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Friday, January 22, 2016

Snow Day!

We’ve had a snow day here in our neck of the woods. You’d think that would be rather good, in a way--a time to catch up on lots of stuff you’ve been too busy chasing around in the outside world to finish. (Come to think of it, I did get a bit of office work in.) But I didn’t get nearly as much done as I’d have expected. Although Mom and I did singlehandedly (okay, with the help of one shovel between us, and one mop handle) attempt to move 500 cubic feet of the white stuff over the side of our deck. We got about two thirds of the way in before quitting in exhaustion. (She shoved her way into the action with more energy and strength than it would have taken for me to resist her participation!)
In days like these, we find within our energy stores an extra deposit from God—a strengthening for the task that feels supernatural in origin. We certainly felt that yesterday—that is, until we ran up against our physical wall of exhaustion. But, that’s the physical and clearly temporary brand of strengthening.
I reread a prayer this morning, from the quill of the apostle Paul, that speaks of a different kind of strengthening—a more permanent one—one that doesn’t leave us drained at the end of the experience and collapsing in exhaustion, but instead energizes us for a new kind of future so fabulous that we can’t even begin to imagine it. Here it is, found in the closing of his second letter to the Thessalonian Christians—a letter my pastor has been preaching through since the first of the year.
May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 HCSB).
I pray this Scripture with many of my new students as they enter their writing studies (in part because of the word word that makes up a key part of the prayer). But today, I felt very much like the Lord Himself whispered this prayer into my heart—as if the Holy Spirit and the Son of God, who intercede for me always, were praying it for me. 
To encourage my heart. 
To strengthen me. 
To prepare me for the good work (ergon) He has in store for me. 
To open me to the good Word and to the good words (logos) He has for me to speak or to write. 
Look where this strength and encouragement finds its source: in Jesus Christ and God our Father. And it’s based in the love of God for us. It’s the source of our hope. And, as I mentioned in the lead-in, it’s eternal, perpetual, everlasting, forever, since the world began and after the world ends.
So, I pray this Scripture into your day today—may our Lord, through His love and His Mighty Spirit, show His love for you by giving you an encouragement that will last. So that you may have His hope to sustain you—the hope based in the solid foundation of His promises to you. And may this love and this hope from Him bolster in your heart a firmly planted, growing resolve to keep on with your hard tasks. May it give energy to your tired body—and vibrant life to your tired soul. And may you, now rejuvenated in His strength, do with energy and enthusiasm the work of His calling on your life. May you not only do His will, but speak His words, today and every day.
Oh, and if you're caught in a snow day (as most of our part of the country continues to be), be careful moving that white stuff. It looks fluffy and sweet--like cotton candy--but boy-oh-boy can it leave your muscles aching!
Blessings to you, my friend,

© 2010, 2016 Julie-Allyson Ieron. Used by permission.

Julie-Allyson Ieron has the creative mind of a writer, the heart of a caregiver, the tenacity of a journalist, the others-centeredness of a businesswoman. She has published 35 books. Her newest are The GOD Interviews: Questions You Would Ask; Answers God Gives and: Gentle Hugs for Grieving Hearts
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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Word for the new year ... from Our Compassionate Lord

Dear friends,

In our archives, we found this post from a number of years ago -- it's more relevant today than it was when we first entered it in our blog. Hope you enjoy this re-read of a new year's blessing:

