Monday, April 8, 2019

Hi, my name is Mom, and I have angry kids.

Over nine years ago God brought two little ones, a boy and a girl,  into our family.  He then brought a baby boy and then an 8 year old boy.  All siblings.  We walked each step knowing that God had made it obvious that foster/adoption was a path our family was to take.  Confidence did not make it easy. Just possible.

Each day still brings its own struggles.  Growth can hurt sometimes. We have come a long way.  Boy, has God shown grace and taught mercy in ways that have blown my mind.  Lately, we have revisited the struggle with angry children.  With a lot of prayer, some research, and oodles of friendly encouragement, we are making baby steps.

Today, I set up my chair half way between the basketball court and the playground so I could see three of my kids at the same time.  They needed the big muscle time.  I needed the quiet time.  So, I wrote.

Here are a few things that I have been learning.

I am an angry mom.
I cannot fix everything in the moment.
My kids don’t know why they are angry.
Folding my hands, speaking slowly, and staying in my seat go a long way in staying under control.
I can trust God to help me extend my limits of patience.
Anger is not a sin.
Sinful reactions to anger can be influenced by a traumatized brain.
It is extremely more difficult to disciple a heart than it is to discipline a behavior.
I am too attached to material things.
Broken stuff is a result of a broken heart.
God is much stronger than anything my child will attempt and much stronger than I could ever be.
There are many tools to help our brains to recalibrate.
I can love very defiant children.
My choice to love my child cannot be determined by my child’s actions or words towards me.
God’s plan for my child cannot be altered by anyone.
If I really pay attention to my child, I will see far more smiles and enjoy many more peaceful moments than ugly ones.
Today is a new day.
Praying aloud over my child may not be accepted by my child, but it will focus my heart to God who has already accepted my child.
When I respond in anger, it does absolutely nothing to help.
Big muscle play and brain breaks are essential for an angry child.

I will still be learning until the day I die.  I am so thankful that my Savior has got this whole thing figured out.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

It has been too long

I am closing in on two years from the day of my diagnosis.  Cancer has left its ugly, dirty, indelible mark on my heart and body.  It has affected my life, but it is not my life.  God has chosen to allow this horrid disease to invade my body for a time.  What He has done since then has blown me away. He again has shown me that He is so much bigger than anything that comes against me.  Cancer has reminded me that God’s plan is perfect and good despite pain and sadness.  Cancer has effected a change of perspective.
My crew and I took a mini vaca in between Christmas and New Year’s Day.   This past September we bought a travel trailer, and we have managed to get away a few times already.  This was our longest trip to date with seven of our kids. Choosing to camp with a trailer load of people sounds absurd to many, but it sounds perfect to us.  Cancer robbed me of about a year and a half of my life.  Today is a gift.  Tomorrow is not a given.  Our window of opportunity is small.
Now, mind you, I do not take on the eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die perspective.  However, there is something to be said about taking advantage of what today brings.  Every momma would tell you not to blink.  Kids grow too fast.
As I am a teacher-mom of many, I can get very easily overwhelmed with the must do’s.  Camping gives all of us a chance to breathe and take in life a little differently.  Of course it is a tad easier when kids can explore, hike, and stay up a bit later.  When we get back to the books, it will be like pulling teeth to be sure.
For five days we celebrated the New Year camping style.  We played games.  We grilled.  We enjoyed yummy appetizers.  We watched some old TV shows.  We hiked.  We swam.  We played basketball.  We colored. We talked. We enjoyed family.
My family laughs when they stop to think of Mom camping.  If you would have asked me about ten years ago if I would LOVE camping, I would have laughed too.  Making the choice to invest both financially in a travel trailer and daily in my family is a perspective change that makes me smile.
I will always struggle with what cancer has done,  but I am grateful for what I am learning.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What do you want from God?

