Wednesday, November 7, 2018


“And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean." But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
2 Kings 5:10-14 ESV

When we embarked on this health journey into our infertility issues, my husband would often remind me of Naaman's story. “We are dipping in the Jordan” he would tell me. This came to be a twofold reminder to both of us as we walk this road and a quick way to refocus when we are discouraged.

First, it is a reminder that there were no shortcuts. Naaman had to dip seven times. Not three, not We knew this would be a long journey, not a short walk in the park. So each time there was a new task to complete? “We're dipping in the Jordan.” When we had to learn Creighton Model fertility tracking for 2 months before we could get an appointment at Pope Paul VI Institute? “We're dipping in the Jordan.” Driving up to Omaha six days straight for ultrasounds? Three weeks of getting blood drawn every other day? Diagnostic laparoscopic surgery? You guessed it, dipping in the Jordan.

However, to me, it also became a reminder of God's plan. You see, this wasn't how Naaman thought he should be healed. He thought he would at least see Elisha face-to-face. He complained that there were far superior rivers elsewhere, so why this one? And I get it. This was not how I thought our journey to become parents again would be. I never imagined difficulty and loss at every turn. I never planned to have kids this far apart. I never imagined I'd only have one precious little one for so long. Let's admit it: I, like Naaman, thought God should answer my requests the way I wanted it.

And, yet, God is good. Without our “Jordan” experiences, we wouldn't have the answers that we do today. If there were no “Jordan”, we'd still be looking at quick-fix “solutions” that didn't address any of the underlying problems. And, oh boy, are there problems...

On October 11th, I had my diagnostic laparoscopic surgery as the final step in our diagnostic testing with Pope Paul. Then, on Monday October 15th, we met with my doctor to discuss all the testing I'd undergone and her findings. What she found… Well, I was surprised, to say the least.

Severe endometriosis and polycystic ovaries.

Now, we'd expected to find some endo and she had talked about, if it was minor, she would simply take care of it during the diagnostic surgery. But the amount and the locations where she found it mean that we will be scheduling a second, all-day surgery that includes a second, general surgeon probably sometime in late January. So here's the litany of procedures I will need during that surgery to address all the problems we found:

0. Uterine fibroid removal (only one, super simple, almost not worth mentioning)

1. Endometriosis removal from uterus and bladder

2. Appendectomy

3. Ovarian Wedge Resection (addresses polycystic ovaries)

4. Pelvioplasty- the only procedure insurance will not cover. They will wrap things in Gortex to prevent scar tissue and adhesions from forming. This covering will then be removed 10 days after surgery via another quick laparoscopic procedure.

5. The doozy...Bowel Resection- in order to completely remove the endo, they will need to resection part of my small intestine. This will require a general surgeon and 2 nights in the hospital following surgery.

So here we stand on the banks of the Jordan again, preparing ourselves for the path God has laid out for us, unsure of how many more times we will enter the river. But while we may not yet know the outcome of this journey, we trust in the One who does. He knows the path ahead because He has prepared it for us and us for it. God is in control so we dip in the Jordan, trusting Him for the outcome. He's not finished with us yet.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Six Years

This September, we celebrated six years of living in Nebraska! I love Nebraska. This is where we've spent the majority of our married lives so far. This is where my son was born, where I became first a stay-at-home wife then a stay-at-home Momma. We bought our first house here and made it a home. We've made friends and walked through pretty much every major life-changing event with them from weddings to births to funerals. I have really loved living in Nebraska.

But… (you knew it was coming, didn't you?)

We won't make it to 7 years. God (and GSK) has seen fit to open the door for us to relocate for Dan's job. Where you may ask?

New Jersey.

Or at least that's where Dan's office will be. God has a sense of humor because this was one state I told my husband where I didn't really want to live. I guess I've been spoiled by the slower pace of life in the cornhusker state. ;) Nevertheless, this is where our next adventure is heading.

Thankfully, we have time. With Munchkin's school year and especially the medical testing and surgeries I've been undergoing, the company is giving us some leniency in the timing of our move. We're looking at a late spring 2019 date as our departure time frame which gives us ~6-7 months right now, give or take.

So we're forming our bucket list for Nebraska alongside our to-do list for New Jersey. One of the things that's been hard for me to process is that we've already had so many “lasts” here in Nebraska and didn't even realize it. And now that I can realize it, I'm an emotional mess as we continue to experience more “lasts”.

We have truly enjoyed our time calling Nebraska “home”. We will always carry a piece of it with us, no matter where we may end up. And we will certainly always carry our friendships and the people we've met in our hearts. Thank you for being a part of our journey and this chapter of our story.

Here's to the next chapter and more adventures!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Those who know Dan and I know that we both have a science background. When we're tackling a problem, we love having more data. Last week, we received a rather interesting look at another piece of our infertility puzzle.

