Why I’m Leaving My Job to Stay at Home

10665086_10153306429439746_6094945465861559680_nPast Tears and Prayers

I cannot tell you how many times I have cried on my way to work, missing the baby smells of all four of my children’s bald little heads each time I returned to teaching after maternity leave. I’ve felt jealous that some other woman got to hold them, teach them, watch them take their first steps or say their first words and then lie to me when I picked them up so that I did’t get my feelings hurt for not being the one for whom my children showed off.

I cannot tell you how many times I have begged God to open the doors to bring me home and close the doors that keep me working 45-minutes away and so hard that when I come home I am worthless: I’m tired, having given all my energy to other people’s children, and now feigning enthusiasm when my own kids or husband want to share the excitement from their day, but all I can think of is that stack of papers to grade, and that lesson to still plan, and how I’m going to do that along with giving everyone their baths and making dinner and still grabbing that box of diapers because we are down to the last one and the baby will need a fresh one before bedtime. I can barely breathe just saying those words aloud.

10731153_10153301356889746_428918937321489811_nMy husband helps so much. He is a wonderful and attentive father. He wakes up with the kids and makes sure they have breakfast and are dressed before taking them to daycare or school while encouraging them in the day’s events. He takes them to their doctors appointments while I’m at work, reads bible stories in the evening with them, helps them practice their karate moves and makes sure they go through their checkoff list before bed before awarding them their prize-earning stickers. He leads us all in prayer. So I can’t get upset and say my husband doesn’t help. He does. In many ways, he does a better job than I do all while running a business from home.

11537903_1416455935350373_3951834884061779110_oThe Answer

But one day on my way to work two years ago, after I left my daughter with the daycare provider at 8-weeks-old, I was crying to God as usual and felt him strongly tell me that he would bring me home one day, but not now. That I wasn’t ready and that Owen wasn’t ready. We still had more to learn to prepare us. The thoughts came out of no where. I was crying, asking God to please get me laid off  or something and then the words just stopped me in my tracks. I remember it clearly now, sitting at the red light on the 76 right before the 15-on-ramp. And a peace just overcame me. Ok, God. For those of you who have a relationship with the Lord, you know what I’m talking about. When the thoughts and feelings are clearly not yours but they nudge you from the side in the midst of your thought, headed in a different direction entirely. And you test them by comparing them to what the Bible teaches to find they do line up. Then you know–this is from God.

I decided then and there that if this was the case, I was going to really enjoy my job while I still had it. And I did. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, it certainly is a job I love,  but I embraced it with a joy I hadn’t had in years–rekindled that early love for it. You know the kind? The one with fresh ideas and untainted expectation? I’ve written about this in the past. I have felt like a “born again” teacher the last couple of years.

Growth

11224331_10153372509787969_7440667631282452323_nAnd then four months after I drove on to that north-bound freeway at 6:15 that tearful morning,  Owen was diagnosed with stage 3 Thymus Cancer.

And we grew.

Night sweats, chest pains, weight-loss, then finally–answers. Then it was surgery,  chemotherapy, and radiation. Loss of hair, weight, and pride. We were pruned. Stretched. We grew faith and hope. I developed a supernatural strength I didn’t knew I could have. Owen softened with patience and compassion he struggled with before. It was a painful and beautiful trial. Not just our family. But for our friendships, and our marriage.

And then after one year of treatment while still running his business (he is a rock star!), Owen was healed from Cancer. And we celebrated and grew some more as we basked in the sunlight of hope, ready for further growth and new possibilities. Last week we just got our news that Owen is still cancer-free after one year since treatment.

14055127_1266185730072219_2370877723585375866_nThat summer during treatment two years ago, I worked on creating content for a marriage app I invented, realizing I should apply some of what I preached to the world around me. The ideas multiplied. Ideas lead to paper, led to spread sheets, lead to app developers and branding designs. And we grew some more. Then over the last year, the idea for the marriage app morphed into a marriage Facebook page and private group that has lead me to be a part of a movement to strengthen marriages and heal broken ones called Thriving, Sexy Marriages. And so we grew some more. Marriage app still to come. But something else has sprouted in the process.

The Turning Point and the Faith of a Child (or a Husband)

Owen_4_months_before_diagnosisSo when my husband’s business went through some changes this winter that lead us to to reconsider our understanding of God and to trust him in ways we didn’t understand, I would never have guessed that it would yield in my husband a desire for me to step out in faith with him and quit my job to come home. By no means was it a surge of prosperity that lead to this decision. Something I thought would need to happen for that decision to ever happen.

