Obedience

Obedience is one of those words like “discipline.”  Not popular either one of them, yet both separate the whining cry babies from the mature adults amongst us.  For believers in Jesus Christ, obedience matures our faith and transforms us into the image of Christ (a work never completed during our lifetimes).  In our humanity our flesh tugs at us to rebel or be tempted in directions other than the leading of the Holy Spirit.  But by focusing on His incredible gift of grace, studying His holy Word, and submitting to the leading of the Holy Spirit we will end in a better place for sure.  I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of others.  His will is best.  His timing is best.  Why?  Because He loves us and because He is God!

These thoughts came to me after reading an interview of Ravi Zacharias in the RZIM Summer 2015 newsletter and listening to a message by Pastor Paul Mowery of Harvest Fellowship in Leo, Indiana.  At the close of his message on Romans 11, Pastor Paul encourages us to “be about worship,” praising His great name for having mercy on us as recipients of the Lord’s grace.  We are not to dwell on what each of us may have done that draws attention to ourselves.  We are to be about Him: worshipping our Father God.

Lately I am struggling with these themes.  Many of my posts here have tried to pull something meaningful out of the challenges of a wretched illness.  As the days wear on with the setbacks of late, I have found myself literally screaming out my anger at God with the wails that accompany the convulsive seizures.  “Why do you hate me?”  Oh yeah, it’s bad.  Even my beloved Steve who has been at my side during a fair amount of this hell admits his anger at God.  And we are convinced that this is an o.k. thing to do.  It is not an o.k. place to stay, however.  And it is certainly not an acceptable attitude to act upon.

You simply cannot be angry at someone whom you do not love dearly.  Such is our dilemma.  We both love the Lord, Jesus Christ, and are humbled, grateful for His mercies in each of our lives.  We have so much goodness between us!  We are grateful for so much!  And in our humanity we are broken and don’t like the brokenness.  Way down deep we are hurting and it is this hurt that fuels the anger.  Admitting this will be the way out, the way back to fellowship, the discipline that will bring obedience, the song of worship yet to come . . .

So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
    during the time of testing in the wilderness, (Hebrews 3)

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Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.  (Hebrews 3)

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being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1)

Today with the faith of a mustard seed (that I understand is rich in nutrients of which I am needing anyways!) I will choose to honor and worship the Lord, my King.  He has built this frame in which I dwell and within it dwells the Holy Spirit.  Broken or not, it is the vessel from which I will praise His name all of my days.  I lay my angst on His mighty throne of grace, with great expectation of His promise to redeem it for His glory.

obedience, endurance, waiting on the Lord, discipline, redemption, redeeming grace, redeem

May He be glorified in all.  My Jesus.  My all in all.  Worthy of our praise.  Worthy is this Lamb of God!  JJ

Great things He hath done

 

Praise at sunrise 5 Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened
    burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.  (Psalm 40; NIV)

After speaking in adoration, gratitude, humility, and transparency, King David seeks compassion from his Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  He has been literally chased by his enemies to the cold, darkness of living in caves.  His very life, his promised kingdom, and all he knows is at stake yet he begins this song with faithful praise.  Thereafter he presents his request for the Lord’s mercy and protection.  Although not quoted here, this psalm of King David goes on to pray for the salvation of his people and desolation of his enemies.  In the end his hope that the Lord be glorified through it all.  Yes indeed.  Wow.  What a tremendous example for me!

Adoration.  Thank you almighty God for all that you have provided to this day.  I see your omnipotent power in the sequencing of events of my life to bring me into the best of fellowship to you my Lord and King.  I praise you here and forevermore.  You have provided exceedingly for my real needs.  The greatest evidence is in love of my life that is now here; I am honored to be at his side, his beloved too.

Gratitude.  For my times of sickness you have given me a warm bed in which to convalesce, healthy food, good medical care, and infused your strength into my weary frame to do the tasks that are needed each day.  No matter how I may be feeling, the facts remain true that you care for the details of my life and are here with me.  I am never alone.  Most of all your love changes my sorrow into joy.

Humility.  The striving, the determination of my youth were eventually broken well into my adulthood so that I might realize the plans you have for me.  Hurt has yielded to forgiveness and freedom.  Following the lead of my earthly kinsman redeemer instead of my own desires has brought me into the fullness of what it means to follow you.  Much goodness has come from all of these.  The motto that began the leap of faith to finding Jesus years ago has come true:  letting go and letting God reign in my heart must remain above all else.

Transparency.  You gave me a fondness for writing long ago, mentored by my own mother (a naturally gifted writer).  This blog has seen me through much suffering and challenged me to return my eyes to Your majesty, Your creation, and more.  I have learned that the truth about life is often separate from what I can see.  Lord keep me soft to submit to Your ways like the clay who gives its essence to the master potter craftsman.  Surely goodness shall be the result for Your glory.

