Friday, January 30, 2015

"It's today…"

“I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything's easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.” 
― Shauna NiequistBittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

I know… my outside and inside don't match.   I don't look sick.  I can strategically hide the thin places in my hair, with the other very thick parts covering my head.  My cheeks hold color,  I'm not too pale, too thin, or showing signs of weakness.

Other than some mind-numbing fatigue that has me pretty quiet, I am otherwise doing fine.

I still feel like I'm healthy- with a side of cancer.

And we simply don't know what that cancer is doing.  

In the meantime my email box has been flooded with news of others being newly diagnosed, while at the same time, others who have been living with cancer, have recently died.  

I feel like I am somewhere in between. 

So I find myself a little lost.  A little confused.  A little empty.  Just like Shauna Niequist so aptly articulates.  

In the meantime, while I await some clarity.  Some fullness.  Some direction.

I'm staying in my favorite day- today- grateful to just have this day.

Some of our favorite hockey friends linked to this sweet video the other day.  

You should go check out Teags and Ry on Facebook, to check out their new adorable line of hockey clothing, totes, throws, and bags, and like their page.  

Then you should watch this:  its short and sweet.

This weekend we'll be traveling up North with Nolan's team to see them play one of the top rated Bantam AA teams in the state right now- Grand Rapids, while Colton gets to stay here with Grandpa.

Here's to hoping you can find something in each day to make it your favorite as well~  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

50 years… and an update.

A panoramic view of the Moorhead Sports Center where the Moorhead Spuds defeated the Roseau Rams in front of a packed arena.

The first Moorhead Spud Hockey team from 1965.

The first high school hockey team to go to the Minnesota State Hockey tournament, with head Coach, Terry Cullen. 

The Horizon Middle School 6th grade orchestra played the national anthem on this momentous night.

The mini-spuds, aka our Rookies, waiting to go out and play in between periods of the high school game.  (Hi Brady) 

Another panoramic of the big social after the Spud Game.  It was so well attended and the committee that organized this big event did an outstanding job! 

It isn't often we can get the 4 of these guys in one place at the same time.  In fact, we're missing one- Chris VandeVelde is playing for the Philadelphia Flyers, NHL team, and wasn't able to come home for the event.  

But from left to right we have Matt Cullen (Nashville Predators,) Brian Lee, Ryan Kraft, and Jason Blake who all play/played in the NHL.  

Last Saturday was such a memorable and celebratory day for Moorhead Hockey.  From the youth level which starts with Rookies who begin their hockey careers at the ripe old age of 4- all the way up through the high school level, and up even further to the very top level- the NHL- Moorhead hockey was well-respresented all day.  

Colton's team played a game early afternoon that we got to attend.  Then Nolan's team played, right afterwards and the rink filled with fans coming to watch.  Nolan's team also won their game.  Nolan had one of those "dream come true, moments."  Former High School Hockey Coach, Dave Morinville, was at Nolan's game and saw him score a goal.  Dave came to us and mentioned what a sweet goal that had been.  I told him that group of Bantam AA boys, have always talked about their dreams of someday playing for Coach Morinville.  Even though Morinville has retired, those childhood dreams of playing for the Moorhead Spuds, live on in those boys.  

We then went to the Sports Center and watched the Moorhead Spuds defeat the Roseau Rams in front of a packed house of fans from across the generations of Moorhead fans and players.  

I felt like Rick's ability to shoot photos throughout the day, and physically carry and set up all his equipment, time and again, was an answer to prayers.  He seems to have turned a bit of a corner in managing the nerve pain from the shingles virus.  

While Rick shot pictures of the speakers at the social, I marveled at how I knew so many of the people in attendance.  It truly felt like a reunion.  A family reunion of sorts.  There isn't anything we wouldn't do for one another- in and outside of hockey. 

Like Cinderella at the ball, shortly after midnight I began to fade fast.  My energy drains quickly in large crowds, and I'd surrounded myself with them, all day.  Prince Charming was right there beside me, and we slipped away into the quiet of the night.

Mom moved Monday!  She is back in her room at Bethany Towers.  Between her hospital stay, and the care she received at Elmwood Square skilled nursing at Bethany, she hadn't been in her own room for almost 4 weeks.  She was so relieved to be back surrounded by her belongings.  I spent all of Monday morning packing, unpacking, arranging and sorting.  I got the phone transferred and left as both of us began to wane in the energy department. 

