Faithful

So, there’s this guy…

Haha that sounds so creepy.

OK, so we all know I am still single. While I am interested in being in a committed relationship that leads to marriage; I am not interested in settling for anything less than a solid foundation.

Do I think it will be perfect? I sure hope not. Perfect is boring. Would I like it to be soon? Ya, but I’m willing to wait for the one…and when he shows up…I’m ready.

As far as dating goes, I try my best to focus on Christ. On days when I am lonely, I work on remembering that lonely alone is better than lonely with somebody at my side. This does not mean that if I meet somebody and there is potential that I don’t step up to the plate…as I did this past weekend.

I casually met a man in June at the Single Mom’s Retreat. He was one of the men working security for the weekend. Although our visit was brief (and he really didn’t have a choice but to be nice to me as he was on the job); something about our interaction stuck with me all that weekend. I have prayed for this man consistently since June. Praying that he has peace in every aspect of his life, that he know his identity is in Christ, that God provide for him as He did for Adam…a perfect mate. (Of course, I wasn’t even sure he was single or married, so my prayers included that she also be a woman of God and that they be happy together.)

This last weekend at the Thrive conference, I saw him again. I won’t lie, I was quite excited to attend the conference because he had told me in June he would be working again at this one. Not only was I going to be spending two days with some amazing women…this was my chance to get to know him better.

Like a giddy school girl, when I saw him I gave him a huge hug and told him I was so glad he was there. He remembered me from Single Mom’s and although I wish I had the time to stop right then and there to speak with him; the conference was my priority and worship was starting!

Katie found him on Facebook and his profile says single, all his meme’s that are public are about loving God and living a Godly life…could he be any more perfect? She had told me the last time I was thinking about dating that she wanted me to find a man who loved Jesus more than I did. (I think that conversation actually took place the day I met him for the first time…while her and I were driving to the Single Mom’s retreat in June.)

On Saturday I made my move, I had written him a short note, telling him that I had appreciated our short conversations at the Single Mom’s weekend and was glad to see him again this weekend. I told him that he had been in my prayers since then and if he wanted to stay in contact, here was my phone number…

Wow…did I really do that?

Unfortunately, what could have been the amazing start to an awesome love story ends there.

He did not call, or text.

The funny thing is that it brings me this huge full of love feeling. I now know FOR SURE that there are Godly men out there…and when mine comes along, I know I’m ready.

I am so honored to remain faithful to my future husband; whomever he may be and wherever he is today. My heart is open and it is full!

Lord,

As I walk through this singleness, I am so thankful for being shown that there truly are single men of God out there. It strengthens my resolve to remain pure for the one You have chosen for me. It reminds me that dating for fun is not something I am even remotely interested in. As my heart remains full and open, give me the strength to continue to be vulnerable and allow that love to pour out over everybody in my life so that there is always room for more love.

I know Your plan works any season, regardless of my human understanding; it would be interesting to see how You would work a new relationship into a hockey and bowling season…

I am so blessed to have the friends I have who support even my wildest dreams; and crazy antics like giving a stranger my phone number at a Christian Women’s Conference. Thank You Jesus for giving me these women in my life.

As the Fall season is upon us, and it is getting colder outside, may our hearts remain on fire for You.

Amen

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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

 

Normal

Life is beginning to feel almost normal again. For us, normal is busy, loud, and often disorganized. Normal is running fast and running behind. Normal is lots of love and little money.

It is our normal. It is how the boys and I do life.

It is amazing just how different we can all be yet still have so much in common. My youngest son plays hockey. The prevailing thought in this town (and many others) is that only rich families can afford hockey and when you go to the rink, it sort of looks that way.

Mom and dad both drive new vehicles, the family goes on vacation every year and never misses a college hockey game an hour away. They live in a mini-mansion with 2.3 kids and a Dog named Spike. Junior has the newest gear, a cool bag, and a $200 stick.

