Cookies are dessert.

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For his Father’s Day dessert, my hubby wanted chocolate chip cookies. His favorite recipe is one I have had for years. Let’s face it. Chocolate chip cookie recipes are like meatloaf recipes. Everybody has one, and everybody thinks theirs is the best. Difference is, people actually like chocolate chip cookies.

When I was a girl growing up at Vandament Avenue Baptist Church in Yukon, Oklahoma, we had a sweet little old lady member named Blanche James. She lived in a little house in Yukon and she quilted like a dream. She was very crafty and made me handmade items when I was younger. My mom was able to get Blanche’s chocolate chip cookie recipe before she passed away (Mrs. Blanche passed away, not my mom), and it is the recipe I use over and over. The card it is written on is wrinkled, taped up, stained, and the one card we won’t lose. It is usually taped inside the cabinet door. Mrs. Blanche has been gone for years now, but I always think of her when I make these cookies, and it makes me smile.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. shortening (or 3/4 c. butter)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 pkg. chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet)
  • 1 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Cream together the shortening and sugars. Add eggs to creamed mixture and mix in vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture slowly. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. (I use a small Pampered Chef scoop.) Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies. (The recipe might make 6 dozen if you don’t eat a bunch of the cookie dough.)

A plate of comfort food. Chocolate chip cookies. I can't eat just one.

A plate of comfort food. Chocolate chip cookies. I can’t eat just one.

I sometimes make up the dough and keep it in the fridge. That way hubby can have fresh baked cookies each night. Yummers!

Father’s Day dinner

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I’m behind, I know. Just think of me being really early for next year. Of course, this isn’t necessarily Father’s Day Only specific.

Hubby's plate of stroganoff with a side of garlic bread.

Hubby’s plate of stroganoff with a side of garlic bread.

One of my husband’s favorite meals is beef stroganoff. I got the recipe from my mom, but it has evolved over the years. Her original recipe was round steak, cooked, and a container of sour cream. I started adding cream of mushroom soup and like it better that way.

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs round steak, cut into cubes
  • 1 can (10.5 oz) cream of mushroom soup
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 small can sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Wide egg noodles, cooked

Heat garlic in oil over low heat, until tender. Add round steak, turn heat to medium and cook until done. Do not drain. Add soup, sour cream, and mushrooms (if desired). Heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over egg noodles.

We usually also have garlic toast with it and sometimes a side salad. It’s nothing fancy, and it is really simple, but we think it is yummy. Enjoy!

 

Just Call Me Sarah (continuing down infertility road)

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Hopefully by now you have read our story about Lydia and her miracle adoption. God’s hand is all over her story. Even our case worker said, “I have never seen a case go this quickly and this smoothly. I just can’t explain it.” I can! It was God’s timing and for whatever reason, He orchestrated the whole process to go like it did. I personally believe it is so that neither I nor my husband can claim any credit. Only God can do what He did.

Fast forward to 2010, two years after Lydia’s adoption was finalized. I had weighed in at my heaviest weight ever. At ?xx lbs (did you really expect me to admit to it?) I was tired and sluggish. With PCOS, the heavier you are the more complications can develop. I was tired of being tired and knew I had to do something about it before my health got worse. A friend encouraged me to start Weight Watchers, so I started that journey in late summer of 2010. By the end of April 2011, I had lost 49 lbs! I felt good and my body was starting to get back to normal.

The first week of May I had a funny feeling, so without telling my husband, I bought a pregnancy test. Mind you, I have bought tons of these and always with the same result, though I hadn’t bought one in years. I always threatened to just use a stick from the back yard. The result would have been the same! May 6th, 2011, just a couple of weeks before our 15th wedding anniversary, my husband was getting ready to walk out the door to go to work. He was getting his keys when I walked into the bedroom. “Honey, you need to sit down.” says I. “I have to get to work!” says he. I start laughing, which makes him more annoyed. “Deidre. What?!? I have to get to work!” (Did I mention he is the only one on staff at the church and we lived across the parking lot at this point?) With each question I laugh even more. The more I laugh, the more he gets annoyed. “Will you just spit it out?!?!”

