Audra grew up in Charles City, Iowa, met her husband Bill while she was in nursing school, and they were married in 1990. Fifteen wonderful years and four beautiful children later, Bill went home to be with the Lord in a fishing accident. We sat down with Audra to learn more of her amazing story and share how God is growing her and using her to bless our church family.
JP: Audra, you are an amazing friend, and an amazing woman with such a story to tell. Thank you for being willing to share what God has been teaching you. Before we discuss your ministry as a labor and delivery nurse, let’s glance back across the last ten years since your life changed so drastically. What has sustained you, as a single mom, juggling work and kids and real life?
AN: When we first lost Bill, my church family and work friends rallied around us and helped get us through those first days and weeks, as we didn’t have family close by. Bill’s side of the family lives in Michigan. Initially, it was really hard for me to ask for help. That wasn’t who I was. It’s hard to humble yourself and ask. Bill did everything. If there was something at home that needed to be fixed, he was kind of a jack of all trades. So you learn to reach out. You have your faith. You don’t understand why God does this, but you know that He’s going to use it for something greater. I’ve always been so thankful for how He worked everything out to make it far less tragic than it could have been. I didn’t know where they had gone fishing that day. But God sent that DNR worker to help, so my son, Caleb, wasn’t sitting alone on a lake shore somewhere all night, after losing his dad. Bill did not wake up Kaitlyn that morning; we could have lost her too. The DNR worker inspired Caleb to go into criminal justice and help others. And, before I lost my adoptive mom, just days before our wedding, Bill had encouraged me to find my birth mom, and I had. God had even prepared me for this, in a way. Grief wasn’t a new concept. I had already lost my adoptive parents and grandparents. God truly orchestrated so many things that came together, and He brought us through. You just keep plugging away, one day at a time. I knew that Bill would have wanted me to keep going. Having kids makes you move forward, gives you a reason to get up every day, and your relationship with God sustains you.
JP: Tell me about how you came to Christ, and how long you’ve been a part of
AN: We came to The Creek in 2009. I grew up going to church, and I’m sure I prayed a prayer to trust Christ as a child, but it was really sometime that first year here at Willow Creek that I truly understood the gospel and what Christ had done for me, and Kaitlyn and I were baptized. I had grown up attending churches over the years, and I’m so thankful for that introduction to who God is, and for each of the churches I’ve been a part of. Here at Willow Creek, my understanding of God’s Word has deepened, and I’ve begun to grow each day in my relationship with God. The way Pastor Mike leads and preaches has been …. I’m not sure how to pinpoint it, but there is something different about my growth here. I almost feel like a new Christian sometimes. I learn something with each sermon series. Pastor Mike’s series are applicable to our everyday world; he’s connecting the dots between God’s Word and my daily walk. Through the friendships that I have here, small groups, people, prayer, the Holy Spirit . . . I’m really seeing the outworking of God’s Word in my life and in my church family. And coming to Willow Creek has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my kids. They’re in a solid youth group, growing, asking questions, taking a real interest in spiritual things. Grace is taking notes in church, and in Sunday school and at home, she’ll ask questions, some that I don’t know the answers to myself. When I see our pastors and teachers talking her through them, shaping her thinking with God’s Word, I’m just amazed. I know my children are getting a solid foundation in the Word and a clear understanding of how the Gospel shapes how we live.
JP: And since we just left the Identity series, how has it impacted your thinking? Specifically, the idea that your past or what you’ve been through doesn’t
AN: Yes, it definitely shapes who you are, but I’ve not let that be the thing that defines my future. God defines my future, and my identity is in Him. I’ve definitely enjoyed thinking through that again. When you lose someone, you put your faith in God even more. You know you will see your loved one again, and there is hope in that. You still have your struggles, certainly, and I still lose it every time we sing “It Is Well,” but having that hope and assurance is so precious.
JP: Let’s talk about work. You’ve been in the nursing profession since 1989, when you began as a nursing assistant at Methodist Hospital?
AN: Yes, and in June of 1991 I started in labor and delivery. I’ve been there for 24 years.
JP: That’s a lot of deliveries! I know your patients love you, and the other nurses love you. What do you love most about your job?
AN: I love being a part of helping families bring new life into the world. It’s always been a passion of mine to be a nurse and help others. And when you get to serve someone in your church family, or come across a fellow believer, it’s just extra special to share that bond in Christ.
JP: How many Creek babies have you
JP: Wow. It’s so exciting to see how God is using you. Really, this is a huge ministry that you have with these moms. Why do you seek us out and love on us like that? What drives you to serve the mamas of Willow Creek? To say that you’ve been a blessing doesn’t cut it. You’ve been more like a lifeline to so many of us. We love you, you know that?
AN (laughing): We’ve definitely developed some real friendships! My passion, as a friend and as a nurse, is simply that God would use me to serve these moms and be a part of that special experience with them.
Audra continues to have a huge ministry among the women of Willow Creek, and she’s especially passionate about serving expecting mothers. If you’ll be delivering at Methodist, you might want to introduce yourself. Just ask the moms she’s helped thus far!
Kristen Green: Audra is a woman of service and sacrifice. I have had the privilege of having her assist with two of my births. One of them happened to take place on her oldest daughter’s birthday, and it was her day off. She goes above and beyond her job description, making sure her patients receive the best care according to their wishes, within their situation. She has been a blessing in my life, a true gift, an answer to prayer. Audra rocks!
