Are you an “agent of blessing?”

My parents 1952

My mother grew up in the days when gentlemen drove and ladies rode, so she didn’t get behind the wheel of a car until well into her thirties. Fortunately, she loved to walk and I have happy memories of us walking, talking, and playing “Twenty Questions.”

I still love to walk. My jogging days are over, but nearly every day for more than two decades, I have hiked three miles.

Since we moved to a neighborhood with sidewalks seven years ago, my daily steps have been a great way to meet people.

“Are you going to talk to someone today?” my introvert husband asked as I tied my Hoka athletic shoes.

“I never know,” I replied with my extrovert smile.

 

But I do know that I’m praying to be an “agent of blessing.” 

That’s a term I read in a devotional by Chris Tiegreen based on Proverbs 11:11:

“By the blessing of the upright, the city is exalted.”

Here are some answers to my traveling prayer:

A bright, summer morning I saw a forlorn-looking boy sitting on his bicycle blocking the sidewalk. As I got closer, he moved to the grass.

“Thank you–that was really thoughtful of you!”  I told him. ” You are a kind young man. I hope you know God loves you very much. Never forget that!”

He cheerily responded: “Have a nice day!”

One cold afternoon as I approached a middle-aged woman getting off a bus, I remarked: “That red coat is a beautiful color on you!”

She smiled broadly, confessed she was lost, and asked if I could help her find her destination. I Googled it on my phone and pointed out the building to her.

Image by Bryan Clayton from Pixabay

Just today I overheard two lawn care workers speaking Spanish during their water break. I smiled and said, “I have a blessing for you–OK?”

They both nodded yes, while one took out his earbud and the other removed his hat. I spoke the Español blessing I memorized when I traveled to Mexico for the Spanish edition of my first book many years ago: “Les mando mucho saludos y bendiciones en el nombre de Cristo .” *

“Muchas gracias!” was the grinning reply.

The ways God uses me as an agent of blessing may look very different than how He uses you, but I believe each  of us “upright” people can be a blessing-deliverer.

You may not be a talkative people-person like I am, but as Christ-followers, the same Spirit who guides and empowers me lives inside you as well! He will use your distinctive personality and gifts to be an agent of blessing no matter what path you’re on–physically or metaphorically speaking.

You might be at the office offering smiles or compliments to co-workers.

You might be home dishing out warm hugs and delicious dinner to children.

You might be sitting on the couch signing a card of encouragement to a struggling friend.

You might be flat on your back in bed picking up the phone to check on another hurting person.

You even might be in a doctor’s office or chemo room silently praying that healthcare workers and patients see Jesus in you– despite the dread you feel.

We may never know this side of Heaven how our blessing touched another person. But whether our travels are happy or hard, planned or pushed upon us, we can trust God to use us as agents of blessing in a world longing for His loving-kindness. 

* (For my non-Spanish speaking friends, “I bring you many greetings and blessings in the Name of the Christ.”)
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Enjoy the words of the old hymn “Make Me a Blessing.”

The One Cancer Patient I Didn’t Like

In my nearly two decades as a cancer patient advocate for Dr. Marc Hirsh, I met (and liked) 3,000+ newly diagnosed patients.

This is a story about the only one I didn’t like and the miracle God did in both our hearts.

That patient was told he always would be under cancer’s shadow. He was told there was no hope of a cure.

What he wasn’t told was that God had other plans.

Image by Axel Mellin from Pixabay

I met “Frank” in January 1997, however  I knew of him already because his wife was our patient and often confided how little support she felt from him on her cancer journey. Her sorrowful stories shaded my opinion before I ever laid eyes on her husband

I still can picture him in our waiting room–the unkempt hair and the long, dirty fingernails. His wife was trying to help with his  new patient paperwork and he wasn’t cooperating.

 

I am embarrassed to say this, but I decided right then and there I didn’t like him. will be cordial, but nothing more, I told myself.

