Tag Archive | God, Creator, Heavenly Father, Christ, Jesus, Savior

Held

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Photo: Virginia Becker

Today I held a little bird in my hands. He had slammed into our front window and lay on the icy porch. He wasn’t moving and I was afraid he was dead. But I couldn’t leave him there, alone in the cold.

As I held him in my cupped hands, one of his little feet wrapped itself around my finger, just like an infant. Although nothing else moved and his eyes were still closed, it gave me hope.

So I sat there in the cold without a coat, as the voice of reason chided me for being silly.

Hah! You certainly haven’t changed. You are still the same kid who brought home strays and bandaged broken limbs. Don’t get your hopes up about this one…. Birds die every day….That’s just life.

I had to smile as I remembered the wild squirrel I had befriended as a child, the stray cats I fed, the many lost dogs who found and followed me home….and I remembered the bird I had rescued from the middle of a busy road a few years before. People honked in protest when I stopped traffic to pick up the large robin about to become road-kill, its right wing hanging useless. But that robin not only lived, he recovered and flew away healthy and whole three days later.

Surely this little bird could be saved.

When he opened his eyes and looked at me, he seemed more sleepy than fearful. I held my hands loosely around him– enough to warm but not confine him should he choose to fly away.

Then I breathed on him, hoping the heat would help him rally, and as his eyes struggled to stay open, I told him the story of the robin. And as I talked, I watched in awe as he began to warm and move in my hand.

By the time I was done with my story, he gathered his strength and flew away. Perhaps my incessant chatting was enough for him to risk death rather than hear even one more word of my encouragement.

In reality, I think there is a little more to this tale. Because I believe this is what God does for us.

I haven’t slammed into any big windows lately, but in the past, when I have been stunned by tragedy or left cold by betrayal, God has held me tenderly in His hands, gently warming my heart and breathing His spirit into me until I am strong enough to live again.

God will hold us when we are broken, telling and retelling us our story and reminding us of the promise we hold, over and over, until we believe Him.  He will keep us close, safe and warm in His embrace until the sting fades; until  we remember why we are here and are ready to fly once again.

 

And Jesus said “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 – (NLT)

 

I was inspired to write this poem today about my little brave sparrow:

 

THE SPARROW

Today a sparrow hit the window, falling cold upon the earth.
As light faded, the small life lay dying;
The Master saw the creature still, and mourned.

 And Strength leaned down to lift the weak in tender embrace;
A silent prayer, a hope of warmth to save the fledgling from the cold.
Held, the tiny wings caressed and softened,  first yielding, then cradled perfect.
As the Master whispered softly of the promise of one who rose to fly again.

Divine breath blew white upon him, and the sparrow’s eyes were opened.
And grasping his Maker’s fingers tightly, the warmth of flesh and heat of breath gathered strength and  gave life.

Then the Master spoke to him:

“Little one I would love for you to stay with me, sheltered warm inside my hands… But that’s not who you are…. is it?”

Suddenly, a plane flew high overhead ,and looking up, the tiny sparrow took flight.
There was no hesitation and no looking back, for in that moment he remembered Who had created him and why.

And in honor of his Heavenly Father and considering his purpose, he soared.
For the sparrow was reborn.

You are a miracle

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Yesterday someone called me a miracle.

She said “I think it’s a miracle that you are even here today. When you look at all of those around you who have fallen, the fact that you are still standing is a miracle.”

I don’t believe that my life is the only miracle out there. So today, in case you have forgotten who and what you are, I want to be the one to remind you.

I want to share with you this “Memo From God”

The full memo, written by Og Mandino is about 18 pages long so I have condensed just the first part of 4…. it comes from his book titled “The Greatest Miracle in the World.”

If you want to read the full version, you can find it @ http://www.wowzone.com/godmemo.htm

*******

Memorandum from God

To:  You 

From:  God 

Take counsel. I hear your cry.

It passes through the darkness, filters through the clouds, mingles with starlight, and finds its way to my heart on the path of a sunbeam.

I have anguished over the cry of a sparrow tumbled from the nest of its mother, a child thrashing helplessly in a pond, and a son shedding his blood on a cross.

Know that I hear you also. Be at peace. Be calm.

I bring relief for your sorrow for I know its cause … and its cure.

You weep for all your childhood dreams that have vanished with the years.

You weep for all your self-esteem that has been corrupted by failure.

You weep for all your potential that has been bartered for security.

You weep for all your talent that has been wasted through misuse.

You have forgotten.

You have no memory of that moment when first you emerged from your mother’s womb and I placed my hand on your soft brow. And the secret I whispered in your small ear when I bestowed my blessings upon you.

The passing years have destroyed your recollection, for they have filled your mind with fear and doubt and anxiety and remorse and hate and there is no room for joyful memories where these beasts reside.

