Reservation for One, Please

Christians often speak about a longing for heaven.  I must admit, I have always had difficulty thinking about heaven with enough energy to ever conjure up a longing for it.  I just didn’t understand what this longing was all about.  In fact, I avoided the thought of heaven altogether, not because I didn’t want to think about it, but because my pea brained mind could not begin to imagine it.  Plus,  I didn’t want to think about my own death.  I had fear.  I had doubts about whether or not I would even go to heaven.  I loved this world too much and wasn’t ready for heaven.  Some thoughts were:  “Heaven might be boring” and “what am I going to do for eternity?  So many obstacles kept me from really dwelling on the thought of heaven, so I never developed a longing for it.

But over the past year, I have begun to think about heaven an awful lot.  Who wouldn’t?  As I’ve read through the gospels on my first few months off, I began to have less fear.  I began to really think about what it might be like.

Then I heard a something that I cannot even remember where I heard it, but it was in a sermon somewhere.  (I listen to a lot of them from differing pastors).  It was about God reserving my place in heaven from eternity past.  Because He knew before the foundation of the world, that He would save me from my sins, He has RESERVED for me my spot in heaven.  How marvelous is that!  So one day, when I pass directly from this consciousness to another one, I will be able to stand before Him and say “reservation for one, please”.  Now I know it won’t happen exactly like that, I am sure I will be speechless in the presence of such holiness, but you get my point.  I don’t have to worry about whether or not there is room for me in heaven because I have a reservation.  How cool is that?

We will all stand before the Lord one day, with bowed knees,  whether we have accepted His free gift of salvation or not.  The Bible is very clear on this:

Philippians 2:9-11

Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Then, in June my sister Stacey told me about a series of sermons on Heaven by Dr. David Jeremiah.  During the month of June he was speaking daily about heaven.  So I listened.  And my heart was further comforted.  My citizenship is indeed in heaven.  I am only a sojourner here on earth.  I have a purpose and I will not go home to heaven until He has fulfilled that purpose in me.  Until then, I must eagerly wait for that all important reservation.  There’s one for me.  Is there one for you?

Philippians 3:20-21

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

You can get his book on heaven Here:

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/monthly/0617_FYE.aspx?tid=goog_adwords_tp&gclid=EAIaIQobChMImp-UgLSJ1QIVRWF-Ch1QcgMDEAAYASAAEgIObvD_BwE

If you are interested in listening to Dr. David Jeremiah’s sermons on heaven, here is the link:

http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio_archives.aspx

 

Don’t Waste It

Last week was a rough week for me.  I was depressed, emotional, unmotivated, and tired.  I’m not sure how or why my week of self pity started, but once it started, I had difficulty getting a handle on it.  I wasn’t motivated to read my Bible, yet I knew it was exactly what would snap me out of it all.  Reflecting upon the myriad of emotions I was experiencing, I can now see that Satan wants to destroy me and my testimony.  He doesn’t want me sharing the gospel or what God is teaching me through this ordeal.  He wants to silence me and stifle my joy.  If he can get me fixated on the why’s of my struggles, he knows that I will have less time and energy to share my hope.  He wants to destroy me.

About two years ago I recognized my need for Christian mentorship and accountability.  I am so thankful that I found a faithful friend and mentor that was willing to pour into me and help me find my way through painful circumstances by trusting the God of the Scriptures and immersing myself in the very truths that protect me from the wiles of the devil that plagued me last week.  She encouraged me at our last meeting to share one of the lessons that she assigned to me.  In October 2016, she assigned me an article called Don’t Waste Your Cancer by John Piper.  She wanted me to relate this article to my possible ALS, since at that time I did not have a confirmed diagnosis.  You can read the article here  at:  http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-waste-your-cancer.

