Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lessons from a Blind Beggar with Big Faith

Lately I've been reading through My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, an excellent book full of meaningful insights and challenges from the author. One of the Biblical events brought to life in this book is the story of the blind beggar who called out after Jesus as He passed by (Luke 18:35-43). Despite the crowd’s rebuke that he should remain silent, the beggar was persistent and kept calling after Jesus, and, instead of giving up, he “shouted all the more” (Luke 18:39b). According to Chambers we must be like this beggar and “Persist in the disturbance until you get face to face with the Lord Himself; do not deify common sense. When Jesus asks us what we want Him to do for us in regard to the incredible thing with which we are faced, remember that He does not work in the common sense ways, but in supernatural ways” (p. 60). 
Reading this was a challenge for me to not stop with ordinary prayers with easily attainable outcomes, but to ask God for the seemingly miraculous or unattainable things. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Lord wants us to ask Him for the small things, but I think He also wants us to have faith like this blind beggar and ask Him for the seemingly ridiculous and impossible thing, that we may experience His supernatural power in our lives. According to Chambers, “If it is an impossibility, it is the thing we have to ask” (p. 60). The blind beggar, when asked by the Lord, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41), asked Him for the impossible—to receive his sight. And he did!

According to Chambers, “Faith is not in what Jesus says but in Himself”. I thought this was so true and fitting for many of us today when we stare into the blackness and mystery of the future, shrouded by uncertainties and unknowns. There is only one thing that is certain and in which we can hope—the character of Christ, a man who never changes, more than that, a God who never fails or forsakes us, His beloved. It is my own self-will that causes me not to trust Him. My worry is only evidence of the immaturity of my trust in Him and my forgetfulness to remember Who He is. 

Today, let us remember the goodness and faithfulness and promised provision of our God and pray for what we think are impossibilities.

Chambers, O. (1997). My utmost for His highest. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour & Co

NCLEX Scheduling Information

When you schedule your NCLEX, there are three main steps you need to take (possibly more depending on the state). The three steps are register online with the State Board of Nursing with which you wish to be licensed, register with Pearson, and get fingerprinted. In North Carolina the cost of registering to be considered eligible to sit for boards was $75 and is done through Nurse Gateway, which is the portal used to register and check the status of your application to become an RN. The cost to actually take the test at one of Pearson's testing centers was $200. For the background check, the cost of the background investigation was $38, and the cost to have my fingerprints taken with the LiveScan (a requirement of the NC state board of nursing [NCBON]) was $10 at the nearest LiveScan equipped police department in NC. For more information about testing in North Carolina, see the NCBON website and check out the information listed under the licensure/listing tab.

Once you have filled out all your information online or on paper forms (depending on your state protocol), routed your official transcript electronically or through the mail (NC requires electronic for out of state school applicants such as Liberty), registered with Pearson Vue, and submitted your fingerprints and release of personal information, you will await the approval to test (ATT). Once you receive your ATT, schedule your test RIGHT AWAY! I, unfortunately, waited about 30 hours to schedule my test after receiving my ATT because I wanted to take more practice quizzes and see how I was doing before scheduling my test  date. I had no idea that test dates were filling up quickly, and I was forced to wait several more weeks than I would have liked to test.

The story of my NCLEX is to be continued...I test on June 16th.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Springboarding Your Worries

A couple weeks ago my mom sent me a text with a great reminder about trusting the Lord and not worrying. It said something along the lines of "pray as much as you worry." What she meant by that is to turn your worries into prayer. I like to think of this as a springboard. When you're worried that your patient won't make it or you won't make it through nursing school or through the midterms or whatever you're worried about, redirect your attention off of yourself and your own inadequacies and focus on the Lord and His all-sufficiency.

This is illustrated by a passage I was reading last night in Psalms. The passage describes what Anne Shirley would call "the depths of despair". The psalmist was in a dark time when everyone seemed to be against him—even the Lord (Psalm 88:7). Even so, he remembered the "steadfast love" and "faithfulness" of the Lord and cried out for His mercy (Ps. 88:11). While the troubles of life were surrounding Him, he recollected the "wonders" of the Lord (Ps. 88:12). He cried to the Lord daily and spread out his hands to the Lord (Ps. 88:9) even though the Lord's wrath laid heavy upon him (Ps. 88:7).