So the next challenge has arisen- figuring out how to pay for her ongoing care.  With only her house left, we're seeking out all of her options to ensure she gets the level of care she so deserves.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

shining bright

(Its a balmy 43 degrees this day 23 of January)

 "… As you live in close contact with Me, the Light of My presence filters though you to bless others.  Your weakness and woundedness are the openings through which the Light of the knowledge of My Glory shine forth …"

Jesus Calling, January 23rd


I'm immensely touched by the overwhelming response and sheer number of replies I received to my post on Wednesday.  I've slowly tried to respond to most of them, and I am so sorry if I missed anyone or overlooked anything.  

It often feels like the transparent and vulnerable thoughts and emotions that tumble out of me- come "through" me, rather than, "from" me.  

And It feels like so many of us are having such a large conversation. From one comment to the next, it feels like a "Community" has grown.  

So before I head into our very big weekend of hockey-

I just wanted to say-

Thank you~

from a deeply humbled and grateful heart.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


If I'm being honest, I'm posting this reminder, because I'm hovering in the midst of uncertainty.  I can't seem to gain any navigational strategies.

On Monday, I spent the day taking down our Christmas decorations.  I strongly desired the boys to come and sit with me.  I wanted to tell them the story of so many of the ornaments we collected over the years.  For them to delight in the telling, somehow, and for us to have this sweet family moment.

But truthfully?  Colton was checked out, curled up with his legos in his room.  Quiet.  Content.  Not wanting to engage.

And Nolan, was all motion, and energy.  He was fine with the parts where I needed his strength, his reach, his agility in handling the big tree, and the tall racks where we store the boxes.  But slowing and listening to me talk about the ornaments?  Not so much.  He'd just keep moving, in and out, working around the spot I sat on the floor.

So I just dedicated myself to packing up each little bit.  The plastic bulbs, that I don't like, but truly were all we could afford that first year we moved back to Minnesota from Idaho.  We lacked any kind of financial security, but oh were we happy.  I then reach for the blue fragile ones.  Extra wrap for these.  They're glass, and irreplaceable.   It seems we break a few each year, and these are some of my favorites.  Will anyone know?  

Should I be grabbing the video camera and documenting as I go?  I could journal about each one, take pictures, write the stories…  But does it really matter?

And somehow… none of this seems right.  Because I can't quite figure out if I've packed those ornaments for the last time, or not?  

With my last bit of energy waning,

 I finish the job, packing up Christmas, with as much love as I can.  I wrap carefully.  I savor and cherish each one, longingly.  The hockey stick ornament for Nolan.  The blue fish ornament that Colton picked out.  The one I made, out of beads, of a heart.  I wrap and pack.  And hope.

I pray, its the love that gets unwrapped and felt, by whomever opens those ornaments next year.  

It's the love that matters, in the end.  This is what will see me through.  

It seems there is a fine line I'm walking these days.  I happened to look out one afternoon, and could see it so clearly.  

The light, shining through the dark.  And the dark, swirling around, swallowing up the light, just as quickly.  

This is where, my word grabs me, as I stumble along the ever -shifting line… just believe.  


Superman continues to struggle, daily, with nerve pain, from shingles.  The doctor warned us, the pain can last for weeks, to months and even up to a year.  He told us to go back to him, only if symptoms prevailed past 3 weeks to a month- we're not quite there yet.  

  Rick manages to get out of bed, and down to his office to complete the most pressing projects.  But then needs to hunker down, rest his weary eyes, and try to relieve the taut, and corded muscles along his back.  The pain still registers in his eyes, the way his shoulders stoop when he walks, and the overall weariness of dealing with shingles.  Everything that you've heard about how miserable they can be- seems to be true.

All of this to say-

We're so thankful for all those who have helped us through these rough times.  The rides you've given our children.   The grace you've given when Rick can't return a call, text or email, right away.  We truly appreciate your understanding.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

If you can...

"If you can breathe and murmur your thanks, it’s still a mighty good day."  Ann Voskamp

The street by the side of my house goes straight past our house, and down in a straight line where if you squint your eyes, you can see a car down by the tree line, in the photo.

But what you can't see?  The sharp curve in the road to the left, down by those trees. Because if you continued to go straight?  You'd end up right in the mighty Red River.  