Word from My Compassionate Lord -   

My love will not be removed from you and My covenant of peace will not be shaken.
Leading into each new year, I seek from the Lord a verse of promise, encouragement, even challenge. I reread and review that verse, along with its related passage, throughout the coming year--and it provides a growth point for my relationship with Christ. One year, the passage was John 17--my study of which eventually became my book and Bible study: Praying Like Jesus. Other years, the word has been to return to my first love (last year's) or to simply stand firm when all is falling apart around me. It's a tradition I've kept since college--and one I am continuing this year.
Also, for many years, I've kept a Bible open in various locations (something I learned from reading that Billy Graham does it!) throughout my home and office. Each time I pass the open Bible, I read a verse or a passage. It’s getting harder now that I’ve reached the age where I need reading glasses to do this—but I keep a dollar-store pair on each open book, so I have no excuse to pass by without reading. I have one open Bible that I read when I'm brushing my teeth, for example. Another on the printer beside my computer. Another on the makeup table in my bedroom.
It was that third one whose pages got blown around when I was vacuuming one day recently. So, when I looked down at it the following evening, it was open to a passage I hadn't read in a long time ... Isaiah 54.
The entire passage blew me away, as it related to some of the unique pains and sadnesses on my heart. Then I got to verse 10, and realized it was the answer to my prayer for a new year’s annual verse. I share it with you from the HCSB, because it's so vibrant and personal in that translation:
“Though the mountains move and the hills shake, My love will not be removed from you and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says your compassionate LORD (Isaiah 54:10).
So much richness is there. So much promise. I love the adjective He chooses to describe Himself: compassionate! A word from my compassionate Lord is one I cannot ignore. One that comforts me in a way none other could.
And that promise is so vital in our topsy-turvy days. Though this world may quake and shake and all its foundations crumble, my peace with God through Jesus Christ and my position as beloved in His eyes are secure. Absolutely incredible. Only the Almighty could make that promise and keep it. And He does, and He will.
I challenge you some time in this first week of a new year to read this passage for yourself, perhaps even the whole chapter, and see whether our Lord has a word for you from its riches.
A blessed, safe, joyful, and God-filled new year to you and your loved ones!

Blessings and prayers,


 © 2012, 2015, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sweet Holy Child

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. John 1:10 NIV

I was thumbing through Christmas music for the choir to present to our congregation at the retirement village when I came across a tender-hearted arrangement of the spiritual “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.” One line in the lyric demanded I stop and take notice:

Sweet little Holy Child/Didn't know Who You was.

I flashed back to the moment the apostle John chose to introduce us to the Master. He could have used the birth announcement (like Luke) or the genealogy (like Matthew). He could have jumped into the action (like Mark). But there, for all to read, amid the imagery of light and life, grace and truth, beginnings and The Word is this line, consistent with the old spiritual:

He was in the world, and … the world did not recognize him.

Devastating indictment of humanity. Your Creator entered the world He made. And guess what? You didn’t know Who He was!

How could they not know?

Before I’m quick to indict them, what about me? I say I know Who He is; I recognize His authority over the universe. But what about His authority over my life? If I recognize Him, what difference does that make? Have you ever wondered the very thing?

Let’s take our lead from those who did recognize Jesus—at the first Christmas and in the 33½ years that followed. They travelled long and far, left work undone, jeopardized lives and livelihoods. They gave gifts that cost them. They claimed Him publicly even when it was dangerous. Consider Peter and John, dragged before the same religious body that just weeks before had condemned Jesus to death. Caiaphas and Annas the high priests were among those who demanded the disciples stop preaching in Jesus’ name. “But Peter and John answered … ‘We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19-20 NASB).

We can’t stop recognizing Him once we see Him and know Him for ourselves.

In a world where it’s increasingly unpopular to claim the Christ of the Word, may we follow the lead of Peter and John and make this our hearts’ Christmas prayer:

Sweet Jesus, I know Who You are.

Because I know You, I dedicate my life to speaking truth about You.

Blessings and prayers,


 © 2015, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email:

"Sweet Little Jesus Boy," by Robert MacGimsey

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Day Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Table

"Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." 
2 Chronicles 20:21

It was the day before Thanksgiving. People everywhere were preparing to loosen their belts, drinking diet shakes, and anticipating a mega-binge on the biggest meal of the year. Women were cooking all snug in their kitchens with visions of browning birds and chestnut dressing dancing in their heads. We, however, hadn't planned quite so well—so I sent Mom out to the store for a few last-minute staples—canned pumpkin and refrigerated pie crusts for, well, you know, "homemade" pie.

