Beyond the Movie and the Video: Part 2

In my last blog I shared the following resources for those wanting to learn more about the experience of Lyme Disease and the journey to healing:

— The movie:  Under Our Skin and

—  The video story of Christa and Justin’s experience with Lyme Disease.

Links to these two are in the References Section of the Categories in the right-hand column.  In this blog I’d like to go one step further.  In my humble opinion, the most important journey regardless of whether we are sick or well, however, has nothing to do with an illness.  The big, “It” in life to me is not determined merely by our attitude, our fitness, our success, our offspring, the work we do, the things we create.  I submit to you that what “it” is about in this life is where you land on the path to meaningfulness.

Research shows that on one’s deathbed many people ask:  was what I did, what I said, what I thought, whom or what I loved, what I experienced worth anything in the end?  King Solomon tells us many times in the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes that the stuff of this life in the end is all “meaningless, like chasing after the wind.”  Well if that’s coming from the wisest man that ever lived (next to Jesus Christ), putting our faith in the stuff of this life won’t get us anywhere!  So translated to my current life experience:  even if I recover from Lyme Disease and the associated illnesses, what does it matter if I have not wrestled with the larger questions of life?  And if this is true, why do I spend so much time and energy on the earthly things?  The answer is probably because I am weak and distracted from my Lord and Savior too much of the time.

I was reminded today by another blogger (The Busy Mom) that I would be wise to spend more time focusing on what the apostle Paul teaches in the New Testament Book of Philippians:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (4:8)

Sounds good.  These thoughts surely will create a positive effect on my healing from the inside out.  And further, the words of Sarah Young in her book Jesus Calling suggested that a spirit of thankfulness awakens my awareness to a multitude of blessings, cushioning the impact of the trials of life (p. 215).  She pointed to scripture that teaches we are to:

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thess 5:18)

Therefore if I were to dabble more in these words of scripture I would simply fill my thoughts as noted above.  Yeah but I still couldn’t do it in my own strength when the noxious symptoms and tasks of recovering from illness distract me from everything else, even God’s Word.  When I am so weak that I cannot lift my head off of the pillow, I submit to you that to fulfill these commands are impossible without the power, grace and love that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit of the Triune God must speak them into my heart. It is only with God, James also teaches us in the New Testament, that we can:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

And the rewards of following the Lord are worth it.  I won’t be lost in the rumination of my mind going over and over my sorry lot in life when I meditate on these words.  I will no longer be distracted by pain, my list of “have nots,” and my unfulfilled wish list for this stage in my life.  Exasperation will give way to peace.  And most importantly for me, the journey will not be wasted.  The journey will be rich with meaning, with discovery, with wonder.  The earthly emotions of emptiness, guilt, discouragement, despair, and so on will fade away.  Joy will come in the morning and in the night as well.

Those gentle readers who have died to self and trusted in the hope, promise, and saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, know what I am talking about.  We can turn to His Word that He gave us for countless reminders of how He loves us, sees us exactly as we are in the circumstances and circus of our lives.  We will never be alone whether in the midst of others or weary on our sick beds (Psalm 41:3).  The benefits outweigh the risks of letting go and letting the God of Creation enter into our hearts:  the One Who will come again in glory, restoring us to glory.  We will dwell in a heavenly realm with him forevermore and that is a time far beyond our wildest imaginations.  Forever with the Lord will be a time rich with meaningfulness!

Yes.  I have Lyme Disease and a whole host of things wrong with me and my life.  Yes. I am a child of the King Who goes before me, leads me, holds me, knows me, and is coming again for me and for you too.  I pray that you will join me in looking beyond your circumstances for a NEW HOPE BEYOND LYME.  It’s worth it!

Trading My Sorrows for the Joy of the Lord

“You can’t handle the truth!”

