Camping

WHO KNEW camping would be just like riding a bike? The boys and I went on our first camping trip last weekend and absolutely had a blast! We met with my sister (33 weeks pregnant) and her family in Minot for a weekend in a couple of tents.

Let me remind you, it’s been over 25 years since I stepped foot in a tent…the boys have never slept in a tent…and my sister is about to give birth. Thank God for her amazing husband!!

I cannot find the focus to write about all of our adventures right now (or at all lately for that matter) but wanted to stop in and let you know that life is full of ups and downs.

Lord, I know you hear my prayers…I feel your hand on my heart when I speak them, write them, think them. I do ask for some pretty ‘big ask prayers’ and am so humbled that you continue to answer them.

Your love for me is overwhelmingly comforting. As I teach my children to take their cares to you, I see them grow in confidence and ability.

Thank you.

Lord, continue to provide financial resources as the work I am doing as been less than consistent. Although I live in financial fear, I am confident the struggle is almost over.

Lord, as my Grandpa John spends his final days with family and loved ones, thank you for the opportunity for him to make me laugh on the phone last week…that’s exactly how I want to remember him. Continue to keep him relatively comfortable and pain free.

Lord, keep your hand on my boy’s shoulders so they continue to have the strength and hope to speak their minds when they perceive they have been done wrong. Help to keep them from becoming bitter or angry as they grow. Teach them the only truly perfect parent is you, and that you understand their struggles.

For all the prayers that I can’t put in to words…I await your answers.

Amen

This Could Get Interesting

The ex signed the boys up for Summer Rec baseball in the town where he lives. I am glad to see them involved and enjoying it.

Today after their game, B1 called to tell me they lost and said that B2 played right center field (whatever that means) and that when a kid hit the ball to him he forgot to throw it in and instead ran to the home plate from the outfield…and BEAT the kid!! He told me “…his tiny legs were going so fast Mom…”  Apparently the batter was B1’s age or older (9) and B2 is only 6! LOL

But I digress…as usual

Summer Rec takes place beginning at 9 am and for away games the bus sometimes leaves as early as 7:45. I am now working in the town where I live. I made it clear to the ex that I would not be able to get them to ball when they are with me due to my schedule and was willing to exchange parenting time so that the boys stayed exclusively with him through the ball season and I would exercise parenting time every other weekend. When ball finishes up, I would take the boys exclusively to make up for the time I missed with him exercising every other weekend through that time.

Although the divorce decree clearly states it is the responsibility of the parent with parenting time to provide transportation to and from the children’s activities, it also states that the parties are to work together in the best interests of the children.

I was told what my duties as a parent were when we exchanged the kids yesterday (to get them to baseball during my time) and a few other things…apparently I don’t know how to read or understand the divorce decree “…as it says right in there…” And right in front of the boys…good one dad…good job motherfucker.

This morning I sent the following email to the parenting time expeditor and the ex:

This email is regarding the boys playing summer rec baseball in Dad’s town.
 
I understand that it is reasonable for the boys to be involved every week with their friends and team in this sport. Up until this last week there had been no issue with the boys missing the week they are with me due to my work schedule. They understand that there are things that are not the same when mom and dad are divorced and living in different towns.
 
I also believe it is in the boys best interest that I remain employed to support them. My current work schedule prevents me from taking a minimum two and a half hours off three or four days per week.
 
I am still offering to switch parenting time so the boys spend the weekdays in Dad’s town so they don’t have to miss any baseball games or practices (I offered this when they were first signed up). I will continue every other weekend parenting time through those weeks and will then make up my weeks missed after the season is over; allowing parenting time with Dad every other weekend during that time.
 
I do not think it reasonable to be told what my duties as a parent are while exchanging the children in Exchange Location as happened during the exchange Sunday, July 6, 2014 in front of the children. While I understand the court decree states it is the parent who has parenting time’s responsibility to transport the children to their activities, it is sometimes necessary to make changes for the best interests of the children as it is the CHILDREN’S time, not the parent’s which is the priority.
 
Mom
 
I have no idea what will come of this…I just don’t need the threat of being taken to court over Summer Rec baseball or whatever the next petty thing he comes up with…
 
With our parenting time expeditor, we are to try and make these decisions on our own, amongst ourselves but include him in the emails we exchange so he can have all necessary info if and when he needs to make a decision.
 
Will I miss the heck out of the kids when they are with Dad and I only get every other weekend??? You know I will…I will also make sure our weekends are full of mini golf, fishing, bike rides, adventures, and cool stuff to enjoy every minute of what time we have.
 

