After another dead end in the road

So many times I have chosen the road less travelled.

  • Finally detaching myself from toxic, addicted friends and family members beyond the proverbial geographical cure that didn’t work.
  • Working hard in Al Anon Adult Children of Alcoholics as I discovered the extent to which abuse, dysfunction, relying on survival skills alone, and the absence of a Christ-centered view of the world made my world smaller and darker than it needed to be.
  • Accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
  • Pursuing my goals of higher education degrees in a family where at the time, only one blood relative had done so.
  • Starting and operating a home business several times despite not having all of the strengths needed for success.
  • Divorcing the man instrumental to my coming to faith in Christ when he would not return to our marriage nor his faith of sorts.
  • Embracing the Lord’s restoration of my life after much tragedy: a life total makeover of sorts.
  • Moving out of State to marry my Intended Beloved and start a new life in which I knew no one else but Steve.
  • Finding things that I could learn and still do despite a serious decline of my health and loss of my profession.
  • Never losing hope in the Lord or that better days lain ahead somewhere despite wretched convulsive episodes virtually every day for ten years.

Tough stuff, eh? Thank you Lord for your mercy and grace through it all! Tonight I’m not sure what to make of things when I find myself at the end of another road, another lifeline of a rope that has given me so much. After 3 1/2 years, I have decided to step down from my role as Editor of the monthly newsletter for the Extension Master Gardeners in our county. My 42 newsletters have been a labor of love for me: challenging my creativity, communication, and computer skills as applied to my favorite topic of gardening. I need to open up some time and energy to find new solutions to boost my health. Working on a newsletter in the middle of the night (because that is most often the time I am stable enough to do so) then being trashed all day the next day, then repeating this pattern a few times per month is just too much. It has become a dysfunctional pattern of living just to earn 15 volunteer hours every month. Regardless, I am sad to let it go. I need to let it go. I need to let it go not knowing to where the Lord will lead me from here. I will miss being “in the know” about our local volunteer gardening activities, upcoming events, and exciting developments on the horizon. Gee, I did ask myself about taking the next step towards becoming a board member and advance within the organization: a logical next step. Supervise the new Editor in addition to two other communications coordinators? No, came the answer to my prayer. Not this time or in this way. Sigh, I just wanted to figure out my next steps ahead of time. That’s not the type of road I am travelling on right now. The GPS is stopping right here. I have arrived at a blank screen. But why not?

Geez oh man. Talk about what is looking like another endless path with no answers. Let’s add a few more.

  • Why haven’t the thousands of hours of medical care, excess of a hundred thousand dollars of expenses, many hundreds of hours of research, and prayers of the faithful including my own yielded more fruit so to speak? We don’t know. No one knows.
  • Why did my Mother die right before I met my Intended Beloved? She never got to meet him. She would have loved him dearly.
  • Why did my former supervisor’s house burn to the ground the day before she intended to cancel my trip to see my estranged father right before he died? I didn’t know he was dying and had not seen him in 30 years. Turns out that I got to see him and she didn’t return to work until months later.
  • Why did my Grandmother die the day after I discovered my former husband’s affair? I couldn’t get out of bed to go to work, so overcome with grief.
  • Why have I survived all of the members of my immediate family with no one to carry on the family name? This leaves me feeling pretty empty at the holidays or special occasions.
  • Why did I get to marry the man of my dreams only to not be able to fly with him when he lifts off to so many cool places?

Just because, Gentle Julie. This isn’t heaven. You live in a fallen world marked by sin and evil with only glimmers of my majesty and goodness sprinkled amidst the darkness. Even so, I am God. I am doing a different kind of work in your heart, in your life with a different kind of reward for your faithfulness to follow me instead of the way of the world. I know all of your story. I know all of your sorrows, including ones that only I can see. I know because I am there loving you and seeing you through it all. Thank you for letting me in . . . could you do so even more? I grieve and suffer with you in ways that you can only imagine from what you can see, from my Word. Meet me there. I promise you that the strife, the unrelenting striving that leads to seemingly dead ends will be redeemed when I come again in glory. Lay your cares at the foot of my cross. I will hold them tenderly with your tears. Trust me. I will never leave you or forsake you.

So this blog is a bit of a downer tonight but it doesn’t end there. I write the truth as I know it and about the truth that sets me free. Me and you too, Gentle Reader. Do you know many sorrows too? Weep with me. Weep for your losses, your hurts, your unanswered prayers. Then take each one and place it beneath the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ right next to mine. He will take them for us from here. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know where the path we are on is leading us when we are living unto the Lord and following Him. What matters is the trail we are leaving behind. JJ

The Star

The Star of Palmer Lake is the claim to fame of this small town in Colorado by the same name.  Built on the side of Sundance Mountain in 1934 and rebuilt in 1976, this 500-foot star shines above the city in December and on special occasions every year.  I got to see this local wonder in the year 2003.

Palmer Lake Star, Palmer Lake, Colorado, Christmas star, December star, mountain, star on the side of a mountain, star at nightRobert had a gentle spirit as a kid.  He talked less than his older brother and sister yet they often knew what he was thinking based upon the look on his face.  A stern look that made his face turn as red as a stuffed sausage meant that this little kiddo needed to get to the bathroom right quick!

