Buffaloes and Butterflies

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Dear Lindsey,

When God gave me my little butterfly after my buffaloes, I remember thinking, Really? You think I can raise a daughter?!

Every book I read, I relate more to the men’s side. I am from Mars. (Women are supposed to be from Venus.) I am more like waffles. (Women are supposed to be like spaghetti.) And I am a buffalo. God gave me a butterfly?

Butterflies are beautiful! They pollinate the flowers, spreading the beauty. Of course, to my disdain, they’re dainty and stop flying at the slightest little offense.   Christine (now eight-years-old) fits the bill! She told me just last week, “Mommy, you should try a brighter lipstick. It would bring out your eyes.”  She has rarely worn anything but a dress because it’s all about “the look,” something I have yet to get—as she has pointed out.

Once when she was three, I took her to a nail salon (her dream!). She asked if she could sing for the lady next to us. She went from woman to woman, “pollinating” the entire waiting room. The smiles were multiplying!  But a little dust off her wing, and she is down for the count. My favorite was the night she woke me wailing from the top of the stairs, “Mommy! I have music in my no…oh…oh…oh…ose!” [her nose!]

She had the sniffles. (I think she meant to say “mucus.”)

Buffaloes, on the other hand, are tough-skinned, hard to pierce. They can carry a load like no other. Unfortunately, like a bull in a china shop, they can do damage simply by walking, unaware of the trail of destruction behind them. As a tomboy child, I braved the mean dogs by feeding them live locusts to keep my fearful brothers safe. Seriously. The buffalo in me wore an imaginary badge that said, “You can’t hurt me.” When in pain, I figured it was weakness that didn’t need to be shown!  I protected myself with a coat of humor, which hurt everyone around me, breaking the dainty down, one by one, without my noticing! I shudder to think of the more recent times when my daughter waited by the door for my return, holding her beautifully hand-made picture so she could make a glorious presentation, but I, unknowingly, charged past and asked, “Who made this mess?!”

While admiring my butterfly grown-up girlfriends’ “pollinating” smiles and friends surrounding them, I really wanted that. Rather than looking down on them, maybe I needed to recognize their strengths and emulate them!

When dealing with relationship problems, I began to see some of my buffalo weaknesses. Maybe instead of blaming others for being so sensitive, I needed to gain some of their ability to sense!  By saying, “You can’t hurt me,” I was really saying, “You can’t know me,” too.  Praying the Lord would reveal my blind spots to me, I was able see a glimpse of how I was hurting others, and I finally was hurting myself. (I felt it!) No polishing occurs without friction, and thanks to that friction within, my buffalo was beginning a kind of metamorphosis.

Now, I have come to the conclusion, that to have friends and keep friends, butterfly qualities of flying high and “pollinating” must be respected and emulated! Yet, to accomplish anything with excellence, the buffalo’s strengths of load-carrying and tough skin are required. Respectful of the strengths of both, I am able to become all God created me to be…in essence, a Buffafly.



27 thoughts on “Buffaloes and Butterflies

  1. Thanks Terri for this! I am just like you as I grew up a tom-boy and felt pain was weakness. I covered it up with humor also! It is such a blessing to be following you and seeing that someone who was like me, not a ‘girl’ at all! can grow into a beautiful lady and become a buffafly! I love that term! Thanks again!!

  2. Terry that was so insightful and true. Is it because we were raised with brothers? My mom was a butterfly, but I love the term you coined, buffafly. I’m going to borrow that one.

  3. Thank you, Terri. I share your sentiments exactly. I am working very hard to learn to be sensitive to my two butterflies, as well. I’m a bit of a buffalo, myself, so my two, very girly girls are a new experience for me. Thank you for sharing.


  4. I’ve seen both the butterfly and the buffalo in you and I admire each one equally. You are a beautiful and treasured friend and mentor. Love you 🙂

  5. Thank you T…I love your perspective leadership here…to embody some of all of the qualities needed to create a well balanced person who can reared to as many types of people as possible…

  6. Terri, I remember hearing this CD way back a few years ago and I could relate with you so well! It is still one of my favorites! I am totally on the buffalo side of the story but growing to be a ‘buffafly’ just like you! You are an incredible leader with qualities every woman strives to achieve. May God continue to bless you as we go to 1 million!

  7. Terri you are such a beautiful buffafly!! Thanks for being such an amazing example of what a wife, mother, and servant of His should be! My life is better for having you in it! Just know that this world is a brighter place for all the sunshine and joy you share wherever you go! Love ya! Thanks for the letter!

  8. Terri, thank you for all your words of wisdom that are so full of truth and love! And thank you too for giving so much of yourself to so many others. I can’t wait to read and learn more through your amazing stories! God bless!

  9. I really enjoyed this, too, as a tom-boyish girl. I mean, who else’s mom plays hockey, really! However my little butterfly is much more of a buffafly herself – “I don’t like princesses!” she just said last week, and would rather wear a Red Sox shirt than pink! I, too, am trying to find my inner butterfly.

  10. Terri, thank you for this post. I not only remember this CD but it is still in my favorite box to this day. Well I should say it was, because on Monday of this week while at a “we” show in Lake St. Louis, MO I had the pleasure of passing it on to a future buffafly. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the transparency you have shown through the years which allowed me to do more and get better.
    Loving You,
    Tina Abernathy

  11. Terri, Thank you for spreading your wings and helping me to see how I can let mine come out of the cocoon. You are a great example to us all. I appreciate your continuous support and tremendous insight! Love, Marcia

  12. It all started when I announced I didn’t want a doll for Christmas, but a pair of Lone Ranger cowboy guns and double holster! My mom tried to talk me into a doll so I said it would be ok to have one. I also liked to beat the boys in marbles and baseball (and she did my hair in ringlets) Later, she had me in all the dance lessons and other girlie things, so I was prepared when I had my own 3 buffaloes and 3 butterflies. I like to see how much you like to have fun with your kids and enjoy them! What a fun Mom! Hope to see you soon. Thanks for all you do for the Team! Love, Mary Ellen Robson

  13. I had not yet heard how you were dubbed ‘buffafly’ so thanks for sharing it again. Wow…….I can so relate to this story!!! Having grown up sandwiched between two brothers, I was hardly a butterfly! Now having a daughter in the same position, I am trying to learn how to celebrate the ‘butterfly’ aspect about her and becoming one myself. Thank you for your teaching and example. God Bless!

  14. I can totally relate! I think that there is a butterfly inside me somewhere, but she knew it was too risky to come out. My buffalo protected us! I think little tiny steps at a time, she may just start to venture out now.

  15. ditto… growing up with 11 brothers sort of makes you tough/ one of the boys or be injured… I raised my butterfly like a buffafly =( but now she’s finding her butterfly …=)
    ~love this story and have shared it many times, thanks Terri !

  16. Discovering my sister is a buffalo has made it a lot easier to love her. Being a butterfly who would take her criticism to heart, it made me feel inferior. But now, by reading, listening, and associating, I’ve learned that I must live my life for an audience of One. Orrin said “Let others criticize, let us serve, let God decide.”

  17. I’m forwarding this one (as I do every other!) to my daughter. She came after two boys and after reading this, see how much of a butterfly she actually is! As always, you are a Blessing to all of us, no matter what you call yourself!

  18. Pingback: Messy Memory Making with Friends | Letters to Lindsey

  19. I am a Butterfly & this is beautifully written! Sometimes I feel that I am too sensitive & would love to have some of the Buffalo strengths. I want to be more of a Butterlo! (By the way, I have met your little Butterfly & think she is AMAZING!! She is definately “called” to pollinate the world!!!)

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