Are You Spiritually Jaundiced? 3 Ways Light Can Save Your Life

She’s Here!

It’s a Wednesday in October 2019. Cheyenne is 1 day old.

She is a bigger girl than we expected, 9 pounds and 4 ounces. She feels so heavy, looks so beautiful, already loved so dearly.

But the nurse whisks in this day with a determined look in her eye. Mid-nursing, my daughter Morgan is asked by the nurse to hand over her baby.

They have Cheyenne’s bilirubin numbers. They are dangerously high. She is jaundiced at a disturbing level.

She must go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Now!

Everything now depends on the light.

The Dangers of Jaundice

Mild infant jaundice isn’t unusual. Almost 60% of newborns are born with jaundice. It causes their skin and eyes to look yellowish. It often disappears on its own within two to three weeks and is harmless.

But occasionally, the build-up of bilirubin in the blood (the normal byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells) is so high it can cross the thin tissue that separates the brain and blood.

It can damage both the spinal cord and the brain. It can lead to cerebral palsy, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and if left untreated, it can even be fatal.

But what about spiritual jaundice? Is it dangerous too?

When we have a build-up of bad habits, of toxic relationships, of negative attitudes, our spiritual lives also become jaundiced. And not to stretch the metaphor too far, but this build-up can also cross the thin place connecting the brain and the blood.

What can we do about it?

Turn on the Lights!

With my granddaughter Cheyenne, they say she’ll need to stay under the special lights in NICU 24/7, for 3-5 days, until her bilirubin levels come down. Otherwise, she could have brain damage (kernicterus or bilirubin encephalopathy).

She immediately begins phototherapy, or light treatment.

Thank God for the light.

How does phototherapy work?

The special blue-green spectrum of bililights helps make the bilirubin water-soluble, a process called photo-oxidation. With more oxygen in the bilirubin, it’s easier for Cheyenne’s liver to break down the bilirubin and remove it from her blood as she pees and poops. She’s also extra hydrated to speed up the elimination of bilirubin and to protect her from losing too much water through her skin under the lights.

Jeff and I get to peek at Cheyenne in the NICU. We can’t touch her yet.

But we can see her.

She looks so lonely there by herself, wearing the tiniest little sunglasses you ever can imagine, hooked up to an IV, and laying on a bili-blanket of light below with an array of lights all around.

3 Ways Light Can Save You

The healing for our spiritual jaundice also requires extra doses of light. The message the apostle Paul heard from John is God is light (1 John 1: 5).

Here are three ways we can turn on the light for spiritual light therapy, helping clear up our spiritual jaundice.


Check yourself into the ICU. Intentionally listen for stirrings of God. Maybe you’ll hear him in your favorite music. Or listen for him as you read a favorite psalm about God aloud. Step outside tonight to listen to the insect sounds he created and return outside in the morning to hear the bird songs he orchestrates.


Sit under more light. Look for God in other people. Everyone is made in his image. You’ll find traces of him in every person that crosses your path. See him in your work with others. Reflect on your relationships through the years to remind yourself of all the places God has shown up.


Reach for God’s light this week by loving yourself, his creation of wonder. Allow God to love you through small treats (for me, it’s a special dessert or time doing puzzles). Take a walk in the sunshine and feel God’s warmth on your skin.

God’s light is not in short supply. Wrap yourself up in it. Let his light break through your jaundice. 

Touch the Light

Cheyenne is now two days old. It’s Thursday. The grandparents are allowed again into the NICU. This time Lauren, her nurse (God bless her), lets us all the way in.

Jeff and I are grateful to hold our second granddaughter. It’s difficult with the tubes and the light board.

We gingerly wrap our hands around her. We’re thankful to touch her.

The light is saving her life.

She cries. I do, too.

At three days old on Friday, the light treatment (and Cheyenne’s miraculous, God-designed body) is clearing out the bilirubin quicker than expected. She is disconnected from her IV and released from the NICU light therapy.

She returns to a regular hospital room with my daughter, her mom. And she meets her big sister.

After five days in the hospital, Cheyenne is finally released.

Her journey with jaundice still isn’t over (it will take a few more days for it all to clear), but she’s finally well enough to ride home with her mommy and daddy on Saturday.

Grateful for the Light

I’ll always look back to those days almost two years ago with gratitude for the special light that saved my granddaughter.

