Tag Archives: God

The Whirlwind

Most of you who have followed my blog at all have realized that my writing has slowed significantly. There are reasons for that. Since the beginning of spring we have been moving at  a non-stop pace and that doesn’t look like it will be slowing down until late fall.

The majority of our spring involved us going to baseball games, high school concerts, and other functions. But the biggest event was the graduation of our eldest son, Alex from high school. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and as a member of the National Honor Society and we couldn’t be more proud. Of course, what’s a graduation without a party? So we planned and prepared and called in the reinforcements. We knew that with Kim’s RD that she could not do any of the food prep, but she didn’t need to. She planned the menu and made lists and more lists about what to buy and where to get it. Her mom and sister came up the day before the party and made all of the food. My mom and several of our friends offered to make desserts and they did. Other friends helped by picking stuff up for us, helping set up, and then staying late to tear everything down and clean up. We are so very grateful to all of them and are blessed beyond measure by the kindness of our family and friends.

Almost immediately we moved onto college plans as Alex will be attending Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois this fall. So continues the planning of scheduling college physicals, filling out more and more paperwork, and providing yet another document needed to the finance office. It’s late June already and in just over two months we will be dropping him off at freshman orientation.

Our other two children, Caleb and Hannah, are keeping us busy as well. Caleb is playing American Legion baseball again this summer which involves several games a week. We try to make as many as we can. Hannah has started summer school as she can do a block health class in 15 days to free up a study hall for her freshman year at the high school. On top of that, both of them are involved in strength and speed camp in the early morning as they prepare for fall sports.

Kim is doing okay with all of this so far. She is doing what she can and listening to her body when it is telling her to stop. She planned ahead for the graduation party by taking off the week of and the week after the party. One to prepare, and one to recover. And she needed the week to recover. Her Rheumatoid Disease has been okay through most of the spring. No major setbacks or flares, but still we know the disease is there and active. She switched from Humira bi-weekly to Enbrel weekly a couple months ago and that has gone smoothly. She was able to eliminate one of her other medications for her RD which is good. She has been going to pain clinic and they had to change her pain medications since her body had developed a tolerance to her old one. Several tweaks in dosage and multiple visits to the pain clinic doctor now have her on a regime that is controlling her pain enough for her to function. This has been a double-edged sword for her this spring. Pain management is good, but we have seen yet again the progression of her disease as the pain limits her from doing some very basic tasks.

We did get some great news about Kim’s health though this spring! Her visit with her pulmonologist was good. Her lung function has not improved, but it didn’t get any worse either. He moved her next appointment off for an entire year!

Currently, the big news for Kim is that her rheumatologist is trying to get her off her prednisone again. She has been on prednisone since her diagnosis in October of 2011. We all know that long term use of prednisone, even at small doses, is not good for her body so we are willing to give it a try. She has tried twice before to taper off without success either time. She gets to a certain dosage and she simply can’t function below that dose. She started her latest taper the week after Alex’s graduation party. Supposedly, a few days of extra pain, stiffness, and swelling are expected until the body regulates itself. Unfortunately, that has not been the case so far. She’s a couple of weeks into the taper now and is still experiencing extra pain, stiffness, and swelling. We also can see and hear a noticeable decrease in her breathing as she tapers down. This is an extremely slow taper (1 mg per month) and so far it is not going well. Hard to tell if it’s just the prednisone or if she’s flaring or exactly what is going on.

The other big news we had this spring is that I have been invited to participate as an exhibitor in the Fine Furnishings Show in Milwaukee this October. The show will be held at the Harley Davidson Museum in downtown Milwaukee. This is something I have always dreamed of doing and it is a fantastic opportunity to show my work not only at a local level, but with national exposure as well. This means of course that I am spending every free moment I have building furniture for the show. I would love to have you follow along on my Facebook page, Neevel’s Fine Woodworking as I make pieces for both shows.

And that is a brief recap of our spring and early summer and our plans into fall. Thankful as always for the many blessings God provides to us. We continue to rest in Him.

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Filed under Blessings, Family, God, Life, RD, Rheum

Just James – Week 5

It is already week five in our mission to memorize the book of James in one year. This week we will be memorizing verses 12 and 13. There is still time to join in with us. In fact one of my friends found out just this past week that we were doing this and she jumped right in and caught up with us in one week! Serious kudos!

