So much to consider

Phil 1:12, Philippians, trials, suffering, endurance, Christian, crisis, long term, illness, chronic, humor, gallows12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.”  Phil 1:12

Just as this picture and this scripture present two extremes of perspective for the activities of life, they are united in one theme:  we shall rejoice with Christ as our guide!  Yeah, I know that is a stretch . . . but we do know that the God of the universe has a sense of humor too, right?  I mean he created aardvarks, zebras, and tse tse flies!  What’s up with that?  Oh I know that the Original Adam named them all but just how did he do that?  They were all such weird creatures!  So it follows then that humor can help us endure many kinds of extremes, even the ones you and I are facing today.

Take for another example the thieves that attempted to steal gasoline from an RV.  This is a true story:  instead of tapping off the gas line they ended up tapping off the septic line instead!  When the fluid started flowing it was not fuel it was the polar opposite:  stool!  So sad.  Such a righteous punishment I must admit!  And as a grateful owner of a travel trailer all I can say is:  Tee hee with a smirk.  ;}

I cannot say that I can relate to the paradoxical themes of life with much right now with much lightness of spirit right now, however.  I’ll just keep it simple:  there’s some good and there’s some that is not.

On a good note I am grateful to report a widening of social contacts of late.  I’ve reached out to some old friends and some newer gals have jumped back into my world from my local church.  I appreciate the friends that I’ve met online (and you know who you angels of mercy are) and hope we can extend our fellowship.  All of this is good.  It’s amazing how all believers in Jesus Christ share a common unity even when the circumstances of our lives can be so different.  We all have our daily wants and needs; our Lord cares for the desires of our hearts tenderly and for these we can pray in earnest for one another.

On a less good note, new I.V. antibiotic treatments for chronic Lyme disease are going quite roughly.  Yup, revisiting Lyme since the persistent seizure attacks sure look like the episodes of others dealing with the neurological complications that can happen long after the acute infection has come and gone.  It was 4 years ago that I first started treatment for Lyme when things got sidetracked for treatment of mold and mercury toxicity, dental issues, Candida, parasites, and a possible oxalate burden exacerbating fibromyalgia pain.  Use of a Rife machine brought daily seizure attack episodes and treatment of Candida escalated them from 2 to 5 hours of convulsive episodes per day!  I was bedridden the better part of about 4 days each week this past Spring, Summer, and Fall.  So beginning in January I was started on high doses of IV Rocephin (antibiotic) and I remain sickly but out of bed more of the time.  This treatment coupled with the wintry temperatures below freezing have brought incredible pain.  However, the days that I am up until daybreak every night of the week has cut down; tinnitus, brain fog, and other executive functioning skills are sloooooowly shifting for the good.  Sometimes even the pattern of convulsive episodes shift as well (thank you liposomal melatonin!).  Just maybe these past 4 years have not been wasted after all!  It appears that each new treatment has prepared me for such a time as this:  we just might be able to treat this remaining beastly diagnosis and its co-infections to get well . . .

There is so much to consider.  Will I continue on antibiotics long term?  Will my health insurances help us out or cut us off next week?  Will I be able to get a port to spare my aching skin and forearms from repeated pokes and dressings that trigger more wretched episodes?  When would I transition back to more herbal-with-pharm-grade supplemental interventions?  Will the reactivity to mold and fragrances ever come down or do I have to go live in a pristine environment somewhere for a few months later on to fully detox?  How much more stress can my beloved husband, Steve, be expected to bear?  And how will we pay for all of this?

