Down…Not Out

Late in 2013, I was brought to my knees with hardship. Thanks to my faith, I was able to put one foot in front of the other to get through it in one piece. Instead of accepting the thought that my situation was hopeless, I had the strength to carry through the worst days.

Last week I was feeling some stress when thinking about my upcoming weeks. When thinking about each individual challenge I am facing, it is easy to not become overwhelmed. When I think about everything at once, I am overcome with panic. Here are a few of the stressors coming up.

  • Unemployment hearing

  • Divorce mediation

  • 40th birthday

  • Thyroid surgery

The unemployment hearing is related to a week I was deemed to be ineligible for benefits as I missed an appointment due to illness…yes, the one day I had an office visit to make I woke up with a raging fever. I will probably not win the appeal, but I figure I had to at least try. That hearing is Monday.

On Tuesday I have to drive 120 miles to attend a mandated divorce mediation session. I don’t care about anything other than getting my boys full time. He can have everything else. I will not just roll over and take nothing, but am willing to give it all up in the unlikely event that he allows me full custody.

On Wednesday I turn 40. Not a big deal. I’ve never hidden my age so this is not necessarily a stressor in itself. The boys and I had planned on going out for supper at the same place we went for Valentine’s Day. B1 was looking forward to ordering his first steak.

The following week, April 15, I am scheduled for Thyroid surgery. I have non-toxic complex multi-nodular goiter. Kind of a big deal; the surgeon plans to remove the entire left lobe, isthmus, and most of the right lobe of my thyroid gland. There is a possibility that the remains of my right lobe will produce enough thyroid hormone as to not require lifetime medications. There is also a chance that the pathology comes back with cancer and the surgeon will have to go back in and remove the remainder of the right lobe. Those are the best/worst case scenarios.

As you can see, I have a lot going on. I was dealing with each issue as well as can be expected. I’m prepared for each event and confident that each will turn out ok. A few people have mentioned that they could never deal with half of what I deal with when learning of my upcoming weeks.

Imagine if they knew the rest of the story…

Wednesday of last week I was given notice that because my green card expiration date has passed, my unemployment benefits are being held. There is a backlog in processing so although I filed for my new card in plenty of time ahead of the expiration date, the official status is expired. I have been in contact with both immigration and unemployment and (as you can imagine) getting anywhere with these two agencies is like running through molasses in November.

On Thursday of last week I was asked to return the smart phone I’ve been using. I had initially been told I could keep it indefinitely as long as I continued to pay for any overage in data use; a change in circumstances has made this no longer an option.

Normally, the phone wouldn’t be a big deal. I could just reactivate my old phone on the pay as you go plan I was using. With the hiccup in unemployment payments I have zero income and only $10 to my name.

I shared my situation with a friend of mine, and she emptied her purse. The money will insure that I have enough gas for the driving I have to do this week.

I am disappointed to not be able to go out for my birthday with the boys, but there will still be cake and smiles. The best gift for my birthday is just the fact that I get to spend the day with my boys.

I am returning the phone today, after my hearing. I will be without communication until I can figure out some income.

The Seabee is coming home from Afghanistan soon. The boys and I were getting quite excited for his return. They both had plans to take him to school for show and tell…he is their hero. Unfortunately, my mouth has ruined this for them. While talking to him last week I threw a hissy fit.  When he said, “I’ll talk to you later.” I told him to not bother. My apologies for taking my stress out on him fell on deaf ears; as it deserved to. Here he is…6000 miles from family and friends for nearly a year and a half, close to coming home, under a mountain of pressure to get his mission accomplished…and I’m throwing a temper tantrum because he can’t get his computer to work. I haven’t told the boys yet that I ran their hero off…not looking forward to that conversation.

At this time, I am making the choice to actively submit to my circumstances. I know that this will pass. I have faith that God provides. I also know that I have to do my share of the heavy lifting. I find it interesting how God has no problem taking me out at the knees when I start to feel ten feet tall.

I have humbly shared the depths of my circumstances with only three people outside of this blog. Being able to share the extent of the situation eased my stress much more than I could have imagined. I am a little surprised that I was able to express my vulnerability. With the deception and betrayal I have dealt with over the last few years, allowing people access to my extreme vulnerability was actually empowering. It has made me focus on what my immediate needs actually are.

It is very humbling when people ask how they can help to actually have an answer. It’s easy to just ask for prayers, it’s much more humbling to make it known that I have until May 1 to come up with $410 for rent, that I need $35  to activate a phone, and that my gas needs are ongoing with the custody situation as it is.

