Who will carry me?

It’s easy to bemoan the slide of morality in the United States recently escalated by the legalization of gay marriage.  What is natural to the human body has now been publicly adulterated by the unnatural.  The institution of marriage, which was created by God, has been changed by a few willful and unlawful men who did not even create the institution of marriage.  Alas another door has opened in our lives that will ultimately hurt everyone when his or her rainbow-colored eyes finally open to see it.  But most of us will never see the damage coming until it is too late . . .

When the truth, the pain of what we have done to ourselves is revealed, we will mourn.  Others will mourn the horror of what our complacency, our tolerance has produced.  Further, things will go horribly wrong even for those who believe that free living is right:  things that they could only imagine in a sex-slave murder mystery will come into their reality and hurt them too.  And those of us who have attempted to shine a light or sound an alarm on the moral decline will realize that what we have tried to do could never be enough to change unbridled evil.  Eventually, we all will grieve but for very different reasons.

So who will carry all of our tears?  Who will carry your grief and mine?  “Who” indeed.

boy and wheelbarrow, trees down, storm damage, carry, wheelbarrow, burdens, Lord carried me, Lord carried me, Footprints in the Sand
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Five-year old Braxton Davis joined the work crew 6.27.15 at Opechee Way and Nokomis Road, using his toy wheel barrow to remove leaves after a large tree fell in the front yard of his house at the Indian Village intersection.

The cute picture above denotes how we have trivialized the important issues of our day.  The picture above denotes how we have traded our core values and beliefs for a picture of life that feels good in the moment.  We have minimized the significance, the impact that our actions, our public statements, our private thoughts, the work of our hands can truly have in the larger picture of life.  These are not a small issues.  Eventually the magnitude and truth of who we are is always revealed.  Eventually a tiny wheel barrow carried by a child that is supposed to help us feel good about hundreds of thousands of dollars of storm damage will be crushed by the tsunami of horror headed our way.  Our world will never be the same for you and me beginning the events of June 26, 2015.

We cannot fix this.  No one individual, you or me, can carry us through to a better future. No one:  no President, no preacher, no crafty writer, no partner, no one can fix what is coming for us or carry our wheelbarrow of tears.  We are alone to face the consequences of these actions.  If we want the pain, the grief to stop then we will have to take our sorrow somewhere many of us have never gone before . . .  But where?

We understand the dilemma inside our own home too, in another way.  Last night was hell for me and Steve.  In the middle of 3 1/2 hours of  continuous convulsive episodes, I struggled to squeak out a request for him to carry me to the bathroom.  I was also in the middle of a 24-hour urine hormone test procedure so imagine my shame in trying to figure out what to do when my hands or legs were not working right.  Neurological collapse had settled in.  Gratefully as soon as he got me upright and helped me with a sip of water, I could use my hands well enough to position the urine cup myself when sitting on the toilet.  I was able to get the sample and dump it into the collection receptacle resting in the bottom of the tub next to the toilet.  Steve then helped me back to bed just in time for the next round of head-banging, wailing, tears, and terrible pain.  And so it went for the sixth night in a row.

I am grateful that when Steve is home, he is very capable of carrying me.  He has done so a hundred times.  He has held me through the ugliest of moments, fed me, clothed me, prayed, and artfully let his deft gallows humor fly at just the right moment in time when we both needed it!  Then there were the thousands of times when he was not there and I still needed help.  I needed to get to the bathroom but my legs would not move.  My throat was parched from cries of sheer angst, hyperventilation, sweats episodes, and chronic dehydration.  I wondered if my next breath would arrive or not.  My tummy growled for hours and I could do nothing to satisfy the hunger.  My brain became too numb to figure out what was in my ability to do or not anyways.  Oh the neck pain from the seizing!  Fearful thoughts, not my own, pushed into my mind by force of some electrical misfiring that goes with seizure activity.  And I cried deeply, feeling alone.

In those moments, Jesus Christ carries me (John 16:32).  I am not alone!  Jesus Christ carries and equips Steve over and over again for the tasks at hand in our marriage (1 Peter 4:10).  Jesus Christ will also carry those who do not know him whenever, wherever they finally reach out for help (Psalm 10:17).  Our God, Jesus Christ, is worthy of our reach since He created us out of love:  shown to all as He grieved bloody tears for our sorrow, our pain (John 11:35) that we endure in this life.  He existed before the time, space, and material that characterizes our lives (John 1:1-4) and is the very reason that we are here.  He loves us more than we can ever imagine and is always here for us, no matter what is going on around us (or within us!) (Matthew 28:20).

