After another dead end in the road

So many times I have chosen the road less travelled.

  • Finally detaching myself from toxic, addicted friends and family members beyond the proverbial geographical cure that didn’t work.
  • Working hard in Al Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics as I discovered the extent to which abuse, dysfunction, relying on survival skills alone, and the absence of a Christ-centered view of the world made my world smaller and darker than it needed to be.
  • Accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
  • Pursuing my goals of higher education degrees in a family where at the time, only one blood relative had done so.
  • Starting and operating a home business several times despite not having all of the strengths needed for success.
  • Divorcing the man instrumental to my coming to faith in Christ when he would not return to our marriage nor his faith of sorts.
  • Embracing the Lord’s restoration of my life after much tragedy: a life total makeover of sorts.
  • Moving out of State to marry my Intended Beloved and start a new life in which I knew no one else but Steve.
  • Finding things that I could learn and still do despite a serious decline of my health and loss of my profession.
  • Never losing hope in the Lord or that better days lain ahead somewhere despite wretched convulsive episodes virtually every day for ten years.

Tough stuff, eh? Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace through it all! Tonight I’m not sure what to make of things when I find myself at the end of another road, another lifeline of a rope that has given me so much. After 3 1/2 years, I have decided to step down from my role as Editor of the monthly newsletter for the Extension Master Gardeners in our county. My 42 newsletters have been a labor of love for me: challenging my creativity, communication, and computer skills as applied to my favorite topic of gardening. I need to open up some time and energy to find new solutions to boost my health. Working on a newsletter in the middle of the night (because that is most often the time I am stable enough to do so) then being trashed all day the next day, then repeating this pattern a few times per month is just too much. It has become a dysfunctional pattern of living just to earn 15 volunteer hours every month. Regardless, I am sad to let it go. I need to let it go. I need to let it go not knowing to where the Lord will lead me from here. I will miss being “in the know” about our local volunteer gardening activities, upcoming events, and exciting developments on the horizon. Gee, I did ask myself about taking the next step towards becoming a board member and advance within the organization: a logical next step. Supervise the new Editor in addition to two other communications coordinators? No, came the answer to my prayer. Not this time or in this way. Sigh, I just wanted to figure out my next steps ahead of time. That’s not the type of road I am travelling on right now. The GPS is stopping right here. I have arrived at a blank screen. But why not?

Geez oh man. Talk about what is looking like another endless path with no answers. Let’s add a few more.

  • Why haven’t the thousands of hours of medical care, excess of a hundred thousand dollars of expenses, many hundreds of hours of research, and prayers of the faithful including my own yielded more fruit so to speak? We don’t know. No one knows.
  • Why did my Mother die right before I met my Intended Beloved? She never got to meet him. She would have loved him dearly.
  • Why did my former supervisor’s house burn to the ground the day before she intended to cancel my trip to see my estranged father right before he died? I didn’t know he was dying and had not seen him in 30 years. Turns out that I got to see him and she didn’t return to work until months later.
  • Why did my Grandmother die the day after I discovered my former husband’s affair? I couldn’t get out of bed to go to work, so overcome with grief.
  • Why have I survived all of the members of my immediate family with no one to carry on the family name? This leaves me feeling pretty empty at the holidays or special occasions.
  • Why did I get to marry the man of my dreams only to not be able to fly with him when he lifts off to so many cool places?

Just because, Gentle Julie. This isn’t heaven. You live in a fallen world marked by sin and evil with only glimmers of my majesty and goodness sprinkled amidst the darkness. Even so, I am God. I am doing a different kind of work in your heart, in your life with a different kind of reward for your faithfulness to follow me instead of the way of the world. I know all of your story. I know all of your sorrows, including ones that only I can see. I know because I am there loving you and seeing you through it all. Thank you for letting me in . . . could you do so even more? I grieve and suffer with you in ways that you can only imagine from what you can see, from my Word. Meet me there. I promise you that the strife, the unrelenting striving that leads to seemingly dead ends will be redeemed when I come again in glory. Lay your cares at the foot of my cross. I will hold them tenderly with your tears. Trust me. I will never leave you or forsake you.

