So I Asked

So many times I see moms and dads missing out on their young children’s lives by working crazy hours, doing jobs they hate to pay for bigger houses, bigger cars, vacations their toddlers won’t remember, among other things.

I struggle financially; I have since my husband decided that marriage was no longer an option for him.

But not just for him; he decided that for me and for my three children. The boys were very young, my daughter in high school struggling with mental health issues that continue to be present into adulthood.

When I got married and we had the boys, the plan was for me to stay home with them. That was the decision…we both had a say in it. We both wanted me to stay home and be present and be able to volunteer at the school and make sure there was always a parent around.

Of course I went to work full time after the divorce, and continued to work (often multiple jobs) throughout the separation and prior to cancer.

One of the things I have learned though is that working my butt off for things that don’t matter is much less important than being present for my kids.

After a comment made on my last blog entry, I took some time to really look at life. What do I truly think about being in this constant state of financial struggle? What am I willing to change? I wanted to share that here.

Being in a state of struggle is definitely a choice. It was not, is not and will never be an easy choice to make. I could very well work a 40 hour per week job where I make more than enough money.

But why?

If I worked that hard just for money, my children would not have a mother. I would come home from work at the end of the day and I would crash…how fair is that to them? They’ve already lost their family unit; should they be exposed to an overworked, exhausted mother as well?

In my opinion, no.

I barely scrape by, and I know it is a prevalent subject here; my intent with this blog is to share real life…raw and unfiltered. Poverty is a part of that life.

When I am true to myself, I am at my most happy. When I made the decision to follow God’s calling and be present for my children, it was not an easy decision to make.

I knew there would be struggles, I knew there would be backlash, I knew I would be judged. Let’s be honest, I’d be judged no matter what choice I made…so making the choice that I could live with and hold my head high through was the most important to me.

So I asked God.

Where do I belong?

What is my job?

What is my purpose?

Where do I go from here?

As we crawl back from the brink, my priorities have changed. There had been a slight shift through the divorce process; cancer merely solidified my resolve.

I trust God with my whole mind, body, soul. I listen for His direction when it comes to parenting decisions, employment choices, volunteering, finances…everything.

Rarely is living for Christ nothing but Skittles and rainbows. Truly, it’s tough.

And it’s worth it.

All I ever asked for when I was sick was to spend more time with my children. I am getting those days now. I would do it all again for the relationships we have built with each other and those few people we let into our small circle.

It would not only be a slap to the face of God, but to my kids to put them through the fight that was cancer only to work myself to death and have no relationship with them.

The sacrifices I make: Not being able to take trips home even though I want (need) them, asking others to help with purchasing school supplies and shoes when it’s just not in the budget.┬áThat’s what the church is for, to help each other live their life according to God’s calling.

I don’t expect handouts, I’m actually a very hard worker. I just know that all of this is God’s plan for me.┬áTo teach people how to prioritize and how to be present for real life instead of laying on their death bed wishing they had been more present.

If people feel called to help with new shoes, school supplies, sports fees, and other things so that I can live the life I’m led to; I am humbled. I am always blown away by the people who surround us and want great things for us. God is showing them that they are part of those great things.

If we never experienced bad, how would we know what was good?

These trials, the adversity, the poverty…they are teaching my children lessons in faith and love. They will never question if they were important to me. They will never wonder if they were good enough.

God calls me to be present for my children, and this is what it looks like for us.

Lord,

As people are given access to my innermost thoughts and details of our situation, may You help them see Your great works at hand. Show them Your faithful and steadfast love.
I ask for help in staying the course. Patience, perseverance, and a positive attitude even on the days when I cannot make any sense of things.

Amen

Advertisements

I Used To

As I continue to build my life after cancer, adding bits and pieces as I have time and energy I feel like I am severely lacking in the serving other people department. As a woman of God, I know my place is to serve others, and I truly have a servant heart.

I find myself easily frustrated with people though. I have a lack of compassion for those who will not help themselves…and I feel awful for it. I used to be a great friend. Now, I feel so drained by people.

I’ve been trying to find my place to serve others and nothing feels right anymore.

