Drive to Arkansas

A woman, we will call her Helen, reached out to me through a mutual acquaintance. Her husband left her and took the children. The house was being foreclosed on and she had to be out within the month. Her mother was getting chemotherapy and radiation treatments and exposure to her made her sick every time she'd stop by on her way home from treatments. She was so toxic her home made her sick and she couldn't get a correct diagnosis. She'd been to so many doctors that her state funded medical assistance wouldn't pay for it anymore. They said she was "crazy" and the family was ready to have her committed to a facility. She was desperate for help.

God said, "Johnna, I want you to drive to Arkansas and bring her to your home." We had a conversation! I said, "Lord, I don't know this person! My SUV has 240,000 miles on it. I know you've given me a home where it would not be toxic to her, but why me?" He said, "Go." I thought, 'If I was in her situation, I'd hope for someone to help me.' Okay, so my daughters and I left at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning in July. We arrived at Helen's home at 10:30 p.m., in the rain and we slept in my full size SUV. The next morning Helen left with what would fit in my 8 foot utility trailer and we arrived back home on my mountain at 12 midnight Monday. I'd driven almost 2,000 miles in two days. I am so tenacious, I scare myself!

She stayed with us for two months, during which time she spoke to her mother on the phone who was grateful for my help, because her parents didn't know what to do for their daughter. I kept seeing symptoms that were vague at first but as the weeks passed they became more obvious. We are near Johns Hopkins Hospital, so I tried to get her an appointment with anyone who would see her. The problems is her medical insurance wouldn't pay for out of state doctor visits. One day she fell in the bathroom, so the ambulance came and took her to the emergency room at the local hospital. They didn't know what was wrong with her and wanted to send her home with me. They asked me if she was on heroin or other drug, because of her behavior and I said, "No." I refused to take her home until they determined what was causing her symptoms. I stayed with her over night in the hospital and the next morning when the doctors changed shifts, I implored the new physician assigned to her care to look deeper.

They discovered she had a tumor growing in one chamber of her heart and when it would move and block the valve, stopping blood flow, she had a mini-stroke. She was rushed to Washington D.C. heart specialty hospital and the next day had open heart surgery. God knew she had to get out of Arkansas and end up in the emergency room, where her insurance had to pay, to get help. I was nothing more than a link between where she was and where she needed to be. We have not communicated since. No-one said, "thank you," but I know God was pleased with my service. When He says, "Do," I obey.

During our drive to and from Arkansas, I prayed God would hold my SUV together. I had an uneasy feeling about driving it with that many miles on it, but I trusted God would get us safely home. One week after that trip the differential had a big hole in it and leaked oil. It had to be replaced. Wow! That was close.

The memo

In the fall of 2015, God sent me a memo. It said, "Go see your mother soon, or you may never see her again." (I'm still writing this. Please check back again soon. Thank you:)

I understand now

I found God

I have found God! I was raised Atheist. In my youth, I was taught that there is no God. If God existed, why couldn't we see Him?

I believe science has been staring at the "face" of God since Einstein published his papers in 1905. The equation E=mc^2 explains God.

This world is made up of MATTER and ENERGY.

There are a few characteristics about energy that caught my attention immediately, and resinated with me once they were explained.
1) You can't see energy, yet it exists. You can see what energy does, but you can't see energy.
We can't see God. We can only see what He does.

2) Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy has no beginning and it has no end.
God cannot be created or destroyed, and He has no beginning or end. God is energy.

3) Energy and matter are interchangeable. It takes a massive amount of energy to create a tiny bit of matter.
Energy (God) created everything that is "physical matter". Time has no influence on God. By our limited understanding of the laws of physics, Energy (God) works or travels near the speed of light. God didn't need millions or billions of years to create. Creation happened near the speed of light.

4) It is important to understand the nature of energy. When a body begins to move twice as fast as it’s moving now, it does not use twice as much energy, but four times more. This is related to the formula of kinetic energy: kinetic energy = (1/2) x mass x velocity 2. This is why the velocity is squared? The planets, which are undoubtably massive, move. It takes 4x more energy to move the them! The energy that moves the solar systems is God. He sustains everything with His energy, because He is energy.

