Our Holiday Letter

This has been a year of extreme highs and terrible lows for our family.  This year began with illness and surgery.  Scott was experiencing terrible pain and the doctors misdiagnosed it.  He walked around with appendicitis for almost four weeks before a specialist rushed him into a successful surgery.  We cannot say enough about the care he received at BroMenn Medical Center in Bloomington, and will remain silent in regards to another facility.

Scott’s recovery was swift and we were able to travel to Israel-Palestine in February.  In 2014 the conference graciously allowed Scott to defer his ordination trip so that we could, instead, travel as a couple on the 2016 Ordinand Trip to the Holy Land.  It was an incredible trip not just because of the sights and sounds, but also because of the many colleagues and friends who were on the trip with us.  Not only that, but Carrie’s sister decided to join the trip.  We were blessed to be part of such an incredible experience with such amazing people!

While we were on the extension trip in Ammon, Jordan we received a call from our foster care agency that they had a placement for us.  We, obviously, were not available to take the placement and we were crushed that after such a long wait we were unable to become parents.  Just days after our arrival home we received another call for a 10 year old girl to be placed with us.  We were overjoyed (and nervous)!  She moved in the next day on March 10.  “A” would stay with us for the next five months.  The situation was not what we or the agency expected and our home quickly became unsafe.  She was moved to a more appropriate placement in August.

During that summer Scott completed his second residency (set of summer classes) in the ACTS Doctor of Ministry program.  We are blessed that his church has given him extra time for continuing education and provided him with financial support that makes this possible.  He has one more assigned sermon and an integrative paper this year, one more residency and then begins his thesis writing.  He is almost there!

Carrie also worked hard this year to grow professionally.  She completed her certificate in nonprofit management from Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) this year.  She also traveled to Chicago for the Mediation Skills Training Institute at Lombard-Mennonite Peace Center which got her interested in a Clergy Clinic process which she began in the fall.

This fall we cancelled our membership with our TaeKwonDo (Korean martial arts) Dojang (gym).  We really enjoyed Master Soo Kim and the other students at Soo Kim Martial Arts, but the times didn’t work with our schedules and the expense was great.  Instead we have gotten a membership at the Riverplex downtown.  Between exercise, healthy eating, and better sleep (and our Fitbit tracking) 2016 has been a year of increasing health for us as a family.

Despite our busy-ness we were able to get away for some days away.  In April we took “A” to Pere Marquette.  It was especially fun to see a little girl’s face light up the first time she stayed in a motel room.  We enjoyed hiking trails and seeing beautiful river scenes as well as a ferry boat ride and an afternoon at the Saint Louis Zoo.  In late April we took “A” to the Mark Twain cave and sights in Hannibal, Missouri and went down to the Berry family lake house in Saint Genevieve, Missouri in June for the twins’ birthday.  Carrie and “A” also got to spend a few days in late June in Saint Louis with family and, then, got to go to the Lincoln sites in Springfield.

In August, after “A” moved out, Carrie took a few days off to hike the Ozark trail.  Then, in September we spent two days in Chicago on a spur-of-the-moment trip.  We also dropped off our wedding rings for resizing (and added some bling to Carrie’s ring) and we enjoyed a day at Shedd’s Aquarium.

This Thanksgiving was spent with Carrie’s family, but at the home of…Carrie’s sister’s husband’s family (confusing? Not really, we’ll take them as full-on family any time)!Thanksgiving Day, itself, was wonderful overlooking downtown Saint Louis, but we also enjoyed several days visiting with Carrie’s family in Town and Country.  Christmas is expected to be with Scott’s family at his childhood home.  We are especially looking forward to seeing Scott’s sister and her husband who will be down from Wisconsin, so Christmas is looking to be just as wonderful as our recent Thanksgiving!

As we move into the holidays we reflect on a crazy year and we realize that we have received many blessings.  We look forward to Christmas celebrations at our churches and we hope that you and yours can count as many blessings in your lives as we do in ours!

Blessings & Peace,

I Have this Feeling…In My Gut, part 2

I guess I should continue where I left off, huh?

I went to the GI specialist on Tuesday.  He was pretty sure it was appendicitis.  He thought that the appendix may have even burst and I’d been walking around with a burst appendix.  He sent me for scans on Wednesday morning.  Upon seeing the scans I was sent straight to the Emergency Department at BroMenn for surgery.

