Head Games

*Language Warning*

So tonight a woman in a breast cancer facebook group I belong to asked about blurry eyes on a certain medication…well who knew it would lead to this latest #CancerEpiphany

I started wearing contacts about six years ago. I loved finally being free of the glasses that had shadowed my face since I was ten years old. It was a new life!

Near the end of chemo, I found my contacts to be more and more bothersome. It got to the point where I could not even keep them in for more than a couple hours. I asked my eye doctor about it and he explained that dry eyes are common after chemo and that although not reversible, there are medications that can help.

My last eye exam was August 2015.

After hearing what that doctor said, I never bothered even going for a check up. Why? To get put on yet another medication? To be told that cancer has taken a toll on a completely unrelated organ? To find out I have irreversible damage because I fought like hell to save my life?

The only thing is; I never realized I felt that way until tonight when I was discussing this side effect with my online friend.

…I haven’t gone to the eye doctor since the summer I had radiation (2015). After chemo I had a hell of a time wearing contacts and talked to an eye doctor who is a parent of one of the kids I used to coach and he said dry eye is common after chemo and meds can sometimes help, but it’s not reversible.
I just realized (while writing this response) that I feel betrayed by my eyes…my body…this is all such a mindfuck and I’m tired of it.

Once again my body has proven just how fickle it can be. How did this even happen? Where did the message get messed up? At what point were my cells smacked out of line? Why wasn’t my immune system strong enough to fight it off? Why did it grow so big? Why did I do such aggressive treatment if it was going to leave me so broken in other ways?

I know, I know…it’s not that bad.

I beat cancer. I kicked the hell out of stage III breast cancer. I OWNED IT.

So why does it still own me?

Why was I so angry yesterday because the local Junior A hockey team was having a Cancer Awareness night? Here’s the conversation I had with my friend:

Me: I’m just fucking mad tonight…that hasn’t happened in a long time when I think about cancer…tonight I hate everything it took from me.

Her: There’s a lot it took from you, so if you need to be mad about it, be mad.

M: Oh trust me, I’m mad

Her: I believe you.
Anything specific trigger that or is it just where you are tonight?

M: I think just so much hockey…and how much hockey was involved in my fight and how much cancer is the focus of hockey tonight.
Hockey was my safe place.
I’m praying to make this about hockey support and not cancer.

And then my baby boy saved the day…he scored his first goal of the season last night. His team won their game 15-4. He started the season as a defenseman and has recently been moved to wing. Yesterday, he played wing, defense, and then (for the final period) in net. What a talented little man he is. Now if only I can get him to open hockey so he can pick up some speed…LOL

So that’s my #LifeAfterCancer story for tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll call and make an appointment with my eye doctor…I promise.

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Vehicle Update

Yay me…granted another opportunity to allow God to show up and show off.

To replace the blower motor (remember, a $70 part) is over six hours of labor! SIX HOURS. To replace the blower motor the entire dash needs to be pulled off. Who thinks this crap up? What engineer sat there thinking, ya…I think a great place to put a part that is likely to need replacement when the vehicle is worth next to nothing is in a place that is going to cost more than the vehicle is worth.

Ya, apparently the design engineer was not a single mom.

So, when I’m on the highway the air flows enough to keep the windows clear. In town I’m not so lucky. Thankfully most of my trips are quit.

In the mornings, I’m blessed to have a garage that keeps the window from fogging overnight…or I’d be considerably more screwed.

So, I’m gonna pray. I’m going to ask you to pray. Either for a miracle cure for my current blower motor or a viable vehicle option to come my way.

Lord,

My trust in You has stands firm. I am so very excited to see how You show up this time.

Father, I ask for your loving hand to reach the family I am serving through volunteering at the elementary school. May they see Your love and comfort through this transitional period they are facing. Give me the guidance to be of assistance to this child. Fill him with a love and comfort only You can.

Bless this family as we have been blessed.

Amen

 

Dangerous Whispers

I’ve been pretty transparent about my financial situation and all that entails. I’ve shared our struggles, our triumphs, our goals, and our dreams. As I work on getting on track with our new budget, the enemy continues to whisper how terrible I am as a Christian, a woman, a child, a sibling, and a mother.

It’s that last one that it takes less than a whisper to take me out at the knees and I’d like to share how that manifests in my world right now.

I’ve been working super hard at balancing our budget and building our baby emergency fund of $500. I’m on track to have that complete ahead of schedule. We have scrimped, saved, sacrificed, and prayed.

