Thursday, June 9, 2016

Haiti Love

Hi Friends.

Couldn't wait to get home.  To write.  To Pray.  To process what I've learned about Haiti....from just a couple of pictures and a few texts.  Like 5 to be exact. So much so that I drove home through a sea of tears. 

I've learned what a privileged society we have in which to live.  Today, I stayed at work during my lunch hour, which I often do....and complained to myself that I was tired of the turkey sandwich I was eating....again for the 4th day in a row.  You see, at the beginning of the week, I ran to the store and bought the lunch meat, a loaf of bread, some cheese, and some chips....oh yea....and diet cokes to last for the week.  Partly, so I wouldn't "have to get out" during lunch....and partly so I could save that "fast food money" for my upcoming family vacation next month.

As I was munching on said sandwich....and visiting with a few co-workers who where gathered around the table....I listened as a couple came in from outside talking about how hot it was.  And granted, it is....hot outside.  June in Arkansas hot.  Probably 90ish?  Not sure.  But yes....when it takes the AC in your car about 10 miles to cool off....it's hot.  

After lunch, I walked back to my office....where I turned on my little fan to blow right in my face....because those "cold natured" in the office had turned it up to .....gasp! 75.  "Hot Flash Terri"....was hot.

This has been the scenario for every day this week.  

My Sam, flew out yesterday with an organization called "One Loud Voice"....to volunteer for the "Mission of Hope" project.  Google these organizations....like right now.  And read about them.  Follow them on insta.  And pray for their work.  Please.  

As for Sam, I've been in prayer for him and his team for quite some time.  We have all the proper preventative medications, all the bug sprays, sunscreens, etc. And even a few "Luxuries" in his bag to donate once he gets there.....you know...peanut butter, jelly, Cheerios, paper towels, and a couple of cans of spaghetti sauce.  Luxuries.  Let that sink in for a second.  

And I was griping about a turkey sandwich.  

Obviously, cell phone usage and wifi isn't much of an option in a third world country, so I've not gotten to speak to Sam since he boarded the plane in Atlanta, yesterday.  However, the young man rooming with him at the MOH compound, is able to text his mom.  What an angel she is to share his words with a group of us Mommas here at home.

First text, late last night....
"I am in my room. No windows. It's 102 😂😂. About to get a shower then crash. Long day tomorrow! The city was like something I've never seen, it's awful. There isn't a building standing. The compound is nice. It is gated. Electricity through the night! And running cold water! We have guards too so safe!"

My heart sank for my child and his new friend...and their mission team.... thinking of all they are enduring to spread the love of Christ.  He felt the need to share that he felt safe.  Most 19-20 year old boys aren't worried about safety.  AC maybe?  But, safety.   For some reason, that stuck with me.

"Yeah sam is sleeping Above me he's good"

Assuming, he was asked about my Sam.  Was nice to know he was good.  So I'm picturing bunk beds in a hot, windowless room.  In the "nice compound".  Here in America...."Nice" is usually a Hilton, Embassy Suites....somewhere with room service, a fluffy bed, and a complimentary breakfast.  :)

This morning:
"I'm not sure the time, they don't know! But me and Sam are sitting in the roof! We have a long day!




We got to see their view!!  From their roof of the compound.  While pretty, I couldn't help but think it appeared a bit desolate.  

He went on to explain to us that parts of the island recognize daylight savings time, and other parts do not.  So nobody really has any idea what time it is.  Haha

He also said that one of the adults on the trip is really struggling.  When asked exactly what she was struggling with....
The heat.

"Yes it's so so so hot nothing like you've ever felt'

Please, please.  Stop and pray for her.  That she can push through.

We got more pictures!  (I'll bet this precious angel doesn't realize how we are hanging on his EVERY word!  :))



We are assuming that sweet Abbey was given a new hair do by her new friends.  Precious.




My Sam is on the right.  I have stared at this picture more often than I'd like to admit.  Oh, my heart strings are tugged.

This afternoon...they traveled further.

"Village we are in now most don't even own pants or underwear! Terribly sad."

Tears sprung to my eyes when reading this.  At the exact same moment,  I received a phone call that one of the million items needed to dress my daughter for her final year of dance team,  was ready for pickup at the Sports Shop.  And then my daughter texted to ask me idea for a gift for her "little sister" for dance camp this week.  Her words..."Help me!  I don't want to get crappy gifts."  Now don't misunderstand....Sydney's heart is in a good...even sweet....place.  But I just couldn't help noticing the huge.....read....GINORMOUS ....difference in dilemmas, decisions, problems.

It was a pattern all day today.  I get home and the kids are "starving"....one is exhausted from basketball camp.....one is so hot because he walked "all the way down the street from a friend's house" and can he go swimming?  

Again...please don't misunderstand.  All of them are super kids.  And I am so grateful for the blessings they have and the opportunities we are provided daily.  But....my heart is just aching.  Simply aching. For the entitlement that we practice....and the amount we take for granted...each and every day.

Just before I left the office...
"Back at the compound! After a freezing shower I'm still sweating. I don't know how these people live."

Be still my heart.  No words.





Another picture!  Our Kaylee....Sam's sweet girlfriend....and no doubt a child that is already nestled deep in her heart.


And just moments ago...
"Tomorrow we get to paint a house of missionaries here on campus and there's air conditioning!!

While I'm quite certain this won't be central air....with a thermostat at their fingertips....the treat tomorrow....is maybe a little AC.  

Please please pray for these kids.  For the adults that are leading them.  Pray for those they are there to befriend, share Christ's love, and help if only for a moment.  Pray that their hearts are prepared to receive all that they are bringing before them.  

Pray for these organizations.  And those who have dedicated their lives to better this country.  My dear friend, and fellow mom said it best...."You are either called to go or called to send."  How true.  While only few are over there....So many  answered the "call to send" with prayerful and financial support.  I keep thinking that I want to go.  I want to take my family there.  To experience Sam's journey this week.  Although....I just don't know if I can...That's a prayer for many days ahead.

I replied to my friend last night...."I think our kids will be forever changed."

I know I am.  In just a few hours....a couple of pics....and half a dozen texts.  

