Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dear God and Momma...

Hey Mom. 

I find myself missing you tonight. Like REALLY missing you. 

Your deviled eggs.  And your banana pudding.  I did eat ham today instead of that was cool.  Like you. Made me think of you.   Can you believe though that I did NOT eat Mac & Cheese?  First Thanksgiving in 43 years. :). We were invited to spend the afternoon with some wonderful, dear friends.  Love and laughter filled their home and I just miss the days when you were here and our holidays were like that. 

A little different focus for us I guess this year.  Sambo had football practice.  I know you already know that, huh?  I remember how great you are at ringing a cowbell!  :). Yes. I'm THAT mom. And so proud of it.  Still, tomorrow is the semis.   Sam is playing his last time at the "Palace". I just can't seem to stop the tears. We never got around to talking about these milestones that I'm facing now and I'm not taking it so well. 

I've felt your presence every single game. I know how proud you are. 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.  I keep clinging to the one piece of advice that was in your last letter to me.  To raise my children in the company of Christian friends. 

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.


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. 

Milestones are hard.  I know I'm really not alone. 

By the way....ring that cowbell in Heaven, mom....I know he hears ya. 

Love you,

A Panther Thanksgiving

Spent the morning with my Panther Family.  Players, Family, and Friends. As they went through the food line, each person (well over 200) was asked to write something they were thankful for.  

A couple of the players were asked to speak what they were thankful for.  Of course we are all blessed with so much.  We live in a community where so many find strength in prayer.  As the team presented a letter jacket to a young man who recently lost his father to Cancer, after this child just shared with the group how grateful he was for his "Panther Family"....I held back tears as I thought to myself and even muttered aloud...."that's what it's all about...right there."

This is more than football.  If anyone doubts that....come sit by me.  I'll be happy to tell you the ways. 

Boys remember this...

A Christian competitor is a thankful competitor. Every time you step onto the field of competition, your heart is exploding with thankfulness, because you are abundantly grateful for God's blessings. You have a deep conviction that your gifts, talents and skills to play and to compete come from Him alone. You never take it for granted. Every stride, play, punt, pass, goal and point is a response to God's goodness. The way you compete is marked with a  "Thank you God," because you count all of God's blessings in your life. You always show gratitude.


You have been given much by the Lord, and you play with that mindset. You are simply grateful for the opportunity to compete. Your sweat is an offering of thanks to Him. There is no room for pride in a heart full of thankfulness. A thankful competitor is a humble competitor.


You don't try to impress others when you are thankful that God is making an impact through you. You don't care if you are starting when you are overwhelmed with gratitude at simply having a spot on the team. You don't put unrealistic expectations on your teammates' shoulders when you realize God's grace on your life. You don't care about the scoreboard when your definition of winning is becoming more like Jesus every time you compete.


You don't look at your opponent as your enemy when you are thankful that Jesus loved His enemies. You don't view competition as crushing your opponent when your view of competition is to play in such a way that you elevate all participants' involvement to a higher level of competition. You are not consumed with what others think of your play, when you are overcome that God is your Audience of One.


You don't demand attention when your attention is on others. You don't hide your weaknesses when you know that when you are weak, God is strong. You don't criticize teammates when you believe the best about them. You don't look at teammates as less than perfect  when you are thankful that God has wonderfully made them. You don't have to be #1 when you are already grateful for whatever place you receive. You don't have to play for others when you already feel God's pleasure when you compete.


You don't seek glory and recognition when your goal is to glorify the One who made you. You don't have to worry about making the team when you know God has selected you as His first pick. You don't have to impress your coach when you are competing with all your heart as for the Lord. You don't have to worry about your uniform when you are already wearing the jersey of Jesus Christ.


This Thanksgiving, be a thankful competitor! With a grateful heart, much can be accomplished. Let the power of thanksgiving change the way you compete. A Christian competitor is a thankful competitor.

I'm praying for many things as these boys take the field tomorrow.  Protection, safety, and love.  For the game.  For each other.  For Him. 

By the way, what did I write on my card? Grace.  I'm thankful for grace.  When we all receive what we don't always deserve. For where would we be without it? 

Happy Thanksgiving to you.  

To my Panther a Senior matter what happens tomorrow.... within the next few days, it's all over for my Sam.  I'm thankful for the memories and lasting friendships. I will never forget this season. God bless each of you. 

In Him,


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Little Things

Last night, a friend said last minute that she was going to drop something off.  I freeeeeakkked. Kinda like a couple of weeks ago when I had about 12 women come to my house unexpectedly to work on a Prayer Group project.  I have real house....and fake house.  When company is a-comin', I like to pretend like I've got it all together.  Notice I said "pretend."

Both times,  I looked at the floor, I saw spots.  I looked at the table....cluttered with "stuff".  Our hidden "catch all" room....which with glass french doors....wasn't so "hidden."  I looked at the bare pantry and remembered I had no snacks.  Not even a Little Debbie Cake to offer.

The bathroom, well, you would think there are five boys living here, instead of just one.

Little chores. Little things. They add up and can make me feel overwhelmed and a little "put upon". I sigh. I grumble. I grind my teeth. I resent the little chores I need to do, and I joke about the "Cleaning Fairy" never showing up.  I walk in, some days after working two jobs and instantly get "ticked," because the people I share life with can somehow actually RELAX in the chaos.

