Author Archives: bloominginidaho

Days that become years.

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It would seem that just not too long ago, I was every perception of healthy.  Vibrant, maybe.  Lifelike.  Slowly, things just started to shut off.  Lower tolerance to stress.  To pain.  Less fight.  Fewer emotions.

With a chronic illness like MS, there are no doubt to be emotional and mental battles, trapped in a body that just does not feel well.  On my best day, I have substantial enough pain that I must medicate every couple of hours with both prescription and over the counter meds.  The fatigue comes out of nowhere to collapse the canopies over the top of your perfectly planned days.  It becomes difficult to schedule.  Difficult to see past today.

In February, I had a stomach bug.  I do not vomit.  I am not a vomiteer by nature.  (I totally just made that word up.  Nailed it.)  Wouldn’t you know, that the this flu would hit me, the owner of a flower shop, on the evening and day of Valentine’s.  The thing is, Valentine’s happens once a year.  It’s like the super bowl.  You have to wait a whole season to go at it again if you’re not one of the two teams playing or one of the devoted fans.

So, I start feeling nauseated the afternoon before the big day of love and, to make it even better, this year, this year only, I make a different plan and decide I can make enough flowers in advance to totally wing NOT having to have another florist come on staff.  In theory, and in actuality, it would have worked out perfectly, but I got sick.

Bending over, talking, moving…  all created the sense of nausea.  I was so exhausted from all the hours I had put in before the holiday.  My body ached in places I didn’t realize existed.  It was a true test of God’s stamina and endurance in me.  I worked until three that day and then had to leave my employee and a big group of family and friends in charge to finish the day.  Even though I was so sick, it was such a good day to me (the next day 😉 ).  A major core of the people I love most coming together to help me.  It felt good.

As I recuperated from Valentine’s, I still struggled emotionally and mentally.  I had completed extensive work with my therapist the summer, fall, and some winter before.  We worked a lot on creating a world for me where I felt safe.  I had some worth and some power.  I did put in a lot of time trying to get better from my depression, as much as being a mom, wife, florist, and my budget would allow.  Something was still not clicking, however.

Later in February I would discover that I was really thought to have PTSD.  I had been told this before, but evidently, it didn’t really register.  Silly brain.  The therapist explained to my husband that there are certain triggers that spur my already agitated, anxious body into full battle mode.  As I sat there listening, I felt like such a freak.  Not that she was calling me a freak, but that I really didn’t realize how sick my mind and body were.  Suddenly, nothing became real.  Are any of my feelings real?  Why now?  I was defensive, upset, overwhelmed.  Couldn’t breathe.  I left that appointment early.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed.  I haven’t been back to therapy.

I needed time and space to evaluate things.  To figure out who was safe.  It sounds so silly, but it’s true.  Nowhere in the world feels safe at times, except being alone.

As days faded into weeks, I purchased a great book on trauma, started doing research on PTSD, and started discussing it with some of the people closest to me. It seems that my case is probably complex-PTSD as it was the duration of my childhood.  The trauma occured at critical points in my development and it changed the way my nervous system, my physical and emotional self, my God intended design, would grow and blossom.

Since before my son was born, just over five years ago, I have regressed into a fragment of who I used to be.  I can trace it back now and see where PTSD took over Dana.  Empty and disconnected.  I lost a lot of friendships, could not engage in new relationships and experiences, and have suffered with depression, suicidal thoughts, and more.  I don’t have much of an attention span. I can hardly answer the phone at work and dealing with customers feels like a major ordeal.  Confrontation at any level immediately sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  Criticism at any level immediately sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  Rejection at any level immediately sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  Betraying my trust in the slightest sends me into “CODE RED, find safety.”  What is ‘code red?’  Like, in real life?  This is a real question, as if I heard it in a hospital or grocery store, it might have different meaning.  To me, I’m just sayin’ CODE RED is like, “Immediate danger!  Escape!  Run!  Flee!  Who is safe?”  My heart will be pounding and I will experience something similar to panic.

It is hard to digest that this is what you have become:  A “Code Red” machine.  Always looking for signs of new pain.

In the meantime, my neurologist has consented that she is treating me for Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS), rather than Relapsing Remitting.  There is a new drug selling in Europe, the first drug targeted at PPMS, that has just been approved by the States.  It is still in trial mode, but is expected to be a viable option soon.  It will not fix what damage has been done, but will delay progression.  I can’t help but wonder how the emotional deficits in my life are not to blame for the physical damage that has been done.  Autoimmune disease.  My body physically attacking itself.  I can’t fix the damage of one while ignoring the other.  So much damage.

