A Call to Grace

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.  (Gal 1)

butterfly, Galations, serve, burdens, break free, servant, let go,Christian, heart, image

From the perspective of the supernatural power of grace bestowed by my Lord, Jesus Christ, I write to you this day.  For my flesh is more broken than before, hopes beaten up from the road, and spirit exasperated from the waiting.  Yet I am compelled to look beyond my angst to the call to grace . . .

If I have fallen short of praising my Lord then I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  The alms and adoration to my Savior is what shall draw me nearer to Him and lift my sorrows.

Should I have focused too much on my own needs and not those of others then my selfishness has thus blinded me.  The trials of life have more to do with our response to these trials (and more importantly to others) than to their resolution.  I cannot serve others when my mind is full of woe.  There is always room to love on others.

When I act to make my own plate o’ food and have not called upon God’s infinite power to feed my family then I have shorted all of us to the weakness of my own hands.  My Lord is sufficient for me, enables me to serve beyond my ability.

Where my face has turned to the shiny distractions of this life, pining after them (or worse coveting that which I have been blessed) then I have really made my world smaller.  Who knows the blessing that will come from sacrificial giving?  Gratitude?  And proper placement of my gaze to the Cross?

How much better it is to wait on my Heavenly Father than to cry out my need only to act thereafter in my own strength?  Oh Lord, help me to wait, to listen, to dwell and nothing more during these times.

That about sums it up right now.  Thank you to those who prayed for me last week and who remember me in your prayers.  Please let me know how I may serve you too, k?

JJ

Vampire Diaries 3

“It’s only a day away,”

The curly haired girl would sing on stage

‘Cause the sun did come out “tomorrow”

And that was all that shined over here, alas.

Bedbound once again

I search my mind in wonder:

What penance doth I need to serve?

What sin doeth I need forgiveness?

Thy husband is off on his adventures

And I am here, alone with you

Exasperating in another lost day

Where even the counselor had little to say.

My Lord is silent on such an occasion

Perhaps waiting for me to simply dwell

And know that He is there

Even when I cannot see, feel, or touch His face.

Is this my fate, I ask to the silence around me?

Perhaps it is.  Perhaps nothing will ever change.

I am to rejoice the Scriptures tell me forthright

That must come from grace for my strength fails,

Lest a key drops into my space with some goodness

This day I will simply breathe one nare at a time

(Until the pounding in my head subsides, alas.)

Psalm, psalm 139, 9-10, dwell, peace, Scripture, Christian, strength, darkness

 

 

Little blue booties ring true

The little reminders that things are going to be o.k., that the Lord is in charge, and that you have all you need are quite an encouragement to me today.  I am seeing this more clearly as my head clears after a whirlwind “Plan B” long weekend.

We never made it to Branson, Missouri for the celebration of my Other Mom’s (aka mother-in-law’s) 80th birthday celebration.  Family was scheduled to land there from 4 States for a long weekend including the 4th of July.  My Other Dad (aka father-in-law) had an acute worsening of multiple joint pain and was unable to drive the two of them cross-country from California to Missouri so we made the decision to do what was best:  cancel and reschedule the trip for the Fall.  We all scrambled to cancel various reservations made for camping, cabins, the Dixie Stampede show, watering of the garden in our absence, etc.  Then this wifey-poo decided she still needed to get away . . .

Meanwhile, my life continues to be dominated by the treatment of chronic Lyme disease, a serious fungal co-infection (protomyxzoa rheumatica), and the complicated detox/supplement regimes that go with it.  While I am grateful for a solid treatment plan, the making of our home into a hospital plus the tangible reminders at home of thousands of hellish convulsive episodes begs for a change of scenery when possible.  Sure looked like the enormous effort to get away was going to be worth a bit ‘o respite from all of those reminders.  I reacted selfishly when everything changed.  I was more crushed for my own sorry lot than my mother-in-laws cancelled family gathering, big birthday celebration.  Maybe I need less of “poor me baby,” sentiment, eh?

Steve and I thought through our options.  We had cancelled supporting a paddling race in a town about 100 miles away since we were going to be gone so we re-volunteered to help out and bring our Stellar kayak display.  But travelling a total of 200 miles plus standing out in the hot sun all day recording race times and hosting Steve’s booth seemed a bit much after 3 straight days of IV antibiotics.  So what about camping afterwards?  In the end we worked into the wee hours of the morning the night before the race to make Plan B a reality!

