Broken. Beloved. Redeemed. Blameless.
Embracing Cruciform Living.
We're all on a journey, although our paths can look very different from one another. Even spouses, families and friends can be traveling together on the same path, but have very different life experiences and outcomes, as each person travels through this life. We are all uniquely created.
We've all have stories. Some people are very happy, joyous and always smiling - life couldn't be better - while others are very sad, troubled and downcast; maybe even angry or violent. And, we've all experienced loss, pain, trauma, and wounds in this life. We receive bad news, a difficult health diagnosis, dreams that don't come true... Sometimes friends leave our lives for various reasons, sometimes we feel adrift in the "sea of life," and sometimes we wonder if this life will ever get any better. We get worn down, discouraged, defeated and, sometimes, we just want to give up... Life can be a daily battle.
Sometimes, we have to fight our way into a better frame of mind to find a healing path to walk ~ despite health challenges, job loss, difficult relationships, and the broken dreams that we are facing... The first step is a new perspective; renewing our minds. My faith is my rock. I honestly don't know what I'd do with my ever-loving Father, my Savior Jesus and the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. In addition to my faith, there are people who have helped impact and re-shape my "view:" Ann Voskamp and One Thousand Gifts - living in eucharisteo and now, combined with cruciform living in The Broken Way. Powerful honest, raw faith shared that impacts each of us in this hurting and broken world to open ourselves to receive His healing and restorative power. Ted Dekker's The Forgotten Way, which will blow up your faith as you've known it; enabling you to grow like never before. And, Rachelle Dekker, in her first trilogy series: The Choosing, The Calling and The Returning ~ shared with all her readers how she masterfully weaves together her stories that draw you in and cause your faith to grow in unexpected ways; to see the world around you with a new perspective. All together, these authors who love Jesus, are sharing that we must REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. We are chosen by God, His children, His heirs; here to share His love through our lives with people all around us. And He is constantly reminding us that He is ALWAYS with us; every day and in every circumstance. Yes, despite what is happening around us.
For me....life has been challenging for a really long time, but more so over the past few years:
- 2009-2011 ~ a tough time for our family; relationships strained and lots of emotional stress. We are working, ongoing, to restore and strengthen family relationships.
- 2012 ~ while refinancing our home in Burien, we discovered the foundation of the house was compromised, there was an underground environmental issue affecting the property, and while we could pay the mortgage, the extensive repair work would be financially devastating ~ and others advised against it. We aren't risk takers and weren't willing to invest our retirement money for the repairs, so we let our house go back to the bank and in 2013, we had to walk away from our community, our neighbors and the urban farm we loved... It was devastating and we still haven't recovered from the loss of community nor our large garden/chickens.
- During this time, one of my autoimmune diseases (that I didn't know was an autoimmune disease for I would have taken a totally different path) was flared/active...took 4 years before I sought treatment again - and I'm still dealing with it.
- 2013-14 ~ rented a house in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood. Great location, but alot of mold and dampness in the house. Didn't help my health any...
- 2014-present ~ decided to try and follow our dream to have our own little farm: permaculture based, raising organic food for ourselves and maybe a little to sell to others, chickens.... We rented a house on 1.5 acres of a 25 acre hay farm. Great location, fertile soil, amazing garden the first year (all squashes, as a local farmer said it would help break up the compacted soil and created air pathways - yes!) But, things didn't work out after the first season and the price of land in King County has risen plus (because of my health challenges), my body doesn't have the strength to garden and do the physical work that it once did. Broken dreams. At least for now... Maybe forever?
- 2015-2106 ~ my Dad becomes very ill and passes away, October 30, 2015; followed by our sweet and dear Coco dog February 22, 2016. Dad's Celebration of Life is August 2016 and my body struggles through grief, planning and changes the whole year and just feels really worn down.
- 2016 ~ can't imagine life without sharing it with a dog, so we look for a new puppy: first attempt: dishonest shelter manager and a dog that Blaine can't handle her personality. second attempt: matched with the wrong puppy through a breeder - our second terrible experience, although he did bless us during a difficult time while he was here with us; rehomed to the right environment for him. I have such a difficult time trusting people and neither of these people helped on that path....
- 2016-2017 ~ discover that a long time chronic illness is autoimmune in nature, which changes everything! Begin an autoimmune elimination diet January 1, 2017 and then, as we search for more answers, discover I have "re-activated" Epstein Barr Virus... Peeling the onion layers regarding my chronic health issues. Most tests to come. Naturopath reminds me it's a marathon and not a sprint. It's going to take time to rebuild my health.
- 2017 ~ decide I am no longer going to be imprisoned by FEAR in my life; lifelong battle. Taking steps of faith to overcome. Find an amazing book: Fear Fighting
- 2017 ~ Our daughter graduates from Wichita State University in May, so we've been planning a 3 week road trip (because I'm unable to fly) to the midwest to spend time celebrating with her, and her husband, and then on to Indiana to spend some time with our oldest son. With my health issues in the forefront of our lives right now, we realize we'd have to find a motorhome to rent and juggle driving and making meals each day. And, the stress of the trip may be too much for my body. We make a decision that it would be best for me to remain home and it will become a "boys trip," having my husband and youngest son fly back for a 10 day trip. I am truly excited for them, but sad that I must remain behind...