Haiti.  We love you.  Already in our hearts.

And to you Sam Baker.  I've never, EVER, been more proud to be your mom.


"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."  John 15:16

In Him,
Terri




Monday, May 30, 2016

Parent Dares

Happy Memorial Day, y'all. 

The silence is deafening. After getting the awful tummy stuff outta here,  all of my "littles" have been elsewhere occupied for the day and I've spent the majority of the last three days relaxing, recuperating, and refueling. Much needed, I tell ya.  

David and I have only had his oldest at home, hobbling around after knee surgery.  We have eaten a lot of junk and spent the day laughing and enjoying one another.

I've spent the last hour with my "to do" list that is longer than my arm to prepare all these children for their upcoming activities. One headed to Haiti....one headed to Harding ......one starting physical therapy.....one headed to Hattiesburg.....one in the midst of Football and all THAT entails....and another just home enjoying his summer. 

Recently, I sat in the parking lot to pick up #5 from basketball (age14), I'm reminded that I'm an outsider.  You see? For years, my best friends were those parents of the #1's friends and teammates.  When you travel three weekends a month, they become your family. All through school, when I would need help with carpools or really ANYTHING....I knew one of about 8 moms that I could call and before I could even "ask" the answer was "yes".  And vice versa. To this day....I could probably call for anything and get that same answer. Our friendships ran much deeper than baseball. 

But as I was saying, I knew no one.  Already, at a recent parent meeting, the other moms were name-dropping, and politic-ing, and pairing up into their obvious connections and I sat there feeling very old.  And alone. I wanted to stand up and tell them so much of what I learned over the years.  That the coaches  don't really care who you are or where they get their private lessons from.....it will all be decided on the court.  I chuckled to myself and AT myself for being stuck back in the land of "8th grade basketball". 

What really bothered me, though, is the alone feeling came more from not having another parent to lean on with my new son. To help with carpools, and lunches, and Sonic runs. I began questioning my ability to do it all.  It's tough, y'all.  

All of my best friends are entering the empty nest time of life.  While I, am starting over.  Am older.  And tired-er, and yes.  Just a little bit wiser.  Almost a pro. Or should be anyway.  Ha 

So much to do while nurturing a new job. 30 minutes from home. A job that I love.  That has brought with it challenge, and value, and enables me to hopfully make a difference.  Also, it has brought with it precious new friends.  Friends I want to help, and be teammates with, and not let down. 

Overwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe how I feel some days.  To be needed by so many.  For SO MANY, need my 100%. Very few in my world understand. 

I'm praying for balance.  To be able to give ALL of me to no less than 10 people on any given day.  7 of which live under my roof. Each and every one expect and deserve all of me. And I've pledged to do just that. 

I've began reading and putting into practice "The Love Dare For Parents".  Cheesy, maybe.  But hey....I'm not to proud to ask for help. And from Him. 

With 6 kids...it's gonna take a bit more than 40 days. I'm going at my own pace with it.  It's taken me back to my favorite chapter of the Bible...1 Corinthians 13. Ya know....Love is Patient.  Love is kind. 
We all know it.  We all love it.  But...do we all live it?

It's got me praying those "scary prayers" that I've talked about before.  The ones where you better be ready to hear Him....listen to Him.... And be obedient to Him. 

In my parental "Love Dare" journey, I am met with daily challenges, and charged with writing about the effects of each one.  Example:  "Tell each of your children that you love them."  Like....duh. We all say that each day.  But no....Like, take the child's face in your hands.....and look them in the eye....and let them know you REALLY love them.   And hug them.  And hang on for a minute.  So I did just that!  

Other days....I was charged with doing an unexpected act of kindness...."Love is kind"....get the idea?  That day, I handwrote a little note to each kiddo, placed a $5 gift card to Sonic in it....so they could enjoy a happy hour or two on ole mom.  I placed it under their placemat at dinner time.  For ONCE, we had all the kiddos at home at once.  They loved finding their "little act of kindness" for the day.  It ended with the whole family playing wiffle ball in the front yard.  It was a perfect summer evening.

Another place my journey has taken me is quite shameful.  The "Love is Patient" day had me crawling under the table hiding my face like sometimes Pastor Rick's sermons do.  It challenges us to see that serving our children is an honor and a privilege! For you see?  The "to do" list I mentioned earlier in this post is pretty typical.  No, they don't travel to other states and other countries every day....but the craziness of their lives....when only two are driving....gets tricky.  

I find myself complaining while in service to the ones I love the most.   When in reality, I should be honored to invest my love and compassion into their futures....just as I've done for years.  Being tired at the end of the day...means I've done a job well.  Means I've come home to those who need me....and helped to meet their needs.  Being overwhelmed....means I have active and healthy children who are thriving in their activities.  It means I am loving.  And being loved.

The more "patience" I practice today....will mean more victories to celebrate tomorrow.  Patience helps us to minimize those things which are negative.  And Kindness helps us to be a blessing.  Kindness is love in action.  Not just in the form of a Sonic card.  But it our everyday attitudes toward the daily demands of life.  It's simply investing in the hearts that we have been given to nurture.  

Only on day 4....and its some good stuff friends.  So much so...that I am going to pray and study and invest in myself as a mother before moving on to 5.  I want to get this down pat.  :)

As my "to do" list continues to grow and change.  As the color-coordinated calendar whereby each child has his/her own color is filled, completed, and marked off, and as my ole body wears down.....I realize how blessed I am with the completely beautifully FULL nest I have been charged with loving and serving.  

I cannot imagine what kind of parent would ever EVER turn away from a child. That is a "grace" I pray about extending daily.  I'm just not there yet.  But that said, God chose me to be there for 6 wonderful children.  And with His guidance....I will not take that lightly.  We aren't a perfect family.  But we sure have our perfect moments.

"Dare to Love".....is my challenge to you.  As parents.  Partners.  Friends. As God's children.  I've learned in Days 1-4....The practice of Love, Patience, and Kindness can be extended to all we meet.  I am pretty sure none of these will steer ya wrong.  :)

Train 'em up!!!  Ephesians 3:17 tells us to "...root them, and ground them in love."  
How else will they bloom????

