Monday, December 31, 2012

Old Before My Time: Hayley Okines' Life with Progeria

Title: Old Before My Time: Hayley Okines' Life with Progeria
Authors: Hayley and Kerry Okines
I received this book for free from because it was one of their free Kindle books offered at the time that I received it. I am not required to post this review in exchange for this book. I am simply reviewing it for your benefit.
Old Before My Time is a book written by Hayley Okines and her mother, Kerry, about Hayley's life with progeria. Progeria is a rare genetic condition that produces rapid aging in children. Children with progeria age, on average, about 8 times faster than someone without the disease. This results in the the person experiencing many of the same health problems that the elderly have and most of these children die before the age of 13 from heart disease or a stroke.

I learned in dental hygiene school that children with progeria have under-developed mandibles. This results in a bird-like or beak-like appearance. Due to the small size of the mandible they have dental crowding and hypodontia (fewer than normal number of teeth). Children with progeria also experience alopecia (hair loss).
Hayley and her mother wrote this book when she was 13 years old. It is interesting to see the difference in the writing "voice" between the chapters as Kerry writers some and Hayley writes others. In many instances Kerry may have written a chapter talking about her perspective of something, for example, Hayley meeting Steve Erwin, and then in the following chapter Hayley writes it from her perspective.
Hayley's cheerful spirit and positive attitude shine through in every chapter that she wrote. She does not see progeria as something that holds her back, but rather as something that has given her many opportunities that she would have otherwise not had such as meeting Steve Erwin, Kylie Minogue, and Justin Beiber.
Hayley is doing a drug trial to try and slow her aging process. She has seen positive results from this and these are also covered in the book.
This book is not a highly scientific read, but more of an emotionally gripping autobiography written by a girl with a 13 year old mind and a 100 year old body.
I highly recommend it!

Book Review: An Amish Kitchen

An Amish Kitchen 
Title: An Amish Kitchen
Authors: Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kelly Long

The Amish Kitchen is three stories in one book: A Taste of Faith by Kelly Long, A Spoonful of Love by Amy Clipston and A Recipe for Hope by Beth Wiseman.

In A Taste of Faith Fern provides healing for others through medicinal herbs. She is insecure about her size. Good-looking, strong, and kind Abram wanted to be married to the land, not a woman. While caring for his younger siblings while his parents were out of town, he had to make frequent use of Fern's healing herbs due to various mishaps. And of course, they fell in love, but not without some conflict.

In A Spoonful of Love Hannah runs her parents bed & breakfast after her Daed's stroke. Stephen Ash is running from his past and finds refuge in Paradise. He makes himself useful at the bed & breakfast while staying there and he and Hannah become friends... and more.

In A Recipe for Hope, Eve and her husband and boys have to live with Eve's parents for a few months while repairs are being made on their house. Eve and her mother, who have never gotten along, build a relationship. Eve discovers that her mother does love her after all.

I enjoyed all three of the books. The first two were romances while the last was relationship-driven. My only complaint is that the characters fell in love too quickly. I guess that is due to the fact that each of the books is relatively short, but it was literally almost love at first sight in these books.

The cool thing is that the book contains recipes! There are recipes for natural remedies and there are also recipes of many of the dishes that the characters made in the book. I'd like to try a few of them out sometime!

The overall message was inspiring, but I wouldn't say that it was extremely spiritual.

*I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through their BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review*
I review for BookSneeze®

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review: Grace

I review for BookSneeze®

Title: Grace
Author: Max Lucado

The back cover of Grace by Max Lucado reads, “Have we settled for wimpy grace?” Then it states, “Max Lucado asks a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped…? Strengthened…? Emboldened…? Softened…? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace?”

I had great hopes for this book. I had hoped that Pastor Lucado would truly explore the life-changing, sanctifying power of God’s grace. I had hoped that this book would tell of the grace that goes beyond the wimpy grace that doesn’t threaten the way we currently live our lives and instead call us to repentance and challenge us to live obedient and holy lives because of what God has done for us. Had that been the only thing I had begun this book hoping for, I would have been greatly disappointed.

