Trusting Jesus

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled, “The One Who Returned Home” by Naomi Zacharias on page 14 of the recent http://www.rzim.org quarterly newsletter (Spring 2017, I believe).  She quotes a letter that recounts a story from Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, about a friend who was a Navy SEAL.  The closing remarks are from Naomi.  I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did!  JJ

(The Navy SEAL) was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a dark part of the world.  When they entered the room, it was filthy and dark.  The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified.  The SEALs initially stood at the door and called to the prisoners.  They identified themselves and asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t move.  Alienated and frightened, they instead hid their eyes in fear.

This particular SEAL put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages.  He was trying to show them he was one of them.  After meeting their eyes, the Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them.  “Will you follow us?” he said.  The man stood to his feet.  First one prisoner did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go.

(The person sharing this story) reminded me that Miller concluded this:  “I never liked it when the preacher said we had to follow Jesus.  Sometimes they would make him sound angry.  But I liked (this story instead).  I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust him, and I liked that he healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.”

(The storyteller) shared that it reminded her of what Jesus has been for her.  But it struck me how she has embodied this message in her ministry.  (The storyteller’s name is Analise.)

When Analise hit rock bottom, the reason she found safety in (a program called) the Word Made Flesh is because they were willing to sit in that place with her; they remember their own lostness and the mutual need for a Savior who rescues us.  He did not choose to do this in grandiose fashion.  No, he chose the utter loneliness and pain of the cross.  And so it is he who beckons us by sitting down beside us, showing us he became one of us.  He tells us he is our Savior, and he leads us home — so that we may all be the one who returned home.

Some Passion for You

Passion stems from the Latin work pati, meaning “to suffer.” The stem pass comes from the word passive meaning “capable of suffering.” Pass was coined in the early 16th century to denote “the suffering of Christ on the cross.” English also acquired the word through the Old French word passion meaning “strength of feeling.” This has been transferred in our modern times to denote sexual attraction and anger.  (From this website.)

I was watching an interview of actor Jim Caviezel who portrayed Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s movie Passion of the Christ.  Jim has a powerful testimony of the physical trauma he endured during the making of that film.  The movie came out in 2004 when I was in the beginning stages of divorce after my former spouse left me.  I was devastated.  Also within that year my grandmother and youngest brother had died, I lost my home, I had to change churches to begin the healing process (distancing me from my support system), my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent a serious surgery out of State, I lost my job, and had to store my things in 5 places while I began the first of what would become 5 moves of residence.  One of these was after a condo fire which displaced me into a temporary apartment with only the clothes on my back for a time.  Talk about suffering!  Still this was nothing compared to what my Lord had suffered on the cross for my salvation.  But I tell you, I simply could not watch that movie during that time in my life.  I was too traumatized.  It would just be too painful on too many levels.

This week marks the 5-year anniversary of when I first started having wretched seizure attack episodes on a daily basis.  I had gotten sick with a biotoxin illness for 6 months before then when an “alternative” treatment modality triggered the onset of seizures.  (These continued today although gratefully the pattern is changing some again and this could become a good thing.)  The suffering with these often violent convulsions has been tremendous.  Never would I have imagined such a terrible, terrible illness.  (See them here.)  Even the tumultuous years around 2004 do not compare to what I have endured more recently.  Even those who agonized with me during the various aspects of the stress 13 years ago do not compare to what my beloved husband Steve has endured with me during this illness.  Suffering of this magnitude brings hell to earth for a part of every day.

There are other periods of time that I would characterize as suffering:  the incidents of abuse in my childhood.  Some were sexual, others physical beatings, and several involved satanic rituals.  All were profoundly damaging and required years of help, love, and the healing grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ to overcome.  The abuse kept my mind, body, and emotions trapped in various ways for decades affecting my ability to function as an adult woman.  Somehow I did find my way out when I found Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; eventually the pain, the “suffering” largely went away.  Self-destructive habits and negative thought processes faded.  Forgiveness and healing took its place.  I became more whole, interestingly surging even now to a new level of peace as the seizure attacks lessen.  Suffering from abuse no longer troubles my spirit.

