Hell on Earth

I was reminded listening to the words of a friend the other day that not everyone believes that there is both a heaven and a hell.  Funny how choosing to believe something doesn’t exist, does not mean that it in fact does not exist!  If the source for ultimate truth is the Bible, the very representation of God Himself, then this is the place for us to turn on such matters.  Since I am not a Bible scholar, I will enlist the help of Hank Haanagraf from the Christian Research Institute to shed a little light on the subject:

 First, Christ, the Creator of the cosmos, clearly communicated hell’s irrevocable reality. In fact, He spent more time talking about hell than He did about heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), He explicitly warned His followers more than a half-dozen times about the dangers that lead to hell. In the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24–25), He repeatedly told His followers of the judgment to come. In His famous story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16), He graphically portrayed the finality of eternal torment in hell.

Furthermore, the concept of choice demands that we believe in hell. Without hell, there is no choice. Without choice, heaven would not be heaven; heaven would be hell. The righteous would inherit a counterfeit heaven, and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their wills, which would be a torture worse than hell. Imagine spending a lifetime voluntarily distanced from God only to find yourself involuntarily dragged into His loving presence for all eternity. The alternative to hell would be worse than hell itself in that humans made in the image of God would be stripped of freedom and forced to worship God against their will.

Finally, common sense regarding justice dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler’s Holocaust would never be righted. Justice would be impugned if, after slaughtering six million Jews, Hitler merely died in the arms of his mistress with no eternal consequences. The ancients knew better than to think such a thing.  [“Ask Hank” column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 1 (2004)]

We read that in hell there will be darkness, eternal separation from God, unquenchable fire, weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For all of eternity, a person will never be able to get comfortable or find relief.  Wow.  All this for turning one’s back on the God of the universe who created each one of us, loves us unconditionally, promises to never leave us or forsake us . . . if we but repent and believe in Him.  A reasonable choice I would say given the rewards, given the consequences for not doing so!  I opt for the eternal party in heaven with streets of gold and the mansion with many rooms He is now preparing for His own.  I trust that many Gentle Readers of this blog have made the same decision for Christ as Lord and Savior.

In the meantime, believers and non-believers alike must live in a fallen world where Satan rules, not God.  What?  Surely God is here, dwells in the hearts of those who love Him, reveals Himself through the wonder of nature and the blessings He bestows upon us, right?  Yes He does.  He will not rule, however, until He comes again in glory at His second coming.  Until then, we must face the consequences of sin and everything short of the Garden of Eden.  At times and increasingly in the world in which we live, we see evil and darkness.  Increasingly we see and experience what we might call “hell on earth.”  Perhaps you have tasted this yourself.  I know I have many times . . . my personal hell plays out every day as I battle a serious illness.  Wretched, man.

If you want to make sure you don’t end up in hell, well then I invite you to get connected to the Lord, Jesus Christ personally.  While there are no guarantees that you will not suffer in this life, you are guaranteed that you will live gloriously in heaven with your Heavenly Father and believers who have gone before you . . . FOREVER.  Now that’s a guarantee that pulls me through any glimpse of hell on earth these days.

All of this is good to reflect on and get straight right before Christmas.  After all, the holiday traditions will fade.  Christmas presents will break down someday and the fruitcake will live on beyond most of us in a garbage dump somewhere!  But even fruitcake will turn to dust eventually.  And when it does I know where I will be.   I will no longer have seizures, chronic illness, and chronic pain.  Everything will be perfect.  (Happy sigh.)

How about you?

So much to say, so few words

Taking a cross country trip this past week when weak was an optimistic undertaking.  Of course there were trials and ongoing mayhem.  And in the midst of it all, there were unexpected blessings too.

Relax, I won’t go on here with a long blah, blah, blog about our recent 3000 mile journey from Indiana to Texas and back!  I’m sure it will unfold in the days and blogs to come.  Let’s just say that overall, the dog had a great time!  She played in the wide open spaces of my sister and brother- in-law’s 5 acre ranch teasing the Golden Retriever, taunting the snarls of the old Chocolate Lab, and skirting the advancement of Armani (the spirited mare and companion of Buddy, pictured below).   Our pup Elle looks depressed at home alone today.  I must say that I understand completely.

Today begins the first day of a new treatment regime for a serious systemic infection.  As you can see by the time of this writing, I have avoided my second dose for a few hours now.  Sish.  I’m such a weenie sometimes.  But hey, can you blame me?  After 2 years of promising treatment approaches and wretched responses to virtually all of them, I am less than brave anymore.  So in a few words as promised:  I’m leaning on the Lord today, grateful for surviving 8 days away from home with some precious memories as a bonus, and slowly getting all of the laundry done.  The rest of the last bag of Beanitos chips is well on its way to my tummy as I say goodbye to one of my few remaining treats to prepare for Candida warfare.  From here and for at least the next month, I’m hitting this beast head-on.  The first few days are usually the hardest.  So what:  it’s time you met your match you fungus among us!

