Tag Archive | living water

“What has happened to me?”

The fog in my head starts clearing. My husband and daughters are constantly with me. My brother, his wife and my sister are nearby. My BFF and her husband have been at the hospital too. I struggle with their names sometimes. Thank God that is temporary! I start asking B questions: Me: “Where were we vacationing?” B: “We weren’t vacationing together. You started out at your sister’s.” Me: “That’s right. Then I went to BFF J’s and on to Yosemite.” Some details are still jumbled. Slowly, I remember hiking with K and N; stopping to rest before the summit; deciding to turn back down-trail. Why won’t they let me drink anything? The realization that 3 days have passed and I don’t have any memories of them strikes me, befuddles me.

This is what I have been told:

I hiked 2 miles down-trail (from 7300 ft. to 6100 ft.) without getting lost or falling! Along the way, I became quite nauseous and began vomiting. I was texting with K and B. I even had cell service to call them! Cell service is spotty at best in Yosemite. When K and N caught up to me, K asked if he should get help and I told him yes. First, he tried to use his phone to dial 911. It didn’t have reception. Then, he used my phone and it worked! God is watching over us! I told K my passcode and how to access my health app in my smart phone. It has my medical information (and can be accessed from a locked screen-BE SURE TO PUT YOUR INFO IN YOUR PHONE!).

The Yosemite Search and Rescue Team, including an EMT and canine team, were returning from searching for another hiker and happened to be less than 30 minutes away from us. The average response time is between 3 and 4 HOURS! Again, God is taking care of the situation! During their assessment, I was able to answer their questions correctly. (I do not remember any of this!) Initial diagnosis: High Altitude Sickness. The EMT asked that a Paramedic be sent up to help. The plan was to give me anti-altitude sickness medication (I didn’t know there was such a thing.), spend the night on the mountain, and get me feeling well enough to hike down the rest of the way. The Rescue Team told K and N to hike back to the valley. They didn’t want 3 people to rescue.

The Paramedic arrived with more equipment. After his assessment, he called the Doctor at the Yosemite Clinic. The Doctor thinks that I am dehydrated and have hypothermia. IV treatment of fluids begins. Sometime after that, I began quickly deteriorating. I started counting in German and I was confused. I don’t speak German, but I can count to 3 in German. Further assessment: she’s deteriorating rapidly and it is critical to get her to a hospital for treatment. The Rescue Team had to request a special one-wheeled litter to take me down the mountain.

The Doctor and Medical Staff didn’t really understand why I was getting worse. The litter team was about half-way to me when it occurred to the Doctor that I could have hyponatremia – all the electrolyte levels bottomed out. Treatment is hypertonic solution given by IV. He sends a Rescue Team member with a bag to catch the litter. These guys are the fastest hikers on the planet!

I don’t’ know how long it took to get the litter to our location. It was about 2 a.m. (PDT) when we got to the valley floor where an ambulance was waiting. After one IV bag of hypertonic solution, I was still getting worse. The ambulance had an analyzer that could confirm the diagnosis, but the system failed to analyze two samples. Decision was made to give me a second hypertonic bag. It was a 30 minute ambulance ride to the helipad. In the ambulance, my lungs were checked: oxygen levels below normal, crackling sounds in lower lungs, labored breathing, fluid in the lungs. At the helipad, the Life Flight crew decided to intubate me prior to loading me onto the helicopter. Once in the helicopter, there would not be sufficient space to perform the procedure especially on a choppy flight. I aspirated. As I hear the story, I begin understanding the seriousness of my situation.

By the time we reach Doctors Medical Center, I was exhibiting evidence of more fluid in my lungs. I had pulmonary and cerebral edema; after 2 bags of hypertonic sodium count was 120 – normal range 136-145; potassium depleted; water intoxication; high altitude sickness. No wonder there were 7 IV’s with 9 bags pumping me full of medication! My body needed time to recover and I was put into a medically induced coma. That was early Thursday, September 17, 2015.

