Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sometimes rainy days are the best...

    It has been an overcast, rainy, yucky day.. almost as if nature couldn't make up it's mind if it wanted to be winter or fall... definitely not summer or spring.  I had e-mailed someone (whom I don't know) to see about starting Community Bible Study - another thing on my to-do list for when I retire.
    I know, I know!  I'm not retired yet.... But last week when it was sunny and I was just starting my spring break and "free time" seemed to roll out ahead of me in un-ending waves, it seemed like a brilliant idea to go ahead and enroll in CBS and sort of get back into the swing of things before Fall classes start. Like a no-brainer
    Sunday night, as I was setting my alarm for 5:45 a.m., enrolling in a Tuesday night study didn't seem quite so brilliant.  By Monday night I had decided I would probably just.. not go.  This morning when I woke up at 4:30 and could not go back to sleep, there was no question - I definitely would not be going.  Ditto at lunch time and again when  I was leaving school at 5:45 this evening - nope!  Just wasn't going to happen!
    As I drove home in a wet twilight where everything seemed slate grey, I suddenly thought, "You know, the first time I went to Bible Study Fellowship was in the month of March."  I was actually in my twenties then. And skinny, too:)   I stayed in it for 5 years and I have to admit, it laid a foundation that has stood me in good stead lo, these many years.
    And then when I went back into BSF after an absence of several years, I went back in March. What a coincidence! I had intended to start in January but got side-tracked by the need for  an emergency hysterectomy.
    And then I remembered that the first time I went to CBS,  it was in - you guessed it -  March... That was in 2001, when our Russian daughter indicated a desire to go into a systematic Bible study.  Tonight memories came flooding back of sitting with her in our first class together.  And that led naturally to thoughts of how much God has used her in the ensuing years.
   Which led me to the realization that the "ensuing years" add up to.. um.. ten ...
   Which made me realize that as the years have flown by, having them "stitched together" by periodic stints in BSF or CBS has been, for me, a very good thing.
   By the time I got home from school, I was ready to head out again... After all, it's the month of March which for me, apparently, is the optimum time to start another round of 9 month Bible studies. I had a great time at the study tonight and came home - in the rain - thinking sometimes grey, yucky, rainy days are the best....
   Especially in March :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

From my heart to yours...

