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All Blogged Out!

As some of you know i had a back injury at physical therapy. Come to find out I was misdiagnosed by the surgical nurse and could not get an appointment with the neurosurgeon till last week. It seems, I need a procedure done. I go to a pain clinic but they have maxed out what they can give me at this point. My pain clinic and my neurosurgeon agree with what I need but so many people are involved.  The former, my family doctor as well as my lab. I have been on blood thinners for over twenty years and will have to be off for a while before the procedure can be done. I ended up at the emergency room again this morning so when that injection wore off, it wore off badly!!

I called each office involved and everyone except my lab person were out of the office. She was very compassionate and said that tomorrow she will gather the doctor and his nurse and see if we can’t speed things up a bit. It is getting worse so please keep me in me in your prayers.

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Justified by Faith Alone

For two nights this week my husband and I watched a movie about Martin Luther. It is on demand if you have any interest. This isn’t the first Martin Luther movie  we have seen. Not Martin Luther King just Martin Luther from whom modern Lutherans draw their name.

Martin Luther did not intend to break from the Catholic church. He only wanted to reform it.  And he decried his name being used as a name for churches.

But he could never deny anything he read in Scripture. He was devoted to the Book and to Christ.

There is so much to Luther and to his story but the turning point for this man who wore out the confessional was when Scripture came alive to him.  By faith alone! The righteous live by faith alone not by the number of good things they do. He set the Holy Roman Empire ablaze with this insight. It was freedom! And it could not be quieted!

How long has it been since you read a truth in the Bible that you suddenly saw as if you had never seen it before? It is astonishing when it happens, when God pulls back the curtain on our blindness!

Romans 3: 23-24

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

Romans 3:28

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Personal Footnote:

Almost 3 months ago I injured my back during physical therapy. It was diagnosed as an annular tear, a tear of the tissue surrounding the disk. I was told it would take about 2 months of  rest for it to heal itself. The second month, the pain began to escalate. Last Thursday and again on Sunday I was in the emergency room with what felt like a stab to my lower back. Sudden unrelenting pain, so much so that I became panicked that it would happen again. I was afraid to stay at home by myself and Judge was afraid for me. His mother came in the mornings Monday-Wednesday before he left for work so there was no time when I was alone in the mornings. By Thursday my sense of panic began to ease and I was able to stay alone. To be honest, I am still afraid when I get out of my chair. It has been a very rough time for us.

I have another upcoming visit with my neurosurgeon and my pain clinic as well.

I have read a good bit about annular tears (while glued to my chair). They can take up to a year to heal but surgery should intervene after several months. And, they are excruciatingly painful (oh, really?)

I am tired. Tired of expecting the next attack of pain. Tired of being so preoccupied and tired of this chair. Tired of any kind of pressure to fulfill any obligation. Tired of panic.

I am going to take a hiatus from blog writing. I can’t even put two thoughts together.

Thank you for following and reading my blog. That has meant so much to me. If God brings me to mind, please keep me in your prayers. Maybe I will be able to start up the blog again soon.

In Christ’s love,

Jackie

Is Everything All Right?

Robert Browning (1812-1889)

from Pippa Passes

The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn:
God’s in His heaven— 
    All’s right with the world!

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While it is a nice poem, after the hurricanes I am not sure all is right with the world at least from our perspective. I see the destruction and broken hearts but also all the giving hearts and the resilience. Things never seem right with the world on a global perspective even when our private lives may resonate with Robert Browning’s verse.

No matter where you are personally on such a spectrum elsewhere it will be different until Heaven’s glory dawns.

Except for the fact that the year is at the autumn instead of the spring, my life on one level could fit the verse. On the other hand, I have been terribly sick for a few weeks, thus the inconsistency in my blog appearances.

Friday morning my husband had an important meeting at work. He refused to go even though I insisted I was fine. He said he could not leave me in that condition. I still insisted that I could take care of myself. He would not leave and within a couple of hours we were at the emergency room getting pain and steroid injections, increasing the dose of my anti-inflammatory and getting prednisone.

I am doing much better as long as I sit in my recliner and do not move unnecessarily but the side effects from the prednisone were worse than the cure. Had to nix that. As long as I can hold out till Monday. I am praying the orthopedist will give me an effective spinal injection. Please pray with me on that.

I guess that because I  have insurance and live in a place where I can readily get medical help makes things all right in my world. Of course, there is no guarantee that I will live with a healthy back after Monday. Fiddling around back there makes me nervous.

I can’t speak for hurricane survivors. I imagine some are extremely grateful while others are devastated.

