Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I have a pile of grading the height of a chubby, bearded yard gnome; and I really should be making my way through at least a few inches of it today. Naturally, I've spent the morning watching Youtube videos and taking frequent trips to the kitchen, and I have now turned to blogging.

My grading started okay. The key to convincing yourself to grade in May is to make yourself comfortable, so I did. I nestled in my anti-gravity chair in the sunshine, a cup of lemon water in my handy-dandy cup holder, and a bowl of raspberries within arm's reach. But as soon as I sat down, I realized there were so.many.other important things to do, starting with snapping photos of everything on the patio. It all went downhill from there.

Grading Photography, Exhibit A:

This is a candid grading selfie, if ever there were such a thing. English teachers, please, please, please snap a selfie while you're grading and send it to me. It will give me so much joy.

Grading photography, Exhibit B:

A student gave me this plant last fall, and when I potted it, the little beauty was traumatized. Within weeks, the trauma had turned her luscious, budded stems into a few black, spindly arms. The poor thing belonged in The Lion King's "Elephant Graveyard."

Normally, I love gardening, but I was far too preoccupied with my health to try to resuscitate her. But lo and behold: several months later, those black, spindly arms sprouted waxy leaves; and a month after that, flowers burst forth.

I've taken comfort in my hydrangeas this spring as I struggle to climb out of the nightmarish pit of sickness. I often feel like the only way I will get healthy is if I work my tail off. And it is so much work to get healthy. Some weeks I'll put in a full 25 hours of work researching, strategizing, talking to insurance agents, going to the doctor, and completing daily medical regimes; and in the midst of all that work, it's easy to forget that God could heal me without my help. My hydrangea is a daily reminder that dying things can sprout life without my assistance.

Many of you have sent me notes of encouragement over the last couple of weeks as I wrap up the semester. Thank you. I'm really delighted to tell you that I have made some hopeful improvements lately.

The herbs in April helped, of course, but a few weeks ago, my body rejected them, and I spiraled back into the pit the week before my nerve-wracking test. I imagine the fear of what the test might reveal suppressed my immune system even more than usual, and the viruses took advantage of the weakness. When the test results were favorable, the burden on my immune system lifted, and I began to feel a bit better.

The herbs I took last month seem to have quieted my GI tract infection enough that my body can once again tolerate some of the tinctures that helped me heal some in the summer and fall, so I've resumed taking them. Little by little, I inch forward (then backward, then forward, then backward — the cha-cha continues, but I am SO grateful for those steps forward!), and every now and then, I'm able to participate in life in more normal ways.

I recently enjoyed an afternoon at the beach after one of my doctor's appointments with Sean, my friend and doctor's appointment chauffeur, and since it was a blustery day, we flew kites.

Everyone, meet Skippy, the happiest little tail-wagging kite in all the land.

Also, I imagine Sean will be happy if he never hears Mary Poppin's "Let's Go Fly a Kite" ever again...

Mr. Sun finally made an appearance!

Last weekend a friend and colleague, whose name means Queen of the Fairies, hosted a garden dinner party for a handful of faculty.

After dinner we sat around a campfire for hours, talking and drinking hot rose water tea (isn't that just what you would expect from the Queen of Fairies?!), and though it was a full moon,  my body held up remarkably well. The outing gave me such hope, and hope is such a powerful healer.

This week is finals week, so many of us — faculty and students alike — are blitzed with work, and we are exhausted. We are drooping, dragging, crawling across the finish line, but WE ARE STILL MOVING.

My (girl)friends, there is a trick to making it out the door at 7 A.M. on a Monday in May with optimism about the long day ahead: a fancy hair-do.

A fancy hairdo can make a girl stand a little straighter; and good, open posture tells your brain you are strong, which makes it increase your testosterone levels and lower your cortisol levels, which tells you that YOU ARE WOMAN AND YOU WILL OVERCOME.

Never underestimate the power of a good hairdo.

Also, a big breakfast will do wonders for the spirit (and the waistline):

Girls, the above hairdo is so easy (maybe I'll do a tutorial), and one of its many benefits is if you nap in it, you will wake up with Queen Elsa hair, which may well inspire you to, whatever it is:

(Please forgive the inordinate number of selfies in this post).

Anyway, good things are happening over here, and for the first time in many months, I feel hopeful that one day I will return to decent health. I've even dared to hope that I might heal enough this summer to go on occasional outings. I'm trying to manage my hope because I'm still so weak and symptomatic (I'm guessing I'm functioning at about 5% of normal), but you guys: I would love to go dancing, and hiking, and walking through the countryside this summer.

Would you pray that my body continues on a healing trajectory? And would you continue to pray for wisdom for me as I try to figure out which treatments to try this summer? And finally, on Friday I see another specialist about a follow-up test to the one I got earlier this month. Would you pray for insight for the specialist and me as we discuss my case?

Thank you for your faithful prayers and wonderful encouragement this semester, my friends!

Cheering for you,


P.S. I turned in the final paper for my PhD class last week:

This paper, as with all of the work for this class, was a collective effort, because I surely would not have made it through this class without all of your fervent, faithful prayers for my health. Thank you, dear ones!

© by scj


  1. Take a grading break and read this for a laugh. It's not long.

    Praying for you,

  2. Sharon,

    I've read this before (multiple times, actually; it's just so good) and it is HILARIOUS. Can always count on Jen for a good laugh.

    Thank you for your prayers. :)