“I’m pregnant.” The look on my husband’s face was priceless. I so wish I had a camera at that exact moment. Surprise!! When he finally came to, he said, “But you’re old!!” (I had just turned 39.) Needless to say we were both in shock. I now have a new perspective on Sarah and how the Bible said, “Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I am waxed old…?” Been there. Lol…out loud.  I found a little place here in town that did pregnancy tests and, yep, I was pregnant. We called and told just a few people, told our mothers on Mother’s Day, then we told our church that night. (My husband started out so serious, I think some people thought he was tendering his resignation.) Needless to say, word spread of this old lady being pregnant for the first time. I found a doctor and we started down pregnancy road. Our due date? January 8th.

We started picking out names, looking at bedding, and dreaming about the first of January and our miracle baby. We were very excited. I remember telling a friend of mine, “I can’t imagine God allowing me to get pregnant after all these years only to take the baby. I’m sure everything will be fine. But, God is sovereign and can do what He sees fit.” Little did I know then that my conversation would be put to the test.

The middle of June (17-18) we had a Purposeful Parenting Seminar scheduled at the church. I got up that Friday morning and started baking and getting things ready. Late in the morning, I started bleeding. I called the doctor and the nurse said as long as it didn’t get worse I was fine. (I was trying not to be a hypochondriac. Ain’t nobody got time for that!) We got to the church, starting talking with the pastor doing the seminar, and only one parent came. After that parent was done speaking with the pastor, we went out for ice cream. Unfortunately, things did get worse, and on our way home I told my husband we needed to get to the hospital. We spent the next 6-7 hours in the ER. A very long 6-7 hours.  I remember how compassionate the doctor on call was, how sweet the nurse was, and how they blew a vein in my left arm. (I had the bruise for over a week to prove it.) I also remember John Bishop’s chorus ringing through my ears that night. “God is good and God is right. God is good both day and night.” That’s actually all of the song I could remember, but it was enough.

I remember these dates because the day you find out you’re pregnant is a big deal. Plus, we found out Mother’s Day weekend and miscarried Father’s Day weekend. Were we sad? Yes. Were we disappointed? Absolutely. Were we in despair? No. Years before this we had given our fertility (and lack thereof) to the Lord. Our lives were in His hands. So are the lives of our children.

II Corinthians 1:4 states, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”  To those of you who reached out to me after those events, Thank You! Many of you have been through what we experienced and your testimony was a blessing to both of us. You lived out II Corinthians 1 and encouraged me to do the same. I may never know why God chose to take this baby, but I need to learn from it. The only way to be an encouragement to someone going through trials is to respond correctly through mine.

 

 

Today we celebrate 16 years of wedded bliss (and 18 years of marriage)

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There are two times in my life I would never want to repeat. The first is junior high. Ugh. There is no reality show prize money large enough to tempt me to go back. The second is the first two years of marriage. Oy ve. An anniversary is a big deal, but especially when you thought you weren’t going to make it past the first two. I’m sure it was ALL his fault. I’m so easy to live with.

On our wedding day staring lovingly into his eyes. As they say, “Love is blind. Marriage is the eye opener.”

I did not marry my best friend. My best friends stood beside me that day. I might have spoken the typical, (insert engaged sweet sappy voice here:) “He’s my best friend…” But truly, he did not know me like my attendants did. He had never seen me without make-up, he had never seen me without my hair being perfect, and he had never known me to look frumpy in worn-out sweats and ratty t-shirts as I cleaned. He did not necessarily know my ugly side, the first thing in the morning face, my aversion to putting the toilet paper on the roll, the hives I develop from  putting my shoes in the closet (so I don’t), or my morning breath side. But he was going to learn. And love me anyway.

To say the first two years were rough would be a HUGE understatement. I was raised you argue until someone gives in (usually him.) He was raised that a married couple never argues. We had a lot to learn, because both sides are wrong. I was the baby and he was the oldest of three boys. Before we got married his idea of conflict resolution was beating up your brother and going on your way. He did at least know that wouldn’t work with his wife. Thankfully, we learned to get along. We learned to work together, control our tempers (most of the time), and pray for each other. Only God can truly change a person.

Each year gets better and better. I remember the night before we brought Lydia home, I told him, “I really like you.” He informed me I was supposed to. I reminded him the Bible says I have to love him, it never says I have to like him. And I really like my husband. We have endured a lot over the years: those rough first years, tough jobs, crazy family members, infertility, loss of family, health issues, and the list goes on. But God has been faithful in every situation and He has drawn us closer to Him which in turn draws us closer to each other.

