New Devotional for Caregivers

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Replacement

I was standing in line at the post office when my cell phone rang. It registered as one of my colleagues. That’s odd. She always emails.
“Hello? Julie?” Her voice sounded strained, panicked. She didn’t pause for me to say hello. “The speaker just cancelled for my conference; it starts tomorrow. I have hundreds of people on their way from all over the country. Please tell me you’re available to replace her.”
And so, for neither the first nor the last time, I became (trumpet flourish):The Replacement. I flew into a frenzy. I had to reshuffle appointments while creating a fresh presentation to parallel the topics the original speaker advertised. I had only hours to pack for the week-long trip before getting on the road.
Don’t think for a minute I’m complaining. I’m a willing replacement. When a conference director or TV interviewer tells me, “We’d love to have you back,” I always reply, “I’d love to be back. And, if you ever need a last-minute replacement, I’d be happy to fill in.” I mean it, too.
There might be a temptation for some to feel slighted, like, why wasn’t I invited first? But a true replacement is as Paul suggested to Timothy, “ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2 ESV). That’s actually a great motto. Like a backup quarterback, I never know which day I’ll get called in.
I was noodling on this as I prepared for a last-minute radio broadcast the other morning. That’s when my Bible reading took me to Acts. The followers, huddled in the upper room waiting, did a head count. Only eleven original disciples remained, since the betrayer Judas had allowed guilt to drive him to suicide.
Peter, remembering an Old-Testament prophecy, knew the disciples (learners), about to turn into apostles (witnesses), needed a twelfth man.
My eyes froze on something I’d never noticed before. The circle of Christ-followers included a crew of replacements waiting on the bench. Everywhere Jesus had gone during His ministry years, these folks had followed. They’d heard all His sermons. They’d slept where He slept and travelled the roads He trod. There had always been the big twelve—the ones we hear about. But there were others, just as faithful, just as attentive, just as available.
After identifying two of these followers with potential, Matthias and Justus, Peter voiced the group’s prayer, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry” (Acts 1:24-25 NLT).
When the answer came back as Matthias, Matthias willingly became the twelfth man replacement: “And he was numbered with the eleven apostles,” Luke reports in a matter-of-fact tone (Acts 1:26).
We know little about Matthias. Clearly, he didn’t trumpet his own publicity, but God took notice of his willingness to serve, his faithful heart, his availability. So, in honor of Matthias, and replacements near and far, I’ve prepared a Manifesto for Replacements
As a Professional Replacement I will …
  • be available
  • be enthusiastic
  • be prepared to jump in with little notice
  • check my ego at the door
  • bring a good attitude with me
  • fill in wherever I’m needed
  • seek others’ best interests over my own


Matthias gained an unparalleled privilege when he agreed to become God’s Replacement. I gained the privilege of addressing an attentive, enthusiastic crowd at my friend’s conference. And so it will go any time we agree to join God’s team as The Replacement.

Blessings and prayers,
Julie

 © 2014, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Jesus Still Loves Me

Treasured friend,

The other day, when Mom and I were doing our music ministry at a local senior home, we were witnesses to a startling miracle. Many of the residents are quite healthy and independent, but some are succumbing to dementia. Sadly, it seems the disease steals more of who they are with each passing week. One sweet gal, in particular, is more and more lost in her own world, less and less aware of her surroundings.

Anyway, on this particular day Mom got it in her mind to try out the music box setting on the organ with a little ditty from Sunday school days, "Jesus Loves Me."

No sooner did Mom strike the first chord of the chorus that a voice rang out above the din of the room. It was very much in the range of an outside voice, not an inside voice. It also was on pitch and in perfect time. Yes, as you guessed, it was this sweet gal. "Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so."

Some memories, it seems -- and some truths -- are simple enough for a child and enduring enough to rise through dementia's cruel fog.

Jesus' love is like that. He has staying power. Listen for His amazing promise: "The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him" (John 14:21 HCSB). This sweet gal reminded Mom and me of that blessed truth.

Our prayer for you is that you are able to stay aware of the amazing love of God today -- and keep looking for the little miracles He places in your path.

Blessings and prayers, Julie

 © 2014, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Servant Position Vacated, Apply Here

I learned overnight that one of my sweet, wonderful mentor/friends from the church I attended in college, Rita Jo Yerden, moved up to heaven not quite two days ago. Rita Jo exhibited a compassion and sensitivity and an ability to recognize pain in others that I never forgot. In fact, I wrote about her in my first book, Names of Women of the Bible. I’m so glad that when I went back to Anderson, IN, for my 25th college reunion a few years ago, I had a long chat with her during the intermission of a concert at Park Place Church of God.

