The view from here

Strangely dim or so it seems at times with

My cries, my prayers, the scripture that rolls off my tongue to no where

All serving as a cathartic drug I suppose I suppose.

My mind is stunned in an electric shock of sorts:

Body thrashing, limbs violently shaking, breathing withheld for a very long time

Until the darkness that seizes me lifts its grip on my life with the deepest sigh.

Living in hell will bring weeping and gnashing of teeth it is written

Surely worse than mine yet I still don’t like the taste that visits me,

Not knowing from whence it comes, from whence it goes rendering me useless for hours on end.

The next big thing keeps me chasing that miraculous dream inside:

To find a cure, the right Doc, the right stuff to end it all already

Should it exist this side of heaven we both ponder my sweet friend.

“What will be the villain’s name?” I wonder then do not care

The left side of my brain is tired and just wants to go home, to settle here in my heated bed

To sleep perchance to dream, aye, there is the rub as Hamlet said.

Not much has changed:  the beaten-down headache remains the same;

The husband lacks sleep and cries softly as his love tears our heart strings painfully once more.

What will his own lean on the Lord reveal from the Divine gift of a brilliant  mind?

We ponder a move.  We ponder a Mayo run.  We try variations on old remedies.  We pray for fumes to carry on —

As day falls into night and our intimate distance is lengthened over and over again.

Psalm 41.3

Yes, this is hard, Gentle Reader, and not a path for you I would ever choose.

It came this way anyways ordained by my Lord exactly for now as you have faithfully watched it unfold . . .

The nightmare is not over yet:  the final scene unwritten with the cast still shy of their curtain call.

So we will hang tough for the fourth year, the fourth act, that melts into a joyous season as they say

Of Christmastime when all we should do is look up anyways from our worries, from our homested.

It’s all about that Baby right (the One in the manger with stench all around His head)?

Yes:  He has come to save me, to save you, to make right that which hangs low on a starry night, for those who believe dontcha know?

My Jesus Who saved me with perfect grace once and for all

Will bring me to a better place with a view I cannot see from here:  one that faith beautifies beyond hope, beyond dreams, beyond the best love that has carried me thus far.

And when that moment comes when heaven is the only expanse of scenery from here

Twill be no matter the bumps, the downhill runs, the heights with hind’s feet lighting on high.

I pray that I will get to see you there Gentle Reader:  it is with you I want to celebrate it all!

For someday our cares, our view will be transformed and it will be as beautiful as promised.

But just assure me this:  will you be there in my view?

With love, Just Julie

 

Let the numbers tell this story

While the numbers in my college statistics courses were fascinating and I applied them well in my Master’s thesis, I must admit that math was never really my forte.  I’ll blame it on Mr. Courtright!  Our Algebra II/Trigonometry course in high school was a constant source of frustration!  John and a couple of the other male students would pour over the text book with him at the front of the room trying to understand the lessons he was supposed to be teaching that day.  Yeah, you got that right:  high school seniors trying to figure out advanced mathematics on the fly!  I am so very glad that I never again had to sit through a traditional math class after that one!

Statistics are a different genre though.  Statistics often tell a story that we can use to make sense out of the stuff of life.  For example, landing one standard deviation from the mean (the average) in a bell-shaped curve can help us feel like things are going to be o.k. most of the time, in the right scenario of course!  Enter here special numerals applied to my recent trip with Steve to Georgia and South Carolina that will tell this story better than I can even without a calculator!  Oh how I wish some of these were more comforting than the majority of them though . . .

Over 7 days of camping in 2 locations, I was unable to leave the travel trailer 3 of the days due to illness.

My beloved Steve attended 2 of the 3 family wedding-related activities in Georgia and I attended zero.

We travelled over 2,000 miles in my truck with our 67-pound German shepherd, Elle, settled sweetly behind the jump seat of the King Cab.  Such a great traveler she has become!

I prepared about 96% of all of my own meals making this trip more of a “business as usual” affair than vacation in the realm of food.

One hour of the five that I spent in our friends’ home on Monday was spent in continuous convulsive episodes on their couch.  Thankfully the two young children had already gone off to bed when I crashed; graciously the three adults prayed over me for the Lord’s tender care as we all go forward from the significant stressors in our lives.