I hate damage.  I’m at a juncture of what to do with this damage. Some of it is beyond me to heal.  Like, without the mighty hand of a valiant God, I will not get through this.  Where I go from here and how to get there, God please lead me.  Lord, grant me comfort, peace, healing of body and mind and spirit.  Rejuvenate my broken heart, Lord.  Consume my thoughts with you so that I may not destroy the temple you have created.  May I not be held captive to fear.  May God know my heart. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016

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Wow!

That is a perfect summary to my 2016.  Just, “Wow!”

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Mom, Toby, and the kids, my sister, my closest loves.  It was a wild ride, but we made it.

In January of 2016 mom’s 7th cancer occurrence would show up as multiple tumors on MRI scans.  Multiple tumors Idaho doctors would no longer operate on or offer a treatment plan that did not involve death.  They also wouldn’t help us find the next step if we wanted life.

That was a scary place to be.  I love looking back to see how God stepped in and made action happen despite Valentine’s Day at the flower shop followed by an annual February trip to see our long-distance relatives.

We were declined at first.  We were declined treatment by the #1 ranked facility in the United States.  It hurt.  But, again the Lord showed me right what to do and from that point in early February, we were taken care of by the University of California San Diego Moore’s Cancer Center in La Jolla, CA.  Family and friends brought funds together to make the flights, hotels, car-rentals, meals, and love just happen.

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During the week of Mother’s Day mom received invasive surgery to remove 19 tumors (2 were removed in an exploratory laparoscopy a few weeks before, for a total of 21) and she also received HIPEC, an internal chemotherapy body wash.  She made an amazing recovery, an answer to prayers.  Over months she recovered and her improvements pleased our UCSD team at our July check-up.  We enjoyed the zoo and the California beaches with Tate and Tripp on this appointment.

Toby and our oldest, Quincy, went to serve God in the streets of San Francisco with our church youth group, the same time the rest of us were in San Diego.  I can still hear testimonies in my mind of how their week-long trip forever changed lives and hearts in our kids and those who they loved.  Perhaps the most meaningful message they brought back was that in their  intention to reach out to these homeless people, and not to just offer them a sandwich or fill a need, but to look them in the eyes and to talk to them as humans loved by another human and an awesome God…  It brought both people into a state of hope and joy, even just for a moment.

At one point in this mission, the group was confronted by a police officer in park in a rougher neighborhood.  The police officer cautioned the group against being there and encouraged them to leave.  One of the adults with the team of Christian middle schoolers replied to the officer that this is where they wanted to be.  What a revelation.  Looking at the area out of love and not out of fear or disgust.  Quincy was 12 on this trip and it changed her life enough that she pursued baptism on her own.

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Q is a great oldest daughter.  We are blessed.  She fights and argues with her younger sister, as is the process, but overall, she has the heart of a little mama and protects and loves her younger siblings more than she comprehends.  She had good grades the first quarter and amazing grades by the end of the semester, almost all A’s.  She is on the Bible quizzing team for our church.  She is a percussionist in the band and we got to see her play snare drums, big drums, the xylophone, the triangle, and perhaps something else in her few band concerts.  What a fun girl!  She swam on the swim team, played volleyball, basketball, and plans to run  track this spring.  She is definitely more athletic than her mama ever was.  And, so willing to try.  I love that she tries. She seems to have figured out two things the first semester of seventh grade:  she is a girl who gets crushes on boys and she suddenly really cares about her hair.  Whoa.  We’ve all somewhat adjusted.  Toby will probably never really adjust!

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Our middle, Tatem, is still pure sunshine. Thank you, God!  She has her dramatic side, but she brings smiles and light into the home from the moment she wakes up to the moment she sleeps.  She doesn’t complain.  She rarely enters the living room in our home without a cartwheel.  That is, if she is not on her roller blades.  She loves games of all sorts, jiu jitsu with her daddy, and something about “guava juice.”  Tate has a natural heart for animals and she loves her Grizzly dog.  She is in 4th grade this year and delights in school and learning.  She is blessed with a great teacher and she is so social, that we sometimes have to hold her back from jumping out of the car too soon when we pull in to drop her off.  She is a super fun beautiful blonde girl.  I still can’t believe I had a blonde.  Recently, someone asked if Quincy was my daughter.  Then she looked at Tate and said, “Who are you?”  Not like, are you her sister, but like, are you the neighbor girl?

