Trusting Jesus

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled, “The One Who Returned Home” by Naomi Zacharias on page 14 of the recent http://www.rzim.org quarterly newsletter (Spring 2017, I believe).  She quotes a letter that recounts a story from Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz, about a friend who was a Navy SEAL.  The closing remarks are from Naomi.  I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did!  JJ

(The Navy SEAL) was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a dark part of the world.  When they entered the room, it was filthy and dark.  The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified.  The SEALs initially stood at the door and called to the prisoners.  They identified themselves and asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t move.  Alienated and frightened, they instead hid their eyes in fear.

This particular SEAL put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages.  He was trying to show them he was one of them.  After meeting their eyes, the Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them.  “Will you follow us?” he said.  The man stood to his feet.  First one prisoner did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go.

(The person sharing this story) reminded me that Miller concluded this:  “I never liked it when the preacher said we had to follow Jesus.  Sometimes they would make him sound angry.  But I liked (this story instead).  I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust him, and I liked that he healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.”

(The storyteller) shared that it reminded her of what Jesus has been for her.  But it struck me how she has embodied this message in her ministry.  (The storyteller’s name is Analise.)

When Analise hit rock bottom, the reason she found safety in (a program called) the Word Made Flesh is because they were willing to sit in that place with her; they remember their own lostness and the mutual need for a Savior who rescues us.  He did not choose to do this in grandiose fashion.  No, he chose the utter loneliness and pain of the cross.  And so it is he who beckons us by sitting down beside us, showing us he became one of us.  He tells us he is our Savior, and he leads us home — so that we may all be the one who returned home.

Waiting

Like an iris corm sleeping beneath the chilled earth

I, too, wait for my moment to emerge from below.

Weathered by icy snow, or warms-n-thaws that heave me so

My countenance strains under the stress despite a Divine plan.

When I stopped asking, “why?” I was left with less hope not more

For my search for meaning had brought me forward to face another day.

No answers have come, few bigger prayers have become reality

Yet my Lord has carried us with His unending love and care just the same.

We are going to make it to a better place one day, don’t you see?

The one where no tears carry the day and all is lovely and good.

Until then I wait or drag myself up after torments in the night, the day

Shall all thus make the happy ending sweeter one glorious day soon.  JJ

varigated iris, hope beyond, Christian, iris, inspiration, garden, meaning, gardening, metaphor, poetry

 

O.B. Panties and an HGTV Hangover

Are you going to love it or list it?  Are you ready to see your fixer upper?  I just don’t think this kitchen is big enough for me!  This will all have to be torn out and redone!

And so goes the thoughts in my head the day after being discharged from the hospital.   Since cable TV was my only steady friend and we don’t have cable TV at home, we got really well acquainted in the past 3 days.  I am convinced now that the wood floors in our home are stunning and that we can stay put for awhile longer.  Wood floors are on-trend these days dontcha know?

I also learned that O.B. elastic panties secure blankets over hospital bedrails really well!   When you are on “Fall Precautions” and have a history of seizures, they pad the bedrails with them.  The only problem is that I am sure that wrapping blankets over metal bed rails hardly meets JCAHO requirements for prevention of injury!  They outta have provided bed pads.  Oh well.  Welcome to the modern hospital complete with a 20+ year old hammock sling for a mattress.  Otherwise, the food filled my belly and care was alright.

I was in the hospital after an urgent trip to the Rapid Care Clinic associated with my doctor’s office sent me there on Sunday.  The Internal Medicine Doc said I could get an evaluation from an Infectious Disease Specialist there (which I was later promised in the ER as well).  That never happened.  What did happen was getting pumped with a plethora of drugs that created nausea for the first day and one-half, exhaustion from side effects and lack of sleep, weight gain from 4,000 cc of fluid and food-snacks-with-every-drug-to-protect-my-tummy, and a lesson in humility.

Regarding the latter, I learned that Nurse Practitioners and Physician’s Assistants run the modern hospital in America these days.  Or at least they do for what happens bedside.  I saw both types of professionals; they got to talk to the Infectious Disease Doc but I did not.  Turns out that my acute case of shingles had been seen before so they treated me “by the book.”  Never mind my history of daily seizures and concern for the brain-swelling complications that can come with the worst cases of shingles:  a disaster potential which could change my life even further, forever.  Thank you Lord that I had called the Ophthalmologist on-call the night before and gotten the treatment needed to protect my eyes from the herpes zoster virus.  It is through the blurry vision of an eye ointment that I chat with you today!  The hospitalists never mentioned protecting my eyes from the spread of this nasty, searingly painful viral infection . . .

So I did my time, got my drugs, stabilized a good part of the intractable pain, and got sent home with:  red lesions and swelling on the right side of my face, a 4th day of constipation, lots of prescriptions for drugs and OTC meds, and a renewed sense of what it means to NOT be in charge of your own life, your own healthcare.  I did get to ask questions and for that I am grateful.  I did receive my Lyme infusions of antibiotics before I left to continue that part of my treatment and for that I am grateful.  I tolerated a peripheral line for 3 days without skin irritation and for that I was amazingly grateful.  I did catch up on HGTV enough to last me a good long while and for that I am grateful.  And I was reasonably able to tolerate a modified, hybrid version of my diet from the hospital menu and for that I am grateful.  I was alone for those 3 days and 2 nights yet my Heavenly Husband was always present and for that I am grateful.

