Today I am hunkered down. Making preparations for 2018 and just spending time alone. I had a few invites to hang out with friends and their families, and except for one I will likely head to after a while, I needed some alone time after attending two church services this morning.

I have a plan in place, I am listening to God’s calling, and I am at peace.

The New Year has big things in place for us. New job, new opportunities, new life.

Oh God I miss my family today.

Being 600+ miles away is tough during holiday times. While I genuinely appreciate all the social invites, they are not the same as being with my children and my family. Most of the time I’d rather be alone than with people if those people don’t include my children and my family.

I’m not sad about that, I’ve come to realize that is just what works for me. Every other Thanksgiving, every other Christmas or New Years Eve my children are with their father and I’m okay with that.

It’s my time to be with me, and I’m as thankful for those moments as I am the ones I spend with my babies.

In two days my boys will be home and the next day we will be on the road to a three day adventure to Minneapolis. Three nights in a hotel with a pool, pizza in the bed with movies, Virtual Reality Arcade, Mall of America, Science Museum…just time to refresh and relax away from home.

I have scrimped, sacrificed, and saved up for this opportunity. I am thankful to those who have helped along the way.

As you may or may not know, I am a budget nerd. I am so excited for our 2018 budget and have complete faith in God to take a huge leap of faith in the new year.

On January 15 I will be giving notice in the kitchen at the school where I work. Whether or not they want me to work the two full weeks or not, is up to them and I am fine either way. I have three unused personal days I will use up before being finished as well. So although it looks like I have a full month left, there are 20 school days minus 3 personal leave days.

I have made connections at every school in our district to be a substitute para professional. I will also continue to be a cleaner substitute as needed.

I am so excited to be back on the front lines with the kids; in their midst. It will also afford me the flexibility to continue to volunteer for my youngest son’s teacher and for activities at my older son’s school.

The wage as a para sub is higher than my wage in the kitchen, and it is usually a full (7 hour) day as opposed to 4.25. Based on this, with only 3 days of work each week I will have the same income I have now. With the desperate need for para subs in our school system; I’m guessing I will likely work 15+days each month.

Anything over my current average monthly wages I will be setting aside for the first few months in case I have some extended time off. I’m also hoping to not have to work this summer.

I have been asked to be on staff at an area bible camp, and that would be a 5 week gig…it would likely be enough to afford me to take the remainder of the summer off. My goal is to eventually not work at all in the summer months.

I considered going home to Canada to work for the summer for one of the various construction companies; knowing I’d make enough over the summer to full fund a few months in an emergency fund.

Maybe next year. This year I have some serious training to do for three inline marathons and some serious fundraising. God has given me back my health to be put to work. This year work looks like making it big on the inline scene…reaching the podium. Shouting His praise every step of the way.

Lord,

The looks from people who wonder how I can give up my steady income for something that is not even remotely guaranteed makes me giggle. As I explain that I am following You, they don’t understand.

That’s okay.

When they see Your good works through me and my every grateful family, they will know that only You could pull this off. Then, and only then will they understand how faith is so much bigger than any fear. They will see how Your love is unending and limitless.

My eyes are so bright and my heart so free…thank you.

Amen

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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

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.

Validation

Today is October 1.

I knew it was coming.

I chose to try to ignore it.

I made the wrong choice.

You see, as much as I would like October to come and go without any fanfare, it hit me today with a force I cannot deny. I got up and went to church and just standing there with people I know and love was anxiety laden. It was so awful that I could not even attend the second service I always attend.

I came home and crawled into bed with the cats. I needed rest, I needed to hide, I needed to not have to do anymore peopleing. My friend texted, asking if I only attended one service today and I said yup, and I was in bed. She was just checking to make sure I got out at least.

When we discussed what October meant to me the other day she asked what I needed from her or what she could do. I told her to make sure I do not isolate myself too much. When she texted today, I almost was not going to answer because I was afraid I had disappointed her by only going to one church service. She knows I thoroughly enjoy both.

Instead she told me she was happy I had gotten to at least one and to sleep well and that she was praying.

Oh I needed that more than anything. It was so validating. I had no idea how invalidated I feel about all of this until that very moment.

I feel like being full of anxiety just because it is October is stupid, that I should not feel this and I should be able to get over all of it. The truth is, I cannot. In October three years ago my world, which was already crashing down around me in the aftermath of a very long and drawn out divorce process felt like it was ending.

