Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009

Well, now that I've recapped last year, I can write about this year. =)
I've been thinking and praying about what God has for me in 2009. I don't do new year's resolutions, was never really into that. And I've temporarily given up setting goals. (It's too frustrating and discouraginig to set goals I'm never able to reach due to physical limitations and constantly changing circumstances.) Instead I've switched to thinking about my desires for the year and my prayers for the year.

#1. My desires - these are things I'd like to do or see happen. One of my desires for this year is to raise greater awareness among Christians of what it's like for people with health problems like mine. There's a huge number of "environmentally ill" people who are unable to go to church even if they wanted to. I hope to be able to share more informationi and challenge my fellow believers to find a way to reach out to these "unreached" people. I'll write more about this in coming days.

#2. My prayers - these are things I'm asking God to do in and through me. One of my prayers for this year is for greater fruitfulness. At the beginning of January I asked God if this could be the year I would finally have the privilege of leading someone to faith in Him. I've planted a lot of seeds over the years, but never actually saw anyone come to saving faith in Jesus. And guess what? Less than 2 weeks later God already answered that prayer! It reminded me of the verse in James 4:2 that we don't have because we don't ask! Maybe God was waiting all these years for me to finally ask! There's probably more to it than just that, but it certainly got me thinking about what I'm asking for.

As I've been praying for greater fruitfulness, God has been showing me some hindrances to fruitfulness in my life. Things that I used to think were "harmless" now seem wasteful and ineffective. Beyond that, God has opened my eyes to see how much of what I do (or don't do) each day is because it makes me feel good (or makes me not feel good). I didn't realize how self-indulgent I had become. It's very acceptable in Christian circles today to say we need "down time" or "do something for yourself," etc. But the more I've thought & prayed about these ideas, the more they seem to contradict Scripture. "Whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus," (Colossians 3:17). "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). If I am doing something because I want to feel good that's the opposite of doing it for the glory of God.
I know this probably sounds radical to you; it sounds radical to me! But it's what God is showing me. in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples to watch and pray with Him for one hour. That doesn't seem unreasonable. But they gave into the weakness of the flesh and missed out on being with Jesus in His hour of agony. I think this life is a lot like that one hour. It's going to go by so fast. I don't want to "sleep" it away giving in to the weakness of my flesh. I want to learn to do everything - Every Little Thing - for God's glory. And only HIS power and grace can accomplish that in my life, but with Him ALL things are possible. =)

So to get started I believe God wants me to do a "wordly fast" for 40 days. And I'm challenging you to join me! If you want a deeper communion with God and greater fruitfulness in your life, this may be a good way of helping you fulfill those desires.
Specifically, I'm going to give up all secular/non-Christian music, reading material, and TV/movies for 40 days. I know there are other areas (computer games, internet, etc.), but these are the 3 I'm going to focus on. I don't think it will be too difficult, except maybe the TV/movies part. (I enjoy watching sports and re-runs of A-team. =) But if I get desperate for some tube-time I can always watch Narnia or Facing the Giants or something with positive, godly input.)
The reasons I'm doing this are so that I'll have more time for what is really important - prayer, fellowship, etc. And also because I'm seeing that even a little bit of "wordly" influence can still do damage in my thinking and my desires. I want to feed myself a steady diet of God's truth, character, life, etc. so that He can use it to make me more like Christ.
I plan to start this fast on Feb. 2nd, feel free to pick your own start day if you choose to do this. I think the 40 days will actually go quickly. My hope is that once I'm away from those distractions, I'll no longer want them in my life anyway. I hope it'll be like when you're used to eating fast food all the time, then you spend a whole month eating only homecooked meals. After that when you eat fast food you realize how bad it tastes and how awful it makes you feel. It just can't compare to the real thing. I hope that my heart will learn to disregard the "junk" and find delight in the "real thing" - Jesus!
I pray that you'll be drawn closer to Him too. And if you decide to join me in this fast, please let me know so we can encourage each other to press on in our desire to glorify God in ALL we do!
Happy fasting! =)
Because of Jesus,
-Joanna

Friday, January 30, 2009

2008 - it was the worst of years, it was the best of years....

