She Knows No Boundaries

Maintaining boundaries around a family in crisis is tricky business.

Maintaining boundaries around a family in crisis is tricky business.

I’m hooking up with the Five-Minute Friday crowd–five minutes of unedited writing on the prompt cooked up by Lisa Jo Baker and friends. This week, the prompt is ‘She’.


She left me speechless.

She was supposed to be like a relative, a safe person, someone who had promised to help us through the cancer journey. But it didn’t turn out that way.

She wanted to help by controlling. At a time when our lives consisted of constant turmoil, she added to the stress by thoughtless comments to our girls—trying to be chummy, perhaps, by asking them (aged eight and nine) if they had boyfriends at school and who they had a crush on.

I gritted my teeth and gently tried to explain that our daughters knew the importance of waiting until they were in college to have serious relationships—it was our family value.

She insisted on ‘helping out’ by doing my laundry when I stayed at the hospital with Pedro—even if it meant I had to ride trains for hours at a time to drop off my laundry and pick it up. I started sneaking my dirty clothes to a local laundry and dropping it off when I knew she wouldn’t be around.

It got worse. Some times, when I called Pedro, and she was in the room, she would answer the phone and tell me that I couldn’t talk to him right now—she always had a reason, she thought. He had to finish eating. He needed rest. But none of those reason had validity. His girls needed him. I needed him. She was NOT his mother.

She started opening his mail “because he didn’t have the dexterity to open it himself.” I felt invaded. Some of that mail came from ME!

She had good intentions, but somewhere along the way, they took over her sense of right and wrong and common decency.

It felt creepy.

A friend overheard her chatting with a neighbor at the local grocery story about how she had given up so much for Pedro to help cure his cancer. How he had become like a child to her.

She knew no boundaries. I didn’t want to offend, but her ‘help’ had me pulling my hair out and burdened me more each day.

She left me speechless.


Click the icon to see how you can join the fun!Five Minute Friday

Caregiver Burnout: Words that Break Us

caregiver burnoutPedro was ‘circling the drain’—his life hung in the balance and no one knew for sure how to stop the infections that waged war on his chemo-weakened body. The doctors had started using drugs they thought might work, and spending long minutes sitting on his bed, staring at him (it’s never a good sign when doctor takes the time to sit on a patient’s bed or when the nurses drop everything and runs to the room when the call button gets pushed).

My cell phone buzzed, and I hurried from the room to take the call. A family friend had come to visit, so Pedro wouldn’t be alone when I stepped out for a few minutes. I wish I hadn’t. Unkind words poured from someone I trusted. Someone I thought was safe and on my side berated me with bitter words for what they perceived to be my horrible actions of the night before.

I had allowed the family friend to spend the night in Pedro’s room while I had found a hotel and luxuriated in a decent night’s sleep for the first time in months. The impersonal hotel room and soothing soak in a bath had worked like balm to my broken thoughts and frantic worry. I had arrived back at the hospital feeling as if I could handle the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next decision.

Each hurtful word pierced my heart. Mesmerized, all I could do was listen and pray for wisdom and the ability to not utter hateful words back. After what seemed like hours, I muttered an apology and promised that I would call my tormenter the next time I felt the need for a break or feared I suffered from caregiver burnout.

Broken and wilted once again, I entered Pedro’s room. Our family friend looked up and smiled. “I’m so glad I could come and that you got a good night’s sleep,” he said. “You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of Pedro.”

I nodded numbly.

“May I pray with you before I leave?” he asked.

I nodded again and bowed my head. As our dear friend lifted Pedro and I up in prayer, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit draw close and pick the broken shards from my wounded heart. I knew without a doubt that whatever happened, God would heal my brokenness. And that was enough. It’s always enough. (tweet this)

Have you ever felt broken beyond words? Romans 8:25-27

Fatherly Filter

fatherly filter



without You

is like coffee brewed

without a filter,

bitter, dark

and full of




words, fall

on me unfiltered;

like coffee,

burning hot, black

bitter and full

of nasty



their words.

Let me hear the

good intentions lost

in the brewing process

of words spoken

without a



I’m linking up with Holley Gerth and her Coffee for the Heart link up–where writers gather to offer a soothing cup of java for the soul.  Join us?}…


Screaming (Five Tips for NOT Screaming When You Really Feel Like it!)

While tempting, screaming seldom solves anything.

While tempting, screaming seldom solves anything.

“Get out of my way!” I screamed at the driver who cut me off. “Where could you possibly have to go that’s more important than me taking my son to the ER?”

“I don’t have time for this!” I screamed in my classroom at the mountain of papers the substitute had piled up for me to grade.

“You can’t have him, we’re busy!” I screamed at the people wanting to talk to my husband about stupid mundane problems at school. “Can’t you see my son is hurting?  Who cares about your trifling issues?”

“Don’t talk to me about your over-active son’s problems!” I screamed at the couple in the elevator. “My son used to be active, but now he might not even live!”

“Don’t joke about me ‘moving in’ when you see me carrying a suitcase into the hospital!” I screamed at the janitor. “This has become my life overnight, and it’s NOT a joke!”

“How can you all keep going on as though nothing is happening?”  I screamed at the world.

“How can you go snowboarding when my son is fighting so hard to live?  How can you go shopping when my son is being poked over and over?  How can you rent movies and crack jokes when my son is in so much pain?  How can you go to school when my son is going through torture?”

I screamed at everyone!

My son. My only son. Fighting for his life while the world keeps going. My precious, precious son.

Wait a minute.

His son. His only son. His precious, precious son.

Does God want to scream at us?  “How can you keep going?  How can you keep doing those mundane useless things?  Don’t you realize my son was tortured, poked and suffering?  My only son?!”

But that’s not the kind of God He is. He doesn’t scream at people, just like I didn’t really scream at anyone. But I wanted to.

I wonder if God ever wants to scream.

Five things to do when you feel like screaming (but can’t):

  1. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm.
  2. Vent to a journal.
  3. Pray—if all you can say is, “Dear God!” it’s ok. He understands the groaning of our heart (Romans 8:26-28).
  4. Praise God—it sounds counterintuitive, but praise trumps rage, every time.
  5. Phone a friend (a safe friend) and ask if you can vent out loud.