It’s All About the Heart

For over a year now my precious husband has been making a funny sound. And it’s not funny as in “LOL” but as in “bizarre.”   To make it more curious, the sound is positional, meaning it is only produced when he goes to bed at night and lies on his left side. Furthermore, I don’t like the sound.

Knowing a little bit about blood flow, I’m not envisioning good things when I hear this sound. Our heart has four rooms, or chambers as we call them. Blood visits these four rooms. Blood returning to our heart makes its first stop into our right atrium. Then flows on down to our right ventricle. After it grabs some oxygen from the lungs it enters into our left atrium and then flows into the last room of our heart, the left ventricle. From there it goes on its journey through our body delivering oxygen to our cells like FedEx delivers packages to our door. Except our blood is also kinda like the garbage truck and picks up our cells’ trash while it’s there, but that’s a more lengthy post I suppose.

So. Considering that the last room our blood visits before it’s grand journey throughout the body is the left ventricle, and considering that my hubby makes an involuntary sound when laying on his left side at night, would make any person push for a professional assessment.

It took a year. First I suggested. Then I nudged. Nudging turned into pushing. Pushing turned into nagging. And then, as I’ve been known to do a time or two, I took matters into my own hands and called myself to make a cardiology appointment.

Puzzled. That’s what I would describe the cardiologist’s response. Brandon is not what we call symptomatic. He has no SOB. (I threw that in to be funny. But really, he doesn’t. That’s what we say in healthcare for shortness of breath). He can run without any issues. While he’s not as lean as he’d prefer, it’s not like he’s really overweight. And his EKG showed no concern with his heart’s electrical activity.

But his cardiologist was again, puzzled. Therefore, we went for an echo to get a little gander of the structure of his heart.

It’s amazing really that we don’t have to have a perfect heart for it to work well and sufficiently meet our body’s need. Which at the same time is both incredible and crazy. And realizing this provides much spiritual insight.

Ever wonder why there are so many scriptures about the heart? I mean why did the psalmist not say, “I will praise you O Lord my God with all my kidney”?

Instead the Psalm says in chapter 86 verse 12 of the NKJV, “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore.”

When we think about shock it definitely makes sense.

Blood shunts toward two vital organs when one’s body goes into shock. And they are two organs we read about so much in scripture. The heart and the brain.

Patients can lose limbs out of the physiological changes a body makes to preserve the heart and the brain. Reduced peripheral perfusion means it all shunts to the core.

See, I believe the science reveals the Creator and what He is telling us. Every part of our body is significant, every organ is vital, but the heart and the mind are core to who we are, not only for our physical existence but our spiritual life as well.

And while we give much attention to public service announcements, and funds to foundations researching and saving the lives of our physical hearts and brains, it is our spiritual hearts and brains that are most vulnerable to injury.

Psalm 7:9 NLT “End the evil of those who are wicked, and defend the righteous. For You look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God.”

The Israelites used the words “heart” and “mind” as virtual synonyms to refer to a person’s innermost center of conscious life. To ask God to look deep within the heart and mind, means we are inviting Him to examine the hidden places of our heart, and the hidden places of our thoughts. It’s asking Him to perform His own echocardiogram and get detailed with us, evaluating the structure of our character and motive.

And that is something that is not natural. It is part of our human nature to hide. I mean, do you remember when sin entered into the lives of Adam and Eve? They realized they were as naked as a jaybird and what did they do? They hid.

Asking the Lord to examine our heart and mind is the most significant thing we can do in our pursuit of a growing relationship with Him, because it may be hard to work on the hidden places He uncovers. Maybe we like some of the stuff we’ve got tucked away in the rooms of our heart. Maybe we find some enjoyment in those secret thoughts we revisit here and there. Maybe we’re wanting all the goodness of God but we’re not quite sure about cleaning out and throwing away what we’ve got in those rooms.

But if we are to have a healthy spiritual life, we have to protect our core.

We can’t fill our mind with garbage and pollute our heart with impurity and still experience true living. No. That kind of living is a crisis-mode life. It’s living in a constant state of shock.

And God did not call us to live in critical condition. He called us to live abundantly and victoriously.

So how?

Well here is a scripture from Psalm 51:10 to post on your wall, mirror, fridge or car and wholeheartedly pray,

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

Friends! We have to be renewed! Daily! We are just people. We’re not living as supernatural beings. We’re flesh and we need to continually draw near to the Lord to be renewed and strengthened.

Then ask Him to change the way we think. Talk about a new mindset. Setting our thoughts on things above has some major influence on taking us from a critical state to a powerful state. Romans 12:2 in the NLT says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” If you want to have a healthy mind, ask the Lord to change the way you think. It’ll be different from the norm, but it will guide you to such goodness. It’s a kind of goodness that sticks with you even in the midst of difficulty.

Last one. Anticipate your mouth to follow. When you set your mind on things above, you think differently. And when you think differently, you sound differently. I’m not talking about the bizarre, out-of-the ordinary sound my husband makes when lying on his left side. No. I’m talking about what Jesus tells us about our hearts in Luke 6:45. “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Remember, we don’t have to have a perfect heart for it to work well. We simply need to allow it to be examined and treated by the hand of our loving Father.

