The Gentle Giant

Standing over 6 feet tall, the man could have been mistaken for the childhood Green Giant hero of the Television Age.  He let his hair grow long, beard get kind of scruffy, and middle section pudge just enough to make his bear hug just right.  The children squealed when he growled and chased them back up the basement stairs when he had enough of their antics and needed to get back to work in that mysterious and yet wonderful business within those concrete walls.  More on that story another time.

The man was as conflicted as any could be in this life.  I’ll call him the Gentle Giant or GG for short.  My knowledge of him is pieced together from some vague memories, his hand-written journal, a few newspaper clippings, internet searches, and the stories from family members. Call it a great tragedy or perhaps work of satire as he never reached his full potential in this world.  Lord knows, he tried.

GG grew up in the blue collar suburbs of Detroit, Michigan as the son of an auto mechanic and never-quite-satisfied mother.  His dad let his mother rule the household including harsh discipline for the boys of the family.  Beatings, torture, destruction of their few prized possessions, restriction of food, verbal abuse, and lying about it all to suspicious outsiders comprised his private hell.  She destroyed his model airplanes, locked him in the closet, and made him sit at the meal table all day and all night as abusive punishment for just being alive.  The next generation (grandchildren) would be treated differently as would the girly middle child; the oldest brother would turn gay and befriend his mother and father in a strange twist of survival-perhaps-denial until he died of AIDS in his forties.   The baby of the family barely made it out alive when the older siblings were no longer around to protect him.  GG, the second oldest of the four children, had finally found his way to break free.

GG made a plan to marry the first woman who would accept his hand in marriage.  It took a few years after high school to find a suitable mate who was willing to marry him, perhaps in an attempt to escape her own abusive and alcoholic father.  They quickly had 3 children and a relationship burdened by his physical abuse of the mother.  The oldest took an overdose of her mother’s thyroid medication requiring having her stomach pumped at only 3 years old; the middle child developed a life-long inferiority complex from being told by his dad that he resembled his mother’s family more than his.  And this was only the beginning of things that went wrong in that household.  By the time the five of them had moved from the trailer park to their new home, GG was having periodic psychiatric breakdowns.  Experts have determined later that these were likely the psychotic breaks of paranoid schizophrenia.

GG struggled with the adult responsibilities of work, raising a family, relating to his wife, and managing the internal chaos of his mental illness.  He came into the realities of adulthood with too much brokenness to overcome; he was a brilliant inventor and draftsman yet could not control his own mind to ever find true happiness or success.  GG defied the counselling offered and declined the psychiatric medication newly developed that could help control his thought disorder.  He took an extended leave of absence from work and, instead of getting well, used the time to build a business in the unfinished basement of their home.  It became wildly successful in the hobby world of the 1960’s. How his employer never found out is another mystery.

Unfortunately the same ingenuity that brought him initial success 1) as a non-degreed draftsman for a major automaker and 2) in the home business, did not work when he applied it to his mental illness.  He experimented in psycho-cybernetics, hand writing analysis, the occult, various activities of the hippie crowd, drinking alcohol, and more.   Eventually he left town on his motorcycle with some blonde chick for California with all the profits from the business . . .  The children saw his father come and go in a myriad of painful and confusing scenes over the next few years until finally their parents divorced. Their dad lived in another suburb across town thereafter but the holiday visits and false hopes for things to be right never fully materialized.  Eventually GG left town for good and had no direct contact with his family for the next 27 years.

GG sent threatening letters to his mother for several decades, perhaps wrestling with her years of abusing him and what to do with it.  Sadly he hurt his own children as well in other ways. Over the years, the oldest daughter had witnessed satanic rituals, was abused by some women in the course of some psychedelic mayhem at his house across town during a visitation weekend, and was then tortured herself by GG in an attempt to help her “forget” what had happened to her.  The middle child witnessed his father’s domestic abuse of his mother and personal self-degradation as his father used mind control techniques on him in a misguided attempt to try and help his son.  The taped messages he recorded ended up having an opposite effect!  And the spirited youngest boy got as far as he could in life then, as a young adult, tried to find his dad who had left the family when he was barely past kindergarten. His dad’s letter of rejection was found by loved ones in his wallet after the young man died of alcoholism.  The surviving family grieved deeply.

