The Remarkable

Prodigal: This spot is good as any.

Me: Yes, we can rest a spell and then get on with our walk.

This is from the book The Power of Love

This article is written by Ruth Stafford Peale

The first time I realized I had a hearing problem was when I tried to listen to my watch tick and found I couldn’t. With my left ear I could still hear it, but not with my right. When I consulted a doctor, he confirmed that I had a serious hearing loss. At that point, he wasn’t sure why.

Months of tests and examinations followed. Fortunately, the hearing in my “good” ear remained normal. But if a person sat on my “deaf” side, I had to twist my head awkwardly to hear. It was troublesome and a bit frightening at times.

It was during this time that I learned to have a feeling of compassion for people with hearing problems, which has never left me. A blind person or any disabled person arouses sympathy immediately. But many people are insensitive about deafness or partial deafness in others. They can’t “see” the affliction, and so they tend to be impatient with it. This causes a lot of unhappiness, because there are 14.5 million people in the United States alone who are hard-of-hearing or deaf.

My doctors finally came to the conclusion that my problem was otosclerosis, an overgrowth on a tiny bone called the stapes inside my right ear. This bone is the smallest in the human body; ten of them would just about cover the small fingernail. It’s shaped like a stirrup, and is the closest bone to the auditory nerve. Sound makes the stapes vibrate. This stimulates the nerve, which in turn sends the sound message to the brain where its meaning is deciphered. But in my case the stapes had become rigid, unable to vibrate or react to sound.

Time went by. More treatments and one operation didn’t seem to help. Then one day by chance (or was it chance?) I happened to mention to Dr. Louis Bishop, our personal physician, that I had this problem. Louis’s wife Kitty, who had a similar problem with both ears, had just been greatly helped by an operation performed by a Dr. Samuel Rosen. A new technique, they told me. A real breakthrough. They urged me to go and see Dr. Rosen in New York. I did, and met a most remarkable physician.

Dr. Rosen was in his 70’s, gentle, reassuring–fatherly was the word that described him best. I told him about my problem and asked if he could help me. He smiled. “If God is willing.” he said.

He used the same phrase from time to time during subsequent visits when I came in for testing. One day I ventured to ask him why. “When my parents prayed,” he said, “whether it was a prayer of supplication or of thanks, they always ended it with, “If God is willing.” That’s a cornerstone of my faith and work.”

Dr. Rosen told em that his parents were immigrants. His father had peddled crockery, and his mother had suffered from severe asthma. He recalled that one morning, when he was six years old and preparing to go off to school, his mother had such a severe attack that she could not catch her breath.

“To a child that meant that she would suffocate,” Dr. Rosen said. “A doctor came and gave her some medicine, which relieved her, but I would not go to school. I sat by her bedside all day. When I told her that one day I would be a doctor and cure her, she took my hands in hers and said only, “If God is willing.”

Dr. Rosen’s mother died when she was quite young. His older brothers pooled their labor, their savings and love to send him through medical school. For over 40 years Dr. Rosen has been an ear surgeon at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and has taught ear surgery in its medical school. In his early days he was baffled by otosclerosis, as were all ear specialists. They knew what it is, but not what causes it. The standard surgery, called fenestration, took over four hours, and required the removal of the second of three bones in the middle ear. Sometimes it helped; mostly, it didn’t. It usually left the patient dizzy for weeks, even months, and often totally deaf.

Like so many dramatic discoveries in medicine, Dr. Rosen’s was an accident. Or was it?

One day in 1952, while operating on a woman who had a hearing loss for over 20 years, he was startled to find that her stapes was not entirely rigid, even though otosclerosis had been diagnosed.

“I wondered how many times fenestration was performed on patients like her,” Dr. Rosen told me. “I decided that from then on I would try to test the stapes with a long, thin needle to see if it was rigid before I operated.”

In the next five operations the stape were rigid. So was the sixth, in the case of a 42 year old engineer, who had been almost deaf for 15 years. But when Dr. Rosen inserted the long needle to make the test, the engineer suddenly shouted, “Doctor, I can hear you!”

“I knew something remarkable had happened,” he recalled. “But what?”

He did not remove the bone from the ear; the engineer recovered his hearing. Afterward, Dr. Rosen tried desperately to recall every detail of what he had done. His nights became sleepless, as he tried to find the answer to the question: “How can I do deliberately what I did accidentally?”

For the next 18 months, after his day’s work was done, he performed autopsies, studying the tiny stapes. What was its structure? How much pressure could it take? How could he get through the complex labyrinth of the ear to try to move the stapes without damaging it or the other fragile bones?

He designed and made at least three-dozen special instruments. None worked. When he finally made one that promised to work, it broke the arms of the stapes. The search seemed endless, the frustration was deep. I asked him what had kept him going.

“Only the Lord knows how the human mind works,” Dr. Rosen said. “But there was something that filled me with hope. How do you reinforce hope? You pray. I did, every day.”