Powerful Prayers (part 1)

If I have learned anything over the last seven years it is the amazing power of prayer. I have spent a significant amount of time examining my prayer life this last year and especially in the last few months since teaching a Sunday School lesson on it to children in grades 1 – 5. The lesson taught kids that God answers EVERY prayer and that there are three possible answers; yes, no, and wait. The pre-elementary class started a prayer chain (paper chains often made in school). Children tell the teacher their prayers and the teacher adds it to the chain. I am going to start this at home because it is easy to forget just what we pray for and it would be amazing to have a visual reminder of God’s greatness surrounding us at all times. The teacher has the chain hanging around the classroom…I am going to start one today and have it surround our living room. How better to remind the boys and visitors to our home how very important prayer is.

After making the decision to increase the prayer in our life, we received a text from a good friend (she doesn’t have a nickname yet…I’ll think of one). She asked for prayers as she was going to take some tests. That very moment I told the boys that we received a prayer request, we turned of the tv, sat together and prayed for her, her family, for each other, and for the rest of our day.

By doing this as soon as I got the text I was modeling for them how important prayer was, how serious it was and how easy it was to add it to our day. It was an opportunity to take that first step, an easy step. The boys are absolutely in love with her, her husband (the NextGen Pastor), and their children. Praying for her was a no-brainer.

The sermon that week, her husband was preaching and was talking about how he struggles with taking time to pray. B1 was sitting beside me at the point in his sermon where he asked for our prayers for him adding prayers in to his life by saying something along the lines of, “Every time you think of this beautiful face this week, I ask you to pray.” We were sitting in the front row…and B1 looked at me…giggled, then rolled his eyes. The next day when I was taking them to meet their dad I asked, “What are you guys going to do every time you think of M’s beautiful face this week?” After the sarcasm and giggles they both thought it would be a good idea to try to remember to pray…it’s in their heads, they are half way there.

When I look back over the last seven years I wonder how much more difficult it would have been if I hadn’t had prayer in my life. If I didn’t know how much God loved me as His own…how would I have gotten through them?

When B1 was about a year and a half old I knew I wanted him to have a sibling. I prayed for a sibling for my boy, an addition to our family. In 2007 my fifth pregnancy ended at 13 weeks with a miscarriage. Not long after that I found out I was pregnant again and was told that due to the recent pregnancy loss and subsequent surgical procedure, my body would not be able to support a pregnancy.

Prayer was a part of my life, yet not a huge part…something I did on Sunday at church.

I made it through the first trimester of my sixth pregnancy trouble free. Then without warning, at 12 weeks 2 days gestation I had a partial abruption with ruptured membranes. I was told that if my baby survived the night I would be lucky. During the ultrasound the next day the baby was showing no signs of stress and my fluid level was near normal.

I was offered a D & C that day and counseled that my options were to have it done immediately or to be discharged from the hospital and allow the baby to either die on its’ own or for infection to set in (due to the ruptured membranes) and require surgery to remove the, “…products of conception.” This wasn’t products of conception…this was my baby. If born that week, it would have fit in to the palm of my then 2 year-olds hand and would be a fully formed baby…we could have counted the fingers and toes.

I told the doctor and the nurse who is in charge of the infant bereavement program that this was my last pregnancy and that I was going to enjoy being this baby’s mom as long as God let me. I don’t think I have ever been so scared…yet able to be calm. I knew that if I began crying, the sobbing would be enough to cause my baby to be born. God’s love surrounded me, my faith began to take shape in a way I could not have predicted. My baby was given a 0% chance at surviving. Zero…nothing…no hope.

Instead of being overcome with grief I made the decision that I did not want the final days of my child’s life to be filled with hopeless sadness. I also did not want B1 and Darling Diva to be sad about the baby. I wanted us to enjoy every minute God gave us. We continued to talk to the baby, reading books, belly rubs, everything we could think of to make the last days as close to perfection as we could.

As the minutes turned to hours and the hours to days, no fever developed (the first sign of infection we were told to be looking for). On a return visit to the doctor at the end of the week a repeat ultrasound showed that a clot from the abruption had been retained at apparently the spot where the membranes had ruptured and my fluid levels had returned to normal…the baby was showing no signs of distress, and measuring appropriately.

A running joke now is that I said I would enjoy every minute of this child’s life until God decided his time on earth was through…and now that he is 6 and full of piss and vinegar…I’m still waiting!!! Of course I would be lost without my Miracle Man.

