Love Song for Mom

Dear Lindsey,

Motherhood has probably never been so gratifying as when my teen and adult “kids” collaborated and publicly performed a song about their love for ME!  (WOW! Video below.) Did you know (yet) that your kids love and appreciate you?! Let me tell you: they do! – whether or not they let you know.

Does your heart melt like mine when Garth Brooks and Scotty McCreery sing about their moms? It is as though we long to hear our kids’ feedback.  Will they ever IMG_4482notice our work?  Do they care about their exhausted, frizzy-haired “taxi-driver” yelling at them from the front seat on the way to the endless tournaments and practices?  Will their stiff hugs ever soften to enjoyment for longer than 0.25 milliseconds? Do my sideline cheering and encouraging words ever make it through their ears or make a difference? Do they know how much I love them? I think Scotty ought to be hunting my son down right now to get his hands on this song! 🙂

I have heard that the best way to tell your kids you love them is to have them overhearView album “Videos” you tell others how much you love them. (But beware:  I am guessing the opposite is true too – our kids feel unloved if they overhear us telling others complaints about them!) I got to experience this “indirect LOVE” first hand from my four kids when they sang to a crowd about their love for me! Not only did my oldest son write a song for me (WHAT?!!! And I am happy he has written many for his wife too!), but then he was sweet enough to invite his siblings to share the spotlight when they sang about their “first love” in front of a group of my friends at my 50th.

Girlfriend, this song is for YOU. Providing encouragement for the journey, it shows that

  1. Motherhood is valuable,

  2. Kids are thankful (even when they don’t show it yet), and

  3. God is raising our kids despite our failures! (Because the Lord knows there are many!).

These lyrics remind us that our calling in motherhood is so much higher and longer than the diapers and bottles.

Originally an idea of Casey and Nate (then ages 20 and 17) and sung by them for my 48thbirthday in the music nook of our house with our intimate family, this song made my heart melt right down my cheeks. What a special gift! They upped their game when the other siblings joined and sang for the crowd.

If you have read many Letters to Lindsey, then you are already acquainted with these singers from their younger years: The “Tea Party Fashionista” (Christine) starts it off with harmony provided by the youngest brother of “Fishing For Memories” (J.R.). Next up, “Ronaldo” (Nate) brings in the bass, while the “Pianist ” (Casey) closes it out with his turn on chorus. It was truly a magical gift from a magical bunch of young adults, all of whom I could not love more.

How could I possibly deserve a present so incredibly, over the top, untouchably, beyond-my-dreams perfect?! I couldn’t. I don’t. I still stand amazed at this gift.

Frankly, I still stand amazed that I get to be a mom – their mom. After years of infertility and then the later brain tumor, I don’t take the gift of motherhood for granted.  I wish no one would.

 

 

Love Song for Mom

By Casey Brady

Dec. 20, 2017

The first hand I held on a cold winter’s night

The first time I hurt, she held me oh so tight.

When I’m just not sure, she looks into my eyes,

She knows just what to say to make everything alright.

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a kiss goodnight, a sad goodbye and a hug that takes too long.

This is a love song for Mom.

When the laughs were all around, she was always smilin’

When the tears were fallin’ down, she’d have Band-aids on the island.

All the tournaments and practice, I don’t know how she did it;

But when she cheered, I tell you this, we knew we could win it.

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a kiss goodnight, a sad goodbye and a hug that takes too long.

This is a love song for Mom.

Birthdays, bikes and hard falls

Dirty clothes and soccer balls

Years of teaching right and wrong

Patience ‘cause we took so long.

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a kiss goodnight, a sad goodbye and a hug that takes too long.

This is a love song…

And I know wherever I may go, she’ll always be there for me.

The first love never truly fades away.

It’s a family night, a cherry pie, or a drive that takes too long.

This is a love song for Mom.

This is a love song for Mom.

©Casey Brady 2017

 

IMG_9348Now that young composer is married to a mom who will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day this week. If there were any line of the song with which I disagree (and it makes me cry every time), it is “patience ‘cause we took so long.” In retrospect, one thing is sure about this young man and his siblings’ childhood: it was a flash of time: a beautiful, God-painted, gloriously-colored, unpredictable, flash of time, and I thank God for allowing me to live it with them.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Terri

Col 3:4 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

For more music by Casey Brady:

 

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Wondering about Worth? (Virtually)

Dear Lindsey,
Being quarantined is HARD for someone who loves people!
Being quarantined is HARD for someone who hates to be in the same house with people!
It’s SUPER HARD when those people reside in the same body!

Being quarantined is difficult for someone who doesn’t like a governing body telling them what to do.  Being quarantined is frustrating for someone who can’t stand to have their hands tied when they need to be out working, supporting their family.  Of course, I haven’t named the sadness of not being able to meet my first grandchild (currently in NICU) or the confusion of nursing home residents who have no visitors or the unique seniors who are robbed of what might have been the best months of their school career. There are many unlisted singles for whom this is a miserable time of “alone” and “fear.”  I can’t even imagine  how difficult it is for the doctors, nurses, emergency crews and essentials that are on the front lines, risking their lives and their families’ to save others, when quarantining probably sounds pretty good to them!

Yep, it’s a tough time for many.

Yet, being the “non-essential” that I am, (😉), I have found blessings in the separation.  For example,

–      Without evening activities taking us from each other, we have had home-cooked family dinners every night.

–    The grandparents whose safety is the purpose of our quarantine are a blessing to have in our house!  This means my kids have learned toilet-flapper changing, trolling-motor fixing, masks-sewing, puzzle-assembling, and more from Grammy and Papa. They even made a step-stool from discarded wood scraps!  This down-time with grandparents will be remembered forever by my young teens. IMG_1385

–  Without our normal busyness, we have been able to escape to outdoor fun of fishing, campfires, tennis or just opening a long-awaited book outside while we soak in vitamin D! Oh… and naps.

But Life is Not About Alone Time

One of my favorite outcomes so far has been a music video project a couple weeks ago in which the kids and I got involved with church. The “virtual choir” came complete with a “virtual orchestra.” The people with whom I would normally rehearse at church every Wednesday and worship every Sunday got “together,” each in our own homes (or a couple using the church’s instruments), and recorded ourselves for the project.

The participants were frontline doctors, nurses, police and other “essentials,” as well as retired folks, elderly quarantined alone, young teens miserable without their friends, college students on forced furlough and the rest – all individually participating in this project in their free time.

As if learning the song to record alone wasn’t challenging enough for us amateur musicians, we actually had to get the entire house quiet for recording – even the dog! The struggle is real! AND they had to be silent long enough for several run-throughs of bloopers! (See my daughter’s blooper reel below; she was so gracious to allow me to share. We still laugh!) Eventually, we felt like our singing (or playing in my case) was “as good as it’s gonna get” and we submitted the recording to our music director team, who put all of the voices – instrumental and vocal – together for a song. Voila! “The Virtual Choir”.

Surprises of the project

–      I was surprised at how AWFUL I sound on my oboe alone on the recordings. The oboe is complete duck-quacking without massive control on my part – which only takes a portion of the duck away.  (Have you heard Peter and the Wolf? The oboe is the duck.) So when we add issues with the mic, surroundings and computer, it did NOT seem pretty!

