Patrick and I had a wonderful little getaway last month in celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary. By the way, he is very good at remembering anniversaries. This morning I woke up to a text that said, "Happy 1st kiss 24 years ago..." A romantic, that one!! I told Jason about the text and he asked how his dad could remember something that long ago. "Because it was electrifying," I told Jason. Jason gagged a little bit, and Patrick said, "Ya, it rocked my world."
Patrick still gives me butterflies all these years later. Here are some fluttering creatures from the Tropical Butterfly House at Seattle's Pacific Science Center to commemorate our Kissaversary.
Sometimes seasons are hard. It's just the way life goes. Thinking on things that are true, noble, right,
pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy takes a lot of extra effort during these days. Trying to be grateful feels exhausting... exhausting, but still necessary. I know that gratitude helps to change my focus, from one of misery, to one of counting my blessings. I also know that finding the humor in the midst of the crazy and the difficult can make the load a little lighter, too.
The last few weeks have been difficult, but they haven't killed me... not yet, anyway. I can be thankful for that, right? First, I'll dispense with the humor, and then I will do my best at being grateful. Don't say I didn't warn you how this would go down. Here we go...
I've had a fever every day for almost 2 months... and the chills and muscle weakness that go along with that. I have no idea why it's persisting, but this has happened on and off for about 4 years now. If I were 50, I'd think maybe it was menopausal hot flashes, but alas, I am a mere 42, and my equipment is still fully functioning. I guess I'm just too hot for my own good... I'm kidding. Well, my husband has called me a hot mama, so maybe. Yes, I'm definitely way too hot for my own good. What can I do? I got an ultrasound on my thyroid. There is a little nodule that I'm going to have to keep a watch on, in case he wants to mutate into the "C" word. That little 5mm sucker! For Pete's sake, who told him he could set up shop it my throat? I think I should charge him rent for that. Rent and utilities and a monthly HOA fee. He could at least buy me a new pair of black pumps. Size 8, please. I should also charge rent for his twin cousins, Tom and Dom, a couple weird nodules or ganglion (ya, I've never heard that word either) cysts on my left hand. (Don't let the rhyming names fool you, they are fraternal twins, and Dom is half Italian.) My pinkie finger won't straighten out any more (thanks, Dom). I'll be seeing a rheumatologist in the near future for those little squatters. Maybe we'll even find a secondary autoimmune disease to add to the pot. I had my blood drawn yesterday to see about that. The phlebotomist poked around in my one good vein no less than four times. I finally cringed and groaned, and she called me a "trooper." I almost called her a... oh, never mind. Furthermore, there have been 2 mammograms and an ultrasound on my delicate chest area in the past two weeks. First, let me just say I HATE mammograms, and yes I meant to shout that, and no, I'm not exaggerating. Next, I will be following up these lovely breast procedures with a biopsy due to something "abnormal" growing in my highly sensitive, delicate chest area, duct. Please, somebody hold my hand. I'm not even kidding. I got queasy and almost threw up on the ultrasound technician while he was checking out my personal region, and now he wants me to voluntarily come back and stick a needle in it? Right. Don't worry, I will go back. I may have to be dragged and promised some very excellent European chocolates for my efforts, though. That and hearing the word benign at the end of it all would be perfect. Could that just happen??? Please? Thanks in advance. This party is just getting started, people. You thought it couldn't get any more lively, didn't you? Well, I've been doing some neurological therapy for being insane in my membrane. I get to watch movies while I have wires and electrodes attached to my ears and my scalp. Did you know you can actually map out your brain and see just how crazy your neurons and various lobes, cortices, and hippocampus actually are? It was validating, people. Val.i.da.ting. In order to continue with these therapies, I have to wean myself off one of the meds I have become extremely fond of... not like I was abusing them or anything, at only a small dose per night, but it was my sleeping crutch, and it allows me to sleep in the same bed as my husband without my PTSD stuff going berserk. It was good for the health of my marriage, ok? Do you know what happens when you wean yourself and put the bottle back in the medicine cabinet?? Withdrawals happen, you all everybody!! (And yes, that was a LOST reference, and I know exactly how Charlie was feeling.) Try massive headaches, an inability to logically formulate thoughts, shaking from the inside out, could I get any more tired?, it's 4am and I'm still awake, are my muscles turning to Jell-O?, please don't talk... it's too much noise, my heart should not be beating quite like that, nausea... more nausea, everything bothers me, why can't I think, and whoever took my brain, please return it, no questions asked!!! Couple that with some PMS, and I know you really want