We must learn to let go

You must learn to let go to move forward.

“Keep moving forward” my brother, Mike, used to say when we were settling the estate of our dear mother after her death.  The attachment and meaning of each object and task made moving in any direction difficult, confusing at times, and so very final.  Then we decided to take them one at a time.  Then we decided to learn to let go . . .

The unmade necklaces which would have surely been my best work needed to be disassembled today before they were ever completed.  If I had stopped to make jewelry this afternoon then I would have never made my deadline for shipping Trinity Jewelry by Design to its new owner.  I actually tried putting the beads back on the cotton fibers before realizing that I needed to stop and it would be o.k. to let these unmade designs go . . .

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The 9-foot mural on the wall of my condo in Naperville, Illinois took a year to complete.  I began with sunny colors of yellow tracing paper, pastel hues of unyru papers from India, custom-stenciled golden palm leaves, a few rhinestone swirls, lettering from a local sign shop, and a very important message about the bunny trails of life being such a very important part of the journey.  “But what about the mural?” my friends would ask when moving to be with my intended beloved would take me 200 miles to the East of my happy place.  Yes, finding true love required leaving the art of restoration behind:  a different song of letting go . . .

When the pain of running my life on emptiness, stress, unanswered questions of “why?” and never having enough to make a difference anyways I finally crashed into the arms of my Jesus.  At the time I was 29 years old, single, working full time, and forever trying to finish my Master’s degree.  Then a laundrymat attendant laid out the plan of salvation and invited me to come to the table of the Lord for refreshment, forgiveness, renewal, eternal life with Him.  Later that night with tears the wasted meaningless living-for-me finally did let go once and for all . . .

The hurt of wretched divorce grieves my Lord and me, sometimes even now when I have known such goodness in my new life with Steve.  It took me years of harboring what it would take to even the score if given the chance:  holding onto the files that would prove the ways in which I was wronged.  Then I realized that the one carrying the baggage too far was me not him.  I was already forgiven years ago for my part in things.  In due time and with lightness of heart I finally learned to let go of that other person too . . .

Who could ever imagine the hellish suffering of these past three years with my head banging to and fro day after day?  Literally, I mean, with a yet undiagnosed illness that has had too many pieces to keep track anymore.  Cries out for healing one thousand times have made little difference on the surface; it’s so easy to become discouraged, to give up in motionless brokenness of the worst kind.  “Who knows if the trials will ever end?” I often wonder when up late at night.  We cannot know much about tomorrow so we must move along in faith today.  For through faith, through Divine intervention, I have had enough grace once again to get me through yet another episode, another day.  And the smallest of sweetness has come that would have been missed had it come any other way.  So to the throne of grace with great expectation I do most definitely let my achy breaky heart go . . .

For who really knows when the Lover of my soul shall return in glory or to take me home?  When He comes for me I’m sure I will recognize His name, His face, His comfort from all the days I’ve seen each of these before.  I cannot afford to be discouraged or waste much time groaning the pangs of sorrow in this life when preparation is what is now due.  It is time for letting God direct my every word, my every task:  my thoughts held captive as an offering in love nothing else.

Oh how I do pray He comes soon to take me home to His mansion with many rooms and warm embrace!  Yet in the meantime, Gentle Reader, my Jesus directs me to keep my eyes on Him from here and the one step of the path (that’s all) in front of me as I go.  Yes, I must learn to let go of more than I ever dreamed I would need to and let it all slip through my hands to be free.  My happiness depends upon this for the lightness in my spirit that will carry me to the wondrous places in life you or I may ever go.  I trust that down the road a bit it will be truly beautiful and worth lightening the load a bit don’t you think?  JJ

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Time for a change

From Family Practice Physician to Lyme Literate Medical Doctor, from Chiropractor to Obgyn, our medical doctor tries to do it all.  I have benefitted from his expertise yet I am still not well.  And when I saw the redness and exhaustion in his eyes during my appointment this evening I realized that he is not well either!

Everyone who sees this gifted physician knows his crazy schedule, his dedication to help everyone in his care, and his history of nearly dying a couple of years ago with his own debilitating illness.  We used to hear how his office conversion to the government mandated computer system was responsible for incredible stress and delays in appointment times.  For example, it was not unusual to call the office in the morning about an appointment scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and not be called in for my appointment until 4:00 p.m. or later.  Forget the ones scheduled after 3:30 p.m. as they were usually rescheduled.  For awhile about one-third of my appointments were re-scheduled, delaying receiving test results or reviewing the status of a particular medical condition for months.  Frustrating indeed.

