Dream chasing

Jan 30

You know, I live a pretty great life.  I love it. Lately, though, I’ve been in the business of dreaming.  Not all of my dreams are about my kids and my husband… some dreams are… just mine.  It feels selfish and decadant to wish these dreams, but I know that my dreams are essential to preserving my Jen-ness.  And my kids and my husband are rather attached to my Jen-ness, so I need to keep it. On the same day I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, I discovered that I have a passion for writing.  It’s a great example of “life is brutiful”: the magnificent and the ugly, squashed together. So, I’ve been dreaming… And funny things are happening… Funny Thing Day #1:  Last weekend, my parents came over for a casual night of pizza and hanging out.  They brought with them a gift from my Australian relatives.  The mob from Down Under banded together and bought me a new computer.  Just because they love me so.  It’s no strings attached (because that’s the kind of family we are), but it’s a gift so that I can write.  I am so blessed and they are so ridiculously incredible. Funny Thing Day #2: On Sunday, my friend passed me three times at church.  Each time he met my eyes and said, “Have I told you that you should write a book?”  He was flippant and funny, because that’s how he is, but it was another drop in the bucket of evidence that I should write. Funny Thing Day #3: In the Chemo Room on Monday, I was talking to one of my favorite couples.  They are in their seventies, and what I hope Brad and I are like as senior citizens.  She is the fragile but brave patient, he is the everpresent pillar of strength at her side.  We’ve had half a dozen conversations over the past months, mostly offering encouragement: you can do this cancer thing.  I’ll be praying for you.  See you next week.  Mid-conversation on this day, the husband interrupts his wife (uncharacteristic) and tells me, “I feel I need to tell you it is really important that you write.” Me, “Urm, yes, okay.  I do...

Read More

Write out loud

Jan 10

I write because it’s how I process.  I step away from each post with a sense of closure, a feeling that I am content, and resolute in my goals.  Good or bad, writing it down always helps me get to a place of peace.  I fight hard for peace; everything is better when I am peaceful (just ask Brad).  Writing has always been enjoyable for me, and now, in this season of life, I have more purpose in my words than ever before.  It feels good. I plan on continuing to write, and I do hope that you, my people, continue to read.  In writing about my life, I feel a togetherness in being a part of yours.  An unexpected blessing of blogging has been the camaraderie I feel with the people who comment; there have been days where the words in the comment section have buoyed my spirits remarkably.  Thank you readers, thank you. I’m interested in developing my blog beyond the generic format I have going on here.  While it is the words, and the heart behind them, that the most important, I’d like it to be more organized.  I’d like to be able to search better.  I’d like it to look interesting.  I’d like it to be a better representation of me.  I’d like to engage in a back and forth dialogue with readers–or rather, friends, as I think of you.  A teensy problem with this is that I have no idea how to do any of it.  It is a small miracle that I was even able to initiate a generic blog, and I find that my random investigative clicks in the admin panel are getting me nowhere. I’ve looked into gaining some web development skills, but I quickly got overwhelmed.  I am one of the Dummies that those books are marketing to, yet I can’t even figure out which book to buy.  I don’t understand the jargon in the reviews, so that’s not helpful.  Googling is useful for “where to buy bunk bed mattress,”  not so much “how to learn complex web skills during very short nap time of small child.” Are you a web developer who is interested in helping me make my corner...

Read More

Finding fabulous

Dec 14

Sometimes I remember that I had cancer, and I am in danger of recurrence.  My chest constricts, my heart starts to pound, I blink, I tell myself to breathe, and I physically rotate my shoulders back to force the weight of the cancer to roll off and away. After shaking it off, I lift my chin, I step away from the fear, and I go do something fabulous.  You know, like the dishes.  Because I have perspective that it is a privilege to do my life and wash my family’s dishes.  Fabulous, even. Sometimes, more often, I remember that I am cancer free.  My heart swells, my face glows, I inhale gratitude and peace, and I soak in the truth that I. am. free.  I mentally turn my face to the sun, raise my arms, and twirl until I’m dizzy.  Because I know joy.  A smile spreads over my face and I revel in the sensation of life and laughter and living. After I’m not dizzy any more, I go do something fabulous.  (Again.) No matter what day, or moment, I’m having, I always fight for the fabulous...

