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)

“Just let ’em fall like healing rain”

May I be honest and share two things?…First, this short post is mainly for me. And second, the song at the end is the best part of it.

I’m writing for myself because unwelcome events have left a trail of sadness in my heart.

Perhaps you can relate.

I’m mourning two years of a brutal pandemic, countless natural disasters, unending political bickering, and the painful fracturing of the body of Christ. Toss in my personal, unresolved pain issues; turmoil in our local church; dear friends with life-threatening diagnoses –plus other discouraging scenarios–and the result has become my recipe for sorrow.

Image by joseph_Berardi from Pixabay

I think I need a good cry.

I’m serious.

Sadness builds up in our lives and for the most part, we–men in particular–don’t allow ourselves to really feel the emotion. Instead we keep busy. We eat. We work. We complain. We watch TV. We scroll through Facebook. We even belittle ourselves for feeling/acting the way we do.

But we rarely shed tears. I’m talking about the cathartic kind of weeping where afterwards we feel strangely lighter–as if we’ve cast off something heavy. Which of course we really have.

It’s the kind of cry where we acknowledge we can’t fix all the mess in the world, in our country, in the church, in our friends, and in us. But we know and trust in a God who can. It’s a surrendering wail to our Heavenly Father who is at work restoring and renewing this world and us–even if we can’t always see it in everyday life.

So that’s all I’m writing for today because I want to take time to listen to the song “Tears” and do just what it says: “Let ’em fall like healing rain.”

Maybe you, my weary friend, will too.

“Let ’em fall right down your face; hit the ground in a pool of grace…Watch the old become new. Let the fear fade away. Feel His arms around you.”

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again–my Savior and my God!

Psalm 42:11

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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the beautiful music video “Tears” by Matt Hammitt.

Swallowing Sunshine

So, this month is my 50th birthday! I know that surprises some of you who thought perhaps I was pushing 70.

Well, actually both are true…

Me at the beach December ’70

It was January 1972, my sophomore year of college at THE Ohio State University (some of you are cheering and others are booing—I love you all). My best friend Jackie and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the “bad” end of High Street. (Noisy bar outside, pesky cockroaches inside.)

Returning from Christmas break, I noticed  every night Jackie would lie in her bed reading the Bible. I found this rather irritating because it seemed as if she was “more religious” than me.  After all, I was raised in the church and believed in God!

So, I figured I would show her that I, too, was “holy.” I got out a little paperback New Testament my Grandma Burns had given me to take to college. Each night I opened it and out of the corner of my eye watched Jackie across the bedroom to make sure I read longer than she did. (What? Me competitive?)

One Tuesday, a friend of Jackie’s stopped by to give her info she’d requested about a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting.

Jackie with her dog Pokey in ’72

Jackie was eager to attend, but figured I wouldn’t be—probably the fact that I enjoyed arguing about the validity of the Bible was a good clue.

“You don’t want to go, right?” Jackie asked.

The honest answer would have been: “Absolutely not!” But once again my competitive nature asserted itself and I replied, “Of course, I want to go!”

The meeting that night began with students singing upbeat songs I’d never heard. They seemed excited and I remember thinking: They have something I don’t.

Later in the meeting, after dividing into smaller groups, a pretty blonde shared a blue booklet with me. At one point she asked: “Who’s on the throne of your life?”

As a newspaper reporter I loved to ask questions, but this seemed like a dumb one.

“I am—who else would be?” I responded.

The girl patiently explained that when we put Jesus on the throne of our life, everything changes as His Holy Spirit supernaturally provides the power to live a God-pleasing life. Then she asked me if I wanted to pray and surrender the leadership of my life to Him.

To this day, I’m still amazed that my 18-year-old, know-it-all self said “yes,” but I did. And she was right…everything changed. I experienced God’s peace, joy and purpose in an incredible way.

To quote E. Stanley Jones, “When I met Christ, I felt that I had swallowed sunshine.”(And now you know why I celebrate two birthdays: one a physical birth and one a spiritual rebirth. And why I’m forever grateful for my dear friend Jackie.)

