To be seen…

How many times do you walk through a store, a mall, a hospital etc and see someone with a name tag? Do you notice them? Do they see you?

Recently, I was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I drove my parents down for my dad’s test. While he was in the procedure room, my mom and I explored. Mayo is well known across the United States for being one of the best hospitals. The campus is huge… so many buildings, elevators, tunnels and walk ways – it would be easy to get lost. We wandered the “subway” level and looked at some shops. We had gone quite a distance, when we got to a corridor that seemed less busy and active. A lady with a name tag stopped. “Do you need help finding anything?” She was so polite and helpful. While we didn’t need help, she did tell us about a great place to eat and where to go for a good bowl of soup. She saw us. She stopped and talked and listened.

After my dad’s procedure, the doctor came in to visit. He shook our hands and sat down. He explained what they had done, what the next steps would be, and even drew a picture. He made sure our questions were answered and took the time to listen. The nurse joked about the Dr… he gets them behind schedule because he talks so much. But you know what? Yep, he saw us. He saw my dad as a person and not just a procedure. Many times while we were there, we saw people being helped, guided or asked if they needed directions. Random people in the elevator told us to have a great day.

Sometimes we like to stay hidden. I sure do. Many times I like to blend in and not draw attention to myself. I tried to sneak out of church on Wednesday night, but the pastor’s wife saw me and wanted to make sure I knew they’d be praying for our son and his stress test. Even though being seen sometimes makes me uncomfortable, it also makes me feel like someone cares. To be seen is ok. It can be scary sometimes, but it’s ok. Or maybe you’re the person who sees someone else. Maybe you notice the lonely person or the person who seems lost, or the person who needs some prayers.

God sees us, but sometimes it’s hard to realize. I think we need to be his eyes to see others, to help them and to reach out. That might mean we come out of our comfort zone or spend a few extra minutes listening. When we see others, we are doing God’s work. We let someone know they are valuable, important, and worth our time. We get so busy rushing and doing and trying to get to the next thing, we might not see. It can be with our own family – did we stop and listen? Did we really see what our kids or our spouse was trying to show us?

Our journeys aren’t meant to be traveled alone. We need connections and conversations. We need to be seen. Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you see and be seen. It may just make someone’s day.

Um, that wasn’t my plan…

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” How many times do our plans not work out? How many times are we convinced that we know better, know the answer, know the right path? Sometimes the meaning behind our struggles comes later and we realize what the lesson was. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

When we lived in ND, and our youngest was little, my husband took down old barns or old buildings. He made furniture and signs and frames. When we moved to MN, we didn’t have a place for all of the lumber. Some of it didn’t “make the cut” and was burned in the fire pit before we moved. Some of the stuff that we wanted to save was stored at a friend’s place for the last 3 years. We recently moved it home, and had built a shed to store it in. It’s like a tarp building.

The weekend we finished putting it up, it was snowing. We got most of it moved inside the shelter. We thought it should be good. My husband even bought longer anchors to secure it in the ground.

Plans changed. Not our plans. Winds over 60 mph, along with a driving rain hit our area last night. Thankfully, our trees are standing and our chickens are ok. The shed is not ok. Not even a little bit. The cables attached to the stakes snapped. The metal broke and twisted. The tarp has holes. It’s done for. Um, not our plan.

The wind came under and picked it up like a sail. It tossed it back to the trees. It felt like it was mocking all of our hard work. Now what? We aren’t sure yet. It was still too windy this morning to try and move it or disassemble it.

Sometimes we feel like this shed… tossed and broken and torn. We don’t quite know how to put the pieces back together. I encourage you to hold on. Get a pen and paper and write out everything that’s on your mind and everything on your heart (not always the same thing). Rip it up or burn the paper. You do not need to hold onto it. Find a trusted friend to talk to, preferably someone who will just listen. Know that you’re not alone. The social media pictures only tell part of the story. Everyone has a crappy “brain dump” list.

Our plans may not always work out how we envisioned. In fact, many times they don’t. If you haven’t found your groove yet, hold on. If you haven’t found your tribe yet, hold on. If you haven’t found your purpose yet, hold on. Hold on… pain ends. One way or another, the pain will end. The shed will get taken down and maybe pieces will be used for something else. Maybe God will be making diamonds out of your dust.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Regardless of your plans, I hope His plans are bigger and more wonderful than you could have imagined.

Pins & needles…

“Sitting on pins and needles” is a phrase that dates back to the 19th century. The fact that the saying has been around for 200 years means it’s something super common. We don’t always discuss our “pins & needles” moments. The intensity may vary, but they happen to all of us.

Last week I had my yearly mammogram. Because I am a breast cancer survivor, I have an MRI and alternating 3D mammogram every 6 months. Pins & needles. I feel fine, but is it really still ok? What if they see something I hadn’t noticed. What if a marker (tiny clip they put in where they do biopsies) has changes by it…. what if. I got the results this week, and it was normal. Wheew.

