Blueberries take a stroll . . .

blueberry, buckle, compote, crumble, bake, Valentines Day, special occasion, humor, funny, baking, loveI wasn’t exactly thinking of baking a blueberry dessert when the little rascals from my Big Box Store shopping extravaganza were scrambling all over our driveway the other day!  Oh dear.  My beloved will probably be reading this.  I washed them off Steve, truly I did!

Such is the caper of the rogue blueberries:  I opened the passenger side door of my truck to a splash of little purple berries spilling out onto the concrete beneath my feet.  I ended up stepping on one or two as I stepped back to figure out what had happened.  Squish!  They had rolled underneath the truck, in front of the door, all around my feet, down the driveway, and even past the sidewalk 20 feet away.  Geez oh man!  Good thing for cracks in the sidewalk or the courtyard would be a “hazy shade of Winter” too!  Maybe they wanted the freedom from their cramped clam shell cave into the cloud-covered, 30+ degree air?  I dunno.  I was getting cold so I set myself to rescue all that I could quickly without crushing them . . . two by three.  Blueberries on the loose are not easy catch you know!

Two days later I had figured out that the day AFTER Valentines Day would be a perfect occasion for putting my little treasures to good use.  I didn’t even use a recipe and yet I was able to concoct a gluten-free wonder made with a stick of butter, chopped pecans, and slightly sweetened coconut cream topping that would seem to get along well together.  Yes!  It was yummy!

So let this be a lesson for bakers everywhere.  If you want a great homemade treat for a special holiday and exceedingly wonderful someone, rough up the ingredients on the pavement first.  The beating will soften them and you just enough to get your creative juices flowing.  The delectable dessert prize surely will soothe your taste buds long enough to make you forget about your sore knees and the blue stains under your fingernails!

Your sweetie will like it too.  ;JJ

 

 

 

The Price of Admission

Garfield2016-01-15

Garfield tells it like it is and that is the way I like life to be as well . . .  No pretense here, ever!  He must be chemically sensitive too?  I digress . . .

To get well from a serious illness, one consistently pursues recovery as if he or she is on a journey, not sprinting as if in a race.  My journey of late has included a trial of molecular hydrogen, nebulizing sea water to ease a chronic sinus infection, and experimenting with a Glutamate-Aspartate Restricted Diet (GARD).  Yeah it’s never just one thingy with me!

Some additional research and a consultation with my Doc suggested a link between the GARD, sinusitis, and latent Lyme disease that might be addressed with a course of antibiotic treatment.  Yes, IV or IM Rocephin may address all three.  Rat studies have shown that Rocephin can lower glutamate levels thus helping to raise seizure threshold.  Since I am a card-carrying lab rat anyways it seemed logical to go for a trial of antibiotics for a week then re-evaluate my tolerance for it during my next Doc appointment in 7 days.  Very likely the treatment will continue for several weeks.  Today was treatment day #1.

I began this process pressing forth to complete a lab test beforehand so as not to skew the results with the upcoming antibiotic.  The preparation required a restricted diet of only 2 foods for 24 hours, fasting, and some stressful sampling procedures all ending just one hour before the first IV treatment at the hospital.  The Lord sustained me as I assembled the kit and wolfed down a supremo salad that I had prepared the night before.  I left our home shortly after the FedEx truck picked up the completed test kit while giving our dog something to bark, bark, bark about.  The wings of my Savior, Jesus Christ carried me to the hospital on just 3 1/2 hours of sleep:  less nervous and ready to blast the heck out of whatever might be keeping me sick.  Let’s do this!

Not so fast though!  Just before heading into the Outpatient Clinic I had a violent expulsion of stool!  Whaaaaat?  Good golly!  Looks like the Lactulose test prep was taking effect all at once!  Now what should I do?  I was soiled through all of the layers of clothing I had worn to keep warm.  Fortunately this all happened in a hospital where they have linens and hospital scrubs available.  Alright so I cleaned up, put on the call light, confided my plight to one of the nurses, changed my fashion motif a bit, and returned to my chaise lounger a little wet, a little shook up from everything.  let’s do this?