So this blog is a bit of a downer tonight but it doesn’t end there. I write the truth as I know it and about the truth that sets me free. Me and you too, Gentle Reader. Do you know many sorrows too? Weep with me. Weep for your losses, your hurts, your unanswered prayers. Then take each one and place it beneath the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ right next to mine. He will take them for us from here. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know where the path we are on is leading us when we are living unto the Lord and following Him. What matters is the trail we are leaving behind. JJ

He knew

Still in shock from the news, with tears coming forth without notice

I grieve the sudden death of my brother and all that it means.

Where do I begin to tell the story of his life and mine intertwined?

I just can’t write very well right now.

One dynamic is clear though.

Just before he died, he had come to know and convey despite horrific suffering

That life in Christ is worthy of our primary focus. It supernaturally transcends the incredible chaos of our time whether it be in our own broken frame or the society at large.

I don’t think he lived this belief out perfectly in all areas of his world. But in conversation with me, his witness was clear: LIFE as in LIFE IN CHRIST is the most important matter of our days.

With this I find it curious that his final words to his companion and caregiver of many years were, “I don’t want to die.” But Mike, to live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil 1:21), ultimately to be with the Lord and perfectly whole. Why did you not give in to death when in a coma, when seizing, when facing searing pain and be truly free? No one would know and no one would blame you for letting go. You didn’t even do so until the Lord called you home. I am seeing in you this gift of perspective that I have not been able to realize in my own time of battling serious illness. You got it right! I need to get it right too.

Thousands of waking seizure attacks have ravaged my body over the past 8 years. The health complications that came along the way have brought much grief, guttural cries out to the Lord for relief. Experiencing my brain on fire when I am still awake has brought traumatization, triggered memories of past incidents of trauma, stirred emotions that took me down, down, down. If there was lingering bitterness from the abuse of my past then it had no where to go to heal when every month it seemed, there was a new medical problem/diagnosis/treatment to consume my days. Sure, I tried to live around the compendium of illness; weather sick or faking wellness, I see now that my focus has been in the wrong place too much of the time. I need more of Jesus Christ and less of everything else NO MATTER WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND OR WITHIN ME.

I have struggled to read my Bible and pursue even passive activities that can strengthen my relationship with my Savior. It’s been really, really hard to do so. Somehow my brother Mike figured it out despite his suffering. He could only use one hand! His body erupted into violent spasms without warning. The simplest of self care tasks were laborious beyond belief. He has been bedridden for most of the past few years. And the pain. I don’t know if anyone really knows how much he endured, how much medication or cigarettes it took to numb the torture of severe contractures from a stroke about 5 years ago then subsequent medical mismanagement (or minimal management). So did he talk about all of this with me? NO! He chose share what he was studying in his Bible instead. He asked me important questions that I was barely able to answer. Mike meditated on the significant issues of life itself. He saw beyond the life his broken frame, not wanting it to end despite his suffering. Mike dwelt for hours each day in the presence of our Lord and blessed me in return by his doing so.

Mike really did not want to die. I get the sense that it was because he wanted to be here when the Lord returned in glory for His church. Mike thought he would be here for the rapture. Sometimes I think that I will be here for the rapture too, and that it might not be far away with the absolute chaos going on in our country. Despite my own faith in Jesus Christ, many times I have wanted to die. I have been overcome with despair, enough so that I could not imagine living another day with my own suffering (described here many times, portrayed on my YouTube channel). My faith has wavered at times when challenged by the worst ravages of chronic illness. I am not proud of it. This is important to share however, as I know that I am not alone. Tis better to bring these issues to the light of day in the right way at the right time. Now is that time. My brother’s witness to me that I finally got to see in his passing from this life is a proverbial fork in the road for where I want my life to go from here. I got this perspective from you Mike. Thank you. You have finished well, the task of ministering to your older sister whether you knew or not that you were doing so.

Thank you my dear brother in Christ. On Friday you told me that you knew that one day you would be healed. That prayer was answered just one day later! I rejoice that you are now leaping like a deer on high places as you dwell with our majestic Savior in the heavenly realms. See you one day when the Lord calls me home too. Until then,

Heyyyyy Mikey! I love you. JJ

We survived our Christmas holiday

He suggested a restaurant, I located a coffee shop, we could save money by making our own food, then 4 of 10 family members cancelled, so a local brunch place it would be for our family Christmas gathering!

