Turning 70 and Celebrating One Year as a Survivor: My Oncologist Has Cancer (Part 6)

Today Dr. Marc Hirsh, my oncologist, my brother in faith and my dear friend, turns 70. I know others who have recently, or will soon, reach this milestone, but none I’m celebrating more than this guy.

An early celebration with staff and a chocolate cake.

That’s because shortly after his birthday last year, Marc was diagnosed with a rare atypical carcinoid tumor of the thymus gland. The 12cm mass behind his heart had caused inflammation of the heart lining, collapsed one lung, difficulty breathing, and terrible pain. It seemed there would be no more birthday celebrations for this man who had dedicated his life to trying to help cancer patients, including me, enjoy more time.

“When I was diagnosed, I honestly thought there was a good chance I was going to die soon,” Marc explained as we chatted on the phone this week. “Some of the doctors at (Johns) Hopkins and other places were pretty pessimistic too, but I’m still here.”

Marc will celebrate seven decades of living by going tent-camping for a few days with his younger daughter and his 7-year-old grandson.

“It is tiring, but I like it,” he explained. (His wife Elizabeth says she now prefers the comfort of her bed over a sleeping bag on the ground and only will be joining the trio during daytime!)

When I asked Marc if he also was celebrating one year as a cancer survivor, he quickly answered.

“Definitely. I’m grateful to feel as good as I do and to be able to do things a year later,” he said. In addition to multiple camping outings, he plans to kayak, paddle board and take out his pontoon boat soon.

However, like many cancer survivors he’s having to get used to a “new normal.”

“I’m adjusting to my new reality–without my practice and without Jake,”  Marc said. (His illness forced the immediate closure of his 31-year-old oncology-hematology practice in Hanover, PA, and a few months later, his beloved rescue dog, Jake–who went to the office with him every day– had to be put down.)

“I feel like in the past year I went from age 50 to age 70,” Marc explained. “I don’t have the strength and stamina I did before. I feel old and I never felt old–it’s something I don’t like.”

But Marc is thankful for some aspects of this new life.

“I’m getting to do a lot of things I enjoy, but never had time for,” he said. “I’m relearning a lot of classical (piano) music, reading a lot and doing sports with my grandson.”  (Before his two granddaughters returned to their West Coast home, they enjoyed music and science lessons with him, as well as some serious Lego building!)

“I’m adjusting to my new reality and I look forward to future events,” Marc said. “Elizabeth and I are really enjoying each other and I’m getting a lot of satisfaction from my marriage. I feel like I’m in a good place spiritually. I have good faith and I don’t have many moments of fear.”

And this birthday has been especially sweet because of all the cards he’s been receiving from friends, patients and colleagues.

“It’s crazy how many birthday cards I’ve gotten,” he said. “It’s really beautiful that so many people care about me. A lot have handwritten notes thanking me for things I’ve done. I’m really grateful and humbled by all of them.


“I was flooded with cards when I was first diagnosed and to know that people still think about me a year later is really heartwarming,” he added.

When I asked Marc what was especially encouraging to him these days, he said “I seem to be feeling a deeper sense of God and love that is almost inexpressible. It seems to be welling up inside of me and I really feel more loving.”

Marc, here’s to many more birthdays filled with God’s love and ours for you, too.

Don’t miss the music video below, “The Love of God”  by Marc and Elizabeth’s favorite Christian artist, Rich Mullins.






Waiting for something?

Ring the bells again!

The last time I set these bells on the arm of my husband’s La-Z-Boy recliner was January 2017 after his bilateral knee replacement. Well, today he gets a shoulder replaced. So once again I want him to be able to summon me day and night–hence TWO bells. The smaller one is for routine needs and the larger bell for more urgent requests.

When I posted a similar bell photo four years ago, there was much concern among readers that I might not hear these bells, so just to ease everyone’s minds, for this rehab I have added two maracas–he can shake one for routine desires and both for bigger needs. The shaking can double as therapy too. (I guess you can tell this is not my first rodeo!) Today’s surgery brings the replacement tally to two shoulders and three knees (if you count the one that got infected and had to be re-replaced!)

And it also ushers in the waiting.

Me, dropping my partner of 47 years at the surgicenter entrance and heading home to wait because of COVID-19 protocols. Me, with my cell phone in my pocket waiting for the surgeon to inform me that the procedure is finished. Me, waiting for my husband to emerge from anesthesia fog and FaceTime with me tonight. Me, waiting tomorrow for the word from a nurse than I can  bring my bionic guy home.

