It’s Thursday, traditionally my day off.  I still pretend it is, even though I haven’t been able effectively turn off my brain for months. Nights are equally stressful, sometimes I just stare at the ceiling wondering how.

How do I make up the lack of funds at the church, how do I fix that piece of the puzzle, especially when things have begun to turn.  There is an air of vitality that comes from the new people, they are into a church that reaches, we are more and more becoming that.  I get frustrated because I feel like we are in the middle of a 5 year plan, which is what we had only to find out that we didn’t really have 5 years, it was more like three.  Offerings are up but not enough, looking at the expenses to cut, it is obvious to take a look at the largest there is and begin cutting there.  As the only full time employee the expense that is under the most scrutiny and that is ripe for the trimming is my compensation.  It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, it’s not easy, it’s just a fact, a fact that keeps me awake at night because right now is not a good time to have that happen with everything that is coming.  Surgery and recovery and then more surgery and more recovery, and, and, and.

How do I take care of Joyce when the surgery happens, how do I step away for the weeks that I will need to step away for, making sure she has all she needs?  How do I take care of the girls and make sure they have all that they need?  How do I explain to the youngest ones what is wrong why things have to be different for a while?

I know all the things that need to be done around the house, I feel like I should be working on those things every spare moment, but I get there and exhaustion jumps out at me, robbing me of the determination to push through and do the things I need to, but somehow I push myself to do it.

So many Sundays when the day is over, all I want to do is go home and do nothing, yet I feel bad when I do because if I had more in the tank I feel like I could do more for and with the girls

So I grind on, like so many others do.  Recognizing that I’m being selfish in this post, that others have it worse than I do, that as much as I want to understand and take all the mess away from her.  Joyce is so much stronger and better and amazing than I or anyone I know.  I watch her deal with the cancer and wonder at how she keeps going, how she gets up the day after chemo and teaches.  How she spends time on everyone else, worrying about them, trying to help them, trying to build them up.  How she supports me.  I feel like I’m not giving her what she needs.

I am jus so tired, and frustrated and scared, and confused.




Crashing Waves

Friday morning, before taking the girls to school and heading into the church I closed my bedroom door and cried.

It had been a somewhat trying morning getting everyone out the door, but nothing so out of the ordinary that it warranted the tears.  The thing is it keeps happening, at any given moment one small thing can push me to the brink and a nudge can send me out of the room to compose myself.  The only real way to combat it many times is to go flat, not allowing much in the way of emotion to cross my face, but that concerns people.

I know it’s obvious that I am not okay.  I appreciate people when they ask how I am, and there was a time when I would have just said, “yep fine,” plastered a smile my face and held it all in check.  The problem is I’ve lost that ability it seems, even when I think I’m holding it all together I’m not, people notice and either ask me or follow up to see how I am and while I appreciate it, I hate that it happens because it’s just not what I want people to see or remember when they interact with me.

In all the stories of life that I envisioned, the one we are now living is not the one that I expected.  I keep looking at what was, and what is and what I think should be and the disconnect is huge. There is so much that has to be done, so many responsibilities, so much that weighs on me.  Even typing this I feel guilty for putting me in all these sentences, there are others who have problems, others who’s needs are huge, me being upset and overwhelmed and frightened just doesn’t really fit.  Others need strength, leadership, tenacity, and understanding from me.

Our church is in this time that things are getting better but they are not better enough.  Growth is happening, offering is up, austerity is happening all around, God is giving the increase but my faith is getting weaker and weaker in the timing side of it. We are where we belong. I am doing the work I was designed to do but the fight is long, and the issues are hard and…

Our family is fighting what everyone knows we are fighting.  The fear and anxiety of possibly losing this fight with cancer never leaves my mind, especially when I hear of others who didn’t win.  The girls are getting older and with that age comes a host of worries on my part, BRCA genes and family history and the list just goes on.

We own this house in Ohio that is not being taken care of properly, the house payment is paid consistently, it’s frustrating to pay for two families to live, especially when one of them seems content to just let everyone take care of them.

I get what the Psalmist is saying here.  I ask the question every day, the problem is I don’t get many answers.


I fall into bed exhausted only to lay there many nights wondering, praying, trying to hold it together, trying to be what everyone expects of me, trying to be what I expect of me.

I know the Jesus answers to the issues, I understand the promises I have from scripture, the care I have from friends and family.  It’s all there but it just doesn’t help, it’s just not enough and telling people that is rude and harsh and just wrong, but here I am telling you because if I don’t it just keeps getting bottled up.

I have spent weeks on the phone dealing with insurance companies for J’s cancer, as well as for the car that was stolen.  I’ve fixated on getting the car replaced, and I know it is driving J a bit nuts, but I also know that getting the car replaced, has a beginning a middle and an end, all of which are manageable, all of which have a mostly positive assured outcome.  A vehicle that will replace the one stolen and allow us to move forward and away from one of the horrors of this past summer, so I press forward with it, making sure to include her even though she isn’t into it, because it will be a task that can be completed.

There are so many other tasks that I can’t complete, that have no foreseeable end but that I must be diligent about, and so I close the door, to our room, to my office, to the car, to the bathroom, and I cry…

Thanks for reading.



So much to say.

Summer is supposed to be a time to re-set.  Theoretically summer brings with it an opportunity to step back a bit and breathe.  Kids are out of school, the air is warm, or in some cases just plain hot, everything takes on a different quality to it, at least that’s what people say, what some people experience. 

