Casket Of Departed Hopes

Being haunted is when something dead will not stay buried, and instead comes back to remind you of loss and death.

It has been a long time, a very long time indeed since I have cried and felt the deep pain of lost hope. Not that I never feel passing regret, but rarely does it cut deep enough (anymore) to cause a night of crying myself to sleep. There was a trigger tonight; beautiful pictures of a friend and her husband enraptured in the joy of a new baby. For some reason even in my happiness for them, a dark window opened in my heart that felt like gazing in a looking glass at what could have been, and (for me) will never be.

Over the past few years I have successfully mastered driving a stake through the heart of hope and moving on with an alternative life path, one that I didn’t choose. I have come to peace with God and even to an understanding of the blessings, like flowers in the weeds of hardship. I had to lay those hopes to rest because the dreams that carried me through years of suffering, seemingly always on my horizon, only to vanish in the harsh light of truth, became only pain, and pain robbed me on a daily basis of both joy and seeing God’s truths.

It wasn’t that many years ago when a state of mourning and grief were my daily countenance, and sadness was a mantle I wore across my shoulders. Constantly looking back at loss, and down at disappointment robbed me daily of any life in my life. I have come a long way since those days, and although a huge component was outside my control (literal bacterial, viral and parasitical infections in my brain and body), there was also a huge spiritual component, and letting go of my expectations for my life and coming to an acceptance of what was my plan Z, but what was God’s plan A was a turning point.

In the many years that I’ve kept a blog, I’ve found that rather than focusing so much on the physical aspects of chronic illness I have found myself writing about the emotion and spiritual experiences. This has been both part of my therapy and advocacy, but also my testimony and how God has led me to have a voice where I would not have otherwise. Does purpose in pain make it easier? Usually, but not always. I do look back though from time to time on where I was at different points along the journey, and it can be helpful on dark nights like this when all I can do is put my pain to prayer.

I’ve come a long way from the little lost girl in a dark corner…

Little lost girl (towards the beginning of the blog): https://jeanvieve7.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/little-lost-girl/

Gratitude: https://jeanvieve7.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/why-im-grateful-for-the-struggle/

Reshaping Hope: https://jeanvieve7.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/some-honest-thoughts-on-a-sunday-afternoon-when-life-reshapes-hope/

Reimagining Hope: https://jeanvieve7.wordpress.com/2018/10/17/out-of-brokenness-reimagining-hope/

Trusting God in difficulty: https://jeanvieve7.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/trusting-god-in-the-process/

Healing and God’s Will: https://jeanvieve7.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/healing-and-gods-will/

And this one that has been republished many times on The Mighty: https://themighty.com/2017/01/facebook-posts-chronically-sick/?utm_source=ChronicIllness_Page&utm_medium=Facebook

So, I no longer pound my fists on the door with the letters that say “what could have been.” And as the years pass the pictures of what lay behind that door fade with increasing frequency into the mist of memory. But those pretty pictures of hope are soiled by the memories of years upon years of grief, regret and mourning and living in a state that robbed me of even more life than my illness did.

So once in a rare while, on nights like this those happy images of a life missed come into sharp clarity, and that sharpness cuts like a knife. And shattered dreams come haunting me at night like some poltergeist refusing to go to its final resting place and instead attaching itself to the living and barring me from moving on…

But this is a bump in the night, and tomorrow is a new day. His mercies are new every morning and His song is with me in the night. As I begin to try and sleep I open my Bible to the verse of the day:

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?””

LUKE 11:13

He has indeed been good. And I may not have received all the gifts I wanted, but I am assured that I have received the good gifts I needed.

“No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.

Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you. Therefore, only when our greatest love is God, a love that we cannot lose even in death, can we face all things with peace.

Ultimately, you don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

(Tim Keller)

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Lyme Labels

Hello, my name is Jennifer. I have chronic Lyme, and life is pretty good.

Just those few words will hit many the wrong way. For the naysayers I am identifying with my disease, fishing for sympathy, whatever….

For those suffering much worse right now there might be bitterness, frustration, desperation and anger.

I’ve been there.

I think the reason I’m writing this at all right now (and as I’ve come more and more out of the dark over the years to become more of a median Lymie), I find I write less and less. So am I leaving a void? Is there something to say from the place in the middle? From time to time there is, and I try to make my infrequent blog posts deep and meaningful. But right now I’m thinking of this 🤢 disease itself, not so much the emotional and spiritual sides that I often focus on.

