The Last Resort, by Beth Fowler

Please welcome my friend, and one of the fabulous leaders from my writing group, Beth Fowler! Her story fascinates me, and I know you will be blessed by reading it. She is writing in response to my question, "Who is Jesus to you?" as part of the Who is Jesus series.  
Who was Jesus to me? He was a storybook character like Santa Claus and Prince Charming.
I went to Sunday school and endured goofy flannel-board stories narrated by ladies that seemed very old to me. At age 12, I quit going to Sunday school and church. My parents didn’t question why. Faith was never discussed in our house. You went to school on weekdays, the YMCA on Saturday and church on Sunday. Now my Sundays were free!
Decades passed. My life looked perfect. In reality, many mornings I woke up angry, but didn’t know why. Time slogged by as I guzzled alcohol, studied Buddhism, attended Avatar (not the movie, but a thought system), consumed legal and illegal drugs, used sarcasm, babbled to a psychologist, left my husband temporarily, babbled to another psychologist, yadda, yadda, yadda…I’ve broken every one of the 10 commandments.
Once in a while, I visited churches where phrases like “covered in the blood of the lamb” and sad lyrics of hymns remained indecipherable to me. My super-religious relatives (by marriage) refuse to visit us for Thanksgiving dinner if we serve wine. If that’s Christianity, I didn’t want any.
Even so, I knew there is a god and was so in awe of him or her or it that when people asked, “What are you?” I squirmed. Atheist was too final. Agnostic seemed dodgy. Buddhist didn’t fit either.
Meanwhile, a clot of grief throbbed near my heart, as though someone I loved had died. I worried that my black thoughts were radiating from me like poison. I was afraid my rotten inner world would give me cancer. Nothing I’d tried changed me. By the time I reached middle age, I dreaded trudging through the rest of my life if the future was going to be more of the same.
Then, six years ago, a Christian friend told me about an Alpha class at her church.
You see, Nicky Gumbel was a barrister (Brit for lawyer). One day Nicky’s buddy told him he'd accepted Jesus as his savior. Appalled, Nicky studied the Bible and other sources to be able to prove his friend wrong.
As you can guess, Nicky found evidence and corroboration. He became a believer, an ordained priest and presenter in the Alpha DVD series.
Nicky is the first person to explain Bible stuff in a way that made sense to me. Plus, he cited other corroborative sources. (It doesn't hurt that he's cute, funny, articulate and smart.)
After the first Alpha class, I wrote in my journal: "I believe Jesus was more than a man. I accept He is the Son of God. This acknowledgment has lifted my heavy, dark, judgmental cloud. The weight that lifted was from my futile effort to ignore and disregard the two billion-plus Christians living today and the 2000-plus years of Christian tradition."
My husband was blindsided when I crossed the line of faith. He said, “I’m worried about the consequences.”  He was afraid I would become like his religious kin and start talking in an odd accent about Hittites and begin laying down ultimatums.
 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV) My new heart is beating, and Holy Spirit rewired my mind.

Who is Jesus to me? He’s my life saver. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

(In honor of one of Jase's favorite shows these days!)

Burger King and a Divine Appointment, Part 2

After my awful nights sleep at the camp with my girlfriends, Chuck picked me up. As we were driving to my parent’s house, where our kids were staying, I was starving. I needed to eat. We saw an exit approaching where I knew one of my best friend’s lived. I asked Chuck if I should even bother calling since it was so last minute. He encouraged me to just try, and we got off the highway. Katie picked up right away. We exchanged small talk for a couple seconds and then I asked her where she was. When I told her my location, she exclaimed, “Are you serious?!” Turns out, she was about to drive right by the Burger King where we had parked. She then told me to look over at the stop light, and I saw her car!

