He Ain’t Got Drowned, Thank the Lord!

Warning:  Read this until the end!

He left before I woke up and long after I was up in the middle of the night baking him cookies for the race.  Another strange night it was.  I had crashed early in the evening, many hours before my bed time . . . not that there is a usual bed time, that is.  I am still up very late about 2 nights per week yet that is a huuuuge improvement from my years as a night owl.  But my tummy hurt and I just couldn’t stay asleep.  All I could think about was those cookies that I wasn’t able to bake as promised and the risk of my beloved River Bear collapsing in the river the next day.  So I got up and started mixing up the ingredients sometime after 2:00 a.m.  The story was unveiling vividly in my mind as the scent of baking chocolate chips and Irish butter filled the air . . .

My beloved would be paddling a new-to-him Wenonah J203 carbon-fiber marathon canoe, probably putting him at the back of the more accomplished river rats on Saturday.  They all would be pushing their limits in the cold and rainy weather, trying to get back into shape for the upcoming race season.  RB would be no different.  The only difference is that he would be competing with a sinus infection on top of some chronic breathing issues.  The  realization of the risks was just enough to drive the mind wild of a kayaking-turned-canoeing “widow.”  Yeah, I don’t see him much during the Spring-Summer-Fall racing season so temporary paddling “widow” I become!

Today was especially of concern.  If he got a coughing spell when on a remote part of the river, spread out for miles over the course with the other dozen-or-so racers, there’s a good chance that only a real bear in the woods would have heard him struggling.  His  brown, furry cousin probably would not have minded my beloved’s residual garlic breath as he munched on his serendipitous, soggy lunch feast.  But that was not the worst of my worries.  More likely another racer in an equally tippy performance kayak would see my beloved slumping forward, splash into the water to save him, and be unable to do much of anything about it.  I foresaw in my mind’s eye that probably would be LB, of course.

She in her 4-foot 10-inch frame would jump out of her boat, neither one wearing a life jacket despite the cooler water conditions, and wrestle with RB’s muscular/lifeless body as it flopped into the current of the Tippicanoe River:  he almost 70 pounds her senior and her struggling to keep both of them afloat.  The river would win and down he would go.  She would be traumatized and exhausted from the fight against the swirling water, the soaked mass of a man, the expensive boats and paddles flowing downstream, the desperate feeling of not being able to save him no matter how hard she tried.  I could see it all in my mind’s eye, of course, in an instant.  I had been in a similar situation myself just 8 years ago during my first encounter with a performance sea kayak on the Allegheny River.  I feared for my life!

Back at the boat launch or maybe when she could signal for help, LB would desperately reach out.  The fellow racers would leap into action, scouring the shoreline for signs of the man who teased them hours earlier with a craft beer for any seasoned canoeist who could beat him on his maiden voyage that day.  They may or may not find him or his gear.  The rescue boat would eventually arrive, find and take his body to a local hospital for the fateful pronouncement.  The paddlers would stand in a circle at the take-out speechless, none volunteering to call the wife over 100 miles away who had sent along home-baked cookies for the annual meeting afterwards.  No one would be brave enough to call her or maybe the Fire Department would at least leave a message?

Do they ever really tell you all of the news anyways that you need to know when you get a dire phone call at a time like this?  I would then be in my own racing seat as I made the 2-hour drive to the Lafayette area, wondering if I had the right name of the facility where my RB was being held under refrigeration.  Perhaps I would drive from facility to facility searching for my loved one?  And what would they tell me when I found him?  Would anyone be there to tell me the story of what happened?  Would the racers have taken a luscious cookie but gone on home anyways, themselves suffering from the trauma of the friendly competition gone wrong?

And what would I do next?  What about the pup at home, the phone calls that needed to be made?  I would probably have to stay over a few nights to release my hubby’s body to return to our home town on Monday morning and begin preparations for the worst event of my life:  a funeral!  I have done this in the past a few times and it is exceedingly and painfully difficult.  Oh dear, what would become of my elderly family member out of state for whom I have become a measure of a caregiver?  Where would my beloved’s children stay, what would I say when they arrived grieved beyond belief from all over the country and 2 foreign countries?  Holy cow.  Maybe I would just sink and die myself right then and there rather than deal with it all.

Or maybe not.

