Posts Tagged ‘health’

On Getting Out More

I was taken by surprise by these hibiscus blooms even though they were right outside my front door. I hadn’t noticed them for three days because I had stayed inside. It made me realize I really need to get out more. Click the photo below to hear more of my story:

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When Infertility is Big Business

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I was at the hospital today (just visiting, that is) and by the hospital pharmacy was a sign welcoming IVF (in vitro fertilization) patients and it reminded me of how much the “business” of infertility treatment irks me.

Back in the day when my husband and I first sought treatment for our infertility problems one of the best pieces of advice we got was to decide ahead of time how far we were willing to go with treatment. We took this advice very seriously and tried to look at the situation from all angles.

(Before I go on, I want to acknowledge how very personal these decisions are for couples. In what follows, I am simply describing what we chose and not trying to tell anyone else what they should decide.)

We made two important decisions up front:

  1. We wanted to address my overall health, not just make a baby. My infertility condition is part of a syndrome–meaning there are a variety of symptoms involved. In other words, infertility is not my only problem. Women with this syndrome, called Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), are at greater risk than other women for developing a variety of complications as well. We wanted my treatment to deal with the PCOS on fronts other than the infertility issue.
  2. We did not want to do any treatment that would significantly increase the chance of multiple pregnancy. There is a progression of infertility treatments and the mildest options have very low incidence of multiples. We wanted to stay with the milder treatment options and were willing to accept not getting pregnant at all rather than risk multiples.

We’ve dealt with various doctors over the years with respect to my reproductive health. Most of them totally get our decisions and have respected them and worked with us within the parameters we have set.

But before we had our son there was one particular doctor who ignored our concerns about my overall health and pushed advanced reproductive treatments on us despite our objections. Pictures of babies–even multiples–lined this doctor’s bulletin boards while the expensive treatments lined the doctor’s pockets.

Meanwhile all the emotional ups and downs of treatment had left us weary. We were ready to revise decision #2 to be no treatment that involved shots or scheduled sex. We felt our marriage was on increasingly shaky grounds and we wanted most of all to preserve us.

People I know and love have had children through advanced types of infertility treatment. Babies are a gift, so I’m happy for them.

Still, it left a bad taste in my mouth when that particular doctor did not seem to care about our needs and values in the treatment process. The doctor just wanted to give us our little miracle even if that bundle of joy had to get sent to a broken home.

It was shortly after that appointment that we walked away from any treatment that wasn’t related to our decision #1. Consequently, I credit our decision to address my overall health with my eventual ability to conceive our son.

I know that infertility treatment can work. I also know it comes at great cost–both financially and emotionally. And while, of course, the couples that have successful treatments get the priceless gift of a baby, plenty of other couples go home with empty arms.

But either way, there’s big money in it for the professionals involved.

$o, of cour$e, welcome IVF patient$, we’re $o glad to $ee you.

Life is Too Short to Mess Around About Hearts and Love

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Life is short. It’s just too short…

We had a heart scare this week. When my son and I got home from homeschool co-op on Tuesday, Tink (my husband, aka David Tinker, but I call him Tink) was complaining of chest pains.

And life is too short to mess around about hearts and love. So I drove him directly to the ER to get checked out.

After an overnight stay at the hospital they found no signs of heart attack and no blockages of any kind. The cardiologist suggested stress as the most likely culprit for the chest pain. Stress management then was the order of the day.

And while stress management isn’t the easiest thing to master, it’s way better than dealing with a life-threatening heart condition.

I tried not to be too worried as we were getting Tink checked out. I mean, we both knew that we were erring on the side of caution. But still, when there was enough doubt that the doctor wanted to keep him overnight, it did make me think about how short life is…

I think there was part of me at 18 years old that already knew that life was too short to mess around about hearts and love. And that’s why I didn’t mess around about how I felt about Tink–then a seminarian on the verge of his ordination and about to begin pastoring his first church.

Let me back up a bit and give you a little more context for these hearts and this love…

I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, and he was 25, a second-year seminary student when we met.

Our little church in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio was a frequent wayside rest for Lutheran college and seminary students. And part of my family’s ministry was to extend hospitality to students for however long or short a time they were with us.

So, when Tink came to my church as a guest of our college-aged church musician, we did what we always did and invited them both to lunch. And whenever Tink came back to visit my church, we included him in our lunch plans.

It was no big deal really. I mean, this was just our thing. I was comfortable talking with these students because I had been practicing for so long. At points I felt more comfortable talking with them than people my own age.

