Friday, August 31, 2018

What God Can Do

What God Can Do
Dee Barroso

I have been in nursing 36 years and have seen many miracles.  One of them remains very vivid in my memory!   When talking with other nurses working that day, they always bring up this amazing event…
I was working in a Medical Intensive Care Unit.  We received an older lady named Shirley from a nursing home who was in respiratory distress and on a ventilator.  Shirley’s husband, though healthy, was unable to take care of his wife at home.  They were now living in a nursing home so they could be together.  While she was in the hospital, he came to visit everyday.  Sitting next to her, he would talk to her while holding her hand.  
One day Shirley started fighting the ventilator - trying to get out of bed!  Since she was fighting so hard, the doctor said, “Let’s remove the breathing tube and get her off the machine.”  Shortly after taking her off the ventilator, she started screaming!  I went in and asked her what was wrong.  She said she needed to go home and be with her husband!  I tried to calm her down and told her we needed to get her breathing better so that she could go home.  She calmed down and then started screaming again.  She repeatedly insisted that she had to go home and be with her husband!  I told her he would be there shortly, since visiting time was getting close.  Hearing that settled her down once more. 
Shortly after leaving her room, I heard Shirley scream again, "He's here! He's here!”  Going back into the room, I asked her what was wrong.   She exclaimed,  “My husband is here with me!” Shirley was in a rotating bed that had an air mattress and an arm pad.  She was patting the arm pad.  I told her that it was just the arm pad.  “No, it’s not!”  she responded emphatically.  “My husband is lying here next to me! He has come to say good-bye!  He is in the Coronary Care Unit next door.”  Strangely, she felt as though her husband was in both places.
I went out to the desk and called the CCU, "Hi, this is Dee in MICU.  I know this is going to sound crazy - but do you have Mr. Bailey there?”  The nurse told me to hold on and then put the nurse manager Carol on the phone, “Hi, Dee, how can I help you?”  I again said, “ I know this is going to sound crazy, but Mrs. Bailey is insisting that Mr. Bailey is over there and that he is here lying in bed next to with her telling her good-bye!”  Carol then replied, “A couple hours earlier Mr. Bailey was brought in, and he has just died!!”  I was flabbergasted!
When the hospital chaplin went into the room to tell Shirley that Mr. Bailey had passed, she was crying.  As soon as she heard the news of his passing, a smile appeared on her face. She told us he had already told her good bye, and that he would see her soon.  She was very quiet from that point forward.  
Shirley recovered enough to return to the nursing home.  However, she passed away a short time later.
God works in wonderful and mysterious ways to comfort us.

Friday, August 24, 2018

What Are the Chances?

What Are the Chances?
Debora Lisle

            There comes a time in many people’s lives when it’s their turn to look after their parents.  It became that time in my life - my mother could no longer live alone.  I was going to have to find a place where she could live and be cared for.  
After some searching I was able to find such a facility, where she would be able to live in a little apartment that would allow her some independence.  Although it did not have a full kitchen, it did have a microwave, so she would be able to do some cooking for herself.  Having seen the place, she liked it but… found one fault.  It did not have a “real oven.”  Having only a microwave made it unacceptable to her, because she loved to bake.  This was very discouraging since the apartments at this facility did not offer such ovens.
It wasn’t long, however, before another apartment did become available.  We decided to take a look at it just in case she might like it better.  Lo and behold, to our amazement, on entering, we saw a real oven!!  AND not just any oven – but a pink one!  My mom’s favorite color!!  The lady who previously lived in this apartment had gotten the oven specially installed. Right away my mom found this abode to her liking.  She was even permitted to paint the whole kitchen pink!

What are the chances of something like this happening??  God knows.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son
Karl Stephens
                 All scripture is profitable for teaching, for correction, and for training… (2 Tim 3:16).  The Biblical story of the “prodigal son”  (Luke 15:11-31) is a popular message for most prison chaplains.  In this story, a father has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance, leaves home and, after wasting his fortune, becomes destitute. He returns home with the intention of begging his father to be made one of his hired servants, since he expected his relationship with his father to likely be severed.  Instead, his father welcomes him back joyfully and celebrates his return.  The themes of repentance, reconciliation, and unconditional love from that scripture speak to many of us prisoners.­­­­­             I can personally relate to this story, because years ago I was that lost son. I thought I could live my life on my own terms.  However, due to selfishness and substance abuse, I eventually descended to my lowest state of reckless behavior.  I, too, left home and found myself in a dangerous and foreign place.  I was not only feeding the swine so to speak, like the prodigal did while he was away, but I was also wallowing in the mud right beside them.  My condition was dark and hopeless.  I had ended up in a place where not even my family knew where I was.  Yet, my father did not give up hope. He was prompted by the Holy Spirit to keep searching for me.  He responded in obedience, miraculously found me, and brought me home.  On that day, Jesus saved my life, and the seeds of God’s love were planted.
However, my troubles did not immediately go away. But I did come to realize God had always loved me unconditionally and had never given up on me.  There is a song that I hear from time to time on the radio.  I just love the chorus – and can now sing  it with understanding:
                                                All my hope is in Jesus           
                                                Thank God my yesterday’s gone.
                                                Yes, all my sins are forgiven.
                                                I’ve been washed by the blood.