I appreciate your patience with this rambling post. Comparing my painful injury to the event of a hurricane is not even sensical. So I ramble about my physical pain in the face of others emotional pain.

Please pray for me these next few days, especially on Monday.

Blessings to all of you!

Jackie

 

 

What It Means to be Held

THE EARTHSHAKING NAME OF GOD

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him (Moses) and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.  Exodus 34

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The following post by Vaneetha Rendall is raw yet tender. Vaneetha has experienced so much pain in her life. Pain from both physical and mental/emotional experiences have followed her most of her adult life yet in all she still hears and knows the name of God.

When I read a post like Vaneetha’s I am reminded of the seriousness and awe-filled name of the God we worship. I wanted to start out with his precious name before I reprinted this very raw post.  It minimizes my pain to nothing.

What It Means to be Held

By Vaneetha on Aug 31, 2017 03:31 pm

Paul Demski held 

This month marks twenty years since our beloved son Paul was born and I am reposting this article from 2014 about him and the song “Held.” I am reminded once again that God’s ways are not our ways, but we can trust that he will ultimately use all the sorrows in our lives for our joy and for his glory.

***

Burying my precious baby was devastating. I had no idea how to cope with his sudden unexpected death. True, Paul had been born with a heart problem, but he had survived the critical surgery at birth and was thriving. He’d come home from the hospital at three weeks old, and after a slow start, began gaining weight.

With his winsome smile, easy disposition, and mop of curly dark hair, he delighted us all. He was healthy and beautiful. Even the physician filling in for Paul’s regular cardiologist was so impressed with his progress that he impulsively eliminated most of his heart medications. Paul didn’t need them anymore. He was fine. At first, I was encouraged by the good news. But two days later, Paul was dead. He was only two months old.

I struggled to accept what had happened. That a doctor’s foolish mistake took my baby’s life. As I watched them lower Paul’s tiny casket, I buried my dreams for him. How could his life glorify God? I felt nothing good could come from his pointless death.

But God in His wisdom knew differently. He uses everything in our lives as we submit to Him. He can turn the broken and marred and ugly into something beautiful. And He did that with Paul’s death.

Month later, I shared the story of Paul’s life and death with a new friend. That friend, Christa Wells, is a recording artist who subsequently wrote the song “Held,” which begins with the story of Paul. The opening lyrics are raw:

“Two months is too little, they let him go. They had no sudden healing. To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling.”

The chorus provides the response,

“This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life, and you survive. This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was, when everything fell, we’d be held.”

The words of the chorus echo my experience. God loves us. He holds us in our pain. And because of his love and compassion, we can go through anything, knowing he’ll never leave us. We will always be held by him.

“Held” was recorded by Natalie Grant in 2006, and won numerous awards and touched countless lives. As I read messages from people who felt God’s comfort in their pain because of the song, I saw how Paul’s short life brought God glory. But none of the letters impacted me as much as seeing how it changed someone firsthand.

It had been a miserable rainy day and I was feeling sorry for myself, running behind on errands because of the stormy weather. Partially drenched, I ducked into a bagel shop to grab a quick lunch. It wasn’t busy, but the guy making my sandwich seemed interminably slow.

‘Couldn’t he go a little faster,’ I wondered, as I sighed impatiently. He was almost finished, just tearing the final leaf of lettuce, when “Held” came on the radio. As I heard the familiar chords, I felt my tension and irritation roll away. Thankful for the delay, I smiled and leaned against the counter to enjoy the moment, unhurried. Something healing had come out of my brokenness, and it was still healing me.

Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t notice that the young man making my sandwich had stopped. When I looked up, he was crying. Our eyes met and he apologetically mumbled, “I’m sorry. Are you in a hurry? Do you mind if I stop for a minute and listen to this song? You see, my mom died a few months ago, and this song “Held” is the only thing that got me through. It has meant so much to my whole family.”

I cringed at my prior impatience. Pulling myself together, I nodded and whispered, “Please do. Take as much time as you want. I love this song too.”

Time stopped as this stranger and I shared a sacred moment together. I stood in silence as he took in the song, mouthing the familiar words, as I recited them in my head. When the song was over, tears were streaming down my face as well. Tears of hope. And redemption.

I need that the song had touched thousands of people, but I’d never seen it firsthand. I had never witnessed its healing impact on broken people. I had never fully understood the way God was using it to comfort others. I’ll never forget that day. Seeing purpose in my suffering was more redemptive than I ever imagined. Though it didn’t take away the pain, it did take away its sharp sting. Knowing that God was using my loss made it easier to endure. It helped me see how God uses all of our suffering for our joy and his glory.

