Saturday, December 28, 2013

My New Book: The Ultimate Girls' Body Book!

Publication Update: My new book, The Ultimate Girls' Body Book: Not-So-Silly Questions About Your Body, released in January! Published by Zondervan and coauthored with Dr.Walt Larimore, the book helps equip girls and the adults who love them during the change-packed years of puberty. Full of humor and fun stories, it is written from a Christian perspective to help girls see themselves through God's eyes as they grow into the women God created them to be. 

Having spent Thanksgiving with one of my BFFs (of more than thirty years!), I love thinking that the stories of true friendship I share in the book will help growing girls make wise choices. We cover everything from periods to pimples to bras, healthy boundaries with social media and much more! A panel of experts and mother-daughter teams helped us write a relevant, accurate resource. I am very thankful for each of them. 

Please join me in thanking God for the blessing of speaking into young girls' lives and pray with me that God will be glorified through this meaningful project. And, if you have a few minutes, learn more about the book by listening to my interview with Jo Rathmanner from January 3rd on Connecting Faith Live. And thank you for helping me spread the word!

Dr Mari

 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

For more on my books as well as testimonials, please visit my author website

To read a tribute to my beautiful and inspiring mother, go to Lessons I Learned Watching Mom.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Blessed Christmas!

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; 
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned....
For to us a child is born, 
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called 
Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace." 
(Isaiah 9:2,6, Old Testament)

The prophet Isaiah wrote the words in Isaiah 9 hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. 
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to many people, and the New Testament is filled with accounts of His saving acts while He walked the earth and, later, 
through those who believed in Him. 

Christmas means the Light of Christ has dawned in our dark world, making the way to eternal life available to us. Like the wise men, we want to follow that Light, for it leads to Life.
This is why we rejoice ... Christ's birth means Hope! 

Here's what the apostle Paul, a man transformed by the love of Jesus, believed about Him,

 "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, 
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; 
all things have been created through him and for him. 
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 
And he is the head of the body, the church; 
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, 
so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 
and through him to reconcile to himself all things, 
whether things on earth or things in heaven, 
by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." 
(Colossians 1:15-20, New Testament)

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
(Luke 2:14, New Testament)

Have a blessed Christmas season full of the joy, hope, and peace that come from knowing, believing, and following Jesus, our Savior and Lord!

Dr. Mari 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Season of Light

During Advent, this glorious Season of Light, I remember all that Christ has done for me. 
I lift up my eyes to my Maker and thank Him for being my God, my Healer, and my All. 

I invite you to keep Advent in your heart this year, slowing down to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. Like Mary, may we ponder the miracle of Jesus and make room for Him in our hearts. When we invite Him in, what we've said yes to is healing, restoration, and hope. 
His arrival means Life!

This poem I wrote a few months ago is being published in the next edition of HEAL Magazine. It summarizes what Christ has done and continues to do every day as I remain close to Him.

When we pray to God in our despair, He meets us there. 
He is our Emmanuel God with us
Here's a sneak peek.

my life

b - r - o - k - e - n


m - e - n - d - e - d

Prepare a manger for Christ in your heart, for He longs to give you Life.

Have a blessed Advent and Christmas,
Dr Mari

"'He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.'"
(Luke 1:32-33)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
(John 1:5)

For more reflections about Advent, read Advent Word of the Day: Devotion.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Season of Thanks

As we approach the week set aside to give thanks, it is good to remember that living each day with a thankful heart is powerful. While praying with my family last night, our sweet daughter prayed,

"Lord, we all have so much already, but we sometimes want more. You have given us everything we need. Help us, Lord, to be thankful. Help us move out of the season of greed into the season of thanks. Help us with this, Lord. Help us really understand what it means to be thankful."

I am so thankful for my children, for they help me see God and know His heart. Here's the psalm our eleven year-old son wrote for Bible class.

"Praise be to the Lord. 

He has blessed us. 
Allow Him to be exalted higher than the heavens. 

He cares for His People. 
Make forth great celebrations in His name. 

He has shown us mercy. 
Allow Him a place in your heart. 
He created it and blessed it. 

Thank Him for creation.
He has given us it.

Love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. 
His love is infinite."

May we be thankful for God's blessings each day and remain in a season of thanks in our hearts.