This afternoon, I had a shift of perspective. I realized I was not being faithful in the small things in my life and yet, in doing the small things I am serving a much greater purpose.


That can be seen as a dirty word. How many times have I thought (or said), "I am not your servant." to one of my kids? I'm not their servant, really. But sometimes, I get wrapped up in myself enough to forget that it is in doing these tasks and chores that I am being faithful in the small things, and that even the smallest tasks done with a joyful, loving heart are pleasing to God and that big, fancy tasks done with a bitter spirit are unpleasing to Him too.

Small things aren't just household tasks. It could be the spirit in which we hold open a door or let someone merge into traffic in front of us. If we do it grudgingly instead of joyfully, I think we miss out on something. Let me make that clear. We. Miss. Out. On. Something.

In Luke 16:10, Jesus says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little, can also be trusted with much." This does not mean that we should do things to receive more stuff, more blessings. Instead perhaps we can look at it like this, when we are faithful in the small things we are open and responsible to handle the bigger things. I also find that when my heart is right about the small things in life, I can better respond to the bigger things in life, good and bad. The converse is true as well. When my heart is bitter about the small things, I cannot see the bigger, better picture. My bitterness over the little things can blur the beautiful and bountiful things all around me.

I don't think we should sweat the small stuff. I do believe we need to see the value in the small stuff. Babies are little and they are the future. Diamonds are little (mostly ;) ) and they're a girl's best friend. Punctuation marks are little and just think about how much they can change meaning of a sentence. With faith as small as a mustard seed, (Luke 17:6), you could order a tree to uproot itself and it would.

I am going to re-focus my efforts to be more faithful in the small things and to appreciate the small things more too. I'm also working to grow in my in myself. I think that's an area that can always be nurtured to grow.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I've not heard if any of my family are getting together or not.   While I started out hurt by that, I remembered that I'm where I'm supposed to be tomorrow, and very few understand.  My Panther Family is getting together to pray, eat and fellowship together.  In love and support for our boys.  This is a big deal that will be made so successful by everyone doing just a "little" to make such a big difference.  Just an example of how it has been this whole year.  Whoever tried to get God out of our schools failed miserably in Benton, AR.  I will then spend the afternoon with wonderful friends.

God has me just where I need to be today.  And is guiding me to notice the little things.  For really...they ARE the big things.


In Him,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Today, I am Thankful

"Today I am thankful for..."

Yep...on that social media site that we all are glued to....that shall remain nameless....:)...We all have the wonderfully devoted "friends" who state what they are thankful for each day in November.  I'm lazy and forgetful, so I'm not one of them.  I remember once I started a "Picture a Day" with plans to do it the entire year.  Not sure I quite made it through January.  Ahhhhh..... the pressure.

In Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, she makes a practice of noting the little and mundane things that she is thankful for. Got me to thinking....How much in my life do I take for granted?

I know I do it and I am ashamed. I see the greener grass, the shinier car, the fatter bank accounts, the tidier home, the thinner, the more chic, and it is so very easy to forget all my blessings.

Funny thing, I never (or rarely, one should never say never ;) ) take for granted the washer and dryer in my garage. Once, my less than a year old front loader....when front loaders first came out and I was the ENVY of all my mom friends....broke down in the heart of the rainiest football season on the planet.  My son played Future Panther Football then (the local peewee league)...and was a mudpit at best.  It took exactly 47 days to get the right part and get it fixed.  47 DAYS!  I was bouncing to laundromats once or twice a week. And laundromats are scary, people.   Now, when we do at least two loads of laundry a day and I am grateful each time I do a load that I can do it in my own home. I have not forgotten what a gift doing laundry is.

I once heard an analogy....I think it was from my hero and "heaven on earth" walking ANGEL, Jen Hatmaker, that God's love is like a pile of warm laundry which we can relax into. This morning as I was pulling the soft, warm clothes out of the dryer I thought of that analogy, of how grateful I am to be able to do laundry for my family, how God's love shines through that small task of clean clothes and how great it is to be able to do it.

Sometimes I take my family for granted. When the bickering gets out of control, when I trip over the HUGE shoes in the floor from the 4 size 10 feet that somehow I gave birth to, when all I want is a few minutes to think in peace...I forget that it is a miracle that brought them to me. God chose ME to mother and raise and nurture these two creatures....and it's so fun!

Today, though as I pulled my son's shirt from the dryer and thought of Jen's analogy, I remembered....

Today I am thankful for warm and cozy, clean and miraculous. Today I am thankful for reminders to be thankful and grateful to live life in the warmth of God's love.

In Him,

Dear P.A.N.T.H.E.R.S...Take 2

Dear Panthers.....

I've been thinking all weekend about what I'd  to say to each of you....if I had the opportunity.  Could I find something profound?  Or encouraging?  Or motivating?  Would you listen?  Would you care? You all are 16-18 year old boys.  I'm just a mom.  Uncool.  Sappy.  Pretty much irrelevant in the whole scheme of things. I know.  And I understand.  I get it.  And I'm not offended in the least.  :)  I know one day you will be grown and look back on this experience.....and feel what I'm feeling for you today.

Proud.  Incredibly Proud.

