Pause for a cause…Anne Carlsen Center

There are times in our lives when we see something, or are faced with something, and we are forced to take a step back and realize what we have been given…and the last few weeks have been that type of journey for me.

As many of you know, George (as you have all come to know him), my 5-year-old son, has a metabolic disorder that can have some pretty scary consequences if not taken seriously. I wouldn’t say that his diagnosis was stumbled upon accidentally, but it was definitely just the right mix of science and miracle. Our family has been blessed beyond belief. It has open my eyes to so many things, and I’m working through them, sharing my thoughts with all of you, as I work through them myself. (And for that, I thank you for your patience!)

But as we near the holiday season, my mind turns to those that haven’t had such an easy road. For those whose answers haven’t come so quickly, and without the successes that George has had…and for those that have had to make some hard decisions.

It is in those times that I am grateful that a place such as the Anne Carlsen Center exists. And I use the word “place,” like it’s a facility…and that doesn’t even come close to describing what it means to those that use its services throughout the state of North Dakota.

The center provides services, therapy, support, technology and training – but its so much more than that…it provides care, and love, and understanding, and compassion, and a shoulder when you are certain there is no where else to turn.

Usually, at this time of the year I start my Christmas Angel program – where I ask for you to send me names of people in your area that you feel could use a little pick-me-up. And then I set my angels to work, sending out little bits of sunshine to brighten someone else’s day. This year, I’m going to go about this a little differently. I’m going to ask that for each one of you touched by George and his story of success take the time to either make or donation or send a card of encouragement to the Anne Carlsen Center:

Anne Carlsen Center
701 3rd St. NW, PO Box 8000
Jamestown, ND 58402

It’s the season of thanks – but truthfully, every day is my season of thanks. Every morning I wake up and a pair of bright, beautiful, inquisitive eyes reminds me just how lucky I am. And I have three more pairs to back it up. I’ve been given so much, it’s not hard to┬ápay it forward.

Yep. This pretty well sums him up.

Our journey is far from over…thank you for coming along for the ride.

Faith in humanity restored…almost

Part of the craziness that I was alluding to in previous posts is the fact that my Dad recently had surgery. They basically cleaned out the arteries in his lower extremities, put seven or so stents up to his kidneys and called it a day. Oh yeah, and they wrapped the artery with the lining of a cow heart to help it heal and “patch” it. Cool, huh? Talk about value-added agriculture!

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. I want to tell you a little story about my trip into a store.

My Dad - I took this picture ice fishing last year. It's one of my favorites!

My Dad – I took this picture ice fishing last year. It’s one of my favorites!

On Friday, my Dad’s legs were hurting worse than usual. The docs had some concern about a blood clot, so I ended up driving him to the emergency room. Mind you, we were in the starting phases of a winter storm, so traveling wasn’t exactly pleasant.

After a few hours with the friendly docs, they determined that it was just a giant pool of fluid/blood (a hematoma), that was causing the discomfort, not a blood clot. Whew! So off we went, headed home.

My Mom had asked if I would pick up a few things in the larger town we were in, so I ran over to a near-by store and had quite the experience:

As I was waiting in line to check out the few items I had purchased, a lady came up to the customer service counter. Somehow a few extra bags of groceries were placed with her things, and she was returning the items that weren’t hers.

The cashier was extremely grateful, knowing that someone would be delighted to have their purchases back, and thanked her kindly for her thoughtfulness. Instead of walking away, with a happy heart, knowing she had made someone’s day a little brighter, the Good Samaritan asked to see a manager, requesting that she be rewarded for her honesty.

WHAT?!?

Is that the world we now live in? We’ll only do good things, if someone pays us for it? Was I being punked? Could this be happening?

I didn’t stick around to see how the situation ended up. I’m not sure if the lady was “rewarded” in a way that she felt was suitable or not. All I know is that I left the store with a heavy heart, wondering what happened to our society.

I have quickly come to the conclusion that although there is nothing I can do to change that situation, I certainly can do my part to restore a little faith in humanity.

