Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Jesus my High Priest and Refuge

Don’t you love the Old Testament? I have learned an important lesson with the study of the Old Testament. Where the Old Testament deals with the physical it is for us a lesson in the spiritual. For example, today I was reading from Joshua 20 and found where God had provided a City of Refuge for those who had accidentally killed someone. They still had to take responsibility for their actions and there were still consequences they would pay, nevertheless they had a place they could run to for safety. When they arrived at the city of refuge they were to stand at the gate and state their case. I can imagine it would be something like this. “I have killed a man.” “I wish I hadn’t, wish I could take it all back, but I can’t.” “I am so sorry for what I have done.” “Please, help me.” At this time the elders of the city were to allow the killer (sinner) in for refuge. It was a safe place to stay until he was ultimately pardoned and set free. When did that occur? Ah, here you will see the beauty come together for you and I on this side of the Old Testament. He was ultimately pardoned and set free to go “home” when the high priest at the time died.

Ponder with me.

What was God doing? He was foreshadowing His Son, our High Priest!

We are all guilty of sin. All were born into sin; it is our nature. For those of us who experience Godly sorrow over our sin, accept responsibility for our sin and by faith accept the invitation to travel to the “City of Refuge,” we find just that refuge. Jesus Christ is our Refuge!

As I was reading I thought of two other ways that Jesus has provided a refuge for me this side of heaven. First, He gave me a church, a church family to be exact. As that killer (sinner) walked around that city you know who he met? That’s right; others just like him seeking refuge. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of a church family; a “city” of other sinners saved by a Refuge. Our church family is to be a refuge, a place where we love and help one another. I am so thankful to be apart of Jackson Park Baptist Church, they have loved and welcomed me as one of them. Second, the other refuge is His Holy Spirit. When I stay within the boundaries He has set up for me I am safe from my enemy’s attacks.

Because our High Priest died on our behalf we are free to go home. This isn’t just any home it is the home we were created for. It is a home that our High Priest is waiting to welcome us to with open arms. I probably won’t make it into His arms; I imagine I will be a complete mess at the bottom of His feet. So as we see the day approaching let’s be found encouraging each other in the knowledge that we are getting closer to our ultimate pardon; when we can go home and be completely free from the presence of sin! Hallelujah!

Take time to ponder with me today all the marvelous acts of our great and mighty God!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bragging on God!