For 23 weeks I remained on bed rest…six months. I prayed, I cried, I hoped. At 35 weeks gestation, after a diagnosis of a pregnancy induced clotting disorder, daily needles, medications every 4 hours around the clock, and a liver condition that nearly took us both…I delivered a perfectly healthy little man. That, my friends, is the power of prayer.

Today I am going to get paper for our prayer chain…so we can see the prayers we have prayed and to remind us of the ones that were answered with either a yes or no. I also believe this will encourage us to continue to pray for the ones we are waiting for answers on.

 

 

 

A Bit of Everything

June 7, 2014

First, let me apologize for my lack of focus in my writing as of late. Not having internet at home is my excuse…I know, it’s not even a good one. I have a word processor on my computer; all I have to do is write when at home and post when at the library or somewhere else I can get an internet connection.

I have so many thoughts to process and as you may have noticed, processing them in real time as I blog has been extremely therapeutic. I guess you could say that you all are my shrink…and I hope you charge on a sliding fee scale!!

Summer vacation has started for the boys and we are beyond thrilled. The first week of no school was my scheduled week. We went on a tour of the Arctic Cat manufacturing plant where we watched them build snowmobiles and wildcats (ATV production was down that day). The boys absolutely loved it.

I worked at Arctic when I first moved to Minnesota. I was there from 2000 – 2003 when I took a job that did not have a seasonal layoff. I worked the new job until B1 was born and returned to work in 2011 when I was told I was getting a divorce.

Walking through the plant, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was nervous to see people who I hadn’t seen in years. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was like walking through the door of a friend’s house. So many people approached us from their work stations to say hi and chat for a few minutes. The tour guide we had was somebody who has only been at Arctic for a few years and had no idea who I was and was a great sport of showing the boys things while I was reacquainted with several coworkers.

One of my old bosses even stopped and chatted. I introduced him to the boys and told B1, “He was my boss and I always listened to him.” Of course B1 gave me that look and I told him it was before he was born, I was different then! Thankfully the boss backed me up and told the boys how great of a worker I was. He asked if I was taking them on a scare tactic tour…go to school or end up working here.

The next day I stopped back and filled out my application. I would love to return to work there. One of the things I enjoyed was the winter lay-off. It usually ran from December through March which wouldn’t bother me one bit!! I would prefer to go return to the welding department, but will spend a season on the assembly line if necessary.  Starting wage is almost $15/hr plus profit sharing. Of course all of this hinges on my green card renewal.

As of April 30th, the National Benefits Processing Center was processing applications from October 9. My official application date is January 6 so my best guess at this time is mid-August before I receive my new card.

Financially this will be a pinch…I get my final unemployment check this week. I have been extremely disciplined with my money and have enough cash to pay July rent. We get SNAP benefits (food stamps) so food is not an issue. The only financial concerns right now are the registration is due on my vehicle and my driver’s license is also expired. Paying my rent is more important than these things, and the boys and I don’t mind riding bikes around town. My first paychecks will be to catch up on those expenses and just get back on our feet. If I can work a 40 hour week I can bring home over $400…it wouldn’t take long to not only be back on our feet, but secure again.

I love to fantasize about money and make goals. Just thinking about going back to work is exciting for me. The idea of being able to not worry for a minute about paying bills as well as being able to do some new and exciting things with the boys. To be able to work through the week and take road trips on the weekends and plan for vacations would be great fun.

I can go back to making want lists…who am I kidding, I already have one started in my head:

  • Camping gear
    • Tent
    • Sleeping bags
    • Cooking essentials
    • Binoculars
  • Full set of cutlery (I still only have the 4 each of spoons, forks, and knives that I took when I moved out)
  • Fishing tackle (our new favorite pastime)
  • Keurig  or Bunn coffee machine
  • A week in Florida with my kiddos
  • Quarterly family visits (parents, sister, niece and nephew, Etc.)
    • Ok…this can be semi-annual but no less than that.
  • New shoes (the pair I wear now are three years old and starting to show their age)
  • A two bedroom apartment or house to rent (or three if the price is right)
  • New bikes for all of us
  • Newer car (no need for a minivan with only three of us)
  • Bigger book shelf (when we get a bigger place)
  • A savings account with $3000

See, I have no problem with spending money when I do have it; I also have no problem holding off when I don’t have it.

I’ll keep you up to date on the job, the green card, and the rest of life as it happens.

Backing Away

I wrote a preliminary ‘resignation’ type letter to the overseer of the Celebrate Recovery program…I haven’t sent it yet, but I did let the current leaders know I would not be attending tonight.