The kids and I planted 32 daffodil bulbs the morning we left South Carolina, overplanted with dozens of anise hyssop seeds.  Hooray!  By Springtime the view from the kitchen window of their log cabin will be alive with flowers interspersed amongst the numerous towering pines.

daffodils, mini daffodils, buttercup flowers, Spring flowers

A threatening wind storm with gusts up to 40 MPH forced us to leave a day early for safety towing our Camplite on the highways to get back home.  Just a few minutes after we arrived home at 4:00 a.m., the winds increased again closer to the estimate of 50 MPH by morning.  We had blown in just in time, praise the Lord!

Nearly 4 days have passed since we got home and I have yet to clear out, clean out the rest of the trailer as needed after a week of travel.  Steve completed the first 5 loads of laundry and about 3 more are left to go.  I have been sick in bed for most of the past 3 days, sleeping in late to recover from the nasties which characterize this wretched illness.

Over a dozen doses of a new anti-microbial treatment (Biocidin LSF) have brought both relief and a flare up of symptoms at times:  begun when travelling and continued back home when seeking a new direction, new relief, new hope for a future without illness.  Two violent convulsive episodes followed on Friday after an appointment with a new specialist and a new lab test, respectively.  Many more filled the 2 days that followed.  Perhaps this week (and 2 weeks shy of the 4-year anniversary of the first waking seizure attack) there will be an answer to end this suffering?  The odds are wearing thin lately for sure.

Yet through it all, I am reminded of the 3 days that my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ died and paid the price for all the negative numbers, the heartaches from what is not right in our world.  He knows the mathematics of it all greater than I can ever imagine and holds it all tenderly in the palms of His hands, ready to redeem it for good when He comes again in glory.  I choose to believe the promise that His precious thoughts towards me and you too, Gentle Reader, outnumber the grains of sand on the earth (Psalm139), giving us hope for a better tomorrow.  For as He thinks fondly of the ones He loves, He also promises to wipe away our every tear someday (Rev 21:4) when the time is right:  when time is no longer numbered in eternity with our Heavenly Father, God.

And that my friend is a story worth writing about.  A world without limits.  A love beyond measure.  I just hope that when all is said and done, when it is time for rejoicing in the heavenly realms, that you will be there with me there too?  Let not these numbers be wasted!  Won’t you accept the love of Christ into your heart this day, this night too?  Oh how I hope so dear one.

With love, JJ

It’s only a matter of time

hellLet’s see.  If I had a timer going for a few events these past few days, this is how I would measure up:

  • Friday:  Made dinner.  1 1/2 hours.
  • Saturday:  Unloaded compost with hubby and tinkered with a few garden tasks.  Made dinner.  3 hours.
  • Sunday:  Sat outside.  Posted some new jewelry on Etsy and surfed the net.  All day.

The rest of the time was characterized by self care, supreme sickness and recovery.  Who knew that seizure attack episodes on Friday and Saturday could take on a violent, writhing character for 10 minutes straight of unbelievable hell?  I am so very glad that the other episode of 2 hours of non-stop seizing plus aftermath would not take me to the emergency room in the middle of the night, early Saturday morning.  Alas, my beloved got a few hours of sleep.  But today it’s just sad that I missed my husband’s shooting class.  All of this is a really big bite in the shorts, I tell ya.

As it turns out the most difficult issue for me to face during these last almost 3 years of illness is a “waste of time.”  I value the meaningful use of my time more than money, people, places, and things.  It’s just how I am wired and I don’t want to spend a 60-minute counseling session trying to figure out WHY!  This aspect of illness really cuts to the core of my being.  I will, however, submit my will to the wisdom of my Heavenly Father.  Perhaps it is a supreme opportunity to soften this issue of time measuring value for me.  Value is not measured by time in the eyes of the Lord.  Value is measured by simply being.  (Now that’s another topic for another time!)  Maybe today I should explore the topic of time in a walk through His Word?

