Miraculous Preservation

A common concern among caregivers, especially parents of children who have disabilities, is what will happen to our children if they outlive us. And as middle age comes, depending on the degree of toll in caregiving and other life circumstances, we caregivers tend to fear that our bodies may wear our long before we actually die. What then?

And so we pray a lot. As we’re able, we do some planning. Having an estate plan in place offers some peace of mind as does doing lots of documentation for those who will be inheriting the caregiving responsibilities. Our family has had many conversations about this and those are always very reassuring as well. But at the day’s end, when my body is aching and I’m weary to the bone (as they say), I’m left with taking it all to the Lord in prayer and begging him to preserve and protect my husband and I for as long has He possibly will!

Today I was reading the accounts of a missionary who travelled a ship between England and China in the 1930s. The ship’s route took them through the Red Sea with full views of the desert places where the Exodus occurred. Audrey Johnson’s pondering jumped off the page at me with reassurance that God’s capacity to preserve and protect His children is not limited by our physical bodies and minds.  

Audrey wrote:

Probably no one who reads Exodus can fully enter into that miracle of absolute dependence upon our faithful God who revealed Himself so clearly that throughout Israelite history and Psalms this miraculous preservation and protection was never forgotten. Think for instance of Deuteronomy 29:5 (which says): 

“For forty years God has led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes haven’t become old, and your shoes haven’t worn out” (TLB).

Audrey Wetherell Johnson

I want to remember this verse and the underlying promise it carries for our family too. Nothing has changed about God, His promises or His abilities. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday as He is today and forever. His character, power, goodness and accessibility remains as certain for me as it was for Moses. In fact, it’s even better because I (we) have access to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit!  

The very same God who so faithfully cared for the people of Israel makes the same kind of promise to me. His protection may look differently than I’m expecting but it remains dependable and will surprise me in the best of ways.

Whether you are a fellow sojourner down the caregiving road with me or someone who just needs reassurance, let us be confident of this — God is creatively preparing all kinds of “miraculous preservation” for us and for those we love.

Jeremiah 29:10-13
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.”


This post was inspired by the book Created for Commitment by A. Wetherell Johnson, founder of Bible Study Fellowship.

Christmas Worship Like the First Time (Part 2)

One definition of worship is “to express reverence or adoration of someone or some thing.” By this definition we have all been guilty, at one time or another, of showing more affection, appreciation and priority for other people, places, objects and activities in our lives than we have shown toward God Himself.

Jesus knew that true children of God would make it their priority to follow Him into the world proclaiming the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:57-62). People who are awakened to the joy of their salvation want everything about their lives to reflect the One who has rescued them.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:7-14

Jesus Himself often told people to go tell their friends and family what God had done for them (Mark 5:18-20, Luke 8:39). But there were also many times when Jesus didn’t specifically instruct someone to go and tell. They just did. They did because they were so moved by Jesus’ compassion toward them and His power of transformation in their lives that they couldn’t stop talking about Him! And the passion of their testimony paired with the evidence seen in their renovated lives caused people to be amazed and worship God (Mark 2:11-12).

Oh, that our enthusiasm and gratitude would overflow as worship (Psalm 23:5, Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 4:15, 2 Corinthians 8:2, 2 Corinthians 9:12, Colossians 2:7)!

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9

Lifting our eyes to see God and then giving voice to what we see is worship. What we see and say about God will also lead other people to worship.

This reflection on worship is excerpted from “Living Your Glory Story” available at Amazon and the Walk Right In Ministries store.  Copyright © 2013 Walk Right In Ministries. All rights reserved.


Jamieson’s “Toughest Struggles” Interview Re-Airs


A couple of years ago, Larry and I were invited to do an interview with WORDS TO LIVE BY RADIO. We shared about how we experienced God in the early years of Carly’s life when disability was devastatingly new and we struggled to ask for help so Carly might thrive. That episode is re-airing again this coming weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 13 & 14

I hope it’s encouraging to you. Please join us in praying that God will use this once again to reach into things like broken heartedness, hopelessness and loneliness. 

To learn where you can hear the interview on a station in your area, call 616-974-2210 with your zip code handy or just visit this link — http://words.net/2010/06/04/finding-hope-in-one-of-life’s-toughest-struggles-–-larry-lisa’s-story/

For more of the story about those early years, read Finding Glory in the Thorns — the book about how Carly, her family and the community surrounding them experienced love, hope and unexpected miracles in the midst of shared struggles.  Finding Glory in the Thorns and the small group curriculum Finding Glory Group Discussion Guide are both available at the Walk Right In Ministries store and Amazon. Finding Glory in the Thorns is also available for your eReader on Kindle, Nook and iBook (Apple).  