I also opened this book hoping for an easy read, good stories, and viewing bible stories in a new, fresh light. Those hopes were not disappointed.

For the first time, I saw that the story of the release of Barabbas by Pontius Pilate, well, really the Jews, was not just a release, but rather an exchange. Never before had I viewed that part of the story in light of my own salvation. I am Barabbas… the guilty one. Like Barabbas I have received the pardon I did not deserve while Jesus bore the punishment of death that I fully deserved. (Chapter 3)

I saw that the story of Ruth is the story of a God who offers grace though He is under no obligation to. I saw that in the story of Ruth is the story of a God who saves us even when we are in the depths of our sin. (Chapter 6)

Lucado, in chapter 10, assures us of our worth, not because of who we are, but because God has chosen us to be His children. “Rather than conjure up reasons to feel good about yourself, trust God’s verdict. If God loves you, you must be worth loving. If he wants to have you in his kingdom, then you must be worth having. God’s grace invites you – no, requires you – to change your attitude about yourself and take sides with God against your feelings of rejection.”

While the book disappointed many of my hopes, it also offered some positives things to me.

He did not disappoint with the quality and readability of his writing. The book was true to Max Lucado's voice and was written in a style that could easily be read aloud for a devotional thought.

All of this being said, I fundamentally disagree with Pastor Lucado’s theology regarding our assurance of salvation. Lucado states on page 133, “On-and-off salvation never appears in the Bible. Salvation is not a repeated phenomenon. Scripture contains no example of a person who was saved, then lost, then resaved, then lost again.” This chapter supports the once-saved-always-saved theological perspective. However, I do not believe that the Bible teaches that salvation cannot be lost.

When one chooses to follow Christ, does he then lose his power of choice in this matter? Can he not choose to NOT follow Christ. Would God force someone who once desired Heaven and now no longer desires to be in Heaven with God for all eternity to suffer all eternity in the presence of a God that he/ she wants nothing to do with?

What does the Bible teach? What does Jesus say?

In Luke 8:4-15 Jesus tells the parable of the sower who went out to sow some seed. The seed is the word of God. The seed falls in various places but I want to bring your attention to the seed that fell on the rocky soil. Verse 13 (NASB) says, “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” Jesus himself states that they believed but fell away!

Jesus tells the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15:1-l7. He stresses the importance of remaining in Him. You cannot remain in something unless you have first joined yourself to it. If it is not possible to be lost, why would Jesus emphasize the importance of remaining in Him? Jesus is teaching that to be saved, one must abide in Him or remain in Him. If we remain in Jesus, we will obey Jesus (v.10).

In the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) all of the young ladies were invited to the wedding, all of them accepted the invitation, and yet some missed out on the opportunity to attend.

Other passages to consider: Ezekiel 33:12-20; Roman 11:17-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1,2; Galatians 1:6; Galatians 5:2-4; Ephesians 4:20 and many others (see

Finally I would like to end with this, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” (Colossians 1:21-23) The passage says if you continue in your faith.

Salvation is a free gift that one can accept, but it must be daily lived and accepted continually. If one chooses that he or she no longer wants to remain in Christ, he/ she has that freedom of choice. No one can snatch us from the Father’s hand (John 10:29), but we can choose to remove ourselves from it.

Please do not accept the wimpy grace that is offered by saying that we can accept salvation once and then never lose it because in doing so you cheat yourself of the rich blessings that come from an living, giving, active, abiding relationship with Jesus and His magnificent power to transform lives.

Book Review: the Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck

Title: The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck
Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Charlotte Beck is a childish, self-centered, spoiled rich brat interested only in getting her way. Her looks and her manipulating ways help accomplish that. Alex Hambly is a rich, attractive, astronomer who can stand up to Charlotte’s manipulating and bratty ways. I knew how this story would end before I even finished reading the back cover. Forced marriage, they hate each other, they’ll come to love each other. The end.

