Friday, January 26, 2018

WHEN A GOOD MAN DIES

 
 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. 
Psalms 116:15 (NIV)





Nine years ago today, this precious man went home to be with Jesus.  Terry and I had been in love since we were teenagers and had been married for 33 1/2 years, so together for 35 1/2 years.  He was not a perfect man by any means. But, he was a good man.  A man who loved the Lord, me, his family and people in general.  He was a happy individual, always laughing and cracking jokes or playing pranks on someone.

He was an only child, but most certainly gained two little sisters when he chose me.  Charlotte and Debra loved him dearly, and still do.  He loved my parents as much as his own.  When Momma died, it broke his heart because he loved her so much.  He grieved for our loss, especially for Daddy.  For a long time, he could barely stand to be in their home because he missed her so much.  She and Daddy had always treated him like their own son, not a son-in-law, but their son.  That is where I learned that our in-laws are not "in-laws", rather they are "in-loves".  My sister's husbands are not my brothers-in-law, they are my brothers because of love.

My sister's kids loved him.  He was nothing more than a big kid himself and was always picking on them and playing around with them, teasing them....you know, a typical teenager!  He loved those kids more than his own life.  When he was sick and dying, he so wanted to see our niece and her family again before he left. He had not seen them in 2 years and missed her so very much.  He wasn't able to attend our family Christmas gathering but Katie, Brian and the children came by our house before leaving West Tennessee.  It settled him in for the final journey,  He had seen his "blond bombshell" and now he could go home.

So, about three weeks later, he did just that.  He left his mortal body behind and entered that heavenly rest we all long for so often.  He was so ready to be there.  Although he did not want to leave me, he knew it was his time to leave and he accepted that with peace.

When I remarried, many people didn't understand.  Because Terry and I had had such a good marriage, people didn't understand how I could remarry.  It was BECAUSE Terry and I had such a good marriage that I could remarry and love again.  This marriage, like any marriage, has it's problems and we have our struggles.  Marriage isn't easy but it is a wonderful experience if you work at it.  But it takes two and those two must submit first to the Lord and secondly to each other.

 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 
Ephesians 5:22 (NIV)
  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Ephesians 5:28 (NIV) 

Paul teaches us in Ephesians 5 that a wife should submit to her husband and that isn't a difficult thing to do when a husband does as Paul commands, men love your wive as your own body. Marriage isn't easy, but it can be successful and fulfilling when both partners are living it the way Scriptures teach us.  We leave our birth family and we become one.  One cannot be separated without causing grievous injury to the other.  All other relationships are second EXCEPT our relationship with Jesus Christ.  I loved my parents but they were second after I married.  Christ first, mate second, others come after.  That is the way ordained by Scripture.  When we leave that plan, we create chaos in our lives.
I never doubted the only person who came before me with Terry was the Lord.  Did we have struggles?  Yes, of course we did.  Any married couple who says they do not is being untruthful with themselves.  We are human, we hurt each other sometimes, but forgiveness heals many deep wounds when practiced according to God's plan.

So, Terry, nine years have passed and I am remarried but I will always love you.  That does not mean I don't love my current husband because I do.  The love I have for Terry lives in my heart's memory bank and is precious to me.  The love I share with my current husband is a daily, active love.

I am so thankful I had Terry in my life.  He taught me things about myself.  He stood by me while I grew up because, believe me, no one is grown when they are 17!  We may think we are, we are wrong. Every one comes into our lives for a reason.  I have no doubt God sent Terry into my life because few men would have put up with such an obstinate girl who was quick to say what she was and was not gonna do.  Let me tell you, if you make a marriage work, you do a lot of things you said you would never do!

  Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  For we live by faith, not by sight.   We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
II Corinthians 5:6-8 (NIV)

Terry has made that last journey and is now no longer confined by the fleshly body that gave him so much pain during the last nine years of his life.  After his accident, he yearned to go home.  Not his earthly home, but his heavenly home.  He finally was allowed to make that transition on January 26, 2009.  Rest in peace Terry.  We love you and we miss you and we always will.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


SECURITY


  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation--
but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.  
 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; 
but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.   
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.   
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; 
rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. 
And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."  
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.   
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--
heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, 
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 

Romans 8: 12-17 (NIV)

Joint heirs with Christ....what an exceptional place to reside! Wow!  Everything that Jesus owns is also mine.  Eternal life if just the beginning.  