A second later, the brake lights would be streaming from that car.  You have to slow down, to take the curve.  But you do it, without thinking about it.  With a new flood wall that's been built, and the thick trees, you might never realize the river is merely feet past the embankment.  So you bend with the curve.  Because its simply the next thing to do.  

The reason I like this picture?  Has little to do with it being a great photo.  It was more about taking the photo.  I love the fact I could take my mittens off, and stand there, still feeling warmth in my hands to shoot the photo.  Again and again. It was close to 5 pm, and just light enough to shoot a glorious sun setting.  I stood there taking it all in, a long time.  It captured a mere moment, but one I lived well. 


It's mid-January, and the temps are mild, and the snow is thin, and as I breathe deep, I think this is all gift.  Plus the sun?  Has been peeking out through the clouds, more times than I can remember in decades of January's in Northern Minnesota. 

" …the way you live your ordinary days is what adds up to your one extraordinary life…"  Ann Voskamp

So I was gathering up Colton, and his gear, and my Target list, and jumping in the truck and leaving.  I smile, even though the engine light glowed at me, and the rumble of the truck grows louder as the rusted sides grow more pronounced.  It's showing its age and gentle decline.

Dr. Foster says my brain scan is a bit like that truck.  There is a "fissure," a bend along part of my brain, near the front, on the side, behind my eye.  If you follow the natural curve, an old rusty spot of cancer resides along the edge of it.  Its been treated before, and appears to be growing now. So it can't be treated with a targeted therapy again.

But you have to keep following the curve, and as you do, the next spot appears.  A new one.  A small one.  Not so very far, from the old one.  Close enough, that targeted therapy to this new spot is highly questionable too.  

We're staring at this juncture in the road, pondering what to do…  because even though the engine light is shining, and the rust is gathering, and the signs all lead to a truck veering down the embankment… 

the truck still goes forward.  It still steers.  It still drives.  It may not be held together with anything more than a wing and a prayer.  But it's going where the road is taking it- forward- into all it's tomorrows.  We already know-the terrain is uncertain, unknown.  So we'll slow for the curves, and watch for the sunsets, and live all our ordinary moments.

And if by chance you're standing on the side of the road, and you want to come - just throw your thumb up, in hitchhike fashion.  We're so happy to have you come along.

Monday, January 12, 2015

How can I ...

Even when you've played the game of your life, it's the feeling of teamwork that you'll remember. You'll forget the plays, the shots, and the scores, but you'll never forget your teammates.

The Moorhead Bantam AA Spud Classic Tournament Champions!  

Nolan and his team won all 4 of their games in their home tournament this weekend.  They scored a combined 27 goals, and gave up 0!   

The core group of players on this team have skated together in one way or another, since they were 3 and 4 years old.  They've always had a passion for the game, and tend to leave it all on the ice- including their blood, sweat and tears.

I also have to think, these boys will never forget the teamwork, but they will also never forget the plays, the goals, the saves and all the great memories they have formed together over the years.  

The arena was packed with friends watching, cheering, and supporting our boys.  Truly, all I could think as I watched was that it doesn't get any better than this.  

We even had a former team mate come to play against us on a team from Sioux Falls, SD.  It was so fun to see him and his family.  The Bertolini family was such a fun group of people and we loved their time here with us! 

The boys were also truly surprised and excited to hear that one of their childhood favorite hockey players, Jordy Christian came to see them play.  For years, our kids begged us to go see Jordy play and we traveled many places just to see him play in high school and then college.  Now, to have him come, and see them, see what he inspired them to do, feels like a full circle moment to me.  

We're so proud of our boys!  


I have to say I've received such interesting Christmas gifts this year, and have to share a couple more.  My nieces, Alex and Madi, introduced me to Alex and Ani.  Specifically, they love their stackable bracelets.  I think they are affordable, beautifully made, have a wide variety of metals and designs, and are so fun to wear!  

These were the two I received as presents.  The butterfly came from the girls, and had this meaning printed on a card in the box that came with each bracelet.  From Alex and Ani:

A regenerative species, butterflies consistently transition from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly. Giving us faith in change, the butterfly is associated with unwavering grace, soulful insight, and eloquence on our journey. Channel the energy of the butterfly and emerge brilliantly from your own transformation.
Short description Image 
Alex and Ani will donate 20% of the purchase price* from each Butterfly Charm Bangle sold, with a minimum donation of $25,000, between January 2015 and December 2015, to the Hanley and Caron Treatment Centersthat offer a variety of continuing care, support services and prevention programs for patients, families and the community. 

