One Day At A Time

So I had a realization the other day while I was driving to work. I was feeling discouraged about some goals we set for ourselves several years ago which have not come to fruition. 2015 was supposed to have been the year that would launch us into a new era financially. In 2014 we made some big changes at the office and put ourselves in a position to hunker down, get the last of our debt paid off and to begin saving and making our financial dreams come true. We hired a business coach, created a vision for our business and set up a strategic plan to move things forward to make the vision a reality. We completed phase one of an office remodel just before Christmas and were ready to face all the greatness that 2015 had to offer.

Christmas Eve 2014 / Tiffanyaolson.com

Christmas Eve 2014

See, we’re on this plan, a Dave Ramsey plan. I know I have mentioned him several times before but if this is your 1st time reading my blog, in short he is a guy who helps people through a seven step process get out of debt and begin to save and eventually give money away. We discovered him several years ago when our lifestyle of outspending our income became so overwhelming that we sought out a way to make changes in how we were handling money. It sucks to see how much money you have on paper and yet have no clue as to why none of it is actually in the bank. Dave’s plan teaches you how to be in control of your money and to know where every dollar is spent.

We are all in. The prospect of being debt free is so exciting that it helps us stick to the plan. The problem? Well, life is the problem. See if you listen to Dave’s radio program, (or podcast or youtube channel… he’s everywhere) you start to see a pattern where most of the people are out of debt (except the mortgage) in 18 to 24 months. The big caveat is to listen to the debt free screams of those who have paid everything off including their mortgages. I am still waiting for our moment and we have been at this way longer than 24 months. There are a few things I have come to realize along the way. First of all a lot of those debt free screamers are under the age of 35, have very small children or no children at all and they live in the midwest where a really nice house is $150,000.00. This realization does not make me want to give up nor does it make me think that people that are older and have a lot more hurdles to jump through can’t themselves become debt free. What it does is make me realize that I cannot compare myself to them because our life, your life, is different.

In 2012, just after we had made the decision that we would no longer go into debt for anything no matter what, our daughter, then 8, got pneumonia. The fluid from her lungs seeped into her blood stream and we won a 3 day hospital stay in our home town and then a 4 hour ambulance ride to a children’s hospital in Portland where they inserted a tube into her chest and invited us to stay in the hospital for another 7 days. Thankfully she fully recovered and has had no lasting consequences from that adventure.

To mention that this was a budget strain is a huge understatement. (This all happened 6 months after Aimee died, so you can imagine how well I was handling this emotionally.) Fortunately the debt we incurred was medical and had no interest attached but all of our other debts took a back seat while we took care of this. Fast forward to 2015 where I said we were going to “git r done?” Well, as most of you know I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer on December 31, 2014. What is even more awesome than that is that while I was taking my turn in, The Chair the previous owners of our business decided to open up shop down the road. Because we didn’t know about Dave when we purchased the business we purchased it with debt and we owed them quite a bit of money. The hit was great enough that legal counsel was sought and the lawsuits began. I decided that my new goal for 2015 was to not die and I asked Mr. Wonderful to handle the legal stuff without me. As with most lawsuits the real winners were the lawyers as they were paid handsomely while neither suing party fared very well in the end.

I say all of this not to infer that my life is harder than other peoples but to shed light on the fact that if your progress isn’t what you hoped it would be then make sure you are taking a look around and discovering why instead of giving up because it’s too hard. I am proud to say that through all of this we have not occurred any more consumer debt. We cash flowed both cancer and lawyer fees. We did borrow a bit from a family member but paid him back two months later.

So here we are in 2017 once again ready to finish off the last of our debt. The ride hasn’t been pretty or easy or fun but we still have the will and determination to follow the baby steps and finally be in a place where we are no longer a slave to what we owe.

A friend of ours said the other day, “Living in debt is like being and indentured servant, as long as it’s there you have no control over your life.”

Living your life without payments… just how great would that feel?

Have a fabulous day my friends!

 

 

 

 

Food For Thought…

On a date with the hubs / Tiffanyaolson.com

On A Date With Mr. Wonderful At The Coach House in Coos Bay.

I love food. I love everything about it. Most of my favorite memories in life evolve around food. The greatest part about most of the holidays we celebrate here in America is the food that we consume during the celebration. When we (my family) think about celebrating anything food is the first thing that gets planned out. Camping, long road trips, a visit with friends. Just about everything in my life evolves around what is going to be eaten at the event. As I am writing this I am thinking about the bible study I will attend in a few hours and I am in charge of the snack. Thursday night is our 1st Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class with our buddies and I am going to call Pam to see what food I can bring.

