Author Archives: madblog

M.E.

This, written over a few weeks’ time. Then today’s update.

I overdid it yesterday. I was a little too active, but more foolishly, I was mentally positive and energized about some projects I hope to work on in the future. This morning I am exhausted, especially mentally. Once again, everything seems overwhelming and unfocused.

I live on a rollercoaster. Not a fun one. I never know what the next day will bring–physically, mentally. I live on a razor’s edge. Too much exercise produces a “crash” but how much is “too much” changes constantly.

I have M.E., or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Disorder. Take your pick; most people don’t know what any of them mean anyway. “Most people” includes most doctors.

To list, I also have migraines, P.O.T.S./Orthostatic Intolerance, and Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM), to name just the biggies. I don’t sleep well, and even a long sleep produces no refreshing. I must maintain a strict low carb-no sugar diet to function, and I have digestive system issues which I have never really pursued. I cannot tolerate hot weather and sitting in the sun makes me feel ill, whether or not it’s hot. I also have a sometimes symptomatic MVP. Not a comprehensive list but it will do.

I am also struggling mightily with depression and anxiety. This should be its own topic.

Owing to both physical and mental challenges, I’ve had an ongoing dance with being housebound for the last 26 years. At one time I was bed-bound for almost a year.

How did I get here?

When I was 19, at the end of my freshman year of college, I picked up mononucleosis. I had a rather mild case and I felt back to normal after two to three weeks. Life went on normally for several years. I completed art school, and married my long-time fiancé. I had two children. After the second, I started to feel my stress levels somatically. I developed minor chest pain and got my diagnosis for mitral valve prolapse. Harmless, but disturbingly symptomatic.

While pregnant with my third baby, I was wiped out and had very low blood pressure throughout. During the next pregnancy I developed intermittent hip pain. Over the course of the pregnancy the joint became problematic.

I bore that son and carried on, albeit that walking was difficult. Graduslly my hip deteriorated until my foot was turned inward several inches off the  ground and rotating it was painful. If I could lean on the carriage handle for balance, I was OK. But by the time the baby was a few months old, I had a diagnosis and a prognosis for the hip. It was idiopathic, meaning nobody knew why. But it was an autoimmune disorder: my body attacked my hip and destroyed it. I had total hip replacement surgey at the age of 33, when my fourth baby was 13 months old.

Too many triggers.

Hip surgery was in June 1993. In March of 1994 I was three months pregnant and not feeling too well. This wasn’t first trimester ill. It was something new. On March 20, I got myself dressed, got the kids dressed, got to church and started feeling deflated and woozy. I lay on the floor in the nursery until the kids were done Sunday School and my husband helped me to the car. I went home and stayed there for the next several months. After that day, I quickly progressed to a bedridden state. I emerged only to birth my daughter and returned to bed for three more months.

Written down this way, telescoped, I see that it looks like I worked hard on getting ill. I had five children in nine years. In addition, I was a highly stressed person by temperament. I have lived in a state of overehelmn-ness most of my life.

But I was always very healthy. I had normal stamina and rarely caught things. I still am rarely sick. I still think of myself as a basically healthy person, who has a few chronic maladjustments which give me symptoms, but do not pose any serious threat.

If you have a chronic condition, you constantly evaluate your present state and adjust accordingly. Food, activity, exercise, your to-do list— it’s all contingent and subject to change. You push forward most of the time but your condition calls the shots.

And sometimes you realize that you just have to lie down and let it roll over you. That’s where I am, right now. It will pass, but I have to be realistic and patient.

It’s been months though. I am convinced that I am unlikely to improve a lot while living under this black cloud of anxiety. You know the one I mean because you’re living there too. The relentless drumbeat: fear the virus. Fear the virus.

I lost the presumption of invincibility which young people normally have long ago because of my chronic symptoms. I feel vulnerable. So the news on the pandemic worked on me, even while I saw the manipulation and dishonesty about it. Shouldn’t have, but honestly, it did.

Update. I came down with shingles at the end of March. I spent the month of April on the couch. I spent the beginning of May slowly returning to my normal, which was staying in, pacing myself carefully, eating a super-nutritious diet, and living with moderate ME. Then came a couple days of feeling pretty well. I remember thinking: I’m definitely over the shingles, in fact I feel better than I did before the shingles!

Of course, I overdid it. If I tell you how little I did to overdo, you would be appaled.