*Purchase price includes sales to Alex and Ani retail and web customers, and authorized retailers.

They also gifted me with this anchor:  

Holding fast and steady despite the elements, the anchor is a symbol of stability, hope, and peace. The anchor allows us to keep a clear mind amidst the tides of life. An emblem of good luck, wear the Anchor Charm for courage, safety, and peace of mind.

You can stack and combine the bracelets in any which way your heart desires! They have initials, birthstones, all kinds of activities, teams, and colors, its hard to choose just one!  

If you're ever looking for a gift for someone who loves Jewelry, I wouldn't hesitate to try Alex and Ani!


How can I pray for you? 

Tomorrow is the MRI of my brain.  I've pushed it out of my mind for so long now.  Its time to face it.  So I'm gripping tight to my word, "believe," and taking a huge helping of hope, and will lie still, strapped to the bed that allows the images to be taken of my head.  

Wednesday I will see Dr. Foster and we will figure out the best way to move forward from wherever I may be. 

I'm making my list of people to pray over.  Either in the comments below, or through email or Facebook, feel free to leave me prayer requests, so I may pray for you, as I go through sedation and then the MRI scan.

Jesus Calling: January 12th

"Let me prepare you for the day that stretches out before you.  I know exactly what this day will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it.  You would like to see a map, showing all the twists and turns of the journey.  You'd feel more prepared if you could visualize what is on the road ahead.  However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today: Spend quality time with Me…  My abiding Presence is the best road map available."


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A "Whopper" of a gift...

It would be easy to simply say she is my neighbor- because she is.  But it's not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Anne.  Friend, is what comes to mind- a true friend who has been there for me and my family,  in more ways than I could possibly articulate.

About a week before Christmas, Rick received a phone call from the store manager, Mindy, at the Moorhead Burger King.  He would only share with me the conversation revolved around a "surprise," and going to Burger King for dinner one night.

But then my mom was hospitalized, and the time we arranged didn't work.

So after making sure mom was in good hands, we decided to have breakfast at Burger King,  with Mindy and Anne, who have worked together for 30+ years!  

We walked inside and were greeted with a showering of snowman literally covering every surface of the walls!  They were so cute.  

Then we saw this:

We all ordered our complimentary breakfast, thinking the gift of a free and yummy meal, was pretty spectacular in itself.  

Next, I think our pretty shocked and speechless family was led over to a table covered in presents!  

The story slowly unravels.  It seems everyone had a little part in it.  The idea stemmed from the new owners of Burger King, and so our local stores, decided to do"Project Snowman" for the first time.  They had a process for people to nominate families. So Anne submitted our name, but had no part in picking the family.  To her delight and surprise, they picked us!  

So Mindy with the help of Anne got busy planning.  They had a huge part in asking the boys and Rick some of the things we might need or like as a family.  And boy, did Mindy and Anne deliver!  

How about athletic wear, from our favorite sports teams?  Hoodies, for the boys and Rick, and a zip up coat for me!  There was a knee hockey net and sticks for the boys.  And a whole set of Viva La Juicy for me. That alone planted huge smiles on our faces! 

In addition were gift cards to the grocery store, to my favorite nail salon in the summer for my toes (Anne and I go together in the summer), for fishing gear for Rick, etc.  

They thought of everything!  Everything was both useful to us, and a real treat to have.  

I can only imagine the amount of time Mindy and Anne invested in making all of this go so smoothly, and be such a huge success!  

And the part where not a dry eye existed?  Cause you know there has to be tears when things of this magnitude happen…

When I opened the beautiful angel.  And guess who requested an angel- for his mom?

The sweet boy, Colton.  As, I looked up through my misty eyes, to see his big eyes swimming in tears.  Through a choked voice he says, "because we always get an angel for mom at Christmas."  

He remembers.  That boy.  My heart.  

Each of the boys also received an angel ornament with "mom" written on it too.