In Him,
Terri

PS. I have a prayer request:  My David finally was able to see a hand specialist on Friday.  News was not good.  He is facing surgery for both hands for severe Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.  Facing being out of work 4-6 weeks...PER HAND.  I cannot begin to tell you how that effects a family of 8....two going into their senior year, with one already in college.  Please pray for us.  Diligently.   And without ceasing.  We have definitely been tested in the "sickness and health" arena!  :). Please pray that He hold this man that I love so much...and loves and protects our family like no other. Thank you.  





Monday, May 2, 2016

You Should Be Here....


Hi Momma.

I'm writing this letter to you at the end of the day. I'm pooped. I've spent the day at work (from my new job that I absolutely love, by the way!), and the evening answering to the demands of being a mom.  You know:  picking one up from football, Thanking the Lord for precious "teacher friends" who helped me chase down a backpack, holding a cell phone, in the Middle School restroom...after 5:30 pm, cooking dinner, laundry....ENDLESS laundry....the usual. 

I see you chuckling in heaven as I'm living out all the things you did with us....and foresaw when you first held Sambo and Syd in your arms. It has been their little hands and hearts that have brought me to my knees. I have learned through their lives that there is always someone more important than myself. Serving them has left me tired and drained. Serving them has been the best thing I could do in my lifetime. Their lives remind me every day the things that you taught me..... that life is not about me, it is about loving others.

Your "Bonus Boys" are doing so well, mom.  Oh! How I wish you could have known them. 

David, Jr.  - the one with a big heart and even better dreams. I love our rare moments of heart to hearts.  A hard worker, and driven young man. Can't wait to watch him achieve each and every one. 

Tyler - this one makes me laugh.  And laugh.  And laugh. Such a cutie patootie. The one who is the first to ask about my day.  And tell me about his. 

Trey - sweet Trey.  The quiet one. The sweetest spirit. The helpful one. The one full of love and pride for all he accomplishes. This one is going to the NBA and gonna buy me a house on the mountain. :). Just ask him!

Frankie - his innocence is full of wonderment is precious to watch. He says "Momma" no less than 20 times a day and each time I love it more than the last.  My little love bug. My sweet Frankie.  

God knew what He was doing by blessing me with a house full of boys. I love them as my own. And pray everyday I make a difference in their lives....as they have mine. 

They have no idea now, but all six of my kids are teaching me to lean hard into the moments that shape my character, no matter how uncomfortable they are. They are teaching me that serving others around the clock is hard work. But it is turning my life into something beautiful.

Before I had them I was told that children are a blessing. They were right, but I didn't understand what they meant. I thought children were a blessing because they were fun, and cute to dress up and take pictures of...blah blah blah.   Now I know that children are a blessing because they turn my eyes away from myself. Their lives have stolen my heart. My heart can’t beat for myself anymore. It beats for them from morning to night, and all through the night. When they are in pain or when they have to work extra hard, I feel what they feel. When their feelings are hurt, my heart breaks with them. When they experience something new and scream with excitement, I am cheering right along side of them.  Just like you did.

Sam is about to finish his freshman year at CBC.  Oh, how I miss you.  I know you would be in the middle of this and so proudly among each moment.  He loves his school and his friends and has a precious girl in his life. And playing baseball for Coach Brister.  I think you may have heard of him  :)  God has His arms holding our Sam....and has guided every moment....every decision.  While I'm sad that my baby is growing...I'm at peace with his future.  

Syd is thriving.  Perfect grades And just was just chosen as a Pepstepper again for her Senior year.  This child is a mess.  Kinda like your daughter.  But everything I wasn't.  She is organized and honest and driven and loyal.  She is my best friend.  Hands down.  So much fun.


This is hands down my favorite pic of them in ALL the land. 

I can't forget my David.  I've already told you all about him and I've told him all about you.  And SOOO wish he would have gotten to know and love you like we do.  I'm sure you know all too well that God had a hand in this.  I love him.  And more importantly, Mom....He loves ME!  <3



See, Mom?  He lets me be "me."  Many have tried to change me.  And many have failed.  I've hit the jackpot!  :)  Ding.Ding.Ding.  <3

With Mother's Day this week, I am celebrating the greatness not only being their mom....but of being  your daughter.  I don’t want to be honored for the things I have done. I want to honor the One who hasn’t given up on me.  Just like you said He wouldn't.   When I slammed my fists and threw fits, and strayed from him, He held me close. He has forgiven me. I want to honor God for the work He has done in my life. My beautiful children are a blessing because they bring me joy and point me to the One who will never give up on me. They point me to the only One Who can make me great.

Its May, again.  May has always been a big ole month around our house.  Several of the important milestones in my life were celebrated in May....ones that used to give me...me/US....such joy! May housed the wonderful dates of Mother's Day....AND your birthday!  Funny, how it was SUPPOSED to be all about you....but you always made it all about us.  I get it now.  :)  You always said I would.....

My wedding is probably one of my fondest memories of YOU.  We planned everything together down to every last detail.  I loved that day.








L

Mom, since you have moved on to Heaven....I must admit that I've dreaded the month of May every year.  I also remember it was May that you called us in on that fateful day and told us that you were....in fact....terminal.  That the doctor had confirmed that there was nothing more "medically" that they could do to help you.  That your earthly life was nearing the end and that you need to prepare yourself and your family.  You were to "get your affairs in order".....that the end was near.  We cried together that day.  We prayed together that day.  It changed my life.  Forever.  I didn't agree with your decision to stop treatment.  I didn't want to give up.  I didn't want to let go.  But, as your daughter, as a fellow Survivor, and now...a fellow sister in Christ....I get it, Mom.  I get it.

You insisted on that little trip to Branson.  With just us.  I remember riding in the backseat with you and visiting all the way.  Funny, how I remember that you told me my teeth were so pretty and white.  Isn't it crazy that I remember something like that?  I constantly stare at my teeth and remember you.....stupid I know.  On that trip, you were wearing down.  The muscles in your legs were beginning to deteriorate and you struggled some.  We still managed to shop, a little.  You bought Sydney a little outfit.  Pink t-shirt and little pink flowered capri pants....from the Carter's outlet at Tangier.  