This is the deal (my friend Heidi always says this… this is the deal) it’s really not about the food. On the surface it feels like it but the reality is that the food is the ice breaker for the gathering. Nibbling/eating/gorging is something everyone in the room can do and feel like they are part of the group. The simple act of having a table to gather around makes everyone in the room feel included and connected.

When I was 15 my family moved from Oregon to Southern California. On our 1st day of school we came home to a chocolate cake that my mom had made because she knew that it was probably not the easiest of days. I remember it to this day not because the cake was so stellar but because she took time out of her day to do something special for us. Cake was typically a birthday thing so to get cake on a random day of the year was cool. When my kids were little and they got shots I took them for ice cream and as they have gotten older I take them for ice cream for a good score on a test or grade in a class. Now that I have had cancer I am much more aware of what I am eating and have realized that my food rewards are not very creative nor helpful to me or my kids. What I am trying to do is connect with them in a tangible way. I want them to know that I love them and that I am proud of them and not just with words. I’m so chatty that I think most of what I say goes in one ear and out the other so these little rewards reinforce the words, and  like the cake when I was younger it doesn’t happen often so its special.

Easter Cake 2014 / Tiffanyaolson.com

Easter! 2014

As I am writing this I am realizing that my penchant for food has more to do with connecting with the people that I care about rather than the food itself. This is good for me because if its the connection that I crave then it goes to say that the quality of the food I am bringing should match the depth of the connection that I am trying to create, whether this is around my table at home or wherever the gathering is occurring.

My goal is to cut out refined sugar and most grains. If that is my personal goal than what I am serving in my home, offering at gatherings or giving as a reward should reflect that goal. The reality is that I am not doing all that great with it personally and it is reflected in all those other areas as well. Today, I will go back to writing down what I eat. In the money world Dave Ramsey calls it planning to spend. In the food world it’s planning to eat. I heard this quote once that said, “If you fail to plan then you are planning to fail.”

I am tired of failing.

So my friends, do you have any tips or suggestions on how to live and eat healthier?

Have a fabulous day!

Get Out The Door…

So January is in full swing as you well know. I don’t know about you but I am not much of a New Years resolution setter, but I do have some goals set for this year and one of them involves running. With all of the ups and downs of surgeries this past year I find myself once again in a position of completely starting over with the whole running thing. I am no longer in a place in life where I can take several months off and then just get up and run three miles. I have to begin with walking … a lot of walking. Then after a few weeks of this I can begin a walk to run program and SLOWLY  begin to build my mileage back up.

I am in the walking phase right now and I was thinking that maybe some of you might be starting over again as well and if so then we can begin again together. Mentally I like to have walked 3 miles 3 or 4 times a week for several weeks before I begin any walk to run program. Right now I am ending my second week of 3 mile walks. When I ran my half marathon last year I used this great walk to run app on my phone that told me exactly what I needed to be doing and when. I started with working up to a 5k (3.2 miles) and once I was comfortable running 3 miles several times a week I began the 1/2 Marathon training program. The only problem with this app now is that they went up from $5 per year to $10 per year. Which isn’t a big deal except for the fact that I feel like I am being nickel and dimed everywhere and I didn’t want to add one more thing to the list. So I downloaded Runkeeper. So far I like it. I am using the free version and it tells me how far I have gone on each walk and has different voice options to tell you how far you  have gone. I chose the military voice and he keeps telling me that I am the, “best maggot on the block.”

After next week I will begin the walk to run training plan and see how that goes. My end all goal for this year is a full marathon in October. I’d like to do the Eugene 1/2 again in May but I’m not so sure I will be ready by then. Time will tell. I build up so slowly not because of lack of drive or ambition but because I have been sidelined soo many times in my running history with calf and shin pain. I find that if I am super careful then I avoid these issues.

Last year when I was training I posted pics of myself at the end of each milestone run on Instagram. This year I have begun doing short little video clips. I do it because it motivates me to keep going and it gives me something tangible to look at to see how far I have come. I miss my long runs up the slough from last spring and am excited to get back to where I was and to push beyond what I have ever thought possible for me.