I can now positively state he is my best friend and he loves me despite my short comings. We have a good time together. We laugh all of the time, we finish each others sentences, we think the same thoughts, and we’re working on him reading my mind. We love to spend time together. It’s much harder now with our three beautiful daughters, but I appreciate those times we do go out all the more. There is not anything he does not know about me. He has seen me at my best and he has tolerated me at my worst.

So to my fabulous husband: Happy Anniversary! I love you more than I could ever express. Thank you for being you and loving me through the crazy times as well as the good. You are the cream in my coffee, the root beer to my float, the cheese to my burger, the peanut butter to my chocolate, and I could never imagine life without you. May the next 18 years be even better than the first.

Ooey Gooey Gotcha Day Breakfast

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My mom was a great cook. I say “was” because she just doesn’t cook much anymore. According to her, by the time you are almost 80, standing in the kitchen loses its appeal.

One of my favorite recipes of my mom’s is her Monkey Bread. Holy cow!! I know this is what manna must have tasted like. It was usually saved for special occasions. We had this on Gotcha Day yesterday, and there’s no better special occasion than that!

Ingredients:

  • 24 frozen dinner rolls (I use Rhodes rolls)
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 box (3 oz) cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix (NOT instant)
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. pecans, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
I use my Pampered Chef stone bundt pan. If you use a regular bundt pan, grease and flour it first.

I use my Pampered Chef stone bundt pan. If you use a regular bundt pan, grease and flour it first.

Place frozen rolls around sides and bottom of the bundt pan. Mix brown sugar and pudding mix together and sprinkle over rolls. Mix granulated sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over brown sugar mixture. Spread pecans over all this and pour melted butter over all.

First layer: brown sugar and pudding mix

First layer: brown sugar and pudding mix

Second layer: Add sugar and cinnamon mixture

Second layer: Add sugar and cinnamon mixture

Ready to sit overnight.

Final layer: Add pecans, if using, and melted butter. Ready to sit overnight.

Place uncovered on counter top over night. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake 30 minutes. (You will want to put a cookie sheet underneath on a lower rack while the monkey bread cooks. The sugar mixture will sometimes bubble up and leak over the sides.) Let it sit in the pan 10-15 minutes before turning it over onto a large plate.

I really like waking up to this sight. Overflowing rolls smothered in sweet goodness.

I really like waking up to this sight. Overflowing rolls smothered in sweet goodness.

You'll need to find a plate bigger than the bundt pan. Otherwise, all the good stuff falls off the plate.

You’ll need to find a plate bigger than the bundt pan. Otherwise, all the good stuff falls off the plate.

Ready for the big reveal.

Ready for the big reveal.

Here it is. Manna from heaven. It doesn't look like this for long. Maybe I should have added a picture of an empty plate.

Here it is. Manna from heaven. It doesn’t look like this for long. Maybe I should have added a picture of an empty plate.

I love pecans in this, but my husband isn’t nuts over them (Nuts! Get it?!?!) so I leave them out. I’m submissive that way. 🙂 Happy Eating!

Gotcha!!

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Today is a very special day in our family. Today is Gotcha Day. 6 years ago today, Lydia’s adoption was finalized and she became a Schexnayder officially. Her story is nothing short of amazing.

My husband and I had thought of adoption many times over the years. We would start an application and, for different reasons, would stop the process. It wasn’t until 2007 that we moved forward with the idea. We had been told of a foster baby that would be up for adoption so we decided to start the paperwork with DHS here in Oklahoma. That was in March 2007. We went to the first DHS meeting where we were told if we wanted a baby under the age of 2, we should go to a private adoption agency. Adopting a baby under the age of 2, especially white babies, was almost impossible. We decided we would continue with the process and see how God would lead. There is no cost to adopt through the state. The only things we would pay for were our physicals. ($25 each)

We were given a very thick packet of information to read and fill out. It asks all sorts of questions about you, your marriage, your extended family, your finances, your debt. There is also a large section on what type of child you would accept. How old, what ethnicity, how many in a sibling group? “Would you accept a child who wets the bed?” “Would you accept a child who is behind academically?” “Would you accept a child who tortures small animals?” (No, I’m not making these up.) I felt like we were special ordering our child. We finished our packet, turned it in, and set up home visits.