What do I want from God?  Is that even a fair question? What does God owe me?  How do I dare ask anything from God?
John 1 recounts when Jesus offered the opportunity for his disciple, Andrew, to answer that very same question.  “What do you want?”
What I want in life changes each day, each year, each season of life.  I look at my kids and often see very wanting children.  I want. I want.  I want.  It’s hard for little ones to see past today, so they want the right now.  Usually it’s food.  Often my attention.  Many times just stuff.
As my kids have gotten older, the wants become different:  direction, a spouse, a job.
Now as I sit well past childhood, the teen years, and young adulthood, I still face the question:  what do I want?
I have begged God for my children.  I have pleaded with Him for healing.  I have daily asked Him to help me be the mom and wife I need to be.  Yet, what do I really want from God?  Do I really want Him or just something He can give me?  That, my friend, is the million dollar question.  I am truly grappling with that.  I know what I should say, but is that the truth?  Do I approach God, to come before my sovereign God, my Savior, to rub a magic bottle hoping to get my questions answered.  Seriously?  Yes, going through the motions certainly seems like that.
Back to John 1.
Andrew had been listening to John the Baptist tell who this man, Jesus, was:  the Lamb of God.  Immediately, Andrew changed his walk to follow this Jesus.  He approached him.  He walked next to him.  When asked what he wanted from this Jesus, he responded by asking where he was staying.  What a curious answer.  Did he simply want to know where he would be staying that night?
I began my walk with God forty-two years ago.  I didn’t know where that walk would take me.  I really didn’t know much.  I talked to God.  When the BIG things in life came up, I asked God about them.  I walked a little closer to His side when life got really scary.  When I was lost and confused I certainly reached up to hold his hand and took  another look in the book of directions He had already provided.
God graced us with the chance to come to him with questions.  He graced me.
The sky shines blue and cloudless today.  The morning was rough in school, but tomorrow will be another day.  As of now, cancer has been dealt with in my body.  I have an immeasurable list of things to be thankful for.
So, what do I want from God?
I want to walk through this day with an awareness that God is right there.  I want to know that when I lay my head down tonight that God is there, and I can talk to Him.  I want Him to spill out all over my kids.
Lord, thank you that you are not distant from me.  Thank you that you listen even when my questions are incessant.  Thank you that you have all the answers.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Do you have a resolution or a new word for the year?

I welcome 2018.  Goodbye 2017.
I can count on one hand the times I have made resolutions for the new year.  Maybe that means I am wimpy,  or maybe I am just a realist.  However, God has put a word on my heart that echoes loudly, almost annoyingly.  NEW.  That is it.  NEW.
I sat bundled up in the warm van while my crazy kids skated on the frozen lake in frigid temperatures and I went back to my Bible and took a look where God himself used the word.
In the ESV, the word is translated 143 times in 128 verses.  There is a new king, a new moon, new grain, new gods, a new house, new ropes, a new cart, a new garment, a new sword, a new song, new friends, new things, new life, new heavens, new earth, new covenant, new mercies, new spirit, new heart,  a new tomb, new teaching, new tongues, as new commandment, new creation, new self, new way, new name, new Jerusalem, and all things new.
2017 brought me new things:  a new diagnosis, new schedule of treatment, a new body, a new normal.  I have a hard time accepting the new to be honest.  New things are usually welcomed.  I mean who does not like a new pair of shoes, or a cute new dress.  Maybe the new kitchen gadget or the new app on your phone is practical or super fun to use.  I also like new to me stuff.  Garage sales make me smile.  I never truly thought of new stuff as an unwelcome change.
I think God is trying to show me new things about new things.
God makes things new that he wants to make more like Him.  He uses new things to bring worship to Himself.  He is right now creating new things that no one can even fathom.  He is making me new.
Every morning I am reminded that my body has new scars.  Yes, they will fade.  Eventually.  Yet,  they remind me that both that the new tumor was removed and that my new body is on the way to healing.
2018 will bring a new son-in-law, a new high school graduate, and I’m sure many other new things completely out of my control.  I will daily fight the fear of a new diagnosis.  I will push my way through a new fitness regime.
God is all about new things.  This year, He is whispering daily that His new is good.
I am resolved to listen to His truth.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Not so Silent Night