I intended to meet up with them that Sunday the 23rd but the old beast I battle interfered then lo within hours they were in the driveway and headed to the backyard just moments after I’d made it out of bed! Thank the Lord I’d showered before my recovery nap; the gals had dressed in warmer garments so their greetings on the Wintry patio meant I could see my beloved’s wonderful adult children after all.

The gifting seemed awkward but we were generous all around anyways then whammo it hit and seizing returned body-wide in full view, right there in the open air: my winter coat and silent eyes all around me. Some had not witnessed this hell before . . . what the hell? I prayed as my body shook violently and slumped down into the lawn chair, with me still wondering why I have to be awake to try to figure out what I am supposed to do during these nightmares when I can do nothing at all?

A plan came to mind and when my body writhing stopped, I dangerously dashed for the sliding glass door whilst screeching from my loins how horrible this is, my deepest sorrow, and my love for them all. I still dunno if anyone heard my guttural tears that began as I closed the door and lasted for the next hour with episodes that returned as I dragged my body back to the bedroom to crash. Again. Then I wondered, where was Steve?

Sounds in the background told the story that they had all left, including my beloved, with them . . . No one had brought me any food (I guess I was sleeping earlier when they were eating lunch with the live Christmas band delighting their visit), said good-bye, or showed any concern for my welfare . . . until 2 of them texted me messages of concern hours later. Ah, the days of living by the (inadequate) communication of our smart phones! It was all I had so it was something I guess. Steve returned a couple of hours later to tell me they had gone on with their plans of go-kart racing. The pictures on Facebook told the story of the great time they had. Do I want to see them? Say what?

This type of unexplained episodes continued, preventing worship at a Christmas eve service the next night so I braced myself to spend it all alone. How could I possibly hold my husband hostage at home with me when a couple of his adult children remained in town? Extreme chemical sensitivity was about to take him down as well when he got to the church and it reeked of burning frankincense so badly he could not stay inside the building. So we watched the services together online at home . . . Silent night, holy night.

Christmas required extra rest before a simple celebration with my beloved: no decorations or fancy foods just some gifts and an appreciation of the meaning of this day that was more apparent for me this year than decades ago. Simplicity does that. Christmas is measured in moments, however small, when you focus on the love that comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The traditions are lovely when you have them too. I tried to be positive and loving to my amazing man who has been faithful through so much heartache and sickness from me. How can I possibly sweat any small stuff when he always gets the big stuff right?

Little did we know that we would both become very sick with the flu within 3 more days. We had an errand to run together, at the end of which my beloved was already fading with illness. I joined him within a day and gratefully after some cleaning and making a pot of soup for us both. We still had not gone grocery shopping which didn’t matter since neither of us could eat hardly anything. That didn’t change much as the worst of this flu lasted FOUR DAYS!

Steve has started to surface back into life as he did some online studying; today was my first day I could stand in the kitchen long enough this evening to roast some chicken apple brats in the oven. Yeah, finally I wanted to eat a little more again after incredible pain and nausea lead to the loss of 3 pounds. I started to talk in complete sentences today while bracing my neck, rib cage, and abdomen when out of bed, yeah, afraid of making worse the new hiatal hernia and gastritis diagnosed 2 weeks ago. Can you say “I feel like a basket case?”

By the grace of God we survived our Christmas holiday. My beloved spent half of his vacation time from work battling the flu and barely seeing his adult children visiting from out of state; I never really recovered from this whack-a-this-or-that. This Winter illness is going to take me a few more days from which to stabilize . . . but interestingly the seizure attack episodes that flared at the beginning of our holiday week are down again. Yes, they are down! I have just found a way to take some nutrients that have been critically and chronically low and which are likely a major contributing factor to the convulsive episodes. To become seizure-free would be my desired earthly gift this new year. Thank the Lord we made it to 2019!!!!!!!!

We have been here before, you and I, Gentle Reader, dozens of times with my stories of hope and heartache and hope and heartache again. Call me a Weeble that Wobbles but she don’t fall down, I guess. Are you hanging in there with me too? Jesus makes the overcoming all possible in the end you know. (Please excuse my wee bit of humor, my Lord. Unlike me, you never falter.)

Gentle Reader: I pray that you did a bit more than survive this Christmas too. Happy new year? Oh yes, happy new year it is going to be! JJ

A Well Worn Path

If you travel the same way and expect different results they say it is the definition of insanity.  I get that so I resist the same.

