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

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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

Poverty

I share a lot about my financial situation. Then I have a conversation about air fresheners and I realize that I need to keep sharing it because people just truly don’t understand and I know some of them really want to.

I borrowed a car from friends to take my trip to Mayo clinic this week. There was an air freshener in the car that I absolutely fell in love with.  And even though it’s only $3.00, I’ll never splurge on that for myself.

Not only that I’d be short $3.00 for paying my rent; here’s where that $3 could be better spent:

  • Buying one of the boys a couple pairs of socks (they’re boys, this is an ongoing need).
  • Most of the cost of sharpening the youngest boy’s skates ($5.00)
  • A pair of pants of clearance for my oldest kid (found his last pair for $1 at Walmart)
  • Any of the bills I shuffle each month to pay (internet and utilities…both behind and on the verge of being disconnected).
  • Enough gas to get to work for a day or my kids to their activities.
  • Trying to rebuild my emergency fund.
  • Put it towards any of the other bills I have.

So it’s not just that $3 is a big deal, it’s everything that is already not being covered that adds up and $3 might as well be $3 million. It’s not that the air freshener is out of line, it’s just so far down the line that it doesn’t even get an honorable mention.

Seriously.

And now, my long term subbing job is finished and I have no guaranteed income after my final paycheck on the 15th of this month. And I don’t have a husband with a steady job or a boyfriend who pays the bills, or a savings account to cover my butt, or a family that can cover me for more than a couple hundred dollars. The child support I receive is barely enough to make a dent. And in 30 days my rent will be due again.

And it sucks.

I was given money from friends for the Mayo trip…and it’s gone, and I’m counting pennies to make sure I can pay the rent on Monday because I feel like I was stupid with the funds I got. I spent too much on the hotel (which was necessary but I could have stayed someplace much less expensive), I ate too often (Two meals a day) and too much (soup AND salad, that’s too much). I should have just slept on a basement recliner, I should have declined to sit down and eat and just grabbed a sandwich. I should not have bought that second cup of coffee to keep me awake on the drive home.

The enemy is so loud; and he has friends. And those friends tell me I should be working 10-12 hour days, and if I truly wanted to work I could. And that $3.00 really isn’t that big of a deal.

When I received the gift of money I was so thrilled and was planning on having left over funds to pay a few things that I haven’t been able to. Instead of paying those things first, I kept it, not knowing how long I would be at Mayo. I only ended up spending one night, and it’s all gone.

And rent is due Monday, my cell phone is due Monday, and I’m truly thankful for everything that has gotten me this far…and angry that I still need more. I’m sad that I am where I am financially.

The financial insecurity is unlike any other.

And it’s one of the reasons I always do Mayo on my own.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed having a friend with me on this trip, it’s not reality. It’s not my reality. My reality is sleeping in my vehicle or on a basement recliner, it’s not stopping to eat, or just buying cereal and eating that for every meal. It’s staying at the clinic even when I have 4 hours between appointments because leaving costs money (doing things I wouldn’t normally do).

The best part of this trip was that my friend was great as far as getting through the marathon day. She took the time to understand everything going on before we went so I didn’t have to educate her on the go. Having to ‘babysit’ other people and their ability (or inability) to process information on the go is why I have never had any desire to take people with me. Thankfully we got all good news so there was none of the real tough stuff.

I’m definitely going back to going on my own though. It’s too emotionally exhausting to bring somebody with me, even when it’s a good fit and good news. Medical trips are a whole other world for me. There is a distinct disconnect from daily life just to get through the trip and I never want those two worlds to become one.

And in 3 weeks I have the privilege of returning to Mayo to see if they can fix my arm that hurts and causes muscle spasms that is the likely cause of headaches I deal with daily…and another opportunity to reach out and ask for help.

I sure don’t feel all that lucky when I have to reach out, but I sure feel blessed when the request is honored.
Lord,
Thank You father, I’m so tired. I’m thankful for tired, because it means I’m still here to be tired. It means I have to opportunity to glorify Your name for another season.
But it’s exhausting Lord and I’m trying so hard to be light in a very dark place for so many. I’m trying to be Your poster child for AMAZING grace and mercy. I’m not sure why I got picked for this job; please help me Father to remain humble enough to ask for help, and secure enough to hear Your love over the enemy.
Amen

So That Happened

I remember when I quit my job at the elementary school and talking with my pastor about God’s plan for my life. I told him that I was confident that I was supposed to be a substitute for the remainder of this school year. Easy enough, right?

