Just Breathe

The stress is crushing

Into my chest, my frame in flare

Old issues still wanting to be a friend

Screaming with the new ones, a symphony of suffering.

The stuff of life

Crowds every moment and then

The smart phone dies and hours are sucked up

In this Verizon store, that kiosk, then hours with online tech support.

My checkbook sighs

From neglect then a balancing act

Or nightmare as the expenses of preparation

Smell poorly like the “unscented” shampoo at the dog groomer!

Alas I confess

I have been here before:

A medical trip on the horizon

Brings hope but making it so: invites a nightmare.

For how does one prepare

With a brain on fire and infections too

Each vying for attention in the hours that remain

Before departing to the fabulous Mayo Clinic very soon?

Just breathe little one

The one inside that is afraid

Come to my rest my Jesus calls to my heart

Lay here your worries, your burdens; the time remaining is mine.

How fitting after Valentine’s

When I barely got to see my amazing love

That the Author of love would also come to my rescue

And all I have had to do is let go: let Him add the increase for the rest.

The rest. Hear that!

For the opening of this door

Was ordained for this season in life

The last medical records will arrive today. Go take a nap already JJ.

Who will carry me?

It’s easy to bemoan the slide of morality in the United States recently escalated by the legalization of gay marriage.  What is natural to the human body has now been publicly adulterated by the unnatural.  The institution of marriage, which was created by God, has been changed by a few willful and unlawful men who did not even create the institution of marriage.  Alas another door has opened in our lives that will ultimately hurt everyone when his or her rainbow-colored eyes finally open to see it.  But most of us will never see the damage coming until it is too late . . .

When the truth, the pain of what we have done to ourselves is revealed, we will mourn.  Others will mourn the horror of what our complacency, our tolerance has produced.  Further, things will go horribly wrong even for those who believe that free living is right:  things that they could only imagine in a sex-slave murder mystery will come into their reality and hurt them too.  And those of us who have attempted to shine a light or sound an alarm on the moral decline will realize that what we have tried to do could never be enough to change unbridled evil.  Eventually, we all will grieve but for very different reasons.

So who will carry all of our tears?  Who will carry your grief and mine?  “Who” indeed.

boy and wheelbarrow, trees down, storm damage, carry, wheelbarrow, burdens, Lord carried me, Lord carried me, Footprints in the Sand
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Five-year old Braxton Davis joined the work crew 6.27.15 at Opechee Way and Nokomis Road, using his toy wheel barrow to remove leaves after a large tree fell in the front yard of his house at the Indian Village intersection.

The cute picture above denotes how we have trivialized the important issues of our day.  The picture above denotes how we have traded our core values and beliefs for a picture of life that feels good in the moment.  We have minimized the significance, the impact that our actions, our public statements, our private thoughts, the work of our hands can truly have in the larger picture of life.  These are not a small issues.  Eventually the magnitude and truth of who we are is always revealed.  Eventually a tiny wheel barrow carried by a child that is supposed to help us feel good about hundreds of thousands of dollars of storm damage will be crushed by the tsunami of horror headed our way.  Our world will never be the same for you and me beginning the events of June 26, 2015.

We cannot fix this.  No one individual, you or me, can carry us through to a better future. No one:  no President, no preacher, no crafty writer, no partner, no one can fix what is coming for us or carry our wheelbarrow of tears.  We are alone to face the consequences of these actions.  If we want the pain, the grief to stop then we will have to take our sorrow somewhere many of us have never gone before . . .  But where?

We understand the dilemma inside our own home too, in another way.  Last night was hell for me and Steve.  In the middle of 3 1/2 hours of  continuous convulsive episodes, I struggled to squeak out a request for him to carry me to the bathroom.  I was also in the middle of a 24-hour urine hormone test procedure so imagine my shame in trying to figure out what to do when my hands or legs were not working right.  Neurological collapse had settled in.  Gratefully as soon as he got me upright and helped me with a sip of water, I could use my hands well enough to position the urine cup myself when sitting on the toilet.  I was able to get the sample and dump it into the collection receptacle resting in the bottom of the tub next to the toilet.  Steve then helped me back to bed just in time for the next round of head-banging, wailing, tears, and terrible pain.  And so it went for the sixth night in a row.

