Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Miracle of Healing Pt. 2

   If you missed The Miracle of Healing Pt. 1, take a few minutes to read it. It's somewhat of a backdrop to this post and will help you understand some things about me and may help you not jump to conclusions about me based on this post alone.

   I have put off writing this post for a number of reasons. Namely that I know writing this will be emotionally difficult, merely because of the transparency with which I am sharing, in addition to how very raw I am. I also think that what I write will be scrutinized and possibly criticized - I'm covering some topics that are a bit touchy. And finally, that it will mark the beginning of sharing a journey with you that I've known I needed to embark on, but have held back, not knowing if I'm strong enough to face it.

   I've only shared bits and pieces of the trial I've faced for almost two years with you. And I'm not even sure that I'm ready to go back and walk through the painful memories that are still so fresh and sometimes haunting, but I know I'm supposed to share my story in regard to the last couple of years. This post is a prelude to the journey I plan on taking in the near future. I hope you will join me.

   In The Miracle of Healing Pt. 1, I told you the story about the miraculous healing of our son. In these next parts, I'd like to talk about a different kind of healing that God has been doing in my life.

   I will be giving a lot more background and details in the proceeding posts, but I want to begin by telling you that I have been unwell for quite awhile, markedly following our second child's birth. For whatever reason, my body doesn't respond well to pregnancies and deliveries and with each one, my health has gotten worse and worse. 
The past two years have been the hardest and worst, following my most recent pregnancy and delivery in March 2012. 

I've prayed for physical healing, I've been anointed with oil twice and prayed over by elders of the church, and I've continued praying and believing that God can heal me. I pray every day for physical healing. I haven't been told by God to stop, so I continue to pray. I am completely confident that God can heal physical infirmities if He so wills. There is not a doubt in my mind about that.

   There are some who think a believer should never be sick, that God's will is for everyone to be physically healed and well, and that whatever you ask from God, you're going to get. I've been challenged to present verses that tell when Jesus did not heal or what diseases He did not conquer on the cross. I honestly am not up to a debate on this topic and to be completely truthful, the challenge from a certain individual left me feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me (because along with their challenge came some very strong words that were painful to hear when you've been sick for so long). If you share these views, I hope and pray that you are never faced with physical suffering that leaves you wondering what you did wrong, how you failed, or in what way your faith was too small. Before you judge someone who is sick, please try to have some compassion and consideration toward the individual who is suffering. You may be wrong.

   And briefly, I will say that while there are many miracles recorded in the Bible, there were also saints who were sick. Timothy was encouraged by Paul to drink a little wine for his frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23) and Paul had to leave behind a brother named Trophimus, who must have been terribly sick if he wasn't able to travel (2 Timothy 4:20). And to answer the question - which diseases are not subject to Christ, I say none. They are all subject to Him, but we live in a fallen world and sickness is part of the deal. One day, we are promised an eternal home where God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). If we weren't going to have any more pain and suffering in this life on earth, why would God promise us this for our life after we go to be with Him? So that's where I'm coming from. I believe God still heals physically and I've seen Him do it (just read part one of this series). But I also believe there are other ways He heals that are not so obvious to us.

   I want to focus on other ways God has been
healing me during these last nearly two years. This healing is not physical, but is, I believe, even more important. God has been healing my heart. He has been healing me spiritually. He has been healing me emotionally. He has been healing me mentally. 

   If God were to have answered my prayer for healing back when my health collapsed, maybe I would be physically healthy, but I would not be as spiritually healthy as I am today. I was so busy with life, I didn't have time to consider what I was thinking about my husband, why I was responding to certain situations in the manner I was, or how I was erroneously viewing God. I remember feeling like a chicken running around with its head cut off, barely keeping my head above water...yeah, the same one that was cut off! haha! No, but really, I was just barely surviving.

   And God cared about that. He cared about me. And God decided to intervene, even though He knew it was going to hurt me terribly and even make me angry at Him for a season. God saw the eternal and spiritual benefits of allowing me to go through a season of physical suffering. God cares much more about our spiritual health than our physical health and I am so thankful that He does.