This was not how I had envisioned it. But God’s plans are not our plans. God did not say we weren’t ready yet because Owen’s business wasn’t making him so rich we could quit mine and still live a life of quarterly weekend getaways, season passes to Legoland, and a winter cabin in Big Bear. I thought this when he said we weren’t ready. But I have learned that God was talking about our character. Our faith. Our growth as husband and wife. Our unity and vision for our future.

224049_10150277882159746_816151_nWhat is Next

Taking a leave of absence from  my well-paying job to stay home will take sacrifice, there is no denying that. At least for now. But we have plans to be a husband-wife team. I will not be trading grading papers and lecturing seniors on the rhetorical triangle for lying around all day cuddling with my 2-year-old and watching day-time television or making Pinterest boards on animal shaped sandwiches. While cuddles will certainly be apart of my day, it will also be helping my husband out with his business, finishing my other children’s books, growing my blog,  and growing our marriage ministry so that we can make it a virtual marriage support movement–something that could lead to courses and books and private coaching or accountability.  Owen and I have learned so much through just our short seven-and-a-half years together. And we know that in the trials that have hit our marriage, what the darkness intended to destroy, God is using for good.

15895156_10210707506737750_2280544613316238102_nSo we will need to work at it. And it may be tight for awhile.  And there may very well be some conflict. But yes, I will also be able to take my kids to school. I will be able to teach my daughter how to read and put her down for her naps and enjoy her company at lunch. I don’t have to hear my son Jameson pray at the dinner table that his Mommy could get her work done faster so she could play with him. I will be able to pick up my boys from school and do homework with them in the afternoons. I will be able to enjoy them in the evening without a distracting pile of papers to grade.

And just as importantly, I will be able to watch them walk across the stage at high school or college graduation, without regretting losing those precious moments with them in those short years God lent them to us because I wanted fancy face washes, Arbonne shakes, and shiny cars, or a remodeled bathroom. I don’t want those material things at the expense of my children saying they remembered me as the stressed out mom who rushed them through everything– never really present.

14918948_10155407468274746_8711807688632773943_oPersonal Faith and Purpose

So that’s my story. That’s my reason. I don’t write this to guilt-trip any working moms. We are all different and I’m sure there are many working moms who can do both well. But I’m just not one of them. I can do one really well and the other just mediocre. And I’m tired of putting my kids second. And I can’t really get away with doing the other mediocre in the age of test scores and professional development accountability. This is God’s call on my life.

Until then, when my husband says lets step out in faith and see what God can do with the passions and talents he has given us, I say heck yes. I already feel a change happening within me just knowing it’s 5 weeks away. It makes me want to hold on to my husband, my kids, and Jesus all the more tightly because I have to let go of my idol of a stable income.

14956009_10155407464944746_2339658837828538358_nBut I think that is a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a blind faith. We’ve crunched the numbers. We’ve looked into health insurance. We’ve looked at our mortgage budget. It will be tight at first. But it can be done and it can and can loosen up later. The difference is that when you work solely on bringing income from your own business, the income varies month to month. It doesn’t feel as “safe” as a contracted salary position. So there is a reliance on the Lord that doesn’t happen when relying on that steady paycheck with the exact same number every month. But what it also means, is that there is no cap on our income. We get what we put into it too. If I help my husband with his business Videospot, his business can grow faster. If he helps me with the Thriving, Sexy Marriage business (he is an expert in selling with video, by the way) then I can eventually bring in some supplemental income through that business project to keep me home with my babies.

And I don’t doubt for a second that God will certainly show off for me since I’ve given him room to do so. A good friend of mine, Jamie once asked me–how can we see God’s power in our lives if we don’t give him a chance to show off for us because we play it safe? In the end, I think it is rooted in distrust of God. And that is unwarranted.

And if I’m wrong–perhaps yes, we’ve seen all the wrong signs or God wants this to be just temporary and hasn’t revealed that to us as of yet, my leave of absence allows me to return to my secure job as a teacher in a year or two. Within two years though, we hope to have a clearer picture of the road ahead. We won’t know until we take that turn down that road

I don’t know the future, but I know I’ve got a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I’m tired of walking down a different path than my family. There are here in Vista and my husband has this vision for our future that I want to be a part of, but I’m on this side-road heading off in a different direction, constantly shouting over the valley between us, saying, “You can do it honey!” I want to be with him. I want to say “we can do it.” And when two people share a common vision and work together to achieve it, I don’t see how that could not lead to many good and plentiful blessings.

Those two paths have finally joined because of my husband’s faith and vision. It is a faith of God’s child. And I will not say no because Lord, we are ready to walk down it, wherever it leads. united toward a one vision

Summer Blessings

13445400_10154927222784746_4419286371882224395_n (1)After our trial the last year with cancer, it has been such a nice break this summer. This morning at church, our pastor had us look at where God has us right now and where he might be taking us in his big plans. During that time, as I reflected on where he has me right now, I couldn’t help but praise Him as I saw blessing after blessing in His active working my life. I wanted to share them with you and let you know that every single thing on this list has been given to me by God and for God–No one can tell me there is no God because I know Him personally! 🙂 This isn’t an eloquently written post by any means, but its truth and I felt lead to share.