And then we walk in. Mom is divorced, drives a minivan with over 230,000 miles on it that sounds like it might die any second with two huge dents from accidents and because she cannot afford collision insurance, neither of them will ever be fixed. We rent, we have used gear that fits and his hockey stick from last year. Two cats, and have not been on a vacation beyond a trip to my parents house since before the divorce proceedings started 6 years ago.

On the ice, they all look the same with helmets and matching jersey’s.

What is normal for our family is only normal for our family. What is normal for each of the other families, is normal for them. It does not make one family better than the other. It does not ensure one child is loved more than the other.

What is normal for us, now may not be normal for you or anybody else. It may not even be normal for us in a year or two.

As we run through life with our hockey gear rolling behind, our iPad in our hand, our phone in our back pocket what you will see, is love. We love each other and we love our life.

I love that I do not drive a new vehicle, I have no financial debt and will do anything and everything to keep it that way. Yes, I would like something that I don’t have to worry about when I drive to see my family and that doesn’t need new tires; I also know that God has provided this long, He’s not going to stop now. When this vehicle is finished, where some people would be panicked, I see another opportunity to trust Him.

As much fun as it would be to take the boys on a week long vacation somewhere totally amazing, the memories we make each and every day are enough for me. I am not going to give up my everyday life (by working two jobs or otherwise) to have a week worth of memories.

I love our life. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love my kids, my family, my friends, and my church family. I love that life is simple for us. I love that we love.

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

I DID IT

Not only did I kick Dorothy to the curb with a relentless barrage of drugs, surgery, radiation, hockey, and good looks…I finished my very first inline skating marathon on Saturday.

I was not the fastest nor do I have the best technique, and there were certainly times when my body was determined I should just get over myself and quit. Thankfully I am not known for always listening to my inner voice; even when it is crying like a four year old who just had their blankie put in the washing machine.

There I was just 1091 days from hearing, “I’m not going to lie, it’s not good” as I walked out of my very first mammogram. Just 88 days after that first time Katie took me skating.  I had no idea how I was going to finish, I just knew that I would.

My official time was 2:52:30. The fastest times of the day were 1:03:xx. Those are professional skaters on the best of the best skates. Here I was, just me…and not quite two hours off the fastest pace.

Around mile marker 23 I began to have an emotional breakdown. I knew I was going to finish, I knew I was almost done, I knew I had conquered breast cancer for once and for all.

I did a few Facebook Live videos during the race…expressing the beauty of the view, the wow of the experience, and my final one before the finish…bawling my eyes out because we did it.

Then I stopped crying…I knew I did not have the energy to waste. I knew I needed to focus on finishing. Katie and I came around that last corner before the finish line, we joined hands, we skated as hard as I could, and we raised them HIGH as we crossed the finish line together.

The names of 50 women (myself included) that belong to a Facebook group who all endured chemo and beyond together donned my shirt along with the names of my sister, my grandfather, and other friends of ours. We had 66 warriors on our shirts…they raced with us; I raced for them.

Every time my body was done, my heart and my brain knew I was stronger than that.

So there I was in skates that are a size and a half too big (they were a great internet find at $10) and I finished strong. That last blast was probably my fastest of the entire day…and it was worth it!

One lesson I learned just before I was diagnosed with cancer was that my body was much stronger than my brain would have me think. I had read the book Lone Survivor  written by Marcus Luttrell about his life as a Navy SEAL and enduring Operation Red Wing which took the lives of 19 service members in 2005.

Throughout a firefight, which took the life of three of his teammates, they kept reminding each other they were “Never Out Of The Fight.”

During Mr. Luttrell’s BUD/S training, he could never understand when trainees would ring out (quit) when they were at the end of an exercise. His thought was that they were not giving themselves a chance to succeed; they were on their way to lunch…and guys were ringing out. They were not even giving themselves a chance to finish.

I wish I could quote the book, but he talks about how breaks such as meal time were an opportunity to get your feet back under you and carry on; quitting at break times was difficult for him to understand.