I remember that because it is the last outfit you purchased for her.  Since that time....every time I clean her drawers and closet.....going through her clothes to donate, consign, etc....I set them aside.  I then place it neatly back in her bottom drawer.  They have gone through each season for almost 15 years, and I just can't part with them.  

You also took us to the Dixie Stampede.  You bought the kiddos both of one of those beautiful stick horses.  The last toy you bought them.  Both have theirs in their rooms.  Their "mamaw horses"......

Here you didn't feel well....you were wearing that wig you hated....but you pressed on and gave us the gift of a weekend FULL of memories with you that we carry with us forever.  I plan to take them to Dixie Stampede, soon.  Very soon.  


I make sure they know how much you love them.  As I look around the ballpark at the proud mamaws and grannys that never miss a game or a performance.....I think of you.  I know you are there, too.  I would always think that that when Syd asked me for about $20 each ballgame for the concession stand, and I have to tell her "no"....that you would slide her a few bucks when I wasn't looking.  :) You would be THAT lady who yelled like a fool when they did something good....and it would be NO secret which kid was "yours."  :)  Complete with "Sydney Clare's Mamaw" or "I love #4" on your back.  No doubt.  That would be you.


I know you would keep the road hot between Newport and Benton.....and I'd have to get a better mattress for the guest room for you.  :)  I'


My kiddos' events and special days would be much more "grand" and "special" because YOU were that person that made them that way.  What in the WORLD am I gonna do when she gets married?????? 

I wish I'd have let you teach me a couple of little things like hemming pants, and sewing on buttons....haha.  HOWEVER....you'd be proud of the few things I've learned to do as a "dance mom"....I can "stone" and "bedazzle" with the best!  :)

Tootie and Chuck have more than stepped in to give me loving parents.  I'm learning to cook and laugh and just be loved. We feel her warmth in our home from her hearts AND her many afghans.  Everyone has their own "Tootie Blanket"! I   know you are as happy that I am than God saw fit to give me a "Bonus mom" as we were able to give them children and grandchildren.



I've drifted a little...reminiscing of you and what a presence you were in our lives.  But back to my point....Since we lost you, I've always dreaded May.  Gloomy, depressed, even grumpy.  I've learned to be a little more at peace.  But I will never get over losing you. 

I had the BEST role model in you as a Mom.  But darn it! I don't hold a candle to you!  :)  I am an alarm clock, short-order cook, maid, waitress, teacher, nurse, referee, handyman, artist, security officer, private investigator, photographer, counselor, chauffer, demerit-saver, event planner, hairdresser, personal assistant, an ATM, and I occasionally even have to scare away the boogie man.  I'm on call 24-7 and don't get holidays off.  I'm a mom.  I LOVE it!  And...just like YOU said I would.....I get it. :)

I do have moments.  "Woe is me" moments.  But you left behind such a Village.  I reach out to Judy when I REALLY need a dose of "you"....She is the closest thing left on earth to you.  I have Jay, and Dad, and of course, Tootie and Chuck have adopted us and loves us through all of our mistakes and victories like "only a mother could"  haha.  It protects me.  It restores me....and gives me love.    But knowing we will meet again...brings a peace and a hope that lets us go on.  You're still with us....And I see all the little ways you let us know that.  I get it, Mom.

Things in my life are falling into place.  Loose ends are being tied.  I'm happy, Momma.  I'm really, really happy.

I strive to live every day by some of the last words you said to me.  "To 'Let go and Let God' handle my needs and priorities. And to continue raising my children in the company of Christian friends."  You are right.  He provides ALL of our needs, and most of our wants. 



And I know how different things would be if you were here.  I never thought I'd feel so alone. 
So tonight, I'm pretty ticked at Cancer. I wish it had not chosen to pick on you.  On us. I know God doesn't make mistakes but He must be rolling His eyes at me doing it without you. This is just hard. 

I guess that's why He placed me here. I know in my heart that I'm right where we need to be. That He gave me these friends in my life, mom, to fill the void of family loss in my life.  

Sometimes, mom, I'm guilty of letting them carry me through this life without you.  I get so caught up in "me and mine" that I lose sight of my "servant's heart".  And am not the best friend in return. 
Sometimes I just don't even know what to say or think or feel.

Numb.

Lately, I spent a lot of time asking God to give me the words to speak and to know when to speak them and when to be quiet. That is a delicate and mysterious thing and not always my gift. I think I get that from you, momma. Most days, I am able to turn my gaze outward again and am so appreciative of the love and support my friends offer and so freely share.  I aim to do a better job of letting them know how much I love them. 

There are days, where I slip back inside my head, and I just don't feel worthy of all the wonderful people God has placed around me.  The friends who love me in spite of me.  Who pick me up. Who forgive. Who let me know I am loved, when I'm not very lovable.  You know I'm that way sometimes....not very lovable. 

Lately, mom, I'm  feeling a little overwhelmed. There is so much noise, not from the kiddos, but the static of life in all it's glory, that I could not focus my attention on what mattered, or even figured out what it was that did matter. 

I thought the problem was that I couldn't hear myself think. 

I was ready to clear my plate of obligations. Instead of discernment, I was experiencing a little bit of fight or flight response. Fortunately, after some time, deep breathing, snuggles with the kiddos and prayer, I was able to refocus. The static was drowned out by the still, small voice as I listened to Him. I didn't need to hear myself. I was getting in my own way. 

Thank you for teaching me that direct line to Him. For teaching me to "Let go and let God..." have my life, my worries and my needs. To my dear Lord and my mom.....I need you both.  To be a better Christian, mother, partner, and friend. 

This is how I remember you most....Smiling and silly. You made my childhood special.  You instilled in me how to love and give ALL of myself to my children.  I try, Mom.  I sure hope you would be proud.  Being a mom has truly completed me as a person here on earth.  It is such a gift.  They have brought such joy into my life.  Through them, I've met the best of friends and found joy in the simplest of things.  I just love it.  There really is no greater love than a mother's love.  





I've been told there is a bit of resemblance... Me and you.  :)). Oh I wish!  I take it as a compliment in the highest form.  <3

Happy Mother's Day, Momma...to US!  I miss you more every day.  Oh, And Happy Early Birthday.  I won't even tell everyone that you're turning 64!  Old lady!  :)  I love you, momma.  You should be here....and I know you are. 

