what it could have been. The hardest part about being so optimistic is the disappointment that seems to always follow. Like how easy it is to be in another country that is poor, where every detail of who you are is pushed and stretched and you become something only God knew you could be. Then you come home and wonder what happened to that person and why did they not come home with you? I hate it. And i don't understand how to be that person all the time. Maybe it's because vulnerability is such difficult task for those who are never hungry and even if they were, they would never admit it. Why do we live in a place where it's a negative thing to ever depend on anyone else? Even when most of us finally ask for help, we apologize and are constantly trying to even the score somehow. We don't want to owe anyone anything. We refuse to be weak, and we fight so hard to disguise that we are all human and need so much more than we realize. This is my problem. The constant circus of trying to earn everything when there is really no need. Doesn't God own everything? And doesn't he have me written on his hand? Still, I am so frustrated with those that walk around with a sense of entitlement that usually is preceded be laziness. It was nice to do things for free for the poor and have them just be grateful. They can't pay me back, and they know the only reason I did what i did is because my faith in God is not limited to evening up the score between me and God or me and anybody else. I will never get what i really deserve and i'm really glad because i know the gates of hell would welcome me with open arms. with humility and on my knees I am grateful this earth will be the closest i ever get to the gates of hell. Although i am very proud of our country and believe in my heart God blesses the US on purpose, I fear there will be far more poor people in heaven from so called God-forsaken countries than there will be from where we live. We make it so much harder for each other. I do it every day, and I have no excuse. We may not need food or shelter or money or healthcare, and we definitely have warm places to sleep and plenty to entertain us, but how much do we hide behind all of those things hoping and praying no one will see our vulnerabilities or vices? More importantly, why? In poverty, nothing is clear, but there is plenty of room for miracles. the next meal is a miracle. In the land of opportunity, the clearest thing is where to get in line for the rat race, how to take care of yourself, and the underlying message that do-it-yourself is the only attitude that is truly respected. This obviously doesn't apply to everyone, but it is a struggle to not fall into a place where miracles are difficult to see because too many people are willing to take credit for their own hard work. "if i speak in tongues of men and of angels but have not love, i am nothing but a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. If i have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if i have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, i am nothing. if i give all i possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, i gain nothing." I cor 13 I never understood this verse when i was young because i thought it was saying something else. now that i know what love really means, i understand. the things we respect in each other in society are knowledge, intelligence, work ethic, and self-sacrifice for the improvement of ourselves and others. but why do we strive to achieve things in these categories? Ideally we would be doing it to show the unfailing love of God to the vast number of souls who do not know him. If we take credit for everything and believe it had anything to do with us, then why would we ever recognize God's love for us? and if we don't recognize it, how will everyone who doesn't know God ever meet him? The biggest superpower in the world and i live in the middle of it. and i've traveled all over the world. every time i come home i face the dim reality that we may be winning every race there is and we may be helping more poor than we can count, we may be moving mountains and fathoming all mysteries. and we all know there are plenty of bodies being surrendered to the flames to protect us and give freedom to others. but if we don't enter the race of how many souls will stand at heaven's gates with us, then we have gained nothing.

surgery in the dark...