- 2017 ~ begin a new search for a new puppy and find a wonderful, joyous litter of Golden Retriever puppies and secure the #2 pick of the females...only to discover that medical insurance is covering less and we're having to pay out more for my health needs. A decision is made to withdraw from the litter and receive our deposit back; Blaine feeling that it's not the right time for a new dog for us. Then....going to my naturopath yesterday and talking about how I'm doing right now and her telling me that she wouldn't have had me give up the puppy, as she would be positive mental health support and that the additional therapies could wait for now. She said that perhaps we could start a new puppy search.... I'm devastated and heartbroken. And, in talking to Blaine, he says that now is not the right time for a new dog in our lives.
- 2017 ~ we've felt a stirring to possibly move back up toward the city; near Blaine's job in Renton. The housing market is crazy throughout the Puget Sound region and the rent prices are truly unbelievable. We found a reasonable priced house and applied for it. The owner chose us and we just had to go through the credit/background process (and we truly had no worries), but received a call that we were disqualified because we'd had a loan default on our home in 2012. So many people in the rental market, no opportunity to explain the extenuating circumstances and no opportunities to secure rental housing in the city right now.... That said, I am in a constant "tug-o-war" between returning to the city and remaining in a rural area. It is beautiful where we currently live and we are so thankful to be living here - and plan to stay for a while now - but this just felt like "one more blow" to us. Judged and convicted; no trial. Wow.
- healing emotional traumas from my past plus my physical body and learning to live a healthy life with chronic illness/autoimmune disease "I will restore you to health and heal your wounds." Jeremiah 30:17
- Finding rest in Him ~ "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
- walking through broken dreams and big disappointments with hope for better things ahead "Blessed is the man that perseveres under trial, for once he has been approved (or passed the test), he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12
- Spending quality time with my Father, who enables me to remember who I am and will enable my Light within to grow and shine ever brighter; knowing He is able to HEAL me completely in the blink of an eye. "....who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching." Luke 10:39 ESV
- Spending more time in His Creation, for nature is so healing in my life. "The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands." Psalm 19:1
- Trusting that He knows exactly what I need and He will provide in His timing. He is able, more than able. "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
- Finding a church community; engaging in the area where we are planted at this time. Thankful for online streaming of a local church we attended previously, but we all need people in our lives. "and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB
And remembering again and again:
"No disciple seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Just being real and sharing where I'm really at. I don't share for others to feel bad for me/us or seeking sympathy or whatever... I share, because we're all going through stuff - grief, loss, struggles of one kind or another or many struggles. We need to be real. Some people feel like they belong - they have community, friends, neighbors and lots of people feel alone, lonely, isolated; in need of support. Some people are hopeful and others are downtrodden. I, myself, have had a really tough time lately. And, not getting a puppy was a major blow to me. The purpose I used to have in my life "appears" to be gone - growing food; working in our garden. The children are grown. Blaine's work project is high stress and super time consuming (even many weekends). We don't currently have a local church community, as my body does not do well with strong bass and loud music (which seems to be pretty common in the evangelical church these days - just an observation and not a judgement) and my chemical sensitivities make it challenging to be around people wearing perfume or those who use scented laundry soap. I spend about 90 minutes a day using a Shiatsu massager on my neck, back and legs to keep good muscle circulation happening ~ and because our insurance has blocked me for life from massage, unless I'm in a traumatic accident, so massage is always "out-of-pocket" expense for us. But then ~ good news: I'm excited about a new exercise program: Get Autoimmune Strong for anyone really, who has difficulty with "regular" exercise. It's a new online program and it sounds like a great fit for me and a reasonable price point too.
Last fall, I found this metal tag at a local Christian bookstore. I felt like it was a love note from my Father God to me. I look at it every day, as it sits on our kitchen table with my prayer candle. It still is a love note, but I am, humanly, struggling to understand it. I am reminding myself many times throughout the day REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE (as we so quickly and easily forget) and to look for the 'gifts' in each day ~ the little song birds who have been visiting, finding early spring flowers at the store, protection of our home in the midst of a strong wind storm, organic and nutrient dense food for our meals, a smile on a stranger's face, opportunities to pray for others, and much more....even as I deal with a broken heart.
I am also reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
And, I realize that in allowing sadness, challenging health news, and disappointment to overwhelm me, I have forgotten who I am and ALL that He is able to do in and through my life. God understands my human weakness and is patient when I am overcome with emotional grief and disappointment. In the midst of it, I am once again, encouraged. I remember who I am. I am His! And, He shows me how much He loves me and that I am loved by others too. God is good. All the time.
May our truly amazing and wonderful Lord bless you with provision, healing, hope and joy ~ in whatever way you are in need along your own journey. He is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. I may be broken. You may be broken. But, WE have a Redeemer who restores and makes all things new. Singing Your praises Lord! And, if you need prayer, PLEASE let me know and I will pray for you.
My love to you all, dear family and friends! ~ Joanie