Lightening the Load

We decided yesterday morning to dig in our heels and make a home right where we are. The tears from the previous night helped me gain perspective. So until we find evidences of mold (through screenings and tests) we'll keep on going. We cleaned and we cleaned yesterday. Some of the kids sorted through their clothes. We're getting used to traveling light so anything more than we use is just "excess" and burdensome. We cleaned out the garage. Got rid of "stuff." It's hard to believe we have excess but we do.

I don't see possessions the way I once did. I don't get attached as easily. "Stuff" collects dust and dust only adds to our toxic load.

Our load is a little lighter today. Thanks to the tears and our now overflowing trash can.

Up-Hill Climb

It's been a rough week. New fears of mold in our current home. Old fears that we'll have to run away again. And so, last night, I laid on our air mattress, on the floor, and I sobbed. And I sobbed. And I sobbed and I sobbed. Chris gently tried to help me see that worry is not going to help. Shannon said, "It's not worry that's making her cry. It's the houses before this."

She was right. I didn't have time to sob when we left our house in Colorado. I didn't have time to sob when we left the house that had just been sprayed for termites. We've been on the run. And the kids have been sick. And there's always something I have to do.

Last night I couldn't stop. I cried because we've lost so much. I cried because I'm tired. I'm tired of the bloody noses. I'm tired of the headaches. I'm tired of wondering if someone's perfume is going to make one of us sick. I'm tired of worrying about Reagan and his brain. I'm tired of searching for the next best supplement. I'm tired of trying so hard. I'm tired of going to a park and wondering if it's been sprayed and if one of the kids will get a bloody nose. I'm tired of medical appointments. I'm tired of carrying around this burden. I'm tired of being "in charge." Everything is uphill and nothing feels safe.

That's it. There's no place on earth that feels safe. No place.

The truth is, there is no safe place. For anyone. The safest house in the world can't insulate us from the pain of this world. All the riches on earth won't keep us from suffering. It comes to each one of us eventually.

Megan said it three nights ago. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think, 'It's a privilege to suffer.'" She's 22 and has suffered far more than I can fathom. I know it's true. Suffering is an honor. And I wouldn't go back. Not for all the money in the world.

I love this poem by Christina Rossetti. I discovered it when we were living in Colorado. Before I understood the illusions of safety and security.

by Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

Fungal Questionnaire II

This is a continuation of the set of questions given by Doug Kaufmann and Dr. Dave Holland in the book "Eating Your Way to Good Health." Again, these are used to assess a person's exposure to fungi and the odds that the microbes (or their mycotoxins) lie behind certain medical issues.

21. Do you suffer from fatigue?

22. Do you often feel irritable?

23. Do you often feel dazed or "spaced out?"

24. Do you suffer from memory loss?

25. Do your muscles, bones, or joints bother you?

26. Do you get more than the occasional headache?

27. Do you suffer from hair loss?

28. Have you been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure?

29. Have you been diagnosed with high cholestrol or triglycerides?

30. Have you ever been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease?

31. Do you often feel more unhappy than "normal" for a given situation?

32. Have you had sharp cravings for corn, peanuts, or sugar?

33. Do you suffer allergic reactions to pollens, molds, animal dander, dust, mites, perfumes, chemical, smoke, or fabric store odors?

34. For women: have you experienced uterine or urinary tract problems or endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome or fibroids? Are your ovaries, thyroid gland, adrenals or pancreas malfunctioning?

Again, our family, collectively, scored 100% on this test. I heartily recommend all of Kaufmann's books including the three volumes titled "The Fungus Link."

The Hippocratic Oath

It's times like these that warrant a look back into history. The Hippocratic Oath has been influencing medical care providers for centuries. While commonly viewed as outdated and irrelevant, it is worth reading in light of the controversy surrounding health care in our country and the news regarding Michael Jackson's death. It's also interesting to note the link between diet and health.


Traditional text

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art - if they desire to learn it - without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein. From The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943.