As I have moved through cancer and beyond; I do not think I have ever truly validated myself for all I went through. How could I ever accept it from anybody else.

So while I want to cancel the small group from coming to our house tonight, I know that it is only a six or seven people and we are finished within two hours. Cancelling serves no good purpose.

I am stuck between honoring this process and not allowing it to consume me. I am choosing to keep moving forward. One more stride. Head down and just moving forward. I cannot look ahead to how much further I have to go; I need to focus on the next step in front of me, and not one inch beyond that right now.

It feels like cancer all over again and I need to continually remind myself that it is not. That Dorothy is gone and God won. I need to remind myself that I am safe and I am worthy and I am loved. I.Am.Safe.

I thought I could embrace October and a month of advocating for the right charities and the right reasons to pink…it turns out I just need to survive this year and get beyond this pit of agony, despair, and anxiety.

I need to remember that I trust God in all of this. He got me this far.

What can you do for me? Check in with me, feed me, financial assistance, hug me and tell me I’m gonna be ok and the hard part is over. Encourage me to feel; real feelings, real reactions.

Together, we got this. I’m just the one with the puck on my stick right now and nobody to pass to.

Hockey and Dates

Today I was gifted four tickets to a University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks hockey game. As a huge hockey fan, I cannot even begin to explain my delight at this. I have never been to a college level hockey game. Unfortunately, my boys cannot join me so I am taking friends.

While I was at the grocery store with my youngest son after school today we were joking about me looking for a date. He even asked a friend of ours and our checkout guy if they would be my date. He did not seem to care that our friend is married and the checkout guy has a girlfriend. Too funny.

At one point we were standing by a store employee who was giving out free brownie sundaes and he was still trying to convince me I needed a date, and he would find me one. He even asked the guy at the meat counter…he declined as it is his mother’s birthday tomorrow.

The lady said to him, “Aww, he just is worried about his Mama and wants her to be happy.”

I responded that he worried enough when I was sick, he should never have to worry about his Mama ever again.

Then he caught my eye…

A look of terror and dread and anguish flashed through his whole body. It rocked me to the core.

“Ya, I worried enough, I never want to worry like that again” was his reply as he moved closer and put his head against my arm and looked up at me.

“That’s legit buddy; I’m sorry.” I wrapped my free arm around him as we walked away, his head still leaned against me. What else was I supposed to say, what could I say? We walked like that in silence for a few minutes through the store, eventually easing back into conversation.

For a minute though, I saw it. I saw cancer in my young son’s eyes. I could see it written on his heart. He is nine years old. In a split second, I watched him age a hundred years. I watched him become a man, with a little boy’s broken heart.

Cancer will be a part of who my boys become as young men, as partners, as fathers, as leaders. I am so glad I get to guide them and raise them up!

Lord,

That fear I saw tonight…it was the first time I’ve seen it in a long time. I am so grateful that he had that moment with me, so he could be validated and comforted.
As we move further away from cancer and as I raise these young men up into Godly men; give me the patience, the strength, and the integrity to do it right.

Amen

What To Say

Another warrior discovered her cancer had metastasized to her bones a few weeks ago.  Her doctor ordered a brain MRI and she received the results today that she has three lesions on her brain.

I do not even know what to say. I am sorry sounds like a death sentence. When I think of what I would want to hear, I cannot even imagine.

I think the most logical, honest, heartfelt response for me would be, “Oh Fuck, now what?”

Seriously…because for women who have breast cancer that metastasizes, it means life-long treatment. It means facing the unknown and every fear you have faced since your initial diagnosis has been realized.

One lady said she feels such peace now. She had spent years wondering if and when it would show up again; now she knows and can make a treatment plan and move forward.

I would like to think I would also feel that way; but I am not that strong. Oh, I would look that strong on the outside, of that I am sure. On the inside, and at my Mommy’s house though, I would be a mess. A puddle of mush.

And when it was time to get to work, I would get to work. Maybe I would be like that. I am glad I do not have to find out.

Being healed has brought me a peace I had before I ever heard that ugly word; Cancer. I am different though. I no longer am able to be naive about my mortality. I am no longer willing to let simple symptoms go for more than a couple of weeks.