And then more waiting. For muscles and nerves to heal from surgery trauma. For range of motion to improve. For strength to return. For life to feel normal again.

For what are you waiting these days?

For your body to heal?

For your marriage to be revived?

For the pain to subside?

For a loved one to trust in Jesus?

For wisdom to deal with a rude co-worker?

For patience in finding a new job?

I’m pretty sure there’s some prayer of longing on your heart today. And I’m also willing to bet that like me, you’re not a fan of the waiting. When I’m waiting, my mind often travels to not-so-good places. I begin to doubt, then worry and sometimes even fear.

The Bible is full of stories about waiting as God doesn’t seem averse to letting people wait for His promises. Scripture tells of God-loving people waiting… waiting in the desert,  waiting in the belly of a large fish,  waiting for a child, waiting for a prodigal, waiting in prison,  waiting for healing,  waiting for a Messiah. The Psalms are full of their heart cries for deliverance.

So as I wait, I choose to fix my wandering mind on their prayers.

Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in His word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

Image from LifeHopeandTruth.com

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5

We wait in hope for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name,
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 33:20-22

My friend, I’m waiting in expectant hope with you for God’s answer to your prayers. I know He will be faithful.
P.S. Yesterday as I was writing this blog, my husband walked by the living room and noticed the bells were out. I explained how I had included two maracas for his added ability to summon me, but I must say, for some reason he did not seem impressed! :-)+++++++++++++
Be sure to open in your browser to hear the music video “The Waiting” by Jamie Grace.







God Cannot be Surprised


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I don’t think most people are truly prepared to get bad news–especially concerning our health or a loved one’s. Instead we hope against hope that things will not turn out as we fear and the whole nightmare will go away. Right up until I saw the look on my gastroenterologist’s face after my colonoscopy in June 1990, I had hoped—and believed—there was nothing wrong with me. (So much for the power of positive thinking!)

I don’t know if some bad news has taken you by surprise, but I guarantee it has not caught God off-guard.

He is all-knowing.
He is all-seeing.
He is all-powerful.
He is in control of ­every­thing.
He knows what you need and when you need it.

You may feel unprepared for what you’re facing, but God is prepared. And He is preparing things for you—good things—things you haven’t even thought of.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

And I believe He literally goes before all of His followers into each new day to provide what we’ll need for that day. Hear His promise through Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 31:8:

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you.
He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Or as The Message paraphrase puts it:
God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.
Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.

Authors Henry and Richard Blackaby in their devotional Experiencing God Day by Day explain God’s promise this way:

“God never sends you into a situation alone. He always goes before His children as He did with the children of Israel when He led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. . . . He always precedes you in any situation you encounter. God is never caught by surprise by your experience; He has already been there. He is prepared to meet your every need because He has gone before you and knows exactly what you will need for your pilgrimage.”

And the really good news is that He doesn’t just go on ahead of us, He stays with us, too, ensuring we are never alone.

Not only does God go before you, but He also stands beside you and behind you, to provide protection and comfort,” the Blackabys add. “If you are going through a difficult or confusing time, know that the Lord has gone before you and He is present with you. He is fully aware of what you are facing, and He is actively responding to your need.”

My friend, God knows exactly what you and I need to  get through today.

It’s okay if you feel disbelief or shock or unprepared for whatever’s next. Perhaps you would like to pray Psalm 25:5: Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.
Be sure to open in your browser to hear the beautiful song “Christ Be All Around Me” by All Sons & Daughters.

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Funny Bone


Image by Andrea Barstow from Pixabay

There’s nothing funny about cancer. But after my diagnosis in 1990, I figured laughter could be good medicine for our family.

Upon learning that my chemo pill actually was a worming medicine designed to kill intestinal parasites in sheep and dogs, I would pop one in my mouth and start barking and chasing my squealing daughters around the house. My husband mentioned to our friends that I had been de-wormed and he was thinking of getting me a rabies shot too. The pills were expensive and he often suggested we call our cat’s vet to try and get them cheaper. (A regular comedian, huh?)

My support groups had a reputation for lots of laughing. And every time we laughed together, it reminded us we still were alive . . . and that always was worth celebrating!