Fungus Questionnaire

We have followed an anti-fungal diet to varying degrees since beginning our recovery. The diet purported by Doug Kaufmann has proven to be the most comprehensive and helpful. I plan to share more about our journey with this aspect of treatment, but for now I thought some may benefit from this series of questions compiled by Kaufmann and Dr. David Holland.

The questionnaire (51 questions in all) "is used to assess the degree to which patients may have been exposed to fungi, and the odds that the microbes or mycotoxins lie behind a given problem" (from the book "Eating Your Way to Good Health").

1. At any time in your life, have you taken repeated or prolonged rounds of antibiotics?

2. At any time in your life, have you taken repeated or prolonged courses of steroids or cortisone-based pills?

3. Have you been diagnosed with fibromyalgia?

4. Do you have, or have you ever had asthma?

5. Do you have diabetes? Type 1 or Type 2?

6. At any time in your life, have you been treated for worms or parasites?

7. Have you traveled outside of the U.S.?

8. Have you had ringworm, nail fungus?

9. Have you ever been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD?

10. Had you spent time in or near construction sites when you became ill?

11. Are you bothered by recurring problems with your digestive tract?

12. Does your health problem get worse in response to heat?

13. Do your inner ears itch?

14. Does your vision blur for no apparent reason?

15. Do you have acne?

16. Has your home or office ever had a mold problem?

17. Do your symptoms worsen on damp days, or when you spend time in musty/moldy environments?

18. Are you allergic to any foods?

19. Do you have itching, tingling, or burning skin?

20. Do you have hives, psoriasis, dandruff, or chronic skin rashes?

Collectively, our family scores a 20 out of 20. If just one of the 30 doctors who saw us during the height of our exposure would have suggested a link with the fungus and mycotoxins, it would have altered our course dramatically.

Environment is only one means of exposure. According to Kaufmann, foods such as corn, wheat, and peanuts are commonly contaminated with mycotoxins.

For more information on the Anti-Fungal Diet, see Doug Kaufmann's website Know the Cause.

Continuing Education

While the ants are hopefully digging their last hole, we're still climbing out from under ours. We are re-ventilating, re-laundering, and re-vinegaring. The toxins in those tiny ant traps created a setback in our health I did not expect.

The good news is we avoided another chemical disaster because of the experience. Our 11-year-old daughter Kaitlyn found a couple of tiny cracks in the grout in one of the showers. This is yet another lesson we learned this week: always check for cracks in the grout before you move. With our mold history it amazes me that we didn't think of this. Our daughter did, and it shows we have a lot of post-trauma issues ahead. She was terrified when she found the cracks.

We called the builder who called his tile guy. He inspected the cracks and the others we found in another bathroom. He was prepared to coat the grout with silicone. Because of the ant trap exerience we declined the silicone. We're looking into Safecoat, which is available through a toxic-free building materials showroom in Tucson. It's worth perusing this website to see all of the toxic-free options available!

We're learning. Ever so slowly.

Ant Update

Only the Internet could provide the kind of help we have received on this ant issue. So far I have cayenne pepper on the floor in the kitchen, borax and sugar in the bathroom, borax outside, and cucumber peelings in the garage. I'll be looking for Terro next time I'm out. And I have yet to explore the mint, clove, and chalk opportunities! (See comment section in previous post for all of the suggestions.)

This demonstrates to me how unnecessary chemicals are in the home. The canaries warned the coal miners of danger in the air. My children's nosebleeds serve as a warning that it is far safer to use natural products. Chemicals are simply not worth the convenience.

Ant Traps

We continue to learn the hard way. We had an ant invasion upon moving into our new home this week. Immediately I poured Borax on the opening and around the floor. We added vinegar. We cleaned the bathroom completely. The ants were not deterred. I'm no ant aficionado so I can't tell you the specifics of this type of ant, but their primary characteristic is that they're tiny. Miniscule. And there were so many!

I innocently bought several ant traps. Anyone with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) knows that there is no innocent purchase of a toxic substance. I reasoned that a few ant traps on the floor of the bathroom won't do any significant harm. I put one in Shannon's closet behind the bathroom. (She found ants in her shoes.) And I put two in the kitchen.