I am leaving for honduras on saturday morning and i'll be gone for a week. i go every year. a lot of my pictures are from those trips. my responsibilities while on this mission trip will be countless. in a way, it is what i live for because every God-given talent i possess is in great demand when i am there. it is a surgical trip where i will spend 10-12 hours a day in the operating room making sure the patient's operation is clean and efficient. it is my job to assist the surgeon, put in stitches, pass instruments, and protect the sterile field from contamination. it is also usually my job to communicate with family members and staff that don't speak english. i speak spanish fairly well, although i have never formally studied it. so when we go anywhere as a group to eat or shop or when we order breakfast at the motel in the morning i have to translate for the other members of our group who go to foreign countries without learning the language. Standing in the operating room using my medical mind and stepping out and using my spanish mind, then seeing the poverty and hopeless environment these natives live in every day brings out my emotional side and breaks my heart. it's like stepping into a war zone with no one really on your team. as my close friends know, i am not needy. i am self-sufficient and confident and usually the one helping everyone else. when i am there i barely sleep and when i do, i dream terrible nightmares of what could go wrong. last year we saved a woman's life. she had a gallstone in her common duct, which basically means if we hadn't operated that week, she could have gone into acute pancreatitis and possibly liver failure. it was an incidental finding we did not anticipate. she was our first patient, first surgery, first day. so none of the kinks were ironed out at all. most of the surgeries we do are laproscopic which means a few small holes like little stab wounds, a camera, and laser surgery. during this woman's surgery, the power surged and the lights went out, as did all of our equipment. the surgeon decided to open her up since you can't monitor a patient without electricity near as well. i had never seen a patient opened up and had no idea what i had gotten myself into. all the sudden i am elbow deep in this woman's abdomen reaching for surgical instruments to hand the 2 doctors trying to fix her. of course those instruments have ridiculous names that no one knows but surgeons and really old nurses. people were yelling all directions and i looked to the surgeon beside me, my mentor and friend, and said, "i don't think i'm ready for this. do you want me to step back?" he simply said, "I need you beside me, her life is our responsibility, and i can't do it without you." he is 66 years old and besides my dad, the greatest man i've ever met. we spend 3 1/2 hours putting this woman back together. the power came back on 5 minutes after it went out, but by that time we were all soaked in sweat. She made it. i stayed in the operating room and held her hand as she slowly woke up from the anesthesia. I looked straight in her eyes, smiled and said in spanish, that she was ok and we were done. she nodded. i walked out of that operating room, spoke to no one, went out back alone and cried. one of the teenagers in our group followed me, stood till i had cried alone for a few minutes, then sat beside me and said. "You did good. i could have never done that. I'm really proud of you." I looked up with my tear streaked face at this 15 year old boy and said, "without hearing that from you, i don't think i would ever have the courage to go back inside and do it again." Here's the kicker. my mentor, the surgeon, has a steadfast rule of praying with his patients before they go to sleep for surgery. he does it in the states as well as on mission trips. he prays in english and gets a translator if the patients only speak spanish. this woman was our first case and with all the chaos he forgot to pray with her. everyone was asking him questions about everything right before the surgery and he just forgot. i noticed he was busy and had memorized a prayer in spanish identical to the one he says in english. while she was in the holding area, i prayed with her in spanish. speaking spanish and praying in spanish are very different. prayer is so personal that it's more difficult to communicate your heart in a different language. my first prayer in spanish. maybe God just never wanted me to forget. my mentor apologized to me later that week and said, i didn't pray before that first surgery and that may be why everything went wrong. i'm sorry. so i looked at him and said, "I did pray with her before the surgery." he said well maybe that's why she's still alive. long story, and intense on so many levels. the point is this. i leave in 7 days. i will have anxiety and fear looming over me between now and then. it is satan working on me and all my insecurities. he plays with my mind and takes me through worst case scenarios, like what if i die there and never make it back or worse, what if someone dies because i wasn't smart enough or courageous enough to save them. i am scared. bc i am willingly going into a place of spiritual battles. my job overall is to give a poverty-stricken country hope. and hope is something they don't know anything about. am i ready for what's before me? if you read this far, please comment or call me and encourage me. i need it. i can feel when things are about to fall down all around me. and when they do, i don't want to feel like i'm alone. my mom is going with me this year. it will be her first mission trip. so i can't tell her i'm scared bc she's scared too.

you have cancer...

so i put on my profile one of the things i hate the most is tellin someone they have cancer. today i met a 79 year old woman who will probably be in heaven by christmas. and i had to confirm what she already knew. she has cancer. her entire right breast is a malignant tumor that has metastasized to her bones, liver, pancreas, and colon. i asked how long she had noticed a lump in her breast. her answer surprised me... 3 years. we could have fixed it 3 years ago, maybe even 1 year ago, but now it is just too late. so you wonder why did she wait? Her husband has alzheimer's and she is his primary caregiver. she wanted to keep him out of a nursing home. the lump didn't hurt and she was so caught up in caring for him, she did not get it checked. she cried today when she asked me the question those in my profession dread, "how long i will live?". i tried to be positive, but my eyes teared up. she knew i couldn't look at her and lie. i just held her hand and said, "i think you have plenty of fight left in you, most of your time depends on your will to live." and then tears suddenly rolled down my face. as i looked in her eyes willing her to believe my words, although, my intelligence tells me the opposite, i wondered who told my grandmother she was dying. my grandmother, creath hughes, died this very same way, 2 years before i was born. breast cancer, metastasized to her bones, too late to fix. the moral of the story is take care of the women in your life. good women will put themselves behind everyone else. they will forget to eat because they cooked dinner and started cleaning up in one smooth process. they go to bed last and wake up first. they work full-time and still are excellent mothers. they wear high heels every day. they love with all that they have and leave nothing for themselves. when they have nothing left to give, they sacrifice their futures and their own health to meet the needs of the ones they love so much. take care of the women in your life. they know how to take care of you, but they see themselves as the last priority. the woman today was not crying because she is dying. she was crying because her husband will be in a nursing home soon and he will feel more alone there than he does now. he is trapped in a confused mind where the only stability is the feeling of home. that sense you have when you walk in your mom's kitchen and somethin about it is just right and safe. he will lose that when she dies, probably sooner, and she blames herself. what would it be like to have someone love you that much? do they make marriages like that anymore? take care of women like these because they are rare and beautiful. make them go to the doctor, get mammograms, take medicine, give them a chance to get their nails done, or get a massage, let them laugh with their girlfriends and sit down at dinner sometimes. these women are the foundation for the rest of us. they are rocks, solid and unshaken by life. but they are human and need someone to reach for their hand and dry their tears every once in a while. what would you do without the woman in your life who is and has always been the rock you stand on?

