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.  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 1) success as a non-degreed draftsman for a major automaker and 2) the home business, did not work when he applied it to his mental illness.  He experimented in psycho-cybernetics, hand writing analysis, the occult, the 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 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 decades, perhaps wrestling with her years of abuse 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 in 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, Gentle Reader!

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 reluctantly 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.  She 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 eventually help us to relate to our heavenly Father who is exceedingly greater and perfect;  ways that our earthly father can never be.  Yet 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 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 hope beyond what we all can see.  For your glory in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.  JJ

 

So you want to go camping do ya?

Camping is not for the faint of heart, even in the “posh” conditions of a travel trailer! Having a trusty companion or two and the right tools can make the difference between success and failure.  For me that would be the guard dog, handy husband, jugs of water, and very long extension cord.  Gotter done!

Camplite, husband, kayak, Scorpius, rack, roof, outrigger, canoe, man, towing, camper, travel, trailer, home, Nissan, Frontier, camping

I am grateful for our Camplite (aka Tin Can Ranch) that allows me to go places with my hubby and stay in a mobile “clean room,” away from the hazards of hotels and limited choices of restaurant menus.  Preparing for these trips is an incredible amount of work all by itself:  just about the same amount of tasks need to be completed for a week-long vacation as an over-nighter.  I have a sense that we won’t be doing the latter again anytime soon!  Regardless, I rallied the strength and off we went with great expectations to the Illinois Beach State Park north of Chicago, Illinois.  I was to attend the day-long Designs for Health:  A Prescription for Wellness seminar at the beautiful Chicago Botanical Gardens and Steve was to tackle the surf along Lake Michigan.  Later we planned to meet up with some friends for dinner on the north side of the city before heading south around the city and back to NE Indiana into the wee hours of the morning.  Whilst the latter plans were complicated by severe rain and traffic issues for all parties, it turned out to be an “easier” part of our itinerary!

Our wacky adventures began soon after we pulled into the campground along the shores of Lake Michigan.  Up first:  hooking up the electrical.  Not!  For the next several hours we battled a worn breaker system that kept tripping no matter what we did to avert the issue.  Was it the breakers in the trailer that were overloaded?  The eroded contacts in the refrigerator switch plate that requires a few minutes of babysitting to turn on? Figuring this out required much problem-solving with wifey-poo dressed in early Spring/Winter garb, very weary from travelling and following orders from the friendly but not-so-helpful front office staff.  To sort this out, we ran our extension cord to a few adjacent sites to no avail.  Very likely it was the campsite breakers that were worn and not our camper since everything had worked fine at home the day before.  Too bad the real on-site expert had the day off!

Finally my husband figured out two work-a-rounds:  1)  hooking up our battery charger to the battery to run the water pump and 2) running our 100-foot extension cord to a 3rd campsite and through the kitchen area window to run the electric heater.  In the morning I disconnected the heater and attached it to my blow dryer to make some order of the bed head that came with the morning.  What about just taking a shower you ask? Well don’t!  That didn’t happen . . . for me anyways.  The campground did not have water or sewer hook-ups so we had filled our modest, 30-gallon water tank at home thinking it would be enough for bathroom needs with quick “Navy-style” showers.  We were wrong. Steve did get a shower . . . then a paddle in Lake Michigan . . . then another shower in the only open bathroom facilities in the campground.  I made the most of things and had a quick cooooold sponge bath before heading out to the seminar!  Oh well.  I was definitely AWAKE for the day of lectures to follow!

A few other tidbits further enhanced our experience such as Steve gashing his lip on the rusted breaker box in the midst of trying to figure out things!  So glad for our first aid supplies!  Then there was the brand new hot water pot that I had plugged in through the cord dangling in kitchen window to make some hot tea ended up not working; I used an electric frying pan instead!  Additionally I took every remedy that I had with me to ward off noxious symptoms from ongoing illness and to consume before-and-during the seminar (with copious amounts of food-n-bacon, of course).  And guess what?  The seminar was incredible!  Steve had a great time paddling our outrigger canoe 7 miles along the lake shore and the pup got in a few long walks at the beach.  Cool beans.

woman, seminar, Chicago Botanical Gardens, flowers, planter, Designs for Healing, sitting

Forrest Gump logic applies very well to almost all of our camping experiences these past 3 years:  you never know what you are going to get!  This trip was no different.  We are now home and pooped.  Massive loads of laundry and cleaning are now underway to decontaminate everything for our next adventure having something to do with trailer demolishen derby races or something.  With our luck, let’s just hope we don’t end up on the figure-8 track.  Should be fun.  Or maybe not.  I’ll be sure to letcha know.  Eeeeek!

JJ

Time to focus

Sick and tired of being the same

I digress into another rant . . . or shall I?

Would that honor the Lord who has sustained

Delivered me from near-death and brought me to you?

Oh if there could just be a happy ending already my dear

Would I still angst over my words or lightly dance over the keys?

These are questions that will not be answered this night or even the next

As my beloved returns home to my side from his travels, refreshed from lack o’ drama.

I must find some joy to carry me out of this funk for the path to recovery is becoming clearer

Glimpses of what may be come through the struggles amuck and late night appointments with my Doctor who works too much.

