God's Roadmap

"Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart" (Proverbs 7:3).


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Emergency Santas

The following is an email I received from a friend who has been in the Emergency Services field for many years. Remember to thank these public servants this holiday season. This post is lengthy but it is well worth taking the time to read.

From my 38 years in the field of Emergency Medical Services, I found this to be quite interesting.   Over the 25 plus years I “rode” the ambulance as a Paramedic, my wife can testify to the many Christmas Eves and Days that I had to do my duty and miss out on some special times at home.  It was, however, never without some very special blessings that came our way while serving others during the hours around Christmas.  Something magical always seemed to happen and we were placed in some very special situations where not only medical help was needed, but many times we were given the opportunity to minister to the lowly and downtrodden who otherwise had no chance for a Christmas as we knew it.  It was during those special moments that God allowed us to be used to bring a smile, relieve some burdens, share some tears, or provide for some needs for those whose only connection to someone who seemed to care came from a 911 call.
 
To this day, I can think back on those “special” Christmases and feel the joy in my heart that came as a result of God’s Divine interventions and how he always orchestrated in His perfect timing the needs of the less fortunate to meet with those who were willing and prepared to serve.   Due to those experiences over the years, in some supernatural way, it convinced me that my profession was a “calling” like no other, and there was nothing in this world that I would rather devote my time and efforts to.  What an honor it has been to have answered all these calls for assistance over these nearly 4 decades and get the blessings from them that I cannot begin to explain.  Thanks be to God for the gifts He gives us and for allowing us to be put in the positions to use them to His glory.
 
Say a special prayer this Christmas to all those EMTs and Paramedics, Firefighters, and Public Servants out there protecting us and coming to the calls of those in need.  Next time you hear the sirens or see the ambulances trying to make their way through traffic, just stop and remember the story of the Good Samaritan.  While many passed by the one in desperate need, ONE took the time to stop and help a stranger who was very different from him and he did so out of unconditional love. 
 
God Bless them all.
Russ McGee

This article was taken from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services and shared by Russ McGee.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. But up in the city where life carried on,  Paramedics responded to their own siren song ... 

It was late afternoon, cloudy, starting to get pretty chilly. “Medic 16, 2763 East Washington, Mental/Emotional, police on scene.” We pulled up in front of the cruiser and shut down the lights. Two young officers were standing by a woman who was sitting on a ledge outside of the library. The female officer told us the woman had called because she was living in a shelter down the street, but when she came back after taking a walk, the Sisters who ran the shelter told her she was acting strangely and they thought they smelled alcohol on her breath, so, being a dry shelter, wouldn’t let her back in.

“Do you guys have a PBT?” I asked. 

“No, we’d have to call another car. She says she wants to go to the hospital to get tested because she denies drinking and has nowhere else to go. We didn’t know what to do for her so we called you.” 

“Hi, I’m Guy, I’m a paramedic. What’s your name?”

 “Cindy.” 

“So what’s going on Cindy?”

Cindy repeated what the officer had already told me. She has been homeless for a long time and has various mental health issues for which she is taking medication. Her doctor changed her medication a few days ago. She said she was feeling a little better today so she decided to go outside and take a walk for the first time in a long time. She explained she felt happier today than she had been for a while, and she even smiled a little. She denied having had any alcohol, and thought maybe the Sisters attributed her elevated mood to booze.

I performed a gaze test, smelled no alcohol, and detected no intoxication.

 “So do you think if we go back to the shelter and I tell the Sisters I don’t find any evidence of alcohol they will let you back in?”

 Everyone agreed it was worth a shot. So this unlikely procession of two cops, two medics and Cindy trooped down the street, chatting, until we reached the shelter. I rang the doorbell and a Sister in blue-and-white Mother Theresa-styled robes greeted us. I told her that I had completed a field assessment and found no evidence of alcohol or intoxication, explained the possible effects of the new medications, and asked the Sister if she would let Cindy come in from the cold. She was happy to do so, explaining that they had to maintain a very strict no intoxication policy for the safety of all the women at the shelter. Hands were shaken, holiday greetings given, I got a hug from Cindy, and we went our separate ways.