The Lord doesn’t waste anything in His plan for our lives.  After 2006, I got to experience a magnificent restoration from the “years the locusts had eaten.”  (Joel 2:25) For example, the insurance settlement from the condo fire (where I was renting an apartment) ended up paying for beautiful décor in a condo of my own where I could rebuild my life as a single woman.  Flash forward to more recently and I wrote here of the blessings that have come despite enduring a serious illness including meeting all of you through this blog!  And all that childhood sorrow gave me a compassion for others that has served me well caring for others for decades as an occupational therapist.  Despite my suffering, I am grateful that my Heavenly Father and Husband has allowed me to see His hand, His plan that has masterfully created goodness from the suffering He ultimately allowed for His glory.  I now believe it was all for my good too.

unyru paper, collage, art, wall, Romans 8:38, Jermiah 29:11 Christian, artist

Collage art wall mural in the hallway of my condo with a self portrait too.

And what about the more contemporary definition the word “passion?”  The connotation of emotional, physical, sexual energy?  Let’s just say there is much in my life now to be passionate about in having a wonderful husband (my “intended beloved”) who loves the Lord and me too.  Then there’s my love of growing things in the garden (from my mom) that has kept me moving forward on my worst of days in addition to my best of days.  I love digging in the dirt!  Perhaps most importantly is my passion to champion the calling of the Holy Spirit when He compels me to:  serve someone, encourage someone, love someone, share the hope found in Jesus Christ with someone.  When I hear the call of the Holy Spirit moving me in a particular direction, I move forward with a razor-sharp focus that consumes whatever energy and resources are available to me at that moment.  Whether it is in the middle of the night making my husband’s lunch for work the next day or baking cookies (despite a terrific headache) for that service dude who is having a really, really bad day.  Me and my Lord getter done!

This I have come to know:  that if the Lord calls, He empowers us to respond.  That is what passion is all about, good or bad.  And guess what?  He made the suffering, all of it, good for us on Easter morning.  How about if we keep this in mind the next time he calls?

JJ

A Christmas Gift

A Christmas Gift

Isaiah 9:2  New International Version (NIV)

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Some of you know that I was in the hospital earlier this week with the searing pain of shingles on my face. I was crushed to face such a serious disease on top of the daily seizure episodes that accompany chronic Lyme disease: a battle that consumes me with treatment and related activities for most of every day. How could I possibly bear one more grief?

The answer:  with Jesus Christ. Inside the treatment plan of this new illness came a drug for nerve pain that also happens to help seizures. And fibromyalgia pain. I was humbled to have a couple of seizure-free days thereafter! Managing everything took strained breaths as I tried to get beyond the few 1-2 hours of sleep in those first days and other complications. There were setbacks that crushed my spirit: aggressive, violent episodes of a kind I had never seen before. Then they all nearly stopped. And very few “little zippies” have followed as sleep has returned too. I am humbled, hopeful, grateful. What a Christmas gift!

We have no idea what lies before me in this long journey of illness and hope for complete recovery. I am grateful for those who have followed my story, prayed, and offered encouragement just when I needed it. Thank you! I believe this story goes beyond me, however, as neither of us knows what lies ahead. But don’t waste your time worrying about that. Put your faith in the one who came to save us from this hell, these trials, the sorrows that plague our lives here on earth big or small that began as a consequence of the Fall of Mankind. He grieves for our loss, our struggle, our suffering. And He gives us a choice what to do with it.

Choose to join me in the celebration of a new life that comes from the belief and surrender to the Lord: Jesus Christ. One day He will return to make all things right. No more sorrow, no more tears. Until then we can have a good bit o’ the joy, the strength, the love that supernaturally exceeds this life: our eternal destiny begins the day we place our faith in Him. Do you now Him this way? He is the only way to peace. He is the only way to joy. He is the only way to love. He invented them after all.

Merry Christmas Gentle Reader. Hope to connect with you more in 2017 and most importantly at the celebration that awaits believers in Jesus Christ in heaven.

I love Christmas.

With love, Just Julie

snoopy-christmas

O.B. Panties and an HGTV Hangover

Are you going to love it or list it?  Are you ready to see your fixer upper?  I just don’t think this kitchen is big enough for me!  This will all have to be torn out and redone!

