Like Sea Waves: A Personal Note

After returning to Indiana from a six week snowbird trip to Florida last March, I began a downhill slump that didn’t begin to turn upward until October. What happened?

I think I need to be more personal with you. So, today’s post will differ in tone and content from most of my posts. No explorations into Noah Webster’s original dictionary. No quotation from an obscure theologian. No fascinating dives into word etymologies and usages. No book reviews. But I will include photos! We need their encouragement.

At Spanish Springs in The Villages of Florida.

Paul and I returned to Florida a month ago now. We plan, Lord willing, to stay until mid-March. But we may be moved to change our plans.

My perspectives and attitudes did move last year, surging like sea waves on the beach, crescendoing and then receding. Signifying what?

Hmm. I’ve been reviewing my personal ebb, flow, and growth from this past year. “I don’t remember anything personal and huge happening last year,” I thought at first. I also realized that subtle changes can have huge impacts over time. However, in reviewing my calendar, I noted three significant (but not totally life-changing) happenings. So, I did experience some big things last year.

I asked myself, “Did my diminishing health change my attitudes and perspectives, or did changing attitudes and perspectives (impacted by personal and other factors) diminish my health?” Hmm. “Why did I change?  Why did I become so sad?

In February, we welcomed our first granddaughter. Joy quite speakable (let me tell you, and let me show you!) and full of glory! This little darling fed my hopes of growing closer to this little family. Such cuddly joy increased my longing.

We met baby Charlotte on February 6, 2022.

Paul and Sherrie seven years ago in downtown Prescott, Arizona, in one of the western stores across from the famous court house.















In March we had a memorial service for my cousin, Sherrie, who died of Covid (in a hospital, separated from her family for her last ten days; her sister was allowed in for her last hours). Paul and I were very close to Sherrie. We deeply grieved, and we still carry that grief, along with her delightful voice and laughter in our hearts. Sherrie always read my posts. She never wrote a comment, but she’d talk to me about my articles and pictures. She’d give her insight, ask me questions, and she always encouraged me. I miss Sherrie for so many reasons.

I was also engaged during the first nine months of the year with improving my relationship with a family member who requested that we use a professional counselor to help us sort through our relationship, grow in understanding of each other, heal some hurts, and feel more confident in our relationship. Investing in the relationship was very important to both of us. She urged me to participate in this, which was a great compliment to the importance she placed on our relationship. A Christian counselor worked with us via Zoom for six months, which benefited each of us. It also drained me. It exhausted me.

Church was another factor. In our four years in Fort Wayne, we have explored three churches, staying for over a year at each church before making a decision. Returning from Florida last March, we returned to a little Baptist church we began attending the previous October. (Going south for the winter, of course, slows the establishment of roots.) The people and the pastor are sweet. But my health minimized my involvement, making it more difficult to build relationships. I felt increasingly isolated and sad.

Confident in their Creator, these tall irises decorated our front yard in the spring.

What do I do with myself? I read. I read the Bible. I pray. I meditate on the Lord. I read. I read multiple books at a time on various topics. I think about what I’ve read. I think about what I’ve heard. I take care of Paul (although he carries more of the load). I get a little exercise, but not enough. I listen to news. Sigh. I read emails. I delete emails. I listen to some music, but not too much. (Sound can be exhausting.) I listen to some podcasts. I had hoped to start a podcast. I write. I think about what I want to write. I do my monthly JNC posts.

My mind is always thinking, although I don’t claim to always think clearly. I’ve noted this: My mind has been overwhelmed. My mind has been divided. I need to cultivate a close friendship with just a few ladies; we need to be able to share our hearts and try to understand each other.

In our back yard these bold irises told of the glory of their Creator — to cheer me, if I would “listen” with my eyes.

