What then shall we do?

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29

I offer this passage for those of us who are Christians and are worried about what may come here in the United States.

I offer this passage for those of us who are recovering from serious illness and feel vulnerable or too weak to act in our own strength to try to change things.

I offer this passage for myself to remind me WHO is in charge of all things:  past, present, and future.  And I will add this reassurance as well:

 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6

Why is it so easy to forget the Lord’s faithfulness in my life?  First, He led me to Him when I was finally ready to stop striving out of my own determination to make something out of my life, MY WAY.  Second, He gave me a reasonable life as a baby Christian only for it to spiral out of control, my control.  His hand was upon me and wanted me to depend only upon His grace.  Third, He brought me exceedingly sweet restoration, the desires of my heart, and a love worth waiting for in the arms of my intended beloved.  Fourth, He allowed exceedingly difficult weakness to strengthen our faith and prepare us for His return in glory.  Yes, I believe He will return soon.

More important than looking for what disasters may bestow us in this once great United States of America is to ready ourselves and WATCH for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  Luke 12

What then shall we do?  Wait without worry; meditate on His Words, instructions and promises; carry on with the events of living; and share the hope within us.  If I must bury my nose in His holy Word for hours to calm my fears then that is exactly what I shall do.  I know I will find You there my Lord . . . in sweet fellowship until I am in your presence forevermore.  Just writing this has lifted my spirits.

Just reading this, can you sense His peace too Gentle Reader?  I hope so.  JJ

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P.S.  I’m thinking of putting together a group Skype devotional and prayer time once per week with others who are largely isolated for whatever reason.  The focus would be open and based upon belief in God through the person of Jesus Christ of the Bible.  Please leave me a comment below if you might be interested.  I’ll do a separate blog on this soon!  Take care, JJ

Let us gather together for prayer . . .
Let us gather together for prayer . . .

 

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

 

Life as I know it

Sitting on the edge of change is a precarious place.  One does not know if change will actually arrive yet she (or he) can be hopeful, patient, exceedingly frustrated . . . .

In honor of the Bundy family, Nevada USA
In honor of the Bundy family, Nevada USA

There’s a scandal going on in the wild West of the United States this week, as the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management attempts to overtake the ranch and cattle of a family that has used the lands for decades.  Under the guise of protecting an endangered turtle, the government is not only rounding up cattle but cutting off water supplies; federal authorities are superseding State land rights and intimidating the family with physical force.  The conflict has incited anger from local ranchers and national militia in addition to the Tea Party (political party).  Underneath the issues may be a US Senator’s covert, personal involvement in building a solar power plant on the land in a $5 Billion deal with China.  This all comes at a time of unprecedented changes in our country.  A juicy story indeed.

This is an incredible time to be alive.  This is an incredible time to be an American.  This is also an incredible time to be a Christian.  We can easily look to the incredulous shift of power in our country from the citizen to the increasingly tyrannical government, laden with moral and civil/financial corruption, to see that life in these United States has changed.  The effect of Obamacare; immigration, voter and currency “reforms;” and more just may eventually make democracy in America a distant memory.  Sure there may be pockets of freedom.  However, that freedom is shrinking every day.  Can you say, “microchip?”  Don’t get me started on that one!  If this blog goes away suddenly then you will know that the NSA (National Security Agency) has removed my First Amendment rights to free speech.   While that is not o.k., there are more important topics to me which will never be silenced . . .

My incredibly wretched health challenges these past two years have reinforced beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control of everything.  He has been with me on my bed of sickness, making Himself real to me and sustaining me through it all (Psalm 41:3).  I draw my faith from the Bible.  Through His Word, the Lord our God tells you and me through the story of Moses that those who believe in the Lord are to:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31

Those words ring true today as well.  I have cried out to my Jesus during wretched, daily seizures and He helped me, comforted me.  My faith and resolve are strengthened not weakened despite the difficulty.  Further I am encouraged that when tyrannical kings came up against the Lord’s chosen people through the ages, He reminded them over and over again in the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 1:19

This rescuing may be from illness or other trials of life; the rescuing may be from the consequences of something much worse to what beyond our control:  the wretched effects of sin and living in a fallen world.  The rescuing may not come until the day we die yet IT WILL COME!  After all it is because of the sin of mankind that we suffer.  Gratefully we are not alone in our suffering.  Gratefully there is an antidote to our suffering such that someday we are assured that it will end!  Related to our personal suffering, the Apostle Paul concedes that his own health issues were used by God for good:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  (Colossians 1)

From these inspiring words I draw strength to persevere when my body is failing me.  What can I do?  I can write about matters that transcend the mundane issues of my day or even the crises blasting forth from every news channel.  Want Christian news?  CNN?  Facebook news?  Tonight Show news?  It is everywhere bombarding us with allegory, truth, and propaganda alike.  In the end this kind of news will not matter.  The God of the universe reigns above all.  He will come again in glory to rescue His own, to make things right.  That is Good News!  We can trust in His Word on this since before time began He told us, “I am.”  Evidence of his sovereignty goes beyond evidence of intelligent design.  Evidence of a loving and righteous God dwells within your heart and mine.  Think about it!  Otherwise we would not wrestle with themes of morality, existence, meaningfulness.  If God did not exist, I would fight my illness with whatever snake oil came along and the Bundy family would use their crisis merely to incite a riot (or worse, civil war) to achieve survival of the fittest and not to seek what is “right.”   Our search for what is right ultimately helps us hold out for the hope of heaven where all things will be made “new.”  (Revelation 21:1)  In the meantime:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.  (Philippians 4:8-9)

The power to do these things on our own exceeds our humanity.  The Lord adds His infinite increase though the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us when we come to faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  This blog will make little sense to you, Gentle Reader, apart from Christ.  I submit to you that finding the gifts of the Spirit in these alarming times [peace, love, joy, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self control (Galatians 5:22-23)] are great rewards for becoming a Christ-follower.  These rewards transcend and redeem our personal suffering, the troubles around us, the regrets buried in our hearts, and so much more.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   (Jeremiah 29:11)

Those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have an undeniable asset in these times.  We know Who the victor will be in all things and this includes those things that are evil.  As some recite in the Twelve Step Programs of recovery from addictions, we will know that “this too shall pass.”  (See Revelation 21:4)  In the meantime we are to live our lives seeking the Lord and living as He commanded, guided in love by the Holy Spirit.

The decision to follow Christ has led me to the only way I could have survived many sorrows.  I submit to you that it is a great way to live life as I know it in the times that try our souls.

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Here’s a meditation for believers to transcend the times, straight from the Word of God.  I pray that the frustrations posed by our tumultuous days will draw us to His throne of grace in sweet fellowship and will be used to bring glory to the Father Who loves us beyond what we can ever imagine.  In all things:

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12)