Dr Mari

Prayer by H.W., Psalm by J.W. All Rights Reserved.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6,7

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Healing is Possible ... And It Starts With Me

This weekend I experienced a moving time of worship at a concert by All Sons & Daughters and Tim Timmons. It would be inaccurate to simply call it a concert; it was an experience of God's presence and an opportunity to thank Him with our voices and our hearts. I especially enjoyed watching so many young people kneeling and praying alongside their friends, together, in worship. I have many new favorite songs, including Great Are You Lord, God With Us, and Called Me Higher (by All Sons & Daughters).

Another new favorite is Tim Timmons' Starts With Me. He shared his story of finding hope in Christ when dealing with what doctors deemed an impossible medical challenge. But in Matthew 19:26, Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Twelve years after he was told he wouldn't live beyond five years, Tim Timmons travels the country telling others about the God who redeems, restores, and makes us whole.

As a doctor, I point toward God whenever people experience healing and thank me for it. Although we can all be instruments of healing in various ways, it is the Healer who works through us every timeWe are the broken; He is the Healer.

Malachi 4:2 proclaims, “But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.” Such a promise makes me want to thank my Healer and give Him all the glory!

Lord, help us come to You as we are, 
broken and in need of Your healing touch. 
May we experience the joy
that comes from trusting You with our lives. 
For when we fall on our knees and surrender to Your will, 
our life begins. 

I agree with Tim Timmons that revival starts with me. It starts with each one of us ... on our knees ... trusting a loving, all-powerful God who loves us and gave everything for us.

May we, too, give Him everything.

Trust Him!
Dr Mari

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” (James 1:17)

Photograph by Manuel Diaz Photography. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Compassion Wears Pink: The Power of Shared Suffering

A firefighter in a pink firetruck wearing a pink fire suit? I never thought I'd see it. But that's what I saw this week in a TV interview with Josh Baker of Pink Heals and Liesa Miles, a beloved Spanish teacher. The interview aired on The Good Life and can be viewed here.

Most of us call her Profe (short for professor), a perfect name for one whose life is a lesson in strength, courage, and faith. She is our Profe!

When asked by Barbara Beck what she tells her two sons and husband about not knowing what the future holds while battling breast cancer, here's some of what Profe had to say:

"Know that you must rest on Scripture. We've never been promised easy, we've never been promised health.... In fact, quite the opposite ... we will have times of trouble, and those are the times when we persevere and we get stronger and we grow. And it is our job to bring attention to God during those times."

This inspiring woman of faith has kept her sense of humor, radiance, and joy while walking a tough path. She jokes, "I'm not a girly girl and that is the joke, that God sent me breast cancer so I'd have to wear pink." 

Profe reminds me of my mother, who walked through the challenge of breast cancer with courage, grace, and dignity, never losing her joy or her selflessness. Her example and legacy still impact my life. More than twenty years later, she continues to inspire all who knew her.

This resemblance is precisely why Profe is in my heart so strongly. I can see my mother's love, strength, and integrity in her. I also love seeing how she allows God to use her to strengthen others through her suffering. That is a tremendous gift.

I've come to understand something powerful about healing, compassion, and our bond as human beings. There truly is a purpose in suffering, and this realization transforms the experience into something helpful and even hopeful. Redemption is possible. In fact, with Christ in our lives, redemption is our destiny. For "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

I leave you with some verses that help us understand the purpose of suffering a little bit better. I am thankful for people like Profe and my mother who help us learn to suffer with grace, faith, humor, dignity, and purpose. Thank You, Lord, for blessing my life with people like them.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 
Romans 8:17-18

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings.
Philippians 3:10 

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
Colossians 1:24 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
Romans 5:1-4

“I have told you these things, so that in me (Jesus) you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 

God's ways are the path of life. May we rest on His promises and follow only Him, the source of strength, hope, and life.

In Hope,
Dr Mari 

For more inspiration, see Living on Mission: What's That All About? 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

From My Heart to Yours: A Prayer and A Song

Here's the cry of my heart as I continue to intercede for so many people I love who are suffering or in the midst of great spiritual battles. My prayer is that your minds will be renewed with God's Word, that every lie will be drowned out by the Truth, grace, and life found on every page of God's holy Word.

