Whammy

My week started with the death of my friend’s daughter on Wednesday.

On Thursday a well known community member passed away due to a sudden heart attack.

Yesterday a woman with whom I went through cancer treatment was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

Last night I learned of a family friend who just received a terminal cancer diagnosis after going to the doctor for back pain.

It has been a terribly difficult week.

It has also been a week filled with love.

On Tuesday another high school friend met us at the hospital with McDonald’s and Dairy Queen. Although she lost her 17 year old son just three years ago and knew what we were facing, she showed up with food, stayed an talked with us, and gave love that was deeply needed. She and Max had not seen each other since high school…God brought them together now because Dana has already been navigating this darkness for three years. She can help to Maxine to navigate this at her own pace; maybe with some pointers.

This morning at breakfast I saw a woman who has been a family friend since I was very young. I went over and chatted with her for a bit. When we talked about the week and the prayers we talked about miracles…and how her husband’s cancer had been found extremely early due a blood thinner he had been on; causing the tumor to bleed. In three weeks he was diagnosed, operated on, and declared cancer free.

I told her of the miracle of Nancy holding her own for just over an hour after the ventilator was disconnected. How my work had just finished for the summer and I had stayed in the USA for an extra three days just so I could see the doctor on Monday. If I had left on Friday I would not even have known how sick Nancy was until I was already in Thompson. I could not have been there for her family if God had not put me there.

The blessings continue to shine on me this week. I have felt God at every turn, every challenge, every blessing.

Being able to be at my parent’s home giving my heart the time it needs to reconnect with reality. I am also giving my body rest. I have not skated since I left USA Monday and decided today to not even attempt to fit that into my schedule.

I know I need to take some time and intentionally decide how to schedule myself. I usually take time in the late summer and early fall to step away from a many commitments as I can so that I can reevaluate each one. I have no issue with cutting back. I refuse to start out over scheduled. Inevitably items get added to the calendar as the year moves forward; by the time summer comes around I am usually so busy it is nuts.

While I could very well spend the rest of my time here lost in questions, grief, and pain I am choosing to intentionally fill my time living the life granted to me.

Lord,

Not the easiest week, and not the most difficult either. Having You at the center of my thoughts has allowed me to see each of the small miracles.
Thank you for allowing me to share those miracles with those around me.
As I move forward this next week and beyond; help me to discern the best uses of my time and talents for the upcoming year. As I serve You, bring me opportunities to share You with those around me.
I am listening.

Amen

He Was There

Last week a friend since childhood posted that her daughter was sick and being transported to a bigger medical center ICU and needed prayer.

I reached out letting her know I was praying and then when I was coming through that town I asked if she wanted me to come sit with her as ICU usually has limited visiting hours with very few people allowed in at one time. She told me the name of the hospital and I showed up.

They immediately buzzed me in to the ICU…not even questioning if I was family. I found my friend sitting at the bedside of her 29 year old daughter. This little girl I had known from birth was hooked up to a ventilator and unresponsive.

Well…I lost it…WHAT HAPPENED, WHAT HAPPENED?

I sat there at the bedside with her, other family members, her daughter’s boyfriend and his family. I expected to stay for a couple of hours when I reached out to her. To offer some short reprieve during a stressful time.

I got there Monday afternoon around 4:00pm. I left Wednesday evening at 8:30…after her daughter passed away.

We do not have all the answers, and we probably never will.

While we navigated this horror, we were surrounded by God. When I went to the gift shop to buy nail polish to paint N’s finger and toenails, a woman overheard my story and offered me a bottle of polish she had bought for a sick friend the previous week…her friend died before she could give it to her. The polish was pink…N’s favorite color.

After meeting with the care team and learning that there was medically no more to be done, I walked out to the hall to have an ugly cry out of the family circle. As I walked out of the ICU a lady stopped me and asked if she could pray over me.

After the ventilator was disconnected, we were counseled that it would not be a very long process.

For an hour, that little girl breathed her own breaths and her heart pumped so hard.