Later that day I discussed Frank’s diagnosis/prognosis with Marc and added, “Did you see the tattoo of the naked lady on his arm?”

“No,” Marc replied. “I was too busy looking at the swastika on his other arm.”

He laughed. As a Jew the symbol was offensive to him, but he wouldn’t allow it to alter the way he treated Frank.

“He probably got it a long time ago and wishes he didn’t,” Marc added.

The next day I dutifully sent Frank a note, slightly exaggerating that it was “nice” to meet him.

A few months later Frank’s wife passed away, and I wondered why he got to live and she didn’t.

It wasn’t long before I got my answer.

In the spring of 1998, Marc told me he was admitting Frank to the hospital because of an accidental chemotherapy overdose. I was very distraught to hear this—not so much for Frank as for Marc, because I knew he was extremely upset. Frank took an oral chemo at home and through a series of errors by him, the pharmacy, and our office, he took a lethal dose.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

“What’s going to happen?” I asked Marc.

“He’s going to die,” he answered matter-of-factly. “I’m putting him in the hospital, but there’s nothing I can do to stop this.”

Frank’s white blood cell count, which should have been between 4,000 and 10,000, had plummeted to 300. Marc read all the medical literature, which predicted it would take two weeks for the count to bottom out. No way Frank could survive that long with no white cells to protect him from infection.

“Well, I’m praying that he won’t die,” I firmly told Marc. (I think I was praying more for Marc than Frank.)

A couple of days later I (finally) went to the hospital to visit this destined-to-die man. Frank spoke  warmly of his late wife and I had to admit he seemed pretty likable in spite of my jaded opinion of him.

At the visit’s end, I asked him if he would like me to pray with him.

“Sure,” he said with a big smile.

So I did, but contrary to the hundreds of times I’d prayed with patients, I did not offer to hold his hand .

Right after that first visit, Frank’s white count started climbing–up to 1,200—still not good, but a whole lot better.

I kept visiting, his count kept rising, and our conversations kept going deeper.

“Are you afraid of dying?” I queried one day.

“Nope,” he replied. “Everybody has to go sometime.”

“What do you think happens to people when they die?” I ventured a little further.

“You either go up or you go down,” he quickly answered.

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But Frank didn’t know which way he was headed, so I shared John 3:36: “Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life.”

I asked Frank if he wanted to follow Jesus and have that assurance of Heaven. He agreed,  so I took his hand in mine– long, dirty fingernails, offensive tattoo and all—and we prayed.

At my next visit, Frank talked freely about many subjects, including his tattoos, which he said he got many years ago and deeply regretted. (I hate it when Marc is right!)

At the end of our time I asked him if he wanted to pray and he immediately held his hand out to me. He asked me to pray for him to quit smoking and to grow closer to God. We held hands long after the “Amen” and I savored the moment as God filled my heart with more love for Him and for Frank.

A couple of days later Frank’s white count was high enough to leave the hospital. At his first office recheck, he arrived clean shaven, fingernails trimmed, and with a hug and kiss on the cheek for me.

One of the last times I saw Frank was in the spring of 1999 before he moved out West to be near family.  Still in complete remission from his cancer, we talked about the amazing way God had saved him physically and spiritually.

There were tears in Frank’s eyes because knew he had done nothing to “deserve” a miracle. But there were more tears in my eyes because I knew it was only by God’s loving grace that I got to witness His awesome power in the life of the one cancer patient I didn’t want to like.

Excerpted from Finding the Light in Cancer’s Shadow © Lynn Eib 2006 ++++++++++++++++++++

Music video “Oh, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” by Audrey Assad, feat. Fernando Ortega.

Does Following Jesus Make Everything OK?

 

“Christus Consolator” (The Divine Healer) statue at John Hopkins Hospital. Photo credit Max Boam.

*I have not seen clear statistical evidence that fewer Christians die of cancer than nonbelievers, or that they are immune in greater degree from the diseases that afflict the human race.  Some of the kindest, most selfless persons I know have had more than their share of bad health.  The fact that they belonged to Christ did not insulate them from disease.  Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promised healing.

