Matters of the heart


Matters of the heartI was awakened from a sound sleep by the sledge hammer pounding on the mattress underneath me. When my eyes opened I couldn’t see because it was still dark. The fish in my chest flipped over a couple of times right before the oxygen was sucked out of the room.

Thump, thump, thump. I wondered if I was having a panic attack. No, I am not prone to anxiety and I have never had one before, but my medical training would easily lead me to conclude that diagnosis. Besides, I’ve been through a lot; it could happen.

Thump, thump, thump…..thump, thump……thump……thump, thump thump….thump.

Okay, I am not a cardiologist, but I didn’t have to sleep in a Holiday Inn last night to know this was not normal. I placed two fingers on my radial artery and felt the erratic pulsations; a few beats, a pause, another beat or two, another pause. My heart was out of rhythm.

Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.” MSG


Before I went to bed, the pang in my gut reminded me I skipped dinner. Oh well, what could it hurt? I pursed my lips around the mouthpiece and inhaled the new medication. I’d do anything to get rid of this persistent cough. Apparently a lack of nutrition coupled with prednisone caused low potassium. The addition of an asthma medication was a perfect concoction to send my heart reeling. I’m sure a little, okay a lot of, stress probably didn’t help either.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to treat my spiritual heart the same way. The thoughts I suck into my mind interact with circumstances and soon my spiritual heart goes haywire. Then if I skip essential nutrients like prayer and Bible study and quiet time, I’m arrhythmic.

Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” NIV


I need a new heart. The one in my soul is prone to wander, led astray by situations, emotions and relying on relationships other than God for peace and happiness. The truth of the matter is, you and I both need a heart transplant. Not a refurbished version of our old heart, but a brand-new one, created by God to beat in perfect rhythm with His own heart. God wants us to experience peace despite our circumstances. We know our heart is beating in rhythm with His when we love what He loves and hate what He hates.

1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world…” NKJV


As a surgeon, I prefer a quick fix. Slice open the skin with a scalpel, separate the muscles, clamp off the hemorrhaging vessels and cut out the offending organ. Then close it securely with suture, apply a bandage and voila’! Let the healing begin. But my spiritual heart disease is as chronic as my physical disease.

The Great Physician wants total transformation which is a life-long process. #newheart #rtp Click To Tweet

Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” HCSB


Without suppression of the body’s immune system, transplanted organs are rejected. Whenever God’s spiritual heart is transplanted into our fleshly body, an assault occurs. Keep your new heart healthy; feed your spirit and starve your flesh. After all, the donor gave His life so you could receive a new heart. Protect it.

Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” NKJV


Are you walking around with a broken heart? God wants your heart to be whole, not broken or divided. Love God with everything.

Despite your circumstances

Despite your disappointments

Despite your failures

Despite your relationships

Every single moment, intentionally choose God’s glory above your every need and your every want and the pieces of your heart will beat together in perfect rhythm.

Matthew 22:37, “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” ESV


What is your heart condition?

Trusting God in a bloody world

Trusting God in a bloody world (1)

Trusting God in a bloody world – because who else are you going to trust? The headline alert was displayed on the lock screen of my phone when I woke up, like the rest of the world.

Bombs. Explosions. Terror attacks. Dead. Europe.

Unlike the rest of the world, one of my dearest treasures is in Europe. You know, when you’re a mother and you let your heart walk around outside your body, or in this case, fly 30,000 feet over Europe while the Brussels airport gets ripped apart by suicide bombers.

Bombs. Explosions. Terror attacks. Dead. Europe.

Psalm 112:7, “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. NIV


You probably know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when the phone rings in the middle of the night, or the car isn’t in the driveway in the morning or the calls keep going straight to voicemail. Your mind hops on a bullet train and transports your thoughts straight to the police department or the hospital or worse. Borrowing trouble is easy, but the interest payment is awfully high.