Peace...finding peace in this troubled world can sometimes seem difficult, even impossible.  But the truth is that His peace abides in me if I belong to Him.  I can tap into that peace no matter how much my life seems to be coming apart around me.  There is no circumstance above that peace unless I allow it to be.

Joy....as we used to sing in church "it is joy unspeakable and full of glory, oh the half has never yet been told"!  I own that joy, there is not need for me to be "under the burden".  The peace of God which passes all understanding is mine. (Philippians 4:7)  The source of joy resides within me, there is no reason for me to be down-hearted or overtaken with sadness.  Do I get sad, of course I do.  The point is, I do not have to live there.  Now, I know some people suffer from problems with brain chemical imbalances and they experience depression.  I am not putting those people down.  God has an answer for that too.  That is why he gave us doctors with knowledge to address those issues.

Unfailing love....I can love the way Jesus loved if I trust Him to guide me through the troubles of life and relationships.  Many will not understand me.  It doesn't matter.  I can live above the hatred so rampant in today's world.  That does not mean I should accept everything without question, but that I should respond with respect and love in every circumstance.

Hope and a future....I sometimes face difficult circumstances on this earth.  I may often feel there is no future for me.  But the truth is much different.  Scriptures teach me that I have "hope and a future". (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)  God tells Jeremiah that he has plans to give him hope and a future.  That promise was fulfilled when Jesus Christ came and died.  When I surrendered my heart to God's will and asked Jesus to live within me, at that very moment I received "hope and a future". 

Eternal life....John 10: 28-29 teaches me that, when I commit myself to Jesus and ask him into my heart, I belong to him ETERNALLY and will never perish nor can anyone take that security from me. I am held eternally in the loving hands of Jesus.  God, the Father, gave me to him and no one can take me from the hands of God, who in turn gives me over to the Son, Jesus Christ.  

I am secure, my future is secure, my hope is secure, peace and joy are secure. I often forget these things for a bit.  A moment, a day, even longer.  But when I reach out to God, the reassurance comes immediately.  You belong to me (that means I belong to Jesus!) and my possessions are eternal.  Nothing can take you from me. Praise the Lord!

Paul reminds me in Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) 
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

No power exists that can remove me from the hands of the father or his son and all the blessings that come with that.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WHEN THE ANSWER IS "NO"

(WARNING:  Long Post)

I have waited to make this post because I want to be real, not Ms. Super Christian or Ms. Poor Little Me but to relate my experiences and the outcomes with reason and the understanding God has give me.  Please know my emotions vacillate from day to day, sometime from hour to hour, even minute to minute.  Yet, when all is said and done, I think this gives a fair representation of what this walk has been and continues to be like.

In St. John, chapter 11, the story of the death of Lazarus is related, along with the pain and grief of his sisters, Mary and Martha.  Pain and grief are normal emotional reactions to loss.  Mary and Martha were not exhibiting a lack of faith or doubt, they were expressing their grief.  Jesus didn't  reprimand them, but lovingly reminded them of the truth about the death of one of his own.
 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she replied, "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."
St. John 11:  20-27 (NIV) 

Extreme losses in our lives can feel like death, whether we or one we love is dying or suffering in other ways.  When we understand the truth of death, we can find comfort in that truth because we know him and trust him, we understand that he is the truth and the life. Even the Lord himself felt the pain of grief.  In vs. 35, we find the simple phrase "Jesus wept".  He is not above our pain, but in it with us.  Through him, we find the strength we need to move forward.

In January, 2009, my husband died of complications of NASH cirrhosis and injuries received to his liver during a tragic auto accident in 2000.  Six months later, I learned I was also suffering with End Stage Liver Disease due to NASH.  I didn't know quite how to take the news.  My grief and pain from watching my husband suffer and die was still too new.  Now, I must face the fact that I was facing the same disease.