The biggest hurdle for me in receiving the 50+ IV treatments and 50+ lab draws I’ve had these past 4 years has always been the needle stick procedure.  Virtually every time a needle either goes in or out it triggers massive convulsive episodes.  Fortunately Jennifer, the RN, has more tricks for poking rolling, spindly veins than anyone I have ever seen for care.  The first stick failed resulting in the usual shakes and shouts.  So we just waited until my world calmed down and I got a few more moments of the best distraction ever under my belt:  HGTV on the little swing-away monitor at my station!  Watching Island Hunters and the like has saved me from tears many times for sure.  (Such a treat!  We don’t have cable service at home.)

Gratefully the second stick was successful.  Gratefully there were no ill effects during the infusion just fatigue.  Gratefully I was able to run an errand to the meat market secretly in wet jeans underneath my scrubs before returning home.  Gratefully the nap came easily after showering and without seizure attacks.  The hell returned later in the evening but overall I got away with at least one fewer episode today.  God is good.  He carries me through so much!

I ask the Lord often why things always have to be so difficult for me?  I really don’t get any answers other than to know that He sees my suffering and promises to love me through it all.  That love is tangible in the graciousness of my beloved husband, Steve, who listens to my stories and sees me through the roughness that characterizes some part of every day.  Perhaps someday I will get to see why the “price of admission” for me to get through my life has been so devastatingly high.  This stuff ain’t for wimps ya know!  In the meantime I will carefully wrap the IV in my arm before showering, clean myself up, run more loads of laundry, and shed some tears along the way.  I am not alone and know what to do.  I have been through IV treatments before and so have many of my fellow sojourners.  We can do this!

At least now there is fresh bacon in the house.  And that Gentle Reader is a mighty good thingy!  I am sure Garfield would agree!  JJ

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Therefore, send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.  (John Donne, 1624.  Meditation 17.  Devotions upon urgent occasions.)

man riging bell

Such is the reflection of these famous words scripted by John Donne and later repeated by Ernest Hemmingway in one of his most famous works of literature.  The intent of each author is to emphasize the interdependence of humanity; no man can truly live or function as an island.  Whether we live or die, honor God or blaspheme His name, our actions at some point will touch the lives of others around us given time and opportunity.

Case in point:  I’ll never forget that day in Dominicks, a grocery store in the west suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  It was my day off from work and I was picking up a few groceries before heading home.  I’m not sure why I was dressed up while running a few errands . . . I do recall wearing my nice and warm, long wool coat to fend off the early Spring chill still lingering outside.  Suddenly at the end of the aisle was my good friend’s dad!  He said a cherry “hello” and explained that he was in town visiting for some family occasion.  Mr. Y. always had a gracious way about him:  asking permission to tell you another story or joke before parting ways.  He laughed about me humoring an older person by talking with him or something like that then shared a quick note to give his regards to my husband.  I looked him straight in the eye.  He had no idea.

Immediately Mr. Y knew something was wrong.  I walked closer to him, recognizing that I was about to open my heart in the middle of a grocery store aisle!  My former spouse was discovered in an affair less than 3 weeks before.  Intervention from our church had begun and my life was in turmoil as my heart was still reeling in crisis mode.  It didn’t help that my grandmother had also died and I was in the middle of facilitating the refinancing of our home (not knowing if I would be living there in the future or not).  All of that stuff was about me and my drama.  What I did not expect was the look on Mr. Y’s face when I told him my story.  Do you know that look in the movies when someone has just been punched in the stomach so hard the person could not breathe?  The smile on his face turned to anguish.  He could not speak.