Half a century later, I still feel Christ’s light in me. But honestly, I still sometimes get back on the throne. I want things my way and in my timing.

Have you swallowed sunshine, my friend? If so, I remind you–as I daily do myself–to keep Jesus on the throne no matter what weariness this world throws at us.

But set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer
to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.
 1 Peter 3:15

P.S. If you ever want to talk about who’s on the throne in your life, email me at cancerhope4u@gmail.com
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Make sure to open in your browser to hear one of my favorite songs, “Jesus We Enthrone You” by Don Moen.

The One Cancer Diagnosis that Made Me Smile

I literally have known thousands of people diagnosed with cancer, but there has only ever been one whose diagnosis made me smile.

I think you’ll understand why after reading this story of how God touched two hearts to bring hope to hundreds of hurting people.

I met Karen Wineholt in 1983 at a meeting for breastfeeding moms when she was pregnant with her first child and I was nursing my third.  She and her husband Jerry began attending the church my husband pastored and soon he had the joy of baptizing them. The four of us laughed together at marriage retreats, cried together when life took difficult turns, and together shared God’s love with our community.

And we even shared Karen’s 30th birthday when they visited me in the hospital following my colon cancer surgery in 1990. By the time Karen got a cancer diagnosis in 2013, we already had been friends for 30 years–joking that we had enough embarrassing stories to easily “blackmail” one another.

Now we shared an oncologist, too.

Karen’s stage 1B tumor was found on a routine mammogram and considered highly curable with surgery, radiation and hormone pills. I tried not to be excited about her diagnosis, but I wanted to retire from my job offering emotional and spiritual support in Dr. Marc Hirsh’s office so that my husband and I could move closer to our daughters and grandchildren. I kept praying God would show me when I could leave. When I heard Karen’s “bad” news, I knew God was preparing her to continue my treasured ministry.

Now I also knew enough not to tell her how happy I was about her diagnosis.  Finally, more than a year later, I couldn’t contain my excitement and invited her to lunch.

Karen remembers me saying: “I believe God could be calling you to be a patient advocate and if I’m right, He will tell you, too.”

Little did I know that the year before, while sitting in her car before radiation therapy, that exact thought “just popped” into her head.

“Because I knew you were retiring, I thought ‘maybe I could replace Lynn,’ ” Karen recalls. “And then just as quickly another thought popped in: ‘there’s no way you’re qualified’.”

But I knew Karen well enough to recognize she did have what it took to be a patient advocate. And besides, God would supply whatever she lacked–just as He had done for me for 20 years.

The rest is history.

Marc offered her a job when I retired in the spring of 2015 and she worked for him until his own cancer diagnosis forced the closing of his practice in 2020.

“I really enjoyed helping people walk through their diagnosis, loving them, and showing them the Lord,” Karen recalls. “Meeting people in their deepest, darkest times and celebrating their victories as well.

LifeHopeandTruth.com

“I thought when I lost my job that I was done being a patient advocate, but I’m not,” explains Karen, who has voluntarily continued leading the cancer and grief prayer support groups I started, as well as co-leading a new cancer support group for women.

I cannot begin to tell you what a joy it has been to watch my dear friend pour love on and encouragement into friends whom I also love.

In recent years Karen and I discovered something about one another that despite more than three decades of friendship we never knew: Out of more than 31,000 Bible verses, we have the same favorite.

Ephesians 3:20: Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine
by his power at work within us…

And now you know why one patient’s cancer diagnosis made me smile. I hope her story makes you smile too.
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Be sure to open your browser to hear the song “Sovereign” by Chris Tomlin, which describes God’s amazing power to work everything for His good.

What We All Really Need

He likes sweet. I like salty.

He thrives on change. I seek routine.

He favors the East Coast. I prefer the West.

He is impulsive. I have to plan to be spontaneous.

But we do agree on this: We’re still very much in love.

Forty-eight years ago on this date we said “I do,” and like most starry-eyed twenty-somethings had no inkling what we were really signing up for. More than three decades of pastoral ministry, a serious cancer scare, three daughters, seven grandkids, a bunch of moves, and a too-long pandemic later, we now are smart enough to know how uncertain the future really is. And thankfully, we’ve learned to laugh about (most of the time!) and appreciate how opposite we are.