Then the blower motor on my vehicle decides to finally quit. It’s been thinking about quitting for over a year…and I’ve been hoping it would last just long enough to get through the winter. Not having heat or a defrost function in northern Minnesota through the winter when you are carting your children everywhere is just not an option.

My vehicle has over 235,000 miles on it. My brain tells me that putting a $70 blower motor into a vehicle that may not last another six months is throwing good money after bad. My brain tells me I need to be saving for our next vehicle, not kicking a dead horse.

  • What kind of mother drives her kids around with the only heat in a vehicle being from whatever air is moved by driving.
  • What kind of person can’t afford $70 but can afford to have her kids in hockey and bowling and archery?
  • What kind of mom would miss her son’s first away tournament because she doesn’t have a reliable vehicle or the funds to make the trip?
  • If I wouldn’t have taken the trip to Minneapolis for Christmas, this wouldn’t be happening right now…I didn’t deserve that trip.

Those are the whispers surrounding JUST the $70 blower motor. Satan is an evil dangerous son of a bitch. He will take the smallest amount of normal mom-guilt and exploit it beyond all reason.

Sunday night was a difficult night in our home. One of the boys did something I probably did a thousand times as a kid; he ate some leftovers that I had plans for.

I lost my shit.

He stopped me, mid rant, and with tears streaming down his face said, “Mom, I want you to calm down. Remember when we were in the cities and you said that you hate to be upset because you look weak? Look at me, I’m upset and I’m showing it and I’m not weak.”

My son is no longer a child.

Everything he has been through, everything he knows about his Mama…he’s become a young man.

I told him I feel like a horrible mom when I can’t provide them everything I feel like they deserve. That I hate everything they have endured (divorce, cancer, poverty) and it kills me that they have to live in this cycle of poverty when they deserve everything in God’s Kingdom for how amazing and faithful they have been through it all.

~~~~

All those dangerous whispers from the enemy in my head…yet I can still know that all of this has got us to the point where my son gets it. My kid understands emotions and negotiation and love.

My kids get it…not in spite of where we are…they understand life BECAUSE of where we are. How can I even hate where we are when I see how it has manifested in the emotional growth and maturity of my boys?

I have one who sees through hurt, another who challenges every perceived fact.

These struggles are in my brain…and I need to drown out those whispers.

The type of mom who does those things whispers above…is a mom who is trying. Over and over again. A mom who never gives up, even for one minute. A mom who has been through more in six years than some moms go through in their children’s entire youth.

That mom shows a resiliency and faith that is rarely seen publicly in today’s society. She shows a transparency that brings people around her to hold her up when she’s taken out at the knees.

She shows a strength that moms who’ve never struggled are in awe over. Her drive are what draws people to God. Her faithful trust in the Lord are beyond understanding and inspiring to those with struggles they feel are insurmountable.

~~~

I need to remember that mom, that woman…IS ME. I’m the resilient one, the faithful one, the leader, the driven.

I have been given these blessings to raise men. Every struggle has been a blessing.

Lord,

These late night silent times when I can’t sleep are a welcome challenge. Being able to see both sides of the coin is a gift more priceless than imaginable.
These challenges laid in front of me, I bring to You. I come to You as I want my children to come to me. If I, as a broken human in a sinful world, wish for my children to come to my embrace; how much more do You long for me to find comfort in Your arms…that’s where You blow my mind every day Father.
I am grateful for the opportunity to raise these boys through this adversity with a faith not commonly seen publicly in today’s world.
Give me rest and give me strength to continue to be raw and real to bring Your light into my home, my work place, my social circle, my everyday life.
Continue to grant me these silent nights to hear Your love over the whispers of the enemy that drown out my daylight hours.

Amen

One Of Those Days

Today is turning into one of those days where staying in bed just sounds like the right thing to do.

I cannot go watch my older son bowl as a parent is scheduled for concession shifts during the younger one’s hockey game today and they are at the same time. I asked the ex if he’d be there to cover the shift (as it is his parenting time with the kids). He’s going to watch the other boy bowl.

Due to hockey, I have not have much opportunity to watch him bowl and was really hoping to get to this weekend…and I’m sad about it.

And I’m sad I had to go to the doctor yesterday to get checked out for something that a regular person would not even take a second glance at.

I’m sad that my timing and God’s timing as far as still being single are concerned.

I know, I know…it’s all part of His good plan, all of it.

I can still show battle fatigue.