I know you have had a wonderful team of leaders guiding you this season.  So this is just a pipe-dream of sorts...Getting to say these words to you.  I DO get the opportunity to talk to one of you.... Poor Sam.  :)  He listens in exchange for gas money.  haha.  Anyway, all weekend I've had this team on my mind.  During a few lazy moments, we watched an old DVR'd movie that is by far a family favorite.  I'm sure each of you have seen it.  IF you haven't?  Watch it.  Like now.  Today. Hands down, no second thoughts, this movie should have won an Academy Award. It is probably the best movie I have ever seen and the story behind its production is incredible. We have watched it again….. and again...and again.

During several scenes, I would have given my right arm for each of you to be sitting beside me to hear.  So.....I recorded and searched for some of my favorites scenes to share here.  

Facing the Giants.  In essence, its lesson is that "With God, all things are possible."  This is the story about a Christian high school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure. In six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never led his Shiloh Eagles to a winning season. Devastated by his circumstances, he cries out to God in desperation. When Grant receives a message from an unexpected visitor, he searches for a stronger purpose for his football team. He dares to challenge his players to believe in God for the impossible on and off the field. Facing the Giants is a powerful experience for the whole family inspiring viewers to live with faith, hope, and love.

There is no way to describe the power in these scenes....and the truth behind them.  So here is my PANTHER Spin on it....:)  (Note:  You may have to click on the link below each scene.  Sometimes the videos cause me "technical difficulties"  :) )

P - Prepare your fields.  Prepare for "rain."

Mr. Bridges feels led by the Lord to tell Coach Taylor that God wants him to stay put in his position and prepare his fields for rain. To "bloom where you are planted."  Wow, you all have definitely started to do that.  When it was easy for so many to quit.  To walk away.  You didn't.  You stuck it out.  Never gave up.  You have bloomed. life...there comes a time when our fear and our faith collide.  Like Friday night.....Your coaches have prepared you.  You know what to do....."Prepare for Rain."  Boys....Prepare for Rain.

A - Accept the Challenge.  What is the purpose of this team??

Coach Taylor has had a personal spiritual epiphany. He has decided to put God first by giving God his very best as he rebuilds his own life. He challenges the team to do the same.  We win.  We Praise Him.  We Lose.  We Praise Him.  We praise God because He’s worthy not just when He’s blessing us.

Most important thing God wants is for you to love Him will all your might and your neighbor as yourself.  Not just on the football field.  But everywhere.  "I want God to bless this team so much that people talk about what He did...."
Hmmmmm.....What do ya think, Panthers?  Will you join me?

N - New Focus

This team has shown that when you began playing for something bigger than yourselves....As a team....For your School....For your Community....For each other....For HIM....Look how far you can go?  Think back over the season.  Stone's "millionth" interception in the end zone for a 100 yard TD to save the game.  Brandon's blocked punt and Ben's TD.  Cason to the Drews.  Cason to Casey.  Cason to Sam.  Chase...Julius (our bulldozers in the backfield!), Grant's Field goal heard AROUND the world...and who can forget the heart and passion of the PDC... all. year. long.  These are just to name a few.  All the way back to the Salt Bowl.  God's favor has been on your hard work.  Your determination.  Your heart. Miracle after miracle...Right before our very eyes.

When you focus on God, and His plan for will NOT fail.  Don't worry about your opponent.  Worry about you.

T - The Death Crawl

"Your attitude is like the aroma of your heart." I love this. You must lead by example. Give your best effort and leave the results up to God. Coach Taylor challenges one of the team’s leaders, Brock, to give his very best at the Death Crawl to inspire his team. Are you a leader? Moreso...are you an EFFECTIVE leader? Do you LEAD by example?

Are your words and actions pleasing to Him? From your thoughts......from your mouth....on social media.....your tweets....your "yik yaks"....all of it. Are they honorable? Someone is always watching you. Are you honoring Him??

Can you protect your brother? Can you carry him 100 yards...ON YOUR BACK....if you have to? 

Yes. I believe you can. I believe in you.

H - Honor your Authority

Important enough to be one of 10 Commandments. Honor your Parents. Honor your Coaches. Respecting Authority is a show of Godly discipline. We may not always agree or enjoy the leadership of others. But we are to respect it. This applies to all of life.

E - Execute your "STONE WALL"....

There are no better words, than this Nehemiah story.  To, YOU....PDC.  Build your Stone Wall.  I have no doubt.  It. Will. Stand. 

R - Results up to HIM!

Again, the most important lesson in this...and all of that if you give your absolute best and leave the results up to HIM....You will not fail.  The words "Do not fear" are used 365 times in the Bible.  If you think about it....that is for every day of the year.  Matthew 14:26 tells us that With God...ALL things are possible. 

Remember:  "You won the BIG ONE...when you accepted Christ..."

Never forget God has blessed this team thus far.  Do not fear.

S - Savor These Moments. 

Use this as a milestone for the rest of your lives...With God, ALL things are possible.  Record these moments in your mind.  Never forget the feelings you have and the lessons you have learned.  KNOW your blessings as you take them with you.

In 1 Samuel 17:8-11, Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

God created us to be overcomers, and the greatest enemy we often have is ourselves. Through God, all things are possible for those who believe in Him. We all have giants in our life, but the positive message of the Bible tells us that we can overcome the giants in our life and it begins when we determine that the purpose of our life is to glorify God.

Think about the giants in your life. Either you have faced a giant or are facing a giant or will face a giant, or a combination of all of the above. When David focused on God, giants tumbled. But when David focused on giants…he stumbled.  Let me say that again:

"When David focused on God, giants tumbled. But when David focused on giants…he stumbled."

