We survived our Christmas holiday

He suggested a restaurant, I located a coffee shop, we could save money by making our own food, then 4 of 10 family members cancelled, so a local brunch place it would be for our family Christmas gathering!

I intended to meet up with them that Sunday the 23rd but the old beast I battle interfered then lo within hours they were in the driveway and headed to the backyard just moments after I’d made it out of bed! Thank the Lord I’d showered before my recovery nap; the gals had dressed in warmer garments so their greetings on the Wintry patio meant I could see my beloved’s wonderful adult children after all.

The gifting seemed awkward but we were generous all around anyways then whammo it hit and seizing returned body-wide in full view, right there in the open air: my winter coat and silent eyes all around me. Some had not witnessed this hell before . . . what the hell? I prayed as my body shook violently and slumped down into the lawn chair, with me still wondering why I have to be awake to try to figure out what I am supposed to do during these nightmares when I can do nothing at all?

A plan came to mind and when my body writhing stopped, I dangerously dashed for the sliding glass door whilst screeching from my loins how horrible this is, my deepest sorrow, and my love for them all. I still dunno if anyone heard my guttural tears that began as I closed the door and lasted for the next hour with episodes that returned as I dragged my body back to the bedroom to crash. Again. Then I wondered, where was Steve?

Sounds in the background told the story that they had all left, including my beloved, with them . . . No one had brought me any food (I guess I was sleeping earlier when they were eating lunch with the live Christmas band delighting their visit), said good-bye, or showed any concern for my welfare . . . until 2 of them texted me messages of concern hours later. Ah, the days of living by the (inadequate) communication of our smart phones! It was all I had so it was something I guess. Steve returned a couple of hours later to tell me they had gone on with their plans of go-kart racing. The pictures on Facebook told the story of the great time they had. Do I want to see them? Say what?

This type of unexplained episodes continued, preventing worship at a Christmas eve service the next night so I braced myself to spend it all alone. How could I possibly hold my husband hostage at home with me when a couple of his adult children remained in town? Extreme chemical sensitivity was about to take him down as well when he got to the church and it reeked of burning frankincense so badly he could not stay inside the building. So we watched the services together online at home . . . Silent night, holy night.

Christmas required extra rest before a simple celebration with my beloved: no decorations or fancy foods just some gifts and an appreciation of the meaning of this day that was more apparent for me this year than decades ago. Simplicity does that. Christmas is measured in moments, however small, when you focus on the love that comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The traditions are lovely when you have them too. I tried to be positive and loving to my amazing man who has been faithful through so much heartache and sickness from me. How can I possibly sweat any small stuff when he always gets the big stuff right?

Little did we know that we would both become very sick with the flu within 3 more days. We had an errand to run together, at the end of which my beloved was already fading with illness. I joined him within a day and gratefully after some cleaning and making a pot of soup for us both. We still had not gone grocery shopping which didn’t matter since neither of us could eat hardly anything. That didn’t change much as the worst of this flu lasted FOUR DAYS!

Steve has started to surface back into life as he did some online studying; today was my first day I could stand in the kitchen long enough this evening to roast some chicken apple brats in the oven. Yeah, finally I wanted to eat a little more again after incredible pain and nausea lead to the loss of 3 pounds. I started to talk in complete sentences today while bracing my neck, rib cage, and abdomen when out of bed, yeah, afraid of making worse the new hiatal hernia and gastritis diagnosed 2 weeks ago. Can you say “I feel like a basket case?”

By the grace of God we survived our Christmas holiday. My beloved spent half of his vacation time from work battling the flu and barely seeing his adult children visiting from out of state; I never really recovered from this whack-a-this-or-that. This Winter illness is going to take me a few more days from which to stabilize . . . but interestingly the seizure attack episodes that flared at the beginning of our holiday week are down again. Yes, they are down! I have just found a way to take some nutrients that have been critically and chronically low and which are likely a major contributing factor to the convulsive episodes. To become seizure-free would be my desired earthly gift this new year. Thank the Lord we made it to 2019!!!!!!!!

