[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #340 ---- 6/14/04

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From: "Bob Tolliver" <lifeunlimited@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2004 12:10:54 +0300
Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As 
We Fight the Good Fight of Faith

A personal letter of encouragement to You, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down".

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SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #340 ---- 6/14/04

Title:  "Fingerprints"

My Dear Friend and Ministry Partner:

I greet you today in the all-encompassing and all-sufficient Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is truly in Him alone that we live, breathe, and exist (Acts 17:28).  If it were not for this truth . . . . the truth that Jesus Christ is our absolute and only source of life . . . . I don't know if Jo Ann and I could have survived this past week.  I have referred in the past to our youngest daughter's pregnancy with our twelfth grandchild, little Nicole Grace, and the fact that there were some serious problems in her development.

This past Thursday Deanna went for her weekly check up, ultrasound, and non-stress test.  While there, she began having contractions and Nicole's heart rate plummeted dramatically.  So, the doctors did a caesarian section and delivered Nicole just before 1:00 pm CDT in Quincy, IL.  She weighed in at four pounds, seven ounces, sixteen inches long, and with dark brown curly hair.  Just over three hours later Nicole was life flighted to Barnes' Children's Medical Center in St. Louis.  While we had seen some dramatic recent improvements in her development and condition, the doctors have confirmed some other things that were not clear prior to her delivery.

It is both a hopeful and a frightful report.  Needless to say, our grandparent hearts are feeling things significantly magnified by distance and missionary constraints.  Here is what we know from the latest update we've received here in Kiev yesterday  (Sunday) morning.  Because it gives more specifics, we wanted you to know in time that you might be able to share these prayer requests with others.   If you are able to do so, it would certainly greatly multiply the intercession in baby Nicole's behalf.
In summary, here's what we know at this point:
   +  The holes in her heart are there but are not life threatening at this time, and are repairable.
   +  Three of the four heart valves are malformed in some way, but are most likely repairable.
   +  She is breathing on her own, crying and wetting her diaper (all good signs).
   +  She has had cranial bleeding which has apparently also caused some "shifting" of certain parts of the brain due to swelling.   There is grave danger if she has another one.
   +  The platelet count in her blood is very low, making clotting difficult.  This increases the danger of another cranial bleeding.
   +  She does not have the corpus collosum part of the brain which they were not able to detect while she was still in the womb.  It is the part that exchanges information between the left and right sides of the brain.  The future impact of that absence cannot be known for some time.  This is not altogether a rare condition.
   +  She does not have Downs Syndrome as far as they know at this time, but the tests and future observation will let them know.
   +  The chromosomal problem relates to Chromosome #18 (apparently at around 55%, whatever that means), and is very serious.  If it were 100%, it would almost certainly be fatal within a year.
   +  Final results for chromosome abnormalities will be known later this week.
   +  Her current condition is so tentative that there is no way of knowing how long or if she will live.  She could live for several years, a full lifetime, or just another day or two.  Nobody knows but the Lord.
I do hope you can share some of these needs with your church, and that you'll pray with authority in specifics:
   +  That the holes in Nicole's heart will heal naturally.
   +  That the meaning of her name, "Victorious Heart", will become a literal reality.
   +  That there will be no more cranial bleeding, and that swelling will go down.
   +  That, even now, God will correct the chromosomal error in her body, especially #18.
   +  That Jim and Deanna will both be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually renewed day by day.
   +  That the other children will be cooperative and will not be stressed by long absences from their parents.
   +  That Misha and Anya (two of our grandchildren who have gone down to help) will have continued sensitivity, tenderness, and servant hearts to help in every way possible.
   +  That God will give us wisdom and direction here in Kiev concerning what we should do other than pray.

Jim's comments in a recent letter express our own as well for all the prayer support that we've all received from so many people like you.  Not only have many from my mailing lists of 900 or more been praying, but also hundreds from the newsletter of our eldest missionary daughter and family, other hundreds from our own missionary organization, and still more newsletters that have picked up the story.  So, with Jim, we thank all who are praying.  Please continue doing so.j  In Jim's words, . . . 

I have no idea how to repay the outpouring of love we've received through this whole situation.  I've prayed that whatever God plans to do to bless you all. that He would double it.  So, look out people.


When Nicole Grace, was born on June 10th, her pre-arrival pilgrimage had already been arduous and dangerous.  Things had not gone well.  When she was finally born, it happened unexpectedly and suddenly.  Although we already knew there were major physical and potentially mental abnormalities, she was not due until late June or early July.  

