Sunday, April 23, 2017

One Set of Footprints

Today at church we were discussing how we can follow the Savior, serve the Savior and know our Savior.  The teacher used the poem “Footprints in the Sand.”  If you don’t know this poem, pause and go read it.   After reading the last two stanzas  the teacher pointed out that if we truly knew our Savior we would recognize his footprints in the sand and not have to ask the question, “Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”   I like her thinking here and hope desperately that I will recognize my Savior when I meet him but it got me thinking, do I actually agree with this poem?  And guess what? I don’t.

The concept behind this poem is that in the hardest times of our lives the Savior will scoop us up and carry us.  People may have experienced this feeling, I personally have not.  Because in my hardest times in life I find my options are either to sit down and pout (essentially stalling out any progress and frankly making the hard time much worse) or I can choose to move forward no matter how hard.

My question here is do I truly believe the Lord would carry me? Being carried is passive.  Anyone can be carried. But isn’t the point of this existence to become more like him?  To be tested, even if it is super hard? 

See I don’t believe we only see one set of footprints because the Lord decided it was too hard and scooped us up. I hope these are the moments when I quit trying to walk my own path, quit believing I could walk side by side with the Lord. I hope it is a sign that I started fully trusting the path Heavenly Father has set for me. I didn’t trust my footing and so I stopped, listened and very deliberately tried placed my feet in the correct places.  Is it one set of footsteps because this is when I truly began following my Lord?

Wouldn’t it be more profound to look back at your life and find that at some point you truly committed to being a follower of Christ and so from then on, just one trail was found?  My Savior gave his life for me.  He died so that I could try. I don’t want to look back on my life and see pout prints in the sand, I don’t want to choose to be carried.  He died so I could try.  I want to try.  I want to be able to always be progressing and hopefully aligning my path to always be more in sync with my Saviors.  

Monday, August 12, 2013


If you get a little blushy or nervous about words like uterus, ovary and infertility then allow me to jedi mind trick you. This is not the blog you are looking for.  Because it is about to get real up in here, time to write down our story.

In 2002, Josh and I were married and we waited exactly six months before trying to having children.  December* of 2002 was the first of many many months to come where no seed found fertile ground. About 5 months into trying I had debilitating abdominal pains and got the diagnosis and label of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).  My ovaries thought it would be fun to grow multiple cysts and then to let those suckers burst like pinatas of pain.  Brutal. The doctor that diagnosed me also advised that pregnancy would probably not happen.

This is where we decided to introduce humor. My ovaries earned the nickname Ovak-Hai.  Like their relatives the Uruk-hais, the most evil and devious Orc's from Lord of the Rings, my Ovak-Hai decided to attack at the most random times.

Now I can list all the medicines that we took, dates and types of procedures, let's just say years and years of treatments were happily taken in the hopes that we could have a baby.  But fundamentally what it boiled down to was that technology didn't have what I needed to procreate without spending astronomical amounts of money.  Large enough amounts of cash that Josh and I figured out treatments that "may possibly" lead to pregnancy equaled the cost of an adoption.  This is where we decided to stop.  For us it wasn't worth the 30% chance of pregnancy when we could put the money away and be placed with a beautiful baby at a much higher rate of success.  It might take years but at this point years seemed like nothing.

 December 2010 my father, an obgyn and infertility specialist, decided it was time to have the talk.  He quizzed me about what we had tried and when we had last participated in treatments**.  Then to my surprise (which in hindsight is silly) he told me about all the advancements since our last try. And so we decided to go for it again.

This time through some heavy handed spiritual inspiration, no really the Spirit practically hit me in the face, we landed with the right doctor. At my first appointment I explained our long history and that the last doctor we saw said I could not conceive. In return he told me, "Ellen, you'll be pregnant by September or October."  And I'll be honest, I laughed at him.  But I'll be damned, he was right.

In August we were placed with the most amazing baby boy for adoption.  He had an extended hospital stay so we never finalized our adoption until September 1. And people, for the first time in my life I ovulated that month.  So Josh and I had the talk, stop treatments and raise our boy or just keep going.  We chose to keep taking treatments because I think neither of us actually believed we'd get pregnant.  But we did, the second ovulation of my life and with a three month old child in our home***.

