Known in the Gates: Part 3, The Man Next to Me

https://www.facebook.com/227446947339836/photos/a.323357667748763.75624.227446947339836/823076851110173/?type=1&theater
From Facebook, June 4, 2015

When I was blessed in marrying Steve nearly 8 years ago, I often sought out Proverbs 31 in the Bible as a guidebook, a different kind of blueprint for how to love him in a manner that would honor the Lord and Steve the best.  Flash forward nearly eight years and enter the challenges of serious illness.  How do you “strengthen your arms,” “not let your lamp go out at night,” “watch over the ways of our household,” and support your man in the ways a Christian wife is called to when you simply cannot do much of anything?  By the Lord’s grace, that’s how!

Steve has become my whole world due to the isolation that came with a serious illness these past 4 years.  He is also the only one to whom I am called to serve during this season of my life second to the Lord himself.  I am no longer able to work in healthcare or serve others at my church.  At first this did not seem like enough.  Later on I stressed beyond belief to serve either one of them.  Now looking back I can say that each day I was given enough energy and clarity of thought to serve both as best as I could even in my times of greatest weakness.  These tasks are critical to fulfill the outcome cast in Proverbs 31:

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

I just hope I did my part as best that I could . . .

The Lord through His Word in Proverbs 31 and other places (in addition to the leading of the Holy Spirit) showed me how to function in these roles through the most serious illness that I could ever imagine.  In turn for Steve the Lord through His Word, leading of the Holy Spirit, and fellowship of select believers, gave my beloved the strength to care for me during a season of our marriage that was incredibly challenging for him as well.  For example lost or broken sleep virtually every night!  Steve has fulfilled his calling:  there is much fruitfulness in our marriage as a result.  I will write more about this in the future for sure.  I am so proud of Steve!

The part of Proverbs 31 that has helped me to feel less alone, to feel that there is a “Jesus with skin on” who remembers me and loves me too is in the verse that captures the Christian husband’s response to her faithfulness:

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.

Yes.  Throughout these 4 years of significant challenges in every area of our lives together, Steve has trusted me.  He trusted me when he married me and he trusts me now.  His confidence is such a precious gift when my spirits were so low and my self-doubt so high.  My husband has heeded his own call to love me as Christ loves the church in the most loving way imaginable.  My beloved husband believed me that I was truly sick and believed in me no matter what that looked like.  (For example, when I said that I would be o.k. though still seizing for the five-hundredth day this occurred when he is late leaving for work after caring for me that morning.  O.k.?  Really?)  Steve has championed my attempts to keep going, to search for clues as to how to get well, to get up after yet another defeat.  Steve is my hero on this earth.  Period!

One of the greatest challenges of life in general is the quest for significance.  Now let us return to the theme of this 3-part blog.  For a Christian husband to be “known in the city gates” as it says in Proverbs 31 is one reason why a Christian wife should serve her husband well.  We must respect our husbands in private and in public so that they in turn may be respected in the workplace.  We want this!  To make this effort to respect our husbands is important no matter the circumstances in which each of the partners find themselves.  Yes, the wife may be sick at home; be home raising the children; have her own career, tasks and accomplishments yet all of these are to be in concert with supporting the spiritual leader of their household.  This is a tall order handled to be with prayer for sure!

For me it has been very hard to be second:  to support Steve while remaining in the shadows of life when I am also number 112 or so by so many people that used to be a vibrant part of my life.  I had to bring this identity crisis to my Heavenly Husband over and over again.  It was the precious relationships with my Heavenly Husband first and my earthly husband second, where I have found the ability to keep them in the right order!  Jesus was my perfect companion at all times.  Steve needed to be away for work, spiritual feedings at church, and some recreation too.  I had to let go of the temptation to pull on Steve too much.

I simply could not have as much time with Steve as in our first years of marriage since I could no longer participate in activities that we liked to pursue together.  My Heavenly Husband filled my needs.  He gave me this blog, new friends, and an online jewelry business.  My Lord revealed Himself to me in ways I had never experienced before.  And when Steve came home, our reunions were always sweet.  I had endured a thousand wretched times alone.  It’s just the way it had to be for us.  In due time that would not create trauma for me.  I realized just how tangible having Christ with you can really be . . .

