Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just Believe

In Mark 5:36 Jesus tells a ruler of the synagogue, Jairus, to "Just Believe" when Jairus thinks that his daughter has just died.

"Jesus told the synagogue ruler, 'Don't be afraid; just believe'."

Just Believe...

As I wrote previously, the last couple of weeks haven't been so hot.  I kept trying to focus on Jesus and not the storm but it was very difficult.  Every time I tried to read, pray or think my brain would do a flip-flop and jolt me away from coherent thoughts.  Don't take this the wrong way, but it's honestly like trying to study for a test or drive or do some other task that requires thinking while being drunk.  I don't know how else to describe how my brain is working these days.  And I kicked the awful medicine over a month ago.  I'm only taking 2 non-narcotic, very mild prescriptions every day... so I'm not "under the influence" of anything.  Anyway... that's what it feels like. 

So, maybe you can better understand how when I have bad days it's nearly impossible to not think about my condition.  If you've ever had a toothache or backache or earache you know how hard it is to focus on anything but the pain.  I kinda feel the same way.  I'm not just wallowing in the pity of my condition; I truly cannot think straight without my brain going mushy.

I was recently journaling and reading and came across this story of Jairus.  I've read it before but Jesus' words, "Just Believe" resonated.  I was going through my frustrations and failings that I couldn't do much for Him and He assured me that all I have to do is believe.  That's it.  I don't have to try and be fancy.  I don't have to run out and serve people when I have a mush brain.  I don't have to act like I'm ok or that I'm not angry sometimes.  I don't have to be super-wife or mom.  I don't have to get all the answers and have His roadmap for when this will all end.  My role is quite simple, "Just Believe."  What a relief.  In the midst of my mush-brain I can still do that... believe.

Here's how I envision my conversations with Jesus some days:
Me: Today I feel terrible and want to cry all day.
Jesus:  Just Believe
Me:  I don't feel like worshipping and praying.
Jesus:  Just Believe
Me:  My suffering and frustration run too deep to have any joy.
Jesus:  Just Believe
Me: I thought you were going to do great things through this trial.
Jesus:  Just Believe
Me: My husband and kids need me and I can't even care for them.  I'm really mad!
Jesus:  Just Believe
Me: Modern medicine says there's no cure for Meniere's disease.
Jesus:  Just Believe

Beau lost his 7th tooth this week.  He was pumped.  He's so fortunate... he always has these low-drama-teeth-falling-out-while-he's-eating moments.  Lydia's always have to be pulled and always come with loads of unnecessary (in my opinion) drama and blood.  Anyway, that night Beau got ready for the tooth fairy and I just thought, how can they believe in this?  Can they seriously think some little fairy flies into their room and collects their teeth and leaves them money?  There are so many problems with this: 1) how can one fairy visit so many kids in one night (kinda like Santa) 2) why would we let a creepy fairy into our house 3) how can a teeny fairy cart off a tooth 4) what does she do with all those nasty teeth 5) how does she happen to have all those quarters/dollars/candy on hand 6) why do some kids get WAY more than $1 per tooth, including candy, treats and other kinds of goodies? There are more issues I'm sure, but you get the picture.

But a child doesn't think through all of these issues.  He just believes.  Believing is the most simple act.  It's when we start to ask questions and apply logic that it gets complicated and difficult.  Believing is so much easier.  As Christians we have to "just believe" - think Jonah, Noah, every part of Jesus' ministry... it's like we can accept those things but when it gets personal we try and complicate it.

How does it end for Jairus?  Read Mark 5:37-42
37 He [Jesus] did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

I believe that I will be healed.  I believe that I will be restored, will be able to serve and function again.  I do.  But I certainly get side-tracked with my what-if's? and hows?  and I-don't-want-tos. But Jesus says don't worry about all that... Just Believe!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stormy Seas

Matthew 14: 27-33
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I was reading this familiar story last night and something hit me.  I cannot take my eyes off of Jesus when the storm starts to blow.  I'm sure you're thinking "Duh! you didn't know that Nicole?"  And I do know that, but I just can't seem to put it into practice.

I know most of you can't keep up with how I'm doing.  I never know from day-to-day.  I try not to just write on and on and on about the bad days and how I still have them quite often.  So, I usually just omit most of that stuff.  I'll tell you, last week was not good.  I felt awful again.  I couldn't even sleep - there was no escape from the roller coaster.  If I wasn't lying awake in bed rocking back and forth then I was dreaming I was on a carnival ride, cruise ship and even a homemade airplane one fitful night.