There are two types of home visits/studies. One was with our case worker who would come over, check out our home, make sure it had: the proper railings if there were stairs, outlet covers, fire extinguishers, a land line, etc. The second type of home study was a person who would sit down and probe into your personal life. How do you get along with your parents? How do you get along with your siblings? Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you have a network of support? They also called all sorts of references. DHS was very thorough.

While this was going on, we had to attend somewhere around 28 hours of foster/adoption training. We drove to Norman from Bethany for a few weeks to learn how to creatively give your child exactly what they wanted. Also, how to correct your child without administering any type of punishment. 🙂  We sat there quietly, smiled and nodded, took notes, and watched the time pass. After our last class at the end of August ’07 we called our case worker, Jorge, and told him we had certificate in hand. We were ready to find our dream child. 🙂 And we wanted him/her by Christmas. Our case worker was amused.

Each month we received a list of adoptable children in the state. On an average it had 90-100 names each month, many of them repeats from month to month. At the end of October/first of November I noticed a little girl, Heaven, who was on the list. She had just turned a year old, parental rights had all been terminated 6 months prior, and she was legally free to be adopted. I remember thinking “Maybe we should call Jorge on this one” then quickly dismissing it, knowing hundreds of people would be calling on that one. The end of November Brian received a phone call from Jorge. He had a prospect, a little girl, for us to look at. Were we interested?

Were we interested? Is the pope Catholic? Is fire hot? Is water wet? We set up a time to go to his office and look at this little girl’s file. That was November 28. Guess what? Her name was Heaven.  🙂

The picture that was attached to her file. Who could resist those blue eyes?

The picture that was attached to her file. Who could resist those blue eyes?

I remember thinking during the whole appointment, “what’s wrong with her?” “why hasn’t she been adopted if the parental rights had been terminated months prior?” We found out that Heaven’s case worker had looked over all the adoptive parent files from the state and picked out 3. If the first couple didn’t want her, it would move to the second couple, and so on. We were the first couple!! As long as we said “Absolutely!” she was ours. We were told she was one of about five foster children and that she cries “all the time.” We figured we could work with that. I have to admit, in my heart, I kept asking “what is wrong with her?”

There is normally a series of meetings an adoptive couple goes through. A one hour visit, an extended visit, an overnight visit, and a weekend visit. They want to give a family plenty of time to decide if this child “fits.” Our first visit was set for Friday, December 7th at a McDonald’s. We walked in and saw this quiet, blue-eyed 14 month old beauty chowing down on fries and nuggets. She didn’t make much noise (see? something is wrong with her!) and she didn’t play much (that’s not normal, right?) but we fell in love with her.

Here we are in the McDonald's playplace at our very first meeting.

Here we are in the McDonald’s playplace at our very first meeting.

At the end of one hour the case worker called the meeting to an end and we started the journey back to Oklahoma City. We called Jorge and told him we were ready to proceed to adopt this little girl. He started to go into all the visits we would need to set up when my husband politely said, “Jorge, we will do whatever meetings we need to do. But we want this child. Do what you need to, but she is only 14 months old. She is not old enough to look at you and say, ‘These people are dorks. PLEASE do not place me with them!’ ” Jorge did ask how soon we could take her; the foster home was full and the foster parents were hoping to have her placed by Christmas. My husband told him if he called us Monday and told us to pick her up, we were on the road.

The next Monday, December 10, there was a huge ice storm that practically shut the city down. We had already begun clearing out the extra bedroom in anticipation of bringing this girlie home soon. In the middle of painting, the power went out. No electricity, no heat. But I was determined to get this room done. We had no idea how many weeks we had before we picked her up for good, and we wanted to be prepared whenever we got the call.

Due to the extreme weather, state offices were closed. That meant our case worker wasn’t able to get into the office and start working on our case. We were a little disappointed, but we were working on that room regardless. Tuesday came and we were still without power. (Have you ever painted in a house that was about 45 degrees? I love to paint, but come on. It was SOOOO cold. But, hey, it was worth it.) DHS offices were still closed, but our case worker was cool and talked to us over the phone anyway. He told us as soon as he could get into the office, he would get the file and get started.

