He Loved Well, He Lived for Christ

The passing of John Sr. brought sorrow as I considered the impact this man had on my life.  And I was not alone.  Everyone knew John’s love for his family and friends, the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of believers united by our faith.  It wasn’t until I started to describe three key scenes in my past where his care was palpable to me that I started to grieve the passing of this faithful servant of the Lord.  Surely the heavenly hosts are celebrating your coming home sir . . .

My connection to John Sr. was initially tainted by the critical viewpoint of my former spouse.  I suppose it’s easy to criticize someone else for faults that the two of you may share?  Years later this appeared to be the case.  So when I ran into John Sr. just 3 weeks after my former spouse left me, I was not prepared for this gentleman’s reaction to the  news.  He asked how Craig was doing and I was speechless for a moment:  did he not know what had happened?  I guess not.  I had to tell him.  John Sr’s face fell as I shared the devastation that was just beginning to unfold in my life;  John Sr. looked at me as if someone had punched him in the gut right there in the store!  He could barely speak, mumbled a few condolences, and shuffled away obviously affected by my story.  In the moment I was stunned as well.  Why was he walking away when I had just shared my heart with my elder brother in Christ?  Much later I supposed it was a type of grief reaction.  Not long afterwards, I experienced the most important message from our encounter that day:  my brother in Christ loved me as his sister in Christ, like a father I did not have at the time.  He was hurting for me, hurting for the fall from grace of our brother in Christ.  I also learned that day just how profoundly adultery affects many others in the body of Christ in addition to the spouse.

John Sr. didn’t live anymore in the town of that grocery store where I had encountered him.  I would not see him again until a few months later when visiting with his daughter who had become a good friend of mine.  Deb and I had traveled from the Chicago suburbs where we lived to her parents’ home in the Wisconsin countryside.  A neighbor and fellow member of our church (where we had all met) came along for what was to be a fun time of fellowship, food, and relaxation.  Their youngest son played classical guitar to everyone’s delight and John Sr. told amazing stories of missionaries they knew, places they had been, and so on.  We were one big family for the weekend!  That is, until nighttime came.

The Y family always had a menagerie of sofas with hide-a-beds, cots, and blankets to accommodate everyone.   Me and my neighbor, Ardie, made our beds in the living room while the family tucked themselves to sleep in their respective bedrooms throughout the modest home.  But I could not sleep.  Instead of feeling full from the lively fellowship and activities of the visit, I was filled with grief and sorrow from the tremendous losses in progress in my life back home.  I lain in the dark with tears streaming down my face like a crack in a retaining wall holding back an avalanche of tears.  Finally I could not hold it in anymore.  Everyone was asleep in the dark starry night whilst I was coming unglued!  I gathered myself as best as I could and walked out into the cool blackness that received me outside.  The tears and whimpers gushed easily then uncontrollably.  “Would they ever stop?”  I wondered.

Before long I could hear some wrestling of the folks inside the house.  A light went on in one of the bedrooms, illuminating the front porch where I was holding myself up against a wall.  Arlene and John Sr. were up!  Despite my best efforts to weep quietly, they had heard me and came to comfort me.  John Sr. muttered again with the same type of sorrow I had seen in the grocery store.  Arlene wrapped her warm, motherly arms around me and brought me inside to sit on a handmade bench with her for as long as I needed.  He got me a blanket.  She stayed with me until the tears flowed no more.  Eventually I spoke a little while she simply listened.  What a gift she gave me that night!  No one said much about it all the next morning.  Somehow they just all understood the pain I was going through.  They did the best thing that they could do to help me through that traumatic time in my life:  they just loved on me like one of their own.

John Sr. and Arlene were the best at loving on people, a model we know comes from the love who is embodied in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  That love is as pure as it is convicting with the truth of His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The two of them shared scripture often and how the Lord had led them through their lives, how He too may encourage and lead your in your days as well.  I experienced this witness in an unexpected way about 3 years later.  The Lord had begun the process of restoration in my life and brought me a wonderful man of God named Steve.  We were engaged that September and I wanted to visit the important places and people of my life before moving to Indiana to marry him.  I brought Steve to meet John Sr. and Arlene, this time without my friend Deb, their daughter.  I wanted them to see my happiness and thank them for being an important part of it coming to fruition.

