Happy Thanksgiving!

13.1- 2017 / TiffanyAOlson.com

 

Thanksgiving! Wow. Wasn’t it August, yesterday? 2017 is quickly winding down and I find myself looking back and wondering where it went. This year I think I will write myself a letter. In it I will write out what I am thankful for and what I  accomplished or could have done a bit better in 2017. Then I will turn my attention to what lies ahead and write out dreams and goals for the coming year. At the end of next year I will reread the letter so I will have better perspective on how things went and where I want to go from there.

Isn’t this a great idea? Since this is Thanksgiving week what a perfect week to get started on all I am thankful for in this season. If I get started now writing the letter won’t be so daunting when the 1st rolls around. I find any time I do any thinking or writing, if I begin with what I am thankful for the words begin to flow and the harder things I’m dealing with diminish a bit in the glow of what I have been given.

One of the greatest things standing out the most to me right now is the gift of friendship. I enjoy having a lot of people in my life, the variety provides perspective in a way nothing else can. I have a very special friend who went to be with Jesus this past week. She lived a long, full life and was dearly loved by her family and friends. She shared my love of reading and at 80 years old was over at my house cleaning with my besties when I was in chemo two years ago. She was very strong and never complained. She liked to hang with the girls and have a glass of wine or two but never wanted to be a burden or in the way. She was neither of these things. Instead, she was a delight to be around and was smart, kind and funny. She will be greatly missed.

I am grateful for is the gift God gave her daughter in her last hour of life. My friend was never one to discuss faith and although her daughter and friends had tried over the years to be an example of Christ’s love for her, we were never quite sure where she stood. The daughter prayed and God answered her prayer. He allowed an exchange to happen in a small but notable way that gave the daughter enough peace to know that God had intervened and was going to take her mother home to be with Him. As hard as it is to say goodbye, there is peace in being given the assurance of where she is now and I can’t think of anything to be more grateful for right now than this. There is beauty in the midst of the pain. I dearly wish there was no pain but I am grateful for the beauty.

As you gather with your family and friends this week, focus on the beauty. Find the good in the midst of the hard. Take a deep breath, look at all you have been given and be grateful.

Nutcracker 2017 / TiffanyAOlson.com

Nutcracker 2017

 

Have A Wonderful Thanksgiving My Friends!

 

 

 

 

and read it to yourself on the last day of 2018. I loved the idea of writing down all my hopes, dreams, goals and things I am thankful for and to have something tangible in my hand to see how much I a

The Best Seasons of Life

Hair Fall 2016 / TiffanyAOlson.com

Hair! Fall 2016

 

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. NLT

I do my best thinking in the shower and in the car. Of course, it happens this way because there is no way I can write down the thought because I am either wet or driving. But, every now and again the thought sticks and then gets reinforced in some way. I was mulling over the different seasons of my life the other day while in the shower, (Please don’t tell Mr. Wonderful because he keeps wondering why the hot water is running out. He he he.) While I was using up the hot water I was thinking about my life and it struck me that the most meaningful seasons were when I was connected to and trying to live with Christ.

I escaped my teen years with some pretty incredible friends but this is the only thing I can think back on with pride during those years. All I wanted was attention. I wanted to be liked. So, if I didn’t feel like I was getting enough attention I talked louder and the words that flowed from my mouth became cruder and uglier. What’s weird is when I look back on it now, is that this obnoxious me, became my new normal. I completely forgot who I was before, what I believed and how I wanted to live.

…Apart from me you can do nothing.

At 24 I had had enough of my life and moved back to the one place I knew of to get back to who I was. Oregon. Our old friends welcomed me like family and I was given the precious opportunity to once again become the girl I was before everything changed. I am still loud and chatty and in full disclosure the “s” word, flows a bit freely from my mouth at times but I no longer go to great extremes to get attention.

…Apart from me you can do nothing.

When I was 33 I was pregnant with our 1st child, I went home for a week to visit my family. A bunch of friends from high school gathered on the deck at The Hotel Del Coronado to hang out and reminisce about the good ol’ days. That day I was introduced to the wife of one of my friends. After the introductions, my friend laughed and said, “When I was explaining you to my wife I told her you were the only girl I had ever known who cussed like a sailor.” I wanted to shrivel up and die. I had forgotten that person and to think this is how I was remembered was pretty devastating.