My spiritual preparation comes from the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4.  My prayers are for merciful endurance, victory, strength for my husband, and glory to The King:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Seeya when I can.  Take care all, Just Julie

Steve and Julie with Buddy
Steve and Julie with Buddy

New Treatment Approaches on the Horizon

I’ve been back in our home from a for just over a month now and generally feel better.  We remediated our home for water damage and what turned out to be a minimal amount of mold.  My noxious symptoms were better when I first came home and as of last night, they are much worse.  May I explain?

While our home is as clean as it can possibly be, there are always multiple factors, internal and external to address when battling chronic illness.  I was staring at the ceiling praying one afternoon this past week after a series of low grade seizure attacks for which I could not identify any particular trigger.  The bedroom window was slightly open for fresh air and I had not changed anything recently in my diet, supplements, or Rife treatment programs.  I talked to the Lord, praying, for a long time.  Not sure how to describe what followed:  a suspicion that the lingering yeast infection may have a role in the severity of my ongoing symptoms.

So I did what any dutiful patient would do, I called my husband at work!  Well that’s probably not the best use of his employers time; it was the sweetest voice in the darkness that I could find at the moment.  Steve looked up “yeast infection and seizures” and found a connection.  We hypothesized that the yeast has crossed the blood-brain barrier, contributing to this seizure-like complication that has remained elusive.  I knew that I had an undiagnosed recurrence of a urinary tract infection as well, again!  (Labs results are pending.)  Geez, what if there’s yeast in there too?  Other lab testing has already showed that candida is still in my digestive tract.  All this seems impossible with my limited diet:  no sugar to feed it and several rounds of treatment in the past!

I do not consume added sugar in any foods; no desserts, sweeteners, 1/4 serving of fruit every other day, and only limited servings of gluten free grain carbohydrates.  But there are sugars listed on the labels in some of my pharmaceutical-grade, doctor-recommended, and biomeridian-tested supplements.  Oh my!  At first, I felt betrayed.  How could my healthcare practitioners who recommended these supplements and all of the foods that I was consuming not see that there still might be a problem?  The feelings didn’t last long as I decided that I need to get to work FAST.  These seizure attacks have gone on long enough.  IT HAS BEEN A YEAR!

Turns out there are 8 grams of sugar in the daily dose of the powder probiotic I had just restarted.  Turns out there were hidden sugars in other supplements and even the 4 ounces per day of coconut yogurt I enjoyed that is labeled as “plain.” Tuesday was a wretched morning after a nice dinner the night before with friends.  Further investigation found that my dinner included a smaller-than-usual serving but slightly sweetener form of coconut yogurt, the 1/4 serving allowance of fruit, plus the probiotic later that evening.   I did not usually have all of these together on the same night until then.  Later in the week, my LLMD said that when the reaction is delayed until the next morning, it might be due to the fermenting of the sugars and yeast.  When I woke up and got moving on Tuesday, the seizure attacks could have been  triggered by the combination of activity, increased heart rate/blood flow, and the yeast having a party in my brain.  I was ripe for an attack, literally.

I may not have all the details correct on how this all works.  I don’t need to have it down exactly to know what to do!  Immediately I replaced the probiotic; checked the ingredient label for all of my supplements and made adjustments; abandoned the plain coconut yogurt; and cut out even complex grains to one serving or less per day.  Within a day I started running anti fungal and Candida programs on my Rife machine.  Guess what happened?  I felt worse.  The first part of today was a nightmare.  Is this what they call a herx reaction (i.e. symptoms caused by the toxins of dead organisms before they can be flushed from the body)?   Who knows.  I have to restrict my diet further anyways.  This is still war.  I am fighting for my brain and when I cannot breathe in the middle of an attack, it feels like I am fighting for my very life.

Steve wondered today if another factor to consider are changes in barometric pressure that occur when it’s stormy outside.  Further research shows that persons with epilepsy and migraines often can have setbacks with changes in barometric pressure.  Gratefully, I don’t have epilepsy.  Only problem with the weather connection is that there is nothing a person can do about the weather!  (We sang a song about this in Mott High School Chorale.  All we can do is “just complain!”)

So the illness profile that is Julie is a nightmare these days with some nice moments occasionally!  Everything appears to have the potential to trigger a pre-tic state or a full blown seizure attack; these generally come when falling asleep or waking up in the morning.  Yes, it is common with Lyme Disease to have numerous noxious symptoms that change at will and vary with each individual.  The LLMD has added the diagnosis of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome to the mix which describes the sickness that can follow after exposure to water-damaged buildings.  Fibromyalgia came as a diagnosis in 1992 with chronic pain and issues with fatigue.  While I have had many very happy and active days over these past 20 years, the clinical picture has gotten quite complex of late.  Thankfully, there is a new approach on the horizon:  VIP.  Here’s the latest research:

http://www.survivingmold.com/docs/VIP_published_3_2013.pdf

I’m not the kind of person that sees a T.V. commercial about a new drug and goes to the doctor demanding that it be ordered for me.  This time, I have pursued VIP after seeing this new research and talking with another person online who has benefited tremendously.  VIP stands for vasoreactive intestinal peptide, a naturally occurring hormone in the body.  My LLMD recommended it to me a year ago and we were unable to find it in the United States at that time.  I now fit both the research protocol and the compound pharmacy protocol I found online that issues VIP in the United States.  I really want to try it and am hopeful for some relief of these complications of illness.

