Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

an IV insertion  — October 19, 2022

an IV insertion 

For Jackie the IV was worse than the surgery! 

She gripped my hand, her pastor’s hand, while the beads of sweat rolled off her brow.  For nearly ten minutes the sweet nurse had tried to puncture Jackie’s rolling veins, hoping to insert the IV. 

But it wasn’t happening.  Now Jackie could stand up to an angry bear, but she cowered before the needle and the bag.  She was in pain, and her arm was starting to look like Swiss Cheese.

The nurse eventually excused herself and went to find some help.  At least that’s what we hoped. 

Jackie and I decided to convene a prayer meeting. Together we passionately pounded on the door of heaven asking God to guide the nurse’s needle.

Eight minutes later she returned and geared up for another stab at it. (oops that may be a pun).  Praise be to God – she found her target on the first try and all three of us breathed a huge sigh of relief. 

I thought I should tell the nurse that while she was away, Jackie and I prayed for her.  She replied, “Well I just came from the bathroom where I was also desperately praying!”

She fumbled with failure until she sought the Lord for success. 

I was reminded of the words that Paul penned in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Paul was relating to the church how he was able to get along financially.  Whether his account had plenty or was a pittance – he was able to manage because Christ strengthened him.

But he did use the word “all.”  My Seminary professor taught me that, “All means all, and that’s all that all means.”   So, Paul took that strengthening concept and applied it broadly to all of life – even to the insertion of an IV needle. 

The word “strengthen” is worth exploring.  The New Testament was written in Greek, and the word for strengthen is, “endunamao.” 

It is a compound word.   “En” is much like our English word “in.”   This tells us that the power that we get is poured “into” us from outside of us.

“Dunamao,” of course means, “to strengthen.”  Look closely and you can see the root of our English word “dyna-mite.” 

So, this is kind of like God inserting into us a spiritual IV line to empower us to do what we cannot do on our own. 

That’s good because there are so many things that we cannot adequately do. 

An essential part of my job as a hospice chaplain is to help a person prepare to die.  Oh, how I need the wisdom and strength of God as I sit with them and have those conversations. 

I watch my daughter as she juggles her duties as a wife and mother and co-manager of a thriving startup business.  She makes it a point to go to the Lord often seeking sanity and strength to help her cope. 

I pray often for my son who is a minister to teens.  He daily faces the adversity of the devil and the apathy of the culture.  He needs more than his natural gifting to reach those kids.   

Then there is my son the CEO.  He regularly faces tremendous challenges.  But the job has caused him to see that he can’t succeed without the Lord. 

As for my wife – she has to put up with me.  What more can I say?

As I have aged, I have come to realize that I must have misplaced my physical strength.  Maybe I left it with my bell bottoms!  I now need Him to put power in my muscles and bones.   He does that every time I mow the lawn.  

Well, there is a point to my IV story.  (oops another pun) 

We need God’s strength for success

A PRAYER: Lord, please fill our weakness with Your strength.

This has been Jim Johnson with pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

fatman and robin — July 15, 2020

fatman and robin

I have a fine feathered friend.  When I break out the lawnmower and plow through the yard, there is a robin that hops around and follows me.  He comes ridiculously close and is not a bit intimidated by the noise or the exhaust fumes. 

When I move from the back to the front yard he follows.  He flits away when I finish, but then he shows up promptly the next week when the rope pulls the engine to life again.  Thus far it’s been six weeks in a row.

He makes me feel special – like Snow White when the birds helped her clean up the dwarf house. 

The question is why?  Does he like the buzz he gets from the exhaust?  Or maybe he has a proclivity to my sweaty obesity or maybe mister redbreast knows that I used to have red hair. 

Well a little bird told me that robins largely prefer to dine on earthworms.  The worms evidently get aggravated when I mow the lawn.  They come out and ask, “Hey what’s all that racket?” 

Plus, I found a scholarly paper called EFFECTS OF GRASS LENGTH AND MOWING ON

FORAGING BEHAVIOR OF THE AMERICAN ROBIN (TURDUS MIGRATORIUS). (This is legit – no joke) The researcher found that robins overwhelmingly prefer shorter rather than longer lawns.  Well who doesn’t? 

So, when I cut the grass, the yard becomes the Golden Corral of the robin hood.

I guess you could say that the robin shows up each week because worms of goodness and mercy follow me whenever I mow the lawn (unless you look at it from the perspective of the worms.)

I do love that phrase in Psalm 23, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”    It suggests to me that the wake we Christians leave, as we pass through this life, should be a blessing and benefit to others – leaving good things behind and merciful deeds as a legacy. 

There is someone with whom I work that seems to understand this.  Even better – she lives it.  Stacy is a nurse who has made it her mission to care for the needs of those in hospice care.

Now hospice is a tough gig.  The purpose is to provide comfort and care to terminally ill people.  There is never a happy ending.  But Stacy is deeply motivated to do this out of compassion and her faith in Jesus. 

Just recently she and I made a simultaneous visit to a sweet frail octogenarian we’ll call Rosa.  It was inspiring to see Stacy in action again.  She brought with her a cheerful outlook.  Her words and the tone of her voice transformed the gloom in the room. 

She listened to Rosa’s heart with a stethoscope, but she was also attuned to her heart break as Rosa spoke of her sadness.  It is not unusual for Stacy to weep with her patients. 

Stacy had a busy day ahead of her, but she was not rushed.  Rosa was treated like a person and not an appointment.  

She often holds the hands of her patients and prays for them, but she deferred to me as the chaplain this time. 

After the blood pressure cuff and thermometer were stowed, Stacy lay down on the floor near Rosa’s wheelchair and gleefully painted her toenails.  (I don’t think Medicare covers that) 

As she left, I heard her say with a sweetness to her voice, “I love you Rosa.”   Rosa said, “I love you too.”  They both meant it.

Stacy’s patients are enveloped in the wake of the goodness and mercy she leaves behind her.

They know it and cherish it.  Often their eyes are lifted to the Savior that energizes this nurse. 

Now did you know that every hospice agency has a coordinator who arranges for volunteers to do things read books, play games, clean house, run errands and more for needful patients.   You could do it too!  If you live in East Texas, I would be delighted to get you connected!   Contact me.  If you live elsewhere, check out an agency nearby.

I probably should say that Stacy is only one of several amazing nurses with whom I work.  There are also wonderful aides, social workers and many others including we chaplains who handle our work with care and compassion. (PS: Except I don’t do toenails). 

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