White light and angels

They were tall, white angelic beings moving towards me amidst a glow of an even brighter light.  I did not understand what was happening at the time as I was just waiting there with the figures floating towards me.  More of them were to the right than to the left; or maybe I could not see them as if blinded by sunlight.   But this was not sunlight.

I sensed them coming closer, around behind my right arm as if to escort me somewhere.  I began to drift forward.  Then I stopped.  Why had I stopped?  Was not this the right way to go?  And then the words spoken to me were felt more than heard:  it is not time yet.  And they were gone.  No light.  No angels.  Just the darkened images remained inside my mind that are always there when one’s eyes are closed.  When I opened my eyes I saw the inside of the camper all around me.  Most importantly, I WAS ALIVE!

Quickly realizing what had just happened, I groaned for strength deep within me that was not available in my listless frame.  “I have to open the windows!” I exclaimed inside my head.  Horror nearly immobilized me.  Could I do it?  Could I reach it?  Which window?  How do I open them?  Let’s see, first I have to get up on my elbows to push myself up.  Then lean forward to create momentum and reach out my arms to grab the back of the dinette.  Slide forward and get my legs onto the floor to bear weight to stand.  There, that’s it.

By the grace of God I was able to get the window opened and reach up to open the ceiling vent further before carefully collapsing back into bed.  “Just avoid hitting your head on the bunk over you,” I thought to myself.  Soon I could feel the rush of cool, fresh air on my face and arms.  I took in a deep breath, reviving further.  I was going to be o.k.  Sigh.  What the heck had happened to me?

Some might call it a near-death experience.  Others might label such an experience as a hallucination from toxic fumes.  I prefer to call it an experience in another dimension that I cannot fully explain.   Perhaps a second chance at life.  For several hours prior to this vision of sorts in my “mind’s eye” (not really seen as I looked around and not really imagined with my eyes closed) I had struggled with seizure attacks and convulsions.  This happens about every week or so that I endure much of a day with continuous noxious episodes.  This past weekend landed me with two days like this in a row!  Such is life in the mysterious world of mercury and unknown toxicity.  The typical episode triggers of hunger, thirst, needing to void, feeling cold, fragrances, waking up, falling asleep, mold, or food sensitivities did not apply that day.

We had arrived in Alabama at about 4:00 a.m. after over 15 hours of travelling by truck, towing our travel trailer cross-country.  Temperatures the next day were still around 40 degrees in the deep South when my beloved ventured off to see his son-n-wife at Fort Rucker Army base nearby.  It was usual for me to stay behind after long ventures to rest up, hoping to visit with everyone later the next day.  After sleeping about 7 hours I had made myself a breakfast of my special diet leftovers and yummy coconut almond milk.  My tummy was satisfied yet I still felt groggy so I returned to our comfy bed.  Gratitude filled my thoughts for having a safe place in which to retreat with all the provisions that I would need away from home . . .

Clearly some provisions I did not need after all!  Our crochety campground water spicket was frozen solid so we were unable to hook-up fresh water to the camper and use the toilet as designed.  Gratefully some of our emergency gallons of water were starting to thaw so we had a reserve for flushing the toilet and drinking the next morning.  But unfortunately since we had departed from the frigid North the day before, we had to take our entire journey with a camper still winterized with “non-toxic” RV antifreeze.  All of the drains and toilets were still filled with the scent of the pink stuff.  Not thinking about the mixing of products, we used some windshield washer fluid to flush the toilet a couple of times.  Then when I was concerned that the toilet waste solids would congeal, I tossed in a Bio enzyme pack, earth friendly of course, with barely a scent of pine or something.  Pink and blue and green make . . . ?  Something not nice, I now understand!

Before we crashed into bed, we had already opened the overhead vents to help control condensation inside our unit.  What I did not realize is that a window I had also opened in the morning was above the venting for the propane furnace!  I’m not sure what chemical compounds might have made their way back into our living space since the carbon monoxide detector had not been activated.  Maybe I just don’t do well with propane gas altogether.  Who knows?  What I do know is that the noxious mixture nearly sent me to heaven!