5) Pure energy is electromagnetic radiation, and electromagnetic radiation moves near the speed of light in a perfect vacuum. God said, "Let their be light", and there was light. Visible light is one kind of electromagnetic wave that is commonly known and experienced. God is described in the Bible as Pure Light. Jn 1:5 That's energy.

God destroyed the world with a flood of water. The rainbow He put in the sky, as a promise not to destroy the world with water again, was electromagnetic energy (light) penetrating through water vapor (remember the flood).

6) The conversion of matter to energy, and energy to matter happens near the speed of light, but it also creates light or fire. When wood burns its conversion from matter to energy is what we see as fire. Think of the burning bush and Moses, or the pillar of fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness. Ex. 3:21

There are various forms of energy. Our spirits are one form of energy. When our spirits leave our bodies, we will be able to see God, because we will be "like" Him; energy. 1 Jn 3:1-3. This is evidence that our spirit was made to be immortal.

A conversation I had with my great-grandmother when she was 95 years old made this fact very real to me. She once said to me, "When did someone put me in this old body? Inside I feel like a much wiser 25 year old." This was my first awareness that our souls don't age and that we have a sense of immortality. Where will we spend eternity when our education in this physical body is done and we graduate? Either with a passing or a failing grade.

God attempts to explain His nature to us in His word, in a way that we can understand it. God is described in the Bible as "Pure Light". Light is energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. God cannot be created or destroyed. Energy (God) has always existed and always will. Before the world was, "I am," He said. Time has no affect on God. Creation happened near the speed of light. We can't see energy, and that is why we can't see God. We can only see what He (Energy) does. God is energy.

This morning, in January 2015, it all made sense and I had an "ah ha" moment. What do you think about energy? Email me your thoughts. I have been a Christian since I was 21 years old (33 years), but I am not super spiritual or religious, and I don't profess to have attained spiritual enlightenment, but I do always desire to please God by serving others out of my devotion and love for Him, and to gain greater understanding and spiritual awareness.

This new understanding lead me to wonder. Our physical body returns to dust and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Gen. 2:7, 3:19, Eccl. 12:7 Matter is physical substance in general, as distinct from mind and spirit. In physics, that which occupies space and possesses rest mass, especially as distinct from energy, is matter. This is the structure and properties of matter.

As best as I can understand, there are different forms of matter and different forms of energy, but basically everything falls into those two categories; matter or energy. Man is spirit energy dwelling in a physical body made of matter (dust). When the spirit separates from the body, the body stops working. The "battery" (energy source) has been removed, so to speak. The body "dies". Js. 2:26. There is a spiritual resurrection in which the spirit separates from the body, and those who have done good will enter into heaven ("to be separate from the body is to be present with the Lord") and those who have done evil will enter into hell. Jn. 5:29

How would a spirit (energy) experience hell? Hell is described as unquenchable, everlasting fire, continual burning and torment; Mt. 25:41, Lk 16:23-26. It is described as a lake of fire and brimstone, with a great gulf fixed between heaven and hell; Rev. 20:14. Fire is created when matter is converted into energy. But what if the spirit were held there in that transition indefinitely. Is this the spirit's experience of "hell"? Is hell located in that transition between matter and energy?

If the Spirit of God dwells in you on earth (1 Cor. 3:16, 1 Jn. 4:13), then your spirit will dwell with Him in heaven (2 Cor. 5:6-8). Hell is separation from God, and heaven is being in His presence, but both are for eternity, because time has no affect on energetic beings, whether they are spirits, angels or God Himself.

