Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Shut In – Day 180: Survival Mode while Shut In

Today marks the one month point since the Ark touched down [see Genesis 8:4]. Yet even now Noah and his family could see no sign of land.

Early in this series I wondered if Noah and his family were in survival mode while “shut in” the ark.

Survival mode is when all you can handle is the bare minimum – the daily necessities can even be too much. There is no strength left to think or wonder about the future.

Survival mode is a term we use in chronic illness to make sense of our limitations.

Now, I am not trying to compare my experience with Noah’s situation. But rather, my pondering God’s work in his life prompts me to continue letting God teach me, and hopefully encourage others, through my own challenges.

Feel free to skip this post if you’re not interested. I almost didn’t post it, but then kept remembering how in the early years Elsa and I needed the hope we gained from hearing some stories of others further along in their journeys with chronic illness. Especially if they knew God was with them in the journey!

With chronic illness the survival mode stage can last, at varying levels, for years. It can even keep returning in cycles. At first, even the basics of eating, rest, treatments, and the occasional shower are too difficult.

When chronic pain is involved, so much energy is used in just coping. Simply breathing can be exhausting and painful. At that point it can be necessary to use strength one doesn't really have just to do something to distract from the pain [such as knitting with audiobooks for Elsa and me].

I only remember a few details from the first weeks and months of my sister and I being “shut in” by our health and strength utterly giving out. Eight years ago, after bringing Elsa home from her second ER visit in two days (without any help from the doctors who simply did not understand that she was in adrenal crisis, complicated by long suppressed chronic illnesses and severe heavy metal and mold toxicities) …our family was living in survival mode.

A month after Elsa’s crash came mine. I have blogged before about the sudden onset. But after hours of rallying around to pray Elsa through the valley of the shadow, days of spoon feeding and tip-toeing around her fragile frame on the couch, and weeks of learning a new way to shop and cook while working on isolating and eliminating the main food allergens that were now wreaking havoc in her compromised immune system… my body followed suit.

The memories continue foggy as we lay on the same couch, head to toe under a down comforter – hardly able to prop ourselves up enough to eat. Eventually we found strength to knit, and Elsa taught me to follow a lace pattern to make the wool scarf I have used ever since. But that was a very slow and exhausting process – making both of our brains ache.

Meanwhile we found free audiobooks on LibriVox.org. I remember Anne of Green Gables for one. It was also in those months (years, actually) on the couch that we first found new favorite books such as Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children and Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. [See posts such as What to Read: Part I about how this rekindled an old dream for me.]

Survival mode in the next months meant mostly treatments and pain management. Over time we added our increasingly disabled aunt Dorothy to the couch and read to her and each other. Then as our older sister accepted the part time job of helping at some friends’ greenhouses (which turned into the full-time job of being the owner’s wife!) we picked up more and more of our own food prep.

As strength slowly returned (usually only able to see progress by looking back a year or two), we resumed more responsibilities bit by bit. But strange as it may sound… that kept sending us back into deeper survival mode. Earlier, when we couldn’t do anything else, we could get a ride in to Bible study every week or two for fellowship. But when daily life took more or our increasing (but severely limited) strength, that had to drop out. At first we made it to church about once a month. But when we realized that our chemical sensitivities were setting us back for nearly a week after every time in a crowd, we had to cut that out in order to make any forward progress at home.

Eight years and much healing later, survival mode shows up in:

• weeks or months of being unable to answer emails or letters
• seasons where we rarely get off of our 8 acres on the prairie
• days of having to hide away from family noise and activity in some quiet room
• times where we can’t even read our Bibles or pray and can only handle gentle chapters from audio-Bibles and silent cries of “God, help!”
• unpredictable days and nights of PTSD rearing its fearful head
• hours of being too weak or inflamed even to knit or listen to any audio at all

While long experience has made these times less of a shock, they are always challenging and discouraging to some extent. But focusing on the pain never helps. And so, we must cling to TRUTH beyond all feelings.

Where can I even start in sharing the truths that have pierced the pain and waiting through the years? Here are just a few examples. I’d love to hear what you cling to in your seasons of survival mode and waiting as well!

• • • 

II Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Psalm 27:13-14
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!


Dear Lord, for all in pain
   We pray to Thee;
Oh, come and smite again
   Thine enemy.

Give to Thy servants skill
   To soothe and bless
And to the tired and ill
   Give Quietness.

And, Lord, to those who know
   Pain may not cease
Come near, that even so
   They may have peace.

~ Amy Carmichael


He Will Hold Me Fast - sung by Kristyn Getty (Listen on YouTube)


See previous posts in series here:

Part I: The Lord Shut Him In
Part II: 
Day 10: The Animals
Part III: 
Day 20: The Man Noah
Part IV: 
Day 30: The Walls
Part V: 
Day 40: What God Says... He Does
Part VI: 
Day 70: After the Crisis
Part VII: 
Day 100: When Waiting Turns to Years
Part VIII: Day 150: Touch Down!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Just Out of Sight

"'Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross
' [Hebrews 12:2] is a great word for fainting souls.

"As I read the New Testament over and over, I am more and more impressed by the way suffering was taken for granted as something appointed; but always there is the thought of joy not far off. 

"In our Lord's private talks with his disciples, there is continually and clearly that "must" of suffering and the joy to follow. 

"We often act as if the place that is called Calvary had been taken out of the landscape of life or was an accident there.  It is not so; but just out of sight is the joy that is set before us, and there is the power which can enable us to treat the invisible as visible, the promised as present."