There seems to be such a myriad of levels to this Lyme thing; and symptoms and severity of those symptoms seems to be as numerous as registered dog breeds in the AKC. I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

So as I read so many well-written blogs, articles, essays and information from people on their Lyme journeys I sometimes see a gap from those middlin’/getting by, but not dying Lymies, like me. I don’t feel at this point I suffer enough to write regularly. I feel I don’t have a right to complain when I know compared to so many I really have nothing to complain about.

Why am I writing here? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just reaching out into the void to say hi to those who live every day with an I.I. (Invisible illness). To those who “look fine”, and maybe even act fine most of the time. But that live with:

An amount of daily pain

Never feel rested

Feel like life is a treadmill you can never get off

Know that Brain fog and inflammation are the new black

Not being able to eat that

Not having a full set of spoons

Being supplement/medication/protocol broke

A degree of loneliness

I hope if you are here you’ve been able to carve out a decent life for yourself. That you have healthy emotional acceptance of where you are, but that you also haven’t stopped fighting. I raise a glass of something alcohol, sugar, and yeast free to my fighters in green!

Hi. My name is Jennifer. I’m a functional Lymie. Life is good, and so is God.

I’m still fighting 💚

Why I’m grateful for the struggle

I’m just now waking up on New Year’s morning and although today begins a new year filled with possibility, blessings, and good things ahead, first I have to deal with a morning filled with a spike in inflammation and pain.

I had an amazing surprise for my birthday yesterday and was flown back to Seattle to spend a few days with my good friends, people I love like family. It was a wonderful relaxed evening and one of my friends even labored to make me a grain-free cardamom cake (my favorite). This morning (although there were no “major” cheats last night), my body is reminding me of it’s intolerance of normalcy, and well, eating in general :/

I’m not enjoying the feeling, mostly the fact that my face and limbs have enough fluid to sail a boat on…

But I digress.

Although I’m very uncomfortable physically and psychologically (I’m pretty self conscious of my layers of puff), I am also not dismayed and this present discomfort is small compared to past suffering, or what I know many others have to bear on a daily basis .

Lately I have been meditating on gratitude for the years of illness, for the struggles, the isolation, the lack of normalcy and the divergent path my life has gone down. I know It’s a strange thing to say I’m grateful, and I know I felt differently when I was in the midst of my worst years; the years of numbness and apathy, the years of neurological Lyme, the years of being in bed most of the time…..But I had to go through those times, get through the layers of treatments, of having hopes and dashed hopes, having health discoveries, having to make the climb if you will……

But more importantly it was the steps that God was taking me through in my spiritual journey; the stripping down and restructuring of everything I was, including my priorities and my paradigms. Fire cleanses.

Why am I writing this now?

Well I have to admit I don’t do as well in my spiritual walk when things are too easy. Not to say that my life lacks struggle (see the first sentences of this page), but that said I have been very blessed as of late with entering a good season of my life. I live in a new area I love, my living situation has improved and i have a wonderful new job working with great people. Now I certainly haven’t forgotten God, not even close, but I find I am not crying out to Him in need as of late, and I actually miss that.

There is a depth of relationship with the Lord when you are hurting, or scared, or have heavy burdens and don’t know where to turn other than to Him. There is a sweet place in misery where an intimacy with God can be cultivated. In these times you recognize Him as the All In All in comparison to the frailty of the world that is crumbling around you. That’s why I’m thankful. My roots have been anchored in dark and lowly places of desolation. Through many years and seasons past I think what God was doing in the toughest times (although for so long I couldn’t see it), was driving my growth down and deep and not up into the light. I think left to my frailty and the messiness of my own character, I would so easily fall into step with the world and be charmed and wooed by things that don’t last and offer only menial pleasures, and in the end starve the soul, if not for having lived in the valley for so long.

The writer of Ecclesiastes is spot on when he calls the treasures of the world vanities.

Where am I going with all this? I think what I’m feeling is that I’m entering a new season, a season where I get to put into practice all that I have learned (not that the learning or growing ever ends), and it’s time to practice discipline and obedience in my spiritual journey. Discipline is something I have always struggled with, at least when it comes to scheduling and organizing certain aspects of my life. The words for 2019 seem to be “gratitude” and “obedience”. It’s a theme God seems to be sprinkling me with here and there, little words from different people and different sources that together make a clear picture of what He is saying. When God tells you something He usually reinforces that message by giving it to you multiple times and in different ways to affirm the word.

