Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’’  Luke 4:23


When my husband and I were visiting Telluride, Colorado, several years ago, we heard the tale of George Balderston, a doctor who removed his own appendix in 1949. A Huff Post article on the Internet says Balderston performed the surgery “to get a first-hand reaction of a patient to local anesthesia…and…to study post-operative effects.” Some old timers in Telluride insist that Balderston was offended when a patient had called him a “butcher,” and completed the self-surgery to prove him wrong. The good doctor reportedly used no mirrors and finished the procedure in forty-five minutes, returning to work after two days. Balderston’s operation is said to be the first and only of its kind in Colorado.


The idea of performing “self-surgery” sounds preposterous to most of us. But we think nothing of becoming impatient with “God’s timing” and snatching our lives back out of His hands when we think we can take care of things better/faster/easier than He can! We as humans constantly want to “fix” things on our own, rather than waiting for God’s good plan to unfold. God gave all of us our talents, from ditch diggers to brain surgeons, and He wants us to use our talents to help make this world a better place. But He also wants us to come to Him for wisdom and guidance in the use of those talents.


I have gone “under the knife” several times in my adult life, and it takes a lot of trust to let somebody cut into your body and perform even a minor procedure! If the surgeon suddenly said, “Here’s the scalpel, Honey, go for it,” I would surely freak out. Thanks be to God that there are men and women who have the skills to take care of us when we need an operation. And thanks be to God that He is always there, unfolding His plans throughout our lives.


Lord, You have been called The Great Physician, and we know that all healing comes through Your hand. Guide us in making wise decisions about our earthly health, and guide those who treat us for the diseases we encounter. Amen


Kmer RougeDear Readers: In yesterday’s post entitled “Downsizing” I erroneously said that my husband was not willing to part with any of his fishing equipment. A discussion ensued at our house, and I just want all of you to know I was only kidding. Among the FIRST things he sold were a number of pieces of fishing equipment, and I knew that. (Sorry, Honey!) 

From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. Psalm 88:15


She was a tiny Cambodian woman, dressed in neat but simple American clothes. There was a determination in her eyes that haunts me even today. Her English As A Second Language teacher brought her to the college’s counseling office to see me in the spring of 1990. This woman whom I will call Ponleak (which means strength or endurance) had witnessed the brutal murder of her husband and her two oldest children by Communist leader Pol Pot’s merciless soldiers during the Kmer Rouge in the late 1970’s. An American soldier met Ponleak and her three remaining children in a refugee camp and brought her and her family back to the United States. He married her and together they raised her children to become highly-educated and successful members of American society.


There was only one problem: the American soldier beat Ponleak daily and treated her as his slave. Now, she stood in my office saying she wanted to go to a women’s shelter. Her children had all moved away, and she wanted to live out her life alone, in peace and freedom.


I was—and still am—astounded at what the human spirit can endure. This woman had seen so much hatred and evil and cruelty, and yet she still had the will to seek her independence and regain her dignity. To know the depths of despair that Ponleak had known and have the will to go on was almost more than I could take in. As I was assisting her, I thought of King David in all of his trials, a confessed sinner who still trusted God to see him through. Ponleak had done nothing to bring on her misfortunes, and I was humbled beyond words to be assisting her in her purposeful and most sacred journey.


God of Healing, when will there be an end to war and danger and fear? Those of us who trust in You know a peace others may never feel. Aid us in raising prayers for their safety and security in this dispirited world. Amen


gIRL IN tENTYou shall have no other gods before me. Deuteronomy 5:7


We are “downsizing” at our house. Well, I should say my husband is downsizing. I am taking one last leisurely trip down Memory Lane, holding each piece of “stuff” tenderly before making the painstaking decision whether or not I can let it go. My husband doesn’t think I’m serious about this project. He calls me a “pack rat” when he simply doesn’t see the importance of me keeping things “just in case.”  I took my shoes off the other night and he put them on EBay. Of course, this project does not apply to his fishing equipment.


The bottom line is that most of us in our country get hung up on possessions. God wants us to enjoy this life but He definitely doesn’t want us hopelessly distracted by “things.” When the material baggage we collect takes on more importance than the Creator Himself, that’s idolatry. And the Bible is very clear that we “shall have no other gods before” God. Period.


I lived in a thirty-three foot travel trailer when I was younger, and I am fascinated by the tiny house movement going on right now. My husband says we could move to a tiny house if he could have a huge shed for his “boy toys.” We are working out this plan for our “golden years.” But one thing is for sure: as we grow older, we both find ourselves focusing more on our relationships, with each other, the ones we love and care about, and our God. When God is our focus, any house is His.


