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?


God with Us


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


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.


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.”


“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.”


“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?”

A Hot Mess

800px-Airman_executing_a_push-up_as_part_of_the_United_States_Air_Force_Fitness_Test copyI broke in my workout a couple days ago.

I was holding a high plank, staring at the black, cork floor as my sweat made a shiny puddle under my nose. My arms were shaking.

“C’mon, Katie,” the instructor knelt in front of me. “You’ve got this.”

I had just fatigued my shoulders doing renegade rows and double kettle bell push presses, and now, after completing a pushup, I was supposed to walk my hands backwards until I stood bent over my own feet, then walk my hands back out into a high plank and do another pushup. Over and over again. This was only the fifth one in the first set, and I was already about to fall flat on my face. There was no way I could do three sets.

“You can do this.”

I felt a familiar panic overcome me, a desperation of spirit that comes with the Law, with the knowledge of the limits of my own, fallen, diseased flesh. I had felt it before. I had felt it as my doctor filled out a request for diagnostic mammograms four years ago; as my menses started a week late when I was sure I was pregnant; as I rocked back and forth on the floor during a pain episode related to endometriosis; as I put on the hospital gown before my surgery; as I leaned dizzily against the gym wall while I was on Lupron.

My flesh always fails.

The puddle under my nose went blurry as hot tears mixed with my sweat. I gave in to my panic and leaned back on my heels, too embarrassed to look the instructor in the eye. My face was already red and shiny from my workout, so it took a second for her to see the tears.

She leaned back on her own heels. “What’s going on?”

“I just feel so weak.”

I don’t remember what she said in response. I know she was encouraging, and I am sure whatever she said was true. It’s just that there was so much I wasn’t telling her. The pain of endometriosis. The fear of it coming back. Every day of my childless life being a reminder of my failing flesh.

My tears weren’t really about a few measly pushups. My tears were about the grief of this creation groaning in response to sin. My sin. And it overwhelms me sometimes.

In those moments, there is only one thing to do: turn in faith to Him who has mercy on sinners.

“Christ, save me. Christ, forgive me. Christ, come quickly.”

Then, wait in hope for the LORD to deliver me from my failing flesh on the Last Day.

And, while I’m waiting, I might as well try to do another pushup.


I am certain that doctors who recommend women with endometriosis abstain from beef are not actually referring to burgers.

I am also certain that naturopaths who recommend women with endometriosis abstain from dairy are not actually referring to feta cheese.

And I am most certain that nutritionists who recommend women with endometriosis abstain from sugar are not actually referring to the sugar in dark chocolate.

This I do swear to be the the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me to a bag of chocolate chips.

chocolate chips


The Control Factor

MP900321091There is comfort in control.

It is common for victims of assault to comfort themselves with illusions of control. For example, women who have been beaten or raped often find blame in themselves for the crime that was committed against them, because, as long as they are somehow at fault – as long as they are not truly victims of some terrible atrocity outside of their own control – then there is something they can do to keep it from happening again.

We comfort ourselves with illusions of control, as well. As long as there is something we can do to get pregnant – some dietary change or surgical procedure or herbal cocktail or adoption agency we can utilize to give ourselves the gift of a child – then we are not really barren. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for all of the healthy foods, vitamin supplements, doctors, procedures, and foster care training I have utilized over the years, for they have offered me physical relief and instructed me in how to better care for my neighbor; however, none of these things have given me control over my parental status.

If we could really control our barrenness, don’t you think all of us would be parents, already?

Seeking control of our fertility is a chasing after the wind. Children, birthed or adopted, are a heritage from the LORD, a gift from Him to receive. Turn back to your Father in heaven and ask Him to give you all good things according to His will. Then, rejoice, for He is wise in His giving.


Is procreation an intrinsic quality of marriage?

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signQuestion Submitted: At a recent theological symposium, I posited that we in the Church need “to return to teaching properly about the positive locus of marriage – teaching about its procreative purpose and nature.” Another attendee replied in part that “procreation is NOT an intrinsic quality of marriage, as we do not say the infertile are not married.” If I had had a chance for rebuttal, I would have pointed out the error of his logic. Bipedalism is an intrinsic quality of humans, despite the sad reality of paraplegia. It would be very helpful to hear how you would counter the idea that infertility invalidates the argument that procreation is an intrinsic quality of marriage. I have my own answers to this false argument, but I would like to make sure I have an answer that is sensitive to the minds of those who suffer from infertility.

My pastors taught me that God institutes and defines marriage in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2. We learn in verses 1:27-28 that God created man in His own image; male and female He created them, and He blessed them. He told them to be fruitful and multiply, and God saw that “it was very good” (Gen 1:31).

The gift of procreation is not only a blessing God speaks over marriage, but God sees the blessing of children as good.

Barrenness is not good. Barrenness is a brokenness of God’s good creation. Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, low sperm motility, ovarian and cervical cancers, miscarriages, childlessness, and the groaning of all creation came about as a result of man’s fall into Sin; and we don’t use the effects of Sin to redefine that which God institutes and calls “good” in His Word, nor do we use the effects of Sin to defend the notion that procreation is somehow not a part of God’s intrinsic design of marriage. That is my biggest qualm with the other attendee’s rhetoric. His thesis does not fully confess barrenness as a post-Fall reality. Barrenness proves nothing about God’s procreative intent for marriage other than that God, post-Fall, allows the cross of barrenness to burden the shoulders of some married couples.

In regards to being sensitive to the barren, we should be careful not to turn God’s good, fruitful blessing for marriage into man’s good work. Scripture tells us that having children is not a law of God for us to keep but a heritage from Him for us to receive (Psalm 127:3). None of us would have children apart from God’s merciful blessing and giving. Only God in His wisdom knows why He does not open the wombs of the barren, and we should not burden the consciences of those who are unable to have children by suggesting they should be able to outwit the very Author of Life.

And as for using the existence of barrenness as an excuse to avoid the gift of children in marriage, I can think of no place in Scripture where God calls that good.