One night, he twisted the delicate sides of one instrument in the hope that it would grasp the neck of the stapes, its strongest part, without damaging it. He wiggled the instrument, and gasped when it moved the base of the stapes–without breaking it. He tried it again and again, and finally murmured, “God is willing!” He labeled the instrument “The Mobilizer,” and used it 400 times before he ventured to try it on a living patient.

“Until then I don’t think I really understood what my parents meant when they ended their prayers with “If God is willing,” he said. “I do now. It could not have happened without His help.”

After a series of successful operations, Dr. Rosen published his findings in medical journals. He was invited to demonstrate and teach the procedure all over the United States and the world. He has trained over 1000 doctors to perform the operation, and they in turn have trained others. Dr. Rosen charges no fees for such teaching. Over 750,000 people have been spared possible deafness in this chain of unquestioning love.

On the morning that I arrived for my operation in 1969, I prayed that God would guide Dr. Rosen’s hands, and prayed for the strength to accept the outcome, no matter what it was. Dr. Rosen began his work. There was complete silence. About 25 minutes later I thought I heard someone speaking. Was it a fantasy? No. The voice was whispering, “I love you.” I looked up in amazement. Dr. Rosen was bending over me, smiling, his lips close to the ear that had been deaf. Now the sound was coming through in the form of the three most beautiful words in any language.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: Your garden is looking good!

Me: It is small, but it is growing.

This is a short video devotion on proverbs.

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 6:8

Yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. (NIV)

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Worthy of Our Calling

Me: What is today about?

Prodigal: It is about the Lord.

Me: May we live like it today.

This is from the book Overcoming Spiritual Blindness by James P. Gills, M.D.

The apostle summons us to walk worthy of our calling. According to Paul, we do this by a gentle, longsuffering, forbearing, loving spirit toward on another. (Ephesians 4: 1-3). When we live close to the Son of God, we will know how to forgive others and understand their faults without becoming cynical, like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son.

It is spiritual blindness to have no view or interest in these great realities. Spiritual blindness will leave us to wander, hurting others and ourselves. How blessed, instead, to have spiritual sight through God’s Spirit working within us, quickening us, filling us, and focusing us on the glory of Christ. This is the refreshment for our soul as it is drawn into the ecstasy of communion with heaven’s King and the Friend of sinners.

Romans 8:6

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Courage

Me: Are you scared Prodigal of the gators.

Prodigal: I don’t plan on swimming with them.

Me: Me either and we can be strong and have courage.

This is from the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

Leaders require courage of the highest order–always moral courage and often physical courage as well. Courage is that quality of mind which enables people to encounter danger or difficulty firmly, without fear or discouragement.

Paul admitted to knowing fear, but it never stopped him. “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling,” he reported in 1 Corinthians 2:3, but the verb is came. He did not stay home out of fear for the journey. In 2 Corinthians 7:5, Paul confesses that he experienced “conflicts on the outside, fears within.” He did not court danger, but never let it keep him from the Master’s work.

James 5:17

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: You have to stop and smell the roses some times.

Me: Yes, you do, and just praise the Lord for the small things.

This is a quick video devotion on proverbs

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 6:7

Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler. (KJV)

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Light of Love

Prodigal: I am loving the company!

Me: Yes, nothing better than good food and good folk.

This is from the book Where Angels Walk by Joan Wester Anderson

Chad and Peggy Anderson were already bustling around on a cold predawn Saturday in their kitchen in Antioch, Illinois. Peggy, a nurse, was due to work the seven-am. to three p.m shift at McHenry Hospital. And as any working wife knows, getting up, dressed, and out takes plenty of time. As he usually did when Peggy worked a Saturday shift, Chad would be caring for the Anderson’s two sons as well as two preschool grandchildren currently living with them. Now, though, as he glanced outside, he frowned and said, “It’s snowing, Peg.”

“Not heavily.” Peggy peered out the kitchen window.

“No….but I think you ought to drive the Lincoln rather than your little Chevette. Just in case.”

“Well….” Peggy wasn’t especially nervous in snow, but the hospital was twenty miles away, and she had to cover a rather zigzag, mostly rural route. The big car would be safer, so she decided to take Chad’s advice.

The cold white blanket made everything look fresh and new, and although Peggy seemed the only traveler on the road, she was actually enjoying the ride- until she hit a curve on a bridge about eight miles form McHenry. The snow-covered pavement was slicker than she had assumed, and with the frozen marsh some thirty or forty feet below, Peggy attempted to slow down. Instead, the big car swerved and went into a 360-degree rotation. Peggy tensed immediately, trying frantically to remember what one was supposed to do to straighten a spinning car. But it was too late. She had lost control and the Lincoln was obviously going to plunge through the guardrail into the marsh below–there was nowhere else for it to go. Would she drown in a watery prison? Her little boys–what would become of them? “Oh, God,” she called as the Lincoln veered toward the posts, “help me!”

There was no other vehicles in view, and Peggy’s headlights were still the only illumination. But suddenly, in the dawn’s semidarkness, a warm glow lit the spinning car’s interior. At the same time, Peggy was filled with indescribably reassurance. The light warmed her, bathing her in contentment, and it was simply…..heavenly. She knew–without exactly knowing how she knew–that there was no reason to be afraid.

