Thank you to all of our faithful supporters and encouragers through the years. We
appreciate you so much and are excited to discover what direction Mountain
Haven will be heading as we seek answers, rest, and direction this next year. We will
be taking another year of 2019-2020 to reset and reorient our future after the last year of this health battle. Thank you for standing with us.
MINISTRY AT A GLANCE
Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $2700.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $800.00 Remaining Need: $1900.00
Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month: 1.) Kevin’s melanoma on his back was successfully removed and the margins came back cancer free. 2.) Kevin had a total proctocolectomy and was hospitalized for 5 nights in early April, and has been home recovering, it has been a major surgery with many complications for his recovery, we are working towards a recovery but it’s a long process and he is currently fighting fatigue and infection and further complications. 3.) Kaisha tried out for a play at the Duluth Norshor Theater and got a part in “Much Ado About nothing”, she will have a very busy summer practicing for four weeks every day and performing in August at the Norshor Theater. 4.) Lilliana is competing in a state dance competition at the end of this month and has two numbers she is performing in.
Top Prayer Requests: Pray that surrender to the unknown becomes easier for us rather than pursuit of controlling our futures.
April 2019 Mountain Haven Newsletter
“It’s really hard to understand something when so much rides on you not understanding it.”
Upton St Clair
Happiness is something I don’t understand. How about you? Is it a feeling, an experience, a memory, a scientific neurotransmitter reaction to stimuli, a broad family of emotions spanning from amusement to euphoria? Is it the same as joy? Is it the opposite of sadness? Is it merely a subjective appraisal of life satisfaction and achievements? More importantly, does it matter?
Happiness is elusive and we are all searching for it through relationships, meaning, work, our kids, our financial status, our busy status, our physical appearance, our accomplishments or even our faith and the acts of righteousness we do. We are a world that is constantly spinning on an axis that leans towards the abyss of meaninglessness- or the mountain of triumph. Most often we live balanced precariously on this axis hoping the odds continue to lean towards happiness.
We are all certainly fans of this in our relationships and our lives. We try to cultivate moments of connection, romance, and vitality with our loved one hoping to construct happiness. We love to seek adventure, live our dreams, and be busy pursuing. I know I love to do this, and being a counselor for ten years I advocate date nights, a great sex life, vacations, communication, adventure, passion, education, vulnerability, and connection. But I’ve learned some deep and terrifically hard lessons this year that shocked me. I have built a container or a construct for my love with Kevin, and that construct was “marriage”.
My manmade definition of marriage and relationship that I have created based on social norms, the latest marriage tips, western values of consumerism and wealth, and even religious ideas of marriage. All of the ideals I thought made a marriage rock solid. I guarantee you that none of those included moving across the country and plunging into an 11 month battle with a formidable enemy like Crohn’s disease and watching it ravage my husband like a plague unleashed.
Having been divorced and remarried I think Kevin and I both pretty much felt a sense of pride over the work we did to rebuild, heal, write books, transform, minister, and have more kids after a pretty harrowing and deeply painful divorce. It was good stuff and a great inspirational story. Over the years we navigated Crohn’s disease like it was a pesky fly. But not this year, the fly has mutated into something unimaginable to us both.
The feelings and daily experiences, and planning for the future in the marriage have been put on pause for the job of survival: physical, financial, emotional and spiritual survival. Kevin is the ultimate survivor and a warrior in my eyes; who has lived and fought through so many medical procedures, major surgeries, and catastrophes and yet he still keeps going. I have had to survive the responsibility and day to day wear and tear of living in a place of survival and unexpected, continual loss- all while managing a full time job as a hospice social worker, running two properties, handling our kids schedules, and many, many household responsibilities.