During times of great need, my prayers get so simple. Invariably, in that simplicity, I meet God. I am found. And in His presence, I am healed. May this be your experience as you call on Him and seek His face.

I pray for all of you in the words of Paul, a man transformed by the love of Christ,

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 
(Ephesians 3:14-21)

I invite you to meditate on every verse in this passage from Ephesians, to read it several times today and every day for a season and reflect deeply on its truth and hope. Let it renew your mind and give you a fresh start that fans into flame the gift of your faith in Christ.

And may this song help you as you pray and trust.

Be still and know that I am God. 
(Psalm 46:10)

Be still.
Dr Mari

Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through Me.'
(John 14:6) 

'No weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from Me,'
declares the Lord.
(Isaiah 54:17) 

For more inspiration, read Trust: A Pathway to Peace

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thirst No More

A few months ago, the hospital floor where I was scheduled to speak was flooded, forcing much last-minute scrambling. Thanks to the organizer's diligence and faith, we were still able to meet and hear the message God had for us that morning. I also lost my voice two days before the talk, which forced me on a silent retreat that moved the talk in a whole new direction. Though I wouldn't describe it as a flood, I experienced God's living waters while preparing and speaking that day. It is hard to describe, so I won't try, but you can read more about it here.

Ever since that day, there's been a recurrent theme of water in my spiritual journey. I love times like this when God's Word continually drives home the same message. I can't imagine a better message for me during this season of life -- a season of waiting.

Are you in a season of waiting? Are you wondering why God's gone silent? In the waiting, are you in need of a fresh experience of God's living waters?

Here's a bit of encouragement to refresh you as you wait on God. The first verse may not sound encouraging, but it is ... because of its helpful warning. As we wait on God, we must resist the temptation to dig our own cisterns!

"'My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.... Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,' 
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
(Jeremiah 2:13, 19b)

Jesus' words below inspire the sense of awe God says we need,

"On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,  
'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, 
rivers of living water will flow from within them.'” (John 7:37-38)

What a promise!

Two thousand years ago, Jesus went to Samaria and sat down by Jacob's well in the town of Sychar. "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" (John 4:7)

Imagine that! The God of the universe asking you for a drink!

Knowing that Jews did not associate with Samaritans, she said to him, "'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?'

"Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.... Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life'" (John 4:9-10,13-14).

I don't know about you, but I'm thirsty. I'm thirsty often. And like the Samaritan woman, I have found that Jesus keeps his word. When I come to him thirsty, I am no longer thirsty. He satisfies the soul. He IS the Living Water my soul needs.

So speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. I am thirsty for Your Word. Your living Word. I am thirsty for Your Truth. Your Wisdom. Your Life.
I give you my broken cisterns, Lord. Feed my soul with Your living water, and I shall live.

Dr Mari

Photo by Manuel Díaz Photography. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My New Promotion: A Life of Grace

“As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

What a beautiful verse from Peter, a man known for being more than a little rough around the edges. This fisherman-turned-fisher-of-souls struggled with his promotion. In fact, after the One he followed was repaid for a ministry of love, service, and healing on a lonely cross, Peter returned to what he knew. He went back to fishing. Yet, having been promoted to a new ministry, the fishing experience was simply not the same, and the catch was disappointing.

Once Peter began to grasp that, as promised, Jesus defeated death, the grave, and the power of sin, Peter regained a sense of purpose, and he was ready to give his own life for the sake of Jesus.

Peter’s life was transformed through a relationship with the living God. Not exactly known for his social graces or interpersonal skills, Peter’s heart clearly softened after his transformation. He became interested in others’ well-being and the state of their hearts and souls. Peter embraced his new calling as God's ambassador of grace, and his focus shifted from earthly things to eternal things.

“As each has received a gift,” said Peter, “employ it in serving one another.” He understood that all gifts come from above for a reason. Our gifts are not for hoarding, and they are certainly not for boasting. We are to serve one another with our gifts.

Peter reminds every follower of Jesus that we’ve been promoted by the King. Our gifts have eternal purposes. Peter calls us to be good “managers of the grace of God in its various forms.” As servants of Christ, sent by Him to finish His work on earth, we are managers of God’s grace.  

We are not called to be managers and manipulators of people or events. Peter says that we are to manage God’s grace, dispensing it in season and out of season. Like a river bringing sustenance downstream, we've been given a gift ... to share.