As I have reviewed and examined the conditions and coincidences surrounding her birth, it has become obvious that God has been present in many of those situations.  While you couldn't always see clear evidence of His presence, you could, however, identify some clues . . . . some "fingerprints" that He had visited the situation in some way.  I won't try to enumerate them, but it is clear that God has been holding this little child in His enormous yet tender hands, and He has left His fingerprints everywhere.  

My conclusion is this ---- No matter what the outcome, God has assuredly been present.  

Hearing Jim's and Deanna's testimonies as to how they prayed for many months about having another child at this stage of life, selecting the name before they even knew it would be a girl, choosing the name, Nicole Grace, which means "victorious heart", then finding all the major heart problems, the fighting spirit Nicole has displayed, . . . . all of these and dozens more are God's fingerprints.

Friday as I tried to process the reports we were getting about her condition, I again remembered what I have thought of so often during this ordeal . . . . none of this has caught God by surprise; He's been there all the time.  I thought, "His footprints are all around.  He has been present."

But, then it occurred to me . . . . "Those are not His footprints; they're His fingerprints."

You may think the meaning is the same, but it is not.  To me, at least on this day of my life, the idea of His fingerprints is much more meaningful.

Footprints can misrepresent, especially if they are made by shoes.  They give no guaranteed identity.  One person can wear many types and sizes of shoes; one shoe can be worn by many different people.  Even if the footprints come from bare feet, the wear and tear of life can wear down the unique markings on the soles, and the hardships of life can distort the identity of the foot's owner.

Footprints are also big, sometimes clumsy, and they seem so impersonal.  Even in the special moments of life when you rejoice over the evidence of God's footprints on your pilgrimage, there is something much more personal and intimate during those moments when you also see the fingerprints of His hands.  Footprints take you somewhere; fingerprints tell you someone has been or is here.

Fingerprints come from hands that are tender . . . . hands that have been holding this little baby, soothing her incompleteness, quieting her distresses.  

The identity of one's fingerprints is undeniable.  No two are alike.  The only thing more sure of positive identity than a fingerprint, is the DNA make up.  I learned this early in life as I entertained my adolescent dream of becoming an FBI agent.  My little fingerprint kit gave me ample opportunity to test it out on my friends . . . . and on the curtains, bed sheets, window sashes, and doorways of my bedroom.  I even learned how to locate them with lead pencils and scotch tape.  The messy evidence of my efforts was clear to all . . . . especially the eyes of my Mother.

Fingerprints are the evidence that their owner was not only present, but has given personal attention.  Fingerprints are the residual signs of hugs, embraces, cradling, and security. . . . because they come from strong and sure hands expressing a heart about to explode with unconditional love and wordless compassion, like groanings that cannot be uttered or expressed, but yet fully understood.

The hundreds of God's fingerprints on Nicole are proof positive that He has been present.  Even when no reassuring voice was to be heard, His fingerprints took away anxiety.  Even when the darkness of deep and long nights seemed blacker than a thousand midnights, His fingerprints were reminders that He not only Was here, but that He IS Here.

Deanna is our youngest of four.  Just as all our girls were true scholars, gifted in communication, musical talent, and journalistic skills, she was also an accomplished athlete from elementary school through her university days.  And yet, her greatest accomplishment in life has been that of a mother and a pastor's wife (some people say those are one in the same occupation).  Her husband, Jim, is a deep thinker yet with practicality at the heart.  He's an excellent communicator, and a loving father.

And yet, even though they are my kids, I still wonder what's going on in their innermost being.  I know what I believe about them, and what I know about them; I know what they write in their reports.  But, . . . . sometimes there are thoughts and emotions inside that can never find their way out, . . . . and I wonder if, during those silent moments, they see the fingerprints, too.  I suspect they do, but maybe need to be encouraged to look a little closer yet.

As I sit here this Sunday evening writing to you, my mind travels six thousand miles away.  I sit in the neo-natal care ward of Barnes' Children's Hospital in St. Louis . . . . with all the machines whirring, the nurses keeping careful watch, and Nicole lying there in her little box under that special light, and with tubes running here and there.  And, as I hear her faint cry, I see the hand of God reach down and, with the tip of His finger, brush away a tiny tear . . . . and then reach across and place it on Jim's cheek, as He whispers ever so softly, "It's o.k., Jim."

I see the Father's fingers smooth the tiny furrows from Baby Nicole's brow, and then softly brush Deanna's heart, saying, "Peace to you, child."

I see the Father leave his fingerprints on the shoulder of the nurse as He reassures her concern that she dare not make an error; He silently lets her know that she has been trained just for this very day . . . . and perhaps for this very child.