Yet when there was an acute issue, the Doc was right on it.  When something new popped up I was sent to the hospital in another section of the medical park for labs or scans, held in the waiting room for results, and sometimes seen back in the office much later that night.  To be seen well into the evening was not an unusual occurrence.  My record was an appointment that started at 2:30 a.m.!  He had one more patient after me and had just received notice that one of his pregnant patients was going into labor.  He must have never gone home that night or morning!  Dedication had become insanity.  We talked about it during that visit.  He agreed.  I understand that some scheduling and office procedure changes were put in place for this new year.  As near as I can tell, the staff and Doc are ending their nights before midnight now.  Virtually the same story, different day.

I recently blogged about some important abnormal test results being misplaced for six months.  That has happened another time as well.  Tonight there was only enough time to go over about half of a detailed genetic cholesterol study.  He handed it to me and said, “here, you take this.”  Whaaat?  He thought the “high CBD hemp oil” that I reported was reducing the seizure attacks 40% was vitamins C, B, and D.  Er, no!  After correcting the computer’s voice recognition software two dozen times, I believe he understood what I was saying:  sitting there with my ventilation mask on to avoid seizure attacks from some mysterious exposure in the office.

Mysterious was the exposure until I asked one of the nurses about it.  I had asked before and a different nurse declined comment.  And yet tonight in her own fatigue, a long-time employee openly shared how their office has routine leaks in the ceiling throughout the summer.  The staff has complained about the musty smell and requested testing for mold spores.  Evidently the tests came back “negative.”  The nurses still battle sickness at work.  A friend of mine who is a patient there can detect the musty smell but I cannot.  I just get tic attacks sitting in the treatment room for 2 hours waiting for the Doc!  My worst episode lasted 2 1/2 hours NON-STOP began after midnight dominated by convulsions most of the time!  My husband came to pick me up around 4:00 a.m.!  I’m sure that exhaustion and stress were a factor being in the office so late that night but hey, I was sitting in a water damaged building to be seen by my doctor for mold illness!  Whaaaat?  Soon after that I started wearing a mask every visit!

I have learned so much from my brilliant Doctor.  He is a Christian man who really cares about his patients.  He has provided better care for me for six years here in this smaller Indiana town than I ever received in the large metropolitan area of Chicago.  When my health got significantly worse 2 1/2 years ago I hung in there with him, hopeful that we would find answers.  I was also unsuccessful finding another MD or clinic to address the intractable seizures, pain, etc.  Gratefully, the Lord has now led me to another clinic in Michigan with two physicians specializing in methylation issues and biotoxin (mold) illness, respectively.  After three phone consultations, extensive paperwork, and additional lab testing completed, my husband and I are preparing for my first in-person visit on March 24th.  We will stop at a lab near the clinic for additional blood work to better match Dr. Richie Shoemaker’s protocols for “Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.”  My current MD and I have worked closely on Dr. Shoemaker’s protocol yet neither of us are officially trained; this led to using the wrong laboratories, incomplete test results when the samples were not processed correctly, and improper sequencing of the treatment plan.  Two very expensive medications from an out-of-state compounding pharmacy either did not work or made me much worse.  We tried!  The biotoxin illness Doc at the new clinic works closely with Dr. Shoemaker and is a Christian too.  I am encouraged.  Lyme disease is not the focus at the moment and that’s o.k.

So it’s time for a change.  I still have appointments on the books with my primary care physician as someone will need to monitor ongoing health issues not covered by the new clinic.  He has asked for copies of all of the testing and reports so I am happy to oblige.  With the Lord’s help I will continue tweaking the dose of high CBD hemp oil in hopes of reducing even further the seizure attacks and noxious symptoms that follow.  The Lord is guiding me step-by-step, including through the spiritual leadership of my beloved Steve.  I am so glad I heeded hubby’s advice and did not start seeing every expert who sounded good on the internet!  When moments are better for me, we celebrate and don’t think about the bad times.  We both see examples of how the Lord has used this season in our lives for His glory.  We are closer than ever, more in love than ever before and for that I am grateful.  I am closer to Christ than ever before as well knowing that He heard my truly desperate cries for help the night before I first started the CBD oil.  I was ready to die and it was not to be.  I was spared from further anguish and suffering, turning a corner to better things at last.

If you are suffering this day, this night:  do not give up!  There’s a blogger praying for you Gentle Reader.  More importantly the God Who created the universe knows your name, sees you, knows your pain, and gave his life so that one day your heartache would end.  Please draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  Everything will be worked together for good someday if you but call upon the Lord and let Him into your heart.  These statements are based upon His Word and promises that are true today and always.  The Great Physician will see you through, always my dear one.  Take care,  JJ

Into the Night

I am finally awake, stable, and coherent all at the same time!  It is now 12:48 a.m.  Such is life.

