John Singer Sargent “Venetian Interior”

Why do students choose the nursing profession? This is a required essay question prior to admission into the baccalaureate nursing program at Carson-Newman College. In 2012, the board of trustees voted to change the private institution’s name to Carson-Newman University in an effort to increase admission rates through global influence. I am personally disappointed in the name change, because the college has a rich history in their founding documents.

Established as Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary in 1851, the school began by holding classes in a local Baptist church. In 1880, the seminary was named Carson College. For several years it existed alongside Newman College, a separate facility for the education of women, mostly white caped nurses. In 1889, the two colleges united as one of the first coeducational institutions in the South.

“Well, I’m really here to pitch for the Lady Eagles. Go big blue! Go big orange!” I smile enthusiastically during my first encounter with my nursing guidance counselor, Dr. Tippie Pollard. I maintain my focus on dinging metal bats swinging through open windows overlooking the softball diamond. “Please type a 500 word essay explaining the reasons you are choosing nursing as a career. Return the paper to my office mailbox in one week,” Tippie excuses me as she stands and turns her old, tarnished door knob.


The Hannah Pederson Nursing Building is conveniently located across from the softball field. The historical building use to be a schoolhouse for kindergartners. I really like to feel like a giant, squeezing through the narrow bathroom stalls and squatting on two foot tall stools. This will be my private place to pray when I kneel so close to the creaky hard wood floors.

As a Bonner Scholar, I volunteer ten hours a week at the local elementary school and 240 summer hours at the Samaritan House for homeless women and children and construction volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. My nursing education will lend itself to better care and understanding of childhood growth and development and how to meet the needs of the community.

I also like to draw medical illustrations. I won a 1st place ribbon for a drawing displayed at a shopping mall in Statesville, NC. I drew a nurse in the ER, strapping a screaming, combative five year old girl to a gurney. This was when I fell on a sharp rock and busted my left knee open, which required only five little stitches. During that painful emergency, I instinctively knew I wanted to be a nurse.

My softball catcher is a nursing major, and she studies a lot of thick, interesting books on our away game bus travels. I often see her in a procession of white capped ladies in freshly pressed white dresses, marching out of the skills lab where they wear masks, and resuscitate and stick dummies who don’t talk back. I think I would look cute in a white dress, buttoned around my well rounded, liberal arts education

When I was 16, I was running after a softball and collapsed in the outfield, paralyzed from the neck down. Old Doc Ellis first thought I hyperventilated and directed me to breath in and out of a paper bag. How ridiculous to re-create a scarry situation. Old Doc Ellis diagnosed me with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. I suppose I know fear, and I’m locked in constant search of a healing substance.

I like to make myself laugh by finding humor in life. They say laughter is the best medicine. My mother painted the white washed words, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” and other random scriptures on my blue bedroom chair. I’m currently taking an elective piano performance class by Dr. Milligan in the Tarr Music Center. My mother, oddly enough, gifted me with an electric organ one year, and I’m curious to see if “Mary had a Little Lamb” is still following me to school today. Dr. Milligan told me I didn’t know piano from Adam. I said, “Is Adam your son? I remember him. We took a botany class together”

Finally, I choose nursing because I like to teach, and one day, I might be chosen as the dean of nursing and coach softball here at Carson-Newman. I will fly and rest in the eagles nest when I win the “Outstanding Graduate for Nursing” award. You may go ahead and engrave “Stacy Lane, 1996,” on that prized, hallway plaque.

~ §tacy §weeney



Photograph by Stacy Sweeney St. Simons Island, GA


Abraham, I AM
the boy and the ram
in times past there were only three
and they all agreed to a plan
I listen as they talk
the only way to take it all in is to go for a long walk
sandlewood scents reach the edge of camp
sand still feels warm under crescent lit lamps
tribal tents pitch gently in the distance
columns of smoke roll up the summit
there must be another way to save
innocent climbs upon his grave
the bold-face of his delivery would seem to paralyze
I’m repeatedly let off the hook
I bleed into everything – Isaac, Isaac
they delay no longer
praise God for the ram and for the Lamb      Genesis 22:13, John 1:29