Goliaths still roam in our world. debt. disaster. dialysis. divorce. deceit. disease. depression. These super-sized challenges swagger and strut into our lives, pilfering our sleep, embezzling our peace and robbing us of our joy. And while these giants try to dominate our lives, we know what to do! We’ve learned what David learned, and we do what David did. We become God focused. We pick up five stones. We make five decisions. And we take a swing.

Panthers, I am so proud of you.  Just like in the movie....Nobody thought we would be here game away from the Championship.  Believe it or not...there are STILL doubters out there...."Giants" in your eyes.  There is a field full of "Wildcats"....coming after you on Friday.  And just like earlier in the season...when we played them...and the Zebras....And the Wolves....arguably bigger and faster teams, we showed that "heart" is the miracle that brought us this far.

Also remember, dear ones, that you have also gained the support of so many.  All eyes are on you.  Make it count.

My Advice to you:

P -  Prepare your fields.  Prepare for Rain!
A - Accept YOUR purpose for this team.
N - New Focus this week.  Focus on HIM....not them. 
T - The Death Crawl....Lead...Carry...Love.
H - Honor your Authority.
E - Execute your "Stone Wall."   It will Stand.
R - Results.  Do your best.  Leave the Results up to God.
S - Savor every moment, boys.  Every moment.

Here's YOUR story.  Never Forget! Remember me....for centuries!!!

Now...Let's go pick a fight with some Wildcats, boys!  :)

Go Panthers!
1 Team....1 Heartbeat.
May God's richest blessings fall on each and every one of you.

In Him,
Ms. Terri

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mirror Mirror

I am not the fairest of them all. I don't need a mirror to tell me that or to tell me who is. I am not the smartest, most fashionable or wittiest. I am not sure I am the most "anything". I'm not pretty by the world's standards.  Sometimes I'm not very pretty inside either.  We all have "those days".....

A few months ago at dance tryouts, I said to Syd how I wished she could see herself the way I see her.  So many times I want her to see what I see.  And my thoughts drifted to the suggestion that we would all benefit from seeing ourselves through other's eyes. I don't know how other people view me and I bet there are a lot of opinions about me that I don't want or need to know.  In fact, I'm sure of it.  But, it is none of my business, as I've said before, what people think of me. However, there are times when seeing ourselves through another's eyes could be beneficial. Hmmmmm....Points to ponder....

What if we could see ourselves through another person's eyes; not their opinions or judgments, but ourselves, our good and bad, the things we do well, and the things that are not so great, the gifts we don't recognize and the flaws we are unaware of? What if I could say, "Mirror, Mirror....on the wall...?" Would I listen with an open heart and mind and grow in humility and confidence or would I bring poisoned apples to those who were better or break the mirror? Would I give equal credence to the positives and the negatives? I tend to shrink the positives until they are microscopic and I inflate the negatives to the size of a hot air balloon. Uggggg....I just kinda want people to like me. I'm weird like that.

I miss my mom so much that it hurts.  After 12 years of not having a single solitary soul on earth that loves me in a way only a "mother" can....I ache for her.  I miss the one person on this earth who loved me...."anyway."  Losing her has given me a tangible reason to reach to Him. What if the mirror I looked in was one of God's grace? What if instead of seeing myself through a mirror of human reality, I was able to look at myself as forgiven, saved, precious and valuable because I was created by God for a purpose? Better yet, what if when I was looking at others, I looked at them through that lens of God's grace instead of my opinions, judgments, irritations and yes, crankiness? Better yet....what if we ALL did that?

I've witnessed some toxic attitudes recently....and how negativity can spread like a wildfire.  Wish that "mirror" that I speak of was one that was on the wall in every home.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, help me to see a world of beauty God created, not the imperfections that sin emphasizes. Help others to do the same.   Lord, help us to see the truth and not be deceived by fun house mirror reflections. 

In Him,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dear Panthers...

Dear Panthers…

Think back to your first time to suit up as a Panther.  Back to the first weight room practice.  Back to Team Camp.  Back to the Salt Bowl. Seniors....go back to your freshman year, when you won 3 ballgames.  Even to the night you competed and won the Conference Championship in the final seconds.  You have overcome such adversity.  You didn't quit.  You didn't give up.  You were a proud panther before the scoreboard always showed victory.  Funny....that is the real victory in itself.  That YOU NEVER GAVE UP.  Just look what faith can do.  What an opportunity and precious memories you have!  Its an opportunity that few have….and this year…the BENTON PANTHERS have it. YOU have it. 

You have it because you have been working so hard.  You have it because you have been playing as a TEAM.  As a family.  You have it because you have been playing for something bigger than yourselves.  And it shows.  You have exhibited such strength, and courage, and faith….Faith in your brothers.  Faith in your team.  Faith in your courage.  Faith in yourself.  And Faith in our Heavenly Father.

I know that it may have crossed your mind…at some point…”What if we actually win this thing?”   or “This could be our year!” You’ve listened to “nay sayers” all your lives.  Let me tell you, young men, YOU have made a difference.  Nobody doubts the Panthers.  Not anymore.

Only you can control your pride and how you compete. REFUSE to let any other team or player perform better than you will. Stay humble.  Play for your Seniors.  Play for your Coaches.  Play for your School, Play for our town. Play for each other.  Play for your parents and family, who have followed you and nurtured you and loved you. Play for the elementary kids back home whom you've never even met, but know who you are and where you play. Play for the ones you ate lunch with this year, who cheer for you on Friday nights, who can't wait to be YOU someday.  Play for your family and your friends. Finally, play for yourself. Pride in yourself means that, win or lose, you worked and competed as hard as you possibly could until the schedule provided no more games to play.