I had been praying for her to come awake…and I truly believed God would heal her. I used social media to ask for others to pray for a divine healing. I made it clear that I had asked the mountain to jump only because I KNEW in the deepest corner of my heart that it would jump.

We positioned N so that her mom could be in bed beside her and hold her, talk to her, and just be close.

I had just finished sending another friend a message that we had witnessed the miracle we asked for…and then the breathing changed.

Within ten minutes of Mom crawling up into that bed, she held her daughter as she took her last breath.

God was merciful as N passed without pain and with those around her so full of peace.

As I cried and begged for her to come awake I had apparently forgotten that I had JUST sent a text that we were witnessing a miracle.

How ungrateful of me.

I had to thank God for the mercy He had shown us, the nurses, the doctors, their wisdom, the ability for so many of us to be there to minister to the family in their time of need.

Dear Lord,

Although I do not have the strength of heart to tell all I witnessed at this time, I am so thankful You were there. We could feel you, see you. We never felt alone or abandoned. 
I thank you for the opportunity to tell her of Your Son while I sat and read the Bible with her. 
The gift You gave us, was not in vain. We will shout Your greatness from the mountain tops. 
I cannot imagine N’s joy when she came to You. 
As we navigate the remainder of our time here on earth; help us to continue see the miracles in every day life. 

Amen

Back to School

As my Facebook feed fills up with smiling faces of kids displaying their new school clothes, my heart is heavy this morning.

I know my boys will not be the only ones not wearing new clothes and new shoes on the first day of school. That piece does not make my heart hurt less for the things they have had to miss out on because of cancer, divorce, and poverty.

I have never been able to spend the day just back to school shopping with my boys. Ever. Last year my parents bought them new school shoes, so they had that. I know that blessed my mom to take them shopping for shoes that day.

Today, the enemy is using my financial situation in an attempt to keep me down. The enemy wants me to feel like a bad mother, like a woman undeserving of love because I cannot provide for my children on my own.

Society sucks at making people feel like that…and the enemy eats that up. Then spits me out; leaving me to feel like I am unworthy of not only nice things, experiences with my children, the love of the people around me, and school shoes.

Our culture beats up on people who use government assistance programs whether it be cash assistance, medical assistance, food stamps, HUD, WIC, and other programs. Open up any social media platform and it will not take long for you to come across memes meant to ridicule people using those programs. Even receiving child support is frowned upon by certain circles.

Anger is sad’s body guard is what my children’s first psychologist taught us all. We used to work on getting to the root of the issue that caused major blow ups and random tantrums. Apparently that lesson has stuck with me because I could be mad at everybody and their happy smiling faces as they shop and eat and play.

Not today Satan…not today. Those lies and messages of defeat and unworthiness will not define my love for my children. Not today; not ever.

I know there is a room in Heaven waiting for me…and there is no sadness, every need is met, there is no hurt. I just have to get through these hard parts on earth.

Today, I choose to be so happy that those kids get that experience with their parents. I choose to pray thanksgiving that each family has that opportunity.

Lord, 
As I struggle with wanting great earthly gifts for my children I know that our time here is so small compared to eternity with you. Forgive my sinful desires for material goods. Remind me that I don’t have to whine; I can just ask You and pray Your will be done. 
I have asked mountains to move with the full belief that they would…and they did. 
God fill my heart with all that is good and right. Remove my sinful pride and wants.
Give me strength and endurance to get through these difficult times as I praise You through every storm, every trial, every triumph. 
Father, I humbly ask You to provide for the school needs the boys have. As they switch school districts this year, I ask for grace and mercy for this transition time. 
Thank you so much for all You have provided, all of Your love.
Amen

 

 

Inline With Jesus

My oldest son has come to the conclusion that myself and a few of my friends are psychotic. I admit that I am getting more comfortable with him thinking we have a serious mental illness of some sort.

My friend is an inline skater. That is her happy place. She gets up at the butt crack of dawn and skates 10 miles. She uses the time as one-on-one time with Jesus. She prays, she can focus, she is at complete peace in the middle of spiritual warfare.

