The Kindness of our Florence Nightingales

nightengaleBy Karen Jurgens

Have you ever been sick in the hospital? My own experience brought me understanding about how kind and wonderful the nursing staff can be.

Back in the early nineties, I landed in Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Texas, for a period of two weeks, fighting for my life. The circumstances of my illness were an enigma to my internist and specialists alike, and at least twelve days elapsed before tests produced any conclusive evidence as to my malady’s name or cause.

Imagine this—severe chills with a fever of over 102 degrees, which refused to budge for weeks, and asthmatic problems requiring oxygen. At least twice a day, the phlebotomist visited and left with several vials for testing. The doctor tapped my lungs. My energy drained away, and I collapsed into complete exhaustion while the lab worked diligently around the clock to diagnose this mystery illness.

But during this waiting period, the Lord provided me comfort. My night nurse was like Florence Nightingale, visiting me in the wee hours to take my vital signs. Hearing her voice was like a drink of cool water to my weary, parched spirit, and I anticipated her nocturnal visits. I would complain about my condition, and she would actually listen, sympathizing with my suffering and trying to do those little things to bring some relief to my raging fever and chills. She clucked over me like a mother hen, bringing me Tylenol and ice water, fluffing up my pillows, and swaddling me in more warm blankets. Even after my door closed behind her, the comfort and compassion she brought with her remained. Along with constant prayer, her being there helped me through the nights, enabling me to face the next day.

After what seemed like an eternity, the tests produced a diagnosis—viral pneumonia and mononucleosis. A bad combination that medication couldn’t heal, but knowing their names brought its own relief. Sustaining patience helped in my convalescence for the next couple of months, until I eventually returned to perfect health.

Looking back on those days, I will always cherish the memory of that nurse as my Florence Nightingale while in the hospital. God bless everyone in the nursing profession because they are truly an appreciated and valuable arm of the Lord, bringing comfort to the sick everywhere.

KarenKaren Jurgens, a native Cincinnatian, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. Since retiring from teaching in 2014, she has begun a new career writing, blogging, and speaking within the context of Christian ministry.

Her first contemporary romance novella will be published Christmas, 2015. A Christmas Mosaic will be part of a multi-author anthology, Warm Mulled Kisses. She is a Crew Member at Jennifer Hallmark and Betty Thomason Owen’s Writing Prompts, Thoughts, and Ideas blog and a member of ACFW. You can follow her blog about scriptural answers to life’s trials at Touched by Him Ministries:

The Right Writers Conference

Betty Thomason Owens

childrenpolaroidI was a daydreamer as a child. Actually, I haven’t changed that much–I’m still a daydreamer. My childhood wasn’t always easy, so I tended to find a happier place and hang out there. The place I found was usually in my head and possibly connected to the latest book I’d read, or something I’d watched on television.

As a stay-at-home mom raising three young boys, I found another reason to retreat to the happy place. I began to write stories. At first, it was a hobby. Then, as I wrote more and more, it began to be something else.  A calling. And I knew, even if no one ever read anything I wrote, I’d still write.

But others did read my stories. I entertained family and friends. They were impressed and encouraged me to pursue my interest. I took a writing class at the local college, and the professor encouraged…

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The Prayers You Almost Didn’t Say

DSCF1508By Anne Garboczi Evans

There are so many things I’m grateful to God for. Really huge things. I think of our son who was born with a raging brain infection. I had a 108-degree fever during labor and when the doctor pulled our son out, he wasn’t breathing. Several weeks into NICU and a staggering amount of PICC line antibiotics later, the doctors were convinced our son would probably never hear, walk, or talk.  The NICU nurse explained to us that the county would send free occupational therapists into our home to give early intervention services for “Joe-Joe’s” disabilities.

Then infant Joe-Joe astounded medical staff by passing his hearing test with flying colors. Month after month as Joe-Joe met and surpassed every first-year milestone, all talk of early intervention was abandoned. Now he’s a perfectly healthy three-year-old. And every time he yells, “No, I won’t, Mama!” and throws his dinosaur in defiance, I praise the Lord that he’s able to do those things.Joe-Joe in NICU_Anne Garboczi Evans

God answered other prayers that year Joe-Joe was born. The summer before his birth, my husband was unemployed and I was finishing my unpaid master’s level internship. We were living in a bed-bug infested apartment in a section of Denver that did not feel safe to me. My husband had applied to hundreds of jobs and each one sent him a “we’re pursuing other, more qualified candidates” notice.

When my husband finally got an interview, I was on my knees day and night begging God to give him the job. Every time our church’s band started into the lyrics of Matt Redman’s “Blessed be your name, in the land that is plentiful” or “though I walk through the wilderness,” I told God, but please let it be the plentiful land. I want that one way more than the wilderness walk.

In August, God answered “Yes,” my husband started his new job, and we got pre-approved for a mortgage. Now our apartment, though small and stuffed with unpacked boxes, was adequate.  Thanks to a volcano eruption worth of diatomaceous earth, we’d killed the bedbugs and most of the cockroaches. But I wanted a house.