Besides being beautiful, she is naturally athletic, pretty dang smart, very curious, and has used up countless things from our pantry and kitchen to make slime, sludge, cornstarch something, and whatever experiments, she can find online.  I have at least 8 different ice ball concoctions in the freezer and no baking soda.  She gets away with it by telling me, “it’s science, mom.”

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Tripp, who is in preschool, loves science day, too!  He is not the best alphabet learner.  But, it’s coming.  We’re trying some different concepts to see if we can get his little brain to see things the way we do.  He is so smart.  He knows more about technology than most adults.  It is his world, for sure.  As much as it is something most see as negative, it is the world this next generation lives in.  Trying to adjust as parents.  It’s hard.

The Trippster has the best imagination.  Anything can become a toy.  It is most precious to watch him have an imaginary battle or conversation among toys when he doesn’t know you’re watching.  He loves to dress up as power rangers and super heroes.  He loves Godzilla.  He loves the old school black and white Godzilla.  It is bizarre.  It has been consistent.  Last year he wanted a Godzilla birthday.  Birthdays must be very important for four and five year-old’s because he has been planning another Godzilla birthday party for February for quite some time.  Only recently, has it changed to a King Kong birthday.  He almost always pounds his belly when he says, “King Kong.”  He is an amazing little boy.  Tripp has been going to jiu jitsu with his daddy for about a year.  He is learning to love Jesus and says with confidence, “Jesus loves me.”

Tripp had his first kiss this year in the hall at church.  His girl asked her mommy if Tripp could give her a kiss.  Her mommy gave Tripp permission to kiss her on the cheek.  He obliged.  When asked about it in the car he said, “I’m a kisser.  ‘Cause I wike her.  ‘Cause she’s my favorite.”  This boy would melt your heart as he has ours.

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Besides me, of course, and this little cutie girl at church, his favorite person is his Aunt D’Ann.  They speak the same speak.

D’Ann has been so busy working so hard for UPS.  I’ve lost track of the years since she started for them, years ago at the Portland, OR hub, sorting packages.  She transferred to the Boise hub to be closer to mom and the family several years ago.  She has shown growth in management, worked hard as always, and demonstrated loyalty to the company.  This year, D’Ann earned the title of a supervisor, I forget the exact name, but I’m so happy for her.  Her job demands have escalated and I pray that she is able to handle the workload with ease and joy.  It is a big commitment.  She is driving semi-trucks, teaching others to drive them, handling accidents, is the safety inspector…  Her job duties are vast and growing, it seems!

Toby has also had a big year of growth, additional job titles, and more.  He continues to work for HP and ya know, he is some sort of technical consultant, in more of a global capacity, but I couldn’t give you a job title.  He is able to work from home 97% of the time.  He did an amazing job for HP this year and they are lucky to have him.  In addition to HP, Toby became a real, live pastor last winter’ish into spring time.

Bizarre, right?  Those who know and knew Toby, have to know that God is real, because you really would have never thought.  But, here he is, this man of God.  Stepping up, trying to learn to lead our family in the right and gentle ways of the Lord, taking up youth ministry, Christian college classes…  so that those who were maybe in his shoes as a youth, might relate to him and have hope, too.  When I met him, I knew.  I knew he would work with kids later on in life.  Very influential, this man of mine.  Very driven.

Another reflection of this drive:  10 years, or so, of commitment later, Toby also earned his black belt in jiu jitsu this December.  It is a big accomplishment in the world of martial arts.  He lives and breathes jiu jitsu.  It makes him the happiest of all things on the earth!  There isn’t much that can get him away from the mats.  Beyond HP, his ministry, and jiu jitsu, Toby also has to deal with the consequences of having a sick wife who made the choice to buy a flower shop nine years ago.  Yeah, I suppose that’d be me.

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My health has not improved this year.  We wanted to see a more aggressive neurologist, the one who is supposedly #1 in our area, and she declined to see me stating I needed to see a neuromuscular sub-specialist.  Because one of those is in Idaho.