to be my husband just about now. He tries to assure me that the couch is comfortable. Sorry, hon. I've been fully weaned since Sunday, and I am so proud. Almost as proud as when I weaned my boys at 21 months and 2 1/2+ years respectively. Yes, I was that mom, and you can feel free to withhold judgment. Or you can judge. Ya, go ahead and judge me. Bring it! I'm ready to go. Let's do this! Anyway, the withdrawals are calming down bit by bit. Do I at least sound partially coherent? Feel free to lie to me if you don't think so. I don't think that lying in this case would be considered a sin... especially if I'm giving you permission. You can call it encouragement if it makes you feel better. In the meantime, I will let the neurological treatments commence to begin again. And finally, just in case you were wondering, I still have man arms. I also have a fuller beard with my current plucking rate at about 130+ hairs. I changed my doctor, because I just know the first doctor that was messing with my hormones must have secretly wanted me to morph or something. The signs were all there. In all seriousness, that doctor helped with a lot of things... hormones were just not one of them. I had to bail, dude! See, I am turning into a man!! To be upfront and real about the last few weeks, there have been some very ugly cries. One day, my eyes were close to being swelled shut. Have you ever had a cry quite that ugly? I had to view the world out of little slits. Everywhere I went, people asked if I was feeling ok, and I told them, "No, I'm not feeling well at all." Just back away, and then run, I'll understand.
Through it all, there is a little bit of gratitude percolating within my weird body and mind. Not a whole lot, but I have to start somewhere, don't I? I'm definitely trying, which isn't always the case, if I'm honest. I'm trying to be thankful about all the little things. A medical bill comes and it's only $15... very thankful. I was able to get to sleep before midnight last night... that's progress! Go sleep!! I can laugh at a Jimmy Fallon bit... ah, getting the old funny bone back. That's good. The washing machine is broken... no more laundry this week, right?? Yes! I'm feeling coherent enough to drive today. Yay, me!! And you can consider this your official road warning. I drive a blue van and sometimes a silver Mustang (I need to write about that car, so she doesn't get jealous of my sweet mini-van's awesomeness).
And then there are the profoundly thankful moments.
They do come.
The moments when I feel God is giving me a portion of peace and hope to get me through the day. The moments when I feel joy in the midst of the difficult and painful. The moments when I remember that Jesus knew suffering, too, but He and I also have a life beyond this one. I am thankful for the earthly grace I am given, too. For friends and family who have blessed me with their encouraging words, prayers, and their willingness to be patient and understanding. For my dad's willingness to drive me to the diagnostic center and sit with me so I don't have to be alone. For the countless times my husband has prayed over me and hugged me through the tears and frustration, made me some tea, and brought me home some extremely delicious Mediterranean food from Jaffa. He never gives up on me, although I'm sure it's been tempting. For all the conversations I've had with my mom. I know she is praying all the time, and I don't think she is going to let me give up either. I am also so thankful for all the compassion God has grown in my sons. The other day, Josh sat next to me, put his arm around me, and asked if he could pray for me. By the end of his sweet prayers, he was in tears and told me how hard it is to see his mom crying (especially the ugly cry that I couldn't hold in that day). And then there is Jason, the little healer, that surrounds me with his arms and embraces me with his waist-high hugs and doesn't let go.
Indeed, I am thankful for Jesus and the hope of heaven,
friends and family that make the good days sweeter and the bad days bearable.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
My husband has had a calm and a peace wash over him in the past year. At times, I can literally see it in his eyes and on his countenance. On a average day, he is good-natured and works well with people, whether it is in his workplace or in our home. His buttons aren't pushed too easily, and he handles stress much better than most, including myself. He also laughs readily and connects with people on a warm and personal level. Some might see him as being "laid back," however, he is also filled with an abundance of intentionality and purpose in what he does, and a love for the people in his life.
This next level of calm and peace that has been manifesting itself in the last year has been interesting and fascinating to watch. It is heavily rooted in the idea of focusing on the truth.
There have been incidents in the last few months that have been very bothersome to me. We were accused of plotting against people and of being disrespectful and dishonorable. This wasn't a new situation with the particular people involved, in fact, the waters have been very rough in the past. It is, however, hurtful, and it weighs on my heart. When something like this happens, it is so easy to allow emotions to reign, and to react, rather than to lovingly and patiently respond to the charges.