Father of All Creation, walk with us through our lives and temper our desire for material things. Help us to put You first at all times, no matter how much or how little we possess in this life. Amen


pINK sHACKThen you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32


Wm. Paul Young’s iconic 2007 novel, The Shack, tied my brain in knots! The story is about Mack Phillip’s, an ordinary guy whose young daughter was abducted and never seen again. Evidence found in an abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness points to the child having been brutally murdered. A few years afterwards, Mack receives a note, presumably from God, asking him to come to that very shack, the embodiment of what Mack calls The Great Sadness. The cabin, as it turns out, has been transformed and occupied by Love Himself.


“Everything is about (Jesus),” Mack is told. “And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with Him.” This relationship, and the freedom that accompanies it, is the answer Mack seeks. But Mack’s pain and sense of loss is not appeased until he understands how profoundly and perfectly healed his daughter is now that she is in heaven.  Jesus tells Mack, “When the light shines into the place where (fears) live inside you,” it can no longer have the same power over you.


Reading about this was an “aha” moment for me. I have faced down the barrel of a gun and lived to tell about it, but it has truly been through God’s grace that I have healed and reached a place of peace in my daily life. The story in The Shack helped to alleviate my “survivor’s guilt;” if I have been able to heal in this life through the love of God, then I can know that those who have not survived brutal attacks like mine are experiencing a far greater healing in the arms of the One Who holds them now.


All-Powerful God, Your grace has transformed me from a sorrowful wanderer to a joyous follower of Your Word and Your ways. I pray that other survivors of violence may find their way to You and through You, and that those who do not survive now know Your ultimate healing. Amen


LightWhen Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12


A popular motel chain has a slogan, “We’ll leave the light on.” The voice in the ad is saying that the motel isn’t anything fancy, just like coming home to Grandma’s, reasonably priced, not a lot of frills, and the people at this motel are around all the time leaving on a light to guide you there. The chain has done well with this warm and cozy image, and I get a chuckle out of the ad every time I hear it.


Jesus “leaves a light on” in the souls of all His believers. But what does this really mean? Like Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are about as happy as they want to be.” So how much does happiness depend on our own attitude and how much does it depend on the work of Christ within us? It seems pretty clear to me that happiness depends on both the indwelling Christ (who moved in and turned the light on the minute we believed) and our own acceptance of Christ in our lives (daily acknowledgement of that light within us, which is the Holy Spirit). Simple enough, but it takes practice. Just like the motel’s ad campaign, we need some reminders to let Christ’s light show through us. Whether it’s ready a daily devotion, listening to Christian music, studying the Bible, or viewing God’s ever-present display of natural wonders, the little holy things we include in our daily life can make us sparkle with the love of Christ even on the days we might be a little down ourselves. So next time you hear that ad campaign for that motel we all know about, remember Who’s light is on in your world!


Rainbow-Maker, Keeper of the Sun and the Moon and the Stars, create a sense of wonder in us minute by minute. Let us never forget that You are the Light of the World, and the Light in our hearts. Amen


Get the BoatBecause of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. Mark 3:9


On our recent vacation, the airline had a new safety video that was quite entertaining. In the segment showing passengers how to use the oxygen masks “in the unlikely event” that they would be needed, a man correctly put his own mask on before assisting his young daughter. Then the daughter placed a mask on her dolly in the seat next to hers. The instructions were cleverly presented, and as always, the more mature or able-bodied passenger made sure his own mask in in place before assisting someone who needs help. We cannot help another passenger with the oxygen devise if we ourselves are not properly oxygenated.


Jesus knew this was true with any type of help He was to render. The third chapter of Mark finds Jesus in the early part of His ministry, healing the withered hand of a man. People began to press in on Him with needs of their own, but Jesus asked the disciples to “get the boat,” so they could make their escape. The fully-human Jesus knew He needed to take care of Himself and his new disciples if He was going to have the energy to meet the demands of His ministry. He modeled this behavior for us; we need to make sure we are not taking on so much in our lives that we have no time or energy to serve God. As the saying goes, “The devil loves a busy Christian.” So remember that it’s okay to “get the boat” if you need to escape into the restful arms of Jesus for some rest and renewal!


Jesus, we are so glad You modeled perfect behavior for us! Help us see the practical lessons You shared during Your ministry, as well as the life-changing acts of kindness You showed the people You met. Amen


GuiltyAnd after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.        1 Kings 19:12


No, it’s not a typo. We have all been guilty of “the still, small vice:” that little, niggling sin-that’s-not-really-a-sin. The one we think we are getting away with or that we don’t even realize or remember we’ve commited. The one we think God won’t notice, that we probably don’t need to worry about. Or do we?


I know I fail my Lord every day, in big (huge!) ways and small. I’m human, and it’s impossible for me to know all the things I may say or do that grieve God. I’m eternally thankful that He is a forgiving God, for where would I be if He wasn’t? So how do we reconcile those sins we don’t even think about? For me, the answer lies in asking God to forgive all my sins, those I know about and those I don’t remember (or pretend I don’t remember). If we are God’s children and He is our Father, then He as a parent knows the human spirit can be broken by too much guilt. A child who is constantly told she is wrong about everything has a hard time growing into a confident person who can make intelligent, discerning decisions throughout her life. God knows this.