Remember, above all else….No matter what the scoreboard shows in the end.  Whether or not, you "win the last game"...You are a winner.  All glory goes to HIM….always.

When you come back to Benton in 10 or 20 years for an alumni visit, inevitably you'll represent this team. You can say with pride, I played for the undefeated State Championship, Benton Panthers???  You’re almost there, guys.  Almost there.  I've heard so many guys who graduated a year, five years, or 20 years ago say, 'Man, I wish I could just get one more game. Even just one snap! Cherish every second.

It is nearing the time, when you will strap on your helmets and pads for the last time.  Seniors, the last time ever.  The rest of you...the last time with this special team.  Leave your mark.  Leave your legacy.  Make sure they never forget. Leave it all on the field.  Every ounce.

Effort is between you and you. It can be faked. But why fake it? Let's make these next few playoff games the most memorable you can. That starts right now. This week.  Friday night.  You earned the right to play at home.  At our house.  At YOUR house.   Look to your brother on the right and to the left.  Together, you can do it! Can’t wait to watch you at War Memorial….and line up next year to get your rings. J

I couldn’t have hand-picked a better team for my Sam.  Coaches, I thank you.  Fellow Panther Parents, I thank you.  Panthers....thank you.  It has truly been a joy to watch each of you over the years, and of course, this season.

We have prayed for each of you by name….each week.  Week after week, we have prayed for you.  Each and every single one of you by name.  God has walked beside you...with his hand upon you.  He has had HIS favor on you, my sweet Panthers.  With God, NOTHING is impossible!  

Our prayer for you this week:

"Lord, help them to  compete for You alone. Be it a victory or a loss, that they play for You.  That every time they compete, they stand for the cross. That their love for the game is evidence of their love for You. That they play for You, Lord, when they put on the uniform, lace up the shoes and walk out of the locker room. They declare their loyalty to You!
That their drive comes from the Holy Spirit. Through the pain and through the cheers, they will not give in or give up. That their passion for competition comes from above. They sweat for the One who made them. The champion inside of them is Jesus. That their only goal is to glorify the name of Christ. To win is to honor Him.
We pray they  feel Your delight when they compete. All of their abilities are from You, Jesus. That their heart yearns for Your applause. They are  under Your authority. We give them to You, Lord. That they will respect and honor their teammates, coaches and opponents. Help them to play by the rules. Guide them to submit to You as their Ultimate Coach.
Let them be Your warriors in the heat of battle. Keep them humble in victory and gracious in defeat. That they serve those on their team and those they compete against. Let their words inspire and motivate. Help them to utter what You desire. Help them to remember that their  body is Your temple; nothing enters it that is not honoring to You. That they  train to bring You glory. Their sweat is an offering to You, our heavenly Master.
We wear Your jersey, Lord. Victory does not lie in winning but in becoming more like You. There is no greater victory. Protect their bodies and their hearts Lord.   In Your name, We pray. Amen."

Protect your Family, boys.  Protect your House.  Go get 'em!  :)
Sam’s Mom

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cancer Kiddo

This was an essay written by my 15-year-old Sydney Clare for a class at school.  She doesn't know I'm choosing to post it.  And most likely will kill me dead.  I'm only seeing it because she asked me to print something from her flash drive.   Very seldom do we talk about "the cancer" terms of what all we went through as a family.  I think its important to share her words....while the facts may be a little off, with doctor's names and chronologically speaking...THIS is how SHE remembers it.  Cancer affects FAMILIES....not just its victims.  From the words of a "Cancer Kiddo..."