Remember this line from the movie, “A Few Good Men?”   Actor Tom Cruise is a military attorney questioning Jack Nicholson’s character, a high-ranking Army officer.  Tom presses Jack to determine if he ordered some soldiers to haze a homosexual soldier in the name of honor, code, saving lives, and so on.  The men were shouting at each other as Jack blurts out that he did in fact order the “Code” that resulted in the death of the hazed soldier.  Jack is escorted out of the courtroom shortly thereafter, sure to face his own court Marshall.  The soldiers who carried out the order were then dishonorably discharged from the Army.  The moviegoer could finally breathe as the scene came to a close.

Hmmmmm.  The intensity of emotion needed to find and face the shocking truth in my life is like that scene in my mind right now.  The truth is that I can no longer hide the noxious tic and seizure attacks that can be complications of neuro-lyme disease, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or chronic lyme disease.  For me these are occurring several times per day or night and these times are not limited to medical appointments or within the privacy of our home.  Perhaps it is the recent successive course of 3 different antibiotics that has caused the increase?  Perhaps these episodes will diminish again after the last dose in a few days?  Or perhaps not.  I have no idea what is to come as their pattern has changed.

The next truth is that more people than I am comfortable with have now witnessed my private hell.  Tis quite embarrassing, quite humbling and wretched to have to be carried down a flight of stairs and out to the car after an evening of fellowship with friends from church.  You see, after a lively Bible discussion with some friends on Sunday night, I had to ask the man of the house to help me find a quiet place to rest; a series of seizure attacks was beginning.  He showed me to a back bedroom upstairs which worked well initially:  the seizure attack came on strong then subsided as I sobbed in the comfort of a room away from everyone else.  The only problem was when the attacks didn’t stop, no one could hear my attempts to cry out for help!  The act of crying out triggered more attacks.  A train went by in the distance then another, covering the sound of my cries for sure.  After a long while, my husband came looking for me and found a shell of a wife curled up in a recliner.

Initially I had difficulty speaking and responding to his questions.  If someone tries to touch me or move me during an attack, these also can make them worse.  Both gratefully and sadly, Steve has been in this situation with me before many times and knew what to do.  I still couldn’t stop crying.  Geez.  So Steve gingerly helped me sit up and slowly rise to a standing position.  Unfortunately the neurological collapse was settling in and I was unable to stand on my own.  What would occur over the next hour was like recovering from a stroke:  left-sided parasthesia with my bilateral lower extremities and proximal left arm affected the most.  My speech was slowed and simple.  My thinking narrowed to the tasks of managing the episode without injury.  I became terrified of the two sets of stairs between the master bedroom and our car parked in the driveway.  Steve ended up carrying me, first to a couch on the first floor then second out to the car with a break inbetween.

At this point, the only folks left visiting in the house were the couple who lived there and their father.  Mrs V., the wife, had seen a seizure attack episode last year when she graciously  stayed with me for a night.  Steve was out of town and her presence was a great comfort.  I have wondered if her husband sometimes doesn’t know what to make of the chronicity of this illness plaguing my life?  Who knows.  I do appreciate his prayers when the group closes for the evening.  Well tonight, Mr. B. too got to see the worst of it as well.  Great.  But that was not my prayer when I was secluded in the bedroom!

When the attacks did not stop, I pleaded with the Lord to please make them stop!  I did not want the horror of having to be seen unable to walk, hanging from my husband’s arms.  I tried to get up myself but the jolts held me back.  I tried to vocalize, “help,” but it was not loud enough for anyone downstairs to hear me and the attempts to speak triggered smaller tic attacks which held me back.  Another truth is that inner voice I know to be the Holy Spirit was pressing on my heart to wait and not try to force a situation that was out of my control.  Obviously I was not in control and that was not going to change anytime soon!  I turned my focus to my breathing.  Breathing was difficult and my chest was hurting from the crushing chest compressions that accompany the vigorous shaking episodes.  Yes, all I could do in that moment was breathe and maybe ask my husband to remember to get my purse before we left the house.