Summers for the Newell’s are usually not that way.  There is usually something big going on, or something frustrating or just plain annoying.  That’s the case this year.  As anyone reading my blog knows J was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive breast cancer.  To say the months of June and July were hard is an understatement. It’s hard to get your feet back under you when you are hit very clearly with the fragility of life.  As we move down the path that is Chemo and the side effects begin it gets harder and harder to pull out of the downward spiral.  The nausea that everyone prepared us for didn’t happen, the main struggle at the outset was the fatigue,  a few days later we had a night where we were up at 2 or 3 AM with bad back pain, but J chalked that up to something she ate, apparently she had to hit my leg pretty hard to get me to wake up, then there was no sleeping, the other seeming side effect is this persistent cough, and of course the one we were waiting for, the one we knew was coming, the hair falling out, started the day before an interview at a county school.  That one was hard because Josie realized it was happening and well she was a mess, she seems to be on the verge of tears on a regular basis.  Zoey remains clueless, not because we don’t want to tell her but every time we begin to broach the subject, or introduce the beginnings of the conversations she has no interest in continuing.  She went to help Joyce pick out her hair prosthesis (wig) we were seeing the surgeon that day as well and there was still no question no interest even sitting in the waiting room at the breast center. 

Each step of this horrific thing brings the reality of what’s happening into clearer focus.  Having said that the response to Chemo is good, excellent in fact according to the surgeon.  She is very pleased and somewhat surprised at how well the tumor is responding after one treatment.  So why am I not comforted by all of this, why am I not seeing the other side, why am I still so worried, why does it still consume most of my thought process?  I understand and know all the things I’m supposed to, even the things I have told others when I have tried encouraging them, I try and apply them to the situation but it just seems hollow. 

In addition to the whole cancer thing we have the burglary/car theft/ arson thing going on.  We have found out that our insurance claim can’t be processed until the arson unit releases the car, a process that we are told can take weeks or even months. 

Personal stress is coupled with professional stress as well.  J had a great interview and has been hired by a Tech Magnet school in Baltimore County.  There is some maneuvering within Baltimore City Schools but hopefully nothing that will be too much of  a problem.

The months of prayer and relationship building and outreach and work are finally bringing fruit.  We have had three good attendance Sundays in a row, with offering from each of these days being up.  New people keep coming and returning, things are finally working but there is so much more that must be done.  One of the biggest needs that we have is to raise a substantial amount of money in the next few months to keep moving forward.  This task naturally falls on my shoulders as the only full time employee of the church.  We started a process but then all hell broke loose and much of the time that I was planning to devote to this portion of my job was sucked up in dealing with the whole cancer thing. 

The bottom line is I’m just tired.  So very tired of trying to juggle all the balls that keep getting thrown my way.  Not complaining really just putting it out there.  I have always looked at this blog as a place to be me and well right now me is a tired me. 

Wednesday is treatment day.  Those are the long day’s the hard ones that are full of waiting and watching and trying to figure it all out.  Words fail at times, I struggle to make sure I notice things more, to pay attention to J and the girls.  Last night it was all about how to help Zoey get her hair brushed out properly, the whole time my mind kept screaming that it didn’t want to know how to do this, not because I don’t want to brush Zoeys hair, but because if I am learning how to do that stuff, it means she may not be able to or around to do it.  Funny how the mind can just go to that place, even when people are saying that things are looking good and they are pleased.  It’s like sure that’s how it works for other people, but look at our Summer and well yeah.  It’s not the same.

So to update J’s condition, just like I did 6 years ago.

1.  Side effects are not as invasive or debilitating as they could be.

2.  Tired

3.  Hair is leaving. 

4.  Cough won’t go away.

5.  Chemo Wednesday


Thanks for reading and praying. 

It’s real.

June was a pretty bad month.  It was in June that we found out about Joyce’s cancer.  The thing is I have these nightmares, always have that something bad is going to happen to J and the girls,  usually when they are driving.

I have been wondering for a while when Cancer was going to hit,  I just always assumed that I would be the one to get that diagnosis.  It’s not fair,  for J to have to have this happen to her, and yet here I sit in the waiting area, the Doctor did come out and let me know that the surgery for the port went well, no complications, which is one of those really bitter sweet things.  I’m glad there were no problems putting the port in.  My imagination was going full blast which is not hard any more coming up with all the bad things that were going to happen.  The thing is they just put in a way to easily access J’s veins to pump her full  of poison that if it does it’s job will shrink the cancer so that they can then set up another  appointment for more surgery.

The thing is before today it was something we were fighting but there was this un-realness to it for lack of a better word.  Today though, it all came crashing in again.  This is real, there is not a miracle, the pet scan did not show the cancer suddenly gone.  God didn’t just heal her so we don’t have to do this.  It’s still there, the steps have to be walked.  The treatments start Wednesday, there isn’t going to be a last minute reprieve, there will be no oh wow check that out the tumor is gone.  There will be months of chemo, and surgery and radiation and and and.

The problem that I have right now is how to be what I need to be for everyone in life right now.  How do I take care of Joyce, take care of the girls, take care of the church.  How do I make sure that everyone understands that life is supposed to be all about Joyce right now.  That she is what matters that her well being, and psyche is really all that matters to me.

There are so many things that rush around in my head and heart, that we have to deal with,  that she has to deal with and I know for a fact that I’m not equal  to the task.  that’s the bad part, knowing you’re not equal to the task, knowing that there are going to be entire days when drowning not only will seem possible, but preferable.

This is all real, and today’s surgery just brings the gravity of the situation home in a way that I was able to dodge until today.

Six years ago I blogged my way through almost losing J.  Six years later I’m going to blog my way through cancer.  I’m not sure what that will look like, except I’m fairly sure it will  happen more in the spaces where we wait, in the angst of not knowing, the hardships that will be chemo, the frustration that J will go through in not being able to do what she is used to.

As we move through this time know that we will need…I will need…I just don’t know at this point what those needs will be.

More to come…