Friday, December 25, 2020

A Hospital Christmas


Treasured Friend,

Mom instilled in me a love for decorating our home for Christmas. We’re kinda obsessed. In fact, the day we bought our new townhouse, the former owner showed us a closet under the stairs, with lots of bonus storage. We looked at each other and exclaimed in duet: “Perfect for Christmas decorations!” He rolled his eyes.

But two Christmases ago, our decorations were limited to Charlie Brown’s tree and a plaque gifted from a technician at the hospital. These made up our desperate attempts to bolster our spirits as I battled for my life.

Let me set the scene for you as I tell it in my new book, Don’t Let This Throw You! (Available on Amazon) We want you to know how God showed up during our Christmas 2018, just two years ago, so you can be on the lookout for Him today as you celebrate Christmas 2020. 


On Christmas the hospital tried its best by offering a holiday menu. Culinary services in a hospital aren’t known for gourmet holiday fare. But they did try. They also allowed me to purchase a tray for Mom so we could enjoy our meal together.

Bridget, who was going to deliver our dinner, dressed as an elf that day. As we waited for her, we were looking for a TV program that wasn’t just our usual cooking, home improvement, and football. Lord let us find something that will help us focus on You.

We stopped on PBS when we heard Christmas carols originating in a great cathedral. After a few sets of carols and pop Christmas songs, an actor began narrating the story of the hymn: “It Is Well With My Soul.”

It’s a dramatic and powerful story. Horatio Spafford, a businessman who lost everything during the Great Chicago Fire, sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him to England on a ship. He was to follow.

But the family’s ship was lost at sea, and all of Spafford’s daughters drowned. He received a cable from his wife with the crushing message, “Saved alone.” He boarded the next ship to join her. At sea his captain called him on deck when they drew near to where the family’s vessel sank. Peering into the dark waters that claimed his daughters, Spafford penned the lyric of this beloved hymn.

This is a story Mom and I have told many times. Yet there was a portion I’d never heard before. After Spafford’s wife was rescued on that fateful night, in a rush of unbearable grief, she planned to throw herself back into the waves. In that moment a voice from heaven stopped her with the promise, “You have been saved for a purpose.”

My spirit keyed in on those words. Could it be that I, too, was being saved for a purpose? Most certainly, for that’s how our Lord works. He wastes no experience, and He allows nothing to touch us without eternally destined purpose. Saved for a purpose!

Soon, Mom and I began singing along with the cathedral choir. As we sang, our room became a sanctuary. My nurse started to come in to take my vitals, but she went out silently allowing us a few more sacred moments. Christ’s peace that comforted and soothed our brother and his wife all those years ago, met us on Christmas 2018 in the oncology ward. The Prince of Peace Whose birth we celebrated with a hospital ham dinner delivered by Elf Bridget and eaten beside Charlie Brown’s tree, was no less with us than He had been in years when we’d enjoyed a sumptuous spread among family and friends at Grandma’s dining table.

 

In this very different Christmas season, let’s relish the truth that no matter what, it is well with our souls. Mine. Mom's. And, if you have trusted Christ, it is well with YOUR soul right now. It is well. All is well. All because the Lord Jesus Christ entered our planet as a tiny baby on that silent, holy night. 



Blessings and prayers, 
Julie & Mom

 © 2020, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Treasured friend,

As I was thinking over the Thanksgiving songs we prepared in advance for our senior congregation to enjoy by closed-circuit TV tomorrow, the lyrics of the old classic danced through my mind. Soon, they became a prayer from my heart. My, how relevant is this old lyric to our situation today.

We gather together
To ask the Lord's blessing
(how we wish we could gather!)
He chastens and hastens
His will to make known
(sometimes correction is the most loving gift He can offer)
The wicked oppressing
Now cease from distressing
(please, Lord, we need your intervention!)
Sing praises to His name
He forgets not His own
(oh, what an amazing promise!)

Verse 2
Beside us to guide us
Our God with us joining
(maybe we're not alone after all!)
Ordaining maintaining
His kingdom divine
(we're not home yet!)
So from the beginning
The fight we were winning
Thou Lord wast at our side
All glory be Thine
(the only victory we can gain comes at His hand!)

Verse 3
We all do extol Thee
Thou Leader triumphant
(Oh, yes, that's what the holiday is to do ... thank our Lord!)
And pray that Thou still
Our Defender wilt be
(Please, God, defend us as only You can!)
Let Thy congregation
Escape tribulation
(Oh my, yes, please deliver us from evil!)
Thy name be ever praised
O Lord make us free.
(Free to sing our praise to You, Lord, together, forever!)

I found this a beautiful exercise in making rich lyrics my own. It's something we all can practice, using an old hymn, a psalm, or a contemporary song of substance. I came away encouraged ... and pray you will, as well.


Blessings and prayers, 

Julie 

 © 2020, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Lyrics © Public Domain Eduard Kremser | Theodore Baker

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Teaser from Don't Let This Throw You!

Treasured friend,

I thought possibly you might appreciate a brief excerpt today from Don't Let This Throw You: Last-minute instruction from Christ on thriving in uncertain days. 

So .... here 'tis. Enjoy!!


