Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Insomnia is Back: Good News and Bad

Bad news: Insomnia is back, so, of course, when the alarm did go off, I struggled to wake up.

Good news: I wasn't tired at all today. Even got got the ninety minute power walk in and worked late.

Bad news: I'm not tired yet. Well...the body is tired; the mind, on the other hand is W I D E awake and dreading sleep.

Why can't the two two sync up AND

Anyone got some magic sleeping dust? Sprinkle some this way.

Monday, April 28, 2014

So I didn't Have the Weekend I Planned to Have...

...and I'm starting Monday morning stressed out over it.

Meaning, I wanted to accomplish more work than I did. If I was having this conversation with someone else, I'd be chastising him/her for not allowing much-needed white space into that life.

Now that I'm in a "real" office, my work days are very mentally intense, especially since I choose not step away from the computer very often (lunch box filled with food and water right at my feet, why move?)

Fortunately, I can choose to change that last bit very soon. Two weeks, in fact, and, strangely, I'm feeling optimistic and somewhat excited, which I did not expect to feel. More on that later.

So back to the weekend. On Friday, I detailed my work schedule for this week, with a stack of work I wanted to accompish Saturday and Sunday to make that happen. Like so many times, every item on my "to-do" list doesn't quite make it over to the "ta-da" list as quickly and neatly as I like.

And what DID I do this weekend?

   *  Watched two episodes of Family Guy with Daniel (Because of conflicting schedules, I rarely see Daniel, except on the weekends. He turned me onto the show and especially looks for Stewie and Brian episodes for me).

   *  Did a little writing, a little reading, and fell asleep


   *  Caught up on email, listened to music, and took a nap

   *  Ran errands

   *  Went to Morris to see the baby

   *  Did laundry

   *  Did an interview

   *  Took a power walk and then

   *  Walked to the mall with Daniel for Gloria Jean coffee and then to the dollar store for water
   *  Watched two more episodes of Family Guy

   *  Printed out my notes for Before the Blood, a several hour process


   *  Sorted through four loads of laundry (convoluted story)

   *  Caught up (sort of) on Bryony stuff

   *  Wrote two first drafts

   *  Attended church forty miles away AND

   *  An Easter brunch following services

   *  Ran a few errands

   *  Rebekah came home shortly after we did, so I listened to her recount her weekend

   *  Spent a couple of hours editing feature briefs

But...but...I wanted to write three more stories!

Sometimes, I think I should pare down my expectations...except without those unrealistic expectations, I wouldn't come close to reaching my goals. so what's a delusional writer to do?

Stay unrealistic.

Applaud the victories, forgive the defeats.

Revise that list and move on.

Because, ah yes, revisions are at the heart of what I do.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

More (but not much more) Jessica Lynn

My problem with documenting life, indeed, my kids have the same problem, is that we're so busy living life, we forget to archive it.

For instance:

Rebekah had been at Joshua and Amber's apartment since Thursday night and went up to the hospital to see Amber and the baby seven times, she said, and yet we don't have one photo yet of her and the baby.

We don't have one with with Joshua and Amber with Jessica Lynn. I did, however, walk Amber through the halls and asked the nurse to get an order for something she needed.

Joshua snuggled up to me really nice when I was sitting in the chair with Jessica, which would have made a nice photo, we thought, as we drove home.

Daniel and Timothy did manage to snap photos of each other. Timothy remembered to get a couple of me as we were leaving. The one of Ezekiel I "borrowed" from Facebook. Packed away in the storage shed is one of fifteen month old Sarah kissing newborn Joshua...


Friday, April 25, 2014

Meet Jessica Lynn Baran!

My first granddaughter! More photos to follow tomorrow after I meet her in person. :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lucas Stegall and John-Peter Simotes: Some Similarities

In 1990, when I began envisioning the storyline, in particular the character of John-Peter Simotes, that culminated in the first draft of Visage in 2009, my daughter Sarah Stegall was only six years old, and the birth of Lucas was several decades away.

