Allowing their art and music to rise to my view

Mar 01

Allowing their art and music to rise to my view

Phew folks.  After eight rounds on this chemo, I am feeling weary.  I am continuing to open the door to my home (and our mess) and let people in to help with the tasks of day-to-day.  This week I’m writing a list of house projects that we are never going to get around to that will be up for grabs.  When Brad’s home, we want him with us rather than project-ing away.  We are afloat, but we have next-to-no momentum for things outside of must-be-done-now/today.

A few weeks ago a friend came in and I set her loose on reorganizing the girls’ bathroom.  Talk about a thankless task–it was a BIG job!  She found a significant number of empty toothbrush tubes (like, I think more than 10), more than a dozen toothbrushes, and spent a lot of time sorting hair clips, headbands, rubber bands, doodads, and accessories.  Plus travel bags, hair stuff, medicines, lotions. Girls and our potions, right?  In a delightful twist, the girls have actually had success and motivation(!) to keep that space (mostly) organized thanks to her system.  That room has a whole new mojo in it!  As an aside… what is with kids and toothpaste?  I don’t even understand how they get it on surfaces where I find it?

This week a friend came in and organized all of the hand-me down clothes (between Maren and Greta) so that they are ready-t0 go and no longer haphazardly stored (aka forgotten) in various bedroom closets and storage areas.  She also cleaned my floors even though floors are her nemesis.  And my heart doth sing today as I step crumb-free along my shiny floor.

I’ve eaten more home-cooked meals (by other people) this month than in a long, long time.  And when even re-heating and dishes loom too great in my view, it is nice to let the girls pick a gift card and consider dinner done that way too.  Both are equally valuable in relieving the burden!

Another friend — a friend I don’t even know well — came in and deep cleaned in a way that the rooms she did hadn’t felt so clean — ever, I think.  I don’t know what it is about walking in to a clean house, but I have loved that feeling since I was twelve-years-old.

People — friends — hear about projects I’m working on and they contribute: a gift, a check, a happy trinket, a Jen-thing that spoke to them.  Real help comes in so many forms.

Another friend came in and did three jobs requiring wall-anchors and tools.  It is no small thing to have a functional towel holder in the bathroom.  (Note to self: in the future, do not remove even a minimally functional towel rod until you have it’s replacement in the hand of a capable installer.)

I made the comment to Brad last night that we are able to function in the illusion of normalcy because we are having a lot of helpers.  Laundry, meals, quick blitz cleans, real deep cleaning, work days… all of this is keeping us (me, especially) feeling like I am doing today well.  All of these servants, this village, they are helping so very significantly, and I hope they know it.

I mourn the loss of my capability and capacity of these things, while simultaneously recognizing my healthy self shake would her head at that nonsense: who mourns the home drudgery?  Thus quickly I skip to recognize the blessing it is for it to be taken care of for me.  I focus on the gratitude for the service, and the sacrificial hearts who are willing to help.  It’s so much better to have people linking arms with us.

Another friend messaged me to say, “Hey girl.  How did your chemo go today?  We were praying.”  I love this because I didn’t do much praying yesterday (for whatever reason).  It is rejuvenating to know that others are thinking about me (and I know a LOT of you are without telling me so, so don’t worry if you don’t message me like this… I know!)  I also love that not every wants to/needs to come into my space to serve in a physical way.  There are so many more ways to love, and I am so fueled by my front-row-seat into people loving in their own languages.  I get notes in the mail, packages, emails, messages, gifts, and more.  Plus the many happy thoughts and prayers sent my way.  When I would deign to feel low, sad, angry, bitter, jealous, lonely, I am quick to set my mind on the blessings: I have many more blessings than hardships and I can count them one by one on a daily basis to restore my attitude to be the best version of Jen.

I focus on the “get to’s”.  When out-of-town family comes in, I get to spend time with them, and also have some carved out Jen-time while I know my kids are building relationships with their less-seen relatives.  The out-of-towners help way more than they give themselves credit for.  Another “get to”: I got to eat lunch with Maren this week at her school.  Her face lit up when she saw me there, and she chose to not invite a friend to join us, preferring to have me to herself.  And that makes any mama heart sing.  My initiative and effort to make that date for us is absolutely the result of the village taking on the other things that I would have felt compelled to do with my good time.

And that is the very essence of why I’ve opened the door.  It gives me more good time.

