Monday, November 2, 2009

Florence Nightingale: The Lady with the Lamp

When the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations first banded together, we all chose an alter female ego: a woman from history who embodied traits we admired or learned from. I, Jennifer AlLee, have a confession to make… I was stumped.

It’s not that I’ve never been inspired. But it was difficult to come up with a woman I knew enough about to say, “Yes, she’s the one.” So I had to do a bit of thinking. And a bit of research. And finally, I found a woman who exemplified traits I aspire to: Florence Nightingale.

She followed God’s call – Florence was born into a privileged English home in May 1820. At the age of twenty-five, she scandalized her family by announcing her decision to go into nursing. The reaction may seem shocking. After all, what parents wouldn’t be proud to have a nurse for a daughter? But at that time in history, nursing was not a noble profession. Most nurses were hanger-ons, following the armies around, and often doing double duty as cooks. But Florence truly believed that she had a divine calling to tend to the injured. She ignored the expectations of the day, turned her back and status and privilege, and listened to the call of God on her heart.

She studied her craft and shared it with others – Florence didn’t just run into the fray unprepared. She studied hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing. Then, after years of experience and practice, she founded a school of nursing, passing on her knowledge to future generations.

She was known as The Lady with the Lamp This is probably my favorite bit. It’s so symbolic, I don’t even have to say anything for you to know where I’m going… but I will anyway. During the Crimean War, she became known as “a ministering angel” who would check on the fallen soldiers long after other medical staff had gone, always holding her lantern aloft. She was a symbol of hope to the injured. When they saw her, they knew that at the very least, someone cared enough about them to be there. To look them in the eye and make a human connection.

I hope that in my life, I’m able to bring such hope to people. To share not only my love, but the love of Christ. To let people know that even in the darkest times, they’re not alone.

She’s been a Jeopardy question – Ah, my most shallow desire! How fun would it be to have your name be called out on Jeopardy? In fact, my family has already started practicing. Whenever there’s a category that has anything to do with literature, we all shout out “Who is Jennifer AlLee!” A girl can dream, right?

Questions of the day:
1. Who inspires you to strive for greater things?
2. If you could be a contestant on any game show, what would it be?


  1. Jen! Great way to start off the new theme.

    Jeopardy! If I could be on a game show, that would be the one. Although, I'd fail the questions on composers, Shakespeare, and poetry.

    I'm inspired by my dear friend, Sharon. She is so Christlike, and such a strong prayer warrier. The example she sets forth is awesome, and I want to be more like her. I can only strive to inspire others the way she inspires me.

  2. Thanks, Suzie. Jeopardy is my show, too. Of course it all depends on the categories. I'm just jazzed when I can manage to guess the final Jeopardy question correctly!

    Your friend Sharon sounds like a gem. What a blessing to have a friend like that in your life :+}

  3. Hi Jen,
    I often wonder what it was in life that challenged Florence N to go into nursing? Did you ever find out? A chronic illness in her family? A soldier boy neighbor who died alone on the battlefield?

    I love Jeopardy but I'd never go on there unless I knew the categories would be Fabrics, Gardening, the Civil War, English LIterature, 70s songs . . . . the idea of facing Greek Mythology frightens me.

    But I'd love to whip you all in Wheel of Fortune!

    I'm inspired by great prayer warriors. Right now I'm thinking of our Connie.

  4. Great kick-off Jen! I'll confess that my person didn't pop into my head immediately either. Has anyone seen the movie they made about Florence Nightingale? If I remember right they tried to make it more of a romance than it was in real life. I don't think she ever did marry, but stayed true to her calling and her campaign to improve medical care. She was a real hero. Even if she was as stubborn as a mule.

    As for game shows, Jeopardy is a classic and I'd love to go on there, although if I had to settle I could go on Milllionaire. Or maybe The Price is Right. Except that Bob Barker isn't the host anymore. That's just no fun. Scratch the Price is Right.