I am being treated for Multiple Sclerosis, but it does seem to be a variant of the disease, coupled with another illness.  My neurologist is treating my symptoms as she can, but I always leave feeling unheard, untreated.  She is doing the best she can, but will admit she will not be able”fix it.”  It is a difficult place to be.  My ribs, chest, and diaphragm are being affected with muscle spasms, contractions, and more.  I wake up and I am unable to bend my torso the left, these days, because it is so tight.  From sleeping.  On the contrary, the more I stand and work, it produces the same stiffness in my abs and back.  I have adjusted my schedule at work to accommodate an afternoon rest/nap.  I am unsure if the shop keeps me going or is pushing me to fall apart.   I question how long I can physically do this.  The flower shop draws me up and out into the world, and perhaps, I would wither away, otherwise.  I am not sure.  I pray for clarity on this almost daily.

I wish my 2016 was as amazing as the others.  I will share, not to compare, but out of desire to be real and vulnerable and authentic.  And, my story of 2016 is amazing, but in a much different way.

I started therapy in July.  Like, psycho-therapy.  I hit a huge wall of depression and darkness and at the same time, was restored to life because God changed my heart that maybe I could be helped.  I could change.  But, I didn’t know how.  So, I went to therapy.

I experienced repeated trauma in my childhood .  And, it started to come out in negative ways.  Thoughts and actions.  I didn’t realize that I viewed the world from the same set of eyes that I viewed the world in as a child, a place to be feared, afraid of, and judged.  I let perceived authority figures in my life, determine if I was good or bad.  I was suffering from a lot of anxiety.  I still struggle with self-esteem and self hatred. At 36.  Don’t people get past this in junior high???  I needed to find a love for myself, not out of arrogance, but out of honor to God’s creation.  I needed to find love for God, not out of fear, but out of reverence and awe.  I think I quit everything I was involved in. I just, I just stopped caring what other people thought, and started working on me and Jesus.

At first it seemed easy, but with time…  With time, you realize just how wonky wired you are, and it gets harder because you have to start rewiring what you’ve always known.  You start capturing the negative thoughts and feelings and correcting them instead of allowing them.  I have hope that perhaps the process of this emotional healing will also bring about physical healing.  There is a lot of intention in what I do.  I have been in a pattern of consistent Bible study, prayer, and meditation.  I have been using music therapy to work healing into the little parts of my brain that I can’t even name.  I have been doing homework on ‘my garden,’ what I will and won’t allow in my space.  I have gained confidence in standing up for myself and most importantly, am raising constant awareness to myself that I am safe.

I didn’t earn a good grade, excel at beating cancer, earn a new job title, or rock at any type of sport.  But, through Bible study, therapy, and more, I have learned that I am the daughter of a Father who loves me and wants me to thrive despite any of my circumstances.  He wants to see me get back up again when I get knocked down. And, He is there with me, and has given me the blessing of family and friends to help me along the way.  I am unsure what 2017 will bring for me.  I am completely open to God’s will changing my life.  He is worthy to be trusted.

God’s will gave us the gift of another Christmas with my mom.  We still pray that He will let her be the miracle and it is the first Christmas of many.  Out of the ashes of what we thought were a tragedy, just one year ago, He brought beauty and light into our lives, instead.  Let this testimony of our year be another stone, another rock to add to the stack of wonderful things He has done.  Let it remind us of His character and his heart’s desire to love His people.  Amen.

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Let Her be the Miracle

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It seems that the dust is settling and nearly four months after getting 19 cancerous tumors removed from her abdomen and being internally bathed in chemotherapy, my mama is somehow…  thriving!  Honestly, when the surgery was all said and done, when we were home from Moore’s Cancer Center in San Diego, when she was recovering near flawlessly, I felt numb.

I’m not sure if it was because I was so close to it.  Sometimes when you’re involved in it, it doesn’t seem as big or dramatic as it is.

I’m not sure if it was because I was so physically burnt out, emotionally desperate, and spiritually thirsty…  but I couldn’t quite accept it as a “miracle.”

Maybe I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The cancer has had a history of coming back.  We had gone from being told that mama was going to die of this cancer in January, to being told in May that this surgery and HIPEC could “cure” her.  With seven re-occurrences of small-intestine cancer over the last 11 years, it’s hard not to expect it to come back.

God has been healing some of those parts of me that worry about things too far in advance.  He’s given me the ability to appreciate and enjoy my time with my mom.  She helps me in the morning at the flower shop now.  My MS is taking a deep toll on my body these days.  The weak leading the weaker.  Can you believe it?  We’re making it work and it’s more meaningful to me, this shop, than it ever has been.  A gift.  A gift of hope, and life, and so mysteriously blessed.  Intertwined with this beautiful story made from ashes and brokenness.