I will not deny or dispute evidence of restoration of health.  I will rejoice at every recovery from what seems to be hopeless, threatened death.  I will not hesitate to pray for recovered health for my loved ones and acquaintances.  I will set no limits on what God may do.  But I will not follow Christ for promised healing.

I see no sign that Christians escape disaster and accident more than others.  I have helped dear friends empty muddy water out of dresser drawers and new appliances after a disastrous flood.  I remember as a child taking clothes to a widow with five children whose house had burned to the ground.  A bullet makes no detour around the body of a believer.  Therefore, I will not follow Christ for any promised protection from disaster.

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

I will not scoff at amazing survivals, nor deny providence has and continues to work for the good of God’s own.  I will continue to pray for protection from wicked men and tragedy, but I will not follow Christ for promised protection from accident or catastrophe.

I do not observe that Christians are especially favored with prosperity.  Like James, we have all seen the rich oppressing the poor, and justice is rarely perfect in this world.  The psalmist has said that he had not seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread, and in the deepest needs of this life that is certainly true; but all of us have known people of integrity who have not prospered.  Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promised freedom from physical want or the hope of affluence.

…God wills that the mind of Christ be formed in us, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Christian’s attitudes and actions will be improved by his Christianity.  But I will not follow Christ for any promise of personality enhancement or perfection.

Why then follow Christ? Why be a disciple of Jesus when life becomes more complicated, as He so often warned?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For one reason alone. 

In Jesus we behold the face of God.  He is the truth, the everlasting truth, God in the flesh.  I know that in His life, death and resurrection I am reconciled to God, the Giver of life.  I believe that nothing can separate me from the love of God.  He has all power and goodness.  I trust Him in His promises.

To Him I offer my life, damaged or whole, brief or full of years.  It matters not.  He is the one certain thing in an uncertain world.  He is to be worshipped, not so something will happen to me or the world (something already has happened to me and the world) but because He is God, who through Christ has reconciled the world to Himself.  He saves me; He is my justification; He is the center that holds.

Image by Aaron Cabrera from Pixabay

To worship the God of our salvation, to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, that alone is our vocation.  We offer our lives to God, not so as to be healthy, wealthy or wise; not even so as to gain strength to do great things for Him.  We offer our lives to Him because He alone has claim on us.  God is not a means.*

*Reprinted by permission from Believe in Miracles, But Trust in Jesus by Adrian Rogers, Crossway Books, 1997. (Why I Follow Christ” is taken from a letter Dr. Rogers’ friend wrote to his own daughter–Emphasis mine.)

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Enjoy the beautiful 3-minute medley of  “Turn Your Eyes/I Have Decided/I Surrender All” by Anthem Lights Band.

The Power of “Even If”

This past weekend my husband and I traveled to western New York for my first in-person speaking engagements since the pandemic began. (I’ve only been doing Zoom events so it was a little more work figuring out what pair of nice pants to wear 🙂 )

Ralph’s ordination 1975

While in the area, we had the joy of worshipping with the little Baptist church where Ralph was ordained and first pastored.

I was only 21 when we moved to Franklinville and the wonderful church ladies taught me how to bake. Pie crusts made with an electric mixer. Apple pie served with a slice of NY State sharp cheddar. And pecan pie sweetened with locally made maple syrup.

On Sunday we visited with our very dear friend, Conrad (nicknamed “Toad”), who was the head of the pulpit committee which called us to that church in 1975. He’s still has his delightful sense of humor in spite of deep grief over the recent loss of Dot, his wife of 59 years, whom he lovingly cared for through many years of dementia.

Conrad & Dot at  grandson’s wedding 2018

We reminisced over lunch about the trials they had faced.

We remembered Dot’s frightening ectopic pregnancy and arrival at the ER with no vital signs . Miraculously, she survived.

