An Unexpected Gift

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This place so far from home, the one we live in close to the hospital some may call isolation but we call it holy ground.

It’s a new normal.  A place stripped of most of our possessions but here in the quiet we have found God to be more than enough.

His presence is often experienced the most in our deep nights of the soul.

We are experiencing Him in new and profound ways.

That’s a gift.

Cancer.  My husband’s cancer has caused us to go deeper with God, to experience His peace that passes all understanding more frequently.  Especially in times of fear when we feel lost and alone and cry out to Him.  It may not happen immediately but He always lets us know that He hasn’t abandoned us.

We will never be the same.  You can’t go through something like this and ever come out on the other side of it the same as you entered into it.

Often God’s mercies are wrapped in unexpected ways.

Look at Jesus.  Away in a manger no crib for a bed…

Who would have thought God would wrap His most precious gift of love, grace and mercy in swaddling cloths?

Who would have thought God Himself would come to earth in such a lowly, humble way?

Truth is His most precious gifts often come wrapped that way.  In ways that we would never expect.  His gifts are perfect and right on time.

We prayed for 4 months that a bone marrow donor would be found for my husband.

Many have prayed.  Perhaps you prayed too.

The news came that a donor could not be found through the registry.

More chemo.  More waiting.  More praying. More hoping.

Then the miracle came.

Our oldest son, Scott, tested as over half a match.

Not perfect but good enough.

It’s good enough for a haploidentical bone marrow transplant.

These types of transplants have been done successfully at the University Research Hospital where the transplant will be done.  All transplants come with benefits and risks.  It’s not easy by any means but we trust God with the outcome.

On January 6 my husband will enter the hospital.  His immune system will be suppressed through more chemotherapy and radiation.

On Januray 13, Scott’s bone marrow will be harvested and given to Bob through an IV.

My husband, Bob, will receive the gift of life through the son that he gave life to.  The son we gave birth to is giving his father a second chance at life.

Who would have thought that the answer; the gift would come through our son?

We celebrate the most precious gift ever given in Jesus this month, the one who has given us life eternal.

And we receive with grateful hearts His precious gift of mercy wrapped in the most unexpected way through our son, Scott and we thank our son for his most special offering.  Certainly it’s the best gift that he’s ever given his dad for Christmas.

We are going to have a Merry Christmas knowing that our God knows what He is doing and although a perfect donor match could not be found He is going to give Bob a perfect transplant.

Merry Christmas!

Nancy ❤

( The photo was taken of an angel adorning our beautiful European Cyprus Tree.  Both the tree and ornaments were sent to us by some dear friends)

Celebrate!

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Red, white and blue.  I’ve seen it everywhere this past week.

If you live in the USA, you have too.

There are flags waving, crepe paper adorning, patriotic symbols flashing, celebration of the 4th. of July, our independence day, the birthday of America ring out across our land.

And the celebration continues into Sunday, July 5.

I celebrate my freedom to worship today, to serve the God I love, to live in a country where I can proclaim my faith without fear of persecution.  I celebrate that I can worship openly, not in hiding, like so many fellow believers do in other parts of the world.

Despite my freedom, at times I feel like a fish out of water or a fish in the water swimming upstream, going against the flow.

When I get weary and tired, God’s strength and power gives me the Spiritual muscles to keep swimming even when the current pushes against me.

And He gives me the power to live here, now, at such a time as this but to always remember who I am, where I came from and where I’m headed.

He gives me the power to LOVE. And I hope I will LOVE coming from a humble position.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:  ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers. adulterers–or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his chest and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”   Luke 18: 9-14

My prayer is that I will LOVE coming from the humble place of one needing mercy–ah, grace, mercy–I am nothing without it and everything with it.

I’m aware that as a Christ follower I am called to be different, live differently than our culture — to live counter culturally — but I am also called to love differently than is humanly possible in a world that is not my home.  That is hard and impossible without the power of Christ in me.

I don’t want to forget that this is not my home.  I don’t want to forget that I live in a world where I don’t really belong.  I don’t want to ever forget that I am a citizen of Heaven and that I am just passing through.

I am a sojourner.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a sojourner too.

We are not citizens of our world trying to work our way to Heaven.  We are citizens of Heaven allowing Him to complete His work through us.

