Thursday, February 26, 2009

Put off and put on

Today is Aaron's 26th birthday! Happy Birthday Sweetie!! His birthday probably couldn't have been much busier with work, and playing the piano at the highschool here, and then band and choir practice tonight, but it's so neat to see him have such a great attitude through it all....because my husband loves to serve!

And I'm sure he wasn't expecting me to break down crying at lunch for his birthday. But I must say, my husband has a gift for making me verbalize my thoughts and then helping me understand and work through them. The Lord used Him to open my eyes very wide this afternoon, and see the error of my ways. Forgive me if what I write isn't well put together...I just hope it makes sense.

It's so easy for me to know what is right, believe the messages I hear at church, and believe what I read in the Word or books (or blogs),but then to not have it penetrate and change my heart. There has been a struggle going on in me for the past few months now, and to be totally open and honest, I didn't know what to do, and it has been completely draining me. I wake up each morning, and when I feel sick, I know what the right thing to do is: understand that this is for my good and has a great purpose, that I need to be joyful in the Lord and content with what he has given me, that I must rely upon the Lord's strength and grace to get through it, etc. But it has been a battle to be joyful and content every day. I know that is what the Lord wants, but I have felt like I fail Him day after day because it IS such a struggle. I'm reading His Word, but not as much as I should or even with the right perspective. I'm praying, but barely enough and there are times I don't know what to pray. I'm doing things around the house and even out and about, but I still feel sick and wish I didn't. And then I talk to SO many women who have obviously been through the same thing, and they make it sound like it was hard but they got tjrough it and did it time after time, and I get even more dicouraged feeling like "what is wrong with me and why can't I have a better attitude about this?!?"

Alright, now to what the Lord has revealed to me today, starting with using my husband as a tool. I shared with Aaron what I was feeling, and he could understand why I was in turmoil...because I was dwelling on my failure to be truly content and joyful, and constantly trying to figure out how to change. Instead of dwelling on God alone, ---his AMAZING beauty, all of his attributes, his work on the cross, his great work in my life, his MANY blessings he has given me, I have been dwelling on my health. My thoughts easily go towards how I'm feeling when they need to be completely filled with my Savior!! I need to put off the discouragment, frustration, and self pitty, and I need to put on the righteousness of Jesus! I need to go to the Word because of my love for the Savior and desire to know Him more, NOT to hope what I read encourages me and changes my perspective on life. It's not about me, it's about HIM!! And lastly, I need to thank Him for ALL that HE does for me...which is an endless list. I started today, and realized how good my God is, and how ungrateful I have been!!

This afternoon was a reviving time of confessing, praying, and reading...the Lord led me to Psalm 27 (which is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, but I hadn't read it in ages!), and he truly showed me his beauty and incredible love through my weakness! The whole Psalm is beautiful, and i would encourage you to read it!! "One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD." ~Ps. 27:4-6

Please pray for me as the Lord works in my heart....these battles will rage on, but with the Lord on my side, I know I can be victorious.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Blessed Weekend

God is so gracious in giving His children just what they need at the right time! I felt like this weekend was a gift from the Lord--- It was restful, yet eventful, and Sunday's messages were incredibly encouraging...and of course, convicting too ;)

On Friday evening we had a small singing group from Chile at our church. They are with the organization Friendship International and are spreading the gospel in their country through music and other arts. It was a very neat cultural experience and worshipful music! It was interesting trying to communicate with them, since a good number spoke very little english, but their joy and sacrifice in serving was evident for all to see. That is my prayer...I hope that even when the gopsel isn't said in words, it shows through my demeanor and actions.

On Saturday morning, Aaron played his second soccor game with the intermural sports at TMC. It's a joy to see my husband have a blast doing something he really enjoys....but it isn't so much a joy to see him get hurt! The poor guy pulled his hamstring before the second half, and lets just say his walking wasn't quite natural. I must admit I supressed no laughter at seeing my husband wobble like a penguin and maneuver his way up our stairs. :) Anyways he is doing much better as of today and walking with only a little limp! Praise the Lord!

On Saturday evening we were given the privelege of being a part of my brother's father in law's birthday (Harry Fujita :)) And had a good time eating yummy food at a restaurant and then delicious ice cream cake that Kimiko made!