Now, it’s Saturday, September 19, 2015. I am beginning to comprehend my predicament. Thankfully, my restraints are gone. My arms look like someone’s punching bag with tubes connecting to IV’s. I’m being poked and prodded every few hours whether I need it or not. The oxygen mask is bothering my nose. I keep moving it. The nurse decides that is OK as long as it stays near my nose. Later, another nurse will change it to the candela, which is not much more comfortable! Someone on the medical staff tells me that I seem very calm about the circumstances. God gave me peace throughout the experience.

The Respiratory Therapist visits. She wants to check my swallow. Why? I’ve been swallowing for many years. I don’t understand. She knows that cerebral edema can cause multiple issues with normal things like swallowing, talking, memory and thinking, walking, eating, etc and that after intubation I might have trouble swallowing. She brings a cup with ice chips and a spoon. Of course, I am not allowed to do it myself – probably a good thing considering I drank too much water! The ice is cold and wet on my tongue, truly wonderful. I swallow and begin coughing. She pulls the cup back and says “That’s all for now.” My brain is screaming “NO, I want a drink!” Instead, I just say “Kill joy.” My family chuckles and is SO relieved to hear this because it means my personality is still intact! Later, we try again and I am allowed to have “thick” liquids. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

The Physical Therapist arrives to see if I have balance and strength to stand. She puts a leather belt around my waist. It’s a multi-function belt: it keeps the gown closed – THANK YOU! – and gives her a hand-hold to steady me. On Sunday, they bring a wheel chair. With B by my side, I push it to the elevator; go down and out to the patio. It’s the first time I’ve been outside. It was a lot of work. My body was weak and my vision blurred, distorted. Another hurdle, I am walking with assistance! I’m given a walker.

I leave NCCU and head for an inpatient wing. WHOOT! I’m moving up in the world! Maybe, I can blow this popsicle stand soon. Just a few more hurdles: swallowing and eating, walking without assistance, etc. I am motivated to go home at this point.

My daughter sits with me. I run my fingers through my hair over and over. She asks, several times, if I have a headache. Headache is common with cerebral edema. I tell her that I don’t have a headache. But I still run my fingers through my hair…more later.

My swallow is improving and my walk getting steadier. Monday the Physical Therapist has me walking with wing without assistance! I still need someone near when I get out of bed for any reason. Hallelujah! I get to shower!!! After a sweaty hike and 5 days at the hospital, you can imagine how I feel about a shower.

Shower finished. I’m given comb and brush. That’s when I look in a mirror and realize my bangs have been CHOPPED, not just cut. Now I understand why I kept messing with my hair. I knew it didn’t feel right. Apparently, I had been taped to a back board for stability. When they went to remove the tape, about 4” of my bangs were cut with the tape. Ever had 1/2″ bangs? It looked like a bad mullet gone horribly wrong!

What’s this? I get real food to eat? YES!! No more thickened juice! Can I go home yet? I’m told most patients would need a stay at a rehabilitation hospital, before going home. What will this mean for me? I’m in California, but I live in Texas. My husband has stayed by my side each night. He can’t have me in CA for weeks and work in TX. Thankfully, God has this too. I am discharged Tuesday and approved to fly home Wednesday. No rehab stay and no long-term medication!

Our Primary Care Physician checks me out. Lungs are clearing and I’m gaining strength. My vision should clear in a few weeks, but it doesn’t. I had hemorrhaging behind both eyes. The left eye has not healed, but should be healed by the end of January. Currently, I am back to my workout routines and my vision is greatly improved. My healing has been nothing short of miraculous!