Point of Grace sang a song awhile back,  “A Not so Silent Night”.  Now, we are not too used to silence around here, so this title makes me smile.  Seriously though, it makes sense.
A swarm of people had invaded Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus told them they had to.  It was not the resort vacation town.  It was a political move.  My guess is that there was plenty of complaining.  The streets must have been crowded.  Every room was filled.  Animals made the trek as well, and they were housed wherever there was room.  The census takers were quite busy.  I’m sure the local vendors took advantage of the influx of potential customers.  They weren’t about to miss out on a sweet deal.   Children were shushed at night when everyone was trying to sleep.  Children were shushed during the day as they ran through the streets squealing, playing with newly found friends.
Then came Mary and Joseph.  The only place they found was a stable for animals.  In a sense, the stable was a garage for the animals that carried people and baggage to Bethlehem.  Can you just imagine what the sounds were in that simple dwelling?  Cows, donkeys, sheep?
Then came Jesus.  Okay, I have birthed four children.  It is not quiet.  It’s busy.  It’s noisy.  Labor is work.  Mary was giving birth.  On her own no less.  Her son, Jesus, the Savior, was born as a baby.  Babies are noisy.  They cry.  Oh, yes, they are amazingly, deliciously, wonderful, but they are not quiet.
Meanwhile on a field nearby some shepherds met with an angel.  Then a whole sky full of angels began praising God.  Wow, that is far from silent.  The shepherds may have met the baby reverently, but they left on cloud nine praising God and telling everyone they saw what had happened.  You can only imagine the whispers and stoppers-by on that holy night.
What I find amazing in this contradiction of silence is that there was peace.  Those same angels who were praising God also proclaimed peace on earth to those in whom he was pleased.  Mary treasured what had just happened.  She had no idea how this would all play out, but she had peace knowing God had purposed all of it.  She could peacefully hold this little one knowing that he would one day save the world.
In the middle of all the noise of Christmas, I am reminded that peace is available.  God is still working his plan perfectly.  Though my life in this little corner of the world is far from quiet and has been quite noisy this year, there is peace knowing that despite pain, unexpected events, uncomfortable situations, even loneliness, I can have peace knowing that the little baby born a couple thousand years ago is my Savior.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Security and Significance

Security and significance play an essential role in a woman’s life.  I’m confident that few would disagree.  Whether a woman is single or married, she is affected by these two elements in life’s  circumstances and choices.  Cancer rocked my world and the world of those I love.  To say that my security and significance became a twisted, unrecognizable mess is an understatement. I was a teacher who could not teach.  I was a mom who could not do the “mom” things.  I was a housekeeper who could not do much at all around the house.  I was an involved parent who had to sit on the sidelines.  My role of a wife became skewed.  Cancer had robbed me of my hair, my breasts, and my energy to name a few losses.  I was hurting inside and out from head to toe.  Who was I?  Doctors and others told me my job was to take care of myself.  For six months, I had to set aside what I thought I needed to do for what I had to do, kick this cancer.
Cancer is now gone.  I am still who I was.  I am still who God made me, inside and out, even though I look different.
Now the bills and EOBs are coming in for the six days I spent in the hospital.  We will have to fight for some to be reconsidered.  Financial security is huge for cancer patients.  What will insurance cover?  Will I have enough for any copays?  How long will this treatment go on?  Will my treatment carry over into another year, so that my copays and deductible start all over again?  Cancer is expensive.  Financial insecurity is real.  In our home, God has chosen to continually bring in work to the firm and has prompted clients to pay on time.  That does not always happen in our home or in many others. Cancer unsettles the most financially prepared individual.  Thankfully, God owns it all and all is at his disposal.
I have been blessed with a loving, faithful husband who has walked each step of that hallway to every treatment and has slept in the chair right beside me in the hospital as well as at home when I could not even climb the stairs to bed.  He has heard every word from the doctors in every appointment.  For others, cancer has separated spouses and even severed marriages.  Some woman head into cancer treatments insecure of how it will affect their relationships. For those woman who are independent, strong, and single, the question my be how in the world can  I attack this awful disease alone?  They enter financially stable and wonder how in the world bills will be paid.  Who will stand with them in the really hard times?  Will people stay away because they just don’t know what to say?
Each day I am reminded of new mercies, new healing.  I am reminded again, how much I lost, but also of how much I have gained.  For a time, God allowed me to feel insecure in my own doing, so that I can more fully realize my security in Him.  He allowed what I thought made me significant to be altered for a time in order for me to see my true significance in him.
Oh, believe me, I would not have chosen cancer for me and my family.  I have been mad.  I have been scared.  I am still dealing with the new me on the outside, and I will for awhile.  Insecurity often raises its ugly head.  I am working back slowly into my significant roles of mom and wife.
As you meet others who have been blindsided with cancer (I am focusing on what I know understanding that this affects women differently), consider their insecurities and feelings of insignificance.  Understand that it is a process that will continue.  There are no easy answers.  No matter how many times, she hears it and denies it, continue to affirm her for who she is.  Understand her fears are real and know that a hug and an encouraging card goes a long way.  Feel free to help her with life when you can.  You don’t have to ask.  Her insecurity may make it hard to ask for your help.
At the risk of sounding ridiculously trite, the most powerful thing you can do is pray for these women.  Don’t stop praying. Tell her you are praying.  Pray with her.  Remind her that God is in all of this, and He is the one who loves her unconditionally.  He is the one who has the resources to take care of any need.  Cancer is unbelievably hard.  It changes your world.  It will change you.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Clearance and Coming Days

