Being married to me

Must be tough being married to me

A kiss can turn into a nightmare, intimacy much worse

When the beast of illness rears its ugly head

And convulsive episodes ensue and last and last . . .

You never really know when

Some sweetness will turn to black

Your affections will turn to caretaking

Yielding another failed remedy instead of a back rub . . .

No partner by your side

Others asking about the phantom wife

Does she really exist out there somewhere

Or is it just on paper and within her cage of the home?

She cooks alright and keeps the house afloat

But complains every time you call

Of this dire affliction or that when he’s at work

Helpless, other-directed, and burdened under the strain . . .

Months turned into years

As life tried to move on so we

Try to celebrate this or that, have a nice meal

Only to have her collapse at the kitchen table again . . .

He has gotten stronger

From carrying her burdened frame

To the toilet, the bed, the couch, off the floor

Rolling her over in bed, lifting her up to drink . . .

He has had to adjust to this abnormalcy of life

Never mentioning it unless another asks

For the pain of the story isn’t worth the awkward moment

A thousand times told, untold a bit later . . .

Tis the Lord’s will

The believer in Christ must contend

Yet are we not commanded to fight

For good, for answers, for more faith when tears flow?

Altogether lovely

He remains strong

Goes to work and play

To cope with the madness . . .

She waits at home

What choice does she have?

Her calling different from his

Or is it when bound by love?

There is no right way

To navigate a life gone off the rails

Except to breathe daily in prayer

When being married to me.  JJ

Taking Turns

He needs me not but benefits just the same

And I am there to fill his tummy, help out at river races.

Then the nights return with my special kind of hell

And he brings me this or that to get the ravages of illness to stop.

Both are love in their simplest forms:

Meant to serve, to go beyond what is comfortable to desires of the heart.

Oh that my end could be gentler, the wretchedness, the pain

Making the care less traumatic between seemingly timed screams for hours on end.

But that is not our story at least for this season of life

(We define our bond in sickness and in health)

In moments at edges of the extreme . . . for over five years now.

We are weary from the journey with bodies broken with fatigue

Where only the Holy Spirit can infuse us with grace to carry us through the nights and days.

So when those pundits talk formulas of 50-50 or equations of sort

Plunge them into our caldron and see how the overflow of energies exceeds the common core.

Marriage is simply the art of taking turns without keeping score

The Heavenly Father sees the man, the woman and makes you what you are:

Instruments of His hands, ministers of His peace

Care that makes love come alive, pictures of His glory.

One day we will know why

 

 

kayak, canoe, racing, paddling, awards, ceremony, St. Joe River, Fort Wayne, competition, C2, Stellar, Steve Horney

Steve on the right, congratulating C2 Aluminum Canoe paddlers George and Tilman during awards the Three Rivers Fest 7.15.17

this all came about

In the meantime I will take my turn when it comes

And serve my beloved for a purpose beyond . . .

JJ

Christmas Letter 2016

Steve and Julie’s Christmas Letter 2016

Our celebration this year may be described as one of humility, gratitude and perspective. So here ya go from the perspective of each of us here in Indiana:

From Elle, the Dog

I must say that they have treated me pretty well and the all-natural dog food is great! All I had to do (don’t tell them) was continuously lick my paws until they were nearly raw then BINGO (!) along comes fancier cuisine and a Greenie chew bone every couple of days.  We all know who is in charge over here as I near my 8th birthday . . . the gray hairs on my jowls now bring distinction as Chief Pup.  My favs remain:  chasing radio-controlled airplanes and cars in addition to rabbits & geese!

From Julie

Holy cow, I’d like to say that I have been cured after 5 years of serious illness but that would not be the case. Lots of things are better as I continue in awe and gratitude for so much including having married the most loving husband in the world!  I am now treating chronic Lyme disease with IV antibiotics and working with a brilliant Naturopathic Physician/Genetic Coach.  For more details please see: http://www.justjuliewrites.com  Lord willing, I am going to get well!

We have been able to travel with the “Tin Can Ranch” 5 times this past year to the: panhandle area of Florida and Fort Rucker, AL; Silver Dunes area in Michigan twice; Air Adventure at Oshkosh, WI; Steve’s United States Canoe Association Nationals in Northfield, MA.  Our trip to Texas for Thanksgiving was cancelled; we hope to figure out another way to see Steve’s family this winter.  When in AL, we got to celebrate Steve’s son Daniel’s wife’s graduation from the Army as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, followed by an enjoyable tour of the area in a civilian copter with Elizabeth as the pilot!  Lord willing we will see Patrick-n-Kate and our 2 grandsons when in NC in January.  With Christina in Thailand and Rebekah (and Pancho to join soon) in Spain, Skype connections are our norm around here.

Our gardens flourished in their 9th year with the clumping bamboo finally making a showing and the blackberries deciding to produce in their 5th year.  Just gotta’ be patient, right?  We enjoyed a cute kitchen herb garden (on the covered porch), peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, radishes, and lettuce too.  Tis a good thingy that Elle doesn’t miss her outdoor pen that has been turned into our “Secret Garden” now that she is an inside dog!

