Sometimes Dreams Change – My Messy Beautiful



Recently I had my last day at my “real” job. The job was the last string connecting me to my old life – my life before my son was diagnosed with leukemia.

When I interviewed for the job three years ago, it was my dream job. I had been running a small daycare in our home, and while I loved the children, I needed a change. So I was taking online classes to do medical transcription when a job became available at the hospital.

I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t even completed my degree yet, but it was THE job I wanted to get some day, and I couldn’t not apply.

A few days after my interview, the manager called and said that they had hired someone else for the transcription job – someone with over a decade of experience. I was disappointed and almost missed what she said next: “But I’d like to create a position for you, if you would be interested.” Of course I was interested!

There was no containing the joy that day! Later, I sat in new-employee training like I had just won the lottery, because I had.

I had set a goal, worked toward it, and achieved it. What a fabulous feeling!

Over the next several months, I worked hard at the job trying to learn everything that I could. Eventually I started getting more hours and more responsibility. It felt good.

I was in the working world. I was succeeding. My kids were happy at daycare. My husband was busy at work.

Then Cooper, my 2-year-old, got cancer.

My boss said they would cover for me. “Don’t worry about a thing, just get that baby healthy!”

And they did cover for me. I worked when I could, but it was hard. My boss offered to let me switch to “as needed” hours again so that it wouldn’t be so much pressure. I cried silently on the other side of the phone and told her, “I don’t want cancer to take this from me too. No, I’m fine. I’ll figure out a way to make it work.”

So I limped along. And cancer treatment raged on.

But God is kind and somewhere along the line he started working a change in my heart.

God knew that the job was too much and that things were changing. And He knew how hard it was every time I went to work – walking by the emergency room where I sat so many times clutching my extremely ill child. Turning the corner, only to walk past the room where Cooper sometimes received chemo.

He knew that it made me sad when I had to stare at the charts of other scared parents as they brought in their most precious contribution to this world – their children – to be cared for by the doctors.

So God started helping me let go. One finger at a time, he gently opened the hand that was clenched so tightly around this job from my “old life.”

Finally, last week, I opened my hand and let the job float into the sky like a red balloon.

My last day was surreal. As I cleaned off my desk, the memories flooded back. My first day, I was so nervous I could barely write my name. Now I was surrounded by dear friends who had been a constant in this storm of cancer. No matter what was happening in my life, these fellow warriors were at their desks being sweet and loving and the same.

So I let go of that red balloon, but I reminded myself that I didn’t have to let go of these beautiful women who had taken up residence in my heart.

When I got home that night, there was a present from my sister. She lives in Virginia, and she sends her love to me in little packages of thoughtful gifts that make me smile.

Allowing myself to feel fancy for a moment, I tugged on the silky ribbon and lifted the lid on the silver Nordstrom’s box. Like a pearl from an oyster, I plucked the gift from inside.

Sisters always just know, don’t they? She had sent me a tiny square notepad with a blue border, and at the top were the words, “Don’t quit your daydream.” Because of course she knew that I had set my course on writing. It’s my next dream job.

It’s hard to let go of that red balloon and go grasping around for another one as it floats up. But–say it with me–we can do hard things. Grab a string…it’s a messy, beautiful ride!

“Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. So when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.” ―Hope Floats

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*This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more  and add your blog, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


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23 thoughts on “Sometimes Dreams Change – My Messy Beautiful

  1. Letting balloons go is one of my favorite sayings…and one of the hardest things to do. I loved your post and am cheering you on. Your writing is tender, honest, and I just sunk into the story. I could “see” you opening that sweet gift from your sister. Best wishes on your dream. You and your son will be in my prayers.

  2. Shelisa,

    You get it! Thank you so much for the reply and your prayers. Both warm my heart.


  3. Blessings to you. My husband has leukemia, too. It’s CLL, and I don’t know when he’ll first need treatment. God always has a plan in mind for us, even if it wasn’t something on our agenda. Saying a little prayer for the next step in your journey. I hope your little guy will be okay!

  4. CANCER SURVIVOR. Those are some Messy Beautiful words – so grateful you won the battle. Thank you for reading and God bless you!

  5. Thank you for this. I so needed the reminder to let things go and that imagery of letting that red balloon go will stick with me for a long time. Beautifully written. You are in my prayers.

  6. You and your boy are so beautiful, in so many ways. Sending him and you strength, from one survivor to another. <3

  7. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. I came here from Momastery and really enjoyed your encouraging words. Prayers and love to you and son for health and happiness. p.s. That quote from Hope Floats … it’s one of my favorites.

  8. Thank you, Jenny. I’m totally pumped you love that quote too! It has been one of my favorites since high school.

  9. Jenni,
    Beautifully said. Thanks for sharing this brutiful red balloon truth.
    I found you through the Messy project ( I also posted).
    Love your site and your gracious inspiration.
    Best to you,

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