None of my other trials have been memorialized with a song, but God has brought meaning to them all. With each loss, he has pulled me closer to himself, held me tightly and shown me the depth of his comfort. The deeper the sorrow, the more profoundly he draws near.

He has also met me as I talk to others who have experienced their own suffering. I’m often tempted to shy away from sharing because I don’t want to relive the agony. It’s often less painful to stay on the surface with struggling people. It’s easier to remain detached. But inevitably when I do that, I leave emptier and more burdened.

I know how much it meant to me to talk to others who had walked similar paths. They were able to offer advice and insight; they understood the unique sorrows of my particular trial and they provided evidence that healing was indeed possible. In the pit, sometimes I doubted that. I wondered if I’d ever make it through. I questioned if the aching would ever stop. I wasn’t sure if I would ever laugh again. Just talking to them gave me hope for the future.

God uses us to comfort one another with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God. It is both a privilege and a responsibility. And as we tell others of God’s faithfulness in the midst of trial, it reminds us afresh that God will never forsake us. Though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will never walk alone.

 

adapted from the Archives

The post What It Means to be Held appeared first on Vaneetha Rendall.

You can read more of Vaneetha’s work at danceintherain.com.  This post was presented with her permission.

Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

Dutchess is a beautiful Christian and describes herself this way:
I am a woman on a mission to bring glory to God in everything she does. I am far from “there yet,” and I stumble and fall more than I would like. Yet,I continue to press on.

I have spent most of my professional career as a mentor, coach, advisor, and instructor to college students as a higher education administrator and adjunct professor. I have also spent time as a behavioral counselor and as executive director of a non-profit ministry.

My formal credentials include a B.S. in Psychology, an M.S. in Sport Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Education. But most importantly, I am a woman who desires to love God and love people – and who wants to make a difference in the lives of others. Life is short, and I want to live mine in a way that matters for Christ – and for eternity. This blog is a small piece of that puzzle.

Go with me back to 1954. Up until this point, no human being in recorded history had ever run a mile in less than 4 minutes. In fact, many believed that it was impossible. But in 1954, a man named Roger Bannister just that – the seemingly impossible. He ran a mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. Within 46 days, this record was broken. This thing that everyone thought was impossible was clearly, very possible.

And you know what happened? Others started clocking miles at under 4 minutes. Since Roger Bannister’s record breaking run, well over a thousand others have done the same. So what was going on here? How is it that once Bannister shattered the myth, others began to do what once seemed impossible for all?

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I believe it’s because of a little thing called self-limiting beliefs. Self-limiting beliefs are exactly what they sound like – thoughts or beliefs that limit us. They cause us to create boxes that we don’t step out of – and barriers that we neither move over or around. They keep us locked in self-defeating, sabotaging patterns and cycles. In short, self-limiting beliefs keep us stuck. But they don’t have to.

The truth of the matter is that we are capable of more than we think we are. But we can’t just say that. We have to believe it. So here’s my question – do you? I mean, do you really believe it – and does your life reflect it? Or, is it possible that self-limiting beliefs are keeping you from fully embracing the truth? And if so, how do you overcome this?

I’m glad you asked. We could go to many places in Scripture for an answer, but I love what Romans 12:2 says about the matter:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and
acceptable and perfect.”

If we are to be transformed, we must experience minds that have been renewed. We must develop new ways of thinking. Because here’s the thing – everything you’ve ever done started as a thought. Everything. No matter what it is, good, bad, or in between, we think it before we do it. So what we think about matters.

Have you ever been in a store, and a song was playing over the speakers, and it wasn’t even a song you particularly liked, yet later that day you found yourself singing that song? That’s because our minds are like sponges – soaking up whatever is in the atmosphere we place ourselves in. So, we must be careful to place ourselves in the right atmospheres – around the right people.

So, we overcome self-limiting beliefs by renewing our minds. We renew our minds by flooding them with the truth. The truth of Scripture. The truth that we find in positive environments – around positive people. If we’re consistently putting the right things into our minds, the truth about who we are, the truth about who God is – then, in time, our thinking will change and (hopefully) our self-limiting beliefs will begin to subside. But I have news for you. This isn’t enough.

Taking in positive, accurate information isn’t enough. At the end of the day, we must challenge our beliefs by testing them to see if they’re really true. In other words, we have to get out there and try. We actually have to do the seemingly impossible, to see if it really is impossible.