Matthew 6: 34, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” MSG


“Whatever” pretty much covers it, but worry is a waste. If I were a worrier, I would not let him go. It’s not that I think the world is safe. No, I want him home.
Images of bloody clothes and strewn bodies in the subway and airport got personal in an instant. The protective detachment I usually feel with news coverage of strangers in anguish, scrambling and shock dissolved. This mother’s eyes saw fresh that those bodies belonged to someone’s kid, some college student traveling for spring break, some family member going home for a visit, some business man or woman traveling for work or someone’s fiance’. Each one oblivious to the evil targeting them.

1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” NLT


My son is oblivious too. He texts me pictures of the cathedrals he visits and the authentic food he eats. As a caution, I sent him a copy of the state department’s travel alert:

Exercise vigilance when in public places… particular caution during religious holidays…


Easter is a bloody holiday. It’s also the only truly safe place in a bloody world.

Jesus willingly strapped on the vest of human skin. He knew when it detonated His own flesh would be torn to shreds. Unlike the terrorists in Brussels, Paris and Iraq, His suicide mission’s purpose was to bring life, eternal and abundant, rather than destruction and devastation.

Jesus willingly strapped on a suicide vest of human skin with a mission to save the world… Click To Tweet

John 10:10, “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” HCSB


I talked to the boy on the phone yesterday, except he sounded like a man. We will all be relieved when he gets home, but we know first-hand home isn’t safe either.

This same weekend last year, my mother couldn’t drive fast enough while I prayed all the way to the emergency room to meet my family. While surrounded by serene waterfalls ans stable rock formations, our world shook violently. The sun set peacefully on a horizon sculpted by mountains as a body board evacuation invaded the tranquility of our safe little corner of the world. That night I slept on the couch in the same room as my man-child, as if my presence two feet away offered a sliver of protection from the unknown glitch in human physiology. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. Sometimes more fearfully.

Peace is NOT a place
Peace is NOT smooth circumstances
Peace is NOT being sure everything is going to turn out alright, peace is knowing you’re going to be okay even if it doesn’t
Peace IS trust in a living God who is good all the time, even when bombs go off
in airports
in our bodies
in our homes
True peace cannot be explained


Pray for Brussels, pray for Europe and pray for my son traveling five thousand miles home on a “religious holiday.”

Pray for peace, not only peace on earth, but in my heart, and yours.

You see, the Prince of Peace was bloodied so you could receive Him and His offer.

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” KJV


Oh that Christ Jesus would keep your hearts and minds. That, my friend, is my prayer for you.

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” HCSB

If we acted like we say we believe, I imagine the whole, bloody world would want what we have.

Check my Facebook page, Vickie Petz Henderson and I’ll post a travel update. If you received encouragement and want to receive my posts in your inbox weekly then enter your email address in the annoying box that pops up. Feel free to share with  your friends as well. Happy Easter.

Resist the urge to fight

Resist the urge to fight

Peace like a river?

I don’t know about you, but some of the rivers I have rafted could not be described as exactly peaceful. Of course the inflatable boat is always launched in a relatively calm section, but when you hear the roar of white water upstream, you know trouble is looming.

Isaiah 66:12, “For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” KJV


They honestly admitted the dry suits would not necessarily keep us dry, then they proved it. Forty-two degree melted glacier water seeped in around our ankles and wrists as we waded into the swift current to demonstrate our ability to swim. A pre-requisite for rafting Six Mile Creek, we were we expected to swim two hundred yards. More importantly, we were required to pass “the test” – never, ever, ever try to stand up in the current. Of all the rivers I have rafted, only the guides of Six Mile Creek required participants to perform a test swim. Six people flunked and missed the ride.


They flunked because they panicked and put their feet down. White water rafting is one of my favorite adrenaline-producing activities. I hope to do it again someday when I am strong enough to hold a paddle and hang on. The mild-mannered, yet rugged river guides know fighting the current in swift water is a critical mistake, especially if you fall out of the boat. We were instructed to put our feet up and let the current take us to the bank or another raft. Attempting to stand up is dangerous because of the possibility of wedging your foot, then the power of the water can pull you under and the search and rescue team will have to recover your body.

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