As I look around at all the red, white and blue.  When I celebrate, join in on the festivities, parades, fireworks, I’m reminded that this celebration can’t compare to the one going on in Heaven when we open our hearts and lives to Jesus–the one who loved us enough to come down into this world to save us.

He’s the one who throws open wide the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven and welcomes us into a new and forever citizenship — a land with similar colors to remember and celebrate.

Jesus bore the red – through His blood, the blue through His bruises and we wear the white.

When God looks at us clothed in Jesus, He sees us as though we have never sinned.  White as snow.  Pure and perfect without blemish or stain.

As I celebrate my freedom here, I’m thankful for my liberty, the freedom to worship, the freedom to express myself.  I celebrate all that and more.

I celebrate the beauty, the glimpses of His glory that surround me daily and I’m truly thankful for all the good and perfect gifts that He’s given to me for my enjoyment.

But I also remember not to get too comfortable and to remember that I will be called to live counter-culturally at times, maybe even be ridiculed for that, possibly be misunderstood,  but I will remain joyful remembering that this is not my home, I’m just passing through.  The best is yet to come.

Blessings,

Nancy

When too much salt spoils the soup

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It was a cool autumn day, lunch time, and a hearty bowl of soup sounded good.

Bob and I stopped at a familiar restaurant and ordered the vegetable beef soup and a salad.

As we waited for our lunch, we sipped our coffee.  Not just good coffee but great coffee — something the restaurant is known for and we enjoyed every drop.

When our meal arrived, I scooped up the steaming liquid brimming with chunky veggies and bits of beef and tasted my first spoonful.

Bob asked, “So how is it?”  I swallowed then responded, “It’s flavorful.  Almost too flavorful.  Actually, It’s pretty salty.”

He tried his.  “Wow, you know me, I like my meals salted well but this is overpowering.”

Both of us kept remarking how salty the soup was with every spoonful.  I don’t know why we didn’t send it back.  We should have.

By the time we left, we had a bad taste in our mouths.  Not only because of the overpowering salty soup but toward the restaurant who served it.

On this side of that lunch experience, we have lost our desire to go back there to eat.  We’ve steered clear of it ever since.

Just one bad experience, from a normally good establishment, and we don’t want to return.

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 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13

Recently I’ve heard several people say that Christians have lost their saltiness.

That statement may be true in certain situations.  Salt was used as a preservative in the first century, because of the lack of refrigeration.

Followers of Christ are like preservatives in the world, preserving it from evil.  I get that.

But salt back then was also used as a flavor enhancer.  Just as it is now.  That hasn’t changed.

Followers of Christ should enhance the flavor of our world.  We should influence the world toward good, bringing out the best in it just as salt brings out the best flavors in the food we eat.

  • Where there is strife we are peacemakers
  • Where there is sorrow we are comforters
  • Where there is hurt we should bind up wounds
  • Where there is hate we should love

Did you ever notice the gentle way Jesus engaged the broken, sick, sorrowful, hurting, unloved, abused people in conversation?   With great love.

Did you ever notice who He was the harshest with?  The religious leaders.  The ones who loved to use their religious rules to pour salt into the wounds of people.  The ones with the judgmental pointing fingers — pointing out all the wrongs in others — those were the ones that He was harshest with.

How thankful I am that Christianity isn’t about religion but about a relationship with Christ.  He doesn’t force Himself into anyone’s life but when we open our lives to Him a beautiful relationship begins.  Out of that loving relationship comes the salt of the world.


Back to the soup story.  It tasted as if someone had removed the top of the salt shaker and, instead of a little sprinkling, all the contents ended up into the bowl.

It was too much of a good thing.  A lesser amount would have been perfect.

“You are the salt of the world…

Sure we can lose our saltiness but we can also be guilty of using too much salt and become overbearing like the salty soup we ate that autumn day.

The grace given to us is a flavor enhancer to sprinkle on our surroundings by using just the right amount at just the right time.

We don’t want to pour our salt into the wounds of the hurting.  Those who are grieving over their choices, or the choices of others, those who are trying to take steps back to God don’t need our salt poured out carelessly.

And even if someone isn’t taking steps toward God, even if they don’t agree with us or we don’t agree with their lifestyle, the right amount of salt doesn’t judge.  It loves. It’s patient.  And it’s respectful.

A little salt goes a long way to flavor the lives of others and possibly wet their appetites.