There are two other tidbits to note:  I met a lady while walking the halls who was in the hospital for pneumonia.  She’s a smoker and familiar with Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  I shared with her a short testimony of how the Lord appeared to be orchestrating the meds I was given during that hospital stay to possibly treat the serious seizures I have been suffering for 5 years.  Please join me in praying that the person of Jesus Christ would become real for her as well:  as her personal Savior this Christmas.

My second point was hidden in the first noted above.  Did ya catch it?  Yes, I have not had a seizure since coming home from the hospital and had WAAAY FEWER since taking Neurontin in the hospital.  Neurontin is not typically given for Non-epileptic seizure episodes but hey, it is commonly indicated for shingles.  Win-win?  I am hopeful.  What if these 5 years of suffering daily episodes are about to end?  It is too soon to tell how this will proceed going forward yet I am grateful for my little Christmas week reprieve for sure!

Merry Christmas to you, Gentle Reader.  Be sure to check out the Christmas Letter from Steve and me posted today as well.  Even in the dark times there is hope since the Light of the World has come as the person of Jesus Christ.  Oh I do hope that you will share with me in knowing this joy today!

And keep an eye on your panties, eh?  JJ

maternity, pregnancy, other uses, panties, underwear, adapted, stretch

 

Romans 8:28, encouragement, encouraging scripture, all things work together for good, hope, hang in there

Torture, water-boarding and more: Part 3

[Eight hours have passed since I wrote Part 2 that chronicled the second phase of my recent hearing and vestibular testing at our local Balance Center.  Four hours of the eight were lost to persistent deep-brain convulsive episodes then passing out in exhaustion and tears for about 2 hours.  These episodes are different from those usually associated with epilepsy; I do not have epilepsy as I am awake, aware of my surroundings, sometimes able to communicate, and can often pinpoint the trigger of the living hell that follows.  (See this link for more information.)  The assessment was completed 1 1/2 days ago but its negative impact has lingered.  Here is my conclusion to this story with hopes of a little cathartic experience to follow as I use blogging to let go of the trauma that went before me.]

In Part 1 of this series I gave a brief history of the four years of illness that has precipitated the referral for testing at The Balance Center.  In Part 2, I shared the severe struggle I encountered with the first two parts of the second phase of test procedures rendering me useless on a treatment table with my own carbon mask covering my face, wretchedly seizing without end.  Eventually and by the grace of God the episodes finally stopped.  I learned that the 3rd phase of the testing would conclude in this third treatment room where I was lying and would normally take about 30 minutes to complete.  Alright, so again I rallied, sat up, got some new goggles calibrated, and got ready for battle.

The technician, “M,” had me lie back down on the treatment table for what appeared to be a simple process of keeping my eyes open in the darkened mask while she would be squirting some warm water into my ears, one at a time.  She said that the water would only be a couple of degrees warmer than my own body temperature but might feel much hotter than that.  She wrapped the left side of my head in A LOT of paper towels.  Then suddenly without any additional warning a massive blast of really hot water banged against my tender ear drum!  WTF?  (Seriously, I generally don’t swear so imagine something nasty like moldy f-ruitcake at this juncture!)  Then within seconds and before I could catch my breath CAME A SECOND BLAST of equally hot water!  Within 10 seconds I was massively dizzy, yes, the highest number on her 4-point scale, thank you very much!  How is this even possible?  What the heck could they possibly be testing through such a tortuous, water-boarding procedure?  I winced in more head and neck pain as the convulsive episodes immediately returned with a vengeance.  “Why Lord!?  Why all this suffering?” my heart cried.

I struggled as she kept telling me to keep my eyes open for two full minutes or we would have to repeat the sequence.  Oh dear not that!  All I wanted to do was close my eyes to retreat into the smallest cocoon in my mind and die.  (Someone please kill me now.)  Keeping my eyes open in a darkened room and blackened mask under these circumstances was more difficult that I can describe to you.  I was wearing my carbon mask PLUS the large black mask pictured in Part 2, much like Darth Vader in The Force Awakens!  Of course in the thick of the now-violent head banging it would be my only solace to close my eyes and hang on for a ride worse than a Mexican taxi driver racing along a dirt goat path along the side of a cliff.  (I know.  I have endured that too.)  I am not sure that I even breathed a peep for the remaining seconds.  “Please Lord.  Make it stop!” I pleaded in earnest.

“M” graciously gave me all the time that I needed to start to calm down enough to try again.  Perhaps, she said, she could allow me to skip the cold water-boarding torture test if I could only repeat everything on the right side too?  Well that almost seemed like some good news at last!  And there would only be one more test after this one.  “One more?  O.k.,” I thought to myself.  “I am not coming back to this holocaust-for-a-day ever again so I had better decide right now how much of this I can really take.”  And in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ the answer is faithfully:  all of it.  “Somehow, my Lord has seen me through so much hell in my life already,” I reasoned.  “Please Lord, help me finish so I can go home.”

