Further Down The Road

Hello to my invisible and chronic illness community, it has been a long time since my last blog post. It seems that there are fewer needs for words when suffering eases up. There is something about deep physical and emotional suffering that brings forth an outpouring of the agony of a soul, to be spilled upon the page.

My greatest inspirations for writing in my blog have always come from a deep place of suffering, and from that place a longing to be heard and to help others, as well as seek a higher purpose and find a calling in my words. It seems that this fact in and of itself shines a great light on the purpose of pain, and the reason for “senseless” trials and tribulations in this life. I know I’ve touched on the subject before, but how often do we relate to the story of another who has walked in our shoes and suffered the same as we have, in a way we could never relate to the kind words and comfort of someone who has no idea what we are experiencing? We are touched by those who overcome and find peace and joy not when suffering ends, but in the midst of it and despite of it.

This week I finished a short five day devotional called Finding God Faithful. It focused on the story of Joseph; we know the story so well, I feel to the point of not actually experiencing it anymore. Much like the mindlessness of repeating a memorized verse or song, that has lost any spark of meaning due to it’s familiarity. And yet, I found a new message in the story of Joseph that I feel relates specifically to not only God’s relentless and unending faithfulness to us, but how we experience Him in trials and suffering.

Part of the verse that was emphasized in this short devotional (that was repeated in several places) was “God was with Joseph”.

So simple, and yet so profound. Because did God initially show up and rescue Joseph from the pit or being sold into slavery? Did God for many many years rescue Joseph from prison or change his circumstance? No he didn’t, at least not for a long time. So where was Joseph’s comfort? How was God with Joseph this whole time? And on the flipside, how was Joseph unwavering in his faith? It certainly was not in seeing God change his circumstances, or end his suffering. The answer is in abiding in him, and holding fast not onto how God would work, but onto the person and character of God himself and having unshakable faith in a faithful and unchanging God.

It is easy to think we have faith in God when in fact without always realizing it, often we fall into having faith in how we want Him to work, what we think He will do, how we believe He will make us feel, how He will change someone….

When our faith is placed in the “what, when, where and how”, this is where we are sometimes disappointed, and our faith is shaken.

When our faith however truly rests in the “Who”, we shall never be disappointed; for our focus is on the unchanging character and nature of God and His promises to us, that are not always about our comfort, but about our good and His glory.

“”Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

Isaiah 49:15-16

“and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:27-28

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

John 10:27-29

(Also see the entire chapter Psalm 139).

To those with chronic illness that betrays them on a daily basis in their physical bodies and even in their minds and emotions; I know the agony of hopelessness, I know the pain and despair of seeing no end to suffering. Some of us will get well. Some of us will receive partial healing. Some of us will see the path of suffering go on to the horizon with no end in sight. We do not always know the answers, sometimes God is gracious to show us the reasons in this life, like he did to Joseph. And for some of us the answers may not come. It is here that our faith rests that God is relentlessly intentional to us, and the promise we rest on is that everything works together for our good and his glory. Disappointment comes when that good and glory doesn’t look the way we think it will look or want it to look.

I am in a season where so much has changed for the better, yes there are still struggles with chronic symptoms including unexplainable fatigue that hits me from time to time, seasons of brain fog, the relentlessness of inflammation and autoimmune reactivity…. But I am grateful that the last couple years has brought me to a place of peace with where I am in my life and with the Lord.

I am in another season of a faith journey which is stretching me, but which I face with equal appreciation as I do struggle.

The reason being is that there is a very sweet spot that you find with the Lord and a reliance on him during times that your faith is being stretched, that you cannot experience in any other way. Right now I find myself in a beautiful place of abiding, in a place of praying without ceasing; which is less about actual prayer than it is a constant commune with the Lord and an acknowledgment of Him in every thought I think, everything I do, in every waking moment of the day where He is my director, my comforter, my shield, my guide, my peace.

In the past I have given over more years than I can count to darkness and being in a place of mourning over things lost, and suffering that robbed me of so much life. I told God recently that I have spent too much of my life in a dark hallway grieving over closed doors. It is with extreme gratitude that several years back I had a friend challenge me out of that place, that I was to give my grief as an offering to the Lord and let him exchange it for a different vision, and He was faithful to do so.

So today, I have less to say about the particulars of the symptoms and sufferings of chronic Lyme disease along with its coinfection’s and complications, and less about the emotional place of agony we find ourselves in chronic illness.

Today rather I try and speak from a different place in the journey, a place further up the road, which is more a spiritual place than a physical one. There’s still so much in life that has not yet happened for me, that I have not experienced, that I have not reclaimed from the lost years of the past… and yet, God is with me.

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)

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.

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.

