The Pilot, The Pilot’s Wife

The Pilot

Twas the night before Christmas – Aviation Style

Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp, Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.

The aircraft were fastened to tie downs with care, In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots, With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.

I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up, And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.

When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter, I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.

A voice clearly heard over static and snow, Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively and quick, I’d have sworn that the call sign he used was “St. Nick”.

I ran to the panel to turn up the lights, The better to welcome this magical flight.

He called his position, no room for denial, “St. Nicholas One, turnin’ left onto final.”

And what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!

With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came, As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:

“Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun! On Comet! On Cupid!” What pills was he takin’?

While controllers were sittin’, and scratchin’ their head, They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,

The message they left was both urgent and dour: “When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower.”

He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking, Then I heard “Left at Charlie,” and “Taxi to parking.”

He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh And stopped on the ramp with a “Ho, ho-ho-ho…”

He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk, I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.

His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.

His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale, And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn’t inhale.

His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly, His boots were as black as a crop duster’s belly.

He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red, And he asked me to “fill it, with hundred low-lead.”

He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump, I knew he was anxious for drainin’ the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work, And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.

He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief, Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

And I thought as he silently scribed in his log, These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.

He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear, Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell,

“Clear!” And laying a finger on his push-to-talk, He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.

“Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction, Turn right three-two-zero at pilot’s discretion”

He sped down the runway, the best of the best, “Your traffic’s a Grumman, inbound from the west.”

Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night, “Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight.”

(From Dave Williams, Light Sport Aircraft, Facebook 12.24.2020)

Snoopy Flying Ace

The Pilot’s Wife

Just 3 years ago

After chants akin to nag

I gifted my true love

The journey to a flight bag.

Study hard he did so

Sans rain, sleet, and snow

VFR and 5 comps later

The man flies in the know.

But why should it end

With just takin’ to da sky

There’s always one more

Dream for this river guy.

Rolls and spins and water

Landings rather than surfs

In a home-built (or relic?)

Makes me blue like a smurf!

A hundred-dollar burger

And a few cool pics alof

Are my bennies for braving

The dreams of my spouse.

So ladies just do it

Love your man and take note

If his hanger is ever gets filled

This Master Gardener’s conservatory will have been built!

(From Yours Truly to my beloved Fly Bear, Steve!)

Merry Christmas Gentle Reader. JJ

So little. It’s still pretty

Full-time I used to serve others in my healthcare profession and now I can barely get a meal to my husband on a daily basis. My reserves for giving are diminished but not gone, or so he says.

Each night and morning I poured over my caseload, looking for the best ways to make the most of each patient’s time in occupational therapy. Shall I bring Sally a 2-pound weight that I picked up at Walmart or load up adaptive equipment for a better education and training session? Now I’m lucky if a couple of times per year, I can drop off a gift to a friend after one of my medical appointments. Or ride an exercise bike for 5 minutes in the middle of the night.

Sending a card for each birthday and gift for close family has shifted from 1) before his or her special date to 2) days or weeks afterwards. We apologize. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Then I send a PM (or is it DM?) to a friend via social media to ask how she is doing when I really need to pour out my own heart on how wretched I feel, the new symptoms and diagnoses that get added to my pile. Aren’t you tired of my tears Lord?

But enough of my sorry lot. Giving to others in my own strength will never balance the angst of my days. Pitching the good against the opposite is a mental exercise at best that risks the tasks being done for the wrong reasons; they barely even measure on the MET scale of physical activity anyways. What’s the point? My weak bones need resistive exercise as do my muscles that are softening by the day. Both my mind and my frame need REAL exercise. The kind that stretches me, tears down and re-builds muscle fibers for measurable strength. The kind that transcends a weary heart. But how is this possible? Gee. Looks like I need a refresher here on how this really works.

If I can only do a little then that little bit needs to be pretty enough. If I am to do anything significant then my strength must come from a source outside myself. I don’t have it. The Lord does! If He leads me through the Holy Spirit to these acts of grace then I trust that He will provide whatever is necessary to finish the task. This is true even if it stretches me beyond what I think I can do. His power is infinite! And if I can keep my eyes on my Jesus no matter the horror of my suffering then I know I will be stronger somewhere down the road than I ever could have imagined. Seeing our Lord’s power in our lives is how we grow our faith. Moving towards Him as He leads makes it so, makes us resilient as we go. And the more we follow His lead in His power, like a weak muscle trained over time, we will shine for His glory not ours. It’s really better that way anyways.