None of this is easy, it’s freezing cold here and walking in the freezing cold or in the rain is sooo not the same as running. I have even had to go to the mall to walk a few times this week because the down pour was so heavy and being cold and wet didn’t sound like so much fun. Also there is the reality that my body is just plain broken. Sure it’s been patched back together but once broken no matter how much patching you do it’s never the same. Most of us at this stage of life are in the same boat as no one gets to this stage of life unscathed. I mention it only so that you will know for all the smiles in the photos and fun videos that I put out there, there is always a back story of something that has to have been overcome to get me to the point of getting out the door.

Just yesterday my incision from December’s surgery was red and painful again. We live 2.5 hours from my Dr. so in order for him to see what is going on I have to send him pictures. Well, I couldn’t get a good enough photo of it myself so I went to our office and here we were, Mr. Wonderful and I, in the back room of our office, my shirt is up and he is on his knees taking photos of my breast to then text to the Dr. I am begging him not to get my face in the photos and praying that one of the girls that works with us does not come around the corner in that moment. Fun times! Once we sent the the photos the Dr. asked me to to come in. So I drove to the 2.5 hours to Eugene for him to tell me that we will keep monitoring it, I went to the grocery store and then drove the 2.5 hours back home.

I say all of this because getting out the door and doing something that makes me feel normal helps me get through those days that are not even close to normal. So, get out the door. Even if it’s just down the street and back. We all have to start somewhere and sometimes we have to start again and again and again. But if you never start you will never know what you could have accomplished.

1/2 Marathon 2016 / TiffanyAOlson.com

Have a great day my friends!

 

Engage…

rod-n-tiff-winter-2017 / TiffanyAOlson.com

 

 

Have you ever been at the grocery store or the mall or anywhere and saw someone you knew but felt so overwhelmed by your life or circumstances you quickly ducked or walked away? The desire is not to be seen so you would not have to talk about your life… or theirs. Sooo hoping that I am not the only one in this category. How many times have I seen someone in public who could have used an encouraging word or even just a smile but I was so consumed with myself and my issues that I turned and went the other way? Too many to count. To be fair when life is continually kicking you in the face you get to a point where you don’t know what to say to others and you are terrified about the questions they are going to ask you. I am not great at being evasive and I have little to no ability to tell someone everything is going fine when it’s not. I have discovered that I have a two question limit. I can beat around the bush for two questions but once the third pressing question comes around I run out of pleasantries and the truth gets vomited all over the asker.

When I was going through chemo and had no hair my mom had gotten me this great wig. This wig is so great that people stopped me everywhere I went telling me how great my hair looked. I’m not kidding I won more attention wearing that wig than I have ever received in my whole life. (I am wearing the wig in my blog photo) But here’s the deal, no one ever stopped at saying, “I love your hair!” They kept going… “No seriously, I love your hair!” “Where do you get it done?” “How do you make it look so great?” In the beginning, when I still wasn’t feeling great I would say thank you a few times. By the third question, however, I would just tell them that I had cancer and it was a wig. A smarter person could have kept the charade going and relished in all the compliments. But the reality is I am just not that smart and I had no energy to fake it beyond a few questions. When I was feeling better and a bit more like myself, at the third question I would just take the wig off and tell them for $200 they could go buy themselves the same hair. Nice, huh? You can imagine how uncomfortable people felt and the blank stares I received after these encounters.

The other night Mr. Wonderful and I ran into some old friends, Tim and Jessica, in Eugene. We were in town because I had developed an infection from my most recent surgery and I was getting it checked. When we began chatting with our friends (Tim’s a pastor and I used to work for him) he began asking me how I was doing, I said fine. He said, “No really,  how are you doing? I smiled and said, “I’m good!” He then looked at me and said, “The look you are giving me says, stop asking me questions, I don’t want to talk about it.” It was then that I blurted out, “Well I have an infection and the Dr. is worried about it, but it’s Christmas and we are going to grab a drink and go watch a movie and pretend that everything is fine.” Tim laughed and said, “That’s what everyone does at Christmas!” (ps. the infection cleared after antibiotics (-: ) The restaurant was crowded,  Tim and Jessica would have never known I was there had I not walked up to their table. But I made the effort, made it through the awkward moment and ended up having a good laugh.

