Sunday, April 23, 2017

Five years....I did it!!!

Five years ago, today my life was forever changed. Triple Negative Breast Cancer became words that described me. ME. 

If you have followed my journey, which began on this day, five years is no secret to you what a milestone this is for me. I can say.... with authority....with conviction....and certainty... that I kicked cancer's booty!! I can "laugh without fear" of my future. 

Since that time, I've been able to realize and recognize all of His miracles around me...both large and small. How He sets things in motion for you? Or completely puts a halt to something that is not HIS plan. Or HIS timing. I see now how He works in my life. And in the lives of those around me. Oh, what a beautiful life we lead!!!!

Happiness is everywhere. It is in Him, and what you make of the life He has given you. It is not found in others. It is found in Him....and who HE places in your path. I've learned to "be still". 

Upon reflection, I feel like I am a completely different person now than I was then. So much so that I wanted turn back time to write a letter to myself to prepare me for April 23, 2012.

April 22, 2012

Dear Terri,

Tomorrow you will be diagnosed with breast cancer. You will head into your first physical in years because....YAY! you finally have health insurance. After an exam, you are gonna turn around twice and you'll be wiping off your deodorant for a mammo. Dr. H will then say the dreaded words, "I've got nothin good to tell ya....You have breast cancer." You then will hear little else and you’ll nod along because, well, they don’t think you know a darn thing about cancer.

Oh, sweet naive Terri, you just have no idea what the next year will have in store for you. There will be more physical pain involved than you’ve ever had to deal with in your life, and you will be stripped down emotionally to a depth that you’ve never experienced before and would never want to experience again. You will feel vulnerable, and attacked, and carry a sadness that you’ve never known before. You will lay awake at night and tears will stream uncontrollably down your face as you plead with God to let you stay with your babies for as long as possible. You will progress through surgeries, biopsies, tests, scans and chemo and it will feel like getting pushed off a cliff.

You are going to feel that everything beautiful about you is stripped within a matter of days. You will have a bald head and a 12-year old chest....and the worst part? You won't care. You will take it personally, anytime you hear of someone around you with a new diagnosis. You will wanna kick cancer right in the teeth. Because, let me tell suuuuucccckssss.

After treatments are over, and the hair grows back, and you gain tons of weight (Yes....I realize you just lost 40 enjoy it while it lasts. You will be the only person on the planet to blow up from chemo!!) and time passes....people will forget. You will suffer loneliness and fear and sadness. You will find yourself living for each doctor appointment, because after pay him to talk about cancer. You are naive, and stupid, and you just don’t get it. Some days will seem like just a whirlwind and you’re doing your best to keep up. Some days will go so slowly and you will feel so isolated and alone, no matter who may be in the room with you. You will, with every passing holiday and birthday, sit and wonder if you will be around to see the next one. You will even wonder why YOU are chosen to survive, yet others succumbed to the illness. You’ll be so tired and in pain some days that you don’t even want to get out of bed.

But you do.

Oh..yes, dear one, you do. 

You will find that this gut-wrenching experience will hold more blessings than you ever thought possible. You will, for the first time in your life, have to fully rely on God for everything. And He will be faithful. Every time. You will feel more loved and supported by your friends and family and church and neighbors and even some people that you don’t know, but who are burdened for you and care about you. You will want for nothing and in allowing yourself to be stripped to the bone emotionally, you will experience God’s presence so closely that you will spend your days striving for more and more of Him. Many things will begin to make sense, and many pieces of the puzzle will come together, and you will grow in your faith more than you ever imagined possible.

You will feel broken and whole. You will feel uneasy and fulfilled. You will learn to break the cycle of trying to control your own faith and God will break through and reveal things to you that you don’t feel you deserve to know. You’ll realize that you have no strength to fight this on your own, but that God himself will sustain you each and every day and that He will nudge His people to take care of you on so many levels. Your relationships will be strengthened beyond what you thought possible and you’ll realize that it isn’t just your fight, it’s everyone who loves you’s fight too. You will make so many new friends and you will reconnect with old friends, it’s really pretty awesome.

You will begin to write. And write. And write. This is where your therapy will lie. In your words. Careful, though. Some will call you inspirational. Others may use it against you. Don't let Satan in!!!! You will fall on your face before God. And beg Him in. And He answers. And carries you. And holds you close.

Great things will happen! Your kiddos will prove that they can face adversity and fears that most kids their age will never have to.....and with grace. Sam will thrive during his last years of high school, his teams will succeed and he will just fall in love with LIFE! Your Sydney Clare will continue being a light and do what she Both will be a beacon for Christ and make you so incredibly proud. You will get to witness their dreams coming by one by one. Girl, they are gonna teach you SOOOO much! You will realize that living with cancer and with the fear of recurrence is still living. And for that you should be grateful.

You will be given four....yes sons, who will fill your home and your heart that will challenge you, laugh with you, love you, and NEED you. You will get to face motherhood head on....and you will need His guidance and faith and Grace as you succeed some days, yet fall short on others. 

You will find your purpose in this. You will be pushed and you will be reluctant sometimes, but God will guide you. You will experience miracles. Yes, you will! Your entire being will change. Things that used to matter, won't. Grace will overwhelm you! And you will learn that the practice of it will save you. You will learn to forgive. Others. But most of all, you will learn to forgive yourself.

