Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Voice is Heard in Ramah . . .

Matthew 2:18
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. ~Albert Einstein

Hundreds of little girls and teenagers at a concert . . . and a coward suicide bomber attends . . . it is just heart-breaking. ~Vallery Barbin, Noma Falta 

It is precisely what Vallery says it is:  Heart-breaking!  The Rachel within us all weeps at the senseless tragedy of Manchester.  And the mothers, the fathers, of these innocents refuse to be comforted, because their young, their treasured, their beloved are no more . . .

Evil.  In this place.  In our time.  An unrepentant, hideous evil seeking to destroy civilization as we know it.

As Christians, we cannot stand by and do nothing.  But what is it, Lord, in the light of this most recent disaster, would You have us do?

  • We must recognize the evil in this world for what it is.  Yes, Jesus has overcome the world, but if we don't become engaged in prayer and in action to partner with Him, we give Satan the very toe-hold he needs to wreak the poisonous havoc in which he takes such wicked delight.
  • We must pray for and stay in touch with our government officials.  Whether we send letters, e-mails, tweet, or make phone calls, we can't remain silent.  We must rise up in the strength given to us through Christ, and voice our concerns boldly.  Every measure to defeat the enemy and protect innocent lives must be taken.
  • We must never give up!  We know that we are loved as children of God.  Let us begin acting in that very knowledge, loving and forgiving others, even our enemies, as we have been loved by Jesus.
  • We must, in all adversities, and in spite of them, continue to pray.  Pray for those we love and for our adversaries, who have yet to learn the power of God's infinite love.  Pray, pray, pray that one day, the entire world will come to know that indescribable love, that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
May all those affected by the recent horrendous calamities in Manchester, in Egypt, in Indonesia, and the Philippines, know that God's heart is breaking for them.  May they be surrounded with and blessed by the peace and comfort of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 26, 2017

We're Going Home

Luke 6:37
Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

When people are facing a severe illness or a major surgery, that may be one of the most significant opportunities for spiritual transformation that they will encounter. ~Allan Hamilton (Quote borrowed from my blogging friend, Jean Wise, at Healthy Spirituality)

This is the final installment of the Asheville misadventures.  If you are just joining us here, please begin with "The Voice of the Lord" featured under Blog Archives to the right of this page.

Danny and I entertain a host of medical professionals who will be in the operating room with him.  The anesthesiologist, her assistant, and the device technologist describe their roles in the procedure, and give us confidence that Danny is in good hands.  Enter Dr. S., the doctor who will actually be doing the surgery.  He embarks on what I've come to call the Litigious Litany; you know, just like all those drug commercials on television that feature an endless, and alarming, list of side effects.  Not in the least reassuring, but most likely required by law.

I look down at the Bible resting in my lap, and say a silent prayer of thanks to God for its presence.

For His.

When we are told the operation will take between two and three hours, Danny urges me to return to the hotel instead of sitting in an uninviting waiting room.  I leave my cell number with the nurse assigned to Danny's case, and head out to summon yet another Uber.  As I have to make many phone calls once again, the privacy of my hotel room is just what the doctor ordered.  (Yes, pun intended!)

I spend the next two-and-one-half hours contacting folks and perusing my new Bible, but most of my time is spent in prayer that all goes smoothly for Danny.  God continues to assure me that I should be anxious for nothing.  Danny will come through with flying colors.  What can I do at this point but trust completely in Him?

When call from Dr. S. finally comes in, I answer immediately.  "Mrs. Orlando, your husband is out of surgery and in recovery.  Everything went beautifully!  A text book case if I ever saw one.  I couldn't be happier with how things turned out."

"Oh, Dr. S., that's marvelous news!  When should I come back over to the hospital?"

"Don't leave your hotel for another hour or so," he advises.  "It will take him a while to come to himself.  By that time, we should have him back in his room."

More texting!  More calls!  More prayers of thanksgiving!!!  The success of the surgery means the doctors will release Danny tomorrow, and we can enjoy one night at the cabin before having to head home!

My arrival at the hospital could not have been better timed.  As I approach Danny's room, they are just wheeling him into it.  What a tremendous relief to see him awake.  Alert.


Once the staff departs, and we are alone at last, we shed grateful tears of joy.  That's when Danny takes my hand, looks into my eyes, and says in all solemnity, "There's something really important I have to tell you, Martha.  Just before they put me under, I forgave her.  I forgave Pastor Diane, and I meant it with all my heart."

Tears spring anew to my eyes.  "Oh, Danny, I'm so glad you could, that you finally did!  This is such a blessing!"