I am happy to find that I am not fully contented in my present circumstances taking them at face value, it’s good that I want to keep moving forward as closely partnered with the Lord as I can be, to not put my time or relationship with Him on a sidebar, but to keep digging in deep even though I finally have some spring leaves in the light of the sun.

So, I will keep pressing on to try solve these autoimmune issues, the ones that still cause pain and challenges, I will enjoy and give thanks for the positive changes that are new in my life, and most importantly I will keep my focus on Jesus and my ears open to what He has to say in this season and the new commissions He has laid on the path before me.

Hello 2019, welcome.

Where Did That Come From?!?!

Words. Nothing more powerful. More encouraging…..Emotive. Destructive. Attractive, And about as many more adjectives as you could come up with.

But that first word, powerful is maybe the one that overshadows the rest, and gives all the other adjectives their weight. Also the one we maybe too often forget.

Words that carry the most weight and power are often fueled by the most driving force in our humanity: emotion, and that is both wonderful and scary depending on the circumstances.

I’ve been thinking lately about my communications and where my “ugly” words come from. Not necessarily horrible, but just the ones that come off wrong, are misinterpreted, lack tact and just in general convey a “me” I don’t like.

Where do those come from? Well, after some thought, I believe they usually they come from places of fear, hurt, desperation, frustration, and the like.

There have been a couple instances lately where maybe the gist of what I said was fine, but in hindsight I really didn’t like the reflection it painted of myself to the person I was communicating with and maybe caused hurt or frustration.

The most recent example was an email to a doctor. Nothing basically wrong with my content, but I had to think after his reply that I hoped I wasn’t frustrating him or questioning his wisdom. This really made me think about my feelings when I was writing, and I realized I was frustrated, worried and a little desperate, both with myself and what was going on in my body.

Not a good foundation, because my words came from that emotional base.

The Bible of course has a good deal to say about the tongue and our words:

Proverbs 11:9 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”

Proverbs 11:12 “It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.”

Proverbs 11:17 “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”

Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 18:4 “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”

And of course most of James chapter 3 in regards to the tongue. The majority of a chapter of the Bible devoted to the destructive power of words!

Great! But, it goes deeper than that, and deeper is where I have been introspecting myself. A few quick questions to cut through the layers to get to the source:

Where do words come from? The brain.

Okay, what prompts the brain to create the words? Um, thought processes and emotions.

Hmmmm, what fuels those thought processes and emotions? Character.

Whoa, So basically who we are.

Who should be in charge of our character? God.

So this is a great (although be it uncomfortable) process to go through with the Lord when you find your words lacking, hurting, harsh, sarcastic, condescending, always being misunderstood, or falling short of kindness or clarity. In some cases just focusing on your recipient and not your agenda is all you need, but more often than not you need Jesus to take a magnifying glass to places in your heart you didn’t even know needed work. Trust me, there is no better heart surgeon than Jesus.

Being opened up is always uncomfortable, but having tumors removed is ALWAYS profitable.

❤️

Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Psalm 51:10

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”

The Lyme Art Book Is Live!

Hello Lymies, infected, sufferers, downtrodden… and all other readers;

I am excited to finally share with you a passion project from 16 of your fellow Lyme sufferers: The Lyme Art Book, “Infected/Inspired”

This has been a while in the making, as you can imagine it wasn’t easy when the people putting it together suffer from lack of energy and their own personal lists of symptoms they deal with. A great deal of praise and thanks to the project organizer Stina B. who diligently through her own struggles made this happen.

Now we need you! Without backers this still will not come into fruition.

All art and word art in this book has been created by Lyme sufferers, and proceeds go toward helping those who can’t afford treatment.

We thank you in advance for your support and participation ❣️

💚➡️ Lyme Art Book

For Those Who Judge Posting “Personal Problems”, And Why Some Put It All Out There….

Deep breath, here we go. This isn’t going to hit everyone the same way. We are as individual in how and what we communicate as our fingerprints, and that carries over into our perceptions of how and what others communicate as well.

