Waiting

For weeks, I have been waiting for June 10th. I’m attending my niece’s wedding. The 10th has come and now I am waiting for my plane.

It seems like I am always waiting for something. Test results. Moving Day. Summer. As soon as whatever it is arrives, I start waiting for the next thing. I wonder if I am living fully in the moment right now, or if I have one foot in this day and the other in the next. Am I missing out on nuances and details that are important? Am I missing memories?

I have a grand opportunity this weekend to make the most of each moment. . . To be present with those I love and who love me. I want to live with intention, not just watch the days blur into oblivion.

Above all, I want to give praise and glory to the author of each of these moments. Grant me clarity of mind and joy in the journey. Amen.

Ready for some boring. . .

I have always been an adventure seeker and a mover and a shaker. Spontaneous is my gig. However, after the constant heave-ho of the last two years, I could use a little boredom.

We just passed the one year mark in Wyoming. God has been good to us, and life here is fulfilling in new ways. After living the farming lifestyle for 24 years, it is interesting and novel to have a paycheck deposited every two weeks, like clockwork. Gone are the days of up and down cattle markets, looming bad weather reports, and unpredictability–all of which affect the timing and size of the paycheck. Don’t get me wrong. . . we loved that life and we miss many things about it. The economic instability is not one of those things.

We are also approaching the one year anniversary of opening my shop. This has been an adventure, and one that, at times, has seemed completely crazy. While it has been really fun, it has been difficult. It takes awhile to figure out what you’re doing, gain momentum, and build efficiency. Again, God has been so good and I wouldn’t trade this part of the journey for anything.

Though cancer treatment is done, I am continuing to build strength and deal with permanent damage caused by chemotherapy. My mental fog is lifting, and for that I am so grateful. I am not so easily upset or flustered or frustrated now. I am still physically tired, and my job keeps me on my feet and busy all day. Bit by bit, I’m gaining ground.

With all that is happening and has happened in our lives here, I would love to have a little bit of a rut to settle into. I’d like to be a little bored and have nothing to do. Quiet and uneventful would be welcome.

Eh, who am I kidding? The day that happens, I’ll be stirring up some new thing and getting myself into a new adventure. So, I guess I will enjoy today and wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Momentum

Momentum comes and momentum goes. Mine has gone, and has all but taken my passion with it.

The last two weeks has been very busy and quite stressful. My girls, on whom I rely to help run the shop, were gone for a week to their cousin’s grad party. I’m so glad they could go, and I had wonderful friends willing to fill their shoes. However. Our rhythm was gone and because I had to work open to close and run double time, it was a difficult week.

The day they returned, a couple friends arrived to visit, and another daughter drove in from MN. It was wonderful to see all of them. However. It meant for extra activity, extra energy expended, and less than optimal rest. By the end of last week, I was thinking it might have been a better idea to have just gotten a job than to open a Cafe.

But after a three day weekend, I have rested and relaxed. I have gotten over myself and put things into perspective. I know that God is good. I know He has a plan, and I am in it. I know that when I get to work tomorrow, I’ll fall in love with my job again and enjoy my day. I will be happy to talk to the regulars and glad to meet new people. My girls are back and the rhythm is there. I will choose joy and it’ll be a good day. The momentum is returning, even as I write this. Praise be to God.

Body Image

I have spent my life uncomfortable in my own body. I have always been tall, and that fact was accentuated by a mother and best friend who were both very short. I also carry a large frame, and people who meant well were not helpful when they said things like “You aren’t fat, you’re big-boned.” Add to that high schoolers who called me an Amazon, and when I reacted, tried to cover by saying “The Amazon women were beautiful!” Yes, I’m sure what you were getting at was my unparalleled beauty. Hm… And then there were boys who warned one another to be careful or “She will beat you up!” Looking back, I should have.

I didn’t struggle with weight until I began having children. Since then, my weight has been a stronghold,  bordering on obsession.  It was especially hard when I gained 40 pounds in three months on chemo.