What if Roger Bannister had never even tried to run a mile in under 4 minutes? We might still be sitting around thinking it’s impossible. But we now know it’s very possible because someone actually tried. And that’s what we must do. Try. Put your life to the test. Give it your all and see what happens. Like the man with the withered hand, we must stretch it out even though it feels impossible, and we’ve never done it before. Like the lame man, even though we can’t walk, we must pick up our mats and walk. Like the priests crossing the Jordan River while carrying the ark, we’ve got to go ahead and put our foot in the water in order walk across to the other side.

So how about you? What self-limiting beliefs are keeping you bound? What lies might you be holding onto – either consciously or unconsciously? It’s time to break free. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to do away with the self-limiting beliefs. Are you in?

The Gift of Blessing

How toSurprise Your Husbandon hisBirthday.pngWe bless each other all the time (especially when we sneeze!) And, there’s “bless your heart. ” God bless you is a common term. So many times in Scripture we are addressed to Bless Him. How do we do that?

We might think that to bless someone is to wish good things happen to them. Then how do we Bless God? “God, I wish good things happen to you. . .?” “Have a blessed day, God!”

 Bless the LORD, O my soul! … Bless the LORD O my soul, O LORD my God.               Psalm 104:1

 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name! … Psalm 103:1

This is such a small sampling of our encouragement to Bless God.  As you can see, David talked to himself, telling his own soul to bless the Lord.

Bless the LORD, O my soul! … Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul! …    Psalm 103:22

To Bless has several meanings. I know you are aware. However, so often I will quote scripture without doing what it says. Ever do that? I may cry out in prayer, “Bless the Lord!” without following through to do  actually what it means. Speaking favorable things over him. To glorify. To speak about as holy. Let’s remember those things as we bless the Lord.

Blessing someone mortal does have a different meaning and that is to speak good things about someone. We don’t talk about each other to glorify them.

I am guessing you haven’t read anything new from me today but it was on my mind so I thought I would share it.

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Quick Catch Up

I was feeling better and for the first time in years felt like I could make some goals. First, I wanted to get spine therapy that would strength my core muscles since all my muscles are out of tone and weak. After that, yoga for seniors to help my balance and  then a class at the Y for diabetics including circuit training for old people like me. I am not diabetic but I am on my way if I don’t make some changes. Oh, yeah. weight watchers.

During goal number one, I hurt my back at physical therapy!  We cleared me with an MRI. but with my pain reliever I may not feel the strain I am experiencing. Except for going to the emergency room and seeing 3 doctors, I have hardly been out of my chair. The good news is that I will not need surgery. The bad news is that no more therapy for me for a while, but I should be walking. Now, for all my worries and concerns. The good news is that I do not have a herniated disk. I have what looks to be a tear in some kind of ring outside the spine. It needs lots of rest, some reasonable walking. Ice, heat and lots of rest. The bad news is that it should heal up in about two months! I cannot pick up anything over ten pounds.

But you know what? I am doing so much better than most people in the world. As are all of us who are reading this.

God loves you,

Jackie

Joni: After 50 Years of Quadriplegia, God’s Grace is Still Enough

By Vaneetha on Jul 20, 2017 04:28 pm

Once again Vaneetha is allowing us a glimpse of someone else’s pain, someone who still has the ability to enjoy her maker. I needed this and hope you will as well.

Many of you may have been acquainted with Joni Tada for many years now.

Joni and Ama

Can you imagine living with 50 years of quadriplegia? Relying on others for your every need, unable to care for yourself, needing help even to blow your nose?

Joni Eareckson Tada can. On July 30, 1967, when she was 17 years old, Joni was paralyzed from the neck down when she dove into deceptively shallow water in the Chesapeake Bay. This month marks 50 years that Joni has lived as a quadriplegic. From an outside perspective, it seems impossible to endure what Joni has endured and come out praising Jesus. But she has.

In her latest devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, Joni shares, “I happened to hear recently the old Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun” – a song I listened to when I was first injured. It reminded me of the dark, depressing days in the hospital when I thought I would never smile again, would never see the sunlight of hope. And now, nearly 50 years later, I still find myself thinking, how in the world did I ever make it? But here I am, living in joyful hope as though it were sunshine. How did that happen? Here’s how: day after day, month after month, year after year, I simply cast myself on Jesus. I clung to his name, crying out constantly, “Oh Jesus!”

Joni, who lives in joyful hope as though it were sunshine, has had to endure more than quadriplegia. She was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in 2010. And she lives with crushing chronic pain. To Joni, quadriplegia isn’t a big deal anymore; she’s learned to live with that. But the pain is hard to get used to, as it invades her life every day.