Our lives will continue to include check-ups locally.  Our last appointment with our Idaho cancer doctor was a few weeks ago.  The blood work was amazing.  He smiled after his physical exam of her belly.  He was against us getting this big surgery.  Against this chemotherapy.  Yet, even he smiled when he saw her smiling.  “Maybe you are a miracle.”  He said it.  His words.

Seven months ago things were so intense.  We wanted to ease the burdens.  I wanted to sell the shop.  Detach from activities.  We were facing death.  This same doctor told us we were facing death.

Today we face life.  This morning, mom and I ate oatmeal together, arranged flowers, blew up balloons.  I listened to her chatter while she worked.  Always busy.  Energetic.  The customers so enjoy seeing her when they come in.  Some are shocked.  Some expect to see her still in recovery.  She’s healing with such grace.  You wouldn’t know she was a cancer patient at all, the way she buzzes around helping me.

Her favorite thing to do?  Deliver flowers.  Make people smile.  She loves it.  I suppose that’s why my mom’s cancer story has made an impact on so many.  Over the years, the core of her being has always been to make people feel loved and cared for.  She’s been cranky a time or two, not going to start lying now – ha!  But, the core of my heart is so thankful right now to be blessed with such an amazing woman to call my mama.  I pray daily that the Lord will continue to let her be the miracle. So many watching her suffer.  Let their prayers be heard.  Let her life be a witness to the power of a Heavenly Father who deeply loves His daughter.

Amen.

 

 

 

Session One

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Not the counselor I was expecting.  Definitely wouldn’t have picked him if it were up to me.  He is not very authoritative.  Very soft spoken.  Hard for me to understand his personality, just yet.  But, I sensed a genuine smile and honest desire to understand my situation. And, maybe I needed to see a gentle person guide me on this, but didn’t even know it.

Spiritual, but not Christian.  Not what I was expecting.  Especially since being referred to the clinic by Christian friends.  Will this be a conflict of interest?  Or, can I learn something from him and also maybe shine the Light on him?  Perhaps this is the plan.  This has to be a God thing.  It feels too peculiar and too uncomfortable, to not have it be a part of something bigger.   If I deny him counseling me because he is not Christian, I am judging him and his ability to help me.  In the same sense, I don’t think that he would deny helping me because I am a Christian.  Shining the Light.

Things that resonate:

I asked what we did for my therapy.  If this was, like, retraining my brain.  He said that first we would work on restoring some hope.  Small hopes into bigger hopes, and that eventually the plan is that the good would overpower the bad.  Not his exact verbage, but you get the drift.  Second, we would work on how my present reaction to life is related to my childhood.  I am most nervous about this.

It was mostly very informal, otherwise.  A list of questions that gauge your intelligence:  counting backwards, by 7, starting at 100, to your awareness:  what month is it, what season, what country do we live in, to the more intimate emotional questions of, “Have you ever seen anything traumatic?  Something you would describe as ‘terrifying?'”  This is when I cried.

I don’t think I ever realized how “traumatic” that night was.  For all of us.  And, that was just the big night.  Lots of little nights.  Days, too.  Lots and lots of days.

I was able to stop answering another question I didn’t feel comfortable with answering.  Shame, ya know?  But, he said it was okay.  And, smiled.  I think it was good to know that I didn’t have any obligation to tell him everything.  I could not offend or hurt him.  I needed to keep this to myself for now.

When I told him I’d been on antidepressants for 14 years, pretty consistently, and he comments on what  a long time that it was, you suddenly realize that the problem isn’t new, ya know?  It’s just never been dealt with.  I’m not suddenly depressed, it’s been a progression of unresolved pain on top of more pain.  Not to say that my brain chemistry isn’t totally wonky with the illness, enviornmental toxins, chronic stress, and more, already.  So, who knows if I would need the medication anyways, right?  But, still.  A long time to rely on artificial hope.

I remember something in the midst of  last summer through fall and October.  Something just got worse.  My health.  My father-in-law’s passing.  Deep debt.  Something about October hit me hard.  And in the winter the darkness continued.  Caught off guard by church.  And, I fought it this year as best I could, but with mom so sick, the cancer.  That flower shop-Is it keeping me going or making me fall apart?  I do not know.  I just think I finally wore out into my most vulnerable state.  It felt like a freight train of sadness heaped on me daily.  So vulnerable.  The attack has been unreal.

In my prayer the other day I heard Him say, “Let them see you suffer…  and still seek Me.  This is what I need you to do.”  It wasn’t audible, but an inspired message I sensed during my meditation time.  Listening for Him.  He told me to write and I went and wrote.

