Plastic Utensils in Cup

by Beth Ann Morgan

Sometimes crisis situations cause a rethinking through every process involved in daily living. When you’re down to your last fork and dinner plate, it’s time to consider making a temporary switch to an immediate time and clutter saver: disposables.

I initially recoiled at the idea of using all paper plates and plastic utensils. Eating like this reminded me of the hospital cafeteria, and during the few nights a month when I actually got to sit at my kitchen table, I wanted to use real plates and silverware. But the pileup in the sink waiting for me in the morning prodded me to reconsider.

The following weekend, I arrived home to find packages of paper bowls, plates, and cups with an enormous box of plastic ware on the counter along with a note from my husband.

Please don’t use anything that needs to be washed!

It made sense, and he was right. While I hated pouring money down the drain, the time disposables saved us was invaluable. We had no room for dirty dishes as our counter space was already filled with multiple lists and instruction sheets, pumping supplies, NG tube placement supply and diaper baskets, medication bins, etc. Clutter threatened to consume us. We fought upstream to manage it all to the best of our ability with lots and lots of help.

Abby has only been stable for one year . . . December to be exact. We were all teary-eyed as we prepared to celebrate the holidays, remembering what it had been like in years past, both the good and the bad, and then we shared our joy about being home and healthy together this year. We’re so grateful. Intent on enjoying today, taking time to heal together.

The whole experience changed me forever. While I still appreciate a pretty place setting, the moment is fleeting in the face of what matters most.

On Christmas Eve this year, I didn’t flinch when I picked up our Boston Market rotisserie chicken meal (I can’t handle cooking big holiday meals yet – ordering out helps me relax while feeling like everyone can enjoy a special meal together – I highly recommend it).

“Ma’am, would you like disposable plates, utensils, and cups?”

“Yes, please!”




by Beth Ann Morgan

It’s all too easy to turn into a machine when things get tough. Days can go by without a decent shower, nutritious food, and solid sleep. No time to process the raw emotional journey, no strength to complete more than the most basic of chores. Go, go, go until sheer exhaustion forces you to collapse, only to find yourself waking the next morning with reality thrusting you into the same mode of survival.

I would encourage you to take 20 minutes.

I remember the first time I realized the value of doing this shortly after heading in to see John one day at the hospital. After driving for an hour and 15 minutes, I felt keen disappointment when the unit clerk informed me that an emergency surgery was underway in the pod, and I would not be allowed to see John for at least another 20 minutes.

“You’re free to go wherever and get a little time to yourself. I’ll announce it over the loudspeaker when the procedure is finished.”

I thanked her and then shuffled back down the hallway. All of the rushing around earlier that day and fighting the traffic, then hurrying upstairs . . . and now to sit? I didn’t know what to do with myself. I admit, I was shocked.

I remember heading to the waiting area and sitting for a full ten minutes. Just sitting. I watched the siblings of patients play, parents and grandparents exchange nervous conversation with tissues in hand, anxious bystanders mumbling into cell phones and running their fingers through their hair.

Compassion washed over me as my eyes filled with tears.

I got out my journal and began to write for another ten minutes. I poured out my heart like water by writing my prayer to the Lord, praying for every broken heart in the room, for every sick and hurting child, and for God to help us all.

Your days and nights might seem to run together, but give it a try whenever you can. Set your timer for 20 minutes. Let yourself sit and do nothing. Allow your thoughts to happen. Pray. Journal. Mediate on a Bible verse. Whatever it is that helps you process what’s going on around you.

And when the timer rings, you’re done. I personally find myself refreshed. My circumstances probably didn’t change, but my load has lightened a little.

I pray yours will, too.


Toiletry Bag

by Beth Ann Morgan

Have you ever REALLY needed to take a shower in a situation where the only resource you had to facilitate the process was running water? The experience can prove helpful but unsatisfying.

Back in 2005, I traveled to Kenya with a medical team to speak at a conference, conduct interviews for Benard’s Vision: The Quest of a Kenyan Pastor, and assist in treating over 1200 patients.

