The Chase

Night shift at the Los Angeles County Hospital, around 3AM, and it was very busy.  The docs on call were all tied up with emergencies and even though I kept calling for help with one of my patients, we were definitely on a back burner.  The young man in question was huge—built like a football player—and out of control because his fever was so high he hadn’t a clue what was happening.  Paranoid and confused, he finally tore the IV out of his arm and ran off down the back stairs.  Young and fearless (and dumb!), I told the night clerk to call security and raced after him.   Down from the 4th floor to the 3rd, to the 2nd, and my patient took off through the morgue—such a pleasant place to be chasing a crazy man around in the middle of the night!  I grabbed a phone and called my clerk so he could update security about where we were and then continued the chase.  Finally, I had him cornered at a bank of elevators and as he frantically punched the call buttons, with all the authority I could muster, I looked up at this towering, angry giant and told him the elevators didn’t stop on this floor (well, it was just a little fib).  There were a couple of visitors also waiting there—and what they were doing outside the morgue in the wee hours of the morning I haven’t a clue.  My patient angrily demanded of them, “Is that right?  Is she telling the truth?”  Those poor people shrank back as far as they could get, eyes wide, and responded, “We don’t know man—whatever she says.”  About that time the elevator dinged and the doors opened, fortunately carrying two security guards who were able to subdue my patient and escort us safely back to his room.  All this was enough to finally convince the intern on call that he really was needed on the floor, and the patient was finally medicated and restrained in his bed.  A few days later the young man had recovered and he turned out to be a very nice guy.  He didn’t remember anything from that night, but had been told of our escapade and he apologized profusely.

We confront a much greater threat to our well being every day of our lives than I did during my middle-of-the-night romp through the morgue.  At every moment, our adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Fortunately though, we have lots of scriptures that assure us that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.

You are my hiding place; you shall preserve me from trouble; you shall surround me with songs of deliverance.  Psalm 32:7

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.      Psalm 9:9

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

As The River Flows Into The Sea…

Science confirms and explains much of God’s creation, but I’ve got to admit that the vast majority of it goes way over my head.  I do, however, remember the basics from elementary school about the water cycle.  Also known as the hydrologic cycle, it is water’s circle of evaporation, condensation, precipitation and flow back into the ocean—a complex scientific process, but fairly simple to understand the basics.

Yet, standing at the mouth of the Mad River and watching it flow into the Pacific, the science wasn’t on my mind.  It was the astounding continuity, complexity and beauty of God’s creation.

A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.  The sun rises, and the sun goes down and hastens to the place where it rises.  The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.  All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.  Ecclesiastes 1:4-7

How Sweet It Can Be


Two pies from which to choose—coconut cream and lemon meringue—so it’s a good thing the dinner had been spectacular because eight out of ten people wanted lemon, and the slices were small.  Isn’t it amazing how delicious a lemon can taste when a little bit (or a lot!) of sugar is added in?  Lemonade, lemon-drop candies, lemon cakes/icing/fillings/bars.  Yummmmmm!!!

And even if one stays away from sugar, there’s lemon chicken, lemon juice on seafood, lemon slices in water, unsweetened lemon tea, and on and on…

Or just think of the many other uses—lemon wax, lemon scents, lemon as a hair lightener, lemons as a garbage disposal freshener or stain remover, and once again on and on…

But all by itself, as good as it may look or smell a lemon is sour.  Unless you’re one of the rare people who love them as-is, sucking a lemon will set your teeth on edge and make you cringe—almost as bad as fingernails on a chalkboard.

I’m sure we’ve all heard someone’s sage advice, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”—perhaps a parent trying to teach us to stop complaining and make something good out of a bad situation.  But when I hear that phrase I think of our LORD, for He’s the best lemonade maker I know.  He takes broken lives and turns them around and He brings triumph out of tragedy.  When we belong to Him, life can be sweet indeed!

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


In the Morning We Flourish…


The day lilies in my yard astonish me with their beauty—their delicacy and rich colors shout to my spirit of the vibrant imagination and creativity of God.  Aptly known by the scientific name, Hemerocallis, which comes from the Greek words for “day” and “beautiful,” they bloom one morning and have wilted by the next; great illustrations of God’s truth about the brevity of life.

He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.  Job 14:2

O Lord, what is man who you regard him, or the son of man who you think of him?  Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.  Psalm 144:3-4

In the morning of our lives we flourish, blossoming out to become all that God created us to be; growing from helpless infants into accomplished adults, developing careers, raising families, reaching for our dreams.