The following is a long summary of the events in Brian and Laura Mitchell's journey with God. It is worth the reading.
The Lord has been so good to us! He is always faithful despite the way we are...even when we sometimes lose our focus on him, he remains faithful. This year has been a roller-coaster and the only reason i am here writing this is because of the grace of God. In June, Brian was in the hospital for 2 weeks for shingles which lead to meningitis and then he had his gallbladder taken out. During this stay, his liver started to swell b/c of all the medication he was given to control the meningitis and shingles. He suffers from genetic high cholesterol and triglycerides so he has to take medication for this daily in order to control it. Because of the aggravated liver situation, they had to discontinue all his meds to let the liver rest. He came home and 5 days later, I had my gallbladder removed. I had been having problems with it for a while and was progressively worsening. I was feeling so bad that i went ahead and scheduled the surgery as soon as he was out of the hospital. I laid in bed and recovered for 4 full days which was very difficult for me. I am not one to stay in bed and do nothing for more than 1 day...you know, every now and then we all need to relax and rest for a day. More than one day, is too much for me. Well, even though i am a nurse, i don't follow doctor's orders very well when it comes to me but now i know the Lord was preparing me for what was to follow which was the reason i actually followed doctor's orders (directed to my health) for probably the first time in my life...coincidence? No...like you say, GODincidence! He knew that I needed to be physically ready for what was to come. 5 days after my surgery, we had a family night and watched movies and spent quality time with the kids. The following morning, Brian went to have blood drawn for lab work so that he could be put back on his meds the next day. Brian began to feel bad in the afternoon and he went to bed early b/c he felt a little under the weather. The next day, on July 7th, he woke up feeling awful and with alot of abdominal pain and chest pain. I called his doctor as soon as they were open and he told me to immediately take him to the hospital as his blood work results showed his cholesterol and triglycerides were extremely high. The highest he had ever seen! At the emergency room, he was diagnosed with pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) as a result of his high cholesterol and triglycerides. Things very quickly started to spiral down....he was admitted to the intermediate care unit and 12 hours later he was in ICU as his health was very rapidly declining. He was in so much pain that they couldn't control it with the high doses of pain medications they were giving him and he became so dehydrated on that first day that they could not correct it fast enough. He was going into shock as his heart rate was very high and his blood pressure dropping. His lungs failed and they had to put him on a ventilator. In less than 48 hours, he went from spending time with us at home, having fun and enjoying life to being in ICU on life support. His kidneys later failed and the next morning on July 9th, the ICU doctor told me he only had hours to live...to prepare myself for the reality that he was not going to make it to see the next day. Of course i was in extreme shock! I couldn't believe what was happening. My first action was that I prayed and asked the Lord not take the love of my life, the father of our children away yet. I knew he would be in a much better place, but I couldn't come to terms with it. I begged him not to take him. In my own selfish nature, I didn't want to lose brian even though he would be in a much better place...right there with our Lord. I later began to pray that His will be done in Brian's life. If it is his will that brian be in glory with him, then how could I not want that to be done? I prayed and prayed and asked God for his will to be done even though I knew and He knew that I still wanted Brian here on earth with us, that I would accept whatever his plans were because I knew that God would be guiding me every step of the way. Well, the doctor was wrong. Brian lived to see the next day. The rest of the medical team would talk to me and tell me to pray and pray and pray because God was the only one that could save him and give him life. I would respond by telling them that i was already doing that and that we had many others praying as well. They responded by saying, "keep it up and do not stop praying!" For the next 5 days, he was severely critical. But the Lord had given me peace and I knew that he was going to make it through. I would read His word and I kept being led to Psalms 46:10..."Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Suddenly, his condition worsened even more...he developed blood clots in his legs and 2 traveled into his right lung. One clot in the lung is enough to kill you even if you are healthy. Here brian is...critically ill already in lung failure and still has 2 clots in one lung. They could not give him blood thinners to dissolve the clots because his pancreas was hemorrhaging and he could bleed to death. All we could do was sit and wait and pray that the lungs would not dislodge from where they were. Things looked very, very grim. A poor prognosis and nothing could be done to treat it. This was it...he wasn't going to make it. We all continued praying and I kept being led to Psalms 46:10. "Be still and know that I am God." I'm starting to go nuts here ya know?! I'm asking God, "Lord, you told me he was going to be okay and make it through this. What did I not understand?" Still, all I heard was...."Be still and KNOW that I am God." The next few days were very touch and go. Infections came and went, he had a total of 8 blood transfusions, they had to insert a feeding tube and became insulin dependent when he wasn't even a diabetic. They had to insert a tracheostomy because he was going to be on a ventilator long-term because his lungs would not respond. Some improvements in certain areas and worse in others until finally after 3 weeks in ICU, things started to look better. He was improving and they moved him out of ICU after 4 weeks there. He was unable to breathe on his own, unable to stand, unable to walk, unable to speak, unable to eat and had lost 50 lbs! He was transferred to a rehab hospital still on the ventilator where they had planned on him being there at least 1 month. His admission criteria to the rehab hospital was to be re-evaluated in 1 month for a longer inpatient stay. On Monday, August 7th, he was admitted to the rehab hospital. The respiratory therapists began to wean him off the ventilator and he was breathing on his own by Tuesday! They expected his tracheostomy to last several weeks until he would be able to breathe without it. On Wednesday, the tracheostomy was removed and was told it would take about 1-2 weeks to heal. His would was healed 2 days later!!!! Praise GOD! On Tuesday, physical therapy came and began their services and began teaching him to walk again with them completely supporting his weight. They expected him to walk on his own with a cane in approx. 3weeks. On Friday, 3 days later, he was completely walking on his own unassisted! Praise the Lord!! He was eating, talking, walking and breathing all on his own in 3 days! His rehab stay was expected to be at least 6-8 weeks and he was discharged one week after he was admitted there! Praise the Lord! God is so good! All the staff was amazed at how great he was doing and they saw the miracle happen right before their eyes! Brian came home and about one month later was diagnosed with pancreatic pseudocysts that had developed. He had surgery on Sept. 25th to remove the pseudocysts that were in his abdomen. The surgeon had said there was somewhere around 8-9 of them. He was in the hospital for 6 weeks because his abdomen was left open to heal from the inside out due to the complex surgery he had. While there, he developed an abscess (large pocket of pus) in his abdomen. The infection cleared up and was eventually discharged home. He came home once again on Oct. 28th and what a joyful reunion it was! I have had to pack his open wound every day, sometimes twice a day to allow the abscess and drainage to drain and the fact that it never became infected again is in itself a miracle!!! He was home for Thanksgiving and we had so much to be thankful for!! In Brian, we have a true miracle!! He was home for Christmas and we had the best Christmas ever. The Lord has been so good to us! His mercy is everlasting! Even though we are sinners, he still remains faithful to us! This summer when Brian was in ICU so very ill, my clothes dryer broke for the 4th time and as I was leaving to go shopping for a new one, not knowing how I could afford it with Brian not having been at work for 6 weeks already, my cousin called me and was bringing over her 5 year old dryer that had never had a single problem for me to have. She had recently purchased a new one just because she had gotten such a great deal on it and had her old dryer sitting in her garage. Her husband and her came over and set it up while I was at the hospital with Brian. What an awesome GOD! My sister took time off work to become my children's second mommy as I was at the hospital all day with Brian so ill! My parents, family, Brian's dad and step-mom, friends and church family were all there to support me and bring me dinner, pray for me and Brian, bring the kids and my sister dinner, and just to be there for us all! I was so amazed at how I felt God's love surround me through so many wonderful and caring people! Pam, i'm talking people from church that I never expected....those of little faith at the business meetings....you know who I'm talking about. They were ALL there at one point or another. I know that this event has brought the church family together and I just hope and pray that they see and are able to learn through this how amazing and faithful God truly is!! Our financial situation hasn't even been an issue, all praise to Jehovah Jireh! Brian would earn twice my salary and I haven't had to ask anyone for anything because when I begin to worry when finances are dwindling, he sends us a financial blessing in some form or another!! I cannot even begin to put into words how I feel! How blessed we are and how good our Lord is to us!! We have all just been in awe of his works and his glory!!