We have been here before, you and I, Gentle Reader, dozens of times with my stories of hope and heartache and hope and heartache again. Call me a Weeble that Wobbles but she don’t fall down, I guess. Are you hanging in there with me too? Jesus makes the overcoming all possible in the end you know. (Please excuse my wee bit of humor, my Lord. Unlike me, you never falter.)

Gentle Reader: I pray that you did a bit more than survive this Christmas too. Happy new year? Oh yes, happy new year it is going to be! JJ

Will you still love me tomorrow?

The question we simply don’t need to ask.

The question that I simply don’t need to ask again, yet have wasted too many moments wondering, is the one posed in this song by the Shirelles.  Oh and Dionne Warwick.  And maybe Amy Winehouse too.  Such a classic song!

Each time I wind up in the Emergency Room, I wonder if my beloved will still love me the next day.  This morning he referred to yesterday evening as “another date night!”  Unbelievable.  All this love continues after about 16 trips to the ER in the past 7 years.  I am humbled and blessed beyond measure.

This blessing is hard to see sometimes when my body is breaking down in a new way once again.  Looks like an ulcer in the lower part of my stomach is the reason for a month of abdominal pain.  Over-the-counter and walk-in clinic medications did not solve the problem.  So after a CT scan under the influence of anti-allergy drugs and some more potent medication, I am in less pain . . . but oh so worn out.  I’ll see a gastroenterologist this coming week with an endoscopy likely to follow.  Going to try to keep my stress level low in the meantime.  I mean I don’t have any other of the risk factors that contribute to an ulcer (e.g. spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol) unless of course there’s a hidden H. pylori infection.  So more testing is needed to figure this one out.

The other “love” that could be easy to question is that of my Heavenly Father.  But I don’t.  I look around and see tremendous blessings in my life in that I have a warm home in which to convalesce, enough food and clothing, and finances for the important stuff.  My beloved is faithful and loving like “Jesus with skin on.”  What I don’t understand is how these illnesses isolate me from friends and family outside of our home and most notably, my husband’s adult children. 

My extreme sensitivities continue and are triggered by the fragrant products they (and many folks) tend to use.  We are just not sure how to manage this reactivity with our Christmas gatherings rapidly approaching.  We already had to decline having both daughters stay with us (which was a delight to host them in years gone by).  A trial of having his oldest stay with us for about a week 2 months ago, despite extreme precautions, triggered a violent relapse in the convulsive episodes.  I am now sensitized to even trace amounts of fragrance on her coat that was kept in a suitcase in our garage in between scheduled visits.  Then I had a seizure spike 2 days ago when she returned from some travels to pick up her suitcase . . .

My heart is breaking from more than the loss of acquaintances and friendships:  my relationships with my husband’s children never really got going.  Steve and I have been married for 11 years and I got sick just 4 years into our marriage.  I have been battling a serious illness for most of our marriage!  You could say that my limited visits with his adult children gave them more time to adjust to the fact that their father is remarried.  Well, o.k. maybe that’s it.  I already sensed that I needed to lie low during their visits in the beginning anyways, focusing on serving them good food and comforts and not speaking up too much nor complaining when their Dad jumped to see them, rescue them when the trials of young adulthood came along.  No problem.  Fix the car?  Pick them up at the bus stop?  Join them at church?  I just had to stay home due to illness factors and couldn’t go with their Dad to help them, that’s all.

They don’t really know me either though.  We profess the courteous “love” greetings yet would I ever really see them again if something happened to their Dad?  Oh dear, I should not even go there.  I now realize that this barrier between us is completely out of my hands.  Remember when I sent along baked goods with Steve for when he visited his family in Arkansas without me 2 weeks ago?  Yes, I need to rest in the hope that what I could do has been done as unto the Lord.   My Jesus and my beloved know my heart.  They hold together the parts in me that are breaking and the inner tears.  And the Lord also holds me in tender moments like these right now.

I need to know that your love.  Is a love I can be sure of.  So tell me know so I won’t ask again.  Will you still love me tomorrow?

