Have a Heart
Make a fist with your right hand and look at it. Your heart‘s about that size.
Now put your fist over your real heart. You should have put it in the center of your chest, not on the left side. Now tilt your fist so that the top (thumb) part moves slightly onto the left side of your chest. That’s how your heart sits in your chest, tilted just a bit. When it beats, the top part knocks lightly against your chest wall. That’s why it feels like it’s beating on the left side of your chest.
Now take a tennis ball and squeeze it as hard as you can with one fist. That’s how hard your heart squeezes with every beat. Keep squeezing that ball regularly, about once a second, as you read the next paragraphs.
Every live cell in your body needs blood or it will die. Your heart’s job is to pump blood to all those cells. But the blood needs oxygen in it, because cells need oxygen. So your heart has to pump blood to your lungs first, to pick up oxygen, and then to all your cells.
Obviously, your blood can’t just slosh around in your body, “hoping” to reach all the cells. So God designed a complicated “highway” system of veins and arteries, and a heart with four chambers and four valves to get the blood to all the right places at the right time.
Every minute of every day, your heart pumps blood to your lungs, back to your heart, then to every cell in your body. That’s happening inside you right now.
Are you still squeezing that ball, or did you forget?
If you’re still squeezing, feel how tired your hand is. Your heart’s been squeezing hard like that since before you were born. It pumps automatically, so you don’t have to think about it every minute. And it will probably pump for many years yet without tiring. Thank God for such a heart.
To learn more about your heart and see pictures of it, go to www.smm.org/heart/heart.
The Beat Goes On
Put two fingers lightly at the top of your neck, about halfway between your chin and your ear, or on your wrist just below your thumb. Sit very still and move your two fingertips around lightly until you feel a beat, beat, beat.
You’re feeling what’s called your pulse. It’s really an artery bulging as blood spurts through it. The artery bulges every time your heart beats, so you can count how many times your heart beats by feeling your pulse. A common pulse rate for a young person is between 70 and 100 beats per minute. For an adult it’s about 60 to 100.
A single heartbeat sounds like two beats “lub dub.” That’s because the top of the heart squeezes first, then the bottom, to send your blood in the right direction.
Want to hear another person’s heartbeat? Take an empty paper-towel tube and put it against someone’s chest, on top of his or her heart. If you both sit very still, you should be able to hear the heartbeat.
Doctors use a tool called a stethoscope to listen to a person’s heart. To use a virtual stethoscope, go online to www.smm.org/heart/heart/steth.htm.
Staight From the Heart
Most people think that emotions come from the heart, so love comes from the heart. If you see a bumper sticker like this one on a car, you know it means “I love my kids.”
People from some other cultures think that love comes from the liver. Egyptians believed that long ago. Bumper stickers for their chariots might have looked like this:
Some people say that love comes from the brain. It’s a happy combination of chemicals or maybe of electrical impulses, they say. Yet no one’s found a solid piece of love in a heart, liver, or brain. We can’t find love flowing through our bodies. We don’t have a love gland. Where does love come from? Read on.
Amazing Heart Facts
- An average adult body contains about 5 quarts (4.7 liters) of blood.
- All the blood vessels in the body joined end to end would stretch 62,000 miles (99,200 km), or two-and-a-half times around the earth.
- The heart circulates the body’s blood supply about 1,000 times each day.
- The heart pumps the equivalent of 5,000 to 6,000 quarts (4,750 to 5,700 liters) of blood each day.
- Your heart beats about 100,000 times in one day and about 35 million times in a year. During an average lifetime, the human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times.
- The aorta, the largest artery in the body, is almost the diameter of a garden hose. Capillaries, on the other hand, are so small that it takes 10 of them to equal the thickness of a human hair.
(Credit: the Science Museum of Minnesota and NOVA online at pbs.org)
Heart of the Matter
“Love comes from ______________” (1 John 4:7a, NIV).
“Love is _____, love is _____. It does not _____, it does not _____, it is not _____. It is not _____, it is not _____-_____, it is not easily ________, it keeps no record of wrongs”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is _______” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
About the Author
Joanne De Jonge is a freelance writer and a former U.S. National Park Ranger. She attends West Valley Christian Fellowship in Phoenix, Ariz.