Maybe you’re thinking this is a horrible story. Well, it isn’t. It is a story of how God orchestrated each segment for good. I believe it was Jesus carrying me the 2 miles down trail and responding to the Rescue Team. The Search and Rescue Team including the EMT being so close to my location is another piece of the miracle. Those in my family, who didn’t/don’t believe in miracles, witnessed one! If you still don’t believe, I will believe for you! While all the chaos was going on in California, our neighbors, friends, and church connected. Most didn’t know each other prior to my illness. They gathered together in our driveway to pray for me, B and our family. They activated pray circles at many churches. One e-mail became forwarded to others who then sent a person to visit with us at the hospital! People we didn’t know praying for us! We have counted over 50 different churches praying for us – that’s just the ones we know of first hand!! These wonderful friends organized 2 weeks of meals for us! We were welcomed home with a poster signed by those attending the prayer vigil. What a blessing to know these wonderful people!

I had asked God to show me His goodness in this world. Be careful what you ask of God!! I would not have chosen this path, but God is using it to reach out to others, to bring together community and family, to share His love and goodness in this world.

Our God’s not dead! He is very much alive!

Romans 8:28    And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

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Hiking with God

Halfdome, Yosemite Copyright © photograph By Gene Rose Special to The Fresno Bee Copyright © 1997 The Fresno Bee

Halfdome, Yosemite
Copyright © photograph By Gene Rose
Special to The Fresno Bee
Copyright © 1997 The Fresno Bee

So, I’m going on a hike in 3 weeks. Not just any hike. This hike is 16 miles total: to climb Half Dome in Yosemite and back to the trail head. When my brother offered me this opportunity, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes”. I am thrilled to see God’s handiwork from that lofty view point! At the same time, it is daunting to think I will carry my pack of supplies and climb to over 8000 feet! I’m 52. I live in Houston. It is sauna – I mean summer. There are no mountains nearby to “practice” hiking for the altitude. Did I mention I’m 52? I haven’t done any serious hiking since I was 16. My heart and soul keep thinking of the communion with God during the hike: no TV, cell phone, ipad, etc to interrupt. Just hiking with God as my tour guide. It’s pretty awesome to be able to do this with one of my brothers – they are ALL older brothers. If he can do it, so can I. Selfie stick photo at the summit? Maybe not – I’d have to carry it the whole way. Did I mention I’m not a serious hiker? So all these thoughts are running through my brain, but how do I train? My brother is retired. He can hike 13 miles a day. I go to work for 6 hours of daylight. Did I mention it is summer in Houston? What to do, how to train, how not to die from the heat? I purchased the necessary equipment and borrowed a few things. First, break in the hiking boots. Check. Next, I put bottles of water in the backpack. Check. Find a good friend who will walk with me at 6 A.M. while I look like a homeless woman carrying her life’s possessions – and walking 2 dogs. Check. Add more weight to the classes at the gym. Check. Next, take backpack and hip-pack (btw: loaded) spend 1 hour on the treadmill or stair-climber before class at the gym. Check. Did I mention I’m 52? OK, I’ve done that and I can still move! Ask same good friend to walk inside (sans dogs) at the local hospital’s inner mall. It’s air-conditioned. Check. “Dear God, please don’t let me have an injury from training! I SO want to make this trip.” This has been my process. I know I can talk with God anywhere, anytime. Life can be busy and distracting. Reconnecting with Him while in nature is restorative, at least for me. It reminds me that He takes care of the birds and He takes care of me and my family. It gives me time to peel back the layers of everyday stress. So, my countdown has begun. I leave in 18 days. I have several theme songs: Superchick- “Go One More”, Tobymac – “Give Me That Funky Jesus Music”, and the song lyrics “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking cross the floor, put one foot in front of the other, and then you’ll be walking out the door” (from a Christmas kids’ special). For now, I am still 52 and going to hike Half Dome. Stay tuned for the aftermath!

Img-Activity-1.6.3.1-Climbing-Half-Dome[1]

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Obedience: An angel in disguise?