XOXO,
Terri 



PS....I couldn't help but read back through some old posts and found a couple where I shared "you".....Thought I'd tag them again.  They make me smile.  <3
http://terricoxbaker.blogspot.com/2012/05/may-27-happy-happy-birthday.html
http://terricoxbaker.blogspot.com/2012/05/may-27-happy-happy-birth


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Boldness

I'm starting this post with a "Hi Friends!!" Because this is one I intend to post.  I realize it's been a minute.  I've still been doing a lot of writing....just not a lot of posting.  When a person writes for therapy, their family and friends often become the target...and/or victim...of those posts, and sometimes I don't post to protect privacy.  Other times, my feelings may actually get me into trouble! Haha.  So I write and they are safely tucked away beneath a password nobody can crack. 

This post, however, is for the purpose of accountability.  I'll get to that in a minute.  

Change is good.  Change is hard.  Change is inevitable.  

I've been through a fair amount of change in the past few months.  I've learned when you pray those "scary prayers"....ya know....the ones where when you ask God questions, you better be prepared for His answers??? When you pray scary prayers...your heart needs to be ready. He answered with four new sons, a son who became an adult in an instant, a daughter who keeps me on my toes, a new job that is bringing with it precious new friends.....change. 

I've learned when you begin each day thanking Him for His blessings, instead of seeking Him for your burdens....those burdens slowly disappear.  Right now, today, I'm more blessed than any woman deserves to be.  Especially broken little me. 

I've learned that Satan attacks God's strongest soldiers.  We make him nervous. And sometimes.....he actually wins. But there is no greater "joy in the morning" than turning your eyes back to Jesus and being broken before Him. 

As I lie in bed, at sunrise on this beautiful Sunday morning....and ALL my people sleeping soundly in the next room.....I felt the need to recognize my blessings today, and take the burden that is weighing me down and go to Him. 

I've spent the last couple of days in deep talks with my Sam.  Having him home is a joy in itself. But having one-on-one, heart to heart talks is rare. He told me of some changes within himself that he has made.  He spoke of some "demons" that have been weighing him down, that he has chosen to lay at the cross.  

He shared with me something he learned in the Word through one of his small groups...."to approach the throne with BOLDNESS". Hebrews 4:16 tells us "Therefore we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need."  

Watching my meek, passive, child....quote scripture, and follow it with such confidence.   A BOLDNESS...y'all.  Sam isn't afraid.  Sam was comforted and confident and BOLD in his approach to accept the grace and mercy of God, even in his weakness. Ready to accept consequence of his brokenness without a fear, because of a trust in God's plan. Oh, to be that obedient.  To lay out burdens at the feet of Christ, and never pick them up again.....Go Sam.  

That kid walked in a new young man this weekend.  As a mom, what a precious moment to watch him experience that JOY, that take many years to find.  And only sorrow for those who may not understand. 

I learned something from him in these moments. To approach ANYTHING hurting us a with a boldness.  A confidence that with Christ, nothing is too great for His mercy.  And His grace. 

Friends, I need prayer. I'm not healthy.  No, the cancer has not come back....my God BOLDLY took care of that...but frankly?  I'm fat. 

Laugh if you must, but this is a true burden. Lately, I've noticed many things. I can't keep up.  While at Disney, I struggled just keeping up with my daughter and her friends.  I was forced to rest often because...I LITERALLY, cannot keep up. 

I hurt.  My back hurts, my knees hurt, my body just aches.  No doubt due to the weight I'm carrying. 

I look horrible in pictures. In fact, I almost choose not to be in them, because I'm so unhappy with my appearance. 

All of this may sound trite, but please know that I'm not a vain person. I can't wait to get home and stay there. Simply going to the grocery store wears me out. Ballgames and school functions wipe me out. 

I'm not healthy. 

Yesterday my timehop reminded me that exactly 4 years ago, I reached a weight loss goal of 50lbs lost. I looked and felt better than I ever had. It also saved my life by revealing a lump in my breast, that could have taken my life had I not lost the weight and known it was there. 

Anyway, I posted this picture, taken on Easter Sunday, two weeks before my diagnosis...


So...I'm making the decision, to get it back off.  Again.  Damn you, steroids.  And chemotherapy.  

Okay....and diet cokes.  And chocolate.  And French fries.  

I want to approach this burden of my health....with a boldness.  It will be harder than ever before.  With my age.  My busy schedule. My large family to feed.  And my inability to do all the things I could before. 

I am asking for prayer.  And help.  And loving nudges to help me on this journey. 

I want to stand on a beach in June.  Take pictures and capture memories with my family. For I realize, there may not be many more with us as a whole.  I don't want to be embarrassed because of how I look. I want to FEEL like soaking up every moment with them. 

This is my goal.  40 lbs.  by June 25.  

Approaching with a boldness.  Will you pray for me? (And Sam, too....as his faith walk continues to change him.)

In Him,
Terri







Friday, October 30, 2015

Bye Bye, Pink Month

On the eve of the last day of the dreaded “Pink Month”….I find myself hating cancer today. Of missing my mom.  Of being just kinda ticked.  I have those days.  Guessing we all do.

I had my checkup this month…And while all is well from an "oncology" standpoint, all kinda isn’t well. I try not to talk about cancer often. But the fact is…that I have to. Its my therapy, y’all. And this month, along with its races, and pink ribbons, and anniversary dates, etc, I find myself reliving it. Cancer…is a mean, mean beast. Mean. 

And it’s cure? Even meaner.

When I walked out of my last chemo session three years ago, the sweet nurses (turned sweet friends) who shepherded me through the previous 7 treatments pushed play on the virtual boom box and the song, "Hit the Road Jack," filled the air. With smiles, hugs and tears, we said goodbye and the refrain, “don’t cha come back no more,” couldn’t have been more on point. However, there was no similar ceremony at the oncologist’s office after the termination of chemotherapy, as the message was clearly delivered, “I am your doctor now, and we are going to be friends a very long time. We will continue to follow your care.” The idea of trading in a primary care physician for an oncologist still brings a knot to my stomach. I’m well aware that the biannual blood tests and frequent X-rays have one purpose: scanning for the return of the monster. 

