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

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It Is Time

The decision to take action is never an easy one when it comes to family situations. I have allowed a family member of my ex-husband to belittle me and vilify me in front of my children long enough with no results when he has taken actions to stop it.

I trust that he has tried to address the situation with the family member on several occasions. This person just has no filter when it comes to their hate for me. Unfortunately they cannot understand that the hate that spews in my direction only goes straight through the boys first. As much as this person would like for it to be not true; they are 50% my children.

Hating their mother is hating a piece of them. A huge part of them. I think that is part of the issue, when people see them and hear them, it is hard to not see and hear me.

Last night I lost my ever-lovin’-mind when I heard what I heard. I called my ex-husband and screamed at him for a good five minutes. I screamed at my boys…

Ya, that’s going to help…not.

As I calmed down I told them I was hurt by those words and that they should never have to have my back when they are with their dad. They should be kids. They know this person is wrong, they know it’s inappropriate for them to be bombarded with the hate aimed at me.

They also know they are just kids.

And she is their grandmother.

I have prayed for so long for this woman. I have prayed for my own heart to soften towards her whenever I feel the hate rise. If she died tomorrow, I would be sad for my boys…and so happy that she is out of their lives.

That is how much hurt lies between us.

I have killed her with kindness at every turn. She cannot even look me in the eye. If she sees the boys and I out and about, she will do her best to not be seen. If they happen to see her before she can slip away; she cannot even greet me.

How much self loathing must she have to be so filled with such vileness. Can she not make eye contact because she is scared of what she will see? Will she catch a glimpse of the compassion I have for her? Will she see that I don’t truly hate her; that her opinion of me doesn’t matter? Will she catch a glimpse of the boys so in love with their mom that it is palpable wherever we go? What does she get out of hating so furiously?

I don’t know…I just know that when her arrows are shot at me, they hurt and I lash out. I feel the need to defend myself…fight or flight. My brain knows this solves nothing and only adds to the stress my children feel.

So where is the balance?

Today I sent a proposal off to our parenting time expeditor (ordered by the courts as we have 50/50 custody and can rarely agree on anything). I am proposing that all of her time with the boys be supervised.

I made it clear to the boys last night I don’t want to take her out of their life, only put a stop to them being in the middle.

Lord,

I ask for grace for my behaviour last night. It was less than stellar. My passion for these boys and their wellbeing is my priority. Remind me that hurt people, hurt people…and I don’t want to be one of them.
As my ex-husband and the expeditor read over my proposal today, soften their hearts to hear only my true concerns.
Jesus, be with this woman. I know life has not been easy on her and her ways are learned. Help her to be the grandmother my children need and desire in their life.
Help me continue to be gracious and fill me with mercy towards her.
I know Your plan includes lessons from this, help me see past the immediate nature of this and live in Your light.

Amen

Sick, Not Real Sick

I woke up in the middle of the night and called into work. I was fevered, stuffed up and my body was aching. Yay for flu season, right?

Guess who hasn’t bothered to get her flu shot yet?

Anyway, now I’m laying in bed and I was thinking about how nice it will be when the boys get home from school. My older boy is the best caregiver in the world. At his very core is compassion and service. My younger one is a Mama’s boy…he would be the one to bring extra blankets, to fluff my pillows; while his brother would bring soup and care for the younger boy.

Then it hit me…

I don’t want them to see me sick. Even if it’s just a flu or a bad cold. I can picture my older boy’s agony to see his mama sick again. I don’t want that fear to ever enter his brain.

I don’t want the younger one to not be just a little boy, wanting Mom to take care of him in spite of her ailments.

Sure, their compassion is a life lesson that many will never learn. It will serve them well for years to come. I know the adversity they have faced through cancer have been wonderful lessons in faith, love, service, mercy, and grace.

They are always quick with grace when I am not well.

So where does this mom-guilt fit? It’s not like I ASKED for cancer, not like I planned to be sick today when they returned home for the week. I know it is the enemy who is working to break me down.