What are my plans? Ah, you see, a true Good Samaritan never talks about their good deeds, and never expects a reward in exchange.

They just do what comes naturally.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Common thread

A young boy, without a care in the world…a young woman, who followed her dreams…a man in retirement, making plans to enjoy himself. What could they possibly have in common?

Well, unfortunately, what they have in common is all too common…cancer.

This past week has been an overly tough one for me. But I’ve decided to turn the new month into a new goal…a battle against cancer, if you may.

I’m tired of this disease that takes, takes, takes. I’m tired of losing friends, family and loved ones in a battle that can be so one-sided. I’m just so tired of it all.

No, I understand that it won’t be changed today, or tomorrow, but someday…yes, someday…I’m confident that we will be able to provide better options for those that are faced with these battles. Science is there, we just need to support it.

And so, with that I’m declaring March Madness as my war on cancer month. A friend of mine has started a Relay for Life page, rounding up some social media friends and others to raise funds for cancer research. It’s a great cause and one that I fully support. And I’m choosing to support her efforts in an unusual way.

Kelly doesn’t know this yet, but I have heard somewhere that there is someone willing to match her goal of $315 raised, if she makes it to her goal by the end of the month. You can check out her progress (and give!) here.

As I’m writing this, my brother is sitting beside his friend, Jackie, in the hospital…waiting for her pain and suffering to end. A little more than a month ago, my uncle was planning his annual fishing trip to North Dakota, but we traveled to Wisconsin for a funeral instead.

Cancer is a common thread for so many, but as you learn quickly when cancer touches your family, you’re never in the battle alone.

If you would like to share a word of encouragement with Samuel and his family, you can find his CaringBridge site here…and you can follow along with Leontien’s battle here, or click on the link in the upper right-hand corner.

Angel Project Update

So, is there any good coming of this Christmas Angel Project? Well, I happen to think so. So far, I have matched up 15 different requests/angels…and hoping to keep it up for another 10 days.

Remember, you have until Dec. 15 to make a request on behalf of someone, or to volunteer to be a Christmas Angel yourself.

It’s the season for giving, right?

Yes, Virginia…

I knew it would happen one day, but this one was a doozy…and I’m thinking someone may end up paying for it with her job.

Apparently a news anchor expressed her opinion during prime time that the easiest way to handle Christmas in these tough economic times was to tell children that there is no Santa Claus. Wow. I’m guessing the big guy’s gonna have some coal for someone’s stocking this year.

Now, as a mother of four children, oldest age 9, I’m constantly bombarded by the question, “Mom, is Santa real?” And my answer is always the same, “What do you want to believe?”

To me, the answer is simple. In a day when we are hit with so much bad news, so much doom and gloom, so many heart aches and issues, why do we need to pop the bubble of happiness that surrounds the Christmas season? Yes, my children know that celebrating Christmas is ALL about the birth of Jesus and what He has sacrificed for us. Christmas is a religious holiday in our house. Always has been, always will be. But does believing that someone delivers a gift for you, without expecting anything in return, all that different?

My children have never been told that a man in a red suit and reindeer is at our house. We don’t have a fireplace, and cookies aren’t always left. Sometimes we’re home, and sometimes we’re not. They know that the Santa’s in the mall are not the “real” Santa. And whatever else they have made up in their mind, is just that, their own beliefs.

Telling the world during the newscast that the solution to your financial woes at Christmas is to break your children’s hearts and tell them that the mystery surrounding Christmas is fake…well, that’s just plain mean. And I can tell you for a fact that it’s not true. There is a Santa Claus. He might not live at the north pole, he might not like cookies and he may be allergic to reindeer fur, but he’s real and he’s important and he lives inside each and every one of us.

And if you don’t believe it, then why would a woman from North Dakota set up a project to send gifts to and from people all around the country? (Speaking of which, click on the blue angel in the top right corner…I’m looking for more angels!) Why would a company set up red kettles throughout the country, knowing that others will give when they can? And why would children willingly give up their gifts, to another child that they know would appreciate it more?

God and santa CAN coexist…I’m pretty sure both big guys are OK with that. I know I am.