Hannah is enjoying flying way up high in Uncle Aaron's arms

...And her neck is very ticklish!!

Harry is enjoying his his free ice cream sundae I think just a little too much! :)

And to top the weekend off, I didn't feel sick when I woke up Sunday morning, which was the first in a long time! I was VERY thankful to God. Our pastor preached on Our Immutable God!Here are some things that greatly encouraged me!

While everything around us is changing and deteriorating, our God remains the same! (Psalm 102) God's Character never changes- He has always been perfect, holy, forgiving, loving, self-sufficient, and He always will be! His Purposes Never change- "The cousel of the Lord stands forver, The plans of His heart from generation to generation!" (Psalm33:11) Every good gift is from the Lord, and really, everything He gives us is ultimately for our good....with Him "there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among his creatures." (James 1:17-18) This is God's purpose for be His children who should glorify Him in all that we do to show the world who our perfect creator is. And guess what?!? His purpose and promises never change! Our God is truly a great God!

Who am I then, to question or complain when God sends hard things my way? If I know his purpose of continually making me like His son remains the same, then ALL things God gives me are great things indeed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hardships that Hang On - Devotional Thoughts by Joni Eareckson Tada

An older friend from church who has MS posted this on her facebook today, and it was quite a blessing to my own heart. It is these things that remind me how incredibly thankful I need to be everyday that my nausea is only temporary! Nonetheless, it's a trial, and this is a great encouragment of where my throughts and desires need to be. Mom, I hope it especially blesses your heart...I love you!!!

Hardships That Hang On
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me... But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." --II Corinthians 12:8-9I will never forget the day they moved me from "acute care" to "chronic care" in the hospital. As they wheeled my stretcher under the sign, I got a lump in my throat. It meant "the doctors don't know what else to do and I won't regain use of my body." My condition was chronic.

Why do some hardships never go away? You pray and plead until your knees are sore; yet the pinched nerve doesn't heal, the multiple sclerosis doesn't halt, the Alzheimers doesn't regress, the marriage doesn't get better, the job promotion never comes, and the engagement ring never arrives. After decades in a wheelchair, this is my conclusion...

The core of God's plan is to rescue us from sin and self-centeredness. Suffering - especially the chronic kind - is God's choicest tool to accomplish this. It is a long process. But it means I can accept my paralysis as a chronic condition. When I broke my neck, it wasn't a jigsaw puzzle I had to solve fast, or a quick jolt to get me back on track. My paralyzing accident was the beginning of a lengthy process of becoming like Christ.

May I share with you one of my "chronic" Bible verses that won't go away? James 1:2-4 says: "When all kinds of trials crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed" (Phillips). When that finally happens, the only thing that will be chronic is joy!

Lord, help me to embrace the chronic conditions in my life. I want endurance to be fully developed in my life. Help me to hang on.

~Joni Eareckson Tada~

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day

I have to quickly share with you how precious my husband has been through these past two months of me being sick. God has been teaching me a lot about contentment and joy, but I think he has been teaching my husband even more about self-sacrifice and continual service. He has cooked, cleaned, done the dishes, gone grocery shopping (sometimes twice a day), and he's been a great encourager through all of it.

These pictures will demonstrate how he has gone ABOVE and BEYOND his call of duty. Yes, my HUSBAND gave me a PEDICURE for Valentine's Day! I don't think too many wives can say that! :) And I don't know too many wives would want to be able to say that. He even did the hearts himself. I was very impressed, but I had to convince him not to change proffessions...I don't think I could handle my husband being a beautician!

We Finally Did It!

Well, the Johnson family has finally made it into the blogging world, and we are quite excited. Our prayer is that this site would not just be a place to give you updates and share pictures(although it will be that)... but a place to share with you Christ's amazing grace in our lives, His glory in our salvation, His strength in our weaknesses, and His all sufficient wisdom.

May our prayer each day be that we "do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than ourselves," and that we "do not merely look our for our own personal interests, but also for the interests of others, having this attitude in ourselves 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." (Phil. 2:3-11) AMEN!

Wow! I don't know if our finite minds will ever fully grasp the fullness of this passage, but may we strive daily to be like our Savior, and live for His glory!