This week I had the privilege of speaking with Ama Cruz, who helps serve Joni. Ama is the mother of Nathan Cruz, who is a summer intern for my husband Joel. What a joy it was to discover that we both knew Joni. When Ama first started serving in the Tada home 1 ½ years ago, she was excited about getting to know Joni personally. But more importantly, she wanted to meet God through the lens of Joni. And she has. She has seen firsthand the faithfulness of God who lavishes grace on us.

Someone from Joni’s wake-up crew, affectionately known as “the Get-up Girls” who are pictured above, is there every morning to get her ready. And they get her ready regardless of whether Joni has slept well or not, whether she’s in agony or not, whether she wants to get up or not. Because she relies on helpers who are scheduled in advance, Joni doesn’t have the luxury of changing her mind at the last minute. Joni can’t hit the snooze alarm and decide she wants a little more sleep.

Often she is exhausted, but she continues to persevere. As she prays in her devotional, “Lord Jesus, sometimes I think my worst enemy is just being so tired – tired of the physical hassles, tired of the pain, tired of fighting off the whispers and mockery of the enemy. My stamina is almost gone and my tank is almost empty. Come quickly to my side. Be the strength and song I can’t pull together on my own.”

In a podcast interview, Joni said As a quadriplegic, I wake up in the morning and it’s hard. It is so hard having somebody else come into your bedroom [to brush your teeth and your hair]. It’s overwhelming at times,” she said. “During those times, I say, ‘Lord God, I cannot do this, but I can do all things through you as you strengthen me.’

Those who serve Joni can attest to the fact that Christ is her strength; she doesn’t complain. Ama says, “She doesn’t rant or grumble even though she is immersed in chronic pain and cannot use her body. Suffering is her constant companion, yet the Spirit of God is her comforter so she is always gracious. This is an act of the Holy Spirit.”

Joni sees that her response to suffering matters. In A Spectacle of Glory, she says, “In your natural self, you might complain about your routine or difficulties. In God’s strength, however, you bite your tongue and refuse to grumble, because you recognize God in those very situations.” She goes on to say, “I want [God] to gain glory through the way I live out this “normal” day… that people would see a difference between the way I would naturally respond and the way [God] enables me to respond by [his] Spirit. May people who observe my life see that gap and give the credit to [God].”

Joni doesn’t want the credit for herself. She wants it all to go to Jesus and encourages believers not to take the credit for strength in the midst of trials. Joni says, “Yes, we may show flashes of great strength in dark and desperate times – but it’s not our strength. For those who battle daily with chronic pain or physical disabilities, the reminders of our weakness are even more stark; we can never really forget how powerless we are. But that’s good!”

What has Ama learned after being with Joni? She’s learned to be grateful for all things. She understands that God intimately knows our pain and suffering. He doesn’t just meet us in our pain and suffering – he’s already there, waiting for us. And through serving Joni and her husband Ken, Ama has seen the great God they serve. A God who meets the disabled around the world and offers them his grace.

Ama has also worked with the ministry of Joni and Friends (JAF), and is quick to say that the ministry is not fundamentally about Joni. It is about trusting God and relying on his grace in all aspects of our lives. It’s about loving and embracing the disabled and disenfranchised, rather than overlooking them. It’s about ministering to the families of people affected by disability all over the world, sharing the gospel of hope.

Joni and Friends and their Wheels for the World program is changing lives. Ama, who has visited numerous countries with JAF, shared how people with disabilities in poorer countries struggle with no relief. They are marginalized and shunned, often treated as cursed. Ama vividly remembers a woman, lying prostrate on the dirt floor, begging God to let her live one day longer than her disabled son because otherwise no one would bother to care for him. Ama was heartbroken for her, yet marveled at this woman’s extraordinary walk with God.

Joni, along with countless disabled people and their families around the world, lives with a breathtaking dependence on Jesus and a supernatural sense of God’s presence. Joni says: “I wish I could adequately describe what it’s like when I’m aware of the overwhelming presence and power of God’s grace in my life. It’s like “living above” my wheelchair in a strata of heart-splitting joy that comes with God-breathed courage to tackle whatever lies ahead! Frankly, I believe that the more aware you are of God’s grace, the more joy and courage you will have. This raises the question: when are we most aware of God’s grace? It isn’t when we are riding high with the string of green lights and open doors before us. No, it’s when we are needy and feeling spiritually impoverished.”

Heart-splitting joy, God-breathed courage, the overwhelming presence and power of God- what a spectacular testimony to God’s grace.  Looking at the life of Joni Eareckson Tada, who after 50 years of quadriplegia is even more convinced that God’s grace is sufficient for her, I am in awe. Not in awe of Joni, but in awe of the God who comes to us in our suffering, gives us courage to tackle what lies ahead, who alone is worthy of all honor and praise.