The last week or so my brain has felt like it was trying to push out through the top and sides of my skull.  There is so much pressure and it just keeps me rocking.  I did feel well enough to go walking yesterday and I had to be very deliberate about my steps.  I kept veering off to the right and had to focus intently to keep myself walking a straight line.  I'm glad you can't get a WUI (walking under the influence) because I surely would have been stopped had an officer seen me walking along.

So, the storm keeps raging on all around me.  It comes and goes... sometimes its a tropical depression, sometimes it's a Category 3 hurricane.  And I hate to admit but on the days when I just feel bad, like I don't want to do anything I catch myself looking at the storm and not keeping my eyes fixed steady on Jesus... and then I sink.  And for me, it's an emotional sinking.  I lose heart and lose drive.  I can say that I never, ever give up hope that He's working in me.  Deep down I always still believe that.  But I let the wind and waves obstruct my vision and clarity.  And I don't know the answer.  But I will keep trying. 

Now I know that this is such a struggle (now that it has hit me between the eyes) I can at least work harder against it.  I can sing, pray and read more on those days - even though those are the last things I want to do.  I can visualize myself on the waves (and since I usually feel that I'm on some unsteady surface that's easy) and look through the storm and stay intent on the face of Jesus.  It's like when I go out to give our dog, Gator, a Milk Bone and he knows I have it in my hand he will not budge.  He won't look to the left, right, up, down.  The kids can come out and play and he will not move.  He's afraid if he acknowledges the distractions then he will miss out on his Milk Bone.  Nothing can make that dog change his gaze because he wants the treat, the reward, that badly.  That's the same deliberation I need to have during the storms and distractions, on the bad days.  I've got to look to my Master and forget the things going on around me.

If only the things God revealed to us were easy to put into action.  But then we would never become more like Christ if life was easy and we would not cherish the good days without the bad.

I'm in my 10th month of "refinement." I will be at my Mayo Clinic appointment on my Meniere's one-year anniversary... whoopee!  As of right now, we'll be flying out on October 11th.  I have appointments on Friday, Monday and Tuesday and we'll fly home that afternoon, the 16th.  Jonathan has been telling me how badly he wants the two of us to get away together.  He told me a few weeks ago I could pick the place.  Guess what honey?  We're going to Rochester, Minnesota!  We will have the weekend to ourselves so I'm looking for something low-key yet fun to do.  We'll be about an hour from Minneapolis so I'm sure we can find something.

Thank you for still praying.  I feel your prayers.  Even though I have bad days I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and purpose in all of this.

I'll close with two little nuggets that I got from my 6-year-old son this week:
1) Two nights ago, I put Beau in the shower and went to get washed up for bed myself. I went back to get him out and he was dancing around with his hair bone dry (he should have been ready to get out). I was exhausted so this jumped all over me.
Me (furiously and exasperated): "What on earth have you been doing in here?!"
Beau: "beats me"

My first nugget: I don't want to give God an answer like that when He asks what I've been doing with this training time and the resources He has given me.

2) Last night the kids and I were upstairs kneeling at the bed ready to pray when Beau heard Jonathan walking up the stairs.  He said, "Daddy's coming!"

My second nugget: Jesus will return.  How joyful it would be for him to find me on my knees when He comes!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mayo Appointment Scheduled & Other Stuff

Great News!  We heard from Mayo.  My appointments (3 days worth) will be in mid-October.  We are working on arrangements now and I will definitely give an update when we've firmed up everything.  It's amazing how this "clinic" works.  I have a total of 7 different appointments/assessments/tests over the 3 day period.  My friend asked me how I feel about it all and I'm mostly very thankful - VERY thankful.  Of course I'm also a little nervous (not worried or scared) just nervous about the rigorous schedule, traveling and the tests I'll go through.

My friend sent me this scripture:
"The steps of a good man (or woman) are ordered by the Lord..." ---Psalm 37:23

That verse gives me comfort about the trip and the appointments and everything that will take place during and the outcome of the visit.  I will definitely update again soon when we get things ironed out and give you much more detail about the whole process.

Some even more great news!  In the past week I have been grocery shopping, out to lunch, to Jackson and to church today (BIG DEAL)! 

Going to Church!
AND I even DROVE the kids and me to the park and to Orange Leaf this week.  WOW WOW WOW!!!!  I have been praising God for every one of these milestones.

