Friday, May 21, 2010

The Dreaded "D" Word


Such a terrible word. Such terrible wounds fanning out like a spider's web, touching more than the two parties involved.

Just this week I learned of two separate couples who find themselves in the throes of divorce proceedings. One divorce involves no children, while the other has two very young souls enmeshed in the chaos. Even though the first couple have no children there are still parents, other relatives, and friends that are affected forever by the division.

I remember when a sister went through a divorce and we struggled as a family to divide ourselves from him and his family out of loyalty to my sister. Friendships that involved both my sister and her former husband were stretched thin between the two. Eventually a side won the friendship battle. Even so, everyone still lost in the end.

When I suffered through my own divorce, even in the freedom there was extended pain. My mother-in-law was very dear to me, but now I've neither seen nor spoken to her in eighteen years. My mother and my ex's older sister were friends and taught Sunday School together in their church. Now they only speak to each other when necessary. There's that family loyalty to consider.

Having been through it all, I understand first-hand why God hates divorce. It tears into the very heart and soul of humanity - after all, God is about relationship. It's why He created us in the first place. Even in that perfect garden, God saw that humans needed other humans even though we eventually screwed up His perfection.

I know the legalists preach no divorce and no divorce/remarriage. I understand where they are coming from - I used to be one of them. But now that I see scripture from the side of having lived through the painful web of divorce and it's aftermath, I think I understand the deeper heart of what Christ was trying to get across to humanity two-thousand years ago.

There are never any winners, only losers when it comes to divorce. Relationships are shattered and most times irreparable, and God sees hurt upon hurt heaped upon humanity.

Which is why He hates that dreaded "D" word so much.

Because in many ways divorce equals death.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Peace and Quiet - Rumbles to Follow

Rain is falling softly outside under an overcast sky. The wind whispers through the trees, the morning quiet and undisturbed.

But my son and his friends will soon wake and the morning quiet will be followed by eruptions of rambunctious teenaged boys.

And I thought they were pretty crazy when they were kids!

Since my son didn't have to work last night, he invited friends over to the house once again. There have been few weekends where we've been home without a schedule for many long months now, so he's taking full advantage of it. Later today they're going to go out and see the new Robin Hood movie starring Russell Crowe.

Haven't they remade that tale enough by now????

I'm glad though that he's having a chance to reconnect with friends outside of school. We've been on the move so much that he's had little opportunity of late. It's something I need to take advantage of too and learn from his example.

Last night I received a call from a dear friend of mine that I haven't talked to much in a long time. She and I have missed running into each other most of the few Sundays I've been at my own church since January. Last weekend we were actually in town because of my son's prom, but then she was away to spend the day with her parents for Mother's Day.

Go figure.

It was so nice to reconnect with her. I haven't realized how much I've missed my close friendships until that call. We updated each other on our lives. She asked about Mom, and I asked about her Marine son, his wife and granddaughter. Sometimes it is so hard for me to believe that she's a grandma.

Grandmotherhood will be fun someday myself, though I'd like to put it off until my son has at least finished college. :-) I only hope I've taught him well enough from the error of my own ways.

In the meantime, it sounds like the boys are stirring from slumber now that it is almost 12:45. And now the quietness of the morning gives way to the rumbles of the afternoon.

Or was that thunder?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Now or Never

Life can be so interesting sometimes. With everything that has transpired in the past several months, I'm getting ready to do something I never thought I'd do at this stage in my life.

I'm going back to school.

When I was younger, my parents owned a little fast-food joint in the small town where we grew up. That entrepreneurial bug bit me back then (even though I never wanted to work in the food industry again) and has always been there in the back of my mind since - nagging away like a bitter old woman.

So I'm going back to school to garner some additional skills and open my own business.

With my many years in the banking and finance industry, I've gained a wealth of knowledge and skills that will translate to any industry - leadership, management, financing, tangible equity, spreadsheets, P&L's, and (my favorite) employee development. Many people go into business very knowledgeable in their field but without these basic elements of finance and management to help them succeed. This is a death knell for any small business owner.

So many new business owners only look at the income without focusing needed attention on the bottom line. They pull the equity out of their business for their personal needs without leaving that necessary element in the business to build it for the future. They think once they start their business that they'll become wealthy and can relax and live a life of leisure while the peons take care of running the business. Wrong-o!

Being a small business owner means you are the first one in and the last to leave - plus you take it home and work on it every single night. You're constantly researching to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with the latest industry trends. People have short attention spans and you must keep finding inventive ways to make them come back for more. Ownership is not an 8-5, 40 hours a week event. It is a marriage, 24-7.

I remember how my mom would open the restaurant and my dad would close it (after he got in from his teaching job). My mom was a teacher at one time too but they quickly learned that they had to have someone onsite at all times, so Mom gave up her position to focus on the business. Even after closing, they'd count up the money and do the books during the late-night newscast. Anytime we tried taking a vacation, ultimately we'd end up cutting it short and rushing home because of some emergency or mechanical failure.