Finally Wednesday came. The ice had started melting and businesses were starting to get back to normal. I went shopping with my mom and Brian went to work. When Jorge got into the office, he called Brian and told him he had the file. He was going to get started on setting up the rest of the visits and wanted to make sure we still wanted to move forward. Again, Brian told him yes, and reiterated that if he called and said go get her, we would hit the road. Brian kept me posted that morning as I was out and about trying to get ready for whenever the big day came. That afternoon Jorge called Brian and asked him if we were available to pick the girl up Friday, December 14. Brian enthusiastically said yes and asked which visit this would be. Extended, overnight, weekend? Jorge told him, “No, pick her up and take her home. She’s yours.” No more visits! Just a week after meeting her, she was ours!

Friday afternoon we headed back to that infamous McDonald’s to bring home OUR little girl. When we got there, the manager saw us. She came over, with tears in her eyes, and hugged us. She told us she knew why we were there and was very excited for us. She even gave “Heaven” a bag of cookies. (When my husband is asked where babies come from, he replies “McDonalds. And they come with a free bag of cookies. Dine in only.”) Even Heaven’s case worker was excited to see that we were getting to bring her home and so quickly. We put her in the car and away we went. We didn’t want to give anyone time to change their mind! Needless to say, with a day and a half notice, we didn’t have everything done. My father-in-law and husband were putting her bed together after we got home.

At Uncle Lantz's jewelry store right after we got into town. (I had to start her out right.)

At Huntington Fine Jewelers, Uncle Lantz and Aunt Lisa’s jewelry store, right after we got into town. (I had to start her out right.)

We still had home visits where Jorge had to come check on the girl and us, but they were a piece of cake. The usual waiting period is six months from placement to finalization, but we were able to finalize her adoption in five months. We were able to legally change her name and in fact, Jorge had us start calling her Lydia from the day we brought her home. She has fit into our family from day one. She even resembles my husband. So much so that most people would never guess she is adopted. And the problem of her crying all the time? Don’t know what that was about. There was also nothing wrong with her. 🙂 She was the perfect addition to our family and the best Christmas present we ever received.

 

So in honor of her court date, we celebrate “Gotcha Day” every May 23rd. She thinks it’s pretty awesome that while most kids get a birthday every year, she technically gets 2. We go do something special as a family. Just us. No friends, no extended family. Just our sweet little family celebrating the miracle that is Lydia!

Our journey on the road of infertility

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I’d like to post Lydia’s adoption story this week, so I thought I’d start with the journey my husband and I have been on for almost 18 years. Wow! Our wedding anniversary is next week. Hard to believe it’s been 16 years of wedded bliss and 18 years of marriage. (If you only knew how hard those first two years were! My husband would testify.)

I’ve never been a real small girl. I was always “healthy.”  Actually most of my jeans in elementary school were labeled as husky. Anyone else remember those wonderful labels? Once, a boy I was dating said, “You’re bigger than most of the girls I date.” Thanks? I should have said, “Yeah? Well you’re no Judd Nelson.” (Since Matthew McConaughey and Doug Savant weren’t on the scene yet) I stayed the same size from high school until college. But after the hubs and I got married, I put on over 30 pounds in just under 3 months. I went from a size 12 to a size 18/20. It was distressing, but I chalked it up to being such a great cook. (Haha! Don’t ask my husband about his very first breakfast.)

I don’t really want to go into a lot of detail (I’m a prude that way.) But after being married for a couple of years we decided to start a family. We had just moved to Florida and I was looking for a Dr. I had been having some minor health issues and we figured we’d get it all checked out. After looking at my chart and asking me a couple of questions my new doctor diagnosed me with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome). Back then it was relatively unheard of and it was hard to find information. Believe me, I tried. He said PCOS might be genetic, but that the birth control I had been on was, as he put it, “nasty stuff.” He believes that triggered, so to speak, my PCOS. He asked if we were wanting children and I answered in the affirmative. He told me I would have a very hard time getting pregnant and if I did, it would be even harder to carry a baby full-term.

For those that don’t know, there is no cure for PCOS. It can be controlled and it can be lived with, but doesn’t make you feel bad. In other words, you’re not nauseous, dizzy, muscle pain, etc. Fatigue is a big factor, though I think that has a lot to do with weight. It affects women differently, but the major manifestations of it are hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), weight gain, and infertility. Some women are lucky enough to have all 3. (hint, hint, that’s me) PCOS patients are at a greater risk of diabetes (due to the insulin issues and weight issues), heart disease (especially if you’re heavy), and uterine cancer (for those women whose bodies don’t function properly each month.) It’s not fun. But, if you can lose weight the chances of complications are less.