So you can image our surprise to find so many similarities between the two, more than just the Mohawk Lucas sports (and the one in Staked! John-Peter wants): Both

·        Are outspoken

·        Have wildly creative imaginations. (Maybe there's a way to post the book Lucas wrote for school about beavers: The Best Dam Book. BTW, Lucas is seven.)

·        Loves vegetables and

·        The color green and

·        Hates meat

·        Is intelligent waaaaay beyond his years

Randomly, and as Lucas demonstrates it, I’ll post other similarities in upcoming blogs.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where Truth is Stranger Than Fiction: The Continuing Tale of Lucas Stegall vs. John-Peter Simotes

Tomorrow, the long version.
Today, consider this page from Visage, Chapter 23: No Holds Barred:

John glanced at John-Peter, and Melissa fell silent. The boy busied himself with the string beans. One at a time, he pinched them between his forefinger and his thumb, leaned back his head, and dropped them down his throat.

His actions unnerved Melissa. “Stop that right now!”

John-Peter ignored her and opened his mouth wider for another green bean.

“John, make him stop. He’ll choke.”

“John-Peter, mind your manners at the dinner table.”

“They’re snakes,” the boy said as he picked up another one and gave it the same treatment. He smacked his lips and turned cunning eyes at Melissa. “You want me to eat meat. Well, snakes are meat. Right, Father?”

And, Lucas (who has never read Visage, although he has read parts of Bryony and tries to sell the book to everyone he meets):

BTW, note the color of his shirt. Just sayin.'


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Staked!" Update (again, part two...)

Sarah Stegall messaged me that she has uploaded Staked! into Createspace, everything except the cover (She had to cook dinner and ran out of time). Hoping to take a "sneak peek" yet tonight.

Ladies and gentlemen, we're about to have a book. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Staked!" Update (again...)

I talked to Sarah before Easter, and she is still working on it.

The template is the problem. We scrapped the previous one as it had caused manuscript corruption that had spread to other documents: work documents, as well as the one for Visage.

Being smarter this time, we (i.e. me, guided by Sarah) selected a new one, which we really liked; however, the font does not automatically adjust, so Sarah is having to fix it page by page, when time allows--and she has been working A LOT of overtime.

I'm starting to understand why vanity presses charge big bucks. Just sayin.'

BTW, the manuscript is nearly 160,000 words, just so you know...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just Story Round Up

Very disappointingly, last night's ride fell through, too. :(
Instead, I stayed late at work and caught up...and maybe got a bit ahead, too.
However, unless Timothy has car trouble (HUSH!), we WILL be attending Good Friday Vespers tonight.

Soooo, without further ado (drum roll, please), here's what appeared in this weeks Herald-News.

Joliet acting coach seeking local talent for DVD series

Previous acting experience not required. Contact information within story.


An Extraordinary Life: Of service to others

At an age when many people start thinking about retirement, this Joliet nun began a second career, teaching art in Guam.


A fascinating hobby

Why people bird watch...and how you can get started


Joliet family represents March of Dimes local chapter

By Jeanne Millsap

Read one family's account of birthing premature boys.


Joliet Junior College Chef Vonhoff to retire after 30 years

And to think this master chef began his career because he disliked math


Homer Glen man writes book based on angel vision

And it's not your typical angel vision


Joliet American Legion Band to play spring concert

Music director and conductor Tom Drake calls this dedicated group of musicians, "the most versatile band in the world." See why.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

The ride did not happen last night: one friend had to teach, another was sick. Tonight looks much better. If I go, I will ask for anointing with the previous evening's Holy Oil, especially since I have been standing in the gap for someone.

Tonight's service, technically a matins service, but traditionally done in the evening by many churches, is the reading of all twelve passion gospels, starting with my favorite (a beautiful long one from the book of John, Jesus' final discourse to the apostles at the Last Supper).

In past parishes, twelve men would stand before the altar, each bearing a candle, which would be blown out at the end of each reading. Currently, I belong to a tiny mission church consisting of a predominantly elderly population (Daniel, at eighteen, is the youngest member). Not enough people attend in the evening, so it generally means we all stand in front (men and women), usually bearing a candle in each hand.

