Backhanded by Infertility

Health, Infertility, Spirituality

Yesterday was my birthday, and all the sweet Facebook messages from people I haven’t interacted with since my last birthday made me realize just how lonely I’ve been lately.

For the last few years I’ve developed more and more female problems. Last November, my doctors scheduled a surgery for January that led them to schedule another surgery for April. Based on pathology and radiology results, they believed (incorrectly, it would turn out) that I had ovarian cancer.

I vividly remember the October morning when the Today Show reported on a then-new study that had found infertile women who undergo treatment are 60% more likely to have ovarian cancer. The risk is even higher for the women in that group who never have a live birth, they said.

That report made an impression on me, maybe because it came out on Barren among the Fruitful‘s first anniversary. It left me thinking how unfair it is that women who suffer the physical pain, emotional drain, and financial stress of fertility treatments are then more likely to fight the most fatal of gynecological cancers

For 3 months I thought I was one of those women. My team of gynecologists had me visit a psychologist and scheduled an oncologist to be present at the second surgery. The hospital requested that I update my will and designate a power of attorney. 

David and I didn’t want to tell anyone what was happening until we had definite answers ourselves, but as time went on, circumstances caused us to tell family members and a few close friends. We ended up with about 40 people praying that I would be healed and spared months of chemotherapy.

When David and I spoke with my primary gynecologist about the April surgery’s results, she showed us pictures from the endoscopy and talked for about 10 minutes about the ugliness they had removed from inside me; but she never said, “You have Stage thus-and-such cancer.”

David finally asked her directly, “Does Amanda have cancer?”

“No,” she laughed. “I would have led with that!” 

As she left the room to schedule me for more post-op tests and whatnot, David and I sat in stunned silence for 20 minutes.

I had spent the previous 3 months preparing to be sick. Yes, I had updated our wills, but I had also repointed the house, replaced a toilet, painted my office, replaced the tires on our Subaru, bought a new guest-bedroom mattress, wrote a blog announcing my cancer (at the psychologist’s suggestion), and contracted a company to tear down and rebuild the entire exterior of our house’s 1920 addition. In hindsight, I wasn’t planning to be sick. I was planning to disappear.

In spite of the prayers of our loved ones and an expressed belief in God’s healing power, I never actually thought I’d be cancer free after seeing January’s images and test results. I was hoping to be Stage II or lower and expecting to survive because those same doctors who once told me, “you’re too old to get pregnant,” were now saying, “you’re too young to have ovarian cancer.”

The shock turned into guilt–why had we worried everyone unnecessarily?–and then embarrassment.

I don’t think we had a moment of joy or thankfulness. It was weeks before it occurred to me that maybe God had actually answered all those prayers. Maybe He literally transformed malignant cells into benign cells.

I would argue there is precedence for this; I am not the first woman to endure years of gynecological pain:

Now a certain woman [traditionally called Veronica] had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”

And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” (Mark 5:25-34, NKJV)

Thanksgiving 2017 will mark 4 years since my present physical troubles began. But I don’t have even a third of the faith of Veronica, who endured three times as much pain as I have. And the loneliness, guilt, and embarrassment I’ve felt have been self-induced whereas hers was culturally motivated. I now realize the tragedy of my situation is not the illness itself but the lack of faith that illness has exposed.

The 2 surgeries have not helped–the constant anemia is physically debilitating and socially awkward–and I expect to schedule a final surgery at my appointment in July. Between now and then I won’t be able to literally touch Jesus’ clothes, but I desire to have Veronica’s faith that He will heal me when I reach out to Him.

Fourth-Day Flood (part 3): Tiles and the Tub Man

Health, Restoration

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Wolf in sheep’s clothing: this beautiful, period-appropriate bath renovation hid water damage behind cheap unpainted beadboard and rust under DIY porcelain reglazing.

Maybe the problem was the wall and ceiling color. Both the guest bathroom and the dining room were painted with a drab, flat crimson paint that clashed with everything else in the house…and looked like dried blood.

I see it now: these rooms were ready to make our bank account bleed.

It took 8 months to finish the dining room repairs, and in that time, we still didn’t have a fix for our bathtub.

The first plumber (that genius who had filled the bathtub and reflooded our dining room just “to see what had happened”) said we had a simple problem with seals between the tub and the plumbing. Later when he came to fix it–and the water continued to flow around the pipes after his repair–he informed me that the plumbing was perfect. Instead, we had a hole all the way through the cast iron tub near the drain.

