In Part 1, Jesus and I spent the holidays hospitalized with blood clots in my lungs and legs. This week, I take a pass at last week’s questions.

Q. I regretted not following a friend’s advice to get in to see a doctor earlier. How do I serve an eviction notice to the coulda shoulda wouldas in my head: “You are so slow! You’re in for it now”?

A. I’ve just spent 3 years writing a book about self-forgiveness, for heaven’s sake! I’m declaring war on Shoulda, Coulda, and Woulda (The Huey, Dewey, and Louie, of despair)! Today I introduce to you Shook It, Took It, and Book It. I shook it off—that lie is not who I am! I took it to Jesus—who exchanged my fears for a grandfather clock calibrated to His timing. I book it by examining what the Word of God says about what’s going on.

Q. While most families were home chowing down on ham, pie, and candy canes, I was on my back in the hospital, sipping water from a blue bendy straw in a plastic hospital cup. What’s the best way to frame a time of isolation away from fun events like Christmas Eve services and carols?

A. I deliberately chose to think that God wasn’t only “out there” where everyone else was celebrating Christmas. He was also “in here”—in us, and in the hospital. Tim, Emily, and I sang songs by a Christmas tree at the end of the hospital hallway, and I told a patient I’ll call Tommy that we were taking requests. We goofed around (a ridiculously merciless rendition of three songs, including Tommy’s favorite, Happy Christmas).

Then I went in and prayed with Tommy. I later prayed with a woman from the pharmacy who delivered meds to my room, and a fellow patient who had a cardiac condition.

In this space, God released prophetic words of hope, invitations to forgive, and a few tears. Tim, Emmy, and I played games. We laughed up a storm. Where was joy? Yep. It was “in here” all along. Welcome to Christmas.

Q. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual (1 Cor. 15:46). What prophetic image was the Holy Spirit releasing in the pile of unopened gifts that sat for weeks beneath our Christmas tree?

A. Lynette Roth (2-time 45th Parallel Contest winner) remarked: “Christmas is about the miracle of new life coming to us. This Christmas, that miracle came to you in a very dramatic way. You could have died, but instead, life was given to you. Seems like the unopened presents are a reminder of grace given to you — both for the life given on the first Christmas and the life given personally to you on this Christmas. Isn’t it amazing that the God of heaven would choose to come into a world filled with blue bendy straws when heaven is so much better? And yet, here He came.”

Q. This is my third round of blood clots. Medical evidence says that I’m now vulnerable to more life-threatening lung clots, a stroke, or a heart attack. How do I silence the voices in my head that whisper, “What if . . . ?” What will displace them?

A. I compiled encouraging emails and texts from friends into one document. I actively review God’s promises in them. I was amazed and delighted to see Isaiah 41:10 repeated 4 times:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

When God repeats a Scripture like that, it gets my attention!

The Word of God is a pulsing, living life. It displaces every evil lie, curse, or dark thing that would come against God’s trajectory for my life. And yours.

Q. What is the most important thing in stewarding prophetic words when discouragement tries to sneak in?

A. To meditate on them and our identity found in them.

Q. Friend, what insights has God shown you about the above?