Under His Wings, you will find refuge.

Under His Wings, you will find refuge.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Suffering and pain or death with dignity?

Recently, a Facebook friend of mine posted this question on her page? "What do you think about assisted suicide? Good or bad, give me your opinions..."

I wasn't surprised to see that many people who responded to her question felt that assisted suicide (in cases of the terminally ill or when someone is in a situation where that person is enduring tremendous chronic pain) is perfectly OK and is actually the right of the person to end their own life.

Death with dignity is the catch phrase used to end your own life on your own terms. Why should you suffer when you can end your life and be out of your pain. That phrase Death with Dignity made me think of one of my own favorite phrases.... "What would Jesus do'?

What does the Author of Life, God Almighty, think about anyone in his creation ending their lives in their own timing, not his?

It's a complicated subject and one that is highly charged, that is for sure. In all honesty as a person who has suffered greatly these past twenty years living with the progressive, debilitating disease multiple sclerosis, I would be a liar if I said that I hadn't at least thought about it on some of my worst days when I felt I just couldn't take it anymore.



It's very hard when you are in pain all day, every day. It's not for the faint of heart, that is certain. It's gotten harder as the years have gone by. Not being able to drive anymore and being home bound almost all the time now opens up new challenges. Having cognitive problems on top of that makes it doubly hard. But that is my life, and one that I have learned to accept. Besides, this life is only temporary, I'm just passing through on my way to be with Jesus.

Any of those deeply disturbing thoughts I've had about ending my own life, have been quickly overrun with what I think God would think about such an atrocity? How could I stand before Jesus and justify my actions? We all will account for every word and every action taken during our life at the judgement seat.

And what about my family? How could I do that to them? Having two family members of my husband end their life that way, I have witnessed first hand the devastation left behind for their loved ones to try and pick up.

And what about God's Grace? He gives us His Grace to help us in all situations, right? I certainly have found that to be very true.

I began to avidly search my "go-to" book of life, God's Word, the Bible. Any questions you have about life, the answers can be found within the pages of this treasured book. You need only seek, and truly, you will find.

Here are a couple of verses I found that popped right up to me.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Psalm 34:17-20

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

2nd Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

For me, the answers were clear and simple. Life is something given by God. Life is something to be treasured and protected at all costs, no matter what the circumstances. God can use your suffering and trials, if you let him. But you must seek His will to do that.



I certainly can understand and even empathize with those suffering through life living with chronic pain and living without hope. But the Lord doesn't want anyone to be without hope. He is the Hope of the World. Only He can bring Hope to a seemingly hopeless situation. He is the light of our lives.


The Bible points the way to anyone who is searching:

Romans 5:2-5 




Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I try everyday to take my suffering and use it to bring Glory to God. I'm sure I don't always succeed, but that is my goal. Suffering is part of this life. If we want a pain free life and body, we have to wait until we get to heaven. And anyway, why should I be sparred from suffering during my time here on earth when my Lord and Savior was nailed to a tree and died a horrifying brutal death? Kinda puts everything in perspective doesn't it? Sometimes I feel silly even complaining the least little bit about anything I've had to endure when I think about the suffering of Jesus.




He is the one who gives me the strength I need to face each new day, no matter what it may bring. I cling to this verse to help me on my toughest days:


1 Peter 4:12-19:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 

Thank you Lord for giving me the strength to get through even the toughest of days. Help me to continue to strive to bring you Glory, through it all.

My verses for today are above in red.

My prayer for today:

Lord Jesus, 

I pray today for those living without hope. I pray for those suffering in life without having you by their side. Ease their pain Lord. Be with them Lord, open their hearts to you. Give them the strength they need to reach out to you Lord, for we know that you are our only Hope. Thank you Lord for each new day.













Amen





Friday, April 14, 2017

What Easter means to me

Why did He do it? Why was he born? Why did He live on this earth a short 33 years only to be brutally beaten, humiliated. and spit at, Matthew 26:67 says "They spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" They made fun of him and He died a brutal death nailed to a cross. But Why? Why would He endure all this?

He did it for us. He did it for you and for me. Jesus Christ, son of God the Father Almighty, was born into this world of the virgin Mary for one purpose and one purpose alone. He was born to die. He was born to be a sacrifice for our sins. It was prophesied many times in the bible. Isaiah 53:7 told us "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…” 

He came because He fulfilled God's Holy Word  John 3:16 tells us this holy truth: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
                                     


Easter is the holiest day in the Christian calendar. It's what our faith is all about. We have hope because Jesus came, He lived and He died according to His Father's holy plan. He fulfilled the Scripture for us. 

