Things are Hard…Life is Good

I have been meaning to share a personal post with updates. After all, readers of this blog are not simply random shoppers searching for paint colors. You are friends who have followed for years, who pray for me and my people. And you are kindred spirits who send peace, hope, and love that reach me across fiber optics.

Sons in the Pacific when they were 12 and 15

Though my imagination is wild and my will is strong, I could never self-create the buoyancy and soul-centering assurance that arrives as a result of your prayer. It is indeed Providence moving, holding, and sculpting us into new creatures with greater capacity to cope and GROW. Growing in wisdom remains my desire.

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It is taking a lot of effort to share any of this because I am vulnerably still in it, and I know it will take time to see the glory working all things for good.

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Summer was a beast, and life grew very hard. In late July, we lost Tina, a dear, strong, healthy, vivacious member of our family in Arizona, to the virus. As Tina’s condition worsened, I was at the side of our firstborn son in ICU after his platelets dipped below 20.

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He had been suffering through a life-threatening, rare syndrome caused by an E. coli infection. Toxins in his blood created a nightmarish condition. While his blood could not properly clot, the disease was also busy causing mini blood clots to form and travel to his heart, brain, and kidneys.

Our firstborn a few years ago.

With the pandemic, hospital rules are rigid, and family is not allowed to stay the night in ICU. But I felt compelled to pray over our son through the night as he battled, breathed, and slept. As pouch after precious pouch of donated fresh frozen plasma arrived like hope, I prayed our boy could hang on as we waited for a team to arrive for the first of many plasma exchanges.

Our boy a few days new with my husband.

I wasn’t pushy and said little to the nurse and doctors. But when asked to leave, I removed my glasses, let my eyes lock with theirs, and simply whispered, “I need to be here.”

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What a blessing I was allowed to remain! In spite of my pancreatic illness, I didn’t grow weak or tired. I stayed awake all night in constant contact with my Arizona family by text. My texts were mainly composed prayers for mercy. We sat in the fire, in the house of grief, together, collectively joining our hearts in surrender. It was excruciating.

Our family’s Christmas card a few years back.

Word came in the wee hours that Tina passed away peacefully. A couple of hours later, our son received his first of many plasma pheresis treatments. He remained hospitalized for a week as he began chemo and the challenging journey with a rare blood disorder.

Michele of Hello Lovely Studio holding Bella Luna in her French Country kitchen - Hello Lovely Studio.

As I type these words, five weeks have passed since he was discharged. He is not improving in any linear way as he is still weak and plagued by side effects of steroids. But we are so thankful for the team of doctors and plasma donors who saved him.

My grand-doggie-daughter E.V.

A storm is picking up outside. A lanky Dane-Pitty-Mix rescue named E.V. who belongs to our younger son, is oblivious to the thunder, asleep at my feet at this moment, sighing gently as she dreams.

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What scenes flash through her dreaming mind? I’d like to know. Surely they include sticks, twigs, and branches she lives to gather from our woods when she visits. If I acquiesced, she would sprint to retrieve large vaulted branches, over and over until…well I don’t even know since my experience with creatures this agile and large is limited. I guess until one of us collapsed (and chances are, it would first be me since at 89 pounds with pitiful muscle tone, I am no match).

My grand-doggie-daughter is all mine at the moment since our son is attending a friend’s wedding, and I’m the sitter. She has totally won me over, this shedding love magnet. Oh how she helps me stay in the moment where all the fruit is. I am even looking at the trees with fresh eyes and joy. She teaches us so much about trust and compassion. E.V. models the grace of a loving God who (as Paula D’arcy beautifully articulated) comes disguised as your life.

God comes disguised as your own life - inspirational quote from Paula D'Arcy. #inspirational #quote #spiritual #christianity #faith #encouragement

If you have never conceptualized God in such a way, I highly recommend it. It helps me to allow reality to be reality and somehow live in prayer with less inner resistance. I don’t have to fear what is coming next in life, because I know it will be more God in disguise, ready to prosper me, ready to offer another invitation to learn to love.

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My health seems to be improving in spite of this stormy pandemic summer’s grief. The results of several GI procedures were encouraging in that my Crohn’s is in remission, and my pancreas looks normal. Since I only occasionally drink alcohol, the bouts with pancreatitis (after gallbladder removal two years ago) have been a mystery.

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My painful daily attacks seem to be the result of a rare pancreatic disorder (SOD), and I currently take several prescriptions to manage it. It’s hard to imagine how a tiny muscular pancreatic valve could cause such chaos, but it can. Since my GI doc doesn’t see patients with SOD, I’ll soon see a new specialist for treatment. My weight is low since I can’t tolerate much fat (5 grams at a meal is about my limit). But what a blessing it is after a month of daily attacks, to experience less pain.