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I don’t do anything halfway. While the tub was in the middle of the room, I removed the vanity, pulled off all the beadboard and moldings, repaired the walls, and tiled floor-to-ceiling.

How do you repair a cast iron tub? I asked around, and the historical society told me about the Bathtub Man. All he does is restore claw foot tubs. It took several weeks to get him out to our house, and when he arrived, he showed me that there was no hole. The problem was the plumbing, not the tub.

So I hired a new plumber–the one the Bathtub Man recommended–and we began 6 more months of imperfect repair after imperfect repair. The plumber would reattach the feet (3 of which had the strange habit of falling off, leaving only 1 foot and the plumbing supporting the tub) and redo the plumbing connections. All would be well for 1 or 2 guests’ showers, and then the feet would slip and fall off again.

As exasperation gripped everyone involved, I decided to call the Bathtub Man back. Armed with more “symptoms,” he was able to diagnose the problem: 3 of the 4 feet did not fit the tub. They looked as if they fit, but they were actually 1/16th of an inch too small. As a result, the combined weight of the tub, water, and an adult would slowly push the feet out from under the tub, breaking the plumbing seals. He could fix it, but it would require welding nickel onto the iron feet to make them the right shape for the tub. (Sounds like a cheap fix, right? Ugh.)

We had a solution, but we also had a deadline. My sister-in-law and her family were going to move in for 3 weeks while they were between houses. I knew there was no way 4 adults and a child could share our master bath for 3 weeks and continue loving one another!

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I went for a classic look: floor-to-ceiling white subway tile with a Carrara marble accent.

The Bathtub Man scheduled the 2-day repair. First he would come out, flip over the tub, take measurements, and take the feet back to his shop for welding. While the tub was upside down in the middle of the room, I would tile. Everything. Second he would return the following week to attach the feet and flip the tub. Then I would hire the plumber to come back and reconnect everything. Easy-peasy!

Hiccup 1: When the Bathtub Man flipped over the tub, we discovered the bottom was covered in rust. Mostly surface rust, but some more serious. The 2005 family who had flipped our house had clearly found this tub somewhere, picked out a few feet that looked good, painted the bottom with (I kid you not!) white Krylon, and reglazed the inside themselves with some DIY product…without bothering to remove the drain cover first. Rust, rust, everywhere. I was told to clean and paint the bottom with marine-grade Rustoleum, and the Bathtub Man adjusted his timeline to include some spot reglazing (we just couldn’t afford to redo the whole thing).

Hiccup 2: It takes a long time to lay over 2,000 tiles. I gave myself a week, but it took me almost 4 weeks AND the help of David and Melinda thanks to volume, unlevel walls and floor, and missing insulation. It’s done, and it’s beautiful. And waterproof! But I reinjured my right rotator cuff (torn way back when I was a swimmer), and it will be many months before the pain, swelling, and tingling subside.

Hiccup 3: The plumber couldn’t come out for more than a week after the rest of the repairs had finished, so our family still had to share the master bathroom for awhile. But we love each other!

a2a51134d42831112e0b9f76e4fb95ba-uncropped_scaled_within_1536_1152The bathroom is still a work in progress. I’ve installed a standing shower (upgraded for my tall brother-in-law!); but I still need to paint the crown molding, change the lighting and mirror so they are proportionate with the 9-foot ceilings, and replace the ridiculous vanity. (The back of it is dry rotted and literally crumbled as I pulled it away from the wall, and the top is poorly-sealed wood that holds water.)  But that will require hiring an electrician and calling out the plumber again…but I’m not ready to wash more blood-money down that tub’s drain just yet!

Fourth-Day Flood (part 2): Baseboards and Brass

Health, Restoration

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For 5 days you couldn’t hear yourself think anywhere in our house as the industrial fans dried out the walls and ceiling space. The effected baseboards were removed to be dried and straightened off-site, but we never saw them again.

If you’ve ever dealt with structural damage–be it from water or termites or what-have-you–then you know that fixing the secondary damage is more costly than eliminating the problem. In the days following the flood, we were led to believe that our biggest headache would be the dining room repair, not the bathroom plumbing itself. (This, of course, would prove incorrect.)