I am confident this is only a temporary situation. My focus right now is doing the things that are within my power.

Lord, thank you for reminding me that I am not in control. I humbly submit to your will and accept that my life is in your hands. As my Heavenly Father, protect and never leave me alone.

Continue to watch over Seabee and his coworkers and help them to keep their focus as their mission is completed and they look forward to reunions with loved ones. Make their journey home swift and safe.

Please help me to focus on the best interests of the boys during mediation and not my selfish wants.

Guide my surgeon and his team during my upcoming surgery.

Thank you for the blessings in my life; healthy kids, a close family, faithful friends, a roof over my head, and food in our stomachs. Amen


Some Big Things

I had a minor breakdown the other day. After visiting with my sister and her family for two days, the boys had two snow days from school and therefore I was blessed to spend an extra two days with them at my house. I love when I get extra days. Tuesday when I sent the boys to the bedroom to get dressed B1 was screwing around, B2 started crying…and I lost my temper.

I apologized, but that did not take away the hurt from B1′s heart…sticks and stones are nothing compared to the disappointment from a parent. I posted my disappointment at myself on Facebook and received much support. I was told to cut myself some slack, that perfect parents don’t (and shouldn’t) exist.

That’s when it hit me that I may be under just a little bit of stress. In the upcoming two weeks I have a meeting with the Unemployment office on Monday, divorce mediation on Tuesday, my fortieth birthday on Wednesday, and surgery the following Tuesday. The next day the youth Pastor saw me and said, “Did I see you have like a ton of major life events all going on at once?”

I guess I do; thankfully I have the ability to compartmentalize issues as individual issues and not that my entire universe is falling apart around me. Individually they will all happen, independent of each other and whether I like it or not.

I took a minute to go through each of the upcoming situations, make sure each one was being addressed appropriately, and moved on with my day. I can’t let the weight of the world squish me into the dirt. I don’t have time for that. I really am a lot stronger than I game myself credit for a year ago when I first moved out of the house and thought my world was ending. the only difference is that now I understand how strong I am, I understand that my ‘rock star’ status was well earned. I may not be a star, but definitely a rock.

The only way to remain a rock, and to not crumble is with the people I have surrounded myself with. I couldn’t do this without the people who make me feel normal to have so much going on. The Lunch Lady and the Milk Man, the Photographer, the Seabee, my baby sister, my mom…each of them has, in their own way, saved my life this last year. There are others who have helped along the way…too many to mention, and as I build my life on this new solid ground I have found the people I am surrounded by is still sorting itself out. I am finding my new friends, my new life. I am happy.

I’d appreciate prayers for a peaceful mediation session, and a successful surgery.



Spending the weekend with my sister, her husband, their daughter and the boys in Minot this weekend (approximate half way point between us). I am already exhausted, even volunteered for nap duty with B2 and my niece…gotta take one for the team now and then! (Oh the hardship)

They are all in the pool now and I’m on the sidelines. The emotional/physical exhaustion is high and I need to pace myself. The kids, myself and my brother-in-law were all swimming together last night (until nearly 11pm).


Every year for the last four or five years the Lenten season has always been a special time for the kids and I. On Ash Wednesday we start a Lenten devotional and start our vegetable seeds indoors. With the boys being with their dad for Ash Wednesday this was not an option this year. They did take the children’s devotional provided by our church to their dad’s house, but have reported that their dad does not do it with them. We also are not sure where we can have garden space so I decided on container gardening for this year.

Yesterday we planted some spinach, carrots and cucumbers. The carrots we planted in clear soda bottles so we can watch the roots develop…they found the idea quite appealing. It will be interesting to say the least.

I have always used Lent as a time for deeper prayer. I have never been much for giving up something for Lent. This year…so much has changed.

I am journaling about my struggles with my choice for this year and will share the edited version when I am ready. I am hoping that this journey is only the beginning of many wonderful things to come.

Some of the difficulty is that it is such a different thought process from what I am used to…I’ll keep you posted,


I don’t have much time to write today as I have to run and grab fruit for the boys after school snack. I started this on our last week together and it was the first thing they asked for when we got home yesterday. Today’s request: grapes, fresh pineapple and strawberries. No problem my loves!!

The ex is causing more problems than ever right now and has again begun to reach into my social circle. It is one of his ways of keeping me isolated. He makes it so miserable for anybody to even try to be my friend or support that it’s easier on everybody if they just walk away.