God has entrusted His grace to us; this calls for good stewardship.

God’s grace, God’s unmerited favor that flows from the love He’s lavished on us, is the gift that keeps on giving. As we share God's love with others, their ability to love increases. When we share a smile and offer kindness to a stranger, God's love is manifest. When we give without expecting something in return, the recipient experiences God's grace flowing like a river.

As when we love others, God's grace multiplies when it is shared. Here are a few more thoughts on grace:

"One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend" (Proverbs 22:11).

"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

"With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them" (Acts 4:33-34a).

"For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14).

Like Peter, we've been promoted. We are instruments of grace, love, and peace. Let us embrace our promotion and become willing ministers of God's grace, spreading His goodness and love in this broken world.

Dr Mari

For more on God's gift of grace, read Second Chances: Heaven's Heart.

Photograph by Manuel Diaz Photography. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Healthy New Land for Military Families

Bratland. I like the word. It is one that military families everywhere will recognize. Thankfully, they won't need to transfer to a new station in a different country to find it. Bratland is in cyberspace, in the corner where Compassion and Hope meet.

This healthy new land is a place where military families--children and their parents--can find encouragement, inspiration, and hope. My faithful readers will remember the Little Pink Books and the Little Patriot Books I translated and edited over the last few years. Written with a touch of whimsy by Maryann Makekau and beautifully illustrated by her talented son, these books help people going through tough journeys like Alzheimer's, cancer, and military deployments. You can find links to the different titles by scrolling down the right column of my blog. You will also find links there to my Health & Hope Corner at Hope Matters.

Follow this link to my latest contribution to their blog, A Doctor's Welcome to a Healthy New Land: Bratland! And let your military friends know so they can pack their imaginary bags and check in.

Because hope matters,
Dr Mari

Friday, August 2, 2013

Let the Voiceless Speak: A story of faith in action

This week I had a heart-warming experience of God's faithfulness and the importance of trusting Him. For the last nine months, I've been invited to speak to various groups to share the story of what God has done in my life. This week I was scheduled to speak to a group of faith community (parish) nurses at a local hospital. The organizer of the event is a lovely woman with whom I connected right away, and I sensed her deep faith instantly. I couldn't wait to be among them to share how God continues to transform my practice of medicine into a ministry.

Two days before the talk, I lost my voice completely. After using all my doctor tricks to heal my vocal cords, I woke up around four in the morning on the day of the talk ... still voiceless. I tested my voice and out came a shriek. So I said to God, "Well, that won't do, will it? How will I share about You with no voice, Lord?"

God replied, "Rest. You will have your voice by then."

So I went back to bed in peace. As the hours passed, my voice slowly strengthened, and I had just enough sound by noon. I gave the talk as planned, and we had a beautiful time together in spite of my husky voice.

Two more things happened that were significant. A flood on the hospital floor where the talk was scheduled forced a sudden location change. So the organizer and others scrambled to find a new location, reorder lunch, and inform the participants by phone of the last-minute change. I was ready for a very small crowd.

It turns out that, as in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit was hovering over those waters, and He was about to do a new thing in me and among us.

I was forced into a two-day silent retreat right before my talk, which deepened the message and moved it in a new direction. For God uses all things for His purposes, and what the enemy means for harm, God uses for good.

So during my two days of silence, feeling like Zechariah (John the baptist's dad), I was led to God's Word. I delved into John 15, where Jesus reminds us of the absolute need for us to abide in Him continually, not just every so often.

As I meditated on this chapter, I remembered something I'd noticed years ago. The word remain appears eleven times in the first eleven verses. Hear the words of Jesus,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love." 
(John 15:1-10)

Let us remain in the Vine, for that is how we can be fruitful, spreading the goodness, love, and hope that will bless a hurting world. As we remain in His love and show it through our obedience, we can expect to see and experience the living waters of His Spirit. And there is nothing better and more needed than that.

Dr Mari

Photo by Manuel Díaz Photography. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Living on Mission: What's That All About? (Part I)

A few days ago, our family hugged our teenager goodbye as he joined a small group of classmates and headed for Costa Rica on his first mission trip overseas. As we keep counting the days until his return, our prayers continue to rise for the team and everyone they'll meet. As I pray for him, my heart is filled with joy, for my life was transformed while on a mission to Guatemala many years ago.