As a result, I always feel strange sitting in the waiting room of my oncologist’s office. Three years out, I can still recall the feeling of being in active treatment, waiting for my name to be called so I could take my chair and get hooked up for the next five hours. I cannot help but scan the room these days and feel deep empathy for those who I know are only starting their journey. As I’ve said a million times, I feel a twinge of survivor’s guilt as I sit with my head full of regrown hair, full blood count, and absence of chemo-induced fatigue. I want to SCREAM to everyone…I am still affected. Still tired. Still have chemo-brain, and am probably almost as scared as they are. 

Almost. 

But I’m not.

During these times, I remember what it felt like to be starting this challenge and how I felt when survivors showed up, aglow with a radiance that comes from having survived the perfect storm of physical and emotional traumas. To ease this guilt, I imagine that I’m being seen as an inspiration — living proof, with a huge emphasis on the living part — that treatment can work, the beast can be tamed. However, part of me is aware that others may be thinking, as I did on occasion, “How dare you look so healthy!” 

The sobering moment arrives when I see that person who I know may never get to have a final appointment, who may never know the relief of a clear CT scan or blood work. To say that one is humbled by this awareness falls short of the affective response deep within one’s heart. As a faithful Christian, I want to reach out and hold that person’s deepest fears while they regain, if even for a moment, the ability to breathe freely again. I want to tell them that I know the demons they face and assure them that, despite how it appears, all is well. Instead of opening up my therapist tool kit, however, I choose to sit as a silent patient who’s simply waiting her turn to be called to see the doctor. Often, I recite a silent prayer or healing mantra to the others who wait with me, as there are moments when no words can be just as powerful as any cliché: “Hang in there,” or “It will get better.” 

As the dreaded PINK MONTH ends, I always meet and have a newfound kinship with new survivors in my life….or the dreaded “newly diagnosed” in my life. For really…they are the ones who “get it.” Sure, we’re all connected at that moment by the label “patient,” but it’s a deeper connection one senses; a communal sharing of the fragility, humility and resiliency of the human spirit. While I still hate having an oncologist as my PCP, tempered by this experience of community, it’s a hate I hope to have well into the future.

This month is about awareness. I’m kinda cranky when I hear my dear loved ones and friends complaining about the discomfort of a mammogram. Trust me! It’s not as bad as chemo. So….hush it. And get ‘em. Just get them already.

Thanks for letting me have a little “cancer talk” today. I'm pretty sure I earned it.

God bless those fighting. Hug them. Love them. Pray for them.

In Him,
Terri

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bonus Blend

Just lazy in bed in this morning. The alarm clock will go off shortly...and the "sweet blessings of chaos" of the day will commence. But for now, all my "littles" are still sleeping soundly and its soooo quiet.

Happiness consumes me. I guess I'm showing my age, but I'm just reflecting this morning. I started out writing a Facebook status and after a few lines in, decided I better open the blog app. This one is gonna be a bit long for that! Haha. So here I am.

An update. My Sam is LOVING college. I have been THAT mom who downloaded snapchat so I could just see his face. :). He is right where he needs to be. This transition into adulthood is heaven-sent, I tell ya. Where life lessons are taught lovingly. He is meeting and making great friends, settling in with the team, adoring his coaches, engaging in church and life group activities, and his grades are just fine. Midterm grades are in and I'm pleased. God granted me the best kiddo in the world to flee the nest first. He loves his momma so he pacifies me with some sort of daily communication....and he is making me proud. He also has a new "friend" (of the female nature) that is simply preccccioussssss. Had is first game last Saturday....and headed back to watch him again this weekend. I'm getting to know his friends, their parents, and its good. All of it. So very good.

Syd. Still a mess. With all the change, she is adjusting slowly. But outside of the teenage hormonal "mouth" ....(I'm convinced if it were possible for God to have made a mistake, that it was allowing teenage girls to talk at all).....she is becoming very independent, thriving in all her activities, and still my best friend. She and her dance team are going to Disney to compete in the National Dance competition in a few months....so when they aren't at a game or school....they are practicing. They work so hard. I've never been to Disney or in a place to be able to take my kiddos. And have NO idea how I'm gonna afford to go, but somehow, we are gonna make it happen so that I can be like all the other moms and be with her. I pray everyday that we can make this happen. Kinda hard to hit the lotto when ya don't even play! ha Sydney doesn't stray far from me. There is no way she will get on a plane without me.

But... I am SO proud that they are being honored and rewarded and being able to represent our town in this way. Join me in prayers for their efforts and fundraising endeavors. They so deserve it.

Here is an update to my previous post..."I'm Nobody..."

The boys are settling in perfectly. They smile the kind of smiles that show ALL over your face! Eyes light up....the whole bit. I look forward to hearing from and talking to each one of them....each and everyday. While our "legal issues" are still in process, I can tell ya that those boys are my sons. No, I don't have a right to them in the eyes of the law....but in my heart....they are my sons.

We DID have our court hearing. Or rather.....we showed up for the court hearing. God moved! The "other parties" never filed the proper paperwork so there never was a guardianship. The case was closed years ago. So the judge said..."take your boys and go home." It was the most wonderful day. The boys were so happy....as were we.

Bonus Son #1:
For the first time, the he just gets to be a kid. He gets to worry about "kid stuff," not raising his brothers. Homecoming dates. Grades. His first job. Football. I'm watching the sadness in his eyes....slowly disappear. Oh how my heart is happy!

He is also struggling with his knee. Age 16, and two knee surgeries under his belt. Unfortunately, he didn't receive the physical therapy that was needed to bounce back. We are working through those issues now. All he wants to do is play football. All WE, as parents want...is for him to be happy. And will do whatever it takes to achieve that. Please pray for him.

I love my relationship with this one. How he knows he can come to me for whatever. How he talks to me about prayer. And his future. (He wants to be a doctor. And no doubt, he will be!) And his new girlfriend. Shopping with him for the perfect homecoming clothes. His disappointment of the past....and his knee....all of it. We are building trust. And love. And it is good. Real, real good. I strive everyday to be a mom to him.....one that makes him proud. One that he can love. And count on. And trust. Just be a kid, sweet boy. Be a kid.