When I read this passage, I was so impressed by the psalmist trust in the goodness of the Lord despite his depressed circumstances that I was challenged to examine my own heart and the way I respond when I am faced by trials. This man was desperate for the Lord and expectantly asked the Lord for renewed favor. How much more should we trust our Lord in every circumstance? Like the psalmist, we should see trials, troubles, and even potential troubles that we worry could happen as opportunities to come before the Lord in prayer.

Here are some scriptures to remind us of the God we serve and the power of prayer:
"Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken" (Ps. 55:22).

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!" (Ps. 37:4-7).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Perfect Peace

How many of us wish we lived in "perfect peace" all the time? I know I do. Isaiah 26:3 says, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Now that's a promise! Over the past few days the Lord has been convicting me that I often allow myself to become distracted by the "cares of this world" (Mark 4:19) that easily crowd out thoughts of my Savior. Instead of continually renewing my focus on Him and devoting myself to Him "in body and spirit" (1 Cor. 7:34), I all too easily allow my focus to drift away from Him to things like homework, clinicals, and grades. 

I know that it the middle of the semester, and that this can be a difficult time with Mid-Terms and exams that just don't seem to end in Nursing School, but I want to challenge you, as I am challenging myself, to remain focused on the Lord. I was reading in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers this morning, and Chambers challenged his readers to "use your imagination to put yourself before God" (p. 42). What he meant by that was to use your imagination (your thoughts) in a way worthy of the Lord (Phil. 4:8-9). Instead of our imagination living in a starved state because it is set on thinking about whatever our empty impulses desire, we can instead set our thoughts to contemplate the majesty and the wonder of God. Where can we look for our inspiration? The beauty of sunsets artfully painted by God, the trickling or thundering waterfall pouring over the side of a cliff, the majestic scene of mountains overlaid with clouds of water vapor, the starry host of heaven twinkling in an inky sky--these are all launching boards for our imaginations to imagine God--to consider and meditate on His power, majesty, and grace in saving us mere humans. 

When setting our mind on Christ our King and Creator, we have no reason to fear the future, to worry about what will come our way, or to think for a moment that He might not come through for us this time. Instead we can rejoice with the psalmist who realized the majesty and the wonder of God and found "perfect peace" in Him. Psalm 8:1-4, 9: "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? . . . O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maternal Child Critical Care Program:Perspective of a Graduate

Warning: to all readers, if you are reading this I assume that you understand that you are about to enter the nerd-dom of Maternal Child Critical Care Certificate Program (MC-CCCP) NOT the original of adults in CCCP. This is the world of patients the size of teacup poodle puppies. This is NOT the world of ER re-runs and those ever-popular shots of scrub-bedecked heroes running down endless halls and pumping with all their might on the chests of unresponsive patients. This is the world of two-finger compressions, micro-changes in IV calculations, tiny bodies that require exquisitely careful care and much peace and quiet, inexpressible joy, broken hearts and messed-up homes. Welcome to MC-CCCP.

As noted, this is not adult CCCP. When I took it last year, we did not operate or run codes like the CCCP students. We spent more time in lecture and with guest speakers and less time running mock codes than our “adult” neighbors last year. Most of our practice was self-taught, with us designing and running our own scenarios. Considering the feedback we got from instructors after we all passed NRP and PALS, we were a pretty demanding set of self-teachers! All that to say, if you take MC-CCCP, you need to be motivated to learn. Like all of the nursing program, you get results in proportion to the effort you make.