Then a couple of jobs opened up and I applied…two of them I knew I had no chance of getting, but applied anyway. The third, they aren’t actually filling so that was a non-starter. The fourth opening was my old job.

I’ve been subbing at my old job almost since the day I quit my last one. I mentioned last week when my job came open that I would put money on me not getting the job. They all laughed, “Why wouldn’t you? You have experience, you helped (her) out by switching in the first place?”

Today I heard the job went to another lady whom has subbed a few times at the middle school.

At first I was sad, and a little hurt that it felt like a slap in the face.

Then I remembered…God told me I was supposed to be a sub for the rest of the year. So then, I spent the rest of today remembering that being upset is my sinful self…not what God wants in my life.

I decided to take a huge leap of faith when I quit the job, I made the choice to listen closely to God’s calling and follow it wholeheartedly.

I don’t want to change that half way through.

God never called me to apply for any of those jobs. Subbing income is getting us by, I’ve had opportunities that I won’t have once I’m working full time. I’m okay with where I’m at.

My former coworkers are not impressed, some even down right mad. I said, I was hurt, but that it’s all part of God’s bigger plan; who am I to question that?

Following God takes so much effort. If anybody tells you this is the easy way; throat punch ’em. Ok, maybe don’t throat punch them, but definitely don’t believe them.

Society tells me I should have a real job, society tells me I should have more things, nicer things. My bank account shouts that it wants more money.

But God tells me, over and over again, “I’ve got this.”

I’ve got this.

I’m confident that He does. I’m confident that there is something HUGE in the works, and I just have to continue listening to His calling and spending time in His word.

I’m like a kid in a candy store excited about what’s to come…and I have no idea what it is. How do I even explain that to people?

“No, really, it’s okay that I have no idea how I’m going to pay rent next month, God’s got this.”

The amount of faith that takes…the amount of trust…

Yet it’s so freeing at the same time.

I don’t have to worry. I know it will all work out in God’s best interest. I’m not even afraid that it may not be MY best interest. How mind blowing is that?

Father,
Humbly I thank You for the provision and resources to get us through this difficult season in life. Help me to share Your word through all I say and do. Help me remain peaceful in Your plan.
As the summer season is upon us and my school year job ends, I ask for guidance in summer work.
Amen

 

 

 

Thanks and Praise

I have so much to be thankful for in my life, my world, my heart. While dealing with the tough stuff, I need to sometimes write the good stuff down as an out loud reminder that life is good and God is great.

All my kids are physically healthy. The boys are great students, as evidenced by their parent/teacher conferences yesterday. My daughter is the mother I never knew she could be. My granddaughter is an amazing specimen of love and laughter and spit and vinegar; not unlike her mother at that age.

I have been almost two years free of a disease that, only by the grace of God, did not take my life. Instead, cancer GAVE me the life I have long for since moving to the USA. Finally I am free to be myself and live out loud.

I am free of the marriage that God used to teach me that only He matters and that when people focus on worldly idols and not on His love, their free will and the enemy are more than willing to make a path for them.

I also learned that no matter how far a person runs, God is always where we are and waiting with open arms.

I am so thankful to have the friends and family who support me in my relationship with Christ. Thankful for those who are getting to know my boys and be advocates for them, giving me a little bit of breathing room.

Today I’m off to watch my older son bowl in league play. He is headed to districts March 18. After he’s done I’m headed to the arena to watch the first of two games today that my younger boy’s team will play in district competition.

My heart is so full today, my life is so great.

Lord,

Thank You for the reminders yesterday as I got ready for my day. I had almost forgotten how powerful worship time can be on the heart.
Watch over my boys today, and every day in their pursuit of passions that feed their minds and bodies as they give all the glory to you.
Thank You so much for Coach JO and all the support he and his family have given me this year. I finally feel like My little man has somebody in his corner, and I’m thankful for that. Bless the family beyond all earthly understanding as they go through life as a great team.

Amen

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