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.  For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  ---Psalm 57:9-10

I took a "balance test" at St. Francis on Wednesday afternoon.  I ACED it!!!  :^)  They tested me using a pretty high-tech machine that simulates motion and movement; it made the floor move under me, it made the walls of the machine move around me... all the while I had to stay as still as possible.  I scored much higher than peers in my age group.  I chalk this up to two things: 1) the power and might of God and the healing He is doing in me 2) my therapist, Summer, who has worked me these last 4 months doing exactly what I needed to so I could straighten my balance (and I know that Summer gifted God and sent me to her)!  I probably would have fallen over numerous times had I taken the test 4 months ago before I started vestibular rehab therapy (VRT).

I will praise you forever for what you have done.  ---Psalm 53:9

Summer is over.  The Summer of 2012 that I was dreading just a few months ago.  It has been the most fun, fulfilling summer that I can remember.  The kids and I spent so much quality time together.  I am going to miss them terribly when they are not here with me.  I'm a little melancholy tonight as I write.  First grade tomorrow.  I cannot believe it.  I blinked and 6 years went by.  sigh...

I am praying for the teachers, administrators and other school workers in my circle of friends and loved ones... and for some outside my circle.  For the next 9 months these people will spend almost as much time with my kids as I do so I believe that covering them in prayer is vital.  I spent time in Beau & Lydia's Kindergarten class last year and have seen first-hand just a teeny-tiny glimpse of what a teacher endures in a day (love you Mrs. Parks!) and I cannot fathom how they do it.  I am amazed and humbled by their calling.  To all you teachers, administrators and school personnel (active and retired) thank you for using your skills, talents and love to impact the lives of our future generation.

Keep on keeping on for rejoicing comes in the morning!!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.  Psalm 34:1

I love music.  I'm moved by it and find power in words and melodies.  I don't sing well but I still do it at the top of my lungs.  I often am inspired or convicted by certain songs.  One of my favorites is "Legacy" by Nichole Nordeman.  It's old - I think it came out in 2006, but the words are powerful and her voice is beautiful.  Here's a link to a YouTube video with the music and lyrics:

Here are just the lyrics if you don't want to listen (although you should, it's beautiful):

Legacy by Nichole Nordeman
I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...
I often think of parents and kids when I hear the word legacy.  But leaving a legacy doesn't just apply to parents.  It applies to all of us and extends beyond the impact we have on our families.  If someone surveyed people in your life and asked for three words to describe you, what would people say?
Sweet, kind, patient, happy, honest, hard-working, faithful, friendly, a great mom/dad/daughter/son/wife/husband...

All of those are worthy attributes and we should strive to be those things.  Would anyone describe you as a woman or man of God?  A prayer warrior?  A humble servant?  Someone who "blesses God's name apologetically"?

What kind of mark do you want to leave?  After watching 2 weeks of the Olympics, so many athletes in interviews say they want to be remembered as the best in their sport.  And they leave their marks... for a while.  But the marks they leave do not impact eternity.  Not that their goals and achievements aren't special or important and some of them do use their athletic abilities as a platform to share Jesus.  But by the next Olympics (or maybe the one after) only a small percentage are still talked about or still competing.  The gold, silver and bronze "trinkets" they received will one day get lost, boxed up or fade away somehow.

Ever since I've been a member of North Monroe Baptist, I can think of a humble servant who has rocked bed babies week after week, year after year.  She is the sweetest, quietest, humblest lady and she consistently and faithfully rocks those babies.  She's rocked mine and she's rocked countless others.  It's not a glamorous role, it's not one that most people clamor to have, it doesn't bring her notoriety... but it has allowed hundreds of parents over the years to be able to attend church activities.  She is leaving her legacy on so many families; I'm sure she has no idea the impact she has.

We don't have to speak to stadiums or win Olympic medals to leave a legacy... we have to use the gifts God has given us faithfully and joyfully.

I feel so convicted to do more with my time here than just survive and keep doing what I'm doing.  I want people to call me a woman of God, someone who blessed his name "apologetically."  Every challenge we face, every bad day we have, every obstacle, every hurt - all chances to affect our legacies.  If you're in the valley now, make a choice.  Choose to discover how God wants to use your current pain to impact someone else for His glory.  This life is short and we only have one chance.  If you're faithfully serving, know that God IS using you for His kingdom.  You may not always feel like it, but if you are faithful to Him and the call on your life, then you are right where He wants you.