I am reading a book by Michele Cushatt, called I Am, A 60 Day Journey To Knowing Who You Are Because Of Who He Is, in it, she points out that Jesus never shied away from the hurting or the afflicted. He never thought to himself that their burdens were too big to add to his own. Instead, he came over for dinner and spent a significant amount of time with the lost and the lonely and brought peace and restoration to their lives.

The same is true for you,  you know. Regardless of your bruised and battered soul, Jesus welcomes you without condition.

Come.

Are you weary? Weighed down by  your life’s story? Overwhelmed by unknowns? Come. We’ll carry it together.

This world is not an easy one to weather. We will not always be able to carry another’s burdens along with our own. But when we find our rest in Jesus first, we’ll have far more strength to welcome the Dianes (friends) we meet like He does.

I’m glad I did not shy away from saying hello to Tim and Jessica. They are much better at holding life’s challenges closer to the vest than I am but it was great to laugh with some old friends in the middle of a room full of strangers on a hard day.

Step out and say hello to fellow weary travelers that you see in the grocery store. It’s hard but in the end, both of you will feel a little less alone.

 

Have a great day my friends!

 

Happy New Year!! 

 

Snow! / TiffanyAOlson.com

Snow in The Coos! (I may or may not have woken him up at 5:30am so he wouldn’t miss it. (: )

2017 Has Begun! Wahoo! A New Beginning! … There is something about beginning that makes my heart skip a beat whether it’s the 1st page of a book that you have been dying to read, those 1st few steps out the door for the walk that is to begin your path back to being physically fit or even the fact that daylight is beginning to come a bit earlier each morning. Beginning doesn’t mean easy, it means fresh, new, being done with what was, embracing what is and what will be.

Shorts in the snow! / TiffanyAOlson.com

New Years Day 2017 – Yes! He’s in shorts!! Brrr

There are several special people in my life who will be beginning 2017 with chemo treatments or trying to figure out how to continue living after having lost loved ones or friends who have walked away from unhealthy situations and have physically moved to a different city to gain new perspective and hope for a better life. Beginning is best done surrounded by those that love you and who are going to stand with you in the trenches.

What better way to start out the year than with these words,

“Be Strong and Courageous!”

These words came courteously out of by bible reading this morning in Joshua chapter 1. Why Strong and Courageous? Because…

“Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you- (Joshua 1:3) … “I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1:5) “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

How?

“Study this book (the bible) of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:8)

Joshua was about to lead the people of Israel into the land that God had promised to them generations ago. The leader (Moses) had passed away and now Joshua was in charge of leading over 2 million people into a land filled with hope and promise but not without treacherous challenges to face. It wasn’t going to be a peaceful transition. There were huge battles to be fought, precise instructions to be followed and hearts that needed to have the end goal in mind.

Beginning is exciting, hard, hope filled and scary all at the same time. The battles we fight for the most part aren’t on a true battlefield but rather in infusion rooms, in our homes or even within our own hearts. In order to navigate all that is before you, you need to stay close to the One who has already won the war. Our end goal? Heaven and to take as many people with us when we go. My 2017 is a true fresh start and I am filled with all those emotions in regards to what the days ahead will look like. Wherever you stand whether you are beginning this year excited or unsure the words remain the same

Be Strong and Courageous! … I Will Not Fail You or Abandon You. … The Lord Your God Is With You Wherever You Go.

If all this wasn’t enough of a promise for the new year, God decided to blanket the Southern Oregon Coast with a inch or two of snow this morning. A beautiful way to wake up and be given a visual reminder of how clean and white the slate is for the new year.

Jan 2, 2017 / TiffanyAOlson.com

Winter Wonderland

Happy 2017 My Friends!!

 

 

What To Do Now

It began two years ago on Christmas Eve. It ended 10 days ago on Dec. 5th 2016. I found the lump on Christmas Eve and heard the words, “You have cancer” on New Years Eve of 2014. Treatment ended in October of 2015. Unilateral Mastectomy, four months of chemo, one stint in the hospital half way through and six and a half weeks of radiation 2.5 hours from home which meant that I was gone 5 days a week from my family and home on weekends for 6 weeks. Of course this was just the health side of things and as we all know life doesn’t stop happening just because you are sick. We had a whole host of other things going on in our lives that could not just take a back seat while I tried to get well.