I see the Father's fingerprints on the stethoscope the doctor uses to check Nicole's heartbeat, and I even see it on the surgical tools that might be needed in days ahead.  His fingerprints are all over the hospital ward and all the medical equipment seen everywhere you turn.  I see His fingerprints on the CT scan film and the reference manuals the doctors have searched.  I see them on the diplomas hanging in their offices; they may have never seen them, but they are there.  Perhaps totally unrecognized, He was there from the time they first entertained the idea of becoming a doctor or a nurse.  If they would look, they'd see God's fingerprints all over their lives as well.

I also see His fingerprints on the window that looks into the sterile room filled with Nicole and other little babies.  It's as if He were standing there beside Jim and Deanna and others.  But, then, . . . . I notice:  "I think there are some on the other side of the glass, too."

I see those same fingerprints on the back of Michael's and JoyLinn's hands as He clasped them in His when they prayed for their new baby sister.  His fingerprints are on the backs of hands everywhere around the world in many countries. . . . for His heart has joined with intercessors worldwide praying for "Victorious Heart". They may even be on the back of yours.

There are fingerprints everywhere.  It's one thing to see footprints; They're important, and build confidence and hope.  it's another to see the many signposts all giving evidence of God's love.  However, signposts can be erected by many people for many reasons.

But, the fingerprints take us yet further; . . . . they remind us of His personal, compassionate, trustworthy, all powerful presence.  People often leave fingerprints because they are careless; God leaves His because He is careful.  Fingerprints from people are often unintentional; God's are intentional.   When God leaves fingerprints, it's always on purpose.  He wants you to know He's been there . . . . where you are . . . . in your presence. . . . even if you didn't notice at the moment.

Friend, I know this letter is very different (and thanks for letting me express my thoughts in this way), but I have to ask you one final question:

Have you noticed His fingerprints in your life lately?

They are there.

Look for them . . . .

. . . . and rejoice in your rest.

In His Bond and For His Glory,

Bob Tolliver -- Psalm 2:8
Copyright June, 2004
Life Unlimited Ministries
  http://www.hope4kiev.org/team/members.asp?ID=10 (Personal ministry)
  www.hope4kiev.org (General team ministry)
  http://community.webshots.com/user/01lum for our pix albums.

If this letter has blessed you, feel free to forward it, with proper credits, to any and all you wish.

Please do NOT hit reply to this letter.  This is an automated unmanned system.  If you want to write Bob, send directly to lifeunlimited@.... Replying to "Shoulder To Shoulder" mailer gets you nowhere.

REMEMBER ---- "We will not Work where we have not prayed."  (Todd Golden)

May I Recommend . . . .

If you have a heart for God and would like to be encouraged in your life and ministry, 
    and you have a burden for your church, your community, and the world, 
    then you may want to receive . . .
www.cnsnews.com for daily world news without a liberal, godless bias.
www.worldprayerteam.org ---- A world-wide network for praying together.
www.watchword.org ---- excellent resources on revival, prayer, missions.
www.waymakers.org ---- resources on prayer, evangelism, etc.
www.operationiraqcare.org ---- To adopt and pray for a special historic city in Iraq.
http://www.nppn.org ---- "National Pastors' Prayer Network" newsletter.  ~  
    email: phil@....  Register your PPG: http://www.nppn.org/ppg/ .
Usprayercenter@... ---- U. S. World Prayer Center.
www.cityreaching.com ---- City Reaching/City Impact Roundtable.
fridayfax-subscribe@... ---- Wolfgang Simpson's "Friday Fax" from New Zealand.
www.LifeAction.org ---- "Life Action Outreach".
www.revivalcsa.co.za ---- "Bulletin On Revival" by Francois Carr in South Africa.
www.yifa.org ---- "Youth Interceding For America".
www.missionamerica.org ---- "Mission America" .
www.lighthousemovement.com ---- "The Lighthouse Movement". Click on "Lighthouses".

Other Great Resources Are:
www.sermonindex.net for access to over 3900 downloadable audio sermons.  Exceptional site.
www.biblemaster.com for great Bible resources and downloads.  Exceptional site.
www.e-sword.net (one of the best free download Bible study site I've ever seen!)
http://associate.com/camsoc/ctt/"Christian Communications Toolkit" (using internet wisely) 
http://www.associate.com/camsoc/crop/software.html#freewin. Free software or shareware listings, 
www.associate.com/camsoc/crs/ for church related software from CAMSOC.
    To subscribe to CAMSOC update newsletter, go to grga@....
www.ccmag.com.  "Christian Computing Magazine", 
ccmag-subscribe@....  CCMag discussion newsletter, 
http://www.christiangraphicdesign.com/premierinfo.htm  Thousands of Free Christian graphics.

Online Resources on Ukraine are . . . .

Secular News on Kiev and Ukraine will give you interesting views at . . .

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