13512128_10154932488199746_4493964367166036115_nSo the first thing is my relationship with my children has grown this summer. When my daycare provider told me that she needed the kids to come in at least 2 times a week this summer to keep their spots open (3 kids is a lot of income to lose for the summer when you are a daycare provider), my first thought was “Maybe I can use that time for me time! I can go to the beach, read a book, take a nap!” And then of course, the other day could be used for business–lesson planning, work on my books, my app, Owen’s business, etc. At first that is what I planned to do with those two days until God clearly spoke to me and told me to use that free day to take one of my kids out each week on a date for one-on-one time. 13415497_10154891369579746_7140565395515364686_oWhile I was sad to lose my lost me time, I knew it was right and also loved the idea. I  knew it was much better and God-glorifying than a me day. So I’ve been doing it and it has been such a wonderful time! James and I went to a movie, had lunch together and chatted, then held hands as we walked to the beach. Kanan and I did something similar, but he actually talked me into jumping in the cold ocean water and body surf with him. Once I got past being cold, I had an exhilarating time. I felt alive! Then Benny and I enjoyed our one-on-one time at Chucky E Cheeses and the Lego Land Water Park. He is going through a whiney phase lately which he still pulled on our special day, but with his bright brown eyes and chubby cheeks, He was easy to forgive. Won’t have time for Scotty to get a date in without causing an imbalance with the boys, but she alrady gets so much attention given she’s the baby. I really feel the boys are the ones who really need that special time. But even on days when we are all together, we have had such a great time going to Balboa park on free museum days, enjoying the refreshing water at the waterpark on hot days, or working in the yard.

Next, when I found out the cost of making an app last year, the marriage app project that my friend Nikki-Marie from TheMomIWantToBe.com were working on last year seemed to feel impossible. I put my focus on my sick husband and teaching and pretty much forgot about it. That is until my cousin came up with an app concept and started successfully crowd-funding to make it. It has since inspired me and Nikki-Marie to do the same and we are now writing the scrip13434815_10154926962694746_32091562682476397_nts and getting the logo made for the campaign. We both strongly believe that this app could potentially save marriages if people use it. What is more God-glorifying than that? We are praying God blesses our endeavors and helps us get the funds to make it. Hoping to have the video filmed at least before I return to work.

Then, we found a new church. And while our old church was wonderful and helped Owen and I grow so much, we are so excited to grow deeper and make more friends in the church community as well as follow God’s lead in where he plans to take us through this next church community. If someone had told me two years ago we were going to leave our old church, I would have kicked and screamed and cried. But over the last two years, God has really prepared my heart for this change. We like the church too so much. Our new pastor has an interactive way of teaching–having us pull out paper and draw concept pictures so we can connect to the teaching as it relates to13442337_10154926961649746_7051367176373135726_n our lives. He teaches verse by verse. We just finished going through the book of Nehemiah and just started the book of Jonah. Seeing how these prophets helped create change in large communities for God’s glory has been so inspiring. While the church itself is much smaller than our old church, the new pastor’s vision is to be very active in the world. Everyone there is really friendly too. The pastor and his wife even took us our family out to lunch and had our kids play while we got to know each other!  We are really excited about his vision for our community and how we might be involved to serve God’s purpose and heart for people.

Finally, Owen and I have been talking about moving to Temecula the last few months. It wouldn’t be for a couple more years, but Owen has been so excited about the move and passionate about the decision.While the idea of living closer to work and being more connected to that community as w13445686_10154927222944746_2781050758264998830_nell as the lower cost of housing was appealing to me, I knew if we did, I’d have to ask my oldest son to choose who he wanted to live with. And I knew he’d choose his Dad. The idea of losing my son has been weighing so heavily on my heart. I have wept so much over it in private moments. Having him every other weekend for material things seemed like such an awful decision, but  When I first brought up my issue with moving, he didn’t budge. I don’t remember how I worded it, but it was brief. So I have resorted to prayer the last two months.  I’m doing a Beth Moore study right now on Believing God and during the study I came to recognize that God loves my son Kanan as well. And he would not want any decision to be made that could hurt him. I felt lead to trust that he would take care of it. I didn’t know how, but he would. Then a week ago, Owen prayed out loud during family prayer for God to let him know if He wanted us to move to Temecula or not. I praised God then because I knew that believe godGod must be working on his heart for him to be questioning the decision and asking God. I thought, I would wait for God to tell him. But a few days ago, I was hanging out with my friend Brianne, who I feel God used to speak to me. I brought up the move to Temecula and she immediately pointed out the concern for Kanan. She suggested I speak to Owen again about it, but I decided to just wait and let God speak to him because I didn’t want to start a fight and didn’t think Owen would agree with me. Maybe God could speak to him through a friend or divine revelation. But last night, I felt God tell me “Why are you waiting for Me to speak to Him through someone else? Don’t you think I could use you to speak to Him?” So I got up the courage to risk a fight and I told him my concern. But I brought up the possible damage it could cause Kanan and our family. Immediately, he said that he never considered those possibilities and that we would not move to Temecula. Then today, he brought it up again, saying that it his job to keep our family together. Yes! No fight. God just worked. He took care of it. He worked on Owen’s heart and worked on me to get the courage to bring up a sensitive subject when I hate conflict.