She had her oldest son with her, and her Mom, who I hadn’t seen in quite a long time. We all got out of our cars and joyfully embraced each other. It was a sweet reunion. The first thing Mrs. Dimler (Katie’s Mom) shared was how God had miraculously provided for her and her husband with a house. (That is an amazing story, but for another day!) What happened with her house got me thinking about a different story. So after we all sat down with our food, I asked Mrs. Dimler to share the story of how God healed her heart. (Sorry, another amazing story for another day!) I will say, Chuck and I listened intently, just mesmerized by the way she talked about Jesus. There was a smittenness (yes, I said smittenness) in her voice. Joy on her face. She sounded and looked so in love with Jesus. She kept talking about how good He is.

After she finished telling her heart story, she shared about another physical issue she’d been having. I had to keep myself from gasping out loud because- get this- it was the SAME issue I have been dealing with for the past year. I sat there stunned. And in tears. I could sense The Spirit at work in a powerful way, and I knew Chuck was feeling it, too. I reached over and we grasped hands.
Through tears, I finally blurted out that I’d been having the same physical issue. Mrs. Dimler spoke such a powerful word over me. She reminded me of the necessity of Scripture, but added how I needed to claim those words, not just speak them. She encouraged me to own the words, and believe the words. One thing that particularly struck me was when she recited 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind”. Then she said, “So if God did not give us the spirit of fear, then where did it come from? The enemy!” To which she promptly proclaimed, “Go back to the abyss you came from, Satan! In Jesus Name!” Can I get a Hallelujah?!

The Truth that God gives me the spirit of a sound mind both refreshes and relieves my spirit in a way I haven’t experienced with this Scripture ever before. Since I struggle with anxiety so heavily, my mind is constantly waging war against me. I love the fresh wind of hope that Paul proclaims in 2 Timothy. I proclaim the Spirit of a sound mind, and I proclaim it over you, friend- if you’re reading this and struggle with similar issues.

Later in the conversation, Mrs. Dimler expressed how important it was to be off of caffeine completely with the physical issues we struggle with. When Mrs. Dimler said that, it was like I heard an answer from God. Stop drinking caffeine. (I was sitting there drinking a black iced tea!) My caffeine intake has been heavy since my Starbucks years- who I fully blame for my addiction. I am a coffee lover. I am an iced tea lover. I have always drank both daily, but that day, I dumped out my iced tea and haven’t had any caffeine since. Two days later, I stopped the medication I had been on for almost two years. One week later, I was pain free.

That was about a month ago, and I’ve been pain free ever since.

I followed up with my doctor a couple weeks ago. She was amazed the pain was suddenly gone, but attributes it to me giving up caffeine. God may have used the lack of caffeine to bring healing, or maybe He just healed me! He certainly healed me from a spiritual sense. I rest on His promises. I find peace in His Truth. I claim His power. I claim His spirit of love and a sound mind.

He gave me a Divine Appointment with a strong woman in the faith, and the Great Physician worked me over.

Technical Difficulties

Thanks so much for checking in, you regular Tuesday readers! The blog post for today, Burger King and a Divine Appointment- Part 2, is ready and waiting in a Word Document. Unfortunately, Word is acting up, so I need to wait for my Technical Assistant to help me. Will work to get the post up ASAP! Thanks for your patience!

Burger King and a Divine Appointment, Part 1

I definitely believe in miracles. I believe in divine appointments. I believe Jesus heals. Stories of this type of power show up in the Bible over and over, but I’ve also got stories of my own. My own two children are examples of miracles and healing. But, today I want to share about a very recent divine appointment.

Let me start by sharing the backstory. For about a year now, I’ve been struggling with a physical issue. I’ve been to the ER over this particular issue, have seen a couple different doctors, and even had tests done. Everything “serious” had been ruled out, but no one could tell me why I was having this constant pain. At certain points I was able to shrug it off, and deal with the pain. But most of the time, I was under constant attack with anxiety. What was causing the pain? What if it’s serious, but the doctors missed something? What should I do about it? I’d wake up in the night worried about it. I’d be getting the kids dressed, feel a sharp pain, and start to worry some more. I’d hear about someone else’s diagnosis, and worry about myself. Worry, worry, and worry some more.

