Time to Get to Work

Yesterday the dam broke on my emotions. On Friday evening I learned of yet another friend being diagnosed with breast cancer. She is only 28. She and her family have asked to meet with me to just talk about breast cancer a little bit as they begin what is to be a very difficult journey.

Of course I said yes, and that I would make up a list of questions for them to ask the oncologist when they meet on Tuesday. As I go through my list of questions, I realize how medical sounding they are and that most of them will be not much more than gibberish to her and her family until they are further down the line…things they don’t even know that they don’t know.

My place now…to use my experience, my strength, my prayers, and my time with newly diagnosed cancer patients…who better for this? I kicked it’s ass…and it was tough. So tough.

I have talked to a woman beginning a care team ministry at church and told her I want to be on the team as the cancer care specialist.

Right now I have just made an intake interview form for meeting with new people as they are diagnosed. We, as the church, need to know what the needs of these patients are so that we can meet and exceed them to make this not as difficult as it can be.

I need to sit down and make tangible goals…measurable and with a deadline. I could be a really good manager if I wanted that kind of headache in my life! lol No amount of money would make it worth the headache!

 

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As He Always Does

Today I made a plan in my head; an exit strategy so to speak with my current job. I’m beyond done there and ready to move on…

Then a friend posted on her Facebook wall about being away for her son’s birthday today and I promised to sing to him when he came through my lunch line. He’s a great kid and an amazing hockey player. I love him bunches and bunches. At least now I had something to look forward to at work.

Then one of the first classes started coming in and all the kids were dressed up…in Grinch-like attire…some even with HUGE Betty Lou Who (or whatever her name is) hair. Mom’s had put an upside down plastic cup on their heads to get the look. IT WAS AWESOME.

I laughed so hard and just loved up on this entire Grinch Grade. It was adorable. Cute socks, awesome hair, some with green hair…I told the kids if I had l known I would have NAILED IT as the Grinch today.

Then along came the fifth grade class. I asked a few of the first hockey kids I knew if they were in Paul’s class and they aren’t…but I recruited them to help.

After Paul was seated, over half the cafeteria joined me in singing happy birthday to him. His smile and happy tears were all I needed to finish out my shift.

After work I decided to surprise my older boy…he will be 13 tomorrow so I showed up in his last hour class with cupcakes singing happy birthday. He loved it.

So I’m thankful for another day. A day of awesome that could have been much less than.

This Funk

Yesterday one of my co-workers (an elderly man) asked if I was feeling ok; he said I didn’t look well. I explained that I was just stressed out…holiday stress I explained.

While I have some holiday stress, the truth is I hate my job.

I LOVE being with the kids and seeing them everyday; the atmosphere with my coworkers though leaves much to be desired. The gossip runs rampant, the two-faced conversations at nearly every turn, the manager threatens termination to at least one coworker – to everybody BUT that coworker (but has yet to sit down with them and discuss what she sees as issues) it’s disgusting and sad.

As much talking as goes on, you’d think communication is top notch. You’d be wrong. People who have been there for years get yelled at for not doing things they didn’t even know they were supposed to be doing.

I’ve never been given a job description or list of duties. I’m lucky to be able to work on the fly and learn as I go and read between the lines and see work that needs to be done. However, when I get reprimanded in front of students, staff, and coworkers for not doing something I don’t even know I’m supposed to do…no thanks.

I had only been there a month when my work partner had the day off. Our duties are nearly identical…but not quite. Well, I’ve never done her job and am busy enough doing my job that I have no idea what she’s doing when I’m not watching her. Anyway…so a sub comes in and half way through serving, I get yelled at by the kitchen manager for not doing something that was my partner’s job. I explained that I didn’t know I was supposed to do that…I had never seen who did that particular job. She told me, “Well, she better tell you what her job is then.”

Well, that’s fine and dandy…but then you complain that we are working together and wasting time. It would be so simple to have individual job duties lists for each member of the staff. There is so little variation in our daily tasks, that each job should have a job description if nothing else, for subs and new staff.

So every morning, I wake up in this funk and it sucks.

I pray for my work situation, for each of the people I work with and for. I pray for the spirit of grace and mercy as I know each of us is fighting our own personal battle outside the workplace.

Then I pray for my kids, and their needs and wants.

Then after all the kids get on the bus, I go skating for an hour. I do laps, squats between the blue lines, one foot between the blue lines, power turns, lunge-crossovers, circles, and some quick skates.

My time on the ice is magic. I work my butt off most days. Some days are just for conversation and leisurely skating. I’ve already noticed my skating improving and my stamina increasing.