If you do persevere and learn, it is a program you will never forget. I had the incredible privilege of working in a NICU. It was a small one and by weekend #2, my instructors were turning me loose to do basics on my own (with them only a few feet away in the tiny department). By the last weekend I was essentially put in charge of the patients assigned to my instructor and myself. I had the joy of watching the light bulb come on in a tiny child’s mind as he finally understood the idea of nursing from a special preemie bottle and took a giant step toward going home. I got to share that joy when his mom came to see him. My heart broke as I cared for and loved on babies only to meet their families, people unprepared for this responsibility. One had not even wanted the babies in the first place and could not make it into the department without crying. Then there was the one father who could win a smile from his tiny daughter and make her calm down and go to sleep against his chest, staying as long as he could just to be with her. Above all was the wonder and joy of working with some of the most beautiful creations God ever designed and sent to give us a taste of what unconditional love is and demands.
Fun epilogue: I do not currently work with any of the patient populations we covered in MC-CCCP. God has placed me for a time in long-term care and rehab. However, the skills of MC-CCCP have shown up here too! I was trained to face the worst, which makes it easier to prioritize and keep a levelheaded approach to a constant deluge of problems of all sizes. There are also basic concepts that apply to everyone: everyone must breathe, their hearts must pump and blood must circulate. And everyone is hungry for unconditional love. 

The above post was written by Elizabeth Houser, RN and graduate of the MC-CCCP

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Critical Care Certificate Program

Over the past year I have received numerous questions regarding the Critical Care Certificate Program (CCCP) from nursing students at Liberty University. Most often these questions revolve around what the program is and how it benefits students interested in critical care nursing.

The Critical Care Certificate Program gives students the advantage of taking three American Heart Association tests that nurses normally will not take until they have already graduated. These three tests are Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). Taking these tests before graduation allows Liberty Nursing students to achieve more qualifications for a nursing job than most new nursing grads, in effect, giving students an extra advantage. This is particularly helpful for positions, such as those in an intensive care unit (ICU) or emergency department (ED), that require these certifications be acquired soon after being hired.

Another advantage of the CCCP is the numerous hours that are spent in simulation, running code blues, interpreting EKGs, selecting and administering the appropriate drugs to the simulation patients, performing CPR, delivering breaths with an Ambu bag, and practicing recording drugs and interventions given during a response to cardiopulmonary arrest. This provides the opportunity to learn in a low-stress environment by working through real-life scenarios that allow you and your peers to learn from your and others' mistakes as well as successes.

I am currently in the Adult CCCP and loving it! We start each NURS 465 class with two hours of lecture, break for lunch, then come back and run mock codes for three hours. An added benefit is NURS 465 (for the Adult CCCP) counts for the nursing elective required to graduate from Liberty's Nursing Program.

Another advantage of being a part of the CCCP (both Maternal/Child and Adult) is you will be given preference during selection for Leadership. This means that your requests for Leadership clinicals will be looked at first before your peers who are not in the program. The reason for this is that you will need to complete 140 hours of Leadership (NURS 490) clinicals in a critical care setting, such as an ICU or ED, which is greater than the 90 hours of Leadership required of your peers. If you get into the Adult CCCP, you will also have the opportunity to shadow in a critical care setting of interest to you such as the CVOR, flight nursing, EMS/fire department, etc. These are great observational opportunities that you may never have again after graduation.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Relationships in Nursing School

I often am asked by other nursing students my opinion on relationships in nursing school and whether it’s possible to have a boyfriend while in enrolled in such a rigorous program such as Liberty’s. My response in the past was to smile and remind the nursing student who asked the question that God is in control of everything, including her love story. While I used to point out that I knew several nursing students who had boyfriends, were engaged or even married, now I can testify from personal experience that it is possible to have a boyfriend and still be a successful nursing student, which was the real issue my nursing friends were getting at with their questions.

Desire for companionship and love is a natural longing deep-seated within the heart of a woman; nevertheless, it is dangerous to want a boyfriend just for the sake of having one. One of my friends told me recently that her goal for the year was to “get a boyfriend”. The problem with this thinking is that if you seek to make something happen—like getting a boyfriend—you may miss out on a better plan that God has for you. Solomon shares some insight into this in Ecclesiastes; “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: . . . a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; . . . a time to love, and a time to hate” (3:1, 5b, 6a, & 8a). The Song of  Solomon also speaks about waiting on God’s timing in your life; “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (3:5).

To all the single nursing students, guys and girls, this is just a reminder to let God write your love story. Seek the Lord in prayer before entering any romantic relationship—just like I hope you do with every other decision you make. If there is no one in your life right now, do not be discouraged. Jesus is your Bridegroom King (Isaiah 54:5, 10), and He loves you with a love no other human being on this planet could ever match (Jeremiah 31:3). Rejoice in His love for you, and be content in waiting (Phil 4:4, 12).