 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 4:2-4

   It's interesting to look back at the situation now and see all the prayers God has answered through this hardship. Prayers that I prayed months, even years before, God answered. There were three in particular that I'd like to share with you... (to be continued next time!)

   God is my Song in the night! This song has been an encouragement to me and continues to be. I hope it encourages you as well. =)

The Lord is my Healer,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Passion for Christ

Today, a question at a ballgame and encouragement from Sunday's sermon collide! Are you ready for it?!

A lot of us are familiar with The Passion of the Christ film that came out ten years ago. When I saw the movie, it impacted how I looked at Christ's sacrifice. It made me realize to a greater degree than before, how physically horrendous Christ's torture was. And I know that this torture paled in comparison to the separation He would face on the cross as He bore the sins of the world and the wrath of the Almighty God fell upon Him and His Father forsook Him. It's amazing to think that Christ was forsaken by God so that I never would be. That thought touches me so deeply.

Adriel, Hong, Music, Passion, Christ, Christian, living,
Perhaps this is not the best match for this post as far as pictures go. I took it recently at a ballgame as I thought of the question I ask myself on other occasions to the ballpark, which is something to the sort of, "Look at all these people going crazy and being so excited about this game. What would happen if people got this excited about Jesus?"

Now you may not even be into sports, but the question is really a matter of the heart. Whatever you're fond of or enjoy and get excited about...are you as excited about the Lord as that? It's a fair question, I think. I am finding that even "good" things like marriage, parenting, homeschooling, music, singing, ministering...yeah, I can get more excited about those things than about God.

And I'm not suggesting that this question applies only to a Sunday worship service. Don't get me wrong! I'm all for people making that vertical, intimate connection with God during times of praise and worship where everyone and everything around them fades away and it's just them and God. They don't care who or if anyone is watching them. They enter into that special, secret place where the words connect with their heart and the only response is to just raise their hands to God in surrender and adoration. (That is really just wonderful and I hope everyone knows what that is like.)

But I'm really talking about more than that. I'm talking about beyond the four walls of the church. I'm talking about outside of the church activities. I'm talking about our daily lives. And I'm talking about more than outward demonstrations of adoration and passion for God.

Today, "passion" has a much different meaning than where it originated from. The origins of this word go back to 1125-1175 AD. It stems from the Latin word "passiƍ", which means suffering and submission.

This begs the question, am I passionate for God the way I ought to be? Am I willing to suffer because I love God? Am I willing to submit my will and desires to being crucified daily? Am I willing to look like a fool for my Lord?

Jesus did that for each one of us. He looked like a fool. Our pastor reminded us of that this past Sunday, that as Jesus was dying on the cross, people challenged Him by saying if He was really Who He said He was, then He could just come down from the cross. He chose to look like a fool...for you and for me and He stayed on that cross and appeared to not be Who He had claimed to be. And why? Because if He had not, we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we? But more than that, we would still be dead in our sins, without hope of salvation and eternal life.

So along with that question from Saturday's game, Sunday's message gave even more depth to what I was questioning in myself. The message was really encouraging and lifted my gaze upward. Our pastor talked about Christ's sacrifice and what it entailed. A couple points that really stuck out to me from the message were:

1: In the middle of trials, don't leave the cross. Pick up the cross, don't discard it. The cross was the way to victory for us through Christ's sacrifice and still is. I personally have not been picking up my cross as I should have been lately. I've been using an ongoing trial (and a move) as an excuse to not be "passionate" for God, so as to not suffer more and to make things easier on my flesh. I was convicted to hold that cross close and embrace it again as an old, dear friend.

2: The cross is freedom. That's the opposite of what our minds tell us, isn't it? But it's the truth. The cross is a daily choice, which means freedom is a choice as well. The cross = freedom. You want freedom? Pick up your cross and follow after Jesus!

Here's some questions that Saturday's ballgame and Sunday's message have caused me to ask myself: Am I cheering for God's will in my life, even if it's not what I would choose? Am I standing up for His truth, even if the crowd is abandoning it? Am I applauding what is holy and righteous, even though it makes a conversation uncomfortable? Am I making a fool of myself for God's glory and kingdom, even if it makes me unpopular?

Friends, let's live for the Lord the same way He died for us: passionately!

