Monday, May 31

Miracles

I've had arthritis off and on in my joints for the past few years. When I got pregnant with Brooklyn in early 2007, I mentioned it to my obstetrician. He wanted to run some tests to find out if I had some sort of arthritic disease, but because I was pregnant at the time and any sort of established treatment wouldn't be safe for the baby, we decided not to run any tests at that time. I think he wanted me to be able to enjoy my pregnancy without worrying about diagnosing an untreatable condition, and we never spoke about it again. A few months into my pregnancy we moved to Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Ammon died all in quick succession. The plan was to return to the doctor after Brooklyn's birth and figure out the cause of my painful arthritis, but I never got around to making the appointment in the midst of life happening all around me.

Sometime two winters ago, I finally made it into the doctor to renew my blood work for a thyroid disorder. I mentioned to my general practitioner that I had struggled with intermittent arthritis for several years. She was of the opinion that the problem could possibly be tied to my untreated thyroid hormone imbalance, and recommended that I take the prescribed medication for three months and return for more blood work if the problem didn't resolve itself. At the end of three months, the arthritis was still persistent, but once again-I put off making the appointment to see what was causing the problem.

In July, I was single-handed packing up our townhouse to move into the house where we currently live, and as a result I was forced to go through the detritus of my life with Ammon. It was an extremely stressful and emotional period, and my arthritis flared again. After spending several nights unable to sleep, I finally broke down and through tears-made an appointment to see my doctor.

The results of the blood work came back within a few days, and they were devastating.

The rheumatoid factor was elevated in my blood work-a key indicator of rheumatoid arthritis-a debilitating, incurable disease that runs in my family. There are a host of other disease possibilities-including some forms of leukemia-and none of them are pleasant.

I sat in the parking lot at Kroger one sunny afternoon, and listened through a haze of pain and grief as the nurse on the other end of my phone recommended I seek out a rheumatologist for treatment. In that moment, I made one phone call-to my in laws-and sobbed bitter, angry, mournful tears.

It wasn't enough that Ammon had been taken from us, it wasn't enough that I was being asked to raise our children alone-now it appeared as though my health would be stolen from me. I was beyond comfort. It was one of the lowest moments since the sheriff stood in front of me and told me my life was over.

Between when the nurse called to deliver the blood work results and when my appointment with the specialist came, my doctor called back. Sometimes, she said, arthritis can be caused by a Vitamin D deficiency.

"Come back in for more blood work" she said "It's probably just a vitamin problem, and we can put you on a supplement to fix it. Don't go to a specialist yet."

I grabbed the life preserver she threw me, and held tightly to it. I made phone calls to everybody I could think of-calling in every spiritual favor I felt was owed to me.

"Pray for me" I begged. "Pray that this is a vitamin problem, not a disease."

We picked a day, and asked everybody who was aware of the problem to spend the day in fasting a prayer that the second round of blood work would come back showing a severe vitamin D deficiency. I spent several days in hopeful but guarded prayer-begging, pleading, and beseeching for deliverance from this set of problems. A few days later, another nurse called to deliver a second set of blood work. To my horror, she informed me that all of my vitamin and mineral levels were within normal range, thereby canceling out the possibility that my painful arthritis was anything other than a terrible, unnamed disease.

I was deflated. I couldn't believe that after everything our family had been through in the past 18 months, that God would choose not to answer this prayer. I had been arrogant enough to assume that I was 'owed' this blessing-that I had earned it through surviving young widowhood, that my faith had secured my health in order to care for my family. Ignoring the many prayers on behalf of our family threatened my sanity and hard-won spiritual balance. I wallowed in depression and sorrow for a few weeks until the appointed time for my appointment with the rheumatologist.

Two days before my 27th birthday, I had a series of xrays done on all my painful joints, and an exam by a Cincinnati rheumatologist who is among the top in his field. In a curt manner, he informed me that through his physical examination and all the xrays, he could find nothing wrong with me.

I left his office bewildered.

I have had less than 5 arthritic days since then.