Madelyn’s Glory Story “Today’s Tests are Tomorrow’s Testimonies”

Today’s Glory Story comes from Madelyn who has just been given an overwhelming cancer diagnosis but the gift of a great sense of God’s purpose. She is embracing what lies ahead in a way that is refreshing and profoundly inspiring to me. Many times over the years, I’ve wondered how I would respond if a doctor gave me such news. Have you wondered the same? Since both of my parents are survivors of aggressive forms of cancer, the possibility of receiving that kind of report seems too real sometimes but, thankfully, so does the hope of leading a thriving life after God’s merciful miracles of healing and protection.
 
Madelyn’s story reminds us that we need not—must not—be afraid of adversity. Hope rises out of adversity because we live on God’s sure promises and can always anticipate the surprises of His love.  
 
I’m 63 years old and have been married for 42 years. Mike and I have one stepson, two sons, two daughters-in-law and three granddaughters. I have been physically active most of my life playing tennis, quilting, roller blading, riding bike, etc.
 
On December 18, 2013, my husband took me to urgent care. I’d had three days of high fever, chest pain, and coughing with what we thought was the flu. When the nurses took my blood pressure it was 89/54 so the doctor insisted I go to an emergency room by ambulance. I was immediately given IV fluids, an array of tests and then, despite my resistance, a CT scan.
 
The ER doctor explained that I had a large mass growing on my tailbone and he suspected cancer. I was given an MRI and more blood draws to confirm this. Hospital staff said that I must have had angels bring me to the hospital, as most tests would never have shown this tumor. My pain was in my chest and not in the lower areas of my body. The ER doctor just felt “led” to request the CT scan of the pelvis! (Of course we know it was the Holy Spirit guiding him.)
 
I was given the oncologist’s contact information and told to call in the morning. We met within a few days and a biopsy confirmed plasmacytoma. Then I had a bone marrow biopsy that confirmed multiple myeloma as well. Mike and I have been in shock because the oncologist said this has been growing in me for a couple of years. I’ve had very little pain and thought my lower back pain was from too much tennis!
 
I’m sharing the details about how I came to find this out because both Mike and I realized it wasn’t us making the decisions and guiding the doctors—it was God! We’ve had tears, disbelief, and lots of questions. We are gaining wisdom about cancer and medical issues that neither one of us ever wanted to learn. But because I know that God is in this life with us, and as I see how He has directed and orchestrated what we couldn’t have thought to do, then I know God is in the rest of this battle called cancer too.
 
Madelyn has already started radiation and chemotherapy. And God is already breathing life into her testimony. Consider this excerpt from a letter she shared with family and friends just a couple of days ago:
 
I had asked the Lord to provide hands that need holding and for me to give comfort to others as I began this journey. Today I recognized a man from Trilogy in the chair across the room from me. I went over to him…he and his wife used to live right behind our house in Trilogy. He has lung cancer in both lungs. He said that if this series of chemo doesn’t work, they’ve given him several months to live. Please add this couple (I used to play tennis with the wife) to your prayers.
 
I got to hold both of their hands and tell them that the Lord is with them and will provide them with healing and hope however that should happen. They said they believed that too. Their daughter also has cancer!
 
I see how God has provided for me this opportunity to serve Him, praise Him, and be a witness even when life seems to have handed me a “rough road to walk.” …Isn’t God faithful!?!
 
The verses that I am reading and praying are from Philippians 4:4-9:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
 
I’m looking ahead and not behind me for today’s tests are tomorrow’s testimonies.
 
Madelyn told me yesterday, I’m actually excited to see the opportunities that lie ahead of us in all this! I feel a new boldness yet gentleness about who God is and how I am His dearly loved child! I am looking to Jesus Christ who is the author and perfecter of our faith.”
 
One of Madelyn’s family members who has struggled with addiction is encountering God too. She shared her excitement with me saying, “It is absolutely God who is at work in the lives and hearts of the people all around me through getting this cancer! So many things are happening that I can hardly take it all in! Praise and honor to God who provided the way of salvation in Christ Jesus!”
 