So right now I am just basking in God’s love and mercies. We are not experiencing any trials right now and I feel so safe.I feel very much like we under God’s canopy of protection right now. It is a joyous place to be. I know that if you are not in a trial that you just left one or about to be in one. We had a huge one this last year. And while I know this middle place won’t last forever, I want to acknowledge it, and thank God for it. I also hope to encourage any of you who are reading this to trust in God. He is so good and mighty!

In Sickness and In Health– a reflection during Owen’s treatment last Fall

Owen and I right before he started treatment

Owen and I right after surgery but before he started chemotherapy.

No one ever writes Cancer on their life plans. At least in my circle of experience, we don’t. We plan for the good life. Not trials.  I planned for a teaching career, marriage, family, travel. And while I already have experienced so much, when I married my husband, Owen Hemsath in October of 2009, I had no idea that almost 6 years later, my 35 year old husband would be diagnosed with a Cancer so rare, doctors don’t know how one gets it, or how to cure it enough so it doesn’t come back.

If anything that is on the list of events not to experience during one’s life for many people, especially health conscious ones like our selves. This is why I have spent so many hours reading health articles and meticulously shopping at the grocery store for organic vegetables, alkaline water, GMO-free foods, no food dyes, and products with no high fructose corn syrup. I did it so we wouldn’t get cancer.

So even after multiple trips to the hospital for chest pains so bad it brought Owen to his knees on our living room floor, night sweats so strong it literally left the sheets soaking wet, weight loss and the loss of appetite—I still didn’t suspect Cancer.

I knew something was wrong, no doubt. I’m the one that urged him to go to the hospital each time. But I thought it was a lung infection. I thought it was that damn cat my husband refused to get rid of that had given him so many sneezes and coughs—it had finally done him in. That we’d go and get a big bottle of antibiotics and the problem would be solved.

But hospital visit after hospital visit with no answers came and went until April of last spring.

So at the 4th visit in two years, there Owen and I sat in the brightly lit emergency room at Scripps, Encinitas at 2 o’clock in the morning, hoping this time we’d get some answers as we watched the pretty doctor with the brown pony tail and mousy ears  come down from upstairs, studying his CT scan and EKG results and white blood cell count with her eyes brows drawn close together at the center—concerned. Perplexed. None of the doctors on any of the 3-4 other ER visits had that look on their faces.

“What’s wrong, doctor?” Owen said finally, pale- faced and looking so small under the hospital sheets. “Your face has cancer or something written all over it. Are we looking at something like that here? Or am I misreading you?”

And we watched her sit there silently, studying his face. Hesitantly. Like she was already regretting having to say the words. “Yes,” she said.

At this point, it is difficult to explain what it felt like. For me it was like I was not actually in the room. Like I was outside of my body watching this whole scene in front me on a television or movie screen. I watched myself put my hand on his knee as he stared stoically at the doctor—so strong—and then watched him crumble into millions of pieces like a sack of flour the following day after the oncologist came in with the unofficial diagnosis of lymphoma.

And even now, four months later, after the official diagnosis of thymoma, after the surgery that removed the 12 cm sized tumor in his chest that had spread into his heart, after the first 3 rounds of chemo that has stripped him of his hair, beard, eye lashes and color from his skin, I still feel like I’m watching it all. I make sure the heroine in the story acts heroine-like—supportive and loving, doing more around the house and maintaining her joy, seeking God for her strength. I pray just like the rest of the audience that the hero in the story beats the cancer and is able to achieve all of his life goals that cancer has sought to destroy—successful business, travel, speaking gigs, a home in Carlsbad, and giving to charity.

We now begin our fourth round of chemo today. I say we, because whatever affects him affects all of us. He is my love and I am with him through sickness and in health. And while I don’t look forward to the nausea this week or the fatigue or even the sadness that I know he will feel as he lays on the couch wondering how and why this happened to him—I do look forward to the increasing amount of closeness that he and I have developed through this. There is something that sickness does to a marriage when the couple loves each other. There is gentleness and a cherishing that increases significantly for both parties.