what does it mean to be beautiful?

what does it mean to be beautiful...? (and what I am learning from working for the poor for free…) I don't know exactly what it means but I think is has to do with grace, to have it, and to give it. There are few times in my life where I have acted beautifully. It struck me today as I looked at a patient and said, "Don't give up, we can handle this. I believe it will get better from here." He looked at me with tearful sincerity and said, "I hope so." For the first time in a while, I felt the tears too. I was leaving the room when I made the first statement, but after looking at his face, I paused. He wanted to believe me, and he could tell that I believed my own words. I should do that with all of my patients. Hope is the promise of grace. Extending hope that is believable is beautiful. That man was on a bridge ready to jump last week. He may be on the news this week, but for that moment, he wanted hope, and I stopped just barely in time to give it. 1. extending hope. 2. being vulnerable enough to be honest with the person before you. 3. hold someone's hand that needs it. 4. dry the tears of a child. 5. pray with an earnest heart 6. have a desire to see other's succeed, regardless of what they have done to you. 7. smile often and earnestly. I saw a homeless man today, who was so dirty and smelled terrible. He smiled a toothless grin and had simplicity that would be easy to attack. He was uneducated, illiterate, and in many ways a burden on society. Still, the simplicity got me. That simple trust without skepticism. Odd for me to say how refreshing that simplicity was for me, but it was. 8. don't guard yourself too much. 9. don't hide tears just so people can't tell you are moved by something. 10. give more than you receive 11. hospitality 12. availability 13. mercy 14. being filthy dirty because you worked so hard to help someone else become clean 15. stand between the weak and the danger that waits for them What beautiful is not… physical appearance 2. sarcasm 3. pride 4. selfishness. 5. anger 6. too busy 7. cranky 9. rude 10. planning your week around Friday and Saturday night. 11. resentment. 12. bitterness 13. revenge. The reason a truly beautiful girl is so hard to find these days is because we (most girls) have stopped trying. Sure we can dress up, put on the makeup, accessorize appropriately, go to the right places, and make phone calls or send texts that are entertaining at best, but hardly reflect what we really should say (or not say). Guys don't know what beautiful girls are anymore because a lot of us have stopped showing it. Whatever happened to knowing 5 facts about someone before you kiss them or at least their middle name, or opening doors, or flowers, or scheduled dates, or respect in general? This would be easy to blame on the boys, I know, but I don't think it's their fault. It's us. I know I have learned to play these silly games and I admit I don't regret all of them. But what have I traded? The beautiful girl for the fun girl? The honest girl for the girl with a brick wall hedged around her heart? Have I traded me for someone I don't really want to be? Any girl who has complaints about the way some guy treats her should ask herself what she expected him to do with the way she treated him, or more importantly, the way she presented herself. If anyone ever tells me they think I am beautiful again, it better be someone who knows what they are talking about. And the next person that kisses me better know my middle name… and my favorite flavor ice cream…