Jesus was fully God and fully human. He knew and felt all the same emotions that you and I feel. 

He knew exactly what was going to happen to him. He knew he was going to be sacrificed for our sins but He obeyed His Father and did things according to His plan.

He could have said no. He could have turned His back and run in the other direction. But he didn't. He fulfilled the Holy Scripture and endured the horror of it all for us .Matthew 25:35 "And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots."

So what does all this mean to us? It means Hope. It means New Life. It means all things broken and torn down can become new again. 

Spring is a wonderful, blessed time of the year. Everything is new, everything is fresh and everything that has been dead all winter comes back to life. To me, it's not coincidental that Easter happens in Spring time.

Jesus, who suffered greatly, who endured the most horrific kind of death, was buried and on Easter Sunday He rose again from the dead. He rose to show us that we too, can have new life if we believe in Him. 

That is what gives me Hope. As I endure these increasingly difficult days living with the relentless disease of multiple sclerosis that is ravaging my body, I find my only true hope comes from the One who knows what suffering is all about.

In my MS prayer group, a Facebook friend of mine posted that she was discouraged by her advancing MS. She understandingly felt bitter about what MS had stolen from her and as her disease advanced she was certain that it was only going to get much worse and she would be a bitter old woman. I surely can relate. If I stop and look at how my life has changed over the course of these last almost 20 years since my MS diagnosis, I could go absolutely mad thinking about about how my life has declined from what it used to be. 

But those changes are in the comparison of what the world may expect from me. They have nothing at all to do with the Lord expects from me. He can use me in anyway, at anytime as long as I have breath in my body. I have to slap myself sometimes to remind myself of what is really important. 

To encourage my sweet friend, I told her that as believers we have Easter and Easter is about Hope. We may be suffering now, but one day our suffering will end and we will have brand new, undamaged bodies that we can walk with, and dance with and enjoy everything we are missing now. I reminded her that Satan wants her to feel defeated and will throw lies and anything he else he can think of to make her feel that way. Don't let him win I said!!!!

We have this Amazing Hope of Easter because Jesus came and died for us. He endured a horrible death and things that are surely unimaginable to us, so that we could have the promise of Hope, and the promise of New Life. 


If you are facing things in your life to seem insurmountable to you, stop. Stop and think about what Jesus faced. Turn your troubles over to Him and you too can have a New Life in Christ.Your troubles may not go away, but you will have the Creator of the Universe by your side to help you every step of the way and that makes all the difference in the world.


My verses for today are above in red.

My prayer for today:

Dear Lord:

Thank you for your son. Thank you for what he did for us on that cross. Thank you for sending Him to save us from our sins. I'm so grateful that He fulfilled your plan of salvation and endured horrible pain so that we may have new life. 

Help me to live each day for you. Help me to be a beacon on a hill that others may look to to see your glory. Help me to never complain because Lord I know I am surely blessed in spite of this nasty disease. Thank you for your Amazing Grace that gets me through each day.

In Jesus name I pray,
Amen








Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A witness to God's Amazing Grace...

The past year of my life has been 365 + days of seeing the incredible Hand of God at work. At work in my own life, in the life of my family and even in my country. I haven't written in my blog for months because frankly, we've been a bit overwhelmed by the events in our lives. But after working on this piece for the past few months, amid cognitive challenges, I think I'm ready to finally put it out there. Thank you Lord for getting us through this past year and for being with me to help me put these words in writing.

If anyone had told me back in 2015 that we would leave our home of 24 years in Florida, pack up and live in North Carolina for 9 months in our vacation home and then pack up again and move into a new home in Kentucky I would have said they were completely nuts. But it happened just that way with God directing each step.

If anyone had told me a year ago that Donald J. Trump, a extremely wealthy, bombastic TV star, (who began his unlikely Presidential Run in June of 2015) would end up winning the very close, and often brutal race for the White House I would have told them it could never happen.

But, Donald J. Trump is now the 45th President of the United States and Mike Pence, a God-fearing Evangelical Christian is his Vice-President.

So how could any of this happen? Many in this country are still shaking their heads and doing everything they can to RESIST this new President. I say, NEVER underestimate the power of prayer. Personal prayer and corporate prayer can move mountains. Our God listens to the prayers of His people. Period. James 5:16 tells us "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective," When you are praying in accordance to God's will, He truly does listens. 