These are the kinds of things I sometimes ponder as I meditate on His word, always expecting clarity from God.
Copyright 2015-2018©Johnna Wheeler

Repeated misdiagnosis almost killed me

When I was a child, it was strongly emphasized many times that because I have Dyslexia, I basically have "no brain." In fact, at school I was put in the same class with mentally retarded children where I got very good grades. But, when they put me in class with average students, I got C's and D's. My value and usefulness as a human being had everything to do with how strong I was and how hard I could work. I am an "all or nothing" kind of person, so I took that to the extreme. In a futile attempt to make my father proud and love me, I worked so hard I broke my body. Weight training was my gym class all through grades 9-12 in school. I was my father's “son". My father said to me, just before he kicked me out, "Your sister is the 'gold' and you are the garbage. I am going to put my money, time and energy into the one who has the most promise. And, you know that's not you. Move out."

Thinking realistically about my potential and ability to support myself, I couldn't see myself as a bank teller, cashier, secretary or other job women typically do. Numbers were not my friend! For the first two years I worked as a laborer on a high rise roofing crew as a penetration technician sealing pipes and skylights installing rubber roofs. Then I got my class B CDL and worked as a truck driver. I drove dump trucks, oil tankers, garbage trucks that pick up dumpsters, freight trucks, school and motor coach buses. When I couldn't work anymore due to rapidly deteriorating health, I started taking care of clients with disabilities in my home. There I could manage my energy better and on difficult days when I could barely function, I was home where no-one would know.

My ability to function decreased with each passing year. I had numerous colonoscopies and nineteen different doctors told me, "You have IBS. Go home and learn to live with it." That diagnosis basically means, "I haven't a clue what's wrong with you." My bowels were irritable, but not for the reasons they thought. I got so backed up in my early 30's, I couldn't eat for a week at a time, while waiting for my elimination system to catch up. I wouldn't eat until something came out. The longest I went without eating was 28 days and still, I had no bowel movement. I developed terrible hemorrhoids and a fissure in my anus (it tore). I began having the worst pain. It was like someone stuck a sword up my butt and was twisting it. It brought me to my knees. I thought, "What's happening to me?" More than a decade passed and I gradually lost a lot of weight. Nightly enemas, where I was spending two hours in the bathroom every night, took me away from my family and after a while they didn't work. How strange that the only time my intestines would move was after I rode my horse! The motion and bouncing caused my peristaltic movement to work. Then that didn't produce results after a while.

Charlie2

Agony
With my clients in respite care, my family and I went to an amusement park for a 3 day vacation, but it wasn’t fun for me at all. I could barely walk. The pressure in the bottom of my pelvis was so intense that it restricted the circulation to my legs and my sciatic nerves were being pinched. I pushed a folding stroller-style wheelchair, which held all the meals and beverages I would consume during the day. In an attempt to reduce the weight and pressure of my upper body on my pelvis, I rested my elbows and torso over the wheelchair when we stopped walking, and I laid-down as often as I could during our trip. It was agony, but I persevered. Every day I could feel that time was running out for me. Would I live to see my 50th birthday?

Clients Can barely walk

I had to wait 6 months to see a surgeon who I was told is the best at what she does and would be well worth the wait. They ran every test they could imagine on me. I didn't think I'd live long enough to make the appointment. Finally, there I was sitting in her examining room, hoping to hear how she would make my nightmare go away when I heard her say, "I feel there is more wrong with you than the tests indicate and I don't feel comfortable operating on you not knowing what that is." I went home and collapsed on the floor in a puddle of tears.

While at church one Sunday, I happened to mention my dilemma to my new friend Kelly, who has Cerebral Palsy. She suggested I go to the GYN surgeon who did her hysterectomy.

Searching for a Surgeon who will believe me
At first Dr. Skipper said, “I find nothing unusual.” I asked him to examine me standing up; not lying on my back. I reasoned in my mind that gravity contributes to the downward force of my internal organs, as well as having full intestines, so examining me standing up would recreate the natural conditions I experience during my waking hours. Dr. Skipper confirmed part of my self-diagnosis (uterine prolapse) and scheduled me for a partial hysterectomy and pelvic floor mesh implant in September 2008. You don't know how far something has fallen until it is put back where it belongs. For the first few months after surgery it felt like he gave me a major "wedgie." That only fixed one quarter of what was wrong inside me. I still had 3 other prolapses; cystocele (bladder), rectocele (rectum) and entrocele (intestines), all at the same time.