From Steve

It’s been an active year, with many good things and a few “firsts.”   Julie has been the most incredible wife, supporting me and helping me in all my endeavors, in spite of dealing with significant illness.  I couldn’t ask for a more loving wife or a better partner.  God is good! J  Julie has covered most of the travels with our camper and kid activities, but I want to accent a few of those.

I’ve long wanted to see the Oshkosh airshow – the world’s largest – and with a change in my company’s vacation policy this became the year it was possible (Julie gave the trip to me as a birthday gift – can you say “awesome wife”?!?). What an incredible show!!!  The airshows were phenomenal, the number and types of aircraft were mind-blowing, and if you have any aviation inclinations at all there was probably something there for you.  On the down side, it seems to have reignited the bug within me to finish those flight lessons I never completed so many years ago.  And the thought of building an airplane…  All of which may be behind the radio control model plane getting a bit of a workout lately.

Paddling has been a huge part of our life in many ways these past number of years: I race kayaks and outrigger canoes, Julie and I produce Canoe News Magazine for the US Canoe Association (USCA), and I have a side business (River Bear Racing) selling Stellar Kayaks & Surf Skis (and supporting gear). We were blessed this year in each endeavor.  In spite of some physical challenges that somehow seem to come from aging, I did well in all my local races and managed a 3rd place overall in outrigger canoe at the USCA Nationals this year (don’t ask about my kayak race – that fell apart!)  River Bear Racing roughly doubled in sales this year, turning a profit and allowing me to add in some additional products to the lineup.  You can see our website at www.riverbearracing.com.  And Julie and I were able to produce some well-received editions of the magazine (always a good feeling after all the work that goes into producing a magazine).  See the magazine at http://www.uscacanoe.org/canoe-news.   But the biggest blessing of all was getting Julie out a few times to paddle this year, both in one of our newest Stellar S16S surf skis and in our old favorite Huki tandem outrigger canoe.  With Julie stuck in the house so much due to illness, it was a real blessing to be able to get out on the water together at those times.  And one of those times was at a church marriage retreat on Lake Wauwasee – something she wouldn’t have been able to attend the last few years.

Otherwise, work is going well, and the new owners (Harris) seem to be doing good things for the company. I’ve been able to get in a lot of cycling this year, particularly appreciating the long, warm Fall we enjoyed in Indiana in 2016. Church is a very central part of my life, and it has been a huge blessing to be part of an excellent Bible teaching church (http://www.harvestfellowship.us/).  I planned on teaching some additional classes this year at church (I periodically teach classes on parenting, firearms safety, and paddling), but I had to lay a bit low this year.  We’ll see what 2017 brings.  Whatever comes in the new year, I am always thankful for the salvation of the Lord and the life that He has given me!

Kid News

Somehow we managed to drive the kids pretty much to the farthest corners of the earth; no worries about “boomerang kids” here! Christina continues to faithfully serve the Lord in the far flung land of Thailand (a long paddle past CA) and seems to be doing well overall.  Rebekah was my relatively close child, living with her husband Daniel in the foreign land of Chicago, but her youthful wander lusts got the better of her and off she went to Spain to teach English.  Husband Daniel will follow this December after he finishes his master’s degree.  The boys are both theoretically in the USA, but being on opposite sides of the Continental Divide and on opposite coasts, they might as well be on different continents.  Patrick and Kate continue to enjoy the east coast life in Newbern, NC, raising sons Jackson and Warren.  I did get a chance in the Spring to drop in and play grandpa for a day – something that’s quite a rarity for me.  Daniel and his wife Elizabeth, heeding the words “Go West, young man,” followed the advice quite literally and settled in Tacoma, Washington on the western coast.  They’ve found Washington State to be a strange place, but they’re gradually adapting, learning to chase the homeless heroin addicts out of their cars and such…

Wrap-up

No matter what our perspective may be, the most important view at Christmas is the one that brings us closer to the person of Jesus Christ. We stand in awe of His sacrifice for us that brings unspeakable joy, knowing Him as Lord and Savior over all.  He loves His own more than words can say:  the best Christmas gift of all.

Love to you and your family,

Steve, Julie, Elle

Vampire Diaries 2

hebrews, Hebrews 13:5, abandonment, promises of God, alone, loneliness, scripture, depression, sorrow, loss, illness, sickness, hope

Tears going up and down a lot this day

On the roller coaster of emotion I find myself on:

Help cometh x2 but test results won’t satisfy

As here I sit with my neck aching all through my brain.

I tried.  I really tried to figure it out and failed.

The symptoms that remain still taunt my peace

Leaving scars, leaving woes, leaving loss behind the hope

And yet my breath prevails so in and out I will also go today

To match the pull of the vampire’s teeth left in my chest wall.

The infusions continue instead of a long-desired break

The bank will love us less, the medical folk perhaps more

Whilst someone’s Mercedes payment will be made

And my saga continues on Big Box Store hamburger.

Hope always seems just one more day out there somewheres

Leaving me here beat up from this morning’s episode of torment

A snuggle with my husband got transformed into caregiving

And more hours were lost in the aftermath once again.

At least my dog seems to understand as she nudges her nose at the leash.  “Can’t we go now?” her soft brown eyes contend.

Relief might come in the mail soon

Or maybe not; it’s hard to tell

So I’ll keep calling on my Jesus for now

His calling card never leaves and never fails any of us anyways. JJ

 

 

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