–      I was surprised at how AWFUL I look on video. Playing the oboe is a kind of rigorous cardio exercise/abdominal workout, with limited oxygen depletions and simultaneous straining of overworked tendons. Sometimes my face looks like I’m painfully trying to blow a frozen banana through a milkshake straw, more than joyfully worshipping the Lord with “Disney eyes”! One of my favorite oboe solos is here if you want to watch – and see what strain in the face looks like, since I was too embarrassed to post my own. (haha!)

–      I was really surprised by how many others had the same worthless feeling when alone! I was amazed at the musicians’ group-chat of people who said, “I quit!” “I am never singing again!” “The church will never let me back in once they hear this recording!”

But what really surprised me about this project?  How AMAZING the final product of all of us together truly is. (attached below) The worship-full song brought tears to my eyes (and the tears were not because of how many times I had heard that same song that week!).

One of our church musicians, singer Jim Wetterau, summarized it well when he said:

“During this time of pandemic and required separation (euphemistically called “social distancing”) our lives as part of a group, both in church and in choir have been rather dramatically upended.
In that time, many found it interesting to see virtual … sessions of singers that were created to cheer us up. One of the most widespread perhaps was the group of Nashville musicians who created a [virtual] chorus of “It is Well with My Soul”.
Thus [our directors], Jon and Aaron presented the idea of our choir doing a [virtual] creation of “Is He Worthy?” And last week we got down to creating our individual parts and submitting them to create the Colonial Virtual Choir. It was complete with background track with click tones for timing and a very good set of instructions.
Then the fun began. I don’t know about you, but the first time I sang through the tenor part with my Nikon filming my contribution, it seemed somewhat unusual—and then when I watched it, it seemed worse. Aaron had advised us it would likely require more than one take, so I did it again.

At that same time, Terri Brady sent in part of her daughter Christine, fitfully breaking into giggles as she tried to sing “We do!”. Now perhaps I felt more like crying than giggling, but I appreciated exactly how Christine felt. I finally finished my take on the tenor part and uploaded it, thinking, that when someone watched it they would surely feel like deleting it and never seeing or using it again.
Then last Wednesday, Aaron played a small part of the vocal from the chorus and I thought, “Wow that sounds great.”
And I realized, we are more than the sum of our parts and we are meant to be stronger together. While an individual effort can seem weak or unworthy, when we band together as believers.. and a church, or a choir, the Holy Spirit is with us and strengthens us and makes us able to do the things that God wants us to do. WE NEED EACH OTHER! The mistake we sometimes make is to think we have to be like soloists. But it is often soloists who do not make good choir members because their voices do not blend. So rejoice in the unity and fellowship we have as a choir, even though temporarily a virtual one, and enjoy and appreciate the gift God has given us to raise our voices together in imperfect but joyous harmony.
Soli Deo Gloria”

When we feel unworthy, worthless and like never trying again in life, what might God be orchestrating with all of our “good, bad and ugly”? We can’t see THAT in our sole recording studio! I have heard the question from young and old alike. In their fit of despair, their feeling of making awful sounds in front of a “camera” – the lens of life – they say, “What good am I?” “What could I possibly have to offer?” or in the words of the elderly, “Why am I left here to be a burden to all of you anyway?” Yet in each one I see God’s creating His message in an overall symphony He calls life.

As a public speaker and as a church musician, I have often prayed before going on stage – not that I would have a perfect performance – but that God would change whatever reaches the ears of the listener for His perfect purposes (no matter the imperfect way it left me).

The song chosen for our first virtual project was ideal. It was not:

“Are we Perfect?”

nor “Am I worthy?”

But “Is He Worthy?”

“Do you feel the world is broken? …
Do you feel the shadows deepen? …
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? …”

The Orchestrator (this is my favorite paragraph)

This makes me think of my favorite lesson from this “virtual togetherness”:  God is not quarantined. As the song says, “All the dark won’t stop the [Light] from getting through.”  He can reach where He wants to reach in spite of laws, sicknesses and distance. He is not wringing his hands wondering what He could possibly do with this mess. His work can even go within the self-made walls of insecure people and pull out all of the yuck. He can work past our human limits of every little, stinking, ugly, very bad, flawed, mistaken, defective, imperfect part to show that yes! – He is able to build using even our scraps and make a masterpiece out of it all.  Is He worthy of all blessing and honor and glory? He is! Now, our job is learning to enJOY and give thanks in every day – the good, the bad and the ugly  – and trust He can use it in His beautiful overture. He is worthy of our all.

Andrew Peterson’s “Is He Worthy” by Colonial’s “Virtual Choir and Orchestra”

Is He Worthy? – Colonial Virtual Choir & Orchestra from Colonial Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Blessings,

Terri

1 Corinthians 12:14-18 For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

P.S. A second project was completed! “Behold Our God” by Colonial’s Virtual Choir and Orchestra:

Behold Our God Virtual Choir (Final) from Peter Scheibner on Vimeo.

At Every Funeral, There’s a Baby

“White Christmas,” at the local Performing Arts Center, a big birthday party for me, and my church’s Christmas music were all on the agenda this past December, when my dad came to visit. I had invited him to spend the winter in warm North Carolina to get away from the cold of Colorado.

 

The Stroke

But December 17th, a week after shows and two days after my birthday party, fate took a different turn:  Dad had a stroke which paralyzed his right side. My brother, Tim, who had just flown back to Colorado after the birthday party, got back on another plane to Raleigh to be with us. Larry headed down the highways from Pennsylvania.

Our dad was left in a hospital bed, unable to lift his right leg or arm. Fortunately, his mind was as sharp as ever. After a short 3-day-stay at the hospital he went to a rehab center to battle his way back to health, and my brothers returned to their homes. Dad and I enjoyed many conversations from that bedside, but the weight of the situation was always heavy in the background. “I bet you’ll never invite me back!” he often quipped during awkward times of me trying to get him to the wheelchair from the bed or watching an uncomfortable therapy session.  Of course, my invitation would always be there, but at that point, an 85-year-old half-paralyzed man getting back to Colorado seemed like a long-shot goal. The battle was on!

My brothers were good at keeping goals in front of him.

“We need you at the wedding in Atlanta in February!” Larry said.  (I put the 89DD5965-47F0-4DD3-8265-F1BA8EE1A0F3 2wedding invitation on his bulletin board as encouragement.)

“The Colorado sunset you love is waiting for you. Focus! Time to battle!” Tim encouraged.  (I put the sunset photo on his board.).

“I want your help planting my garden; you already helped me build the boxes!” (The sketch of the boxes wasn’t far away.)

One doctor actually made fun of me for “being a kindergarten teacher” of sorts, because of the way Dad’s board was decorated with goals.

Without vision, the people perish. (Prov 29:18)

Goals are important in everyday life but are more invaluable than most realize. Without something for which to aim, too many elderly succumb to focusing on ailments and doom, wallowing away their hours. I suppose without goals, the less-than-elderly focus the same.