Yes, for sure.  JJ

Jeremiah, 31:3, everlasting, love, doubting, Christ's, Lord's, faithfulness,what He thinks of me, endurance, love through the trials

In a far-off land the LORD will manifest himself to them. He will say to them, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you.’

Gyrations of health: a Testimony

If a cyanobacteria exposure in a reservoir creates the same biotoxin illness as mold exposure, then why did I not tolerate the Shoemaker protocol to recover from both?

Tis the gyrations of health, I guess, like a drone spinning out of control from the pond beyond to the one drowning in our own backyard.

If latent Lyme disease reared its ugly head but resisted treatment with 3 increasingly costly protocols over 5 years, then why do I keep barking up this fallen tree anyhoo?

Tis the juxtapose of stealth bugs who hide, change their DNA, become resistant or move from my big toe to deep within the brain raising havoc all the while.

If a chain of serious viral infections can hang their shingles on my weakened frame at Christmastime, then why does not 30 days of treatment make barely a dent in one of them, huh?

Tis the nature of complex illness when antibiotics awakens a sleeping class of infection, pushing me to a sideline call more spectacular than a Super Bowl play in overtime.

If heavy metal toxicity met its match with the best testing, detox protocol, and success, then why is it still possible that more mercury, lead, and maybe aluminum may linger undetected in me still?

Tis the nature of blood, urine, and hair sampling that only captures that which is circulating or secreting not the poisons imbedded in tissues only a needle in a haystack would find.

If I can gain 34 more diagnoses with one trip around the calendar trying to get well, then why would we even question that there’s a need for a new tune, a break, and yet more prayer?

Tis the nature of hopes dashed while waiting and seeing what may come (not wasting time asking “why” instead of professing “I will trust you Lord.  Show me how.  See me.  And love me through it too.”)

If when married in the past and health challenges that now look like child’s play came but crushed life as I knew it, then it would be many years later that my intended beloved would show me true love:  how true faith conquers all, overcomes.

Tis the nature of fake religion which fails when life gets hard.  A God-fearing man seeks the Lord.  A God-fearing woman does too and this will be our calling card when this chapter of our lives is through.

And if my writings, my research, the doctoring, trial-n-error, or treatments really worked for something good, then why the heck would I still be seizing each day with “the flu” and pain that has marked 5 years of disabling suffering?

Tis the mystery of bothering to recover, trusting in the Lord who has saved me from far worse knowing that one day we shall rejoice, you and me Gentle Reader, if we but hang in there a little longer with hope beyond the gyrations of this life.

I’m in.  How ’bout you?  JJ

 

I was made for you

You looked at me with the bluest of eyes and said that we were going.

The ugliness of illness that had proceeded that moment held the rest of the day in the balance —

Obligations awaited us yet all the precautions, procedures, special preparations, and planning getting to this moment made no difference.

I could not move until you moved closer towards me and spoke into my moment of sickness.

And in a scene borne out of love that many will never find,

You gently lifted me to the edge of the bed so that I may dress, may push the mangled hair from my own eyes.

As if time itself breathed slowly from one moment to the next, I became able to sit up on my own again.

We chose the adornments to fit the occasion; we got me standing then walking forward.

I drank some water from a bottle nearby.  My brain moved more quickly and the next tasks came alive.

And as if what would be horror to a fly on the wall just minutes beforehand,

You tenderly called to me our next steps as we prepared to go meet the rest of our day.

We both had a bite to eat, groomed ourselves, and moved closer to the door:

The events of getting ready now no different than what has become the routine of trials endured many times before.

But this time it was your love that called me forth, moved me on; yes your tender words alone helped move me on.

And when we were along down the road a ways ready to meet the others,

I sat in awe of the life the Lord had crafted for me, for you.

Never would we have asked for heartache and sorrow that looked like this

Yet in a dreamy place would we have designed a magnificent love made just for me, just for you.

It doesn’t matter how we “getter done” when the Lord sits with us at His table

When His grace transcends the stuff of life, when I am carried by redeeming grace from both of you.

So when the happy couple says their vows at their own marriage supper in a day,

May they somehow come to know what true love lives like:  He looks like you dear one:  the Father of the Bride.

I love you Steve.