I can’t complain about the predictability. I enjoy predictability because my own life is so unpredictable… it’s nice to pick up a book and know how the story is going to end and everything in between.

I liked the book, but it left much to be desired.

Questions still remain such as:

What happened to Charlotte’s mother??? On this point, readers were left with only sketchy details and a confusing story. Did she leave Edwin for Daniel?

Who is Charlotte’s real father?? Edwin or Daniel? The birth certificate said Daniel, but Daniel seemed shocked by this.

This book is classified as Christian fiction, but aside from being clean I fail to see what qualifies it as such. There were two, maybe three, mentions of faith in the whole book – Daniel asking Charlotte about her faith, Daniel addressing it with Alex following that conversation, and Alex asking Charlotte. I’ve seen more about God mentioned in non-Christian fiction.

I enjoyed the setting and the characters were well developed for the most part. If I had not read the acknowledgments at the back of the book, I might have thought that another book would tell the story of Charlotte’s mother; however, this being the last book in the series it doesn’t seem like that will happen.

This book accomplished exactly what I hoped it would… allow me to relax and read while taking some time off work and to get my mind off of more stressful things. That being said this is not a book that I would recommend, nor would I read it again.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook/ Multnomah Publishers in exchange for writing a free review for their Blogging for Books program*

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review: Christmas in Apple Ridge

Title: Christmas in Apple Ridge
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Review by Amber Hill

Imagine the sound of sleigh bells as we travel to Apple Ridge, PA to meet three Amish couples: Beth and Jonah, Mattie and Gideon, and Sadie and Levi.  Christmas in Apple Ridge, written by Cindy Woodsmall is comprised of 3 novellas with each focusing on the courtship of each couple.

The common thread weaving through each book is one of each character having gone through a difficult and painful experience that has made them harden their hearts to keep love out… But love manages to weave its way into each heart. Though these are three separate books, we see each of the main characters again as minor characters in each of the other books. These books can be read separately or as a series.

In the first book, The Sound of Sleigh Bells, we meet Beth and Lizzy. Lizzy is Beth’s aunt and is 10 years her senior. They Lizzy has resigned herself to a life of singleness and so has Beth, but Lizzy does not want Beth to experience the loneliness of being single forever. Beth is distrustful of men after having been in an abusive relationship and is carrying a heavy burden of guilt. After she finds a carving that inspires her and seems to give her new life, Lizzy does a little meddling and correspondence begins between Beth and Jonah. Love comes with the sound of sleigh bells, but not without its challenges!

The second book, The Christmas Singing, focuses on Mattie and Gideon. Mattie is called Mattie Lane by Gideon and he explains it this way, “A day with her is a journey all by itself – a journey down a one-of-a-kind country road” (pg. 306). Mattie and Gideon grew up together and were very much in love when they were younger. Gideon broke up with her for honorable reasons, but the reason he gave her was not so honorable. Mattie chose the “safe” guy, but it was a relationship of indifference with no passion. He couldn’t break her heart because he had no access to it, as Mattie’s sister-in-law pointed out. Gideon and Mattie work out their differences and realize that love is worth the risk.

The third book, The Dawn of Christmas, introduces us to Sadie and Levi. Sadie had been betrayed by her fiancé and was determined that she would be single rather than being hurt again. Levi believed that he had insight into relationships by his observations of the pain his brother and friend had experienced from a woman and decided that he would never marry. Friendship blossoms into more and as Christmas morning dawns so does their future together.

