Monday, July 30, 2012

Cardboard Victories

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a church service with about 25 members of my extended family. We gathered to hear about a mission trip to Costa Rica that four of them just returned from. We sang songs in Spanish, watched video and looked at pictures from their trip and heard personal accounts of their experience there. They testified.

Testimony tends to be a really churchy sounding word and therefore it can freak people out. There have been many Saturday Night Live style skits mocking testifying in church that has left the whole practice seeming strange and laughable to many folks who weren't raised attending church. But to me testimonies are amazing, inspirational and life giving.

By definition a testamony is evidence of a fact; it's proof. Proof of something good, proof of a hard won victory, proof that none of us has to be alone in life. Proof that someone has our back and knows our path. Proof that life is meant to be good. Proof.

Near the end of the service the fourteen mission team members gave proof of the goodness in life. They stood on the stage, each holding a piece of cardboard.  On that cardboard each team member had written one thing they struggled with, things like fear, anger, doubt, themptatin and feelings of inadequacy. On the flip side of the cardboard they wrote their victory. Words like strong, protected, peace and free filled the stage. It was amazing to see a snap shot view of the 'wins' each team member had had.

As I watched them and celebrated their success with them I thought about what my piece of cardboard would say; what my proof of victory would be. What would I proclaim to give hope to others?  That's the point of testimonies, to give hope, to light a path and inspire perseverance.  So, what would I declare so that others may find hope in their lives?

Result of an unplanned pregnancy ... Sense of purpose and destiny.
Dorky and awkward growing up, friendless ... Loved by My People.
Worthless, inadequate, quitter,  fraud ... Worthy, whole, healed and inspired.
Diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at 35 ... Cancer free and ALIVE at 36.
Imprisoned by my own mental garbage ... FREE!

I could go on but you get the point. For every struggle I have had, every heartbreak I have endured and every set back I have experienced I have also lived a victory. I have survived. I have become stronger. I have trusted more, learned more and basked in peace more. I have way more wins than loses.

I haven't done this on my own, though. I have My People and I have an incredibly faithful God. That's my cardboard testimony ... What's yours? What have you overcome? What is that one thing you can declare so that others may have hope?

I invite you to write your testimony in the comments or on the wall of our League of Extraordinary Women ... Let's build a cyber monument to the fighter in all of us. Let's proclaim 'we are stronger than'!

The world is full of suffering but it is also full of overcoming it.
~Helen Keller

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Bad Day

I like to think of myself as a 'glass is half full' sort of person. I try to keep my cool, hang onto perspective and not let the small stuff ruffle my feathers. I try to be grateful for something in every circumstance and keep my sense of humor close at hand. Despite all this I had a rough day yesterday.

A million little things went wrong and my computer skills being what they are, I had no end to frustration while sitting in this chair yesterday afternoon. I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish and I got none of them done. With each passing 'error' message I was getting increasingly cranky. Once I was in full throttle Crank Mode the kids could do nothing right, the door was the epitome of annoying and everything was Mr. Awesome's fault. To say I was no fun to be around would be an understatement to say the least.

It wasn't like I didn't notice what a crank I was being or that I didn't care. I felt bad and a little ridiculous for letting a machine wind me up like that but once I was on the crazy train I wasn't sure how to get off. After my eighth attempt to fix things on my web page I knew I should just walk away but I kept going. It wasn't until I slammed my fist on the computer desk and gave a mighty yawp that I realised I was on the express crazy train and the only way off was to jump.

So I jumped.

I shut off the computer and went to my room to cool down. As I was laying there, thinking about the stupid computer and my complete over reaction, I couldn't help but to think about the year I've had. People have often asked me about this 'bad year' and I've laughed. This isn't a bad year.

We've had some crummy stuff to deal with but this isn't a bad year. This is a year when we, my family and friends, have grown closer to each other and to God. This is a year when we've laughed, shared and loved. This is a year when we've realised just what we're made of, how strong we are and how much we mean to each other. This is a year when we've survived and thrived. This is a good year.


I wasn't having a bad day. I was having a rough circumstance. That's it. Yesterday, before the computer fiasco, I read a book, had Crafty's help doing laundry, watched Mischief do handstands til his face was red and he was dizzy, talked with Dude about Lego and Lord of the Rings, took the kids for slurpees and found a poem Mr. Awesome wrote for me when we were engaged. I had a good day yesterday.

When I emerged from my room, calmed down and ready to make supper, Crafty approached me with great caution and asked if I was feeling better. I told her I was.

"Bad days suck," she said.

"True, they do," I replied. "I'm not having a bad day, though. I had a fit over a bad circumstance. Sorry I was so miserable."