“That was the greatest miracle I ever had, but why didn’t God heal her this time?” my friend asked.

We recalled the devastating car accident that took the life of his middle son, while his critically injured youngest boy miraculously recovered.

“Why didn’t Rick get spared, too?” Toad wondered aloud.

He knows there are no satisfying answers to his tough questions and I certainly didn’t attempt to provide any. Instead I affirmed him for continuing to love, trust, and serve God– even if His actions didn’t always make sense.

The prophet Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meschach,, and Abednego–ordered to be burned alive for refusing to worship the Babylonian king–understood the power of  “even if.”

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

The prophet Habakkuk also understood the power of those two small words.

Even if  the fig tree does not blossom and there are no grapes on the vines,
If the olive trees fail to give fruit and the fields produce no food,
If the flocks die far from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls;
Then I will still rejoice in the Eternal! I will rejoice in the God who saves me!” Habakkuk 3:17-18

The theme of “even if” trust is a common one in scripture.

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Psalm 27:10Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.”

1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it.”

Philippians 2:17 “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God…”

Psalm 139:11 Even if I am afraid and think to myself, ‘There is no doubt the the darkness will swallow me,’…You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.”

And finally, this amazing promise from our Heavenly Father in Isaiah 54:10:

Even if the mountains heave up from their anchors, and the hills quiver and shake,
I will not desert you. You can rely on My enduring love;
My covenant of peace will stand forever.”

Never doubt the power of “even if.”
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I love this song’s message SO much: “Even If” by Mercy Me–it’s only about 4 minutes long.

 

 

 

 

Is Jesus Really Enough?

My cancer diagnosis  in 1990 was especially crushing to my husband because he had lost his first wife nearly 20 years before to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) while they were still newlyweds. To watch me face a life-threatening illness and such an uncertain future was like a recurring nightmare.

One day as he was riding home from the hospital after visiting me during my post-surgical stay, he came upon a car with a bumper sticker that read:

As he drove behind that bumper sticker, my exhausted husband pondered its message.

Of course, as a seminary graduate, my pastor-husband theologically knew it to be true statement. But that day he was so overcome with worry and fear of burying yet-another wife that he finally wondered out loud: “Is He really?” “Is Jesus REALLY enough?”

Have you asked that same question?

If I lose my job…is Jesus enough?

If my marriage doesn’t survive …is Jesus enough?

If the cancer comes back…is Jesus enough?

If the pain doesn’t go away…is Jesus enough?

If I lose a loved one…is Jesus really enough?

Two weeks later my husband answered that question for himself when he stepped into the pulpit on Sunday morning and preached one of his most powerful sermons ever. The title…“Jesus IS Enough.”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In it, he reminded all of us—and himself–that God has given us His one and only Son, and in Him we have everything we need to cope with this life and every promise for eternal life–no matter what else does or doesn’t happen to us.

There is simply nothing else God needs to do for us to prove to us that Jesus, indeed, is enough.

Would you allow me the privilege of praying with you today?

Dear Jesus, It feels unfair to have to face this trial after I’ve tried to live for You. And then I remember that You lived completely for your Father and life still was very unfair to You. I’m glad You understand what I’m feeling and most of all, I’m so grateful that Your presence living in me is enough for me. Please help me deal with the changes that this trial is bringing into my life/my loved one’s life. I pray they all will be temporary struggles. But even if they aren’t,  I pray that my soul will be satisfied in You alone. Amen.

Today’s Tip: Listen for the word “ENOUGH” in conversations and when you hear it, remind yourself that Jesus IS enough.

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Don’t miss the beautiful music video “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” by The Worship Initiative featuring Shane & Shane.

Mountaintops & Valleys: My Oncologist Has Cancer (Part 8)

Dr. Marc Hirsh has walked some deep valleys since he was diagnosed in 2020 with such a serious and rare cancer that he and every specialist he consulted thought his death was imminent.