Mom stashed her few must-haves into her cart and got in her favorite checker's line. As she wished her friend a "Happy day-before-Thanksgiving," Mom asked casually, "Are you cooking this year?"
Her friend teared up—right there at her register, "I've done it every year of my marriage. But this year with my husband shut in and fighting to recover from cancer surgery, and with me dividing my time between caregiving and working here, my niece asked if I wouldn't mind letting her cook the bird and host the family this year. All I have to do is show up tomorrow. She doesn't know what a gift this is to me."

As a sometimes-caregiver myself, I teared up when Mom relayed the story to me. I know too well the fact that caregiving requires juggling, time management, and shedding all tasks except the absolutely most essential. Non-essentials like shopping for Christmas gifts, planning for (and attending) holiday parties, and preparing a holiday meal go by the wayside leaving a harried caregiver feeling a sense of loss to add to every other emotion she's experiencing. And at once, the holiday season becomes another source of guilt, another source of pain, and another source of sorrow.

Give a caregiver a gift card, and chances are it won't get spent—because she can't get out to shop for herself. Give a caregiver the gift of time, though, and you've given her the most valuable present you could buy. What do I mean? Here are four gifts of time you could give to the caregiver you know.

The Gift of a Meal
This is the gift our checker-friend received from her niece. But it doesn't have to be so extreme or so elaborate. Carrying in a nice, home-cooked meal (complete with throw-away dishware and utensils), delivering it hot, and leaving the family to enjoy it is a tangible gift of one of life's necessities to an overwhelmed caregiver. It's also a way of telling her you're "with her" in spirit—and a demonstration of your thoughtful care. It's easy to give her a quick hug and tell her you're praying for her, but in this way, she'll know you took time and thought to ease her burden, while allowing her to check one must-do off her endless to-do list.

The Gift of Sitting
Many caregivers are tied to their ailing loved ones 24/7 and can't leave without arranging for a sitter. If your caregiver friend is in this situation, a thoughtful gift of time is for you to sit with her loved one for a few hours so she can do something that will refresh and rejuvenate her.
A real splurge is to give your friend a gift card for dinner, a movie, a massage, a makeover, even an overnight stay in an area hotel—and then give the gift of time so she'll be able to use the card on a day when she needs relief from her burdening responsibilities. Church small groups or care teams can pitch in for overnight stays. You might be giving a caregiver her only full night's sleep in as long as she can remember. Talk about a gift of time. This can be one of the most beneficial.

The Gift of Housecleaning
If housecleaning is a spiritual gift, I can tell you I don't have it. But I know that when caregiving gets most intense, things like vacuuming and dusting, laundry and cleaning bathrooms lose any luster they might otherwise have for even the cleanest freaks among us. So, a perfect gift for the caregiver on your list is the gift of housecleaning.
One option is to do cleaning for her yourself. I have a friend who spends a day each week doing an elder friend's laundry. This same gift can be especially meaningful to a harried caregiver who may have confided in you that she is unnerved by her household's multiplying pile of dirty linens and unmentionables.
Another option is to give the gift of a cleaning service to work for your friend when it's most convenient for her. Prepaying or having the cleaning service bill you for the work are two ways to make this fit into the caregiver's schedule.

The Gift of Nearness
One of the saddest byproducts of long-term caregiving is that caregivers often feel detached from special events—like church Christmas concerts and family holiday gatherings. But, with technology, it's easy to "be there" even if you're not really there.

Making a digital video recording of a play where your friend's child or grandchild is performing is one way to share the event with her, even from a distance. So is setting up a web cam and letting everyone at the event talk to her live. Even making a simple telephone call during a Christmas party can make her feel more part of the festivities. Just be careful to ask whether it's a good time to talk (when an ailing father is calling out for his dinner or a recovering surgery patient needs a bandage change, a phone call wouldn't be a welcome gift of time).

The bottom line is that caregivers are easy to overlook in the busyness of the holiday season. Their circumstances may not allow them to fully participate in festivities, but they'd welcome the thoughtful gifts of time from a compassionate friend like you who hasn't forgotten them.

Blessings and prayers,


 © 2010, 2015, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: This was first published as "Merry Christmas Caregiver" in Julie's ebook: Pearls to Treasure (Joy Media, 2010)