Image by Andrea Barstow from Pixabay

If you don’t have a laughing support group (or a comedian husband!),  Dave Dravecky’s Outreach of Hope (now https://www.endurance.org)  years ago published five suggestions to “strengthen your funny bone:”

  1. Start your own comedy collection of jokes and cartoons. Do an Internet search for “clean jokes” and you’ll find some good laughs. Post them at your desk or on your fridge so you can remind yourself to smile. (Do you know how to make Michigan cookies? Put them in a bowl and beat them for three hours!–OK maybe that’s only funny if you’re a Buckeye like me!)
  2. Get your groceries and get a chuckle by reading some of the tabloid headlines while standing in line. (I just read about aliens with anorexia and manure as a miracle cure for arthritis! Of course, when I purchase these magazines they are business expenses because I share the stories in my laughter talk  🙂 )
  3. Browse greeting-card racks and enjoy reading funny cards. You can even buy one to brighten someone’s day! (One day at work I received a card which read: “I bet I can still float your boat…even if I don’t have both oars in the water!” It was from my wonderful husband to cheer me up.)
  4. Become a humorous people groupie by hanging out with funny people. (You know who you are…you’re either a funny friend or you need one!)
  5. Make the most of embarrassing moments. (Did I tell you about the time a pair of my underwear dropped out of my jeans’ pant leg onto the floor of a Christian bookstore?……….Never mind.)

Pastor Rick Warren

In his NY Times bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren writes that our first purpose in life is to please God. Or as Warren puts it, “The smile of God is the goal of your life.”

No matter what you’ve gone through or what still lies ahead—whether you have no cancer, a little cancer or a lot of cancer; whether your trial disappears, grows more intense or perhaps never leaves—will you choose choose to please God and bring a smile to His face? It is your choice.

I have a blessing for you from Numbers 6:24-26 today:

May the Lord bless you  and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you His favor
and give you His peace.

Be sure to open in your browser to hear “The Blessing” from Bethel Music. You may even want to close your eyes and hear this as a prayer for you.


Heard any insensitive remarks lately?


“Oh, my grandmother had that kind of cancer—she didn’t last long.”

“My neighbor has what you have—he’s in so much pain.”

“I thought you’d be over this grieving by now.”

Heard any such insensitive (dare I say “stupid”) remarks?  I think I’ve heard them all and then some.

I remember bumping into a church friend at the grocery store shortly after I my cancer diagnosis in 1990. She apologized for not being in touch with me.

“I thought I heard you were going to die. I didn’t know if that was true, so I just didn’t know what to do,” she quickly spit out.

She kept babbling for a while, and I remember I ended up trying to comfort her in the fresh vegetable aisle.

Ken ready for the annual Ride For Roswell Cancer Center fundraiser.

I think relatives, friends, and acquaintances are usually at a loss for words when they hear about someone’s diagnosis or recurrence, so they say something to either a.) try to identify with the person or b.) try to lift their spirits. Often they succeed with neither, especially when they immediately begin spouting Bible verses.

Someone started quoting scripture to my western New York friend Ken just moments after he was given the devastating news of tongue cancer requiring life-altering surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

“I only heard the first few words and wanted to scream at my friend, ‘Stop! Just stop!’” Ken still recalls 19 cancer-free years later.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m willing to bet you can remember some not-very-helpful comments made to you or your loved one. How do we handle such insensitivity?

I like the advice attributed to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt: “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

Do you think my friend at the grocery store saw me standing by the romaine lettuce and thought, “I’ll walk over to Lynn and say something that will make her feel really bad?”

Of course not. I’m sure her heart was feeling love for me and concern over my well-being, however poorly she expressed it. And the same was surely true for Ken’s Bible-quoting friend.

Think about the last  life-struggle conversation you had with someone that left you feeling worse instead of better. Ask yourself whether you think that was the person’s intention. If yes, I recommend you speak with someone who can help you establish healthy boundaries with a spiteful person!

But if you answered no, then ignore that person’s words and just hear his or her heart for you.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

We always want people to give us the benefit of the doubt or cut us some slack, but we have to admit, it’s not always easy to do the same for others—especially when our world has been rocked by a life-altering event. Our emotions are fragile, our bodies are hurting, and our spirits can be wounded easily. That makes it hard to be patient with well-meaning but insensitive folks.

So if you want to find peace in the face of life’s difficulties, use your head to handle yourself and your heart to handle others. And most of all, keep both your heart and mind open to receive the Lord’s perfect peace.