This chapter is not over—we’ve got at least 2 more chemo rounds and an entire month of radiation. In two weeks we get the next CT scan to see if any of the treatment has made a difference. Who knows when this chapter will end? I know that it is silly now to finalize life plans. Plot twists come our way and complications arise that the hero and heroin in the story do not anticipate.  I guess the point of life’s story is how we handle it when it comes. Will we allow it to change us like a good dynamic character? Will we resurrect in the end as the hero and be stronger than ever before?

Busy Spring for a Successful Future

10636864_10153948701474746_4943232232350272269_oSome people might people think I’m a nut for taking a 600-level Masters course this Spring at the local university, while my husband starts radiation therapy and I continue working full time as a high school English teacher, supportive wife, and mother of 4 children. No doubt some things have already been put on the back-burner since Owen got sick. I have barely done anything with marketing my children’s book on loving like Jesus, haven’t done anything with the content for the marriage app my friend Nickole and I wrote last Spring, haven’t posted much ads for my resume writing services, and haven’t worked out at the gym or the USSD fitness camp. So I’m not supermom. I’m just deciding where my priorities are right now with everything.

And my priorities may not the same priorities my friends have, but there is reason.

I’ve been wanting to come home and perhaps even homeschool the kids for years. I used to cry about it on my way to work for a good year or two as I begged God to please open the doors to allow me to do so. One day I heard him clearly: Not now. One day. But not now. You are not ready. I have more work to do on both you and Owen. 

For the first time, I felt a peace about my circumstance. And I decided then and there that I would begin finding joy in my job, and my role as mother and wife with the schedule that I have. I still battle at times, a tinge of jealousy when I see my mommy friends posting on FB about their home school lessons or their field trips with their kids or the playdates with friends. I get a little jealous when I hear about their morning devotionals and all the things I want to do. But God has been so faithful in giving my husband the desire as the spiritual leader in the family to pray with the kids before taking them to school and to lead our family in bible verse memorization, worship, and prayer every night as family. My kids are not being deprived of the spiritual education I so longed for them to have and felt inadequate or underachieving compared to my stay-at-home friends.

Proverbs3-5-6It started with me praying-Ok God. If I cannot come home, please give Owen and I the wisdom and the organization to manage our home effectively so that our children are not deprived of the spiritual learning and joy that comes from being with their family during the day. He answered. He also gave me the joy in teaching that I wanted to regain, and opened doors for me to be able to help our family meet its financial needs: we not only pay for a mortgage, but need to give it some tlc as the house is a fixer-upper. We also have three children under age 5, so our child-care bill is pretty hefty. Then there are cancer and medical bills, all the supplements Owen and I take now for our health issues, and the dietary changes we have made to make sure we get and stay healthy. We never want to hear the word cancer again. Outside of that, we want to save our money for a downpayment on a bigger home in either Oceanside or Carlsbad within the next few years. When James starts kindergarten next Fall, we will be able to add an extra $500 to our monthly savings for that goal. We will act like we never even had that money.

That same Spring that God spoke to me so clearly, I was looking at my place on the pay-scale at my school district, moping over the fact that I had maxed out at 10 years on my tier. I looked over at the next tier and realized that I only needed 13 more units and I could move up to the 12 year line with a 9k a year raise. I immediately enrolled in a 6 unit masters level Education course for the summer that changed my entire perspective on teaching writing in the high school classroom. I had hoped to take the same class again the following summer and perhaps a 1-unit course in Spring 2016 to make up the remaining 7 units. I learned I had only a small chance of being able to repeat the course summer 2016 and so determined that I would need to step up the units this spring to achieve this goal.

I start tomorrow. It’s a 3 unit course on Thursday nights. The semester is a short 3-month-long semester. And it will be rigorous. But I talked with Owen, sharing with him my concern over the commitment and his needs with radiation. He was quick to push that aside and point out that 3 months of some extra team work would be worth the raise the following fall. I’d have to be just as busy if not more, all the time writing resumes to makeup that difference. But with the raise–I work this hard for a short period of time, and then the money is consistent afterward with just my day-job. It’s a smart decision. And if it helps us get that house sooner, then it will help us reach our goal of bringing me home one day as well. All the while, Owen will also zapping out the last reminents of cancer in his body so that by fall of this year, we can put our crazy busy lives away, and begin enjoying some of the fruits of our labor and God’s blessings.