How To Take A “Lyme” Bubble Bath

First let me start by saying I have always loved bubble paths. It is not only atmospheric and part of the whole bath experience but it is also rather comforting…..well, I’m just going to say it, not to have to look down at yourself the whole time you’re in the tub.
Okay, so now the challenges. As we know most bath and body products out there are full of bad stuff and most contain endotoxins at best (no time to get into all that here). But needless to say it’s not good for us and since 80% of our immune system is in our GI and anything we put on our skin bypasses our immune system and goes straight into our blood stream. Major problem for anyone but all the more for those of us suffering from Lyme and autoimmune diseases. Are we still talking about bubble baths you ask? Why yes we are and I am taking the long road to get to my point. All the commercial bubble bath stuff out there is full of sulfates, parabens, glycols and more. So I try and avoid them. Problem is I have also tried the all natural bubble bath stuff and found it to be quite wanting in the “abundance of bubbles” department. To add to this quandary I also like using some *essential oils in the bath water that would be beneficial to my health and Lyme, both in absorption and breathing them in, and oils kill bubbles…

But through trial and error I have found the perfect solution!
Because one day I had nothing else on hand I decided to try Mrs Meyers Clean Day soap in the bath and to my delight it creates great bubbles, every bit as good as bubble bath soap. But as for the oils messing with bubbles I discovered that it is a matter of timing. I start the bath by running the water and putting the Epsom salts and the soap in first right when I start running the water. Then I will get the tub about half full (at this time it should be full of generous bubbles) and put the drops of EOs under the running water. They will be in the water and under your bath bubbles leaving your suds in tact 👏

Bath RX:

2 Cups Epsom Salts
4 Generous pumps Mrs Meyers Clean Day (or other natural soap). Run water and stir at first to help dissolve salt, let suds form.
*Add several drops of preferred essential oil after bath is about half full.
Soak for 20-60 minutes.

Here are several good reads on Epsom Salts baths and essential oils for Lyme.

http://www.tiredoflyme.com/epsom-salt-bath.html#.VLHsniY76JJ

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/aromatherapy.php?t=1&x=924292&q=Lyme&submit=Search

http://www.lyme-treatment.com/2014/05/working-with-essential-oils.html?m=1

*please be careful and do your research before using essential oils topically. Some are “hot” oils and must be diluted before use and some can be skin irritants. Also realize that because oil and water don’t mix you will experience a concentration on the surface of the water.

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A Chance on a new LLMD, a Vacation and Hope

Well my sojourners it is time to share that I have been planning a little trip; Tomorrow I embark on a road trip to Coeur d’Alene Idaho to see a new LLMD to see if we can finally clear up the rest of this Lyme stuff, and/or biotoxic illness/chemical exposure/heavy metals….all of the afore mentioned, whatever…. We will see.

It is rather interesting because I have heard of Dr Smith several times over the last year and one of my dearest friends who has/had Lyme and was incredibly ill, went to see him in December (with several subsequent visits) and she is doing amazing! Basically she went from partially bed-ridden with heart issues and mild seizures to…….Normal! It is quite remarkable. Another man and mutually acquaintance of both of ours also saw this doctor and is doing well. And now just 10 days ago one of my family members who has been having unexplained health issues for years went to see this doctor and was diagnosed and started treatment for Lyme (she previously had a negative Western Blot). So she has begun a journey to healing.

It took me a long time to make the decision to see this doctor, partly because I have immense faith in my current LLMD here in Seattle, and partially because any treatment for Lyme that does not take at least 2-4 years not only seems too good to be true, but also goes against all the evidence and research regarding chronic Lyme. So when something seems too good to be true and yet you see results right before your eyes you must adjust your thinking and open your mind to new possibilities.

But isn’t it always this way with any kind of medical breakthrough? The Western Medicine we have all been raised on is so filled with falsehoods, with a philosophy of “don’t cure it just throw a dangerous drug at it”, and yet we do not question “the truth” until we see evidence otherwise. After all, almost every Western Medical doctor would tell you that Chronic Lyme is not even real and yet the science and proof is right there for anyone to find.

I do want to say that I still believe I have a great LLMD here and he has done remarkable work with both my sister and I, we are so much better than we were two years ago. He continues to help Lyme patients here and even from other states and overseas. But I want FULL health and to attain that 25% or so of me that is missing, the pieces that are always too tired, in pain, swollen and inflamed, the piece of my mind I know is still hiding from me…. If there is hope that full health and life is within my grasp I will chase it down.
I’ll let you know how it goes.

Dr Tony Smith Lyme Stop

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Top 10 Things Commonly Missed When Treating Lyme (Why Am I Not Getting Better??!?!?)

First let me initially say that I have AMAZING doctors who know their profession and the treating of Lyme and co-infections very well. They have addressed all the applicable items below with me, but I know first hand how some of these conditions can completely block your healing process. #6 was my biggest hurdle and I did not start feeling better until this got resolved because of this test: http://www.gdx.net/product/10038

It also identified the places where my body genetically had trouble getting rid of toxins

 

10 Things That Can Block Your Healing:

http://monamorphosis.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/top-10-things-commonly-missed-when.html

I am asking for your help, yes you!

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In a little less than 3 hours we begin the month of May, which is also Lyme disease awareness month. Will you please help me in sharing/reading/liking this post, and others to come?

I have only been specifically blogging about Lyme for a matter of weeks, but so many of you know about the years of undiagnosed suffering, and how completely debilitating this much  misunderstood disease can be. I am also finding SO many other people on this same site writing about their battles with Lyme, and the suffering they are experiencing.

During this month as I post specifically about certain symptoms, FAQ’s, scientific facts and other information, I will ask if you if you are so inclined to shout out to me….re-post….whatever you feel is appropriate. And for those precious people I have known over the years that think I disappeared off the face of the earth, I am sorry…because you are right, I think I did. Maybe this will help in understanding why.

Love,

Jennifer