Last week, our oldest son went to the cardiologist for his heart. They did an EKG, we met with the Dr, did an Echo of his heart, and met with the Dr. again. We left there with a 24 hr heart monitor. He wore it as instructed. Then we sent it back to them. Now we wait. Pins and needles. Thoughts race through our minds of what if. We still wait… Up to a week before they have the test results. Mama bear will give them a call on Wednesday. They will likely do a stress test and then figure out the next steps. I wish I could tell kids to be nice and not make fun of him. I wish I could take the pains away.

Wednesday is the same day I go back to Fargo for oncology follow up. Obviously, if my mammogram was fine, this should be a quick visit. It will take longer to drive up there than it will for the appointment. Still some pins and needles. What will he say? Will he release me to Alexandria instead? Will he want me to still come twice a year or will it be only yearly? Then what? I’m approaching 5 yrs from diagnosis. It’s a day I always knew would come, but there has been a lot of pins and needles in between.

I know so many people on different kinds of pins and needles: job changes, pregnancy, relationships, finances, family issues, health concerns…. we all have our own version. The person who seemed “prickly” today may have some pins and needles bothering them. Be kind.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find some peace in your “pins & needles” moments. Be the listening ear or the cheerleader for someone else who is experiencing their own “pins & needles” moments. Life is short, let’s be there for each other.

What’s trying to steal your joy?

Last week, our oldest son was startled by a noise in the window well. Sometimes a frog or critter will end up stuck down there. This was different. A weasel had gotten in and was on his window. Now, if you’ve read my blogs before, you know that I have chickens. If you’ve watched Looney Tunes, you know that weasels love chickens also… but in a different way.

I love my chickens. They are my pets. They do give me eggs, but mostly, they bring me joy. I love the way they run up to me. I love their clucks and noises. I love learning about what their noises mean. I love hearing stories from my mom about her chickens when she was growing up. I don’t have any mean chickens. They just make me smile… bring me joy.

My husband has run many marathons. I think he was up to 16 full marathons before we moved. For a while, he did two per year… one in May and one in October. As crazy as it sounds, it brought him joy. Much like my chickens bring me joy, running brought him joy.

Our oldest son loves fishing… joy. Our youngest son loves his cat… joy. A friend of mine loves sloths… joy. Another friend loves to clean… joy. Someone else’s “joy” doesn’t need to make sense to you. Whatever brings you JOY, do more of that. Love to paint? Do that. Does nature bring you joy? Go out for a walk. Love to bake? Make something for a college student and mail them a care package. Love books? Volunteer to read to kids.

We get caught up in being busy and think we don’t have time for joy. It should be one of the things we do every day. Every day we should chose joy. Don’t let time or schedules or weasels try to steal your joy away. Sneak it in… even a little bit of something that brings you joy can turn your day around. Our journeys aren’t meant to be boring or difficult or painful. Try to find room for a little joy.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find your “chickens” aka JOY, and don’t let anyone steal it!

The fine line…

Today is October 1st. Typically “Pinktober” reminds us of breast cancer awareness. When I was getting ready this morning, I wasn’t sure if I should wear pink. Do I wear pink all month long? I’ve done that before. Do I ignore it and go on with my day? It’s a fine line between hope and fear.

I wasn’t sure what I’d write about today. I had three other topics in mind, but all of these “pink” messages and memories popped up, so I took that as my sign. (Even though I likely lost many people once they saw the subject.) I’ve put away many of my warrior/survivor/pink shirts. It’s not that I don’t acknowledge it. Every day I have a reminder of what I went through. Do I wear pink for me? For you? For someone just diagnosed? Maybe all of the above.

I wear pink for me as a reminder of my strength. When we were cleaning the boys’ rooms this weekend, there was a shirt from a 5k we ran, supporting breast cancer research. It said “I run for ____” and “mom” was written in black sharpie in that blank. A lump formed in my throat and I just couldn’t get rid of it. Even though it no longer fit, I had to save it. Part of me wasn’t ready yet.

I wear pink for you. I wear it as a reminder to get checked. Have a yearly mammogram. Encourage others to do the same. The temporary pain is minimal. Don’t ignore something unusual. Don’t assume it can’t happen to you. Don’t put it off. You may think I’m annoying, but if it reminds someone to schedule their appointment, it’s worth it.

I wear pink for someone recently diagnosed. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t wear a giant sign that said “Hey, guess what? I just found out I have invasive ductal carcinoma.” I looked fine. I looked normal. I didn’t lose my hair. Someone else might be going through the same thing. Or their wife, friend, daughter or sister. I’m here with you. I support you. I wear pink for you.

I actually felt ill today. The thought of October brings anxiety that punches me in the gut. I think I’m fine, and then “wham.” Do I live in fear of recurrence or hope for good heath? The fine line. Today, I chose hope. I chose to make a change, to chose joy, to live my best life. I chose to support “Pink it Forward” – an organization who sends care packages to breast cancer patients. I chose to write about it because it’s a part of me. It doesn’t define me, but it shaped me in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you have the courage to make the appointment. May you chose hope over fear in all aspects of your life. Life is short, enjoy the journey.