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About Eric’s Wife

I'm Eric's wife. I am also two kids' Mom, a fine couple's kid, the acting world's underpaid stepchild, God Almighty's heir, and three strapping young mens' sister. I have exhilarating strokes of genius, followed almost immediately by paralyzing pangs of self doubt and, for whatever reason, here is where I blog about it - warts and all. I serve a merciful God with a clumsy hand and at the end of each day I go to sleep thankful to be His servant and Eric's wife.

Read About My MS Fight Here

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Aw. I’m Her Liebster.

May 28, 2014

Sweet Angie Caswell nominated me for a Liebster award.  I did a little Google searching to find out what on earth that is, and it turns out that Liebster means “dearest” in German.  How sweet is that?  Anywho, Angie set me up with a list of ten questions and I aim to answer them.  Here goes:

1. What is your favorite guilty pleasure (game, TV show, snack, etc.)

I could eat four hundred Sausalito cookies in one sitting.  I’ve only ever had 8 in one go, but that’s because they come in packages of 8.

2. How do you hope your blog impacts others?

I hope it makes people laugh, then think a little, and then laugh again.
3. What is your top moment this week (funny, happy, most memorable – whatever “best” means to you)?

I live in a super awesome and tiny house that my Dad built.  My Dad was IKEA before IKEA was IKEA and there is no square inch of space that does not have a purpose.  I love this little house.  My top moment this week was when I invited 50+ people over to celebrate my friend’s high school graduation (one year early!  what, what!)  The plan was to have the party outside, but it poured rain and the whole crowd squeezed into our house and IT WORKED.  High points: 1)it rained!!  2)the house spread out like a scroll and held the masses.
4. How did you overcome your worst (most disappointing, most challenging, saddest, etc.) moment this week? 

I’m not proud of this, but a cold shoulder was involved.  It’s all good now.
5. Where is your favorite place to visit?

I’m going to cop out on this one a little bit and say that my favorite place to visit is any place where my little family happens to be going with.  I like seeing new and exciting places and my heart just about explodes when I get to do that with my family.
6. What would be your dream vacation? Where would you go, what would you see and do?

I would love to go back to Russia as a tourist instead of as a bone marrow transplant patient.  I got glimpses of some of its incredible beauty and I’d like to go back and soak it in and show my kids where their Dad and I disappeared to for 6 weeks.
7. Who most inspires you in your daily routine?

People I know who keep going.  Life is hard on everyone at some point and I am daily inspired by people who don’t quit.  I know several of them and I smile when I think of them.
8. What is your favorite memory from any time in your life?

I don’t really have a favorite all time memory, but I’ll give you my most recent favorite.  Several weeks ago I presented Luke 1-2:20 to a group of parents and kids for their LTC wrapup/kickoff.  My kids have seen me do this work many times before, but this was my first ever New Testament piece.  When I finished, my daughter raced up to me, while people were still clapping, and wrapped her arms around me, saying, “That’s my favorite story in the Bible!  I loved watching you do that!”  She is not my public expression kid and her overwhelming joy and pride is my most favorite recent memory.
9. What is your favorite time period in history?

I grew up reading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  My favorite time period in history is the romanticized version of the 1800s.  I’m not sure I would enjoy the real deal.
10. What song can always make you smile, bring you out of a bad mood, or just get you out of a “funk”?

This won’t make any sense, but Garth Brooks’ “Ireland” is my all time favorite song to sing along with and I cannot be in a bad mood when it comes on.  Am I listening to it right now?  Yes.

I’m No Gossip, But I Have This One Friend…

May 27, 2014

I had no idea that I had a raging problem with gossip until this past year.  For the purpose of this post, I define gossip as any kind of talk about a person or institution that is unhelpful, harmful, or slanderous.  (I just typed that and realized that it is a pretty standard definition.  Whatever.)

I spent the last year kind of checked out of personal relationships outside of immediate family.  I did not do this for the purpose of rehabilitating my gossiping ways, but because I needed time to heal my mind and emotions after 18 years with MS and then the very real trauma of having an international bone marrow transplant to get rid of the MS.  I’d go back to Russia and do the whole thing again in a heartbeat if I had to, but there is no denying that the experience was way bigger than I was prepared to deal with in a social setting.

