Thursday, April 10, 2008

Verse for the Valley

Last month I blogged about how I have an overall life verse in the Bible that guides me through all situations. In addition to that, the Lord also gives me verses and songs for different seasons. Right now I'm doing a Bible study on the Psalms of Ascent by Beth Moore and she wondered---when we get to heaven would Jesus give us a personalized CD with our name on it with all the songs that accompanied our dramatic moments? I wonder the same about verses. Will I get a cute hardcover gift book in my heavenly welcome basket as well? He has surely carried me through mountains and valleys through verses. Today I'd like to share a valley verse.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" Deuteronomy 31:8

Before I share my story I wanted to let you know again that on the right hand side of the blog is a button that will take you to a free Bible program where you can look up numerous versions of the Bible, take notes, I have yet to begin with all this site has to offer. Right now I'm doing the Bible in a year program in the New Living Translation. I love it! It's not the first time I've done the Bible in a year yet I still come across verses that jump at me like I've never seen it before.

Such is the case with Deuteronomy 31:8.

I was living in upstate NY and I didn't think my name was Julie, I was seriously wondering if it was Job. In a period of months the following took place: my job ended (a good thing overall but I was very anxious about my identity in that transition), my husband's job changed where he went from salary with benefits to commission and no benefits, I had a reaction to my c section (I'm always that 1 in 1000 you hear about) our daughter failed her newborn tests for congenital hypothyroidism, the office erred and did not relay that message to us in a timely fashion missing criticical dosage times, she was given a medicine she should not have that shut her down when she contracted croup and nearly died, she had RSV, and then pneumonia with numerous breathing relapses throughout 2004. Her brother was in kindergarten where I was homeschooling him but he was diagnosed with sleep apnea because of tonsil size. A week before we closed on our house in NY to move to Ohio, he had his tonsils and adenoids out. A few weeks after our daughter had her near death experience, my dad announced he had lung cancer. Although he responded wonderfully to treatment at first, by Spring things went downhill quickly and I was attending his funeral in late May. Three weeks before the funeral my husband received a call from a company out of state that gave him one hour and a half phone interview before hiring him. We visited that area praying the entire time, and we knew the move was for us. But the job and the move separated us as a family. So by summer 2004 I am for the most part a single mom selling a house in one state while my husband is alone with a new job in an apartment looking for a new house. He was looking for a school, doctors, and a new church family. I was taking care of the kids, both not in perfect health at the time, packing up a house, trying to be available for my grieving family, and grieving myself.

One afternoon I attended a luncheon in Kanona, NY through the Family Life Network (you need to be listening to their station, it is THE best!) FLN was about 30 minutes away and over the years we were blessed with great concerts and speakers. The speaker that day was a tool God used to give me peace, hope, and direction.

The speaker was Jill Kelly.

Wife of Buffalo Bill's famed quarterback Jim Kelly.

New Christian through a series of events pretty much surrounding the terminal condition of their son, Hunter, who has gone on to be with the Lord since that luncheon.

She shared her heart and she remains one of the top speakers I can remember because she gave her whole heart. She explained her background and it wasn't one of acting like a nun and having a strong faith in anything. She met Jim at a party. She was part of a celebrity lifestyle. Jesus Christ was about the last thing on her mind.

I can't remember Hunter's whole story but I remember my shoulders shaking because I was holding on to my emotions for all it was worth. We only had one ER visit that was life threatening for us and it shook me to the core and I had been in a personal relationship with Christ for awhile. Jill shared that every ER visit for them was one where they knew they just might not be bringing Hunter back. How on Earth did she make it through that time?

The dam broke when she exclaimed the verse God was using to get Jill through the excruciating time of knowing you are going to lose a child when you still have other children to nurture and a husband to care for all under the glare of celebrity spotlight---as a new Christian no less.

Here is the verse again:

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

From that moment on I clung to this verse like a shy child to a mother's leg. He was already in Ohio in our new house we had not found yet. He was already at the hospital double checking plans for our son's surgery. He was already in our daughter's bedroom stroking her hair when I was prepping the nebulizer and steroids. He was already at the real estate office making sure everything was ready for the sale of our NY home. He never not once left me. Every time I wanted to be afraid, I remembered the verse. I prayed for Jill. And I clung.

It's nearly four years since that luncheon and God has been more than faithful. We endured insurance woes once we moved that were difficult but so many good things too. Our son thrived at the school we felt directed to, if that was the only reason to be obedient to the move, I'd do it all over and over again. It wasn't though---our daughter's health has stabilized. She is doing fantastic. People in NY are blown away when they see and hear her. My husband loves his job and is good at it. Doors have flown open for me in ministry and with friendships. I have been blessed to keep special friendships in NY but make new strong ones as I have here with the other Gate Girls, Kim and Maria.

I sense this verse is meant for someone out there. Perhaps when they read this post it might not even be during the time of posting, but later. I don't know, but He does. Here is what I have for you my friend, don't be afraid. Don't be discouraged. The Lord has gone ahead of you. He is with you every step of the way. He won't forget you, He won't leave you. He's got your back, He's got you covered. No need to fear.

And wherever Jill Kelly is, I pray her faith has remained steadfast through the seasons of change. I wept when I learned Hunter passed, but I know her children and her knew whose arms he was now in. I pray Jim has that personal comfort as well.

Thank you Jill for sharing your heart that day. Your obedience to Him changed my life.

Julie Arduini is a surrendered writer with her own blog, A graduate of the Christian Writers Guild, she blogs for the Christian Writers Forum Sundays as the mommy blogger and is the Forum's book club facilitator. She is active with FaithWriters and has several writings ready to publish in different books and anthologies in 2008-09. To get to know her better, read her interview by Lynda Schab at:
To contact Julie, please use the e mail provided in our profile.

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