Put up your dukes....and fight like a girl! Hang tight to your Lord, because one will sit in a church pew and hear your brother say the words..."See Terri? You didn't have to be scared of cancer....God had it all along."

You can do this. You’ve got this. Saddle up for the ride and kick some cancer booty! <3


Future "5th year SURVIVOR" Terri

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Prom Prayer (Take 2)

I'm just not cut out for this, y'all. This mother of teens thing. Okay....I'm fibbing.  Actually, I love it. I thrive on it. I LIVE it. But, someone failed to tell me how my heart would RIPPED from my body at the thought of them growing up and leaving. My little self-proclaimed "momma's boy"...who followed me around in diapers, wet the bed until he was 7, who used to tell me he wanted to marry me when he grew  off at college.  In his 2nd year.  Thinking of spending the summer elsewhere to work. #bestillmyheart 

My baby girl. My best friend.  My buddy for her ENTIRE life. My human "day planner"...keeps me in line in her last 2 weeks of high school......will graduate in a month......and leave for college in about 4 months. At a mere 18 years old....she know EXACTLY what God has led her to do with her life and has her future mapped out to achieve it. So proud of her I could almost burst.  I love her guts!!!

And David, Jr....the fact that I'm honored to step in and get the last few years of his life isn't lost on me. He is a hard worker and has risen above so much in his short little life.  I'm quite certain I've learned more from him than he could ever learn from me. He, too, is counting down the days left of school....(loudly to me daily!) and has his college future underway. God has blessed me by letting me be a part of his present.  And his future. 

THREE in college. 

Wait, what???? Just stop already. I think I might just die. Like, right here.

I can't even remind myself that Tyler graduates next year....and then that will make FOUR?   Ummmm..not touching that one just yet. 

Scholarship applications, essays, graduation announcements, cap & gowns, Senior games......and this weekend:  Prom. 

For her:

The dress.  Oh the perfect dress, alterations, the right underwear, shoes, earrings, bracelet. 

The shoes. 

The makeup. (6:30 AM appointment...yes, you read that right...we would go even earlier for her magic!)

The hair.

The spray tan. 

The mani and the pedi.

The bootinere.

The tickets. 

The dinner.

Her sweet little date. 

For him:

The tux.

The right color tie...

The haircut. 

The shoes. 

The corsage. 

The tickets. 

The dinner.

And his sweet little date. 

When to take the pictures.  Where to take the pictures.  And what if it rains???

Even so...can't wait to get behind that camera on Saturday night! :)

What I really want to do is give them an 11:00 curfew and not let them out of my sight. I would SO drive them to and from!  God, please, please watch over these babies. Walk beside each and every one of them. While I want to be excited for them to make these memories and celebrate their graduation, I'm terrified as only a mother can the very depths of my soul and in the pit of my stomach. I trust my kiddos. With every ounce of my being. I do. But that doesn't mean I don't want to protect them and their future. And that of their friends.

I heard the other day an analogy that fits my fears as a mother. "A ship is always safe in the harbor. But that is not what the ship was built stay in the harbor." How true. I've done my job. In fact, I want to be JUST like my children, when I grow up. :) It is time to let them sail.....To let them SOAR! 

Why does it hurt so much? I may just follow them to Conway. Yes, that is what I'll do. I can just tell myself that to make me feel better for today....shhhhhh, its our secret.

But today, as my kiddos have so much on their plate in the next couple of days.....Pray with me the following:

The Lord's PROM Prayer

Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name....

God, You are holy in all that You do and in all that You are. Help us to see and live in light of Your holiness. I pray for the many students who will be celebrating with their friends at prom this weekend. I pray that as they enjoy the gracious gifts of friendship, laughter, beauty, and dance that they would do so with a renewed understanding of Your holiness. Help them to see that You have called them to be holy as You are holy. Give them the grace, boldness, wisdom, and conviction to honor You in all that they do while at prom.

Your kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven... 

Father, Your will for our lives and for all things is not just for Your glory but for our good. May You show these students that life lived within Your design is not just what is best for us, it is what is most joyful. May their wills be conformed to Yours as they make decisions about who they ask, what they wear, what they say, how they dance, and where they go afterwards.

Give us this day our daily bread...

You are a good and gracious Father and You love providing your children with good gifts. Help them to see the goodness of prom and how it truly can be a gracious gift from You. May they receive and enjoy this gift in a way that honors the giver.

And forgive us our we forgive those who trespass against us...

Lord, I know these young men and women aren't perfect. Help them to trust and treasure the truth that while their sin may reach far, Your grace reaches further. May they see that there is nothing they could do at prom that would disqualify them from being called Your beloved child. Help them to live freely and faithfully in light of Your limitless grace and forgiveness.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...

Father, You are well aware of the many temptations that arise during these festivities. I ask that You would protect these children from the temptations they face. Temptations of vanity, greed, jealousy, lust, drunkenness, and most of all, disregard for You. Keep them safe and deliver them from evil by giving them hearts that love You fully, minds that think of you deeply, and lives that follow You faithfully. 

For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever...

Lord, may You show them that while You are the God of the universe You are still the God of their prom. May they seek to honor, glorify, and worship you during this time. I pray this in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen! - 

For my David and my Sydney Clare.....I love you. Enjoy every second!!  

Sail, Soar, SHINE! <3

In Him,