“attract-1” by daynoir is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Ever notice how often opposites do attract? Not just in marriage, but in friendships too. Some of my closest female friends are very different from me. But there’s one I call when I want to laugh. Another I reach out to if I’m discouraged. Still another I call when I need prayer.

I once heard the husband-wife author team of Gordon and Gail MacDonald say that we all need people different from us “to help us hear the full counsel of God.” And when we are going through weary times, I believe, we especially need to hear others speak God’s hope, peace and truth to us.

Author Chris Tiegreen says “one of the greatest things we can do for people in need of God is to be there–to be present, in the context of problems and pain, carrying the counsel and companionship of God wherever we can.”

I love that phrase: “the counsel and companionship of God.” That’s what my wonderful husband has offered me as he helps me see a situation from a different perspective or loves me when I’m not very lovable. It’s what my family and dearest friends continue to offer me in this crazy, messed-up world.

So what do you need today? Someone to be present in your weary life, giving you the counsel and companionship of God? If so, take heart that God will provide as He did for the Apostle Paul:

“But God, who encourages those who are discouraged,
encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.
His presence was a joy…” 2 Corinthians 7:6-7

Or do you need to be the presence in someone’s weary life, tendering God’s love to them?

Jesus explained this to His disciples in John 13:34.
“So I give you a new command:
Love each other deeply and fully.
Remember the ways that I have loved you,
and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.” (The Voice Bible)

The presence–literally or figuratively–of another human being willing to be a conduit for God’s presence can change everything. I encourage you to pray that your weary heart will receive “the counsel and companionship of God” from someone who cares about you, or that you will offer those two gifts to a weary soul who really needs them.

(And please join me today in thanking God for my 48 years of love with my opposite.)
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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the music 
video “Weary Traveler” by Jordan St. Cyr

 

 

 

 

 

Grieving something or someone this Christmas?

I thought it wouldn’t.

But it did.

It happened again.

Kenny G was belting out jazzy, holiday cheer. A burning candle wafted a delicious candy cane scent. I was by myself happily decorating our house for Christmas. I lifted a slightly torn, rectangular box out of the large plastic storage bin and chuckled to myself. This box has to be more than 60 years old!

Carefully wrapped inside was a slender, shiny, tree topper that graced my parents’ Christmas trees for decades. It wasn’t the original which came in the now-yellowed box, but a replacement topper my folks decided to store there after the first one broke. (I can just hear my Mom saying: Why throw away a perfectly good box?)

I lovingly placed the topper in my mom’s antique glass pitcher filled with some of my parents’ old ornaments, stepped back and approvingly surveyed my decorating.

 And then it started. A lump in my throat. I swallowed hard, but it grew. I felt my eyes misting and then hot, tears began to sting as I tried to hold them back.

I miss my mom and my dad. I don’t want their ornaments…I want them! 

I sat down on the couch and wept.

And that’s what grief does to us. It catches us when we’re not expecting it and won’t let go until we’ve allowed it to have its say.

Have you experienced grief sneaking up on you? A sound, a smell, a word, a photo. Something triggers a memory or thought and you come undone.

Maybe you’re grieving the loss of health or a job. Maybe it’s the first Dec. 25 a certain smiling face won’t be in your home. Or maybe it’s been 20 years, but you still yearn for one more holiday with them.

Or maybe the persons you’re missing haven’t passed away, but circumstances are separating you this year. It just doesn’t seem right you won’t be together. That’s grief you’re feeling, too.

Connie Milchling, author, speaker, ministry director

My friend Connie, whose husband Brad literally dropped dead of a heart attack in 2004 at age 47 recalls that she didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas just three months after his passing.

“I felt horrible because I did not want to celebrate Jesus’ birth because of Brad’s death,” admitted Connie.

But a good friend gave her some insight which helped ease that holiday pain.

“Do you know what Jesus is doing this Christmas season?” the friend asked Connie.

Connie shook her head “no.”

“He’s weeping…He’s weeping with you.”

