In a tiny rural community of Arizona called “Skull Valley” (there are many stories as to how the town got its name), my good friends Diana and Charles Taylor have a house on a large plot of land complete with two guest houses and a tree-shaded pond. They moved here in the mid-1990s at a time when Diana was enduring long and painful treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. We nearly lost her. She can even tell the story of how she knew she was gone at one point and she could feel the “breath of Jesus.” Diana and I had been prayer partners. Our two sons were prodigals and we began a vigil of prayer that included not a little warfare. We were knit together in many of life’s ordeals; to lose her was unthinkable to me and I reminded God of that every hour on the hour. He heard. She lived. It was only one of many such upheavals in our lives, upheavals which would lead us to that ever deeper, ever sweeter relationship with Jesus. Diana and I can meet for a simple lunch and talk about Him for hours—really, hours. Time flies swiftly by as though we are transported into that other dimension where there is no time. Hers was the first such friendship I had where the true meaning of “fellowship” was made known to me. Now I understand—it is when Jesus is the center of the conversation and He provides a feast of fellowship—it is a feast for the soul; a small taste of what eternity must be like. When I think of our fellowship I think of Malachi 3:16-17 (NKJV) “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.’””
He overhears our conversation. His ears perk up when we speak to one another about Him and He leans in to listen and He writes it in His book of remembrance. This is fellowship. For me, fellowship is not only getting together and discussing the latest fashion or restaurant or political situation. It is not merely getting together over a meal. Fellowship invites Jesus Himself into the conversation; He becomes the meal.
I lost my husband to a debilitating disease called Dementia after four years of care-taking for him. Because I journal, I kept close details of this journey which I later felt would be useful as a book for others who are facing this disease. Diana is a writer and she was thrilled to learn than I might write a book. As is typical for Diana, she didn’t push and prod, she just made opportunities available for me to learn more about the writing/publishing process and she encouraged me along the way. Diana was one of those who, when I was at a low point in my husband’s illness, told me that God was going to use this one day in a powerful way in the lives of others. It gave me strength to go the next few steps. It said to me “There is life after dementia,” which I so desperately needed to hear. And so, after much encouragement, I wrote the book and self-published it.
In January of 2010 a season of testing arose in my life which I was not sure I could endure. Someone I loved and cherished more than life itself walked away from his family, the Lord and me. In this season, the enemy came in like a flood and ravaged my soul with blame, accusations. Middle of the night panic and fear and swept away all of the things I had learned about abiding in Christ during my husband’s illness. It was a formidable enemy. It was a Tsunami; waves of muddy, foamy surf rising and taking everything in its path from solid foundations into tumbling churning chaos. For me, emotionally, it was a roller coaster as one day I would rise up courageously, proclaiming the victory of Jesus, standing and declaring Jesus and His word over this enemy, and the next day plunging into a deep pit when the enemy came from another direction with a new scheme. Never in two years, did the assault abate.
At the end of the two years, Jesus Christ had won, miraculously and powerfully. My heart soared as I proclaimed “Thanks be to God who always leads us in victory in Christ Jesus!” (2 Cor. 2:14 NKJV).
Along with the victory, I also realized that I was weary. I was spent, especially during the last hours before the breakthrough. I sent my friend Diana a message asking if I could come and spend some time at the guesthouse to recuperate, write and draw near to Jesus alone. Her response was immediate—“I will ready the house, come when you can.” And I did. For five days I cried, wrote, slept, prayed, and He came near. I knew that this time of respite was a time for Jesus to “bind up my broken heart and heal my wounds” (Psalm 147:3 NKJV).
Diana says that this beautiful peaceful place in Skull Valley is a healing place. Those who have come here to stay for a season have come for healing and they leave healed. Diana herself is healed. My heart is humbled and deeply thankful to my Lord for providing me with the kind of fellowship that doesn’t require high maintenance; it is maintained by Him and it is always safe. Thank you Diana and Charles, for your healing place. I’m certain this address is listed in His “Book of Remembrance.”