As the frigid Winter temperatures of the Midwest bring more of a sense of retreat than charging forth into the unknown, we are choosing to press on anyways with my treatment for chronic Lyme disease.  I just wear long underwear everyday to keep warm!  We are starting where we are with a local, Lyme-Literate Medical Doctor who has treated dozens and dozens of cases successfully.  I know that to be true.  I have met many of them when we had a local Lyme disease support group.  I noticed that each of us facing this dreadful disease had chosen a somewhat unique path to his or her recovery based upon the damage the infection caused to our bodies and our individual resources.  (See this link for more info on chronic Lyme.)  Perhaps my case was one of the more severe.  Perhaps the Lord had more than “recovery” in mind when He allowed this serious illness into my life.  There is so much to consider that simply was not on my radar over 4 years ago.

If you have found this blog by way of your own journey through chronic Lyme disease or some other serious illness, know that I am praying for you.  There is hope!  You are not alone, Gentle Reader.  Please comment below and allow me, if you like, to connect you with a larger community of those finding meaning beyond his or her diagnosis.  Our Lord, Jesus Christ, grieves for your suffering, your fear, your broken heartedness.  He sees you and will see you through what you are facing as He has done so for me and Steve.  He loves you more than anyone (including the furry pup above who has found his prize squirrel in the sunshine of a better day).

May we both smile some day in the arms of our Heavenly Father for having connected this day, for His glory.  And, um, when we get our prized prey I’ll just say, “please pass the catsup.”  Squirrel on the Bar-B-Que anyone?  Ewwwwww!  :JJ

Handling loss is a skill for living well

Some disappointments this past week have reminded me of the importance of handling “loss” well.  Change is a certainty in this life and many of us have had more than our share of both the voluntary and involuntary fare.  Change often means letting go of something or someone we cherish.  For the Christian we can view change as part of becoming more like Christ, maturing in our faith, and working out the details of our lives with the Lord.  It is necessary!  And all too often it doesn’t feel well though.

Here are 5 changes that came in rapid-fire succession for me lately:

  1. A counselor that I have been seeing to handle the grief of this serious biotoxin illness I’m dealing with, suddenly discharged me from her care.  A week ago Tuesday I had a major seizure attack episode in her office and had to leave abruptly.  The episode went on while standing outside the front door to her office then continued as I struggled to get back into my truck.  An hour and a half later I was able to leave to return home.  She checked on me multiple times during the event and even called me a few times to discuss our next appointment.  Until that day she had been opening the window in her office for me to increase air circulation before our starting time.  When she did not do so until I was about to walk into her office (on a rainy, humid afternoon), the scented “warming candle” residuals, soil aerosols from her live plant, and possible contaminants embedded in the office carpeting were too much for me.  She is now unwilling to meet me in a nearby library conference room since her driving time simply would not be reimbursable, won’t fit into her busy schedule.  So for now it’s bye bye Julie.
  2. For the third year in a row I had to miss my husband’s United States Canoe Association Nationals due to illness.  I am sad.  I love watching Steve compete in his surf ski (racing kayak) and missed both of his races including the exciting trial class event with our outrigger canoe.  It sounds like there was a photo finish as he crossed the finish line and I was not there to take it all in or take pictures.  Sigh.  We love taking road trips together.  Even if we could have afforded the expense of travelling together, I cannot tolerate the fragrances of hotel rooms, conditions of camping, or the unknowns of renting a travel trailer.  Such is life with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome!  I stayed home with our German shepherd pup in our “safe home.”  Parts of the two full days were actually better by the way:  I got to dig in the dirt of a new garden bed.  The second day was terrifying however with two, severe, hour-long episodes while home alone.  My Jesus saw me through when I thought I would stop breathing.  I did not.  My husband needed this time away.  Besides, having someone stay with me or check on me in the end dangerously increases risks to my health.  We made tough choices indeed.
  3. I realize that the isolation that accompanies this illness is killing my spirit.  I sense my social skills eroding.  Sitting in my truck in a cemetery adjacent to a Garden Walk event on Saturday, I nearly panicked because I was late and there were cicadas plunking my windshield as I tried to wrap up a phone call with Steve!  I had not talked to anyone but my dog for 24 hours so I was glad for his call.  However, I had felt awkward and alone getting ready.  And I know that these were just feelings.  The evening out went fine with barely a few tic zips, enjoyment of select entrees, and meeting some really nice fellow gardeners.  It’s just that the social part of my life is so unnatural, absent, and different now.  Just like when I went through a divorce, lots of people have left my life once again.  Reaching out has been tough when it’s so complicated just to get together.   I will keep trying though.  I have to . . .
  4. An occupational therapy (O.T.) recruiter for an agency for whom I used to do contract work called me TWICE this past week!  I guess they really needed someone!  Oh how I miss working.  Last night I did the equivalent of 4 hours of (free!) continuing education credits for my O.T. license, inspired perhaps by the phone call earlier.  Maybe someday there will be an equivalent at-home professional job that I can do that will utilize my skills.  Just gotta get rid of some daily seizure attack episodes first, eh?  Today they lasted most of the day.  My “job” was to take a shower and make dinner.  Done.  Don’t need an App to keep track of this kind of schedule, I tell ya!  Sish.
  5. Most of the time my worship is in isolation.  For a long time I looked to my husband to try and fix this one for me.  Why wasn’t he trying to find a church for us in a newer building that wasn’t water damaged?  My criticism of him and “our” church goes on from here; it is not good.  I have tried to fill the void with a read-the-Bible-in-a-year App, Christian radio talk shows, following various ministries via email or Facebook, interacting with other believers via the same, and continuous prayer throughout the day including praying with Steve.  But I crave real Christian fellowship.  I crave Women’s Bible Study.  There wasn’t even an outdoor baptismal service with our church this year and the annual hot dog roast will be a “no” in October due to the noxious exposures from the campfire.  (The smoke was hell for me last year.)  My heart is breaking on this one.  I know the Lord sees it too.  I trust Him.  Just today I got the sense that I may need to reach out a little more and not wait for someone else to fix it.  I contacted our “Encouragement Ministry” leader about starting something with others who are home bound and I  am waiting to hear back from her.  Hopefully it will be soon!