The four youngest had an exciting game of Monopoly going in the kitchen yesterday. Right next to the ant traps. Within two hours Reagan had a nosebleed unlike anything we've seen in weeks. Kaitlyn broke out with a rash on her arms. Tempers flared. Sinuses congested.

And the ant traps were removed.

I'm back to cayenne pepper, cinnamon, Borax, and vinegar. And deterrence. We put duct tape over possible entrances and we're cleaning the floor after every meal.

If you're not infested with them, ants are fascinating creatures. They are adaptable, work well together, defend themselves, and carry a load up to 50 times their own body weight. It's the load part that inspires me. Mine feels heavy today. Too heavy. I want to keep this colony going. If an ant can do it, I can too.


We continue to see evidences of internal turmoil as our de-toxifying journey continues. The black mark on the back of Reagan's neck appeared recently and lasted only a day. The three photos below document a progression on the back of Colin's legs. This is over the course of the last month. Tea Tree Oil and Neems Oil help with the itching.

We see rashes come and go on a daily basis. Mycotoxins involved in mold exposure are sticky and tough to move. These rashes tell me they're on the move.

Thoughts for Friends and Family Members

One of the toughest parts of walking through the valley of mold exposure is explaining it to loved ones. Relationships can be strained, and friendships fractured. Those of us in the middle of the journey are vulnerable. Those who long to help are scratching their heads. I wrote the following to the second group who sincerely and deeply desire to help. I wrote it to myself as a reminder that everyone is running a race.

Help for the Onlooker:

Given the cloud of mystery and confusion that surrounds mold exposure, it must be tough to be in the support role. I can imagine your thoughts. Is mold really that bad? This has to be in their heads. Surely, there's a better way to fix all of this.

I understand. I would have the same thoughts if I were in your shoes. In fact, our family of 11 lost our house and health to mold, and I have said those same things to myself! But the reality of toxic mold and the resulting chronic illness is simply this: It is that bad.

This is what makes it so hard for you as an onlooker. You're powerless to fix it. While this is difficult to accept, it also takes the pressure off. It's way bigger than you. You don't have to be the one to "pour bleach" on the problem. Bleach doesn't kill the toxins anyway. So where does that leave you as your loved one struggles with direction and decisions?

If you have a heart to help, and you must if you're reading this, let me offer this word picture.

The person who is on a mold journey has unwillingly and with no prior training entered a 300 mile super-triathalon event. The race is not just swimming, running, and biking. It's mountain climbing as well. The added challenge? The race goes through the night. The participants rest during the day and race when it's darkest.

How would you cheer them on at mile 35?

Or mile 285?

My guess is you would not say things like:

"Just get that left knee a little higher."

"I don't understand why you're in this race."

"Why don't you try lengthening your stride?"

You wouldn't be on the sidelines at 2:00 in the morning to offer suggestions. You'd be cheering them on. I know you would because you took the time to come to the race.

You'd be yelling, "Keep going! You're doing great!"

And if they made a mistake? Or fell down? I know what you'd say.

"It's OK!"

"Way to get back up!"

"Hang in there!"

We all need coaches. People who know the sport and understand the race. But when the competitor rounds that corner or stares at that next mountain, there's nothing like the cheers of the crowd.

We're In!

"Mom, Brandon didn't have a bloody nose last night!"

Colin couldn't wait to tell me.

"I like our bathroom." " I love my new room." "This is a good house, Mom."

We've moved and we're getting settled. And not one nosebleed. We're all breathing well. And while this home is 2000 square feet less than our home in Colorado, it feels like a mansion.

I'm so grateful for a place to graze at last.

Move Update

Our move is progressing. We opened the house on Monday morning and found strong VOCs. Stronger than we remembered. (VOCs are volatile organic compounds and are emitted from paints, adhesives, wall boards and such in newer homes.) Since mold produces VOCs we are susceptible to all VOCs.

Interesting note: when you smell a musty odor it is the VOCs from the mold.