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

The other morning, I stopped at my regular Starbucks for my morning coffee. I have frequented this coffee shop on a regular basis since it opened more than five years ago. For the first time, I saw someone was washing the glass storefront. This young woman was diligently working, checking her work and moving on to the next pane. God whispered to me “give her a bottle of water”.  It seemed silly since she could ask for ice water inside and get it for free. Thankfully, I was obedient. I ordered my coffee and purchased the water.  I took the water outside to the woman and gave it to her. She turned to me with the most beautiful smile! and said “thank you”. Her smile is etched in my memory. Who is the angel here? I cannot say if I was her angel or if she was mine that morning. Is it always as simple as a bottle of water? It can be… I.E. moving a shopping cart, letting a car into your lane, helping someone with car trouble. Or, it may require more of your time and money… I.E. buying groceries for a homebound neighbor, visiting the hospital (does anyone like the hospital?), driving someone to an appointment completely out of the way. I can make it complicated. I am not always obedient. It is NOT about me, but I make it about me. It is about obedience to God’s nudging. So, try it today. Take notice of God’s nudging and be obedient. You may be someone’s angel!

 

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40

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The Answer is…

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

The question? In last week’s post, you will find it. The world can be distracting and I take my eyes off Jesus letting the circumstances around me dominate my mind.

Matthew 14:28-31

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.

Peter was distracted by the wind and waves. He took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. So many questions have the same answer: Jesus! It seems quite simple, but my earthly flesh rebels. I intend to read His word every day. Then, I oversleep, the dog gets sick, or some other bump in life misdirects me. It seems that’s the first thing dumped off the “TO DO” list. I have told myself, “I will read this afternoon,” and when afternoon arrives there are other bumps in my road. I have put Bible apps on my phone and tablet. Now I can read on my break time. Or just make time wherever I happen to be. I have to choose to do it, to focus on Jesus.

Luke 9:23 

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

The key is to follow Jesus DAILY- 24/7/365. I am still a work in-progress, diamond-in-the-rough. God has redeemed me and given me grace which is all-sufficient! Hallelujah! I hope some of you can relate to this…

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I Am a Rock? Really?

Seward_Alaska_12As the exponential growth of technology continues to facilitate instant personal communication with a myriad of contacts, it seems ironic that our ability to maintain meaningful real-life (as opposed to virtual) relationships is taking a nose-dive.   I know numerous people who suffer from depression, isolation, and loneliness, regardless of their intellect, variety of interests and hobbies, or charisma.  Indeed, the old song “I Am a Rock,” by Simon and Garfunkel, could serve as the anthem of our culture in this friendless, fatherless, motherless generation [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ealhxti03pk].  When I was young and this song was popular, that song served to shore me up in some kind of strong castle when I felt rejected by my peers; I remember these words encouraged me in my self-perceived virtuous resolve to manage everything on my own and avoid trusting other people.  Here are part of the words to this nearly-legendary song of my early teens:  “I’ve built walls,  a fortress deep and mighty that none may penetrate.  I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain. I am a rock, I am an island. Don’t talk of love, but I’ve heard the words before; it’s sleeping in my memory. I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If I never loved I never would have cried. I am a rock, I am an island. I have my books and my poetry to protect me; I am shielded in my armor, hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain; and an island never cries” (part of lyrics copyright by Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel).  I actually WAS the subject of ridicule, or at least, so I imagined, from my classmates; apparently reading foreign-language dictionaries and doing science experiments with plant hormones was NOT a typical pastime for a seventh-grader.  I also managed to strike out at kickball more than once; my failure in athletics only increased the shame of my bookworm status.  (Wearing ridiculously thick glasses didn’t help my image, either!)

