A Christmas Gift

A Christmas Gift

Isaiah 9:2  New International Version (NIV)

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Some of you know that I was in the hospital earlier this week with the searing pain of shingles on my face. I was crushed to face such a serious disease on top of the daily seizure episodes that accompany chronic Lyme disease: a battle that consumes me with treatment and related activities for most of every day. How could I possibly bear one more grief?

The answer:  with Jesus Christ. Inside the treatment plan of this new illness came a drug for nerve pain that also happens to help seizures. And fibromyalgia pain. I was humbled to have a couple of seizure-free days thereafter! Managing everything took strained breaths as I tried to get beyond the few 1-2 hours of sleep in those first days and other complications. There were setbacks that crushed my spirit: aggressive, violent episodes of a kind I had never seen before. Then they all nearly stopped. And very few “little zippies” have followed as sleep has returned too. I am humbled, hopeful, grateful. What a Christmas gift!

We have no idea what lies before me in this long journey of illness and hope for complete recovery. I am grateful for those who have followed my story, prayed, and offered encouragement just when I needed it. Thank you! I believe this story goes beyond me, however, as neither of us knows what lies ahead. But don’t waste your time worrying about that. Put your faith in the one who came to save us from this hell, these trials, the sorrows that plague our lives here on earth big or small that began as a consequence of the Fall of Mankind. He grieves for our loss, our struggle, our suffering. And He gives us a choice what to do with it.

Choose to join me in the celebration of a new life that comes from the belief and surrender to the Lord: Jesus Christ. One day He will return to make all things right. No more sorrow, no more tears. Until then we can have a good bit o’ the joy, the strength, the love that supernaturally exceeds this life: our eternal destiny begins the day we place our faith in Him. Do you now Him this way? He is the only way to peace. He is the only way to joy. He is the only way to love. He invented them after all.

Merry Christmas Gentle Reader. Hope to connect with you more in 2017 and most importantly at the celebration that awaits believers in Jesus Christ in heaven.

I love Christmas.

With love, Just Julie


Christmas Letter 2013

Linus from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
Linus from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

December 2013

Dear Family and Friends:

This past year proved to be another wild ride at our home, filled with adventures both good and, well, the other one!

Steve discontinued his Winter Shooting League commitments to be home with his beloved wife early in the New Year.  Two Fort Wayne event planning committees benefitted from Steve’s expertise running canoe and kayak racing competitions, held this summer.  His kayak racing (K-1 Unlimited) went well again for his fifth year racing in the U. S. Canoe Association circuit here in northern Indiana.  Participation in the USCA national meeting as a delegate and a respectable finish in the USCA Nationals were additional highlights this past year.  And while threats of layoffs continued at Exelis (formerly ITT), the Lord preserved Steve’s work again; it appears that the engineering contracts will continue for the next three years.  Yes!

Steve’s leadership and dedication to the Lord played out in continued work on the Missions Board at Harvest Fellowship in addition to weekly Bible and worship services.  I appreciated the weekly gift of a CD of the pastor’s message as my worship became more homebound due to the older conditions of our church building.  While I dreadfully missed the fellowship of our church home, I am grateful for the uplifting Bible teaching and first-hand account of all-things-Harvest when Steve came home with his play-by-play Sunday updates!

The biggest adventure of the year was the remediation of our home for mold between January and March.  We had just returned from seeing family and friends in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina in January when it became clear that there were mold spores throughout the house that were causing significant compromises of Julie’s health.  After extensive testing and prayer, we discovered that mold had developed in the air return area underneath a bathroom cabinet.  Julie stayed in a hotel for 76 days, most of them with our dog Elle while Steve ran back and forth between home/hotel/work.  Steve’s daughter, Christina, was finishing a furlough with us before returning to Thailand this Spring.  I thanked her for coordinating some of the clean-up efforts and navigating the flooring replacement project that included the entire house.  To say it was a major undertaking for all of us would be putting it lightly!  We are grateful for the Lord’s provision and guidance . . . and to be back home!  We are home except for Christina that is:  she is pursuing her work in linguistics and as an Intern Coordinator in Thailand.

Quick update:  Patrick and Kate celebrated Jackson Rees’ first birthday this past September at their home in North Carolina.  We unfortunately were unable to attend due to my illness but wait with great expectation for their return visit to Fort Wayne this Christmas.  Rebekah is now finishing her first semester at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; international education will be the focus of her Master’s degree.  And Daniel continues to thrive as a Corporal in the Marines, based down the coast from Patrick in North Carolina.  We are delighted to host him and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Posey, for some Christmas celebrations here real soon.

And for me, well check my blah, blah, blog for the hairy details!  (www.justjuliewrites.com)  I continue to battle the complications of a serious illness.  Recent new treatments are providing promising results and I must say that we see the hand of God guiding me and Steve through this often difficult journey – with some moments of sweet tenderness that probably could not have come any other way.  I am also grateful for two projects:  my online jewelry business (www.trinityjewelrybydesign.com) & eBook (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/371334) that have kept me sane when tempted to feel discouraged.  There is hope and I see it every day in the face of my Jesus and heart of my beloved Steve.

So we hope that you will be encouraged this Christmas:  the Creator King is on the throne and is ready for us to celebrate His birth in just a few days.  The love and hope of Jesus Christ makes the difference to hearts and minds surrendered to His care.  He does it for us.  How about you?

Merry Christmas,

Steve & Julie