I have now been back on the couch for a week. I have crashed, big time. I am looking more deeply into POTS. Orthostatic Intolerance. Dysautonomia. I do know that this is a huge component of my illness, but I haven’t done much about it. The way I feel this morning moves me to pursue this issue for some solutions.

If only for myself, I will now list the evidence for POTS. Right now: standing for more than a few minutes produces high heart rate, a sickly feeling, queasiness, weakness, dizziness. At times of best health: pre-syncope. A feeling I ignore of needing to lie down, inability to change position easily– I began sitting throughout the church service while others stood because I would have a feeling of vertigo or spatial disorientation. Since I was a kid, my feet would swell and turn red in hot weather. I have never tolerated heat or the sun well; for some years now they are intolerable. Summers in humid PA are long months to dread.

Most of my symptoms can be chalked up to POTS. But one is the marker only of ME. PEM.

The one thing characteristic of ME is PEM: post-exertional malaise. Everything is delayed. I may overdo today but I crash after 5 days,  and for who knows how long. Payback is out of proportion to the effort expended. Everything is delayed. I may be eating like a bodybuilder monk and that will pay off, if I’m consistent, in 8 months.

It’s very difficult to perform so that you stay functional because it’s hard to know what caused or is causing a crash. How do I avoid the next one?

I have to live like someone prepping for a triathalon just to function poorly. Minus the exercise. Exercise is actually BAD for you if you have ME. Do too much and the payback is you in bed for extended periods.

I will now need to crawl toward my normal–and that’s other people’s version of getting over the flu. You could say I’m discouraged.

100 Years Ago Today

My mother was born on April 30, 1921. She would have been 100 years old today.

When my great nephew was told that his great grandmother had passed way, he was disappointed. “Now she won’t make it to 100.”


She made it to 96 1/2. That last year, I had occasion more than once to say to her that getting to be almost 100 was quite an accomplishment, that she didn’t have anything to prove, that she should relax, and that to accept help when you’ve attained such an age was no shame.
She did not listen. Her atty-tood endured to the end. But I guess that’s how you get to be almost 100.

We threw her a surprise party on her 70th birthday, then on her 80th, then on her 90th. What a party we would have had this year.

Happy Birthday, Marguerite Theresa Smith Mercer.

My First Holy Communion. She made my dress.

Her 90th birthday party.

We Have Devalued Us

Anne Bradstreet (1612–1672) was the most prominent of the early English poets of North America and the first writer to be published in England’s North American colonies. She is the first Puritan figure in American literature, and is notable for her large body of poetry, as well as personal writings published posthumously. Born to a wealthy Puritan family in Northampton, England, Bradstreet was a well-read scholar, mother of eight children, and the wife of a public officer in the New England community. Bradstreet managed to write poetry in addition to her many other responsibilities and duties. Her writing developed into a unique style of poetry which centered on her role as a mother, her struggles with the sufferings of life, and her Puritan faith.

It would be great if we stopped stripping wifehood and motherhood of their values.

I was heartened to notice, in the summary of Anne Bradstreet’s life, that she was given credit for doing important work which she found time to write in spite of. Do you hear it? She was the mother of eight and the wife of a busy and influential man in the community. Even so, she managed to find time to be the first poet of the New Nation.

I truly want to thank the author of this surprising summary.

Wouldn’t it be nice if when we extoll the achievements of accomplished women, we recognized their work as mothers and wives, as managers of households and superintendents of families?

Even the stay-at-home community, even the SAHM homeschooler community engages in this marginalization of traditional women’s work. We feature the homeschooling mom because she runs a successful home-based business, because she creates a useful ministry, because shes an author of this women’s group study or that Christian market fiction series.

We do not extoll the woman who invests her entire supply of energy and committment to her family. The one who has eschewed outside pursuits to put her whole focus, to pour herself out, for the building up of those in her household— to single-focus on the service of her husband and children.

Things Democrats Don’t Mind Now

A list of things so far that liberals don’t have a problem with since they are happening under a Democrat:

Kids in cages. Kids crossing the border with coyotes, being trafficked. Kids held in detention. Kids ripped from their mothers’ arms. Kids exposed to covid in crowded cages.

Blue states re-opening 100%.

Border crossing immigrants who test positive with Covid-19 not quarantining but getting on buses and traveling to your home town. Because there’s no possibility of superspreader events.

Absurd, incoherent or nasty public comments by the POTUS.

The nation’s capitol fenced off from its citizens. Indefinite military occupation of our capitol.