But is it more than I, just wanting to be well?  I think not for the rewards for victims are slim:  our fellowship better not be tainted by our woes!

Would you and I be friends if it weren’t for our life paths diverted?  Probably not so let’s not spend time there, just trust we were meant to be here now.

And I thank you for carrying me when I could not stand, liking my words when their worth eluded me in the dim of night, listening when most were asleep.

It is time to focus on the prize coming into view:  this possible final leg of the race that will take all my strength as Mr. Herx clears the debris that soured my inner places.

I might just win.  This life season just might end.  Stay tuned, Gentle Reader.  Please pray and I will do the same.  Of course you know me all too well:  I’ll be sure to letcha know…  JJ

Binoculars, garden, view, focus, Christian, birdbath, flowers, iris, landscape, trees, scene

 

Progress not Perfection

All it took was one hard drug (the prescription variety) and suddenly I can function a few more hours each day.  PRAISE THE LORD!

First up:  finish cleaning the house to keep the risk for exposures down.  Dust/mold/smells can trigger significant sickness if I don’t so gratefully I got it done today.

Second:  keep up with scheduled treatments and keep trying to add in items that are recommended for me.

Third:  organize medications, oils, supplements, and medical supplies that have spilled over to various locations in our home.  Prepare items to donate that are no longer needed.

Fourth:  begin the next filing projects needed to gather our tax records.

Fifth:  prepare tax records for filing with our accountant.

For the first time in a very long time, I am making progress a “To Do” list.  Lord willing tomorrow I will dig into number four.  Dang this feels good!

God created our world with a masterful order, hierarchy, time table, and purpose all to bring Him glory.  He knows and sees and orchestrates and cares for every minute detail of life as we know it.  We get to see His handiwork:  look closely and you will find it as nature wakes up again this Spring.  We get to participate in the majesty of life as His children whom He dearly loves.  While we will never duplicate the perfect order of the stuff and events of our lives, perfection is not our calling (it’s His!).  So the stuff stacked neatly on our microwave instead of the kitchen counter is just alright with me.  Perhaps we would agree that our lives do simply work better when things are cleaner and neater? 

Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.  Isaiah 40:26

Perhaps then I will submit my wittle accomplishments today to the Lord as alms of worship and thanksgiving for the gains He has granted in my health.  I am making progress in a perfect path created by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And that is all it took to make some sense of my world on a Sunday.

Let’s add a little encouragement, a little promise also from Isaiah 40 for those who are weary this night:

31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isn’t that just wonderful Gentle Reader?  JJ

 

The Awakening

No plant reacts instantly to a brief change in conditions. But a change that persists is an invitation to wake up.  (From the Dirt Simple blog.)

Lately I am finding myself in a place in my world that brings me to a humbling yet screeching halt.  I ask:  what has happened to the me I once knew and where the heck did I land?  The Lord knows the journey that has transpired; the witnesses have varying accounts of this or that as well.  But it is the markers in time, the events out of the ordinary that bring the changes to light, that clarify what is actually seen.  Let’s see if I can explain a bit more about what is going on over here as one of those episodes hit me hard . . .

Three days ago the daily seizure attacks that I have suffered for 5 years ramped up to over SIX HOURS PER DAY.  One day these were all in a row, virtually without ceasing until the wee hours of the morning.  The next day I got a divided dose of 3 1/2 hours in the morning then an encore of SIX MORE HOURS in the evening!  I cannot even describe to you the mental and physical anguish this brings.  Time stops.  A single breath, one then the next, is the only measure in my mind of the clock of life ticking forward.  Difficult decisions got made between my beloved and I resulting in his cancelled trip getting replaced with the sights and sounds of another hospital emergency room.  The drug they gave me helped.  Miraculously, the convulsive spikes are but a blip here and there for now.

I have had over a day now to contemplate what life might be like to be normal again.  Indeed the pain has gone down some, the brain fog got less misty, and my ability to move improved.  So I completed a small garden project yesterday and walked our dog this evening.  I think that the ER Doctors who have told me that this illness isn’t biological are dead wrong.  Stop the seizing and I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me to get back into life.  I don’t need convincing.  It just happens! 

There is much to figure out right now.  Will I get to work on more treatment like taking down viral infections?  How long will I stay on the new medication that could hurt me if it was too long?  What will I really do with my life should this process of healing continue?  I am hopeful again and that is good.  Alas it is poetic that these changes should occur as the earth warms from the cold of Winter outside.  Unlike the plants that are either remaining dormant out there or are testing their new growth with some surges in our Spring-like weather lately, I will wait to wake up all the way.  In the meantime maybe I can do some good with this wee bit o’ energy.  After all, there is no rushing a beautiful awakening to a new life.

Five years is a long time to have been asleep.

I bought a new truck like my Dad’s just 5 days before a kayaking trip changed my life forever.  I got sick from the water.  I don’t know why I told you that.  It’s been a long detour.  Now things are changing wildly.  Maybe the new beginning will need to involve a little road trip in my sweet ride?  To the nursery just out of town of course.  They sell bags of shredded pine bark compost that should fortify our garden vegetable beds nicely.

See what I mean?  It’s already happening . . .

JJ

garden dog, German shepherd, grass, sleeping, pet, pup, sneaky, dog

Elle awaits the awakening . . .