We had a wonderful visit.  After Steve and I returned to Illinois from that long weekend, and after Steve had already gone on home to Indiana, I got a call from John Sr.  He didn’t waste any time chatting about our visit and got right to the point:  check yourself and the truth of God’s Word, the Bible, before you take this step in marrying Steve.  I was a bit taken aback by him questioning things but heeded his advice.  The next few weeks were filled with prayer, scripture reading, pastoral counselling, and looking honestly with Steve at our Biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage.  All counsel pointed to a blessing for us so we proceeded to get married by the end of the year.  The counsel of John Sr. was a necessary part of our preparation that brought clarity that would be needed when others would pass judgement on our union.  We have complete confidence and peace that  we made a God-honoring decision to be together forever.

I have often quoted Mark Twain at key times in my life who said that the un-examined life is not worth living.  Indeed we can find rich value and meaning by taking a closer look at our lives within the context of God’s plans for our lives, ways He gifts each of us, orchestration of events, our limitations, and the stuff that He crafts for each of us as we live out our days on this fallen earth in which we dwell.  If we are honest then our search for meaning will lead us to the Creator: the person of Jesus Christ.  If we heed the call to recognize our sinful nature, receive His gift of salvation and redemption then choose to grow in knowledge and character of our Lord, then the transformation of our lives will shine for all the world to see.  We will become a witness for His transforming power, His love, His grace, His mercy, His goodness.  And a life seasoned by the love of Christ, never tainted by the trials we all endure, can become a life well-lived, well-loved for the glory of the Lord.  This is who John Sr. was.  This is the legacy that he has left for those who got to know him, were ministered to by his love and care, who witnessed his walk with the Lord every day of his life.

Well done John Sr:  faithful servant of the Lord!  Well done!  May God be the glory for the faithful witness of my brother in Christ.  May He also bless your beloved bride Arlene, until she joins you one day in the presence of our Lord.  Thank you for bringing me into your spiritual family through the faith that we share.  You have made a difference!  JJ

couple, Christian, husband and wife, Wisconsin, visiting, friends, woods, Fall, sunny day, engaged

Steve and Julie in Wisconsin, September 2, 2007

 

Dealing with the trauma of illness

Not that I have a total handle on this topic or anything but hey, I have learned a few things worth sharing . . .

Every day for over 5 years I have suffered waking seizure attack episodes of varying duration and intensity.  For over a year (ending last year) they averaged 2 to 5 hours per day!  At least once per month they would spike up to 12 hours on and off in a single day, sometimes requiring an Emergency Room intervention.  I have been to 3 different emergency rooms a total of FIFTEEN TIMES including once by ambulance.  After nearly a year of IV antibiotics for chronic Lyme disease these episodes are generally less than an hour per day now with some positive changes in triggers and patterning.  Significant testing and other treatments, research, and patient “networking” remain my primary occupation.  I am grateful for the improvements that have come including overall less pain from the repeated physical trauma of “head-banging” and wretched writhing movements (thanks to  periodic intervals of physical therapy and periodic chiropractic adjustments).

The journey is hell at times.  At my worst times I have questioned if I could endure this level of suffering one more moment.  My breathing has stopped numerous times and there has been one significant near-death experience with visions of “white lights.”  I have had to pray many times for the Lord to give me the strength to get to the bathroom when alone during hours of convulsive episodes.  Every type of healthcare provider I have ever seen and most close friends and family has witnessed them.  My husband is a saint, having cared for me often late into the night then getting up and going to work the next day.   A total of probably a hundred times he has had to carry me across our home when I could not walk, feed me, take me to the bathroom, assist me with bathing, take me to the emergency room, run urgent errands, and the like as my primary caregiver.  Probably a thousand times he has volunteered to bring me some type of “rescue remedy” to attempt to get the seizures to stop (generally at night or upon waking in the morning).  He never complains.  He is my hero for sure.

In other blogs you will read about all the avenues we have pursued to try and get me well:  chronic Lyme disease, heavy metal detox, mold remediation, obscure infections, dietary restrictions, neurology workups, dental issues, nutritional deficiencies, epigenetic testing and coaching, electrosmog, gut issues, yada, yada, yada.  I spend hours per week researching, managing my healthcare, dealing with extreme mold avoidance and other preventative strategies, and accessing my support system online or by phone.  Church worship is also online to minimize triggers from environmental stimuli, however this strategy also increases my social isolation.  Trips away from home are generally focused on essentials during my best times of day and occasionally with transportation help from a couple of sweet gals from church.  I wear a mask in their cars and sit on a towel covering the passenger seat but we find a way to connect anyways during those trips when help is needed about once per month.