I love the ancient mysticism of the Eastern Christian church. With the thrust today in the West to make worship "relevent," I adore the Orthodox's slant of directing our gaze upward, to the everlasting present, where everything is beyond comprehension.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Holy Wednesday

If I'm blessed enough to find a ride tonight, I'll be attending healing services at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Homewood.

Candles illuminating the dark church, chanted prayers, anointing oil...peace.

Cannot wait!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Walter J. Martineck

Slight over two years ago, a Facebook friend messaged me to see if I could help her cousin publish what she thought was a book of poetry.
I talked to her cousin. His writings were not so much poetry but a collection of journal-like entries to his girl friend expressing his great love for her. The book, he had said, would be a gift from him to her.
Coincidentally, Sarah and I had preciously discussed ways to streamline the self-publishing process for other authors without them having to rely on vanity presses to do the work (editing and formatting) they could not do.
So when I told her about this project, she definitely wanted to do it. I helped her set a fee (extremely low) and told her I'd edit it for free, as she had done plenty of free and low-cost for me (the BryonySeries website, the Facebook page, coordinating recipe submissions for the cookbook, soliciting silent auction items for Vamp Fest, etc.).
So Sarah did, and then she went on to complete several more projects for other authors. Those projects, plus the work she did for me, led to her position at an international security company doing, of course, editing and formatting, a job Sarah thoroughly enjoys.
What struck me when editing the book was the deep and passionate love this man had for this woman, which made editing the book a most enjoyable task. Few people, I believe, love to the degree this man loved this woman.
The other day, I learned, on Facebook, that this man had been killed in a horrific accident on Interstate 55.
His cousin contacted me for copies of the book to distribute at the funeral. That book was one accomplishment of which Walter was extremely proud, the cousin said.
Walter's book can be ordered here:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rebekah's 20th Birthday Makeover

Granted, Rebekah does share a birthday with Old Calendar Christmas, but twenty is definitely special, and, despite our horrible financial situation on January 7 (at the time, I hadn't even interviewed for the features editor position at The Herald-News; we were still reeling from the sale of the newspaper), I wanted to pamper her for a day, at a low cost.

So Sarah suggested Joliet Beauty Academy, which had done a phenomenal job with our hair before 2011's Vamp Fest. Sarah scheduled an appointment for a day we knew she'd be in town and for when we also knew neither Rebekah or I would be working or in school.

I arranged for a photographer friend, who promised photo capture the grand day for two  margeueritas (one for each hand). Then we told Rebekah we had a surprise for her birthday...in three months.

Except for the photographer getting bit by a stray cat on makeover day and winding up in the emergency room (thank heavens for cameras on phones; Saran became the photographer); the makeover taking twice as long as the school predicted (six hours instead of three); and me falling asleep off and on (I was sick, although I look rather perky in the photo), the day went smoothly. Plus, Rebekah had the fun of showing off the results at our church's spaghetti dinner that night and basking in the compliments.

Check out the fun we had:



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Author Fair Recap and the Long View

Summary in bullet points (mind is tired for much composition)

   *  The Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook, besides being three stories of awesomeness, has some of the most hospitable employees I have ever met. The fair had only about twenty authors, and we were treated like royalty. Kudos!

   *  Totally gorgeous weather meant extremely light turn-out. The majority of the attendees didn't know about the fair until they walked into the library. Some authors left early because of it. I made a committment to stay until the end, and I did.

   *  I did sell three books, to the library.

   *  Of the three presentations (in descending order), attendance was two, one, and none (I was none, scheduled at the end of the day). On the plus side, the organizer slipped into the room and spent most of that time asking me questions about my writing and various projects and my availability in returning to the library, so maybe it was a presentation of a different kind.

   *  Two people were extremely interested in WriteOn Joliet and wanted to discuss their projects with me. One is also a high school English teacher that wants to find out more about the BryonySeries, as her school mandates the students read one novel a month, and she is on the sharp look out for new and unusual titles to keep it fresh.