I really enjoyed this book. It is what I call “fluffy” reading – very little substance, but feel-good and happy. It was completely predictable and you knew who would end up together. When it was revealed that Beth had been in an abusive relationship I could immediately identify with her character and the fear of placing her trust in someone and letting someone into her heart. I liked that the characters lives were interwoven because throughout the three books you met so many people from the community and while main characters from one book were only secondary characters in another, you could still follow their lives. If you like Amish Fiction and feel-good reads, you’ll enjoy this book.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Water Brook/ Mulnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jesus Writes My Story

In my teens and early 20s I had a lot of plans. Plans for exactly how my life was going to go and plans for when it was going to go that way. In trying to make my plans my reality, I compromised my values and lived a life that did not glorify God.

I was active in church playing piano, singing, teaching Sabbath school… I was the pastor’s daughter. I had a solid intellectual belief in God, but the journey from the head to the heart can be a long one. So while I believed, I did not surrender.

So here I was with all these plans. And one by one through many failed relationships and unemployment, lack of friends, loneliness… God brought me to a place where all my plans had failed over and over again and I had nothing left except to say “I give up.” I was tired of hurting, I was tired of compromising, I was tired of the guilt and the shame that followed compromise… I was tired of the seemingly never-ending cycle of failure.

God was teaching me through many different ways that He can be trusted.
But while God was working in many small ways to teach me that I could trust Him and that if I surrendered to Him He would not fail me, He was also showing me in a really large way.

It was my first job as a dental hygienist. I was asked to do things on a daily basis that were not only unethical, but illegal. I was looking for another job and saving money in case they fired me for insubordination, but in February 2011, I’d had enough and quit. I’d like to say this was a step of faith, but it really wasn’t because I had plans and a savings account.

This is where God really began to work. Once again, the plans I had didn’t work out and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a plan… I didn’t even know what I wanted. My mom said to me, “Amber, just fill-in. You don’t have to have a plan right now.” As a hygienist I can fill-in for hygienists in any office when they need to be off work for any reason. The work is not always steady, and you’re at the mercy of someone else’s schedule.

I was living with my parents at the time in Statesville, NC, and because my dad is a pastor, I knew that it was only a matter of time before God called him to pastor another district and my parents moved from Statesville. I didn’t want to be stuck in Statesville with a new job, but no family and no friends. I felt God calling me to just fill-in and wait on Him and His timing and His plans and even turned down job offers. Though it made no sense, I had peace knowing that I was doing exactly what God wanted me doing at that time.

I didn’t plan to not look for a job and just fill-in for a year, but in waiting on God that’s what happened.

Month after month I would look ahead at my calendar and have nothing scheduled… but by the end of that month I would look back and see that God had provided me with more than enough work to pay my bills and He even gave me extra. There were many months when I was working the equivalent of full-time and having to turn down work because I had too much. Of the entire year that I filled in and didn’t look for full-time work, there was only one month that I did not have enough work to cover my bills, and I had my savings account for that.

God showed me over and over again that He could and would provide for my every need. In February of this year, my parents moved to Gastonia, NC, and I began looking for a job in the South Carolina upstate to move back to Spartanburg. I prayed, “God please put me where YOU want me.” I had a lot of leads, but God very firmly closed doors. And then I interviewed with Dr. Bragdon. It was not the best interview I’ve ever had, but when I left the interview I felt complete peace that it was the job that God had for me… but still I waited a month for the job offer to come. I have now been working for Dr. Bragdon for 3 months and still believe that this is exactly where God wants me.

Because God provided for my every need and ultimately gave me the job that is the perfect fit for me, I know that I can trust that God knows the desires of my heart and He has a plan for me in every aspect of my life.

In the past, when life didn’t go as I had planned, I fell apart. Now I know that when life doesn’t go as planned, I can fall on Jesus. I have peace in my life that I never had before. I know that God is still good, because He is still God.

My dad used to tell me, “Write your plans in pencil and give God the eraser.” Though it is now God who writes my story, I still have hopes and dreams. But my hopes and dreams are written in pencil and God holds the eraser and I’m ok with that, because when He erases mine and rewrites His story into my story it’s always so much better than anything I had planned.