This blog is going to be a bit unusual because I'm going to back and forth between my life personally and what I witnessed happening all around our country. It may seem a strange segue, but believe me, they are connected more than you may know.

My husband came to me between Christmas and New Years of 2015 with a dramatic idea. Let's leave Florida. I thought he had lost it. What? Move away from Florida? We've been living here since 1982. Our kids were raised here. All our friends are here. We still have family in the state. Are you mad, man?

He had just returned from a business trip to Kentucky to get some products priced. hooking up with an old colleague he worked with many years ago. He was very impressed with where he was working, the people he was working with (the company was owned by two preachers) and the area of the country he was living in. As he began his long ride home to Florida, the Lord began to work on Steve's heart. He thought,"I think I'd like to work there. It could be a lot of fun and I think I would fit into the company well. It would be great to get Nicki out of that heat.We could use a new adventure." The Lord was telling him that maybe our family needed a new direction.

Could we really start anew and move there when we were in our 60's? He had many conversations with his friend and they were interested in pursuing the idea about putting him on board, but they just didn't have room in the sales force at that time. Then he came home and told me about his idea.

We talked at length about it and we prayed about it. He had the prospect of a this new job in Kentucky but nothing was certain. Nothing was set, nothing was for sure. In many ways I thought it was a pipe dream, but I know my husband and when he puts his mind to something, there's no stopping him and he spoke with such conviction that God had directed him to do this, that I had to sit up and pay attention. He told me he was sick and tired of his current job, he was sick and tired of  the Florida heat, he needed a new adventure and he thought it would be good for our whole family. We'd be closer to our older son and his family including our sweet granddaughter Grace. We talked with our youngest son, who had moved home again about 6 months earlier. He was up for the adventure too. So we began a plan.

We put our house on the market, and began to show it. As anyone who has sold their home knows, when you put your house out there for sale, everyday you need to keep it clean and ready to show. After about 3 weeks of cleaning and showings every other day my husband looked at me and said "Why are we here during all this, why don't we go to North Carolina (we had a vacation home in the mountains), and let our realtor handle this .Let's do one last cleaning, back up and head north to wait it out. Plus that's closer to Kentucky anyway. If this thing in Kentucky comes through it's alot easier to drive over there from NC than from Florida." Another bonus was our oldest son and his wife and our darling granddaughter Grace lived in Weaverville, NC, about 40 minutes from our home in Waynesville. I would enjoy being closer to our only grandchild and be able to see her more than 2-3 times a year.,no matter how many months it lasted.



It seemed like a good plan to me, so we headed in March to North Carolina for who knows how long? Within 2 months, the house in Sarasota sold. We held out for the perfect price and they paid cash which was an extra bonus.We began the waiting process again.

We spent 9 months in North Carolina and my hubby and son spent those months working on the NC home because we knew we needed to put that on the market if we ended up in Kentucky. BUT, we just didn't know what the future was going to hold. We were totally putting our trust in the Lord and letting Him take the lead. It was a time of being in limbo or being in the desert as us Christians like so say.

Have you ever been there? Not knowing what was coming next? Wandering around in the desert like the Israelites did for 40 years? It can be a bit unnerving if you let it. But if you believe in the Lord and His promises to love and protect those who love Him, you can endure just about any situation. Waiting can actually strengthen your faith, but it' never easy. Isaiah 40:31 tells us "But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles,They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.:


So there we were in North Carolina, watching and waiting for the Lord. After about 6 months with no word from Kentucky, Steve decided to go out and look for a job in NC because we just weren't sure what was going to happen with the job in Kentucky. He said,"I'm sick of painting, I need to go back to work" We had been living on our savings but you can go through that pretty quick if there is no income coming in. We prayed about it and thought maybe God wants us to take action on our own? Steve did some research online and approached a few companies in his field. After a few interviews that went nowhere, he got in his car, got all dressed up in his pinstripe suit and proceeded to head to another interesting prospective company, but this one was 2 hours from our home. 



He pretty much got hired on the spot. WOW, we thought, this is another God-thing. Maybe the Lord does have other plans for us? It was a good job with good benefits plus we'd be closer to our family. Maybe God has changed his mind? Maybe He has a different plan for us. 

Steve loved his new boss, but it was definitely a problem with the plant being 2 hours away. logistically, it was becoming a issue. He was spending a lot of time going back and forth to the plant for new samples, etc. But he trudged on. We continued to wait and trust. He continued working the territory assigned to him not knowing what and if things were going to change.