When I had cancer, I would sometimes spend 8 hours at chemo and then run to the rink to coach hockey practice. Luckily, I didn’t have visitors at chemo so I was able to sleep all day…if I slept all day I had enough energy to be on the ice for 45 minutes. Once I was on the ice though, you’d never know where I had spent the day. Except for being bald, you probably wouldn’t even know I had cancer. I loved that 45 minutes. We got to forget about cancer completely…45 minutes at a time.

I need to find a way to completely forget about work. I took this position at the other school for more hours. I needed the extra hours as I was tired of not being able to pay the bills. Now at least they are paid…but it’s at such a high personal cost.

This morning, there is no open skating. I’m going to take the time to take care of myself for a little while…an extra long shower, a power breakfast and then go pick up cat litter I’ve been meaning to get all week.

Life is good. I’m just in a rut.

Dear Father in Heaven;

Grant me peace through this season. We both know I took this job for reasons other than money…to be able to shine Your light into darkness. Keep my feet grounded and my head in the game as the time passes.
I knew going in that this would be a challenge. Help me to not jump ship when the going gets tough. I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge, keep my feet firmly planted in Your light and truth.
Cover my workplace in peace and prosperity for all.

Amen

Kissing Skates

I’ve had the idea for t-shirts for some time. We all know this. Katie and I had one each made for us for our marathon in Duluth but no other shirts.

Today I actually took a step towards doing something about getting it done as a fundraiser. I contacted a local clothing store than offers custom printing and apparel with no set up fees and no minimums!

I explained my story and that I am looking at fundraising for next summer’s inline marathon season.

They asked if they could get back to me after the holidays with some ideas and I said definitely as there are still 193 days until the first marathon (not that I’m counting).

There will be t-shirts, hoodies, maybe even sweatpants. A portion of each sale will go towards which ever cancer charity we choose. Currently we are considering several charities and looking forward to narrowing it down to one or two. If we do two, it’s most likely we will include a local charity that gives a yearly cash grant to all local cancer patients.

So, in my head it is a “Cancer can kiss my skates” with either inline skates or ice skates for a graphic. Down the leg of my pants (either sweats or race pants) it can just say KISS MY SKATES.

I’ve already had one woman tell me to hit her up when we start our fundraising next year and she will gladly sponsor our shenanigans. I’m pretty sure I know of at least one other business that will be interested in furthering our fundraising efforts.

It is time…my frustrations and anger at cancer are real and I’m taking my life back.

Five days a week I am on the ice for an hour skating laps, doing power turn drills, squats between the blue lines, hard charging the corners, skating on one foot between the blue lines, deep cross-overs all the way around the rink…all in an effort to increase my balance, my core strength, my cardiovascular health, and my speed.

I’m taking my life back, one push at a time. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I Shouldn’t Have Waited

On Thanksgiving Day, I had so many thoughts of all that I am thankful for that I wanted to post about. I knew I had to spread The Good News about how I see God work in my life. There were so many amazing thoughts in my head as I spent the day in restoring rest.

Then Thursday turned in to Friday.

I ran to the store to buy milk and ran into a friend and her kids. Her son plays hockey with mine and her baby is just an adorable little munchkin who is always quick to tell me, “I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy.”

I knew her dad had to return to the doctor after talking with them at last week’s hockey game so I asked about it. He is a two time cancer survivor whom had just recently finished his second round of treatment along with a bone marrow transplant.

You know that moment before your life changes…it was right before I asked.

“Well, we got some not good news this morning.”

Fuck

So he goes back to the doctor again this week (6 hours away from home) to figure out what the next course of action is. My friend is scared, her older son is devastated (him and Grandpa have always been very close).

I told her that all I can do is pray…because I don’t even know what else to do.

Then I got a text confirming a fear I’ve had for a few weeks. Another guy I know (although not well, I’ve known him for about 10 years) his brain cancer is back. Stage four glioblastoma.

So, of course I don’t do myself any favors by looking it up. Median survival, 15-18 months. Only 20% of patients area alive after one year.

I’ve been praying for his family…and my friend’s family.

I still want to post about all that I am thankful for…just at a more appropriate time. Today is not that time.

Today I am praying about not killing anybody at work…the last week before my Zoladex shot is beyond hell. It’s like PMS on steroids. I never dealt with PMS before cancer, I was pretty lucky.

Not anymore.

About a week before my shot is due, something will alert me to the shift in my mood; being short with the kids, something trivial causing an explosion…then I will check the calendar and take a deep breath…because it is just the beginning of Hell Week. College frat boys got nothing on me!

I can’t fall asleep at night, I don’t want to get up in the morning. I have no desire to do anything (I even skipped my morning skate today and last Wednesday). Ya, you read that right…I skipped an opportunity to be on the ice…twice.