I can look forward to the future with hope, knowing that the same God who provides for my physical needs, can be trusted with my heart and my hopes and dreams.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Giving up Shampoo (Days 6-15)

I have been keeping track of how my hair feels and looks but I haven't had time to update. Since I last updated I have moved and been busy job hunting and life has just been crazy.

Here are days 6-15.

Day 6 -- I did nothing. At all. All day. Hair limp and slightly oily. Very soft and shiny. Ponytail all day. Would not have worn it down because it would look plastered to my head. Basically the same as a no water/ no shampoo/ nothing day before going no poo.

Day 7 -- Greasy hair, rinsed only. It was moving day, so I wore it up all day. "Washed" with conditioner that night because it was all I could find and something had to be done.

Day 8 -- Nothing -- hair was "washed" the night before. Wore it up for work, but hair was very soft with no grip due to the conditioner. Felt clean, but since I let it air dry and didn't blow dry it my hair had no body and was a little frizzy.

Day 9 -- Water only. My hair felt ok. I probably could have worn it down, but had to have it pulled back for work.

Day 10 -- Baking soda and vinegar. Very clean. I have noticed that my hair is more manageable without conditioner than it has been. The last few days it's been soft and easy to brush/ comb through when wet.

Day 11 --Baking soda "wash". My hair felt normal, looked good, etc. Easy to comb through when wet, tangled too easily throughout the day, is beginning to lose some of the body that it had during week 1. I am beginning to miss real shampoo, not for the sake of my hair but for the smell of it and the suds when I wash my hair. I almost used it today just for the experience of WASHING my hair...

Day 12 -- Water only. After I took the towel off my normally straight hair, I noticed that it looked not-so-straight. I hesitate to call it "wavy" yet, but with some scrunching and hairspray it is definitely more not-straight than it used to be. Perhaps this is the beginning of at least wavy hair? Oh please let it be. I still miss washing with real shampoo, but if this is any indication of what's to come, I'll take it.

Day 13 -- Shampoo and conditioner. I caved and I regretted it the instant I dried my hair and it was totally and completely flat and lifeless... for the next 3 days. It was silky clean. Too clean.

Day 14 -- Nothing, not even water. I put it up and it was still flat and lifeless from the day before.

Day 15 -- Baking soda and water. My hair is beginning to regain body from Day 13's mistake. Kind of. Not curling as well with the curling iron as weeks 1 and 2.

So that's where I am so far...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Giving up Shampoo (Days 1-5)

A little over a year ago, I colored my hair and put the little conditioning cream on it after I finished. The next day, my hair was a lovely color, but the heaviest, waxiest, greasiest mess. I washed it three times and it didn't seem to improve at all! I did a little google research and learned that it was the silicone on my hair and that I could use a clarifying shampoo (which I didn't have) OR I could use baking soda to clean it out and then rinse with vinegar and that would take care of the problem. I figured I didn't have much to lose, so I gave it a try! It worked WONDERS! Several years back I read a blog of a woman who decided to go all natural with her body. I don't recall the blog or I would give her credit, but I remember that she didn't wash her hair at all for several months it seemed. I don't think she used soap on her body either.

Several months ago I started becoming very interested in DIY cleaning products. I now make my own laundry detergent and disinfectant cleaner. Pinterest is partly responsible for this. :) I already knew that you could use baking soda as an exfoliant (or epsom salts). I knew that you could DIY deodorant (um, no thank you). So when I stumbled onto the "no poo" movement (hmm, perhaps a bad combination of words?) I was interested. As I read more I became very intrigued and decided I wanted to give it a try. My straight hair might become wavy or curly?! I'm IN! No more spending $15 a month on shampoo and conditioner! YES! Have more body and use fewer styling products! I can do that! I blogged about it on my more private blog and learned that several of my friends wash their hair only once a week or have give up traditional shampoo entirely. I hesitated to announce that I wanted to try going no poo because EW!, right?! I felt like I would be viewed as one of those weird Asheville hippie dread-locked pot-smoking artist people... except that I don't live in Asheville, I'm not a hippie, I don't have dreads, I don't smoke pot, and I'm not an artist.