I used to make meals for the youth group at church. I can’t afford to do that anymore as the group has grown and my income has decreased. Making supper for 70 is no small contribution.

I used to teach Sunday School but no longer feel led in that direction.

I used to help with Celebrate Recovery…and now when I go I struggle to listen to people having the same problem week after week and not moving forward.

At one time I was a regular host on Sunday mornings, making coffee and chatting with people. Now I’m not interested in interacting with that many people at one time.

I guess I’m just coming to terms with the fact that cancer changed me.

I’m not the person I was four years ago, and finding me is challenging. I keep trying to be the person I was; and she’s not there. I am hard on myself for not doing things I used to do; yet I just don’t feel called to do them anymore.

People keep telling me I should be a part of the Youth Group team. I’m too hard hearted for that. I’m not sure female teenage drama is a place I wanna go.

I just want to be that little butterfly…everywhere and nowhere. Filling in the gaps, the gopher (gopher this, gopher that).

Why can’t I just be a personal assistant on-call? There’s enough people who need those services. I know I would have a difficult time charging for those services though because those needs, for the most part, should be filled when we all act as The Church.

I just don’t hear God calling me anywhere right now. I’ve been listening, asking…nothing.

So for now I Mom, I skate, I work, I friend.

It just doesn’t feel anything like it used to.

~D

Father,

As my earthly dad had chores for me, I know You have expectations and chores here on this earth for me as well. I am struggling with hearing them, seeing the opportunities.
Open my eyes, father, help me to see where you want to see me pouring into.

Amen

Where Does The Time Go

Two years ago today I walked out of the infusion center after my final chemotherapy infusion.

Two.Years.Ago.

In two years, I’ve dated twice, moved once, and quit my job. My boys have switched schools, we’ve been on the verge of financial crisis more months than not, and we’re still kicking.

We’ve relaxed…a lot. I’ve skated over 500 miles. I’ve completed an inline marathon.

Two years ago today I celebrated…today I celebrated. I will never stop celebrating this day!

MIA

I realize it’s been a while since I last posted, and much has been happening, I just haven’t taken the time.

I’ve been missing my family terribly lately. I think I was home in October the last time. I usually get up there four or five times a year. We are a third of the way through the year, and I haven’t seen them.

My younger brother is obviously missing me as well, he’s been Skyping on a regular basis lately. Every couple days we get to talk and catch up.

I talked with my mom briefly the other day. She needed my cancer stats. She’s applying for a breast cancer charity snowmobile ride, and with the application they have to send in an essay about why they should be chosen. She went on the same ride 11 years ago…long before cancer walked into our lives. I have no idea what she used for a story that time but she was picked from hundreds of applicants. I believe she raised $15,000 that year.

Her story is even better this time with her daughter 600+ miles away in a different country diagnosed on the same day she was elected as a city councillor. Talk about a whirlwind!

I often wonder how difficult it was for her to be so far away. She and my dad own a business, it’s their only source of income. It’s not like she could just up and leave and come down here for a year. My medical care here in the USA was far superior to anything I would have received at home so that wasn’t an option…not to mention being that far away from the boys while sick would have been enough to kill me if the cancer didn’t.

There were lessons in all of it, for so many people. Those lessons are still being taught and learned as we come back from the brink.

My life, as out loud and awesome as it is; still has quiet times when I reflect on all I’ve been through and how thankful I am for every mile of this road I’ve traveled.

As summer approaches and I look forward to new opportunities and making memories with the kids and grandkids, I pray that you also find peace where you are.

Father,
Thank You for the outlet of this writing medium. I am humbled that people continue to want to read my story and are uplifted by it. The glory is all to You.
Give me the continued peace and hope of opportunities to continue to share Your word and promises.
Amen

 

This Trial

After cancer there are physical trials that rival training for the olympics. Your body has been poisoned, cut, amputated, burned, and cut some more and sent into an unnatural menopause. I am so thankful for each of these things, without them I would not be here today.

