What a year! Isn’t that what I say every year? Never a dull moment in my life, but this year seems especially spectacular. It’s been a full year:
- Lots of wonderful and hungry people, drawing closer to God through the Bible studies, retreats, counseling, consulting and discipleship. These men and women are not content with “good enough Christianity”. They want to walk with Jesus in increasing intimacy and obedience. We’ve had such a great time in the Bible studies, Days of Refreshing, Refocus and Refuel Retreats, Ministry Wives Retreats, and other connections. I am so grateful to be able to minister in depth, especially when so much of life seems shallow.
- Two wonderful getaways with the Lord: A renewing time at the ocean and a powerful trip with Jesus back in my beloved Ireland and Scotland. There is nothing like being at the ocean to renew my spirit. I love to spend hours in prayer out in the open water, swimming and meditating on God’s power and beauty. Then, September found me wandering with Jesus from Killybegs to Ballyvoy to Campbeltown to Portrush to Glendalough to Cashel to Portmarnock across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland. What a special journey.
- Two medical adventures: a brush with death this summer with multiple pulmonary emboli and complications, then a shiny new knee with all the accompanying physical therapy and recovery.
I kept getting weaker and weaker and weaker as 2013 unfolded. I could find no answers except: “You’re just doing too much”, “It’s stress.”, “You’re just getting old.” (Thanks. Thanks a lot.) By June, I knew something was very, very wrong, but no one could find it. I prayed, “Lord, YOU know what it is. Show us. Show someone.” My Aussie friend Elaine was praying for me and saw purple spots on my lungs. God impressed me with a very powerful “There is something very wrong. See a pulmonary specialist now.”
A few days later, I was being rushed to the emergency room by a technician who later told me, “In fourteen years of running these tests, I have never been so terrified. All I could think was, ‘How do I get her to the ER before she dies?’” What he uncovered was multiple pulmonary emboli—two large blood clots in the left lung, many small blood clots in the right lung. One pulmonary embolus can kill instantly. People kept telling me, “Do you know how lucky you are to be alive?” Luck had nothing to do with it. I know my life was supernaturally spared. I know I am only alive because of God. El Roi, The God Who Sees, saw me, knew me, saved me. Grace. Grace alone.
Once I was out of danger from the pulmonary emboli, it was time for knee surgery (both are bone-on-bone from osteoarthritis). I guess was really craving more of that yummy hospital food! So November 18, I had a total knee replacement. As soon as the surgery was over, the fun of physical therapy began. I am so grateful for the prayer team from around the world who have patiently and faithfully walked with me as I have learned to walk again. I’m used to being on the go, and this hobbling is slowing me down. I have places to go, things to do, people to see. But for the last month, my life has been mostly pain, meds, walkers, canes, therapy, progress, regress, tears, laughter, and dependence on the help of friends. I am single, I have no family in the area, and I live in a two-story townhouse.
Being incapacitated is hard. It’s humbling. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s tedious. It’s tough to be unable to drive, unable to leave home, unable to do the simplest of tasks. But my friends have come alongside me. They have opened their homes. They have come and stayed when I needed someone there. They have been willing to pray, to send encouragement, to loan equipment, to provide transportation, to run errands, to help me with big and little tasks, to make soup for me, to get me a drink of water, to just be there.
They have been willing to be inconvenienced. We’re all busy. We all have demands on our time. It’s the holiday season. Let’s face it, no one wants to hang out at a hospital. But friends have been willing to be inconvenienced in order to be the body of Christ to me. Being willing to go out of one’s way for another, being willing to be inconvenienced, is the mark of a genuine believer according to Jesus. (Matthew 25:31-46)
So I thank all of you who have been willing to be inconvenienced. You have lived out the life of Jesus, who was willing to be inconvenienced, willing to take on flesh, willing to die, willing to trust God the Father…
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)
So at this CHRISTmas season, I thank God for His Son, and for those who demonstrate the life of His Son in my life.