When that special person does come into your life, be sure to have good time management. I used to joke before I was courting that I was dating my textbooks—not really an exaggeration for how much time I spent with them. Since I still study a lot, I have to be intentional about taking time to just be with my boyfriend and talk or do something fun. (Yes, having fun is important for single nursing students too! You should try it sometime). When the time comes, remember you can—and I often do—spend time with your significant other while studying. You both have to be able to stay focused, but it is possible to get a lot done and still be in the same room.

On a final note, I want to remind you all not to fall for the nasty Liberty rumor that you have to meet your spouse at Liberty University or you will never find anybody. One of my friends graduated from the nursing program single and unattached over a year ago...she's getting married this Saturday to the man of her dreams, who she met after graduation! So, if you graduate with no one in the romantic sphere of your life, trust the Lord. He may have a surprise waiting on the other side of graduation.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ministers of Healing

During Christ's ministry on earth, He faced much opposition from the Pharisees who sought to enforce their own interpretation of the Law of Moses. On one occasion there was a man with a withered hand in the synagogue. The Pharisees were watching intently to see if Jesus would heal this man, an act they assumed broke the Mosaic Law to do no work on the Sabbath. When Christ was asked if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, He responded this way: “. . .Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”  (Matthew 12:11-12).

The value of one human life in the eyes of God is beyond our comprehension. What a great privilege we have as nurses to share Christ's love daily, including the Lord's day! I believe this verse shows us that we need not worry about breaking the Sabbath when we are scheduled to work on Sundays because Christ Himself chose to heal on the Sabbath. We follow His example as ministers of healing when we take every opportunity to do good by using our nursing skills to bring healing and restoration to our patients' bodies and spirits.   

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Join the Liberty Nursing Journal Club

As many of you know a few senior nursing students founded the first Liberty Nursing Journal Club for our Department last semester. As the Club's President, I would like to invite you all to join the Liberty Nursing Journal Club for an exciting time of learning from each other about the latest research in fields like Cardiology, Neurology, Trauma Nursing, and Critical Care. Participating in this student-led group will give you the opportunity to explore ground-breaking research in nursing and discuss how this information applies to you and your future practice with your peers.

The LU Nursing Journal Club meets once monthly for about one hour. Dates will be advertised in the Nursing Department Office on the Department's kiosk. You can also check out the Liberty Nursing Journal Club Facebook page

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Shall Fear No Evil

This morning I undertook the task of re-memorizing Psalm 23, a chapter I learned when I was 6. After reading it a few times, I decided to turn it into a prayer of thanksgiving to God. It was only after doing this that my heart was impacted by the magnitude of His love and grace toward me, His child.

The LORD, the Great I AM, the Lord of Angel Armies, is my Shepherd, and He takes care of my needs so that I do not lack anything (Psalm 23:1). He not only gives me the peace I need to rest (John 14:27), but He makes me take a break and lie down like sheep in green pastures (Psalm 23:2a). He leads His sheep, His Church, by still waters--waters I can drink from and not be swept away (Psalm 23:2b). He again is protecting me from danger as a Good Shepherd would. He restores my soul when my spirit is weak and exhausted (Psalm 23:3a); He imparts new joy. I am continually able to rejoice in His mercies, which are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24)! 

Even though I do not know the future or the path that my feet will take, I can trust that God will lead me in the path of righteousness in order to bring His name honor and glory (Psalm 23:3b). And even if the path I take brings me right into the valley of death, I shall fear no evil because my God--who created the valley--is with me and will lead me through to the other side in safety (Psalm 23:4). I know that God is my Salvation; I will trust Him (Isaiah 12:2) and not fear the enemy who stalks in darkness (Psalm 91:6). In fact, the Lord blesses me even when I am in the presence of my enemies (Psalm 23:5).

Truly, it is good to follow the Lord! He takes such great care of His people, the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). He causes us to experience His goodness and mercy every day of our lives (Psalm 23:6). And when our time on earth is fulfilled, we will dwell with Christ in the house He has prepared for us forever (John 14:3). Praise the Lord for His continual faithfulness and mercy!