What do I have to give

Dec 14

What do I have to give

“I’m so glad you’re better!”

I’ve heard this from half a dozen people in the past month.  I don’t really know what to say when people say that to me because it’s rarely happened before.  I must — for the first time since all this started — look normal.  Technically, however, I’m the sickest I’ve ever been over my almost four years of dealing with breast cancer.  I do feel well right now, which is cause for much delight, but I still have cancer and deal with symptoms daily if not hourly (toes, bloody noses, acne rash, rosacea, cracked skin, gastro distress).  I don’t want to be a downer, but I do think that most people have no idea what metastatic cancer means, so I am trying to both keep it real while keeping it positive.  The perception that I’m medically “normal” is isolating for me; it’s odd how that works.

On to much more delightful things.

Seventeen of our neighborhood families got together to put the lights and wreaths up on our house this year.  And fancied/prettied the bows, and replaced the burned out bulbs, and climbed up and down (and up and down) the two-story ladder, and replenished the strings that had gone out, and and and and!  It was a bamboozling effort!  Since we celebrated an extended Thanksgiving in Wisconsin this year, we were majorly behind in decorating; it was such a gift for it to be done.  Wow!  This is a great example of a great “gift of service” for cancer people; I can’t believe the selflessness of these folks.  Our village, I’m telling you, they are amazing.  Every time I look at my house from the outside, or see the warm glow of lights from the inside, I am all kinds of warm-fuzzied.  I love it.  Thank you neighbors.

This morning as I was making Greta’s bed, I found the sweetest thing.  A note to Santa written in big sister’s handwriting and personally signed by G.  She was so delighted to show me, and tell me about how, “Me and sissy wrote it together” and “I drawed a picture on the back because I bet Santa likes presents too.”

IMG_5191

My delight was replaced with a little bit of dismay when I realized that I bought her none of what she asked for (how did that happen?) yet I’m all done with my shopping.  I’m crossing fingers it all works out.  This is our fourth or fifth year doing

Something you want

Something you need

Something special

Something to read

for our holiday gifts, so I’m hoping the other “wants” she has mentioned over the past few months will suffice.  We also do a Santa gift and stockings because I love Christmas magic and Jesus; it all works out just fine.

I’m one of those mothers who always talks to her kids.  When they were little I would say, “Look out the window at the cows,” “Let’s get the macaroni in the blue box,” and “Can you help me find six yummy apples?  One, two…”  Now that they — Maren especially — are getting bigger, I’m still talking to them.  Maren knows all about budgeting and reasonable amounts to spend on things.  She self-imposed a limit of one-hundred dollars with no input from me as she was looking through the American Girl catalogue.  She ogled plenty of things, but completely independently restrained herself when it came time for wishing.  I’m both incredibly proud and a bit sad.  The utter magic of her wee Christmas’s is over, but I trust we (all who love her) are up for the challenge of keeping Christmas magic alive for her.  After all, I’m thirty-six and my parents have done an amazing job of keeping it alive for me!  Cancer and growing up are giving my sweet girl the double-punch these days, so I am really excited for her to just be eight and dazzled this holiday.  My sweet, sweet big girl is feeling lonely in her woe; she tells me her prayers feel unheard, her heart feels unknown.  Her feelings are completely valid, and I’d love it if you could pray that she would learn to know just how much God loves her.  She. Is. Amazing. and she is having a hard time seeing it.

Like me, Maren is a gifter.  I love gifts and am super sentimental with things; it’s never about the “thing”, it’s about the story or person behind it.  I gift all the time.  When I buy Greta new undies on vacation because I forgot to pack her some (happened twice this year–what is up with that?), I tell her “Look, I got your favorite color because I love you so much and I’m so proud of what a good listener and intelligent girl you are!”  When I buy Maren the perfect pair of soft-jeggings-that-look-like-jeans after a multi-month hunt, I tell her: “I loved buying this for you because I love your taste, style, and beauty.  It makes me proud to see you confident in who you are and what you wear.”  Maren was either born with the gifting gene or is modeling after me; I’m not sure which.  I love that she is wanting to give and thinking about how to give and share.

 

I’m in awe of the blessings in my life.  I pray that I would steward these many blessings to glorify God this holiday season.

11 comments

  1. such a sweetness in your writing and always adds something special to my day…I think Maren is modeling after you in so many ways..which is an awesome thing.

    Sorry I missed all of you at Thanksgiving. Dang it.

    Wishing you much joy for all of you during this holiday season.

  2. Hi Jen,

    So happy for your neighbors who love you so well. It warms my heart. :)

    I think of you so often and pray continually for you, your girls, your family. This is really hard and I can sense the heaviness of it while you’re trying to stay positive. Your light shines, Jen. In spite of this hard, just you being who you are is enough. You. Radiate.

    Let your light shine before men that they may see … and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matt 5:16

    Much love and hugs to you and your girls and family. <3 :)

  3. I always find a quiet moment to read your latest post. You are an amazing example of the godly, selfless mom I strive to be. Praying from Seattle!

    Psalm 55:22
    Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

  4. I have been following your blog since I learned of your story through Momastery years ago. Thank you so much for sharing your story and eloquence with the world. From your writing, it is clear that your children are so wildly loved for exactly who they are, and I strive to parent my children so they feel the same way. This Minnesota Mom is praying fiercely for you.

  5. Oh, how I wish I could give you perfect health and the peace that would come from that to Maren. I am spilling tears at reading that she doesn’t feel like God hears her prayers or knows her heart. Oh, baby girl… He does. He does.
    I’m so grateful that you have neighbors and friends there to create magic for you. May that loving kindness be known and felt in your hearts and home this Christmas.

    “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” -Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)

  6. ShannonK /

    I love you sweet Jen! Your family is blessed to have you and your perspective on life!

  7. Lori6NV /

    Praying that Maren can feel the prayers and love from all across the country. What a strong, brave, wonderful girl. And G is such a sweetie. Wishing you all a magical holiday.

    • Rita O'Brien /

      Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas.

  8. Newbyfriend /

    Sending warm hugs. Love you Jen.

  9. Jen, I declare that our God will always get the glory in your story. As you live out your life, through it’s ups and downs, and highs and lows, He will always get the glory. I declare that your girls will know their Heavenly Father hears them, loves them, and they will rest secure in this knowledge. They will have an anchor in Him. The waves may crash and the wind may blow, but they will hold fast to Him and HE will hold tightly to them. They will not be pulled out of His grasp. Your life will always be a testimony to His goodness, His provision, His love, His glory. Darkness will not win. With much love, Karin

  10. Jen, I declare that our God will always get the glory in your story. As you live out your life, through its ups and downs, and highs and lows, He will always get the glory. I declare that your girls will know their Heavenly Father hears them, loves them, and they will rest secure in this knowledge. They will have an anchor in Him. The waves may crash and the wind may blow, but they will hold fast to Him and HE will hold tightly to them. They will not be pulled out of His grasp. Your life will always be a testimony to His goodness, His provision, His love, His glory. Darkness will not win. With much love, Karin