Being checked out of the fast paced world of girls’ night out and meeting up for coffee made me keenly aware of how often those get togethers devolved into lengthy conversations about people – bless their hearts.  Even worse was when I realized that talking about others was my own personal default setting for chats.  I never considered it gossip for a couple of reasons: 1) I was going to talk about the person’s problems in an effort to try and help that person.  2) I would never want my words to hurt others and my intentions made all the difference, right?

Here is what I now know: talking about people is almost never helpful.  I say “almost” because there are a few instances when talking about others is extremely helpful.  Examples: 1) “Hey, do you guys think it looks like Suzy is choking?  Hey!  She is choking!  Let’s heimlich maneuver her back to life!”  2) “Don’t tell Pam, but I’m buying her a new car.”  3) “Because her drinking is out of control, and we are among her most trusted and loved friends, we should have a loving talk with her.”

All the instances I just mentioned involved one final outcome: the person of topic is eventually made aware in a loving manner of the behind their back conversations.  In all of the mentioned scenarios, the person is only being talked about because of genuine concern and love.

Gossip also involves love and concern, but it is love and concern for self.  Talking about the failures of others highlights my own lack of failure in the same area.   I can easily convince myself that I am a health nut if I only talk about the idiot Mom I saw feeding her kids high fructose corn syrup, bless her heart.  I can excuse my own hoarding by exposing the obscene hoarding of others.  I can easily forgive my occasional bouts of anger when I spend hours discussing how others have a problem controlling their own.  Give me enough idle hours picking someone apart, and I can even become convinced that I am the very hero who needs to sit that person down for a chat about how far they have fallen.  (Chats born of such gossip never end well.  I am ashamed to admit how many times I’ve had to repeat that occurrence to realize it.)

I like talking about ideas and this often means discussing the people who present the ideas.  That’s okay.  I like talking about ways the Church can be more effective in spreading the Gospel and this sometimes means talking about the ways it is failing.  That is okay.  I like sharing recipes and that sometimes means talking about people I know who are terrible cooks and have no business pretending they are good at it.  That is not okay.

It is extremely rare for talking about someone to be a good and helpful thing.  It is extremely common for it to end miserably for all involved.  It grieves me to know that I’m a gossiper and I flinch at the memories of certain conversations.  This blog post comes to you from my recovery ward and I hope it causes all of us to consider a different level of chatter.

10 Ways You Are Getting Parenting Right

March 26, 2014

Have you heard of Facebook?  If you haven’t, then you are in an elite class of human.   Facebook is a place to announce your plans for the day, share pictures of your kids (pets, recent meals, feet propped up in various locations) and, most importantly, share blog posts about how you can be a better parent (spouse, employer, employee, pet owner.)  These posts are rarely written by experts, so I naturally decided to add my voice to the noise.

Instead of telling you tips, I have decided to give you a pass and tell you ten ways that you are getting parenting right.  Scoot the laundry off the sofa and plop down for a little bit of affirmation.

1. Your kids are sometimes bathed and rarely ever smell awful for company.  Go you!

2.  You have provided your kids with a pet.  Experts say that pets… whatever.  You got a pet and the kids seem to like it.  Can’t argue with results.

3.  You refused to get your kids a pet because you don’t need the hassle.  You know your limits and that makes you a model parent.

4.  There is food provided and they have eaten enough to continue existing.  People may dicker over details, but this blog gives you a gold star.  Good job keeping them alive.

5.  There are clothes in your home and your kids wear them.  Left all by themselves, they’d run around like naked heathens, but you put a stop to that nonsense with your keen parenting.

6.  Your kid was/will be potty trained before kindergarten.  It’s possible to over plan these things, but you made it.  Congratulations on those diaperless bottoms.

7.  You make them go to bed.  Bed times vary, but you’re no dummy and you make them sleep.

8.  Your kid refuses to sleep and you have not killed your child.  Let me be among the crowd that offers you a standing ovation.  Those six mind numbing hours that you spent staring at Facebook today are not on your permanent record.  You were up all night and your kid still lives.  You get a pass.

