The plan began with a desire to see my husband’s family for an upcoming holiday. But gathering in Texas would require 2 very long days of driving for us, pulling a travel trailer. One family member suggested we meet in Arkansas instead which would be closer to the university where a younger family member is studying. Cut off one full day of driving for us? Yes, let’s go to Hot Springs, Arkansas instead.
This plan continued with the hope that we could camp at the RV Park inside Hot Springs Village. My Mother-in-Law has a house in the Village and we would be closer together. But the campground will be under construction for the months of November and December to have sewer hook-up lines installed. It’s going to be closed! Yes, let’s go to an RV Park about 30 minutes away on top of a picturesque mountain top instead.
The plan originally included having Steve’s daughter travel with us then the idea popped up to have both of Steve’s daughters stay with us in our travel trailer. Oh what a blast that would be! We now have the room to accommodate them but I simply cannot do so at this time. I was devastatingly sick for 4 days this past week when some new fragrances triggered my worst symptoms of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Geez, we don’t even know how we will have family over during the Christmas holiday let alone have them visit overnight when both are back in town. (Our attempt in September failed.) But to stay in closer quarters of a travel trailer while away from home in a less-controlled environment? Yes, we want to be together but no, let’s at least travel and stay separately this time. Again really.
This plan got even more complicated when planning our trip scheduled for departure not long after that horrific flare up last week. I saw my newer Functional Medicine Doctor who spoke frankly and clearly: I don’t think you should travel now. What? She said it would set me back even further, even if she could find a replacement for a treatment that contributed to the flare-up last week. So her recommendation posed a dilemma for my saint of a husband who wants to see his elderly parents-n-family AND be with me. Did I mention that our wedding anniversary is coming up? But I really don’t want to be alone on a holiday much less our anniversary! Yes, we want it all and may need to split up the holiday into a shorter trip, a shorter anniversary celebration. We are used to compromises.
The planning behind the scenes for this month involved a recall notice for our new-to-us travel trailer. We bought it after the original owner had it for about 3 months so we never got the national recall notice; it was for a safety feature that could pose a grave threat if not corrected. We found out about the recall in a Facebook group! Nineteen phone calls over the past 15 days resulted in a plan to have the recall work done at a local RV repair shop. But it got too close to our potential departure date to get the trailer to the shop-and-back: 2 trips of 3-hours of travel each time. Yes, we are no longer travelling with the travel trailer so we have more time now to get it fixed!
This trip required me to get the oil change and tire rotation for my truck that was coming due. We just figured out that we were not travelling cross-country but I decided to get the maintenance done anyways. On the way to dropping off my truck at the shop last night I HIT A DEER! The impact trashed the right-front quarter panel and headlamp of my Nissan Frontier. The turn signal stopped functioning correctly. There is no way we could travel cross-country (which always includes nighttime travel for us) with a damaged headlamp. Yes, you can see now that the door to travelling this holiday is now fully closed.
The plan may change to include my hubby travelling alone for a shorter time while I rest up; we are holding our breath for now. But what if it snows? He needs new tires on his car before the next time it snows, according to the professionals. Yes, we will find $800 for tires if we need to . . . That’s about how much a longer trip would have cost anyways, if we helped with housing for Steve’s daughters. Which we would offer, of course.
This but that, but this! Such is life in this fallen world in which we find ourselves. Many times I have said that when the trials have come, seemingly often of late, that I am holding out for the hope of heaven. Heaven indeed. The late Pastor Billy Graham wrote:
Paul wrote, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19). But our hope isn’t only for this life! In the midst of life’s storms, our hope in God’s promise of heaven is “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).
He said that if we are ever going to live for Christ, then do it now. I was reflecting on these themes when I was emptying the trash the other day. I hit my head leaning over to remove the top of the can as the can was positioned between the toilet and the bathroom sink cabinet. The top slid back behind the toilet, my head brushed against the toilet paper dispenser, and something fell back there too. I wondered if in heaven things like emptying the trash would always go smoothly? Then I realized that there is no trash in heaven! We know this from Revelation 21:4 that tells us:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I imagine that there will be no long days of driving with cracked headlamps, recall notices, endless phone calls to make things right, separation from loved ones, suffering, cramped bathrooms or travel trailers, worn tires from roads traveled, nor heartache in the dwelling place of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is a plan upon which we can depend for those of us who believe. Now that’s a trip I’m already on. How about you Gentle Reader? JJ
A transition was coming. I did not know that at the time. I longed for a change of some sort yet continued to struggle. And then the Lord moved in a BIG WAY. Did the man the Lord used to help me know the difference he had made?