Brian will be having surgery once again on Saturday, January 5th, as he developed a new pseudocyst and that abscess continues to fill with fluid but it still remains without infection...Praise the Lord!! The surgeon will remove the abscess and pseudocyst, Lord willing. We pray that Brian will come through the surgery well but above all, we pray that God's will be done in Brian's life, whatever that may be. We are so grateful for his blessings for they are many. We have enjoyed each other, the kids and our own little family like we nerve have before. We had taken so many things for granted and we praise God that we are able to look at life a little differently now. We are much happier people and we live to enjoy each day because we really don't know how many days we have left here on earth. Most importantly, we live for Him, because it is because of Him that we are all here. We love to serve God in any way we can, even more so now after this ordeal because we want everyone to know that He still does perform miracles!! We knew it all along but now the world can know it too! When time permits later, remind me down the way, and I'll write you about my "being blameless" situation. I miss your blogs and can't wait til your next one. I'm glad that the Lord has sent you all to your new home and new place of ministry. I will continue praying for you both and I thank God for you as you have shown me his awesome love in a different light than what I knew and I thank you for being his willing and loving servant! God bless you!
Love you,

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm Still Here!

Greetings from the great city of Kannapolis! Many of you may have thought I had fallen off the face of the earth. I have been very busy with working long hours right up till we left Dallas then driving in the rain all the way to New York.

What a great joy to spend a day with Grant in his place! I am so proud of him. When I saw his apartment, his very clean and stylish room and then the organized closet; I had to make sure it was my son, Grant. His roommate Kenny said that Grant gets on to him when he leaves things out. This is the same child that brought terror to my heart when I broke down and made him clean his room. I knew I would have 6 loads of laundry to do and a quarter of them would be folded still! I am reminded that nothing is impossible with the LORD. Grant's roommate (Kenny) is 26 and has an 18 month old child and a step daughter who is 6. He has recently been divorced from his wife and seeking full custody of his son. He found his wife doing drugs and is very concerned for his child. Kenny brought his children over while we were visiting and Destiny and KJ immediately began looking for Matt (Grant). I was very proud of Grant and his attention to these two. He has often watched them for Kenny when he has had to go to work. I have no doubt that Grant will be a wonderful father to my five granddaughters!