I am sorry if this is too upsetting for you, gentle reader.  This is crap-o-la-ski at it’s finest!  My truth today is that I have been sad most of the day, even crying some.  This stuff is difficult for sure.  More attacks, less intense “tic attacks” I call them came again today during my first treatment by a new chiropractor.  More tears followed afterwards this time as well.  Sigh.  What I’ve got here is simply a very tough season in my life and I just have to endure it.  But I know from the past trials in my life that these experiences will not go on forever nor will they be without meaning or purpose.

The Bible tells us that our suffering can produce endurance, endurance, character, and character, hope (Romans 5:4).  The Bible tells us that we may endure many different kinds of hardships for His name (Revelation 2:3), that He will ultimately rescue us from attack for His glory (2 Timothy 4:18), and that we are to persevere with the supernatural strength that He alone provides with His righteous hand (Isaiah 41:10; 58:11).   We know that in this world, even as those who are in Christ Jesus, that we will endure many trials and hardships.  No one is immune to this!  These are the consequences of living in a fallen world.  Even the most wretched of situations can be used to strengthen us as they did for the first disciples (Acts 14:22) if we but hold on and do not become embittered by them.  We must cry out to God at these times because the Lord promised that He will be with us now and until the end of our days (Matthew 28:20).  He is present and weeps with us in the midst of the heartache.  The person of Jesus Christ, the indwelling Spirit, and the blessing of the Father are with us in our time of need.

It did not take very long into my time of agony upstairs in our friends’ home that I knew that I was not alone up there.  The Lord was with me then as He is with me now as I write this to you in the wee hours of the morning.  In the shadow of His wings, in the protection of His mighty right hand, I was able to endure the crisis at hand.  And you know, He can be right there for you too.  It does take but one thing:  to call upon His name:  Jesus.  Can you remember that?  The truth is that if we do call upon His name, one day soon all this sorrow will pass away and we will be in the presence of the King forevermore.  Now that is a party, an eternal bliss that I do not want to miss.  I hope you will be there too with me.  Just knowing you are out there comforts me you know.  Will you join us?  Oh I hope so!  This is His the reality of His new covenant that is now here, our hope, our joy no matter what comes.  This is truth that we can handle for sure.  Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

 11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. 12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.   Jeremiah 31:11-13 (NIV)

Giving up one thing for another

7157_10151668652045255_1072850858_nSo glad I could enjoy my husband’s kayak race today.  His daughter, Christina, and I cheered him on from the shore of the ol’ St. Joe River, taking pictures and listening to paddling stories from the timekeepers (Roger and Martha).  Seems simple enough:  a typical Saturday outing for our household perhaps.

Er, no.  THIS IS HUGE!!!  When you wake up with a crushing feeling in your chest that you’ve had for days and tic attacks after a night of broken sleep due to both, it’s a blessing from the Lord to be able to go anywhere!  And seeing my beloved River Bear in his element is a real treat for me.  My husband is so cool.  And I got even got to yell at the top of my achy lungs, “Gooooooooo Steeeeeeeeeeeeeve!”  He won today in the USCA K1 Unlimited class as well as had the fastest overall time.  The day was warm and sunny.  All was good.

The afternoon didn’t go so well as I tried to rest with hopes of helping at the Purdue Extension Office plant sale this evening.  Oh well.  Cancelled that.  Sometimes you give up one thing for another.  Life is like that sometimes.

Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 4:24-25

Yes, we endure hardships in our lives.  Yet this is not all there is and that can be a tremendous relief and source of hope.  A breath of fresh air.  In this life we can choose give our lives to that which fails us and fades or trust the One who is worthy and promises us life everlasting, riches beyond our wildest imagination.  I have placed my trust in more than I can see, feel, hear, taste, touch in this life:  God almighty, maker of heaven and earth through a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ.  So if I get a piece of happiness today it is a sweet blessing; thank you Lord.  But I will never give up a piece of happiness for true joy that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  He transcends our world and our lives for the prize in the ultimate race:  an inheritance that can never fade with Him eternally in heaven.  Today and tomorrow I say,  “Go Jesus!”

And with odds like this, maybe you will say, “go Jesus” too?