"And you know what else is a blessing?"  Danny asks as he squeezes my hand.  "When we get back to Kennesaw, we can quit looking for another church.  We're going home."


For those of you who have been faithfully following this saga, you know that Danny faced some overwhelming complications during the ensuing weeks.  The pacemaker, successfully implanted in Asheville, became infected; we were advised by Dr. S. that there was a 15% possibility of this happening.  Consequently, Danny underwent three surgeries in the span of six weeks:  Pacemaker installed; pacemaker removed, and new device placed on the right side of his chest, not over the heart as before.  He now has a matching pair of scars, both of which are healing perfectly, thanks be to God!

All your prayers, your notes, your comments here and privately, have meant the world to both of us through these stressful ordeals.  We truly felt God's presence and peace throughout.  So now, allow me to leave you with some gorgeous photos that Danny managed to take at the cabin on the Sunday we arrived, and on the Thursday evening when at last we could return.  May the glory of God's creation bless you, my friends, and may you always remember how precious you are in His eyes!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Only to Find Gideon's Bible . . ."

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

This post continues our recent misadventures in Asheville.  If you are new here and want to catch up, look at the Blog Archives to the right of the page and begin with "The Voice of the Lord" published on April 7th.

Not long after Chaplain James departs, the head nurse stops by.  "I just want to let you all know that the surgeons are running behind schedule over at Mission.  They can't confirm when the ambulance will be coming to take you from St. Joseph's to there, but I'll stay on top of things, and tell you as soon as I'm notified.  So sorry for the delay, but these things happen."

This isn't what Danny wants to hear, especially since he has fasted since midnight.  I feel so badly for him, but I can't even give him a sip of water; at this point, we want this operation over and done with, and would never dream of doing anything to jeopardize that!

Time drags as we wait for word.  And I begin to wonder, too, if James has forgotten all about that Bible he promised to bring me.  Does he even know we're still here, way past the scheduled time for Danny's surgery?  This train of thought is unexpectedly, but delightfully, interrupted.

"The ambulance is on the way," the head nurse announces as she enters the room, a beaming smile on her face.  "All set?"

"I've been all set for over two hours," Danny declares, a bit grouchily, but who can blame him?  His stomach has been growling non-stop the entire afternoon.  Luckily, the nurse is not one who is easily offended.

When Jenny and Juan, the EMTs, arrive, they waste no time getting Danny transferred to the gurney and hooked up to the monitors so his pulse and blood pressure can be checked along the way.  Unlike my first experience (and hopefully my last) in an ambulance, this journey is short, sweet and well within the speed limit.  An added bonus?  I get to sit in the back with Danny!

We arrive without incident, and Jenny and Juan expertly lower the gurney from the ambulance and have us on our way to the pre-surgery rooms in no time.  We have to wait outside the one designated for Danny for a few minutes.  That's when I see Juan, who has been eyeing the heart monitor, do something that Jenny finds surprising.

"Why are you printing out the patient's heart information?"  she asks her partner.

"I've been in this business for over twenty years," Juan says, "and I've only seen two third degree heart blocks in all of that time.  I want some proof this go around."

Danny and I can't blame Juan for wanting a "souvenir," but the revelation doesn't offer us much comfort as surgery looms.  Is Danny's condition that rare?  Are the doctors going to be able to fix him as promised?  Lord, I really need Your Word right about now!

Finally, Danny's room is ready, and he is quickly settled in.  Now we wait to be visited by the pacemaker technologist, the anesthesiologist, and the doctor who will perform the procedure.  Before any of them make an entrance, and unfamiliar face appears at the doorway.

"Hi," the man says cheerfully.  "I'm Mark, the chaplain here at Mission.  My friend, James, told me you all requested a Bible?"

"Yes, we did!"  I say enthusiastically.

"Well, then, here you go," Mark says as he places the Bible into my hands.  "A complimentary gift from the Gideon's!"

I can't help but chuckle.  These Bible-delivery fellows may not have made it to Homewood Suites, but they sure did make it to Mission.

And not a moment too soon.

To be continued . . .

Friday, May 19, 2017

Amazing Company

Philippians 1:18b-19
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

Surgery day has arrived at last!  I hurry through coffee and breakfast so I can get over to the hospital no later than mid-morning.  With the operation scheduled for 12:30, I want to have ample time with Danny beforehand, and I need to make arrangements for the hospital chaplain to pay us a visit.

