A Tale of 2 Gregs

One made the bag, the other got it in me

The latter carried me for a time, the former will see me from beginning to end.

Both attend to excruciating detail

Their work as professional as it can be:  an example for all who deal in potions for the cure.

The one is seeking her Lord

Whilst the other follows Christ with family, with livelihood reflective of the same over time.

I never knew how this journey would go

And the people, places, and things that would come near for having been allowed this path.

But I must say parts have been worth it

Having known you two has taught me much about life, about overcoming, about getting up each and every day.

So today when your worlds collided over me

I felt humbled at your care, expertise, and willingness to make a difference in my recovery.

Thank you for being on my team

These infusions of life-giving waters will make a difference one day for sure.

Until then carry on dear providers

Your work goes beyond sharing 4 letters of your names to hope beyond this day for sure.

 

You rock!  JJ

I learned it from Charlotte

She was wearing an oxygen cannula 24/7 and needed to take a break to rest after walking from one end of her house to the other.  Having battled breast cancer years ago, she had come into the late stages of another bout of cancer that would take her life a year later.  She was no longer able to leave her home except for medical appointments and did so with a supremely taxing effort.  Too weak to perform all but the most basic of daily living chores, she still had an amazing ministry that reached across the country . . .

Grief Share, friendship, mentoring, older women, younger woman, grief, loss, grieving, fellowship, Charlotte
From left: Julie, Miriam, Charlotte, Mary, and LuAnn from a Grief Share Ministry in 2007

Charlotte prayed for persons that she had found in an online “care” ministry.  These patients had opened up a personal webpage usually when in the hospital to facilitate communicating updates on their medical status to loved ones.  Charlotte searched the database for individuals that spoke to her heart then enlisted prayer warriors she knew via email and social media to pray for them too.  I was in awe of her outreach!  Exhausted from chemotherapy, radiation, or just taking a breath was no deterrent for a woman with a heart bigger than anyone’s I had known.  “I have the time,” is all she would say about it.  And time was her greatest gift as she spent it in the service of others, lifting them before our heavenly Father’s throne of grace.

So when I have been bedridden over the past few years, I have taken on my own version of Charlotte’s prayer ministry.  I pray for everyone I can think of until I can get out of bed again.  I was often amazed that once I got started, the Lord would bring so many names and faces to mind:  persons I had met online, an individual named through a prayer chain, or maybe someone I saw in public when able to leave our own home to go to medical appointments.  “I had the time,” so humbly to pray would be the best use of it.  It has been amazing to me when these instances occur . . .

Today a bunch of folks came to mind during 2 hours of continuous seizure attacks after injections of antibiotics at my doctor’s office did not go so well.  I lain on a hard treatment table in the dark to shield my eyes from the bright lights, hoping that the hell would not go on as long as it had during treatments earlier in the week.  My neck throbbed from the violent shaking, thrashing, odd posturing, wailing, repetitive pulling forward of my flexed torso, and general torture of it all.  (Unfortunately the facet block injection in my neck 3 weeks ago had already worn off!)  Sure, the nurses checked on me every so often; they had seen these episodes many, many times before and knew the score.  There was an agreement however, that if the convulsions persisted they would call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room of the hospital adjacent to their office building.  I doubted if that would do any good.  Would she be making the call the next time she came in the room?  The next time after that?  The total duration had already exceeded 90 minutes which was well beyond our agreed upon period.  “Is there anything I can do for you?” she would ask in plain English.  Sigh.  Not really.

Then she came back again and I squeaked out to yes, please ask the doctor if he could do a chiropractic adjustment on my neck.  It might help stop the wretchedness as it had in another appointment in the past.  Finally another nurse came back with the good news:  the Doctor would see me!  I began to cry . . .  then praise the Lord . . . then pray some more.  Soon my time thrashing about whilst laying flat on my back and mighty sore gluteus media from 6 injections this past week would be over.  I had so much to do later this evening before a surgical procedure tomorrow.  I had better get my time with the Lord in now not knowing how the rest of the day would fare.