   *  The long view: I'd rather build my house brick by brick. Those that build with straw and sticks don't survive. True, I might not get the entire house built, but a strong, three-walled fortress can still offer protection from the wolves.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tomorrow's Author Fair and Story Round Up

Tomorrow, I will be speaking about Vampire Stories for Young Adults and Young Adult Literature at the Fountaindale Public Library Author Fair.

Basically, I will share the background behind the series, the attraction to vampires and how this series mirrors adolescent challenges and angst, particulars to keep in mind while writing for young adults, and why I chose to self-publish, along with an overview of the steps it takes to do so.

The presentations is from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 300 W. Briarcliff Road in Bolingbrook. The entire fair is from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. and only three other authors will present.

Former Joliet resident to appear in "Memphis" at the Rialto

The show was Monday night, but the story is more about how this young man is living his Broadway dream


An Extraordinary Life: He was friends with everyone

Sports was his calling card; touching lives was his life. Turns out Tom Seddon was related to a former boss (who is now a friend...strange the turns life takes...)


Group catering to huskies and malamutes gather at Plainfield dog park

Story by Jan Larsen. Jan was The Herald-News features editor when I began my freelance writing career. When I became features editor in January, Jan messaged me and asked if she could freelance write for me. Now that I have a budget, I could agree. Speaking of surreal twists, editing the writing of a former editor...


Massage therapist to share life experiences of being blind at disability lecture

Story by Jeanne Millsap. Andre King summed up his childhood with these words about his parents: "They treated me like everyone else."


Seneca chef wears many hats in the kitchen

Tamara Womack heads up a school cafeteria, teaches all the cooking classes at the Channahon Park District, and runs a personal chef business. Whew!


Bolingbrook social worker devotes 20 plus years to kids, wins award

Former employee for the Department of Children and Family Services sees the Christian ministry in her career.


Chanticleer to perform at the Rialto

A perfect blend of a dozen male voices singing a variety of music: this is one concert I wish I could attend.



Thursday, April 10, 2014


Slept better last night, not really much longer, but better.

Yes, feeling (somewhat) rested is certainly healing, but, even more so, was passing that insomniac time with someone that cared I wasn't sleeping. Eventually, I relaxed enough to fall asleep.

This morning, I'm sifting through mail in a serene haze, feeling like the abandoned man in the parable of The Good Samaritan, after the Samaritan saw him, moved to compassion for him, bound up his wounds, and settled him onto his own beast to carry him toward a place of healing.

Grateful this morning, very grateful.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

So Tired

I know from experience that the body will (eventually) be unable to resist sleep. In fact, at bedtime, sleep pushes right past my body, tensed and poised for not sleeping.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, I'm wide awake and not sleeping anymore. My mind slips into microsleep, but refuses to tumble over the edge into full-blown slumber. In the past, power naps got me through it. Working in an office means no more naps.

My mind taunts me, too, reminding me I only have one opportunity for rest in twenty-four hours. Wish it was on my side (said in a dripping with sarcasm tone).

Have you noticed that fatigue makes everything hard?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Last week, I shared a photo to my Facebook wall about why saying "Sorry" does not repair relationships. I then posed the question: "What's missing?"

Years ago, my mentor, Pani Slavka Zabrodsky, shared with me the secret to authentic reconcilliation: forgiveness. It is not enough to forgive. We must ask forgiveness of others.

Yes, we should forgive others. No, others might not forgive us. But the next time you're tempted to patch up a misunderstanding or a real wrong with a "Sorry," (while you may or may not be thinking, "Hey, I said, 'I'm sorry.'"), try this:

"I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"

And mean it.

Just a thought.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What Insomnia Has Taught Me

   *  That the problems of the world can't be solved at 2:30 a.m.

   *  That practicing relaxation may not bring sleep, but will provide some additional rest.

   *  That God might be teaching patience in frustrating circumstances over which one has little to no control, like falling asleep on command.

   *  That this, too, shall pass. The urge and need to sleep is an overwhelming one. No matter how severe the insomnia, eventually, everyone does sleep.

   *  That it is possible to function, and function well, on less than optimal sleep, especially when not self-inflicted.