Within days he was forced to close his busy, solo practice of more than three decades and then undergo a painful thoracotomy to biopsy and de-bulk the nearly cantaloupe-size tumor behind his heart. That was followed by six weeks of radiation, daily oral chemo and monthly hormone injections. Just a few weeks later came the deep valley of  having to say goodbye to his very sick, beloved rescue-dog Jake who had accompanied him to the office every day and greeted patients for 10 years.

But then the valleys started leveling out.

Camping in Oregon with grandchildren

The tumor shrank to about the size of an egg. The terrible pain, constant headaches, and difficulty breathing disappeared. He resumed his rigorous exercising—swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, jogging, biking, punching a heavy bag, and backyard sports with grandkids.

And then came a definite mountaintop: turning 70 and celebrating one-year as a survivor last May.

And now nearly a year later, more mountaintops–the first being another stable scan last month.

“I still have a tumor, but it’s not growing,” Marc explains. “I have a little chest pain and shortness of breath sometimes, but I’m able to pretty much do anything I want.”

The second followed shortly after and was a literal mountaintop experience.

After the good news at the Hershey Medical Center check-up, Marc and wife Elizabeth headed out West to visit older daughter Jessi and her family. As Elizabeth drove through Idaho, Marc commented that they  were “only” about 100 miles from Sun Valley, where he had heard the downhill skiing was incredible.

Cell phone photo by Marc Hirsh 3/22

“So Elizabeth gave me an early birthday present and drove all the way to Sun Valley,” he explains.heh

They arrived about midnight and secured a room at the lodge so Marc could celebrate his soon-to-be 71st birthday with his first ski in the West. (Normally he skis near his south-central PA home where the mountain vertical drops are about 400 feet or enjoys trips to Vermont with slopes of about 1,000-2,000 feet.)

An avid skier since his early teens, Marc got up early the next day and boarded the shuttle to Bald Mountain. When he got to the top, he could hardly believe his eyes.

“The vertical drop is in excess of 3,000 feet and I was looking down on snow-covered peaks!” he explains.  “It was amazing!”

Three hours later and  completely exhausted from plowing through the white powder, Marc came down from the mountain.

But that thrill remains.

“While I was up there I was thinking about this whole (cancer) experience,” Marc says. “Two years ago I was at the lowest point and now I’m on top of a mountain. I have a special gift just being alive–God didn’t have to give me this, but He did.”

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“I’m just blessed to think of the whole experience,” he adds. “I have less distractions in my life so I’m more appreciative, more grateful. I still don’t know what’s in the future, but I’m not afraid of it.”

Happy birthday, dear Marc, with prayers for many more.
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Don’t miss the short, music video of “Calling Out Your Name” by Rich Mullins, Marc and Elizabeth’s favorite Christian artist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Give Peace a Chance”

Photo by Sunguk Kim on Unsplash

You may or may not be familiar with the 1969 Beatles’ song, “Give Peace a Chance” but years later John Lennon explained its message:It wasn’t like ‘You have to have peace!’ Just give it a chance. We ain’t giving any gospel here – just saying how about this version for a change? We think we have the right to have a say in the future. And we think the future is made in your mind.”

Say what?

I’m not even going to try and dissect what that explanation might mean. I realize Lennon was mainly talking about peace in the world—as in the absence of war or conflict. But I’m guessing he also was looking for peace for his mind and soul.

Life doesn’t feel very peaceful right now.

The war in Ukraine weighs heavily on my heart and I imagine on yours, too. My personal to-do list seems longer than usual these days, including multiple doctor appointments to try and get some pain relief from undiagnosed medical issues.

So I was thinking that I could save a lot of time by not writing a whole new blog, but instead simply share some of my favorite “peace” verses. And then I felt bad that I would  “only”  be sharing verses. Like maybe I should apologize for not writing more.

Say what?

Apologize for “only” sharing God’s Word? Yikes! Where did I get that idea?