      I am a creature of habit; a lover of comfort.  I don't like to travel even overnight because I prefer to be in my own bed in my own home.  The older I get, the more entrenched this mind-set has become.
      Another bad habit I've developed is surfing Face Book:)  I can waste hours and find myself looking at pictures - wedding photos, baby photos - pictures of people I don't even know, thinking things like, "That kid is awfully cute but do they really need to post 400 pics when the child is only a month old???"  As if these total strangers care about my opinions????
     But sometimes, even just mindlessly surfing on FB, I strike gold and it's happened twice this week.  On a page called Ron's Place, I came across a short video, fell in love with it and posted it.  I think there are too many "must see"s on the net but this short video is something I really believe every Christian should watch.  It's well-done, captivating, and in a few seconds, reverses arguments that you frequently hear against Christianity.  I can't imagine any Christ-follower watching it and feeling like they  wasted their time.  I'll probably re-post it again just because...
     Then yesterday I came across some comments about neat Christian books - which of course drew me like a magnet. One book mentioned several times was Which No Man Can Shut by Reema Goode.   I had actually seen an advertisement for this book some months back and meant to get it when it came out but then forgot about it.
    Last night I downloaded it on Kindle and again, was captivated by this little book.  Why?
    First off, the woman who wrote it has been a missionary to the Arab world for the past 10 years or so - it's where she and her husband are raising their family.   Arabia to me means sand, heat, camels, veiled women and a totally foreign culture.  As someone who doesn't even like to go away overnight to CAbot you can imagine how impressed I was with this woman's willingness to move to the Middle East!
   Yet, to her it really has become home. I'm telling you - you  can literally sense her joy at living in this country and also feel her deep love for the people.  She writes about how she and her female friends chatter about things such as recipes and finger nail polish and I'm thinking: wow!  That's just like here! Well... duhhhhh.
   But she's not there just to chatter about finger nail polish and that is the second reason I love the book. She gives account after account of people they met and ministered to, of open hearts and a willingness to receive the Gospel. This alone astonished me.  People open, even hungry, for the good news about Christ in the heart of Islam?  It didn't seem possible to me.  She attributes this to two things:  the coining of the phrase "10/40 window" and the First Gulf War, oddly enough.  In 1990, Christians began to hear a new phrase " pray for the 10/40 Window" and this includes much of the Muslim world.  At the same time, the U.S. went into the First Gulf War, again focusing the WEst on the Muslim world and again, awakening Christians to the need to pray for these lands and these people.  Simply put, she believes that the openness in the Muslim world today is a direct result of that prayer awakening 20 years ago. In answer to increased intercession, God is breaking up fallow ground in hearts and now missionaries are reaping the harvest. Okay.. .this tells me I need to keep praying and to specifically lift up people in the 10/40 window.
     The third reason I like this book, aside from the fact that it's easy to pick up and read in bits and pieces- the other reason is that she draws Christian applications from each encounter that she describes.
    All of the stories have fascinated me but one in particular stayed with me long after I turned out the light last night - so much so that first thing this morning, I re-read it.  The chapter is about dealing with fear and it contains the only negative event I've found in the book so far.
    Basically she was friends with a group of women in one family but, when God answered prayer in a dramatic way, one of the men in the family felt threatened by this. And so he instructed the women to invite her over so that he could have "a talk" with her. The women didn't want to do this but had no choice.  When she came to the house that night, Reema had no idea she had been set up, even when she realized that only the grandmother was there to greet her and that this older lady seemed uncharacteristically quiet.
   It wasn't until the grandmother's son burst into the "women's room" that she knew something was wrong and badly wrong.  The man was beyond angry and she immediately became terrified. She said that her body began to tremble uncontrollably and continued to do so for the next two hours while this enraged man proceeded to describe in graphic detail what would happen to her, her kids and her husband if she succeeded in leading anyone to follow her teachings.  She was so frightened that she had to constantly fight back bouts of nausea.
   When he first literally got inches away from her and started his measured, barely contained rant against her, she silently cried out to the Lord and asked HIm to get her safely away from there. In her heart, she felt God replied, "Who is the servant here - you or I?"  She acknowledged that she was. And then she felt He told her to stay where she was because he had some things that He wanted her to say to this man.  She was stunned, wondering if God meant somehow to save this livid fundamentalist.
   When she had the opportunity to speak, God put into her mind something to say that she would never in a million years have come up with on her own.  This happened two more times - all told she had three opportunities to speak during this 2 hour session of terror. And each time she said what was placed on her heart and it seemed to momentarily stop this man in his tracks.
   At the end of the two hours, she said that when she tried to stand up, her legs were like butter. And after she made it home, she cried all over her husband and then read the Bible for several hours before she could be calm enough to sleep.
  Weeks later, her tormentor asked for an Arabic copy of the Bible and has given ample  evidence since then that he is a secret believer. He is now a staunch friend of Reema's family and none of his threats were carried out.
  What did God put on her heart to say to this man?  I couldn't do it justice here.  Please read the book!  Open Doors Ministry is offering it this month - it's not long and it's well-worth the read!
   Also, I've linked Reema's blog to this page - another treasure I found through FB! So maybe mindless surfing on FB - which I definitely need to cut down on :( is not a total waste???
  At any rate, I hope you will enjoy some of this and be blessed!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Too much time...