If your baseline shifts and you take the same precautions against a disastrous outcome, you might say you are taking a chance that you might get different results.  I usually control the factors I can and go with the new direction . . . when amnesia sets in from the last failed effort and something new looks promising.

If you smash into a devastating blow anyways and have to retreat to combat the devastation, you might say that you were more rolling the dice than making a reasonable plan for success.

If you add too many factors in any plan, precaution, retreat and come up against a surprise attack from an unforeseen foe then you won’t know what hit either one of you until the smoke clears along with your heads.  Me:  hours of violent convulsive episodes and the aftermath.  Him:  heartache, exhaustion, and no peace.

And if you are me in the latter years of battling a complex illness, you live in shock from the blows of what hit you in the last 24 hours when it is after 6 days of relatively few symptoms.  The new treatments did look promising.  They did not hold off the onslaught, however.  And you paid one of the highest prices once again this side of heaven.

And if you are the beloved husband trying to navigate these landmines, help fight the war while carrying on with the normal and fun activities of life . . . you will have to watch the horror of your beloved get tortured on the battlefield.  You try.  Success is elusive or temporary.  You fail.  Again you grieve and so does she.

And if this well-worn path brings despair then so be it.  Tomorrow is still another day.  As for me, I’m still here and so is my beloved.  Most importantly, I know that my Lord sees my waterfall of tears lain at His throne of grace.  Life will go on somehow as it always does; I have more responsibilities now.  The despair will give way to some sort of hope in due time; the Lord will add His grace and strength to see me and my beloved through once again.

For today, I am like a beaten puppy on this well worn path of life.  It is tough stuff indeed.

Dang!  JJ

Connected in Grief

Why is it that tragic news of a dear loved one has so many layers as we take it all in?

First there is the shocking disbelief that something so horrific could even happen.  But it did and it does.  The impact is not yet realized on this one for sure.

My beloved and I prayed several times as the news unfolded across the evening:  the details coming forth slowly, leaving more questions than answers tonight.

Then a little later when simply lying with my beloved for refreshment triggered my own symptoms of ongoing illness, the tears started to flow alas but not for me this time.

The words of bad news, of new loss and the crisis of loved ones unfolding hath opened  up old wounds from my own times like these in the past, when I had to travel quickly into a very painful unknown.

I cried some more.  Oh how I miss my little brother so!  I talked to him in the hospital when he was yet drunk and in the DTs of alcohol withdrawal.  Little did I know that he would become unconscious and pass away within 2 days thereafter of alcohol toxicity, multiple organ system failure.

Quickly my late Mother made travel arrangements for my brother and I, with me still shell-shocked from my former husband’s departure and death of my grandmother within 24 hours of each other, just 5 months earlier.  Travelling for another funeral out of state and into a lifestyle much different from my own was a culture shock on one level, a new loss to grieve, and a return to the drama of my childhood as well.  Oh how I wish I could have re-written it all!

My brother’s Memorial Service was bizarre:  held in the bar of a bowling alley with his people, his friends albeit fitting yet inappropriate just the same.  I wrote about it three years ago when I thought about the star that now holds the ashes of his once tender heart.  Many details are painful to recall here and to do so would be disrespectful to the memory of my now deceased Mother who was grieving in her own unusual manner at the loss of her son.  It was a painful experience for all of us to endure back then.  Some more sorrow got released tonight as it all came back to me again.

Robert, Rob, Lech, Colorado, Palmer Lake, deceased, brother
My little brother Rob. Love you and miss you Robbie!

My Intended Beloved had memories of his own to share this evening from the death of his sister, his late brother-in-law, and a distant relative too.  We don’t know how the current tragedy will fare as the night draws on into daylight for one weary family holding on, their loved one slipping further and further away from them.  Please join me in praying for each precious one.  The Lord knows who they are and what they need.  I don’t know either but one thing that I do know is this:  we do suddenly become connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ, even all in humanity when we tap into the suffering that goes on in life.  I do pray the Lord’s supernatural intervention in the situation at hand.  Only He can go beyond the layers which we now feel, we now see.

And in this we can all rest, Gentle Reader.  For the shortest verse of our Bible reminds us of His humanity too, His sharing and caring in our times of grief.  For Jesus wept too.  JJ

Jesus wept, John, 11:35, grief, Christian, suffering, crying out to the Lord, shortest verse