The Seabee is finally coming home and I can’t wait to see him. It’s still a little while to go, but less than 100 days.

I went skating…yes, ice skating, for the first time in 19 years last Saturday…OMG…talk about cheap therapy and sore muscles!! I showed the boys a picture that the friend whom I went with took of me on the ice (standing) and now B2 can’t wait to get out there. He said I might have to help him for the first few minutes but then he’ll have it all figured out after that. He has never been on ice skates before!!

I have been actively expanding my social circle lately, accepting invites to lunch, skating, coffee, and visits. Although difficult to step out of my comfort zone as the depression monster fights every step of the way…well worth it every time. Thankfully, the people I surrounded by lately don’t take no for an answer very often. When invited for lunch, I immediately responded that the dining-out portion of my budget had already been used for my Valentine’s Day date. Well, their treat…can’t hardly turn that one down! We talked for over an hour about nothing and everything. I love getting to know people.

I am now part of a support group that at least gets me out of the house one evening a week. I am also joining a class at church that will be held for the first four Monday’s in March titled Discovery. (Two nights down)

I need to write…and keep writing…it’s the only hope.

I am very much praying for peace and wisdom lately…because if I pray for strength, I’m going to need bail money to go with it!!

So thankful for my kiddos…they are so awesomely awesome.

I Discovered…

Yesterday, after many years, I took the 5 Love Languages quiz. I had taken it years ago when I was married and discovered that my love language then was receiving gifts.

For somebody so smart, I sure can be stupid at times.  Here I’ve been thinking my love language is one, when it turns out not only have I moved to a country where that language is rarely spoken, I’ve become fluent in a new language.

My love language now is Quality Time. No longer do love notes, and random gifts talk the loudest to me. The gift of time is by far the clearest way to speak to my heart.

As two of my children are nearly fluent in a language other than their first language, I shouldn’t be surprised that I could as well in terms of love.

As I wrote that last paragraph it occured to me…what if Quality Time was my first language and I learned Receiving Gifts growing up because that’s the language everybody around me was speaking?  

Now that I’ve loved and lost…and am truly free to be myself…what if my first language is coming back to me, like riding a bike.

I am going to explore this new information…and hopefully spend the rest of my life with a man who not only understands, but also knows (or is willing to learn) my language.

We all deserve to feel loved…even me ;)

What I Did

After reading the comment from the previous entry, I decided that it wasn’t that big of a deal, it wasn’t that important. Unfortunately he called wanting to know my decision and I, being put on the spot, asked what was in it for me to give up a night with my boys. He asked what I wanted…then had the nerve to say he had been extremely generous on the other Monday’s by LETTING my keep them, what was in THAT for him he asked. Well, not having to pay almost half of your day’s wages in daycare would be one of the benefits. Well, he didn’t care about that…whatever. A short pissing match ensued and I said he could pick them up Monday morning at 8am.

I knew this was only me being spiteful and not the mom I wanted my kids to ever know. I sent him a text on Sunday afternoon and said that he was welcome to pick them up that night. He picked them up after supper that night.

B1 had a tough week. Saturday morning he had a minor melt down and another on Sunday (after several others during the week). Much of it has been put on the new puppy…his new scapegoat. “I just miss Scooby” is the answer I am usually thrown when he is crying. While I’m sure he does miss his dog, I am also quite confident that missing a pup is not a reason for my child to begin to tell me he wished he’d never been born…but maybe it is.

My first thought was that he wants to go back to dad’s so much because of the dog but cannot bring himself to tell me that as it might hurt my feelings; he’s that kind of kid. His father has adequately fostered that responsibility on his tiny shoulders. B2, on the other hand, doesn’t care where he is right now…as long as the world revolves around him.

So if B2 is caused enough turmoil that he now wishes he’d never been born…was the puppy worth it? Do I allow him to go home days/ hours early? I hate that I am making decisions not necessarily in the best interests of the child, but based on how the ex will twist it for the judge…my poor babies.

Maybe (and I’m just thinking out loud here so please bare with me) I need to allow him to stay at dad’s and then explain to the courts that this new addition is a blatant attempt to back me in to a corner as far as spending time with the kids or making them miserable…and I don’t like the idea of my boys being miserable. I’ll talk with the school counselor and their shrink and see what they think. I think I just answered my own question…but that doesn’t make it any less difficult.

If I could, I would allow them to bring the puppy, but my apartment does not allow pets…not even reptiles.

My heart hurts for these poor kids.