I will hopefully add in one work-out night a week as well this Spring just because its a healthy decision–but otherwise, no more resumes (Praise God!). And perhaps this summer, I can find the time with my final course I take, to work on illustrating and publishing my next children’s book. I’ve already written them. I just need to get them illustrated. Perhaps with the extra money I will eventually make–I can even just pay for an illustrator and get this ball moving much faster.

philippians 46We’ve got big goals. And God-willing, they will be blessed. My dream life would be to be a stay at home mom and wife, writing christian children’s books and bringing in income with that, leading a women’s bible study, and discipling a teenage or college aged young woman in a life that is pleasing to the Lord. Owen and I also want to take our kids out once or twice a year on missions trips to third world countries.  Owen wants to be become more influential in the YouTube marketing world as well as run a successful Christian video series answering questions about God and the bible by skeptics and seekers from around the world. He has already started writing and filming the video series with a good friend and pastor named Tony Hook. Keep an eye out for their videos coming soon on YouTube. He also wants to start a line of clothing specifically for cancer patients going through chemotherapy that will help them access their port and picklines and communicates to the world where they are at in their fight with Cancer. It will be a non-profit business with the purchases going toward paying the medical bills for chemo patients who apply for a scholarship with LifeWins.

Ultimately, we just want Jesus to come back as we’d rather be with Him in heaven and scratch all our worldly dreams immediately. But if Jesus decides to wait longer, we hope these dreams are pleasing to Him, so he will bless them. And if not, that He do what He will with our lives.

In the meantime, I’m trusting that for now–he is working on Owen and I, preparing us for desire to come home and the details he will sovereignly work out to fit His plans for our lives. He told me this. And I believe him.

What have you asked God for? What has he told you? Do you believe him? Can you find joy in your life as you wait for him to answer and find the blessings he gives you while you wait?

Protons, Heart Issues, and Other Woes

Trying to be "Anxious for Nothing."

Trying to be “Anxious for Nothing.”

I’m feeling pretty down today. So much going on it seems, but hoping for some perspective and hope as I know I can get this way, and God always sees me through.

Owen discovered yesterday that the hopeful outcome of radiation therapy as the final step in ridding him of his cancer, now seems rather grim. The radiologist looked at his scans and determined that the location of Owen’s tumor is in such a delicate place in Owen’s heart, especially after the heart itself has been so ravaged by the surgery and the chemotherapy, that he feels radiation would only damage it further. It is his professional opinion that the positive benefits on the cancer do not outweigh the negative effects it would have on Owen’s heart.

“You only get one heart, Owen,” he said.

So he is recommending Proton therapy instead, a newer form of treatment similar to radiation but using some sort of protons instead (hence the name) and supposedly much more gentle. So while that doesn’t sound bad, here is the stressful part. There is a good chance our insurance won’t cover it. And without insurance, my research shows it will cost roughly $30,000. This is money we do not have.

Furthermore, given the scans look good on the CT (We havent’ had a more accurate PET scan yet), it makes me wonder if it is even worth it. Yet, all the research I’ve done, which has included looking at medical journals written within the last year on Thymoma shows that for stage 3 B2 Thymoma, radiation combined with chemotherapy yielded much more success when preventing reoccurrence. Without that double treatment, likelihood of reoccurrence for Owen’s type and stage was very high. But in the end, does it even matter if it’s Proton therapy instead? Where’s the research on proton therapy for Owen? In other words, if the proven radiation therapy is not realistic for Owen, is it worth $30,000 of money we don’t have to pay for another treatment where there is no record or research done on its effectiveness for Owen’s type of cancer and stage in the first place?

So what to do?

Owen is most frustrated by the location of the Proton therapy location. It is in La Jolla, which is a good 40 minutes from our home with typical traffic. He is expected to go every. single. day. For 6 weeks. That is 40 minutes there, about an hour while there, and then 40 minutes back. That is basically 3 hours everyday that cuts out of his work time. And we’d have to find a sitter every morning to take the kids to school in order to get him there on time. At this point, chemotherapy was easier on his work schedule. So he is not happy. Neither am I.

My prayer is that God be guiding all of this. I don’t want Owen to beat cancer only to die of a heart attack. So if radiation is too dangerous than I don’t want it either. Chemotherapy has already ravaged his heart. He is getting palpitations everyday and has been enduring pain in his heart ever since his last chemotherapy treatment 3-4 weeks ago. He is still dealing with other negative effects on his body including tinitus in his ears, tingling and numbness in his fingertips and limbs, and general weakness.

I don’t want his heart issues to worsen. But I don’t want him to get a likely reoccurance of thymoma either. The survival rate for that is much worse. Over the last year, Owen and I have grown so much closer. I am more in love with him than ever and so the fear of losing him, is all the more heart-breaking to me. I want my husband to be with me for the rest of my life. And I want the time we have together to be healthy. Anything that disrupts that or threatens that fills me with anxiety.