It got to the point where I would weep with Chuck while he prayed for healing over me. One particular night, as he was praying over me, I felt a warmth come over my body. Later as I was getting ready for bed, I realized the pain was gone. It was a true miracle because I hadn’t been pain-free in months. Chuck and I cried together and praised Jesus for His healing. We were consumed with joy and awe and worshipped our Healer together. I had a peaceful, pain-free night of rest, but by the next day the pain started to come back. I have to admit, I was discouraged. I couldn’t figure out why God would take my pain away for such a short time.

A couple weeks later, I shared with Chuck how I was still consumed with anxiety over this issue and he prayed over me again. I wept and wept, and we both cried out to God for answers. For help.
Shortly after that time of prayer together, several of my girlfriends from college and I met up at a camp in Northeastern PA. We had a sweet time of sharing, talking, laughing, eating, and more talking. As I began mentioning my pain to them, they helped me realize the medication I had been on for almost 2 years might be causing it. That night at the camp, I woke consumed with terror over my pain and what might be causing it. I was so afraid, I tossed and turned in my bed for a couple hours. I felt sick to my stomach.

Hear me out. I’m not a woman unfamiliar with all the fear, worry, and anxiety verses. I know a lot of those verses by heart. I recite Scripture in my mind, and out loud. I sing worship music in my head. I pray- a lot. But this particular anxiety felt immovable. I was shaken, almost to my core. I had a hard time being joyful. I had a hard time being at peace. I just couldn’t get over this one. I was under serious attack.... (Stay Tuned for Part 2 next Tuesday.)

Winner Winner!!

OK friends, this Give Away ended up being so good for my heart. Ah! I was feeling pretty down about blogging over the weekend, and headed to the grocery store. What better way to cheer a person up than to grocery shop, right?! Yuck. Anyway, when I was done I checked my email and saw a bunch of comments for the Give Away. It just got me so excited to read what you all had to share. I loved it! And now I have some renewed direction and fresh ideas for writing in 2017.

Thank you- thank you- thank you for reading, commenting, and being apart of the Full of Joy adventure! I am really happy to announce the winner of the Dunkin Donuts gift card. We are in the full swing of the holiday spirit around here (Thank goodness Halloween is finally over. The last thing I need in my life is a holiday wrapped around fear, gore, horror, skulls, and creepiness. My thighs don't need the chocolate either.), so I had a little elf help me with the drawing.

Congratulations Leigh! Your Dunkin card is on the way! Thanks so much to everyone for playing along.

Thankfulness and Some Dunkin

Today marks 1 year since the official re-launch of the blog. (You can check out that initial post here.) Even though I've been blogging for years, this past year has been the most significant. Writing weekly has helped to grow me as a writer, but something else happened unexpectedly. I grew closer to Jesus. He gave me a vision for this thing, and He has been faithful to pour into me. The more I write, the more I hear from Him, and the closer we become. I'm so thankful for Jesus. I'm thankful for you readers! I'm thankful for my beautiful friends who have stepped up with me this past year as guest bloggers, and poured their hearts out. honor of this milestone, I am hosting a GIVE AWAY!

Even though Starbucks is my true love, frugality won the battle, and I have chose Dunkin Donuts as the prize! (With a Starbucks gift card, you can get like 1 1/2 drinks. With Dunkin you can get like 10!)

***To enter to win a Dunkin Donuts gift card, please post a comment on the blog stating what topic you would enjoy reading about on here. Winner will be chosen and announced next Monday, November 7. (Sorry, U.S. residents only.)

Thank you all for following along- I love you for it!

Almost Time to Celebrate!

Thank you for checking in, you Tuesday regulars! Stay tuned- on Thursday there will be a special post, and a little celebration! See you then!