Sadly after eating that morning it was all I could do to get to the bathroom and collapse onto the bed instead of the floor.  I could not, did not move for a very long time.  Slow thoughts of my inability to move, recognition of my awkward positioning, wondering how long Steve would be gone, the location of my cell phone all dawdled through my head.  And they stayed there.  There was nothing I could do about anything and I wasn’t even sure exactly what to do anyways.  My thoughts were dulled into a kind of motionlessness that was similar to my poisoned body.  In time the white light and angels came.  In time I was able to get up as described earlier.  In time Steve came home and found a broken shell of a woman recovering quietly in our bed.  Many tears followed.

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Death is a funny thing.  You think you know all about it from watching others pass away then transitioning into a waxy state lying in a wooden box placed in a funeral home parlor decorated like an old rerun of The Beverly Hillbillies.  Sermons, Biblical passages, and Christian authors have much to say about this life and the next but until you face it yourself the words simply won’t mean much.  The unexpected BENEFIT of having a severe illness that brings daily seizure attacks and convulsions is that every day I get to face death in addition to the newness of life.  My breathing stops and it starts back up again.  From a spiritual standpoint, THIS IS NOT A BAD THING!  As a result, each day I take practically nothing for granted as life and some goodness are imparted to me.  This process is extremely humbling.  I have also learned that death is not something to be feared . . .

Many years ago a friend, Louise, shared with me an audio tape of Pastor David Jeremiah in which he stated,

“God’s man in the center of God’s will is immortal until God is through with him.”

Oh yes.  I have now lived through many brushes with death and seen this to be true!  So where do I go from here?  I’m not quite sure, really.  What I am sure of is that I will probably write about it!  You will be the first to know my beloved Gentle Reader when the inspiration comes.  Until then how about if we keep the windows open on the opposite side of the furnace, take care of ourselves as best we can and keep our eyes fixed on the Lord.  The light of His love will surely shine upon us all the days of our lives until He calls us home.  As for me, I will be ready.  How about you?  JJ

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If I get to see you . . .

 

If I get to see you in the coming year, please understand that I will be singing songs of joy in my heart!  Social isolation has been one of the most devastating effects of serious illness from these past 3 years.  Should the Lord allow the circumstances for me to get out for an activity other than medical or a trip to the grocery store, I CELEBRATE!!!

So if I might ask for a few accommodations when we get together and you graciously oblige and I still get sick then blame any negative symptoms you may witness in me as the consequence of illness and not you!  Very few folks live in a “clean room” like we have here at home.  I did not clean at this level either until it was a matter of survival.  Steve did not engage in my extreme mold/contaminant behavior strategies until two years ago.  These strategies are necessary for this season of our lives together.  Overall I do better when we follow certain guidelines resulting in less reactivity, the worst of which are fewer seizure-like and convulsive episodes which continue daily.  We are implementing some “due diligence” from what we have learned to reduce my suffering with the goal of eliminating this illness altogether.  We believe that the Lord has allowed these trials for mysterious reasons and ultimately His glory.  He is good!

Both Steve and I recognize that there are definite signs that I am getting better.  We have trained our eye to search for even tiny changes in the pattern and intensity of episodes, pain, and reactivity to keep us hopeful that one day I will be well.  It is happening!  So please don’t be discouraged when either one of us might mention that I had a rough night or you witness a significant setback.  Recovery is a long, jagged line of progress, setbacks, and lateral “bunny trails.”  The overall trending is positive!

The most important accommodations that would be helpful if we get together are as follows.

Meeting in a public place:  Select a place with less noise and less loud music.  Newer buildings are generally better than older ones; please no historic buildings or ones with known basements or crawlspaces and history of flooding.  Restaurants that make their own food with fresh ingredients are better able to modify dishes to meet my food sensitivities.  This rules out most fast food places!  Letting me know the name and phone number of the establishment ahead of time will allow me to contact them with my needs and make the experience of ordering food more pleasant for both of us!  Please do not wear cologne or perfume that day.  I will need to greet you and depart with a “virtual hug” to avoid exposures to hidden elements that might be on your clothing or coat.  Forgive me if I sometimes forget this step in the joy of the moment when I see you!