There is an old saying: “Don’t sweat the small stuff (p.s.: it’s all small stuff).” Sin is sin. Of course God wants us to ‘fess up when we have hurt someone or done something that clearly is not His will. But let’s remember that He is a loving Father Who wants us to learn and grow in His love every day. If we give Him our hearts, God can be trusted to hear those sins we confess and to help us recall the ones we leave unconfessed. And He loves us anyway.


God of Unfailing Compassion, know that I want to do Your will. Help me in my time of confusion to reach for Your hand to guide me in all I do. Amen


DarknessIn Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4-5


Okay, so I’m not dark all the time. And before I learned that sin is…well, disappointing God, I would have said I was a “good” person. But the truth is, whatever is not pleasing to God is sin, and we need to continually remind ourselves of that if we want to live in true fellowship with Him every day.


So do I have this down? No way! I go through an average day letting lots of things “slip.” I think, “Slow drivers are idiots and fast drivers are maniacs.” Sometimes I tell the people in my life how I really feel when I’m upset. If I say I’ll pray for someone, did I really mean every day? And I’ve been known to tell a white lie now and then if I am pretty sure I can get away with it. (What, you’ve never done that????)


Wow, that was painful! I just wrote down several things that exposed me as a true sinner, and I’m going to post it on the Internet so everyone can read it. Maybe I’d better hit the “undo” button… But wait, Life doesn’t have an “undo” button. It’s up to us to “undo,” or repent, from the things we’ve done that might (probably will) bother God. I can stop criticizing other drivers, soften my words, keep my promises, tell the truth. That wasn’t so hard, now was it?


Aren’t you glad that God came into the world so that His light can shine on our darkness? And the best part is, He forgives us when we ask Him and He gives us a second chance to walk in that light. Praise-alujah!


Thank You, Gracious God, for lighting up my life and the lives of all of Your children. Help us to turn to You in repentance when we step out of that light. Amen


Confused(Joseph said,) “It was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” Genesis 45:8


Recently, I was supposed to attend a Christian women’s weekend retreat where I would be one of the speakers. I spent a great deal of time preparing for my talk. I worked on the content, timing, delivery, and a detailed Power Point for days, right up until the evening before the event.


The next morning, I awoke feeling terrible. A trip to my clinic revealed that I had a bad case of influenza, which meant I had to cancel out on the entire retreat. Someone else stepped in and gave my talk. I really wondered why God had allowed me to go through all of the preparation for the weekend. I knew He didn’t want me there to give everyone else the flu. And being exhausted from attending the retreat would surely have delayed me getting well.


So I wondered, why did I get the flu? Didn’t God like my speech? But then I thought about all the times in the Bible where God’s people took detours. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery only to find Joseph later in a position of great authority with the ability to help his family and all of Israel (Genesis 45:4-8). Esther was also a slave who was given an opportunity to speak up on behalf of her people (Esther 4:14). And another Joseph thought he was marrying a simple village girl, but soon found himself parenting the Son of God (Matthew 1:20).  God knows what He’s doing. We just have to trust Him and follow His lead.


God of Endless Opportunities, we know that You work all things together for the good of those who love You. Fill us with faith and remove all doubt that You always have our best interests in mind. Amen


TroopsFor he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11


Three cheers for Robert McDonald! The 2014 Secretary of Veterans Affairs appointee seems to be a man with a plan. As part of President Obama and the VA’s goal of ending Veteran homelessness by the end of this year, McDonald participated first-hand in last month’s Point In Time (PIT) count of all homeless persons in Los Angeles. “There is no question that the goal to end Veteran homelessness is within reach,” said Secretary McDonald. “Ending Veteran homelessness in America is … about helping communities…house every (homeless) Veteran… today and…in the future.” The January 2014 PIT Los Angeles Count revealed a 33-percent decline in homelessness among Veterans since 2010. Similar counts are being done all over the nation.


On a national newscast the day of this year’s PIT count, McDonald spoke with homeless veterans on camera, facing down his worst fear. He said he doesn’t want to find someone on the street that he served with, one who “had his back” in combat. He stated that he takes his job with the VA seriously: he wants the homeless vets to know he now has their back.


The VA has had some bad press in recent years, and rightfully so. But at the core of all the accusations is still a face, a life, a story. If we care at all about furthering God’s kingdom here on earth, we would do well to pray for these men and women who served selflessly only to be left to fend for themselves when they got home. God bless the veterans, and may Robert McDonald lead us to a better place in history.


Oh, God, when You hung on that cross, You felt all of the pain and anguish that all of Your people have suffered and are suffering and will suffer. Comfort those who feel abandoned and help these good men and women who served our country return to happy, healthy and productive lives. Amen