Connie said that mental image of Jesus shedding tears for her helped to stop the worrying about all the unwanted holiday celebrations. Instead, she prayed: “Just for today, I need to see Jesus. Just for today, I need to seek Jesus. Just for today, I need to serve Jesus.”

Are you grieving something or someone this Christmas? Jesus–the whole Reason for the Season–is weeping with you.  Remember He understands your sorrow (Isaiah 53:3) even if no one else on earth really does. Why not share in Connie’s prayer that today you will see Jesus…today you will seek Jesus…today you will serve Jesus.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18
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Be sure to open in your browser to hear “Be Still My Soul” sung by Libera, a British acapella boys’ choir.

Don’t waste your cancer…or any other pain

Those are the words penned by author-pastor John Piper on the eve of his surgery for prostate cancer in 2006. My cancer prayer support group often discussed one of Piper’s ten ways we can “waste” cancer by allowing it—instead of God—to be foremost in our lives.*  

Probably the cancer survivor who most often expressed not wanting to waste his painful, unplanned circumstances is my friend Bert, diagnosed in 2003 with stage 4 prostate cancer at the age of 68.

Bert and wife Joan at our support group 2009

Bert’s cancer was not operable, so he underwent eight weeks of radiation and eighteen months of hormone shots to try and slow its course. The radiation went fairly well, but the shots, which “turned off” his male hormones gave him severe hot flashes.

“That gave me a greater appreciation of what women go through in menopause and I sure don’t want to go through childbirth!” Bert quipped to our group.

Because Bert’s father and grandfather both had faced cancer, he wasn’t shocked to get his diagnosis.

“I was surprised and concerned, but I had a peace about it,” he recalls. “I remember thinking that I could go home and feel sorry for myself—but I would still have cancer—or I could use it to show people that I’m not afraid to die. I’ve decided I will use cancer to share and encourage other people.”

Despite being told by doctors that he should expect the cancer to return,  eighteen years later at age 86, Bert continues to be in complete remission. A few years ago he moved to Florida where he still shines for the Lord–co-teaching a weekly Bible study, mentoring two men and providing lots of TLC for Joan, his wife of 62 years, who battles multiple health issues.

“I like to ask people ‘where is your hope?,’” he explains, “and I like to share with them that my hope is in following Christ.”

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.
When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

John Piper, Chancellor of Bethlehem College & iSeminary

I cannot imagine how many people Bert has encouraged because he chose not to waste his cancer and refuses to allow anything but God to be foremost in his life.

But it’s not just cancer we can waste, is it?  It’s any pain–physical, emotional, mental or spiritual–that becomes our focus instead of God.

Piper says that “Christians are never anywhere by divine accident. There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.’ (Luke 21:12 -13). So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.”

Will you pray with me today?

Heavenly Father, I wish I didn’t have to face this struggle, but because I do, I’m asking You to help me not to waste it. Please take these painful, unplanned circumstances and turn them into an opportunity for me to show others that You are worth more than life itself. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

*(You can read his wonderful essay at https://www.desiringgod.org/books/dont-waste-your-cancer) 
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Be sure to open in your browser to hear Lauren Daigle’s beautiful rendition of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

When It’s Too Hard to Pray

It’s pretty easy to thank God when ­everything’s going well. When you feel happy. When you have your health. When your loved ones are doing fine.

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

It’s a lot harder when some things—maybe most things—are not going well.

In those first dark days after my cancer diagnosis in 1990, I literally ­could not pray. Sentences simply refused to form. The ­only thing I felt I could utter was a desperate cry for healing. What else was there to say?

Image by Avelino Calvar Martinez from Pixabay

And then I read a Bible verse—one ­I’m sure I’d read many times before, but this time it seemed to jump off the page:

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress.
For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray.

But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying,
for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Romans  8:26-27

Two wonderful verses about how to pray when you feel you ­can’t pray. They were right there in the Bible, sandwiched between the Apostle Paul’s discussion of suffering and his explanation of how we can be victorious even in difficult times! (Read the whole chapter and you’ll see what I mean.)