Meeting in your home:  This is still a situation that I avoid since there are too many variables at this time that may cause serious problems.  I cannot come over if you have 1) ever had flooding in your home of any kind from a leaky toilet to a wet basement or 2) have older carpeting.  If you are willing to have me then please remove all fragranced products at least the day before we are scheduled to be together (such as plug-in or spray air fresheners, candles whether lit or not, potpourri, etc.)  Keeping windows cracked open in cooler weather or open in warmer weather to allow fresh air inside always helps (unless someone is burning something nearby outside!)  I prefer to visit in the area of your home without carpeting and sit on non-upholstered furniture.  Wood, plastics, and leather are best.

Staying overnight:  If we are invited to stay overnight then we will either bring our own linens, blankets and towels, or ask that you wash and dry everything in fragrance-free detergent and softeners (including dryer sheets).  Please replace a moldy shower curtain liner with a new one!  I will bring most of my own food and hand soap where possible.  Providing non-cured, non-smoked meat cooked only with salt, plain oatmeal, plain salad-type vegetables or zucchini/cauliflower without seasonings will be a HUGE treat!  I will always bring the extra condiments and food that I can tolerate.

Yeah, I know that this is a lot for a busy household to prepare!  Thank you for helping us out with this stuff.  Steve and I are exceedingly grateful to have recently obtained a travel trailer which has helped manage all of this tremendously well.  (It is a lot of work for us too, I tell ya!)  Both of our families and many close friends now live out of State so travel is necessary to see them.  This single change in our mode of travel has allowed me to leave our home overnight much more safely and go places from which I have been cut off for most of the past three years.  We are humbled and blessed!  I really like having a mobile safe house that has already opened up my world, provided privacy during setbacks on the road, and aided sleep with a really comfortable bed that can be hard to find when away from one’s own humble abode at home.  Thank you Jesus!

Visiting Daniel and Elizabeth in Alabama
Visiting Daniel and Elizabeth in Alabama

 

We are hoping that the ongoing extreme avoidance and dietary strategies are temporary; some level of precaution albeit more relaxed than the current level will likely continue for some time.  How long will we need to do all of this?  We simply do not know.  We believe the Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) is due to mercury toxicity and we finally have the correct treatment protocols to get me well.  I have excellent medical guidance and a proven treatment plan to follow.  We are hopeful that I will be in better health within this year!  I AM GOING TO GET WELL!!!

And that Gentle Reader, is much to celebrate!  JJ

It is enough

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We had decided to pack four gallons of water just in case something went awry during our second cold weather camping trip this season.  The related online blogs recommended this among other tips such as purchasing a heated hose and waiting to un-winterize the travel trailer until we had traveled enough south to avoid freezing temperatures overnight.  And so we prepared accordingly reviewing our long “To Do” list of stuff over and over again before heading out the door.  Check!

Just before our departure, arctic temperatures plagued the entire country east of the Mississippi River from Michigan to northern Florida!  Who knew that after driving nearly 800 miles due south we would still be facing weather more characteristic of Indiana than our first destination in the deep south of Fort Rucker, Alabama?  We had run the propane heater in the Camp Lite a few times back home to minimize the out-gassing of the relatively new-used mini furnace.  We intended to fire up both heaters (propane and electric) soon after hooking up everything upon arrival so we could sleep comfortably.  Check!  After all it would be about 5:00 in the morning when we got to stop number one.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace . . .  (1 Cor 14:33)

We did not count on the entire camper freezing over along the way!  I grabbed the hair dryer and extension cord from the cab of the truck and proceeded to thaw out both door locks.  Once inside I discovered that the four “emergency” one-gallon jugs of water were frozen solid as was the entire water system “winterized” with special RV antifreeze!  We had our two sport-sized bottles of water 1/2 filled with us in the car and that was it.  Closer investigation found some frigid water sloshing around in one of the gallon jugs so we gave it to our pup figuring she would not mind the temp.  (Sure would hate to have to choose between man and beast on such a night!)  Steve used a, er, warm water stream to punch a hole in the toilet ice seal to make it operational for the night.  Check!

Hooking up the water and electric did not go well either.  The water spicket had frozen beneath the towel that our southern/Aussie host (formerly from Indiana) had prepared before our arrival.   Hmmmmm.  When the crochety 30 amp electrical hook-up proved to be broken, Steve plugged us into the standard outlet to get us through the night, thus preventing draining our battery overnight.   Oh well, we could live without hot drinks in the microwave:  we had the warmth of each other after all . . .