After almost three months of daily therapy, plans were made for him to leave rehab and come live with me on March 10. He had worked hard! He was able to walk about 50 feet, carrying his dead leg while balancing weight on a walker.  (It looked like he had to carry an eighty-pound LOG with him everywhere he went.) It was tough! But he was such an overcomer – often telling me, “just doing my best with what I have. Angels can do no more!”.  The therapists gained new respect in my eyes, as they came back day after day for milestone after milestone. Move one finger. Now another. Now bend at the elbow. Now hold the spoon. Now use the spoon. His hand and arm had rehabilitated well, and he was even able to write with that hand on a wedding card that he sent to Atlanta, though unfortunately the rehab goals to attend the wedding were not met in time.  Unmet goals are tough, but he reset and continued the battle.

After his rehab discharge, it would be a short stint at my house, hopefully a couple weeks, then we could finish the journey back to his place in Colorado! A new ramp was built; his walker and wheelchair awaited in my guest room.

Another blow

We were all surprised when another illness attacked and on Monday March 9th, (the day before he was supposed to move in with me), he went by ambulance to the hospital. By that Thursday, they had inserted a breathing tube. They were able to safely remove it a day later, and an exhausted, sick father lay there in bed.  Tim and Larry had been summoned again from Colorado and Pennsylvania.  Covid-19 had not gotten to my dad, but its effects rampaged the hospital policies. We were limited to visiting one at a time and felt badgered by nursing staff who continued to adjust to new rules – and change them based on who was working at which shift. (One attacked me for wearing a mask. I was not sick, but had been around someone who was, so I had the mask on as a precaution. She felt better when I wasn’t wearing it. The irony killed me. I chalked it up for her own stress-level being higher than my own – which was reaching new heights as my dad’s health declined, knowing we were far from a Colorado sunset.)

By Saturday morning, March 14, my brother Tim prodded him, “Are you ready to get back to the battle? I need your help in my garden.”

“Yes,” my dad said and nodded, weakly since the removal of the breathing tube the day before had wiped him out. Tim reported the story to the rest of us so we could breathe a sigh of relief, awaiting our turns to visit.

However, that evening my exhausted father suddenly became very verbal. I have often joked that until my mother passed away five years ago, I did not know my dad could talk! (She is laughing at that in heaven while I type!) Especially in sickness, my father had been quiet and now talking was a strain. But this Saturday evening’s conversation is one that will be filed in my mind with meaningful memories:

“Will you help your brother plant his garden?” he asked me.

What?! Oh no! Should I say no? Should I tell him that he needed to get better and get out to Colorado and do that himself? Should I break down and cry in front of him or wait until I am out of his room? Should I be happy for him that he’s at peace to be at the end of striving? I knew this was a very loaded question: “Will you help your brother plant his garden?” Though I have had gardens, my brother would do just fine. This was my dad planning bigger things: planning his end of this battle called life.

I said, “Sure,” but to keep him talking (and avoid the ominous subject of his death) I asked, “When is the planting season in the Colorado mountains again?” I turned away from the bed to hide my wet eyes, and wondered if he had heard the crack in my voice.

It was then that my father spoke more than in the three previous months since his stroke. He told me row by row, inch by inch, day by day, every-single-bit of the garden. The “Ol Farmer” – as he often referred to himself, despite engineering and masters electrician degrees – could leave his Kansas childhood farm, but the farm could never leave him.  He told me at what store the plants should be bought and where to only plant seeds. He told me what could start April 1st– since it would last a few frosts before the seedlings grew – and which ones needed to wait till Mother’s Day. Three boxes in my brother’s yard came to his mind. Like an artist sculpting a masterpiece, he put peppers and tomatoes in the middle and worked out the details around them, row by row of carrots and okra (Who knew my brother ate okra?) and lettuces, finishing with the herbs that would help my brother’s chef-worthy meals attain their final touch.

He was no longer in that North Carolina hospital bed; he had gone to Colorado in his mind. And then his sun began to set.

For hospice (palliative care without the battle), my brothers and I took him from the hospital to my home – where he passed into eternity just five days later, on Wednesday March 18.

It was interesting and almost metaphorical that in his final hours, he was planting a garden. He was such a selfless man to the very end. He didn’t want to force us to make hard choices of feeding tubes or breathing tubes. He didn’t want to continue dragging us through the Covid-19 hospital regulations, nor linger in an ICU bed needing full care. He and my mother both had end-of-life plans established and advance directives on file, so my brothers and I were out of the decision-making stress.  But now, as he planted this garden, I could tell what was going on: his “ploy” of garden-planting was his taking care of me. He was communicating that life will go on, and he wanted to make sure I knew it.

It reminds me of a saying that he often said:

“Look around at every funeral, and you will see a baby.”

God’s not done.

 

Twenty-three years ago, we were laughing at my father’s fat belly, often the subject of jokes. (He always carried his weight there like Santa Claus and always had a good sense of humor about our jokes.) When I was 12-weeks pregnant with my first, my mother took a picture of Dad and me belly-to-belly. We laughed!

IMG_1114

Me! 12-weeks along with my first, Dec. 1996

Fast forward twenty-three years, and that baby boy has grown up to be a fine young man, married to a wonderful young lady. This past fall, while my dad was at my house, she was 12-weeks pregnant, and we decided to take the same picture… and we laughed all over again. My dad laughed that he hadn’t given birth in twenty-three years! He was so excited to be a great-grandfather again, and was always asking me about the condition of “Hezi” (his name for in-utero babies of our family).

IMG_9504

My First’s wife, 12 weeks along with their first, Nov. 2019

 

Just two weeks after Dad’s passing into heaven – where he no longer carries a dead leg or heavy arm nor strains to speak or breathe – his first great-grandson, Marshall James Brady was born. The timing didn’t work out for Dad to meet this little guy outside of the womb, but like the garden he planted in his final hours, Dad’s life continued – in the lifeblood of a newborn.

Ironically, born seven weeks premature, little Marshall currently resides in the NICU of the same hospital where my father was just over the corridor in ICU weeks before. Now, the pandemic rules have been narrowed to allow zero visitors, so I haven’t met my 2-week-old grandson outside of FaceTime yet. My prayers have changed from my father’s lungs, to this five-pound guy’s lungs, and the new life they represent.  Though I will miss my dad, I am grateful for the memories.  I thank God for the looking-forward I have in being a grandma. I look forward to Baby Marshall healing and getting out of the hospital, because after all, I will need his help in my garden!

IMG_3217-1

And one day, when Covid-19 quarantining is done and we are able to gather for a celebration of my dad’s life – what some would call a “funeral,” – there will most definitely be a baby there. As with so many of my dad’s lessons for me in life: he was right.

In gratitude,

Terri

John 14:2 “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” – Jesus Christ

 

 

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In the “Celebration of Life” for my dad:

The Heartbeat of Fishing with Dad

Dear Lindsey,

My dad called that fall and said, “If I were to go to a fly-in fishing lodge up in northernmost Canada, would you consider going with me?”

I replied, “In a heartbeat!”

At 82, he knew it might be a once-in-a-lifetime, and I was so grateful for the opportunity.  Like listening to a teen practicing music, he was saying, “I love you,” the way a dad does, and I hoped I could scream it back to him.