My shower revelation happened on a Sunday morning. We went to church a few hours later and this scripture was on the big screen.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. NLT

See, when I went back to Oregon, I went back to Jesus. I went back to a place in my heart where I knew I was unconditionally loved. Do I still struggle with insecurities? Sure I do. But now I don’t look side to side for affirmation. I look up. God created me just the way I am. My actions and decisions come from a place of wanting to live a life that glorifies him and not me. I certainly don’t get it right all the time and my foot spends a heck of a lot of time in my mouth but day by day, minute by minute I am changing.

…Apart from me you can do nothing.

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!!

 

 

 

 

Remember Not To Forget…

The older I get the more  I am discovering how much I forget. Don’t get me wrong, I have always failed a bit in the whole short-term memory category. These days however, if it’s not written down, it’s not happening.  No matter how big or small, whatever the event or task that lies ahead it needs to be on a list or on a calendar and there have to be several notifications to remind me.

In January of 2016, I wrote a post called … Don’t Forget To Remember. It was me reflecting on my cancer diagnosis and how faithful God had been in orchestrating the diagnosis and all the hurdles we were able to jump in order to come up with a treatment plan. I wanted to remind myself to remember his faithfulness because life is super hard and if I can remember that He was faithful then, then I can know He will be faithful in the future.

Fast forward another year and a half or so and I am finding other areas of life where I can find reminders of God’s love and faithfulness. If your phone is nearby, pick it up and open your photos. Scroll. Look at all those faces of people you love and who love you back. I’ll bet you have a smile on your face right now. Such a simple act but a powerful reminder of what and who God has placed in your life.

On those days when I have seen one too many photos of someone’s fabulous vacation on Instagram or I have allowed the accomplishments and achievements of others make me feel like I am not enough and will never achieve anything, I remind myself to look at my photos. In biblical times God instructed his people to set up altars to remind them of what took place. He wanted them to pass by these altars and remember what He had done.

 In the ancient world the altar was almost exclusively built as a monument to remember or commemorate a divine occurrence which took place at a certain location. In ancient Israel altars were very significant, they symbolized communion with the LORD. They were a place of worship and a place to remember His covenant. The “altar’ was a place of “approach”, a place to call upon the name of the LORD and remember His glorious promises.

Photos are my Altars. They remind me of my place in this world and that without me some of those faces wouldn’t even exist. God created me to be exactly who I am and He placed little reminders along the way to show me how much I am loved and needed in the lives of the people he has given me. Take the time to look. Look at your life. Let your photos remind you about your significance in this world and how much you love and are loved in return.

Photos bring me great joy. They are my glimpses of love. They help me remember.

Have A Fabulous Day My Friends!

17 Years Baby!!!

 

Wedding Day 2000

 

17 years!! Tomorrow October 21, 2017, Mr. Wonderful and I will have been married for 17 years! Yay Us! It has been quite a wild ride and far from perfect, but sometimes the imperfection is what makes you perfect for each other.

There were a whole host of people who were unsure if Mr. Wonderful and I were a good fit. He’s very quiet and a “Steady Eddy,” emotionally. I am neither quiet or steady. Happy, sad, excited, mad or indifferent you will know it and most of the time … loudly. Some thought I was just, “too much,” for him and that in time he would struggle with my inability to be a wallflower.

Fortunately, he laughed off these remarks and reassured me that I was the woman he had prayed to God for while fly fishing on the Mckenzie River early one Spring morning. He wanted a woman that would bring vitality and laughter to his life so he too could lighten up and breathe a little deeper. On the flip side, I could be the perfect example of, “be careful what you pray for.” HA!

What I love about him the most are the little things. He’s thoughtful and kind and he remembers what is important to me. Soon after I was diagnosed with cancer we were in Eugene (2.5 hours from home) for some Dr. appointments. We wandered over to the University of Oregon as this is where we lived when we were dating. He began to drive the all too familiar roads of days gone by. After a bit of reminiscing our glory days, he pulled over. I looked up and said, “this is the exact spot where we had our 1st kiss.” He said, “I know, now get out of the car.”

