I met Ashley for the first time at a bible study for moms on the campus of CFNI. She is a bubbly, joyful, petite blonde who works as a registered nurse in the pediatric unit at Children’s here in Dallas. I can only imagine the joy and comfort she is able to bring her little patients as they are in her care, trying to overcome the beast of cancer. Her faith is drawn upon daily as she sees some of the most innocent human beings on earth face the ugliest injustice in our world. Read her story of finding beauty in the broken…. And pray for strength in her as she continues to minister to these little ones daily.
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the BEAUTY of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
According to mom, as a little girl, my heart was always drawn to making people feel better. I would sit and watch the St. Jude’s give-a-thon for hours, telling my mom that I “just want to make those sick babies happy.” As I grew up, the Lord continued to give me a vision for my life that would include making “sick babies happy.” I wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to His precious little ones.
In 2007 I graduated as a registered nurse. I had known all along that I wanted to work in pediatric oncology (meaning, kids with cancer). God had given me an immeasurable amount of compassion for these kiddos and I couldn’t wait to start my new job as a nurse!
The first few years as a nurse were wonderful… I enjoyed going to work and I loved that my job was also my ministry. But in 2010 I became a mama to the sweetest little blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy. I was smitten with love, and of coarse, my joy of working diminished greatly. After much prayer, my husband and I decided that part-time would be a good option for returning to work. I did not realize how my heart had changed… I was a mama now and I had a mama’s heart.
Back in full swing, learning how to be a mom and a nurse, feeling the ever-increasing grace of God, I knew I was right where He wanted me. This was my calling, my ministry, my heart… But I was nervous to start back… would I see the devastation, the dying, the pain differently now that I was a mom? I prayed, Lord, open my eyes to see the beauty in this, give me grace to do what you have called me to do.
My little bald babies are all precious to me… but there are some that will be forever etched in my heart and mind. One sweet little 4 year old boy changed my life. While I was his bedside nurse, I watched Him slip into the arms of Jesus. That day, I learned how to see Beauty in the broken. In those moments, rubbing his precious head as he took his last breaths, holding his mamas hand and trying to find the words to comfort her, feeling as if my legs were literally going to give out under me, wanting to run home and hold my boy so tightly… but all the while knowing that Jesus was next to me, whispering, “I am with you always… I will uphold you with my righteous right hand… You are here for such a time as this.” I fought back the tears as I watched his mom throw herself onto her son and yell his name. Oh, the pain that she must have felt… I know the pain I felt, and yet it was her son. Her son was no longer suffering, but her son was no longer with her… Lord, what words can I speak in this moment? I knew this mom’s pain in a way I had never experienced before now that I had this mama heart… The only thing I could say was His Name, “Jesus… Jesus…” as that mom’s little love went to heaven. Where is the beauty, Lord?
Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts, writes,
“The pearl of greatest price… this pearl that crams me with a happiness that throbs, serrated edge, pit wide open for more of His glory. This is what I am famished for: more of the God-glory. I whisper with the blind beggar, ‘Lord, I want to see.’ That is my moaning pulse: ‘See. See.’”
Where is the God-glory in suffering? Where is the Pearl of Greatest Price in these moments? Where is the Beauty? There are no words for this pain, there are no answers to ease the void, but there is a beauty that is indescribable as Jesus shines in those moments with a peace that is beyond all understanding. As I sat, holding this mom’s hand, grieving with her, Jesus rushed in and accomplished things that no human could ever do. He is the Beauty in the broken.
When my eyes are too foggy to see the beauty clearly, He simply reminds me… coming home to my healthy little boy and kissing his soft cheeks goodnight; having the opportunity to be present with a mama whose heart is broken, holding her hand, reminding her that there is a God whose love never fails; watching as one of my patients goes home cancer free because my God works all things together for the good of those who love Him; hearing my husband pray for my patients at
work; watching as families run to the Father with hearts full of faith, believing for miracles for their children… May we thank Him more for the beauty, for the simple reminders, even if we sometimes have to search for them.
God has given us each pearls of beauty… Do we see them with not only our eyes, but our hearts? Lord, give us Your eyes to see the beauty in the pain. Give us your heart for the broken. Help us to see Your light breaking forth over the darkness. Fix our eyes on You, Beautiful One. May we be Beauty to those around us. We want to make you Beautiful, Jesus. Cause us to see the God we love holding our hands, wiping our tears, and whispering in our ears, “I am with you always… I will never leave you… I am Beauty… I make all things Beautiful.”
“…And let the beauty of our God rest upon us, and establish the work of our hands, yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17