Weep no more. I am with you … and this moment is the dividing line of your life. All that has gone before is like unto no more than that time you slept within your mother’s womb. What is past is dead. Let the dead bury the dead.

This day you return from the living dead.

This day, like Elijah with the widow’s son, I stretch myself upon you three times and you live again.

This day, like Elisha did, I put my mouth upon your mouth and my eyes upon your eyes and my hands upon your hands and your flesh is warm again.

This day, like Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus, I command you to come forth and you will walk from your cave of doom to begin a new life.

This is your birthday. This is your new date of birth. Your first life, like unto a play of the theatre, was only a rehearsal. This time the curtain is up. This time the world watches and waits to applaud. This time you will not fail.

Light your candles. Share your cake. Pour the wine. You have been reborn.

Like a butterfly from its chrysalis you will fly … fly as high as you wish, and neither the wasps nor dragonflies of mankind shall obstruct your mission or your search for the true riches of life.

Let me share with you, again, the secret you heard at your birth and forgot.

You are my greatest miracle.

A Beautiful Mess

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A wise woman once told me that when you get to the place where you can see the humor and even laugh about what has happened to you, only then are you ready to share your story with others.

Writing is both a passion and calling, an unrelenting and (possibly unforgiving) gift of transforming words into pictures. When you are one who writes, a “writer”, you can’t not write. There is always a notebook and pen on your bedside table, readily available for the words that won’t let you sleep.

Today as I was painting a collage I made a huge mess. But in its own way it was beautiful. Splashes of color, wrinkles in the paper, words of wisdom that I had saved and didn’t know where to put. And I am learning that if the end result of my creating is something beautiful, then the mess was worth it – so too my life.

Let me repeat that:

If the end result is something beautiful, then the mess was worth it.

There is a story that God has for each and every one us, uniquely ours and perfectly timed. The tale our Creator gives us requires some time to simmer, time to answer the difficult questions, including the most difficult one – Why?

Our lives may take several drafts, messy mistakes and a variety of experiences to get it just right. To look back and see that it is good. Once we have lived that story, only then can it be told and it is in the telling that it will touch and heal the hearts of others.

Don’t be afraid to share your story.

Beautiful Heart

IMG_3748One day it became too much and I had to look away. I could barely lift my head. I called the hospital and let them know I would not be able to work that day because I had a migraine. But it wasn’t a migraine. I was simply overcome by the death and disease, much of it preventable, and I could not bear the thought of holding one more dying child, one more grieving mother. I spent most of that day crying softly,  lying in bed and staring at the wall. I would have asked God how He could let this happen to His children, but I was too angry to talk to him. I couldn’t bear to see one more emaciated child, distended belly, or swollen head, or hear their weak, pitiful cries like kittens haunting me in sleep. The palpable despair and heaviness in my chest made it hard to breathe. I was tired of getting up every day and trying to make a difference.

That afternoon, two of the nurses, Grace and Florence, knocked on my door. They were concerned I might be showing the early signs of Malaria. “How do you do this every day?” I asked them, “I look at these suffering children and my heart is breaking…the needs are just too great. How can anything I’m doing make a difference?” I will never forget the look on Sister Florence’s face as she wagged her finger at me and said –  “You are here not by accident! It is God’s hand that brought you – not to change anything here, but to change you!”

The next day I woke up and went back to work. The heavy weariness had not lifted completely, but my outlook had changed.

I was given a copy of this story :

The Most Beautiful Heart

One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley.

A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. They all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.

Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said, “Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” 

The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars; it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges.

In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.

The people stared ­ “How can he say his heart is more beautiful?” they thought.

The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed.

“You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine? Mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love. I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them,

and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart.

But because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared.

“Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges – giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting.

So, now do you see what true beauty is?” He asked.

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks.
He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect, young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.

The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever,

since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his.

 

 

Healing in Uganda Part 2

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Today I’m on the ward with the children who have been discharged from the ICU. During rounds I watch Dr. John, one of the neurosurgeons, discuss each child with the medical officers. He greets each mother and says “Are you happy today mama?”  He explains in very simple terms what is happening and what they can expect. He tells one mother she can take her baby home now, but she will need to come back in a week for further treatment. The mother cries and tells him she cannot afford the 8,000 Shillings (about $5) to ride the bus to go home and then back. Sometimes this happens and CURE will let them stay over. Sometimes the women have no home to return to.

A baby was brought in last night with sepsis. His mother was putting cow dung on his umbilical cord because she thought it would dry and fall off more quickly. The antibiotics that were started here could do nothing for the massive infection and the baby died. Four more die by the end of my first week.

On Thursday I observed a craniotomy on a 2 month old. I asked the surgeon if the baby was dropped? How did he get this head injury? In the US we would probably assume child abuse for this sort of head injury. He told me the child’s house fell on him. Many of these people live in mud and straw huts, and when the rains come the roof caves in  and the houses fall apart. So sad.