If you are wondering how a person walks around with a burst appendix, it is a good question.  Here is the story of Martha Little, news director for WBUR.  She lived with a burst appendix for weeks!

The appendix had not ruptured so they were able to do the surgery laparoscopically and was in the hospital overnight.  I cannot praise the nursing staff enough.  They took good care of me…and got me home quickly where my wife could continue caring for me.

I’m doing well, now.  I’m in some pain, but I have medicine to help with that.  I’m being well-cared-for and my church is in good hands.  My wife and other clergy are covering for me while I recover, but my congregation is amazing and I can also count on the people of the church to make sure everything and everyone is cared for while I am gone!


I Have this Feeling…in My Gut.

For a few days I had noticed some pain in my abdomen, but they were fleeing.  On the twenty second of December, I began having more severe pain on my left side.  My doctor’s nurse practitioner had a last-minute cancellation and I left work early and went straight down to my doctor’s office.  The pain had subsided a bit by the time I got there and the pain was on my left side.  The nurse diagnosed me with diverticulitis and gave me a prescription for antibiotics.

I started feeling better and within a week I was feeling pretty good…until I finished my antibiotic regimen.  On New Year’s Day I began having some pain, again.  We went to an urgent care doctor.  Because of the diverticulitis diagnosis, they suspected it was probably something I ate. They sent me home and told me to see my primary care doctor.  After a few days I got in with my doctor and he sent me for a scan.  My appendix was mildly inflamed.  The antibiotics from the misdiagnosis of diverticulitis had reduced the inflammation, and he recommended a more aggressive course of antibiotics for the appendicitis.

If you are like me, you haven’t heard of treating appendicitis with antibiotics, but it is a real thing!  Here is a WebMD article that shows 80% of patients may find medicine effective rather than surgery. Apparently, this has been a standard practice in Europe for some time, now, and America is just coming around to this standard of treatment.

I consented to trying the more aggressive course of treatment and got started right away (Friday).  At 3:30am on Saturday morning I woke up intensely sick.  I got to the bathroom, somehow, but I was nearly incapacitated with nausea, intense pain, and my head was spinning.  Though my wife had left town for the weekend, luckily, I was not alone! My mother drove up to stay with me because my wife was concerned for me.  Carrie is so wise!  I yelled for my mother to call an ambulance.

Thankfully, the ambulance was quick to respond.  They were great.  They got me down the stairs, out of the house, out through the cold and bright flashing lights, onto the gurney and rolled me into the back of the ambulance.  I thought to myself, “the whole neighborhood is awake watching this.  How embarrassing!”

I was rushed to OSF Saint Francis and proceeded to sit in the Emergency Department for hours.  Good thing my appendix didn’t burst!

Once I got to a room in the Emergency Department, the doctors didn’t know what to do with me.  They would not or could not look at scans done by another hospital system and the doctors wouldn’t call to consult with my primary care doctor.  It just so happens that the doctor on-call for my primary care doctor’s office called me to check-in.  I put him on the phone with the doctors at St. Francis.

One doctor came in to say I had appendicitis and was going for surgery and then another doctor came in to say that I didn’t. Then a surgical resident came in to talk to me about my ‘pending’ surgery and then a GI doctor came in to tell me that there would not be surgery and it was not appendicitis.  I felt like a ping-pong ball.

I was admitted to the hospital and they kept me off food and ran some tests.  Worse than boredom is boredom with a completely empty and loudly growling stomach!  They never sent me for scans, but instead they watched my vitals, ran blood panels and tested my urine.  I’m so frustrated that they haven’t really consulted with my primary care doctor, as far as I know, or even looked at the scan taken on Friday.

I was discharged by the hospital on Sunday with instructions to come back and have an appointment with an OSF GI specialist.  I already have an appointment tomorrow with a GI specialist over in Bloomington (that appointment was set up when I saw my primary care doctor on Friday).  I just hope this specialist can figure things out and give me a diagnosis.

It’s bad enough that I don’t know what’s wrong with my GI tract, but on top of it all: I was hospitalized on a Sunday morning.  But it is worse than that, even.  This was the week I was supposed to preach a sermon for my doctoral program!  Luckily, I have an advisor who will understand and colleagues that made sure my pulpit was covered.  Rev. Lori Bultemeier immediately offered to preach and lead worship so that I didn’t have to worry about anything!

Thank you, Lori!