Thunder and lightning

thunder and lightningEveryone who knows me knows I worked in Colorado. Hawk and RyanO say it best when we all are together and realize people don't like to hang out with us because all we talk about is "one time on trail...". Still, it is a part of me and the stories I retell over and over remind me so much of the person I was and the person I became because of that job.The week I became a guide...I was with Bert Paddock and Daniel George, and Midlothian, the infamous group that was always somehow cursed. The first day, the Rock, the kid that wouldn't go, and the hour I spent 200 feet up holding a rope waiting for this kid to conquer a fear of rapelling. The hike to low camp and sleeping on a slant...The hike to high camp, and the ridge i made the group gain that was not the right ridge. The phone call to Tommy, "can we just climb Crystal?" --"No Rachel, get where you are supposed to be..." and then asking myself, where is that exactly. I chose to tell the group i got them lost. it was my decision, and i could have lied, but that's just not me. The next day, we started out to get where should have already been. Then the youth minister with chest pain... and later kidney failure... It was interesting, because we were closer to the road because i had gotten us lost. It may have saved him, maybe not. but he made it to the ER just before a big fat MI. And i got stuck carrying the watermelon that was hidden in his pack... great. So we kept going. and on this bluff on a fairly small trail, some kid tripped and began tumbling down the mountain. dropped my pack and took off after her. rocks were rolling after me as i tried to go at an angle to cut off her tumble. she sprained her ankle and cried. didn't tell her how much worse it could have been. We made it to high camp on atlantic and rested. the next morning... summit day... no one ever gets to atlantic unless its me bc i know where the keyhole is to avoid the big ridge. but still, it is so hard to reach. and not as safe as i would like. At 430am i woke up and got the kids up. we started hikin at 545 and at 615 there was mutiny. the kids refused to go. i was almost glad bc i was so tired. but another piece of me wont ever give up that easy. gave the best pep talk i could and said i was goin to hike. i would either see them when i got back or share my sundrop with them at the top...They hiked. We did terrible on time, and were pushin clouds all morning. we got to the point where i could have summitted myself in 20 minutes, but this group was exhausted. so i made a decision to continue to gain elevation after 100pm. not a good idea and now i know why. we summitted at 200pm and started back down with big clouds everywhere. then the rain started, then the hail, then i realized two kids forgot their raincoats. there went my fleece and my jacket and my pants. so in a tshirt and shorts i kept hikin. I was cold and tired and all of the sudden very uncertain. comin off atlantic you can see pacific to your right, and pacific's ridge seems far away until you see a lightning bolt hit it, then it seems real close. i turned around and saw this girl's hair standing straight up from the static electricity. my ice axe and the zippers on my backpack were humming. i could see bert hikin with his ice axe in his hand. -- good lightning rod if necessary. I stopped and gave him mine too. he put his hands on my shoulders and said, "flip your radio off and get them to the trees as fast as you can." we had an older man in the group bert had to stay back with. This is when a game face is important. and trust is even more important. i had been honest all week, and these kids trusted me with their lives. now there really was a threat to those lives. was i ready? the sound of the thunder and the pop of the lightning did not leave much time for gathering courage. i got the kids close and said, "stay together, move as fast as you can, and don't say anything unless you are talking to me" i could see that they were dependent on me. and i was scared. one girl broke her finger, but other than that we made it to the trees. she didn't even tell me about it until we stopped. i dropped my pack and went back up to help bert. one of the younger boys came with me. Bravery shows itself in strange ways, so i didn't send him was i a hero that day or not? could have protected them better, and could have even stayed in camp.or is a hero the one that steps into a situation with faith that God has an idea of what is in store, and will hold your hand as you climb and as you descend...still, who wants to run from lightning?Tommy said i was now officially a mountain guide. and i guided the rest of the summer with lots more emergencies but never with the doubt i carried that week. i left all that doubt on atlantic. mountains have a funny way helping you unload your baggage.

who your friends are

who your friends are... Friends are the ones who have heard you laugh, heard you cry, and tried to make each moment for you better than the last. They listen to your confessions and laugh at your jokes. They mean what they say and their honesty is always with the best of intentions. They know your birthday. They are there to welcome new members to your family and stand beside you as you bury those you've lost. They feel your pain and you feel theirs. And they are always just a phone call away when you feel the world closing in around you. They celebrate life with you and are often times the reason to continue celebrating. They support you in all of your endeavors and make each success easier to attain. And they each have their own role in the story of your life. The older you get, the more each friendship is tested. The value of the friends that are there through each chapter is one that should never be taken for granted. I think God put us all here together to take care of each other. And I realize more every day that I am well taken care of.