At 79, he had lost his youngest (my little brother) and the following year, his wife (my mom) and one year after that – to the day – his own mother passed away at the age of 100. My grieving dad and I would probably do well with some time under the northern blue sky, while the worries of the world vanished in a small boat’s wake.

“You’re the only person I know who actually likes fishing,” he said. “Most people only like catching.”  Haha! We both related to boats full of kids waiting for us to do the work. For him, I had been one of those impatient kids.

Every year of my childhood, my family took a two-week fishing vacation (Six of us and a dog in a camper that comfortably slept four Munchkins). Whether in the boat or on land I always loved to have my line in the water.

IMG_7909My dream of a northern lodge trip with Dad was probably birthed by my younger brother Mike. Once, he had shared with me his written goals, which included taking Dad on Dad’s wanted fly-in fishing trip. I was always trying to horn my way in on that idea, haha, and I didn’t realize Mike had never mentioned it to my father.  Mike’s passing was a surprise to us all, but then his missed dream of the trip was a surprise to my dad. I think this Canada fishing trip might be deeper than the lakes on which we rested.

Adventure of Getting to “North”

I flew from North Carolina four hours and two time-zones to Denver, where my dad lived. The following day, we flew (through directionally incorrect Seattle) 7 hours to Saskatoon, SK, Canada. There, we rented a little Suburu SUV, (“Four-wheel-drive is necessary,” we had been told.) and after a night in a hotel drove straight north 3.5 hours (half-way to the North Pole, I am sure) to a very random boat dock with a plane attached. Cell signals long gone, GPS had been replaced by hand-written notes of a phone conversation between my dad and the destination nine months prior.

As I drove, the rain poured and mud thickened. I worried I could not stop – or mud would prevent our re-start. Barely seeing any cars during those hours, I knew if we did get stuck, we would beIMG_7922 there a long time, missing our floatplane’s departure. At times a truck would come in the opposing lane and send shivers down my spine at its closeness. Once, a tanker which was literally in a sideways slide, forced me to move over – trying to control my own slide. My pounding heart caused my Fitbit to congratulate me on a good workout! Dad was calm. He always was.

Like many good journeys: the worse the drive, the more worthy the destination.

Nature lined both sides of the mud road. The further north we went, the more lakes, the less houses. Less people.

Finally, we arrived. We assumed we were at the right dock with a white floatplane and awaited the pilot who would take us to the much-anticipated destination: Lawrence Bay Lodge.  When we exited the car in the mud-filled parking area, the elements hit. A cool mist engulfed my breathing, but my mouth was not properly filtering out gnats… or were they mosquitos? I went into the floatplane’s “business office,” a dilapidated trailer- similar to the one of my childhood – but with duct tape holding its indoor stairs in place and buckets catching the incoming rain. This was the first bathroom we had seen since Saskatoon. As I ventured in, I realized that this bachelors’ (plural) pad had not heard of Clorox. I wondered if this would be the condition of our week: bachelors, duct tape, mosquitos, and lack of Clorox. I tried to toughen up. UGH.

The pilot arrived at the dock; my heart was having second thoughts. As the storm picked up, the pilot wondered if it was safe to fly. (Note: if a floatplane pilot is wondering if it is safe to fly, it is NOT.) I was fine with taking the small rowboat with the Mercury attached, but the pilot told us that it would be an hour-long very wet, very bumpy [and mosquito-y] ride.  We waited in cars to see what weather would do. I missed my weather app – and my house.

The storm lifted slightly and they rushed us along with other arrivals into the floatplane trying to get up and back down before the wind picked up again. This was my fourth takeoff and landing in 48 hours, and by far the roughest. However, we stayed low under the clouds – and in our short, fifteen minute flight saw miles and miles of lake beneath us.  Weather has never stopped me from looking forward to fishing.

 

The plane landed more smoothly than its flight, and the Lawrence Bay Lodge welcomed us with its gorgeous, enormous log-cabin lodge with a lake view. One of the smaller cabins to its right became ours for the week. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw running water… and smelled Clorox. 🙂

Fishing Like No Other

The weather was cold for June, but not for Canada. Before leaving North Carolina, I had IMG_0646checked my weather app for LaRonge, SK (as far north as the app recognized civilization) which predicted several days of unseasonable 40’s (F) and intermittent rain, followed by sun reaching into the upper 70’s by the end of the week. I debated on packing a poncho versus raincoat and ended up bringing both – in their tiny little packages, a size to which they would never return.  This extra raingear was a blessing of the week, as my father had only packed using the 9-month-old hand-written paper weather forecast from the phone conversation which said, “Usually 70’s by June in Canada.” (We laughed at the error, because we decided my mom would have brought seven coats and fourteen sweatshirts in case anyone else in the camp needed one. Haha!). Dad and I bought matching sweatshirts at the Lodge, a perfect layer under the raincoats. (Dad actually melted one of the raincoats standing too close to our cabin heater after fishing one evening! It was cold!)

But we hadn’t come for a fashion show, nor for the good weather. We had come to fish. In particular, my dad had always wanted to catch one of those monster forty-inch northern pikes. The following morning at 6:30, our daily wake-up-call took root: a knock at the door presented us with coffee and hot chocolate, already poured into individual cups, delivered by one of the lodge owners. After a hot breakfast in the dining room, we met our personal captain in a little rowboat with a Mercury at the dock by 8:00. A pure Cree IMG_7954Indian, Vince followed the path of both his father and grandfather as a fishing guide. The recent loss of that grandfather patriarch often brought his name to conversation during our long days on the water.  We asked Vince how he could possibly tell the difference between the thousands of islands he navigated, and he said, “It’s in my blood,” with a wry smile, of course. He knew the type and size of fish by the way it hit the line – long before we saw it. He liked to play a game that he would tell me what time it was – when he didn’t have any timekeeping device in his presence. He was always within 15 minutes of my dad’s watch. Every day was a different location, and every day was a LOT of fish. My father regretted that we didn’t keep a count!

“Fish on!” I excitedly said within minutes of dropping our rattle traps into the water behind the trolling boat that first morning. Lake trout were incredible fighters compared to the Carolina bass to which I was accustomed. At around 11:30am, Vince said, “Let’s keep the next one for lunch.” We did.

Pulling up to a dock-less island, Vince found a somewhat flat spot and began to build a fire where one had never been. “I’ll give you a dollar for every bone you find,” he said with a smile while he filleted the fish, using the oar as his cutting board. (No Clorox needed. No dollars either.) He opened an old coffee can, revealing a bag of flour, a small vial of oil, a can of beans and some chopped potatoes. He then set a pan on top of the fire, put in some oil, added the potatoes and floured fish and put the can of beans in the coals alongside to warm.  Within minutes, we had a perfect lakeside picnic. Vince often filled his drinking cup with water from the lake, but brought us bottled, knowing our stomachs weren’t as prepared for lakewater as his.

The afternoon was much the same… fish on! When we arrived back at the dock, Dad and I were ready for a nap before dinner and early bed!  The next day, we moved from trout to pike. Vince cut the bait and told Dad the best place and hook action to use. When the first forty-inch-er took Dad’s line, he leaned back so far to set the hook, I thought we would lose him in the water! Dad reeled with might and the fish made its way to the boat to pose for its obligatory picture. If my dad had a bucket list, the forty-inch pike was on it. He had caught three by week’s end.