9.  That one thing that your kid wanted so badly, whatever it was, and you made it happen?  That puts you on the good parenting team.  Like food, people will argue and post all kinds of things on Facebook about how, when, and why good parents buy their kids certain items, but this blog is going to swipe all that off the table and just say, “Good for you.  Your kid wanted it and you made it happen.”

10.  You worry often that you are doing a terrible job.  Horrible parents do not worry that they are doing a terrible job.  Part of the reason they are so awful is because they don’t second guess any of their awful choices.  You worry, you second guess, you lay awake at night feeling certain you have blown it: all good signs that you are getting parenting right.

 

On Memorizing The Word

January 17, 2014

“Believing God’s word is vastly more crucial than memorizing it. But O the mighty service rendered to faith by such memory.” -John Piper

Much has been written about memorizing Scripture.  I can’t intend to write a post about why you should commit to memorizing bulk portions.   What I can do, is tell you how it has matured my walk in ways I couldn’t have known when I started and then let you decide if maybe this is something you can do as well.

I began my efforts for no other reason than to see if I could.  I cannot pretend that I started with high spiritual reaches in mind.   I did include talks with God in my efforts, and I felt I walked closer than usual with Him while I worked.  I memorized the book of Ruth.  I chose it because it was that or Esther and Esther is 10 chapters, while Ruth is 4.  Seriously, I had no intentions that this would also be an exercise in my faith walk.   I am a very slow student, but God is a patient Teacher.

After Ruth, I added the first 3 chapters of Genesis.  The time I spent in those chapters remain very precious to me.  I felt like God was constantly saying, “This is My story.  This is Who I Am.”

Still, I plowed through my work as though it was more an assignment than important meal.  I added the book of Jonah, Genesis 4 and 22, Isaiah 51-54 to my list in this same way: Always treasuring the very real introduction I was receiving from God in His Word and how it was transforming my daily life, but not making the connection that the key factor in those seasons was that I was committing His Word to my mind and heart.

Such a slow learner.

During the time that I was cured of MS, I spent 9 days in isolation.  My nurses spoke no English and I spoke only during my doctor’s three times daily visits.  I entered that time with the full knowledge that God was in the middle of it.  I felt Him prowling that room like a Lion.  I woke up from my transplant with these sweet words on my mouth,

Awake, awake,
put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you
the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.

I was healed.  I knew it and He had put His Words in my mouth to seal it.  That was about the time that it occurred to me that I had stumbled onto something much bigger than a simple brain exercise.  Slow and steady wins the race.

After we returned home, I began working on Esther.  Because I also present these Scriptures dramatically, I had decided to only do the first 8 chapters because it felt like it ended well there for staging purposes.  I worked on those 8 chapters with a performance date on the calendar.  If you haven’t read it lately, you should know that there are seven eunuchs, seven nobles, 2 regions and a lineage in the first three chapters.It was glorious work.  I don’t know that I have ever gotten it 100 percent right on stage, but I have all by myself and it’s a joy to have it rattling around in my brain.

By the time I got to Esther, I’d had my light bulb moment.  I knew that every word mattered, every name, every town.  These were people.  They lived and this is how God operated among them.  This is how God operates.  I took that Word and I memorized it, I meditated on it, I let it seep into my marrow.  More than any Bible study I’ve ever attended – and I’ve been to some great ones – more than any good spiritual book, more than any anything I have ever tried or had suggested, this has been the one thing that has finally settled my soul.

I have found much gain from fasting, Bible study, small groups, good books, and a host of other opportunities in this land of plenty.  Through it all, I still wrestled with wanting to really know Who God is.  Bulk Scripture memorization settled my soul.  I don’t know if it will do the same thing for you, but I wanted to let you know what happened to me when I did it.

 

 

The Best Shoes I Ever Got

January 7, 2014

It’s a long story and one that I’m sure I’ve shared before, but I was always certain that I would one day see the last of Multiple Sclerosis.  How I came to have that faith is the long story.  I am thrilled to get to now share the latest development in my healing.