  5. One historical figure who has always inspired me was C.S. Lewis. It amazes me that this Christian author wrote classic literature at a time when the popularity of Christianity was quickly fading.

    If I could be on any-any game show: So You Think You Can Dance. Of course I'm ten years too old and twenty pounds overweight for a dancer. So maybe that isn't such a good idea.

    I'm okay at Wheel of Fortune, although I can't really handle the screaming on game shows.


  6. Hey, Jen,
    Incredible post!

    Wheel of Fortune, with all the consonants and vowels!

    The great saints who passed before me, many of whom experienced rejection and persecution in their time, illuminate the path that our Jesus trod. And I am not just talkin' statued, portraited folks.
    The street sweepers. Teachers. Firemen. Candle lighters. Nannies. The wives behind important men.

    Here is a silent "thank you" to all who AREN'T known by name.


  7. One name came to mind: Harriet Tubman, who so selflessly helped free the slaves, putting her life and family in danger. So worth it!

    As for the show, "Who's smarter than a fifth grader"? LOVE that program. Then it would be: Don't Forget the Lyrics.

  8. Jen, you're the answer to many of my life's questions, like who can fix Connie's blog? I know! I know! Jennifer AlLee! :-))

    And Deb, thanks for the kind mention. Prayer is a gift and I certainly have been blessed with the time. But there are so many who are better.

    Saint Padre Pio is a fine example and my personal hero. I often ask him to intercede for me because he can read what's in my heart better than I could ever voice it. He is a real prayer warrior. His motto was "I want to be only a poor Friar who prays. . . Pray, hope and don't worry. . ."

    Mary's also one I call on frequently. Though obvious, she's powerful.

    Game show? Not me. I'll be in the audience cheering you on. And, Dina, neither twenty years nor twenty pounds should keep you from dancing! Perhaps even with a teddy bear!

    Blessings everyone.

  9. And, Jen, I forgot to mention what a great post! Florence most definitely is a heroine. Thank you for keeping her accomplishments alive.

  10. Great post, Jen! What a way to kick off our theme.

    While I'd love to be on Jeopardy, I'd probably flounder unless I got the questions they use during High School Week. So I'm Wheel of Fortune, all the way.

    Padre Pio is a great one, Connie. I'm also thinking a bit about Brother Lawerence and how I could better follow his example to "practice the presence of Christ" in everything I do.

    Wow, this is a marvelous theme on the heels of All Saints' Day!

  11. God inspires me to strive for greater things, and all you wonderful authors, too. As for a game show, I'm not big on them, so none really.

    I really enjoyed learning about Florence Nightingale. I had heard her name before of course, but had no idea who she was. Thanks for sharing that bit of history!

  12. Great to see all you ladies here!

    Deb, in everything I read about Florence, there didn't seem to be an inciting incident. But more than once it was stated that she felt nursing was a divine call from God.

    And Lisa, you're right, she never did marry, although she had a few "relationships" which seemed to be strong friendships, possibly dealving into the romantic realm but not resulting in wedded bliss... so the men were interested, but she was not going to be deterred.

  13. Thank you for posting on Florence Nightengale...and for keeping the history of nursing alive.

    Our Lord inspires me daily.

    Me, a game show contestant, I think I will pass on the offer.

    karen k

  14. I am inspired by reading biographies of the great heroes of the Faith in our past. I don't know about the Game Show? Don't watch many:)
    Very interesting post:)

    esterried @

  15. Jen,
    I visited Florence's home town last year. Her home and the building she used as her first hospital are still standing.
    Lovely setting in Derbyshire.

  16. Great post, Jen.

    I know all the answers on Jeopardy! Unfortunately, I only remember them after the contestants say them. *sigh

    I believe I'd be a fantastic contender on The Wheel of Fortune. At least in my house, I correctly answer the phrase before anyone else. Well, except that last word. It always stumps me. *double sigh


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