In Christ and in love with my beloved Stevers, I have found who I truly am, who my Lord has created me to be.  I have found love beyond measure.  I am never alone regardless of the circumstances.  In completing the tasks to which I am now called, our household works well and is peaceful overall.  I get to live Shaunti Feldhaun’s wise words as noted above.  And no matter what the circumstances, whether I return to work in my profession as an occupational therapist or whether I am home recovering from a setback of sorts, my call will be to stand alongside and possibly behind my husband.  My heart is full.  Both are lovely places to be!

And that my Gentle Reader is a great discovery indeed.  This is God’s design for marriage.  In the end the only “gates” where it is truly important to be known will be the open door where I will someday meet my Lord, Jesus Christ and He calls my name.  So sweet.

Will I meet you there too?  JJ

Just Julie Treatment Update

Brief update:  I seem to be in what an airline pilot might call a “holding pattern” lately.  When I can break through the perpetual feeling of sickness and get myself out of the house, even if it is to our backyard, there’s always a backlash of noxious symptoms.  Recently my chiropractor recommended a heavy metals blood test and after a month of getting the paperwork and procedures right we have the results:  high potassium and very high mercury.  Yipes!  So my husband and I are investigating chelation therapy.  I have an appointment with a Doctor of Osteopathy who provides chelation and other medical, nutritional interventions.  In the meantime I’ll check with my family practice physician and see if there’s enough data to proceed with caution.  We will be covering this in prayer.  For most folks chelation is a difficult journey.  But hey, I’m familiar with that already, eh?

More details:  The daily 2 to 5 hour waking seizure attack episodes continue.  One day each week the episodes exceed 8 hours on and off during which I am largely bed bound.  If I have pushed myself to complete heavy gardening tasks or more than about 2 hours of appointments outside of our home then the episodes can increase to 12 hours.  The rest of those days is pretty worthless.  I have at least two “worthless” days at home each week anyways, regardless of my activity level.  These are days where I pretty much take advantage of the lovely “3 hots and a cot” afforded by our home.  I may see you here at the computer and mope through other very sedentary tasks.  Dinner may or may not get prepared.  Thank goodness for my homemade freezer meals and frozen burritos for Steve on days like these!

The normal sleep-wake cycle remains elusive for me.  When I do go to bed around midnight it is usually because Steve has carried me there in the neurological collapse-mode of a seizure attack.  This happens twice per week.  I’ll pass out at some point thereafter only to awaken in less than 4 hours, usually with another episode of tazoring.  Many days the tazoring wakes me up in the middle of the night.  Good grief!  That’s what happened last night prompting this blog.  When I do wake up in the middle of the night I have to find a way to yank myself out of bed or they will continue indefinitely!  This also happens twice per week on average.  The other nights I endure an episode sometime between sunset and midnight then I am wide awake until 4:00 a.m. or so.  If I can wait until I feel sleepy then the episodes falling asleep will usually be shorter and sometimes not at all.  I love it when the latter happens!  The best schedule for me then is to be up late, go to bed and sleep until noon-ish, endure a shorter waking tazoring then attempt to move forward with the day.  I love days when I do not have any appointments that disrupt this schedule!

The only “treatment” I can tolerate at the moment is a strict diet, coconut oil, colon hydrotherapy to detox, and extreme mold avoidance.  Occasionally I can take a short walk late in the afternoon or use our elliptical for 5 minutes, usually in the middle of the night before bed.  My diet is mold-free, gluten-free, sugar and sweetener-free, dairy-free, and low oxalate.  The latter has produced some detox reactions that appear to be beneficial; bone broth is incredibly nurturing to my digestive tract.  Most medications, pharm-grade supplements, and typical detox/immunity foods (such as lemon water, probiotics, ground flax seeds or oil) produce convulsions.  Not good.  This syndrome has a name:  Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.  The good news is that my gut health is better than it has been in a long time.  That tells me that the dietary strategies are working!  There are times when I feel more alert and my thinking is clearer.  At times my memory is better.  To my delight the creative juices are flowing again as reflected in my latest designs at Trinity Jewelry by Design.  And sometimes I am even able to make jewelry during the daytime instead of just with the crickets outside the window of my cute little studio area . . .