Doncha think, Gentle Reader? JJ

We are the People

In the book of Esther in the Bible, we learn of the near-miss annihilation of the Jewish nation because of the lies and deceit of one influential man, Haman. He first convinced King Ahasueras that Queen Esther’s Uncle should be targeted for generational feuds between their ancestors; not only Modecai but his entire people-group must be destroyed. Haman’s pride swelled as he bragged about his accomplishments to everyone, knowing his sinister plan about to unfold. But one sleepless night, God revealed to King Ahasueras through the reading of the King’s annals that Mordecai actually needed to be heralded as a hero for saving the King’s life years ago. Queen Esther and her people fasted then orchestrated events in which she could reveal the truth to her King. Haman and then his ten sons ultimately were hung on the very guillotine he had constructed for Mordecai! But what about the Hebrew nation? The edict by King Ahasueras to allow the people of Persia to destroy the Jews, including Mordecai and Queen Esther, would need to be addressed. The King turned to some very astute scribes to make the situation right, knowing that an edict by the King could not be reversed or rescinded. The Persians so feared the Hebrew nation (blessed by God) that many became Jews themselves. On the day which later became known as Purim, the Jews avenged their attackers, annihilating 75,000 Persians in their midst. The celebration of their victory continues to be celebrated to this day as the Feast of Purim.

I submit to you that metaphorically speaking, conservatives in America who believe in God are like the avengers of the Jewish nation of Persia. The parallels between this story in the Old Testament and the Presidential election in our nation are remarkable to me (with some important exceptions of course). Surrender to evil and its political ideology that is now out in the open in America, acting in unison like a Hamanian plot to destroy the once United States of America, is now set in motion unless we fast and pray like the beautiful Queen Esther. Then we must act accordingly. If we do not, I sense that we too will perish. The nation we love and our freedoms will be gone forever. Perhaps our President will seek the Lord’s wisdom some sleepless night, his modern-day legal scribes will figure out how to save our Republic, and Patriots will stand up for the freedoms that we hold dear. Will we “avenge” our attackers with truth and strength as unto the Lord such that observers will come to faith in the God through whom our nation was founded? You see I am going beyond an election here, don’t you? Of course I am. We are in a battle between good and evil, Gentle Reader. As the superpower of the world, I submit to you that the hearts of mankind are at stake right now, manifest in the events unfolding right now. The world is witnessing our nation falling apart and are all affected by it at some level.

Time is moving quickly. What will each of us be celebrating this Christmas? A feast like that of Purim or a pre-packaged COVID snack after the funeral of the once beautiful United States of America? We have survived a pandemic, riots in our streets, loss of small businesses that employ most of America, political upheaval unprecedented in our history, and paradoxical surges in our economy and military strength. We have brought peace to the world while the foundation of our own nation is crumbling. Now we the people have voted and it doesn’t even count. What a horrible way to end the year 2020! But it’s not over yet. There is something we CAN DO for the fate of the beloved nation where we shall live out our days. The Jewish nation stood up for what was right and all of the people of Persia lived in peace and prosperity for ten years until King Ahasuerus was murdered. (Yes, even after deliverance from evil, someone eventually succeeded in stealing the leader’s throne.) Our story is just as messy. People will die no matter who our President is and what political party is in power. The situation is just that volatile. The ultimate question for me is will we the people be avengers for the Lord, Jesus Christ as we fight for the nation He has given to us?

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, commemorating the final stages of the Pacific War theater of WWII.

Somewhere out there

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Somewhere out there

Is the thing for which our heart longs

Or so we think.

The answer to the question

The salve for the sore

Missing until found.

Simply not true Gentle Friend

For the One Who placed the need

Meets the angst of your days.

Turn to the Lord

Sooner rather than later

Lest another day be wasted searching to no avail.

Tough lesson for me tonight so back to Your Word I go for studying some more. Meet me there? JJ

The trials of discontent

Perhaps the greatest challenge a follower of Jesus Christ must face in his or her walk with the Lord is how to handle the evil that is in our world. When it touches our own lives in the form of discontent, when things are not as we think they should be and we are unable to accept it, then we may be tempted to break fellowship with the Lord our God. He has ordained the length of our days, the vessel in which we live, and every detail of our lives whether good or bad. Recently it occurred to me that not accepting His will for my life is a sin that keeps me from any form of peace. And now I know from wence it came.