If God does not allow proton therapy to be something the insurance pays for, I sure hope he is allowing that because he is telling us he’s got this and that Owen will not be getting a reoccurrence and so we don’t need more treatment. Please pray we have ears to hear God’s voice in this and not our own fears or itching ears.

Finally, after all of this–I am having health issues. And right now, all of our health/medical money is going toward helping Owen. And my issues just seem to be blown off by the traditional Medical establishment. As I seek alternative treatments, I recognize my dire need for a Naturopath, but that will come out of pocket since my insurance won’t cover a Naturopath. Until we get Owen settled though, I am trying to treat myself for my health issues with diet changes, supplements, etc. And I’m just praying that God bring me relief. I don’t want to get too into it until I know for sure if I am right. But I’ve struggled with a sensitive gut for years and finally found some relief when I cut down my dairy significantly. But now it seems that I’m developing more food sensitivities and my hearing issues aren’t improving that much. And on top of that, I had a tubal ligation a year ago when my daughter was born (4th c-section) and I’m starting to develop some issues that I believe may be complications and side effects to that. I’m just praying that God be guiding me through my journey through this process, show grace to me as I seek to treat myself and help provide me the answers needed to heal. I am going to be 36 years old and want the second half of my life to be healthy as well, not burdened by pain and aching all the time in my belly. I’m crying right now just thinking about it.

Lord, please bring me and my husband relief!

In the end, despite the outcome, I am reminded of a song  Alanis Morisette wrote years ago that made such an impact on me. I will post the lyrics down below.

That I would be good, by Alanis Morisette

That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good whether with or without you
So please pray that God guide is in the direction he will have us go, heal us on his own or lead us toward the doctors and treatments that can heal us, and that if he does, or if he doesn’t–that we both be good regardless. I want to be joyous and kind and encouraging and inspiring and giving always. I want to emanate God’s love no matter the ailment or suffering I have in my own life.

Refiner’s Fire, My Hearts One Desire, Is to be Holy

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and that makes me sad. Blogging is very cathartic for me. But it seems that ever since I got out of summer school, where I was given two hours a day of writing time, I just haven’t had time to blog. And ever since Owen got diagnosed with Cancer, I haven’t had much time to do all the other “extra-curricular” activities I had been doing before either.

God is with me in this fireWhere I Was

Prior to Owen’s diagnosis, I was working daily on my marketing campaigns for my children’s book How to Love Like Jesus, developing the content and finding the programmers for an awesome marriage app with my business partner Nikki Marie at TheMomIWantToBe.Com, and continuing writing resumes and memoirs for clients. Then two days a week I was exercising in a fitness camp and had even lost my pregnancy weight–finally down to my pre-pregnancy weight right around the time we learned what Owen had. I was feeling really healthy. Really energetic. And generally joyful through Owen’s sickness, we had yet to understand.

Where I Am
  1. Now I’ve gained all that weight back–eating carbs again and haven’t found the time to exercise.
  2. I’m not blogging.
  3. As for the marriage app– haven’t touched that project at all. Of course this is also because Nikki just had a baby and therefore hasn’t pushed me on taking the next step.
  4. I’ve replaced that time with taking care of my sick husband, my kids, and both my husband’s and my duties with our house. (that alone will take up every second of time!)

And add what I’m not doing, I’ve struggling with a few other complications.

  1. My back has started to really hurt. I don’t know if it’s that I started doing more of the heavy lifting after Owen’s surgery or because my 4th C-section has led to some really rough scar tissue pulling on my back muscles, or a combination of both. But I’m in pain. A lot. And I pray it is just temporary. I can’t imagine living with this pain the rest of my life.
  2. Little Scotland has been struggling with constipation as she has taken in more formula and solid food (my milk supply crashed after Owen’s diagnosis) which it has led to a little tear in her rear-end that really hurts her and she no longer wants to eat solid food. She’s 9 months old. Just wants a bottle now. Doctor is not happy. Wants me getting her back into food. Says once her tear heals she should forget and eventually hunger will win. But I’ve got to let her deal with her hunger. Not just give her a bottle because that’s what she wants. So I’ve got a fussy baby right now.
  3. Owen’s 2nd round of chemo hit him much harder than the 1st round. So what we were expecting to last just 5 days, lasted 9 days and even now which is day 12 he still has to take a nap, gets nauseous, and feels generally irritable from the effects of the chemo, which then provokes me. We’ve had way more arguments and spats this time around than the previous one. It’s been emotionally exhausting.

So as you can see I’m just tapped. I’ve got no creative juices. I’m just trying to get through it all. I cry about once every day over something. I’ve blown it at times as a mother and a wife because at times I struggle with my own selfish desires.