I’ll write more about it as the order is processed Lord willing this week and as I begin treatment.  The average time for a person to notice a benefit is two months.  Sigh.  Regardless, I am looking forward to trying this new treatment approach, now that there is reasonable clinical indication that it could help me.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  I’m lying low this evening after “doing it sick” today and baking some treats for others who have helped us so much this year.  If you are nearby (and you know who you are!), feel free to call me for a tasty treat.  Or maybe I’ll see you on Thursday with my plate of cookies for the National Day of Prayer remembrance at our church.  I do hope I make it this year . . .

It’s after midnight and the tilapia is chewy

The real title to this blog was to be:  “To submit is divine,”  but I thought that if I wrote that, no one would read it!  Who wants to submit to anything?  Hey, in my flesh and self-will, no way! 

This day I had to succumb anyways to the nausea, headache, half-day of seizure attacks, and relentless sickness that is Lyme Disease and Candida.  Oddly, it was lying in bed with my brain “fried” for hours and staring at the ceiling that the Lord gave me the quietness I needed to discover what might be making me sicker:  every stinking grain of sugar.  Most of us with Lyme, chronic illness and inflammation know the pitfalls of sugar.  I’d already broken my denial on that one earlier last year.  Sugar feeds Lyme and yeast infections (a common complication from antibiotic and bacteria-killing  treatments), messes with metabolism, weakens an immune system already under attack, and simply won’t satisfy the angst of my flesh for long enough to bother with a treat anyways.  And today it appears that some hidden sources are making me worse.

I am already on a “sugar-free diet” by the way!  Desserts are long gone.  I consume 1/4 serving of low-sugar fruit every other day, use only unsweetened products, omit artificial or herbal sweeteners (that contribute to headaches for me), cut out honey/maple syrup and so on.  Turns out that there’s sugar hidden in my probiotic that is supposed to be helping me!  Two doses I take daily equal 8 grams per day!  Oh no!  Coupled with the 2-4 grams in my “plain” coconut yogurt, my only real treat, that adds up to way too much!  Now that’s a bite in the shorts for sure.

I started to suspect something wasn’t right a few nights ago when I actually began craving my late night supplement concoction mix of coconut yogurt to make the various supplement powders and tinctures more palatable.  So instead I found alternate soft foods to use at night and allowed myself the coconut “treat” of 2 ounces only in the morning.  Can you imagine the restraint it takes to open a luscious carton of yogurt and only eat 2 ounces?  Yeah, I did it and felt a sweet victory.  And now that yogurt is my enemy with the HCL Synbiotic Probiotic.  I guess even the low sugar fruits must now go for a season as well.  This is WAR!

To submit to a drastic dietary change is very difficult and takes time to integrate into a nutritional plan for healing.  I wrote the “Extreme Dietary Survival Strategies” in the PAGES section of this blog to reflect the many guidelines I’ve already learned from others and from my own experimentation.  Looks like there are some new ones to add!  Geez o’ man.  Instead of mixing my supps with dreamy plain coconut yogurt, I’ll have to use coconut butter or unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  O.k.  I can do it.  If this change minimizes the symptoms that killed my day today, I will submit to a 100% sugar-free diet.

It is the nature of our flesh to want what we want, when we want it, and in the way or timing that we want it isn’t it?  When we want it is usually right now!  It is the nature of living in the United States where we have access to just about everything at just about any time of day or night, that makes it hard to delay gratification.  It is the nature of becoming a mature adult in a civilized society to learn that planning ahead, hard work, sacrifice, and patience will get us much more than grabbing things within reach.  However, beyond this it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer of Jesus Christ that knows for certain that the perceived barriers in our lives are merciful paths to true freedom and peace, even joy.  Such is the glorious mystery of living with Jesus in one’s heart, where He goes before us with love and grace every step of the way.  In the end we will receive more than we ever dreamed possible as we bring glory to our Lord and Savior for waiting on Him.  “The end” may not be next week; the end may transform into our eternity with Him as the crap of this earthly life has ultimately succumbed to His plan and purpose.  Our wants and needs may even change!

Seems strange that in the wee hours of the morning after some chewy tilapia, my mind would finally clear.  My tears have finally been wiped away.  The realization that to submit is to live is now here:  the authorities, the situations, the delays in my life are Christ-ordained and designed for my best self, best life after all.  I do not claim to understand why I or you must go through all of this suffering, loss and pain in the way that we each experience it.  Let’s pray about it.  The answer to the “why” question is often left to the mysterious unanswered questions of life.  I do claim to know the One who reveals Himself to me in His perfect timing with gentleness and love.  I do claim to have faith in my Jesus who has promised me that He will be with me through it all.

I’ll betcha tomorrow is going to be a better day.

Let’s wait with great expectation together, k?