Monday, August 27, 2007

A Time to Say Good-bye

Hello friends,

This week-end I did something spontaneous. I came across the email address of a distant cousin, who has been compiling our family genealogy. I wrote him and offered to help in the few areas that I could. Memories of my childhood and young adult years were complicated, to say the least, and tragic in the worst of times. I was irrelevant, you might say. My grandmother forgot me, and my mother often spoke about her three children. I was her fourth child, and I remember wondering what she was talking about, because there I was, standing next to her. So, who was I?

My cousin sent me a copy of the entire line of ancestors, something I have wanted my whole life. Who was married to whom? What was the real name of the woman that I heard only called "Muddah?" Within this genealogy I learned the new names of married girl cousins, and who they married. What I wasn't expecting was the deaths. Here I am 61 years old. I've been at death's door more than once, yet I am alive. There they were, favorite cousins that I so seldom saw, but who are brilliant memories, brief encounters of my childhood. Joey, the adorable two year old, fourteen years my junior, passed away. James, my hilarious twelve year old cousin, eight years my junior, gone. Ronnie, who died her hair red, so that we could be twins. Drew, who owned all the comic books in the world, gone. What did they die of? Did they suffer? Was I as alive in their memories, as they are to me? Probably not. But, then, maybe that is why I'm the writer, one who celebrates memories; someone who remembers in minute detail.

My heart broke over the shock of discovering that those who were so much alive in my heart, are now gone, and have been so for years. All the while I laughed till I cried, and repeated the events again and again, to my children, and to anyone who would stand still, they were no longer with us.

One advantage I have over those who have always belonged, who lost a spouse, a mother, a husband, a friend. To me, they will always be young and laughing. My uncle Andy will always be kind and crazy. All of you. You will remain alive and young forever in my heart.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Time for Wins and Losses

Hello friends,

I expected to write much earlier today, but, blessedly we are having rain in our very drought stricken part of the Appalachians. We are praying for more, and it looks like it is headed our way. Already our outside temperature has gone from 89 to 77 degrees. Yeah!

I'm writing you between storms, and I thought you'd like to know that I made it onto the treadmill yesterday, just knowing I would be able to go the entire mile. It was a struggle to go half that distance. I still have an injured knee from my swan dive in the tub, last July, but it will get stronger.

More good news. I got paid for some stories. I don't know about you, but I just love paydays. For a writer, paydays come and go. Infrequently there's a windfall, when someone just can't get enough of your stuff, and then there's the rest of the time, when you crawl along wondering if some editor knows you're still on the planet. I'm not especially aggressive, and I really try not to do this alone. Just about everything I do, I do with much prayer, along with occasional white knuckle begging.

Yesterday afternoon suddenly became very hard. It was like a desert outside, and my beloved dachshund has been crated for over a week. He injured his back, a frequent disability of dachshunds, and we have been carrying him outside to do his business in a cumbersome pink, carry-along, that looks every bit like a tiny circus wagon. If Happy Dog only knew that it is PINK, I doubt that he would forgive me. On my third trip down the stairs, with my precious cargo on board, I stepped into an oven. Happy Dog took forever to find the perfect spot, and I thought, if I die out here, everyone going by will assume I'm sun bathing. "Oh yes, there's Mrs. Lewis, sunbathing. Now, what would make her do that in this kind of weather? And what's her weenie dog doing out in the street?" Needless to say, by the time I dragged the pink, cabana back up the stairs and huffed and puffed my way over to the big crate, making sure, with my last breath, that my weenie dog was safe and sound, I died on the couch!

I still had to get on that blasted treadmill, and I wasn't happy about it. Drinking about a gallon of water, I checked my blood pressure, discovering that I was not only alive, but my blood pressure was down, and my pulse was steady. No heart palpitations, but in a gloomy mood, I turned my worship cd on loud-enough-to-wake-the dead, and I started trekking. "This is for You, God, not for me." By the time I got to the third song, something happened. The words hit me, and I began to experience the worship I'd promised over morning coffee. I struggled with the rest of the afternoon, but I knew through each stumble, that I'd connected with Someone greater than myself.

Yesterday wasn't the best day, all day, but then, if every day were my best day, how would I understand that my prayer, as W.S. Bowden says, "is weakness leaning on Omnipotence."

"By Your strength, I walk.

By Your grace, I keep going.

When I stumble, You catch me in Your arms,

And when I fall, You carry me." From "Because of You," by Jaye Lewis, 2002

So, winning and losing, yesterday was a good day. I learned that God can touch my heart, even when I feel reluctant, and faithfulness is more than solemn promises. Sometimes it's merely showing up.

With love,

Jaye Lewis

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Time for Second Chances

Hello friends,

I've been so remiss in writing in my blog, and I apologize. A new internet friend contacted me yesterday, and I found myself so encouraged. As I told her, writing is a very lonely art, and sometimes it feels as though the heavens are silent. That is usually when I'm doing all the talking.

Isn't it strange how we think time is forever? Especially when we want something -- that new raise that we deserve; that pat on the back from a supervisor; or words of love from our loved one? So many things we wait for, and we sometimes think that we can do everything ourselves. Just push along; just keep our heads down and shove. We'll start our diet tomorrow. We'll get back on the wagon, after just this one -- whatever it is that is our great temptation. And times in between, when we feel bad about ourselves, simply go on forever. I've had a few months of that, and I'd like to share it with you, now.