As 2016 began to come into view everyone kept saying, “2016 is your year!” I so wanted to believe them and wanted more than anything to feel like 2016 was going to begin with clean slate. Overall this year hasn’t been a bad one but the truth is that there was a lot of hold over from 2015. Just because treatment stops it doesn’t mean that your cancer adventure is over and when its not over you feel like you are constantly starting and stopping life. Just as you begin to jump back in to a “normal” routine, something else pops up that throws everything off kilter again and you have to start over. I did train for and run a 1/2 marathon in May. I had another unilateral mastectomy in June which took a bigger toll on my body than I was expecting and I finally had my reconstruction surgery on Dec. 5. It’s only been 10 days so the swelling and soreness are still here and its another 5 weeks before I can begin to exercise again but I am beginning to look ahead to 2017 and realizing that this year feels different. I have no planned surgeries and all the other issues that we have been dealing with for the past year and a half have also come to a close.

I truly feel like I am beginning this year with a clean slate. I know that there will still be challenges and hard things that happen, but this year I am not bringing anything in that will be added to whatever else is going to take place. I am reading a book right now called, I Am, by Michelle Cushatt. Michele also had cancer but it was very different from mine and she had it three times. Her suffering was much greater than mine and what she lost physically was much more painful and devastating than anything that I have walked through. I came across these words the other day in her book and they describe exactly how I am feeling right now because even though our trials have been different, emotionally anyone who suffers feels this way at some point on the road back to life.

“This happens to us all at some point. A crisis hits like a storm. Divorce. Death. Loss. Our stories differ, but the fallout is the same: we lose sight of who we are. We become unrecognizable. And so we struggle to regain our footing, to find our place, to feel secure in who we are.
But no matter how we grab for a sense of significance, it remains out of reach. We’re not sure who we are anymore, and we haven’t a clue where to find the answer.”

These words make me want to jump up and shout, “Yes!” at the top of my lungs. She nailed it. Not just for me but for everyone who has ever suffered anything… all of us. The words don’t change anything but they make me feel more normal and less alone. I was at the dentist office the other day and the girl who was cleaning my teeth mentioned that it has been 5 years since one of her friends was diagnosed with breast cancer and she just now is coming out of her shell and beginning to resemble who she was before all of this began. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me in the last few years that they see me smile but its not the same smile as before. Yes there is a smile but its guarded, unsure and always holding something back. These are hard words to hear but its true. I am looking forward to 2017 because I am wanting to find that “answer,” to regain my sense of significance and to leap with abandon into my new life. I want to let it all go and just live.

What are you looking forward to the most for 2017?

And Life Marches On…

 

tree! 2016 / TiffanyAOlson.com

 

So here we are… December 7. We have begun shopping and planning and decorating and probably stressing just a bit for all that needs to be done in the next several weeks. Me? I’m all done. Except for the wrapping I have every single gift, the house is decorated, the tree is up and I have even gotten in several Christmas movies, much to the chagrin of Mr. Wonderful. He He He

Before you go thinking that I am superwoman I need to let you know that my madness has a reason and that I did stress, I just stressed a little earlier than you. (: See, I LOVE Christmas. I love it all. The mess, madness, gifts, food, drinks, parties, all of it. I didn’t want to miss it. So I got it all done early. Mr. Wonderful’s mom went to be with Jesus in late October so we planned to go to Arizona for Thanksgiving and have an extended stay with family to be able to have some unhurried time to honor her life and her memory. The week after we got home I was scheduled to have my final surgery and my parents were coming so that they could help our family keep functioning while I was down.

Tree! / Tiffanyaolson.com

 

So, in light of all that I hunkered down and got everything done. It is by no means perfect and those of you who know me know that I don’t tend to have issues with making things perfect. I just like things to be done and for those around me to feel special. Hence the random Christmas lights strung up in our kid’s rooms instead of the little trees we have done in the past. Festive? Yes! Attractive? No! Do the kids enjoy them? Yes! Points for mom? Yes! Since there are more yes’s than no’s I’m callin it a win.

I think what I am enjoying the most about having everything done is that now that I am in full recovery mode I am not thinking about what I need to do to make this holiday special. I am being given the gift of taking things as they come without all the added stress of everything that needs to take place. And things are happening. Bridger keeps getting the flu over and over again. Papa Freddie got sick as soon as he got here but because things are done, I am present and do not have my mind running in different directions thinking of all the things that I need to do.