I originally read about going cold turkey on shampoo and only rinsing your hair in the shower and massaging your scalp so that was my original plan. I was going to tough out the weeks of greasy hair and one day wake up to less greasy hair. Maybe... I was still thinking about whether or not I would survive all the bad hair days and when to start it since I am looking for a job right now. Interview + greasy hair = no job offer. Then my friends started talking about baking soda and weaning off shampoo and the transition being easy... so I decided to just give it a try. No more shampoo but I could use baking soda and I could start "washing" less frequently. If I had an interview or job hunting day and baking soda wasn't doing the trick then I could wash my hair for that day.

I have not shampooed my hair since Tuesday. I have not missed shampoo (except the smell of it). My hair has a ton of body, it curls easily, it is shiny, and my fly-aways seem to have flown far, far away. I never had frizzy hair or dry hair or unhealthy hair. My hair is naturally straight, somewhat fine (but I have a lot of it), and generally does what I want it to do with minimal difficulty.

Day 1 -- Rinsed and finger scrubbed my scalp. Blow dried my hair and styled it with my curling iron. It looked okish, but felt flat and heavy and gross. I put it in a ponytail and that solved the problem.

Day 2 -- Mixed up some baking soda and water and scrubbed that into my scalp in the shower. Rinsed it out really well and used some conditioner on the ends just so I could get my round brush through my hair while blow drying. My hair looked really good. Lots of body and only needed a few turns of the curling iron it get it all going the direction I wanted. I have a good cut that is growing out nicely (I'm growing my hair out) so the ends typically flip on their own. My hair was soft and shiny. It felt a little different than I was used to at the roots -- not really greasy but kind of waxy. I was able to wear it down all day without feeling like it was dirty. It didn't tangle as easily as normal and kept its body all day even after I took a nap on it and had baby hands in it.

Day 3 --  I just used a little conditioner on the ends. My hair felt pretty good, but a little waxier than the day before. It looked good and clean. I probably could have tolerated it being down all day, but we are in the process of moving so I put it up to keep it out of my face. I used my curling iron and it curled even better than the day before!

Day 4 -- Baking soda and water with tea tree and lemongrass essential oils for the roots. White vinegar and water rinse for the ends. Blow dry, hot rollers. I did use hair products on Day 4 because my hot roller curls tend to poof out and not stay nicely defined so I scrunched them with a little oil and then used some hairspray to keep it all in place. The curls held all day (not unusual for me).

Day 5 -- Nothing until about 6 PM. Put it in a ponytail and loaded the moving truck. Told some friends who were helping us about the no poo thing. They are interested! Ran their fingers through my hair... it was soft, not greasy, not heavy... shiny and looked great. I think I am at the point that I can skip a day of washing and not notice! This evening I just used a little baking soda and then a white vinegar rinse to remove yesterday's styling products. I didn't put much effort into styling my hair, but I did blow dry it and it looked good for the amount of effort I put into it which was very little. It feels good though.

I will try to keep you updated on my progress, but so far I am loving it! I have noticed that conditioner makes it feel heavy. I'm not sure if I like the white vinegar rinse -- it doesn't seem to improve things... in fact it might make it lose some of its body. I didn't notice yesterday (Day 4) because it is always very full when I use hot rollers. I think I will just use the baking soda or nothing over the next few days and see what happens.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lord, if you are willing, you can do it.

Jesus came down from the mountainside. Large crowds followed him. A man who had a skin disease came and got down on his knees in front of Jesus. He said, "Lord, if you are willing to make me 'clean,' you can do it." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing to do it," he said. "Be 'clean'!" Right away the man was healed of his skin disease.  – Matthew 8:1-3

Any of us who have grown up in church have heard stories about Jesus healing people. We have learned of the blind that were made to see, the lame that were made to walk, the dead who were raised to life, the sick who were made well. We all know that Jesus heals, but sometimes the greatest lessons are in reading between the lines of these stories. The most beautiful lessons are the ones that are a little beneath the words and discovered in the more significant meaning.