Reading this article was one of our endeavors into the mysteries of suffering.  In March, she had me reread the article and as an assignment, she wanted me to note the ways that I have demonstrated each point.  This exercise showed me intimately that God was indeed walking with me through this trial.  Last week, as I struggled to pull myself out of the mire of despair I was sinking into, I was reminded about this exercise.  Re-reading it today has encouraged and renewed me.  Today I will stand tall and remember that the God of the Universe hasn’t forgotten me.  He is walking with me, teaching me, guiding me, preparing me to meet Him.  I need to, now more than ever, cling to the gospel message and remind myself everyday that as long as I have breath, I have things to learn and things to teach.  My prayer today, is that you will be encouraged by my lessons and seek the one who is Peace and Joy and Hope everlasting.

  1.  You will waste your ALS is you do not believe it is designed for you by God.  I’ve demonstrated this point by acknowledging that God is in control.  I believe He will use my ALS for His glory.  I’ve prayed for many years for God to work in me and to show me who He is and have had a desire to glorify Him with my life.  Through this diagnosis, I have many opportunities to give Him glory.
  2.  You will waste your ALS is you believe it is a curse and not a gift.  I still have a hard time calling this a “gift”, but I do believe I’ve received many blessings with this disease.  These blessings come from what God is doing through me and others.  He is strengthening my faith and hope for heaven.
  3.  You will waste your ALS is you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.  I am not banking on finding a cure, although I am pursuing avenues proven to slow progression.  Nevertheless I am seeking comfort from God and trying to draw close to Him
  4.  You will waste your ALS if you refuse to think about death.  I have been viewing death and heaven with less fear.  Trying to imagine what it might be like when I see Him face-to-face.  Although I do have some fear, I am realizing that it is less and less.  I want to yearn for heaven, but still want to live also.  I think about death, I just don’t dwell on it.
  5. You will waste your ALS if you think that “beating” ALS means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.  I am learning to cherish Christ more.  Being off work, I’ve been able to read through the gospels and learn more about Him and His unfailing love for me.  I still have much to learn and more to cherish.
  6. You will waste your ALS if you spend too much time reading about ALS and not enough time reading about God.  I believe I have been seeking to know God, especially with the opportunity of being off work.  I try to always bring up what God is doing in my life when opportunity presents itself.  While I do research ALS, I spend more time reading and studying God’s Word.
  7. You will waste your ALS is you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.  I tend to withdraw and isolate, but I think I’ve been better at developing relationships.  I’ve noticed God is making my heart more sensitive to others’ needs and hurts even with strangers.  I need to be obedient in blessing others when the Spirit prompts me.
  8. You will waste your ALS if you grieve as those who have no hope.  I am more keenly aware of the hope set before me in heaven.  My thoughts of heaven are ever increasing and the fear of death is lessening, though not gone altogether.  I grieve for my losses.  But I have hope in Christ that He will redeem me as He promised.
  9. You will waste your ALS if you treat sin as casually as before.  I didn’t really thing this was a big one until I re-read it.  He is making me need Him and love Him more.  He is picking me up when I falter in doubt or self-pity.  He is giving me a heart of compassion for others.  He is showing me hurting hearts to pray for.  May He continue to reveal to me my sin so that I can forsake it.
  10. You will waste your ALS if you fail to use it as a means to witness to the truth and glory of Christ.  This is my opportunity to bear witness.  To be BOLD.  He is using my disease to give me a forum to speak of His goodness.  I pray that many will come to believe in Him through this trial.

If you are a Christian, I challenge you to not waste your time here on earth.  Don’t wait until death or disease or crisis thrusts you into a deeper fellowship with your Savior.  Now is the time to be bold and share the hope within you to a lost and hurting world.

If you don’t know Christ, I implore you to begin seeking the truth for yourself.  Ask questions, read His Word, ask Him to show you the truth.  If you seek Him with all your heart, He will open your eyes.  Trust Him and He will show you the way.

I am here anytime for ANYONE who needs me.  I will cry with you, laugh with you, pray with you.  Whatever you need.  I mean it.