So without apology, here are some peace-seeking, peace-promising verses (bold emphasis mine). Meditate on them and give GOD a chance to bring His perfect peace into your or your loved one’s lives (or even in the lives of Ukranian and Russian Christian brothers and sisters). I believe that at least one of these will be used by the Holy Spirit to speak to your weary heart today. (Feel free to comment which one it was.)

Photo by Sunguk Kim on Unsplash

Because of God’s tender mercy,
    the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78-79

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Jesus speaking in John 14:27

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I pray that God, the source of hope,
will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.
Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus speaking in John 16:33

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation.
The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

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I pray you’ll be encouraged through this beautiful song “Peace” by Bethel Music featuring We the Kingdom.

When You Can’t See Daddy

When our grandson Benjamin was four, he was a total Daddy’s boy—as in, the best time of day was when Daddy came home and the worst time was when he had to leave.

So it wasn’t surprising when we were together at a local pizza buffet a few years ago and Benny stopped eating pasta Alfredo long enough to ask:  “Where’s Daddy?”

“He’s at the buffet getting salad,” I replied. “Remember, he told you he was going there and he would be right back?”

“No, I can’t see him,” Benny said as his inside “restaurant” voice got a little louder.

“I can see him, Ben,” I calmly told him. “He’s right there,” I said, gesturing to the salad bar at the end of the room.

Benny surveyed as much of the room as he could see from his height advantage and frantically announced: “I can’t see Daddy!”

Quickly he jumped down from his seat while calling for “Daaaaaaaaddy!”

“Over here, Ben!” his dad quickly replied, as the little guy followed that familiar voice to the salad bar, where, surprise, surprise, Daddy stood smiling. The two joined hands as Ben swallowed his tears and waited patiently for Dad to finish and walk back to the table with him.

Poor little Benny: he was worried and afraid because he lost sight of his daddy.

Do you know how he felt?

Are the struggles of this world weighing you down, leaving you straining to glimpse your heavenly Father?

Perhaps you know in your head that God is there, but your heart just doesn’t feel His presence. Maybe you’re wondering if He really can work all things together for good.

I suggest you follow the steps my grandson took when he lost sight of his father at the pizza parlor.

Tell someone that you’re having trouble seeing God right now.
Make sure it’s a trusted friend/family member who will listen to your feelings and not minimize or belittle them. Someone who loves you and will pray for you to see God again.

Call out to God.
Psalm 61:2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.
Psalm 34:17 The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.

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Listen for your heavenly Father’s familiar voice.
John 10:14,16 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep and they know me…They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”

Run to His open arms.
Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.
Luke 15:20 And while he (the prodigal son) was a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

Let Him love you.
Jeremiah 31:3-4 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
Zephaniah 3:17 He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love.

It was wonderful to watch my son-in-law Frank quiet Benjamin with his love. And it’s even more wonderful to feel God quiet us with His great love. May you see your Abba Father today and let Him love you as only He can.
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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the song “How He Loves Us” by the Dave Crowder Band

The Last Touch

My 60th in 2013

My younger brother Jim and I invented a game as little kids and for some inexplicable reason we continue to play it now in our late 60s.

We call it “Touched You Last.”

The rules are simple: When it’s time to part, be the last person to touch the other.  Finesse is important as we each aim to have the final tap before darting away yelling “touched you last!”

However, the person who was touched last is allowed to run after the last-toucher and attempt a final feel, so the game can last quite a while.

(The photo to the right shows my brother a few years ago supposedly “helping” me up on one of his horses, but I know he really was making sure he touched me last because I wouldn’t be able to chase him! )

Jim and I haven’t played our game since the pandemic began, but hopefully we’ll be able to travel to Ohio this summer and I can secure the decisive pat. (For some reason, my husband–an only child–doesn’t understand this important sibling pastime, including why my brother and I still find such enjoyment in it.)

Regardless of whether you agree with my husband or me concerning the wisdom of this ritual, I believe we all would concur that human touch is essential.