This week marks six weeks since surgery.  Each day brings more healing.  Each day moves us closer to a new reality.  Not sure yet what to expect that reality to be.  Not sure when to expect that reality to plateau.  As of now I am still on the uphill climb toward complete healing.
Last week I met with my oncologist who discussed with me how we are going to approach these next five years.  Yes, five years.  Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) means that after chemo and surgery there is nothing more to do.  Praise the Lord, there is no further evidence of cancer in my body.  Many of you have shared how you have prayed for just that.  Thank you so much for your faithful prayers.  God has chosen to answer very graciously.  That said, there is also no other preventative treatment either.  I will not be taking any other meds.  There are some benefits such as I will not have to deal with any side effects of harsh meds.   I have no residual cancer, and therefore, I do not qualify for any clinical trial.   I will be meeting with my oncologist regularly and will be having blood work to monitor liver and bone function.  At this point I will not be scanned regularly.  As I am the one most aware of  my body, I will need to be cautious of any crazy changes:  bone pain, difficulty breathing, severe headaches, and significant weight loss.  TNBC has a greater reoccurrence than other breast cancers before the five year anniversary.  After that milestone, the rate of reoccurrence drastically drops.  Can I say again how thankful I am that God is in control of all of this.  My tomorrows are known by him.  He has laid out my days before even one of them came to be.  Oh my, how much I need to hold on to this!
Today I met with the micro surgeon who did my reconstruction.  He is so kind, for which I am thankful.  In addition to kindness, he is really good at what he does.  If I simply looked at the medical aspect of breast cancer surgery, I would be over the moon excited about my situation. It is amazing what the docs can do.  Still, in December, I will need to have outpatient surgery to revise a few things.  When you look at me, you would never know.  Trust me when I say that things are not quite right yet.  I have decisions to make which I never thought I would have to consider.  They are not major life decisions.  Still, as a woman, considering the way my body will look is difficult.  Today was an emotional day.  Just saying.
I am cleared to do what I am comfortable doing.  So,  I guess that means I need to assume my chauffeur job again.  This mom of many cannot say thank you strongly enough to my parents and friends who have filled the gap when my kids needed rides all over creation.  We have been loved so practically.  My kids are watching and have been the beneficiaries of lots of love.
I really hate cancer.  I have friends who are fighting this terrible disease as I write this.  Cancer robs so much. Yet, God gives.  He gives grace, help, and peace.  He give love when I feel unlovely. Bryan and I still have much to work through, but we know God is in it.  Day by day.