   *  That I now have plenty of time to get that project done that I worried over not having enough time to accomplish (typed with a touch of sarcasm).

   *  That God invented caffeine for a reason.

   *  That my sleeping bag will feel totally awesome at the end of today.

   *  That power naps are golden...and that rejuvenation and increased productivity come from taking pauses in the day, not charging full speed ahead 24/7.

   *  To thank God for the gifts of full nights of rested sleep when they do occur AND

   *  For the insights that work their way into my brain in that area between alertness and "can't quite get back to sleep."

   *  That I probably have plenty of company.

   *  That, for whatever reason unbeknownst to me, I'm where God wants me in this moment, and that no greater blessing exists for me than to be in God's will.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

First Words

Lat night, while working at my church's spaghetti dinner, a former member from and Sunday school colleague from many years ago, and now a Facebook friend, approached me and said, "I really appreciate the Bible verses you post each morning. I don't always comment on them, but I always read them."

And I told her, "As a writer, I want the first words I write each day to be God's word. I send one verse to a friend, and I post one on Facebook. I type nothing and respond to no email until that's done."

She liked that. And then I added, "I never know what I will post. I just let the spirit move me."

And then she replied, "They're always the ones I need to hear."

"Again," I said, "that's because the Holy Spirit chooses."


Friday, April 4, 2014

Soundbites and Story Round Up

Throat still on flaming fire, doubt it's allergies. Thinking maybe my Vitamin D is low. I do take supplements (long story), but maybe not enough. The last time my resistance was this low (2009), my levels were low, and I needed higher dosages to bring them back up. Resistance returned to normal, too. Only good thing about the sore throat deal is I'm talking less. No, it's not because I'm working in an office. I started the new job with a similiar cold. To misquote the cliche, "It's me, not them."

Passed on WriteOn! Joliet last night and missed meeting a new member (the new members always show up when I'm not there; maybe I should stay home more often). I also rescheduled my lunch date with the freelancer after realizing I was flat broke until payday (today).

I'm assuming further work on fixing Staked! formatting is postponed until Sarah returns home next week. :(

Amber's baby shower tonight. First granddaughter--Monica Frances--arrives at the end of this month. I feel so blessed that, so far, each of my children have carried on my tradition of using saint and Biblical names. :)

In theory, working St Nicholas' spaghetti dinner Saturday night. My job the last few years has been manning (womanning) the mic and announcing raffle winners. Again the last few years, most of the donations have been handmade crocheted afgans made by a woman in our church. Before you laugh, we make more money now on raffles than when we had "traditional" prizes.

Stupid throat! Wanna go back to bed...

And now, the stories!

For the tiniest of tigers

I LOVE this story. Joliet West NHS students host its second fun fair to benefit some really sick young children. Before you pass this off with a, "Oh, how cute," you should know last year's fair netted $6000. These kids aren't playing around.


An Extraordinary Life: She helped anyone she could

Feeding anyone that came through her door with simple plain food, fondess for antiques, hats, and the unusual, supporting family no matter what... yeah, I would have liked her.


Taking the Frisbee to new heights

The familiar backyard disc is far more fun when you train your dogs to play--and compete--with you. And to think the guy was surfing YouTube only to find a few backyard games!


Joliet woman will rappel to raise money for respiratory disorders
By Jeanne Millsap

In addition to supervising my editorial assistant, I now assign stories to, oversee, and edit the work of the freelancers I choose to use. Here is one such story. BTW, this woman doesn't tolerate heights. Read on why she's doing this.


It's time for Passover in the Matzah aisle

If you live in the Joliet area, stop by the Jewel on Jefferson Street, if only to chat with the rabbi. Fascinating, fascinating man and an excellent conversationalist, even in a casual setting.


A Lenten family tradition

The family that sings together, prays together? As I interviewed this homeschool family, I thought, "My editor will never believe these quotes came from the mouths of these two little girls."

I was wrong. Kate never questioned it. This story is worth your time, if only for these two girls.


