Endometriosis

Happy Grandmother’s Day!

Have you considered the facts?

  • Your uterus is not performing at her peak these days.
  • Your doctors draw your blood regularly and order further medical tests.
  • Your pillbox has both an AM and PM dispenser.
  • You spend your evenings volunteering at church and around town because you have the time.
  • The majority of the Christmas gifts you wrap end up under other families’ trees.
  • You pull up pictures and videos on your phone of other adults’ children to show at parties.
  • You thrill when a small hand makes a sticky print on your clean window or spills apple juice on your polished floor.
  • You rejoice when a child asks you to read her the same book five times in a row.
  • Children tell you their secrets and ask you to display their colored artwork on your refrigerator.
  • Parents generously bring their children over to your house to visit at their best hours and then take them home for their worst hours.
  • You travel all across the nation just to sit on a bleacher and watch amateur sports.
  • You wash the dishes and wipe down kitchen counters for weary mothers.
  • You offer them your shoulder to cry on and hope they will allow you to mother them this late in life.
  • You watch parents struggle in raising their children and hold your tongue.
  • You pray for all of them day and night.
  • You grieve your own empty nest.

Have you considered the fact that you skipped motherhood altogether in this life and jumped straight into the role of grandma?

It’s not what you wanted, I know, but you have to admit: the joys are deep, the work abundant, and the sleep better than most. It is good to be you.

And for this reason, may I wish you the happiest of Grandmother’s Days tomorrow and every day?

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God with Us

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My mom does something really nice. She sits on the edge of the world with me, both literally and figuratively.

She, who is uncomfortable in high places, hikes to the cliff of my choice — usually the nearest, rough-hewn, dangerous place to which perpetual grief has pushed me — and shares my rock.

Those moments are un-rushed. We don’t talk much. We sit and look and listen and be. I sometimes meet a sob at the end of every breath, but other times my lungs are too busy handling the clean fragrance of juniper berries to bother with anything else.

But Barrenness, my tethered companion, is on that rock, too, and my mom knows it. She wisely never tries to push it over the ledge, for she knows it would take me with it. No, she let’s us both remain, and she stays with us for as long as we want to sit there.

My dad does something really nice, too. He sits with me until the pain goes away.

One summer afternoon my insides throbbed and twisted and turned with the force of a hurricane, and I sat doubled over in pain for hours. My dad led me out onto the front step — there was more privacy outside than in that day — and weathered every minute of the storm by my side. He never said a word but offered me his arm to squeeze through the violent gusts. He was my lighthouse and my harbor, a silent, unmoving, hopeful presence amidst the raging tempest.

My parents serve as masks of God to me in my suffering. They sit with me and wait with me and bear with me, preaching to me with their presence that God, indeed, sits with me and waits with me and bears with me in my suffering, too. They are icons of God’s promise never to leave me nor forsake me, beautiful illustrations of Emmanuel, “God with us.”

I try to remember this whenever I am given the opportunity to sit with someone else in her suffering.

Bearing the Pain

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A co-worker sent me the link below. It’s an eye-opening account of what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I would imagine many readers of this blog will be able to relate to Christine Miserandino’s descriptions. Perhaps it’s not physical pain you carry with you each day – perhaps it’s emotional or psychological. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, if it occurs each day, or for certain seasons of your life, you know what it means to wear the “I’m doing fine” mask, and it makes you weary and feeling closed off from the rest of the “healthy” world. See Christine’s unique analogy here: ButYouDon’tLookSick.com.

Allow me to put things into perspective, though.

First, from Romans 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

And second, from the Lutheran Service Book, Hymn 423:

Jesus, refuge of the weary,

Blest Redeemer whom we love,

Fountain in life’s desert dreary,

Savior from the world above:

Often have Your eyes, offended,

Gazed upon the sinner’s fall;

Yet upon the cross extended,

You have borne the pain of all.

A Great, Big, Giant YES

We become so used to hearing noes from God when it comes to our request for children.

We even become conditioned to hearing noes when it comes to our request for relief from the physical pain and expensive medical procedures that often accompany our chronic diseases. We grow up in our suffering and recognize the Refiner’s fire for what it is, and we cling all the more to God’s promise to work the burning for our good and for the good of our neighbors.

We expect the fire, and, in good faith, we accept it.

I guess that’s why it’s always such a sweet, pleasant surprise when God gives a yes.

Oh, now, I’m not talking about a yes to the gift of children nor to the gift of physical relief. No, I’m talking about a yes to the gift of vocation.

You see, it seems the more I pray for children, the more God gives me books to write. (Don’t get me wrong! I do not believe these gifts to be interchangeable, nor is a book better than a baby. But still. This is how it is today in the life of Schuermann.)

In this particular case, God has said yes to House of Living Stones, my very first fiction book and Concordia Publishing House’s (CPH) first, bold push into the choppy waters of the Christian fiction industry. We’re both excited and nervous; we’re both eager to put a Lutheran stamp on a largely un-Lutheran market; we’re both small fish in a big sea; and we both need your help.

Though the Christian fiction market is big, our church is small. There is risk in publishing a book outside of one’s Fach, but that risk is worth taking when it means our brothers and sisters in Christ will have a little story to read and enjoy that teaches, confesses, and celebrates the Good News of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of our sins.