Several weeks before my husband drew his first paycheck, we went house-hunting with a real estate agent. Most of the houses in our price range were tiny split-levels that had a one-car garage squished into the house where a family room should be. But one house was a four-bedroom, two-story foreclosure set in an idyllic neighborhood in the best section of town.  It needed a lot of work, but we were young and handy. I looked at the green trees and walking trails by this house and compared them to the rat nest under the dumpster by our apartment. Instead of the creepy stares of hooded men who I’d convinced myself were gangsters, I saw smiling moms and friendly children playing on the local playground. There was even a house 2011_Anne Garboczi Evans

I could have survived a few more months in the apartment though morning sickness had me throwing up every time the neighbors cooked Indian food and the smell filtered through the discolored walls. Eventually, we would have found some kind of tiny split-level to call our own. But oh, how I wanted that house. We put in our offer and I spent every spare second talking to God.

As I pushed down on the brakes at a red light, I squeezed in a prayer. Walking through the grocery store, I cried out to God. “Please, please, I really want that house!” So many obstacles stood in the way. The possibility of another bidder, our excruciatingly slow mortgage company that almost lost us our contract, and the fact that, as a probationary employee-in-training, my husband’s job didn’t technically qualify us to receive a mortgage.

But God answered. This fall we’ll celebrate four years in our lovely two-story. I didn’t need that awesome of a house, but I sure appreciated it.

And that’s the thought I cling to when life doesn’t go my way, and God seems so very far from answering. God hasn’t just done the big miracles in my life; He’s done the little ones too. He’s not just in the business of answering the absolutely necessary, save your child from death prayers. God can also answer the prayers you almost didn’t pray, the prayers for the littler desires of your heart.

So when I’m stuck in the waiting stage, full of hope deferred and far-off dreams, I try to remember that. God’s done great things for me in the past. He’ll do them again.

Tech Talk with Ron Estrada

During the month of August, we’ll be posting interviews during our popular Saturday segment, Tech Talk. We’ll speak with editors, photographers, and other people who help writers become the best they can be in their chosen field. 

This is our last segment and we’re ending on a high-tech note. Author Ron Estrada shares with us how he uses Periscope to make his video blogs. Watch as he gives us a writing update using Periscope.

Ron Estrada is the author of Young Adult novels NOW I KNEW YOU and ANGEL ‘N ME, the first two books in his Cherry Hill series. He is also co-host of the Teen Writers Publish! podcast, teaching teens, young and old, how to write, publish, and market their novels. He’s a regular contributor to the Novel Rocket and My Book Therapy websites, as well as a regular columnist for Women2Women Michigan, a print magazine for which he is the only male columnist.

The 365 Jar

This week’s story came from the Kindness Blog. I love to visit there and see all the wonderful things people do for each other. They are kind enough to let me share with you. So look for posts from them in the upcoming months…

The 365 Jar

I Made a Present for My Girlfriend. It Took Some Time –

Starting off…

I started with an idea of an old-style US mason jar. I’m in Ireland, so it was quite hard to get my hands on one.

I finally found a place in Dublin that sold them and bought the largest one there – and it was a beauty. It holds 1892ml (half a gallon), which gives you an idea of its size – as I need it to fit the 365 handwritten notes.

How it works – close-up.

I Made a Present for My Girlfriend. It Took Some Time

230 in… and it’s beginning to come together.

I Made a Present for My Girlfriend. It Took Some Time

My little workstation after 230 notes written and folded. At this stage, the wrist was starting to tire from the writing – but the Jar was starting to take shape. I was especially pleased with how the colors were playing off against each other. Just 135 to go!

 I designed and printed a logo for the front, but the glass work writing on the jar protruded so far out that it was impossible to attach the printed sticker without it creasing. Still, the actual designs on the sides of the jar made up for it. The explanation was all that was needed.

So, so happy with how it turned out.

That big “Ball” logo prevented me from attaching my own ‘The 365 Jar’ design – but it’s pretty unique and probably adds more by itself. She was… happy. She was ECSTATIC. There may have been tears – although that might have been partly to do with the amount of endless reading and unfolding she has ahead of her.

The finished product – ❤ “The 365 Jar”! ❤

Small Acts of Kindness-I Never Suspected a Thing

EllenBy Ellen Andersen

It was 1999. I remember because I turned 30 that year. I lived in Glendora, California and my parents had moved to South Carolina. Being single, I lived alone in my own place about 20 miles from Pasadena (where the Rose Parade is every New Years). My family were scattered all over the state, except for Mom and Dad. My brother and sister-in-law were the closest family I had, about 60 miles away. We rarely saw each other.

One day in early July, Jim called and asked what I had planned for my birthday in a few weeks. When I told him I had no plans, he asked if I’d like to come up that weekend and we’d celebrate it then, together. I was delighted he’d offered and immediately took him up on it. It’d be Jim and Shawnna, their kids Brittany and Josh, and me.