Read More

Our little gift tradition

Nov 17

I’ve had several friends start asking: what are you doing for the holidays this year?  We, as with most young families, are finding our footing on how we are going to celebrate our past traditions while making meaningful holiday memories for our own young families. Last year, I wrote up a small article about how Brad and I do our gift-giving within our immediate family.  I thought I would share it here.  The tradition has forced us to be thoughtful and intentional with “stuff” we buy at Christmastime.  I love gifts.  Gifts are a big love-language for me.  I love to give them, I love to get them–what can I say?  It’s always the thought behind it that I appreciate.  Here’s the article I wrote and shared with a few people last year: Christmas Somethings In 2010, my family changed the way we approached Christmas.  Our little family was just a trio: our daughter, the first grandchild on both sides, and the two of us.  My husband and I both have large, generous, loving extended families. We both have warm, full traditions (that continue today) sharing Christmas with our loved ones.  Our parents, now grandparents to our children, continue to bless us with Christmas gifts each year, and also delight in gifting to our children.  Separately, we share in his family’s traditions and my family’s traditions.  It is easy, fun and joy-filled to continue to share in these extended family celebrations and to enjoy alongside them the pleasure of gift-giving and receiving.  And yet we found ourselves wanting to carve out a little bit of Christmas for ourselves.  It was with incredulity that we asked each other: “more Christmas?”  Our craving wasn’t about stuff, or extravagance, or a dollar amount, or any ‘thing.’  We wanted a deep breath, a moment; we wanted memories for us and for our children. This wish is a burden shared by almost every young family we know. And so the Christmas Somethings were born.  Each year, my husband and I have decided that we will give gifts to each other and to our children that follows this theme: Something you want, something you need, something special and something to read.   Want: It can be anything you want, as...

Read More

Being and seeing

Nov 13

Sometimes people for sorry for me. But you know what? I don’t feel sorry for me.  (So please, please, please don’t feel sorry for me.) I kind of feel blessed and lucky and happy and joyful most of the time.  (I’m not perfect: I want things, I worry, I make excuses.)  But, truly: I am happy. I ache–physically ache–for people who don’t feel blessed and happy and joyful most of the time. I know that my peace and contentment is due largely to my faith.  I decided one day: Yes, I believe in Jesus.  He is what I need.  And with the perspective of eternity and faith, everything seems more doable.  Breathing is easier.  Some people are able to conjure peace and contentment without God, however, that’s not how it went for me.  And I do believe that it is my faith in God that has provided me with a shield of protection.  At no time have I felt “I can’t do this” or “Why me?”.  Those thoughts would be normal for someone in my circumstances, or for anyone else facing difficult circumstances.  Instead I choose to fill my head and heart with the truth rather than the shortfalls of humanity.  I think that my life has been preparing me for this: I can do this.  Even, I am joyful in spite of the hard things around me. At the end of the day, good days and bad, I’m Jen.  I choose to believe that I’m living out what God has for me.  And, on a good day, I lay my head on the pillow at night knowing that I did today well.  I honored God, and in so doing, I glorified every. single. person. I encountered that day.  And that is why I am happy.  It’s not about me.  It’s about being and seeing the Jesus around me for other people.  I found happiness outside of myself. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.  — Luke...

Read More

A Smile

Jun 20

I’m sitting here in my bed, computer open, watching So You Think You Can Dance.  I am being totally frivolous and lazy and it feels good. I keep getting goose bumps.  Oddly frequently.  Also, the tumor site is tingling from time to time.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Active, restless, swarming O B L I T E R A T I O N ! Thank you for your prayers.  I believe I am being healed even as I type.  :: Grin ::  Thank you God. Smile on, people.  Smile....

Read More