Checkpoint Charlie



I attended the funeral of a sister to a dear friend this morning.  The service was held in Kleinfeltersville, my home town.  As we entered the parking lot, we took note that it was a full house, and I smiled, sadly-remembering 15 years ago-when we buried my best friend, Barbie.  Today was about celebrating the life of Fran Compenhaver, who also happened to be Barbie’s sister.  I had never met her, but I am rather close to her family, in a myriad of ways.

Inspecting my latest tick bite, I shook my head, disgusted.   I cried out to God-what now?  I cannot continue on these antibiotics-they aren’t good for our kidneys and extended use can be extremely dangerous.  I had literally just finished the Doxycycline, and the fatigue, migraine and fever all screamed their bloody heads off-telling me that I had to do something different-after five years of going round and round with Lyme disease?  I knew I had to get truly serious and begin some research.

As I read, my mouth remained open to the point that saliva slid from the corner of my lips.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading:

From a Lyme disease specialist:  …so, antibiotics simply do not work in killing the spirochete that causes the disease itself.

“Craptastic,” I mutter, as my anxiety mounts to the point of near hysteria.

The article went on to say that even extended doses of doxy do not cure the disease: they kill the bacteria, yes, causing symptoms to recede, if not vanish completely.  Yet the spirochete remains, causing reoccurring and chronic Lyme.

ok, what the shit am I going to do?

I had made an appointment with a rheumatologist for October.  My physician may mean well, but he didn’t diagnose (let alone look  at my tender and swollen Lymph node) me.  I diagnosed myself six months later, when my husband and I burst into the practice the day after Christmas, 2013.  Luckily, I didn’t see my regular physician, this time a woman; a compassionate, understanding, well educated woman.

“I believe I have Lyme disease (I was drenching in sweat, wearing my tattered bathrobe-hadn’t even tried to comb my hair, and as the good doctor took note, was white as a ghost) please give me 30 days of Doxycycline and we’re done here.”  I ended up having to go for an ultrasound-the lymph node was now the size of a grapefruit; then a uterine biopsy, and then two years of normalcy, energy and strength.

Back to this morning.  My mouth was slack jaw because of the next few words:

In short, Stevia cures Lyme by killing the spirochete.  Here is the link to the article:

STEVIA?  Why, I had a Stevia plant in my garden.  I promptly ran out and picked the biggest leaf I could find, and swallowed the sweetness…and here’s where it gets good.  I had been feeling absolutely awful for a week.  As I sat in Dwain’s truck I did inventory.  I wasn’t stuffed up, my headache abated, lost energy returned and my mood improved dramatically…and the best part?  Seven days.  A leaf of Stevia for seven days.

This is how Jesus leads us, but we need to pray for ourselves as well.

Ask and you shall receive.

As we left the service, in which we reunited with dozens of friends we hadn’t seen since my recovery.  We were the partiers, the click, the druggies and the hippies.  We rocked Kleinfeltersville, shook it up a bit, got ourselves some reputations.  And here we were, together again-but this time complaining about aches and pains, sharing doctor’s numbers and hearing about other losses of which we had not a clue.

And as the crowd prepared to descend on the K-ville Hotel (our collective bar of choice) Dwain took my hand.  We walked in the other direction, somewhat stoic, older and wiser.

In loving memory

Barbie, you were with us today, and I know that with every fiber of my being~

Barbara Ann Shipper

Please don’t take one another for granted, not even for a second.

Only God knows for whom the bell tolls.



When Doves Cry…


As I have mentioned before, I am prone to seeing, smelling and hearing things that other people do not.  The sensitivity began when I quit using, and the phenomenon grew the stronger my faith.  I have asked God for this gift, or at least the honing of it-I want the Holy Spirit to guide me in each and every way.  This is profound for me-a woman who suffered a great deal of trauma and anxiety, leading to CPTSD-let’s just say there is no way I wouldn’t be in a straight jacket if not for my precious Jesus.

