Grayness and Grace

December 18, 2014 | My Jottings

(Written three days ago…) I woke up this morning around 3:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep for a long while. I pulled back the curtain behind my bed and watched the snow fall for a while. We’re supposed to get three inches today. The wind is howling and it seems like a good day to stay home, except I have a doctor’s appointment at 9:20 this morning, so I’ll be venturing out. I don’t really want to go to the doctor because he’s new to me, since my old, beloved family doctor of 32 years no longer works at our clinic. Our new guy is friendly, loves his work, listens well, has a beard, all good things in my book. I’m going because I think I need a sleep study. I have awakened a few times in the past couple of months with a loud, desperate, air-sucking gasp, halfway sitting up, with my heart pounding so hard and fast it feels like it will come out of my chest. I think I can tell my heart is doing this because I stop breathing, and the severity of the pounding makes me think my breathing lapses are long. I don’t think I’m having a dream or nightmare. Maybe I’ll get on the CPAP wagon now, who knows? I have a couple of friends who use CPAP machines at night and these little whirring boxes have truly transformed their sleep. I never thought I would be headed down this road since I’m not much of a snorer and haven’t had other sleep apnea symptoms. Oh well. I guess putting on my plaid nightgown and climbing into a strange bed while being hooked up to various wires, and being observed by strangers while I sleep with my mouth open is the next thing on my list of adventures.

My sweet seven year old granddaughter Li’l Gleegirl spent the night on Saturday and helped me make cookies for the annual cookie exchange my three daughters and I do together. We made Spicy Molasses Cookies and they are so scrumptious with a small glass of milk. Li’l Gleegirl wanted to go with me on Sunday to spend the day with Grandpa, so she brought some toys and books, we packed a lunch for her, and off we went. It’s almost an hour’s drive, and after we had gone about twelve miles she said, “Are we half way there yet?” I forget how quickly time can drag when you’re young, and how true the overused cliche “time flies” is for us older folks.

Anyway, Grandpa was so glad to see her and they shared a long hug. She enjoyed seeing all the birds again, and she explored the big gameroom they have there, played some little instruments during the Gaither Homecoming Gathering that was on the TV in Grandpa’s living room, and was very good company for me. When the time for afternoon worship/church rolled around, Li’l Gleegirl and I were getting ready to take Grandpa to chapel when a staff person from the veterans home approached and informed us there was a confirmed case of influenza in the building and we were to put on a mask. All visitors were also encouraged to limit their time there to fifteen minutes, and we’d already exceeded that, so we returned Michael to his neighborhood called Birch and prepared to leave. Because this was a sudden change in our plans, chapel canceled, no nice long goodbye with a quiet prayer, Michael became agitated. The delusional thinking that is part of Lewy Body Dementia kicked in and he thought the whole flu thing was a big conspiracy dreamed up by the powers that be to keep us apart, and he didn’t think I should leave. I hate trying to explain things to him that he can’t understand. This is one of my roles at this point in our lives now, and I hate it. 3741001103f41e2024a1d9e0f95f488c

Driving home, the landscape of the north shore of Minnesota and weather was as bleak as I was feeling inside. Gray and colorless, no signs of life, nearly frozen, lacking light. Li’l Gleegirl was a bright beam in the midst of it all, though…

I have a small white tree in my bedroom, decorated by some of my grandchildren. I haven’t put up the larger green tree in our living room, and am not sure I will. My daughters may think I’m becoming like Mrs. Scrooge or something, but that’s not it. I’m not sure how to articulate it. I’m happy about celebrating Jesus and the hope, love and mercy He brings and I am desperate for. I just crave a pared-down, condensed, slow walking out of this celebration. Yet I know I cannot impose my Advent journey/desires on others.

I do look forward to our family get togethers so much. But somehow everything has become wistful, nostalgic, tinged with sorrow for me, and you can imagine how fun that is for everyone. Some would say, “and this too shall pass…”, but I don’t want to rush these times. I don’t want them to quickly pass. When life gets harder and narrower, I hope the Lord can cause me to go deeper.

My friend Ember wrote this to me: “Spring always comes. ‘As long as the earth remains’. The human heart will also have its time in the sun and its season of life rising anew.”

I know this is true.

So this is my refrain for today: “Oh, for grace to trust Him more….”


  1. Roberta Desalle says:

    Julie, for me, Advent, and indeed my relationship with Jesus, is not seasonal, nor is the journey He sets us on “one size fits all”. I think I celebrate Him daily when I seek to open myself to the Good, all around, given to me, daily.—a determined effort a lot of the time, given our present lives in this world.
    No one could help being aware of how Jesus is, everyday, the center of your Life.
    A blessed Christmas time to you and all your family.

