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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It is 2am. I returned from the hospital around 11:00 and I came back to check emails. To get my dose of strength for all of you. A close friend wrote me and said she loved the entry in the blog from today. She said those were God's words.

I wrote her back and said I wrote that blog at the hospital. I never wrote more then a couple of minutes at a time and to tell the truth I had lost track of what I was trying to say so many times I thought about not posting the blog. I came home around 5 to check on Anthony and decided to post it anyway. I figured it was better then nothing since many of you would be looking for an update on Andrea and I promised I would post something each day.

After her email I decided to read the blog. It was very hard for me to read. (Not because of the spelling errors. My excuse is I lost my editor to the ICU.) But it was because I did not recognize the words as mine. I love that about writing, when I see God using this blog right before my eyes. You see I have so little talent or ability to write. So many of the blogs just come out and as the page scrolls down I don't always see the connection in the words. And many times what I started out to write is lost in a new message I had no intention of writing. I know that despite my errors and mistakes what God wants said is spoken. He really can use any one, we need not be perfect to apply. I'm proof of that.

The other reason it was hard to read is because I see the frailty of Andrea in the words. It scares me right now. I don't have a feeling that everything will turn out as I hope. Maybe it is what I see in Andrea's eyes, tiredness and fatigue.  I think it scares me down deep. Maybe this is just an attack on my spirit, maybe not. I try not to push away every thought that I don't like as if to say the only words I hear from God say what I want. I try to listen for God even in the words I don't want to hear. Maybe it is just exhaustion speaking right now. I don't know and I don't have my best friend here to ask. This is when Andrea would give me the words I needed to hear. When she would give me a little of her faith strength and wisdom. I miss her right now. I miss seeing her sleeping on the futon behind me. Even though she was tired she would want to be in the same room with me so she come back to the TV room and lie down and fall asleep. I would finish working on the computer and tell her it is time for bed. I liked knowing she was behind me, knowing when I turned around there she would be. I don't want to turn around right now. The futon is empty. So is the bedroom. All Andrea's stuff is how she left it. It is an eerie reminder of her absence in the silence of the room. I try to stay up until I want to drop hoping that when I get to the room I won't notice the emptiness. It doesn't work. The silence screams at me and I can't sleep.

I clutch the Bible and pray myself to sleep. Asking God to spare me the pain of separation, the silence of an empty bedroom. Where once I could reach over and hold Andrea in the night, now I only find her pillow. I hurt, I'm scared and I’m afraid. I have been with Andrea my whole adult life, since I was 18, 27 years, 24 of them as husband and wife. I hardly know what to do without her. Who will tell me it will all be okay? Who will I turn to?

I will turn to my savior because He is my shield and my comfort.  He is my fortress and my rampart my protector in whom I will trust. I will turn to my faith built upon past prayers answered. Some seemingly insignificant at the time but now remind me God cares even about the smallest detail of my life. All remind me I am not alone.

I thought about what I wrote the other day about Christ and what he did for me on the cross. I started to read a book on this subject yesterday. Strangely I bought two books and I intended to read the other one first but I can' t find it. I think I needed to read this book first. One word picture spoke to me today, the blood stained earth beneath the cross.

I have never thought about that before. But I closed my eyes and put myself at the foot of the cross. Christ hanging above me, If I look straight up I can look Him in the face. His head hangs limp the sweat drips from his brow and His hair. His eyes are closed, He is exhausted. The beatings and loss of blood are taking their toll. His blood runs down the cross, and the earth under Him is soaks up the blood. I fall on my hands and knees and my hand feels the wetness of the soil. As I lift my hand I see it is covered in mud, red mud. By falling on my knees I discover His blood.

When I was little, around 14 I think, there was a police chase on the street we lived on. Apparently the police had shot and killed a man right across the street from our house. When I awoke the next day and went across the street the ground was still soaked by blood and there was a pool of thick dark red blood on the sidewalk. I remember touching the grass and feeling the wetness of the ground. This is what I imagine the ground is beneath the cross.

As I pick up my hand and feel the wetness of the soil still warm from the blood. I look up. Christ opens His eyes and looks right into mine. No words are spoken. He does not have the strength to speak, and I don't have the courage. It is in that moment I realize what He has done for me and the price that He has been paid. In His last moments He asks for a drink, a sponge soaked in wine vinegar is lifted to his lips and then it is finished. His last act was to give all he had for me. All the pain, the mocking, ridicule, beating, and the utter disgrace and the separation from the father, the wages of my sin, this was all for me. Who am I that my King should die for me? That this blood that was only moments before sustaining His life, is now spilled on the ground and on my hand. His body without life, falls limp.

Isaiah 49: 15-16
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

I Thought about this verse. I think it was the nails that engraved us in His palms. I think when Christ looks down at His hands He sees the scares and he remembers us. How could He forget those he suffered so much to save? Do you think that day is erased from His memory? I think not, I think he remembers exactly how He suffered. All the pain and the price that He paid. When He sees us suffer for Him He remembers the pain and He understands far better then we what it means to suffer.

His eyes now closed, I'm left staring at my hand and the blood soaked mud covering it. He has died for me, that I might live. I did not ask Him to die, He died before I knew I needed Him. He did not wait for me to tell Him I would make it worth the pain He suffered. He died when I was a sinner. In this He left me the choice to make his sacrifice meaningful in my life. What am I to do with this blood on my hand? What does this have to do with my life? Very little I think, if all I see in this act of sacrifice is a way for me to avoid suffering in my own life. As Christ said, "No servant is greater then His master."

As I struggled tonight, and began to wrap myself in my sorrow and pity, I knelt at the foot of the cross and looked into the eyes of my savior and I saw His compassion and love for me. I saw the price that was paid for my salvation. I saw the suffering that He took in my place. I saw what I deserved. I saw love look at me through weak and weary eyes. I saw Him say with his eyes, "I will be with you Jim when you find yourself overcome by pain. When you feel lonely I'm with you." And I know that when I look up to Him tonight in the loneliness of my bedroom I will look into His same eyes and I will know He understands my suffering. And as I look into His eyes tonight His eyes will not be weary from exhaustion, His head is not hanging, but lifted up. He is sitting in victory.

I know that the same love expressed on that cross awaits me as I turn around and face the empty futon, and the silence of my room. I know that the same voice that spoke clam to the sea will speak peace to my heart.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It was then I realized life is not meant to be easy, just meaningful. It was then I realized what I was supposed to do with the blood on my hand. And it was then that I knew it was okay to go to bed.


  1. Thank you for having the courage to share your thoughts and feelings on this journey. It is a lesson in faithfulness like no other. Know that you and Andrea shine God's light on the world...and it is beautiful! I will pray that you find rest.
    Your friend, Gina

  2. Your words have ministered to me in more ways than Sunday services. The two of you are mentors in faith and love. Thank you and as always, praying for you and Andrea

  3. Your faith, pain and love come through in your words and are such a testimony to what God has done in the lives of you, Andrea and the boys.

    We pray for a miracle for Andrea every morning and Thank God for giving you strength....

    Your friend, Terrill and family