Saturday, December 31, 2005

About 12 hours early....

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (yeah...throwing glitter, wearing a ridiculous hat and such!)

P.S. News about the Onething Conference in KC coming soon. Spending New Years in Omaha with brothers....O the joy of family!
Love to all...
JP

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Simple

Merry Christmas Everyone! May your day be full of blessed joy and love.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Blessing in disguise?

So while I wait for the parts to come in for my car, I decided to take it for a check up and have the oil changed and the tires rotated....yada yada...Turns out my two front tires are shot, the radiator is busted...again..leaking fluid all sorts of places, and the break pads are worn to the point of being seriouly dangerous. Before my car could have really fallen apart or been a hazard on the road...I was crushed by a blessing in disguise. Yeah!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Coming Home for the Holidays

Just this last Saturday I was driving home in the snow and ice, ready to start my vacation from school. My mom was in a car behind me and we kept an eye out for each other the whole way; I would check my rearview to makesure the little white car was still visible as the snow continued to cloud my vision. My mom would continuously check the ditches when she didn't see me in front of her, "just in case." My mom and I are just on the west side of Marysville about an hour away from home and I was amazed neither one of us has slipped off the road in the past two hours and as the snow was lifting slightly, I started to let my guard down since I was so close to home. Not ten miles out of Marysville I jumped to see a deer bound across the highway. Clenching my steering wheel I sighing in relief considering the deer was only about 100 yards from my car. Within a split second I smiled, shook my head and caught a glimpse out my right side window. Without warning the rest of the deer family came charging right for me. Only a few feet from my car and not enough time for me to react, I held on as the two deer slammed into my car. BAM! Knocking me to the left side of the road, I watched as one flipped over the hood of my car after taking my side mirror with him. The other deer I caught in the rear view flying like santa clause's reindeer clear over my car and landing close to my mom's car. I didn't know what to do. I was already on the side of the road and so I decided to put my blinker on, and drive over a little further. Hazards went on, my mom is screaming behind me and I got out of my car to watch the deer get off the road, startled at first and then shaking it off and ran away. Crazy. I went to the other side of my car and saw the damage. Mirror and window gone, passenger door seriously crushed and the hood and the back-rightside door sustained multiple dents and scratches. Hair everywhere! Well, I reported it at the nearest gas station and as I was doing so I saw a comic on the cashregister with two deer on the side of the road and one is saying "Car Season." It made me laugh, knowing it could have been so much worse. My neck was sore for a day and my car is fixable. Praise God for His protection.
The past two days I have been getting things in order for the insurance company and I took my car to the body shop. My car is fully covered so over my vacation my car is getting a facelift. Estimated damage-$2300. Coming away from an experience with a story and a thankful heart....priceless.

Monday, December 19, 2005

You know me

Daddy,
You know my heart, my thoughts and every cry. Grant me the patience that will allow me to remember to put other's needs in front of my own. May I hold my tongue through this difficult decision and a difficult situation and turn to You. Father I will trust in Your guidence, in Your grace, in Your love. May I follow in the example set before me. Humbled before You, I cry to You in the beautiful name of Jesus,
Amen.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Remember Today

December 1, 2005. Every December 1 is a day dedicated to AIDS Awarness. A subject close to my heart. There is a lot here...kind of scattered and changes from one subject to another but here it is...My thoughts, my heart. This is for James(1968-2005), Darrel, Jubilee, Kristie, Vince, Chipper, Hank, and Jonathan-who all live with AIDS. Friends of the Good Samaritan Project. My friends.


Christian Reflection on the Social Issue of AIDS:

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray…Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and the let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise them up, (James 5.13-15, NKJV).

As the AIDS pandemic sweeps across this world and wallows in the very heart of Africa, Christians are often faced with questions of how to minister to those who suffer from the disease. How do we as Christians see this situation and how can we act in the way God would call us to do so? I am sure God does not deny that there is innocent suffering within this world, but what is an answer to the pain and suffering in a world God saw was “good” in Genesis 1.31. For Christians, Jesus becomes a model for living, and as Christians, we are invited to care for the needs of others as Jesus did. Through education and research, spiritual care and prayer, as well as personal reflection, a compassionate attitude and outreach provides a justified answer for persons of our limited means of care. Though seemingly small in jest, the uplifting of human life may offer a healing beyond medicinal care. I offer two sources of support: hope and encouragement from scripture, and the potential of the church as a whole becoming a beacon of light for those in the dark. Kind words paired with the faith and hearts of humanity may be a temporary solution for the sickness.

“I accept scripture as an integral part of my faith tradition and a primary source for my spiritual growth,” -Rosemary Hubble.

I love the story of Job, and the parallels between Job and an AIDS patient today are astonishing in all areas of physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms.