GG’s experimentation with mind control techniques inadvertently opened himself up to the demonic realm.  The darkness in his eyes reflected this in particularly frightening scenes recounted by his children.  Knowing this, understanding his abusive upbringing and resulting mental illness then their own coming to faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, has helped the two surviving siblings forgive their father.  They have found peace with their past and with their dad. The man was simply lost.  He had no idea the dark world he had incited nor the abuse he ended up carrying from one generation to the next.  It took the daughter in particular, many decades to understand this and break free from the trauma and demonic influences.  How that happened is yet another story.  The miracle of overcoming such hell gives testimony to the incredible power of the gospel through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thirty years after the oldest sibling last saw her father and two months before he died, she got to meet with him at his retirement/trailer park in Florida.  They had slowly developed a new relationship by phone before he eventually agreed to a visit in person. The Gentle Giant was frail yet charmingly engaging.  He told her tender stories of her days as a little girl and of how proud he was of her.  He told her that he loved her and by the time of their visit had shared how he had to leave their family to protect them from further harm.  More psychological breakdowns had occurred over the years.  His isolation from family and most of society became part of how he managed his illness in addition to long sabbaticals from work. He jointly held over 27 patents with a major manufacturer of automotive parts and would say that was why they “put up with him” and his leaves of absence.  The woman would see how creative her father was in crafting his life with the fragments he had been given . . . how incredibly her Heavenly Father would sustain her own life until those sweet moments of reconcilliation with her dad could bring closure, bring healing, bring some sweetness too.

Our earthly fathers have incredible importance in how we turn out in our lives.  They are the first authority figures in our lives who initially influence how we relate to our heavenly Father who is exceedingly greater and perfect;  ways that our earthly father can never be.  A loving relationship with both are critical for grounding us in this life on earth.  Even in the absence of a good dad the yearning of our hearts can lead us to the One Who will never leave us, never forsake us.  I do pray that in this story you will see how the “seeking” of one young girl as she became one older woman led her to overcome the failings of her father by filling those empty and hurting places with the unfailing love of Jesus Christ.  Graciously she did get to feel at last, the love of her real father before he died.  Not everyone will have this kind of opportunity; others will experience it their entire lives.  Regardless, we all can be whole no matter what darkness has fallen on our journey through this life.

I understand these experiences very well nurtured with truth from the Words of our Lord in His scripture and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Further, the Gentle Giant in each of us can be transformed from sorrow to joy if we but believe in His holy name, Jesus Christ. Healing and fullness of life will follow us all of our days into eternity.  I love that.  Oh Heavenly Father, I thank you for this story and for Your story of redemption too.  May you speak to the heart of the Gentle Reader who finds these words this day, filling him or her with your goodness. Bring them into the best of relationships found only with You.  Bring hope beyond what we all can see.  For your glory I pray in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.  JJ

 

Known in the Gates: Part 2, The Inside Story

One of the movies that has really resonated deeply with me is, The Breakfast Club.  Please see my previous post for the catchy theme song that underscored the film and one of the most poignant scenes that is also pertinent to Part 2 of this 3-part blog.

In Part 1, I described the isolation that I have felt when enduring a serious illness and how the Lord still gets me through the toughest of days.  His Word is my greatest comfort; the leading of the Holy Spirit and His presence are my greatest companions.  I ended with a question,

But how well does he really know me?

Sure, my Lord crafted me before I was born and set forth all that I would be, all that I would endure and accomplish.  His Words in Psalm 139 declare that He knows my “innermost being.” Does this include the longing of my heart as well?  If it does, why has He allowed me to become so dreadfully isolated?

Maybe someday I will get to see why so many family and friends have chosen to “walk on by” me as it says in the theme song of The Breakfast Club.  Have I not been a good friend?  Maybe I was not.  I remember about two years into this ordeal someone contacted me and asked me about getting together for coffee.  I replied “yes” and then I never heard from her again.  My spirits had soared then crashed and burned.  For believers in Jesus Christ, the answer to the “why” question is usually left for eternity.  We simply may never know “why” this side of heaven.