Some wonder why people leave the safety of their homes and countries to minister overseas when there are so many needs right here in our own backyards. While this is true, time spent serving way outside of our comfort zones in a new culture can transform our hearts and minds and give us a new appreciation for our calling back home. Seeing the needs of others while living among them and leaving behind what is familiar and comfortable helps us grasp how blessed we are, and we often begin to live on mission at home upon our return.

For years I've longed to bring my teenager on an overseas mission, but he kept saying, No, then, Not yet. Although we've had many opportunities to serve in this country, we've never served on a short-term mission overseas. It wasn't until my son took a class on Mission at school that a desire for such an experience sprung out of his own heart.

The one-week class was taught by Profe, a woman who lives every day with a mission perspective. The daughter of missionaries and raised overseas, she truly lives with purpose, seeing God's hand in every circumstance, sharing Christ's love, and teaching others to do the same. I am so grateful that God continues to use people like her in the lives of my children. Such blessings speak to me of God's faithfulness, His sovereignty, and His wonderful and perfect plan.

Truly, we can trust Him. He is good.

Please join me in praying for the mission team and, especially, for Christ to reveal himself to those on the team and to everyone to whom they minister and through whom they will be blessed.

Dr Mari

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, 
and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;  
give thanks to him and praise his name.  
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; 
 his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100:1-5

My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all. 
Psalm 71:15

You can read a short story about my medical mission to Guatemala here.

For Parts II and III of this series on Mission, read Living on Mission: A Look Back and Living on Mission: Compassion Trumps Fear.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Stone of Hope: Reflections on Freedom

I had the blessing of spending this fourth of July at our nation's capital. While there, we visited the memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr and found it deeply inspiring. Walking through the lighted path that leads to the statue of MLK was like stepping into history itself. Two fountain walls on either side reminded me of the Reverend's timeless words, "We shall not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." His words of wisdom fill the walls surrounding the striking monument that stands tall in the center with a reminder that from the "mountain of despair" can emerge a "stone of hope."

As I continue to reflect on the meaning of freedom and how we can become its ambassadors, I share King's dream that one day "every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain ... made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight ... the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."

Together. Something about that word stirs my soul. It brings me back to an experience we had in New York City just a few days before arriving in DC.

Not far from Columbia University, we found a pizza shop with slices as large as bed sheets. As we sat down to eat, a man walked in, headed straight for the trash and stuck his hand in it to find lunch. Stunned, I watched him pull out pieces of half-eaten crust and bread sticks and throw them in his bag. Holding back tears, I shared some of our pizza and watched him walk out, still gripping his bag of scraps. He thanked us and, head down, found a spot on the crowded sidewalk for a makeshift table.

I never saw his eyes.

Clearly, some rough places in this man's life have not been made plain, and crooked places remain crooked. The reality of his life is a challenge for me to step out of my comfortable world and remember to meet the needs of the hungry in body, soul, and spirit. For too many, King's dream remains a distant reality. Yet, there is hope for them as long as somebody sees their need and cares enough to do something to meet it.

Truly, no one is free until we're all free. The reality of unmet basic needs like food, shelter, and dignity is a call for all of us to act, to do something, to do our part. By the mountain of our neighbor's despair, we can stand tall as stones and ambassadors of hope.

How can we do it today?

Spread hope!
Dr Mari

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6)

"If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one." (Mother Teresa)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Healing, Faith, and Love: A Father's Day Tribute

In Luke 4:38-44, Peter Simon's mother-in-law was "suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them" (v.38-39).

I love that this healing involves Simon’s own mother-in-law. When Jesus calls us into ministry, we, too, witness the miraculous in our midst, even with our loved ones. I experienced this with my father.

Years ago, I traveled home to Puerto Rico when Dad’s heart began to fail. I found him at the coronary step-down unit after a “small heart attack.” Although he looked strong, I knew how weak his heart had become, its pumping capacity having dropped to a mere fifteen percent. His heart was seriously failing.

Though I’d prayed for Dad for years, I’d never prayed with him—and it was time. When I timidly asked if I could pray with him, his eyes lit up! So I laid my hand on Dad’s chest and prayed like a child who knew this could be her last week with Daddy—even her last hour.