I was two years into the role of a divorced woman and much of the rough road had become smoother. The Lord provided a cute condo just for me in a nice suburb of Chicago, a “little black race car,” and good job. Physical limitations required me to work 3/4 time yet gratefully my profession of occupational therapy pays well so I could still support myself. It was still a tough time in my life. The stress contributed to a back injury that put me out of work without pay then right when I might default on my mortgage payment I was able to return to work. Amazing. And that is how the Lord provided for me during a total of 3 tough years: just in time, right on time, and only after completely submitting to my Heavenly Husband and Father.
The Thursday night Bible study at the home of Pat and Mary was an important refuge for me during those years. Pat brought to life the books of the Bible with detailed history and applications that made a difference for all of us. He led us in prayer where we lifted each other up before the Father in the name of Jesus Christ; the love was palpable. Members came and went yet were never forgotten. Most of them knew my former spouse from years together in that living room. It didn’t matter later on. I am grateful that Craig led me to the fellowship that would make a difference then and even this past weekend. Here’s why.
His name escapes me of the younger-than me gentleman who was a part of the Bible study who offered to help me with my car. I understood that he was happily married with children and thriving in the IT field. I needed a new battery for my Honda Civic but could not find the money for it. Through Pat within the following week, I learned that the guy whom I barely knew had offered to pay for it! I was grateful and humbled. Life went on and the car worked great however I did not see this man again for many weeks on a Thursday night. I’m sure I sent a thank you note but never got to tell him in person the difference and encouragement that came from his actions.
And then my life changed again: my mother passed away. I was already exhausted from the grievous circumstances surrounding her death and, at the same time, grateful that I got to see her out-of-state the day before she died. Incredible. Then much to the surprise of my brother and I, she had left behind an inheritance that would meet all of my needs in the near future. Whew. Such a paradox! So many mixed emotions. I had no idea; I thought she had squandered her hard-earned income that came from years working as an office manager at Hercules Machine Tool and Die in the Detroit area. There was more leftover. My brother and I had more to focus on than this so we each proceeded as we thought best while dealing with our childhood home, his ultimate need to find another place to live, etc. An extended family member’s role saw to all of that for sure as my Mom’s chosen Executor of her estate. (No, that was not me.)
So I decided to purchase a new car! And then I felt guilty! So I sought the counsel of my Bible study leader who taught me to enjoy the Lord’s financial blessing yet hold it lightly. As a Christian the stuff of life has no eternal value yet we are to be good stewards of the resources bestowed to us. I tithed then proceeded with my purchase, enjoyed my saweet Hyundai Tuscon. Sure was nice having a good vehicle to take me to-and-from my new love interest in Indiana. Things started looking better in some ways, in others there was still a cauldron of confusing emotions.
The gentleman who bought me the new battery for my old Honda Civic showed up sometime later at the Thursday night Bible study. I was at the stage of purchasing the new car and trading in the old one, sharing my incredible mix of events. The look on his face seemed to express “incredulous.” Not sure if he was happy for me or sad. His donation of a new battery was now in the hands of an unknown party. The look on his face stayed with me for the next ELEVEN YEARS. Did he know that his encouragement gave me the courage to go on with my life? To trust in the provision ultimately of my Heavenly Father? I didn’t think so. And I never got an opportunity to thank this man in person; he left shortly after the end of our prayer time that night.
Eleven years later I ran into Pat and Mary at the Memorial Service of a brother in Christ: this past weekend. We laughed, we reminisced, we spoke of our mighty Lord and how He had restored the years the locusts had eaten in my life, twice! (Well, probably more than that actually!) My intended beloved, Steve, and I enjoyed a lovely time of fellowship with Pat and Mary in addition to many others who helped walk me through those important years when I worshiped at Village Bible Church; many were there on Saturday. Before we left I had to ask Pat one more thing: did the gentleman who bought me the new battery ever knew the incredible blessing he gave me? Did he understand that I really needed it at the time? That his actions gave me the courage I would need to move on when a time of financial restoration would follow, albeit quickly? Pat said that he did. He said that it was a blessing for him to help me. Sigh. Really? Oh Lord, I do hope so.