If you’ll indulge me, then, I offer this excerpt in tribute to Rita Jo – and in hopes that each of us as caregivers can follow her example. For, as heaven gains servants like her, new servant positions are vacated down here.

I am a woman who is deeply troubled. . . . I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:15)

It was to be three weeks of bliss. The trip of a lifetime.

I had been chosen to join a touring choir on a mission to Europe. Our church's minister of music and his wife, Rita Jo, would lead the tour.

While in Germany, we enjoyed the hospitality of host churches. They served us delicious cold cuts and cheese with heavily buttered hard rolls. Every afternoon we stopped at out-of-the-way bakeries for a stretch break and to enjoy luscious cream-filled pastries.

Soon after our arrival, my stomach began to complain. At first it was just a little discomfort, then the pain increased. I missed several concerts, having to lie down backstage while my friends were out front ministering. Discouragement crept in. It wasn't until five years later that my physician discovered the milk allergy—to cream, cheese, butter —that caused these symptoms. All I knew at the time was that I was missing all the good stuff by being sick.

One afternoon Rita Jo pushed a folded piece of paper into my hand. On it she had handwritten the words to the hymn "He Giveth More Grace." I read and reread those words, contemplating their meaning, desiring the grace they bespoke.

Hannah, whose name means grace, came to know that grace intimately during her deep distress. She experienced the miracle-working grace of God, because she carried her burden right to Him.

Hannah had good reason to be depressed. You and I certainly would have been troubled in her circumstance. Peninnah, her husband's other wife, had many children; Hannah had none. Peninnah, the Scriptures say, tormented her rival for Elkanah's attention: "Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat" (1 Samuel 1:7). In her pain and in utter disregard for anyone who might be watching, Hannah bared her soul to the Lord, begging Him to give her a son, vowing to give that child back to Him for His service.

In response, the Scriptures record a beautiful phrase, "and the Lord remembered her" (1 Samuel 1:19). She touched the Father's heart with her tears and prayers, and He extended His hand to her. God honored Hannah's sincerity and fervency. He granted her not only that baby, but later He also gave her other sons and daughters.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines grace as "A favor rendered by one who need not do so." God acted graciously on Hannah's behalf, not because He was obligated to do so, but because He chose to do so. Moreover, He displayed His graciousness through her, by using her firstborn son (whom she named Samuel, which means, "heard of God") to rule His people in justice and honor. In his old age, long after his mother was gone, Samuel had the privilege of anointing Israel's greatest king, David.

Hannah's response to the Lord's provision was as exemplary as her request. First, she did as she had promised. She gave the child Samuel to minister in the Lord's temple to become a blessing back to the Lord. Second, she gave all the glory to God, her heart overflowing into a poetic prayer of acknowledgment and thanks. "My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. . . . There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:1–2).

In some obvious ways, we are unlike Hannah. In few of our homes do two wives of the same man live together (although if they did, feuding would not be unthinkable). And in our culture, inability to have children is not thought to be a curse from God, as it was in Hannah's day.

But in the ways that count, we are very much alike. Our needs, our heavy burdens, the demands of life, and our tormentors and problems too often threaten to overwhelm us. Like I did on my college bus trip, we often suffer alone, when with just a prayer we can call upon the one who will "remember us" as He remembered Hannah all those centuries ago.

The writer of Proverbs noted that God "mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble" (3:34). It is a truth James quotes in his epistle (4:6).

It was in humbly pouring out her heart to God that Hannah found her burden lifted. Her life can be an example to us of what God can do—if we do our part. We are told in Scripture what that part is: "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

It has been many years since Rita Jo handed me that paper, but I'll never forget its effect upon me. Those words reminded me that God, through His only Son Jesus whom He graciously sacrificed to meet the ultimate need of humanity, stands ready to provide for all my needs through His abundant, overflowing supply. And He does this not because of any obligation, but because He chooses to do so. 

My dear, loving Father, I need a portion of that overflowing supply of grace today, and I know so many others around me have that same need. Please provide for me, and equip me to be a conduit of Your grace in the lives of those I love. Amen.

Excerpted by permission from Names of Women of the Bible, ©1998, 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron; all rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact Joy at orders@joymediaservices.com.

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bible references now easier to read

Friends,

We've added a new function to our blog. Now, whenever you encounter a Scripture reference in the text of the entries, you'll be able to fly your cursor over that reference and have the full text of the passage open in a popup window. We hope you enjoy this new benefit. It's one we've come to enjoy because of the WordSearch Bible software package we use in the office, now it's available on blogs and websites (it's called Reftagger and it comes from Logos software, in case you'd like to add it to your pages). We think it will enhance your reading experience. Enjoy!

Blessings,

Julie and the Joy Media team
3 John 1:2