But it doesn’t last long.  Soon, a look in the mirror reminds us that youth is fading and we may become desperate to hold onto it—turning to diet, exercise and Botox to ward off the inevitable.  And yet, time marches forward, and suddenly we have become parents, then grandparents, then great-grandparents; and we wonder how it happened so fast.

As I ponder the scope of my years, God puts it in perspective for me.  My life isn’t really about the brief time that I am confined to this body—it is about preparing for the eternity I will spend with Him—this is just my warm-up for forever.  So why should I lament the trials I go through now since He has made it plain that they are meant to strengthen me?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

Watching the Summer Olympics, I realized that I’ve never heard an Olympian complain about the rigors of training—each one gladly pays the necessary price to compete in their games.  And so I too will persevere, remembering Paul’s words that,

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:8

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2


God’s Provision

How much easier our lives can be when we live and move and have our being in Jesus; when we relinquish ownership of our problems and allow for His provision.  This truth was once again exhibited to me in the last few weeks as my parents’ home was sold at an above-asking price to a wonderful family after multiple offers.  When the tenants of the past three years called to tell me they had to move I felt an immediate certainty that God was in control so there was no worry; just a certainty the He had a plan.  Before Dad died he told Mom that he had given that house to the LORD and he didn’t want her to ever worry about it—so she didn’t; and for three years she had the most incredible tenants who made improvements and left the house in better shape than it was when they moved in.  My dad was a man who lived his faith and the truth of Mark 7:37 and Philippians 4:11-13 were evident in his life.

And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.   I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 

My prayer that the following excerpt from Richard’s Story will be a blessing to many as the testimony of my Dad’s faith lives on.

Things became difficult during the last few years of Richard’s life, especially as his vision and hearing became progressively worse and Leota had several strokes.  Having survived prostate cancer, a hernia, a detached retina in one eye and macular degeneration in the other, cataract surgery, and a pacemaker; he was now also afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.  Additionally, he was constantly worried about Leota, who was incapacitated by multiple strokes.  Regardless, he continued working in his yard almost every day, struggling to mow, keep the weeds out of the grass, and fix the sprinklers that kept breaking.  Things that he once could do in a few minutes required hours, but he kept on keeping on.

All of Richard’s and Leota’s kids were concerned about them continuing to live alone in Apple Valley, knowing they could no longer manage, and all of them came as often as possible to spend time helping out.  Finally though, their health issues became so critical that Barbara often had to drive up from Orange County, 100 miles away, to handle an emergency of some sort.  On several occasions it was when the neighbor called to say that Leota had been taken to the hospital by ambulance and he would stay with Richard until she could get there.  As a registered nurse, Barbara had serious concerns about the quality of care both parents were receiving so, in September 2008, she finally loaded them into her car, took them home with her, and got both of them appointments with doctors she knew were competent.

Richard’s new ophthalmologist provided one of the greatest gifts he could ever have received in his final months.  Previously, some doctor had told him that his vision was steadily deteriorating and he would eventually go blind, creating a dread and a fear that plagued him constantly.  The new ophthalmologist not only did a thorough eye exam, but also performed a laser procedure that improved his vision a little, and he was frequently heard happily proclaiming, “I thought I was going to go blind, but that doctor told me ‘Mr. Kain, I assure you; you are not going to go blind.’”

During the month at Barbara’s home, a condo about a mile away was leased for Richard and Leota.  As the new home search began, Richard was adamant that he didn’t want to live in the city and there was just no way he’d ever move into one of those places.  But then a miracle occurred—by what could only have been divine intervention, Barbara was told of a place that had just become available and wasn’t even listed on the market.  As soon as Richard walked in the door his face lit up and he exclaimed, “I like this place!”  A spacious 2-bedroom/2-bath condo with two enclosed patios in a beautiful setting was the answer to many prayers, and on October 1, 2008, they moved into their new home.  Richard often expressed his gratitude to God for helping him find the perfect place for Leota to live when he was gone.

As it turned out, Richard and Leota only got to share their home for about two weeks before she had to have surgery for colon cancer and then went into a nursing home for rehabilitation.  They were thrilled when she came home in good shape, but just another couple of weeks had passed when she fell, breaking her femur and ended up back in the hospital and nursing home again.  By this time, Richard could no longer be left alone and Barbara and Ed traded off staying with him.  He was quite a challenge because the Alzheimer’s had progressed to the point that he couldn’t go out and walk (as he loved to do for hours on end) without getting lost.  It didn’t matter how often he was told not to leave the house alone, off he’d go and the search was on once again.  Additionally, he was so very worried about his “sweet, beautiful, pretty-thing, wonderful wife” that he would moan and cry all night and there was nothing they could do or say to comfort him.  One time though, when Leota confronted him about it he replied, “But I was just praying for you.”  An intercessor right up to the end!  Ed wrote: “I was able to spend a lot of time with Dad during the last 4 months of his life while Mom was in the hospital or rehab facility.  With all our time together, I came to appreciate that Dad was the real deal; what you saw and heard from Dad was what he believed.  He experienced some tough times dealing with Mom’s medical problems, but he also had a faith in God that saw him through an extremely difficult time.”

