Book Review: Handle with Care by Lore Ferguson Wilbert

handle with careAs someone who works at a church, we often have people come in who need help of some kind. Last week a young woman came who needed groceries. I gave her a form to complete and went to get them. I offered to carry them out for her and we chatted a bit on the way to her car. After I placed the sack in her car, she reached out and touched me on the arm and thanked me. Walking back to the church, I immediately thought of this book.  

In Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry, the author, Lore Ferguson Wilbert, examines how Jesus touched others throughout His ministry. She writes: Jesus touches the feeble and the women, the bleeding and the unclean, and the heads of adulterous women. He heals on the Sabbath using His hands. He touches the diseased and the children. He allows Himself to be touched too, by unclean people, women, snot-nosed kids, tax collectors and sinners. 

The author then explores how touch can be redeemed in the church, in our marriage, and in the people we meet each day. This book caused me to think of how I need to intentionally touch my mom and grandmother, both widows, whether it be with a hug or kiss on the cheek. Wilbert’s words in regard to touch in marriage challenged me to show love to my husband by just holding his hand or rubbing his back at night. Simple gestures of love that we have lost through the years. My eyes are now open for the hurting, the abused, and the down and out, that may not know the sincere touch of someone who cares for them. 

If Jesus is our ministry example, and He is, then appropriate touch done in love and compassion will be a part of our ministry to others. Wilbert reminds us: Though the world cannot touch Jesus, it can touch us. And Christ is in us. In a profound way, when the world comes into contact with us, it comes in contact with Him. In other words, we are the way the Thomases of this world gain their sight.

Next time, I want to be the one who reaches out to give that touch or hug and not the other way around. I want them to see Christ in me.

Lore Ferguson Wilbert has encouraged me for many years at her blog Sayable. She writes thoughtfully, truthfully and always points her readers to Christ. I received an advance reader’s copy from B&H Publishers. Learn more about Handle with Care and a wonderful gift package if you pre-order at handlewithcarebook.com.

A Year of Change

mountains nature arrow guide

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

As I reflect over the past year one word comes to my mind: change. This has been a year of changes. It began with my Dad passing away on January 4 from lung cancer. You can read about our last days with him here. The first few months I adjusted well, but it seems as the one year anniversary of his death looms near, a quiet sadness has overcome me. 

In August, after much prayer and wrestling, Doug and I felt it was time to leave the church we had attended for several years. Another change that brought a loss of close friendships, but the gain of new friends. We are adapting to our new church family and seeking where we can serve there. 

The first week of October, my mom experienced a mild stroke. There doesn’t seem to be any lasting effects from it for which I am very thankful. The stroke would be followed by several Afib episodes that landed her in the hospital for three weekends in a row. I moved in with her to help care for her. Doug stays at our house and I run in and out to gather things each week. That craziness finally became too much and we decided as a family to move in together in one house. Unfortunately, neither one of our houses could properly accommodate all of us. God has always provided for us, and once again He proved faithful and led us to a house within just three days. 

A few months ago I began to pray for the Lord to work a servant’s heart in me. One that naturally serves from a heart of devotion to Him and not self. While I would have preferred Him sending me to a homeless shelter, God has used this year of changes to begin that work in my heart. Caring for a loved one exposed my selfish heart and caused me to cry out to the Lord for help. 

I don’t know what 2020 holds. I hope the only change will be in me. My changeless God working in my heart for my good and His glory. 

How has your year been? What word would you use to describe 2019?

 

Whitey Dog, Christmas and Dad’s Final Days

Lamp and Ball jarMy Dad loved dogs. So it was only fitting that a large, yellow-white dog showed up one day at the house. We called him Whitey. He roamed between the yards of Dad’s house and our neighbors. He was there as we helped Dad get into the van for a doctor’s appointment or ER visit. Upon our return, he ran to greet us. One evening carolers stood outside the patio door to sing for Dad. Here came Whitey, taking his spot beside a little girl who was usually scared of dogs but for some reason not of him. Dad quietly sang some parts to the songs under his breath. My tears flowed at the sound of his voice and the sacredness of the moment.

We finally made it to the chemo education appointment. Dad decided that he would not do the chemo and radiation. Hospice began to come to the house three times a week to drain his lung. He continued to not be able to eat. He lost more weight and weakened.

My sister, Cassie and her husband, Tyler came down from Minnesota for our last Christmas together. It would be their first time seeing him since his diagnosis. They stepped right in to care for him and for us. My sister cooked us meals, tended to Dad and even got to have her own trip to the emergency room with him. She came up with a great Christmas idea for us: we would get ornaments and pictures that represented some memories we wanted to share with him and go through them on Christmas morning. 

A few days later, it was time for her to say goodbye and travel back home. I can’t imagine the sadness and pain she experienced as she said goodbye to Dad knowing she would not see him again. He stood at the glass door watching as they pulled away. How hard for him, too.

New Year’s Day arrived. Nothing to celebrate. Dad finally realized he could no longer stay in his recliner and moved to the hospital bed. Close friends came to visit. He and Mom held hands a lot. One evening he seemed almost himself, making jokes and laughing. But that quickly passed, and he began to weaken even more. On Thursday, January 3rd, the hospice nurse told us she didn’t think he would make it through the weekend. His eyesight was gone and he wasn’t able to talk. But she said he could hear and we should talk to him. I noticed Whitey was now sitting at the patio door. He had never done that before. Mom and I agreed that he probably sensed something was wrong and wanted to be there. Later in the evening, Doug and I stood at his bedside and Doug read Dad’s favorite scripture, Psalm 100, to him. He also promised him that he need not worry about Kay; he would take care of her.

Mom, Doug and I all knew he wasn’t going to make it through the night. Mom asked Doug to move our vehicles in preparation for the funeral home director to be able to get in to remove his body. Around 2:15am, we three gathered around him holding his now cold hands and weeping. We watched each rise and fall of his chest wondering if it would be the last. At 2:44am on Friday, January 4th, Dad did breathe his last and his chest rested.

Through it all, Dad was never angry or questioned God. He walked by faith, knowing that Jesus would be in his sight when He passed from death to eternal life. Whitey was never seen again. I like to think he ran beside the vehicle carrying Dad as it was leaving the driveway and he ran until he could run no more.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(English Standard Version)

Posts in this series:
Impending Doom and Dad’s Diagnosis
Food Fights and Cancer Staging