But our bedding felt like it had just come off the train from Siberia!  Steve bundled up head-to-toe in Smart Wool and collapsed into bed.  I tried to join him but the nighttime unpleasantries I often face reared their ugly head first. Eventually the buzzed feeling I had from the late night excitement, convulsions and checking of Facebook yielded enough fatigue to turn everything off in my head for a few hours.  Even the sound of street noise 50 feet from our pillows drifted into the distance.  We had made it to see my hubby’s darling youngest son and his wife the next day and I was glad.  Check!

Many are the plans in a person’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  (Proverbs 19:21)

Who knows why our lives are so difficult these days.  The last two times this past year we gratefully were able to camp with the conveniences of a travel trailer in colder weather we certainly prepared as best we could.  It’s not like we did not know what we were doing!  I perused and posted questions on multiple camping forums to learn from more seasoned travelers.  We purchased some special gadgets and kept snow pants, hats and gloves nearby; Steve donned his biking/paddling headlamp upon arrival like a pro to keep his hands free during the late night procedures.  I had enough food prepared in individual and meal-sized portions to keep me compliant with my special diet and the skilled driver nourished for most of our first few days away from home.  We did the best we could to avoid disaster and this is just how it goes sometimes!

The next day was a blur for me.  Yes, we said hello to Daniel and Elizabeth when they stopped by in their Honda Fit (everything is so cute about these two!) midday.  I had not eaten breakfast yet and needed some more recovery/rest time so Steve took off with them while I headed back to the tin can ranch.  What happened next can only be called a near-death experience!  That one deserved its own blog story so I won’t go into it here.

What is clear is that my writing block of late is definitely broken with some new experiences ordained by my Jesus albeit AFGE if you will (aka “another fun growth experience”)!  As in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy turns to her dog Toto after the great tornado, I’ll say it here, “Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore” and that is good.  My social and geographical isolation enduring illness at home is now broken for a time.  What matters now is faith in the Lord and obedience for His will and I know that His goodness shall prevail.  Yeah God!

. . . keeping the commandments of God is what matters.  Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.  (1 Corinthians 7:19b-20)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:18; 28)

Be encouraged Gentle Reader.  The two partial bottles of water were all we needed that night anyways.  It was enough and in our hearts we knew it all along.  JJ

Camper mascot Kermit the Frog here!
Camper mascot Kermit the Frog here!

There’s popcorn in the bed

Travelling can be both exhilarating and hazardous to one’s health all the same time.  Was it Mark Twain who said that life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all?  Yeah, he would be right at home in our house or rather our travel trailer!

And so I remain grateful for so much as Steve and I continue to navigate very odd circumstances while on the road. We have now passed the halfway mark in an Indiana, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina road trip that has provided much material for future blogging already!  This stuff ain’t for wimps and we have proven to be mighty in the Lord.  Here’s a peek:

This morning I awakened at 11:30 a.m. delighted to have slept in after a wretched night.  Steve was arriving home to the tin can ranch after the closing meeting of his United States Canoe Association (USCA) annual meeting.  He was energized beyond his lack of sleep, ready to hit the big water off the coast of Florida.  A few bites of ham was all he needed:  the outrigger canoe strapped to the roof of my truck for the past 1000 miles would see water at last!

A blast of seizures delayed my plans for breakfast as Steve assisted me with a bite to eat and trip to the bathroom. Then he found a deer tick on his back!  We had hoped that the dangerous hitch-hiker was a loner but that was not to be.  Within an hour we had found about a dozen on his clothing and the floor around the camper entry.  Quickly we searched and cleaned, flashlights in hand until every inch of Steve, the dog, and our home away from home was cleared.  [Some parts of the search weren’t too bad!  ;)]  At last I collapsed again, this time into a pile of tears:  why does everything have to be so difficult all of the time?

Steve is a saint, this is true.  He quickly switched gears (and clothing!) for the paddling adventure that awaited him at Amelia Island State Park with a fellow paddler in from Arkansas.  I sent along two bars of chocolate from our hometown chocolatier to thank him for waiting for Steve plus Steve’s lunch that I had quickly assembled.  At last I could ravenously consume my makeshift breakfast of thawed lunch meat, canned green beans, ghee butter, and pumpkin seeds:  low oxalate on-the-road dontcha know!  Steve soon departed after pumping up the tires of my bike for me:  a tag-a-long I’d added in hopes of riding here in the warmer weather . . .