I think the growing sadness in my heart last year (and I still hold some residue) developed because my mind was too divided in thought, because I lacked (did not practice) enough self-discipline to maintain needed focus, because I didn’t process my serious thoughts enough with others…., thus, I allowed (and still do) myself to be, well, lazy or lethargic. Not pursuing goals or steps toward goals is to treat God’s gifts to me carelessly – with ingratitude. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Looking back, I see over the months this sadness growing in my heart — I was becoming depressed in heart and spirit. Part of it was spiritual in nature, as I’ve noted. Part of it was physical, as my pain and exhaustion increased. The pain in my upper back, arms, and hands interrupted my sleep. I was shaking more. Writing became even more difficult. Forget journals and letter writing. I am so thankful for modern computer keyboards! And the pain in my lower body increased so that walking became more and more difficult. Breathing was harder.

At the kind advice of a lady in our little Baptist church, I started to see her chiropractor in mid-August. His careful work alleviated much of the pain and disability in my upper back, arms, and hands. The shaking in my hands is greatly reduced, and I can write some (but not long and it’s not pretty anymore).

This doctor did not help with my lower body. Actually, my pain and awkward walking got worse. So I stopped that part of his work, but am grateful for the upper body help he gave me. My lower body pain and awkwardness did decrease late in the fall, and I’ve done much better walking until this past week when a bout of sciatica has attacked me.

The mix of spinal, structural problems (and aging) with the presence of fibromyalgia (which extends and amplifies pain and exhaustion) makes life quite an adventure.

I take pictures of things that interest me and speak to me. Someday, I may want to use this or that picture. I found this photo in my collection today. Its message speaks today. So true.

I got to the point where I really didn’t want to try anymore. I wrote a “Ten Point Fight for My Life Plan” 22 years ago. I’ve fought enough. I felt I had no more umph to offer. “Lord, let me finish passing on whatever batons I’m to pass on and let’s go for the ‘gain’ please.” You know, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

I knew my attitude was foolish, and if I really believed this, then my attitude was also arrogant. Live for Christ? Can I claim that? With any consistency? Consistency, no. For Christ, yes. I am His.  If I checked out now, what gain would I have? Embarrassing. Looks like I still have batons to pass on — something to give. Sigh. Okay.

One particular question I asked myself when I wrote my “Ten Point Fight for My Life Plan” motivated me.  “What would it look like to give up?” As I considered various scenarios of giving up on life, I realized that to give up was to give in to the destructive goals of evil and my arch enemy — he who comes to kill, steal, and destroy, who is the father of all lies.  Whenever you give up, the Holy Spirit showed me, you are on the wrong path. You may think life’s hard now, but you’ve only just begun. There is no glory to be given or received here.

Moreover, I realized how selfish I was for being willing to give in and give up. What about Paul, my husband? Yes, years ago I had told him that I wanted to die before he did. His blunt reply was, “You’re being selfish.” And so I was. Paul seldom corrects me (he should do it more), so when he does, I take note and remember.

Last fall was our first fall in North Pointe Woods in Fort Wayne. Our wooded neighborhood became flamboyant.

I think it was at this point last fall that something stopped in my heart. I stopped. I stopped this downward slump. I must admit that some pain relief helped. And I started to think about how simple it is to please Paul. He’s just happy to have me around, whatever I can do. How spoiled can a wife be? And I started to think about the batons in my metaphorical hands (so glad my physical hands don’t have to hold them). I must not forget them. They are not mine to hold and hide.

So, we will see. I’m still struggling with physical “distresses”. I’m still sad, on and off. I’m still longing for certain changes in life and circumstance. But I’m stronger again. I’m offering God the sea waves of my confusion and sadness and receiving calming cups of comfort from the Giver. Given, apparently, just when and in just the amounts I can handle and need.

May God’s grace and mercy continually shown to me be given unto you:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our affliction,

so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,

with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

II Corinthians 1: 3-4

Here is a precious video clip that may encourage you from Joni.

Categories: A Personal Note | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Like Sea Waves: A Personal Note

  1. marysville2

    Hi Karen! We miss you and Paul! So good to hear(again) how you and your family are doing. Ephesians 3: 20 Love and blessings to you.Love 💕💕 Brenda


    Sent from my iPhone


    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank you, Brenda! Thank you for the reminder of this verse, Ephesians 3:20 (and adding 21): “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Yes, yes. Amen.

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