*************

Twelve hours and 2 naps later, I heard the side door open.  My River Bear was home!!!  I was in shock.  Where did I just go in my mind and my heart for way too many hours?  In what or where have I placed my trust?  And why the heck am I so very needy, so weak, such a worry-wart when the Lord has been faithful to lead me through horrible tragedy dozens of times before.  Is this mental exercise really helpful at any level?  The answer:  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

I have come to realize that there are a couple of coping mechanisms that come with enduring serious illness for many years that don’t work very well at all in a fit brain.  One of them is living each day with a sense of impending doom.  When virtually every night and every morning for the past 6 years was met with violent convulsive episodes, I lived every day with a sense that bad things were always going to happen.  It was just a matter of time before they did.  Well guess what?  The convulsive episodes don’t happen every night or every morning anymore!  I have got to let go of this “stinking thinking” as we used to say in my 12-step group days.  Husbands virtually  always come home.  And if they don’t right way, they usually have an amazing story to tell that makes you fall in love with them even more!

Another coping mechanism that got exercised in writing this story was that of always needing a contingency plan.  More recently, every time I would plan to do an activity at home or elsewhere I set up alternatives in my mind of what I would do in case I got sick.  I told RB my plans for the day, I had every “rescue remedy” I could think of in a lunch bag with me, and kept running errands until I was exhausted — just in case I was too sick the next few days to leave the house.  As you can see from the bit of paddling fiction above, I listed a few of the questions running through my mind but in my head, many more options and scenarios were playing out in my mental tool box.  What a colossal waste of physical and emotional energy!   While a “scarcity” mindset may work in times of famine or flood, I really don’t need it with me anymore.  Me and the Lord will figure out whatever may come my way.  Geez!

Of course an obvious failed coping mechanism is last on my list today:  a false sense of control.  I cannot predict anything that will happen, good or bad, and neither can you.  If I truly trusted the Lord with my life in times of tragedy and triumph then I would not need these fantasy games to cope with the fact that I have a REAL MAN who LOVES ADVENTURE no matter if he is sick or well.  That makes him who he is!  And his passion for life makes him the man in whom I fell in love over 10 years ago.  No wimpy dude over here!  He pushes the limits to the admiration of his peers and sweat of his competitors because that is just how he is wired.  I guess I am still understanding how different we are, how different the Lord wired each of us.  It is a beautiful thing really.  And, Lord willing, my beloved will always be home at night in pretty darn good shape too, I will add!  :J

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

So the next time my man goes out to do that which he is called to do, I will pray for him and for me both!  I will not respond with fear but anticipation of some great stories in which I may one day join in, Lord willing, as I get stronger each day.  The day is coming soon when I will want to venture myself out into newer, uncharted waters, so-to-speak knowing that my Lord and King is already there, cheering for both me and my River Bear.  This could really be a fun summer after all.  I often cheer, “Goooooo Steeeeeve” from the side of various rivers when my beloved’s paddle hits the water at the sound of the starting gun.  Maybe it’s time for a little, “Gooooooo Julie” too?

Stay tuned.  There’s always another story waiting to be told around here for you Gentle Reader.  The water awaits!  JJ

Stellar, SR, paddling, woman, kayak, kayaking, wing paddle, carbon fiber

Me in my Stellar SR surf ski in 2011

Scorpius, outrigger canoe, OC1, Hawaiian, boat, man, paddling, life jacket, racing, buoy, turn, marathon, River Bear

My River Bear leading the pack at the bouy turn on the St Joe River, Fort Wayne, Indiana in July of 2015

I wait on thee

The needs are placed in the hands that be

My Lord in the lead guiding him, guiding me.

Appointments are scheduled, travel plans now made

Funds graciously coming in from the recent campaign.

I am humbled and anxious and weary and weak

Not knowing which way to turn or what to speak.

We must prepare now and pack as the time to leave nears

So much is there to do, to organize, coordinate, make some repairs.

If it be so that I will sell some things to help this lofty cause

To obtain the treatment that will heal my nerves and my jaw.

Three episodes today, when eating lunch then trying to make dinner

So I pureed my meal and with lots of yummy butter; it was a winner.

It’s too late to cry sans the stains have stung my cheeks and my clothes

I wonder if we will ever get answers from the One Who already knows?