Laura Pals: She was so attentive during my pregnancy and said, “Just text me when you go into labor, and I’ll meet you at the hospital.” When it was time, she texted right back, “Ok, I’ll come in,” and came in a full 12 hours before her shift started! She has kids of her own. I was astounded by her selflessness. Audra has a real passion for babies and their mommies, and I was blessed because of that.
Betsy Koshi: Audra was so amazing during my labor and delivery. She was thoughtful, encouraging, and took such good care of me and checked on James and me before, during, and after delivery. She's a thoughtful, strong, and loving nurse, friend and mom! I love her to pieces!
Rachel Raker: Audra was truly an encouragement during both deliveries. The first one she came in to work on a Sunday late afternoon, not her scheduled shift, and stayed through my long delivery, all that night andinto the operating room for the emergency c section Monday morning. She was so calm through it all, and was especially comforting when we realized it was going to be an emergency c-section. She kept checking on us during our hospital stay. Our twins were a scheduled C-section, and she made sure to be in for that and again kept things lighthearted and prayed with us before going in for surgery. She really just amazes me with how she sacrifices her own family time to come deliver our babies. Audra is awesome!
Londa Crigger: I first met Audra during a false labor session with our twins. I asked her if she had been an OB nurse for long and she told me it was her first day back after having lost her husband. I felt so sad for her, yet she was so loving and caring that day to us that I immediately felt endeared to her. Thankfully, her family began coming to Willow Creek a few months after our twins were born, and we became real friends. When we found out about our "bonus baby," Audra was one of the first people we told. She was more than amazing during Maddox's delivery. She came in during her day off and just took charge. When things got a little scary with Maddox's heart rate, she got super close to my ear and whispered, "Things are going to get crazy in just a minute--there might be a lot of yelling and things are going to move really fast, but you.are.fine. God is in control." It makes me teary now, but at the time, it just made me giggle because she was so right! Tons of yelling nurses and my bed began moving quickly, but Audra just winked at me and stayed in charge! She's such a skilled nurse and just a complete sweetheart of a person!
Caitlin Love: I was blessed to have Audra help deliver both of my sons, and I wouldn't have it any other way! Audra graciously answered the barrage of text messages I sent her in the middle of the night when I went into labor with my first and came in on her day off (with little sleep, thanks to me and all my text messages) to help deliver him. I felt especially unprepared since my own mom had never even experienced a contraction, as all of us children were born via scheduled c-sections, so I didn't have her expertise to draw from when it came to labor and delivery. Audra was so calming and reassuring and definitely helped put this first-time mama at ease! It was so comforting having here there—I honestly don't know what I would have done without her! She was so fabulous that I really wasn't apprehensive going into my second delivery. I ended up being induced with my second son and he took his sweet time coming, and all the while Audra was so patient and relaxed. While he was a BIG baby (almost 10 lbs), everything went very smoothly and I had a wonderful experience delivering him. NICU staff had to be called in for my second delivery, but Audra's calm demeanor and reassurance kept me calm through it all. There simply aren't enough words to say how truly wonderful and special she is.
Angie Fincham: I was blessed to have Audra by my side with Adalie's delivery. She waswonderful. She came in on her day off and had a room prepared, so I was able to skip triage. Having her there the whole time was great. I'll never forget being distracted through contractions by a You Tube video she showed us. It was some guy singing “Let It Go” in Disney voices. She and Brice watched, while I listened. It was just what we needed. Her kindness and gentleness really put us at ease. Audra is so selfless. As a nurse, mother, and friend, she's always putting others first. I'm very thankful for great labor and delivery memories with Audra.
Chelsey Kllinge: I had Audra for 2 of my deliveries. I was nervous about having a delivery nurse who actually knew me, but Audra is the best! She's great at what she does, and it turned out to be awesome having someone that I knew very well as my labor and delivery nurse. My labor with my 3 year old was ending not as planned, and I remember her encouraging words more than my own mom’s during those moments. For both my 3 year old, and my last birth, she stayed past her shift. And I think she came in on her day off for my last baby. She is such an amazing nurse and friend.
Jessica Phillips: My love and respect for Audra has grown over the years, as I’ve watched her children grow in the Lord, witnessed her serving others selflessly, and experienced her mad nursing skills with my youngest son. She had me call her when it was time, and, when I did, she called ahead to have a room ready for me and met me at the hospital. I felt like royalty, the way she paved the way for us. It was awesome to see her in action, and the rapport she has with the doctors and nurses. Even after Jeffrey was born, I’ve called or texted her with questions countless times, with one health concern or another, and she always knows what to do. I can’t begin to describe how helpful it is to have a friend like Audra, who’s there for you like that. I’ll never take her for granted.
Katie Brooks: Tate was the first Willow Creek baby that Audra delivered. When I checked in, Audra noticed and specifically asked if she could take the other nurse’s place. Just knowing her, and that she made a point to be there for me and talk to me was very sweet. That meant the world to me.
Sara Osterloh: Audra is amazing. So so amazing. As my due date approached, she was watching for me at work. Even though we really didn't know each other that we'll at the time, she took us on as a family. She was so encouraging throughout my labor and stayed on way past her shift change for Mary Jane’s birth. You can tell by the way Audra speaks with other nurses and doctors that she is well liked and well respected. I know she takes extra special care of her Willow Creek mamas, but I have a feeling she is that kind and compassionate with all of her patients. She's really one in a million.
Abby Charlton: I didn't have Audra until Mavis, and even though it was my first time being induced it was my best labor by far! She was amazing and so very calming, and I just felt at peace with her being there taking care of me. She was the best!