As soon as it started raining from our dining room rafters, I was on the phone with our home warranty company (thoughtfully and thankfully provided by the sellers). Unfortunately, the contractors they provided were worse than worthless. The plumber they made us use recreated the flood the next day, and then declared he could not help because “there might be mold.” The water abatement company they made us hire tried to overcharge us by thousands of dollars and threw away the 110-year-old baseboard moldings they were supposed to dry and straighten off-site. (The baseboards would be the most costly repair: a carpenter had to make a mold and then fabricate them to match the rest of the house.)

The warranty company then refused to pay for ANY repairs; they decided “the plumbing issue was preexisting,” so subsequent damage was not covered by our home warranty. And they didn’t care that it was “their” subcontractors who caused the most expensive damage after the initial flood.

There we were–just one week after moving into our house–with a huge hole in our ceiling, no baseboards, a nonfunctioning guest bathroom, and mounting bills. And so our house remained for 8 months, until we were able to hire carpenters and painters.

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For 5 days you couldn’t hear yourself think anywhere in our house as the industrial fans dried out the walls and ceiling space. The effected baseboards were removed to be dried and straightened off-site, but we never saw them again.

Finally it was time to have some fun! I chose grey-and-teal thermal draperies for the dining room windows then coordinated the room’s paint colors. My mother (and probably everyone else) thought I was crazy when I decided I’d be painting my ceiling teal. Grey walls, teal ceiling, white trim. This was a bold choice because the room can be seen from most angles downstairs.

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It took me hours to polish each piece, but the results are gorgeous. I love how the tarnish remains in the tiny crevices and adds dimension to the pattern, as it does in my equally beloved sterlingware.

Less controversial, but equally impactful to my detail-oriented eye, is my continuing restoration of the room’s hardware. This house is FULL of solid brass, unlacquered hardware–door knobs, casement hinges, window latches, you name it!–that have been covered with paint over the decades.

Until we moved here, I was a vocal brass hater. In our first house, I spent years slowly replacing every monkey-metal doorknob, hinge, and faucet with brushed-nickel fixtures. That cheap yellow metal they produce these days makes me cringe and “colored” my impression of brass. But I’ve done a 180. It thrills my soul that these solid metal beauties are hiding under sloppy DIY projects waiting for me to, quite literally, make them shine again.

I acknowledge that I am strange. I paint ceilings teal, and I LOVE polishing. In college we AOIIs would clean the house once per month, and I was the only person who wanted silver duty. Back then I did it all by hand; this time I had help.

A few weeks before I started this polishing project, David and I bought a nail grinder for Copper that is made by Dremel. I soon realized that the nail grinder could accept almost any Dremel accessory–including polishing wheels! I burned through 30 polishing wheels getting the dining room hardware clean, but the result is worth the time, effort, and cost.

So at the 8-month mark, we had our dining room back. But the upstairs bathroom? Still out of commission with undiagnosed bathtub problems…

Fourth-Day Flood (part 1): the 10,000-foot Perspective

Health, Restoration
Once the ceiling panels were down, it became obvious that this had been a long-standing problem. Boards had water stains, a beam was rotting out, and the upstairs floor was being supported by scrap wood.

Last fall when I wrote about my Hobbit Bath upgrade, I thought I was nearly done with the plumbing issues in our upstairs bathroom–and therefore nearly ready to write a post (or 3) about them.

I was wrong.

Here’s the summary story: Four days after we moved into our 1900s new-to-us home, my best friend had the audacity to take a bath following a day of helping us unpack boxes. When she pulled the plug in the upstairs claw-foot tub, 50 gallons of water flowed around the plumbing, filled the space between the upstairs floor and downstairs ceiling, and rained from the dining room’s coffers for 6 hours.

Sadly our disaster was declared a preexisting condition (in spite of our “clean” home inspection prior to purchase and a joke-of-a-home-warranty), so David and I were left to do several-thousand-dollars-worth of water abatement and repairs. We had no choice…if we wanted to retain our homeowners’ insurance. Ugh.

To summarize a sixteen-month-long investigation: the people who had renovated our house in 2005 did a lot of DIY. Three of the four necessary feet on the claw-foot tub did not fit the tub. So every time the tub filled with water, the feet slipped out from underneath it, cracking the plumbing seals. Then water would flow along the easiest path (around the then-detached plumbing instead of through it) into the ceiling space and destroy the dining room below.