My sweet, introverted, quiet husband reenacted that kiss with me at least 20 times so I could get the perfect selfie. He is not a selfie kind of guy but he loves me and patiently kissed me again and again until we got it right.

1st Kiss Reenactment / Number Your Days

Reenacting our 1st kiss – just after cancer diagnosis

I have no idea what our future will hold and I could never have predicted what we have been through so far. For today, I am grateful for all the years I have been called, Mrs. Wonderful Olson. I am going to forget about the intense conversation we had this week and cherish the fact that the good has far outweighed the bad. I will look at the two lives God helped us create and be thankful they are ours.  I will say a prayer for the two babies that never made it into this world and be hopeful about one day being introduced.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Wonderful! You have brought more joy to my life than I ever thought possible. Life is incredibly hard but sharing it with you makes the road a little less cumbersome. You are the greatest gift I have ever received.

Here’s To Forever…

On The Run…

On The Run 2017 / TiffanyAOlson.com

 

It’s a new season both literally and figuratively. Fall is upon us and the mornings are crisp and clear, the afternoons are sunny and filled with the sights of red, yellow and orange leaves as they are beginning to show us their glory. I love color and the slow switch from Summer to Fall couldn’t make me happier.

Along with the leaves changing my running routine has had a few adjustments this season as well. At the beginning of the year, I set my sights on racing my 1st Marathon in October. I  started the running process over again due to surgery in December. I set a big goal for myself so that I would be forced to get out the door and finally make this marathon dream a reality. So, I trained and in June I ran a half marathon to test the waters for my ability to continue to pack on the miles until I reached October.

Running this year has been harder for me not only physically but mentally. I finished the 1/2 marathon … barely and was discouraged at how much more difficult it was compared to last year. I trudged through the Summer months and came to the conclusion that my body just wasn’t ready for the push it was going to take to finish a marathon this year.

Several years ago I ran with a group of ladies that hit the pavement at 4:00 am Monday through Friday. When I began running again after treatment for my breast cancer they graciously offered for me to rejoin the group once again. Last year’s 1/2 marathon was something I needed to do on my own. I needed the time and space and the long country roads to process what I had been through and to relish in what my body was still able to do no matter what had happened.

Fall rolled around and it became overly apparent that I no longer needed so many hours on the road alone. I needed friendship, encouragement and accountability. For those of you who don’t know me, I love to run, but I am by no means quick. These girls are all faster than me and have been running consistently together for several years so it took some courage for me to ask if I could rejoin. The response was simple… we run at 4:00 am, if you are willing to show up, we will be there. I am willing.

What a difference it has made! I am always a proponent of doing things with others but sometimes I let insecurity or fear get in the way of stepping out or stepping into other people’s lives. I am running farther and faster than I was before and I have people who like to talk about running and who can celebrate the accomplishment of a 10 mile run on a Wednesday morning before 6:30 am.

There are four total runners in the group. 3 of us have our sights set on a full marathon at the end of April. I have already purchased the plane ticket… Our 4th runner in the group is actually the 1st. She has run The Boston Marathon 4 times and she said the other morning, “I really enjoy running. I sometimes find myself actually smiling while I am running down the road.” I am breathing too hard to smile but I know it will come in time.

With so many hard things going on around us in our daily lives or in our country as a whole, it’s good to seek out the small things that bring us joy. When our cup is full it is much easier to reach into the lives of others and lend a helping hand.

I am thankful for this new season, cool mornings, good friends and long runs.

Have A Fabulous Day My Friends!

You Are Such An Idiot!

Tiffany Bandon Dunes 2017 / TiffanyAOlson.com

Bandon Dunes 2017

 

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! How many times do I say things like this to myself during a typical week? Honestly, more times than I would like to count. How much angrier do I get with myself for making mistakes than I would with my kids or a friend? Why can I extend grace to others but have no a tolerance policy when it comes to me and my failings?