  • Supporting the race.
  • Finishing up all shopping plus cooking within a day for my special diet.
  • Making new reservations to camp in 2 places over a holiday weekend beginning north of the race and en-route to a new destination.
  • Continue north to Silver Lake Dunes and the campground adjacent to a Christian camp where a young couple we know has worked for about 7 years.
  • Return home after the 4th of July for Steve to return to work, allowing him to finish some important training and projects that we would have missed had we gone to Branson.
  • Resume treatment at home after a 5-day break.
  • Commence about 8 loads of laundry, post-camping melee, etc. too!

So with a tremendous effort, the ebb-n-flow of violent reactive episodes that followed being off of my treatment schedule, and some sweet memories sprinkled therein we had a decent weekend overall.  At some level I exclaim:  how crazy!  And: Is it worth it?  Well my answer this time is different than in the past:  NO!  There still are too many noxious exposures from campfires in any campground to succeed at avoidance even inside a modest travel trailer.  There is always some type of breakdown that ends up stressing us out, creating conflict even nearly 5 years down the road from dealing with this serious illness.  When we got back I was ready to sell the travel trailer the Lord had provided the resources for almost 3 years ago.  What were we thinking back then anyways?  Trying to continue with a normal life was my focus then when I did not have a clear treatment plan.  Killing the beasts within me at an extraordinary cost is my focus now.  The proceeds from the sale could pay off some of our debt.  I was ready to let it go should the Lord be leading me to do so.

In a Christian marriage, the husband is the God-ordained spiritual leader of the home.  His headship is God’s design for the protection and provision of his wife and family as he follows the leading of the Lord.  I have come to trust this, be blessed as well in submitting to Steve.  As it turns out in the scenario I have shared here, Steve suggested that we wait to make a decision about the trailer until later this year.  We have a couple more trips planned and it is clear that he wants me with him on all of them.  How sweet!  His love is amazing.  We will make some further adjustments in how we handle things next time and hope that I will be doing better as my treatment progresses; going with a partial treatment holiday could work out better for travelling than dropping everything, Lord willing!

Oh did I mention the blue footies yet?  I bought a large box of disposable medical shoe coverings in anticipation of developing a new product this past Spring.  (I could earn some money to pay for the development of my real invention by my company, Two Step Solutions, Inc.)  Attaching a Swiffer-style duster with Velcro to the bottom of a disposable slipper makes a great foot-broom for dusting wood floors.  This saves a lot of time and effort as compared to other cleaning methods, IMHO!  Then when I continued to have difficulty functioning, the idea got shelved instead of developed.  Dang!  Flash forward 2 months later and those cute booties are part of the garments I ask my home health nurse to wear to avoid chemical/dust exposures when administering my IV antibiotics three times per week.  Works great!  And in thinking through all of this today I am reminded of these truths:

John 16:33 New International Version (NIV)

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Matthew 6:25-27 New International Version (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

My Heavenly Father and Husband is so good to me.  He loves me so and I get to feel it everyday in the arms of my beloved Stevers.  The Lord is there in times of wretchedness, times of joy . . . none of it will be wasted as He leads me home to dwell in the heavenly mansion of many rooms, near the river of Life, with the saints who have gone before me sheltered in His majesty beyond imagination.  Thank you Lord that you sprinkle some of that goodness into my days to encourage me, to encourage my beloved.  Thank you for caring about all the details of our lives.  I submit them to You.  We will wait upon the Lord, Jesus Christ, until You walk us home to sit at Your feet in awe and wonder of all that has gone before us:  from blue booties to a lighthouse along the shore.

This rings true above all else:  You are so good to me.  Thank you Lord.

Dunes Harbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, lighthouse, just julie writes, Julie Horney

Kayaking at Lighthouse Beach along Silver Lake Dunes

 

 

 

Romans 8:28, encouragement, encouraging scripture, all things work together for good, hope, hang in there

Torture, water-boarding and more: Part 3

[Eight hours have passed since I wrote Part 2 that chronicled the second phase of my recent hearing and vestibular testing at our local Balance Center.  Four hours of the eight were lost to persistent deep-brain convulsive episodes then passing out in exhaustion and tears for about 2 hours.  These episodes are different from those usually associated with epilepsy; I do not have epilepsy as I am awake, aware of my surroundings, sometimes able to communicate, and can often pinpoint the trigger of the living hell that follows.  (See this link for more information.)  The assessment was completed 1 1/2 days ago but its negative impact has lingered.  Here is my conclusion to this story with hopes of a little cathartic experience to follow as I use blogging to let go of the trauma that went before me.]

