Start at the point of exasperation

When you reach the end of your rope then a new one must come forth

‘Cause everyone needs a hand to hold onto sometimes.

When all you can see is a dark web of experience, a broken road underfoot

Then we must cling to a crossbar strong enough to last forever.

When your body is broken, unreliable, and shaking with ravages of illness

There is no reason not to grab a hold of something eternal, transcendent, permanent, sublime.

When the pain begins as your eyes open and close each day, each night

Trust that these are a consequence of our fallen world, not your curse tender child.

When hopes get dashed over and over and over and over again

Re-examine what you are hoping for . . . the journey is alas, laced with gold.

When “challenges” plague you that would dwarf the average soul next door

Walk your own path with eyes fixed on your Maker Who is holding your heart.

When all hope is gone it is actually the perfect time Gentle Reader

To cling to our risen Christ, borne from an old rugged Cross, waiting in earnest to love you through it all.

When one day the suffering ends and your exasperation is but ashes on the dirty ground

Know that to finish well, not pretty or neat, is its own just reward. We’ve got this. He’s got us. And all will be made well.

Isaiah, 41:13, Lord holding us, take heart, trials, illness, disease, suffering, tragedy, Christian, Jesus, hope, enduring, reward

31, 23, and 6:13

Never could I have ever imagined that I would spend the better part of the 5th decade of my life battling a serious illness. Then on cue from the Masterful Maestro, Jesus Christ, a few tweaks in 1 type of medication and 2 supplements began to turn things around. What has transpired seems miraculous to me.

31 symptoms aren’t as bad right now as they were when I wrote them down on December 29, 2018. A few more are gone.

23 triggers of sometimes violent, convulsive episodes have diminished in severity as they were when I wrote them down on December 29, 2018. A few more are gone. A few days per week I have none.

And in a matter of a few hours from now, at 6:13 a.m. to be exact, I will be able to board a plane all by myself to head back to Rochester, Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic. An aggressive schedule awaits me for my follow-up treatment and medical visits. I’ll stay in a special condominium that will accommodate any ongoing chemical sensitivities; I’ll even learn to Uber and Lyft. Yay!

I am hopeful that things will turn out alright. I am slowly getting stronger and pain levels are coming down with various therapies that are finally working! Master Gardening activities are ticking up and I have a sewing project that I work on in the hours when I am feeling better. Call it my transition back into life.

What a good feeling. Thank you Lord for seeing me through to this day. Thank you also to my beloved, Steve, who has faithfully walked with me during thousands of dark days and nights. I am so blessed. Restoration is coming at last and I am as humbled as I am grateful.

Lord, please hold my heart and my hand as I make this trip. Let’s go! JJ


And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

1 Peter 5:10

Had to go “country” on this one

Perhaps I killed the Easter bunny of 2020? I just can’t get her out of my mind . . .

Gardening with a dog keeps you more aware of your surroundings than on the tasks at hand. I have to call out for Elle every 10-15 minutes because I just don’t know where her sniffing will take her: to the pond behind us for a swim? Chasing after a young family pushing a stroller in the court? Saying “hello” to the neighbor boys cutting through someone’s yard? Rolling in goose crap? Or today, intently sizing up the nest of bunnies hidden in the vegetable bed!

Fortunately I was nearby when she decided to jump the wire fence and investigate the litter of baby rabbits in our vegetable bed up close. Then all hell broke loose! The 3 bunnies I saw scattered in 3 different directions while she dashed to and fro trying to catch one or all of them. It all happened so fast! “Elle get out of here!” I shouted only to find her jump out then jump back in again as I tried to free one of the furry creatures now strangled by the 1/2″ green chicken wire. I pushed its head backwards wondering if it would bite me? Elle grabbed onto a brother (or was it a sister?) trying to escape through the black metal fencing that enclosed the entire area; I lifted up the chicken wire and the weight of the bunny’s body below my hand broke it loose. By then I caught a glimpse of the 3rd sibling getting caught the same way just out of reach then breaking free and squeezing around the black fence post to escape the area. What mayhem ensued as the one now in Elle’s jaws squealed loudly!

Elle in hot pursuit at another time, for another cause.

I ran over to rescue it but it was too late. Probably only about 13 seconds had transpired at this point and the first one to escape had already been chomped by our German shepherd huntress. Elle often just plays around with the furry critters she finds in our yard, engaging in a terrifying-for-them and delightful-for-her game of catch and release. This time her usually soft grasp of her jaws had sheared the skin off of the back of the tiny rabbit which exposed the upper half of its pink and white spinal column. I was mortified! How grotesque! I really didn’t know what to do. The animal was suffering greatly so I shooed her captor away only to witness the little one struggling to run off into the bushes. “It’s going to run off to die,” I thought to myself and who knows what will happen after that: a turkey vulture will circle around and take her to dinner or more likely, Elle will find her and torture her some more. I knew what I had to do.

The blade of the shovel became a protective shell over her and from the menacing canine while I called out from the backyard, “Steve! Steve! Are you there?” I called for my husband in the house. He wasn’t there. I called for him in the shed. He wasn’t there. I called for him in the garage. He wasn’t there. Geez! He was just here a couple of minutes ago! Steve takes off as quickly as the dog sometimes when on a mission that only men can understand. But does he realize that his damsel is in distress and needs him RIGHT NOW?!