Stars of 'Ghost Hunters' to appear at Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet

Fan of the show? This story is for you, as Steve Gonsalves shares memories and insights, not necessarily of the show. Not a fan of the show? Still a good read.

Incidentally, whenever I write a "celebrity" story, I always research what's already been written. Although background information will, naturally, be consistent, if the story's not personal, I've done it wrong.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Does God Speak to You?

I hope you don't think this is silly, but from my earliest childhood, I have heard him speak to me, in small and large ways.

The other day, I blogged about my dream (vision, whatever) of seeing my six children before they were born. God has directed me in other ways, too. Mostly, since the majority of my life doesn't doesn't run on life and death scenarios (although it can sometimes seem that way), God guides me in the day to day decisions, little things to some people, but when one desires to always be in the will of God, no decision really is too small.

Like this morning.

I may have developed a cat allergy, or, more specifically, I may have had one all along, but, almost in an immunotherapy way, I grew accustomed to the cats due to repeated, live-in exposure. Seeing them only once a month now means full, blown-out allergy attacks each time.

And it sucks. It also means, if it's true, I have some unpleasant decisions to make.

So anyway, I worked from Channahon on Monday. It happened quite by accident, and it was not a typical "work from home" day, as appointments crisscrossed the entire day with no block of time really ever available to concentrate on a single project. But that wasn't the day's goal.

The day was to hang out with these furry family members. You know they're missing you, too, when even the least social of them runs up to greet you at the door and leap into your arms. I left the house that day soooo congested...

The next day, I was still congested and had a horribly sore throat, one that kept getting worse each day. Timothy called it allergies; I wondered if it wasn't another cold, EXCEPT, it's not typical of my colds, and it would mark the third one since I started the new job January 15.

Sigh! Allergic to cats or a shot immune system. Not pretty either way.

Anyway, with a throat so sore I could barely swallow--much less speak (I can hear someone of you saying, "That's a good thing.")--I crawled into my sleeping bag last night, early, and passed right out.

I awakened this morning, throat still raw, and wondered if a nap should take precedence over a walk. The nap is a major mind clearer and stress breaker, as necessary to my functioning as its physical benefits, so hence my mental wrestling.

Especially since today's schedule is tight. I have lunch today with a freelancer and a WriteOn Joliet meeting tonight.

At four-thirty, I headed downstairs for coffee and heard the pattering of rain on the roof. Well, I thought, it will probably stop by six thirty. Exactly at that moment, thunder crashed. Well, I thought again, that's still two hours away. Except now it's five-thirty, and the rain is not letting up.

Yes, I could ignore what He's saying and layer up anyway (funny how the thunder just started up again), but if I do, in fact, have a cold, running around soaking wet for ninety minutes doesn't sound wise.

And, anyhow, despite the coffee, a nap does sound REALLY good...

(Thunder, right on cue...)


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Playing Dress-Up: Fun With Sisters and Daughters

I was almost in the shower the other night, when I heard a knock. I opened the door a crack, as my seven year old grandson Lucas was running around somewhere, and Rebekah handed me two pairs of jeans.

"Here," she said. "Try these on. If they don't fit, Sarah's giving them to Aunt Karen tomorrow."

I quickly tried them on, and they fit. The waistband sat a little higher than I liked, but I have a couple of favorite T-shirts that don't quite meet the the tops of my other jeans, so these jeans were perfect. I handed them back to Rebekah.

"Three bucks each at Good Will," Sarah called back.

I was almost in the shower again when I heard ywet another knock.

"Try this pair on, too," Sarah said.

Much cuter than the first two, dark blue and slim, they, too fit, more in the fashion I prefer. Sarah looked disappointed and she turned me around and examined me.

"I bought them for me, but the look better on you," Sarah said. "Okay, you can keep them. Wait, don't take them off yet."

She brandished a purple peasant shirt. I quickly slid it over my head, and Sarah liked the look with those jeans. Then I just as quickly shed the clothes and hopped into the shower (we have a long shower line at night), happy to be the owner of four "new" garments, all for probably less than ten bucks.