Tink’s initial visits to my church were related to an assignment for one of his seminary classes. He even interviewed me for the assignment and quoted me in the paper he wrote about it!

Around Christmas of that year we started writing letters to each other. Even though he was in seminary only 20 minutes from my house, we didn’t see each other very often because he ordinarily had field work at another church. The following year Tink went all the way to Miami, Florida for his seminary internship. Our letters throughout this time were our primary means of connection.

Tink came back to Columbus for his final year of seminary classes during the summer that I was 17. I was on the verge of my senior year of high school. He called me to help him move in. By this time I had developed feelings for him, but I knew he was way too old for me and it could never be. So I helped him move into his apartment and tried to play it cool.

I didn’t see him again until November of my senior year. He showed up at my church to preach while our pastor was on vacation. I had no idea I would see him that day, but all my feelings for him rushed in on me.

But then he told me he was leaving again. He was going to Mexico City for a seminary cultural immersion experience and he would be gone for weeks again.

I finally had him back after intermittent contact and there he was leaving me all over again. I just thought it must be for the better because what was I doing having feelings for this seminary student on the verge of entering the ministry?

Then in January, I turned 18.

And later in January, Tink came back to Columbus after his trip to Mexico City and he started coming around more. And instead of letters we started having phone calls. And instead of chaperoned lunches with my family, we went out to dinner just the two of us.

We had always talked easily but then we were talking endlessly. And we had this recurring dialog wondering what life would be like when we couldn’t see each other when I was off at college and he was away at his first church being pastor somewhere.

And it was more and more obvious to me that this was becoming more than “just friends.”

And I knew life was too short to mess around about these hearts and this love between us.

So, one Sunday afternoon–20 years ago this month–I got bold. Tink had come to church and lunch with us and was hanging out at my house with us just talking and talking. The feelings were so obvious and I was so frustrated that he would not broach the subject.

I had to go to work that evening, but I was so tired of dancing around about our feelings that I felt an urgency to tell him how I really felt. So, right before I left for work, I looked him in the eye and I just blurted out the line that will live in infamy:

“Dave, I love you, and I want to marry you!”

And he didn’t say it back. And he started mumbling something in Spanish! I mean, we both knew some Spanish, so we sometimes did that for fun, but this was not a time for that!

I left for work with no clear picture of how he felt about what I had said.

I was so out there. I mean, it’s one thing to be the first one to say, “I love you,” but I went and tacked on that bit about marriage too!

I worked my shift in a daze, just totally shaking my head at myself. But hey, life’s too short, right?

As my shift was ending though, guess who showed up at my work place?

You guessed it! It was my David.

I wasn’t sure whether to be nervous or excited. Was he coming to let me down easy and tell me I had imagined what I thought was between us, or was he coming to admit that he felt it too?

Finally, he said, “I just had to come and see you and make sure that the world is real and make sure that you meant what you said to me!”

And I clocked out of my shift and we went out to the parking lot to talk it over. I reiterated my sentiment and waited for him to respond in kind. But he still hesitated.

“Just say it!” I demanded! I wanted him to tell me that he loved me too! I needed to hear him say it.

He nodded his head.

That was not enough for me.

“Just say it!” I demanded again.

And finally he said it and there was no more messing around about hearts and love from then on. Which is really good, because life is too short.

P.S. It turns out that Tink actually made note of the exact date in his Pastor’s Desk Diary in 1994. He noted it simply as “Jennifer Day.” (See photo below)

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How The Internet is Almost as Funny as God

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Who knew the Internet and God had this one thing in common–a be-careful-what-you-wish-for sense of humor?

God recently showed his sense of humor when he answered my prayer for more preaching opportunities.

In my current setting I don’t have a formal, ongoing, paid position in my church. Instead, I use my Deaconess training* here and there with a mix of paid and volunteer tasks in my own church and in other churches around my area.

Some of my most favorite work–times I feel most alive–are the times when I get to preach or speak. I’m still working on developing a formal speaking ministry. But the preaching opportunities are easier to come by when neighboring pastors need back-up, so I prayed for more of them.

It had been months since I preached last, but then, this fall, my church invited me to preach our Advent series. That would be 3 chances to preach and I was thrilled! Then a neighboring pastor called me with an additional 3 dates this month for which he needed back-up.

Suddenly here was December with 6 chances to preach! I just had to laugh at God’s sense of humor in answering my prayer in such a big way!