WOW. This wife, mother and grandmother is being called out to unknown waters but she knows Whose child she is and her encouragement comes from knowing God is already doing marvelous things with her story. Though her experiences are fresh and raw right now, her heart is fully yielded to God’s ways and purposes. She and her family will need our prayers.
 
 
HEAVENLY FATHER, thank you for showing us how intimately powerful You are in the details of our lives. Thank you for showing us Your mighty hand in Madelyn’s proper diagnosis. Please use her experience to soften and strengthen many in relationship toward You. According to your will, we ask for a miracle of complete healing in Jesus’ name! Put the spotlight on Your power and compassion so that doubters are reassured and skeptics can’t help but turn toward You. Thank you for being Madelyn’s strength, comfort, guide and shield. Let her not be shaken, Lord, and equip he for every good work according to the riches she has in Christ. Give her family peace and joy as they walk through this together. Surround them with supporters who will stand with them as practical and prayerful helpmates. We rest in Your faithfulness, Oh Lord!  AMEN

Recapping the Summit

Larry and I returned from the 2013 Accessibility Summit on Sunday night and I’ve been anxious to give an update and express our gratitude ever since!  It’s always hard to believe so much can happen in just a couple of days.  Frankly, I’m still processing it all.  God is doing beautiful things within the broad community of people serving in disability ministry and we’re especially grateful right now for friends at McLean Bible Church who host this annual conference attended by almost 600 people.  Our experiences shared today are representative of many similar stories from hundreds of folks who are planting seeds and reaping harvests of encouragement, insight and soul-saving work.  
God is always faithful and we had the privilege of seeing that in so many ways before, during and since the conference.
  • We were sent off with the great personal encouragement of notes from our prayer team — so empowering and comforting.
  • Just before leaving we found out our dear friends Kirk Stoa and daughter Jana were in DC so dinner was arranged and we spent our first night treated by really fun fellowship and a fabulous meal.  We received that as a personal touch from God Himself who knew just what would kick off our trip perfectly.
  • A group of special needs moms who have been using the Finding Glory small group curriculum asked to meet us for breakfast on Friday. During our rich conversation and prayer time, they shared that one of the moms in their group had left the church for another religion after her child was born with disabilities.  These women invited her to participate in their group and then as they all shared Glory Stories the last week, this woman gave her testimony.  As a result of their study and fellowship together, she’s come to full faith in Jesus Christ and caught God’s vision for His good purposes in her challenges! Well done ladies!
  • God answered many prayers as it relates to the keynote speakers this year who gave hope-filled messages and proclaimed Christ clearly.  Clay Dyer, professional bass fisherman born without legs and only part of one arm was a firecracker of energy.  Emily Colson (daughter of Chuck Colson and author of the beautiful book Dancing with Max) was fabulous.  We had the opportunity to meet her a the leader’s lunch.  She’s down-to-earth, courageous, inspiring and delightful!
  • Larry gave his presentation “The Importance of Special Dads” to a packed room of men and a couple of women.  The strong male turnout alone was a huge answer to the prayers of conference organizers who share our heart to engage and spur on dads who are faced with the enormous challenge of leading their special needs families.  Larry shared very helpful insights and generated powerful discussion among participants.  Of course, he kept them laughing too.  I was so proud and blessed to see Him in his elemenand know that I get to be one his love spills out on every day.  I’m very excited to see how God is going to increasingly use CLC Christian Leadership Concepts to develop men in all areas of their lives.
  • There were hundreds of visitors who came by our exhibit and so many hungry for prayer and encouragement. It was gratifying to serve that way and to meet many with a strong interest in using the Finding Glory small group curriculum in their churches.  I believe we sold over 30 copies of Finding Glory in the Thorns and at least that many FG Discussion Guides. One church in Houston, TX is starting their group this spring and bought 12 study packages.  Another woman came by the table to tell us their group is currently on Lesson 4 and one of the participants just accepted Christ as Savior and Lord!
  • God is opening eyes and hearts about the need to care for those who are in caregiving roles as well as the often forgotten/lost group of people experiencing mental health issues.  We were thankful to see there is growing sensitivity to the demanding role of caring for aging parents too.  We are increasingly hearing about churches using the Finding Glory curriculum for “Caregiver Support Groups.”
  • God gave insights and resources to church leaders wanting to do better reaching out to special families. I had the privilege of being a panelist for a session with these folks serving alongside Joe and Cindi Ferrini (FamilyLife speakers and authors of Unexpected Journey), Karen Jackson (director of Faith Inclusion Network), and Jolene Philo (author of Different Dream Parenting).  I know God stretched and encouraged all of us during that conversation.
  • We got to exhibit right beside our friends Nathan and Laurie Chuba from Virginia.  We met them at the Summit last year and Laurie immediately volunteered to serve on the Walk Right In Ministries Intercessory Prayer Team.  What a joy and privilege to share those hours with them and then finish the weekend with a wonderful prayer time with them.
  • Larry and I had a quick day afterwards to sleep in and play a little including part of an Orioles game and some sunshine before heading back to “Narnia.” (For those who don’t know, they had 13 inches of snow while we were gone and school for two of our daughters was cancelled.  Prom pictures were taken from a snow drift just for posterity!)
  • Carly was very well cared for by my folks while we were away and grand memories were made as Erin experienced her senior prom surrounded by her grandparents, both sisters and many friends.  Praise God everyone stayed safe and healthy.
I was hoping to keep this recap of Glory Stories shorter but there really is SO much to tell and I believe God wants all of us regularly putting His power and presence on display (Psalm 20:7, 34:2, 96:2-3).  So thank you for indulging me, for praying with us, and for helping others to know that God is very much alive and His Word is active among us!  Save the date now for the next Accessibility Summit coming April 4-5, 2014.
And whenever you have a Glory Story of your own to share, will you please let us know?  Our Intercessory Prayer Team loves to celebrate and sometimes it’s appropriate that we share those stories for powerful encouragement at this Blog.
May God bless you today.  Please keep praying for the growth of disability ministry in the Church, for people experiencing disabilities, for caregivers and their families and that God would be made known throughout all of this stretched and courageous community of precious people!  
We’re very grateful for the opportunity to walk with you in Christ.

