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About Eric’s Wife

Some may say I am a "Stay at home Mom," but that is not even close. I am Eric's Wife. 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.

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.

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.