~ §tacy §weeney

Myths & Misconceptions

“Feed my Sheep” original watercolor by Dylan Pierce

original watercolor by Dylan Scott Pierce

The apartment doorbell rings, and rings, and rings, and rings, and rings.
“Stop ringing the doorbell. I hear you. One time is enough.”  I yell through the door.
I hear a little voice out there,
“Can I get a cup of water?”
“What’s wrong with your water?” I yell back as I unlock the door.
“I’m thirsty. My mother won’t let me back in the apartment.”
I pause.
“Come inside. The cups are beside the five gallon, reverse osmosis, refreshing and delicious water jug. Let’s go back outside and play some baseball.  You’re up to bat, and I’m pitching.”
He doesn’t move an inch from this safehouse position.
“Jay, I’ve known you for three years, and I know you like art better than baseball. How many times must you draw Spiderman? Would you like to paint an owl in water color?”  I ask.  He takes off his shoes.

It’s now seven in the morning on April 29, 2014, when the alarm sounds. I have this date documented in my Note Everything app on my android smart phone. This crackerjack app shows the day the note was created, when the note was last modified, and it keeps a running word count without a spill chick. This short story you’re reading is 550 words in length. That’s 2,403 times my finger pads have tapped the keys. Tap, tap, tap.


I awake and jump out of bed to see that the alarm is tripping. I crack the door as wide as the chain on the frame will allow.
“Miss. Stacy, I want to give you a hug, because we moved last night.”“Jay,  this makes me very, very sad. Give me a minute to get dressed,” I say.  Surely they didn’t move last night. Surely not. Surely. The Swiss-American psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kublor-Ross’ first stage of grief is denial.


I come back and open the door, but I see him stealing away. I will not be able to catch him on foot, so I run upstairs and knock on his apartment door, hoping someone will still be there. His mother’s boyfriend, TL, opens the door. Smoke  streams outside, along with three other tough guys. Tatooed arms. Shaved scalps. Missing belts. Looks of surprise.

“What’s wrong, are we too loud?” TL sincerely questions.
I thought to myself, “Yes. Yes, your always too loud, and it disturbs me. It frightens me when you guys fight so fierce. You’re so close to death I can hear it. I can smell it.”  The second stage of grief is anger.
Tears are rolling while I stand in the breezeway, trying to ask if they are really moving, but what comes out is that I’m suffocating in loss. TL hugs me. I believe he’s moved with compassion. The smoke and his attitude fade as he explains that they moved to Atlanta’s West End, which is just around the bend. I feel really silly as I struggle down the stairs and snuggle back in bed. I begin tapping on the keys and wondering why the alarm was tripping when Jay just wanted to be missed, just wanted someone to know he breathes, and moves, and that he was here. It makes me wonder why I still sleep with two Louisville Slugger baseball bats propped beside my bed.
Myths & Misconceptions.
~ §tacy §weeney

Miss Rosemary

a_still_life_with_a_vase_of_roses,_a_bowl_of_peaches_and_a_mandolin-large Angelo Martinetti (1833-1895)
Miss Rosemary (Miss Rosemary)
Miss Rosemary (Miss Rosemary)
Miss Rosemary (Miss Rosemary)
at the library (at the library)
tell me, tell me, tell me (tell me, tell me, tell me)
where to get some honey (where to get some honey)
and famous Georgia pecans (and famous Georgia pecans)
cause the peach is out of season (cause the peach is out of season)
please play the mandolin (please play the mandolin)

~ §tacy §weeney


I Can’t Stop Smiling

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 8.42.00 AM

I think I’m the only girl I know whose teeth are falling out of her head, and I’m not a developing six year old with baby teeth. I’m contacting Tennessee Vital Records tomorrow to request a change of birthplace before my wardrobe is extracted from my closet and replaced with cut-offs, tank-tops, and flip-flops from my neck of the woods fashion.

My first impression of this new dental office is how different it is from other medical and dental clinics I visit. First, there are no ugly, mercury filled fluorescent tubes in the ceiling, or sick, snotty nosed, screaming toddlers contaminating every inch of a two foot high environment. The receptionists here are helpful and polite and I’m sitting in a cushioned chair, pulling current magazines off the coffee table to fill my wait time and drill my mind. Oh, look, an article about the first artists in this month’s National Geographic. It’s a fun read about animals, nature, and culture, but I have to pick through the “six billion years ago” bad science, evolution nonsense. I’m also enjoying an office that offers four flavors of Xylitol (a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener) chewing gum, cocoa butter for your dry lips, and wintergreen flavored mouthwash. Where are the lollipops?