In the last six weeks we have been able to celebrate a first birthday and a second birthday for our beautiful sons.  It has been a brilliant time.  But rising from the cake crumbs is the return of the one Ovak-Hai.  That's right I have one ovary.  Not one doctor or ultra-stenographer caught it, not until I was being put back together after my c-section was that little tidbit discovered.  But I'll tell you what this one little Ovak-Hai punk has rage issues.  And so it just goes about business growing cysts and blocking fertility. Further debunking the idea that "it will just be easy" to get pregnant from here on out.  Sigh.

But don't give up on us, if the plan is to have more children in our family it will happen.  Whether by conception or adoption it will happen.

*As a side note, it is a terrible idea to try and get pregnant in December.  It is a memorable month for obvious reasons so as the years roll by without success it is hard not to grieve a little during a month that should be joyous.  

** This is my second rant.  People with medical condition need breaks.  Sometimes you have to stop forcing it and get cool with yourself again.  These breaks and your treatments are frankly no one's business.  By the end of our fertility journey I just started over sharing.  It proved to be the fastest way to get people to stop asking questions.  People want to know, but they don't want to know.  I just decided if they were going to ask, there were either all in or completely out.  Most people opted out.

*** Rant three:  People don't adopt and get pregnant as a regular practice.  We were lucky.  Our adoption had not relaxed us or taken the stress off. That is not why I got pregnant.  I got pregnant because of a good doctor, loads of pharmaceuticals and luck. Most importantly, it was the plan. The Lord knew that E Man needed to be the big brother.  This fact is confirmed to me often as I watch our sons play with a special familiarity.  I have no doubt they new each other before their arrival and had this process all worked out.

Friday, February 8, 2013


As aforementioned in this blog I have vivid dreams.  Vivid is kind of an understatement. Crazy colorful miniature mind movies is more like it. Starting about five years ago Alan Rickman started appearing as a pretty regular character in my dreams. Before you get all "whoa, she's wacko" let me just say I understand this is certainly special.  Clearly my mind has picked Mr. Rickman as the visual manifestation of my subconscious.  And I think that actually that is pretty innovative of my brain.  Alice had the Chester Cat, Pinocchio had the cricket, Tim Burton has Johnny Depp.  I have Alan Rickman.

The first time Mr. Rickman showed up he as a character in a novel that I clearly need to write because five years later I still remember all the details.  In this novel Alan is the moral compass of the book, guiding our heroine on a journey where she correct past missteps.  I think my mind liked him as the moral compass so much it just kept using him to keep me in line.

And so three to five times a year Alan Rickman appears in a dream.  He always introduces himself, "Hi! I'm Alan Rickman."  He's never dressed as Snape or Colonel Brandon, just as Alan Rickman. Then he narrates, clarifies, or point me in the right directions.  In the last dream he showed up to tell me I need more time with a friend who challenges my thought process and makes me a better lady.  Pretty good guidance.  Alan, he's like that. Always looking out for me.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hearts & Farts

This is just something I've got to document so 16 years from now I can look back and remember how grateful I once was that our son can pass gas. 

See E Man was born with two holes in his heart.  An ASD (atrial septal defect) and a VSD (ventrical septal defect). Heart holes are not cool. E Man was suffering heart failure by the age of 2 months.  Over a very long year, he had bi-monthly visits to the cardiologist.  Long doctors appointments, always at least 2 hours.  He suffered from what we believed to be acid reflux. He would have this scary intense gagging spells. Where he'd gag so hard he'd develop red spots on his forehead, his eyes would roll back into his head and he'd grasp for you to help him calm down. These attacks would happen multiple times a day.  Anytime he had gas or had eaten he'd gag.  It sucked, totally heartbreaking to simply hold a child while they suffer and find yourself saying again and again, "You are doing so good. It's going to be okay." Ugh.

At 14 months the doctors finally decided he was ready for open heart surgery.  And yes, it was scary but our boy did great! He was smiling within 24 hours and was released quickly from the hospital.  Recovery was not ideal, he developed a staff infection, but our boy never lost that amazing sparkle.  I think every nurse was in love by the time he was officially sent home.