Sydney Baker
Block 3
Momma HAD Cancer
    It was all blur—was I having a dream, or was it all real… I was so lost in my emotions that nothing was setting in.
There I was shuffled in the mix of people who were filled will happiness and comfort, standing in fear. I heard the crowd cheering, the announcer pointed out, “next up to bat, our center-fielder, Sam Baker”, the sound of bats coming in contact with the ball, etc. While smelling everything you could think of at the baseball field… fresh cut grass, red clay dirt, popcorn, hot dogs and everything else that was in my presence. I had never experienced this feeling and all I remember is that I never ever want to feel that way again…. Instantly, I felt my world turn upside down and crumble before my eyes.
In that moment, I almost wanted to run away and hide and pretend this never ever happened. I just wanted to know why it happened to me… why my mom, why my family? This sudden fear sent my body into overdrive, I could not speak, could not eat, could not cry, I felt as if I could not do anything. Absolutely nothing, nothing at all. I had endless thoughts racing through my head and they were taking over my emotions completely. They kept coming and never stopped.… How much time does she have left? What if she does not make it? How are we going to live like this?
    Earlier that day while Sam, my older brother, and I was at school, she had gone to get a mammogram at Baptist Health in Little Rock, with Doctor Hagan. We had been told by countless others that he was the best around. Meanwhile, throughout that day all I could think about was this doctor’s appointment and how the results were going to turn out. I wanted to know immediately. Since her appointment was not until mid-afternoon, I went home with a friend and we went to the baseball game where my mother was going to meet us afterwards. I knew she was nervous because of our outstanding four generation family history, and that didn’t help my emotions at all.
I was at the baseball game watching my brother, like any other normal day, and I was just waiting for my mother to get there, too. She had just left the doctor so I called to see where she was, and I instantly noticed that there was either really bad news or really good news by the shakiness of her voice. I did not have the guts nor the strength to ask her over the phone what was actually wrong, I had a very positive feeling that it was not anything I wanted to hear. As soon as she got there she told me the results, they were not good at all, and in that moment my life was completely changed… forever.
    When she walked in, all of her friends knew there was something wrong so she began to explain the diagnosis to everybody and they were all very shocked. I remember hearing my mom cry as she continued to talk to her friends, and after hearing it so many times it began to bother me emotionally, so I asked my mom to please stop talking about it. That was the same day that my mother began writing all her blogs titled, “Momma HAS Cancer.” To this day she still writes blogs about her journey and I have read every single one of them, and most of them now are just about life in general. Because my brother and I had to stay strong for my mother’s sake, we never talked about her cancer. They only way it was mentioned were through a blog, where everyone could read it. It was our way of coping with the pain and sorrow of this journey. She began writing her first blog the night she found out, after the baseball game… and before she posted it she called my brother and I into her bedroom she sighed, “I’m about to tell you everything and I don’t want you to worry because I promise…everything will be okay. God will take care of us.”
She then explained the entire diagnosis to us and told us her “course of action” for treating this rare type of cancer. She was diagnosed with triple negative-stage two A breast cancer in April of 2012. She elected to have a double mastectomy even though her lymph nodes were cancer-free. Her oncologist then wanted her to undergo eight rounds of chemotherapy. Four of which were of adriocytoxin, also known as the “red devil”, and the other four were of taxol. As broken as I felt in that moment, not once did I ever cry in front my mother because like every parent, they hate to see their child hurt so I did not want her to feel guilty for this, because in no way was it her fault. The next day after she told us, we were going to meet with the oncologist for her first treatment—we were sitting in the empty, sterile, and cold waiting room when we were called back.
    Since chemotherapy kills both the red and white blood cells, you are essentially unable to do anything because you are too sick. White blood cells function to fight off the bacteria that would attack your immune system, so you become very sick while undergoing continuous treatments. In saying that, because my mother had eight long rounds of chemotherapy, that were every other week, she had to go every other week between the treatments to make sure her white cell count was high enough to continue with the next treatment on time. In order for her to be able to receive the next treatment she had to have .6 percent of white blood cells in her so she would not be too sick, and if she didn’t have that she would get a neupogen shot which would boost that so she could get the chemotherapy treatment. Because she had eight treatments every other week and she had to skip twice, she finished chemotherapy in five months and did not have to go through radiation because her lymph nodes were cancer-free. After two major surgeries, three minor surgeries, and eight complete rounds of chemotherapy, my mom was announced CANCER-FREE in September of 2013, on salt bowl day, one of the biggest days of the year for our family.
    Ever since the moment I found out that my own mom had cancer, I had not felt happy… for a year and a half I felt scared and nervous about how the next day was going to be, so when I heard those words, “TERRI, YOU ARE NOW CANCER FREE,”  I felt completely full of happiness again. It was one of the most unforgettable moments of my life— the nervousness was gone, the joy was back and felt better than ever. I immediately felt like a huge burden was lifted off of my shoulders and I could finally relax and not have to worry. God is good.
I'm so proud of her ability to express her words that she couldn't say at the time. Every once in a while, my mind is forced to "go there" say "what if." Especially when tragedy strikes close to ya. Or when its near an "oncology checkup time."  Or when you hear of it attacking another person just like me. I've been both the patient....and the daughter. I'd take the "patient" job any. day. of. the. week.  It breaks my heart that my CHILD knows words like "Mastectomy" and "Neupogen" and "Adriacytoxin."  Please take a moment and pray for the "Cancer Kiddos"..... Because in the words of my sweet Syd...."God is good." 
Life is normal again.  Well, a new normal.  Laughter and memories. God, how I love that child!
In Him,


Thursday, November 13, 2014

To you...Moms

Dear Panther Moms,

As we enter the playoff season of my son's Senior year, I have a few things I want to say to each of you. I would like to honestly say these things...."before emotions take over"....but that isn't entirely true.  I've had that proverbial knot in my throat for quite some time.

I've known most of you for years. Sat next to you at ballgames or church.  Some of you are my in my closest circle, and others I've met as recently as last week.  I have watched, and cheered on your children for years....and you, mine.  Funny how we migrate to each other through our children.

On Sept 2, 2014, the Tuesday before the Salt Bowl....we began.  Just threw it out there on a FB page and a couple of texts.  And this little group was formed.  The coaches allowed us to enter "their space".....and come together for no other reason...than to pray.  We aren't pastors, or missionaries, or clergy....just a group of moms who are friends coming together to pray for our children.

What started in a group text of 3 or 4, is now 88 members strong on facebook, and new members are added daily.  We have about 10 (give or take) who are faithful in attendance each and every week, without fail.   We come, stand in the same spot in the center of the locker room each and every game literally, the SAME spot (right Pam?  hehe), almost like old folks and their pew at church.
As we stand in that circle, rosters in hand and call out each player by name, it is at those moments that I literally feel the "strength" of a praying mom. Those who cannot be physically present, are praying at 7 am with us....wherever they may be.  We know this!  It has been by far the most incredible group of ladies I've ever been a part of.  To know that we can come together at halftime or right there in the stands and join hands and go to our Father in such an honor.