In our verses for this week, James revisits suffering which is one of the themes of the book. In verse two, James introduced that suffering would produce steadfastness or patience in the life of the believer. In verse 12 he further explains that for those who remain steadfast to the end there awaits “the crown of life”. This is not to be interpreted as a literal crown, but rather that those who in suffering and trials steadfastly persevere by trusting in the grace of God will receive eternal life. Let me clarify so as not to confuse anyone. Simply persevering through trials and suffering does not earn salvation or eternal life for anyone. Scripture is very clear that there is not one single thing we can do to save ourselves. It is by grace alone through faith alone. What the trials instead show us and what verse 12 is making clear is that persevering in trials and suffering is an evidence of who we are in Christ.

There are some who erroneously teach that when you become a Christian that your life will be all sunshine and roses. That is not what Scripture teaches. In fact James is quite clear that all of us will face suffering. He offers exclusions to no one. So if suffering does not earn us Salvation and we cannot avoid it, what purpose does it serve? I’m glad you asked. Suffering is not about us. Suffering is about us drawing closer to God. In trials God teaches us to become less dependent upon ourselves and instead to rely more upon Him. Those who suffer faithfully are drawn in their suffering to a deeper and closer relationship with Christ. It is in the stripping away of our own self-dependency and pride that we recognize and see God for who He is. As we lean further into Christ and become more dependent on Him and what He has done we are further united with Christ in His death and resurrection. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” How do we become pure? By exchanging our sins for His righteousness. What is the end result of us being considered pure? That we will see God face to face. The great promise and blessing given by God to those who follow Him that He will makes His face to shine upon us.

Verse 13 is loaded with tons of theological implications. So if suffering comes from God, does temptation come from God also? James is very clear that the answer is a resounding, “No!” God is holy. He cannot tolerate sin. Therefore, when we are tempted to sin it does not come from God. Next week, we will learn in verse 14 more about where sin comes from.

If there are any questions or if anyone feels like I may have gotten something not quite right, please comment below.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
(James 1:12-13 ESV)

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Filed under God, James, Scripture Memory, Theology

Just James – Week 4

Time almost always seems to fly by, but this commitment to memorize the book of James seems to accelerate it somehow! A new week begins and I feel like I’m not quite as comfortable with last weeks verses as I would like and it’s already time to start on the next verses. Which is a long way for me to state that I’m doing OK with the memorization, but I need to work at it little more in order to feel comfortable with how well I know my verses!

This week we will be memorizing James 1:9-11. In this passage, James exhorts the poor and the rich at the same time though his commands to them are different. The lowly brother, or poor, is to “boast in his exaltation”. While the rich should boast in their humiliation. The remainder of verses 10 and 11 go on to address the frailty of life and how eventually all things temporal will fade away.

The ESV Study Bible’s notes were extremely helpful in understanding the instruction that James gives to the poor and the rich. I’m going to quote it here.  Both poverty and riches bring enormous pressure on a person to focus on the world rather than on Christ. Thus James exhorts the poor to boast (or glory) in their high status in Christ. The lowly brother will be exalted or vindicated by God. In contrast, James exhorts the rich to boast in their humiliation, (1) by realizing that their wealth is temporary and that it brings them no advantage before God, and (2) by identifying with the poor in their affliction. The church is to be a “countercultural” community, which reverses the values of the world (cf. 2:2–4). Given the context, James seems to be saying that the challenges of poverty and wealth may be one of the greatest “trials” for Christians, as would be suggested by his immediate emphasis (see 1:12) on the “blessed” status of those who remain “steadfast under trial.” James also echoes Jesus’ warning that “You cannot serve God and money”. I especially like the part that whether poor or rich that one of greatest trials may lie in reversing the values of the world. And isn’t that one of our great struggles? For those who have nothing to fight the urge to have more, and for those who are rich to recognize that their wealth ultimately means nothing. That for both individuals the struggles focuses on rejecting what the world values and instead focusing on God.

Verses 10 and 11 call to mind several other passages of Scripture that speak of how quickly life passes. Job 14:2, Psalm 103:15-16, and Isaiah 40:6-7. Of course it also reminds me of the passage yet to come in James where he states that life is but a mist or a vapor that passes quickly.

It’s still not too late to join in if you would like to. You could catch up in few weeks. If you are on the fence at all on whether to participate or not, I would encourage you to give it a try. Already I have realized the benefit of doing this as the commitment to memorizing has placed these verses front and center in my mind. That in turn has caused me to meditate on them throughout the day. At random times throughout the day a phrase or a verse will come to mind and I think on the words and try to gain a better understanding of how these verses apply to my life. All while washing dishes or cooking supper! Here are our verses for this week.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

(James 1:9-11 ESV)

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Filed under God, James, Scripture Memory