I had MS for 18 years, diagnosed at age 17.  When I was 28 I experienced a worsening of my symptoms.  I held tight to my hope of healing and decided to toss out my fleece and make a request for a sign.  I needed hope.  I asked God for a pair of running shoes.  I needed some person in my circle of friends and family to feel compelled to give me a pair of running shoes, with the belief that I would use them.

I told five people about this request.  One friend declared that she wanted to go out right then and get me a pair.  I made her swear to never do such a thing and she was the fifth person I told.

When I was 31 I had a spring/summer of sudden reprieve.  My walking became quicker and I gained strength.  I was able to walk up to three miles without assistance.  Though I was excited, I had not received the running shoes and I remained cautious.  I feel a little silly and “oh ye of little faith”  for telling you how seriously I took this gift of shoes, but this story won’t make any sense if I skip that part.

By 33, I was again using my scooter for routine outings and soon began using a cane when not using the scooter or wheelchair.  Many of you know that by 34 I had been accepted to the HSCT program at Pirogov hospital in Moscow, Russia.  By God’s grace and His hand on so many, I received a bone marrow transplant on my 35th birthday.  I responded miraculously well to the transplant.

Today, I can easily walk a mile unaided.  I need no cane and I have not graced a wheelchair or scooter since way back when I was 34.

I felt God all over our Russian journey.  Money was raised in such a way that we never had a moment’s worry that it wouldn’t be covered.  I felt like we had body surfed there.  I went through chemo beautifully and with no serious complications.  I came home – bald and ten very much needed pounds heavier.  MRIs confirmed what I felt in my bones: The disease was stopped and retreating.

The shoes became, for me, not a needed sign that I was cured, but a finishing touch.  I knew He had worked His miracle.  I knew the shoes would come.

On Sunday night/Monday morning at 1am, my little family returned home from a drive from Missouri, where we had a great visit with dear friends (preceded by equally satisfying stops to see family in Kansas and Wisconsin.)  I turned on the kitchen light and saw a package on the counter with the mail my Mom had collected for me.  It was a shoe box shaped package.  The sender was a dear friend who had challenged me to a 5k.

I tore that box open like an 8 year old on Christmas morning.

Inside was my brand new pair of neon colored, super fancy, make me run faster than you, running shoes.  Attached was a note telling me to name the time and place.

Long story short:  God is faithful.  Dark times do not always foretell dark ends.

I have waited 8 years to tell you about these shoes.  Anyone up for a 5k?

 

new shoes.

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I’m a Terrible Gardener, However…

July 10, 2013

My neighbor had a stroke on Memorial Day weekend.  What I know about him mostly comes from observations over the fence.  This man is in his seventies and spent hours each day working in his yard and giant vegetable garden.  His niece recounted a story to us about how, before he even built his house on the land, he lifted up a handful of dirt and said, “This is MY dirt.”  Because I knew only that he had a heart for his land, and a fondness for putting Scripture in his self poured concrete, I took only a second’s thought to agree to tend to his garden while he recovers.

I always thought that I wanted to have a nice big garden, but now I know that I have no desire for anything bigger than a few square feet.  Working this land has been like babysitting someone’s hyperactive sextuplet toddlers to decide whether or not you want kids.

It is certainly a big job, but one I feel was given to me at the exact time when I needed something big and difficult to manage.  I have a lot of big and difficult things flying around my head that cannot be managed, dealt with, or changed.  Nothing unusual to me or to the human condition, but enough that my chemo brain and recovering body slipped into a depression like I have never experienced before.  There are days and weeks when I feel moderately better, but then there are entire months when I would rather just crawl back under the covers.

Here’s the thing about gardening: it happens in the sunshine and you cannot do it from under your covers.  If it was my own garden, I would have left it alone and let it die, but I feel a certain charge to have my neighbor return to see his land was not neglected.  This charge has seen me spend hours pulling weeds, watering dozens of fruit and nut trees, and having most of this time all to myself in the quiet outdoors.   Dirt under my nails has not cured me completely of depression, but I do believe it has kept me from disengaging altogether.

And so, while my dear neighbor works to come home, I am also working to come home.  I needed this deliberate quiet time to chat with God and marvel at His creation and I never in a million years could have guessed this would help at all.  I thought I just needed a cruise to Cancun, but whatever.