 Prayerfulness.  I do ask for healing of this wretched illness that plagues me for hours each day.  Guide me in my interactions with others when frustrated by so many things; may I be a light for my true hope that is in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Bring rest and lead my husband, Steve, in the decisions we are facing.  Grant him wisdom at home and at work, as a father to his four wonderful adult children, and as a leader in our church.  Thank you for his faithful witness to so many of what it means to be a man after Your own heart.  And please bless the fellow sojourners you have brought into my life, especially my Skype Bible Prayer partners Karan and Sherry.  Such sweet fellowship is salve to my soul.

Great things the Lord hath done in my life since I met my first Gentle Reader about three years ago.  Thank you for coming alongside me for the ups and downs, bunny trail side trips, victories, and more.  Know that I am praying for you as I write this, that the Lord be with you this day too.  He is so good and worthy of our praise.  Perhaps King David said it best later in Psalm 40 like this:

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

Perspiration, Inspiration, and a Some Exasperation

When I was going to college we used to say that many gals were there more to look for their “MRS” degrees than prepare for a career.  Then when I went to graduate school we used to say that our Master’s thesis was 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.  And as life carried on, while grateful for my education and degrees, I realized that what I would accomplish in life had little to do with either.  Who I became had more to do with what I was willing to endure in the refinement of my character as a believer in Jesus Christ than anything else . . .Jesus-shepherd-holds-lamb-in-arms1-281x400

Psalm 23 (NIV)                        

A psalm of David.  

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Yea for those who call Jesus Lord of their lives; ruler of their hearts; and the Way, the Truth and the Life we have so much goodness to see us through.  This was never more clear to me than earlier this evening.  Brace yourselves as this is not for the faint of heart.

Around 9:15 p.m. I was having one of the most wretched seizure attack episodes and spiritual battles since becoming sick 2 1/2 years ago.  Nothing in particular triggers these battles of late:  for the last month this has been my nightly rite of passage into the next day.  My screams of terror, violent writhing, head banging, and pleading for the Lord to deliver me continued non-stop for over an hour.  My beloved came near to check on me at a moment when my nerves were on edge like a dry ember along a raging fire.  I cried out in sudden frightfulness when surprised by his silhouette in the darkness.  Later he returned to check on me again, clarify what had happened, and continue to pray for deliverance from the hell that I was enduring.  I had a sense that more wretchedness was welling up inside me so he was willing to grab the camera and videotape the horrifying moment in time.  Then all was quiet.  I lain on the bed exasperated with exhaustion.  My voice was hoarse, my frame sore from the thrashing about.  I was fried yet awake at the same time.  Man did my neck and shoulders hurt!  (sigh)

It’s times like these I have to ask myself if I am even going to make it through the evening.  Sometimes I am not sure based upon what I am experiencing.  I have to push through the binding down as I am seizing to even breathe while holding a pillow around my head (to avoid injury).  What in the world causes this?  Sadly the worst was not over:  it just needed to take a new form.  The spiritual attacks ramped up next as Steve returned so I asked him to hold me tightly.  He prayed aloud, sang a few hymns, and made sure I was safe as I wrestled with the effects of the attacks.  The new seizures, vocalizations, gut-wrenching tears went on for another 30 minutes or so with a few breaks for us to catch our breath, thankfully.  And then the worst was over.  A few zips, tic attacks, and guttural utterances slipped through with some low level shaking that looked a lot like shivering.  The whole episode had started with shivering before it escalated into full body wrestling.  Good grief.

The rain started swiftly outside the bedroom window around midnight.  The rushing sound of the water hitting the glass sounded more like my truck going through a car wash than a summer downpour.  And then suddenly I felt a strong urge to go outside . . . into the rain.  I needed to get up out of bed to try to put some closure on all that we had endured in the past 2 hours.  Lying there could invite more aftershocks so I strained to get up.  Alas I needed cleansing from the darkness.

Now I know why I selected the new black-n-white header photo for this blog.  The picture shown above came into mind as I walked decisively outside and into the redeeming  waters from heaven.  Now I didn’t go crazy or anything with holy laughter or getting drenched by the chilly droplets pouring onto my weakened frame.  Just for a few moments I stepped into the night to feel the cool wetness and look up into the sky above.  Three times I retreated under the covered porch to warm myself slightly before stepping back out into the night.  It felt good!  My socks were getting really wet though so I removed them as I went back into the house on the way to a lovely warm shower.  A little giddiness slipped into my steps as I realized how many decades it had been since dabbling in a summer rainfall.  I thought of the girl in the black and white photo.  Yes, little one, I understand your smile completely.