I remember how awful it felt at the very beginning of the pandemic when  we were pretty much afraid to touch one another–even our family and closest friends. And then how wonderful it was to feel safe enough to hug and kiss our daughters and grandkids.

But it’s not only human touch we crave; I believe we all long for a divine touch.

The New Testament is full of stories of Jesus touching:

The leper’s scaly skin.

The disciples’ dirty feet.

The blind man’s eyes.

Luke, the physician and Gospel writer, records a night in the life of Jesus:
As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one.” Luke 4:40

And how about the time when parents wanted to bring their children near Jesus, but were stopped by His disciples before He interceded?

But Jesus said ‘Let the children come to me’…
And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.” Matthew 19:14-15

Katy Nichole’s No. 1 debut single

Would you, too, like a touch from God? I may not know exactly what you are seeking from the Lord, but in the words of singer-songwriter Katy Nichole, I would love “to speak the Name of Jesus over you.”

As you listen* to this very short prayer-song, know that I am asking the Lord to touch you at your point of need. Please don’t miss it as it’s the best part of this blog.

As the song’s chorus says: “I pray for your healing, that circumstances would change. I pray that the fear inside would flee in Jesus’ Name. I pray that a breakthrough would happen today. I pray miracles over your life in Jesus’ Name.”

And for you to trust that He is the God of the possible.

*BE SURE TO OPEN IN YOUR BROWSER.

The “Language of God” is in our DNA

Chemo room 1997. Photo credit Steve Lock.

After I became a patient advocate for Dr. Marc Hirsh in 1996, I discovered I was in for a real education. I was working for the first time in a medical office and constantly had to ask the nurses to explain medical jargon.

What’s a DVT? I thought he had a blood clot?

“He does. It stands for deep vein thrombosis.”

Oh. Why not BC for blood clot?

One day I noticed our head nurse Ruth had written “SOB” next to a patient’s name on the daily schedule. I was curious why she would make such a disparaging comment about the gentleman who didn’t seem cranky to me.

When  I asked her about it–and she finally stopped laughing–Ruth explained “SOB” stood for “short of breath!”

I eventually learned to speak the “lingo” and even tried to impress my husband with dinner conversation.

ME: “We thought there was nothing  to help her, but the immunohistochemistry showed KIT positive and it’s a GIST so we can use a tyrosine kinase inhibitor! Isn’t that great?”

MY HUBBY: “Could you please pass the salt?”

National Human Genome Research Institute

But even better than deciphering the “secret” language of health professionals has been discovering the human body’s amazing intricacies.

In fact our bodies are so complex that in some ways I’m not as surprised they break down as I am that they don’t break down more often!

The Human Genome Project completed in 2003 identified the 20,000+ genes in the human body and sequenced the 3 billion chemical base pairs that comprise our DNA or hereditary code of life.

The head of the project, Dr. Francis Collins (who recently retired as National Institutes of Health director) explains that the DNA in each human is 3 billion letters long and written in a “strange and cryptographic four-letter code.”

The code is so complex, Collins says, that if someone were to read it out loud at three letters per second, it would take 37 years!

Collins is one of the world’s leading scientists and also a man of Christian faith who calls our DNA “the language of God.”

“We have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God,” Collins said when the genome project’s completion was announced.

He later wrote: “Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced. God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible.”

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it!
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb
How precious are you thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me! Psalm 139:13-15, 17-18

Whether we feel like our body has “let us down” or we discover our DNA includes an unwanted genetic mutation, I hope we still will praise our marvelous Creator who never leaves us or forsakes us even when our health does. (And don’t forget that one day we get to trade these temporary “tents” for immortal bodies with no sorrow or pain. Oh, what a day that will be!)
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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the classic song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlim. I encourage you to add your voice in praise.  (If it doesn’t open, please use this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IlVfkY5q54&list=RD5IlVfkY5q54&start_radio=1)