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Nature and Stories

Like a good guide, Vince told entertaining stories. He talked about his grandfather and told tales of each of the islands (whose identity was a blur to us). (I have often wondered if fishing guides and taxi-drivers just make up stories on a daily basis and watch their audience’s reaction as they spin their yarn.) Once we found a plaque on an island, giving it a name. I wondered out loud how someone could claim one of these islands as their own to name. It certainly felt like “no man’s land” to me.  Regardless, at the end of our trip, I sent a plaque to Vince, so he could place it on an island of choice, “naming it” after his grandfather.

Along with our fishing and shore lunches, we encountered nature’s animals. We promptly renamed seagulls as “freeloaders.” Each day, when we would pull up to a random island for fire-building and lunch-cooking, there would be no gull in sight. But by the time Vince’s knife had finished its first swath, there would be twenty-five seagulls ready to freeload on scraps that he discarded into the water.

One day at lunch, we picked a sandy area with fewer trees and brush to dig. Vince IMG_8032exclaimed something, and we came looking to see a fresh bear print right where we were gathering wood! (I wondered what my Fitbit thought about this workout.) At that point, I would have preferred a different location altogether, but Vince – in pure Indian style – assured us that the bear was gone, “probably a kilometer away.” When we were departing our lunch site, he pointed up to the side of the hill above where we were, and there was the bear, still ascending.

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My favorite animal encounter was probably when an eagle (of which we saw many!), practically crossed over the front of our boat in pure flight. Vince caught my attention, giving me just enough time to snap a picture. Isaiah 40:31 came to mind. “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

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There were other nature differences between northern Canada and where I live. For example, the sun never sets! Well it set, but it did so after I was in bed and starting to gild the sky by 3:30am, complete with the escort of birdsong. (Birds must need less sleep in Canada!)

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3:59am sun rising

 

Similar to the event during our harrowing drive, at several points during our week, I noticed my Fitbit congratulating me on a workout! Ha! Workout? I had sat in a boat with a fishing rod in hand! Maybe it was picking up that my heart rate would accelerate at the fun of catching the fish?! After all, the data shows it to be active only during the hours of our boating! I don’t think my heart chose favorites – whether the fish was on my line or his. We both enjoyed it either way. I suppose my heart rate graph was just a visible proof of the gift of fun I was having. I hoped my dad’s graph would look the same.

IMG_7995Agenda

My dad and I spent many silent hours together. No internet, no phones, some books. In the comfort of a good relationship, we often just sat in silence. I enjoyed watching his joy of fishing. Each evening we had a magnificent dinner at the lodge (This was no bachelor pad!) and heard the fish tales of the day from others in the camp. We then retired to a game of Scrabble before an early bed. Every day. For seven days– before our long trip back home. It was amazing.

I know many daughters would prefer a fancy place, something to dress up for, people to meet, award-winning meals and jewelry. But I got such joy out of the simplicity of life and the love language of most kids from their dads: T.I.M.E.  The lull of the engine motor. The look of the wake vanishing into the glistening water. The peace of silence… with Dad.

Dad and I weren’t betting people, but we did have fun wagering a dollar:

  • For the first fish: me IMG_8137
  • For the last fish: Dad
  • For the biggest fish: Dad
  • For the smallest fish: me
  • For the greatest variety: Dad (trout, walleye, pike and a white fish, which put scales all over the boat!)
  • Dad won a dollar.

Scenery, wildlife, sport and restoration for our souls: it was truly a wonderful vacation I will never forget. If my brothers, kids or husband ever ask if I want to go back, my response would be the same, “In a heartbeat!”  I think when I do, I will bring along a plaque to put on an island somewhere to name it in memory of Dad.

Blessings,

Terri

The Fish:

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The Scenery:

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Other Letters in Memory of Dad:

The Best Present: Being Present

Dear Lindsey,

“Sometimes I feel like… somebody’s watching me!” so the song goes! I loved when my husband put that as background music on Instagram (@CBrascal) to a video of my dog watching him through the window. LOL! Is there ever a time that “I feel like somebody’s watching me!” is a good thing?

YESSSS!

-when parents watch their kids! I don’t mean watching them at the playground to keep them safe, (though they should). I don’t mean watching kids do their chores (though I suppose it’s one way to make sure it’s done properly).   I mean a distinct moment in my teen years, when my dad’s love transcended responsibility.

At seventeen, I was a serious musician, though I would not have described myself that

sax pic

2016 Church “retro” band

way. My music teachers would tell me that they had practiced 6-8 hours/day, so my measly 2 seemed like I was less than a musician, but looking back, I realize that I could probably have called myself a musician anyway. There were many hours up in that bedroom on my saxophone. Whether it was preparing for a competition, learning new music or just enjoying music the way I do, I was alone. A lot.

The first day it happened, I was taken off guard. My dad came into my room and sat on my bed, waiting for me to finish my song. At a break, I asked what he wanted. His reply made me laugh at the time.

“Nothing. I am just here to listen.”

If my dad were a musician, I might have thought he had ulterior motives of judging me.  (because don’t all teens feel like they are being judged?) But this is the man who said he had no musical ability, because he had given it all to his kids. He often quipped that the only instrument he played was the radio.

 

“Listen to what?” I asked.

“You,” He said.

“Me? Do what?”

“Play the saxophone.”

“Well, what do you want me to play?”

“A song. Or scales. Or whatever you want. Just go on. I am just here.”

 

So I began to play. Doesn’t someone’s enjoying what you enjoy make what you enjoy so much more… enjoyable?

I am no linguisticologist, but I do make up words like that one. Similar to en-courage in a former letter, “En-joy,” seems like it would mean “putting joy into” something, although its meaning usually implies getting joy out of something. My dad’s “enjoying” my music was actually “putting joy into” me. Don’t you just love that?!

Kids spell “love,” “t-i-m-e”.  One author says that speaking love to kids doesn’t mean just spending time with them but spending time with them doing what THEY love. My dad’s time that day was stopping his busy schedule to join mine. We weren’t playing duets. He wasn’t giving me requests. He was “just there.”

This habit of him sitting on my bed while I practiced became a daily event. I would go through more songs, more scales, more ideas, just to have him stay. Soon, he added requests, “I’ll buy you a steak dinner if you learn ‘Yakety Sax!’” I loved the challenge, even though I didn’t play that kind of saxophone.

Eventually, he joined my world in a different way.  To wish me luck on a performance, he would sign my saxophone reed before I walked out the door. He chose the words: “Good luck, Saxy Lady,” which made us both laugh.

I doubt my dad loved scales. I don’t know if he loved a saxophone playing alone in the house.

But I know he loved me.

Now, when I read my daughter’s writing, watch my son’s soccer workout, see my youngest soar in the air on a wakeboard or listen to a story that I don’t quite understand all the way, I often think of my dad. I hope my love as a parent speaks as loudly as my dad’s: “Just go on. I am just here.” Being present is the best present.

 

 

Blessings,

“Saxy” Terri

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The Robber in the Church Choir

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Dear Lindsey,

The robber was next to me in choir. Church choir, no less.