I’m escorted back to exam room ten at DeMercy Dental to get a comprehensive oral evaluation, and an opportunity to share ministry notes with the family owned and operated dental staff. Their family name, DeMercy, is no coincidence. How did I get connected with this family of dentists in Roswell? Well, I’m experiencing what the evening plenary speaker, Bob Lupton, spoke about at last year’s Christian Community Development Flourish Conference. Lupton said, “Programs are vitally important, but they are not sufficient. The building blocks of neighborhoods are neighbors… incarnational relocation is the end of isolation.” That’s right. Left to my own devices, I am wired to self-destruct, not build bridges. God’s ways are not my ways.

The generous dentist, Amanda, said she will donate her free time and dental skills to restore my nine dental codes: D7140, D2392, D2393, D6750, D6240, D2740, D2950, D2391, and D2331 in just 3 visits. Where Amanda’s money is, there you will find her heart also. I will receive her gift and capitalize on it with the same respect that she earned it. I am going to have more silver caps and crowns in my mouth than the sounds of “Silver Bells” at Christmas.

Health and longevity are in my denominational DNA, but I’m a transplant protein strand and a poor example of our health message. Besides, I never think about living longer, but how many people can I feed. “Miss. Stacy, why do you walk funny?” nine year old Mo asked me one hotlanta day walking out of the community garden together. “Well, why do your teeth look funny?” I laughed quietly to myself. Is our food supply so degraded that our bare bones are neglected essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need to work properly?

God has been so merciful to me, and I can’t stop smiling. I get to keep my teeth, and I have 10,000 more reasons to trust in God.

~ §tacy §weeney

The Lake is Base

Yes, Lord, you know all things
You know that I love you
You are the King!
I’m still out here playing
in the water
lake is base
the water is fine
you are mine
you are mine
you are mine
your form He formed
first foot forward I move
to meet the miraculous
Master of the €lements
€verlasting arms
I don’t have to sink
to the bottom of the sea
just walk through the fire
take what ways you please
to save your people
your love keeps me close
jumping in the waves
walking on the water
Yes, Lord, you know all things
You know that I love you
You are the King!
~ Peter
poem from Luke 5:1-11, Matt 14:22-33, John 21:1-25, Isa 43:1-7

~ §tacy §weeney

This Bites


Bright and early this morning I’m getting my first, dreaded root canal on a decaying tooth, and as I look at my black & white dental x-ray in the digital light box, I imagine what my internal organs must look like. My tooth is an enamel coated, cross section picture of death & disease. What’s worse is that I have tried to cure my dead tooth for forty shameful mornings and forty painful evenings, and I forget to factor in the past decades of careless health habits that on most days I’m still unwilling to accept or change. I don’t see animals brushing their teeth or lined up for dental visits. Despite the statistically significant research on diet & nutrition’s impact on health, specifically high fructose corn syrup, our culture is killing us.  How are we going to heal that super-sized, spiraling food chain mess? Have you seen the documentary film, King Corn? King Corn is a feature documentary from Independent Lens about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation.

In truth, I have taken only half measures to recover part of my being, putting my hope in my own two healing hands, alternative medicine, *all* of Isaiah 58 (if-if-then; if-if-then), and preventative health care education piled higher and deeper.  I can now admit that I’ve been in the wrong profession, directed in part by childhood ideas that persisted to the day my four wisdom teeth were extracted. The dynamic nursing profession fits my personality, but nurses are not going to save the world any day soon. Nope. Artists! Artists are going to save the world.  Oh, where is that scripture?