Meanwhile in our country, an amazing thing was happening in the Presidential election. Donald Trump, the unlikely yet highly popular non-politician candidate seemed to be gaining momentum all over the country. There was a groundswell of support for him unlike anything anyone had ever seen in any of the many previous elections. 

Trump had a different message. America first! - Make American Great Again! The mainstream media didn't like anything about him. He was loud, outspoken and sometimes crude, which was nothing like any politician we had ever seen. He said what he thought, he wasn't guarded like most politicans. There was something about him that became endearing to millions of the working class of America. He touched a chord with many of those who had felt lost and left behind by past administrations. There were people that supported Trump who had never voted in their lives. They didn't trust politicians or Washington. He was truly a different kind of candidate and was tapping into something that was other politicians had obviously missed.

He talked about bringing back jobs, he talked about building a border to secure our country from the influx of Mexican immigrants, many of them illegal,and some of them criminals and stopping the flow of drugs that were coming in from our southern border. He talked about appointing conservative Supreme Court Justices. He talked about changing the heart of this country from the hard left almost socialistic policies of  President Obama back to more conservative values and I have to say I sure did like the sound of it. I was on board from the primaries on. 


Our family continued to pray and wait on the Lord's perfect timing. In September, a month after Steve began his job in NC, the call came from Kentucky. We had a important and hard decision to make. Do we go with the original plan to move on to Kentucky or stay where we were? It was a tough call. After much prayer and discussion, we decided to go with what we felt was God's original calling. It seemed a much better fit for Steve, and he was excited. Thank you Jesus! It was sad for us to leave our family, but we knew we'd only be 5 hours away, not 12 hours like when we were in Florida. 

Now we just needed to get into gear and get ourselves moved to yet another state! My husband spent many weekends in Kentucky trying to find the perfect house. You can see many houses on the app Zillow and get a pretty good idea of what they look like from the pictures that are posted. We spent many hours together looking at different houses in the surrounding area where he was going to begin working. I even made a trip over to look at some houses with him, but because of my disability, it just wasn't logical for me to go on every trip so we communicated via phone, text, and the internet. We just couldn't seem to find the right house. The area we were moving too wasn't big, and there weren't that many houses that seems to fit the criteria we needed. But we trusted that God was going to land us in the exact perfect home again, in His perfect time. We did put an offer in on one house and they wouldn't accept our counteroffer. We took it that the Lord didn't want us in that house and continued looking.

There was one home we came across in our searching that was intriguing. Zillow had a very detailed description of the house, which had been rebuilt from the ground up after a fire. It sounded on paper like exactly what we were looking for. The only thing was there weren't any pictures of the inside of the house? How could that be, I thought? How could any realtor list a house on the internet and not provide any pictures of it? It didn't make sense. I asked my hubby on his next trip to have the realtor we were working with see if he could get him in. 

Steve had looked at many houses mind you, measuring the doorways to make sure my scooter would get through them. Trying to find a nice basement for our son to live in because he came with us and we knew he needed his space. There were a lot of parameters we had decided on so it was making it more difficult.

So on his next trip, he went to the mystery house with the realtor, walked through it and after about 10 minutes said, I think this is it. He called me and said, I think we've found our new home. They proceeded to take pictures of each area of the house including the backyard and huge finished basement. I was sold. We made an offer and they countered and we countered again. They accepted. We had our house. Thank you Jesus. You always come through.

I knew that God was behind this house. That's why there weren't any pictures of the house on the Zillow site. I believe with all my heart, that the Lord was saving it for us. If there had been pictures posted , no doubt it would have been snatched up in a New York minute, but there was only a small number of people who read the description and moved on because there was nothing to look at. Thank you Lord for that. Your surely work in mysterious ways.





So, we have landed now and are getting settled in our new life in Kentucky. You just never know how God is going to work. Sometimes people to me, say what do you mean God has directed your steps? Clearly, that is exactly what happened in our life and in the life of our country. It's plain to me as the nose on my face.

The Lord is using the most unlikely of his servants, a brash reality TV star with a vision for a New America to lead us. Could and would the Most High God actually use this kind of man to lead our country? Sure, why not? Remember Nehemiah, God's servant,who rebuilt the wall in Jerusalem? The Lord has called many unlikely servants over these centuries to do His work. Not always the strongest believers, but that doesn't mean the God can't use them to do His Will. He can use anybody He wants to accomplish His will.

When I look at the election, when everyone, all the pollsters, all the left wing media had convinced us that Hillary Clinton was a for-sure shoo-in to win. Everyone on the left, and all the pundits were comfortable and convinced that she was going to win. They were all telling us Trump didn't have a path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidency. They had just about everyone convinced that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next President. They had to be right, right?