I cherish the new friends I've made.  Those whose path I may have never crossed.  Who I now have this special bond with that I'll take with me forever.  I cherish the deeper relationships that I've been blessed with....with those who have been fellow "ball and dance moms" for years, but now have been strengthened during these stolen moments in prayer.  Where there used to be a division, of now a togetherness.

From the very beginning, you said yes.  For every idea, you said yes.  For every need, you said yes.

This season has brought with it an abundance of memories for our Panther family, and for me.  Among my favorites are these moments with each of you.  We have shared tears and joys and worries and victories.  We have supported one another and shared and grown in the common bond of simply loving our children.  For that, I say thank you.

As I walk through the room each week, and touch every helmet, I can't help but see how blessed I am to have to walk around mothers kneeling in front of their son's locker in prayer, to have to walk around moms walking through and doing the same -- praying for each and every one.  To fight for a pen each week, to leave notes of encouragement.  To know that they are lifted into His arms for safety, sportsmanship, and honor.  This has to be the "black belt" of motherhood.  To know....these ladies are praying for my son.  And your son.  And your son.  And your daughter.  And your children's coaches.  That, my friends, is the good stuff.

Look at what we/YOU have done this year!  :)

We asked HIM to enter here....
"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."  Matthew 18:20

The Roster.  Week after week -- you prayed for these
(And cheer....And pepsteppers!)
I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27
Salt Bowl Prayer
A Saline County tradition, Lord…
Where each one picks a side…
Will it be Maroon or will it be Blue,
That you will choose with pride?

The players using their talents and gifts….
Each handpicked for them by You.
Protect their bodies AND their hearts, Lord…
As they do what they are taught to do!

The Coaches guiding and molding them
Turning young boys into men…
Teaching them that no matter what the scoreboard shows…
In the end, lies a WIN.

The referees and their whistles….
Hold them tight as they guide a fair game.
Give them honor, wisdom, and pride….
Because within it, really has no fame.

The Band gives us music….
And leads everyone of Your children in spirit.
They, too, showcase Your glorious gifts…
Where would this game be without it??

The Cheerleaders are leading us….
In cheers, chants and smiles!
Each loving their team and school,
Across each and every mile.

Two dance teams will take the halftime show…
Kicking, leaping, and most likely a prance…
For they, TOO, my precious Lord…
Are Praising YOUR name in the Dance.

Moms are praying….Dads are pacing…
And fans are cheering loud.
For no matter what color they are wearing,
NOone is more proud.

Some are there Lord…just for fun…
And haven’t thought of the outcome in sight.
Bless them too Lord, For those, we all know….
Do not have a “dog in the fight.” :)

Some are born with Panther love
While others bleed Hornet blue….
One thing we all have in common, Lord…
Is we all strive to honor YOU.

No matter what the scoreboard shows….
At the end of this Crazy game.
Two Teams…One Dream…
We know within YOU, lies our flame.

-T. Baker

Oct 3 - Homecoming game....:)
Every player, cheerleader, dancer, and member of the court received our note of prayer! :)

We said a prayer for you today
And know God must have heard.
We felt the answer in our hearts
Although He spoke no word!

We didn't ask for wealth or fame
(We knew you wouldn't mind).
We asked him to send treasures
Of a far more lasting kind!

We asked that He be near you
At the start of each new day;
To grant you health and blessings
And friends to share your way!

We asked for happiness for you
In all things great and small.
But it was for His loving care
We prayed the most of all!
I can do ALL things through Christ, Who gives me strength..."  Philippians 4:13


October 10 - Sheridan Game
God, may You use this field to show these young men and coaches discipline and Godly principals.  May you use this game to illustrate how to tackle sin “head on.”  To crush the enemy that tries to take up ground in their territory.  We pray, God, that they handle the football like it contains your truths inside.  May they never drop it, let others take it away from them, but protect it and carry it around with them always.  May they learn to protect each other, block for one another, and help each other up.  Whenever life is hard for one of them, let them know its not too hard for all of them to come together in Your name and unite to protect their house.  God let them find the courage to oppress on when tired, when weary to fight the good fight, and reach for the prize that awaits them.  If it is Your plan, let them learn the lessons from defeat quickly, to recover from a blow right then and to adjust to stop defeat in its tracks.  Lord, let them also learn from these abundant wins.  Let them taste the fruits of their labors, but also show them winning also has its lessons and improvements can always be made.  Show them how to give YOU the glory, God!  Whether in winning or losing, show them how to have grateful hearts and to bring everything before You, Lord…both the good and the bad.  Help our Panthers to listen and obey their coaches, especially You, Lord, their ultimate Coach.  Keep both our team and our opponents safe and free from injury.  Give them the courage to pass the good news to others and to receive your unfailing love and grace.  Please be with the fans, the spirit teams, the band and all involved on this field tonight.  Thank you, God, for being the Benton Panthers’ #1 Fan.    These things we pray in YOUR name.  Amen


Oct 17 - Texarkana Game
"Build me a Panther"....
Build me a PANTHER, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; 

One who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a PANTHER, whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a PANTHER who will know Thee, and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a PANTHER whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a PANTHER who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Then, I, his MOTHER, will dare to whisper, have not lived in vain.
May he remember, my PANTHER, that it’s not his performance that captures Your attention.  It’s his complete dependence on YOU, that you notice.