Regardless I will forever choose to rest in the arms of my King

He brought me here, promised deliverance, so I trust Him with everything.

trust in the Lord, faith, Proverbs, 3, 5-6, scripture, Bible, verse, trust, how it plays out, daily life

What is most important

What is most important?

This is a question that marks my days no matter what my state of mind or health.  Every day for as long as I can remember, I got up and set goals for my waking hours.  Even if I have to modify them over and over again before the day is done, I have a mental list of what I hope to do.  It’s just how I am wired.  Some things get written down and some do not.  Before long I meet with the Lord and we go over things.  Usually some changes follow!

Proverbs 16:9 New International Version (NIV)

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

If I’m not sure what to do (when overwhelmed or facing a barrier of some sort) then I stop and ask the Lord about it.  He knows my situation in addition to the desires of my heart and usually answers in a way that draws me closer to Him.  Sometimes I am challenged in obeying His leading.  That is always a mistake.  Things always go better if I follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, usually to read my Bible or listen to Bible teaching.  The day that follows always goes better that way.

When we are battling an illness or caring for a loved one our personal resources are limited.  Additionally, we may never know when that reservoir of energy or cognitive capacity will run out so we must make our best guess and proceed accordingly.  Will new demands change everything?  It is really hard to be flexible when our hopes are dashed over and over again, less gets done, and we become overwhelmed. So we strive to keep our spirits high and go with the flow, right?  “Let go, let God” as the 12-Steppers teach? There is always tomorrow, right?

Plans changing repeatedly over the course of the day or night has dominated my past 5 years so much that I practically numb out when it happens again.  I am not sure if this is a good idea or not?  What follows for me is pursuing smaller and smaller tasks after answering the question:  what is most important?  Often what has happened next fits the category more of survival than enjoyable:  get that rescue remedy from the frig . . . I will help you walk to the kitchen . . . trust me and push yourself up to get your legs working again.  Don’t worry, you won’t fall.  I tell you, this principle of setting priorities gets REAL really fast when in a time of crisis!

That may be an extreme example for you, Gentle Reader, so I will just say this a different way.  We both will be o.k. if we set our plans before the throne of grace and let the Lord guide is in all things big and small.  He cares for the details of our lives.  As He orders our steps He also gives us the power to take those steps too.  What is most important always gets done this side of heaven.  We didn’t die because the bathrooms didn’t get cleaned or we had to eat canned meat for dinner!  Dwelling in the presence of my Savior is the best food, fitting for my soul anyways.  And that dwelling happens best when completely in the arms of our Heavenly Father who loves us so!

As my brother, Mike, has often said:  just keep moving forward.  Yup.  When I can I do.  And sometimes that means staying right where I am for a while.  Rest is important too ya know . . .  JJ

scripture, Bible, Christian, to do list, list, priorities, important, Proverbs 19:9

 

What did you learn today?

And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.  Titus 3:14

I learned today that it pays to take good notes.  When I had to replace a healthcare supplier within a few days (or lose my mind!), I was glad to find my notes from the research that I did at the beginning of receiving home infusions 7 months ago.  Perhaps back then I should have gone with that other company instead?  Oh well.  I got to work with their Patient Care Coordinator this time and she is wonderful!

I learned this past week how being off from work and  having less income has helped me to find inexpensive continuing education credits that I never knew existed before I got sick.  Looks like NINE of the TWELVE hours required will be FREE!  Yeah God!  I will be able to keep my occupational therapy license one more year!

OT, occupational therapy, occupational therapist, work, medical leave, disability, license, licensure, renewal

I learned this past month a deeper definition of true love as demonstrated in the life of my husband, Steve.  First some background:  we had to cancel a trip to see his family this past summer when his dad was in too much back pain to travel cross-country to our rendezvous point in Branson, Missouri.  His mom was disappointed that the celebration of her 80th birthday was postponed until Thanksgiving.  Then our trip to meet up with his family in Texas in November got cancelled when I landed in the Emergency Room five days before departure with severe back pain.   I wasn’t even able to go out to dinner with Steve on Thanksgiving (which means I missed celebrating our wedding anniversary on the same day!).  As you saw from my last blog, Steve’s response was simply that we were, “saving money left and right!”  Well, yes and well, no.  His parents are aging.  Visiting them at their home in California is complicated due to my extreme sensitivities.  Perhaps Steve will be making a visit early next year and when my health is more stable.  In the meantime he just continues to be a wonderful loving husband.  I am so grateful for his love and devotion.  Often he is my “Jesus with skin on.”