#2: This one is a funny, funny kid. He makes me laugh....every single day. I do worry about him...and how his heart must have been so shattered the past few years. My goal....to fix that. And fast. Grades were iffy in the beginning....but whether he knows it or not....the accountability we have given him, and the incentives placed before him to get them up??? Are working! After the first 9 weeks....they are up! He is working hard...and it shows. And when we have the roundtable "checking of the grades"....his eyes are fixed upon us as we check. He knows his hard work is paying off. I am so proud. I just love him so.

The first to say "thank you" for the meal we prepare. And "love you" as he gets off the phone. This one is special.

Since the "custody stuff" is settled....he (and his brother) can now dress out for games on Friday nights. My boys are Panthers. In every sense of the word.

#3: This one....has my WHOLE heart. I probably worry about him the most. (It's a momma thing....). Although....great strides have been made. I can't wait to write about those. He is my buddy. The first one to help me unload the car on grocery day. The first one to offer if I say "I need a volunteer...". Other than the STINKIEST feet on the planet....I cannot say a cross word about this one. I've watched this sad, sad child, open up and just steal my heart. When the others are playing Xbox and watching sports....this one pads into my bedroom and snuggles in with me to watch whatever "chick flick" I have playing. This one...says "I love you" (and says it first) and gives me a hug before he leaves every morning....and before he goes to bed....EVERY night.  This one points out the houses along the Arkansas River that he plans to buy us one day when he makes it big in the NBA.  I asked him about his backup plan if the NBA doesn't work out?  Well....the NFL... then.  :)  He is my dreamer.  Dream big...kiddo.  Dream big.

This one...gets a tummy ache...when he thinks he has disappointed us. He frets over always doing the right thing. If only he knew....that NOTHING could make us not love him. Or be disappointed in him. Time will fix that. This, I know.

His grades are good, except for a struggle in one class. But we have faith in him. And let him know this daily. My goal...for the sadness to leave. And forever. And ever. I adore this child.

#4: Oh goodness....our baby. God broke the mold, y'all. This one is a the family clown. The class clown. He is the extreme to every emotion. A little love bug...that we hold our breath each day to see if there were any "issues". haha A frequent flyer in DH....we are working on this one. Severely, ADHD....we have finally starting the counseling process and have appointments forthcoming to have him evaluated. It was found that he was diagnosed years ago....but so many "missed appointments, sessions and evaluations." they closed his case. So we are starting over. I'm good with that. Fresh start. We WILL make sure he has all of the tools he needs to be successful.

His grades are for the most part, good. We have a great working relationship with his teachers, counselors, etc. and he is in a situation to be his best. I have noticed that things are settling down for him. No real issues in a few weeks. He knows he is home. And to stay. What a weight lifted for this child.

He tugged at my heart recently. When someone asked him who takes him to church? He said, "my mom and my dad...." I had to leave the room and take a moment. "My mom....." <3

For prayer purposes, here are some ways you can pray for us....

Protection of the boys hearts. They have been repeatedly placed in the middle of "adult stuff." And some were continuing to try to do that, but thankfully that is better. We are protecting them at ALL costs.

We are still trying to get the order for stopping of child support. SOOOO, that said...we are still paying for them (going on week 12) while they are living with us. I cannot begin to tell you what a financial struggle this is.  In addition, we are not receiving from their biological mother....as she is TOO paying to the grandmother. Or rather....supposed to be. We have no way of knowing that, yet. Our attorney is working on that. Thank GOD for him. A blessing.

Pray for my family. That we can create a home for them....a loving home. Where they have the tools....not to "survive"....but to THRIVE!  That I continue to get to know these little things about them. Like a momma should...

All six of these kids are so incredibly easy to love. My home is alive with laughter. And silliness. And love. Are we perfect?  Nope.  That means they are comfortable.  There are no "steps" in my house. None to enter our home...and none withIN our home. Family isn't defined by blood...only love. Love of the Lord....and each other.

My cup overflows.

God is good, y'all. So good.  His timing is perfect.  He is HEARING our prayers...and responding to our calls. So many ways I can back that up.

In Him,

Terri

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cancer Catwalk

This week I'm jumpin WAY out of my comfort zone, y'all.  From my "comfort zone" to the "catwalk"....literally.

I have the honor of participating in the "Runway For a Cause" whereby proceeds benefit the Arkansas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen.  All of the models will be dressed in fashions by local boutiques and are breast cancer survivors.

You can read all about it here!  :)

It wasn't until I went to the "meet & greet" recently, which was an informational meeting over "wine and goodies" with the committee and the other models that I realized just how BIG this thing is.  They raised about $75,000 last year....and this year, when 850 tickets were sold out, they are scrambling to add more tables to sell more tickets.  Wow. That's a lot of folks.  The venue is HUGE and little ole' me is going to strut down the runway in what will inevitably be in front of about 1000 people????  For the last couple of weeks, thinking about it has made me sick and feel like this MUST be worse than cancer......

For you see?  I have never thought of myself as pretty by society's standards.  Shorter than most.....Heavier than I should be....Hair that never really does what I want it to....ya get the jist. However...there HAVE been times that I FELT pretty.  Don't get me wrong...I didn't wear a bag over my head and let it affect me or depress me. Vanity was never that big of a deal.  

But since cancer???  Not once. I can honestly say....that not one time have I felt pretty.  Again....I'm not really a vain person, but sometimes...it sorta does get to me.  Once I described my body as a place where Edward Scissorhands has played Connect-The-Dots.  I've been cut armpit to armpit....twice.  Distorted.  Ugly.  The steriods, the hormonal changes, and most likely age (and ok....since I always write from a place of honesty....the donuts) have packed the pounds on me,  I just can't get this weight off no matter how hard I try.  My hair.  EVERY single person I have ever known who lost their hair to chemo....it came back different from before.  I was like...YES!  Nope....I got the same ole thick..."just enough curl to cause problems" hair.  And, cancer caused it to be gray!!  (That's my story and I'm stickin to it!)  :)  Thank goodness for great colorists!  <3

A double mastectomy is brutal.  3 years later and I'm still not the same.  Physically or Emotionally.  Due to my insurance woes....Reconstruction was really never a viable option.  And by the time ya beat cancer AND the "Red Devil"???  Who really cared??  I didn't.  Nothin can make me look better nekkid.  :)  So I've got my fake boobies on a shelf in my closet should they ever matter.  I've had them on twice.  The day I got them and when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding.  I'm still undecided if they will accompany me down the runway on Thursday.  They are sorta like a statement of being something that I'm just not.  Weird....I know.