I had an offer for a date recently and although I know the guy is not the one for me, I’m going to go for dinner with him. He knows what I’ve been through, he knows my story and a dinner isn’t going to lead to anything more than dinner. He’s comfortable to be around and after I told him I’m not interested in dating, he still offered dinner just to visit.

I won’t lie, I’m lonely for companionship.

Not all the time…but today I am.

When I’m at hockey, I fit in like a glove…I love those parents and kids. And then we all go our separate ways.

Ugh…pity party of full blast today. Hope it passes soon.

Lord,

I know you hate to see Your children hurting. I also know that this isn’t for nothing. I trust You and Your timing. I just need to find that piece of patience I seem to be missing.
Give me the peace to move through each day with my confidence in only You.

Amen

Financial

Well…back to the real world now; where things aren’t always easy and time keeps marching on anyway. I’ve already posted my physical goals and what work will look like in 2018. I’ve talked about finances some, but need to make some concrete goals to reach.

I will list each goal and when I want to complete it by. I will have little (seemingly easy to attain) goals and a couple that are way out there…as we all know that it is not us that controls how things go!

February 15: $500 baby Emergency fund
March 30: Pay off parenting time expeditor ($267.55)
June 30: $1000 Emergency Fund
December 31: $5000 emergency fund.

Considering $5000 is more than one third of what I brought home all of 2017 (including child support) that’s a HUGE number. I also know that God wants me to succeed, He wants my boys to have security even more than I do.

Yesterday, after listening to lesson two in Financial Peace University and hearing how kids the ages of my boys should start to take some responsibility with finances so they can begin to see how it really works.

It talks about giving them a commission instead of an allowance; meaning it is tied to whatever their job is.

This was easy for me.

For my younger son, who loves hockey and hates practice; his job from now on will be to not complain about attending hockey practice. Each day he goes willingly, he earns $1.00. When I explained this to him, he said goalie practice should be $2.00. Goalie practice is very difficult for him as this is his first year playing in net and he does not do well emotionally when he is not the best at something the first minute he tries it. I agreed, $2.00 for goalie practice. He will also get a $0.50 bonus for any day he goes to open hockey. His skating needs to improve, and only being on the ice will do that.

For my older son, his job is getting all his school work in on time and taking responsibility to show me the online report every day (no report, no money). He will earn $1.00 for every day that he has no missing assignments and nothing the other days that he either forgets to show me or has stuff missing. His available bonus will be $2.00 any day he goes without playing any games on the xbox.

I’m also considering adding bonuses for doing chores without arguments or reminders. I don’t usually get many arguments, but I have to remind them constantly. If I tie their responsibility to their income, that might change their tune a little bit.

My older son is ready to open a checking account and I’m excited for him. I believe he will be the saver of the two…but that little one might surprise me.

I told them that pay day will be every other Sunday. I’ll have to make a calendar to track their earnings between pay periods…their own time cards I guess you could call it.

For this money, it will come out of the money I make babysitting. I babysit two boys in the mornings before school (they take the bus from my house) and I get paid $25/week. Earnings from the last two weeks have gone straight into the $500 emergency fund.

So what will they do with their money…they will give, save, spend. They will be expected to give a portion (and I will give guidance towards tithing, but allow it to come from their hearts so they become grateful givers). As the older one will be opening up a checking account, he will have the opportunity to save money there. They younger one, I’ll likely employ the envelope system with him (give, save, spend envelopes).

For the remainder of this school year, I’m not sure that I will expect them to pay for any of their needs. From this point forward (after their first payday) they will have to spend their own money on any concessions at the arena or bowling alley. This is where the little one will go broke. I’ll add skate sharpening, and things of that nature. For now, I just want them to get used to taking responsibility to having a little bit of money.

We will have a saving discussion about maybe a waterpark day or trampoline park…something to that effect. I want to give them small attainable goals at first…so when they start thinking Disney World…they know it’s going to take some time and effort.

I’m guessing I won’t have to pay out more than $30 every two weeks so will use the leftover babysitting money to build up the payday fund. I’m so excited for these kids and their futures.

First PAYDAY will be January 28.

Dear Father in Heaven

I know how much You love your children, when I think about how much I love mine, it blows my mind that You love us even more than that…so much more.
Thank You for this opportunity to lead by example to teach these boys about finances and money management.
Help me to show grace when they need it most and to teach them to come to You when they are frustrated with the discipline of money management.
Lord, give my boys the heart of grateful givers as they have seen how amazing those gifts have been in our lives.
Continue to use me as a light in the world…

Amen

It’s A Start

Sunday

Our church is offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I’ve done the course on my own before, when I was married and am quite familiar with the fundamentals. When I was offered a scholarship to attend the class, I jumped on it as knowing our financial situation is (again) in transition, this is the perfect time to dig our heels in and get on our feet for once and for all.