How Are You?

I get this question a lot.  But I can imagine most people do, right?  You see someone you know, they ask you how you are and the natural inclination is to respond “fine”, whether you are really fine or not. Lately, I have been especially sensitive to this question mostly because when I’m asked it, I sense the person asking really wants to hear more than fine.  My reactive response usually defaults to fine.  The funny thing is, I really am fine.  But as a close friend pointed to me recently, what people really want to know is “how are you dealing with your ALS”.

So for those of you who may be asking that question, I am doing very well.  I am taking care of myself by eating right and exercising moderately.  I am spending time with friends and making a concerted effort to get to know new friends.  I am drawing close to God in Bible study and prayer and trusting Him for my circumstances.  My life, in fact, feels rather normal.  Boring at times, but normal.

What’s different is how I react to life.  The same things that used to really irk me, don’t so much anymore.  I have more patience.  I am quicker to forgive.  I look at people differently.  I am developing an awareness of those who are hurting and it hurts me too.  I can only attribute these things to the Holy Spirit who is guiding me and opening my eyes to new things.  Like I said before, I believe there is a purpose in all of the madness.  I may or may not ever see what that purpose is, but I am trying to not let opportunities pass me by.  I’m paying closer attention.

I also had my first ALS Clinic appointment on April 20.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew there would be other ALS patients there with varying degrees of progression.  Jesse was worried that I might get depressed seeing someone more advanced and internalize it.  But that didn’t happen at all.  In fact, it gave me relief.  Relief to see that while some had varying degrees of disability, they were just normal people.  The clinic itself was amazing.  It was a four hour appointment.  During that time, I was placed in an exam room and various providers came to visit me.  I saw a speech therapist, a nutritionist, a  physical/OT therapist, respiratory therapist, social worker, ALS Association Sacramento Chapter representative, nurse case manager, and my doctor.  What I really liked about the clinic was that it was so positive.  Their aim is to assist me with living with and managing the symptoms of ALS in an effort for improving quality of life.  Right now, since I am only have issues with my speech and swallow, we discussed strategies for communication and food textures.   Additionally, since I am now using a bipap at night, my respiratory therapist tweaked some of my settings and also gave me some Breath Stacking exercises.

They didn’t  focus on a list of do’s and don’ts.  Instead they provided me with the information for best practices, but ultimately it’s my choice.  For example, I have been having difficulty eating soups that have both liquid and solids.  So they suggest that I eat blended soups.  But, they said, if I really enjoy the liquids/solids then it is my choice, I just have to make sure to eat slowly, don’t talk while I eat, and take smaller bites.   I also had the opportunity to try thickened water.  Yuck!  It was nectar thick.  Of course, I made Jesse and Stacey try it too!  My speech therapist thought that I would do better with thickened liquids to prevent aspiration and choking, but for now I have opted to stay with straight water, since choking isn’t a big issue yet.  They provide the information on how to be safer, while also giving their patients the freedom of personal choice so that this disease doesn’t make life too miserable.  I feel comfortable knowing that I am in the care of such caring, compassionate providers.  At the end of the day, the team convenes to discuss my care and a summary report was mailed to me.  It is a great resource and I am blessed to have the opportunity to be in an ALS Clinic.  Some patients don’t have clinics near them.

Today, I listened to the video below, sent to me by my dear friend and Christian mentor, Donna.  Without her friendship and Biblical counsel, I would not be spiritually fine.  She has been an ever present help and encourager to me.  She guides me through Biblical truth which is the foundation of my strength and hope.   She is helping me keep the proper perspective and praying for me.  This song pretty much sums up how I’m feeling, so I hope you are able to listen to it through the end.

And next time you talk to me, if you really want to know how I’m doing with ALS, just ask.  I am always willing to share my journey.  I hope through it, I can give someone else a little bit of what Donna has given to me.