I had become incontinent. I didn’t even know I had to pee, and I was. It was so incredibly ridiculous! In my travels, I had to duck behind dumpsters or open both doors of my SUV, while parked beside another car, and hide myself from view at a moments notice, so I could avoid an accident in my clothes. Having had a hysterectomy, I traded in my maxi pads for incontinence pads. The doctor I waited six months to see gave me a referral to see a Urogynochologist. He said, "If you just cut your fluid intake in half, you won't have to urinate so much. He gave me a referral to a rectal specialist. I didn't go because I could imagine hearing him say, "Well, if you just stop eating you won't have to do anymore enemas." I knew what was wrong with me! I just couldn't operate on myself.

I found Dr. Harry Johnson. at the University of Maryland, in Baltimore in July 2009. Keep in mind what the Uro-gynocologist said. The tests that Dr. Harry Johnson’s assistant did, revealed that I had anatomical and neurological incontinence. There is a HUGE difference between cutting back on fluids and this diagnosis! That visit with Dr. Harry Johnson was such a relief. He said words I thought I would never hear, “When would you like to get that fixed?” In September 2009, I had surgery to repair my prolapsed bladder. Now keep in mind that my rectum and intestines were still laying on my bladder, but he did such a good job, that it wasn’t as much of a problem as you’d expect.

The vaginal/uterine prolapse and bladder prolapse were only half of the problem, and not the most difficult aspects of my multiple diagnosis to live with. What remained was that my intestines and rectum had fallen. Everything that suspends the internal organs; the fascia (the stringy parts that I cut away from the abdominal wall whenever I gutted a chicken I had butchered), had torn away inside me, leaving my organs unattached and totally unsupported, so that they just fell into a heap at the bottom of my pelvis.

My search for a GI surgeon, who could put my intestines and rectum back where they belonged, led me to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. I thought to myself, “People come from all over the world to J. H. University, because they are well known for having superior staff and the latest diagnostic tests and medical treatments. I live here, so I should avail myself of the opportunity!” Dr. G, at Johns Hopkins, ordered the usual colonoscopy, endoscope and Sitzmark study. I was supposed to do a Fleet Enema prep before the procedure, which involved taking a pill the night before and doing an enema the next morning to get my intestines completely empty. I knew that wouldn’t even come close to getting the job done and explained to Dr. G that I’d have to stop eating for 5 days prior, do enemas every night and then do the Fleet Prep. She thought I was exaggerating, but I wasn't in the least. That’s exactly what I did and still, I doubted that I was completely empty for the tests. It was all for nothing, because the tests revealed absolutely nothing, which was no surprise to me!

It is very well documented in hundreds of research studies and peer-reviewed medical journals that the quickest way to stop the symptoms of most autoimmune diseases, like IBS, Crohn’s or Colitis, and put the patient into remission, is by fasting. So it makes perfect sense to me why my colon looked relatively normal after fasting for 5 days and doing enemas. So, I begged Dr. G, “Please send me for an MRI!”

To begin with, she didn’t believe that anyone could have all four prolapses at once. She said if that were the case, than I should be falling out the bottom. I told her, “Aside from the fact that I feel like I could give birth to my insides through my butt, I have fused pelvic bones, which is common among the women in my family.” She ordered the MRI.

Dr. G stood there, with the results of my MRI in her hand, and with a straight face she said, “You need biofeedback and psychiatric help.” I said to her, “Which of those professions has the ability to put my organs back where they belong? You may make 6 figures a year, but you are fired! You are not the right doctor for me!” I couldn’t have been more disappointed! And yet, a big part of me was aware that every time one of these doctors told me something stupid like that, the reality was that God was protecting me from incompetence and keeping me safe from further harm.