Raise your hand if you can relate. Now take those hands, wrap them around yourself and tell yourself that you are amazing and wonderful and capable. Why these words? Because these are the words you would say to a friend who needed a bit of encouragement in a tough spot. Our mistakes do not define who we are as people they are just things we walk through. Every single one of us fails, some just do it with more grace than others.

A few weeks back I was at the bank in the drive up teller line. It was a Friday afternoon and I was chit chatting with the sweet girl behind the window. I have done my banking at this bank for several years and knew this girl had within the last year or so had a baby. Well, when she walked away to make my deposit she came back to the window and I, in my very loud and enthusiastic way blurted out, “Congratulations!” She asked me, “For what?” And I said, “on being pregnant!” To which she responded, “I am not pregnant, it’s just the dress.” Yep! Epic fail! I know better than to say such things but I said it anyway and then I felt horrible and have pretty much beat myself up over it ever since.  I am still so embarrassed by it that I was earnestly trying to come up with another mistake to share with you so I didn’t have to admit my insensitivity.

I can’t take it back, the words are out there all I can do is remind myself that those insensitive words do not mean that I am a jerk (okay, I was a jerk in the moment) or a bad person. I made a bad judgment call and next time I need to think before I speak. (This seems to be the theme of my life.) So much easier said than done, huh? It’s a whole lot easier to stew in my awfulness and wonder why anyone would ever like me again after being so rude to someone. How did my friends handle it? (Of course, I immediately outed myself.) They were shocked but they laughed and have threatened in many public settings to yell out, “So, Tiffany! When is your baby due?” just to give me a hard time and to remind me that they love me and my moment of insensitivity doesn’t change anything.

I was reminded this morning about self-love. We need to treat ourselves as we would any other person we love. There is only one you and there is only one me. God has us here for a reason and no matter what we do or say he will always love us. So I’m thinkin if the creator of the universe isn’t sitting up there throwing his hands up in the air and shouting, “Why is she such an idiot!?” then maybe I shouldn’t either.

Have A Fabulous Day!

She’s Still There

Summer Running 2017 / TiffanyAIOlson.com

My Favorite Running Partner …

She’s Still There: Rescuing The Girl In You is the title of a book that has come out recently by author Chrystal Evans Hurst. I am anxiously awaiting its arrival in the mail which I am pretty sure is today. I am intrigued by the title because at 47 years old, a wife of almost 17 years, a mom of a teen and a tween as well as being a breast cancer survivor, I have wondered more than once over the last few years if, with all that has changed, is the wonder eyed girl still in there. What I am hoping for in the pages of this book is to be reminded of how much God loves me. I want to be able to hear Him say that no matter how out of whack life feels at times that He is going to use whatever is going on to fulfill the plans He laid out for me in the beginning.

Life changes you. I look at the state of our nation right now with all of the natural disasters, people’s lives are in upheaval. Not only did we have Harvey in Houston but Irma in Florida and for those of you who don’t know, a great portion of the Pacific Northwest is on fire. Some of the most beautiful places in this great country have been utterly devastated. (I knew beginning the summer with reading the book of Job was a bad idea!)  It will take years in some cases a hundred years to restore what has been lost. Unlike nature, we humans although a little worse for the ware at the moment, will bounce back quicker because we have each other and the opportunity to trust that God is in control and will see us through.

I have been reminded time and again over the last several years that God uses the really hard things in life to sluff off the junk in our lives so we become more like what He created us to be. Right now when so many are hurting and wondering what to do and where to go next, what’s happening? People are stepping in and helping those who can’t help themselves. My friend Melissa, four days ago, was in a Costco parking lot in Florida. She and her friend watched an older gentleman shuffling his way to the entrance. They asked him if he was coming for water and he jovially told them that he was. They informed him that there was no more water, turned back to their car grabbed out a case and an extra gallon of water from their own stash, loaded it into his car, and told him to be safe. This is just a small example of countless stories and rescues and of communities coming together to help those that have lost everything.