A particularly horrific convulsive episode about a week ago left me whimpering on our bed. The searing pain in my neck and broken frame notwithstanding, I wondered for the several thousandth time, “how can I endure this level of suffering Lord?” My Jesus had shown me many incredible things through the trials of battling serious illness; my Jesus was always right there with me when I called upon His throne of grace. But like the old song goes, “Is this all there is?” Is this all there is to my life when entire beautiful days upon days are spent suffering in bed?

The truth that we see is not all that there is to know or behold in this life. Only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ do we come to understand what the fullness of life means. We will have both joy and sorrow. We confess our failings, surrender our will to the Lord, and receive the Holy Spirit, beginning our eternity right here in the midst of all the good and bad; He helps us endure all things for His glory. But I didn’t know all of this when I was 3 years old. All I knew is that a neighbor boy named Danny was babysitting us and molested me while I was taking a nap in my big girl bed. I knew where the pills were that my mother took. So at some point thereafter I crawled up onto the kitchen counter, opened the cabinet door, reached way up onto the top shelf, grabbed that bottle of pills and ate a bunch of them. The only other memory I have of the incident was feeling scared while lying on a gurney in a hospital. I must have been crying too because the images are unclear. I had to go to the bathroom. I asked if I could get up and go to the bathroom and a man said NO. I felt the warmth of the urine on my legs and underneath me as someone said something about pumping out my stomach. And then I was OUT.

In a single flash of a moment after that convulsive episode, I knew what the Lord was trying to tell me. Or at least I think I do! He was showing me that by taking those pills, even as a small child who knew she had been hurt badly by someone everyone trusted, I was trying to take away the pain and the life that God had allowed for me. My little mind could not bear what had happened to me. The reality that the ugliness of that scene was ordained by the same God who created me and crafted all of my days from beginning to this end was too much to understand. I would not have been old enough to say the words to my Mom or Dad describing what that boy had done to me nor felt safe doing so. My parents weren’t exactly touchy-feely type folks. Can a 3-year old feel shame? Dirty? Worthless? Overwhelmed? Traumatized? Terrorized? Surely! While I have known, grieved, and forgiven the players in this scene for a long time now, I didn’t know that my survival from that day forward in my own strength would be marred by discontent. Nothing in my life would be good enough, or so I thought, to make me truly happy or at peace EVER. The seeds of several of my character flaws were planted that afternoon. I know that it wasn’t my fault any of this happened. I was just a little kid. To survive abuse is actually a noble task and accomplishment. What IS my responsibility, however, is to figure out what to do with what happened to me, layer-by-layer as each level of understanding is revealed in my walk with the Lord over my lifetime. In due time we must all ask ourselves: Will I grow up damaged or will I heal and thrive? Fifty-seven years later, the wound from this particular scene finally healed completely.

I grew up in what you would call a “blue collar” family. My Grandfathers worked in their respective trades: my Dad’s father as an auto mechanic and my Mom’s father as a maintenance man/operator in the boiler room of an ice cream factory. My Dad got a job at the General Motors Tech Center as a non-degreed draftsman. Each of them were very skilled at their respective vocations. My Dad in particular, would end up redesigning slot car motors to make them among the fastest in the world and co-authored over 30 clutch-assembly patents with Borg Warner later in his life. Although each of them would earn a living wage to support his family such that their wives could stay home and raise the children, there was always an attitude that it was not enough. I have come to call this mindset a “scarcity” mentality. The adults in my family never seemed satisfied with the income or the lifestyle or the relationships to which they acquired. First it was my Mother’s Mom taking the last of her grocery money to purchase tickets in the Irish sweepstakes. If only she would win then she would be happy! I think she did win a time or two. I don’t think it ever changed much of anything though.

The harder part of this dynamic for me came from my parents, especially my Mom. “If only we could win the lottery” she would say, “then . . . .” fill in the blank with some material gain of some sort that she thought would solve our problems and bring happiness. Without realizing it, I adopted this mantra as well. It sure helped when my parents got divorced or when my Dad missed a visitation or when my Mom wouldn’t come home at night from her carousing adventures with Parents Without Partners. If we had a windfall of cash then it would solve all of our problems, right? This was back in the days before there was common knowledge that most people’s lives are not better when they win the lottery! Family relationships tank when relatives come calling for money and out-of-control personal spending often leaves the prize winner in debt not set for life! Sadly this mindset and experiences of abuse and trauma contributed to addictive behavior in my teenage and young adult years. What became my addiction of choice that I thought was my winning ticket out of my inner turmoil? Work-a-holism. I nearly drove myself into permanent injury working so hard at school, the early days of my career in healthcare, graduate school, and one relationship after another. By the grace of God, He showed me a better way when I learned about addictions when doing contract work at a large mental health hospital. My years continuing to seek answers ultimately led to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A new level of healing and a less frenzied pace of life began in my thirties.