The last 2 blasts of hot water were slightly less traumatic in my right ear since I now knew what to expect.  (Imagine that:  you are about to get burned in one of your most sensitive parts knowing that it will spike dizziness worse than any world-famous roller coaster ride.  You know that it is coming as the train click, click, clicks up the steep hill of the Gatekeeper at Cedar Point or some such nonsense.  Good times indeed.)  In that back room of The Balance Center I braced for impact.  Smash!  When the two minutes thereafter were done I wept from deep within my soul once again.  There no longer was anywhere safe for me, without sickness or pain, anywhere on the earth.  I am not being mellow dramatic.  I was a machetied puppy in my spirit and broken in my weary frame.  Everything hurt grievously.

In due time I was able to sit up, transfer to a chair, and finish the final light bar test.  I have no idea how I did this.  Suddenly the technician’s tempo increased and she revealed that she wanted to take me to the lobby so that she could clean the room!  I knew that I had taken longer than most patients in completing the battery of tests.  And that’s when her sweetness kind of stopped.  She re-appeared with a wheelchair as I was still deciding if I was alive or dead?  Could I move my limbs to get up or had I digressed into the neurological collapse that often follows severe convulsive episodes?  More shaking, more head-banging followed this time sitting up and it had not stopped yet when “M” returned.  (Those attacks are the worst kind, by the way.  No protection for my neck when flailing up in space.)  If my central nervous system was in collapse-mode then I would require maximum assistance to move.  Moments passed.  I breathed as best as I could.  I really needed to walk out of there under my own power . . .

And so I did.  I sat in the lobby for at least 30 minutes then another 20 minutes in my truck before even thinking about driving home.  I could barely eat a few bites of the makeshift lunch I had brought with me.  The words “shell-shocked” apply here.  By the grace of God I rallied again and was able to drive home.  Within a few minutes of arriving safely I came unglued, raced to our bedroom screaming and crying, overcome with grief, unable to speak to my beloved husband in complete sentences about all that I had endured that day.  My mind unraveled.  Somehow I completed the mold-avoidance procedures we follow when returning from any public place.  Hot tears streamed down my face, mixed with the cleansing water from the shower head washing away the horror, revealing the sinus and neck headaches, unmasking the fact that no where in my body was free of pain.  The bed received me at once with more thrashing/hell that was required to unwind all the damage that had been done.  Eventually I passed out for about four hours . . .

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

Somewhere in this journey that the Lord has ordained for my life will be a glorious story of redemptive grace.  A miracle perhaps.  Healing?  Wisdom gleaned from the years the locusts have eaten, so to speak.  Blessings?  Those are promises that we all can count on when we walk with the Lord our God through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28).  We will know that our trials will not be wasted.  Something good will come from them whether in this life or the next.  When I am more recovered from The Balance Center ordeal I will speak about this with more confidence that I can today.  What I want you to know is that I am not giving up.  My heart raced and I was unable to breathe during one of the most violent episodes that transpired during the test procedures but I did not die.  That being said, it is again crystal clear there must be more for me in the future.  I am still here so why not get ready to really live instead?  I can deal with that one for sure.

And so can you, Gentle Reader.  But if you are “dead” in your sins then that is a different matter.  Why not choose life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who will one day replace all of this suffering with fulfillment of His promises?  Please contact me if you want to discuss this further.  Please allow my suffering to bring you renewal, bring you cleansing once and for all.  We simply do not have any more time to waste!

Godspeed.  JJ

He loves me

“Why wouldn’t I?” he doth profess of his love to his bride

When the nightmare is lived whilst both still awake and the hour is well past midnight.

The softness in his blue eyes

Shines brightly even in the dimly lit room

As once again the nightly ritual of enduring madness

Takes them both to a place they could never imagine before . . .

Once upon a time in a land 200 miles away

A fine gentleman found his love then lured her away with his sincerity.

She could not possibly know the trials in her tender frame that awaited,

Testing everything she knew about life itself and sharing it with another.

His strength in the Lord, His leadership in their home

Brought agape love, bigger than life and transforming them both

Such that nothing when her wretched, convulsive late night episodes groaned on

Could shake their faith in the One who endeared them to Himself, to each other, no less.

So when will the darkness end?  They often wonder night and day after night

When hope is dashed once again as the optimism of the moment gives way to defeat.

Perhaps they will know someday:  a loving embrace will return unmarked by demons or tears

And in the meantime one thing will remain as clear as crystal with the Redeemer’s love blazing through:

HE loves her.  HE loves him.  And they love them both, no matter, not mattering when.

Indeed how could they possibly ask for more?

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

Happy Valentine’s Day my beloved Steve.

Happy Valentine’s Day Gentle Reader. 

With love, :JJ

two hands heart sunset