Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Year Experiencing the God of All Comfort

II Corinthians 1:3-11Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

I feel that this passage is such a perfect summary of how we feel and what we believe.  For those of you who follow our story and pray so faithfully for us, this passage perfectly describes your relationship with us.  We are bound together in life through Christ.
We praise the Lord that He is the God of all comfort.  Although our year has definitely had its ups and downs, God has brought comfort to our hearts and lives in many ways, answering many prayers. We want to share with you some of the comforts God has given us this year.

Now 7 years old and in 2nd grade, David has experienced his first full year of good health without any bacterial infections since his surgery in September 2012.  He was able to successfully come off of his prophylactic antibiotic for the first time in his life in March.  His gastrointestinal system went into shock requiring a month-long course of antibiotics to get his healthy gut bacteria back under control, but now his system is working properly again on its own.  If all goes well this winter, he will be able to start the weaning process of his weekly antibody transfusions in the Spring. God continues to work in his heart and life.  We are excited to see his willingness to use his gift of music with the violin to glorify God. 

At 9 years of age and in the 4th grade, Joshua is thriving and successful in his new school.  We moved in the summer to get Josh into a better school district where he will be supported with his Autism struggles.  His new school has absolutely amazed us with all that they do for him.  As a result, Josh is happy and showing great potential.  While he still struggles with the ups and downs of his mood disorder, we have successfully kept him out of the hospital now for a year.  We have to take each day as it comes and heavily rely on God’s wisdom to make the right decisions for Josh.  He has a loving spirit and wants to understand his environment desperately.  He too has found ways to glorify God through music using his talents for the Lord.

I celebrated a year in November of dramatically improved health when it comes to my migraines as a result of taking Vitamin B-12 and Magnesium supplements.  I now can experience up to 3-4 days at a time of being pain-free, and when I am in pain, it’s mostly manageable only being severe 1-2 times a month.  My last MRI also showed that my brain lesions are stable and not growing, so now I can wait until 2015 before having another MRI. I enjoy having much more energy now that pain doesn’t daily consume me.  I am still a part-time special needs pediatric nurse, although this year I changed to a better agency.  I am now working for Bayada Pediatrics.

Tim is growing his financial adviser position at the Life Financial Group and has taken on a more complex role as a result of a training course he has been taking.  His tasks at home have increased significantly with our new home and large property that needs upkeep. On top of that, he is still trying to rent out our Pottstown house, and until he does, he has to maintain that house as well.  He has also enjoyed his role as a den leader for David’s den in Cub Scouts.  As if that's not enough, he continues his work as a deacon at our church all while being a huge help and support to me at home as we parent our children. 

Answering the Call
We have come to significantly know God’s comfort when it comes to His call on our lives to be missionaries.  We have struggled to understand what God is doing with our family since God closed the door for us to be missionaries in Bulgaria.  This year, God has showed us in many ways that He is using us for His Kingdom work on the mission field where we currently find ourselves.  We don’t have to live overseas to be used by God.  Yet, God has also showed us how we can still be actively involved in foreign missions.  We have stepped up our work in the Asia Minor Partnership we have been a part of now for over 6 years.  Tim took another trip to Turkey this past August.  We are praying about taking our whole family over there at the end of this coming summer. 

In addition, God has been opening many doors to missions through the special needs of our family.  Not only are we working to help our home church launch a special needs ministry, but we have been talking with some key people regarding training churches internationally to make the Gospel accessible to ALL – including those with special needs.  As a result, we might be making a trip to Bulgaria this year to help with a special needs seminar in some churches there.  We don’t know what the future holds, but we are excited about the ways in which God is working in our hearts and lives and using our family with all of our faults and struggles for His Kingdom work and His glory.

Thanks for sharing in our afflictions and comforts.  We get through each day on prayer and God’s grace.  We hope and pray that this next year will be a year in which each of you experience God’s unending comfort despite the circumstances in which you find yourself.

In Christ's love and grace,
Tim, Christine, Joshua, and David Russell

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