We immediately began the ventilation process. We opened all the windows, closets, and cupboards, and got the ceiling fans going. Megan's close friend Beth is visiting this week from Colorado and willingly became part of the ventilation team. They put box fans in all the windows and scoured the floors with white vinegar and put baking soda in all of the cupboards.

By Wednesday night the VOC smells were much better. Thursday is another full day of ventilation before our first night in the home on Friday.

This process is so overwhelming that I find myself sitting around, lacking any and all motivation to pack, organize, or administrate. I think I'll take a deep breath and remember that this too shall pass. Our green pasture may just be a few hundred yards ahead.

Mold in Schools

Mold is a common occurrence in school buildings. Lots of indoor plumbing, tight construction, and poor ventilation contribute to mold amplification issues. A 2005 study by Jim Burkhart, Ph.D. shows that children's asthma risks more than double if their surroundings smell of mold. If any parent, teacher, or administrator suspects a problem I recommend the schoolmoldhelp website.

Recently, an elementary school in Greensboro, NC decided to temporarily close its doors this fall.
"The teachers and parents who filled the Oak Ridge gym reported a litany of medical symptoms, including severe respiratory problems, nose and eye bleeds, headaches, sleeplessness, burning throats and severe attention problems among students. Teachers said the performance of students on tests has plummeted."

The school has a history of mold. It was completely renovated in 2005, and 3 months before the re-opening mold was discovered. It became an issue again in May of this year.

Two weeks ago a federal team of investigators stepped in.

The team found:

*A musty, mold smell in the building and its basement and crawl space.
* Improperly installed hardware that may allow water to penetrate the building.
* Air pressure and air flow problems along with several other maintenance concerns.

Recent update on the Oak Ridge Elementary School story

Part of the controversy surrounds the health implications of mold. The medical director for the county health department has said that mold only causes health problems for those who are immune compromised and those with mold allergies.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health epidemiologist Jean Cox-Ganser (part of the team investigating Oak Ridge) has responded by saying, "NIOSH does believe that mold can cause health problems – and it's not NIOSH, it's proven in the literature."

One day there will be no such controversy. It will be common knowledge. It's sure common knowledge at our house.

Time to Move

We're moving this week. It's a stressful time. Not because of the logistics of packing. Our financial resources have been spent on treatment so we don't have much furniture, toys, or clothing. This is a picture of Colin with all of his worldly belongings. One box and a basket of clothes. (The BEST advice we received was to leave everything behind when we vacated our mold-ridden home.)

It's stressful because we're changing environments. It brings back all of the fear and trauma of the last 9 months. February 1st we moved into a home that had just been sprayed for termites. We lasted two nights. The second night we slept outside. We didn't know to ask the owners about pesticides. We only knew to rule out mold.

Now we know. This time we checked for pesticides, fragrances, mold, and gas. We talked with the builder. We added a clause in the rental agreement that allows us to vacate with no penalty if we get sick in the home. We have a 5-day overlap so that we can air out the home before we move in. We'll keep our air mattresses. (We're going to put them on cots to give us more of a true mattress feeling.) We'll bring in our air purifiers, run the ceiling fans, and clean with white vinegar. We may bring in plants. (Proper maintenance of plants is essential if you want to avoid any mold growth in the soil). For those who do have a green thumb, NASA did a study ranking the top 50 plants to help with indoor air pollution. The following is a great article on this.

NASA plant study

We looked for two months for this house. We called realtors from Tucson to Phoenix, searched the Internet, and drove hundreds of miles in search of a safe home. It's only a few miles away, in the same little town where we are now. We won't know until we try. Maybe, just maybe, it's our "green pasture."

Internal Dampness

If mold has been a health issue for centuries then, surely, medical treatment for mold exposure is not new. For this reason, Chinese Medicine has piqued my interest. The art of healing through acupuncture has been around for 2500 years. Western medicine as we know it has been around less than 150 years. The surgeries and drugs of modern day are nothing short of miraculous in many cases. But with chronic injuries like ours, the tools for healing are limited. Thus we have taken our mycotoxin knowledge and entered the world of acupuncture.