Little did I know that only a few months later I would be having the same conversations in my head. After the chemo sickness would begin to ravage my body, I would remind myself that all I had to do was get through the next few days and it would start to get better.

When I was counting my breaths…telling myself I was 20 (or sometimes 5) breaths closer to feeling better; I was never out of the fight. When I was too weak to pull my covers over myself when I returned from a trip to the bathroom…I was never quitting.

On the tough days of skate training, one amazingly grueling day I remember counting my strides, forcing myself to do five more after I wanted to quit. Then I was doing ten more or twenty more passed when my body was ready to be done. I remember nothing else about that workout, only that I was counting strides over and over again and each time, I did it. I completed the number I had decided on.

When Mr. Luttrell talked about the men who rang out of BUD/SEAL training, he talked to one of the instructors whom he had seen trying to get one of them to not quit yet…to keep trying. The instructor told him that once guys ring out, even if they can be convinced to try again, they inevitably do not complete the training because quitting is already an option.

Last Saturday as my legs decided they were no longer enjoying all this nonsense, I never once stopped moving my feet…sometimes slower than a toddler walks…but I was still moving forward. I refused to quit. I was never out of the fight.

 

 

Emotions

Our shirts are finished. Team Kiss My Skates is ready for business. We have matching shirts, pants, helmets, and wrist guards. The front of shirts are adorned with 66 names of people who have or have had cancer. Some are in remission or NED (No Evidence of Disease), others are dealing with recurrence, and unfortunately we have lost a few.

Seeing my own name on the shirt along with my grandpa and my baby sister is killing me. I had no idea that seeing us together on this shirt would hit me so hard. It was a pure gut-check moment for me.

There was a brief moment when our shirts almost did not get made. Katie’s was finished and there just was not going to be enough time to get mine done. I told the friend of ours who was doing the shirts that it was ok. He had already gone above and beyond for us and the time he had taken to just get hers done was already more than I could ask for.

I told him it was fine if I did not have a shirt.

After he left, Katie asked if I was really okay with not having a shirt and try as I might; I could not hide my sadness. We started to brainstorm for ways to make me a shirt.

Little did we know, our friend had gone home and printed out a new sheet of vinyl letters for my shirt; saving the day.

When I skate with those names…I cannot even describe the power, the feelings, the drive. I have pushed myself so hard physically. Although I would like to say I have never pushed myself as hard before, it would be a lie. I would like to say this is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. That would also be a lie.

While I was doing chemo, I fought this hard (and harder) every day just to get through the day. I had to will myself to breathe when I did not think I had any strength left in me. I had to will myself to move my legs so I did not develop blood clots. I had to trust God when I was not sure I would make it, that I would wake up from a nap.

That fight makes all this skating look like child’s play. It also reminds me that I can overcome any obstacles. I have already proven to myself just how strong I am.

My biggest task right now is to not expect too much of myself on race day. It is my first marathon, my first time ever on this course. I truly have no idea what I am up against. I have told myself (over and over again) that my goal is just to finish the race. Anything above and beyond that will just be icing on the cake.

I would like to work myself up to eventually skate in one of the advanced waves; just for the fun of it. That may take a couple years, but it would be so worth it. Next year I want to skate more than one marathon.

I was bitten by the inline skating bug…and I like it.

Seeing the reactions of my friends in the chemo group has been so humbling and inspiring. I am skating not only for myself, I am skating for each one of them and they are all skating with me. Just as chemo would have been unbearable without them, I could not finish this marathon without their support. When I cross that finish line with Katie, we will be crossing with 66 warriors. We are each of those warriors, they are with us.

Lord,

As I focus on bringing the glory to You, wrap all these warriors in your loving embrace as they skate with me in heart.

Amen

 

Training

In August I skated 23 times for a total of 185 miles. Not bad considering I was unable to skate for 12 days last month. Those are the days I was in Canada with my friend and then my family. Of course the first morning I was back and ready to get back to skating…it rained.