 

Debating the Undebatable: Abortion

June 27, 2013

I believe that Jesus is God and that He came to redeem my soul through His death on the cross.  Outside of that belief, I try not to get into dirt kicking contests in the public square.  I let other, more knowledgeable folks debate the peripherals about what walking with Christ should look like.  Please pardon me then, as I am about to attempt to discuss a difficult issue with my very amateur sense.

I want to address my dearly loved friends who believe that the pro-life movement is borne of a hatred of women.  I am not a Republican, though I agree with their general stance on abortion.  My reasoning is not because I care to get involved with what you do with your girl parts and I do wish we could have a chat about abortion without bringing them up.  It is not because I believe sex is dirty and nobody should be doing it.  It is not because I believe that everyone should agree with my thoughts on unmarried sex.

The simple truth is that I believe that life begins at conception.  We can debate all day long when that life has value and worth, but I do not think you will ever convince me that worth only applies to one side of the womb any more than I could convince you that life only has worth after pre-school.

When you think of the pro-life movement and determine that they are a bunch of Bible beaters who have a perverse desire to dictate how you operate your uterus, you dismiss the reality under which they work.  Lines like, “Don’t want an abortion? Don’t get one.” have no more more power in the argument than if I were to say, “Don’t like throwing toddlers in front of buses?  Don’t throw one.”  Because we believe that life in the womb is the most vulnerable stage of human growth, there will always be a fight to be had in this arena.  You will never, and I mean this sincerely, have abortions without protests.

In truth, I wish I did not believe that life begins at conception.  My life would be far less complicated if I could just agree that there is no living, feeling, one of a kind person growing in the womb.  But I can’t.

I understand that there are cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother hanging in the balance, though I would argue that those are extreme cases and extreme cases make bad law.  Abortion is a multi billion dollar industry in this country and it is highly doubtful that extreme cases make up more than a tiny fraction of yearly procedures.

It appears as though our society is at a place where there will always be abortion and this means that there will always be protests.  These protests are not because angry white men want to police vaginas – but rather, the protests are because people like me are deeply moved to protect what we believe to be lives with worth.

(I welcome comments on this post, but I would appreciate it if we could stay on the topic of abortion and not delve into any other policies of either political party.  As I said, I am not a Republican, an Independent, or a Democrat.  This is not the place for CNN style commenting.)

 

My Apologies

March 9, 2013

When I was in middle school I had a friend whose mom was fond of saying, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of comedy.”  To which I was fond of responding, “That’s just because you have never heard it done correctly.”  I considered myself an artist and sarcasm was my favorite medium.  My friend’s mother has been haunting me since yesterday and I am now forced to make a formal apology.

<deep breath>

Dear America, I mishandled sarcasm in a brutal and confusing manner.  I am deeply sorry for the confusion.  Sincerely, Eric’s Wife

See, what had happened was that there was a blog post floating around the internet called, “Dear Mom on Your iPhone.”  I won’t link to it here because I suspect the author of the blog post would like for the heat to die down and I respect that.  In her post, the author wrote a lengthy and guilt heavy letter to some anonymous mother she witnessed at the park.  This mother got caught in the blogger’s crosshair when she was witnessed staring at her iPhone instead of paying attention to her kids as they played.  I must confess that the post made me angry and I responded in kind.

I was not angered at the notion that most smart phone owning parents could stand to practice better smart phone etiquette, but rather, I was angered at the author’s use of guilt to preach to the unaware mother.  Her choice to slap us all around with guilt is nothing  new to the mother sisterhood.  I’ve done it and I’ve had it done to me enough to recognize its bitter taste well before it reaches my palate.

I wrote a heavily sarcastic letter parodying hers and posted it with no explanation as to the source of my screed.  I am sorry if you thought it was meant to seriously attack smart phone using parents and I am especially sorry if you thought it was directed at you.

The fact is that most mothers have their bags packed and ready for a guilt trip at the drop of a hat.  The lightest of touches can send us to the train station with ticket in hand.  I don’t think I am being heavy handed when I say that it is cruel to attempt to use guilt to correct another’s behavior and it is especially cruel to use guilt against a mother who is likely treading water and barely keeping her nose dry.

