Tuesday, October 1, 2013


It was around Christmas time last year that we received the news that my mom most likely had breast cancer. There were so many unanswered questions in those first weeks, and I felt as though I was sort of walking around in shock. This just couldn't be happening to my family. It was something I had always dreaded, and it was no longer a "what if," it was reality. When you don't know what you're dealing with, your mind fills in the details, and usually those details are the worst-case scenarios. Once we had more information about what the extent of the cancer was, and what the treatment options were, I felt a little more at peace with the situation. But, we knew it would be a long, hard year. Intensive rounds of different types of chemotherapy drugs (one of which we were told was the most difficult chemo a patient can take), followed by surgery to remove the tumor, followed by radiation. Still reeling from the shock of my mom's diagnosis and treatment plan, I answered a phone call from my mom one morning in January while on my way out to my son's basketball game that my brother's barn had burned completely to the ground in the night. The barn contained most everything he and my dad needed to run their ranching operation. I rushed over to my mom and dad's home and just held my mom while she cried. There were just no words. The only thing that went through my mind was to "Remember His Faithfulness." This was based on this passage of scripture in Psalm 77 " 11 I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 12 I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds" Psalm 77:11-12 Many years go, I began journaling God's specific works in my life as a way to apply this passage of scripture. I have a short memory, and am prone to feel sorry for myself, wondering where God is in the midst of difficulties. During those times of trials and trouble, it is so helpful to remember the times God's hand was so evident in my life. Earlier in the fall, before all of this had happened, I happened to pull out my old journals (something I hadn't done in quite some time) and read all of those things again. I felt the Lord impressing that instruction onto my heart once again to, "Remember My Faithfulness." He knew I would need to remember those times of His specific intervention in my life in the face of what would seem like his apparent absence. Mom began her treatment shortly after, and throughout those winter, spring and early summer months, there were so many ups and downs. I'm sure during that time my mom went to dark places most of us never even knew about. I cannot imagine how difficult that time must have been for her, but I know how difficult it was for me and my family. One thing I realized about this time is how very much my family loves each other. My boys love their grandma and papa so much. Explaining to them the different phases of her treatment was difficult, but they were such little troopers and loved their grandma no matter how many questions they had. My brother and his family were also there for every moment of this journey, even though they were in the midst of starting over after what had happened to their barn. I remember being amazed at one point to just consider how God took my mom and dad, myself and my brother, and knit together a family in a way only He could do through the blessing of adoption. It really is a miracle. (And yet another one of those things to write on my "Remember God's Faithfulness" list.) Now, it is nearly ten months later and my mom completed her very last radiation treatment this morning, bringing it all to a close. No more chemo. No more surgery. No more radiation...and God brought us through it. I prayed for a verse to give to my mom as she completes this phase of her life. This is the one I believe He gave to me: 1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!" 5 The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. 7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. 8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 Psalm 116:1-10 I pray that my mom, my dad, and our entire family can once more "Be at rest" for the Lord has been SO good to us.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to be happier

It's been one of those days...I woke up grumpy, a little on the depressed side. I'm not sure why. Usually, I can pinpoint these things...trace them back to a single occurrence that affected my mood in a negative way. Today though, I can't. Something has just been "off", and I am not sure how to fix it. On my way to bed, I peruse my dear friend Shannon's blog (click here) and happen upon this great video about "how to be happier"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHv6vTKD6lg#at=407 and it strikes a chord. So, taking a cue from the participants in the video, I want to tell you about the person who has made the biggest impact on my life, my mom. I have always been close to my mom. In my growing up years, and my teen-age years, she was always the person I wanted to spend time with. We had so much fun together, and we had so many great talks. Moving 13 hours away from her when I went off to college was difficult, but we made it through. We talked every.single.night on the phone. Yes, every one. As a newlywed, I remember my first night in my apartment with my new husband. It was then that I revealed to him that I had this "thing" where I called my mom (or she called me) every night before bed to say good-night. At that point, there was no going back on me (the vows had already been said), so I felt pretty safe in revealing this quirky little tidbit to him. At that moment, he realized my mom and I are a package deal. Throughout my years of grad school and learning to be a wife, she was always there for me (like she had always been all the years before), and our relationship deepened and changed, but only in good ways. After the birth of my first child, something happened to me. I'm not sure what it was...stress, hormones, trying to master the most important role of my life, who knows? But, it was during this time I experienced the most conflict with my mom that I had ever had up until that point. Now don't get me wrong, there was little drama, and what conflict we did have was usually resolved peacefully. But, I think we started to pull away from each other a bit. Maybe this move was necessary, or maybe it was just a reflection of what was happening in our life, but we made it through it. When I moved with my little family to Iowa, we experienced another little separation in our relationship. She was still the first one I wanted to call when I had good (or bad) news. She was still the one whose advice I counted on most. But, I think I needed this time to invest a little more of myself into my husband and my family. Fast forward a few years. We are back in North Dakota. In fact, she lives (most of the time) within a minute of my house. There are days we see each other or talk on the phone several times a day. There are strings of days in a row where we don't talk at all. I feel like our relationship has hit a "sweet spot." I know so much more now. I love my mom so much. I knew I loved her deeply, but when she went through a very serious health issue this past year, I was confronted, face-to-face, with the reality that I could lose her. And it was then that I realized that my love for her is similar to the love I have for my children...it is deep and limitless. Nothing she could say or do would ever make me stop loving her. I can't imagine my life without her, and I am so thankful God was Faithful to bring her to this point safely. She is the person who has made the biggest impact in my life. And now, I end my day, and I am happy.

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