As you can see, there is much abby-normal stuff during my days.  Social isolation and the ongoing seizure attacks are my biggest heartaches.  The latter causes both physical and emotional trauma when they are severe which still happens two of the seven days per week still marked by ongoing episodes.  The two this week included:  1) a violent reaction to an ingredient in an new injected medication that I need to treat osteoporosis and 2) a new strategy to treat severe Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.  Both of these conditions very likely are complications of ongoing illness as they were not present before I got sick on October 11, 2011.  Each new diagnosis will bring its own special kind of discouragement if I don’t keep my worries in check with my hopes placed in the redemption promised with belief in Jesus Christ.  Already I mentioned a few of the strategies I use for managing the social isolation.  What about the trauma?

I manage the trauma of severe, ongoing illness by trusting in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This used to mean that I trusted in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (NIV)

Surely if there is a purpose for all of this suffering then it won’t be wasted.  It becomes part of a greater plan, encouraging me enough to endure even the worst of the pain and anguish I am enduring.  This viewpoint has helped me cope during the first 5 1/2 years of this illness.  It carried me through the decisions to spend the rest of some savings with the hope of a cure and to endure the side effects of such treatments.  I can look back and point to the skills and information that I have learned, write about them here, take to heart the remarks of others encouraged by my stories, and note the Divine sequencing of many things that have happened along the way.  The Lord has provided so much for my care that gratitude has replaced temporary doubts, frustration, discouragement, intractable pain, and so on.  Seeing some meaning in what I am going through or shortly thereafter, gave both me and Steve enough hope to keep moving forward no matter what the “cost” may be.  But what about when the process stopped?  The money ran out.  I am not recovered.  There was no where else to go this past Winter when I got to the bitter end of my proverbial rope with worse symptoms than I could ever imagine!  Yeah, that was the onset of facial shingles in December.  More hell and a hospitalization too.

That’s when I needed to learn to trust whether there would be a purpose I could see or if there would be no purpose or direction at all.  I discovered that complete trust in our Heavenly Father builds faith and the strength to carry each of us through ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.  It’s a supernatural gift bestowed upon believers in God Almighty who trust Him.  For those of us chosen to travel a path of excruciating suffering, we must find our way to this level of trust in the Lord our God.  Our faith will grow as a result and both will carry us through the dark times no matter how dark they become.  Did I tell you that frightful demonic attacks have come during the worst of the waking seizures?  Yes.  It’s more terrifying than I can describe but may try to do so another time.   At those times only the spiritual armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-18) and this reassurance spoken by the apostle Paul will quiet my spirit.  God is greater than any threat in this world, in my world, period.

2 Timothy 1:7  (NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Because what is my worst fear anyways?  Dying?  For me it is probably not dying but suffering even more with dying as the end result.  So finding peace when dealing with the trauma of physical and mental suffering must be accompanied by the reminders of Who overcame death, in Whom have I placed my trust, and in Whom will I find victory over my fears.  To extinguish the fearful thoughts I must again turn to the “sword of the Spirit” as described in Ephesians 6:17 as the word of God.  In the Book of John we find Jesus comforting a grieving friend when:

John 11:25-26 (NIV)

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Not only did Jesus overcome the grave when He rose from the dead on Resurrection Sunday (Easter), He gave those who believe in Him the promise of a glorious eternal life in His presence where there will be no more weeping, no more sorrows.  There will be rewards for the faithful too.  There will be perfect peace, love, and joy forever.

the cross

I may never see healing this side of heaven.  I may see healing this side of heaven.  I really have no idea which one it will be or when it will happen.  In the meantime I will simply trust in Jesus Christ who knows my name and sees my suffering (Psalm139) and ordains it somehow for good.  He will be here with me always.  I ain’t dead yet so I trust that He will add His grace and power to see me through to my last breath.  Until then Gentle Reader I ask you,

Do you believe this too?

Hydration is Key

dehydrationHydration is key in health and down to the other

It makes everything better from one end to the other.

When I thought a drug might be my saving grace

I found that it was water that was my Lord’s gift of grace.

In 3 days and 2 nights 4,000 ml ran through my veins

In addition to many drugs in my tummy not my veins.

There was sparing of upsets from what I could not tolerate before

That number of drugs with Pepcid became my friend now like never b—–.

My Lord knew then showed my naturopathic Doc a few days later

That I would need to push fluids like never before for now and onto “later.”