I’m a big fan of silver linings, so in advance of this series of posts I’ll admit that I’m happy with the cosmetic results. The dining room had professional repairs (meaning I got to have a hideous dried-blood-red dining room repainted by not-me) that have since informed my house’s entire decor. The guest bathroom also had professional repairs, in addition to the Amanda-and-David upgrades (it is now waterproof thanks to over 2,000 tiles!).

Stay tuned to read the horror stories and see the beautiful results…

Freeing Our Front Door

Health, Restoration
Most of the surfaces in the house need to be stripped–they either have old lead paint or one coat of latex sloppily applied before the flippers put the house on the market. Next time I’ll invest in a heat gun instead of chemicals.

Christmas is around the corner, and I’m ready to decorate. I always start with the “outdoor” decorations, which for us are mostly located indoors. I’m that boring person who likes a single candle in each window, a big beautiful wreath on the front door, and not much else. Simple, but appropriate for our 110-year-old red-brick American Foursquare with 48 wavy-glass, wood windows. (Yes, 48 windows. And they all need to be restored and covered by storms before they rot away!)

I noticed this summer that our front door (and back door and basement door and carriage house doors) needed some attention. It had been painted green about 10 years ago, and that paint was failing. I could see layers of other paint beneath the green, and I knew I needed to strip the door for new paint to adhere well and look nice.

I’m getting pretty good at stripping paint. My first project here was restoring a transom window that hangs between our kitchen and mudroom, and it gave me lots of practice with different types of stripping solutions. Based on my window experience, I thought I could strip the front door in about 1 week. It took 3. There were 7 layers of latex paint, lead paint, and stain to dissolve and scrape before I finally hit wood.

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The restored door reveals the original wood details, wavy glass, and door knob plus a new unlacquered brass kickplate…and security system decal.

I almost stopped a million times. As each layer fell in sticky clumps on the drop cloth, I’d stand back and consider if the door was good enough to get some fresh paint. It never was good enough, and I’m so glad I didn’t settle. Because I was shocked to discover this door is solid mahogany, and it deserves to be admired every time it opens and closes.

I used marine-grade urethane and a gel stain that matches the color of the interior pocket doors. It’s dark and rich and only took 4 coats to heal and seal the wood. (Stripping is not a gentle process, especially when you’re working on a vertical surface).

I finished the project by affixing an unlacquered brass kickplate to the bottom of the door, replacing the hinges, and polishing the doorknob and backplates. But all that shiny stuff doesn’t compete with the wood door’s tiny dental molding, wavy glass, and intricate woodgrain. The result is beyond my expectations.

I almost wish I hadn’t ordered that wreath. The door it will cover deserves all the attention this year!

The Other Pink Ribbon

Health, Infertility

Have you heard? October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

As too many women do, I have a significant family history of breast cancer. I even had my own breast-cancer scare a couple of years ago that mercifully ended with a negative biopsy.

I am thankful for the incredible strides researchers and doctors have made in breast cancer research. The disease’s national platform developed by charities, survivors, broadcasters, and NFL players’ shoes has no doubt aided those strides. There are marketing geniuses working for the breast cancer nonprofits…

…and I want to steal them to work for the other pink (and blue) ribbon of October.

What will it take for the infertility epidemic in this country to receive the kind of attention that other ribbon-causes get? Why aren’t these numbers alarming?

  • 40% of women currently in their twenties will suffer some form of infertility.
  • 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
  • 0% of fertility treatments are covered by National health insurance programs.

Infertility is on the rise (for myriad reasons), costs of treatment are on the rise, marriages are breaking up, people are suffering; but no one besides the patients and their loved ones and doctors seems to care.

When will this get consistent national attention?

I observe that the only time infertility gets a soundbite on the news is when a celebrity confesses her (or his) struggle with it. But once that person has successfully started a family, the disease is never mentioned again. Do we all stop caring about other families as soon as our own medical procedure works or the long-awaited adoption comes through?

I want America’s population to know that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I want people to care more about the dying babies and the families who lose them or can’t create them, than they care about a woman’s right to prevent (with birth control) or kill (with abortions) those babies.

Oh, and how’s this for irony:

All those lumps in my breast were likely caused by years of hormone-based fertility treatments. Turns out the pain of infertility can return years after the treatments have ended.

Small Room, Big Project

Health, Restoration

If you read Monday’s post, it’s possible you think I’ve been hiding under my covers for 4 months snuggling Copper. There was some of that, sure. But my primary coping mechanism in almost any situation is physical productivity. That’s probably because it gives me (1) the grand illusion that I have control and (2) the satisfaction of a job well done.