Just Julie

It was the Lord’s decision

O.k. let’s loosen up a bit first for a funny story that my beloved told me today:

Steve was having his hair cut by an older stylist who shared with him a little something about back hair.  Yes, Steve already “knows” about back hair and somehow his stylist found out about it too.  I’ll call her Mabel to increase my comfort level with another woman musing about my husband’s body hair.  (My apologies to anyone named Mabel out there!)

Mabel said she had a client one time that wanted her to trim his back hair.  You see, the furrier gentlemen types can have hair that sticks out of their shirt collar horrifying the fair skinned, younger female crowd for sure.  (I’m thinking of Steve’s daughter here who usually helps Steve out with this kind of thing when she is in town.  It’s some kind of daddy-daughter thang.  Yeah, no problemmo.  Keeps me from having to do it!)  So Mabel did her duty and trimmed up the guy only to have him ask her to do a little more please.  Then he must have asked for the shave to go further down his shirt because the story goes that she had to profess, “If I go any lower sir, you are going to have to tell me your middle name and buy me a drink!”  Tee hee.

Steve and I cracked up for a long time after he told me this little ditty!  Then my intended beloved confessed that his chest hair was getting a little long.  I reminded him that his daughter would be visiting in a couple of days.  Nuff said.  Besides, I already know his middle name!  Lol.

There’s no clear segway from here to the topic on my heart tonight.  Today was Mother’s Day and technically I am not a mother of anyone.  Steve has four adult children whom I all met when they were becoming independent adults so the step——- term never seemed appropriate.  I was left in an awkward ambiguous role of “my dad’s wife” as if I was an expendable associate to whom they would have to be polite until one of us went away again.  They are all well-trained young adults in politeness, avoiding difficult topics, and loving their dad just the same even after their parent’s divorce.  The silence was still deafening, the emotional distance between us palpable.  In time I would discover that the fact that I never had children would be one of the reasons their respect for me would remain superficial for a long time.

Only the Lord knows why I did not become pregnant when every indication at one particular moment in time suggested that a child would be in my future.  Conception never happened.  Four months later I discovered that my husband at the time was having an affair.  The affair had lasted almost a year before I found out about it!  If we had conceived a child at that time, the precious new life would have been dragged through a painful divorce process and horrific life challenges that I ended up enduring in addition to the divorce.  In my humble opinion, both that little life that was never born and I were spared a multitude of heartaches.  Surely if I had gotten pregnant the Lord would have provided and guided our lives, taking care of important details like finances, medical care, and a place to stay.  The stress would have been unbearable for me, however.  At times I did not function very well at all for a couple of years just taking care of me.  My spirit was so broken . . .

The Lord knew what He was doing when He placed me in another “broken” family with a Godly father with four children four years later.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;  Psalm 68:6-7a

Over and over again I have witnessed the special role that the Lord intended by my presence in Steve’s family, my family.  Those musings may rarely if ever be spoken to the children.  I will not say more about that here lest they read this one day.  I am honored and blessed to be here in this family.  And when the grandchildren started coming, I was delighted to be welcomed as “Grandma!”  So sweet.  So worth navigating the older kid’s awkwardness that came in gatherings during of our first seven years of marriage.  Grandkids are fun!

Tonight I decided to post a message on my Facebook a message that speaks to my heart this Mother’s Day.  Many of us come from broken homes, broken marriages, childlessness, or the loss of children in our lives for some reason.  Love is like that sometimes.  Things don’t go right and it hurts terribly yet I hope we still choose to love again anyways.  I can tell you this night that I am glad that I did not give up too soon.  I hope that you do not give up too soon either Gentle Reader.

The Lord never blessed me with my own children then he blessed in other ways instead. I count it all joy to be related to Christina, Patrick and Kate (Jackson and Warren), Rebekah and Daniel, and Daniel and Elizabeth. Know that I pray for you often, whether it’s in the shadow of your amazing dad or trying to find my way when I do get to see you. I think I now understand a mother’s heart. She just loves. Me too. Hope your day was meaningful . . . :J

dad, father, father of four children, divorced dad, adult childen, Christian father, Christian family