Brad and I both worry about our girls’ sense of entitlement, being spoiled, and unappreciative.  (I think most privileged parents worry about this.)  Our situation exacerbates that worry for reasons that I think are probably pretty obvious.  Using my “good time” is also about choosing to be intentional with my parenting.  The other day I did some cleaning “the hard way”: I had Greta do it.  After ten minutes of Whine Fest, we wrote a checklist, and she then — very merrily, I might add — did all of the jobs on the checklist.  As she passed me carrying an armful of shoes to way the shoe closet she even said with great affect, “Mom, doncha know I LIKE to clean.  Aren’t I a Super Cleaner?”

I just shook my head, smiled to myself, and told her, “Yes.  You are a Super Cleaner Greta.  It is so important to take care of our things.”  Below is her checklist from that day: you can see she added some drawings and checks at the end because she independently found more jobs she should do, and (like me) wanted to see them on the checklist for the satisfaction of checking them off.  (Interpretation of the drawings on the checklist: she found some of her socks that needed to go to her dirty clothes basket, and some hair clips that needed to go to the bathroom.)  She’s also in the prolific art stage so I find her delightful drawings everywhere these days.  Every. Single. One. is a treasure.  Maren when through this phase too, and I saved way-too-many of hers too.  (And, to be clear, I trashed a bunch from both girls too because so.much.paper!)


Last week Maren was home sick for four days; she had Flu A, according to the pediatrician.  Greta and I started Tamiflu prophylactively along with Maren and — so far so good.  Maren is not 100% yet, but Brad, Greta and I managed to stay healthy.  (This is no small thing for me with my low immunity blood counts RE: chemo).  One of the best intentional things that I did with her was load up an old iPod with the songs of her choice.  For my woefully un-techy self, this required far more energy than it should have, but the music that has been playing in her space for the past week has been really energizing for her, and, I think, for all of us.

Simple pleasures and unexpected cheer; little drawings and dance party thumps fill my home these days.  It’s fun to see new things blooming in my girls all the time.

Yet there are so many things still on my desk.  Every medical paper for 2016 (eek, it’s March!), cards/notes to be written (untouched in months), Greta’s twenty-page kindergarten enrollment packet (whaaaat?), and other important — like, really important — things.  Deep breaths, right?  I’ll get to it.  I will.

Because I am not doing this alone.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. –Ephesians 3:16


  1. Praying!

  2. Ione Timm /

    You are simply a gift from God to all of us reading these blogs. If you can remain so positive with all that is on your plate, I certainly can tackle the little things on mine. Thank you for being you….

  3. Leah /

    You are absolutely not alone ??

  4. Jesus promised, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b, New Living Translation)

    I have no doubt that he has provided your village to help, and I know from being part of such a village that it is a blessing to those who are allowed to be helpers.

  5. Marlayne /

    Jen ~
    I am so glad you have troopers to help you ~ I wish I could pop on over to help ~ I do keep you & your family in my prayers ~ You have been such a mentor showing many the brighter side of life ~ You are such a loving Mommy & giving your girls a gift that they will know forever ~ I love that you made a list for Greta & she stepped into the challenge ( even having some fun )Hope Maren is feeling better & that everyone is smiling 🙂 I love your spirit & you have taught me a lot while being a caregiver to my husband Tom w/ALZ ( still at home ) 🙂 <3 :-)Peace be with you ~ Hugs 🙂

  6. Shelley Carter /

    Thank you for being a blessing to me today.

  7. Neecie /

    The wind from the window from your world always blows such beauty, courage and humour. Always sending love and prayers.

  8. Shari /

    Like you and your beautiful daughters, I too love checklists. On my list is always to read “Do Today Well.” You are so full of wisdom and insight – you teach and inspire all of us. Prayers and hugs to you and your beautiful family.

  9. annie /

    I have been thinking about you and your family these days. A friend of mine once said to me that sometimes when it seemed like there were just too many requests on her prayer list, she just held the list aloft in her hands and said, “Okay, Lord”. So this is what I do as I pray for you–I picture my hands holding your family up for God’s healing touch.

    It’s not surprising that you are weary. And when you just can’t pray, then people in your village will do that for you.

  10. Mommaj /

    Praying with you and for you…. To free you up to Be present for Brad, Maren and Greta ?. Serving you is such a blessing!! There is truth in the verse that states that where the Spirit is willing the flesh can be weak. Love you Jen