Wrong. The polls weren't in touch with the American people. There was a movement going on behind the scenes that they missed. There were people who had never voted in their entire lives who came out and voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And the Evangelical Christian vote was stronger than it had been in many years. I believe that is what propelled Donald Trump over the top.That and the working class of American who rose up and voted Republican for the first time in their lives.

Hillary Clinton lost the election. The left is devastated. Surprisingly, they have been the ones who are lashing back with intense hatred towards everything President Trump is trying to accomplish. Funny, because they were so sure that if Trump lost, his supports would go mad, but it's the other way around.

I can spot Satan and his minions every time. Spiritual warfare is very intense right now. 1st Peter 5:8 is a reminder to us all "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. ... 


I really feel for President Trump. He's not perfect, he's new at this, and he's trying hard to live up to his campaign promises. But, he is being ridiculed at every turn by the press and everybody on the left. In this social media world we live in, everybody has something to say about every thing he does. His cabinet appointments are being stalled and blocked by Congress. It's ridiculous. I think it's quite an embarrassment for our country. The whole world is watching while so many in our country disrespect the office of the Presidency. Quite sad.

That is why is it imperative that we continue to pray for our President and Vice President, asking the Lord to guide them, give them strength and protect them for the onslaught of hatred that is directed at them on a daily basis.

In my heart, I know exactly why Donald Trump and Mike Pence won the election. It was totally a God-Thing as I like to call them. They won because millions and millions of God-fearing people voted for them. They won because Christians prayed, and God listened to the cry of His people looking for someone new to take our country in a different direction.. We are after all, One Nation Under God, not matter how hard to left keeps trying to deny it.



For many years,unfortunately, our country has been going in the wrong direction. We had kicked God out of everything. Out of the classroom. our of our homes, out of our lives. That all was brought to a screeching halt the day Donald/Pence got elected. The Lord God honored the prayers of His people, and now the healing can begin.. A few weeks ago, the Vice President attended the Pro-Life March in Washington DC. That is the first time a highly elected official supported the cause of life  vs. abortion. That was a huge step forward to putting God first again in our country. He weeps every time one of his creations is needlessly murdered through the brutal act of abortion. 

Another thing that happened recently that was awesome. Prayer in the White House. There is a picture of The President, Vice President, Supreme Court Nominee Neal Gorsuch and others praying in the White House before the announcement was made. Unbelievable! I never thought I'd live to see that day again. That is totally a God-Thing, my friends! 



We now have a new leader. He isn't perfect, just like all of us, he's a sinner, and he has fallen short of God's glory. My prayer is that God's Grace will cover all those who are angry about life these days, and there are many. My prayer is that they will accept what has happened and accept our new President.

The Lord can do amazing things for those who believe. He truly can move mountains even if your faith is a small as a mustard seed. Matthew 17:20 reminds us all "Truly I tell youif you have faith as small as a mustard seedyou can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move" ...  

So what is the connection in all these events? God, of course. I've been a a firsthand witness to the incredible power of God in my own life and in the life of our country these past 15 months or so. 

One more thing to add for a last minute God -Thing, Our NC house has sold!!! We had been trying to sell that place on and off for 4 years but it just never happened.  I know now the reason why. God saved it for us to move into while we were making this transition to KY, Now that everything is finished, with all the improvements to the house complete and we don't need it anymore, it has finally sold in His perfect timing.. Thank you Jesus! 

If you turn your life over to the God of the Universe you will no doubt see the surprises He has in store for you. You just never know what's He's going to do next and that is what makes it so exciting to be a follower of Jesus Christ!!!

My verses for today are above in red.

My prayer for today

Dearest Heavenly Father, 

Lord, thank you for watching over our family this past year as we sought to follow your will and move in a totally different direction. Thank you for your provision. Thank you for your protection. Thank you for having everything fall into place according to your perfect will. It has been amazing to watch you orchestrate everything to perfection.

Thank you Lord for our new President and Vice-President. Be with them Lord. Protect them from the arrows of the evil one that are flung at them each and every day. Give them wisdom Lord. Give them your strength and protect them as they seek to move our country in a new and different direction

Lord, I pray for those hurting. I know their are many that are confused and upset that their candidate didn't win. Give them your peace Lord. Help to open their eyes to the truth. Help them to calm down and give this new administration a chance to lead before they want to destroy them. 


I ask all this in the mighty name of my sweet savior Jesus,
Amen,