The Day is Never Really Wasted

Missing my Dad.

Closing my online jewelry shop.

Cancelling a dinner invitation for me with new friends.

Spending the morning and evening in bed with complications of illness.

Questioning the utility of a new treatment before it really has begun to make a difference.

Perhaps you can see where I am going with this?  No where productive, positive, encouraging very fast.  These are the kinds of days when I question the value of each breath (that almost stopped twice today).  These are the evenings when I wonder why I try to plan anything away from our home anyways?  These are the days that I cry a little more than usual.  And these days are necessary, really, to grieve and move on.

When I worked as an occupational therapist in rehabilitation, we often told our patients that, “recovery is a jagged line.”  Oh how I have found that to be true these past 3 1/2 years!  Looking back to the beginning and middle of this period of time, there were many times when I am sicker than I am now.  There were many unanswered questions, new treatments to try, expenses that exceeded our income, strains on all of my relationships, and lifestyle changes that seemed too much to bear.  So many questions came to mind as the weeks extended into months and years:

I wondered if I could continue to get to know the gals I’d just met at my church or my husband’s adult children, make any new friends, or succumb to the ill-effects of isolation instead?  How much suffering could my body endure without permanent damage to my brain, neck, back, or other bodily functions when the convulsive episodes were so violent?  Would I embarrass myself in public, get into an accident in a public place, or be found on the floor some evening by my beloved husband (who was already stressed and sleep-deprived)?  Why on earth did I have to endure such hellish nightmares, flashbacks, and heart-wrenching grief at this time in my life when I had worked so hard to become free of so much sorrow in my past?  And most of all, would anything good come from all of this:  would it be wasted time and effort after it was all over?

Some of these questions have been answered by now and some have not . . . yet.  I have made many new friends.  The process of getting to know my hubby’s children has been slower than I would have liked yet it probably is for the better; we are living a long-distance from all four of them which makes everything a little different too.   My mind has actually become clearer with the extreme dietary measures, reduction in mercury toxicity/dental issues, and healing of my gut (since the brain and gut-health are related don’t ya know?).  The physical consequences of illness will require some more treatment soon but at least my weight is stable and the overall deconditioning has still allowed me to perform most of my activities of daily living.  Further, when I felt sick in public or driving down the road, I was always able to rest in my vehicle thus avoiding an incident, gratefully.  These last two are amazing to me:  the Lord’s angels must be protecting me when I am away from home.

Steve and I have found ways to cope with the nightly convulsive episodes, sudden physical collapses that require assistance with my self care, and challenges to our intimate life on occasion.  It helps that Steve is wonderful!  It helps that he relies on the Lord and fellowship with strong believers to see him through this season of our lives together.  His faith strengthens mine too.  Although we can’t be together as much as I would like to, it helps me to know that I can trust him and look to him for spiritual direction, spiritual leadership.  This is God’s plan for the home, for marriage.  And as that design plays out between us, I know that the Lord is strengthening me too.

The Lord has never left me or forsook my faith in Him.  Even in near-death experiences, demonic attacks (and there have been more than I can count), and times of deepest despair, my Jesus has carried me through it all.  The spiritual peace that developed certainly has served to clear my mind, bringing me to a place of clarity I had never seen before I got sick.  Renewal of our minds is a gift and a promise only the Lord can give as we read the Bible.  I am grateful for His work through this process.

I really don’t know if looking at the female hormone/menopausal connection with the onset of seizures (and its related testing and treatments) will be fruitful or not.  Is it catamenial seizures?  I do know that I am probably going to make some more new friends trying to figure it out!  Some more new connections will also be made in the synapses of my brain as I study a whole new body of information.  Letting go of my hobby business today and getting focused on a more professional venture will challenge these new skills, quite possibly moving me from this disabled state to one of productive living.  Oh how I hope so!  This incredible experience has inspired a new product that I invented and eBook that I am writing.  That is cool, eh?  Yeah God!  Perhaps things will come together just as they need to and when the timing is right?  This season of time will have served its purpose; it certainly will not be wasted.  This Father’s Day will just be a microcosm of the larger picture with all of its days, its parts playing a role:  good, bad, and ugly too.