While we could discuss the solution to these problems the more important point here right now is that I know that each of these will bring goodness in due time.  I have realized the promise of the Lord “restoring the years the locusts had eaten” (Joel 2:25) after my life fell apart in 2003.  Joy returned and reminders of it are all around me.  I have chosen to write about these things in hopes that you will pray alongside me for the Lord’s will and redeeming grace for these recent losses.  Perhaps you, too, have loved and lost much while enduring all kinds of trials.  Please let me know about them and I will pray for you.

Gentle Reader:  we are to stand firm on the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ who will:

  • Make all things new.  (Revelation 21:5)
  • Direct our paths.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • Extend His love, compassions, and faithfulness in newness every morning.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  • Remember us in our low estate with love that endures forever.  (Psalm 136:23)
  • Reward us for our faithfulness.  (Matthew 6)
  • Bless those who are good stewards of time, talents, and resources.  (Luke 16 &  Matthew 25)

And so much more.  I am encouraged.  My Jesus sits on the throne of my life and the throne of grace.  He will make beauty from the ashes (Isaiah 61) which are the losses that characterize living a full life here with Him as our Lord and Savior.  I trust His Word on this and hope that you will too.  Let us rejoice with great expectation for the goodness to come!

Isaiah 61

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.

 

Who He Is

We all have some level of common sense:  that which we can agree is reasonable in any given situation.  Then again I have found that common sense just isn’t that common anymore!

I listen with intrigue when hearing the real-life experiences of others who have been successful at something.  Gaining triumph over tragedy.  Seeking good after playing with evil a bit too much.  Finding wisdom over folly.  Finishing a difficult task.  Inspiring others with your amazing story.  All this is good and unites us in our humanity when we can relate to the experiences of others.  I have heard from those who have travelled extensively overseas that most people around the world want the same things for their families and from their relationships with others no matter our cultural differences might be.  Thus we can all celebrate when the “human spirit” triumphs:  the good guy wins, the lonely widow finds love, and the person who passes on from this life having left a legacy for others to follow.