It was the trip of a lifetime.

My team got to see and do so much, but one place I visited unexpectedly was The Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu. I’d eaten a peanut butter and tomato sandwich, and even though I’d removed the tomatoes, I still got sick from the juice that remained.

After my body violently rid itself of the sandwich, my blood pressure began to drop. I’m prone to fainting, so this didn’t surprise anyone. Our team leader, Dr. Scott Rice, asked our host, Pastor Benard Ondiek, for an ambulance to transport me to the hospital.

His entire community moved heaven and earth to get me all the help I needed, and it humbled me greatly. They’d moved out of their houses for two weeks so that our team could move in and be comfortable. They’d sacrificed greatly to feed and protect us. And then they’d loaded me into the only ambulance in the county.

Their selflessness was beautiful to me.

The trip to the hospital was long, fodder for future posts. On the way, I realized I had nothing with me and wondered how long I would stay. The staff admitted me to the VIP suite, which had a private bed and full bathroom.

But no toiletries.

Sometimes there is no time to grab a pre-packed toiletry bag, but if there is, I recommend standing ready.



Shoebox Image

by Beth Ann Morgan

Imagine placing an ordinary shoebox crammed full of toys, stickers, games, and toiletries into the arms of an impoverished child? Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, delivered over one million such shoeboxes last year and brightened the lives of children around the world with a simple gift.

We have the power to do the same.

I’ve seen the beautiful OCC videos. Children beaming from ear-to-ear, little girls twirling around holding a doll, and a ragged boy clutching a box to his chest with tears streaming down his face. For a few delightful minutes, they feel valuable, they feel loved, they feel free.

Free to be children and enjoy something special.

The challenges of life disappear for a few precious minutes as the walls of the heart tumble down and sheer joy rushes in. To know that someone far away cares enough to reach into their pain and do something fun, practical, and beautiful touches a place deep inside, a place where perhaps no one has ever come.

Today, children lie in hospitals and homeless shelters, orphanages and unhappy places all around us, children not necessarily hard up financially but physically and emotionally destitute, needing a lift of the spirit. Maybe they just got the test results. Or heard the court order. Or got more bad news.

Any day can be a shoebox day for a hurting child.

I wish I had been more sensitive to all of this earlier in life. After walking my path, I sometimes catch myself going back in my mind to the patients I’d cared for, all of the things I could have done but didn’t. I don’t stay there but focus instead on what my family and I can do today to help families going through a difficult time.

One little shoebox is all it takes.

I’ve posted a list of TEN SHOEBOX PACKING ITEMS I’ve started with in the past.   For more great ideas, please visit


sensory play beans

by Beth Ann Morgan

Crisis of any kind challenges even the bravest to handle it well, but without wisdom gleaned from several years of life experience, children dealing with crisis tend to resort either to retreating in or acting out.

Ours acted out. In an all-or-nothing kind of way, a way that was totally out of my league.

I remember the first time Lisa Hayslip, one of our Early Intervention (EI) therapists, came to our house with a boot-box size bin filled with hard, dry beans. After sitting on our family room floor, she popped off the top. Hannah gasped with delight as Lisa plunged her hand deep into the bin, wiggling her fingers all around.

Without hesitation, Hannah followed suit and played in the wonderful tub of beans, enjoying the silky smoothness and pleasant weight covering her hands. I hadn’t seen her smile like this for weeks, yet here she was, digging around for plastic teddy bears like a mole tunneling toward a big juicy worm. She scooped and dumped, slow and fast, swooshing and splashing into the tub of dark red bliss.

For a full thirty minutes.

As the session came to a close, Lisa closed up her box. Hannah’s pretty face fell. Her thirty minutes of peace and purpose dissolved like a mountain of snow on the Fourth of July.

My heart broke. That parental, “I love you so much and want to obliterate the big horrible beast that’s causing you so much pain, but if I can’t, I’m going to do everything in my power to help you through it” feeling rushed through me as we waved goodbye to Lisa.