The fog has lifted this week.  I even thought maybe I didn’t need counseling, after all.  Maybe the prayers were finally being heard and things would be changed.  But, I also sensed that this could be the enemy’s tactic, “You don’t need help.  You’re fiiiiiine.”  But, I knew I had to go.  I knew the darkness would come back.  It always comes back.

I don’t want to make everyone else around me miserable, anymore.  I don’t want to fight this feeling of worthlessness for the rest of my life.  I want to enjoy, to love and be loved, to find peace for my soul.  To know and experience this life with passion and love for my Father.

So, there I was at session one.

June 2016

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We went out to the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Festival held here in Weiser a few days ago.  There is a few concentrated areas of festivalishness scattered around our small  town.  All gather to celebrate the music of the fiddle, it’s friends, and there is a legit contest held in our high school auditorium every summer.  The third full week of June turns our two-stoplight town into a bit of a flurry.

We went down one night to enjoy the annual splurge of carnival food, good friends, and explore the vendors set up.  “We” being me, mom, and the kids.  It was a good night.  One of those warm, memorable, simple, and easy nights that we often take for granted.  I am so thankful I was able to slow down and enjoy the evening.  An intention to treasure this up in my heart.

Tomorrow I take mama over to get her first scan since having the surgery to remove her cancer and the HIPEC (chemotherapy) treatment May 4th.  We scan here in Idaho,  thankfully.  However, as luck would have it, her follow-up appointment is the following week in San Diego.  The very same week God planned our church’s youth group mission.  I stepped down from going on this trip when I knew mom would need me this summer.  It hurt at the time, but I now see how God orchestrated all of this for a reason, even the decision not to go on the mission all those months ago.

Here we are: Toby and Quincy are going to San Francisco to work in homeless shelters, after-school programs, and more.  They are travelling with three adults and eight more middle school aged girls.  Pray for those adults!!!  This mission trip will hopefully guide these kids into a mindset of universal suffering and reaching out wherever they are.

Mom, the two little’s, Tate and Tripp, and I will travel to San Diego during the time Toby and Q will be in SF.  My sister, D’Ann, was promoted within her company and will be travelling to and from Portland during this chaos, to  boot!  The flower shop seems to be working itself out.

The MRI mom gets tomorrow weighs heavy on my mind.  Did the treatment work?  What do we do with the answers?  Preparing for outcomes.  Constant.

I’ve really struggled beyond the cancer, beyond San Diego, beyond the results.  I’ve recently unplugged from Facebook and more, furiously wrestling in my mind to numbness in my spirit.  Me and God.  So, sometimes we don’t see eye to eye on things.

After seeing this *miracle* opportunity for my mom.  This opportunity for her to be cured, I began doing more research on my own health problems.  Unfortunately, the findings were discouraging and I find myself completely at the mercy of God.  To be in this place with this ongoing pain, deep pain in my legs and arms, and to know that He is not going to allow it to be taken away for now, for today, and maybe not until heaven, makes me sad.  I know what the Bible says and I know what my response ought to be, but I cannot quite connect my heart and my head right now.  There are more struggles.  More.

Five days late and a notice to turn off the utilities.  We’re running a yard sale to get money to head to San Diego for this big cancer journey and we get messengers sent into the store reminding us that we are five days late and our power will get shut off.  In front of my family and friends.  Awesome.  Humility is my favorite.

Turns out, they were not actually going to shut off the power as printed on the paper.  They just use it to serve you a “notice.”  Thankful about that.  However, you still have to pay the $40 fee that would have turned your power off and back on.  And, this is mercy and this is grace and this is a tough day.

And, I’m so thankful the phone company is patient.

The week before last, I made the last of a tax payment due for all of the past due taxes to the State.  The store was just so slow.  I couldn’t make up the gap.  You get the last of one portion paid, and it takes all you have, and you just need grace.

Sometimes, my brain can’t distinguish these moments from how God directly feels about you.  You tried your best and it wasn’t good enough and it will take so much more to make it right.  And, at the end of the day there is still pain and there is still cancer to deal with and there is still another day to face.  And, why can’t I just choose peace like everyone else?

Here I am and here we are.  Hanging in there as best we can with what we have.  Thanks for being patient with us as we continue to figure this life out.  Patient with ‘me,’ would be more apt.  Mostly me.  Everyone else seems to have it super together!