When you are a Follower of Jesus,  the enemy will take any insecurity and run with it. I have struggled with thoughts that my mind knows are unfounded but that my heart can’t seem to get past. I wonder if people will love me more if I am thin. Maybe people will find me more likeable if I wear a few sizes smaller. Maybe deep down, my husband wishes I looked like the models and is sorry he is stuck with me. And so I diet. And binge. Try this. Try that. And at the end of it all, I feel like a failure and fight depression. And then I’m sad, so I comfort myself with food. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Yesterday, a revolutionary thought came to me. I have birthed six children. I have survived cancer. I have a devoted husband who loves me and never makes me feel inadequate. Maybe the size and shape of my body isn’t that important. Huh. THAT is a thought that brings the promise of freedom. Of course, I want to be wise. I want to continue regaining my health. I do not want to give cancer easy roads back. But I want to be free. I want to just be happy and comfortable in my own skin. I want to enjoy a dessert, without beating myself up. And enjoy salad, just because I really do enjoy salad, not because it’s all I should eat.

And so begins a journey within a journey. Maybe I can begin to model balance and acceptance and contentment for my daughters instead of self-loathing and never-gonna-measure-up falsehoods. Maybe I can let go of emotional baggage I have carried far too long. Mayne I can truly find freedom.

Freedom sounds pretty good to me.

Laying it down

Today, I reached the end of my rope. I tried to give everything to Him. . . I really did. Yet somehow, I ended up taking it back and carrying it.

I am apprehensive about the next several days and so I am choosing right here, right now, to surrender. God always knows best and is so very worthy of my trust. Even if things go horribly over the next several days, I will survive. The shop will survive. My customers will survive. There is nothing life or death about what I do each day. I just always want to do my best, and I want to make sure every detail is taken care of. There’s nothing wrong with that–until it turns to control and panic that destroys my peace.

I declare that I will go to bed peacefully, placing everything in His hands. I will sleep sweetly and I will wake ready to go to the job I love. It will be a good day, and I will trust the Lord to use me as He sees fit. May I be a blessing.

His grace is enough. . .

I had a panic attack yesterday. There were many things on my mind, but when I sifted to the bottom of what was truly bothering me, I discovered it was anxiety about my three month cancer check. Most of the time, I don’t think about cancer. I don’t read about it. I don’t attend support groups, online or otherwise. I notice my scars, I am aware of the lingering after effects of chemo, but by and large, cancer just doesn’t enter my mind most days. And then my appointment rolls around and I realize I still have quite a bit of fear lurking in the recesses of my mind.

I used to say “If I ever get cancer. . . ” followed by some plan of natural treatment necessitating trips overseas and the rejection of western medicine. I never really thought I would get cancer. It was never a serious concern or fear of mine, so it was easy to have all the answers. Now, I say “If I get cancer again. . .” followed by no plan whatsoever. I know the likelihood of recurrence is high for me. I know I cannot let my guard down. I must remain diligent and aware of changes in my body, and I must not miss appointments. My oncologist is a wonderful woman who loves the Lord. She sees my fears and acknowledges them. She prays for me. I am so grateful for her. She is being hyper vigilant and watches me closely, knowing that the next time cancer rears its head, we have to catch it early.

In between my doctor visits, though, I have life to live, and I don’t want to live in fear, conscious or unconscious. I want to be sure that my heart is trusting in Him and that I am not just choosing to stuff my feelings. Overall, I think I’m in a pretty good place, by the grace of God. And I suppose it is reasonable to allow myself a bit of room to feel, given the situation.

If I get cancer again, Lord willing I’ll just keep walking, holding my head up and taking whatever comes. He is enough.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9

Let Them Struggle

Today, I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m angry.

I’m watching my children struggle. They are doing their best, they love Jesus, and they are decent people. But life is not going their way.

I sit here and listen, offering wisdom if I have any. I pray, and pray, and PRAY. And still, they struggle. It’s so hard to watch and I feel helpless.

This one is treated unfairly at work. Another is not adjusting well to all the change, in which she had no choice. A third battles fatigue and anxiety. I could go on–it seems they all are fighting with one thing or another.

I hate to see their hurt and frustration, but I know this is the way of Life. This is how it goes for all of us. Things come and things go, and we deal. It’s no different for them.