Tree 2016! TiffanyAOlson.com

ok … I did vacuum up the pine needles. I do like things to be clean☺

The greatest gift in all of this? I now have the time to focus on what this season is really all about. I have begun my advent books and I have a whole list of other books lined up to read that I am excited about. My family is here and we get to spend the season enjoying each other. Also the fact that the Dr. decided to suck some fat out of my belly to use to make my boobs look a little more normal was an added bonus. Yes,TMI! But it makes all this pain a little more worth it knowing that in the process I will have somewhat normal looking boobies AND  a flatter belly. Just keepin it real!

Final Surgery 2016/ TiffanyAOlson.com

Have a fabulous day my friends!!

Giving Thanks…

family-2016 / Tiffanyaolson.com

Nutcracker 2016

I can’t believe that another year has come and gone and yet here we sit at the end of 2016. There is so much to be thankful for, so many ways that we have been taken care of and provided for. Yes there has been loss and things have happened that I do not quite understand but even in the midst of this there has been grace and for that I am thankful.

Tiffany and Melissa / Tiffanyaolson.com

An unexpected visit with my Melissa from Florida!!

I was struck the other day by a word. A word that has great significance, meaning and power. A word that picks you up off the floor and gives you the strength to live another day. This word is a reminder of your worth and your purpose here on this earth. It’s a word that I am going to tuck into my heart and repeat it to myself over and over again until the day arrives that I never again doubt my worthiness or how much I am loved. This word is chosen.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world…. Ephesians 1:4

 

You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit… John 15:16

 

… because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit… 2 Thessalonians 2:13

 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Think about this for a moment. Chosen. Elected. Selected. A choice is not something that happens by default. It is a conscious decision. God sees and knows all about me and all about you and he still chose us! I look at my life and the decisions I make on a daily basis and have no clue why God would still choose me. But when I was reminded of this the other day it made me want to come up with a way to keep it at the forefront of my mind. Because being chosen means there is a plan, it means there is a purpose and I haven’t screwed up so badly that I am unwanted. Acknowledging the decision doesn’t make life any easier or make all of the hard stuff go away but understanding the act of choosing makes me stand a little taller and want to be worthy of the decision that was made.

nat-nutcracker-2016 / Tiffanyaolson.com

Nat – 1st performance on pointe. Nutcracker 2016 – Waltz of the Flowers

This week we are attending a memorial service for Mr. Wonderful’s mom, our home has been decorated for Christmas for several weeks as I knew the end of November was going to be crazy and I wanted to be ready for my final surgery at the beginning of December. All of the gifts have been purchased and are waiting to be wrapped and put under the tree that we will get on the 1st weekend of December. I am hoping to spend the month hanging with my family and soak up the reality of the baby that chose to come to earth to save us all.

Happy Thanksgiving My Friends!!

 

Run Your Race…

I like the idea of using the act of running as a metaphor for life. I used to run 10k’s with my dad in Jr high…

Road Race 1981 / Number Your Days

Road Race 1981 – Ran with my dad

I ran track and cross country in high school and have run various road races from 5ks up to half marathons in my adult years. Don’t go thinkin that this means I am a great runner because speed has never been a big part of the equation for me. Obviously some races/seasons have been better than others but overall I’m just a girl who likes to run because I can and because it helps me gain perspective on life.

I have had very dedicated seasons of running like when I trained for my half marathon last May and yet other times when I have set my running shoes aside for a year or more. No matter how long it has been and no matter how busy things are the run always beckons. It waits for me to come back and to acknowlege that on the road is the one place that I feel most alive, empowered, courageous and strong. When I logged all those miles after breast cancer treatment every single step I took was taking me away from sickness and back to health. Every single week that I added one more mile to my long run, I cried.

the 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson.com

The Half … May 1, 2016

Running doesn’t come easily for me. It’s a struggle. I have spent most of my adult running life trying to get my calf muscles to relax and to then not become shin splints or stress fractures. I was thrilled when I discovered compression socks. These socks do however begin to make me tip the scale a bit from cute to dorky but I’m going with it because they make my calves not hurt. Two weeks after my 1/2 Marathon I had the second half of my mastectomy. (My cancer was hard to detect the first go around so Mr. Wonderful and I decided that it was best to remove the other one rather than risk walking this road again.) The surgery was last June and we are now in November. I had a few bumps in the road while recovering and although I have been doing a bit of running it has mostly been walk/jogs. I logged my 1st 3 miles of straight running the other day and I was thrilled and bummed at the same time. Thrilled because I ran 3 miles, bummed because it hurt way more than I thought it would.