My mind crumpled up today’s “To Do” list and tossed it into the trashcan. I picked up my keys with a smile.

“Want to hit the Dollar Tree, Sweetheart?”


storm clouds

by Beth Ann Morgan

Crisis brings out the best – and worst – in all of us. We have a distinct choice in how we handle every relational challenge, and how we choose to handle them ultimately defines who we are.

In the midst of a raging storm, it’s all too easy to say and do things to damage our relationships. All of the late nights and skipped meals, the broken routine and disorder, the loneliness and emotional rollercoaster equates to an intricate but all-too-common recipe for disaster.

But there is hope. Crisis can be a great time to push “reset”.

When Christian and I found ourselves in the boiling pot of the thickest mess, we really struggled to relate well to each other. Our world had fallen apart and seemed to continue falling apart on a daily basis.

My husband and I loved each other like crazy, but we both carried deep pain and had little time to mentally process any of it. Over the course of many months in crisis that grew into years, small hurts festered into the blackest gangrene, a cavernous mouth that threatened to devour life and limb.

We saw the amputation coming and knew we couldn’t stop it alone. We needed help while we still loved each other enough to do the hard, dirty work and determined to not just fix our relationship but also eliminate the threat of it ever happening again.

This family had seen too many band-aids.

Our family counselor, Dr. Wayne Schantzenbach, recommended one of the best books we have ever read, The DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley. With amazing clarity and practical help, the author teaches couples how to identify the root cause of their deepest wounds and how marital partners can unintentionally deepen their spouse’s pain instead serving as an agent of healing for each other.

We thank God for sending us a permanent solution through lots of prayer, the help of many people, scriptures, and books. Especially The DNA of Relationships. I recommend it to every married (or almost married) person on the planet.

Thank You, God.



pham pharm

by Beth Ann Morgan

I am not a medical professional and am not giving medical advice. I’m a mother simply sharing the home system we developed in order to dispense our children’s medication in the most safe, sanitary, and systematic way possible.

Over the years, I’ve given up to 24 different medications, nebulizer treatments, vitamins, probiotics, etc. in one day. Keeping it all organized would have created a tremendous challenge if not for Christian. My handsome, in-house genius staged an area of our kitchen countertop for what we’ve fondly dubbed as our Phamily Pharmacy.

He thought of everything, cups full of syringes and Sharpies, breast milk labels and pumping supplies, hand sanitizer and paper towels. It was amazing to walk in after he’d prepared it for John’s initial discharge home and see it all ready-to-use. Not only did it make everything as clean and safe as possible for John, but it also gave me confidence that I could keep track of everything and focus on my baby, not organizing.

I also kept a log. Between tracking John’s tube feedings, Abby’s weights, several different medications, doses, times of dispensation, ordering refills, etc. it got crazy. Keeping the log seemed like a lot of work at the time, but I would do it all over again. I referred back to it whenever I needed to call the pharmacy, insurance company, or doctor.

Sometimes I was so tired, I needed to check and see when I last gave the medication. Giving it at the wrong time or incorrect dose, much less skipping it all together, could kill someone. God protected us, for it could so easily happen to anyone, especially a sleep-deprived parent.

Yes indeed, I am truly thankful.



By Beth Ann Morgan

When the ambulance arrives in the middle of the night, you know that the loved one on the stretcher will receive everything they need upon their arrival at the hospital. The paramedics bundle their patient with blankets and slowly wheel the gurney toward the door. You have two minutes to throw a few things into a bag.

What should you pack?

We got really good at this. Our first experience came only three days after Abby’s initial discharge home. She’d awakened to nurse around 3:00 am but had seemed drowsier than usual. I took note of it, but after all, it was 3:00 am.

She woke again at 5:30 am with a soft wail, and I got nervous. I tried to nurse her but quickly found she couldn’t breathe and nurse simultaneously. Her tired blue eyes stared up at me.