But what if there is more?  What if there is a source to that common sense that is in-bred between the strands of our DNA?  What if the innate knowledge of good and evil transcends the do’s and don’ts our elders taught us growing up?  And what if we all could persevere beyond both the winning and the losing?  After all, we all lose our lives in the end and cannot take any relationship, thing, achievement, or fit body with us.  We probably should keep trying to get it right anyways!  And that is very hard to do on our own.

When we find the true meaning of life, how the heck we got here, our giftedness, the Master plan for our lives, and humbly receive with gratitude our lot in life then we can be truly alive.   How do we find these?  We find our answers when we invite the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts.  We learn about Jesus (who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit) by reading the Bible, in prayer and meditation, in fellowship with others in the body of Christ.  The person of Jesus Christ created us in His own image; he draws us near to love and follow Him.  In doing so we grow in wisdom and all of the fruits of the spirit:  peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.  (Galatians 5:22-23)  Our purpose, our reason for being here can become clearer.  We then grow in understanding as we mature as believers, gaining wisdom from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our Counselor.

In the words of the Apostle Paul to you Gentle Reader,

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.  (Ephesians 1)

He is the One who will receive us in all of His glory at our finish line when our days are done.  How well will we finish the race of our lives?  (Check out Hebrews 12:1-3.)  I’m trying remain humble on that one for sure.  Maybe you already have a personal relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ.  I am delighted to meet you here as we will surely have great fellowship in heaven someday!

As Easter approaches this is a great time to revisit who God really is to each one of us.  We can all use this season commemorating His tremendous love for us as an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord.  Realizing this tonight was brought forth in meeting a few gals who have endured then overcame much heartache in their lives.  Me too.  Thank you Lord for leading me to your throne of grace.  Sure would be great if finding who You really are was even more common as common sense is too.

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Your God is not big enough

If you can’t have peace when sick in bed on a drop dead gorgeous afternoon . . . your God is not big enough.

When the dog looks at you with worried eyes because she heard you yelping from the bedroom with convulsions and you wonder if you’ll survive the day . . . your God is not big enough.

A doctor gives you a new medication to calm you down and maybe even lessen your suffering, it doesn’t, and you wonder if you’ll ever get past the wretchedness, the repeated disappointments . . . and your God is not yet big enough.

When you are frustrated that dinner is finished after midnight, you are up on the internet after 2:00 a.m. and you lose faith that you will ever have a normal life . . . your God is not big enough.

If every day poses a new test to your resolve and there is none left . . . you have not learned to rely on a God that is big enough.

When your blog glorifies your own accomplishments, makes you appear stronger than you really are, and claims to know anything separate from the One who made you . . . you have not allowed your God to be big enough.

And if you can find a way to convey how small yet how loved you really are, how your forgiveness spans as far as the east is from the west, and how there truly is hope beyond Lyme disease or what you can see . . . your God is becoming big enough to believe.

So if you are suffering in any way like me and find yourself in doubt, in pain, despairing, angry, lonely, or worse, it’s time we both face the fact there is a God who is big enough to carry all of our burdens.  Let us come before His throne of grace this day and pour out our hearts to the One whose gracious thoughts towards us outnumber the grains of sand on the earth.  He wept for each one of us, He sweat drops of blood for all of His children, He died a tortuous death for you and me, and He rose from the dead to save us from the burdens of all of our troubles in this life.  In time, He will come again for you and for me to live with Him forever in paradise.

As you ponder this, I invite you to get to know just a little more:  the God who is big enough.  And if you have not yet invited Him into your heart, consider doing so this day too.  You will see what a difference His love will make.  Then you will say about the Lord Jesus Christ, His Word, His hope, His promises, the adventurous and mysterious life that he bestows upon us:  I just can’t get enough!

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