Nursing homes being forced to accept infectious covid patients into their general population so that covid spreads among the most vulnerable people like wildfire. Many thousands dying because of these deliberate policies. As long as the governor is a Democrat.

It’s not an exhaustive list! I am certain we will be adding to it over the next few years. I welcome your suggestions.

Things Learned from Silence

From silence, just watching, I can learn much. A few things I have noticed follow.

To the extent that you let one particular person become the context for your perspective on all other things and all other people, that person has become your god.

I have been blocked on FB by one or two brothers or sisters in the faith. For what? For not being sufficiently anti-Trump. Someone who swallows whole the media caricature of Trump as the abusive autocrat, and who admits she identifies Trump with her abusive ex, is dumbfounded that anyone could support anything he does. Note: I am not a Celebrity Trump fan, nor a Populist Hero Trump fan, though I have enjoyed his political fearlessness and his savage humor. My support is for policies and I avoid commenting on the personalities of any politicians. I do not promote the man, but say so when I support the job done.

For that I am blocked. Erased out of social media existence.

Many of my friends have allowed Trump to be the alpha and the omega of all judgements. All arguments begin with: because Trump is detestable…, and all arguments end with: because Trump is hateful. That is the definition of making Trump the center of your universe, your all in all, your moral standard. He’s your god.

It must stink to be a committed, Christian church member who is also a committed Democrat when the subject of abortion comes up. You can never be an activist on the side of life. For all your good works, you can never, ever post pro-life thoughts on social media, and you must scroll past when your pro-life friends do. You can never speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. That would betray your political loyalties.

When I post thoughts on FB in support of simple free speech, non-partisanly noting my concerns about the censoring of one brand of political thought, none of my Democrat friends like those posts. One or two actually argue and justify censorship. These are people my age, who grew up hearing that only totalitarian regimes censor free speech. That I disagree with what you have to say but I will defend with my life your right to say it.

How easily people are persuaded to give away their rights. Or, as they see it, yours.

No matter what, there is one lesson to be learned. People are more comfortable with me, like me, approve of me…if I keep my thoughts to myself. Almost all of us could say this. Even, or especially, people who love us, do not like hearing our opinions. In fact, they do not seem to have any hesitation to shut us down.

The well-considered thoughts of this woman make my unequivocally feminist friends uncomfortable. My friends who were fans of #RESIST will not engage, like or acknowledge MY resistance. I have been told to shut up and I have been erased (blocked.) They would rather I be quiet, and not think what I think.

It’s hard to turn on a dime from 4 years of hate, contempt and high levels of outrage to peace, love and unity. As you see.

My “friends” have allowed FB friends to insult me personally, liked their comments, and sat silent while they ridiculed me.

While eagerly posting the daily rant of hate-monger “historian” Heather Cox Olberman who takes particular care, not only to criticize political actors, who are fair game, but to condemn our neighbors and friends who are on the right. Hate us, fear us.

Without saying a word, we can train ourselves to hate the other, the ones who have a different perspective. Our God, our culture, and our families taught us that the greatest virtues were love, tolerance and patience for the different-thinkers, and that friendly persuasion was the way we would change minds. Somehow maybe a third of our fellow Americans have been persuaded that constant hatred of the Other is more virtuous.

Advice Please

Calling on my blogging friends to advise me. Several years ago, I posted a picture on a post which I found googling. The photographer has contacted me, demanding that I remove it. He has sent an invoice and claims that I infringed on copyright.

He has begun to harrass me, sending several emails a day, threatening to report me for copyright infringement, and listing the penalties.

I deleted the photos after his first request.

Is this a scam or an unhinged harrasser?

Validation-Psalm 51

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

I imagine someone immersed in instant communication and transitory exchange, in shallow feels and binging drama–opening a Bible to this passage. Upon reading it, he or she realizes there are words for the vague despair he has experienced, the sometimes private terror he tries to suppress.

Someone else has known his feelings..and his experience is validated. Someone else has realized the depth and weight of his troubles. Finding that there is a remedy.

Finding that there is Someone who cares about his problem and is ready to help.

God is not the fault-finding Judge but the one who hopes for me, and who wants to make me guiltless.

What he wants for me is guiltlessness, purity, and the obliteration of obstacles which divide me from His love. He wants my true relationship and worship. Praise the Lord.

Love, Edited.

Love is all you need. All you need is love. Love, love, love.

Well it turns out, according to vast consensus, that there’s a better ideal. It’s hate.