So Smart Water and minerals in our Big Berkey will be my constant friend

When isolation of this Shingled hell keeps me from family and friends.

The Lord makes up the difference (as He always has) and grants me sleep

These last few days have been for rest and recovery and the deepest of sleep —

“To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”

Hamlet does question if even death will bring dreams that will prevent peace when it comes.

But he is wrong for peace is granted here and now for those who believe no matter what may

For those who believe in the Lord who conquered death and knows the beginning from what may.

So once again, a thousand times I shall again proclaim

Alone in my Jesus I will drink the victory only He can proclaim!

************

If you are struggling this night, Gentle Reader, please hang in there.  Let me know your needs and I promise to pray as I lay your alms before our mighty Lord of Lords.  He cares for you, He cares for me.  And Lord willing, we are going to get well sometime between now and the day of His return.  Oh how I do hope you know Him this way?  JJ

White light and angels

They were tall, white angelic beings moving towards me amidst a glow of an even brighter light.  I did not understand what was happening at the time as I was just waiting there with the figures floating towards me.  More of them were to the right than to the left; or maybe I could not see them as if blinded by sunlight.   But this was not sunlight.

I sensed them coming closer, around behind my right arm as if to escort me somewhere.  I began to drift forward.  Then I stopped.  Why had I stopped?  Was not this the right way to go?  And then the words spoken to me were felt more than heard:  it is not time yet.  And they were gone.  No light.  No angels.  Just the darkened images remained inside my mind that are always there when one’s eyes are closed.  When I opened my eyes I saw the inside of the camper all around me.  Most importantly, I WAS ALIVE!

Quickly realizing what had just happened, I groaned for strength deep within me that was not available in my listless frame.  “I have to open the windows!” I exclaimed inside my head.  Horror nearly immobilized me.  Could I do it?  Could I reach it?  Which window?  How do I open them?  Let’s see, first I have to get up on my elbows to push myself up.  Then lean forward to create momentum and reach out my arms to grab the back of the dinette.  Slide forward and get my legs onto the floor to bear weight to stand.  There, that’s it.

By the grace of God I was able to get the window opened and reach up to open the ceiling vent further before carefully collapsing back into bed.  “Just avoid hitting your head on the bunk over you,” I thought to myself.  Soon I could feel the rush of cool, fresh air on my face and arms.  I took in a deep breath, reviving further.  I was going to be o.k.  Sigh.  What the heck had happened to me?

Some might call it a near-death experience.  Others might label such an experience as a hallucination from toxic fumes.  I prefer to call it an experience in another dimension that I cannot fully explain.   Perhaps a second chance at life.  For several hours prior to this vision of sorts in my “mind’s eye” (not really seen as I looked around and not really imagined with my eyes closed) I had struggled with seizure attacks and convulsions.  This happens about every week or so that I endure much of a day with continuous noxious episodes.  This past weekend landed me with two days like this in a row!  Such is life in the mysterious world of mercury and unknown toxicity.  The typical episode triggers of hunger, thirst, needing to void, feeling cold, fragrances, waking up, falling asleep, mold, or food sensitivities did not apply that day.

We had arrived in Alabama at about 4:00 a.m. after over 15 hours of travelling by truck, towing our travel trailer cross-country.  Temperatures the next day were still around 40 degrees in the deep South when my beloved ventured off to see his son-n-wife at Fort Rucker Army base nearby.  It was usual for me to stay behind after long ventures to rest up, hoping to visit with everyone later the next day.  After sleeping about 7 hours I had made myself a breakfast of my special diet leftovers and yummy coconut almond milk.  My tummy was satisfied yet I still felt groggy so I returned to our comfy bed.  Gratitude filled my thoughts for having a safe place in which to retreat with all the provisions that I would need away from home . . .

Clearly some provisions I did not need after all!  Our crochety campground water spicket was frozen solid so we were unable to hook-up fresh water to the camper and use the toilet as designed.  Gratefully some of our emergency gallons of water were starting to thaw so we had a reserve for flushing the toilet and drinking the next morning.  But unfortunately since we had departed from the frigid North the day before, we had to take our entire journey with a camper still winterized with “non-toxic” RV antifreeze.  All of the drains and toilets were still filled with the scent of the pink stuff.  Not thinking about the mixing of products, we used some windshield washer fluid to flush the toilet a couple of times.  Then when I was concerned that the toilet waste solids would congeal, I tossed in a Bio enzyme pack, earth friendly of course, with barely a scent of pine or something.  Pink and blue and green make . . . ?  Something not nice, I now understand!