What does all of this have to do with Rescuing The Girl In You? Well, maybe the girl in you has needed a reason to jump in and help. We all have gifts and talents that can be utilized to aid those around us who could use a little assistance right now. Maybe your hardships and struggles are just the background someone needs in order to empathize with those that feel lost in their current circumstances. And maybe, just maybe while you are out there making other people’s lives a bit easier, the girl inside of you, the one that has been missing for so long will reappear because in the end, life is not about us and what we have lost, it’s about love and what we can all gain when we step out help each other.

Have A Fabulous Day My Friends!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Almost Here…

I read my 1st article of the season about gratefulness yesterday and it flipped the switch for me. I think I am ready to enter the Fall season. I am aware that many schools across the country have already begun but here in Oregon, we do not go back to school until after Labor Day. It’s kind of nice since August and September are our two best weather months of the year.

I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be ready for summer to end. Living on the Oregon Coast does not provide a ton of opportunities for warm weather so when the warmer season comes around, I cherish every single second. I am grateful we were given so many opportunities to enjoy warm weather this year. The beginning of Summer found us in Phoenix and San Diego visiting family. Shortly after this, we spent a week in Myrtle Point, at the Coos County Fair with our kids as they readied their sheep for auction through our local 4H program. On a side note, I have to mention that we have the best 4H program ever. The local businesses come out in droves and generously support these kids, many of whom are trying to earn money for college. Auction day is amazing and a great reward for all those who get to participate. Best of all? Myrtle Point is 45 minutes south and inland from us, so it’s warm.

After fair, we spent the next two weekends camping on two of the most beautiful rivers in Oregon. The Rogue and the Umpqua. Our son squealed in delight as Jerry’s Jet Boats came screaming by on the Rogue and went out of their way to spray him with water. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, Bridger or the passengers. While on the Umpqua we floated calm waters in inner tubes and kayaks as well as snuck in a few hours of fishing. The rivers?  Inland and warm. Are you sensing a theme here?

These adventures led up to last week which I posted about here. School registration begins this week, along with eye Dr. appointments, sports physicals and hair cuts. My dad is coming to visit for a few days next week and then we are off for one last camping adventure over labor day weekend. I am hoping for warm.

The article on gratefulness came at a perfect time. With Mr. Wonderful’s hand surgery last week we have had several hours of down time and moments to reflect on all that has occurred over the last few months. We have a lot to be grateful for. We have been able to spend a significant amount of time as a family which doesn’t happen as much during the school year due to kids activities and tax season. Don’t get me wrong, we have meals and attend events together but there is just something about leaving it all behind for a few days, floating down a river and sitting by the campfire. It’s togetherness in a whole different way.

I began dreaming of these moments on December 31st, 2014. We had gotten off track and lost our sense of family and fun. When I was forced to stop and given ample opportunity to reflect on our life and the direction it was heading, I made a vow that when I was healed, all would be different.

Look at us! Here we are, living. It’s not extravagant by any means, in fact, most memories of this summer involved a camp trailer, floaties for the river and marshmallows. Okay, the water park in Phoenix was pretty great as well. The point is that for the 1st time in many years we spent Summer, together. We laughed, played, worked and even shed a few tears as no season no matter how great is perfect. But overall it was wonderful and the glow of these memories will keep me warm during the next few seasons.

Phoenix 2017 / TiffanyAOlson.com

Water Park! Phoenix, AZ 2017

Have a Fabulous Day My Friends!

Total Eclipse and Other Happenings…

Are You Qualified? / Tiffanyaolson.com

The Oregon Coast

Hello from the Southern Coast of Oregon! For those of you who are not aware, in about 3 hours (9:15am) there will be a total eclipse of the sun. Oregon is in the direct line of this eclipse and I happen to live on the Oregon Coast. Most of the hullabaloo is going on in Central Oregon but we have quite a few visitors staying in the local campgrounds in our area.

It’s kind of a weird phenomenon to be in a position to witness something so cool and yet it’s hard to know what to do with yourself at the same time. Our son has cross country running practice beginning at 8:00 am. It’s supposed to last right into the eclipse time. So this is where I will be during the Solar Eclipse… on the track at Marshfield High School. This should prove to be very interesting.