But I was just too tired to do anything but eat and check Facebook after my beloved departed.  Oh how I longed to be with him!  Someday soon we will again bring the tandem outrigger canoe (OC-2)  on such trips so I may join my River Bear on the water.  Yes, Lord:  maybe this year?  Instead Don and Steve will take turns paddling the OC-1 and have a blast surfing the ama (which is the float attached by two poles or iakos off to one side) and waves like true racers.  Meanwhile I grabbed the remainder of my bag of organic popcorn and prepared to return to my own version of life these days in my pretty bed.  And in due time, I did revive.

It’s raining now as this blog comes to a close.  My bike is at the ready, leaning against my inner left leg, with my beloved pup feigning off sleep on the floor just beyond my outer left leg.  O.K. so we are now also initiated to winter camping with way too many toys!  Funny how I don’t regret hardly anything about how we crafted this trip.  Most of the delegates stayed at the hotel where the USCA meeting was held and that certainly would have been more convenient than the RV park we ended up at which was a 25 minute drive north in Georgia.  The air was stale to me at the Hampton Inn with the stale scent of air freshener in the lobby.  Here amidst the palms we have fresh air ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT LONG!  I like that!  The rain dries up quickly anyways in the reddish soil sprinkled with pine needles.  We will avoid the tick path my hubby took with the dog this morning, no problemmo.  Here I can even see a few stars at night peeking through the overhead vents we keep open at night.  That’s refreshingly cool and very romantic too!

I could be at home right now in the frigid Midwest, writing my heart out amidst the foot of snow around our home and subzero temperatures.  This is better.  This is good.  This is what living a life of adventure is all about.  Why wait for a “rainy day” when everything will never be perfect enough to do the things which call one forward TODAY.  This IS that rainy day.  And hey, the rain just stopped!  I do believe I have carb-loaded adequately too!  Where is my bike helmet anyways?

Seeya pup.  Ima hittin’ my own road ya all . . .

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Twas a dark and rainy night deep in the heart of Texas . . .

‘Twas a dark and rainy night deep in the heart of Texas.  We had just travelled over 1200 miles the past two days when the 5-pointed star on the black metal gate came into view.  In just a few minutes we would be safely in bed, asleep at last.  Or so we thought anyways!

Rain had sprinkled the roads without incident for the last few hours as our caravan had made its way from Indiana to Texas.  Since when does it rain in the Lone Star State?  Well it’s good for them but not for the weary travelers who must set up camp in the muddy grounds of my in-law’s ranchette.  As it should be, the horses roam free here and reminders of this are soft underfoot as we park near the barn.  Holy crap!

The plastic mat near the door, that I read on an RV forum to be a nifty idea, went from good to bad in a matter of minutes!  It would be another hour before we would realize that we should not wear shoes inside the newly outfitted travel trailer that would be our home for the week.  Remnants of Armani and Buddy would grace our socks and that’s just the way it would be.  Eventually we tucked our shoes underneath the camper to keep them dry.  O.k. That works!

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Our pup Elle adapted quickly to the wide open spaces.  I never really saw where she decided to potty over the course of our visit and that is just fine by me.  Eventually the mounds of racquet-ball sized horse manure would dry on all of us and we would figure out the clearest path from the trailer to the house in the daytime and in the nighttime too.  We simply opted to wipe Elle’s feet every time before she entered our humble abode for the night.  The rest of the time?  I just cannot account for that.  She settled in with the old girl lab, Leah, and darling retriever, Molly, in their respective pecking order and all was well with the world.  Elle would be depressed for days after returning home for having bonded with everything furry out there . . .