I get my shot at 2:30 today and then because the weather is so awesome I may even go for an inline skate; whoda thunk we’d be able to skate at the end of November? I think Halloween Day was my last inline skate. Would have been cool to skate on ice and pavement in the same day. Today is not that day.

So I will get up and go to work, I even considered calling in sick today to avoid any potential issues, I’m just not myself and I hate it. Twice last week I nearly quit my job. I saw a co-worker yesterday and she asked if I was ready to go back to work tomorrow after a four day weekend and I told her, “No, I hate my job.” She said that made her sad.

I also hate that it’s four unpaid days (no stat holidays in this country). Ya, I know we’re going to be okay, yes I know God will provide for our needs.

You know what though?

I want more than just our basic needs. I want to pay the light bill AND take my kid for a hot chocolate. I want an emergency fund so that I don’t have to rely on others when my vehicle finally decides it’s done.

And I hate that.

I hate feeling like I want more. I hate to think that I somehow sound ungrateful for all that has been provided for us. I’m not. I am truly thankful to be where we are. I also know that even a few hundred dollars every month would make a huge difference in our comfort level. I could own more than one pair of jeans for work, I would not beat myself up for driving 3 hours (one way) to watch my son play hockey on his dad’s weekend. I wouldn’t cringe at the thought of the fees for archery (although only $40…that’s almost a tank of gas).

I had a great idea for Christmas for the boys and now I don’t think I can pull it off.

Instead of buying gifts this year, I was going to plan a getaway. It wouldn’t cost much more than what I would spend on gifts, and the memories would be way better than any gift I could buy them.

We even received an unexpected monetary gift in the mail last week. Well, between travel for hockey this month and other unexpected expenses, that was swallowed up like a snake eats a frog…like it was gone before I even realized it.

Add on the fact that my December 15 paycheck will be smaller than normal, and I’m right back to counting pennies in time to pay rent for January.

This is where that ‘cushion fund’ would come in handy. If I had a couple months of expenses saved up, and the security that I had the money on hand, I could let go of the stress.

So, instead. My kids will be on the local ‘Giving Tree’ and somebody will pick the “Boy – age 10” and “Boy – age 13” off and bless them, again.

I thought I had it all figured out.

Turns out God’s plans and my plans are not always the same.

Heavenly Father,

I am so thankful for the blessings bestowed upon myself and my boys. I do understand how blessed we are and how good we have it.

I miss how things were when I didn’t have to worry about money. I want to have that again. God, I ask for abundant resources to not only meet our needs but to also exceed them.

Amen

When I am Quiet

When I am quiet (I know, it’s not often…bare with me). When I am quiet and focus on the sacrificial life I have led; putting others before myself; doing things I’d rather not when I know it is for God’s glory; I’m at peace.

Sure, I still have crappy days (you know…like earlier this week) I also have days where I look at my bank account and it holds $100.00 more than it should. This has happened on more than one occasion and I have no explanation for it; apparently God just shows up at my bank and deposits $100 a few times a year. Always at exactly the right time, always when I am desperately desperate.

There are just no words for when things like that happen in my life.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, four days after my first chemotherapy treatment my car died. It had gotten me to Rochester several times (384 miles one way) plus over 1000 miles back and forth to Fargo jus since the end of October. It had led a good life.

The following day, I received a call from the local Chrysler/Dodge dealership. The voicemail was a salesperson asking me to call him as soon as I could. Great, I thought, he knows my car broke and thinks I can buy a new one.

When I returned his call, fully prepared to tell him I had exactly zero dollars and thanks but no thanks; I was brought to tears. Somebody had heard about my vehicle and had paid for a 2003 Dodge Caravan on my behalf with the only stipulation that it be anonymous.

I’m still driving that van, and the local paper even did a story on me and he boys and our situation and our Secret Santa. It’s got over 230,000 miles on it and leaks oil bad enough that I never need an oil change…I just add fresh stuff and change the filter now and then.

I’ve been stressing over finances for some time, especially with both boys having their birthday’s come up, Christmas, plus finding out their dad was not going to help pay for hockey after already committing to the season.

My very next paycheck, I had miscalculated…I had anticipated 10 less hours than I actually worked so my paycheck was bigger than I expected. When I looked in my bank account, there was the extra $100.

So as I am recalculating and figuring, I plan for the young one’s birthday party…waterpark with two friends. I always give him an option, more friends, less fun or less friends and more fun.

After understanding God’s got this and I make the plans…two friends offer me Buy one-Get one coupons for the waterpark that they can’t use! So…I’m letting the older boy also bring two friends and having his party as well (his birthday is three weeks after his brother). Today I went and bought them both new Nerf guns as the ones they have are over three years old and have served their purpose well.

When I take the time to sit down and count all my blessings, the other noise in my life goes silent. There is nothing as great as God. He promises to take care of His children.