There is a lovely pair of doves who frequent our yard.  I see them on the barn roof, telephone wire, and most recently?  On a bottle of perfume.  Let me explain:

For the past two years, in which I have become one with nature (or at least more observant) my very best thinking/praying is done out in Mother Nature.  My gratitude runs deep, as I know God put me here, out in the ethereal mountains of Central Pennsylvania.  No, I did not appreciate the raw beauty, nor the quaint ways of the Amish.   I was blind to everything when I self-medicated.  I try not to dwell on the years I have lost.  

The doves, crap.  Okay, well I have come to think of these particular lovebirds to be my mother and father.  They greet me knowingly, bringing with them comfort and a deep peace.  My mother wore L’eur de Temps perfume.  I go for the woodsy, sweet types of spritz.  Grace, Tabu, Channel No. 5, Obsession.  I bought a bottle of her favorite to remind me of her, and remind me it does.

One afternoon, I could smell the aroma of my mother.   The scent of L’eur de Temps thickened the air, in a pleasing, soothing way.  Now, I have only used this scent a very few times.  It smelled wonderful on Mary Lou, but not so much on me.  I would smell the bottle often, and immediately I was with her, all those years ago.  I took the bottle and looked it over, but this time?  I studied it.  I was shocked to see the bottle near empty, as I said I used it rarely.

“Could it be?,” I said out loud to myself.

And as I gazed at the glass bottle, I let out a sound of alarm combined with awe:  right there they were, so delicate-two doves, floating weightlessly, hopelessly in love~


There’s Something About Mary


I asked for a song, and the Holy Spirit gave me this beautiful aria-always a personal favorite.  I love it with or without the words, and my mother so adored it that it was sung at her funeral service-and ever since the day we said farewell, this song has moved me to tears.

I don’t speak of mom often, but that may be changing.  After some hairy and downright scary few years of being at each other’s throats; she suffered a personality disorder, the same one her mother suffered from.  There were narcissistic tendencies, and I was the Scapegoat of the family.  The worst years were high school through Villanova, and I stewed about this for years.  Therapist after therapist would listen, but no one diagnosed me until I moved out here, to Lancaster County.  I was working for an incredibly uptight (jackass) judge, had been in a wheelchair for months after being hit by a Harley.  I was left for dead in the middle of Route 897-if not for the kindness of a young Amish man (who went for help), I would have been killed on that dark, country road.  I was drinking that evening.  An argument with my husband ensued, I made him stop the truck.  You can figure the rest.

Shortly after my recovery, there was a triple murder in our small town of Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania.  I was suffering from severe anxiety at the time, had just returned to work.  When I picked up the Sunday paper, I screamed.  Bloody.  Murder.  The lunatic who shot three people was a friend of ours.  The bodies were found underneath the K-Ville Hotel.  The victims were made to dig their own graves.

As of that morning, I didn’t leave my house for an entire month.  The secretaries at the courthouse were furious with me.  I had been absent more than present, for pretty much the entire time I worked there.  Finally, at the request of my husband, I sought professional therapy.

“You have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It began because of your mother’s abuse, and worsened after the accident and murders. I suggest you remain in sessions for the foreseeable future.”

The minute the words “your mother abused you” came out of his mouth?  I was pissed.  She had not!  Why would he say such a thing?

It took me years to process this information.  I was young and entitled, not yet on my Christian journey.  I drank to ease the pain of awareness.  I drank until I threatened my husband with a knife-over a bottle of wine.  That was it for me.  I went to church, and often.  I was still drinking and drugging when I began; but I tried to get to a service each Sunday, depending on how bad the hangover.  Eleven years and quite a few slips later, I have an established love for Jesus, who has been my rock through everything.

In a new church, I learned about true forgiveness.  I learned about love, and grace.  My spiritual journey took me to places I never thought I would be-I had no hopes for the future, no positivity, and zero self esteem.  All of that has changed, and not because of my own effort.  I give the glory to Abba when I think of the changes that have brightened my life.  Self esteem.  Joy.  Creativity.  Love.

I forgave my mother somewhere in between realizing how lucky we were to have her, and as the days go by I often feel terrible remorse for my actions; I was no angel, I had a hot Irish temper and a CHIP on my shoulder.

If you can’t forgive because you should, forgive because it heals your soul.  With forgiveness comes freedom, only then will the chains of anger, self pity and resentment-only then will they be broken.