I took the paper that Dr. G had in her hand, and I handed it to Dr. S, who did my partial hysterectomy and pelvic floor mesh. He took one look at my MRI results and said, “You need abdominal sacral coloplexy, and you need someone who does it A LOT!” He didn’t know who did my bladder repair and referred me to Dr. Harry Johnson at University of Maryland. He was the doctor who did my bladder repair the year before. I gave that same piece of paper (MRI results) to Dr. Johnson and he said, “You need abdominal sacral coloplexy, and I DO THAT A LOT!” I smiled inside, because I knew that God had given His stamp of approval, and with a touch of humor too.

Dr. Johnson told me he couldn’t guarantee that I would be able to have normal bowel movements after surgery. By that time, I had come to hate the sound of the word “guarantee”. I said to him, “If you do half as good a job as you did on my bladder, I will be fine.” Again, within two weeks, he had me in surgery. It was September 2010. I was still in recovery when Dr. Johnson came out to my husband in the waiting room. With a look of astonishment, he told my husband, “It’s no wonder your wife couldn’t have a bowel movement. She had a large abdominal hernia, in addition to having rectal and intestinal prolapse!”

The MRI report said, “At push, intestines and rectum descend 7 cm.” I was laying down on my back for that test, so gravity was not contributing to the downward movement of my internal organs. I had already had the hysterectomy and bladder repair. After my bladder repair, the other two prolapses were collapsed on my bladder and produced increased bladder pressure. Yet, my bladder repair was successful. I had to get all this fixed in pieces, because I couldn’t find anyone who would believe me, but also, I don’t think the MRI would have been able to detect all four prolapses at once, since there was no room inside my abdominal cavity for them to slide while on my back. Having the hysterectomy, made it possible to view the other two prolapses more clearly. The MRI didn’t show the large abdominal hernia! What doctors fail to realize is that these tests do have limitations.

The morning after surgery to repair my rectocele and entrocele, I had the most beautiful bowel movement. In fact, I took a picture of it in the toilet. I know, that sounds gross, but consider all the years I endured being unable to have a bowel movement, and all the weeks I went without eating, because nothing would come out. I often vomited after eating, because food was still in my stomach and there was nowhere for it to go. The word “constipation” doesn’t even come close to what I had been experiencing! To me, that bowel movement was art. To say, "life isn’t fair," is an understatement! For twenty-five years I used my body to care for and make the world accessible to people with disabilities and it made me disabled. I have a life time weight lifting limit of 10 pounds.

I never realized how deeply I believed" my value and usefulness has everything to do with how strong I am and how hard I can work" until that moment. As a child I had to earn my keep. I'm not strong anymore and I can't work hard. Why would my husband keep me? I sat with that discomfort for a while and then realized, I can't earn my value any more than a dollar bill can earn its value. For the first time in my life, I had permission to be a woman. I didn't have to earn love. I could ask for help because I wasn't a burden or liability. I am okay just as I am.

Scar tissue grew into my descending colon from previous surgeries. I had a tubaligation (fallopian tubes clamped) and reversal, followed by surgery to remove two of four ectopic pregnancies in my 20’s. Then 3 surgeries to repair prolapses and a hernia. I told my naturopathic physician it felt like my defending colon was being strangled. He injected something along the scars that dissolves scar tissue. The next morning I felt a tremendous difference. Multiple prolapses, a large abdominal hernia, Systemic Candidiasis and Leaky Gut were the images that appeared on 5 pieces of my health puzzle. I had 3 major abdominal surgeries in 3 years to fix 4 prolapses and a large hernia! The pain that felt like a sword was my pelvic floor going into spasm. I'm not aloud to push or use my abdominal muscles. If I do, that pain comes back and each time it lasts longer. Now it keeps me in agony for 45 minutes each time, but I've figured out if I put Cramp Bark tincture in my enema, it stops. Enemas are required 3x daily for me to have a BM. Sorry if it's TMI. Perhaps someone else is having the same struggle and needs to know these things. My lower GI function will never be restored to what it was in my childhood, but it's manageable and better than it has been the previous two decades.

You know your body better than anyone. Keep searching. Don't lose hope. Get a 20th opinion if necessary. When practitioners give you stupid answers, consider that God is keeping you from being harmed by those people.