B - Running / TiffanyAOlson.com

Bear Claw 5K 2017

Mr. Wonderful had surgery on his hand last Thursday to remove a non-cancerous tumor from his middle finger. He missed several days of work and wants to open up the office this morning so the amazing people we work with can be home with their families for the first few hours of the day and enjoy this phenomenon. Our daughter will go to the office with Mr. Wonderful so they can experience what will be happening, together.

In other news, our family dog went to be with Jesus last week. Yes, with Jesus. Emotionally thinking of her with Jesus is the only way we are all able to cope. Molly was 14 and in a lot of pain. I felt like I was euthanizing my 1st born child and yet we could no longer in good conscience allow her to continue to live in the state she was in. Molly was a gift to our family that we were able to hold onto for 14 years. It was a great run and she will be missed.

Between Mr. Wonderful’s surgery and saying goodbye to Molly it has been a little difficult to get overly excited about the eclipse. To be honest I’m not sure I fully understand what’s happening and well … no members of my family have those little protective glasses they said you needed in order to look at the sun… yes, I am awesome. Hopefully, the retinas of our eyes will not be destroyed and we will live to see another day.

Wherever you find yourself on this eclipse morning  I hope you are with people you love. If you are one of those thousands and thousands of people out in Pendleton, please be safe.

Have A Fabulous Day My Friends!

Beauty Out Of Ashes

Thankfulness / Tiffanyaolson.com

Last photos before surgery… Jan 2015

There is nothing more thrilling than taking one of the sunniest and most relaxing times of the year and saddling up to read a book on suffering. Yet, this is where I find myself. I am enjoying it so much that I have found multitudes of excuses not to sit down and read so I am several days behind the rest of the group. I use a daily app from Proverbs 31 Ministries called 1st 5. Right now we are reading the book of Job. For those of you who might not know, Job is a book in the Bible. Job pronounced J – O – B, is a man who lived a decent life, suffered greatly and then returned to a decent life.

At this point in the narrative Job has in a few days time lost all his children, (he had 10) and all his livestock (all his wealth). They perished in a series of raids from neighboring tribes and natural disasters which also consumed his land and dwellings. Shortly thereafter Job was physically struck with boils all over his body. The only thing that was spared was his life and his wife. She’s not the most helpful soul and I suppose she was spared to cause Job even more grief.

Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:3

He spends the whole of chapter 3 cursing the day he was born. Job wondered aloud why if God knew he was going to suffer this much, why had he allowed him to be born at all?

A little over a year ago I was gearing up for my 2nd mastectomy surgery. I had recently finished chemo and radiation. During chemo, our business had taken a huge hit as a result of circumstances out of our control. These circumstances had forced us to contact a lawyer as the situation rendered us in a position to not be able to make the monthly note payments (note to future self … don’t go into debt for any reason!) and keep the doors open at the same time.

The day before surgery my besties had gathered at our favorite sandwich shop to hang with me and offer their love and support for the upcoming weeks of recovery. Just as I was headed out the door to meet them, Mr. Wonderful called and said we were being counter sued. I had no time for lunch. I showed up at the restaurant and for the 5 minutes I had to spare, I sat there and cried. Breast removal, lawyers, chemo, radiation, medical bills… it was just too much. I told my friends I wish I knew what I was doing wrong so that I could fix it and the suffering would end. There were more than a few times during that season when I asked God if he would just take me home. I didn’t curse my birth but I was so ready to be done living.

The Art of Thankfulness / Tiffanyaolson.com

Besties…

God was fulfilling a promise in my life clearly stated in the book of John…

…. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

He promised there would be trouble/suffering/pain. No one is spared, not even his one and only son. What I tried to do and what Job did do is to trust God in the midst of the pain. There is grief and tears and a lot of times no horizon of relief to look towards but whether we can see it or not God is always in control. I wasn’t real thrilled at the prospect of reading this particular book of the Bible. Focusing on suffering makes me feel anxious about what our next round will look like. I still have a hard time approaching suffering with an attitude of joy. In my head, I know God creates beauty out of ashes but I have to keep reminding my heart.

Have A Fabulous Day My Friends!