If I hear one more time...."Who cares?  You're alive!  You beat it!" I think I will punch someone.  While, I'm so happy to have beat it.  And SO happy to continue walking through the spider web and dodging the spider bite....it still succcckkkksssss... 
Forgive me...I don't really like using ugly words....but there really is no worthy equivalent. Yes, I'm healthy and alive.  But, it STILL took alot from me.  And from all who fight it.

As I was driving to work this morning....feeling fat and so UN-modelish, and counting down the days....not to this event....but to when this event was OVER...God spoke to me.  The message of the day on KLove was this, "If you are called to do something that is normally out of your character....then it is most likely GOD giving you a little nudge."  A lady called in to the show to say that she was in a public place with a woman obviously in the middle of a cancer fight.  She was pale, and weak and appeared to be exhausted.  She had a scarf on her head to hide her baldness.  The caller explained that....SO out of her character...she was given the urge to just walk over and hug her.  No matter how hard she tried....she couldn't resist and just hugged the lady tightly.  She explained that God was guiding her just then....to go out of her normal comfort zone, and extend love.

While this really isn't the same thing....it sorta is.  In two days....I get the opportunity to meet and be among 48 other women who have SURVIVED breast cancer.  Who have been through the surgeries and the chemos and the radiations and the fears and even the love.  These women have FOUGHT and WON!  Some are fighting and may just need MY story!  Bear with me a sec....but if each of these 48 women have at least 5 loved ones.  5 people who think that SHE is one of the most important women in their world....be it a spouse, partner, child, sister, parent, grandparent, friends.....That is 240 additional people that this disease reached.  And I get to celebrate WITH and AMONG them.  What a privilege!!!

It has already allowed me to spend some time catching up with my sweet friend, Dana....who was one of my greatest encouragers and heroes during my fight.  She will be the envy of everyone with her inward and outer beauty.  Cute as a button!  And, also Michelle...a friend from my childhood home and church home.  God made sure I wasn't alone.

These incredible fighters get it!  They understand the chemo brain.....and all the memories lost because of it.  That is why I blog and facebook so often.  I'm CONVINCED that Timehop was created by a "Chemo Survivor".....:)  My kiddos will forever have my words.  Forever.  And I will always have my life reminders of my posts.    

They understand the struggle with eyesight, and weight gain, and oncology checkups.  They realize the pain of simple things like a seatbelt and trying to scratch an itch in the middle of their back.  

They understand the personal kick in the stomach every single time they hear of someone around them with a new diagnosis.  If you could write a letter to a new Survivor Sister....This is what it would look like: Dear Terri...You have Cancer.

I've met with my vendors...and to be completely honest -- I left both places feeling inadequate.  Not necessarily because THEY made me feel this way....but because I don't feel worthy.  Both boutiques were beautiful and the clothes exquisite.  Price tags so out of my reach that this will be the only time I  can even DREAM of wearing these clothes.  I worry that I don't do them justice.  Or make anyone want to rush and purchase them.  In fact....the mere ticket to an event like this is out of my budget.

I have visions of the scene from Sex in the City where Carrie wore 6 inch heels to appear taller and after about 4 steps down the runway she took a flying fall and the models stepped over her like roadkill.  haha  As THIS 5'3" rolly polly steps into her mile high clog booties on Thursday....I just PRAY I can walk up there with the big girls without a casualty!  <3  While a part of me wishes I can lose 50 lbs and grow about 6 inches in 2 days....I know that is not a "realistic prayer."  :)

Then it hit me.  THIS isn't what it is about.  This is a celebration of Survivorhood.  This is a fun event for ladies who enjoy fashion.  This is a way to raise funds for a cure!  And for mammograms and for prevention.  For ladies JUST like me who didn't have insurance (or rather one that would pay.)  This is a way that I can give back.

I stand in a room once a week and I lead prayer for my children and their teams to simply do their best and honor Him.  I was instrumental in starting a ministry that's primary focus was to give it ALL to God, and let Him bless our efforts.  I was reminded this morning to do just that.  Time to do a little practicin' of what I've been preachin'....

So today?  I have a newfound joy in the events this week.  I splurged and got a mani/pedi.  I'm getting a spray tan and I had my hair did.  I will be wearing beautiful clothes specifically picked for me and I will have two of the best friends in the world there for ME.  I will meet new heros and inevitably be touched by bone-chilling inspiration.  I will be there early to sip mimosas and have my "hair and makeup did!"  For a few moments...I will strut my stuff, y'all.  

I think my mom would be so happy to see me on Thursday.  She would have been my biggest fan!
As always...I'm reminded what she used to say about anything that worried me...."Pray about it...and just put on some lipstick!"  I even wrote about that once....here.

You can bet...I won't be the prettiest.  I won't be the skinniest.  I may even stumble in those big ole shoes....But, rest assured.....I will be walking for my God.  For HE is always with me.  My God carried me through cancer...and all that entailed.  My God gave me Deb....who is STILL fighting for me...I still wonder how that lady got a ticket!  lol  My God gave me Kel....who never lets me down.  These girls are gonna have special jewels in their heavenly crowns for always being MY friend!  haha  There are others who are supporting me in spirit....and will no doubt lift me in prayer that day.
And...who knows??  For just a blip in time....I just might FEEL pretty. :)

I feel led to share the one and only picture I have of my "bald days"....a simple reminder of what cancer looks like....

It was during this time, that while I didn't feel "pretty"....I never felt more loved.

This Catwalk's for you, my Lord!  <3

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 4:6-7

In Him,
Terri