For years, I've told people that I'm overall pretty healthy with the exception of being overweight. Yes, I was tired almost as soon as I woke up, plucked wiry stray hairs off my chin and neck occasionally, still dealt with acne in my 30’s, but I thought this was my normal. But what if it's not?

We won't be able to discuss it with the doctor until our comprehensive management review post-op appointment in mid-October, but the office sent us a copy of my blood test results from the National Hormone Lab. It was eye-opening to say the least.

Very few of my hormones are actually within the normal range, most of them are too low, one of them is too high. In my assessment, it will probably explain a good chunk of our fertility issues but there's more. You see, this isn't “normal”. My life, my health? Not normal. I cried thinking about it, looking at those results, but maybe not for the reason you're thinking.

I cried because it gave me HOPE.

The way I've felt for years, that I thought was normal? It's not normal! And… What if? What would life be like if those numbers were in a normal range? How much better might I feel than I do now? How life-changing might this be, not just on our infertility journey, but overall?

The final step before an official diagnosis and forming a treatment plan is my diagnostic laparoscopy on Thursday, October 11th. We will then meet with our doctor the following Monday where we might finally get answers we've been looking for all these months and years.

So I'm holding on to the hope that God has given me in the midst of all this. And not only the hope for another baby anymore (though of course I still do), but also the hope of better health. For while my body bears the evidence of sin and the Fall and will never be perfect this side of eternity, I know the Great Physician can still accomplish His Will in spite of whatever my circumstances may be.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Friday, September 7, 2018

Thoughts on Masterpiece Cake Shop

As I was reading once again about the intersection between anti-discrimination laws, free exercise of religion, and freedom of speech publicized by the back and forth between Masterpiece Cake Shop, some of its potential customers, and the State of Colorado; I was reminded of something that Jesus once said.

Matthew 5:38-6:6
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
I will not be thinking about this issue from the perspective of law, or our American definition of freedom of religion or speech…but from the perspective of our God’s expectations. Jesus lays out some world inverting thoughts here in his Sermon on the Mount. Our knowledge of how God ordered the world, and his definition of good and evil, allows us to live as God intended, which is a great blessing. We are doubly blessed to live in a community that uses many of these definitions in our government; thereby ensuring a more just government than most places in the world.

But what happens when our community doesn’t share those definitions? How do we respond when our neighbors or the government want to punish us for living according to God’s definitions? Do we declare those who would persecute us the enemy and hate them? Do we try to force them to our views and refuse to conduct business with those who don’t comply?

Jesus has an answer for this in the above passage. Do not resist.

I’ll repeat it because it probably didn’t sink it. Do not resist. Offer your other cheek to be abused. Let the person suing you take MORE than he asks. Give of your time and effort twice what is demanded of you. Don’t refuse to provide resources.

“But wait a minute!”, I hear you say. Aren’t we supposed to be the light of the world? Aren’t we supposed to be showing the world the TRUTH? How can we let them declare that what is EVIL is actually GOOD without resisting them? How can we allow obviously evil people to use our government to force us to personally sacrifice for them?

And yet, Jesus said, “Do not resist.” And not only that, he said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

Here, I’ll close that jaw for you.

This is not what we want to do, and is not what the ‘conservative American christian’ thinks is appropriate. We must ‘win’ the culture war, or so I’m told. But what does ‘winning’ mean? Are we really sure that Jesus’ words here are applicable to the cake shop situation? Someone actively trying to troll me into working and producing product that I know will be used to celebrate evil is something that I must resist, right?

First, let’s examine what Jesus says in his discourse. “...and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles…” I am told that the occupying Roman army could force anyone to carry their equipment for a mile. This would apply on the Sabbath or at any time. Let’s look at that Sabbath case, as I think it has interesting parallels to the Cake debate. Carrying that pack on the day of rest would be a clear violation of the law. It would be a visible and clear celebration of the Roman occupation of the Holy Land. And yet, Jesus says to go twice the distance. Not to do it grudgingly but to go into territory that other Jews would say was collaboration with the enemy. How could this be justifiable?

What is the purpose of the Sabbath? Jesus himself worked on the Sabbath to perform healings, yet his most important healings did not concern the physical body. They concern the healing of the relationship between sinners and God. Jesus came not for the righteous, but for sinners. On several occasions, he entered cities and stayed with the most notorious criminals in town. He was especially noted for being the companion of sexual sinners. It would seem that he actually loved his enemies, and prayed for those who would and did persecute him. 

To Jesus, establishing and displaying the power of the gospel was more important than the appearance of righteousness. We are told that the best way to encourage righteousness is to criminalize unrighteousness. We are told that we must shun the sinner and punish them so that they will learn the truth. But Jesus gives us a different way. He says that if we only love those who love us…we are no better than the rest of the sinners. If we are to be ‘sons of your Father in heaven’, then we must behave as he behaved towards our persecutors.