If you haven't guessed, since my kids were babies, we have creatively bought and swapped clothing: garage sales, friends, resales shops. We feel traditional stores can't meet the prices and variety of styles. Sarah belongs to a clothing exchange in Raleigh, so she nabs anything that looks like a size three and brings it back with her when she visits.

Yesterday, she picked up Rebekah from Joliet Junior College, and they spent a delightful afternoon at Good Will. After Sarah brought me home from work, they emptied bags across the bed and divided up the spoils...and argued in sisterly fashion about the items that didn't make it home and whose fault it was. When they got past it, they pulled clothing off and on and modeled the treasures for me.

So simple a past time. So satisfying the pleasure.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Each Cut Was Worth It

As far back as I can remember, I felt I was created for three purposes. One has yet to see its complete fulfillment, so I won't comment here. A second was writing. A third was to raise a large family.

Legacy, to me is important, and people view it different ways, according to their gifts, talents, and vocations. As far back into my memory as my mind will stretch, I remember saying I wanted to raise ten kids. My own family history had no precedent for that desire. My mother was one of two; my father was one of two; my sister has two. My mother's brother never married; my father's brother has four children, and they have small families, one child a piece, I believe.

When I was expecting my first baby, I had a dream where I saw all six of my children, right down to looks, personalities, etc. The only glitch in that vision is that I dreamed Timothy as a girl, which has become family urban legend. When I awakened, I began letting go of my goal of ten and adjusted it to six. I can't explain it, but there was something about that dream that made me realize it was true.

Still, when people learn I've had six Cesarean sections, they either blanche or can't believe it.

The formal reason, the reason the world would believe, is because of the hacked up job doctor number one performed. But like the doings Pharoah of the Old Testament who would not release the Israelites, I believe God had his hand in the doings of my doctor, because scripture always insisted that God hardened Pharoah's heart.

Too much of a digression to address it here, but, had obstetrician number been more competent, I would have chosen home birth for subsequent pregnancies, had I survived them, that is. What no one knew until 2002 was that my body harbored a rare, lethal adrenal gland tumor that caused most of the complications I experienced during seven pregnancies (I miscarried one baby). The semi-retired endocrinologist that oversaw my follow-up treatment had only seen one pheochromocytoma patient: She was pregnant and died during delivery. You see, as the baby came down her birth canal, it passed over the adrenal gland and released massive amounts of deadly catecholamines (epinephrine, etc.).

Pheochromocytomas are not anyone's friend. I found and tracked mine. Mayo Clinic was impressed. Again, another story.

Standard medical advice is for women to limit themselves to three C/sections. Multiple surgical deliveries bring a host of possible future complications: placenta acreta (where the placenta implants into scar tissue, making it hazardous, if not impossible to remove during delivery), placenta previa (where the placenta, seeking a fresh spot to implant, selects a spot in the lower part of the uterus. As the uterus expands, the placenta tears, and bleeds, sometimes dangerously so), and, of course, uterine rupture. That's not even mentioning the risks of surgery, of which the woman is repeatedly exposed.

And yet, I chose this route double the recommended amount of times. It wasn't rational; it wasn't standard. Why did I do it?

Because in 1981, I believed in something I could not yet see or feel. My only experience of that first baby that autumn was that I threw up 24/7 and had to drop out of my remaining college classes (I was a journalism major and never completed that degree. Funny the turns life takes). Yet, I acted on the belief that this was part of God's intention for my life, even though its fullness was hidden from me and would stay hidden from me for decades.

So when Christopher's fiancee Jennifer planned a surprise birthday party for him on Sunday, it occurred to everyone we finally had an opportunity for a family photo, as Sarah and Lucas were in town. The day was mild, so after dinner, I went for a walk, reflecting and reveling in the old neighborhood, so full of fabulous memories.

I thought through the years; I pondered the challenges ahead. Despite the fear and sometimes high medical drama that accompanied some of those pregnancies and C/sections, I never regretted following what God had placed in my heart. And I certainly don't regret that now. Here is the result of that faith. May God show each of you the path where you must walk, and may you have the courage and fortitude to take each step.