There were no fireworks, no visible angels, and no physical changes that I could detect. But as I prayed, I knew that my father would be okay. And not just his physical heart, but his spiritual heart as well. I gained a complete peace about his physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being that became an anchor for my soul and a comfort to my family and to him. 
Papi lived for three more years with an implanted defibrillator and fulfilled many of his lifelong dreams in that short time, including becoming a published author—twice! 

More importantly, I believe that my father gave his life over to Christ. Our last years together were the best in our relationship. We grew closer as he became more alive, at peace, and full of joy. As with Simon’s mother-in-law, Jesus stepped into my house, where He continues to draw my family to Himself one person at a time.

Is there someone in your life that needs you to step out in faith and pray with him or her? Be courageous, have faith, and pray. Our God delights to answer.

Walking by faith,
Dr Mari 

* This is an excerpt from my book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare. I post it in memory of my father, a humble and sincere man of integrity whose intelligence, creativity, and sense of humor blessed us. ¡Te amo, papi! Recordarte me hace sonreir. (I love you, Daddy! I smile when I think of you.) *

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Faith, Love, and Rest: An Author's Journey

Since the publication of my devotional, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare, I've been busy with speaking engagements, travel, interviews, and many opportunities to share my message of hope. In the midst of a healthcare crisis, it's been a tremendous blessing to help so many colleagues regain a sense of meaning and purpose in medicine. As is so often the case when we give of ourselves, there have been many unexpected blessings, such as working alongside inspiring colleagues from whom I've learned and received much encouragement. I am grateful for every one of them.

Of the different experiences I've had over six months, a few stand out. I was invited to speak at the annual conference for the Christian Community Health Fellowship in Atlanta. Dr. John Perkins and Dr. Jeff Trask reminded us that as we care for the poor, we must examine our hearts and allow the relationships to change us -- including any wrong attitudes and misconceptions we may have. They challenged us to be transformed in our thinking and in our actions, which is precisely what Christ wants to do with each of us.

As I shared my story of walking with Jesus in healthcare, a sense of shared purpose in medicine filled the room. After my talk, nurses and doctors pulled me aside to share their stories of caring for people from the heart as well as their struggles in medicine. I prayed with many of these servants in healthcare, wounded healers like me who continually call on God to help them love the people they serve. I left the conference even more inspired than I was when I arrived (and I was already pretty fired up!).

At the Physician Well-being Conference in Florida, I was given the opportunity to read portions of my book to a room full of doctors, and something quite unexpected happened. As I read about Mother Teresa caring for a dying man she found on the streets of Calcutta, I could not hold back my heartfelt tears, and neither could my colleagues. In four years of medical school, three years of residency, and more than sixteen years in practice, I'd never experienced such a corporate healing. It was a beautiful experience that left many of us speechless.

We need more opportunities to grieve the losses and experience the joys of healthcare together, so that our hearts may be lighter as we care for people. In this field, we can't stop for very long. By necessity, we move from room to room with little time to take in, process, and recover from all we just heard from suffering human beings. It's scary to think how many in healthcare are emotional ticking bombs, weighed down by unexpressed (and often unidentified) grief.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus knows how much we need to stop, rest, and heal.

Since November, I've spoken to nurses, physicians, caregivers, churches, healing ministries, elementary and high school students, and more. I've had precious moments with nurses, therapists, caregivers, and doctors who shared their hearts with me. And I've met authors and colleagues I've admired for years. All amazing experiences, joyful and humbling.

After six months of constant activity, I now have the gift of rest, since my next talk isn't until next month. As I slow down a bit, I continue to ponder the verse that's become so meaningful this year. In Galatians 5:6, the apostle Paul said,

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  

As I rest and get re-energized, I recognize that these words hold the key to our calling. All the good works in the world mean nothing if love is not behind them, whether we're writing books, trying to inspire others with our words, serving the poor, or helping someone die with dignity. 

Self-seeking, selfishness, and pride stand ready to derail us. We must love, and genuine love is selfless, like Jesus. It focuses on others.

Our faith finds its truest expression in love. And to love like Jesus, we must know Him. As I rest, I rest in Him, seeking to know Him more, that I may love like Him.

Dr. Mari 

To learn more about my devotional, visit my author site. And thank you to all my readers for your encouragement, support, and love.


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