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

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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

 

 

 

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.

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

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

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.