I had just come back from the funeral – of my 28-yr-old friend. I was still in a grief fog, when I realized it was Wednesday night, which meant choir rehearsal. Though I didn’t feel like singing, I knew there were SO many nights of practice when I rehearsed to minister to people, but truly was the receiver of the ministering. This night, I needed it.

I went and quietly took my seat; nobody would have known the pain of my week, since I was relatively new to the area.  We started practice with a song about heaven:

No more night, no more pain
No more tears, never crying again
And praises to the great, “I am”
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb

My tears welled as my grief overflowed my eyes and spilled into praise. My friend was already there! No more night, no more pain!

The salve to my soul washed over me, and I got lost in the thought of the “coincidence” (=”God-incidence”) that we would be singing that song that night.  I could feel the healing while I was surrounded by music, as if a choir of angels was lifting me out of the depths of sorrow and into a sea of joy!

…until the woman next to me put flies in my ointment.

“I hate this song,” she said simply.

I don’t know if she hated the lyrics.

Or the tune.

Or maybe the style – maybe she was wanting the more upbeat song at that moment.

Or maybe she had had a really bad day.

I don’t know, but I do know: she stole my moment.

Our attitude is more than just the lens through which we see our own lives; it’s more than the “difference maker” in our future business endeavors; it is the weapon the robber uses to steal and destroy those around us.

It’s not that it is so difficult to have a good attitude, it’s just that it is so easy not to.  Like an “unattended car” picking up speed downhill, attitudes can tend that direction.  I can be ready to tell the world about Jesus one minute and then ten minutes later, complain about how the grocery item I thought was on sale is not.  After hearing my complaints, those listeners probably would not be saying, “Tell me about your Jesus.” Or “Tell me about…” anything.

Some of my mom’s best advice when I would be fighting with my younger brother could be applied to all leaders: “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”  I suppose that applies to grocery sales and church songs as much as my brother.

Before I close this letter, my 14-yr-old daughter just suggested that this story should have more of what should be done instead of only what shouldn’t. It reminds me of great parenting advice, “Don’t say ‘don’t,’ say ‘do’!” Okay, then:

To have a good attitude, do:

  • Be grateful. (As the saying goes, “What if you woke today with only what you said ‘thank you’ for yesterday?”)
  • Ask yourself “Will this ‘problem’ matter five years from now?”
  • Replace the negative with positive actions or words – and shine them on those around you.

And don’t be a robber.

Blessings,

Terri

Phil 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Related Letters

Reserved for Bob

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Dear Lindsey,

Anyone who fishes knows that fishing with kids is a totally different game. I love having my kids along, but when the boys were 6 and 9, their tangled lines, broken lures and snags on land-growing trees usually took so much of my time that I didn’t get to fish.  So for Mother’s Day one year, my husband treated me to a 4-hour fishing guide in the Florida flats!

I began my search for a fishing charter captain at my favorite tackle shop, closest to our house (in Florida at the time). The shop-owner was on the phone when I arrived, so I busied myself looking at the shirts and hats bearing the store’s name. That’s when I heard him on the phone saying (ironically!), “NO!!! Don’t make me take that charter! I hate fishing with girls! That’s torture!”

I quietly left the store, never booking the trip, unbeknownst to the man who missed the sale. (and missed the sail – if I wanted a pun. 🙂 ) He doesn’t know what he missed!

Another marina I really liked, Jensens on Captiva, was a bit of a drive (or boat) away. On 9865605_orighot boating days, our family would often stop there for ice cream or a soda. There was a sign in the parking lot that said, “Reserved for Bob.” I didn’t know who “Bob” was, or if it was a joke, but he seemed pretty important to have his own professionally-made sign.

The man at the counter was excited to help me when I told him I was looking for a fishing guide. I asked if I could take my 6 and 9-year-old boys, and he said that some captains prefer no kids, but he thought “Bob” would be fine with it.

“Bob”? THE Bob? I booked, “Bob,” for the following Thursday at 7am.

The day arrived, and Casey, Nate and I loaded up the car, while Chris stayed home with the still-sleeping toddlers. We arrived dockside by 6:50am, so we wouldn’t miss any minutes of our fishing day! The boys and I loved to look at the live bait in the outside wells there.  Fishing captains came in fancy sea-going boats with outriggers galore and outriggers_trolling_spread_how-to02stocked their live-wells with the baitfish, while their clients loaded. Groups of men and even a few couples came, found their assigned captains and loaded their chartered boats for their day at sea.

We waited.

I built the boys’ dream, “Imagine what we could catch today! Do you think that one will catch a big one?” I asked, pointing to the largest of the pin fish in the bait well. That’s when I noticed things were getting quiet at Jensen’s Marina. It seemed like all of the fishing boats had come and gone.

We waited.

Finally, at 7:30, thirty minutes past our meeting time, and eons since the last captain had left, I decided to ask if we were in the right place. The man behind the desk said, “Oh… Bob. You have Bob? Yeah… he’ll be here.”

I took this to mean that Bob was “usually” late.

Doubting began. I didn’t doubt that Bob would be there; I doubted that he was a good captain for our boat. “Usually” late? Wait – is that why he needed his parking spot reserved? Ugh.

Maybe he is the last on the list to take people out – and that’s why he got “stuck” with the “girl” and kids. Reality came to mind that this could possibly be a total scam. They just got some homeless guy and said I’d give him money if he pretended to fish for the day.

We waited… impatiently.

7:37. An unfitting boat pulled up to the dock near where we stood. The boat looked older than I. Ten years of grime had changed its color, making the original undistinguishable. The morning’s dew combined with the previous day’s slime to make a nasty swirl and stench. A dead crab and another unidentifiable animal lay in the corner where they had slid when the boat moved. The driver was probably fifty, but difficult to guess because of his sun-beaten skin. No hat. I wondered what this man was doing at a place like Jensens. Gas, I assumed. Yep, he filled up while the boys and I watched and tried not to stare, looking into the horizon for our chartered captain’s arrival.

little-fishing-boat-stranded-wet-sand-low-tide-90786222

Not really Bob’s boat, but…

He finished his gas duty, then turned to me and said, “You all can load up.”

Wait. What? Get on THAT thing?! This is “THE Bob”? No way. Can’t do it. Dis-gus-ting!

“Great!” both boys shouted and ran to his umm… boat.  I must admit, I was so turned off, but noticing how my boys were not made me try to adjust my attitude so I didn’t ruin theirs.

“Bob,” he said, offering a hand as we climbed aboard.

“Casey,” the 9-yr-old said, taking his hand and giving it an enthusiastic shake.

“Ronaldo,” Nate said, since that’s what he wanted to be called those days. (See the story in my previous letter.)

“Terri,” I said, not offering to remove my shoes like normal boat protocol. I didn’t have to ask how he knew that we were his clients. We were the only “mom and two kids,” on the dock. Well actually, we were the only ones on the dock.

We set out into the water, when I realized that we didn’t get bait. Maybe he caught his own? I had a glimmer of hope that he knew what he was doing.

“Did you want to get live bait?” I asked, gesturing toward the dock we were leaving.

“No,” he said simply, not giving me the satisfaction of an explanation. Just, “no.”