Hate, unabashed, unembarrassed. The purer the better. To proudly hate is all the rage.

I have to turn away from my social media. The contempt, the revulsion, the hatred freely expressed toward one person is so great, it’s like a celebration of it.

Yet it’s not directed toward only one person. Everyone who ever supported, ever voted for, ever spoke a single sentence well of, all hated too. Proudly.

It’s the shiniest virtue signal. And it makes me despair. How can normal people, who think they are kind, just, fair, not see how ugly they’ve made themselves?

It gets so much worse. Believers in Jesus Christ not just comfortable, but rushing to be noticed, spewing hate. Forgetting this:

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

The People Who Walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light

The world is dark.

Picture that the world is in utter darkness everywhere, but there is one light.

The one light is very conspicuous. It is the only thing visible anywhere you look. If you position yourself near that light, you can see. If you hide from the one light you stumble about in blindness and danger.

God’s Word says the world is in darkness, save for one light. But the darkness cannot dispel that light. In fact, the light pushes darkness away wherever it reaches.

C.S. Lewis, in his Space Trilogy, suggested that our world is silent in a universe which everywhere else sings praises to its Creator. In his sci-fi novel Out of the Silent Planet, he imagined a universe in which each planet has a representative-steward angel in the service of God. Earth’s angel–Satan–betrayed his Lord and temporarily keeps his planet under his illegitimate rule. Inhabitants of other planets regard Earth as silent and isolated.

The world we live in is silent and dark.

But Jesus said,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Light and life are joined somehow. In John 1, there is this:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4

I am sure any theologian can tell you much more about the affinity of the ideas of light with life than I. But I can tell you that the God of the Bible is the author and only original Source of both light and life.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

I did not see a temple in the city,
because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.
On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

Revelation 21: 22-25

Our world is dark. The world refrains from praising our Creator and that silence is opressive. Without the Light of Jesus Christ, the only light, we are in darkness.

As Christmas Advent becomes Christmas Day, we honor a light in the darkness. A baby born in the night. A lone bright star and the glory of angels singing praises in the night sky.

Thank God for the Light of Christmas to all people who will rejoice in it. Let us keep the Light of Christmas before us every day of the year.

The Reason Young People Stop Church

We become alarmed when our teens or young twenties stop going to church. We often assume some drastic reasons are behind their choice to stop.

But I think we are succumbing to alarmism and giving our kids too much credit. Their decision is usually a non decision.

The world is coming at them relentlessly from all directions. They are overwhelmed but a young person’s response to that is sleep or distraction. Their distraction often looks energetic so we olders don’t recognize it as an attempt to rest. They aren’t old or overwhelmed enough to long for a peaceful respite. That comes later.

Relevance is the issue: they know all that stuff; it’s old news. They have questions but they’re not interested enough to find out. They’re distracted by a lot of new experiences and there are a lot of demands on their time. If there are a couple of uncommitted hours they’re going to veg out or sleep.

I don’t have to go now that I’m an adult (or a teen given some prerogative) and I just dont really want to think about this right now. It seems like more work and it’s just not relevant to me now.

In a nutshell: they’re not interested and they just don’t really want to deal with it right now.

When challenged, they must assume some sort of credible stance, so they adopt one, even though it hasn’t been vetted or examined yet. I’m a Skeptic. I’m an Atheist.

The second reason is of more concern.

I have discoved that I love to X and I assume that my church family wouldn’t approve. I have decided X is ok. I have a right to X. My parent’s friends at church must be robots or bigots. So I turn my back on them. For X.

A principled reason is of concern and anyone who loves the young person declaring it must be ready for the long haul of loving him/her through whatever comes, and preparing to gently persevere in reasoning with her over her issue.

But in the long run, the disengaged reason is more dangerous. Unchallenged, it becomes the default, the lifestyle.

Our job as parents and teachers is to close off that option. How?

By teaching them from early on:

You are a human being designed to think! Make decisions and have convictions about them. Prove ALL things. Examine every thought, every premise, every assumption that comes your way. Think it through. Dont let others do your thinking for you.

The truth stands up to scrutiny. We must all be skeptics, examining every thought that we encounter with reason and an honest search for truth. Then we must hold on to the truth we find like our life depends on it. It does.

Our children who have the habit of honest skepticism and intentional thinking will better handle what comes their way. Even though they may wander and experiment, they will be equipped to examine the paths they’re on. Hopefully they choose to stay honest and embrace the truth.