Slow But Sure

What will it feel like to be almost normal again?

Will the days fill with meaning, the nights rest with pleasure?

Alas I know not what tomorrow will bring —

So it’s it will be in the smaller moments that I will define who I am, who I will be.

At least as long as it is up to me . . . and little is of course . . .

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An important decision came to me today that surprised me.  Oh there were the impossible ones that came in the hours beforehand which could be the subject of a tragic drama-blog here (ie. how to handle the seizure attacks overnight, sleep deprivation, heavy burdens, pain) but all that changed when I was catapulted awake at 8:17 a.m.  Could I make it to that appointment after all to the eye doctor?  They didn’t really cancel my appointment from that frantic message I left at 4:57 in the morning did they?  Well I was about to find out!

I pulled on some clothes; rushed back and forth throughout our humble abode; threw together the records, food, and drink I had loosely assembled the night before; and was practically out the door before my hubby emerged from shaving in the bathroom!  I’ll call the office on the way, I thought to myself.  And lucky for me my appointment time was still open for 8:45 a.m.  Holy cow.

Lord only knows how I function on days like these.  The headache pressed sharply into my skull with the plethora of medical testing and related tasks that fill my very full (medical) “work days” lately.  (That is a story for another time!)  Diarrhea delayed the first few steps of my eye exam as the technicians escorted me to rooms with various equipment, administered those dilating drops, etc.  So now my vision had become as blurry as my mental status.  Neat huh?  Sish.  Soon it was time to make some decisions about contact lenses and the potential replacement of eyeglasses.  Three years had passed since my last exam.  Clearly vision care has not been my priority of late!

I don’t even know her name yet her face will be memorable for many weeks to come.  The Optician in the big room with all those designer frames was an older lady with exquisite taste, professional temperament, mastery of her craft.  She quickly knew that I would benefit from some coaching in my selections and did so with style and grace.  I liked her eyeglasses, Silhouettes she called them, and decided it could be a new style that would work for me.  But was I ready for it?  Suddenly I realized that I was deciding about more than a functional facial dressing . . . no, I was crafting what presentation did I really want to make with my eyes, my facial expression to the world these days?

Makeup doesn’t work for me most of the time.  I do keep my hair colored and trimmed fairly regularly, styled about half of the time.  My clothing is rather casual favoring comfort not the fashion trends of the last decade.  Rarely do I adorn jewelry even though I had my own business making and selling colorful macramé jewelry for almost 3 years. My face has aged considerably.  The summer tan has faded.  I no longer wear contact lenses which used to give others direct visual access to my eyes, my soul.  My current eyeglasses with red and black frames are my only adornment, providing a little bit of covering behind which I can hide.

Soon I excused myself to the bathroom yet another time for a little moment of reflection.  Would I choose a new style behind which to mask my true self a little longer?  Yes it really does feel like that.  Would it be frames where the focus is on the shiny rhinestones or metallic finishes instead of the tender woman peering out from behind them?  Only after a few tears later did my choice become clear.  I selected the ones like those my teacher was wearing today.  Kind of like I did with Mrs. Heitkamp back in the 5th grade.  (Oh how I loved her so!)

Far be it from me to miss a moment where I can slowly but surely find a little extra meaning in what is happening and move forward too.  I really do want to be well some day and by golly I hope that my attention to the little things will help me to get ready for that day.  It’s just a pair of eyeglasses right?  Maybe so.  Behind them this time will be a little more of me and a little less of something else blocking the view of the woman inside coming back into view.

1 Peter 3:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

If you are in a battle right now too, Gentle Reader, please do not lose hope.  Please don’t hide.  Our Lord Jesus Christ yearns for fellowship with each of us as He dresses the heart, infuses the spirit, loves the broken, and leads us to His throne of grace full of splendor beyond compare.  We are beautiful in His sight!  One day I pray that we will see these truths ever so clearly as the pains of this world give way to His richest glory forevermore.

And for that we are definitely going to need sunglasses, eh?  JJ

sunglasses, hiding, worth in Christ, Christian, woman, identity, self worth, self esteem, illness, disability, overcoming, recovery, getting well

 

 

 

 

A missed opportunity to minister

James 1:2-8 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Perhaps it is a weakness in my character that requires refinement?  To witness the love of Christ to others in our times of trial serves as both a powerful witness for Christ and perfector of our own faith.  Heck, with the amount of suffering I have endured, I don’t want any of it to be wasted.  Or repeated!  So today I wonder if it is possible that I have missed one particular situation of opportunity:  the Emergency Room.  Finally my broken heart has calmed down enough to consider the possibility . . .

Ten times I have landed in the ER in the past 4 1/2 years.  The first time was at the beginning of this illness with the viral hepatitis that started it all.  The next nine trips were all for wretched, continual seizure attacks that would not stop.  Most times the ER Docs could get them and the pain that accompanied them to stop with a combination of fluids and some kind of medication.  Often the medication made me worse.  Usually I would walk out of there about 5 hours later as a beaten puppy with an exhausted husband faithfully at my side.  And sometimes I even got a break in the convulsive episodes for some of the subsequent 24 hours.  This became less true with each subsequent visit.

Twice during my severe distress, barely able to punch out a few words when having difficulty breathing and my “brain on fire,” I have sworn at the person who I thought was not helping me.  Not cool.  Even a person with Tourette’s Syndrome or senile dementia has some responsibility to try to find reasonable means to communicate his or her needs.  My frustration got the best of me and I forgot who I belong to in Christ.  I forgot Who was in charge those nights in the ER.  I forgot who allowed these refining fires into my life for my highest good.  I lost the image He gave me of His tears as He hung from the cross for me.  I ceased to remember the gifts, the crown of glory that awaits those who are in Christ Jesus.  I certainly did not remember that even these ugly things were working together for my good (Romans 8:28) even when amongst the staff at the hospital.  And my witness for the One Who saved me was tarnished for sure.  In my own strength, I failed to get my needs met and failed to minister.  We left this past Friday night with me weeping, still seizing, and unable to walk . . .

Sure, I am human:  weak, limited in strength and in power.  I pray and my husband prays continuously for all aspects of this illness.  I submit to the will of Christ.  I could also describe for you the victories, the growth, the good things that have happened amidst the traumatic.  For example, Friday night after an IV treatment for chronic Lyme disease was supposed to be for salvaging what remained of my birthday.  That did not happen when I spent the evening in the emergency room.  I was sick all day on Saturday and Sunday.  Even so there were sweet gifts at dusk on each of those days and in the morning on Monday when I got to work in my garden again; for that I am grateful.  My spirit soars out there dontcha know . . .

Here is the scripture that is convicting me on a Tuesday.  See if you can follow where my heart, where my spirit has led me:

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (NIV)

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Such is the opportunity for ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for those who suffer.  It’s not all about us.  My Lord, help me in your grace to use the witness of Your own life and the apostle Paul who wrote these words to strengthen my own ministry in times of need for your glory.  I have failed and want to do as You would have me do no matter what happens to me.  Please strengthen my beloved Steve as well.  Thank you for his care, love, and companionship in the best of times, the worst of times.  Bless him oh please.  He has been so good to me.

1 Peter 5:4, crown, glory, submit, His will, crown of glory, thy will be done, purpose, suffering, hope, Jesus Christ, reward, heaven