He drove and the devil and angel on my shoulders conversed across my brain, attempting to win the battle for my attitude and belief that this day would be worth the money.

I couldn’t believe it when we stopped the boat still in sight of Jensens. I had been there a million times. We were not trolling like all of the fishing boats I had seen leaving the dock earlier.

He took out the “bait.” It was not alive. It looked like a hook from Walmart on which he had painted a head with red nail polish and an eye of black marker. $0.57 for a pack of ten, I cynically did math in my head. He put NO bait on this homemade “masterpiece,” just threw it over the side of the boat. I was getting mad at his lack of aptitude as a “professional”.

“I got something!” Casey said before the second line could go into the water.  He reeled in a ladyfish. I chuckled at the luck of it… first cast!

I enjoyed his excitement while “Ronaldo” dropped his unbaited hook over the edge.

“Got one!” he yelled, while Bob worked at returning Casey’s fish to the water.

Do fish like red nail polish? Or Walmart hooks? Who knew?!

I dropped my line in to the same success. “Fish on!”

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

“We’ve never had a day of catching like this with YOU, Mom!”

Ouch. That hurt.

Other boats were making a beeline for our area. Big fancy ones. Trollers with high bridges.  Boats full of men out for the day headed toward our little spot in view of the marina.

Nothing.

They caught nothing! All their live bait, all their fancy apparati, and they caught nothing.  (Why did I sinfully enjoy that?!)

“Let’s feed the dolphins,” Bob said.

I thought to myself, You gotta be kidding. You have baitfish somewhere on here, but you are giving it to the dolphins instead of using it to fish?!

That’s when Bob took Casey’s latest ladyfish off of his line, walked four steps to the other

dolphin s head in the surface

side of the boat, and held it over the side. A dolphin magically appeared and jumped out of the water for the fish.

We caught fish on the left and held them as snacks for the dolphins on the right for what seemed like hours. I felt like I was in some “Snow White does SeaWorld” dream.

Bob is a fish-whisperer!

However, ladyfish are easy and common. They don’t fight much. (I always thought “ladyfish” was a misnomer for that reason.) They are perfect for kid fun, but not good eating for anyone but dolphins.

“You like snapper?” Bob looked directly at me.

“I like fish… any kind!” I said, beginning to crack a smile.

He moved the boat over what felt like ten yards (or was it a circle? I don’t know: it all looked the same, still in sight of the Marina), and tossed in the same nail-polished bait, waited a minute and fish-on!

The tug was different, definitely not a “lady.” Sure enough, the red color could be seen through the water. Snapper for dinner! We caught those till we had enough when Captain Bob said, “Let’s see what the mackerels are up to today.”

“Casey and Ronaldo, the way we catch a mackerel is different than the others,” he explained in a full-out knowledgeable tone. Maybe he wasn’t a random homeless guy! “We can’t just drop the hook off the side of the boat. We’re going to cast it as far as we can, then jerk it up and down with the biggest arm motion we can make.”

“Ronaldo” went first. Bob did the casting to get it a good distance from the boat, but my son did the yanking – up and down and up and down. It looked like some kind of weird African dance that would certainly be too jerky for a fish. Then…

“ZZZZZIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG!” something hit and RAN! (or “swam?!”)

“Mackerel.” Captain Bob said, not showing much emotion, not even adding the “holy” in front of it.

Nate reeled and reeled, but the zing of the line indicated that the fish was still swimming away and not getting any closer to the boat.

“Come on, Nate! You can do it!” I cheered from the boat.  This fish had to be a giant, the way it was fighting!

“I thought his name was Ronaldo?” Captain Bob gave me a strange look.

“Nickname,” I said, baffling Bob, I am sure.

Nate reeled and reeled and eventually, the fish succumbed to his beckon. A mackerel, just as Captain Bob predicted before the cast.

We cast.

We caught.

We cast.

We caught.

ZIIINNNNGGGG! Over and over.

 

The four-hour-trip felt like thirty minutes. We headed back to the marina, which I could still see!

The dolphins followed us a bit before heading off to the ocean. As we approached the

white and grey pelican perched on red railing

dock, pelicans came and landed right on our boat! (I couldn’t help but notice they were not on anyone else’s boat!) Captain Bob pulled up to the fish-cleaning table and the pelicans practically got in line behind him. (I couldn’t help but notice nobody else had fish to clean.) Bob threw the scraps the pelicans were expecting.

Without looking up from his cutting, Bob said nonchalantly, “They’re gonna lose their bait.”

I looked around wondering who he meant and whether I was supposed to do something. That’s when out of nowhere, an otter exited the water, climbed onto the dock, then onto someone’s empty boat, opened their cooler with his nose and began taking the bait out – one fish at a time!!! WHAT?!  How did Captain Bob know? How did he see the otter coming? How did he know that boat had something in its cooler?

I asked if I should stop the otter from taking the fish, and he said something like, “If

dewgong on body of water

they’re dumb enough to leave their cooler unlocked, then they deserve it.”

I blackened the mackerel on the grill for dinner. Yummm!  Well worth its price!

Fish

Dolphins

Pelicans

Otters

The kids and I had the time of our lives! Bob is a genius! He deserves a parking place of his own!!

Besides the fun animal-sightings of the day (including a raccoon on our early morning drive), there were other takeaways for me:

  1. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a captain by his boat – or you might miss a really great story!
  2. Don’t ask someone to guide you, and then doubt their every move. Why bother having a guide if you know everything? Enjoy the ride, and judge the catch.
  3. When people start doubting my own guiding, I can give them some grace; afterall, I have had my doubts en route to my “Reserved for Bob” sign.
  4. Girls can fish too.

 

Love ya,

Terri

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John 21: 3-7: 3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No,” they answered.  6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Making of a Name

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Dear Lindsey,

Six-year-old Nate spoke from the backseat of the car, with his take-charge voice, “Mom, can we stop at the name-changing place on the way home today?”

Stifling my laughter with my mom-smile, I asked him what he meant. He clarified, “I’d like to change my name, so if we could stop by there, I’ve decided what I want it to be.”

You’ve got to love his choleric style! No apologies for dissing the name that my husband and I painstakingly decided hours after his emergency birth on the hard-wood floor (a whole story in itself!). No sandwiching it with, “I love the gift of the biblical name, but I was considering I might take a new one.” Simply, “Let’s stop by that ‘name-changing place’ so I can do better.”

“What name would you want instead of ‘Nathaniel’?” my curiosity was piqued.

With the sincerity of asking a waitress for salt, he said, “I want to change it to Ronaldo.”

Today, I barely have to describe who Ronaldo is, but in 2006 when this statement occurred, Cristiano Ronaldo was just coming onto the scene of our newly formed soccer-fan eyes. Nate was sure he was worthy of the name.  I hated to shatter his dream. “Sorry, bud. There is no such thing as a name changing place. But if you want that to be your nick-name, you could probably just start using it and see if it sticks.”

We pulled into the IHOP parking lot.

With Chris gone on business, the kids and I enjoyed a morning out. We ordered our food and began some intense coloring on the kid-menu placemats to entertain the 1 and 3-year-olds while we waited. An older woman watched from the adjacent booth. I wondered if she was musing about her own motherhood memories. I wondered if I would ever have time to muse.