It’s easy to be a giver and caretaker when things are good. But when times get tough, there’s a breaking point, and then selfishness kicks in–What about me? What about my pain? What about my needs? And I think that when Owen is feeling pretty well and even when he is feeling so sick there’s not logical reason to believe he could meet my needs at that time. But the thoughts still come. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with those feelings. And then when I get into that, I don’t serve as joyfully as I once did. Selfishness reveals the ickiness inside me that I’m desperate for God to purge me from. Maybe this is part of the plan, part of why I have to go through this. God uses all things for good in the lives of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. God disciplines whose he loves. God’s spirit sanctifies and convicts his Children.

So I’ve been praying a lot–thanking God for the blessings in my life and asking him for forgiveness for my selfishness and the strength and love to keep serving my husband and kids above myself. Right now as I write this, I feel His Spirit inside me telling me this truth:

This is only a season. And even in this season of back pain and a sick husband and an endless list of to-dos, there is still much I’m blessed by.

My Blessings in this Trial
  1. My raise which as afforded me the finances to hire a housekeeper twice a month to do the deep cleaning.
  2. Extra time with my kids during summer vacation.
  3. Owen is so honest with me. And his transparency about his struggles and thoughts have been rather humbling and inspiring
  4. Our friends and church family who have  blessed our family with donations, meals, prayers, and emotional support.
  5. My husband who has not allowed his Cancer to stop him from running his business and bringing in income.
  6. Owen’s family who have come out to help us with our house needs (landscaping, housecleaning, cooking, and babysitting).
  7. Owen’s friend and masseuse Evan has given me one massage and offered me one more hour for free to work specifically on my pained area due to my extra work and scar tissue.
  8. Benjamin, my third child has finally accepted potty-training and is cooperating now with going to the bathroom in the potty. Buying one set of diapers is right around the corner!
  9. Reading Proverbs this summer has really opened my eyes to recognizing my own foolishness and therefore, desire for wisdom and growth as a person and child of God.
  10. My wonderful time in the Writing Project, working with other teachers and reigniting a love for teaching that had waned over time.

Well I’m glad I wrote this. I know this blog was not craftily put-together. I wrote this one more for myself than for my readers. More because despite my lack of creativity or eloquence, I needed to get my thoughts down. I needed to analyze my situation and find meaning and purpose in it all. And it has worked.

silversmith sweats over his fireIt doesn’t mean that my back has stopped hurting, that my Scotty has started eating solids, that my husband feels well, that my house is in order, that my app will bet made any time soon, or that my husband and I will be free from arguments. But it does mean that despite all those struggles, God loves me. And he is using this all for good. I just have to be in this fire with him for a while. It’s the only way for silver and gold to be refined. And its the only way God can refine me. But just like a Goldsmith or a silversmith, who knows the metal is finally ready when he sees his own image in its reflection, God has to sweat over me and with me in this heat to form me into the image he has planned for me–His Image. That is love. And so while it may seem like I’m someone cursed at times, I’m really a blessed woman. My husband too.

This whole trial reminds me of a hymnal I remember singing in the back pews of CBC (Community Baptist Church) of Alta Loma when I was a girl:

Refiner’s Fire

My hearts one desire

is to be holy,

set apart by you my master

ready to do your will.

 

 

Night

nightI love the night. While the sky darkens and the sun hides its head under the horizon, reality and what really matters become clearer in my home.

As a working mom, my day is filled with chaos— most days are a spit up cleaning, diaper changing, The Regular Show watching, grocery shopping, worker beeing, traffic sitting, copy machines breaking, coffee spilling, kids screaming, lesson planning, internet researching, phone texting, Facebook scrolling, dinner scrambling, dirty boy washing, loud music playing kind of day. It’s hard to see and hear and be under it all.

But at night…

We cuddle with our children as we settle for bed. We read stories or tell stories and above all else, we pray together. Owen and I listen to their prayers first as we close our eyes and then model other ways to pray. But sometimes their prayers are our model—pure and unadulterated, open to see what we as adults don’t see in the hubbub of the loud and distracting day.

Thank you for the funny people in our town

Thank you for my toes

Thank you for our pictures

At night as Owen and I lay in bed, I’ll wake up in the stillness to feel him reach out his arm over to mine …and I know he is saying, “I’m not mad at you for that spat we had yesterday afternoon right before dinner. I love you.” And then I scoot over closer to him and make sure that at least one part of my body is touching his thereafter–a foot, a hand, a leg.

The humble truth comes out at night. None of the chaos matters. You matter. We matter. God matters.

At night-time, we talk about our day, we ask for advise, share our fears, our laughter, our conquests and need for growth.

We have time to be still at night. To breathe in deeply and know we are here and we have a purpose and we are blessed. That God is here with us. That we are each others’ biggest fans.

Night brings us back to center like a Sunday sermon, giving us the strength to make it through the next day.