About a week ago I knew I had to do some practice on hills. There are a few hills along the marathon route although most of them go the right way (a decline) there are a few that are backwards (an incline).

I have figured out that I can pretty much skate forever on a flat surface. I also know that hills nearly kill me. One evening I told Katie I was going to go up a very small incline on a bridge beside the trail we usually skate on. When I got to the top of the bridge I decided that I was going to try a park that has a very steep hill.

And that is when it happened. Mine and Katie’s lives were changed that night.

Every time we skate now we go up and down that hill a few times. It is a crazy steep hill. Steeper than anything we will encounter on the marathon route. It is a great workout. The first couple of times, I could not make it all the way up without stopping and would have to step off into the grass and catch my breath.

I bomb the hill, reaching speeds of 20 mph then trudge back up with every ounce of muscle and energy I can find. By the time I reach the top, my heart rate is in the 150’s. I let it recover…and head back down the hill again. Four is my maximum reps at this time.

Last night, we were to meet at the trail at 6:30…but I fell asleep on the couch (being back to work and having a routine is hard). I got there late, skated just over 4 miles before heading to the hill and then did four down/ups. I think it was on rep three that I almost fell coming up the hill and had to stop. Unfortunately it was near the top so I actually had to wait for my heart rate to recover a little bit before finishing the way up.

I think the five miles before heading to the hill is going to be the secret to our success though. Those were the some of my fastest miles ever…because I couldn’t wait to get to the hill.

Unfortunately there is a bit more traffic on the trail in the evenings and I am thankful that people are very courteous when it comes to right of ways. There are two older couples who ride bike and each time we passed they cheered us on. I told Katie I want THEM at the finish line.

And I know there are spectators along the route, and at the finish line; I am selfish…I want our own cheering section. People that know how hard we have worked to make this happen, what we have accomplished in just 88 days.

To the spectators, we are just two more finishers to cheer.

In our hearts, God has brought us here and given us this opportunity. Finishing this race means we have not only beaten cancer, we have WON. We have finished with each other and the 66 warriors whose names are on our shirts, on our hearts.

Each of those men and women who are listed on our shirts has been prayed for, has fought a battle that cannot be described with words. The warriors we have lost are not only written on our shirts, they are written on our hearts.

The privilege of racing for these men and women is so amazingly humbling. I can only speak for myself (but think Katie feels the same way). Skating with these warriors on our shirts gives me strength. It reminds me not only of how far I have come but how many never got the chance.

My friend Denise did not even get a full year between being finished treatments and her cancer came back in her bones. It was then less than a year and she was gone. It does not even seem real or right that this is how it works some times.

When we reach that finish line, I cannot wait to hold Katie’s hand and let out a huge victory cry! There are tears in my eyes just THINKING about what crossing that finish line means. I have a feeling the finish line tears may turn into an all out bawl…

We are going to come around that last corner…join hands and finish strong…for God…for the people on our shirts…for our hearts. I guess I really do not need a cheering section at the finish line when I know that we truly will not be finishing alone.

Lord,

I ask for your protection as the race draws closer and the emotions become too big for us at times. Give me the strength to be vulnerable and to give myself permission to feel all the feelings as they arise. I want to be able to process this all in real-time…not look back and wonder where the time went or what happened.
As we finish our training and complete our race, may the warriors on our shirts feel the same satisfaction that we feel.
God, I know without You, none of this would even be possible and am humbled to be chosen You to complete this task. To shout from the race track to the training trail to the hills how great You are has been my honor.
Thank You for your provision and your protection. Your faithfulness is amazing.
For the families who have had to say goodbye to their cancer warriors, give them comfort. Help them feel the love around them. Remind them there is no pain, no sadness where You are and that even though our earthly trials are sometimes harder than we think we can bare; we can bare them with You.

Amen