Now for the dizziness update and a new prayer request...
I went to the new ENT in town today b/c I'm having recurring sinus pressure in my cheeks and head.  I do have some swelling so I am back on antibiotics for 2 weeks.  I also discussed my frequent migraines with him.  He speculated that I MAY have vestibular migraines... these migraines affect the guess what?  VESTIBULAR nerve.  You know, the one that controls the body's balance function.  He is trying me on a medication to see if it helps with my migraines AND my dizziness.  I feel very torn.  I am excited that there may be a stone we have not overturned but I'm VERY apprehensive about taking new medicine.  I have been off of the other "dizzy-medicine" (as I call it) for two and a half weeks.  I've been overjoyed to not be taking meds for my dizziness and now he's wanting me to try new meds.  This one isn't so much for the dizziness as it is to control the blood vessels around my vestibular nerve.  It shouldn't drug me up or sedate my brain like the other one but I'm still wary.  Anyway, please pray that if this is not the right direction I will know immediately and quit taking the medicine.

As always, thank you for the prayers, love, calls, texts, cards, messages... they mean more than you could ever know!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Journal Entries

As a Human Resources Professional, a common saying in my career has been “Document, document, document!”  It’s a well-known catch-phrase in the HR community.  In order to accurately review an employee’s history and performance, we rely on the written record to help us.  In any type of employment case, it’s the first thing attorneys ask for… “the file.”

It’s a great practice to have in life too.  I had always felt an urge to start a journal but until last fall, resisted.  God convicted me to the point of action and my journal’s first entry was on 9/19/11… less than a month before my Meniere’s Disease.  It was great timing because I have this “furnace of affliction” season documented from the very beginning.  I was reading through old journal entries today and wanted to share a few that I wrote along the way (these are small excerpts from my writings).  Months and months later the things I wrote are just as convicting and compelling to me as they were back then…

December 28, 2012
Psalm 46:10 - "Be still & know that I am God..."  I am still deep in the battle on my Meniere's.  I may never know why but I need to know what... to do... What does God want to teach me through it?  I will not be defeated.  I will not allow this condition to ruin my life, my family, my walk, my witness.  And it is going to be a daily fight.

January 22, 2012
I wonder if God wants me to blog about Meniere's - can he use my story to bring hope to others - hope where there doesn't seem to be much.  There is so much negative info on the web - perhaps God could use my situation to encourage others & REVEAL HIS GLORY!  Lord, please give me confirmation, affirmation, courage to do this - I do not want to undertake something that will not honor you or that you don't support.  God, give me the direction to take with this.
(I thought it was neat to include this one since anyone reading now obvioulsy knows that I did follow through on this - although it took a few months!)

January 29, 2012
In the turning points of my life – my darkest hours – He has ALWAYS been faithful to do even a greater work than what I could imagine.  Through the pain of moving to Monroe He has given me powerful friendships & an amazing community to raise my kids.  Through infertility He has given me two perfect children.  Through Meniere’s Disease, He has given me _____________. (I can’t wait to fill in the blank!)  Because of who God is, His love for me, His promise of grace, His proven track-record, I know that this illness will not beat me & that in fact it will make me stronger.  I know this hurt has already passed through God’s hands & He will use it in a mighty way.

March 21, 2012
At this point I am not a fully-functional:
wife, mom, employee, servant, member of society, friend
The only thing I can fully do these days is worship – spend time with God.  I am very thankful for this opportunity.  Without this illness, I would not be in the word or talking nearly as often with my Father.  He is revealing Himself to me.

April 2, 2012
Mom came over & asked how I was… the floodgates opened & I cried & cried.  Then mom said something very wise – maybe I should stop praying as much for healing, but should pray more for God to help me to cope with the condition of my body --- the more I think about that the more it makes sense.  That’s exactly the place Paul was in 2 Corinth. 12:7-10.  If I can function every day with Meniere’s – if God gives me His power to do it, then my testimony is much stronger.  I can tell people I have a life-altering disease that I live with daily & they’ll say How?! – And I can give glory to God through it.
(Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ---2 Corinthians 12:7-10) 

May 2, 2012
Still waiting for my miracle! I know I’m at this place of complete brokenness so that there is NO question that God is responsible when healing comes.  I truly believe with all my heart that I could wake up tomorrow fully restored – no pressure, no attacks, no dizziness, swimming, fog, anxiety or fear.  I believe that with all my heart.  I really feel when God calls me out of the wilderness it will be to complete restoration.  I know these days won’t last forever.

May 13, 2012
Brokenness – For when I am weak, then I am strong.  I realize that in my moments of weakness, I have to really ask for God’s strength.  I can’t just sit & ask for healing or wallow in how bad I feel.  I have to turn how bad I feel into an opportunity to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  It’s when I’m empty & weak that the spirit has room to move in.