Toward evening we were dispatched to one of the downtown missions. The Squad was already there assessing Sam, who had gotten dizzy a couple of times during the day and lost his balance. Sam didn’t look so good: jaundiced, poor skin turgor, out of it. His blood sugar was 98 but his blood pressure was 76/68. He hadn’t felt well for a few days. He was also short of breath and wheezing. Sam apologized several times for disturbing us on Christmas Eve. We assured him there was nothing to apologize for.

Five-hundred mls of normal saline and a breathing treatment later Sam looked and sounded much better. By the time we rolled to Bed 2 and the hospital team came in, I was happy to explain that Sam looked a lot better now than he did when we picked him up. Sam smiled and thanked us again. We told him we were sorry he had to spend Christmas Eve at the hospital, but I was thinking to myself that were it me, I would rather be in the hospital than sleeping on the floor at the mission. We shook hands, wished each other good tidings, I got another thank you from Sam, and we went our separate ways. We finally got back to the firehouse.

The engine crew was watching It’s a Wonderful Life. We joined them but it wasn’t long before the tones dropped for an injury. On scene we were flagged down by a woman who explained to us that her baby's daddy had gotten drunk and slipped and fell on the ice. We went inside to find a 20-something-year old guy on the couch moaning, telling us his leg was broken. 

Well, it was more like, “My leg is broken, I know it. Is my leg broken? I know it is. Is it?”

 After a far-too-drawn-out discussion regarding the fact that in order to help him we had to actually get his pants off and look at his leg, we finally got Ben’s pants off and guess what—he was right. I could feel the disturbing grinding of crepitus with minimal movement of the leg. A SAM Splint and a good deal of interfamilial drama later, we finally got Ben into the ambulance. An IV and some fentanyl went a long way to improving interpersonal relations, and on the way to the hospital, to distract him from his injury (and because I find people interesting) I coaxed out his story.

Ben had been released from prison about a month earlier. He was 27, had a 14-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, and a bunch of felonies that had kept him in the poky much of his young life. He was now working at the first regular job he has ever had, and he loved it—loved to be able to start providing for his family. But tonight, Christmas Eve, he and his girlfriend were arguing about his drinking and the fact they had nothing for the kids for Christmas. 

Yes, he acknowledged it would be more responsible of him to buy presents than booze, but he said it was hard not to drink because not being able to provide for his family made him feel less of a man. He started to tear up. Crap, I said to myself, did it have to be It’s a Wonderful Life on the tube just before we caught this run? I told him when we got to the hospital  I would ask around to see if there was anything left from one of the hospital’s holiday toy drives.

 After transferring care to the hospital staff, I talked to the nurses and a social worker about his plight, but there were no toys left at the hospital. So I talked to my partner and we came up with a plan. We called our lieutenant and asked to remain out of service for a little while after the call to accomplish a “detail.” There was a CVS open down the block from the hospital. We drove over and started walking up and down the aisles, quickly finding a basketball, Nerf gun and bag of plastic soldiers for the boy, and a large squishy stuffed dog, shaggy pink slippers and a fingernail applique set for the girl. Yes, I know, we were gender stereotyping; but time was short, and we figured the parents could distribute them in as egalitarian a manner as they wished. We enjoyed the bemusement and good nature of the cashier as we paid for our purchase and loaded them in the truck. We split the bill.

We drove back to the hospital and slipped the toys and a roll of wrapping paper into Ben’s room. Beaming, he thanked us and asked whom he should say the presents were from. “Santa of course,” we replied. The nurses said they would help with the wrapping. We shook hands, exchanged Yuletide greetings, and went our separate ways. But at least there would be two fewer kids in the city that wouldn’t go without on Christmas morning.