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Tina’s body was flown to Chicago, and her beautiful funeral was live-streamed so we could attend virtually. Since our son’s immune system is completely shut down with chemo, we could not and cannot risk bringing home germs or infection as he is in our care. He sees a hematologist weekly, and sometimes the lab numbers look good, and other weeks there is concern.

Glennon Doyle inspirational quote from "Untamed." #glennondoyle #quotes #untamed #inspirationalquotes #strugglequotes #personalgrowth #selfkindness #selfawareness

We can’t see what’s ahead, Can’t know if he will make a full recovery. But because we have learned to trust when we cannot see, we have hope. We have learned to live moment by moment.

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When I reflect on the trials and shadows of July, I can hardly believe the obstacles and assorted sub-dramas in addition to the pandemic that came as Tina and our son fought to live.

I have had three bloody injuries happen at home this summer…oy!

I suffered through painful attacks every single day that could only be prevented with fasting. Three more family members in Arizona had their lives turned upside down when they were diagnosed with Covid. Just before his illness, our son bought his first home, and on the morning of the closing was in so much pain he could not lift his head. With sheer mother strength and supernatural adrenaline, I manually guided him into the car and drove to a bank where a power of attorney document could be notarized so I could represent him for the closing.

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The closing that day came with complications since the home was in foreclosure and sold by the bank. And it fell on the day of my colonoscopy prep so you can probably imagine how fun that day was!

Rumi inspirational quote. #quotes #rumi #sufipoetry #poetry #spiritualjourney #soulquotes #faithquotes

If we had known what the future held, a turn-key property sure would have been nice. But our son smartly purchased a filthy fixer upper disaster with no appliances (at my urging!), oh boy.

The last bits of vinyl flooring in a bathroom getting scraped to make way for something new.

Even though the plan was for the three of us to happily gut and renovate his condo together, it became a labor of love. We have met many neighbors, and one of them, an elderly woman next door, is particularly precious.

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She has just a 15 minute window of memory and is always outdoors walking and collecting fallen leaves from the grass. Each day I see her, she introduces herself as though we have never met. I caught a glimpse of her outside on Saturday, worshiping or praying. Her face was turned toward the sky, her arms lifted with open palms. She has no choice but to remain in the present, and she is a reminder to me that life is good.

You are wonderfully designed - a lovely interpretation of Psalm 139:14 to uplift and inspire. #inspirationalquote #faithquote #scripturequote #bibleverse #chritianity #faith

This week my husband is installing new floors and appliances while I paint and clean. What a day it will be when soon our son can enjoy the “after” of the renovation. And oh what a day when someday he returns to work.

Marble lamb and vintage English crock with roses - Hello Lovely Studio.

Things are still hard, but life is good. I continue to cope daily by surrendering all my cares to the Father. When I do this, my load is lighter, I no longer have to be in control, and suddenly I’m able to see invitations from God to grow. The ground turns holy. Indeed I am staring into eternity and know this chapter is but a blip.

Child in white dress with bare feet dangling from chair - photo by Michele of Hello Lovely Studio. #feet #serene

Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, faith, and presence here on the journey.

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

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White Slipcovered Sofa
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French Lidded Baskets
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Distressed White French Country Chandelier
Antique Chinese Weathered Bench
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Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
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Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Colleen Slope Arm Linen Chair Set
White Ruffle Quilt Set
French Louis Style Arm Chair
Avignon Coat Rack With Hooks
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
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42 Comments

  1. Jenny W
    September 9, 2020 / 6:56 am

    God Bless your Sweet Soul…
    Tears came (and I let them) while reading this very personal post.
    Thank you for sharing your struggles & thank you for the gentle reminder that God is with us, always.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:51 pm

      So grateful to have you here with holy tears. He is such a good Father, and I know the secret to more joy is to see as He sees. So each day, we begin anew to do that imperfectly. Thanks for adding beauty here.

  2. Deb Wostmann
    September 9, 2020 / 9:00 am

    Michele,

    May you, your son, and your entire family find that the Fall brings you health and peace. I’ve been following along and it was nice to get an update. It’s funny, but even though I don’t know you I feel invested in you and your family and pray that all will be well.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:48 pm

      I know just how you feel since I feel as though I know my reader friends. I’m always thinking of you all as I write which is why it is hard to share bad news. Oh, a season of Fall with healing would be so welcome here. Thank you.

  3. Karol
    September 9, 2020 / 9:03 am

    Ah Michele, I am praying for you and your family. You are so strong in the midst of crisis.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:46 pm

      If I am, it is simply flowing from a divine place I have learned to trust. Thank you for propping me up with support and prayers. xox

  4. Sandra
    September 9, 2020 / 10:28 am

    Michele,
    I didn’t know what all was going on in your life. Will be praying for your son and for your family. You are an inspiration to me!