    Too much time to watch the news, which is heartbreaking and scary.  Too much time to read about theological arguments which are disheartening and confusing.  Too much time to wonder about the economy which "they" say is better but which doesn't look so hot to me when I buy gas these days.  Too much time to wonder about growing older and the hazards that presents.
    And then I'm having to "test" the waters of our new insurance - 1,500.00 deductible... So we paid 100.00 for the doctor's visit and 100 dollars for medicine and I'm pretty sure I just had an ear infection and a sinus infection...  And so, naturally, I'm thinking.. "What if it had been heart trouble or cancer????"
    So yesterday as I was headed to the dr. with all these charming thoughts rattling around in my head, I grabbed a book  that has meant so much to me over the years. When I say I "grabbed" it, I mean I clutched the cover and hoped the book itself wouldn't fall out because the book  is no longer glued to the binding and hasn't been for years.
    Inside I can see where I once wrote in green ink, "Cathy Davis, Nov. 6, 1982, Ozark Conference."  Below my hand writing, there is a bold signature A. Wetherell Johnson.  I still remember the day she signed it.  She was suffering from bone cancer at the time and yet, was leading a weekend retreat on the book of I Peter - a book which has since become my favorite in the  New Testament .  She started off that Friday night by talking about Peter himself, giving a rundown of his biography from the Gospels and from Acts.  Peter was not a pillar of discernment and stability. He was intuitive, impulsive, and capable of going from great highs to great lows.
     Then she began to talk about the twin themes of I Peter: suffering and joy.  An unlikely combination but there nonetheless. And I have to say that even after all these years I can still see the joy on her face even though we all knew she was suffering.
    She conducted a Bible lesson Sat. morning and then in the afternoon, we lined up to have her autograph her book.  (She was horrified that the publisher wanted to list it for the exorbitant price of 12.95 and so she got them to offer it for 9.95 until Dec. of that year so that we could get a discount).  As I stood in line to get my book signed, I saw a worker at the conference begin to walk along our line and when she got to me, she said that Miss Johnson was tired and that they would have to cut the book signing short.  I was the last one that day to get a book signed and that has meant a lot to me over the years.
    When I got to her, as tired as she was, she looked me full in the face with a sweet expression and asked my name and a little bit about me.  If I had not known, I would never have guessed that she was struggling with cancer. Nor would I have ever guessed that she spent 3 years in a prison camp in China during WWII. Or that she had lived through the Chinese civil war and the rigors of the communist takeover. No doubt, she'd known her share of suffering but her face radiated peace and kindness... a mirror image of the Lord she knew so well???
    As  I look at the book, Created for Commitment, I see  something else written inside:  "Died, Dec. 22, 1984".  It is my understanding that on that day, she sat up in bed and announced that Jesus was there to take her home. Then she lay back down and within a short time, was gone to be with Him.  The thing about this is that she had cancer of the spine and had not been able to sit up at all for some time.  So I"m thinking maybe God started healing her cancer even before she graduated from here to the next world?
    At any rate, that little book means the world to me and whenever things get confusing or scary, I can pick it up and almost hear her say with quiet certainty that the Bible is true and the Lord's presence is enough. And there are just some days when I need to be reminded of that.  Yesterday was one.

I am grateful...

         I don't know why God invented sinuses... someday I hope He'll tell me.  Sinus medicine - antihistamines and antibiotics - tend to wire me up.   So I'm now on day 3 of sounding like Darth Vader when I breathe through my nose but no one - and I mean NO one - around here is going to comment on it because their life wouldn't be worth anything if they did... Let's just say that when I am low on sleep, I become a bit testy...
        This morning I woke up at 1 and then again at  4.  As my feet hit the floor at 5, I burst into tears.  That's normal for me when I'm this ragged out.  I had a thousand things on my mind as I quietly dressed so as not to disturb Phil, who is also sick now and having to work as well today.   (At least I could call in sick).
       But sick or not, school is still there and one thing that propelled me out of bed this morning was a recurring mental litany of   Loose Ends that I felt needed to be tied up: confirmation grade sheets due in the office today, back-up plans for my sub in case something went  wrong (as it did yesterday), papers from the previous two days that needed to be picked up and graded, etc.
       Tension rode on my shoulders throughout my pre-dawn drive to school (5:30 - 6:00) but I didn't notice this familiar travel Buddy until an hour later when I was leaving, headed for home.  To paraphrase a famous quote, Nothing becomes Tension so much as the leaving of it. As it gradually seeped into my heart that at least one "to-do" list was done...I literally felt tension draining from me.  Ahead of me were the rose-colored  rays of a new day and for the first time since I had awakened, I was glad of it.
       As I was driving, these words came out of nowhere:  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you.   I think it is from John 14 but it could be several verses cobbled together for all I know.
      The next thought that came to mind was:  "I'm dispensable."  That may not sound comforting but it was.  Basically, I knew God was telling me that A) He has peace to give me if I'll accept it.  And B) If I were to suddenly  disappear, somehow, the world would keep spinning and the to-do lists would still get done. Part of my problem this morning was believing the lie that I am indispensable.  It's just not true. No one is.
      The next thing that happened was I started to give thanks - me, the dragon diva of the past few days - began to drop the what-ifs and move on to the I'm grateful fors:
      *I am grateful that I have antibiotics.
      *I am grateful that at some point, I will sleep soundly and when I do, it will feel wonderful.
      *I am grateful, as my friend Yetty used to say, that it was not my portion to wake up in the hospital this morning,  and that I have gas for my car as well as  food for my table.
      *I am grateful that I have a roof over my head.  Thousands in Japan right now don't.
      *I am grateful that although our son was suddenly hemmed in by three crazy drivers yesterday on the freeway, he was able to avoid having a wreck. I always pray for his safety when he's on the road but do I stop to thank God every time he comes home safe?
      *I am grateful that I have a husband who doesn't get upset when I'm snippy and out-of-sorts (translate: hateful).
      *I am grateful for the lovingkindness of the Lord, which, like the morning sunshine, is ready to greet me anew every day, no matter where I am physically and/or mentally. (Lamentations 3:23.. I think)
      *And yes, I am even (somewhat) grateful for sinuses.. which have a way of bringing emotional scum to the top (selfishness, laziness, whine-e-ness...) where the Lord can skim it away:)   (If you don't know it's there, you don't know it needs to go..n'est pas?)
      Soooo ... this morning...
      I am grateful!
      But I still may ask God someday (nicely) why He invented sinuses:)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One out of a thousand...

