Maralyn's Updates

Monday, October 20, 2008

God is FOR you!

Micah is crazy about Jim, and Jim is crazy about Micah. This little love affair is played out every time our two families are together. Micah reaches for Jim. Jim smiles at him and takes him. Micah lays his head on Jim’s shoulder, sometimes with his thumb and bear, and the two of them snuggle. Or in playing together, Jim makes a silly sound and Micah cracks up, like it is the funniest thing in the world. Once when we arrived at their house, Micah was done eating, but hadn’t eaten very well. But when Jim sat down to feed him, he ate a lot! And even during the height of his stranger anxiety phase (around 11 months old) he wouldn't go to anyone except Mommy, Daddy, and Ukki (Jim). Around that time, one day we were babysitting and we thought for sure he'd cry when his parents pulled out of the driveway, but he didn't. He just laid his little head on Jim’s shoulder as if to say: No problem. I'm with my buddy! (smile)

It’s the sweetest thing in the world!

Lately as I have been watching this cuteness, I’ve been hearing God tell me that that’s the way he feels about me…that he is really FOR me!

My Beth Moore Bible study “Stepping Up” is an in depth look at the Psalms of Ascent. These 15 Psalms (120-134) were associated with the 15 steps in the temple. They were sung on the pilgrimage to the Three Great Feasts, and also sung by exiles returning to Jerusalem from captivity.

This has been a particularly rich study for me! Especially Psalm 124 has blessed me these last few days.

“…..If God hadn’t been FOR us…... when everyone went against us, we would have been swallowed alive…...swept away by the flood…...drowned in the torment…...we would have lost our lives in the wild, raging water..…” (Ps. 124:1-5 MSG)

In the workbook, Beth makes this statement:
“Regardless of how long we’ve been Christians and how deeply we’ve studied God’s Word, most of us don’t really believe down in the marrow of our bones that God is entirely, wholeheartedly, and unwaveringly on our side.”
It’s probably not that we feel God is against us, but rather that we’re just one of the bunch of human beings. Maybe he just tolerates us.

No! You and I are special to him…like Micah is to Jim! Like Jim is to Micah!

Now, this doesn’t mean that Jim loves only Micah. He has a close relationship with each of our five grandchildren, but that takes nothing from his special little friendship with Micah. I’m no more special to God than you are…but we are both his treasures! Amazing truth, isn’t it?

One of the recent readings (Oct. 7) in my Joni Eareckson’s “Diamonds in the Dust” devotional book augmented this idea. “Whether you are weak or strong, saintly or struggling, Jesus cares for you. I realize that you may be thinking, ‘Sure, Jesus cares for me in the general sense, as for the whole world, but when it comes to specifics, surely there must be others He is more interested in. After all, I can’t pray out loud…I have a hard time understanding the Bible…I can’t seem to shake bad habits. Yes, I know He cares but not as much as He does for more obedient types.’ Not so. The Lord’s care for you does not hinge on your hang-ups. His care for you has nothing to do with your baggage of personal problems…As a child of God you matter. For you, dear believer, have the full force and undivided attention of eternal Love. Love that cares with no strings attached.”


Can you imagine God reaching for you the way Jim does for Micah? Can you feel him laughing with you? Can you feel him anticipating your needs? I recently heard of a lady who thought God had given her cancer because she had been a lukewarm Christian. I don't believe that's how our loving God works!

God is FOR you and God is FOR me! If we will let this soak deeply into our spirits...we’ll be changed people.

God loves you more than Jim loves Micah!

“God, I thank you for showing me these past few days that you are FOR me, really FOR me. Without you there’s no way I could have ever handled this terrible disease. I’d have been swept away long ago. But because of your love, I’m thriving!”


P.S. Yes! I got my new walker and it is wonderfully sturdy and helpful. "Guess who" took "guess who" for a ride on it? You guessed it! (smile)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Answer to Prayer

You know, something amazing has happened. Leading up to last Thursday, I was having quite difficult nights...every 2-3 hours I was having a coughing jag, battling the phlegm that collects in my windpipe. Those episodes are hard to experience, because it's hard to catch my breath, but even harder for Jim to watch.

Then came Thursday. I was scheduled to speak at a ladies group that evening (through Ruth's voice, of course) and a bout of Atrial Fibrillation (irregular heartbeat...totally unrelated to the ALS) grabbed me and held me tight all day, making it even harder to move and breathe. It was discouraging!

I couldn't go to speak, but Ruth did it for me. (Amazing woman!) Anyway, that night I was very tired as the A.Fib. had robbed me of my energy. Jim sat on the edge of my bed, held my hand, and prayed a gentle prayer, "God, we need your help. We don't know what to do." He kissed me and tucked me in.

