It's All About the Number, And I'm Okay With That

 I don’t like to focus on numbers, but this time of year it’s inevitable. This may surprise you, but even hospices obsess over numbers. Is the census growing? Can we remain a viable hospice? Most of the time, I do a pretty good job keeping first things first. After all, this number isn’t a dollar amount or quantity sold—It’s a human life. Every time our number goes up, another family is facing a heartbreaking new reality. Still, I have a year-end goal to achieve.
     As I lay in bed this morning, pondering my number—the corporate-set mark, discouragement seeps in and I become disgusted with myself. I don’t want to be this ambitious person fixated on a target. The old saying comes to mind. “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” I understand the proverbial quote is encouraging us not to lose sight of the whole by fixating on the details. But maybe, at least in this situation, it’s backward.  I should focus on the individual, not overall number. I can’t see the trees for the forest! But the tree is what’s important!  Especially when this tree has a name. It’s a person—a person with a story. 
     I smile as my church’s philosophy comes to mind. NewSpring often faces criticism for being a mega church focused on numbers. Addressing the accusation, Pastor P unashamedly says, “Yes, we focus on growth and numbers, because every number has a name. Every name has a story, and every story matters to God.” Oh, how I love these words!
     I close my eyes as I release the pressure and let the words apply to hospice and my goal. I realize it’s not about being successful through achieving a magic number. It’s about being part of someone’s story. 
     So today, I’m okay with being all about the numbers. Because every number has a name. Every name has a story, and every story matters to God. What a privilege for our hospice team to walk alongside people as they write their final chapter. 
     As the year comes to a close, what are you focused on? I pray you find a way to let go of the stress and find rest. The Author of our life story longs to fill us with peace. I pray you experience His love during Christmas--the season where the number One is all that matters. One babe in a manger, One Savior of the world. One who came to earth so our story can be neverending, because just when the world types "The End", He whispers, "This is only the beginning."

Sacred Space

For all the nursing assistants who show up uninvited to care for the dying.


You enter sacred space uninvited.
These are my last days and
I don't need your help.
You will push and pry,
and strip me of my dignity.
You will uncover and undress,
stealing my modesty.
My journey is almost over.
Just let me be.
You're not welcome. Not now.

You enter sacred space uninvited.
You ask to raise my blinds,
seeking the sun to cheer me.
I hear you hum a familiar hymn as
you bathe my worn-out body.
Your gentle hands caress me,
and I feel your warmth—your love.
As you brush my thinning hair,
you remind me of happier days
when my mom did the same.
Tenderly massaging my aching limbs,
you ask about my life.
You're genuinely interested in my story.
Reminiscing brings a needed release.

You entered sacred space uninvited, but now?
Now I welcome you to walk with me.
I ask you to care for me—to love me.
My journey is over and I seek rest.
Your presence gives reassurance.
I know it's okay to cross over.
I can let go.

You entered sacred space uninvited, but now?
In this moment, I trust you—I love you.
You are welcomed in my sacred space
as I say my last good-bye.