It took a while to adjust, but my doctors were encouraging and told me I could extend my life if I controlled the diabetes carefully and took better care of myself.  A meeting with my Hepatologist encouraged my sister and I that I had at least 10 years left and might be able to extend that by taking care of myself.

I had times of faith that seemed unreal, even to me.  On the other hand, there were times the gravity of the whole thing was seemingly more than I could comprehend, much less deal with.  How does one deal with something they can't understand?  The medical terms were not hard, it was everything else.  

Faith, family, prayer, doubt, anger, despair, depression, unbelievable support...so many emotions I can't name them all.  Sometimes, one a time and at others, all washing over me with such intensity sanity seemed elusive.  Ultimately, I began to understand I had to make some heavy decisions...life decisions...and I needed more than I held within myself to do that.  So I turned my heart and my attention to the Lord and there is where the truth became evident.

God alone is the giver and taker of life.  I have always said I believed that.  Now, my words had to be my walk.  I cried, I begged, I wailed in intense emotional and spiritual pain.  And then I found, as did the prophet Elijah, God isn't in all the noise and upheaval, He can only be found in the quiet, still voice.  

There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
  1 Kings 19:9-19:13  (NIV)

So, I set about getting the diabetes well controlled and taking charge of my life emotionally, physically and spiritually.  It was not an easy journey, but the diabetes began to respond with vigilance and better attention to my diet, exercise and mental stress.  I have to say that those times drew me so much closer to the Lord.  I learned to trust him during the years from 2000 and forward in ways I never understood prior to those experiences.

Last year, a meeting with my Hematologist revealed that the liver disease had reached a point that made consultation for transplant an immediate need, if I planned to pursue that avenue.  Frankly, I didn't know if I wanted to do that or not.  However, I decided to meet with the Director of the Transplant Institute at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, TN.  Those meetings and tests revealed that, not only was my liver in failure, but so were my kidneys and my heart.  He estimated my life expectancy at about 6 months without the transplant.

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

Jeremiah_29:11 (NIV)

I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have quoted that verse to myself.  To know that the Lord of heaven has a plan for me is quite a daunting, yet comforting, thought.  When we get hold of that fact deep within our spirit, it changes us.  We sometimes have to be reminded, but if we have ever really set grasp on that understanding, it is a relenting comforter in times of trouble.  I now pursued that understanding in a way which I never had before.  To say you are ready to die is an overwhelming thing to internalize when confronted with certain death. 

I talked with my family and decided to pursue the testing necessary to be listed for a liver transplant.  I was assured that the kidneys wouldn't be problem because they commonly did a liver/kidney transplant on their patients.  However, an issue with my heart was revealed that put a sure halt to all plans.  After two heart procedures, Cardiologists determined that the two blockages were not significant enough to risk by-pass surgery with consideration of my liver condition and dangers of bleeding out due to low platelet counts.  The transplant team will not approve the transplant with the heart issue unresolved.

So, after a year of exhausting medical testing with astronomical medical expenses and frustrating meetings with doctors, the outcome is not what I expected.  I had truly come to believe that transplant was what lay ahead for me.  I confused my will for God's will.

 "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits 
to see whether they are from God"

1 John 4:1 (NIV)

  "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights..."

Habakkuk 3:17- 3:19 (NIV)


Sometimes, we want something so much that we get our will confused with God's will.  We have to be careful and be sure the spirit we are following is that of the Holy Spirit.  When we do, no matter the outcome, we can say with Habakkuk "yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.."

Now, I move forward and I live my life each day with joy, hope and comfort.  I am surrounded by people who love me and pray for me.  My family and friends have been extraordinarily supportive and willing to help in any way needed.

 "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower "

Psalms 18:1 (NIV)

The Lord is my strength. He sends me angels to attend to my every need.  Sometimes, those angels are called family and/or friends.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A New Habit

"I trust you, Jesus".  That is the habit I am trying to develop as this year begins.  When anything comes my way that seems more than I can handle, I want my immediate response to be "I trust you, Jesus".  