This is where it starts getting wonky…

She found a great deal on a pair of inline skates for me and has been trying to convince me for the last year that it could be my happy place too during the hockey off season. I should not have to remind you that I am NOT a morning person, I am not an athletic person, I am not a physically motivated person.

On my first outing, I did four laps…and had to stop to puke after lap two. Besides learning what my lungs actually taste like; I was reminded by my screaming body how much it had been through the previous two and a half years and it was not having any of this energy expending stuff.

The next day she asked if I wanted to go for an evening skate. I committed to one lap (approximately 0.86 miles). I did another four laps.

A week and a half later I half heartedly agreed to join her on a ten mile skate. I always pushed myself physically when I was sick; as much as I wanted to give myself the excuse that I could ease in to this activity…well, we finished the ten miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes. She usually accomplishes this skate in under an hour. For her to be so intentional with skating at my pace was such a blessing.

The next thing I know I am making goals and already I am skating six laps (5.46 miles) three to five days a week. On the last two Sunday’s I even am at the trail before 6:00am because it works better for everybody’s schedules to be done early. The first early Sunday we invited people, there were FIVE women out there with us. FIVE OF US. I told her that was more of that God Math we often talk about.

Right now I am working on getting my six lap time down to 35 minutes. I have my five mile time at 35:01…but that last 0.46 miles I just have not yet been able to break it yet. My fastest time is 36:40. When I get it down to 35 minutes I will add another lap (bringing the distance to 6.33 miles).

Today I was slow…39:09. When I was disappointed she laughed at me. I have been skating for six weeks. She says I am doing okay…no longer do I collapse in the grass at the end of the five miles. That is a big deal.

In just six weeks I have progressed from her showing up at my house to wake me up and take me with her to sometimes I even beat her to the trail in the morning. From puking and drinking two bottles of water just to survive, to even forgetting my water bottle some times. From needing to eat breakfast before going or I would puke for sure, to eating when I get home.

Change…growth. All of it.

I have committed to doing an inline marathon next year…and will likely do more than one…I am definitely hooked.

On social media we use the hashtag #InlineWithJesus as we use the time to discuss everything from relationships, children, goals, prayer needs, and everything in between. We focus on biblical truths as we deal with the rough patches in our lives as well as the innumerable blessings.

I do not know if I have told her this yet (consider this being told as I know YOU are reading this)…we are going to get t-shirts with #InlineWithJesus for when we do my first marathon! We can sell them as a fundraiser!! We can even add #DoneDying or #DoneDating as an option!

Lord, 

Your grace and mercy are overwhelming. This new season of life has been so exhilarating and absolutely FUN! Even the hard days have light…Your light. 
I am so excited to be writing this new chapter. Thank You for my story not being finished yet. As that reality hits me every once in a while I am humbled and brought to tears again.
May our road rash heal quickly and our prayers be loud. 

Amen

 

God Math

I am a smart woman. I can budget like an accountant on steroids. The poverty we have endured thought the last three years was able to be endured thanks to, among other things, extreme diligence and discipline.

As I step out in faith and begin to tithe, and truly trust that God will provide it was been lesson after lesson of trust.

My income for the month of July totaled $926.30. My rent is $800, insurance is $87.04, phone $43.25 for a total of $930.29.

Just as Jesus fed thousands, my income was enough to not only pay those essentials, my boys were able to attend the county fair, I was able to buy myself a pair of jeans, we had a full gas tank all the time, we even had a couple evenings where we treated ourselves to fast food.

That is what I call God Math. He told me to trust…I obeyed and was given great peace.

As I explained it to a friend this morning, that I am right back to zero to begin August with, I am confident that God did not provide me X amount of dollars and gifts, He provided the fair experience, He provided for our needs and a few wants.

There is a season for building up an emergency fund so that we can bless others in their time of need. That season will start when I am back to working my regular hours at work in the fall. The confidence that God will get us from here to there is a weight I cannot even measure that has been lifted off my shoulders.