I am grateful that when Steve is home, he is very capable of carrying me.  He has done so a hundred times.  He has held me through the ugliest of moments, fed me, clothed me, prayed, and artfully let his deft gallows humor fly at just the right moment in time when we both needed it!  Then there were the thousands of times when he was not there and I still needed help.  I needed to get to the bathroom but my legs would not move.  My throat was parched from cries of sheer angst, hyperventilation, sweats episodes, and chronic dehydration.  I wondered if my next breath would arrive or not.  My tummy growled for hours and I could do nothing to satisfy the hunger.  My brain became too numb to figure out what was in my ability to do or not anyways.  Oh the neck pain from the seizing!  Fearful thoughts, not my own, pushed into my mind by force of some electrical misfiring that goes with seizure activity.  And I cried deeply, feeling alone.

In those moments, Jesus Christ carries me (John 16:32).  I am not alone!  Jesus Christ carries and equips Steve over and over again for the tasks at hand in our marriage (1 Peter 4:10).  Jesus Christ will also carry those who do not know him whenever, wherever they finally reach out for help (Psalm 10:17).  Our God, Jesus Christ, is worthy of our reach since He created us out of love:  shown to all as He grieved bloody tears for our sorrow, our pain (John 11:35) that we endure in this life.  He existed before the time, space, and material that characterizes our lives (John 1:1-4) and is the very reason that we are here.  He loves us more than we can ever imagine and is always here for us, no matter what is going on around us (or within us!) (Matthew 28:20).

Further, we can never say that what freedoms we want, doubts we have about our lives, or the philosophy in our own minds will have anything to do with Who God is.  God, the triune Holy Spirit, Father, and Son (Jesus Christ), is separate from mankind and is not subject to the constraints of this earthly life.  Our ideas simply cannot match up. We will never fully understand Who He is with our finite minds so rejecting Him won’t get you anywhere worthwhile.  The answer to our questions, our unmet needs in life is belief.

Because we are finite, we must place our belief in that which is infinite:  true yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The only entity that is infinite is God.  He never changes.  He is perfect, all-knowing and we are not.  We can reach out to Him in with our tears, know that He cares (Psalm 139:17-18), know that He has our back (Jeremiah 29:11), and live on with hope for tomorrow amidst our trials, our heartache.  It follows then that our victory over the heartaches of this life is in Christ alone:  the Son of God.  Jesus Christ, manifest in His Word (the Bible), reflected in His creation, and felt through the longing inside our hearts, is not bound by our limited view of the world.  Jesus transcended this life when He died on the cross and rose from the dead.  Jesus Christ will “carry” each of us through the mysteries of life to a better place when we place our trust in Him (John 3:16).

Our Lord Jesus Christ made the difference for me and Steve last night and a hundred other horrible nights.  Jesus Christ will make the difference for you too in everything, Gentle Reader, whether you choose to believe in Him now or at another time.  But why wait?  Why not enjoy His transcendent peace, love, joy, hope, and more right now?

For the believer in Jesus Christ, it doesn’t really matter for our future, what is going on around us in the world right now.  We will live infinitely longer in heaven with God than the time it takes to complain about a Supreme Court decision.  Join me in doing what we can to love people, all people.  Reaffirm in our minds that we ultimately place our trust in only one place:  the Person of Jesus Christ.  He is the One Who matters most.  He is the One who will carry us from here into our blessed eternity with Him.  And that is a celebration worth waiting talking about!

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  (Jude 17-21)

The Lord is the one who carries me for sure.  What do you say we go together?