Burger King- you stole our hearts!  Project snowman was a huge success!  Mindy and Anne, and all who donated, have such compassionate and generous hearts.  We're so touched and honored to have been nominated and chosen to be the recipients of such a gift!!  

As our family sat watching a movie late Christmas Eve, I asked Colton his thoughts on Christmas so far.

"Well, I do miss Grandma not coming here."

Then the rest of what he said I sent out in a text, to Anne.

"So far?"  Colton Said.

"Best Christmas Ever."  


“The word I think of is precarious. I am struck by how precarious it all is. How the things that hold us are only as strong as the faith we have in them.” 
― David LevithanThe Realm of Possibility

We cling to these very blessings, those uplifting and gratitude- filled moments- throughout the holiday season.  They tend to buoy us as life continues its rocky, "precarious," course for our family.

Mom spent another night in the ER needing to have more fluid drained again.  This time, her niece, my cousin Pam took her.  

Because at our house?  Our superman, has come down with Shingles.  

Yes- he is truly miserable.  But he has been to the clinic 3 times, and the ER once, thanks to our friends when they were all in Roseau for hockey.  Rick has all the meds on board now.  He is resting, sleeping long hours, and letting many of us take over for him.  

So I'm clinging to my word- whispering it over and over again- "I believe, I believe."

~All shall be well~ I believe.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

The first gift...

I found this old Christmas photo while cleaning before all of our company came over the holidays.  In my mother's handwriting it says I am 3 and 1/2 years old, and Lee, my baby brother, is 11 months.  It was taken by our neighbor, Homer Thune, a professional photographer.  It's my father-in-law who stays at this house now.  Isn't it funny how life comes full circle sometimes?  In ways we could never anticipate, or predict.

Today, my brother is turning 45.

Happy Birthday, Lee! 

He was here for 6 days over the Christmas vacation and we were thrilled to have him and his family with us.  His oldest daughter, Madison, was 10 months old the last time they visited us in Minnesota for Christmas.  (Nolan was 7 months old at the time- they sat around the tree, pulling the bows off their presents and feeding them to each other.)  

We laughed about how Minnesota "nice," the weather was for them.  Hardly a smidge of snow anywhere and temps downright "balmy" hovering in the 20's and 30's for a few days.  

It was unfortunate mom was in the hospital the entire time the Held family was here, but somehow we managed to spend a lot of time with mom, while still making Christmas memories.

My nieces, Madi, and Alex (Alex is one and 1/2 month older than Colton) in the middle next to Colton, below, were troopers about coming to watch Nolan play hockey.  He had 4 games over Christmas weekend, while Colton left with Grandpa Jim to play out of town for a couple of days.  

Madi and Alex were even up for a couple of late night dinners with all of us after the hockey games.  I love the sheer joy in their faces, and the light in their eyes.  They have genuine relationships with each other and I love seeing them deepen and widen.  

The kids were such troopers about spending time together in waiting rooms, next to Grandma in her hospital bed, the hospital hallways, and the hospital cafeteria, our cramped little house.  No movies, like we had hoped.  Or time to swim at the hotel.  No Sky Zone, like the boys had hoped, or trips to Detroit Mountain.  This clearly wasn't vacation in any real sense.

Instead our moments were centered around just being together. And those moments were full!  

The kids played cards like Go Fish, and Uno, laughing hysterically the whole time.
Or they quietly played "Trivia Crack," on their phones, while the chaos of hospital life swirled round.
Lee remembered my love of coffee and brought bags of Starbucks to me.
The Helds also remembered our favorite chocolates and brought us plenty of treats right from Hershey.
I loved shopping for books for the girls- many the same Young Adult titles I've borrowed and read. 

Our interests and desires, overlap, despite the distance.  The time apart, does little, to pull us apart.  We simply pick up, right where we left off.

Our time together was the best gift I could have asked for.  It felt so abundant, and filled with grace.  

The smile on my mother's face was undeniable.  Her spirits were uplifted, her mood cheerful.  Despite her circumstances, she persevered.  

Our tradition has always been to have Rick capture one photo of the kids before they leave.  Then he blows it up big and makes a portrait for my mother's wall.

It was our last day together and although it was cold, the sun shone brightly in the bluest of skies. I think the number of tears I shed that last day,  rivaled the number of laughs we'd shared those 6 days.  But its a bubble of time and space we shared, that I wouldn't trade for anything.   

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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