The gentleman’s name is Rich. Lord, please bless Rich and his family, work, and life this day. Let him know the generosity and goodness that you brought to me so many years ago and lead Him in your ways always. I pray that he continues to seek you and bless others with what gifts you have given him as he did for me. May our Lord be glorified in all this goodness that comes to any of us amidst the trials of this life. Your fingerprint is here for me, for Rich, and for you too, Gentle Reader. In due time for those who believe in the name and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we shall be lifted up and made new one day, sharing in the glory beyond our wildest dreams. Tis a decision worth making, a journey worth taking. Thank you Jesus for Pat and Mary too. I pray that you bless them as well for their faithful teaching and living every day for You.
1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Here’s a post from last week when I almost didn’t know where to put my focus at any given moment. Maybe it’s time for a brain dump, prayer, and some quiet before the mayhem?
The bout of pneumonia is largely past now with occasional coughing spells and nasal rinses to get me through the occasional flare-ups. Unfortunately this illness has exacerbated the seizure attacks when trying to go to sleep. It is definitely time for an adjustment to my specialized dental appliances however the trip to go see my Craniomandibular Specialist got cancelled due to the pneumonia. Oh well, the fact that it has been raining in Florida virtually every day for the last few weeks including a tropical storm this week makes me glad we were not camping in all that mess. Ever camp and travel in hot, muggy, wet conditions with a large dog? Yeah, it would have been a moldy, muddy mess for sure!
We are in the process of selling our Livin Lite Camplite 16 DB that has served us well for the past 4 years. We very likely will need to accommodate one or more family members during some upcoming travel so we are pursuing the financing of a more suitable travel trailer. This is a week of finalizing the sale of our “Tin Can Ranch” and the purchase of the new unit, Lord willing, requiring many tasks and 2 long days of travel: one day this past weekend to scope out the new travel trailer and another day soon to go pick it up. Travelling a total of 4 days to my medical appointments in Florida was out of the question yet 2 shorter trips over the period of a week was more doable yet very tiring. No problemmo. My beloved River Bear is a skilled “bus driver” too! The cancellation of medical and other appointments this past week (because we were supposed to be out of town!) has allowed for plenty of time for rest-n-naps! Hopefully the new owner of the 16 DB will be able to solve her delays soon as well.
Things got crazy when late Sunday night in the middle of the Memorial Day weekend we found the perfect travel trailer and price point for our situation! Within 24 hours of the posting of the listing and us finding it, we were on the road and ultimately making an offer. Do you think that the Lord cares about the special thingies of our lives? I submit to you that He does. The morning of Memorial Day that we were scrambling to take a day-long road trip to see the travel trailer, Steve sold a performance surf ski for his River Bear Racing! We delivered it to a gentleman along the shores of Lake Erie then headed south to check out the new Camplite. A week later it was in our driveway! However, the timing of this transition has found us with TWO travel trailers, much paperwork, a couple of trips to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, yada, yada, yada. We are a little nervous but trusting the Lord that things will also be resolved in time for our first camping trip in June . . .
Looks like my family member in Florida will be visiting us for most of the month of July. It’s still a month away yet many travel arrangements and accommodations are needed to both get her here and have her in our home. Steve and I still must practice extreme avoidance procedures (changing clothes and showering when coming home from being away) which is tough on an older family member who needs care. We will make as many preparations as we can before she leaves her home (in a moldy State), have initial provisions for her when she arrives, and hope for the best that her clothing can be sanitized and de-fragranced so she can travel and visit with us in July. She has many fears, concerns, demands, yet is asking to come. That is kind of weird since she has traveled with virtually no care just a few months ago and did alright. So I will be very busy taking care of many details. Thank the Lord I am less reactive to fragrance and trace amounts of mold, etc., and my activity level has increased some overall these past 2 months!
Getting out in the garden continues to be a great therapy for me in many ways. The vegetables are now in the ground including a new asparagus bed . . . until the bunnies find it of course! No worries as I am working on my rascally rabbit defense system as we speak. Overall I am still months ahead of schedule for Spring clean-up as compared to the past 6 years battling a serious illness. I am humbled and grateful. When my days in the past focused on basic household chores and a plethora of medical appointments and treatments. Was really nice yesterday to sell a piece of medical equipment that I no longer need and then drive directly to a local nursery with the cash to purchase a lavender plant! The rains today shall nurture the earth and my garden refuge wonderfully. Thank you Lord for the lovely view out our windows to encourage me on my recovery journey. You are soooooo good!
I am in awe of the overall goodness of these changes happening in our lives. Steve an I are grateful and humbled, tired and excited, stressed and energized all at the same time. So I’ll end with my happy place that provides refuge through it all. (Can you find the pup in the photo?)
Thank you Lord for your blessings and goodness, love and care. Gentle Reader: He is so good! JJ
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 . . .
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)
3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.4 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