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

Be sure to open in your browser to hear the music video “Perfect Peace” by Laura Story

Who or What are You Missing Today?


My parents’ 50th anniversary in 2002

My Dad would have turned 96 today if he hadn’t passed away in 2011. I can still recall my last phone conversation with him after the hospice nurse called to say his time was short. We lived several hours away and even though we left as soon as we could, we did not get there in time.

Meanwhile, my Mother–recovering from cancer surgery in an out-of-town hospital–was transported by ambulance back to their assisted living facility, but also arrived too late. Exactly three years and three weeks later, she died too.

Many years have passed, but I still miss them terribly.  And deep down, we’re all grieving some kind of loss aren’t we? Whether it’s been days or decades since we got the bad news, we all mourn something ripped from our grasp: health, marriage, finances, friendship, dreams, and so much more.

Whatever you’ve lost, I pray that my friend David’s story will encourage your weary heart today–or perhaps you’ll share it with someone else who needs uplifting.

David[1]has faced the incomprehensible twice with his family. The first time was when his youngest son Kevin died of AIDS. The second was a few years later when his middle son Alan committed suicide.

“These past months have been like a dream gone bad,” David says. “My feelings have ranged from shock and disbelief to pain, anger and guilt.”

David, a man of great faith who is a respected Bible teacher, is at a loss to understand how and why 49-year-old Alan could do the unthinkable, leaving behind his wife and three children.

Image by Liz Masoner from Pixabay

“Alan was a handsome, intelligent, free-spirited, fun-loving guy; a prankster with an extraordinary sense of humor who could make even the most orthodox double over in laughter in a heartbeat,” David says. “Alan was high voltage, fearless and loved living life on the edge. He was into dirt bikes, hunting, catching rattlesnakes and sky-diving.”

But in recent years Alan became addicted to prescription painkillers from several injuries and surgeries, David says. And on a cold winter day he left his Michigan home in deep despair and disappeared into some nearby woods where he took his own life.

The days since Alan’s death “have been most challenging to say the least,” David says. “Sudden waves of grief come rushing in from out of nowhere, twisting our souls with all kinds of emotional contortions,” David says.

And yet even as their world has been terribly shaken again, David and his wife are finding God’s supernatural strength is seeing them through.

“When we find ourselves in the deepest of despair, still underneath us are His everlasting arms,” David explains. “As believers we are not immune to the tragedies of life—even when everything around us seems to collapse, we never can be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the Father’s everlasting arms.”

The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

My friend, whatever loss you are grieving today–please remember you never can be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the Father’s everlasting arms.  Let Him safely hold you today.

Excerpted from When GOD & Grief Meet © 2009 by Lynn Eib.
[1] Names and a few details of David’s story have been changed to protect his family’s privacy. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Open in your browser to hear the music video “All Who are Thirsty” Copyright Vineyard Worship featuring Benton Brown.

Never Lose Hope


If you’re like me and enjoy hearing stories about people who weren’t “supposed to be here,” please meet my friend, Nancy, a long-time survivor of incurable liver cancer.

Nancy and Tom, her husband of 60 years.

In 2005 Nancy was told she had a “very aggressive” liver cancer and there was nothing anyone could do for her.

“If you have anything you want to do, you should do it,” the doctor said, adding that she probably would die within a month.

But about two weeks later, she got a call from another physician who said she had been misdiagnosed. Indeed it was a rare, untreatable liver cancer, but a slow-growing one.

With that good news, Nancy figured the hard part of her cancer journey was over, but she was wrong. One of her doctors suggested a new, oral chemotherapy to perhaps slow the cancer’s growth. Unfortunately, a drug side effect was severe depression.

“When I would wake up in the morning, I thought I couldn’t get out of bed,” Nancy recalls. “Any desire to do anything at all was gone. I would just sit and cry.”

Nancy, of course, stopped the drug, but the depression lasted for 18 months.

Image by imagii from Pixabay

“I felt terribly alone even in a roomful of people,” she recalls. “It was the most horrible feeling I ever had–it was worse than being told I had cancer or that I was going to die.”

Now 15 years later, Nancy’s oncologist says that her cancer, “one of the rarest of the rarest,” has “dried up” half her liver, but is not immediately life-threatening .

So why am I telling you this story in a blog about encouragement for the weary? Because Nancy got through her depression and I want you to know that you and your loved ones can survive whatever darkness might rear its ugly head in your lives.