Sharon Lynn Wythe said of me, "Johnna's life lesson is she needs to learn to use her mind to get what she wants and not her body." Consider your journey is right for your souls growth and character development. Don't just accept it! When you CHOOSE your story as the best way to grow your character and make you the person you are today, it empowers you.

When I see parents praise their little girls for how strong they are lifting their younger sibling or other children, I cringe with the idea of how that unfolds in the years to come. Our soul is put in the body as a type of classroom where we learn life lessons. We are learning how to do life in our body and in the world in a way that works best for us, or not. My father used to say, "Too soon old and too late smart." That was true for me, I hate to admit. Please learn from my mistakes and don't abuse your body. It didn't hurt, but that doesn't mean serious, permanent damage wasn't being done. I learned, just because you “can” do something, doesn’t mean you should. You can jump off a building, but you should not. You can lift a heavy weight, push your body to its limits and beyond, but should you? And for what? You only get one body in this life. If you wear it out or break it, what else is there? Life is fraught with dangers and people have accidents happen to them. Tragedy comes upon us without warning, but to inflict harm on ourselves goes against our inborn sense of self preservation, survival, and nurturing nature.

Drive to Atlanta, Georgia

I consider myself a good friend. A 17 year long friendship with an older woman, disabled by Multiple Sclerosis, caused me to drive to Atlanta, Georgia. I swore I would never drive that far with my family for vacation to someplace like Disney World, but when my friend asked me to go get a lady who had arranged to rent a bedroom from her, and move her up here, I went. When I arrived and saw this woman's "home," I called my friend and asked if she really knew this person as well as the thought she did? I was ready to head back to Maryland without her. I'd taken another good friend of mine along on the long trip for company. She has cerebral palsy and so she stayed in my SUV while I helped Ester get her things. My friend assured me they'd been talking on the phone and emailing for over one year, and it would be fine.

I gave Ester 30 minutes to collect her things and put them into my 8 foot utility trailer. As I watched her pull soiled clothes from the 2 foot deep pile on the floor, I noticed they were covered with dog poop. I felt the floor sag with each step I took and roaches ran in every direction. I'd never seen anything like it! We stayed in a hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina and management questioned me about her bizarre behavior and appearance. My friend, who was along for the ride, sensed something wasn't right about Ester too. There was no conversation on the way home because we didn't want to get Ester started.

I dropped Ester off at my friends house with a pair of pajamas and the bare necessities, because I didn't want her house to become infected with roaches. I took the clothes to a laundromat where I discovered balls of poop at the bottom of each load when I moved the clothes to the dryer. I fumigated the contents of the utility trailer parked in the water shed one mile from my home before taking them to her. I didn't want any of that near my property!

Within two months, Ester had her bedroom looking like her mobile home. She was unmedicated, violent bi-polar. After two months, she started to throw objects on the floor around my friends wheelchair so she couldn't move, and abused her mentally and physically. My friend noticed her things disappear around the house and Ester tried to run off everyone who came to visit my friend. It was February when my friend confided in me what was going on and asked me to help her get Ester out of her house. Having been a landlord, I was knowledgable about how to do that. I took my friend to the court house one day when Ester wasn't there. She filed papers and that evening Ester was removed by the sheriff to a women's shelter. The court hearing was two weeks later. No-one who lived hear her would take her to court in case I couldn't get there, so I made sure I did. I left my mountain home at 2 a.m. just before an ice storm arrived and would make traveling impossible. I drove 80 miles to pick up my friend and take her to court.

She was visibly upset and shaking before the judge while Ester sat very calmly across the room, confident and acting "normal". I sat beside my friend for emotional support, but when she couldn't put her thoughts into words she asked the judge if I could speak on her behalf, since I was very familiar with the situation. My friend is legally blind, so I had to enlarge the photos I took of Ester's home to 8x10 so she could see them. I had those photos with me, but Ester had no idea I'd taken them. When I showed the photos to the judge, Ester blew a gasket. The judge decided Ester wouldn't return to my friends home.