WHEN LIFE COMES TO MOMENTS

The wall clock struck 1 a.m., as the blue cuff tightened its vice grip around my arm and clacked off its slow, steady decompression. The face of the ER doctor was visible through my partially drawn curtain, and his expression was grave as he spoke on the telephone in hushed tones with our family doctor, whose office we’d visited thirteen hours earlier. Mom and I had heard the preliminary diagnosis (based only on crude x-ray and fuzzy CT scan images) moments before, and although the precise name of my mortal enemy had yet to be determined using an MRI and biopsy, the line that rang in my ears was “These things go south fast; we’re prepared with specialists to do surgery or necessary procedures at a moment’s notice.”

Within hours, a team of nine high-powered physicians and surgeons (some with specialties I’d never heard of) was assembled on my behalf. “You must be important,” one doctor said later. “I just stood at the nurses’ station and no fewer than seven specialists were discussing you!”

The next day, a surgeon would say, “We have ways of getting operating rooms to open up at any time.”

“Even on Christmas?” I’d asked, looking at the calendar and realizing that was a definite possibility.

“Anytime!” was the answer.

So in that ER, knowing my reality had changed and my life might well be brought to moments (yes, I know it always could, but this was a more obvious possibility), my mind raced. I looked over at Mom and started thinking through a list of all the things she needed to know. If only I’d sensed this coming, I’d have prepared something for her. In my shock, I started rattling off instructions.

Passwords, definitely she needed to know my complex and quirky system of passwords for both personal and business-related apps and sites. How to find someone to help with her taxes. How to pump gas. I’d saved her from that task all these years, but if I weren’t here, she’d need to know. Which clients still owed me money and which still paid royalties every year, since she’d be receiving those in my … uh … absence. Which business-related accounts to cancel immediately so she didn’t rack up unnecessary expenses.

We needed to talk with our family lawyer and other advisors. She needed to know where I keep certain documents and to have a plan of how to dispose of my things and pare down hers. She needed direction on how to choose a more manageable place to live for the long-haul. And the list went on and on.

I started talking through these key points with her, as nurses were prepping me for a quick move to the cardiac care unit for an inpatient stay of undetermined length. I glanced at her red-rimmed eyes, and realized Mom looked absolutely overwhelmed. She listened as intently as she could, considering the shock she was experiencing. I’ve always been the one to kick into high gear—stay at sharp attention—in crisis moments. She, though, feels the pain more intensely and immediately. I collapse later. That’s just my way.

My deeper thoughts, which I didn’t share with Mom at the time, centered around how I was going to tell Daddy when I arrived in heaven that I came on ahead, leaving Mom behind all alone—after I’d promised him in that same building just five years earlier that I’d care for her with all my heart and strength. Funny the places your mind goes in a last-minute situation.

LAST-MINUTE PREP

Last-minute thoughts and directions take on an urgency. They distill life down to its most concrete and bare-bones essentials. They have a way of cutting through the fluff and of hitting you in the face with the fact that you just may not be as prepared as you thought you would be for an unforeseen eventuality.

Several years ago, sometime after completing my study of Jesus’ last-hours prayer for His followers in John 17 (which became my book, Praying Like Jesus), I started studying backwards through John’s Gospel—focusing my attention on what happened earlier that evening—on the words Jesus spoke to the remaining eleven disciples before leaving the Upper Room. (Judas had already stolen away to carry out his dastardly errand.)

What He said to the eleven was intense, direct, crucial to their survival. Just like I’d done with Mom, and Dad had done with me, Jesus gave His followers a long list of life-essential, last-minute instructions. It’s those instructions I’d like us to examine together in the pages that follow. They’re worthy of special attention now, in these troubling days, because they give us a roadmap, or to mix my metaphors an instruction manual, on how to live for Christ through the uncertain times that absolutely will come for each of us. Several key lines ring especially true, including this one from the last verse of the passage: “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33 HCSB).

Well there goes the pie-in-the-sky notion that life for the believer in Christ is going to be a first-class flight right up to the pearly gates. Trouble is coming. More to the point, troubles are here. Everywhere around us. Unsettling, doubt-inspiring, world-shattering trials. But they don’t have to shake us to the foundation—not if our foundation is the Lord Who already has (not just will, but has) conquered. Or to express this matter of faith the way the translators of The Message Bible paraphrase put it, “Don’t let this throw you! You trust God, don’t you? Trust Me.” That’s a strong invitation issued by Jesus Himself—

 

Well, friend, you’ll just have to get the book to find out what happens next! I hope and pray I’ve whet your appetite … so that you, too, can become unshakeable the next time life tries to throw you.


Excerpted by permission from Don't Let This Throw You: Last-minute instruction from Christ on thriving in uncertain days by Julie-Allyson Ieron, Joy Media Publishing, August 2020. All rights reserved. For purchasing information visit: http://joymediaservices.com/

Blessings and prayers, 

Julie 

 © 2020, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A Quick View for You

Hello Treasured Friend,


Julie here back with you with a teaser. Here's a link to our video trailer that describes Don't Let This Throw You, which released yesterday in print and e-book editions. Hope this makes you want to know more. At the very least, you may find it entertaining. Especially those snippets of me in my goofy wigs!


When you do ... you can visit us on FB or on our website JoyMediaServices.com for ordering info. 

Thanks!