during my pediatric rotation, a little boy came into the clinic with his parents. he was dark skinned, which made it hard to tell how sick he was. if he had been white, he would have looked blue. this little boy at 9 months old was knocking on death's door. a med student saw him first and came out of the room waiting for the pediatrician. he hadn't been around kids much and asked me if i thought it was odd for a 9 month old to lay lifeless on an exam table and not really move. my eyes got big and i said go get the doctor even if she's with another patient. i went in the room by myself and the parents were from another country and were less than conversational. i can translate spanish pretty well, but what about the slang dialects of sudan? those of you who know about kids know that 9 month olds don't like strangers and should be a handful even if they are sick. he was barely awake. his hands and feet were like ice, and i could not feel a pulse anywhere. the doctor arrived and immediately took the boy down to the ER. we worked on him for 3 hours trying to get IV access to rehydrate him. nothing seemed to make him better, but he never lost consciousness. they stuck him with needles so many times,but his dehydration was so severe that he didn't even bleed. his parents were just there, and didn't seem to understand how serious this could be. he was on an exam table in the ER and looked so small and alone, that my heart just hurt. i was on my knees in the ER with my hands on this child holding his little arms and passing tourniquets, needles, gloves, or whatever else the staff asked for. nothing was working.and he still wasn't crying. after 2 hours, i took it upon myself to ask for blankets from the warmer to warm him up, but that didn't help either, so i just got on the table with him and held him close to my chest while everyone kept workin on him. he got down some pedialyte, but threw it back up all over my white coat, my pants, and my hands. so i just took the coat off and threw it on the floor. and continued to hold him as close as i could to warm him back up. and i prayed. i didn't know if god would let this child die, but if He did, at least he would not have to die feeling alone. it was funny to me that i didn't think of that first. the hug from the educated white girl,was ironically the 1st thing that helped. i will never forget him looking up at me with big black eyes and squeezing my little finger. finally, he responded to something. they finally stuck a huge needle threw the bone in his leg to get fluids in his little body. 5 minutes later he cried, and i think the 15 of us that had been workin on him wanted to cry with him. he was transferred to vandy and discharged 3 days later. the only thing wrong was dehydration from a stomach virus. kids in third world countries die of dehydration every second. it was totally preventable if someone would have explained to those parents that kids need a lot of fluids when they are sick. if they had kept him at home 3 more hours, he would have's a miracle they brought him in. i know that all of us have opinions about illegal immigrants and those who enjoy our country, but don't speak english, and likely don't pay taxes. if those with such harsh criticism had seen this little boy knock on death's door the way i did, i believe their hearts would soften. if we as a country spent as much of our breath teaching english as we do making jokes about those that don't speak it, i bet we'd all be better off. maybe less children would die every second from just not getting enough water. racism still exists, but i would like to think that in my country, it will not cause such a barrier that innocent children lose their lives because the educated won't teach and the poor can't ask. "too much is given, much is required." it's in the Bible.