Last Sunday was the first class. Today I received my membership kit. I’m a total budget nerd and so thankful to be able to go through an actual class.

Today, I sat my boys down and discussed budgeting and going through what are referred to as The 7 Baby Steps.

  1. Save up for a baby emergency fund ($500 based on my income…it’s usually $1000)
  2. Pay off all debt (except the mortgage) with the debt snowball.
  3. Put 3 – 6 months of expenses in savings (your fully funded emergency fund).
  4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRA’s and pretax retirement plans.
  5. Save for your children’s college education in tax favored plans.
  6. Pay off the mortgage early.
  7. Build wealth and give!

So we talked about how following these steps will open the doors to awesome things. How we will be able to save for things and not have to worry paying for things we want.

The boys seem to be on board to knock these steps out with enthusiasm. We have a pop bottle filled with coins and an orange juice bottle about a third full. My oldest boy immediately suggested using it to fund Step One.

My only debt is the parenting time expeditor (owing $267.55) and student loan.

We could be on Baby Step Three before the end of this class.

Then Baby Step Four just takes care of itself, all I have to do is sign the papers. Going to have to learn more about Baby Step Five…the college fund one. I’m not sure how much is supposed to go into that one. Will be so much fun to financially invest in their future.

Monday

We all went to the bank and cashed in our coins, we had $192.82 between those bottles and our dollar jar. We are well on our way to financial peace!

As I know I have a grant from trails to treatment coming, I decided to use this cash to finish funding all my envelopes.

  1. Gas/Maint: $175
  2. Medical/Dental: $16
  3. Utilities: $80
  4. Sports: $50
  5. Personal: $80

This way I am not trying to track debit card usage from my child support account, and trying to be able to put most of the child support towards Baby Step One. I am pretty sure that by the end of January we will be fairly close to finishing up Baby Step One.

Baby Step Two should be a cake walk, I owe just the parenting time expeditor under $300.

I know Baby Step Three will be a little more difficult and that is where I will be challenged. This is where the discipline part is going to be tough and rewarding at the same time.

Looking at saving up to $8000 seems insurmountable at this point in time. I think the boys and I will have to make some sort of visual chart to mark off how far we are getting. Even at $400/month (which is way out of our reach at this point in time) we’re looking at almost two years. Wow, that is a long time.

For right now, I need to focus on where we are, not where we are going. When I was sick, I focused only on the task at hand; getting to the next appointment, the next day, the next hour. For our current challenge, I will have to focus on the next paycheck, the next tax return, the next reward.

I’m not sure if Dave Ramsey allows for smaller goals with small rewards (a nice meal out, a getaway for the weekend, or other small rewards for meeting milestones) but think if the boys and I work in $1000 increments, it may be easier to stay on track.

We can make a chart that we fill in as we go (like a fundraising campaign thermometer) and make that a visual in our home. Knowing we have a common goal will make it much easier to understand the no’s and their implications.

Lord, 

As we learn to use Your money in a new way, help us to remain focussed and to come to You with our concerns and frustrations. I know discipline is difficult, and I also know the rewards of consistency are so worth the battle. 

As the boys learn to use money as the tool it is meant to be, help me to mentor and lead them. 

Father, I ask for help getting through these baby steps. Financial help, emotional help. While my heart keeps shouting, “The faster we get through this, the sooner we are done!” My brain knows that it is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve done a marathon God…it was hard…and so worth it. 

Help me to keep my eye on the end goal, to be able to live and give like no-one else. Shut out the sounds of the evil one’s claims that money equals dignity. 

My trust is in You alone. 

Amen

 

Awe Man

Well, what was a beautiful tribute to my dear cousin was used by certain family members to put a target on my head for their hurt, anger, and guilt.

It is so unbelievably heartbreaking.

 

I have spent two days trying to write my feelings out…and they just aren’t ready to be heard yet.

My feelings are so raw, my pain so real.

I know that I don’t want to miss this time…I don’t want this pain dulled by time. I want to share what is in my heart. My brain must still be in survival mode though, because it is having NONE of it.

Hurt people hurt people. The sick keep getting sicker. Silence and secrets kill.

I love you.