Further, we can never say that what freedoms we want, doubts we have about our lives, or the philosophy in our own minds will have anything to do with Who God is.  God, the triune Holy Spirit, Father, and Son (Jesus Christ), is separate from mankind and is not subject to the constraints of this earthly life.  Our ideas simply cannot match up. We will never fully understand Who He is with our finite minds so rejecting Him won’t get you anywhere worthwhile.  The answer to our questions, our unmet needs in life is belief.

Because we are finite, we must place our belief in that which is infinite:  true yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The only entity that is infinite is God.  He never changes.  He is perfect, all-knowing and we are not.  We can reach out to Him in with our tears, know that He cares (Psalm 139:17-18), know that He has our back (Jeremiah 29:11), and live on with hope for tomorrow amidst our trials, our heartache.  It follows then that our victory over the heartaches of this life is in Christ alone:  the Son of God.  Jesus Christ, manifest in His Word (the Bible), reflected in His creation, and felt through the longing inside our hearts, is not bound by our limited view of the world.  Jesus transcended this life when He died on the cross and rose from the dead.  Jesus Christ will “carry” each of us through the mysteries of life to a better place when we place our trust in Him (John 3:16).

Our Lord Jesus Christ made the difference for me and Steve last night and a hundred other horrible nights.  Jesus Christ will make the difference for you too in everything, Gentle Reader, whether you choose to believe in Him now or at another time.  But why wait?  Why not enjoy His transcendent peace, love, joy, hope, and more right now?

For the believer in Jesus Christ, it doesn’t really matter for our future, what is going on around us in the world right now.  We will live infinitely longer in heaven with God than the time it takes to complain about a Supreme Court decision.  Join me in doing what we can to love people, all people.  Reaffirm in our minds that we ultimately place our trust in only one place:  the Person of Jesus Christ.  He is the One Who matters most.  He is the One who will carry us from here into our blessed eternity with Him.  And that is a celebration worth waiting talking about!

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  (Jude 17-21)

The Lord is the one who carries me for sure.  What do you say we go together?

With love, JJ

The life I once lived

I’ve taken on a few phrases from others and made them my own over the years, ones that put a bunch of thoughts into a phrase or short sentence.  Not that these would bode well as my epitaph or anything like that mind you!  They just seemed to stick with me.  Here’s a biggie from an old supervisor named Jim.  He was a social worker by training and the director of the inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit where I was contracted to work.  When asked how things were going he would often reply:

“Same story, different day.”

Funny thing is that it was largely true.  On the Generations Unit there generally was at least one person every day screaming non-stop, voiding in an inappropriate location, wandering into another patient’s room unannounced, refusing to eat, refusing to get out of bed, or making up a story to convince him and psychiatrist that he/she did not need to be there.  Yes it was a crazy place.  That’s what you get when the nursing homes send their residents whose behavior can no longer be managed in their facility.  It is also where a depressed little old lady or your suicidal Uncle Pete would go for supportive therapies, meds., daily structured activities, and a round of ECT if needed (aka shock therapy!).  The latter actually worked very well for older adults.  The short term memory loss and massive headache was a major drag for awhile, however!

I worked there as an occupational therapist.  My role was to evaluate the functional level of the patient and assist the team in forecasting discharge plans while providing therapeutic activities.  The goal was always to achieve improved mental status, mood, and functioning for discharge to the least restrictive environment.  That might translate to a person returning home instead of assisted living or remaining in a private room in a nursing home instead of a locked dementia unit.  Sometimes the patient’s goals were reached and sometimes not.  Educating the family on the patient’s needs post discharge was also my role:  an important and sometimes delicate process.  I loved all of it.  I got to apply my skills in standardized assessments, grading activities for the best outcome in lower and higher level cognitive groups, patient and family education, and knowledge of community resources that may be of assistance post discharge.  The two latter skills were collaborated with the unit social workers who also loved working with older adults.  We had a great team back then . . .

I’ll never forget the two weeks that c-diff ran rampant through the unit.  C-diff is short for Clostridium difficile:  an infection of the colon causing horrific diarrhea and inflammation.  It’s a bacterial infection I can now diagnose by smell.  O.k. perhaps that’s too much information?  When virtually all of the inpatients become sick it is only a matter of time before the staff contract the infection as well.  There are just too many common areas in a locked unit that too many people end up touching with a contaminated hand after caring for a patient.  The motto those days was, “please pass the yogurt” or something similar!