Screw him.

I’m taking care of me today. I’m just going to be allowed to be sick. I am going to let my boys care for me and allow my expectations to be NIL for myself this evening.

Just this once, I’m looking forward to my baby boy making me his favorite chicken noodle soup, to the older boy to be the man of the house…just this once…

And just this once, I won’t feel guilty. I won’t feel like a bad mom. I won’t beat myself up.

Dearest Father,
I ask for mercy that this illness be taken from my body today. I thank You for being louder than the enemy and that I know I am still worthy of love when I am sick.
Lord, Your love surrounds our home. Please Father, do not let fear enter here when they boys come home and see me so ill. Remind them in the deepest creases of their beings that You have beaten cancer for us and that the flu has nothing on You.
Amen

I Don’t Wanna

I don’t wanna write today that Beth Caldwell passed away last night. I don’t want to write that her husband held her as she died. I don’t want to write that her children were with her as she took her last breath.

But it happened and my heart sank.

I had a feeling yesterday was going to be the day. I even stopped at Katie’s and said I wanted to find out from her…she has been following Beth’s story as well. Really though, I didn’t want to hear it from anybody. I didn’t want to face it.

I think back to something I wrote on my CaringBridge while I was sick…it was about my own mortality. I was writing about the dreams I have for my kids and all I wish for them to know, and be, and accomplish. I wrote that for them to be the people they are meant to be may actually mean I have to not be here and how hard of a reality that was.

That is Beth’s family’s reality. That her death is a part of God’s plan for who her children become. Will they also be advocates for the unheard and unseen? Will they champion her cause…their cause.

As I fell asleep last night, I prayed for The Hubs, The Boy, and The Girl; the nicknames she used on her blog for her family. I prayed for their peace; for God’s grace and mercy to cover them.

And then I cried; for me.

Today, my heart hurts; and I’m just going to let it. I’m going to let it be hurt and heal…it seems to know the routine. Today I am also going to just be held…by God.

This weekend it’s just me and the little one home. Big Brother is going deer hunting with Dad and won’t be home until Sunday evening. I have a feeling it will be a lot of open hockey and chilling. His birthday is in a few weeks and we have to make a plan for that. My “non-viable pregnancy” (when I first got pregnant), my “Inevitable abortion” (at 12 weeks 2 days gestation with I had a partial abruption with ruptured membranes), my preemie…he’s gonna be ten this year.

Lord,

I am so grateful that my baby’s story is a yearly reminder that You perform miracles all around us and people love to hear his story. We love to share it. I am so thankful for all you have provided.
As I get through today and the weekend with Beth’s family on my heart, I ask for comfort for them. I ask that you give them the space, time, and opportunity to feel Your love.
And God, thank you for holding my close and keeping me secure.

Amen

Truth

Of all the things I have ever posted, this may be the most vulnerable I have ever been.

Please know I want no recognition of this awful day. This feels like a war memorial of sorts. A somber occasion.

I posted the following on a breast cancer group I belong to. This is what cancer looks like to me tonight…

So tomorrow (Saturday) is my cancerversary. Three years ago I went to the doctor because I thought I had pulled a muscle being back on the ice after 20 years of not skating…and volunteering to help coach my son’s hockey team. Doctor felt nothing, thought nothing…but offered a mammogram just based on the fact that I had just turned 40 and “we should get a baseline”

As I walked out of the imaging department, the technician informed me that the radiologist was already writing his report and that my doctor would be calling me and, “…I’m not going to lie, it’s not good.”

October has been so full of triggers and PTSD and just trying to survive in one piece already. I feel this swallowing me whole…encompassing my entire being…and it hurts…physically hurts my soul.

My boys are no longer 6 and 9, they are now 9 and 12. I am cancer free. I am healthy.
Tonight though as I crawl into bed…I am not strong enough. I am a crying mess.