So we started the “we want a baby” journey. I spent numerous months on Clomid and Glucophage (Metformin). I have been through numerous tests including blood and dye tests. I have been to many doctors. (Dr. Madani, who was unsuccessful,  referred me to a doctor who was unsuccessful who referred me to an endocrinologist who was the best in the southeast.) We spent a lot of time and money on appointments and medications (oh yeah, and pregnancy tests). This was all in under two years.

I’d like to go on record by saying I did not always handle this well. I didn’t like baby showers and I tried to get out of going as much as I could. I have probably heard every question imaginable: “Aren’t you ever going to have kids?” “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want children?” “You’ve been married long enough. Why don’t you have any kids?” “You’re the career kind, huh?” I also loved the “We’ve been trying for two months so I know how you feel.” Even my father-in-law made the mistake one day of saying, “I don’t see you giving me any grandkids.” to which I responded, “Take it up with God. Your son and I are doing our part.” The conversation quickly ended. 🙂 I didn’t like Mother’s Day. I didn’t begrudge anyone else, but I didn’t like the reminder that I was “less than a woman.” I usually volunteered for nursery that morning. I wanted the mothers to be able to sit in on the service. I was sacrificial that way. (yeah, right.)

I may have put on a good front in public, but my husband knows better.  I was trying to fill a void only God could fill. Once I finally got over that and completely turned it over to God, I had such peace. God was in control. If He wanted me to have children, He’d make it happen. If not, that’s okay. I will say that the years my husband and I had together without kids were amazing. We could go away for a weekend at a moment’s notice. We could change our plans last minute. We only had each other and there are major benefits to not having kids right away. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.

We moved back to Oklahoma and my husband and I decided to take a break from all the hullabaloo. I waited a few years and then started the search for a PCOS doctor. I started with the OU Med Center. When I called and explained my situation, the lady immediately connected me with the “Best Dr. for PCOS patients.” Come to find out, he had trained my endocrinologist in Florida, so he knew her work quite well. He told me if I wasn’t pregnant by the time I was 35, he would no longer treat me. He did not believe it would be safe for me to have a child that late in life. (I was, ummmm, pretty close to that by this point, so time was ticking.)

Three months before I was 35, I called it quits. I had had enough. We had finally decided to go the adoption route. One of the best decisions we ever made. There is more to our story. It gets better and better. But you’ll have to read Lydia’s story and the ones to follow.

I believe God has a reason for everything. Due to my PCOS/infertility journey, I have some of the best friends in the whole world. My friend Pam was the first person I knew that had PCOS. She became my confidante and sounding board soon after my diagnosis. She had already been down that road for a while and offered great insight (and a broad shoulder.) My friend Rachel doesn’t have PCOS, but had trouble having children for a a few years. We had many conversations and cry sessions over the years. My friend Amy started our first conversation, and subsequent friendship, with  “Hi, I’m Amy. Can I ask you a personal question?” She had been told I had PCOS and she had just been diagnosed with it as well, so we shared stories. Unfortunately, I don’t live near these fabulous women. But, though for some we are states apart, I know I can call them any time. My friends are amazing.

My journey has not been easy. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. God has taught me many things through our trials:      1. Only He can fill the void in our lives. We have to find our sufficiency in Him. 2. Our trials are to draw us closer to the Lord. There is no one who can soothe the troubled soul like Him.        3. Our trials can and should be used to be a blessing to others. But we can only be a blessing if we have the right attitude during our trials. No drama, no self-pity, no self-glory, simply giving all the glory to God and God alone.

 

The verdict is in…

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I had my follow-up appointment with the surgeon today and he had the results of my biopsy. At this point the follicular cells are atypical, (yeah, I sound real smart, but I’m just regurgitating what the Dr. said)  but they do not show cancer cells. Praise the Lord! My doctor said normally with this type of result they would wait 3 months and biopsy it again. The other option is to go ahead and remove the nodule and the half of the thyroid it is on. They would biopsy the nodule after it is removed and if the results came back normal, I’d be done. If the biopsy shows cancerous cells, they would go back and take out the rest of the thyroid and give me radioactive iodine to kill it off.