Mom is still healing and thriving.  Moving a bit slow, but getting up and about more and more.  Inspiring people wherever she goes.  It’s such a blessing to see this unfold around you and at the same time hard to comprehend because you are in it.

 

 

Dana the Discipler’ish

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Yesterday, after several weeks of missing them, I met with my two girls.  Not my girl’s, but God’s girl’s.  Two girl’s I chose, with divine appointment, to enter deeper into His presence by studying, reading, and actively pursuing the word of God and it’s application as a human person.  Discipleship.  Not the first time I’ve done it.  A new season.

Ironically enough, the study guide I chose for us to work on this summer is entitled, “A Daughter’s Worth” by Ava Sturgeon.  I wanted to work on Joyce Meyer’s “Battlefield of the Mind for Teens” but, this other book somehow elevated itself in the last minute ordering, well over a month ago.  I selected this for the girl’s and now here I am wondering if it was actually chosen for me.  Ha.  I see what you did there, Jesus.  Clever.

With my latest state of mind, and the ever-increasing shadows I find inside of me, I wasn’t sure that I was the right person for this job.  I wrestled with it.  “I do believe!  Please help me with my disbelief!”   (Mark Chapter 9)  I pray words written in His book.  Still no words of my own at times.

Instead of starting this series, the books happened to be stuck in a car in Boise – surely by His design- so, I chose to just to get real.  Not too real, but real.  We did our usual start, prayer, a chapter of the New Testament, journaling…  and then, I shared my heart.

Basically, I just cried.

I told the girls a few of my specific struggles and my confusion about God as my “Abba” Father, my provider, and my healer.  I shared how tired and how much pain I was in.  I confessed that I didn’t want to screw them up or cause them to stumble.  And, finally, I asked them for help.

They both insisted that I wouldn’t mess them up.  Ye of little faith.  One shared that when she thought, “Christian,” she thought of me.  Oh mercy.  Let’s lower the bar, here, sister.  No pressure, right?

They each offered encouragement.  “Don’t give up.  God still cares about you.  Don’t give up on Him.”

And the other, “This sounds like Job and God restored everything to Him, like, double.”

As a mother, I have found one of the safest places to be is wrapped in an embrace with my children.  Their innocent hugs come without judgement, no other motives, and no pain – unless Tate is running toward you, then you naturally post a defensive position to receive her fierce love.  God’s arms.

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As a mentor of two beautiful young ladies, I see how God has also provided me the seat of a student.  God’s extension of love and wisdom.  In the presence of two innocent minds full of wonder, love, and awe of God, it is hard not to be refreshed with their hope.

It’s not easy bein’ a pretty flower.

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I tried to think of something clever with the  “It’s not easy bein’ green,” Kermit the frog thing, but I couldn’t.  This is it, people.  It’s Friday.  Friday night.  Bear with me.  This long week is coming to an end and here I am getting time to sit.  Being a florist is not actually a “sit there” job.

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“Kermit” Mums, about 1.5-2″ wide.  Amazing color.

It’s not easy being a florist, period.  It’s a physically tough job.   It’s even more challenging to own a small town flower shop.  Even big city florists are tossing in the roses and calling it quits.  Locally we are down 50% in brick and mortar florist’s from when I started almost nine years ago.  We’ve lost one shop  in Weiser and two in Ontario.  Three flower shops remain in the valley.

I can remember when I bought the store, in 2007.  Joyce, the former owner and my mentor, said that the business took a big hit after floral departments were added to the local grocery store (was this in the 90’s?).  I didn’t get it then, but I get it now.  Things you wish you would have gotten back then!  Anyhow, until this point, flower shops were the only places with flowers.  This new level of grocery and department store competition shook the industry.  First it was just flowers, but then all of the plants and balloons, too.  And at prices that flower shops can’t even buy at!

My store is competing locally with two northwest grocery and department store chains – Ridley’s and Bi-Mart.  There are major franchises like Albertson’s and Walmart just twenty minutes away on the highway.  This is a regular commute and destination area for a lot of folks.

We were recently asked if it were possible for us to make a “consumer bunch” of flowers for a local business.  This is a grouping of flowers sold in cellophane, you’ve all seen them at the grocery store check-out line before.  This customer purchased their flowers from Walmart and Ridley’s, regularly, and was interested in “buying local.”  We were upfront with the concept that these retailers have huge buying power and it would be very difficult for us to compete.  The customer insisted.  Repeated calls insisted.  Even though we were super busy, we made trips to the grocers, obtained pictures, stem counts, prices, and dimensions.  Even though we knew it was a long shot, we made a comparable bouquet.  Instead of the $9.87 price at Walmart, twenty minutes away, ours would be $15.00.  We did not triple the value of the flowers, the normal industry standard, and it wouldn’t include the cost of labor or the wrap.

