It wasn’t meant to be

happy place, home, where the heart is, house, Christian, in the arms of Jesus

I placed a special welcome from her favorite store across the country in her room. Did she notice?

Maybe I did too much in my own strength, albeit waning and waxing until the day came.

Maybe instead it was obedience to the Lord that so many details were honored in anticipation of a good result, a finishing well.

Maybe the one that did not get cared for along the way was my own flesh and blood, although I really tried . . .

Maybe our need for firmness and clarity covered my love for her.

Maybe now that I am purging everything I can to clear my mind, my Lord will let me know what happened with this caregiver thingy gone awry.

Maybe there simply was no way this arrangement could succeed no matter how hard we tried.

Maybe there will be restoration one day, maybe not.

For today, I still grieve.

JJ

I miss you

A Letter to My Former Self:

I miss you dear one:

Your silliness, creativity, spontaneity, occasional complaints.

You have left me here quite empty

With shards of who you once were hanging in a forgotten frame.

If only she would come back

All things would be right again with the world, no?

Yeah that is a definite nada

Since we can never retrace the exact steps that brought us here anyways.

“So what to do with my longing?” I ask.

That’s a tough question barely understanding the answer that has come,

For we will not be happy back there

This foolery we must shed to fully be present in the “now.”

For Christ alone provides the joy within

Not circumstances nor that driven by the shallowness of this life.

Better to place one’s heart in the Lord’s hands today

And consider the blessings that would have been missed had we gone another way.

I cannot get back what has been lost all these years

Better for me not to miss the opportunity before me this very hour,

 

Than to have myself facing the wrong way when my Savior comes to take me home.  JJ

ephesians 5, 5.17, ephesians, Lord, will, my life, let go, let God

It Just Doesn’t Matter that much anymore

What others think of me, especially online, used to concern me to the point of scrutinizing every typo and punctuation mark!  Tell you what, it just doesn’t matter that much anymore (IJDMTMA).

Keeping in mind the reason for every significant action in my life so I can justify it, rationalize any lapse in judgment, or simply give me another reason to criticize myself occupies less of my mental space these days.  It takes too much energy.  Any other reasons would go against what I just said!  IJDMTMA.

Cataloging significant records that document the divorce I endured, the major court case I lost, the medical conditions that have come my way, too many artifacts and photos of special events, and purchasing new file cabinets to keep track of these events and more (I have 15 packed drawers in various lateral files, desk drawers and file cabinets, plus quite a few plastic bins around!) involves more-purging-than-storing these days.  If I need it that badly surely I can find it online somewhere, right?  IJDMTMA.

I now live in a town where the cost of living is so affordable that a few people I know have a second home just to store their stuff!  Or folks rent storage spaces in addition to their primary residences (and I am not talking about those living in an apartment or condo!). Gratefully my husband, Steve, and I live in a modest home that requires us to purge stuff periodically!  We don’t want to keep accumulating stuff!  This Christmas I will need to discard numerous Christmas decorations that were up before we remediated our home for mold damage.  The most treasured items will be consolidated into one bin.  I’m going to have to get tough and proclaim:  IJDMTMA.

Similarly, musty memories, painful flashbacks, grief beyond what most must endure, and the drag-me-down burdens that comprise life’s worries have come to the surface with the wretched convulsive episodes of the illness I have been battling.  I simply could not stop the process if I tried.  Perhaps these came as a consequence of a few illnesses that have affected my brain?  No one knows.  What I do know is that If there are to be any redeeming benefits to the nightmares of these past 4 years it must include the involuntary healing that came as these demons were set free.  Yes, the seizures helped release some bad stuff going on in my head.  Carrying this mental baggage has gone down immensely along with the emotional pain.  A different kind of healing has occurred as a result.  Joyfully, IJDMTMA.