There is a possibility my nodule has grown a little, and so, because of its size (close to 4 cm), we agree with the doctor to take it out. So right now the plan is to have the surgery the 16th of June. We were going to do it the 9th, but OK Mozart is that week. Bartlesville Choral Society is singing at a couple of concerts and, selfishly, I’d like to participate. That would also give me three months to “bounce back” before our regular season started up again. Plus, the doctor said it doesn’t have to be done right now, we could wait until the fall if we needed to.

It could be an outpatient procedure depending on how well the surgery goes, the most it would be is an overnight stay. I would be back to normal in a day or two. (I know, some of you are thinking “are you ever normal?” The answer to that is no, but I would be as normal as I ever am.) I’m trying to figure out if I could get a doctor’s note for breakfast in bed, no cooking, and no ironing for a week or something. But who am I kidding? I don’t iron as it is. I think I’m allergic.

Now we are just praying the surgery goes well and the subsequent biopsy comes back normal. I am a singer, so surgery in that area makes me a little nervous, but God is in control. Nothing will happen that He doesn’t allow.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. My family and I appreciate it. I received quite a few messages, calls, and texts and they were all very encouraging. I also appreciate those of you who shared your personal experiences with me. It was a blessing to be reminded that thousands of people before me have traveled this road.

God Will Make This Trial a Blessing

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So I have debated whether or not I should blog about our latest journey, but have decided to go ahead. Partly to keep all of this straight so I don’t forget something. More importantly, maybe through all of this it can be a blessing to someone, somewhere.

About a month ago, I found a knot on my throat. If I tilt my head back, it is very noticeable. It looks like a man’s Adam’s apple. Attractive, huh? 🙂 Not sure why I had never noticed it before, but there it was. I set up an appointment with my Dr., he said it was on my thyroid, and he ordered some tests. Blood tests to determine if my thyroid was functioning properly and an ultrasound to look at this mysterious lump. My blood work all came back normal, but he ordered more tests due to the ultrasound pictures. This new test was performed at the hospital in the nuclear medicine department on a Thursday and Friday. I had to swallow a radioactive iodine pill and then the technician would take pictures. The technician took out what looked like a small pipe bomb, opened it up, slid out a glass tube, took the only pill in that tube out and told me to swallow it. My thought was, “Seriously? You take that much care with one pill and you want me to put that into my body?” Haha. But I took it, only because she wasn’t wearing a hazmat suit. The first pictures were taken 4 hours after ingesting the pill, then the next morning, 24 hours after taking it. It felt like something out of some superhero movie. Some poor unsuspecting joe takes some pill and, poof, he has some weird super powers. (I have yet to figure out if I developed any. My husband wanted to take me to the airport and see if I could set off any sort of alarms. I think he was disappointed that I didn’t glow.)

Monday morning I received a call from my Dr’s office. The Dr. wanted me to come in that morning to discuss results. We found out I have what is called a cold nodule, which means it does not absorb any dye from the radioactive iodine pill. Cold nodules have a greater chance of thyroid cancer than a hot nodule. But just because it is a cold nodule does not guarantee it’s cancerous. They would need to do a biopsy. So I went to see a surgeon and he said they generally remove any nodule over 2 cm. and mine was 3 cm. (Which is just over an inch) But he wanted to do a biopsy first to see what we are dealing with. More than likely, due to its size, he will remove the half of the thyroid on which the nodule is located regardless of the outcome.

I had the biopsy this past Thursday. The radiologist told me my nodule was significantly large. (I can’t do anything on a small scale. Haha!) Modern technology amazes me. They used the ultrasound to locate the nodule and then the ultrasound helps guide the radiologist with his needle. They extracted some cells, then he used a different needle to “cut” a larger sample off. He thinks he got enough that we won’t have to do it again. They take samples of the nodule and will run the samples under the microscope to determine whether or not this is cancer. He told me he sees these nodules a lot (just maybe not as large as this one) and a majority of the time, they are benign. He said IF it is cancer, there are two major types. One is very curable, and one is not. The one that is not as curable is very rare and he said my nodule does not resemble that form of cancer. So now we wait. I have an appointment with the surgeon on Tuesday to discuss the results, so now I just hope they have the results by then.

I know that God is in control and He is not surprised by this new turn of events. I do have to pray my thoughts into captivity, though that part is getting easier. Job 13:15a says “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” Job 23:10 says “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” If Job can go through all that he went through and still say that, who am I to complain? God has been so good to me and this situation does not change that. God is good. All the time. He has seen me through many medical situations and this is no different.