In Part 1 of this series I gave a brief history of the four years of illness that has precipitated the referral for testing at The Balance Center.  In Part 2, I shared the severe struggle I encountered with the first two parts of the second phase of test procedures rendering me useless on a treatment table with my own carbon mask covering my face, wretchedly seizing without end.  Eventually and by the grace of God the episodes finally stopped.  I learned that the 3rd phase of the testing would conclude in this third treatment room where I was lying and would normally take about 30 minutes to complete.  Alright, so again I rallied, sat up, got some new goggles calibrated, and got ready for battle.

The technician, “M,” had me lie back down on the treatment table for what appeared to be a simple process of keeping my eyes open in the darkened mask while she would be squirting some warm water into my ears, one at a time.  She said that the water would only be a couple of degrees warmer than my own body temperature but might feel much hotter than that.  She wrapped the left side of my head in A LOT of paper towels.  Then suddenly without any additional warning a massive blast of really hot water banged against my tender ear drum!  WTF?  (Seriously, I generally don’t swear so imagine something nasty like moldy f-ruitcake at this juncture!)  Then within seconds and before I could catch my breath CAME A SECOND BLAST of equally hot water!  Within 10 seconds I was massively dizzy, yes, the highest number on her 4-point scale, thank you very much!  How is this even possible?  What the heck could they possibly be testing through such a tortuous, water-boarding procedure?  I winced in more head and neck pain as the convulsive episodes immediately returned with a vengeance.  “Why Lord!?  Why all this suffering?” my heart cried.

I struggled as she kept telling me to keep my eyes open for two full minutes or we would have to repeat the sequence.  Oh dear not that!  All I wanted to do was close my eyes to retreat into the smallest cocoon in my mind and die.  (Someone please kill me now.)  Keeping my eyes open in a darkened room and blackened mask under these circumstances was more difficult that I can describe to you.  I was wearing my carbon mask PLUS the large black mask pictured in Part 2, much like Darth Vader in The Force Awakens!  Of course in the thick of the now-violent head banging it would be my only solace to close my eyes and hang on for a ride worse than a Mexican taxi driver racing along a dirt goat path along the side of a cliff.  (I know.  I have endured that too.)  I am not sure that I even breathed a peep for the remaining seconds.  “Please Lord.  Make it stop!” I pleaded in earnest.

“M” graciously gave me all the time that I needed to start to calm down enough to try again.  Perhaps, she said, she could allow me to skip the cold water-boarding torture test if I could only repeat everything on the right side too?  Well that almost seemed like some good news at last!  And there would only be one more test after this one.  “One more?  O.k.,” I thought to myself.  “I am not coming back to this holocaust-for-a-day ever again so I had better decide right now how much of this I can really take.”  And in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ the answer is faithfully:  all of it.  “Somehow, my Lord has seen me through so much hell in my life already,” I reasoned.  “Please Lord, help me finish so I can go home.”

The last 2 blasts of hot water were slightly less traumatic in my right ear since I now knew what to expect.  (Imagine that:  you are about to get burned in one of your most sensitive parts knowing that it will spike dizziness worse than any world-famous roller coaster ride.  You know that it is coming as the train click, click, clicks up the steep hill of the Gatekeeper at Cedar Point or some such nonsense.  Good times indeed.)  In that back room of The Balance Center I braced for impact.  Smash!  When the two minutes thereafter were done I wept from deep within my soul once again.  There no longer was anywhere safe for me, without sickness or pain, anywhere on the earth.  I am not being mellow dramatic.  I was a machetied puppy in my spirit and broken in my weary frame.  Everything hurt grievously.