Things got better after more gut-wrenching yelps, yells, screams, bursts of hot tears, yada, yada with the chiropractic adjustments and I was finally able to leave the building under my own power about 20 minutes later.  Whoa!  Shell-shocked I had made my way to the bathroom, put on my coat, and gathered my things to leave as if moving slow-motion in a black and white flick from the 1950’s.  But the evening was just getting started so miraculously the pace revved up a bit from there.

Within the hour I would be tossing all precaution to the wind and digging in the garden with our pup chewing a bone nearby!  Whaaat?  Hey, I figured that I’d get the borders of 2 flower beds tidied up knowing that I would likely be on a lifting restriction after placement of a power port in my chest wall early the next morning.  SO I DUG, DUG, DUG LIKE THERE WAS A TREASURE OF GOLD HIDDEN IN THERE SOMEWHERE!!!  Even the darkness and the drizzling rain did not stop me from doing what I love, doing the most that I could possibly do in some sort of a cathartic shedding of my personal hell on the way to and earthly Garden of Eden.  Well, sort of!

Maybe Charlotte would smile at how things turned out for me this evening.  It’s been about 7 years since her passing.  She had an impact on my life for sure.  If she were still around I would give her a call and listen some more to her wisdom that helped transform my life at another tumultuous time.  Well I guess that is happening again dear friend.

Thank you Jesus for Charlotte’s legacy.  Perhaps someday together we will tend to the sumptuous riches in the gardens of our Savior’s wondrous dwellings that You have prepared for us to bask in Your glory one day and forever.

There is so much to look forward to Gentle Reader.  I hope to see you there too.  :JJ

Into the wintry night a knock cometh at the door

The gals knocked on our front door unexpectedly tonight from the cold of night.  Do you know where the Murphys live, they asked?  We did not but sure noticed the cheerful nature of these young ladies.  Could they share a special Valentine’s Day message with us just the same?  Of course, answered my husband.  What followed was a friendly banter of the differences between the Mormon faith and a Biblical belief in Jesus Christ alone as Lord and Savior of the world.  It was too cold for the chat to go on long and our home is a safe zone for fragrances-n-chemicals so we could not invite them inside.  They understood.  Gratefully, I was able to locate our neighbor’s correct address before they parted which they accepted after my hubby engaged them in a sweet chat of everyone’s hometown.

Later Steve and I prayed for these two.  Certainly their friendliness and encouraging messages were a breath of fresh air on a chilly wintry night in the Midwest.  They were far from home on their 18-month mission trip rite of passage, so to speak, of their Mormon culture.  We hope that they will look beyond their culture and traditions, however, to a saving faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ who brings eternal redemption and joy through the foundational truth found in the Bible.  We find evidence of our faith in verses such as:

Romans 3:23New King James Version (NKJV)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

1 Timothy 1:15New King James Version (NKJV)

15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,

Romans 5:8New King James Version (NKJV)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 6:23New King James Version (NKJV)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16New King James Version (NKJV)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

In these truths we believe in Him alone as the perfector of our faith, His work on the Cross, and then build the foundation of our faith.  I am proud of Steve for engaging these gals with his personable style and sharing of some key points that we hope they will reflect upon further.  We hope they will find hope in Jesus Christ and not their religion.  In sharing with them, Steve moved beyond standing in frigid temperatures in an open doorway and got into the most serious of conversations with two total strangers rather quickly.  What topic could be more important for a Sunday night chat?

On this Valentine’s Day, I submit to you that the greatest love offering of all was given by our Lord, Jesus Christ when he demonstrated that love through His death and resurrection on the cross at Calvary.  Salvation and eternal life come through Him alone.  May He be glorified for the good that may come for being willing to stand and speak when a knock at the door cometh . . .