what is hard about honduras

I have gone to Honduras every year since 2000. One year in preparation for our trip, our mission team had a meeting where those who had gone in previous years shared what they felt was the most difficult aspect. i sent the following story out in an email, and every time i read it, it improves my perspective on life. Subject: what's hard about hondurasFor all of you who don't know me that well, i'm long-winded at times, sothis could get wordy. but it's important. I need to reanswer the question of what is hard about honduras. everyone had good answers i know, but i must confess i barely listened. i kept thinking about what i was going to see, and surprisingly i know, was at a loss. In the meeting, i said i didn't know what was hard and went on to say a bunch of stuff i don't really remember. Today i was talking to a friend of mine andrealized what's hard, so i guess i will just have to tell you now. the first year i went to honduras, i had no idea what to really expect.each day was a whirlwind of events and honestly, i just tried to cope. iwant to tell you the story of my weakest, most frustrating moment. wewere somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and the biggest thing iremember was the millions of steps it took to get the the smallestchurch i've ever seen and the lack of bathroom facilities. i was apharmacy person that day and still rather clueless as to what to do. ispoke literally NO spanish. it was around 1:00 and the line of patients outside and down the stairs was more than overwhelming. it was so hot i felt sick. it seemed like everyone needed something and there was nothing i was doing that helped. every prescription i filled i needed help on and noone seemed to be in a good mood. the kids were terrible to deal with and even the people who never complained were frustrated already. i was about to reach a low point and wanted to just be at home in the states with people i could talk to (in english). on top of everything, i had to go to the bathroom and as mentioned earlier,in terms of facilities, there was a lack thereof. i needed some air. i went outside feeling unneeded, unwanted, useless, stupid, and weak. Ihate to be weak. so is sat down on the dirt next to the steps hoping forsomething, but i didn't know what. Whit and Linnea (2 american high school kids)were outside too, chasing kids. there was a honduran man out there preachingwith church flyers in his hand.the line of sick patients was ridiculously growing longer and i began to realize that a lot ofthose people would not get seen that day. i knew we weren't coming back.i almost started crying. all i could think about was why had i comehere? And the picture i was living in at that moment redefined the phrase "God-forsaken country". Then i saw this old man about 12 steps down from me, sitting down. helooked terrible. he was dirty, without teeth. his shoes were more holesthan shoes. his feet had cuts and scrapes that i knew would never reallyheal. he had no socks and his ankles were so swollen, they looked likethey had been broken more than once. he'd already come up so many steps,i couldn't believe he'd made it that far. it was just the icing on mycake at my own little pity party i was having for myself abouteverything that's wrong with the world that is seemingly out of mycontrol. To be completely honest, i was disappointed when he spotted me in myscrubs. they think we're all doctors, and i knew he would ask me forhelp. not only would i not be able to give it, but i wouldn't even beable to talk to him at all! No spanish. I'm crying now just remembering. He looked at me and started asking mequestions and pointing to his ankles and feet. Whit tried to translate,but the man had no teeth. i was so frustrated with everything, and i'm surei snapped at whit for not understanding. we all just sat there. it was adefining moment for me. i told the man not to move. i went in the clinic(which i affectionately remember as the shoebox) and found two ace bandages. i asked dr. roberston forsome strong ibuprofen for the man. Dr. robertson did hesitate at first, but i'msure the expression on my face deterred him from asking why this mandidn't have to wait in line. i got a package of baby wipes and a waterbottle. and i went back out. i sat down on the steps in front of thisreally old man and washed off his feet. i felt ashamed of myself and i tried to sniff back my tears, but it was too late. i wrapped up both ankles as goodas i could with the ace bandages. i took off my socks and put them on his feet and put his shoesback on. i asked whit to tell him how often to take the ibuprofen, butwhit couldn't because he was starting to cry a little too. the honduranpreacher was there with us and everyone had stopped in line to watch me.even the kids were still. Tears were rolling down my face and i wantedto crawl in hole for all the socks and shoes i knew were in my house athome. i was humbled beyond my imagination. the man told me his name andpointed to the sky trying to talk to me about God. he blessed me overand over and had tears in his eyes of gratitude. but i didn'tunderstand. the preacher and whit finally understood and told me what hewas saying. but i was crying too hard to say much back. whit told himwhy we were there as best he could. the man wrote his name down on oneof those flyers and gave it to me. i still have it. He started to walkback down those millions of stairs. i couldn't even watch him. Whit and i bonded that day. i knew to everyone watching i haddone something really great. but i felt sick inside because 15 minutesbefore i had been selfish and childish enough to want to go home and runfrom all the opportunities i had there to bring glory to God. that's thegreat thing about god. he doesn't mind how weak we are. in our lowestmost difficult moments, he defines himself in us. That day, God gave mea small taste of all the crap jesus saw when he walked among us. That day ended up being my best day in honduras. after that, i stayedoutside. the kids just flocked to me. Mrs. Lindsay always tells thestory about the day i taught all the kids even though i didn't speak anyspanish. it embarrasses me when she tells it, because i remember why ifirst went outside. That all happened the same day.I think about all of that when i don't really want to pack meds or idon't want to sing anymore spanish songs. i think about it when i'mtired of soliciting medical supplies from rich pharmaceutical companies or rushing to meeting at 8:30 only to getdone at 11:00 and have to get the next day for school or work. It reminds me that i am not entitled. but i have been given much. and too much is given, much is is in our weakest moments that either god or satan make a mark on theworld with us. it can either end up really scary and depressing orreally amazing and motivating.I'm sorry this was so long, but that's what i think is hard abouthonduras. the same stuff that makes it hard, also makes it worth it,which makes it great. But the hardest part is hearing God above my own selfishness and then acting on it. and my selfishness can get really loud.but i now believe you can even tithe with the socks you are wearing. and that can be enough -rachel Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it."