However, the message of the Gospel runs in complete opposition to the proclamations of this song.   God didn’t design us to muddle through life as loners or hermits.   In the Bible, the only Person strong enough to navigate life (and all eternity) successfully in His own power and strength was Jesus Christ; He is the only Man referred to in Scripture as a Rock.  In I Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul describes Jesus as the Rock and explains that He was the Source of the water that God had brought out of the rock for the Israelites when they were thirsty in the wilderness (Exodus 17:5).   Although it seems odd that water would ever spring from a rock, this water is living water that will always satisfy (see John 4:10).  This water from the Living Stone is available to all of us. In John 7:37-38, we read that “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’”  Peter encourages us to come to Jesus, the Living Stone (I Peter 2:4), who has been rejected by men but is precious to God.  Jesus, the Living Stone that is the source of this supernatural Living Water (aka life itself).  In fact, many places in the Bible exhort us to rely on the Lord as our strength and depend on His power and resources rather than on our own.  Nowhere are we encouraged to wall ourselves in and sing an anthem to the isolating, fortifying power of our own rejection, no matter how enticing the lyrics or melody may seem.

Isn’t it interesting that the only One who CAN manage every aspect of life, for all eternity, on His own — with His own power, strength, and might — is the One Who chose of His own free will to create us for relationship, first with Himself and then with one another?  His tears of compassion for us are equivalent to water from the rock.   Father, forgive me for the times I have attempted to isolate myself and hide in my own self-appointed bunker of solitary confinement.   Call forth water from the Rock and cleanse me of my tendency to withdraw when wounded or disappointed, and empower me to continue to pursue relationship with You and with others.   Thank You for the Rock, Jesus — my strong Tower and Fortress, my infinite supply of life-giving Living Water!

Dry Hole, Stagnant Cistern, or Living Water?

Of late, I have been examining my motives for giving.   Do I give to get, or do I get to give?  Do I give in order to get something in return (thanks, value, credit, honor, a good image, or material increase for myself), or do I truly enjoy the privilege of giving away my money, time, talents, effort, with no thought of benefit to myself?   The answer is disappointing, if I am honest with myself.

I really should know better, as my parents taught me a lesson in giving that still speaks to me.  When I was about eight, they began giving me a small allowance of $1.25 a week.  Of that, I got to keep twenty-five cents.  Seventy-five cents went for milk money at school, and the other quarter was to be put in the offering plate at church. To this day, I remember my annoyance and disappointment:  I asked my mother why she and Daddy didn’t just keep the milk money and the church money and give it themselves to the school and to church. It seemed pointless  to give me something that was pre-designated for someone else.  As an adult, of course, I understand that this lesson in income and expenses was an important one, as most of a paycheck is used for fixed, regular expenses, such as rent and utilities.   As a child, however, this made no sense to me (especially the church part, as my parents were with me at church and could have put that quarter in the plate themselves).

The second memorable lesson occurred when I attended church with my now-husband after we graduated from college.  He put a bill in the offering plate, folded in thirds in such a way that no one could see the denomination of the bill.  Curious, I asked him how much he had given.  He replied, “Twenty dollars.”  Horrified and shocked, I stared at him and wondered why and how he could give that much!  (Keep in mind that this was in 1976!)  I mistakenly thought everyone was supposed to give a quarter, simply because that was what my parents told me should come out of my allowance as a child.  Somehow, I had missed the fact that offering percentages (along with other expenses) rise in conjunction with one’s total income.   

Recently, I have been meditating on the concept of giving, and how my views of giving can increase my risk of spiritual dryness or stagnation.  A simple example of a life-giving resource is the blood in the human body:  the same volume of blood so vital to life in all parts of the body does not just sit in one reservoir, but instead circulates continually through all the tissues and organs of the body, bringing life to every cell.  In God’s economy, this same principle of circulation applies to everything else:  our time, our money, our material possessions, our energy, our talents.  Since God is the source of every resource, both spiritual and natural, He could certainly keep it all and enjoy it all Himself.  Instead, He has chosen to use us, His people, as channels for His Kingdom “circulatory system.”  If I will be faithful to give away WHAT He directs and invest in the way He leads me to invest (personally, in relationships as well as finances), He will activate His divine process whereby He redeems, re-creates, refreshes, restores, reuses, and recycles the resources He has placed in me/invested in me.