And yes, the car was still going–but somehow approaching the end of the bridge without crashing through the rail, now rolling down the side of the steep thirty-foot ditch to the marshland below, now, unbelievable, slowing in a small clearing. It came to a stop. The light immediately went out.

“I sat in the car in amazement, just praying and praising God for a few minutes,” Peggy recalls.

“Nothing like this ever happened to me before, and nothing quite as marvelous has happened since,” says Peggy.

Proverbs 14:30

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Greater Than Our Hearts

Prodigal: I am looking for the perfect strawberry.

Me: There is no perfect strawberry’s but a lot of good ones.

This is from the book Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey

God makes clear that he accepts us-more, delights in us–as individual bearers of his image. We do not always sense that divine love, of course. Self-doubt and despair may steal in, as had happened among those the apostle John was addressing. Sometimes “our hearts condemns us,” John acknowledges, but “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” When the New Testament translator J.B. Philips came across that passage from 1 John, it seemed to leap off the page. Phillips explains, “Like many others, I find myself something of a perfectionist, and if we don’t watch ourselves this obsession for the perfect can make us arrogantly critical of other people, and in certain moods, desperately critical of ourselves.” Phillips suffered from clinical depression, and when the dark moods descended he would wallow in condemnation and feel no mercy. Ever after, he clung to the words of that verse. “It is almost as if John is saying, “if God loves us, who are we to be so high and mighty as to refuse to love ourselves?”

Luke 11:35

Be careful therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Me: It’s getting dark.

Prodigal: It will be dark as a cup of truck-stop coffee soon.

Me: We should finish our walk then.

This is a short video devotion on proverbs

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 6:6

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Optical Illusions

Me: That looks like fruit.

Prodigal: It is just an illusion, it is painted on the table.

Me: You have to pay attention to tell the difference.

Prodigal: Paying attention is important.

This is from God Will Make A Way: Stories of Hope

Is what you see what you get?

Not always.

An entire room of a fifteenth-century Italian palace was once put on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. One wall of the room had twelve wooden cupboards whose open doors revealed about a hundred objects on the shelves, including an ancient hourglass, a celestial globe, old leather books, and various musical instruments. The wall space around the cupboards was paneled, and benches lined the sides of the room.

Unfortunately, some nearsighted visitors occasionally tried to it on those benches, only to discover that the entire room was an optical illusion. Each wall was a flat surface.

More than 500,000 pieces of wood in various shapes and colors had been used to create the perspective and shadows that made the walls of the room look three-dimensional.

We may think today that we are looking reality squarely in the face, but unless we accommodate the spiritual dimension of any particular person, activity, event, experience, or relationship, we are experiencing an optical illusion. We are not fully seeing the plan God has in mind. The only way to see the world as God sees it is to ask the Holy Spirit to impart that ability to us. We cannot see as God sees by our own willpower or design. Genuine insight and wisdom come from within and are possible only as we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in our lives.

What we regard as a failure may actually be the open door to a tremendous success. What we view as a limitation may truly be a protection. What we define as a trial may be a growing process. What we conclude to be a loss may actually be a gain. Only God can take the trials and tragedies in our lives and turn them into blessings.

Ask the Lord to give you His perspective and His understanding in every situation you face.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the thing which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

God Holds All Things Together

Prodigal: What is going on today?

Me: Aaron is falling over himself four ways to Friday trying to get here today.

Prodigal: Glad he could join us.

Me: Yes, and now I can share!

This is from Joni Eareckson Tada

God doesn’t just watch [harm] happen-he lets it happen. What is accidental from our perspective was specifically allowed by God. He who holds all things together must sustain the very molecules of the brick and axehead as they fly toward their mark (Colossians 3:17).

….Evil can only raise its head where God deliberately backs away–always for reasons that are specific, wise, and good, but often hidden during this present life…

….God sees the evil already there and steers it to serve his good purposes and not merely Satan’s viperous ones. It’s as if he says, “So you want to sin? Go ahead–but I’ll make sure you sin in a way that ultimately furthers my ends even while you’re shaking your fist in my face.” This is why we can accept troubles as ultimately from God even when the most dreadful people deliver them.

I think some of you are reading this and are confused. You have been dealing with sin from people who are serving Satan and not God. It is frustrating, it is hurtful and it is exhausting. You don’t dare say it out loud to others, but you think God forgot something in this plan. He forgot to stop some of these attacks. He forgot to bring you more blessings for having to go through them. He forgot to make them just stop!

Then you hear Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Are you tired of Romans 8:28? Are you convinced there is a loop hole for how this verse cannot apply to you?

Well, God’s word is true, but you may not be able to understand it now. Sometimes, time has to pass for us to understand the complicated,loving and detailed plan of our Father.

I don’t have an answer for you today, but what I do know that you can Trust GOD! He will not show you everything right now, but Satan is not winning. You are not failing and God will show you a way back to the mountain top!

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org