One time we were in Florida for a long-term family vacation, the first we'd taken in many years so far from home. My dad ended up having to fly back home to take care of a massive mechanical failure and then fly back to Florida for the drive home. The potential income lost was greater than the expense of a last minute ticket.

So here I find myself, on the threshold of headaches, heartburn, and pocketbook failure potential. But if I don't do this now I may never have said opportunity again. Reward never comes without a measure of risk.

Mom's taught me that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Cancer Journey

I've been giving more thought of late to the idea of moving forward with writing a book about my mom's cancer journey.

It's been quite interesting seeing the emotional roller coaster my mom has ridden on (along with a few of us standing by her side). In the beginning was fear of the unknown, the questionable mammogram, the emergency sonogram, the rushed biopsy.

The results.

Then came the inconsolable terror of the diagnosis, the sense of unreality, how this could be happening. Those days were such a blur, no sleep, constant worry, fear of the known and how to comprehend it all. Mom and Dad could hardly function and it took an army of us to band together to make sure we got to all of the appointments and scans, pre-op blood work and heart monitoring accomplished.

Before acceptance had much of a chance to take hold, Grandma passed away, further complicating an already emotional situation and weaving loss upon loss through all our hearts. It almost seemed like too much at the time.

Eventually a tentative acceptance hovered over her as Mom placed herself firmly in God's hands, so confused, so scared, but secure in the loving hands of the Father. Surgery came and she experienced loss of the breast, still intermingled with the loss of her mother, and we all grieved.

But grieving can be healing too.

She experienced the high of being free of detectable cancer cells in any lymph nodes but faced the reality of coming chemo treatments. Fear permeated again, but acceptance of the path laid before her came shortly upon its heels.

The first chemo treatment was a fright-filled event again, but each successive treatment has revealed a resiliency she probably didn't know she had. Once again, loss was experienced - this time her hair - but grieving and acceptance quickly moved her through those stages.

With the fourth chemo treatment, I was able to be present with her and saw a miraculous change in Mom's attitude. She walked into the facility like it was any other day, had all of her papers in tow, greeted everyone with a smile and got down to business without any assistance from anyone else. Then she picked out her chair and the day began.

What a change from the beginning stages of this journey!

Even though I know Mom doesn't like the chemo treatments and after effects, she knows their purpose, accepts what comes - but she also knows that this too shall pass and she'll be back on the road to better health and living life again very soon. Her attitude has become infectious and is an inspiration to everyone who comes in contact with her.

After all, she's only got two more chemo treatments left and then she'll be done. We're all wondering what her hair will look like once it starts to come back in.

And then where the next part of her journey will lead.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Prom 2010

My baby boy is growing up so fast.

Last night was his junior prom. Fortunately he had a really good time, but it almost was an absolute disaster.

During his choir trip to Chicago, he and another girl became friends - only friends but such that he asked her a few weeks later to go to prom with him. He had this really elaborate plan with which to ask her - so it was a good thing she said "yes".

At least I thought so at the time.

This past week, right before prom, his date backed out on him. She claimed to have gone with a friend the year before - only as friends - and that it had turned out rather disastrous. Her excuse was that she didn't want to repeat the same mistake. Personally, I think someone else asked her and she really wanted to go with him.

Only problem - she'd already said yes. Plus we're talking my son, who is not some whack-job waiting to get a girl alone on prom night. At least that isn't the way he was raised. My son and I were up Friday night until almost midnight talking about it all. But he was going to go ahead and go and walk the red carpet alone.

I went to bed Friday night completely broken hearted. You can mess with me all day long, but you mess with my son and I will NOT be held responsible for the ire your stupidity raises. I learned a long time ago that there is a raging momma bear inside me and would probably be capable of murder if you mess with my cub.

Or at least a severe roughing up and dressing down. Hopefully neither you nor I will ever have to find out.

Saturday morning he seemed better, but I stewed all day. Talked to a dear friend of mine later in the day about the situation. Her daughter graduated from the same high school a couple of years before and attends a local college. She piped up that she'd go with him if he wanted. That was the needed lift to my son's ego. What high school junior wouldn't love to escort an "older" woman to his high school prom?

I think I was even more excited for him than he was. Needless to say, he created a bit of a fuss with a hot (but so sweet) woman on his arm last night. Several people remembered her from a few years before and couldn't believe that she was with my son.

Right now I'm so proud of both of them - she for giving up an evening for a wounded young man, and he for accepting the offered olive leaf of friendship that was the salve he needed at just the right time.

Needless to say he had a crowd of guys talking to him at church today. Imagine there may be a few more come Monday morning.

How he handles the accolades will go a long way in teaching him what it means to be a true gentleman.