I know it's a little late to be reminiscing about last year, but I think it's still worth it even if it is almost the end of January. =)
2008 will go down as one of the worst years of my life - circumstantially speaking.
-It actually didn't start out too badly, but by mid-January I was having serious breathing problems which the doctor's couldn't figure out or help.
-Then I got the worst case of the flu EVER! I actually thought I might die, it was that bad. But I didn't die, Praise God!
-Once that ordeal was finally over (3+ weeks), I started a new adventure with accupuncture - only it ended up making me much worse! I don't remember how long it took me to get semi-recovered from that experience.
-I finished the accupuncture in time for my disability hearing, which will probably be remembered as the most stressful and awful 1 hour of my life. Not to mention that I got so sick from the building where it was held, that I could hardly even talk for 2 weeks.
-Next on the agenda was getting allergic to my house. UGH! It was one problem after another, me evacuating to a friend's house, going home a few days later, having another problem, evacuating again...until finally I said let's go to Texas!
-So to Texas we went, to a very special, highly recommended clinic for people like me. Except - I was allergic to the clinic!!! For 4 weeks we stayed in downtown Dallas, trying different doctors, different clinics, etc. with basically no help. At last mom and I said, it's time to go home!
-Only I really couldn't go "home" because I was still allergic to it! Thus followed 4 months of mom working on the house, me trying it out, still being allergic to it, going back to my friends' house, trying again, etc. Living out of suitcase for 6 months isn't fun. Though I must say I was VERY glad to just have a safe place to be, thank you God.


Those are the 'low-lights' of 2008, which in time I'm sure I'll prefer to forget. However, it is true that in God's economy nothing is wasted. God did 2 huge miracles for me in 2008, and lots of smaller ones too.
#1. Disability - Ok, so I'm still not sure why I had to get the flu that bad, but clearly getting worse from the accupuncture was a helpful thing in my disabilitiy hearing because I was so weak that the judge saw clearly how bad my situation was. And God did the most amazing miracle by causing him to approve my disability case! I still marvel over that and thank God every day. We prayed about this for 2 & 1/2 years, and at the right time God brought it about. Halelujah!

#2. Doctor - It was a long chain of events, but if I hadn't gotted kicked out of my house, I wouldn't have ended up in Melbourne in Sept. at the allergy-safe motel, where I met a man who recommended his doctor. And if I hadn't been through the whole ordeal of Texas, I might not have been so desperate to try someone so far away (2 hour drive). And if I hadn't been approved for disability I couldn't have afforded to see this doctor. So God worked ALL those things out to bring me at long last to the RIGHT doctor who truly is helping me! This is something we've prayed about for over 4 years! God was answering, just not in any way we would have expected. =)

As for the 'smaller' miracles God did, I really only mean smaller in terms of suspending natural phenomenon. In other words, to me they are the biggest miracles of all because they have to do with my heart. In 2008 God used all those awful experiences and trials to make some serious changes in my life. He set me free from resentment I hadn't been paying attention to. He exposed areas of idolatry and reclaimed His rightful place in my affections. He delivered me from fears by giving me precious promises to hold onto no matter what. He took me so much deeper in understanding His GRACE. He brought me to a place of true happiness in Him! And so much more!

Last January I prayed that Jesus would give me strength to keep following Him whatever happened in the coming year. He answered that prayer. He held onto me even when I was ready to let go. Through His grace I kept following each step of the way. And in the process He did great things and He was glorified! So while 2008 will definitely be remembered as the worst year on record in many ways, it will also hold a special place in my heart, a place where I am truly thankful for GOD's goodness in every circumstance. Only our great God can take something so awful and make it so beautiful. Praise His Name!

As I look ahead to what may be in store in 2009, I can't possibly predict what might happen. I can only pray that God will do even more good than I could ask or imagine, whatever my circumstances, for His honor & glory!

"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." (I Peter 5:10-11)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

good verse, beautiful creation

"In that day they will say, 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in HIm, and He saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.'" (isaiah 25:9)




Saturday, January 24, 2009

apology

Hello, hello. I'm sorry I've been neglecting my blog lately. Believe it or not, I do have lots of things to say, just haven't had the energy or ability to post for a while. First I was sick for a week with a cold, then I was offline for a week, and now I've got a sinus infection, ugh. Hopefully my oh-so-important-and-meaningful thoughts will be soon forthcoming. =) haha
In the meantime I'd appreciate your continued prayers. Thanks!
-Joanna

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Some Christmas Photos

It was great spending Christmas day with almost all my family (we missed you Jaci & fam!). My sister Jen took much better pix than me, but since I haven't gotten hers yet, here are a few from my camera.


Jaime was definitely getting in the "Christmas spirit." =)


Undoubtedly, I have the cutest nieces & nephews in the world! =)


Mom and Josh & Kim (and baby James, coming soon) =)


Jane & Pete


Magnuson, aka Curious George


Morgan, the sweetheart (and soon to be heart-breaker no doubt) =)


Micaela the great tree-climber =)


"Grandma" & Marina


Jen & John


me with Jaime, Chiho, Evan & Alisha


Too sad that Christmas is over now. But it was a very special treat to be able to spend the day with my family. Thank you God! Now it's time to face a new year...yikes! 2009 is here and moving quickly. I pray it will be a year of great fruitfulness for Jesus' honor & glory!
God bless!
-Joanna