Gentle Reader let’s be clear on one thing:  if there was a remedy for this illness of course I would take it in a heartbeat!  While these episodes provide rich fodder for spiritual lessons and blogging, I’m cool with someday writing about gardening instead!  Earlier today a root canal specialist doubted that there is any infection hidden in my gums causing systemic issues or chronic illness that would create waking seizures.  Hey, my upper left jaw has been sore for many years so it was worth a shot to have it ruled out.  Sure I’ll see an oral surgeon in a couple of weeks for a special scan just to make sure of things.  Looks like it might be another dead end to a “bunny trail.”  I guess I just need to wait on the Lord for a time until he leads me beside “waters” that will “quiet” the unrest in my central nervous system.  I’ll see my Lyme literate medical doctor on Friday for a status update.  We have so very much to discuss with the ER visit 2 weeks ago and recent worsening of symptoms.  The arduous process of managing my care thus continues.

And yet in the worst moment of this evening, the one where it’s as if Satan himself taunted me to give in to his schemes instead of trusting in my Jesus, a teeny tiny voice inside me uttered that I will continue to trust in the Lord regardless of the suffering.  Steve reminded me of how Job of the Old Testament questioned what was happening to him even as he waited on the Lord in horrible circumstances.  Then when God reminded Job who He is:  His mastery over all He created, His almighty power, omniscience, and omnipresence, Job fell to the ground despite his gaping wounds to submit in worship.  I wonder if he heard a tiny voice stir inside his spirit as well?  I am just so very grateful that this inner voice, the leading of the Holy Spirit within those of us who believe, remains no matter what the trials may bring.  I heard it today and His refreshing words comforted me like the healing rains outside my window.  Thank you Lord that You are here with me like You were with Job.  You are the same today as yesterday and worthy of our praise.  YES, I will trust in You!

So if you think you too are facing circumstances that create perspiration and exasperation I encourage you to hang on until the inspiration comes.  Specifically, Gentle Reader, I encourage you to hang on to the Shepherd who refreshes the soul and will bring comfort in due time.  We must remain vigilant in keeping our eyes fixed on the face of Jesus Christ lest the evil one gain a foothold in our hearts, our minds.  Put on your spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17) with the holy scriptures and he will flee in the name of Jesus Christ.  I guarantee you that warm fellowship with the One who loves you more than anyone will minister to your needs completely.  Hang tough.  Greener pastures are coming soon!  JJ

The 5 1/2 hour window of time

Ready to head home with the 24-foot outrigger and ama on the roof!
Ready to head home with the 24-foot outrigger and ama (float) on the roof!
So grateful to be out with my River Bear!
So grateful to be out with my River Bear!

 

We came to a clearing in things and went for it!

These pictures were taken after a wonderful evening paddling our tandem outrigger canoe (OC-2) on Sylvan Lake here in Indiana.  How wonderful to be out on the water for a second outing with Steve this year.  I am so very grateful!

Sadly the evening ended worse than the earlier part of this day.  Tic attacks had started in the car on the 45-minute ride home.  Within an hour after getting home and unpacking the car I was feeling sickly.  We ate some quick salads before I scampered off for bed, still in my paddling clothes.  Low grade seizure attacks ramped up over the next hour, escalating into one of the worse episodes I have had in a long time.  Screams of terror filled our home.  The best that I could do was hold on and focus on continuing to breathe . . .

Eventually I was able to call Steve for help getting off the damp clothing and showering.  In my stupor and neurological collapse (requiring complete assistance to transport myself to the bathroom) I figured out that I must have gotten exposed to the blue green algae we encountered in the narrower sections of the lake.  I had taken numerous precautions to limit exposure to the water.  However, some simply cannot be avoided when splashing about, paddling from an open cockpit of an OC-2.  And perhaps the slimy green pond near the port-a-potties in the parking lot were releasing aerosols that were not to my liking as well?  I didn’t touch any food or the mouth of my water bottle since we did not have hand sanitizer with us.  I guess it wasn’t enough:  I am too sensitive to any form of biotoxin to get anywhere near them in any form until things change.

Thankfully after about three hours I regained motor control of my body.  I was better able to communicate and we processed what had occurred this evening.  Steve agreed that we probably need to limit paddling together to waters treated for algae, such as the private lake of a friend’s home.  This means not being able to join the local kayaking group outings on Tuesday night for the third year in a row!  That’s a major bite in the shorts!  To get strong enough to go out with them for two years was a major accomplishment for me and lasted until I got sick October 11, 2011.  Just getting into a kayak (and now an outrigger canoe, solo and tandem) simply had never happened before I married Steve.  We have so many great memories being a part of the group in addition to his kayaking competitions.  (Goooooo Steeeeeeve!)  Sigh.  And I was really enjoying the switch from a kayak to an outrigger, sporting my carbon-fiber bent shaft paddle too.  So awesome.