Here is what I have learned: God doesn't always answer prayers in the way we ask. Sometimes, He goes above and beyond. Sometimes when we're praying for a vitamin deficiency, He chooses to lift the problem entirely.

Sometimes, we don't know what we're asking for.

Always, He knows what is best.

How grateful I am to be His daughter, and to know that He is in charge of my care.

Wednesday, May 19

Tuesday, May 18

Closer

I wanted to post a quick reminder that our trip to Utah is getting closer, and every little bit helps. Thanks to all those who have contributed so far-you're amazing, and I'm unbelievably grateful! If anybody wants to donate, the widget on my sidebar is secure and linked directly to my Paypal.

Saturday, May 15

Chocolate Chicks

I want to write a blog post about these shoes, but that's an odd place to start. I suppose I shall try the beginning, because rumor has it that is a very good place to start...

I had a party last night. Every few months, I invite basically every woman I know to come to my house with their favorite chocolate dessert. We all sit around noshing our hearts out and gossiping about the state of the world, and everybody generally has a very good time.
Shoes have never entered into the picture before, unless it was people removing them on the way in.
Actually, I lie. Last time I had a party, two women were wearing smashing red flats with their jeans, and they were adorable. I bemoaned the lack of flat red shoes in my wardrobe, and rejoiced to find some on clearance shortly afterward.
I love my red flats.
I was barefoot last night, and so were many of my friends. I was wearing some jeans that reached me through the hand-me-down grapevine (thanks Susanne and Mary!). They're trouser pants with a good creased down the front, and pocket slits on the front. They're long on me-long enough that I generally wear high heels with them to dress them up, but last night I decided to let them just be annoyingly long.
So....at some point during this party...you know, the one I'm writing this post about?
Anyway, at one point I had to go upstairs for something, and I noticed that somebody had deposited a pair of smashing open-toed pumps at the base of my stairs. Now, there are several other shoes-fans that I befriend, and I have become accustomed to not being able to wear their shoes. I admire them, I covet them, I appreciate them-but I can't borrow them. I have a 7 1/2, they usually wear somewhere in the neighborhood of a 9. As such, my first question when I saw the lovelies on my basement floor was:
"What size are these?"
Be still my heart-they were a size 8. And they were gorgeous-practically BEGGING me to try them on...so I did. I wore them up and down the stairs a few times, and I comfortably waltzed around the basement while teetering on them. They are a bit large, but nothing I can't manage. I've certainly suffered more for a cute pair of shoes-these were comfy in comparison to some others I've worn!
Now, here comes the fun part: a little while later, the woman who came to my house in possession of these beauties said the unthinkable:
"I'm really not a shoes person."
Be still my heart.
"They make you so much happier than they make me."
I can't breathe.
"Somebody gave them to me anyway."
Catch me, I'm falling.
"If you have a pair of flip flops I can wear home, you can have them."
I passed out, and couldn't be revived for several minutes.
I (kind of) tried to give them back. I (sort of) attempted to talk her out of it. But she (kindly, generously, foolishly (?)) persisted.
The shoes are living at my house now, and I couldn't be a happier woman.

Friday, May 14

How?

I registered Kadon for kindergarten today, and I can't help but wonder. How did my sweet baby boy go from this:

and this...
and this...
and even this...
to THIS?! And how in the world do I make it stop?!
They're growing up so fast, and as anxious as I am to see how they develop and learn new things, there will always be part of me that wants to hold them close and keep them sheltered and tiny. They are so very sweet and precious to me, and Imarvel that I get to be their mommy.

Wednesday, May 12

Heat

My mother in law, Mary spent some time at our house at the end of last week, and on Saturday morning she and I were sitting around the kitchen table chatting and telling each other funny stories. At one point, one of us must have said something hilariously funny, because we both were able to get a good, hard laugh.

"Did you know that laughing supposedly burns 17 calories a minute?" Mary informed me.

"Yes, and did you know kissing burns 14 calories a minute?!" I countered.