Why is that so difficult for me?  I have been a Christian since I was 11 years old.  Jesus has walked beside me, often carrying me, through some dark and difficult times.  He has never failed; he has never left me.  Doesn't that sound like someone who deserves my trust?  Yes, of course it does!  Then, again I ask, why is it so difficult for me?

I want my way, that's why.  I don't want to trust Jesus to carry me through while he works his way in me....I want my way!  I am like a spoiled child who stamps my feet and whines until I believe I am getting it my way.  Not gonna happen my friends!  NOT GONNA HAPPEN!  Jesus loves me, and you, too much for that.

Truthfully, when you relent and allow your children to have their own way, aren't you thinking "go ahead, have it your way, see what that get's you"?  Sometimes, when I think I have won, that's exactly what Jesus does with me.  "Ok, my child, go ahead, have it your way, see what that gets you!"  NOT because he doesn't love me, but because HE DOES!

More than you or I can comprehend, Jesus loves us.  He does not give up on us.  We can trust him.  Why, oh why, do we keep taking him back through the struggles when difficult times come?  He has proven over and over again he is there for us, he has our best interest at heart.  He loves us with an everlasting love.  It has no beginning and it has no ending.  We can trust him.

This is my daily struggle.  I am so stubborn.  There is no one in my life who has never failed me, no one except Jesus.  I can trust him.  He loves me.  He wants only his best for me.  I tell myself these things, but usually after I've argued with him for a while trying to get him to relent and let me have it my way.  

Trust is believing in the reliability of Jesus so much that I am willing to give my will over to his,  knowing the outcome will be a perfect one and will bring multiple blessings to me.  Yet, I make it such a difficult thing to do.  He has proven himself over and over, but I demand MORE.

Dear Jesus, help me to allow the simple fact of your unfailing love to be ever my first thought when problems come.  Help me to say "Lord, I trust you because I know you want only the best for me".  It's a simple prayer but that's something else I'm learning, God isn't impressed with my verbal skills.  He just wants simple words of faith from a sincere heart.  I am trying Lord, I am trying.


I cannot hide from God and nothing can keep me from his presence.  I can trust Him.

Monday, January 1, 2018

 OPEN THE EYES OF MY HEART

2018 --- Wow!  I find it extraordinary that I am alive and seeing the first day of 2018.  As a younger person, I could not imagine that I would still be here when I was 60 years old!  Yet, by the grace of God, here I am and thankful to be so. 

I have set my sights on a closer walk with God in this new and exciting year ahead.  I have become too complacent in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I have committed myself to know God better and walk more closely with Jesus Christ daily.  To love God more and because I do, to love people more.

The opening line of Sarah Young's devotional "Jesus Calling - Enjoying Peace In His Presence" say this:  "Come to me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed".  That is my heart's greatest desire as this new year begins.  To be teachable, to be changed by the power of God's love, mercy and desire to have me know him better.....those are my ambitions for this year.

I have been on an incredible journey over the past year.  My marriage is stronger because of the things we have had to face together in the past year.  Although we live apart, our hearts are more closely entwined than ever before.  Our problems are real, but so is our resolution to save our marriage in spite of the difficulties we face. 

My health became so tenable that I was given 6 months to a year to live, at best.  At my last visit with my Hepatologist at the Transplant Institute, I was better than I had been in over a year.  God is doing a work in my life and in my heart.  He is doing a work in my marriage.  There are things I don't understand, but I trust God to do his work and want him to have his way in my life. 

I keep hearing the words Michael W. Smith's song "Open the eyes of my heart".  That is my desire for 2018.  I want to see God in a way in which I have never seen him before.  To know him in a way I have never known him before.  To be the woman I have never been before.  To be the wife I have never been before.  To be the neighbor I have never been before.  To love like I have never loved before....these are the desires of my heart.

I have missed writing on my blog.  Words are important to me, they always have been.  I have been told I have a way with words.  If I do, it is because God gave me that gift.  I want to use that gift again, in a way I have never used it before.


Psalm 86:11 (NIV) --- "Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."