Last night I watched most of the video story again of Justin and Christa Vanderham.  Christa suffered from chronic Lyme disease and mold exposure for years before finding proper treatment with antibiotics, supplements, and nutrition.  A fellow sojourner in recovery and reader of this blog graciously reminded me recently that Christa’s illness looked a lot like the videos that I have posted here and on You Tube.  Yes, both our symptoms of distress appear wretched:  intractable pain for Christa and relentless seizure attacks for me.  We both scream at times due to our agony.  In chronic Lyme and biotoxin illness it’s not the exact matrix of symptoms that is so significant as it is making sure you have the right diagnoses and treatment protocols to get well.  We don’t say that we have different illnesses because our symptoms are a little different.  We do say that we both might benefit from similar aggressive treatment protocols if reasonable test data and clinical presentation indicate Lyme or biotoxin illness.  Unfortunately for me, EVERY SINGLE TREATMENT INTERVENTION exacerbates daily seizure attack episodes that average 3-4 hours per day!  I simply cannot survive the treatment protocols of which I am aware to date.  The multiple chemical sensitivities (aka Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) already leaves me largely homebound to try and prevent noxious symptoms.  Lately they are on the rise again (up to 8 hours!) regardless of where I am or what I am doing.  When I take a 5 1/2 hour window of time when the symptoms subside and test the waters, so to speak, I usually pay dreadfully for doing so.  This gal just can’t get a real break I guess.  I keep trying the wrong things.  On the surface, you could say that I am out of options . . .

Regardless, this I know:  my Jesus goes before me and knows the desires of my heart.  He knows that my heart is breaking right now to realize that I can no longer be with my dear husband 2 to 3 days per week when he pursues his sport on the water.  I learned to kayak to be with my River Bear and was delighted to discover that I enjoyed it too (at a slower pace of course!).  My Lord knows how isolated I am when I am home alone because of this illness.  He has provided the safety and security of a lovely dwelling with plenty of time with my Heavenly Husband.  He was my best buddy before I met Steve; He saw me through life changes equally as traumatic all the way to the restoration process in due time.  I’ll be hanging tough and trusting Him with this door closing on open water activities, no matter how I may feel about it.  The fact is that my Lord and Savior loves me more than I can ever know.  He wants what is best for me.  I will wait with great expectation at His throne of grace for His plan for me, whether or not a new door or window opens in due time.  If I don’t lay down my will for His will then I will denounce all that He has shown me of His love for me in the past.  I don’t want to waste all that I have learned.  During those trials is when my faith grew to be what it is today.  That is when the Holy Spirit became real to me, guiding me and comforting me always.  Nothing can take that away from me.  Nothing will.

Gentle Reader, do you know faith in God like this through His son, Jesus Christ?  Please share with me your experiences if you do.  I know it will encourage me to hear from you in addition to other Readers.  Oh and if you could say a prayer for my Stevers that would be great.  He hasn’t been getting much sleep lately.  Thanks a bunch.

Better finish that mulching project in the gardens soon.  Love to you,  Just Julie

The Sequel: Same story different day

Don’t you just love a good movie?  The kind where you cannot predict the end until it ends or one where you find out what happened to the characters from the first of the series?  Yes, everyone loves a good story with a happy ending.  As for me, I’m just glad for happy moments!

I decided that it was time to update my video log of the most challenging aspects of the illness I am battling.  Included in my “sequel” are some photos of happy moments and some notes meant to be of encouragement at the end of the story.  Overall I admit that it’s kind of tough to watch.  Sometimes my beloved, Steve, and I (in our attempts to cope with this daily saga) get into a numbing routine where I go off into a back bedroom for a wretched episode then he comes by later to check on me.  I’m safe in bed:  I won’t fall out or anything like that.  He prays as he endures the horrifying vocalizations echoing throughout the house, knowing that there is virtually nothing he can do to lessen the burden.  We simply ride it out until the next one comes along, whenever that may be.

Gratefully we have discovered some things that consistently trigger the seizure-attack episodes or make them worse.  We don’t do these things where possible!  I mean that with nine gatherings last week in celebration of two weddings it was pretty tough to eliminate all extraneous factors.  We did our best.  I made it through five events relatively o.k., was Skyped into another, left two early, skipped a reception, and was carried away from the second to last event after the introduction of the happy newlyweds.  Not bad for a massively ramped up schedule and for someone battling Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.  Or is it Lyme disease?  Biotoxin illness?  Non-epileptic seizures?  No one really knows for sure.

So here it is.  No popcorn needed.  A tissue might be worthwhile.  All prayers are welcome.  I am looking forward to the day when this illness is resolved.  In the meantime I stand on the Rock of my salvation, trusting in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to go with me and deliver me in due time.  One day in this life or in heaven, I WILL BE FREE.  It’s the promise in which all of us who call upon the name of the Lord can rest.  Thank you Jesus for your amazing grace.

Time for a nap!  J