Prayerfully Pondering Life, Loss & Newtown

In the past few days (particularly in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, CT), I have found it helpful to chew on these quotes and verses about life and loss.  I pray that it may be helpful to you also as you take your own heart and mind to the feet of Jesus for comfort, strength and wisdom.

The world needed a suffering Sovereign. Mere suffering would not do. Mere sovereignty would not do. The one is not strong enough to save; the other is not weak enough to sympathize.”  From How Does Jesus Come to Newtown? by Pastor John Piper. 

“We were talking about the shooting and how it is devastating. They reminded me of all the babies America kills daily in women’s wombs, yet we do not mourn over that.”  From my friend Nathan Haugen. 

 “The life that we live falls short of the life God gave us.”  From Tis More Blessed to Receive 12.16.12 by Pastor Dan Johnson.

***


Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 


John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 14:1

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

John 1:12

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Matthew 19:14

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

1 John 4:12

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 Peter 3:13-14

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.

Luke 2:10-11

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”


***

I am empowered and comforted to FEAR NOT! No matter what circumstances surround us, God stands in authority and is the suffering Sovereign.

Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

Thoughout history, God has asked his people to celebrate His presence among them and care for them. The Old Testament feasts celebrated God’s faithfulness and the Last Supper commemorates the new covenant we share with God through Christ’s shed blood. God knows our nature. We need to remember His faithfulness regularly so Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Consider today’s scripture and discussion questions as it relates to remembering God and declaring His presence so that others will know and remember Him also:

He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” Joshua 4:21-24

When the nation of Israel had finished crossing the Jordan River, the Lord told Joshua to construct a memorial. Why do you think God insisted on this?

Specifically, what might God want you to DO (like setting up a pile of stones) or SAY (share a Glory Story) so that people will know that God is very much alive, present and active among us and that the hand of the Lord is powerful?

If you are part of a past or current Finding Glory Group, please give us your feedback about what is going well, what could be better, and how God is working. Your comments help us develop and improve future resources. Please write us at larry@walkrightin.org or lisa@walkrightin.org.

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

Even the great heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 did not always get to see the fruits of their faithfulness. Consider this scripture and question today:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1-2
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39-40

Have you ever felt impatient or dissatisfied when God’s ripples (His purposes, spiritual fruit, good gifts) weren’t tangible or visible enough to you?

What inspired the patient endurance of those faithful “ancients?”

What nurtures your own faith and endurance when the fruit of your faithfulness is not very visible?

These “Finding Glory Wednesdays” posts are an online discussion series based on the books Finding Glory in the Thorns and the companion Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide by Larry and Lisa Jamieson. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.