I looked forward to it and told all my friends from the Sunday School class how excited I was and that it meant a lot that Jim would think to do that. They were excited for me.

Over the next couple weeks, Jim called to make sure things were still on for the date. I told him how eager I was to see them again.

It was a crisp, clear day as I drove up the freeway to Jim’s and I marveled at the mountains and desert before me. As I drove, I thought of how much it meant to see them again. I looked forward to the afternoon and evening ahead of me.birthday cake

When I got to their home, Jim welcomed me in and said, “Let’s go out on the back porch and enjoy the outside.” I followed him and when I stepped outside a group of about 20 people greeted me yelling, “Surprise!!” I stepped back, wide-eyed, and blown away to see all my family there! My grandma, my aunts and uncles from central California, and my parents who’d come all the way from South Carolina. Good heavens. I shook my head in disbelief.

Then, as if that weren’t enough shock, I saw several friends from my Sunday School there. Talk about of context! They didn’t know my family. How in the world did Jim get hold of them?

Then I found out I was dressed wrong. It was a luau. “Didn’t you get the note?” Mom teased.  Jim failed to mention that one, of course when he invited me for the day. But Mom had bought a full-length red Hawaiian dress for me so I’d fit in. Too funny.

I later learned that Jim and Shawnna had been orchestrating the whole thing for about a month, getting hold of family and friends, having them park on another block so I wouldn’t suspect anything when I drove up. As for my friends from church? Jim had asked Mom if she had any contact information for them. She had one person’s e-mail address so she passed it along. Jim emailed my friend and told her of the surprise. She, in turn, e-mailed the Sunday School class so people would come join in the fun. Shawnna had the whole house and backyard decked out with Hawaiian décor and lots of food and drinks for everyone to enjoy too.

To think that my brother and sister-in-law would go to all that trouble for me was huge. I realized that even though we aren’t close and rarely see each other, they love me. What a wonderful time and a special memory.

Ellen Andersen lives in Mauldin, South Carolina with her adorable dog, Petey. Active in her church, Ellen is a Stephen Minister, serves on the First Impression Team, and hosts a weekly Bible study. She enjoys gardening, theater, and spending time with friends and family.

Big Act of Kindness – While on the Road


By Holly Michael

My husband (an Anglican priest) and I often travel domestically and internationally. We’ve gone to Scotland, England, and India and all around the United States most often for ministry or mission trips. My husband is a giver, always serving others, always giving of himself – a true servant of Christ.

During a church-related trip to New York, we decided to travel up highway 1 through Maine then across New York, then on to Detroit to visit a pastor friend before heading back home to Kansas City.

Driving along the scenic winding highway along a rocky coastline, I grew enraptured by the seaport towns with their colonial charm. While chatting away, my husband was unusually quiet. I asked him what was wrong. Rarely a complainer, he admitted he had a horrible toothache. He didn’t touch his seafood dinner at the quaint coastal restaurant that evening.

We stopped along the way, somewhere in New York after purchasing some pain relievers. By morning, my poor husband was wincing in pain. He took more pain relievers and we drove on. We made it to Detroit just as the sun set.

After dinner and visiting with our friend for a few hours, it was obvious that my husband could no longer bear the pain and needed a dentist. Our friend said he knew a dentist in his parish and would call her for advice.

I was surprised that this dentist even took the call so late in the evening. She asked about the pain level and suggested we come immediately to her private practice. There, she took an x-ray and discovered my husband needed an emergency root canal. She did the dental work all by herself, joking about fumbling around without helpers, comparing it to celebrating Mass without altar servers.

It was the early hours of the morning before she finished her work and this kind dentist refused to take a penny for her services.

We are ever grateful for Catherine the dentist, now a dear friend. When away from home, on the road, God always send us angels when we need them.

“My husband, touched by this dentist’s kindness made a fabulous dinner (Indian food) for her family the next day.”


Photo, from left to right, back: my husband, Bishop Leo Michael, me, Dr. Catherine Dinka and her husband John. And front row: Steven, Jenna, and David.

My book, Crooked Lines, features a few angels that help a priest through his travels along life’s Crooked Lines.

Crooked Lines

Two continents. Two cultures. Two souls seek hope and a future.Crooked3 (1)

On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over her little sister’s death, she sets her sights on India, a symbol of peace.

Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse and challenging cultural and religious milieus, he presses toward his goals while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers.

On similar paths amidst twists and turns, and bridged across oceans through a kindly priest, the two desire peace, and God’s perfect will. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be weighed…And buried memories, unearthed.

Crooked Lines, a beautifully crafted debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. Compelling characters struggle with spirituality through despair and deceptions in search of truth.

Holly Michael, published in various magazines, newspapers, and in Guideposts books is releasing her debut novel, Crooked Lines. She and her husband, Anglican Bishop Leo Michael, regularly travel from their home in Kansas City to India. She lives in Kansas City and has three grown children.

Visit Holly at