Those of you not living in isolation may not have any idea how much Satan uses this experience to tear a person down.  He can prey upon all of our negative emotions and be allowed to create havoc in our lives.  (Yes, ultimately God is still in charge!)  Yet I know that it’s really not about resisting Satan or about losing the people in my life.  I resist the devil and his demons with the sword of the spirit:  the Word of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-17.  People come and go in our lives and that is the normal ebb and flow of life.  It really is about my response to the taunting, the loss of these relationships.

My challenge has been particularly great due to the effect that this chronic illness has had on my brain.  Responding to Satan’s lies and the loss of relationships has been affected by the change in brain chemistry that came with chronic illness.  My ability claim victory in the name of Jesus Christ and fully embody the companionship of my Lord have been affected.  Satan’s lies have been magnified.  My social skills have eroded.  My ability to think clearly has been altered.  And I struggled to override these skill deficits but could not, even if I tried.  Allow me to explain.

Only recently did we discover that excessive neurotransmitters called catecholamines (epinephrine, norephinephrine, and dopamine) are likely contributing to my mood changes, thinking and communication skills in addition to possibly causing the convulsive episodes.  This is happening due to the expression or “turning on” of polymorphisms (SNPs) or breaks in several enzymes that help form my DNA code.  The DNA code is the instruction manual or blueprint from which the body functions.  Everyone has a unique combination of broken SNPs that get turned on by illness or significant stressors in the environment (such as exposure to mold).  For me the factors included everything that I have written about in this blog:  biotoxin illness/hepatitis, latent Lyme disease, Candida toxicity, mold illness, infected root-canaled teeth, and mercury toxicity.  That’s a lot of stressors!  These illness and environmental challenges became a trigger for disaster.  I even have the data to prove it, all of it!

methylation cycle, Dr. Amy Yasko, SNPs, Lyme disease, mold illness, mitochondrial, mito disease, methylation, B6 deficiency, CIRS, mold illness,

One version of a methylation cycle from http://ihateticks.me/2014/10/06/methylation-for-dummies/

For some people this process manifests as a Mitochondrial Disease or a disruption in the methylation cycle inside the nucleus of the cells of our bodies.  My thought life was affected.  My mood was affected too.  I had waking and nightly nightmares not based in any reality past or present.  Those were internal things that my beloved husband, Steve, and the healthcare community could not see very often.  Several healthcare practitioners labeled me as having a mental illness of sorts, often without even completing a mental status exam or workup!  Gratefully, Steve believed me.  They all saw the wretched convulsive episodes that have plagued me for hours every day for 3 1/2 years.  And Satan was allowed to enter into the whole dynamic with lies and attacks that I will definitely write about at another time.  Absolute mental and physical wretchedness.

But now the gig is up!  Two days ago I woke up from a lovely nap after starting to treat this condition.  I had my first 16 hours seizure-free!  It’s as if someone turned on the lights in my brain!  Not only do I have a formula for correcting the brain-part of the process but the prayers of deliverance against the spiritual warfare are taking hold.  The cascade of negative mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual suffering is beginning to turn around. Lord willing, I am going to get well!

My Jesus knows all about every aspect of what I have described here.  He also knows the desires of my heart.  How do I know this?  My prayers long before this illness began was to become whole.  I had been broken by the consequences of a hard life:  events out of my control.  Many times during trauma the Holy Spirit would bring encouraging scripture to me that kept me moving forward.  Yeah, finding hope and finding myself has come through horrible, ongoing isolation and trauma.  I have worked hard to recover from so much suffering in my heart, my mind, my body.  Each step of the way has been both painful and meaningful.  Yet I tell you, Gentle Reader that nothing has been wasted!  I have learned to trust the process in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE under the protection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And now the desires of my heart are being realized.  Cool beans.

So how does one rebirth the desires of one’s heart?

Jer 29.11b

To be continued in Part 3 . . .

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