I  can’t remember if we had any runs that Christmas Eve that required very much of our medical knowledge or ability. In the street it’s essential to have that knowledge, skill and judgment to be able to treat effectively any injury or illness that greets us when we arrive “on scene.” But, eventually, we begin to understand that this knowledge and skill make up the basics; they are the curriculum of EMS 101.

When we were young, we would brag to each other about the upside-down digital intubation or the chest decompression with the lawn dart or the rescue with the skyhook. Students and rookies measure their worth in the number and girth of the plastic tubes they can shove in the right place; assess value in the quantity of shootings and stabbings and dramatic wrecks and MCIs they attend. Eventually, though, enough tubes have been inserted that their value diminishes; enough dramatic calls responded to that they blur together and fade.

But with this passage of time and hopefully mellowing of character, it’s things of a very different nature that stand out in greater contrast from the background noise of EMS. Gradually the tale of the 14-gauge angiocath inserted in the external jugular through the car’s sunroof while dangling off the overpass is replaced by the story of the sad woman helped back to shelter on a cold Christmas eve; the tale of the fellow offered genuine concern when he got sick at the mission; the anecdote of the father given a hand to feel a little more worthy in the eyes of his children, and his children given a few toys to feel a little more valued on Christmas morning. Such acts can assuage the sadness born of our daily portion of poverty and sickness and violence, can be a balm to the existential sadness that comes from trying to hold back the flood of pain and suffering and anger, call after call, and shift after shift.

So be of good cheer. Our vocation may not offer us much in the way of material reward—this is certainly true. But it does offer us great opportunity to make our world a better place in many small ways—even for the least among us. Amen

Nothing you could say would add to that story. Thanks to all our emergency personnel who sacrifice their time and safety to take care of us. A special thanks to the Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Georgia for their care this week during our two visits to the emergency room which resulted in an overnight stay for my husband. Thankfully, we were able to come home on Christmas Eve. I hope all of you had a wonderful, emergency free Christmas!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Don't Limit God

Book Review Friday
by Barbara Latta

Did you know you could limit what God wants to do in your life?

Have you ever considered that the benefits of what God has done for you is determined by you being willing to receive it?

In his book, Don't Limit God, Andrew Wommack shares insights he has gained over his forty years of ministry that have helped him gain the success he needs to fulfill God's call on his life.

Andrew shares examples of times in his life when he limited God and the outcome was frustration and more hardships than necessary.  Andrew shows us how we can learn from the mistakes of the Israelites while they wandered in the wilderness instead of believing God and following His directives. 

Reading this book can change your life and the way you view success.

Don't Limit God is available at www.awmi.net or on Amazon.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Follow The Star

by Barbara Latta

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him’.” (Matthew 3:1-2)

Men from a land to the east of Israel followed a star to guide them to the infant King they had read about in the prophecies of scripture. They studied the signs in the sky which verified what they were reading. These men knew God has spoken and they followed His directives.

When the dry wind of the desert blew across their faces, burning eyes, cutting skin, and filling their mouths and noses with sand, they still followed the star. Mile after mile they trudged because their hearts burned with the truth of what they followed.

Days blurred into each other as the trip extended into weeks. Most scholars think the baby Jesus was around two years old when visited by the Magi because of the order of King Herod to kill boys two years old and under. Whether these wise men started their search two years before Jesus was even born, or it took two years to decide to make the journey and then complete the trip, we don’t know. But we do know they traveled a long distance, endured the hardships of travel, and maybe even suffered ridicule from some of their peers. “You are following a star to find a Jewish King?” they could have asked.

Did they see the star during the day? I don’t know. It could have been brightly shining during the daylight as well; but if the glow wasn’t beaming in the sunny sky, they still kept going even without the visible sign they had been following. Did they wonder each day if it would reappear at night?

Nevertheless, they sought, followed and fulfilled their goal. They didn’t waver in their quest. They listened to God’s messenger when they were warned of Herod’s evil intentions, thus preventing Herod from knowing where they found the young family.

