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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Clapping With Your Feet

By Barbra Russell
Dec. 15, 2013

“I just want to wake up and find out I’m alive,” were Dane’s last words before heading into the surgical suite.

After hearing his surgeon graphically describe the steps involved in performing open-heart surgery, we were all echoing that wish. Dr. Miller explained that during the lengthy surgery, he’d make a chest incision, spread the ribs, stop the heart, place Dane on a heart and lung machine, which would keep our son alive, then repair the leaky heart valve. Though in some ways it was helpful to hear, we fought our fears as we listened to the details.

Seven hours later, we entered Dane’s ICU room. His eyes were closed, a breathing respirator operated through a tube down his throat, and his hands were fastened down lest he inadvertently pull out one of those life-saving tubes. It was hard to see our son in this condition.

Though I was relieved the surgery was successful, I struggled to sleep after we got home that night. I would wake up, my mind fearfully replaying the day. My nighttime ruminations led me to reflect about others going through such helpless times. As a counselor, I’ve seen people survive heart surgery, only to awaken to bedside visitors of fear, anxiety and worry.

Their last words before such surgery may have been, “Please don’t leave me,” “How will we pay the bills?” or “I just want to wake up and this will all be a bad dream!”

We all face similar fears when life’s trials put us through what I call “emotional heart surgery.” We feel like we’re in a virtual intensive care unit, barely hanging on to life. Often, our field of vision is limited to the blackness of present circumstances. We may not sense God’s presence, and we may wonder if He has abandoned us.

Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (NKJV). David penned the famous words of Psalm 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” In 2 Timothy 1:7, we find this promise: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” When recovering sufferers grab hold of these God-sent promises, what happens next can be as powerful as what occurred in Dane’s recovery room.

My husband joyfully leaned over and spoke directly into our son’s ear — “It’s over, and you’re alive, son!” We weren’t sure Dane really heard that for a minute, but then we noticed movement under the covers at the foot of the bed. It looked like one of those trained seals at Sea World moving its flippers. And then we realized Dane was clapping with his feet!

Even though he couldn’t speak or respond normally, Dane was applauding, letting us know he was glad he was alive. Tears ran down our faces as we rejoiced with him. And from that praise grew hope, which morphed into encouragement, and then a rallying cry from deep within, “No matter what happened, I’m still alive — I’ll make it!”

If you ever feel discouraged by events beyond your control; if you’re feeling sorry for yourself because things aren’t going as you planned, and you feel your hands are tied, your voice is silent, and your eyes tightly shut, just remember — you’re still alive! And if the enemy of your soul tries to tell you there’s nothing you can do, keep this in mind — you can still “clap with your feet.”

You can silently applaud in your spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit. Let Spirit-energized praise be your avenue to healing and hope and the strength to carry on.

BARBRA RUSSELL lives in Denver.





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