The first time I saw our acupuncturist he informed me that our condtion fell under the category of internal dampness. Our exposure, he said, had created a tropical climate of sorts inside of our bodies. A climate where microbes easily multiply and thrive.

I read this in the book The Foundations of Chinese Medicine:

"Dampness refers not only to damp weather, but also to damp living conditions, such as living in damp houses. The characteristics of Dampness are that it is sticky, it is difficult to get rid of, it is heavy, it slows things down, it infuses downwards and it causes repeated attacks.

"External Dampness tends to injure the spleen and impair its fuction of transformation and transportation. After the initial attack, therefore, the spleen will become deficient which, in turn, will tend to produce more Dampness. At that point, it will be impossible to distinguish exterior from interior Dampness."

The goal, therefore, is to change our internal climate. We're trying to dry things up. Thankfully, we've noticed significant changes.

I read an interview this week with the team acupuncturist for the San Francisco Giants. It's the first season the team has used acupuncture and evidently it's helping pitcher Randy "the Big Unit" Johnson. The 46-year-old player earned his 300th win on June 4th and is still averaging 8 strike-outs per nine innings pitched.

We're not headed for the Hall of Fame, just inching our way toward recovered health.

WHO Guidelines on Indoor Air Quality

The World Health Organization released a set of guidelines on July 16th targeting damp indoor environments. The guidelines state that "the most important means for avoiding adverse health effects is the prevention or minimization of persistent dampness and microbial growth on interior surfaces and in building structures." This is a significant conclusion and will prove pivotal in the days ahead.

The press release continues, "In many EU countries, 20–30% of households have problems with dampness. Strong evidence indicates that this is a risk to health. In damp conditions, hundreds of species of bacteria and fungi grow indoors and emit spores, cell fragments and chemicals into the air. Exposure to these contaminants is associated with the incidence or worsening of respiratory symptoms, allergies, asthma and immunological reactions."

The document is extensive and is the result of a rigorous two-year review of the research done by 36 leading experts worldwide.

WHO Guidelines on Dampness and Mould

The guidelines also conclude that occupants of damp or mouldy buildings, both private and public, have up to a 75% greater risk of respiratory symptoms and asthma.

When I see this as a news story I think of the words of Solomon, "there is nothing new under the sun." Mold (or mould) is clearly talked about in Leviticus 14. A home desecrated with mold, fungus, or "plague" in the King James version, was to be destroyed if the mold spread after treatment.

Mold has been a problem throughout history. Lord Carnavron and 26 of his colleagues met with "mysterious deaths" following the opening of King Tut's tomb in 1923. Scientific studies later revealed high levels of Aspergillus at the site.

The potato famine in Ireland, the Ergot Epidemic, trench mouth in World War I, all have fungal origins. In 1938 Russian scientists determined that hay contaminated with stachybotrys killed thousands of horses in Russia and Eastern Europe.

New or old, the WHO document is a step in the right direction.

Happy Birthday, Meg

It's Megan's 22nd birthday today. It seems just yesterday she was gurgling and cooing in my arms.

She'll have another quiet day in the desert and hopefully go out to dinner. If she's up to it.

Megan developed severe eczema early on. Knowing what I know now, I would ask the question, "Why?" I would look for evidence of mold and consult a specialist in the alternative health arena. I would make significant dietary changes immediately.

Instead we treated her with topical steroids and continued to watch her struggle with other health issues. She was vulnerable the moment we moved into our home in Colorado. She was two months shy of her 13th birthday.

Her health declined over the next few years. She graduated high school at 16 and eagerly anticipated a college career in Nova Scotia. College proved difficult. Not for academic reasons. Mycotoxins in the body affect every aspect of a person's well-being. She came home. After careful thought, she decided to go to Africa. She was a willing and hopeful soul determined to find her place and purpose in a world that had offered more sorrow than joy.

The mission agency agreed to let Megan go alone to a small remote village to live with a pastor, his wife, and nine children. It seemed like a perfect fit. It might have been, if an internal cesspool of microorganisms weren't threatening her health.