God created time.  Genesis 1:14  14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,

Time will end, thereby increasing its value.  Revelation 10:6  King James Version (KJV) And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

There is a time for everything, good and bad.  Ecclesiastes 3:1  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Time is measured by God.  All things happen in His appointed time.  We are to wait patiently for His divine timing of both the events of our lives and the events prophesized in the Bible.  Daniel 12And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

13 But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

We have no idea when things will really happen or not happen.  Better to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord our God.  The most important event is His return in glory.  Mark 1332 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

God ordains certain tasks in the lives of believers at certain times until our days are over.  When in doubt we are to fast and pray that the Holy Spirit may counsel us, lead us, comfort us through our days.  Esther Chapter 4.  14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Our time is to be spent gaining wisdom among other tasks He ordains for us to do.  Psalm 90:12  12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom

We are to spend our time in meditation on the things that matter most.  This requires  inactivity!  Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Time spent with the Lord is infinitely multiplied as He is timeless.  2 Peter 3:8  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

God orders the steps, the events of our lives for His divine purposes.  They are not random.  They are not without meaning or purpose.  Proverbs 16  In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. 

His plans include blessing, a future and a hope.  In this promise we can find rest.  Jeremiah 29.  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And yet we are to live fully in the moment and consider the future according to His will.  James 4  13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Not only are the events and timing of our lives planned as part of His will.  They are ordained for His glory!  Ephesians 1.  11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

 O.k.  I think I’m getting a better perspective on things!  Not only does my Lord and Savior care for all of the details of my life (Psalm 139), He carefully constructs the timing of everything as well.  When I am up late at night writing this blog I remind myself that it is an honor when someone reads what I have written.  You, Gentle Reader, have chosen to spend some of your valuable time with me.  And if I have succeeded at any level to bring each of us closer to the throne of grace, the love of Jesus Christ, well that is time well spent indeed for both of us.  To Him be the glory.  May He mark our time for His purposes.  After all, it’s only a matter of time.  There is so very much more . . .  JJ

heaven

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Therefore, send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.  (John Donne, 1624.  Meditation 17.  Devotions upon urgent occasions.)

man riging bell

Such is the reflection of these famous words scripted by John Donne and later repeated by Ernest Hemmingway in one of his most famous works of literature.  The intent of each author is to emphasize the interdependence of humanity; no man can truly live or function as an island.  Whether we live or die, honor God or blaspheme His name, our actions at some point will touch the lives of others around us given time and opportunity.

Case in point:  I’ll never forget that day in Dominicks, a grocery store in the west suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.  It was my day off from work and I was picking up a few groceries before heading home.  I’m not sure why I was dressed up while running a few errands . . . I do recall wearing my nice and warm, long wool coat to fend off the early Spring chill still lingering outside.  Suddenly at the end of the aisle was my good friend’s dad!  He said a cherry “hello” and explained that he was in town visiting for some family occasion.  Mr. Y. always had a gracious way about him:  asking permission to tell you another story or joke before parting ways.  He laughed about me humoring an older person by talking with him or something like that then shared a quick note to give his regards to my husband.  I looked him straight in the eye.  He had no idea.

Immediately Mr. Y knew something was wrong.  I walked closer to him, recognizing that I was about to open my heart in the middle of a grocery store aisle!  My former spouse was discovered in an affair less than 3 weeks before.  Intervention from our church had begun and my life was in turmoil as my heart was still reeling in crisis mode.  It didn’t help that my grandmother had also died and I was in the middle of facilitating the refinancing of our home (not knowing if I would be living there in the future or not).  All of that stuff was about me and my drama.  What I did not expect was the look on Mr. Y’s face when I told him my story.  Do you know that look in the movies when someone has just been punched in the stomach so hard the person could not breathe?  The smile on his face turned to anguish.  He could not speak.

Mr. Y’s reaction showed me the reality of love between the body of believers or those who call Jesus Christ Lord and Savior.  We bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We know what it means from a human level, a heart level, and a violation of God’s plan for us when a brother in Christ falls.  Craig probably never realized that his actions affected so many people and perhaps did not care.  This was astounding to me.  He was a leader in our Bible church and a gifted Sunday school teacher.  Craig excelled in his work in the mental health field, loved working out, and was quite good at photography.  He loved a good philosophical discussion and we had many.  It is a matter of history that my coming to faith in Christ was facilitated by these very sessions:  Craig helped answer many of my questions and led us to both a seeker-friendly church then a smaller, more intimate body of believers.  I got saved because I dated Craig.  In that Bible church is where I had met Mr. Y and became good friends with his daughter, Deb.  Friends like this are closer than my own family at times.