The losses of what I once held so dear (i.e. many relationships, my occupational role of 32 years, more financial freedom, certain activities, physical fitness, and the ability to function normally) has been heartbreaking.  But just like learning to let go of other people, places, and things in my life, these intangibles had to be released to the care of my Heavenly Father as well.  At this point I do not know if any of them will come back.  Amazingly I have discovered that I still can have some good moments, make new friends and memories, have everything that I really need, and experience love like never before even with a total life makeover.  To the need for having things be just so I say, IJDMTMA.  Life goes better when held more lightly in the wonder of the moment . . .

How do I convey that “IJDMTMA” is a relatively peaceful, not a sad or angry place in which to be?  I simply have to be here right now.  This attitude has become like a protective coating to keep me from falling apart, from losing what is left, from thinking that my Jesus has abandoned me. He has not!  IJDMTMA is the construct into which I must retreat lest the grieving of what is no longer here overtakes me and blinds me to the goodness that still remains.   In Ezekiel 3:8, the Lord shows His prophet that He will indeed allow him to become “hardened” so that Ezekiel may not lose heart as he carries out the work of ministering to the nation of Israel still in exile.  Wow!  A God-ordained rebellion of sorts will help keep Ezekiel from discouragement.  A toughening will help him and his gifts to continue to be used for God’s glory.  Yes, I want the will and glory of my Lord too.  In the cocoon my Lord has woven for me I can say to all that other stuff:  IJDMTMA.

It just doesn’t matter that much anymore that things aren’t the way they should be or used to be.  I am still here and that matters to me.  Much goodness still surrounds me as I look around this room where I am sitting and see the pictures, handiwork, awards, furniture, and records that tell the stories of Steve and Julie.  Cool beans.  Better yet, just look into our eyes or sit and chat a spell to see more closely what real life looks like in those who are grounded in trusting the Lord for each hour of the day.  It isn’t perfect.  We don’t want our lives to be perfect anyways.  I have a sense that maybe yours isn’t perfect either.  It’s going to be o.k. for those who are in Christ Jesus.  One day soon we will be in His presence and the real stuff of life will be revealed.  And with His glorious light shining all around us we will be with our Lord and Savior for always . . .

Coming to faith in Christ does matter to make this all possible.  Dwelling in the presence of the Lord for all time will bring lightness of heart for all of eternity.  I will be there.  Will I get to see you there too Gentle Reader?

I’m tired.  Goodnight all.  JJ  Ezekiel, harden not your hearts, suffering, endurance, it don't matter to me, what matters most, Christian, marriage, overcoming, chronic illness, chronic pain, hope, trust, the Lord

No Day But Today

A long time ago I made a decision to use the word “love” a little more freely.  That decision came with another which was to not let concerns of what others would think of that get in the way of expressing that love.  For example, if it was a female friend then she would get that the “love” was within the context of loving a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, love like a sister that I never had, and possibly a bond that simply comes with walking through many years of life’s ups and downs together.  The transition would be instant, from “Take Care” at the end of an email to “Love, Julie” if we had just endured a crisis together.  When one heart is hurting, there is no other word that will suffice.  Love covers things well.

Born again believers know the author of love as God himself.  The scriptures instruct us that:

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.  1 John 4

The Lord is the perfect reflection and expression of what love looks like.  I do believe that those who are not in Christ have a sense of what love is like too.  That is why I feel comfortable including a video in which 1) two women are kissing and 2) there is a man dressed as a woman embracing another man.  If the relationships were real, they must have a sense of connectedness to express their love outwardly.  I am not condoning homosexuality.  I just might understand it a little more since my late Uncle Fred lived and died within the context of “the gay lifestyle.”  I still loved him despite this decision.  Oh how I wish he and others knew the deeper spiritual connectedness that comes in a God-fearing and God-honoring relationship!  The Lord blesses those Who love him first!  (Hebrews 11:5-7)  But that is not my focus here today.