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The OR had a full schedule of surgeries yesterday so the PICU is full.  Today there is no water. I am told the tanks have run dry. The surgeries scheduled for today will have to be pushed back until tomorrow. The mothers have traveled so far to be here and then they must wait. We are never sure if the water or power will be off, or what child will develop a fever and be too sick for surgery.

I meet a woman from Sudan. Her daughter is 17 and has a brain tumor. Once a healthy teenager, she is now deaf and blind. Her words are unintelligible. The family did not know to take her to a doctor when she lost focus in one eye, but when she went blind and her behavior changed, they had to. Even then they could not come right away because they did not have the money to travel. Today the surgeons will try to remove the tumor, but are not sure if it will restore her sight.

Another young mother tells me her back is hurting. I know it must be painful because she never talks about herself, only her daughter “Mercy.” I can’t help but wonder if her back hurts from her cramped bed, from lifting her 4 year old daughter heavy with hydrocephalus or because she is so worried about Mercy’s surgery tomorrow. The mothers come with their babies and rarely does anyone accompany them. Such a heavy emotional load for a young mother to bear alone.

In the next bed is a 1 month old baby who looks chubby and has a healthy cry. He has myelomeningocele, a condition where the neural tube in the spine fails to close. He is having surgery tomorrow also. I see his Mom struggle to keep him dry, but there are no diapers, cloth or disposable. The mothers use thin rags from torn up sheets that they wash when they are soiled and then use again. Not the best for preventing infection when your spine has a hole in it. Children with this condition are incontinent of urine and stool and have a constant stream of both. The mothers simply keep wiping it away. It’s almost impossible to keep their incision clean.

I spend the afternoon cutting my brand new, lightweight flannel robe from Land’s End into large squares. The material is absolutely perfect for soft diapers – even if it is magenta. I can’t help but giggle as I think how silly it was to bring a flannel robe to such a hot and humid country. Now it makes perfect sense.

Healing in Uganda

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It is 5am and I know this because I hear the Adhan, the morning call to prayer coming from the mosque a block away. Here in Mbale, it doesn’t matter that my phone has died and I have no alarm clock. The Adhan or local rooster will wake me every morning. I am in Uganda, at CURE Children’s hospital in Uganda. Today I will meet the two neurosurgeons who perform life-changing surgery every day. The doctors round at 7:30am, then meet in the chapel at 8:00 for morning prayers. There are bibles on every other chair, tattered and worn, some missing covers. They have been well loved.

I meet the nurses and other staff. They are so kind and humble. One says, ”She is here to teach us how to do better.” The truth is, I have much to learn from them. I meet Miriam, the hospital’s Spiritual Director. I ask her what she does on an average day. She tells me, “I sit with every mother and child and just listen. The mama she has so much sorrow to share. I pray with them, with every one of them“. Miriam expresses her dismay when I tell her we have hospital chaplains, but they only come at the patient or family’s request. “Who attends to the spiritual healing?” She asks, “How can the patient heal if the spiritual is not addressed?” I agree with her and I ask her what is most needed, what is the most important thing for me to do while I’m here?  “Hold their babies, love them” she says, “No one in their village will touch them because they think they are bewitched. They need your heart and your hands much more than your head. Your presence is enough.”

The neurosurgeons are John and Peter. They have me stand behind them as they operate, explaining each anatomical structure and procedure. They do the most intricate part of the surgery in the dark. There is a light over the incision point, but they are looking straight ahead at a monitor, their hands like a typist whose fingers tap the keyboard while her eyes stare at the page. I believe they could do this in their sleep.

These doctors have every reason not to be humble, but they are. They are kind to patients and staff. There is compassion in their eyes. I am moved at how they give God all the credit for a patient’s healing. I hear Dr. John singing “How Great Thou Art” in an off-key but sincere falsetto as he works. Dr. Peter has gospel music playing full-blast in the OR and he and the staff sing while they work.

But what makes me cry is when the lights are dimmed, and before any incision is made, the entire surgical team bows their heads in prayer: A heartfelt, out-loud, specifically for this child prayer. They ask God for his help. And this is what they do before every surgery – ask God for His mercy, to heal this child. They acknowledge God as the only true source of healing, remembering that their skillful hands are simply God’s instrument. And in that moment of quiet with the lights dim, the surgical suite becomes a sanctuary, a holy place. There is a calm, a peace and an undeniable healing presence.

Each of these tiny patients has a name, a family, a story. And although state of the art neurosurgery is being done here, even more evident is the spiritual transformation taking place. These children can return home, go to school and live a productive life. No longer will they be looked upon by their community as cursed. Instead, they are a miracle.