And here we are 3 month out from the surgery and our boy is amazing. He is constantly on the go, just recently learning to crawl. He laughs loud and yells louder!  But I think the thing that pleased us the most is that he can burp and fart without all the gagging. I never thought I'd cheer for farts but I do.  The reflux and gags are completely gone!  How you might ask are toots tied to heart surgery?  I asked our surgeon the same question and he said to me, "Your body does extreme things when suffering heart failure." 

We are so thankful for our amazing son and for his killer personality.  We are thankful for modern day medicine, heart surgeons and nurses.  And yes, we are thankful for farts.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Color Wheel House of Terror

Tidbit of wisdom:  If you are not permanently in love with the color dark forest green, do not...I repeat DO NOT paint or buy a home with walls this color.  Why?  Because two coats later, it is still dark green!  I'm guessing at least four coats to cover the dark charms of this color. 

As a side note, dragon fire orange painted over dark forest green is quite possibly the ugliest color ever.

Side note squared, painting a room in your house while you have guests that need to sleep in that room later that night equals worst idea ever. 

QED:  Abstain from projects, no matter how good they may seem.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jibber Jabber

"Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb." I've felt a little bit like this lyric from Smash Mouth's "All Star" recently.  I know I have the knowledge in there but my head, okay mostly my mouth, is so dumb right now.  And darling Josh who has been married to a language freak all these years is slightly in heaven as he mentally records all the dumb things I've said recently.  He is good to not correct me or tease me, but I'll see the little smile cross his lips and I know...blast!  I did it again.

Examples to go down in family humor history: 

I started grilling dinner and Josh was finishing up for me.  I saw he was looking around for the grilling utensils and I said, "Oh!  I left the tonsils out there for you."  Tongs, folks, not tonsils.

Last night, we were making plans for dinner and I said, "Well, I did de-thaw some hamburger."
We were swimming in the pool and I got a cramp in my foot.  I said to Josh, "I have this terrible cramp!  What do they call them, you know something about a horse." This is where recall came in and I proclaimed, "I have a horse hickey on my foot."  Josh did openly laugh at this one as he gently asked, "You mean a charlie horse?" 

Right...... I meant charlie horse.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Last Saturday Josh and I went to eat at our favorite sushi joint.  Josh is sort of the "Norm!!"  of this place and so it is always fun to go. Everyone recognizes him. The waitresses are always super helpful and the sushi chef and Josh know each other on a first name basis.  Typically we go for dinner, but we found ourselves there at lunch and so we were seeing a lot of waitresses for the first time in nine months.  They all took turns loving on E boy.  One of the waitresses then pointed at my now thoroughly pregnant tummy and raised her eyebrows at us.  And so we explained that we had adopted our sweet boy and then after trying for nine years got pregnant three months later.  And yes, that meant they'd be a week short of a year apart.  After the typical HOLY MOLEY! pause, the waitress grabbed Josh's arm and fervently explained to him what this means in Korean culture.  I'm going to use her phrasing because it seems more correct that way. 

She explained that often when a couple in Korea have not received a child they adopt.  If then the couple became pregnant the first child became known as the "Lucky Child."  This Lucky Child was to be honored and respected above the other children because the Lucky Child had opened God's eyes and been the doorway for blessings in our family. She then proceeded to tell us that if we wanted to stay in the goodwill of heaven we MUST honor Elliot. He must be highly praised and loved. She took time to look us both in the eyes making sure we understood how important it was.  She then leaned over our son, ran her fingers through his hair and said, "Lucky Baby."

It felt like she'd just given us a beautiful blessing.  We have no doubt there was a plan here.  He is supposed to be our first child and he will always be a source of joy for all of our family.  But I can't shake the urgency in which she reminded us to honor him, to love him, to know he had brought us luck. And we do feel so lucky to have a remarkable boy living with us each day and to have a brother coming.  The joy cannot be explained.  I was truly moved by her sharing these details with us and how she gently admonished us to remember how blessed we are. I can't help but feel that our Elliot will love to hear that he is our "Lucky Child."