Mr. Y’s reaction showed me the reality of love between the body of believers or those who call Jesus Christ Lord and Savior.  We bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We know what it means from a human level, a heart level, and a violation of God’s plan for us when a brother in Christ falls.  Craig probably never realized that his actions affected so many people and perhaps did not care.  This was astounding to me.  He was a leader in our Bible church and a gifted Sunday school teacher.  Craig excelled in his work in the mental health field, loved working out, and was quite good at photography.  He loved a good philosophical discussion and we had many.  It is a matter of history that my coming to faith in Christ was facilitated by these very sessions:  Craig helped answer many of my questions and led us to both a seeker-friendly church then a smaller, more intimate body of believers.  I got saved because I dated Craig.  In that Bible church is where I had met Mr. Y and became good friends with his daughter, Deb.  Friends like this are closer than my own family at times.

So where am I going with all of this?  When I am home alone every day, not even leaving the house for days on end, of course it is easy to forget the love of dear friends and family in my life.  Sure the pup looks up at me with soft brown eyes when I walk into the kitchen but it’s just not the same!  My intended beloved, Steve, is away from home a lot and often into the early evening.  Since I don’t feel well most of the time I just stay home if I don’t have an appointment or urgent need for food!  This week was particularly dry in this regard.  As it turns out, most of the week was devoted to adjusting to a new treatment we’re hoping will eliminate the daily seizure-like episodes.  I slept or moped about most of the week anyways; I didn’t notice that I was by myself as the quiet was itself healing medicine.  When I come out of this fog of late and I’m still isolated at home, I must remember that I am totally never alone.

Do you have this confidence Gentle Reader?  We are connected by this blog.  For that I am humbled and honored, that you have taken the time to step closer to me.  We probably resonate some on the issues of life or you would not have chosen to stop by when so many other bloggers have their own yada yada yada to share.  Our connection will be even more meaningful to me if I know that it goes beyond my stories and our simple humanity to the very essence of what gives meaning to life:  a shared faith in God through His son, Jesus Christ.  If you do not yet have the peace, love, and joy that comes from knowing the Lord intimately then I invite you to step before the throne of grace today.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and seek Him with a sincere heart through the Bible, His words.  When we repent and invite Jesus into our hearts we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; we are never alone again.  Please tell me what you find, k?

For those of you who share the love of Christ already:  I look forward to meeting with you one day!  Whether in this life or the next, we’re going to have a great time celebrating the glorious riches of a life surrendered to our King.  Standing in the presence of the Lord will wash away our tears and troubles bringing joy beyond what we could ever see today.  May the glimpses of His holiness and glory in the goodness that surrounds each of us sustain you, encourage you, and lift you up until we arrive in our eternal home.  Therein the bell will toll with tales of triumph for all of us.  Such a sweet sweet sound that will be!

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question

Shall I blog for my own aggrandizement or to edify the Lord?

If I sign my name and not His with His Word, have I turned the attention to my finite mind and wisdom instead of His omniscience?

Will the cutsy comics and quips create a stir in the moment and not an eternal fire in the hearts of men and women?

Can coping for the moment or finding the next cure become a substitute for finishing the race of life well no matter what, for His glory, His purpose, His plan?

If suffering is my best result in this life, will it still be wasted if I do not see the fruit of my labors and toils in the next 24 to 48 hours?

The apostle Paul wrote many letters inspired by God while in chains, in prison, in recovery from tortuous beatings and deplorable conditions.  If we own a computer and can read this, we will not be able to fully understand how God used this broken man to change the world forever.  He had His own infirmities on top of this such that others had to record the words for him so that we would know the heart of God centuries later.  God’s Word, though Paul inspires me to look beyond the blog, the news headline, the Facebook posting for real, enduring answers and truth.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.  (Phil 1)

The questions noted earlier are among the important questions for Christian bloggers no matter what the topic of conversation.  I doubt that each of us will ever really know the answer to the question, “why do I blog?”  Oh we might think we have a purpose, a theme, a mission for our works .  .  .  I just hope that for me, my words have little to do with my drama and more to do with the One who created me!

24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:     that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,     justice and righteousness on earth,     for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.  (Jer 9, NIV)

Your thoughts?