Gentle Reader, if you are wondering who God is and how to have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ alone, please write to me here or comment at the Hope Beyond page on Facebook.  Or just pray this simple prayer and let me know if you do, k?  With love, :JJ

Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner and have fallen short in my life.  I am sorry.  I recognize that you are God and came to earth to save me from the ultimate consequences of my sin through Your death and resurrection.  Please forgive me.  Be my Lord and Savior this moment for always.  In Jesus Christ, amen.

cross of jesus

No Day But Today

A long time ago I made a decision to use the word “love” a little more freely.  That decision came with another which was to not let concerns of what others would think of that get in the way of expressing that love.  For example, if it was a female friend then she would get that the “love” was within the context of loving a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, love like a sister that I never had, and possibly a bond that simply comes with walking through many years of life’s ups and downs together.  The transition would be instant, from “Take Care” at the end of an email to “Love, Julie” if we had just endured a crisis together.  When one heart is hurting, there is no other word that will suffice.  Love covers things well.

Born again believers know the author of love as God himself.  The scriptures instruct us that:

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.  1 John 4

The Lord is the perfect reflection and expression of what love looks like.  I do believe that those who are not in Christ have a sense of what love is like too.  That is why I feel comfortable including a video in which 1) two women are kissing and 2) there is a man dressed as a woman embracing another man.  If the relationships were real, they must have a sense of connectedness to express their love outwardly.  I am not condoning homosexuality.  I just might understand it a little more since my late Uncle Fred lived and died within the context of “the gay lifestyle.”  I still loved him despite this decision.  Oh how I wish he and others knew the deeper spiritual connectedness that comes in a God-fearing and God-honoring relationship!  The Lord blesses those Who love him first!  (Hebrews 11:5-7)  But that is not my focus here today.

My focus is the importance of expressing love everyday to those you care about.  It’s not weird!  I am reminded of this today in the middle of 8 days in which my husband and I will attend two funerals.  I had only met his Uncle Don one time and was more “acquainted” with Dave than knowing he and his wife Jane more “personally.”  It didn’t and does not matter.  As fellow believers in Christ, their character and lives had impacted my life with that level of connection.  Uncle Don warmly accepted my marriage to Steve that had come at a time when most of Steve’s children still could not.  Since I knew without a doubt that the Lord was blessing our marriage, it was refreshing to feel loved by his family.  I thank the Lord for this.

Also when Steve and I married and started to attend his church home, he pointed out couples with strong marriages that he wanted to model our relationship after.  Dave and Jane was one of them.  They had been married for decades by then yet still had a sense of fun, a spark, and a deep love for one another that was palpable.  They worked separate jobs outside of their home yet were usually together at church and other important events.  Dave served the body of believers, his community, his employer, and his family with equal enthusiasm.  Thank you for pointing out this great example of a Godly man, Steve.  And yes, you are much like him for sure!

Today I am unable to attend Dave’s funeral service due to complications of a serious, ongoing illness.  Last night was particularly wretched.  I had a sense that it would be risky to go to the funeral home and be around so many people and potential exposures that trigger convulsive episodes.  I went anyways. I am also in the middle of re-shuffling my treatment plan and have no idea what made things so much worse.  The only good part about that hellish 2 hours was the toning of my abdominal muscles from flexion posturing, writhing, seizing, moaning, and more.  Oy vey.  In the middle of it I asked for the Lord to remove this hell.  I begged for His mercy.  It must have come since at some point I passed out and woke up about 7 hours later . . .

Today I am beat up from all that has transpired in the past day.  Somehow I am still alive!  Though my heart is heavy with grief on many fronts, I do not regret pouring out the strength that I had to be with friends in their time of need.  I got to be out with my beloved husband and do one of the important things of this life.  Going to the wake reminded me of the truth told a gazillion times before:  there is no day like today.  There is nothing like love between two people, magnified and blessed when they are one in Christ.  And lest it be forgotten or unknown, it is important to express that love out loud and often.  For me this includes the love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  For just as it says in the song,

I die without You!

Talk about perfect love! Oh Gentle Reader, won’t you join me in sharing a little love today? 

With love, JJ

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