A missed opportunity to minister

James 1:2-8 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Perhaps it is a weakness in my character that requires refinement?  To witness the love of Christ to others in our times of trial serves as both a powerful witness for Christ and perfector of our own faith.  Heck, with the amount of suffering I have endured, I don’t want any of it to be wasted.  Or repeated!  So today I wonder if it is possible that I have missed one particular situation of opportunity:  the Emergency Room.  Finally my broken heart has calmed down enough to consider the possibility . . .

Ten times I have landed in the ER in the past 4 1/2 years.  The first time was at the beginning of this illness with the viral hepatitis that started it all.  The next nine trips were all for wretched, continual seizure attacks that would not stop.  Most times the ER Docs could get them and the pain that accompanied them to stop with a combination of fluids and some kind of medication.  Often the medication made me worse.  Usually I would walk out of there about 5 hours later as a beaten puppy with an exhausted husband faithfully at my side.  And sometimes I even got a break in the convulsive episodes for some of the subsequent 24 hours.  This became less true with each subsequent visit.

Twice during my severe distress, barely able to punch out a few words when having difficulty breathing and my “brain on fire,” I have sworn at the person who I thought was not helping me.  Not cool.  Even a person with Tourette’s Syndrome or senile dementia has some responsibility to try to find reasonable means to communicate his or her needs.  My frustration got the best of me and I forgot who I belong to in Christ.  I forgot Who was in charge those nights in the ER.  I forgot who allowed these refining fires into my life for my highest good.  I lost the image He gave me of His tears as He hung from the cross for me.  I ceased to remember the gifts, the crown of glory that awaits those who are in Christ Jesus.  I certainly did not remember that even these ugly things were working together for my good (Romans 8:28) even when amongst the staff at the hospital.  And my witness for the One Who saved me was tarnished for sure.  In my own strength, I failed to get my needs met and failed to minister.  We left this past Friday night with me weeping, still seizing, and unable to walk . . .

Sure, I am human:  weak, limited in strength and in power.  I pray and my husband prays continuously for all aspects of this illness.  I submit to the will of Christ.  I could also describe for you the victories, the growth, the good things that have happened amidst the traumatic.  For example, Friday night after an IV treatment for chronic Lyme disease was supposed to be for salvaging what remained of my birthday.  That did not happen when I spent the evening in the emergency room.  I was sick all day on Saturday and Sunday.  Even so there were sweet gifts at dusk on each of those days and in the morning on Monday when I got to work in my garden again; for that I am grateful.  My spirit soars out there dontcha know . . .

Here is the scripture that is convicting me on a Tuesday.  See if you can follow where my heart, where my spirit has led me:

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (NIV)

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Such is the opportunity for ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for those who suffer.  It’s not all about us.  My Lord, help me in your grace to use the witness of Your own life and the apostle Paul who wrote these words to strengthen my own ministry in times of need for your glory.  I have failed and want to do as You would have me do no matter what happens to me.  Please strengthen my beloved Steve as well.  Thank you for his care, love, and companionship in the best of times, the worst of times.  Bless him oh please.  He has been so good to me.

1 Peter 5:4, crown, glory, submit, His will, crown of glory, thy will be done, purpose, suffering, hope, Jesus Christ, reward, heaven

 

 

So much to consider

Phil 1:12, Philippians, trials, suffering, endurance, Christian, crisis, long term, illness, chronic, humor, gallows12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.”  Phil 1:12

Just as this picture and this scripture present two extremes of perspective for the activities of life, they are united in one theme:  we shall rejoice with Christ as our guide!  Yeah, I know that is a stretch . . . but we do know that the God of the universe has a sense of humor too, right?  I mean he created aardvarks, zebras, and tse tse flies!  What’s up with that?  Oh I know that the Original Adam named them all but just how did he do that?  They were all such weird creatures!  So it follows then that humor can help us endure many kinds of extremes, even the ones you and I are facing today.

Take for another example the thieves that attempted to steal gasoline from an RV.  This is a true story:  instead of tapping off the gas line they ended up tapping off the septic line instead!  When the fluid started flowing it was not fuel it was the polar opposite:  stool!  So sad.  Such a righteous punishment I must admit!  And as a grateful owner of a travel trailer all I can say is:  Tee hee with a smirk.  ;}

I cannot say that I can relate to the paradoxical themes of life with much right now with much lightness of spirit right now, however.  I’ll just keep it simple:  there’s some good and there’s some that is not.

On a good note I am grateful to report a widening of social contacts of late.  I’ve reached out to some old friends and some newer gals have jumped back into my world from my local church.  I appreciate the friends that I’ve met online (and you know who you angels of mercy are) and hope we can extend our fellowship.  All of this is good.  It’s amazing how all believers in Jesus Christ share a common unity even when the circumstances of our lives can be so different.  We all have our daily wants and needs; our Lord cares for the desires of our hearts tenderly and for these we can pray in earnest for one another.