     Last night I started running a fever... which you can't just "run a fever" when you work ... especially if you are a teacher.  The first thing that goes through your mind when you realize you are sick is:  I have to set up my room for a sub and what am I going to have the kids do????   Unless, of course,  you are in a coma, in which case you don't care.  (The most laid-back I have ever been about sub plans was when I was coming out of recovery from emergency surgery and I got a call from a young sub wanting to know where my grade book was... Didn't bother me a bit... Had no clue where the book was, was feeling no pain at that time and never really knew how all that worked out:)
     At any rate, as soon as I said, "I'll have to go in tomorrow morning to set up...", my husband said, "Let's do it now.  If you feel up to it, I'll drive you down there and then afterwards, we can come home and watch a movie."
    We did exactly that -  except that we took so long at school that there was no movie afterwards - something we can remedy tonight, hopefully. At any rate, we  made the thirty minute trip, I typed up lesson plans, made sure all my ducks were in a row, etc.  And then, since my husband is fascinated with construction work I took him down a makeshift hall to the "new building" which has only been in use since Dec.  It's really beautiful and he was impressed, took in so many more details than I've ever noticed!
     And then I heard a police siren and  suddenly remembered how a former principal used to get burned to a crisp when one of us would leave the light on in our classroom because the police would spot it and call in an alert.  At that time, an alert meant that the Principal would have to haul out of bed at whatever hour and come to the school to check it out.  And boy, did we hear about it the next day!!!  To this day, before I leave my room, I turn off my computer, turn off the heater, and douse the lights....   And sometimes glance back at my windows just to make sure  I turned off the lights!!
    So while my husband was shining his flashlight along the walls and ceiling of the new building, I was having visions of the police - sans Principal - running down the hallway with weapons drawn, yelling "Freeze!"  Plus, my sinuses were really gimping up on me and my Tylenol was wearing off.
    My husband had no clue that all this was going through my mind as  he leisurely walked  down the unfinished hall connecting  my building to the new, saying things like, "Wow, that looks like it's going to be a walkway above the ceiling when everything is finished!  And look at the size of that room!  It's huge!  This is going to be great!"
    Meanwhile I was doing my "I'm-late-for-duty half-walk/half-sprint" in front of him and so finished a quarter-hall ahead of him, arriving back at my room to... A) turn off my computer   B). Turn off the heater  and C) Douse the lights.
   Once we were in the car, he offered to take me to Sonic for a Cranberry Slush and on the way, he said, "When I saw you walking down your hallway ahead of me, I almost started crying."
     First, he seldom ever cries.
     Second, I had no clue why he would cry...
     So I asked him Why?
     His reply, "Because it just hit me how many times you must have  walked down that hall over the years..."
     While I was seeing the hall simply as a means of getting from point A to point B, he was seeing the years of my life invested in that place.
     And that is just one out of a thousand  reasons why I love my husband.
     I am blessed...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Trying "Ten on the Tenth...."

