THE MOST PERSONAL OF PASTORAL LETTERS
Over the past few weeks, Erin and I have been deeply moved by your care and concern as many of you have asked what it is that may be going on with us, for you know something is obviously on our minds; others of you who have known that Erin and I have been seeing some out-of-town specialists concerning her ongoing health conditions have been sending cards, emails, and words of concern and support even as we have not been where we were ready to share all the details.
It is as a direct result of your care and concern that I write to you tonight to give you an update on what has obviously been distracting as well as some additional information about why we are seeing specialists.
As I believe most all of you are aware by now, one of the various chronic health conditions that has affected Erin and me from the earliest days of our marriage is endometriosis. Without getting into a lot of details I can tell you this is a condition that has no cure, and although there are various treatments that can alleviate it, Erin has a most acute form that has led to multiple surgeries over the years.
One of the hardest consequences of this condition is that it leaves many, many couples with the frustrating circumstances of what is known as the infertility journey. November 5 will mark the 13th anniversary of Erin's first surgery. In the ensuing years, we have been through so much - pretty much every fertility treatment out there (all ending in failure,) adoption loss, the pain of packing up a fully stocked and ready nursery when we moved here in 2011, and, in 2012, being rejected by the LA Department of Children's and Family Services' Foster-to-Adopt program due to her other chronic health conditions.
When we were rejected by the DCFS, we made a commitment to each other that we would spend the next few years making sure we had done everything to get her health and some other things under manageable control, and would revisit the issue of children when we felt the time was right. I would like to tell you that we were content and satisfied that we were taking the right course of action here, but as anyone who has been on the infertility journey will tell you, the wounds rub raw more than you are aware from time to time, and impact your life in many ways.
In August of this year, she and I started praying about and considering if we were still being called to wait or if we were being led to look at this issue again more immediately. I spoke at length with a dear friend and colleague who's judgement I trust completely, who encouraged me (and us) to look at all our options now, and see if we weren't maybe supposed to do something here and now.
Long story short, Erin and I have been consulting with some doctors who deal exclusively with high-risk situations like ours, and have been getting tested to see what, if any, possibilities are out there for us. Chances are very good that over the next month or so we will be taking what we know will be our very last shot at assisted reproductive therapy.
Our hope and plan was to share more about this process when we got some tangible results and plan of action, but, as I said earlier in this message, we have been truly touched and at times overwhelmed with your love and concern that we believed it was time now to let you know why we may have been a little (ok, a lot) distracted and/or preoccupied lately.
Given the sensitivities and emotions involved in this process, we hope you will understand that we may not be yet at the point where we are ready to answer many questions or go into any details about where, which doctors, which treatment, etc. This is not to hide anything; rather it is simply an acknowledgement this process is so consuming that we may not be in the best place to talk about it.
Our promise to you is this: As we can, and as situations warrant, we will let you know either in e-mail or in worship what is our current status in this process. It may be a little while before we have any news to share. If these treatments work out as we hope, due to her age and her health, it will be by definition a high-risk pregnancy, which will bring it's own challenges and stresses.
In the meeting we had to prepare for Charge Conference, I informed and swore to secrecy the members of our Staff-Parish Committee - I want to thank Wilhelmina Fulgenzi and the members of this group for their love, support, and confidentiality in what is one of the most emotional times Erin and I have been through in quite awhile.
Also, Erin and I want to thank our District Superintendent, Rev. Hadley Edwards, for his pastoral care and support.
Additionally, we want to thank Rev. Kathy Pfleider, who has been with us through almost all of this prayer and discernment process. For those of you who may be familiar with assisted reproductive therapy, you don't simply schedule these things - you have to be ready to go when the timing is right; Kathy is prepared to take the lead on things on very little notice if there comes a point where Erin and I have to go in a hurry. I would ask that you please keep Kathy in your prayers as well, and be ready to extend to her grace and understanding if/when the time comes where she is called on to take things in my absence on short notice.
Finally, we want to thank you, the people of North Cross, for all that you have meant to us over the last three and a half years, and for your care and concern as you have seen the obvious preoccupation and distraction that has affected both of us over the past 60 days or so. Despite my best intentions, I know that this has kept me from being 100% of who I should be as a your pastor, and being distracted has affected some things I may have said or done in certain situations. For that, you have my deepest and humblest apologies.
Erin and I hope to be sending you another special edition e-mail sometime in the next 10-11 months announcing the newest addition to the North Cross family; in the meantime know that we covet your prayers, concern, and sensitivity as we enter into one of, if not the final, chapter in what has been a long, gut-wrenching journey.
May God's Grace and Peace be with You All Now and Always,
Rev. Lamar Oliver