Now I will start by saying this is not going to be a broad-spectrum discussion on various topics, because (obviously) there are things we should be private about (problems in a relationship with a partner, keeping a confidence, etc) but I will focus only on sharing/not sharing/over sharing as it relates to health and illness.

There is such a whirlwind of differing opinions when it comes to how open we (for purposes of this post I am referring to chronic illness sufferers) are with our struggles and symptoms and the emotional states we find ourselves in because of said struggles.

See prior posts: Judgment & Scrutiny Living With Chronic Illness

The Mighty: Why the Ill Post On Facebook

When You Are Put Down For Being Your Illness

The foundation for me as to why, is at its most basic stated in this quote and these verses:

“God never intended that we should suffer alone, that we should suffer for nothing. “~Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni’s Testimony Here about 50 yrs as a quadriplegic

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-6‬ ‭

We are given many examples in the Bible how we are to bare each other’s burdens, share in each other’s suffering, comfort and come alongside those who are sick, hurting, broken….

When did it become an “unchristian” thing to be honest about what you are going through? Or when did it start meaning you lacked faith if you were suffering? If that is true let’s start scrutinizing and judging King David, the Apostle Saul, and well just about every writer and prophet in the Bible! (To say nothing of the entire New Testament!).

What if Joni had never shared her story? Never written? Was never honest about her suffering, but instead had just put on a brave face? I can guarantee she would not have a ministry, not have touched millions, and worst of all not fulfilled God’s calling on her life and His plan and purpose in her trials.

Have you ever read a biography about someone overcoming great difficulty? Were you inspired how they suffered and what they went through and yet kept going?

What about how much you were inspired by a person’s biography where everything went great their whole lives; lots of money, great health, everything went right in their lives….won every race and accomplished every goal? Yeah. Me either.

No not everyone is called to share their dark moments of the soul, or all the ways their bodies betray them on a daily basis, and that’s ok. But don’t judge the ones who are. The ones who share with purpose…to try and get help. To try and help others. To spread awareness. To invoke change.

True you may be “too close” to the person who has suddenly become a verbal geyser of health talk to see clearly why they do what they do; because you know who they were before, and make your own judgments as to their motives.

And I don’t know the truth in every situation, because there certainly are attention seekers out there… What I do know is that the vocal ones are changing the world one person and one community at a time. I thank God for the ones who have, and still help me, who post and blog and share. I learn from them. I am encouraged by them. I love forward in my own journey because of them.

And I also thank God that I have also been able to help others.

None of which would have been possible had we stayed silent.

I am far from perfect, I have over the years been confronted with a lot of my own ugliness; both what has sprung forth from a sick brain, and what is just apart of my fallen self that has needed weeding. That said, I would like to think that with Christ’s help I am here for the right reasons, I refuse to waste my suffering, and I will not stop being open and raw and real as long as God has me in that place, no matter what stage I’m at. And if I’m healed I will not forget or close the door to those who come behind me, who need to read a blog about how they are not alone and that others have walked the path before them.

Trusting God In The Process

GONNA’ MAKE IT

“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where thieves do not break in or steal;”

Matthew 6:19-20 (abridged)

Make the goal.

Make the deadline.

Accomplish the task.

Make enough money.

Be a success.

Attain the stuff.

Endure/put up with/get through The trial or difficulty simply with the goal of having it be over so you can get back to doing all of the above.

In our humanity and our society we are very much goal oriented as far as how we consider success. But we are also very much that way when it comes to trials or difficulties; just get to the end and have it be over with! We see the entire “goal” of difficulty to have it be over.

This seems to be very much magnified in our modern Western society where we are driven by comfort, accomplishment, acknowledgement and success. These things are the alter at which we worship and pay tribute to with our very lives.

How opposite we are of God in our viewpoint due to our finiteness.

Because you see God is all about the process. Backwards thinking huh? Or as one of my best friends would say “upside down Kingdom”.

EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS

…we will stand amazed to see the topside of the tapestry and how God beautifully embroidered each circumstance into a pattern for our good and His glory.

Joni Eareckson Tada (quadriplegic for 50 years)

Anyone who has seen the hugely popular Stranger Things understands the concept of the “upside down”. A world in perfect mirror of ours only it is dark, decaying and full of monsters.

Of course in this Sci-Fi series the “good” world is our own natural one.