“Something’s wrong.”

My husband flew out of bed and grabbed the pulse oximeter. Sure enough, she was 61 (normal is 95-100, normal for Abby at this point was 80-85). We scrambled around, the phone in one hand, baby in another. Oxygen. Overnight bag. Grammy coming for the kids.

Our little Corolla rocketed down the back roads faster than any ambulance could have transported us. Looking back, we now know that if we’d waited for the paramedics, we would have lost her that night.

Every second counted.

In the two minutes I took to pack for myself, I jammed my cell phone into my coat pocket and threw a phone charger, medicine, a sweatshirt, and underwear into Abby’s already over-stuffed diaper bag. When the helicopter came, I had to leave the bag behind in order to make the weight limit to ride with Abby.

I didn’t bat an eye. “Let’s Go.”

Nothing in that bag mattered more.

I’m posting a list of TEN ITEMS TO PACK IN AN EMERGENCY of essentials that I’ve used, but your list will likely differ. This basic list is not all-inclusive, but if you’d like my full EMERGENCY PACK CHECKLIST, I’m happy to send it to you as part of the FAMILY CRISIS PLAN when you enter your email address. I also encourage you to prioritize all items in the event that you don’t have enough time to pack everything.

Occasionally the patient must forego the luxury of patience.


Developing a Family Crisis Plan


When a natural disaster hits, the ambulance arrives, or another circumstance displaces you from your daily routine and possibly from your home, where will you go? What will you do? Who will you call?

After years of surviving crisis upon crisis, I have become a staunch advocate for crisis planning. One of the most helpful things in any type of emergent situation is a strategic, paper copy of a Family Crisis Plan.

I believe our family has grown closer and gained confidence by completing this plan together. We can smile at the future no matter what comes along because we know we’ve done the best we can to prepare for it and trust God with the rest. Not only have we talked through different scenarios, but we’ve also compiled a few worksheets full of valuable information and organized resources that we can implement immediately whenever necessary.

The Quick Reference Sheet is posted as a sample of what’s included in our Family Crisis Plan. This is the page I would grab if we needed to rush to the hospital and needed to make sure we took care of everything before we walked out the door. We’ve made a copy for each person in our family – we never know who the patient is going to be.

Perhaps you already have one in your wall safe or better yet fireproof box, but if you don’t, I’d love to send our free Family Crisis Plan to you so that you and your family can prepare for whatever comes your way.   Send me your e-mail address, and I will be happy to share the worksheets we use so that you and your family can get your plan in place.

Hope it helps!


Photo credit: Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia care of different

A New Birth


My son, John, turns five today. I can barely see the screen through my tears because John almost didn’t make it to his first birthday, let alone fifth. During the twentieth week of pregnancy, my husband (Christian) and I learned that John had gastroschisis, a birth defect in which his intestines formed outside his body.

Christian and I were stunned at first but later heartbroken and scared. The joy-filled visions of the coming baby flew out the window. A 20-minute appointment had changed our lives.


We cried a lot. We prayed a lot, as did our family and friends. Finally, as much as we dreaded facing the ordeal ahead, God in His amazing way ignited our passion and gave us the courage, hope, and strength to fight for the life of our son.

So, we took a big breath and moved forward.

Over the next seventeen weeks and then another four-and-a-half months in the hospital, John never gave up. By his sheer determination and the greatness of our God, he survived. He continued to thrive, growing and gaining weight at a normal rate. Within his first year, he no longer needed his feeding tube, and by four years of age, he came off all medication.

Thank You, God!

I cannot think of a more appropriate date on which to launch this blog. My husband wrote our family’s first post on John’s CarePage blog at my bedside minutes after his delivery.

Today, our family’s challenges have given birth to another blog, Drinking from the Well. By using everything we’ve learned over the past five years, we look forward to helping families not only survive difficult circumstances but also thrive, whether they find themselves in active crisis or beyond.

Happy Birthday, John. I love you!