That wasn’t the end of my discontent, however. Somehow I still looked more outside of myself than to the Cross for meaning, healing, self-worth, hope. A handwriting analysis in my youth said I was a very determined person. Well, yes, and that was not necessarily a good thingy! I sought counseling and studied God’s Word which did help me in many good ways. Yet like breaking in a wild colt, it still took repeated heavy tragedies from 2003 to 2007 to soften me for the biggest gift and the biggest trial that were yet to come. I am meeting you here after both of them: 1) marrying my Intended Beloved Steve and 2) enduring a serious illness that brought thousands of seizures virtually every day over 9 the past years. I have been grateful for the former.

Steve is an amazing man of God who loves me dearly as I do him. The serious illness not-so-much. I had never accepted the Convulsive Disorder or Dysautonomia or Dystonia or Functional Movement Disorder or Non-epileptic seizures or whatever you want to call it. What I came to realize this past week is that not accepting this illness is not a form of defeat. Rather, it’s not accepting that this is the Lord’s will for my life for my best good. It is the journey for me that will bring Him glory. And how am I handling it? I am denying His will for my life when I reject the pain and suffering that goes with the numerous blessings. Instead, I must trust that like all of the trials that have happened in my past, this illness serves a greater purpose. I may or may not ever really know what that purpose is. The episodes and medical complications may never stop. If I am to succeed at letting go of my discontentment with a traumatic event in my life at age 3 years old, I must also let go of the other thing that I hate in my life. Believing otherwise is believing a lie: a lie from the author of human suffering, sin, and death himself, Satan. No magical thinking (like a lottery mentality) is going to cover or remedy this lie. I MUST DENOUNCE my discontent, leaving it for my Lord to redeem.

How about if I repeat that another way:

No happiness or peace will come if I hold onto discontent over the Lord’s will in my life.

I knew in an instant, why that memory of me as a toddler came to me while grieving after another seizure. Both sorrows were and are part of my Lord’s Divine plan for my life. He will redeem my suffering one day and it will end. He will make all things new and good, and right; I will be whole. In the meantime, I am a steward of the experiences, people, places, and things He ordains for my life. My responsibility is to accept them with no expectations, no exceptions, no deal-making (“if only this . . . then that”), no holding back. So that night I let both sorrows go and wept deeply for a good long while.

Sometime later I shared my inner story of this incident with my beloved Stevers. He is warm and tender at these times as if to be my Jesus with skin-on. I am so blessed to be loved by this man after God’s own heart. His response? He marveled at how long abuse can affect the life of an abused person. Years. Decades. That a person can carry hurt his or her entire life because of the evil actions of someone who hurt them when they were little. I agreed. Yet for me, the hurt is never the same each time I get to revisit it. Each time I get to grieve some more. I get to heal some more. It takes what it takes. I get to see how the Lord uses even the ugly stuff to give me tools for coping and a gift of compassion for others. If I had not developed work-a-holism and that health challenge of hypoglycemia then I would have become an alcoholic. How do I know? My siblings and Mother were alcoholics, my Dad was mentally ill. One brother who overcame alcoholism struggled to find meaningful work then tragically had a stroke and was never able to function independently again up until he died earlier this year. He suffered with unspeakable pain and spasms every waking hour of his life. He had traded his bottles for cigarettes. What I am trying to say is that each of us had horrific wounds to overcome. Today I am the only one still here of my immediate family to write the stories. Oh Lord, may these words yield some goodness beyond the tales of sorrow for the goodness that is there too.

Because there is much redeeming value in our stories beyond the sorrows. Nothing is wasted Gentle Reader, in God’s economy of time and space. Letting go of the sin of discontent, perhaps after grieving its root-cause, is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He will bring you to it and see you through it. Healing is complicated and can take a very long time to process. Be encouraged. I tell you as in the song of Peggy Lee, the BAD is not all there is to a fire or the circus of the circumstances in our lives or a long lost love! There’s even more to life than the happiness of a fleeting moment such as in a windfall or slow dance with your beloved. Just go to the Cross. There you will find a peace that transcends all understanding. The best gift of all is waiting there for you this day, this night. He promises. On this we can rely.

Will you? JJ