Then hopefully, through God’s grace, they won’t leave our company with a bad taste in their mouths.  I think that glorifies God.  Don’t you?

Blessings!  Nancy

Grace Like Rain

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I slip my glasses on so I can see my way into the kitchen.  With pen and journal in hand, I click the brew switch on the coffee maker and take a seat at the table to wait for my first cup of morning brew.

As I flip open my journal, I notice the sound of gentle rain hitting the window.  My eyes land on the sliding door as beads of moisture glide down the glass.

Dawn is trying to break through the darkened clouds.

I hear the ready ring from the coffee pot.

The Italian roast flows into my mug.  The rich aroma wafts through the still air.

Taking my seat at the table once again, I sip and write.  Sip and write.  Ideas race through my mind and out the tip of my pen.  On the blank journal page, I scribble words leftover in my mind from the night before.

I’m always thinking, feeling, trying to sort out what I envision in my writer’s mind.  Whether I have a pen, journal, keyboard or not it’s the way I’m wired.  My brain is always creating.

I close my journal and listen to the patter of rain.

Sometimes we need a dark day.  It pulls us in, it quiets our souls, we are hidden and alone, away from any commotion or communication.

It’s a necessary place to be at times–small and hidden.

The electronics beckon but sometimes we need to tuck ourselves away from TV, phones, computers–away from the “Look at me” world that we are living in.  The false realities of our day make us believe that we’re not fully alive unless we’re seen.

So here alone I ponder.  In this space, in the dark cover of morning I’m embraced in solitude.

I stop striving, contemplating, thinking, being distracted by my own thoughts and I quiet my mind.  I empty myself and it’s here that I’m fully alive.

In this place there is no communication with others, except with the Lord my God.  Here there is no pretense.  I am fully seen, fully known and fully loved.

Like the rain that saturates the earth, my soul is saturated in grace.

And like Mary I know that I have picked the better thing.

 …but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

Written by:  Nancy Janiga ©2015

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Grace~It’s All About Grace

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The words slid off my tongue like butter from a knife.

Smooth, slick words rolled out of my mouth and into my listener’s ears.

If only I had caught my words that morning and took them captive while they were still a thought.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Restless, agitated, mulling over my words, trying to convince myself that I spoke ‘truth in love’ was how I spent the next few days.  My soul felt like a clogged channel and I was looking for ways to unclog it.  The truth is–I couldn’t do that myself.

Around the same time, I was meeting with a group of women studying a book titled, “Seeking Him–experiencing the joy of personal revival” and what an eye-opening, wow inducing, all-encompassing truth encounter that was!

I rested one morning in the chapter on having a clear conscience and dealing with offenses toward others.  Emmanuel ~ God’s astonishing grace with me, was pointing out, teaching, empowering and challenging me to live out the gospel.

I may have failed to live it out just days before but I could begin again.  It’s what we do after we make a mess that really matters.

Acknowledging the messiness before God was liberating.  His grace ushered in peace, but my peace, wasn’t enough.  I had to bring peace into the relationship with the woman, that I had offended.  I needed to apologize.

With an invitation to a party in hand (that I knew she would be attending too) I planned my move.

I was hoping my words would slide off my tongue like butter (this time too) but I envisioned them more like peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth as I tried to force out an apology.  I wanted her to understand the motive behind the words; defend myself and I kept rehearsing how I’d say it.

But none of that mattered on the day we met.  I said a prayer while walking into the event and courage and power flowed through my once clogged soul and I simply said, “I want to apologize for what I said, it was uncalled for, will you forgive me?”   She smiled, “Wow I appreciate that.  Yes I forgive you.”

We sat at the same table, enjoying the party together, with the air cleared of everything but GRACE.

Grace.  It’s all about grace.

God wrapped Himself in grace on that first Christmas, over 2000 years ago, and the gift of grace keeps on giving.

It’s grace that meets us in the middle of relationships and helps us speak the simple words “Will you forgive me?” And it’s grace that allows the response, “Yes I forgive you.”

It’s not enough for me to accept His gift of grace, I need to extend it.  Freely I have received so I can freely give.  There isn’t another way to live the life of faith except through grace.

When we first believed it was by grace; living our faith daily is grace upon grace, upon grace, upon grace…it’s all about grace.

Is there someone who needs the gift of grace from you this Christmas?

Written by: Nancy Janiga ©2014