Ruth was the best during situations like that.  She was older than me and had been a Certified Nursing Assistant for years.  She could get the toughest old bird to take a shower when he was resisting for days then she would turn around and feed a tender soul in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease bringing out the patient’s long-forgotten smile producing a long-lost twinkle in her eye.  Ruth often told us stories of her pet pot-bellied pig.  Seriously!  The beast weighed a couple hundred pounds but was part of their family, inside the house, potty-trained and behaved like a favorite feline or pup.  I could not imagine it!  Ruth lived in a suburban neighborhood like the rest of us!  Actually more recently while living in a smaller town with Amish homesteads not far away I can now start to imagine it a little better.  It’s still not for me, however!

The life I once lived was in the suburbs of Chicago amongst 8 million other people.  I was married and lived in a townhouse as it was the only affordable option even for two Master-degreed professionals or DINKS:  double income no kids.  We attended a mega church then a smaller Bible church, organized a yearly block party in the court of our neighborhood, and took walks together in regional parks called Forest Preserves.  I enjoyed neighborhood walks and riding my hybrid bicycle (between that designed for road touring and trail riding).  Holidays were spent with family in various cities as everyone was out of State for our Illinois locale.  Sure there were ups and downs with health issues or financial stressors but largely each day of our lives was the “same story, different day.”  When this got to be too much for my former spouse he found a way out and took it.  Hmmmm.  Alternately I found that you don’t really need a way out, per se.  Sometimes the “difference” we are seeking finds us as part of the Lord’s plan for our lives and it comes from within us instead of in the form of persons, places, or things . . .

Flash forward a myriad of moves of my residence, a change in the car I was driving, changing my job four times, transitions to new hair and clothing styles, some weight loss, and eventually moving to Indiana to marry Steve — over 10 years later I rarely say that old phrase anymore.  Oh even if nothing much has changed lately in my health or the circumstances of battling a serious illness, there are always new discoveries meeting me each day.  Things simply cannot be boring when you marry a man with as much energy as Steve!  He keeps me going just keeping up with all of his activities even when he is not home!  First there’s his four adult children and their families, then there’s his hobbies and sports, and his participation in the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ; the latter always brings news related to our church fellowship in addition to an intriguing message from the pages of the Bible.  That’s a lot to keep track of and I love it.  My garden, online jewelry business, and this blog fill in much of the rest of the time not taken with health-related activities.  How could I ask for more when my heart is full?

Sure my life has changed in the last decade or so and I’ll bet it’s the same for you too, Gentle Reader.  Is that o.k. with us?  As for me I would never have asked for the difficulties that have come in recent years that have added more “excitement” and stress than I could ever have imagined.  The crazy thing is that I would also have never known how to ask for the blessings that have come from this particular path either.  I would not want to be without the blessings just to have had an easier life.  I believe that I am exactly within the will of my Heavenly Father, that He has His hand on my life and my heart warmed in the shelter of His mighty wings.  He goes with me, goes before me this moment and the next; there are signs of His wonders sprinkled everywhere in my days.  I am so glad that I am not bored with my life.  Well yes of course there are times I’d like a little less “excitement!”  Yet that’s when I need to rest my cares at His throne of grace, allow Him to carry me like the famous Footprints in the Sand poem so graphically portrays, or wait on the Lord in the quietness of a moment of prayer . . .

I’m going to keep my head up and do like my brother, Mike, always used to say:  “keep moving forward.”  The life I once lived is gone but not forgotten.  Those memories bring gratitude for all that the Lord has placed in my life today:  a story that is never really the same.  In time my Lord will make all things beautiful.  In the meantime though I think it is finally time for me to go to bed!  There is a calmness in my spirit at last.  The sun is coming up and the birds are singing their morning hello just outside my window.  For me it will serve as a happy goodnight lullaby as I snuggle up to my intended beloved who brings me more joy than I could ever imagine.  Real love and more is here now.

Yes, Lord, it will be a good day I think.  :J

footprints-man-beach-morning

 

The Moments that Define

When you get up and cook for guests before your treatment and post-treatment nap, you know who you are.

When a moment of intimacy is not as much about you but about pleasing the one you love, you have decided how you will be.

The clock means nothing late at night when it’s time to pour out your heart as it comes alive at last.

The Bible app becomes a good reason to keep one’s head buried in that 3 x 4 inch techno time-sapper again.

A can of chicken is your main entrée when the guests dine on carbs and foods that would make your head explode.

All you can do is all you can do then you clean up the kitchen and make your husband’s lunch anyways.

You know that nothing is possible in your own strength and that the Lord is carrying you, sustaining you once again.

Tis then you know the moments that define bring glory to the One who holds your dreams in His heart until you are united again.

woman in despair