But in reality (not tv) we exist in the fallen world where there is death, evil, disasters and pain. It is hard to imagine the perfect Eden God created and what this world was meant to be. But having an awareness that Christ’s death ripped the veil and brought about the Kingdom age of the earth (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and direct access to heaven in prayer) can change our perspectives of being in defeat, to coming into awareness that victory has already been won.

The enemy’s number one goal at its heart is really about destroying our victory and awareness of who we are in Him.

Ahhh but spiritual warfare is a lengthy topic for another day….. (But hold onto that knowledge!).

Are you downtrodden and disappointed right now? In deep suffering and trial? Is it bringing you poverty, loneliness, oppression, discrimination? Are you low on wealth, love, employment, friends, family, health and comfort?

Those are all super important and the basics in life, and yet they are still things and count as treasures on earth.

No, it doesn’t seem fair and before you think I pass judgment, I am also poor and suffering in many of those same things and have been for years.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

ACCEPTING WHAT IS UNACCEPTABLE

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

Once we have an understanding and acceptance and even appreciation of God’s process (especially when it comes to our own situation) this doesn’t always mean that our attitudes or emotions at every given moment reflect this understanding.

Emotions fluctuate.

It took many years but I did finally come to not regretting years of illness and the loss of so much life to something that was out of my control.

I came to appreciate all that God had done in me and through me and continues to do. That said, in the years since that understanding I have not always been happy about it, or always appreciated or not reverted to regret.

I have to admit right now being in the season where negativity has been over- running any kind of positivity and I really don’t like myself very much right now.

I have experienced the ebbs and flows that go on in my body, my mind, my emotions and my spirit for so many years that I feel like I can never find level footing as far as where I am in my life, or my spirituality or my own personality. This can be incredibly frustrating especially when I am very much aware of it and how it is affecting myself and others.

As is usual during the more negative times I am quite aware that there is very much a physical component to my outlook comprised of how my internal organs are functioning, my hormones, my toxicity levels and many other factors. But that does not mean I am not responsible to take control to the best of my ability my relationship with God in these times and with others.

Whether I feel like it or not it is in these times that I should all the more dig my feet in as hard as I can into Jesus and into the Word to counterbalance the chaos and negativity inside my mind my body.

What happens when I act out of obedience and do just that? What you’re reading right now is a fruit of what happens. God opens up a channel and I’m able to do the best I can with his help to write for him.

SEEING INSTEAD OF LOOKING

We know that as long as we have breath in life that God is not finished with us. When he is “done” (for reasons that are wrapped in the mystery of his will), we go home. So while we have life whether we be in the midst of trials and difficulties or if we are blessed enough to have things easy; we should never stop seeking, growing, learning, exploring all the things that God has for us in our hearts and souls.

Because that’s why we are here right now, for those things in ourselves and in others.

We’ve Got stuff to do. And if we don’t know what that stuff is right now, at least we know Who to go to to ask.

Knowing God is the beginning of knowing His will and getting to understand what He is up to. Because when we are going through horrible trials we lose our comforts and the very things that (we think) bring us stability (such as money, a steady job, a loving relationship or our health). When we lose our foundations our world is rocked and we have nothing to stand on.

But I think that is the point. When we lose our false foundations we truly do know where we are spiritually, how much faith is real and how much we do or don’t trust God. That is why we are told to consider it all joy when we have trials, because we know we have God’s loving attention and He is looking to building the gold inside us by removing the costume jewelry we have surrounded ourselves with.

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

~Corie Ten Boom

If you have not read Corie Ten Boom’s story I highly recommend it. She survived a German concentration camp and witnessed the murder of her family as well as countless others.

“”Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Isaiah 48:10

CONCLUSION

We will all go through trials and difficulties. It’s not a maybe it’s a sure thing. The difference is how we choose to face them and Who we choose to face them with and what we allow Him to do in the midst.

One thing that is assured in Christ is that (hear this!) it’s not for nothing and it’s not pointless!!! Quite the opposite. Rather instead we have blessings that would have been unattainable otherwise. I don’t know about you but if I’m going to suffer I sure want to be looking for the treasure and not miss out. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it means I will continue to ebb and flow in this journey of life and go through the cycles of negativity only to bob my head free again and recognize the truths God keeps reminding me of and giving me a better understanding of as I work at running the race.