October 11th will mark the 3 year anniversary of becoming sick.  (For more on that story, see the About Julie page.)  I’ve been off from work for 2 1/2 years now, the longest since I started working in at the Penny Candy Place as a teenager.  No work or disability income is in sight.   The Lord has provided for my every need through my gracious husband and His grace.  Through it all Steve and I have been challenged to the ends of our human strength through unbelievable trials yet somehow feel closer to each other and to the Lord than ever before.  Steve is my hero!  DSCF0245We trust in Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 41:3Psalm 71:14, Revelation 21:1-8 and more.  The Lord is faithful to His Word:  we have seen it, we hope in it, and His living Word carries us through it all.  Even in those split seconds when it feels like my heart, my breathing, and my brain waves have ceased to function and I do not know if life will continue for me, I am no longer afraid.  That’s how real the hope of heaven, the reality that my eternal life has already begun as a child of the King, the loose grip I have on the things of this earth are to me.  Oh Gentle Reader, can you say that too?

So many unknowns fill our days.  We can respond with woe and fear or we can respond with FAITH.  And our faith is only as strong as that to which we apply it.  I hope that you will join me or have put your faith in the omnipotent God over all.  Yes, I wrote all. 

Nothing less will do when faced with the next, er, bite in the shorts.  You know I had to say it didn’t you?!    :]

 

Moments so dear

wed-5In the closeness of our embrace

I longed to stay there all night.

Alas I could not for the darkness shook within my soul:

An unknown sort that is staying longer than its welcome.

He went away to catch the rest sorely needed

After caring for me again late into the moonlight as every night for awhile.

Sometimes it’s just to say “hey,” sometimes to nourish my weakened frame:

Oh how his love has shown true in sickness and in health as promised.

How will I love thee as you have loved me my dear?

Could there ever be a way to fill your coffers with sweet blessings as you have mine?

I hope we have many years to find out together my humble knight

To explore the longings of nights ended much to soon —

In this I too shall rest, with hope and great expectation

Of a day languishing with you in a string of moments so dear.

For now it’s “goodnight my love.”  Until that day comes I shall love thee in my heart more than my touch can say . . .

Bears Rule

Bears solve problems

Yes:  bears do solve some kinds of problems!  While in the comic strip above it appears that sometimes they can cause them too, this is not the case with a “bear” I happen to know personally.  I just picked this cartoon because it has a furry creature in it of the grizzly variety.  The one of which I am particularly fond is my River Bear:  my beloved Steve!  He’s my hero and an amazing athlete too (cycling and kayaking).

Steve in his Mohican surf ski at the 2013 Wildcat Creek Race
Steve in his Mohican surf ski at the 2013 Wildcat Creek Race

I am grateful to the Lord to be blessed with a man after the Lord’s own heart, smart, respected, handsome, personable, athletic, and loved by many especially his four children.  He is my kinsman redeemer:  the one whom the Lord provided as my husband, my intended beloved for the rest of my days.  Steve has risen to the challenge of helping me through some very ugly aspects of a biotoxin illness.  Amazingly while he feels for my suffering it never seems to affect his love and care for me.  Sure he may be tired from staying up late with the wretched episodes but I never feel any less loved.  His care and confidence in me never changes.  His devotion transcends our situation.  He is my Jesus with skin on for sure and I am exceedingly grateful.

I love you Steve.  And I thank you Lord for your incredible blessing in my Stevers.  Lead him and protect him, grant him wisdom and your grace as he fulfills the call you have placed in his life.  Strengthen him, sustain him, and help him to continue to shine for your glory.  In Jesus name, amen.

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