It reminds me still to be grateful for the special light that saves us all.

We all depend on light for life.

The very Word of life, light himself, existed from the beginning. We have seen his light. We live because of his light.

See the light in your life today. Observe the light. Touch the light.

The light will save you, too.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

This is Week 1 of reading (and for some of us, memorizing) 1 John 1. (It’s not too late to join us.)

John wrote:

“The Word of life existed from the beginning. We have heard it. We have seen it. We observed and touched it.” (1 John 1:1, GW)

Yes. Thank you, God.

How has light saved you in your dark moments? Share in the comments.

I’m sharing at these blog parties

20 thoughts on “Are You Spiritually Jaundiced? 3 Ways Light Can Save Your Life

  1. Pam Ecrement

    Outstanding, Lisa! What a perfect illustration to use (Cheyenne) to illustrated the principle you shared here. I still recall when that was happening when she was born. Thanks for this reminder as I head off to church this morning.

  2. Martha J Orlando

    What a beautiful and touching story, Lisa, and a marvelous lesson for all of us. Yes, let us seek God’s light constantly in our lives, knowing He alone can cure the jaundice that can creep in when we least expect it.

  3. Dianna

    Lisa, this was such a beautiful and well written post. I had no idea that your family went through this. She is absolutely beautiful and I am sure that even today when you see her that you are reminded of God’s Light that brought her through that time.

    This was also convicting…because, can’t we always use more of God’s Light? Thank you, my friend.

  4. David

    What a blessing of a blog post! I cast my compliments into the ring.

    Other people are always the light for me. Listening to music or reading a book is a kind of telepathy or companionship.

    I love your three ways. My wife is returning this week after several weeks away. I shall hear, see and touch God in her.

  5. BettieG

    Oh what a precious God-story for your family! Truly, we need fresh glimpses of His light in our days! Thank you for this reminder to keep our eyes open to see His touches of light.

  6. Barbara Harper

    She looks so plump there! My smallest baby was 9 lbs., 2 oz., so I can identify.

    Timothy had to be under the lights in the NICU, too–I can’t remember for how long. I was amazed at how much they have down to a science in the NICU. I’m thankful for that technology.

    I am thankful for God’s light, too. Even though it sometimes shows me unpleasant things, the only way to deal with them is to face them. And His light not only shows what’s wrong, but points the way to Himself, the One who can cleanse and help.

  7. Patti Gardner

    This is beautiful, Lisa! God uses the little ones of this world to teach such valuable lessons. Oh, that I would remain connected to the Source of Light! Sweet photos! I am about to become a first-time grandmother—perhaps next week. My daughter, also, is having a daughter, so, like you, I will be a girl grandma. I am SO excited.

    By the way, memorizing is going well. I’ve already got 1 John 1:1 in my heart!

    Have a wonderful day,

  8. Lesley

    This is a beautiful post, Lisa! I’m glad Cheyenne was ok and I love the illustration you draw from her story. We definitely need God’s light to save us and to show us the way.

  9. Nancy Ruegg

    Lisa, what a precious baby Cheyenne is! We too are thankful for the bililights that helped our two sons overcome their jaundice. Never thought of the connections to spiritual light, that you so thoroughly laid out for us here. With you I praise God for the healing power of his Light!

  10. Trudy

    I love this comparison you made to our being spiritually jaundiced and so in need of the healing power of God’s light, Lisa. Powerful. Thank you. And I’m grateful Cheyenne is okay. How old is she by now? Are all your three grandkids doing well? They grow up far too quickly. Love and blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We actually got to spend time with Cheyenne today! She will be 2 years old next month. I can’t even believe it; it has flown by. All three grands are doing well. We commented today that everyone is healthy at the moment; such a blessing. Hope you’re well, friend!

  11. Lisa Jordan

    This is such a beautiful analogy of God’s Light and Love. My youngest son developed jaundice and needed time under the lights as well. It’s so hard for a mama to let go of her child and leave him in the care of others, but I had to learn to trust and let go. The same with my walk with the Lord. Learning to trust and letting go is a daily adventure. My One Word for 2021 is Light, so this post was very poignant for me. Thank you!

  12. JeanWise

    Thank heaven this story turned out well and what a great spiritual lesson too. I remember learning it was a nurse who observed babies near the light of a window had less or no jaundice and thus the discovery to light therapy. Amazing if we pay attention what the light will show us!

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