Rejoicing in Christ,


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"New in You" - Salvation's Work

   This song highlights what I was before God saved me. I wrote this song down a long time ago. I can't even remember when or why! But the point is that I am new in Jesus and for any true believer in Christ, this song is true as well.

   I love the analogies that go with this song. Think about them. Think about what you were before Christ. Think about where you were headed. Think about the reality of you, as an individual, before becoming a believer.

   And then think about what God did in your life. The profound changes that occurred and still affect you today in how you live, how you talk, how you react, etc. It's amazing, isn't it?

   And this song is just a reminder of that glorious work God has done in my life and in yours if you're a believer as well. Blessings to you, my friends! =)

All glory to Jesus,

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Miracle of Healing Pt. 1

(You can skip to the bottom for the song if you're in a hurry.)

I had planned on sharing a different post today, but I have had this one written for some time with the intention to eventually share it. I received an email from a fellow mother with an infant son who had a rough start to begin with and has had a number of procedures already in his little life so far. She shared something that just hit home for me and I really was led to share this post today instead of the other one. Praying for an incredible miracle for my friend's son!

   When our son was about a month old, he became very ill in a matter of just a few hours. By the end of what had started out as a seemingly normal day, he was terribly lethargic, not nursing well and his stool was bloody (among other things that I won't gross you out with). We took him to the ER. They did a few tests, even a spinal tap checking for meningitis, but no answers came. They admitted him and put him on antibiotics. I stayed with him since I was nursing him.

   I don't remember a lot from that time. Just little pieces. It was one of those awful experiences that I guess my brain blocked out a lot of remembrance of. I can't remember if we stayed there for seven days or ten. It was one of the two. I don't remember seeing our oldest daughter at all during that time. From what I hear, she stayed with my parents during the day and my husband would take her home with him after work to sleep at home. I don't remember what I ate or if I ate regularly.

   I do remember the interruptions at night with nurses coming in to check on our son. I remember it was the one year anniversary of 9/11, because they were showing all that stuff on the television. I do remember a visit or two from family and a friend. I remember my husband giving me a break for a few hours so I could go home and get a shower at least once (it had to have been more than that). The most vivid memory, however, was the overwhelming sense of oppression over that situation. It was very dark. It was not just a normal thing.

   After the seven (or ten) days on the antibiotics, Jacob was doing so much better and was declared ready to leave the hospital. His symptoms were gone, so they took him off the antibiotics and sent us home.

   And then a few days later, it all came back again. We caught it this time with enough time to get in to see the pediatrician. This time, they sent us home with a stool sample collection kit. (Sorry for the gross details.) We collected the necessary samples and dropped those off at the lab and waited a couple of days. The results that came back were shocking. Our son had salmonella poisoning, but not just any kind. Reptilian salmonella poisoning. WHAT?! We didn't own any pets, we'd hardly gone anywhere with the kid. We just don't venture out all that much when they're that little. It was a puzzle to us.

   So back on the antibiotics he went, this time for the full round. Little did we know that the time he had been on the antibiotics in the hospital had been just long enough to get rid of the symptoms, but not long enough to eliminate the bacteria from his system. Instead, the shorter amount of time on the antibiotics had led to the bacteria building up an immunity to the treatment.

   He got better for a little while, but the symptoms continued to return with full vengeance. The poor little guy was getting weaker and weaker. He was in a lot of discomfort. I remember my husband holding him on the couch just so our son could sleep. Somehow, having that presence of his daddy and the comfort it brought helped give our little baby boy the rest he needed.

   Back and forth we went. Antibiotics. Symptoms returning. Stool sample. Wait for positive result from lab. Get another prescription for antibiotics. Administer for two weeks. And the cycle continued. I forget how many times we went through this.

   I had a person from the city call me asking me questions regarding bottles and water. That's how odd (and serious) this case was. The city was wondering if it was their problem. If perhaps the water supply was contaminated. Yeah.

   It came to light that the pediatrician's office had seen two other reptilian salmonella cases right around the same time we had taken Jacob in for his checkup previous to him getting sick. These kids actually did have pets carrying this bacteria in their homes. And when I thought about it, I never remember the nurses washing their hands before they handled my baby. So I'm pretty sure that is how all that began. Bad hygiene.