So where am I going with all of this?  When I am home alone every day, not even leaving the house for days on end, of course it is easy to forget the love of dear friends and family in my life.  Sure the pup looks up at me with soft brown eyes when I walk into the kitchen but it’s just not the same!  My intended beloved, Steve, is away from home a lot and often into the early evening.  Since I don’t feel well most of the time I just stay home if I don’t have an appointment or urgent need for food!  This week was particularly dry in this regard.  As it turns out, most of the week was devoted to adjusting to a new treatment we’re hoping will eliminate the daily seizure-like episodes.  I slept or moped about most of the week anyways; I didn’t notice that I was by myself as the quiet was itself healing medicine.  When I come out of this fog of late and I’m still isolated at home, I must remember that I am totally never alone.

Do you have this confidence Gentle Reader?  We are connected by this blog.  For that I am humbled and honored, that you have taken the time to step closer to me.  We probably resonate some on the issues of life or you would not have chosen to stop by when so many other bloggers have their own yada yada yada to share.  Our connection will be even more meaningful to me if I know that it goes beyond my stories and our simple humanity to the very essence of what gives meaning to life:  a shared faith in God through His son, Jesus Christ.  If you do not yet have the peace, love, and joy that comes from knowing the Lord intimately then I invite you to step before the throne of grace today.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and seek Him with a sincere heart through the Bible, His words.  When we repent and invite Jesus into our hearts we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; we are never alone again.  Please tell me what you find, k?

For those of you who share the love of Christ already:  I look forward to meeting with you one day!  Whether in this life or the next, we’re going to have a great time celebrating the glorious riches of a life surrendered to our King.  Standing in the presence of the Lord will wash away our tears and troubles bringing joy beyond what we could ever see today.  May the glimpses of His holiness and glory in the goodness that surrounds each of us sustain you, encourage you, and lift you up until we arrive in our eternal home.  Therein the bell will toll with tales of triumph for all of us.  Such a sweet sweet sound that will be!

Giving up one thing for another

7157_10151668652045255_1072850858_nSo glad I could enjoy my husband’s kayak race today.  His daughter, Christina, and I cheered him on from the shore of the ol’ St. Joe River, taking pictures and listening to paddling stories from the timekeepers (Roger and Martha).  Seems simple enough:  a typical Saturday outing for our household perhaps.

Er, no.  THIS IS HUGE!!!  When you wake up with a crushing feeling in your chest that you’ve had for days and tic attacks after a night of broken sleep due to both, it’s a blessing from the Lord to be able to go anywhere!  And seeing my beloved River Bear in his element is a real treat for me.  My husband is so cool.  And I got even got to yell at the top of my achy lungs, “Gooooooooo Steeeeeeeeeeeeeve!”  He won today in the USCA K1 Unlimited class as well as had the fastest overall time.  The day was warm and sunny.  All was good.

The afternoon didn’t go so well as I tried to rest with hopes of helping at the Purdue Extension Office plant sale this evening.  Oh well.  Cancelled that.  Sometimes you give up one thing for another.  Life is like that sometimes.

Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 4:24-25

Yes, we endure hardships in our lives.  Yet this is not all there is and that can be a tremendous relief and source of hope.  A breath of fresh air.  In this life we can choose give our lives to that which fails us and fades or trust the One who is worthy and promises us life everlasting, riches beyond our wildest imagination.  I have placed my trust in more than I can see, feel, hear, taste, touch in this life:  God almighty, maker of heaven and earth through a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ.  So if I get a piece of happiness today it is a sweet blessing; thank you Lord.  But I will never give up a piece of happiness for true joy that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  He transcends our world and our lives for the prize in the ultimate race:  an inheritance that can never fade with Him eternally in heaven.  Today and tomorrow I say,  “Go Jesus!”

And with odds like this, maybe you will say, “go Jesus” too?