CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN’T LOSE.
By: Dee Baddley, Lipscomb Women’s Softball
This summer, I received the amazing opportunity to participate in a child life practicum at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Let me lay out why this was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received in my short 21 years of living. For starters, I am from Southaven, MS, which is only a 30-minute drive from St. Jude. This allowed me to live at home this summer and kept me close to my amazing, blessing of a family. Next, if you don’t know much about St. Jude, here are a few cool facts about it:
- Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers. Its mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. They do their own research on site.
- Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since its opening more than 50 years ago.
- Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. St. Jude provides apartment style housing at 3 different sites for families that are not local.
- It costs around 2 million dollars to run the hospital each day. Every penny comes from public contributions.
Basically, this place is the Ivy League of children’s hospitals. It is simply incredible. The environment gives off such a positive energy. If you’re ever in Memphis, I highly recommend taking a tour! But, most importantly, this opportunity provided me with a chance at more hands on time in the career path that I am very passionate about: Child Life.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is- “What is a child life specialist?“ Part of a child life specialist’s job is to help patients cope and understand their hospitalization. They provide comfort and support to the family and the patient during difficult experiences in the hospital. Another part of their job is to educate the family and the patient about their hospitalization in words the child understands. One of the best parts of the job is that child life specialist get to bring the fun! They provide the patient with play opportunities in order to normalize the hospital experience.
During the month of June, I shadowed a child life specialist that worked with children that had brain tumors. During the month of July, I shadowed a child life specialist that worked with children that had been diagnosed with Leukemia. My supervisors were amazing and allowed me to step in and provide input whenever I wanted. Throughout these 8 weeks, I had the chance to observe some of the day-to-day tasks that the job entails. Some of the things I saw include:
- Medical Play: The child life specialist and I would familiarize patients and siblings with medical equipment through various play activities.
- Procedural Preparation: The child life specialist and I would prepare patients for upcoming procedures by showing them items and places they may see, as well as, discussing why they were having surgery.
- Diagnostic Teaching: The child life specialist and I provided patients and siblings with education pertaining to the patients’ illness in order to identify and clear misconceptions and fears.
Overall, this was one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever had. I learned more than I could have ever imagined. I worked with a staff that truly loved what they were doing and was 100% invested in my learning experience. I encountered families and children that were the definition of what it meant to be strong. Everything you just read is what I expected to happen; how I expected it to go. Little did I know that this opportunity was so much more; it was truly a blessing in disguise. Instead of this being The summer I got a practicum at St. Jude, I now think of it as The summer my heart became FULL.
I think that when we discover what God created us to do, roles that we are to take on to help us fulfill our Christian duty, our hearts become FULL.
There is no measurement, no particular date, and no instruction manual as to how this is supposed to happen. It simply happens all in His timing. How do we know it is happening? I think that it is different for everyone, but for me it was a noticeable feeling. It was a feeling that I had never had before, but that I had longed to have; a feeling that I would give anything to keep everyday for the rest of my life.
About two weeks into my work at St. Jude, I started to feel this fullness. I was genuinely happy for the first time in quite a while. When I had down time, rather than day dreaming about what I plan to do the next day or worrying about how to solve certain problems, my mind would turn toward how incredibly blessed I am. My mind would turn toward the amazing people that are in my life and the beautiful relationships I had made. I thought of August and the mission trip I get to go on with my team and how I am longing to serve. All of a sudden I wanted to know more about God and his unending love and how I could tell more people about it. This indescribable feeling I now possessed changed my outlook on life. I knew that my prayers to feel and be more were finally being answered.
Ephesians 3: 16-19, 4:1-3 reads:
16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
What I am getting at is this: this summer was a blessing. My heart truly became FULL. I solidified my calling. I know, without a doubt, this is what I am supposed to be doing right now. This is my outlet to teach others about how great our God is. If you’re reading this, I beg you to get a taste of the unique, completely personalized, avenue of life that God is calling you to. Once you stick your foot in, I promise you you’ll want to take the plunge. Friday Night Lights said it best: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.
Dee Baddley and the Lipscomb Women’s Softball team is headed to Baja, Mexico to serve with the City of Children ministry during the week of August 9th. Please join us in praying for them and their mission trip. Be sure to follow along their trip by reading their daily blog post updates here: http://www.lipscombsports.com/softball/