            It’s been a long way back, but God has me in a place now that is close to Him.  For that, I will be eternally grateful!                     

Friday, August 10, 2018

Sunday Service

Sunday Service
                                                            Jon Schultz

One Sunday morning when my wife and I were getting ready to go to church, the phone rang.  It was my son, Jameson, calling to tell us that the wheel had just come off his big 4 x 4 pick up truck, as he and his family were on their way to church.  Thankfully, he, his wife and two girls were okay.  He had only very recently gotten his truck out of the shop where the wheels had been rotated. Apparently, someone didn’t tighten the lug nuts enough. This mishap could have resulted in someone being seriously injured!
When I arrived at the scene to help, I was amazed! There were two men working on his truck.  They had a jack under it and were putting the retrieved wheel back on. As they were working, my son started telling me more about the incident.  He said when the wheel left the truck, it went rolling very fast past him.  Then he saw these men take off in their truck to retrieve it. [Keep in mind… this was a big wheel which could have hurt someone as it rolled away.] One of the men blocked off traffic and picked it up. After returning with the wheel, one of the men asked my son if he had found any of the lug nuts.  My son said no.  Jameson said these men once again jumped into action and insisted on taking the wheel to Pep Boys to have it checked out. They even purchased a new set of lug nuts! Now they were reinstalling it.
 I was just amazed at the generosity that this man and his friend showed my son. I thanked them repeatedly and so did Jameson.  I told the man who had done most of the work, “You are an angel!” I offered him money, but he refused it.  I insisted, “No, please take it. You have been so very kind.” Finally he agreed and told me he was going to put it in the offering plate at church.
That afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about the random act of kindness this man and his friend displayed. I felt God had a message here, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Here we were… all going to church, and this misfortune occurred. I missed church obviously, but my wife and I were able to see the service televised on TV Monday night. Our minister told a story about a songwriter Bill Withers who wrote the song, “Lean on Me.”  This is the story….

Bill Withers, as a young black man, had to travel to visit his ill mother. He purchased a used car that unfortunately had four worn tires.  On his journey, while passing through Birmingham Alabama, he had a flat tire.  It happened during the time when there were so many racial problems. He was scared, because he didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden a Caucasian man walked up to him and said, “Looks like you have a problem!” Then the man disappeared. Bill thought that was kind of strange, and it didn’t reassure him in his present situation. Not long after, he spotted a man in the distance walking towards him with a tire and a set of tools. It was the very same man!  The man put the tire on the car for Bill and went on his way. A random act of generosity!

After our minister finished his story I looked at my wife and said, “That’s pretty cool!”  Was this a coincidence?  I think not – it was the good Lord letting us know that there is still hope in the world, if we just continue to love one another and be kind. The kindness and generosity of those two African American men changed all of our lives that Sunday.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

Right Time - Right Reason

Right Time – Right Reason
Meg Folsom

I work in a family birthing center with midwives.  In 2006 a sweet young Christian couple came in.  That day was a bad one for me, as I had just been diagnosed with cancer.  When I came out to see them, they could tell I had been crying.  Even though I did not tell them what was wrong, they showed a lot of concern for me.
When the young lady, Bethany, and her mom returned for another appointment, they overheard me telling another staffer about my upcoming surgery.  They asked about it, and I told them then that I had cancer.  They asked if they could pray for me.  I said yes, and we went into another room for them to pray.  This family really touched my heart because of the love they showed me. They had come here for me to serve them, yet they were ministering to me.
The day Bethany came in to have her baby, I was there to assist.  While I was with her mom and her, I learned they often went on mission trips.  That was something I had been wanting to do for a long time.  However, I recognized that I only really wanted to do so for the accolades I would receive for going.  In my heart, I knew that was not the right reason.  Therefore, I decided not to pursue such an adventure.
After the birth of Bethany’s child, Lockland, I kept in touch with the family for years.  I would hear about their mission trips to Haiti - and long to go with them.   However, now I was fighting cancer which made it impossible.
Finally, in 2017, the time became right.  I had won my battle against cancer, and… my mind and heart were right about the reason I wanted to go.  In March I heard from Bethany that she, her mom, and her son Lockland, now 11, were going to make a trip to Haiti in November.  I asked to be included on this trip.  By November I had raised enough money to go.
During my week in Port-au paix, Haiti, I witnessed the Lord’s presence in many ways I had never seen before.  Amazingly, I was able to see Lockland, that little boy I helped bring into the world, ministering to other little boys.  In spite of the extreme poverty in the area where we served, it was beautiful to see how happy and loving these people were! The children were so joyful - giving such warm hugs.  Their happiness did not depend on having material objects, as is so often the case in our country. They displayed such unconditional love!  One day I ministered to ladies who worked in brothels. These ladies were sacrificing themselves in order to provide for their families.  On another day I worked with teens and single moms.  Yet all these ladies, even though having to endure such difficulties in life, were able to sing songs of praise with a resounding and heartfelt spirit.
Going on this mission trip was a life-changing experience for me.  Each night I slept soundly - eagerly awaiting the next morning when I could once again be with these people.  Each evening those of us on the trip would gather to tell about our day and to spend time praying for the needs we saw.  There was no doubt but that God there and with us!  Thanks be to God for this being the right time and the right reason for my going!  I hope to return!