Wow. It was okay that I felt that it was too hard to pray. The Holy Spirit would pray for me. He would take my “groans” that were too deep for words right to the throne of God. And even better than that, the Spirit would know exactly what to pray for me; He would pray accord­ing to God’s will.

After I found that verse, I would often just sit with my hands on my lap, palms toward heaven, tears trickling down my cheeks . . . praying.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I never said a word. I ­couldn’t even form cohesive thoughts in my mind, but I prayed. I simply allowed God’s Spirit to take my innermost thoughts, my deepest fears to God and pray for me.

How about you, my friend? Is there a hurt/loss/worry/fear so deep that you don’t have the strength or “right” words to pray?

Hear how The Message paraphrase renders Romans 8:26: If we ­don’t know how or what to pray, it ­doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

What an amazing God! He knows that at the times we need Him most, we may not be able to express ourselves to Him, so He has His own Spirit do it for us!

Take heart, dear friend, and believe that even when it feels too hard to pray…you still can.

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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the inspiring music video “O My Soul” by Casting Crowns, written by  band member Mark Hall the night he found out he needed surgery to remove a cancerous kidney.

 

 

How God Whispers His Love

I’ve always been fascinated by the bald eagle, our country’s national symbol.  But about a decade ago these once-endangered creatures came to symbolize something even more special for me.

My women’s group was reading a book by husband-wife duo John and Stasi Eldredge in which they shared an amazing story.

While John was on a business trip in Oregon, he went to a deserted beach for alone time with God. Suddenly  a huge plume of water shot up and a massive humpback whale appeared right by the shore.

“Humpback Whale Diving” by ahisgett is licensed under CC BY 2.0

John said he knew immediately that this was a gift from God to his heart alone, a “gift from the Lover of his heart.”

Thrilled with John’s divine “gift,”  Stasi wished for one too. So while at a women’s retreat in California, she headed to the beach for time alone with God. Seated in the sand, she asked God to see a whale.

After a lengthy wait with no such sighting, she headed back to the retreat. Walking around a corner, she encountered a beautiful, solitary starfish in the sand and knew it was her special gift. Immediately, Stasi thanked God for His amazing love and rounded the next bend.

“Before me, behind me, surrounding me, were hundreds of starfish. Zillions of them,” she says. “God didn’t just love me. He LOOOOVED me!”

“Starfish” by Elena Kalis is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As our study group discussed this story, some said they, too, hoped for a special reminder of God’s love. I didn’t mention it, but knew I wouldn’t be asking for any such “sign.” After all, I was a longtime Christ-follower who accepted the truth of God’s love for me described in His Word and didn’t need any “touchy-feely” stuff 🙂 (Can you guess where this story is headed?)

At the next meeting a couple women joyfully shared their answered prayers, including one who had a beautiful, double rainbow appear right in front of her car.

A few days later I just had started an early evening walk when my husband called out that he would go with me if I waited. Frankly, I really wanted to get going and hurry back to my to-do list. But I love my husband, so I waited.

As we headed down our big hill, I glanced up. Flying about 25 feet above was a bald eagle. I always had longed to see this majestic bird in the wild, but never mentioned my deep desire to anyone.

I began pointing and grinning while fighting back tears. I had walked/jogged that street day-after-day for many years and never seen this eagle who apparently fished at a nearby small lake. It was no coincidence that I saw it that day; instead it was a powerful reminder that the God who can read our minds delights in our joy.

As Stasi Eldredge writes: “He knows what takes your breath away, knows what makes your heart beat faster. We have missed many of his notes simply because we shut our hearts down in order to endure the pain of life.”

How about you, my friend? Has the pain of life pushed your heart closed to the joy of God’s love for you? I can’t promise you a whale, zillions of starfish, or even a bald eagle, but I agree with Stasi that “we must choose to open our heart again so that we might hear his whispers” of love.

Every time I see a bald eagle (including this one flying over my next-door neighbors recently), it thrills my heart and reminds me of my heavenly Father’s love.

Go ahead and ask Him to whisper His love to your heart today.

“And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should,
how wide, how long, how high,  and how deep his love is.”
Ephesians 3:18

“I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.”
Psalm 31:7

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