  2. Just Julie says:

    Sometimes, to celebrate each day does take a determined effort, as you say, Roberta. Especially when we focus on the difficulties in the world and our own lives. But that determined effort is worth it, isn’t it? Telling ourselves the truth, day after day, about the Lord, about His plans and power, about ourselves… And may you and your family have a blessed Christmas as well. I am thinking about your animal family today too…. xoxo

  3. Ember says:

    Your heart/breathing/sleep issues sound as though they could be frightening. I do hope your doctor was able to shed some light on what’s happening. xxx

  4. Just Julie says:

    Thank you, dear Ember… xoxo

  5. Dorothy Sooter says:

    Julie, my niece did the sleep thing and after one hour they knew she needed the CPAP. She loves it. I was tested twice. The first time I did not go to sleep until three in the morning.. They set me up to do it again and I went home at 12:30 AM. I am not a candidate but it sure sounds like you are. In regards to the way you are feeling, do whatever feels right to you. I have this young friend from Brazil that I worked with a
    couple of years ago. She and her husband had their first baby today. Kacie and I went to the hospital to see them. I held that beautiful baby and finally the Christmas Spirit came upon me. Since your dad went home to be with The Lord, holidays are difficult. He loved Christmas. That little 6 pound 13 ounce had her little hand grasped around my finger and it was the best I have felt in a very long time. Please give Michael my love when you see him. God Bless.

  6. Just Julie says:

    How wonderful that a newborn had such a heartening effect on you, Dorothy. I understand — babies are such happy miracles. May God be with you this Christmas and give you peace and joy thinking about the heavenly reunions ahead… love you… xoxo

  7. Kay in Cornwall says:

    Dear Julie, please let us know the outcome of your doctors visit. A good night’s sleep is a real treasure and I pray your problem will be soon rectified.
    It’s strange that you say that you haven’t put up a Christmas tree, because I too, have ‘pared down’ this year. We do have our usual tree in the living room, but this year I really didn’t want as many decorations up as I’ve done in years before. I’ve not even put up the Christmas cards that we’ve been sent, they are sitting in a basket on the sideboard! The older I get, the more I crave a less-cluttered home, but this is the first year I’ve felt this way at Christmas. In fact I said to Alan a couple of weeks ago that next year I’d like a twig tree with some plain white lights.

  8. Just Julie says:

    I know just what you mean about wanting things less cluttered as we age, Kay. I’ve always like things that way and now I’m getting worse. Or better, depending on how one looks at it. 🙂 May the Lord guide every single person who cares for you these next weeks as you undergo your surgery and recovery. You’ll be in my prayers… xoxo

  9. Nancy says:

    thank you for the link to the choir. What a beautiful song sung by lovely children. Your words, links, pictures pick me up when I’m down. You have a gift. Have a blessed Christmas. God bless

  10. Just Julie says:

    Nancy, thank you for stopping in and for your kind comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the children’s choir as I did! I wish you a blessed Christmas and much joy in the coming year, dear Nancy… xoxo

  11. Rebecca says:

    Oh, my! I was “introduced” to you in Ember’s comment section 🙂 I had a little time this morning to read a few of your posts, and smiled at a few of the things we “share”. Briefly: A fall last March resulted in a “new” left hip for me. This was followed in September by a “new” right knee. And last Sunday, I slipped at church and fell on my “new” hip. Fortunately, nothing broken, but def. has curtailed my activity and brought a wave of discouragement & pain. I, too, would LOVE to have larger eyeglass frames….and my mother is in the Memory Unit of a nursing home a little over a year and about an hour away. Being with her and my father (88 years old) has been my focus AND joy the past year. Enough about me, but I look forward to “knowing” you better in 2015. Merry Christmas.

  12. Just Julie says:

    You’re right, Rebecca, we have much in common. I love all the sayings you have on the side of your blog! I have bookmarked it and will be visiting regularly! God rest you this Christmas…. xoxo

  13. Helen in Switzerland says:

    I’d be interested to know how your sleep testing goes Julie – and I’m going to try to get my husband tested – I get no sleep because he’s either snoring for Switzerland and keeping me awake, or I wake up because he has stopped breathing….and I’m sure that isn’t healthy.
    I wish you the gift of peace in your heart this Christmas. I hope that you are able to have a good time with Michael and your family – living in the moment and leaving the future in God’s hands. All best wishes to you and yours for a better 2015, much love, Helen x

  14. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for your always-thoughtful wishes, Helen. If you haven’t googled sleep apnea, you might want to, considering the long-term health problems (cardiac too) that stem from this. I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a 2015 filled with God’s hope and joy, dear friend… xoxo

  15. Marcia says:

    Julie, you’re in the midst of a horrific, painful, long good bye. Why wouldn’t the world feel gray, even if you were somewhere bright? Many years ago my Grandmother died in early December. That year there was a tree and a dinner but of course it was different. Appropriately so. And so can your year be. Your lack of daily joy doesn’t signify a lack of faith, or a loss of the wonder of Christ’s birth but a mature honesty about the place your life is in right now. You are a beautiful example of a woman clinging to God in the midst of a terrible storm. You’re not Mrs. Scrooge, but maybe a little of Tiny Tim’s mom, I would think. 🙂

    Merry Christmas. Let your family and nearby loved ones serve you and love on you, okay?

  16. Just Julie says:

    Marcia, This might be one of the nicest comments I’ve ever received on my blog. Thank you. You made me cry, and you brought comfort. God bless your Christmas, dear Marcia. Hugs to you… xoxo

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