My focus is the importance of expressing love everyday to those you care about.  It’s not weird!  I am reminded of this today in the middle of 8 days in which my husband and I will attend two funerals.  I had only met his Uncle Don one time and was more “acquainted” with Dave than knowing he and his wife Jane more “personally.”  It didn’t and does not matter.  As fellow believers in Christ, their character and lives had impacted my life with that level of connection.  Uncle Don warmly accepted my marriage to Steve that had come at a time when most of Steve’s children still could not.  Since I knew without a doubt that the Lord was blessing our marriage, it was refreshing to feel loved by his family.  I thank the Lord for this.

Also when Steve and I married and started to attend his church home, he pointed out couples with strong marriages that he wanted to model our relationship after.  Dave and Jane was one of them.  They had been married for decades by then yet still had a sense of fun, a spark, and a deep love for one another that was palpable.  They worked separate jobs outside of their home yet were usually together at church and other important events.  Dave served the body of believers, his community, his employer, and his family with equal enthusiasm.  Thank you for pointing out this great example of a Godly man, Steve.  And yes, you are much like him for sure!

Today I am unable to attend Dave’s funeral service due to complications of a serious, ongoing illness.  Last night was particularly wretched.  I had a sense that it would be risky to go to the funeral home and be around so many people and potential exposures that trigger convulsive episodes.  I went anyways. I am also in the middle of re-shuffling my treatment plan and have no idea what made things so much worse.  The only good part about that hellish 2 hours was the toning of my abdominal muscles from flexion posturing, writhing, seizing, moaning, and more.  Oy vey.  In the middle of it I asked for the Lord to remove this hell.  I begged for His mercy.  It must have come since at some point I passed out and woke up about 7 hours later . . .

Today I am beat up from all that has transpired in the past day.  Somehow I am still alive!  Though my heart is heavy with grief on many fronts, I do not regret pouring out the strength that I had to be with friends in their time of need.  I got to be out with my beloved husband and do one of the important things of this life.  Going to the wake reminded me of the truth told a gazillion times before:  there is no day like today.  There is nothing like love between two people, magnified and blessed when they are one in Christ.  And lest it be forgotten or unknown, it is important to express that love out loud and often.  For me this includes the love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  For just as it says in the song,

I die without You!

Talk about perfect love! Oh Gentle Reader, won’t you join me in sharing a little love today? 

With love, JJ

The Star

The Star of Palmer Lake is the claim to fame of this small town in Colorado by the same name.  Built on the side of Sundance Mountain in 1934 and rebuilt in 1976, this 500-foot star shines above the city in December and on special occasions every year.  I got to see this local wonder in the year 2003.

Palmer Lake Star, Palmer Lake, Colorado, Christmas star, December star, mountain, star on the side of a mountain, star at nightRobert had a gentle spirit as a kid.  He talked less than his older brother and sister yet they often knew what he was thinking based upon the look on his face.  A stern look that made his face turn as red as a stuffed sausage meant that this little kiddo needed to get to the bathroom right quick!

Perhaps Rob was more sensitive than they realized:  the kind of kid who took in the good and the bad without saying much while growing up in a single-parent home.  Rob looked like his dad which may have given him some slight favor . . . or at least that is what his older brother, Mike and their mom would say.  But Rob was too young to really get to know his dad before he divorced his mom then eventually became estranged from the family altogether.  How did Robert Matthew Lech get to be so mechanically inclined anyways?  Decades later it became very clear that the instruction manual for the Motor City Gear Head that Rob became was in his DNA as well as from those years as a young child when his dad was still around tinkering with this and that in the basement workshop.  Just like his Dad, Rob could fix just about anything!

There’s one thing, however, that he could not fix.  Rob could not change the fact that his dad left without a trace until many years later.  All of the kids would be grown up by the time they learned that “Ted” was living in Florida.  The older sister had moved to Chicagoland and the older brother had returned from the Navy.  Rob had completed an aviation mechanic certification course with his buddy Karl, then never took the test to actually become certified.  Rob drifted a bit then became the Grease Monkey who could answer most any question when you dropped by to see him at the local NAPA auto parts store near Palmer Lake.  He would often help his customers fix their cars as well, no charge.  Rob had many friends for sure.  Many of them joined him at the bar of the bowling alley in the evening, much like the camaraderie of the 1980’s television show, Cheers.