So, dear friends, could you please help out a small writer and a small publishing company by preordering a copy(ies) of House of Living Stones? This book is for men and women alike, so it would be the perfect thing to put in your special someone’s Christmas stocking or your bestie’s gift bag. Truth be told, it would make me the happiest writer alive if you bought a copy of this book for yourself and holed up in an armchair at your favorite coffee shop with a mocha or cup of chamomile in hand and indulged in a little Lutheran read-fest of your own.

If this book does well, then maybe CPH will be able to launch more rich tales of our delightful, quirky, faithful church heritage into those perilous, choppy waters. This is good news for our church and for all of you talented writers out there currently crafting the next novel of import.

November is not too far away, but you can preorder House of Living Stones today and save 20% by using the promo code YHS at checkout!

In the meantime, click on the book icon below and enjoy a little taste of the fictional but all-too-real life of our zany, fun brothers and sisters in Christ at Zion Lutheran Church in a small town not too far away from your own…

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schuermann

Stretch Marks

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It struck me this morning as I lay on my bedroom floor, stuffing and tucking and pushing and pulling and pinching my Athena flesh into a wetsuit, that pregnancy is not the only experience to produce stretch marks in the female body.

Nor is birth the only kind of labor. Plenty of groaning and growling and measured breathing are required to pull one of those blasted things off.

To all of you entering triathlon season: May the road rise to meet your running shoes. May the wind always be at your back on the bike. May the sun shine warm upon the lake and rise the water temp above 70 degrees. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

Artifice

20071224-1937 copyA long time ago in a land far, far away – long before Prince Charming entered the story – I used to sing for my supper. Literally. I taught at a private music school during the day and gigged at night, and some evenings my teaching schedule crept dangerously close to the pit orchestra’s downbeat.

On one such evening, I remember having only a meager thirty-five minutes in between my final piano class of the day and curtain call at the theater to turn my loafer-ed, spectacled, teacher-self into a seventeenth-century princess with full corset and wig – all without the help of a fairy godmother, I might add – and every one of those thirty-five minutes needed devoting to transportation. The theater sat a good forty-five minutes across town.  

I did what any reasonable adult would do. I applied my stage make-up before my final piano class and strategically set my bag by the door so I could bolt to my pumpkin-carriage the second my students finished playing their major triads.

Only, there was a small glitch in my plan. One of my voice students lingered too long after her lesson, and I only had time to apply make-up to one eye before the piano class started.

I felt like a freak show as I walked into that classroom, my right eye a circus act of blues and pinks and curling lashes while my left eye remained a plain, unadorned stagehand. I remember little, blonde Alexa looking at me with wide eyes, and I braced myself for the unfiltered truth which would inevitably pour from her six-year-old mouth.

“Oh, Mith Katie,” Alexa lisped. “You are thoooo beautiful.”

Huh. She didn’t seem to mind that only half of my face was a rainbow. Apparently, even a little bit of make-up was an improvement in Alexa’s eyes.

“Thank you, Alexa.”

I won’t bother you with the details of how I actually broke the law managed to get to the theater on time that night, nor will I spend time psychoanalyzing the concept of beauty as understood by a young, female child. I will simply tell you how this experience set me up to cope with something that occurred fourteen years later. 

“Aunt Katie,” my niece said a few months ago, sitting on my lap and eyeing my face with a good measure of fear and disapproval, “you don’t have any eyebrows.”

“I know.”

“Why?”

“Some medicine made them go away, and they never came back.”

My niece reprimanded that which was missing with a sharp wiggle of that which she had in abundance before settling back in my lap to resume the story we had been reading.

Thankfully, Alexa had taught me the magic spell make-up casts over young girls, so I didn’t panic. I simply purchased an eyebrow pencil and cut some well-placed bangs across my forehead. Now, my niece doesn’t even notice what’s missing. I’d still rather not have to walk through the Midway that is the make-up aisle in department stores, but I suppose I’ve hit that age when indulging in a little artifice is a service I can offer to my littlest neighbors.

So, bring on the Rimmel 001, ladies. Feather those bangs. Endometriosis may try to be an evil stepmother in our lives, but she need not keep our princesses from going to the ball.

The doctor’s in…

IMG_1879 copyWe were blessed to have an OB-Gyn speak with us at The Great Getaway last summer. Here is a collection of some of the wise tidbits he shared with us:

On infertility…

“Fertility is one of those areas in life where God has us where He wants us. We have to lay it down. We have to give it to God. Who ultimately is in control? It’s not me [the doctor]; it’s not you and your husband; God is the one in control.”

“Infertility is a cross. It’s the cross God has given us. We are to bear our crosses.”

“We can’t even claim to understand why this is happening. This is a wound only God can heal.”

“No matter what happens, your Father loves you. Your Father has your best in mind.”

“Our culture says, ‘I have a right to have my 2.2 children when I want them. Children are things.’ We do not have a right to have children…Children are a precious gift from God.”

“If we had something that worked 100% of the time, then we would lose the awe and wonder of creation.”

On IVF…

“Infertility is not a disease. It is a symptom of a problem. IVF circumvents that problem. Let’s figure out the problem rather than circumvent the problem.”

“Who in the world do we think we are in saying that someone is a Grade D embryo?”

“For every baby that is born through IVF, between 20 to 30 are lost.”

The cost? “$15,000-$18,000 per cycle”

On why life begins at conception…

“Genetically, that embryo is not the mom; that embryo is not the dad. That’s a new person.”

On whether or not the pill ever acts as an abortifacient…

“If it happens once, isn’t that too many?”