I learned this past year the meaning of the phrase Carpe diem.  Each little trip, each tender moment between Steve and I, each time the garden got watered or weeds got pulled were realizations of moments when I could do a little more.  The numerous moments that were quite opposite just made “seizing the day,” more special.  We have learned to be more spontaneous to enjoy the good graces of the Lord even when they last but an hour or two.  Carpe diem baby!

I learned these past 5 years of serious illness to call upon the Lord for everything.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Whether it’s finding the money for medical treatments or getting myself up to go to the bathroom when seizing, my Lord and Savior cares for the details of my life and gets it done.  He is there when I am awake in the middle of the night.  He provided that relic airplane for me to sit under on a sweltering summer day so my husband could fulfill a dream at Oshkosh.  My Jesus will be joining us in celebration when I become well again someday too.

And lastly, I have loved learning the value of writing Hope Beyond.  It’s not quite an online journal but a way of looking from the inside out.  I hope to point you, precious Gentle Reader, to more than the saga of my situation but to the glory that awaits both of us when we place our trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  As Steve and I say in our Christmas letter this year:

No matter what our perspective may be, the most important view at Christmas (or anytime) is the one that brings us closer to the person of Jesus Christ. We stand in awe of His sacrifice for us that brings unspeakable joy, knowing Him as Lord and Savior over all.  He loves His own more than words can say:  the best Christmas gift of all.

Going beyond our temporal learning to the eternal love of Christ can be our gift today, next month, next year, 5 years from now, and beyond.

Gentle Reader, what do you say that you have learned?  Please let me know, k?  JJ

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a question of character: no April’s fool.

Learning from one’s mistakes is a given for any reasonable person.  We must learn from our mistakes or we will sucuumb to foolishness in due time.  Learning from the unforeseen negative consequences of a reasonable decision is more difficult yet still a given for any reasonable person.  Figuring out how to do this is, well, rarely given!

In the event a reasonable person makes a difficult decision after heartbreaking circumstances leading up the decision, and the outcome is good, we all celebrate.  In the event a reasonable person makes a difficult decision after the heartbreaking circumstance and the outcome is not good, we all are either:  1) sad and hang in there anyways or 2) indifferent then simply walk away from the painful truth for a time.  And it could be a long time, in my observation.  Some folks watching you may never return.  When folks have left my life my response has wavered from “let them go” to “seeya next time.”  Both are the same really and have served to preserve my ego, my character.

How I feel about the good or bad of the total circumstances must not drive who I choose to be.  In other words my identity must not become destroyed by the mistake, the misfortune.  My character must remain fixed on the fact that I am who Christ has made me to be.  He knows me, love me, leads me, and will be there whatever the outcome of a situation may be, long before I ever know about it.  So using the insight of John Maxwell and applying it to my ramblings this April Fool’s Day, no matter what may come I must go forth with wisdom.  The best source of wisdom is the Bible and the words of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Here’s some I like today:

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”   Job 2

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Proverbs 1

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1

Well cool beans.  Now that I have settled the matter at least in my own mind, I will put my feelings of foolishness aside.  I mean, how could I have known that a painful, expensive dental procedure that I had researched for 9 months would only get rid of wretched convulsions for a couple of days?  Holy cow.  Or is it holy crap?  Crapolaski?  (I’m Polish dontcha know.)  Of course right away I wanted to share my joy with the online world and posted the news everywhere!  You are my peeps these days, my tribe during these years of relative isolation.

So there you go:  the truth.  My “Hope Beyond” must remain in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in my circumstances.  He will use this for His glory:  the good, the bad, the ugly.  My character remains despite my misfortune, despite my weakened and pained frame.  And this Sunday I will rejoice with 2 fewer root-canaled teeth the promise we Christians remember at Easter.  Christ is risen and He will come again in glory!  On this we can be certain.  As for my situation, I probably just need more time to heal these fried nerve endings.

It is still a beautiful day outside and my garden is coming back to life.  Hang tough, Gentle Reader.  In due time, I AM GOING TO BE WELL!  Just Julie