Back in January we moved from Denver to Chattanooga, and we bought a 100-year-old arts-and-crafts home. It was renovated “to the studs” about 10 years ago, but a LOT of what you can see was slapped together. Window moldings aren’t joined properly; nothing is caulked; paint combinations are atrocious; there is bead board and flat paint everywhere. I knew all this when we bought it. I thought, Sanding, painting, staining–I can do all of that. I’d like to do all of that!

But of course, every little project I’ve started has ended up taking about 5-times longer than it should have due to corners cut by the flippers. Here’s one of those stories:

The Hobbit Bathroom

If you’re over 6’1″ tall, you can forget standing up straight in here. Our below-the-stairs half-bathroom comes by it’s nickname honestly.

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Before

As I was working on the upstairs bathroom (a project that has been in progress since February and deserves a series of blog posts all its own), I thought, While I have the paint out, I’ll go ahead and hit the walls in the Hobbit bath.

It shouldn’t have taken more than an hour because the room is so small. As far as I could see, the only problems in the Hobbit bath were on the walls. The renovators had used flat paint, so years of hand washing at the pedestal sink had put water stains all over that wall. Yuck.

But as I took down the hardware and plastered over old nail holes, I realized there was a reason flat paint had been used. Flat paint hides imperfections, and these walls were full of imperfections. No one had bothered to sand and smooth the new drywall after it was installed. One coat of flat paint had been slapped directly over the lumps and bumps of mudded tape and gritty drywall dust.

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I spent an entire day sanding then washing the walls. Next I primed the whole room, including the ceiling. I had not sanded the ceiling because it looked okay aside from the hairspray on it. Primer would cover the hairspray, right?

Little-known fact: hairspray + Kilz = crackle-plaster. With one roll of primer I had the ugliest textured ceiling you could imagine. It took David’s strength to sand that mess and the rest of the ceiling before I could finally paint.

Whenever David gets involved in a project, it’s a safe bet that expectations will rise. During an ill-planned trip to Lowe’s the weekend of this disaster, he decided I should tile the wet wall behind the sink. Who was I to say no?

So my 1-hour project became a 4-day project, and I’ve had a total work stoppage on the upstairs bathroom. But the results speak for themselves, and I now have the confidence to tile the entire upstairs bathroom.

I figure that will take me a week, so I better reserve a month!

New Year, New Commitment…to Healthy Food

Health, Spirituality

This morning I was flipping through the hotel TV channels. We live in Eastern time now, so the shows I was used to listening to in Denver after David left for work weren’t on yet. But 7 (yes, 7!) “Christian” shows were. You know the ones–someone is sitting behind a desk talking to no one, and there isn’t an HD camera in sight.

On two different channels I heard something along the lines of, “Paul said that our bodies are temples for God, so we must eat ‘right’ to honor Him. Commit to be healthier this year so you are ‘right’ with God!” Both times I rolled my eyes and kept clicking. Why? Because those so-called Bible teachers read one verse:

Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who comes from God and dwells inside of you? You do not own yourself. (1 Corinthians 6:19, The Voice)

and completely ignored its context:

Don’t you realize that your bodies are members of the Anointed One? So should I take the members of the Anointed One and unite them to a prostitute? This illicit union should never take place! Don’t you understand that when your body is joined with a prostitute, the two of you have become one body? For as it says, “The two come together as one flesh.” But when you are joined with the Lord, you become one spirit with Him. Run from immoral behavior. All other sins are disconnected from the body, but sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who comes from God and dwells inside of you? You do not own yourself. You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God! (1 Corinthians 6:15-20, The Voice).

In this section of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is explaining to his readers that God’s grace does not exempt them from living holy lives. Christians cannot do with their bodies what their pagan neighbors do and still expect to have a spiritual union with the Holy Spirit. Paul gives two examples of detrimental behavior: eating food that has been sacrificed before pagan gods, and having sex with temple prostitutes. God will not share His temple (us) with other gods.

So you see, to boil Paul’s words down to a law requiring us all to be Size 2 misses the much bigger point and borders on heretical teaching.

Thankfully I don’t need a TV Bible teacher to tell me how important it is that I eat right and exercise. I want to be as healthy as I can be, so that I am ready to be a tool of God when He wants to use me.

This year, in this new city, I am committing to cooking healthier meals than we ate in Denver. I also commit to exercising each morning.

There’s nothing on TV that early anyway.