Rob reached out to his Dad some time after receiving his Dad’s address from his mom.  It might have been when the family received notice of his Dad’s brother’s passing that they all saw Ted’s address in Uncle Fred’s legal paperwork.  Someone had found Ted!  Ted’s sister, Lori, went to visit and Ted reportedly shunned her.  But for some reason Rob needed to try to reach out to him anyways.  Something inside of him still needed to know his father, the one he had come to be like.  These things would be revealed many years later, of course.  No one got to know Ted just then.  Ted responded to the letter that Rob finally sent to his Dad, telling Rob not to contact him again.  Ted said that he had a mental illness and he had found a way to live with it which included estrangement from his family and everything in his past.  Ted slipped away into anonymity once again.  So very sad, really.

Rob was devastated.  Rob had another close friend, Dewey, who had passed away which was doubly devastating for this tender-hearted young man.  Rob never seemed to overcome the loss of these two important men in his life.  His drinking increased and his life crumbled.  Before he died he had started to ask questions about God and may have even attended a local church to find some peace.  Cans of food from a local food bank were found in his disheveled mobile home along with the slot cars from racing with his dad and brother at local tracks as a boy.  Ted Lech, aka “Mr. Motor” was a champion slot car racer and design engineer behind Dyna-Rewind:  the fastest motors in the cars on the tracks in the 1960’s.  Mike and Rob’s best times were shagging cars during competitions, especially those where their dad smoked all the other race cars every Thursday night!

Dyna-Rewind, Dyna Rewind, Ted Lech, Mr. Motor, slot car racing

Dad’s Slot Car

I found the letter from our Dad in Rob’s wallet when my mom, Mike and I got into town after Rob had died.  I was devastated.  I, too, carried big hurts from our Dad leaving us as children and so did Michael.  We needed our Dad and he could not be there.  I grieved the pain that my little brother must have carried to his grave.  I loved Robbie so much!  Then I found a picture in his wallet, the only one he carried with him every day.  It was a picture of me.  Oh dear.  My brother loved me too!  Sigh.

I am not quite sure why this memory is so tender for me right now.  I am not quite sure why it still hurts so very much.  I am not quite sure my little brother Rob knew how much I really loved him.  Oh Rob, how I wish you were still here!  I wish you could meet my really cool husband Steve and talk with him about cars and motors and carburetors and hemi engines and more!  I sure miss you Raaaaaabeeee!

It is quite possible that Steve and I will do some travelling West this Fall.  Lord willing, one of our destinations will be New Mexico and potential places north of there for us to live where the climate is dryer.  We just may have to visit Palmer Lake, Colorado too.

Rob’s ashes were dispersed at the base of one of the stars on the side of the Palmer Lake Star on Sundance Mountain in the late summer of 2003.  Mike and I climbed up the steep slope, hanging onto brambles, posts, and the cables that comprise the outline of the star while our mom waited and watched from the road below.  Two of Rob’s friends from the bowling alley lead the way for us while we huffed and puffed fighting altitude sickness to complete our mission to place Rob at rest.  His remains are part of the mountain that he called home:  the second light fixture from the upper right point of the 5-pointed star.  It’s also right next to the resting place of his friend and neighbor, Dewey.  Kind of poetic in a way . . .

I do hope that somehow Rob made peace with his past through the tender love of our Heavenly Father before he passed away.  I hope that I will see my little brother and his lanky frame, cute smile, and soft brown eyes when I reach the presence of the Lord someday.  Hey Robbie, you will always be a shining star in my memories, my heart.

man with cat, Robert Lech, Rob Lech, man wearing baseball hat, man in apartment, guy with cat, pet cat

And thanks again for fixing up that 1974 Nova for me too!  JJ