James found his future wife this year
I am so blessed to have Elizabeth for a future sister-in-law! James looked a long time for that special person in his life and finally found her. Elizabeth is a most excellent choice – she is so sweet, caring and thoughtful and loves hanging out and doing fun things. She also puts up with James’s absurd comments – HA! I think they will have a long and happy like together and I will pray toward that end. The date for their wedding is next April 17th. I get to be a bridesmaid!! I am SO excited! I’ve never been a bridesmaid before. When Elizabeth asked me, I burst into tears. I can’t wait to share in their special day. James asked Elizabeth to marry him in a hot air balloon! How romantic. And her ring is spectacular.
James, our cousin Matt and I are all doing the work of our dreams
Matt: Matt – who graduated from GA Tech with a degree in electrical engineering – lives in Destin, FL and has been doing testing for military equipment – software and some hardware, as I understand it (which I don’t). However, his real goal and dream during college was to be in the Airforce and fly jets. They disqualified him on a technicality, because they had more need of engineers than pilots. But most recently, his dream is going to be realized as he’s being given the opportunity to “fly” jets as a copilot. He won’t do the actual flying – instead – he will be the one TESTING NEW WEAPONS SYSTEMS! Ha ha! Isn’t that great? He’s totally thrilled. I mean – how cool is that??
James was talking to me over the weekend and was like – yeah, you, me and Matt – we totally made it big. We’re doing amazing things! I agree.
Me: I am currently in the third year of my PhD in chemistry at Emory University having a ball. I absolutely love science. Things have been slow, but I’m really excited for this next month or so, after I’ve finished the last class of my career on Dec 4th – I can do research full-time without stint. That is truly thrilling! Of special note: this year I got to learn how to synthesize gold nanoparticles for the first time – something I’d always wanted to learn – and start seeing everything in my project come together. Khalid wants me to take over some collaborations with Kornelia, looking at possible treatments for asthma, which is also really cool. I’m continuing to collect information for what I hope will be my “career research goals” and a post-doc project.
Larry continues to be with us
Healing from pain: something very real but hard to describe
I found out from something my pastor said, then others such as Keon Reid, one of my classmates that the Holy Spirit could manifest in ways I had never grown up understanding – some of the ways in which I had felt Him – but had never understood that to be the Holy Spirit. I had never heard of it and didn’t know what it was. This gave me some clarity and peace.
However, real healing began during one of our small group meetings with couples from our church. As I grieved with Ashley over my fears of what I had done, mistakes I made I could never fix, and how I had lost my mind – she told me, “Jessica, that is not who you are!” When she spoke this statement – it was as if someone snapped their fingers – time seemed to stop, all ambient sound vanished, her face was all I saw and I felt a current of electric energy through my whole body – like had happened to me almost a year before – but this time, I knew it was the Holy Spirit. And I felt as if He was pointing a finger at these fears and pain and saying, “NO. That is not from me. It’s not who I made you to be.” So, I did the only logical thing – I agreed with Him – and accepted from Him whatever He wanted for me.
Going to Emory the next day, I asked Him – since He had shown me what I was not – to please show me who I was in Him. And that day – I think it was around June 15th – He dropped upon me His love like I never imagined I could ever feel. It began as I prayed around the building like I always do. I felt electrical energy again, and assumed that would pass when I got back to my desk and sat down – but no – it was then He poured out love upon me that I never could have understood as real. It made real the statement in Romans 5:5 ...
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NKJV)
Unfortunately, over the weekend starting on Sunday, I lost my mind again for about three days. I was tricked into believing some of the same old lies. The nightmare I went through the second time was almost worse than the first time, in many ways. But my parents, true to their word, did not put me back into the mental hospital, but cared for me at home – for which I am incredibly, incredibly thankful. That place was awful. However, this second insanity – which I hope is the last – didn’t upset me like the first time, because I had just experienced God’s love, and I felt safe. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever know Him or experience Him in that way again, but I had gotten a taste of Him that I considered would last for the rest of my life.
I thought maybe I wouldn’t feel His Spirit any more, but to my surprise, the sense of His Presence came back in force about a month later. It turned my world upside down. I felt Him overwhelmingly strongly some days – such as on my Mom’s birthday – like I was filled with nearly tangible liquid light – or a warm, unnatural energy and heat – such as while I was so scared doing the ziplining with my lab. This visceral sense of His Presence in great strength lasted for about a month. And this time, praise to Him, I didn't go insane.
These days, I still feel Him, but it is in smaller ways. It still blesses me. In everything, what surprised me the most was that the Lord was with me during times that seemed perfectly normal and irrelevant, such as when I sat at my desk studying. I do not know what any of it means – except that the Lord by it showed me in a very real way that He is with me at all times just like He promised and that He never leaves me, and He really loves me, even in my failings, like I never thought possible. It is a tremendous comfort.
These things give me hope like I never had before in life. I cannot begin to describe what a sheer MIRACLE the revelation of His love and Presence is to me. I never dreamed He would ever do such a thing. When I had no hope left and no way of getting to Him, He reached down and rescued me.
So these days, I feel certain of the Lord’s love. That is new. I know He is in control, not me, and no matter what may come, He will be with me to face it. That is all that really matters to me. If I have Him, nothing else – literally nothing else – matters. Everything can be taken from me – but He cannot – He is the greatest treasure in the world and time itself.
So, these days, I am trying to understand how to live and walk with Him in this new reality of peace, love and hope that He gave to me. I’m still not sure how to go about it. I’m praying for wisdom. I’ve always lived in a kind of frustrated hopelessness, not as a believer should. Now that that is gone, I don’t know how to go about my life any more. I’m sure He’ll show me, as I trust in Him.
The Lord is so good. May He be glorified in all of our lives at all times.
Psalm 34:8, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"