But why is this important?

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them…” Our behavior is often motivated by a desire to be seen as righteous. We take great pains to ensure that our public life is that of a righteous person. But how often is it our righteous image that calls people to repentance? Is our following of the law the path to other people’s salvation? Obviously not.

Can we, in our zeal for public professions of righteousness, erect barriers to our neighbors seeing the gospel? Consider the example of the Pharisees throughout the gospels. They were outwardly righteous, and took great pride in their ability to remain separated from the world. Yet they were utterly incapable of helping others to know God…because they were hypocrites. They didn’t love their neighbor. They didn’t follow God because they loved God, but followed their rules because they loved themselves. We often do what is right not because we love God…but because we love being seen to be righteous. This is how we can think that refusing to do business with our neighbor is righteous when he demands that we provide resources for his sin.

God, on the other hand, sees our hypocritical heart. He also sees our refusal to take an opportunity to love a fellow sinner and to share God’s love and gospel with them. What is more important? Being seen to be righteous? Or effectively sharing the gospel?

The reality is that the only power that can change sinners is the gospel. We will never be able to legislate sin from our community. The law cannot bring about righteousness; it only brings knowledge of sin. We must always remember that the truth of the knowledge of sin must be paired with the love and relationship of the gospel. Sometimes, when evil people come to abuse us we are being offered an opportunity to show how God loves even sinners. Sometimes, we are called to suffer so that others can see real love and the gospel in action.

We should not think ourselves exempt from the expectation to suffer as Jesus did for us. When the opportunity comes along, let us take up our cross and follow Christ. Not for the glory of martyrdom, but because doing so is obedient to his expectation of us, glorifies him, and communicates his gospel in the most effective manner. For only the gospel could motivate such selfless love.

Let us, therefore, be less concerned with our appearance of righteousness; and more concerned with the effectiveness of our communication of the gospel.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Piece of the Puzzle

“Knowing a disappointing truth is better than wondering forever.” -Unknown

Over the course of over five years, I have been pregnant only two times. Only one of those babies do we get to hold this side of heaven. In more than over two years of trying since our miscarriage, there has not been a single positive test. Two years is a long time to go with no definitive answers. But that might be about to change.

At the beginning of the year, we found that my thyroid needed a little help to do its job (aka hypothyroidism). Even once the medication dosage was figured out, that treatment did not seem to be improving our fertility problems. My doctor began to suggest IUI might be a good option for us as there seemed to be no explanation for our issues and everything appeared to be fine. However, we didn't feel the same way and were still concerned that there might be underlying health issues that could be missed in jumping to such “solutions”.

In June, we decided to contact a clinic that specializes in solving fertility problems naturally, a place several friends of mine had visited and experienced success in addressing health issues that then led to healthy pregnancies. The Pope Paul VI Institute (PPVI) is an international leader in developing and practicing Natural Procreative Technology (NaProTechnology) and happens to be located just one hour away in Omaha, Nebraska. Our first appointment was set for early August and we began tackling the required preliminaries before that meeting, namely learning the Creighton model of fertility tracking (CrMS). It was frustrating that they wouldn't see us until 60 days after we started using CrMS but, looking back, I can see now how much information it has added to the discussion. It still frustrates me at times, as my perfectionist nature wants everything to be “right”, but I'm learning to trust my judgement more now, three months into it.

Since that first appointment, a battery of tests including bloodwork and ultrasounds have occurred and, later this fall in October, I will have a diagnostic laparoscopic surgery. Even before the testing officially began, it simply felt good to be doing something, to have a plan to discover any underlying health issues, even if it meant becoming a human pincushion and driving to Omaha every day for six days straight for ultrasounds. But all of this may have already turned up at least one piece of the puzzle…


It's an acronym I hadn't heard before, even amongst friends that also struggle with infertility issues. It stands for “luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome” and is not terribly common. Information from PPVI says they see it in only 15% of cases where women have regular cycles but still struggle with infertility. Basically, my body will give every sign that a cycle is normal and that I'm ovulating. Basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and even ovulation predictor tests will all look like everything is functioning normally. But when observed through ultrasound, we can see that, while my ovary may develop a follicle, that follicle will not rupture to release the egg.

Being me, I immediately dove into research, reading abstracts of any medical papers I could find that referenced LUFS (yay for PubMed). LUFS was first described in 1978 and can only be diagnosed with laparoscopic surgery or daily ultrasounds around the time of ovulation (how we found mine). Clomid alone, seemingly one of the most popular first steps with doctors when facing infertility, is actually one of the least effective treatment for LUFS.

We haven't met with the doctor yet and probably won't form an actual treatment plan until all the testing is done and we have a complete picture (there's a possibility PCOS is involved as well in all this). But at least for now, it feels satisfying to just have one piece. I'm grateful we don't have to wonder forever.

Soli Deo Gloria,