"That's okay. What's the worst day you ever had?"

"I don't know but I when I do have bad days I try to remember that everyone has a tough time every now and then, and often times other people are going through stuff that's way worse."

"Like what?"

"Well just now, I told myself that as frustrating as today was, at least my brother didn't use my blow dryer to groom his award winning cow - true story"

She laughed and walked away ... thinking I had lost my mind, I'm sure. I set about making dinner, holding on to the truth that at least my 'bad day' didn't involve a cow stealing my cosmetic appliances.

Above all else: go out with a sense of humor. It is needed armor. Joy in one's heart and some laughter on one's lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life. ~Hugh Sidey

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Things that make you go ???

Dear Children,

In the 12 years that I have been a mother there have been many moments that have left me awestruck, overwhelmed and weeping at the wonder of you. I have laughed til I cried on countless occasions and I have also wept in sadness from time to time. There have also been times that have left me questioning my sanity, YOUR sanity and the basic order of life ... this week has been one of those weeks.

This week, moment by moment, I have wondered how your little, still developing brains works. I have marvelled at what the thought process must be inside that tiny melon to bring you to the incomprehensible decisions you make.

Why, why, why did you think wearing your jacket while it was still on the hanger, hanging in your closet, was a good idea?

Why, why, why did you think a bungee jump from the stair to the couch using a skipping rope would be successful?

Why, why, why did a jam and lettuce sandwich sound appealing?

Why, why, why did you think the dog needed to try on your brother's jacket?

Why, why, why did you think my Sacred Chair would be a good launching pad for you stunts? And didn't you notice the proximity of the coffee table to said Sacred Chair?

Why, why, why did you feel compelled to created a tsunami in the bathtub that soaked half the bathroom?

Why, why, why did you have to recreate the battle of Mordor with Lego in the family room and why for the love of all that is good and holy could you not clean up the carnage before I made a barefoot discovery of the battle scene?

Why, why, why did you think setting off your fizzy popper in the kitchen was a good idea?

And finally ....

Why, why, why do you look and me with those twinkly eyes and funny little smiles that make me forget the mayhem and hug you and love you to bits instead?

Your forever and always,


Did you know that childhood is the only time in our lives when insanity is not only permitted to us, but expected?
~Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Emerging from the Fog

The haze is lifting and I'm back at my keyboard, coffeejuice in hand, and all is right with the world.

Its been a month since my last post and nearly a month since my last chemo treatment. I was gifted a very snazzy ipad ages ago, with the intent that I could keep up my writing from bed while I recovered from my treatments, but there was one glitch in that plan, one thing no one took into account; Chemo Brain. I developed a severe case of chemo brain or The Fog as its known in the treatment room.

I couldn't think clearly let alone string words together to express a thought and don't get me started on my grammar and spelling! I was in over my head, befuddled and nearing a permanent oatmeal brain state. My memory was like a sieve, words were disappearing from my vocabulary and simple math may as well have been calculus.

It was rough going there for a while but the fog is lifting. I can think now. I can spell. My words are returning. I can add AND subtract and even do a little multiplication when there's a need. I can read books, not just flyers. I remember things and I have an attention span longer than that of a toddler's so things are looking up.

I couldn't wait to be clear enough to be here; I've missed it. I've missed sharing my thoughts and hearing from all of you. I've missed being A Normal Mom. Dare I say, I have missed the regular routine of driving the kids around, making dinner and helping with homework. I have missed being Mr. Awesome's partner and not only a patient. I have missed my life.

I knew that things were returning to normal, that my kids saw me as A Normal Mom again, yesterday. I had declared it a sleep-in day and had threatened all kinds of groundings, chores and torture for anyone who disturbed my slumber before 9:30 (remember when 'sleeping in' meant noon?). I felt secure that they were sufficiently scared and ready to comply when I tucked the little beggars in on Sunday night but I couldn't have been more wrong!

8:40 on Monday morning I was jolted awake by a lengthy drum solo followed by a recorder/piano duet that could have used a lot more practice. When I stumbled down the basement stairs to beg my offspring to cease and desist they all started talking to me at once. I felt like I was trapped in a beehive, it seemed like everyone and everything was buzzing and humming.

I finally got them to settle down and stop asking me questions and returned to my bed. Not thirty seconds later there was a knock at my bedroom door. It was Mischief. He crawled into bed beside me, put his cold feet on my legs and mashed his sticky face up against my neck and whispered, "I'm so glad you're a normal mom again. I've missed you!"


The fog is lifting, I am with my kids ... all is right with the world.

Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.

~Ram Dass