“I learned that God is faithful,” she says. “I always believed that, but not to the extent I do now. Even though I couldn’t feel close to God then, I always sensed He was there,” she says. “When I prayed to die in my sleep, the Holy Spirit was there with me whispering ‘it’s going to be OK—it’s not over yet.’ God was always there.”

Psalm 30:2-3
 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O LORD.
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

“I lived on Psalm 30 for all those months,” Nancy recalls. “I have it memorized.”

Since the pandemic hit in 2020 along with some worries for family members, she acknowledges battling depression again and once more turning to pray Psalm 30.

“(The depression) is better than it was and I just know prayer is going to bring me out of it again,” says Nancy, who also sees her family physician, a psychiatrist and a counselor.

Image by ShonEjai from Pixabay

“When I was down, just a teeny bit of hope helped me,” Nancy remembers. “If I can give that to anyone, I’d be happy. I just want to give back–I think that’s why God left me here.”

Psalm 30:11-12
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever! 

Be sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North.

The Truth about Shadows


Sunset shadows as grandpa fishes with our granddaughters.

In grade-school science, you probably learned that a shadow is caused by the absence of light when an opaque (not see-through) object has absorbed the light. And that shadows fall opposite their light source.

That’s why your shadow is in front of you if the sun is behind you and vice versa. The way you’re facing determines whether or not you can see your shadow.

I know this is a simple scientific fact, but it is a profound spiritual truth for facing tough times: You have to keep facing the light in order not to so easily see life’s troubling shadows.

Are you old enough to remember in 1998 when the Galaxy IV communications satellite malfunctioned and rotated out of position, turning away from the earth? In an instant millions of pagers went silent, TV and radio stations couldn’t transmit, and even some gas pumps couldn’t accept credit cards. It all happened because just one satellite in the heavens turned the wrong way and couldn’t communicate with earth.

Perhaps your circumstances have gotten you out of position spiritually. You can’t figure out how a loving God would allow this situation in your life or your loved one’s. Maybe you even feel at times as if your prayers have not been heard. I hope you will check to see which way you are facing so you truly can communicate with the Lord–pouring out your heart to the One who hears, who understands, and who has the power to respond.

Once you’re facing the right direction, you also can choose to live under a different shadow. Now I know it sounds strange that you could find light by being under a shadow, but it’s true.

The shadow I want you to move under—or stay under if you’re already there—is a much, much bigger shadow than the pall cast by any of life’s struggles. It’s a safe, secure, protective shadow. There’s no other shadow that can eclipse this one. And underneath it, we’re not in the dark; we’re supernaturally in the light.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

The shadow of the Almighty.

I love that word picture. Can you see yourself with a dark cloud of pain–physical, emotional, mental or spiritual–over your head, moving under the huge shadow of God Himself? Standing underneath His shadow, you can barely even see the little shadow-speck of the difficulties you’re facing.

He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. Isaiah 49:2

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay

Have you ever put your arms around a child during a storm and drawn them close to you as protection from the rain and the noise? Have you ever seen a mother hen spread her wings and gather her little chicks to safety as danger approached? Those are images the Bible gives of God’s love and care for us.

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

May I pray for you today? Almighty God, please help my friend to live not under the shadow of a pandemic, or an illness or of any of  life’s tough circumstances, but instead under Your protective shadow. And there, let my friend feel your unfailing love and find rest. Amen.

Excerpted from Finding the Light in Cancer’s Shadow ©2006 by Lynn Eib. All rights reserved.

Make sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video, “Savior’s Shadow” by Blake Shelton.

Living with an “Empty Spot”: My Oncologist Has Cancer (Part 5)

Marc celebrating Hanukkah with granddaughters Estella, 7, and Lily, 10.

It’s been more than four months since I’ve interviewed Dr. Marc Hirsh about his journey with a rare cancer, so I called him a few days ago.

“Just got back from a half-hour run with (older daughter)Jessi’s two dogs,” Marc said on the phone as he fixed himself a glass of juice.

“You’re jogging?” I asked incredulously.

“Yeah, I don’t jog fast,” Marc replied. “I’ve also been skiing six times and am punching the heavy bag. I’m pretty much doing everything I used to–just at a lower level.”

Not bad for a 69-year-old man who doctors said last spring could expect to die soon after being diagnosed with atypical carcinoid of the thymus gland–a cancer so rare there are only about 160 documented cases.