After I helped Grant put away all the stuff we brought him we left for Virginia. We arrived at Chad's and Amanda's on the 24th; exhausted.

Amanda has made her little apartment a wonderful and cozy home. She and Chad made us a good breakfast and a wonderful Christmas day lunch with all the trimmings. Of course the center of attention was Clay. He has great personality and is very smart. Memaw watched him as he took a bubble bath and he squirted her with water. He laughed and laughed and so did Memaw. On Christmas morning he had unwrapped two presents and opened the third to find a toy to play in the bubble bath. That was it for the day. He wanted to stop and take a bubble bath. "Clay, wants to take a bubble bath." I have included a picture of Clay pleading with his daddy, "Pleaseeeee Daddy." "Clay want to take a bubble bath." "Pleaseeee" Needless to say we had a wonderful time with Clay. And am so very grateful to God for bringing us so much closer to him. They are planning to come the last week in January for a visit.

We left Virginia on the 26th headed to our new home in Kannapolis. We had found out the day before Christmas that we would not be able to get into the parsonage as quickly as we thought. The church in their graciousness were very busy cleaning, painting and steaming the carpets. We found ourselves staying at a hotel for several days and nights. You can imagine our anxiousness to settle down somewhere. Our truck came on the 29th about fours hours late. We did a great many people who showed up to help and we thought we would do it in two days but you know Jon it was all finished within a few hours. All the boxes were left in the garage but the furniture was all in place.

The church had already voted to sell the parsonage. We love the neighborhood so much that we are going to attempt to buy. There is a Dr. and his family directly behind us. They greeted us with banana nut bread. across the side street from us is a Pastor of the Presbyterian church and his family. He and his oder son helped us unload. His gracious wife brought us milk. cereal and juice. We have also met another neighbor who told us we would need a switch for all the kids in the neighborhood. There are bookoos of kids running around. We love the neighborhood! I really like the outside of the parsonage as well. I have a great deck and a front porch; something I have always longed for. The inside is a bit choppy and needs cosmetic updating. I'm up for the challenge and Jon and I have made some plans for what we would do to the house if we can afford to buy the home. We are praying that we can. I really don't want to move again. Jon mentioned all our boxes are unpacked? Ask him who unpacked them.

Grant and Anneen arrived about an hour before the truck arrived. Poor guy didn't even get out of this move. They were able to stay a week with us. During the day Grant drove me on to get every box unpacked. He was making sure he had all his stuff. During the night we played on average three games a night. Grant and I both love playing games so we were having the time of our lives. I regret that I wasn't set up to cook more and do more special things with them both; but they'll be back this summer. We were able to celebrate Grant's birthday with him this year. I made him his traditional cake with lit candles and a song. We spend the day at the big mall and then went out to Red Lobster and treated Grant to his favorite Crab Legs. He and Anneen left on the 6th at 4:30am...just like his dad. I miss him already.

So here I sit in my Holy of Holies; the only room that is completely a mess. My bookshelves didn't take the trip too well so they wound up in the garage for storage. Jon is going to build me new shelves so in the meantime they are stacked up against a wall. So here I sit. Transition is hard. Jon of course has moved right into his office, having meetings, preaching and teaching. So here I sit. I am so very thankful for my God's deliverance and His gracious provision. I truly see GREAT things ahead for Jackson Park. Here I sit. Do you get the feeling that it is hard for me to sit? I'm about to explode. I wanna teach so bad I literally have an ache. I want to shout and declare the goodness of my God so bad, I can hardly contain myself. Here I sit, contained. God has been so active in my journey through the desert and then the valley. I have learned much. At times He was overwhelming me with all I needed to learn. Yet, here I sit. Even as I type (off the cuff) I am overflowing with love for Him and the desire that all would know HE IS ALIVE! Yes, here I sit....but I am not sitting alone. In the LORD's field of daisy's there is a small table where we sit across from one another. He breaks His bread and shares it with me. I am full yet wanting more. This is not my imagination nor am I day dreaming, He is alive. I sit with Him and I am satisfied.

From our time together today, I know that He is sending me out that eyes may be opened. He wants people to 1.) RECEIVE....His forgiveness, Himself 2.) GIVE UP.....their rights to themselves and 3.) Minister....to others. Please pray for me to know when, where and how.