With love, JJ

Christmas Letter 2014

Our theme for 2014 has to be, “moving from darkness into the light.”  While the year was filled with many of our usual travels and activities, the frustration of worsening illness for me had tested everything I believed about love, faith in the Lord, and hope.  Persistence paid off, standing firm in my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ despite incredible suffering, and we are now encouraged beyond measure.  I AM GOING TO GET WELL!!!  And how about my beloved Steve?  Well he is wonderful, as always.  Here’s our 2014 briefing:

Competitive kayaking within the United States Canoe Association and related delegate activities filled the warmer months of my beloved’s calendar and provided opportunities to travel within our home state of Indiana as well as the South.  We took an annual trip for the January USCA meeting and got to see family and friends along the way; Steve travelled and camped alone for the National competition in August, bringing home a respectable finish in his surf ski and outrigger canoe despite an extra swim or two during the surf ski race!  Steve also became one of the primary firearms safety instructors this past year for classes held at our church (yes church!).  His work has been rewarding with lots of interesting projects and the promise of continued work well into next year, gratefully.  And during the lunch hour if it’s snowy, he’s leading the Exelis cross country ski pack of adventurist engineers around the grounds.  If the pavement is dry no matter the temp, he’s trading the lead in challenging cycling workouts at top speeds uphill or down . . .  On land and sea:  Go Steeeeeeve!

Quick Update on Steve’s Kids:  Christina is thriving in her work assignments in Thailand despite enduring a train wreck, adventures with her motorbike and truck (as in shifting left-handed whilst driving on the left side of the road!), and learning two new languages:  one for daily communication and another for translation work.  She is amazing!  Patrick and Kate welcomed baby Warren James Horney into the world in September and we are looking forward to meeting him this Christmas.  Two year old big brother Jackson Rees is simply adorable:  talking up a storm and even driving his own motorized vehicle around their home in North Carolina.  Yes, the car bug is definitely in the Horney genes!  (See this video for details!)  Rebekah continues her Masters studies in international education and recently got engaged to Pancho/Daniel/Francisco Anaya Diaz (don’t ya love the Spanish culture?).  She is exceedingly excited for their Chicago wedding in May of 2015; we are happy for both of them and look forward to getting to know Pancho too.  Daniel and Elizabeth are finally living in the same locale since getting married in June of this year!  Daniel successfully completed his tenure in the Marines (North Carolina) and Elizabeth graduated from West Point (New York).  They are together now in Fort Rutger, Alabama as she begins helicopter training in the Army while Daniel begins college for Physical Therapy Assistant in January.  As you can see, our hearts are full with all the goodness shared here . . . now just come and see us a bit more ya hear?  J

While much of my year focused on doctoring, testing, new treatments, and complications therein, in September my astute chiropractor from a small town practice encouraged me to get tested for mercury toxicity.  The results came back as very high.  Whoa.  We were stunned.  Additional testing has confirmed these results and helped my family doctor chart a course of treatment that should relieve most of the symptoms that have been so challenging each day of these past 3 years.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!  And just when the isolation of staying home much of the time to mitigate symptoms was taking its toll, two lovely ladies and I have joined together in a weekly Skype Bible Prayer Group.  We laugh as much as we pray, oh yeah!  I am also grateful to have continued some gardening activities in our own landscape and in the Everlasting Garden at the Allen County Cooperative Extension Office.  Keeping dirt under my fingernails from March to October is the best therapy of all sometimes!

So as we prepare to celebrate with loved ones the birth of our Lord and Savior, we are humbled and grateful for so many blessings this past year.  Even the serious stroke that my brother had in April has renewed our personal relationship as well as his walk with the Lord.  Every part of our story is ending this year with a brightness that simply was not there last year.   How fitting this is and symbolic of the Light of the World Who entered our midst two millennia ago to redeem us, to bring us into fellowship with Him for all time.

We hope you are encouraged by our Christmas Letter 2014.  We hope that you too will celebrate all the possibilities of the most important relationship in which we are invited to partake.  The love of Jesus Christ can transcend all things and bring everlasting joy to each one of us.  Oh yes!

Merry Christmas with love, Steve and Julie

Steve and Julie at Drive Austin, Texas
Steve and Julie at Drive Austin, Texas