I can't help but recall Danny's previous two surgeries - one to install the original defibrillator and the other to replace the battery - when our former pastor, Wallace, arrives in time to pray with both of us, then stays with me throughout the entire procedure.  What comfort this gives me, and what peace of mind it gives Danny to know I won't be waiting out the ordeal alone.

This time around, everything's different.  Though we feel, still, the incredible calm generated by the prayers of so many, there's simply nothing like having a believer physically present, to join hands, and pray aloud over us.  I can't help but wonder what the St. Joseph's chaplain will be like.

About an hour after I make the request, a middle-aged man in a wheelchair appears at Danny's doorway.  A warm smile engulfs his bespectacled face.  "Am I at the right room?"  he asks in a voice as pleasant as his expression.  "I was told you all wished to see the chaplain."

"Yes, yes," says Danny eagerly.  "Please come in!"

James, as he introduces himself, rolls into the room and settles his chair near the foot of Danny's bed.  He wants to hear our story, of how and why we came here, where we are from, and what we do at home.  As we speak in turn, James listens empathetically and with genuine interest.  A born pastor, I think to myself, and perfectly suited for a chaplain's role.

When James hears the part where we leave the cabin in such a hurry, I don't think to bring my Bible, he regards me kindly, and says, "I'll see to it that you get one today before the surgery.  That's a promise."

I am grateful beyond words!

James lingers much longer than we expect, and we are both so happy he does; he is amazing company!  Finally, we join hands and, though I can't remember exactly what James speaks in prayer, Danny and I are instantly filled with God's peace and assurance.

And in the midst of uncertainty, we can rejoice.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"I Say a Little Prayer for You"

James 5:16b
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

In the midst of my recap of our "vacation" in North Carolina, my husband, Danny, suffered a setback with his new pacemaker due to a severe infection.  I simply could not continue with the story here until we had some positive resolution.  Praise the Lord, we have!  After enduring two surgeries in a week's time, Danny is back home and improving every day.  And even though you now have a sneak peek at the final outcome, I hope the encounters and revelations from our North Carolina experience shared here will inspire and encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

I am back in Danny's hospital room after my successful Walmart run, delighted to see that Dr. H. has arrived with good news.  Surgery for the needed pacemaker is slated for 12:30 tomorrow (Wednesday)!  Having a definite time frame at last, I am anxious to contact family and friends to keep Danny in prayer, and though we haven't attended our church in months since the dissolution of our band, I'm still active on the prayer chain.  I promptly email the coordinator all the information.

"But are you sure that's all right to do?"  Danny queries after I tell him the prayer chain has been alerted.

"Honey, just because we haven't been attending church doesn't mean these people don't care about you, about us," I assure him.  "And don't you agree that we need all the prayers we can get right now?"

"I can't argue with that," he says, and adds wistfully, "I wish we could go back there, but there's no way I can.  Just can't let go of the hurt, you know?"

I squeeze his hand understandingly.  "It's hard to forgive, isn't it?  But hanging onto the grief will only end up harming you."

"I know, I know," Danny says, not without some frustration.  "I'm just not ready.  Not yet."

We chat away the afternoon as the friendly nurses come and go at regular intervals.  Although he doesn't want me to leave, Danny urges me to get going around five o'clock so I can once again indulge in the complimentary food and beverages at the hotel.  I don't want to leave him either, but with as much money as this "vacation" is costing us, who am I to argue with free?

Back at the hotel, I happily run into Claudia again in the dining area.  It is such a joy to reconnect with her, and not have to dine alone.  We talk about family and work like we've known each other all our lives.  I can feel the mercy of God reaching out to me through her kind company, and I do hope my presence is as much of a gift to her.

I return to my room after dinner, still wishing the Gideons hadn't let me down, but so gratified to have clean pajamas to sleep in and fresh clothes for the next two days.  And unexpectedly, but oh, so welcomed, a deep, abiding sense of calm settles in my bones.  Worries about tomorrow, subdued in Claudia's companionship, completely melt away.  Is Danny sensing the same?

"How are you feeling, honey?"  I ask as soon as Danny answers his phone.

"Believe it or not, peaceful," he says.  "I'm not concerned about the surgery at all.  What will be will be."

"It's the prayers!"  I exclaim.  "We're covered with them!  I feel that same peace, too!"

And if ever either of us doubted the immense power of intercessory prayer in the past, those doubts vanished that day as morning mist in the sunlight.

Thanks be to God!

To be continued . . .

Sing a New Song

  Danny and I in his new music studio Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. ~Psalm 96:1 A new song shall I sing unto...