Seeking small graces

My health finally stabilized. And after a long recovery from hip repair surgery in November, I was walking further with my dog and playing with my grand-kids. Then something painful “popped” in my hip, and I’ve spent the last months in varying degrees of pain — walking, sitting or standing. For weeks I’ve battled an infection that made me a semi-invalid last year. My body clearly wasn’t up to the fight and I’ve had to start antibiotics. (Not simple, since I’m allergic to way too many, as well as still trying to heal my gut from last year’s antibiotic siege.) I’ve worked hard to get healthy and whole, free to engage with others, join in the lives of my family, return to teaching Bible classes, finish editing my books and complete another, to live a vibrant, meaningful life. As things seemed to be spinning out again, I’ve wondered, even prayed, “What am I doing wrong?”

If God would just tell me, I’d do it!

There must be a key.

Is there something important I’m not doing? Leaving out?

Every time this song, Thy Will by Hillary Scott, comes on the radio, my mind and emotions downshift.

When I’m working so hard to do it right, am I actually exhibiting lack of faith? After all, it’s not all about me, and I’m not God.

It’s hard to find a balance between accepting life as it comes from the hand of God, and fighting the good fight as we are called to do.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I Timothy 6:12

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. Exodus 14:14 AMPC

How do you thread that needle?

All I can do is recall what I know is true.

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jr
https://www.bible.com/bible/97/psa.56

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jrhttps://www.bible.com/bible/97/jas.1

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.                                               Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG

photo by Jack H Thompson Jr

photo by Jack H Thompson Jr https://www.bible.com/bible/97/pro.19

In place of the questions, I begin a new search.

Seeking small graces.

Focusing.

Naming what comes into my life today as a gift.

Trusting the giver.

Trusting the hands that gave them.

And, in the end, remembering this life is brief.

And there’s more to each day than we can ever see or understand.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Cor 4:16-18 MSG

That is enough.

You may be facing far greater challenges now, or will in the future.
Do you struggle with chronic pain or illness or disappointment? How do you handle it, react to it?

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For the Hurting, Fresh Air

Pain arrives on our doorstep, pain we cannot control, no matter how hard we wish, try, or work. I’ve heard from many in the last couple of weeks who are hurting, some from physical ailments or limitations, some from the sickness or deterioration of a loved one, some from unloving and selfish acts on the part of someone close, or who should be close. Some from their own weaknesses or errors. The good news is, there is hope. There is one who loves us, who knows what it is to be betrayed, hurt, in pain and anguish, even to death.

bird in morning light by Jack H Thompson, Jr

Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;

be alert for signs of his presence. 

Remember the world of wonders he has made,

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jr

God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day

and a fire to light their way through the night;

He opened the rock and water poured out;

it flowed like a river through that desertPsalm 105: 5,40-41 MSG

waterfall in Africa by T.L. Bollier

Would you believe that thousands of years ago a prophet predicted what God would do for us in times like these?

Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole.Through his bruises we get healed.

We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.

We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 

Is 53:1a-2-6 MSG 

sheep near Otavalo, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, Jr
sheep in Ecuador

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!   

God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I Peter 3-5 MSG

Cross on dunes on Pensacola Beach
Pensacola Beach
flower in Maui by Jack H Thompson, Jr
flower in Maui

water birds in Isabella, Galapagos by Jack H Thompson, Jr

birds in Isabella, Galapagos Islands

God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, But their silence fills the earth:unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome for the sun—a superdome!

The morning sun’s a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed, The daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape.

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,

Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.

Ps 19:1-9 MSG

sunrise in the Abacos, Bahamas, by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Sunrise in the Abacos, Bahamas
Morning light, Santiago, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Morning light, Santiago
sunrise by Jack H Thompson, Jr
sunrise
Sunset in Bartholomew, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Sunset in Bartholomew, Galapagos
View of snow-topped volcano from Quito, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, JR
View of snow-topped volcano from Quito, Ecuador
blossom in the dew by Jack H Thompson, Jr
blossom in the dew

Have you felt your life being pulled together?

My perfect storm came slowly

If a picture really is worth a thousand words, this would be a very short post. I thought some of you might be wondering where I’ve been, and why I’ve missed a week here and there.me with mask

The story is way longer than I can tell, and probably more than I know, or you want to hear, but the gist is deteriorating health for the past year. The Perfect Storm for my immune system.

My mother’s last year of life, her final week and her death, along with the months it took to settle her affairs took a deeper toll than I was aware of at the time.

Grief can be cruel to the body.