Before we crashed into bed, we had already opened the overhead vents to help control condensation inside our unit.  What I did not realize is that a window I had also opened in the morning was above the venting for the propane furnace!  I’m not sure what chemical compounds might have made their way back into our living space since the carbon monoxide detector had not been activated.  Maybe I just don’t do well with propane gas altogether.  Who knows?  What I do know is that the noxious mixture nearly sent me to heaven!

Sadly after eating that morning it was all I could do to get to the bathroom and collapse onto the bed instead of the floor.  I could not, did not move for a very long time.  Slow thoughts of my inability to move, recognition of my awkward positioning, wondering how long Steve would be gone, the location of my cell phone all dawdled through my head.  And they stayed there.  There was nothing I could do about anything and I wasn’t even sure exactly what to do anyways.  My thoughts were dulled into a kind of motionlessness that was similar to my poisoned body.  In time the white light and angels came.  In time I was able to get up as described earlier.  In time Steve came home and found a broken shell of a woman recovering quietly in our bed.  Many tears followed.

*************************************

Death is a funny thing.  You think you know all about it from watching others pass away then transitioning into a waxy state lying in a wooden box placed in a funeral home parlor decorated like an old rerun of The Beverly Hillbillies.  Sermons, Biblical passages, and Christian authors have much to say about this life and the next but until you face it yourself the words simply won’t mean much.  The unexpected BENEFIT of having a severe illness that brings daily seizure attacks and convulsions is that every day I get to face death in addition to the newness of life.  My breathing stops and it starts back up again.  From a spiritual standpoint, THIS IS NOT A BAD THING!  As a result, each day I take practically nothing for granted as life and some goodness are imparted to me.  This process is extremely humbling.  I have also learned that death is not something to be feared . . .

Many years ago a friend, Louise, shared with me an audio tape of Pastor David Jeremiah in which he stated,

“God’s man in the center of God’s will is immortal until God is through with him.”

Oh yes.  I have now lived through many brushes with death and seen this to be true!  So where do I go from here?  I’m not quite sure, really.  What I am sure of is that I will probably write about it!  You will be the first to know my beloved Gentle Reader when the inspiration comes.  Until then how about if we keep the windows open on the opposite side of the furnace, take care of ourselves as best we can and keep our eyes fixed on the Lord.  The light of His love will surely shine upon us all the days of our lives until He calls us home.  As for me, I will be ready.  How about you?  JJ

20141208_104951

When death is no longer an option

Who was it who said to “start with the end in mind?”

 

Well the “end” of everything in life as we know it will not be death per se but the second coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He will be bringing about the Great Tribulation, reign on Earth for 1,000 years, bring about the death of Satan and the world as we know it, and bring those who believe in Him to the New Jerusalem.  There we will reign forever with the One True God. I can’t wait!

 

And yet wait we must as it is not the time for His return. So working back from this end I will examine a few personal challenges the current day . . .

 

Brother Mike

Incredibly with a remaining part of one of two carotid arteries, my brother is making slow progress (after a massive stroke two weeks ago). As it turns out his progress may still not be enough to keep him longer in a rehabilitation facility. Enter here the plight of the uninsured. Decisions about his care will be made by a team of therapists who are required on Wednesday to make an “educated guess” as to his the outcome of his treatment 2-3 weeks from now. Healthcare policy largely mandated by the US government requires them to make this determination. Today the Lord led me in “buying” him 3 more days after negotiating with the Physiatrist on Michael’s unit. Go Sister Bear, occupational therapist.

 

Overall it looks like Mike will be discharged soon to a nursing home for placement and not further rehabilitation. This would be sad. His beloved fiancé, Lisa, is doing the best she can to juggle her own responsibilities, visit Mike at the hospital an hour away from their home, and complete paperwork/phone calls/research/etc. needed for his discharge planning. He would not likely receive therapy services thereafter until his Medicaid kicks in; when it does start the amount for which he is eligible could be limited. I just hope they get him the proper wheelchair, feeding instructions, and do more than keep him “clean and dry” in a long term care facility. I don’t have high hopes for this at the moment.

 

In time perhaps Michael will be able to receive skilled therapy services and return home. In time perhaps Michael’s eligibility for VeteransAdministration and community services will be determined. To return home he will need to be safe enough to be left home alone when Lisa is at work while she graciously continues to provide for both of their needs in addition to her 13 year old son. We are all praying for them at this incredibly stressful time in their lives. My burden from afar (3 hours by car) is light by comparison. Sure I am making a few phone calls, found a family member with a commode, and am working on locating a walker but that is small compared to his incredible care needs. I do pray that some additional resources appear soon . . .