Eser 2 Ester 1

I told my very independent best friend, "If you will agree to let me handle your finances, I will make sure you don't need anyone to share your home and expenses again." She was in some credit card debt and paying the interest only on her mortgage. She was included in our family grocery budget for two years, and I helped her get out of debt. Our friendship was so much stronger that she hired be to be her caregiver when I was unable to work anywhere else. I began taking care of her and the first year her health improved so much that she not only stopped spending 5 days a week crashing in bed, but she purchased a hand cycle, lost 30 pounds, got off some of her medications, visited the local mall to have coffee with her new social group once a week, attended church regularly and took a college course on line. During the 5 years I worked for her, I got my health back and then I attended college too.

We didn't speak of Ester much, except to say God has a reason for everything. She and I were His way to get Ester out of Georgia so her family in Ohio could learn about her situation and get her the help she needed. She said there wasn't anything I could have said in Georgia that would have changed her mind about Ester coming to live with her, but when she saw the photos of Esters mobile home, she understood what I was trying to say to her in that moment. That experience brought us closer together as friends.

A burden for my friends - furnace

Bill purchased his first home in his late 30's, after years of living with his two brothers. He'd been restoring the old home with is brother's help, and still hadn't furnished it. Bill was a friendly, but meek man who hid behind the piano at church. The type of person who would do anything for you and give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it, but he had difficulty receiving the same from others. He didn't say much, and when he did, it was always others focused; never about himself and most certainly not about his difficulties. He kept those concealed.

God had given me a heavy burden for this man's furnace. For three years, especially during the winter months, I had a dreadful, almost haunting feeling of something bad happening to him. Why was I having this feeling? How strange to be so concerned about someone else's furnace, of all things. I pushed it aside each year, but the feeling increased with the coming of fall every year, even more than the previous year. I said, "What am I supposed to do about it, Lord? You know my friend is a very private man. I am not the type of person to invade someone's privacy or help them against their will, not even a close friend."

I sold an investment property just before the housing market went bust in 2008. Having walked away from the settlement table with $200,000, I already decided $20,000 of that money was the Lord’s, and I would use every cent to help others in His name. I knew people who needed help. I wasn't going to send that money to help people through organizations that already have funding. I would give aid to those I know who have no assistance. When I had the money from the sale of the property in August 2008, I knew exactly what to do. At the top of that list in my heart and in my mind was a dear friend and brother in Christ, named Bill. He was in his early 50's, single and working, but the company he worked for had been bought out and there were pay cuts.

God emboldened me and I couldn’t resist anymore. I hadn't spoken to Bills twin sister in over a decade, but I contacted her and asked for her help. I imagined she thought I was crazy or perhaps I had dishonest intentions. "I have a very bad feeling," I told her. I asked her to get Bills spare house key from their older brothers who lived close by and meet me at Bills house. A couple months passed as it took a few phone conversations to convince her I was for real. Then she followed through and without her brother knowing it, we went into his home while he was at work.

My fears were understood the moment we entered Bills home. Depression oozed out of the walls, which hadn't been washed or painted in years. Piles of unpaid bills were lined up by the month on the refinished hardwood floor along one wall in the living room. The basement was filled with bundled stacks of news papers, bags of aluminum cans and bottles, several big bags of used cat litter from two cats he no longer had. The kitchen was sad and the bathroom was worse. Upstairs was a cot where he slept. The refrigerator was almost bare and a can of coffee was in the cabinet, but not much else. The thermostat was set at 50 degrees. I went against my inclination and started looking through his mail. All I cared to see was his mortgage and utility bills. The water bill, which is due once every six months hadn't been paid in two years. There were turn off notices for electric and he was behind on others. He was paying the mortgage on time, but that was it. She was mortified because he never let on that he was having financial difficulties.