The Bible speaks often  about God and the restorative power of His living water.  He is a spring of life, a fountain, a supplier of living, bubbling spiritual water that flows from our inmost being as believers. (See Jeremiah 17:13, Joel 3:18, Zech. 13:1; John 4:14; Rev. 7:17; Rev. 21:6.)  He is always moving, flowing, transforming us by His presence.  Just as He did not sit with all His resources in heaven and watch us perish, but instead gave a part of Himself, Jesus, to die for our sins, He expects us to give ourselves away, first to Him as our Redeemer, and then to one another.  The degree to which I give myself away will determine my stagnation level, as standing water that is hindered from flowing invariably becomes stagnant.   Worse yet, I could use up all my resources myself and be left with a dry hole I have dug all on my own!  Jeremiah 2:13 states: ” For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

I used to have trouble understanding the story Jesus  told in Matthew 25:14-30 about the man who went on a trip and entrusted his goods to his servants.  When he came home, he found that the servant to whom he had entrusted the most had invested his talents and made a profit.  The servant who had received two talents had done the same and had a return on his investment to give back to his master.  The third servant, who had only received one talent, had put his master’s money in a hole in the ground (a safe place, I would think!).  His master was not pleased and took away the one talent the man had been given.  As a financial conservative, this story bothered me for years.  However, now I am beginning to understand the difference between stagnation and flow.   God gives us gifts to be given away, not to hoard in fear.   What He has invested in us is for the purpose of edifying others (Ephesians 4:12).

My prayer is that God will deliver me from every fear, from my tendency to hoard resources, from my reluctance to engage in relationships with other people unless I am certain they are a “good risk,” and from my own selfishness.   He is faithful and will deliver me!   Thank you, Lord, for Your amazing generosity!  Help me to remember that all You have given me is for the purpose of giving to others (mercy, kindness, faithfulness, insights, knowledge, understanding, material possessions, finances), that they may be edified and You glorified.  Don’t let me hold on to what You are calling me to give away; let those things not spoil in my hands but be given away while fresh and full of life!

Rivers of Living Water

Ezekiel 47 describes a prophetic picture of God’s river of life:  it begins with a trickle of water flowing out from under the east side of the temple.  As the water flows, it expands in volume and strength, until it becomes a deep river that cannot be crossed (verse 5).  These waters are unusual, in that they convey healing wherever they flow; moreover, trees grow along the banks of the river — trees that bear fruit every month, trees whose leaves also bring healing.  What a picture of abundance, provision, and wholeness!  For Ezekiel, this picture forecasts God’s presence and provision for His people.  For us, as New Testament believers in Jesus, this scene represents the Kingdom work God longs to accomplish in and through us on a daily basis.

Paul makes it very clear that our physical bodies now serve as the temple of the Holy Spirit, the residence of God’s Spirit. In I Corinthians 3:16, he asks:  “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  In I Corinthians 6:19, he repeats the same question with slightly different words: “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  Later, in II Corinthians 6:16, Paul declares, “You are the temple of the living God.”  Since the Presence of the Living God dwells in us by His Spirit, His Presence should flow out from us, just as the river of life flowed from under the side of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision.  In fact, Jesus Himself declared this fact to be true when He stood up on the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the day when the celebration ceremony involved the pouring out of water.  He cried out: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  (John 7:37-38)

Sometimes I forget the power of His Presence within me.  I forget that the King of all Creation literally dwells in me by His Spirit.  I fail to call upon His healing water to flow in and through me, and I try to solve my problems and meet my challenges in my own strength.  Instead, I need to remember the One Who longs to pour Himself increasingly into me and out through me and allow Him free rein in my heart and mind.  He is more than able to provide “fruit for food and leaves for healing” on a daily basis.  His waters are too deep to run dry.  He is the God of more than enough!  He is after a river, not just a trickle! Father, may the living waters of your Holy Spirit fill me to overflowing!  Be honored and glorified, Lord Jesus!