   But back to our little baby. He'd been through round after round of antibiotics that were clearly not eliminating the bacteria entirely. He was slowly declining. I remember my husband telling me one day as we were dealing with this that while he had been holding Jacob, God had asked him, "If I take your son, will you still love Me?" That hit my heart so hard, like a punch in the stomach. But the answer for both of us was, "Yes".

   The situation became critical to the point that the pediatrician called us after months of this ongoing cycle. He ordered us to get Jacob admitted into the hospital immediately for (I think) two weeks of IV antibiotics. But it just didn't sit right with us and when my husband said, "I'm not sure if we're going to do that", the pediatrician minced no words in saying, "Then whatever happens to your son is not my responsibility." It was at this point that it really was obvious that even the doctor recognized how critical it was, enough to indirectly say that if Jacob died, it was not his responsibility.

   What do you do? We had a tough decision to make. The IV antibiotics weren't guaranteed to work and there was the possibility of more harm from them to Jacob's body in addition to what had already occurred. And in our gut, deep down, although logically it seemed like the most reasonable thing to do was take him to the hospital, it didn't sit right. 

   My husband called one of the elders of the church we attended at the time and explained the situation to him. The day he called happened to be Wednesday, which was when they had evening prayer. The elder suggested we bring Jacob to the prayer meeting so that he could be lifted up in prayer.

   We went. We thought we should at least give God the opportunity before rushing to the hospital. It wasn't that we hadn't been praying for him on our own. But the suggestion of corporate prayer drew us.

   I don't remember very much from that prayer meeting either. I don't remember if they anointed Jacob with oil or who prayed what, but I remember my brother, who was around 11 at the time, coming up to me afterward and saying to me, "I believe Jacob is healed!" I think I answered with a non-committed "maybe". I remember scoffing in my mind, being skeptical and I remember God being very firm with me about my attitude later that evening and rebuking me in a sense for not having faith like a child and for having the gall to snuff out my brother's childlike faith with a skeptical response. I decided to dare to believe that my son had been healed.

   The next day, there were still some very slight symptoms and I found my heart doubting. But I pushed the doubt away and resolutely believed my son was healed. The rest of that day and afterward, Jacob was fine. God completely healed him, not only eliminating the bacteria and the symptoms entirely, but also healing the damage internally to his system. He was absolutely fine!! Even the stool samples I had taken when he was obviously symptomatic a day or so before prayer ended up coming back negative for salmonella! God even took care of that little detail in the lab. It was a miracle and when God does a miracle, He doesn't leave any loose ends!

   To be frank and honest, I do not believe in naming and claiming it and it will be so. I am in no place to be ordering God around. "I claim by faith that God is going to give me a new car" or whatever our brains think up. That's not what this was. When God moves your heart to ask for something and dares you to stand and believe that it will be so, that is a matter of true faith.

   The thing is, I can't say my faith was really all that great or much at the time. It really was pretty puny. Pathetic, even. But for whatever reason, God wanted to heal our son miraculously, and He did, not because we were people of great faith, but because He is a great God and wanted to show His power to us in that way. I can't tell you how much this encouraged people who had been praying for our son. And in addition, this was something we were able to share with Jacob as he got older, especially when he went through a time of wrestling with surrendering his life to Christ.

   This song I'm sharing today, God gave to me during that time of our son being sick. I wondered if he'd make it. And in light of the question God had asked my husband regarding taking our son, I knew I had to hold on to God. I didn't know how our story with Jacob would end when I wrote this. It was right in the middle of that whole ordeal. When I go through hard things, I find writing therapeutic. I write what's on my heart and mind. I write the things that I can't seem to express out loud. Like I've said before, hard times make for busy writing seasons! =)

   It is extra special to me to be sharing this song with you, not only because my son is alive and well, but also because my husband sang this song with me. It's special to sing a song about this situation with him. It's an old recording and it's not the best quality, but I hope that it encourages you to hold on in the middle of whatever you are facing at this moment in your life. There is hope and it's not in your circumstance changing, it is in Jesus Christ! God bless you!

All glory to Jesus,