In January 2009, Barbara received a call from Ed that Dad had fallen in the shower and he was unconscious and bleeding.  The paramedics were already there by the time Barbara arrived, and off everyone went to the emergency room.  Richard had a gash in his elbow that was bleeding profusely and required a lot of stitches.  During the routine screening which included a chest x-ray, it was determined that there was a massive tumor in his chest and he was admitted to the hospital for a biopsy.  The tumor was a malignant cancer for which nothing could be done (quite a surprise as two chest x-rays taken just eight months previously had been completely normal!). By this time he could barely walk due to pain from a tumor in his foot, so he was discharged from the hospital to the same nursing home where Leota was a patient—in fact they shared the same room for about 6 weeks before he died.

God’s miraculous provision was so very evident in all of this!  Not only did Richard get to spend his last weeks with his beloved wife at his side 24 hours a day, but they were both being professionally cared for; they were served meals that he enjoyed tremendously, either in their room or in the dining room; all of it was completely paid for by Medicare so there were no financial worries; and it was party city as all of his kids and the majority of his grandkids came to visit.  He was in his element surrounded by his family.

After entering the nursing home, Richard had one final doctor’s appointment.  Barbara took him to the oncologists office to get the official results of the biopsy and to see what, if anything, could be done about it.  Before the doctor even spoke, it was evident by the look on his face that the news was not good.  He actually had tears in his eyes as he explained that there was absolutely no hope for a cure and the best that could be done was to keep Richard comfortable for the very short time he had left.  Richard responded, “That’s OK.  It only means I’m going home sooner rather than later, and I’m ready.”  The doctor didn’t quite know how to respond other than to tear up again.  What a testimony!!



Richard, Raymond and Rufus (affectionately known as Sarge) were brothers; sons of poor parents who labored from morning ‘till night on the farm in order to survive and provide for their ten children, as well as several unofficially adopted cousins.  Their home, a ramshackle farmhouse had an all-purpose kitchen with a wood burning stove and a big table.  Two chairs with a board stretched across the backs served as my grandmother’s ironing board, and her iron was a heavy cast-iron one that was heated on the stove.  This was also where a washtub would be filled with water, also just heated on the stove, for baths.  A door led from each side of the kitchen—one down a path to the outhouse, and the other into a side yard with a well where Grandma pumped all of her water; with dozens of chickens roaming free, at least until she decided it was time for one of them to become dinner.

Shortly after my dad, Richard, passed away in 2009 I told my mom I’d write his biography.  Many from our large extended family contributed their memories, but the real treat was hearing some of Uncle Sarge’s tall tales from childhood.  His Arkansas dialect is mostly unedited in an attempt to keep the story’s authentic flavor.  (Dad on the right and Sarge on the left in the picture–the last time they were together on a cruise to Alaska in 2007, as far from their Arkansas roots as either could ever have imagined.)

“Once I got play’n in some lime out in the chicken house.  They used it for puttin’ in the chicken nests to keep the mites and other critters down.  Well, Mama saw that lime on my hands and said, ‘Son that could kill you.’ So I freaked out and Richard and Raymond teased me mercilessly about it for months.  This went on and on, and the more I was scared about it, the more they went on.   I got so scared that I wouldn’t put my hands on my body or in my pockets.  I was afraid I was going to contaminate myself and keel over dead.  Richard and Raymond would tease me all the time and tell me I was gonna die from touchin’ the lime and then they would try to get dirt on my hands, so I would have to wash them.  Finally I got over being scared about it, as I had lived for months and hadn’t yet died.  I was sure glad when I figured out in my mind that I wasn’t gonna die from touching the lime, but Richard and Raymond sure had a good time teasing me about it.”

How easy it is to be bamboozled by someone you trust, and the tale of the teasing brothers makes me recall the more serious issue of false teachers.  Consider the words of Jesus as well as the admonitions of John and Peter:

Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!” or “There!” do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you beforehand.  Therefore if they say to you, “Look, He is in the desert!” do not go out; or “Look, He is in the inner rooms!” do not believe it.  For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.  Matthew 24:23-28

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  1 John 4:1

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  2 Peter 2:1