She interrupted our coloring.  “What a lovely family,” she said.  My kids sat straight up, basking in her attention. “What are your names?” she asked with a smile.

“Casey,” my oldest, age 9, said with the confidence of the man of the family that morning.

“Steen,” Christine answered in her 3-yr-old lisp.

“mm mm,” JR, less than two, shook his head “no,” unwilling to speak, so I said, “J.R.” for him and removed the two fingers from his mouth where they tended to reside in shyness. She touched his curly hair in admiration before looking anticipatingly at Nate.

He cleared his throat and paused a second. “Ronaldo,” Nate said with a matter-of-fact-announcing tone.

I choked. I didn’t want to explain to her his real name and hurt his feelings; I didn’t want her to see me laughing and think I was making fun of something. So, I smiled what I am sure was a bigger-than-normal smile, a dam holding back the flood of a story.

She repeated the names, as if pensively pausing on each one: “Casey, Christine, J.R. and Ronaldo.”

Could she tell one was different?I wondered and then dismissed the thought.

“It is SUCH a pleasure to meet you. You be good for your mama and enjoy your breakfast. Thank you for talking with me.” She left.

From that moment on, all of his first-grade math papers bore the name, “Ronaldo.” His water bottles were labeled with “R,” instead of “N.” He never corrected any of us family from calling him Nathaniel, but any time he introduced himself to strangers, he confidently let them know his name was the same as his hero of the time, “Ronaldo.”

I don’t really remember how long the “Ronaldo” name thing lasted, but long enough that it still brings a smile.

Fast forward to August 2017, when Nate (age 17) was invited to play with the Generation Adidas team in Madrid, Spain. Because he was going to Europe anyway, a friend thought Nate might be a good fit for a team in France who was willing to take a look, so Nate headed over a few weeks early to play in France. Not knowing a lick of the language didn’t stop Nate any more than not knowing that name-changing places are not on every corner. The international language of soccer sufficed. Whether France or Spain, one word seemed to be spoken when people saw him: “Ronaldo!” Ironically, Nate’s looks (and hopefully soccer playing) remind many of Cristiano Ronaldo. Nate didn’t tell them his “secret name,” haha, it was just said… a lot… to his face and behind his back. He didn’t know French or Spanish, but he knew the name, “Ronaldo,” in every language.

From youth, Nate has spoken of going to play professional soccer in Europe. His entire life has had many early mornings of watching games from faraway time zones.  (I used to think he was going to have a British accent, because he always played with his soccer guys toy, as a British commentator!).

Speaking it into existence, Nate is currently today on his first leg of the journey, the flight to Paris. I suppose that could be a metaphor for his adult life. This “first leg of the journey” will begin in St. Brieuc, France, where he will live and train with the ranks of the soccer club, Stade Briochin.  Our friend, Dario Brose played there during his professional soccer career and thought it would be a great fit for Nate. His crash course in French is underway; his new cleats – including the required soft ground ones – arrived in time for departure; and my eyes are a little blurry while I write. I am excited to see what time will tell as he branches out to “make a name for himself.”

In a letter I hid in his suitcase (maybe he will find it after he reads this blog, haha), I told him that this is truly an answer to prayer. I didn’t pray that he would move thousands of miles away from me. I didn’t even pray that he would have a career in playing the sport he loves. I prayed that God would make him a man after God’s own heart in whatever His ways are. I am excited He chose soccer. I am proud of the man who is going to the other side of the ocean to live what God intended him to live and be who God intended him to be. After all, one day, some little boy somewhere might ask his mom to change his name to Nathaniel…. like the soccer player…and the one in the Bible. 🙂

Love ya,

Terri

John 1:47-48 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said to him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” and Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

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The Book is Here!

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Audiobook Available: Letters to Lindsey

L2L Audio

Hey!

I just wanted to give you a heads up that the Audiobook of Letters to Lindsey is available! Imagine: driving around town, pop in the CD’s, listen, laugh, cry, and don’t wreck!  Though I had fun making the recording by reading aloud the stories of my children as, well, children, (since now they seem so grown up!), the MOST fun was listening to KIDS read the fun kid quotes from the book!

“Why didn’t you have your own kids read the quotes?” someone asked. Well, because my “children” are MEN! and have men’s voices now! My youngest (age 13!) plays the part of the oldest in the readings, but the younger quotes needed some voiceovers!

Here is a snippet of one of the readers, Teylyr Frey, knocking it out of the park by reading a couple “kid quotes” from the book.

I hope you enjoy the book… again –  in audio form!

 

Happy listening,

Terri

 

My Rain Beau

 Para español, haga clic aquí

“Why is high school graduation something to celebrate? It’s not a big deal. Isn’t it just expected?” my 17-year-old innocently asked while I ordered graduation announcements for him.

It reminds me of my 25thwedding anniversary (today). It’s no big deal. It’s just expected, right? I almostlet it go at that, and then I realized there is so much to be thankful for, why NOT celebrate? BIG?

With failed marriages rampant, often to NO FAULT of one side, I don’t want to make anyone feel sadder than they already are. With early deaths of several close friends in the past decade, I think of those widows/widowers and don’t mean to “rub it in,” that Chris and I have had each other for 25 years.

However, when the LORD blesses me with someone as awesome as Chris, I don’t want to miss the minute to praise Him for this gift I call marriage. I want my kids to see the “expected” outcome of two and half decades together and see it as something which they desire too.

As we took off for a three-day local excursion (after we finished at the soccer game, church and theatre responsibilities), the rain started joining us. Then the sun came out. We heard thunder in the distance. So much for our convertible plans!

I searched for rainbows in every direction – thinking with that kind of weather, there had to be one somewhere. Sure enough, it began to appear. My sunglasses made it brilliant before Chris could see it – or my camera could capture it. We continued driving down I40 toward 64 out of town, and the rainbow brightened – to where Chris could see it from the drivers’ side.

As if knowing I wanted the picture, God provided a perfect snap-shotable view straight ahead – as if we would be driving right to the pot of gold at the end of the bow (which had multiplied to two). IMG_1438

Of course, the metaphor for our anniversary trip was evident – even in the first 45 minutes of the drive. The beauty of a rainbow doesn’t exist unless there are both rain and sun. The beauty of marriage exists the same way. Our ceremonial wedding vows even said, “For richer, for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health…till death do us part.” Maybe I could rewrite them, “For downpours and sunny days, for distant thunder and the after-storm-peace, for tornadoes and the solace of sunsets, I hope we reflect the Light of many colors.” Many storms come and go without rainbows; many rainbows take a hunt to find, while others jump out in the middle of the road, but their rarity make them more valuable to find.

I look back at twenty-five years and see poorer years, and richer ones. Worse years and better ones. Sickness and health. And I thank GOD that He hooked me up with Chris Brady for every one of them. The colors were so much brighter when we were together, even when sometimes we couldn’t quite see the bow.

I look forward to the next 25 and beyond reflecting His light into magnificent colors TOGETHER.

It’s expected, but never taken for granted, because every day we’re given is no small deal.

Happy anniversary to the love of my life, Chris Brady.

Love,

Terri

bear hug b & w

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