Sheridan - "Soggy Halftime Show" - Jim Gardner/Grant Merrill allowed us to invade the pressbox for the Breast Cancer Awareness "pink out" game and to tell everyone about our ministry on the broadcast.  So blessed that they are such supporters of our little group!  


October 17 -- Praying moms over the Pepsteppers at the Bryant Invitational Dance Competition.


October 27 - Saline County Citizens of the Day!  :)


We have a banner!  We had a need, and Jim Gardner (And Northside Church of Christ) provided!  :)

October 31 - Senior Night (front)

There's nothing quite like a small southern town..
When family and friends all gather around.
Shouting and cheering and clapping their hands --
Music and cowbells and joy fill the stands.

Tonight we as Panthers.... will walk in side by side.
One Team, One Heartbeat, One Family abide.
A brother on my left and one on my right.
You bet I'll protect him with my heart, soul, and might.

We learned as young boys how to give and take a hit
It’s all a part of the game, you see……that Friday night grit.
We learned Trust, Character, Commitment, and Panther Pride, too
For the WEAK GET EATEN from the Panther Demolition Crew!

Because of this game, our hearts know true love…
For Our brothers, our Coaches, and our Heavenly Father above.
They have led us and taught us, turned us boys into men.
We are playing tonight, knowing what is REALLY a "win."

Our last night as Seniors, but forever Panthers stand tall....
We'll always be remembered as our Moms' "Boys of Fall."
We hope and we pray they'll never forget this dream team,
Our legacy, our faith - We're the "Class of '15!”

Panthers forever...even when the last whistle blows.
It's a memory, a blessing, a feeling we all know.
So tonight as we walk through that tunnel to fight....
Never EVER forget, boys....these "Senior Night Lights."
                                                                                                       - t. baker

(Senior Night) Back
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13


Our "M&M Prayer" -- given to all team members and to the little ones at the "Trunk or Treat" Tailgate!  :)  We asked for M&Ms....and LORD, we produced the M&Ms!  Thank you!

Each color tells the PANTHER story, one you may or may not know…
It’s happened here in Benton, not too long ago.

Green is for helping us grow….a little stronger every day.
Blue is for reaching to Heaven….and for Him to guide our way.
Orange shows our enthusiasm….for each and every play.
Yellow is for accepting God’s grace….even when we lose our way.
Brown is for our humility….in actions and what we say.
Red is for teaching us why Jesus died….and straight to Him we pray.

As you hold these candies in your hand and turn them you will see….
The  “M” becomes a “W,” a “3” and then an “E.”

“M” is for MAROON, which shows our Panther Pride…..
For our Marvelous Panther Family, and Christ who led the ride.

“E” is for the Excellence – And tonight we celebrate….
Our hard work and faithful hearts….on the turf beneath our feet.

The “3” is for our Panther team….led by God, family, and friends….
One team, One Heartbeat, One family….fills the Panther Stands.

“W” of course is “WHO” we are and “WHO” we have become.
Winners on AND off the field… the eyes of God, Dads, and Moms.

So, as you eat these candies, and enjoy this Panther treat;
Remember the true meaning of Panther Pride, and God’s gift to us so sweet. 
                                                                                         - t.baker


November 7 - Pine Bluff "Conference Championship" Game.  We organized and distributed well over 1200 pieces of "mail"....letters and notes of encouragement for every player, cheerleader and dancer.  This was an overwhelming feat and we did it!  Again, you said yes.  You answered the call.  I've been told of the touching words, tears of joy, and wealth of emotion and support this project provided to our boys....who defeated Pine Bluff that very evening for the Conference Championship.

This is one of many....and what it's all about friends!  :) 


This isn't everyone, of course....:)

Here we are....where we have to win the game to stay keep playing.....just know this.  I love you.  Each and every one of you.  For coming to prayer each week to intercede on behalf our our children.  Not to try to influence God, but to change the nature of OUR hearts so that we can be a source of strength for this program God has placed us in.

To quote a BHS Student in a message earlier this season:

"Ms. Terri, I was scrolling through Facebook just now and came across y'all's Panther Mom Ministry page. I read most of the posts and saw some of the pictures and it absolutely made my heart SO happy. I wanted to thank you. For everything you've lead and done for our boys. that ministry is the best thing I have ever seen. thank y'all so much for praying for our sweet boys every game day and most likely more often than that. I pray for them on the bus to every game and as I'm walking out onto the field at home games, knowing He will hear me. To know that I'm not the only one doing it is such a blessing. I have gained so much love and respect for you in these past couple of years and that keeps on growing. See you Friday "

Thank you for filling gaps, and seeing needs where sometimes alone we would fall short.  Most of all thank you for your loving kindness.  For seeing the strength in numbers and for believing that together we can make a difference.  This letter/post isn't for "pats on the back" or accolades for all the goodness we have accomplished.  This group has never been about that.  But I want you to know what YOU have done.  I want us to grow.  I want to do this again next year...and the year after that.

Let us never forget to pray.  God lives.  He is near.  He is real.  He is not only aware of us but cares for us.  He is our Father.  He is accessible to all who will seek Him.

As the football season nears the end ....we are not done.  Our prayers will continue, this I know.  May God's richest blessings fall upon you all....forever.  As life takes us different places and into different seasons, I will never forget these moments with you.

In Him... Our hope was built!
Love and Blessings,