And in the end I know that the good will outweigh the other two.  How compelling of a story would I be able to write if everything was always hunky-dory?  Nope.  It would be boring.  On the stage of life, we are to live fully no matter what happens to us.  We are to live like the sign on the wall of the therapist’s office that I saw when I was searching for meaning in my life at just 24 years old:

Bloom Where You are Planted, trust in the Lord, overcomer, overcoming trials, Christian response to, faith in Christ, hanging tough, Bloom, Christian blog

Yeah.  Evelyn at Catholic Charities had it right.  And the gardener in me wasn’t even awakened yet when I read that banner!  The motto of that poster has encouraged me over and over again, becoming the foundation of my life’s work as an occupational therapist and helping me to re-invent my career a half-dozen times.  As a believer in the Lord, Jesus Christ, I can see that He is the God Who uses all things for His glory.  Someday you and I will get to see how these gnarly threads of our lives have woven together to create a beautiful tapestry that characterizes the life of one surrendered to Christ.  With that hope I can face tomorrow and all that it brings.  With that hope I submit to the will of my Master Gardener, my Lord.

With that hope you can too, Gentle Reader.  Bloom!  With love, JJ

The whole chicken or egg dilemma

chicken and eggs

Sometimes in life things do not occur in any sane, logical order.  Well after the original Creation of all things, that is!  Before Creation there was only God and we came with His speaking into existence time, space, the earth, and so on.  All I can say is that after I was born a lot of things happened in a fairly reasonable sequence.  However after I became an adult that all changed!

I started my career, graduated with a Masters degree, and was married 12 years without ever having had any children.  I see now the paradoxical blessing of never having had a family as a young woman; it just didn’t make sense why this happened as the years went on until more recently.  It was the Lord’s plan for my life.  Regardless I now have had the privilege of “adopting” my intended beloved husband’s grandson this past year and it is GRAND!  I love it!  Sitting here in the great State of Indiana following the stream of photos on Facebook of little Jackson and his parents in North Carolina is the new replacement for dinner-with-the-family on Sunday afternoons.  Well o.k.  Works for me.

Ah yes, work.  I began my career as an occupational therapist, dabbled in worker’s compensation insurance, ventured into a home business three times (where I continue now as a hobby), bounced back after a few orthopedic injuries, and landed in an extended medical leave two years ago.  I would have thought that I would be more vulnerable to such a serious illness when undergoing some of the more significant and stressful transitions in my life but it didn’t happen that way.  Illness came when I was happily married, living closer to my hometown of Detroit, Michigan, secure in my relationship with the Lord, and largely homebound in a pretty place with a cool dog too.  I have never felt more loved and it came after age 47, not as a baby girl.  Works for me.

And there it is again.  Work.  My training as an occupational therapist brings a fascination with all things “work:” from the menial tasks of housekeeping to the time-and-motion requirements of an assembly line worker.  I am amazed at the inner workings and outer performance capabilities of the human frame in addition to our ability to love, to hate, to dream.  Later in life I would also come to know the Creator of mankind as my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ:  the One who made me and you in His image.  Oh how lovely He must be for all of us to be a copy of His humanity!  My life has been a wacky journey of discovery for all that He has made and gifted me to be; my weaknesses in addition to my strengths are crafted at His hand, in His time.  This brings me to the current day.

I received a job notification from a prominent continuing education company for a part time Lead Occupational Therapy Education Planner.  Wow, that sounds cool!  The Planner would assist in the development and promotion of continuing education courses for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants nationwide.  I have spent my entire career continuing my love for learning as I moved from one specialty area to another, adapting from one work setting and set of skills to another.  Then when illness struck and continued into the year 2012, the Lord guided me into an online jewelry business.  I knew very little about ecommerce at the time!  Within a year I am grateful to report that I had customers from most sections of the United States and had learned a variety of jewelry-making techniques.  I could adapt my creative schedule any time of day or night.  And the marketing and writing skills of previous endeavors got applied and developed further, including photography and the use of social media.

Even with all of that, my greatest joy lies right here with you.  This blog has received my heart, my hopes, my fears, my dreams, my failures, and my successes too.  You have been there for me, Gentle Reader, through yet another transition in my life.  I have recently doubted my ability to return to gainful employment due to the nature of the illness in my life.  And yet the skills of reading, writing, creating, and social networking have grown despite any hardship.  So I applied for the position!  I included the online business, eBook, and this blog as accomplishments of late.  It’s just like an occupational therapist to examine the skills needed to get through the day and a person’s ability to match it to what is needed in  his or her life.  This is exactly what I have done these past 2 years and in considering this new venture.

Thank you, Lord, for creating me as an occupational therapist.  You knew the skills I would need to navigate the events of my life and breathed the seeds of them into me decades ago.  And if it is your will that I move forward with gainful employment with this new company, then I am ready for this challenge.  I don’t need to know if it’s the right timing, if I need to do something else first as in the chicken or egg dilemma.  I’ll just trust you with all of the details.  How timely that earlier today I was talking with a friend about her preparation and experiences attempting to return to work after a personal leave of absence.  I place both of us at your throne of grace that your wisdom and strength would infill both of us for the opportunities that lie ahead.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.  JJ