If your kids are fed and they know they are loved by you, I’ve got nothing on you when it comes to parenting.  You may make different wrong choices than I do, but that is okay and you are allowed those wrong choices.  If you are like me (a growing human), I expect that you will learn from those wrong choices and adapt to better choices.  In the end, I expect that we will both have raised adults who can function in society reasonably well.  If I see you on your smart phone in the park, I can’t judge because right now my kids are eating cold cereal while I blog.

Here’s the funny part of my having to chew on my words for the past 24 hours: I realized that I was guilty of the very same effort that angered me in the first place.  In my own way, I was trying to guilt that mommy blogger into feeling awful for how she tried to make other mothers feel guilty.  Face->Palm

Here’s to a Saturday full of new mercy – new mercy given to us freely from God, which we can then offer to the parents in our midst.

Dear Mom on the Android Brand Smart Phone

March 8, 2013

How did I know exactly what kind of phone you have?  Well, I watched you for a very long time to get all the details.  As I sat here on my park bench, shushing my kid with Cheetos and watching you with your smart phone, I couldn’t help but feel that an open letter to the universe was in order.

You see, Mom on the Android Brand Smart Phone, we live in an age when you cannot count on the mercy of strangers and casual acquaintances.  It’s possible that you spent your entire morning eyeball to eyeball with your kids and I have only seen the unraveled bits of the end of the day, but I can’t know that for certain.  All I know about you is the top of your head while you look at your smart phone and all I can conclude is that you are a pretty awful Mom.

Maybe it doesn’t seem fair to you that I am able to make this sweeping judgement of you based on a single snap shot of your day, but that’s the way of the mommy sisterhood, Sister.  Surely you know that the only thing that motivates us Moms to greatness is piles of guilt.  Without the heavy burden of a guilty conscience, no Mom would ever do anything nice for her kids ever.  When you look at it this way, I am doing you a huge favor with this offering.  When your heart moves south and becomes nothing more than a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you are paralyzed by the notion that you have truly screwed up the lives of perfectly innocent people, then you can finally parent with confidence.

Perhaps you had an awful day and you were doing well to get out the door in pants.  My feeling sorry for you won’t help you in any way.  My job as the stranger on the park bench is to call out bad parenting and I saw you from a mile away.  I suppose I should thank you, Mom on the Android Brand Smart Phone.  Without the opportunity to sit in judgement of you, I would have had to find some other way to confirm my awesome parenting and “Super Nanny” doesn’t come on tonight.

In Christian Love,

Eric’s Wife

 

 

Thoughts on the “R” Word

March 7, 2013

They walk among us, and yet we hold them in a different place than we hold the “normals” in our midst.  We assume that they live a life that hovers an inch above the reality we know and that they are oblivious to our notice of them.  We stare, comment, talk around them and walk away from them, never stopping to wonder if their day is anything less than smiley.  And worse, we devalue their struggles and slap their diagnosis of “retardation” on our own and others’ minor blunders.

I am guilty of using the word “retarded” in casual conversation to refer to my occasional trip up, or the trip up of someone else.  I have referred to ideas as “retarded” and have without a second thought referred to perfectly healthy people as “retarded.”  I am ashamed of myself for this and I am only confessing this to you now in hopes that you will consider a shift to your vocabulary.

It is easy to argue that “retard” is a word used to refer to stunted thinking and therefore appropriate to use in reference to what appears to be a stunted thought.  I would argue that this is not unlike comparing a stubbed toe to a leg amputation.  When you accidentally put salt in your coffee instead of sugar, you are not “retarded.”  You are “lost in thought”, “otherwise occupied”, “not paying attention”, or any other turn of phrase you can muster.  You are not retarded.

The truly diagnosed retarded people I have known in my life work harder than I would ever dream to go about their day to day.  They live in the moment and are present for each task at hand and they  carry on with a strength many of us will never have to dig deep enough for.  We do them and ourselves an enormous disservice when we blithely toss the word around.

Nobody wants to have their greatest struggle held up for mockery by the common man.  Stop being common with your vocabulary.  Be extraordinary and let your eyes be opened to the truly extraordinary people who walk among us.