“People thought I was going to die,” Marc recalled. “But I feel good and I don’t feel like I have any recurrence symptoms. I only have mild chest pain, which hasn’t changed for months.”

In March he heads back to Hershey Medical Center for blood work and a CT scan to assess how well he’s doing clinically after completing his self-determined treatment of radiation, oral chemo and a hormone shot in September.

“I’m pleasantly surprised how the last six months have gone since I finished treatment and have been enjoying life,” he said.

With both his daughters and three grandchildren spending extended time at his home during the pandemic, Marc’s recent days have been filled with his wife and him giving “a lot of piano lessons,” reading countless books, and celebrating the holidays.“I know (the odds are) I’m probably going to die in a couple years, but I’m still not convinced of that,” Marc added. “I’ve come to terms with that and I’m not obsessed with it.”

One of the scriptures that Marc, a Messianic Jew for 40 years, finds most helpful is Philippians 4:6,7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

“Be anxious for nothing is what I try to live by,” he added.

Photo by Benjamin Earwicker from FreeImages

Still Marc acknowledged there are struggles which have come with having to close his Hanover, Pa., practice immediately after the diagnosis.

“I miss not seeing all my patients and I miss going into the office and being an oncologist,” he told me. “It’s definitely an empty spot in me.

“When I think about all those patients, I miss them, and I wonder how they’re doing,” Marc added. “I do love them and miss them–it’s really an empty spot.”

He also said he misses our semi-annual Cancer Prayer Support Group dessert concerts, when 50-100 patients and their family members would show up for food, fellowship and fabulous music with Marc on keyboard, saxophone and sometimes harmonica.

“I miss the summer and the Christmas concerts,” he said. “Maybe sometime if I’m still feeling well and the pandemic is over, I can play some music again for everyone. But if not here, definitely in the afterlife!”

I was glad to hear him say that because I, for one, already have been praying to hear another earthly concert.

(P.S. If you want to be in touch with Marc, you can send mail to: 3601 Lakeview Rd., Spring Grove, PA 17362, or subscribe to his blog at https://marchirshmd.wordpress.com . For Parts 1-4 in this series, see posts on 9/30; 8/19; 8/12;  and 8/5.)

Be sure to open in your browser to enjoy the song below “Sometimes by Step,” by Rich Mullins, Marc and Elizabeth’s favorite Christian artist.

My New Year’s Prayer for You


When my granddaughter Abby was 3, she’s wasn’t the best sleeper.

She wasn’t the worst sleeper, but definitely not as good as her brothers, then ages 1 and 5. In  fact, she was quite the master of “stalling” at bedtime and “needing” things in the middle of the night. You may be  familiar with the universal  toddler “necessities” list: potty, drink, doll, stuffed animal, nightlight, book, blanket, socks etc.

But Abby upped this game to a new level, crying out in the wee hours of the morning, prompting Mommy to appear and ask the sensible question: “What do you need, Abby?” To which this adorable child would sweetly reply: “More Jesus.”

Check and checkmate–Abby wins hands down! I mean no matter what time it is and how tired you are, how does anyone say no to “more Jesus”?

In case you’re wondering what Abby specifically was requesting– it was for mommy to sing the bedtime ritual melody “Jesus Loves Me” one more time (with Abby often adding her tiny voice to the chorus).

Definitely a 3-year-old genius. I would want to give her “more Jesus” any time day or night.

So, Abby’s hard-to-deny request got me thinking: What do I want MORE of in 2021? (I can definitely think of some things I want LESS of–pounds, isolation, wrinkles, political unrest, just to name a few!) But what do I hope for MORE of?

Photo by Haut Risque on Unsplash

Certainly more good health for all of you fighting cancer and other serious or chronic illnesses. Definitely more comfort for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Clearly more love for families torn apart by the pain of addictions, divorce, and abuse. Undoubtedly more patience for all of us enduring this devastating pandemic. And absolutely more peace for this violent world.

But when it comes right down to it, I think I’ll simply pray that you and I have more Jesus this year. 

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 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. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. —Ephesians 3:16-19

And when you can’t fall asleep or when you wake up in the middle of the night, perhaps you will choose to echo my little granddaughter’s request: More Jesus.

Be sure to open in your browser to hear an old favorite of mine from Scott Wesley Brown “I Wish You Jesus.” Feel free to close your eyes and receive this as my New Year’s prayer for you.