Perhaps Rob was more sensitive than they realized:  the kind of kid who took in the good and the bad without saying much while growing up in a single-parent home.  Rob looked like his dad which may have given him some slight favor . . . or at least that is what his older brother, Mike and their mom would say.  But Rob was too young to really get to know his dad before he divorced his mom then eventually became estranged from the family altogether.  How did Robert Matthew Lech get to be so mechanically inclined anyways?  Decades later it became very clear that the instruction manual for the Motor City Gear Head that Rob became was in his DNA as well as from those years as a young child when his dad was still around tinkering with this and that in the basement workshop.  Just like his Dad, Rob could fix just about anything!

There’s one thing, however, that he could not fix.  Rob could not change the fact that his dad left without a trace until many years later.  All of the kids would be grown up by the time they learned that “Ted” was living in Florida.  The older sister had moved to Chicagoland and the older brother had returned from the Navy.  Rob had completed an aviation mechanic certification course with his buddy Karl, then never took the test to actually become certified.  Rob drifted a bit then became the Grease Monkey who could answer most any question when you dropped by to see him at the local NAPA auto parts store near Palmer Lake.  He would often help his customers fix their cars as well, no charge.  Rob had many friends for sure.  Many of them joined him at the bar of the bowling alley in the evening, much like the camaraderie of the 1980’s television show, Cheers.

Rob reached out to his Dad some time after receiving his Dad’s address from his mom.  It might have been when the family received notice of his Dad’s brother’s passing that they all saw Ted’s address in Uncle Fred’s legal paperwork.  Someone had found Ted!  Ted’s sister, Lori, went to visit and Ted reportedly shunned her.  But for some reason Rob needed to try to reach out to him anyways.  Something inside of him still needed to know his father, the one he had come to be like.  These things would be revealed many years later, of course.  No one got to know Ted just then.  Ted responded to the letter that Rob finally sent to his Dad, telling Rob not to contact him again.  Ted said that he had a mental illness and he had found a way to live with it which included estrangement from his family and everything in his past.  Ted slipped away into anonymity once again.  So very sad, really.

Rob was devastated.  Rob had another close friend, Dewey, who had passed away which was doubly devastating for this tender-hearted young man.  Rob never seemed to overcome the loss of these two important men in his life.  His drinking increased and his life crumbled.  Before he died he had started to ask questions about God and may have even attended a local church to find some peace.  Cans of food from a local food bank were found in his disheveled mobile home along with the slot cars from racing with his dad and brother at local tracks as a boy.  Ted Lech, aka “Mr. Motor” was a champion slot car racer and design engineer behind Dyna-Rewind:  the fastest motors in the cars on the tracks in the 1960’s.  Mike and Rob’s best times were shagging cars during competitions, especially those where their dad smoked all the other race cars every Thursday night!

Dyna-Rewind, Dyna Rewind, Ted Lech, Mr. Motor, slot car racing
Dad’s Slot Car

I found the letter from our Dad in Rob’s wallet when my mom, Mike and I got into town after Rob had died.  I was devastated.  I, too, carried big hurts from our Dad leaving us as children and so did Michael.  We needed our Dad and he could not be there.  I grieved the pain that my little brother must have carried to his grave.  I loved Robbie so much!  Then I found a picture in his wallet, the only one he carried with him every day.  It was a picture of me.  Oh dear.  My brother loved me too!  Sigh.

I am not quite sure why this memory is so tender for me right now.  I am not quite sure why it still hurts so very much.  I am not quite sure my little brother Rob knew how much I really loved him.  Oh Rob, how I wish you were still here!  I wish you could meet my really cool husband Steve and talk with him about cars and motors and carburetors and hemi engines and more!  I sure miss you Raaaaaabeeee!

It is quite possible that Steve and I will do some travelling West this Fall.  Lord willing, one of our destinations will be New Mexico and potential places north of there for us to live where the climate is dryer.  We just may have to visit Palmer Lake, Colorado too.

Rob’s ashes were dispersed at the base of one of the stars on the side of the Palmer Lake Star on Sundance Mountain in the late summer of 2003.  Mike and I climbed up the steep slope, hanging onto brambles, posts, and the cables that comprise the outline of the star while our mom waited and watched from the road below.  Two of Rob’s friends from the bowling alley lead the way for us while we huffed and puffed fighting altitude sickness to complete our mission to place Rob at rest.  His remains are part of the mountain that he called home:  the second light fixture from the upper right point of the 5-pointed star.  It’s also right next to the resting place of his friend and neighbor, Dewey.  Kind of poetic in a way . . .

I do hope that somehow Rob made peace with his past through the tender love of our Heavenly Father before he passed away.  I hope that I will see my little brother and his lanky frame, cute smile, and soft brown eyes when I reach the presence of the Lord someday.  Hey Robbie, you will always be a shining star in my memories, my heart.

man with cat, Robert Lech, Rob Lech, man wearing baseball hat, man in apartment, guy with cat, pet cat

And thanks again for fixing up that 1974 Nova for me too!  JJ