Another piece was the accumulated effect of years of pushing myself, going beyond tired, because, “It needs to be done,” and “I’ll rest when things get back to normal.”

I haven’t found Normal on the map.

Have you?

The final piece crept up on me as well. I have no idea how long it has lingered in the background, making it harder and harder to push on, giving me days of brain fog and lethargy, days when I chastised myself for being lazy, or worried about getting too introverted when I couldn’t get myself out to the grocery store,

Or too old.

Over the hill.

Spent.

I was sick most of the time I was in Switzerland with MD, went downhill from there, spent Christmas day in bed, and never really recovered.

That began rounds of antibiotics for one infection after another –all lab verified—until the bacteria grew resistant or I developed allergies, and ended up at infectious diseases receiving a week of IV antibiotics.

(Now I have tremendous sympathy for those who undergo chemo. I was freezing all the time. My hair gained lots of grey and fell out in the shower. I was too nauseous to eat, and barely able to drive there and back every day. Period. Nothing else. At all.)

After all the antibiotics, I was diagnosed with a massive yeast infection. (With no energy, I hadn’t shopped or cooked much, so we ate more processed food, snacked on more carbs – pretty much feed the yeast at ever increasing levels as my health deteriorated.)

It took replacing a smelly carpet in the kid’s guestroom to lead us to the larger picture.

Mold.

Not realizing, still, how much it was effecting me, I worked on the remedy one room at a time, as I had the energy to box things up and clear them out for the carpet layers.

They found mold in the walls. The sheet rock needed replacing. Then painting. Then unpacking . . .

Months later, on a severely restricted diet of mostly meat, fish or poultry and green vegetables, probiotics, and an antifungal twice a day, most days I was functioning well for a few hours.

I finally had enough energy to focus on the main living area, where we’d had a beautiful oak engineered wood floor laid several years back. It had begun to show black streaks, in the grain, growing bigger and more pronounced. In a few heavily trafficked areas it actually came to the surface and broke up the wood.

A team of water detectives had told us the water table was too high for our sunken floor, so I researched alternatives and landed on a special coating for the concrete, and porcelain tile.

I scheduled the new tile floor, then started boxing up the living and office areas, which meant sorting and boxing a lot of books!
stacks from office

office stacksboxes of books from office

It was so hard to part with my Writer’s Digest and The Writer magazines from many years back. But who was I kidding? If I hadn’t read them or re-referenced them by now, when would I?

A few days before the work was to begin I had the large Persian rug picked up for cleaning, and we rolled up the thick felt pad.

My good hours quickly diminished to hardly being able to get out of bed.

It was only in retrospect that I realized that by clearing out the living room, we’d allowed more mold spores into the air.

Advised to stay out of the house while the flooring was replaced, I packed my things and gathered food and toys for the dogs, who were going with me to YD’s. I stayed there two extra days, giving time for things to settle, for my husband to replace the A/C filters, and the construction dust to be cleaned.

The day I returned, I’d only been in the house an hour when I headed to bed. Too much moldy dust remained in less obvious places. My oldest daughter took me to her place, to a bedroom with an air filter and lots of TLC.

I was only able return to the house by wearing a face mask approved for mold.

For days I have cleaned like crazy (with disposable masks and gloves) and collapsed into bed (after a thorough shower). The painters finished yesterday. painters at work
So, that’s where I am now. mask 2
Today I had the house open all day, airing out the paint fumes I’ve grown so sensitive to.

The last few hours I have been able to go without the mask. Pure relief!

But then, I’m out back on the screened lanai writing on my laptop. (I don’t even know where my desktop tower is, though I found the box with my keyboard today.)
dogs on lanai by laptop
Tomorrow or the next, the tiler will finish the tile baseboards and help us move the rest of the furniture back in place.
floor
Of course, with a new floor and fresh paint (with a bold accent color) it is begging for serious decorating and far more aggressive thinning than I was able to do when boxing everything up.

The good news is, I’m so tired of having to deal with all the stuff that I’m feeling much less frugal or sentimental about hanging on to everything. I’m too tired for so much stuff.

And it’s been over a year since my mother died, so I’m ready to let go of many of the memories, and the little pieces of paper with her handwriting.

Time to purge.

Hopefully, I will soon have a clean, fresh, much leaner and mold free environment.

And my strength will come back so I can walk the dogs in the Celery Fields,

enjoy mornings once again,

and have the energy to sail with my husband.

And have a clear mind to write.

I’ve missed you.

Sooner or later, we are all bound to have them. What are the storms in your life?