 

Sister Julie

This past weekend was a tale of two extremes got me. I started drinking Bulletproof coffee this past Friday: Freshly ground-and-brewed, mycotoxin-free, Swiss water decaffeinated coffee with ghee (butter) and MCT (derivative of coconut) oil. Everything gets blended in our Vitamix for a frothy hot drink that is quite good. (Remember, I am used to consuming unusual foods these days!)   I had also begun taking a special formulation of B vitamins from Dr. Amy Yasko’s website to support some nutrigenomic issues. (Since the Functional Medicine MD set me adrift last week I struck out on my own for new solutions.) Saturday was an incredible day: waking up without seizures and enough energy to get showered and dressed before 10:00 a.m. just doesn’t happen for me! By 10:30 a.m. I had joined my hubby in cleaning our garage! Four hours later we were at a logical stopping point with the project nearly completed. We will recycle, discard, or sell either online or at a garage sale a goodly amount of items we no longer need. Ahhhh. Feels good.

 

Then comes the other extreme: almost 2 days with intermittent seizure attacks and bedrest. Crap. I guess I should have worn a mask when cleaning the garage? Maybe I shouldn’t have increased the MCT oil to twice per day? Or maybe the greatly increased activity level was just too much for this tender frame? Crap again. This is such a high price to pay for just taking care of our home. I enjoyed my time working with Steve so very much. I love doing projects with him! It had been soooooo long since our last big deal together . . . except for maybe driving up to Michigan to see Mike 2 weeks ago. Yeah that one took its toll on me as well. Crap, crap, crap.

 

So the worst case scenario for my brother is another stroke or even death. Since he appears to be stabilizing and improving I can set those fearful thoughts aside. I am quite confused about the Lord’s plan for all of this yet I choose to trust Him anyways. And as for my own illness, well, I guess the moments of improvement give me hope for my own recovery someday too.

 

On Sunday I decided to donn my firearm when Steve was selling some items from our home. He had opted to have the buyers meet us at the house. We took some precautions and everything worked out fine. His son, Daniel made out like a bandit (!) and we are pleased to have made it happen for him. But as that 380 pistol passed from my hand to its hidden resting place later that afternoon, I had to pause for a moment. At another time in my life it would have been dangerous for me to have a firearm in my possession. I had not yet learned how to shoot a gun, been taught gun safety, secured a carry permit, or decided for sure that life is worth living no matter what the current crisis.

 

You see I have faced overwhelming stressors in my life many, many times before. One time I had to ask a boyfriend to stay with me because the emotional pain that I was enduring was so great that I did not trust myself with my own life. I feared what I might do if I were to be left home alone. Flash forward about 15 years and that trust was tested once again. Gratefully eight years later, the overwhelming trauma of painful, daily seizure attacks, my brother’s stroke, and so much more is met with a solid faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His plan for our lives. He is faithful. I trust in His power, His sovereignty over my fear, my pain, my doubt. Overcoming the traumas of the past by the grace of God taught me that. My firearm is for protection and nothing else.

 

When in doubt, I often start with the end in mind. I have always been a future-oriented person which I consider to be both a quality of leadership and a source of considerable anxiety! Perhaps my writings could talk a little less about my vulnerability and a little more about the Hero leading my heart PERIOD. With the God of the universe at the helm of my life I have nothing to fear, nothing to doubt. I will be able to endure the stress and the stress will be less with my hands off the “trigger” that represents a need for action at the wrong time. To wait, to rest and languish in His loving care helps me transcend the suffering. He has held me close in the comfort of His wings in the past and holds me close in the present as well. Many folks yearn to feel His presence. Hey, I get to feel it every day! He makes Himself real to me every single day.

 

Lastly, the greatest manifestation of darkness in this life is death. One day all too soon His glory will replace the darkness with His consuming light. All things will be made new and we who believe will reign with Him forever! My brother and I will be made whole to love and serve our great God. Wow! So I pray:  Lord, help me to live this truth in today with hope and shining Your light for all to see. Thank You for being here with us in our journeys. If the load may be lighter, please bless us with Your healing grace and mercy. Until then, You are our King and praise be Your name, Emmanuel.   Love you, Just Julie