Cleaner Air for a Healthier Home

Health

I’ve had pneumonia since Memorial Day. Yuck. It started with an allergy attack in Nashville and was exacerbated by weeks of a moldy laundry room and open windows courtesy of a broken A/C and apathetic owner.

One day I’d had enough of the misery…and maybe I remembered my mother-in-law was coming to visit that weekend. I violated doctors’ orders, pulled out our vacuum, and went to town on every soft surface in the condo. (I did leave the mold clean-up for the professionals.) David was even amazed at how much better the place felt once I’d de-dusted it.

Then my Hoover bit the dust. I got online and found an amazing deal on a vacuum and 11 attachments. So amazing that the warehouse backordered it and took 5 weeks to send it to me.

This is a glorious time of year in Denver. Unlike in the miserable dusty summer, you want to have all your windows open 24 hours per day and never run your A/C. There are no bugs or humidity, but I still see a layer of dust on our floors every few days.

Attachments…glorious attachments!

I survived that time with wet mops and lots of Method All-Purpose Cleaner. I’m almost out of my Method stuff, but I won’t be reordering it. My new vacuum was worth the wait. I can now vacuum everything: furniture, upholstery, carpets, underneath appliances. I’m in dust-free heaven! I can breathe so much better, I won’t be spending money on as many cleaning products, and there are no more botanical smells (be they natural or artificial) filling the air. (David hates all things lavender, weirdo.) Our condo is about as close to nature as I can get it, and my pneumonia is nearly gone.

Even if you only use vinegar and lemons to clean your kitchen, your home is still permeated with chemicals. Name a building material—any building material—drywall, flame-retardant insulation, plastic plumbing, caulking. They all contain toxic chemicals, but who would want to live in a house without them?

As I see it, the only way to have the perfect environment for conception is to row your own wooden boat to a deserted island, where you cut down your own trees to build your hut and decorate your living room with coconut shells and palm fronds. There you can eat only wild-grown fruit and wild-caught fish while drinking only water from a natural stream. It’s a wonder children are conceived anywhere on earth besides the set of Survivor” (Haley, Barren among the Fruitful, 60).

David and I have stopped trying to have children, but we haven’t stopped trying to improve our health. Yes, the new vacuuming regimen takes a little bit longer than the old-fashioned polish-and-rag routine, but I get significantly better and longer-lasting results. It will even save us money in the long run–fewer chemical cleaners and (hopefully) fewer trips to the doctor.

Unconditional Praise

Community, Health

I couldn’t sleep last night. This isn’t anything new. I’ve been fighting pneumonia since Memorial Day, and I recently finished more drugs to treat strep throat. Going to bed means coughing, popping ears, and tons of pressure building in my nasal passages. We’ve all experienced this; it just isn’t any fun.

But the usual discomfort wasn’t keeping me awake last night. Shortly after my David was snoring (he’s been sick, too, poor thing), I slipped out of bed and went to sit on the deck to pray. Out there I could watch the clouds pass by, enjoy the breeze that wasn’t blowing into our open windows, and talk to God. I felt that He was keeping me awake for this purpose.

This morning–as I write this, in fact–someone I love dearly is ending a six-year battle with powers beyond his control. He’s the kind of person who would do anything for you. He makes a practice of sacrificing himself, and the lives of his children are undoubtedly the fruit of his devotion to God. He isn’t perfect: he screams at traffic and hates to exercise and teases me mercilessly about the coincidence that I moved to Colorado the same month that marijuana did.

No one who knows him can understand why he’s suffered these last six years. He’s in a place, at this moment, where only God’s divine intervention can save him. Pondering this last night, I remembered what one of my friends wrote for my book. Regarding a risky pregnancy, she had said to God, “This is Your chance for a miracle. You can do this now, and we will proclaim this is Your miracle. No doctor can take credit. If You don’t, then that’s okay.” The circumstances are different, but my prayer was basically the same: “If You save him tomorrow, then everyone will know it was You and everyone will praise You.”

“Shouldn’t you praise Me anyway?”

God, as I worshiped You last night, so will I worship and praise You regardless of today’s outcome. You have a perfect plan that is designed to carry out Your ultimate will: that all will know You as God and be saved by Your sacrifice of Jesus. I don’t understand the parts of Your plan, but I trust that You know best and act as necessary to bring about Your will. And I thank You for sometimes letting me be a small part of that plan, even when it is painful.