At this point, Jeremy had entered the room. My inquisitive 1st grader asked us what a calorie was, so Mary and I spent a few moments explaining to him that a calorie is simply a measurement of heat-1 calorie is equal to the amount of heat it would take to break apart 1 g of any specific substance.

His brow furrowed in thought, he pondered the definition of a calorie for a moment. Mary and I looked at him, waiting for it to all make sense in his head. After a moment, he finished processing and asked a question:

"So....does that mean if you kiss too much you get overheated?"


Of course, once Mary and I burned at least 100 calories of laughter apiece, we assured him that indeed-kissing too much would certainly overheat a person.

Someday he'll learn just exactly how astute his observation was.

Tuesday, May 11

Sisters

Just because this picture makes me smile.

Monday, May 10

Little Girls





Whatever happened to sugar, spice, and everything nice?

Sunday, May 9

Angels

I've written several times about Ammon's pseudo-adopted brother John and his family. John is a family friend from New York days, and over the years has become a huge part of our family. I am honored to be included as a family member in their eyes, and even though Ammon and John were formed in different bodies out of different genes-they were brothers in every sense of the word.

Two weeks ago, John's family was involved in a car accident on the interstate. Two other cars lost control next to them, and the van that John's wife Janice was driving ended up on the bad end of a mini-cooper and the concrete interstate barrier. It was raining heavily that day, and Janice told me later that in her efforts to avoid being hit, her van started to lose control and they were fishtailing down the interstate. Janice was certain that their van-containing Janice and the 5 children-would flip. Miraculously, it didn't. Even more miraculous-with the exception of some back and neck pain, a few seat belt burns, and some bruises-everybody in the car was fine.

Over the next few days, many errands were run and phone calls were made. In conversation with her five-year-old son Jarin one afternoon, Jarin made a startling proclamation. Janice was recounting her fear that the van would flip when Jarin piped in "That's when the angels pushed our car." Startled, Janice asked for clarification. "Angels? How many angels?" Jarin, deep in thought, answered after a moment: "Five".

I know there are people who read this blog who don't believe in angels, but I do. I believe they're all around us, and I only had one question for Jarin when I heard this story. "Did any of the angels look like Uncle Ammon?" Jarin couldn't remember, but together Janice and I marveled at the miracle of protective angels and the likelihood that my husband had been one of them.

Yesterday, John and Janice attended the temple in the morning, then drove to my other sister in law Angela's house for a family birthday celebration. Once they arrived, John pulled me aside and with tears in his eyes, told me that while he was in the temple that morning, he had received a powerful witness that indeed their had been angels that protected his family that day. Furthermore, he also knew that one of them was his departed brother.



Today is Mother's Day. I was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast while the kids puttered around in their various breakfast activities. The kitchen was bustling with noise and activity, and my mind wandered over the conversation I had with John yesterday. Suddenly, I received an overwhelming feeling that not only had Ammon protected our family members that day-but that he is present much more often than that. It's been a long time since I strongly felt his presence-but I'm certain that Ammon was in my kitchen this morning. Through new eyes, I looked at our children. They have grown so much in the last 2 years and 4 weeks. Jeremy had just turned five, Kadon was barely three, and Brooklyn was a tiny 6 month old creature who was still wearing newborn clothes. Now the boys are robust and school aged and Brooklyn has morphed into a walking, talking toddler. Usually when I reflect on how much the kids have changed since he left us I end up feeling cheated, sad, and angry. This morning I am certain that although Ammon hasn't been present in the more traditional way-he hasn't missed a moment of his children's lives. He has been here watching all of us every step of the way, and has helped where he could. Like a group of mighty angels that have the power to hold back a van careening out of control-Ammon has been guiding and protecting our family.

I still miss him deeply, but I am also fiercely proud of the life we've built without him. We have truly made lemonade out of the batch of lemons that were dealt to us, and we will strive to continue doing that forever. It's comforting to know that he is on our side. It's comforting to know-without a doubt-that he is protecting us and those around us. I'm grateful that John and Janice's family was kept safe-but right this moment I'm even more grateful for a testimony of angelic presences in our lives, and for the surety I have that my beloved husband is one of them.