First snow dec 2009 007

On a good note, I was able to march around outside this evening in my snowshoes for about 30 minutes this evening.  The night air felt bitterly cold yet the sky was clear with all of the stars visible in our Midwestern corner of the world.  I love seeing our German Shepherd, Elle, jump from one snow drift to the other as she chases after my husband and me.  But perhaps my most favorite moment was seeing her waiting for me as she looked into the house from outside on our covered porch.  Steve had taken off cross country skiing in the backyard and pond area.  She usually follows him closely, often pouncing behind him in his tracks when the snow is deep.  Today she knew that I would be headed out with him shortly after he left and there she was:  waiting with her big expectant brown eyes.  Ah the love of one’s pup!

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Sometimes when I am alone it is hard to feel the love that I know exists in my life.  When I am the sickest each morning this is especially true.  For me it seems that so much of the success of recovering from this time of illness will lie in what I do with the grief of the trauma I have experienced.  For over two years now, I have felt traumatized by the wretched seizure attack episodes that wrench my body with pain, headaches, cognitive changes, ringing in my ears, crying, spontaneous vocalizations, and violent seizing.  For over two months, the episodes last around four hours total per day with the worst ones occurring in the evening.  The sadness can be overwhelming; the disappointment each time they return can be heavily discouraging.  Both can lead to a sense of emptiness that is devoid of love, hope, and meaning.  At some point I recover enough from an attack to get something to eat or drink.  Even eye contact with the lone pet left behind with me when everyone else in my life has gone off to work or some other noble activity can be a mixed blessing:  comforting and protective (yes) yet a pittance for more meaningful human contact.  By the way, where is God?

Yes, I often long for Jesus with skin on at these times.  I am grateful that most recently I have found Him in the caring voice of a friend on the phone and always in the loving embrace of my beloved Steve.  Sometimes I miss picking up the phone and calling my mom.  This desire to connect with her seems stronger the more the years go by since she passed away nearly seven years ago.  I guess it is normal when a person goes through a time of testing or sorrow to desire the comfort and wisdom of a parent no matter what your current age might be.  If my mom were still alive today I think she would want me to keep moving, keep going, keep trying despite the setbacks.  O.K. mom:  will do.  For tonight I’m going to call on the One who sees me whether or not my husband is around, the dog is awake, a friend is home to answer the phone, or my self-soothing words in my heart to my deceased mother means anything.  I’m going to the throne of grace.

My dear friend mentioned Psalm 91 yesterday.  Here are some gems from the Psalm to which those with an anxious heart often turn:

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,     my God, in whom I trust.”

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14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

From Bibleclassics.com I found this little gem of insight into Psalm 91 that spoke to my heart this night:  “Whatever happens, nothing shall hurt the believer; though trouble and affliction  befal, it shall come, not for his hurt, but for good, though for the present it  be not joyous but grievous. Those who rightly know God, will set their love upon  him. They by prayer constantly call upon him. His promise is, that he will in  due time deliver the believer out of trouble, and in the mean time be with him  in trouble. The Lord will manage all his worldly concerns, and preserve his life  on earth, so long as it shall be good for him. For encouragement in this he  looks unto Jesus.”

Yes, thank you Matthew Henry.  I will hold onto the psalmist’s words of comfort inspired by my Lord who sees me on my bed of sickness, who promises He will never leave me or forsake me.  And if it be His will, He will deliver me from my suffering.  Into this night and for the rest of my nights I will ultimately rest in the loving arms of the one who is showing me His goodness despite the darkness.  No matter what the next day might bring I will trust You.  No matter what the next hour may bring I will wait on You. 

No matter what you too may endure Gentle Reader, I hope that you will be encouraged that your sadness or disappointment does not go unnoticed by the Lord who loves you too.  He is worthy of our faith.  And I know if we both but believe in Him, we will be blessed in some special way that will transcend our nights, our days.  In the meantime He will not frustrate us beyond our ability to cope and will provide a way out when overwrought with temptation.  These are promises in His Word and truths by which we can endure all things.  We will never be alone.  His eyes will always be smiling towards us through the looking glass of life.  JJ

Sneak Peak: Hope Beyond Lyme: The First Year

HOPE eBook Cover

Here’s an important peek into the eBook borne out of this online blog with updated material, bonuses, and references.  Stay tuned for publication information, coming soon!  Thanks a bunch,  Just Julie

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Final Thoughts

August 24, 2013

“Life is like a box of chocolates.  Sometimes you don’t know what you’re gonna get.” 