It was all I could do to keep Elle from going insane. I should have put her in the house but another reality came over me that took precedence: my dog, our dog had maimed a baby rabbit and it was suffering while I ran around to get someone else to take care of the matter. You know I grew up in a crowded suburb north of Detroit, Michigan, not in the country, right? You know that I barely shot a b.b. gun at a paper target as a kid and visited apple orchards for my “country” experiences. But somehow I knew that the right thing to do was to put the bunny out of its misery as soon as possible. I HAD TO DO IT. I couldn’t wait for Steve. The longer I waited, the more problems I would have with Elle and my conscience for our pup torturing the softest, cutest, fuzziest of God’s creatures now huddled in fear and taking its last breaths under a cold, steel coffin in our backyard.

I killed the bunny. I killed the baby bunny. I put the baby bunny out of its misery. I did what any country gal would do in a heartbeat without thinking about it and ended the whole ordeal. Then I went to try again to locate Steve. Just as I came around to the front of our house, he rolled up into the cul-de-sac on his land paddleboard just as happy as he could be to be outside taking in our unseasonably warm early spring day. He’d already been out for his first race practice of the year at a local lake with the Kahele outrigger canoe earlier this afternoon and just couldn’t get enough of the 70-degree temp during the first week of April. The day was beautiful. Steve was in his element. Julie was waaaaaaaay out of hers!

Steve helped me with disposing of the lifeless body of what surely would have been the Easter bunny for all of the boys and girls in the neighborhood next year . . . or so it seemed to me. I killed the Easter bunny! Oh dear. We talked through the whole ordeal again and turned our attention to the projects that I was finishing up in our yard. Preparing dinner and cleaning up the kitchen followed while thoughts of the little carcass drifted in and out of my mind. Not a good day to be cleaning the remaining chicken off of the roast I had prepared last night! The pinkness of the inner bones reminded me of that little baby’s spine. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see the raw, bleeding, exposed back of the chomped and squealing precious critter with the soft paws and fluffy tail. Oh dear. Oh my.

So maybe some of you Gentle Readers grew up taking care of dead animals during your years living in the country or on a farm? The closest I got to this was probably throwing out a mouse trap with the mouse still entrapped but already dead, its jaws locked on a piece of pinconning cheese. Always felt bad for the little things. We had gerbils for pets you know, and they all look so harmless — until you find their damage behind the sofa, in the duct work, or in your shoes with just a little hole in them! I guess I grew up a little more today, a little more like a country gal who was simply taking care of a tiny matter in the circle of life.

And now it’s time to go to bed and close my eyes. Oh Lord, help me let go of the cute, squeaky rabbit that died today. Easter is coming soon and celebrating the sacrifice you made on the cross at Calvary for us to live eternally in peace, with you, is all that matters. And thank you for the courage to act when needed to end the suffering of one of your creations. You care about them and you care about me too. You have acted miraculously in my life in recent days in a way that is further reducing my own suffering and I am exceedingly grateful. More on that another time. For tonight, I get it Lord.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

You are so good. JJ

That thing on the horizon

Looks shiny, like it could be something good

Been here before yet it always seems different at first

We long for a better day in this fragile shell of being

Tis our nature and a hunt that can only be satisfied in Christ.

He is the One who satisfies our soul

More glorious than the reflection of an earthly sun

Fulfillment leaving no corners empty or draining

Uplifting, transforming even if our frame stays the same.

For off in the distance is not a new truck or cure or home

Down the road is the answers to all for which our hearts long

Nothing in this life will ever compare to His love

I grieve for those whose gaze falls short, never winning the race of life.

We have arrived at “The Station” at the top of the mountain

When we accept His offer of grace

And the journey will be meaningful in ALL of its parts

Each road trip a destination worth the taking in the end. Amen.

JJ

God gave me you

Nor ordinary Christmas we had this day

Sleeping in then slowly moving into life out of necessity more than design.

Broccoli for my breakfast and handfuls of granola for my man

Brought us to our traditional reading of Isaiah before revealing our worldly gifts for I and you.

Who paddles a new long board down the hallway

But two middle-aged lovers holding onto our respective gusto of life?

A rest time had to follow for me again

Not as unusual as the waking episodes that have returned changing my hopes for the day.

Perhaps we would visit or do something fun

Yet return to my bed of sickness I did go for a most unfortunate interlude.

When your husband holds you from joy to sorrow

The same day seems surreal: later he feeds you medicine whilst you seize.

Siiiiiigh. Not that old tune returneth even today

For chronic illness ne’er takes a holiday when you want it to my dear.

This did not matter to you: your love never fades

And my greatest gift revealed its beauty the ten thousandth time: it’s you!

I could never conceive of this way that you have

To give beyond your self with a gentle spirit, still manly all the same.

You spoke only of my rest to your family on the phone

Preserving my dignity when I could barely feed myself with fingers weary from the beating moments before.

Yours is a love from the Father, the Son all in One

The kind that sustains you through trials when Jesus comes near with skin on.

He made you for me oh I am the blessed one

I pray he loves you back tenfold for the task of loving me well done today my love.