THANKFULLY…we are at my parents in Northern Canada…and I am safe here…Oh God it’s killing me…but I’m alive…I LIVED…I MADE IT…why is this swallowing me whole???

Tomorrow I will wake up…with my young son snoring at my side (he shares a bed with me here). I will wear the t-shirt I EARNED finishing the NorthShore Inline Marathon in September…and I will SURVIVE…and I will continue to survive.

I will live my life filled with love, courage, and never ever stop.

Home Sweet Home

The boys and I are back up in Canada at my parents’ home. I cannot ever put in to words just how amazing it is for me to come home. This trip though…even more important.

On Saturday it will be my canserversary. Three years from the date of my diagnosis. As difficult as this October has been, there is truly no place I would rather be than right here, right now.

Three years ago, our world…all of us…had our world turned upside down. On that same day…my mother was elected to city counsel. Maybe turned upside down isn’t correct, it was just shaken up a bit.

I need to be home with my family for this milestone. To allow the day to pass quietly (not noise level quiet, just fan fare quiet).

My niece and nephew are here as well and they are the same ages as the boys.

The first thing my niece and I did when we got back to the house after breakfast was to build a fire out of all grandma’s paper and cardboard garbage. Then I helped my brother do some cleaning and now here I am, with you.

I will be posting live videos throughout the weekend and am already not looking forward to returning to the USA. I need to not think that far ahead yet though. I need to be here and enjoy here. I have no idea how many more trips my vehicle can make. It’s over 600 miles one way and my vehicle has over 230k miles on it. It won’t last forever.

Auntie Awesome is going to make a list of chores for the kids and Uncle Shawn to accomplish today…I’ll supervise…it’s what I’m good at!

Love to all.

Lord,

I am so thankful to be home…home. 20 years and it’s still home and always will be home. Thank you for Your traveling mercies yesterday and the wonderful weather.
Bless our time here with family and give us opportunities to show and be love all weekend long.

When we leave, I ask again for traveling mercies to return home.

Amen

Transition Day

Yesterday we experienced our first difficult transition day of the school year. I am thankful to have had a few weeks reprieve to get into the school year. With any luck, this is a one-time thing.

It was a busy day (as most of ours tend to be). He had hockey almost immediately after school and it was his first time on the ice this season. I was a forgetful Mom and I did not give him a snack after school. He needs a snack on a normal day, never mind going to hockey practice before supper.

While at hockey he felt like he was not good enough, and was confused by some of the new drills. As all kids do, he thought he was the only one struggling.

After practice, he was taking off his skates and one of the coaches asked what grade he was in. When I told him fourth grade, he commented that he’s a big kid. He complimented my son on how well he did out there and I shared that he felt like he did not perform very well.

I could have kissed both coaches, “Aww man, it’s your first time on skates this year. You looked like you were actually trying out there. I guarantee that you worked a lot harder than many of those kids. Those kids who weren’t trying, you improved today way more than they will all year because they don’t think they have to try. Isn’t your mom the coach that says you have to get good before you get fast? Trust me, being fast means nothing at this age.”

I got the obligatory eye roll when he mentioned that his mom might actually know a thing or two on the ice…LOL

But my boy calmed down.

When we came home, his dad was waiting to pick him up…and the attitude returned. I won’t share the entire scenario, just that he ended up not going to his dad’s last night. He stayed home with me.

After some cuddle time watching a movie and eating supper, he sat down and did all his homework with no arguments, had a bedtime snack while we finished the movie and went to bed like a champ.

He thanked me this morning for, “…having my back…” and I assured him that I would…every time.

Lord,

I thank you for giving that young boy a heart of a warrior and the fight of a lion. As he learns himself, help him feel encouraged to fight for justice. Continue to give him the courage to keep speaking out. As he learns how to manage his words and put feelings into action, surround him with an army of love and acceptance.
Continue to give my boy the strength he needs, and me the patience to get through it all.

Amen