ALS Avengers

On Saturday, April 29 Jesse and I participated in the Santa Rosa Walk to Defeat ALS event.  Although I have created my own team, which will be walking in Sacramento on October 14, I wanted to participate in this walk with my care team from Kaiser.  The Kaiser team was called Thriving to Defeat ALS and was led by my neurologist Dr. Lynda Lam.  Other team members who participated were my speech therapist Emily and my respiratory therapist Carla along with a host of other people.  Our team shirts touted the name “ALS Avengers”.

I also wanted to walk in Santa Rosa in order to get some ideas for my team.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the array of emotions that I felt seeing others struggling with this disease.  The baffling thing about ALS is that no two patients look alike.  There were people totally bound to a wheelchair, with perfect speech.  There were those who could not speak at all, but could use their arms and legs.  There was yet others who had need of neck braces or leg braces.  This disease is grueling in how it robs people of the most basic functions of the body.  There was even a 4th generation ALS patient who is currently battling the disease at the same time as her father.

The weird thing about it all is how normal I still feel.  I wonder, as the possibility of losing more function looms in the distance, will I continue to feel normal.  Is it just a slow adaptation to a new way of living?  I fear being a burden to my family.  I fear the inability to communicate and be heard.  I fear the unknown.

I am desperate for a cure.  Wouldn’t you be too, if found in this same predicament?  I know I probably sound like a broken record every week on Facebook when I try to elicit donations, but without money for research me and thousands of others are without hope.  Research takes money, lots of it.  Currently there are only 5 clinical trials (on people)  being conducted for ALS.  Just five.

When you donate to the ALS Greater Sacramento Chapter your money not only supports research, but it helps to provide patient and community services.  I even discovered Saturday, that they have a lending library of low tech equipment to assist those with ALS who cannot afford these technologies.

ALS Spending

I hope each and every one of you who reads this will join my team or make a donation.

http://websac.alsa.org/site/TR/Walks/Sacramento?px=3790855&pg=personal&fr_id=12576

 

Granny

July 3, 1923 – April 14, 2017

 

My Granny’s name is Beulah G. Reynolds.  Many knew her as Corky, which was her CB nickname when she lived on Rancho Tehema where there was,  for a long while, no phones.  But to me she was Granny.  For 47 years I have been blessed to have her.  I don’t know a time without her.

Granny was a beautiful, tough, amazing woman.  I can honestly say I don’t remember her ever complaining.  She always had a welcoming smile.  She loved socializing and volunteering.  She remained active her entire life.  No one would have known she was 93.  I loved her very much.  I selfishly wanted her to live FOREVER.  Don’t we all want to keep our loved ones with us?

I am thankful for the legacy that she has left behind.  Three children, 8 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and three great, great grand children.  Her and my Grandpa have impacted us in ways that we probably don’t even know.  She was an example of faith, hard work, perseverance, love, kindness, tenacity.  She was one strong cookie!

Saying goodbye is hard.  Grief can be so overwhelming.  But I have peace in knowing that she’s now living in the home of God, where there is nothing put everlasting peace and love.  I have hope in the fact that one day, I will see her again in heaven.

We love and miss you Granny!

1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

 

Pardoned

This blog is so good I had to share it.

Mountains and Mustard Seeds

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I am a thief. I am a murderer. I am a harlot. I am a bigot. I am a hypocrite. I am an adulterer. I am a gossip. I am a liar. I am a predator. I am selfish. I am a cheater. I am an accuser. I am wretched.  I am filthy. I am a prisonerA man saved me. He came into this world as an innocent newborn, soft and perfect. He grew into a boy that held his mothers hand and then a man who did carpentry with his father. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He knew I was guilty and he saved me. He volunteered. He took this shame on himself and he stood naked and stripped of all dignity. He endured my stripes. My punishment tore at his flesh and ripped through him. He bore my cross. He carried it heavy and digging…

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