And, believe it or not, the minute he flipped off the light, my heart kicked back into rhythm and I slept like a baby...all night. And guess what? I haven't had one night coughing episode since then!

I know it's a God thing! It was so black and white...lots of those coughing fits...and then NONE! Praise God!

Thank you for praying! Please don't stop!

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Gift? of Suffering

When you’re sad who’s the person you like to go to? My guess is it’s someone who’s been seasoned by pain themselves. I’ve found that people who’ve had some hard times are the best counselors because they know how it feels to hurt. And they care.

That’s the stream for today, but first a report from my doctor’s appointment on Friday:

My neurologist confirmed what I already knew—that the ALS is advancing in my body. I’m weaker than three months ago. I’m losing lung capacity--down from 100% to 68%. And yet he reiterated that the progression of the disease is slower than usual. At the end he said, “Well, I’ll see you in three months!” It’s funny but that statement was a lift to both Jim and me. (smile)

On a practical level I can barely speak…eating is tenuous…and nights can be long as I work to dislodge the phlegm that collects in my windpipe. My walking is unstable enough that I’ve begun to use a walker. In short, my situation is challenging!

This week someone introduced me as “suffering with ALS,” and I realized once again that I don’t identify with that image. I guess I think of suffering as having excruciating pain (I have none) or severe mental anguish (my mind is peaceful).

But a few months ago, I hugged my friend who has MS and lightly said, ”Hello, my fellow sufferer!” He said, “Well, I don’t really think of myself as suffering…after all, nobody has pierced my side with a sword.”

His response stayed in my mind because it’s true! What we’re going through is nothing compared to Christ’s suffering.

But as I’ve been pondering, I’ve realized that everybody on earth suffers from something. Pain is inherent in this world. We get so used to the pressure of sadness all around us that it begins to feel normal. So even though our suffering is different than Christ’s, we do suffer. All of us.

I admit that Jim and I are suffering. We had really wanted to spend these golden years together…continuing to minister side-by-side…enjoying our family…and celebrating our love. So yes, we are suffering.

This week I flashed back to one year ago when I was on my way to see my new grandbaby Jolene in Pennsylvania. It was my brother Daniel who picked me up at the airport, and it was onto him that I dumped my frustration about the “death sentence” of ALS. He wisely counseled me to accept the fact that I was being called to suffer. (See my blog entry “Through” November 3, 2007.) Daniel was here visiting us this week and we talked again about the fact that God must have called me to this ministry for a reason.

With all of these thoughts sailing through my head, it’s not surprising that God illuminated II Corinthians 1:3-5.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

As I read those verses I could visualize a garden fountain like those on European castle grounds. They usually have at least three tiers. The one on top spills out onto the second one, and that one spills onto the third…

The top is like Christ’s suffering, but his suffering overflows as comfort.

You and I are the second tier. We suffer but we draw comfort from the fact that Christ suffered, too. He’s been there so he knows, and he feels with us.

Our peers are the third tier. As we suffer there is a natural overflow—it’s God’s suffering and comfort mixed with our own that streams into the lives of our friends.

I'm beginning to see that it’s God design for the flow to continue…through the ages.

Here’s the reality: Once we’ve suffered with something…with anything…we’re more tender, compassionate, and sensitive to the pain of others. So we’re more ready to minister.

But here’s a shock! This week I saw another verse--a companion to the one above. In Philippians 1:29 it says: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him...” The footnote in my Bible told me that the word "granted" is from the Greek word that means “to be given as a gift or privilege”—indicating that suffering is a gift. H-m-m-m! I need time to absorb that because this does not feel like a gift! (smile)

But I don’t want to mislead you either. We have lots of fun every day. We enjoy each other’s company more than ever. We laugh. We tease. We reflect. We celebrate the moments we have. Plus we have lots of guests. The month of September we were alone only four days! (smile)

So even though we’re suffering we’re also rejoicing. Why? Because we feel Christ’s comfort splashing into our lives. And I’m “whooshing” it on to you! Now, don’t stop the flow. Go flood someone with love. (smile)


P.S. Hey! Do you want to see how beautiful our little Jolene has become this year? She’ll be one on October 16. She is so cute, sweet, and congenial. Do you see any resemblance to Jim in that little face? (smile)

P.S.S. And guess what? We just got the wonderful news that grandbaby #6 is on the way. David and Rhonda have announced that their fourth child is due on April 23…my 60th birthday. Isn’t that fun?!