Remember this famous line from the movie, Forrest Gump?  (Paramount Pictures, 1994)  Yeah, I “get” this message when the day begins with renewed hope and generally ends, well, somewhere else!  Gratefully, the day is never without hope at some level.

Perhaps you have wondered what you would “get” when you were beginning to read this eBook.  Maybe you downloaded it because of the words, “Lyme disease” in the title.  I appreciate you wanting to learn more about it as it seems I too can never learn enough about this complex and almost sinister disease process that is so difficult to diagnose and treat successfully.  If you would like more information on Lyme disease see the About Lyme Disease chapter at the beginning of this eBook.  I also encourage you to go to the websites of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society and Mercola.com

By now you realize that you have gotten something quite different from me than a Wikipedia description of this and other serious illnesses.  I am hoping that as we close here, you have seen how there can be more to a journey colored by a chronic sickness than the illness itself. 

Most importantly, I hope that you can see how much of a difference it can make to have a personal relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ, when enduring a serious illness.  He has changed my perspective and transcended my experience over and over again in a way that continues to make a difference.  I could not go on without Him!  Life is just too difficult otherwise.

I hope that you have come to understand that you too can have this personal relationship with God by coming before the Father in prayer and supplication, in the name of Jesus Christ.  As we each approach the “throne of grace,” we must first acknowledge that we are imperfect, live in an imperfect world, and have an imperfect life.  The world is imperfect not because of our mistakes but because of its falleness and that is due to the presence of sin.  Sin in turn affects us no matter who we are as a part of our human condition (Romans 3:23).  We come to understand that we can overcome sin by admitting our brokenness, asking for forgiveness from the Giver of life, and accepting the gift of saving grace to wipe the slate clean:  He then restores us to a right relationship with God.  We are forgiven and free, now and forevermore.  (John 3:16)

The faith needed to believe this truth and go forth comes from reading and hearing His inerrant Word, the Bible.  (Romans 10:17)  When we do make a decision to believe, we enter into a relationship with the God of the universe (and with fellow believers too) that can never be taken away unless we denounce that Jesus is Lord.  We are saved from the guilt of our sin and our perspective in life changes.  We are never, ever alone again as we receive the indwelling gift of His Holy Spirit:  our Counselor, Our Guide.  We also embark on an amazing journey that brings peace, love, joy, spiritual gifts, blessings, and promises that will take us through everything and anything that happens on this earth.  We will not truly know what this is like until we make a decision for Christ.

And one day when our time on this earth is over, we will enter into His presence to live with Him forevermore.  We cannot even fathom the infinite glory of heaven in our finite earthly minds.  In heaven there will be no more suffering, no more tears.  Wow.  None! 

If you have not already done so, and would like to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I encourage you to pray a prayer of repentance and submission right now.  In doing so, you surely will receive:   Hope Beyond Lyme.  And if you do, would you send me an email and tell me about?  I’d like to be among the first to welcome you into the family of Christ.

Take care, Gentle Reader.  Just Julie

The Geographical Cure Uncovered

In a way you could say that the promise of “starting over” has helped me move from:

  • junior high school student to community leader
  • my childhood home to college,
  • Detroit to Chicagoland,
  • employee to team leader,
  • health care professional to graduate student,
  • ACOA and religion to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
  • a single life to marriage twice,
  • Chicagoland to Fort Wayne, and
  • private journaling to online blogging!

Just wondering:  how many of you, my gentle readers, have experienced this too?  How many of us have initially and privately hoped that the simple move from one lifestyle to another, one geographical location to another, one relationship to another, one worker role to a promotion, or more would somehow be all we needed to change what is wrong or uncomfortable in our lives?  The excitement, the risk to the unknown, the new adventure surely would change everything and bring true happiness!  The lure, the answer to prayer, the next pursuit will be “it.”  After all, once we have moved on, that person who bugs us, the issue we don’t want to face, the pain that we simply can no longer bear, the emptiness in our hearts will go also away, right?  In our minds we might figure that won’t have to deal with him or her, with it anymore.

Not!  The only problem with this mentality I have found, is that I take myself with me to the new destination!  What I mean is that if I have not prepared my heart to let go of the past, deal with the past, and found new ways of coping with the past, I will somehow recreate the problem in the new location.  Not true, you say?  You are different?  Are you sure?