In due time I was able to sit up, transfer to a chair, and finish the final light bar test.  I have no idea how I did this.  Suddenly the technician’s tempo increased and she revealed that she wanted to take me to the lobby so that she could clean the room!  I knew that I had taken longer than most patients in completing the battery of tests.  And that’s when her sweetness kind of stopped.  She re-appeared with a wheelchair as I was still deciding if I was alive or dead?  Could I move my limbs to get up or had I digressed into the neurological collapse that often follows severe convulsive episodes?  More shaking, more head-banging followed this time sitting up and it had not stopped yet when “M” returned.  (Those attacks are the worst kind, by the way.  No protection for my neck when flailing up in space.)  If my central nervous system was in collapse-mode then I would require maximum assistance to move.  Moments passed.  I breathed as best as I could.  I really needed to walk out of there under my own power . . .

And so I did.  I sat in the lobby for at least 30 minutes then another 20 minutes in my truck before even thinking about driving home.  I could barely eat a few bites of the makeshift lunch I had brought with me.  The words “shell-shocked” apply here.  By the grace of God I rallied again and was able to drive home.  Within a few minutes of arriving safely I came unglued, raced to our bedroom screaming and crying, overcome with grief, unable to speak to my beloved husband in complete sentences about all that I had endured that day.  My mind unraveled.  Somehow I completed the mold-avoidance procedures we follow when returning from any public place.  Hot tears streamed down my face, mixed with the cleansing water from the shower head washing away the horror, revealing the sinus and neck headaches, unmasking the fact that no where in my body was free of pain.  The bed received me at once with more thrashing/hell that was required to unwind all the damage that had been done.  Eventually I passed out for about four hours . . .

********************

Somewhere in this journey that the Lord has ordained for my life will be a glorious story of redemptive grace.  A miracle perhaps.  Healing?  Wisdom gleaned from the years the locusts have eaten, so to speak.  Blessings?  Those are promises that we all can count on when we walk with the Lord our God through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28).  We will know that our trials will not be wasted.  Something good will come from them whether in this life or the next.  When I am more recovered from The Balance Center ordeal I will speak about this with more confidence that I can today.  What I want you to know is that I am not giving up.  My heart raced and I was unable to breathe during one of the most violent episodes that transpired during the test procedures but I did not die.  That being said, it is again crystal clear there must be more for me in the future.  I am still here so why not get ready to really live instead?  I can deal with that one for sure.

And so can you, Gentle Reader.  But if you are “dead” in your sins then that is a different matter.  Why not choose life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who will one day replace all of this suffering with fulfillment of His promises?  Please contact me if you want to discuss this further.  Please allow my suffering to bring you renewal, bring you cleansing once and for all.  We simply do not have any more time to waste!

Godspeed.  JJ

From the side of the bed

8th Anniversary 11.24.15

Celebrating our anniversary November 24, 2015

 

2015-11-28 23.11.54

Sick in bed November 27, 2015

He has seen it all

My beloved, the one with soft blue eyes;

In the medical facility or on the road as we pass across the miles

He looks to me with a precious love that makes me swoon all the time.

It doesn’t matter my status that day:

The screams of terror, the gentleness of a warm embrace,

He just looks at me as if we were lying under a canopy, shielded from the hot sun

By the lush branches of a mighty oak one summer’s morn along the way.

But that is not what has gone before me once again these past 3 days and more

His vacation was spent caring for me in ways neither one of us would choose.

He steps forth to do what must be done just the same

And says of our time:  “we had a nice week now didn’t we?”  I guess so, maybe in some ways we did my love.

I sigh in awe, something short of disbelief.  How did love like this find its way to this place between us?  This bed is marked more by sickness than passion night after day after night?

Surely it goes beyond that which either one of us can see!

This walk was borne from the One who made us thus and so

The One who set this path for goodness, for purpose yet unknown.

While wasted days is all that I can see very, very late this night

(With tensions mounting, wills weakening under the weight of it all)

I see that my Heavenly Husband carries our hearts with His special sip of tenderness

Bringing sweetness to our lips when we need it most as he has so many times before.

From the side of the bed

I look up and know more than my Love,

Surely I humbly receive care from more than the one I can see.

Thank you Jesus for my Steve.  Thank you Jesus me loving so!

So if ever you are graced by a love like this, dear Reader, and I hope someday that you do:

Hold tight, hold fast with praise, with alms beyond your brokenness to discover what the Lord alone can bring.

For you are witnessing more than a miracle in the midst of hurricane:

You are finding grace that will see you through anything, truly, truly with love I say this to you.

JJ