I know my parents hated watching me go through cancer treatment. I know they have hated watching me go through so many things in my life. But I look back from my own perspective and I see what those difficulties have done in my life and my heart. I have grown and changed because of them. I am a better person, a more faithful Follower because I struggled. I wouldn’t take it back. I wouldn’t ask for a do-over.

And so, I understand that no matter how hard it is to watch, these battles my children face are worthwhile. They are productive. Rather than being angry and upset that they face hard roads, I will choose to walk alongside them and lift them up to the One who orchestrates all things. I will put them back in His arms and let them struggle.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Israelites

It’s so long since I’ve blogged. . . We have moved to a small town in the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming and are relearning life and what that means for us. We have new walls, new neighbors, and new weather patterns.

God has been exceedingly good to us, but this new path has not been easy. I’ve had many days when I have wished I could close my eyes at night and wake up in my old house, with my old life.

You see, I loved my house. I loved our farm. I loved that my husband was a farmer and that all my loved ones were near. I loved my life. I could predict it.

Life here has been challenging. It takes time and effort to make new friends, settle into a new community, feel safe in a new church body. We have started a business and so far, my husband hasn’t found steady work. My children struggle with all the change and don’t necessarily want to settle in here.

And just when all these thoughts fill my head and drag me down with sadness and longing, the Lord speaks to me. He quietly reminds me that this new life is His plan for us. It’s His best for us. It’s what He has ordained and orchestrated. It is worth all the struggle and effort.

And I realize that I am an Israelite. Maybe you have never done like I have and sat in judgement of those people in the book of Exodus. It’s easy to read and point fingers at their lack of faith. I have often wondered how they could possibly WANT God to take them back to Egypt–back into slavery. And I have wondered how they could ever doubt the God that was so obviously and clearly leading them and miraculously providing for their every need.

Now that I am where I am, I give them a little more grace and am ashamed of my own judgemental attitude.

No, my life was not slavery. No, I was not being beaten and starved. But I was comfortable with my surroundings and knew what to expect from life, for the most part. Though we have never been rich, we have always had employment and been provided for. Since moving, we have, quite literally, had to trust God to provide money for every little bill that has come due. We have so many unknowns and things that have not yet been revealed. We have had no choice but to trust.

And you know what? God hasn’t let us go. He has blessed us with a brand new business. He has provided everything we have needed and more. He has put people in our path to help us and walk along beside us. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know that the Promised Land is right here, in His hand. I don’t want to go back. I want to see what’s around the next sand dune. It’s gonna be great. And it’s gonna be worth getting sand in my shoes. 🙂

Not Mine

There is so much uncertainty in our world today. While we have all watched from afar as other nations have fought wars, famine, and disease, rarely have those things touched our country in our lifetimes. Coronavirus has affected every one of us.

I have come to realize something. My life is not my own. Now, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have always known that my life is not mine–it’s His. And what a relief that is, since He is infinitely wiser and better equipped than I.

However, more and more, my life is also the government’s. By government declaration, I am quarantined indefinitely. People’s businesses are shut down, many never to reopen. While I see the benefit of some of this action, I am uneasy. Humans are not so wise and well-equipped. We are prone to selfishness and greed. We seek to win–whether in sports or politics. The news is overrun with people arguing over what course of action is best in this troubling time.

If I listen to all of these voices, I begin to sink. Darkness creeps in around me and panic sets in. I forget Whose I am. And so, every day, I have to make a point to refocus. I need to lift my eyes to the heavens and consciously give Him praise and glory, and most importantly, surrender my life to His care.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

A Rough and Perfect Journey: One Woman’s Experience with Breast Cancer: Brenda M Nelson: 9798621072636: AmazonSmile: Books

https://smile.amazon.com/Rough-Perfect-Journey-Womans-Experience/dp/B085KBRV54


Over the course of writing this blog, I have been encouraged to publish it in paper form. I’m excited to say that it’s done, and now available for purchase at the link above.

All proceeds will go to starting my coffee house in Wyoming. It is my dream that the coffee house be an extension of home and a place of fellowship and hospitality. A place of rest and encouragement. I also plan to offer assistance to women with breast cancer, and their families.

May God be glorified in all that I do.