I know my role there is small, yet I feel the need to completely step away. It is not a good fit for me and part of being healthy is to know when you have given all you can and when it is time to walk away.

There are some things I just can’t do and trying to overhaul that program is definitely one of them. I believe I have the talent and the tools, I just don’t have the resources (people and time wise) to make it happen.

I would rather see a bible study group (what we call our GPS groups) for people in recovery. For our transient population it would be a better fit. We have a mixed generation group, a young families group, a newcomers group, why not a recovery group?

For now I will leave it on the back burner…WAY on the back burner. But I will not forget it.

 

Commitments

Currently I am still not working outside the home (but will have to start soon). Still waiting for my new Green Card so I can replace my missing social security card so I can get a job. I am still teaching Sunday School (Creation Station) at least twice a month, I serve as worship host once or twice a month (make coffee and put the treats out), cook a meal for the youth group once or twice per month (supper for 20+ people), am a member of the NextGen Think Tank team (we are the planners and visionaries for the family ministry of the church), plus I attend and help to lead the Celebrate Recovery meeting on Friday evenings. When I think about how much I do in an hourly view it’s not much, but the commitment is significant when I think about adding in a full time job.

Especially with summer and everything else the boys and I have going on. I want to be able to focus my time in areas that not only helps us grow as a family, but in ways that serve God and helps other families find their strengths and overcome their shortcomings (perceived or real).

I think the first commitment that I am going to be stepping away from is Celebrate Recovery. It’s a great program and a wonderful tool for those with habits, hurts, and hang ups (yes I realize that every person falls in that category). There are issues with this group that are far too big for me to handle at this point. There needs to be a significant overhaul of the program and I can see that the current leaders are indeed trying to make change I unfortunately cannot make the time/energy commitment to make the necessary changes to make the program as effective as I think it can be at our church. It’s almost as if the program needs to be stopped and restarted…but I don’t know if that is a good idea with the population we serve.

As an integral member of our NextGen team, I think it is a much more valuable use of my time and talents to scale back the areas outside of family ministry so that as our church grows (which it is exponentially) I can continue to serve with ease in the areas I am currently serving in.

The area where we live has a sadly broken population. Broken homes, broken families, broken people. If we aim to make a difference in these families we must be willing and able to dig deep in to their lives on a personal and spiritual level. As I typed that I realized that I would love to ‘teach’ families how to pray together. As much as I strive to serve God, I am terrible at praying as a family. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to sit down with your family for a quick prayer session? How cool would it be to be out for coffee with a friend and say a prayer together.

How much stronger our families would be if we were comfortable praying openly and often. I think this is something I am going to take on as my personal mission.

Yesterday the Lunch Lady and the Milk Man moved away. I could not have gotten through the last year without their love, support, friendship…I know we will always have a bond that no distance can break, I only wish the distance wasn’t so far.

It is time for people to start praying together outside of the walls of the church. In our homes, in our cars, with our families, friends, loved ones…it’s just time to pray. No more awkward silences, no more ‘searching for the right words’ in a difficult situation. A simple, “Let’s pray” is all it takes to start a new world for so many broken people.

Expeditor

No idea when life got so busy…but it has lately.

My divorce is final, the papers arrived in the mail on Saturday last week. FINALLY FINAL.

Custody is legally and physically 50/50 which means we are both granted equal decision making and parenting time with the boys. We were also ordered a parenting time expeditor which is a person who will make decisions on the boys behalf that is in their best interests. Although I believe that what I ask of the expeditor will eventually be the outcome, the fact of having to go through a mediator to make simple decisions is so unbelievably childish in my opinion.

First up…summer vacation. The boys are finished school today and I have requested (for over a month now) to change the visitation schedule from weekly to biweekly (two weeks with each parent). This cuts down on transitions for the boys and allows for easier scheduling and such.

To date I have received no answer. I keep getting “I’ll think about it” from their dad. Today I sent the request to the expeditor. He will review my request and then contact the ex for his response. We also have to PAY for this service…billed in 10 minute increments at $150/hr. Anybody else see the ridiculousness of the situation? We have to pay a stranger $150/hr to make decisions on how the kids should spend the summer???

It will be nice to have a third party involved…maybe I am completely off base when it comes to what is right/reasonable for the boys. I’m willing to be told that from a neutral party. I also have a significant request I will go straight to him with as I know the other parent will vehemently deny that idea. That will get extremely ugly…not looking forward to that.

The expeditor has the ability to make binding decisions…it can only mean great things for the boys.