May I share my most graphic example?  I grew up in a modest blue collar home tainted by alcoholism, financial strife, divorce, abuse, and my maladaptive coping style of workaholism.  Sure I had lots of friends, school and community service activities, and spending money from working but my inner life was chaotic even sad.  If anyone could read my thoughts at that time I would surely be in trouble with someone, somewhere!  Out of sheer determination to improve my life as a young adult and get away from my domineering mother, I set my sights on college.  Within 3 months after graduation, I moved out-of-State alone to the Chicago area for my first job when I could not find one locally.  I had to get away anyways.  Finally I would be free from my past and able to live my life as I wanted.

It took about a year for me to realize that my problems had moved with me!  My “stinking thinking,” the unhealthy people with whom I ended up associating, the social habits I once despised, and the compulsive work ethic to succeed at all costs mimicked the dysfunction of my childhood home.  I walked further and further from my Catholic upbringing.  I set my sights on more career achievements and prepared to enter graduate school.  When my double-life and underlying feelings couldn’t catch up with my ambitions, I sought counseling to fix it.  Turns out it would take a long time, a lot of money, many different avenues of recovery leading to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to find freedom.  The geographical move away from “home” did not do anything to fix anything!

There’s a simple phrase I’ve come across over the years that goes, “wherever you go, there you are.”  It’s so silly yet it’s very profound.  We take ourselves with us just as we are wherever we go.  If we don’t change, the change in circumstances won’t change much of anything either.

Flash forward 25 years and I hope that you will find that my life today is very different then back then.  The trials and tragedies during the interim years have been almost unbelievable at times.   During 2003 to 2005 I was forced to start over as a single woman and completely move five times.  This year I’d say that was a warm up act for the fourteen changes in sleeping locations over seventy-six days during the process of mold remediation at home!  The difference between then and now, between the Detroit to Chicagoland move in 1983, was how the Lord allowed me to handle it.  Only by the grace of God have I ever truly moved forward.  With my life surrendered to Him and with the spiritual leadership of the Holy Spirit and my husband, there was no trauma in relocating this time; the stress was normal.  There was no magical thinking; I didn’t need to win the lottery to be at peace.  If the change turned out well or not, I would be o.k. and the Lord would and has provided for my needs.  The Lord used each move this time to show me His love and plan for my life and the people that came along were His chosen instruments:  pretty cool folks.

I have given pretty graphic examples here in uncovering the illusion of a “geographical cure.”  Some of you will be able to relate to my situation and some will not.  Please get the take home message written best by the God of the Bible:

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  (NIV)

Each step of the way can be useful, never wasted if we but seek first His face, His kingdom, and

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

The first step is to look to the real cure for all that ails us, the One who created us.

Matthew 6:33

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  (NIV)

For those that call Him Lord, He will give us no more that we can handle, the desires of our hearts, a way out when needed, and much goodness; our thoughts and desires both conform and grow in our walk with Him.  The pain, the fear, the adventure of letting go will be worth the journey if we but commit ourselves to Him.  The move to follow Him will bring a spiritual cure of sorts that will exceed any that we might create or imagine on our own in this life and the next!  The cure, the answer to our prayers, may also relate less to our jobs, our families and friends, our places of residence, our ministries, than the condition of our hearts.  Our minds become sanctified; our hearts become free.

A fun outcome for me with the move to Fort Wayne to marry Steve was learning to kayak at age 47.  This would have been emotionally painful if not terrifying just a few years earlier!  And yet few years after relocating and opening my heart to this new love, I became physically stronger than I’d ever been and progressed from a tandem plastic, pedal-driven Hobie Oasis to a solo introductory racing Stellar SR surf ski!  Wow Jesus.  Talk about restoring the years the locusts have eaten!  (Joel 2:25)

Yeah, kayaking in my own vessel may be on hold for awhile while I am recovering from Lyme Disease, but so what.  It will be waiting for me, Lord willing, when the time is right on the most perfect of sunny days.  In the meantime, I’ll paddle just along leisurely in the back of our ocean-style, tandem 24 foot outrigger canoe with a hot kayak racer/husband forging the rough waters in the front!  Woweeee indeed!

So if you’re “starting over,” moving on, beginning a new chapter in your life, I encourage you to double check to see if there is any relational editing or heart check needed in the chapter, in the place that you are in right now.  I gotta tell ya that if you don’t, the past could come back to bite you in the shorts when you least expect it.  I don’t want that for you or for me.  Take a spiritual inventory.  Come to Christ and ask Him to search your heart and lead you into all righteousness, cleansed and free.  (Psalm 139:23-24)  If you do, true joy awaits you.  I’m sure of this.