What I struggle with is that not only did my body go through those things, it went through them at a time when natural aging begins to take its own toll on your joints and body systems. In effect, I was dealt a double whammy. Trying to get into better shape for my first inline marathon of the year has been a task that is taking it’s own strike at my confidence and resolve.

We all know I have knee pain. Some of you even know I have had two cortisone shots in one knee over the last year. According to doctors, there is some normal degeneration (arthritis) yet not enough to warrant a knee replacement.

Although I hate to agree with them, I have many non-painful hours in my day. My knee kills me on stairs, and while skating.

Knowing I’m stuck with it, I’m taking a step to lose some weight. My goal is 20 lbs. I don’t know how much of a difference 20 lbs will make, I just pray it causes some relief so I can focus on training.

So this last five days I have been tracking my food intake. This is ridiculous! I was so unaware at just how unhealthy my eating habits have become. I mean, I knew they weren’t great…but this is silly.

I’m using an app that gives you a budget of calories to work within (plus takes into account physical activity) and gives tips and encouragement along the way. It’s a two week free trial, I can afford that.

The first epiphany was, “HOLY CRAP STOP EATING!” I’m a grazer…if I walk by food, I’ll eat it. I’ve come to realize that I don’t even know when I am actually hungry or just bored; and that’s a tough one to overcome.

I’ve also realized I suck at keeping healthy food in my house. I’ve been working on keeping within my calorie budget each day while using up the food I have on hand. I will definitely be changing my shopping habits from this moment on!

It’s been very difficult to not mindlessly snack. Like CRAZY HARD. Every time I think about eating and I’m not actually hungry, I choose to have a huge glass of water with a squirt of flavor (I hate our tap water here and need that taste). I think it’s helping…but the mind game is absolutely brutal.

One thing I am glad for is that I do not own a scale at my house. I haven’t had one since the divorce, just wasn’t a thing I needed in my home as I never worried about my weight. I’m still not worried, I just want to have to move less of me 1000 miles on my skates this summer!

Anyway…

So I’ve been at this for almost a week and I have no idea if it’s helping at all. Part of me is okay with that, knowing that just making better food choices is best for me no matter what the scale says. Then there’s the other part of me, and that part is loud, “HEY…I’m WORKING HERE…CAN WE AT LEAST SEE IF IT’S WORTH IT??”

Well, as the patient, quiet me knows, regardless of what the scale says, it is worth it. That noisy, impatient me…I’m shutting her up with coffee this morning.

I have those cartoon angel/devil on my shoulders; and they both have my attitude!

~~

See, that’s the thing so many people never take into consideration when it comes to change. It could be the best thing in the whole world…and still it causes stress, trepidation, insecurity.

I know that nothing bad can come of losing 20 pounds.

  • It will lower my Body Mass Index by 4 points.
  • It will decrease the work load of my heart which is already at risk for long term issues thanks to chemo and radiation.
  • It will be less stress on my joints
  • It will mean carrying 20 less pounds through three marathons.

Getting there though takes time, determination, and grit. Remembering my goals, keeping to them, and adjusting as I go so I don’t induce failure.

I’m great at self-sabotage. I have a book I’ve been writing for ten years…several of them actually. It’s not that I don’t have time to write, I just haven’t found enough of a reason to finish even one.

If I want to keep skating though, I need to lose this weight. I need to be kind to my body if I want the opportunity to continue skating for many years to come. Realistically, I will eventually need a replacement (likely both of them).

I share this struggle here because it’s not all rainbows and skittles. The inner battle rages on even when I am in a peaceful place.

Father,
I ask for grace, for courage, for encouragement as I wage this battle against an unhealthy lifestyle.
Fill my heart as I find better ways to fill my body.
Bring peace to those who are on this same road.
Amen

 

This Grief

I am shaken by the Humbolt Bronco’s Jr Hockey team bus tragedy in Saskatchewan.

Hockey is family in Canada…these kids are our kids.

I have not shed any tears though…my brain is in solid protection mode and I’m okay with that right now. I’m processing in little bits and pieces; slowly unraveling the veil.