What if I had gone to the doctor when I first felt pain in my left breast? Would that have changed my treatment plan or outcome? I never want to be that close to death ever again. So from now on, if I have a pain, a twinge, a feeling something is not right, I will get it looked at sooner rather than later.

I may be healed yet I still take medications on a daily basis. My body tried to kill me once, I will do everything in my power, to not let that happen again. As I still have one natural breast left; I am still at risk.

My risk for a new primary cancer in my right breast is pretty slim; I get that. I also get that it was pretty much a fluke of nature (if I believed in such a thing) that I had it in the first place.

So difficult to put yourself in the shoes of somebody receiving such devastating news; I am blessed that I can though. I am thankful I know her well enough to ask what now and have her know she can share the details with me, they will not scare me away and I will not tell her to eat more carrots.

To my stage IV warriors, my friends; this sucks, and I’m coming along for the ride. Hang in there and you do you.

Lord,

I pray for all the metavivors out there, those I know and the ones I don’t. I pray for their medical team to be the best, I pray that the treatment decisions are sound and successful. I ask for relief from any pain or anxiety as they live their new life.
I ask for a miracle, for radical healing as only You can do.
Lord give me strength and courage to continue to grow these friendships and not back away. To not fade.
I praise You for my healing, God. For giving my another shot at life. For allowing me to serve you with grace and wisdom.
Amen

Stepping Out In Faith

As change continues in my life and the life of my children lately I have been called to make one more change and it is not an easy one to make.

As I have shared before, our financial situation is beyond difficult. Besides a reduction in hours throughout the summer there are several unpaid weeks of time off I have no control over. My children and I live in poverty. Not just that we have more month than money, there are often months where the money I earn does not cover even our basic expenses (rent, electricity, car insurance, phone, parenting time expeditor, and gasoline).

I have no debt outside of the parenting time expeditor who is court ordered through my divorce. Thankfully he takes payments and unfortunately the need for him is necessary for any and all co-paretning communications.

As you can see, we do not have lines in our basic budget for items such as clothing, sports, school fees, household needs, vehicle maintenance, vehicle replacement, furniture replacement savings, dining out, internet, or entertainment.

Things most people take for granted…a stop at Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone, running to the store for toilet paper or cleaning supplies, socks, even stopping at the local Farmer’s Market for some amazing strawberries…the little things that most people can find an extra dollar or two around the house for; we do not have that dollar or two. Every penny is strictly accounted for. Every.Penny.

This week, my gas gauge was low and I knew that I had barely enough money to pay my rent and gas was going to have to take a back seat. If we needed to walk, we were just going to have to walk.

Then God said to me, “If you trust Me, fill your gas tank.”

And I’m like Dude…I know how to count, I know exactly how much money I have and I cannot fill my gas tank AND pay the rent.

“I can.”

It cost $41.37 to fill my tank that day.

I do not claim to understand how God does the things He does; I just know He does them with love for me. He loves me so much and His provision is great.

It was after I realized just how big of a step out in faith this was for me that I decided it was time to start Tithing.

Malachi 3: 10 – 12

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (NLT)

The Lord has provided for us through so much, it is only right that I trust Him to provide for us. How can I claim to be so trusting yet keep my tithe to myself? Will He not provide for all my needs?

“Try it! Put me to the test!”

I have never tithed in my life although I have always been called to, it was always something I wanted to do. In my life right now there is no better time to put ME to the test, not God. It is a test of how much I trust in the Lord.

Proverbs 3: 5 – 8

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

I am challenging myself. I am trusting the Lord beyond my understanding.

Starting July 1, 2017 I am committing to giving a Tithe. I had no worries as I dropped that envelope into the plate this morning. I knew God would take care of me and my boys.

Even though filling my gas tank last week made me short to make the rent, I filled my tank. Even though I have been so worried about making sure I have enough money to pay my rent this month; today I tithed.

I am so very excited to see how God uses this newness for His good. I am so excited to trust Him beyond my own understanding.

God is so good and I am so excited to be His child.

Lord,

I have heard Your call and I have done as You instructed. I live for You; to bring people to Your glory. Lord I want people to see You in me, to see Your love, Your promises.
Lord, you called, I answered…and I continue to grow closer to you and to show the world Your greatness.
I thank you for this opportunity to trust you beyond my own understanding and to show others Your Glory through Your good works.

Amen