She left Colorado in early November of 2005. By New Year's Eve she was diagnosed with malaria. The high fever and abdominal pain were unmistakable. Two weeks later the malaria was back with a vengeance. This time with a higher fever and hallucinations. And she was far away from home. In Africa. In a village where the closest medical facility was a motorcycle ride through the brush. The youngest in the family, Barnabus, fell in a pot of boiling water. He and Megan were rushed to the "facility," where both lay on cots in a tent fighting for their lives. It was clear that Barnabus needed hospitalization. Megan needed to get back to the city. With Barnabus whimpering next to her, and his mom trying to calm him, they took the 5-hour car ride to the city.

Barnabus survived. Megan came home to Colorado.

She stayed a few months before trying college again. She studied Greek and Latin in Boulder. That's Megan. Always willing to try. By that time our lives were crumbling. We had a mold remediation going on and the kids were getting sick. She knew she couldn't continue in college so she returned home, unknowingly to a room filled with toxic mold.

As she watched Reagan's vertigo and vomiting and him digging his nails into my arms because of the dizziness, her eyes were filled with compassion. She, too, had suffered.

Last December I told her I was taking the four youngest to Arizona to begin a treatment protocol. She dropped everything, drove all night, and joined our quest. Deep down she knew none of this was her fault. She knew her health had never been right. It was time to get answers and help.

She started the diet and detox on December 27th. Within 24 hours her eyes were swollen shut. The fungi that had been multiplying began to starve and die off.

We've found other issues along the way. Evidences of parasites, parvo virus, and bartonella, to name a few.

We have found her shaking in her bed from chills and fever. When you understand the nature of neurotoxins, you understand that the detox process is often much worse than the onset of the illness.

And all she did was live in a house.

Megan, I admire you. Not only for your giftedness as an artist, your beauty, and your caring heart. I admire you because you have an indomitable spirit that has weathered far too many storms. You don't give up. And you've chosen to embrace a journey far more treacherous than any mountain expedition. This poem, by Tolkien, makes me think of you.

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.

Queen in your case, Meg. Happy Birthday.

Encouragement for the Helpless

Leave it to my husband to bring tears to my eyes twice on a difficult day. The first time was during an argument about him going for treatment. He resists the process. Thankfully, we resolved the conflict quickly. The second set of tears was due to his FABRYGRAM entry he sent out Sunday night that brought tears of comfort. I hope you find the same--whatever mountain you may be climbing.

"I wandered in the Tucson airport a few weeks ago, looking for a quiet place to sit. There was only one spot I could find with lots of empty seats. A woman sat in the corner with her back to me. But when I sat, I realized why she had her back to me. The gurgling and cooing gave it away. I hadn’t noticed the baby blanket over her shoulder. She was nursing. The sound echoed off the concrete wall and into my memory.

The days of Andrea suckling a newborn are gone.

“Could you get me a glass of water?” is a phrase seared into my memory. The soft patting, the escape of air from both ends of the child, the satisfying grunts of an infant. It struck me that I will never again hear those sounds from my own children.


Gone are the days of strollers and carseats and diapers and bottles. Well baby visits. Lost pacifiers. Plastic spoons with cartoon heads. A lot of these things I don’t mind, of course. Who would long to change another diaper? But there was something life-giving, something pure and wonderful about caring for someone who could not care for himself or herself.

We have been helpless as a family for a few months, wandering in the desert, trying to get better, trying to dig our way out of a toxic hole. The lawyers tell me it will be 12-18 months before we have any hope at resolution to our situation with the house. Health-wise, it could be the same amount of time before we see major turns for good.

But we continue to improve and exercise and try.

And people continue to help us. It astounds me. I checked out at Walmart today with nothing but gift cards from generous friends around the country. (The guy behind me wasn’t as grateful as I was because it took a bunch of swipes for those cards to go through. If he only knew.)

God doesn’t mind our crying or gurgling or any other noise we make. He has been patting our backs and comforting us all the way, unconcerned about the length of time it will take to heal. He knows the beginning from the end. He can redeem gone days."