As I read the story of the leper of Matthew 8, I realized that there are three characters in this story and they represent more than the role they play in this story.

In reading this story, I noticed that this story is kind of about the leper, but more than that, it’s about Jesus. Jesus is the central character here. He is the first one mentioned and he is the one performing the action in this story.

The secondary character is the leper, referred to in this version as “a man who had a skin disease.” For simplicity we will call him Lester. Lester the Leper just has a certain ring to it. Lester is the one to whom the action is directed.

There is a third character in this story – the crowds that followed Jesus. I had never really considered the crowds to be a character in this story until today, but I think that they play a very significant role that we have to read between the lines to see.

To tell this story I must begin with the Lester the Leper for the story to make sense. Lester came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing to make me ‘clean,’ you can do it.” Lester believed that Jesus could, but he recognized his unworthiness in coming to Jesus and didn’t know if Jesus would. Like many diseases in ancient times “leprosy was considered a curse of God, often associated with sin” (Gillen). Lester the Leper represents a sinner. Lester represents you and I, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We must believe that Jesus can heal our disease of sin.

Lepers were shunned, cast out from society, and considered unclean. When diagnosed with leprosy, regardless of your place in society, you were sent to associate with only those of similar illness. Leprosy is highly contagious and the ‘clean’ did not associate with the ‘unclean.’ In fact, the ‘unclean’ had to declare themselves if walking through the streets in order to warn the ‘clean’ that they were coming. Lester would have had to push his way through the crowds to get to Jesus. Leprosy was not an invisible disease; it destroyed the body. The crowds would have known, even without him declaring himself, that he was unclean. They would have done one of two things: 1) gotten out of the way or 2) tried to block his way to Jesus. In Ministry of Healing, Mrs. White tells us that this is exactly what happened as the leper approached Jesus (69). We are the leper, but I believe that there are times that we also play the role of the crowd. How often do we treat those who are “worse” sinners than us with disgust? How often do we ignore and avoid those who struggle with the sins that we consider ugly? Rather than leading them to Jesus, the one who heals, how often by our treatment of them do we stand in their way and block their view of Jesus? We should not act like the crowds. Instead, we should show sinners the love of Jesus and lead them to His feet where they can receive His grace and be made whole.

Finally, the central and most important character of this story is Jesus. Lester said to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing to make me ‘clean,’ you can do it.” Don’t miss what Jesus does here because I think what He does is more important that what he says! “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” Jesus did not just use words, but he did the very thing that everyone else refused to do – He touched the leper, possibly the first touch he had experienced since being declared ‘unclean.’ Jesus reaches into the darkest places of our hearts that no one else dares explore for fear of it rubbing off and He touches us. Jesus isn’t afraid of our sin and He isn’t disgusted by us. With love, Jesus reached out his hand to the leper and He touched Him and made Him well. With that same love, Jesus stretched out His hands on the cross for the sinner to touch our hearts and heal us from the disease of sin.

The leper believed that Jesus could make him well, but didn’t know if he would. Our prayers are not always answered in the way that we want or as soon as we would like. There is one prayer whose answer will never be denied or delayed and is the sinners plea for mercy. 1 John 14-15 (NIRV), “There is one thing we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer. If we ask anything in keeping with what he wants, he hears us. If we know that God hears what we ask for, we know that we have it.” Galatians 1:4 says that it is the will of God to save us.

Believe that God can and will save you and do not stand in the way of those who come to Him.

Gillen, Alan L. "Biblical Leprosy: Shedding Light on the Disease that Shuns" Answers in Genesis, June 10, 2007. <>
White, Ellen G. Ministry of Healing. Review and Herald, 1999. < >

All Bible verses taken from and are from the NIRV.