Amy Carmichael, July 22 in Edges of His Ways

[today's rose bouquets rescued from a fierce, hot prairie wind]

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Tart Cherry Season

Earlier this month our tart cherries ripened beautifully!

It was time to pick...

...and juice them.

Watch the process in 38 seconds HERE

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Shut In – Day 150: Touch Down!

Who remembers when we first began tracking along with Noah’s flood… when he and his family were “shut in” by God? For most of us, February probably feels long ago. And 150 days must have felt long on the ark as well.

But today marks an exciting change in the monotony!

“At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” Genesis 8:3-4

The ark was finally stable once again, but it would still be more than two months before any land could be seen. Noah and his family would need much continued grace to wait.

As H.E. Wisloff shared in Quiet Moments on the Way Home:

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

"Sufficient Grace! Should we not praise God for this?

It is so easy for us to stare at our infirmities until we become blind to the glorious realities of grace.

We who are so aware of our insufficiency are permitted to live in the eternal sufficiency of God’s grace!

Our feelings are not enough, nor our faith, nor our prayers, nor our godliness. But God’s grace is sufficient.

And not only this, but God’s grace is perfected in our infirmities. It transforms the weakness in our lives into peace, victory, courage, and joy. It is to save us, sanctify us and make us useful in God’s service.

We need nothing more, nor do we solicit anything more. We fold our hands and thank Him who loves us and gives us all that we need. God’s grace is our sufficiency!"

See previous posts in series here:
Part I: 
The Lord Shut Him In
Part II: 
Day 10: The Animals
Part III: 
Day 20: The Man Noah
Part IV: 
Day 30: The Walls
Part V: 
Day 40: What God Says... He Does
Part VI: Day 70: After the Crisis
Part VII: Day100: When Waiting Turns to Years

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Tips for Tick Season

How many of you have already found a tick attached this year? Even though I don't play or work in the tall grass like I did when young, ticks find their way to me every year regardless. We even found a deer tick crawling on our kitchen counter one year!

When a wood tick perched on my shoulder this spring, I took the opportunity to use it for a little teaching. (See the brief video HERE)

We often shudder when we hear how people are removing ticks from their children - knowing that they could be causing more harm than good by using popular methods to make the tick release. See below for why some methods are actually dangerous. 

The goal is to get a little skin off to be sure you have the tick's head. (In my video, that tick took away no skin because it was so newly attached that it chose to let go on its own when being pestered.)

• Use a Tick Key for removal from people and animals.

• NEVER use hot match heads or essential oils for removal. They upset a tick so much that it "spits" any disease it may be carrying into your body!

• Save essential oil use for after removal:

    • Oregano is known for its antibacterial/antibiotic properties. But the oil is strong, so be sure to dilute it in a carrier oil before applying. 

    • Peppermint dilution is used to inhibit the gathering of co-infections at the site of the bite. (Many people have a previous infection that their immune system keeps under check. But a fresh one can interact with the old bugs and cause many more problems. This initial interaction is what doctors now believe the bull's eye rash comes from. Picture a "meet and greet party.")

• For extra peace of mind or to direct further treatment, labs are available to test your tick for Lyme disease. (We are thankful that a deer tick on my niece this spring turned out "clean"!)

Trust me... you do not want Lyme disease to go undiagnosed for years until chronic illness takes over more and more of your body systems.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Where Do I Start?!

When this many weeks (and very full weeks, at that) have slipped by without a blog post, I struggle to know where to start. 

So how about a few key photos starting back in mid-May:

Elsa's Bakery (the 2010 addition to our house) got heavy use from the beginning of May until we started moving back into the real kitchen and main living space on June 24th.

In the meantime, our attics were vacuumed out (a dusty job leaving a hot house).

Trees bloomed and bees hummed.

I had a lakeside birthday celebration with family.

The nature journal came out again.

We lived outside (both for work and rest) much of the time.

Tea harvest began.

Dad planted the vegetables.

We hired a neighbor to take off the biggest layer of toxic basement cement dust throughout our house (here showing what settled into the holes of a hardanger table runner) since cleaning kept setting us back too far.

Joseph came to inspect the tractors and visit us after months away during greenhouse season!

Evangeline showed her determination to be a "bookworm" like her mom!

Gardens were toured and asparagus picked.
See videos on my YouTube channel: Purely.HannahMary

Weeds were dug by the gallons from gardens and lawns.

Fresh kale, spinach, lettuce and radish began cutting down our grocery bills.

...And I really must save the rest for another post!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

His Eye is On the Sparrow

I am slowly pulling out of yet another physical setback...days of deep weakness and survival mode. And in them, God is with me. How do I know?! One way is through the songs He places in my heart. Like one morning last week...

...How glad I am that even before I woke to the fact that today was a hard-to-breathe, hard-to-move, legs-giving-out sort of day...

Even before this I woke to a song in my heart:

"Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come?...

"I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free;
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me."*

That song is obviously a perfectly timed gift from my loving Father today.

• Matthew 10:29 — Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.

• Luke 12:7 — Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Even though I am working my way back toward my "normal" strength this week, Elsa is facing a more prolonged setback due to the toxins spread through our house during days of cement chipping and grinding in our basement. Would you pray that her near-blacking-out through large portions of each day will clear up more quickly than the first time mycotoxins put her body in this state for much of a year?

P.S. - Pics are of last week's Jasmine-Green tea with the spontaneous addition of dandelion fluff. Tea outdoors is the best! Especially in my favorite mug by The Evergreen Studio.

*Civilla D. Martin (1905)