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Fear

We all learn something about fear as we’re growing up. We have unsound fear; like the darkness or the boogieman. We have protective fear; as in looking both ways before crossing a street or keeping our hands away from a hot stove. Fear is something both healthy and unhealthy.

My Pastor of seventeen years, Gary Rogers defined fear as, False Evidence Appearing Real. In his article, The (Only) 5 Fears We All Share, Dr. Karl Albrecht offers a definition of fear to be an anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation 
of some imagined event or experience. Merriam-Webster defines the noun as, an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger; a feeling of being afraid; a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful.

Let’s think about the descriptive word Merriam-Webster offers, an “unpleasant” emotion. I would say so. My Grandma lived right next door to me when I was growing up. We shared the same driveway. Not too far to walk. Unless it was in the dark! I remember my Mom would hold the door open to watch me walk past our front porch, dart across the driveway where I felt I would be attacked by coyotes (we live in the country, so it seemed to be a rationale fear to me), all the meanwhile Grandma would be standing there waiting for me with her door open. What high maintenance. As badly as I wanted to spend the night with my Grandma, the hop, skip and jump to her house was highly “unpleasant” at night.

We’re familiar with fear. Regardless of psychological research or formal definitions, we understand the feeling of fear.

So what good can come from fear? Scripture tells us the role of fear as one of reverence.

Deuteronomy 13:4 Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

Psalm 31:19 How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.

Proverbs 1:7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

And the One whom we stand in reverent fear is the One who holds each and every unpleasant emotion, each and every anxious feeling just as He did for our family this past Saturday evening.

The night started with a 25th anniversary celebration for my brother and his wife. A party my sister-in-law had worked to prepare food, decorations, music and fun. It was a beautiful evening. Everything was perfect, except for my brother, who seemed winded, was cool to touch; but said he felt hot, going outside for numerous breaks over the course of the party. Signs of him passing out warranted a call for an ambulance and a ride to the hospital.

As he lay on the couch, awaiting paramedics, surrounded by his family and friends, my husband came to pray over him. Holding his hand, I discretely tried to palpate radial pulses, but couldn’t, nor could I get one post tib. My sister-in-law, also a nurse, was quick to give him aspirin, as we all thought we were observing signs of a heart attack. Thankfully, hours of lab work indicated no MI, but monitoring substantiated the need for cardiac ablation to correct his arrhythmias. The procedure was performed Monday. Unfortunately, we heard words like, “severe conductivity disorder” and “pacemaker” in that post-procedure update. Therefore, my brother at 44 years old went in for a pacemaker Tuesday.

Now. Let’s talk about fear. Of course, you’d see how our family would be scared. But let me tell you a bit more of the story. The one parent my brother and I share, died from heart failure less than two weeks before he was to get an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. Our Dad’s brother has had similar problems with arrhythmias and so has our first cousin. Do you see the tendency to allow fear to take root?

I suppose it’s my own acknowledgement of the fear welling-up within me, but during our middle of the night visit to my brother in the emergency department, I prayed for him, for answers, for a plan and against fear.

Psalm 34:4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.

Psalm 46:2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Psalm 112:7 They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

We don’t know what the future holds for any of us. And I understand how fearful we can become when we don’t have the game plan laid out on the table. However, what is trust if it isn’t executed in the midst of something fearful? And…Do we trust God regardless of what the outcome will be? Do we truly believe He is in control of all things? If the answer to those last two questions is “yes,” then there is trust, and there is peace, the absence of fear.

Dr. Albrecht’s article addressed five basic fears. And I believe you can overcome any basic fear with three basic, yet powerful resources.

  1. Get in God’s Word- search His Word and find a scripture to speak out when your mind is tempted to think the worst. And when I say, “speak out,” I mean literally, speak it out. Sometimes we have to hear it. Plus there’s authority in His Word. Your spirit will find strength as you speak His Word.
  2. Pray- He knows your thoughts anyway. Be genuine and authentic and share them with Him. If you’re scared, tell Him; and ask Him to help you overcome your fear, same goes with anger, resentment or disappointment. He created you. He loves you. You’re His child. Share your heart with Him; even the unpleasant parts.
  3. Sing- sometimes we simply don’t have any words. Song can be a powerful tool to connect the emotions of our heart with our Father who loves and cares for us.

In those times we feel we’re running across a dark driveway, completely vulnerable to the elements around us, know that someone is waiting for you with His front door open. You’re running safe into His arms.

My Song These Last Several Days:

Your Great Name ~ Natalie Grant

Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of Your great name

All condemned; feel no shame, at the sound of Your great name

Every fear; has no place; at the sound of Your great name

The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of Your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man

You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of Your great name

Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of Your great name

The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of Your great name

Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of Your great name

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man

You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

Redeemer, My Healer, Lord Almighty

My savior, Defender, You are My King

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and Man

You are high and lifted up; and all the world will praise Your great name

Songwriters: MICHAEL NEALE, KRISTEN L. NORDHOFF

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With Barry the night before his ablation– the same hospital who took care of my heart almost 27 years ago, now taking care of his.

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