The Sullivan Four blog has meant a lot to me this week.  I've watched the You Tube video of the baby being convulsed with laughter while someone rips paper into tiny shreds and as I've watched, I've  found tension draining from me with each belly laugh that came from this tiny child..... When weeks like this come along (EOC testing, Nine weeks testing, morning duty on the South 40 come rain or shine, and long work days from trying to blend two work schedules so we can commute together and save on gas....well,  it's great to be able to laugh with a child over... nothing:)
And the accompanying blog helped me think about what really matters...

And the blog  today was nothing short of a blessing.  Ten things to be thankful for regarding cancer.  I didn't think there were ten things that you could be grateful for regarding cancer... but obviously there is.

So it's the tenth and I'm thinking surely I can come up with ten things to be thankful for.  Since I'm sort of reviewing the past :)  as I prepare to transition to a new lifestyle, I would like to list ten things I'm thankful for in regard to my years in teaching.

1.  I'm thankful for all the wonderful people I have met through my profession, especially my colleagues.  I've seen so many dedicated, hard-working people who really care about  kids - people who go the second mile by buying food for kids who truly come to school hungry,  even taking kids to pick out clothes for the prom because no one else was able to do it - just going above and beyond in ways that never make the news but certainly impact tons of young lives over the years.  I'm very proud to have spent my adult life in the company of such people

2.  I'm thankful for the zany sense of humor that seems to be essential in education if you are going to last.  I can't think of any examples right off hand but I think other teachers will know exactly what I mean.  It's when something happens at school and (like the little kid watching paper being ripped apart) you are convulsed with laughter but when you come home and tell your spouse and non-teaching friends about it, they just don't... get it...

3.  I'm thankful for the way our faculty pulls together when someone is hurting.  I have so many memories of a staff member facing tough times:  maybe someone needing a very dangerous type of heart surgery or someone  facing a cancer diagnosis for themselves or a loved one, or someone having a son or daughter who was seriously ill.  And in each instance, I can recall things our staff did as a group or individually to reach out and help and in that sense, I really feel we are like family. I don't know if it's true of all schools but I know it's true of ours.

4.  I'm thankful for being around young people all these years.  If I seem somewhat like a stick-in-the-mud now, just think what I would have been like if I'd never been thrown into the warp and woof of the lives of teen-agers. I think maybe this has helped slow down the process of geriatric-fying (?). I know it's given me a different perspective at times because young people see life through a different lens than adults.  Idealism, enthusiasm, spontaneity...definitely things to be thankful for.

5.  I'm thankful, honestly, when I think  that I started with chalk and mimeograph machines and am now ending with computers, smart boards and copy machines.  AMazing.  I sort of  feel like my great-uncle who used to tell me about riding to town (Cabot) in a  wagon and then talk about how fascinating it was to see a man walk on the moon. I feel like I started out with a horse-and-buggy and have sort of set foot on the moon educationally-wise.

6.  I'm thankful for block scheduling and for the type of block scheduling that our school adopted.  Not everyone would agree with me but I vividly remember teaching 6 periods a day from August to May with the same classes all year long.  To interact with 60 kids a term instead of 120 - to me it's a no-brainer.

7.  Oddly enough, I'm thankful for snow days even though right now I personally am sick of the cold.  Still, I have to admit that whenever the weather man would say the "s" word,  I'd be a kid again, eagerly anticipating an unexpected holiday. Sometimes I'd have to curb my enthusiasm in front of my more mature colleagues but I could never eradicate it.

8.  I'm thankful for the memories.  Of my first principal accidently backing into the fire alarm button and not realizing for a few minutes that the whole school had turned out onto the front lawn because everyone thought we were having a fire drill...  Of the time when I had the kids put their projects in garbage bags, neatly labeled, only to find the next morning that they were all gone.. the new custodian had seen garbage sacks and well.... everyone got an A on that project....     Or of the time when we came to school on a Monday and there was an entry in the announcements saying that if anyone had seen the biology lab snake, would they please call someone to come and get it... (I didn't open my closet for a week.. the snake was never found as far as I know.)

