Thursday, November 19, 2009

Knowing My Heart by Jaye Lewis

My hair. It’s my one vanity. At sixty-three, my hair is still a red gold. My pictures are not touched up. My hair has never changed. This certainty may soon be over, at least for awhile.
You see, I have been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, and the only medication approved by the FDA to treat Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is Elmiron. One of Elmiron’s side effects is a type of hair loss called alopecia. Yes, in the not too far distant future, I will have a bald spot ― a nice and shiny bald spot.

I’m a pretty woman, with a warm smile and lovely expressive eyes; however time and disease (not to mention medications) have taken their toll on my body. I’m no longer slender, and after much whining and complaining to God, I have accepted it. Since my asthma requires high doses of prednisone, which plays havoc with my diabetes, I am subject to a plethora of side effects, like weight gain. Although I fight the pounds with exercise and diet, I’m no longer counting on losing weight. I try to comfort myself, that when I’m in heaven, I’ll be a lot taller.

I only just found out my new condition, so I spent yesterday looking up IC diets. I actually found one. It was filled with foods to avoid ― all my favorite foods, like coffee, chocolate, heavy cream, and a host of others. Now, believe it or not, I was encouraged to drink my favorite mint tea and I can eat my daughter’s oat bread ― yum ― and other whole grain breads.

I’m to run from butter, but not margarine and lard. Who wrote this diet, and when? I can’t believe that margarine and lard are still on a list of preferred foods, anywhere! Just when was this diet dreamed up? 1972?? To be fair, I was urged to avoid only one food at a time ― sort of trial and error ― until I find which foods have an effect on my IC.

I’ve decided to start eliminating grains I’ve never eaten, like quinoa, spelt, and amaranth. This list was definitely compiled by someone who’s stuck in the seventies. I can’t have cream, but I can have ice-cream and Cool Whip?? No offense to the brand name, but I prefer real food rather than fake.

The list of bladder friendly foods is not too bad. Some of my favorites are on it. All kinds of dried beans, which make great soups. And pumpkin, egg plant, and squash. I can eat coconut cream pie, pork chops, and chicken.

It’s not so bad, really. This is just one more thing that proves that we live in a fallen world, much like in the days of Noah. And just because I have one more thing to deal with, it’s no reason for me to give up. I’m quite certain, with the polluted air we breathe and our contaminated food supply, there will always be something.

I will not give up, no matter what my situation is. I will always have a plan of action. Banning citrus fruits is not the end of the world. Anything that affects the bladder must be eliminated for a time. The internet is a tool to seek out information, and I must use common sense when searching. I’m smarter than I think I am, and so are you. We are not victims.

So, now I wait, trusting in God and believing in His mercy. I can laugh at myself, and at my situation, because laughter is also a gift from Him. At these times, I can’t help but wonder about atheists. How can they endure the trials and tribulations of this life, without God? What do they do when all hope is lost? Call on Darwin? What nonsense! Darwin has no power to help anyone.

When all hope seems lost, I choose to find my strength in God. My faith assures me that He has a plan for me; that He will see me through every sorrow; that He will not forsake me; and that every blessing I have comes from Him. I can easily count my blessings: my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughters, my loveable pups, and my cat MeowMeow, who follows me around like a puppy, meowing all the way. God has given me my home, my garden, and my strength to carry on ― all of these gifts are because of Him and His grace.

So, I lose my hair! There are wigs and hats. I don’t have to look beautiful, to be beautiful. My blessings were truly evident in an offer from my youngest daughter. She has red-gold hair, that flows down her back and shimmers in the sunlight.

“I’ll give you my hair, Momma,” She offered, while tears streamed down her cheeks. We hugged as I told her what an angel she is.

So now, I will wait, with a laugh bubble in my throat, enjoying the ludicrous in life, even when the ludicrous is me. I’ll take my medicine and accept whatever comes. I will believe in remission, because God has promised to heal me. Whether my body or my soul, that is good enough for me.

Oh Father, I am so weak, but You are strong. I am filled with doubt, but You fill me with Your grace. Hold me, Father, and wipe away my tears. I can feel your comfort. I can feel your safety. Help me, Lord, to know my heart. Help me to be strong, so that others will seek their strength in You. Be my hiding place, as well as all who seek You. And to You be the praise, the honor, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Veteran's Prayer: Remembering the Fallen by Jaye Lewis

Father help me remember;
May I recall to the very last.
As I set my eyes on the future,
May I not forget the past.

Help me recall the suffering,
And every sacrifice, too.
May I never forget each drop of blood
That was shed in the sight of You.

May I never forget the sorrow.
May I not erase the pain,
Of the ones who’ll not see tomorrow,
Because they were cruelly slain.

Father help me remember
Each and every face —
Of my sisters and my brothers
Who cannot be replaced.

In my heart I watch them go,
So young and unafraid.
Leaving behind their precious loves,
And the plans that they had made.

Father help me remember
The faces, voices, and lives,
Who sacrificed their future
For brothers, sisters, and wives.

How can it be that they should go
And I be left behind?
Perhaps, my child, so you can tell
These stories to the blind.

But who is blind, oh Father?
Those who will not see
The sacrifice of others,
So precious, now, to Me.

Now, yours is a sacred duty,
A chance to set things straight;
To tell their sacred story,
Before it grows too late.

I pondered all the whispered words.
I heard my Father say;
How He loved the fallen
Who abide with Him today.

My heart was broken as I thought
Of those who’d gone before;
Protecting those they do not know,
In a world that’s still at war.

And so, I made a promise;
One I strive to keep.
I’ll tell their stories one by one,
Until it’s time to sleep.

Father, I will not forget.
I’ll remember to the last;
As I set my eyes on the future,
I will not forsake the past.

Good-by, my precious brothers;
And to my sisters too.
Save a place at the Master’s table;
In time, I’ll dwell with you.

© Jaye Lewis, Veteran’s Day 2009

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