What can we learn from these wise travelers?
  • God’s Word contains His message. We need to follow it.
  • Hardships will come against us to try to deter us from our quest, but the truth is worth pressing on for.
  • The voice of evil will try to trick us into believing a lie, but following God’s warnings will keep us from being deceived.
  • Peers may ridicule us and think we are fanatics, but finding the King will silence our doubts.
  • Keep going in the direction of the star and we will stay on track.
·      
The bright shine in the sky led these wise men to Bethlehem and the baby, yet all the searching of Herod’s soldiers couldn’t find Jesus. Herod was blinded by His own agenda and had himself on the throne. God’s guidance gives us the way we need to go. Doing things our own way blinds us to wisdom and closes the door on the answers we need.

What does the star say to you this season?


Friday, December 19, 2014

Bridge To Haven

Book Review Friday

by Barbara Latta

In Bridge To Haven, New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers, takes the reader into the world of 1950's Hollywood and its dark secrets through the life of a lost girl searching for hope.

 Abra, an abandoned baby, grows up feeling like she never belongs even though adopted by a loving family. Searching for acceptance, she finds the choices she is making are taking her farther into a den of iniquity and pain from which there is no escape. She finds out the superficial world of fame and fortune is a crumbling foundation for acceptance and love.

While striving to become a famous actress, the requirements of a celebrity lifestyle are never satisfied and eat away at her soul one bite at a time. The voices in her head keep telling her how unworthy she is and no one will ever love her. She can never go back home.

While this book is not the caliber of Redeeming Love or The Mark of the Lion series (but to me nothing else ever will be), Francine Rivers still tells a story with a redemptive theme, showing that no matter how bad the situation is a person can still cross a bridge they thought was burned long ago.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday's Tips

Floor Socks
by Barbara Latta

If you have a floor sweeper that uses disposable cloths, you may run out of cleaning supplies before you are aware of it. 

What do you do? Grab your keys and run to the store? No, of course not.

Go through your pile of unmatched socks (you know, those the dryer eats and never gives back the mate). Slide one sock over each end of the mop base and presto: you have a mop. I also did this with a reusable mop when the pad became torn and I was needing something in a hurry. And rather than throwing them away, you can wash and reuse. 

Of course, the dryer may not give them back!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Never Ending Gift

by Barbara Latta
Each Christmas season we see plays and read stories depicting the Nativity scene with angels descending and proclaiming, “glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14). These words are quoted often, printed on cards, and sung in songs; yet the world is at war, kids are shooting each other, financial disasters abound, and terrorism threatens us all. Where is peace?

It wasn’t peace on earth the angels sang about, but peace between God and mankind. Even Jesus Himself said he did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). Trusting Him would require a person to commit to God’s ways and separate themselves from the wrong they had done. Friends and family familiar with the old ways wouldn’t like the change. Division would occur.

The world’s turmoil is caused by strife between groups of people. Because humans have no peace in their hearts, fighting and anger grow creating havoc and war. Selfishness rules with pain and heartache becoming the result.

Peace is not the absence of conflict in the world, but the absence of conflict in your heart. It is the Christmas gift God gave to all of us over 2,000 years ago. No matter what is going on around us, we can have a peaceful soul if we let this gift be ours. Peace never wears out, doesn’t need batteries, doesn’t need to be returned, and can be used in every season.

Before Jesus left the earth He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 NKJV).

Peace is a never ending gift. Are you a willing recipient?


Friday, December 12, 2014

The Price of Pearls

Book Review Friday

by Barbara Latta

Peeling back the layers of her life, Patricia Manns opens her heart to share the pain of searching for purpose, acceptance, and peace. Growing up during the 1950’s and attending college in the tumultuous 1960’s, she takes the reader through her experiences of bad decisions and harmful relationships followed by the painful consequences.

Suffering from years of depression but not knowing the underlying cause, the pain of her soul led her to find the One who could ultimately make the difference in the value of her life. Her new found freedom brought the security and confidence to face the challenges of life and release the past.