Bills sister and I cleaned like two women, obsessed. We started at the ceiling and washed all the walls. It looked like we'd painted! We washed the floors, but we didn't get to the basement. After some reflection, she did share with me while we worked together cleaning the floors, that he used to invite them in for coffee and they'd sit and chat at the kitchen table, but he'd become very distant and closed-off for the past two years. She and her other brother hadn't been in his home in a very long time. I got the information I needed from the furnace so I could tell the heating / AC company what they would be inspecting.

I took each of the most recent overdue bills home and paid them in full. Then I paid his mortgage 3 months ahead. I called the furnace company who maintains my furnace and asked if they service Bills area. To my shock and awe, if my friends house were across the street from where it is, it would be out of their area. Wow!

When Bill returned home at the end of the day to a spotless house, he called his sister. He said to her in total amazement, "A tornado went through my home! It's spotless!" She confessed that she and I had cleaned. Normally, he would have been embarrassed and insulted, but he said something that surprised us both, when she called me later to tell me this. He said, "Thank you. Can you do some more?" He didn't know about the bills or my plans to have his furnace inspected. He only knew we'd cleaned. She asked about the things in the basement and he agreed they should go to the landfill or recycling.

It was the first week in January, 2009. My friends sister and I met at his house with the servicemen who would evaluate the furnace. As they worked, we loaded my pick-up truck with the contents of the basement and I maid 4 trips to the landfill. The technicians diagnosed the "patient". It was the original furnace and was leaking carbon monoxide into the home. They condemned it on the spot. In fact, they made it inoperable. I remember Bills sister standing there as I talked with the technician. Without hesitation I asked, "What will it cost to install a new furnace and how soon can it be done?" The man said $5,000 and we can do it next week. Her mouth dropped open because realized I was for real. We were done and gone before Bill returned home from work. He didn't know we were there, except that the basement was clean.

furnace old

We had the warmest first half of January I could remember, which was good because Bill had no idea he had no heat. The new furnace was installed, and the workmen were cleaning up when Bill arrived home at 4:30 p.m. He must have noticed the heating/AC company van in his driveway because he entered and rushed to the basement, almost in shock. I watched him as the technician explained. "Had you kept the heat above 50 degrees, you would probably have died in your sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning." My friend sunk to his knees, weeping, his hands clasped in his lap. I hugged him and apologized for intruding, which I would never do, except God insisted and I had to obey. He understood. I added, "Plus, you don't make it easy to anyone to help you, so that's why I had to do it behind your back. You are always helping others, but when you don't accept their help, you rob them of a blessing. It was an honor to be asked by God to help you."

Furnace new

I asked one of Bills other brothers if he would consider offering to move in with Bill to share expenses. He though it was a good idea and it worked out for them both. Their sister called me a few months later thinking me for having his furnace replaced, but also for helping the family get close again. I paid the maintenance contract for the furnace for two years and then God said I was finished.

I share this story with you because I wish to encourage you. At some point, God may ask you to do something outside your comfort zone, and perhaps inconsistent with your personality. It may even be unpopular or thought of as possibly unethical, on the surface. God knows your heart is true and trustworthy. He gives you strength and resources, and uses them to help others. We are called at times to be our brothers keeper.

If you are someone who does for others but don't feel comfortable accepting help, understand you are robbing them of a blessing.

It’s not enough to give money. Get in the ditch with people who are hurting and in need. Be Gods hands, knees, elbows and feet. Get dirty and exhaust yourself in His service. When He lays a burden on your heart, have no limits. I'm not suggesting you don't already do this. I'm simply sharing with you my experience and how powerful it was, not only for me, but for Bill and his family. We never know how far reaching the service we do impacts the lives of others. God is the ultimate multi-talker. I've learned that His plans are immense and He never does just one thing at a time. Had I ignored God’s voice, my friend Bill may not be here now. We have a responsibility to be there for others. God never ceases to amaze me.

I will warn you, however, to expect to crash. Just like Elijah had a victory over the 400 prophets of Baal and was flying high. Then he had to come down. Next we see him in the dessert, under a bush asking for death. Nature is about balance and with every high, a low follows. Expect it, and don’t let it derail you. Keep moving forward, focusing on and doing the next thing.