And so goes the thoughts in my head the day after being discharged from the hospital.   Since cable TV was my only steady friend and we don’t have cable TV at home, we got really well acquainted in the past 3 days.  I am convinced now that the wood floors in our home are stunning and that we can stay put for awhile longer.  Wood floors are on-trend these days dontcha know?

I also learned that O.B. elastic panties secure blankets over hospital bedrails really well!   When you are on “Fall Precautions” and have a history of seizures, they pad the bedrails with them.  The only problem is that I am sure that wrapping blankets over metal bed rails hardly meets JCAHO requirements for prevention of injury!  They outta have provided bed pads.  Oh well.  Welcome to the modern hospital complete with a 20+ year old hammock sling for a mattress.  Otherwise, the food filled my belly and care was alright.

I was in the hospital after an urgent trip to the Rapid Care Clinic associated with my doctor’s office sent me there on Sunday.  The Internal Medicine Doc said I could get an evaluation from an Infectious Disease Specialist there (which I was later promised in the ER as well).  That never happened.  What did happen was getting pumped with a plethora of drugs that created nausea for the first day and one-half, exhaustion from side effects and lack of sleep, weight gain from 4,000 cc of fluid and food-snacks-with-every-drug-to-protect-my-tummy, and a lesson in humility.

Regarding the latter, I learned that Nurse Practitioners and Physician’s Assistants run the modern hospital in America these days.  Or at least they do for what happens bedside.  I saw both types of professionals; they got to talk to the Infectious Disease Doc but I did not.  Turns out that my acute case of shingles had been seen before so they treated me “by the book.”  Never mind my history of daily seizures and concern for the brain-swelling complications that can come with the worst cases of shingles:  a disaster potential which could change my life even further, forever.  Thank you Lord that I had called the Ophthalmologist on-call the night before and gotten the treatment needed to protect my eyes from the herpes zoster virus.  It is through the blurry vision of an eye ointment that I chat with you today!  The hospitalists never mentioned protecting my eyes from the spread of this nasty, searingly painful viral infection . . .

So I did my time, got my drugs, stabilized a good part of the intractable pain, and got sent home with:  red lesions and swelling on the right side of my face, a 4th day of constipation, lots of prescriptions for drugs and OTC meds, and a renewed sense of what it means to NOT be in charge of your own life, your own healthcare.  I did get to ask questions and for that I am grateful.  I did receive my Lyme infusions of antibiotics before I left to continue that part of my treatment and for that I am grateful.  I tolerated a peripheral line for 3 days without skin irritation and for that I was amazingly grateful.  I did catch up on HGTV enough to last me a good long while and for that I am grateful.  And I was reasonably able to tolerate a modified, hybrid version of my diet from the hospital menu and for that I am grateful.  I was alone for those 3 days and 2 nights yet my Heavenly Husband was always present and for that I am grateful.

There are two other tidbits to note:  I met a lady while walking the halls who was in the hospital for pneumonia.  She’s a smoker and familiar with Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  I shared with her a short testimony of how the Lord appeared to be orchestrating the meds I was given during that hospital stay to possibly treat the serious seizures I have been suffering for 5 years.  Please join me in praying that the person of Jesus Christ would become real for her as well:  as her personal Savior this Christmas.

My second point was hidden in the first noted above.  Did ya catch it?  Yes, I have not had a seizure since coming home from the hospital and had WAAAY FEWER since taking Neurontin in the hospital.  Neurontin is not typically given for Non-epileptic seizure episodes but hey, it is commonly indicated for shingles.  Win-win?  I am hopeful.  What if these 5 years of suffering daily episodes are about to end?  It is too soon to tell how this will proceed going forward yet I am grateful for my little Christmas week reprieve for sure!

Merry Christmas to you, Gentle Reader.  Be sure to check out the Christmas Letter from Steve and me posted today as well.  Even in the dark times there is hope since the Light of the World has come as the person of Jesus Christ.  Oh I do hope that you will share with me in knowing this joy today!

And keep an eye on your panties, eh?  JJ

maternity, pregnancy, other uses, panties, underwear, adapted, stretch

 

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