9.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to be creative and to teach a subject that I really love.  To be able to combine history, world cultures, and current events has been fascinating for me if not for my students.  I think I am so much richer because I've made my living by learning as well as teaching  - right now I can't think of anything better.

10. I'm thankful that someone cared enough to teach me when I was young, idealistic and at times impudent.  I still remember Mrs. Cross - my first grade teacher. I used to wonder why anyone would name her that when she was anything but cross..Or my third grade teacher who called  my mom to tell her that I had a talent for writing...And  on it goes - on through junior high, high school, and college.  Mrs. McKinney, Mr. Russell, Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Mcallister, Mr. Aist, Mrs. Berry, Mr. Paulus, Dr. Nolte, Mr. Hudson, Mrs. Farmer...

Tall shoulders to stand on.. a lot to be thankful for....

Friday, March 4, 2011

The difference between walking.. and not...

As everyone knows who knows me... I love to read. Duhhhh.  But I can't stand blood.  When I shattered my wrist, I was okay until I looked at it :(      Then I was seriously not okay...    Just never been able to do blood -  not mine.. not yours... not my child's...not even the fake stuff on t.v.

So why am I reading a book about brain surgery?  I'm not sure.  I do know that when the author, Dr. David Levy,  starts describing his procedures, if it gets too graphic I just have to bail and skip to the next chapter. If it's not too gory and I can hang in there, I suddenly find myself rubbing my neck or my head in sympathy with the patient in the same way I find myself scratching my head when someone says "head lice".

So why am I reading this book????   Maybe it's because I just keep seeking, trying to learn from someone else, trying to get some tips from  fellow travelers who have it way more together than I do.

So why am I writing a blog in the wee hours of the morning?   Because I can.. since I've already taken a personal day off  tomorrow from work?   Yes and no....

I'm writing for myself - because I'm afraid if I wait until morning, I'll forget some of what I've learned and I really, really don't want to do that.

Okay, then... what have I learned?  Well for one thing -that surgeons are typically full of themselves and proud of their objective, scientific reasoning abilities... until God gets a hold of them...

REally, the first part of the book is a pre and then post look at a man who lived  the word "hubris" until he met his Messiah.  When he encountered  Christ things changed for him.  (When E. Stanley Jones preached about Christ, someone told him If what you say isn't true, it doesn't matter. But if it is true, nothing else matters.  I think Dr. Levy would agree.)

 How did he change?  At first, he didn't change outwardly.  He was a pretty calm guy under pressure, very capable as he had always been.    But privately, he was seeing that God does some amazing things in response to prayer.  Finally, he reached the place where he just couldn't withhold these benefits from his patients without feeling guilty.

So he found himself praying  with his patients in pre-op.  As far as he knew, no other surgeon had ever done this; at least, if they had, he'd never heard about it.  And he knew it would invite ridicule and scorn from his colleagues if it ever got out. So for a long time, he was careful to do it when no other medical people were around.  But it wasn't feasible to keep on this way and soon he felt that God was telling him just to pray regardless of who  was watching.  Did he experience the things he feared - loss of respect from his colleagues, rejection?  To some extent, yes. But not nearly to the degree that he expected.

Bottom line: the negative reactions were far outweighed by the positive benefits that he saw, both in his patients and in the procedures themselves.  He realized that when he publicly  acknowledged that God - not Dr. David Levy  - held the ultimate issues of life and death - God was honored and pleased  to "step in and help."

Okay. I'm with him so far. It's all good.

But the next step that he took really blew me away. He also saw how damaging bitterness, stress, and unforgiveness was to the health of his patients. Literally.  So he began to search for a non-threatening way to broach the subject of forgiveness, feeling that bitterness was every bit as hard on the body as chain smoking.   He reasoned  that he wouldn't be much of a  doctor  if he didn't advise patients to quit smoking so... what kind of a doctor would he be if he didn't gently suggest that they get rid of toxic emotions?

He started  gingerly approaching the issue of resentment and saw some dramatic results in those who took him seriously:   chronic headaches went away, arthritis improved, etc.  Don't get me wrong - he didn't see aneurysms disappear but even when he had to do procedures, the patients who had released all bitterness came through the process so much better than those who didn't.