July 23, 2012
The kids have been angels the last few days – playing & minding.  I am so blessed.  Last nite the kids were watching TV & I was reading my bible.  Beau said, “Will you read me the story of Adam & Eve?”  We turned off the TV & read – THAT moment makes life worth it!  J

August 3, 2012
As we wind down this summer & look ahead to school, I am so grateful for this slower pace we've enjoyed.  It's given me a chance to believe that we don't have to live in the "fast lane" to have a full life - a lesson for which I am extremely grateful.

There will be more entries, more notes, feelings, prayers, cries.  I am so glad for God’s direction to begin writing.  It is such a help to see where I’ve been and to hear my own thoughts about where I’m going!  We all have seasons in life that lead us deeper into times of study and worship.  We all have seasons that we feel peace and contentment.  We all have (or will have) seasons that place us in the wilderness, searching to find our God who loves us and will restore us.  What an awesome opportunity “document, document, document” gives us to go back and see the tracks of our past and record our hopes for the future. 

A praise... my ENT doctor who left the area a few months back has a replacement doc.  He is an ENT medical doctor AND has his Ph.D. in Vestibular Neuroscience (he specializes in the evaluation of patients with dizziness and equilibrium issues).  I have an appointment in a couple of weeks to meet him and establish me as a patient with him!

Thank you all for your continued love and support.  It is so amazing to hear back from you and to get all of your love and encouragement.  It is one of the things that I thank God for specifically.   

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer Vacation 2012

WOW!  Prior to last week, I had not spent a night away from this house in over a year.  Talk about feeling couped up!  But now we're home and settling back in from a wonderful and unique summer vacation. This is the first summer in my entire life (well, since we moved to FL when I was 5) that I have not been to the beach.  At first I was extremely bummed, but now I am looking forward to future summers spent seeing other parts of the country.  Having been and gone away for a few days I realize that I would not have been able to take the stress, heat and exhaustion of the beach.  God always knows what he's doing and he has a great way of opening our minds and hearts up to new opportunities!

This year we ended up in Heber Springs, AR.  It's about an hour north of Little Rock at the foot of Round Mountain; population 7196.  Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River are there.

Before we left, we were a little worried that we may not have enough to do there and that we may get a little cabin fever.  That was far from the case.  It was great for the kids to see a different part of the world too!  Here are a few highlights and pics from our trip:

We saw deer outside the house every day/evening:

We found a "beach" on Greers Ferry Lake (a 40,000 acre lake)...

We found a playground...

We found a fair...

Lydia got the pedi she's been waiting for all summer...

My vestibular function (vertigo) was tested to the limit (yes, I took all of these MYSELF!):

That's "Little Red River" running through WAAAAAAAY down below (look hard)

As you can see, we were far from bored.  It was awesome!  If you ever decide to head to Arkansas for a vacation, keep reading.

Some things you should know about Arkansas:
1) They serve "Slushies" not "Icees".  Blue-slushie-tongues:

2) They serve Pepsi not Coke (which is really un-American)
3) "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" is merely a suggestion.  Look closely in the background of this picture.  That is a hairy dude at a YOGURT TOPPING BAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In spite of the yogurt bar incident, I am so thankful for a great trip!

A few updates on life with Meniere's:
  • The doctor at Mayo called (almost 2 weeks ago) and said we should hear something within  2 weeks (so that window has passed) about an appointment.  He speculated we would get up there sometime at the end of September or early October.  Jonathan will follow-up with him this week.
  • I have been completely off ALL dizzy meds for TEN DAYS!  This is a BIG DEAL!  The greatest part is that during this time I've had some phenomenal days of functioning almost normally.  I have been working really hard on my vestibular rehab while being off the meds so that I can get that nerve as strong as possible.
  • Yesterday and today I have taken a few steps back from where I was last week.  I am a little bummed b/c I really thought I had turned a corner.  But I know I have to keep perspective and a) be SO thankful that my best days of the summer were during vacation and b) know that it's been a long, hard road and that a few setbacks during recovery is reasonable.
Please PRAY that the breakthrough days I had last week will continue. 
Please PRAY that yesterday and today are just minor bumps in the road and that my forward progress will keep going. 
Please PRAY that I will not have to take any more of this medicine for a VERY LONG time (if ever again).
Please PRAY that God will continue to work out details of the Mayo trip. 
Please PRAY that as God continues His work in me that I will be willing to continue to wait on Him, that I will not get frustrated with setbacks and that I will continue to trust completely in His timing.  A good friend reminded me today that:

"...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  ---Philippians 1:6