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But the tasks at hand upon our arrival to KK Ranch were not done yet as morning drew near.  Attaching our heavy duty power cord tripped the breaker in the barn no matter how my beloved Steve tried to configure it.  At 4 in the morning we just did not feel comfortable waking up Kyle and Katherine for advice.  Lights, refrigeration, and microwave/convection power would have to wait; we had what power we needed from our stored battery power.  Then in a stroke of genius, Steve attached the charger to the shore power via the smaller outdoor cord provided then attached the charger to the battery of the trailer.  Ola!  We had enough AC to run the lights and tickle the frig until we could figure out a better configuration in the daylight.  In the end Steve ran two separate cords from each of the two outlets to the camper:  one for the frig and a second one for the lights and electric heater.  We simply would not use the microwave for this leg of our trip.  No problemmo.

Then our attention turned to connecting water supply.  Most folks not familiar with trailer and RV camping have probably seen the American Lampoon and Robin William’s RV movies that magnify the importance of good sewer lines and running H2O!  If you don’t have access to fresh water, things go bad really fast!  Steve attempted to connect our two hoses to the spicket adjacent to the barn only to find that the short threading of the former prevented attachment.  No problemmo once again.  That’s why we brought extra water in case of an emergency for flushing the toilet, rinsing our hands, and nourishing the dog.  Within a day we were able to get everything together but the spicket leaked badly, flooding the ground around the barn.  Within another couple of days our gracious host purchased some new hoses, pulled everything together with a firm twist of a massive wrench, and all was well with the world.

The day we over-filled the black water tank underneath the trailer came as a surprise.  Only 3 1/2 days had passed and we were nearly maxed out!  By this point we had already dumped the gray water tank onto the ground ’cause hey, this is the country ya know?  A little soapy water from the sink and shower is good for the land anyways.  But dumping raw sewage even softened with an biodegradable enzyme tablet is not exactly the best gift to leave behind after a holiday weekend with relatives!  This created a dilemma for me.  I need to get up multiple times in the middle of the night pre and post-seizure episodes to use the facilities.  Walking 50 yards in the dark to go into the house would surely keep me up more of the night than would be advisable to sacrifice.  Somehow in the end, we made it to the max of our capacity just one day before departure and visiting the free dumping facilities of the Flying J truck stop north of Austin.  It is amazing how much “stuff” that tank can hold!

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And just when we thought the initiation of the newbie travel trailerers would be complete, there was one final challenge and it came in the light of day at the end of our stay.  Ya know, we don’t intend to use the television anyways!  My beloved whacked the T.V. antenna on a lower branch of a tree as we were preparing to leave KK Ranch.  The mushroom shaped projection on the roof got sheared off at its base leaving a black cord dangling mercilessly from beyond our reach.  Oh well.  Our roof is more streamlined now!

Arriving in a foreign land in the middle of the night poses a test of character for even the most seasoned of married couples.  In the end I had to smile at the interpretation each of us had at all of the unfortunate circumstances we faced together.  While Steve was facing the elements in the crud and cool evening air when we arrived, I was setting up camp inside our humble abode and taking care of the pup.  This is how we work as a team and that is nothing new for us.  We both get busy completing the tasks at hand.  The bigger picture was telling a different story however; we shared that one with each another after some sleep.

My beloved was concerned that I might be upset that he requested we drive very long days to get to our destination in just two days instead of the almost three days we spent over the same route last year.  Arriving in the middle of the night came as a consequence of driving 12 or more hours each day and leaving later than expected trying to get everything prepared for each leg of our journey.  On the other hand I was concerned he would be upset with me that we have to bother with all of this travel trailer stuff and expense to meet my health needs.  When the Lord graciously provided the resources to purchase a new-used unit and outfit it according to my sensitivity needs I did not realize that I had overwhelmed Steve with this project.  Making allergy-free cushions, finding the right wheel chocks, assembling enough linens from here and there, and so on was fun to focus on when so much of my time is spent in the throes of illness and recovery.  In the end we worked through all of it and had some fun creating this new memory together.

Somewhere in the middle of this night in a land far away is another starry-eyed couple making a cross country journey.  Somewhere in the course of things they will encounter wacky setbacks and have to go to bed with remnants of those unpleasantries still stuck to their feet between the sheets.  I hope that they too will discover the wonder of it all:  ’tis better to smile and say goodnight than to expect things to be perfect and crash into bed in a different heart-place.  “Trust the process” has been my mantra over many years as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and over many trials.  Besides if everything worked out right all of the time, what would we all blog about anyways?

Happy trails campers!  JJ