Over the months, as we have had a number of discussions about this situation, Patrick has been willing to respond with truth, again and again. Each time, he reminds me, afresh, of the truth. The truth about the events which took place, the words which were spoken, and the motives of our hearts. He gently reminds me of what actually happened, and to what and to whom we are responsible.
Truth be told, I have developed a very bad habit in regard to conflict within relationships. When something difficult happens or hurtful words are spoken, I almost always do one of two things. Initially, searching my heart, I look to discover any way in which I have acted poorly, because I truly want to apologize if I have offended or hurt someone. Owning up to the truth, and making amends is so important to me, and I want to have God's heart in this. If I can't come to a conclusion as to what I have done wrong, I try a secondary approach in which I tend to fabricate a new truth. Trying to come up with ways I must be at fault, I try and think of how I can somehow place guilt and blame upon myself, so that I can reconcile with the people involved.
The problem with my second approach is that life cannot be based upon a lie. If I allow myself to be the "bad guy" or the "scapegoat" for the sake of peace and reconciliation, I am living a fabrication and a very unhealthy one at that. I am not walking a road of peace with a sound mind, but a treacherous journey, saddled with guilt and discord. It is a pathway of darkness which yearns to see light.
Patrick has been that light in my path, the one who hands me the lenses of truth, so that I can see clearly.
Who are you in Christ?
How does Jesus see you?
Did you or I really say those things?
Did you or I plot against people?
Are you acting disrespectfully or dishonorably in this situation?
Was your heart full of malice?
What were the true intentions of your heart?
Were those intentions good?
What was the other party's responsibility in this situation?
Are you going to take the blame for something you didn't do?
Have we honestly addressed the problems?
Have we been truthful and gracious in our responses?
Have we asked and been willing to seek professional counsel to help all those involved,
You need to live from a place of truth, Linda.
I have always known that truth found in God's word needs to guide my life. Oddly enough, I am just now coming to the profound realization that the truths found in the reality of the actual details of a situation are very important, as well. How can I apply God's truth to my life if I am believing or accepting lies about myself, my thoughts, and my actions?
This year, I'm letting go of the obligations of carrying burdens of guilt which don't belong to me. I choose not to let that record play over and over in my head another day more. I'm giving those burdens over to God and allowing Him to do the work He wants to do. While I would like to have peace in all my relationships, whether or not these relationships are reconciled this side of heaven can no longer be a pressing and stifling preoccupation.
Knowing I have done what I can towards peace, I have to remember that now...
it will happen in God's time,
for His purposes,
and to His glory.
And not a moment sooner.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
By the strength of God, I am ready to walk in truth, grace, and freedom.
Standing in the foyer that sunny, January afternoon, my arm wrapped around my father's, I felt giddy and nervous, full of joy and anticipation, all at once. My father had had bypass surgery just a few weeks prior, and although his heart was racing, he was love and strength beside me, so handsome and tall in his black tuxedo and dapper, white mustache.
Lovely bridesmaids, in emerald gowns, preceded me down the long, ribboned isle. After a pause, the double doors were swung open, and the bridal march began to play. Family and friends arose from their seats and turned to gaze at a twenty-two year old bride, adorned in a white gown with a sequined bodice and puffed sleeves. My gaze, however, was fixed upon the fetching groom with raven hair, all dressed up in tails and a bow tie, with tears welling up in his eyes and spilling down his cheeks.
Promising our love and devotion to one another came easily, with no question or doubt to sully our affection and commitment. God had brought us together, and He would bind us together as husband and wife, as we voiced our desire to travel life's journey together...
through sickness and health,
for richer or poorer,
in good times and in bad.
In hindsight, the past twenty years have proved our vows to be lasting and resolute. God took two rather different people and taught us how to complement one another, support one another, celebrate one another, and most importantly how to love and respect one another. Together we have reached milestones, laughing along the way, as we have stored up memories and treasured our days together. We have had many portions of life's difficulties as well, experiencing illnesses and brokenness, lean times, losses, and just the downright ugly parts of life. Those times have served as refiners, testing the tenacity of our bond and weaving us ever so tightly together in body, mind, and spirit.
I am so grateful that
I chose Patrick on this day, twenty years ago,
and that he chose me in return.
I am thankful for all that he is and all that he is becoming, more each day...