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:45 pm

      I appreciate the prayer so much. Every time I would get ready to type a post about the happenings and grief here, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of causing worry and heartache to kind readers who come here for tranquility. It is indeed a gift to read loving responses from others willing to join me in grief. Thank you.

  5. Mumbai
    September 9, 2020 / 10:46 am

    God in disguise…what a gift when you can realise it. This saying made me again very contemplative what really counts in life and I am sure with this knowledge you will overcome all your current pain and sorrows. There would be too many to explain how you should/can master this situation but you know many words can destroy all good
    feelings and intentions you already have. I wish for you, your son and all other family members the mercy of God
    Best, Rena

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:42 pm

      Yes, I hear you. There are matters that words of analysis and advice simply cannot heal. So I do what I can and then trust the Giver of mercy and the Keeper of my soul. Thank you for your tenderness and blessing.

  6. Amy
    September 9, 2020 / 12:05 pm

    Your faith in our Heavenly Father is such a testimony to all He has done in your life. Praising Him for carrying you and your dear family as you make your way done this road He has placed before you. Thank you for your example of such solid faith in God in the midst of such heartache. I’m trusting all you are going through is for your ultimate good and His glory! His ways are mysterious and yet perfect! Continuing to lift you, your dear son, and your whole family up in prayer.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:37 pm

      So mysterious and so hard to navigate without guidance from the Great Shepherd and maker of our hearts. I’m so thankful to know Him, so grateful for His abiding presence that heals me through and through. Any strength, all of it flows from Living Water. I only want to stay permeable to the flow. Thank you for your encouragement, beautiful soul. I feel so blessed.

  7. Kathysue
    September 9, 2020 / 12:35 pm

    Oh my dear Michele my heart is with you in love and prayers. Your heart is so precious to me my dear friend. Thank you for sharing what God has given you in his good graciousness. In reading this I am reminded once again that when life throws us down on our knees we can look upward and give it to God and he will get us through it. I too am continuing to learn many life’s lessons, the hard ones stick!! Love to you my dear friend and prayers for your family and your sweet boy.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:33 pm

      Your vulnerable heart is so beautiful, Kathy. Thank you for joining me as I know your grief remains fresh. I can’t believe Tina is not with us and keep wanting to wake up from the nightmare of these past few months. What a gift grace is – somehow it arrives to help us put on a new mind in Christ. Thank you for remembering us in prayer – it means so much. xox

  8. Naush
    September 9, 2020 / 12:43 pm

    Michele, I am visiting you for the first time. I’m really sorry that you are going thru such a difficult phase but as I can see, your faith and family love are getting you thru. I pray your son recovers completely. I pray that your health improves as well. Life is fragile but faith keeps us strong. May the Almighty bring you out of your dilemma – Ameen.
    Naush

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:28 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and leave kindness here. My faith has truly kept me centered in humility and love. Moment by moment, more surrender and more YES to receive what reality brings. There are so many struggling like us during this pandemic. Thanks for the prayers and kindness.

  9. Barb
    September 9, 2020 / 1:56 pm

    Blessings to you and your family as you progress through these days. I am so happy you have such strong faith to sustain you and keep you going. It is indeed a blessing. My best wishes are with you and yours.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:22 pm

      So grateful to receive the blessings. What a summer of steady trials and yet God is carrying us through the valley. So much grief, but such great love flowing into us as we stay open.

  10. Margie Mortensen
    September 9, 2020 / 2:09 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing your faith. If only there were more like you. God is in control and knows all about what we are going through. God bless you – love your posts!

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:19 pm

      Thanks for reading and bringing positive energy to a post filled with burdens – I am so glad to have you here.

  11. Sandy
    September 9, 2020 / 5:30 pm

    You do not know me, but I read your blog often and feel like I know you. You are indeed Lovely! You offer so much faith, love and hope. Even in the midst of personal pain. I was drawn to your blog because of beautiful decorating ideas, but I am exposed to the beauty of the human spirit and soul with each post. Thank you. You are an instrument of our precious savior, and are an inspiration to many. You, your son and your family will be in my prayers.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:17 pm

      I hope sharing these glimpses somehow brings hope to others – what a gift to feel supported by souls I may never meet. What ripples! Thank you for adding to the beauty here and blessing me tonight.

  12. theresa kincaid
    September 9, 2020 / 7:02 pm

    Your journey has brought tears to my eyes and love to my heart! God is ever so good! He allows us to share in each others pains and joys. Your Faith is a joy to behold!
    Love and heartfelt prayers sent to you and your family!
    Sister in Christ!