The good thing is that now I know that I can run three which means that I am going to coerce my 11 year old son to run a turkey trot with me on Thanksgiving day. I have my final reconstruction surgery in December and then 6 weeks of recovery. Mid January I hope to be back to walk/jogging and I have set my sights on the Portland Marathon for next October. A marathon has always been a dream of mine and I figure that now is a good a time as any. It is going to be brutal but so is life and the running will help me to face all of the things that this life brings.

I was asked this week to come up with a verse in the bible that calms my fears and gives me hope, this is what I chose…

Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Knowing that there are so many people watching, how do you want to be percieved? Are you the same you in every situation or do you clean things up a bit depending on the crowd you are with. Me? I can honestly say that I am not always the virtuous person that I would like to be. I like to laugh and at times I push the envelope a bit to get the crowd to laugh with me. It’s not very mature or Godly but I do recognize it as one of the weights that slows me down as I strive to finish strong.

I don’t have all of this figured out but I know that I am going to keep running literally and figuratively so that with every single step I become more of the woman God created me to be.

Have A Great Day My Friends!

What Happens When You Don’t Get What You Want?

 

Are You Qualified? / Tiffanyaolson.com

What do you do when you find yourself in a place of joy because a prayer has been answered and at the same time in a place of devastation because only part of your prayer ended in the result you desired?  Gratefulness and sadness at the same time. You don’t want to ignore the miracle that took place but your heart is in tatters because not everything worked out the way you thought it would.

Our town witnessed a true miracle a few weeks ago when after four nights in the wilderness Trevor Higgins was found alive and in good condition. Even those of us that are mere acquaintances of the family wept openly that momma and son were reunited. Hope swelled that dad (Shawn) would soon follow. I have never in my life heard so many people openly talk about prayer as I have recently. People that I didn’t think knew what prayer was were opening up their hearts and minds to the idea that maybe, just maybe, there might be someone or something out there that is ultimately in control of all that is seen and unseen. When I realized this I added them in to my prayers as well, hoping that whatever the outcome of this situation that people with even the tiniest shred of hope/faith/trust would not turn the other way when the intensity of the moment died down.

I have been given lots of opportunities to pray in my lifetime, as we all have. After all the praying that I have done I was struck in this last week with how my prayers in this situation felt a lot more like begging than actual prayers. Like I somehow felt that if I  just asked really really intensely, God would do what I wanted him to do. Nevermind that He created the whole universe and has had a plan for each of our lives since the very beginning. Nevermind that this life we are living is a part of His story not the other way around. We can come, we can ask and he will always answer. It’s just not always the answer we want to hear.

I’m not sure Jesus liked the answer he got in the Garden of Gesthsemane when he prayed so intensely that it was like he was sweating blood. He was praying that God would not make him walk through the crucifixion and that final moment when he would experience separation from God as he would be shouldering the burden of our sin. He asked if there was another way …

“Father if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. Luke 22:42-44

The difference between Jesus and us is that one little sentence…”Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I say I want the Lord’s will and I do but I think more often then not I truly want what I want and get frustrated when God’s will and mine don’t match up.

I certainly don’t have all the answers or any answers really. But I can go to the One who knows it all and find rest in the midst of all that I don’t understand. There are still a lot of prayers to be prayed, a lot of lives have been shattered and the pain runs deep. My brother in law died suddenly 11 years ago, he was 44. Aimee died 5 years ago, two days before her 31st birthday.  I know a bit about loss and suffering, not as much as some but more than others. I know enough to know that there is beauty in the midst of the pain, miracles happen and one day smiles will reappear. You never stop missing those that are gone and you always wonder what life would be like if they were still here. I also know that no matter what happens God is in control and he wants us to trust Him and his ultimate plan for all of our lives.

Lord I lift up the Higgins family to you today. You see their hearts and the deep anguish that they are experiencing in the fact that Shawn has not yet been found. You see Shawn, you know exactly where he is and what has happened to him. I ask for peace, grace and mercy for all the friends and family that are trying to cope with what has happened and for all the questions that have gone yet unanswered. Thank you that you love them all. All the family, all the friends. Please be with them as they struggle to even take the next breath. You see all, you know all, please fill in all the gaps where we as humans fail. Wrap this family in your loving arms and let them know you are close and how much you care for and love them. Amen.