The Price of Pearls is a journey from bondage to peace, the discovery of real love, and an everlasting possession of a new identity.

This book is available at amazon.com.

 You can visit Patricia's blog a www.treasurechestmoments.com. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Does Your Sink Stink?


Tuesday's Tips

Holiday cooking, rushed time schedules, and maybe even more people than usual in your kitchen can leave some messes we don't get cleaned up like we want. If you drains are suffering from stinky pipes and need a little refreshing, try this:


1 cup salt
1 cup soda
¼ cup cream of tarter

Mix well  and keep in an airtight jar.

Use ¼ cup in drain followed by boiling water

Your sink will smile and be very happy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Manger and the Mercy Seat

by Barbara Latta

When we hear the Christmas story recorded in the book of Luke and read about the manger where Mary laid the newborn babe, the image of a wooden box full of hay comes to mind. But research shows that mangers in those days were usually a carved stone trough and were sometimes on the ground floor of a house so the animals could be close by.
Stone feeding trough in Israel

Jesus came to earth to die (John 18:37). His purpose was already being displayed when he was born. The baby would have been rubbed with salt and oil (Ezekiel 16:4), wrapped in strips of cloth,and then laid in a manger (Luke 2:7). Angels were proclaiming his birth.

At His death, he was anointed with about one hundred pounds of spices, wrapped in a linen cloth, then laid on a stone slab in a tomb (John 19:38-40). At His resurrection, two angels were sitting at the head and the foot where he had lain (John 20:12), which paints a perfect picture of the Mercy Seat—a slab on top of the Ark of the Covenant covered with two angels one on each end.

The priest would sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat covering the sins of the nation each year (Hebrews 9:6-7). Jesus entered heaven and sprinkled His blood on the altar to atone for our sins forever (Hebrews 9:11-15). The blood shed during the birthing process showed us He was the Son of Man, the blood shed at His death was as the Son of God.

Christmas is the manger bringing to us the blood on the Mercy Seat—and that is the greatest gift of all.

What does that gift mean to you?


Leave a comment beginning today until Monday, December 8 at midnight and be entered into a drawing for Jerry Jenkins novella, Holding Heaven.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Driftwood Tides

Book Review Friday
by Barbara Latta


Libby Slater is engaged to a wonderful man, she has a perfect job, and a high society mother who wants her to have the wedding of the century.

While Libby’s mother is planning the wedding she wants her daughter to have, Libby is finding out things about herself she has never known. Like adoption papers.

Searching for the answers to her identity and with hopes of meeting her biological mother, Libby sets out to Nags Head, the last address recorded for the woman who gave her birth. Leaving her fiancĂ©e and demanding mother behind for the summer, Libby’s search turns up painful questions instead of answers when she finds out her mother has died and the husband she left behind doesn’t know of Libby’s existence.

A drunken driftwood artist and a woman desperately wanting to belong to a family become an unlikely pair while they both seek the answers a dead woman left behind.

Gina Holmes weaves a story of hope and redemption amidst the backdrop of the Carolina coast with characters rich in personalities that clash and dreams they all want to make come true.

This book is available at amazon.com. 

Share your thoughts about some of your favorite books.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Doggy Ears

Tuesday's Tips


Dogs sometimes suffer from ear fungus and other maladies that are unpleasant for them and us. Scratching, itching, and bad odors are something we don't want to deal with. Our groomer gave me this formula to keep the fungus at bay and ears smelling and feeling better.

Our dogs in the photo are Peanut, the dachshund mix, and Buster the snoodle. The German Shepherd and Chi-weenie belong to our son and daughter-in-law (RIP Weenie, sniff). With this family of canines among us we use this recipe a lot.
Peanut, Buster, Kato, Weenie

2 TBL water
2 TBL white vinegar
2 TBL alcohol

Mix together in a small squeeze bottle with a squirt top. I squeeze a few drops into the dogs ears every few days and massage in.

Next step, stand back for the shaking. 

What do you do to keep your pets fresh and clean?