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:15 pm

      So good and the source of all my joy. Thank you for the prayers – we need them and feel strengthened by them. xox

  13. Carolyn
    September 9, 2020 / 7:21 pm

    You are an amazingly strong woman. Bless you.

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:13 pm

      Thank you for the blessing and encouragement – God is so good.

  14. September 9, 2020 / 10:29 pm

    Honestly Michele.
    As I read this post there were so many points where I was speechless and all I wanted to do was sit next to you and hold your hand. Maybe keep you company as you sat next to your son’s hospital bed, not saying a word. Just being there with you and your mother’s heavy heart. Sometimes when I’m at Patrick’s accident site watering the flowers I imagine someone coming up and simply keeping me company. No words really needed but the presence of an deeply empathic heart, brave enough to simply be alongside an anguished mother. That to me, is an extraordinary act of love.
    And I wish i could be there in person for you. What a summer. Please know that I’m keeping your beautiful son in my prayers and sending you all my strength and love. Richard Rohr is right. Suffering will take us right to the edge, and then without warning, we free fall into God’s hands.
    take it from me, sometimes life is better lived moment to moment.
    love you,
    Leslie

    • Michele
      Author
      September 9, 2020 / 11:06 pm

      Your loving presence is welcome here always in any capacity – thank you for your friendship and love, Leslie. How I would love to visit the site with you and water those blooms. You are an inspiration to me, and I am so grateful for your kind words. xox

  15. September 10, 2020 / 7:30 am

    I am praying for all what a very hard time you have had and I am so sorry for your loss

    • Michele
      Author
      September 10, 2020 / 9:09 am

      Thanks, Sherry. So grateful for the support in prayer. xox

  16. September 13, 2020 / 7:40 pm

    Oh my goodness Michelle I had no idea about any of this. I am so sorry, For some reason I am not getting your emails anymore. My thoughts are with you and your family,

    • Michele
      Author
      September 13, 2020 / 9:05 pm

      Thanks, Cindy. I will look into the email subscription. I hate sharing bad news because we don’t want pity or to add more despair. We will emerge stronger from all of this, and you know how tough Chicago girls are. 🙂

  17. Pam
    September 15, 2020 / 7:51 am

    Oh, Michele, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been going through so much suffering. I was wondering about you. Your faith is so palpable and such an inspiration. My son just turned 30 and has been chronically ill for some time, so I really appreciate your strength and attitude. xo

    • Michele
      Author
      September 15, 2020 / 5:58 pm

      Thank you, Pam. I do not enjoy writing about so much heartache, but I do feel a responsibility to update all my friends and followers since I am always asking for prayer and collecting the answers. Peace to you and your son.

  18. September 15, 2020 / 8:51 pm

    Michelle,
    As I read your post, my heart was aching for you and your family. I pray that your son continues to improve and that your health continues to improve. What a summer you have had. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been.
    It is so lovely that you have shared all of this heartache with your fellow bloggers. We love you and wish nothing but the best for you and your family.
    Take care my friend.
    Hugs,
    Bev

    • Michele
      Author
      September 16, 2020 / 12:13 am

      Thank you, Bev. Sending hugs.

  19. Marilyn S.
    September 16, 2020 / 6:51 am

    Dearest Michele- Thank you . Thank you for sharing the raw and the lovely and while exposing your heart. My family is also going through the valley but we also know that even in the valley of the shadow of death …. It’s only a shadow and there can’t be a shadow without light! I’m focusing on the light .

    Thank you dear friend
    Marilyn

    • Michele
      Author
      September 16, 2020 / 6:45 pm

      Oh, that is beautiful! I hope these valley times are short. I’m so sorry to hear that. My thoughts have turned to the psalms so often in the last few months. This latest development has been dark – I will tell you someday since I am only days away from the darkest shadow – but what has been most surprising is my spirit has been free of fear entirely. To the point I can sense others question my mental status. Which is excellent. I am not insane; simply free of fear. I’m being held in prayer and protected from fear as I continually surrender all my cares. What a blessing!

  20. Monica Janovitz
    September 16, 2020 / 7:10 am

    Michelle BIG HUGE hugs to you!!!!!
    Lots of love and prayers to you, your son and your family!
    Love from Argentina

    • Michele
      Author
      September 16, 2020 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you, Argentina! I appreciate you so much for taking the time to send the love and prayers. xox

  21. Julie Briones
    September 18, 2020 / 11:56 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing, Michele. I definitely know more how to pray now for you and your fam. God is good, and you are bringing much glory to Him through your testimony and faith in Him!

    • Michele
      Author
      September 19, 2020 / 4:54 pm

      Thank you for your prayers – I’m so humbled by all who do. He is doing a work in us, and I am witnessing it all imperfectly with awe.

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