The customer had anticipated that they would need this bouquet refilled two times per month.  There was anticipation that this initial agreement, could lead to more business.  We were hopeful when we called them that we had satisfied their requirements and the purchase price would be considered a good deal-paying more, but staying local.  We thought we nailed it.

When the customer arrived, she looked at the flowers and said she could get the same thing at Walmart for $6.00.

Ouch.

I was so sad.

My helpers and I discussed later that we had all reminded her in one of our several phone calls and visits, that Walmart has contracts, if not their own fields, for flowers that we don’t have.  Making money on one rose is not important to them.  I can attest to the fact that I can also buy flowers cheaper at Walmart!

I guess the insult on my effort and the realization that the customer, who has never purchased anything from me before to my knowledge, somehow thought they had buying power with their $6.00, twice a month bouquet offer.  They didn’t really want local flowers, they wanted more flowers for less money.  I was eager to earn the business.  And lost it.  I would have lost money selling the flowers to them at $6.00.

That is why, flower shops are less and less.  We can get it cheaper somewhere else.  I’m totally guilty of this myself.  I am on such a budget that flowers are luxury items we normally wouldn’t afford.  I get it.  I just don’t like the feeling of unworthiness the customer suggested.  I would have liked her to be upfront that she would have preferred to have more flowers than Walmart, for less than she was paying them, and we could have saved everyone their time and pride.  I don’t know how to tell ya’ll this, but our flowers aren’t more because we are jerkfaces trying to price gouge you.

Our flowers are more because we can’t just order 2,000 of one item like Walmart.  They die in ten days!!!  We have to order one or two of 40 items, a couple times a week.  In order to maintain this inventory, to get Aunt Cindy her one yellow rose in a vase and Mary Kate her red and white carnation’s for making varsity cheer leading, and Dave’s pink and peach corsage for his wife for their 40th anniversary… I hope you can see why  it gets tricky to manage a perishable product, that you only need minimal flowers for, but have to buy full bundles of.  Try as we might to maintain a large inventory, we will never be able purchase in bulk and quantity like these super stores.  The things that we can control are design, value, and quality.

Design may be in the eye of the beholder, but I always take the time to make sure the bouquet looks like pride and effort were taken in the final product.  It’s the small details that make the arrangement complete, unique, hopefully personal, and memorable.  Part of making a bouquet memorable is making a bouquet that will transform with time.  Understanding the graceful waves of the lily.  Where does it align now and as it will open?  Is the blossom overlapping a longer lasting bloom so that when it fades, another will remain?  There is the art and science of nature’s perfect beauty placed at my fingertips and it’s like a symphony in my mind, much like words.  Stem placement isn’t mechanical, but fluid.  Music.  The two things I’m graced with ability:  designing flowers and words.

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Strategically designed arrangement – the lilies will take days to open.  The focals will then add new color and drama.  Until then, red roses, rovers, and sunflowers are worked in among greens and dried stems and pods to create this rustic , one of a kind sentiment.

I’m learning to edit both.   In my anxiety, I can rarely ‘save it for later’ when I write because, I will simply never post it later.  If I didn’t just get it out there, I would second guess myself and the doubt would keep my writing private.  I’m learning to write with quality  and confidence, almost as I am adamant about providing stellar flowers.

I take great care in cleaning my cooler, buckets, utensils, and I’m a stickler for fresh water and flower food.  And, of course, the flowers!  We keep our product hydrated, fed, cleaned and re-cut as necessary.    I know why we have such an awesome product that gets rave reviews- because we take the time to take care of it.  And, the people who we get these products from, they took time to take care of them too.  And all of this time to take care of, to grow, to cut, to bundle, to transfer, and to ship just one bundle to me, and one hundred to Walmart, will change the price those bundles cost.

One bundle just doesn’t demand the price guarantees that grocers have.  I don’t know that the floral industry will ever be the same in a rural setting such as ours.  It is my hope that the value of flowers will expand to include the thoughtfulness in the arrangements and the uniqueness of the product, and that the sheer availability of having a local florist who cares will prevail as a luxury in and of itself.