On a less good note, new I.V. antibiotic treatments for chronic Lyme disease are going quite roughly.  Yup, revisiting Lyme since the persistent seizure attacks sure look like the episodes of others dealing with the neurological complications that can happen long after the acute infection has come and gone.  It was 4 years ago that I first started treatment for Lyme when things got sidetracked for treatment of mold and mercury toxicity, dental issues, Candida, parasites, and a possible oxalate burden exacerbating fibromyalgia pain.  Use of a Rife machine brought daily seizure attack episodes and treatment of Candida escalated them from 2 to 5 hours of convulsive episodes per day!  I was bedridden the better part of about 4 days each week this past Spring, Summer, and Fall.  So beginning in January I was started on high doses of IV Rocephin (antibiotic) and I remain sickly but out of bed more of the time.  This treatment coupled with the wintry temperatures below freezing have brought incredible pain.  However, the days that I am up until daybreak every night of the week has cut down; tinnitus, brain fog, and other executive functioning skills are sloooooowly shifting for the good.  Sometimes even the pattern of convulsive episodes shift as well (thank you liposomal melatonin!).  Just maybe these past 4 years have not been wasted after all!  It appears that each new treatment has prepared me for such a time as this:  we just might be able to treat this remaining beastly diagnosis and its co-infections to get well . . .

There is so much to consider.  Will I continue on antibiotics long term?  Will my health insurances help us out or cut us off next week?  Will I be able to get a port to spare my aching skin and forearms from repeated pokes and dressings that trigger more wretched episodes?  When would I transition back to more herbal-with-pharm-grade supplemental interventions?  Will the reactivity to mold and fragrances ever come down or do I have to go live in a pristine environment somewhere for a few months later on to fully detox?  How much more stress can my beloved husband, Steve, be expected to bear?  And how will we pay for all of this?

As the frigid Winter temperatures of the Midwest bring more of a sense of retreat than charging forth into the unknown, we are choosing to press on anyways with my treatment for chronic Lyme disease.  I just wear long underwear everyday to keep warm!  We are starting where we are with a local, Lyme-Literate Medical Doctor who has treated dozens and dozens of cases successfully.  I know that to be true.  I have met many of them when we had a local Lyme disease support group.  I noticed that each of us facing this dreadful disease had chosen a somewhat unique path to his or her recovery based upon the damage the infection caused to our bodies and our individual resources.  (See this link for more info on chronic Lyme.)  Perhaps my case was one of the more severe.  Perhaps the Lord had more than “recovery” in mind when He allowed this serious illness into my life.  There is so much to consider that simply was not on my radar over 4 years ago.

If you have found this blog by way of your own journey through chronic Lyme disease or some other serious illness, know that I am praying for you.  There is hope!  You are not alone, Gentle Reader.  Please comment below and allow me, if you like, to connect you with a larger community of those finding meaning beyond his or her diagnosis.  Our Lord, Jesus Christ, grieves for your suffering, your fear, your broken heartedness.  He sees you and will see you through what you are facing as He has done so for me and Steve.  He loves you more than anyone (including the furry pup above who has found his prize squirrel in the sunshine of a better day).

May we both smile some day in the arms of our Heavenly Father for having connected this day, for His glory.  And, um, when we get our prized prey I’ll just say, “please pass the catsup.”  Squirrel on the Bar-B-Que anyone?  Ewwwwww!  :JJ

It is here!

HOPE eBook CoverIt is here!  I am grateful to announce that my new eBook is now available!   Simply use the coupon code UR45T for your free copy beginning November 1st at:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/371334

The first year enduring and battling a serious illness can test everything we thought we knew about coping with the trials of life.  In this ebook, I invite you to share the more meaningful moments of my journey as I seek to draw strength from outside of myself to endure the trials of my particular story.  My hope is that you, too, will find strength and hope that transcends your day-to-day experience.  I also hope that you will consider the hope found in God though a personal relationship with His Son.  His presence in One’s life makes a difference in where a person lands when this particular journey of life is over.  Will we have peace or will we have despair?

With a sincere heart, it is my privilege to share my journey with you.  Let not these trials of ours be wasted, eh?  Gentle Reader, are you ready for enduring hope beyond what we can see?  If your answer is, “Yes!”  then I invite you to read, Hope Beyond Lyme:  The First Year.  With extra bonus pages and the most meaningful and encouraging vignettes updated from this blog, may it uplift you, knowing that you are not alone, not today, not ever.  :J

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While I would never compare my experiences these past 2 years to the incredible suffering of the apostle Paul of the Bible, I draw encouragement from his words as noted below.  My prayer on my most wretched of days was that there would be some greater purpose for this illness, that something meaningful would come from it.  I hoped that my writing would not be a rant that went no where.  I did not want to end each posting with more anger, hurt, sadness, or negativity than when I began either.  My hope is that I would leave you with more good than not-so-good.  To encourage others, well, that would be awesome as well as pose a tremendous responsibility to get it right as a matter of stewardship.  The Lord gave me a voice and my hope was that I would use it to glorify Him most of all.

If you like what you see here, would you kindly share it with others?  The free coupon special won’t last long!  And thank you for being with me along this journey thus far.  Shall we continue the adventure another year together?  Oh I hope so!  Take care Gentle Reader,  Just Julie

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12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.  (Philippians)