I think we have been merely observers of the merry go round of happiness but somehow we just can’t jump on. For fear of sounding too melodramatic to those that are much stronger than I, it seems like a tragedy punch card and it has endless punches. As a previous trauma therapist, and spending years working with people that are undergoing trauma, I have seen first hand the effects on the brain- and I think somehow I thought I could be immune, but as it turns out I am not. We are not. I have been hyper-vigilant, tearful every day, an insomniac and then a sleeping fool. I feel rage, despair, and I have judged myself and judged Kevin and judged other people all the while trying to maintain a sense of happiness.
I have shifted from wanting to plunge into an abyss of nihilism to ostentatious gestures of friendship toward random strangers on a walk, who seem even remotely interested in me, or at least accidentally make eye contact with me. Kevin has gone from total declarations of faith to paralyzing fear over the next procedure or diagnosis. We have tried to keep the rhythm of life but the sheet music has been thrown away. And like I said, the container that housed my happiness- my relationship construct, my relationship rhythm, my relationship security, and my family construct are currently cracked, broken and weak with a sense of weariness from a broken heart, a broken body, and broken dreams.
I feel worried about being too much for people, I feel fear constantly in my body and that is a terrible feeling. I don’t want to, you must believe me, I don’t want to. I try to take my thoughts captive, to conjure up faith and belief, to act right, say what’s right but I am in a waking dream fest right now. But you know, I think I am in good company when it comes to the uncomfortable feeling about the destruction of the container holding it all together. Look at the old testament destruction of the temple.
I imagine it was a thing of beauty, splendor and magnificence and yet it was destroyed- We got to see that when we went to Israel. Jesus himself talked often about the temple, one example found here, “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2) . Why was there so much destruction? I guess currently my focus is on the time that the building, the temple, or the container was destroyed, how desolate and alone the onlookers felt and what was going on with them. How it must have felt to be a watcher and a victim of this destruction, and wonder at the point of it all? Why was this thing of beauty destroyed? What is it all for?
Previously I had always focused on the happy ending and the newly built temple- gleaming, shining and redeemed- housing the ark of the covenant and the presence of God. The rebuilt, or put back together product, kind of like our shiny new marriage in 1999. But too often I have ignored the ashes and the heap rubble sitting there- ugly, decaying and uninviting after, or during, the destruction. I rushed past them eager to experience another miracle, and everyone around me was eager as well. But not this time, watching Kevin suffer endlessly and seek to regain his strength back; surgery after surgery- and to currently be in a state of delirium and weakness most days just trying to struggle to get his body back under control after the wreckage of this recent total proctocolectomy surgery; I can’t focus on the happy ending. The newly robotic, six million dollar husband I might get, or the new lease on life we might get.
The next vacation, or the latest place to eat. I am working on releasing myself of my illusions of happiness, releasing myself of the image I built of what marriage and family look like. I am fully immersed in what is the now- a hurting, weak, pain riddled, often obtunded husband who feels like a freak. The sweet incredibly intimate moments when we cling to each other and cry and wail, or when he stares straight ahead bound by incredible malaise and fearful that he can’t trust his body. Or the nights we hold hands tightly each knowing the other is whispering a prayer but we are too tired to talk. A life that is very hectic , chaotic , untethered and uncomfortable, but pretty incredible. And friends, there is not a thing I can do about it. So I do a lot of crying with Kevin, and a lot of crying and weeping alone; one minute I’m holding him, waiting and not expecting, the next minute I find myself running like a fool down the road in the shadow of night weeping and trying to out race the shadow, angry at Kevin for absolutely nothing. I walk by the merry go round of happiness and wait in the shadows knowing that has to be enough. We are enough.
Many of you, our loved ones are struggling and fighting the good fight of faith, we want to encourage you to stop fighting so hard to make sense of the journey of faith and the fight for eternal happiness. Perhaps your fight for understanding overshadows what is right beneath your nose. Life in all its full and messy mystery, waiting to surprise you. Waiting to call you to unexpected places of rest, contemplation, change, or sacrifice. Our job is showing up, for ourselves and for others. Sometimes that is all we have. So I challenge you to show up, if not for yourselves show up for someone else. Happiness is waiting. Or is it?