“[…] God might get their attention through pain, by throwing them on a bed of suffering, so they can’t stand the sight of food, […] They lose weight, wasting away to nothing , reduced to a bag of bones; they hang on the cliff-edge of death, knowing the next breath may be their last,” (Job 33.19-21 The Message)

When God allowed Satan to test the strength and faith of Job, Job suffered unimaginable loss. His family, his property, and his health were eventually stripped from away from him. Yet, though the man was sick, vulnerable, frail, afraid, and lost, Job’s trusting faith in God prevailed when he exclaimed: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed is the name of the Lord,” (Job 1.21 NKJV). For the millions diagnosed with AIDS, I am sure that Job’s words of praise do not come easy. In fact, expressions of pain and suffering were expected in the time of ruinous loss suffered by Job, and we experience the same today in the time of AIDS. The tragedy of the disease brings pain, suffering, disorder, and chaos, but when reflecting upon this pandemic, Job validates human response to tragedy and reveals a God who cares for the human spirit always.
Job 3.26 reflects the darkness a person with AIDS may experience from the time of diagnosis: “My repose is shattered, my peace destroyed. No rest for me, ever; death has invaded my life.” The prospect of death was an issue of possibility Job struggled with, but for anyone infected with HIV/AIDS, death is an unavoidable certainty with no available cure that is currently known.
Job also questions the point of life in his darkest hour
“May the stars of its morning be dark; may it look for light, but find none, and not see the dawning of the day,” (Job 3.9 NKJV), and “so I have been allotted months of futility, and wearisome nights have been appointed to me. When I lie down, I say, ‘when shall I arise, and the night be ended?’[…] My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope,” (Job 7.3-4, 6 NKJV).

As, Job experiences the emotional and mental adversities that are paralleled to those of an AIDS victim, many of the physical attributes of the disease are shared as well. In Job 30.30, Job describes a “black skin that grows and falls from” him which could be linked to what we describe to be lesions, a common mark among persons with AIDS. As revealed in The Message, Job also describes how his suffering “seizes” him and how the pain “never lets up,” as he tosses through many nights.” A patient who heroically lives in such suffering will teach us that life is indeed hard and finite. For those willing, we must be prepared to identify with and comfort others who suffer.



“[People] cried out to them, ‘Go away, unclean! Go away, go away! Do not touch us!’ When they fled and wandered, those among nations said, “They shall no longer dwell here,” (Lamentations 4.15 NKJV).

An HIV/AIDS diagnosis exposes a range of vulnerable issues including drug use, sexual preference and sexual activity, alienation from religious institutions, morbidity and morality. Through research of this pandemic I only want to reason that we must respond with compassion, not assumptions that are birthed from preconceived ideas.

In Rosemary Hubble’s book Conversations on the Dung Heap, she refers to those who are "isolated and undesirable [or rather] shunned because they are ill, sick and poor." Sadly, those on the “Dung Heap” of life, “they become the society’s untouchables.” Many people with AIDS were and still are pushed through the ‘dung heap,’ but who pushes them there? In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah laments over the destruction of Jerusalem and the degradation of Zion as he witnesses the suffering of the people who suffer a devastating plague: “Now their appearance is blacker than soot; they go unrecognized in the streets; their skin clings to their bones. It becomes as dry as wood." Are we willing to merely lament over the suffering of those infected with AIDS, and then push them aside; to acknowledge and forget? In Lamentations it reads that God’s “compassions never fail. They are new every morning,” (Lord help my heart to be so strong)

It does seem that the universe groans under the weight of the universal suffering caused by AIDS, but we must recognized that life continues all around us with the pain and suffering incorporated into [our] "joyful" lives.

“This attitude toward life, this willingness to allow healing in, to investigate the nature of disease as a means of investigation life seems a basis of healing,”-Walter Smith

Though AIDS research may not offer people a cure, "there are certainly opportunities for healing." In this article I saved from last year “Spiritual Care of Person’s Living with HIV/AIDS” Walter Smith shares that the “ultimate expression for care is being loved. This love is manifest in the way one person patiently and attentively seeks to understand and respond to the other,” He suggests that spiritual care is “the work of communicating the inner meaning of God’s revelation” to people, helping them utilize their “spiritual resources” to assist them in dealing with the disease. In other words, I don't have to understand the cause of the disease and then solve the problem, but rather get close enough to the disease to love and/or even restore a connection with the life at which it inhabits.

I have had personal experience with many who suffer from this disease that invades our world. They have left a permanent mark upon my heart and I cry only that they find peace in knowing that God’s compassion and love never fails. I have been touched by them like I have been touched by the Spirit who provokes my heart to reach out and touch the “untouchables.” My heart cries out to the sick and suffering, and through prayer and reflection, my realization of God in the midst of this tragedy grows stronger every day. Though I value and pray for technological and medicinal advancement in finding a cure, my faith is the strongest resolution I offer.

Returning to Job, he challenges us to respond to the world’s pain and suffering and leaves us with the reminder that God is present in this world always.

This issue, stemming from the catastrophic situation in Africa, has brought to light the experience of human frailty. Two decades has past since the AIDS virus was recognized in the United States and within that relatively short amount of time, no other disease has mounted to so much destruction and so much progress simultaneously.

Pray for those who suffer tonight. It touches us all.

Peace.