What’s really tough is that I’m a patient with legitimate, physical pain, sitting in Dr. David Fagundes very comfortable dental/medical chair, opening my mouth for a professional stranger, which is very much like opening up about your emotional pain in psychotherapy.  “What’s your pain level on a scale of 1-10?” is our fifth vital sign behind temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.  “A nine.  A nine, I talk to myself, because 10 is reserved for birthing grief, a broken femur, third degree burns, or an incurable cancer eating you alive. Ten is reserved for a narcotic addict, looking for their next high. Ten is served when new friends move away like a revolving door and the best you have to offer is a chip of your life and to break bread together as you say good-bye. Ten is reserved for when things don’t go your way and you lose. When you lose heart, and when you lose sight, and like ‘the blind man who stood on the road,’ you cry. Have you read, Dark Night of the Soul?  Me either, but I bet this hardcover book bites,” I concluded. “This bites, but the long acting Marcaine® is kicking in to a state of oral, blissful numbness.”

~ §tacy §weeney

Press This in Your Heart

DSC02779 (1)

Stacy Sweeney stapling community photos on prayer board

O, my little sisters
sitting over there
sorrow in your stare
yellow hat to block the glare
show me where your hope is
O, my little sisters
let me see your blisters
life is not that easy
for a thorn or thistle
put away your pistol
Apostle Paul’s epistles
reached the heart of people (2Cor3:2-3)
a wish of which I witness
press this in your heart
and ~
whistle, whistle, whistle
whistle, whistle, whistle

~ §tacy §weeney

A New Christmas Story For You

the_return_of_the_prodigal_son_[detail]-largeThe Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt c1669

I stood on Mary Jean Summers’ front porch, reluctantly knocking at her door. My knees were knocking much louder, for I was more anxious than ever before. Would she recognize me? Would she remember? She came slowly to open the door. She looked like Albert Einstein in the midst of an explosive lab experiment gone bad. A little frightened and uncertain what to say, my childhood speech impediment slipped out, “Wha..wha..what’s your name?” If this weally stwange woman didn’t pass my mini-mental health exam, I was jumping off the porch and getting the hell out of Stony Point. Pointless, I said to myself,  this is pointless. “Jean,” she rightly answered. Dang it, I thought, and I started compulsively snapping my fingers. Then she politely asked, “Are you from the church?” I smiled, looking up into the sky, my thumbs stuck deep inside my tear ducts. Before I could answer, she invited me in for a glass of Sassafras tea. As I crossed the threshold of _______, she stopped me)))))) to get a closer>>> better>>> level>>> look in my eyes.
“I see you. I know you. I know who you are. You’re Rhonda’s daughter!” she exclaimed.

She was so happy to see me that she called her brother and sisters who all settled on the same old cotton farm they inherited from their parents. Her identical twin sister, Martha, came walking up the hill just to hug my neck. The two of them whipped up a proper Southern dinner fresh from the garden and off the fruit trees: corn, cornbread, biscuits, green beans, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, and apple pie. My arteries turned a blue, blind eye toward the heaping handfuls of Crisco shortening in the dough, because it was ~~wonderful~~, like having two new mothers loving on you, and I would have eaten anything they made…except pig. Or fish…or squirrel…or frog legs…or fowl of the air…or rabbit…or deer…or cow…or… It still upsets me that my mother would kill and grill my wilderness pets. This stubborn, self-sufficient child starved by choice rather than circumstance.

That was the Summer of 2014. It’s now Winter, and I miss my favorite Autumn Season, and I wonder where the time passed. I telephoned Jean Summers, aka, mamaw, to wish her a Merry Christmas and to make amends to her for running away 28 years ago. I imagine it was very painful to lose a daughter and a granddaughter in the same day, at least that was her sterile, subjective statement while drinking down some super, super sweet Southern tea off her antique table. I told her I was willing to make things right between us, and that I wanted her to think about a very special way for awhile, maybe a couple days, or weeks even. “Come spend the summer with me,” came out loud and clear over my speaker phone as I was baking Christmas sugar cookies. “Cookies, mamaw, I was thinking about sending you some COOKIES!!,” I cried. Now, I have heard of good Christian folk selling *everything* and giving it to the poor, but I ain’t ever, ever heard of no story about spending an entire summer with someone. This woman is—-out—-of—-her—-mind, yet more alert and oriented to person, place, and the passing times such as these than I think, and oh, I think I’m going to love her, love her more than I know.

~ §tacy §weeney