In a similar way, the Internet showed its sense of humor when it challenged my fears about being relevant with my blog. Last week I wrote the post How Being “Relevant” Eludes Me (click the title to read that post) and I lamented to the Internet:

I have a ton of ideas about what I want to write about. But I just never know what’s going to resonate with people.

I watch my blog stats (the details that I can view as a blog administrator about how many visits there are to my blog and what posts are being viewed) more closely than I need to. And I fret when something I feel good about doesn’t get as many views as I wish it did. And I hope, in admitted vanity, that this blog will really take off.

I know all the right things I should be thinking about my blog–that if even one person is touched by my writing then I am doing good work here. And I am always, always glad to know when that one person is touched. Please keep writing comments and e-mails and Tweets and Facebook messages to let me know because, truly, that’s what keeps me going when one person at a time is indeed touched by my work.

But right or wrong, I want to reach more people. And sometimes I shake my fists at the Internet and ask, in all ignorance, “What’s it going to take?”

And the Internet seems not to answer.

And then I had this really crummy day when I almost didn’t write anything. Except I have been trying to write more often and I was determined to post on Monday or Tuesday. Monday was a migraine day and I truly could not write. So it was Tuesday or bust. And despite my depression knocking me down, the idea of skipping Tuesday was worse than the idea of cranking out something irrelevant.

And so, I wrote Eat, Sleep, Preach: A Deaconess in Depression (click the title to see that post) and that post got a lot of attention. In fact, it became my most viewed post ever! Wednesday was my all-time biggest day on the blog. Lots and lots of people reached out to me in one way or another to express empathy or appreciation for what I wrote. Thanks to all who supported me by reading, responding to, or sharing the post. I am deeply grateful.

And I had to laugh at the Internet’s way of giving me such a big day over a post that I almost didn’t write on a day when I just wanted to stay in bed.

See what I mean? God and the Internet are both hilarious!

* I was trained and consecrated by the Lutheran Deaconess Association (LDA), an independent Lutheran diaconate based in Valparaiso, Indiana. The LDA allows me to keep the title of Deaconess despite not having a formal call as they recognize a wide range of service as diaconal. For more about my journey of becoming a Deaconess, see my post How I Became a Deaconess (click the title to read that post).

Eat, Sleep, Preach: A Deaconess in Depression

My depression is knocking me down this week. The will to do anything is elusive. My sense of worth is shot.

It’s not rational it just is.

You can’t talk me out of it.

I can’t even talk me out of it.

I’ve had my ups and downs over time and I’ve been on a bit of an upswing lately–feeling good about my writing and podcasting and all that good stuff.

It was in an upswing that I decided to finally start writing for real. I was tired of letting my depression hold me back in life and tell me I wasn’t good enough and didn’t have enough to say. I told my depression to go straight to hell and I was going to do this thing.

But that damned depression is creeping up again.

I mean, there’s the normal-people self-doubt and comparison trap that I get into sometimes and those bring me down, but there’s always something or someone that helps snap me out of those.

But this week–I’ve just been a mess and there’s nothing that can snap me out of it. I’m just a tear-stained, frumpy-clothed mess.

AdventPreaching2013And I hate this part of my story.

I much prefer the part of my story in which I’m the shiny-happy preaching Deaconess. (See photo.)

I’ve heard people criticize social media because of the way that people carefully curate their image–showing only their good sides, posting only the favorable photos, sharing only the triumphant moments.

To be sure, I want you to know about my highs! I want to tell you about my latest podcast that I’m proud of! I want you to see the action shot of me preaching.

But you deserve to know about today and the other days like it. About how I didn’t want to get out of bed. About how I stayed in my pajamas until I got the text that my husband was on his way home for lunch. And about how when my husband got home for lunch he cooked and loaded the dishwasher while I sat in a corner in the kitchen and wept and poured out my tale of woe.

I want to be honest about the whole of this life of mine. I’m the preaching Deaconess and the lady who doesn’t want to get up until after noon.

I know my depression isn’t the worst in the world. I did make it out of bed, so that’s something.

And the fact that I’m at this keyboard is because, as I told my journal today, if I can do nothing else, I will write about my damn depression. Because I’m doing this writing thing no matter what.

God knows there is so much more I want–and need–to write about. There’s so much to say I could burst sometimes.

I don’t want to write about my depression, but it is the elephant in the room right now and it takes too much energy to ignore it. It won’t let me think of anything else right now. So I’m writing about it. Because I’m doing this writing thing.

Photo by: Melissa Wickel