Until he had one case that, even though he did his best and everything went right and they prayed before surgery yada yada, the outcome was still a disaster for the patient.  It was probably the toughest surgery he'd ever done - very high risk. But everything truly went well -monitors showed it all went exactly according to plan.  The patient could move his hands and feet in recovery which was a huge sign of success and such a relief to Dr. Levy that he actually  had tears of gratitude running down his face.  And then the patient began to lose control of his muscles and within 24 hours he was a quadriplegic. Dr. Levy was devastated while the patient was having trouble coming to grips with reality, wanting to know when he would be able to move again, etc.

Eventually  the patient became very angry with Dr. Levy, blaming him for all of it,  and the Dr.himself  became angry with  God. Pre-op, they were both okay spiritually and post-op they just ... weren't.

Dr. Levy tells about his own spiritual recovery and how he was able to resume praying in faith for his patients.  But what gripped me most was the account of the patient.  The man was extremely bitter and very hostile and within a year,  his muscles atrophied to almost nothing.  He only had very slight control of his right hand - enough to move a joy stick on his electric wheel chair - and that was all. And he had no hope whatsoever.

Although Dr. Levy had not caused the man's paralysis, after three years, he felt God was pushing him to make a social call on the patient - something he'd never done before. He asked permission and the man said he could come.  When he arrived at the patient's house, the Dr.  wasn't sure what to do or say - just felt he should check up on the guy and let him know he cared.  The man was pretty much just a shell of himself and still full of  smoldering resentment.  Dr. Levy said what he'd said several times before:  that he was sorry the procedure had not worked and that this was the very last thing that he had ever wanted to have happen.

But then he sensed God telling him to go further - that in order for  the man to heal emotionally, Dr. Levy would have to ask forgiveness for putting the man in the wheel chair - something he really didn't do.  This was really hard - so tough  - for this gifted surgeon to do -  but he did it.  And then he asked if he could pray with the man. They walked through  a prayer of confession, repentance and forgiveness - first on Dr. Levy's part and then on the patient's part. BEcause when Dr. Levy asked for forgiveness, it released something pent up  in the man's heart.

When they finally finished praying together, the man smiled - a bigger smile than the doctor had ever seen on the guy's face - even back before the surgery.  And then the man did something odd - he looked surprised and  said that he felt slight electricity going down his right side.  Within a few weeks the man was doing a different type of therapy and was able to use his arms to push/pull himself along  between parallel bars with a professional helping him.

The guy had  been slumped over in a wheel chair for three years in spite of therapy, barely able to use a toggle switch with one hand and then after verbal confession and forgiveness he was able to pull himself along on parallel bars and regain the use of his arm muscles?

I don't know about you but I  think that's noteworthy.

An amazing prescription  (I John 1:9,  Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:14-15,  James 5:16) for people who didn't even know they were ill because they really felt that their anger was justified and "normal".  Last word... if you think, like I did... Oh, I know all about that stuff.. everyone knows your emotions can affect you physically.. but that doesn't apply to me b/c I don't have any problems with forgiving... then you might want a free consultation with the Great Physician, like  I found I needed in the small hours of the morning.  And Dr. Levy is really good at helping in that way - I recommend him; he's a great facilitator at leading a person with hidden anger and unforgiveness into the throne room of the One who holds all issues of healing in His hands.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bungee Jumping with Beth...

Faith doesn't come easily for me; I was raised to be cautious.  Being cautious is good.  To this day, I check to make sure my hamburger meat isn't raw before I eat it and I watch both ways before crossing a street...  So far I've only had food poisoning once and I've never been hit by a car...


Back in October, I went to my Wed. night Beth Moore study, tired as usual from a long day at work.  I was running late - as usual. On the way to church, I saw a spectacular sunset - breathtaking.  For one thing, at that time we had gone for almost two months without rain so even seeing a cloud formation was impressive.  But this one had a figure 8 opening with a wide silver edge to it.  Streaming out of the figure 8 hole in the dark clouds  was a soft diffusion of rose-and-gold-tinted light that was perfect - no artist could ever capture it on canvas.  I kept my eye on it for as long as I could but it wasn't long enough. All too soon, it was gone.