I’m sure some of you may want to know how to pray. God has given my husband and I a sense of peace during this. So I guess pray that God’s will be done and that the Lord will give my Drs. (and us) wisdom regarding the outcome of this biopsy. Whatever the Lord wants us to learn, we don’t want to miss it.

 

 

She Put in Her Two Cents

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Our April lesson in our series “Save the Drama for Your Mama” was on the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44. One thing I’ve noticed, and am guilty of myself, is people have money for what they deem important.

In Mark 12:41 we are told that “Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury:” This tells me that Christ sees our giving. He sees everything. Nothing escapes him. The verse goes on to say “and many that were rich cast in much.” That’s great, right? If you have it, you should give. And you should give abundantly. Verse 42 states “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.” That would have been the smallest denomination in use at that time. Maybe equal to our pennies. But many commentators believe it was all she had to live on for that day. Can you imagine? Giving your entire salary for one day? Notice it was a widow. She had no husband, no one else to contribute to the family finances.

In verse 43, Jesus calls his disciples over: “Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.” I wonder what the disciples must have thought. “Really? You do realize she only put in two mites.” “Come on! Didn’t you see that guy just put in $100!” “What do you mean ALL? You mean to tell us her two mites were greater than all the other offerings put together?!” Sometimes the disciples were a little slow (much like we are.)

Jesus goes on to explain in verse 44. “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” God does not see the gift as much as He sees the giver. William Barclay said, “The amount of the gift never matters so much as its cost to the giver, not the size of the gift, but the sacrifice.” “When it comes to our giving, God sees more than the portion: he also sees the proportion. Men see what is given, but God sees what is left and by that he measures the gift and the condition of our hearts.” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Courageous)

I’m not talking about tithing here. I think that is a totally different subject. We’re talking about giving above the tithe. (And to be honest, do we have to wait for a special offering at church to help those in need?) Our church ladies have been known to honor ministry wives with a special offering. This is above the tithe. This is something they do from their hearts. My husband has no idea who gives what, nor should he know. But God does. Like I told our ladies, if you tell your friend you can’t participate in a special offering all the while you are on your latest smartphone driving to a salon to get a pedicure with a large Starbucks drink in hand, I would say your priorities are out of order. Smartphones, pedicures, and Starbucks are not evil. (I enjoy all 3) But if we indulge in those things, and neglect the ministry, something is askew.

I looked up what people spend their money on. Let me preface by saying these things in and of themselves are not bad.

  • Cell phones: 90% of Americans have one. 58% have smartphones.
  • Starbucks: (this hits home) though I couldn’t find an exact amount for this specific company, I did find that the average American spends $1,000/year on coffee. (yes, sadly, I am among this statistic. Though I’m sure my spending isn’t nearly that high.)
  • Pets: Americans spent $56 billion on pets last year alone.
  • Movies: (going to the theater) 2012 reported $10.84 billion on ticket sales
  • Entertainment: (buying movies, music, concerts, etc.) projected to reach $597 billion by the year 2016.

C.S. Lewis, in his book “Mere Christianity”, says, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc. is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditures excludes them.” When is the last time you gave to a special offering, helped someone in need, or bought a struggling single parent some groceries?

In II Corinthians 8:1-5 the Bible tells us of a church that “…in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” They gave as though they were rich. They didn’t complain about their husband’s income, their small house, their old car, (yes, I know there were no cars in the Bible. I’m sure they didn’t complain about their old donkeys either.) 🙂 or the meager provisions in the kitchen cabinet. According to verse 5, they “…first gave their own selves to the Lord…” They were fully surrendered to the Lord. “When we give ourselves to the Lord, we then give Him all we have, to be called for and disposed of according to His will. Whatever we use or lay out for God, it is only giving to Him what is His own.” (Matthew Henry) I’m not sure why we act like what we have is ours to keep. We should be giving back to the One who gave to us first.

We really should be careful in our complaining about our financial situations. I think we need to look at other situations and say, “Thank you, Lord. My situation could be so much worse.” Not to make ourselves feel superior, but to concentrate on God’s goodness and blessings. Out of that gratitude we should give, and give liberally.

Captain Levy, a believer from Philadelphia, was once asked how he could give so much to the Lord’s work and still possess great wealth. The Captain replied, “Oh, as I shovel it out, He shovels it in, and the Lord has a bigger shovel.”