Tomorrow, I will wear green in honor not only of the 15 lost lives, but the other 14 on the bus who survived the crash, their families, friends, billet families, past teammates, coaches, little kids who have stood on the glass begging for a stick after the game…thousands of people directly impacted by this loss.

At a very young age, it is common to send your child on the bus to away games. In high school, instead of high school hockey, our kids go to Midget level hockey where they can and do play hockey somewhere other than their home city. These kids are billeted with families who take them in as their own. By Junior hockey (after Midgets) being part of a billet family for these kids is second nature.

We have a Junior A team in the town where I live; it is in its’ sophomore season. They are in the playoffs right now and the city is finally getting into junior hockey.

These are good kids. You don’t get to play Jr A hockey if you’re a crappy human being. Sure, they aren’t all angels…none of them…but they are team players, they are great athletes, and they love the game.

The head coach, one of the assistant coaches, the statistician, the play-by-play announcer, and 11 players…dead. Gone.

Sons, brothers, husbands…it’s unimaginable.

And yet, in a few years, I will send out my youngest…on a bus with his team…and I will do so with the knowledge that sometimes bad things do happen.

I also know that I cannot live my life or shape his based on my fears. If, by the grace of God, my son is good enough for Junior A hockey…who am I to stop him? Who am I to trample his dreams? If I’m not going to let him ride this hockey train to the end of the line, I might as well push him off it now.

“We’re done when it’s not fun anymore.” That’s what I told him last year during tryouts and he was struggling. Although I encourage him to continue pushing through the hard practices, and to follow through on his commitments, at 10 years old it should still just be about being on a team, learning, and having fun. Sure, we like to win; but that is so far down the list of important things that it hardly matters.

Coaches want to not just develop amazing hockey players, they want to encourage boys to do the right thing, to learn empathy, to push themselves, to build up their teammates. To win as a team, to lose as a team.

Today everybody is part of this team, and we all lost.

Father,

Comfort those who mourn, the millions on people who are feeling this loss as a community. Allow this unity to bring out the best in people, to highlight the good deeds.
I ask for wisdom for the doctors who are caring for the surviving players, for endurance for the boys who are hurt to overcome whatever obstacles they face in their recovery.
Lord, I have no words…none…I have no words.

Amen

Showing Love

Ask anybody who has known me for more than ten seconds, and they will tell you the reason I have children is so I have an excuse to take naps and people to clean my house. None of them nap anymore; but that hasn’t stopped me.

On Wednesday I did something that was very much out of character for me. While the boys were at school, not only did I not take a nap, I completed their chore lists. All of them.

They really don’t have large lists; their true jobs are to complete all their school work to the best of their ability, work hard at their chosen activities, and help out around the house when asked.

When we started budgeting, they each were given a pay slip to fill out every two weeks that would determine their earnings. Simple things they were already doing like the litter, and taking a Clorox wipe to their toilet. One boy had hockey practice as part of his earnings, the other had no Xbox as an incentive to earn some spending cash.

The older one recently took up archery. I bought his first five arrows and told him he is responsible for any more. The younger one next year has to start paying for his own skate sharpening. This year he’s been responsible for his own concessions when at the rink.

My boys are amazing young men. I love to watch them become true gentlemen. The older one is showing such maturity (for his age) and his emotional growth this last year has been as significant as his physical growth (can you say no pants that fit anymore).

When I completed their chores the other day I didn’t make a big deal of it; I just informed them that as a show of my appreciation, that was my gift to them. They were both very thankful and more than a little shocked.

It was a small reward, it cost me nothing (except my nap time) and it showed them that we truly are a team.

Last night, the little one had hockey and while we were there, the older one took the garbage out (and remembered to replace the bag), he folded all his laundry and sorted mine and his brother’s into separate baskets, he showered…this kid’s awesomeness brings me to tears.

Anytime I can encourage this type of behavior, I’m all in; even if it means missing nap time!

Lord,

Thank You for reminding me that all the hardships we have faced have shaped the boys in so many great ways. To be able to see such growth after all they have been through and missed out on reminds me that we are exactly where we belong.
Guide me in ways to encourage continued growth and show my appreciation in ways that keep their buckets full.

Amen