Then, being late, it was  time to  do my  geriatric sprint across the church parking lot, huff and  puff my way upstairs to the study room, hurriedly find an empty seat, sit down with profuse apologies for bothering everyone around me -which probably only bothered them more - and quickly find the text.  Revelation... not my favorite.

I looked up to see Beth Moore  bouncing all over the video screen, totally pumped about the various  things she was teaching   while I was still trying to find my way out  of the maps...  Finally got the  right  place - chapter  4 - and tried to focus (Focus, Hammie, focus!!).  "After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven!"

I tried to listen - honestly!  But my neurons just weren't all firing in one direction or something.   So instead of getting all the salient points of the lesson, my internal synapses or whatever they are started playing some sort of mental ping-pong while I just sat there  - thankful that no one else in the room could read my thoughts ..which, unfortunately, went something like this...

I've never understood Revelation on a good day...and this definitely does NOT qualify as a good day...
Sorry, Lord, I know my attitude is not right....
Oh my gosh!  This passage is so whacked out...
Sorry, Lord, I know it's me... I know...
Wow.  This is almost like... science fiction...or something... 
Sorry, Lord, I know, I know, I know.. this is not fiction.. it's just so... weird....

This internal dialogue went on for about 30 minutes, until finally I just gave  it up, put my brain in park - its default position - and let my eyes roam around the room. The video room  has two narrow rectangular windows on each side of it and through one I happened to see just a bit of a cloud. Really kind of a sorry cloud..   Except that  it was enough to remind me of another cloud, a dark one with this heavenly rose-colored light streaming through this sort of portal-like opening...

I looked down at the text:  ...a door standing open into Heaven...

Although I knew I had not personally seen into Heaven, suddenly John's words didn't seem  nearly so hard to take. I looked at Beth. I looked at my Bible. Thought about the cloud/light display earlier... Tiredness and skepticism  vanished as my scattered wits somehow managed to -sort of - not exactly bungee jump along with Beth but still kind of stay on the same page with her.   Neat, what a cloud can do...

The next two school days were long, tough, tiring. So on Friday, I went to the book store hoping against hope that a new mystery I had been waiting for  was already on the book shelves. It wasn't!  Bummer! I really wanted something exciting that would hold my attention - cheap vacation in a paperback - something like that...

I continued to browse half-heartedly until my attention was caught by a yellow book with a young kid on it. Yellow is my favorite color and the book was prominently displayed.  I read  the title, "Heaven is for Real", saw that it was about a near-death experience that a young child had and that was all it took:  innate caution raised it's head.... Flashback to my childhood messages:  You don't know that what that kid told you is the truth!!  He could have made that story  up out of whole cloth!!   Only this time I was hearing, "You don't know who this author is!  He could be making this story up out of whole cloth!!!"   (And what is "whole cloth" anyway????)    At any rate,   I kept browsing.

But I also kept  coming back to the yellow book with the cute kid on the front.  I noticed that it was highly recommended by an author I trust - an author I had actually met in fact.  And as I opened the book, it seemed pretty readable.

And it was on sale.

And I hadn't found anything else...

Sooooo I  bought it, whining to myself even as I was leaving the store, "But I wanted something really riveting to read!!!"

Well.. I got it.  I started reading about 8 .. .finished the book at midnight...  In between times, I would talk to my husband - until he fell asleep - and then to my son... Listen to what I just read... Do you think this guy is on the up-and-up...?? This is amazing... Do you think the dad could be making this up?  I mean, would a father - a pastor - involve his young son in a fraudulent description of Heaven like this..?  He sounds like he's really crazy about his kids...  like he's a good dad so I don't think a loving father would make up a 150 page whopper and put his son on the front cover .. I don't know... what do you think?  . And listen to this... I mean, this is so cool!  And it all fits with Scripture...

And then, halfway through the book, there it was - a quote from the apostle John: Rev. 4 to be exact... "After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven!"

Okay, Lord... I get it!

Caution is good - I recommend it, especially when someone gives you an undercooked hamburger patty...  But analysis can only go so far. Some things have to be taken on faith and John's door into Heaven is one of those things.

As for the book, Heaven is for Real,  all I can say is: read it and form your own opinion.