My mother died at 64. She was having a typical argument with my father. She was loud. He was cruel. At the point that she grabbed her stomach and chest, and screamed, "I'm going to die," my father snarled back, "oh no, you're not!" And she did. She died.

I just turned 61, and I have had the specter of my mother's early death hanging over me. My life is different than hers. My husband is thoughtful and loving, and he still sees a young, beautiful woman in me. Of course, my look in the mirror shows something else. How like my mother I look, except for the smile and the happiness in my eyes. I neither drink nor smoke, and up until a few months ago (when sudden illness struck) I have been diligently walking a mile a day on my treadmill. That was the ticket for me. That time in the sick-bed has given me back over 20 pounds. My blood pressure has never been fully under control. I was retaining water, and I was so depressed.

On our anniversary, my husband and I went away for a couple of days. Oh how I love that, but there I was afraid to be seen by the man who still sees a girl in me. Luckily, the next day I slipped and fell in the tub with a mighty crash. Stark naked and afraid I would drown from the fast beating shower, my husband saved me, as he always does. Once I could stand, nothing could dissuade me from continuing our vacation. Days later, when I realized something was terribly wrong, I called my doctor, and she sent me to a neurologist. A great one.

What did I find out? Well, my blood pressure was too high, so my medication is being increased. I am on a new medicine for my trimengial neuralgia. Unbelievably, the unrelenting fire that has been my pain, has ceased, almost immediately. My blood pressure is down, and I'm beginning my treadmill worship walk again. Yes, I do have mild neuropathy (painful deterioration of the nerves in my feet and legs), but my diabetes is under control, simply from exercise and diet, and I feel hope in my heart.

I will be getting an MRI. No tube. THANK GOD! The hospital has an open MRI, made for people like me, who are dragged kicking and screaming to any enclosed space. I told my neurologist, if it wasn't an open MRI, I would drag everyone within reach and pull them into the tube with me! He laughed.

As I increase my dosage of my new medication, I feel better each day. I feel hopeful that I can begin anew. I feel as though I have been given one more second chance from God. As I record my journey of diet, exercise, and a closer walk with the Lord, I want you to walk with me. Each day, I will record in my binary log whether I'm successful or not; how I feel, whether joyful or not. Every new insight that God gives me, I will share with you. I will share recipes and diet tips. It's not like I don't know the stuff.

Please, if you know someone who is struggling with weight loss and diet. If you know someone with diabetes, who believes that they have been given a death sentence, please pass my blog-link to them. It could mean a life. With proper diet and care, and someone to walk with, each of us can live a long life. And if God should decide to bring us home, why then we can die happy.

I am a happy woman today. I realize my blessings. My husband asked me, in one of my lowest hours, recently, "have you thought about counting your blessings?" I was annoyed, because I wanted to feel bad that day. But I heard you, Honey! And I'm counting now! Today, I thank God for life, breath, joy, and sorrows, for it's in there that I grow. Today, Louie, I'm thanking God for you! And, my friends, I thank God for you, too!

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Time to Heal

Hello friends,

The time between my last post and today's has been a long time, considering how much writing that I do; and it has been a difficult time. I've been thinking about my family medical history, my medical history, and why it seems that in this world of "health masters," people seem to get sick more and die more. It seems as though there is an open season of evil. Perhaps the things that are in our faces today always happened; we just didn't know. Or evil is running rampant, and we are only safe in the hands of the Lord. I believe that the latter is the case.

Depression runs in my family, possibly manic-depression. No one ever sought help. It just wasn't done. My mother said that women in our family were "high-strung." Really, Mom! If you ever saw my mother in a rage, or my aunt, her sister, turn from a peaceful valley into a raging volcano, in a split second, you would believe her observation. According to my mother we were artistic souls. Yeah! Like Van Gogh cutting off his ear! My childhood was very confusing growing up, to say the least, and I couldn't wait for it to pass.

So, where is my healing? Well, there is only one place that I can truly run to, when life becomes so heavy that I have to climb five flights of stairs, just to reach bottom. Jesus. I run, just as fast as I can, and I throw myself into His arms. In His arms I am neither old nor weak. In His arms I am young and strong.

There are those who would laugh at my faith. In fact, right now, there is a movement to prove that Jesus was merely a man, who had all the foibles that we all have. It is like a crusade to prove that we have no Savior. I have to ask why? Go live your own life. Believe your own imaginings. Dream your own dreams. Cling tightly to those dreams as you take your final breath. And then what? That is the question they never answer. And then what? And that is the question that Jesus answers. And then what?

Do you know how Jesus answered that question? He said:

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3

Believe it or not, when I read those words, I can feel the power of His presence. I can feel the peace that He sends: "Let not your heart be troubled...." Don't worry, He says. Don't be troubled. One day, after the world has taken everything out of me, except my faith. He will come for me. He will hold out His arms, and I will run into them for the last time. I have a home. I have a mansion, which is built not of stone or wood or brick. It is built of His love and sacrifice.

The love of Jesus Christ transcends every awful experience of my childhood. It transcends every happiness of my present life. Jesus loves me. He truly does. And with all the temptations of this modern world; with all the false gods of prosperity and possessions, this fact remains true. I will go to the mansion that He has prepared, and I will spend an eternity with Him.

This morning I dreamed that I was in heaven. I dreamed that I was put in charge of the animals on some distant world. Can you imagine? What a beautiful Eden this earth must have been before we messed it all up. Every time I look out my door at the mountains that surround our home, I think about how beautiful it would be, to actually have a clear day and see forever.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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