If I did not trust that God would provide, the boys would not have experienced the fair, I would have taken from my children the knowledge that God provides.

They have seen a different side of Mom this month. They have seen peace we have not known for three years. They have been witness to unfailing faith and obedience.

Lord, 
I pray my children never again witness the insecurity of me not trusting Your love, grace, and mercy. May they remember these days and moments as the people on the shores once did while Jesus fed thousands. May they understand the miracle of God Math.

While they are away for the next three weeks, guide them as they spread Your love wherever they roam. Give them the confidence to follow You when the people around them live a different lifestyle than they see at home. Teach them empathy and compassion for those who do not know You.

Continue to give me strength to be vulnerable in my current social situations. As life is ever changing, it is good…and it is difficult. 

Your light guides my feet, and they are on the move. 

Amen

The Next Week

After making the decision to start Tithing, although I was not panicked or worried, there was a nagging in the back of my head. What if that $26.00 is the difference between making the rent payment and not making it. What if the cost of a tank of gas does not get replaced? How was I going to come up with those needs.

I just kept hearing God say, “Trust Me.” He repeated Himself over and over again in those first days and weeks as I did the math over and over.

What I did not know and am learning beyond all rhyme or reason is new math; God Math.

When He says, “Trust Me” He is NOT kidding.

Not only did I have enough money to pay the rent, I also was able to take my children to the local fair (something they had resigned themselves to not being able to do). I was able to buy myself a pair of jeans (I only have one pair and they are not suitable for work/play). The jeans I had BOTH (yes, I only had two pair of everyday jeans) had holes worn through that made them unwearable within weeks of each other.

I remember when my friend explained to me the loss of dignity when people are poor…I have lived this way for so long that I was baffled to have it explained. To be able to walk into the store and buy myself a pair of $29 dollar jeans felt so amazing, so empowering.

I always say it’s the little things that matter, I just did not realize how many of those little things we were going without.

When I give my tithe, I feel like the modern version of the Widow’s Mite:

Luke 21: 1-4 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

It is a humbling privilege to give with great joy what little I can give. I truly trust that God will provide for all our needs.

I gotta say, His batting average for taking care of me thus far is pretty good 😉

Lord, 
Humbly I come to you with such a grateful heart. Thank you for all Your good works, your faithful servants whom surround my family. 
I will continue to praise You from the rooftops, the sidewalks, the playground, the parking lot, the fishing hole, the open vehicle window, the top of the stairs, the workplace…
Your love is abundant and my cup overflows. 
Be with the boys and their aunt, cousins, and my mother as they travel over the next couple of days. 
Amen

Welcome Back

Thanks everybody for being patient while God took care of a few things.

This will be a very short post today as I am trying to type with a broken middle finger that has to be splinted and buddy – taped to my ring finger. (I actually un taped it from that finger just so I could type this…but I know that can’t happen every day.

I have been using my Facebook page to download some of my thoughts with their LiveFeed feature. I never would have guessed that Vlogging would be so awesome. Seriously considering maybe starting to YouTube some of my less ‘filtered and edited’ thoughts as I know not everybody has Facebook and I hate to think that anybody is missing the message that might be the exact one they need to see or hear.

Life has been moving at a lightening fast pace this summer. It is absolutely crazy how God has been showing up and getting things done every time I turn around.

I lost a dear friend and cancer mentor last week and my heart continues to hurt for her family. Her funeral was yesterday and the boys and I made it though in one piece…and some times that is all that matters.

When she died on Saturday morning I talked to my mom (over 600 miles away) and she told me, “I don’t care what you have to do, you just get through this. You be strong for her family, and you let others take care of you.”

For the first time…I did just that. I ugly cried my good friend and she came over. When she had to go be with her family, another friend showed up just as I was going to lay down. That friend stayed while I tried to nap and cleaned my house while she just was here for me. I cannot thank them enough for getting me through that day.

I will continue to do my best to catch you up on God’s amazing work this last couple of months.

I pray you are all well and having a wonderful season.

Deb