Tomorrow, my tiny miracle will turn 10…what an awesome kid! To celebrate his birthday we are headed to hockey to play his first game of the year at 11:00 am and then watch one of his friends that is coming play his game (starting at 1pm). Then we are all headed to the waterpark for an afternoon/evening of super fun!

Today, we took 30 cupcakes to school to share with his class. Tomorrow we are bringing 15 cupcakes to hockey for his team, plus picking up a cake for the party. If this kid is not sugared up by then, nothing will do it!

Tonight though, we are headed to a Jr A hockey game (our local team is 18-0 and he has not missed a home game yet). I am so thankful for the gift of season tickets; this would never happen if not for them.

Lord,

Thank You for the reminders of how great You are and how Your love is everywhere. Those reminders are sometimes quiet as a butterfly and sometimes they are a splash of cold water on a sleeping teenager. Without those reminders, I don’t know where I’d be. The enemy is loud and you are gentle. Thank you Father.
As the winter months set in, continue to bring us peace as well as strength to weather any storm.
You love is greater, Your love is stronger, Your love…is all I need.

Amen

I Am Not A Quitter

*Language Warning*

I want to quit. I want to stop writing and sharing my life and deepest thoughts regarding my faith journey and the real life I life live and how that all looks together in one neat little blog.

I want to swear and scream. I want to throw things and break things and have a temper tantrum that will rival any threenager. I want to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep over hurts and sadness and anger.

I want to tell the world to just fuck off already. I want to live in peace and harmony and love.

Yes, I realize how stupid those two sentences look together. 

But I can’t quit…this is essentially what this blog is supposed to be about. Real life, in real time. It’s about when my faith is strong and when I stumble. It is when I feel like I could take on the world, and also when the weight of the world is so crushing that it is physically painful.

Tonight, I’m done…or I want to be done.

Done caring, done trying, done improving, done growing, done done done.

Yet I know that God has a plan in ALL OF THIS. all of this

Who am I to question His good work? Who am I to get in His way.

Tonight; I am a broken woman.

The cuts and scars people cannot see are often the deepest. The wounds from my past are deep and tonight they have been reopened…like a surgeon does precise work, so does the one who opens these wounds. Perfectly in the already weakened tissue…through the old scar…splayed out in the middle of the room for all to see and judge and comment on.

My scars from cancer I enjoy showing off…I earned those.

My emotional scars I cover and cover and cover and cover and cover…

Why is that? Do I not have the same ‘warrior story’ with them? Did I not earn them as well?

My friends cringe when new people ask about my cancer…they know I’m going to be lifting my shirt to show my belly scar that runs from hip to hip within a matter of minutes…much to the shock and awe and (sometimes) horror of the unsuspecting third party.

I also earned these scars on my heart. The deepest recesses of my soul. They saved my life just as much as my cancer scars did.

People…we gotta be more real. We gotta let it out. We can’t all be sitting in our bedrooms crying when our hurts are so deep. We can’t all be worried that if our children knew just how devastated we are would be to crush them. We can’t just have one person we can text, “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” to when there are no words left.

Tonight, I have no more words, only tears. Only hurt. Only disappointment in myself that I didn’t handle things better.

Tonight I remember my mom crying in her bedroom…and knowing I had messed up. I hated hurting my mom. I also knew that no matter what; she couldn’t get rid of me so when there was a tongue lashing to be had or a scapegoat to sacrifice, she was always my first choice.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that I am my older son’s scapegoat because he doesn’t have to worry about if I find out that I have been thrown under the bus yet again. He knows I will still love him with every cell in my body. He knows I will get out from under that bus again and again and again…and hug him with all of my might.

Sure, he’s learning that throwing me under there has implications he does not like…he hates to see his mamma cry. He is starting to see the damage the bus does…but, as any child/teenager (and most adults who know better)…it’s still easier to watch the aftermath of throwing me under the bus than it is to stand in front of it himself…but he’s learning.

I just cannot grow a thick enough skin to withstand the damage…and I never want to.

UGH

I never want to. I don’t want to become so uncaring and unfeeling that words and actions can no longer be weapons against me.

So, I guess that leaves me here…writing for you. Showing you that in all my imperfections, I’m still a child of the One True King…and I am worthy of His love and grace.

Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.

A dear friend told me once that there is grace for times such as these.

Good thing.

God,

You brought me here, help me to lean on you through this storm and every storm that follows. I pray for this storm to be calmed…or for me to be calmed in the storm…You’re pretty good at that.
I am so thankful for the outlet that is this blog…I ask for clarity when writing out my thoughts, even when I write like tonight.
Lord, I need help with the whole mercy and grace thing…and I need You today more than any other day.

Amen